FIVE

Buck glanced at the captain. Anybody looking at Chris would think he was calm, cool and collected. Buck knew otherwise. He knew Chris was worried about Vin and JD. Neither of them would abuse shore leave. The two of them had been missing for twenty-four hours. Ezra had gone down looking for them and hadn't communicated in over an hour. Buck knew Chris was coming to the end of his patience. He could see Chris was clenching his jaw. Buck was about to say something when Nathan spoke up from the security console.

"Captain! Ezra's beacon has gone form blue to red."

"Damn!" Chris cursed. "Nathan, gather a security detail and have them meet us down in the transporter room. Josiah the ship is yours."

"Aye Captain," Josiah said. "Good luck."

Nathan and Buck followed Chris to the turbo lift. Josiah watched as the doors closed then walked over to the command chair and sat down to wait.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra wasn't sure how long they would have to wait and he tried to get comfortable next to Vin. His head was starting to bother him and he put his head back and closed his eyes. Ezra was worried about Lila. If anything happened to her there might be trouble with the Viceroy. He was trying to think of an excuse for having her here when he felt Vin stir.

"Vin," Ezra called touching his shoulder. "It's alright just be still."

"No!" Vin cried opening his eyes. "Make them stop! It hurts!"

"I know it does Vin," Ezra said in sympathy.

"Ezra?" Vin asked in confusion. His voice was weak from the pain.

"Were you expecting someone else perhaps?" Ezra teased.

"Can't we go Ezra." Vin pleaded. "It hurts."

"Just hang on Vin," Ezra said taking his hand. "Help's coming soon."

Ezra pushed Vin's sweat soaked hair off his forehead. He could see the Vulcan was in a lot of pain but there was nothing he could do. Suddenly Vin screamed and rolled on his side clutching the wound. Ezra grabbed his shoulders to comfort him and was worried that JD hadn't roused from the scream. He held Vin and talked to him until the pain had subsided. When Vin finally relaxed Ezra rolled him to his back and tried to make him as comfortable as possible. Ezra removed the bandage to check the wound. The black was spreading quicker and the wound was bleeding again. Ezra put pressure on it and Vin groaned.

"I'm sorry Vin," Ezra said looking into his eyes.

"Ezra? What are you doing here?" Vin asked confused. "Is Chris with you?"

"No, he's not," Ezra said "Vin, do you know what's they're doing?"

"Making Metagenic weapons," Vin gasped. "Cardassians are involved."

"Damn!" Ezra cursed. "I have no way of warning them."

"Ezra where's Chris?" Vin asked in a dazed voice.

"He's coming," Ezra said.

"I want to go home," Vin cried.

"I know," Ezra said as he wiped the tears from Vin's face.

Ezra watched as Vin drifted into unconsciousness. He just hoped the other's got there quickly.

+ + + + + + +

Chris, Buck and Nathan met the security team at the transporter room. Chris had everyone set their weapons to maximum stun then stepped onto the transporter pad. Buck had convinced Chris to beam them down away from Ezra's signal. They had no idea what they were up against and Buck wanted to find out first. They materialized behind some boulders and Chris motioned everyone to take cover.

"Nathan," Chris whispered. "You still pick up his signal?"

"Yes sir," he nodded. "He's 200 yards to the west of our position."

"Alright lets move in." Chris instructed. "Stay behind cover until we know what we're up against."

Everyone agreed and one of the security personnel went first. As they got closer Chris started to get a bad feeling about this. Everything was too quiet. The silence was shattered by a phaser blast that took out one of the security detail.

"Get down!" Chris yelled. "Return fire when you have a target."

Chris was behind a boulder and peered over it to see a Cardassian taking aim at Buck. He aimed his phaser and blasted the Cardassian. After that all hell broke lose. Chris signaled Buck that he was moving up. Buck laid down cover fire as Chris dashed to the next outcrop. Buck nodded to Nathan then followed Chris. A phaser blast scorched the rock next to Buck's head as he dove for cover. Buck rolled to his knees next to Chris.

