909: Perpetual Light: Two

by Keiran O’Sullivan
Soundtrack: Pie Jesu, performed by Sarah Brightman


...continued from Part One...

-=USS Zenith=-

He led her into Captain Grey’s ready room and ripped the compass from his pocket. He waited until she looked up, and then he tossed it to her. She caught it out of the air and opened the lid.

“Well?” he asked, afraid of the answer whatever it was.

Landry slowly shook her head. “It’s dark.”

Keiran knew better than most that meant that as far as Temporal Investigations and History as it stood now was concerned, that what had just happened was meant to happen and there would be no trying to change it.

For some reason, the crew of the Zenith was allowed to perish; and it was something that Keiran knew he was going to have a very hard time accepting, let alone explaining to those who would have the hardest time of all.

“So now what.”

“Dengar.” Landry said suddenly. “He’s going to have to be resequenced.”

“What did you just say?”

“What he just did- it was the right thing and it saved a lot more people than…” She stopped, wondering just how much she should tell him.

“Oh no you don’t, damn it. You don’ start and stop on me like that. I was almost made head of the bloody Agency awhile back an' this could’a been my ship if I’d taken her. It could’a been my crew all dead now, myself along with ‘em. So you tell me now.” His voice barely concealed his rage though he wasn’t truly angry at her, he knew she was only a messenger. “All of it.”

“Dabin Reece is about to find out that the Domox had accessed star charts from the computers of all of our ships.” Landry announced. “And not long from now, they’ll figure out that the Domox didn’t have a Varion weapon, so if Dengar’s original plan of a shield had been completed instead of his changing it into a weapon at the last moment, we’d all be dead now.”

Keiran shivered.

“What’s more,” Landry continued, folding her arms to try to stop herself from shaking as well. “With the star charts that they’d stolen, they were already planning to go after the populations of every Federation world with telepathic inhabitants.” Her eyes glazed over, but tears did not spill, if they were the reason for it. “Betazed. Vulcan…just the beginning.”

“Then,” Keiran tried, but couldn’t speak any more.

“Dengar didn’t just save us. Though we lost the crew of the Zenith, they were already truly lost, nothing could have saved them at that point.” Landry revealed sadly. “Dengar saved the future of the Federation as we know it.”

“But he still has’ta be…”

”Resequenced? Absolutely.” Landry said with certainty. Her orders were clear. “If he’s not, even if he can manage to survive the guilt he’ll feel at what he’s done, he’ll be far too dangerous. The knowledge he possesses is just too deadly. It has to be destroyed, all of it.”

Landry adjusted the dial on her compass, and nodded before closing it gently and lifting her eyes up to the towering O’Sullivan again. “His work. His notes. His memories.” She concluded sadly. “All must be destroyed.”

Keiran walked away from her now, over to the view port, and dropped heavily to his knees. He again directed his face toward the floor and plead with his God to be granted help and strength as he contemplated all that he yet had to do. He just didn’t know if he had it in him to do it.

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” He whispered.

Slowly, Landry backed away and silently exited, leaving him alone to his prayers.

Tears spilled gently from the corners of Keiran’s tightly clenched eyelids, and his voice was quaking with sorrow. “Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith: where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.”

The words felt empty to him in the moment, how could there ever be joy again for the families of the almost nine hundred people who had served aboard this ship? Still at moments like this when he didn’t know what else to turn to, he always seemed to return in the end to his faith; to the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.

As the weight of pending responsibilities threatened to crush him, alone in this empty room, he wept.

“O Divine Master, grant that I may seek not so much to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” His eyes finally fluttered open, and he wiped at them firmly with the back of his hand. “Amen.”

He rose slowly, and he looked down at the ring on his left hand.

God, he thought, how I wish she was here. He wanted nothing more right now than to simply allow himself to fall apart, safe and protected in the warmth of her embrace.

“Oh, Liis.” He whispered. “How are we ever goin’ to get through this? Can ya help me find my way? I…know I can’t do it on my own this time.”

As if in answer to that prayer of a different kind, Dwan Tubman’s voice sounded over Keiran’s combadge.

[Captain, we’ve finally got the Serendipity. Captain Zanh is asking for a secure channel.]

“In here. Thank you.” Keiran responded gratefully. He needed to compose himself before he returned to the bridge; no one but Liis could be allowed to see him this way.

He slumped down into the chair at the desk and watched the screen come to life. “Liis? Tell me you’re alright, please.”

[I am. But Keiran,] she shook her head. [Gem Lassiter is not.]

“What?” Keiran’s heart sank, plummeting to a new low.

[She’s collapsed and is in our Sickbay. Hartcort is treating her now. He says it’s her heart.]

“Hail Mary, full of grace,” Keiran whispered.

One look at him was enough to shake Liis to the core. He couldn’t take much more, she knew that. She had to hurry up and bring him home.

[A chuisle, listen to me.] Liis pleaded, staring at the screen, wishing more than ever that she could reach out and touch him through it. [Right now a replacement bridge crew from the Gauntlet is being beamed over to your location. In sixty seconds they’ll be ready to relieve you all.]

He looked up, scarcely able to believe it. He would, under any other circumstances, have insisted on staying; on making sure that every single detail was handled until the ship was back to port.

This time, though, he was glad he’d had the forethought to use the hours of waiting between battles to lay out a specific set of orders for anyone who might come after, so that someone else could finish the work in his stead.

He needed to be there for Gem, and for Gira.

He needed Liis to be there for him.

He needed to go home.

[It’s all over, Keiran.] Liis whispered. [It’s time to come home.]

He closed the channel, and wasting not a moment he returned to the bridge, where Dwan was already preparing to turn over his station to his replacement.

Each Serendipity bridge officer quietly and quickly locked down their station, more than ready to follow Keiran O’Sullivan home.

He waited until each of them had transported back, and then, with a longing, last reverent look around him at the bridge of the USS Zenith, he repeated the prayer he’d said before.

“Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.”

-=Transporter Room One, USS Serendipity=-

Zanh Liis sent Andrew Parrish out of the room, and handled the controls herself to bring Keiran back from the Zenith.

She watched the expression on his face change the moment he took solid form before her.

His unmoving lips silently spoke of a hundred things he couldn’t say.

His stormy eyes revealed a thousand emotions he wished he didn’t feel.

His stance betrayed that the weight of the loss of every one of those eight hundred and seventy-one souls, now gone, was weighing upon his shoulders.

He slowly and heavily stepped down from the transporter but felt he could go no further. He lacked the strength to simply continue to put one foot before the other and cross the room to reach her.

Liis found the strength to take those last, but most important steps.

Without a word, her eyes told him everything that he needed to hear.

With arms outstretched and her heart open wide, she grasped hold of him fiercely, softly kissing the tears from his cheeks as she promised him that somehow, they would find a way through this, just as long as they never let go.

Commander Keiran O’Sullivan
Security Liaison
to The Alchemy Project

908: Perpetual Light: One

by Keiran O’Sullivan
Concurrent with All Fall Down
and Not So Sweet Vindication

-=USS Zenith=-

Keiran watched in shock as the Domox ships disappeared back through the portal.

“Liis,” he blurted, “What’s goin’ on over there…”

[Stand by.] Zanh requested, and after hearing a chilling confession from the Sera’s chief engineer claiming that he’d killed everyone on the other side of the passageway, Keiran’s heart sped up.

“What did he just say?” He asked Dwan for confirmation, disbelieving it was possible, though his heart already told him that he already knew.

“Dengar said that he killed them all, Sir.” Tubman reiterated softly. “They’ve closed the channel on that end.”

“Get her back.” Keiran demanded. “I need to speak to the Captain privately right away.”

Keiran blinked repeatedly, trying to remember what he needed to do next, to begin to decide what he should say now.

“They’re not answering.” Tubman said regretfully.

“Keep tryin’.” Keiran asked. Slowly, he took jerking, unsteady strides toward the viewscreen. He continued staring at the empty space where the Domox ships had been- where he had hoped so much that Nicholas Lassiter and the other eight hundred and seventy souls that had been stolen from the very deck beneath his feet, would be.

He had wanted, so much, to save them.

To save Gemini Lassiter’s son. Now…

He glanced over to Vol Tryst, who sat still as a statue and silent as the grave before him, staring straight ahead in shock.

“Tryst,” Keiran said, fighting for every word. “Tell me that there’s a chance for them. That an’a’one could’ve survived that.”

Vol’s expression did not alter. His body did not change position, his head only turned nearly imperceptibly to the side, confirming Keiran’s fears.

There were no survivors beyond the breach.

Tears burned O’Sullivan’s eyes like the very flames of Hell, but he fought them back. No time for them now, most of all not in front of the crew around him who’d been through so much already.

“Status.” He rumbled gently. “Please.”

“Shields are gone, Captain,” Dwan began, “Damage is heavy ship-wide. Hull is a mess all over the place…” the man shook his head. “We’ve lost life support on decks seven through fifteen. The port side of the ship on those decks is open to space.”

“Well then.” Keiran whispered softly, choking again on the lump in his throat. “Doesn’ matter much does it? Is no one down there an’a’way.” The despair in his voice stirred and touched the hearts of all present.

O’Sullivan was, above all else, a thoughtful and deeply emotional man, and as hard as he’d tried to fight his very nature to this point during this mission, it was getting more difficult by the second. “Seal those decks, Mister Tubman.” He requested. “There’ll…be crews comin’ aboard to…” he stopped. “To.”

He stammered as the image of a young face took form in his mind and stopped all other thoughts instantly. “Oh, God. Poor lil’ Gira. How am I ever gonna,” Keiran stopped.

Finally, he allowed his head to drop into his hands. His massive shoulders slumped, and he tried to breathe only to find that the air felt like daggers stabbing his lungs, unforgiving blades of steel against his flesh, running him through.

Raising blue eyes brimming with tears back to the viewscreen, he took a moment to do the only thing he felt right doing in this moment; when the reality of all the lives lost was just beginning to hit them all. To hit him.

He prayed.

He focused blurred vision as best he could on the place where the last ship had disappeared, to the now still and silent void of black, dotted only by lonely, dimming stars.

“Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord,” Keiran closed his eyes and bowed his head, and the others could only listen, mesmerized. “And let perpetual light shine upon them.”

Amen.” Tubman concluded, when finally able to find his voice.

Landry Steele was frozen at her station. She imagined that the lights on the face of her compass, which was still in O’Sullivan’s pocket, must be doing one of two things right now and she was desperate to know which it was.

