I woke up three days later in the Infirmary.
My first indication was
Julian running a Feinberger over my forehead.
"You, Commander Raymond, are an extremely lucky person," he said.
I blinked my eyes. "What happened?" I asked.
"The exhaustion of three days worth of no sleep caught up with you...you
passed out in your quarters. Good thing Chief O'Brien stopped by...but we
would have found you, anyway." He shut off the Feinberger and gave me a
"Oh, yeah, Chief O'Brien," I said. "I was supposed to go kayaking with
him...well, what's today?" I looked at a chronometer. "Three nights ago?"
"Yes, Charlie, three nights ago. Now, I'm giving you a direct order." He made
a note on a padd. "You are to take one of these before bed every night for the
next week." He showed me the padd.
"Julian, that's a prescription for a tranquilizer," I said.
"That's right," he said, a very serious tone in his voice. "Don't make me
relieve you of duty. We are working around the clock on Darian to try to
restore her to normal." He winked at me.
"Point taken, Doctor. Thank you," I said as I stood up...and nearly collapsed.
"Whoops! Guess I wasn't as strong as I thought!"
"I'll have one of the orderlies escort you back to your quarters." Julian
signalled for an orderly.
"Tell me, Julian," I said, my voice breaking. "How's Dari?"
"The same as she was when you brought her in...we've made some progress. Her
skin isn't as plastic as it was, but she's still...well, I'd like to say she's
in stasis, but I'm just not sure."
"When will you be taking her to a starbase?" I asked.
"Hopefully in a week," Julian said.
I put two and two together. "You sneaky devil!"
"Well, I can't have you calling at all hours to hear the same story you've
been hearing for the last few weeks. By the way, Captain Sisko wants you to
report to the Defiant when you're feeling better."
I brightened up. "Hell, I'm ready now!" I said...then nearly collapsed again.
"Well, maybe in a few hours," I grinned sheepishly. "Can I see Dari, just for
a few minutes, Julian?"
"I think I can allow that...or however long you need." He led me to the exam
table Dari had been lying on for the last
three weeks. She was still covered by a sheet, her eyes showing no expression,
her face still frozen in time, just as it had been on Duran 2. I touched her
hand...the skin surface was softer than three weeks ago, but still unable to
flex normally. Her joints were still as unmovable as before. I held her hand
for a while, feeling the coldness of her body. I looked at the medical
readout...it showed that, for the most part, she was dead or at least not
registering on the instruments. I felt a tear roll down my cheek as I bent to
kiss her, hoping somehow she could feel this, at least. As I stood up, I
looked at her face...still frozen in time.
"Do what you can, Julian," I said as I wiped my eyes. He put his hand on my
"We will restore her, Charlie...I promise you this!"
I was praying to the Prophets that Julian would keep his word.
"You are to take the Defiant to Duran 2 and recover
whatever equipment the
Jem'Hadar has left behind that wasn't destroyed in you initial assault on
their base," Captain Sisko said. I was sitting at the conference table
receiving a mission briefing. "Try to avoid any and all contact with the
Jem'Hadar, and return as soon as possible."
I looked at the padd. "Is this the most current activity report from the Duran
"As far as Starfleet Intelligence knows, and from what you were able to
provide...it's about 3 days old."
"You said that last time, Ben," I reminded him.
"And you found the Jem'Hadar base."
"And my fiancee' got zapped..." I stopped. "Sorry, Ben. I got carried away
"Don't let it happen again, Charlie," Sisko said in a very serious tone.
"I won't...how soon should we leave?"
"You know where the Defiant is docked...she's ready whenever you are."
I stood up. "I guess I'm ready right now."
"Well, get going, then. Dismissed!"
I turned to leave. As I got to the door, I turned again to face Captain Sisko.
"Thanks, Ben. I appreciate what you're doing for Dari."
Sisko nodded his head. I strode down the hall to the nearest turbolift.
"Defiant," I ordered. The computer beeped as the doors closed. The lift surged
through the shafts towards the starship. I exited the lift, and was met by
Colonel Kira Nerys and Lt. Commander Worf.
