In which Ezri grew up in a Dostoevsky novel.
Ezri’s order of gach has arrived. The lead time on that was pretty extensive, since Jadzia’s been dead for at least three months. Unless this is a recurring charge to the symbiote’s account that just gets rolled over by convention. Hey, do you think that’s a common transaction code on Trill? In fact, it was a present for Martok’s party. A sample pack of 51 cases. Meanwhile, Julian misses Miles, whose shuttle is coming in half an hour so they can go play Alamo. However, when the transport docks, Miles is not aboard.
Sisko is pissed, especially since O’Brien was flying under the radar on New Sydney, following some ‘promising leads.’ He’s trying to track down Bilby’s widow, out of a sense of honor and obligation. Family’s the most important thing, after all. He tried to do it officially, but the non-Federation authorities on New Sydney didn’t cooperate. Sisko orders Bashir to give him a full write-up for the purposes of tracking down his chief engineer. Because Ezri has family in the area, Sisko’s putting her on the case. Ezri’s mom is a prominent mining concern, and has pull. Unfortunately, this may prove a problem, because they’re somewhat estranged after the Joining. The falling-out was over where Ezri would be doing her recuperation.
There’s another minor thorn, in that Ezri no longer has her family name – it’s Dax. Momma Tigan agrees to help immediately, but insists that Ezri come home to visit. Therefore, Bashir gives her the whole caboodle of information and some sympathy from another person with a rocky parental relationship. Also some dramamine.
Ezri is met first by her brother, Norvo the artist, with whom she has a great relationship. And her other brother, Janel the mine worker, with whom she’s kind of standoffish. He’s being set up as a Company Man, begrudging Ezri all the favors their mom called in to track down Miles. Norvo also has a job in the family business, doing bookkeeping. The two sons are concerned, behind Mom’s back, about sabotage from the Orion Syndicate who, you’ll remember, Bilby belonged to. And Janel is a bit pushy in this regard.
The family is not a fan of what’s happened to Ezri. It comes off as supportive, yet condescending. Clearly, not every Trill views being Joined as the ticket to glory and immortality that the Symbiosis commission portrays it as.
Norvo’s a little discouraged with his work, after some critical rejections from the Andorian Academy and a lifetime of being mentally beaten into the life their mom has laid out for him. Even in the future, unhappy families is a game everyone can play. Once she left, Norvo got drunk and defaced some of his art, prompting a confrontation between Ezri and her mother over her parenting style. Since Ezri has both real-world parenting experience and clinical training, she’s probably correct, but before they can get into that, Janel brings Miles into the room in handcuffs.
O’Brien’s in pretty bad shame, but the security guard only hit him the once. The rest of the bruises are from the Orion Syndicate, who also killed Bilby’s wife. The guard’s a little hesitant to lay blame on the Syndicate, who run things pretty well on New Sydney, and it’s a good bet that even if the guard isn’t working for them, the police probably have a bit of an Understanding.
O’Brien debriefs with Ezri, and Momma Tigan asks him to take a look at some of their malfunctioning mining equipment. Meanwhile, Norvo has destroyed a good bit of his work in a fit of pique, so Ezri, bereft of Miles to talk to, goes to council her brother. She offers him a vacation on DS9, but he’s actually got fingers in pies here on the homestead – pies he doesn’t want to talk about but which probably have something to do with the Syndicate.
O’Brien’s found the problem – a mislabeled part, which Janel suspects is deliberate. From out of the shadows comes a guy in a hard hat and a business suit that screams ‘mafia.’ He wants someone back on the staff, and knows a bit about O’Brien and his recent troubles. Thaddeo Bokar is a ‘commodities broker’ trying to engage in business with the Tigans. And once O’Brien leaves, it’s clear Janel is “it’s complicated” with the Syndicate – they’ve done some business in the past, he doesn’t want to get in any deeper. And apparently, Bilby’s widow is Known to Janel. In a way that makes it likely that O’Brien might suffer an accident.
Janel has a lot to learn about getting Starfleet officers to leave a situation. Like, if you’re seen with a shady smarmy dude with scare-quotes in his job title, maybe don’t vaguely and hostilly insist that they shove off as soon as possible. Janel clearly doesn’t have a head for HR. After this encounter, Miles gives his suspicions and undercover experiences to Ezri, and they go to check things out in the books. Like the review that Norvo’s having so much trouble with.
They should’ve brought Nog along, but O’Brien’s found out something that makes him suddenly suspicious of Ezri. Marika Bilby was on the company payroll when she died, and someone in the family covered it up. Bilby was a ‘shipping consultant’ and paid five bars for Services Rendered, before quickly getting raise upon raise. Ezri refuses to let O’Brien turn the evidence over until she finds out whose fault this is.
Momma Tigan didn’t know about it, but Janel definitely did. He calls her hiring ‘returning the favor’ to the Syndicate. The Syndicate bailed them out when a new mine opening briefly mentioned in act 1 dropped their sell price at a particularly bad moment. He made a deal with the Syndicate to survive, and in return the Syndicate asked them to give Marika a job, as a form of widow’s pension. Turns out Bilby turning himself in saved her after all… for a while. Family is the most important thing, after all. This is when Norvo gets involved – Janel tried to make him alter payroll records.
The salary increases came when Marika demanded more money for her pension. Then she died. Mom doesn’t believe Janel’s denials, but when Norvo comes to his aid, it sets off Ezri’s Russian Literature detectors. Norvo went to meet with her to try to reason with her, but things… went wrong. The thing about pulling at threads is that eventually thing thing you used to have unravels.
Once the trial is over and Ezri is back on the station, she and Miles catch up. Norvo has 30 years, and since New Sydney is not part of the Federation it’s kind of up in the air as to whether the prisons are in the mold of the attempts at rehabilitation (failed or not) that we’ve seen over the years, or if he’s just in a hole away from other people. A definitive sentence rather than ‘until you’re deemed psychologically fit to be around people’ seems to suggest a more punative model. Kind of surprising that Miles isn’t a bit more understanding, though. Ezri, of course, blames herself for leaving without taking him with her.