The First Tile

The First Tile

Hi folks. Last week, the fan-fict epic "The First Tile," written by

Jessica Krucek and myself hit the Internet, and it's still making a

splash. A few people have told me, however, that their news readers

ate parts of it before they had a chance to download it. For those

folks, and for anyone who missed it the first time, I'm posting an

encore presentation of "The First Tile" on the newsgroup

"alt.startrek.creative."

The story will also be serialized on "alt.startrek.uss-amagosa," as

two of the main characters are regulars in that setting.

Nuff said! :)

Richard Pugh

=======================

Star Trek: The First Tile

Deep Space Nine / Next Generation / Amagosa crossover.

by Jessica M. Krucek and Richard J. Pugh

Two Trill starfleet officers, Jadzia Dax and Nedian Jarok, return to

their homeworld to thwart an apparent Dominion plot to destabalize

Trill society. What they find is even worse than that. And for the

troubled Jadzia Dax, the real conflict is not without, but within.

This story is rated PG-13 for strong language, violence, and implied

sex between consenting adults.

The Star Trek continuum was originally created by Gene Roddenberry,

and is the property of Paramount Pictures of Los Angeles, California,

USA. The two writers of this story are not in any way affiliated with

the estate of Roddenberry or with Paramount Pictures.

The following characters are owned by Paramount Pictures, and are used

here without concent: Jadzia Dax (and former hosts of Dax), Julian

Bashir, Kareel Odan (and former hosts of Odan), Beverly Crusher,

Verad, Ben Sisko, Mareel, Arjin Lesal, Lt. Reis, Odo, Miles O'Brian,

Keiko O'Brian, Kira Nerys, Worf, Molly O'Brian, Garak, Leeta.

The following characters are original and are the de facto property of

Richard J. Pugh and other members of the Internet Star Trek Society:

Nedian Jarok (and former hosts of Jarok), Tie Miri, Alcot Tierel,

Alizia Tierel, Reginald Parker, Francine Chevitz.

All remaining characters are original, and are the joint property of

Jessica M. Krucek and Richard J. Pugh.

Any comments, pro or con, about this story should be directed to

either of the authors. We hope you enjoy it.

Jessica allronix@ix.netcom.com

Richard rjpugh@ids.net

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

|Richard J. Pugh, MLS | Traveling Eternity Road, |

| RJPugh@ids.net | What will you find there? |

| RJPugh@aol.com | Carrying your heavy load, |

| PUGH.RICHARD@epamail.epa.gov | Searching to find, a peace of mind |

| http://www.ids.net/~rjpugh/ | - The Moody Blues |

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

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From: rjpugh@ids.net (Richard J. Pugh)

Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative

Subject: The First Tile - 1 (PG-13, DS9/TNG/Amagosa)

Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 02:10:02 GMT

Organization: Posted via CAIS Internet info@cais.com

Lines: 67

Message-ID: 4s1o1a$891@news2.cais.com

NNTP-Posting-Host: va169.idsonline.com

X-Newsreader: Forte Free Agent 1.0.82

"The First Tile"

by Jessica M. Krucek and Richard J. Pugh

Chapter 1

Prologue: The First Tile Falls

"You have a row of dominos set up; you knock over the first one, and

what will happen to the last one is that it will go over very

quickly."

-Dwight D. Eisenhower

*They've got me* he thought as he sped through the near-empty streets.

Ducking down the alleyway, his hand pressed over the computer slip in

his jacket. The information that shouldn't fall into the wrong hands.

He dashed into an alleyway, temporarily safe from his attackers.

*I have to reach the others, tell them that the Azure Guard is coming.

That they know about us.*

A phaser burst whizzed past him. He gasped, and bolted out of the

alleyway. His predators were not far behind.

He leapt on top of a brick-walled flowerbed and started to climb over

it. His attackers followed like a pack of wild cats, swiftly cornering

their prey.

Finally, he saw the city park. Safety. If he could just reach a way to

escape to the tunnels. They would never look for him there.

He heard their footsteps on him, and another shot whizzed past his

ear.

A grating! This led to the tunnels, and safety. He could see from here

that it was unlocked. Just a few meters more, just a short distance to

run.

His ribs were aching, and his lungs were seared by cold night air. His

legs ached from dashing. Just another few steps...

A loud *crack* echoed in his ears as searing pain shot through every

cell in his body like fire. He didn't even have time to scream before

he blacked out and hit the ground.

Two other men approached, the smaller one holstering his phaser. They

wore functional security coveralls with a bright blue sash crossing

the chest and encircling the waist like a belt. The other whipped out

a small device. Activating it sent a blue light running down the man's

temple and neck, the attached computer carefully noting the pattern of

his spots.

"It checks out."

The larger knelt near the fallen man, and activated a wrist

communicator. "Sergeant Jone Ren to Dispatch. Termination in Sector

Five, near the park. Identification confirmed. Eri Kotel. Known

League Agent."

The smaller man had reached inside Eri's jacket and pulled out the

small PADD. The words at the top read: Passenger and Crew Manifest,

*TMS J'Tallak.*

Hooking it to his own PADD, the smaller man downloaded the

information, then dropped Eri's datapad next to him. He nodded to his

partner.

"I've got it. Let's finish up here."

The larger man nodded and got out his phaser, adjusting it to a higher

setting. With two shots, the datapad and Eri's body were

dematerialized.

Continued...

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

|Richard J. Pugh, MLS | Traveling Eternity Road, |

| RJPugh@ids.net | What will you find there? |

| RJPugh@aol.com | Carrying your heavy load, |

| PUGH.RICHARD@epamail.epa.gov | Searching to find, a peace of mind |

| http://www.ids.net/~rjpugh/ | - The Moody Blues |

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

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From: rjpugh@ids.net (Richard J. Pugh)

Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative

Subject: The First Tile - 2 (PG-13, DS9/TNG/Amagosa)

Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 02:10:04 GMT

Organization: Posted via CAIS Internet info@cais.com

Lines: 583

Message-ID: 4s1o1j$891@news2.cais.com

NNTP-Posting-Host: va169.idsonline.com

"The First Tile"

by Jessica M. Krucek and Richard J. Pugh

Chapter 2

Part One: Lifepaths

"Swordlady, valiant, no matter the foe...

Boldly you ride out beyond map and chart -

Why are you afraid to open your heart?"

-Mercedes Lackey "The Swordlady" (or "That Song")

Deep Space Nine, Bajoran Sector.

"...Happy birthday, dear Molly

Happy Birthday to you!"

Molly O'Brien filled her small cheeks with air and puffed out all six

of the candles on her birthday cake. The small gathering of people

cheered and clapped.

"She's got her dad's lungs, not doubt about that," Major Kira Nerys

cracked.

Keiko laughed aloud. "Oh, you bet she does, Major. She and Miles

both get a little loud when they get crabby." The look she shot her

husband assured him that she was only giving him a bad time.

Keiko cut the cake, and gave the first slice to Molly. Before she

could serve the rest of the guests, Molly had already inhaled her

cake, and was playing with Hattin, a Bajoran girl her age. Hattin had

already broken into Molly's new clay, and was enthusiastically rolling

another huge glob to Molly. It wasn't long before Bajoran and human

girl were in the process of building imaginary monsters, then smashing

them again with a glee rarely found in people past their age.

Keiko reached down and grabbed her daughter's shoulders. "Molly,

honey, what do you say to Major Kira?"

The little girl looked up at the tall Bajoran major. "Thank you, Major

Kira."

"Much appreciated, Major," Miles said. "Molly couldn't get enough of

it to play with on the *Enterprise.* Darn near broke the replicators

making the stuff."

"I'm glad someone can use it. I'd be glad if I never saw it again,"

she shrugged. "So much for following my *d'jara.*"

Miles smiled. "I'm just glad you didn't go back to it. Would be a

shame to lose you, sir."

Nerys smiled. "No one's more glad than me. I was a lousy sculptor."

Julian Bashir had been watching from a corner. He put the plate of

cake back in the replicator, and walked over to watch the two girls

playing with the clay.

"I'm still rather surprised at how a modern society could still *use*

a caste system," the doctor said, following the conversation.

"It used to be thought," said Nerys. "That the *d'jara* was

genetically based. The Prophets programmed you for a predetermined

task. The better your genetics were, the more blessed your clan was."

"Not terribly logical," muttered Miles. "I mean, who's to say whether

one person's lineage is better than another's?"

Julian laughed. "Chief, about that. I'd like to talk to you about that

Crusades program you have in the holosuite..."

Miles twisted his face into mocking rage. "Think the game was fixed,

Arabian infidel?"

"No," Julian commented in between chuckles. "I plan on beating you

next time, Christian invader. I'll have my best stallions and sheiks

ready for you."

"I dare you to keep the holy land," Miles said with a laugh.

Keiko came over and hugged her husband from behind. "Just don't get

thrown from your horse this time. Your back would be sore for a week."

Miles turned around and embraced his wife. "Oh, I won't be injured.

Not while I have a lady to come home to."

They laughed, and kissed each other. Julian caught himself smiling

sadly when Miles had to turn a little bit as his wife's pregnancy was

just starting to show.

*Chief, you lucky dog. A wife, a child, another on the way. A family

who loves you, that you come home to...*

Julian closed his eyes and turned away. There was pang he always got

in his gut whenever he saw the O'Briens. He'd admitted to himself a

long time ago that part of him envied the Chief for having a family,

but with that admission of envy came the second admission that he

wasn't ready to have one.

Sure, he was "free," whatever the hell that meant. Free for the

attentions of Dabo girls and passing affairs. And, as long as the

contraceptive implants were up to date, no family. Free, free as a

bird.

Again, whatever the hell that meant. Leeta wasn't in the picture

anymore, and it wasn't like she came to stay in the first place.

With a mix of amusement and sadness, he sat on the couch and looked at

the girls on the floor, watching both children grow filthy with clay

and cake crumbs.

* * * *

She didn't attend the birthday party. In her quarters, a small oil

lamp was lit, the lights were low, and the shelf-turned makeshift

altar was decorated in typical ritual fashion.

She sat in front of it as she had done for the past six years, and six

lifetimes before that.

*Aslan J'tar zian Aslani

Kele et Tosa govas asla

Tosa et Kele Aslan, aslani asla J'tar

Aslan asla Kiva zhan

Tara et asla Aslan*

[Teacher a Joined is to Unjoined Student

Kele and Tosa rule me

Tosa and Kele are teachers and mentors to me, the Joined

As I answer to the Hosts before me

The Past is Teacher and guide to me.]

*Aslani ziara Aslan

Aslan gir Tokar Aslani

Aslani tokarn zirallam

Aslani zia notal Hutan et Zural di Itam

Et di Aslan Solana*

[Unjoined Student obeys Joined Teacher

Joined Teacher gives her wisdom to Unjoined Student

Unjoined Student dies Wiser

He has lived with humility and respect for his station

And love for his Joined Teacher ]

*Aslani kemora liara J'tam Kele et Tosa

K'tam joral di Meleca Kivalan

Meleca aslaran Aslani Aslar

Aslan Solan Aslani

Jor Aslani Solana Aslan*

[A loyal Unjoined Student will be favored by Kele and Tosa

They prepare him to be reborn as one destined for Joining

In his rebirth, he will be your equal

A Joined Teacher loves Unjoined Student

As Student loves Teacher]

The words had been a soothing ritual of reminder for centuries,

lifetimes. Now, they only caused a vague sense of heaviness.

Jadzia Dax opened her eyes, staring at the idols of Kele and Tosa, the

flickering copper lamp, and the other ritual artifacts.

In many lifetimes it hadn't changed. The idols of Kele and Tosa had

been Curzon's before her, and had been given as a Joining Gift from

Old Host to New through the centuries. These had been presented as new

figures to Leela Dax. Jadzia slowly picked up the figure of Kele and

examined it closely.

Kele was ceramic, her base made of copper. For three centuries, it

had been well taken care of. There was the dent in the statue's base

from when Tobin had dropped it from his hand as an arthritic old man,

but otherwise, it had been lovingly polished, dusted and kept for

centuries. Her expression forever stern, her gaze eternal, Kele was

dressed in her green robe with the red and blue Yunnuth symbol on her

belt - the same symbol Jadzia wore on a small necklace. Humans likened

the symbol to one of their own, called it a "yin-yang." The

description aptly described the shape, but not the more delicate

carving and symbols inside the two tear-shaped halves of the circle.

The red half was segmented and carved to represent a Symbiont. The

other half held a symbol for *Kiva,* the closest Standard translation

being "Host." Other symbols represented the philosophy of her

homeworld. Stability, intellect, balance, and discipline.

Tosa, made of the same material as Kele, also stared harshly

at her. He decided the fates of the Hosts when they had passed their

legacies and died. He

would lead the Joined who ruled well into the great pool. The Worthy

Host would be reborn as a Symbiont, passing knowledge for lifetimes.

The Unworthy Hosts were destroyed by Tosa. Mothers and Elders used to

say the howl of the wind was all that was left of the Hosts who abused

their legacy.

Jadzia cursed and turned away from the altar. It had been months since

Teldar left. He took Disgrace and left for Vulcan, leaving her near

Bajor with an uncertain status in the eyes of her homeworld.

She chuckled cynically as she put out the oil lamp. As insane as life

was on Deep Space Nine, it was saner than the homeworld. On Trill,

there were no legal taboos against speech, but social taboos let

society continue as it had for millennia. Training from cradle to

deathbed that passion was something best surrendered. The Way Things

Were was the best system of all for making sure everyone benefited.

If she still believed that, she'd be married to her Board-picked

husband and living on Vulcan. No doubt they would be expecting a new

ruler on the way.

Her carefully crafted and time-honored lifepath had taken a few new

directions, but now it was time to get back to basics. She'd spent too

much time and energy deviating that she needed to remember the

obedience she learned as an Initiate

Taking off the ceremonial robe, she took some off-duty clothing and

headed for the shower. The water was a bit icy at first, but soon

warmed up.

It had been so crazy these past few months. Most of the time she spent

off-duty was spent in her quarters, trying to make sense out of things

that didn't anymore. She hadn't talked to Nerys for a long time. It

was really uncomfortable to sit and hear her talk about Shaakar

without getting a vague feeling of claustrophobia. It wasn't like her

friend talked incessantly about him, the problem lay with Jadzia.

Benjamin was beginning to get concerned, but he knew well enough to

stay away right now. Curzon had taught him about the various Joining

Oaths and the importance of them. When she told him that she was

trying to refocus herself, he began to keep a respectful distance.

How in the hell did she let herself go like this?

First, it had been Lenara, shaking away all those carefully crafted

boundaries between lives. Heck, even if Torias and Nilani hadn't been

*j'fall'an* (adding that dangerous, but alluring, spark of

Reassociation to it all), Jadzia and Lenara still might have gotten

along rather well.

As she mused about the might-have-been on *that* relationship, she

dialed off the water and started to dry herself.

Next was Teldar Sobel. He came in and, as Miles O'Brien would have put

it, "the shit hit the fan."

It was supposed to be so easy. Sobel would come to DS9, he and Jadzia

would be married, according to the Good Joined Ruler's "master plan."

Trouble was, that it didn't work that way. Teldar had turned from a

bashful, gentle young man into a bigot with nothing but his work and

bitterness. She found herself asking too many questions about her

society, and coming up with all-too inappropriate answers. Then, it

all fell apart the night before the wedding. Julian (beautiful, human

fool he was) told her that he was in love with her.

Teldar, for his part, admitted that the *j'fall'an* was only a duty to

him, that it really didn't matter to him who she was or not. Jadzia

had left his quarters in tears, and returned to her own.

Jadzia hung up the towel and slipped into the blouse and pants,

memories of a certain human still running in her head.

Julian came in after her fight with Sobel, ready to offer whatever he

had to give. In that moment, Jadzia was sure that she could return his

feelings, measure for foolhardy measure. He came to her quarters as a

tormented friend, and left the next morning as a agonized lover.

After the complete wreck of a wedding, Teldar accepted Disgrace for

his work, and sped off to Vulcan, to the only other race that he had

any sort of respect for. She and Julian were left in that gray area.

They had spent an incredible night of passionate insanity together,

now what?

Jadzia tucked in the blouse and smoothed her dark hair back into a

hair clip. The "now what" was a self-imposed separation from each

other that had been going on for well over six months now. Julian was

now seeing one of Quark's Dabo girls, and appeared to be happy.

And where was she? Well, she had a date with Worf. Everything had

worked out, or so it seemed. Everything was the way it was and should

be. After

all, she had no intention of having a long, meaningful relationship

with Worf. Their affair was non-consequential, just a passing fling

for two consenting adults. Physical gratification and fleeting

company. That was it.

It was refreshing, in a way. Worf and Jadzia both had commitments to

higher purposes that made sure things didn't out of hand. Worf had his

commitment to honor in the Klingon sense, and Jadzia had her quest for

redemption and her societal duties. It all worked so well. No

attachments, no demands for commitment. No heartstrings knotted here.

Nothing to interfere.

Still, looking in the mirror, she frowned. Something seemed wrong. Why

did it seem so confusing? She should be looking forward to his

arrival, not dreading it. After all, *she* initiated the relationship.

She took her hair out of the barrette. She knew Worf preferred her

hair back. Still, a rebellious streak in her wanted to have her hair

cascading loose tonight.

It was the same voice that was not at all looking forward to seeing

Worf.

She barked an order to that nagging voice to stay silent. Closing her

eyes, she remembered some *gon'mal* techniques.

*Deep breath in, hold, exhale...*

Her eyes wandered back to the empty place near the couch. Julian.

Teaching him those techniques. Talking endlessly of nothing. Putting

her arms around him...

Indignantly, she cleared her throat. Thinking of might-have-been

was beneath her. She was a Joined Trill, after all. If anything, she

should know that thinking about loose ends was bad for her symbiont.

Lenara should have reminded her of *that* lesson, at least.

Attachments of any kind were usually a bad idea because time and loss

were a constant, especially for those who were long-lived. That's why

the Fourth Oath of Joining said that one had to feel a general concern

for all, but specific concern for none, because specific concern led

to things like Reassociation and deviant behavior. Julian was a

disruption. A detour on a path every Host before her had followed from

Joining to Passing. Not that she didn't *enjoy* the disruption, but

the big picture was the big picture. She would have lost Julian,

anyway, so it was best that things ended the way they did.

In righteous indignation, she unfastened her blouse to a provocatively

low level and stormed out of her quarters, even more determined to

find Worf at the Replimat.

* * * *

Jadzia really hadn't enjoyed dinner. Worf had surprised her and taken

her to K'Varr's, the Klingon restaurant on the Promenade. The *racht*

was pretty good, but Jadzia could barely taste it.

It had gone downhill from there.

Worf's first words of the evening were, "What have you done with your

hair?"

She brushed a strand behind her ear. "I wanted to wear it loose

tonight."

"You know that I prefer your hair away from your face," he said in his

customary grumble.

"So what?" she asked casually.

He just sat back in his seat and continued to eat in silence. Jadzia

watched him eat, pushing away her plate.

"What is the matter? Are you not hungry?" he asked tersely.

For some reason, it irritated her tonight. It was just his usual

coarse manner, and normally, she didn't even notice it. Lately,

though, it was beginning to annoy the hell out of her.

*Can't he, for once, use a little nicer tone?*

She shook her head. "Actually, I'm not as hungry as I thought." she

said. Changing the subject, she asked. "So, how's Alexander?"

"Alexander is fine." The same damn tone. It was beginning to sound as

unpleasant as scraping metal.

"Well, how is he doing? His schooling? Does he have any friends? Is

he even happy on Earth?"

"Talk or eat," Worf said tersely.

Jadzia rolled her eyes and went back to eating in silence. That voice

in her that had dreaded seeing Worf was muttering *I told you so.*

When both of them had finished eating, Jadzia stood up. "I'm going

back to my quarters. Care to come with me? I'd like to talk to you."

He nodded and followed her.

When they got to her quarters, he sat on the couch, and she sat next

to him.

"So," she said. "It's been a while since we actually did any talking."

"I am not here to talk." he said.

"I know you aren't, but I thought we'd try something different."

He grumbled. "Talk. You are almost as bad as the woman I was seeing on

the

Enterprise."

"Oh?" Jadzia asked. "And what makes talking so bad?"

"It is... not productive."

"And what is productive?" Jadzia countered.

There was a brief, mischievous look in Worf's eye as he grabbed a

handful of her hair and kissing her roughly. Jadzia pulled back,

breaking it off.

"Not tonight, Worf. I need to talk to you."

He wasn't listening, He continued to tear at her blouse, animalistic

growls from his throat. He seemed more aggressive than usual. Before

she could say another word, he had a viselike grip on her hair,

forcing a kiss roughly. His weight was pressing her into the couch.

That's when her frustration got the best of her.

Angrily, Jadzia jerked her knee up, catching him in the stomach. He

bucked upward, and fell off her, onto the floor. He was dazed. She

pulled her

blouse back down and glowered at him.

"What in the name of EVERYTHING JOINED did you think you were doing?!"

"If this was not what you wanted," he said, still trying to think

coherently after being interrupted in the heat of the moment. "Then

why did you let me come to your quarters?"

Jadzia shook her head. "Is this the only way you know how to treat a

woman? Growling and trying to be rough?"

He was puzzled. He got up and tried to grab her shoulders

possessively, Jadzia squirmed away.

"Don't touch me! I told you 'no,' and I mean it!" she barked. "You

touch me like that again, and I'll call Security down here."

Trying to salvage whatever was left of his pride, Worf yelled. "What

do you want?"

"First of all, I came here tonight to *talk,* not to get...

manhandled," she said.

"Talk?" Worf was irritated now. "And what is it you wish to 'talk'

about?"

Jadzia's head was beginning to pound. "About anything. Your work,

mine. Politics. Klingon opera." Sighing, and steadying herself, she

refastened her

blouse, and shook her head, getting much of the hair out of her face.

"I do not see the point in useless chatter," he said.

"Sorry, Worf," she said acidly. "but I need more than growling and

grinding. It's over. Get out." Sighing, she rose to her feet, waited

for Worf to get to his. As soon as he faced her, Jadzia yelled a

guttural curse, spat at his feet, then backhanded Worf.

The Klingon nodded. "I understand," he said curtly. He looked to her

bat'leth, then abruptly turned and left.

Jadzia, still shaken, locked the door behind her. She walked to the

replicator. "Black hole, override synthahol."

That option is not recommended.

"I said Black hole, and override the fucking synthahol!" she snapped.

The computer materialized the concoction. Sinking in her favorite

chair, she sipped the thick, black drink. Jadzia could remember why

this was Curzon's

favorite beverage. It was the galaxy's second fastest way to get

drunk. The fastest had to be a New Orleans hurricane, but Jadzia

wasn't quite in the mood for one of those. Besides, the replicators

never mixed it as well as Benjamin.

Letting the memories and the taste calm her down, she breathed a sigh

of relief. It was for the best.

Being with Worf had been fun for a while. If nothing else, the sex was

spectacular. Having sex with a Klingon was a constant rush of

adrenaline, meeting and then surpassing physical limits. It was the

Klingon way, after all. Still, only a Klingon could live with all the

screaming, yelling, and rough sex in the long-term.

That was all Worf could ever give her, though. It wasn't entirely his

fault. Starfleet and being raised by humans had taken many of the

rough edges away, but he was still a Klingon. He just *couldn't* be

gentle, even if he tried, nor could he give her *emotional*

gratification. He didn't want to talk, or just sit with her and enjoy

each other's company. He hadn't *intended* to scare her tonight. He

just did.

Her eyes wandered over the wall. Next to the shrine of Kele and Tosa,

an ornately carved bat'leth hung on the wall. It was a sturdy weapon,

and functional. Jadzia frowned. It was courting-gift from Worf, and

she had expected him to take it back when she threw him out of her

quarters. The fact that he didn't take it indicated that he would try

to win her back at some point. She'd have to face that issue when it

arrived.

Jadzia got up, and started to pace her quarters, working off the

adrenaline rush she used to kick Worf off the couch. She'd feel very

tired the next morning.

Her feet brought her to the shrine, and the shelf below it. Without

really being aware of it, she pulled out a wooden box. The top of it

was decorated with the Yunnuth symbol. Bringing it to the table,

Jadzia reluctantly opened it.

In it were small artifacts that her other Hosts had wanted to save.

Leela's brooch of office.

Curzon's Ring.

An Azure Guard medallion that Torias earned for shuttle testing.

An old-fashioned fountain pen given to Tobin during his days as a

university professor.

Emony's Copper Medal, given to her when she became Trill's gymnastics

champion.

Sheet music from Joran's final composition

A small holo of Benjamin and Julian.

Jadzia picked up the holo and fingered it. As her fingers brushed over

their faces, her eyes started to sting, tears welling up. She couldn't

place why.

The computer interrupted Jadzia's sleepless introspection. "Message

for Commander Dax."

"To my terminal, computer," she said. Her voice cracked when she

spoke.

Apparently, she was more upset than she realized.

The monitor flashed on. The brown-haired, brown-eyed man looked her

over before speaking. "I called at a bad time, didn't I? You look like

something out of a Jem'Hadar torture chamber."

"Not really," said Jadzia, managing a huge smile. "You always seem to

know just when to call, Nedian." *I really needed someone to talk

to.* Her voice took on more of her normal, lighthearted edge.

"Besides, this shouldn't bother you. You've seen me naked!"

Nedian cringed and squinted his eyes. She was referring to a test that

they both endured as Initiates. As a test of their physical endurance

(and a lesson in modesty), they had to run two kilometers completely

nude during a truly wicked hailstorm.

"Thank you for reminding me of that absolutely *terrible* afternoon,

Jaz," Nedian said. "I could have gone another *lifetime* without being

reminded of it."

The two laughed for a moment.

"But since you brought it up," Nedian ribbed, "did that frostbite

leave a scar?"

Jadzia laughed and buried her face in her hands. Thanks to that

frostbite, it was almost a month before she could wear a bra without

shrieking every time she moved.

Upon seeing Nedian's smile, Jadzia laughed again. "Apparently, you're

back from top-secret duty. How's life on the Amagosa?"

Nedian took a deep breath. "She's in dry dock, and may even be

mothballed."

"What?" asked Jadzia stunned. "Where are you calling from?"

"Starbase McKinley. We docked here yesterday, partially to address

some design flaws that had appeared on the ship."

"And how many thousands of malfunctions did they find?"

Nedian shook his head. "Enough to give the whole Quasar class the

heave-ho."

Jadzia rolled her eyes. "From what Benjamin told me, I'm surprised it

ever got past the drawing board."

"So am I," Nedian said in agreement. "Frankly, I don't know why I ever

took this assignment." He cocked his head, and looked at something

outside lens range. "Still, I guess it worked out in the end, and I'm

done with it now. I'm transferring to the new Deep Space Twelve

project. Are you familiar with it?"

Jadzia nodded. "I heard something about it during a briefing.

Something about retrofitting an old Kerrigan-class space station?

"That's the one," said Nedian enthusiastically. "Admiral Chevtiz needs

good people to run the station Starfleet's towing to Cervidae Alces."

"I heard that the assignment's far from dull. What's this about

someone trying to assassinate the Jarada ambassador?"

Nedian shrugged. "I don't have the details, either, Jaz. Remember that

I've been in the middle of nowhere since getting back from Risa.

Serving under Busswell doesn't give one much time to catch up on the

news."

"Is he *still* the same bore he was when Curzon negotiated that

treaty? I thought he'd learn by the time he had a few years of

command."

"No such luck. Same big ego, same misplacement of officers."

"Too bad," Jadzia said. "Sorry to hear it, Nedian."

"It won't be happening again, though."

"What do you mean?"

"Busswell is about to a competency hearing. Reckless Endangerment of

Starfleet Personnel."

Jadzia's jaw went slack. Busswell was a notorious egomaniac, but she

never suspected her old friend was serving under an unfit captain. She

was about to ask, but decided against it. Instead, her face lit up

with a wicked grin.

"You mentioned going to Risa..."

Nedian blushed and rolled his eyes. "Miri and I spent a whole week

there. It was a little bumpy for a while, but in the end..."

"Nedian!" she shouted. "Don't keep me in suspense. You *know* I hate

that."

Nedian chucked a little at Jadzia's expense before continuing. "One of

her Academy friends got married. I came with her because I had some

things to sort out, not the least of which was Tie Miri." Nedian

continued, "You know as well as I do about Bajorans, especially

Bajoran women. You have to be certain about your intentions, or they

make life extremely difficult for you... Speaking of which, I heard

something in your last letter about the *d'jara* system returning."

"Nope. The man who proposed that was returned to his own time."

"Huh?" Nedian was puzzled.

"Apparently, the Wormhole has some temporal folds in it."

"Ah, yes." Nedian said, "Temporal Mechanics. Gods, I hate that

subject."

"It was a little nuts on the station for a while, but I think

Benjamin's finally accepted that the local people see him as a

religious icon," Jadzia said.

"Benjamin Sisko, Curzon's protegee. Who would have thought?" Nedian

was smiling crookedly. "I wonder how he'd look in Guardian's robes?"

Jadzia laughed. "He would be a real sight, that's for certain."

After a short laugh, Nedian started staring off into space.

"Trill to Nedian Jarok,"

He was startled out of his daydream. "Oh?"

"You were telling me about Miri."

Nedian closed his eyes, sighed, then relaxed, a unmistakable look on

his face. "I love her, Jadzia, I really do. I can't remember when I

*ever* felt this alive. Ever since Miri walked into my life, nothing's

been the same." He laughed, and held his wrist up to the viewer. The

green stone in the leather bracelet left little guessing.

"A pledge bracelet! You and Miri!"

"Hopefully, it will be forever," he laughed, acting like a giddy

Initiate. "Or at least a lifetime."

"Did you two elope or something?!? And you're only now telling me?!?"

"No, we didn't elope," Nedian said quietly. "It's not that formal."

"I was ready to get angry at you for not telling me." She paused.

"Ned, you know how the Symbiosis Commission will take it."

"The same way they take any kind of thing they don't directly have

under their thumb."

"Ned," she hissed. "I'm serious this time!"

"So am I. Jadzia, I haven't felt this good in centuries! Hell, I

haven't been so passionate about life since I was Joined to my first

Host!" He paused and collected himself. "By the way, how are you and

Julian working out? You haven't been talking about him."

She shook her head. "It wasn't safe. After the disaster with Sobel,

we... I... We're not seeing each other. We went a little crazy because

of Sobel. We're now trying to salvage what's left of our friendship."

"Friendship? Jadzia..."

"Oh, come on. Don't try to pretend things with you and Miri went off

without a snag. I'll know that you're lying."

"True, but I know you too well, Jadzia. We've known each other before

either of us entered Symbiosis. The instant somebody or something

scares you, you try to put as much distance between you and it as

possible. I know how Miri gave me a few headaches, and the Joined Gods

know that I gave her several. As for Teldar Sobel," Nedian sighed.

"From what you told me, and what I found out on my own, I'd say good

riddance. He's a fine scientist now. From what I gathered, though,

he's lacking in everything else." Nedian shook his head. "Too bad,

really. Teldar was actually a decent man before he was Joined."

Jadzia shook her head. "It's just left me with a lot to sort out."

"What's to sort out? Face it, Jadzia. We've been de facto exiles for

years. Hell, lifetimes. To expect the Homeworld to provide all the

answers is a complete joke. If anything, that place is a jumbled mess.

The Commission and their flunkies don't give a damn about who they

have to sacrifice to maintain their status quo. Jaz, you know that

better than anyone!"

Jadzia cringed. Nedian was referring to Joran. Yes, the Commission's

treachery was something she was a little too intimate with.

"Look, Ned. I'm happy for you and Miri. Really, I am. Julian and I are

a different matter, though."

"I'm sorry, Jaz. Miri and I were really pulling for you both. Sorry

to hear it didn't work."

"No sorrier than I am."

Nedian glanced at something outside the holocamera's view. "Well, I'm

going to be late for duty if I talk to you much longer. You know how

it is, though. When you're in love, you just have to let somebody

know."

Jadzia smiled. "I understand. Good luck to you both."

Nedian leaned back in his chair. "As I wish you luck. Nedian Jarok

out."

The transmission faded back to the pleasant blue and white symbol of

the UFP. Jadzia shook her head. Nedian Jarok in love with a Bajoran.

Kira would laugh herself senseless when she heard this one. Still, it

could definitely earn him a good deal of hell. Still, it showed he

had a courage she really didn't have, or at the very least, couldn't

find.

She glanced over at a photo perched in the window. It was of herself,

Nedian, and another Trill woman a few years older than either of them.

The other woman was of the Northern stock, distinguished by the "m"

shaped ridge on the forehead and somewhat lighter spots. She picked it

up, and remembered the day it was taken.

*Maybe if you became Prime Minister, things could change. Nedian

wouldn't be risking...* She put the picture down. *Who am I kidding?

It's been the way it is for thousands of years. Nothing's going to

change it.*

Sitting in her chair with a blanket pulled around her, Jadzia's mind

wandered until she fell into an uneasy sleep.

Continued...

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

|Richard J. Pugh, MLS | Traveling Eternity Road, |

| RJPugh@ids.net | What will you find there? |

| RJPugh@aol.com | Carrying your heavy load, |

| PUGH.RICHARD@epamail.epa.gov | Searching to find, a peace of mind |

| http://www.ids.net/~rjpugh/ | - The Moody Blues |

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

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From: rjpugh@ids.net (Richard J. Pugh)

Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative

Subject: The First Tile - 3 (PG-13, DS9/TNG/Amagosa)

Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 02:10:13 GMT

Organization: Posted via CAIS Internet info@cais.com

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"The First Tile"

by Jessica M. Krucek and Richard J. Pugh

Chapter 3

Part Two

Union of the Snake

"It was only one life. What is one life in the affairs of a state?"

-Benito Mussolini, after killing a child with his car.

"What are you reading this time, son?" Monarch Jarmalon asked Kalidon.

Zaryl had always been a studious boy. It was one of the reasons he

sailed through the Host Program so easily. However, his Joining with

the Kalidon Symbiont three months ago had turned him into an even more

dedicated reader. Trill history, Federation Law, Klingon physiology.

It didn't matter what was in the palace library, Kalidon would find

something to sit down with.

The young man looked up. "Senator Odan's final speech at the Symbiosis

Commission."

Jarmalon scowled and pressed the off button on the terminal. "You

needn't be reading her words. She was a disruption to the order of our

society. It is best that her words be lost to time. Already, I am

taking steps to purge her writing from the Trill Library."

Kalidon looked up at his father, amazed. "You WHAT?"

Jarmalon shook his head. "Zaryl, you're a scholar, and no doubt that

Kalidon is one as well, but with royalty comes a responsibility. Part

of that responsibility is protecting the people from such

disruptions."

"Perhaps some disruption was what the people wanted. Senator Odan was

quite knowledgeable, and quite popular, especially among the

Unjoined."

"Who are of limited perspective due to their one life, and easily

swayed. Have two previous lives taught you nothing, Kalidon?"

"But what of the Unjoined, Father? They seem genuinely angry, and what

do we know of an Unjoined's perspective? The Host Program practically

starts in our cradles." With the casual knowledge of a seasoned

scholar, the Crown Prince continued. "And, history has shown that if

the questions of the many go unanswered, they only return with more

force." His voice darkened. "Sometimes, violent force."

"With the questions of the Unjoined, it is simple." Jarmalon replied

tersely. "There is no answer, and for the Crown Prince of Trill to

listen to a demagogue is unfitting to his station, in addition to a

disrespect of his Joining Oaths."

A woman entered the study, dressed in the pale blue coveralls of the

Azure Guard. "Majesty, the Guard is here."

The elderly Monarch straightened. "We will discuss this later."

The young man was led into the throne room. Monarch Jarmalon appraised

him. The uniform looked rather good on him, and he had earned his

rank and station, if the records could be believed. Joining also wore

well on him.

Jarmalon nodded coolly. "State your name and station, Guard."

He stood rigidly. "Lieutenant Colonel Arjin Lesal. Commander of

Squadron Alpha."

"Lesal? What Host are you in the line?"

Arjin straightened up. "I'm the fourth Host, Monarch. Why do you ask?"

Jarmalon only smiled .. "Mere curiosity, Colonel. They say you are a

very good pilot."

"Fifth Level pilot even before I was Joined, Monarch," Arjin admitted

proudly. "I'm Seventh Level now."

Jarmalon raised an eyebrow. "Top level. Very good. Your Initiate

record even shows that you flew a precision course through a

wormhole."

"I did, sir. My field docent was rather impressed."

Jarmalon nodded. "Yes. I have read your report on Commander Dax. She

recommended you for Joining once you enrolled in the Azure Guard

Officer's Program."

"I had already interned with the Officer's Program. That way, I had

the basic courses out of the way." He laughed. "It helped to be a top

level pilot, AND a computer expert. With the years I put in as an

Initiate, and my academic standing, I graduated a Superior

Lieutenant."

"I have read your records, Lesal. Very nice hold off of the League at

New Pareel, and those smugglers on Drakel. You've definitely earned

your position with those maneuvers."

"Just in service of my Monarch and people, Majesty."

Jarmalon said, "I need your skills again, Colonel. The plan is to be

stepped up. Odan and her renegades are causing even more trouble. You

are to take your squadron and intercept a ship headed for the Tarmalon

System, the *TMS J'Tallak*. According to Azure Guard Intelligence

reports, it is manned by League terrorists, and is carrying that

trouble-making Senator. If she comes back here, she'll start a war."

"The Guard has confirmed it. Senator Odan is on the manifest."

"Good. I want the ship taken care of. I trust your weapons systems

have been modified?"

"Yes, Monarch."

"Very good. Make sure it has been destroyed."

"Survivors?"

"Kill them. We can't allow them to speak." the monarch said.

"They'll only serve to destroy what Trill's worked for. I don't want

the people panicking, so say nothing of this to anyone else. Order

your squadron to say nothing to anyone else about this mission. The

official report will say that you were on a training mission."

"A training mission. Yes, Monarch."

"You may go, Colonel. do not disappoint me."

He bowed, then offered the Azure Guard salute, crossing his chest with

one arm. Jarmalon returned salute, and Arjin Lesal left for his

"training mission."

General Hurek was a much older man than Monarch Jarmalon, and the

years had been much less kind to him. His white hair had all but

fallen out. His

haggard face had deep creases of worry, his spots had all but faded,

but what troubled the general most was the fact that he almost always

walked with a cane now. It was a disturbing reminder that he hadn't

seen combat for almost thirty years.

His Symbiont was also getting on in years. Hurek wondered what the

Commission's verdict would be. Joining to another Host? Not likely.

Hurek itself was over 400 years, and had been affiliated with the

Azure Guard in one form or another for 350 of those years. A

supervisor at a missile base, a couple of soldiers (one Host was

killed in combat), a professor of military strategy, an aerospace

engineer, even a test pilot. A lot of experience would be lost if he

left. That was one reason Hurek stuck in the Guard as long as he was.

He may have been worn-out, but if the goal of Joining was to

experience, Hurek had obeyed to the fullest.

He looked through the report on another PADD when the door swished

open.

He didn't need to look up. "Lesal, what is it this time?"

"Sir, I am taking -"

"Taking your squadron on a training mission without clearing it by me

first. I know." The old man put down his PADD. "I'm not senile yet. I

keep up to date. Now, why is this necessary, and why was I not

consulted *Colonel.*"

"It was a last minute decision, sir," Arjin said. "The Tarmalon System

has an asteroid field and limited sensor range. I wanted my men to

experience limited instrument flight, as well as asteroid field

navigation. Apparently, Captain Tylee did not inform you yet. I only

informed her a few minutes ago."

"Lesal," Hurek said quietly. "I am retiring soon, but in the meantime,

I am still in command of the Azure Guard." He cleared his throat.

Damn he hated this. Seven of his nine lifetimes aiding the guard,

helping them in whatever capacity his Host deemed fit, and now it all

seemed to be rushing past him at a pace he couldn't follow. It was

like his uniform had become a restraining jacket.

At least there were a few officers he could trust, Arjin Lesal among

them.

"I want you to do something for me when you return from your mission,

Colonel."

"Which is?"

The old man picked up his PADD. "I've been doing an investigation on

the side. There's something wrong with our computer system. File

discrepancies, compression ratios that have been altered, as if people

are deleting files. Records altered. Something's not right. You think

it could be the League?"

Arjin shook his head. "I don't suspect the League has any computer

specialists smart enough to hack their way in, but if they have, I'm

sure Tylee will be able to root them out."

Hurek rose to his feet, leaning heavily on his cane. His wizened green

eyes lit up momentarily, and a smile reached his face. "I'm glad I

have someone I can count on, Colonel. Best of luck on your training

mission."

Arjin smiled, then saluted his superior. "I won't disappoint you,

sir."

"Dismissed."

Arjin left Hurek's office and walked to the hangar bay, smiling

cruelly. That old fool Hurek would never know when happened, even when

the blame would be pinned on him. Then again, he wouldn't have to

suffer in jail very long. Hurek was a worn Symbiont in an equally

worn-out Host. The Gods would claim him in five years, if They took

their time.

By the time he had reached the hangar bay briefing area, his officers

were already gathered. Captain Tylee gestured for the gathered pilots

to rise and salute. Arjin saluted in kind, and the pilots sat down.

"All right. Jarmalon has authorized us to carry on with the plan using

my timeline. As stated in your briefing packets, the *J'Tallak* is

carrying weapons, medical supplies, food rations, and other supplies

to be put to use by the League. The ship itself is a standard Korell

Class freighter. Class Seven phasers, Four Photon Torpedoes. However,

it is being captained by a former Azure Guard tactician, and is being

manned by a crew of fifty, including Senator Odan herself."

A murmur went through the crowd.

"There will be NO survivors. Jarmalon made that explicitly clear. Any

survivors, and we risk having a war. We kill Odan and not the rest,

and we risk the story leaking. The last thing we need is a martyr on

our hands. Understood?"

"UNDERSTOOD, SIR!" cried the soldiers, crossing their chests with one

arm in salute.

"Into the fighters," Arjin ordered, returning salute.

The rest of the pilots left. Arjin stopped Captain Tylee.

"Captain," Arjin said. "I have to speak to you alone."

She nodded. "What is it, sir?"

"Destroying Odan is phase one. I informed you already about Phase Two.

To destroy the League, we will need to get outside help in the matter.

This part of the plan is where I need your computer skills. While we

take care of the *J'Tallak,* I want you to implement Phase Two."

Tylee blanched.

"I gave you an order, soldier. This comes direct from Monarch

Jarmalon. Unless you wish to see a holding cell on an outlying world,

I suggest you cooperate."

Tylee straightened. "Phase Two. Yes, sir."

Arjin nodded. "Good. Tell Captain Ursi to ready his men for Phase

Three as soon as you are finished distracting the computer grid."

"Yes sir."

* * * *

Near the Tarmalon System, Senator Kareel Odan was trying to sleep,

meditate, do something to clear her mind. The trip would not be easy.

Hell, nothing was easy since she stumbled on the truth.

As an Initiate, Kareel processed records. She processed funeral

records, and recorded the appallingly high number of Initiates who

took their own lives. Voicing her disbelief, her supervisor merely

told her that the deaths were "just part of the process." Of course,

Kareel had known some of her friends to commit suicide. The pressures

of Candidate or Initiate training broke them, or the Board broke them

when they declared the young people "unsuitable," and shunted them off

to jobs they were overeducated to deal with. That led to another wave

of suicides. Tallying them up left suicide as one of Trill's top ten

causes of death. Still, this fact was kept silent. The numbers were

recorded, but never made available to anyone outside the civil

service. It happened, but no one talked about it.

Kareel was a watcher, her Initiate supervisor said. Someone who would

make a good Host on the basis that she was talented, agreeable, and

observant.

Observance, however, worked both ways. Kareel slipped past the

Commission while some of her more "observant" friends didn't. Kareel

had more than a shrewd suspicion that the Board didn't like an

Initiate who thought or observed too much.

The reasons for rejecting Candidates and Initiates were notoriously

vague, and the methods for training them often had less to do with

developing independent thought than teaching submission to the

process. The higher she worked her way up the civil service, the more

she saw. The more she saw, the more she wondered.

One day, the subspace call came. Kareel barely had enough time to

throw some clothing in a bag before it was announced that she was

speeding off to rendezvous with a Starfleet vessel, the *USS

Enterprise.*

She was Joined without the benefit of Guardian-Priests, ritual, or

ceremony. Ironically, it was probably how Luz, the radical, would have

wanted it, and it was how Kareel, the observer, wanted it.

It was strange. She'd never known Luz that well. She was a good

thirteen years younger than him, and lived with her mother, while Luz

jetted around with his diplomat father. In retrospect, she knew why he

requested his quiet, observant half-sister to receive his Symbiont.

She was able to handle the memories - the knowledge that conflicted

with every sort of Joining Oath and Initiate indoctrination.

However, there was another influence neither Luz nor Kareel had

counted on.

At first, she tried to deny his memories, his thoughts, but they

were permanently attached to her. He may have not been Trill, but she

had come to accept her brief Joining to a human as part of her fate.

Luz had walked into the shuttlecraft, hoping for an easy ride.

Complications from his Joining had made him unable to use a

transporter. It was rare for Trills of the South, but less stable

Joinings like Luz the Younger and Odan were not uncommon in the

Northern peoples (one of the reasons that the board rarely Joined a

Northern Trill). Luz had to self-inject isoboramine and use a

stabilizer ray to stay healthy. Kareel did fine without such

implements, but molecular transport was still off-limits.

An unknown ship had come out from behind the Beta Moon. Starfleet

still didn't know who it was that attacked the shuttle carrying Luz

Odan the Younger and William Riker, but Kareel had a pretty shrewd

idea of who it was. Though she'd never be able to prove it, she had a

strong suspicion that the Trill Government had been lying in wait with

an Azure Guard vessel.

When Luz had died, Odan wouldn't have been able to survive, and the

moons would have gone to war. William Riker, the ship's first officer

had accepted (rather blindly), a temporary Hosting of Odan until

Kareel could arrive. The Joining lasted for a week, and William's body

was never able to assimilate Odan (thankfully), but the experience had

been incredible. Humans were nothing like what she had been trained to

believe. Their passions were not a obstacle or a nuisance, but a

source of strength. Their sheer love of life was dizzying in and of

itself. Many of the Joined lived half-awake lives, lax and quite lazy.

They would always have another Host to pass their knowledge and

experience to. Humans seemed quite intent on taking what they could

from life.

She now knew what it was like to stand on the bridge of a starship and

face one's own, Borgified captain in battle, to take on the powers of

the Q Continuum, to be telepathically bonded to a Betazoid.

And then, there was Doctor Beverly.

A smile tugged at Kareel's mouth. Now, there was a good woman. Strong

enough to accept the truth, a warm sense of humor, a deep appreciation

for the finer things in life, especially theater (something Luz

appreciated to no great end). Beverly also had been very beautiful. A

lady of class and distinction, someone you could appreciate in old

age. Well worth the exile had Beverly chosen to continue the affair...

It was all so dizzying. Odan was never the same. Luz's suspicions,

Will's passions, and Beverly's deep warmth and strength had left their

mark on Kareel, who had her own suspicions and questions of the Trill

ways even before Joining. She was seeing Trill through a new set of

eyes. A *human* set of eyes. Her observations linked with Luz's

knowledge, linked with a human's drive, came out in a power the likes

Trill had never seen before.

Outraged, Kareel started speaking out against what she saw. This

earned her a place as an advocate for the Unjoined. Their popular vote

had earned her a seat in Trill's Lower Parliament. From there, her

skills as an orator, a few lives' worth of diplomatic training, and

her knowledge of the civil service system helped her to parlay her

seat in the Lower Parliament into a position on the Senate.

