Following his run in with Dukat Jake spent the rest of the day locked in his quarters. He had changed the room’s security code, but given that it did not stop Dukat the first time Jake doubted it would a second time. However, he was hiding from Kira as much as he was from Dukat. Thankfully neither sought him out.
The only good news was that he had been allowed to contact his family that evening. The station was under a communications lockdown, most likely Weyoun’s way to maintain some control over the tablet situation, so he had to send a recorded message instead of speaking directly with them. He had given them the bare details so to avoid any censoring by Weyoun and had made sure to be upbeat and positive so not to worry Korena. After he sent it he had spent the rest of the time waiting for a reply, whether that was possible or not he was not sure.
The following day he continued to wait. He finally came to believe that he was unlikely to receive a reply so he ventured out of his quarters. There was only one place for him to go: Morn’s.
He sat at one of the more secluded tables on the upper level and had ordered through the waiter. He was avoiding Morn so to dodge the inevitable questions about his meeting with Kira. All he wanted to do was sit alone and not be disturbed.
Not long after Jake arrived Morn’s seemed to get its midday rush and the upper area was busy with people. The nearest table to him was taken by several Bajorans. He saw the recognition in their eyes, but apart from polite nods of acknowledgement they let him be.
As he sat alone with his thoughts parts of their conversation drifted into his ears through the noisy haze of the bar.
“...the ground tremors have levelled the town...”
“...floods have wiped out the entire crop...”
“...the waves wiped out three coastal townships along the west...”
“...they say it’s the worst storm to hit Ashalla in centuries. The damage is...”
Jake’s curiosity well and truly piqued, he grabbed the attention of the nearby Bajorans. “Sorry to eavesdrop, but is all that happening on Bajor?” he asked.
One of them nodded. “Yes, that and worse. All of the sudden it’s like the world decided to tear itself apart. Freak weather patterns, seismic activity on an unprecedented scale and scope, it’s just disastrous.”
“When did this all start?”
“Yesterday and no one knows why.”
Another Bajoran jumped in. “I heard from someone who serves on the station that they have detected unusual reading from the wormhole.” The Bajoran glanced around nervously. “Some believe that the Prophets are returning and they are angry at Bajor for something. The arrival of the Kai on the station last night has only added weight to those rumours that the terrible suffering on Bajor is their wrath.”
Jake thanked the Bajorans for their information and let them return to their conversation. His mind was racing with the revelation of this new coincidence. The day he had left the planet with the tablet was the same day these rumblings on Bajor and possibly the wormhole had begun. Nor could he ignore the inscription that Weyoun had revealed to him that seem to be now coming true.
One of Morn’s waiters appeared at Jake’s table.
“Morn sends his apologies, but he has again run out of root beer. He offers you the chance to go to the back and select from one of his personal blends to alleviate the offense this has created.”
Jake smiled at the waiter and thanked him. Given he had not ordered any more drinks it was a pretty clear signal that he had another meeting with his old friend. He briefly considered just leaving Morn’s, but knew that would only delay the meeting. As he stood he stole a glance at the Bajorans nearby and knew they would be commenting about the special treatment offered to the Son of the Emissary once he was out of earshot.
Morn was once again very apologetic as he let Jake into the back room. When he entered he looked around but did not see Kira.
“Have you heard what’s going on down on Bajor?” asked Kira appearing out of the shadows that Jake had sworn was empty when he looked a moment before.
“The extreme weather and earthquakes?”
“Yes. It all started after you were brought here. After the tablet left Bajor. It’s causing fluctuations in the wormhole that are impacting Bajor. ”
“I don’t see how you can draw that conclusion –”
“Still full of doubt, my child?”
Jake turned in surprise as Kai Winn also appeared from the shadows.
“Kai,” said Kira reverently. Kira had long been an opponent of Winn but it seemed that over the years this had faded as Kira seemed truly humbled by Winn’s presence.
“The Prophets have been angered by the Dominion’s claiming of their sacred tablet,” stated Winn.
“What harm could a stone tablet cause?” asked Jake.
“It is not just a stone tablet; it is a sacred gift from the Prophets. After all you’ve seen Jake why do you still doubt Their power?” asked Winn.
Jake waved the comment away and said, “Like you said, the Dominion has it. Go bother Weyoun.”