"Good morning, Commander Raymond," Col. Kira said. "I trust all is well with
"As well as can be expected, Colonel. Thank you for asking. Commander Worf, as
always, it's good to see you."
"The feeling is mutual, sir," the Klingon said. "Captain Sisko has ordered me
to turn over command of the Defiant to you until we return to the station."
"Your concern is noted, Commander. I trust you will assist me in any way
"Yes, sir," Worf said.
"Colonel," I turned to address Kira, "may I count on you, as well?"
"You sound as if this is your first time commanding a starship."
"Well, between you, me, and Worf...it is."
Worf and Kira looked at each other.
"For this ship...that is." I smiled.
Worf looked exasperated, as Kira returned my smile. "You just never stop, do
you, Commander?" she said to me.
"I always like to start my missions with a smile...gives crew morale a real
boost!" I said, as I turned to address Worf.
"Or, should we treat this as a glorious mission to ensure the dead a place in
"All missions should be treated as such, Commander Raymond," Worf said.
"Well, then, Commander, by the sword of Kahless, we shall honor the dead and
all who journey with us," I said in his native tongue.
"Glory to those who die in battle, and may their place in Sto-Vo-Kor be
assured!" he replied in Klingon.
"And, with that, let's be underway," I said, as I directed Kira and Worf
through the airlock.
We navigated the maze of corridors and turbolifts to the bridge of the
Defiant, and entered.
"Captain on the bridge," Ensign Nog said. Everyone came to attention. My rank
is officially "commander," but when you're in command, you're referred to as
"captain." I hoped I could make the honorary title more permanent.
"Thank you, Ensign, as you all were," I replied. "Our mission is a fairly
simple one...I hope." The tension broke with muffled chuckles. "We have to go
to Duran 2 and pick up some Jem'Hadar stuff that they have so carelessly left
behind." More chuckles. I continued. "On a personal note, you are all aware of
what has happened to Lt. Darian Connors. I wish I could say I'm all right with
this, but I'm not. I'm counting on all of you, and I mean all of you, to help
me out, and in return, I will help you out. Do we understand each other?"
There was a a chorus of "Yes, sirs" and "Aye, sirs" going through the room.
Somehow, all this support from my crewmates made me feel much better. "Can I
count on you?" I said. Another chorus of "Yes, sirs" and "Aye, sirs."
"Well, let's earn our pay, then. Stations, please." Everyone assumed their
respective station. Chief O'Brien looked at a display panel, Ensign Nog's
hands flew over the helm console, Worf checked the weapons, Kira activated
communications. Other officers went about their respective bridge duties, as I
eased myself into the command chair. I'm glad Ben insisted we put a
comfortable seat on the Defiant...it was downright cozy! I couldn't get too
comfortable, though...the hard part was coming up.
"Release docking clamps...thrusters to station-keeping."
"Docking clamps released, sir," Ensign Nog said. "Thrusters at station-
"Ease us out, Mr. Nog. 50 KPH."
The indicator on the command chair's display showed 50 KPH. "Very good, Mr.
Nog. As soon as we clear the station, ahead full impulse, until we are out of
the Bajoran system."
"Aye, sir," he said.
"Mr. O'Brien, warp drive?"
"Warp drive standing by...full power to all systems."
"You are just too efficient, Chief. Mr. Worf, weapons status?"
"Torpedoes and phasers standing by. Cloaking device online, and full power
available to all defensive systems."
"Sensors and communications are active and standing by," Kira said.
I looked at the viewscreen...Bajor was filling the view with it's blue-green
beauty. All I could see was our house on the southern continent...
"Sir, we are clearing the Bajoran system," Ensign Nog reported.
I broke my daydream. "Thank you, Ensign. Mr. O'Brien, I'm going to need
maximum warp...can you give it to me?"
"Yes, sir," he said, as he pressed a few controls. "Warp engines online."
"Mr. Nog, set course for Duran 2 and engage maximum warp on my mark," I said.
"Course set, sir," Nog said as he entered the co-ordinates.
"Make it happen, Mr. Nog...mark!"
