727: The Wait

by Rada Dengar
Concurrent With and After The High Road: Two

-=Main Engineering; USS Serendipity=-

It was a quiet time in the Engineering department.

When two ships are in battle as they were soon scheduled to be, it is normally the busiest time here; with every strike causing damage which needs to be assessed and repaired in an instant or as close a period of time as they could get.

During that time, every thing would move quite rapidly as they ran from place to place to every machine that demanded their attention. Between the people few words could afford to be spoken and those which were, were typically so rushed and technical that it was more a matter of trusting the knowledge of the listener than hoping you were clear enough yourself. It was a time of excitement when the heart, the hands and the mind all fought to their fastest speeds.

Now though, stillness had enveloped the department and each person stood almost frozen in place. Not a word was spoken. Even with the gentle hum of the engines, the melody of beeps from the equipment surrounding them and the seemingly far off sound of the ship reminding them they were to be on alert; they could all hear the silence. Even their own breathing, which should have been heavy with anticipation was just one more sound absorbed by the atmosphere before it could even begin to approach their ears.

There was nothing else they could do. Any other day there were a hundred repairs they could make to take their minds of what was happening but all that had to be suspended now, its welcome distraction, they were told, not welcome here. They couldn’t afford to take a single system off line or even impair its function so all of those tasks had to wait. So they were stuck, standing ready to move the moment they were needed, it felt like it would never come.

As they stood poised at their consoles, ready to jump into action at any second, some small part of their minds could not help but drift to what was going on aboard the Romulan ship; which must have been near as they’d dropped out of warp. They had no real idea of what was going on over there, the life signs on that ship of both Starfleet and Romulan alike could be spiralling ever downward and all their current readouts would look exactly as they did now. All the information of the detailed scans taken from that ship was right here in this computer but they couldn’t allow themselves the luxury of pulling them up, their attention had to be fixed on this ship, here.

The sense of not knowing was a powerful one and the temptation to just take a brief look was almost too much. There was only one thing which allowed them to stop themselves; the thought of what they might see. To see the death of a friend before your eyes was one of the most horrific things imaginable but to see it as a number simply decreased by one; that was truly disgusting.

So instead they had to wait, completely still. Not a trace of adrenalin in their minds but with their hearts pounding so fast that they seemed to be demanding that they simply do something, anything, rather than just stand there and watch as ship’s systems stayed right on going. All these screens were staying exactly the same, all these people were staying exactly the same and internally they were all being driven crazy by the wait. The pressure of the contradiction between the internal and the external, the heart and the mind was too much to keep on going like this.

“I…” Rada started trying to speak to Jamie Halliday who stood with a look of forced fascination staring at the console next to him. Rada really wasn’t sure what he was going to say, just that he had to say something, then he noticed that there was finally a small and very brief change on his screen “I’ve just registered that the phasers have been fired.”

Now there was nothing forced about the fascination Jamie held on the machine before him “Confirmed.”

Now, suddenly the atmosphere was truly electrified anew as energy pulsed through every engineer in the department. There was silence no more as they pounded their consoles and everyone shouted their new reports. It wasn’t long before the phasers were fired again and the Sera began moving. Then for a few minutes there was calm before Jamie Halliday noticed something.

“We’ve got a problem,” he announced.

Rada noticed it, too. “I see it, Jamie,” he quickly said as he scrolled through everything he could find trying to see how this was happening. The problem was on the Romulan vessel.

He tapped his combadge ““Dengar to bridge. There’s no time to explain, but I need you to open a channel to the Romulan vessel and patch it down here.”

Reece gave Tenney the nod and she set about it. Tolleth’s face appeared on the screen in front of Rada. He huffed with frustration that he had to speak with these people again.

[Not that I mind, but why am I now speaking to you instead of the Trill?] the Romulan asked, sounding bitter and very tired. This was a man who knew that things were not going well for him.

“I urgently need to speak with your Chief Engineer.” Rada answered ignoring his question, speaking as quickly as he could while still being understood.

[I am the Chief Engineer. Speak.] Tolleth slowly responded, trying to sound commanding at the start but giving up by the end.

“Our sensors have detected a critical problem with your EPS manifold which you don’t appear to have registered.”

[We recognise the problem, we’ve been having problems with it for a while then the explosion knocked it completely out of alignment. I didn’t think it was worth an alarm,] Tolleth acknowledged apathetically.

“If it’s not corrected then…” Rada tried to explain but Tolleth was already completely aware and cut him off.

[There’ll be plasma back up. I know.]

He didn’t seem to care and Rada didn’t understand. His knowledge of Romulan ships couldn’t be that bad. “If it’s not purged the pressure will force the plasma to ignite and there’ll be a chain reaction,” he objected.

[I know.] Tolleth replied sadly. [It’ll destroy the ship. I knew this already.]

“I can tell you how to fix it,” Rada replied but Tolleth didn’t seem to care.

[I know how to fix it. The button to purge the plasma is right here.] He indicated the panel next to him with a yawn. [I’m simply not going to push it.]

Rada tried to think of an argument, but nothing was coming to him. Jamie seemed to be doing something behind him and then all of a sudden he found himself materialising on the Romulan bridge, right next to Tolleth. The Romulan seemed momentarily startled and drew his disruptor on Rada.

“I’m afraid you’re not going to be pushing it either,” Tolleth said as he swung his chair around to face Rada, who rapidly began searching his pockets. “Go ahead draw your weapon.”

“Why have you brought me here?” Rada said as he managed to locate the packet he’d been looking for.

“It wasn’t me,” Tolleth replied as Rada threw a toffee in his mouth. Tolleth seemed mildly amused.

[It was me!] Jamie yelled over the still active channel. [I didn’t think I had time to waste asking you!]

Accepting this, Rada raised his hands up, his eyes glancing over to where the button was so close, and said with impressive calm, “I don’t actually carry a weapon.”

“That is unfortunate,” Tolleth replied, keeping his weapon fixed on Rada as he deactivated the channel to the Serendipity then removed Rada’s combadge from his chest and placed it behind him.

“Why do you want to blow up the ship?” Rada asked bluntly.

Tolleth shook his head. “I don’t want to, I have to. The Hugreti artifact turned out to be worthless, and our ship has been crippled. I have nothing to offer the Empire for my redemption. I know now that I am not going to escape this and I have no desire to spend the remainder of my life a prisoner. At least if the ship is destroyed, then so will be the knowledge of what we’ve done here.”

“I take it from the fact that you didn’t object to me raising a weapon that you don’t mind if only you die,” Rada said matter-of-factly.

Tolleth agreed. “It’s all the same to me,” and then leant down and removed a small disruptor from his ankle holster. He threw it to Rada who caught it awkwardly against his chest. “Shoot me if you wish. I’ve done the calculations. There’s only about twelve seconds before the plasma reaches critical pressure anyway.”

Rada examined the disruptor in his hand and pointed it at Tolleth but he knew he couldn’t fire it at him. He tried to aim it just at the Romulan’s own disruptor but his finger floated over the trigger and refused to clamp down. His hand was shaking but he couldn’t force it.

“Ten, Nine, Eight,” Tolleth counted.

Rada grabbed hold of his wrist with his left hand and tried to force some type of control over it but he just couldn’t pull that trigger. His hand was aching but would not move.

“Seven, Six, Five.”

Rada could see this was hopeless and threw his hand open allowing the weapon to drop to the ground. His hand was still cramped but he controlled it again. He ran towards Tolleth, trying to push past him, but found himself pushed easily back to where he’d come from by the Romulan’s superior strength.

“Four, Three, Two,”

Rada charged again trying to get around Tolleth but that button was behind him no matter where he came from and Rada was knocked back again.

“One. Bang.” Tolleth leant over and pressed the button himself, releasing the plasma pressure.

He admitted, “You’ve got me. You can’t kill me, but neither can I. I guess it was wishful thinking for me even to try,” he placed his disruptor down on his console then turned back to Rada.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to kill you either,” he really did think too many good people had died for Taris already, seeing her for who she truly was had quickly worn her charms off him.

“Then what do you intend to do?” Rada asked, not quite sure how he should react to this turn of events.

“I guess now I’ll have to try to escape,” Tolleth replied, he was still very tired. As Rada looked around he realised that Tolleth the only Romulan still left in the room.

“You know my people will try and take this bridge soon enough. They’ll probably be tracking me with their sensors and my being here will surely bring their attention to the fact that you’re the only one left.” Rada said.

“I realise that I must be quick,” Tolleth acknowledged as he looked up at Rada. “Will you try to stop me?”

Rada doubted there was much he could do to stop Tolleth and anyway, part of him didn’t want to “Taking control of the bridge has to be my highest priority so I don’t think I can pursue you until after I contact my ship.”

Tolleth smiled slightly and threw Rada’s combadge to the opposite corner of the bridge. “Go. Contact your ship. I’ll be gone by the time you do,” and true to his word, by the time Rada had reached where it had landed, Tolleth was gone.

Lt. Commander Rada Dengar
Chief Engineering Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

726: An Eternity

Concurrent with The High Road

-=Armory, USS Serendipity=-

Zanh, Blane, Briggs and Lindsay stepped out of the turbolift door. The tension between the Sera's Second Officer and the Captain from Temporal Investigations was still clear, but they were both determined that it would not interfere with what they had to do.

TC knew he would need both eyes looking out for his Captain, his crew and young Lair Arie and couldn’t afford even one to spend its time watching Lindsay. Though constantly cautious, he realized that he had to make himself trust Will just enough if they were going to pull this off- and he was determined they were.

TC quickly selected a phaser rifle and pistol that he secured to his belt. A tricorder, two concussion grenades and a mobile med kit completed his ensemble. He then assisted others in choosing a weapons load out suitable for the mission.

Lindsay went about his business in silence, glancing a look in Blane's direction every now and then. For his part, felt he’d sized up Blane pretty well during their little talk before and believed that even if they didn’t like each other, was still exactly the type of man he wanted, even needed, on this mission.

Liis was certainly not one to miss all this and though she was not aware of the exact details of the conflict, she knew TC well enough to trust that if it were going to be an issue he wouldn’t keep it from her; a brief look in Blane’s eyes was all the confirmation she needed. She didn’t have time to question him anyway. They now had less than ten minutes before the first possible opportunity to get on the ship where Keiran may already be fighting for his life, she intended to take it.

They wasted no time in selecting their weapons as they’d each been in enough similar situations before to know what worked best for them. Each took a standard hand phaser and clipped them to their respective belts then chose their rifles; deciding based around their own personal skills between power and precision.

