Joined in Blood Part II
by Sylva Dax ﾩJuly 2004
A/N: I, of course, do not own any recognizable characters from the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine series and novels. All other characters are my own creation, many based on the avatars of my former fleet comrades, including my own: Sylva Dax. Reviews are most welcome.
She haunted his dreams. a she-demon, her eyes glittering with manic fire as she'd faced him across a viewscreen. He'd taunted her, asking if she'd die as easily as her gullible father. That was when he'd absolutely known that his ship was large enough to swat her pathetic little craft out of existence. But the Lightbearer's shields had been stronger than he anticipated, holding against his vessel's first salvo. The blasted ship then danced out of range. Darting in and out, its polaron torpedoes devoured his ship's shields, clearing the way for incisive lances of the smaller ship's diruptors.
Realizing that he was in danger of losing his ship, G'kirk had been forced to call in the four ships he'd had standing by in case the Lightbearer was not alone. Almost boxed in, the smaller ship shot forward on a collision course with his ship, disruptors blazing against his failing shields. At the last moment, the Lightbearer adjusted its trajectory downward, sparking against G'kirk's shields as it passed. If a well-timed torpedo from the lead backup ship hadn't penetrated the Lightbearer's shields at its weakest point, she might have gotten in the killing blow. Instead, the Lightbearer had continued passed his ship, using it as a shield while sealing its own breached hull with emergency shielding before cloaking and warping away.
Now, still smarting from his humiliating defeat at her hands, G'kirk could not dismiss Sylva Dax from his feral mind. Was she alive or dead? Her continued silence since the battle was promising but not enough. Besides, the more he thought of it, the more he realized he wanted the Klingon alive.
"You know nothing of Klingons!"
"And you do?" Jovren retorted. "A few months joined to Dax and you are ready to marry one? Sevren, think this thing through!" Jovren implored, siezing his younger brother by his broad shoulders.
Shaking his brother off, Sevren distanced himself from Jovren. "Is this why you came all the way to Qo'noS? To stop me from marrying J'hler. Why don't you rip Dax from me while you're at it?"
Jovren was silent for a moment. "I know you both traveled here on the Defiant-"
"Lightbearer," Sevren corrected.
Nodding impatiently, Jovren continued, "And I'll admit there is a savage beauty about her. Did you-? Sevren, are you being forced to marry her?"
Sevren Dax sent his brother back to Trill with a swift punch to the jaw. They didn't speak to each other again until years later when Sevren sent a 10-year old Sylva to Trill to attend school. Her disruptive behavior led to the next confrontation between brothers.
"Did you really think Sylva would fit in at a Trill school? Any fool could see that she's too much a Klingon to appreciate our ways," Jovren told his brother when the two inadvertently found themselves alone together.
Resentment suffused Sevren as his brother's words came perilously close to echoing J'hler's objection when he had first suggested sending their daughter to Trill.
"Is it wrong for a child to know both sides of her heritage? Sylva was proud of her mixed blood before she came here." Sevren closed the gap between himself and the brother he'd once been so close to. "What happened to change that?" he growled.
"Nothing," Jovren answered, dismissing the taunts of her peers that drove the proud adolescent to lash out or the frequent lectures on acceptable Trill behavior she'd received from him and a few of her teachers. He moved away before adding, "Face it, Sevren: You can't have it all. You married a Klingon and your daughter is Klingon. She will never be anything more."
Sevren Dax walked away without answering. It was the last time the brothers ever saw each other.
Jovren. Of all the people to be the first to greet her upon her return to Trill, he was the least welcome. But there he stood beside Danon Tir, the one teacher who had appeared to understand her.
Finally, the transporter beam released her. Danon Tir stepped forward with outstretched arms. "Welcome back to Trill, Sylva Dax," he said, the slightest of hesitations with her name.
"Danon Tir," Sylva said, clasping his outstretched arms briefly. "I am pleased to be met by such an old friend," Dax continued, ignoring Jovren's awkward presence.