The Defiant's warp core sent a raging current of matter and antimatter plasma
to the coils, bending space around the ship as the ship jumped to over 2000
times the speed of light. I've always loved to share the sight of watching the
ships I've served on go into warp with Dari. Something magical about how
physics get bent out of shape.
The colors...oh, the colors. Words haven't been invented yet to describe
the myriad of colors tha appear just as the ship approaches the threshold
between normal and warp space. After the barrier is penetrated...well, seems
rather anticlimactic. I checked the chronometer...1 hour and 17 minutes to the
Duran System. I stood up and walked over to Chief O'Brien's console, trying to
appear concerned, but mostly to take my mind off Dari's situation. I checked
all the stations on the bridge, then spoke to Worf.
"Commander, you have the bridge. I'll be in the mess hall."
"Aye, sir," was his reply as I exited the bridge. I walked down the corridor
to the turbolift, then noticed I was being followed by Chief O'Brien.
"Anything wrong, Chief?" I asked.
"No, nothing, sir. Just going to Engineering to service some plasma conduit."
The door slid open as we entered the turbolift. "Deck 6," I said.
"Main Engineering," the chief said. The turbolift began it's descent, as I
turned to him.
"Sorry I missed our kayak trip down the Salmon River," I started.
"That's all right, sir...I figured you were a little out of sorts," he
"Thanks for coming by, Miles. By the way, I think I know how you must have
felt when Keiko was taken over by that pa-wraith."
"You're right. Listen, don't worry about Lieutenant Connors, Charlie. Julian
will most likely have her back to normal before we return to the station," he
said. I hoped he was right.
"He's a good doctor...he has made a lot of progress in the last few weeks."
The turbolift stopped on Deck 6, letting me out. I turned to face Chief
O'Brien."You aren't really going to Engineering to service a conduit, are you,
Miles?" I asked.
"Well...no, sir." He looked at the floor, then looked at me, with a silly grin
on his face.
"Maybe you should be promoted to Ship's Counselor," I said, smiling.
Miles gave me that silly grin again. "No, thanks, Charlie. I like Engineering
better!" He stepped back into the lift to continue his task. I strode down the
corridor to the mess hall. I went to the replicator and ordered a raktajino.
One of the junior officers there handed me a datapadd for authorization of a
critical ship's function. I signed it, then went to the nearest viewport,
sipping the raktajino. Looking out into warp space was a thing to behold. The
colors are richer than seeing them on a viewscreen. Stars and planets take on
a whole different perspective...brilliant hues of green and blue, reds and
oranges, yellows, purples...even colors that have no names, but are still as
beautiful. Dari and I had served on the Enterprise-D before Wolf 359. There
were more than a few times we'd be in Ten Forward when the ship went into
"I want a ship like this one," she had said.
"I think Captain Picard might get a little pissed if you took his ship," I
"No, not this ship...one like it. The Templeton, or the Intrepid, or even the
"You just might get one, before you know it, Captain Connors!" I said.
"I like the sound of that...maybe even Captain Raymond!" she said.
"Is that a marriage proposal?" I asked.
"Well...maybe!" she said. "But, not right now...I like our relationship as it
It wasn't long before she was posted to the Templeton, about six weeks before
the Borg attacked the fleet at Wolf 359. I was rotated off the Enterprise
before then, as well, serving at Starfleet HQ. It wasn't long after the dust
had settled before we were able to send rescue ships to Wolf 359. I was sick
to death when I'd heard the Templeton was one of the first ships to intercept
the Borg cube...and one of the first to be destroyed. I very nearly stole a
runabout then, but I decided my Starfleet career was a little more important.
I was more than overjoyed when Admiral Necheyev assigned me to command the
rescue mission. I very nearly kissed her! She even promoted me on the spot to
Commander! Finally, a little more responsibility, and a chance to prove myself
to Starfleet one more time.
When we arrived at Wolf 359, the sight of broken starships and burning debris
was enough to make even the most hardened officer sick. We did recover
survivors...obviously, the Borg weren't interested in finshing the job. When
we came upon what was left of the Templeton, our scans showed no life forms
present...until the distress signal lit up our sensors. There was someone
alive in there...I had hoped it was Dari...turned out I was right. There were
other survivors with her, as well.