Will grabbed a rather large rifle but Liis immediately took it from him and put it back, handing him something more appropriate. The one she’d chosen would be just as capable of taking out any Romulans and there was a point where a weapon getting more powerful just meant a higher chance that it would either misfire or damage one of the Romulan ship’s systems it shouldn’t and their own people would get hurt. She wasn’t going to risk anyone getting hurt.

Will was accustomed to leading, not following, but the Captain had told him she was calling the shots and she was following through. The way they each moved was fast and efficient, which considering their respective backgrounds wasn’t surprising, but Zanh Liis was moving the fastest. As soon as they were armed she was turned around and heading back to the turbolift, moving so quickly that it was impossible to get ahead of her.

With all four on board she gave the order that they were moving to transporter room three, where they would meet up with the rest of their team.

The minutes leading up to their departure seemed like hours to most. Many milled around impatiently not entirely sure what to do with themselves. TC observed each from a distance, eyeballing their choice of weapons and offering words of encouragement to any who seemed overly anxious. Eventually he made his way to the captain.

He approached and faced her, placed his hand on her shoulder and squeezed supportively. "How are you doing, Sir?"

"He's over there, Thomas," Liis' voice was low, and heavy with the weight of the task that they were facing as she deftly avoided answering his question. Saving Lair Arie and Salvek from Taris was their official mission: making sure that her husband, and partner for all those Jumps and all those missions, made it through this as well was her personal one.

"I'm certain that he's already on board that ship, and just as determined as I am to see that this ends here, for good." Realizing that she hadn't given him an answer and that his eyes still sought one as to how she was managing, she nodded to him slightly and drew a shuddering breath. "As soon as I see he's all right, I'll be much better."

"Then let's get this show on the road," Blane replied, giving her shoulder one more squeeze before releasing her. "Let's bring them home."

She did not notice the small transponder that was now securely attached to her shoulder where TC’s hand had been.

"I concur. What is the damn, hold up-," Zanh was about to tap her badge and read Reece the riot act, but just as her hand reached the metal, he was hailing her.

[Reece to Liis. Hey, that rhymes!]

"We’re ready for transport." Zanh replied curtly, not wanting to waste a second.

[We can’t. They did get their shields up. What’ll we do?]

Liis, TC, Will, and Paxton Briggs all exchanged a glance, as Zanh balled up her fists, raised her voice and gave Reece a single, definitive command.

"Fix it!" Zanh slammed her hand back onto her badge to close the signal, and then raised it into the air to garner the attention of her officers. "We're going to split into two transport groups. Commander Blane and I will go first, with team one. Marley, Stokes, Chapman, Everheart, you're with us. Captain Lindsay and Commander Briggs will transport over with the rest of you in the second round."

"Captain Zanh," Lindsay watched his tone, and his expression as he spoke up. He didn't want to undermine Liis' authority in front of her crew, but he had a promise to keep, to a man that he was certain was probably already waging a personal war on the very ship they were about to beam to. "I would request to accompany you as part of your team."

"Denied." Zanh answered without hesitation. Lindsay blinked indignantly, and Zanh elaborated for not only his sake, but that of the others present. "You're a Starfleet Captain, Will. Your leadership skills are too valuable to be wasted or to be risked by you and I going in the same transporter cycle. If the Romulans find a way to divert the beam or scatter my molecules into space like dust in the wind I do not want you going with me. Understood?"

Will bristled and sighed, but Liis knew that was the absolute best response she could hope for. "Aye, Sir."

"Take your positions." Zanh indicated to the others and they climbed onto the transporter pad. She leaned toward Lindsay and snagged him by the sleeve, leaning close to whisper into his ear. "William, I appreciate what you're trying to do. Don't worry. You'll only be two seconds behind me."

"Two seconds..." Will answered softly, "is an eternity, and you know it."

Liis wasted no time in joining the rest of her team. "Adjust the coordinates for the second transporter cycle to put the second team a short distance away from the first," She instructed the transporter operator. "That way if one escape route is cut off hopefully they'll be able to create an additional one for us."

TC turned to the rest of the away team as the transporter began its cycle. “Remember to close your eyes during transport, it could be dark over there and your eyes will adjust faster if there not recovering from transporter glare.”

The team closed their eyes as the transporter began to break them down into molecules. When they opened their eyes they stood in the docking bay of the Romulan ship.

Then the fireworks started.

The beams deposited Blane, Zanh, and the rest of the first wave of Sera crew onto the Romulan ship directly behind Salvek.

“Captain! It is good to see you. Arie is in the shuttle.” The Vulcan informed.

*Of course she is. Where else would she be.* Before she could give voice to her internal monologue, Liis' thoughts came to a grinding halt. Her eyes darted around the bay, seeking one form; one face she had to see for herself before she could force her feet to move a single step.

O'Sullivan immediately tilted his head in her direction and held her gaze, raising his hand in a silent gesture of greeting. He seemed both at once pleased, and sorry, to see her standing where she was. She understood exactly why; she felt the same way, finding him in his current location.

“We’re going home, all of us, I promise you.” Zanh assured Salvek, who was clearly at the end of his strength. They needed to get this over and done with. “Blane! Melt the controls to the bay door. We don’t need the Romulans opening it up and sending us out into space.”

"Aye, Sir." As Blane set about his task with the help of the rest of team one, across the bay O'Sullivan finally turned to the familiar man who had just materialized over his shoulder and scowled.

"You weren't supposed to let her outta yer sight!"

"She gave me no choice, Keiran," Will protested, knowing even as he offered it that the answer would not satisfy. "She insisted, and the Sera is her ship. Only two seconds. I was right behind her."

"Two seconds is an eternity," O'Sullivan rumbled, "and you know it."


Captain *William Lindsay
(as told by Rada Dengar)
Temporal Investigations

Commander TC Blane
Second Officer
USS Serendipity NCC 2012


-=/\=- Zanh Liis
Commanding Officer
USS Serendipity NCC 2012

725: The High Road: Two

by Salvek, *O’Sullivan and Reece
…continued from part one…

-=Aboard the Romulan Ship=-

“This is it, the shuttlebay is on the other side of that hatch,” Keiran said.

Farnsworth was already scanning the hatch and beyond. “Arie definitely went through here, Commander. There are no Romulans in the shuttlebay.”

“Proceed,” Salvek ordered. Keiran opened the hatch, and stepped through into the shuttlebay along with the rest of the team.

“She’s in the shuttle!” Farnsworth yelled, finally picking up Arie’s life signs.

Arie heard the shouting, and peeked out the cockpit window, expecting a hoard of Romulans to be converging on her. To her surprise, the first face she saw was that of her father.

“Oso-mekh!” She shouted, pounding on the cockpit window. Salvek saw her and waved to indicate he knew she was there. Before they could make it to the shuttle however, the bay doors opened, and Romulans began flanking the doors, firing at the away team. Salvek, Keiran, and the others all dove for cover behind storage containers in the room. They were still too far from the shuttle to make it there safely.

Several disruptor blasts hit the shuttle itself, burning holes into the hull.

“Arie! Raise the shields!” Salvek yelled over the firefight. He saw her nod, and a moment later the shuttle’s shields snapped into place, deflecting the weapons fire. Arie had already tapped into the controls and was ready to blast the shuttlebay doors off to make her escape, but now with her father in the room there was no way she could do that without having Salvek, O’Sullivan and the others blown out into space.

Before long, two dozen Romulans were flooding the bay with weapons fire. Salvek and his team were hopelessly pinned down and doing everything they could just to hold the Romulans at bay.


“Take us out of warp and raise shields,” Reece ordered the moment Hok indicated they were in range. “Hail the Polaris.”

Ashton Ledbetter appeared on the viewscreen. He clapped his hands together in delight.

[Oh! I’m so happy you are here! Salvek’s team was heading for deck six over there. He said he needed your help there in the main shuttlebay. You can’t beam though, their shields are up.]

“Not for long!” Reece said, and Ledbetter could tell by the gleam in his eyes that he was not kidding. “Keep the Polaris out of the fight in case we need you to beam anyone up. Serendipity out.”

[You’re welcome!] Ashton shouted, just before the screen winked out.

“Reece to Liis. Hey, that rhymes!”

[We’re ready for transport.]

“We can’t. They did get their shields up. What’ll we do?” Reece asked.

Liis responded with only two words.

[Fix it!]

“You heard Crinkles. Let’s get those shields down.”

“Phasers ready.”

“Then by all means, shoot them!” Reece said.

Talbot worked the controls, and fired on the already weakened Romulan ship. It took only a few moments to bring their shields back down.

Sue Tenney grinned, as her comm panel lit up.

“The Romulans are hailing, Commander.”

“Oh, this should be good,” Reece said. “On screen.”

[I am Subcommander Tolleth. We request a cease-fire to discuss our… disagreement.]

“Sweet. Let’s discuss. I say, you will stop your attack on our Away Team, return all of them, including Lair Arie immediately, or we will resume attacking your ship. What say you to that?”

[I’m afraid that is not possible. We do not know where the girl is.]

Reece rolled his eyes. “I don’t think you understand just how screwed you are. I’ve got every phaser array and torpedo tube on the ship pointed right at your head. And I mean that literally. Talbot, lock on weapons on this dude’s head.”

“Ready sir.”

“Good. Now, let me explain to you the level of screwedocity you’ve achieved. Right now on your ship there is an overemotional Vulcan missing his daughter, and there’s about to be a really pissed off Bajoran hot head with an axe to grind because you just cut her Honeymoon short by about twelve days. I’m the closest thing to a voice of reason you have left, and being that you almost killed me and my best buddy back on Lethus, I’m perfectly happy to blast you out of the stars right now. But since I am the voice of reason, I’ll give you one chance, right now, to surrender unconditionally and return our people.”

[I’m afraid that’s not possible.] Tolleth knew surrender meant an immediate execution at the hands of Taris.

“So you are choosing the Vulcan and the Bajoran? Your funeral.”

Reece shook his head, and ordered the channel closed.

“Transports in progress,” Talbot reported, as the Serendipity crew began to flood the Romulan shuttlebay.

Reece smirked, right up until the ship shook around him.

“Romulans have their weapons back! Shall I raise shields?”

“No! We need to be able to bring the away team back. I have an idea,” Reece said. Suddenly the strangest sensation of déjà vu came over him, like he had done this before. “Hok, move us so the Consequence is between us and the Romulans. That way they’ll hit the empty ship instead of ours.”

