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Near Death Experiences

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Disclaimer: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine belongs to Paramount, UPN, and its producers and creators. None of the characters that appear here
are mine except for the handful of ensigns. Note: written as rather belated response to philomytha's request in the 2014 Trick or Treat Exchange.

 

"Near Death Experiences" by Karrenia_Rune

 

The notion that the station had once been designed by its former occupants as a mining facility was not lost on anyone, and the current occupants never really had done much in the way of covering over the scars of such a function, at least in terms of aesthetics. Not that aesthetics were much on the mind of most residents these days at least when came to the unused and mostly functional areas of the station.
Quark’s casino, bar and holo-suites might be an exception to that rule but then that was Quark’s for you, if there was a facility that matched its owner personality and style and dress it was Quark’s.

Still when the late shift engineers returned to submit their reports to Chief Miles O’Brien and told him that they heard noises that sounded like knocking inside of the walls, the Chief didn’t know quite what to make of it. The three Starfleet engineers and one Bajoran woman were solid, dependable, and not typically given to over-active imaginations.
So he’d laughed it off and went on with what he had to, and Lord knows, there was plenty of that to go around, sending them off with more tasks in more key areas of the station.

Several days elapsed, mostly in in a grey blur for Miles O’Brien, because the amount of retrofitting often did seem to be counterbalanced by the amount of sheer delight the Cardassia-desgined systems seemed to delight in outpacing his attempts to make them line up with Federation technology. When he had any down-time he either went home to see Keiko and his family, or could be found down in Quark’s bar drinking with Julian Bashir or playing darts.

No further mention of the anomaly was made until a week later, when Julian, during a pause in their dart game, asked, “Miles, I’m reasonably certain it’s nothing serious but I’d like your input on this matter.”

“What are you talking about, Julian?”

“I was referring to several of your late shift engineers, Ensign Mendoza, Mikaela, and Mister Stafford have all been in the infirmary showing signs of dehydration, lack of sleep and sensitivity to light. I’ve treated them for all the above and recommended the usual regimen to combat the sleepless ness and dehydration, but I do have to wonder what’s cause the ocular phenomenon.”

Miles shook his head, trust Julian to use a ten cent word when a five cent one would do just as well, to borrow an Old Earth idiom, but soon latched on to the crucial part, “Light sensitivity?”

“Are they okay? Miles took great pride in his team and if something was wrong he’d best head it off as soon as possible. “What did they say?”

“Only that they’ve been avoiding a section of the station that’s rarely used, and in fact was more than likely gutted because it was once part of the old Cardassian mining systems.”

“Stands to reason,” nodded Miles, “go on.”

“And that they’ve heard a pounding sound like akin to someone knocking behind the walls. Stafford brought up some old Earth legend about gnome-like creatures called Tommyknockers.”

“What?”

“Supposed to be some kind of legendary creatures that lived below ground and help miners with deep underground ores or with cave-ins.”

“Sounds pretty far-fetched to me,” Miles replied, and then, yawned.

“That’s what I thought, too. At the time…”Julian trailed off, tilting his head at angle, as if thinking the matter over. “Have you experienced any symptoms, Miles?”

“No, no, not as such, but then I haven’t back that way. If you think there’s something to this, and by that I meant the ocular phenomenon, not the other legendary thing; I think we’d best report to it Captain Sisko.”

“Agreed,” said Julian, “and then picked up a handful of darts and eyeing the throwing distance between where he stood and the dart board on the wall across from where they stood.
___

Captain Sisko was not the type to hesitate when it came to making a decision and when both his Chief of Operations and his Chief Medical Officer had approached him with their concerns about what was going on in that rarely used section of the station he figured it was worth checking out.

To his surprise, the resident tailor and the only remaining Cardassian also requested to accompany a survey team. To Benjamin Sisko’s way of thinking that Garak asking to come along was damned odd, for one thing, how had he known what was going on? And for another, what did he know about the ocular and auditory phenomena?

Sisko would have dearly liked to get to the bottom of that particular conundrum by asking straight out, but doing so would only lead to rather circular and unhelpful conversation that Garak seemed to resort as a matter of course. Right now, Sisko simply didn’t have the time.

Garak walked in the middle of the scouting party, Constable Odo and Lieutenant Dad behind him, Dax had her tricorder out and was waving it around avidly, trying to decipher the faint, but gradually growing stronger energy readings the device was picking up.

Ensign Mendoza and the Bajoran engineer Mikaela in the middle and O’Brien and Doctor Bashir to either side of him.

“Is this the place?” asked Sisko.

“Yes, Sir,” replied Ensign Mendoza.

“Can you hear or see anything?” asked O’Brien.

Mendoza cocked his head to one side and then pulled ahead of the group to place his heads on the silvery-gray deck plating of the walls, moving his hands up and down the wall in an elliptical wave as if searching for either a pattern or sound wave that eluded the others. “It started almost five days ago, and we all heard it, sometimes louder, sometimes quieter, but it’s not the noise that bothers us, it’s the corpse-like light that emanates out of minute cracks in the deck plating. It’s like the Saint Elmo’s fire that mariners used to see at the end of the day out at sea.”
“I’ve heard of it,” Sisko nodded.

Garak cleared his throat and shifted his weight from one foot to the other.

Suddenly a loud crack echoed throughout the corridor in which they stood, startling everyone. Mendoza was thrown backwards to land on his rear against the far wall, dazed but unhurt.

