860: In Sixty Seconds: Two

by Michael Blakeney and Gemini Lassiter
…continued from part one…

-=Flashback, continued=-

With none wishing to stay there he was free, and could see the security detail surround the leader of the Talarian delegation, and attempt to escort him and his entourage safely from the room.

Regardless of the congestion and the distractions, his trained eye was immediately locked straight on the line of fire. He drew his weapon and followed it back to the shooter, who it appeared was dressed as one of the waiters.

A bit obvious, he thought, and a bit careless of the would-be assassin to stand in plain sight firing like that. Still, this wasn’t the time to be thinking; now there was fun to be had.

He saw ‘Jade’ with her weapon drawn, his target not for work but for play. He smiled and was soon by her side and they both fired rapidly in changing directions, as the spray of weapons discharge seemed to be coming now from multiple angles instead of just one.

“What the hell happened?” Michael shouted to the shaking ambassador, ignoring ‘Jade’ for now as if he’d joined her for no reason of all.

“I don’t know, they came from nowhere!” Braylan called back, quite sobered all of a sudden.

“I wish they’d go back there!” ‘Jade’ shouted, and with a cry of frustration she fired her weapon again in a revolving pattern. With her accuracy, and the mysterious dancing man in the tuxedo’s as well, after a moment the assailants slumped to the ballroom floor, dead.

A brief smile crossed his face before he turned to his second target. “Are you all right?” Michael asked her, and ‘Jade’ dismissively waved him off.

“Forget me. The Ambassador.” She looked Braylan over and was relieved to find he’d only been grazed by a shot, showing the beam of the phaser had glanced his temple as she’d thrown him to the ground. “Sir, are you all right?” She asked Braylan, as she attempted to help him to his feet. Blakeney stepped in and assisted, purely in the interests of being a gentleman, of course.

Seeing an opportunity here, Michael swept his hand up toward ‘Jade’s’ face, not quite touching her cheek, but bumping his fingertips against her ear.

One nearly imperceptible move later, he had the wire she was wearing in his possession, and she didn’t even realize it.

He waited until she automatically pulled away from his grasp, and dropped the earring surreptitiously to the ground. With one step forward he ground it into the grand marble floor, and the device instantly ceased transmitting.

“Who the hell are you?” She demanded angrily. He merely grinned at her.

“Michael Blakeney,” he said, offering his hand. “Starfleet. As are you.”

“That’s a bit of a broad brush to paint with, ‘Starfleet’.” She frowned, choosing to ignore the offered hand for now. “Could you be a bit more specific please?”

“All right.” Blakeney held his finger up in a gesture telling her to wait until they’d handed Braylan off to a detail of uniformed security guards to be taken to safety.

He knew they’d have to make statements describing what had happened, so they’d be going nowhere for a while. He took in the room, and the aftermath, hoping his heart rate wouldn’t go down for a while following all the excitement.

This is what he lived for.

No one wanted to stay in here given the state of the place, so it wasn’t long before they were alone. He looked at her, now quite sure of whom she was, and gestured for her to follow him over toward another large and leafy potted plant.

“Lt. Commander Michael Blakeney,” He said, extending his hand to her and bowing gallantly. “Temporal Investigations.”

“Like hell you are,” Gem scoffed, never one to let the wool be pulled over her eyes. “I’ve never heard of you or seen you in my life, and I know everyone.”

”Do you?” Blakeney seemed truly amused by this, though he knew she had perfectly good reasons to doubt him. “Know everything and everyone,” he paused for effect, and then leaned in close. His breath was warm against her skin as he whispered into her ear. “Gem Lassiter?”

Her lips parted in surprise, but she managed to remain silent as she considered what, if anything, she should say in reply to the man who obviously had her at a great disadvantage.

One thing was for sure, she didn’t trust him, and how quickly she stepped back away for him made this very clear. She didn’t go far, just made sure she was out of reach.

“How do…” she started but realising she already knew the answer that he’d give she stopped herself. She angrily huffed, turned her eyes from him, and then back to him again. “If you’re a fellow agent,” she stressed that she wasn’t going to be convinced of that simply because he knew her name, “then why wasn’t I briefed on you being here?”

It was of course a trick question, she knew there could be other agents working the room that she’d not been told about, and it was one that Michael quite easily knew the answer to. Ever since its inception, there’d been one phrase uttered more in the halls of Temporal Investigation than any other, and he invoked it now as his easy reply.

“Need to know.”

It was exactly what he should have said, but she was still sceptical. Something felt wrong about him. Her careful study was quite a contrast to his relaxed, though professional, manner. It was very frustrating, but she couldn’t pin point it.

“I’ll need to see your credentials,” she demanded, not quite ready to give it up yet.

Michael was happy to oblige, removing a small PADD from his pocket, they were valid credentials, and hadn’t been hard to get hold of. Gem examined it, and it appeared genuine, so she knew unfortunately that she’d have to accept them. “These appear to be in order,” she reluctantly admitted, still studying his face out of what she convinced herself was doubt of his true intentions.

It didn’t make sense, Temporal Investigations was still a small organisation and all agents came to know each other. Besides, she knew better than anyone all the hard work and discipline it took to succeed in the department and one look at this man told her that neither hard work nor discipline were exactly his strong suits.

Michael didn’t miss her doubt, but he chose to ignore it. His mission was complete and so it was time to play.

“Naturally,” he replied as he returned the PADD to his pocket. He feigned a serious tone, suggesting, “But your credentials still need to be discussed. Might I suggest we do so over dinner?”

Now she knew he couldn’t be an agent. She also knew that events were being monitored by a device in her earring and so everything he was saying to her should also be being said to people with the ability to disprove it.

She didn’t realise, of course, that Michael had taken precautions for that fact.

She reached up to feel for the device, to try to determine if those on the other end were still receiving, but all she found was the bare skin of her earlobe on the side where her earring had been.


“Have you lost something?” Michael inquired as she began a visual inspection of the floor around them. “I think you left your shoes back there a ways…”

“I’m not looking for my shoes, I lost an earring.”

“Did you?” He asked innocently, as he casually lifted the sole of one of his shining black wing-tips from the ground and kicked the earring, still trapped beneath, behind the large planter beside them.

“It must have come off during all the commotion.” Gem muttered. “I have to find it.”

“That important is it? Heirloom perhaps?”

“Something like that.” Gem turned and, looking down at the floor again, found the item that she sought.

The remnants of it, anyway.

Unsure what she should do now, she tucked the pieces into the small handbag that had been dangling from a strap on her wrist all night, and surveyed her options.

Whoever this guy was, until she was entirely certain that he wasn’t in some criminal way tied to the attempt on Braylan’s life, she had better not let him out of her sight.

She looked up and realized that he’d disappeared. She began to panic, but to her surprise her reaction was more than the strictly professional fear that she may have lost her target.

It was only after he reappeared a moment later, holding her discarded high heels in his hands, that she realized that she’d worried, just for an instant, that he might vanish as mysteriously as he’d appeared and she would never see him again, or find out where he’d really come from.

“So then. Won’t you reconsider joining me for dinner? Work here seems to be finished.”

My work is just beginning, Gem thought. As she looked him up and down once more she concluded what she’d already suspected that he was not the type of man to whom dinner simply meant dinner.

After the start of her night spent with the ambassador she was not keen on the idea of spending the remainder of it with a man with similar ideas and faster hands. He may have been younger and with a charming smile, but Gemini Lassiter had never put much stock in that type of thing.

Being wined and dined was not part of her training and she felt a complete waste of her time and skill. She’d never really seen the point of it, spending all that energy on getting dressed up and preparing just to be stuck in a busy restaurant and eat the same food the replicator could have made her at home. Many craved the excitement of the atmosphere, but she was not one of them.

Yet at the moment it was her job, so it was something she had to do. She told herself she’d just have to get on with, needing much less convincing than she was used to. This Blakeney held no more significance than any other target, and she’d been in this position before, so was confused as how she couldn’t immediately find the words to respond.

She’d hesitated and that was enough. All the confidence dropped from his face. He fixed his jacket, suddenly feeling uncomfortable, and his smile had soon gone.

Michael Blakeney was not a man used to feeling rejection and he didn’t like it one bit. What was worse was that she’d hesitated, like she didn’t want to offend him with the truth. He dismissed her from his mind immediately. There were plenty of other women in this city who’d be happy to join him and he’d have more fun seeking them out than he could have here.

“You know what? Forget it,” he said more defensively than intended. “If you’re not interested then that’s fine with me.”

Gem was confused because this feeling was so unexpected. Though rarely lost for words, she said nothing as he turned away. The way he walked from her was different than before, his steps less smooth and each more deliberate.

Watching him step outside, using his credentials to get past the security, Gem suddenly felt very stupid. She couldn’t afford to let him simply walk away before she knew why he’d been here, so she decided that she’d have to follow.

As she emerged from the back exit of the building, not the type where dignitaries would go, the world seemed to change in an instant.

This was the alley behind the building where the cold blowing wind drained her of any heat the warmth inside had bestowed. The outdoor temperature had been comfortable earlier on, but the rain had brought cold and was unlikely to take it away again nearly as quickly.

With the door’s rapid close it was suddenly dark. The single light overhead was insufficient to let her eyes reach into the distance. Immaculate floors were replaced by concrete wet from recent precipitation as the inside’s ever-present murmurs were muffled into silence.

She brought her arms in tight around her chest to try to make some shielding against the wind’s whipping lashes. She slipped back into her shoes, as uncomfortable as they were, hoping they’d provide some elevation above the water. As she stepped from the light her eyes began to adjust and she could make out his figure in the distance.

He was standing with his back to her and couldn’t hear her far off footsteps approaching. She yelled to him, but it was too late as he dematerialised before he’d had a chance to hear it.

She quickly, almost desperately, fumbled through her handbag for the tool she needed. She brought the scanner, TI tech, to the exact spot he’d been in order to trace the path of the transporter. She shook her head then shook the scanner, there was clearly something wrong with these readings.