“I have, but he has not granted my request for the tablet to be immediately returned,”
“The longer this is drawn out the more people who will suffer and die on Bajor,” jumped in Kira. “Seventeen people alone died in your home province overnight.”
“Korena? Benny?” he asked suddenly panicked. The thought raced into his mind that the reason they had not responded to his message was because something truly horrible had happened to them.
“Your wife and son are fine, but with every moment that passes the more risk they’re in,” warned Kira. “Earthquakes and landslides are indiscriminate killers.”
“Weyoun said that the tests would take days.”
“That’s unacceptable. We need the tablet returned to Bajor now,” pointed out Kira vehemently. “I know this station well. It wouldn’t be a challenge to sneak into wherever the tablet is and steal it. I have a cell with me, we can blast our way out and our ship is fast and well-armed. We’ll make it to Bajor and through anyone who tries to stop us, including Bajoran Security.”
“You’d kill other Bajorans to do this?” asked Jake shocked.
“I would use my influence to try to avoid any additional Bajoran bloodshed,” added Winn with a supreme sense of calm. A look of sorrow came to Winn’s face as she continued, “However, if it does come to that there might be little I can do to avoid the loss of life.”
“The Dominion won’t take kindly to that. They could see it as an outright act of rebellion against them!” Weyoun’s words of warning of any defiance by Bajor flooded back and all Jake could see was Bajor aflame. “Even if you stop whatever is happening Bajor could still be destroyed.”
“What other choice do we have?” stated Kira aggressively. Jake saw in her eyes the same steely determination he had seen many times back when he was younger. He knew that Kira would go through with her plan, unless she had another option.
“I can try to get it back,” he blurted out.
“How would you do that, my child?” asked Winn.
Jake stammered for a moment, disbelief filled him that he was even suggesting this. “Weyoun gave me an open dinner invitation. I could take him up on his offer and try to convince him to return the tablet or move the testing to Bajor.”
Kai Winn and Kira looked at each other. Both silently communicating on the merits of Jake’s idea, Kira did not try to hide her uncertainty over Jake’s proposal.
“At least give me a chance,” he pleaded.
Winn nodded, surely and slowly, to Kira. It was a terribly long moment before Kira returned a short sharp nod to Winn.
Kira turned back to Jake. “I don’t think you’ll be able to convince Weyoun. People are suffering and dying down on Bajor,” Kira paused and cast her eyes to the floor. “But even this suffering would be less than that wrought by the Jem’Hadar if the Dominion sees fit to punish Bajor. You’ll have your chance.”
Jake yet out the breath he did not realise he had been holding as Kira gave her permission. So relieved with her decision was Jake that he almost missed the subtle look exchanged between Winn and Kira. It was a look of satisfaction. Jake was confused by this, then he realised that he had been played. They had used the old good cop, bad cop on him to get him to the point he was in now. Why else would they want to speak to him? Kira had no need to run her plan past him. In fact there was no reason she had not attempted it apart from the fact that she realised that there was still one avenue left to reclaim the tablet without violence.
“I cannot stress how important this is, my child,” said Winn. “The Reckoning must be brought about for the wellbeing and the future of Bajor.”
Jake shook his head at how easily he had been led to this position. How despite his previous assertions about taking no part in what was happening he now had ‘volunteered’ himself into the thick of it.
“This doesn’t mean I want any part of whatever is going on, is that clear? After this I’m done,” he forcefully stated, glaring at the two women.
Winn looked completely unfazed by his posturing and replied, “All we do is walk the path the Prophets lay out for us, my child. In the end our wants mean nothing in their grand designs.”
As Jake made his way through the dimly lit corridors of the station he started to regret his decision to further embroil himself in what was happening. Weyoun had been more than pleased when Jake contacted him to accept his dinner invitation. Jake had no wish to spend any more time than he had to with Weyoun. The sycophantic Vorta was not a person he cared for. Despite his misgivings he knew that he had to go through with it, the possibilities if he did not were too terrifying to contemplate.
His mind was elsewhere and when a figure seemed to just appear in front of him in a deserted corridor he nearly head-butted the ceiling in fright. He calmed down slightly when he saw Kira’s familiar face under the hood’s shadow.
“You nearly gave me a heart attack!” he growled lowly at her.
Kira just grinned mischievously. “There’s one last thing I have to tell you before you attend you dinner.”
Kira lifted his hand up and placed an object in it.
“What is this?” asked Jake looking at the small device.
