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Past Lives and Propaganda

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"Jadzia, do you still want this dress?" Kira Nerys asked.

"Which dress?" Jadzia Dax asked, in a muffled tone; her head and shoulders were hidden inside a large packing box. "Just a minute." After a few seconds, she emerged from the box, holding a grotesque china lamb and three antique paper books. "Oh, that one. Yes, it was Emony's. May as well keep it for another few decades." She shrugged. "My next female host can get rid of it if it doesn't fit."

Kira tucked the dress into Jadzia's large closet and made a show of forcing the door shut. "I'll bet Curzon said the exact same thing when he went through this stuff after his zhian'tara."

"Oh, Curzon was a terrible packrat. He kept everything. As you've seen." Jadzia rolled her eyes and glanced over at the waste-disposal chute, and both women burst into renewed giggles, remembering some of the things that had gone down it. "I have to admit," she said more seriously, "it's not always easy, going through previous hosts' possessions - remembering why Tobin or Emony or Audrid kept this or that around, realizing I'm not that person anymore. That I never will be again." She grinned. "But that's what the zhian'tara is for. I've integrated all my previous selves and become fully Jadzia Dax. Now I'm ready to go through..." she looked around and chuckled again... "this ridiculous amount of stuff. Thanks for helping me clear things out."

"Any time." Kira grinned back. "Really, it's not a problem. Where else could I take a brief introductory course on three hundred years of household furnishings?" She knelt down by another box, which appeared to be filled entirely with data sticks. "What are these - someone's old diaries?"

Jadzia giggled again. "Maybe they're the lost scrolls of Karnami-Walzoon. There could literally be anything in here; I don't remember everything I've collected in three hundred years. Let's take a look." She picked up one of the data sticks and dropped it into her tabletop reader.

A few clear notes of music rang out: ting, tang, ting, tong. Then a dignified male voice intoned solemnly, "Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages--"

Jadzia switched off the viewer, stifling a squeal of laughter. "I'd forgotten I even had these!" she giggled. "It's Curzon's collection of Federation propaganda tapes. They're only a few years old. He was collecting them for laughs - they're priceless, if you like that sort of thing. Look, they're all labeled!"

"Sort of," Kira observed. "This one says 'one-one-zero-zero-one-zero-zero-one'. But... I thought Federation cultures had 'advanced beyond watching viewscreen entertainments'?" Her voice was mock-snobbish, teasing.

"It's propaganda," Jadzia retorted. "It's aimed at backward cultures where they don't have our advanced tastes." This much she managed to say in a tone even more snobbish than Kira's, imitating the people who presumably inhabited Starfleet's Propaganda Ministry - then she dissolved in giggles again. "It really is just that bad, if I recall. Want to watch some while we work? They're a barrel of laughs."

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A sharp knock sounded on the door. "Lieutenant Dax?" It was Odo's voice. He sounded stern.

Kira and Jadzia squelched their shrieks of laughter and looked at each other a bit guiltily. "Disturbing the peace?" Jadzia suggested.

Kira shrugged. "Probably. Come in, Odo!" she called out gaily. "We were just saying someone ought to go get you." This was perfectly true.

The door slid open to reveal the slightly nonplussed Constable. "Major, Lieutenant," he said crisply, regaining his poise and nodding to each of them in turn. "I've been receiving reports of extremely loud noises on this floor--"

"We'll be quieter, Odo, really we will," Jadzia promised, a mischievous twinkle dancing in her eyes. "But it is lucky you happened along. We want to show you something."

"Please, Odo," Kira added. "It's amazing." She waved at the little desktop viewscreen, which showed a still image of lightning surrounding a few humans in Starfleet uniform.

Odo looked dubious, but he came in. "I can only stay a few minutes," he warned them.

"This won't take long," Jadzia told him. "It's just part of a Federation propaganda tape." She activated the viewer.

On the viewscreen, a disembodied head boomed, "Whoooo accepts my challenge? Whooo will it beee?"

The view changed to show the Starfleet humans and a group of three Ferengi, the latter cringing outrageously. One of the Ferengi stood up. "Himmm!" he exclaimed, pointing at the tallest human.

"Quark?!" Odo blurted. "Quark used to act in propaganda for the Federation?"

Kira nodded gleefully. "Isn't it glorious?"

Odo actually laughed - a rusty little chuckle that had seen far too little use. "It is indeed."