She adjusted the settings but the readings were the same, they claimed no one had transported from this area in hours.

Gemini Lassiter
Director, The Alchemy Project
And former TI Agent


Lt. Commander Michael Blakeney

859: In Sixty Seconds: One

by Michael Blakeney and Gemini Lassiter
Soundtrack: Moonlight Serenade, (John Williams and the Boston Pops)
Following No Time to Lose

-=Office of the Director of The Alchemy Project, Starfleet Command, Earth=-

“Computer.” Lassiter whispered hoarsely as she began on her third glass of Macallan. “Search database for audio file.”


“Search for an audio file entitled Moonlight Serenade.”

^The main database contains two hundred and forty two files bearing the title Moonlight Serenade. ^

“Of course it does.” Gem threw back her head and took in another swig of Scotch as if the practice was going out of style. “Glenn Miller. Begin playback and continue until notified.”

The computer beeped, and the first notes of the song began to reverberate through the room.

This wasn’t, however, the arrangement she wanted.

It wasn’t the arrangement she remembered.

“No, no, no. Computer, cease playback. Find a classical arrangement of the same song. Fully orchestrated.”

The computer chirped and began playing another version of her selection, and Gem nodded.

For a moment, she closed her eyes.

This was the song that she remembered.

She paced back and forth before the window, watching as the moon continued its solitary ascent.

It was a full moon tonight, she observed.

Its glowing, almost surreal image against the deep, consuming darkness of the midnight sky seemed to put the comparatively thin, wispy strands of light emitted by nearby stars to shame.

Glaring, Gem thought. Outshining all around him.

Yes, tonight she was convinced that while many referred to the moon as being female in gender, that this moon, so bold, and proud and beaming in its majesty, had to be of a more masculine bent.

Blinding in its brilliance, she thought. Just like Michael had been.

-=Flashback, continued- current timeline 2357: A grand ballroom, on Earth=-

All night long, he’d been purposely nursing the same glass of champagne. Through cocktail hour and appetizers, through dinner and finally now, after dessert; he’d kept himself all night out of reach of liquor’s sweet embrace.

He did this with a purpose, for even though it killed him to see so much beautiful drink go untouched by his lips, the mission he was on demanded he kept his wits about him. A drink or two would be nothing, he could easily handle the effects, but if something went wrong here there were others who’d say he couldn’t.

As agonising as was the tedium, it was not without relief. There had been a consistently interesting parade of entertaining faces to observe here over the course of the evening, even some of them with equally interesting bodies attached. So he watched and waited managing to keep himself amused. Thoughts played through his mind that he was sure many of the ladies would not appreciate. Acting always trumped thinking, but for now he was making do.

What exactly he was waiting for he really didn’t know. The information he’d been sent off with had been convoluted at best. At worst, and in truth, it had been maddeningly unhelpful thus far.

There was a threat and he was supposed to neutralize it. That was all they’d decided to tell him.

Right now, in a moment that could have been much more, he thought the only threat he could see was to his sanity if the evening continued to bore him as it had begun to do over the past fifteen minutes.

He kept his eye, one at least, always upon his target. A classless and shrivelled old man, the type Michael swore he’d never be, Ambassador Braylan had spent the evening shaking hands and telling his stories. It wasn’t much of a sight, and to make it worse, it was all that he seemed to do. He only did what it was he did best, what he was famous for.

For the entire night, he schmoozed.

As he finally finished the last, unsatisfyingly warm and flat drops of Champagne in the fine crystal flute in his hands, Michael asked himself how politicians could stand to do what they did. Most of their time spent either tied up in meetings or sitting at a desk.

He shook his head, and gruffly sighed, realising there was no answer. That was certainly not the life for him, and that was why he’d joined Starfleet to begin with, though a career in diplomatic pursuits was something he certainly could have undertaken. He had the background, he had the education and he had the charm. All qualities which served him well, but which he thought diplomacy would be a waste of.

He chose instead to focus his charm on a much more narrow audience; one of the opposite gender. It was a choice that had payed off well given the women that he’d met. More beautiful than any jewel, more of a challenge than any mission, the pursuit of a woman was not for the faint of heart.

Michael understood women, most of the time, and the rest of the time was what made it fun. There was a woman here tonight he imagined could be somewhat fun.

He had noticed that Braylan had this lovely little piece of eye candy attached to his withered, aging arm all night long, and he asked himself how it was that a woman who looked like that could stand to fawn so over a man old enough to be her grandfather.

She was a mystery at first but when he remembered that man was one of the most powerful in Federation government and it all made sense. She was still a beauty, perhaps no more a challenge, but she still held his free eye.

Women loved power, it seemed to him, and so would willingly lust after any man who possessed enough of it, whether he was half past dead or an up and coming young member of the Ambassadorship. Which mattered little, it seemed to Michael, just so long as the man was powerful, the woman was happy to do whatever it took to gain a portion of that power by association. She seemed to make sense, but there was something more, so he still didn’t turn fully away.

There was a large orchestra playing so-called swing-style now, and the Bolian who had the clarinet in his hands certainly seemed to know what to do with it. One song blended into another as Michael made polite small talk and accepted offers of dances from the wives of several of those prominent dignitaries so that he could be out on the floor, remaining close to Braylan and luckily this woman as well.

It was amazing the stamina of the old man, Michael thought. His date wanted to stop dancing three songs ago but the Ambassador, who it seemed had taken no care at all in making sure his own Champagne consumption was moderate tonight, refused to allow her to sit down.

Braylan now danced his partner off toward the corner of the floor as the song ended, and Michael watched as she smiled at him with a forced sort of politeness and backed away. The old man was having none of it however, and clasped his hands around her waist again as the next song started to play.

The introductory strains of Moonlight Serenade echoed through the ballroom, as Michael thanked his partner and politely refused another dance so he could move closer to the loveless couple. When he did, he observed that the Ambassador’s date had clearly had just about enough.

“Please, your Excellency,” she said softly, as she tried once again to escape the grasp of his wrinkled, and wandering hands. “It’s very late, and I’m not accustomed to wearing shoes of this sort for so long.”

“So take them off. Dance barefoot.” Braylan slurred slightly, leering at her and grinning lecherously at the thought. His hands seemed to have a problem with staying on her hips at this point, continually attempting to slide down her silken dress and backward, much to her profound annoyance.

“Look, I’m here to protect you not to be your fun for the night.” The woman growled, so quietly that only Braylan, and Blakeney, who was now hiding behind a towering and leafy potted plant, could hear. “I’m done dancing with you.”

“You’re here to do what I tell you to do,” Braylan warned her in a voice sweet as sugar. “Dance.”
Gem sighed and tried to steer the old man out of the corner and back toward the middle of the dance floor, hoping that at least he may show a little more restraint if everyone could see what he was doing.

Hearing those last words made Michael see her in a new light. Damsel in distress, He thought to himself. To the rescue.

In a flash, he was dressed with his million-strips-of-latinum smile and so stepped out from hiding. “Good evening, Ambassador Braylan. Might I cut in?”

Gem hesitated to allow it. She was not to get any farther than few feet away from Braylan, those were her orders. But she would have been lying if she didn’t admit at least to herself that she desperately needed a few seconds to breathe.

The song couldn’t have more than sixty seconds left by this point until it played out.

What could possibly happen in sixty seconds?

“Of course…” Braylan grudgingly released his grip on his partner and stepped back. “But just one dance, Jade.” He stressed the name that she had been going by all evening, reminding her not only of her place, but also of her duty.

“Of course,” ‘Jade’ replied. She held her arms up and nodded politely toward the newcomer. She was taken aback a moment as he took each of her hands in his; a much more formal and proper form for dancing than the Ambassador had taken.

“It doesn’t suit you.” Michael observed with a gentle smile, as he carefully led his partner back toward the center of the dance floor, all the while keeping only a few steps away from Braylan, who was looking, it seemed, for a waiter so he could get another drink.

“I’m sorry?” She scoffed slightly, thinking the apparently very self-assured man dancing with her was making some sort of remark about her attire for the evening.

He was clearly that type, good looking but far too aware of it. Even his smooth English accent was exactly what she’d expect. He had looked her up and down quite obviously just before he began to dance with her; an action that both surprised and unnerved Lassiter. The beauty in a lack of vanity was that she could usually avoid such unwelcome attention.

How dare he? She thought, feeling he had wrongly assumed he had a right to make such a statement. Michael could see what she was thinking it but it was not an unfamiliar situation.

“The name. Jade. It’s the wrong shade of green.” He remarked, looking into her eyes with a carefully practiced, false sincerity. Though feeling by rights she should be angry, for the first time in the dreary evening Gem nearly laughed. Naturally though decorum and reason won out and she managed to contain her amusement.

“Is that so?” She asked, barely able to force annoyance into her voice as the man led their smooth, graceful dancing movements with ease. “How do you mean exactly, the wrong shade of green?”

“Your eyes look much more like emeralds than jade.” The man replied, grinning broadly as he swept her around in a circle, his eyes darting from her face only long enough to watch the old geezer across the room take a long swig of Champagne. “I’d have thought that Jewel would be a much more appropriate name for so rare and beautiful a gemstone such as yourself.”

Oh brother, Gem thought, her eyes almost rolling at the clichéd line. Ironic, she mused, given her real name.

“I didn’t catch your name, Sir.” She tilted her head only slightly, but it was enough to betray her true curiosity.

The music began to wind down and this indisputably handsome yet entirely wrong man returned his full attention to her.

She had observed him looking over the room when he thought she didn’t notice, and she began to worry that he was up to something, and that something was attempting to distract her from her duties with some dark purpose in mind.

“Michael,” he answered, bowing gallantly, subtly always watching her eyes to see what his chances were. The song was nearly over, and she had him intrigued, but he released her pre-emptively to search for the ambassador, whom he worried that he couldn’t see anymore.

Gem was just as worried, though they both expertly hid their concern.

