Captain Benjamin Sisko bid his officers goodnight after concluding their meeting in the main conference room of Deep Space Station 9. The meeting had gone well, and there was hope in the air for the first time in a while, following the recent announcement by the Romulan Empire that it would join the Federation ‘” Klingon Alliance in the Dominion War.
Jadzia Dax, calling on their close friendship through her previous host, Curzon Dax, asked him if he had anything planned for the rest of the evening, and Sisko just replied with some comment about catching up on paperwork. After she got off the lift, Sisko went to his quarters and poured himself a drink.
And he waited.
He knew Quark was not expecting him until much later, when most of the station had turned in for the night. Sisko had to commend the Ferengi for his discretion. Quark did not usually reserve his holosuites for such a late hour without asking a few questions. But for the past three weeks, he never said a thing. He would just wait up late in his bar, open the doors to Sisko, and beckon him to the usual holosuite. He would say, “Please remember to lock the main doors to the bar when you’re finished, Sir,” and then depart. If Sisko didn’t know better, he would think the Ferengi was going soft. But he knew it was more than that.
As he sat and waited for the remaining hours to tick by, the Captain of Deep Space Nine still felt uneasy about this new hobby he had acquired. It was not really his style, which is why he did not share it with anyone, not even his son Jake. To his officers and friends on the station, his hobby and greatest obsession was famous, namely the sport of Baseball.
But for the past few weeks, Benjamin Sisko had developed a new and secret interest, one which troubled him. He knew he was not alone in this pursuit. Jean-Luc Picard, Captain of the USS Enterprise NCC 1701-E, had once shared in conversation his longtime fascination with the old fashioned hardboiled detective story. Particularly one involving a private eye called Dixon Hill. Captain Picard told Sisko about the many occasions when, due to technical malfunction or alien interference, a Dixon Hill case on the Enterprise Holodeck often took unexpectedly real, and deadly, turns.
But that was not what bothered Sisko this evening. It was not the fact that he had become fascinated with a holosuite detective story which worried him. It was the character that he enjoyed playing in them. A gun for hire named Hawk, in the Spenser detective series, created by the 20th century author Robert Parker.
Sisko had only read two or three of the Spenser novels, and was cross with himself. It was true that Hawk seemed to be a grudging ally of the Boston private eye called Spenser. In fact Hawk had already saved Spenser’s life on more than one occasion, and had stood by him against seemingly hopeless odds. But that did not change the fact that the man called Hawk was a criminal as well as a bodyguard, who was ready to beat up or shoot anyone as long as he was paid for it. He was a man who lived by his own code, with little respect for the Boston police force or anyone else except his employer of the moment.
That being the case, why was Benjamin Sisko so fascinatedby him?
As he coddled the glass in his hand, the Captain searched his memory for some reason. He did not have far to go. It was the Romulans, and his conscience. The announcement of their entry into the Dominion War only served to remind him of all he had secretly done, together with the Cardassian Garak, to manipulate them into joining. As he thought back over all the compromises he had made, the lies, the coercion, the deals (including bribing Quark), the falsification of records, and finally, the assassination of a Romulan Senator. He had been a party to all of that.
Sisko tried to tell himself that it was all for the greater good. The new alliance between the Federation, the Klingon Empire, and the Romulan Empire would turn the tide of the war and save the Alpha Quadrant. He kept telling himself that he was ok with that. That he could live with that. He still believed it.
Now he realized why he had recently become so interested in the Spenser novels. The detective himself was basically a decent man, who tried to live by certain rules, principles, and beliefs, much like Sisko himself. But Hawk was a free spirit, who had lived a hard life, and knew that survival involved not only breaking the rules, but also throwing them out and making some of your own. He was no saint, but he did what was necessary in order to do what was right. On many an occasion it was thanks to his individual spirit that he was able to save Spenser’s life, as well as the beautiful Susan Silverman. Not to mention helping Spenser stop quite a few deranged psychopathic murderers. Honor and courage, mixed with controlled anger, cynicism, and brutality.