“It’s a transponder. If you don’t think you can convince Weyoun to return the tablet, see if you can at least get a look at the tablet. Put this on it and we’ll be able to beam it from its location.”
“I’ve made preparations for the tablet’s escape and before you say anything, I’ve taken steps so that when they catch onto us they’ll think the tablet has left the system. The evidence will point towards my group stealing it and spiriting it away from the system.”
Kira had pre-empted his concern exactly. Once the tablet disappeared there would be only one culprit: the Bajorans. It could lead to a military response from the Jem’Hadar that would target Bajor and would no doubt lead to significant loss of life on the world. Jake considered asking Kira more about her plan but the less he knew the better. He just hoped that if it came to her backup plan that her precautions would be enough to spare Bajor.
Despite Kira’s efforts Jake could not rid himself of the anger he felt towards the older woman for entangling him in her plots. “Anything else? Would you like me to hack into the central computer, download fleet deployments and patrol schedules?” he said venomously.
“That would be nice,” replied Kira with a lopsided grin seemingly ignoring his tone.
Jake was not going to be that easily placated. However, getting into a heated argument with Kira now would not help him. Best thing to do would be to hurry along and get this business over as quickly as possible.
“How will I find you after I’ve finished with Weyoun?” Jake asked.
“I’ll be in the temple seeking guidance.” Kira clasped his hand in hers and squeezed lightly. “And asking the Prophets to watch over us all, even those who don’t accept them.”
Jake suppressed his frown as much as he could and replied, “I think whatever happens we’ll all be needing some luck.”
Kira gave his hand one last squeeze before heading off back the way she came.
Jake looked down at the device in his hand and mumbled, “I wish I spent some time playing with Bashir’s silly spy programs.”
With that Jake pocketed the device and went to attend what could be the most important dinner of his life.
As Jake came to a sudden and unexpected halt Dukat was quick to maintain his concealment. He had been following Jake since their first meeting in Jake’s quarters. Jake had hardly ventured beyond his quarters since then and when he did he simply went to the perpetually operating bar. Dukat had simply sat a few tables away from Jake and watched the human without his notice.
Dukat’s hard times had taught him some important lessons and skills. The most valuable was how to appear invisible. Dukat had spent time living on the streets, half drunk and half insane with anger and regret. It was there that he learnt how to avoid notice and scrutiny. Most chose to ignore those broken people that existed on the fringe of society. By using postures and mannerisms from that time Dukat could avoid attention by appearing to be, what was not too far from the truth, a pathetic shell of a man.
Jake had slipped off to the backroom of the bar during his visit. Unfortunately Dukat was unable to follow him. When Jake had left it was clear to Dukat that he had met with someone and that whatever went on it was now weighing on Jake’s mind. That same look had appeared on Jake’s face when left his quarters later that evening. Dukat consider it possible that Jake was going to meet with his secret contact again and followed him.
At first Dukat thought the shadowy figure who had intercepted Jake was who Jake was going to see, but it some became obvious that Jake had not expected to meet whoever this person was. If anything Jake seemed put out by this meeting and his ire was quite evident. Dukat immediately thought it was simply a pestering Bajoran who wanted something from him due to Jake being the son of their Emissary. The other person had handed Jake something, but Dukat was too far away to tell what it was.
The figure clasped Jake’s hand and Dukat could tell their conversation was over. He was readying himself to continue following Jake when the figure turned and headed back down the corridor they had appeared from. He froze as he caught a flash of the person’s face.
A sadistic smile creased his face as he hissed the person’s name, “Nerys.”
Jake headed away and Dukat silently and cautiously hurried down to the splitting corridor. He quickly shot a glance around the corner and saw the hooded figure he knew was Kira Nerys far down it. She turned to look back down it and Dukat quickly pulled himself out of sight. He waited a few seconds before slowly peeking around, just in time to see her turn a corner.
Adrenalin coursed through his veins as he travelled down the corridor as quickly as he could while maintaining as much silence as was possible. He reached the corner Kira had turned and braced up against it. He popped his head around and caught sight of the hooded Kira again. She was closer now and he wanted nothing less than to let out a roar and charge down the corridor like a madman, however he knew that Kira was far enough away to make her escape, or if she was armed she could kill him before he got close to her.
Patience was the answer. He had spent years hunting after Kira; he could wait a few minutes more before he struck.