928: Time to Go

by Rada Dengar
Following Diverging Roads

-=Quarters of the Captain, USS Serendipity=-

It was quite a strange moment in Zanh Liis’ life as she realized she was utterly unsure of what to do. She’d dressed in her uniform once again. Her hair was neat and her pips were straight. Her boots shone just as they should. Everything superficial would tell anyone passing by that here stood a Starfleet Captain.

She’d never been much for eating in the morning; life was always too busy or sleep was far too precious. Keiran had tried to change that for her and to his credit he’d sometimes succeeded, but this morning her stomach would refuse to accept any such intrusion. She doubted she’d even be able handle a cup of coffee right now.

Somehow and at some point towards the end of her morning rituals she’d simply stopped where she stood and still she remained there staring at her own reflection in the mirror. Today the uniform looked on her much more like a disguise; like she didn’t belong in it anymore. It was quite unsettling what she saw there.

Beneath a complex web of emotion, uncertainty was hiding so plainly it was as if it needed to be found. Zanh Liis hated uncertainty; had no time for it. She knew though that now she had to be uncertain because she had to make a decision, a decision for change, and if she found that decision easy then that meant she was likely making the wrong one. Naloy’s words still echoed around the back reaches of her mind. They weren’t like a memory being searched for hidden answers; they were more like words of comfort remembered in the hardest of times.

In many ways the calmness was the worst part. The chain of her earring dangled so gracefully still, for once unaffected by busy fingers absently twisting its shape. She didn’t touch it because she really didn’t need to think about her decision now. She already knew what it must be.

[Hartcort to Zanh.] The doctor’s voice abruptly ended her time of silent consideration.

“Go ahead.” She quietly responded.

[The Admiral is speaking again and now insists that you come down here.] Hartcort replied, irritated by being put in the position of either letting Gem hurt herself trying to get to Liis or risk the damage caused by inviting her down.

“I’m on my way.” Liis answered and closed the channel.

Her feet began to move but they didn’t take her anywhere. She sighed as she took one last look in the mirror hunting for the woman everyone else could still see. She couldn’t find her anymore.

-=Sickbay; USS Serendipity=-

As she stepped off the turbolift Liis immediately saw Keiran approaching from the distance. He took slow steps away from Gem and his mind was at first filled with possibilities, with consequences and with concern for what had happened to the Gem Lassiter he’d thought he knew. Then in an instant he was caught by his wife’s eyes, suddenly filled with the sadness of a woman saying goodbye, and the importance of anything else seemed to melt away around him.

“Somethin’s wrong.” He declared as he took in the woman before him.

“I’ll be okay.” Liis answered, dismissing his concern and quietly repeating. “I’ll be okay.”

She knew she had to explain to him, not that she could explain it really to herself, yet it was clear now more than ever that the words wouldn’t come. So before Keiran could say or ask anything more Liis continued walking.

All the instincts he had told him that right now his wife needed him to be there by her side. He would have taken the world of troubles if it’d just have helped steal away her pain. Yet he chose not to chase her, and was instead left to stand helplessly by, and watch as she kept on walking. Clearly Liis felt there was something she had to do before she explained and Keiran knew he had to allow her that opportunity.

As Liis stepped through into the curtained area she was met with a sight not unlike what she’d expected. Gemini Lassiter and Lance Hartcort had evidently been able to reach some sort of agreement as he’d managed to keep her in the bed. She sat with blankets thrown off her down towards the end of the bed and one leg crossed tightly over the other as if in a gesture to make sure she looked comfortable where she was. Though still in her sickbay standard gown her pips had been attached and her right hand rested on a PADD she’d acquired as if this was just another office she was to work in.

Her face however was nothing like expected. Liis had always known Gem to be a hard woman; hard to know, hard to read, and hard at times to understand. She was certainly no softer now. She was however also an unemotional woman, not quite Vulcan but with a certain control, yet where once there had been that control; a cruel smile had formed on her lips and remained as she spoke harsh words. It was as if they gave her some twisted form of pleasure. Liis could have believed that, if beneath it she couldn’t see how scared Gem was.

“Captain Zanh Liis I am hereby immediately relieving you of command of the USS Serendipity for your actions during the events which lead to the loss of the crew of the USS Zenith. You will immediately hand command of this ship and all command codes over to your first officer. If you wish to challenge this decision then a general court martial will be convened and you’ll quite likely be stripped of your rank if not face imprisonment.” Gem took great delight in saying this, so much so that she almost shook. She expected Liis to fight her but felt she couldn’t do anything to stop her now. “You’re done.”

“I won’t be challenging the decision.” Liis replied flatly, shaking her head, feeling a chill pass down her as she couldn’t quite believe she was about to utter these words. “The fact is that I came here intending to offer my resignation.”

Gem’s face seemed to drop in surprise. She’d wanted Liis to have to struggle against her and fail. Now she didn’t have any words to offer in response and could only stare. Keiran however did have words to offer.

“Liis, what are ya sayin’?” He objected, as he stepped back through the curtain, having wandered over to be outside in case Liis needed him.

“It’s okay.” Liis insisted quietly to Keiran and to herself before turning back to Lassiter. Though his automatic reaction was to try to be by her side now more than ever, something in the way she stood told Keiran that he should stay where he was and let her finish. “All I ask is that I be allowed to keep the position until the end of the day so I can finish off my one last duty as Captain of this ship.”

Though his head was swimming with concern for what would bring on this decision, Keiran still thought clearly enough to correctly surmise what that duty was.


She nodded that he was correct.

“He’s been a member of my crew for almost two years. I can not just abandon him in the state he is currently. As much as I may hate the procedure he has to undergo, if there’s any hope that it can help him then I have to make sure he does it. I owe him that much.”

Gem’s appearance was no longer at all shocked and she almost laughed as harsh eyes met the honest concern on Liis’ face. Part of her was just admiring the irony of Zanh Liis leading someone into the resequencing chair. There was however another small part held deep down which was very glad for the choice she was being given. This part knew that some other people, in fact many other people, would look at this situation and not see that Liis was to blame. If she should get before a court martial then Gem knew she couldn’t risk it going the wrong way. Here Liis was handing her a way to avoid that.

“Fine with me.” She replied sharply as she quickly turned her eyes down to her PADD in a symbol representing that she was now officially done with Liis.

Liis accepted this without emotion and turned back to Keiran.

It contrast to her calm, his face was a collage of confusion and worry, both of which Liis hoped she could soon take away. Seeing that she’d said what she had to, Keiran immediately stepped forwards to be close to her and try to understand just what had caused her to make this drastic decision. She simply took him by the hand and squeezed it tight, a small gesture to say so much.

“How long before we reach Earth?” She asked.

“Actually, we’ve just arrived.” Keiran softly reported, his eyes telling Liis that the location of the ship was the least of his concerns right now.

Liis nodded her acceptance then began to move away from Gem with Keiran keeping beside her.

“In that case," she whispered. "that means it’s time to go.”


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


NRPG: Thank you, Rada. ~ZL

927: Diverging Roads

by -=////=- Gem Lassiter


Not in vain the distance beacons. Forward, forward let us range,

Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change

~Alfred, Lord Tennyson


-=Quarters of the Captain, USS Serendipity=-


The voice was very soft and seemed so far away. In the hazy unreality of sleep, Liis dismissed it and turned over onto her back.

She pulled the blanket up tighter around her, suddenly feeling cold and sighed.

The voice was persistent, and insistent in its plea to be heard.


She groaned. The voice was so faint; barely even a whisper and she couldn't make out even the gender of the person it belonged to at first.

She kept her eyes closed and reached her arm out across the bed. Her hand fell flat down onto the mattress, revealing to her even though barely half awake that Keiran was not beside her now.

She rolled over onto her side again and grumbled without fully forming words.

"Zanh Liis, you must listen."

Now, the voice was clear to her, and she knew just what she had to do to comply with its request.

As exhausted as she was it took Liis no time at all to slip back into dreaming, and within the dream she opened her eyes and lowered her head, tilting her face down toward the upturned face of the small woman before her.

Their eyes met, Liis' deep blue ones searching the soft green eyes of her grandmother.


"You must listen, Liis."

"I am listening." Liis assured. She instinctively moved to take hold of Naloy but upon grasping at her shoulders, Liis' hands slipped right through--- the form having no substance that could be touched. As if trying to gain possession of a ray of light, Liis' fingers came together and held tightly to nothing, simply empty.

"You must listen."

"What do you want me to hear?"

Naloy finally opened her arms and with her own slight, wrinkled hands, managed to cling to Liis' though it had been impossible for Liis to initiate such contact.

Liis shivered.

"The road diverges here. Your path from the one you have traveled in company."

"Whose company?" Liis immediately began to fear that Naloy meant Keiran's, and she found that she was now trembling.

"From theirs." Naloy offered no further explanation. "It is meant to be. Do not resist. Be at peace." She released her hold of Liis' hands and stepped backwards. Her fading, shimmering image began to disappear, as it always did in these dreams after far too short a reunion. Liis felt a familiar ache seize hold of her heart, and her voice shuddered.

"Please, I need to know-" Liis stepped forward, but she was unable to gain any ground in closing the space between them, held back by something like a force field that she could not see or feel but that blocked her just the same. "Naloy, wait-"

"You have done your best." Naloy intoned serenely, as the last of her visible presence slipped away. "It is time for them to take up the work of your hands."

Liis closed her eyes. Every time she was faced again with saying goodbye, it never got any easier.

She wondered if she would ever get to the point where she could finally let her Grandmother rest.

"It is time to let go." Naloy said with finality. "A part of me, and of them, will always be with you."


Liis sat upright in bed.

She was freezing, yet she was wringing wet. Her black silk pajamas had become stuck to her like a second skin; perspiration matted her hair to her forehead and the nape of her neck.

What the dream, or vision had meant, she couldn't be certain.