“Well Michael, thank you for the dance,” Gem said absently, pretending her search for Braylan was just a casual glance. Michael didn’t miss the sudden change, but his own search was keeping him busy. “Now, I had best find the…”

It was a single moment where they’d both lost him and an explosive charge detonating was heard.

Lassiter’s eyes flew wide. What could happen in sixty seconds, indeed.

“Braylan.” They both said, as they took off running through the crowded room, which was quickly plunged into chaos. Neither immediately understood the other’s interest but there wasn’t time for them to be concerned.

Michael outran Gem until she ripped her shoes off angrily as she hurried, knowing she could not afford to be held back by them a second longer. She was a very fast runner, and Blakeney was shocked to find that she was already shielding Braylan with her body before the second round of phaser fire rang out and ricocheted off the walls in an attempt to snuff out the old man’s life.

Chaos had soon turned to saturation as Michael realised he’d been caught by the crowd. The bouncing light in the air could have been blinding for those who’d not been in these situations before. The air near a phaser blast was much warmer than most had expected.

There was fear in the room.

The stamping feet, the collapsing furniture and the screams fed into themselves. Many were convinced by the heat that they were almost hit and swarmed in panic towards the exits they prayed would be safe.

On every side he was trapped, and the full force was attempting to shove him the wrong way.

“Starfleet Security!” Michael shouted, forcing his way through the throngs of terrified people. “MOVE!”

Gemini Lassiter
Director, The Alchemy Project
And former TI Agent


Lt. Commander Michael Blakeney

858: No Time to Lose

by Vol Tryst and Salvek
After Nicholas is Missing

-=Holodeck One, USS Serendipity=-

Salvek swayed slowly off in the shadows with Kellyn, as U2 took the time, as graciously as a hologram could, to play a set as the party began to wind down. They had made the rounds with all the guest and characters and now all Salvek wanted was a little time alone with his wife before they returned to mingling.

As One gradually faded out and melded into Vertigo, the time for slow dancing was clearly at an end. Salvek stepped back, just as young Gillian Tress, who had long since exhausted Jariel Camen and was now being chased by Fleur, ran in between them and bumped into Kellyn's leg. Tress once again looked up from under the goggles, not as far as she had with Keiran, but still far.

"I am sorry Commander Lair," Fleur said, excusing herself as she stepped between Salvek and Kellyn to retrieve Tress.

"It's okay Fleur. I've talked to everyone in the room except this little newcomer. I'd like to catch up with you and Jariel if you don't mind, before the night is over. Besides you look like you could use wrangling assistance."

Fleur rolled her eyes, as if to say you have no idea. The flapper dress she wore was of little use for child control duty. "You can assist in any way you are willing, Lair Kellyn."

"Do you mind, Salvek?"

Salvek paused before answering. He was going to follow Kellyn, but he spied a most unusual site across the room. Vol was sitting, on his own, looking rather unsettled. If anyone should have been reveling in the lighthearted emotions of the evening, it should have been Vol. Unless his eyes deceived him, it appeared the man was whispering wordlessly to the stale air before him.

*The headaches are getting worse.*

*I should see the Doctor once more.*

*There's no need. I should trust my Father.*

"I will be over shortly, my wife." Kellyn brushed her hand on Salvek's cheek, then took Tress by one arm as Fleur took the other. Even when held by the both of them, Tress still managed to stagger them by lifting both feet of the ground to swing between them.

Salvek waited till they had moved on, to approach Vol and see if something was bothering him. He could not help but appreciate the irony of the Vulcan being concerned for the emotional well-being of the Counselor.

"Good evening, Counselor Tryst," Salvek began, to get Vol's attention. "Is there something wrong with your drink?"

The voice was received by the hybrid, but it melted into the atmosphere, which was filled by similar sounds of people chatting away. None of which were louder at this point in time than the ones currently quarrelling in Vol's own mind.

*Right, because he knows exactly what it is that's…*

*I'm doing it again.*

*I know.*

*I should concern myself with current events.*

*Indeed, such as the state of mind of Commander O'Sullivan.*

*Or the Vulcan lurking right above me.*

*Speaking of which…*

*William has no idea what he's talking about!*

*He wrote the play, leave it be.*

*That may be so, how…*

The feeling of a hand resting on his arm jolted Vol like the snap of a whip right under his buttocks. Indeed, Vol seemingly levitated like a cartoon would in an old Terran Looney Tunes picture. Upon landing his missed his stool and it toppled onto the ground. Vol rolled onto his back groaning, not in pain, but in reluctant defeat. He bent his knees and raised his hands to run and pull gently on his hair to raise him into awareness.

"Counselor, are you well?" The Vulcan asked, although he used his usual voice, with no real hint as to caring for Vol's well-being. Although, it was obvious Vol was all right, and not in any way intoxicated.

*If only,* Vol thought to himself.

"Yes, I'm fine," Vol let out an exasperated sigh. He peered up as he saw the Salvek extend his hand to aid the Counselor back onto his feet.

"If it's alright with you Commander, I think I may stay down here for a while."

There was a pause, and Vol could almost feel the Vulcan raise his eyebrow in a query.

"I'm guessing that's not an option," Vol said.

"I must agree with your conclusion, Counselor."

"Is that an order?"

A pause.

"It may be."

Vol summoned every bit of strength in his being not to let out a whine fit of a rebellious twelve year old Klingon.

“You show no signs of illness Counselor, that I can detect. So I assume you must be bothered by something, despite your denials.”

“It’s Commander O’Sullivan. He was in here earlier and I sensed he was very concerned. Then he left with the Captain.” Vol’s response was truthful enough, even if he did not share that there were other things on his mind besides his concern over Keiran O’Sullivan. Salvek took him at his word and did not press the matter further to see what, if anything else, was troubling the Counselor.

“Did you sense whether he was upset over a personal or ship related matter?”

“He certainly was not upset with the Captain, if that is what you mean. My guess is it was ship related.” Vol kept his eyes away from Salvek’s lest the Vulcan sense any deeper concern by reading his eyes.

“I would not trouble yourself too much. I am sure if there were a ship related emergency, the Captain would have summoned me to inform me. So far, she has not.”

Before Vol could even respond, Salvek’s badge chirped, and Keiran’s voice came over it.

[O’Sullivan to Salvek.]

Vol looked up into Salvek’s eyes now, as if he already knew exactly what Keiran was going to say.

“Go ahead.”

[Captain wants the senior staff assembled in ten minutes. Blane, Hartcort, Dengar, Tryst. If any of them are still there, please let them know.]

Salvek scanned the room quickly, taking a count. “Commander Blane has left. The rest are still here, I will inform them.”

Salvek closed the link. Kellyn had heard part of his conversation from nearby, and a glance between the couple was all that was needed to communicate that Salvek had to leave quickly. She forced a smile through the concern on her face. She inclined her head towards Fleur and Jariel, to indicate that she would be with them if he needed to find her later.

He mouthed I love you to her, before calling for Dengar and Hartcort to join him.

-=Ten Minutes Later=-

One may normally have felt out of place in an early twentieth century tux during a senior staff meeting, but Salvek was focused on nothing other than the orders the Captain was about to issue.

He sat next to Vol, waiting for the Captain to arrive. Also around the table were Hartcort, Reece, Blane, O’Sullivan and Dengar. Salvek could not help but appreciate Blane’s powers of anticipation. At some point, most likely after seeing the Captain leave the party, Blane had left to go put on his uniform. The second officer clearly knew something was about to happen.

“It appears your concern over Commander O’Sullivan was warranted, Counselor.” Salvek finally remarked softly to Vol, watching as O’Sullivan stared blankly out the window at the moorings still holding the ship tethered to the dock.

Zanh Liis entered the room and stood at the head of the table. She saw Salvek still dressed in his tux, along with Dengar, Tryst and Hartcort, who had not yet made their way back into uniform.

“Sorry to interrupt the end of the party gentlemen, but something has come up. The new flagship, the Zenith has gone silent, and Starfleet wants us to leave right now to search for it.”

There was a brief pause, as those not yet in the know absorbed the information.

“What ships will we be rendezvousing with, Captain?” Salvek asked.

“Just us,” Zanh Liis said with a smirk. It was not intended to express amusement but rather to show she knew an argument from her First Officer was imminent.

“Captain, a search with only one ship will take significantly longer…”

“I know that, Salvek. This was not my choice, it was Starfleet’s. They don’t want this turning into public knowledge. I’m going to have to restrict information about our mission to a strict need to know basis aboard ship as well. Department heads and your seconds only. Anyone else, clear it with me or Salvek first. Understood?”

Those seated around the table nodded. Dabin Reece raised a hand halfway to get Liis’ attention. “Uh, I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining or anything, but have they given us any indication what happened so we know what we are looking for? A battle? Space anomaly? Anything?”

“There’s a fragment of a message that was cut off halfway through. That’s all. Nothing since. We do know their last location, so that’s where we are going.”
Vol sensed immediately that there was something about the message important that she was not volunteering. "Captain, is Nicholas Lassiter not the First Officer of the Zenith?"

"Yes Vol, he is. That's another reason why no one is to discuss this mission for now in public. We don't need Gira Lassiter overhearing in the corridor that her brother and his entire crew is missing. I'll be taking the helm myself on the way there. Once we find the Zenith we can try to figure out what happened, and go forward from there."

“Why are we not at least sending the Alchemy ahead?” Dengar asked.

“The Admiral won’t risk the prototype,” Zanh answered.

“Not even for her own son?” Hartcort added, rather incredulous.

Zanh just shook her head. The last thing she wanted to do was make excuses for actions she disagreed with herself. She stood up straight and folded her arms over her chest, anxious to wrap up the discussion and get down to business.

“With Zander Blakeslee staying on Earth on medical leave, I have asked Commander O’Sullivan to take the lead in ship’s security for now. Any questions you have in that regard can be addressed directly by him. Any other questions?”