"Perhaps you will be even more pleased to know that I have been assigned as your primary counselor," Tir said, smiling until he saw a mark on her face. "Sylva, have you been fighting? That is a bite mark."
Thinking of the biter and the promises between them, Sylva smiled. "I am betrothed," she said, taking a perverse pleasure in Jovren's discomfiture.
"Oh, I see," Tir responded, blushing slightly. "I look forward to discussing it with you."
"Sylva," Jovren started, refusing to be ignored any longer. "You have grown as lovely as your mother."
"In a savage sort of way?" she prompted, unable to leave the past alone. To her satisfaction, Jovren flinched. "Why are you here, Jovren?" Dax asked, Sevren Dax's hurt evident in her voice.
Stepping in to diffuse the situation, Tir explained, "Sylva, your grandparents would like for you to stay with them rather than here at the Institute. Your uncle has come to take you to them."
"It would be better if I stay here," Sylva protested.
"Please," Jovren said, stepping towards her. "It would mean a great deal to them. Sevren's death has hit them hard. It hit us all hard."
Sylva Dax was silent for a moment as she regarded the man who was the first to ever make her feel as though she were less than she was. No matter how she felt about Jovren, and she wasn't sure how she actually felt, she could not punish her grandparents because of him. She had not seen them since their one and only trip to the Empire about a year before she entered the academy. She was very fond of them.
"Very well. For their sake, I will do as they ask," she finally agreed. She was surprised by the sudden longing she had to see Sevren's parents again.
Once again, Sylva found herself staying in her father's old room. She revisited Sevren's youth through Dax's shared memories and through her father's old journals, buried and forgotten within the bowels of his personal computer. Using long-forgotten access codes, she retrieved and read her father's journals.
Sevren had been adventurous to a fault as a boy. When he wasn't pursuing an adventure, he was reading about one. He'd read Jake Sisko's fantastic tales about a band of mercernaries in the Gamma quadrant that warped from adventure to adventure in a mysterious living ship so often he'd nearly memorized them.
As the months passed, Sylva became a favorite with her younger cousins who insisted upon tale after tale of Sevren's and Avenger's adventures in the Empire. Her daily workout became a group activity, with Sylva teaching the rudiments of Mok'bara to her cousins. To her surprise, the time spent with her Trill relatives proved to be as therapeutic as her hours with the counselors at the Institute.
Gradually, through various exercises, Sylva found a tolerable balance between herself and the combined lives of Dax's previous hosts. The hardest thing she was just starting to come to grips with was Dax's guilt.
Sevren Dax had lain on the operating table in the sickbay of the heavily-damaged Lightbearer, a prisoner of his dying body, unable to convey to his best friend, Dr. Julius Barlow, Dax's horrified refusal to be joined with daughter Sylva. Recalling Ezri's struggles to reclaim the reigns of her practically stolen life, Dax preferred death to the torment his daughter would be put through.
Knowing all that Sylva had been forced to deal with upon joining with Dax, including the inheritance of her father's captaincy, her counselors were amazed that she'd remained sane. Ironically, the one thing that had helped her hold onto her sanity was also a contributor to her ultimate breakdown. Her blood oath against G'kirk not only kept Sylva focused enough to hold onto her identity but also fed her mounting anger.
Sylva paced within the confines of her room, upset by Damon Tir's probing observations about her strained relationship with Jovren. Sevren had never spoken to anyone about the wound his brother's disapproval had carved in his heart. J'hler and Julius had quickly learned to avoid mentioning Jovren's name. Sylva had had her own reasons for not discussing Jovren. She had been relieved when he had not accompanied her grandparents on their one visit to Qo'Nos.
Now, as Sylva Dax, Sevren's pain coalesced with hers. The sight of Jovren affronted her though he had been nothing but polite since her arrival. How could Tir expect her to put all that pain behind her?