She spent six months in the hospital, literally being rebuilt and
"Commander Raymond, we're approaching the Duran System," Worf called over the
Had it really been over an hour? I took a sip of raktajino...it had gone cold.
"Acknowledged, Commander. Drop us out of warp, and activate the cloak. I'm on
my way," I said as I dropped the cup into the replicator. Arriving on the
bridge, Worf apprised me of our current status.
"We have dropped out of warp and engaged the cloak. Preparing to enter
standard orbit," he said.
I took the center seat. "Okay, people, let's look sharp. The Lochsa was jumped
by four fighters just as we entered orbit," I said. Worf went back to the
weapons console and brought our weapons online. This was a good move, but also
a bad one. Under cloak, we couldn't raise our shields, so we were essentially
vulnerable to attack.
"Nothing on long range or short range sensors, Commander," Col. Kira said.
The Defiant's sensors were hundreds of times more sensitive than the Lochsa's,
but still, a Jem'Hadar ship could sneak up on us. "Thank you, Colonel, but
still, keep your eyes peeled...they can still jump us when we're not looking,"
I said. "Mr. Nog, put us over the magnetic north pole, if you would, please,"
I ordered, as I turned to the Ferengi ensign.
"Aye, sir," he replied, fingers pressing the navigation controls. The
eased into a geosynchronous orbit over the magnetic pole of Duran 2. We all
held our breath.
"Sir, there is no detectable sensor activity from the surface," Worf said,
from Kira's console.
"Let's just hope so, Commander," I said to Worf. "Drop cloak."
The ship phased into existence from it's artificial invisibility. I can't
describe how I knew without looking at the displays...I have always known
where cloaked ships were, even those masked from sensors, as we were now.
"No Jem'Hadar activity within sensor range," Col. Kira said. She was getting
nervous, as we all were. The Jem'Hadar are awfully good at this cat-and-mouse
stuff. Worf went back to weapons, relieving the junior officer who was there.
"Should we raise our shields, sir?" he asked.
"Not yet, Commander," I said. "We'll wait five more minutes, then, Mr. Nog,
take us to these co-ordinates," I said, entering the position of the former
"Aye, sir," Nog said.
The next five minutes dragged by, seeming like five hours. I was fairly well
satisfied that the Jem'Hadar had, indeed, left this system, and was plotting
their "process" from another planet...or from the Gamma Quadrant.
Nog handled the ship with relative ease...we departed the magnetic pole and
parked directly over the co-ordinates of the former base. I checked the
display. "Within ½ meter, Mr. Nog? Excellent work!" I said. The young Ferengi
beamed. We wouldn't have to use so much transporter power to get to the
surface. I quickly got to work.
"Mr. Worf, assemble an Away Team. Colonel Kira, you have the bridge. If any
Jem'Hadar show up, don't be a hero, turn tail and haul ass to DS9...but bring
the cavalry when you come back."
"Aye, sir," was her reply. Worf, Chief O'Brien, two junior officers, and
myself left the bridge and went to the nearest transporter room. Worf passed
out phaser pistols and tricorders to everyone, Chief O'Brien manned the
transporter console. The chief seemed puzzled.
"I can't seem to get a good transporter lock on the co-ordinates, Commander
Raymond," he said. I checked the console. "Engage the remote pattern
enhancers...I had to use that function with the Lochsa," I said.
The chief pressed a few controls. "That's got it," he said.
We all stepped onto the transporter pad. "Chief, maintain a transporter lock
on us. And, I want you to have an armed team standing by...if we let out a
shout, I want people on the ground before the echo dies," I said. I wondered
where I'd heard that before...
"Aye, sir," he said. I'll just bet he really wanted to beam down with us.
"You can bring the team down yourself, Chief, should we need you."
"Thank you, sir," the chief replied. He pressed a few controls. "Ready for
I looked at the Away Team. Everyone nodded. "As ready as we'll ever be, Chief.
Energize!" I ordered.