All she knew was it definitely meant that change was coming, and there was no way of escaping it this time.

She felt an eerie, knowing calm of acceptance that she was unaccustomed to. She had to think that perhaps, it was the last gift that her Grandmother might ever give to her.

Liis had always been one to fight against any outside forces that tried to divert the path of her feet. She'd battled, tooth and claw, against every adversary, every injustice, and for every underdog she'd encountered in her lifetime. She always took up their most impossible causes, because she'd been born into the role of underdog, and she could not live any other way.

But this time something was different. The events of her life since her encounter with the Sylph and the paradox had changed her, how much she was only beginning to realize.

The battlements she'd built around herself as protection from the outside world had all crumbled. She had tried to take the material which remained to begin a new life in her old career, but instead of finding any whole stones at her feet from which she could begin to rebuild the walls or even lay a footpath, every time she picked up the first one to try to lay that new beginning, it turned to powder in her hands.

Losing the crew of the Zenith was, she thought, going to change the history of all who had been involved in the battle to try to save them. She could not be so arrogant as to think that she could possibly escape unscathed. Not this time.

Perhaps Tucker Brody had been right- his words prophetic in some way she had been too headstrong to understand or accept at the time.

Perhaps she was too far gone to be in command of a starship.

She rose from her bed, moved into the shower and as she stood trembling beneath scalding water, she prepared herself to put on her uniform and the four pips adorning its collar for what she knew would likely be the very last time.

Everything she had accepted to be truth was lying in ruins, and could not be rebuilt from the same shattered stones in the same location.

The only remaining question in her mind was, where she would find herself when the dust finally settled.


Keiran took long, slow strides toward the curtained off area in the corner of the Serendipity's Sickbay.

He knew the bed it concealed all too well.

It was the very bed he'd been lying in, and risen from in a desperate attempt to save Liis from the Sylph and the memories of their shared past that were being used against her as a weapon.

He fought off the chill that tried to overtake him as he stopped where he stood.

Images flashed in his mind, first darkness and then bright light and in between, the sight of her; laying limp in his arms, slipping away.


*"No!" Keiran screamed again. "You don't understand, you have to let me do this. I know that I can help her!"*

*"Liis, listen to me, I know you can hear me," Keiran murmured in her ear softly, going ahead with what he knew he had to do. "You have to stop fighting our memories. Don't try to hold on to them, don't try to understand them, and for God's sake, stop fighting to keep them."*

*"Don't try to suffer this heartache for me, Zanh Liis. I know you want to, that you're willin' to try and Liis..." Keiran lowered his voice even further, just more than a whisper. "...I love you for that. But you can't save us by doing it. You can't save me by doing it." He blinked slowly, and tears rained gently from his face down onto hers.*

”'Tis not your burden. Was never meant to be. You didn't earn it, you don't deserve it.

”What you remember, what we were was the truth then, but you have give it up now. You have to let me carry it, for the both of us." He pressed his cheek against her hair. "I'm beggin' ya. I'm the only one who can." *


"Can I help you, Commander?"

The voice jarred Keiran back to the moment, and he shook his head slightly, a physical motion to try to clear away the thoughts that returned to him, every time he set foot in this place.

"I came ta see the Admiral."

"She's really not up for visitors."

"Am not just a visitor." Keiran gently asserted. "Am closest thing there is to family. May I?"

Seeing how no other methods had been successful in drawing Lassiter out of her silent, brooding state, Hartcort relented. "Not long. Just a few minutes."

"Is all I ask. Thank ya, Doctor." Keiran slowly and cautiously pulled the edge of the curtain back, checking to be sure that the Admiral was awake before he stepped forward toward her bed.

She was awake, but she was staring intently at the wall as if it was the most interesting sight she'd ever seen.


She did not look up, nor move at all to indicate she'd heard him.

"Gem, ya can't just." He stepped around to the other side of the bed, physically blocking her view of the blank but apparently fascinating wall.

Of course he knew she wasn't really seeing what was before her. She had the look of a person seeing things in their head that no one else could. It was a look he knew well, he'd seen it enough times to recognize it instantly.

She turned over at last, and directed her stare to the curtain just as she had the wall.

Keiran sighed and folded his arms. "I know ya can hear every blessed word 'm sayin', Gemini." His voice was firm but still retained the warmth that the man was known for. "I know it hurts like Hell. I know what it's like to be kept from a son but not to lose him this way, but I-" he paused, exhaling a slow sigh.

He felt so badly for Gem but so much sadness for Gira too. She needed her mother and her mother, having lost Nicholas, wanted no one. "I know that I don' understand what you're goin' through."

"No." Lassiter said, speaking aloud for the first time since the words she had said to Rada Dengar. She continued to avoid O'Sullivan's steady gaze. "You don't."

"Y'er no’ the only one who's lost here, ya know." Keiran changed methods, trying to appeal to the tough as nails, no nonsense woman he knew still must exist beneath in some form deep within the shell before him. "Eight hundred families. They will be looking to you to lead them through this grief. But more than that," he could hold back no longer. "Your own daughter, Gem. Your own girl-"

"Do not speak to me," Gem hissed softly, "about my daughter."

"Oh, am gonna speak ta ya all right, 'cause somebody has'ta get some sense in'ta that head'a yers." His affectionate tone turned dark now, as frustration with her set in. She was, for all her sense and ability to reason, one of the most stubborn women he'd ever known.

And he'd known a few...

"Gira needs you, Gem and what's more you need her too. Ya have to..."

"I don't have to do anything." Lassiter pulled the blanket up to her chin and spoke with the tone of a rebellious teen instead of that of a seasoned Starfleet officer.

"No. You know what? You're right. You don't." Keiran turned and moved back toward the curtain. He paused before pulling it back. "I just thought it'd be a true tragedy if you lost both of your children to this disaster instead of just the one that no one can bring back to you."

He moved outside of the curtain, and he hesitated. He'd had more than enough and wanted to go, but there was one point that he just couldn't seem to let go. He cursed himself that curiosity and his instinct to protect Gira wouldn't allow him to walk away now. Reluctantly, he returned to her bedside.


Gem let the question hang in the air, not asking him to elaborate. She didn't need him to. She knew exactly what he meant and had no intention of giving an answer.

"What is it about her that made you favor...Nicholas...so..." he stopped. His eyes flashed a sickened, haunting sort of horror, and something between denial and instant understanding.

It was so simple. Why had he not seen it before? "God in Heaven."

Gem's eyes finally darted up toward his. Hers were burning as well, a mixture of panic and contrition, as she silently pleaded with him not to say another word. She opened her mouth to speak, and then she stopped. Her eyes suddenly narrowed, and a vehement rage overtook all else that he'd seen in them the instant before.

"Captain O'Sullivan, you are being reassigned." She said quickly, her voice regaining its forceful authority.

"Do not change the subject." Keiran persisted. "Nick. The reason he has always been your favorite. It's because he wasn't-"

"Not another word, Keiran, or I swear," Gem was now shaking, possessed by a powerful fusion of dread, fear, and desperation.

"Or what?" Keiran leaned closer, lowering his voice. "What can ya do ta me that hasn' already been done at some point in the past?”

For a moment, she seemed to actually consider that the question may be more than rhetorical.

“Fine.” Keiran scowled. “You don' want ta be honest with one of your oldest friends? Then that's your business. You want to throw away a daughter that any parent should be proud to call their own, then I can hate it with all I am but that too is your business. You want to let this destroy you, then you go right ahead and let it destroy you. I know that choice, I've faced it, I've lived with it and I warn you, nothing good can ever come of it."

He whispered now, clearly enunciating every word with intentional precision. "But don't you dare resort to threats, Gemini Lassiter." He turned again to the curtain, ripping it back with such force it almost came free from the rod upon which it hung. "It doesn't become you."

"You're taking the Zenith." She declared.

Keiran froze.

"It's already been decided. It was decided the moment that we heard that the crew had gone missing." She sat up straight in bed, suddenly all official business.

"Keiran Riley O'Sullivan, you are hereby returned to the active rank of Captain, and you will assume command of the USS Zenith immediately. You will oversee her gutting and refit, as well as handle the investigation into all that happened aboard ship and around it during the incident which resulted in the loss of her captain and crew. You will pack your bags and beam over immediately to assume these duties. Do you understand me?"

Keiran shook his head. He would have laughed at the sheer absurdity of it all, if only nearly nine hundred lives had not been lost to the 'incident'. His jaw set.

"I thought I understood you." He rumbled softly. "But it appears that I don't know you any more, and you sure as hell don't know me." He reached for his combadge and removed it from his chest.

"Don't you dare."

"I'll stay aboard the Sera as the most overqualified spouse in the history of Starfleet, I don't care. But I will not take the Zenith and what's more, I will not be separated again from the Captain of this ship." Keiran glared.

"I had no idea you were so attached to Commander Salvek." Gem mocked dismissively, looking downward as she fingered the edge of her sheet, betraying that his words had rattled her.

"What does that mean?"

"It means that your beloved Zanh Liis is not going to be Captain of this ship much longer." Gem threw back the covers, and moved her legs over the side of her bed. "Hartcort!" she called suddenly. "Where is my uniform?"

Lance and T'Dara came in a hurry, and Lance gave Keiran a disapproving look. "What did you say to her?"

"Is more what she's been sayin' to me." Keiran insisted. "She's lost her mind."

"I am saner than I have been in a very long time." Gem declared. "And I have duties to attend to."

"You're not going anywhere, Sir." Lance said, as he and T'Dara each took hold of one of Lassiter's arms, gently but firmly. "You are still under restriction and will remain here in Sickbay until we reach Earth."

"Then you'd better do one of two things." Gem warned sternly. "You'd better either bring Zanh Liis here, or you're going to have to sedate me again to keep me from walking out that door to get to her."

