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When he arrived at security, Odo found Ridia already in, seated at the main desk and glowering at the computer terminal. Ridia looked tired. Odo wondered how much later he’d stayed the night before, and then swiftly kicked himself for being part of the reason Ridia had to stay. But, there had been no help for it. The sooner they got this case wrapped up and their prisoners off the station, and the sooner Odo’s questions were answered about the child, the better. Then they could all get some rest.

“Ridia,” Odo greeted, “how did we make out?”

Ridia vacated Odo’s seat, and moved to stand behind his chair. “The Computer is mostly done searching. I pulled up the preliminaries, and there are sixteen possible matches for your big-city dead prostitute. Out of those, ten cases have children that are accounted for. I tossed out two women that had only male children, so that left us four names.” Ridia leaned over the desk, did a couple taps to the keys. “And these are it, boss."

The files Ridia selected flashed up on the screen. Odo arranged them into a four-square pattern so he could compare the images. The first woman he dismissed immediately, as she was part Rigellian, and some of those physical traits would have passed to her daughter. The second had been dead too long for her child to have any memory of her. He paused on the third, skimming the data summary. There was enough similarities in the facts that she could be the one, but Odo had to be sure. Then he moved onto the fourth, and froze.

The woman on the bottom corner of the screen had to be the girl’s mother. Odo immediately recognized the black, sleek hair, the violet eyes, and the same shade of pale, almost white skin. Had her skin and her mouth not been ruined by Spice, this woman would have been beautiful, and she had certainly passed her features onto her daughter. Odo’s charge was nearly a spitting image. He tapped the woman’s picture and pulled up the complete file.

Lavida Renn, deceased, was aged twenty-seven at the time of her death. The date of death was only five weeks ago. She was Kromian, which explained a lot. Kromians were close enough to Terran genetically that it was often hard to tell the difference, even in a computer scan, but the white skin and violet eyes were a national trait. Had Dr. Bashir been in the infirmary at the time Odo brought the girl in, it would have saved them all a lot of time. This detail, Bashir would have caught, even when Odo himself had missed it.

The woman’s autopsy had revealed that she had given birth at some point, but no child was in the residence where her body was found. Neighbors reported having a seen a child in Lavidia’s company, but they hadn’t seen either one of them for weeks. Toxicity reports revealed high levels of Spice and other opiates in her system, as well as trace amounts of other illicit drugs, but not in any combination that would have killed her. Lavida Renn’s cause of death was Corellian sleeping sickness.

“Look here, Ridia,” Odo mused. “Corellian sleeping sickness. That’s perfectly curable. Why would she have died of that?”

Ridia looked over Odo’s shoulder and skimmed the readout. “She lived in Grech’noct City on Kromia. Their planet is rough, and that city’s gotta rep for being one if its worst. Kromia’s run by planetary capitalists. She probably didn’t have the money for a doctor. Judging by the tox report, though, it looks like her money was going other places. Worst part is, garbage like she was taking is a whole lot cheaper and easier to come by than the real stuff. Lots of self-medication going on in places like that.”

Odo turned back to the screen, his face grim. It was barbaric, letting a young woman die of something so easily treatable just because she lacked the funds for medicine, even if she had been a drug addict. Hell, Odo thought, that could’ve easily been treated, too. He and Nerys had done plenty of complaining about the Federation over the years, but something like this wouldn’t have happened on one of their worlds. A child wouldn’t have lost her mother and been orphaned, over something so small.

The rest of the file contained various statements by the city police regarding their investigation, and the search for the child. The death investigation itself was open and shut. Even Odo would’ve handled that the same way, but they’d made very little effort into investigating the child’s disappearance. Very little effort. Odo found no information that could tie her to Corixian, and no information that would recommend the competence of the Grech’noct city police, either. It would, he concluded, be useless to call them and try to get anything beyond what was contained in the file. Obviously, they hadn’t cared all that much about a prostitute’s missing daughter, but it didn’t matter, because she was found now. Instead, he looked up Lavida Renn’s social serial number and pinned it to a request for birth records and a genetic profile. He signed his security clearance to it, and transmitted it to Kromia.