After months of progress, she'd reached an impasse. The nightmares were mostly gone and the few she did have no longer robbed her of sleep. She'd recently undergone the ritual that brought a current host face to face with the symbiont's previous hosts via the borrowed bodies of volunteers. Finally, she stopped resisting their role in her new life as Dax's host.
Also, her night with Ghon had played a pivotal role in her recovery. The anger and remorse that had been Sevren Dax's and then Dax's alone had made the joining of a new host and symbiont a torturous thing. Ghon's acceptance that night was almost an absolution.
Unable to take the confines of her quarters any longer Sylva made her way to the pond behind her grandparent's home. Memories of Sevren and Jovren playing in the pond as boys haunted her. Jovren, coming to his impetuous brother's rescue time and again through the years. Acutely, she recalled Sevren's fear as he cradled his injured brother's head within a subturanean cave Sevren had wanted to explore. She felt Sevren's joy, tinged with disappointment, as the Starfleet cadet watched another stand by his brother when Jovren married Ludz Prim, a joined Trill. She recalled his surprise when he learned that Jovren would not become a joined Trill, a dream he'd professed since childhood. And she knew Sevren's regret when his return to Trill for training as a host candidate failed to bridge the gap that had grown between the brothers.
Sylva Dax's nostrils flared, the Klingon's keen sense of smell telling her she was no longer alone.
"Stay, Jovren," she commanded without turning, sensing his retreat. "We must talk."
"As you wish, niece," Jovren said, moving to stand beside her. He waited patiently as she stood silently searching for the right words.
"Sevren had everything," he answered, knowing what she asked. "I hadn't realized how much I had come to resent it. My marriage was in trouble and my political career had plateaued far from my goal." He reached out to his niece. "Sylva, I never set out to hurt my brother. Something just snapped when I saw him in his Starfleet finery, his wedding attended by dignitaries I'd once dreamed of working beside." Jovren paused in the explanation it was too late to give to his brother. "And he had Dax. He was joined, something I could no longer hope to be because of the accident. I blamed him in that moment for everything."
"The cave," Syva Dax mouthed in surprise. "Why was Sevren never told?"
Jovren had the grace to look sheepish when he answered, "I knew he would blame himself."
Dax just stared at Jovren. Years of pain and anger crumbled before such absurdity. Pivoting suddenly, Dax shoved Jovren into the pond just as a youthful Sevren would have done. She watched Jovren splutter and splash with hands on her hips, ignoring the outcry from the house in the distance.
"That was for my father," Sylva Dax explained. Stepping to the very edge of the pond, she extended a hand to Jovren who watched her warily from where he stood chest deep in water. Running feet thudded behind her. "Come, uncle, let me help you out. You are all wet."
For one brief moment Jovren considered yanking his niece into the water but thought better of it when he felt the strength of her grip. Instead, he clasped her hand and scrambled up the slippery embankment.
"Well done, niece." And with that he yanked her into a soggy embrace just as his three children, his father, and Damon Tir reached them.
"You have made great progress today," Tir commented as the happy ensemble headed back to the house.
"Woman, cease your torment of me. You have been gone too long," he implored her, only half jokingly. "bomDI' 'IwwIj qaqaw." His words, The memory of you sings in my blood, brought a smile to Sylva's lips. The message from her betrothed, one of two messages waiting for her on the terminal in her room, reached her through the cold vastness of space to warm her blood. "There are times I come close to disemboweling Maruk for that sleeping draft he gave you." A rakish grin stole across his face. "My men complain that I have become unbearable. They threaten to have Avenger drop me on Risa, but have no fear. I have made it plain enough that Trill holds the only cure." He leaned closer. "How do you fair, beloved? Are your grandfather's reports accurate? They had better be for I intend to commandeer the Lightbearer and fetch you home as soon as our current mission is completed.