She waited a moment, and no one spoke up. “Good. It was a long evening. Everyone get at least eight hours of sleep before reporting for your next shift. That’s an order. By the way Blane, any news on my chair?”

“Working on it, Captain. I think it may have been shipped in a mislabeled container.”

“Then by all means, have someone open said container and take a look. Dismissed.”

The room began to empty, and Zanh turned for the exit herself, with O’Sullivan falling into step behind her. “A minute, Captain!” Vol asked before Zanh could make it back out onto the bridge.

“So close,” She sighed to Keiran. “Go ahead.”

“Aye, Captain,” he replied, respectful of her position as always, even if she didn’t understand why she deserved it.

Zanh waited for the room to clear before turning to Tryst. “Can I help you, Counselor?”

“The message was from her son, wasn’t it? The one that got cut off?” Vol reclined back in his chair leisurely, in an attempt to set Zanh at ease.


“Now she is dispatching us, alone, without even making use of the Alchemy, to search for her son?”

“Yup,” Liis replied simply. “To borrow an old Earth phrase Vol, you are preaching to the choir.”

Vol was vaguely familiar with the expression, but he still took a moment to absorb the meaning. He looked away from the Captain, visibly bit his lower lip before standing up and looking Zanh in the eyes once more.

"And I can rest assured that said choir sang loud as it could?"

"Vol, she's not budging. For better or worse, I have my orders."

"As begrudgingly as you might follow them," Vol responded.

"No kidding," Zanh agreed.

There was a pause. It was obvious that Vol was thinking heavily and choosing his words carefully.

"This is, I don't even know where to begin." Vol retreated to pacing to the other side of the conference table; facing the Captain still he gripped the top end of one of the chair. "Normally I'd denounce this is as being a terrible idea."

Zanh failed slightly as resisting the urge widen her eyes in disbelief. "You like this idea?"

"I'm not sure," Vol shrugged. He now leaned on the same chair he'd been gripping, unveiling his thoughts to the Captain.

"There are many things that differ from species to species. Cultures, rituals, family dynamic. But the one thing that is a universal constant is the fact that when a mother's child's life is in danger, she goes ballistic!" Vol failed at keeping his cool, as he ever so slightly raised his voice in his own disbelief. He calmed down a great deal before resuming.

"Humans especially have a history of parents losing their minds when their child is kidnapped. It becomes increasingly dangerous when said parent is in a role of power, because they are no longer a responsible adult who must serve in the government’s, the people's or the Federation's best interest. They are instead a maddened individual bent on obliterating anything in their path to get their child back home safely. The best course of action is for them to step aside and for less aggrieved people to take over."

It almost appeared like the Counselor was speaking for himself as well as to Zanh. As if reaffirming what he already knew to be true was something of a comfort.

"But the Admiral doesn't appear to have done either of those things. She hasn't blindly ordered every ship in the quadrant to find her son, nor does she appear to be out of her usual state of mind."

Vol shut himself up, actually bringing his hand to his mouth and rubbing his finger over his lips. He finally raked his scull with his fingers in an effort to calm down.

"I apologize for the rant Captain, I'm just, perplexed is all."

"You still haven't answered my question. Do you think this is a good plan? The Sera, going at it alone?"

"It defies what I've known to be true of mothers my entire life, but there are consequences to going all 'Gung-ho' about this. I'd still prefer it if someone else was in charge of this particular mission, but that's not my call to make."

“Well, we’re going to find out soon enough if your concerns are warranted. Do me a favor and keep an eye on the crew. They are bound to start growing concerned about where we are going and why, and I need to know if anyone is questioning my sanity like we are Lassiter’s.”
As Zanh turned to go, Vol raised one more point before allowing her to leave him.

”Gira will have to be told.”

“I know that.” Zanh snapped, more angrily than she intended. She repeated the words more slowly, and gently, the second time she said them.

“I take it you’re going to tell her.” Vol knew that Zanh was a woman who would not want to leave the burden of bearing bad news to anyone lower on her chain of command just to escape the discomfort of the disclosure. “I should be present.”

“I, it’s not going to be,” Zanh paused. “Gira, she and Keiran are very close. He asked to be the one to tell her, and I decided to allow it.”


“When he feels he has to.” She strode toward the door, unwilling to put off the ship’s departure another moment. “If you feel you should be there, talk to him about it. I’ll leave the decision to his discretion.”

“As our Chief of Security?” Vol’s eyebrow elevated.

“As her former Commanding Officer, and the closest thing to a father she’s ever had.” Zanh Liis concluded, as the doors slid shut behind her.

Lieutenant Vol Tryst
Ship’s Counselor
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Commander Salvek
First Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

857: Home: Two

by Zander Blakeslee
After Part One

-=The Blakeslee family homestead, Alaska, Earth=-

“Ahhhhh,” Zander exhaled as he put his fork down by his plate and wiped his mouth with the cloth napkin they was in his lap. He then stretched his arm above his head with a grunt then brought them back down to pat his contently fill stomach.

“That was good Mom. Nothing beats your lasagna.”

Samthia nodded her approval as she daintily dabbed the napkin to her lips. The boys also showed their approval with wide sauce covered grins and vigorous nods.

“There is something to be said for home cooking over replicated meals,” Samthia added. “I now understand why the lounge and the café are so popular.”

Helva smiled at the compliments from everyone at the table. “Sam my dear, do you get the opportunity to cook often?”

Samthia shook her head in a negative fashion. “I am afraid not. Between my duties in Stellar Cartography and caring for the children, I can only cook maybe two days a week. I love to cook and I wish I had more time to do so. When we were on Delta IV I was able to cook everyday. I am afraid that I…” She stopped as she felt her husband tense up.

She sensed an unexpected wave of confusion, doubt, and guilt wash over him. It was gone as quickly as it appeared but it was unmistakable. She glanced over at him but his attention seemed to be on the crackling fire that burned in the fireplace.

“…I am getting out of practice.” She finished as she turned towards her mother in law with a forced smile. Helva’s attention had also turned towards her son concern on her face. His mother might not share the empathic bond the Zander and Samthia did but she was a parent, his mother, and she could easily sense her son’s troubled spirit.

She looked back to Samthia with troubled eyes. Helva and Samthia exchanged a glance that conveyed to each that they shared the same concern. It was only a momentary glace before she returned a smiled to her face.

“Well, you will be here for a while my dear so maybe you and I can exchange recipes.”

Samthia smiled knowing full well that Zander’s mother wanted to discuss more then cooking. “I would like that.”

Helva nodded then pushed her chair out and stood up. “Zander, you are in charge of the dishes. I’ll help Sam clean up the boys.”

Zander stood and tossed his napkin onto his plate. “Sure, dish duty as always.” He smiled remembering his childhood.

“Well you are just so darn good at it.” His mother joked.


It was early evening by the time everything was cleaned up and put away from dinner. The Blakeslees then moved to get the house properly opened up. Bedrooms were setup with clean linens, the bathrooms had fresh towels, and the protective covering over the house furniture had been removed.

The sun had started to set in the west casting an orange glow over the west facing living room windows. The light reflected off of the glassy lake and bathed the front porch in a bright orange glow.

The family gathered on the wicker chairs and couch that adorned the front porch to watch the sun set. The boys busied themselves skipping rocks off of the lakes calm surface under the watchful eyes of Zander and Samthia.

Everyone had donned heavy sweaters or light jackets because even in the summer the nights still packed a strong chill. The sun would only set for a few hours this time of year this far north. Further north, the sun would not really set at all.

“Zander,” his mothers voice broke the silence. “We are going to need to refill the cabinets. I only picked up a few necessities when I came through town.”

One of the charms of the Blakeslee house was its blend of the old and the new. It still had all of the rustic charm of its log cabin heritage but it had been blended nicely with certain amenities. Modern communications and facilities were blended into the house without taking away from the “escape from the world” quality of the house.

The basement had even been converted into a state of the art lab for Helva to work on her nano-technology experiments. Of course the lab had not been used for quite sometime. The Blakeslee matriarch had moved to San Francisco after her husband’s death to be closer to her colleagues and her research.

The one amenity that the cabin did not have, at the insistence of Zander’s father, was a replicator. The more time Zander spent on a starship the more he understood why his father insisted on that.

“I’ll take the car down to town after we put the boys to bed and pick up what we need.”

Helva nodded, not taking her eye off of the sun that had just about disappeared behind the mountains. “Samthia and I will make a list.”


Zander pulled open the wooden doors to the small barn that sat tucked neatly into the woods behind the house and flicked on the light. He smiled at the site before him.

The barn was just as he left it, a bit more dusty then he remembered, but with everything in its place. All of his fathers woodworking tools, now Zander’s, hung in their proper places in the pegs boards the lined the walls. The lathe and bandsaw were tucked in the back and covered with plastic sheets to keep any moisture off of them.

He inhaled deeply. The barn still smelled of sawdust and dirt with a slight hint of oil from the various varnishes stored on the shelves in the back. The scent brought back many memories of working with his father on various projects in this barn. Many were necessary repairs to the cabin and others were hobby projects. A vivid memory of his father working with Zander on a custom sled for the winter downhill derby flooded to him, bringing a smile to his face.

The one other object in the barn drew his attention. A large object sat in the middle of the barn covered with a dusty tarp. He walked over and pulled the tarp off of the object revealing a vehicle underneath. Zander’s smile broadened at the site of the 20th century vehicle. His fathers pride and joy sat before him. Now his pride and joy.

It was a GMC Hummer. Its glossy black paint still reflected the barn lights giving the appearance of it being wet. Zander tossed the tarp to the side and walked around the large vehicle inspecting its condition. It was perfect.

With a grin he made his way to the driver side and unhooked the power charger from the adaptor port where the gas cap would have been when the vehicle was manufactured in the twentieth century. One of the changes Thomas Blakeslee had made to the former military vehicle was to replace the polluting gas burning engine with a modern high output electric power plant.

It was not an easy swap because the elder Blakeslee had insisted on keeping the rest of the truck intact and functional. Even by modern standards its off-road capabilities were close to being unmatched by other wheeled vehicles. Considering the Alaskan terrain in which they lived, it made perfect sense.

