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He frowned and wished he'd taken Dax up on her offer. He'dforgotten how cloyingly sweet the Kai owld be when she wantedsomeone's help. Biting his lip, he considered all she'd told him."So this plague," he said out loud, filling his office with hisvoice, "began with a bunch of replicators?""That's the information I've just received," Winn replied calmly."Mind you, these replicators were not distributed by thegovernment. They were obtained tbrough the most illegal ofchannels.""1n any case, you're saying that the disease has spread," thecaptain continued. "Apparently through the water supply, whensome of the dying animals polluted it."She nodded. "Apparently, yes.""And the whole population is threatened," he concluded."That's correct," the Kai replied. "Our immunologists tell us wecould face annihilation in a matter of weeks."She might as well have been talking about the weather in thecapital the day before. However, Sisko sensed an urgency in herthat she didn't normally display. The average Bajoran might nothave noticed it, but he did.The captain stroked his goatee. "I'm sorry, of course, that thishas happened. We'll help in any way we can."Winn smiled politely. "Good. I knew the Emissary would come toour aid. Otherwise, why would the Prophets have singled you out?"Sisko shifted in his chair. He'd never been comfortable with thereligious identity bestowed on him by the Bajorans.By all accounts, he'd been the first to communicate with thebeings they called the Prophets--the creators of the quadrant'sfirst stable wormhole--and certainly he'd made an interestingfirst contact. But by his reckoning, he was still just a man."Exactly what would you like us to do?" he asked.The Kai heaved a sigh. "There is so much that needs to be done, Ihardly know where to start. Of course, our main goal is toidentify the virus and devise a cure. No doubt, your Dr. Bashirhas more expertise in such matters than our simple Bajoranscientists.""Dr. Bashir is a brilliant man," the captain agreed. "Nonetheless, what you're asking for is a tall order, KaiWinn--especially within the time frame you've described."Winn shrugged. "If it was easy, Emissary, we would haveaccomplished it ourselves."Sisko grunted. "Yes, I suppose you would have. Very well, I'llget Bashir working on it. And Dax as well.""I am grateful," the Kai remarked. "And I am also relieved,because I know you will not fail me."He looked at her. "The Prophets told you this?"She returned the look. "Do you have any doubt of it?"The captain didn't answer her question. He simply said: "We'll doour best. Can I escort you back to your vessel?""That won't be necessary," Winn told him. "I know the way." Andwith that, she got up from her chair and exited his office.As he watched her go, he felt himself shiver. It was the way healways reacted when he brushed up against something slimy.Sisko tapped his communications badge, establishing a link withall the other badges on the station. "Major Kira, I need to seeyou. And bring Odo with you.""Is there a problem?" asked his first officer.The captain bit his lip again. "I'm afraid there is," he toldher. "I'll fill you in when I see you."A pause. "We'll be right there," Kira replied.Sisko shook his head. He wasn't looking forward to telling themajor that her whole race was in danger of extinction.The Bajorans had fought so hard--and endured much-to throw off the yoke of Cardassian rule. It would be a terrible and ironic shame if they were succumb to a vicious little bug.
Copyright © 1997 by Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, and Robert Greenberger