"Don't you think you cut that a little close?" Chris asked.

"Needed a haircut any way," Buck smiled.

The two of them covered Nathan as he ran across to join them. Chris motioned to a group of Dalantians that were firing at one of the security team and they moved in to help. The three officers came up behind them and stunned the Dalantians. They could hear fewer and fewer phaser blasts coming from the rest of the security team. Buck noticed some of the Dalantians retreating for one of the caves.

"Chris look," Buck pointed.

Chris saw them and nodded. He went after them and the others followed. They made it to the entrance of the cave and Chris peered cautiously inside. He could see boxes and other crates scattered around the cave. Chris made a run for a group of crates.

"Chris!" Buck shouted. "Look out!"

A Dalantian jumped down between Chris and Buck. The Dalantian howled in anger and swiped at the Captain. Chris was taken by surprise and wasn't able to dodge. He felt a searing pain lance across his shoulder and back. As he fell to the floor, he heard two phasers discharge and Chris watched the Dalantian crumble to the ground. Buck rushed to his side and helped him sit up. When he touched Chris's back he flinched.

"Let me look," said Nathan as he joined them.

Nathan stepped around behind Chris to check his back while Buck kept watch. He found four slash marks starting at Chris's left shoulder and angling down across his back.

"I'm alright Nathan," Chris protested. "We have to find Vin and the others."

"Just hold still," Nathan said grabbing Chris as he tried to get up. "Let me take care of this."

Nathan sprayed a sealant over the wounds then hit Chris with a hypospray for infection and pain.

"That should do until we get back to the ship," Nathan said.

"This is Lieutenant Rogers calling the Captain."

"Captain here, go ahead," Chris said tapping his combadge.

"The outside is secure," he said. "Should we join you inside?"

"Negative, remain outside," Chris ordered. "We'll call if we need help."

"Aye Captain."

Chris moved further into the cave and stopped behind some crates when he heard voices. Chris signaled for them to move out. When they were close enough Chris stood up and aimed his phaser.

"Hold it," Chris said.

Buck and Nathan stood also. The Dalantian did as he instructed but the Cardassian made a move for his weapon. Chris shot him and he fell to the floor stunned. The Dalantian just smiled as they walked towards him.

"Where are they?" Chris demanded

"Around," he sneered.

Chris was about to say something when a tan blur jumped off one of the crates and crashed into the Dalantian. Buck aimed his phaser but Chris stopped him.

"No Buck!"

Chris moved to the Dalantian and Buck saw that it was a large cat. It was sitting on the enemy's chest growling. Nathan and Buck exchanged looks and joined Chris.

"Lila I presume?" Buck asked.

"Yeah and it looks like she saved our necks," Chris said.

He held up a Romulan disrupter. Buck swore. Nathan checked the Dalantian and found that Lila had broken his neck.

"He's dead Chris," Nathan announced.

"What the hell is going on here?" Buck asked.

"I don't know," Chris answered "We'll figure it out later. Right now we have to find Vin, JD and Ezra."

"How?" Nathan asked. "The beacon only gives a direction"

"Lila," Chris said kneeling next to her. "Find Vin."

"Come on Chris, you don't think she can really find them do you?" Buck demanded.

"What choice do we have!" Chris answered angrily.

Lila growled and grabbed Chris's hand in her mouth. She pulled and Chris had no choice but to go with her. Nathan looked at Buck, then followed the Captain. Buck threw up his hands and joined them.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra was still leaning against the wall holding Vin's hand. The Vulcan kept calling for Chris and begging to go home. Vin was lying quietly and Ezra reached over to check JD. The Ensign was burning up and he didn't stir when Ezra touched him. Vin also had a fever and Ezra was really starting to worry. Ezra looked at the scratches on JD's chest and saw they were inflamed and probably infected. He figured the Dalantians must have put some sort of poison on their talons. Ezra leaned his head back and groaned. His head was killing him. He was startled when Vin cried out.

