839: Dude, Where's My Chair?

by TC Blane and Zanh Liis
Following All The Wonder

-=USS Serendipity=-

After a short and silent ride in the turbolift the Liis and TC made their way to the Afterthought Café where they placed orders for their respective caffeine enriched beverages.

TC handed Liis a PADD as they waited for the hot drinks to be prepared.

“Repair status report.” He explained as she took the PADD from him.

“How bad is it?” She asked, not even looking at the information contained on the screen.

TC shrugged. “We are still about two, maybe three days behind. We should be back in service in five days. It will take about a week of continued repairs after that but those we can do while we are underway.”

"Well then, I suppose I'll have plenty of time to catch up on reading the crew reports I've missed while I was gone." Liis nodded once and thanked Wren Elton for the cup of coffee the Betazoid placed before her. "Now, on to other things. Mood of the crew aboard ship?"

"Runs the spectrum, Captain." Blane replied as he picked up his own mug and followed Zanh to a corner table by the windows. "Our new CMO seems intent on making his mark on the place. Poor Grace is at wits end but that can't be helped."

"No, it can't. She's married to Reece." Zanh joked, and Blane didn't allow himself a smile at the thought, but his eyes did flash an instant of amusement.

"She'll be back to her old self soon."

"She'll never be her old self again, not quite. She's going to be a mother. Once that happens..." Liis thought of how parenthood had changed the people she knew even though she hadn't experienced it herself. She thought of Salvek, the most controlled and stoic person she'd ever known really well, and how one small cough or sniffle from Arie when she was a baby could send the man into a near panic state.

"True." Blane now did nearly smile, and Liis couldn't fathom what he was thinking as he seemed to become fascinated with the small packets of sweetener that sat in a holder on the edge of the table. What he was thinking, was remembering the way Bru had been when he'd first met her and how much she'd changed.

Then he remembered the part he'd played in her zhian'tara ritual, and the feeling he'd had when he experienced Gentry's memories of home and family. The man had been a fabulous father, and TC was certain that the memories of his life that Grace carried would serve February well. "She's not exactly a rookie though is she? She's got some experience to draw on."

"This is true." Zanh sipped her cup and then set down the PADD she'd still not really been reading. "So the rest of our merry band plays on, even while fighting one of the most insidious foes ever to challenge any Starfleet officer. Boredom."

"Well, some of us have had little projects to keep us busy." Blane widened his eyes, and Liis pounded the table once in amazement.

"Stop the lights!" She borrowed one of Keiran's stock phrases of surprise and laughed. "He didn't."

"Aye. He did." Blane replied in an intentional monotone before drinking slowly from his cup again.

"I knew it. I knew that Dane had to have had help. How the hell did you get that bed up to the loft? There is no way the pieces would fit up that tiny spiral staircase."

"Ropes." Blane sighed. "And a large amount of patience. There was a moment or two when I was tempted to use those ropes for a darker purpose and tie Steele to a chair if she didn't shut up."

Liis laughed out loud. "You, Steele and Dane. The Three Musketeers ride again."

"More like one Musketeer and two Stooges."

"Well you did an incredible job and I will put a commendation on your permanent record." Liis teased.

"Don't you dare."

She laughed softly again, and finally she focused entirely on TC. This was the first chance they'd had to talk since the most unusual, and most emotional day they'd spent together back in Cork. "You've told me that everybody else is in pretty good shape. Tell me now, Thomas, what's the status of my Second Officer?

There was a long pause and Liis thought for a moment that TC might actually be forthright with any problem he might have.

Then his smiled. “He is operating within acceptable parameters.”

Liis shook her head and smiled. “Of course he is.”

"So, tell me about this shindig Reece is setting up for you."

"For Zander, really." Zanh replied, quickly draining the last of her coffee dry. It seemed obvious to TC that this morning she was drinking the beverage more for effect than enjoyment. "The setting is quite unique. It was a real place on Earth once, this Adventurer's Club. Part improvisional comedy club, part theater, and nothing like anything I've ever seen."

"How do we dress for this thing?"

"I don't know about you," Zanh's lip curled slightly, "But I intend to go in the finest period aviator's attire that the computer can replicate."

"Look out, Amelia Earhart." TC nodded. “I’ll have to come up with something.”

Abandoning their now empty cups, at last they had no choice but to move along on their way to tend the duties of the day, TC stepped aside to allow his captain first access to the lift before he took up his place beside her.

“Bridge.” She commanded the lift.

TC shot her a sideway glance. “Are you sure?”

“I can't just wander around my ship for the next two days avoiding it now can I?”

“I suppose not.”

In a short time the lift doors opened and the pair stepped onto the bridge that was bustling with activity to say the least. To TC’s surprise the staff had come a long way in only thirteen hours.

Most of the terminals and panels were back in place and were surrounding by teams of technicians working to config them. New deck panels shined under there feet. All of the panels on the bridge had been replaced with new shatterproof panels that shined like stainless steel. Neon blue accent lights lit the bridge in a soft glow and the walls were now a slick black color much like a deactivated computer panel.

TC whistled, truly impressed with the results.

Black leather trimmed in Starfleet blue was now the choice of color for all of the seats except one; the Captain's chair, which was still missing. In its place sat a wooden stool with a Starfleet coffee mug on it.

"Either someone misplaced my chair or Lassiter has a better sense of humor than I ever gave her credit for." Zanh observed with a wry smile.

TC threw his shoulders back and wondered what part of 'make that a priority' Lt. Perry had misunderstood. "I'll take care of it, Captain."

"Thank you."

"If it's any consolation...there were a few upgrades made to the speaker system in your ready room." He allowed her to see a momentary flash of a grin, and she had no need of guessing anymore who recommended those particular changes.

"Music to soothe the indigenous savage beast, Thomas? You're even more of a genius than I thought." Zanh took a quick spin around the bridge and returned to him, where he stood, simply waiting patiently.

"You seem to have things well in hand here, Commander. I think that I will take a tour of the rest of the ship, and swing by the Holodeck too just to be sure everything is ready for tonight. I want Zander's jaw to drop when he walks through that door. He needs to know just how important he is to all of us, and how glad we are that he's back on his feet." Zanh's eyes took on a momentary sadness when she recalled the sight of Blakeslee in Sickbay. "He came too close to leaving us. I'll have to be sure to order him never to scare us like that again."

Just then the very tall form of Commander Briggs strode up to the pair.

“Welcome home, Captain.” He greeted, before nodding to acknowledge Blane. “Commander.”

Turning back to Zanh, he continued.“Sorry about the chair not being here, but we are still waiting for the supply shuttle to get here. We are kind of outpacing them right now. I’ll make sure Lt. Perry has it installed and warmed up for you by this evening.”

"Excellent. Thank you again for sticking around awhile longer, Commander. I'll do what I can to be sure that your shore leave time is supplemented accordingly since you never did get that vacation they promised you."

“Well it is kind of good to know that I am needed I guess, and I am far from worried about the time off. I’ll squeeze it out of them one way or another.”

"As efficient as you are, I'm certain you will." Zanh concluded, heading back toward the lift. "In the meantime, we're having a party tonight on Holodeck One, and we'd be happy to see you there if you're free."

“I’ll be there.” Paxton smiled.

"Excellent. I look forward to watching you try to master the top secret Club salute." Zanh widened her eyes mischeviously as the doors slid shut and Briggs turned to Blane.


"Don't ask me, I have no idea. But it seems we're going to find out."

Commander TC Blane
Second Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


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

838: Everything They Needed to Say

by Lair Kellyn and Rada Dengar
Concurrent with All The Wonder

-=The Galley, USS Alchemy=-

"I will add to the end of your last word, Ensign Lassiter, and spell the word 'requites'. R-E-Q-U-I-T-E-S." Lair Arie raised large brown eyes from the game board and gazed serenely upon first Gira Lassiter, and then Dwan Tubman. "Triple word score, and I have used all of my tiles. I believe that I am entitled to an additional fifty point bonus."

"Yes you are." Gira couldn't really mind that Arie had just slaughtered them the third Scrabble game in a row, even as young as she was, she was half Vulcan, and she was also very, very smart. Gira lifted the tile bag and shook it. "And we're out of letters. Dwan, anything else you can do over there?"

Tubman surveyed his letters a moment and then sighed. "Nothing more, Ensign Lassiter. I will have to deduct two V's and a Y from my score." The gentle giant regarded the small girl with a smile. "You're pretty good at this game, Miss Arie."

"Being that it is based upon the...twenty six letter Universal Standard alphabet it is...really not that difficult." Arie said, trying not to let her tiredness show.

"Dwan," Gira began, addressing Tubman warmly, as she addressed everyone she knew. "How many times do I have to ask you to call me Gira?"

"I pride myself on properly addressing a lady, Ensign Lassiter." Dwan replied politely.

Gira smiled. Though he had no memory of having known her before, she remembered him well from their days serving together on the Perseids, and remembered that even in those two years of non-linear time when the crew had grown so close and depended upon each other so much, that he had never once called her by her first name then, either. She was determined that one day, she'd win the friendly battle of wills.

Dwan noticed that Arie, who had been yawning with increasing frequency over the past half an hour, was now suddenly leaning over in her chair, falling asleep where she sat. He wasn't surprised. It was really quite late as far as her body clock was concerned, still being on Vulcan time.

Salvek had relieved Gira of duty at the helm two hours ago so she could take a break, and the telltale hum of the deck plates beneath her feet told her that they were slowing down- they must be nearly home.

A few moments later, Lair Kellyn appeared, finding her daughter had fallen asleep on Gira's shoulder. Tubman excused himself to return to the bridge,

Due to the position of the larger ship, they would be unable to return the Alchemy to her bay until Sera was once again floating free in space. After the ship had been secured to space dock along side the Sera, Salvek prepared to join his family. But first, he made a point of thanking each member of the crew personally for going on the journey as they disembarked, before he sought out his wife and daughter.

