Reckoning and Reality Storms
Author's Notes: Thanks to Trisha of the DS9 Encyclopedia and Lexicon for giving me a copy of the Reckoning script ages ago for a project that didn't finish the way it was meant to. It came to much better use here. Also: thanks to Sara and Wolfen Moondaughter, to listening to the sticky question and offering advice.
Dedication: To all the brave men and women who have given their lives up for the cause of Space Exploration.
She-Will Walk/Walks/Has Walked-Alone, the one who would/is/has yet to be Sarah Sisko comes upon him suddenly, replacing the others he has yet to name, will name, has already named. He pinches his brow, and has to stop thinking for a moment. The time shifts uncertainly under his feet, or laps around him, above him like waves. He can feel it moving, uncontrollably, and he is losing his focus. He chooses a tense, and decides to stay with it, for clarity of thought. This makes it easier for him. He wonders, how many times has he done this already, how many more times will he do this?
She-Walks-Alone, his mother, steps closer, and around them, time ripples and solidifies and his discomfort is lessened. She is the only one who truly understands his confusion. "This is the most important part of our existence. It defines who we are, just as the game describes who you are." She moves from him, glides across the vast whiteness of the Celestial Temple. He follows her, until she stops, and gently pulls at the whiteness, revealing a thousand strands of milky silver. They writhe in her grasp gently, and she takes care not to tangle them further. He knows without question he would have never thought to examine the whiteness, and see the cords she held, had she not shown it to him.
"What is this?" He asks, reaching his hands out to grasp some of it.
"This is what makes up the game. Each represents a separate being, in the way you see them."
"It's time." He says, after a beat that could be eternity, neither a question nor an answer.
confirms, and releases her own strands, that gently, quickly, return to the
vast whiteness, the milky clouds of the temple. She looks at him expectantly,
waiting for him. He looks down at the strings in his grasp, and the complicated
inner tangles. Curious, he touches one of the knots and begins to unravel it.
Captain Benjamin Sisko stepped out of the turbolift as soon as its doors parted to reveal the wide expanse of the Promenade. A group of Bajorans-- mostly clerics from the station's temple, and a few of the very devout from the station, huddled in prayer around Winn. Odo was torn between watching them, and his flickering glances at the Major, who was still standing in the temple doorway, electric blue sparks spattering against the curve of the beam every few seconds. Sisko didn't allow himself any time to do the same, instead striding up to the Kai.
"Eminence," he murmurs.
She turned to greet him, gesturing to the flock of faithful to continue with their chanting prayer. "Emissary."
"You and these people-- you have to leave." He hoped he came off as concerned, but firm, but wasn't sure. This would most undoubtedly push Winn's buttons, but he had no choice.
"Emissary, we're offering prayers for the Prophet's victory."
He pushed down a sudden desire to sigh in desperation. "The Prophets will hear you no matter where you pray. It isn't safe for you to stay here."
Winn's face hardened, and Sisko knew she was going to be stubborn. As usual, for her. He thought back to Kira's conversation, and decided that if needed, he would force them to go. Speak on behalf of the Prophets. She spoke first."Then why haven't you left, Emissary? The Prophet said your task was done."
"I'm still the captain of this station, and I will do everything in my power to save it." He paused then, and lowered his voice, "Now, do I have to order you to go, or shall you?" The threat was an obvious one. She coolly turned away from him, and faced her flock of believers.
"Children, the Prophets
have heard our prayers. You must go." And with that, the Bajorans started
to stand, the younger ones helping the elderly out of their kneeling position.
Odo looked once more at Kira, then started to direct them to the crossway bridge,
as they were too large to fit into a turbolift. Winn waited until they had moved
on, and then began to speak to him. He interrupted.
"You too, Eminence. I doubt the Bajoran government would think highly of me if I allowed the Kai of Bajor to remain in harm's way."
"Be that as it may, but I am the Kai of Bajor. My duty is here, by the side of the Prophets." She drew herself up, and gave him a fierce glare, adjusting the hem of her golden robes. He could tell that there would be no arguing with her; and besides, she made an excellent point. Were it not for him, the Kai would be expected to handle this... situation.
He took a step back from her, thinking of a good way to phrase his agreement, when the station shuddered once more. The arcs of blue lightning around Major Kira rippled across the walls of the Promenade, and the Prophet opened her eyes. "Kosst Amojan has chosen its vessel." She-- for he couldn't help but think of it as a female-- turned her head to look at the upper level of the Promenade.
Sisko felt the blood drain from his face. His son stood on the upper level, peering down with a smug leer on his face. Jake's eyes shone, otherworldly, like the eyes of the possessed Major, and whips of red energy whirled and sparked around his body. The rest of the world seemed to fall away from him as his son opened his mouth, and a low, growling voice came out of it, only distantly recognizable. "Let it begin." With a rolling movement, he slid his body under the railing of the bridge, and landed on the ground in a crouch. His eyes never once left the sight of the Prophet/Kira.