-=Romulan shuttlebay=-

The transporters deposited Blane, Zanh, and the rest of the first wave of Sera crew onto the Romulan ship directly behind Salvek.

“Captain!” Salvek said with surprise, as the new arrivals took up the fight with the Romulans. “It is good to see you. Arie is in the shuttle.” Salvek was drenched in sweat. The sheer heat from the battle had increased the temperature in room fifteen degrees centigrade.

Liis looked across the bay, and caught sight of Keiran on the other side. Alive and well, and himself being joined by the next wave of transports from the ship. He looked back and saw her. His expression was a mixture of relief and sadness. Relief to have her in his sights, sadness that their inability to rescue Arie before she arrived meant she was now in the place where he least wanted her to be.

“We’re going home, all of us, I promise you.” Liis said to Salvek. She gripped his shoulder with all her might. His eyes looked so exhausted to her, emotionally and physically. This needed to end, and it needed to end now. “Blane! Melt the controls to the bay door. We don’t need the Romulans opening it up and sending us out into space.”


Reece chuckled, as the Romulan weapons fired several times over, but could not reach the Sera. His plan had worked, and the Consequence was taking each shot meant for the Sera.

“Can you hit their weapons array? Nice and easy, we got a lot of people over there.” Reece asked Talbot.

“Yeah, a few shots on minimum power.”

“Go for it,” Reece ordered.

Talbot fired the phasers back, hitting the unprotected disruptor array, and knocking it off line, but not before one last shot ruptured the core of the Consequence.

Reece saw small explosions tearing through the ship’s hull. “Get us away from that thing Hok!”

The Ferengi slid the ship safely out of range, just before the Consequence erupted into a fireball, sending shards of the TI vessel hurtling in every direction.

“We’re being hailed,” Tenney reported.

“Our Romulan friends?” Reece asked.

“No, Captain Ledbetter.”

“Oh.” Reece said, the smile disappearing from his face. “Forgot about him. On screen.”

[My ship! My ship! What have you done!]

“IT WAS THE ROMULANS!” Reece shouted defensively, in protest.

[I’ll have all your pips for this! You and Zanh Liis both!]

The screen went blank once again, but Reece continued to argue with the view of the Romulan ship.

“It was the Romulans!”


Commander Salvek
First Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

*Commander Keiran O’Sullivan
Security Liaison,
The Alchemy Project


Commander Dabin Reece
Chief of Sciences
Currently in Command of the USS Serendipity

724: The High Road: One

by Salvek, *O’Sullivan and Reece
Following Slowed to a Stop

-=Aboard the Romulan Ship=-

Through the blue haze of the transporter beam, the interior of the Romulan ship began to take form, as did his crewmates. At Salvek’s side was Keiran O’Sullivan; behind him, four security officers, armed with phaser rifles, knives, photon grenades, and anything else they had a moment to grab before departing on the Polaris.

The corridor was dark, and for now at least, empty. Smoke billowed from a damaged power conduit, and the harsh red glow from the computer panels indicated that the ship was still on battle alert.

Ashton had beamed them within fifty meters of Arie’s life signs. The deck they were sent to housed the brig, which Salvek assumed was where Taris was holding Arie. Find the brig, find Arie, and get out before anyone was the wiser was what Salvek had hoped for. With a gesture of his hands, he motioned for Keiran to take two security officers down the corridor in one direction while Salvek went the other.

*And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye.* Keiran thought ironically, recalling the ancient song from Earth. With a wave of his rifle, Keiran and his team vanished down the hallway.

Salvek pressed himself tight up against the wall, hugging it close as he jogged, with his rifle held at the ready before him. The sounds of crackling energy from damaged equipment and alert klaxons mixed the thumping of his footfalls on the deck, and the beating of his own heart in his chest.

He glanced over his shoulder at Farnsworth, who was scanning with a tricorder. Farnsworth simply shook his head, indicating that he still couldn’t get a clear reading through all the interference.

Salvek turned back to the front, glancing at the names on each door as he jogged down the corridor. At each bend he would stop, lean slowly out to peer around the corner, and continue on when he saw the coast was clear. If he had had time and clear foresight, he would have replicated a Romulan uniform to wear. No one would have been able to tell him apart from any other member of the crew in the poor lighting.

After two minutes of searching, he came to a large, heavily reinforced door, marked brig. Farnsworth scanned through the door, as Salvek kept a cautious eye on their surroundings, looking for any signs of trouble.

To his dismay, he heard something, the sound of footfalls approaching rapidly.

“Ready weapons,” he warned, dropping to a knee, along with the rest of his team. The footfalls became louder and louder, until Salvek caught sight of a tall figure in a Starfleet uniform coming around the corner.

“Whoa! It’s just me,” Keiran exclaimed, as he skidded to a stop and held his hands up in the air. “Looks like ye got to Scotland first.”

“I beg your pardon?” Salvek asked.

“Never mind, I’ll explain later.”

Farnsworth returned to his scan. “I’ve only got one life sign in there, and it’s Romulan.” He said with a shake of his head.

“It could be interference masking her life signs. Secure the room Commander O’Sullivan.”

Salvek and Keiran took up position on either side of the door, with security officers right beside them, all training their weapons on the doorway.

“All weapons set to minimum stun?” Salvek asked one last time, lest anyone accidentally fire into the room and hit his daughter. Keiran and the other glanced at their power levels, and nodded.

Salvek tapped the control panel, and the door slid open with a great hiss. He held his phaser ready, but saw no one as the door opened, then he looked at the floor.

Farnsworth has been correct, their was one guard in the room, and he was already out cold on the floor.

“At ease,” Salvek ordered. “Search the cells.”

Salvek led the others into the room, looking in each cell, but finding them all empty. Keiran went to the computer panel, setting his rifle down on it, as he looked at the display, then up to the ceiling. The Romulan lay at his feet, with a trickle of green blood dripping from his head. There was also a spatter of blood on the console.

“She was here, her DNA is in this cell,” Farnsworth said. “But she’s gone now.”

“Commander Salvek, would’ya hav’a look at this please?” Keiran asked. Salvek walked up beside the Irishman, who pointed up at the ceiling. “Ruptured power conduit, cut off power to the forcefields. And it looks like the Romulan got a hell of a blow from the computer panel, probably during our attack on the ship.” Keiran indicated the drops of blood on the display.

Salvek looked at the information on the screen, and knew exactly who had brought it up and why.

“Good girl,” Keiran said with a grin. “If I was the nine year old daughter of the two greatest theoretical warp engine researchers in the galaxy, I’d be headed there too.”

“How far?” Salvek asked, examining the map Arie had left on the screen.

“The shuttlebay is two decks down. Looks like she took the service conduits.”

“She’s headed for the shuttlebay,” Salvek informed the others. “Follow us.”

Salvek led the team out of the brig, and as he turned the first corner, the bulkhead next to him exploded. Salvek was thrown to the deck, and rolled out of the way as the next disruptor blast screeched above his head.

“Everyone down!” He heard Keiran shout, as the corridor filled with the orange glow of Federation weapons. The lone Romulan dodged Keiran’s shot, and tried to fall back as he realized he was outnumbered six to one. Farnsworth caught the man with a shot to the back of his leg, and he fell to the deck with a groan.

“Drop the weapon!” Keiran warned, as he closed the gap between himself and the Romulan with several long strides.

The Romulan threw his weapon away, and rolled over onto his back.

“On yer feet!” O’Sullivan shouted. Behind him, Farnsworth was helping Salvek up off the deck. The Vulcan dabbed at a trickle of blood from his lip, but signaled that he was no worse for wear.

The Romulan held his hands up in surrender, but Keiran knew better than to trust the man any father than he could throw him, no matter how far that may be.

“Intruder alert! Security to deck four!” The Romulan got out the warning, before Keiran could hit him with his phaser and knock him out cold. The red alert klaxons turned blue, and a new alarm sounded. Down the corridor in each direction, forcefields began snapping into place.

"Damn," Keiran whispered.


Arie tiptoed between the large storage crates, heading for the shuttle on the far side of the bay. She had not yet figured out how she was going to traverse the twenty-meter space between herself and the shuttle without the two Romulans in the room noticing. She had the weapon she had taken from the guard in the brig, but she didn’t know if she could hit them both before one of them had a chance to shoot at her.

As she contemplated her next move, a klaxon began to sound, echoing through the bay. She instinctively lowered herself to the ground behind the crate and gripped the disruptor tighter. Then she heard the voice of Taris over the loudspeakers.

[This is Taris. A Federation team is attempting to free the prisoner. All officers report to deck four. Leave no survivors.]

Arie heard the sound of the bay doors opening, and peeked out between the supply crates to see that both of the guards had left the room. She took off for the shuttle, and walked up the ramp into the cockpit. She scanned the controls quickly, tore off an access panel, and began pulling on wiring.

-=Deck Four=-

“Salvek to Ledbetter.”

[Go ahead.] Came Ashton’s all too cheerful voice.

“We are trapped on deck four. Can you beam us to the shuttlebay on deck six?”

[Sorry Commander, but they’ve gotten their shields back up. I can’t transport you right now.]

“Very well. How long until the Serendipity arrives?”

[Four more minutes.]

“We are going to deck six. Inform Captain Zanh we will need assistance at the main shuttlebay. Salvek out.”

Salvek tapped his badge to close the link, and turned to his men. “The hatch to the service conduits is just beyond the first forcefield. We’ll set photon grenades to destroy the emitters.”

Farnsworth set up two grenades adjacent to each emitter, and when he was ready, the group dropped back as far as they could, and covered their heads. When the timer expired, the grenades exploded, sending pieces of shrapnel hurtling at the away team. The deck around them shook and everyone tumbled to the ground in a heap.

Salvek quickly scrambled back to his feet.

"Anyone injured?" Salvek asked. Farnsworth pulled a shard out from his hip, holding one hand over the wound to stop the bleeding and his phaser in the other.

“I’ve had worse,” he answered.

“Into the conduit,” Salvek ordered. Keiran led the way, and Salvek brought up the rear to make sure everyone made it in safely. Just as he was climbing through the hatch, he saw the corridor beyond the forcefields in each direction flood with Romulans as they converged on the away team’s position.

“Commander Taris, the Starfleet intruders are heading down through the conduits,” One of the Romulans spoke into a communicator on his wrist.

Salvek did not hear her reply, as he pulled the hatch closed behind him.

