Star Trek; Deep Space Nine
Blood Island

Chapter 3

(When reading this, please remember this story takes place during the early part of season one of DS9)

Dr. Julian Bashir could not keep his eyes off the digital clock display inside of the infirmary. The one hour to two hours Sisko gave him, were running out. A quick message from Odo had alerted him that the Minister's ship was to arrive in mere minutes.

Bashir obviously preferred a more controlled research, but it was clear he wasn't going to get the time he needed. He looked up from the diagnostic computer, and over to the Bajoran girl who was very sick.

Dax assisted Bashir by analyzing the data as well.

"We're not going to be able to do this are we?" Bashir asked Dax.

Dax looked up at the clock as well. "I'm afraid not Julian." Dax replied softly.

"If I only had a day, or two, Jadzia, I know I could break this." Bashir said as he walked over to the little girl.

Neline opened her eyes, and looked up at Bashir. Even though she was very young, she could tell that Bashir felt guilty for not helping her. Before she had been too weak to speak with Bashir, but Bashir's efforts had stabilized her enough for her to make a slight improvement.

"This happened to my mother as well," Neline said with a smile. "Please don't be sad Dr. Bashir. This is the will of the Prophets."

Bashir took her hand in his. "Your mother had this virus before she passed away as well?"

Neline nodded slowly. "Yes, my father has it too. But he lives on the Island. I've been living with my Aunt Jenia for the last year or so. I hope they don't punish her or my dad for letting me live there."

Upon hearing the mention of the Island, Dax stood up and came over to where Neline and Bashir.

"What is the Island?" Dax asked the girl in a friendly tone.

Neline smiled, and then she coughed a little before continuing. "The Island is where people like me go. My father and brother are both there. It will be good to see them."

Bashir and Dax walked away from Neline's bed as one of the nurses tended to her.

Dax, looking confused, spoke in a soft voice to Bashir. "She isn't making that up," Dax said, "I know, I've been a mother before."

Bashir nodded in agreement. "On Earth, centuries ago, they had Leprosy colonies. Sometimes they were on remote islands. Anyone who was inflicted with the disease would be sent there for the protection of the rest of society."

Dax shook her head in disbelief. "Why wouldn't the Bajorans tell the Federation of such a place, and let our science cure these people if they can't?"

"Maybe their afraid it would upset their entry into the Federation. They're probably hoping these people will all die before that happens. By then it could all be swept under the rug." Bashir concluded.

"Why not just cure them?" Dax asked. "I can't believe Kira would go along with this kind of conspiracy. Why would she? Why would anyone condemn these people to death?"

Bashir shook her head. "I am not sure Jadzia. From Neline's words I can only gather that her father left her with his sister, Neline's aunt, trying to hide her from the authorities while he and the son went back to the Island. I wonder what Kira would have to say about that. It would seem as if leaving the Island is against the law."

"We should take this to Sisko." Dax said. "He should know, immediately."

Bashir nodded. "It may not be enough. But I swear to you this," Bashir said to Dax, "I will not let that little girl die. And I will risk my career if I have to. And I will not let Major Kira, or Commander Sisko, stop me."

Commander Sisko's office was becoming very small. Sisko felt the situation with the little girl, an unknown virus, and the Bajoran stonewalling, was starting to spiral out of control

Sisko sat behind his desk. Behind his back, on the larger screen, was the image of Admiral Satav. She was one of the Surgeon General's administrators. In front of Sisko were Dax, Kira, Bashir and the Bajoran Minister of Science; Jerev. He was an elder Bajoran male who, Sisko surmised, was very thoughtful, considering the circumstance of the meeting. The pleasantries were exchanged, and finally Sisko brought the meeting to the point.

"What is the Island, Minister?" Sisko asked directly.

Minster Jerev thought for a moment, then responded. "It is a place that we Bajorans are greatly ashamed of." The guilt was very apparent on Jerev's face.

"I understand." Sisko replied.

Jerev went on. "During the occupation, there were Bajorans who collaborated with the Cardassians. A great deal of these collaborators came from the upper economic classes of Bajor who, for decades, used their power and influence to help quell much of the resistance, and inform on those who were active in it. The Cardassians moved these Bajorans to one of the large Islands off the coast of the southern continent."

"Don't mince words Minister," Kira interjected, "they were traitors."

Jerev nodded. "This fact was not lost on the general population. Near the end of the occupation, which most people saw coming with or with out Federation involvement, the Cardassians increased their exploitation of our resources, and in a bit of irony, they turned on their Bajoran collaborators."

"The Cardassians infected them with a virus." Kira added. "Only those who dwelled on the Island, this Island of traitors, were infected."

Bashir cut in. "That little girl down there in the infirmary was not a collaborator, Major."

Kira nodded, "No, but her parents were. The virus infects the children of these traitors, Doctor. Had her parents not sold their souls, she would be living a normal life."

"Are we all responsible for the sins of our fathers?" Bashir asked pointedly.

Jerev picked up Kira's line of conversation. "The disease is fatal, there is no cure. It can only be passed through common sexual contact, or through the exchange of blood." Jerev stated.

Sisko spoke. "Are there elements of your population, with this disease, which are not on the Island?"

Jerev nodded. "Yes, there are, we estimate, nearly a ten thousand or so. Laws have been passed requiring these Bajoran citizens to turn themselves over, and any infected child, for transport to the Island, so as to halt the spread of this disease."

Admiral Satav spoke from the screen. "This is deplorable information." She said, almost as if she were scolding Jerev. "These people are being persecuted for crimes that are not only unproven, but so are their children who couldn't have possibly been part of any travesty against the Bajoran people."