"Chris!" Vin yelled but didn't wake up.

Just as Vin screamed the hole where they had dropped Ezra down was pulled open. Ezra watched as a familiar blonde head peered down.

"Vin!" Chris called.

Ezra figured Chris's eyes hadn't adjusted to the glow of the rocks so couldn't see them.

"Over here Captain," Ezra yelled.

"Hold on," Chris said. "I'm sending Nathan down."

Ezra saw a rope drop to the cave floor and Nathan started to climb down. As soon as he was down he quickly moved towards them. He ran his tricorder over JD. When he was finished he pulled out a hypospray and placed it along JD's neck. As he was checking JD, Chris had climbed down and walked over to them.

"Ezra, you OK?" Chris asked touching the lump by his right ear.

"Perfectly fine, Captain," Ezra answered, trying not to flinch.

"Right," Chris smiled. "Good work."

"I didn't go quite as planned," Ezra commented dryly.

"No," Chris agreed. "But the end result was the same. Do you know what's going on?"

"Vin discovered they were dealing Metagenic weapons," Ezra answered gravely.

"Damn!" Chris cursed. "Nathan how is he?"

"Not too good," he answered shooting Vin with a hypospray. "That should help the pain. I've never seen anything like this before."

Chris looked down at the Vulcan and cringed. He recognized the blaster wound but the black surrounding it looked ominous.

"Shit!" Ezra cursed. "Nathan you have to get him back to the ship now!"

"What is it?" Chris demanded. "What's wrong?"

"I just checked the wound a short time ago, " Ezra explained. "The black has spread another four inches."

"What do you mean?" Nathan asked looking up at Ezra.

"Aw hell Nathan!" Chris shouted. "Look!"

They all watched in horror as the black crept along Vin's flesh another inch. Nathan grabbed Vin in his arms and tapped his combadge.

"Maverick!" he called. "Medical emergency! Two to beam directly to sick bay!"

Nathan barely finished when the transporter's familiar glow shimmered around them and they disappeared.

"You ready to go, Ezra?" Chris asked in a not-so-steady voice.

"More than ready," Ezra sighed.

The captain was about to signal the ship to beam them up when they heard a growl. Chris turned and saw Lila jump down to join them. She rubbed against Ezra then lay across his legs staring at the Captain.

"Looks like she wants to join us," Chris remarked.

"It would appear that way," Ezra agreed.

"Maverick," Chris said hitting his combadge. "Four to beam up."

"Buck is securing the area." Josiah announced as they appeared on the ship. "I sent down additional personnel."

"Fine," Chris said moving to JD.

"I'll take JD," Josiah said. "You get Ezra. Can I assume this is Lila?"

"Thatís her," Chris smiled as Josiah petted her.

The counselor picked up JD and headed for sick bay. Chris hauled Ezra to his feet and steadied him as he swayed. When Ezra's head stopped spinning they followed Josiah. Chris stayed close in case Ezra needed a hand. He was too damned stubborn to ask for help. Lila padded quietly behind them. They arrived at sick bay to find Nathan busily at work on Vin. The only part of the Vulcan that was visible was his feet and head. The rest of his body was covered b the diagnostic machines. Chris made sure Ezra went with one of the nurses before he went to look at JD. He saw one of the nurses was taking good care of him. Josiah was standing by the ensign's table holding his hand. Chris decided there was nothing he could do here and went to go back to the bridge.

"Where do you think you're going?" Nathan asked not looking up from Vin.

"To the bridge," Chris answered.

"Not until your back is taken care of," Nathan said angrily.

Chris had forgotten about the claw marks on his back. Josiah glanced at the wounds and shook his head. He told Chris he'd hold the fort until he was done. Chris took a seat on one of the exam tables and waited. While he waited he watched Nathan take care of Vin. Nathan didn't look happy and that worried Chris.

