682: Sufficient Distraction

by Rada Dengar and Lair Kellyn
An hour after Insufficient Distraction

-=Lethus IV=-

"Do you remember the time that your prototype caused a rip in the fabric of space-time and you almost destroyed an entire space station and killed us all along with it?" Dabin Reece asked Lair Kellyn, the peppy tone of his voice seeming completely inappropriate for the words he was speaking.

"Do...you...remem...ber," Lair Kellyn slurred, sounding as if she'd had far too much Spring Wine when in fact, she was trying with all of her strength to fight the relentless charge of impending unconsciousness. "...the...time you...blew up...Pol..aris?"

Dabin frowned. "You know damn well that was the Romulans' fault." He pouted.

"Yeah." she was merely teasing him. She, indeed, did know that it had been the Romulans' fault. "So's this."

"You're gonna be all right, babe." Reece tried to paste back on the smile that had been continually slipping off of his face for the past forty-five minutes as she'd begun her rapid decline, weakened and fading right before his eyes. "I'm not gonna be the one to go home and tell Pointy that his dating options are once again open."

"Dabin," Kellyn said, her voice thin and growing ever softer. "You have to...make sure that Arie comes home."

Dabin shot a look to Dalton McKay. There could be no doubt now that she had heard, and knew, that her worst nightmares were realized.

"Kellyn do you remember the time I decided to marry that really cute girl on the spur of the moment on an ice cube masquerading as a planet and you were my Best Man?"

"Don't...change the." she paused, coughing and wincing as she did so. Her eyes rolled upward and she stopped talking, causing McKay to rush forward toward her with a hypo of stimulant. He applied it to her neck for the third time in an hour, and he worried what would happen to her heart rhythm if he had to try it again.

"Keep talkin' to her, Commander. We cannot let her go to sleep."

"I'm running out of things to say," Dabin admitted, but McKay would have none of it.

"You kiddin' son? Your mouth runs faster than the outboard motor on a fishin' boat! Keep talkin'!"

"I don't want to upset her," Reece replied. "She keeps bringing up Arie."

"Go on, upset her! Rile her up as much as you can! Bein' hugely pissed at the Romulans and bringin' out the mama bear in her might be the thing that keeps her alive a little longer."

"Reece," Kellyn began again as she started to come around. "Go and get...something to drink."

"No thanks, I'm not thirsty."

"For me...idiot." Kellyn was only teasing, but she wanted a chance to talk to the person who had just stuck his head into the tent, and who was trying to escape without having been seen. "Dengar." Kellyn raised her voice to its current maximum possible volume. "Front...center."

Rada crept slowly in through the door. On the one hand Kellyn was alive and speaking, but on the other hand she was dying and barely able to speak. Of course Rada could only see the latter.

He knew this was his fault, all of it. Everyone else had done their job but he couldn’t even open a damn doll house, Kellyn had to do it for him. If he’d been just that bit bolder he would have kicked it open himself before Kellyn had to take over, they would have realised it was nothing earlier on and gotten out of there before the Romulans showed up.

Then when he was given the chance to redeem himself by calling for help he’d only messed that up too.

This was the twenty-fourth century and he was a Starfleet Engineer, he should have been able to construct something to allow real time communications with Starfleet command when they were this close to Earth but he couldn’t. Because of his incompetence, help was still a long way away. Kellyn could die waiting for access to a sickbay. Not to mention he should have been able to call for help for the Serendipity as well.

He couldn’t be sure of their situation but they may very well be unable to call for reinforcements thanks to damage to their communications systems that he was supposed to make sure were properly maintained, then even if Kellyn survived, she could lose her daughter to the Romulans or her husband and the rest of the crew in a failed attempt to save her. He was certain that she would be able to see the guilt in his face.

"I'll be back. No night-night, got it?" Reece wagged a finger at her, and went in search of another container of drinking water.

"Hey. You. Danger." Kellyn tried to raise her hand to point but was too weak. "I'm talkin' toyou."

"Mister Dengar," McKay said, gesturing with a sweep of his hand. "You're on."

He hurried to her side, thinking that she’d be mad enough at him already without being made to wait.