Kira cut in, "With all due respect, Admiral, the only way they could have gotten the disease is if they lived on he Island, fattened with all the food and wealth they were accustomed to, and protected by the Cardassians for their traitor driven acts."

Sisko cut in. "Major, if I were a Bajoran citizen living in the house next to yours, and you found out that I had this disease; what would you do?"

Kira looked to Sisko. "I would turn you into the authorities. The danger of the disease is real Commander."

Sisko nodded in agreement. "I have no doubt that it is. But there also seems to be a belief that those who get this disease are doing so not only for their acts during the occupation, but also due to the will of the Prophets. So, there is a minority population you have problems with, due to their conspiring with the Cardassians, and it is being wiped out and the reason no one really seems to want to stop it is because it is their destiny to die; their punishment. That isn't right."

Jerev could see where the conversation was headed. "Commander, Admiral Satav, these people are not being herded on the Island like animals. They are well cared for, and our doctors on the island are trying to find a cure."

Admiral Satav nodded in agreement. "That may well be the case, Minister. But who is making sure that their efforts are not clouded by the majority's perception that this virus is the act of the wormhole aliens."

"You mean the Prophets." Kira corrected her.

The tension in Sisko's office ramped up after Kira's pointed observation.

Sisko, attempting to bring the conversation back from the brink, spoke. "May I make a suggestion?" Sisko said to them all. "I suggest we send Doctor Bashir, acting as the child's physician, and also protecting the Federation's interest in this matter, back to Bajor, and on to this island as an observer."

Jerev nodded hesitantly. "This is agreeable, Commander Sisko, as long as we are all in understanding that his report, which ever way it goes, is not binding on my government in any way."

Sisko turned back toward to the screen to face Admiral Satav. "What about that Admiral?"

The Vulcan Admiral thought for a moment and the she agreed. "This is an acceptable mediation," Satav stated, "I would agree to such an arrangement as well provided that Doctor Bashir is given full access to the Island and it's medical procedures, so as to qualify the statement that all is being done to save these people."

"Excuse me," Kira stated obviously to Sisko, "isn't this borderline interference and in direct violation of your so called Prime Directive?"

Sisko met her glance with his. "We are all dancing on the edge of the abyss here, Major Kira. Too much effort has gone on between our two governments to allow this doubting of each other's intent to make this situation even worse than it is now."

Kira nodded in agreement. Then she looked to Jerev. "Very well, but I would like to accompany Doctor Bashir down to Bajor to protect Bajor's interest in this matter. And I would like Lt. Dax to come as a moderating influence."

"Do you trust her to be impartial?" Jerev asked as he looked over at Dax.

Kira looked at Dax, and nodded in the affirmative. "Yes I do," Kira said to Dax, "yes I do." She repeated, looking then to Jerev.

"Very well," Sisko said as he stood up. "Doctor, go ahead and prepare your patient to be transferred to the Minister's ship."

"Yes, sir," Bashir replied, and then the young doctor looked to Minister Jerev. "Minister Jerev, I can tell you really care about Neline's condition, so please do not take away from this that I doubt your intentions. But I have seen politics interfere with the practicing of medicine before, and usually what is good for patient is hardly considered a deciding factor."

"Thank you Doctor Bashir, "Jerev said as he shook hands with Bashir. "I trust you will come to the right conclusions."

Sisko watched at the others filed out of his office, all of them heading to Bajor to bring the matter, to what would be, a good conclusion.

The door to his office closed, and Sisko prepared to sit behind his desk to attend to some administrative work, when he saw that Admiral Satav was still on the screen.

"Commander, if I may make a couple suggestions." Satav said.

"Please, go ahead." Sisko replied.

"I just read about your unique situation on Deep Space Nine only an hour ago. Until now I had no need to." Satav said. "But logic suggests that your, how should I put this, your connection to the Bajoran people is not how I would describe as ordinary."

"That is very true, Admiral." Sisko replied.

"As a Starfleet officer, and as a religious icon," Satav stated, "your actions on any matter pertinent to Bajor will always seem to blur the line, no matter what actions you take."

Sisko nodded as he spoke. "I am well aware of that."

Satav pressed on. "That is good to know since our own Federation past is replete with actions by Starfleet officers that not only blur this line, but cross it most definitely. The massacre at Onessa-7 being one, and the incident at Andrews Colony a century ago, being the other, are the most obvious in relation to this situation."

Sisko smiled, as he did when he was trying to make a point with those who found issue with his unique duty to Starfleet, and his growing importance to Bajor. "Admiral, I understand that delicate balance. There are those in Starfleet who have made their case that I should resign my post, due to the closeness I have with the Bajorans. But, right now, at this time, I believe I am in the perfect position to act in each of these roles, for the greater cause of both."

Satav did not bat an eye brow. "That brings me to my second point; commander. You're primary duty on Deep Space Nine is to prepare Bajor for eventual inclusion in the Federation. These kinds of unforeseen events are only going to make that task more difficult."

Sisko did not like the implication of her statement. "Admiral, as you just said, this was an unforeseen event. And, if you look at our progress, in the short time we have been here, you will see we are progressing."

"Perhaps, Commander," Satav replied, "but recent outspoken elements of the Bajoran Vedek assembly, chiefly those comments made by Vedek Winn, might make one wonder if this progress faces turmoil in the near future. Bajor's admission into the Federation is, according to my contacts in the Federation, far from certain. You might take this into consideration in your dealings with the Bajorans." Satav nodded quickly, and then the communication ended.