Sometimes it was tough being captain. Vin was special to Chris but he couldn't show favoritism so he tried to keep his distance. He was sure the others knew Vin was important to him, but he had to remain professional even though it was eating him up inside. Lila had come in and lay down under Vin's table. She watched Nathan as well. Chris got the uneasy feeling that if she didn't like what he was doing she would attack him. Once the nurse was done with Ezra she came over to work on him. In a short time the wounds were healed and the nurse gave him another shot against infection. Chris thanked her and jumped off the bed.

"Nathan let me know how they're doing," Chris said. "Ezra you ready?"

"Aye Captain," he said.

"Hold on now," Nathan said looking up. "Ezra, I want you to stay here and rest for a few hours."

"I assure you doctor," Ezra said, "I am perfectly alright. Save your concern for Lieutenant Tanner."

"Fine suit yourself," Nathan growled.

Chris and Ezra headed for the door and almost collided with Buck. Chris knew he was worried about JD but Chris needed him on the bridge.

"I'll be quick," he said, knowing Chris needed him. "Everyone is secured in the brig under heavy guard. The weapons are secured in the landing bay."

"Good work, Commander," Chris said then walked out.

Ezra gave Buck his customary two-finger salute and followed Chris. Buck continued into sick bay and over to JD. He could see the young Ensign was sleeping peacefully. Buck picked up his hand and gave it a squeeze.

"Didn't I tell you to stay out of trouble?" Buck teased. "That's it, no more shore leave with Vin."

JD remained oblivious to Buck's teasing. Buck took a deep breath, then ruffled the kid's hair. He was just glad to have him back in one piece. Buck moved away from JD and over to Nathan.

"How is he Nate?" Buck asked in concern.

"I don't know," Nathan admitted. "This is nothing I've ever seen before."

"Don't worry Nate you'll figure it out," Buck said with confidence. "You always do."

Buck patted Nathan's shoulder then exited sick bay. He arrived on the bridge to find Chris talking with Viceroy Rulan.

"I'm sorry to hear about your men," Rulan said sincerely. "I'm glad you helped us root out the rebels hiding in the hills. We have been looking for Caliban for over a year."

"Glad we could be of service," Chris said. "Ambassador Calter?"

"Yes captain," she said as she appeared on the view screen.

"I think you better have Star Fleet command send another ship," Chris said. "One that's had more dealings with the Cardassians."

"What's wrong with your ship?" she asked.

"I'm not equipped to hold that many in the brig," he explained. "Also I have no knack for diplomacy."

"I have to agree," she laughed. "Alright, Captain Larabee, I'll request another ship."

"Thank you Ambassador."

"I have someone here that needs to speak with Lieutenant Standish," the ambassador said with a smile as she pulled Tulara next to her.

"Greeting," Tulara said.

"Greetings my Lady," Ezra bowed.

"Where's Lila?" Tulara asked getting right to the point.

"She's guarding Lieutenant Tanner in sick bay," he answered, "I can bring her down if you like."

"I'd like to see you try," she whistled. "She has chosen Vin. She belongs to him now. I just wanted to make sure she was safe."

"That's very nice Tulara," Chris said. "But Vin can't keep her."

"They choose who that want to be with," Tulsa smiled.

"She won't be happy on a ship," Chris continued.

"She will be happy wherever Vin is. Good day." With that she left the screen and ended the transmission.

"Looks like Vin's got a new pet," Buck smiled.

"Might do him good," Josiah said. "He spends too much time alone."

"Can't argue with that," Chris said,

Buck was filling Josiah in on all the details of the fight. While Buck was reliving their exploits, Chris paced the bridge. Ezra watched the captain and knew he was worried about Vin. They all knew Vin was the captain's favorite. It didn't bother the rest of them. Well, maybe JD since he seemed to worship the captain. Ezra did know why the captain just didn't acknowledge the way he felt. He was sure Vin already knew since he always seemed to know when the captain was thinking about him. Ezra was contemplating this dilemma when they received a call.