"The Vengeance is heading to the outer rim. Slavers have been raiding our colonies and carrying off our people. The Lightbearer flies with us. I would that it were you by my side. For now, I must get some sleep. It will not do for me to doze in the midst of battle."
Sylva smiled to herself. The thought of going into battle by Ghon's side was stimulating. Oh, yes. She was more than ready to join her mighty warrior in battle and in other things. Even now her mother made preparations for their wedding.
J'hler, her mother. She recalled the first message she had received from her mother since her arrival on Trill. J'hler's strikingly handsome face had appeared on the screen. Sylva Dax had touched the screen, regret and love filling her as she'd beheld the beloved face of Dax's wife and Sylva's mother, the strain of the last few months evident. Sylva had been unable to put the memories of Jadzia and Sevren in proper perspective and had avoided contacting her mother and Worf, her great-grandfather, during her months' long pursuit of G'kirk. She would make things right between them when she returned.
"Greetings, daughter," her mother's image had said. "My father tells us he visited you last week. He tells us that you are doing well with your father's family." She'd paused. "Sevren would be pleased." Another pause. "The counselors told him that you are making great progress." Pause again. "Ghon came to see us when he returned. Grandfather and I had a very long talk with him." Her mother had smiled then. "I am very pleased, daughter. Hurry back to us."
That had been months ago. It was time to go home. Time to forge a new life with the legacy her father had bequeathed her. Her family - her Trill family - planned to journey to the Empire for her wedding with her grandfather, Ambassador Alexander Roshenko, and a number of Federation dignitaries.
Dignitaries! That was another thing she had had to adjust to. As a surviving "hero" of the Dominion War and one of the initial explorers of the Gamma quadrant, Dax was looked upon as a living legend. Fortunately, Sylva was a member of the exalted house of Martok, and had not always been able to escape the never-ending official functions diplomats and politicians were obligated to attend, often draggng their families with them for show. She could handle herself at the dinner table as ably as she handled a batleth or disruptor on the battlefield though her warrior heart chafed to escape. She would take pains to ensure that whatever offspring she and Ghon had would not be so put upon.
It had taken several days for Ghon's message to reach her. It was possible that Ghon and her ship, the Lightbearer, were enroute to Trill.
She had planned to open Ghon's message last but her mother's mention of him made Sylva impatient. She double-clicked and Ghon appeared on screen.
Still smiling, she opened Maruk's message, noting that it was dated several days after Ghon's last message.
Not bothering to close Maruk's message, Sylva rushed from her room. The family was still gathered in the common room, her two uncles and their families just preparing to depart for their own homes.
"I must call home immediately. Uncle Jovren, can you arrange it for me?" she asked the moment she entered the room.
Sylva's grandmother, for whom she was named, answered before her son could open his mouth. "Of course he can," she assured her. "What has happened?"
"Ghon was seriously injured rescuing children from slavers. He may not survive."
With the concern of the whole family focused on her, Sylva struggled to maintain her fragile composure. Expressions of sympathy and support washed over her. Hands clasped hers and arms pulled her into warm, comforting hugs. By Kahless! Something was wrong with her eyes. They stung. A hand persisted in rubbing and patting her back. Her grandmother.
"Sylva," Jovren called from his father's study. "The telecom operator is establishing a direct link to Qo'noS."
Alone in her grandfather's study, Sylva waited impatiently for the connection to be completed. She paced the length of the study until a holographic portrait captured her attention. It was her parents' wedding picture. A wistful smile stole across her face as she remembered the day.
Sevren Dax, dressed in his Starfleet dress uniform, nearly forgot to breathe as his bride took her place beside him in her crimson finery. Jules stood beside him. Just beyond J'hler, her parents, Ambassador Alexander Rozhenko and his wife, stood with her grandfather, Governor Worf. Starfleet brass stood with Klingon dignitaries, most notably the new chancellor of the Klingon Empire, Chadeech of the House of Montroq. Sevren saw only his bride.