-=////=- Gemini Lassiter
Director, The Alchemy Project

926: An Itch to Scratch

by Lara Valera Ryn
After A Whole in One

-=USS Serendipity

Lara wanted to scream at the top of her lungs.

But that would have only brought in a frantic colleague or two running into the room.

And she wanted to throw the mug across the room in frustration.

But new Starfleet regulations had prohibited the use of breakable cups.

So, she was left wanting to vent her frustration, but unable to. And it was going to be a very long day, if she did not get rid of this problem.

Standing up from the console where she was working, Lara tightly clasped her hands behind her back, left the Science department, and took the quickest route to Sickbay.

When she entered, she found it remarkably calm, in spite of all that had happened and was happening. The Admiral was still no better and there were rumors floating around about a great many other things down here. Yet, for the time being, it was quiet, which was fine by Lara, as it meant she could get in and get out.

Although she was facing no medical catastrophe, the first person she happened to see was the CMO. He looked a bit ragged, but given all that must be on his plate, he did not look worse for wear, which was saying something after all everyone on this ship had been through, some more than others.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

Suddenly, Lara felt guilty, as if really her problem was not so bad and she had been wrong to come down here in the first place and bother the medical staff now of all times. But she was here, and it was too late to turn back.

“It itches,” she said.

“Can you be a little more specific?” Lance asked as he gestured for her to sit down on one of the open bio-beds.

“It,” Lara repeated, this time pointing down at her abdomen. “The symbiont.”

“Have you had this problem before?” He placed his hand of her shoulder and gently indicated for her to lie down.

“Twice. Once in the hospital when they put this thing in me, and then in the loony bin. But it was never this bad.”

Lance pulled out a tricorder and scanned over the area in question. It was a relatively simple problem with just as simple a solution. Still, before he completed his diagnosis, he wanted to do one more thing. “I’d like to look at the incision site.”

She shrugged her shoulders before unzipping her uniform jacket and untucking the tunic underneath.

Lance was not surprised to find a scar at the incision site, as the scans had revealed as much. But he was not expecting it to look so inflamed. Still, it was an easy fix, something which he was glad of given the past few days. “You have an infection at the site of the incision. An antibiotic will take care of it, and while we’re at it, we can get rid of this nasty scar.”

“No!” Lara cried out.

The response startled Lance. It was not often when a patient responded so strongly to a minor treatment.

“Sorry,” she added sheepishly, and less defensively. “Yes, the medicine please. But I want to keep the scar.”

“As you wish.” Lance walked over to a medical cart and began preparing a hypospray, one that he could inject at the site of the infection. As he returned to his patient and administered it, he asked, “Why, if I may ask?”

“Why keep the scar?”


“So I’ll never forget.”

It was a simple answer to a clearly complicated issue, and neither chose to speak about the matter further.

Lance heard Lara sigh in relief, indicating that the medicine was beginning to take effect. “If the problem has not resolved in a day, come back immediately.”

“Thanks, doctor.” She sat up and fixed her uniform. While she was fussing with it, she spoke up again. “So, there have been some rumors floating around the ship.”

“There always are.”

“About our prisoner.”

Lance looked up from the medical supplies he had been arranging when she said those words. “And?”

“Word is he’s dead.”

“That might be true.”

“If he is, do you think I could get a look at him?” Realizing that her request sounded off, she added, “It’s what I do. I thought maybe I could be of help, you know, draw up an anthropological report.”

“Have you spoken with Dabin Reece about this idea?”

“Oh, come on, doctor. We both know he has got more important things to worry about right now.” Lara paused for a second and then said something which she found both off-kilter and absurdly normal at the same time. “And somehow I seem to be able to relate to what he is going through.”

Lance smiled. “Been a father before, have you?”

Lara opened her mouth to answer, but no sound came out. She looked away for a moment, then back at Hartcourt and said, “Well, not me.”

“Of course not,” he answered in a good-natured tone.

“But I think I have to say yes. I don’t know who, but somewhere inside of me, this thing is telling me that I know what it is like to be a father.”

“It’s good to see that you are getting along with your symbiont.”

“Getting along are not the words I’d use, but it works. But we are changing the subject. My request?”

“I will forward it to Commander Salvek, and if he has no objections, then neither do I.”

“Thank you.” She turned to leave, and as she walked out, Lance could have sworn there was almost an extra bounce in her step.

Lieutenant Lara Valera Ryn
Science Office
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

925: A Whole in One

by Vol Tryst and Jaine Hood
After I Call No Way

-=USS Serendipity=-

Jaine found herself rearranging furniture in the small conference room granted to her to use as her office space.

She had requested that the large table and chairs be removed, and instead tugged the couch and larger chairs away from the windows, toward the center of the room.

She positioned them so that two chairs were side by side, facing the couch. The space echoed slightly now that there was so little in it, but it would serve her purpose well enough.

She pulled a small end table forward and put it in the middle of the rest of the furniture, in case one of her patients wanted a beverage and needed a place to set it.

She had been asked in a hurried message from one Paxton Briggs on behalf of the captain to start with a visit with the Sera's ship's counselor, and so that was what she was ready to do.

She heard the chime sound, and she stood tall, ready and willing to do all she could to help the man who, according to records was Betazoid.

"Come in."

Though Vol would never have admitted it if asked, the truth was he had been dreading this meeting. So much so that he had probably been waiting outside the door for roughly five minutes before finally ringing the chime. It was just a fact: the worst patient for a surgeon was another surgeon and any psychiatrist would tell you that no other person was more difficult to shrink than another Counselor.

Not wishing to disappoint, Vol had spent a great deal of time reading up on all he could about one Jaine Hood. She was certainly accomplished, and therefore qualified. He did feel slightly intimidated by a Doctor whom was light years ahead in her career than Vol was himself, but then again Vol had his own accomplishments that helped him stand tall.

As he stood outside her door, he couldn't help but let his empathic abilities do a little roaming.

*Human, most definitely human.* Vol thought to himself.

Upon hearing Doctor Hood's invitation, Vol sighed and entered through the doors to find a pointed-eared woman.

"You must be Counselor Tryst. I'm--"

*Not human…* Vol finished her sentence in his thought. His eyebrows furrowed and his head tilted to the side as he crossed his arms over his civilian clothing, cocking his hip out to the side.

"Is there, something wrong?" Jaine queried, hoping that the Counselor wasn't going to be the high-maintenance sort. If so, she'd have a hell of a time with the rest of her scheduled appointments today.

"Your mind isn't ordered enough to be Vulcan, which could be easily explained by saying that you weren't brought up with that lifestyle. But no, I'm thinking… Romulan."

"And you're Betazoid." Jaine replied, clearly puzzled. "My personal parentage is an issue for you, Counselor?"

Vol perked an eyebrow again, "Pardon?"

Jaine exhaled slowly to conceal a slight sigh. Her first patient of the day was not only defensive, he may also be dense; that was just fabulous.

"Why is it important to you?"

"It isn't."

"Well, it must be. It's the first thing that you said when you met me."

"By letting it be known that I am able to guess your heritage, I was in turn able to let you know my own. Therefore, establishing the playing field, so to speak." Vol knew he was being ridiculous, but that was to be expected especially when he felt he was being judged to some extent.

Jaine knew that this discussion was starting off on the wrong foot, and she had to change tack and quickly if anything productive was to come out of her association with and analysis of Vol Tryst. She started by unclenching her hands which had somehow curled into tight fists.

"Perhaps we can start again. At the beginning." Once again she extended her hand. "My name is Jaine Hood. I'm a neurologist and a psychologist."

She looked at him again, watching him nervously run his hand through his hair and tug at it, before finally extending his hand to accept hers and announcing his name and rank.

"I'm pleased to meet you." Jaine felt for him, there was nothing, she knew, worse for a counselor than to submit to being counseled.

How much worse it must be for an empath, she thought. To be so completely aware of not only your own emotions but also of those all around you so keenly all the time, it had to wear a person down.

"I'm here to help, if I can. I'm certainly going to try." She added softly, with a calm and reassuring tone that somehow annoyed Vol even more. "Would you like to sit down or do you prefer to stand?"

Vol laid one arm over his stomach whereas the other raised to scratch the nape of his neck once more. He exhaled deeply before taking a few heavy steps towards the room's windows.

"I'll . . . remain standing. Thank you."

"All right. I think I'll sit down." Jaine took to one of the two chairs, leaving Vol the option of taking the couch alone if he preferred or sitting beside her chair in one of his own.

Jaine was sitting so that she was staring at Vol's back while he leaned back so that his rear sat on the back-end of the couch. She couldn't help but wonder what the man saw when he looked out into the stars.

"So, Vol, how are you?" Jaine started.

Vol didn't answer her, and she prayed that she wouldn't have to pry answers out of him. Not to mention such behavior would be bizarre, as any good Counselor knew that in order to get out of a session as fast as possible, it was better to be forthcoming.

Something out of the corner of Jaine's eye had her looking out the window, where she saw Vol's reflection and an expression which clearly told her he'd just finished rolling her eyes.

"Well then, how about we start with why you're here?"

Now Vol was happy to respond.

"I am a Counselor aboard this vessel, but due to recent events it stands to reason that I myself may have suffered some psychological damage. This is also why I am the first crewmember ordered to see you, because if I'm to counsel others, I need to be assessed as fit to do so.

"So, you're here to make sure you can go back to work?" Jaine questioned, looking at Vol's reflection, as the man had still not turned around.

"Without unintentionally causing damage to my crewmates."

"Or yourself." Jaine pointed out in a polite way, but Vol knew that the words he'd chosen were quite telling as to his frame of mind.

Vol finally turned around to look Doctor Hood in the eyes, and she continued on.

"Let's leave your patients out there for awhile." Jaine suggested gently. "Let's just talk about Vol Tryst. What damage has he suffered?"