"Captain," Ezra called. "Ambassador Calter calling."

"On screen."

"Captain, the USS Redeemer will be here in four hours," she said. "When Starfleet heard about the incident they were very worried. They will come and take the weapons and the Cardassians off your hands."

"Star Fleet command made a good choice," Chris said. "Captain Richards has dealt with them before."

"I'm glad you approve," Calter said. "And Captain, good work. The Dalantians are very pleased with your performance."

Calter ended the transmission and Chris took a seat. The bridge crew knew their jobs and Chris started his official report of the incident. An hour later the turbo lift doors opened and Nathan walked onto the bridge. Chris turned to look at him and he knew what he was going to say but he wouldn't accept it. The others could sense it also and they waited for Nathan to say it.

"He's dying," Nathan announced with a heavy heart.

SIX

That can't be," Buck denied.

"I'm sorry," Nathan said in defeat. "I tried everything."

What happened Nate?" Josiah asked.

"Whatever that weapon is, it's changing Vin's DNA," Nathan explained. "And it's killing him."

"What if you sent Mr. Tanner back through the transport?" Ezra asked. "His DNA pattern is still in the buffer and you could use it to repair the damage."

"It doesn't work," Nathan sighed. "I tried it already."

"You're sure there's nothing you can do?" Buck asked again.

Chris only half listened to Nathan explain everything he had tried. His mind had gone numb when Nathan said Vin was dying. Chris sensed there was something Nathan wasn't telling them.

"Alright Nathan out with it," Chris demanded.

"There is one chance," Nathan admitted. "But it's really no chance at all."

"What?" Buck asked eagerly.

"If we got him back to Vulcan, I could get a DNA sample that's close to Vin's to reconstruct the damage," Nathan answered.

"Shit Nathan," Buck growled." Why didn't you say so? We'll leave right now."

"Hold on Buck," Chris said when he saw the pain in Nathan eyes. "Go on Nathan."

"We're four days from Vulcan at warp 10," Nathan began. "Vin has twenty four hours at the most."

"We can put him in cryosleep," Josiah suggested.

"That will only slow down the destruction not stop it," Nathan sighed. "In cryosleep he can go maybe forty eight hours."

Nathan was right, there was nothing they could do. The doctor told them Vin wasn't in any pain. Chris looked at Nathan and saw this was eating him up. As the chief medical officer he was responsible for everyone's well being. Josiah sat staring at the view screen deep in thought. Buck sat with his head in his hands looking at anyone. Chris felt like the floor was falling out from under his feet. The death of the Vulcan would create a hole that could never be filled. Chris shook his head, who was he kidding. If Vin died, a part of him would die too. Chris glanced up at Ezra and saw he was frantically working at his console. Obviously the security officer was upset about the news and decided to plunge back into work to deny it. Chris watched him for a few minutes before he looked up.

"Mr. Jackson, would a Vulcan science vessel with a crew compliment of 350 suffice?" Ezra asked.

"I think so, why?" Nathan asked with a glimmer of hope.

"The science vessel P'lor is docked for repairs at DS9," Ezra said. "We can be there in 35 hours at warp 10."

"Yes!" Buck shouted. "Ensign Rojas set a course for DS9."

"Aye sir!" she said with enthusiasm.

"Belay that order Ensign!" Chris yelled.

"But Chris!" Buck argued.

"We have to wait for the Redeemer to take the Cardassians off our hands." Chris reminded him.

"Damn!" Buck cursed. "I forgot."

"Lieutenant Standish," Chris said turning to him. "Get me Captain Sisko at DS9."

"Aye Captain," Ezra said looking down at his console.

