In which Jake begs for an interesting story while holding a monkey’s paw.
The title quote is from Ecclesiastes 9:11, and promises that life won’t meet your expectations. The commentary interprets this as ‘whatever you do, God will make whatever he wants happen anyway, so deal with it. It’s followed up by ‘by the way you could die at any time.’ But don’t go reading too much into this. Bashir and Jake are chatting about a paper he’s written, which apparently caused quite a stir among the experts. Jake is along to write an article about Bashir, but it’s going so incredibly dully that Jake is inner-monologuing and writing a letter of surrender, since there’s nothing remotely interesting to the layperson about Bashir’s ranting. Mercifully, they receive a distress call from a Federation colony under Klingon attack. Bashir initially refuses to take Jake into the situation, but he insists, so off they go. Plus, now Jake will have something interesting to write about.
O’Brien has asked Quark to come up with a decaffinated coffe that Kira can drink while pregnant. His first attempt is… not good – apparently nobody’s solved the decaf problem adequately yet, and this segues into a conversation about who has what rights during pregnancy. With O’Brien and Keiko’s baby inside Kira, the Ferengi tradition of considering pregnancy a rental has slighly more merits than it otherwise might. This is broken up by Sisko, who just got word from Bashir and is not in a good mood. The Defiant wouldn’t even get there before someone else can go rescue his son, but fortunately Dax is good at defusing his nerves.
Bashir and Jake are going to have to land the runabout, for various reasons, and this serves as a dramatic breath before the scramble of the emergency ward – a place where Jake is woefully out of place and completely in the way. Jake sees a guy who their medican science might have been able to save, but since it’s a triage situation they have to let him die. Bashir examines a guy who claims to have been injured in battle, but later turns out to have shot himself in the foot to get pulled off the line. He starts to write, and gets pulled in to help keep a patient subdued, then carry stretchers.
Somewhere between minutes and hours later, Jake seems to have made the acquaintance of this war’s very own transfer from the MASH 4077th. Moving modies, attaching techno-toe-tags, carting in the new wounded, and getting progressively more covered in blood until finally there’s nobody left to save.
Ben Sisko is still stewing over Jake being missing, and distracting himself by taking an interest in Odo’s trip to the infirmary – Odo was going to try to do a flying leap on some cheaters using birdform, but wound up smashing his face on the floor. His condemnation of humanoid frailty is not what Sisko needed to hear right now, sadly. While they brood, though, I find myself wondering more about what the sensation of ‘trying to change form’ feels like when you’re a non-shapeshifter. Dax comes in to report that the Farragout, the relief ship they were planning on, has been destroyed. Ben Sisko suits up immediately.
Bashir playing with his food turns out to be a little much for Jake. When he’s coming back from a trip to the porcelein throne, they talk about the ensign who shot himself. The Federation does all those psych tests, but while that may reduce the rate of this kind of thing, it’s never quite enough to eliminate it completely. Bashir trades intel with the local doctor, who I have no choice but to call Major Houlihan until they mention her actual name. Her husband is science officer on one of the ships in the area, the Tecumseh, which surely hasn’t been mentioned because it’s about to be blown up.
The Federation is now in a ground war, and has enough tech in play to keep Starfleet from using transporters and other fancy tech. Also, in the heat of battle, Klingons tend not to use distruptors. Whether this is for Honor, or as Radar indicates because they just forget about guns is anyone’s guess. Klingons also don’t pass up medical personnel. Also, Radar O’Reilly’s real name is Kirby, which I promise to try to use instead.
In the middle of the night, the Klingons take out the field hospital’s generator, and all the spares are keeping up the facility shields. Bashir and Jake go to the Runabout to get its generator, but it’s a kilometer away, and Bashir isn’t holding his phaser and Jake isn’t armed at all. It’s about now that the shelling starts. Jake’s doing well, but a close call panicks him and he abandons Bashir and gets lost until he trips over a dead Klingon, and then an entire battlefield. Oh, sorr,y ‘until’ was the wrong word. He finally stops when a wounded bulldog of an officer punches him across the face for a medkit. Old Bulldog went out defending his platoon as they exfiltrated into a hopper, and he stuck around just long enough to listen to Jake trying to process the day and remind him that he abandoned a doctor out in the field.
Sisko’s trying desperately to keep busy as they go to rescue Jake… oh yeah and Bashir he’s important too. Jadzia tries to comfort him by recounting a time when one of Dax’s past hosts was also helpless to save a loved one. This brief diversion allows us to catch our breath, and we resume when Jake makes it back to the settlement. Bashir made it back okay, with a few plasma burns and the generator. Kirby makes Jake go see him, and Bashir’s relief that Jake is alive and apologizing to him probably makes Jake feel way worse. I say ‘probably’ because I’m still pretending there’s no internal monologue, even though it’s pretty clear that this is the article he’s writing.
Jake takes some food to the ensign who shot himself in the foot, and who’s considering what his career prospects might be once the court martial is over. I have to presume that Starfleet isn’t going to be particularly punative here, even if they keep him away from combat roles. Something he’s considering is working on a mining operation – the Federation phasers open asteroids for mineral extraction, because of course they do. Now Jake understands the ‘cowardice’ this guy experienced. The guilt of leaving your friends in combat.
Off duty, Kirby and the doctors are talking about the Klingon advance, and the relative merits of being killed with a bat’leth or a disruptor. It’s triggering Jake a bit, and Bashir takes him out of the room for some impromptu counseling, which Jake refuses.
Later that night, the Klingons go back to shelling, and this time the doctors are evacuating into an atmospheric hopper, and the shelling isn’t doing Jake any favors in the ‘peace of mind’ department – he’s hiding under patio furniture until the compound starts collapsing around him. Moments later, the Klingons make entry, and Jake at least manages to grab a phaser and flail wildly. He brings the cavern down on them and wakes up once his dad’s dug him out. Not only that, Gowron’s reinstated the cease-fire, and they both call him a hero for sealing the cavern long enough to get the patients out.
In wrap-up, Bashir and Ben Sisko read Jake’s article, and they call it good work, because he told some hard truths.