"If I were to be unprofessional and attempt to diagnose myself, I'd call it a mild crisis of identity." For the first time since he'd entered the room, Vol sounded like he was giving in to the help that was being offered to him.

He walked around and somewhat hopped onto the couch, which he lay upon with his back down. He stared up at the ceiling as he let his hands rest on his sternum.

"What prompted this identity crisis?" Jaine pushed on softly.

"Doctor?" Vol asked politely.


"I feel quite belittled when you ask me questions you already know the answers to. This is exceedingly awkward and intimidating for me, so the more we can converse as equals and not as a doctor with her patient, the more grateful I would me."

Jaine blinked, studying the words and body language of Vol. She'd momentarily forgotten that Betazoids usually spoke out their minds very readily.

"I find it interesting that you wish to carry on the conversation as peers and not as doctor and patient, yet look at your posture."

"What about it?"

"Well, you're lying on your back on the couch in the stereotypical position of one being psychoanalyzed. And yet you say I'm belittling you for speaking to you as a patient. Conflicted?"

Vol bolted upright. "What do you mean, conflicted?"

"Is it difficult for you to think that you, as one who counsels others, may now need to accept that he truly needs traditional counseling himself, and not just a conversation with a colleague?"

Vol brought his hands together as he pondered the question. Running his thumbs over one another, he finally responded.

"And thus my role is reversed."


"I am the patient now and no longer a Counselor. As a patient I am… somehow ill."

Jaine perked an eyebrow and decided to softly press on the brakes a little bit.

"I wouldn't go so far as--"

"No." Vol interrupted. "I am a patient, that's what you said I was having a hard time accepting and as patient mostly have some sort of ailment."

Jaine wasn't one to cut her patients off most of the time, but she felt like she was losing her footing… or something.

"You were the one who came in here with a self-diagnosis already prepared."

"Yes, an identity crisis. Which appears to be that of between Vol the Counselor and Vol the patient. I've just proven both our theories simultaneously."

Jaine opened her mouth, but no words came out. She had things to say, and certainly had retorts, but her gut told her that to let this go a little longer may bring her to a mini-breakthrough with Vol.

"Ha!" Vol continued. "You don't deny it, I am the patient here. Defective in some way and I can't accept it."

Vol ran his hand all the way through his scalp as he fell back into the couch.

Jaine pushed onward.

"So there's Vol the Counselor, and Vol the patient. Any other facets of you we should talk about?"

Vol looked at Jaine quizzically.

"Of course I don't believe you to be schizophrenic, but let's just play along hypothetically. If there were to be different Vols, what would they be?"

Vol finally submitted to the help he was being offered, it was so much easier than fighting. As he proceeded to comply with Jaine's request, he closed his eyes and counted each of his 'personas' on his hands.

"Counselor Vol, the Starfleet officer sworn to uphold all of the Federations laws and directives.

”The Betazoid Vol, the boy who grew up on Betazed in a comfortable home with his family for a few years. This boy looked up to his brother, adored his parents, but also was interested in the lives of others as well.

”The Human Vol, he only really came into being once my parents divorced, and I truly did live two separate lives. He really connects with my mom, and takes after her socialite tendencies. He's where I get my occasional knack for diplomacy.

”Then I suppose there's the hybrid of the later two. The coexistence of both... I mean, two mes.

”Then the patient, who's frightened."

Jaine took a moment to consider the man, and what he had just told her. It seemed clear that emotional upheaval had created Counselor Vol Tryst from two clearly defined individuals that existed in his past.

“Are you comfortable and secure in what you are now? This combination of the Human and Betazoid that you spoke of? You mentioned that the two Vols coexist, but you never said how well.”

Jaine left her chair and took a moment to replicate a glass of ice water. Some people took it as rude when a therapist seemed to not be paying attention. Others were set at ease by knowing the Counselor was not seemingly staring into their soul as they spoke. Her snap judgment on Vol Tryst was that he would be one of the latter.

Though her body was not present with him for several moments, her attention never wavered from his words as he spoke.

“I would say the coexisted quite well. Things have changed recently though.”

“You used the past tense. The person you believed yourself to be no longer exists in your mind?” Jaine asked, as she stood facing the replicator and took a slow sip of her water. She wondered what sort of event would have prompted such a statement.

It was important to tread carefully here, and not push Vol back into a state where he would suppress the truth about himself that he seemed close to revealing. On the other hand, Vol knew just as well as Jaine that he had given her a vital clue about himself, and that he would need to reveal it as soon as possible if he ever wanted this session to end.

“I don’t think he does. Something happened to me that altered me. I can only describe it as something similar to what a Trill must feel when they are joined and suddenly they are simply not the individual they were before.”

Jaine returned to her seat, and Vol raised an eyebrow as he felt a wave of emotion from her. Something akin to familiarity, as if the analogy he used made as much sense to her as it would an actual joined Trill.

“Are you all right?” He asked.

“Just fine. Please, go on. Tell me what happened to make you feel this way.”

Vol sighed, allowing himself to sink into his seat. He finally admitted to himself that he would have to share this with someone eventually, so it may as well be a licensed professional.

"Awhile ago, on one of the Sera's missions, I was targeted by a people who knew that by being empathic, I would be able to unveil their… less than kind intentions." Vol took a pause. "They infiltrated my mind with a mechanical device that paralyzed my brain's para-cortex. I ceased to be the man you see before you now and instead became an inanimate doll who sensed nothing but emptiness all around him. Fortunately, Doctor Avery Breaux managed to alter the device's parameters. Instead of blocking my telepathy, it now works to enhance it."

Jaine nodded her head as she sipped her water, now this conversation was starting to make sense. She knew exactly where Vol was taking her and from it, the question he would ultimately ask her.

"Now I am not the man I was, and I lack a clear definition of who I am today. So Counselor I ask you, with this implant controlling my telepathic abilities, am I Betazoid man who cannot sense, or am I a Human who's telepathic?”

“I think the real question is are you who you want to be. Set aside the Betazoid versus Human argument. Are you still Counselor Vol Tryst? Do you feel like you are an asset to your shipmates, your friends and family? Or has this crisis created a Vol that you feel is a failing to the man you were?”

Vol sighed as he pondered Hood’s question. “How can I know if I am giving others the best of me, if I do not even know for sure what the best of me is?

Jaine actually laughed at the question, and then quickly apologized. “Only two trained counselors could have such a discussion. Obviously, Mister Tryst, you are having a crisis of identity. Can you at least tell me if you are happy, honestly, with where you are at in your life?

Now it was Vol's turn to crack a smile. It never ceased to amaze him, that no matter how complex the field, no matter how overwhelming a problem may seem, the solution was usually the most simple. Most people, himself included, were too preoccupied with superficially complicated issues that they failed to recognize the underlying reason for their fear.

"I am serving on a Starship, an aspiration of mine since infancy. Said ship is a treasured gem in the Federation, what with its amazing crew and classified mission. I have bettered myself through the guidance of my superiors while also offering what I can in return. I've served to the best of my ability, despite my doubts, and can honestly say that I have no regrets."

The smile on his face remained as he now looked into Hood's eyes to answer the question.

"Indeed, I am quite happy."


Vol Tryst
Ship’s Counselor
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Lt. Commander Jaine Hood MD, PhD
Psychiatric Services
Starfleet Medical

924: The Imposter

by Michael Blakeney
Immediately Following Dressing-Down: Two

-=Flashback, 2357 Current Timeline=-

The first thing Gem did upon reentering the ambassador’s residence was to find his bathroom and to clean his dried blood off her hands.

The walls were purely white and the red was such a vicious contrast, almost as much as the shock of the cold water as it hit her skin. She quickly seized hold of the elegantly sculpted, and seemingly untouched bar of soap which sat in a seashell shaped dish beside the liquid soap dispenser at the sink and began to furiously grind the surface of the bar into her fingernails.

Even though there was no visible blood beneath them, she felt unable to truly get her hands clean until she'd scrubbed them almost to the point of breaking them off. Still, she continued to jam the soap against her fingertips until she'd almost split the nails from the cuticles.

It took several minutes of rinsing after she'd finished scrubbing, under water that was now as intensely hot as she could stand before she finally felt they were once again close to clean. Even though her skin burned and her nailbeds smarted, at least now in some small way she felt like herself again.

Using a towel from the rack nearby, she dried her hands, and then picked up the bar of soap and put both it and the towel into the recycling unit to dispose of them.

She ran her hands up and down the sleeves of her shirt nervously.

“Okay,” she quietly said as she turned around, still trying to bring the world back into sharp focus and to put her mind on the here and now. “We have to secure the crime scene and notify the agency.”

“Nah…I don’t think so.” Michael dismissively replied, trying to lighten the mood as he continued to hold the recently injured Gem upright with one hand.

“What do you mean, you ‘don’t think so’?" Gem incredulously inquired as she started stepping forward quickly enough to show him that she didn’t feel she needed him holding her up and almost quickly enough to show her falling down. “We can’t just leave him here.”

“I wasn’t suggesting leaving him here. I was thinking I’d take you home and you’d have a rest after your...adventures..." he paused and gave her a slight,

sideways smile. "Which must have been exhausting. Then I'd come back here and have a look around. Knowing though that you’re far too stubborn to agree to that I was going to suggest that we both look around.” He corrected with a much fuller grin, but it was having little effect. “I just don’t see any need to call it in. He’s under the care of the agency. Pretty soon they’ll figure out something’s wrong and send someone regardless of what we do.”

“That’s right,” Gem mused with suspicion, eyeing Blakeney carefully for any mistake he might make and feeling she was onto something here. “He is under the agency’s care. It’s strange that with all the other information you have access to you didn’t know he was here.”

As skeptical as she felt, Gem would never look at something and have some indefinable feeling tell her anything beyond what she could find by thinking the situation out. Thinking was all it took to tell her there was most certainly something not quite right with Michael Blakeney.