-=Romulan bridge=-

Taris slammed her fist down on the armrest.

“Any idea where they are going?” Taris asked through gritted teeth.

“They could be going anywhere Commander. Main engineering, one of the shuttlebays, and escape pod.”

“Can we transport them into space?”

“No Commander, transporters are off line.” Tolleth reported.

“Do they have Arie?”

Tolleth scanned the away team, but detected only the Vulcan and five humans. “No, she is not with them! She’s not in the brig either.”

“What? Where is she!” Taris leapt out of her chair and pushed Tolleth aside; looking at the internal security scans. “The shuttlebay! Lock the bay doors, and divert every hand to deck six. I’m going down there.”

“But Commander, the Serendipity is arriving any moment now!”

“And we are outgunned Tolleth. You know we cannot mount a fight against them now. The girl is our only hope. As long as we control her, the Serendipity will not dare destroy us. Stall them for as long as it takes to repair our weapons, and then we will send the Serendipity back home in pieces.”

-=Deck Six, Romulan ship=-

Salvek stepped off the last rung of the ladder. His away team stood huddled in the small chamber, waiting for the First Officer to give the word.


Commander Salvek
First Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

*Commander Keiran O’Sullivan
Security Liaison,
The Alchemy Project


Commander Dabin Reece
Chief of Sciences
Currently in Command of the USS Serendipity

723: Une chaîne d'amour: Two

(A Chain of Love)
By Jariel Camen

Soundtrack:The Grand Finale from Edward Scissorhands,
by Danny Elfman


When You Wish Upon A Star (Mannheim Steamroller rendition)

…continued from part one

Fleur shyly slid her way towards the table of adults. Dane grinned from beneath his bangs at her.

“You’re a girl!” He said playfully.

“Shut up Cristiane,” She replied.

Camen blinked his way back to lucidity, and added a scoop of mashed potatoes to the next plate.

“Fleur!” He called out, so she would know he was there. “Let me finish preparing the plates, and I will bring you yours at the end, unless you are hungry right now?”

“I will wait for you,” She called back. *I would wait forever to have you look on me again as you did just now.* She thought to herself, fighting back a tear.

As Camen worked, she accepted her own gifts from the children. Milea was there as well near her, helping to keep and eye on Tress, and helping herself to keeping another eye on Dane.

When all the children were served, Camen slipped into the back, where he grabbed his black button down shirt and matching pants. It seemed the perfect outfit to compliment her attire, if anything could. He quickly changed, throwing away the food stained clothing he had been wearing to cook.

Returning to the kitchen, he grabbed his plate and Fleur’s, checked the chronometer, and stepped out into the dining room to join her. He set the plate down, in front of her.

“Thank you so much, I am starving.” The truth was both of them could have eaten twice their weight, but neither of them felt much like eating. Fleur and Camen both made small talk with the others, and pushed food around their plate.

Micah went on about the weather modification net once again, and how he had warned Bajor before the Plains disaster. Camen normally would have engaged the man but his mind was elsewhere at the moment.

“Speaking of the Plains,” Dane interrupted. “Do we yet have any idea how that virus got loose? Was it intentional?”

Lance Hartcort shifted in his seat, “Diplomatic answer is, I can’t confirm or deny that until I have more evidence. Realistic answer is, I think so, and with the Vedek’s help I can probably tell you who and why.”

“I’d be glad to help you any way I can again,” Jariel said. Milea tapped him on the shoulder and whispered.

“Is it time?”

“Yes, go ahead,” Jariel stood up and called everyone to attention, as Milea ran off to the kitchen. “Everyone, please gather around. I’m happy to announce that today,”

“Oh no,” Fleur mumbled.

“Is the birthday of our dear friend Fleur Le Marc. I’m not going to embarrass her by asking you all to sing. Unless you want me to.” He added, addressing Fleur. He recalled birthdays in the alternate timeline, and public singing was generally off the table as an option. Fleur could not help but notice the expectant faces on all the children in the room however, and with a wave of her hand indicated that Camen could continue.

“Do you all remember the words?” Camen asked, as Milea returned from the kitchen with a cake sporting a single candle. “They practiced half the day,” Camen added, then began, leading the song.

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear Mademoiselle Fleur Le Marc
Happy Birthday to you
“No pinching,” Fleur added, as the children applauded. She blew out the candle, and accepted the first slice of cake. Azalea helped serve the children, and Camen checked the chronometer once again, as the music began anew.

“How did you know,” Fleur asked.

“I stumbled across it. Fleur, I have one more question for you,” Camen began, as he stood beside her chair and held out his hand to her.

“Mademoiselle Le Marc, may I have this dance?”

Fleur was struck silent, his words, and his hand held out towards her were completely out of he blue, and perhaps the most beautiful thing she had ever heard.

Camen had waited all his life to dance with someone, and after hearing the Fleur had wished for a dance more than anything, on this very day, New Years Eve, he knew right here and now was finally the time to ask.

“Of course Monsieur Vedek,” She said at last, wishing this moment would never end. She took his hand, and stood up, looking for a clear spot in the room to dance with him.

“Not here, not with all the people. Out there, just you and I.” Camen said.

“But it is so cold,” Fleur said.

“Not cold enough,” Camen picked up her coat from the hook, and held it up for her to step into. She slid on her gloves and hat, as Camen pulled on his own coat. “Azalea has agreed to watch Tress, and the Alchemy crew is staying at the sanctuary tonight, courtesy of Vedek Timal. We have the whole night, all to ourselves.”

They walked out into the night air, heading towards the Alchemy. As they approached the ship, impossibly large snowflakes began to drift down from the sky above. Milea, appearing as if from nowhere, scampered down the ramp of the ship with a device and set it on the ground.

She pressed a button, and the finale music from an old Earth movie, Edward Scissorhands began to play. She ran back up the ramp, pressed a button, and a large floodlight lit up, illuminating the ground around where Fleur and Camen stood.

Milea ran back down the ramp, and off towards the orphanage, waving as she passed the couple.

Without a word, Camen held out his left hand, grasping her right, and slid his right arm around her waist. Fleur closed the gap between them, until there was nothing left separating them, and they danced.

He repeated the lyrics he had heard her mumble when she was suffering from the fever, and gripped her hand tighter.

They spun slowly in place, as the snowflakes fell from above, dotting the tops of their heads and shoulders with large, puffy flakes. She simply looked into his eyes, as they swayed.

Camen released her hand, and slid both his arms behind her back, as she slung both of hers around his neck. They leaned closer and closer to each other, as the music wound down to an end.

“Fleur, I love you.”

“I love you too,” she replied, immediately and without hesitation.

“If Milea planned the music correctly, right now Fleur, it is midnight in Paris, back on Earth. I think there is a tradition you have, at least that is what I read. Happy New Year, Fleur.”

Fleur felt her heart skip beat after beat, as she closed her eyes, and parted her lips. As the music ended, the sound of bells rang, chiming out what was midnight in Paris, France. Camen stopped swaying and pressed his lips to hers, kissing her deeply. They held each other, embracing, through each chime of the clock.

At last, when the clock struck its twelfth chime, he released her. She trembled, and touched his face. Camen felt his chest rise and fall rapidly with each short breath and shorter heartbeat.

“Are you all right?” He asked, as her second hand caressed his face.

“I have never been better, it is just that…”

“What?” He pressed.

“This is usually where the visions from the Prophets would end, and I would find myself alone on the ship.”

“Vision from the Prophets?” Camen kept his appearance calm, though anger was building inside him at the mention of the Prophets.

“Yes they promised me, if I did their bidding, that someday you would love me.”

“Fleur, believe me when I say I love you all on my own, and the Prophets have nothing to do with how I feel about you.”

“I know that now, Camen. I believe you.” She kept her hands fast on his face, lest he disappear from her sight.

Camen would have a discussion with the Prophets in his own time, about just why they felt they had any right to meddle in the affairs of Fleur Le Marc, and take advantage of her affection for him. That was a talk for another day however. Right now, nothing mattered to him but her.

The music began again, and Fleur recognized the melody of When You Wish Upon a Star.

“My Camen?” She began, lovingly speaking words she had said to herself a thousand times over, talking to the walls of her empty quarters on the Sera.

“Yes, Fleur?”

“Kiss me again, please.”

He brushed stray flakes of snow away from her face, and leaned in to kiss her.

Jariel Camen
On Bajor
In love

NRPG: Happy New Year...~ZL

722: Une chaîne d'amour: One

(A Chain of Love)
by Jariel Camen

A day after The Very Best of Friends

-=USS Alchemy, currently on Bajor=-

Fleur sat quietly on the edge of the bed, watching Tress play with the bear Jariel had replicated. The head and arms were floppy and Tress flipped the bear from side to side, taking great delight as the neck swished back and forth.

How many hours had Fleur whiled away doing just that? Playing with Alphonse in their own small world where Fleur was important to someone. Where someone needed and depended on her love, and returned that affection in kind. Her sisters always had their mother, or their boyfriends. Fleur was the wallflower, never believing she was good enough, or deserving enough of any love; familial or romantic.

But Alphonse understood. He was always there. Teddy bear or not, Fleur always knew he would love her.

Now, years after meeting this angel with the gentle sense of humor and the quiet strength, she finally allowed herself the glimmer of hope that perhaps someone could truly love her for what she was.

Not just anyone, but the man for which her love had known no boundaries from the moment she first heard his voice and cradled his head in her hands during his time of need. He had stayed, loyal and true, at her side in her moment of weakness. When she was too ill to stand or speak, he was there, dripping water between her lips to keep her hydrated against the fever.

Anyone can stand by your side and profess their love when times are well. But there is no greater show of love than to be there supporting someone in a time of need. He could have spent the time at the orphanage, gone back to the Plains with Tress, or left to return to the Serendipity, and she would have been disappointed but not surprised.

Jariel Camen did not. Like Alphonse, he had been there guarding her with his love, and demanding nothing in return.

Now that the fever had broken, her idle hands became ever present in her thoughts. She wished very much to return to the Plains to see how everything was progressing. She did not want them to think she had abandoned them when she left with Jariel, but truth be told the people had become so strong, she had no doubt they could make it on their own from here on out.


She snapped her head up, towards the doorway, where Jariel Camen was suddenly standing, breathing rather heavily from having run to her quarters.

“Bring Tress, quickly. Vedek Timal is beginning to awaken.”

“Go to him. I am right behind you,” Fleur urged. As she gathered up Tress, she could not help but wonder why he had wished her to be present when Timal regained consciousness.