The file also told Odo that Livida Renn had no known relatives, and that she had been interred at the public’s expense. Her family were listed as deceased, or unavailable. Dax had been right. So far, unless they found a father in those birth records, his girl was all alone.

And it would be him that had to tell her.

Odo left off the child’s case, having gotten as much information as he could for now, and moved on to that of Corixian and his crew. He turned to Ridia.

“Do you have that report for me?”

“From Sona and Greyson? Yeah. File index is right there."

Odo pulled up the file Ridia pointed at, and read it through. Sona and Greyson hadn’t gotten much of anything new. They’d managed to squeeze some more names and few ports of call out of the crew, but Sona’s recommendation had been to basically treat it all with grain of salt. Odo harrumphed as he read. As if he ever approached anything in his work without that doubtful little grain.

He heaved a sigh, and rose. “Work with what Sona and Greyson got us, and see where it goes. I’m heading out for a patrol. I need to clear my head, and put everything I’ve read together, and then I might have some other ideas for you.”

“Sure thing, boss,” Ridia replied.

Just as Odo was getting ready to step out onto the currently empty Promenade, a transmission came in from Magistrate Bazaan. Odo returned to his desk to take it, and spent over an hour catching up the Magistrate. All of their reports had, of course, been copied to her office, but the Magistrate wanted Odo to clarify a few things for her personally, and she wanted play-by-plays of the interrogations. The case was moving steadily forward on Bajor’s end, but extradition hadn’t yet been approved, so Odo would have to hang on to his prisoners for a day or two longer. Odo assured the Magistrate the prisoners were going nowhere, and signed off. 

Odo decided since he was still stuck at his desk, he’d better check his messages. Still nothing from Kromia, but he hadn’t expected a quick response. Capitalism and paper-choked bureaucracy often went hand-in-hand. There were several more messages, most of which could wait, but he opened a memo from Dax, copied to the Prophets and everyone that announced that all of the children (except one) had been reconnected with family, and that DS9 was down to thirty-two still awaiting transport. Federation vessels remained at the disposal of those families needing assistance. There was also an attachment from Colonel Kira, outlining DS9’s docking procedures, adding that the station was there to serve during this dark time.

Well, at least it was mainly good news.

By the time Odo was done with messages, the Promenade had woken up. He’d missed his chance for a quiet patrol, but there was at least one advantage to the delay. He stepped out of security, and took a long look around. Half a grin turned up one side of his mouth. Quark’s was open by now. It had been days since he’d had time to harass his least favorite Ferengi bartender, and annoying the daylights out of Quark might be just the thing to clear his head. It was, after all, one of Odo’s favorite pastimes.

Odo crossed the Promenade and stepped into the deserted bar. Even Morn hadn’t made it in yet. The only bodies in the place were Quark’s team of Ferengi waiters who were setting up for the day, and one lonely Dabo girl who was looking in a hand mirror, applying a layer of screaming yellow lipstick on her mouth. Odo balked at that crazy shade, and then spied his query behind the bar, digging around underneath the counter.

“Quark!” he roared. His voice echoed ominously in the empty bar.

Quark jumped, and smacked his head on something. Even Odo winced as lumpy, bald head met whatever-it-was. But Odo was careful not to show any sympathy.

Frack it!” Quark cursed, rubbing his head as he rose. “That hurt! What in the---Oh. Odo. Of course. Who else would darken my doorstep this early?”

“I’m sorry you feel that way, Quark. Would you like me to leave?”

“Yes!”

“Too bad,” Odo retorted, and slipped onto one of the bar stools. He folded his hands on the bar top in front of him, and smiled.

Quark scowled at him, flapping his hands. “You can’t sit there, Odo.”

“And why not?”

“Because you’re not going to order anything, and-before you ask-I’ll tell you how I know you’re not going to order anything. I know you’re not going to order anything, because you never order anything, and therefore you never pay. I’d appreciate it if you’d leave the seats at my bar open for paying customers.”

Odo raised a brow, and looked around the bar. “Quark, your bar is empty. I’m the only one here.”

Paying customers, Odo,” Quark snipped. “Are you going to order something from the bar, and then pay for it?”

“No.”

“Then go! I have better things to do this morning than waste my time dealing grumpy Changelings.”

