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U.S.S. Defiant “ En Route from AR-558

The Defiant was en route back to Deep Space Nine and Captain Sisko was contemplating what was waiting for him back on the station, but a hail suddenly shattered the silence, “Captain, we’re getting a message from Deep Space Nine,” one of the comm officers, a lad named Jawalski, suddenly reported in an anxious voice.

“Put it onscreen,” Captain Sisko ordered, concerned that something might have happened to Nog.

Jawalski nodded and a moment later, Captain Sisko was staring at a concerned looking Kira, “Captain, I thought I would inform you that Chief O’Brien got a message from Starbase 379,” Kira stated in a concerned voice. “He was ordered to proceed there immediately and I gave him permission to do so.”

“Understood, Major,” Captain Sisko replied calmly. “I’ll radio Starbase 379 and tell Doctor Bashir to proceed with all haste back to Deep Space Nine just in case Chief O’Brien needs medical assistance. We’ll be back soon.”

Kira nodded and the viewscreen went blank. Captain Sisko sighed and quickly looked at Jawalski, “Contact Starbase 379 and notify Doctor Bashir that his presence is needed on Deep Space Nine as soon as possible,” he ordered.

“Aye sir,” Jawalski replied as he turned back to the Comms station and worked on a message to send out.
Slave Freighter

The room was freezing cold and as she crept across the rock floor, Tanna ignored the fact that the blisters on her bare feet were threatening to pop open with every step she took. Her arms shook with pain and exhaustion, but she held the covered object in her arms tightly.

For nearly three months, the Jem Hadar had retained control of AR-558 because of assistance from Changeling and Breen allies, who had slaughtered many to take control of the base.

The Starfleet presence had been declared dead because of falsified records and Starfleet wasn’t able to check the validity of the records because all resources were stretched thin because of the raging war.

Now, instead of working to re-establish a Starfleet presence, the survivors of the takeover were struggling to survive while serving as slaves and targets for their Breen/Jem Hadar masters.

Everyone had a role and the orders were crystal clear: work hard and be quiet, or be killed.

It was now considered a quiet time of day; the Jem Hadar and Breen were off discussing strategy with their Changeling allies and the slaves were scattered everywhere, resting their worn bodies.

Taking great care not to make any noise, Tanna stepped over the rotting corpse of an officer who had been killed a week ago and moved over to an abandoned pod in the area used for ejecting trash into space. The procedure was done about once a week and nobody ever knew what became of the trash.

Allowing herself a quiet sigh, Tanna opened the pod with one of her cracked hands and gently laid the covered object inside. She extracted a small disc from her tattered Starfleet uniform and placed it inside the pod on top of the bundle. Quietly closing the pod, she stepped away.

Knowing that time was the last gift she could give, Tanna moved over to the nearest control panel and ignoring the aching in her calloused fingers, she programmed the trash compacter to eject all the trash bins from the waste room; the walls were decorated with overflowing trash pods.

As the hatch opened and all the trash pods shot out into space, Tanna turned and walked slowly towards the blood-stained, metal door that led back into the common room where all slave women were kept during the quiet period. The men and kids were kept in separate areas for the most part.

For rest times and meals, all the slaves were allowed to wear their old Starfleet uniforms so that they wouldn't die of hypothermia and deprive their masters of working hands. During working times, however, everyone wore slave tunics that were designed differently; the men wore ragged shorts and the women wore outfits similar, yet raggedier, than Terran one-piece bathing suits.

The only time that all the survivors were together was during the work time and they were all under heavy supervision, under threat of torture or death if they spoke out of turn, trying to rebuild the weaponry that had been destroyed in the last battle with the Federation.

To keep anyone from finding out about the captured base and the survivors, the Jem Hadar had forced some of the survivors to make messages that faked their deaths and the base's destruction. Starfleet had failed to follow up to ensure the authenticity of all the messages because of the raging Dominion War.

As they didn't want Starfleet to discover the truth, the Jem Hadar and Breen kept very close count of the amount of slaves they had. They killed anyone who attempted an escape on the spot.

Hopefully, by the time anyone found out there was one pod missing, the pod would be long gone.

“Goodbye, darling child,” Tanna whispered in a hollow voice as she heard the pod shoot off into the sky.
Only one other had escaped nearly a month ago and everyone had suffered because of it.
Two Days Later

Deep Space Nine “ Docking Ring

“Shuttle powering down now,” a mechanical voice said over the shuttle’s intercom.

Miles O’Brien sighed wearily; it had been a long journey from Starbase 371, but they were now home.

A retching sound quickly brought Miles back to reality and he got out of his seat just in time to see a very thin man about his age limp out of the back with a sick expression on his face. The man’s hair was blonde and just as curly as Miles’s, but it was rather unkempt and his clothes were little more than gray rags.

“Sorry,” the man whispered in an apologetic voice as he leaned on the archway for support. “I’ll…”

Miles quickly shook his head, “Don’t worry about it, all right?” he replied gently. “Can you walk?”

“Not real well, but I’ll manage,” the man replied in an unsteady voice as he hobbled over to the shuttle door and pressed the open button with a trembling hand only to find himself staring at a white wall.

Miles cringed and quickly moved forward, “I forgot to open the airlock,” he explained in an anxious voice as he quickly pressed the button releasing the airlock. “I contacted the station while you were sleeping.”

The airlock quickly opened, revealing a quiet docking ring, “Miles, help me,” the man whispered in an anxious voice as he suddenly felt his injured leg giving way. “I have to meet Captain Sisko, I guess.”

“You should really go to Sickbay, Devin,” Miles replied worriedly as he put an arm around the man and helped him walk out of the shuttle and on to the station. “Doctor Bashir’s probably waiting for you.”