Gira gently turned Arie to the opposite side, and the sleeping child lolled onto her mother's shoulder. Gira gently waved her farewell to Lair, and stopped in the doorway to accept Salvek's thanks.

Salvek took one step into the room and stopped in his tracks. The sight of Arie, cheeks flushed, eyelashes so dark and long beneath her bangs and fast asleep in Kellyn's arms brought back memories of a much smaller version of the girl who seemed in far too great a hurry to grow up.

Catching the flash of emotion that darted across Salvek's deeply dark eyes for the shortest possible instant, Kellyn felt the familiar, if still rare, sting of tears at the corners of her eyes. She watched as he finally moved toward them, took Arie into his arms, and carried her, just as he had done so many nights when she had refused to stay in her own bed as a toddler and had only fallen asleep in theirs.

Kellyn stood and leaned close to him, whispering softly. "I have to check on a couple things, I'll be back to quarters soon." Salvek nodded, and they parted ways at the exit of the Sera's transporter room. He headed home, and she headed in the other direction.

Kellyn wasn't sure if she should check her lab first or stop to see if the man she sought might still be in Engineering. It was highly unlikely he would be these days, given how unlike when he had first served on her Engineering crew as an Ensign, he now had a family, anxiously waiting at home for him to finish his duty shifts so that they could have his attention.

She thought about Wren and Tam, and about how much their presence had given to Rada. He’d seemed happy when he was on his own, at least happy enough. He would smile and even joke when he felt like it and she could tell how much he loved the work. It was certainly far from the green young officer she’d first met whose entire demeanour would change from quiet, gentle and constantly thoughtful to someone completely different when he thought anyone was watching.

He never realised that she was always watching.

It was warming to see the changes in him as he grew into a more comfortable, albeit unusual, Engineer. Yet the closer they grew the more she began to sadly wonder; when the day was done and he locked himself away alone in his quarters, what did he really have? Now he wasn’t alone and she didn’t have to wonder.

She then thought about Rada, and considered how much his presence had given to everyone aboard the Serendipity. He deserved not to be alone.

She didn't ask for him when she arrived, instead, she merely toured the department in silence, nodding in response to but speaking no replies aloud to those who greeted her there. She felt she'd spoken so many words of late, and thought so hard and felt so much in so many ways during her time on Vulcan that all of those things- words, thoughts, and feelings- were in short supply in her now. She couldn't offer anyone anything at the moment, because she had already given it all.

Satisfied that Dengar was not present here, she retreated, deciding it best if she checked her laboratory to be certain that Reece hadn't destroyed anything important by fire, water, or any other of the types of unique disasters that only Dabin Reece could be responsible for. Incidents aboard DS23 directly attributable to the use or misuse of Silly String, Play-Doh and chocolate chip cookie dough instantly sprang to mind.

Three separate incidents.

One common, spotted catalyst.

The instant the doors on turbolift 6-A closed behind her, the doors of turbolift 6-B opened, and Rada Dengar stepped out from between them. His outward movements were hurried but his mind was racing much faster. Possibilities had always haunted him but now it was more of an assault.

He had asked to be informed as soon as Lair Kellyn returned to the ship, and upon being notified she had arrived, he set out to find her at her laboratory, knowing her well enough that he was certain that was the first place she would go when she got back.

Only, she hadn't gone there. It was almost a contradiction how he could be simultaneously so certain that Kellyn would be here and so completely unsurprised that she wasn’t. When he felt impatient no one was ever where they should be.

He'd sighed, standing outside the door and asked the computer where he could find her.

The computer most cheerfully informed him that Lair Kellyn was in Main Engineering.

He could have simply tapped his badge and told her that he was looking for her; but he preferred to greet her in person considering that the one line message she had sent to him, as humorous as it had been, really gave little indication as to what kind of mood she may be in upon her actual arrival. Vol Tryst had once told him humour was used as a defense mechanism, a way to hide the pain. Rada knew all too well how easily a second of forced laughter could be the perfect cover for a deeply anguished scream.

Though at first when these thoughts began to creep into his mind they were easily dismissed they were ever more strongly asserting themselves and there was only one way he could even have a chance to fight against them. He had to see with his own eyes that Kellyn was okay. Her physical health was undoubtedly fine but there was one inescapable truth; if the Vulcans decided Salvek was lost then Kellyn would not return as the woman he knew.

There were so many possibilities, some he feared and others his mind would taunt him with declarations that they couldn’t be true. He’d tried to plan what he was going to say, but couldn’t consider any outcome long enough to find even a word.

Tentatively, Rada poked his head around the corner into Engineering.

Fearing startling her because it was so late at night and Engineering was now fairly deserted, he didn't call her name. Instead he walked from console to console, seeking her at every turn until he'd covered every inch of the space of not only the lower but upper level of the department, finally accepting after doing so that she must have already left. It was typical and evidence that were there any higher forces at work here then they were never benevolent ones.

Heaving a heavier sigh than before he shifted the armload of PADDS he held and asked the computer once again where he might find Lair Kellyn. He concentrated quite hard on reminding himself things were going to be alright.

The computer, just as cheerfully as it had before, informed him that Lair Kellyn was in the Engineering Research and Development Lab on deck six.

Rada couldn't currently smack himself on the forehead in a gesture of frustration, for his arms were still full. It was probably a good thing because doing so rarely made him feel any better. But he did allow himself a small eye roll as he turned around, headed back to the lift, and politely, if impatiently, asked the lift to take him to deck six.

Kellyn unlocked the door of her laboratory and, with the complete conviction of a person who knew exactly what to look for, had the feeling that she had not been the last person to set foot in this room. It was clear in the air which was not quite as still as it should have been.

Yes, she was certain of it. Though everything atop her desk seemed to be precisely where she'd left it, including the pile of hand-drawn schematics waiting to be scanned and transferred into the computer that she'd left stacked at a particular angle and with the top sheet upside down just so that she'd know for sure if anyone had moved anything, she was convinced that someone- that he had...

She opened the top drawer of her desk and mentally ticked off the sticks of Kava Rock Candy she'd left within.

One was missing.

Reece, you're in deep, Kellyn thought.

As she began in her head to go through a devious list of potential actions with which to repay his petty thievery, she heard the doors behind her slide open and startled.

She whirled around and saw, not Reece as she had expected, but instead Rada Dengar. His emotions were almost unreadable, even to him, as he stood in the doorway unmoving. But she saw his eyes bore that fearful concern that only the deepest of thinkers could know.

He was holding the PADDs of Alchemy Project notes and blueprints that she'd left in his care and keeping, just in case she did not return to her post.

His eyes settled upon her, instantly and effortlessly taking stock of her soul. He searched for pain that wasn’t there, knowing her too well to believe it’d be missed.

His initial expression of concern altered into one of curiosity, but was then quickly overtaken by one of relief. This was Kellyn, and she was okay, there was nothing more relieving than that.

Whatever had happened to her on Vulcan was something that they could talk about another time, if she chose to tell him about it. If not, it would be enough for him to know that no matter what she had gone through there that she had, at the very least, returned with her family, her life, intact.

Kellyn said nothing and instead let her eyes speak for her. His gaze was still inquiring and hers answered and reassured him. With no doubt the message had been conveyed, she wordlessly made her way across the room toward the panel in the wall that he remembered well, because it was the one behind which the greatest secrets of her life's work were hidden and then revealed, to him.

She keyed in the security code and the panel slid aside after emitting a series of beeps and clicks. Rada handed her the PADDs one at a time, watching as she stacked them carefully upon the shelves, one and another and another until the very last was returned to its rightful spot, and ownership.

She slid the panel back, with one motion both moving it from side to side and also gently pressing it backward to lock it into place, flush against the rest of the wall. Seeing that she'd left a hand print, she gently tugged the sleeve of her tunic up over her palm, grasped it between her fingers and used the material to buff the surface, until it shined as brightly again as the others nearby which camouflaged it.

She rubbed at it until she could see her reflection in it as it seemed to melt back into its secrecy, and looking up, she also saw Dengar's face as he stood over her shoulder. The man himself seemed changed, and restored, as any flicker of concern was gone. His expression was wholly one of immense relief; not only because the research material was now back where he felt it belonged, but so was Lair Kellyn.

She didn't know how to begin or if she should even try to explain to him what had happened. Maybe he didn't want to know, or maybe she shouldn't say. Either way, she found that the words that had deserted her earlier, rendering her unable to even say a simple hello to fellow members of crew were still nowhere to be found, even in the company of such a good friend. This time though it was a less conspicuous silence as she soon found that he was indeed such a good friend that nothing needed to be said at all.

He waited for a long time, the bliss of true silence in his mind, before finally placing a comforting hand upon her shoulder and slowly turning her around. He couldn’t hold back when she faced him again, he made his happiness that her family had come back to the Sera safely known to her without a single word, and with one single gesture.

With the closest thing that he’d known to aggression he swiftly pulled her into a gently reassuring hug. For just a moment he kept her there, before he silently turned and left her where she stood.

Commander Lair Kellyn
Engineering Research and Development
The Alchemy Project


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

837: All The Wonder

by -=/\=- Zanh Liis
Soundtrack, Hamburg Song by Keane
Hours after A Weather Eye


-=Quarters of the Captain, USS Serendipity=-

Sighing deeply in her sleep, Liis rolled over and clutched the blanket tightly between her fingers as she dreamed.

-=Spring of 2380, Alternate Timeline=-

As she sank to the grass, she leaned back against the tree- their tree. She closed her eyes, thinking of all the things she needed to say, to do. Things she would say and do, if she just had the chance.

Afternoon turned to evening, and as twilight bled into darkness she realized that she might as well...