[[Leave or take?]] Fleur questioned, then pointing to the bear.

Tress answered her by wrapping her arms tighter around her bear.

[[Name?]] She signed, wondering if the girl had picked out a moniker for her new friend yet.

[[Chou chou!]] Tress answered. It made perfect sense of course. She was Fleur’s baby, so obviously, the bear was Tress’s baby. Fleur kissed each sweet young ridge on the bridge of Tress’s nose, as she hoisted her from the bed. She laid the child across her right shoulder, as she walked to sickbay to find Camen.

Azalea was there, along with Camen, and to her surprise, the young girl from the orphanage, Milea. Camen and Doctor Adams stood side by side, over Timal, while Milea stood off to the side, nervously wringing her hands.

“She insisted on being here when he awoke,” Camen whispered to Fleur.

Tress looked over the sleeping Vedek Timal, and signed the same word over and over again, urging him on.

[[Awake! Awake!]]

The Vedek still looked so weak to Camen, but some of his color had returned, and he had no doubt the treatment developed by Hartcort and Adams was the only reason he had this moment to look forward too.

“His heart rate and lung function are both increasing. He’s coming around any moment now,” Azalea said. She folded up her tricorder, and offered to take Tress from Fleur, knowing she would wish to be at Jariel’s side now.

Timal wheezed, as he drew a deep breath for the first time in days. The coughing brought him out of his sleep, and he looked around the room. Milea was there, an unfamiliar Starfleet officer was bouncing a baby on her knee, and there at his side was Vedek Jariel, and a beautiful human woman whom he had never seen, but felt as if he knew like a daughter.

To Camen’s surprise, Timal stretched out a weary hand not to him, but to the woman beside him.

“Fleur,” he said with a smile. “May the Prophets bless you. Welcome to Bajor.”

“Thank you Monsieur Vedek,” she replied, bowing slightly respectfully. Camen felt his heart skip a beat as he heard her use the title she had used to address Camen so many times, with so much respect and desire in her voice that he had never noticed.

“What day is it, child?” Timal asked.

“I, do not know,” Fleur said slowly, feeling embarrassed. She wanted so badly to make a good impression on this man whom was such an important figure to Camen. Now, she found herself with no answer to what should have been a simply question.

“Stardate 81231,” Milea piped up helpfully. “I’m glad to see you are awake Vedek Timal.”

“Milea insisted on being here when you awakened,” Camen said. “She’s been very concerned about your condition.”

Camen knew her conscience was heavy, and there would be a time to address her sneaking off later, but now was not that time. Milea was doing all she could to show piety towards Timal, and Camen would do nothing to discourage it at this moment.

“I’m glad to see you are here, and not off alone in the wood,” Timal said. “Who do I have to thank for my care?”

Azalea said nothing, so Jariel was forced to praise her on her behalf.

“Doctor Adams, and Doctor Hartcort from Starfleet have been caring for you, and all the sick children, since the fever reached the orphanage. The next time I have a chance to speak with the Admiralty I plan on making sure they know loud and clear that these doctors have the gratitude and thanks of all of Bajor for their work. We owe them nothing less than our lives.”

Camen spoke directly to Azalea, who kept her attention on Tress. Despite her dark complexion Jariel thought for sure he detected a hint of a blush. He reached out, and let his fingers search out Fleur’s. He closed his hand around hers, but her fingers remained limp, and he realized she was standing completely motionless.

“Fleur? Are you all right?”

“Stardate 81231,” she said, just above a whisper. “It is New Years Eve in Paris.”

He understood now why she had been silent since she heard the date. Whatever bad memories she had during the fever, he knew they surrounded the New Years holiday, and a someone who had not given her a dance she wanted so badly.

“Can Timal be transported to the orphanage? He’ll sleep better in his own bed tonight,” Camen asked. “They are calling for the first snow of the season tonight. Just enough to dust the ground,” He added, knowing how much Timal would enjoy the view from his own room.

“He’ll need an antigrav gurney to get there, but it should not be a problem,” Azalea said. “I’ll ask Dane and Micah for a hand.”

“I have something else to ask of them, and you as well,” Camen said, as a plan began to form in his head.

“Just name it,” Azalea replied.

“I would like to prepare a meal at the orphanage this evening. A celebration for all those from Earth that have done so much for us. Yourself, Doctor Hartcort, Dane, Micah, and of course…”

Fleur spoke up, cutting off the rest of his sentence. “And of course, I will help you cook.”

“You will do no such thing,” Camen said with a grin.

“Oh, is my cooking not good enough for the Vedek’s party, eh?”

“One does not cook for a party when one is a guest of honor at said party. I would no more expect you to prepare the meal than I would Doctor Adams. You’re only task is to dress comfortably and appropriately for a celebration.”

Fleur’s mind was already preoccupied with what she would wear for such an event. It was not that she was vain, far from it. She merely wanted to look pretty for him, and only him.

“I will allow this only because I am still recovering from the fever, and I am more likely to cut myself than vegetables,” Fleur replied.

“If you’ll excuse me, I shall see you all this evening.” Camen stepped away from the bed, and found a PADD. “Milea, a moment please?”

The girl stepped forward, and waited patiently as Camen tapped out instructions on the PADD.

“I’m making a list of a few things I would like for this evening. Do you think you can handle these tasks?” He handed her the PADD, and Milea scanned over the list. She grinned, and nodded.

“May I come too?” She asked.

“Of course, this is for everyone.”

“Do you think Dane will come?”

Jariel’s grin went from broad to lopsided. “That’s up to him. But I’m sure if he does, you will not occupy his time all night, and will give him space to socialize with his crewmates.”

“Of course, Vedek Jariel.”

“Then off with you now,” Camen ushered her towards the door.

-=Evening, Last Meal Time=-

Camen kept one eye on the dining room, through the small window between it and the kitchen, as he and Timal’s staff put the finishing touches on the evening’s meal. The Alchemy crew had arrived, and were gathered around a table, sharing drinks, listening to lively music, and accepting drawings that the children had made in thanks for their help in making them better,

They were each gracious, and Dane was clearly somewhat embarrassed by all the fuss over him, especially by the young girls. Camen could not help but grin as he watched Azalea, Lance and Micah handle the room like professionals, while Dane awkwardly thanked each child for the gift from beneath his long dark bangs.

He had come a long way this one. The Dane who had first come aboard the Sera so much against his will would not even have shown up for this affair, let alone interacted with anyone.

Still, Camen did not see the face he was waiting the most expectantly for.

The Bajorans had agreed on Terran cuisine for the evening in honor of their guests. Timal had relaxed his no replicators rule, but insisted that only the raw materials for the meal could be replicated. To that end Camen and the others had replicated all the necessary ingredients for a traditional turkey dinner including gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, dinner rolls and green beans. It was a large hearty meal and a monumental task to prepare, but with everyone having been left famished by the fever, it was time for a good-sized meal to begin building back strength.

Camen handed the first plates to one of the Prylars once the meal was complete, and when he returned to the window finally saw the person he was waiting for.

Fleur removed a long navy blue walker coat, with matching hat and slender fabric gloves. She hung the coat on a hanger and looked around the room nervously for Camen, as she smoothed out any of the wrinkles in the skirt and straightened the straps of the calf-length black dress she wore.

Camen would have called out to greet her, if he had been able to speak.

Jariel Camen
On Bajor

721: The Very Best of Friends: Two

by Fleur Le Marc
-=Flashback continued=-

An elaborate, four-post bed with a wrought iron frame was angled in the far corner. The windows were tall and let in brightness, even on a dreary winter day such as this. There were so many fine things to look at that she had a difficult time deciding where to look next.

There was a seamstress' dress form in the corner opposite the bed, and upon it was the finest gown that Fleur had ever seen. She was certain that it had to be a wedding dress, even though it was no longer exactly white. It had millions of beads and sequins upon the bodice and a train that fell to the floor and pooled there. Fleur's heart raced at the thought of how beautiful Madame must have been, the day that she wore that dress.

Fleur began to wonder now about the fact that she had never seen Madame's husband; and wondered if maybe that had something to do with that word that they always called her.

All thoughts of everything else ceased, however, when Fleur looked at the bedside table and, to her relief, saw a very friendly, if sad looking face peering at her, head lopped to the side as though asking a question.

"Hello, bear." Fleur said politely, and quite seriously, to the small stuffed toy. "Do you know which door goes back to the parlor? I am going to be in a lot of trouble if I don't get back soon. Maman will be angry."

The bear, sadly, offered no reply.

"Please? If you tell me the way I promise I will not tell anyone that you spoke to me." Fleur began looking around her, starting to feel truly afraid that she was going to get into trouble and anxious to find a way out of it. She turned and bumped into something, knocking a thin sheet of fabric away from it.

She gasped, in the wonder-filled way that only the smallest of children can.

It was a dollhouse.

It was two stories, with pink walls and a white roof. It had perfect, tiny little shutters and the windows each had a tiny little flowerbox beneath it, filled with even tinier flowers. Fleur closed one eye, and peered in through the closest window. It was filled with furniture, and dolls in fine dresses. "All my days," she whispered sagely to herself, as someone twenty-five times her age might do, "I've never seen a house like this before."

She reached out to touch it, but stopped. It did not belong to her.

She stepped backward, the desire to do so, so strong that she pulled herself away so she just could not do it.

She bumped into a box on the floor. It had a tag on it that said bears. There was another box, marked dolls. Fleur was proud that she could read them, when Catherine and even Henri were still trying to learn their letters and could not yet read much of anything.

She saw toys piled one atop another in those boxes, and wanted so badly to look deeper inside and see what treasures may lie beneath, but she reminded herself very sternly that these toys did not belong to her, and so she should not touch them.

She sighed, looking around for the exit again only to find there was yet another door she had not seen before. Upon inspection she discovered that it led to a large closet where Madame kept her dresses.

*I want to live in here...* Fleur decided upon seeing the closet, and after breathing in the gentle, lingering scent of Madame's perfume.

At last, she returned to the bear sitting by the lamp on the nightstand. "If I go through that door," she pointed to the one that she hoped led to the hallway, "will I find my way back?" She frowned as again, she got no response. "I guess you don't feel like talking today." She nodded soberly. "I understand. I don't like talking much at all. Goodbye, little bear."

By this point, Madame Brézé had grown concerned that perhaps Fleur needed assistance of some sort and had come back to find the bathroom door locked.