First, no matter what story he may give, he was hardly the type Galloway would send in the interests of discretion. He may have had the advantage that no one would spot him as an agent, but that was exactly the point. He was nothing like any agent she’d seen before.

The first requirement of any agent was the ability to blend in when they had to. If you couldn’t do that then you could never be risked being sent on a Jump for fear that you’d be seen and do more damage to history than you could fix. Yet whenever Michael was in the room she found her eyes drawn to his charismatic ease of movement; to his warm, somehow simultaneously innocent and devilish smile and, quite strangely, to the light in his eyes.

Gem was very good at dismissing sights like that. If she couldn’t stop watching him it was clear to her that this was a sign he was completely incapable of blending in anywhere.

“I know it may be hard to believe, but even I have my limits.” Blakeney replied without even missing a beat. “Anyway, don’t you want to have a full report waiting when they arrive? It would be much more efficient. Very... sensible.”

He said that last word with just the correct intonation to make sure she knew he was teasing her about it.

Gem saw nothing wrong with sensibility, but didn’t find it as irritating as she thought she should when he used that tone. Sensibility was a part of who she was and she knew she should have been more offended by how he trivialized it.

She’d certainly never been one given to so called woman’s intuition or the even less desirable ‘going with one’s gut’. Of all the parts of the anatomy, why anyone concluded that their stomach was where all the best judgment could be found was beyond her. She wondered at times whether they actually believed that their skipping lunch or other stomach altering actions could have some impact on how much they could trust those around them.

Of course, she thought, as far as the man in front of her went it would be an improvement if he would make more decisions even that high up in his body.

However whether it was Blakeney’s easy charm, the desperation for answers now rather than later or her still slightly throbbing head injury Gem actually found herself feeling like she should go along with what he wanted. As a matter of personal pride she would later become entirely convinced it was the third.

Surveying the scene before her of Braylan’s small yet expensive private accommodation it seemed unlikely they would be disturbed unless Braylan had the misfortune of having two assassins targeting him today. Also, since every second was a second in which vital evidence could be lost she decided that her first priority should be to attempt some sort of preliminary investigation while they wait, especially knowing how likely it was that as soon as other agents arrived she’d be replaced by someone not nearly as attentive as she was.

She really needed to find out what had happened.

The moment she’d become Braylan’s last call it’d stopped being possible that she could have simply avoided getting involved in the investigations of whoever was officially assigned to this and so she might as well make the most of it while she still had the chance.

“Fine,” she grumbled. She removed two pairs of latex gloves from her pockets and proceeded to give one pair to him and snap the other onto her hands. She indicated an area she doubted would have much evidence through movements of her head. “You can go look around over there.”

Michael found it amusing and couldn’t help but stop to ask, “Carry these around with you everywhere you go, do you?”

Gem pretended not to have heard him as she began to search for the assailant’s point of entry into the building.


They’d looked through different rooms, every other room in fact, and found no sign of how the killer had gotten in. Finally, Gem accepted that there was really no doubt of where she needed to go next. It wasn’t long before she once again had Braylan’s body in her sight.

As soon as Michael saw where she was heading he decided it was best to ignore her suggestion about where he do his investigation as he followed her close behind.

As she stepped into the room where he was seated it was like crossing an invisible barrier into a different world. Her movements became slower and her footfalls became respectfully softer as she approached the corpse slumped across the desk where life once had been.

As much as she tried not to let anything like this effect her, there was something about seeing a man she’d known, even one such as Braylan, so instantly and easily become empty which just couldn’t be entirely shaken off.

Especially not when she felt it was her own damn fault.

Michael didn’t miss the pained expression on her face but thought it better not to say anything just yet, as they both ignored the rest of the room and headed where they knew they must.

“At least we have an exact time of death.” She said with hidden sadness as she stood examining the body. “The last thing he did was try to call me.”

“I know, I’ve been keeping track of his calls.” Michael replied. “That’s why I knew to come here.”

Gem just nodded her acceptance of this as she considered the best way to approach the body.

Normally she’d have taken pictures first but given she had limited time and that she’d shaken him around in her initial panic, she didn’t see the point.

Though she’d been there before him it was Michael who first moved towards the body and she was just left to watch as he knelt down and brought his hands up to examine the small opening to the long and deadly wound in his back. Gem found it remarkable how professional and careful he was being.

A small, almost perfectly circular pool of blood had soaked through Braylan’s jacket. In fact Gem felt like she’d washed more than that off her hands. In a way the small amount made it worse; death had come so easily here.

Though feeling slightly useless standing back, dispassionately Gem considered that it was possibly a good thing to let Michael go first. It left her a chance to keep an eye on him and now more than ever she knew she couldn’t easily trust him. She wanted that trust to be there, more than she could admit, but that didn’t mean she could force it to exist.

“It’s a single clean wound; the work of a professional.” He announced, though neither of them had doubted that from the way the man had moved.

“Any ideas about the weapon?” Gem asked, knowing even from here it must have been a knife that was thin but long. It was the type of weapon which was easy to conceal but required an experienced hand.

“I could guess.” Michael replied absently, knowing that he had neither the training nor the time to give a proper answer.

“Don’t bother.” She snapped, more coldly than she’d intended. Gem had never been one to guess.

She noted that Michael’s eye seemed to suddenly be caught by something before he quickly returned to his normal, artfully careless expression. He shifted around on the floor just seeming to get a better angle but Gem could have sworn he was trying to block something from her.

“You know there’s no need for both of us to be here.” He casually commented, pretending to be fully focused on Braylan.

“I’m staying.” She insisted, certain now there must be something Michael was keeping from her.
The more she observed his movements, the more familiar something about him became. Life was like a game of chess and even when that game is friendly one must study the opponent’s style of play.

Though he may appear to be the type who’d make foolish mistakes and to never think more than a couple of steps ahead, he played far too well for that. Every move Blakeney made had the same basic elements of misdirection, surprise and the revelation of information exactly when and only if it became necessary. This was exactly what she’d do; exactly what she’d been trained to do when she had to hold something back from those around her.

As Michael moved around to the other side of Braylan, still seeming to block her, Gem leaned down where he’d just been and looking closer at the wound she immediately began to realize there was something wrong with the blood. It was subtle but it was definitely there.

“The pigmentation is completely off.” She commented with confusion, looking at Blakeney out of the corner of her eye. “Have you ever seen anything like this before?”

“No.” Michael immediately and absently replied as he looked through Braylan’s pockets.

Gem realized he showed far too little surprise for him not to have noticed it before. He had clearly decided not to tell her. Whatever the blood meant, he wanted to hide it from her. It also meant he had to be lying to her about much more than that.

She wondered how many times he’d lied to her already, and her instinct was to call him on that right now. However whatever anger she may have felt was softened as she remembered he had also just saved her life.

It was clear that whatever he was keeping back that somehow and for now their causes were the same. As long as that was the case then she decided it was much better to keep him around. At the end point of her intense, complicated and heated internal debate over this, she found that she was very relieved to have been able to reach that decision.

Gently Michael removed a small object from Braylan’s jacket pocket.

“What do you make of this?” he asked, throwing the small cream colored cube into the air then catching it before presenting it to Gem.

“I don’t recognize the design but I’d say it’s a data storage device.” Gem replied, indicating the matching symbols on the screen before Braylan and on the side of the device, suggesting somehow this device had been wirelessly connected to the communication console. “He must have been planning on sending me whatever’s on here.”

“Then whatever it is it must be important. What do you say we hold on to it?” Michael started to put it in his pocket but seeing Gem’s disapproving look he changed that and placed it on the desk. “Or not.”

His eye once again seemed to have been caught by something before he moved around then stood up and looked to Gem, saying, “To be honest, I’m really not sure there’s much we can do here without risking damage to the body.”

Gem noted that he seemed to be in a hurry to get her away from here, and Michael figured out quickly that she’d realized this.

“Hold on.” She said, suddenly noticing a small bump on the back of Braylan’s neck.

As she moved towards it Michael seemed to tense up but could do nothing except watch as Gem gently ran her finger along it, noting just how unnatural it felt, like there was something under his skin. Michael had hoped to avoid what he knew was about to happen.

The contact with Gem seemed to trigger something as a low hum began emanating from the ambassador’s neck.

Gem and Michael both quickly stepped back as a ring of light began to pass down Braylan’s body. The thin blue light passed rapidly down from the top of his head throughout his body and each point it passed seemed to change.

It revealed beneath, an orange pigmentation to his skin and all his features seemed to warp into something not quite right. His nose grew into a different shape and his ears folded back along his head. When it was finished an entirely alien being was left in the ambassador’s clothes. She knew now why his blood looked so wrong.

This man, who’d been one of the single most influential figures in Federation politics, was an imposter.

Lt. Commander Michael Blakeney
Temporal Investigations

923: The Last of Their Kind

by Lance Hartcort and Salvek
After The Other Side of the Door

-=USS Serendipity=-

Salvek felt his stomach rumble again. Part of the training that went along with being Vulcan included the ability to control some functions of the body, to a certain extent. Respiration could be slowed to deal with oxygen deficient atmospheres, and the effects of hunger could be delayed by slowing the body’s metabolism, allowing one to work longer hours without breaking for meals.

What that meant was by the time a Vulcan's stomach was growling, he was not only hungry, he was really hungry. He had talked to Kellyn, who was still busy on her own securing the Alchemy and filing reports, just long enough to make sure she was safely aboard. With that knowledge setting him at ease, he decided it was finally time to take a break from engineering work to take in a meal. He set down the PADD he was working with, and took two steps towards the door.

[Hartcort to Commander Salvek.]

Salvek straightened up, suppressed the emotion of frustration that would normally have compelled one to sigh, and tapped his badge to open a channel. "Go ahead Doctor."

[Can you come down here? We need to talk.]