Odo was sure to keep his face poker-straight. “Station regulation number two-zero-seven, regarding the operation of businesses on the Promenade, states you cannot ban anyone from entering the bar, unless they are disturbing the peace, or have committed a crime. Have I committed a crime, Quark?”

“Does assault count?” Quark barked, pointing at the minor red mark on his head. “This is your fault. I could have a serious brain injury! As a matter of fact, I think it would be in my best interest to file charges. Against you.”

“I would certainly be happy to help you with that,” Odo replied. “But your ‘assault’ will be ruled accidental, Quark.”

“By who?”

“By me.”

“Well, isn’t that convenient.”

“Yes,” Odo smiled. “It is.”

Quark heaved a sound of frustration. “You couldn’t have come in here just to annoy me, Odo, and cause personal injury. Tell me what the heck you’re after already so I can get rid of you, and get on with my day.”

“I never said I was after anything,” Odo replied.

“Then why are you here? Doing another one of your surprise inspections? Gonna cite me for a wobbly chair leg again?”

“Why, Quark? Is there a wobbly chair leg I need to cite you for?” Odo turned around on his stool, and started to rise. “Maybe I should have a look around, and-“

“Uh no, Odo, don’t do that,” Quark said, grabbing Odo’s sleeve. “There’s, uh, there’s no need for you to go to all that trouble. No wobbly chairs here, they’re all quite stable.”

Odo yanked his arm out of Quarks grip, and settled back in his seat. Slowly. He crossed his arms over his chest, and gave Quark the best Constable Odo glare he could conjure, holding it until Quark started to squirm.

“Oh, c’mon, Odo,” he begged. “The chairs are fine. You can’t be serious.” He put his hands together at the wrists in the Ferengi fashion. “I swear, Odo, really. No wobbles. I checked all the chairs myself after your last inspection.”

“No wobbles,” Odo repeated, still keeping his glare on ice.

“No, Odo. No wobbles.”

Odo was about to say something else, but stopped when Quark’s first customer entered the bar. “Morn,” Odo greeted.

The Lurian trader gave Odo a half-hearted nod, and lumbered to his usual stool. Quark turned to the taps and poured Morn’s first drink of the day, plunking it on the bar before Morn even sat down. Odo waited patiently until Morn downed the first glass, and was served another. Casually, he moved two stools over, and took a seat next to him.

“Morn,” Odo began, “let me ask you something. Have you noticed any issues with the chairs around here lately? Any malfunctions, or abnormalities? Anything that could be hazardous to one of Quark’s paying customers...For instance, have you noticed any…wobbles?”

Morn opened his mouth to answer, but Quark cut him off. “Now how would Morn know that, Odo? He never leaves this stool, the lump, and you and I both know I had it reinforced for his safety. Morn is our best VIP customer, he’s like family. We always take care of our family here at Quark’s. Don’t we, Morn?”

Morn rolled his eyes, and belched.

“So,” Odo prompted. “About those wobbles, Morn. Have you noticed any?”

Morn cast a dour eye at the Constable. He shook his head to the negative, and raised his glass for another round.

“There, Odo, you see?” Quark crowed. “No wobbles, like I told you.”

Odo could do this all day, but he really did have better things to do, and so did Quark. He rose slowly from his stool. He put his hands on the now vacant seat, glaring at Quark, and fake-tested it.

No…wobbles…Quark,” Odo growled.

“I got it, Odo. No wobbles. You have my word.”

Odo turned to go and let the Ferengi off the hook, but Quark had to add one last thing.

“Odo, is that really what you were after? Wobbly chairs?”

“I told you when I came in here, Quark,” Odo groused, “I wasn’t after anything.” He gave Quark a scathing look, and a harrumph, and headed out the door.

“Well…fine!” Quark sputtered. “But don’t think I’ve forgotten you still owe me one! You owe me, Odo!”

Odo chuckled to himself as he exited the bar. Really, there were times he felt almost guilty. Sometimes Quark made this way too easy for him.

A chirp from his comm badge sounded, ending his fun. Odo answered. It seemed there was an issue of possible contraband on an incoming freighter, and Ops wanted his eyes on the problem. Odo acknowledged the message and headed for the pylon.

It was from there that Odo’s day descended into darkness.

 

 



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