Both Prophet and Pah'wraith strode confidently towards one another, and Sisko had to do something. His mind raced, thinking of the danger for his son, his flesh and blood. "No! Not my son. Take me instead."
Jake-- no, the Pah'wraith's lips turned upwards in that maniacal sneer. "Your Emissary-- his faith wavers." The Prophet said nothing, focusing her sight on Jake, and his helpless body, as a torrent of energy began to build around her. A few seconds later, she unleashed it, a thunderous current of blue energy, racing towards its target. Caught off guard, perhaps expecting more taunting before battle, the Pah'wraith recovered in time to send forth a matching beam of his own, glowing the color of hell's fire. And Benjamin Sisko found himself, the Emissary of all Bajor, powerless to stop it.
What little regard he had for his own safety took over, and he found himself backing away from the battle, although he couldn't tear his eyes from it. As he watched, he became vaguely aware of the Kai beside him. What seemed like hours passed, as the station began to buck under their feet, and he felt the artificial gravity net falter for the briefest of moments. The stream of blue energy from the Prophet expanded, pushing the Pah'wraith's further back. And barely, over the hum of energy and the rush of winds, he heard the turbolift doors shudder open.
The familiar voice of Dax rose above the din, "Ben! Worf's up in ops, we have the chroniton generator ready." He said nothing, unable to even look at her face. "Ben, we have to stop this! It's tearing the station apart. Just say the word." He could hear her anger at his decision, and almost nodded. 'If I just say the word,' he thought, 'all of this will be over, and Jake will be safe.'
Jadzia Dax did the unthinkable; she touched her commanding officer in a moment of crisis. All rules were out of the proverbial window at this point-- after all, insane alien forces were tearing apart the station. Her hand pressed his shoulder once more, urging him to just say anything, but he was too caught up in the battle going on behind her. "Ben?" She cried, exasperated and more than a little fearful.
He turned then, caught her in his own glances. "No," he forced out, and then in a rush, "The Prophets won't hurt Jake. I know it."
Eight lifetimes of disgust coiled in her belly, "That's your son out there!" Her voice was getting rough from shouting over the noise, but Dax pushed her forward, outraged at their friend. How could he chose the wormhole aliens over Jake? The little boy they had cradled, and sung ancient Trill tales to...
"I know," Ben said, painfully, then turned back to the battle, red and blue energy reflecting in the darks of his eyes. Dax didn't move, she stayed put, her hand on his shoulder. The red energy coursing out of Jake was already beginning to retreat, but at a painful cost. Kira's face was beginning to get distorted, and Dax saw a small trickle of blood begin to seep out of her nose. She had never looked so dangerously focused, and deadly. Dax glanced at Jake, but he was obscured by the energy beams. A transparent aluminum wall panel crumpled with a screech behind her. She felt her throat constrict, and then she heard a woman's voice.
"Commander, we should find a safer place to wait out the battle." Kai Winn. Of course she would be here. Dax nodded her assent, and gave a quick sweep for cover. Her eyes caught sight of one of the directory signs, its plexiglas panels already exploded out, looking quite lifeless. She moved closer to the Kai, close enough for her robes to brush against her jumpsuit uniform.
"Over there! Come on..." She pulled at Ben's arm once, but he didn't budge, so with a nervous look back she continued with Winn, to huddle behind the charred electronics. The wind pushed at them, and pulled at her legs, like she was struggling against great undertows of water. As she walked, she realized that it was now much too late for escape. The turbolifts weren't safe, and walking would take too much time. Either they would die here, or die out on the docking ring as they tried to get to a runabout. She only hoped the shields in Ops would offer Worf a better chance at survival.
Once behind the directory, the great sucking winds seemed to stop for them, although not the noise. Winn lowered herself to the floor, and she chose to crouch, for as much protection as the sign had to offer. Beside her, the Kai seemed to have lost her hat, and clutched her head under her arms, as if reliving some horrific Cardassian air raid of her past.
Below her feet, the station buckled again, and she hoped that at the very least, the hull would hold. Death by sudden loss of atmosphere wasn't one she looked forward to. No such luck it seemed, as the station kept rattling in death knells below her feet, and she wondered if this would be it for both of them, if she had failed in her duty as a host....
And then it stopped.
Ben clutched the wall in desperation as the battle roared on, and the Pah'wraith's energy beam grew less and less. Then, suddenly, Jake was enwrapped in the blue energy, which rippled violently over his body. A second later, the energy released him, flowing back to the Prophet. Jake crumpled to the floor, and Ben ran to him, feeling pieces of broken glass and plastics crunch under his boots.
"Jake!" He said, crouching next to him, his hands brushing his son's shoulder, as if to shake him. 'No, no, must be careful. He might have broken bones...' His hand traveled down Jake's arm, searching for his wrist. Finding it, he grasped it, feeling for his pulse. It had to be there....
The rational part of Ben Sisko, the part that made the snap decisions that made him a great captain, was the first to accept the truth.