He was afraid to look down at her but forced himself to; well he briefly forced himself to but kept finding himself focusing just above where she was lying. He didn’t understand how Reece had been doing this.

She looked so utterly not herself. Her typically vibrant eyes could barely stay open. Her movements were normally bold like a woman sure of herself in any situation, but now she could barely move. Even her quick wit, though still within her, was considerably restricted by the struggle she was having even forming her words. This was just completely against the natural order of things.

A shaky “Hello Kellyn,” was all he could manage. He’d been thinking about this moment for about an hour and that was the best response he could think of.

"They tell me I havetokeeptalking," Kellyn said, slowly raising drooping eyes toward the Angosian. "Reece is giving me a headache. So talk to me, Rada."

He found himself stuck for words, which was something he’d been experiencing less and less since they’d first met. He’d just transferred to a new ship and she was the acting Chief Engineer, she was certainly a shock to his system.

It was a tough time in his life, on his previous ship things had been very formal with little socialising which played well with his natural tendencies for isolation. It’d quickly become very bland but also very comfortable and he found that he was himself shut off from the people around him, of course it was a big ship so no one even noticed. It was a dark period in his life when he found himself completely alone, afraid to even speak and when he did simply saying whatever he expected people to want.

The open, casual attitude that Kellyn brought to Engineering forced him out of that, made him face his demons and led him to where he was today. He had to get worse before he got better, but he did get better. Perhaps he still had some problems but he now had the strength to overcome them and to function in the real world. Seeing her like this, he felt that strength slipping.

“So, what have you been up to?” he blurted out, he knew it was a ridiculous question.

Kellyn smiled and said weakly “Oh, not much really. Just been having a bit of a lie down.”

“I’m not sure what to say,” Rada confessed.

"Well, tell me something I don't know about you then. Tell me..." she tried to think of something that the two of them hadn't discussed, either while at work, on a coffee break, or while socializing in the time they'd known each other. "Tellme something thatno oneknows."

“Like what?” he asked, he knew that was an absolutely stupid question as only he knew the things about him that no one else did and so choosing one was one responsibility he couldn’t defer to someone else.

“Like anything. Doyou remember when youtoldme about what happened toyou on Betazed?” He nodded that he did. “You told me things about you that I’d never known. Tell me something like that. Surprise me.”

“I don’t know…” said Rada, he certainly didn’t feel confident enough at the moment to go revealing details of his past to which he wasn’t sure how she’d react “Perhaps we should wait until you’re better to discuss that type of thing. I wouldn’t want to shock you in your current condition.”

She let out a wheezing laugh at the optimism Rada was trying to put on when it was clear from his eyes that he didn’t believe it.

"If youdo it I willtoo." she added, trying to convince him. "Look at it this way, dead women tell no tales and you can always erase his memory."

"Now now." McKay teased softly, "No need for that, little lady. I'll skedaddle and give you two a moment." He stepped out, and Rada looked down at her, considering what he should say.

“It canbe anything,” she reiterated and punctuated it with a cough.

Rada looked down at the stimulant which had been left by her and considered just how similar all hypos were. He removed his own from his pocket and began to examine it between his fingers; yes, it looked identical to the other.

“I’m sure you know why I carry this,” he said, raising it so she could see.

She just barely nodded, indicating that she did.

“You know I had a psychological breakdown back on the Independence and that this,” indicating the hypo, “is part of my treatment. With the exception of a few headaches now and then it keeps the symptoms under control with out any fuss.”

He noticed that her head had just slipped to the side.

“Kellyn, KELLYN. Are you listening to me?”

“Listening.” she murmured as she forced her eyes back open.

He was very relieved and she could hear it in his voice.

“What you don’t know is just how bad it was,” he said as he sat down next to her. “Not even the psychiatrists really understood it. I had it for a long time before coming onboard the Indy but by controlling my environment I managed to avoid any real problems. I would have these visions which blended so smoothly into real life that I couldn’t even tell the difference. But they were more than just visions they were real, more real than the here and now. Things tasted better, fires burned hotter and every detail was so much clearer.