It was just as she was convincing herself it was time to go that she heard the sound, saw the lights, and where there had been nothing but emptiness before, suddenly, he was there.

He was hurt.

His face bruised, his arm was bandaged and in a sling, but he was here. He was alive and he was in one piece, she could ask for no more.

She cried out his name as she jumped to her feet and threw her arms around him. Keiran groaned involuntarily, the pain in his ribs and chest searing through him as she pulled him into her embrace.

Somehow, that pain was a small price to pay for the sensation of being held by her this way.

It took a moment for him to realize that she was sobbing against his shoulder.

"Shhh, hey, now, 'tis all right. Don't cry. You didn't think that a few Romulan operatives could really be the end of me, did ya now?"

"I thought," she gasped between breaths, "that you were never," She turned her eyes up toward him, and he marveled over the fact that even when she wept, she was beautiful.

"Remember, what you told me? Here. The night of the Perseids."

He nodded.

"Y-you s-said that if I e-ever thought I c-could, that you w-would," she stammered, stuttering for the first time in years. Her eyes fluttered shut as he brushed the tears from her face. She cast her gaze downward, gathering her courage.

"Liis," he whispered, tilting her face back up toward his, "What are you,"

"I love you," she announced, clearly and without hesitation. "I love you, Keiran and you can't," she began to shake, weeping again. "You can't ever scare me that way again, do you hear me? Or I swear, I'll,"

He laughed softly, even as he tried to hide how much pain he was really in every time she hugged him closer.

"I'll do my best on that, yeah? Promise," he began, not having fully absorbed what she'd said before she tried to think up some punishment suitable to threaten him with.

Finally, her words began to sink in. He pulled free from her and took a step back.

He didn't want to misunderstand what was happening here- he had to be certain.

"Zanh Liis. What did you just say to me?"

"I said I love you, Keiran."


She shook her head, taking his bruised face gently into both of her hands. "There is no 'but'. Not this time." She brought her lips so near his, Keiran thought he might perish from the ache of wanting her if she didn't kiss him soon.

"I love you," she repeated, and then she was kissing him and for one perfect moment, nothing else that had ever happened in her life, or his, seemed to matter anymore.

After she finally released him so he could catch his breath, Keiran kept his eyes closed.

"I'm dreamin'. Honest to God, I must be." For a moment he actually wondered if he were dead, because he couldn't believe that any sort of reward in Heaven could be any better than the feeling of finally hearing her say that she loved him.

"No," Liis assured him gently, stroking her hand against his cheek. "You're not dreaming, I promise you. But you are hurt, Keiran, and we shouldn't stay here. It's getting cold. You're shaking."

"Not shakin' 'cause I'm cold, Liis," Keiran rumbled softly, pressing his lips to her ear as she ran her hand up and down his uninjured arm. "I've never felt so-"

He stopped, staring into her eyes with an intensity that entranced her. "Tell me again, what ya told me before." He still wasn't entirely certain he could believe her words, and needed to hear them, once more.

"I love you."

Again he closed his eyes, releasing his breath slowly. He was feeling dizzy now, overcome he was sure with emotion as well as exhaustion. His weight swayed slightly from foot to foot.

"Whoa," Liis put her arms around his waist to steady him. "Come on O'Sullivan. Let's get you home."

"This will be home for us both, soon enough." Keiran whispered, kissing the top of her head as she led him from beneath the tree. "I promise you."

They beamed for now back to his small apartment in the city, not far from TI's main offices.

Offices into which they both knew that they would soon be going, but not simply to return to work. Rather, to make an announcement that was not going to go over well at all with their superiors, let alone their 'handler', Jonas Vox. Be that as it may, Keiran honestly didn't care. The Universe would have to take care of itself from here on out, because his only concern was taking care of Zanh Liis.

She helped him up the stairs and into the apartment, got him out of his boots and headed toward the bedroom.

She smiled wistfully, remembering the time that he'd put her to bed here and spent the night on the tiny couch as she slept off the Jack Daniels she'd consumed trying to forget; and how he'd told her the next day that there was no such thing as perfection when it came to the management of time and history.

All they could do was the best they could do, and that was that.

She hadn't accepted it then, but now she did. Now, she was not only accepting of the future that this timeline had set out for her but looking forward to it. To marrying him, as she was certain knowing him that he would eventually ask her; and getting the hell away from Vox and his ilk as quickly as they possibly could.

"Are you hungry? I'll get you something."

"Tryin' ta...finish me off are ya?" Keiran joked, wincing in pain as he ambled along. Liis' cooking was a thing of legend; it was infamously bad.

"I meant take out, wise guy." She ordinarily would've nudged him in the ribs with her elbow to tease him, but injured as he was, she dared hardly touch him.

In the condition he was in there would be no more talk of the future or what it meant for them tonight; there was plenty of time for that later. Now that he'd come back to her in one piece, Liis felt that they had all the time in the world, for everything.

She pulled the covers back and eased him down onto his bed. Slowly he leaned himself into the pillows she'd propped up to support him, and he tilted his head back against the wall and closed his eyes. "In the other room, please," he whispered, "The med kit?"

She hurried to retrieve it, and he selected a hypo from it and administered the dose of something to take the edge off of the pain once again. There was no escaping it completely.

She wrung her hands. It was painful to see him suffer; she would much rather have suffered the wounds herself if she could have spared him having to.

"Is there anything else I can do for you now?"

"Yeah," Keiran said dreamily, as his eyes fluttered shut from the effects of the medication. "Stay."

Having never had any intention of leaving, Liis had already removed her boots and jacket.

"If that's what you want..."

"Is. Just. What I've wanted." He murmured softly. "For so long."

She carefully sat down beside him. His head drooped to the side and she guided it over onto her shoulder as she brushed his hair back.

"Sleep now," she whispered. "I'll be watching over you, Just as you've watched over me, even when I didn't know you were doing it."


"He's not coming back this time, I've already told you, Zanh Liis." Tucker Brody sighed with frustration and ran his hand back through his floppy mane of artfully disarranged, sand colored hair. He pushed his fingers down at the bridge of his nose as if fighting off a throbbing headache.

"He is, you'll see," Liis insisted, her voice a hoarse and her words desperate, but still she was defiant. "He promised me that no matter what he'd always come back to me."

"Keiran O'Sullivan is DEAD Zanh Liis," Brody insisted, uncharacteristically raising his voice. "He is never coming back."

"Maybe here, maybe now," Liis insisted. "But that can't be the end."

She gathered her knees to her chest. She rested her head upon them and wrapped her arms around, beginning to rock back and forth on the thin padding that constituted the mattress of her narrow metal bunk.

"It's not the end of him. It can't be the end of him."


Liis awoke with a start and sat up, entirely certain that she'd find herself still in the six by six foot cell that had made up her hospital room in the other time.

She shivered, wondering how it was possible that such sweet memories could still be poisoned by others so bitter.

Keiran immediately reacted to the sound of her gasping for air. He hadn't fallen asleep, instead he'd been watching over her as she dreamed, staring at the stars out the viewport and thinking back over all that had happened in recent days.

"Hey, there," he whispered affectionately, reaching out to her. "Is all right, darlin'."

She focused at last on his face, searching his eyes and finding them warm, clear and blue as the calmest of seas.

She took in the surroundings of their newly redesigned quarters and her shoulders relaxed. It took her much longer, however, to still the pounding of her heart.

She closed her eyes, the weight of his hand upon her arm anchoring her here, in the now she preferred so much to any other time she'd ever lived. "What time is it?"

"Is..." Keiran craned his neck to see the chronometer on the bedside table. "Oh three hundred or so."

Liis groaned and allowed him to gather her into his arms. She rested her head against his chest. "Sorry I woke you."


"Oh?" She looked up at him, concerned. "I'd have thought you'd be worn out after the day we had. Something keeping you up?"

"Just this." He kissed the top of her head. "All of this."

"It's still hard to believe. Isn't it?" The starlight caught the gems in the band on her finger and Liis watched as they threw streaks of color onto the wall.

"Maybe so," Keiran answered, "But I've never wanted to believe in an'a'thin' so badly in my life."

He knew she was worried, that thoughts of Tucker Brody and who knew what else were keeping her from feeling pure joy in the place at which they'd finally arrived. "I promise you, Liis," he vowed, "I'm not going to let an'a'one take this away from us. Ever again."

She tilted her head up and kissed him, and as one kiss became another, and another, she remembered a question suddenly that she'd had earlier when she first saw the bed where it was now located; high up in the bedroom that was more a balcony than anything else overlooking what lay beneath. "Keiran,"

"Mmm?" his mind on anything but talking, he wondered what she could possibly want to ask him now.

"This bed, it...weighs a ton. If the ship loses artificial gravity..."

He rumbled with soft laughter. "Exactly why I told Mister Blane to bolt the blessed frame to the floor."

-=Hours later=-

Liis awoke again just before her alarm was due to sound at oh six hundred, and hurried to shut it off.

Keiran was finally, for once, sleeping soundly and peacefully and so she took it upon herself as the CO who also had the ability to claim the right as his wife to verify that his schedule had nothing pressing upon it for the morning.

Then, she cleared it.

She tiptoed softly around the room as she dressed, taking it all in. She was still unable to believe the pains he'd taken to make the space feel like a real home and not just sterile, standard quarters they were to endure until they got to go home next.

As she descended the stairs she found another gift waiting; a real coffee maker was now set into an alcove in the wall beside the replicator. She laughed quietly at the sight but decided to forego testing it out for the sake of letting him sleep in, knowing the aroma would wake him.

Instead she popped her hand into the glass jar of coffee beans that sat on a shelf waiting to be ground and used and tossed a handful of them into her mouth instead; eating them just as they were to tide her over until she could get to the Afterthought for a cup of the real thing.