Still, her questions, and the questions of the Unjoined who backed her

were not being answered. The Commission made cosmetic reforms, hiring

a few more Unjoined tokens to their ranks or doing a sloppy, but

highly publicized investigation of some trivial aspect of the

Commission. This only angered people more.

And Kareel continued to speak and cry out for Justice. When she read a

list of names on the Senate floor, the names of the five-hundred and

eighty-three Initiates who committed suicide in one day, the whole of

Trill was scandalized, and the Symbiosis Commission was livid. She let

several of the dead Initiates' families speak in front of the Senate.

One grandmother pulled her aside and thanked her for finally helping

her get some justice. It was her proudest moment.

She had earned the active support of the Unjoined. Polls indicated

that almost eighty percent of the Unjoined voters were going to vote

for her in the election for Trill's Prime Minister, the highest

civilian position in the planetary government. Some of the more

liberal Joined voters also backed her cause. She was considered almost

a guaranteed position.

The Monarchy, the Symbiosis Commission, and the more conservative

elements of Trill Government were determined *not* not see that

happen. They found their opportunity and seized it.

During a routine investigation into the Commission, Kareel contacted a

scientist who had proven that Board-approved marriages were leading to

genetic

stagnation, an even more cruel and covert way of maintaining the

status quo. His name was Dr. Teldar Sobel. Not only was in Sobel in

Disgrace (making it technically illegal for her to talk to him), but

Odan's second Host, Kaylon, and Sobel's first Host, Shandor, had been

cousins. Trumping up these charges, the Commission declared her

contact with Teldar Sobel Reassociation.

That had earned her Disgrace. The Commission didn't dare exile her, or

have the Azure Guard kill her in the middle of the night. They put her

on a transport out of the system. While most knew the charges to be

rigged, no one dared speak up.

Her Disgrace, however, had made her a martyr of sorts: unjustly

banished from duty because entrenched power found her to be a threat.

Her supporters from all walks of life continued to press for

investigations and reform of the Symbiosis Commission, and Trill

government in general. So many people had begun to ask questions that

the Trill Government could no longer silence them all, even if it

refused to budge in its attitudes and practices.

The doorchime sounded. Kareel looked up. "Come in."

The door slid open. Her gentle, matronly face was worried, and she

wore her purple robes.

Kareel looked up. "I'm not that out of balance, Joa. You needn't to be

worried."

Joa smiled silently and walked up to her. Placing her aged hand on

Kareel's abdomen, she closed her eyes for a moment, then answered.

"You are thinking of the human again. William."

Kareel looked up. "Yes. I was trying to think of what he'd say to me

right now."

The Guardian smiled gently, and took her hand off Kareel's belly.

"From what I know of your father and brother, they would approve of

this. This William is one I do not know so well."

Kareel sat in her chair. "So, how goes the plan?"

"As usual. I have contacted Amari, and they will expect us soon."

Kareel leaned back in her chair. "And what have you found out from our

contacts in the Guard?"

Joa shook her head. "The Guard has closed off much of their computer.

Just last night, one of our operatives vanished."

Kareel sighed and shook her head. "Killed, no doubt."

"Eri Kotal was a good man. He probably died bravely."

Kareel spun around and punched up a computer terminal. "How am I

supposed to do anything against them, Joa? They have the weapons, the

communications net, and the sympathies of the Federation Council."

"The Federation Council," said Joa. "Does not know the evil they have

done."

"I do not want to upset them, but I believe I may be leading the

League straight to its doom. I'm not sure whether returning to lead

them is a fool's errand, or the chance for lasting change in my

people."

"Both. It won't be easy, though."

Kareel smiled. "I thank you for being with me, Joa."

Joa nodded. "I am glad to have been of service to Luz Odan the Elder,

his son after him, and I am glad to be in your service now."

"Still, not every Guardian earns the privilege of Retainer, and

Guardian- Retainers usually leave a Disgraced Joined."

"I served the caves in my youth," the old woman said. "This duty is

much easier on me. Without Odan, I have nowhere else. Your

companionship means much to me. I am an old woman now. I have no use

for the Monarch or the Commission any more."

Something in Joa's bearing made Kareel feel very easy. Guardians were

telepathic, so Joa might have been projecting some of her peace onto

Odan, or perhaps Joa's grandmotherly face had a soothing effect of its

own.

"Thank you, Joa. Your companionship also means much to me."

Joa might have been assigned as Luz the Elder's Retainer, a personal

servant that a Joined could trust implicitly. Since they were

technically sent to care for the Symbiont, Guardian-Retainers were

exempt from the Reassociation Laws. After the years and Hosts, though,

Kareel considered Joa more like family than servant.

"Now," the old woman said. "You need your rest. There will be much on

Amari to organize."

With a minimal amount of coaxing, the old Guardian lowered Kareel down

to the bed, and tucked her in the way a grandmother would tuck in a

sleepy child. Joa hadn't reached the door yet when sleep took Kareel.

* * * *

"Approaching target at zero-three-sixteen mark 12," Arjin said as the

fleet of runabouts closed in on the target. "Now, remember my orders.

The ship is to be destroyed. Blue Leader out."

The runabouts dropped out of warp, their weapons powered, and their

shields ready.

On the Trill ship, *J'Tallak,* the captain noticed the fleet of

Runabouts on the sensors. She stood up. "The Azure Guard! Shields up.

Red Alert!"

The ship immediately responded. The pilot turned from his console.

"There are thirteen ships in the fleet, captain. They have Type Eight

phaser banks, and heavy shields."

A blast rocked the bridge. The Captain pulled herself from the floor.

"There's no way in the eyes of the Gods that we will survive this."

Another blast shuddered through the ship.

"Shields down to eighty percent."

"Return fire."

In space, the under-armed freighter hit one of the Guard Runabouts.

Another shot, and the runabout dissolved into space debris. They

continued fire, and five more runabouts succumbed. The freighter was

still outmanned and outgunned by the fleet of attackers. They

couldn't hold out for long.

"Seven Runabouts destroyed. Our shields are down to twenty-five

percent."

The captain pressed her communications panel. "Attention, all

personnel! Abandon ship." The captain ordered the helmsman, "Fire on

the lead ship."

"Missed!" cried the helmsman. "Whoever is leading them has a damn good

pilot!"

Another blast coursed through the bridge. This one sent shockwaves

through all the control systems. The electrical shock killed the pilot

and captain immediately.

On the decks below, people were crowding into escape pods. Kareel was

still groggy as a strange man shoved her and Joa into one of them.

Kareel stared at the young man. Her eyes rested on the yellow

triangle-shaped badge on his jacket. The patch had an inverted green

triangle resting in the center.

It was the symbol of the League.

"You deserve to live more than I do," Kareel said, trying to

leave the pod.

The man shook his head. "No, Senator, you are our last, best hope. May

the Joined Gods be with you."

He pressed started the launch sequence of the escape pod. Just as they

were breaking from the ship, an explosion filled the launch bay.

Joa was gasping. "So many dead."

Kareel kept to her task of piloting the escape pod. "I know. I'm going

to cut our power for a little while. That will mask us from their

sensor scans.

Joa stared blankly at her. Kareel smiled crookedly. "A trick Will

Riker taught me."

For their part, the remaining runabouts were vaporizing many of the

escape pods from the destroyed vessel.

"We are detecting no more power signatures from the destroyed vessel

or escape pods. Mission complete."

Arjin Lesal allowed himself to smile. "Mission complete. Everybody,

head home."

The runabouts flocked and popped into warp.

Kareel watched the runabouts vanish into space, a hatred growing in

her. She'd seen the symbols on their ships. The Yunnuth set in a pale

blue square identified them as members of the Azure Guard. The Azure

Guard, for millennia, were the protectors of the Trill Monarchy from

any force threatening it, including the Trill people. Kareel frowned.

Many things had changed for Trill over time. The Azure Guard's

unflinching loyalty to the Monarch was not among them.

"Bastards," she muttered. "Soulless Bastards."

She remembered the last time she had heard that insult.

William Riker had said it when he stared out at the destruction caused

by the Borg.

* * * *

General Hurek looked up in shock.

"The Jem'Hadar?" he asked, his grizzled face pale with shock. "This

deep into Federation Space?"

Arjin nodded with resignation. "I'm afraid so, sir. By the time we

reached the *J'Tallak,* she was destroyed. There was nothing we could

do. I lost several ships trying to escape."

"Why?" muttered the old general. "Even if the Jem'Hadar are wind-made

demons, why would they attack a civilian transport, especially one so

under-armed?"

"General," Arjin said. "it has not been confirmed, but there are

rumors that Senator Kareel Odan was aboard. Some circles in the Trill

Legislature want her to continue her campaign for Prime Minister

despite her Disgrace."

Hurek grumbled. "Senator Odan is quite the populist as well. If she

was put back to work, it might assuage the public's hostility towards

Jarmalon and the Commission."

"Or," suggested Arjin. "Inflame it."

"You have a point, Lesal," Hurek said. "Odan may have been a trouble

maker, but she did ask some very important questions. I'm not sure, if

she walked through the door to my office, whether I'd strangle her or

salute her."

Arjin seemed shocked. "Sir?"

"Forgive my ramblings, Colonel. Perhaps I am only feeling my own age,

and reminded that I'll have to face the Commission soon."

"I understand, but we must deal with the current threat. The Dominion

are here - in Trill space. From what we know of their infiltration

tactics, it's known that they conquer by creating social unrest, then

seizing power in those moments of unrest."

"Then," Hurek said. "We have to be sure they don't get us blind. Step

up the Guard in Parsee. One Guard on every corner if necessary. Step

up the camera searches as well. We *have* to know who is bombing.

Maybe we can catch our Changeling in the act."

"And I will start a series of blood scans on all officers in the guard

with Code six or higher clearance," Arjin added.

"At any rate, Lesal," Hurek said, dejected. "I congratulate you on

your attempt to rescue the Senator's vessel. Her death won't go

unavenged. I want you to brief all senior staff of the Guard. Keep

them informed. And tell Jarmalon. His Majesty will want to hear of

this."

Arjin nodded. "I will, General."

Hurek leaned back in his chair, and said. "I'm glad it's in your

hands, Lesal. Dismissed."

Arjin saluted and left. As soon as the door closed behind him, he

allowed himself a chuckle. That old fool. He was playing right into

the plan.

At that moment, the lights flickered all over the base and went out.

Emergency lights went into place as a panicked voice echoed over the

com system.

"Computer breech! Total Shutdown!"

Arjin tried not to look too pleased. Captain Tylee had been

successful.

Continued...

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

|Richard J. Pugh, MLS | Traveling Eternity Road, |

| RJPugh@ids.net | What will you find there? |

| RJPugh@aol.com | Carrying your heavy load, |

| PUGH.RICHARD@epamail.epa.gov | Searching to find, a peace of mind |

| http://www.ids.net/~rjpugh/ | - The Moody Blues |

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

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From: rjpugh@ids.net (Richard J. Pugh)

Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative

Subject: The First Tile - 4 (PG-13, DS9/TNG/Amagosa)

Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 02:10:22 GMT

Organization: Posted via CAIS Internet info@cais.com

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"The First Tile"

by Jessica M. Krucek and Richard J. Pugh

Chapter 4

Part Three

Return to Grace?

"Beware of false looking-glasses that lead to deceit and danger"

-Seen in a game based on Alice in Wonderland

"Trill has not seen a terrorist attack of this magnitude for over

a millennia," Admiral Alik said as he spoke. "Our only guess is that

it is the Dominion. Buildings bombed, ships destroyed. The Azure

Guard tells me that the ship carrying Senator Odan was destroyed by

Dominion ships near the border of Trill Space. None of the passengers

of the ship made it out alive. It is believed the Dominion killed them

all."

"Have you analyzed their findings?"

"Yes. It's Jem'Hadar style guns, all right. Just like the scorches we

found during the salvage operation of the USS Victory. Checks out

perfectly. The Azure Guard even helped us in the salvage operation, so

they've seen Jem'Hadar 'handiwork.'"

Sisko rubbed his temples. "Trill is centrally located in Federation

Sector Eighteen," he said. "Among the more populated regions of space.

They have about thirteen representatives on the Federation Council."

"If the Dominion takes a Federation planet, it will seriously

compromise the Federation's ability to defend itself. Trill's closest

neighbors are

Andor and Betazed, both powerful planets of the Federation," Alik said

harshly.

Sisko continued to rub his temples. It had been a while since Admiral

Leyton had tried to destroy the way of life on Earth in order to

"save" it. The last thing he needed was some false alarm about the

Dominion.

Then again, there were already Changeling infiltrates on Earth. Who

was to say that they hadn't found a better target on a planet like

Trill, who knew of millennia, rather than centuries, without war?

"You are to take the Defiant to Trill, and determine if this is really

the Dominion at work. Alik out."

The communiqué flared out. Sisko rubbed his chin. How should he break

this to his senior staff -- or more particularly, his oldest friend?

Should he call her in here alone to discuss the matter, or break it to

everyone at once.

He decided on the former.

"Sisko to Dax."

No answer.

He tried again. This station was a bit quirky. "Sisko to Dax."

No answer.

"Computer," asked Sisko. "locate Lieutenant Commander Dax."

Lieutenant Commander Dax is in her quarters. A low-level security

field is in place, blocking all but emergency communication.

Sisko decided to go there himself. He knew Dax well enough to know

that when the Trill locked herself in her quarters, there was

something

drastically wrong. He shook his head. Maybe she already knew?

He decided to go. This would have to be done privately.

* * * *

She hadn't been listening to anything but the piano.

Normally, this was the day she would have spent with Julian. She would

have been sitting with him on the floor, seeing if he could keep his

concentration with the *gon'mal* techniques. Later, they would sit on

the floor, or on the couch, talking of nothing, or just watching the

stars out her window. That was from before, though.

With Worf gone, Jadzia now had time to miss those sessions. Well, more

than likely, Julian was with Leeta. Still, the teacher part of her

wondered

whether her life-student was becoming lax in his discipline.

She hit a sour note just in time to hear the doorchime.

"Computer," she ordered. "Disable security field." After the computer

chattered an affirmative, she called out. "Come in."

Jadzia looked up. Benjamin walked into the room, a very grim

expression on his face.

"Dax, I'm afraid I have some bad news."

"Bad news?" Jadzia was a little tense. "Did my experiment with the

unstable isotopes...?"

"It's not your isotopes, Old Man. It's Trillian."

Jadzia straightened, her spots standing out when she went pale.

"Trillian?"

"There's been some random acts of terrorism in the past few days.

Hundreds killed. Starfleet is now beginning to suspect the Dominion."

Jadzia felt Dax take a lurch. She gripped the edge of the table, minds

reeling. The Dominion? Her homeworld? Just the other night, Nedian had

reminded her of some of the more unsavory aspects of their homeworld.

Suddenly, everything just seemed so different.

She had been away so long, and not long enough. Last time she went,

she came back knowing every last bit of a terrible secret inside her,

and of the reasons why it had to be hidden. Between Joran and Verad,

she had a personal distaste for her native world's society that she

was trying to overcome.

Still, the Dominion? On her home? Near her sister's children? Near

her mother's jewelry shop?

She hadn't been aware that she slumped over the table, holding her

head in her hands until she felt a warm hand on her shoulder.

"You all right, Dax?"

She looked up. Benjamin was concerned.

"Not really," she answered honestly. She and Curzon knew that the best

answer for this human was the honest one. "My home planet under the

Dominion... Trill hasn't known war since the Equality Revolt over five

thousand years ago. To think that..."

"I know, Old Man. I thought they had gotten my homeworld, too.

Starfleet has ordered the Defiant to Trill, so that we can see whether

this truly is the work of the Dominion."

"So," she said, with a touch of the black humor Curzon was famous for.

"I guess we're the experts?"

"In this case, Dax," muttered Benjamin. "I didn't want to be."

* * * *

When Julian arrived, he saw that Miles and Nerys were doing their best

to comfort Jadzia. Worf was gruffly checking a datapadd, and that

Sisko was sitting in a chair, unsure of what to do.

Julian was tempted to go over to Jadzia and find out the problem, but

barely made two steps in the room when Sisko called the meeting to

order.

They all sat. Jadzia sat between Odo and Miles, and Julian sat next to

Kira. Worf sat apart from the others, at the far end of the table.

"Mister Worf," Sisko said. "Give us your findings."

The mountain of a Klingon nodded silently, and rose from his seat,

using the computer screen on the front wall to bring up a diagram of

the Trill system. Julian felt very uncomfortable. Small wonder they

were at work trying to console Jadzia!

"There have been numerous bombings on the Trill homeworld. These have

been directed at government installations, Symbiosis Commission

offices, and various cultural landmarks. Deaths have been in the

hundreds. There have been two confirmed acts of sabotage at key

automated facilities elsewhere in the system, particularly

communications relay pylons."

Julian looked over to Jadzia, who locked her morose eyes on the

screen, hearing the bad news from her homeworld. If he had been

sitting in his usual seat, he would have surreptitiously gripped her

hand beneath the table as a show of support. Still, in light of recent

events, Julian wondered whether the gesture would offer any sort of

comfort.

"Why haven't we heard about this until now?" Julian asked, a little

acid slipping into his voice. It caused Jadzia, Captain Sisko, and

Miles to look up. Julian cursed himself for losing that small bit of

control.

Worf continued. "The *J'Tallak* was destroyed, along with seven Azure

Guard escorts." A picture of a Trill freighter popped up on the

viewer. "Starfleet scans done on the wreckage indicate the ship was

destroyed with Dominion weaponry. That was when the Trill Government

asked Starfleet for aid. That was less than a week ago. Since then,

the bombings started."

"Why would the Dominion attack a passenger freighter?"

"It is believed a high-ranking Trill dignitary was on board. The Azure

Guard believes her to be dead, but she is officially missing."

Miles added. "Trill's information grid has also been sabotaged. That,

and the bombings, are believed to be some sort of plan to disrupt

Trill society."

Odo huffed. "Typical changeling tactic. Confuse the population, then

take over the leaders and impose order by any means possible. If it

*were* the Dominion attacking, this would be the way they would do

it."

Sisko changed the subject. "The Defiant has been ordered to Trill. We

leave tomorrow to pick up Nedian Jarok and his assistant at Starbase

Jenkins. He's one of Starfleet's top computer specialists. If he can't

break the freeze on Trill's information net, no one can."

Jadzia perked up at the mention of Nedian.

"He shouldn't have too much trouble repairing the communications

grid," she said. "Seeing as how he wrote most of the security

programs."

Sisko nodded, and continued. "The rest of us will have to get to the

bottom of this. Dominion or no Dominion, something is happening on

Trill, and it will be up to us to discover what it is. Dismissed."

The staff started to file out. Jadzia was walking noticeably slower.

Julian all but leapt across the room and gently took her shoulders.

"Jadzia... I know this can't be easy. None of this has been easy for

you."

She tried not to look at him. "Julian..."

"Please. Look at me."

She looked at him. Her sapphire eyes were clouded over, pained.

Jadzia shook her head. "My homeworld. I can't say as my best

memories are there, but the thought of the Dominion..."

Julian had to resist the urge to pull her into his arms. After all,

they both had agreed not to give into temptation again. One total

night of insanity had been enough to put them both on shaky ground.

"Jadzia, I know our agreement, but I am still your friend. I'm still

here if you need me."

She shook her head. "Thank you, Julian, but I just need some time

alone, that's all."

He watched her escape out the door, feeling his gut turn to hot lead.

Continued...

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

|Richard J. Pugh, MLS | Traveling Eternity Road, |

| RJPugh@ids.net | What will you find there? |

| RJPugh@aol.com | Carrying your heavy load, |

| PUGH.RICHARD@epamail.epa.gov | Searching to find, a peace of mind |

| http://www.ids.net/~rjpugh/ | - The Moody Blues |

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

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From: rjpugh@ids.net (Richard J. Pugh)

Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative

Subject: The First Tile - 5 (PG-13, DS9/TNG/Amagosa)

Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 02:10:29 GMT

Organization: Posted via CAIS Internet info@cais.com

Lines: 348

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X-Newsreader: Forte Free Agent 1.0.82

The First Tile

by Jessica M. Krucek and Richard J. Pugh

Chapter 5

Part Four: Homecoming

"Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical

universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step

beyond logic."

- Frank Herbert, Dune

Earth, Starbase McKinley

Nedian Jarok looked at himself in the full-length mirror of his guest

quarters.

"Red," he said smugly, looking at his new uniform, "Much better than

gold."

His transfer was now complete. He would soon be the first officer of

Deep Space Twelve. Even though the assignment wouldn't start for a

while, he was finding the command uniform increasingly comfortable.

The door chime rang.

"Come in," he called. Commander Reginald Parker, his future

commanding officer entered.

"Commander," Nedian said with a smile, "Good to see you again!"

"Same here, Number One," Parker answered with a laugh. Nedian laughed

in return. "Where's your lady friend?" Parker asked.

"She's on the administration deck, taking the Lieutenant's exam,"

Nedian answered. "Despite that mess from the Amagosa, she's going to

try for a promotion anyway."

"Well," Parker commented, "she has a pretty good shot." Parker's

expression suddenly changed.

"I've been sent down here to give you and Tie a special assignment,"

he said.

Nedian Jarok snapped into professional mode.

"It would appear," Parker said, as he placed a PADD on the table,

"that the Dominion has been making waves on Trillian. There have been

several terrorist bombings of civilian sites in the last several

days."

Nedian felt every fiber of his being tense up. He was horrified.

"Go on," he said quietly.

"Starfleet intelligence has also determined that a Trill civil leader

was among the recent casualties."

"Who?" Nedian whispered.

Parker paused.

"Senator Kareel Odan," he answered.

Nedian walked around the room in a state of shock for several moments.

Kareel? His old friend? This couldn't be happening.

"Has this been confirmed?" he finally asked.

"Well," Parker answered, "no body has been recovered, so the Senator

is being listed as "Missing" by the Trill Monarchy."

Nedian nodded. He had no use for the so-called "ceremonial" Monarchy,

but this time they seemed to be making sense. Normally that Monarchy

would have declared her dead and that would have been the end of it.

"Starfleet intelligence assumes," Parker continued, "that the Dominion

wanted to prevent her from becoming Prime Minister."

That made sense. Kareel Odan had become very popular with many Trill,

both Joined and Unjoined. She had become an outspoken opponent of the

oppressive rules of the Symbiosis Commission and the Monarchy, and she

had many supporters. Getting rid of her would create a lot of social

unrest, and that was precisely what the Founders of the Dominion

strive to create, wherever possible. After a few moments, Nedian

finally spoke.

"OK," he said, "I assume I'm going because I'm a Trill and I

understand how delicate this situation could be."

"That's basically the case."

"What does Miri have to do with this?"

"She's an ace in the hole, so to speak," Parker answered. "Something

doesn't seem right about this, and seeing is that she's from a

completely different culture and has no prior knowledge of Trill,

other that what she's obtained from you, she might be able to pick up

things that others would miss. She's a fresh pair of eyes, so to

speak."

Nedian had to agree with this. Something wasn't right with this

picture, and Miri did have a knack for picking up things that others

miss. That was one of the things he loved about her.

"Also," Parker added, "I want her to get some hands on experience with

the workings of a Defiant-class escort."

"Excuse me?"

"Deep Space Twelve will be getting one as a defense craft."

"I know that, but -"

"The Defiant, under the command of Captain Benjamin Sisko, is en route

to Starbase Jenkins. It will be continuing on to Trill shortly after

it picks up you, Tie, and a doctor who just insisted on joining this

mission. I don't have her name at the moment."

Nedian just nodded. He had finally left Trillian behind. Now, he was

being forced to go back there. Life can be strange sometimes.

"When do Miri and I leave for Trill?"

"The Defiant should arrive there in two days. I'm afraid that you and

Tie will have to catch a high-speed transport this afternoon if you're

going to meet them in time. Enjoy the rest of your all-too-short

leave. I have to head out to Sirus. The Surak is about to dismantle

the old observatory, and I want to be there to see that."

"I wish I could be there as well."

"You'll see plenty of the place soon enough," Parker said with a

smile. He started for the door. "In the meantime, go save your home

world."

Parker smiled and walked out. Nedian looked out at the stars,

thinking. His eyes settled on one star in particular. It was an

unremarkable bright spot in the sky. It was the planet orbiting it

that Nedian was concerned with.

Trillian.

Deep Space Nine...

"Final Check, Mister Ries," Sisko called out.

"All systems functioning normally," Ries responded from the back. "We

are ready to depart."

Benjamin Sisko settled himself in the center seat of the Defiant.

Open a channel to the station."

"Channel open," said Ries.

Instantly the viewer came to life, showing a wide view of OPS. Kira

Nerys stood in the middle, Miles to her left and Worf to her right.

"Ready to release docking clamps," Kira said. "On your command."

"Release docking clamps," said Sisko. He looked to con. "Commander

Dax, initiate launch sequence as soon as clamps are released.

Jadzia's hands flew over the console, engaging various thrusters that

allowed the ship to push away from the massive space station. She

continued to operate the console automatically, without thinking about

where they were going or why. It was just best to push all but the

immediate moment from her minds.

"We're clear of the station," Jadzia answered dully.

Sisko nodded. "Good work." Looking back to the viewer, he addressed

the crew members left to "guard the fort."

"Major, Commander, Chief," Sisko said with a smile. "Try to keep my

station in one piece while I'm away."

"We'll certainly try," Kira answered. "And you try not to get yourself

killed, Captain. Best of luck and safe voyage. Deep Space Nine out."

The viewer went blank. Sisko announced. "Attention bridge personnel.

We are permitted to exceed Starfleet speed limitations, *and* we are

permitted to use our cloaking device."

A general chill went through the bridge as crewmen exchanged looks of

controlled shock and apprehension.

"Lay in a course for Starbase Jenkins," Sisko said. "Warp Seven, and

engage cloak."

"Aye, sir." Jadzia said, keeping her attention solely focused on the

panel. Punching in the coordinates, she engaged the cloaking device

and the warp engine.

Cloaking was an eerie feeling. Everything was much more silent, and

voices took on a hollow, echoing quality. The ship around them also

seemed a bit insubstantial. It was always a disquieting feeling, but

with the mission ahead, there was a lot more things to be disquiet

over.

"Expected ETA to Starbase Jenkins is thirty-six hours," Jadzia

informed Sisko.

"Very good. Dax, you are relieved. Mr. Ries, take the conn."

Jadzia turned around, unable to mask her disappointment. "Benjamin?"

"No 'but's', Dax. I won't have a sleepy helmsman on my bridge. You

haven't been getting a decent night's sleep lately. Go to your

quarters and rest. That's an order. If necessary, I want you to

report to Sickbay and have Dr. Bashir administer a sedative."

Jadzia winced a little at the mention of Julian's name. She wasn't too

sure as to why. After all, everything had been resolved between them,

right?

She nodded coolly. "Yes, Captain." Transferring control to the human,

she left the bridge and headed for her quarters.

However, she didn't get very much sleep.

She tossed and turned, nightmare images of what awaited her on Trill

filling every corner of her two minds. Did she *now* regret her talk

with Nedian?

She got up and started to walk around, trying to wear off her nervous

energy. Later, she sat cross-legged before her makeshift altar, and

tried to meditate on stability. No wild fluctuations of emotions.

Stability, order, peace, and guidance. She closed her eyes and tried

to meditate on those values.

*Deep breath in, hold it, exhale. Repeat until you are balanced.*

She still couldn't concentrate on much of anything except how nice it

would be if only she could sleep.

The chronometer said that she had been awake for three hours now. The

part of her that was still logical told her that she really should go

down to the Sickbay and ask for a sedative. After all, she had nothing

to fear from Julian. Gods knew the human was about as harmless as they

got.

*I never told you this before, Julian,* she remembered. *but I've

always been afraid of doctors...*

Damned ironic. The night she admitted that to him was the last time

she was headed to Trill. She was going crazy due to Joran, and had

gone to his quarters, just looking to talk to him.

Now, she didn't have that option. The last thing she wanted to do was

approach Julian. Why?

Gods, she didn't know.

Another half hour passed. Growing irrationally angry at her lack of

courage, she rolled out of the hard bunk and started a walk to

Sickbay.

Julian was trying to distract himself by sorting and resorting the

meager supplies in the joke the Defiant called a sickbay.

He was putting his engineering courses to work again by fixing the

diagnostic unit on one of the biobeds when the door hissed open. He

looked up.

Jadzia came in, looking thoroughly irritated.

*Oh, oh.* thought Julian.

Breathing deep, he put on his most neutral bedside manner. "Is there

anything I can help you with, Dax?"

She sighed. "I'm not able to sleep."

Julian took out a tricorder. "I'm reading adrenaline, elevated blood

pressure... basic signs of stress. Nothing else is wrong." He sighed,

and put the tricorder away. "I'll get you an alpha-wave inducer. That

should help," he said walking to the back.

Jadzia tried to stop from going even crazier than she already was,

repeating like a mantra that she *wasn't* going to think about the

last trip back to Trill.

Julian emerged from the back with a small device. "Don't use this for

more than a few days, because it will start disrupting your R.E.M.

patterns. If you are still needing it after a week, let me know."

She nodded coolly. "I will."

He had an almost stricken look on his face, but Jadzia had to ignore

it as she got up and trudged out of the sickbay, trying hard to blot

it out of her mind.

She was willing herself to keep going, not to stay and ask him

anything. Not to talk to him like they had when they were still

friends. There was almost a tangible pull drawing her back, a pull she

was fighting with all her mental discipline.

He called after her, "Dax."

She whipped around.

"I know this can't be easy. I'm letting you know that if you need

someone to talk to, I'm here."

She snapped at him, "I'll be fine, *doctor.*" Shaking her head, she

composed herself and said neutrally. "Thank you for your help."

She turned and left Sickbay.

With a feeling not quite unlike being slammed in the chest with a

500-kilogram weight, Julian sat down, realizing that the preceding

conversation was the longest he'd spent with her in the past six

months.

*What happened? What happened to her? To me?*

Detachment. He'd been feeling a lot of it lately. A piece of his life

was missing. He'd tried to hide from it in holosuites, in a somber

performance of his medical duties, and in a bed shared with Leeta, but

he couldn't escape that awful feeling of isolation and loss.

Damn her! And damn him for being the fool once again!

Looking to the door, he scowled.

*Fine, if that's the way she wants it,* he thought. *I'm tired of

being there for her if I'm only going to be treated like dirt. She

thinks she can manage on her own. Maybe I ought to let her go - once

and for all. Get on with my life.*

He didn't look away from the door for a very long time.

* * * *

Going straight to his quarters after he got off-duty, Julian grabbed

the small pocketwatch and hung it on one of the table's protruding

bolts. Sitting just out of reach of it, he tried to concentrate.

*All right, Julian. You know what she told you. Clear your head, and

take a deep breath, hold it, then out.*

He concentrated on the shiny gold watch as he tried to remember the

old pattern. He hadn't practiced with Jadzia since they decided to

stay apart.

*Don't tense.*

The pocketwatch was one of the more curious of the few artifacts he

had on DS9 with him. He only told people that it was a gift from his

father, changing the subject when they tried to probe any deeper. He

brought it with him to help him relax. The soothing ticking was a

wonderful sleep aid.

Time. That was what he and Jadzia needed. Time to sort things out.

This was so wrong, but it didn't really matter. He knew, just as she

did, that what happened that night before her *j'fall'an* wedding was

a mistake. Still, they weren't friends anymore, and an unspoken

barrier had formed, so they weren't exactly lovers, either. Honestly,

he didn't know what he felt for Jadzia anymore.

After Teldar left, they made an agreement not to rush into a romantic

relationship. Part of that agreement was that they went off seeing

different people. Jadzia had even put him on a blind date with Leeta,

and he realized why he had dropped her in the first place. The woman

was empty from the neck up. He should have realized that from the

first time she had approached him with that "terrible cough" -- still,

he knew why Jadzia wanted him to forget, and he couldn't blame her for

trying.

Leeta was out of his life now. Never like she really was *in* his life

to begin with. Their relationship, bluntly put, was strictly

physical.

Not that he minded it. After all, the sex was very good. Still, there

were things he really missed. Good conversation for one. Leeta hardly

read anything but the cheap novels coming off Bajor's popular presses,

books Julian really had little taste in. Leeta also seemed incapable

of philosophical musings. Whenever he tried to ask an opinion out of

her, the answer seemed to always be, "You think too much."

Maybe he *did* think too much, but if anything, Leeta thought too

little. Sure, she talked a lot. However, the more Leeta talked, the

more Julian wondered if there were any brains in her red-topped head.

It was almost a relief to tell her that it was over.

The ticking of the pocketwatch was rather soothing. After a while,

Julian felt tired. He slipped into some pajamas and readied himself

for sleep.

*Everything worked out fine,* Julian told himself as he curled up, and

pulled the blankets around his shoulders. *I'm over both of them.*

*If that's the case, why are you feeling like a wreck?*

At least Garak was glad. He always *had* been perplexed as to what

Julian saw in that empty-headed girl in the first place. When Julian

told Garak that he and Leeta were finished, the tailor seemed quite

pleased.

"Well, my dear doctor, I don't suppose she was meant to be your

lifemate in the first place."

"Lifemate? Who said I was looking for a lifemate?"

"Doctor," he purred, "We are *always* looking for the other half of

ourselves. It's instinct."

"Instinct for a Cardassian, maybe."

"No, friend, I think all creatures have that instinct. For example,

take the crystal bug on Cardassia. It wanders in the same pack for

years, scouting out every potential mate, but when it comes their

time, they choose one, and only one to mate with, and that mating is

for life. No one has been able to figure out how the crystal bug

chooses a mate. They've tried to raise crystal bug pairs in captivity,

and very few pair off."

"Incompatibility?"

"That's the closest explanation our scientists can come up with,"

Garak said, blowing the steam off another spoonful of soup.

"Nice explanation, Garak, but I'm afraid I'm not a bug."

"Never said you were, *doctor*, merely pointing out an example of

native arthropod life on Cardassia."

"Cut to the point, Garak. You're saying Leeta and I broke it off

because we aren't compatible?"

"Exactly. She needed only a passing, physical relationship. You, my

friend, are looking for a soul mate. You came in needing very

different things."

"I'm not looking for anything, and since when did you become an expert

relationship therapist?"

He shook his large head. "Ah, have it your way. As for my

credentials," Garak quipped. "You well know that I am a man of many

talents, and people have a tendency to get rather chatty when they are

getting their measurements done."

So he was alone again, and he really didn't mind. In fact, it gave him

plenty of time to think. Think about Leeta (Garak had been right in

pointing out that she was completely wrong for him), think about Garak

(who had seen right through him once again), and take a mental

inventory of his life now.

Was Garak right? Was he searching for someone to share his whole life

with? Well, he had noticed that the pang in his stomach at seeing the

O'Briens had intensified over time. He also thought, with distaste,

that until a short time ago, he wouldn't have minded continuing with

Leeta, despite the shallow nature of their relationship.

*A soul mate, my soul mate. Is that who I'm *really* trying to find?*

With that question on his mind, Julian fell into a troubled sleep.

Continued...

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

|Richard J. Pugh, MLS | Traveling Eternity Road, |

| RJPugh@ids.net | What will you find there? |

| RJPugh@aol.com | Carrying your heavy load, |

| PUGH.RICHARD@epamail.epa.gov | Searching to find, a peace of mind |

| http://www.ids.net/~rjpugh/ | - The Moody Blues |

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

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From: rjpugh@ids.net (Richard J. Pugh)

Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative

Subject: The First Tile - 6 (PG-13, DS9/TNG/Amagosa)

Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 02:10:35 GMT

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The First Tile

by Jessica M. Krucek and Richard J. Pugh

Chapter 6

Beverly Crusher had packed her bags in a hurry and all but demanded to

go on this mission.

It had been a long ride from Caldos on a freighter. After all, she was

on leave from Starfleet, and was only able to convince Alik after

telling him that she would be able to lend an extra hand to the

medical teams.

Honestly, she couldn't put the finger on why she was so nervous. After

all, it wasn't like she had known Odan that long, and she certainly

didn't know Kareel Odan all that well. The last she'd seen of Kareel

Odan was when she walked out of the Enterprise's sickbay and back to

the Trill ship.

During to ride to Starbase Jenkins, she had a long time to go over

memories of three weeks she'd sooner *not* relive.

He'd been dashing, clever, warm and gentle. She'd once told Deanna

that she'd fallen in love in a day and made it last a week. With Odan,

she'd fallen in love in two days, and lived the most bizarre three

weeks of her life.

In a way, it would have been much easier if Odan had died with its

Host. After all, when she lost Jack, it had been forever. Fate was a

little crueler when it came to Luz Odan the Younger.

The Trill Symbiosis Commission had sent her Odan's file. From there,

she had learned more than she ever wanted to know about her lover.

Four Hosts came before Luz the Younger. Luz the Elder had negotiated

the treaty with the Peliarians. Odan had even been a woman named

Semorli a little under a hundred years ago.

Then, the transplant to Will and all that came with it. The face was

the same, but it definitely wasn't Will behind the blue-gray eyes.

Afterward, Deanna asked him about Odan, and he remembered absolutely

nothing of the entire week. The last thing he remembered was talking

with Deanna before going in for the transplant.

In a way, that was the biggest blessing.

Now, six and a half years later, Beverly heard from the Federation

News Services. Senator Kareel Odan listed as missing and presumed

dead? She had to know what had happened for herself. Perhaps this

would finally bury that nagging loose end.

Finally at Starbase Jenkins, she was brought aboard. Waiting for her

was a Bajoran woman in grimy technician's coveralls. Her hair was back

in a ponytail, and an emerald earring graced her ear.

"Doctor Crusher?" she asked.

Beverly nodded. "Good. We were waiting for you. The Defiant should be

here in about five hours."

"Who are you?"

She grinned widely and stood military straight. "Ensign First Class

Tie Miri, Doctor. I was called away from helping a work crew when you

arrived."

"What's an Ensign First Class?" Beverly asked.

"I don't know ma'am, but apparently I'm one," Miri answered.

"I see," Beverly said. "Do you know where I can put my bag?"

She nodded. "A storage locker is this way."

After they had put the bag in a storage locker, Miri looked around. "I

suppose I ought to clean up. I'll find Ned... uh, Commander Jarok to

take you somewhere to eat."

Beverly covered her mouth with her hand. "You don't need to be afraid

of my rank, Miri. Technically, I'm on a sabbatical from Starfleet."

"Oh?"

She explained, "Ever since the Enterprise was destroyed, I've been

doing some thinking about my life and what I want out of it. Maybe

it's time to settle down on Caldos."

"Caldos; Oh, yeah. Visited there once as a cadet with some friends of

mine. Reminded me a lot of Nanacor province on Bajor. That's where I'm

from." Her features then darkened.

"What's wrong?"

Miri shook her head. "Things happened on Bajor. I'm not very welcome

there

anymore. It's a long story."

Beverly nodded. "With Bajorans, it probably is. One the Enterprise, we

had a Bajoran helm officer. Unfortunately, the last we heard from her,

she went into the Maquis."

"A lot of Bajorans have," Miri said sadly. "Including my ex-fiancee.

Some of them never stopped fighting Cardassians, I guess. Now with the

Klingons nearby, the Maquis have it even worse."

"So," said Beverly. "Computer, where is Commander Jarok?"

Lieutenant Commander Jarok is in his quarters the computer

droned.

Miri pointed down a corridor. "This way."

When they arrived, Nedian was sitting at the table, transfixed by the

monitor, a horrible expression frozen to his face. He made no sound,

only sat very still. The light from the monitor glinted off wet

streaks on his face.

"Nedian?" Miri asked.

He turned, the seat creaking. Miri threw off all pretenses of decorum

and ran over to him, kneeling by him, and bringing her warm hands to

his face to wipe the tears away.

Nedian slowly embraced Miri, and cried silently into her shoulder.

Beverly could tell by their demeanor that Ensign Tie and Commander

Jarok were much closer than colleagues or even friends. Beverly

guessed that they were probably married.

"Ned," said Miri. "Tell me what's wrong."

"She's dead, Miri. Aylia is dead. Her Initiate Supervisor found her

this morning. She'd eaten a basket full of *telka* berries. There was

nothing anyone could do."

She pulled him closer. "Oh, Nedian. I'm sorry."

"I told my family I was coming to Trill...I'll be at the funeral.

They also told me that you're welcome to attend, if you want to."

"I'll be with you, Ned. Aylia was very special to you."

"The worst part of it," said Nedian. "She was in the top two percent

of her Initiate Class. I'll have to get a hold of her record and

figure out why she was washed out of the program."

Miri smoothed his hair. "Are you going to be all right? The Defiant

will be here in about four more hours."

He patted her shoulder. "I'll... be okay, Miri. You get cleaned up."

He straightened out his uniform and stood up, military style.

She nodded and stood up, finally noticing that Beverly hadn't moved

from the place right inside the doorway.

"I'll leave," Beverly said.

"It's...all right, Doctor," Nedian said, finally pulling up his

composure.

Miri nodded quietly, and discreetly ducked into the bathroom.

"Doctor Beverly Crusher," he said formally, standing and walking over

to her. "Yes, you're Odan's friend."

*More than that,* Beverly remembered. She shook Nedian's hand. "Yes.

I asked to come when I heard of Senator Odan's disappearance."

Nedian nodded with understanding. "Kareel and I spent our teen years

together. The Odan Symbiont has been in her clan, much the same as

the Jarok Symbiont's been in mine." *The Torvigan clause is the only

way the Commission would allow a Northerner to get a symbiont in the

first place* he added silently.

"Then, you are..."

"Joined. Yes, I am. Nedian is the Seventh Host."

"I can't say as I am too comfortable with the Trill, Commander."

"Neither am I," he grumbled. "Which is why I'm hoping events on Trill

are really due to the Dominion."

"You suspect they aren't?" Beverly asked.

"More than suspect, Doctor." Nedian was walking over to the

replicator. "Can I get you something?"

"Oh, Lemon tea."

Nedian shrugged. "Sounds good to me. Two lemon teas."

The replicator materialized two piping hot mugs of tea. Nedian sat

across from Beverly, sipping his tea, and gazing at the stars.

"I hear that it it's rare to keep a Symbiont in one clan." said

Beverly.

"Technically, it's illegal," said Nedian, "But there's a loophole

called the Torvigan Clause. If a clan can trace their line back to the

High Court of any of the Ten Monarchs, they are allowed to have a

Symbiont stay in their clan. Only about twenty families on record are

eligible."

"Who was Aylia?" she asked.

Nedian answered, still looking out the window. "My younger sister. She

is... was an Initiate in the Host Program. You see, most young people

are put through a lot of testing very early. If they're eligible, it's

expected of them to go into the Host Program. To be Joined, one has to

go through the Program. About one in a hundred graduate the program

and are Joined. Being Joined is my homeworld's highest honor."

"I take it you disapprove of the system."

Nedian sighed tiredly. "It really doesn't matter what I believe. I'm

just glad Starfleet gave me an opportunity to get off Trillian."

"Ned," came Miri's voice from the back. "Do you have your bags

packed?"

"Under the bed, Miri. I'll get it."

"Your wife?" Beverly asked.

Nedian shook his head, then disposed of his empty cup in the

replicator. "No, and the reasons why are very complicated. We have

talked about it."

Miri came out of the back, toweling off her hair and dressed in a

yellow Starfleet uniform. She looked at the wall chronometer. "The

Defiant will be here soon. Doctor Crusher and I already put our bags

in the storage cabinet by airlock three."

Nedian walked back to the bedroom and grabbed his suitcase. "Then,

we'd better be ready," he said, walking out of the room.

Nedian took a deep breath before leaving. Many lives had taught him to

deal with many losses, and training told him not to care.

He frowned. It was the same training that led to his sister poisoning

herself. It was best to let Miri do the talking. He was in no shape to

talk to anyone, and Miri understood that.

The question kept nagging him. Why would Aylia kill herself? His

imagination kept cooking up scenarios of the Symbiosis Commission

"terminating" her the way they disposed of Joran Dax.

He'd heard the story from Julian, during one of the few times

Busswell *didn't* have everyone on a top-secret Klingon hunt. Joran

had been Joined by accident. In fact, he probably should have been

rejected outright due to his emotional instability and hostile

tendencies. Still, he *had* been Joined, then killed by order of the

Symbiosis Commission. Commission workers, led by an Azure Guard

trooper, came into his home during the middle of the night. Joran had

been working on a composition late, and managed to put up a fight all

the way. He even managed to escape for a few hours after breaking the

neck of one of the Commission doctors. He was re-captured, taken to a

surgery suite, and had Dax ripped out of him. The report listed his

cause of death as "Separation." Nedian knew from listening to his

dying grandmother (and previous Host) that Separation was a prolonged

and painful death.

And those bastards had *blocked* all Dax's memories of Joran for fear

of their secret. Not that Nedian could blame them *too* much. With the

way things were on Trill, all hell would break loose if it was

discovered the Almighty Board made an *error.*

He remembered yelling every swear word Trill and Romulus had invented

in his lifetimes. He must have given Miri, and a lot of others, a good

scare.

It couldn't be that way in Aylia's death, though. Maybe she had just

cracked under the strain. So many Initiates did.

*To whatever Gods will still listen,* he thought. *Help me get through

this.*

The Defiant docked without any ceremony. Its visit was be so brief

that the crew didn't bother to shut down the warp core. The

passengers from Jenkins boarded the ship quickly, and were quickly

assigned quarters. Nedian was almost going to tell the ensign leading

them here that he and Miri weren't going to need separate quarters,

then he remembered where he was going.

Beverly had mistaken Miri for his wife, and in a way it was quite

flattering. He had warned Miri about his homeworld, though. She had to

be careful, as did he. It was one of the sickest systems Nedian had

ever seen, and the fact that it was his own homeworld made him even

angrier.

The ship had popped into warp as soon as they loaded everyone and got

clear of the base.

Just as Nedian was finished unpacking, the doorchime sounded.

"Come in,"

The door hissed open, and Miri stood in the arch. "Ned, can I come

in?"

He smiled. "Go ahead, Miri. I could use someone to talk to."

She walked in slowly, the door closing behind her. She sat next to

Nedian on the bed, and took his hands.

"I remember when one of my brothers went off to fight in the

Resistance. He never told anyone who he was. We only know it was him

because a Cardassian prison guard who had been working for the

Resistance sent his earring back to us."

"Bajoran sympathizers among the Cardassians?

"There were a few. Some of them were protesting Cardassian government,

some of them were bribed for information, most of them were people who

had no choice but to serve in the armies, and were just as appalled by

the killing. I mean, you *heard* of Amin Marritza. He went as far as

to make himself look like 'The Butcher of Gallitep' and try to take

the blame for the Gul's war crimes." Her voice dropped to a grumble.

"He was murdered in cold blood for his trouble."

Nedian nodded. "I suppose with the things going on, Marritza wasn't

the only one feeling powerless and guilty. Still with the Obsidian

Order the way it was, I'd have to admire their courage."

Miri shook her head. "My brother had been executed as part of a raid.

I think that's what killed my Mum faster than the cancer, and it aged

Dad almost twenty years."

Nedian looked down at her hands. "Thank you, Miri. For being here."

Nedian watch the streaking stars out the window. "I only hope that the

situation on Trill is not what I'm suspecting."

Miri gripped his hands. "I'm here, Nedian. You know I'll listen."

He kissed her cheek. "I know, sweetheart. Thank you so much."

"Thank you," said Julian.