She remembered then that it had slipped her mind to have the carpenter come and fix the lock, which was forever getting stuck on its own.

She heard the soft sound of the girl's voice coming from her bedroom and now stood, beaming, watching as Fleur spoke to the tattered stuffed bear.

"He likes you."

Fleur jumped, and turned. "I am sorry, Madame, please do not be angry. There are so many doors."

"Oh, chou chou, come here." Brézé knelt down and took Fleur into her arms for a quick hug. "I could never be angry with you. This is a big house, I was afraid you might have gotten lost. I will take you back."

She saw Fleur glance, as hard as she tried not to, back at the dollhouse on the bed and then up at her apologetically.

"I am so sorry, Madame, I didn't mean to bump it."

"It is fine, Fleur. Do not worry." She looked at the child's expression and nodded. "It is a beautiful house, no?"


"It is going to be offered for sale to those ladies who are drinking tea in my parlor. The money that it brings will be used to buy many toys for a holiday for children on the planet where my mother was born."

"Bad..." Fleur twisted her tongue in an attempt to say the name. "Badj...."

"Bajor." Brézé giggled. "Many of the children there are all alone. So I thought that sending them toys would be a nice thing to do, ah?"

Fleur now knew for certain that Brézé was the nicest person she had ever met.

"They will like that, very much." Fleur thought she would like it very much if someone gave her a toy. It was almost Christmas, but she had already been told by Maman that she had not been a good little girl this year and she should count herself lucky if she got to have Catherine's old winter coat, should Papa Noel bring Catherine a new one.

"I see that you made friends with that one, ah?" She nodded toward the well-loved bear on the table, and Fleur pulled away in fear.

"I didn't touch him! I promise, I didn't!" She seemed terrified suddenly that she was in trouble, and tears filled her eyes.

Brézé burned inside. This child reacted as a puppy that had been hit too often, startled by the slightest movement or sound. *Something is not right in that house.*

"I know you didn't touch him. In fact, you didn't touch any of them. They are all just as I left them..." she was speaking now more to herself than to the child and doing so in disbelief. How any little girl could be in a room filled with such fine toys and not touch a one, was something incredible. But knowing Fleur, she could believe it.

"Fleur, listen to me," She took the girl’s hands and gently swung them from side to side. "All of these toys, they are spoken for. But," she looked at the sad little bear on the table, thinking it had been far too long since he'd been properly loved by a someone who truly needed him.

He'd followed her through her life and been her most loyal toy companion; it was time for him to live again in the heart and arms of another child.

"This one. The one that you were talking to? He is sweet too, no?"

Fleur nodded. He had the sweetest face of any teddy bear she'd ever seen. Not even the new ones in the window of the store up the street from her parent's bakery had eyes like this one.

"He, oh, look!" she lifted the bear and pressed his muzzle to her ear. "He is trying to tell me something."

Madame seemed to listen with rapt attention as Fleur thought it odd that the bear wanted to talk now, after insisting upon not saying anything to her before.

"He says that he wonders if you would take him home, and play with him and love him."

Fleur's eyes grew enormous. "Oh, I cannot. Maman will be,"

"I," Brézé whispered softly, "will handle your Maman." She wanted to handle Le Marc, all right..."You see, Fleur, I am a very busy lady, and I do not have time to give him enough attention. And soon," she stopped, not wanting to speak the words completing her thought, "soon, I will not be living here anymore."

"You're going away?" Fleur's voice broke, her pain at the thought clearly evident.

"Since my husband has gone to Heaven, Fleur, this house is, so much for me. And living in Paris now..." she sighed softly, unsure if the small girl could truly grasp anything that she was trying to say. "I am going far away, Fleur, to that planet where everyone has noses like mine. I have some family there, but none left here on Earth now."

"I will stay with you!" Fleur volunteered, genuinely willing. "I will work for you, and you will not be alone anymore." *And I won't be alone either,* Fleur thought.

Brézé's eyes brimmed with tears, and she swept the girl into her arms and hoisted her onto her hip. "Oh, Fleur. If only it were so easy, I would keep you with me and I would never let you go." She squeezed her tight, and Fleur hugged her neck.

"Don't go away, Madame. Please."

"I have to, Fleur. But oh, how I will miss you." Brézé sniffled, even as she pulled a linen handkerchief from her pocket and dabbed at the girl's eyes. "I am-"


Brigitte Le Marc burst through the doorway ferociously. "If you touched one thing in Madame's house, I swear, I will-"

"You will what, Madame Le Marc?" Brézé snapped, setting Fleur down gently. The girl immediately took up position hiding behind her.

Brigitte did all she could to get hold of her temper. "She has done nothing wrong. In fact, I was just about to give her a special gift to remember me by."

"To remember you? I do not understand, Madame."

"The house is sold, and I will soon be leaving for Bajor. I have something for Fleur and I would like your permission to give it to her." Brézé was not so much asking for it, as she was demanding it.

Le Marc's eyes burned into Fleur, as the girl stared at the floor.

"If it...pleases you...Madame," Le Marc grudgingly agreed, not wanting to perhaps discourage future business from Brézé's friends by offending her. "Of course you may do as you like."

"It pleases me very much. But I will do so only with the understanding that this gift is for Fleur only." Brézé clarified. "Not the other children." She had seen too many times during her visits to the cafe that Fleur was often passed over for anything good in favor of her older, larger siblings, and she had no desire to see that happen again.

Le Marc's displeasure became even more evident.

"This toy is for Fleur alone," Brézé repeated.

"Oui, as Madame wishes. I...I must see to your guests. Fleur, come along."

"I will bring her along in a moment." Brézé declared, reaching for the bear on the nightstand and waiting until Brigitte had gone to speak again. She sat down on the bed, hoisted Fleur onto her knee and prepared an introduction.

"Mademoiselle Fleur Le Marc, may I introduce you to my very best friend. His name is Alphonse, but you can call him anything that you like, if you want to, now that he is going to be your best friend."

"But his name is Alphonse," Fleur sounded concerned. "If I call him something else, he will not answer."

"Ah, you might be right." Brézé's eyes again shimmered, as she leaned down and kissed Fleur on the cheek. The ridges on her nose brushed Fleur's cheek, and she swung her small feet happily, wondering if this is what it felt like to belong to someone.

"He is very old, and so you must take good care of him or he might fall apart.”

“I will.”

“He’s your best friend now. If anyone tries to take him away, you tell them that Madame Brézé will be very angry and they will be in big trouble." Realizing that the time for the auction to begin was near, she knew it was also time to bring this sweet moment with her little friend to an end.

"Come now, Fleur. It is almost time for you to be going home, and you will want to start getting to know Alphonse right away, no?" She regarded the time-worn, and threadbare stuffed toy one last time. "Take good care of Fleur, Alphonse. Just as you took good care of me." She handed the toy over to the girl officially, and Fleur hugged him tightly to her chest.

"I will always take care of him, Madame," she promised. "He will never be alone."

"Neither will you, Fleur." Brézé's hugged her one last time before gently sliding Fleur from her lap and beginning to rise. She offered her hand to the child and Fleur grasped it tightly.

"When you move away, Madame," Fleur whispered as Brézé led her back down the long hallway, "will you forget about me?"

"I could never forget about you, Fleur."

-=End Flashback=-

Fleur heard the sound of a muffled, familiar voice, and stirred. She slowly opened her eyes, finding that for the first time in days, they did not ache or burn any longer.

"Maman," Tress murmured softly. She had managed to climb out of her crib and onto Fleur's bed, and was now resting her head on Fleur's chest, and winding a strand of the woman’s soft, long hair around a small, pudgy finger as she mumbled sounds that she could not hear.

Jariel, who had stepped out of the room only for a moment to confer with Drs. Adams and Hartcort, returned and laughed softly at the sight.

"Well, what have we here?" he asked, a broad smile forming upon his lips for the first time in days as he watched Fleur sit up under her own power. "Both of my girls are up."

[Look!] Tress signed excitedly. [Awake!]

"Oui, chou chou," Fleur said, resting her cheek for an instant against the top of Tress' head as the child continued to play with her hair. "I am awake now."

Camen's eyes blurred with tears of joy and relief as he saw that at last, the fever seemed to have left her entirely. He pressed his lips against the top of Fleur's head, and then the Tress' as well. "Is there anything I can get for you? Anything at all?"

"Yes, in fact," she looked up at him, suddenly fighting the urge to cry as well as she spoke. "Do you think, if it is not too much to ask, that you could replicate something small for me? For Tress."

"No trouble at all. The Alchemy's replicators can make nearly anything. What do you want?"

"A toy bear," Fleur smoothed Tress' hair down gently, averting her gaze from Jariel's now. "A small, soft, teddy bear."


Fleur Le Marc

Currently on Bajor

720: The Very Best of Friends: One

by Fleur Le Marc
Following Silent Dance


As the last of the fever fought to hold her captive against the valiant efforts of the treatment serum developed by Dr. Hartcort, Fleur's mind raced in vivid memories of a very significant event in her childhood.

It returned to a day she received a gift from a person who changed her world- more than she ever could have understood at the time the gift was given.

-=Flashback: Twenty-seven years ago: Paris, France, Earth=-

Fleur fussed with the lace at the edge of her small apron. It hung longer than the skirt of her pink-pinstriped dress, and it was itchy.

She was trying so hard to be good today.

After all, it wasn't every day that a young lady was asked for, specifically, to help out with a big party like this one.

That was exactly what had happened, and Fleur was so very concerned with not dropping anything, not tripping over any of the feet of the elegantly dressed ladies that filled the parlor of the grand house, or spilling anything on her starched, perfectly pressed white apron.

Even if it was itchy.

This was the house of the very fancy, and very pretty Madame Brézé. Those were, in fact, the first two words that Fleur always thought of whenever she imagined Madame: fancy, and pretty.

Madame was something else too, though, it seemed. Something that the other ladies whispered about, but it was word that Fleur didn't understand. She hoped that it wasn't a bad thing, whatever it was, because she did rather like Madame and hated to think that anyone would ever call her anything bad.

What they called her was 'widow'.

She was a physically beautiful woman, older than Fleur's mother for sure but the girl had no idea how old the lady really was...and knew that it would be too impolite to ask.

Madame was a wonder, so kind and soft-spoken. She was different from anyone else that Fleur had ever known for another reason as well.

Her nose had the most amazing little wrinkles in it.