She pulled on her boots and with one last look around left their quarters for now, but only after placing a handwritten note on the small kitchen table that read:

"For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be..."

...I hope that you slept well.


As she made her way through the gradually waking corridors of the Serendipity, Zanh Liis O'Sullivan thought back to the sight of Keiran as he slept, and doubted that Tennyson himself could ever in his life have seen such wonders, as she had.

She made herself a promise in the moment that no one, least of all Tucker Brody, would ever be allowed to bring Keiran any harm, as long as she was living.

She pressed the button to call the turbolift and was shaken from her daze by the sight of a familiar face when the lift doors parted.

"Good morning, Captain. Can I buy you a cup of coffee?"

She grinned back at TC Blane and took up position beside him.

"Hell, yes."

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

836: A Weather Eye

by *Keiran O’Sullivan
After Behind Schedule

-=USS Serendipity=-

Keiran smiled at Blane, as the two parted ways for the time being. Indeed Dane had somehow managed to complete his task without much more fanfare than a broken nose.

Luckily for Dane it was his nose that was broken, and not the bed; his fate would have been much worse in the end.

Once Blane was out of sight the smile on Keiran’s face faded away. Something was on his mind, and it had been gnawing at him since he talked to Liis in the field in Ireland.

Tucker Brody.

They had come so far, and the more he thought about it, the more it angered him that after finally putting together their lives and home with everyone’s blessing, this one man would suddenly become a thorn in her side for no apparent reason.

He did, as he intended, plan on checking the progress in their quarters. But first, a stop to send a message.

Keiran made sure no one saw him, as he entered an empty room with a computer terminal. The lights were off, so as he turned the screen towards him, only its pale light illuminated his face.

“Computer, disable all security scanners in this room, and open a secure channel to Temporal Investigations on Earth, office of Paul Andrews.”

^Level five clearance required.^

Keiran typed in a long code, reserved specifically for communiqués with TI. The computer beeped, and he was connected to the Head of Security for the agency.

Andrews still appeared lean and muscular, despite the fact that his advancing years was claiming the hair on the crown of his head.

He recognized Keiran immediately, for he had known the man for years. Though the fact of the matter was that Andrews recognized anyone he had seen at least once; Paul’s photographic memory was borderline disturbing and suited him perfectly for his position.

[Commander O’Sullivan? This is unexpected.]

Andrews was also not the sort of man who enjoyed surprises.

Many of Keiran’s colleagues still called him Captain out of respect for his former position, but Andrews knew he was a Commander now, and his former rank was meaningless to Paul. That was just the way he did things.

“Unexpected but not unimportant Commander Andrews.”

[I am listening.]

“I need ya ta do somethin’ for me. I need you to keep an eye on Tucker Brody.”

Andrews crossed his arms over his chest, and waited for Keiran to continue. He took his position very seriously and if Keiran wanted him to monitor one of their own, he was going to need a damn good reason for it.

“I have reason to believe that Brody may pose a threat to Captain Zanh.”

[Stop right there, O'Sullivan. You cannot expect me to run a tail on every single person down here that you think may pose a threat to your new wife. If you have something on Brody, I suggest you present it now.]

Keiran leaned closer to the screen. “She believes the man has it in for her, for some reason. I intend to find out why, with your help.”

[I’m sorry but I cannot authorize any sort of action without just cause.]

“Oh, but ya can, ‘cause I’m givin’ it to ya. I am Security Liaison to The Alchemy Project, and as such, if ya check yer manual, I’m entitled to use any and all TI resources available to me to neutralize any sort of threat to the Project.”

Truth be told Keiran was infinitely more concerned with Liis’ well being then that of the Project, but if using Salvek and Kellyn’s prototype as an excuse to get Brody under control was what it took to protect Liis, then he was more than willing to do just that.

“Captain Zanh is charged with overseein’ the well bein’ of the Project, so an’a’thin' that happens to her directly impacts the potential success of the Project. I’m sure director Lindsay and Admiral Lassiter would agree, but you should be able to come to that conclusion all on your own.”

Andrews sat silent for a moment, as he reviewed the codebooks in his mind. He had no need of recalling them on the computer, as he had already committed ever line to memory.

[Your position does give you such power. I will grant your request.]

“I thought ya would. Now, Paul, I want everythin’ watched. If the man so much as orders a ham sandwich instead of turkey for lunch, I want ta know about it.”

[I understand. Maybe you can help clarify one thing for me however.]

“What’s that?”

[Why me, Commander O’Sullivan? You could have brought this matter directly to Admiral Lassiter or Director Lindsay, and they surely would have approved your request immediately. Your relationship with both of them is well documented.]

Andrews’ last comment was a warning as much as it was a statement of fact. He was not opposed to keeping detailed records of any information he came across, whether the person in question was under investigation or not.

“I don’t see an’a' reason to involve them, do you? As ya said our relationship is well documented. Don’t ya think Brody would be smart enough to mind himself around those two, knowing how close they are to myself and Captain Zanh?”

[I’ll be in touch.] Andrews closed the channel without further fanfare. He never was one for goodbyes.

“Computer, erase all records of the previous transmission.”

^Erasure complete.^

Keiran left the room and proceeded back to their quarters- now officially known as the Captain’s Quarters.

He knew Liis would be done checking on Reece soon, and would be working her way back here.

With the nasty business with Brody done, at least for now, he was feeling in a much better mood, and anxious for her to come home.

Despite the fact Keiran himself had seen and approved all the plans for their quarters, it still took him aback to see them for the first time complete.

Sketches on PADDs couldn’t do justice to the real thing.

What was normally the bedroom in these quarters was converted to a den for her, where she could sit and write either at the computer, or on the parchment he had supplied if she wished to write by hand.

He left the walls mostly bare, with the intent that she could decorate the space as she pleased. Clocks. Artwork. Whatever her heart desired. As long as she was comfortable there, that was all he needed.

To make sure he added his own personal touch, there were two items on the desk. To the left side, a small model of the Sera sat. On the right, he placed a small, replicated Trembling Poplar.

It was positioned as such that every time one of them would walk in or out of the room, the tiny leaves would shake, recreating the sound of the tree.

The true focal point was not the den, however.

At the far end of their quarters, Keiran had specified placement of a perfectly recreated, all be it on a smaller scale, spiral staircase; like the one in their home in Ireland. It led up through the ceiling to the deck above where their new loft bedroom was located, along with the bed he had built himself and that Blane, Cristiane and company had so carefully installed here.

The bed and other bedroom furniture had been set a ways back into the loft..

A waist-high railing with polished brass fixtures went from the top of the stairs and spanned the space across to the opposite wall, and he could already imagine Liis standing there, looking down over the rest of their home aboard ship, and smiling at him.

The desired effect was achieved, to give her the same open, airy feeling of their home in Ireland, though they were living within the confines of a starship.

Off the bedroom was the master bathroom, with a large tub and hot and cold running water. Every detail was perfect, right down to the name Liis stitched in green on the hand towel hanging next to the sink.

Above the bed and stretching from wall to wall was a long panoramic lithograph of the Perseids, as seen from Earth.

He adjusted a few pillows and the handmade quilts he’d sent up from the house the way he knew she liked, so everything would be perfect for her.

Keiran had also requested the door to what was now the loft be removed. A move he reconsidered when he realized that may not be the safest thing for Liis. He opted instead for the door to be replaced with a breakaway panel, so if there ever were an emergency, they could get out into the corridor without going down the staircase first.

Otherwise, the only way up to the bedroom was by using the staircase, which Keiran preferred.

It also kept anyone from accidentally opening the wrong door and stumbling into their sleeping space.

He went back down the stairs and waited for her to return. Keiran tossed his uniform into the laundry bin, opting for denim jeans and a matching button-down shirt instead.

He walked into the den, pulled a volume of Yeats off the shelf, and sat down to read while he waited.

After several minutes he heard the hiss of a door opening, and the sound of Liis’s boots hitting the deck as she walked in. He remained hidden in the den, waiting for her to find him.

“Keiran, you are going to love what Reece did… oh my word what have you done?”

He grinned as he realized she must have seen the staircase up to the next deck.

Liis reserved her first reaction, which was to very colorfully take the name of Keiran’s Lord in vain upon seeing the interior of their quarters.

From his vantage point he saw out into the other room. From where she stood, she couldn’t make out clearly what was above, and so wondered what could possibly be up there. She spied him sitting in the den, which she still expected to be the bedroom, and poked her head in.

“So this is what you’ve been planning. It’s beautiful,” she said, looking around at all the perfectly arranged stationary and computer access he had set up for her. She heard the trembling of the leaves as she walked in, and froze in place. “That sound.”

“You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to duplicate it perfectly. I had to program the replicator special.” Keiran snapped the book shut and set it back on the shelf. “For yer readin’ pleasure, and mine too of course.”

“I don’t know what to say, thank you. You obviously spent a lot of time on this. I would have been fine with just the regular Starfleet issue desk, you know.”

“I don’t want ya to be just fine, Liis. I want you to feel like yer home. I left the walls bare for ya, but I’ll hang whatever ya wish me to.”

Liis began to wonder about something, as the layout of their quarters went through her head.

“Wait, though. Isn’t this where the bedroom was before?”


“Then, where…” She spun back, gesturing out towards the staircase. She’d been too amazed by what was directly before her to think about looking up again until now. “No.”

“Yeah.” He tilted his head. “Go on an’ look, then.”

Liis jogged up the stairs and Keiran lingered behind. He heard a gasp of surprise, and grinned to himself.

“So that means you like it?”

“Like it? Like it?” She called back. He heard her footsteps cross from the bedroom into the bathroom. There was another gasp, followed by a “No way,” followed by the sound of running water in the tub. Keiran laughed out loud, his voice booming up through the open expanse to where Liis was.