"I meant it as fact, Julian. You *have* come a long way since the

Academy." Beverly sorted another rack of medical supplies from the

Starbase. "You should have seen the look on my face when I heard about

the Carrington. When you came to the Enterprise, you mentioned you

were doing the research, but I never thought it would go the lengths

it did." She shook her head. "Definitely a far cry from the intern I

knew eight years ago."

"Speaking of the last time I saw you," he said. "How is Data doing

with the dream program?"

"I haven't heard from him since the *Enterprise* was destroyed, but

last I saw of him, he was doing just fine."

"You should have seen the look on *my* face when I heard about the

emotion chip," he said. "Imagine the kinds of dreams he must be having

now!"

"Dreams and nightmares."

"He is a lot more human than he gives himself credit for," Julian

said. "Or what a lot of people give him credit for."

Beverly shoved another crate onto a low shelf. "I'll give you that."

"So, what have you been doing since the *Enterprise* was destroyed?"

"I've taken a leave of absence and gone back to Caldos. I told you

that my grandmother owned a cottage there. Very cosy. Next time you're

free for a while, come by and I'll have a pot of tea ready."

"Sounds good," Julian said, opening another crate. "Tarkalian?"

"Still drinking that, huh? I'm almost sorry I served it to you. Are

you still putting a lot of sugar in it?"

"As much sugar as I did back in the Academy."

Beverly grinned as she turned around. "That's okay, I have my bad

habits, too. Croissants can be very fattening."

Julian unpacked some medkits and stacked them on one of the middle

shelves. "So, Beverly. Why give up tea on Caldos to come to Trill with

us?"

She sighed. "I knew Senator Odan, or rather Odan's previous Host."

Julian frowned. "Oh. Have you been to Trill before?"

"No. Have you?"

"A year ago, Jadzia was very sick. We had to take her back to the

doctors on her homeworld."

"I take it you had trouble with them."

"Let's just say that I'd sooner not deal with them again and leave it

at that."

Beverly knew that she wasn't going to get any more answers right now.

One thing she had learned about him, was that if he had made up his

mind not to say something, he wouldn't say it. Even as a green medical

student, he could keep a secret or two. One of the things that made

him so promising. She suspected that part of the reason was that he

had a few dark personal secrets hidden beneath the warm and cheerful

manner.

"So how are you and Jadzia?"

He groaned. "Beverly..."

"Well, you know that I can't really bother Wesley anymore," she said.

"He'll materialize out of thin air once, maybe twice a year."

"The Traveler is keeping him busy?"

"Apparently so. He'll probably be bouncing around the Milky Way until

he's forty. He's just as much an explorer as his father, and equally

stubborn." She cleared her throat. "Now, *Doctor,* you tell me how

you are doing with Jadzia. Your last letter read like love poetry."

"It's far from poetry now," Julian said tiredly. "My head wasn't too

clear after Teldar left, neither was Jadzia's. We're... well, I don't

know what to call our relationship."

"I'm sorry. The two of you seemed to be very close."

Julian nodded silently, suddenly feeling very alone.

Jadzia flicked on the inducer for the second night in a row. She must

have been tossing and turning for hours.

She looked over to the table they put in the quarters. They had been

doing some work on the Defiant. Seeing as how they were on it for

longer periods of time now, a few improvements to the quarters (like

blankets, monitors, tables, and chairs) had been made. It was still

far from comfortable, though. Granted, Worf though it was perfect.

When the Defiant was docked at Deep Space Nine, he maintained quarters

there. But then, Klingons enjoy sleeping on slabs of plywood or

steel. Such was not the case with most humanoids.

On one end, she had brought her idols of Kele and Tosa. They stood on

purple cloth, and magnets from a store on the Promenade kept them from

falling off the table if there was a slight jolt. It kept them on her

shelf back on the station.

Worf had insisted she keep the bat'leth, so she had it here. If there

was a fight on the Defiant, she had to be prepared.

Those were the only personal things she brought with her. She had her

uniform, and a couple changes of clothing in her suitcase, but she was

quite used to traveling light. It was a habit from Curzon, she

guessed.

Trillian. She had some pretty horrible memories of there, thanks to

Joran. She also remembered Teldar, and the things his work revealed.

How could she go back with the knowledge she had?

"Computer, what time is it?" she asked.

Oh-two forty-three hours.

She turned on the inducer, and pulled the blanket around her

shoulders, feeling very alone. A familiar voice at the door.

"Jadzia?"

Apparently she had gotten some sleep after all. She slept right

through the brief stop at Jenkins.

She opened the door to her quarters. Nedian grinned back at her

"Come here you romantic fool!" she said as Nedian entered and gave her

a huge hug.

"Having trouble?" he asked.

"Is it that obvious?"

"I asked the computer if you were asleep." He put on a sad smile. "I

can't sleep either." He then pulled out his hand from behind his back.

"Thought a few rounds of Tagmon would help."

"Always did when we were in Candidate School," Jadzia answered.

"Still, Kareel would always clean both of us out in a matter of

minutes. She had a gift..." his voice dropped. "A real gift for

observation."

"We'll find her killers, Nedian."

"I hope so, Jaz," he said darkly.

They moved some of the items on the table aside. Nedian scowled as he

caught sight of her idols.

"Jaz..."

"Nedian, don't start. I told you I'm trying to get re-balanced, trying

to hold on to something that makes sense."

He shook his head. "You *know* what I think..."

"Yes," she snapped. "I know." She moved the altar to a corner of the

room. "Better?"

Nedian sighed. "All right."

They sat down and activated the game. The holographic display shot up

from the PADD. A grid was peppered with five orange disks and five

blue disks. The goal was to try and get past your opponent's defenses

with your disks while preventing him from going into your territory.

About midway through a stalemate in the second game, Nedian looked up

at Jadzia. "Jaz?"

"What, Nedian?"

"Do you really think that the Dominion's behind this?"

She paused the game just as her piece was about to make it to Nedian's

border. She really didn't want to say what she thought of it all.

"We'll know when we get there," she answered curtly.

"For the record," said Nedian. "I don't think so, either."

Continued...

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

|Richard J. Pugh, MLS | Traveling Eternity Road, |

| RJPugh@ids.net | What will you find there? |

| RJPugh@aol.com | Carrying your heavy load, |

| PUGH.RICHARD@epamail.epa.gov | Searching to find, a peace of mind |

| http://www.ids.net/~rjpugh/ | - The Moody Blues |

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

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From: rjpugh@ids.net (Richard J. Pugh)

Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative

Subject: The First Tile - 7 (PG-13, DS9/TNG/Amagosa)

Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 02:10:41 GMT

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The First Tile

by Jessica M. Krucek and Richard J. Pugh

Chapter 7

The Domino Effect

"In a world that really has been turned on its head, truth is a moment

of falsehood."

-Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle

"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains -- however

improbable -- must be the truth"

-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"Assuming high standard orbit around Trill, Captain." Ries announced

from his terminal.

"Any ship activity in the area, Ensign?"

"Only the Azure Guard Patrol ships." Miri answered. "About a hundred

runabout sized ships in a three light-year radius."

From a console in the back, Nedian checked his panel. "There's a hail

from..." He seemed taken aback. "Monarch Jarmalon."

"I thought the communications grid was out."

"The Palace has its own communications line. That, and emergency

frequencies are being used. It seems as though the civilian

communications band took the most damage."

Jadzia whipped around in her seat, surprised. The Monarch of Trill

speaking to a Starfleet ship directly? This must be serious.

"On screen, Mr. Jarok," Sisko said, unfazed.

The screen flashed the Yunnuth symbol, then to the Monarch. He was an

elderly, but healthy man with thinning hair and sharp eyes. His speech

was highly refined and direct.

"Captain Sisko, I presume?"

"Yes, Monarch. We're here about the Dominion threat."

He nodded. "I know. I would be more than happy to brief you myself.

I've given your ship the coordinates to the nearest safe transporter

site. It's about a kilometer from my palace. How many people in your

investigating party?"

Sisko thought a moment. "Commander Dax, Constable Odo, Doctor Bashir,

Commander Jarok, Ensign Tie, and myself."

"I also heard from Starbase Jenkins that you have an extra doctor to

coordinate the medical efforts."

"Yes, Dr. Crusher is ready to beam down and lend aid."

"Bring her to this as well. I have heard that she was a friend of

Senator Odan."

Sisko nodded. "Agreed. I look forward to meeting you."

"As I you, Captain. Monarch Jarmalon out."

The Yunnuth flashed on the screen again.

Miri spoke up. "Permission to stay aboard, sir? I'm not through

calibrating the sensor array."

"How long will it take?"

"One more hour with the work crew, maybe two. If there's another

bombing, I want to be able to gather as much data about it as

possible. It might also help Commander Jarok puzzle out why the

communications grid is off-line. I'd also like to look over

Starfleet's reports on the *J'Tallak.*"

"Granted," said Sisko. "The rest of the landing party is to meet me in

Transporter room one in ten minutes."

* * * *

Going to Trill again. It didn't take him long to remember his distaste

for this planet, or the circumstances that brought him here in the

first place.

Jadzia had been very sick, sicker than he knew how to deal with. She

had come to him, and confessed how afraid she was. Julian later found

out why. The Complex was where Initiates and Joined Trills alike went

to die. Initiates were reborn as the Joined, and Joined Trills died of

their illnesses, Hosts sacrificed as casually as one would squash an

annoying insect.

To make matters worse, the Board had known all along what had made

Jadzia so sick. At one point, he could have cheerfully taken a phaser

grenade to the whole damn complex.

Nedian and Jadzia were walking the familiar streets, accustomed to the

location and attitude of Parsee City.

Other things about Trill made Julian very uneasy. He toured the city,

marveling in the fine multi-layered architecture. Apparently the Trill

way of thinking was all based in layers. Layers of memories on a

foundation of symbiont in the case of the Joined. Layers of

responsibility and secrecy to those of both castes.

It was also not too hard to notice all the holocameras and the people

in blue, lightweight coveralls. Azure Guard, Jadzia had told him once.

The royal guard and planetary defense force. Very well-trained, and

very loyal to the Trill Monarch (technically, a figurehead). Jadzia

had pointed them out when she led Julian and Ben down this very street

on their way out to the Symbiont caves under the mountain Parsee City

was built on.

Beverly was next to Nedian, asking questions. Odo and Sisko stayed

near Jadzia. Julian trudged behind. They passed by a restaurant.

Julian stopped, watching people eat, talk, read their PADDs, and

relax, observing firsthand the kind of social structure that his

friend grew up in.

He could tell which among them were Joined. A different kind of walk,

a different kind of feeling that Julian could practically hear like

the shout of the street vendors. The Unjoined showed complete

deference to them, addressing them by some word that Jadzia told him

meant "Parent." An Unjoined couple (the woman was very pregnant) gave

up their seat to two Joined men with a reverential, "No, we were just

leaving, Parent."

They took their meals, and Julian watched them take a drafty spot near

the kitchen. The Joined men laughed and chatted business without so

much as a glance or a "thank you" to the poor couple that were eating

at the worst seat in the house.

Another odd thing he noticed was the lack of any sort of genuine

emotion. Everything seemed to be scripted. As the charge of a

diplomat, he had seen many worlds, and many customs, from the Vulcan's

cool courtesy, to fire-tempered Bajorans heatedly expressing

themselves in full view of the Prophets and passers-by, Deltans who

needed little seclusion for displays of affection, and the appealingly

open Betazoid street with its cheerful colors and equally cheerful and

exuberant people.

On every world Julian had traveled to, he had let the local atmosphere

seep into him, almost like picking up a "feel" for a place, and the

feeling he was picking up here was very uncomfortable. Frankly, he'd

felt better on Cardassia Prime!

Teldar Sobel carried that feeling with him, like a smell. One look,

and Julian was very uncomfortable. Was it just because Teldar Sobel

was going to marry a very important person in his life, and that he

didn't seem to care? Was it his Joined bigotry that Julian found so

repulsive?

He'd never really know, would he?

He realized that the others were far ahead of him, and he had to run

to catch up.

Beverly had fallen behind, and Julian caught up to her. She was sizing

up the Azure Guard with wariness. She also seemed to be counting the

holocameras they passed.

"The Dominion must be a very big threat for the Trill Government to

order these kind of security measures."

"No Beverly," Julian grumbled. "It was like this last year, the last

time I came to Trill."

They reached the Palace gates. Two of the Azure Guard were standing on

duty, armed with phaser rifles. When they approached the gates, a

third came up to them. After checking ID's, she drew some blood from

each of their wrists (save Odo's), and ran it through a scanner.

She checked the scanner, nodded, then opened the gate and allowed them

in, taking their phasers, and scanning them for hidden weapons. Two

more guards waiting to escort them. She cleared them, and the followed

the two guards.

The highest ranking of them said to Sisko, "Captain, the Monarch

awaits you in the Greater Throne Room. He has asked to speak to your

party personally."

"I'm honored," said Sisko as neutrally as possible.

The guard smiled. "It is an honor to greet a hero. Jarok and Dax have

also become quite famous."

Nedian and Jadzia exchanged a furtive look.

Leading them to the end of the grand hallway, the guards opened two

large doors.

The Throne room was very old, but very elegant. The floor was polished

black stone, catching the reflection of the statues on either side of

the door. They were large copper pieces, carved into *sejali*,

graceful animals that reminded Julian of Great Danes with slightly

distended stomachs. That had led to their old legends. Like Earth

owls, *sejali* were the Trill creatures of wisdom, and a favored

symbol of the monarchy.

Beverly was in awe of the artwork as she studiously examined the

graceful curves of the copper statues and the copper work gilding the

white stone walls. Odo was inspecting it, hands behind his back and

eyes out for suspicious activity. Jadzia seemed amazed to even be in

this room, while Nedian seemed to be quietly surveying the

furnishings. Sisko watched the guards. Julian continued to examine

the art.

A mosaic on one wall depicted the wedding of Queen Atlin and King

Jokal, the first *j'fall'an.* Surrounding the picture were pictures of

the Ten Monarchs.

One the other wall, a tapestry depicted a woman Julian knew to be Kele

towering over another woman. In her arms, the woman held the sprawled

body of a man. Kele was as harsh as always, and the woman appeared to

be begging.

Nedian glanced up, then sniffed with distaste. "Philos and Xantipar."

"Care to tell me the legend?" asked Julian.

Nedian's voice was quiet, not to let the guards hear. "Tima Xantipar

was the eleventh child of Atlin and Jokal. She was Joined, as

according to Kele's wishes, and told to rule Rhyl, one of the larger

sub-continents."

"What happened?"

"She met Philos, the majordomo of her palace. He was Unjoined, but he

quite enjoyed serving the queen. Xantipar could often be seen talking

with Philos, laughing with him..."

"She enjoyed his company."

"Exactly."

"Then what happened?"

The Guard interrupted by shouting. "The Honorable and Wise Monarch

Jarmalon, Crown Prince Kalidon, and General Hurek of the Azure Guard."

An elderly, but refined gentleman walked through one of the doors,

flanked by a much younger man and a disgruntled-looking man in the

Azure Guard uniform. The whole of the party stood at attention.

Jarmalon approached them, and nodded coolly.

"Captain Sisko," he said. "Welcome to Trillian." Looking over the rest

of the party, he nodded and regarded each in turn.

" Dr. Bashir, I heard about your nomination for the Carrington. I

believe the year before you were nominated, one of Trill's top

physicians was in the running... Dr. Crusher, Ah yes, Senator Odan

spoke of you in one of her speeches. Said that the Symbiosis

Commission doctors could learn something from your skills."

Beverly smiled gently.

Jarmalon addressed Odo next. "Constable, I understand you helped the

commander when Admiral Leyton tried to establish martial law on

Earth."

"Yes," Odo said gruffly. "It's been proven that while there *are*

Dominion infiltrators in the Alpha Quadrant, they weren't ready for a

serious offensive."

The Monarch frowned. "Perhaps not on Earth. Trill is a major world of

the Federation, but not the home of Starfleet."

"Trill also has a much more... sedate history than Earth," commented

Odo, "And your social order seems a bit more strict than most

Federation worlds."

Nedian raised his eyebrows. Well, *he* certainly had very little in

the way of tact.

"We pride ourselves on our stability and order, Constable. If anything

or anyone threatens that stability and order, they are a threat to

all."

"You think like a Changeling," grumbled Odo.

"Perhaps that is the key to catching them. I assure you all that I am

not a changeling, and neither are my guard. We take blood samples

often, and the Guard watches each other. I have two guards monitor me

at all hours, even as I sleep."

"You would be a good target," said Odo. "Even if your political power

is minimal, your status as a symbol for your people would greatly be

affected."

"And, as Commander Dax can tell you, Constable," said Prince Kalidon.

"We can't let that happen."

Sisko said diplomatically. "I'm a little curious as to why you wished

to speak to us personally about the Dominion threat."

"It's because my guard keeps me briefed. The Azure guard reports

everything to me, since, technically, they are under my command. I'm

making an effort to stay well-informed. In fact, whatever you discover

about the Dominion threat, I want you to tell it to me directly,

or..."

Jarmalon stood. "May introduce you to Lieutenant Colonel Lesal. His

squadron is among the top planetary defense units in the entire

Federation. He'll be your guide and contact for this mission."

"He's my best officer," Hurek said. "Practically runs the Guard for

me. Shot up the ranks like a rocket because he's the best there is."

Jadzia got a good look at the young man walking through the archway.

He was definitely different from the last time she had seen him. Still

prim, but in a much more elegant and assured way than when he was a

sheltered Initiate coming to DS9 for docent training. The hazel eyes

held a much harder edge, and he really *did* look good in the blue

jacket and pants that were the uniform of the Azure Guard. "Welcome

back home, Commander Dax," he said. "I hope that you and Commander

Jarok were comfortable during your journey here."

"Arjin," Jadzia said. "Good to see you again. I'm sure you remember

Doctor Bashir, Constable Odo, and Captain Sisko from your visit to

Deep Space Nine."

Arjin appraised them all, then nodded. His smile was quite formal. "I

do."

Jadzia pointed to Beverly. "I'll introduce Doctor Beverly Crusher."

Beverly smiled. "I came when I heard about Senator Odan. I was stunned

to hear of her disappearance."

"Indeed, and how well did you know the Senator?"

Julian interrupted. "She was the doctor who Joined Kareel to the Odan

Symbiont."

"I see," said Arjin. "Well, it is a loss to Trill. However, it appears

to be a personal loss to you, Doctor..."

Julian's eyes widened, and Arjin straightened. It was not normally

discernible, but Nedian noticed it, and quickly changed the subject.

Nedian raised an eyebrow. "Lieutenant Colonel, eh? Nice. I read about

some of your smuggler raids, and about that record-setting flying you

and your squadron do. You're quite the pilot."

Arjin said in response. "I'm sure that you'll be pleased to know that

Zelda Jarok's speeches are still required reading at the Azure Guard

Academy."

Nedian shook his head. "Zelda never thought too much of those

speeches. She never did want to say any more than was necessary. I

think my hatred of public speaking comes from her."

Arjin cocked his head. "Interesting." Gesturing to the doorway,

he said. "Well, the

windship is waiting. We should get to the bombing site before any

evidence is removed.

This way."

The Starfleet officers went to follow Arjin. Kalidon and Hurek slipped

out a side door. As Jadzia turned to leave, Jarmalon caught up with

her, placing a hand on her shoulder to stop her.

"Dax," he said.

She turned around. "Yes, Majesty?"

His voice was low and quiet. "Dax, I want to know this much - are you

willing to fight for your homeworld if bad comes to worse?"

"I'll defend Trill," she said. "If that's what you mean."

"As a Starfleet officer?" Jarmalon asked. "Or as Parent Dax, Mother of

Trill."

"Why aren't you asking Nedian these questions?"

"Because I'm asking you, Parent Dax. Any Starfleet officer can defend

a planet, but it takes a Parent of Society to defend what is best for

it. Will you swear to fight for your society, not just your planet?"

Indeed, it was a strange question. Jadzia answered, "I'll fight for

both, Monarch. Consider it an oath."

Jarmalon straightened. "Very good, Parent Dax. It's good to have your

loyalty at last. You may leave."

Jadzia bowed slightly, then left the room, the odd parting remark

ringing in her ears.

Right outside the throne room door, Julian gripped Beverly's arm and

pulled her away from the others. His voice was quiet and strained.

"You shouldn't have done that, Beverly."

"Why not?"

Julian looked around before speaking again. "Arjin was pumping you for

information about your relationship with Senator Odan." Taking a deep

breath, he asked. "How much did you put in your personal logs about

your relationship?"

"That's not your business, Julian."

"It's the Trill government's business, I'm afraid," said Julian. "I'm

afraid for you, Beverly. I've learned a few things through Jadzia

about this world. Your relationship to Luz *or* Kareel Odan can be

used against you. Be careful what you say."

"I will, but you need to explain this to me later," Beverly answered.

"Let's get to the windship."

Jadzia left the room.

"What was that all about?" asked Julian.

"Nothing much. Jarmalon just had a question. Now, come on, we need to

get to the windship."

The two doctors and Jadzia caught up to the rest of the party.

The windship sailed over Parsee City. Beverly looked up at it, her

eyes taking in as much as she could. The great, gas-filled sails were

colored a beautiful sky blue, symbolizing the Azure Guard. The

windships, to Beverly, were like a cross between zeppelin and

ferryboat. Thrusters on the sides and below controlled direction and

take off, but the old-fashioned design of the Trill vehicle didn't

seem odd at all. Indeed, much of everything here was, as Luz had put

it, "a cross between new and old with none in conflict."

She looked around the deck for her party. Sisko kept stealing glances

at Jadzia, all the while chatting with Odo about Dominion tactics.

Nedian seemed morose as he stared over a railing at the city below.

Jadzia had clasped her hands tightly behind her back, as Beverly

noticed she did often. The expression on her face was drawn, but not

morose as Nedian's was. Indeed, she seemed to be deep in

contemplation.

Julian watched the Guard with a wary eye. This made Beverly

uncomfortable. She had never known Julian to display such suspicion.

When he cornered her in the palace, it was on the verge of paranoia.

He still hadn't explained much to her yet, telling her to wait until

they were back on the Defiant. Beverly decided to listen to his

advice. After all, you only knew what to expect from an alien world by

visiting it, and talking to the people, and if a place could make the

normally trusting Julian Subatoi Bashir apprehensive, then Beverly

would approach it with a measure of doubt as well.

"Site in view, Colonel," shouted one of the crew.

"All right. Put us down at the nearest safe landing pad," Arjin

ordered.

The sight of Ground Zero was pretty much the same no matter what

planet it was on.

Medical transports whizzed in the air like giant vultures, preying on

the dead and dying. Blue-shirted Starfleet medics from the Defiant

mixed with gray-suited civilian doctors, attending to those they could

save, while purple-robed Guardian-Priests attended to those that they

couldn't.

Sisko stepped out and surveyed the damage. "When did this occur,

Colonel?"

"Less than three hours ago. As you can see, we are still having

trouble pulling survivors from the wreckage."

"Do you have security logs of the attack?" Sisko asked.

"There would be the surveillance scans used by the local branch of the

Guard," Arjin answered.

"Might we have a look at them?" Sisko asked. "We have a sensor

specialist on our ship who is very thorough at examining sensor logs."

"I'll have to clear it through Hurek," said Arjin uncomfortably.

"Tosa's winds!" cried Nedian. "Would you look at the damage?"

Indeed, it looked as though three giant fists had smashed dried clay.

The building's sides and front had collapsed, leaving the structure of

the back relatively intact. Fire suppression units had already been

employed, keeping dangerous gasses from causing more explosions. What

used to be the front steps was now a still-smoldering crater. Azure

Guardsmen were pulling people from the wreckage.

Julian and Beverly were already speeding to the scene, windship's

medkits in hand. Odo asked Arjin, "What did that building used to

be?"

"Nothing much. A restaurant on the ground floor. Professional offices

on the next three floors. A records office on the top floor. That's

all."

"What kind of records and offices?"

"Symbiosis Commission records. Failed candidates mostly."

"Failed Candidates? Would Aylia Tierel's records be here?"

Arjin shot Nedian a dirty look, but his tone was decidedly even. "I

wouldn't know." Arjin turned back to Sisko. "The staff of the

building included vocational counseling, doctor's offices, legal

services. Nothing that an enemy would find valuable. No weapons or

important documents."

"That's not what a terrorist is after," commented Odo. "A terrorist is

more likely to try and make a statement than to cause any real damage.

When resistance cells were trying to overthrow Cardassian rule of

Bajor, a few cells resorted to tactics designed to target Cardassian

civilians."

"And the Dominion?" asked Arjin.

"No doubt, if they are going to create a scare, they will resort to

this. Causing confusion among many people by attacking a few is a

typical Changeling tactic."

"There's one over here!" shouted Julian. "I see his leg. He's barely

alive."

A woman in the Azure Guard's uniform, and a Vulcan medic came over to

help. The three of them managed to shove the block off the man. The

Vulcan looked over to Julian.

"I will find others," he said.

"Do that."

Julian carefully turned the man around, and checked the tricorder

readings. Unjoined Trill male, approximate age of forty, massive

internal injuries. Several punctured organs. Julian shook his head.

This one wasn't going to make it.

"Too late," Julian muttered. Bloody hell. He looked up. "I'm needing a

Guardian over here!"

The man murmured. "No. My Gods...forsaken..."

Julian felt his heart tighten. Dealing with the dying was the most

horrible part of the job. He touched the man's arm.

"As sure..." was all the man choked out before he expired.

Jadzia was searching the wreckage nearby for anyone who could be

trapped under there. Pushing a huge piece of twisted metal out of the

way, Jadzia stared into the face of something else.

This couldn't be right. The code was from Torias's day. What was it

doing on this scrap of metal? Picking it up carefully to have a better

look at it, Jadzia could see that the engraved number was definitely

an old Azure Guard code. It certainly was out of place here. The metal

it was on appeared to be the remains of a cylindrical charge, a

standard piece of equipment on Azure Guard shuttles in Torias's day.

For a reason unknown to her, Jadzia stuffed the small cylinder quietly

inside her uniform.

As he was folding the man's hands to indicate death, Julian felt

something hard in the man's jacket. Pulling it out, he found a hard,

dusty case with a PADD inside. He punched up the owner's name, Shian

Melcor.

Julian closed his eyes. "May your spirit find peace, Shian." he said,

folding the man's arms. It was a little prayer he said (if only to

himself) whenever a patient died. He'd only been caught at it once.

Kira overheard him saying it as he pulled the sheet over Vedek Bariel.

So many, like this man, died alone. It always made Julian a little

angry as well. No one deserved to go like this.

He put the PADD in his medkit and went on to the next patient.

Beverly needed a little help with her patient, and Julian lent his

hands, pressing on a pressure point to stop the bleeding on a severed

leg, Beverly cauterized and sealed the wound before gesturing to

another medical transport that one more was ready to leave the scene.

She noticed Julian's open medkit, and the PADD. "What's this?"

Julian looked at it. "Something I found on one of the bodies."

Beverly scanned it. "It's all in Trill. Can you read it?"

Julian shook his head. "I know only a little of the Trill language. I

was able to make out the owner's name. It appears to be a directory of

sorts."

Beverly looked up. "Dax, Jarok. Julian found something."

The two Trills rushed over.

Odo did some very careful hunting around the ground. The smallest

piece of ash might contain a valuable clue. His tricorder whirred and

beeped in typical Starfleet fashion, but picked up next to nothing.

Careful observation. That would have to be his guide.

Indeed, it wasn't long before it paid off. "Captain!"

"What is it, Odo?"

The changeling reached down and picked up a thin, metallic strand,

attached to a melted piece of plastic. "Our first clue."

Jadzia took the PADD from Julian's hand. She scrolled down the

directory. The more she did, the more color drained from her face.

The first entry was a list:

"Joining and Non-Joining are only two forms of the same slavery,"

"Only by giving to each other do we have strength. The Unjoined have

lost our spirits, the Joined have lost their will to live."

"Love is not by arrangement. Other worlds have discovered this, but we

refuse to see."

She scrolled to the bottom of the list.

"And as we can wait no longer, we must question what we know versus

what we have been taught. HERE'S TO LIBERATION, LONG LIVE THE

LEAGUE!!!"

Jadzia handed it to Nedian. " Julian, where did you find this?"

Julian gestured to the tarp-covered body of the man nearby. "The Azure

Guard has confirmed his identity. It's the name on the PADD. He was a

clerk in this building."

Nedian's voice cut through the air. "Jadzia. You need to see this."

Jadzia walked over to Nedian. On the PADD was a list of the authors

and papers. One of them stood out.

"Genetic Stagnation in *Parsee City Marriages: A study over 150 Years"

by Doctor Teldar Sobel. The main screen contained the

triangle-in-triangle symbol of the League.

Jadzia stepped back. This had to be a nightmare. This couldn't be

true. "No," she said. "Tell me this isn't."

Julian had stood up. "Nedian, what has the PADD got on it?"

Nedian sighed. "Bad news."

Continued...

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

|Richard J. Pugh, MLS | Traveling Eternity Road, |

| RJPugh@ids.net | What will you find there? |

| RJPugh@aol.com | Carrying your heavy load, |

| PUGH.RICHARD@epamail.epa.gov | Searching to find, a peace of mind |

| http://www.ids.net/~rjpugh/ | - The Moody Blues |

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

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From: rjpugh@ids.net (Richard J. Pugh)

Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative

Subject: The First Tile - 8 (PG-13, DS9/TNG/Amagosa)

Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 02:10:49 GMT

Organization: Posted via CAIS Internet info@cais.com

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The First Tile

by Jessica M. Krucek and Richard J. Pugh

Chapter 8

Miri looked at through the Engineering scanners. "It's definitely an

explosive. I'm reading various polymers and burned-out electronics in

it. I'm not sure about the rest of it. It could be Dominion. What

kind of explosive do they tend to use?"

"We've seen the Jem'Hadar equipped with triphosphate grenades,"

commented Odo. "they believe in blowing up things efficiently.

However, Changeling tactics tend more towards radiation flash bombs.

They vaporize anyone happening to be standing while leaving the

technology and structure intact."

"Harrumph. No better than the Borg," sniffed Miri. "Take the

technology and kill the people."

Sisko scowled.

"Captain," asked Miri, "Did a holocamera record the explosion?"

"Yes. General Hurek tells us that the Azure Guard's security camera in

sector H-25 recorded the whole thing."

Odo asked, "You actually got it from them?"

"After I talked to Hurek directly. Why?"

"Something about this has me suspicions, Captain, that's all." the

changeling replied in his low grumble.

Miri nodded. "Well, the recording will definitely help determine the

nature of the bomb."

"How long will it take to decipher the nature of the bomb?" asked

Sisko.

Miri turned around in her seat. "Three hours, and I'll figure out how

that building was destroyed."

"I'll expect the report by tomorrow's briefing."

While Miri worked on the bomb, Nedian Jarok sat in front of a

workstation in the Defiant's puny computer lab and prepared to log

onto the Trill information network.

*This should be interesting,* he thought sarcastically.

He opened a briefcase and removed some of his customized computer

interface equipment, and attached them to the open ports on the

workstation. He put a telepathic interface device on his head, and

donned a pair of thin glasses which acted as a tiny, secondary view

screen. He then rested his left hand on a specialized five-digit

keypad, and put a special glove on his right. The glove looked

something like the kind used when playing Strata-jama.

*OK, let's go in.*

Nedian pored over stacks of data pertaining to the Trill

Communications Relay and Information Net. Colors and grids whirled

around him in a dizzying illusion.

It appeared to be quite extensive. Only the Emergency frequencies,

like the palace's independent link and the Azure Guard databases

seemed to be operational, and those minimally so.

With ease, he entered and traversed the file structure of the planet

wide information net, and instantly found small pockets of destroyed

data. The network was in complete fragments. Entire sections had been

deleted or scrambled past hope of untangling them. It was easier to

see what HADN'T been affected.

At first the damage looked random, but he quickly found out that it

wasn't. Civil service records, business records, classified military

information, birth and death certificates, and a variety of other

things. All of this was designed to create discord in the Trill

society, be it discord between citizen and government, between

businesses, or between individuals. It certainly did look like the

work of the Dominion. It was clear that whoever ordered the

destructive hacking knew exactly what to destroy.

*First order of business...*

He "reached" with his right hand to a section of the viewscreen. To

an onlooker, the image on the screen looked like a chaotic sea of

electronic circuits, but to Nedian it was just like a road map.

*Let's start with something simple. Records that a Changeling invader

would have no interest in.*

In seconds he found the central archive for the entire network. He

started with medical databases. Those were scrambled, but not

irretrievable. Almost automatically, he started to piece them

together, stringing data along like fixing a jigsaw puzzle.

It became mind-numbing after a while. The computer screen gave him

time to forget.

Picking pieces from the data stream flowing around him and crackling

like symbionts in a pool, he was half-awake, half burning with

determination, grief and anger -- emotions unbecoming to his caste.

Finally he had pieced a medical database together in a green ball that

he sent flowing off into the network.

He smiled for a moment. *Like turning over a shellback so he can

continue on his way.*

He selected several file groups and sent the information back into the

network. Bit by bit, he picked more data fragments out of the stream

and strung them together. He remembered sitting on the floor of the

Tierel clanstead as a small child, stringing together his

grandmother's beads. The memory was even more precious, now that he

had her memories of the Romulan friend who gave her those beads, and

how she had loved her grandson even then.

When there was damaged or missing hardware, he simply went around it

and used backup systems. Nedian didn't know why the Azure Guard had

asked him to do this. Anyone who knew the system could unlock the

secure archives and restore the information.

*Something is not right... Why would they ask me to investigate this?*

Some of the files were difficult to extract from the archive, so the

perpetrator also knew that undoing his handiwork would require an

expert who knew the system very well. Some of the financial records,

for example, had extra encryption put on them to shield against

industrial espionage. Ferrengi hackers were notorious for seeking out

weakness in central computer systems and find ways to...

*Hello, beauty!*

Nedian stopped and examined a damaged financial record package. There

was an encryption on the trailer of the file - a secret, internal

security that the perpetrator didn't know about! The added security

wasn't sufficient to prevent the data from being destroyed, but it

might have a clue, a "fingerprint," of whoever broke into to system.

Nedian placed a copy of the damaged archive into the Defiant's

computer before restoring the data. Several other packets, mostly

from private financial and legal file groups, had similar encryption

errors. Whoever hacked into the net hadn't even bothered to look for

such things.

He quickly looked over at one of the damaged file trailers. The

programming wasn't typical of Trill programming systems. It was

Ferengi! Another one, from a different region of the planet, appeared

to be Vulcan. Yet another was Terran.

*Sloppy! Very sloppy,* Nedian mused. *If you're going to destroy a

planet-wide information network, you should expect to find security

systems that you didn't anticipate. Protecting records with imported,

non-standard security systems that no one would expect to find - and

neglect to tell your government about them. Very clever... I should

send a thank-you!*

There were as many forms of computer security as there are

programmers, and no way that any one hacker could have prepared for

and eradicated all of them. That was probably why some people on

Trillian had used these programs in the first place.

After a couple more hours of stringing together data, the base of the

computer net was back on line.

Nedian sent a quick message to the Parliament system, informing

everyone that the data was back on line. Within seconds, he was

showered with praise and thanks from the Trill government, one of them

was coming from the palace. Nedian communications. Jarmalon greeted

him with an enthusiastic smile.

"Well done, Commander!" he said. "As always your skill with computers

is impeccable."

"The damage wasn't as bad as initially feared," Nedian responded.

"However, whoever did this knew just what they were after, and they

covered their tracks pretty well."

"Can you tell who did this?"

"I'm not sure yet. It will take me a bit to puzzle out the damaged

files."

Jarmalon srtaightend. "At any rate," he added quickly, "well done

Commander. Very well done."

"It is an honor to serve the home world," Nedian said, keeping his

true feelings in check.

Jarmalon smiled, nodded, and logged off. The Yunnuth symbol appeared

on the screen for a few seconds, then returned to the Starfleet logo.

After a few minutes, Nedian quickly put his interface gear back on,

and entered the secure section of the Defiant's archive, where he had

secretly stored copies of the damaged files.

He went back into the file group. Nedian called over one of

the restored files. The green sphere grew to the size of a shuttle

craft. Like pulling aside a curtain, Nedian entered it. The data

swirled around him in multi-colored fragments.

This wouldn't do him any good. He had to go on to the next program. A

financial database protected by a Terran security program.

The hackers did a very good job of hiding their tracks. Nedian Jarok

had run around the file dozen times and back again. But good as they

were, they wasn't as good as Jarok. Had it not been for the odd,

non-standard security programs used by so many of the targeted file

groups, all evidence of the hacking would have vanished.

The damaged file appeared before him, and he immediately examined the

various security encryptions. He juggled them about, looking for

similarities. The first thing he found was evidence of subspace

transmissions.

*So, the hackers were on ships...*

He looked at the subspace signatures. Adjusting for the different

time zones on Trill, all the hacking took place over a ten minute

period, using an automated program, controlled from a single

workstation.

*There was only one ship! With one very good programmer.* He grinned

wickedly under the helmet. *But not as good as me!*

The data fragments were sketchy, but the encryption protocol was the

same for each transmission... it looked like the programmer had

*tried* to disguise it under a very good replica of the Guard

encryption pattern, or maybe it was just an encryption program that

he'd never seen the Guard use before. Something wasn't right here.

*Son of a bitch!* Nedian thought. He slapped his communicator.

"Jarok to Dax"

"Dax here. What's up, Ned?"

"Jadzia," he answered. "I think you should come down and see this."

The door slid open Jadzia entered the small room. He took off the

helmet and glove and turned towards her.

"Find something interesting?" she asked.

"More bad news," Nedian answered.

Tie Miri walked out of her quarters, unable to sleep. She was worried

about Nedian. She wished she could do more for him, but she was

finding his world increasingly difficult to deal with. At least the

Bajorans and Cardassians were honest and open in their hatred for one

another. But as for the people of Trillian?

It was maddening, the muted emotions and the well-rehearsed dance of

conversation and discourse. The Joined were sticking out by their

haughty attitude and cold eyes, especially when she briefly grabbed

Nedian's hand. The Azure Guard on every corner, the "safety monitors,"

and all the holocameras. Prophets, it was just like walking the

streets of town during the Occupation, just put Cardassian soldiers in

blue and Cardassian civilians as the Joined.

*Nedian as a Cardassian,* Miri thought, then winced. *That makes both

of us as far as some are concerned.*

She decided to bury herself in some work. Again disregarding uniform

regulations - wearing sweat pants and one of her academy T-shirts -

she stumbled to the sensor lab and brought up the sensor logs of the

latest bombing. She had looked at the logs any number of times, but

she was still certain that she had missed something.

On the small viewscreen in front of her, she looked at the site of the

explosion. After the explosion, at the moment of explosion, a few

milliseconds before, a few milliseconds after, a few...

"Hold!" she said suddenly. The image froze.

"Back up, relative time point eight six."

The image moved in reverse a few frames.

"Stop," she said. She looked at the image...

"Enhance nineteen to twenty-two," she said. The appropriate section

of the image grew fifty percent.

"Pan left... stop..."

She looked at the image again.

"Enhance seventeen to nineteen... stop."

The image changed accordingly. She was concentrating on a strange

piece of debris that was flying through the air.

"Mark this object and reverse back to the moment of the explosion,"

she said.

The image backed up several frames. The marked object became part of

a small, box-like object.

"Enhance highlighted area to full screen," she said.

The box grew accordingly. It had writing on it.

"Identify the language on this box," she asked.

The computer chirped.

Unable to comply. There is insufficient image data.

Miri sighed, then had another idea.

"Can you perform a spectral-metallurgical analysis?"

Affirmative.

The computer chirped again.

Small storage compartment constructed on Trilithium and Zinc

Chromate alloys.

Common metals, for the Federation, but not for...

"Computer, is there any record of the Dominion using metals like this

in any of their structures?"

Negative. These alloys are derived from materials thus far found

only in Federation space.

Miri felt a knot growing in her stomach. She didn't like where this

was going.

"Refer again to the writing. Can you identify any of the individual

characters?"

Affirmative. Character matches found in 357 recorded languages.

"How many of them are within the Federation and surrounding areas?"

285

"Of these, how many of them belong to a society that could construct

structures like this?"

112

"Of these, how many of them could have had access to the

aforementioned metallic alloys?"

Three.

"Please list."

The Rillian Jarada sub-race of Pelican Five; the Betazed naturalist

colony of Rigel three; the Royal Guards of Pareel.

" Identify Pareel."

Ancient name for the city of Parsee on Trillian.

Miri winced.

"Do the royal guards still exist?"

Negative. The Royal Guards of Pareel were disbanded during the

reign of Monarch Halmak the Fourth. The Royal Guards became a

component of the planet wide security force, now known as the Azure

Guard.

Miri was ready to throw up.

"Ensign Tie to Constable Odo," she said to the comm panel. "I think

you should see this."

Continued...

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

|Richard J. Pugh, MLS | Traveling Eternity Road, |

| RJPugh@ids.net | What will you find there? |

| RJPugh@aol.com | Carrying your heavy load, |

| PUGH.RICHARD@epamail.epa.gov | Searching to find, a peace of mind |

| http://www.ids.net/~rjpugh/ | - The Moody Blues |

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

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From: rjpugh@ids.net (Richard J. Pugh)

Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative

Subject: The First Tile - 9 (PG-13, DS9/TNG/Amagosa)

Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 02:10:54 GMT

Organization: Posted via CAIS Internet info@cais.com

Lines: 545

Message-ID: 4s1o35$891@news2.cais.com

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The First Tile

by Jessica M. Krucek and Richard J. Pugh

Chapter IX

Part Six: Policy of Truth

"You will always wonder how it could have been if you'd only lied.

It's too late to change events. It's time to face the consequence

For delivering the proof - in the policy of truth."

- Depeche Mode "Policy of Truth"

"Are you *sure* about this?" Sisko asked, completely stunned.

Miri stood calmly in front of the display. "According to the sensor

scans done on the bomb, it *can't* be Dominion. The materials used are

not indigenous to the Gamma Quadrant."

Sisko was resting hid head on his hands, face unreadable. "What if the

Dominion is trying to make it look like the Azure Guard is

responsible?"

Odo straightened in his chair. "That's what I first thought when

Ensign Tie brought me the initial results. That's when we checked the

reports on the *J'Tallak.*"

Miri pressed a few more panels on the viewer in the briefing room.

"You see, these are the metallurgical and spectral analyses done on

the *J'Tallak*. As you can see, it's very close to Dominion phaser

damage."

She pointed to a small section of the screen. "Computer, enhance area

Beta nine."

The part of the screen Miri was referring to now filled the entire

screen. There was quite a bit of difference at a closer look. "You

see, Alik and Starfleet were willing to take the Guard at their word."

Miri nodded. "The differential here is actually very tiny, just a

little bit off. It would be missed if someone wasn't suspicious."

"Almost like single-bit errors in replicated DNA." Beverly said,

leaning back in her chair as if distancing herself from the news.

Miri hummed an affirmative.

"What about the computer damage?" asked Sisko.

Nedian said, shaking his head. "I couldn't believe it when I saw it.

It was a damn good hacking job, too. If it hadn't been for a few

off-world security systems, there wouldn't have been any way to

determine who did it."

"The security programs recorded a subspace communication link," said

Jadzia. "The hacking was marked as a unauthorized entry, and was

recorded as such."

"The transmission originated from a ship situated in a stationary

orbit above the capital city of Parsee." Nedian said. "It looks like

someone was trying to at least make it look like the Azure Guard.

However," he said, pessimistically. "I'm not ruling out the

possibility of an inside job."

"Maybe a replica?"

"Maybe," said Nedian. "Still, I don't believe Colonel Lesal was being

forthright with everything he knew. Any decent computer specialist in

the Guard could have done what I did even before we arrived. Why did

they wait for us to get here?"

There was a long pause among the officers. Nedian broke the silence.

He continued, "Whoever did this had obviously determined beforehand

what data to destroy and had made a data robot to carry it out. The

process was so fast that it appeared to be a random attack, or even a

simple power surge. Once the robot had carried out its programming,

the runabout quickly returned to the planet before anyone fully

realized what had happened."

"All of this," said Jadzia. "Was carefully crafted to make it look as

it was the work of the Dominion."

"Why didn't the initial report see the errors?" asked Beverly.

"I think what happened," said Odo. "Was that Starfleet wanted an easy

answer, the Dominion, so the Guard gave them the Dominion."

Beverly was puzzled. "What would the Azure Guard have to gain by

making us think Trill was under Dominion attack? And if it's not the

Azure Guard, then who could it be on Trill?"

Dead silence around the table.

"That's the next mystery," said Nedian, producing a PADD. "And I

think *that* was also solved at the bomb site."

Putting the PADD into an interface, the triangle-in-triangle symbol of

the League popped up on the screen.

"This is the symbol for an old political activist group on Trill. The

Commission and the Azure Guard regard them as terrorists. This PADD

was found on one of the bombing victims."

Beverly frowned. "What makes them terrorists?"

Jadzia answered. "The League has been accused of bombings,

vandalism... and other basic disruptions of public life. Their goal

was to bring about a halt to the practice of Joining, disband the

Azure Guard, and dissolve the monarchy, plus a range of other demands

that just depend on the era."

"How long as the League been in operation?" asked Julian.

"No one quite knows," said Nedian. "Most accounts date them back to

the Equality Revolt five thousand years ago. Some would say, though,

that they originated a few hundred years after the Great Disaster."

The humans were amazed.

"Why isn't much known about the League?"

Nedian pressed a few more panels. "The League comes and goes. The last

time they really became a problem was when Trill was applying for

Federation membership. The League wanted to expose the workings of the

Guard and the Commission." Nedian shook his head. "Ramak Jarok, one of

my past Hosts, was part of that team in charge of putting Trill in the

UFP and damn the cost." He guiltily looked out the viewport. "There

were orders to the Azure Guard to arrest League members. A lot of

people were arrested on suspicion, many more had their lives ruined.

The UFP wasn't as picky about signing in new worlds then as it is now.

Remember that this was before the Organia treaty, and before the

Orions and Elsi Pirate Confederation stopped being a major threat."

"In other words," Julian said, a sarcastic edge creeping in his voice.

"Trill swept its internal problems under the rug, and entered the

Federation."

"Nedian," said Miri. "Do you think that the League's reactivated, and

that the Guard is trying to hide it by staging a Dominion attack?"

"Why not?" grumbled Odo. "I remember hearing that a Starfleet admiral

collaborated with the Cardassians and staged an attack on a Cardassian

outpost in order to bring a Bajoran resistance leader out of hiding.

Starfleet would be duped, by order of the treaty, to help take care of

the Bajoran problem."

"Fortunately," said Beverly, "Ensign Ro confessed her part in the

plot, and it fell apart."

"If it is the League," said Sisko. "Why now?"

"Senator Odan's platform seemed like was taken right out of a League

manifesto," said Nedian. "In fact, rumor has it that she worked very

closely with the League. The Commission accused her of being a member

of the League, in fact, but nothing stuck. That's why they had to

resort to the Reassociation charge."

"When was the last time the League authorized a terrorist attack?"

said Odo.

Nedian thought about it. "Not since the Federation started

negotiations. The Guard has made it a crime to even carry League

propaganda."

Sisko's face set into hard lines. "This is serious. I'll have to

contact Earth about this."

"Captain," said Jadzia. "Lieutenant Lesal is going to be waiting for

our report."

"I know," said Sisko. "We'll tell him that we're still trying to

analyze the remains of the bomb, and that we have no idea about the

culprit behind the hacking."

"You mean lie?" asked Julian.