Fleur would try to scrunch up her own face to make it look like Madame Brézé's, but when she watched herself in the mirror she found that it only made her look like she was angry, or like she had just stood too close to the peppermill in the kitchen and she was about to sneeze.

One day, Madame came to the café to purchase some pastries for a tea she was planning and observed Fleur trying again to embed such wrinkles into the bridge her nose by the single-minded force of four-year-old determination.

Much to the woman's amusement, the little girl was staring intently into the window glass at the bakery, pushing her tiny, fairy-sized fingertip against her nose to try to accomplish the task that way, before giving up on that and once again squinting her eyes and crinkling the bridge of her nose.

"Hello, little morning flower. How are you today?"

Fleur startled, looking again and seeing the reflection of the woman standing over her shoulder.

For an instant she was terrified that Madame would be angry with her, but instead, Élise Brézé' gently turned her around by the shoulders and stooped down as she looked Fleur in her bright, round eyes. She laughed; the most musical, kind laugh that Fleur had ever heard.

"You can try as you like, chou chou," she continued laughing until she had tears glimmering in her eyes and had to stop speaking to catch her breath. "But your nose will never wrinkle quite like mine."

"Why not?" Fleur's face was a study in pure innocence and sincerity as she expressed her disappointment at the thought. "I like your nose."

Madame was so beautiful. Her long red hair was swept up into an elaborate roll that she kept tucked beneath a hat most of the time. A few wayward curls cascaded down at the back of her neck, and she looked like she could be a figure in one of Papa's paintings of ladies from what he called the old times.

Madame had perfectly shaded lips of the deepest pink and she always smelled like roses. Her dresses, and she always wore dresses, were soft and fine and Fleur often wondered if she had any children of her own and if not, if maybe she would consider taking Fleur home with her along with her parcel of cookies, someday.

"Why not? I'll tell you why not, my darling. The planet where my mother was born is very far away from here," Brézé' whispered into her ear. "She came to Earth after she married my father. Where she came from, everyone has noses like mine."

"I want to go there." Fleur decided without a second's hesitation. "Please, will you take me there?"

The honest, pleading tone of the small girl's voice almost stopped Brézé's heart.

"But your family is from Earth, Fleur. To go to Bajor would take you very far away from them."

"I would like to go far away." Fleur revealed what she felt to be her darkest secret, to the only person she felt safe enough to tell it to.

The concern in Brézé's eyes turned to sorrow, and she blinked as she considered what she should try to say.

"Fleur!" An angry female voice called from the kitchen. "Get in here! Stop bothering the customers."

"Fleur is never any bother, Madame Le Marc." Brézé raised her hand to dismiss the notion. "In fact, I cannot think of a child I have ever seen that was as well behaved as she is."

Le Marc scoffed and tilted her head in disbelief. "I apologize if she has disturbed you."

"Not at all." Brézé accepted the box of cookies and cakes tied closed with string that Le Marc extended toward her. "Merci."

"Thank you, Madame. Come to see us again soon."

Fleur was peeking out from around the kitchen door, and Brézé waited until Brigitte Le Marc had turned away to tend to the money she had been given in exchange for the bakery. Then, Brézé blew Fleur a small kiss, with an elegantly gloved hand. Fleur simply stared at her, and then ran away before her mother could catch her at the door.

Now, some months later, here Fleur was, playing 'waitress' complete with miniature uniform at Madame Brézé's request.

In fact, Brézé had been so insistent upon the idea that when Brigitte Le Marc had resisted, she informed her that if Fleur was not invited to come along to the tea that the Le Marc's were catering for her, that she would be forced to employ an alternate provider of refreshments for her guests.

Finally, Le Marc gave in.

Fleur's eyes were the size of saucers as they arrived at Brézé's grand home. She had never seen a house so big in her young life, let alone so many lights, or such a big Christmas tree.

"Fleur, stop fidgeting!" Le Marc demanded, handing the girl a large plate of delicately decorated petits fours. "Be sure to offer them to every single guest."

Fleur nodded slowly, trying very hard to hold onto the heavy, slippery plate without touching the tips of her fingers to any of the pastries, as she'd been taught.

"I hope that the auction will go well this year," A woman with a round face and a bright yellow dress reached out and took two of the small cakes from Fleur's platter with such enthusiasm that she nearly set her listing to the side. Her knees wobbled, but much to her relief, she recovered.

"Well, with the wonderful entertainment this year and the lovely selection of toys that we have to show, I hope that we will do well." Madame Brézé replied. "Besides, it is nearly Christmas, and you know that the people of Earth are nothing of not most generous this time of the year." She only wished that such care and concern for those less fortunate carried over into the other eleven months of the year as well.

She noticed the small child with the large plate and smiled down upon her. "Well, hello, Mademoiselle Fleur aren't you doing a fine job this afternoon? Thank you so much for your help."

Fleur curtsied to the best of her ability without upending her plate. "Would you care for one, Madame?" She asked, saying the sentence exactly the way that she'd been instructed.

"Yes, please. Thank you." She watched sadly as the child had moved along to the next assembled group, wishing that there was more she could do for her than simply offering a kind word now and again.

In fact, she had been so concerned at the condition of Fleur's clothing most days when she visited the bakery and the very manner of the child and the way her mother spoke to her, that she'd asked an old friend of her late husband Jean to look into the Le Marc family and their history.

That friend, who earned his living as a private investigator, had returned to her saying that while he suspected that things were not all quite right with the household, that he had not been able to unearth

enough proof of actual abuse of the children which would be sufficient to involve the authorities. There was, for the present, simply nothing more she could do than show the girl as much kindness as she could, when she could.

"Would you like one?" Fleur asked softly, approaching a lady in an enormous hat, adorned with tall, gray feathers. The lady emptied Fleur's plate of the last of the treats and the child returned to her mother.

She had a question to ask, one that she had put off as long as she could but sadly could not put off any longer.

Noticing the look on the girl's face, Le Marc automatically scowled. "What is your problem, child?"

Fleur stood on tip toes and tried to whisper into Le Marc's ear.

"Absolutely not. You will have to wait."

Fleur shook her head, indicating sadly she could not wait. Brigitte sighed. "You must, child! I cannot ask the Madame to allow you to-"

"Is there a problem, Madame Le Marc?" Brézé was suddenly just behind Fleur again, gently patting her on the shoulder.

"Not as such, Madame. I am sorry to trouble you, but Fleur," she growled the name more than spoke it, "Was asking if she could possibly visit your powder room."

"Oh? Oh! But of course, it is no trouble at all." Brézé smiled upon her and gave her a gentle wink. "I will direct her, Madame Le Marc. I believe that we are running low on tea, if you would be so kind as to put some more on,"

The tea supply was holding out fine, but Brézé liked to use any opportunity she had to spare Fleur her mother's attention.

"This way, little one." Fleur gratefully accepted her hand, and followed as Madame led her down a long hallway.

"There is a little powder room just off of the parlor," Brézé confided conspiratorially to the girl who seemed more awestruck by the house with every step she took and sight she saw. "But I wanted to show you the one attached to my boudoir. I think that you will like it, ah?"

She patted Fleur on the head, then frowned as she heard her name being called by one of her guests in question.

"I am sorry, chou chou. I have to go back. You can find your way, can't you? It's the second door, just down there." She gave Fleur a gentle push. "Don't be shy, little one. I will see you soon." Before Fleur could express her thanks for Madame's continued kindness, Brézé was gone.

Fleur struggled to pull open the large, heavy door. With a hinge designed to close it again automatically, the door actually pushed her into the bathroom, and then clicked loudly shut. Fleur stood on tiptoes, feeling along the wall until she found the switch for the lights. She inhaled and gasped with wonder when those lights illuminated the space around her.

*This powder room is bigger than our whole apartment,* Fleur was astonished.

There was an amazing crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling, lovely floral wallpaper decorated the space and fine, shining fixtures inhabited it along with the biggest bathtub that Fleur had ever seen in her life.

She felt guilty even touching the towel to dry her hands after at last washing them before preparing to return to work.

She thought about how she wanted to do a very good job for Madame and her friends, because she hoped she would get to come back to serve at another party here, someday.

She could barely see her reflection in the mirror hanging behind the elegant pedestal sink, but once again she tried to force wrinkles onto her nose, just by wishing them there, so she could be like Madame Brézé.

As she finally gave up her latest attempt with a promise to herself to try again later, Fleur looked up and realized suddenly that she had a dilemma.

The bathroom had two doors, and she couldn't remember which one she'd come in through.

She tried to pull the handle of the one that she believed she'd entered through, but it would not turn. She lacked sufficient strength it seemed to open it again, and so she had no choice at last but to try the second door, which was propped open, it seemed, by a satin slipper that had gotten trapped beneath it.

When the door opened, it revealed a room of such beauty and size that Fleur was certain she had died, and that this was heaven.

Fleur Le Marc

Currently on Bajor

719: Admissions

by Milea (as told by Jariel Camen) and Lance Hartcort
After Owning Up

-=Altaan Province, Bajor=-

“Excuse me? Doctor Hartcort?”

Lance smiled brightly and set down the tricorder he was holding. “That’s me. Did you need something, young woman?”

“Yes… Sir.” Milea gulped. “I need to talk to you.”

Lance knew the young girl had been avoiding him the entire time he had been at Altaan, but he did not why. He had tried several times to even just scan her with a tricorder to get her temperature, but the young woman had always recoiled and demanded Azalea Adams alone check up on her. With that in mind, Hartcort awkwardly leaned against a table, trying to appear as relaxed and non-threatening as humanly possible.

“I’m all ears kiddo.” Lance cringed inside, wondering if that sounded just plain weird.

Milea kept one foot outside of the tent; ready to bolt out the entrance at a moment’s notice. Now that she looked at the Doctor, really looked at him, he was a little bit taller than her father. His hair wasn’t quite the same shade. His voice wasn’t quite as deep, and lacked the scratchy tone that years of drinking and smoking had taken on her father.

“Doctor Hartcort, do you know Vedek Jariel?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Well, he and I were studying the plants together when he came to the orphanage. When he went to the Plains to help the people there, he said I could visit anytime.”

Lance knew where this was going. He and Azalea had already put the pieces together and knew that Milea was the link between the Plains and Altaan, but he was curious to see if Milea was going to spill something he did not know.

“Go on.”

“Well, I snuck out of the orphanage without telling anyone to visit Vedek Jariel in the Plains, and when I came back, that was when everyone got sick.”

She braced herself mentally for the blow that would usually accompany such an admission in the past. Hartcort kept his distance, hoping to not scare the young woman off. In fact he sat down on the nearest stool.