The water stopped, and he saw Liis appear at the edge of the balcony, looking down at him over the railing from above, just as he’d imagined.

“How did you…” She asked, pointing back and away, towards the bed.

“Does it matter?”

“Yes, it matters! I know you, Keiran O’Sullivan. There is no way you would trust that bed to the transporter. You made Dane move it didn’t you? Who else?”

Keiran stammered for just a moment, which confirmed Liis’ suspicions. If there was something about Zanh Liis that never ceased to amaze him, it was her ability to see right through any sort of clandestine plan, no matter how good intentioned or dastardly it was.

“We’ll discuss it another time,” he promised, as he climbed the stairs to be with her. “So, do ya really like it?”

“So much,” she sighed with amazement, still taking in the room around her.

How much?” He asked with a gleam in his eye.

This much,” she answered, leading him back towards the bed.

*Keiran O’Sullivan
Security Liaison for
The Alchemy Project
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

835: Assorted Mixed Nuts

by Dabin Reece
During and after May We Never... and Behind Schedule

-=USS Serendipity=-

Dabin Reece walked onto the empty grid of the holodeck, holding a PADD in hand. The Captain apparently had a task for him, but her message said to not read it until he was actually on the holodeck. He downloaded the encrypted instructions onto said PADD and as the doors closed behind him, turned it on.

He could only imagine what sort top-secret espionagy type stuff Zanh Liis wanted him to see. Maybe it was some new training program, or top secret plans for the Alchemy, or covert mission coming up on which she needed Dabin Reece alone because no one else on the crew could be trusted with the deep dark horrible secret details of their mission.

Or maybe it was…

“The great minds of history?”

Dabin’s eyes crossed as he scanned down a list of names. He turned the PADD sideways, then upside down to make sure he wasn’t missing something important.

Dabin, I want you to design a holodeck program, with an appropriate setting, for the crew to interact with some of the greatest minds in history. It should be a fun and lighthearted atmosphere. I want this to be a party, not a lecture. I’m entrusting you with this because I know I can always count on you, and you’ll never let me down.


“Murph,” Dabin growled to himself. “Did she really have to add the part about never letting her down? Of course she did, because she knows I’ll do what she wants. Even thought she knows I know that she only said that to get what she wants, she knows that she’ll still get it.”

“OK, Computer. It’s you and me and all of the people. Create new program.”

^Please state program title.^

Reece looked at the list of names again. Some he recognized, some he didn’t. He could only imagine what kind of nuts Zanh Liis would assemble to mingle with her crew.

“How about assorted mixed nuts.”

^Enter parameters.^

“I am! Give me a minute! Are you Bajoran? Ok, computer I need you to access the historical database and create these characters.”

Dabin read the names one by one, and the corresponding characters appeared in a circle around him in the room.

Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist, Earth.

Walt Disney, entertainer, developer and promoter, Earth

Randy Pausch, Professor and Computer Scientist, Earth

William Shakespeare, playwright, Earth

George S. Patton, United States Army General, Earth

Doctor Phil McGraw, psychiatrist and talk show host, Earth

Surak, Father of the logic movement, Vulcan

Pamara Ellavia, philosopher, Trill

Zahi A. Hawass, Ancient Egyptian Archaeologist, Earth

Frank Lloyd Wright, architect, Earth

William Jefferson Clinton, politician, Earth

U2, musical performers, Earth

Lord John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, historian, Earth

Chen Kenichi, Father of Szechuan cooking, Earth

The Jonas Brothers, musical performers, Earth

Dabin looked at the group assembled around him. He approached the man who, by Zanh’s list, was known as Chen Kenichi. The character was still frozen, but Dabin grabbed him by the shoulders and kissed his cheeks.

“I love you, man! So will Rada. I can’t for him to meet you!”

Reece looked at the end of the list, “And anyone else you think would be interesting,” Zanh wrote.

“Christ, I don’t know,” Dabin muttered. As he did, another figure appeared. “What the? Computer identify new character.”

^Jesus Christ, a religious figure for Christians on Earth, whom is believed to be the Son of God.^

“Are you kidding me? I thought that was just something humans said when they were ticked off. Way to respect the son of your God,” Dabin said. “All right, I guess you can stay dude. Let’s see, who else.”

Dabin tapped his forefinger on his inflated cheek, creating a rather rude sound as he did.

“Well I’d like to meet that Galileo guy. I know all about being a persecuted scientist. Hey, wait a second, I think that had something to do with that guy!” Dabin said, pointing to the still frozen Son of God.

The new figure shimmered into place, and Dabin gave his beard a tug.

“I think that’s good. Now, we need a setting. Computer. I need some place with historical significance. Where people can gather for a good time. You know, something cool.”

^Define cool.^

“You know, not boring,” Reece walked up to the figure of Walt Disney. “Something he would have made up.”

^Suggestion, The Adventurer’s Club.^

“Wow thanks, that sounds perfect. Could you give me less details? Better yet, some details?”

^The Adventurer’s Club, set in 1937 Earth, was a public nightclub with the theme of being a private club for explorers and world travelers, who were played by actors in the club. The club had several rooms where various shows took place during the night. Main characters included:

Hathaway Brown: Aviator, and the club's resident innuendo-making ladies' man.

Otis T. Wren: Club Treasurer and ichthyologist.

Fletcher Hodges: Absent-minded Club Curator.

Pamelia Perkins: Club President.

Samantha Sterling: Explorer and cabaret singer.

Emil Bleehall: Contender for the Balderdash Cup. Hails from Sandusky, Ohio.

Graves: Club Butler.

The French Maid...^

“Okay, okay, I got it. Let’s just see the place please.”

The grid disappeared, and Dabin was surrounded by the interior of The Adventurer’s Club. The walls around him were covered with all manner of masks, photos, artifacts and other trinkets one would associated with a world traveler.

The separate rooms provided a certain amount of privacy, so crew members could pass from room to room while talking with each other and their “historical figures.”

The Main Salon was the center of the club, with three rooms branching off of it, and a second story mezzanine above. Off the Main Salon was another large gathering room called The Library, and two small intimate rooms called The Treasure Room, and The Mask Room.

“Which one is this?” Dabin inquired as he stood in front of one of the characters, who was dressed in very little other than a smile.

^The French Maid.^

French Maid? I don’t ever recall seeing Fleur dress like this.”

Time slipped past as he worked fine tuning the details of the program, and before he knew it the sound of the holodeck door opening caught Dabin’s attention. He stepped through the maze of frozen characters to see who had entered.

“Liisy!” Dabin grinned. He hadn’t actually seen her since returning to the ship. “I missed you!”

“I missed you too.”

Dabin couldn’t help himself and bear hugged her. Zanh muttered an oof, and patted his back.

“Yeah, right. Listen, I know you’ve gone through the whole wedding and honeymoon deal, but,” Dabin lowered his voice so as to not be heard by the frozen holograms. “You’re still mine, right?”

Zanh slugged him in the arm.

“How’s it going?” She asked.

“Ok, first of all, ow, and second of all… Uh, well. Um. You tell me.”

“I like what I see. Did you add anyone else?”

“Well, I put Galileo in there, and that Christ dude just showed up uninvited.”

“Wait, whoa. As in Jesus Christ?”

“Yeah, him.”

Zanh looked around until she saw the face, familiar to her from not only due to memories of the past but also her recent visit to the church at Turner’s Cross.

“No, no, no. He has to go. My husband would pass out cold if we were using the Lord and Savior of his religion as a prop on the holodeck at a party.”

“You’re the boss.” Dabin said. He ordered the character deleted, and the hologram disappeared. “Anything else?”

“Yeah, I want to talk to U2 but I want to hear them too. Have the computer add some instruments, in there, on the stage.” Zanh pointed to the elevated stage in the room called The Library.

“What about the Jonas Brothers? Lair Arie is going to want to hear them too. If she’s coming?” Dabin asked, wondering if Liis had any news.

“Yeah, she will, when she gets here. Set them up next to U2. They can fight for stage time.”

Dabin clapped his hands together. “So they’re coming home soon!”

“Soon, Dabin,” Liis reassured him. “We need something more. Games. Scrabble, checkers, decks of cards.”

“Aye aye, Captain!" Dabin bounced up and down happily. "I can’t wait for Kellyn to meet Chen Kenichi!”


Dabin Reece
Chief Science Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

NRPG: Just what I hoped for to set the mood for the party. Thank you Mr. Reece...~ZL

834: Behind Schedule

by TC Blane and Zanh Liis
During and after May We Never Have to Say Goodbye

-=USS Serendipity=-

“I understand your concern, Commander Blane, but like I told you earlier I can't have the crews go any faster then they are.” Lt. Perry lamented. as he wiped sweat away from his brow with a dirty sleeve.

“Your tactical station and security monitors were totally wiped out when the conduit ruptured behind them. We not only have to replace all of the hardware but also the framework that holds them in place.”

TC Blane stood with his arms folded across his chest as he listened intently to Lt. Perry. “Lieutenant the captain will be back on board in a few hours and her bridge looks worse then it did when we arrived.”

The lieutenant nodded his understanding. “Commander, I know we are behind our original repair estimate but the shipyard foreman had no idea just how bad the damage was. Plus, Admiral Lassiter added all of these equipment upgrades to be put in at the last moment which also put us behind.” He sighed when he noticed TC’s less than approving stare.

“I promise you we should be done with the bridge within forty-eight hours. The entire ship should be ready to depart within the week. Any remaining repairs can be handled by your engineering staff.” He offered in hopes of placating TC.

TC rubbed his chin, unimpressed, then sighed. “Well, at least the captain’s ready room and the conference rooms are done.”

Lt. Perry nodded. “Yes.” He looked at Blane. “By the way, if you don’t mind me asking, what was all of those speaker upgrades for in the ready room? I mean six extra high fidelity speakers is not something we see in a ready room. The lounge maybe.”

