Chapter 15 - D*S*9*
Time had shattered. Francis Mulcahy, Catholic Priest and temporary host to the Prophets Of Bajor, was now viewing a scene of unspeakable carnage. It was a sadly familiar scene, provided through the venomous spite of General Bartford Hamilton Steele - The Third, temporary host to the Pagh Wraiths. The man who looked and sounded like but was in reality nothing at all like Sherman T. Potter laughed at him, and mocked an earlier gift he had recieved.
"The Priest has seen The Promise! Is he so fond of its result? Hmm? After all, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do!"
A combination of caring nothing about Steele's words and the sight of what lay before him had Mulcahy transfixed.
He was back in Israel, a few days after Christ's birth. He knew what was happening. To face it, The Priest spoke out loud. It was still terrible.
"King Herod learned of the birth of one who might one day take his throne. A petty and cruel king, he ordered the death of every male infant in his realm. In our traditions, this is referred to as The Slaughter Of The Innocents. But the king's soldiers refused to carry out so terrible a deed, and so three demons rose up at Herod's bidding, to carry out his wicked wishes."
What Mulcahy saw were not 3 demons, but rather men who behaved and moved like demons. The infants and their families both were put to the sword. The Watchers, an organization Francis belonged to, would record this as the last gasp of The Demon's Ride of the Horsemen. A man with wild looks and an evil glance shouted to his two fellows :
"Silas! Caspian! Carve the name of Kronos into those we send on! But before we dispatch, find out if any have seen Methos! Without him we are but 3!"
But their fellow was nowhere to be found, so a slaughter modern scholars doubt even took place went on with a literal vengeance. The Padre heard Steele laughing at him.
"So, Priest! It seems that the birth caused all this harm! Then there's the Crusades, the Inquisition--and on through! All this grief! All HIS fault! You, Priest, have no idea what you're up against!"
Mulcahy just smiled at Steele. He was not buying any of the bitter man's attempts to twist his faith.
"On the contrary, General, I know exactly what I'm up against! Someone who is overly fond of cliches! Now Its MY turn!"
The two vanished, leaving the Horsemen to complete their grisly work, and their awful search.
January 26, 1952
As Sisko awoke, he found himself in mid-20th century army fatigues, still ranked as a Captain. Beside him sat his ancestor and new friend, Sherman T. Potter. Potter looked terribly depressed. He was finishing talking to a middle-aged man with a drink in each hand.
"Uh-oh, Sherm! Looks like your pal's awake! Talk to you later! Abysinnia, Ben!"
"Uh, yes...sir! Sherman, are you all right?"
"Oh, just dandy, Ben! Considering. You all right? You seemed to take that whole whirlwind thing pretty hard. Not that I kept my--cHOOkies! Scuse me!"
"Let's just say I hate time-travel, and leave it at that, sir. Two questions, if you don't mind. The first is going to seem pretty damned insulting."
"Fair warning. Shoot!"
"Sherman, you are a man from the mid-20th Century South, and your wife is a product of that same culture. But you've both accepted a-----Damn, what's the current term---black man from the future who says he is your descendant. It was--quite different from what I expected, reaction-wise. I'm sorry to ask this, but---why?"
Sisko was afraid Potter might become angry. But quiet contemplation was as much a family trademark as temper and colorful language. Ben saw traces of his father's face in Sherman. It was almost unnerving.
"Ben, we are family. I've never told anyone this, but my great-grandpappy used to gad about with his maid. Had another family with her, folks we were never allowed to call cousin. My great-grandmother was a hard, cold woman who thought herself above a half-Cherokee like him. He liked his "common-law" wife better than his legal one. I liked her, too. To me, she wasn't uppity, or wanton, or that whole sorry glossary of nice-sounding hateful words. She was Auntie. Just Auntie. Nobody left of her brood, now. Just a fourth cousin, a science fiction writer in some big city I've never met. When you told me who you were, suddenly all the politics went away. People became people, like when I was very young.Oh, hell. Am I making any sense at all?"