Contrary to popular belief, what happens to a person inside the transporter
process is not what you'd call "all that great." Of course, everyone in the
Federation has experienced transporting in one form or another sometime in
their life. Starfleet officers use the transporter at least once per day, so
we're used to the process. In the old days, before
transporters were commonplace, a brief sensation of paralysis would overtake
one's body, preventing them from moving around in the matter stream and
messing up the process. "Messing up", what an understatement! You also coudn't
open your eyes and watch the process from the inside...you were temporarily
blinded, as well.
Nowadays, you can watch the transport process from inside the beam, and see
your body revert to pure energy, then reassemble at your destination a few
seconds later, with full memory of what had just occurred inside the beam. As
I said, not "all that great."
The transporter effect faded away, and instantly I recalled
were...inside the cave where Dari was transmuted into crystalline form. Worf
drew his phaser, as did the junior officers. I took out my tricorder and began
scanning. All I could get was the decomposed flesh of the dead Jem'Hadar
troops and their Vorta. I noticed the case that held their ketracel white
drugs...it was broken open, and the drug itself dried on the ground. The
machinery was still here. "Take tricorder readings of everything here," I
ordered. "Report on anything you find." The junior officers took out their
tricorders and began scanning. Worf was nervous...he was just itching for a
fight. I could tell...he was tensing his jaw muscles and grunting a bit.
"Commander Worf...at ease," I said.
"One must not relax when there is danger around," he replied.
"Good point, Worf, but tone it down a bit...you're making the others nervous,"
Worf tripped over something. "Commander," he said, as he kicked some dirt off
the pad Darian was on three weeks ago.
"That's the pad Lt. Connors was on when she was transmuted," I said. I called
to one of the junior officers. "Lieutenant, find where this is connected to,
and see if you can get some power to it."
"Aye, sir," he said as began scanning.
"Won't that be risky, sir?" the other officer asked.
"It may well be, Ensign, but I'd like to see if we can get some information
from their computer." I was more concerned about how to reverse the "process",
as the Vorta put it, and get Dari back to normal. Then Worf spoke up.
"Commander, I've found something unusual."
I went to the crystal structure he was scanning with his tricorder. "What is
it, Mr. Worf?"
"This particular crystal, sir," he said, indicating a detached shaft of
dilithium. " It's exhibiting an unusual pattern." He showed me the scan. He
was right...it showed something, but what? I couldn't tell.
I touched the crystal...it felt warm. "Something strange just occurred when
you touched it, sir," Worf said. He showed me the scan again. I saw a peak in
the A2 portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.
"That would indicate lifesigns," I said. "But what kind of lifesigns?" I
touched the crystal again.
"Sir, the A2 portion just peaked again," Worf said.
"Expand the scan, Worf. Let's see what it does across the spectrum," I said.
Worf quickly reprogrammed the tricorder, as I touched the crystal a third
time. It still felt warm to me.
"All the indicators of lifesigns are reaching the upper limit," he said.
I looked at the tricorder, then noticed something familiar. Words being
spelled on the display.
"I-L-O-V-E-Y-O-U-C-H-A-R-L-E-S-R-A-Y-M-O-N-D", Worf spelled..
I looked at the crystal in disbelief. "Dari?" I heard myself say. That warm
feeling got warmer.
"Commander, A2 and J9 just went off the scale," Worf said. I could hardly
understand this. A crystal, that might contain Dari's very essence?
"I don't believe this...my fiancee's life energy trapped inside a dilithium
crystal?" I said. "Is this what the Vorta meant by the 'process'? Stealing
humanoid life energy and placing it inside dlithium crystals?"
"Humanoid energy would make for an incredibly powerful energy source," Worf
I picked up the crystal, gently holding it in my arms. The weight was not that
significant...it almost felt weightless...for a 25 centimeter crystal rod,
"Sir, the crystal is exhibiting something else in the K7 portion of the
spectrum," Worf said, still scanning the rod. I looked again...that was a
puzzler. I'm no doctor...oh, how I wished Julian was here! Then, the
lieutenant came back.