"I mean, doctor," said Sisko, "That we conceal information." He

sighed. "In the meantime, I believe some of you have matters to attend

to on the planet. The rest of us will be working on the mystery. Next

briefing is 0900 tomorrow. Dismissed."

Everyone filed out except for Jadzia and Nedian. Crossing her arms,

Jadzia sighed as she looked at the double triangle symbol. The League

returning after all these years?

She pressed the access keys and read Teldar's work. "Genetic

Stagnation in Parsee City Marriages" - the work that got him exiled.

He didn't list the people who helped him, and that was good. He would

shoulder the blame alone.

She found it hard to think about Teldar anymore. Even the memories of

their Initiate years were tainted by shame.

"You okay, Jaz?"

Jadzia chuckled humorlessly, then turned around and glared at Nedian.

"What the hell do you *think,* Nedian? Of course I'm not all right."

He glanced at it, then back up at her. "Doctor Teldar Sobel. I can see

why you're upset."

"That... that's not it," Jadzia stammered.

"Come on, Jadzia. I know you better than that."

She shot him an icy stare. "Why is it that so many people 'know me

better,' Ned? Am I that dense?"

"In some ways," Nedian answered bluntly. "I was blind in the same

way."

Jadzia spared no sarcasm. "Then Miri opened your eyes, I suppose?

Don't bother trying to play matchmaker to me, Ned. I'm happy for you

and Miri, but..."

"I never said anything about her, Jaz," Nedian said calmly. "But now

that you mention it, I have to wonder about you and --"

"Don't even say it. It's over between us. I hate to disappoint your

romantic fantasies, Nedian."

Nedian's smile was a bit crooked. "Jarok's a romantic, even if I'm a

total wreck. Dates back to Hemak, I suppose."

Jadzia wasn't pacified. "Nedian, how in hell can you be sitting there

talking about love poetry? Don't you understand the implications of

*this?!* It's not just Teldar's name on it." She pulled out the PADD

and walked to Nedian, handing it over. "I can't believe it, Ned. It's

like everything just decided to go crazy on me."

Nedian placed a hand on her shoulder. "Not easy, is it? I'm not

pretending to take this well, either. Miri's fallen asleep and I'll

toss and turn. I keep going over the day Ramak signed the treaty for

Trill to enter the Federation. Did I make a mistake?"

Jadzia closed her eyes and shook her head. "Gods, Nedian. I don't know

anymore. I can remember the day I heard that Trill was part of the

Federation... Audrid was the lead judge on the Symbiosis Commission,

home because she was expecting her second child. Oh, Jarok, What kind

of world did we help to make?"

Nedian's gaze was distant as he stood next to Jadzia. "The best one

two of the 'Proper Joined' could contribute to, Dax."

* * * *

The Tierel clanstead was large and very ornate. Its architecture was

very classical Trill, layered and multi-storied. Large, covered

porches protruded from either side of the mansion, balconies on every

other floor. The gardens surrounded the house, and boasted flowers of

every shape, color and smell.

Julian wondered why he had been brought along. Well, he was

technically friends with Jadzia, and well, Miri had asked him to help

her keep an eye on Nedian. He didn't blame her for being worried. They

were all wearing the hot and stiff dress uniform. It was almost

intolerable in the heat of midday. Even Miri was following uniform

regulations for a change.

A woman, still striking, despite her middle age, ran out of the house.

"Nedian!"

Nedian looked, then ran to her, embracing the woman. "Mom. I'm so

glad."

The others could see Nedian and his mother talk quietly. The woman's

face was struggling not to break into tears. Nedian pulled her close

for a moment to comfort her.

She pulled back. "I'm glad you could come." She smiled warmly at the

others. "Parent Dax," she said to Jadzia, speaking formally. "I

haven't seen you since..."

"Please," Jadzia interrupted. "I'm just Dax."

"Dax," said Nedian's mother.

Nedian shook his head. "Oh, I'm being rude. Julian, Miri, this is my

mother, Alizia Tierel."

She descended the stairs, and walked straight to Miri. "And you are

Tie Miri. Nedian has told me a lot about you." Alizia's eyes clouded

over. "I'm glad he's found a friend."

Miri looked away, very uncomfortable, remembering what Nedian had said

about the prohibitions of a Joined/Unjoined long-term love affair.

Alizia said, "You don't need to worry. You and Nedian are safe here.

I'm glad you have made him happy."

Miri smiled. "Nedian's a wonderful man."

Alizia nodded towards the door. "The Guardian is already here. We are

waiting for you in the back."

The four were led to the back garden of the Tierel clanstead. Julian

gasped. There must have been at least a hundred people gathered.

Nedian leaned in "The Tierel clan is one of the largest of the

Founding Houses. We can trace our lineage to Rossa Tierel, the

archivist for Monarch Drayl."

"Monarch Drayl?" asked Julian. "As in one of the Ten Monarchs?"

"You seemed surprised," Alizia said to Julian.

Julian shook his head. "I thought the Monarchs were just a legend."

"No, it's fact. They really existed. A lot of people thought they were

myth, but we have the records dating that far back. I could show you

them later."

"I would like that very much, Mrs. Tierel."

"Please, I am Alizia."

They saw two Trill men chatting at the end of one of the clanstead's

many long corridors. The older man was silently grieving, while the

younger radiated anger.

"Alcot, Baran," said Alizia. "Nedian is here."

The two men halted and looked up. The older man walked over and

enthusiastically gripped Nedian's hands. "It is good to have you here,

son. I only wish that Aylia..."

"I know, Alcot," Nedian started to say, then caught himself. "I know,

Dad."

"It's all right," Alcot replied with a sad smile. "I suppose after

calling me 'Alcot' for two of your lifetimes, it is somewhat hard to

break that habit."

"I can't believe she's gone," the younger man said, resuming his

pacing. "I mean, WHY? No indications of ANYTHING. With Lisaria, I

knew. I knew something was wrong when she stopped seeing me..."

"Sometimes, Baran," Nedian said, his voice barely above a whisper,

since any louder would cause it to crack. "There is no warning. And

saying our

good-bye to her is why we're here."

Baran shook his head. "My big sister... always thought she was strong

enough to handle anything..."

Nedian broke his hold on Alcot's hands and hugged his younger brother.

Alcot walked over to Miri. "You must be Miri." Looking around for

anyone else in earshot, he said quietly. "You are welcome in our

clanstead anytime, despite what anyone says."

"I only wish..." Miri whispered, "That I could have met Aylia in

person. I spoke with her over subspace a couple of times."

Alcot nodded sadly. "She would have been glad to see you become part

of our clan."

A young man of mixed Northern and Southern heritage - as distinguished

by his prominent spots and forehead ridge, entered the hall. "The

Guardian is here."

"Very well," said Alizia, bowing her head and following.

They stood in a circle. The body of a brown-haired girl was dressed in

gold colored robes, and lying on a stone altar that had been covered

by a white blanket. There was a faint hum of electricity in the air

that Julian knew to be a low-level stasis field to prevent further

decay of the corpse. A torch burned on each corner of the altar.

A Guardian in purple robes read a blessing.

"There is no shame in a good death, only a chance to meet the Great

Gods and plead for another try at one's fate. Aylia Tierel had tried

all her life to follow the path of Accession, but fell short. She was

a gifted artist, a beautiful and honored daughter of the Founding Clan

Tierel. Instead of gaining immortality through the chain of *Kiva,*

her immortality is that of *Shival* - the death that attempts new

life..."

As the guardian droned on, Julian felt more and more claustrophobic.

What kind of a world was this? *Honor?* A young person who commits

suicide over failure because they had a shot to *try again?*

With a nasty touch of black humor, he wondered whether, if he were

Trill, he'd be asked to hang himself after Lense took valedictorian so

he could "try again."

"...She had followed her teachings with heart and soul alike." The

Guardian looked up. "Do not mourn her, but celebrate her. She has

taken the path Tosa has deemed for her, and followed it to its end.

The works of her short life live on, and her duties deemed her

sacrifice a needed one for others to continue. Accession will come to

her soul, but not in this life..."

All the Trills in the room bowed their heads and repeated the

Guardian's prayer. Miri and Julian looked at each other. Miri looked

somewhat green, and more than mildly angry. Julian strongly believed

his own face held the same mixture of disgust and anger over a young,

wasted life. He leaned over to Miri.

"Gods, I can't understand. Can't understand at all."

Miri looked around at the gathered Trills, bowing their head in a

prayer neither of them could translate. She then leaned over to

Julian.

"If it's any consolation, Julian, I'm about to be ill."

"So am I."

The Guardian concluded his ceremony by declaring, "May Tosa the Just

deem her worthy, and in her next Rebirth, may she be among the

Honored."

They all looked up. The Guardian produced several small orbs from his

robe. "And now, to break her ties to this realm so she may go to Tosa

with our blessing."

Nedian, Baran, Alcot, and Alizia stepped out of the crowd. Taking one

corner of the blanket apiece, they took the girl's remains past the

crowd to the back, who parted to reveal another stone bier. Four more

of the clan removed the top, revealing that the bier was actually a

shallow, stone tub.

The four carrying Aylia's body lowered her into the tub, then

carefully wrapped the blanket around her. Alizia stooped to kiss her

daughter's forehead one final time. Julian could hear her sobs from

across the garden. The clan all stood straight as the Guardian

approached, taking one of the torches, and light a corner of the

blanket.

"What's that?" Julian asked Jadzia.

"Some Zinc Chromate and other accelerates. It's designed to help burn

the body quickly and thoroughly. The stone keeps the fire from

spreading."

A pregnant pause. Julian asked Miri, "Miri, didn't you say that Zinc

Chromate was the primary accellrant in the bomb?"

The Bajoran blanched for a second. "Prophets, it WAS."

The Guardian came back into the circle. "It is done. Aylia Tierel now

is with Tosa the Just. May her Rebirth be honored."

"May her Rebirth be honored." said all the Trills present.

The body was consumed in a matter of minutes.

"I want her records, Mom."

"Her complete record was destroyed with the rest of the information

net, Nedian."

"Surely you have a copy. I KNOW how you keep the clan records."

The woman sighed. "Yes, but there is nothing there that you would find

helpful. Baran looked it over a hundred times himself."

"Baran's not a computer specialist," Nedian said. "And I *have* to

know. Just to put all those suspicion I have to rest."

Alizia paused a moment. "I suppose you are entitled to a look."

She pulled an isoliniar chip from her pocket.

Aylia Tierel. Initiate number 274890-Af349

Birthplace: Eridan City, Trillian...Parents: Alcot and Alizia

Tierel... Siblings: first year Initiate Baran Tierel, Lieutenant

Commander Nedian Tierel - Joined to the Jarok Symbiont...

Nedian cringed, then sighed, took in a deep breath, and kept going.

Test scores were decayed beyond repair. Official record kept at...

*Wait one minute, that *was* the building that got bombed.* he

thought.

The only other new entry read: Special Termination on the basis of

Physical Incompatibility.

Nedian frowned. "Special Termination?"

Something was wrong here, and he'd have to go back inside the network

as soon as he could to figure out exactly what. In the meantime, a few

well-placed questions, but nothing loud enough to cause suspicion...

There was feasting afterwards, but as grieving people often do, most

of them just picked at the meal before them. Julian really couldn't

eat, thinking of what the Guardian's words really meant - that Aylia

was to be praised for killing herself in the hopes she could "try

again."

He munched on a piece of bread, listening in on conversations and not

saying a word. There were a few questions about the Defiant, and DS9,

and the Amagosa, but the officers kept their answers very brief, not

giving anything away. For all they knew, one of the Tierels was an

off-duty Guard.

Nedian sat next to Miri, across from Alizia, and the two other men

that Nedian introduced later as his father, Alcot and Baran, his

younger brother. The conversation turned to Baran's studies.

"We haven't seen you in months before this," said Alcot. "How are your

studies?"

Baran sighed and picked at a squash-like vegetable on his plate.

"Well, I might get apprenticed to the Basic school. Teach kids how to

read, give them basic mathematics lessons, and that sort of thing."

"Where will you be teaching?" asked Alizia.

"Ka'al province," Baran answered.

Vangel, a dark-haired Northern Trill who had married Alizia's niece,

perked up at the news. "Near Urlica City?"

Baran nodded.

Vangel raised an eyebrow. "I'd be more than happy to put you up."

Alcot frowned. "Vangel, you should know better than to stay in Urlica.

Your work, remember?"

Julian asked. "What do you do?"

About half the table seemed uncomfortable for a moment.

"I'm a reporter," Vangel answered. "A small news feed. A few thousand

subscribers, more every day, though."

One of the cousins, Losian Marek, grumbled. "An activist newsfeed that

no one but idiot idealists read."

Vangel ignored Marek. "I remember when we managed to get an interview

with Senator Odan."

"Vangel..." Alcot warned. "This is not really the time to talk about

it."

Nedian looked up. "When was this?"

Vangel sat back in his seat. "Couple months ago, just when the

Monarchy and the Board broke that Reassociation scandal. What a mess.

She had the Commission on the run, I tell you!"

Marek snorted with disdain. "The Commission has nothing to fear from

small *tima* bugs like yourself."

Vangel shot him a sharp look. "Some of us, *Parent* Marek, don't

believe the official story of the Commission."

"So you invent wild conspiracy theories, and do everything in your

power to insult the Commission and Monarch Jarmalon."

Nedian put down his dinner knife. "I'd really like to see your news

feed, Vangel."

Vangel looked away. "The damn... Dominion hackers got into it."

"Better than having the Guard do it, I suppose." Marek commented.

"Now, you listen here..."

"You should listen to me, Vangel. I've seen a few more centuries than

you, and I've seen the Guard. They shut down liars like you. If you

printed a legitimate newsfeed..."

"I'm telling the truth!"

Alcot stood up. "**SILENCE!** I will not have these words spoken at

this occasion!" Suddenly looking much older, and with a weariness

befitting an old man, he said sadly. "Show some respect for Aylia."

Miri and Julian shot each other a very frightened look. Nedian and

Jadzia continued as though nothing had happened. Nedian picked at what

appeared to be a small roast fowl, occasionally casting a suspicious

look at Losian Marek.

"Nedian, try to eat. You've not been eating well since you arrived."

"Miri, I'm all right."

She smiled and touched his hand. "I'm just afraid for you..."

Marek called out from the other end of the table. "You should be

afraid, Nedian."

Nedian looked up. "Excuse me, Losian."

Alizia was trying to stop the conversation. "Please, Losian. Go back

to eating. It's been a long day and all of us are not well."

Marek raised an eyebrow and continued to talk to Nedian, heedless of

Alizia's words. "Call me Marek, unless you've forgotten."

Nedian scowled. "I see the Symbiosis Commission has no standards for

manners."

"And what of standards, Nedian? It's clear that Jarok has none, and no

loyalty to his Joining Oath. Then again, traitors tend to congregate

in the same circles."

Miri scowled, and snarled at the man. "What in the bloody hell do you

mean by that?"

"You heard me. You take another of your kind into your bed."

Julian spoke up. "Marek, leave them alone."

Marek chortled and ignored Julian.

Julian looked to Jadzia, who ate, seemingly oblivious to the

goings-on. He leaned over to her. "Aren't you going to say anything to

help Nedian?"

She ignored him. Julian scowled.

Marek continued to mock. "Don't be ashamed, Nedian. Everybody knows

you earned your symbiont. Earned it by birthright. Too bad you aren't

dead, or your sister wouldn't have had to poison herself."

Nedian was pale, staring in complete shock at Marek. Miri's fists were

clenched, but she was also too stunned to move.

"Not to mention..." Marek started.

Julian stood up. "Whoever you are..."

"Stop this!" yelled Alizia. "Marek, quit antagonizing him."

Marek laughed. "I'm not insulting. I'm merely complimenting Nedian on

finding the perfect woman. She's just like he is, an engineer, a

Starfleet officer, a traitor..." He smiled lecherously over to Miri.

"How many Cardassians did you sleep with before Nedian?"

Instantly, Miri bolted from her seat and pounced on Marek, punching

him over and over. "You bastard...you son-of

a-bitch...*ritika*...slime-devil...bastard!

She had gotten in several good punches before several larger men

pulled her away. She regained her senses and ran away, sobbing.

Jadzia threw down her napkin and walked away in the opposite direction

at a fast clip. Julian tried to follow her.

Nedian went over to Marek and grabbed his wrist. Jarok's voice rang

like a bell in Marek's mind.

//Don't *EVER* talk to us that way again!//

Nedian then ran after Miri, while the rest of the clan walked from the

scene, dragging Marek away.

Losian Marek was a little taken aback, but still impressed. When a

Joined Trill communicated via telepathy, it was typically in the most

serious circumstances, and even then, it took a lot of focus to

project it. Marek had obviously angered Jarok very much, which was

precisely what he had intended.

He caught up with her and grabbed her arm. "Jadzia?"

She shot him one of the coldest looks he'd ever seen on her face.

"What?"

Julian was dazed for a moment, then drew on his anger to recover. "I'd

like to know why the hell you just sat there while Nedian was being

insulted."

"I didn't want to inflame the argument. That would have only made

things worse."

"Worse?!" Julian was furious now. "Miri is out there crying, Marek is

nursing a well-earned bloody nose, and the Tierel clan scattered." He

shook his head. "And you sit there, eating your meal as casually as if

you were sitting in the Replimat?"

"Julian..."

"Don't even, *Dax.* I don't know what you are, but someone who won't

so much as put in a half-hearted defense of someone she calls a

'friend' is no

friend of mine." He let go of her arm. "Our friendship, and whatever

else I might have felt for you, is gone."

She straightened. "I would have lost you anyway, Julian. It's more a

loss to you." With that remark, she walked off.

Julian collapsed in a chair and gathered his thoughts.

He could remember a lot of dinners like this. Formal, stuffy...

Michael would be drinking, the elder Bashir keeping an eye on Julian

for fear that his charge would be an embarrassment to him. The words

around the table, shaped like arrows to pierce emotional armor. The

best diplomat was the one who never raised a finger unless there was

something in the fight benefiting them.

And his father's line of girlfriends. Pretty laughs, pretty faces,

pretty bodies, ice-cold hearts. All they wanted was a brief affair and

a piece of the glory involved in being a diplomat's arm ornament. He

remembered them. Blondes, brunettes, girls with fire red and cold blue

hair. Some of them were kind. There was Ril, a Kitarian. She looked

like a humanoid Persian cat. Kind green eyes, lots of patience, she

stayed with them when Julian was only five, referring to him as "cub."

Donna stayed with his father on and off for almost two years. She

helped Julian with his schoolwork, and was even there to help him stop

shaking after waking up from yet another awful dream. She was even the

first one he told about the little girl who died in his arms on

Invernia II.

Most of them, however, were cruel-eyed, shallow women. He remember

more than a few towering over him, their pretty faces staring down at

him. *Michael, what will you do with him? Michael, you never told me

you had *children.* Why didn't you give him over to his mother?* They

would be just as cold to him as Michael, look down their nose at him,

or treat him like he wasn't even there.

Jadzia...Julian gripped the armrests. That wench. How ice-cold did one

have to be to casually sip wine while a friend was being insulted?

He'd been deluding himself. She was heartless like the rest of them,

like Dr. Renhal (who damn near served her a death certificate), like

Marek, like the succession of women his diplomat father loved so much.

And he was the damn idiot Michael said he was for letting himself get

so wrapped up in her, to befriend her for so many years, to submit to

her advances for one desperate night.

In disgust, he slapped his badge. "Bashir to Defiant. One to beam up."

Continued...

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

|Richard J. Pugh, MLS | Traveling Eternity Road, |

| RJPugh@ids.net | What will you find there? |

| RJPugh@aol.com | Carrying your heavy load, |

| PUGH.RICHARD@epamail.epa.gov | Searching to find, a peace of mind |

| http://www.ids.net/~rjpugh/ | - The Moody Blues |

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

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From: rjpugh@ids.net (Richard J. Pugh)

Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative

Subject: The First Tile - 10 (PG-13, DS9/TNG/Amagosa)

Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 02:11:03 GMT

Organization: Posted via CAIS Internet info@cais.com

Lines: 471

Message-ID: 4s1o3d$891@news2.cais.com

NNTP-Posting-Host: va169.idsonline.com

The First Tile

by Jessica M. Krucek and Richard J. Pugh

Chapter 10

She sat against the wall, hugging her knees and shaking, sobbing,

crying... She couldn't think of anything, only feel the shame she

thought was left on Bajor. A traitor, she'd always be a traitor, no

matter where she was or what she did with her life. Never mind how her

father's cooperation saved thousands, or that she was only a small

girl when it all happened. A traitor was all she could be, all she

ever was...

"Miri," a very gentle voice above her.

Nedian sat next to her, close enough to offer comfort, but not

reaching out to her.

Miri looked up, her voice was hoarse. "Oh, Nedian... I suppose you're

ashamed of me."

Nedian shook his head. "Miri, I'm not ashamed of you. I'm ashamed of

them. I'm ashamed of Losian. I can't believe that slime like that used

to be my nephew."

Miri looked up.

Nedian smiled gently. "You know how I told you that Jarok's been in

this clan for all its lifetimes. Well, *that* was Camon's nephew."

"But you...you deserve better than a bloody traitor..."

He put his arm around her. "You aren't the traitor, Miri. I am, and I

don't care. I love you, and I'm more than willing to turn my back on

this. I don't belong here anymore, and I told you that."

She looked up, smiled, and snuggled closer to Nedian. Nedian

gladly pulled her into his arms, her warmth making him feel comforted

and contented.

Alcot Tierel was watching his son from the window. He shook his head.

"What do we do, Alizia?

"Vangel needs to know so that the League can prepare." Alizia said.

"It will only be a matter of time before Starfleet discovers that the

Dominion's not the culprit. Especially since Nedian is here. He's

already suspicious of the Guard and the Commission, and you know how

much he loved..." Alizia's voice trailed off. "He doesn't believe the

official story."

Alcot looked at his wife in disbelief.

"He was asking me for a copy of Aylia's records, and a copy of

Baran's. He also was also asking that human doctor if he could somehow

get a hold of the autopsy files. Also, if he believed the Commission's

laws, would he be beneath our window, holding a Bajoran?" Alizia shook

her head. "He won't give up until he knows what really happened. Even

with the symbiont, he's as stubborn as you are."

"If anything, that part of him got worse," Alcot chortled, then paused

for a moment.

"He's as bad as your mother," Alizia chortled.

"He *IS* my mother, and my brother as well," Alcot replied. There was

a long, deathly silence. "Damn it, we'd be asking the League to

capture our son. We've lost Aylia. I don't want to lose Nedian."

"Its the only way. Nedian would listen to reason. I suspect Jadzia

would, too. They both knew Kareel. From what they said, it sounds like

someone else on the ship also knew the Senator. They will help. I'd

stake the clanstead on it."

"I'm not sure about Jadzia. If she knew who was helping to run the

League..." Alcot paced the floor. "From what I've seen of her, she's

gone from rule-quoting Initiate to just another one of the Joined

who's comfortable with their status and determined to keep it."

"We have to take the chance. If we can alert Starfleet to what the

Guard's

actual intent is, we can stop this."

"But luring them will put the League at risk, too."

"It may also be the only way to tell Starfleet that the Dominion

*isn't* behind the attacks."

Alcot nodded. "Get Vangel in here."

Jadzia had wandered into one of the parlors of the clan mansion. She

sat one one of the couches and watched the fire crackling in the fire

place.

That was too close for comfort. Her shoulders ached under the weight

of some invisible burden.

She was feeling very cold, despite the roaring fire. Huddling on the

couch, she stared off into space, feeling like a miserable coward. Why

did she stay silent while Nedian was being insulted?

Maybe she resented Nedian. After all, he was gloriously happy with

Miri, and he didn't care what anyone thought about it. In a way, she

wanted to deck her old friend for being so foolhardy, especially while

they *stayed* on Trill.

She looked up, into a vast mirror on one wall. Her own reflection

stared back.

*Coward.*

She looked away, but the nagging voice continued to pester her.

*Nedian's happy...you used to be happy...Then you turned away.*

"I would have lost Julian. To time, to an accident, to his walking

away. I shouldn't have gotten attached to him. It was a mistake to

fall in love with him. I'm relieved that he's not part of my life."

*No, you're not.*

"The goal is not my happiness. Jadzia doesn't count in the grand order

of things. The only thing that matters is protecting and nurturing

Dax's store of experience and knowledge, and applying my knowledge to

enlighten and guide others. Julian wanted a lover, not a teacher. And

that's something I can't be fore him."

*Can't or won't?*

"I'm trying to amend my mistakes." she said, aloud. "I'm trying to

grow."

*Cower. Trying to cower. Scared little girl, Joran was right. Why

don't you try standing up for once in your lifetimes?*

She pulled out the cylinder. The writing on it. Linked with the other

evidence... it was unlikely that this would ever be traced to the

Guard, since the casing was so old. Even a thief probably wouldn't

waste their time with it.

The League might use something that old, but it was doubtful. The

casing was found no where near the League agent, and the bombing was

done by a professional, not some mere terrorist.

She tapped her badge. "Dax to Jarok."

There was a long silence. "Am I talking to Jadzia, or to Dax?" Nedian

answered.

Jadzia cringed.

"Nedian..." she started. He cut her off.

"Until you decide which side you're on, call me Parent Jarok."

His words were very simple, but they cut into her like a laser torch.

"I'm going back to the Defiant," she said quietly. "How long do you

plan on staying?"

"A couple more hours," he answered coldly. "I may stay the night.

Julian's already back aboard."

"Acknowledged. Dax out."

She suddenly had a great urge not to go back to the Defiant, but she

did need to get some sleep. Tapping her badge, she gave the order for

beam-up.

* * * *

After wandering around the ship sleepless for a couple of hours, and

staring out a few portholes, she finally gathered her resolve.

"Computer, locate Doctor Bashir."

Doctor Bashir is in his quarters.

"Is he asleep?"

Negative.

Jadzia turned and sighed, walking heavily at first, but starting to

speed up until she was almost in a run by the time she arrived.

She had an awful feeling. Something was wrong. She tried to shake off

pictures of him hurt or sick as she bolted down the corridor. Her

heart was pounding with dread as she came to the door.

His quarters weren't even locked. She pressed the panel and it slid

open.

She inhaled sharply. Julian was slumped back in a chair,

semi-conscious. A large bottle of dark blue liquor lay on the table

before him.

With a cry, she ran to him, and took his face in her hands. "Julian?

Julian!"

He looked up at her. His normally gentle dark eyes were bloodshot, and

puffy. He had been crying.

*What have you done to yourself, Julian?* she thought. Eyeing the

bottle next to him, she cautiously approached, grabbing it. He reached

out and tore it out of her hand.

"Give me that, Dax. Need it more than you do."

She had gotten a good look at the bottle, though. "This is canar,

Julian. Where did you get it?"

A lopsided grin. "Someone who gives a damn...Garak gave it to me...

removed an implant from his 'ead," ," Julian's shaky finger gestured

to his head. "Hurt him bad... only physical, though. Nothing I

couldn't cure."

"Julian..." Jadzia reached out for him, but he slapped her hand away.

"Don't 'Julian' me you fucking slug-gut!" he roared, almost slapping

her. "Lev' me the hell alone, an' stop touchn' me. Don't want you.

Should know better. Jus' an ice queen. Cold bitch."

"You should know better than to get drunk."

"Only as drunk as yer last Host. Heard stories from Sisko." He

hiccuped and his voice became an obscene singsong. "Draggin' Ker'zo

home a'fer lotsa drink. Not there yet." Julian took another slow swig,

half of it dribbling down his chin and shirt. "Tryin.'"

Jadzia shifted in her seat. Those memories of Curzon were something

she didn't need to be reminded of.

"Julian, why? Why are you doing this to yourself? You're going to be

sick."

"You don' give a damn about me, *Dax.* Don' care 'bout Ned... only

care for self. Wish... wish I saw sooner what kinda ice queen..."

"Julian, let me take you over to bed. It's -"

"No way. Na this time. Not affer last time. Slep by yerself. Go 'way.

Get out 'a my life."

"Julian?"

"Go 'way. Jus' leave... loved you. Why does loving hurt? Ev'ry one...

give 'em all 'a me, and it's not good enough."

"Talked to Ned dis mornin'... may need a doctor on Twelve, since the

one they got's in therapy. She go' raped," he said with a mock sob.

"But you wound'n care 'bout that. I thinkin' of tranzferrin', but you

wound'n care 'bout that either."

Jadzia was concerned. If Julian kept drinking, he might drink himself

into a coma. She had no idea how much intoxicant a human could ingest

and still stay alive. Curzon could drink a human under the table, but

a lot of it was because Dax processed poisons. Julian didn't have

that advantage, and she knew a human could literally die of alcohol.

"Julian, please. Talk to me," she said, trying to coax her human

friend. She tried to remember all the things Benjamin did when Curzon

had drunk too much. "Let me help you. Whatever it is..."

"Wanna know what it is, Dax? Problem's you. Problem's Trill... little

girl lost an' all they think about is her getting a slug next time

'round... all lies from Guard. Insults to old friend an' you're too

cold a' bitch to stop them. "

"Julian..."

He continued to mumble. "Problem's love." Tears streamed out

of his bloodshot eyes and he stared at the terminal. "Not good

enough... never any good... worthless bastard... Jaz'minz worthless

bast'rd."

Dimly, she recalled the first pages of the diaries he'd given her.

"Jasmine Bashir... your mother..."

"Gone. Had'ta leave. Father give her divorze parpers, an' she had to

lef'... Couldn't stay." his next few words were unintelligible to

Jadzia, spoken in a dialect of Terran she could only puzzle bits from.

His voice reverted to the twisted version of Standard. "Tried to

please... Couldn't please... Kept beating... never good... always

worthless bast'rd until moved in w' un'k Akmed."

Jadzia instinctively cringed back. This was not the Julian she knew.

Somehow, she knew that she shouldn't be privy to this.

"Father needed good rep-u-ta-shon..." Julian's speech was slurred.

"Bing me to dip'omatic... needed proof he was good. I'd fail... Always

fail. Never good enough. Deserved it..."

"Deserved what?" she asked.

"You don' neeta know. Go 'way, Dax. Stopped lov'n' you. Hurt me.

Always they hurt. Give them all, they hurt with it. All of 'em, cold

as Tee-ral... cold like Trill... cold like you... no love, no shelter

when getting hit - words or fist..."

"Loved Pa-lees. Learn later she was sleeping with half the troupe.

Gave her all but my dreams... she threw it back." Tears were splashing

down his face, and dripping down his chin. "Why? Why do I hurt?"

The choked quality of the words lanced through Jadzia. She now had an

idea *why* Julian was not very open with his life before Deep Space

Nine.

He looked at her. "Then, you. Jad'za Dax. Parrant of Soci'ty. Joined.

Gave you it all. Even dreams. Even past. Fool me. Big laugh on doctor

Julian."

*Gods, if I knew I had hurt you this badly... If I had known you hurt

this much...*

"Jus' a boy. Jus' a little worthless bastard... all I am to you. Hate

you, Dax. Hate you. Love... na worth it."

"You've loved others," Jadzia reminded him. "You've had other lovers

that haven't betrayed you."

A chuckle born of hell escaped his throat. "Gave 'em nothin'. Never

love 'em. Had my body. Noh'in else. Leets wa' na' intrested in nothin'

else. Talked a

lot, but no brains. Can' love that. You I loved... Gave you all...

Gave you dreams, mind, heart. Night 'for j'fall... gave you all...

body, heart... You give nothing... Jus' needed to use me again."

Jadzia was stunned. She had *never* expected this out of him! For

once, she was stunned silent. Julian was grinning, but not with joy.

"Ev'ryth'n, Jad'za. Heart, love, spirit, sex...you had it all of me.

Betray me. Should'a know I ain't good enough. Human no good. Jus'

failure. No top o' class. Beaten out. Beaten up... worthless bastard.

Just worthless... fucking worthless..."

"Julian, you aren't worthless." she insisted. Despite her emotional

training, she was beginning to feel his pain, and wanted to reach out.

"Use me... always you use... Chap'rone wi' Kahn... change fer

Mer'id'yan... Verad... Joran... Sobel... sat by. Did what asked. Love

you. Na good enough. Jus' yer trained dog. Go ta Worf... use him for a

change... Lea' me 'lone, Dax."

Jadzia was suddenly starting to feel very small, and very ashamed of

herself.

"Wa' bout yer friend? Ned? Use him to? Ya talked to him subspace for

hours when Sobel wuz around. Said you were scared. Wa' bout when you

were in school, and yer friend Gabel killed himzelf? Ya say ya cried

to Ned for hours. Wa kinda friend are you? Bad friend for Ned, bad

friend for me."

"Julian. I'm so sorry."

"Na sorry 'nough. Wish you hurt like this, Dax. Wish you knew. Don't

care for anyone buy yerself."

When Jadzia didn't answer, Julian seemed to take pride in silencing

her. He shot her an icy look, then cackled hideously.

"Dax have nothing to say? Sayin it all ta Worf, are you? No surprise.

Jus' use an' use 'cause I won't say no." His voice grew quieter

through his tirade. "Maybe Klingon turn to your trained dog. Fetch

rak'jino... Save my life... share my bed. Through gettin' hurt. This,"

he gestured to the bottle, his voice almost

inaudibly quiet. "An' patient all I got."

Jadzia knelt by him. "No, Julian...I'm here. I didn't know I hurt you

like this, dearheart... I'm sorry..."

"Don' believe you. Don' believe..."

"Come on," she said, hefting his slight form up. "To bed with you."

He grumbled something as she pushed him onto the bed. He wasn't even

coordinated enough to put up much of a fight when she stripped him to

his underwear. By the time she pulled the blanket over his shoulders,

he was asleep.

She checked to see if he was still breathing. His breathing was even.

She'd watch him for a little while. He didn't seem to be in too much

danger, though. She started cleaning up the spilled bottle and liquor.

Most of the canar seemed to have wound up on the floor. As she knew

from Curzon's memories, canar had a tendency to sneak up on someone.

*You're going to have a wicked headache when you wake up.* she

thought. Well, his headache would equal the same ache growing in her

heart.

She kissed Julian's forehead and left the room.

Another run, and she ran into Tie Miri. The Bajoran frowned as she saw

her.

"Excuse me, Commander," she said tersely and pushed her way past her.

Jadzia caught Miri's arm. "I'm sorry."

Miri turned around. "Little too late, ma'am. I'm on my way to my

quarters to get my nightclothes and duty uniform. Captain Sisko's

authorized Nedian and I for a 12 hour stay on the planet."

Jadzia pulled out the cylinder from her jacket. "I need your help."

Miri frowned. "Maybe you should have thought about this earlier," she

said as she started to walk past her.

"I think," said Jadzia. "That this cylinder proves who bombed that

building."

Miri whipped around. "Why don't you run the program yourself?"

"I'm not familiar with your sensor programs, Tie." She looked down.

"This is not an order. This is..."

Miri frowned as she approached to eyeball the cylinder. "Where did you

find it?"

"At the bomb site, yesterday," Jadzia answered, feeling acutely

ashamed.

"And you didn't submit it with the evidence?"

"I didn't think it was part of the bomb, but when my tricorder picked

up

Zinc Chromate in it..."

Miri's eyes flew into her bangs. "Zinc Chromate?" She shook her head.

"I'll definitely tell this to Nedian, and maybe Captain Sisko, you

realize?"

Jadzia nodded. "I understand."

"Let's go to the lab."

Miri put the cylinder under the scanner, Nedian and Jadzia looking

over her shoulder.

The Bajoran ran the sensors over it. "Well, I am reading Zinc

Chromate.

This was supposed to be another can of fuel. Guess the detonator was

so old it didn't want to explode."

"The writing is definitely Azure Guard," said Nedian. "I've had my

share of dealing with them over the centuries."

"So have I," said Jadzia. "The code on them is from Torias's day,

though."

"That would explain why it wouldn't be on the current Guard inventory.

Stashed in a basement somewhere and forgotten." The Bajoran sniffed

with distaste. "Typical bureaucracy."

Nedian frowned. "Try seeing if there's any bio-matter. Fingerprints in

particular."

Miri pressed a few panels and the lights above the scanning chamber

glowed green. Three brighter green spots stood out.

"Good thing Trill have fingerprints. Enough to start running through

the Commission database. Let's see if the bugger has himself a slug."

After a long wait, the computer read negative. Miri tried the Initiate

database going back twenty years, then, the Candidate. Finally, she

got

to the initial rejection file.

"Finally!" she cried, "A match!"

The two Trills rushed over to see. Miri pointed to the file.

"Corporal Heela Bor. Enlisted in the Guard at age 16. He was a

demolition expert, but got put out on patrol the day of the bombing."

"Demolition?"

"His specialty was Zinc Chromate bombs, but the Guard put those out of

general service shortly after he completed training. The Zinc Chromate

bombs in their current inventory were destroyed, or," her voice

darkened. "Donated to the main Guardian monastery for use in funeral

rites."

Nedian walked over to the other terminal and sent a data probe into

the Guard's network. "This will bring up all the inventory of all

Azure Guard explosives dating back thirty years. I'll go back further

if necessary."

The computer chirped. "Miri! According to this, the Azure Guard lost a

warehouse full of Zinc Chromate shells twenty years ago. The shells

were a century old and were being retired from general use."

"Lost? How do you bloody lose a warehouse full of explosive?"

"They moved it to a top secret location, then apparantly lost the map

to the cache."

"Run the serial numbers of the lost shells against the one we found,"

said Jadzia.

Nedian punched in the number and the computer started scrolling. A

series of blips signified the answer they'd been looking for.

Nedian looked up, pale. "A match. A dead perfect match."

"Who lost those explosives?"

Nedian looked up. "I'll be damned. Yarrow Lesal, the one right before

Arjin." Getting out of his seat, he started for the door. "Miri. Meet

me down at the clanstead. I need to report this to Captain Sisko."

Miri nodded and headed out the door. Jadzia was headed for the door

when Nedian caught her. "Not you. I'm lot letting you off like this."

"Nedian..."

"No. Not yet. This little stunt only has me more angry at you."

Jadzia didn't know what to say. There *was* no excuse for her actions,

she knew that.

"I can't believe you had the *nerve* to hide it that long. I ought

to..."

The com signal interrupted. "Commander Dax, Commander Jarok, report to

the captain's ready room."

Nedian shot Jadzia an angry look. "We'll discuss this at another time,

Parent Dax." The overly formal translation from Trill made Jadzia even

more edgy.

Sisko looked up. "The fingerprints confirm it?"

"I'm afraid so, Captain. We would have been able to do something

sooner had Commander Dax presented her find immediately."

"Dax?" asked Sisko. "You know that I will put you on report for this.

Had you waited any longer, I would have Odo toss you in the brig for

impeding the

investigation."

Jadzia blanched, but nodded. "I understand, Captain."

Turning toward the meager porthole, Sisko steepled his fingers, deep

in thought. "Now, for the reason I called you both down here. Odo and

I have been called back to Earth. The Federation wants to see us

testify as to our findings by the request of Monarch Jarmalon."

Nedian frowned. "They're on to us."

"Exactly," said Sisko. "But Starfleet has buckled under to pressure by

the Trill Government. The Defiant is to check out a neighboring system

for Dominion activity."

"Calling us off the case," said Jadzia.

Odo nodded. "The *USS Mandella* is coming here in twelve hours to take

Captain Sisko and I back to Earth."

Nedian straightened. "What are our orders, sir?"

Sisko frowned. "Dax, I'll put you in charge of the Defiant. Go to the

next system and spend a few hours there, then cloak and head back to

Trillian to continue the investigation. However, in light of this

recent development, I believe Commander Jarok will be in charge of the

investigation."

"I understand," Nedian answered.

"Be careful," said Sisko. "I'll contact you when I can. In the

meantime, get some sleep. Dismissed."

In the corridor, Jadzia tried to catch up with Nedian.

"Nedian, wait!" she called.

"Not now, Dax," he answered without looking at her. He vanished into

a turbolift without looking back.

Jadzia stood alone in the corridor for several seconds. What the hell

did she just do to him, to Miri, to Julian, to herself? It seemed to

be one bad idea after another.

"Commander," Odo said from behind her, "before I leave I should tell

you that you're being foolish?"

Jadzia shot him an angry scowl.

"Don't you start too, Odo," she said quietly.

"Most Trills think that your friend Nedian Jarok has fallen from the

true path; that he's lost sight of what's truly important, and doesn't

have his priorities straight."

Jadzia shook her head. "I'm glad for Ned, but he's making himself

happy at the expense of the greater order."

"So am I." Odo answered quietly, his eerily humanoid eyes fixing on

her. "And I remember the person who told you that."

No one ever talked about that mishap that happened during Jadzia's

*zhian'tara* ritual. Due to Odo's changeling nature, Curzon's memories

and personality fused themselves onto his own. When Curzon's memories

were returned to Jadzia (finally), she had some of Odo's memories as

well, memories almost as clear as Verad's but with none of the

unpleasant associates. Odo also retained many of the memories,

creating a very strong, but very strange bond between them.

"That's different. You aren't throwing away something you've worked

for all your life to run off with a Bajoran..." She suddenly realized

what she said, and blushed.

"Go ahead and blush, Commander. For your information, I *did* work for

most of my life to get back to my people. The Bajoran... is another

issue."

"So," said Jadzia acidly. "When do you plan on telling Kira the

truth?"

"She's with Shaakar, and I'm not about to say anything so long as she

is." His smile returned. "When do *you* plan on telling Dr. Bashir the

truth? Leeta has gone off with Rom last I heard. And from what I've

heard out of Chief O'Brien, you and Worf are no longer seeing each

other."

"There's nothing there anymore. We... we're not even friends anymore.

I work with him, we sometimes talk, but it's over... It was for the

best."

"Then why do you sound like you're about to cry?"

"I've lost a lot of people, Odo. Julian's... just another loss. He

would have left me, anyway. I have to keep my priorities straight, not

only for myself, but for my people."

"Ah, I see. Keeping your priorities straight," the changeling said in

his trademark grumble. Odo paused for emphasis. "Frankly, Commander,

if I shared your set of 'priorities,' I would be ordering a legion of

Jem'Hadar into Federation Space. From what I've seen of this world of

yours, Nedian Jarok is the only Joined Trill I've ever met who *does*

have his priorities straight."

Odo walked away.

Jadzia slowly returned to her quarters, deep in thought.

Continued...

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

|Richard J. Pugh, MLS | Traveling Eternity Road, |

| RJPugh@ids.net | What will you find there? |

| RJPugh@aol.com | Carrying your heavy load, |

| PUGH.RICHARD@epamail.epa.gov | Searching to find, a peace of mind |

| http://www.ids.net/~rjpugh/ | - The Moody Blues |

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

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From: rjpugh@ids.net (Richard J. Pugh)

Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative

Subject: The First Tile - 11 (PG-13, DS9/TNG/Amagosa)

Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 02:11:12 GMT

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The First Tile

by Jessica M. Krucek and Richard J. Pugh

Chapter 11

Part Seven: The Different Story

"Who will you run to when it all falls down? Who's going to pick your

world apart from the ground? Who's going to take away the tears you

cry? Who's gonna love you, baby, as good as I?"

-Heart "Who Will You Run To?"

**Captain's Log, *USS Defiant.* Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax in

command. Starfleet has ordered us to investigate a nearby system for

Dominion activity. Commander Jarok is continuing to check the Trill

computer system covertly. Hopefully, we'll find the parties

responsible for the hacking and bombings and bring them to justice. I

only hope that this will not lead to the wide-spread chaos of my worst

imaginings.**

"Coming into the Amari system," said Ries.

"Ensign Tie, is there any ships in the area? Any unusual activity?"

"Not right now. As quiet as a vacuum."

"Very good. Mr. Michaels..."

The com system activated and Julian's voice echoed onto the bridge.

"Sickbay to Bridge. Commander Dax, report down here at your nearest

opportunity."

Jadzia sighed audibly and rolled her eyes. "Mr. Ries, you have the

bridge. Mr. Michaels, you take the con."

She walked into Sickbay. Beverly was talking with Nedian on a biobed,

and Julian was sorting some equipment.

Nedian nodded to Beverly, got up and walked past Jadzia, nodding in

her direction before reaching the doors. Beverly then disappeared

behind another set of doors.

"What's going on?" asked Jadzia. "Why did you call me down here?"

"Beverly and I want to see how you're doing. We want to know

if you're fit to command. We've already had Commander Jarok come in

with tension headaches and other stress-related aliments."

"Dammit, I'm *fine.*"

"No, you're not," said Julian, running the tricorder over her. "I'm

picking up low blood sugar, mild disruption of neural patterns... You

didn't sleep last night, nor have you eaten today."

Jadzia asked neutrally. "What about you? Is the hangover gone?"

Julian ignored her. "Are you still having to use the inducer?"

She rolled her eyes.

"Look, *Commander,* whatever personal issues you have with me are not

to enter this sickbay."

"Whatever gives you the idea that I'm letting my personal feelings get

in the way?"

"Why are you acting so hostile towards me?" he asked.

"Hostile? I wasn't the one who was getting drunk and insulting *you*

last night," she said. "I wasn't the one who lost their temper at you

in another person's clanstead."

Julian seemed angry for a minute, then resigned. "Dax, last night..."

"You scared me, Julian," Jadzia said bluntly.

Julian stood back in surprise. "I did?"

"Yes. The things you said..." She frowned. "You probably don't

remember any of it, do you?"

"I... remember some of it," he said uncomfortably.

Jadzia shook her head. "Look, Julian. I know you're upset at me, but

the things you said to me last night were *way* out of line."

He said sharply. "I remember some of it, and what I remember saying to

you has been coming for a long time."

"It has, has it?" she countered. "I don't think you remember what you

said."

He glared at her. "I remember enough, Jadzia. Ice-Queen, selfish

bitch, slug-gut... you want me to remember a few more?"

Jadzia was devastated. "Julian, I'm sorry..."

"I'm in no mood to talk about last night. Now, are you still using the

inducer?"

She nodded. "Yes. I'm still not sleeping very well, even with it."

His tone grew softer. "Can you talk to anyone?"

She shook her head. "Nedian can talk to Miri. I... need to face this

alone."

Julian touched her shoulder. "No, you don't."

She looked up. There was an uncomfortably long silence between the two

of them. Jadzia put her other hand over his. Seemingly on their own

accord, their hands interlaced.

"I'm sorry," she said. "For a lot of things."

Mistrust and emotional hurt warred with sympathy and compassion on

Julian's face as he stared at their hands. It seemed like hours, but

it was only a few seconds.

Abruptly, he broke it off and went to the terminal to punch up her

duty schedule. "What's this about putting in two solid shifts?"

"This ship is under my command. I need to stay on the bridge."

"Not that badly," he said, turning toward her. "As of now, you are

ordered to serve only one shift per day, and you are also ordered to

get something to eat. I'm also..."

The com signal interrupted.

"Ries to Commander Dax."

"Dax here."

"Commander, report to the Bridge. Sensors are picking up something

unusual on the fourth planet."

"Define 'unusual,' Mr. Ries."

"Lifesigns. The records say that the planet's deserted, but I'm

picking up lifesigns. "

She straightened. "Can I leave, doctor?"

He nodded. "Go ahead, Dax. Just remember not to overexert yourself,

and you are going to your quarters right after this shift, even if I

have to order Ries to bring you there at phaserpoint. Understood?"

She nodded. "Yes." She walked out of Sickbay and into a turbolift. As

soon as she was alone, she touched the hand that Julian held, the

remaining warmth

an odd contrast to the usual iciness.

By the time she got to the bridge, Nedian was in the center seat. He

stood up and turned command over to her.

"Report, Ensign Tie."

"The readings are from Amani IV. Class H. Seventeen domes. Three of

the domes are producing a breathable oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere.