"More than you could imagine, Old Man."
Somehow, Sherman knew that Ben meant that as a compliment.
"So what's the second question?"
"Sherm, where are we? When are we?"
"We're on a plane that just took off from Korea and is headed toward the US of A, hugging the coast for a brief time. But, Ben, its never going to arrive. In about 15 minutes, we're all dead."
"How can you be so sure?"
"That man I was talking to? He was my predecessor as CO at the 4077th. His name is Henry Blake, and he's headed home, after his discharge. BUT...."
Sisko knew what happened next. He had only skimmed through the O'Brien's book on the 4077th, but he still knew all too damned well what happened to Lt. Colonel Henry Blake. Sisko looked up.
"They couldn't have just put us on Krypton, could they?"
Despite the danger, Potter laughed at the joke. But that faded quickly.
"My God, Ben! What do we do?"
"Is there anything that you know--a piece of trivia, anything--that could convince Colonel Blake of our identity?"
"There is one thing, but I hope it works."
Potter walked up to Blake, and bid him come to the back of the plane with him and Sisko.
"Hey, guys! What can I do you for?"
Potter hesitated, then spoke.
"Sorry to do it this way, Henry. But there's no time. Henry Blake--THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!"
Blake's eyes quickly shifted from surprise to horror to determination. To Sisko's shock, Henry pulled a Claymore sword from his dufflebag. He held it up to Potter, who did not flinch.
"Neither of you are of my kind! Did Flagg send you? Or is your resemblance to that slimy fruitcake more than just coinky-dink? I swear, I..."
"Easy, Henry. If I just have my wallet-aaah, here!"
Despite the paradox, Sherman still had a wallet-size of the staff photo of him with the 4077th. Henry was amazed.
"Sergeant Klinger! No Burns? Colonel, you've got it made in a shade! You're--from the future! Pierce and Houlihan look older, a little! This is all for real! Geez Louise! Radar! How is..."
"The lad's fine, Henry. But you most definitely are not! Listen..."
A few minutes later, the plane veered off and narrowly missed being hit by enemy fire. Henry was being acclaimed for his odd, life-saving request.
"Guys, I owe ya! BIG! Howzabout some good bubbly? I got some in my other dufflebag!"
A shaken but calmer Sisko agreed.
"I could use some non-synthehol, right now, myself."
"Oh, great! Pierce and McIntyre left an IOU in place of my--A note? Abyssinia, Henry, signed Bart Steele the Fourth? Whose alarm clock is..OH, MY...."
A moment later, history resumed its course. Potter and Sisko re-entered the timestream, the death-cry of an Immortal carrying in their ears..
THE BATTLE OF WOLF 359
"Commander! C'mon! The Saratoga is done for!"
But Commander Margaret Houlihan was not leaving without her husband, Ben.
"You go ahead! I've got to get to him! He has to be alive."
As Lieutenant Klinger, Chief O'Brien and the Li twins went to continue the evacuation, Commander Houlihan heard the voice of her mentor, Curdzia Dax, berating her for holding out hope when she should just accept the facts.
"Get out of my head and shut up, Old Maid!"
Then, she found him. Doctor Ben Pierce was dead. But he couldn't die--what was going on? How could she marry a man whose leaving her would cause so much pain, if it should happen?
Outside, the Borg attack led by Blakeutus continued.
MASH 4077th, 1952
Colonel Potter was livid. A letter from home was the cause.
"Not home enough! That's what I'm hearing! Can you believe this? What can I do?"
Head Nurse Julian Bashir spoke up.
"Colonel, Sherman's a good man! Maybe he just expected to find those army boots under the bed a little more often!"
Colonel Mildred Potter reluctantly agreed with Julian. Sherm had always kept the home fires burning without complaint. Then, the wounded arrived.
"We have a problem, Julian! I have no idea how to perform an operation!"
"A double-problem, Colonel! I think somehow I do!"
Quark walked in to the Officers' Club.
"Worse still folks! These tall metal cylinders make the WORST Raktageno in the whole of Asia!"