Jake was dead.
He could barely hear himself, but he was sure he was screaming.
There were a few seconds of blissful quiet. Kai Winn raised her head, and asked, "What happened?" Dax opened her eyes. They were alive, and blissfully, mercifully, the station was in one piece.
Jadzia found her voice, "We're still here, so I'm guessing the Prophets won." And then the unearthly, horse cry of Ben replaced the wind and electricity for just a moment. Inside her, Dax wriggled in fear, and in grief. "Jake," she said, and then grabbed her phaser. Starfleet training took over, producing an effortless movement as she whipped around the shattered display and pointed her weapon at the Prophet.
Behind her, she could hear Winn scrabbling to her feet, but she didn't care. Her eyes focused on the Prophet, in Kira's stolen body. "What have you done?" She shouted, her thumb flicking the settings button as she tried to decide what to do now. Surely she couldn't hurt the Prophet with a measly phaser, and there was no way to tell if Ops was still functional. But the sleek weapon gave her confidence, and she strode forward a few steps, pointing it at the Prophet.
The Prophet slowly turned, and tilted its borrowed head, and Dax felt shock and power run through her body. It said nothing, so she continued. "Bring Jake back now. I've seen you destroy two thousand Dominion warships with the blink of an eye. I know you can. Do it." Her thumb settled on stun.
The Prophet looked impassively at her, as if she could see through her flesh and into every detail of her long life-span. Jadzia bit her lower lip, pressing on it with her teeth. "Answer me." She managed out, trying not to think of a Ben Sisko without Jake. He would cease to exist, and fade away like Curzon has feared so much after Wolf 359.
"Child, the Prophets
don't answer to you." Winn said. Dax ignored her, and kept her phaser aimed
squarely at Kira's body.
"The Sisko will know sorrow. This is his penance." The Prophet's voice proclaimed. So distant, so willing to pass judgment even on the favored; this was what made Jadzia renounce her own beliefs, despite the fact she had later become a host. It had chilled her to the bone when Ben had confided in her, but it rose up now like venom pumping through her veins.
"That's not fair, not to Ben and not to Jake. He asked you to save your own worshippers! He believed in you, trusted you to take care of his son." Her body was shaking with anger, and frustration, and truth be told, a bit of nerves. "Loving gods don't ask their believers to sacrifice their children. And they don't ask this of their Emissaries. Bring him back."
The Prophet tilted its head, as if actually considering her answer. She felt both her hearts race. The idea began to flash that maybe, just maybe she had gotten through to the mysterious being. Perhaps, just perhaps she had cheated death for both Ben and Jake. She briefly took her eyes off of Kira, and looked past her, to see Ben, looking right back. A painful fragment of himself, already she could see the world shrinking around him, until no matter where he went, he would exist here.
"This cannot be allowed. The game must be completed. Balance must be restored." Cold-hearted, and so calm to condemn others. She wondered how Kira could believe in such beings as gods.
"There must be another way." Both minds raced as one, struggling to find anything to offer in exchange. It was the memories of Curzon that suggested it first-- what the Prophet wanted was a blood price. Jadzia looked at Ben, as he knelt. She didn't take the time to consult, but it wasn't needed. "Take me instead."
Ben Sisko held the lifeless body of his son, and felt a shard of glass biting into his knee, but he couldn't look away from Dax. He knew he was memorizing this, as it was. The shattered glass, and the dull weight of Jake's body, still radiating heat from the battle. His son smelled a little of burnt plastics, of static electricity and sweat. The lights on the promenade flickered, as they had when he first stepped onto the station, from... yes, from that docking port, around the curve of Dax's shoulder. Behind her, the Kai of Bajor stood awestruck, and fearful. But Dax was fearless, as if that phaser she held (the latest model, he noted with a dull eye) would prove an effective weapon against a god.
It was hopeless, he wanted to tell her that. No matter how charming, or how skillful her negotiations were in the past, this was his penance to pay. The light of his life would be taken from him, in exchange for the chance for all of the quadrant to remain free. She was right; it wasn't fair. But life had never been fair before, and he didn't expect it to start now. Gods did not answer demands. He knew that now.
He would have feared for her, but all he felt was a dull ache.
"Take me instead." Her voice was very firm then, but fleeting. It was both an offering, and a command. A second passed by, and then a great breeze began to rustle the debris. Jadzia slumped the the floor amid the graceful fireworks of blue energy streaming out of Kira's body.
And in his arms, his son puffed the slightest bit of air, before coughing weakly and inhaling. "Jake. Jake," He asked, his voice hoarse and dry. A quick swallow, and then he repeated Jake's name, to be greeted with a slight flickering of his eyes, and the rise and fall of his chest.
"Hey. What happened?" He felt warmth pool uncomfortably around the rims of his eyes, and his vision went blurry as he tried to take it all in, all at once. He tried to think of something to say-- but found himself too tired, too accepting, to let anything other than tears flow.