It was either lit up like a Roman candle, or it was silent and resolutely dark.

“Captain O’Sullivan,” She rose from her chair and moved toward him. “I must speak with you, Sir. Right away.”

“No’ now, Landry.” He warned, as he continued staring at open space on the screen. “Dwan, isn’t the Sera respondin’ yet? I need ta speak to m’wife.”

“Still no response, Captain, I’m hailing continually.”

“Captain O’Sullivan,” Landry repeated firmly, “Sir, under code forty one, section thirty two alpha of the,”

TEMA?” Keiran turned toward her, glaring. “You’re here on behalf of TEMA?”

“Aye, Sir. As an observer.”

“I’m so sick’a those people.” Keiran groaned. He sighed heavily, rubbing his temples. “Observer, yeah? Well what do you make of what’ya’ve observed today, Ensign? We just lost…” he stopped, again taking his head into his hands. “We just lost.”

“Sir, we must discuss the…” her eyes flashed, and he remembered suddenly that he had in his possession something that belonged to her.

He exhaled slowly, wincing as the same stabbing sensation pierced his chest as before with the act of inhaling. “A’right. In the other room, then.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Captain,” Dwan interrupted, “There’s another ship coming into sensor range. It’s the Gauntlet.”

“God in Heaven.” Keiran gasped. “No, she cannot find out like this. It could well kill her.” His thoughts were with Gemini now. She was his friend, before all else, and he couldn’t stand the thought of her finding out she’d just lost her only son over a cold subspace channel. “Get me Captain Zanh now. I’ve got to tell her not to-“

“They’re still telling us to wait,” Dwan replied.

“Then for the love of God, man, get me Gemini Lassiter. HURRY!” Keiran roared.

“Captain O’Sullivan, Sir, we must-“ Landry persisted, and Keiran raised a hand to silence her. His index finger stopped merely centimeters from her face, and he looked as she’d never seen him before.

“I don’t care if you’re here representin’ the bloody gods of Time itself, Ensign. Shut. Up.”

Landry shivered, stunned for once into complete silence.

Keiran spun away, and as he came to a stop over Tubman’s shoulder, he ran his hand back through his hair desperately, nearly taking a handful out by the roots. “Why the hell don’t they answer?” He murmured, as he himself tried hailing again on another frequency, one which would declare loud and clear that this was an emergency and that he needed the Admiral’s attention ahead of all others asking for it. “Why won’t she answer!”

“They’re saying that she’s talking to Captain Zanh and that we have to stand by.”

“No, oh, no.” Keiran shook his head. Liis was not the person to be telling Gem this. Knowing Gem, she wouldn’t wait for answers, she wouldn’t listen to reason, she wouldn’t hear sense…

“Lair Kellyn wants to speak to you,” Tubman announced suddenly.

“Sorry, she’ll hav’ta wait.” Keiran said. “Lassiter. Now.”

“Captain O’Sullivan.” Landry’s voice wavered as she stood behind him once again. “Sir, I must speak with you now.”

Realizing that it was likely already too late to prevent from happening what he had hoped to prevent from happening, Keiran finally relented. “Follow me.”

Commander Keiran O’Sullivan
Security Liaison
to The Alchemy Project
Currently in command of the USS Zenith

907: Not So Sweet Vindication

by Dabin Reece
After All Fall Down

-=USS Serendipity Bridge=-

As the drama with Admiral Lassiter played out on the screen behind him, Reece was already beginning to go over readings from the battle that had just ended.

He owed the First Officer a report, and he wanted to complete it as soon as possible so he could set about tracking down Lair Kellyn to find out where exactly she had dropped off his wife and unborn child.

Zanh Liis was going to want a piece of Kellyn too, but she was just going to have to wait.

*Shouldn’t be a big deal.* Reece thought. *Liis loves to be kept waiting!*

He’d been so busy watching for transporter signals, he hadn’t had much time to look for anything else. As he reviewed the logs, looking for all the transmissions now, he saw a low level subspace signal coming from the Domox.

There was proof that their transporters were tied into subspace technology, and Reece had been looking for subspace signs, but this signal was so subtle and low powered it would never have registered on Reece’s radar since it was too weak to carry a transporter beam.

“Hey, Susie-Q. A moment please!”

Tenney would normally have rolled her eyes, but she was in too much shock after what she’d just seen on the screen, as the Admiral had collapsed and been beamed to Sickbay. Zanh Liis promised to keep the Gauntlet advised on the status of the Admiral, and ordered the channel closed.

“Can you believe that?” Tenney whispered to Reece.

“Believe what?”

“The Admiral!”

Reece was tapping the controls like mad as he began tracing the subspace signals. “Not now Susan! I can’t talk politics. Did the Domox ever try to hail us during the fight?”

“No, not that I recall. Why?”

“Thanks,” Reece said. He went back to studying the signal and waited for Tenney to leave. Tenney, for her part, was waiting for him to ask her something else.

“Can I help you?” Dabin asked.

“Well, are you done with me?”

“Yeah, I said thanks.” Reece answered. Tenney just shook her head and went back to her station.

As he looked at the readings, he realized this was a data transfer, not a voice or video message. He followed the signal in through the ship, looking for its destination. The Domox somehow manipulated each circuit they sent their message through, bypassing the security protocols until the reached the information library on the ship’s main computer. Apparently they were looking for some sort of data.

“Computer, eliminate all requests for information that were made by the Serendipity’s crew in the last hour. Are there any unknown data transfers?”

^One.^ The computer answered, before displaying a list of files that the Domox had apparently taken right out of the Sera’s data banks.

The sight excited him in one sense, for Rada’s sake, and scared the crap out him in another sense, for the sake of dozens of species in the galaxy.

“Whoa! Salvek! Liis!” Reece exclaimed as he bounced down to the Command area.

“You have something to report?” Salvek asked dryly, overstating the obvious.

“The Domox! You won’t believe it, I just found it in the logs.”

“Get to the point Reece!” Liis urged, before Reece lost his focus.

“They stole our star charts. Specifically they were looking for the location of Betazed, Vulcan, Melkot, any planet inhabited by a telepathic species.”

Salvek turned to the Captain. “If they had been allowed to open one of their portals directly to these planets, they would most assuredly have eliminated all life there.”

The Captain nodded. In a way, it was vindicating news for Rada Dengar that he had probably just saved the complete annihilation of several species, but she knew that would to little to help him in his current state.

There was likely no rationale for him that was ever going to be good enough to justify the destruction of an entire species.

“Are you going to tell Rada?” Dabin asked.

Zanh Liis did not answer him, because she simply didn’t know how. What was going to become of Rada Dengar was a mystery at this point. He had just created the most deadly weapon ever known, and the trial run had brought an end to the Domox species. What action the Federation may take on him was irrelevant compared to the punishment Dengar was going to inflict on himself.

It was a punishment that Zanh Liis feared may end his life.

“Did you get any Varion readings from the Domox?” She asked to break the awkward silence.

“Like the weapon Rada used? Not a thing. Their weapons and shielding used highly charged plasma and complex subspace fields. Closest thing I’ve ever seen is the Borg. They were decades beyond our technology, but no, nothing Varion. That would have lit up the sensors like a Renewal Scroll.”

“Rada thought for sure their technology was Varion based, and modifying our shields to match was the only way to protect us,” Zanh said.

“If their weapons were not Varion based, then Commander Dengar’s modified shielding would have been ineffective.” Salvek said to Reece.

“If by ineffective you mean useless, then yeah. That sums it up. The Domox wouldn’t have broken a sweat.” Reece answered.

“It is highly ironic that in his attempt to create a shield that would not protect us, he inadvertently created a weapon that ended up being the only reason we were able to survive.” Salvek mused in his rational manner, as he simultaneously reviewed damage reports from across the ship.

“Yeah,” Zanh Liis said in agreement, even though her thoughts were awash with theories of what Rada was actually going through in his own mind. Rada would never have allowed himself to create such a weapon, not consciously anyway, but it was too impressive a feat to have been accomplished merely by accident or coincidence.

“Reece, I want you to lock up everything related to that weapon. Every computer log, every file, every sensor reading. Put it all in a central location and when it’s ready, let me know where it is. I don’t want anyone seeing any of it. Including you. Don’t look at any of the files or readings, just move them. I’m trusting you Reece, to find everything we need to make sure nobody can figure out how to duplicate this.”

“No problem,” Reece saluted and went back to his station to do as the Captain asked. He couldn’t help but wonder what Zanh Liis had planned for the information. Was she just going to delete it? Or turn it over to Starfleet? And what if Starfleet wanted it, but she didn’t want to hand it over? Then it was really going to hit the fan. He knew her well enough to know she wanted him to gather the information in a single location for her, so she could put her authorization on it all to make sure no one else could access it.

Reece couldn’t blame her for that. He would have done the same thing in her shoes. You don’t just leave the procedures for creating the most deadly weapon ever conceived in the main computer for everyone to see, alongside Lair Arie’s favorite holodeck programs and Fleur’s recipe for sugar cookies.

“Hey, Sue!” Reece whispered as he worked. “Do you still have the Alchemy on hold?”

“Yeah, I’m waiting for the Captain’s orders.”

“Send a message for me to Lair Kellyn, text only,” Reece asked.

“Ready,” Sue said.

Reece recited his simple one line message, which Tenney typed out and sent off to the Alchemy. “Dude, where’s my wife?”

Dabin Reece
Chief Science Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

906: All Fall Down

by Dane Cristiane
Concurrent with The Meaning of the Voice: Two
Soundtrack: 21 Guns, by Green Day


-=Bridge: USS Alchemy=-

“You’ve been holding out on us, Cristiane,” Lair Kellyn commented, as she gripped the armrests of the command chair so tightly that her knuckles turned white.

“Sir?” Dane asked with confusion, as he kept firing upon the Domox. His hands flew without a thought across the controls at Tactical, his work there the perfect complement to Gira’s skill at the helm.

“You know what you’re doing. Obviously your talents have been wasted answering comm calls.”

“That’s…what…I’ve been…trying…” Dane struggled to say, fighting to keep his footing as the Alchemy tilted wildly to port, the little ship feeling the effects of another blow to the mighty Zenith nearby. “…to tell you people!”

“I’ll make sure…she knows it.” Lair promised, and she meant it. “Micah, anything new to help us here?” She begged, knowing that they couldn’t hold out like this much longer.