Sylva spun and rushed to the desk monitor. The face on the screen was not her great-grandfather's.
"Mother," Sylva said in surprise, unable to stop herself from touching the screen. "I expected Great-grandfather."
J'hler immediately recognized her daughter's agitation. "He has gone to the medical center. The Vengeance arrived with Ghon a few hours ago. He has been in surgery for the last couple of hours."
"Thank you," Sylva said. There was so much more that she could have said, needed to say, but it would have to wait for a better time.
"What will you do?" her mother asked.
"I am coming home. Now."
J'hler visibly relaxed. "Good. Your great-grandfather will send a ship for you."
"Do we have any available ships in the Alpha quadrant? If not, I will take the first ship available to Starbase 24. I can be picked up from there."
"I will contact Grandfather's aide and have him locate the closest available ship to the base," J'hler said, pleased to be able to offer her daughter any assistance she could. "We will contact you with the information within the hour."
"Thank you, mother," Sylva replied. Before signing off, she added, "I have missed you."
J'hler touched the screen. "I know," she said with a mother's understanding.
The room was not large, just enough space for the high-tech workstation that faced a wall of monitors tuned into the happenings of the Alpha and Beta quadrants. A wealth of information passed through this network of intelligence gathering devices faster than most humanoid eyes could follow. Filters netted data with specific keywords and flagged them for attention.
Zeranna, a humanoid female of a species not native to the Alpha quadrant, watched her gang of mercenaries unwind after a very successful job. Once again, she'd worked out a lucrative and challenging deal for them. Through her leadership, the Terrorcons had amassed a small fortune within a relatively short time. Each Terrorcon bore her mark upon their necks: a bite mark made by her surprisingly long canines. With her bite, the alluring beauty bound each one to her with a toxin the females of her species produced in their saliva. She had done very well for herself since awakening in the Alpha quadrant.
Three years ago a private salvage crew found a derelict ship drifting perilously close to the Badlands near Bajoran space, its crew long dead and turned to dust. Searching the ship for anything of value, they discovered a stasis chamber in the center of a large room in the innermost part of the ship. Most of the consoles and machinery still functioned thanks to redundant maintenance and backup systems.
The stasis chamber remained operational also. Closer inspection revealed that the chamber's occupant had also survived the journey. Before they could decide the best way to proceed, the decision was taken out of their hands. Alarms went off in the room and lights on the stasis chamber began flashing in a repeated pattern. No longer considering the possible dangers locked within the chamber, the three friends worked frantically to rescue its occupant.
Zeranna smiled when she recalled the shock on the faces of her rescuers when they finally opened the lid of the stasis chamber and found her struggling against her bonds. The air pump that should have pumped fresh air into the chamber as soon as she was revived had failed. She had been encased from head to toe in a sensor net that monitored her vital signs. Carefully, the team cut the writhing figure from the net and wrapped her in a utility blanket before transferring her to their ship. By the time the ship had reached their base, all three were under her spell. They were the first of her gang. Still smiling, she returned to the heart of Zeranna's Lair: the control room.
She would soon be his. Nothing could have delighted him more. Well, not entirely true. He would have preferred to be the one to get her, to see her face when she realized that he had actually come for her personally and intended to draw out their time together for as long as she lasted. Alas, another would have that pleasure. He should have ordered the moment recorded. He sighed inwardly at the missed opportunity. It was too late. The team he had dispatched would be maintaining strict radio silence at this point in their mission. Knowing full well how he dealt with failure, his handpicked raiders would do nothing to jeopardize their objectives.
G'kirk returned his attention to the meeting progressing around him. Gronk was still whining about the losses he'd suffered because of the Klingons just as the others had. And, of course, all the blame was laid at G'kirk's feet. He regarded his so-called peers with contempt. They sounded more like Ferengi than the marauders they were purported to be. Finally, Gronk ceased his noise and accepted a flagon of Romulan ale from one of the scanitly-clad slave girls provided for their service by Malon, their host.
