708: The Only Right: Two

by Rada Dengar and Zanh Liis


...continued from part one...


“I, I failed Captain.” He was mumbling, ashamed to admit it.

“Through my failure I was unable to scan the interior of the Hugreti artifact before the Romulans arrived, I was unable to get a message to Starfleet in the timeframe we needed and when the Doctor’s mobile emitter failed I placed Commander Lair’s life in danger through my failure to repair it in a timely enough manner.” He sounded rather bitter now.

“I believe that for the sake of the ship and for the safety of future away missions you should choose another Chief Engineer because I am clearly unable to fulfill the requirements of the position.”

Zanh's eyes suddenly narrowed, all traces of the compassion she'd shown earlier, rewritten; first as disbelief, then as outright rage. "What did you just say to me?"

"I...I said that you should choose someone else to be your Chief Engineer."

Liis turned her back to him a moment, gathering her courage.

She dearly hated what she was about to do, but she felt that he left her no choice.

Slowly, she rotated. Burning, wrathful eyes blazed through him.


Dengar blinked.

He was surprised she had granted his request so quickly, and without a single word trying to talk him out of it.

He was accustomed, in the past, to her using her words to reinforce his faltering self-esteem. To assure him of her confidence in him, so that he could once again feel it, too. Today, it seemed, was an entirely new day.

"Sir? I-" he stammered.

"That's it. You're done. Let me know where you want to be transferred, and as soon as we finish up current business, I’ll transmit the request."

She stepped forward suddenly, effectively blocking the path between Dengar and the door. "But first, I'll have to tell Lair that you've just dumped a faltering ship into her lap, while she is lying there half bled to death at the hands of the people who took her daughter."

Her voice ratcheted up a notch with each word, until it hovered somewhere between a growl of aggravation and an outright shout. She began to jab the tip of her left index finger into the center of his chest.

"Then I'll explain to Salvek that you think so little of his family that you're going to abandon them, and the rest of the crew, in their hour of greatest need. When I'm finished with that, Dengar, I'll go and have a chat with that beautiful Betazoid that was at my wedding as your guest because, you know, you're only going to screw that up too! You'll be a lousy companion to her and a complete and total failure as a father to her kid! You know it, don't you? You just don't have it, Dengar. You're a disgrace! I can't stand to look at you!"

Rada's face was almost indescribable as she continued her tirade without taking a single breath between sentences. He looked so lost, like a kid on the first day he realised that the world just didn’t make the sense he thought it did.

His eyes were clearly fixated on the Captain but there was no emotion there. They weren’t sad or angry or even filled with that emptiness that strong men’s eyes got in times of pain; they were simply disconnected from the rest of him.

Her volume reached its apex as she spoke of Wren, and then plummeted so that only Dengar, and no one else aboard ship, could hear what she had said about Tam or the words that followed.

She reached out, grasped a clump of his tunic in each of her hands, and physically shook him twice before letting go.

"And if I believed any of that bullshit, do you think I would have ever given you the job to begin with? Do you really have that little faith in my judgment? Because if you do, you must have no self-regard at all, serving for so long under my command. Taking my orders without question."

She turned away, moving across the small space to the opposite wall. She leaned her arm up against it and allowed her head to fall down on top of it for a second. She sighed heavily, and then looked back up at him.

“You certainly put your case quite succinctly, and that was when you were making it to me. I can only imagine how convincing it sounds inside your own skull."

Rada was about to object but she just raised a hand to silence him.

“I was aware of the events on the planet when I decided to award you this promotion. Do you really think I'm so bad at my job, that I don't know what I'm doing in choosing the people who are entrusted with leading my departments? In selecting my own senior staff?"

"Of course not, Captain, but I-"

"Given the circumstances," Zanh interrupted, "and your unfamiliarity with much of the technology involved I was convinced that your performance went far beyond what could have been reasonably expected.”

“But…but, Sir,” he stuttered out, he was determined to make her realise his mistake “I should have been familiar with the technology.”

“I wasn’t aware that they held courses in Hugreti technology at the Academy, Mister Dengar!” her voice rose again, in sheer frustration. "Have you not heard a word I've said?"

“I was referring to the mobile emitter,” he explained.

“The emitter you repaired.” She raised a brow in a manner more appropriate to her first officer.

“Well, yes. I mean technically, but I should have…”

Again, she raised her hand into the air. This time she made a sharp, singular slashing motion across her throat to cut him off.

She could see that he was determined to blame himself, and he could see that she was determined not to let him.

“Danger, stop. Just. Stop."

She approached him again, and this time put a hand on each shoulder in a much more gentle fashion. "Kellyn got hurt. It's hard when something bad happens right in front of you to someone that you have regard for. But she would be the first to tell you that she knows our job is dangerous. There isn't anyone who signs on for Starfleet that doesn't know that. You know that."

She looked away a moment, then back at him with a particular sort of sadness he had only seen in her eyes once before. That was the day that she'd been forced to relieve him of duty aboard the Federation flagship; for the good of not only himself, but the safety of everyone else aboard.