Even though the Alchemy, the smallest ship in the fight, had done very well to dodge the hits that the Sera and the Zenith could not, Lair knew that the Domox would not ignore them forever. They were like a gnat buzzing in the face of a much larger creature; sooner or later the creature was going to turn its attention to the tiny, irritating insect and make sure that the annoyance it was causing came to a sudden and violent end.

“Can you get Zanh or O’Sullivan? I’d really like to ask them a thing or two…” Lair complained.

“They’re still not responding to hails, Commander.” Dane replied regretfully.

“From the sound of the audio from their bridges, “ Micah offered, as he’d been monitoring those transmissions with a communications earpiece, “They’ve got their own problems.”

Suddenly, the distinct and unmistakable sound of Terran profanity issued from the mouth of Dane Cristiane.

“Dane,” Lair began.

“They’re everywhere.” He stated gravely. “Ten…eleven…no…twelve of them…”

Lair spun in her chair and she repeated the same curse that Dane had just uttered, first in Universal Standard and then in Bajoran.

“Get me Zanh now! Or all of our problems will be over soon. If we don’t-“ Lair rose from her seat as suddenly, Micah’s complexion changed entirely, turning him a sick looking cross between nauseous green and ghostly white. “What?”

“I…” Micah stammered. “I don’t believe it. It’s not possible.”


“Stand by,” Samson began pounding the controls on his panel, unable to believe the readings he was getting.

“Oh my God.” Dane blurted as the data at his station caught up with Samson’s.

“I don’t believe it.” Samson repeated.

“Somebody had better tell me what the hell is-“ Lair insisted, but before she could finish, Dane responded by switching on the main viewscreen, and Lair was now the one addressing the deities of her people aloud.

“No. It can’t. No.”

“The Varion particle readings are off the charts,” Samson gasped.

“Salvek, no.” Lair shook her head, begging the Prophets that it couldn’t be true; that Salvek hadn’t found a way to make a Varion based weapon a reality. She didn’t think that he’d ever even consider it, until she considered that to save Arie, he might truly be capable of such a thing.

“Not Salvek.” Micah replied in disbelief, as he heard and processed the latest conversation from the Sera’s bridge.

“Then who would be determined enough to...oh no.” Lair could think of only one man who would suffer more greatly at the thought of such destruction caused by something he created; and that one man was the one whose name Samson was now speaking.

“They’re talking about Dengar over there.”

“Dengar? No way. He couldn’t hurt a….” Dane objected, but he stopped as new readings came in to his station. “Commander Lair,” his voice shook with anxiety suddenly, a sound Lair had never heard from him before. “The Domox ships are changing course. The portal is losing stability…the enemy is retreating into it.”

“No.” Gira finally spoke. She’d been forcing herself to keep her mind on her work by convincing herself that Nick was on one of those dozen enemy ships, and that all she needed to do was help buy Zanh and O’Sullivan time so that they could find him and bring him back. “Please, no.”

“Lassiter! Listen to me!” Lair demanded. “Get us out of here. Put us behind the Zenith. Now.” She knew that while the Alchemy’s size had been an advantage until now that at this point it was a liability if any of the Domox ships were caught in the closing portal and destroyed by it.

“Aye, Sir.” Gira managed to say, and though her hands felt as if they were no longer connected to the rest of her body, she input the command and the Alchemy dashed for cover behind the largest ship.

“Hail Zanh again.” Lair insisted. “We have to know what is going on over…”

But it was too late.

The last Domox ship disappeared, the portal closed and all that was left to indicate it had ever been there was a small, dying spark of light, quickly gone.

Lair Kellyn couldn’t believe what she’d just witnessed.

Her friend Rada Dengar, the most peaceful and gentle man of conscience she had ever known, had just created and detonated a weapon of such destructive magnitude that she could barely comprehend it.

How, she wondered, would he ever live with himself?

Even though he’d saved them all, she knew him well enough to know that would do little to save him from himself.

Dane’s jaw dropped open as he realized what had just happened.

His eyes instantly sought out Gira, and though from his position he couldn’t see her expression, he was sure that the sound of her immediate, anguished whisper alone had the potential to completely destroy him.

“No.” Gira said softly, and then again more desperately and with greater volume. “No.”

“It’s over.” Micah announced softly. “It’s gone. It’s all…gone.”

“It can’t be gone. My brother is over there!” Gira shouted, leaping up from the helm. Dane stepped forward, gesturing to one of the security officers present to take his place at tactical.

“Gira,” Dane’s voice quivered again, as he grasped hold of her by the arms. “I’m so sorry.”

“Nick!” She screamed, trying to pull away from him and run. She didn’t know where she could run to get away from this nightmare, but there had to be a place, somewhere. There had to be something she could do to wake up from this horror. “Nick!”

“Get her out of here.” Lair ordered, taking the helm. Piloting was not Kellyn’s strongest suit but she knew enough of the Alchemy’s intricate systems to fly it better than she could manage even the most basic of shuttlecraft. “Do what you can for her.”

Dane felt Gira’s weight seem to increase as she went limp, shuddered and lost consciousness. He hoisted her into his arms and took to the turbolift, headed for Sickbay.

“There’s another ship on sensors.” Micah declared, with a joy too thick with sarcasm to be genuine. “What do you know, it’s the Gauntlet.”

“Oh happy day.” Lair returned with equal sarcasm. “Hail Zanh again.” Kellyn growled. “And tell Tenney she’d better not leave me on hold this time.”

-=Bridge, USS Serendipity=-

“The Alchemy is hailing us again, Captain.” Sue Tenney announced.

“Keep Lair on hold.” Zanh ordered. She had a situation to handle here before she spoke to anyone.

“Commander O’Sullivan is also hailing.”

“Ask him to wait too,” Zanh added quickly, but a little more gently. She was already out of her chair and on her way toward Dengar, who still wasn’t moving, aside from trembling.

Ensign Tenney sighed heavily with frustration.

“Now the Gauntlet is hailing us. It’s Admiral Lassiter.” She gulped nervously.

“So she finally shows up. Well, she’s the one who can wait now. Until I’m damned good and ready to talk to her.” Zanh’s teeth were clenched tightly. She was still staring at Rada Dengar, who was still mumbling to himself. “Take him to Sickbay.” She commanded Blane, who raised an eyebrow.


“Sickbay!” Zanh demanded. “Tell Hartcort to be sure that no one talks to Dengar until I say so. Not a solitary word. Seal off Dengar’s office, no one goes in there except for me until I tell you. Understand?”

“Aye, Sir.” Blane gestured to one of the security officers present and each took hold of one of Dengar’s arms, gently leading the man into the lift.

“Sir, Admiral Lassiter is insisting to speak to you.” Tenney said softly.

Liis waited until the lift doors had closed. Then she straightened her tunic, threw her shoulders back and cleared her throat to try to rid herself of the emotions that kept trying to force their way through in her voice. “Fine. Onscreen.” Zanh greeted her with an icy stare. “Admiral. Good of you to join us.”

[We’ve been having engine problems, Zanh Liis,] Lassiter growled. [What the hell have you done to our ships?] She put her hands on her hips. [Where is the crew of the Zenith?]

“Admiral,” Zanh’s voice warned her sternly that they should not be speaking about this so openly. “We’ve barely survived an attack from the same aliens who abducted the Zenith’s crew and…“

[What have you done?] Lassiter repeated. [Our sensor readings are very troubling-]

“I’m sorry, Sir.” Zanh couldn’t help but twist the last word. “War is troubling.” She fought with every ounce of her will power to hold her temper and stall Lassiter off. She needed to talk to Keiran. She needed to talk to Dengar. She needed…

[Explain the extreme level of Varion particles we’ve detected to me right now.] Lassiter demanded. [And I warn you, Captain Zanh, I am not going to ask you again. I am ordering you to answer this question. Where is the crew of the Zenith?]

Liis now stepped forward, toward the screen, and lowered her voice. “Admiral, please. Not this way. We need to speak privately. Face to face.”

[No.] Lassiter demanded. [Now.]

“Sir, I formally request that you wait until we can speak in person to-“ Zanh’s voice was almost pleading. She did not want the Admiral to learn the truth in front of the bridge crews of the Gauntlet and Serendipity.

In the background, the communications officer on the Gauntlet informed Lassiter that she was being hailed, frantically and repeatedly, by the Zenith.

[Tell O’Sullivan he’ll have to wait!] Lassiter shouted. [Zanh! Tell me now, what happened?]

“The enemy has been destroyed.” Zanh droned, still in something of a state of shock over what she’d seen, offering as much as she felt she safely could until she could gather all the facts to explain what had taken place exactly. “Admiral, I regret to inform you that with the exception of one officer, a young woman, that the crew of the Zenith has been lost.”

Lassiter’s expression changed, her face going blank as she staggered forward a step. Her hand reached out, aimlessly searching for something to steady her but there was nothing there to hold on to. The nearest person to her leapt up; offering an arm to support her. Quickly she pushed him away.

[What did you say?]

“I said,” Zanh repeated sadly and slowly, wishing with all her heart that this could’ve been done another way. “That the crew of the USS Zenith is lost.”

She watched as the seemingly unshakable, formidable woman that was Gemini Lassiter stumbled several steps backward.

The Admiral’s lips moved to protest that it couldn’t be true, but there was no longer any air in her lungs with which to propel the words and so no sound issued forth from her aching, narrowing throat.

In her mind a thousand tiny fragments of her life; memories, dreams, nightmares, regrets, and hopes for the future all kept so carefully labeled and separated and filed away, merged into one emotion and came crashing down upon her, crushing the very heart of her beneath their weight.

Her aspect took on an eerie, vacant darkness, and then without betraying that she was suffering any pain at all she slowly raised her hand to her chest.

Her knees gave out and she crumpled to her side, withering gracefully to the deck before the eyes of everyone present.

[Medical emergency on the bridge!] A voice on the Gauntlet shouted. [Admiral! Can you hear me?]

[She’s not breathing!] Another voice exclaimed in panic. The Sera’s crew watched in horror as the woman it belonged to checked for Lassiter’s pulse. [We have to get her to Sickbay.]

“Wait!” Zanh cried. “Beam her here. We have the best CMO in the fleet.”

[Captain,] A man wearing three pips responded, [I don’t--]

“NOW! That is a direct order, Commander! Beam her over here or you’ll be the one who gets to explain to Command why you let her die on your bridge!” Zanh shouted, and the man reluctantly nodded.