TC smirked. “You obviously don’t know Zanh Liis.” He turned to sit in the captain’s chair only to find it missing. He turned back to Lt. Perry. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Lt. Perry shrugged. “All part of the upgrades.”

[Transporter room one to Commander Blane.]

“Blane here.”

[Sir you wanted to be notified when Captain Zanh and Commander O’Sullivan were ready to return to the ship. They just signaled.]

“Very well I am on my way, stall them until I get there. Blane out.” He turned to face Perry and pointed to the vacant spot that once was a captain's chair. “Make that a priority.”

“Aye, sir.”

-=Transporter Room One=-

The doors slid open as TC strode into the room.


“I’ve beamed their belongings directly to their quarters and they are standing by for transport.” The transporter chief replied.

TC nodded. “OK Bring them up.”

-=On the planet=-

[I apologize for the delay, Commander O'Sullivan.] Andrew Parrish informed from the ship above. [We're ready for you now.]

The sound of his voice broke the silence between Keiran and Liis as they stood, holding hands and staring at each other intently.

"Are you ready to return to your ship?" Keiran asked gently, reaching out with his free hand and brushing Liis' hair back out of her face as the evening breeze blew it forward. She had chosen to stand, with him, directly beneath the Poplar tree; so she could hear the leaves rustling as the last sound she'd remember of this place for now as the transporter swept her away.

She began to feel a sense of something resembling calm at last, knowing that when she beamed away from this location, this time, that Keiran was going along with her.

"That I am." She smiled softly, looking up at him from beneath the dark fringe of bangs that fell just above her brows.

"Can I...come along?" Keiran teased, winking and nudging her gently with his shoulder to try to break the tension that he sensed in her. The words and accompanying action achieved the desired effect; she laughed, the deep, throaty laugh that he loved so well.

Her smile faded quickly. however, as the rustling of the leaves overtook her senses once again and stirred up so many memories with their whisper. She squeezed his hand so tightly now Keiran was starting to lose feeling in his fingertips.

She wanted so much to stay here in this place with him forever but since she couldn't do that, she was suddenly anxious to take him with her, and leave it.

"It's time. Let's...let's go."

"Aye, Captain." Only after leaning over to steal one last official honeymoon kiss, did he signal that they were ready.

Liis closed her eyes as she focused once more on the swaying cadence of the leaves, but she opened them again; an instant of panic necessitating that she watch Keiran dematerialize as well just to be certain.

A moment later they were standing on the transporter pad aboard the Serendipity, and he was still holding her hand.

She was so happy that she couldn't help but throw her arms around him and squeeze him tightly, unaware of anyone else in the room and much to the dismay of poor Crewman Parrish at the controls.

As the sound of someone clearing their throat became apparent, Liis turned her head in the direction of the voice and greeted her friend and Second Officer.

"Good evening, Mister Blane."

TC nodded, just the slightest hint of a smile turning one corner of his top lip. "Indeed. Welcome home, Captain. Commander."

"Thank ya Thomas." Keiran released Liis and the pair stepped down, extending his hand toward Blane.

He didn't know what he'd said or done for Liis during their time together the other day, and he didn't mean to pry to try to find out. But he did intend to buy the man the drink of his choosing, at the very first opportunity to thank him for whatever it had been. "Good to see ya."


"How's our baby?" Liis accepted the PADD that Blane held out toward her and began scrolling through the repair updates as they meandered out into the hall. With words slowly drawn out by distraction as she read, Zanh absent-mindedly thanked Parrish for the transport. As they kept walking, she frowned.

"Wait a minute. What's wrong with this picture?" She noticed Keiran's expression of concern and handed him the PADD.

"Behind schedule?" Keiran frowned as well. "They were ahead'a schedule three days ago."

"That was before the Admiral handed us a three page list of last minute changes and upgrades."

"Gem's throwin' her weight around." Keiran sighed. "As tiny a thing as the woman is, she's stubborn, make no mistake. She wants what she wants, when she wants it."

"Yeah and apparently what she wanted to was to ensure we spent a few more days tethered to spacedock." Liis replied, nodding in response to the 'welcome home' greetings of members of crew they passed along the way.

"Well, look at it this way," Blane offered. "A few more days with lots of downtime...wouldn't be the worst thing for the two of you would it?"

Keiran and Liis looked at each other as if the thought had never occurred to them.

"Genius. The man's a genius, I tell you." Liis declared.

"'Course he is. When it comes to puttin' the right people in charge and makin' the tough decisions and astute observations, Zanh Liis is no fool. She knows the right man for the right job. Isn't that so Thomas?" Keiran added.

"If Zanh Liis says I'm a genius, who am I to argue?" Blane concurred, a gleam in his eyes.

"Right man for the right job...and that reminds me. I put Reece on a little project, a party to celebrate Zander's release from Sickbay." Zanh said thoughtfully. "And for once, I hope he went completely overboard. Keiran, would you mind, if I swung by the holodeck for just a little while and then joined you? Check on his progress?"

"Grand." Keiran said, actually glad for the chance to inspect their new quarters one last time himself before Liis saw them. He wanted to be sure that every blanket and every pillow was in perfect order, and that towels were waiting for her in the new master bathroom of the loft he'd designed, just for her.

"See you soon." Liis smiled at him.

"Oh go ahead, you know you want to." Blane teased them, in the way that only he could.

He slowly rolled his eyes up toward the ceiling and whistled a few bars of When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, causing both Keiran and Liis to laugh to the point they could barely manage the kiss.

Somehow they did manage, and she gave Keiran a quick hug as well in the otherwise deserted corridor. Keiran's cheeks actually reddened.

"An'a'thin' else I should know before I leave you for now?" Liis asked TC, purposely spinning the first word.

"Yeah, do us a favor," he asked. "Stay away from the bridge until tomorrow if at all possible."

"Why would I..."

"Just, trust me. It's...better if you... don't...see." Blane insisted.

"O...kay. Will do my best then to avoid it. Carry on, gentlemen. Carry on." Liis turned and headed for the turbolift at the opposite end of the corridor.

Once she was gone, Keiran slapped a hand onto Blane's shoulder. "So, how'd the movin' project go? Does Cristiane live, or does he die?"

"He lives," Blane shook his head, thinking of the sound that the metal crossbars made when they impacted upon Dane's face. "...but only just barely."

Commander TC Blane
Second Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


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

833: To Thine Own Self

by Commander Salvek
Days Ago: One Day After The Summit


Ensign Sten stood coldly and dispassionately looking out over the Fire Plains of Raal, with Lair Arie at his side. They had been here the last six hours, just looking, and appreciating aesthetics of the natural features. Arie was seriously beginning to wonder if Sten were really that interested in the Fire Plains, or if he were just stalling for time.

She had noted that almost a day before, he had taken a brief call, and Arie wondered if it was her parents. Sten had refused to say, which as Arie understood from her experience with adults, always meant yes.

She was eager to leave this place, not because she was bored, (boredom was after all an emotion), but because she was hoping for news of her parents.

As historically significant as the places Sten had taken her to see on Vulcan were, they in no way helped Arie understand why she was here. She was supposed to be here, she knew that much. Arie was so sure her presence was required her for her father’s sake, that she had all but refused to allow Kellyn to leave her on the ship.


Sten instinctively spun around, placing himself between Arie and the approaching stranger. As soon as he recognized the newcomer however, Sten realized there was no cause for alarm. He stepped back to the side to allow The Master, V’Drea to approach Lair Arie.

“My father?” She asked, knowing immediately that the man before her was one of the priests from Mount Seleya.

“Your intuitive skills are sharp Lair Arie. I am impressed.”

“It is only logical that, based upon your manner of dress, and the fact you approached us of all the people visiting the Fire Plains today, that you must be one of the priests who is helping my father.” Arie’s tone was completely matter-of-fact.

V’Drea nodded to Sten, who stepped away several meters to allow Arie and V’Drea to talk in private.

“We were able to purge the Romulan’s presence from your father’s katra. It was, truthfully, your mother that helped to rescue him. He loves her deeply, so much so that logic alone could not have saved him. Only their combined strength could. We merely brought them together to help them realize that apart, they would both fail.”

“Then it is time to depart. Perhaps mother was right. I should have stayed on the ship.”

V’Drea ignored her comment. “Will you walk with me Arie?” He asked. She bowed respectfully, and followed his lead, as Sten fell into step far enough behind to see Arie, but not hear their conversation.

“My name is V’Drea. I expect your parents will be along shortly to bring you back to Earth. I wished to speak with you in private before they arrived.”

“I am listening,” Arie answered.

“These are changing times for Vulcan, and our philosophies. When were alone, and isolated, everyone simply followed the rule of logic and there was very little discussion otherwise.”

Arie could already see where the discussion was headed.

“As the Federation grows, and more and more of our people join Starfleet, the number of Vulcans taking alien mates continues to grow. Obviously, none of them are quite like us. Humans, Bajorans, Klingons, Andorians, they all express their emotions without reservation.”

“And when they have children, the question of bringing them up strictly Vulcan is raised.” Arie summed up V’Drea’s thought.

“Correct. Have you decided if you complete the Kolinahr?”

Arie suddenly felt very self-conscious.

The answer should have been an immediate and resounding yes. She would reject the emotions of her Bajoran half, and embrace a fully Vulcan life.

However she simply had not decided. The disciplines her father had taught her came naturally, and felt right. Yet, at the same time, learning about the Bajoran culture and the Prophets felt natural to her as well.

“I… I simply do not know yet, sir.”

“A logical answer.”

Arie had braced herself for a lecture. She had expected this day to come where she would be confronted about which path to chose. V’Drea’s response took her completely by surprise however.

“But, should I not already have chosen the path to logic? Is that not what you would wish?”