Malon sat up on his couch drawing every eye to him. He entered a few commands into the control panel that was built into the arm of the couch.
"I think we've heard enough," he growled. "You've all suffered losses recently at the hands of the Klingons. I certainly don't dispute the fact that G'kirk bears the responsibility for stirring them up." He looked around at all the expectant faces. To his credit, G'kirk remained expressionless, giving nothing away. "However, the responsibility for protecting your assets were your own. Prosperity and easy prey have made you all soft. Perhaps hunger will restore your edge."
Shock, disbelief, then anger appeared on the more expressive faces. Gronk merely looked resigned. G'kirk continued to watch Malon, not allowing the feeling of relief to take hold. Malon was always full of surprises.
"Now, as far as the Klingons go," he resumed. "It appears the absence of the female has cooled their ardor somewhat. Their top generals are willing to go back to the way things were before the Lightbearer incident provided we deliver into their hands 500 bars of gold pressed latinum."
Relief surged through G'kirk. For a moment he'd expected Malon to say they had demanded that he be delivered to them as Sylva Dax had so often demanded.
Gronk spoke up, "Five hundred bars is outrageous! We've lost enough with this foolishness. Nothing more will I give."
The other crimelords nodded their agreement with Gronk's words. Malon pressed a button on his control panel and a three-dimensional star chart appeared in the midst of the gathering.
"I have convinced the Klingons to take this property instead." A few more taps on his control panel caused the 3D map to shift focus then zoom in on a planetoid in a sector just within the Beta quadrant."
G'kirk could barely breathe. Rage coursed through him. It was all he could do to continue to sit upon his cushion when he desperately wanted to wrap his hands around Malon's neck. How had he pinpointed the one item that G'kirk had meticulously made insignificant in all reports.
"G'kirk, you owe me. They wanted you, but I convinced them that taking that ball of dirt from you would bring you close to ruin."
G'kirk barked with laughter at the irony.
"Remove her," G'kirk ordered, turning his back on the prone female body, shredded pieces of a Klingon uniform still clinging to her limbs.
Tar'vod swallowed hard as he passed G'kirk's guards who were busy carrying out the results of their master's tantrum. He doubted that G'kirk had vented enough of his anger to make him safe to approach. Of all the properties for Malon to have given to the Klingons. Perhaps Malon was shrewder than G'kirk thought. That little planet was rich in mineral resources, including trilithium. Much of G'kirk's assets had been sunk into preparing it for mining.
"My lord," Tar'vod started, alerting G'kirk to his presence.
"Did I send for you?" G'kirk demanded.
"No, sir!" Tar'vod responded.
"Then why are you here?"
"We just received the strike team's signal," Tar'vod reported.
Captain Boris Yelen of the passenger transport, The Kismet, turned from the huddle of frightened passengers to face the fierce Klingon warrior glowering at him and knew that she was their only hope.
His ship had gone to yellow alert the moment that the unidentified craft was detected on an intercept course. An attempt to hail the vessel revealed the distressing fact that communications was being jammed. Trying to outrun it was proving futile as it ate into their swifly dwindling lead. Though The Kismet's scanners had shown that they were well within the ship's weapon's range, the only thing their pursuer's had fired at them was a strange missile that burst against The Kismet's shields. Engineering's announcement that the shields were dissolving at the point of impact confirmed Yelen's fears. They were under attack by Orion pirates!
The Kismet sported two forward phasers that had served well in discouraging those looking for easy prey. Yelen had no illusions about their chances in a fire fight. The best he could hope for was to slow the pirates down long enough for his passengers to escape in the old runabout he used as a shuttle when transporters were not an option.
"You would ask me to run while others fight?" Sylva Dax asked in outrage. "You know nothing of Klingons!"
To Be Continued
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To Be Continued
To other stories