1096: Trust in Change

by Rada Dengar
After Meaningless Words

-=San Francisco, Earth=-

As Rada took an unintentionally deep breath he could feel the dust that disturbed the air drawing into his lungs. It was a sensation more familiar to the lonely desert than on this so often busy city street. The walls left a similarly filthy residue on his hands and the cloth he used to contact them. The dust that came with him seemed to suggest this place left a lasting impression on those it touched.

Yet as he wiped the cloth up along the frame of the door and found it easily removed the outer layer to reveal the faded natural colouring of the wood below, it told him that this place had remained almost entirely untouched for a very long time. It was like the world had simply continued on around it, forgetting it was even there.

There were several thick and heavy wooden boards crossed unevenly over the face of the door. They looked the strongest part of the entire building, and their comparative cleanliness suggested that this was the state the place had been in when whoever had been here decided to leave it forever. The sign on the front told nothing of who they were or where they’d gone, it said simply ‘Closed’ and appeared to have been nailed down so it could never be turned around again.

“Getting in shouldn’t be a problem,” he said over his shoulder. From the looks of this place, it keeping someone out was far more remarkable than him getting in. “Once I pry off these four boards I only have to get through the lock. It appears to be a fairly basic magnetic seal. If I counteract the magnet then it should just slide open.”

Wren said nothing in response, just kept standing back where she was; watching him, so he could only assume she had accepted his words. He could feel her eyes upon him, not on what he was doing but upon him, just as they had been the entire walk here. It wasn’t that he objected to being the focus of attention of a beautiful woman. Even if he did he wouldn’t dare to ask her to stop for fear he’d misread what was happening and would insult her by suggesting she was interested in someone like him.

He wasn’t vain enough to think that was why she was looking at him anyway. Sure he’d worried about being perfectly tailored to the tastes an alien species where the women ate their mates, all normal men did, especially considering that if that’s what they do to those they like they must surely do far worse to men who turn them down. He’d accepted however that normal sane non-homicidal women didn’t feel like that about him, and that was back when he’d thought far better of himself. He was only really uncomfortable as he thought of what Wren must surely be thinking of him. If he had truly done this horrible thing he’d forgotten, at a time while she was on the ship, then she didn’t need to be a Betazoid to have seen in the darkest depths of his wicked soul.

“Why do you want to get inside anyway?” He asked, trying to break the awkward silence. “Did you leave something in there?”

“No, it’s not that,” she answered a little too quietly. Something in her tone had said far more than she was prepared to.

Rada didn’t wish to pry however so he said nothing more. He didn’t have many tools with him but Mad’s husband had left her with a small magna-spanner which he realised he still had clipped to his belt. In all the confusion he’d forgotten to give it back after he’d hit his head but he’d have to remember to return it along with the icepack he’d now stopped using.

It wasn’t exactly the perfect equipment for the job but that was a luxury afforded to Starfleet engineers and not to him. Starfleet engineers were disciplined. Starfleet engineers wore near uniforms rather than these baggy grey clothes. Though he had managed to shave this morning, thanks to the sweet gift of a razor from Mad who declared that the hair didn’t suit him, he knew he didn’t even look like an engineer. Still, as he brought the spanner near to one of the nails he found it did indeed begin to draw it out and so hoped it would be enough to loosen these boards until he could remove them by hand.

However it soon became apparent that ignoring what he’d just heard in her tone wasn’t going to start sitting right with him.

“Are you okay?” He finally asked, turning to look over at her over his shoulder though deciding better of it in the end and facing back to what he was doing

He didn’t know Wren well but in his memories he’d remembered her being far different than she was now. She was bolder and she was happier. He remembered being in the café and watching her smiling the most heart warming smile. Now that smile was gone. She was different now and he wondered if this place wasn’t part of the reason.

“Yes, I’m okay,” she assured him, slowly exhaling, and he swore he could hear the weakness of her false smile. “It’s just…it’s hard for me to be back here.”

“Then why do you want to go inside?” he asked without thinking. Instantly he regretted it. If anyone should understand the needs to torture themselves it was him. Before he had a chance to remedy his statement however she had answered.

“Eight years ago, I made a big mistake here.”

