1. Assignment By Lieutenant Samantha Mason USS Banshee It makes me edgy having to push my way through the crowded daytime bazaar on Deep Space Nine. Even with station security looming about overhead, perched on the catwalks spying over the crowed bazaar below, I can't help to feel that I'm unsafe here. The architecture of the promenade doesn't make things any lighter either - the gray and black, deviled-horned looking walls, catwalk-rails, and adornments remind me that this was once a torture and work camp for hundreds of Bajorans. This promenade was probably filled with filthy Bajorans being dragged about by their Cardassian masters. The drab colors on the walls sometimes trick my eyes into thinking that the paint job is actually rust and blood left behind from the occupation. I'm an engineer, so, I don't even know why I'm being called down to the station's infirmary. The station's chief medical officer, Doctor Bashir, wanted to talk with me, and coincidentally, the night prior, I had just received a notice from Commander Shelby via subspace telling me of urgent business and work for me. "Lieutenant Samantha Mason?" Doctor Bashir grinned wide and held his hand out for mine. We shook and I followed him inside in the infirmary. "It's quite odd really. Command seemed especially interested in the man we found." "I haven't a clue as to what you speak of." The Doctor lead the way into a small examination room. Laying on the biobed was a Japanese man, battered and bruised. His skin looked jaundiced and his body meek. "My god," I said. I recognized the Japanese man, but I couldn't put a name to the face. I remembered only seeing the face once some five years ago. The Lao Tzu received a shipment of cargo freight that was originally from the Enterprise - it contained special transporter tanks that carried various people still in a quantum state. Commander Shelby and Doctor Emily Signaru had found them - people who were assimilated, left behind, but not quite dead. Seeing this oriental face brought a shiver down my spine - I remembered: the man's face had been scarred by dead and burnt tissue. He had been assimilated by the Borg and left for dead. I stepped backwards toward the door. I remembered there were thin tendrils licking the air out of broken blisters and holes in his cheek and they were whipping the air lunging at me. "Are you alright, Lieutenant?" I shivered and wrapped my arms around me. Doctor Bashir could see my woe - my great stupid eyes, can't seem to conceal anything about me I don't want to say. "He was in an escape pod, we found him while the Defiant was running exercises in the Badlands. He's a survivor from the USS Atlantis. Lieutenant Commander Akira." "What's Shelby want me to do with this corpse?" I frowned. My skin crawled to even be near him. "Commander Shelby," Bashir said. "Wants you to take him back to Earth with you on the Banshee." "Isn't this a job for the Banshee's medical officer?" "Commander Shelby's asked that you handle it." I turned to the body, then Bashir. He stood there waiting for me to accept the assignment. I waited for him to do something, anything to the body, to cover it, but he didn't move. I eyed Bashir suspiciously, but his look was grim. "He's sleeping," he said. "Dear Lord! He's awake!" I stepped further away my back to the door. "Yes." Bashir studied me with a confused look. "Commander Shelby wants you to readjust him socially and find out what happened on the Atlantis. Find out what he remembers. Commander Shelby seemed especially interested in Doctor Emily Signaru." "Right." I nodded. Shelby had mentioned everything too me the night before. "He still needs a lot of rest. We'll be transporting him to the Banshee tonight. Doctor Crusher's staff will be watching him and he should be awake soon enough." Bashir smiled a little one. The tone of his voice spoke volumes: he was eager and happy to rid of such a sorry specimen. "It won't be that bad." He tried a larger smile, flashing his gleaming white teeth, but I only held myself tighter and hunched over in a pout. Bashir left me alone in the room with Akira. I watched his lifeless body and stepped around him keeping my radius to him constant and far. I couldn't curse Shelby enough to give me this assignment. "Amy…" I stopped cold in my tracks and listened to his breathy voice hiss the end of that name. His yellow hand twitched; I bolted out the door rubbing my arms as I sped by Doctor Bashir. He said something to me, I could hear a few laughs, but their voices only drove me further away. Standing at the door of the infirmary, I didn't want to be out there in that open bazaar either. The drabness of the architecture rubbed off on the denizens, who looked like beggars from the seedier side of Victorian London and Bajoran slaves bound to their invisible masters. I hailed the Banshee. "Transporter room, I need a site to site transport from DS9 to the Banshee." "Ma'am," The Chief continued. "I can't authorize this use of a transporter unless there's an urgent reason." "I'm not feeling well." He started to speak, but I cut him off. "Please, I'm not feeling well. I just want to return to the ship and get some rest. Please." A moment passed. "Standby." I returned to the ship. I couldn't even face the chief behind the transporter console. He said I looked flush and feverish. I nodded, mumbled my thanks, and hurried back to my quarters. "Computer, all lights, one hundred percent." The room lit up like daytime. I huddled on the couch cursing Shelby and trying to forget about Lieutenant Commander Akira's jaundiced hand, his hoarse and yearning voice, and the Borg tendrils breaking out of his burnt cheek.