"Can this wait?"

[No.] Hartcort answered, without any further explanation.


[Remember our little wolf in sheep's clothing? The Domox spy dressed up like a Vulcan? The one you ordered me to put in stasis, before you vanished and forgot all about it and left it here for me to deal with? I'm getting some very strange readings I want to discuss with you.]

Salvek did indeed recall the Domox spy, and with all he had been doing between the battle and repairs, Hartcort was somewhat right; he had not exactly forgotten the Domox, but had considered the alien in stasis to be a non-issue.

"I am on my way," Salvek said, as he once again set aside the urge to eat, for now.


Hartcort had been following up on the Admiral’s condition when Commander Salvek walked into sickbay. Her physical condition continued to improve by the hour, but her emotional state and attitude on the other hand, was questionable at best.

Lance put down the PADD he was carrying and waved Salvek over.

He led the ships first officer to the secure area where the Domox/Vulcan infiltrator was being kept in stasis.

“What seems to be the issue doctor?” Salvek asked and they approached the bedside.

“Well, it seem like our friend here is slowly going brain dead.” Lance deadpanned.

Salvek glanced at the burned Vulcan in the stasis field. “His condition does not seem to have deteriorated.”

Lance shrugged. “No, In fact his burns are actually healing nicely. The regeneration process is progressing well. His brain wave pattern however, is not.” He walked over to one of the monitors on the wall and displayed a chart with two opposing diagrams of wave patterns. One showed a healthy pattern resembling a mountain and valleys with sharp peaks and drops, while the other shows little to no movement.

“As you can see the majority of voluntary brain function has stopped. So has subconscious REM activity.” Lance pointed to the lower graph. “He is not even dreaming anymore. Involuntary functions, heartbeat, breathing, et cetera, are still working for now. But his brain functions continue to degrade.”

Salvek crossed his arms as he looked at the chart. “What caused the sudden change?”

Lance rubbed his chin. “I am not exactly sure but what I do know is that the degradation started as soon as the…” He looked for a cautious set of words to describe the fate of the Domox. “…portal closed. The best reason I have is that he was mentally connected to the other side somehow. Now that the connection is severed he is shutting down. Maybe it is like the old fashion cyanide capsule that spies would take to kill themselves when captured.”

“Or perhaps they are connected in a way that makes them all mentally dependant upon each other, like a collective.” Salvek mused, speaking to the theory with far more personal experienced than he wished to have.

“Either way,” Hartcort shrugged. The point was moot. The Domox was dying and there appeared to be no way to stop it. “I could, maybe, be able to find out how to stop it, if I spoke to him.”

Salvek thought for a few moments, and shook his head. “No, this species has already proven they can use their mental powers as a form of attack. I have seen it myself, and Wren Elton was nearly killed. I will not put the ship in danger. If the Domox survives until we make it to Earth, Starfleet can determine if they are comfortable waking him.”

“I don’t think that is going to happen. We may be dealing with minutes, not hours or days,” Hartcort warned.

Salvek responded to the report with a question that clearly indicated that Hartcort’s warning was of no consequence to the First Officer. “How is the Admiral?” He turned and looked toward her bed, where she was resting still. Her head was turned so Salvek could not tell if she was asleep or simply staring off into space.

“She’s alive,” was all Hartcort said.

The panel monitoring the Domox in stasis began to beep and flash red. Salvek snapped his attention back away from the Admiral.

“What is happening?”

Lance looked over the readings. “His involuntary synaptic functions are shutting down. His heart rate and breathing are irregular.” Lance turned to Salvek. “Commander are you sure that you do not want me to take him out of stasis?”

Lance waited a moment before pressing the issue further. “He could be the very last of his species.” Lance added. “Are you willing to let them die out? Especially considering…” He lowered his voice. “…we are responsible for their fate.”

Lance made some adjustment to the stasis field and the alarms went silent but the red warning lights continued to flash. “Killing to preserve ourselves in combat is one thing Commander Salvek but allowing an injured prisoner to die is entirely another bowl of soup!”

Salvek stared at the readings, as if doing so may somehow will them to stabilize. There would have been no conflict for Salvek, had he not melded with the Domox himself, and felt the pure hatred inside it. He had little doubt that if the Domox knew it was dying, that it would likely try to take someone, anyone, with it. How could he risk Wren’s fate being imposed on anyone else?

Hartcort’s eyes moved between the dying prisoner and the ships seemingly dispassionate First Officer. He eyed up the Vulcan and found it had to believe that he himself had Vulcan blood in his veins.

“Do I need to involve the Captain?” Lance asked suddenly making a clear line in the sand as to his position on the matter.

“No, I have this under control. There is no need to involve the Captain. You may wake the Domox under one condition.”

Salvek pulled a phaser from his hip, and adjusted the setting up, making it clear what the condition was. If the Domox made any attempt to reach out to the crew with its telepathy, Salvek would take the Domox’s life. Judging by the readings it may already be too late to help, but Hartcort was determined to try.

Lance was well aware of the danger that the Domox posed. He quickly gathered up all of the necessary tools and then secured the small room by locking the door.

Looking at Salvek, who simply nodded that he was ready, Lance dropped the stasis field.

As soon as the field dropped the Domox/Vulcan’s eyes shot open and he inhaled a deep breath of air before grimacing in pain from the burns that covered his body. New alarms sounded from the various monitors as his vitals suddenly started to fluctuate.

Lance reached for a hypospray that would have helped to manage the pain but Salvek stopped him.

“Allowing him a respite from the pain may allow him to concentrate on other, nefarious actions.” He warned.

Lance paused and stared at Salvek prepared to argue the inhumanity of allowing the Domox to suffer, but the look on the Commander’s face told him that the decision was not open to discussion.

Putting the first hypo down he picked up another and injected the contents into the patient’s neck, then looked up at the monitors. Heart rate was erratic, blood pressure was dropping, brain activity continued to fluctuate.

Suddenly the Domox grabbed Lances arm. “What, what hap…happened?” He asked in a cracking voice. “S..s..so silent…”

Lance looked up at Salvek.

“The portal was destroyed,” Salvek said, walking the tightrope between truth, and ambiguity. He holstered his phaser, as it appeared the Domox was far too disoriented to pose much of a threat. “That is why you cannot hear them.”

“Need… revert.” The Domox said, putting a now very shaky hand up to its head.

“How do I do that? How do I help you?” Hartcort asked, leaning in closer.

“Don’t know. Told me, would be recovered, before it an issue.”

“He needs one of his Doctors,” Hartcort said while shaking his head.

“Can you help him at all?” Salvek asked.

“With time to study his original DNA and a healthy member of his species, yes. But I don’t have any of that at my disposal.”

Salvek held a steady gaze on the Doctor. Hartcort checked his readings, then his patient, and finally his First Officer. Salvek waited for Lance to make his next suggestion.

“I’ll try to keep him comfortable,” was all the Doctor could offer. As soon as he stopped speaking, the Domox began to shake, and pressed its Vulcan hands to each temple. Salvek grabbed for his phaser, as Hartcort grabbed for his hypo. The First Officer relaxed his grip and holstered his weapon once again upon realizing that the patient was not making an attempt to attack.

Hartcort tried to move the Domox’s hands away from his face, so he could reach the side of its neck to administer the dose, but his grip was strong, and the Domox had curled into a fetal position, making his neck impossible to reach.

Lance looked up at the monitor and watched helplessly as the vital signs of the Domox began to drop. He jabbed the hypo into the first bit of exposed flesh he saw in desperation. The Domox began to shudder uncontrollably then suddenly went slack.

All of the monitor’s lines went flat. Lance desperately tried to revive him, but with no success.

After five minutes of using every method at his disposal for resuscitation, Salvek was finally forced to place a gentle hand on the Doctor’s shoulder.

“He is dead, Doctor.”

Lance tossed the last hypo he was holding onto the tray and leaned forward onto the bed and sighed. “Damn it.”

He glanced back at Salvek with a look of pain, irritation, and helplessness in his eyes. “Let the log show that time of death was 1952 hours.” He turned and headed for his office. “Please excuse me Commander. I have a report to write.”

Salvek stepped aside to let the Doctor pass, then looked at the Domox. Whatever the motives, he was the last of his kind, and a great opportunity for knowledge was lost. If a peace could have been negotiated somehow, perhaps the Domox and Federation could have learned a great deal from each other.

Or perhaps they would have been impossible to reason with, and destroyed Salvek and everyone like him. Judging by their limited contact with this race, Salvek opted to believe the latter. At least that belief was enough to set his conscience at ease.

Salvek tugged the sheet gently up over the man’s head, and left to finally get the meal he had needed for hours.

Doctor Lance Hartcort
Chief Medical Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Commander Salvek
First Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

922: Mind the Boat

by Dabin Reece
After I Call No Way

-=USS Serendipity=-

[Blane to Reece.]

“Yeah,” Dabin answered, as he tapped the control panel in annoyance.

Getting through to Lair Kellyn upon her return had been about as easy as finding a needle in a haystack. Assuming of course that you have a tricorder so locating the needle is actually very easy, but the needle, being inanimate, has no intention of returning your calls or answering your questions.

That was Lair Kellyn.

She had called her husband, just checking to make sure each other was all right, Dabin assumed. Then she was moving all about the ship, at least that’s what the sensors told him. He tried twice to hail her and got a “not now Dabin,” both times before she hung up on him.

Finally he had gotten a name and location out of her of a Vulcan ship where February was.

Then the pleading began.

Zanh Liis had given him every excuse in the book as to why he’d just have to wait until the Sera could limp to a rendezvous with the Vulcan ship for the transfer. Granted they were all legitimate and perfectly reasonable excuses, but they were excuses, and excuses sucked.