+ + + + + + +

Captain Benjamin Sisko sat at his desk going over the day's reports. He hated this part of being the Captain of a space station - having to go over citizen complaints and other mundane things. Sisko pushed the report chips away and leaned back in his chair.

"Captain Sisko," Major Kira's voice came over his combadge. "Emergency message from the USS Maverick."

"I'll be right out Major," he said.

He waked towards the doors and they opened automatically. Looking down at the command center of the space station he could see Dax in here usual spot at the science console. Worf and Kira were by the command console along with Dr. Bashir. Odo stood by the security console. O'Brien was standing talking with Dax. He walked down the steps and stood next to Kira.

"Alright Major, on screen," he said.

Sisko had heard about Captain Larabee and his crew aboard the Maverick. He was honored to be able to talk with him. The image that appeared on the screen was a commanding one. The captain wasn't large or imposing but his piercing eyes and steely gaze could make anyone back down. His short cropped blonde hair added to the military look.

"Captain Larabee, what can I do for you?" Sisko asked.

"I need a favor from the Vulcan science Vessel P'lor," he began. "My Vulcan Navigator was recently injured. I'll let my Chief Medical Officer explain.

Larabee moved away and a handsome black officer stepped in. He was tall and lean with kind dark eyes.

"The weapon used is changing Lieutenant Tanner's DNA and it's killing him," Nathan explained. "I need to find a compatible tissue sample to reconstruct and repair the damage."

"Have you tried sending him through the transporter?" Dr Bashir asked.

"I tried, but it didn't work," Nathan said. "I believe if I introduce the compatible tissue sample as I remove the altered tissue I can repair the damaged area."

"It might work," Bashir agreed. "Send me a sample of his DNA and I'll compare it to the crew. That will save us some time."

"I'll send it right away," Nathan said.

"Captain Larabee when will you be arriving?" Sisko asked.

"We should be there in 39 hours," Chris answered. "We have to wait for the Redeemer to come take some Cardassians off our hands. Then we'll be on our way."

"See you then," Sisko nodded.

"Maverick out," Chris said and the screen went black.

"So that's the legendary Captain Larabee," Dax smiled. "I must say the pictures I've seen don't do him justice."

"Really, Old man, is that all you saw? Ahandsome face?" Sisko teased.

"Girl's gotta have a hobby," she shot back.

"Who's this Captain Larabee?" Kira asked.

"He is one of the Federation's greatest warriors," Worf answered. "His seven member elite bridge crew is one of the best."

"Do I detect the slightest bit of hero worship?" Dax asked with a smile.

"I greatly admire him," Worf growled.

"They've been dubbed the Magnificent Seven," O'Brien added. "The Enterprise fought alongside them when we faced the Borg. Captain Larabee and his crew risked everything to save another ship. The incredible skill of the navigator saved both ships."

"If I remember correctly the Maverick was severely damaged and was going to be decommissioned," Sisko said.

"Yes sir," Worf agreed," The seven wouldn't let them. They refused to leave the ship. The security officer convinced high command it would be more cost efficient to repair it than to replace it."

"What is he, a Ferengi?" Kira asked.

"Some people have wondered," O'Brien laughed.

"Are there pictures of the crew?" Kira asked.

"Of course," Dax beamed.

The first picture up was Chris.

"Captain Chris Larabee. Graduated Star Fleet Academy towards the top of his class along with Commander Wilmington. Both assigned to the USS Cormorant. He moved up the ranks and was deep-selected for Captain. Fell in love and married and had a son. They were tragically killed in a shuttle explosion. He quit Star Fleet and became captain of a freighter. Got the reputation of being a fighter. Star Fleet asked him back to captain the Maverick in the contested Four Corners region. They needed someone who would be tough but fair. He accepted on one condition. He got to pick his own officers. They agreed and the first one he picked was his friend Buck Wilmington."

A picture of a dark haired good-looking man with a mustache replaced the captain's picture. The smile on his face was reflected in his dark blue eyes.