“What the hell was that?” exclaimed O’Brien.

“I think we’re about to find out,” replied Dax calmly as she went over to help Mendoza to his feet, and Julian came over to run his medical tricorder over the engineer just in case, and then satisfied that the man would be all right, turned around to see what the source of that jarring sound had been.

He sucked in a deep lungful of station oxygen, and held it in for several minutes before he could let it out again in a whoosh.

Standing in a perhaps half-remembered posture of military bearing where several Cardassian soldiers and while that alone might have been reason enough for them to be alarming; that wasn’t the reason that those of the survey party that had phasers had them out and prepped.

No, it was the fact that these soldiers wore the uniform of soldiers that had been around during Bajoran Occupation, pale even by the standards of their people, a faint luminesce surrounded them; perhaps the source of the ocular phenomenon that the engineers had reported seeing.

Garak strode forward, “Captain, might I be so bold as to recommend finding a way to deal with this, ah, difficulty as quickly as possible.”

“What do you know about this?” Odo asked.

“Why, Constable, I know nothing certain, but I had heard rumors that this could be the possible.”

“What is he talking about?” Dax asked.

“I believe we are seeing what remains of Cardassian soldiers that were trapped inside the walls when Terrok Nor was abandoned. How or why they are uh being animated now is beyond me. But, rest assured, this is not a good thing. I stress again, not a good thing.”

“Who are you? What is your purpose on this station?” demanded Sisko.

The soldiers appeared disoriented and unfocused but suddenly, without the least sign of any kind of communication between the five of them; they surged forward in a phalanx attack formation, bladed, but rusty weapons drawn.

“Weird and getting weirder,” Ensign Stafford remarked to the group in general and fired off his phaser.

The other members of the group did the same and for while it seemed to slow them down; one of the glancing shouts took the leader in the chest and he toppled over, crashing into the one on his right sending both to crashing to the floor of the corridor. “Two down, three to go,” muttered Sisko.

“Sir, might I suggest getting past are walking anachronistic antagonists,” remarked Dax, and investigating whatever it is that’s causing them, to ah, manifest?”

“Good idea, Odo, Dax, O’Brien, get on it.”

Entering the hole in the deck plating the trio went in single-file, phasers in one hand and tricorders in the other, casting around in a three-hundred and sixty arc, the noise and thudding subsiding behind them.

“Ghosts, but pretty solid looking and hostile ghosts,” O’Brien remarked.

“Could it be some kind of radiation?” Odo suggested.

“I don’t think so, or our routine diagnostics and sensor sweeps would have detected it by now.” He shrugged, ‘but it’s possible we could have missed something.”

“Ghosts?” Dax asked.

“Kind of like unhomed spirits, spectral and paranormal phenomenon,” answered Miles O’Brien, adding, “not that I believe in that kind of stuff, despite the evidence. Do Trills believe in ghosts?”

“No, not so much,” replied Dax.

“Nor do I,” chimed in Odo,” but there is definitely something strange going on here. Garak said something about being sealed up in here.”

“So, what’s causing it?” exclaimed O’Brien, waving his hands in the air.

Odo emerged from another deeper section of interior with a small black box cradled in his arms. “Appears to be what remains of Cardassian war-ship and its putting out some kind of theta or perhaps chronotron energy readings. We won’t know more until we conduct a thorough investigation. However, I suggest we do that somewhere else than here.”

“Let’s get out of here,” agreed O’Brien,” hitting his com-badge, he said, “O’Brien to Sisko, “we’ve got something, and we’re coming out now. How are things on your end?”

“Situation has been contained,” replied Sisko over his own com-badge. “Good work. I for one will be interested to see what you found. Sisko out.”
***
In one of the science labs Dax stood at a table with gloves on, carefully picking apart the casing on the ‘black box, having negated the most of the dangers of of the radiation leaking through the cracks.
“However left this here definitely did not want this found.”

“Do you think it was the soldiers themselves who hid it?” asked Julian, lounging against one of the currently unoccupied work-benches.

“Possible, but why go to all the trouble and then wind up trapped in there with whatever data they wanted to hide?”

“Maybe they didn’t have to both hide the data and get off the station when everyone else pulled out,” suggested O’Brien who stood just to one side of Jadzia Dax.

“Hmm, what was so important. “Oh, my!” she suddenly exclaimed.

“What is it?” O’Brien asked worriedly.

“It’s just that it spiked,” she replied. “Strange as this may sound I don’t think that it was designed to reconstitute cellular data like we would use one of our transporters. I think that might have been simply a side-effect after decades of decomposition inside the bulkheads.

“What was it for?”

“Seems that they were attempting to reverse engineer some stolen cloaking technology that they ah ‘borrowed’ from the Romulans.”

“There had to have been better means of doing that even during the Occupation?” remarked Julian Bashir.

“Agreed, but the sticking behind this, Julian, is that they wanted to keep what they were doing a secret from Gul Dukat.”

“Cardassian intrigues make me head hurt,” complained Miles O’Brien. “Is there anything else you can tell us about this thing?”

“No, that’s about it. I might know more with further study, but it will be in my official report.

“If you don’t need me anymore, I’m headed off to bed,” said O’Brien. “Goodnight Jadzia, Julian.”

“Good night, Miles, sleep well,” she replied.

Julian left his post by the table and came to stand beside her, “Good work, Jadzia. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Good night, Julian.”