"C'mon guys! WOUNDED! Ya know? The reason were here?"
All followed Jake O'Reilly without neccesarily knowing why. Father Rom and Doctor Leeta Dabo were roused from their slumbers, while Nog slept happily in the motor pool.
Kai Opaka walked into her office, only to find Kai Winn there.
"Kai Opaka? Oh, Prophets, you've been brought back to us, through this time-chaos!"
"Vedek Winn? YOU'RE my successor?"
"Well, yes. Aren't you pleased?"
"Winn, child, I love you. But you were always so morally ambivalent, despite your faith. Always placing goals ahead of ethics."
"Do you mean that in a good way or a bad way?"
DEEP SPACE NINE, ONE YEAR PRIOR
"Why, ehe-xactly are we hiding out?"
"Well, you see, Charles, at this point in time, Deep Space Nine was occupied by the Dominion. Their Cardassian Viceroy, Gul Dukat, does not care for me. Its mostly mutual, as was our love for his daughter Ziyal. Of course, my loving her didn't make him hate me any less! Quite the contrary! We seem to have slipped through to that point in time, and I think we should both keep quiet for now, or I'll slit you from ear to ear!"
"Yes, Doctor Winchester?"
"Was this dear Ziyal mayhap half-Bajoran?"
"Yes, she was."
"And does this Gul Dukat have a face that almost seems a pressed uniform?"
"Hmm. Now that I think of it, he does."
"And were they followed by a Cardassian whose face seems a wrinkled uniform?"
"That would be Damaar, Dukat's replacement and Ziyal's killer, coincidentally. Why?"
Charles Winchester grabbed Garak's small phaser, and fired at Damar's knee, causing his shot to go wild, missing Ziyal and Dukat, who then noticed them.
As Damar lay in pain, Charles responded to Garak's query : "No reason".
Dukat stared intently at Charles.
"Human, you just saved my daughter's life. That's a debt beyond comprehension I owe you. But the low company you keep..."
Dukat then quite calmly incinerated Damar. Garak found this amusing.
"Now, who WILL Weyoun insult? Tch!"
Dukat didn't get the joke, but laughed nevertheless, then raised his disruptor, and fired at Garak. Dukat was quick. Ziyal, sadly, was quicker.
"Father! NO! I told you I love Eelllll..."
To the horror of all 3 men, Ziyal died again, this time at the hands of her father, who quickly turned the weapon upon himself. Before dissapearing back to his own reality, Garak did get to cradle the dying Ziyal in his arms. His voice almost choked as he said "Thank You, Charles."
"I...You're...No! Oh, Please, no!"
Winchester didn't understand that Elim Garak really was grateful, in his own way. The pain of Ziyal's memory reminded him he was alive. Right now he felt so alive he could barely breathe for sobbing.
"OVER HERE, TRAPPER!"
Trapper John McIntyre had never been so glad to see anyone, let alone a part-human alien kid. The cornfields they were in seemed to go on forever. Alexander was sitting with an ancient-looking black lady who Trapper felt he knew, somehow. He said her name.
"Mayhap I is, and mayhap I ain't! What's wrong with you, Trapper John Francis Xavier McIntyre of San Francisco? You look shook up!"
Something felt so right about this lady, Trapper just opened up.
"Well, Ma'am, I am. I dreamed I was five or six different people, like there were reject versions of me running around. Some of the guys didn't even look like me, but they were me! Its like dreams I've had!"
Alexander spoke up.
"Guess what, Trapper! Mother Abigail says that my mother Kehley'r's human family is descended from you! You're my ancestor, and...owww!"
Mother Abigail hit Alexander lightly with her cane.
"When was you given leave to speak, Boy!? Would a Klingon woman have let that go? Don't tell me she would have!"
"Now, Trapper, don't fret none about those others! Soonways, the Gunslinger will draw you to be a small part of his quest. Then shall ye seek The Dark Tower, and fight your foe!"
"Who is that foe--mam?"