"You know that I have faith in you. But you also have to know that a man who believes in the morning that he's going to be dead when the day is out will find a way to make it happen before sunset."

She thought of all the times she'd heard Keiran speak those very words, and a shiver ascended her spine as she also recalled how many times she had almost made the statement true in her own case.

"If you really can't do this, I need to know. Because we are about to go after the Romulans, Rada. Do you get that? This woman, Taris. The one who has taken Lair Arie."

She reached up and twisted her earring chain violently.

"O'Sullivan and I spent years, years trying to apprehend her and attempting to protect Salvek from her. I spent years chasing her with other partners as well. She is a phantom. She is ruthless, and she will stop at nothing to see Salvek and I dead, and only after first she has seen us suffer." Zanh stressed the last word.

"She wants to blow the Sera out of the sky, and she has already damn near succeeded once. The ship that your family is on, Lieutenant Commander." Her voice wavered. "Yes, Rada. Wren and Tam are on that ship, and Lair Arie has been taken from it by violence. They are depending upon us. They are depending upon you."

Zanh expelled a slow breath from between tight lips. "So, if you're going to sabotage yourself, I can't let you sabotage the rest of us right along with you. I need to know. Do you honestly want me to relieve you of duty or are you going to get out of your own head, hold your rightful place in our chain of command and do your job?"

“Captain, I agreed to take on this position and I promise to perform the associated duties to the best of my abilities,” he answered, trying to suppress something but he couldn’t define what. “But be advised that once a suitable replacement can be found it is my intention to resign my commission.”

“Damn it. You’re giving up,” she said bluntly as the anger returned to her voice, she was clearly not getting through to him.

“No, Captain. I’m merely finally taking the time to think things through," he said, although he struggled to believe it himself. "This mission made me realise that I have no place in Starfleet. I didn’t join up for glory or because of some profound belief in what we do. I joined up thinking that Starfleet was a better way, a purposeful existence above the violence and greed running rampant in the galaxy.

"Well, yesterday a dear friend of mine was almost killed by a group of rogue Romulan agents in the interests of obtaining some ancient toy. Her daughter has been kidnapped and the ship almost destroyed for reasons some mix of revenge and getting hold of a technology I’m not sure any of us is ready to deal with yet. This is not a better way. My family deserves better than this and frankly so do I.”

He wanted to look at her defiantly but his eyes just couldn’t manage it “So I will perform my duties, Captain, but once this mission’s over I’m getting out.”

The Captain huffed and shot daggers with her eyes.

“What’s changed?” she demanded, but before he could answer she answered the question for him. “I’ll tell you what’s changed; absolutely nothing. Life in Starfleet is exactly like it has been since long before you joined up. There have always been risks and people always got hurt. So don’t you dare try to come off all noble and tell me that you’ve had some sudden revelation that you have to leave to protect your family.”

She returned to the gentler tone.

“You feel guilty for things beyond your control. Given your personality, that’s understandable, and to tell you the truth, that tendency toward responsibility gives me great hope for you. Because far too many people in the Fleet these days are incapable of feeling guilt over anything, even when they are clearly at fault and cause outright disasters to occur."

Her thoughts drifted to conscienceless men like Jonas Vox, fueling her anger once again.

"But it’s not acceptable for you to take it to such an extreme that you just up and abandon all the people that rely on you because of that feeling. We rely on you, Rada, and I know you. You might not believe it, but I know you." She stared at him, eyes imploring him to hear reason. "You don't want to resign. You’re just not thinking clearly.”

“I…I’m tired, Captain.” Rada said, rapidly losing the strength to continue the fight. She was right that he wasn't thinking clearly at all right now.

“Damn right, you’re tired and you’re not making sense and when you’re thinking like this you’re no good to anyone” She pointed to the door.

"So I want you to go eat your soup and go to bed. If you still have these doubts about your abilities or the wisdom of the trust that I have placed in you after a good few hours rest, then I expect you to hand me your badge immediately without my having to ask for it. Clear?”

He could see there was no point arguing with her, as his droopy powerless eyes met her determined gaze he realised he didn’t stand a chance. He simply relented,
“Aye Sir,” and headed for the door.

"One more thing. Have the LMH check you over at his very first opportunity."

He nodded.

"And Mister Dengar,"

Rada waited.

"I expect that this is the very last time we will ever have this conversation."

He offered no further comment, leaving her no choice but to formally end the conversation herself. "Dismissed."

The moment he had gone, Liis sank to the lower of the two bunks and covered her face with her hands. She rubbed her aching temples and stinging eyes.

"There are times," she whispered to herself as she fought the urge to dissolve completely, "that I really hate my job."

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


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

NRPG: Congratulations, Danger.
You've earned the promotion
- and what a post to mark the occasion.
Wow is all I can say about this one.

Thanks for letting me be a part of it.~ZL