Her words and more particularly the way they’d been spoken were so honest that he felt suddenly like he was infringing on a great intimacy even by being here let alone by asking things like this. He could really feel her watching him now.

“I’m sorry. I realise it’s none of my business,” he said, as he attempted to busy himself with his task. Clipping the magna-spanner back to his belt, he placed one hand on either end of the board to test how securely it was in place, but found the nails still weren’t quite loose enough for it to budge.

“No, it’s okay,” Wren answered with a sigh that seemed to suggest she’d really rather she’d not said anything. “I mean I have to tell someone about it, right?”

“You don’t have to if you don’t want to,” Rada assured her, feeling as he did like he sounded like the most horrible uncaring person in the galaxy for even suggesting it. “I mean obviously you can if you do want to. I just…”

“I know what you mean,” she said, as if to suggest he hadn’t offended her. “Sometimes it helps to have an outside opinion though, you know?”

Rada nodded his head, even knowing she couldn’t see his face as he continued working, unsure of what else he could do. Suddenly the silence seemed much more comfortable in comparison to this moment. It didn’t seem she was entirely satisfied with his lack of a response.

“Do you believe that people can change?”

“Well…” Rada said, worrying that any answer he gave would be the wrong one as he continued with his work. “I think people can learn.”

“But not change?”

“I didn’t say that,” he answered awkwardly. “I mean we all change over time, right?” Wren said nothing yet somehow he sensed she wanted him to continue. “I guess I’ve always thought people are sort of like computers. You change their programming and you change what they do but you won’t actually change what they are. Some cruel people can learn to be kind. Some kind people can learn to be cruel. No one though can learn to be naturally kind or cruel.”

“So then what wins out? What you are or what you learn?”

Rada sighed uncertain that he had any right to give an opinion here.

“I’d like to think it’s what you learn.”

“So if someone made a mistake…if they hurt you, you could trust them not to do it again?”

Wren’s words seemed to be becoming more emotional and this conversation was taking a confusing turn for Rada. He sighed again, trying to make sense of a situation that was making less and less.

“Why are you asking these questions?”

“Because I betrayed someone I love in this tavern,” Wren answered, her voice beginning to break. “He forgave me for it but I don’t know that he ever did fully trust me again.”

“I don’t know what to say to that,” Rada said quietly, as he was finally able to yank the first board away from the wall and to set it down onto the ground, never once having to make eye contact with the woman behind him.

“Just tell me, if it were you.” Wren inhaled slowly. “If the woman you were in love with, the only woman you’d ever loved, got herself pregnant to another man. If she then abandoned you with nothing but a cowardly note to tell you she’d gone. Could you ever trust her again?”

“Well, I…”

“Just tell me honestly.”

“Honestly…I don’t know,” Rada said, as he moved on to the second board, hating himself for not being able to give her a better answer and for not knowing whether it was time to turn around. “I mean, I’d have to know what happened to decide.”

“She was stupid,” Wren blurted out immediately. “She didn’t know what she wanted. We, I mean she and…I mean he and I, had been going out for a little over a month and everything was good. We were happy. We were in love. Then one night, he decides to do something sweet for me.”

-=Flashback 2381, San Francisco=-

It was a beautiful afternoon outside. It was a beautiful afternoon inside as well now that everything looked so clean. Stretching her body lazily out along the bed, Wren couldn’t help but smile at what had become of this room since he had been here. Though he wasn’t the first man she’d had in this room, he was the first one to actually clean the walls for her in her sleep. Bit by bit he was going through and fixing this place up for her. It was a strange experience that he was really making things better.

His side of the bed was empty now as he’d gone into the Academy earlier in the day so she had plenty of room to stretch herself out. She was in no hurry after all. The bed was warm and she had nowhere she needed to be just yet.

The afternoon sun was hitting her face through what before he’d come along had only theoretically been the window. Under normal circumstances she’d have grumbled about this but this morning she was quite keen to bask in it. She’d been through many nights when the sun the next day seemed to be attempting to make her head explode and so it felt good to have it feeling good instead. It felt weird, like a lot of things he’d brought with him, but it definitely did feel good.

She decided to close her eyes for a little longer. There’d be plenty of time to be awake later when he was back. She was aware of course that all this extra rest she was getting could lead her to wear him out and she wouldn’t want that. Well, maybe she would.