"Commander Buck Wilmington. Remained friends with Larabee after his family's death. Even though Chris made it difficult. He has the reputation of being a ladies man."

"Why am I not surprised?" Kira smiled.

"Well I certainly plan on introducing myself," Dax laughed. She pulled up the next picture.

An older man with graying hair with lively blue eyes replaced Buck's image.

"Counselor Josiah Sanchez, from the martial planet of Estron. His father was a religious leader on the war torn world. He was tried of all the fighting and went on a religious pilgrimage. Enrolled in Star Fleet and became a well-known counselor. Chris met him at a conference and liked his to-the-point attitude and brought him aboard the Maverick."

A younger man with brownish red hair replaced Josiah's picture. His vibrant green eyes looked like they just scored a big deal.

"Lieutenant Commander Ezra Standish, security officer. Says here Standish was almost drummed out of the Academy for running a gambling ring. No evidence could ever be found. Came to Chris's attention while he was on shore leave. Standish was in a high stakes Dabo game and revealed to the casino that one of the players was cheating. When asked how he knew, he said he was good at reading people and could spot a swindler a mile away."

"I better keep my eye on him while they are here," Odo replied.

Ezra's picture was replaced by one of Nathan.

"Commander Nathan Jackson, Chief Medical Officer. Graduated top of his class. Chris was impressed by his work on the war-torn planet of Hetra. Jackson's compassion and level-headedness under pressure got him the position."

Dax brought up the next picture to reveal a young ensign with dark hair and hazel eyes.

"Ensign John Dunne, better known as JD. Graduated first in his class and assigned to the Maverick as stellar cartographer. Caught the eye of the Captain when he discovered a plot to kill Commander Wilmington. He was brought into the bridge crew and works ops."

"He's looks the same age as Jake," Sisko commented.

"He only looks that young," Dax smiled. "Says here he's 21... Now the last of the officers is the most intriguing. Mr. Worf he has a lot in common with you."

"I doubt it," he grumbled. "If he's the Vulcan we have nothing in common."

"Oh I don't know," Dax joked. "Says here he was the only survivor of a Vulcan Science colony on the planet Tasco 7 in a remote section of the alpha quadrant. A human archeological team searching for the fable ruins on the planet found him. A couple from US State of Texas, on Earth, adopted him. They didn't know how to raise him as a Vulcan so they raised him as a human. Needless to say when he joined Star Fleet everyone was surprised he was a Vulcan."

"What do you mean?" Julian asked. "Vulcan's are rather distinctive in appearances."

"Not this one," Dax laughed.

The image she brought up appeared to be a young human. His hair was a light brown and came past his shoulders. The long hair effectively covered his ears. Slightly up turned eyebrows accented his expressive blue eyes.

"That's a Vulcan?" Kira asked.

"Lieutenant Vin Tanner," Dax answered. " Saved the life of Lieutenant Jackson aboard the USS Silverstar. Jackson was aboard helping in sickbay. Some prisoners escape the brig and took Jackson hostage. As a security officer Tanner and a team was called in to surround the area. Tanner is a deadly shot with a phaser and took the prisoners out. When Larabee found out, he requested Tanner be transferred to the Maverick. Seems his talents were being wasted as a security officer and Chris made him the Navigator."

"What's with the long hair," O'Brien asked.

"Don't know," Dax said. "But it certainly hides his ears."

"Well their visit should be entertaining," Bashir said.

"Just wish we were getting to meet them under different circumstances," Sisko reminded everyone. "This is a combat crew they may not like too many questions asked."

"Julian, Dr. Jackson is sending the information now," Dax informed him.

"Send it down to sick bay," he said. "I'll get right to work."

Sisko watched his crew continue about their business and returned to his office. He sat down at the desk and picked up the baseball. He twirled it around in his hand looking thoughtful. He just hoped Lieutenant Jackson's idea worked.

CONTINUE

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