“It is what I would recommend Arie, but the spirit of two worlds runs in your veins. We have come to learn that when half Vulcan children attempt to fully embrace one life, or another, they often end up living no life at all.”

V’Drea paused and turned towards Arie. Far behind Sten stopped as well, watching from afar as the conversation continued.

“Your parents are intelligent and wise. Use what they teach you, but always remember to be true to yourself.”

Arie attempted to process his words, but the sight of her mother and father approaching caught her eye. Relief came over her, as she saw her father’s hand tightly holding her mother’s.

“Are we interrupting, Master V’Drea?” Salvek asked, not wishing to intrude on a private session between the Master and Arie.

“I believe you can handle it from here, Salvek.” V’Drea stepped aside, inclining his head respectfully to Salvek, then once again to Lair Kellyn.

As V’Drea took his leave, Arie’s frustration was evident on her face.

“What is the matter, Arie?” Salvek asked.

“I believed my path would become evident here; that I was meant to come to Vulcan with you now, during this time of crisis, to learn about myself. But I am even more confused now then before. What am I meant to be father? Mother?”

“Arie,” Kellyn began, “You are so intelligent, it scares me to death sometimes. But you are also still so young. Too young to have already decided what the rest of your life will be.”

“You are our daughter Arie,” Salvek continued, “As you have learned from Zanh Liis. Perhaps the reason you needed to come to Vulcan was not to find a path, but rather to understand that your path is still open to your choosing. My own heart is of Vulcan and Bajor both. I cannot deny that, nor do I wish to. Yours is as well.”

“But how will I choose? How will I know what is right for me, and why I was meant to be raised here and now, by you?”

Kellyn could feel the turmoil in Arie, that she should embrace her father’s way of life and her mother’s but really belong to neither.

“You must choose for yourself. We can only offer you our wisdom and hope you use it to your own advantage.”

Salvek placed his hand on her shoulder. “You may embrace the Kolinahr, or you may walk with the Prophets. Perhaps you will do neither. Your whole future is ahead of you. Do not concern yourself with why you were brought here, or what you are meant to do.”

“But I wish to follow in your footsteps,” Arie said, addressing both of her parents.

“You might feel that way now, but your desires may change as you grow older. Promise us both you won’t continue our work just because you believe it is what we want you to do,” Kellyn requested. The last thing she wished for Arie to feel she was tied down from following her dreams because she was obligating to continue her father and mother’s research.

“I promise,” Arie said slowly.

“Perhaps there was a time I would have expected that of you,” Salvek said. “A purely Vulcan child would have been expected to take up her father’s work. But you are Lair Arie, the daughter of my wife, and there is no other child I would rather have to call my own.”

Salvek continued speaking, as he began walking her towards the transporter hub they had arrived at.

“When we return to the ship, I will attend Vedek Jariel’s classes with your mother and yourself. That is of course, only if you wish to attend them as well. I also want you to spend more time with the non-Bajoran and Vulcan members of the crew, so you can be exposed to everyone’s point of view.”

Kellyn and Salvek each took Arie by a hand, with Ensign Sten in tow, as they made their way back to the Alchemy. Arie was still full of so many questions, which they could only assure her would be answered in time.

A grinning Ashton Ledbetter greeted them on the bridge.

“Welcome back, I hope you all enjoyed Vulcan as much as I did.”

“Right,” Kellyn said. She found his jovial demeanor rather unusual and somewhat disturbing. “I think we are all ready to go home.”

“So you know who is definitely taken care of?” Ledbetter winked, not wishing to mention Taris in front of Salvek or Arie, even though they both knew what he meant.

“Indeed, she is.” Salvek said firmly.

“Pity. I could have stayed here forever.” Ledbetter said. “Very well then. Ensign Lassiter, at your earliest convenience, bring us back to the Earth.

Commander Salvek
First Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

832: The General Feel of Green

by William Lindsay and Dane Cristiane
Concurrent with Cafe Chatter

-=USS Serendipity=-

Dane wasn’t wasting a second as he charged through the corridors of the Sera. Captain William Lindsay had requested his presence within a time window which seemed to be closing faster than the accepted rules of temporal mechanics would allow.

Not too long ago Dane would simply have decided that a deadline like this was to be taken as a suggestion; that if the person who made it had made it too short then it was their own damn fault if he was late.

Recent events, namely his experience with the paradox and especially his time on Bajor, had changed that perspective.

Though he was still fairly peeved at having his poker game interrupted, even if it did get him away from Landry Steel, he realised he had no time to brood right now. Lindsay wasn’t just part of TI, for the moment he was TI and Dane knew he could kiss his chances of one day becoming a full agent goodbye if he did anything to get on his bad side.

Showing up on time was not an easy task. Though the ship was virtually deserted it seemed that all the remaining crew had decided to take a very slow stroll through the halls and none of them would willingly move out of his way quickly enough. At first he’d been polite about it and tried to just step around them but as the minutes had turned to seconds he’d taken to dodging them and then yelling what barely qualified as an apology over his shoulder. There were thirty seconds left before the three minutes Lindsay had initially given him were up as he rounded the corner and barely missed the dazed crewman standing there. Dane spun around and through the door into the transporter room.

“Energize,” he said as he ran onto the platform. He took the chance to catch his breath, deeply in and exhaling. Three breaths later he realised he realised he hadn’t gone anywhere as Crewman Parrish cleared his throat.

“To where, Sir?” Parrish meekly asked.

“To Captain Lindsay’s location,” Dane said with exasperation. “He said you’d have the coordinates.”

Parrish seemingly very slowly pressed some buttons and looked down at his panel. He found the selected information and contently replied, “Yes, here they are.”

It’d been a second and Parrish hadn’t done anything so Dane snapped, sounding much ruder than he’d intended “Then energize!”

In an instant which felt like an eternity he was rematerialized on the Earth. He didn’t allow himself time to take in his surroundings as he set his mind to scan solely for TI directors. There were none in front of him so he turned a full 180 around and found himself mere centimetres from the face of one William Lindsay.

By reflex he quickly stepped, almost jumped, back away to a more socially acceptable distance.

Lindsay didn’t even seem to have registered Dane’s appearance. Will was staring vacantly though him with a face that was almost vicious in its lack of emotion. He was clothed in full dress uniform, standing with perfect posture and hands locked behind his back. There was a tone of seriousness in his eyes and a PADD tucked under his arm. There was something of a military bearing about him and Dane didn’t understand what was going on.

“Sir, I…” Dane began and seemingly without provocation Lindsay interrupted with a tone somewhere between formally polite and barking an order at him.

“Ensign Dane Marion Cristiane you are hereby requested and required under the direct authority of the Interim director of the Department of Temporal Investigations to oversee an emergency delivery of vital cargo of Vegrandis Caledonia Mulier to a localised non-terrestrial location.”

Lindsay yanked the PADD out from his arm and slapped it down into Dane's hand then returned to his initial position. "You are not to reveal the details of your potentially life threatening mission to anyone and will face severe penalties if you do so."

Lindsay continued while Dane began to look through the PADD.

"All there is, is a location and a time, sir."

Lindsay blinked at him as if the rest should be obvious.

"I'm to...be at this location at the appointed time to pick up the item?"

"Very astute. Tell me, Cristiane, has someone aboard the Sera been tutoring you in the fine art of stating the obvious?" Lindsay did not appear to blink, or even breathe. He simply glared.

"Well, I,"

"I shall have to have a talk with O'Sullivan about you." Lindsay warned menacingly, expelling a short burst of air from his lungs in the form of an irritated sigh.

"Captain O'Sullivan is the finest-"

"Captain?" Lindsay laughed once. "Captain O'Sullivan still, is it boy?" Lindsay raised an eyebrow. "Stating the obvious with a minor in boot-polishin'. You keep this up and yer goin' ta go far."

Now Dane was really confused and what was more, growing rapidly distraught. "Sir, I don't,"

"No. Of course you don't. But you will." Lindsay spun and turned away. "Be at the appointed location on time. Not too early, and for the love of all that is good and holy, not late. Remember, speak of this to no one."

"But Sir, how am I to beam from the ship again without authorization of the Captain?" Dane was worried, thinking of how any sneaking around on his part without taking his CO into his confidence would directly result in her thinking he was returning to the dark path he'd only recently repented from. He didn't want to screw up his chances of making it at TI, but his loyalty to Zanh, and even more so to O'Sullivan, ran too deep to override.

"You leave Zanh Liis to me. No one else needs to know." Lindsay replied quickly.

"So you will tell her that,"

"I will tell her what she needs to know and no more. Don't worry, Ensign. I am not Jonas Vox. Like you I have the O'Sullivans' best interest at heart. Trust me."

Dane cringed involuntarily. The fastest way to make him distrust someone was if they asked, outright, for him to trust them.

"Remember. Not a word to anyone."

"Aye Sir." Dane turned, bewildered.

"Wait," Lindsay called. "The PADD. Give that here." He held his hands up and gestured for Dane to toss it to him.

Dane tossed it up but instead of catching it, Lindsay drew his phaser and summarily blew it to bits.

Dane jumped, heart pounding, unprepared for the sudden weapons fire. "Did you...really have to do that?" He blurted, his hand moving instinctually to his chest to try to still his racing heartbeats.

"Aye." Lindsay replied succinctly. "I did. After you have the item in hand I will contact you."

"How will you know when I have it Sir?"

"I know everything." Lindsay widened his eyes, and then touched his badge. "Lindsay to Vanguard, One to beam up."

As Lindsay dematerialised it occurred to Dane that he still really had no idea what his mission was. He finally had the chance to take in his location and quickly scanned his surroundings for some clue as to why Lindsay chose to meet him here and to what this was all about. He saw a lot of green. He was standing in a green field surrounded by green trees with just the general feel of green as far as the eye could see. All he was able to conclude from this was that he wasn’t able to conclude anything from it.