“Zanh to transporter room one. Lock on to Admiral Lassiter aboard the Gauntlet and beam her directly to our Sickbay.”

[Aye, Captain.] Andrew Parrish responded. It only took him a moment to get a fix on her signal. [Energizing.]

Liis’ hand again flew back to her badge. “Zanh to Hartcort. Incoming medical emergency.”

[I’m a little busy down here at the moment Captain…]

“Code White.” Zanh interrupted. “The Admiral.”

[Understood.] Lance sighed. [We’ll be ready for her.]

Ensign Dane Cristiane
Temporal Investigations Intern
Currently aboard the USS Alchemy

905: The Meaning of the Voice: Two

by Rada Dengar
Immediately After Part One

-=Main Bridge; USS Serendipity=-

Though for Rada time seemed to stand still, life marched cruelly on for the rest of the galaxy right now. The Alchemy, the Sera and the Zenith had all joined together and flew in formation with every phaser firing on the same point on the Domox ship.

The fast moving little ship was turning rapid circles around them, firing each pass it made. Yet the Alchemy was almost as quick and the respective tactical officers on the other ships were becoming capable of anticipating the Domox’ standard moves.

The enemy vessel tried to flip around, tried a hundred ways to dodge their fire, but as all beams converged where they were aiming the Domox’ environmental controls erupted into flame.

Then as the temperature on the ship dropped down to that of the surrounding space the Domox onboard could no longer move and the ship was suddenly drifting, not under their control.

“I think we’ve incapacitated them…” Briggs reported with a smile, a touch of disbelief and a small yet clear hint of pride in his voice.

Looks of relief spread in a wave across the bridge though the few most senior officers knew not to be relax too much yet.

“Good work everyone,” Liis said with a nod of approval, speaking not just to her own but to the other two crews. “But I don’t want to take any…”

Before she even had a chance to finish the Sera was once again rocked by enemy fire.

“What happened?” Liis demanded from anyone who had the answers. “Did they repair their controls?”

“No, they’re still down,” Briggs said, shaking his head with just a hint of disbelief as a dozen Domox ships decloaked around them. “Captain, I think we’ve got a problem.”


Slowly the doctor walked until he was standing beside the hollowed chief engineer, whose eyes and thoughts were only for the woman before him.

“I’m truly sorry, Chief.” He gently whispered. “She’s been fighting it so hard, but there’s just not enough fight left in her.”

Once again the Sera shook with a volley of enemy fire. Part of the ship caught alight as power was cutting out across the decks and though that Rada felt the vibrations echo through his body and knew his entire world was collapsing around him. Looking at her here, it simply didn’t matter.

His eyes took on a mile long stare as they began to flood with tears. At this moment he didn’t care if the ship would be destroyed, there were two people who’d not be walking off of it anyway.

Slowly he began to close his eyes, just wanting to see her once more as she was, before a niggling thought emerged from the back of his mind.

He couldn’t believe it; it couldn’t be real. Yet as his heart began to beat faster he knew he had to know.

He turned rapidly to Doctor Hartcort desperately demanded. “What did you just say?”

-=Main Bridge; USS Zenith=-

Another barrage of energy rocked the Zenith’s huge frame, which was currently proving more of an easy target than a strength.

“Shields down to forty percent.” Tubman reported from tactical, adding with evident frustration. “They’re keeping their environmental controls on the other side from us now.”

“Aye, the first ship was just supposed ta test our strategy.” Keiran mused with horror as he read the Sera’s condition from the armrest of the command chair and realised that they weren’t going to be able to stay between them and the alien ships much longer.

Rumbling with a gentle fury as he rose violently to his feet with a desperation Vol had rarely seen in him before, Keiran roared. “They wanted us ta tip our hand an’ that’s just what we did!”

-=Sickbay; USS Serendipity=-

“I said she’s fighting it.” Lance replied with confusion about why Rada would care so much about this.

The tears that had once filled Rada’s eyes were evaporated by determination as something dead inside him surged back to life. Blood rushed back to his every limb as existence regained purpose with possibility.

His mind was suddenly putting everything together as his every neuron returned to full power. His senses so dulled suddenly enflamed as every sight and sound around him became clear, every sound that was except for the voice that had brought him here.

That voice in his head when he’d truly heard it clearly had been terrified, nothing like a woman calmly accepting death. Wren was fighting for her life just as he always knew she would. She’d been calling out to him; that much was true.

Yet she was barely awake, barely able to form coherent thoughts, she could never have spoken those words he’d heard and could never have given up on life like she did.

Before he knew what he was doing, he was running out the door. The ship was violently convulsing with enemy fire but he didn’t care as all the pieces fell together. All the talk about giving up had to have come from somewhere else.

An obvious answer would have been their vicious hidden enemies trying to stop him but no, that’d be far too easy.

It was him, his own subconscious mind and how it tried to grasp her cries for help. Like a child, building an image of the world on a few uttered thoughts he could gather. He’d not slept in so long that the lines between reality and illusion had begun to blur into nonexistence.

That world where he’d seen her had been his own creation, from a memory of better times. He’d wanted so much to have her permission to fail at something he didn’t think he could do but that couldn’t explain everything he’d thought she’d said. His mind was trying to tell him something and now he realised exactly what that had been.

-=Main Bridge=-

With a devastating blow the Sera was hit again as the Domox ships started to form a swarm for the final attack.

“We’re losing life support in decks eight and nine!” Reece yelled, moving to a different console as his own began having a fit.

“Evacuate those areas and reroute everything you can to structural integrity!” Liis insisted as they were rocked again.

“Shields are completely down!” Briggs advised as his hands moved rapidly trying everything he knew to get them up again.

“Concentrate your fire on their weapons,” Liis replied, knowing that they’d not survive another good hit.

“I can’t, sir.” Briggs protested as he rapidly tried to change settings. “Phasers are completely non-responsive.”

“My console has been locked out too,” Reece complained, as he tried every button like a child trying to get their toy to work again.

“How?” Liis demanded.

“They’ve been locked out from Main Engineering,” reported Blane. “Under the authorisation of the Chief Engineer.”

“Rada.” Liis said in disbelief, wondering if it could really be possible.

“I may be able to override,” Reece advised as he thought he found a way in.

“No,” Liis adamantly objected, shaking her head as she quietly considered. “This may be the only chance we’ve got.”

-=Secondary Deflector Control;

Main Engineering=-

Rada’s hands rapidly worked to override every safety protocol that there was a very good reason for having in place. He’d finally figured it out, that one last piece of data he’d needed to bring it all together. Eventually we all must die; at infinity even Varion particles must break down to nothing.

With the violently discordant hum of pulsing energy the deflector dish started to charge and in the bleak darkness of the battle raging outside the ship a blue mist began to form at a circumference twice the Sera’s size.

Light suddenly started swirling rapidly though out the mist like the formation of a miniature galaxy. They were like tiny stars blinking and turning around the heart of the mist at ever growing speed.

Soon where once there was inordinate chaos there was discipline as the lights turned in to the centre. They were compressing, forcing the down to a single brilliant beam.

He could do it, he realised that now, but he realised many more things that he’d missed. All this time he was the one who’d not been fighting. He’d been mapping out the design of one of the most powerful theoretical technologies ever conceived to design a shield.

He laughed with the delight of a madman as he considered that now he was the one who could build a Varion based weapon. They’d all probably think he was crazy, but this area was disserted now and so they could think all they wanted but they couldn’t stop him.

All he needed was to press this one little button and his horribly destructive dream would be a redeeming reality. Yet as he raised his hand to the button, his wrist suddenly refused to move.

“No, please not now,” he begged the Fates. His breathing became heavy as he tried desperately to override the curse of the peaceful man.

The ship shook around him with the last hit it could take and he fought every instinct he’d ever had. This was right, it had to be, but his hand refused to move.

He took the wrist in one hand as he wrestled violently to strangle it into submission. Collapsing to his knees he pitifully began to beg.

“Help me…”

This was agony and fury as his mind tried desperately to lose every limitation that he’d faced in his life. It felt like he was being ripped apart from within as he was assaulted by so many memories of a life lived without power. So much pain, so much hatred without meaning. Then in the distance he heard her sweet voice.

In an instant love conquered every weakness as he screamed and his fist smashed down, almost disintegrating the button.

Then, like a flaming arrow the Varion particles pierced at impossible speed into the distance.

Yet as they moved they passed every Domox ship, leaving each unharmed.

“Dengar to bridge,” he said, as he slapped his hand on his combadge and began to run again.

[Uh…Danger? You missed.] Liis replied in disbelief, unsure of just what she should say.

“No, I didn’t.” Rada assured with what was almost pleasure as the particles flew towards their target, the very heart of the portal.

-=Other side of the Portal=-

As Rada’s weapon penetrated the alien’s side of the universe it penetrated into their very Sun. Rapidly it began to turn, gaining momentum as their Sun’s shape started to change.

The massive star began to oscillate, growing and shrinking as the gravity throughout the entire solar system began to change. Like it was just a toy for Rada to play with as he pleased.

A screeching alarm cut into Nicholas Lassiter’s ears as he felt the walls around him begin to violently move and the whole alien facility started to shake.

-=Main Bridge; USS Serendipity=-

“The portal’s starting to destabilise.” Reece reported, adding with disbelief. “Enemy ships are turning back!”

“I’m guessing they don’t want to be stuck here with us.” TC observed, which Reece make an exaggerated gesture indicating he found that equally unbelievable.

“Wait.” Liis objected through the still open comm channel, as she was struck by a horrifying realisation. “If we lose that portal then the Zenith’s crew will be trapped on the other side. Dengar, is there anyway to stop it?”

“Yes, there is.” He replied with manic enthusiasm as he charged off the turbolift doors and onto the bridge.

He was an utter mess with uniform in a shambles, bloodshot eyes, and wobbling legs that could barely support his frame. But just one look at his face told Liis he was sure he knew exactly what he was doing.

“I need to contact the enemy. Can you set that up?”

Liis didn’t need to question why as she hit her badge again.

Serendipity to Zenith.”

[Zenith here. Are y’alright?] Keiran asked with gratitude as he thought he may never hear his wife’s voice again.

“We’re fine. Is Vol on the bridge?”

[I’m here, Captain.]

“I need you to communicate with the Domox right now.” She demanded.