If that wasn’t enough the forward sensor array was malfunctioning, meaning Reece was stuck manually targeting the sensors to make sure they didn’t warp right on by the Vulcan ship… or into it, if their course setting abilities were accurate to the point of being deadly.

Then they all had the nerve to leave! Liis and Keiran were tending to Rada’s office and then off to other matters, Salvek was helping below as well with repairs, and Blane was supposed to meet some crisis Counselor in the transporter room. So now Reece was stuck minding the boat while everyone else was away, when this was the last place in the galaxy he wanted to be right now.

[There’s… a potential situation… developing.]

“You’re tellin’ me!” Reece answered. If he didn’t find this Vulcan ship soon February was going to think they had all forgotten about her.

[It’s the crisis Counselor we just brought aboard. She…] Blane paused.

“OH! VULCANS!” Dabin completely lost interest in anything the man who'd been speaking had to say as the sensors caught sight of the Vulcan ship. “Sorry Blane, gotta go!” Reece hung up the link to TC.

“Take us out of warp and hail them!” Reece ordered. He skidded down the ramp into the command area, and smoothed out his uniform top.

“Channel open,” Tenney reported, then added, “You’re welcome,” under her breath. She couldn’t help but feel a little jealous of the fact that Dabin Reece, no matter how annoying, was anxious get to the woman he loved.

A Vulcan woman appeared on the viewscreen. Dabin rubbed his hands together in anticipation.

[This is Captain Sullera of the Yeht-urgam. I bid you welcome Serendipity. Are you ready to retrieve your crew?]

“Boy howdy!”

[Excuse me?] She answered, puzzled.

“It means yes! Is the Trill female there? February Grace?”

[She is in our medical bay.]

“Medical bay? Is she all right?” Reece asked, his smile fading.

[She is well.] Sullera said, as she divided her attention between Reece and her own work.

“McKay probably just wanted to keep an eye on her.” Reece mused. “Look, how do you want to do this?”

[Your people are all in our cargo bay, except for the four in Sickbay. You may transport at your convenience. The sooner the better in fact.]

“Four in Sickbay? Is anyone hurt?” He knew February was there and probably McKay, but who were the other two?

[No one is hurt.]

“Cool. Let’s start with the four in Sickbay. Can I talk to them?”

Sullera did not answer, but merely patched him through to the Vulcan’s medical bay, specifically the office of their chief medical officer, who was sitting at his desk, across from Dalton McKay. The LMH was gesturing with his hands as he told a story, which Dabin caught the tail end of.

[And so the frog says to the Targ, y’all can keep the umbrella but I want my skeeter back.]

There was an awkward silence between the two, then McKay tried to explain.

[See son, cause a frog could never even hold an umbrella, let alone…]

[I understood.] The Vulcan replied.

“Hey!” Dabin yelled to get their attention. Both men turned toward the screen.

[A friend of yours, no doubt.] The Vulcan said, before departing the office to let them speak in private.

[Well look who showed up! How’s the ship Commander.]

“Uh, long story. The Vulcan chick told me there are four of you. How’s my Bru? Are you all ready to transport back?”

[Oh we’re ready. The question is, are you ready?]

“Of course I’m ready! I’ve been ready since she left! Do you need me to send you to Sickbay?”

[If you don’t mind.]

Dabin thought for a moment, about everything going on in Sickbay. Rada suffering a breakdown, the Admiral nearly dieing, and there was still a Domox prisoner down there.

“Does it have to be Sickbay? It’s kind of a zoo down there.”

[I suppose your quarters will be fine. I need a few things but I can get them when we get there.]

“I’ll be down there to meet you!”

Reece closed the channel, and signaled the Ensign as tactical to go ahead with the transport. He broke for the turbolift, but Tenney stopped him just short.


“What is it, Susan?” Reece said, his back to her and his body frozen in a running position.

“Who has the bridge, sir?”

“You do.”

“I do?” She asked, “But Lieutenant Parsons is the ranking…”

“Fine, you two can arm wrestle for it. I’m outta here.” Reece dove into the turbolift, quite literally, and headed straight for his quarters. At least, what were still his quarters for now. He had almost completed the remodeling on the Captain’s old quarters, and was going to be moving in as soon as the baby arrived.

As the doors to his quarters opened, he found McKay and Vedek Jariel standing in the living room.

“Uh.” Dabin grunted, before pushing past them and looking around.

“She’s in the bedroom,” Jariel said.

“Uh,” Dabin grunted again, and headed for the door.

“Nice to see you too,” The Vedek said, as Reece vanished.

As the doors snapped shut, Reece saw February sitting on the edge of the bed, still wearing a long medical gown courtesy of the Vulcans, and holding a blanket which was wrapped around a very tiny and very spotted little baby.

“Look Sophie, daddy’s home.”

February turned the baby so Dabin could see her face. For the first time in his life, Dabin Reece was speechless. He crept slowly towards her and she placed Sophie in his arms for the first time. He lifted her up slowly, and the biggest smile imaginable spread out across his face.

“Dabin, this is our daughter, Sophia Relanna Grace Reece. Sorry you missed the birth, you can’t really control these things.” She said shyly, hoping he wouldn’t be upset.

Dabin sat down on the bed beside her, and proceeded to kiss February all over her face. “Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you! Bru this is our child! Thank you so much!”

“Thank me? But we each helped bring her into this world.”

“Well yeah but, I mean you did all the, you know, stuff.” Dabin kissed Sophie on the forehead and bobbed her gently in his arms. “Oh you are definitely going to be pretty. You have your mommy’s cheeks, and eyes and chin. Were you alone?” Dabin asked, feeling panicked all of a sudden.

“No, the Vedek stayed with me, and Doctor McKay said everything went just like it was supposed to.

“Who’s Relanna?” Dabin asked, as the name clicked in his head.

“I’ll let the Vedek answer that one.” February said.

Dabin stood up and motioned for Bru to follow him, and he went back out into the living room. McKay and Jariel were both still there, grinning broadly at the sight of the very surprised Dabin Reece with his brand new baby.

“Thank you both so much.” Dabin said, “For being there for Bru.”

“It was my pleasure,” Jariel said. “More like she was there for me. I think her bravery was the only thing that kept me from passing out.”

“Just doin’ my job Commander. You and the Missus have a fine young lady there. I think its time for the Vedek and I to make a discreet exit and let you three have some time together. I’ll be back in a few hours to check on mom. She’s still on bed rest for a few more days before she can return to active duty.”

“But I wanna fly.” Bru pouted. Truth be told the only thing she wanted more then sleep was to just sit at the helm for a full shift and pilot.

“Soon enough darlin’.” McKay made his way towards the exit, after patting Bru reassuringly on the back. Jariel kissed February on the cheek, and followed the LMH out of the Reece family quarters.

“Now what!” Dabin said, as if he had just been handed a million bars of gold pressed latinum and had no clue what he wanted to spend them on first.

“If it’s all the same to you, daddy, I’d like you to spend some time with your daughter, while mommy gets some sleep.”

“Wait! Is she hungry? Does she need a change? Is she tired?” Dabin asked, having had no idea when the last time Sophie had a nap or feeding was.

February groggily answered each of his three questions in order, before disappearing into the bedroom.

“Definitely not, wait ten minutes, and never.”

Dabin Reece
Chief Science Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

921: The Other Side of the Door

by Wren Elton
After I Call No Way

-=Sickbay; USS Serendipity=-

“I’m sorry, Commander. I’m under very strict orders.” the timid young nurse repeated, his way of effectively finishing their conversation before he quietly slipped away.

Lair sighed heavily with frustration as she brought her hand to her head and turned back to the door behind which Rada Dengar was cut off from them all.

She felt like just pushing her way through, but the two security officers posted on either side of the door would likely stop her getting very far and it’d not be much good without a medical officer who could override the lock. Yet they all knew better than to try to make her leave sickbay and so she was staying right here until someone tried to walk in or out that door.

Since she’d returned she felt like she had been through half the staff in sickbay and not gotten any further. They all gave her the same answers depending on how intimidating they found an angry Bajoran; either that they couldn’t or wouldn’t let her through.

On Zanh Liis’ orders, a woman whose good books Kellyn was not even in the same library as at the moment, no one unnecessary but especially no one with a chance in Hell of recreating what Rada had done was to be allowed anywhere near him. Unfortunately Kellyn was all too clearly placed into that category.

If she genuinely thought that he would let something slip about how he was able to do it then maybe she wouldn’t be this insistent on getting in there. The Prophets knew, Kellyn thought, that knowledge of how to build such a destructive weapon was a weight no ethical engineer would want to carry for the rest of their life. Of course if he was really still there, the Rada Dengar she knew would never intentionally let knowledge like that escape from his own mind; he’d want to trap it there and to starve it in prayer that it’d just finally die.

Yet if he was able to tell her how or why he did what he did then it would be the greatest of all possible reliefs because it would tell her there was still some small part of him which remained. Still she found herself shaking her head in disbelief that of all people, a man as gentle as Rada he could have done this most horrifying of things.

As she’d watched the gathering particles lighting up the sky she’d felt a chill through her bones then she heard his name her stomach seemed to sink to depths from which it was still yet to rise. Kellyn was not afraid to face the darkness within herself, and more than anyone else she knew that that same darkness had haunted Rada, yet to attempt to grasp the true destruction as perhaps none of them could and to know that it was within the capacity such a tender man of good heart was something which struck at the very core of decency in every single one of them.

Rapidly stories had begun to flood the halls of the ship about just what state he was in. Those who knew how close they were would stop speaking when she stepped into the room, but there was always some tactless officer or some clueless Ensign who’d happily spread the rumours around.

They say he just froze and shut down, like an engine which seized up when it simply couldn’t face running anymore. Now he could just mumble and sit alone, occasionally stopping to cry, without the mind of a man or the freedom from conscience of an animal he was trapped in a nothingness from which she wasn’t sure he could return.