“I see.” He said quietly. “How about you? Do you feel sick?” He asked in an attempt to redirect Milea’s fear from what she believed to be some sort of wrongdoing.

“Well, I’m doing better now, thanks to you and Doctor Adams,” Milea wrung her hands together and shifted her eyes about the room, looking at all the tools and equipment that adorned the medical tent. How smart must they be to understand all this stuff and what it all does? How much work and training did they really have to do to be able to practice medicine?

Suddenly she felt as if she may not have all the answers needed to be a botanist, just because she knew the names of a few plants.

“Have a seat, child,” Hartcort asked. Milea lowered herself into a chair.

*Here comes the lecture.* She thought. Lance could sense the guilt eating away at her, and suddenly was forced to shift from medical Doctor to Counselor. The one question that plagues him was, why him? Why, after trusting only Azalea Adams, did the young Bajoran girl suddenly feel the need to confess her self-imposed sins to him?

“We really should give you a look over to make sure you healing up right. O.K.?” He pulled out his tricorder.

She nodded her approval sheepishly.

Lance turned on the tricorder and set it to the self-diagnostic setting. He held it up like he was doing a real scan.

“So, why are you telling me that you snuck out?” He moved the tricorder side to side in a scanning fashion.

“I just thought, maybe it could help you. I know it probably means that Timal will have me sent off to some kind of military school once he finds out I broke the rules but…” Milea’s voice trailed off. Her bravado and youthful arrogance completely failed her, and all she could think to say to end her thought was that she didn’t want to end up like that Dane guy. Assuming Dane would rather not have his personal struggles broadcast to the entire fleet, Milea kept her reasons cryptic.

“But someone told me I’d never find success if I don’t own up to my mistakes. That includes admitting I’ve been avoiding you because you look a lot like my… father.”

Lance scanned her in silence, as the girl waited for his reaction. He kept his façade calm though anger was building just below the surface as he tried to imagine what could inspire so much fear in a girl at the thought of her own father.

“Well, I can assure you that even if I look like him, I am not him,” he folded up the tricorder and set it down. “Scan says you are almost completely healthy. Tell me young lady, how much do you know about viral infections and means of transmission from subject to subject?”

Milea blinked, and realized she was being tested. She crossed her arms over her chest. “I know enough, why?”

“So when you came back to Altaan, you knew you were carrying the fever, and that it would spread over the entire orphanage?” Hartcort gave her a lopsided grin.

“Well, no. I didn’t even know I was sick until after I came home.”

“As long as admissions seems to be the theme of the day, I’ll tell you right now that Doctor Adams and I already pinpointed you as the carrier of the fever between here and the Plains.”

A nervous expression on Milea’s face was replaced by confusion. If they already knew it was her, why hadn’t they said anything before?

“The reason we never told you was because we didn’t feel you needed to know. There was no way you could have known you were infected so we were not going to hold you at fault for anything that had happened. As for your sneaking out of the orphanage, that is a matter for you to settle with Vedek Timal, if he recovers.”

Hartcort cringed as soon as he finished the sentence. The children weren’t supposed to know just how grave Timal’s situation was. He had just inadvertently heaved the potential guilt of Timal’s death upon the girl’s shoulders.

He smiled warmly, turning on his best bedside charm.

“Not that you need to worry about that. He is under our care and I will not let anything happen to him.”

She looked at him with wide eyes. “Promise?”

Lance balked. He had long ago made a promise to himself to never promise such a thing. Although he believed that there was nothing that he could not figure out he was wise enough to know that there are many things that were beyond his control. Plus he had his reputation to maintain.

Still in this case if Timal was not to survive it was better for his reputation to be tarnished than this young girl’s mental state. He made his mind up quickly.

“I promise.”


Vedek Jariel Camen
Ship’s Chaplain, USS Serendipity
Currently on Bajor


Commander Lance Hartcort
Chief Medical Officer
USS Revolution
Currently on Bajor

718: Slowed to a Stop

by *Keiran O’Sullivan
After Help Has Arrived

-=USS Consequence=-

Ashton Ledbetter screamed like a girl.

“Are you mad? The way a coordinated attack works is you actually coordinate with somebody. Salvek’s ship is still a minute behind.”

“Just keep our bow pointed at an’athing other than their disruptors, yeah? He’ll be here soon enough.”

Keiran went right for the Warp engines of the Romulan ship, attempting to drop them out of Warp. The Romulans fired back at the Consequence but were still too damaged from the first battle to be able to target effectively. Ledbetter brought the ship about for another pass, as the Polaris streaked past them, attacking the same engine.

“Give me good news, Ash.”

“Their shields are holding for now, no change in speed. The good news is T’Lara is reprising her role as Empress Go-Sakuramachi in the critically acclaimed Chrysanthemum at the Grand Opera House of Vulcan in three months. It really is to die for.” Ledbetter’s voice changed in pitch as he spoke, based upon how close the latest disruptor blast was to his ship.

Keiran ignored the extraneous information. All he cared about was how fast they could disable the Romulans. He wished once again that he could finish this matter himself, without involving Liis or Serendipity. He wanted her to have no part in the fight.

He wanted her safe and sound... and far away from any of this.

*You can’t always get what you want. *

Keiran charged the weapons for the next pass, switching off with Salvek’s ship, which dropped back to prepare for its next attack.

“Salvek dropped their shields fifteen percent, but I’d like to hear him sing like T’Lara.” Ledbetter scoffed.

Keiran once again attacked the Romulans’ engines, but Taris was wise to their plan of attack, and delivered a direct hit to the Consequence. Ledbetter’s hair jostled wildly as he braced himself against the jolt.

“You should know better than to attack her the same way twice,” He cautioned.

“We only need to hang on long enough to stop them. Bring us around again.”

“That won’t be easy. My starboard thrusters are off line. We’ll have to maneuver with the port thrusters only. Notice I said my thrusters.”

“I heard ya, Ash. We’ll get your ship home safe and sound.”

“Do I have your word on that O’Sullivan?”

Keiran was a man who did not give his word unless he knew he could follow through. So rather than lie to Ledbetter he simply answered him with silence. Ashton wondered if he was going to be the first Starfleet Captain to destroy his command before it even had a chance to embark on a mission.

Keiran kept one eye on the weapons power and the other on Salvek’s ship. The Polaris swung wildly from side to side, dodging Romulan weapons. No doubt Salvek had analyzed Taris’s attack on the Consequence and adjusted his tactics to stay a step ahead of her.

The Polaris punched through the shields, and delivered a direct hit to the Romulan engines.

“Ooo! A hit! They are down to Warp four!” Ledbetter grinned with delight. “Maybe we should just let Salvek take it from here.”

“Bring her around,” Keiran rumbled.

Ledbetter rolled his eyes, and then rolled the ship. Keiran brought up the torpedo launchers, and locked onto the same coordinates that Salvek had hit previously. Taris fired wildly at the tiny ship, hitting the Consequence several times.

“Shields are down!” Ledbetter shouted over the exploding conduits around them.

“Just hold her steady!” Keiran shouted back. He just needed another moment to take a clean shot. He did not want to miss, nor did he want to make too clean a hit and risk destroying the Romulans and Lair Arie along with them. Disruptor blasts raked across their bow, but Ledbetter held their course true.

In his mind he was already preparing a damage estimate to present to Salvek and Zanh Liis after this maddening battle was over.

Once close enough, Keiran fired. “Get us out of here!”

“That’s the first thing you’ve said all day that I’ve agreed with!”

Ledbetter veered the ship away, as the torpedoes met their target. The Romulans’ warp field collapsed, and the ship dropped back to impulse speeds.

O’Sullivan allowed himself a moment.

Resting his arms on the panel, he dropped his head down onto them and gave a silent prayer that Lair Arie was still alive and well on that Romulan ship.

“You did, it my man,” Ashton said with glee. “Unfortunately our life support system is inoperative. And by that I mean destroyed,” He continued, without the glee. Keiran raised his weary head and slapped a hand on Ledbetter’s shoulder. His voice was low and somber.

“The day is not yet won. There is still much to be done.” The same could be said for his entire life. There was always another battle to come.

[Polaris to Consequence. Our sensors indicate your life support has failed. Prepare for transport.]

“I’ll be back, my darling,” Ashton whispered lovingly to the console before him, as he and Keiran both stood still, awaiting Salvek’s rescue.

“Welcome aboard,” Salvek said to the pair, as they materialized in the Polaris’ cockpit. “We will maintain position here, outside their weapon’s range, until the Serendipity arrives. Ten minutes.”

Keiran stepped up beside the Sera’s First Officer. “Have ya scanned their ship for life signs?”

“Yes. My daughter is aboard, but in an area shielded from transporters.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Keiran shook his head, and Salvek looked upon him with curiosity. “The Romulans did not put up the fight they should have. I think that ship is severely understaffed.”

Salvek nodded to Farnsworth, who proceeded to fun a full lifeform scan of the Romulan ship.

“I’m getting thirty Romulans on that ship. Five on the bridge, five in engineering. The rest scattered about. There are over a hundred dead however.”

“Mutiny. That’s how she got Command of that ship. Wouldn’t be the first time. Probably killed off all the crew that was loyal to the Captain,” Keiran hypothesized for Salvek.

Salvek regarded the ship on the viewer. It was much smaller than the Warbird type capital ships, but still large enough that it could take thirty Romulans several minutes to converge on an armed Away Team. Several minutes, which could possibly be enough time to find Arie, and return to the Polaris before Taris could do anything about it.

Logic told Salvek to wait for Zanh Liis. His love for his child told him Logic could go to hell.

There was no telling what was happening to Arie over there, and every minute counted. Even if hey could not find her immediately, they could at least occupy the Romulans long enough for Zanh Liis to arrive and flood the ship with Starfleet officers

Keiran silently wrapped his palm around the hilt of his phaser, as he awaited Salvek’s decision. He knew what he would do if Carrick were aboard that ship.

Salvek once again gazed out at the wounded vessel, hanging so temptingly in space. Wounded, and vulnerable to attack.

“Captain Ledbetter. Please take command of the Polaris, and await our call for transport. Everyone else, prepare to board the Romulan vessel.”


Commander *Keiran O'Sullivan
Security Liaison for
The Alchemy Project
Currently aboard the
USS Polaris

NRPG: Yes, Go-Sakuramachi was a real Japanese Empress. You can Google her. ~*O'Sullivan