"Given the option I would have sworn that was reality and that this was just the poorly constructed fantasy we’re stuck in. It felt like there were these beings inside my head who could control me at will, sometimes they’d whisper and sometimes they’d scream. They’d even appear to me sometimes in the form of a beautiful woman, inspired by Wren, now that I look back.

"Sometimes they’d simply take control of my body and I’d be there just watching them use it. It was as if I was fighting them for control but they had more power. My emotions became erratic but I never thought it was because there was something wrong with me. I just thought they could control my emotions; that the anger was them trying to make me hate anyone or anything they wanted. The crazy thing was that it all made sense, like in a dream when you find yourself somewhere you’ve never been before and never wonder how you’d gotten there.”

“It must have been terr…ifying,” she managed to force out before beginning another stream of coughs. Rada felt so helpless, all he could do was go on.

“The worst thing was how many times I felt like just giving up. When I was sick I felt strong. With anger came the knowledge that I could use it, after years of feeling powerless and knowing that if people chose to hurt me I couldn’t fight back, I finally felt like I could have and that felt good, really good. I started having these visions that I’d committed these brutal acts of violence. I genuinely believed that I’d killed people and there was a part of me that wanted to keep that ability.

"It seemed like they were calling to me to give in to them with promises that they’d make me strong and deep down,” he couldn’t believe he was about to admit this... “I considered it. If the Captain hadn’t stopped me when she did, I honestly believe I would have gone on to kill someone through these delusions.”

Kellyn's dulled blue eyes fought to hold their focus as she looked up at this man, her friend. She had asked a great favor of him, and he had not let her down in granting it. In all the time she'd known him, in fact, he had never let her down.

She was grateful he'd told her the truth, knowing that it must have been very difficult for him to do. She admired his courage and worried that he may ever have thought for a second that such revelations might make her think less of him.

On the contrary, his admission of weakness brought her strength at a time when she needed it more than she could have explained if she'd tried.

She was only sorry that he'd ever had to suffer through such trials; let alone for so long and even worse, on his own. She hoped he would never feel the pull of such darkness again.

Her expression was one of such genuine concern and compassion as she stared at him, that Rada could hardly face her.

“Thankfully the psychiatrists evened my brain chemistry straight out and I was turned back into my normal non-violent self.” He said in the cheeriest tone possible to try to lighten the mood. “So, that’s my secret. Now fair is fair, what’s yours?”

"I am." She began, determined to find the will to keep the promise she'd made him to repay his openness with the same. "I have always been."

"Kellyn? Keep talking. Don't go to sleep," he felt the panic rising again, as she seemed to be getting so much weaker, so quickly. Honestly, he didn't know how she was still breathing at this point. "You have always been what?"

"Alone." She whispered, her eyes reddening, her body too strained to produce actual tears.

When McKay returned along with Reece, Rada was still staring at Lair, trying to fathom what she'd just said, and wishing that they'd had more time so she could explain exactly what she meant by it.

"Here's your drink, Kellyn. Sorry it's not grape soda, they're fresh out."

"Damn...em..to hell." She slurred. Reece held the spout of the bottle to her lips and she drank, then coughed again. Rada winced with every one as she tried again to stay with them.

McKay moved closer and started to speak, when suddenly, he appeared for just a moment to be translucent.

Then his image appeared brighter than normal, then dimmer, and then, there was a loud crackling and buzzing noise, and his emitter hung for an instant suspended in mid air before it fell to the ground at Reece's feet.

Dalton McKay was gone.

"Shit." Reece picked it up and thrust it out toward Dengar. "This isn't good. Do something, we have to get him back!"

"No...wayto gethimback if..emitter..." Kellyn's voice trailed, and she again succumbed to unconsciousness.

"Oh no you don't Missy!" Reece stomped over to her and, channeling Rilan, he turned up the dosage on the stimulant and gave her another dose. "Wake UP!"

She didn't seem to stir or move this time, and all Rada could do was stare down for a long moment at the small piece of technology that he held in his hands.

He realized that along with it, he may be holding the very life of Lair Kellyn.

Lieutenant SG Rada Dengar
Chief Engineer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Commander Lair Kellyn
Engineering Research and Development
The Alchemy Project