Zander hopped into the Hummer and inserted the key that was tucked neatly above the sun visor. He turned it to the one position and pressed the start button. The electric power plant came to life with a hum.

Zander slowly ran his hands over the steering wheel of the Hummer for a moment as he reflected on the many off-road camping trips the family had taken with this truck. He made a mental promise to do the same with his boys.

Then with a laugh he slapped the Hummer into gear and pushed the accelerator to the floor.

The jet-black hummer burst out of the barn with a high-pitched electrical roar and shot down the dirt road that lead away from the cabin and towards the town of Kenei.

Samthia stood holding a hot cup of tea as she watched out of the living rooms large windows. She shook her head as she watched the tail lights disappear in the distance.

“What is the human’s fascination to travel at unsafe speeds?” She asked her mother-in-law as she turned away from the window.

Helva smiled. “I’ve asked that many times about his father and that truck of his. It has to be testosterone driven.” She put down her cup of tea and a serious look crossed her face.

“What is bothering my son?” She asked pointedly.

Commander Zander Blakeslee
Chief Security Officer
USS Serendipity

856: Home: One

by Zander Blakeslee
After Nicholas is Missing

-=Quarters of the Blakeslee Family, USS Serendipity=-

“Make sure that you pack the children’s allergy medication.” Samthia called from the bedroom. “The house had been closed up for several years and it will take a little bit of time to air out. You know how the dust bothers the boys.”

Zander nodded as he packed the bottle of pills. The children’s allergies were one of the side effects of growing up on a Starfleet vessel. The cleaned, processed, and recycled air did not allow for the body to build up immunities as it would on a planets surface. Pollen, dust, mold and other naturally occurring airborne irritants are filtered out on a starship.

This is not a big deal for most adults, as they are exposed to these things while they grew up on their home planets, but for the new generation of Starfleet children growing up on starships, the shock to their systems can be wicked. Not life threatening, but the constant coughing, sneezing, and endlessly runny noses could ruin anyone's trip.

Luckily the effects can be avoided with a simple pill. Taken once a day for three days, it softens the shock to the body’s immune system, and helps it quickly adapt to all of the new allergens in the “real” air.

“I already contacted the property management folks to open up the house. It should be pretty cleared out by the time we get there.” He turned and grabbed the boys’ toothbrushes and favorite bath toys, and added them to the bag.

“Plus, Mom will already be there and you know who meticulous she is. I would expect the floors to be mopped and waxed and the chimney flume swept as well,” he added.

Samthia walked up behind her husband and wrapped her arms around his waist. “I am happy that the doctor is forcing you to take this time to heal. But why are we in such a hurry to leave the ship?”

One of the endearing qualities that had attracted Zander to Samthia was her ability to be blunt and to the point with out sounding crass.

Zander smiled as he accepted her embrace. “Well the ship has to depart on a mission and if we don’t leave now, we won’t be leaving.” Was all he could explain to his wife.

Just then the boys ran out of their room and joined the hug while yelling. “When can we leave? When when when?”

Zander glanced back at his wife, who simply smiled in response. “How about now? Are you ready to go? All packed?”

Both of the boys proceeded to bounce off of the walls in excitement about seeing their grandmother and the “Laska Home” as they had grown to call it.

Suddenly Thomas stopped his celebration and turned to his father. “Will we need the heavy coat?” He asked. His brows furrowed together. He was much like his mother when it came to enduring the elements; the hotter the better. The possibility of going to Alaska in the winter had not crossed his young mind, until now.

Zander laughed. “No Tommy. It is summer there. We won’t need the winter jackets.”

A smile instantly return to the boys face and he returned to helping his brother “pack” by tossing random articles of clothing from their dresser into a suitcase. Zander shook his head and sighed.

*This is supposed to be taking it easy?*

-=A Short Time later=-

The light from the transporter beam dimmed and their eyes adjusted to the bright sunlight, as the family took in the sight of the Blakeslee family homestead. The two-story log cabin was back dropped by tall evergreens and a breathtaking view of the tall Alaskan mountains in the distance, their tops shrouded by clouds.

Zander smiled at Samthia as the boys took off at a dead run towards the large cabin knowing full well that grandma would be waiting inside with a variety of sweets for them to consume at their leisure.

Zander turned to look down at the glassy waters of Kenai Lake. Its waters were so calm that it reflected the bright blue sky and sparse clouds in a perfect mirror-like fashion. He took in a deep breath and held it savoring the crisp freshness before slowly exhaling with a racking cough.

Samthia moved to his side but Zander waved her off. “I’m fine. I just took in to much.”

Worry stretched over his wife’s face as she hugged her husband tightly. Zander held her tight as they both turned their attention out over the water.

“I think the doctor is right. This is what I needed.”

Samthia nodded her agreement even though she was not convinced that Zander’s mental healing was progressing as far as his physical healing.

Samthia gently reached up and turn Zander’s face towards her own.

“Are you alright my One?” She asked softly.

Zander opened his mouth to respond with a canned response that he was just fine but he knew that was not true. He also knew that she knew that. She could easily read his soul as easily as a newspaper.

He stared into his wife’s eyes and could see her concern etched onto her delicate facial features. He could not insult her with a lie.

“No,” He answered at length. “No Sam I don’t think that I am alright.”

Samthia waited to see if her husband wanted to talk about what was troubling him. Seeing that he was not willing to offer anymore of an explanation she simple hugged him tight and held him close for what seemed like forever.

“We should go inside. I am sure that your mother is anxious to see you.” Samthia prodded, as she moved away from him and gently pulled him towards the house by his hand.

They made their way up the stone path and onto the front porch of the two hundred year old log cabin. The large windows were cranked open to allow the fresh summer air into the cabin and the front door was opened wide. Zander and Samthia stepped through the doorway and Zander closed the heavy wooden door behind them.

The cabin was designed with an open layout. The bedrooms and bathrooms resided on the second floor that was designed with a balcony that over looked the first floor. The living room, dining room, kitchen, study, and game room were on the first floor. A centralized round fireplace sat in the middle of the cabin, its stone chimney dividing the house in half.

Zander signed as he noticed that the sheets were still covering the furniture just as he and Samthia had left it the last time they were here, almost a year ago. Zander grabbed one of the sheets and pulled it off of the recliner stirring up a fine cloud of dust.

He silently cursed himself for not being here more. Between Starfleet and his responsibilities to his adopted home on Delta IV, he had no time to properly take care of the Blakeslee homestead. For that reason, they had hired a property management company.

“I thought Jason was going to open up the house for us.” Samthia commented as she helped pull off the sheet covering the couch.

Zander shrugged. “Maybe he did not get my message.”

“Told him that we could handle it ourselves.” Came a voice from the kitchen door. Zander turned and smiled at his mother.

She walked over, her arms outstretched to hug her son tight. “After all I did live her for twenty four years. I think I know how to clean this house.” She embraced her son tightly. “I am so happy that you are okay.”

“I’m fine mom.” He kissed her on the cheek. “Where are the boys?”

Helva Blakeslee nodded towards the kitchen. “Eating cookies,” she smiled. “They are getting huge!”

“Yea,” Zander nodded in agreement. “And if you keep feeding them cookies they’ll be getting round too.”

She turned to Samthia and embraced her tightly, almost crushing the small woman. “Sam my dear, how are you?”

Samthia smiled warmly and returned the embrace. “I am well mother. It is good to see you again. It has been to long.”

“Yes it has my dear.” She turned back to her son.

“Okay. Who’s hungry?”

Commander Zander Blakeslee
Chief Security Officer
USS Serendipity

855: The Price: Two

by Gem Lassiter and Guest

-=Flashback continued from part one=-

A party.

Gem shook her head. She would never, ever understand politics. Or politicians.

She was a woman of action. She was used to going in, cleaning up whatever mess had been made that needed to be handled, and then getting on with the next thing. She liked to keep moving.

Holding still had always seemed to her an open and engraved invitation, courting danger.

"You should be grateful that we're not putting you behind a desk for the next month. The way you acted, that could very well have happened. But I managed to get them to believe that you're the perfect operative for this assignment and after seeing your profile picture, they agreed."

Gem snorted, utterly offended by this.

She was, she'd been told, a rare sort of beauty, but she never wanted to believe it. She couldn't abide people who only got by on their looks in life. Beauty was nothing, she believed, without the brains to back it up and a phaser poised and ready to fry anyone who might pose an obstacle between you and the completion of your duties.

"So I have to go to this...thing."

"Yes, you have to go to the Embassy Ball and you have to dress the part."

"I can't just hide behind a potted plant and just shoot anyone who looks at him sideways?"

Galloway shook his head and sighed. "No, Gem. You cannot."

He knew that she knew better but given who she was, he felt he'd better say so, just for the record in case he was questioned on the issue later.

"This is the most ridiculous, illogical operation I've ever seen in my life." Gem complained. "When I"m running this agency someday, things are going to be a hell of a lot different." She stormed toward the door.

"I didn't dismiss you yet." Galloway warned sternly.

"Do you want me to get a dress in time for this gala event or not? These things take time, Adam."

"Go on. Get out. And Gemini, don't do anything that will make me look bad. I mean it this time."

Gem muttered under her breath as she punched the button to call for the lift repeatedly and with such force that she nearly destroyed it. "Ball gown. All my career I break my neck and work my tail off. I do my best and I this is where I end up."

Once the lift doors closed and she instructed the lift to take her toward the back exit, she pounded her small fist against the wall in utter outrage.

"Jonas, I swear, I don't care what you say to me when you get back, it's over. We are over."

-=A City Street, not too far away=-

Michael Blakeney, as he’d decided to call himself today, materialised early on a street not far from his intended destination. He hadn’t thought much about it, there weren’t that many wrong choices that could be made, but he was sure that this was exactly where and when he wanted to arrive. It was a wide laneway, pedestrian access only, and dozens of people swarmed around him.