"Sir, you didn't hit this equipment very hard in your initial assault, did
"I don't think so, lieutenant. Why do you ask?"
"It looks like the equipment had self-destruct devices built into them...we
can't get any of this operational."
Dammit! I thought. No, wait...I tapped my commbadge. "Raymond to Defiant."
"Go ahead, Commander," Col. Kira replied.
"Colonel, send down Chief O'Brien and an engineering team. It looks like this
equipment might have self-destructed, but we can't confirm that. Also, send
down a shuttlecraft, We've found some unusual dilithium deposits here...one
rod is exhibiting a very peculiar pattern. I want to get it back to the
station, but I don't want to risk sending through the transporter."
"Aye, sir, the chief and a shuttlecraft are on their way," she said.
It would be several minutes before the shuttlecraft arrived, so I had the
lieutenant, Worf, and the ensign clear a spot for Chief O'Brien and his
engineering team to set up their equipment. I called the Defiant again.
"Colonel, would you send me Lt. Connors' transporter pattern?" I asked.
"Is there a reason , sir?" she asked. She had the right to be suspicious.
"Yes, Colonel. I have reason to believe Lt. Connors is trapped inside the
crystal I described earlier."
Silence from the ship. "Are you certain, Commander?" I could hear the
disbelief in her voice.
"I don't understand it either, Colonel. Just humor me and transmit Darian's
transporter pattern to this tricorder," I said, quickly following with,
"That's an order."
"Aye, sir," Col. Kira said. I waited for the pattern to load into the
tricorder, then I re-configured it to medical mode. Instantly, it began to
display familiar wave patterns...Alpha, Beta, Gamma, EEG, Cardio-
Vascular...all pointing to Darian Connors' life signs. I spoke to the crystal.
"Darian, can you hear me?" The tricorder's display began to show some familiar
waveforms...I had seen these some time ago...at Starfleet Medical, when Dari
was undergoing rehabilitation. I could see words forming on the screen...I
could imagine her talking to me...
"Yes, Charlie, I'm here. I can feel you, see you, holding me."
"That Vorta shot me with some unusual energy...that was the whine you heard.
The disruptor blast through this crystal I'm now trapped in was what put me in
"Do you know why they did this to you?"
"No...Oh, Charlie, can you fix me?" I think she was starting to cry...although
I couldn't really be certain.
"It's okay, honey. Julian is working on your body back at the station...in
fact, I've got an idea..." I tapped my commbadge.
"Colonel, call DS9 and tell Ben to send Julian and Lt. Connors on the fastest
runabout he can. Medical Emergency."
"Aye, sir," Kira said. She must have sensed I had made some progress here.
"If my guess is right, Julian will need the equipment here to restore you,
Dari," I said to the crystal rod.
"I hope so...this is a most disturbing sensation. When you beamed out with my
body, I cried out to you, but you didn't hear me."
"What was the last thing you heard?" I asked.
"You promising to restore me to normal," the crystal told me. "Then I saw the
transporter beam you up."
I couldn't help but feel a tear roll down my cheek. Julian, hurry your ass up
and kick that warp drive to ludicrous speed, I thought. I found myself hugging
the crystal rod, but it wasn't a piece of rock I was holding...in my mind, it
was my fiancee'.
"Excuse me, Commander?" Chief O'Brien said. I was still embracing the crystal
that held Dari's essence.
I wiped my eyes. "Yes, Chief?" He must have just gotten here.
"Some of this equipment can't be fixed, but I think we can restore the most
critical components," he said.
"How long will it take?" I asked
He let out a breath. "Two, maybe three hours."
"Get on it, Miles...I've sent for Julian. He should be here in about four, if
he pushes it."
He looked at the crystal I was holding, and gave me a puzzled look.
"I don't know how, Chief, but this is Lt. Connors," I said, indicating the rod
I was holding.
"So the Dominion did succeed with their experiments," he said.
"What experiment was that, Chief?" I asked.
"The one where they steal humanoid life energy and transmute it to crystalline
form for use in their warp cores."