Captain Sisko could not deny it. All his life, especially since he joined Starfleet, he had tried to live like Spenser. But these past few weeks, he had lived like Hawk.
And he was ok with that.
Benjamin Siskoknew that we all carry our own demons. He had striven so hard to control his own since the Dominion War began. But now he recognized in a deeper sense that life does not give us the luxury of living a peaceful and civilized existence for too long, in any century. Eventually the realities of life, and the darker nature of all living beings, intrude. We are all reminded that true evil does exist, and we cannot meet it head on with merely our better angels to fight it.
Hawk never had a problem with these questions, and that is why Siskofinally acceptedthe truth.
He wanted to be like Hawk, at least to some extent. That is why he began to rent out the holosuite, and play the role of Hawk in those Spenser stories come to life. Hawk was a part of him, and Sisko needed to embrace thatif he was going to win this war.
Sisko checked his chronometer, put down his glass, and stood up. It was time.
As always, Quark opened the doors of the bar to him. “Right on time asusual Captain.” Sisko nodded and replied “I appreciate your flexibility with my schedule Quark”. Quark was silent for a moment, and said to Sisko “Captain, do you know why I don’t mind?” Sisko was silent. “It’s like this.” Quark continued. “Ever since you stepped onto this station, I have had to put up with your Federation Hu-Man qualities. The pride, the righteous heroics, the irritating certainty that you seem to exude that life can be conquered by simply following the Starfleet Code of Conduct Manual and the Federation Charter word for word.” Quark stepped closer to Sisko.
“But when you offered me that bribe awhile back in order for me to look the other way, I realized that anything was possible in the galaxy. When the great Captain Sisko, the Emissary of the Prophets himself, could offer me a bribe, I knew that life had only one fundamental guide. The Rules of Acquisition. The day you bribed me was the proudest moment for me to be a Ferengi, and I will always be grateful to you for that. So come any time you want to use my holosuites Captain. I charge extra for the late hour anyway.” Quark turned and left the bar, making his usual request to lock up as he departed.
Benjamin Sisko shrugged off the Ferengi’s statement, for now. He would have ample time to consider it later. He approached the holosuite, and called up his usual program. Before he entered, he went into a nearby closet which Quark let him use. He changed out of his uniform and into a finely tailored suit, with white shirt and tie, and expensive shoes. He returned to the holosuite entrance, activated the Spenser program, and entered the suite.
There he was, standing near an abandoned boathouse on the bank of the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The sun was setting as he looked across the river to see the skyline of Boston, with the golden dome of the State House, the blue glass of the Hancock Tower, and the Prudential Tower a little further to the right. As he stood there taking in the view on this clear summer evening, he heard someone call softly to him “Hawk, over here!” He turned to see Spenser, the private eye, gun drawn, the muscles of his boxer’s body tense with determination, crouching behind a car. Sisko ran to join him.
Slipping into the tone and dialect he had used the past few weeks in these adventures seemed almost natural to Sisko now. “What’s up babe?” he asked Spenser. The private eye replied “Thanks for coming. I need your help. Susan’s been taken captive by that gang leader I was tracking, She’s in that boathouse with him, and three of his men. We’re going to have to move quickly. You ready?”
Captain Sisko reached into his well tailored suit’s inside jacket pocket to pull out a very large gun with a barrel twice as long as Spenser’s gun. “How does Hawk always manage to keep such a gun hidden in such a tight fitting suit?” Sisko silently asked himself. But at that moment, he knew it didn’t matter. He didn’t really care. It just felt right.
It was just what Hawk would do, and he was Hawk.
Hawk put aside the thoughts of his other self, and disregarded the reality that he was really acting in a holosuite fantasy manufactured on a space station in the 24th century. Wasthat really reality?
At this moment he was where he belonged. Beside his partner and best friend, trying to help him save the life of his other best friend. Spenser asked him again “Hawk, are you ready?”
Hawk replied with a grin that spread from one end of his face to the other.
“Ready when you are Spensaaaa!”
Sources: StarTrek.com, Wikipedia, TVGuide.com