Behind him was the exit from the large cool grey transporter hub building and people from all walks of life poured out to spread through the city. It was a crowd which would be diluted eventually but on either side stood glimmering towers reaching vainly for the sky forever out of reach which for now forced them to move as one. There were young, there were old, there were the remarkable and the mundane, but there were no others quite like him.

This was the city, compressed into a handful of people, like a snapshot of the moment that was and would never be again. He could feel the history in this street.

Granted, it was recent history, but it was history nonetheless.

It was a beautiful time for the city, not quite late enough to be confidently called the evening but too long into the day for afternoon to have any claim. It was that lost time when the lights started coming on, not because they were needed but because they were wanted to entice travellers both eager and weary.

It wouldn’t take nearly as long to walk to where he was going as he had before he had to be there, but he felt that it just wouldn’t be right not to take full advantage of the extra freedom of his first solo mission by enjoying his time in the city. Besides there was always something interesting to do on any journey for the man who’s ready to risk it.

He jumped down from the base of the white marble statue he’d beamed himself on to. Given the crowd, it was one of the few positions which could be counted on to be regularly clear.

There were plenty of other less public places he could have chosen as easier to find an entrance and perhaps still had as much fun, but then he wouldn’t have made nearly as memorable an entrance.

He felt that Michael was the type of man to demand he be noticed. His choice of location and way of getting there had certainly worked in that regard as all around him people couldn’t help but turn to see who it was that’d just appeared.

Sadly most of the looks were just curious and fleeting once they established that he was just a man. This was after all a busy street and many people rushed around him to get where they were going. One of only a few exceptions to this rule was a single bulbous old man. He hobbled with a stick to support his weight, with skin barely softer than the too many layers of faded leather he wore for the warmish season.

He studied Michael up and down with one eye closed as if it made a difference to how he saw him. Finally satisfied that he wasn’t satisfied, the old man huffed and continued on his way.

Seeing this actually made Michael happier. Undoubtedly the old man's reaction was to Michael's out of place attire. He'd chosen to be dressed sharply for this evening in the most fashionable dinner jacket he could afford, which made him the focus of attention in this less than formal crowd. He knew that normally he’d have been advised to be low key, and to dress not to be noticed, but since he hadn’t this time then he used his discretion and decided looking good was almost certainly the better choice.

Several women passing by as he strolled slowly, letting the streets move around him, thought that the smile he’d had since he’d received this assignment was for them alone and when they returned it he decided not to correct them. Given the flirtatious gleam in the brunettes' eyes as they took him in from head to toe, he was not certain dressing like this was the better choice.

This was going to be fun.


Gem straightened the seam of her stockings and tucked her sidearm into the holster secured to her thigh. It was situated just above the spot where the slit in her gown ended, and that should ensure that it would remain unseen, but not out of reach, should she need to use it.

She almost hoped she'd need to use it.

This entire thing was ridiculous. She did not wear cosmetics, she did not wear heels, and she most certainly did not wear low cut, off the shoulder evening gowns.

She was one of the very first female Starfleet officers ever to reach the position of Jumper with the Timeline Control Division of TI, and damn it, she should be on a Jump somewhere.

She should not be babysitting myopic old geezers with wine on their breath who, by all accounts, had little or no respect for personal boundaries when it came to dealing with the females around them.

Still, she surveyed herself in the mirror and though she wasn't the type to do this unless ordered that a part of her, just the smallest possible part, wished that Jonas could see her now. So he would know what he was missing.

Her dress was the color of her eyes, a royal, brilliant emerald green. Her long dark curls, never allowed out of their tight bun under ordinary circumstances, had reacted to their newfound freedom by coiling even more tightly, into perfectly gleaming spirals that cascaded over her bare shoulders.

She clamped earrings into place and cringed, wondering why any woman in their right mind would go to all this trouble voluntarily just for the sake of vanity. It just wasn't worth it.

She was, she figured at last glance, as ready as she'd ever be.

She adjusted a small device affixed to the back of her left earring; the wire by which everything she saw and heard tonight would be seen and recorded by her superiors. They would watch, they told her, but they would not come in to help unless there was absolutely no other way.

Other undercover operatives may or may not be working the room at any given time- she was told that the less she knew about those arrangements and the more she just played the role of clueless date to the Ambassador, the better.

One thing that Gem Lassiter had never been was clueless.


//// Admiral Gemini Lassiter
Director, The Alchemy Project
(And former Temporal Investigations Agent)


Michael Blakeney
Mission: Classified

854: The Price: One

by Gemini Lassiter
Following Nicholas is Missing

Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.

~Amelia Earhart

-=Office of the Director of The Alchemy Project Starfleet Command, Earth=-

[We'll be underway soon, Admiral.] The man whose indisputably handsome face Gem Lassiter knew so well gazed upon her with such sincere sympathy now for her plight that she could barely tolerate it. [Are ya sure you don' wanna come with us?]

"I can't, Keiran." She allowed herself the luxury of a small sigh between sentences. "I have responsibilities here, and even if I could get away it would raise too many suspicions. It's best for everyone if I stay here for now."

[Very well. Captain Zanh wanted me ta ask ya one last time, are ya sure you don' want us ta send Alchemy ahead?]

"I'm only going to say this once more." Gem snarled, reacting as the manner of being that she felt she was at the moment: a cornered, wounded animal. "Do not get Alchemy any closer to this than the Sera is, and if the Sera goes in to the point where there is a danger to Alchemy, I expect you to leave her behind. Clear?"

[Understood.] Keiran's hand elevated to his chin and his brow furrowed. [Is there...an'a'thin' else I can do for you, personally, Gemini?]

"Find." She began with such strength in her voice that both of them were surprised when her voice broke with unstoppable emotion, preventing her from speaking in one fluid, uninterrupted sentence. "Find my son."

[We will. I'll give you a report the moment we reach The Mixing Pot. In the meantime, if ya, think of an'a'thin' else, you know where to find me. O'Sullivan out.]

The screen went black and Gem was grateful for it, because another moment more and she would not have been able to conceal from him any longer just how close to losing control she really was.

Though she had to admit, if only to herself, that knowing what he had gone through over the years concerning his own son, she was certain he already knew.

The door chime to her office sounded, and her weary and overworked personal assistant appeared. "Admiral, will you be retiring for the evening now?" He looked as if he were silently wishing with all his might that the answer to that question would be yes.

"I'm not going home tonight, Jake. You...you go on. I'll see you in the morning."

So much for offering me the day off to make up for the late night, Ensign Jake Sandler thought to himself sadly. But what did he expect? This was Gem Lassiter, and in the three months he'd been her assistant, he'd learned that she expected of others exactly what she demanded of herself; cold, logical and almost automaton like perfection-- nothing less. "Goodnight, Admiral."

She dimmed the lights to the point they were almost extinguished completely. She listened to the echo of his retreating footsteps. Once they had disappeared and there was no other sound to be heard, Gem locked her terminal down to all but the most high priority of incoming transmissions, walked across the room, and opened the cabinet on the far wall.

Reaching inside she procured two things; a glass, and a bottle of Macallan Fine and Rare Scotch Whisky.

The bottle was marked 2329, and she had received it as a gift from her son on her sixtieth birthday. Just one month ago.

She had scolded him at first, knowing how ridiculously expensive such spirits were. But as he ever did, Nick had managed to charm his way past her initial reaction, and beyond.

Her mind replayed the moment when he'd given it to her, along with a sixty long-stemmed, deeply red roses.


"Happy Birthday, Gem. The perfect gift for the woman who is everything."

"Isn't that, 'who has everything'?"

"Whomever said it that way must never have met my mother." Nick gave her a wink and she found that, as ever, she simply could not get, or stay, angry with him. "Think of it this way. It was born the same year you were, is nearly as precious and almost as rare, but only half as beautiful to look at."

She shook her head and smiled, the singular, special smile that she reserved only for him. "Nicholas, you never give up, do you?"

"Do you expect me to? After all, you raised me to believe that giving up was never an option." For an instant he almost sounded bitter. His throat constricted and tightened around the words, strangling them just beneath the surface of his calm and unfailing charm.

"No." She said resolutely, almost sternly. Gem Lassiter was who she was and she would make no apology about that- not to anyone. Not even to Nicholas. "And you should thank me every day of your life that I did not."

She finally accepted the gift, but only as something to be saved for very special, future occasion.

"We'll drink a toast with it at your wedding." She told him, and Nick merely laughed, kissed her on the top of the head and grinned in the way that only he could.

"Gemini, my love, you know as well as I do that I'm never getting married."


As the sound of his voice faded and left her thoughts once again shrouded in silence she regarded the bottle. It felt so heavy in her hands, almost as weighty as the leaden heart which somehow managed to continue beating inside her chest. For an instant desperation seemed to marry insanity, and she had the overwhelming urge to smash the bottle against the far wall.

Instead, she closed her eyes and without thinking twice, broke the seal.

She poured herself a glass, straight, and then carried it and the bottle over to the couch facing the windows.

Slowly she sank down into the cushions, remaining perched on the edge as though any minute, either of the men dominating her memory tonight might come walking through the door, and she had to be ready to leap up and rush toward them in welcome.

She directed her gaze upward into the blackness again, wondering when it was exactly that staring at the stars had stopped being something she enjoyed, and could only be something that she would do with longing.

She didn't even know what she was looking for, when she glared with such utter hatred at them.
A sign?

Perhaps, though she had given up years ago believing one would ever come. That didn't seem to stop her occasionally still hoping she'd find it.

Peace? Absolution? Redemption?

Any of it.

All of it.

She clutched the glass in her hand more tightly and swirled the liquid within. The aroma of the extraordinary single malt stunned her senses. She elevated the glass to her lips and slowly drew it into her mouth.

After the first deliberate swallow, she finished the rest with speed and abandon that would have made a true connoisseur of such a rare beverage weep.

She poured another, and as the drink bathed her throat and chest in warmth, she wondered just how much colder she would feel when the effect wore off.