"Worf and I surmised that, as well."I shuddered to think I was right, all
along. It sure explained those nightmares I had been having the past few
Over the next few hours, the chief and his engineering
team sweated and
cursed over the damaged components of the Dominion's "processor", trying to
get the most crucial systems online before Dr. Bashir arrived. None of the
damage was caused in my initial assault...the chief assured me most of the
mechanisms had self-destruct devices, and that only a critical few hadn't
detonated. These had to be delicately handled to avoid incinerating everyone
in the room. I felt so helpless, cradling the crystal that held Dari's
essence...I didn't dare put it down. Only when Julian fianlly arrived did I
feel comfortable enough to relinquish my hold on her. We were able to piece
together the initial process of how the Dominion was able to place humanoid
essence into a dilithium crystal lattice, but reversing that was going to be
difficult. They never intended to restore anyone to normal, so it was up to us
to try to reverse it.
It seemed like months later...we had just about
given up hope. Chief
O'Brien had been going for hours without sleep, as well as myself. I
remembered the last time I felt like this...I ended up in the Infirmary for
"Just one more formula to try, sir, then we'll have to give it up. I don't
think we can reverse this," he said.
"We're not going to give up, Chief. I can't marry a dilithium crystal," I
said. I felt Dari laugh. "How would our kids handle this?"
"I can't think straight...my mind has gone to mud," he said.
"Okay, let's take a breather. How long have we been at this?" I asked.
Miles checked his chronometer. "Two and a half days."
Julian was still examining Dari's body. She was lying on the strange
transporter pad we were on when this all took place. He had made more progress
with reversing the crystallization of her flesh...it felt more real, not as
stiff as it was when we came screaming into DS9 so long ago. We were at the
hard part...restoring her essence to her body.
"I hope you two have something in mind...I can't keep her body alive too much
longer," the doctor said.
"I almost wish I was part Vulcan," I said. "I could do the fal-tor-pan ritual,
but I'd have to take Dari to Mt. Seleya,"
The chief looked at me. I could almost see the light bulb turn on over his
head. "You know, Charlie, that's so crazy, it just might work!" he said.
"What, the fal-tor-pan?" I asked.
"No...bridging the gap between the crystal and Lt. Connors' body. We've got
power to the pad she's on. Why not place the crystal beside her, and you touch
both her body and the crystal, and I'll energize the pad. We're missing the
"You're right, Miles...that IS crazy! But, hell, I'll try it...call it a last-
ditch effort. If phasers won't work, how about a little love."
I knelt on the pad between Dari's body and the crystal, placed one hand on the
crystal, and the other on her hand.
"Okay, Chief, whenever you're ready," I said...
Captain's Personal Log, Stardate 74931.6, Captain Darian Raymond reporting.
It has been 20 years since the incident on Duran 2, when I was temporarily
converted to crystalline form during a Dominion experiment. I find myself
thinking about this every time I bring the Wyoming in for supplies and crew
rotations at the starbase here. Admiral Charles Raymond, Starbase commander,
on a more personal note, welcomes me in everytime and comments on how the
years have been kind to me. Of course, I pay it no mind...one of the side-
effects we were never able to completely eliminate was my permanent youthful
appearance. Apparently, the "process" wasn't completely reversed...I look and
feel like I'm still 35, even though I have aged chronologically.
I think I'll give Charlie a surprise tonight...when we return...
"Captain, transmission from Admiral Raymond's office."
"Put it through to my Ready Room, Commander Hugh."
"Hi, baby. How was deep space duty today?"
"Not bad...just a few skirmishes with the Romulans, and some activity in the
"Did you meet up with the Borg?"
"Yes, we did...Hugh handled the incident at their colony really well."
"You did make a note of that in your report, I hope?"
"Would I forget to mention my first officer's expert handling of a volatile
"I guess not. Being the first Borg in Starfleet, he has to set a good example.
Hey, you ready for some R&R on Bajor?
"I think so...6 months of deep-space patrol really takes a lot out of a
"I know...I've been there myself. Dari, may I tell you something?"
"You sure look beautiful, sweetheart. Just as gorgeous as you were 20 years
"Why, thank you, Admiral! You haven't changed a bit, either!"