Temperature is within normal humanoid tolerance. The lifesigns are

from the largest of the domes."

"Why didn't it show up on the initial scans?" Nedian asked.

Miri checked the sensors. "It appeared while you were in Sickbay. I

picked up a tachyeon surge with the new sensor array. The dome was

cloaked."

Ries's panel started to chatter. "Automated hail. Audio only."

"Patch it through." said Jadzia.

We are the survivors of the *TMS J'Tallak.* Supplies are low. We

require medical aid and technical assistance. Repeat. We are the

survivors of the *TMS J'Tallak.* Supplies are low. We require...

"Do we believe them?" asked Nedian.

"Not for a second." Jadzia answered.

"Permission to lead an away team?"

"Granted."

"Ensign Tie, you're with me." he spoke into the com system. "Doctors

Bashir and Crusher, meet me in the transporter room. Bring medkits,

and come armed."

They materialized on the planet, inside the largest dome. They

materialized inside a room full of outdated computer equipment and

idle, heavy machinery. Nedian looked around. "Amari mining colony.

This place was abandoned during Ramak's time." Nedian found an old

computer terminal, and crawled under it. "By all that's Joined! This

place is far from abandoned. This computer has been modified, and

pretty recently."

What was mined here?" Julian asked.

"Dilithuim, mainly. It's mostly played out now, and what little mining

is done uses robots. That explains the functioning power and computer

grids," Nedian said, crawling out from the machinery. "But no life

forms are supposed to be here." He motioned to Miri. "Miri, give me a

hand. You're the sensor expert."

Miri walked over and pressed various panels, frowned, then checked the

computer network again. "I haven't seen anything like this since the

Academy! This whole dome has been modified with a sensor deflector.

Not terribly sophisticated, but enough to mask a cursory sensor sweep.

Looks like something was a bit misaligned, or else it would have

stayed hidden. Whoever is here is using the existing robot activity as

a sort of smoke screen."

"Lifesigns?" asked Nedian. "How many people are here?"

Nedian and Miri went to work again, but a voice echoed behind them.

"Drop your weapons and come with me."

Everyone spun around, shocked. Blocking the only door were ten armed

guards in full armor. Their leader (armed with an even nastier phaser

rifle) had no helmet. She wasn't Trill. Her forehead and bearing

marked her as Khafcian.

Nedian and Miri watched as Julian turned very pale, fearful eyes

registering recognition. The Khafcian smiled.

"Glad to see you recognize me," she said. She activated a communicator

on her wrist. "Mareel to base. We have some prisoners. Five people,

all Starfleet."

"Acknowledged," came an unfamiliar voice.

Mareel smiled as she walked up to Julian and swiped his combadge.

"Never thought I'd see you again."

They were all herded into a room, searched, cuffed on hands and

ankles, and placed in the middle of the floor of a cave. Several armed

guards kept their phaser rifled trained on them. Mareel pulled Julian

to his feet first.

"I suspect he'll want to talk to you first," she said. turning to the

other guards, she said, separating Julian from the rest of the party.

Two guards marched him off a far corridor.

Beverly anxiously watched as Julian was hauled away. She tried to get

up, but Mareel roughly turned her around and jostled her down yet

another corridor.

Coming into view was a tall, blonde Northern Trill woman in a red,

loose-fitting jumpsuit. Mareel held up her hand and the soldiers

stopped.

The woman walked their direction, then abruptly stopped. Beverly got a

good look at the woman's startled expression, and felt her own heart

skip a beat.

"Oh, my God..." whispered Beverly.

"Tosa's Winds..." muttered the woman at the same time. Her face then

broke into a wide, ironic grin. "What a pleasant surprise to see you

again, Doctor Beverly."

Julian was taken down a long series of similar corridors, after a

while, he had no idea where he was. The dull gray of the corridors

held no variation, so there wasn't so much as a broken light to act as

a navigation guide.

He was plopped in a chair, restraints still on. Then, Mareel and the

others turned and left. Two chairs, a table with a pitcher of water

and a glass, and lights angled so no shadows were cast. Just as Julian

was about to get up and check the door, his interrogator came in,

flanked by two more guards.

His face was a little more drawn, a little more wrinkled, and his hair

held a little more gray. Sharp hazel eyes nailed Julian to the chair.

The man ignored Julian, telling the guards to wait outside. One of

them unholstered an odd, black rod. The door slid shut, leaving them

alone.

He still had that eerily gentle voice. "Well, well, doctor. Remember

me?"

Julian blinked in astonishment. "Verad, how did..."

"Not a great feeling, is it?" the Trill asked. "Being in chains?"

Julian looked over Verad, his eyes fixing on the double triangle

symbol embroidered on his simple, black jumpsuit in the same place

Julian had his communicator.

"The League!" Julian exclaimed.

"Very good," said Verad darkly. "And you are here to help us."

Julian's voice was filled with acid. "I've not forgotten you, Verad.

Need my help to rip the Symbiont out of a Joined prisoner?"

Verad stared down Julian, a calm menace radiating from him. "No.

That's not what I'm after. What I am after is answers. You will give

them to me, won't you, doctor? What I need to know is how much support

Starfleet has given the Azure Guard. Number and type of ships,

weaponry, explosives. Computer support. As much as you can tell me."

"If I don't give you answers?" Julian hissed.

Verad fingered the rod. His voice was even, and his eyes were angry,

but not really malicious. "I'm sorry, doctor, but I am serious. If you

don't try to attack me, there won't be a need to hurt you. I'll stay

here as long as I have to, doctor. The sooner you give me the

information I want, the sooner I can let you and your friends out of

the cuffs."

"Then what will you do with us?" said Julian.

"I don't know. Hold you hostage until the Azure Guard hears us, maybe.

I'm not in the position to decide. I want to know how much assistance

Starfleet is sending the Azure Guard, and I want to know very soon. If

you won't give me answers, I'm sure the others will. I'll bring them

in here. However, I think you would be a good start."

Julian remained silent, seething. His fists balled up under the table,

and he felt his muscles stiffen.

Verad shook his head. "I know our meeting was not pleasant, Doctor..."

"Not pleasant?" Julian spat. "You take my friends hostage, you shot

one of them to prove your damn point. Then, you forced me, at

phaserpoint, to rip the symbiont from Jadzia's body and put in you,

with the full knowledge that you were leaving her with me to die." He

stared down Verad and continued to shout. "That was the worst night of

my life, and all you can say is 'not pleasant?!'"

Verad picked up the wand. Julian took no note of the look on his

interrogator's face. Verad was wide-eyed and his jaw hung open. His

white-knuckled hand gripped the rod, quaking in his shaking hands.

Julian continued to hammer Verad angrily, heedless of the man's rising

panic or the rod he clutched. Julian really didn't even know what he

was saying. His hands were at work in wriggling out of the cuffs.

"You bastard. If you knew what you did... if you knew how much pain

she was in... if you were there, watching her die..."

"Stop it," Verad said, trying to cover his ears.

"Go ahead and use that damn rod on me to get me to shut up," Julian

hissed. "How would you act if I held one of those to your back and

told you to tear out one of Mareel's vital organs?" Julian said,

finally getting one hand free and bringing it in Verad's view as he

worked on the other cuff.

Verad didn't answer. He lunged across the table suddenly, and put the

tip of the wand to Julian's chest.

There was a loud crack. Julian didn't scream, only take in a sharp

breath. It was a lot worse than holding one's breath too long. He

*couldn't* breathe. He tried to exhale, but couldn't. His whole chest

felt like it was being crushed.

Just when it seemed Julian would black out, Verad jerked back the rod,

and Julian slumped, gasping for air and looking up with a renewed fear

of Verad.

Verad threw down the rod, and gripped Julian's shoulders. "Doctor?

Doctor, are you all...all r-right?"

Julian was gasping for air. Verad shouted. "Guards!"

Verad helped Julian into a more comfortable position. "Oh, Gods... I

didn't mean... I'm sorry, Doctor... C-Can you breathe?"

Julian was still taking in lungfuls of air, and his chest ached, but

his breathing was beginning to slow. Verad poured a glass of water

from the pitcher and helped him drink it.

"Easy, doctor. Not too much. Slowly..."

Julian was completely stunned. This was definitely *not* the Verad of

his nightmares.

His breathing returned to something close to normal. He peered at the

haggard face. "Verad?"

"Yes. It... it's me. Are you still in pain? I didn't meant to panic."

"Why the hell are *you* so concerned?" Julian asked, eyes narrowing.

"You weren't too concerned about that when you shot the Chief, or when

you left me with Jadzia."

He looked away. "Things... were different, then. Are you all right?"

Julian nodded quietly. "Just don't use the rod again."

"Agreed." said Verad. "I'm afraid I don't know much about humans. I

couldn't tell if you were seriously hurt."

"I'm fine now."

"Is... is Jadzia all right? Did she survive?"

Now, Julian was stunned speechless.

"The Guard... made me watch while they hurt Mareel. They did... awful

things - very awful things - to her. I know how it feels to be so

scared for

someone you care about. Looking back, I can see that Jadzia was...

special to you."

*Special...* Julian thought, remembering that terrible night. It was

that night when he realized how deep his feelings for Jadzia truly

ran. She was so vulnerable, and he had felt so helpless. Afterwards,

she knew she could come and talk to him about anything. The awful

night had brought them closer on an emotional and *spiritual* level

than any other experience, only to have it come apart after the

physical sharing the night before her *j'fall'an.*

*I miss her.*

He must have said it aloud because Verad gasped. "Oh, Winds..."

Julian shook his head. "No. Jadzia's fine. She..." he swallowed hard.

"Remembers you, retains many of your memories."

Then they heard the door slide open, and another female voice say,

"Let him go. He's a friend."

Two guards immediately took off the chains. Julian stood up. Flanked

by Nedian and Beverly, a stately Trill woman stood in the door. Julian

gasped. "Senator Odan!"

She nodded. "Come, we have much to discuss."

Continued...

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

|Richard J. Pugh, MLS | Traveling Eternity Road, |

| RJPugh@ids.net | What will you find there? |

| RJPugh@aol.com | Carrying your heavy load, |

| PUGH.RICHARD@epamail.epa.gov | Searching to find, a peace of mind |

| http://www.ids.net/~rjpugh/ | - The Moody Blues |

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

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From: rjpugh@ids.net (Richard J. Pugh)

Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative

Subject: The First Tile - 12 (PG-13, DS9/TNG/Amagosa)

Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 02:11:18 GMT

Organization: Posted via CAIS Internet info@cais.com

Lines: 388

Message-ID: 4s1o3s$891@news2.cais.com

NNTP-Posting-Host: va169.idsonline.com

The First Tile

by Jessica M. Krucek and Richard J. Pugh

Chapter 12

Within minutes, Jadzia had beamed down as well. Kareel led them into a

large room that they guessed to be her quarters. Verad and a elderly

woman wearing the emblem of a Guardian around her neck were already

seated on the floor.

"Everyone, he is Verad, my second-in-command, and she is Joa, my

Guardian- Retainer and dear friend. Both of them have proved

invaluable to operation of this base and to the movement."

Joa nodded. "A pleasure to see you, Dax and Jarok."

Verad swallowed hard and looked up at Jadzia. "It's been a long time,

Parent Dax."

Jadzia said nothing, only coolly nodded and sat on a vacant pillow.

Nedian spoke first. "Never thought I'd see you, Kareel. We thought you

were dead."

"Joa and I were smuggled here by Verad and Mareel after the Azure

Guard attacked my vessel," Kareel said casually. "And killed the

survivors. I powered down the escape pod to make it appear as space

debris. I was fortunate that Verad had a patrol out to rendezvous with

my ship a system away."

She looked at her guests, then up at Verad. "Verad, Joa, tell the

guard outside to bring us something to eat and drink. It will be a

long night."

Verad nodded and left the room. Kareel's eyes followed him.

"He's a good man deep down. He just has no place in the system as it

stands," Kareel said. "Then again, no one else does, either."

Jadzia shifted in her seat, uncomfortable. She looked to Julian

briefly. Seeing that he looked as uncomfortable as she felt, she

reached out and touched his shoulder. He smiled slightly, and took her

hand in his, giving a light squeeze as if to silently say, "I'm here."

"I'm aware of what he's done, Jadzia." scolded Kareel. " He told me as

much as he could remember when I had the League break him out of

prison. He and Mareel were almost dead from the Azure Guard's

treatment."

Julian was surprised. "What?"

Verad re-entered the room. "Joa and Kaal are getting a tray prepared."

"Very good."

"Verad," asked Julian. "What *did* the Azure Guard do to you and

Mareel?"

"The Guard had used Klingon painsticks against us. Mareel has scars on

her back that I'm afraid will never heal." Verad rolled up his

sleeves, revealing horrible red and blue scars. "There are more on my

back and chest."

Miri reeled back in shock. "Holy Orbs! It looks as if the Obsidian

Order had gotten a hold of you."

"They made me watch when they tortured Mareel," Verad added quietly.

"And, when Odan had her soldiers break us out of prison, we had traces

of isolil in our systems."

Julian was too stunned to speak.

Beverly straightened. "A neural stimulant to enhance the pain?"

Kareel nodded. "I'm afraid so, Beverly. They had other toxins in their

blood as well. Thalmide, Byrelzine... at least a dozen others."

"Truth serums," muttered Julian.

"In addition to burns, broken bones, starvation, and infection." said

Kareel.

Miri was shocked. "I didn't think that the Federation allowed

torture!"

"It doesn't." said Kareel. "But the Federation never has never really

investigated its own prison systems. Sometimes, things slip through

the cracks. The Pollux 3 colony, for example. Or Dvorkin station. The

Guard had sealed their records, and did quite a good job of making

them vanish into thin air like they never existed. In a way, that made

it easier to break them out of prison. No files to tamper with."

Everybody frowned. The Pollux Reform Center had been shut down after

the Federation finally investigated the unusual injuries and deaths,

and ruled the warden guilty of allowing police abuse of prisoners.

Dvorkin Station was a medical monstrosity. It gave the pretense of

doing research, but Starfleet shut it down, and jailed the doctors

after it was learned a few were using dangerous drugs on the

terminally ill. Both were considered isolated incidents, but reminded

everyone that despite high ideals and best intentions, some evil went

unchecked.

Joa came back in, followed by a guard who carried a trayful of bread,

fruit and other finger food. A second guard came in with a huge pot

of *halah* bark tea and several mugs. Everyone filled their mugs, then

sat back down.

"First of all," said Joa. "We had heard from Vangel that the Defiant

would be close to this system. That's why we let you see our base."

"Vangel? As in Vangel Tsal?"

Kareel nodded. "His work as a news editor gives him some unique

contacts. He's proven invaluable to us for many years. Commander

Jarok, you might not know this, but many of the Tierel clan have been

helping us in secret."

Nedian didn't know this, but somehow didn't seem surprised.

"How long?" Nedian asked.

"Zelda Jarok's brother was the first of the League's contacts, I

believe." said Kareel. "Since Zelda was a military officer, he had

access to inside military information."

"Timir? I had no idea!" said Nedian, completely stunned. "Zelda's

brother... I... she thought she knew him inside and out. Why didn't

he...?"

"They couldn't tell you, simply because you were Joined," said Kareel.

"That's why I never knew the extent of Luz's League involvement until

after I received the Odan Symbiont." She chuckled. "How little I knew

about my own brother."

Beverly's eyebrows were hidden by her bangs. "Brother?"

Kareel smiled. "Half-brother to be more precise. My clan is like

Nedian's. That's how we knew each other. The Founding Clans are dying

off, either by age or by assassination, but those that still exist

associate with each other rather closely."

Beverly looked a little pale as she sunk into her seat. Julian got up

from his place near Jadzia, and sat near the older woman as a sign of

assurance.

Verad sat back down. "My question, Kareel, is whether you can trust

them. Knowing Starfleet, they probably have supplied the Azure Guard

with all they need to find us. For all we know, the Guard has told

them we're Changelings and ordered them to attack us."

"So," said Nedian. "I think something's starting to make sense here."

Jadzia shifted in her seat. "What, Nedian?"

Nedian seemed to be in a dimension all his own as he spoke. "The Guard

thinks it can attack a political figure and cause social disruption.

They blame it on the Dominion... leading the Guard to exert more

control..." He snapped out of it. "Good Gods."

Kareel nodded. "We have heard reports that the Guard is trying to

crack down on members of the League by making up some kind of threat

from the Dominion. Unfortunately, we have no proof to present to the

Federation council, and even if we did, no one would believe something

the official government has branded a terrorist organization."

"That's why you need Starfleet help," said Jadzia. "Do you know what

you've done in reactivating the League, Senator? You'll cause chaos,

not to mention civil war, and more terrorism."

Kareel said, "I've tried, and many others have tried, to bring about

peaceful change. Right now, the League *is* interested in peaceful

reform of Trill, but certain elements in the Guard and the Symbiosis

Commission will hear none of it."

"So," Nedian grumbled. "The Board decides to say the damage was caused

by the Dominion in order to not only impose the strict controls on the

population, but so Starfleet could help remove their League problem."

Kareel nodded. "If the League can be branded as Changelings, the Trill

Government has all the justification it needs to annihilate us."

"A Federation planet turning weapons on its own people to silence

political dissent..." Julian was dumbstruck. "Trill should be thrown

out of the Federation for this!"

"Trill has advanced beyond outright poverty and starvation, and that's

enough for most." Verad commented with a icy glower still on Jadzia

and Nedian. "It's pretty much a given that an Unjoined would never be

trusted with influence. Just thank your Gods for the roof over your

head, the food on your table, and pray that you live enough of a

virtuous life so you can Kele and Tosa will choose you in the next

life."

Jadzia noticed that the humans were uncomfortable. She couldn't stop

from being angry at them. This was her homeworld. The system worked,

granted not perfectly, but their planet had its own faults. How would

Julian appreciate it if she started pointing out that Earth had a much

more unequal society until only a century or two ago? What if she

reminded him of those Sanctuary Districts, and how recent they were

compared to the Great Equal War of Trill? What about the businesses

that acted like insane Ferengi and all but ruled the world until the

Third World War? The dictators of the Post-Atomic Horror? These

humans barely had the scope to know what they once were...

And Miri's discomfort inflamed her more. What would she take over this

system? The labor camps? The hand-to-mouth existence of the

Resistance that she

never had known personally, sheltered by her wealthy father?

And Nedian. How could he throw everything away so casually? He helped

*put* this world in the Federation! Plus, he wasn't even attempting to

keep his affair with Miri much of a secret.

Here she was, sitting with people that wanted anarchy. If they had

their say, it would be chaos for a century or more. They wanted the

Monarchy and the guard to dissolve, and they wanted it all done

immediately, like spoiled children. Didn't they know what kind of

disaster it would cause?

"What do you want us to do for you?" asked Nedian.

Joa handed Nedian a PADD. "The computer virus has corrupted most of

our files and communications lines. I have reversed some of the damage

with the limited computer skills I have, but I am not as good of a

programmer as you are, Commander Jarok."

Verad continued. "What we need is proof. We need to know who is

ordering the bombings, and how widespread this conspiracy is within

the Azure Guard. With any luck, we'll be able to expose them to the

entire planet and tell everyone the truth about what's going on,

instead of the Commission and the Guard keeping information where they

feel it belongs."

Jadzia stood up. "We will expose those responsible for the attacks,

bring them to justice, and do *nothing else!*"

"Jadzia, the Guard is murdering people." shouted Nedian getting to his

feet and getting very close.

"Then we punish the murderers and keep it quiet."

"There's no way to keep it quiet," Kareel chimed in. "Trill is falling

apart."

"Only because terrorists like you are making it!"

"These 'terrorists,' as you call them, are trying to change a system

that hasn't worked for millennia."

"Nedian," Jadzia roared. "Do you realize what you're doing?"

"Yes," he retorted. "Something I should have done one-hundred years

ago!"

"Tear up the Monarchy, Commission, and Guard like some fanatic?!?!"

"Only if our situation calls for it," Kareel tried to yell over the

chaos.

Beverly got to her feet. "Odan!"

So did Julian. "Jadzia!"

Miri got to her feet and forced Nedian and Jadzia apart. "I don't give

a bloody *damn* about the political situation here. Prophets know it's

dicey enough on Bajor!" In disgust, she went back to her seat. "And

you Joined Trills call us 'children.' Look who's squabbling like labor

camp prisoners over a scrap of bread. If the Dominion *were* involved,

I'd *help* them vaporize every bloody centimeter of your worthless

planet!"

Kareel sighed and walked back to Jadzia and Nedian still had eyes

locked angrily on each other. Finally, they sat back down.

"Will you help us?" Kareel asked.

Nedian nodded. "Count me in. I want to get to the bottom of this."

Jadzia opened her mouth to protest, but Nedian's tone was even.

"Sisko put me in charge of the investigation. I plan on investigating

whether or not I have your help. Like I said, this is something I

should have done a century ago, but like a 'Proper Joined,' I followed

the dictates of the Commission." Nedian shook his head. "Because of

my actions, there's blood on my hands - the blood of every person the

Guard has killed in the name of order. It has to stop, one way or

another, it will stop." He stood up and addressed Kareel. "Lead me to

the computer terminals. I'll see what I can do."

Joa rose to her feet. "This way."

Kareel turned to the doctors and Miri. "As for you, we do have some

injured and ill people here. We have two healers, but I'm afraid that

none have your expertise. Our medical sensors are also out. Would you

like to help?"

Miri rose to her feet. "I'd be honored, Senator."

Julian straightened his uniform as he rose. "Lead the way."

She nodded to Verad. "Verad, show them to the Infirmary."

"I'd be happy to, Senator," he said. "Ensign, doctors..."

They walked through the door, leaving Jadzia alone with Kareel.

"So, Jadzia," said Kareel, her voice as even and her manner neutral.

"What do I do with you? Are you willing to help me?"

Jadzia stood straight. "Forget it, Odan," Jadzia said. "I am not

about to destroy my own homeworld for your dreams and ideals."

Kareel shook her head. "Have you none of your own, Jadzia? Or do you

still quote dogma like you did when you were an Initiate? Unlike some

Joined Trills, I am not about to sit back and reap glory while

sheltering myself from anything that might expand my mind past the

narrow confines of Initiate-school dogma."

Jadzia stared her down. "You are nothing more than a demagogue. They

listen to you because you encourage their anger."

"I encourage their *pride,* Dax, and that is different." Kareel

glowered at her. "Look at how they live, look at how much power they

hold for being a majority. Less than twenty seats on the Lower

Parliament - out of almost five hundred seats are filled by Unjoined

politicians. In the Senate, there are only three Senators who are

Unjoined. I think those numbers are a bit lopsided, considering only

one Trill in one hundred are Joined."

Kareel continued. "Our Histories and Legends. The contributions of the

Unjoined are omitted, overlooked in order to continue teaching Trill

children that they should revere the 'Parents of Society.'" Kareel

rose to her feet. "The Unjoined commit suicide in numbers that would

be appalling on any other Federation world because they believe the

Commission and religion that tells them they are inferior."

Kareel sighed. "I don't want chaos anymore than you do, but a system

built on lies is no benefit to anyone, Dax. I've tried to change

things peacefully on the floor of the Senate, and look at what has

happened." She shook her head. "It may be too late and too long for

anything but madness."

"You'll be committing murder, Odan. You're going to be slaughtering

innocent people to further your politics. I am not going to start this

planet falling into riots and chaos. I have a loyalty to my

homeworld."

"Loyalty to Trillian? Or to Monarch Jarmalon?"

Jadzia took a deep breath. "I'm loyal to my duties - both as a

Starfleet officer, and as a Joined Trill. I can't turn my back on the

responsibility that comes with both of them, and being Joined, yes, I

*do* owe a debt to Jarmalon and my people. I can't afford to be

selfish, and I've come too close to that selfishness."

"What about Joran Dax? How he died."

She was amazed. "How do you know about that?"

Kareel shook her head. "The League as many allies, including a friend

or two in the Commission."

Jadzia turned away in shame. "I don't know what good it would be if

people knew," she said. "I can think of a lot of bad things that could

happen."

Kareel paced the floor, thinking. Finally, she spoke.

"Planets are full of these stories. Monarchies and oligarchies

becoming so proud that they keep a majority struggling under their

weight. Over time, the people weary of those burdens. When words don't

work, weapons may be the only recourse. The Azure Guard have bombed

buildings and blamed us. they attacked a ship full of civilians to

prevent me from getting back to Trill. What we need- "

"I want no part of you!" Jadzia shouted, cutting off Kareel's

statement. "Your movement, your plan to destroy this planet... You

were always an idealist, Kareel. This time, though, it will get a lot

of people *killed!*"

"And *you,* Jadzia Dax, are trying to support a system that doesn't

work for anyone so that you can have stability for just a few more

years." Kareel fixed her with a harsh gaze.

"The 'system' has worked quite well for thousands of years! This," she

pointed to the triangle in triangle symbol of the League painted on

one wall. "Will never work. If you are even *able* to do what you're

planning, thousands...*millions* will die. You are talking about civil

war!"

"The civil war has been raging since before the days Odan and Dax were

in Guardian-tended pools. Millions have already died in this war,

including Aylia Tierel. Every day, almost six-thousand people attempt

suicide. An appalling percentage succeed. The number factors into

millions per year if you look around for once. People are dying

because the Commission and the Monarchy have convinced them that they

are worthless. Take Verad. He was a Candidate. He earned top degrees

in computer science and Federation history... and what happens to him

when he is to be Initiated?"

Jadzia bowed her head. "He was declared 'unsuitable.' The Vocational

Guidance center gave him a job as a file clerk."

"A file clerk," said Kareel. "Two degrees, top grades, and he is

tracked into a dead-end job sorting records for the Trill Embassy on

Kafcia IV. On any other world, he could be a historian. His hard work

is rendered useless by one arrogant word."

"His life's dream was to use Trill's past to benefit its present,"

said Jadzia, her eyes clouding with bad memories. "That's why he

wanted to be Joined."

"What if you hadn't been able to re-enter the program, Jadzia?" Kareel

asked.

Jadzia paced the room. "I'd still be a Starfleet officer."

"Most of those passed up by the Commission aren't so lucky. They are

put to work at jobs that they have too much education to do. Their

skills and talents are wasted."

"I will *not* wind up Disgraced or Exiled. I've already come too close

to exiling myself once, but I was talked out of it, fortunately."

Kareel's eyes hardened. "You've always been a little obsessed with

your status, Dax, and what's happened to you must have been

devastating, but have you learned nothing from it? One of your past

Hosts is murdered by the Commission, Verad's memories of

discrimination have been imprinted on you, you have a brush with

Reassociation - and I *know* how strong a pull it is, because I've

experienced it." The blonde woman sighed. "I know about Teldar Sobel.

Rumor has it that you refused your own *j'fall'an* mate and expressed

love for a human... Loyalty won't matter after the Azure Guard catches

you with Doctor Bashir."

"There is *nothing* between us. We know what happened at the

*j'fall'an* ceremony was a mistake. Whatever love was there..." She

choked on her words. "It's of no consequence. I'm Joined. He's only

got one life. It's my duty to teach him... to guide him. He is

limited, and was mistaking his feelings of appreciation and his

physical desire for love."

"Really?" Kareel was far from convinced.

"Kareel, you know... or should know that it's dangerous to take it

any further than friendship and mentoring. A casual, physical liaison

at the most. Humans... they're so beautiful, but they can't understand

what we are."

Kareel was silent for a very long time. "Humans... are beautiful

creatures, Dax. More complicated than they appear." She paced the

room, and sat down. "And, we can't understand them, or worse, choose

no to." Finally sitting on one of the cushions, she looked up at

Jadzia with a smile that seemed out of place on her. "What if I told

you that one of Odan's Hosts was human?"

Jadzia's eyes widened. "A *human* Host?"

Kareel joked weakly. "It's kept in the 'undesirable' file next to

Joran Dax." Looking out into space, she told her story.

"There's a reason why there's a bit of a gap between Luz's records and

mine. Luz died in that shuttle only a few hours after the *Enterprise*

pulled him in. He explained to Doctor Bev-- the chief medical officer

-- that Odan was to be preserved. I... wouldn't have survived, and the

treaty needed to be negotiated. Out of necessity, I was Joined to the

ship's first officer, a human man. It was the most terrifying week I

have ever endured, but I saw the most incredible things in his mind."

Jadzia was alternately fascinated and repulsed by Odan's story. A

*human?* Like Benjamin? Like Julian? Human?

"I saw what their world was like. Beautiful place, Earth. It was so

unplanned, so chaotic, but so incredibly *free.* I could see it as a

human saw it. No restrictions on marriage, no limit to what you could

be, aside from the limits you put on yourself. They are so passionate,

Dax. They feel so freely that they would drive a Betazoid crazy. They

celebrate emotion. They marry out of love, not genetics. They don't

have to go to the government to ask permission to love. They simply

*do.*"

Kareel shook her head. "I came back to Trillian to Declare myself, but

I couldn't stand it. Things I had dismissed as 'normal' were revealed

as discrimination. Prayers to the Joined Gods seemed so devoid of

meaning. The suicides of my friends weren't to be honored, but

mourned."

Kareel stood up, looking down at Jadzia, sitting on the chair. "I

couldn't go back to what I had once believed, and I'm very surprised

that you can."

Jadzia shook her head. "I..."

"I saw the way you looked at him, the way you reached out to comfort

him," Kareel said. "I know what it's like...being in love with a

one-life -"

Jadzia stood up. "I'm not helping you, Odan, and even *if* I have

feelings for Ju -- Doctor Bashir, I wouldn't risk it, or him. I'd be

dragging him down with me, and I don't want that to happen."

She stormed out of the quarters.

Continued...

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

|Richard J. Pugh, MLS | Traveling Eternity Road, |

| RJPugh@ids.net | What will you find there? |

| RJPugh@aol.com | Carrying your heavy load, |

| PUGH.RICHARD@epamail.epa.gov | Searching to find, a peace of mind |

| http://www.ids.net/~rjpugh/ | - The Moody Blues |

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

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From: rjpugh@ids.net (Richard J. Pugh)

Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative

Subject: The First Tile - 13 (PG-13, DS9/TNG/Amagosa)

Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 02:11:25 GMT

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The First Tile

by Jessica M. Krucek and Richard J. Pugh

Chapter 13

Part 8

Old Ghosts and New Hosts

"No fight left or so it seems. I am a man whose dreams have all

deserted. I've changed my fact I've changed my name, but no one wants

you when you lose... Though I saw it all around, never thought that I

would be affected. Thought that we'd be the last to go. It is so

strange the way things turn..."

- Peter Gabriel, "Don't Give Up"

Julian and Beverly had grabbed their medkits and were escorted to the

League's Infirmary. Sure enough, there were six Trills, all Unjoined,

lying on biobeds.

Mareel lowered her phaser rife. "Trangrier flu, I'm afraid. The last

food shipment came from Denora II. They caught it that way."

Beverly looked up. "Some of there are very serious cases. You don't

have medications here?"

"Guard shot down the J'tallak. On that ship was a few tons worth of

food, medical supplies and weapons for the base."

One of the men moaned. "You a doctor?"

Beverly ran over to him while Julian worked on a sleeping woman. "We

both are."

The man squinted. "Human?"

"Yes."

He smiled. "You're the first one I've ever met."

Beverly loaded her hypospray. "I'll give you something to help you

feel better."

"Thank you."

Julian had already finished on the sleeping woman, pumping her full of

antibiotics agents. He ran a tricorder over her. She was not in a

coma, just an extraordinarily sound sleeper. "Well, it's fortunate you

contacted us when you did, Mareel. Some of these people wouldn't have

lasted without treatment."

Mareel smiled gently, and Julian nearly took a step back. She really

was a beautiful woman when he didn't think about their meeting. She

looked over to the broken biobed. Miri had crawled under it, and

using a small toolbox, she was trying to string two wires together,

though a third wire she needed to connect to the other two kept

slipping from her reach. Mareel noticed and ran over to Miri.

"Would an extra pair of hands help?"

Miri nodded. "Thank you, Mareel."

"It's unusual to find a Kafcian this far from her home," said Beverly.

"What brings you to Trill, and the League?"

Mareel held the wire so Miri could connect it.

"I came here with Verad. He worked at the Trill Embassy and I was

working at an accommodation house. He would come in to visit every so

often. We got to know each other... fell in love. I went with him when

he was recalled back to Trill."

Miri slid out from under the bed. "I think the diagnostic sensors are

fixed now. You had a couple of wires that needed replacement." The

Bajoran earnestly studied the Kafcian. "But you lived on Trill? An off

worlder with a Trill? Isn't it illegal?"

"Not really," said Mareel. "Verad's not Joined. The Board really

frowned on me being there, but we weren't doing anything wrong."

Julian muttered. "Until you had the idea of coming to Deep Space

Nine."

Mareel glowered at Julian. "We were desperate. Verad had tried time

and again to get out of being a file clerk and put his degrees to use.

He graduated

Candidacy with a top-level degree in Federation history. When the

Board deemed him unsuitable, they rendered that degree useless. How

would you be, doctor, if you weren't allowed to practice medicine? If

you were reduced to sorting patient records, and had no hope of

promotion? If your life was being wasted, and you were told constantly

that you were mediocre?"

Julian whipped around. "I'd be angry, but I wouldn't kill an innocent

woman by ripping out one of her vital organs."

Mareel spat. "She's not innocent, Julian. She's Joined. She's one of

those who believes in the system only because it worked for her.

Apparently, that hasn't changed."

"And how the hell do you know her so well?" Julian asked.

"I know," said Mareel. "Because I've spent a lot more time on Trill

than you have, doctor. Now, Verad and I can't change the things we

did, but we can

feel sorry about them." She rolled up her sleeve, revealing horrible,

half-healed scars. "The Azure Guard nearly killed us both." She

pulled down her sleeve. "For all it's worth, I regret hurting Jadzia.

After seeing the Guard and all they did to Verad, I know what kind of

hell we put you and Jadzia through. During our imprisonment, I thought

about you almost every day. I'm not asking for your forgiveness,

doctor, but don't think for a second that Verad and I didn't pay for

it."

Julian stared at her for a long moment, then turned back to his work.

Miri bit her lip. "That ought to do it. Now, I've got to go and help

Nedian with the computer system. Excuse me."

She left. Mareel nodded to the doctors and also left.

Julian loading a cartridge of antibiotics and injected it into the

last victim. "That ought to do it."

"Julian?" said Beverly. "I'd like to talk to you somewhere a little

more private. This way."

She motioned for Julian to follow her into a small storeroom in the

back. Normally, a room like this would be full of medications,

hyposprays, medkits, and other medical supplies. However, only a

handful of medkits and medications stocked the almost-bare shelves.

"Now," said Beverly, taking a seat on a shelf. "I'd like to know how

you see this situation. A planetary government, a underground movement

of dissidents. The defense forces bombing civilians and making it look

like the Dominion. This is a Federation world, Julian. Things like

this aren't supposed to happen on a Federation world."

Julian sighed. "Ironic, isn't it? I used to be the one who believed so

strongly that the Federation was the paragon of justice and freedom.

Remember when you gave me that book on Federation history?"

"And you refused to read it. You didn't want to hear about Federation

history from an Orion scholar's perspective. You didn't want to hear

what it had to say about Earth." Beverly was smiling. "All the year I

was there, I couldn't get you to read it."

"I read it eventually. It took me until my last year of medical

school, but I read it," Julian said. "Reread it after one of the top

security officers on DS9 took off for the Maquis."

"It's interesting to see it all from another perspective," said

Beverly. "That's what I was trying to teach you."

Julian shook his head. "You are right, though. Things like this

*aren't* supposed to happen in the Federation."

"Apparently," sighed Beverly. "Things like this *do* happen in the

Federation. I wonder how many other worlds have secrets."

Julian shook his head. "I think every world has one dark secret

somewhere. Almost like people."

"Well, I can see why you warned me about revealing information back in

the palace. With Odan leading of a band of terrorists. I knew so

little about him..."

Julian looked around, and listened. "Do you want to talk about it?

Beverly stared down at her hands. "I wish I could forget those weeks,

Julian. I'm not even sure why I was so insistent on going on this

mission. Maybe to bury that old ghost. I guess part of me wanted Odan

to be dead. It would have made it easier in a way..."

She took in a deep breath. "Odan's previous Host was an Ambassador. He

came to the Enterprise to solve a heated dispute between the two moons

of this one planet. The power source on one moon was damaging the

environment on another. The situation was bad, close to civil war. He

and I worked very closely. We studied the probable health effects,

conducted experiments on plant life to simulate conditions on the

planet. Data and the others did what they could, but we were the ones

who wound up spending the most time together."

"What was he like?"

Beverly closed her eyes, and thought for a moment. "Charming. Very

charming. He saw things in ways I never even considered. He was very

patient, kind... a very skilled negotiator."

"What happened?"

"On the way to negotiations, his shuttle was attacked. The Host, Luz,

was mortally wounded, but Odan was all right. The situation on the

moons grew worse, and I couldn't keep Odan in stasis for long...

Julian, not much was known about Trills. Their Joining was kept a

secret to outsiders the way Vulcans don't like to talk about *ponn

farr.* I did something that seemed to be the only option." She paused,

her shoulders slumping, and shook her head. "Commander Riker

volunteered to Host Odan until Kareel could arrive."

She looked up. Julian's eyes seemed to fill half his face. "Dear

God..."

"I know," said Beverly. "In retrospect, it was probably one of the

worst things we could have done, but it seemed to be the only way.

Everything worked out. Odan solved the dispute, Kareel's Joining was

uneventful. Will recovered and remembered nothing. Everything worked

out, I guess."

He came closer, right next to her, and looked down. To an outside

observer, it looked as if they were studying their shoes. "Except you

lost Odan... someone you loved very much."

She straightened. Before she could ask, Julian spoke.

"I caught the look on your face, and made an educated guess."

"Educated?"

"Beverly, you weren't the only foolish, human doctor to fall

head-first over a Joined Trill. Jadzia and I... well, I still have

feelings for her. Very deep feelings."

"I thought you said..."

"That she and I are apart now? That's the truth, unfortunately. It

still doesn't stop me from thinking about her. Now more than ever."

Beverly touched his shoulder. " I'm sorry."

"Don't be."

"I am afraid, Beverly. I'll admit it." he said. "I've had nightmares

along the same lines of what you went through with Odan. My good sense

tells me that she shouldn't be part of my life."

Beverly sighed. "It was the same way. Having to face Odan in another

Host body, especially Will's. I found myself wishing that I had never

known Odan, never let myself fall in love with him."

Julian shook his head. "A little late on both our accounts."

"Yes, it is. I asked myself a lot of questions and couldn't come up

with answers to any of them. In the end, I realized that I loved the

things that didn't change. I loved who he was."

Julian blinked at her. "Were you... with Odan in Commander Riker?"

Beverly nodded. "I'm not saying that I was completely at ease with the

concept. I never will be, but I can still say that I loved him. Part

of me always will. As for Kareel Odan... Well, I don't know how to see

her and I'm not sure I want to try."

Julian looked up at the ceiling, then back to his boots. "Gods,

Beverly. I wouldn't with that kind of hell on anyone. Not knowing what

to expect, or how to deal with it all. At least with Jadzia, I knew

what I was getting myself into, if only to a small extent."

The redhead smiled, placing a hand on his shoulder. Julian looked up.

"Bet you weren't expecting to fall in love with her."

"To be brutally honest, I wasn't," Julian said. "At first, I was

looking for a quick, meaningless dalliance. By the time it became

more, she and I were very close as friends. I couldn't just have an

affair, then lose her. Unfortunately, that's the way it turned out.

She doesn't want me. It might be best to just let her go."

"Are you sure about that?" Beverly asked. "Losing someone is never

easy, especially if you're still in love with them. In a way, Julian,

you are very lucky to have known Jadzia for so long. I barely knew

Odan in comparison."

"Looks like we have rotten luck when it comes to Trills."

Beverly laughed. "I think you're right."

A pregnant pause followed. Julian closed his eyes and thought for a

long moment before looking up again. "Beverly?"

"What?"

"Do you still... think about Odan sometimes?"

The redhead nodded. "Sometimes, Julian. He may be gone, but I do

treasure those memories. I'm glad I knew him." She touched his

shoulder.

He stood up. "Thank you, Beverly. For everything." He glanced over his

shoulder. "Wesley is very lucky."

Beverly smiled. "Good luck to you."

Julian left without saying more.

Jadzia walked silently through the meandering halls of the League

base, trying not to be noticed. Unfortunately, she wasn't successful.

The looks of scorn and hate she got from others as she passed them

sent chills up her spine.

*Why all the hatred?* she thought. *I have tried to serve my world, do

what I can to keep the lives of these people stable, to keep myself in

balance... why the scorn?*

She was pelted in the stomach with a piece of food. The sauce left a

stain on her uniform. She looked down to see her assailant. A little

girl, no older than ten was in front of her, a terrible frown on her

face.

Jadzia knelt down to eye level. "It's all right. I'm not here to hurt

you."

The girl approached, then scowled, and spit in Jadzia's face.

Backing away, she shouted. "Go away, you slug-gut!"

*Hatred? This young? A child shouldn't understand...*

Then, she recalled how groups of Bajoran children used to crowd around

Garak's shop on the Promenade. Sometimes, adult Bajorans would gather.

They would throw refuse at the show window, deface the door, or just

stand and shout insults at the Cardassian inside. It was a long time

before any of that subsided.

"Why?" she asked. "Why do you hate me?"

"You killed my mother!" she shouted. "Mama wasn't Joined. She and dad

were told to abort my little brother because he wasn't fit to be one

of you."

"Your little brother was probably going to be very sick. Sick so that

he wouldn't grow up like you."

"He was not a sick baby, slug-gut. He was a healthy baby. I helped

take care of him. Commission only wanted him gone because he can't be

a slug-gut like you. The Joined Guard men tried to take us away. Mama

hid us. When the Joineds found her, she disappeared. The Guard

wouldn't let her eat until she told us where Kejan and I were hid."

"What happened?"

"Dad and I got here, but Kejan got found. We heard from Verad that my

mama and brother are dead! It's your fault, Joined lady."

"What about talking to the superiors of the Guardsman? Maybe your

mother isn't dead."

"Guard don't talk to us. We don't matter. We're not 'Parents of

Society.' When have you talked to your mama, Joined? Did you have the

Guard kill her so she won't talk to you?"

"My mother's alive, and she's not Joined. Neither is my sister, or my

father..." Jadzia suddenly realized that she hadn't truly talked to

her parents or her sister since she was Joined. Just a short letter

here, a brief subspace message there... Did she even know them

anymore?

The little girl dug her knife a little deeper. "I know who you are.

Verad told me about you. Pretty Joined lady he hurt. I wish your

Symbiont *died* after that doctor took it from Verad. One less

slug-gut!"

Jadzia rose to her feet and started to stagger away. The girl threw

another piece of debris at her as she walked away. Turning down a dark

hallway, into a dimly lit storage room, she sat on a crate, trying to

collect herself.

"You really must excuse Danya. She lost her mother and brother only a

few weeks ago," said a voice behind her, "But considering what

happened to them, you really can't blame the girl for being so angry."

Jadzia turned around to see Verad quietly walking among the crates,

taking inventory with a small datapadd.

"Are you blaming me for the actions of the Azure Guard, now?"

"No," he said calmly, lowering his PADD so he could look her in the

face. "I'm blaming a society that made the Guard what it is. I'm

blaming the system that Joined Trills like you built for your own

luxury. The Joined are free to rule and assert their power through the

Guard. When the Unjoined assert our power, we are hunted down and

killed like animals."

"Verad..." she started.

"D-Don't you dare 'Verad' me!" he yelled, the old stutter slipping

into his voice.

Jadzia was taken aback. The was not the timid madman who had mutilated

her a few years ago. Maybe he *had* taken something from his brief

union with Dax. Instead of the slightly confused and crazed

expression, his eyes were clear, focused, and very, very angry.

"Don't you remember anything from our last encounter?" he asked. "Dax

has many of my memories now. Have you ever explored them? Do you even

acknowledge the fact that part of me is with you, and will be with you

forever? Can you say that you *really know* what it is like to be a

rejected, Unjoined man? Can you say that you know what it's like to be

shunted off to a mediocre job because of it? Can you even know what's

its like to wake up each day, *knowing* you are a second-class

citizen?"

Jadzia was beginning to squirm nervously. Gods, he frightened her.

Joran she could handle. Joran, she could be comfortable with, but

Verad's memories were not ones she ever wanted to touch. She's have

flashes of his memory, but try to deny his influence as much as

possible, even leaving him out of the *zihan'tara* because of her fear

and loathing to explore that ugly side.

"We are nothing, Dax," Verad continued. "Everything in Trill Society

is built to serve the Joined. Their convenience, their stability,

their comfort and order, in order to better their lives. You can

hardly walk down a street without hearing how one is to 'respect and

serve' the 'Parents of Society,' and how 'unfortunate' it is that you

were never chosen for the Joining," he concluded acidly.

When Jadzia had found her tongue, she tried to speak. "My parents and

sister lead full, productive..."

"Your parents and sister are frustrated and depressed! In fact, I know

for a fact that your cousin Kessa has become a drunk! I'll bet you

didn't know that."

"You're lying! they haven't said a word to me about..."

"Of course not!" Verad spat. "A proper Unjoined is to show reverence

for society's Parents, not to burden them with their problems,

whatever those problems may be." His sarcasm grew by the word. "The

Joined are above petty considerations such as jealousy, envy,

depression... even mental illness."

"Are you saying that Kessa..." Jadzia said softly.

"Bought a bottle of Northern Brandy the day she washed out, and has

had one with her ever since. *You* are the only member of your family

who is seen as something other than mediocre," he said chillingly.

"Simply put, your cousin couldn't handle the verdict."

"But Kessa... Kessa's a poet. I showed Jake her poems..."

"Well, tell your 'Jake' to hold on to those poems. I know, as you do,

that she could have been among Trill's greatest poets, but her talent

will drown in a sea of alcohol. She has her degree in creative

writing. She should be writing, not working as a groundskeeper in

Parsee City Central Park!"

Verad glowered at Jadzia, even more intimating now than he was when he

was backed up by two Klingons and several phaser rifles.

"Did you know that various types of medical conditions related to

intoxicant poisoning, are only second to suicide as a cause of death

among

Unjoined Trills?" Verad asked. "Including overdoses, liver disease,

intestinal disease, kidney failure, lung disease... Kareel showed me

her reports from her days in the civil service. Quite sickening to see

all the ruined lives."

Jadzia hung her head in defeat, then buried her head in her hands.

"Kessa. Oh, Kessa."

"She still writes," Verad continued. "A lot about the pain involved in

being an exile in her own land, about her dependence on the bottle,

and other such introspection. Her works, though, never will be

published so long as the Symbiosis Commission approves all

publication. It's a wonder they haven't already sent the Azure Guard

to put cyanide in her next bottle..."

She bolted out of her seat. "Stop it, Verad! Just stop it!"

"Why?" he responded calmly. "You're Joined. Such things are not to

concern you."

He let his words hang in the air like open wounds, filling the room

with an almost perceptible smell of blood.

Jadzia said, her voice quiet and choked. "It matters... it matters to

me."

"You can say that all you want to me while I'm standing here," he said

quietly. "But can you say it to me when I'm in there?" he pointed to

her abdomen. "I... know that what I did to you was wrong, but I had

no other choice." He added, with a tinge of regret, "And you were not

the last."

Jadzia looked into Verad's eyes, possibly for the first time. She knew

he wasn't lying.

"There have been others who have done what I did, only they were

successful. Over two-hundred recorded instances."