She tilted her head up and back, eyes closed; battling the need to remember, while simultaneously fighting the desire to forget.

-=Flashback, Current Timeline, 2357

Office of the Director, The Department of Temporal Investigations=-

"Send somebody else."

"There is nobody else."

"There has got to be someone else." Gem scowled deeply at the rapidly aging face of her supervisor, Admiral Adam Galloway. "Why the hell was he the one who got to go on the Jump instead of me? It's his fault the last one was such an unmitigated disaster."

"I already told you, Gem, this is not a hearing and you're not counsel. We are not trying your case again just because you disagreed with the committee's decision."

"Damn right I disagree with it." Lassiter put her hands on her hips, her jewel green eyes taking on an almost alien quality as they burned through him. "Jonas goes on another Jump and I get suspended for a month."

"Not so much suspended as temporarily reassigned.

"To play security guard for some fossil who's old enough to be my grandfather?"

"Ambassador Braylan is old, yes, Gem, I know. But he's also the best option that Starfleet has at this point to send into these negotiations and he is going to have to be protected. We're up to our necks in this, in case you haven't noticed."

He sighed, deeply and with the sound of man threatened to be crushed by the burden resting upon his shoulders. "Ever since Galen IV the President has been after us to get a treaty signed, and we've been hard pressed to even get the Talarian government to consider sitting down at the table."

"So you're throwing them a party."

"Exactly." Galloway replied, as though implying that course of action should be obvious.


//// Admiral Gemini Lassiter
Director, The Alchemy Project
Starfleet Command

853: Nicholas is Missing

by Admiral Gemini Lassiter
Shortly after Too Much, Too Soon

-=Holodeck One: USS Serendipity=-

The party aboard the Sera was beginning to wind down.

People had spent a memorable evening interacting not only with the holographic residents endemic to the program in progress, but also some of the greatest minds in history, reproduced in photonic form for their enlightenment and amusement.

The crew had been inducted as official members of The Adventurer's Club. They had learned the club salute and sang, mostly on key, the official club song. They had even, several of them, been brave enough to try a Kungaloosh; the Adventurer's Club's signature alcoholic beverage.

The Balderdash Cup had ended awhile ago and the next show was already underway in The Library. Though Dabin Reece was at first distraught over his loss of the trophy and the title, all the praise he received for his work on constructing the program and arranging the party seemed to be helping to bolster his sagging ego.

Zanh Liis had watched from the back of the room as most of those present chose to go take in the last show, She now stood in the all but deserted Grand Salon, just taking in the atmosphere.

By all accounts, it had been a fantastic night.

Full of laughter and surprises for everyone. She had very much enjoyed watching her crew, her friends, celebrate.

This was the sort of night that came around only too rarely in the life of those serving in Starfleet. The kind of night when exceptional memories were made.

The kind of memories you wanted to keep for a lifetime.

Liis happily shook her head with wonder as she regarded the book of matches and cocktail napkin that she held in her hand. She'd been given them by one of the show's performers during the last show; offered as supposed proof of the existence of the lost continent of Atlantis.

Dashing Club member and famous aviator Hathaway Browne had descended dramatically from the ceiling, sliding quickly down the tall Library ladder; stunning the crowd and prepared to give an accounting of his greatest adventure to those judging who should win the Balderdash Cup.

Browne claimed, at the end of the complicated tale of a journey fraught with dangers, to have visited Atlantis, and brought back proof as evidence- a cocktail napkin and matchbook which bore the stamp of the Atlantis Bar and Grill upon them.

"Nice touch, Reece," Zanh grinned again, patting the Trill on the back as he sauntered past. "Designing the program so the props they give away were actually replicated and we get to keep them. Well done."

"Yeah, well you know me." Reece sighed, his lips turned downward still into a slight moue at the sight of Ledbetter across the room. Ashton polished the cup with the cuff of his sleeve just to be sure it was shining brightly as he continued his bragging to Beulah the holographic French maid about his victory. "Attention to detail is part of my charm."

"Speaking of charming." Zanh gestured now to a large wing back chair in the corner, where February Grace, despite the noise of the revelry around her, had fallen soundly asleep.

"Awww. Will you look at that? Poor 'lil Bru. Pregnancy will do that to you, I remember it well," Dabin sighed wistfully. "Makes you so tired it knocks you flat. I should take her home."

Reece looked around him now, realizing for the first time all night, Zanh did not have a towering Irishman tightly attached to her arm. "Speaking of our respective spouses, where did Lucky Charm go?"

"Keiran said he had an incoming message he had to take. He'll be right back... and..." Liis' eyes widened. "What the hell did you just call him?"

Before Reece could explain himself, her head snapped toward the arch as she heard it open watched Keiran stride through it.

His expression immediately told her that something was wrong.

He had been so relaxed, smiling and laughing all night long. Just content, it seemed to follow her from room to room as she made the rounds among the crew. Now something was troubling him, and she had to find out what it was.

Before she could approach him, the doors to The Library opened and all the people began to spill out.

The show had ended, and the crowd was ushered back into The Main Salon. Some headed for the arch, others back to the bar for one more round before calling it a night.

Liis watched as Keiran, on the other side of the assembly and with his path to her suddenly cut off, very slowly raised his hand, silently begging her attention.

Her mind flashed back to another night, another party on the holodeck, and another glance across a crowded space. Another instance in which he had asked for her to find a way to speak to him without arousing the notice of the rest of those present.

"Reece, do me a favor. Take Bru home but stay up a little while longer. I have a feeling I may need to talk to you again soon."

"You're the boss." Dabin moved over and dropped to a knee beside Bru as she stirred from her sleep, hearing all the voices. "C'mon Bru." He said affectionately, taking her hand. "Let's get you tucked in."

TC Blane emerged from The Library alongside Landry Steele, Paxton Briggs and Zander and Samthia Blakeslee. The couple said quick goodnights and finally managed to make their exit.

Looking up, Blane happened to catch the look that passed between Zanh and O'Sullivan in the instant before Keiran turned and quickly exited the holodeck, and Zanh did her best to follow casually a moment later.

TC knew the look in her eyes, and he knew the manner of her step.

Immediately, he excused himself from the group of his comrades and went back to quarters.

To put his uniform back on.


Keiran was waiting for Liis when she reached her ready room.

Again, she felt the strongest sensation of deja vu in this moment. Only this time, she knew exactly what every look he gave her meant as he stood before her.

Every look, that was, except the one he was wearing now.

"What is it?" Her worst fear formed upon her lips in a whispered question. "Carrick?"

"No, is not. Gem Lassiter just called."

"She's still angry?"

"No. Is...Captain," Keiran stammered.

"Keiran, don't do that." Liis' hair stood on end as she felt a shiver run down the length of her spine. "When you call me Captain, it frightens me."

"Can't help it. Am frightened." For him to admit to such fear, something must be horribly wrong.

"Just tell me."

"The Zenith entered an area of space experiencing extreme distortions, and hasn't been seen or heard from since."

Liis said nothing. She did not move, she did not blink.

"Gem has sent orders." Keiran continued. "Was so distraught she asked me to give them to you myself." He paused, hesitating for an instant. "She wants us to go after them."

Liis exhaled sharply as she considered this.

"One thing more. We're only to tell the members of crew who absolutely have to know what we're lookin' for until we find it, and we're to observe subspace silence except to communicate with Lassiter or Admiral Galloway for the time bein'. There is a fear that if the word gets out that the new flagship has gone off the radar..."

"Starfleet's image is at stake." Liis concluded regretfully- and correctly. "It's more important to them than swarming the area with every available ship they have to find that crew, because they want to keep it quiet more than they care about actually finding our people." Liis knew that this must be driving Lassiter absolutely mad. She grabbed the sailor's spyglass from her desk and opened and closed it nervously as she asked the question she dreaded. "How many souls reported aboard?"

"Eight hundred," Keiran whispered gravely, "...and seventy-two, Captain."

Liis very slowly set the glass back down. She drew a deep breath.

It was time to get to work.

"All right. Staff meeting in ten minutes. First order of business is for me to get the Sera> released from space dock, bring the Alchemy in and get us underway." As Zanh thought about her chief flight controller still being off duty for medical reasons, she pondered her options when it came to pilots. Then, another thought occurred to her. "Does Gira know?"

"Don' believe so. She'd likely have come to me straight away."

"That's what I thought. I don't want her at the helm for this, even if I have to fly the ship out of dock myself."

"Understood, I'll make sure Salvek and Blane know she's off limits."

Liis moved closer to him and looked up and into his face. His bright blue eyes, usually as clear and calm as the summer sky were swirling now, like a storm upon the sea. "Do you want me to tell her, or would you rather do it?"

"The Admiral didn'-"

"We have to tell her, Keiran. Sooner or later."

Keiran nodded slowly. "I'd like to be the one, then. But I think we should wait until we're closer to knowin' exactly what we're goin' into."

"Use your discretion."

Keiran hoped that was a conversation that he might yet be spared from having. "What about the last of the internal repairs?"

"Will have to be done en route by Dengar and his people. They can handle it." Liis paced back and forth, twisting the chain of her earring. "I'm just surprised Lassiter doesn't want the Alchemy to go ahead of us. It can get there a lot faster."

"She won't risk the prototype."

"Not even if it could save her own son?"

"No." Keiran droned, knowing full well the way Gem's mind worked. "Not even for Nicholas."

"Well, call her back and ask her one last time, just in case. Though I do see her point. Even if it did get there sooner, any distortion capable of taking a ship the size of the Zen would..."

Zanh stopped, not wanting to think of the potential damage such powerful forces would do to the Serendipity, either.

"Salvek, Blane, Reece. With Zander gone, I'll ask you to step in and lead Sera's security team, if you're willing."

"'Course, am willin'. Whatever ya need me ta do, I'll always do."

"Thank you." She drew in a long breath and released it before continuing.