For several seconds he simply stood thinking and allowing his heart rate slow, unsure of really what he was supposed to do now. The confusion was overtaken by a warm calm as it occurred to him exactly what he should do; he smiled. He’d just been given his first official TI mission and that was definitely something worth smiling about.

He beamed back up the Sera with what Crewman Parrish noted was a much more relaxed demeanour that when he’d left. Rather than return to the Poker game he decided his first stop would be his quarters. He’d been blessed with a photographic memory and so wouldn’t forget what little information he had so far. He didn’t have to leave tonight and so intended to spend the rest of it ensuring he was prepared with every available piece of information about where he was going.

The importance of preparation was something O’Sullivan had taught him and Dane had the feeling that he’d be using a lot of Keiran’s lessons in whatever it was that he was about to do. He remembered Lindsay’s description of this as a potentially life threatening mission and felt proud as he realised that whatever it was it had to be important.

He didn’t want to use the ship’s computer for his research because his actions left far too many fingerprints and he didn’t doubt for a second that there were still people around who would be suspicious enough to keep track of what he was doing. He knew a few methods of covering his tracks but he wasn’t about to risk them on this because he'd learnt to work on the assumption that there was always someone around smarter than him and so someone smart enough to uncover them.

He knew O’Sullivan considered Lindsay a friend and so even if he did seem slightly insane Dane would trust him when he told him not to tell anyone about this, at least for now. He swore to himself though that if anyone above the rank of Lieutenant Commander asked him any direct question he would not lie to them for Lindsay’s sake.

All he’d been given was a set of coordinates so he decided a map of the Earth was as good a place to start as any and as luck would have it he did have one stored on a personal PADD. They corresponded to a rural area in the north end of Scotland. The map went into a reasonable amount of detail including a satellite view; this was open farm land with only a few insignificant buildings or at least had been at the time the map was made. He couldn’t see anything of any consequence but felt like he was looking at his destiny down there.


Captain William Lindsay
Interim Director
Temporal Investigations


Ensign Dane Cristiane
Clueless TI Intern
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

831: Snap and Boing

by Lara Valera Ryn and February Grace
Following Just a Coffee

-=Deck Six, USS Serendipity=-

Lara Valera Ryn walked up the corridor and, hearing music coming from Reece's lab, knew better than to even bother trying to get his attention before entering.

She stepped through the unlocked doors, bracing for the impact of sound as she was certain that he'd crank up the volume once he saw her just to make the point he could do it because he was, as he liked to refer to himself, the 'top taco' in Science aboard ship.

But instead, she found that the music was actually getting quieter- and it consisted of the strains of the strings of only a singular instrument.

She looked over the room, up at the inexplicably hung strands of colored Christmas lights that adorned the ceiling and gave the room an almost carnival like atmosphere that, the more she thought about it, suited Reece to a T.

"Commander Reece?" She called hesitatingly, not entirely certain she really wanted to find him. Still, she had a report she had to turn in, and he was the one she was expected to give it to.

"He's not here," a voice called from across the room. Lara looked beyond the Ping Pong table (which somehow she had missed noticing the first time she'd been here) and the bean bag chairs and finally discovered the source of the music.

There was a woman in bubblegum pink civilian clothing sitting in a chair in the far corner by the viewport. She was holding a guitar that said Fender on it and strumming it skillfully. "He had an errand to run. But he'll be back soon. You're welcome to wait for him if you like."

Lara observed that the woman seemed to be having a hard time holding onto the guitar. It kept moving as if under it's own power as she tried to play it. The woman complained, stopping to tap her stomach in protest. "So you don't want to hear that song. Fine, I'll play another one."

Upon closer inspection Lara discovered that the woman waiting here must be Reece's wife, February Grace, and the reason she was having trouble holding the guitar was that her unborn child seemed to be trying to kick it off of her lap.

"Everybody's a critic." Bru smiled gently as she looked up at last to properly greet the newcomer. "I'm February. I don't believe we've met."

"Lara Valera Ryn," Lara said, nodding.

"You're the new scientist?" Bru said, adding aloud before she could stop herself, a slightly concerned sounding, "you're cute."

After the day Lara had had - from the bridge to the cafe - she just decided to go with the flow. "Blondes do have more fun." She used one of her hands to toss her hair back coquettishly.

"You're telling me. Of course Deveral had the most 'fun' of all my past hosts and he had dark hair. Jevin was completely bald and never had any fun whatsoever. So there you go." Bru replied in a light and fun tone. But the truth was she'd been thinking a lot about Deveral lately- hence why she was now sitting in Dabin's lab, waiting for him to come back so she could talk to him, and playing Deveral's favorite guitar in the meantime.

Lara tried not to grimace as the other woman mentioned her previous hosts. She really was not trying to take out her own personal anger on the other Trills around her. It wasn't going to be their fault when the Trill government got around to blowing a gasket.

Trying to find a more pleasant topic - and quickly - Lara looked around the room before returning her attention February. "Did he say when he was coming back? I wanted to drop off a report."

"Dabin? No, he," Bru started, but then stopped. Her attention was drawn toward the bump she was carrying. "Yes, little one, daddy." She giggled softly, girlishly.

"So, if you don't mind me asking, then why are you here?" Lara was not trying to offend February; she really did not care that Bru was in the science department and in her own husband's lab. She doubted that Bru would have ever questioned her being on the bridge. She was simply making polite conversation.

"I have been given a task," she replied with gusto. "To redecorate Sickbay."

Lara cocked an eyebrow. "I think you're on the wrong deck."

"No, no, I know." February gave up trying to win the battle for control of the guitar as it continued to move about as if possessed by an alien lifeform of one sort or another and finally she set the instrument aside. "I'm a flight controller by commission. Even if I don't know much else most of the time I usually know where I'm going."

There was an awkward pause for a moment, neither woman knowing exactly where to go from there.

Eventually February ended the silence. "So..." She wasn't certain quite how to break the ice with Ryn, but the science officer seemed at least mildly interested in continuing the conversation and as tightly locked up in quarters as Bru had been lately she decided she'd like to try to prolong the interaction as long as possible. "You've already met Dabin..."

"Yes..." Ryn drew the normally short word out slowly, in the way that Bru was used to hearing people do when they talked about having met her husband. "I did."

"Have you met many others of the senior staff yet?"

"Not really." Lara answered, somewhat bewildered by the fact. "I've met the Counselor..."

"Oh, I just love Vol. He's one of a kind."

"So it would appear..." Ryn commented, thinking of Vol's bat-like pose the moment she met him. "I haven't seen the XO anywhere, the Second Officer has been busy all the time, the Captain just got back."

"Ooo. The Captain." February suddenly picked up the guitar again and her fingers began flying nervously up and down the neck as she played a rapid series of notes. "Good luck with that."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I'll tell you this. My husband has known Zanh Liis a long time. Commander Salvek has known her even longer. But personally..." February finished her riff and ran her hand quickly up the neck of the guitar again, making a rapidly rising in pitch twang sound with a flourish. "She scares me."

Lara laughed softly. "She's a Starfleet Captain. She's supposed to be one of the good guys."

February nodded in agreement; she had known of many times when the bad guys had got their comeuppance because of Zanh Liis. Still, she would never want that turned against her. Not that there had ever been reason, but still...

"So," Lara continued, "unless the Captain plans to A) spit a poison dart at me, B) use me as a target for slingshot practice, C) place a powerful curse over me, or D) threaten to roast me alive over a bonfire, I think I can survive anything she can throw at me."

February's eyes had grown a little wider with each option Lara had mentioned. There was something in the tone of the other woman's voice that suggested that she was not making these options up, that someone really had tried to do each of these things to her. Still, she could not help but ask, "Are you serious?"

"You need to get off the ship more often," came the half joking, half cryptic response.

"I'm happy just to get out of my quarters these days!" Bru exclaimed. "But we're counting down the days. Soon I'll be back on the bridge and rarin' to go. Of course, after oh two hundred baby feedings I might not be so much 'raring' as half asleep at the helm."

"Well from the sound of it if you did doze off at the CONN, Zanh Liis would simply wind up for the pitch and begin hurling ever larger objects at you until you returned to consciousness."

"Or lost it completely and slumped to the floor. Then she'd just step over my lifeless body and holler 'Next!'" Both laughed, it becoming apparent now just how much Grace was exaggerating. "Of course, she just got married and so hopefully she'll be in a better mood from here on out. That reminds me," Bru's thoughts immediately came to another when the subject of Zanh's personal life surfaced. "Have you met our Vedek?"

"We have a Vedek? Is it just the one or does everybody aboard ship get one issued to them after boarding and I somehow missed the queue?"

"Just the one, but he's so sweet, he is the only one we need. He's ship's chaplain by title, but don't let that put you off if you're not a particularly religious sort of person. I mean, I don't know if you are, but I'm not. Anyway." Bru began fiddling with the guitar, trying and trying again, with increasing irritation to bring the top string into tune. Finally, she cranked the pin too hard, wound the string too tightly and there was a very loud, musically metallic snap and boing. She frowned. "Damn. Now I have to restring. Not cool."

"My sympathies..."

"As I was saying, the Vedek is a very good listener. And all of us...any of us...can use a good listener at times."

"Thanks," Lara shifted uneasily now, and decided that it best she just leave her report and go on her way. It seemed that this February Grace had a sense about people that, while not as keenly accurate as that of the espresso-making Betazoid, was hitting a little close to the mark for Lara's continued comfort.

"Well, I have to get back to work. I'll just leave this for Commander Reece and he can hail me with any questions."

"Cool. I'll let him know you came by. It was nice to meet you. I hope we can talk again sometime."

LT. Lara Valera Ryn
Science Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


LT. February Grace
Senior Flight Controller
USS Serendipity NCC-2012