[I can make them hear me.] Vol advised, [I can’t promise they’ll listen.]

“I have a feeling they’ll listen to this.” Rada replied with determination and insane delight as he stepped quickly down to watch the action on the large view screen. “Tell them, they will stop whatever is they’re doing to Wren, break off their attack on our ships and return every single member of the Zenith’s crew. If they ask why then tell them I’m the only one who knows how to prevent the very imminent destruction of everything they hold dear.”

-=Main Bridge; USS Zenith=-

Vol couldn’t help but feel like he’d missed a large part of their communication but that didn’t stop him from trying. He opened his mind and began to stretch out towards them, repeating Rada’s message verbatim.

It was exhausting, reaching out for them and could have taken an hours to track them down. Yet instantly his eyes flicked open as from the feeling of the darkness he came to one inescapable conclusion..

“They’ve severed communication.”

-=Other side of the Portal=-

As the last ship passed through the portal their Sun was already breaking out of control. Immeasurable pressure bubbled just beneath the surface as it shrank and grew; like the chest of a dying man as he took his desperately fought for, final breaths.

Then with one last gasp the Sun expanded rapidly in a violent explosion of white consuming in its path. Mighty ships and countless lives were dissolved as this light expanded into infinity.

-=Main Bridge; USS Serendipity=-

Suddenly Rada’s manic expression dissolved to one of dead seriousness.

“No, no, no,” he begged as he knocked the Ensign away from the console nearest him and desperately tried to undo what he'd just done.

Yet as the portal winked out of existence, a single tiny and blinding beam of white light extended through to leave no doubt what had just happened and that there was no going back.

He was supposed to have been able to save their Sun, this was never what he’d meant to occur. He couldn’t even break into tears as he muttered in disbelief about what he’d just done.

“I…I killed them all. I…”

Violently he began to shake and though his combadge repeatedly chirped with the doctor trying to tell him that Wren had mysteriously stabilised he couldn’t hear a thing.

He just stood there shaking in a catatonic state, staring at the screen before him at the most evil of things; at the reflection of himself.

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


NRPG: This has to be one of the best mission finales in the entire history of Star Trek RPG. Thank you, Rada.

Please feel free to direct all fan mail for Mr. Denger to this address- it will be forwarded to him.

...and there are a lot of ends to tie up, so stay tuned for that.

At this time I'd like to especially thank Dengar, Tryst, and Salvek publicly for their development of the timeline behind the scenes that was crucial to the success of this plot arc and also for all of the perfect little details they worked in to make it truly live.

Each of you contributed so much that made this incredible- Vol, Nick Lassiter and Rada all, each in turn stole, and made the show.

This is what team writing is all about, and what a team we've got. ~ZL

904: The Meaning of the Voice: One

by Rada Dengar
Concurrent With and after Day of Reckoning

-=Office of the Chief Engineer, USS Serendipity=-


The voice was so desperate and fearful, never stopping for a moment from calling his name.


He felt it pulling on his mind, trying to drag him back to the depths of consideration. He forced his hands into a vice like grip over his ears.


It was a horrifying temptress, like a flame that so enchanted the moth that it’d fly to its demise.. Yet here, it was the flame that would be extinguished by the mere beating of the moth’s wings if it just stopped struggling to get away; leaving nothing but lonely darkness and the cold where once the flame had brought all warmth.


Blocking his ears was having no effect. He began to loudly sing, almost scream, songs the meanings of which he’d long since forgotten. It didn’t matter what they were as long as they’d let him keep his thoughts here on the rapidly changing screen before him and he didn’t allow himself to slip back into that world so tempting where she still had solid form.


That voice. It was so pure, so clean, that even as the words from his songs became muffled by his hands beyond any drop of comprehension, that one inescapable word still echoed as clearly as the sound of distant bell travelling swiftly through dead, still air. Surely this was proof that it had to be in his mind; yet the louder it became the surer he was that it couldn’t be.

There was a time not so long ago, a vast stretch of time he wondered how he’d ever been able to last, when the two of them had been split into two initial yet hollow, separate parts. He was alone during this time, far too alone for his sanity to keep strong, and there were nights when he found himself trapped in some slither of a bed looking up into where the sky should be and using all his might to try to recapture just for a second her beautiful voice in his mind. He could never do it.

His mind could create from the most elaborate of fantasy to the most sophisticated of designs, yet recreating something so purely real was far beyond his abilities to imagine. As he looked at the screen before him where all the numbers seemed to meld into one he knew there were a lot of things beyond his abilities. That voice was her, and very soon it’d be a voice he’d never hear again.


He felt the pull momentarily weakening. The light of his life at first eclipsed would be soon and eternally extinguished by these vicious cowards that had made themselves his enemy.

The great irony was that they were so different, he and them. He’d once been so frightened of the telepathic mind, that it’d almost crippled him. He’d never have become so disciplined at deluding the world if not for that fear. A true curiosity that his view should change so drastically when he simply fell in love.


The tug was getting harder as strength surged back to its bones. It felt like two hands around gripped tightly around his neck yet as he struggled against it he knew one of them was his own.

Both hands were shaking as he and the voice were both screaming and he just couldn’t take it anymore.

-=Main Bridge, USS Serendipity=-

As Zanh Liis stepped out onto the bridge of her ship with TC Blane following quickly behind the thoughts of their previous conversation were swiftly dismissed as both set their minds to battle mode.

“Report!” Liis demanded from whoever had the most useful information to give as she took her seat while Thomas relieved the ensign at his operations console.

In an instant the bridge was transformed from a collection of individuals to a single forward flowing organism with the single imperative goal of defending these ships from hostile attack.

“A single ship has just decloaked off the port side and taken what was in my opinion a pretty cheap shot.” Explained Reece, speaking first. “It’s reading identical to the ship before but with not as much as a scratched door registering. Either they build these things from kits or they can fix them a lot quicker than we can.”

Liis had been afraid he’d say something like that.

“What’s the status of our shields?”

“Shields are down to eighty percent.” Paxton Briggs advised, his eyes never leaving his console and his voice remaining controlled as he watched the Domox ship begin to turn. “The enemy vessel is coming about.”

In an instant the agile ship soared up into the air like a phoenix rising from the flame and then without a perceivable moment passing in between flipped around and began barrelling down towards the Sera at near impossible speed. Power surged into its weapons as it kept to a course straight and true, like it was just waiting to see if they’d flinch and move away.

Zanh Liis was never the type to flinch or to hesitate in her orders.

“Fire phasers and torpedos at will.”

In spite of its size Paxton knew enough about their designs already to want to hit them with everything he had.

A dozen photon torpedoes surrounded the attacking vessel and as he rerouted every single mega joule of energy to a sustained phaser aimed into its heart.

The torpedoes detonated the moment the phaser’s beam struck and the enemy was engulfed by a sea of flame so thick that it almost encapsulated the Sera along with their opponent.

A fiery Hell was created in every direction the enemy could see as the incredible energy and heat of the phasers stabbed at it like a knife driven into the very soul of the beast.

Yet this Hell was not to last forever as the flames swept rapidly away, revealing within them their enemy’s ship had remained completely unharmed.

-=Deck Eleven=-

Now it was the beast’s turn to strike back.

It discharged from its weapons of burst of energy so thick that almost cut through the Sera’s hull and the resultant vibrations rocked every inch of this vessel.

A hundred consoles erupted in sparks as power cut out to countless systems throughout the ship.

As the world around him began its descent into darkness and disarray one Angosian didn’t even notice. The shock to the environment almost knocked him to the ground but he nothing could stop him running until he saw her with his own eyes.

-=Main Bridge=-

“Shields are down to twenty percent.” Paxton advised with the ship still shaking from the onslaught as the alien vessel turned off with ease. “Damage to the enemy was negligible.”

“Bring us about.” Liis ordered, shouting over her shoulder. “Briggs, is there any chance we’ll be able to use this freezing Gamera idea any time soon?”

“Not Gamera, Godzilla.” Reece corrected before Briggs had a chance to speak, with the casual calm of a man who was either very foolish, incredibly brave, or both.

Before he could continue with an explanation about how Gamera should be killed he was cut off by Commander Salvek’s arrival on the bridge.

“Whatever oversized creature Mister Reece believes we’re fighting, I believe we may have the answer. We think this is the location of their environmental controls,” he announced, handing a PADD he’d been carrying Paxton Briggs, who was starting to feel somewhat like this conversation was just something taking place around him. “However, I must stress that we are in no way certain.”

“Good enough for me.” Liis replied with a nod. “Relay to the Alchemy and the Zenith that they’re to target those coordinates and hit them with everything they've got.”


As Rada finally arrived in the Sera’s sickbay he wanted nothing more than to run to the woman he loved. He didn’t care about what anyone had to say to him, because until he saw her no words could matter.

Yet he stopped in his tracks as by some cruel trick of fate he caught a sight out the corner of his eye.

It was Doctor Lance Hartcort, and there was a look in his eyes which seemed to burn through Rada’s soul leaving only frozen ash where it’d been. It was a look of failure and of painful sympathy which told Rada that there’d be no hope left when the body where the woman he’d once loved had been.

The good Doctor had just been about to contact him, to tell him he had to get up here now because there wasn’t any time left to wait., and knowing that it’d just have guaranteed him the chance to watch her die Rada wondered what sort of person the doctor really could have been.

“I’m sorry Chief.” Hartcort said softly. This part of the job harder even than watching them die. “There’s nothing more I can do. She doesn’t have much longer.”

Once more Hartcort considered asking Rada personally about putting Wren in the pattern buffer but she’d just taken a turn for the worst and now he didn’t believe that could do anymore than temporarily sustain her. He refused to give him that false hope.

Rada wanted so much at this time to just run out of here, to preserve in his mind the impossible image of her still alive and well. Yet the voice in his thoughts was relentless, forcefully reminding him she was still in there somewhere and that it was time to say goodbye.

Slowly he walked past the doctor. He wasn’t sure just how long the walk took as she grew from what seemed like a dot in the distance to a lifeless body before him but he was sure when he arrived that the voice in his head had been hers.

It had gone quiet now, but the sense of her mind was so much stronger; as was the knowledge of just how weak she’d become.

Before she’d been connected up to so many machines and he’d noted that he couldn’t see Wren in there. Yet now here she was unobscured, just a pale woman on a bed in loose hospital gown rags, and with nothing to hide behind he knew it was definitely her. It wasn’t much of her, but it was the last tiny ember where the flame had been and he could feel it going out before his eyes.