"Dengar, Tryst, Hartcort, you and I. See if Briggs will take the bridge in the interim. That ought to do for a start. And do me a favor, tell Blakeslee if he wants to stay behind on Earth, he's to quietly take his family and disembark immediately. Apologize to him on my behalf for the rush, Can't be helped."

"I'll handle it. Main conference room in ten minutes. We'll be waitin' for you, Captain."

Liis paused to think for a moment as he moved swiftly toward the door.


He looked back.

"You're still the best partner I've ever had."

A small, melancholy smile barely turned up the corner of his lip. "We always did work well together, didn' we?"

"Yes. We make a hell of a team," she added, barely breathing the words. "I'm so glad you're here. For more reasons than one."

His expression told her that he was as well, and then, he was gone.

She pulled the pack of Atlantis Bar and Grill matches from her pocket and considered them again- thinking them highly ironic now.

"Maybe that's where the Zenith has gone." She whispered to the empty room. "They're just visiting Atlantis."

She took off her jacket and unwound the silk scarf from around her neck, tossing both aside. She brought the computer to life and hailed the dock master on duty.

"This is Captain Zanh Liis O'Sullivan of the Serendipity," She informed him soberly, the instant he came into view on her screen. "And you have got to let us go."


On Earth far below, Gemini Lassiter stared blankly out the windows of her office, lost in thought.

Thirty two years.

Thirty two years, six months, and eleven days.

That's how long it had been.

How long since she'd taken total leave of her senses, acted on impulse and lived- not so much to regret it as to remember it, every moment she'd lived since.

It was so unlike her to do anything like that. But then, she hadn't strayed from the path alone.

She'd had an enthusiastic tour guide.

The span seemed a lot longer to her given the years of non-linear time she'd lived.

Jump after Jump.

Mission after mission.

Day after goddamned day.

As soon as the danger to the Zenith had been verified- all hails unanswered and the ship vanished from scanners without any explanation at all, her mind commenced a full out assault.

It assailed her with every memory she had of the son she'd brought into the world some thirty nine weeks after she'd abandoned all reason. She was too tired to try to count down the days since to the one now that she had no idea where that son was.

Nicholas is missing.

My son.

His son.

Our son.

The son that he had no idea existed, because not only was he never meant to know, the son was never meant to exist.

This is the price I must pay, Gemini Lassiter cursed herself, For having tried to keep just a piece of you. Just one small part, for myself.

Folding her arms down atop her desk, she rested her head down upon them.

She did not cry. Crying was something that Gemini Lassiter simply never did.

Crying showed weakness, and if there was anything that she'd learned by this age it was that you could not afford to show your weaknesses to anyone. If you had to bite your tongue until it bled or dig your fingernails into your skin to the point of puncture to keep control of the emotionless mask on your face, then that was what you did.

The older she got, however, the more she had to admit that it was getting more difficult to keep that mask from slipping.

Recently she'd become far too careless.

The worst example of this loss of control, allowing herself to be taken off her guard in a moment of panic. In that instant she'd shown far more of her internal Hell than she ever had meant to, to a virtual stranger.

Upon reflection she decided that it was probably best that the man who had witnessed the momentary lapse was a stranger.

So much better than if he'd been someone who knew her well.

Not many people could claim that they knew her well, and that was exactly the way she liked it.

She could count on perhaps the fingers of one hand those in her lifetime who had done so, and at least two of them were now dead.

She had lived her life as the embodiment of the Kipling quote 'He travels the fastest who travels alone' and never had a problem with it. If you keep moving, no one can see you.

If you keep moving, no one can touch you.

If you keep moving, no one can get close to you.

Allowing no one to get close to her was the cost of the bargain she'd made with herself as part of the justification. The self-imposed sentence she carried out in silence as penance for allowing herself to keep the gift she'd been so unintentionally given.

One gift, to remember him by.

Trouble was, that gift had gotten closer to her heart than any other being she'd ever encountered and now that gift-- her heart, her pride and her joy, had quite simply vanished.

Without his brilliance, she felt certain that her internal universe would go dark; collapsing in upon itself.

Unless Nicholas was found, she would never know sunlight again.

//// Admiral Gemini Lassiter
Director of The Alchemy Project
Starfleet Command

852: Too Much, Too Soon

by Zander Blakeslee and Zanh Liis

Awhile after Balderdash Cup and Great Dane>/em>

-=The Adventurer's Club Program; Holodeck One=-

Zander was positively awestruck by the outpouring of support from his fellow shipmates. He always knew that he was well-liked but to have an event such as this put together to welcome him back was overwhelming. While he enjoyed the constant flow of praise and good wishes from all that were gathered he found himself growing weary.

He found himself leaning on his wife more and more as the evening drew on. He face showed a constant smile despite his weariness and he met each and every handshake and hug with a smile of his own. Only Samthia could tell that he was weakening.

She watched him as he chatted with two security officers who had made their way over to welcome him back. He was worn out, physically exhausted from the day's activity. Or was that really it? She continued to look at him, observe him with a keen eye and began to see things that only a wife would notice. His smile was not as wide, his eyes not as bright, his attention not fully on the conversation at hand.

More than once she felt his mind and emotions drift far away from the here and now. Something troubled him, something that he did not want to discuss, at least not with anyone here, and maybe not even with her.

Just then Dr. Hartcort strode up to Zander and smiled. “How are we doing today Mister Blakeslee?”

Zander smiled. “A bit overwhelmed I have to admit. I was not expecting this.”

“Well that is to be expected. You are just getting back on your feet.” Lance motioned towards a open chair. “Have a seat.”

Zander shook his head. “I’m alright.”

Lance eyed Zander suspiciously for a moment then smiled. “OK. Look, Zander. Your last tests show a marked improvement but your lung capacity is still not up to snuff.”

“So what can I do about it?”

“Get off of the ship for a few weeks.” Lance concluded. “Go home.”

“How will that help?” Zander asked.

“You will be amazed what a difference fresh air makes. You have a home in Alaska if I remember correctly.”

Zander nodded.

Lance smiled. “So go home, take long walks, breath in deep.” He looked at Samthia. “Spend quality time with your wife and kids. In short, get off of this ship.”

Zander looked back at his wife and smiled.

“This is doctors orders by the way. I’ll not return you to duty until I am satisfied you are ready and in my professional opinion this is the first step. Understood?”

Both Zander and Samthia nodded.

“Good. Now if you’ll excuse me I see a woman with a whip that I just have to meet.” Lance departed in a hurry to catch up to leather clad adventuress.

As Zander watched him go he spotted Zanh Liis chatting with her husband. He made his way over to the couple.

“Captain, I don’t mean to intrude, but I just wanted to say thank you for…” he motioned around the room with his arms. “…all of this.”

Zanh smiled warmly. "It's nothing, Zander, compared to what you do, what you have done, for this ship and crew. We just wanted you to know how glad we are that you're on the mend."

"Right that," Keiran said, smiling as well. "We couldn't do ;round here without'cha."

Zanh caught a look in Samthia's eye as she watched Zander. While Liis may not share a telepathic connection with anyone, it didn't take a mental link to see the concern written upon the Deltan's fine features. Not wanting to draw attention to this concern directly for the sake of Zander's pride, Zanh posed a question quietly, leaning forward and closer to Blakeslee.

"How are you really feeling, Zander?"

"Still a bit tired, Captain," Zander admitted.

"In fact," Samthia spoke up, sensing that Zander was reluctant to say what needed to be said next. "Doctor Hartcort has just temporarily relieved my husband of duty, Captain. He wants us to take a vacation on Earth so Zander can finish his recovery there."

"Whatever the doctor thinks is best, of course," Zanh said, trying to sound light-hearted about the idea but knowing that Zander's recovery must still have some ground to cover if Hartcort still wasn't ready to return him to duty. "Don't worry about a thing. We'll keep everything going here until you return."

"Fresh air and sunshine can do wonders for a man." Keiran added. "You'll see."

Zander smiled. “Well the doctor sure thinks so.” He glanced over at Lance who was having what seemed to be a animated conversation with the woman with the whip. Zander suddenly realized that he had no clue who she was.

"Well, if you will excuse us now, Captain, Commander, " Samthia's troubled eyes did not hold the gaze of either officer for long. "We should make the rounds and say goodnight before I must take my husband home."

"By all means." Zanh extended her hand toward Zander, who grasped it. She wrapped her second hand around his, and with a gentle squeeze, conveyed all she could not find the words for. "Get some rest, Commander. I shall expect you back at your post before you know it, so be sure you enjoy every moment of your time in Alaska."

“Aye captain. I’ll make sure that I will do so.”

Zander and Samthia turned and made their way towards the exit.

Liis noticed how her Security Chief's shoulders slumped and he leaned heavily on Samthia when he thought he was out of sight of his captain.

Just as they were about to leave, a handful of crew members stopped them at the door, and seemed somehow to convince the pair to stay for one more show in the Library before heading on their way. Keiran and Liis watched closely as the couple disappeared into the other room, and the doors closed behind them.

"I'm no Betazoid," Keiran observed, thoughtfully stroking his beard, "But I do know when somethin's eatin' at a man's soul."

"So do I, Keiran." Zanh sighed with worry. "So do I."

A heavy silence settled between them, which was interrupted a moment later by the sound of Keiran's combadge. "O'Sullivan."

[Sorry to disturb you, Sir, but you're receiving a priority one message from Startleet Command."

"Forget to file your paperwork?" Liis asked as she slowly raised an eyebrow, wondering why he'd be receiving such a communiqué this late at night, while she was not.

"I'll take it in my office. Two minutes. O'Sullivan out." His eyes shifted uneasily. He wondered if this had something to do with Tucker Brody...

"Hey, O'Sullivan." Liis jostled him gently to bring him out of his fog. "An'a'thin' I need to know about?"

"Not sure. I'd best find out." Keiran replied. He walked in long, quick strides toward the far end of the room "Computer! Arch."


LT. Commander Zander Blakeslee
Chief of Security/Tactical
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


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