"But why? The Guard... The Commission... They wouldn't stop until the

person is killed."

"The Commission had us killed when they called us unsuitable, Jadzia,"

Verad said. "Honors in Computers and history, and I become a file

clerk. Top honors in creative writing, and your cousin is a

hedge-trimmer. Very few get to escape and live off-world. We live our

whole lives serving our 'Parents,' and breeding children in the hopes

that one of them will become Joined, and they can go back and tell us

that our slavery is a normal, productive life."

Jadzia tried to stay calm, but Verad's words were torture.

"No matter how well they have disguised it over the centuries, the

so-called Constitutional Monarchy of Trill is a well-disguised

dictatorship of the minority. Believe me, I've studied the history to

know what I am saying."

It finally got to Jadzia. She collapsed back on the pile of crates,

sobbing.

"Why are you accusing me of crimes I didn't commit? What did I do to

you? To everyone else?"

"Your crime, Dax," said Verad calmly. "Is being Joined, and knowing

the truth for yourself. Yet, you stand back and allow the status quo

to continue because it allows you your vain existence. Sure, you can

talk all you want about leaving Trill for Starfleet, but you have

every intention of following the Commission to your dying day, and

passing Dax onto another Initiate who is just as brainwashed as Jadzia

was, and it's not that you believe in it either. You are comfortable

with it, and your comfort is all that matters."

Verad delivered the coup de grace.

"And to answer your nagging question, most Trills do not hate you

because you've strayed. We hate you because you are *Joined.* As long

as the current

ways stay in place, that will never change. I can name many Unjoined

Trills on this base alone who would like nothing more than to rip Dax

out, and leave Jadzia's mangled body in the corridor."

Jadzia said nothing, only wept harder.

"Curse you forever, Dax." Verad said quietly. "You have my memories.

You should know better than to hold to the old ways."

"I've been taught... all my lifetimes, I believed..."

"That excuse won't work anymore," he said. "What about Jarok and Odan?

They were indoctrinated the same way you were, yet they choose to part

with those ways. They followed their conscience, rather than the

teachings."

After a lengthy silence, Jadzia looked up, wiping her remaining tears

on her uniform sleeve. Verad sat on a nearby crate, the scholarly

historian emerging again.

"Originally," he said. "The Joined were to be the voice of experience,

not necessarily the rulers. Special privileges were not part of the

honor. Being Joined meant that one would be an 'elder,' sharing that

wisdom to help steer the society with the voice of experience. They

would be like living libraries of culture and knowledge, the symbionts

carrying this knowledge from one generation to the next. The Unjoined

were to be the innovators, their one life giving them an urgency to

build and create. Between them,Trill would prosper, and for a long

time it did."

Verad's smile faded. "Over time, this was corrupted. The Joined

decided that their experiences made them better than the Unjoined, and

that stability was better than growth. Over time, the Joined secured

all the positions of power. Now, while Trill is as technologically

advanced as the rest of the Federation, socially we have not advanced

significantly in the past 1500 years."

"Senator Odan, among other things, wants to return to this original

concept. Joining will continue, but restrictions will be loosened, and

the special privileges will be abolished. Joining will also take

place much later in life, the mid thirties as opposed to the early

twenties, when the Host is mature enough to understand the

responsibility. Restrictions on marriage will be lifted, The

Reassociation Laws will be loosened, and so on. Kareel Odan and Nedian

Jarok are very close to the original concept of what a Joined should

be: guides, teachers, and the voice of experience - trying to better

the lives of everyone."

He rose to his feet and headed for the door, turning to say one last

thing. "They are not like *you,* a complacent, half-awake dreamer who

sits back and reaps the privileges of being Joined. Have you learned

anything, Dax? Will you help your people live, or will you watch them

die?"

As if awaiting an answer, Verad waited. Abruptly, he turned on his

heel and left. Jadzia looked up at the door. It could have been her

minds playing tricks on her, but Verad sounded oddly like Leela Dax

once had: clear, logical, and able to look at the problem from many

angles.

If Leela Dax had been alive today, Jadzia had little doubt that she

would side with Kareel Odan and the League. Somewhere along the line,

just like almost every other Joined Trill, Dax had lost sight of what

was important.

Sitting back down on the rusty crate, she stared off into the darkness

and didn't move for a long time.

Continued...

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

|Richard J. Pugh, MLS | Traveling Eternity Road, |

| RJPugh@ids.net | What will you find there? |

| RJPugh@aol.com | Carrying your heavy load, |

| PUGH.RICHARD@epamail.epa.gov | Searching to find, a peace of mind |

| http://www.ids.net/~rjpugh/ | - The Moody Blues |

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

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From: rjpugh@ids.net (Richard J. Pugh)

Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative

Subject: The First Tile - 14 (PG-13, DS9/TNG/Amagosa)

Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 02:11:33 GMT

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The First Tile

by Jessica M. Krucek and Richard J. Pugh

Chapter 14

Part 9

Judge and Jury in her head...

"I'm listening to the conversation, judge and jury in my head. It's

coloring everything, all we did and said, and still I hear that sharp

toungue talking. Talking tangled words. I can get so scared...Listen

to the Wind..."

- Peter Gabriel "That Voice Again."

Nedian was inspecting one of the computers in another room. There were

a few computers on the blink, after all. They got hit by the Azure

Guard's

hacking much more than the rest of Trill. Very few files were still

retrievable. He'd have to get his gear from the Defiant and hack into

this later.

The door slid open and Julian walked in. Nedian turned around.

"Oh, hi, Julian," he said. "How are you doing?"

The human looked around sadly. "I'm doing all right, I guess. Things

could be better. I just have a lot on my mind."

"I'll bet," Nedian said. "This is a mess. I'll have to bring the gear

from the Defiant to sort the system out."

"In the meantime," asked Julian. "Can I ask you a personal question?"

"Go for it," Nedian said. "I owe you one, after all."

Julian looked away, uncomfortable. "You've known Jadzia for a

long time. I need some advice."

Nedian scowled and patted a nearby chair. "Have a seat, doctor."

Julian sat down uncomfortably. He studied his shoes. "Nedian, why is

she being so... so defensive? So unfeeling? I'd like to think that she

isn't like Sobel, but..."

Nedian sighed. "Truth is, Julian, I think she's scared. She's very

scared of what's happening to Trill, and she's even more scared of

what's happening to her."

Julian furrowed his brow. "I can understand her being scared about

Trill, but I'm not too clear on the other part."

Nedian shook his head. "This may sound arrogant, but there are things

you *won't* understand, because you *are* from Earth, and haven't had

years of indoctrination from the Symbiosis Commission."

Julian nodded. "All right, but try."

Nedian let out a deep breath. "How the hell do I explain this all to

you?" He sighed. "Initiate training's hell, it's humiliating, and one

out of six kill

themselves like Aylia did. Day and night, you're hammered with rules

on how to behave, what the duties of the Joined are. There are

religious services and study...and that's in addition to the

academics. In the end, they say it will make you strong. That you'll

be able to avoid temptation and look out for the good of your

homeworld and the good of your symbiont."

"Sounds like brainwashing to me," Julian blurted out.

Nedian didn't seem insulted, but his voice was bitter and angry.

"Kareel never really believed it, but knew how to keep her mouth shut.

I had a lot of

exposure to what a Joined Trill was really like, seeing as how Jarok's

been in the clan for a long time. I saw how they lived and what

restrictions were placed on them even before entering the Program, so

I knew how to please the supervisors and keep my own ideas hidden." He

sighed. "But Jadzia's always believed what she'd been taught. As an

Initiate, she was very quiet, studied hard, put up with all the

testing with no complaints. She never questioned the way things were

because she always believed it was for the best. What she's doing

right now is completely stupid, but she believes that it is for the

best."

"How could it be for the best? Doesn't she see what's going on?"

"She sees it, all right," Nedian said. "She doesn't want to believe

it. Truth be told, what she wants is to do is accept herself." Nedian

shook his head. "Kareel and I sailed through the program, and part of

that is probably due to our clans. Jadzia was the one who really

*worked* to be Joined. No clan distinctions, no big advantages, a

sister, cousin, and mother who had tried the program and failed and a

father who wasn't even eligible. She had to be the best damn Initiate

in the Program." Nedian looked directly at Julian. "She *earned* the

honor, Julian. Earned it twice over, in fact. Problem is that she

never believes she did, and she's seeing some of the things that

happened to her as proof of that."

"But *why?* What could make her think...?"

"Julian, she's had a brush with Reassociation, right?"

Julian said slowly, "With Dr. Kahn, a former Host's wife..."

Nedian nodded. "There was also the mess with Verad."

Julian swallowed hard. "Yes?"

"What about Joran Balar? Does she talk about him much?"

"No. I can't blame her for being uncomfortable about it, though."

Julian answered.

Nedian sat back in his seat, and studied the human. "I was telling you

about Philos and Xantipar in the throne room. Where did I leave off?"

"Tima Xantipar was Joined... child from first *j'fall'an,* Philos was

the majordomo of her palace, and they became friends..."

Nedian nodded. "Okay. Xantipar was to be *j'fall'an* to a Joined

nobleman, Lihmal. Kele and Tosa sent Moka, one of the Unjoined Gods,

to talk to Philos and tell him to ready the palace for a wedding, but

before it could be carried out, Philos had told her that he loved her,

and she chose the company of her servant rather than the one who would

better their world."

"Oh, dear," said Julian. "I don't suppose the gods were happy."

Nedian continued. "No, they weren't. Kele was enraged that her plan

had been violated. Kele wanted Xantipar to marry Lihmal, so the

bloodline could support symbionts. These Joined rulers would be

responsible for turning the wastelands of the North into farmland."

Nedian shook his head. "Xantipar flat out refused to marry Lihmal,

telling that Joined Goddess that she was going to stay with Philos and

raise a family. Kele tried to talk her out of it, even showing that

and children she had with Philos would never be Joined, and that their

rule would be followed by a dynasty of warlords. Xantipar refused,

saying

that it didn't matter, that the events Kele was showing her took place

long after both Host and Symbiont were dead." Nedian folded his hands

in his lap and took a deep breath before continuing. "Well, Kele

reminded her of her Oaths, and said that Philos was making her

negligent. To make a long story short, the Gods put Philos on trial

for not only disobeying Kele's wishes, but for corrupting Xantipar.

They argued that, because of him, Xantipar was no longer ruling by

Kele's wishes. Tosa judged him guilty, and told him that he was to be

banished to Armak."

"What's that? Trill Hell?"

Nedian sighed. "Close. Really damn close. It's a real spot, Julian.

It's a series of big caves in Pareel province. Really deep, lots of

pits, very cold. Easy to get lost, a lot of people go in and very few

get out. They used to be Symbiont caves, but the symbionts all died in

a plague a few thousand years ago. My theory is that the pools were

tainted with toxic waste, but that's another story."

"Anyway," Nedian continued. "When Xantipar found out, she was

despondent. She neglected her kingdom, and all but ignored her new

husband, although Lihmal adored her. As soon as she was able to, she

ran away from the palace, and made her way to Armak. She went into the

caves and wandered there for days. Eventually, she stumbled into a

cave and found Philos, but it was too late. He'd already died of the

chill."

"Kele had sent him to his death?"

Nedian nodded. "The Legends say that Kele left Xantipar to die of the

chill as well, and Tosa condemned her to cry on the wind forever."

"Loving each other was a crime large enough to warrant that horrible

fate?"

Nedian shook his head. "The Joined Gods are pitiless, and their rules

are clear."

"How can such a harsh faith attract so many followers? I've had my

experiences with some Bajoran religious fanatics, but this..."

"Don't you follow one of the Terran monotheistic faiths?"

Julian shrugged. "Uncle Akmed tried to raise me Moslem, but I'm afraid

I don't practice the faith anymore."

"Doesn't matter the faith," said Nedian. "They're all backward in

their own way. Look at the Bajorans. They are essentially worshipping

energy beings inside a wormhole."

"And they revere my commanding officer as a religious icon, but that

is a whole other story."

Nedian shook his head, and said with a chuckle. "Glad some race didn't

make the same blunder with Busswell. As for Miri, she follows a rather

loose interpretation of the Bajoran faith with a healthy dose of

Terran Buddhism tossed in, and I'm... well, I'm agnostic."

Nedian sighed, his face clouding over. "As for the Trill Legends, they

are not open for discussion, and every Trill - Joined and Unjoined is

conditioned to

obey without question. Maybe that's why I really can't believe in

them. They - if *they* really exist - and the damn Commission, say

that all my concentration, all my energies... hell, my whole life

should be dedicated to acquiring knowledge for future Hosts, for

ruling my people with grace and dignity, for 'enlightening' people

like you and Miri." He got up and started pacing. "I can do some of

it, but not all of it. I'm ready and willing to share what I know with

others, but I can't look at the Unjoined and write them off as

children. I suppose that because I'm not fighting my feelings for

Miri, I'm negligent, but..."

Julian got up and put his hand on the Trill's shoulder. "But all you

can be is Nedian Jarok, and for what it's worth, I respect him."

Nedian smiled. "You're a good man, Julian."

The Trill man sighed. "As for Jadzia, she believes she is corrupt,

evil. She's ashamed of that. She never really learned how to question

what she was taught, and it's driving her crazy." Nedian's face became

grave. "Because of her initial wash-out, she believes she should be

the perfect Host. She also, deep down, probably believes that she

should be dead."

Julian was floored. "Why?"

"When Verad came, you did the symbiont transfer?"

"Yes. The most awful thing I've ever had to do. I don't know what I

would have done if Sisko and the others hadn't stopped him, and I had

lost her." His voice trailed off, unsure what to think of those

memories.

"How much danger was there to Dax when you put it back into Jadzia?"

Julian thought for a moment. "About a 20 percent chance that the

symbiont would be too weak. That both of them would die during the

procedure."

"To the Commission, that's too high a risk. They would have told you

to keep it in Verad and have the Guard kill both. Plus, she opted to

survive with Joran's memories, against the judgment of the Commission.

That's twice that she chose to save herself, even if it meant

corrupting the Symbiont."

"And since the duty of a Joined Trill is to their Symbiont...!"

"Exactly," said Nedian. "And, like Xantipar, she turned away from her

hand-picked mate in order to follow an Unjoined man - and, in her

case, an alien man - on an uncertain path."

Julian felt the blood rush to his face. "Gods... I never knew!

Jadzia... I didn't think she would hate herself, and if I'm causing

some of it... The last thing I *ever* wanted to do was cause her

pain!"

"It's her decision now," said Nedian. "She's already started to

question the Board, against what she perceives to be her better

judgment, but as for both of you... well, only time will tell. It's

hard to love someone if you don't love yourself first."

Julian smiled sadly. "I know. I can remember why I came to DS9. I've

not told a lot of people this, but I'm not really welcome back on

Earth. I don't have anyone there who'll still speak to me, now that

Akmed's left for New Sudan. That first year on the station... Gods, it

was hard. It felt like I had to prove to everyone that I wasn't a

failure, that I wasn't worthless. I'd flaunt my achievements, put on

this front like nothing could touch me. Ironic part is that Jadzia

always saw right through it."

Nedian smiled. "I think it's time to return the favor. In the

meantime, I'm going back to the Defiant."

"I'll go also. The medical supplies here are sorely lacking."

Back in her quarters on the Defiant, Jadzia was brushing her hair

before she went to bed. It was just another ritual she used to do,

something no other Host did.

She put the brush down and stared at her reflection. Who was it behind

those eyes, and did it matter at all?

She put down the brush. For centuries, she had known the answers. Now,

she didn't.

Kele and Tosa hadn't moved from where she put them, and the copper

lamp still flickered and burned. From there, her eyes moved to the

bat'leth stacked in one corner.

Worf. His courting-gift.

She sat back in the chair, staring at the ceiling.

He was the proud warrior, more committed to the ideals of his

homeworld than its realities. She remembered him once, singing a

ballad of Kahless as he

readied himself for morning duty. He called it a reminder of what he

was honor-bound to do.

* "And always honor the Parents of Society. Their eyes are opened on

many generations, many experiences. Your sight is bound by only one

set of experiences to draw from."**

An Initiate's prayer said at the end of Morning Worship. She chuckled

bleakly. Parent of Society? Her? Worf was a brave fighter, and an

honorable man by both Federation and Klingon standards.

What was the song?

*Kahless we are honor-bound

To fight for your name in battle

To conduct ourselves like true, courageous men

To bring home Victory or Honored Death

Is all we pray to thee*

Of course, it lost a lot in translation from Klingon to Federation

Standard.

She got up, and went to the small replicator.

"Black hole."

I'm sorry, but that is not in our database. Please specify chemical

structure.

"Never mind."

She sat back in the small, hard chair. Her shoulders already ached and

her lower back was one huge knot.

Like a cuckold husband still in love with his wife, Worf was still

loyal to his homeworld, even if it was no longer loyal to him. His

emotional control would make an Initiate supervisor envious. He waged

war on his people as a Starfleet officer without seeming to ever think

about the war in him.

Unfortunately, the emotional control was one of the reasons he never

talked to anyone, even her, about life outside of duty. Even their

nights together could hardly be called lovemaking, but physical

release. That's all it ever was. That's all it ever should be. After

all, she was on her eighth life, he only had a first. To let

themselves give in to distractions, to let the emotional controls

down, would only interfere with their duties. Duty as a Klingon to

fight and keep honor, duty as a Joined Trill to mentor and teach the

people who had only one life. Duty to fight in the name of Kahless...

**Teacher a Joined is to Unjoined Student... Tosa and Kele are

teachers and mentors to me, the Joined... As I answer to the Hosts

before me.*

Did it matter who she was or how she lived her life? It mattered to

Worf that he conduct himself like an "honorable" Klingon, even if it

meant his exile, and knowing his world never believed his outworn

ideals. She could remember the promise she made to Monarch Jarmalon.

She swore that she would defend her homeworld and monarch

**"The Truth is the First Light, Loyalty is the Second, Reverence

where due is the Third. Hold to the Lights..."**

Truth. What a word. She had lied to herself so often for so long, she

didn't even know what the truth was.

Nedian was lucky. He'd seen the lie and could back out of it. He was

gloriously happy with Miri, and yes she was jealous and bitter.

*"You can say that all you want to me while I'm standing here," he

said quietly. "But can you say it to me when I'm in there?"*

Verad was right. About everything! Perhaps he remembered more of his

brief Joining than he let on. She certainly had worked so hard to deny

he was part of her.

Why couldn't she make up her minds about what in the hell she wanted

out of life? The proper Joined like Tobin, sheltered and quiet,

teaching and working on theories. Or Emony, the peak of physical

discipline and emotional control? Like Audrid, standing by her

*j'fall'an* husband, working as a judge on the Symbiosis Commission,

protecting the ideals of the Almighty Board, worshipping Kele and

Tosa, and deciding the lives of young men and women "for their own

good?" Having two babies which she gladly handed to the Commission so

one could commit suicide and the other could be Joined to a Symbiont

that she'd never know the name of.

Maybe follow a path closer to Leela's? A political maverick who

brought bold new ideas to the Legislature? Kareel Odan's methods and

speeches were often frighteningly similar to Leela's; had history been

a bit different, Leela might have led the League.

Or draw on Torias? Passionate, courageous, and adventurous enough to

take grave risks to life, limb, and Symbiont for progress? Those

traits earned him praise as an Azure Guard pilot, but those risks

worried his beloved *j'fall'an* bride and little boy, whose worries

came true during a full impulse shuttle test.

Joran had told her during the *zhian'tara* that his strength, his

madness could help her. She'd never have to be afraid. Honestly, she

never really did know whether he wanted her destroyed, or wanted to be

acknowledged as a part of her. She'd try to put it all behind her, all

the memories of Verad and Joran. Joran's expression came out in music

she never played for anyone, just kept hidden, like the memories and

truth Joran had to offer.

What was she? Why did she try to postpone the *zhian'tara?* Why did

she refuse her own *j'fall'an?*

She put down the hairbrush. The door slid open. Jadzia saw him in the

mirror.

"What are you doing here, Julian?"

"I came to talk to you," he said. "To get some things straightened

out... I want to talk about us."

Jadzia stared at him icily. "What do you mean?"

Julian took a deep breath. "I still love you, Jadzia. Even after all

you've done. I've done a lot of thinking about this, and I wanted to

know... if you feel the same way about me." A slight bitterness

entered his voice. "Or if you ever did love me."

She stood up. "You agreed that we should stay apart," Jadzia said.

"YOU DON'T LISTEN, DO YOU?" his sudden explosion of rage surprised

her. "Why do you keep leading me on like this? Do you just need to use

me again?"

She winced, remembering finding him inebriated and miserable. "Julian!

Please! Listen to me. I'm sorry... I really am. I never realized that

I hurt you." She looked into his eyes. "And I never meant to be cruel

to you, or to use you. EVER!" She began to speak rapidly, almost

frightened. "I was a fool not to realize how much you meant to me

before. Don't turn from me now, please." The last sentence was so

quiet, Julian had to strain to hear her.

He blinked, stunned. Jadzia sighed and plopped on the edge of the bed,

head turned away in shame.

"Before I knew humans, I saw love and friendship as just tools. Love

was... hormones or some obligation to fulfill... Friendship was making

allies, acquaintances, using people to gain prestige and knowledge --

patronizing them in the name of educating them." She looked up, blue

eyes blazing. "You've seen how my people relate to each other here.

It's all a matter of putting on a front, obeying someone without

question or talking down to them."

She got up and put her hands on his shoulders. "I used to be that

way... six damn lives, Julian, were wasted because my Joined arrogance

would not let me see that other way. I miss you, Julian. I miss your

voice, your eyes, your smile. I miss our friendship."

"If you haven't noticed, Jadzia, our 'friendship' has been dead for a

long time now. Before this mission, we barely spoke a word to each

other for six solid months."

Jadzia was starting to get irritated. "What the hell do you want from

me, Julian? Do you want a lover?"

His voice was even. "If I wanted someone to keep the sheets warm for

me, I'd still be with Leeta. Don't you see that?" He sighed, and

closed his eyes. "It doesn't matter. I'm looking for someone I can

trust, who I can talk to... share my life with..."

She finally shouted out of sheer anger. "Are you asking me to be your

WIFE?!"

The suggestion threw him. He started to open his mouth, then shut it

again. His brown eyes were reeling. He stopped, then turned around.

Jadzia grinned smugly. What she had done must have been the equivalent

of whacking him in the jaw.

But victory was never complete, or permanent.

Julian closed the gap between them with two carefully measured

strides. Still refusing to touch her, he only met her gaze. His dark

eyes were blazing with pain and determination, but there was something

else there, something she'd seen the night before she almost married

Teldar...

His voice was deathly quiet. "And what if I were?"

She couldn't answer. She didn't have to. Finally allowing her the

privilege of his touch, he gently traced her jaw with the back of his

warm, soft hand, and brought his lips to hers in a thoroughly needy,

passionate kiss. She started to reach out for him, one arm encircling

his waist, the other reaching behind his neck and tangling in the

short hairs at the base of his head. Warm, lithe arms wrapped around

her. It felt like electricity was rushing through her, every nerve

tingling.

Suddenly, he pulled back. "Love me, or leave me, Jadzia." He closed

his eyes and sighed. "The problem with one life is that we usually

don't have time for anything else."

Julian turned and walked out the door.

As soon as he was gone, Jadzia started to shake all over. It was like

when Tobin had nerve damage and his old hands quaked constantly. She

looked down at her own hands. They were shaking like old age.

*And what of me when I am old?* she thought. *What do you want for

yourself, Jadzia Dax? What will you do when you are old?*

She sat down on the hard benches provided for beds, burying her head

in her shaking hands to steady both. She could still *feel* the

imprint of his mouth on her own, and she could remember how it felt to

kiss him again.

*Gods, I'm feeling so empty. It's like Verad tore me apart again...

No, this is worse. At least I knew that I would die shortly unless

they re-Joined me, and at least I wasn't *alone.*

*Julian was there. He was trying to save me. I was too weak and

scared to tell him how impossible it was. Symbiont over Host - that's

the way it should be. Verad had Dax, the best part of myself... I was

to be left behind. Dax might have died if they removed it from Verad.*

She looked up and went into the head. Looking in the mirror, she

touched the cool, flat surface, seeing her own reflection as if it

were the first time after Joining. Her dark blue, hard-set eyes, the

loose black hair tumbling about the blue stripe on the top of her

uniform. Hesitantly, she put her hand to her abdomen and felt the

slight squirming beneath her hand.

*Is what I see worthless?* she thought. *Am I just another vessel for

Dax to learn through? Am I only a pair of eyes for Dax to see with, a

mouth to feed it, and a body for it to know touch?*

Then hand that had been on her belly traveled to her lips, as she

started to remember. The implication of what she thought hit her in a

vast fury.

She stormed to the main room, to the makeshift altar. She scowled as

she saw it. She touched Kele's statue, and beheld the harsh stare she

cast on her.

The Great Joined Queen that set the path the Joined were to follow.

She seemed to glower disapprovingly at Jadzia. *How dare you think of

yourself as a whole person, Young Host? Only a thread in a larger

work, only a thread, only a thread. You aren't whole. Just a body,

just a thread, just a thread, just a thread...*

Jadzia snatched up Kele, and looked to Tosa. He beheld her with eyes

harsher then Kele's. The Judging God. The one who cast Hosts to the

Winds for transgressing. The one whose name was invoked whenever

someone like Julian, an Unjoined who dared to love a Joined, was sent

to the Caves of Armak to die of cold and thirst.

*To Armak with the human... to the Winds with you. May your souls

scream together on Armak's winds... To the caves, to the winds, to the

caves, to the winds... Souls screaming... to the caves with him, to

the winds with you... to the caves, to the winds...*

Both threads jumbled together in an incoherent, condemning mix.

Inwardly, Jadzia was screaming, trying to find release from the

barrage of cruel judging.

*Only a thread... to the winds... only a body... to the caves with

your lover. Host is only a shell... love only hormones and

arrangement... to the caves with the one who loves you... to the winds

with you... only a body, only a human...*

The cabin seemed to be filled with the howling winds of Armak. The

vengeful spirits condemned by Tosa running through her. For an

instant, all she could see was Julian's rotting bones on Armak's cave

floor. All she could hear were the winds.

In the back of her minds, she heard a voice. And elderly woman...

*Is this the way it must be?* Leela asked. *Perhaps the Historian was

right? Perhaps the Senator is doing the best for our people?*

*This path is one of foolishness! It will destroy our society and make

millions suffer!* Audrid protested.

*Yes!* stuttered Tobin. *Leave well enough alone!*

*Well enough?!* Torias asked *When the Guard I served has become a

coalition of butchers? It's better off destroyed!*

*Torias is right. The way of this world *is* unjust! Destroy it!*

Emony shrieked,

"That's fine coming from you.* Curzon mocked. *This path can only

bring about social chaos.*

*Listen to the truth! You know how they live, you know how they

suffer! Listen to my voice instead of blocking it!* Verad shouted.

*The only real answer comes from Jadzia, the weakest of our number,*

mocked Joran. *And she is not strong enough to make a decision of any

kind!*

The winds howled louder, the condemning chant, mixed with eight

arguing voices battled in Jadzia's minds. Screaming over the demonic

mix, she entered a fit of insanity that would have make Joran pale

with fright.

Jadzia hurled the porcelain idols against the bulkhead.

"****NO!!!!!!****" she screamed.

Kele hit the wall and shattered, the pieces scattering on the bed.

Tosa rebounded, then fell to the floor. His body and one arm landed at

Jadzia's feet. His head rolled into the darkness under her bed.

Instantly, Jadzia collapsed to her knees and screamed uncontrollably

until her voice was hoarse, as if releasing nine lifetimes' worth of

pent-up fury. The eight voices in her mind became silent. Only her

voice - *Jadzia's* voice - could be heard.

*Enough of you,* she told them. *The responsibility, and the

consequences, belong to me, and me alone. I will do what has to be

done. By doing nothing when you had a chance, YOU have harmed Trill

more than I could ever have done!*

The voices went silent. Strangely, she felt no remorse, only relief.

She picked up the pieces casually, and caught a glimpse out the

window.

The bluish green jewel of Trillian shimmered beneath her, but the

jewel lost its luster.

She dumped the idols in a trash reclaimator. They'd helped for

lifetimes, but she'd have no more need of them.

She sat on the bunk, curled in on herself, and started to weep again.

There were not tears of rage or pain, though, but of relief. In one

swift moment, she had left behind her way of life, probably forever.

The constant turmoil that she had been fighting for so long was

finally gone. She felt exhausted, drawn, and battered. Yet, for the

first time in her entire lifetime as Jadzia, she felt whole.

Continued...

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

|Richard J. Pugh, MLS | Traveling Eternity Road, |

| RJPugh@ids.net | What will you find there? |

| RJPugh@aol.com | Carrying your heavy load, |

| PUGH.RICHARD@epamail.epa.gov | Searching to find, a peace of mind |

| http://www.ids.net/~rjpugh/ | - The Moody Blues |

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

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From: rjpugh@ids.net (Richard J. Pugh)

Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative

Subject: The First Tile - 15 (PG-13, DS9/TNG/Amagosa)

Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 02:11:48 GMT

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The First Tile

by Jessica M. Krucek and Richard J. Pugh

Chapter 15

Part 10

Digging in the Dirt

"This time you've gone too far... I told you... Don't talk back...

Shut your mouth. I know what you are. Don't say nothing... Don't turn

around. This is for real!"

- Peter Gabriel "Digging in the Dirt."

She stormed into the computer lab. Nedian was sorting a crate of

computer equipment.

He looked up. "Why are you here?"

Her voice was shaky. "Nedian, I want to help you."

"Sudden change of attitude, isn't it?" he said, sarcastically. "Just a

minute ago, *Dax*, you wanted to protect your homeworld at all costs."

She sighed. "Jarok, I don't have time for this."

"That's your damn problem, Jadzia. You don't ever listen, not even to

yourself. Then, you go crying to people like Julian and me when you

get yourself in a bind.

"I listened," she said. "But I listened to the things I shouldn't

have, or heard the things I wanted to hear. Look, Nedian, do you want

my help or not?"

"Are you sure you want to go in there with me?" Nedian asked. "What if

we find something you aren't ready to hear?"

"Then I'll deal with it," Jadzia answered. "I just want to stop

feeling so uncertain. The truth first. Everything else second."

"Is this Parent Dax talking?"

"It's *me* talking."

Nedian paused for a moment, thought, then gestured to the box. "I

brought up an extra pair of interface gear. Put it on. It'll be a long

night,"

Jadzia nodded and picked up the second helmet and glove while Nedian

secured his own helmet. "I must admit that this interface gear of

yours is rather strange."

"It's the most effective way to get around a large data network like

the Azure Guard's," Nedian said.

"The Guard?"

"You heard me. You still want to go with me?"

Jadzia secured her helmet. "I'm ready to go with you. I *need* to know

the truth."

"Okay," said Nedian. "The last thing you want to do is start tripping

security systems, and the direct neural interface is the best way to

avoid them."

She felt like some kind of Borg. The helmet's eyepiece covered her own

eyes, feeding the data stream directly to her retina. Truly strange

things Nedian worked with.

"Ready when you are," she said.

"Just let me open the system," Nedian said quietly. "Let's see whether

Joa's code will give us a way in..."

He scanned the Azure Guard sub-net, looking for an opening. Doing so

would alert someone, somewhere. After a few moments, he settled on

one of the standard communication ports. One of them was open.

"Dabo," said Nedian. "That's where we want."

He explained. "What we can do is enter the system while its accepting

data from the rest of the network. We'll have to move fast, or we'll

get our feet caught in the door."

"How much time do we have?" Jadzia asked.

"Three nanoseconds," Nedian answered. "We should have time."

Jadzia was flabbergasted.

"Now you know why we're using these direct neural input helmets,"

Nedian explained. "It's the only interface that can move as fast as a

computer."

Jadzia shrugged. This was going to be fun...

They turned on their interface gear and quickly entered the network.

Information was zipping back and forth at an alarming rate. Blue and

green grids surrounded them like blank holodeck walls.

Jadzia was amazed. Nedian had done this many times before, but for

Jadzia this was very strange. To work with a computer was one thing,

but to actually be inside it, and to almost be part of it, was totally

new. Now she really felt like some kind of Borg.

"Jaz, stop daydreaming. This place is full of security traps," Nedian

said. To her, he looked like a red, featureless male figure. He

reminded her somewhat of Odo when his features were blurred. To

Nedian, Jadzia looked like a blue, featureless female figure.

"Welcome to cyberspace," he said.

"I though that term went out of use three hundred years ago." Jadzia

commented.

"It did, but I still like using it. But let's get moving before we're

noticed."

They quickly entered the Azure Guard computer system while the port

was accepting a routine news feed packet. The "road maps" on their

viewscreens didn't look any different than any other computer system,

but the place still seemed rather sinister.

"We're in," said Nedian. "Time to get what we're after."

"What are you going for first?" Jadzia asked.

"Any information related to Odan," Nedian answered. "There should be

a database in here of all currently living Joined Trills."

Jadzia saw a Yunnuth whiz by. "I think I see it, this way."

Nedian captured it as it passed him. It grew, engulfing he and Jadzia

within.

Text flashed onto their retinas.

** Operation Yunnuth - Top Secret. Clearance Level Eight or higher.

Mission Commander: Monarch Kelfor Jarmalon.**

"Something tells me that we shouldn't be here," Jadzia said.

"Right," said Nedian.

"All the more reason to investigate."

Underneath the red blob, Nedian was grinning. "You're learning, Jaz."

**It has come to the attention that Senator Kareel Odan and the League

are meaning to disseminate information and a form of public policy

disruptive to the tenants of Trill Society and to the Royal Charter.

Her popularity poses a danger. We must not only silence her, but

silence her supporters as well...**

Nedian couldn't believe what he was reading. "That bastard... that

lowlife..."

Jadzia found a small yellow ball of data. Crew manifest, *TMS

J'Tallak.*

"Nedian..."

He looked around. "There'll be a security robot here anytime now. Come

on. We'll download these to the Defiant's computer and go on."

Jadzia nodded. The Yunnuth shrunk to its original size. Nedian pulled

apart until there were two equal-sized Yunnuths. He pushed it into his

virtual "chest."

"Download in progress." shouted Nedian. "Let's go!"

They entered the Joined Trill database, and found Kareel Odan's

records in no time.

In the Azure Guard computer center, an indicator light flashed.

Someone was doing a standard search and retrieval. The attendant

looked over for a

second, then went back to what he was doing, giving it no further

though. Such activity was very common, and nothing to be concerned

with.

Nedian noticed a system monitor.

"We should move quickly," he said. "There is a global surveillance

system in place, so someone will notice us if we overstay our

welcome."

"I've got Kareel's files... those bastards."

"What?"

"Look at this notation. It would have taken a level Ten security

clearance to get in." Jadzia was clearly quite angry. "The official

story says 'unknown,' but the real story reads. 'termination by order

of Monarch Jarmalon...'"

"I know, Jaz."

Nedian found something else of interest. "Jaz, I've got your file...

You might not want to know what it says."

"No. Not yet." she groaned. "We should upload it, though, as well as

Kareel's file. This is looking uglier by the minute."

She looked around. A huge data file, the size of a beach ball hit her.

She looked on it.

"Nedian, I think you should see this."

He turned around.

"It's the top secret database... for the Tierel clan. You're in here.

So's Aylia."

"Tosa's winds..." muttered Nedian. "Send that, too."

Jadzia and Nedian pushed the files into their virtual selves,

downloading it to the Defiant's computer banks.

In the computer room of the Azure Guard, an indicator flashed, reading

"Download in Process." The attendant looked over...

"They certainly noticed that," Nedian said. "We've got to move."

Nedian paused for only a moment before he gathered the files together

and shunted them into the Defiant's computer, while Jadzia hastily

gathered information on other suspicious activities where the

Commission was suspected. The computer system was starting to shut

down. Apparently the security programs were doing their work.

They ran towards the communications port they entered from, only to

find it closed. Data cascaded around them, and Jadzia looked back.

Several

nasty, blue cubes, like Borg ships, were headed straight for them.

"Nedian!" Jadzia shrieked, "They've found us!"

"Damn!" shouted Nedian. "Security programs. If we get caught with the

neural interface, we'll die of neural shock!"

Jadzia and Nedian tried to dash to any open communications port,

starting with the way they came in.

"Closed! Damn!"

"Come on, Ned, this way."

The cubes were closing in, looking even more and more like Borg Ships.

Nedian was right on Jadzia's heels.

"As I recall," she puffed. "I beat you in the hail."

"That you did," he puffed.

Jadzia looked over to the next communications part.. "Nedian! I found

one. It's closing!"

They almost reached it when Nedian stopped, the cubed meters away and

closing in. He seemed to be creating green spheres of his own and

throwing them into the network." Turning to Jadzia, he pulled the data

packet out of his "chest " and extended it to her. "Take it and run!"

"I'm not about to..."

"No chance!"

Jadzia reached out like she was about to grab the packet, but instead,

pulled Nedian away, and started running, nanoseconds before the

security program would have reached them.

They dashed over to com line, blue cubes in hot pursuit. They fought

the whirlwind of data entering through their only escape route. Jadzia

reached it first. She reached out her hand.

Just as a blue cube was microns away, Jadzia grabbed Nedian's virtual

hand and pulled him through the conduit just as it sealed behind them.

Nedian and Jadzia literally tore off the helmets and gloves off the

helmets and gloves, and just slumped against the wall, panting and

flushed.

Nedian looked up at Jadzia.

"Never... knew you had... had it in you," he said in between gasps.

"Never knew I had it in me either," Jadzia panted.

"You do realize what the hell we just did?" he said.

Jadzia grinned. "I think we made the Azure Guard angry."

"You're damn right we did. We're as good as pit slugs now." He looked

up at her, all humor gone. "There's no way in hell we'll be able to go

back."

Jadzia looked down. "Does that bother you?"

Nedian hesitated for a moment, and pulled down the sleeve of his

uniform, revealing the leather and emerald bracelet around his wrist.

"Not really," he answered. "I traded my homeworld for a pledge

bracelet, remember?"

She smiled wryly. "You probably got the better deal. Come on, let's

look at those files."

"Where are they?" she asked.

Nedian gestured to the terminal. "Home port."

She rose and walked over, punching up the Tierel clan database. In no

time, she found Nedian's file. The size alone was amazing.

*I knew the Guard were good spies and record keepers, but I only

thought that organizations like the Tal'Shiar or the Obsidian Order

did things like this!*

She hit on a section in particular. Commission Findings and

Recommendations

"Ned, I think you should see this," Jadzia said.

Nedian rose from the floor and started to look into the file.

Reluctantly he looked at the attachments.

There were numerous citations of "inappropriate behavior," most

prominently his personal involvement with a Bajoran.

Recommendation: It is in the opinion of the Commission that Tie Miri

Astrea of Bajor is a danger to the stability of the Jarok Symbiont. It

is

imperative that Nedian Jarok be brought back to Trill to undergo

observation and rehabilitation.

"Imprisonment and brainwashing more like it," Nedian growled.

Furthermore, arrangements must be made with Azure Guard contacts in

Starfleet to eliminate the threat that Tie presents to the mental

health of the Jarok Symbiont. Recommendation: Termination made to look

like a suicide or engineering accident.

"They were going to kill Miri..." Nedian fumed... He could handle the

idea of being banished for his involvement with her. That wasn't want

the Guard had in mind. They planned to *kill* the woman he loved,

then bring him back to Trillian by force, their only crime being that

she wasn't a Joined Trill.

Second Recommendation: Taking samples of DNA from the Federation

database, the Commission concludes that the chances of Bajoran/Trill

offspring able to support a Symbiont is less then 20% This may be used

later as a way of liberating the Jarok Symbiont from the Torvigan

Clause.

"Or," said Jadzia, "Let her live and make sure that no Tierel would be

able to support a Symbiont."

"Look at your file, Jaz," Nedian said. "I want to see if it's as bad

as mine looks."

She swallowed hard. Did she really WANT to know? This was about as bad

as facing Curzon. What if it said a few things she didn't want to

hear?

She shrugged it off. She HAD to know, otherwise she could be in

terrible danger.

"Go on, Ned. Read it off."

Nedian browsed the information. "Numerous citations for "inappropriate

behavior. Reported by..." Nedian's voice was furious. "Arjin! His

internship was as an informant and pilot for the Guard! Small wonder

he rose the ranks so quickly."

She snapped. "We'll deal with Arjin later."

Nedian read off the list of demerits attached to the file. "Gross

Negligence of Symbiont health on stardates 47234.5 and 48242.1"

"Verad and Joran. The Board recommended that I sacrifice myself to

allow another memory block."

"Glad you didn't. Look at this! "Breach of Fourth Joining Oath during

the observation period. Looks like Arjin caught you playing Tongo."

Jadzia cringed. The Fourth Oath. *I will act as teacher to those

around me without giving in to my own, lesser emotions. I will hold a

general concern for all and specific concern for none.*

Nedian continued. "A brush with Reassociation... refusing the

*J'fall'an* oath... personal involvement with a human...Do you want me

to continue?"

"What's the recommendation?" she asked.

Recommendation: Arrangements be made with Starfleet to have Jadzia

Dax brought back to Trill for observation and mental correction.

"Oh, shit," said Nedian. "There's a separate file here for Julian."

"What?!" said Jadzia.

She looked. "Oh, Gods..." Her voice became deathly quiet. "They have

everything... birthdate... travels with his father... information on

his

uncle, Akmed... academy records. Why?"

She scrolled down the extensive maze of data, more and more shocked.

"Where did they learn how to spy on people like this?! The Obsidian

Order?"

Careful observation needed. Level Five danger.

"Level Five?" Nedian shook his head. "Half the LEAGUE hasn't angered

them that much."

Performed illegal Symbiont Transfer. Stardate 47234.5.

"He was forced to do that." Jadzia said, appalled. "Verad threatened

to kill everyone if he didn't..."

She read on, horrified eyes fixed to the screen.

He and Commander Benjamin Sisko carry unauthorized information

pertaining to the Dax Symbiont. Blackmail of the Symbiosis Commission

with the Joran Host information...

Jadzia couldn't stop reading. It was true. All of this was too true.

Corruption of a Joined. Stardate 49177.5 Teldar Sobel's testimony

included an account of Dr. Bashir's disruption of the *j'fall'an*

ceremony.

Recommendation: In the opinion of the Commission, Doctor Julian

Bashir is a threat to the peace and stability of the Homeworld. It is

advisable

that once the Guard has brought Jadzia Dax back to Trill, they

terminate Dr. Bashir by any method that would not arouse suspicion.

"Fortunately," said Nedian, "They don't have anything on Dr. Crusher

or Worf -- except a warning to the Guard to observe."

One notation at the bottom of both Nedian's and Jadzia's files read.

If the Commission fails to Rehabilitate...then by order of Monarch

Jarmalon, the corrupted Symbiont will be removed from the Host so that

a neural autopsy can be performed on the Symbiont. The files then will

be sealed...

Death by Separation.

"Ned," Jadzia paled in fear, anger and shock, looking at some other

files. "They have surveillance orders on every member of our families,

and Kareel's, with authorization to kill if we don't cooperate with

rehabilitation. They've already had members of Kareel's family

assassinated..."

She stopped.

Nedian was looking over the Guard's record of the Tierel clan. He

intently stared at one record. Classified by order of Monarch

Jarmalon.

Aylia Tierel.

Report: The official cause of death poisoning by self-ingested

cyanide.

Nedian examined the record and found that parts of it had been

modified, after her death. He found a security code, easily broken,

linking some other documents, including the originals.

According to her academic records, Aylia Tierel would have

passed the Symbiosis Board without any trouble.

Termination from the Program due to Afton Law.

*Afton Law...That's part of the Reassociation Laws! But Aylia wasn't

Joined...* It dawned on him. *But I am, and if I died, Jarok would

probably go to her...*

Termination by cyanide poisoning. Ingestion of slow poison capsule

during evening meal. Discovery next morning by Initiate

Supervisor...

Nedian scrolled to the bottom.

Termination order by Monarch Jarmalon.

Nedian stood still for several seconds, stunned by the news. His teeth

started to grind, and his hands clenched into fists. From underneath

his spots, the veins in his head stated to stand out. His face was

flushed, and his breathing uneven.

He exploded. "That BASTARD! "That BLACKGUARD! I'll have that

pit-slug's throat!"

He started to curse in Romulan, all the Tal'Shiar torture techniques

he had heard about so long ago were starting to come back to him in

full detail. He wanted to use every single one on Jarmalon...

"Nedian?"

"This was all a plan..." Nedian mumbled. "The Dominion plot was to

stop Kareel and the League...It would also get us to Trill so we could

be 'reformed.' Also, it would get Julian and Miri out of the way,

maybe snare Dr. Crusher for bait if they were lucky..."

"Jarmalon wants to keep his rule and the old ways at all costs. And

if all costs means killing innocent people..." Jadzia looked around.

"He'll do it, even if it means silencing the general public."

Nedian sighed. "Can't believe I helped to put us in the Federation.

Come on. We need to tell this to Kareel."

They hailed the League base. Kareel answered. "Yes?"

"Kareel, we found some bad news."

Minutes later, an old shuttlecraft docked in the Defiant's shuttlebay.

Shortly after that, Kareel Odan, Joa, and Verad joined Nedian, Jadzia,

Miri, Julian, and Beverly in the Defiant's briefing room.

Nedian and Jadzia solemnly took turns describing the things they saw

and recovered from the central database, allowing the League officers

to also see the additional evidence they had implicating the Azure

Guard. Beverly had to excuse herself for air at one point. Miri shook

her head in disgust, while Julian only crossed his arms and leaned

back in his seat, seemingly unsurprised by this latest find. Verad was

equally impassive. Joa frowned, as if in deep contemplation. Kareel

Odan's face turned as flush as her red jumpsuit.

"Well, Verad," she said, as calmly as Luz would have tried to be. "We

wanted proof, and now we have it."

"But this?" asked Verad quietly. "It is worse than we ever thought,

and I didn't believe that was possible."

""What a nasty little mess you people have made," grumbled Julian, the

human still keeping his arms crossed and his face an uncharacteristic

scowl.

"A mess I have every intention of trying to repair, Doctor," Kareel

said. Regaining her composure, Kareel rose from her seat and started

to pace the room, deep in thought.

"We need to inform the general populace," she finally said. "Let them

know what is going on."

"We can send Mareel ahead," Verad offered. "And she can inform the

rest of the League cells of the information we have uncovered. That

way, the can start spreading the information among the underground."

"Yes," said Kareel. "And also have her contact our sympathizers in the

Parliament. They can contact the League cells in rural areas..."

"Excuse me," said Jadzia. "But if you're considering an organized,

armed revolt..."

"That would be suicide," said Verad. "The Azure Guard is much better

equipped, and much larger."

"I'm thinking of making a public appearance in Parsee City agora,"

Kareel said. "Most of Trillian thinks that I'm dead, and it's time to

prove those rumors to be exaggerations."

"Odan," said Beverly. "That's dangerous. If the Azure Guard..."

"It is all right, Beverly. I know the risk, and I am prepared to take

it."

"You suddenly showing up, alive, is going to raise a lot of eyebrows,"

Beverly said.

Kareel smiled devilishly. "Oh, I hope it will."

"Senator," Julian interjected. "With all due respect, the Guard,

Commission, *and* Jarmalon have labeled you a traitor. Dead or alive,

your words won't mean anything unless there is evidence to back them

up."

"He is correct," Joa said, the old Guardian nodding with approval. "We

need a catalyst, something to alert the general population as to what

is really happening. Unless knowledge of the Guard's actions are

widespread, we will have very little support."

