Nekea and Jonas remained in the safety of shadow and darkness until the last moment they possibly could. Outside there was light and fresh air, but there were also patrols. They couldn't be found near as easy in the maze of tunnels. After Jonas' lamp flickered out, she became their eyes. She was a bit more claustrophobic than him and when there was faint rumbling, she began to have an anxiety attack. Jonas soothed her through it and explained that was normal.
There were a few times they heard the workers and the overseers in the distance. If they seemed to be drawing close, they stealthily crept away. The noises could be disturbing and frightening. They heard mutterings, the constant noise of the drilling and digging, and occasionally the cracking and snapping of whips, chains, and bones. They held each other as Jonas prayed and she struggled to navigate their way to an exit.
She was concerned they were lost. It was one thing to study and memorize a map and another to explore the actual area. Every tunnel looked the same. It was easy to be disoriented. She hadn't brought a terrible amount of food and insisted Jonas consume more. Cardassians had a slower metabolism thanks to their physiology. A soldier could go much longer than her. They had a small window in which to catch their rescue.
Just when she was about to despair, a blonde mouse scampered across her feet. She hissed at it and it boldly stood on its hind legs and squeaked at her. She wanted to kick the vermin from her feet, but Jonas was intrigued.
"You know, I almost think you were right!" he said. "This little guy has been following us!"
"Do you know what they do to spies on Cardassia?" she growled at the animal.
The mouse squeaked again and scampered toward a different tunnel. Then it stood on its legs again and squeaked.
"You know, when a ship is drowning at sea, there is a piece of good advice about rats on Bajor," Jonas grinned in the dark. "Do they have a similar adage on Cardassia?"
"Follow them, for they know better than we about how to avoid drowning!"
They began to follow the mouse even though they knew it was probably madness. Sure enough, though, they began to smell the scent of sweet air and to see light. When they stepped outside, the mouse began to shimmer amber. They thought they were hallucinating. The mouse shimmered, expanded, changed shape, and the Changeling Odo stood before them.
"Odo, please, I beg you!" Nekea cried in despair. "Don't drag us back to Terok Nor and to the Prefect! Please!"
"Leave us alone, Collaborator!" Jonas shouted with hatred, ready to fight tooth and nail.
Odo stared at them with his crystal blue eyes for a moment and then spoke, "Just tell me one thing, Nekea: Do you actually love this man, or are you doing this out of petty revenge? Do you plan to use this Bajoran for some personal gain, or do you plan to spend the rest of your life with him?"
She was flabbergasted by his question, "What does that have to do with anything?"
"Answer me," the Changeling's eyes, so cold and dispassionate before, suddenly became pleading and haunted. "I need to know the truth of this matter."
"I love him," she told him clearly.
The Changeling smiled, "That gives me much needed clarity and hope. I see so much ugliness on that station. You have no idea. I need to believe there are good, loving people in this universe."
"What are you going to do?" Jonas asked warily.
"I am letting you go."
"Oh, thank you, Odo!" Nekea almost burst into tears of relief and gratitude.
"Dukat only instructed me to keep an eye on you. I have done that. Now I will watch as you resume your lives. There is another thing. Take this."
He gave them a data rod and Jonas said, "What is this?"
"It is my discreet contact information," Odo answered. "It also has security codes that you may find useful if you are in a pickle. I know by now that you are some sort of Dissident, Nekea, but you require every bit of help you can get. I can see that Gul Russol is also a good man. I was not expecting that. I may have to befriend him."
"What about your Master?"
Odo made a disgusted noise, "You think I admire that man? On the contrary, I hate him. I am loyal to him only as my employer. I keep the peace on the station and try to enforce something resembling justice. I let the Prefect think I am his pet. I let others think so too. You certainly fell for the act, Nekea."
"Are you a Prophet?" Jonas blurted.
That made Odo scoff, "I don't believe in your Prophets, Bajoran! Maybe you shouldn't, either!"
Nekea flashed the Lover icon at her throat, "There may be some things in this universe beyond our understanding."
"There are things that are," Odo paused, "puzzling."
"Things like love?"
He didn't answer.
"Thank you, Odo."
"You should go. If Dukat asks, I will tell the Cardassians I lost track of you. If he presses the matter and they somehow trace you here, which they shouldn't since I erased the logs, I will say you vanished in the mines and are likely dead. I'll collapse a few tunnels to make the story a bit more convincing. They are not going to go through the effort of excavating the entire mine for a single Bajoran and an unstable Cardassian woman. I don't think even the Obsidian Order would go to such lengths."
"I think you are a Prophet and don't know it," Jonas quipped.
"You see Prophets everywhere!" Odo mocked him. "You think your Cardassian woman is some sort of Prophet! Ona, right? And are you Groob? The Lovers? If you were Prophets, you could make all this madness stop! You could end this Occupation, solve all of Cardassia's problems, and return to your mythical Celestial Temple!"
"Maybe the Prophets can't curb the evilness of people," Nekea mused.
"Then they are not gods, are they?" Odo snarled. "No gods I would count on, that is for sure!"
She heard the sounds of a ship. The Changeling transformed into a mouse again and made for the tunnels. The Dissidents had come for them after all and she and Jonas might finally be free.
Months later, the pair was sleeping soundly in a small village on a colony planet when Nekea had a dream. She was in a bed with Dreth Rajo. They were both naked, but there was nothing sexual going on. Instead, they both lay as though they were paralyzed. She felt terrible pain wracking her body. She couldn't trace the source for a moment. It certainly wasn't caused by anything physical. Dreth was looking at her in confusion. Then she realized he was causing her torment but she didn't know how.
She couldn't move from the bed and away from him. She knew if she could just get out of the bed, the pain would stop. She begged Dreth to stop doing whatever it was he was doing. She told him to free her from this spell. He refused. He wouldn't stop the pain and he wouldn't release her. She cried out in agony and that was all she could do.
Suddenly, Jonas appeared between them. He was naked too, but again, the nakedness clearly represented their vulnerability and innocence. He had freedom of movement. He placed his hands on Nekea's arm. His touch was warm and it seemed to be helping. She felt less frozen by the second and Dreth's face fell. He reached for her and she felt cold ice in her heart.
Nekea screamed again at Dreth to stop. He refused again and looked at the Bajoran with hatred. Jonas ignored him. He began to pull Nekea out of the bed and carried her away. The moment she left the bed, the pain stopped. She sighed with relief. Her skin began to feel less clammy. Jonas carried her from the room into what appeared to be a tunnel of white and warm light. He held her to him as she wept. The pain was gone and he was warm.
When she awoke, eyes filmed with tears and her wrist aching, Jonas stirred at her side. Her scar had long gone, but every now and again, it ached with a phantom pain.
"Ona, are you alright?" he asked drowsily. "Was it another nightmare?"
"No, my love," she kissed his hair. "It think it was a dream of healing."