Devin sighed and immediately winced, “You may be my big brother, Miles, but even you know that I can’t get two steps without falling flat on my face,” he replied, trying to catch his breath. “Hold on a sec…”

“I told Dad I was going to get you,” Miles replied, watching as Devin slouched slightly to relax himself.
Devin nodded, “Figured you would,” he replied in a faint voice. “How far is the Sickbay from here?”

Miles cringed as Devin suddenly pulled away and sank to his knees, “Miles, I’ve had it,” Devin whispered in a pained voice as he placed a hand on his chest. “Go and get someone...please.”

Shaking his head, Miles tapped on his combadge and knelt down next to Devin, “O’Brien to Bashir,” he said in a concerned voice. “I’m at the docking ring with Lieutenant O’Brien and I need assistance.”

“Forget the Lieutenant stuff, Miles,” Devin whispered as he suddenly heard footsteps approaching.

Miles was surprised, but relieved to see Julian standing over them with a medical kit in one hand, a folded up stretcher in the other, and a couple of male nurses lingering behind him, “Captain Sisko informed me that you’d be arriving today, Lieutenant,” Julian said as he knelt down next to Devin. “I’m Doctor Bashir.”

Devin nodded, but didn’t speak, “Julian, I think Devin’s having trouble breathing,” Miles spoke softly as he watched Devin struggle to take even the simplest of breaths. “That’s why he’s not answering you.”

“I see,” Julian replied softly as he opened his med-kit and took out his medical tricorder. “All right, then.”

There was silence as Julian ran the tricorder over Devin’s hunched form, “You’ve got some internal bleeding as well as collapsing lungs,” he explained to the silent Lieutenant. “Miles, help me lie him down on the floor so I can get a better sense of his injuries; the tricorder’s readings are rather alarming.”

Miles nodded and helped Julian to get Devin lying on the floor, “Someone get the stretcher under Lieutenant O’Brien,” Julian ordered, gazing back at the three nurses who had accompanied him.

“Miles, I’m so tired,” Devin whispered, cringing as he felt a stretcher being slid underneath his dangerously thin body. “Tell Captain Sisko that I’m sorry I couldn’t do anything about it…”

Miles frowned at that statement, but was prevented from replying because Julian quickly administered a hypospray to Devin’s neck, “Here’s a little Dexalin to help with breathing until we can get you to Sickbay,” Julian said in a gentle voice. “Computer, lock on to Lieutenant O’Brien and myself and initiate an emergency transport directly to the infirmary’s surgical area; I don’t want to risk any further injuries.”

“Miles, I’m so sorry,” Devin whispered, letting out a small wheeze as he and Julian dematerialized.

Miles frowned; why did Devin keep apologizing and why did he ask for Captain Sisko to be informed of some sort of failure?

Miles knew that he and Devin hadn’t really seen each other for several years, but they had been close as boys and now, seeing Devin again made Miles wonder what had happened…

Letting out a sigh, Miles tapped his combadge, “O’Brien to Sisko,” he said abruptly. “We need to talk.”
Silence filled the room as Captain Sisko sat behind the command desk with his arms folded and a very somber expression on his face, “…I want to know why Devin said that you needed to be talked to,” Miles said in a concerned voice, having spent the last hour telling Captain Sisko everything that had transpired since he had arrived back at Deep Space Nine with Devin. “I’ve never seen him in such awful shape…”

“Chief, I know you’re confused about this whole situation,” Captain Sisko replied in a sympathetic voice as he gazed across the desk at his Chief of Operations. “Unfortunately, I can’t tell you more about Lieutenant O’Brien’s situation even though he is your brother. For now, I suggest you just be there for him.”

Miles nodded, but didn’t move from the chair, “I was a bit confused when I got a message from that starbase telling me that Devin was there and that he wanted me to come get him,” he said in a concerned voice. “I haven’t told anyone else about the message except for you and Keiko and maybe Odo.”

“Oh, I forgot to mention that Keiko came to see me while you were away,” Captain Sisko replied in a pleasant voice. “She told me to tell you that she put Molly and Kirayoshi together in Kirayoshi’s room and she’s going to let Devin stay in Molly’s room while he’s on the station; that way, he can be close to you.”

Miles looked relieved at that and sighed, “I should probably go to the infirmary and see how Julian’s doing with him,” he said in a worried voice. “Julian beamed him there nearly an hour ago and I can’t help but…”

“Why don’t we give Doctor Bashir a call from here, Chief?” Captain Sisko suggested in a calming voice.
Miles sighed and silently watched as Captain Sisko pressed the communications console on the desk, “Sisko to Bashir,” Captain Sisko said in a commanding tone. “I need an update on Lieutenant O’Brien.”

“Captain, I’m quite busy at the moment,” Dr. Bashir’s tension filled voice replied over the intercom.

There was a pause and Captain Sisko sighed, “Doctor, I have Chief O’Brien in my office and he’s rather concerned about how Lieutenant O’Brien is doing,” he replied in a firm voice. “I need an update from you.”

“Alright,” Dr. Bashir replied in a tired voice. “Come by in about an hour and I’ll give you a good update.”

Miles scoffed; an hour would give him time to check the shuttle for any of Devin’s belongings, clean up the mess Devin made, and also spend some time with Keiko, Molly, and Kirayoshi.

Captain Sisko gave him a knowing look and Miles sighed before standing up; “I suppose I should talk with Garak about getting Devin some clothes,” Miles said in a worried voice. “Devin looks so thin…”

Nodding, Captain Sisko was silent as Miles left the office and then turned his attention to the computer.

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