"We will also have to make the League's literature widely available,"

added Verad. "Between those two things, we can have the entire

population of Trill talking."

"I can take care of both things," said Nedian, hooking his datapadd to

the Defiant's main computer and typing away like a maniac.

"Verad," Kareel asked. "How soon can Mareel get to Parsee and contact

Senator Karez?"

"Mareel can leave within the hour," Verad answered. "I'll contact

Karez, and let him know that we are coming."

"Who is Senator Karez?" asked Miri.

"Colleague of mine. He's the first Host for his Symbiont, and his Host

isn't even very old. He's young enough to accept change, and became

sympathetic to the League when I was still serving on the Senate."

Kareel said.

"With his help," Verad said. "Mareel and several others can reach

Parsee in safety."

"Have Karez ready the agora," said Kareel. "I'll make the public

appearance there, and lay everything bare."

Nedian was still typing away like mad on the datapadd, the screen

shifting its display at an alarming rate.

"Nedian," asked Miri. "What in the name of the Celestial Temple are

you doing?"

Nedian didn't answered right away, only flashed an evil smile to Miri

and pressed a few more buttons on the PADD.

The Defiant's computer answered for him.

Automated data transfer in progress. the computer announced.

"I just sent a data robot into the computer grid. It contains clean

copies of League literature, mostly ones from the more conservative

thinkers."

"Good," said Kareel. "Those works would persuade the most people, and

not frighten them with radical ideas right away."

"In roughly an hour, the data will implant itself into every major

computer data repository on the planet."

"What about the security programs?" asked Joa.

Nedian took a deep breath. "Just wait." He looked up. "Computer,

visual schematic of the Trill information network."

The viewer changed into a display not quite unlike a road map. It

looked unremarkable in most ways, but upon close examination, Jadzia

could see several tiny versions of the Azure Guard symbol traveling

among the picture.

Without warning, the symbols began to vanish until red and blue lines

were revealed. Then, the red lines began to vanish as well, leaving

only a bright blue grid.

"What on the Wind...?" Jadzia asked.

"I just blew up a land mine I planted while I was repairing the

network," Nedian said matter-of-factly.

Jadzia was confused.

"I left behind a program - an virus designed to blow up the Azure

Guard encryption patterns. That's why the security programs almost got

me," he said. "In about thirty seconds, every security system on every

government computer system is going to be destroyed by a high speed

computer virus," he said with a cynical edge. "About three minutes

after that, all of the information we just unlocked, and the League

Manifesto, are going to appear on every information terminal on the

planet."

Jadzia scowled. "All hell is going to break loose," she said.

"I know," Nedian answered softly. "Furthermore, I've set things up so

that not only are the active copies are destroyed, but the backups,

and the computer codes themselves are destroyed, down to the last

bit."

Miri whistled. "Prophets Bless, they'll have to start from the ground

up."

"By then," Nedian said, "It will be too late. They won't be able to

censor this in time."

"Well, then," said Jadzia. "The first thing we need to do is to

approach Trillian under cloak. After Nedian's little stunt, the Guard

will be going crazy."

"Once we're in orbit," said Verad, "I'll send Mareel to Senator Karez,

and start making arrangements with the League members in the city.

We'll set up disguised guards in the agora, just in case the Guard

attempts anything."

"I had better go with you, Verad," said Julian, "And load up the

shuttle with medical supplies. If things get ugly down there, we'll

need medical equipment available and ready. I want to prepare for such

a need."

Julian looked over to Jadzia, who nodded slowly.

"Odan is still unable to use a transporter," said Kareel. "I'll have

to take a shuttle."

Beverly cringed.

"Nedian," Jadzia said. "I want you to pilot Joa, Dr. Crusher, and the

Senator. I'll keep the Defiant cloaked and make her battle-ready,

should you need cover. I'll have Miri maintain a sensor lock on all of

you.

The room was silent for a long moment, as if no one could believe that

it had come.

"Then," said Kareel, breaking the silence. "It is done. Excuse me. Joa

and I have a speech to write."

Kareel and Joa got up from the chair and walked out the door.

A few minutes later, several League guerrillas, including Mareel, were

safely aboard. the small ship cloaked and headed for Trillian.

Continued...

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

|Richard J. Pugh, MLS | Traveling Eternity Road, |

| RJPugh@ids.net | What will you find there? |

| RJPugh@aol.com | Carrying your heavy load, |

| PUGH.RICHARD@epamail.epa.gov | Searching to find, a peace of mind |

| http://www.ids.net/~rjpugh/ | - The Moody Blues |

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

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From: rjpugh@ids.net (Richard J. Pugh)

Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative

Subject: The First Tile - 16 (PG-13, DS9/TNG/Amagosa)

Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 02:11:56 GMT

Organization: Posted via CAIS Internet info@cais.com

Lines: 593

Message-ID: 4s1o53$891@news2.cais.com

NNTP-Posting-Host: va169.idsonline.com

X-Newsreader: Forte Free Agent 1.0.82

The First Tile

by Jessica M. Krucek and Richard J. Pugh

Chapter 16

Part Eleven

How the Mighty Tiles Fall...

This miserable state is borne by the wretched souls of those who lived

without disgrace and without praise.

- Dante Alighieri

Monarch Jarmalon paced his throne room. "What do you mean the

Communications Services are broadcasting the League's statement?"

Arjin Lesal stood at attention. "Sir, the League's manifesto and much

of the evidence used to support their claims are popping up on the

communications network. These papers include the works of Horval

Michet, Jeica Ruek, Teldar Sobel, and Richa Jugh."

The monarch paced the room. "How can this happen?" He demanded to

know.

"The security net has been destroyed," Arjin answered. "We can't bring

them back up, even if we wanted to."

"Why? Who could have done this?" Jarmalon was shocked.

Arjin hesitated. "My Lord, the saboteur is none other than Nedian

Jarok."

"Jarok?" he answered. "Are you certain?"

"I'm afraid so. He even left a personal greeting for us when we tried

to reboot the archived backups."

Jarmalon seethed under his carefully controlled exterior. Nedian Jarok

knew the Trill information network better than any Trill alive. He

knew exactly what to program and where. Even the Azure Guard's top

expert, Captain Tylee, was no match for him.

The monarch paced. "Don't those irresponsible children know what they

will do? Chaos, destruction, the death of thousands. They want change

at the price of lifetimes of peace." He shook his head. "Unless I stop

them, they will destroy everything. It will be the Disaster all over

again."

He looked up. "Lesal, flood Parsee city with Guards. If the League

wants to bring death to Trill, they'll do it here."

Arjin bowed his head. "If I may report one more thing, Monarch?"

"Is it good news?"

"I'm afraid not. The Federation Senate heard Captain Sisko's testimony

last night. He made some damning allegations towards you, Monarch. He

told them that you lied about the Dominion. I don't know how, but his

officers and he must have contacted the League." Arjin bowed his head.

"Finally, I am to report that Kareel Odan is still alive, and is now

making her way back to Trillian."

"How?" Jarmalon was shocked.

"I have no idea. I made sure there were no lifesigns after we

destroyed the *J'Tallak.* No survivors should have made it."

The monarch paced the room. "Lesal, do you know how many lives I have

served as Monarch?"

"No, sir. I'm afraid I don't remember. History was never my best

subjects."

Jarmalon smiled. "Kelfor Jarmalon is the eleventh Host. I took the

throne as Xial Jarmalon -- my third Host."

"Eight lifetimes as Monarch. Quite an honor."

"The Symbiosis Commission tells me that this will be my final life.

Jarmalon is too old to survive another transfer. Soon, I'll have to

hand the throne to Kalidon, and I do not want to leave my son a

wasteland."

Arjin bowed his head. "I will do my best not to disappoint you,

Monarch."

Jarmalon smiled gently. "Please, Lesal. Don't do this for me. Do this

for all of Trill. Do this for every citizen of this planet, Joined and

Unjoined. They need the Azure Guard more than I do. Now, go. Before it

is too late."

Arjin bowed his head and left

Jarmalon walked to the balcony of one of the palace spires, and looked

out over Parsee, the city he loved, the society he served as a ruler

in one form or another for almost six hundred years.

Ramak Jarok... he could remember sending him and two assistants to

negotiate with the team of Federation diplomats regarding Trill's

entry to the United Federation of Planets. Now, several Hosts later,

the same Trill was planing to destroy what he had spent a lifetime to

build.

Senator Leela Dax was also a thinker and a doer, albeit a maverick on

the floor of the Legislature. She helped to put many more to work in

the Vocational programs at a time when Parsee was facing dire

unemployment and social unrest. She helped to build the civil service

of Trill... and Torias Dax, who earned the copper seal of the Monarch

for his bravery in piloting shuttles and in flying the routes and

conditions no other pilot would take.

And Odan...for so many lifetimes of service. Uri, the engineer who

built Parsee's still-functioning aqueduct, Kaylon, the fire-tempered

captain of the Royal Guard, Kaylon's niece, Semorli, one of the most

effective diplomats Trill had ever known, helping the Federation end a

bitter war with the Tholians. Her son, Luz the Elder, and grandson,

Luz the Younger, also spending lifetimes serving Trill with their

negotiation skill. Now, Kareel, granddaughter of Semorli, was the

driving force behind the greatest threat Trill had known since the

Great Disaster.

He heard a voice behind him. "My Lord?"

Jarmalon turned around. Hurek stood in the doorway behind him. The

grizzled, old general was obviously keeping his anger in check.

"My Lord," he said. "Why? Why was I never told of what you were

actually doing? Why have you mobilized the Guard and not asked for my

advice? Why have you authorized people killed by my men? What kind of

monster are you. If I had known, I..."

"If you had known, Hurek," Jarmalon said tersely. "You would have

joined the ranks of those who I ordered dead. As for why I have done

these things, I do them in the name of maintaining our society's

order."

Hurek grew very furious. "To protect your accursed crown, you mean."

"The Guard and the Monarch are Trillian, old man," Jarmalon said. "We

have been since even before the disaster. We built this society, and

by the Winds, we'll maintain what we build."

Hurek gripped his cane a little harder. "If I had known, Majesty, I

would have been better off dead than serving a king interested more in

his own comfort than in protecting his people. I'm calling them off."

He started away. Jarmalon laughed mockingly.

"Do you think they listen to your commands anymore? I've put Colonel

Lesal in charge of this, just as he will continue commanding the Azure

Guard after you are found with a confession written into your suicide

note."

Hurek straightened, pale and hurt. "Lesal? Arjin Lesal? I... I trusted

him... Thought of him..."

"Just goes to show how senile you really are, Hurek. Now, I can't

afford to have the Azure Guard commanded by a doddering, idealistic

old fool. I need the Guard that will carry out my commands and stay

loyal to the Monarch. Colonel Lesal will make sure it does so after he

destroys that demagogue Senator and her radicals."

"You won't get away with this!"

Jarmalon raised an eyebrow. "I will, but Lesal has made sure you

won't."

He abruptly spun on his heels and walked away, leaving Hurek alone.

The old man walked out to the balcony and saw the mobs of people

gathering below. Several dozen Azure Guard troops were mobilizing

while angry citizens shouted.

Hurek frowned. Either way, he would be dead, and several lifetimes of

military service told him that by the time the sun set, any other

lives would end as well. The least he could do was follow his

conscience.

"The shuttle has touched down in the city's main park," Miri said.

"How far is the landing site from the agora?" asked Jadzia, nervously

studying the monitor.

"About a kilometer," Miri answered. "I've got a lock on most of the

major Azure Guard troop deployments as well. In every warren in the

city, there's several phalanxes of Azure Guard soldiers, and the

information net is still going wonky."

"How many troops in the vicinity of the city agora?"

Miri studied the readouts. "Two phalanxes in place, and a third coming

in. Commander Jarok will be waiting for them in the shuttle, engines

on-line in case they need to take off quickly."

"Ries?" Jadzia asked.

"Transporter locks holding, ma'am," the dark-haired security guard

said. "It won't do much good in Senator Odan's case, though."

"Good," said Jadzia. *All that's left is some prayers to the Joined

Gods, but I don't think it would be appropriate anymore.*

Jadzia heard Miri mutter, "May the Prophets aid us."

Settling back in the captain's seat, Jadzia stared at the viewer.

"Keep praying, Miri. They'll need it."

Kareel closed her eyes and mentally rehearsed her speech for the

dozenth time since the shuttle took off. She hadn't felt so nervous

since her Joining Day.

A warm hand touched her arm. Opening her eyes, she was greeted by

Beverly's smile.

"It's going to be all right, Odan. I know how you must feel about

shuttles."

Kareel relaxed a little. "It's not the shuttle, Beverly, but thank you

for your concern."

"Just remember your speech, Kareel," Joa said, grandmotherly features

focused on her.

Nedian scanned the readout. "I don't like this."

"What do you mean?" Kareel asked.

Nedian frowned. "On subspace, I'm picking up a lot of orders being

given to the Azure Guard. The capital city is crawling with troops."

A chill descended on the shuttle occupants. This was not going to be

easy.

The shuttle landed in the city park. Nedian nodded for everyone to get

out. Grabbing phasers, the party emerged from the shuttlecraft, and

into the park.

"We can't get into the city through the roads," said Beverly. "No

doubt the Guard has them blocked."

"The League has a way around that problem," said Kareel, pulling back

a nearby bush to reveal an old, iron grating. Putting a handprint on a

sensor near the grate, it popped open. Kareel jumped in first, and

helped the other two down before sealing the grate.

"These tunnels were designed by Uri Odan," said Kareel, stooping a bit

so she could avoid hitting her head on the tunnel ceiling. "The

aqueduct was rerouted a few years ago, and the fountain isn't in the

agora anymore."

"How old are these tunnels, and where do they lead?"

"About two centuries, Doctor," Kareel said. "And they lead all over

Parsee City." She stopped and listened. "The next tunnel should put us

directly under Senator Karez's office complex."

Kareel led the doctors to a small, sealed up hatch. "Here."

Beverly pushed the heavy panel aside, revealing the light of a

building above. From here, she could see a few men and women with the

League symbol stitched to their vests. A hand reached in. "This way,

Senator. Karez is waiting for you."

Verad monitored the agora from the top of the office complex.

Everything was running smoothly. People were gathering in the agora.

No one was sure what to make of the information being broadcast to

every public terminal on Trill. Some couldn't believe the Guard could

do such awful things. Others cynically grumbled that they had

suspicions.

He had everything in place, he supposed. The League had been training.

His phaser was charged. This was as well-prepared as he could make it.

Out the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of some bright blue

coveralls. Damn.

Mareel tapped his shoulder. He spun around.

"This building's secured," she said. "If the Azure Guard gets any

ideas, we can tell everyone to come inside here."

"Good," he said with a nod.

"Julian has a makeshift infirmary set up in one of the inner meeting

halls, and Senator Odan has safely arrived. She's meeting with Karez

right now to plan the second phase of the plan."

"Very Good," he answered tersely. Immediately, he went back to looking

out the window.

"What's wrong, Verad?" Mareel asked. "You usually aren't this

nervous."

Verad frowned, and pointed to the people in the blue coveralls. "See

them?"

Mareel peeked over his shoulder. "Damn. Azure Guard. Jarmalon must

have ordered them into the city."

"This will not go peacefully, Mareel. If something happens to me..."

The Trill looked more drawn then ever, swallowing hard.

Mareel took Verad's face in her hands. "If anything happens, just

remember that I love you, and I'll be with the team securing this

building." The Kafcian kissed him gently before returning to her

surveillance.

* * * *

After arranging the final stages of the plan, Beverly, Joa, Verad,

Kareel and several League Guards made their way to the agora through

the tunnels, emerging behind the main stage. The guards and Verad

secured the immediate area before pulling first the doctor, and then

the Senator from the tunnels.

Beverly wiped her clammy hands on her uniform. God, she was terrified.

Kareel didn't seem worried at all, but Beverly knew that she had been

trained to stay calm, a kind of training that no doubt, took a few

lifetimes.

Still, dealing with Kareel Odan was nothing like dealing with Luz.

This was an entirely different person, even if memories tied her to

him. While Luz had shown his intense emotion only in a bedroom, Kareel

put it to work. In a way, Beverly was coming to admire this woman in a

way she never could admire Luz, and appreciate her for her own merits.

Perhaps, she *could* keep up with change after all.

Kareel straightened her fire-red jumpsuit. "Well, Beverly. You've

escorted me this far. Here's where you have the option to leave."

Beverly shook her head. "If you want me to go, I'll go, but if you

don't," she said. "I'll stay by you."

Kareel pulled Beverly aside, face drawn with worry. "Beverly, I cannot

guarantee your safety. It would be very dangerous."

"I'll risk it, Kareel," she said. "I... owe you that much."

Kareel smiled. "You owe me nothing, Beverly, but I would be honored if

you did stay."

Kareel nodded to Joa. "She's staying with us. Come on, they're

waiting."

Arjin paced down the line of his battalion, standing for inspection.

Stopping in the middle of the line, he addressed them.

"You all remember the oaths you took upon enlisting. 'To protect my

world in all hours, dark and light' -- well, now is the darkest hour

we've ever faced. In twenty minutes, League terrorists are going to

speak in the agora. We won't attack directly. Then, they will become

martyrs, and those are much more dangerous. Shar will take care of

them."

"In the meantime, the League has set up a base on the fourth planet in

the Amari System. We will take the most powerful defense ships in the

fleet and attack their base. Hopefully, we'll stop them from trying

to destroy this world ever again."

"I want your fighter squadron ready to go in a half hour. Dismissed."

The fighters crossed their chest with their right arm in salute.

The public agora was packed, hundreds of people eagerly awaiting the

speakers. Verad looked out on the crowd and gasped. By the Gods, he

hated crowds. Fortunately, he couldn't see any blue coveralls among

them.

*Not yet at least.*

Kareel and Joa emerged on stage immediately afterwards. Kareel started

to speak. "Thank you for coming. As you know, I have made many

statements criticizing Monarch Jarmalon and the Symbiosis

Commission..."

In the crowd, two Azure Guard marksmen readied their phaser rifles.

They were set to kill, and trained on the woman pacing the stage.

"Wait... Wait..." one of them said. Waiting a few seconds, he shouted

to his partner. "All right, NOW!"

"But what I do not want is bloodshed. What I call for is peaceful

protesting, diplomatic options, and -"

Joa screamed, and pointed to two figures in the crowd. "Kareel!"

Before the Senator could react, the Guardian plowed into her, the full

weight of her slamming her to the stage. Two yellow flashes passed in

front of Kareel's nose, burning a hole into orator's stage.

Panic broke out in the crowd as they searched nearby buildings.

Beverly gasped and dashed out onto the stage, medical kit ready.

Kareel managed to get out from under Joa. The Guardian's eyes were

locked open, expression one of terror. Two ugly scorches marred her

robe. Beverly ran the tricorder over Joa. The tricorder let out a

mournful whine.

Kareel choked for a split second, then her Initiate training snapped

into place. She would have to morn her old friend another time...

A League Guard shot into the crowd, hitting one of the snipers.

As part of the League deployment to the agora, Julian was rushing

through the crowd, pushing some aside with little respect for manners.

Julian finally reached the body of the young woman. He identified the

Yunnuth symbol on her shirt sleeve.

"She's Azure Guard!" Julian shouted.

At about the same time, over a dozen Azure Guardsmen in full body

armor popped up from out of nowhere, phaser rifles ready.

"Surrender Odan," said one, wearing a voice amplifier on his helmet.

"Never!" she shouted. "You'll have to kill me!"

Kareel looked out the corner of her eye at Beverly. "Beverly, we're

going to have to run for the tunnels."

"I know. Count of three?"

"Sounds good. One..."

"Two..."

A shot sliced through the air, hitting a person in the front row of

the audience. He cried out and fell dead.

"Three!" both women shouted as they bolted for the tunnels.

Yellow phaser bolts whizzed past Julian as he tried to run back to the

League base. Just as Azure Guardsmen popped up on top of buildings,

League officers poured out from inside others, just as heavily armed,

and in equal armor.

The civilians in the audience were screaming, running, ducking,

praying. Some of them were ready to fight. Azure Guardsmen poured in

the agora, the mob grabbed two of the soldiers and started beating

them to death while the League picked off the others.

The civilian mob had started to pick up some of the weapons left by

dead soldiers and fire at targets of their own before being cut down

themselves.

Smoke stung Julian's eyes and throat. He coughed and choked, trying to

stumble blindly to the orator's stage. He tapped his communicator.

"Bashir to Crusher."

No response.

Julian stumbled down a blind alley, still coughing and choking.

"Bashir to Jarok!"

He was shoved to the ground roughly by two pairs of hands. He landed

awkwardly, and pain shot through his leg. Instinctively, he gasped and

grabbed his throbbing ankle. Through his communicator, Julian could

hear, "This is Jarok. Where are you?"

In the shuttle, Nedian continued to shout into the comlink. *Let him

be all right.*

He heard a voice. "Corporal Kendak to Dispatch. We have a capture..."

He blanched. *The Guard!*

A second later, Nedian heard the sound of a phaser, and the comlink

cut abruptly.

Julian rolled on his back, but the two Azure Guardsmen pinned him

while a third took his communicator and threw it to the ground,

vaporizing it with his pistol.

"So," the Guard sneered. "So I see Odan's got you working for her.

Sorry little human. You never should have come to Trill."

He talked into his wrist communicator. "Kendak to Lesal. Colonel, we

found Bashir. You want me to bring him to base?"

"No. Terminate him. Set your phasers to vaporize so that Dax and Jarok

won't be able to find a body."

The Guard raised his pistol, the whine of it echoing in Julian's ears.

He braced himself.

*So this is how it ends. Oh, Jadzia, I'm sorry for leaving you like

this.*

A shot! A second and a third! Julian opened his eyes, shocked, but

alive. A hand reached down for him.

"Come with me, Doctor."

Julian caught sight of his rescuer.

"Never thought I'd be glad to see you, Verad."

The Trill nodded coolly. "Come, we haven't got much time."

He tried to pull Julian to his feet, but the human's feet nearly slid

out from under him.

"I sprained my ankle," said Julian.

"Can you walk?"

"I can limp."

Verad put his arm around Julian's waist to support him. "I'll help you

to the shuttle."

The two men limped away as fast as they could.

They got to the orator's stage, trying to get towards the tunnels, but

Julian could see the Guards crowding around the entrance, and going

in.

"Oh, Gods... Beverly!" Julian sputtered.

"Nothing we can do for them now," Verad said. "Time to use the backup

plan."

Verad pointed to the office complex, outside the fray. It could be

reached by using the alleys and twisted old roads. Still painfully

limping, Julian gritted his teeth and tried to stagger towards it,

Verad helping him along.

A shot narrowly missed Beverly as she and Kareel sped through the

tunnels as fast as they could.

The Azure Guard was in close pursuit, and was gaining on them. After

an eternity, Beverly saw the light of the hatch from which they

entered.

"That way!" Kareel shouted. "I see it!"

Beverly shoved Kareel through and turned to fire on the officers

chasing them before climbing out herself.

Kareel was half-way to the shuttle when Beverly emerged from the

tunnel, dashing at full speed. The Starfleet doctor easily caught up

with Kareel, but both women were panting as the door slid shut behind

them.

Nedian was firing up the launch sequence.

"Joa's dead," said Beverly.

Nedian shook his head, trying to keep his emotions in check. "I don't

think Julian made it, either. I was on the communicator with him, and

I heard an Azure Guardsman report him as a capture. There was a shot a

couple seconds later."

Kareel looked up. "We can't wait much longer. There are over twenty

troops heading for us."

Nedian said. "Damn."

He fired up the engines and the craft took off into the sky. Looking

at the sensor grid, he shook his head. "Oh, shit."

"What?" asked Beverly.

"It's the Defiant. She's surrounded."

"Commander Dax, I'm reading twenty ships. All of them are the size of

Starfleet runabouts, but their weapon systems are much more powerful.

It's like they have Dominion phaser banks rigged to them."

"Dominion?"

"I'm also picking up Nedian's shuttle. It's trying to run the

blockade!"

"How long until they are ready to dock?"

"Thirty seconds."

"Keep the shields down until they dock."

Jadzia took a deep breath.

*A Starfleet officer's First Duty is to the Truth.*

In a quiet, clear voice, she turned to Miri. "Send a message to

Starfleet Command. Priority One. If further hostile action is taken,

Trill is to be placed under General Order Ninety."

Miri swallowed hard, then punched the message into her console.

General Order Ninety -- "Starfleet vessels are to take appropriate

action against any Federation member in flagrant violation of their

entrance agreement, including martial law."

"Done." Miri said, "Colonel Lesal is hailing us."

Jadzia opened her eyes, but felt little else but rage. "On screen."

His face flashed up on the viewer, even more determined than Jadzia

was. His Azure flight suit was impeccable, and his eyes glared hard at

her.

"Commander Dax," he said. "Good to see you again."

"Arjin," Jadzia said, folding her arms.

Miri checked her console. "Shuttle has docked. It's suffered some

damage. Phaser fire hit the power grid."

The young man's gaze was harsh. "I know that you have contacted the

League, and that you helped Odan and Verad avoid capture. You are

aiding and

abetting known enemies of the Trill People."

Jadzia centered herself in the seat. "And the Azure Guard tried to

assassinate one of your own political leaders and lie in order to put

the blame on the Dominion. The Azure Guard has ordered thousands of

people to be killed in violation of EVERY principle of the

Federation!"

The door hissed open. Nedian and Kareel came onto the bridge. Kareel

stood at Jadzia's side.

"Nedian," said Jadzia. "Who made it aboard?"

"Senator Odan, Doctor Crusher, and myself." He looked down, then up at

her.

"Julian?"

Nedian shook his head. "I'm sorry, Jadzia. The Azure Guard captured

him, and I heard phaser fire before communication was cut."

It was like a 500 kilogram weight slammed into her. Julian dead?

Gods, no! She closed her eyes and felt all the blood drain from her

face. But it was no time to mourn. Not right now.

"So," Arjin said smugly. "Odan is still alive, and on your ship."

"Yes," said Jadzia. "She is under Starfleet protection, on a ship

under my command."

"You are sheltering known terrorists, Commander. This is an internal

matter for Trill. You have no authority here. I want you to surrender

Odan, or I open fire."

"Arjin, listen to me."

"I have my orders from Monarch Jarmalon himself. If you don't turn

over Odan, you will be in violation of the Prime Directive, as well as

in Disgrace in the eyes of Trill."

Jadzia looked over to Kareel, then back to Arjin. "Colonel Lesal,

Trill is in violation of its Federation Membership. I want you to

stand down now, or by Starfleet General Order Ninety, I have the right

to secure this planet under martial law until the Federation Senate

can determine further action."

Arjin looked squarely at her. "This is your homeworld, Dax! Call this

off, and you will not be harmed. We'll even pardon your conduct up to

now."

Jadzia knew what her former student was proposing. Any further action,

and she and Jarok were as good as exiled. She would be a traitor to

her

homeworld.

Legally, she was in a gray area, too. While General Order Ninety

applied to a Federation planet that violated its entrance agreement,

the Prime Directive also mandated that each planet was to conduct its

own affairs without interference. All Arjin was doing was following

the orders of his government. The League was an internal affair.

There were over twenty small ships surrounding the Defiant, too.

Jadzia wasn't sure that she would be able to fend them all off. It

would be a good fight.

Kareel Odan stood to her side. "I will follow your directives,

Commander Dax."

Nedian looked over to Jadzia. "So will I."

There was a brief pause, but Jadzia already had her answer.

"Arjin, we found the Guard's records. We know everything!" Jadzia

said, finally giving in to fury. "We know about your Dominion ploy, we

know what you did to the Senator's ship, and we know that the Guard

has death warrants out on many Trill citizens - in DIRECT violation of

Federation Law."

"What is the meaning of this?!?" Arjin roared. "What right have you

to enter the Azure Guard's secure record bank? And what right do you

have to

broadcast terrorist propaganda!"

Jadzia glanced at OPS. Nedian was so angry that his skin was turning

red. He stood up, in view of the comlens and stared down Arjin with a

menace that made Miri cringe. "What right?" he whispered with a hiss.

"What right do you have to kill innocent people?!? You, and every

other member of the Azure Guard, up to and including the Monarch, are

not fit to be alive, let alone Joined!"

Jadzia was just as angry. She didn't care about her control or Joining

Oaths, or anything except her fury at the Guard, and what they had

done to Julian.

"You are nothing but monsters!" she roared. "You care for nothing

except for keeping people like Jarmalon and yourselves in power!"

Arjin put on a smug face. "You really don't understand, do you?" he

said quietly. "The Azure Guard *IS* Trillian!"

Jadzia secured herself in the command chair. "I'm sorry, Arjin. Kareel

Odan is in *my* protective custody. You'll have to fight me to get

her, and let me warn you that while you probably will be able to

destroy the Defiant, and all her crew, Starfleet will respond with

deadly force. I seriously doubt that your squadron of fighters could

destroy a Hercules-class battleship."

Arjin's eyes hardened. "I always knew you to be a harsh one, Dax, as

well as a poor excuse for a Joined. You and Jarok have made your

decision. I have made mine."

The transmission ended.

"They're powering up their weapons and raising shields. They've got a

lock on us."

"Raise shields, ready weapons," Jadzia ordered. "Red Alert."

Jadzia quickly ran her hands over the console.

"What are you doing?" Nedian asked, hyperventilating.

"I'm sending a copy of our information to Starfleet on an emergency

band," he answered. "If we get destroyed, I want to be sure that

someone answers for this."

A large explosion rocked the Defiant.

Nedian looked up. "Shields to eighty-two percent."

Jadzia eyed the bat'leth near her chair. She brought it up in case a

boarding party came aboard. She wouldn't be caught unarmed. *They want

a fight, they'll get one. It is, after all, a good day to die.*

"Return fire, Mister Jarok."

Nedian's hands flew over the control panel. On the viewer, a Azure

Guard ship exploded in a ball of white fire.

"One destroyed, five others suffering severe damage," Jarok reported.

"But our shields are down to seventy percent."

WHAM!!

WHAM!!

WHAM!!

The building was surrounded by Azure Guardsmen. Julian, fortunately,

still had his medkit. The casualties, civilian, Guard, and League

alike were piling up at an alarming rate.

Limping around with his twisted ankle, Julian was doing what he could

with field medkits, but supplies were low. He was working on an

adolescent girl with a compound fracture of her left arm.

"I was caught in the crowd. They shot my friend. The Guard did..."

Julian finally set the girl's arm and ran the tissue regenerator over

it, followed by the bone knitter. The girl blinked and touched

Julian's hand. "Thank you."

"Pol will take you to a safe place in the building. Go with him."

A League officer helped the girl off the biobed and let her to where

the rest of the low-danger patients, and other rescued civilians, were

being kept.

Julian checked the power levels of his instruments, and the contents

of his medkit. Not very much left.

"Verad!" Julian shouted. "I'm running out of medicines. How's the

siege?"

Verad backed away from a window, the bolt hitting the ceiling.

"They're breaking down the front door. Keep doing what you can." He

called out behind him. "Rogan, grab a phaser rifle and go."

A tall, big-boned man nodded. "Yes, Sir." Grabbing a phaser rifle, he

made his way downstairs.

Verad turned to Julian. "Doctor, how are the casualties?"

"I've done all I can with them."

"Then go with Pol." Verad tossed Julian a fully loaded phaser rifle.

"And may whatever Deity you humans honor help you."

Julian nodded and limped after Pol.

Mareel rushed up to Verad after Julian had left.

"I just got off the communications link. The Defiant is under attack

by Lesal's Squadron."

Continued...

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

|Richard J. Pugh, MLS | Traveling Eternity Road, |

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From: rjpugh@ids.net (Richard J. Pugh)

Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative

Subject: The First Tile - 17 (PG-13, DS9/TNG/Amagosa)

Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 02:12:05 GMT

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The First Tile

by Jessica M. Krucek and Richard J. Pugh

Chapter 17

Part 12

Winds of Battle, Winds of Change

General Hurek limped down to the palace library. There, more than any

place else in the palace, would be the only one who could help him.

His hunch proved correct. Kalidon watched the carnage helplessly from

a picture window.

"My prince!" Hurek shouted. "You must reason with your father. He has

gone mad! This course of action..."

"Was not your doing. I have known of my father's dealings with Colonel

Lesal, but I've been as powerless as you, friend. I have tried to

reason with him, but he would rather see our world remaining in the

Dark Ages. Can't you talk to the Guard and tell them to stand down?"

"They won't listen. I've tried to contact my officers, but they have

all sided with Lesal!"

"Surely not all the Guard approves of this massacre?"

Hurek thought for a moment. "The high-ranking officers may approve,

but there has been much talk among the lower ranking officers, and

non-commissioned personnel. They would disobey, but they're still

afraid of the Monarch."

Kalidon thought hard as the battle raged outside. He looked up into

the old general's eyes.

"The Guard will not listen to you, old friend?"

"No, my Prince. Not as long as they've pledged their loyalty to the

Monarch."

"Then," Kalidon asked slowly. "Do you think, if given a choice, they

would pledge their allegiance to *me?*"

Hurek paused, considering the implications of Kalidon's statement.

"I believe many of them will, especially if we stand together against

Jarmalon, your Majesty."

Kalidon nodded, and took a deep breath. "Then it is done. Let's leave

for the command post underneath the palace."

The two walked out of the library together.

Blast after blast coursed through the Defiant. Jadzia was knocked to

the deck, her silver barrette falling out of her hair and sliding

clear across the bridge. She had fallen head first, and smashed the

side of her face against the deck, stunning her.

A panel in the back of the bridge spit sparks and crackled with

damaged circuitry. The red-shirted ensign manning it was shocked

badly, and thrown against a wall.

Nedian didn't bother to turn around. He took control of the phaser

banks, pure fear running in his veins.

Kareel helped Jadzia from off the deck and back into the chair. She

had the wind knocked from her, but fortunately, there seemed to be

nothing more serious.

Miri cried from the back. "They've hit the engines. Warp Drive is out.

I'm directing power from all non-essential systems to maintain

antimatter containment!"

"Understood," shouted Nedian. "Shields down to thirty percent. Failure

of obulative armor imminent!"

Ries called out over the chaos: "Transferring Warp power to impulse.

Full impulse maneuverability available."

Jadzia was starting to come out of it. "How many ships?"

"Ten," yelled Miri. "They're regrouping, and coming at us in Epsilon

formation."

"Epsilon?" Jadzia shook her head. *Damn you and your flight training,

Arjin!*

"Evasive pattern Delta Five."

WHAM! This time, everyone on the bridge was prepared.

Another runabout on the screen went up in an orange inferno.

"Damn you, Arjin!" Jadzia cried. She opened a communications channel.

"Arjin! Cease and desist! You'll be killed."

He came on the viewer. "Sorry, Dax. I was told to destroy you by any

means necessary. This is the only way to stop you."

"Arjin!"

"I swore that I would die for my homeworld. It's too bad that you

couldn't do the same."

He cut transmission, and the ships started another round of firing.

The shockwave hit the Defiant hard. Everyone was thrown backwards at a

high rate of speed, and knocked out temporarily. The inertial

dampeners kicked

in, and everyone was thrown forward.

Pulling himself away from her terminal, Miri reported. "Hull breeches

on decks five through eight. Section twenty. Our shields are gone, Our

overall power level is down to twenty percent. About all we have is

sickbay, life support, and communications. Doctor Crusher reports that

five more crewmen are dead or unaccounted for."

Several purple beams shimmered across the bridge. Arjin and about ten

Guards materialized on the bridge of the Defiant.

"It's over, Dax," Arjin said. "You're under arrest."

One of them tried to shoot Kareel, but Jadzia grabbed the nearest

thing she could. Worf's bat'elth.

The guard went flying before he could pull the trigger, and the fight

was on!

One of them tried to pull Nedian from his seat, but his throat met

with the toe of Miri's boot. He went sprawling backwards, falling

unconscious when his head hit the helm control.

By that time Nedian was on his feet. A Guardsman grabbed Miri from

behind, and was trying to choke her with his arm. Nedian cried out,

"Miri!" Dashing behind the guard, he drove the knuckles of his index

and middle finger into the back of his neck. He fell with a groan.

Miri was too sunned to speak as she saw Nedian.

"Romulan variation of the nerve pinch," he explained, pulling out two

lightweight, Romulan daggers from his boots and reentering the fray.

Kareel caught a guard in the stomach with her elbow, and shot him with

his own phaser. He cried out and crumpled to the deck. A woman lunged

for

Kareel, pinning her arms against the console.

Nedian rushed to her aid, punching her in the back as hard as he

could. When she let go of Kareel to react, Nedian pounded her in the

head with the pommel of one dagger, sending her unconscious to the

deck.

Arjin and Jadzia brawled with such ferocity that both were amazed. She

was able to knock Arjin against a panel with one of Kor's favorite

moves.

"Klingon Martial Arts," Arjin said. "Very good, Dax." Reaching in his

uniform, Arjin pulled out a large knife. "But not good enough."

Dodging Jadzia's kick, Arjin grabbed her arm, and made a stab for

Jadzia's neck. She twisted away, the knife catching her in the

shoulder. Arjin threw her to the deck and pinned her.

"So this is how it ends for you, Dax." His voice was ice-cold, anger

and bloodlust in his eyes. He yanked the knife violently from her

shoulder, and poised it above her. "One clean stab through Dax and

it's all over. Tosa cast you and your corrupters to the winds."

He projected into her minds, in one vicious burst.

//I *ordered* my men to kill your precious, human pet. Howl on the

Winds for eternity, whore!//

She would never be sure if it was grief, rage, self-preservation, or

plain insanity.

She grabbed Arjin's arm and twisted. He howled and dropped the knife.

Jadzia bucked Arjin off her, pinned him, grabbed the knife, and rammed

the knife into his belly and chest. Two stabs were all it took.

Arjin convulsed once, then fell limp. Symbiont and Host were dead.

At that moment, the last of the Guardsmen had been knocked out by

Nedian. With a shout, he ran to Jadzia's side.

Nedian rushed to her side. "That looks bad."

"Just get the medkit. I'll be fine," she croaked.

Miri checked back at the sensors. "I'm reading more runabouts powering

up on the planet's surface."

Jadzia gripped her bleeding shoulder. "Do we have power to the

phasers?"

"Minimal power to phaser banks and we still have about six quantum

torpedoes," Miri answered.

"Can we get a weapons lock on the major Azure Guard installations?"

Miri nodded. "We can."

Jadzia closed her eyes. "Mr. Ries, lock phasers on as many

Azure Guard ground forces and ship launching bases as we can. Fire

when ready."

In about a minute, the Defiant shot out a series of phaser bursts,

like a visual staccato symphony.

Ries looked up. "Ground forces neutralized... Wait a minute!"

"Now what?" Jadzia gasped, her hand becoming slippery with blood.

"Planetary defense missiles. Magnetic disruption casings... Standard

surface to orbit anti-starship missiles."

"Target the casings."

"No can do. The casings are shielded. It would take..." his voice

dropped. "It would take a quantum torpedo to destroy them."

"The missiles, and anything within a kilometer will be destroyed,"

Nedian warned.

Jadzia paused only a moment. "How many missile sites?"

"Five. The main one near Parsee, and the others in remote areas."

"Mr. Ries. Torpedo pattern Sierra. Take out those missiles."

Ries nodded silently, and pressed a few panels.

In a mountain valley twenty kilometers away from Parsee, two enormous

blast doors had opened, exposing huge batteries of surface to orbit

missiles, preparing for launch.

"Target acquired and clear, Major," a corporal called from his control

array.

"Set launch for ten seconds," the officer responded. "This will teach

those renegades once and for all to defy us." He added smugly, "It

will be

the last lesson they ever learn."

"Major!" the corporal called. "Incoming projectile! Heading five..."

He never got to complete his sentence. The major saw a white

projectile burning through the thick gray clouds like a comet. He

lived just long enough to realize what it was...

Out the corner of his eye, Verad saw Mareel dodging another Guard, and

the force of the attack pushing her assailant out the window of the

building. In a few minutes, more League and Guard fell, but while most

of the League in the room were standing, only three of the Azure Guard

were. Immediately, they were surrounded. The Guards held up their arms

in surrender.

Julian and Verad kept an eye on them while the remaining League troops

disarmed them and led them to a small room off to the side.

A woman in League uniform looked out the window, and shouted. "Look

at this!"

A huge explosion took off the top of the mountain. Verad shook his

head. "That's the Azure Guard installation outside Parsee City!"

No sooner had he said that, then a huge shock hit, knocking everyone

to the far side of the room as the window imploded.

The top half of the mountain was blown off instantly. Twisted

fragments of metal slid down the sides of the burning mountain, as

explosion after explosion emanated from the impact site. The

aftershock his Parsee like an earthquake that not even the tectonic

stabilizers could compensate for fully.

The slaughter stopped as people were knocked to their feet by the

blast and shocks. Cracks started to appear in older buildings, and a

very old building shifted off its foundation as it listed dangerously

to one side.

The chain reaction continued until the mountain containing the Azure

Guard's defense installation was nothing more than a pile of rocks

where a proud mountain once stood.

From a room in his palace, Jarmalon picked himself off the floor to

see the mountain burn itself out of existence. In the city below, the

riots had left fires burning and destruction everywhere.

As the first rumblings of thunder started in the sky, he realized that

he had only one option left.

Kalidon and Hurek had taken command of an Azure Guard outpost. Sure

enough, the soldiers were grateful to stop the slaughter, even while a

minority still continued the bloodshed. Gathering their supporters,

Kalidon and Hurek made their way back to the Central Command Complex,

only a stone's throw from the palace.

They stormed in and gathered more support from common soldiers

grateful to hear any coherent order other than the babbling of their

officers, finally making their way into the command room.

Officers were dashing about, shouting gibberish while computers

sounded various alarms.

An odd calm descended on Hurek, the old man finding a resolve he

hadn't known in ages.

"Call off the attacks!" Hurek roared.

Almost like magic, the command center quieted as a sergeant put out

the alarms. It became eerily quiet as Hurek walked in, the officers

astonished. This battered, worn-out general was suddenly conducting

himself with the heroism and dignity from his days as a young troop

commander.

"This ends immediately," he said. "Call off all attacks. Tell all

troops to disarm their weapons and withdraw immediately."

The officers hesitated.

He pointed to a graphic depicting the five destroyed bases. "You all

saw what happened, and that was one starship. If we don't surrender,

many more will come, and believe me, they won't stop until we do. You

can die loyal to Jarmalon and the old ways, he nodded to Kalidon. "But

I would rather live and embrace change."

"But...but..." stuttered a major.

"Are you questioning me, Major?" he barked.

"No, sir," said the astounded woman as she sent out the order to her

regiment. "I've given the order... they're standing down now, sir."

The shaking ended. Verad pulled himself to his feet as Julian sat in

the corner dazed.

"Dear God," muttered the human. "What was *that?*"

"Shockwave," said one of the Azure Guard troops, equally dazed. "The

missile base near the city..."

Mareel ran back to the computer console. "The Azure Guard has decided

to surrender! We have Parsee city!"

A long cheer erupted from the League.

Captain Tylee watched from a nearby squadron in orbit.

"Message from the Defiant. Lesal's squadron is destroyed," her copilot

said from the seat behind her. "Colonel Lesal is dead. I'm reading

severe damage to the Defiant, though. She won't be a match for us."

"Wait a minute...Captain, you comlink. You're getting a message from

General Hurek and..." the disbelief in his voice was evident.

"*Monarch* Kalidon."

She whipped around. Kalidon had claimed the throne? "What?"

"That usurper," the copilot muttered with a sneer. "He's ordering us

to stand down."

Another runabout hailed her. "Captain. We have our weapons ready.

Defiant coming into range in less ten seconds. We are ready to fire on

your mark."

*In with your foot, out by your neck, is that it, Lesal?* she thought.

*What do I protect? My pride or my planet? It would be suicide to

attack the Defiant. Starfleet would send more.*

She looked down at her readout. Every major metropolis on Trillian had

erupted into riots. Tylee was Joined, and proud of that fact, but it

was over. She wouldn't be able to hold on to her privileged place in

society. It was either die and take her men with her, or come crawling

to the League in surrender so that others could live.

*Enough for one day,* she thought.

"Defiant in weapons range. Give the order to fire when ready."

"I'll do no such thing," Tylee barked. "I want you to hail them. We

surrender."

"Captain?"

"Those are my orders, Lieutenant. Stand down."

"We're powering down all weapons, and I'm sending a surrender message

in Federation Standard," her copilot related.

"What on the Wind are you doing?" asked another pilot in the squadron.

"Our first duty as Azure Guardsmen is to protect Trill from harm. We

attack a Starfleet vessel, and we might as well be running into Armak

naked and blind. I didn't join the Azure Guard to kill other Trills."

Her voice dropped. "None of us did."

Her voice was quiet as she reported to the pilot. "Tell them that I

will come aboard personally, and offer a full confession to my part in

sabotaging Trill's communications grid."

"Captain?" her copilot asked.

"Do it," she whispered. "Before I change my mind."

The young man nodded and punched the message into the console. "They

are ready for you to transport aboard."

"Very good. Take the helm and escort the squadron back home," she said

before the transporter beam caught her.

Tylee knew that she'd most likely spend many years in a Starfleet

stockade, but that was preferable to death, and at least she wouldn't

have any more blood on her hands.

Jadzia stared blankly at the picture of her planet on the viewer, a

planet she had spent many lifetimes rooted to. She gripped her hurt

shoulder, too shocked and numb to feel the physical and mental pain.

Medics and Security officers came to the bridge and hauled away the

dead and the prisoners with quiet efficiency. One of the

noncommissioned medics the came over with the medkit and cut away part

of her uniform around the stab. With a few passes of the dermal

regenerator, it ached, but it wasn't bleeding or cut. Jadzia got to

her feet.

"Ensign Tie, hail Monarch Jarmalon."

The monitor flashed on, revealing Jarmalon's private chambers, but it

wasn't Jarmalon who answered.

"Prince Kalidon?" Jadzia asked in surprise.

"My father has abandoned his throne," Kalidon said softly. the young

Trill monarch looked like she felt. Rising from their seats, Kareel,

Jadzia, and Nedian faced their planet's new leader.

"The Azure Guard has been defeated, and Colonel Lesal is dead," said

Jadzia. "Effective immediately, Trill has lost all membership

privileges of the Federation. Under Starfleet General Order Ninety, I

declare this planet under martial law. "

Kalidon looked very saddened.

"Your Majesty, Trill is in gross violation of its Federation entrance

agreement. I demand that you ground all remaining defense forces, and

meet with me to hammer out a cease-fire with the League."

"General Hurek and I have already given the order, Commander Dax,"

Kalidon said. "I agree to negotiate a cease-fire with the League on

behalf of Trill's official government. Meet me in my palace in twelve

hours."

"Agreed," said Jadzia before terminating the hail.

Ries spoke up. "Commander. I'm detecting a ship on long range sensors.

It's the USS Matrix, a Starfleet Marine troop carrier. they are

offering any kind of assistance they can offer."

Jadzia slumped in her chair. She looked over to Kareel, who looked

equally wan and exhausted. She looked over to Nedian...

Nedian was gone. Miri shook her head in disbelief and just pointed to

the door.

Jadzia was puzzled for a moment, the remembered. Jarmalon... Jarmalon

was still down there... He wouldn't be able to travel too far from his

palace...

"Computer, locate Commander Jarok!"

Commander Jarok in transporter room three.

"Computer, override -"

"Transport in progress!" exclaimed Miri, leaping out of her seat and

heading for the door. "Commander..."

"GO!" Dax yelled.

Miri vanished behind the turbolift doors, Ries and three security

guards at her heels.

