Ward of the Prophets

Prologue

Spaceman41

Disclaimer: I don't own anything of DS9 – I just like to play around.

Season Four – Between "Way of the Warrior, Part II" and "Crossfire"

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Odo sat in his officer trying to read the weekly security reports that came into his office from Starfleet Command. Today, he could not concentrate. His thoughts kept returning to one person.

The one person who was so utterly intoxicating, but so obviously off-limits. The person who was so beautiful, smart, spunky, and so able to take on anyone or anything that would challenge her.

That one person was Major Kira Nerys.

Odo did not know how long he had been in love with her. He did realize that it was very possible that he had always been in love with her, but had only just realized what those feelings were. He had been thinking a lot about her in the past several months; more so in the past several days.

Of course, he also realized that his feelings for her could be just another adaptation to existence as a humanoid.

Whenever the reason, the feelings were genuine. He was sure of that. He was in love with Major Kira.

Obviously, he had said nothing to her. They were friends and he could not hope to anticipate what her reaction would be. Still, living with the hidden feelings he had for her was getting harder and harder with each passing day. He did not know what to do, nor whom to consult.

So he sat in his office, trying to read security reports, and thinking about Kira.

"Dax to Odo," came over the COMM.

He sat up straighter and, for a moment, was unsure where to direct his eyes. He noticed humanoids tended to look upward, but that was ridiculous. He just stared out his door, unsatisfied with his options. "Odo here," he replied.

"We've got a Bajoran transport vessel being tractored to Upper Pylon Two. It just came in from the Gamma Quadrant. We need you to meet us there with a security team."

Odo stood up, anticipating his departure. "What seems to be the problem, Commander?" he asked.

"It's a standard Turan class vessel, normal compliment of thirty-two. The problem is that there's only one life sign aboard, and it's not Bajoran.

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Odo and his security team met Captain Sisko, Chief O'Brien, and Lieutenant Commander Dax at the airlock of Upper Pylon Two.

"Two teams. Dax, Odo take a team to the lower decks. O'Brien and I will start with the Bridge. There were thirty-two people here. Let's find out what happened to them. Move out!" Sisko ordered.

One of the security guards opened the airlock. Sisko led the way with a phaser rifle in hand, ready to fire. Chief O'Brien followed him into the ship. After the security guards, Dax, Odo and two more guards followed Sisko's lead. Sisko's group took a right at the first junction.

Odo took the left, with Dax and the two guards close behind him. He led the way through the winding corridors as Dax attempted to locate the unknown life form.

The unknown life form aroused his curiosity. He also had a bad feeling about it. The ship came from the Gamma Quadrant. He could smell a Dominion trap, but desperately hoped he was being pessimistic. There were thirty-two Bajorans on his ship. He hoped their names would not be added to the list of casualties of the war.

He looked around the corridor. One would expect it to be dark, hazy, smoky, or to have loud klaxons blaring, or bright lights flashing. There was none of that. In fact, the air was clear, and the lights were bright. One would have expected bodies to be strewn carelessly across the deck. There were none. The ship looked fresh out of space dock, not four years old with a mysteriously missing crew.

"Where are the bodies" Dax asked aloud, as more of a rhetorical question than a realistic on. She glanced around. "I don't mean to be morbid, but there were supposed to be thirty-two people on this ship."

Odo shook his head while still looking around for potential dangers. "I was thinking the same thing," he reassured her. He often noticed that humanoids felt better it they were thinking the same thing as others. Though, not everyone was like that. Kira did not care was others thought. She almost wanted to be on the outside.

"How did the ship get back here?" Dax asked aloud again.

Taking another right, Odo answered. "Perhaps it was the one unidentified life form."

Dax nodded as they continued down the bright corridor. Whenever Odo glanced back, he saw her relaxing visibly. Her surroundings were becoming less and less frightening, so she was beginning to let her guard down. He did not think Kira would be letting down her guard. She was a fighter, and would become even more suspicious.

Odo liquefied his inner layers for a fraction of a second; the Changeling version of shaking the nonsense out of him. He needed to focus. He needed to be on his toes. He needed to be alert. He needed to be ready for anything.

"Odo," Dax said, getting his attention. She had stopped moving; he turned and closed the gap between them slightly. "I think I've got something. I'm picking up our unidentified life sign. Its ninety-four meters from our current position in the Cargo Bay."

Odo taped his COMM badge. "Odo to Sisko. We've located the life sign in the Cargo Bay. We are closing in on it now."

"O'Brien and I have reached the Bridge. It appears that the autopilot has been engaged. Internal sensors still can't identify what's down there, so be careful. Don't take unnecessary risks. If there's problem, hold position and wait for backup," Sisko answered with his typical commanding voice.

"Don't worry, Benjamin," Dax replied with a playful tone. "We'll be careful."

"Make sure you do, Old Man. Sisko out."

Odo and Lieutenant Commander Dax proceeded to the Cargo Bay of the empty vessel. Odo could see Dax slowly tensing as her anxiety levels rose. His mind wandered to Kira again. He thought of Lwaxana's last visit and how people were becoming randomly infatuated with others. Dax was infatuated with Captain Sisko. Was it really possible for two friends to simply change the nature of their relationship so abruptly?

More importantly: could Kira ever love him the way he loved her.

His mind, once again, returned to the matter at hand when he, Dax and the two security guards reached the entrance to the Cargo Bay. They paused at the door.

"There are large amount of Kelbonite in there, they must have been shipping it. Tricorder functions are limited, so I can't get a clear reading. I do know, whatever it is: it's in there," Dax said with a deep breath.

The guard keyed the appropriate controls and the doors slid open. Odo stepped in first, followed by the guard, and then Lieutenant Commander Dax. He was once again surprised by the calmness of the unassuming vessel. The lights were bright, the air was clear, and nothing appeared out of place. He remained cautious, as a shapeshifter, he knew not everything was exactly as it seemed.

"Doesn't exactly look light a disaster zone in here, either," Dax commented in a voice filled with attitude.

Odo nodded as he went straight down an aisle. He knew the others were splitting up behind him. He kept making eye contact on the others, he had to protect them. It reassured him that, despite her comments, Lieutenant Commander Dax was being extremely cautious. He liked protecting people, but he also liked people being smart, and protecting themselves.

He wished he could protect Kira. He already did, to an extent. But, that was not enough. He wanted there to be more between them. He needed there to be more.

As he continued down the aisle, a large bronze container caught his attention, and broke his concentration on Kira. He approached it slowly. It was large, large enough for several hundred liters. It had a large base, and a narrow top, with an open viewing window.

He peered through the eye-level hatch. "Commander!" he called after seeing the contents.

Dax and the security guards rushed over, hearing the urgency in his voice. "What is it?" she asked. "What's in there?"

"Perhaps you ought to see for yourself," he stepped aside and motioned for her to look. "I believe I've found our unknown lifeform," he said as she approached the hatch.

Lieutenant Commander Dax peered inside the container carefully, and gasped at what she saw inside. It was a child. A Bajoran child.

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