Disclaimer: The characters and universe of Star Trek belong to Paramount Pictures.

AU/DS9: It has been years since everyone left – Benjamin, Worf, O'Brian, Nog, Julian and Odo. But then why Kira kept dreaming of them being together? And most disturbingly she kept seeing Jadzia, an old man, and a young commander playing tongo.

Old Friends never leave: Part V

The Rio Grande exited warp inside a binary system. Nerys, at the helm, rechecked the coordinates but they were fine. Strangely though the database did not indicate the system was a binary one. Using the sensors, she indeed confirmed of the obvious fact. There was no illusion it was real.

The system itself had only four planets in rather close orbits of the two suns and according to the sensors they were all habitable. The coordinates she had pertained to the second planet that was class S but covered nicely with green all over. There was no sign at least from orbit of any oceans.

She directed the Rio Grande down towards the surface while refining the exact coordinates of the landing site she had on file. Having completed that part she finally had the right place to land. The ship gracefully passed through the layers and stood on the surface before a lush forest with odd lime leaves. The leaves themselves seemed to pulsate with the light of the sun.

Nerys scanned for life forms and found many but none that indicated another life form like her. She cursed under breath for listening to that stupid message from the past and Q. Speaking of Q she should have guessed he would send her on a wild goose chase. Of course, she could be wrong and the one that supposedly she had to meet was already her or was going to arrive soon so she left the ship.

The immediate area around her held no dangers as far as her tricoder could tell her. Her eyes scanned the area with curiosity nonetheless. She had been on many worlds but none as enticing as this one. There was some undefined feeling in the air that spelled calamity, peace and order and it was intoxicating.

In just a few paces, she felt younger, stronger and more vital than ever before. The rejuvenation she was getting from this place really had no description. She kept walking and enjoying the scenery around her. At one point, she even started running and taking off some of her clothing. The weather was perfect.

She lay on the ground. The grass was fresh and soft. Her eyes closed and she fell asleep. She did not dream that dream that has been haunting her for some time now. Instead the dream world took her back at her finest moments, her happiest moments. They weren't many but they were precious to her.

And then there was one that she had obviously forgotten. It was a long time ago when she was still with the resistance. They had tracked down a Kardassian Gul. He was surrounded by his usual guards but among them there was another and he was not Kardassian or Bajoran. He was human.

Nerys focused on the dream and it revealed more. At first she and her mates thought he was Starfleet but his unusual clothing indicated otherwise. He was from top to bottom in silver. A sparkling lime ring adorned his right hand. From her angle she could not see his face but his hair was blonde. He was tall, very tall much taller than Benjamin or Odo.

She remembered though his voice. It was unlike those of the Kardassians it was melodic and beautiful. He spoke firmly and the Kardassians had hard time contradicting him. At one point, they even backed away definitely scarred of the man before them.

She had always wondered why the Kardassians would be afraid of a single human until she met Benjamin and found out that the humans had hidden strength that shows only when necessary and then they are unstoppable. But that man was way more different. His strength seemed to come from everything around.

And it was then when everything went dark and she was back on the grass of the S class world. The suns were setting down as she opened her eyes. She was certain there was more to the dream or memory but she simply could not remember more. It was like someone had erected a solid wall.

Nerys stood up and returned to the ship. It was obvious that whoever she was supposed to meet will not come today. She closed the hatch, scanned the planet again and then went to bed.

The next morning the suns were high in the heavens when she woke up. Standing before the standard issue mirror Nerys gaped in disbelief. Years have faded away from her. She looked younger and she felt as such too. She had even to fix her clothing as it was no longer appropriate for her waist.

She moved to the controls and rescanned the planet. On the opposite side of her position she picked up another life form like her. Nerys started the preignition procedures and soon the Rio Grande was in the air. She quickly reached her new destination and landed the ship.

The view outside was different. Everything here seemed to be simply wrong. All around her, there was snow and though that is not something abnormal the snow itself seemed to be gleaming in silver. The trees, the bushes and even the grass shared the same quality. According to the scan, the life form was close by but she couldn't see anything.

She left the ship and kept scanning with her tricoder. It indicated the life form was just twenty meters away from her current position. She continued in that direction and reached the point but there was no one there. Frustrated she rechecked the readings and looked for interference but found none. Even more frustrated she sat on the ground. It did not feel wet or cold though on the contrary it was rather warm, which was impossible.

"Kira Nerys, child of Bajor!" A melodic voice filled the air and she recognized it. It was the same voice, the voice of last night's dream. "Life full of torment and pain, suffering caused of hatred, small moments of joy hard to come by. And yet here she is in the autumn gardens of Gallean, lord of life and forests."