Before she dissappeared, and Alexander and him were returned, Mother Abigail told Trapper : "Who is always your foe, BOY!? He calls hisself FLAGG!"
Somewhere in limbo, Trapper said "Well, at least THAT makes sense! Say, when is "Soonways"?"
Deanna sat, and listened to Worf. He was still hiding something, something that was making him crazy.
"So did the Vulcan woman quiet the sehlat whelp?"
"Yes. Then the Jem'Hadar patrol passed, and all was well. Why wouldn't it be? I will leave, now, Counselor! I have my..."
"Not just yet, Worf. How did she quiet it?"
"Does that matter?"
"I believe she put it to sleep. No, I mean, she caused it to sleep. I--she--she was forced to smother the sehlat whelp. Sad, that this should happen to a child's pet child. I mean....I mean...AAAAHHHH!"
In Worf's mind, the "sehlat whelp" grew pointed ears and looked like a...
"KAHLESS! SHE SLEW HER OWN CHILD! ALL BECAUSE I URGED SILENCE! SHE SMOTHERED IT! I DID NOT MEAN FOR HER TO AAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!"
But there were no words for Worf. Only a world of shame and pain, and eventually-healing.
He had cradled the dying Margaret in his arms. Now, he was on Potter's ship, facing Burns down for the last time. Burns was indignant.
"By what right is that Communist Traitor on board the ship where I'll become President?"
Potter smiled, and those crazed eyes shown through.
"Don't count your ballots yet, Burns! Even a convictee has...Right Of Vengeance!"
"Oh, Frank! One, It was your father, not mine, who sold out Roosevelt at Yalta! Two, Margaret was my MATE! Three, It Is A Good Day To Die! FOR YOU!"
Burns just shook like a bowl of jello, waiting for Hawkeye's Scalpeleth.
1956 - Reborn
As the being who posessed Kira departed, having given Odo some answers he would have to ponder, he asked two more questions. The being who called the Prophets his "Children" nodded yes, that he should ask them.
"The things you've shown me have been amazing. But who in blazes was that Clayton Endicott I became and was it really only six days for you to do it all?"
"I love you, Odo. No comment!"
Odo would need to talk to Francis Mulcahy--about a lot of things. But for now, he at least knew that he had a destiny. Now it was just a matter of ciphering it out. He looked aroud, confirmed that "Endicott" was several realities away, and said three words before awakening Kira.
"Shut Up, Benson!"
Across town, General Steele screamed triumphantly. From across time, he gathered the 4077th and Deep Space Nine personnel to witness his victory.
"Priest, you've failed! What was all that soap-opera nonsense? Chaos? Confusion? Terror? That is our domain! Again, I ask you, What was it?"
The heroes and their allies smiled. They knew that Father Mulcahy had sent them through time and space for a reason. Even the most cynical of them could feel that.
"What was it, General? What was it you ask? That was Life--Our Domain! Care to go through it again?"
At that, the General began to shake. The Pagh Wraiths left him. They feared life and the living more than anything else. The Priest opened a portal for them.
"You are banished back to the beginning, there to repeat your mistakes as you always have! Farewell, grim brothers!"
Kira knew that she would fight the Pagh Wraiths again; they all would. But for the timeless Prophets, this was the final battle. Oddly, she said something to them.
"Blessed Prophets! HE says to give you greetings--and---and--Write More Often?"
Inside Mulcahy, the Prophets laughed heartily.
"HE always says that!"
Just then, Steele jumped up, towards the portal.
"No, don't leave me! You promised you would never leave meeeee....aaaahhhh!!"
The energies of the portal were somewhat incompatible with human flesh. The General would flip no more. The Prophets departed an exhausted Father Mulcahy. Sisko was the first to run up. Kira was next, hugging the instrument of the Prophets' Final Victory. Sisko spoke.
"Father Mulcahy! You just prevented the Fall Of Creation! What Do you do for an encore?"
A bit confused, the Padre said :
"Well, Captain, Colonel. I had been planning to visit that California theme park Mister Disney put up quite recently."