The shuttle bay was quite spacious. The ceiling was high, held aloft

with large pillars of red marble. A single shuttle was sitting near

the large opening on the opposite side of the room.

Nedian lifted his tricorder and quickly scanned the room, frantically

checking behind the various pillars and equipment crates that were

strewn around the room. Jarmalon sprang from behind a pillar and

tried to reach the small shuttlecraft.

Nedian jumped at Jarmalon, knocking him to the ground. Jarmalon

quickly got up and tried to get away from Nedian, but the younger man

was too fast.

Nedian slammed him down to the ground. Jarmalon responded with equal

viciousness, kicking Nedian in the stomach.

Nedian rolled off Jarmalon, in terrible pain. Just as the Monarch

tried to rise from the floor, Nedian struck out with his foot, causing

the Monarch to stumble.

Adrenaline levels kicked in, and Nedian recovered from the pain. He

got to his feet, as did Jarmalon.

"You bastard," Nedian hissed. "You'll pay."

Jarmalon punched Nedian. Nedian countered with an even nastier

blow. Nedian was fighting for revenge, but Jarmalon fought for his

life. However, the elderly man was no match for Nedian's superior

strength and agility. Nedian pinned the Monarch against one of the

stone pillars and drew his daggers. He placed the cutting edge of one

against Jarmalon's throat, and the piercing point of the other at his

abdomen. Thrusting the second dagger forward would kill the Monarch's

symbiont in seconds.

"How many?" Nedian hissed.

"Jarok, you don't understand!" Jarmalon pleaded.

"You're damn right I don't," Nedian yelled in response. "I don't

understand how you could do this. I don't understand how you, and

every other Monarch for the last three thousand years could be so

cruel and heartless. I don't understand where our world went wrong!"

He pressed both daggers a little closer.

"Jarok," Jarmalon gasped, "It had been this way since the Great

Disaster! Without the guidance of the Joined, the Unjoined would have

destroyed themselves! Our people would have never survived!"

"Being the voice of experience does not mean becoming a dictator,"

Nedian spat. "The Humans, Bajorans, and a dozen others survived

without a ruling class like the Joined, and they managed just fine.

Now, again, how many Initiates did you order killed? How many lives

have you ruined?"

Jarmalon paused and gasped.

"Answer me before I send you to the wind!"

"I don't know how many!" Jarmalon stuttered. "A large number."

"Aylia Tierel will be the last one," Nedian hissed. He started to

press one dagger into Jarmalon's abdomen.

"Nedian, stop!" a familiar voice called.

"Miri, don't interfere!" Nedian wailed without looking at her. She

was rushing up from behind.

"Nedian, this won't change anything!" she shrieked.

Nedian remained still. Jarmalon muttered something to himself - he

was making peace with the Joined Gods.

"Look at him," Miri said softly, walking closer.

"Don't come any closer!" Nedian whispered.

"He's defeated!" Miri stated. "Federation marines are being beamed

down from the *USS Matrix.* The members of the Symbiosis Commission

are being arrested as we speak. General Hurek has ordered the Azure

Guard to stand down. It's over!"

"This man killed so many people..."

"And nothing can change that!" Miri pleaded. "But justice will now be

served. His reign is over. Kalidon's usurped the throne, he's nothing

but a criminal now. Trillian as you knew it ended with this day."

Other security guards started to circle the pillar where Nedian, Miri

and Jarmalon were standing.

"Killing him won't bring Aylia back," Miri said softly. "Killing him,

now, won't change anything. He will pay for what he has done, and so

will so many others. He will have to live with the shame of what he

has done. He's finished, Nedian. You're already avenged. Aylia's

spirit is free now."

Nedian paused for one moment more, then threw his daggers to the

ground. He backed away and looked coldly at Jarmalon.

"Tie Miri of Bajor," Jarmalon whispered, "I am in your debt. You

saved my life."

Miri turned around fast and slapped him heard in the face. The force

of the blow caused his head to thump against the pillar.

"I did nothing for you!" she snapped. "It wasn't your life I was

saving. It was Nedian's."

The security guards placed cuffs on Jarmalon and escorted him out.

Nedian slumped against the pillar and sat on the floor, exhausted.

Miri squatted in front of him.

"You came down here to stop me?" he whispered without looking at her.

"You're not a killer, love," she answered, running her hand down his

neck. "If you had killed him, the guilt would have eventually torn

you apart. I couldn't allow that to happen."

He looked up at her. His face was bruised, bloodied, and very tired.

He couldn't even speak.

"Come on," she said. "Let's get out of here."

She pulled him to his feet.

Back on the Defiant, a red-headed ensign looked over to Jadzia.

"Commander, I just received a message from Ries," he said. "They've

apprehended Jarmalon. Commander Jarok... prevented Jarmalon from

escaping in his private shuttle."

Jadzia nodded. That's what the official report would say, even though

she knew, and understood, that Nedian's reasons for beaming down to

the planet were very different.

She slumped in her seat. It was finished. Scores of her people were

dead, her homeworld was in ruins, and much of it was by her own hand.

As she looked to Trillian on the viewer, though, her thoughts turned

to one human she had left below.

*Beautiful Julian. Just as I had found you, I lose you again.*

She said quietly. "Lieutenant Welles, you have the bridge. Ensign

Talbot, take Mr. Jarok's console."

Jadzia turned and left, walking like an automaton down the corridor

until she arrived at her quarters.

The horror of it all hit her in a wave. Dashing to the head, she lost

the contents of her stomach into the toilet, tears flowing shamelessly

down her cheeks at the same time. Slowly, she found the strength to

stand and wash her face.

Looking in the mirror, Jadzia saw her own, horrified reflection. Her

spots stood out vividly from her chalky skin. Her face seemed haggard

and aged. Somehow, she managed to stagger to the main room, and onto

the lower bunk. Collapsing on the bunk, she curled in on herself and

cried herself to sleep.

The next day, Jadzia and Kareel took a shuttlecraft down to Parsee the

next morning and landed in the main square near the palace. Rain

poured down in sheets. Nedian and Miri emerged from the palace's main

entrance, right behind Trill's new ceremonial ruler, *Monarch* Zaryl

Kalidon.

Kalidon looked over the city square he had seen every day as long as

he could remember. It was in ruins. the mountain he had seen from his

bedroom window as a smoldering crater, and debris lay everywhere.

Injured and dying people were being pulled from buildings, and were

lying on the street until a transport could take them to a hospital.

Kalidon straightened. All wasn't lost. People living in relatively

unharmed homes were offering shelter to the injured, regardless of

allegiance or status. Others walked out of their homes with food, and

fed those who couldn't feed themselves. Trill wasn't a wasteland, but

a broken world and a broken people. Tears mixed with the rain ran down

his face. While Nedian talked to Jadzia and Kareel, Kalidon felt

something stir in him. Memories of a previous Host surfaced, and

before he knew it, he found himself preparing a field dressing for an

injured, Unjoined woman whose clothes bore the symbol of the League.

She looked up at him, and her eyes widened.

"Hush," he said with a gentle, genuine smile. "You'll be all right."

"You're the Monarch... You're Joined..." she whispered. "Why are you

taking care of me?"

"Because," he said. "I'm here to serve you, not the other way around."

As a stretcher came to take her to a field hospital running out of a

hotel, she squeezed Kalidon's hand. "Thank you, Majesty."

"Get your rest," said Kalidon. "You'll need it."

As the stretcher entered the hotel, Kalidon looked to the sky. The

tiles in the mosaic that Trill once was had shattered. As Monarch,

Kalidon knew it would take a long time to rebuild, but he would, one

life at a time, one day at a time.

"Majesty?" said a shocked Azure Guard trooper emerging from the hotel,

an arm missing. "You shouldn't be out here..."

"You're right, soldier," Kalidon answered plainly. "Go over and tell

the Senator that I'll be lending a hand in here."

The trooper crossed his chest with his remaining arm. "Whatever you

say, sir."

Nedian caught sight of Kalidon entering the makeshift hospital as he

walked with Miri towards the shuttle. They were both silent, as if

there was nothing (or, perhaps too much) to say. Officers in the

forest green of Starfleet Marines secured the area.

Nedian's face looked very drawn and painful as he stopped. He knelt by

a discarded doll and picked it up.

"Nekita, my grandmother, spent a decade on the Romulan border." he

explained quietly. "There... was a war going on. Border fighting. She

saw what war did to those people... what it destroyed..."

Miri sighed. "Looks like Estern after the Cardies were through

withdrawing from the city. Bloody awful." She put a hand on Nedian's

shoulder. Nedian rose from the ground, head hung low.

One of the Marines stepped forward. "Commander Dax? Commander Jarok?"

she asked.

"Yes," Jadzia said.

"Major Pamela Rishon, Starfleet Marines." she gestured to Kareel. "I

take it she's the senator?"

"Yes," said Kareel. "Senator Kareel Odan."

Major Rishon shook her head. "Couldn't believe it when the data packet

hit Starfleet Command. Federation Council is going crazy, so I hear.

That king's got a lot to explaining to do. We also got the head of the

Guard. He's none too happy with the Monarch. As for that new king, I

don't envy his job. He and the old general just authorized a complete

investigation of the Guard by the Marine Corp."

Kareel dodged the mud puddles to the hotel the soldier had told her

about. Entering the lobby, she saw Kalidon walking from cot to cot,

still administering field medicine to Trills. Joined or Unjoined.

Guard, League, or civilian, it didn't matter. From the efficiency of

his work, and his caring, calm demeanor, Kareel guessed that his last

Host must have been a doctor.

She sized him up. He was very young, probably only recently Joined.

Judging from his actions, she guessed that he was quite tolerant, and

open to change.

He looked up at Kareel after finishing another bandage. "It is finally

good to see you in person, Senator Odan. I only wish the circumstances

were better."

"As do I," Kareel said. "Believe me when I say that I wish it hadn't

come to this. I have always spent my lifetimes working for peace, not

war. I would like nothing more than to come to an agreement."

Kalidon nodded. "We all have that wish, Senator. As soon as I'm

finished here, we'll find somewhere to discuss a formal cease-fire."

"Agreed," said Kareel. "Is there anything I can do to help you?"

The young Monarch nodded. "Those two over there are making

bandages. Help

them, please."

Kareel nodded and walked over to the reception area (now an impromptu

nurse's station). She passed an elderly man in Guardian's robes, who

was giving last rites on an Azure Guardsman too badly injured to save.

*Joa,* she thought, choking on a memory barely a day old. *Sleep

well, my old friend, wherever you are.*

Elsewhere, Jadzia looked across the bombed-out pit of the agora. The

Marines were talking to a group of people outside Karez's office

building. Most of them appeared to be League guerrillas. From here,

she could see Verad explaining the actions of the Guard to Major

Rishon.

Emerging from the field hospital, Jadzia could see someone limping

towards her. She took a few steps forward. From here, she could see

that he was dark-haired, and there was a bright blue stripe across the

shoulders of his jumpsuit...

Jadzia closed her eyes and shook her head. It couldn't be... She had

to be hallucinating.

She looked up. From here, she could recognize him. Her heart skipped a

beat. With a cry, she broke into a run.

"Julian!"

He turned around, stunned, then started to limp towards her.

Throwing off all pretenses of professionalism or restraint, Julian and

Jadzia rushed towards each other. Jadzia slipped, and landed in a mud

puddle at one point, thoroughly soaking and staining her uniform, but

she was up and running again in less than a second. Julian slipped a

couple of times due to his ankle, but they rushed into each other's

arms, joy expressing itself in an eager kiss.

They remained that way for almost a full minute, completely oblivious

to the numerous onlookers, and the pounding rainwater running down

their faces and uniforms.

It was certainly a sight for Nedian. Lovers reunited among all this

wreckage and ruin.

He looked skyward, and listened to the wind's howl. the rain somehow

took on a different feeling, as if it were somehow cleansing and

rejuvenating this sick, tired world. He felt a warm breeze against his

face, and his eyes started to tear.

*Aylia,* he thought. *Sleep well, sister. You're free. We're all

free.*

Continued...

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

|Richard J. Pugh, MLS | Traveling Eternity Road, |

| RJPugh@ids.net | What will you find there? |

| RJPugh@aol.com | Carrying your heavy load, |

| PUGH.RICHARD@epamail.epa.gov | Searching to find, a peace of mind |

| http://www.ids.net/~rjpugh/ | - The Moody Blues |

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

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From: rjpugh@ids.net (Richard J. Pugh)

Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative

Subject: The First Tile - 18 (PG-13, DS9/TNG/Amagosa)

Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 02:12:14 GMT

Organization: Posted via CAIS Internet info@cais.com

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by Jessica M. Krucek and Richard J. Pugh

The First Tile

Chapter 18

A Whole New World

"It's been too long, my spirit's been at war,

Let me see the wisdom, let me be reborn.

I will embrace the sun upon my face,"

Come the day I wake the child inside...

And when I go, I will open both of my eyes.

-Martin Page, "The House of Stone and Light"

**Ship's Log, USS Defiant, Stardate 49921.3 Lieutenant Commander

Jadzia Dax reporting.

With the arrival of the *USS Nelson Mandella,* and the deployment of

forces from the troop carrier *USS Matrix,* the primary objectives of

martial law have been implemented on schedule. Reports of hostilities

in rural areas are still being reported, but sources indicate that all

violence should be averted within 48 hours. I have been informed

that Riva the Mediator will be coming to Trillian in two weeks time to

speak with members of the former government, and the League. He hopes

that by consulting with them before negotiations begin, he can

identify the most pressing issues and act accordingly when the

provisional parliament is allowed to meet in ninety days time to start

developing a new Constitution for Trill. Crown Prince Kalidon,

Senators Odan and Karzon, and General Hurek of the Azure Guard have

all pledged their support of this endeavor. Kelfor Jarmalon, Captain

Tylee, several dozen Azure Guard officers, and many high ranking

members of the Symbiosis Commission are being held aboard the Matrix

pending further questioning.

Never in all my life times did I expect the situation on Trillian to

come to this, but in hindsight, there was probably no other way. I

can honestly say, thought, that I would rather die than witness the

events of the past few days a second time. Captain Sisko is currently

on the *USS Nelson Mandella*, conferring with Monarch Kalidon, and

will be resuming command of the Defiant by tomorrow. This concludes

my command of this mission. This is Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax

signing off.

Jadzia turned off the recorder and rubbed her eyes. She was feeling

very tired. For the first time in several days, she was finally

expecting to get a good night's sleep. Ben would be returning to the

ship very shortly, but he decided to let Jadzia handle one final order

of business.

The door chime rang.

"Come in," she said.

Ensign Tie Miri entered. She also looked very tired.

"You wanted to see me, Commander?" she asked.

"Yes Ensign," Jadzia said with a smile. "I've consulted with

Captain Sisko, and we have elected to keep some of your sensor

programs on file. We may find them useful at a later time."

"I'm glad I could be of service," Miri said with a tired smile.

"I've also received a directive from Starfleet Command," Jadzia added.

She reached behind her and pulled out a small, black box. "I've been

authorized to give you this." She then handed the box to Miri.

Miri timidly opened the small box, and saw a pair of Junior

Lieutenant's pips. Her face lit up.

"Congratulations, Lieutenant Tie," Jadzia said.

Jadzia slowly clipped the new pips onto Miri's collar.

"I assume you and Nedian will want to celebrate this later?" she

ribbed.

Miri blushed.

"Just remember to use the sound dampers," Jadzia added.

"I'd advise the same," Miri said back, smiling wryly. "Now that

Julian's aboard, and his ankle's better, he'll be wanting to count

your spots."

Jadzia laughed.

"And how many spots does Nedian have?" she ribbed again.

Miri put on a coy look.

"I don't know," she answered. "I always lose count... somewhere

around sixty-nine."

The next day, a crowd of hundreds gathered beneath the Monarch's

Terrace. Jadzia and Julian stood to Kareel's left, while Beverly stood

to Kareel's right, the Senator no longer wearing her trademark

jumpsuit, but the formal regalia of the Prime Minister, right down to

the green cape and ceremonial brooch. Nedian and Miri had decided to

mix in with the people below.

General Hurek solemnly put the cape and crown on Kalidon's head. "As

Protector of the Azure Throne, I now proclaim you Monarch Zaryl

Kalidon the First. May his reign finally bring justice, peace, and

growth."

He turned to the gathered people below. "All hail Monarch Zaryl

Kalidon the first, Ruler of the Azure Throne."

A ripple of polite, yet suspicious applause went through the crowd.

Kalidon noted the polite response. The line of Jarmalon had certainly

damaged the monarchy, and turned it into a power it shouldn't have

been. He spoke slowly, with a carefully measured tone.

"My father, great-uncle, and many others before them ruled Trillian in

the name of stability," he said. "But the price for that stability was

far too high. My father had always told me that the privileges and

honor of royalty, like the privilege and honor of Joining, came with

their own responsibilities. I believe that my father failed to heed

his own words, reaping the privileges that royalty and Joining gave

him, and neglecting his responsibility that comes with leadership. In

the end, he opted to rule by force, and by fear, so that he could

maintain his privilege."

He breathed hard.

"Believe me when I say that this practice ended with my father,"

he proclaimed. "Our world has been shattered, and it is time to

rebuild it. If you will have me as Monarch, I am prepared to begin

this process right now."

A murmur, and pockets of applause, went through the crowd.

He continued. "Senator Kareel Odan had been unjustly banished from

Trillian when she challenged my father. I have restored her to the

office she was meant to hold, the office of Prime Minister. We are

prepared to work together in order to repair the damage done to this

world, a world meant for Joined and Unjoined alike."

A wave of overwhelming approval swept through the crowd as Kareel

stepped forward, looking very regal herself in the regalia of Prime

Minister, the highest civilian post in the planetary government.

The crowd was looking to Kareel. "Speak! Speak!"

"We are no longer of two people," said Kareel. "But of one.

Monarch Jarmalon is gone, taking the old ways with him. We have a

chance to begin anew. Look to each other, Joined and Unjoined alike,

for you have much to teach each other."

"For millennia, we have taught ourselves that stability, the

*non-change* was what kept our society alive. What we lost in the

process was the truth. The Unjoined were taught not to value

themselves while the Joined were taught to value their Symbionts at

the expense of themselves. In the process, we have lost our love for

the most precious gifts of all -- the right to live..."

She paused.

"The right to live," Kareel said, "And the right to love each

other."

A man in the crowd shouted. "Here's to Life!"

"To Life!" the crowd shouted. Kareel and Kalidon looked to each

other. They each had more to say, but somehow, it seemed unnecessary.

Over the roar of the crowd, Jadzia kissed Julian close to his ear and

whispered. "I don't want to lose you again. I'm so sorry for turning

away."

"I'm sorry, too."

"Julian, *aslar Solan aslaran.*"

[Julian, I love you.]

Onyx eyes met sapphire, and there would be no turning back.

He answered her in Arabic.

"Jadzia..." he whispered. "Yaa habibi." [My love]

Their kiss was long and slow. There was no rush this time, no Teldar

Sobel to worry about, no threat of death looming over their heads, and

to hell with Trill and Earth.

The crowd below went wild as they witnessed the both of them. On a

planet where displays of emotion were to be subdued, and Joined and

Unjoined never were to speak, this was the most tangible sign of

emancipation. A human man, and a Joined woman in identical uniforms,

embracing for (literally) the whole world to see.

Kareel smiled as she watched. "Look at them, Beverly. So happy."

"Bring back any good memories?" Beverly asked, blue eyes sparkling.

"Almost like Luz and I -- a little younger, that's all."

"Oh, I wouldn't say that, Doctor Beverly," Kareel reminded her. "After

all, the Dax symbiont is a century older than Odan."

She then grinned.

The people in the street were dancing and cheering for joy.

People came out of shops to join in the celebration. Several street

performers started impromptu concerts, adding to the joyous madness of

it all.

Nedian and Miri stepped back from the crowd, but intently watched the

balcony. Miri turned to Nedian. "So how does Liberation Day feel?"

"Was it this crazy on Bajor?"

"No, it was worse. Remember that Bajorans are, above all, a passionate

people."

Nedian kissed her, then said. "I haven't forgotten."

**Captain's Log, USS Defiant. Stardate 49922.93 Benjamin Sisko

reporting. The *USS Nelson Mandella* and the *USS Matrix* have, by

order of the Federation Senate, placed Trill under martial law. This

is a sad day for the entire Federation, but it is especially trying on

those who have witnessed the collapse of their own homeworld. Perhaps,

though, it will serve as both a warning to others who believe they can

rule by fear forever, and as a wake-up call to the Federation that

perhaps all is not well in their ranks.

On a personal note, I find these events disturbingly similar to what

happened on Earth several months ago. Once again the Dominion was

blamed when our own fears and biases were the true enemy. I hope that

this incident will have taught us our lesson.**

They all sat glumly around the table. Two human doctors, one Bajoran,

and two Trills. The Defiant's officer's room was crowded and the seats

were less than comfortable, but that wasn't the reason behind the long

faces.

"I've read your report, Dax," said Sisko. "I put the *Mandella's*

engineering team to work repairing the warp drive so we can make the

other repairs at the Moose Jaw repair facilities."

"What did they say at the Senate?" asked Julian.

"The Federation Senate has agreed to let Starfleet operate under

martial law for the time being. They have even decided to send in

Federation Mediator Riva to settle the dispute between the League and

its supporters versus the Trill Government and Symbiosis Commission."

"Riva?" asked Beverly. "The Federation must be desperate to solve this

matter."

"What's the likely outcome?" asked Nedian. "I don't believe it will be

good."

"Hard to say right now," said Sisko. "All we can do now is hope.

Starfleet has reviewed your work here. I should inform you all that

Starfleet has awarded you the Federation Cross for your efforts during

this mission."

They all looked around the table. The Federation Cross was among

Starfleet's highest awards.

"We didn't do much deserving honor, Captain," said Julian. "Jadzia's

homeworld is ruined. That hardly warrants the Federation Cross."

"Perhaps not," Benjamin reminded the younger man, "But helping to

break down three thousand years of tyranny is."

Everyone cast uneasy glances at each other.

Benjamin settled back in his chair. "The Federation Senate has never

seen a scandal like this in its entire history. Trill's Federation

Membership has been suspended, and Starfleet is maintaining martial

law. From your report, it appears as though the entire planet is

facing a civil war."

Jadzia shook her head. "It will get a lot worse before it gets any

better. This uprising was just a sign of things to come. This has

been building for millennia. Now that the League has the full right

to broadcast, and they can get all the information they need, it will

only be a matter of time before the entire society I knew for

lifetimes collapses."

"I know," Sisko replied. "The Mandella's captain reports that over

twelve thousand Trill citizens have put in applications to leave their

homeworld and immigrate to other Federation planets. Almost half of

the refugees have applied to go to the Cervidae Alces system."

"A Trill colony on Moose Jaw?" Miri was amazed. "Chevitz has been

trying to recruit colonists for the project, but I never counted

on..." She stopped herself and looked to her Trill lover. "Sorry,

Ned."

"It's all right, Miri," he said.

Sisko got up, and pulled a mask down from his wall. He gazed at it for

a long time before speaking again. "This mask was made in South

Africa. Four hundred years ago, a racial minority discriminated

against the majority of the people. The system was called *aparthied.*

If you were part of the ruling class, you had the right to do as you

pleased. For the majority, however, *aparthied* meant little more

than slavery."

"How much of a minority was the ruling population?" asked Jadzia.

"Less than ten percent," Benjamin answered. "After a while, activists,

international pressure from other nation-states, a few of the more

liberal-minded of its ruling class, and its own injustice caused it to

cave in on itself. In the years afterwards, things were very unstable.

Eventually, however, it stabilized, and became part of the African

Union in 2050."

"One day, Jadzia," said Julian. "Trill will become part of the

Federation again. It will be a different world, but it will return to

the Federation."

"In the meantime," asked Beverly, "What will become of Odan and the

officers in the League?"

Sisko looked at her. "Monarch Kalidon has requested that she stay on

Trill and help him to draft the new Trill constitution with Riva. She

may be called back to Earth later to testify before the Senate." Sisko

turned away, his voice darkening. "As for Verad and Mareel, the

Betazoid Government has granted them political asylum and a full

pardon, compliments of Lwaxana Troi of the Fifth House." He put the

PADD in front of Julian and Jadzia. They picked it up and read the

information.

"Incredible," Julian said. "Just incredible."

"I protested the asylum," said Sisko. "All things considered."

Jadzia looked up. "At least on Betazed, he won't be a second-class

citizen, Benjamin. That was what he wanted all along."

Julian put down the PADD. "I don't believe him to be any sort of

danger to anyone else, sir. Not anymore." He smiled. "On Betazed,

he'll even be able to teach history."

"If there is nothing further," said Sisko. "This meeting is

dismissed."

Nedian interrupted. "Captain, I would like to beam down to the

planet's surface. I have an issue of personal business to attend to."

"So do I," Jadzia said timidly.

"At the conclusion of this shift, I can authorize a four-hour pass.

Will this be sufficient?"

"Yes, Captain," Nedian said.

Jadzia nodded silently.

Everyone started to get up and walk out of the room. Just as Julian

and Jadzia reached the door, Sisko looked up at them.

"Hold it. I have something else to say to the both of you."

They turned around. Julian asked, "What is it, sir?"

"How much leave time have the both of you accumulated?"

"Three months for me, about the same for him," Jadzia answered.

The captain was very stern. "I want the both of you to use some of it.

At least three week's worth."

Jadzia was puzzled. "Three weeks? Why?"

"The both of you have been through a lot recently. I want you both to

be able to relax and return to duty fresh, and..." He pulled out a

PADD from behind the table. "I'm glad to see the both of you are back

on good terms."

The picture was from the Federation News Services, a picture intended

for broadcast all over the known planets. The story covered the

uprising on Trill, and Kareel Odan's speech. The headline read, "Trill

Uprising Gives Way to Joyous Reunion and the Coronation of a Monarch."

The caption beneath the picture read, "Lt. Cmdr. Jadzia Dax of Trill,

and Dr. Julian Bashir of Earth Sharing a Public Moment of Private

Affection in the Wake of Monarch Kalidon's Coronation."

Julian blushed visibly, and Jadzia started laughing.

"Oh, dear," muttered Julian, trying really hard not to laugh.

"First, though," said Ben. "Admiral Chevitz has a special assignment

for you, Dax. It shouldn't take more than a week. The Defiant will be

returning to Deep Space Nine as soon as she's repaired, which should

be in two days. I'm afraid you'll come back with us, Doctor. It would

appear that Quark got his hand on some Regalian queeche juice which

was apparently tainted. The result has been an outbreak of dysentery."

Julian rolled his eyes. The blasted Ferengi never learned.

"As soon as Dax returns to Deep Space Nine, the both of you are to

take at least three weeks of leave. That is a direct order. And, in

the future, *try* to be a little more discreet. The both of you

*WERE* in uniform, after all. Dismissed."

Julian and Jadzia blushed, and walked out, very embarrassed. The door

closed behind them.

Benjamin looked to the door, then to the PADD. Picking it up, he

started laughing quietly.

Continued...

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

|Richard J. Pugh, MLS | Traveling Eternity Road, |

| RJPugh@ids.net | What will you find there? |

| RJPugh@aol.com | Carrying your heavy load, |

| PUGH.RICHARD@epamail.epa.gov | Searching to find, a peace of mind |

| http://www.ids.net/~rjpugh/ | - The Moody Blues |

+---------------------------------------------------------------------+

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From: rjpugh@ids.net (Richard J. Pugh)

Newsgroups: alt.startrek.creative

Subject: The First Tile - 19 (PG-13, DS9/TNG/Amagosa)

Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 02:12:21 GMT

Organization: Posted via CAIS Internet info@cais.com

Lines: 430

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NNTP-Posting-Host: va169.idsonline.com

X-Newsreader: Forte Free Agent 1.0.82

The First Tile

by Jessica M. Krucek and Richard J. Pugh

Chapter 19

Epilogue

Nedian Jarok sat silently in the main parlor of the Tieral clanstead,

watching the faces of his parents and brother in the firelight. Each

of them was looking at a PADD.

Alcot's face lost all expression as he put the PADD on the table

before him, and stoically watched the fire. Baran put the PADD down,

muttering a string of curses.

Alizia choked on a sob as she lowered her PADD. "My baby," she said.

"He killed my baby..."

She buried her head in Alcot's shoulder. Alcot continued to stare into

the fire.

Baran rose from his seat, and headed for the door.

"Baran?" asked Nedian, "Where are you going?"

"To write a letter," Baran answered quietly. "I'm withdrawing from the

Host Program."

Nedian wanted to go and talk his younger brother out of this, but...

"Where will you go?" he asked.

"There's an architecture institute on Earth," Baran answered. "I was

going to go there, after Joining - if I made it. Now?"

The young man sighed. "I may reapply later," Baran said. "When I'm

older, and more ready for it. Prime Minister Odan talks about how the

Joining should be later in life, anyhow. Right

now, I don't want anything to do with the Program. Not after reading

that."

Looking into Baran's contemplative face, Nedian realized that his

tag-along, hero- worshipping little brother was not quite unlike what

he was before he became Host to Jarok. He smiled. "Good luck, Baran."

Baran nodded coolly and walked out of the room.

Alcot was still staring at the fire, and Alizia was still sobbing.

"I..." Nedian admitted, "I came very close to killing Jarmalon when I

found out he had done this..." He looked up. "Miri stopped me."

Alcot finally spoke. "I'm glad she did," he said. "I'm glad Jarmalon

is still alive."

Nedian was puzzled for a moment as he looked at Alcot, a man who had

been Jarok's brother, son, and who was now his father. Alcot's face

had numerous lines of age, as he was now reaching seventy, whereas

Alizia wasn't yet fifty. Nedian could remember how opposed Nekita

initially was to the concept of her son marrying a woman almost twenty

years younger than he. Alizia was only a teenager, dropping out of the

Host program to marry him. Looking back, not even the part of him

that was still Nekita could argue. When he looked upon Alcot this

time, he didn't see Nedian's aged father, but Camon's quiet brother,

and Nekita's driven, fiercely intelligent son.

"I'm glad Jarmalon will live," Alcot clarified, "I'm glad he will

spend the rest of his life in a prison, eating meager food, surrounded

by cold walls, performing the same kind of labor many Unjoined spend

their entire working lives doing. I don't want him to get out. I want

him to spend the rest of his life remembering what he did to our

world, and when he dies, I hope that even the wind forsakes him. I say

that as a father, in the name of every other parent who will, or *has*

faced the same truth."

Alcot's words were soft, but the rage behind them was obvious in his

burning brown eyes.

Alcot nudged his wife upright, and whispered something to her. Alizia

nodded, and Alcot left the room.

As Nedian watched him leave, he wanted to say something, but what

*could* he say? He could remember how useless words were to the

Romulan parents who lost their children to that long-ago border war.

Alizia looked at him. "Where are you going now?" she asked him. "Now

that the Amagosa has been temporarily decommissioned?"

"Me?" Nedian said. "Well, I'm going to be the first officer on a

starbase in the Cervades Alces system."

Alizia smiled. "You realize that Camon never made it to first

officer?"

Nedian nodded. "His luck was cut short."

"I remember how pleased he was to hear that the Board approved you to

receive his Symbiont," Alizia said proudly. "He knew you would go on

to do great things."

Nedian blushed. "He and Nekita are difficult acts to follow," he

mused. "But, so far, neither seems to disapprove of what I've done."

Nedian looked at the fire, remembering the many hours he'd spent

staring into that same fireplace over many other lifetimes.

"Verad told me that Monarch Torvigan invented his clause as a

safeguard," Nedian said.

"What kind of safeguard?" Alizia asked.

"Torvigan believed that while Reassociation was a definite

psychological threat to the Symbiont, there should also be Joined

Trills who remained with the same family over time, so they could

better see the long term effects of social change, and how it changes

individual families and family groups."

"The Joined," he continued. "Aren't necessarily supposed to be the

rulers of Trill Society, but we are supposed to be the voice of

experience, contributing it and acquiring it, to help the rest of

society, and not just certain parts of it."

"And what has experience taught you, Jarok?" Alizia asked, addressing

the more ageless part of her son, the name that was part of him, and

eternally part of the Tieral clanstead.

"That friendships and love do matter," he answered. "That there are

more important things then social standing, civil obedience, and

outward appearance. That the individual, and the one life, does

matter. Those things will tear apart a society if they get neglected.

They almost ruined Trillian."

"Torvigan was a wise man, Nedian," Alizia said. "And we owe a lot to

him."

Alcot came back into the room, carrying a metal tube a half-meter

long. He sat on the couch and handed the tube to Nedian.

"Aylia made these."

Nedian pulled the cap off the tube and saw what was inside.

Silk-screen prints. Aylia was an artist, and this was her favorite

medium.

"I know how much you loved Aylia," Alcot said. "Which is why your

mother and I agreed that you should have them."

Nedian sealed the tube again.

"I'll cherish them," Nedian said. "As long as Jarok lives."

"Maybe you can stay for dinner?" asked Alizia. "Perhaps bring Miri

here to meet us under better circumstances?"

He checked his chronometer. He still had three hours on his pass. He

tapped his communicator.

"Jarok to Defiant..."

Half a world away, Jadzia wasn't wearing her uniform, opting for

plain, local clothes.

She walked down the street in one of Parsee's outlying districts.

Across it, she could see into her mother's jewelry store. No one had

recognized her, and that was a blessing. Upon arriving in her old home

neighborhood, Jadzia had tied a silk scarf around her head. Someone

would have to stare her in the face to recognize her.

At first sight, it almost seemed as if nothing had changed in this

neighborhood. Jadzia could see her mother chatting with a customer

inside the shop, as other merchants swept their porches or chatted

business. This district had seen little of the agora district's

violence, but the effect was obvious. Some walked around in a daze, as

if trying to decide what came next. The Joined who dared to venture

outside walked quickly, and looked around, fearing for their lives,

even though the presence of green-shirted Starfleet Marines deterred

further violence.

Jadzia swallowed hard as she looked at the flat above the store where

she lived with her family as a girl. Going home again was never

simple, and after one was Joined, it was considered almost a waste of

time. Still, Jadzia had to start figuring out who she was, now that

she knew what she wasn't. It was time to turn in the pawn ticket and

get her soul back from the Host Program, and getting to know one's

family all over again was usually a good place to start.

Her eyes settled on one person in particular, a woman trimming a hedge

near a stone statue in the center of the street. She was dark haired,

and bore a strong resemblance to Jadzia, but unlike Jadzia, her hair

was naturally curly. She had also put on quite a bit of weight,

probably due to the alcohol. Jadzia approached slowly.

"Kessa?" she asked.

The woman looked up. Her alabaster skin was dotted with broken blood

vessels, and her blue eyes were dull and bloodshot. Years of

frustration and alcohol had taken their toll. She squinted for a

moment, then started to stutter.

"Parent Dax... I'm..."

"Kessa, it's Jadzia. Always has been." She walked over to her cousin

and touched her face. "Gods, Kessa... What did I do to you?"

Kessa looked down. "You didn't do anything. Did it to myself. I'm not

worth much anymore."

Jadzia shook her head. "No, I'm the one who isn't worth anything. I

let myself get too far from home, and I let myself get caught up in it

all...Verad told me you still write poems."

She frowned. "Yeah. I gave them to a friend of mine who was with the

League. He sent me a note saying he liked them. No one wants the

poems, though."

"Kessa, I know people who would be glad to help you publish those

poems. Verad is not too free with praise. Believe me, I know."

Kessa chuckled. "You think so?"

"I know so. In fact, I'd like to get you in touch with the Pedington

School on Earth."

"They would take me? I'd be able to get off-planet?"

"You never know," Jadzia said. "Until you try."

Kessa paused, then fiercely embraced her cousin.

"I've missed you, Jadzia," she whispered. "And... I need some help."

They stood in silence for a moment. Kessa turned to the jewelry store.

"Hey, aunt Soolin! Guess who's here!"

The door to the jewelry store opened, and Jadzia's mother peered out.

The color vanished from her face for an instant, then quickly

returned.

"Winds!" Soolin exclaimed, "Well, don't just stand there, come

in!"

Kessa and Jadzia started towards the jewelry store.

In orbit above Trillian, Beverly settled back in her guest quarters.

The *Mandella* would be heading back to Earth within a half hour, and

she had no intention of missing her chance to be reunited with

Jean-Luc on the inspection tour of the Enterprise-E. She also wanted

to be there when Will Riker *finally* accepted his promotion to

Captain. His reluctance to accept a promotion had become somewhat of a

running joke among Starfleet officers, but if the reports were true,

then the joke had run its course.

The doorchime sounded. Beverly got up. Opening the door, she found

Kareel standing in the archway.

"I made a special trip here to say good-bye."

Beverly looked up. Kareel stood still, eyes warm and gentle, a small

smile on her face. It was almost like the day she'd been Joined. She

still wore the regalia of Prime Minister, but the more Beverly looked

at Kareel, the more she liked it.

"Thank you, Odan," the human doctor said.

Kareel nodded. "It's been good to see you again, Beverly.

I'm very sorry about the circumstances."

"I'm glad that you're all right. Things were a little scary at one

point."

"Yes, they were," Kareel admitted, Luz's gift for understatement

showing through. "I heard that the Enterprise-E being built," the

Trill woman said, understatement showing through again. "Is Picard

conducting the inspection tour?"

"Yes. I'm going to go to Earth and meet with him."

Kareel nodded and walked to the window, looking out on the darkness of

space.

"What's on your mind?" asked Beverly.

"A lot of things, Doctor Beverly. Good memories as well as bad ones."

"I'm sorry about your homeworld, Odan."

Her smile was now brilliant. "Don't be. I have you to thank for my

life many times over. And," Kareel said, "The next time you see him, I

want you to extend my thanks to William Riker.

Tell him I want to see him someday, seeing as he was left out of my

*zhan'tara.*"

Beverly giggled. "Oh, I'll tell him. He'll be shocked no doubt."

"No doubt." Kareel was now laughing.

Beverly became serious. "What will you do now?"

Kareel turned away and sighed. "I'm not very sure. The Trill refugees

coming to Moose Jaw will need all the help they can get starting a

colony, but Monarch Kalidon has offered me the position of Prime

Minister in the provisional government. My people need me, and I would

be happy to spend my days serving them. I will have to figure out for

myself which is the best way to do so."

There was a long silence. Kareel turned around, and gently brushed her

hand on Beverly's face. "I can't ever repay you, Doctor Beverly, and I

hope that in this life, that we can build a friendship. Anything else

would just be memories, and I don't care too much for some of those

memories."

Beverly touched Kareel's shoulder. "I would very much like that."

Kareel got a wry, Rikeresque smile on her face. "No regrets, then,

Doctor Beverly?"

"No regrets, Odan," Beverly said, hugging her new friend good-bye.

"None at all."

By the next day, the Defiant rested in orbit above Moose Jaw, while

repair crews fixed her damaged hull and engines, allowing the crew a

little rest and peace from the stresses of the mission.

Jadzia had bought herself a new keyboard. This type rolled up into a

small cylinder. At the moment, she had a PADD in front of her

containing some of Joran's composition fragments. Stringing them

together was actually a good distraction.

She hummed the tune as she tried to play it. "Three Beings," she was

calling it. She was on the last part of the piece, trying to play the

beginning of it.

Jadzia hit a sour note. The same point in the piece. None of the

notes seemed to fit. From that sour note, it degenerated into

disjointed notes and chaos.

She grew angry, and thumped her fist on the table.

The doorchime sounded. "Come in."

The door slid open and Nedian entered, carrying a sealed, silver tube.

"Working on the keyboard, I see. That upset?"

She leaned back. Her voice sounded old and tired. "I can't get it to

work, Nedian. I just can't finish it."

"Can't finish what?"

She shook her head. "Just some silly piece I'm working on. I've got

some of Joran's fragments here but..."

Nedian looked at the PADD, then down at the keyboard. "May I?"

"Sure," said Jadzia. She pressed a few buttons on the tiny control

panel, and the keyboard and all the keys turned black. Putting the

tube down, Nedian pressed the control panel, and selected "Romulan

Clavichord". The keyboard turned into an array of red and white keys.

He played through the tune fragments, stopping at the sour note. He

stood back.

"Hmmm..." he said. "Maybe you just have to live with the sour note."

Jadzia walked to the window and stared out at the stars.

Nedian came up behind her and also looked out into space. He pointed

to a bright star - Trillian.

"Let me bet," he said. "A lot of you is still there."

Jadzia nodded. When she blinked, Nedian caught a tear rolling down her

cheek.

"What did I do?" she asked. "I make a promise... take my oaths... work

for lifetimes to protect the life I just destroyed." Her voice was

quiet, and eerily distant. "I believed everything... in fact, part of

me still does. Now that it's all over... I'm not sure what I'm going

to do. You and Kareel seem so in control, like this didn't hurt you."

"Oh, it hurts, Jaz. Hurts like hell. But we knew what was best for

ourselves and our people. You could always puzzle out the latter, but

you're pretty dense on the former."

She turned to Nedian, shocked.

"Jaz, before you get on me about it, it's true. You've spent your life

getting from one stage to another. Candidate to Initiate, Initiate to

Joined. Ensign to Lieutenant, Lieutenant to Lieutenant Commander.

You've jumped through the necessary hoops, and never wonder whether

it's all worth it."

She shook her head. "I have, haven't I? Saying all those Oaths, and

not really thinking about what they mean, having all these lives and

memories inside me and not really knowing my place in it all." Jadzia

sighed. "Not wanting to accept the truth, even when it's staring me

blankly in the face."

Jadzia walked away from the window. "I never listened to myself. Too

busy listening to other people... other lives... didn't think I was a

priority."

"It's your life, Jaz," Nedian said. "You need to start realizing that.

Slow down a bit, think about who you are and what you want. You've

already made a start. You've got a home near Bajor, your rank, service

to Starfleet..."

"Friends like you," Jadzia interrupted.

"Friends like me..." Nedian joked. He opened the tube. "There's

something in here I'd like you to have." He pulled out a silk-screen

print from the tube. Jadzia took the print and examined it. The small

caption read "Rajik and Elona."

Rajik and Elona, considered minor members of the Trill pantheon, were

the twin gods of law, justice, and debate. They were connected at the

hip from birth. Rajik was Joined, but his sister Elona was not. They

were mediators, judges, and negotiators, settling disputes between the

various Gods and mortals, always finding a solution that benefited

Joined and Unjoined equally. They were held up as a symbol that one

caste could not survive without the other. Over many centuries, the

Legends of Rajik and Elona were passed over or ignored by the

Commission, but they never were too successful in destroying their

influence.

"They were Aylia's favorite Legends," Nedian said. "She always liked

the idea of Gods that did something other than meekly serve or harshly

condemn. Part of the group going to Moose Jaw is a sub-cult of theirs

that had been operating with the League. Joa was their Priestess."

"Ned, I can't take this. It was made by your sister, and..."

"Jaz, it's all right," Nedian said. "Aylia gave me one just like it

before I left for Starfleet Academy. On those rare occasions I pray to

the Trill Gods, I put that scrim on my wall. I never went in for the

statues, as the clan, and Jarok, have always been somewhat agnostic."

Jadzia shrugged. "I went a little crazy and broke mine."

"Well," said Nedian, "Now you have this."

Walking over to where the makeshift altar used to be - the copper lamp

was the only thing remaining, Nedian fastened the silk-screen to the

wall. Rajik and Elona were now watching over Jadzia.

She admired the artwork for a moment.

"Ned?" Jadzia asked timidly, "I know that you were never selected for

the *j'fall'an,*" she said, "but if you had been, and..." She paused.

"If it had been with me," she finally said, "would you have gone

through with it?"

Nedian thought for several moments.

"If I had been selected for the *j'fall'an,*" he said softly, "My life

would be so different from what I have now that *nothing* would be the

same. But, if I had to be placed in an arranged marriage," he said

quietly, "I would rather it be with my best friend than with someone I

hardly know." He smiled.

"I feel the same way," Jadzia said with a big smile. The two friends

then embraced for a moment. People had once said that theirs was

almost a brother and sister relationship as opposed to two friends.

They didn't care what other people called it.

"Now," Nedian said, his face stern, "You get your sweet little ass

down to medical and work things out with that doctor of yours."

"Aw, but daddy," she mocked, imitating a little girl.

Nedian poked her gently, directing her out of the room.

* * * *

Later, in the Moose Jaw starfleet complex...

Nedian took off the pledge bracelet and put it on the nightstand. He

and Miri's temporary quarters in the Moose Jaw compound still lacked

in aesthetic value, but coming from Trill, where outer beauty only hid

deception, a littler honest ugliness was a welcome sight.

He slid under the covers with Miri. She was looking at a technical

schematic of a Kerrigan-Class space station.

"Deep Space Twelve," said Nedian, looking at the image. "Home Sweet

Home."

Miri sighed. "Isn't that the truth." She turned off the PADD and put

it on the nightstand next to her earring. She stared at the ceiling

for a moment, then turned to Nedian. "Ned?"

"Hmm?"

"You know that if you stay with me, you probably won't ever be able to

return to Trill."

"So what?"

Miri turned to him, stunned. "Nedian! I know how serious exile can be.

Even though Kalidon pardoned you, there will be a lot of Trills who

only see you as either Joined, or a traitor. A traitor who ran off

with another traitor."

He put a finger to her lips. "Don't start with the traitor stuff

again, Miri. You and I have been exiles for years now. I knew what I

was doing when I went after you on Risa. I knew what I was getting

into when I let myself fall in love with you on the Amagosa. I'll take

you over my homeworld any day."

"Are you sure?"

Nedian smiled wickedly. "I don't know, Miri. I'll tell you after we

test this bed."

Miri looked over to him, and burst out laughing. "You lecher! If I

could have a holo of your face right now!"

"Are we testing the bed or not?"

Miri reached down, past the ceremonial scar on Nedian's abdomen, and

started to tug on his shorts. "Ready to test maximum stress limits,

*Commander?*"

He snaked his arms around her and leaned in for a kiss, working off

her nightshirt in the process. "Ready when you are, *Lieutenant...*"

In a few more seconds, the shorts and nightshirt were in a forgotten

pile on the floor.

* * * *

Elsewhere in the compound, Julian had fallen asleep in Jadzia's arms.

Kareel's words echoed in her head. *They are beautiful creatures. More

complicated than they appear.*

His lanky frame was covered by the sheets, but the blankets had been

tossed off the bed in the throes of passion.

She pulled up the covers and pulled them around his shoulders. At

least he was a quiet sleeper. She smiled, thinking of how beautiful he

looked when he slept, almost like a small child, his dark hair tousled

into adorable ringlets. The closed eyes that, when open, revealed a

noble, gentle spirit.

Kareel had been right, at least about this human.

What directions she would go? How did Bajor become her home instead of

just a proving ground?

Too many questions, but there was no turning back, and only mild

regret. Nedian was right. She had made a start, and there was a long

struggle ahead. Still, the journey was easier now that she *could*

stop lying to herself, and actually enjoy her life, and those who were

part of it.

As for Julian, she still had her doubts. Would this work? Would they

eventually find the kind of happiness Nedian and Miri shared, or would

this also collapse?

Were they meant to be mates? Would they drift apart again, never to

reconcile? Or, maybe they would, somewhere along the line, abandon

the physical aspect of their love, and become something more than

lovers or friends.

It was too soon to tell, and after a few seconds she decided that it

didn't really matter, at least not now. He loved her, she loved him,

and her own demons would never come between them again. Time would

decide. Not Trillian, not Earth, and not even Starfleet. Time, and

nothing else.

Jadzia closed her eyes and snuggled next to him, a smile on her lips.

The End

{The First Tile}