Nerys looked for the source of the voice but did not find it. It actually seemed it was streaming from everywhere, vibrating in the air, coming with the wind.

"Who are you? Where are you?" She asked standing up. Looking all around her but nothing had changed. The view was still the same.

"What do you seek in the autumn gardens of Gallean, child of Bajor?" The question came through the ruffling of the leaves.

"I...uh..." Nerys was uncertain what to answer. Her dreams led her here, and Q, and a strange message from the past that apparently she made for herself. "I...um...'m not sure."

A faint but soft laughter filled the area around.

"Uncertainty does not become to a child of Bajor. Speak child!"

The voice was soft and firm, soothing but commanding.

"I...uh..." Nerys sighed lowering her gaze. "I guess it started with these odd dreams of friends long gone. And then..." She paused. The recall of the first moments when she started seeing their faces in the crowd was quite traumatic, shocking and embarrassing. "And then I started seeing their faces in the crowd. At first I thought I was losing my mind.

I asked the Prophets for guidance but none came. The only one that answered my call was ...well I don't know if you know him but everyone else in the galaxy calls him Q. He told me that sometimes, rare times, the universe answers all calls, all prayers, even those that aren't possible and then showed me the coordinates to this world.

And then I had a vision in the sanctum where we keep the Tear of the Prophets. It was the same as my dream. And then out of the blue, Vedek Neigh called and showed me a message from the past that apparently I have written to myself. The message directed me here and told me to look for the resident mystery who shall guide me to the aromatic meadow where all life and the rest coexist – in the plains of heart, hope, light and creation whatever that means."

The soft laughter filled in the air again though it gave her chills.

"The plains of heart, hope, light and creation, you say?" There was another burst of soft laughter. "So be it but are you, Child of Bajor, ready?"

"Ready for what?"

"For the journey,"

"There is a journey?"

"There is always a journey. There is always a path, a long, winding path before your feet to follow."

"Yeah, why not, I suppose!"

The soft laughter turned slightly to a sinister one and it felt like ice cubes down her spine.

"Did you give in to the faces in the crowd, child of Bajor?"


"Are you sure?"

"I'm, dammit." Nerys exclaimed. She was getting frustrated with all these questions that questioned her.

"Hum, we shall see."

A mist filled in the area around. Everything changed drastically and was replaced by the station. Nerys saw herself walking around the station and jumping every time she met someone.

With the passing days, it got worse. She had gotten afraid to speak to anyone for it could be one of her long gone friends until the day Q showed up. From this perspective, Q's kiss seemed even stranger but he was good Nerys had to give him at least that much.

She saw herself with Julian and Jane. Her face had been the only thing she had been unable to control. And Julian had seen it. Jane on the other hand had not been paying much attention on the contrary she seemed quite oblivious.

And then in the final days before she made her decision, she did indeed give in to the faces of the crowd. But it was not as brave as she thought at the time or as easy. Her face showed different grimaces every time she would speak with someone that bore the face of a friend long gone.

The vision blurred away and the silvery environment returned. The soft laughter had filled in the air again but it was warmer. "Hard lessons learnt you have Child of Bajor but ready for this journey you are not!"

"I need to see it through." Nerys protested and stammering added. "I can't live like that not knowing. It is torture."

"Life is indeed torture. It is meant to be this way."

"So I would see their faces anywhere I go, forever?"

"You think you can run from destiny, Child? Believe me no one can!"

"I don't have a destiny."

The laughter became more pronounced. "Everyone does, even me! We can run fast, farther, hide even, but it always catches up with us in the end. Some things you can avoid but others you can't no matter what you try.

Go home, Child of Bajor. Give in to the faces in the crowd. Fight it no more. It may sometimes be ridiculous or embarrassing, or even humiliating but it is a road you must walk and wait patiently."

"For what?"

"A sign,"

"How would I know it?"

"When the time is right, know it you shall! Now go, Child of Bajor!"

A mist filled in the area around again. And the only thing she could see was her ship. Sighing deeply, frustrated, she walked to her ship and ventured in. The engines roared and the ship lifted off leaving the autumn gardens of Gallean, lord of life and forests.

As the ship jumped into warp, a figure dressed from top to bottom in silver appeared on the silvery grass near the place Nerys had stood. His ice blue eyes turned to the sky and a smile appeared on his face.

"Until the day, we meet Child of Bajor!"

And then he vanished...

To be continued...

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