Taking her frozen, listless fingers in his hand and looking down to where her beautiful eyes should be, he couldn’t allow as much as a thought to enter his mind. Reality was far too harsh for him to face at a time like this. That wall was finally here.

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

903: Continental Breakfast

by Gem Lassiter and Michael Blakeney
Hours after Dinner and a Show
Concurrent with Day of Reckoning

-=USS Gauntlet=-

Gem Lassiter was now entirely certain that she was about to lose her mind.

The Gauntlet had dropped out of Warp inexplicably hours ago, and no one had, for the longest time, seemed to be able to tell her exactly when they'd be capable of initiating the drive again.

It was only after she gave an intense, threatening, and darkly motivational speech that the entire engineering department and the rest of the senior staff would be talking about for years to come-- warning them of potential reassignments and other penalties that they would incur if one perfectly styled hair of Nicholas' head was harmed because they'd arrived late to the scene-- did they truly find the inspiration they needed to work even harder to fix the problem.

Now the drive again hummed deeply with life, and though finally back on the right course, Gem found she was still frozen where she stood. She continued staring out the windows of the Ready Room she'd taken over and set up shop in the moment she'd awoken.

She berated herself.

If only she'd known that the Gauntlet was going to falter as it had, she'd have considered the idea of letting Lair take the Alchemy back to the fight.

Prototype, and if need be, Alchemy Project be damned.

They hadn’t found him yet, and they needed to find him now.

The longer this crisis dragged on, the more she feared for Nicholas' safety.

Reports coming fro the Serendipity had grown increasingly sporadic and each successive one contained less and less actual information. Lassiter knew for a fact that there were things that both Zanh, and O'Sullivan were keeping from her, and she thought to herself that they, too, had better watch their step.

Years of friendship aside, even O’Sullivan may have to suffer the consequences of any bad decisions he may be making now, if those decisions cost the life of her son.

She closed her eyes, as thinking of Nicholas, and the smile that he had so often shown her, returned her to the smile of another man; the one who had fathered him.

-=Flashback; 2357, Current Timeline

Residence of Gemini Lassiter, on Earth=-

Michael Blakeney raised his eyes toward the window. The lids felt weighted with lead, and his vision had long since become bleary. But that was to be expected from a man who hadn't had any useful sleep in well over two days now, standard Earth time.

He glanced over at her.

She was still fast asleep. She'd shifted position and the blanket he'd thrown over her hours before after she’d drifted off slid slowly and artfully from her shoulder.

Her hair, which had long since rebelled against pull of the barrette that held it in place, framed her cheekbones.

She sighed softly, and he hoped that whatever she was dreaming of, that it was something good.

How someone who was so maddeningly combative and frustratingly stubborn when awake could look so innocent and gentle when sleeping, he'd never know.

He wondered if this was a particular sort of alchemy that this one woman possessed, or if it indeed was an ability that existed in many, if not all, of those of the fairer sex.

He wouldn't know.

The fact was, while he'd spent many memorable nights sleeping with women, he hadn't really slept with them, or more to the point, observed them sleep at all. Even the few he remembered having stayed the night in its entirety were still a mystery to him now; he’d always be out cold long before they would.

That being the case, watching one of these feminine creatures sleep now, especially one with which he had not yet engaged in...well...the not sleeping part, fascinated him.

He shook himself free from the sight of her as he realized that time was getting away from them.

If he didn't have a location to start with when she awoke, then she would likely think of committing, if not actually perpetrating, physical harm against his person for having allowed her to fall asleep at all.

They had argued over it.

He had insisted that it was a waste of time and strength for both of them to stay up all night.

She had instantly wanted to go off after his lead, doing the footwork of finding the location of the Tetratinium he'd detected herself, with or without him.

That would have been a waste of time and energy, and one that they couldn't afford. Time was of the essence, that part she had right.

But, Michael had thought, why waste time and energy on footwork when you can let a computer do the same work for you?

The trouble was, the computer he needed to do that work most efficiently was something that she was not supposed to know even existed.

He watched as the location that they sought flashed clearly on the screen before him, and his eyes jolted back to her as she began to stir; the red light from the display reaching her vision somehow even though sleep.

Nothing gets past this one, he thought.

He wondered how long he could keep the facts of his situation from her, and knew that he’d have to really watch his step.

He knew that the clock on that particular battle of wits was running out faster, and ticking louder, than any other deadline that he was currently fighting to beat.

He quickly closed the case of the instrument he held in his hands, concealing the screen inside what looked like a standard TI issue tricorder.

He put it into the pocket of the jacket he'd finally taken off hours ago.

He stood and slowly rose, stretching tight muscles and tired limbs and trying to rouse himself to a more lucid level of functioning.

He glanced over at Gem again. He stepped closer to her, tempted momentarily to smooth back one of the long dark curls that fell against her collarbone and continued down as far as his eye could follow it, nearly to her waist.

Why it bothered him so much that this one hadn't simply crumbled under the power of his charms as the others all had still bothered him. But he hadn't given up just yet.

There may yet be time to learn all there was to know about her after the work was done.

Seconds turned to moments as he continued to stare at her, and finally he realized what he needed to bring him back to a more functional condition.

A very cold shower.

He paused as he walked past the door leading to the balcony. It had rained most of the night, in fact he was certain that it was the sound of the drops falling on the roof above that had lulled her to sleep to begin with.

She'd lost her battle against sleep as she’d been watching her own tricorder process a seemingly endless number of possible coordinates for the item that they sought, but the problem was that hers was limited in ways that his was not.

His tricorder was...special order.

He now had a very narrow search area for them to explore, and the time had come.

The sky was just beginning to flicker with the first hint of daylight; there was still time for them to hit the streets while most of the city fought off the effects of last night's parties in deep, almost death-like Sunday morning slumber.

The sky was, right now, as he'd never seen it.

The clouds that had brought so much rain were completely gone- the atmosphere was completely clear, the ceiling unlimited.

What stopped him was that there was no distinguishable point at which the arrival of the sun could be determined on the horizon.

Instead, the sunrise was purely colorless; and in an instant it seemed that the world awoke and moved from night's concealing darkness to the revealing intensity of day.

Suddenly, it was simply morning.

He moved to the replicator and punched in a few simple commands by hand.

He was loathed to ever dress in such common clothing, but the times demanded it, and so classic black pants and shirt would serve his need of wardrobe well.

She was already dressed, as she had fallen asleep in those same shapeless khakis and the men’s white button down shirt. Though, since wrinkles had appeared in both as she slept in them, he was certain that if she had a spare moment to do it, she would insist in changing into a freshly pressed version of the same exact, and exactly sensible ensemble.

He took his clothes and headed to her shower. Turning the temperature dial downward as far as it would go, he inhaled sharply and muttered a whispered, religiously based diatribe of profanity as the waves instantly seemed to freeze his skin. The shock was definitely enough to wake him and get his mind off of what it had been on as he’d been staring at her before. He stayed in the cold as long as he could tolerate it before he reached quickly back to the controls and gently eased them up to a more pleasant, if not truly warm, setting.

The faint hum of the shower's wave generator as the temperature changed was finally enough to break Gem from her gentle, dreamless sleep.

In an instant she jumped up from the couch where she lay and repeatedly started to curse.

How had she ever let this happen?

He was certainly gone, undoutedly taken the information on the lead and ran off on his own.

He wanted the credit for breaking the case, she was certain of that. After a promotion, maybe; or at the very least, the bragging rights.

It was only after another moment of continuing to condemn her own stupidity for having allowed this to happen while self-directed anger washed away any calm the unwanted rest may have brought that she realized that he was standing directly in front of her.

This time he was the one wearing a towel.

In truth, Michael had no reason whatsoever to put on such a display for her other than the sheer, egotistical pleasure of doing so. Which was of course as good a reason as any. His clothing was quite nearby in the bathroom, he could've easily dressed before he exited it.

That, however, was not how he operated.

Once he knew she was awake, he knew there was more fun to be had.

He swaggered around her in a complete circle to allow her the chance to take him in from every angle and then slowly sauntered to the replicator and ordered two cups of strong, hot coffee.

He approached her again, as she stood there satisfyingly paralyzed with shock just as he'd intended.

Her arm, extended with hand raised in protest, was in perfect position for him to simply give her the mug by the handle and then make as dramatic an exit as his entrance.

"Don't burn your mouth," he warned, as he continued on his way. Her eyes followed him still; she was powerless to stop them.

He grinned broadly from ear to ear; now he really was pleased with himself. He winked at her and added, "It's hot," widening his eyes.

She jumped as the next sound she heard was the closing of the bathroom door.

That was when she got angry.

She set the cup of coffee aside and, with no thought given to her normal morning routine –an elaborate and well thought out plan that was quite detailed and usually followed in order and to the letter according to the inalterable mental checklist she had created years ago-- she rushed after him.

She balled her hand into a fist and pounded on the door. "What the hell did you do, Blakeney? I thought we agreed that we were going to work together. That no one was going to get any sleep until we found what we were looking for!"

He opened the door and poked his head out, a feigned quizzical expression etched into his features. "Why should two of us look when only one of us needed to? I’m surprised at you. As logical as you are, you should instantly have realized how inefficient that would be.”

Gem bristled, and her face reddened. If there was anything she hated as much as she thought she hated this man, it was inefficiency.

“Besides, Gem, you're far too hard on yourself. You'd gone a lot longer without sleep than I had at that point. For you to rest so you’d be on top of your game when we went out into the field was the only logical option. You’d have known that if you hadn’t been so flustered by exhaustion."

“I was not flustered.” She protested, reddening further.

“Yes you were.”

She scoffed.

“Besides, you looked so...content,” he mumbled, much more genuinely as he remembered for an instant of near disbelief the way that she had looked when there were no barriers of responsibility there. “I couldn't bear to wake you."

"Content?" She snarled, as the door closed again. "I looked CONTENT?" She actually stamped her foot in frustration. "My career is hanging by a very thin and fraying thread. I have no idea how to follow the one lead that you found, and I just wasted three hours SLEEPING on the job!"

"Well, I wanted to waste it not sleeping but you said you weren't interested in that either." He opened the door again, just enough to toss his towel out at her. It hit her in the chest and she looked down at it, blinking repeatedly. “That’s the only reason you were able to resist me.” He opined with maddening self-assuredness. “You were simply too tired for the exertion.”