It was terrifying what she might see. Yet Lair Kellyn was never one to let a sight she didn’t want to face keep her from being there for a friend.

It was infuriating that with all their technology and all her knowledge, she was stopped by a door.

Slowly she ran her eyes along the offending door as if there must be some structural weak point in security she could exploit when she heard a soft voice from behind her.


She turned to see who it was.

“Wren,” Kellyn exclaimed as much as she said, recognising immediately the pale woman in a hospital gown standing in the doorway to a more public area of sickbay.

“I thought I recognised your voice.” Wren quietly explained, her voice still hoarse and a confused expression on her face which showed her head hadn’t fully cleared.

“I didn’t know Dr. Hartcort had allowed you out of bed.” Kellyn commented, though from how weak the woman still looked and the way she offered no response Kellyn wasn’t sure that he had. “How are you feeling?”

Wren smiled weakly, feeling it best not to answer that either. Instead she gestured towards the door and asked hopefully “Can we talk?”

Kellyn nodded that they could, knowing that she wasn’t getting anywhere here and realising that with Rada behind a locked door and Tam not on the ship that Wren may be feeling very lonely right now.

Wren moved slowly around the path to her room, taking small steps with none of her usual grace, and Kellyn stayed behind out of respect. It was a small room, really just a bed with a night stand beside it and a replicator tucked away into the corner, and as soon as Wren arrived she felt the need to steady herself against the wall.

Kellyn moved in to help steady her but Wren just waved her off as she lowered herself down to sit on the bed. “I’m okay.”

She noticed Kellyn’s eye had been caught by a rather large and untouched bowl of soup positioned on the night stand.

“My staff.” Wren explained with a sad smile.

“That was nice of them.” Kellyn replied, in her best and most polite small talk voice. “Very nice.”

Small talk was not something Wren was in the mood for right now.

“Listen, I don’t know you all that well.” Wren admitted awkwardly. “Maybe that’s my fault, when your mind can get all the impressions about someone that a Betazoid does you forget to get to know them. What I do know is just how much Rada respects you. He tells me you’re an honest person.”

Kellyn neither agreed nor objected, it was clear Wren wasn’t looking for verification because if Rada believed it then she would accept it too.

“Tell me honestly,” Wren asked looking up at Kellyn, “what’s happened to him?”

Kellyn suddenly felt very uncomfortable as Wren’s eyes pleaded for answers she wasn’t sure she could give.

“I’m not sure that it’s my place to say.”

“No one seems to think it’s their place.” Wren said with frustration entering her words as she seemed to look from wall to wall, realising just how much empathic noise there was on a vessel this size. “All over the ship, I can feel it. People are frightened. They’re shocked and they’re blaming him for it. Doctors are afraid to even walk by my room for fear that I’ll catch a stray thought and figure something out. I…I just don’t know what.”

She turned her eyes back to Kellyn.

“But you do.” She said with irritation as she folded her arms over her chest as if to try to make herself warmer. “So, I don’t care about decorum or appropriate conversation.”

Wren almost seemed to shake as she stressed, “I can feel his pain.”

Realising it was true, that even now Wren could sense Rada’s every thought and feeling, Kellyn felt so awful for her. Sympathy however was not something Wren wanted.

“You’re worried about him, I can tell that.” Wren swiftly observed, uncrossing her arms and desperately suggesting, “You want to know how he’s coping. You want to know if he’s coping. I can tell you that.”

Kellyn did want to know how Rada was coping but more than that, she knew Wren deserved the truth. There’d been times when Kellyn had not known herself what had happened to someone she loved and Wren needed somehow to understand the great sacrifice Rada had made. Yet as Kellyn tried to speak, she knew no words could quite express what she needed to say.

“What? You don’t believe I’ll tell you?” Wren objected furiously, her own anger overriding her Betazoid intuition. “Fine, I’ll tell you. He’s not coping. He’s slowly slipping away and I don’t know why. As long as I’ve known him there have been these…” she fought for the words as tears started to flood her eyes, “these barriers in place in his mind. They’re breaking down. He’s breaking down. There’s a…like a black hole within him which is still growing ever larger and it’s ripping him apart inside. Yet he can’t really feel it. His every mental defense has broken down and still I can not hear his thoughts. There’s…there’s nothing there to hear.”

She had to stop, she couldn’t go on as she took her head into her hands and desperately tried to stop herself feeling just how lost he’d become.

She shuddered as she tried to breathe, then slowly turned back to Kellyn and pleaded with her.

“Now you know. So tell me, please, what it is he’s done that’s so awful that it’s killing him?”

Horrified by what Wren was saying, Kellyn was feeling sick. She found herself shocked with no idea how she could explain really what he’d done.

Yet as she looked into Wren’s tearful eyes and fought off their sting biting at her own, she knew she had to tell them both.

“What he had to do.”

Wren Elton
Manager, Afterthought Café
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

920: Home: Three

by Zander Blakeslee
Days ago (after Home: Part Two)

-=The Blakeslee Family Homestead: Alaska, Earth=-

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

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

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

"What is bothering my son?" She asked pointedly.


Samthia sighed heavily and turned away from the window. Slowly she walked over to the plush couch that sat in front of the crackling fire and lowered herself into its warm cushions. She pulled her feet up and sat Indian style as she sipped her tea and gazed into the fire.

She did not immediately answer her mother in law’s question.

Helva moved toward the opposite end of the couch and sat down calmly, watching her daughter in law’s face. She know that this Deltan woman held a bond with her son deeper then even she might be capable of understanding.

Her son was changed from the accident on the Serendipity and she needed to know that he would be alright.

Still, she could tell that Samthia was wondering the same thing.

She was deeply bothered by Zander’s change in demeanor, his quiet, yet gentle, standoffishness. Helva could tell that even between her son and his wife a gap had formed. Not intentionally and not physically, but emotionally her son had pulled away from her.

Finally after a few long moments Samthia spoke.

“Mortality. He now knows that he is mortal and that he can die.” She said softly.

Helva thought for a moment before speaking. “He told you this?”

Sam shook her head slowly. “No.” She turned to face Helva. “I can feel it. He is afraid of it now. For the first time he truly understands that in an instant he could be gone.”

Helva nodded. “I thought that something like that might be the issue. Zander had always rushed into things swinging, with out any regard to his own safety like he was immortal.” She paused. “Eventually men like him will hit the wall of reality. I knew my son's day would eventually come.”

Sam looked up at her. “How?”

Helva smiled. “Because of you and the boys.”

Samthia looked stunned at the suggestion that she or her children might have something to do with Zander’s current emotional state. “I am afraid that I do not understand what you mean.”

The barbs in her voice clearly signaled to Helva that she mistook what she was trying to explain.

“I’m sorry dear. Don’t take it the wrong way.” She slid closer to Sam and took her hand into hers. “You see men who join Starfleet, especially the Blakeslees, tend to be rambunctious, foolhardy, and believe themselves to be near indestructible. You sort of have to be to do this kind of work. Throwing yourself into the maw of danger without any regard for your personal safety is the name of the game. Self sacrifice.”

Sam nodded understanding what Helva was relating.

“To die in the service of others is glorious to them. Knowing that you gave your life to save others, be it your crewmates or perfect strangers without hesitation is okay with them. It was their choice, their decision, their life to give.”

She squeezed Sam's hand. “But then they fall in love, get married, have children. No longer is it their life to give. They have committed their heart and soul to their wives and children.

“They are afraid that if they give their lives for someone else that they are not filling their commitment to their loved ones. They fear what would happen when they are gone. Who would care for them. Who would give their lives for them if the need be.”

Helva sighed. “I think that is why Tom held on for so long after his injuries. Even with out any capability to speak or possibly know what was going on around him. He refused to allow himself the rest that he so desperately deserved until he knew that his son would be alright.”

She wiped away a tear that had formed and leaned forward, hugging Sam tightly. “When you came into the picture, Tom instinctively knew that his son would be fine and that he was no longer needed. So he let go.”

She pulled away and looked at Sam with wet eyes. “Thank you for that. I never got a chance to thank you.”

Samthia’s eyes welled with tears at the Blakeslee matriarch's heartfelt admission.

Both women hugged again then pulled away and dried their eyes. The crackling of the fire was then only sound as they composed themselves. It was several moments before they spoke again.

“What shall I do?” Samthia asked.

Helva smiled despite her own deep motherly concerns. “There is nothing you can do. He has to find his own way this time.”

Sam shook her head. “I want to help. He is so quiet.” He put her hand to her chest. “He is quiet here.”

Helva understood that she meant their empathic bond. “He will figure it out. But he will never be the same. No one ever is.”

Sam inhaled deeply then let it out on a slow breath. “Shall I speak with him about it?”

Helva shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. I went through this same thing with Tom not too long after Zander was born. He was gravely injured in a plasma leak. After he healed he was not the same. I confronted him and asked him to leave Starfleet because it was ruining our relationship.”

She sighed, and smiled. “It did not go well. He took it as an insult. It was only after he talked to a good friend one night that he finally came to me and we talked. He eventually found a way to deal with both his commitment to Starfleet and his family and to be happy with it.”

Helva looked at Samthia. “Is there anyone that he might talk to on the ship?”

Samthia thought for a moment and nodded. “There is only one person on the Sera that I can think of. When we return I shall ask if he would speak with Zander for me.”

Just then the lights of Zander’s Humvee flashed across the large windows of the house as the large truck pulled up the driveway and into the barn. The wheels could be heard grinding to a halt in a large cloud of dust.

Both women shook their heads and smiled. Helva squeezed Sam's hand gently.

No futher words were spoken between the two wives of Blakeslees. None were needed. All that it was necessary to say had been said, and Samthia knew what she must do to help her husband to find his way back to the confident person he should be.

Commander Zander Blakeslee
Chief Security Officer
USS Serendipity
(Currently on Medical leave on Earth)