She growled and carried the towel to the laundry hamper in the bedroom before stomping back and continuing to argue with him through the door. "We wasted all night!"

"No, Gemini. We did not." He opened the door, peered out of the narrow opening he’d created once more, and he gave her that infuriating smile again. "You slept, which given how cranky you were, was the most productive use of your time. I kept working, and not ten minutes ago I found exactly what we were looking for."

She jumped back as he swung the door open wide now and appeared, fully dressed except for shoes. He nodded to her. "I was just about to wake you. With a kiss you would’ve remembered for the rest of your life. I’m so sorry you missed it."

Gem snorted.

"Drink your coffee." He gestured toward her discarded beverage with the mug that he held in his hand. "Today is going to be a very busy day."


//// Gemini Lassiter
Director,The Alchemy Project
And former TI Agent


Lt. Commander Michael Blakeney
Temporal Investigations

902: Day of Reckoning

by TC Blane and Zanh Liis
Awhile after Down Cold


-=USS Serendipity=-

For the better part of an hour, the crews of the Serendipity, the Zenith, and the Alchemy had been searching the schematics of the Domox ship, trying to isolate the controls for the life support system.

Like searching for, not a needle, but instead a fine sliver of glass in the proverbial haystack the work was intense, it was painstaking and it was maddening.

Zanh Liis finally rose from her chair and tilted slightly backwards, trying to restore blood flow to the straining, tense muscles of her back. "Status?" She asked, simply to break the haunting silence that had begun to weigh on all present.

“Shields are holding.” Pax reported as he floated between stations, making his way to the damage control monitor.

“Repair crews have assessed the hull damage. Minor, no breaches. Repairs to internal systems are progressing on schedule.” He glanced over again at the tactical monitor. "Still no sign of the enemy.”

“Thank you Mr. Briggs.” Liis replied. “Keep looking.”

Suddenly TC Blane was at the captain's side. “A moment of your time?” He asked softly.

Liis blinked, and then glanced at him sideways. “Now, Thomas?”

TC nodded.

She paused for a moment before allowing TC to lead her to a somewhat quiet corner of the bridge. He knew she would not want to leave for a moment under current circumstances, so a corner would have to do.

“What is it?” Liis asked as she kept a wary eye on the viewscreen.

“I’m getting disturbing reports from the security officers posted in main engineering about our Chief Engineer's behavior.” She took note of the deep concern etched across his face. “They are saying that he has not emerged from his office for quite some time, even during the fighting. That he's not working at all on trying to exploit this potential weakness in their ship even though-"

A pained expression crossed the captain’s face, and she interrupted.

"He's busy."

“Captain, I know Rada is under an intense amount of personal pressure, perhaps it is best if he is relived from duty for the time being?”

Liis sighed and folded her arms across her chest. She had hoped to avoid this conversation.

Salvek was too busy still trying to figure out how they might be able to collapse the portal to have it with her himself, as she had expected he might.

Additionally, the Vulcan was struggling to remain focused considering that the Alchemy had just reappeared in harm's way, with his wife in command.

With her Executive Officer unable to question her decision to leave Rada where he was, she had truly hoped that the Angosian would've emerged from his world of equations and theories by now so she wouldn't have to try to explain this to Blane.

She was his captain, and she knew that she could simply say that the decision was made and not up for discussion and he'd have no choice but to drop the subject. The worst he could do, for now, was to file a formal protest.

But Liis kept thinking that even if he did object that strongly, that protest may never reach Command because their time was running out and she was certain that the Domox would soon return with reinforcements.

She felt that if anything could help turn the battle in their favor, short of Lassiter changing her mind and bringing the whole of the fleet with her-- if she ever did show up herself-- was whatever it was that was rattling around inside the head of Rada Dengar.

Blane waited a moment for her to gather her thoughts before forcing the issue. At last, he felt he had to repeat himself to impress upon her the seriousness of the situation.

"Captain, Dengar should be here at a time like this. On the bridge. He is not."

Liis looked up at him finally, her eyes clear and calm.

No, she didn't have to discuss this with him. But the man wasn't just her Second Officer, he was her friend, and she would give him the respect that he had long ago earned.

She chose to answer him by posing a question. "When was it, Thomas?"

Blane tilted his head, confused. "When was what, Captain?"

"Your personal day of reckoning?"

Blane opened his mouth to speak, but did not. He was not sure his response was appropriate.

His day of reckoning was long ago, in what seemed a different life. Yet it still echoed in his mind and dreams as if it happened yesterday.

"Captain," Blane hesitated still, responding softly. "That was a different situation..."

"How was it different? Was it dangerous? Was it a situation where others were depending on you? Could it have cost them everything if you were wrong?” She became aware now that her voice was no longer a whisper, and that her words had caught the attention of those around them.

Her eyes warned them to return to their work, and so they did.

Whispering again, she continued.

“Because that's how it was for me. But I had to go with what I knew was right. I had to listen to my heart. I had to try."

TC looked away for a moment, reflecting back. He swallowed hard.

“People died because I was right and command was wrong.” He looked into her eyes again. “I disobeyed orders and seven people died. It would have been five hundred and sixty four if I had followed orders.”

He shook his head. “But I don’t see what that has to do with this.” He changed the subject. “Rada is obviously distracted, leaving the critical repairs of the ship to junior officers, but more than that, he's not helping us follow the one lead that we have to go on. He needs to be replaced.”

The changing landscape of Zanh's features and the culminating storm in her eyes told him that she was very much opposed to that course of action.

He held up his hand, the gesture silencing her before she could speak. “For the time being, at least, send Briggs down there. You can continue to make the excuse that Rada is working on some special project and then leave him be to do whatever it is that his is really doing. But we need someone down there in case things go south from here.”

Zanh took a deep breath, and for a moment turned away to gather her composure.

She'd never seen Blane raise a hand to stop her from speaking that way before, and it got under her skin.

From anyone else, such a display would have immediately resulted in their being ejected from the bridge with the order that they go cool off,

If such a gesture came from an officer who wasn't a member of her Senior Staff, the display would've resulted in the order that they pack their bags and enjoy the rest of their career under the command of another captain.

But this was TC Blane, and Liis had learned that when she least wanted to listen to what he was saying, that was when it was most vitally important that she hear him out.

On one hand, she could understand that he was only thinking of the safety of the crew. On the other, she knew that Josiah Barlow and the others had the repairs well in hand. That Salvek, Reece, Briggs, Keiran, and many others were working the lead Vol had given to the best of their ability.

Most of all, though, she knew Rada wouldn't react well in the moment to anyone staring over his shoulder; waiting for him to make a mistake or critical oversight.

Zanh exhaled slowly, then inhaled again. "Briggs." She turned to Paxton.

"Yes, Sir?"

"We'll be right back. Don't let Reece break anything while I'm gone."

"Yes, Sir."

"Hey." Reece objected, his one word protest and the accompanying pout unnoticed by all around him as they continued to concentrate on the tasks at hand.

Zanh led the way into her ready room, and Blane followed without her needing to ask. The moment that the doors closed behind him, she spun.

"Mister Blane, do you think I'm fit to command this ship?"


"Answer the question." She folded her arms and propped one boot over the other, leaning against the wall. "Am I fit to command?"

"Why wouldn't you be?"

"Because Keiran is over there." She nodded her head in the direction of the view port, referring to the Zenith beyond it.

"He's in danger. Does that render me unfit because I think about it as I'm going about everything else I have to do? That it's running in a loop in the back of my-"

"Keiran is not currently on life support in Sickbay!" Blane thundered suddenly, in an uncharacteristic show of emotion. “And you are not holed up in your ready room like a groundhog afraid of its shadow.”

Liis knew that to the outside observer, it may seem as if Dengar was hiding out of fear. But she also knew that, whatever he'd been afraid of in his life in the past or perhaps even still was, that this time it was determination and not fear that was controlling Dengar’s actions.

Still, she chose for the moment to continue with her previous train of thought.

"There are half a dozen doctors back on Earth including one Tucker Brody PhD who would tell you that I'm unfit to command ever again because of that kind of trauma!" Liis argued. "But I must be fit to command because Thomas Cassius Blane would never serve under anyone who wasn’t. He cares too much about his crew. He cares too much about duty, and honor, and the very moral fiber of Starfleet itself-"

"As does my captain. Though she hates to admit it.” Blane countered. “So it's time to do our duty to Starfleet and this crew and remove Dengar from his."

"It's time to let the man have his day!" Zanh's hand flew upward and her fist smacked the wall in frustration. "He's got to carry out his duty to this ship, our crew, and to his family in his own way."

"You didn't see him on Lethus!" TC blurted suddenly.

Now, Zanh realized, she was getting to the heart of the matter.

"When Lair was injured, Dengar barely kept it together and she's only a friend. Now we're talking about Wren." He shook his head. "I don't know if anyone could perform under such extreme stress. Dengar is a good engineer, but when the pressure is on-"

"But he did keep it together on Lethus." Liis stated, and Blane inhaled slowly and deeply, his jaw setting as stone. "When the pressure was on, he's never let us down. Has he?"

Blane exhaled heavily.

"Has he?" Zanh repeated. "Has his hesitation to use violence as quickly or as easily as the rest of us ever cost a single life?"

"No." TC admitted.

"Then what am I supposed to do, Thomas? Go down there and demand he weld conduits back together, a job that any rookie engineer can do, just because it looks better for him to be visibly doing it? Or should I let him continue with his work because I think it may be the only thing that might save us from suffering the fate of the Zenith's crew?"

She closed her eyes as a chill ran through her, head to toes. Softly, she added, "If anything can."

Blane was silent a moment, then he ran a hand back across the bristle of his brush-cut hair. "You really think that he's on to something?"

"Yeah." Zanh thought back to that earlier discussion and Rada's equations. "I think that he is. And in the meantime, Salvek is discreetly keeping an eye on the repair teams. But they don't worry me at all. Barlow's almost as old as you and I combined. He'd be running the engineering department of any ship he wanted if he hadn't decided to put his family ahead of getting promoted. He knows what he's doing. We need Briggs here. Because we need every pair of available eyes looking for weakness in that ship."

*Every pair of available eyes,* TC thought. *Exactly why our chief engineer should be working on that task, too.*

"In case Dengar's grand plan is a wash?" Blane asked sharply.

Zanh winced and answered just as sharply. "No. In order to give Dengar every moment possible to see to it that his plan works."

"What is he working on, exactly?" Blane demanded, now crossing his arms over his chest.

"I don't know." Zanh said, simply and honestly.

TC’s raised his eyebrows questioningly. “You don’t know?"

"No. I don't know the specifics of it. What I do know is that he's chief engineer of this ship and I'm letting him do his job. He's working on something that he swears to me can tip the scales in this fight and let's face it, Thomas, it's looking pretty bleak for us at the moment. Starfleet hung us out to dry here, and even if the Gauntlet does ever show up, four ships are going to be no match for the Domox if they bring friends."

Silence condensed heavily in the air between them until the com chirped to life.

[Sickbay to the Captain.]

Liis' eyes, at once vacant and troubled, met TC's. Blane returned her stare, unflinching.

“Yes Doctor?”

[Captain…are you certain that you will not allow me to put my patient into the pattern buffer?]

Liis dropped her head to her hands as she rubbed her temples.

“I'm sorry, Lance, but I already explained to you that it's not my decision to make and Chief Dengar won't allow it. He feels very strongly about this. I won’t violate his rights by overriding his decision."

There was a long pause. So long that Liis thought that Lance had disconnected.

[Then Chief Dengar better get to Sickbay in a hurry. Wren is fading as we speak. She will not survive another ten minutes.]

“Understood.” She said softly. “Do everything else you can for her.”

The channel closed.

Liis' stomach clenched. She knew that Rada did not want to watch Wren die, but she also knew that if he wasn't there...

Blane's lips parted but before he could say anything, an explosion violently rocked the ship.

Zanh bounced off of the wall and forward into Blane, who managed to keep not only his footing, but also his captain from falling and hitting her head on the desk.

There was no more time for discussion, or debate.

The Domox had returned, and this was a day of reckoning for them all.

The clear, eerily calm voice of Paxton Briggs sounded over Zanh's badge.

[Captain to the bridge,] he requested, not knowing that she was already on her way.


Commander TC Blane
Second Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


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

901: Down Cold

by Vol Tryst and Zanh Liis
Following The Sound of Absence

-=USS Zenith=-

Vol was asked to escort the newcomer aboard the Zenith to Sickbay.

Ensign Natalie Grey had fallen back into a state of resigned fatigue, and was little more than a limp rag doll at the moment. Vol supported her with his arm and shoulder as the door to Sickbay hissed open.

She wasn't seriously injured, physically, at least. If Nicholas Lassiter had died and it happened the way she had described it, maybe Nick really had saved her life.

It was now Vol's duty to make sure that sacrifice was not in vain.

Since his last interaction with Domox, Vol had been going over every word in his mind. Analyzing the conversation again and again as if under a microscope, searching for something that might provide a hint as to the construction of their vessels; provide any exploitable weakness to give the Federation ships a fighting chance.

He soon found himself in Sickbay, still next to Natalie, trying to gently reassure her as she resumed mumbling incoherently.

Her mind, for the moment, was just as muddled as her speech, layered with too many images, thoughts and emotions all colliding at once for Vol to get a true fix on the state of her mental health.

Dr. Hartcort was still doing his best to prolong Wren Elton's life aboard the Serendipity, and the decision was made that it would be best for Grey to interact with an unknown medic as opposed to having the very first question asked of her by the Zenith's EMH be his demand to know what had happened to the rest of the crew.

The medic came forward, softly introducing himself to her by name and reassuring her that everything was going to be all right.

It quickly became apparent that not only didn't Grey believe him, but that she still had some fight left in her.

The moment she realized the medic was trying to touch her, she screamed and tried to resist. She was out of her mind with panic, and after a brief physical struggle to restrain her, the decision was made that the best option they had was to sedate her for the time being, and wait until they could get her to the Sera to try to treat her fully.

Vol, weary from the struggle, slumped down into the nearest chair and sighed. He rested his chin on his closed fists and wondered how in the worlds she fit into all of this.

It was about then that he felt what could best be described as a sensation of hearing the frantic footsteps of a child running around, looking for their mother.

The Domox had returned and were clawing about telepathically, trying to find him.

The Counselor had sealed his mind to detection, but he saw no risk of harm in another discussion with them at this juncture. More over, he saw only potential gain from it considering that he couldn't make sense of the information he already had.

Vol closed his eyes as he let those who sought him, find him. The Domox, the same as before, pounced upon his mind like someone who'd just found the last person in a game of Hide and Seek.

*You are a difficult telepath to locate.* The Domox in his mind sneered.

*I would have it no other way.* Vol was coy, and knew that it would incite the rage that followed.

"Haccch!* The Domox hissed like a snake out of frustration and anger. *You will tell us how you can hide yourself from us.*

Vol remained silent. After a moment, he felt that his conversation-partner was experiencing pain in one of his limbs. Probably a hand from hitting something hard. Vol couldn't help but smirk.

*You enjoy my anguish?* The Domox responded angrily.

*You are the one who is throttling our ships by the throat, so forgive me if I take some--*

*NO!* The Domox raged once more. *You violent telepaths are all the same, you ask for forgiveness after you mock and injure others. This justifies your extermination, and I will personally volunteer to terminate your life myself!*

Vol wanted to retort with 'And who's your executioner, seeing as 'all telepaths must die?' but Vol bit his telepathic tongue.

Something in the Domox's last communication housed more than just a feeling of justified vengeance; Vol got a glimpse of a history of some kind. Something that had happened a very long time ago.

*No more words, Betazoid?* It snarled again, *The Domox have shed our old oppressors in the past like a dead skin, and you will be no different.*

Vol slipped out of this discourse faster than a pilot could've done by activating the ejection seat. Immediately the Counselor was on his feet and walking with purpose and determination quickly toward the bridge.


"Commander!" Vol said once the turbo-lift doors opened.

"Counsel'r." O'Sullivan stopped reading the PADD in his hand and gave Vol his attention.

"This species. The Domox. They're cold-blooded."

The interim Captain of the Zenith raised an eyebrow. The Counselor seemed out of breath, and eager to share this information. Still, Keiran couldn't help but feel that..."This is no' new inf'rmation, Counsel'r."

Now it was Vol's turn to look perplexed.

"No, you misunderstand me Captain. I mean this literally." The Counselor marched his way to Keiran's side, clearly in the throes of some kind of epiphany. "They are reptilian, they are cold-blooded as opposed to warm-blooded."

Keiran now thought that Vol and he were on the same train, but that still didn't explain why this track had been laid in the first place.

"Ya've been talkin' to said reptiles again, then?"

Vol's eyes said all that the Betazoid wanted to: 'Oiy'.

"Commander O'Sullivan, please, don't you understand what this means?"

Clearly the Irishman did not.

Vol swung around to look at Lt. Tubman.

"I want Reece, now!"

Tubman's eyes shifted quickly to Keiran, and O'Sullivan nodded to allow the order to be executed.

Vol stared intently at the view-screen in desperate anticipation. He was careening down a mental fast-track with his foot to the floor, and so needed someone who could, metaphorically speaking, drive as fast as he could to keep up.

If Vol could make Reece understand, and if the Trill agreed with him, then the both of them would be able to explain to the others.

[You rang?] Zanh joked wearily, in a confused tone as the view-screen blinked onto the bridge.

"Don'ta 'sk meh." Keiran gestured to Vol as the Betazoid approached the viewer.

"Reece." Vol demanded.

[Good to see you too, Tryst...] Liis muttered under her breath, as Reece's head snapped upward and he greeted Vol.


"So you're sitting in a bar and in walks Godzilla."

Reece blinked once, then a second time. [Are you sure it wasn't Mothra? What about Gamera? I hear he's really neat, and that he's filled with turtle meat...]

Vol continued on, undaunted. "You're sitting in a bar, and in walks Godzilla. He's pissed off and looking for trouble. Soon, a fight breaks out."

[What am I drinking?]

Vol just ran with it.

"It doesn't matter, it's tossed from your hand."

Dabin's eyes widened.

[What was I drinking?]

"A Shirley Temple."

[I love those! With extra cherries? I always ask for-]

[REECE!] Zanh bellowed sharply, and Vol watched everyone on both bridges flinch at the sound of her voice. Everyone, that was, with the exception of Salvek, TC Blane and Keiran O'Sullivan, all who were clearly immune to the effect by this point. [Focus!]

"Yes it had extra cherries. Now it's on the floor." Vol continued patiently, as if speaking to a very small child.

[No way! Godzilla spilled it? I'll kill that overgrown, scaly son of a...]

Zanh was still completely lost, and additionally her headache was returning. [Gentlemen, any time you feel you're ready to enlighten--]

The Captain was promptly ignored by Vol but Reece seemed to come back to the moment. [Yeah, Vol, wind it up, will ya? We don't have all day!]

Vol simply carried on. "Exactly! You want to hurt the big guy, but how?"

Dabin didn't ponder too long. [I guess kicking and punching would do no good.]

Vol shook his head.

[Yeah...okay...I didn't think so. Well, it's a lizard, so I'd beam that sucker to the Antarctic and point and laugh as it--]

"Dabin!" Vol interrupted. "The Domox."

[What about them?] Dabin asked curiously, his face shining brightly with innocent ignorance as to what they had to do with Godzilla and his lost Shirley Temple with extra cherries.

It was at this point that Zanh dropped her head into her hands and just sighed.

"Godzilla," Vol concluded, "...meets a shrink ray."

It took a moment, and only a moment, for Dabin to take a sharp intake of air and for Vol's lips to crack a very wide smile.

[Captain! They're cold-blooded.] Dabin shouted.

[And this helps us how?] Zanh demanded.

Instantly, TC Blane leaped up from his chair and over to Briggs at Tactical. Briggs, already on to the idea here, had brought up the schematics that the computer had been able to create of the Domox vessel from information gathered during the battle.

Aboard the Zenith, Keiran was already conferring with Tubman, seeking out the same information that Blane was on the Sera.

"It helps us in that if we can find and target some weakness in life support or the environmental controls of the Domox ship," Blane explained, "we might slow them down enough to stand a chance against them when they come back."


Lt. Vol Tryst Ship's Counselor
USS Serendipity NCC-2012
(currently aboard the Zenith)


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

NRPG: If you didn't get my obscure Gamera reference...I highly recommend this link My favorite part starts at about two minutes, fifty seconds in.

And...Happy Birthday, Counselor. We love you. ~ZL