“Knock, knock.”

Now Wren grumbled as she overheard the voice of a friend, feeling the need to describe the sensation of her rapping on the nearby window as she did it.

“Knock, knock!”

She made the knocking so loud that Wren worried about the stability of the glass. She’d dumped that nice paramedic months ago and so if Di did hurt her hand now then Wren didn’t know who she expected to help her fix it. Knowing Di though a trip to the emergency room would be seen as the perfect chance to meet a new paramedic or even a handsome young doctor. A cardiologist would make the most sense as she’d eventually break their heart anyway.

“Hey girl. Open the damn door,” she heard Di’s rather loud cry. “Come on, I’ve brought your favourites; hot coffee and bitchy gossip.”

Wren suspected that Di had much greater preference for the latter, although the former did sound delicious right about now. This was especially true given Di had been flirting with the poor guy in the coffee shop for years now and he seemed convinced he’d just have to find the right quantity of extra sugar to give her before she’d agree to go out with him.

“Alright!” Wren finally declared, forcing her eyes to open. “I’ll be right out.”

Half awake, Wren swang her legs over the side of the bed and managed to stand. She quickly scanned the floor around her for some clothes. Finding instead they’d been placed in the closet, she grabbed the first things she could find and threw them on.

As she did she realised there was something in the pocket of the shirt. Taking it out she found it was a card saying simply, “I love you. Have a great day.” She smiled, he must have left this for her here to find.

He really was so sweet and she promised herself she’d look at it properly once she was awake, before putting it away again. Getting a quick glance of herself in the mirror on the cupboard door she ran a hand up through her hair to try to get it into some decent shape, but she decided it was likely a lost cause until at least after she’d had a shower. There was no time for that now though as the smell of coffee guided her to the front door of the empty unlit tavern far more than her sense of sight.

“Hurry up!” Di complained, getting even more impatient than usual, and repeatedly knocking on the wooden door.

Undoing the lock, Wren opened the door to find Di with a frustrated look on her face at having been made to wait. She was dressed in what looked like it must have been last night’s outfit. Wren could always tell because at night Di always thought that no one noticed she’d chosen dresses a size too small just to show off her long exposed legs. Of course, she secretly hoped everyone noticed.

“Coffee,” Wren said, extending her hand.

“Hello to you too,” Di objected as she handed the nearest of the two coffee cups she was carrying in the handy cardboard tray to Wren.

Wren ignored the comment as she savoured that sweet taste of the first sip of caffeine; it truly did taste far better than the coffee itself.

“You may enter,” she said with a nod of approval, though Di had already decided that she was going to and pulled out a chair at the nearest table, leaving Wren to be the one to close the door.

“You missed out on a hell of a night last night. Let me guess, you were with what’s his name again?”

“Yes, I was with what’s his name,” Wren answered dryly.

“How are things going with him anyway?” Di asked without stopping to allow Wren to answer or giving any indication with her tone that she cared for her to do so. “You’ll have to tell me everything, but don’t tell me anything until after I’m done talking. You know Cam from work? The boring lanky one?”

“I know he’s a nice guy,” Wren answered, though she did so without really looking up as the coffee was rapidly disappearing.

“Of course he’s nice. He has niceness pouring out of every end of him,” Di answered, exasperated. “But we’re not all like you. We can’t all just settle for nice.”

“I haven’t settled for anyone,” Wren retorted. “He’s kind. He’s sweet. He’s a great guy. You know, he left me a card this morning in my shirt pocket to tell me he loved me?”

Di’s paused to give an exaggerated look that seemed across the table to suggest ‘you poor dear’ before she continued on. Even knowing that none of the characteristics that Di looked for in a man were something to aspire to, Wren certainly didn’t like how it felt to get that look. Worse though was how strongly she could feel Di meant it. She considered that maybe the man she’d found could be a little sappy but she didn’t think there was anything wrong with that .Luckily Di’s attention always quite quickly found its way back to herself.

“Anyway back to my story. You wouldn’t believe it. Last night he actually tried to come out with us. Can you imagine it? He was in the middle of the club, nursing a single beer half the night, barely talking and when he did it was about stuff none of us had even heard of. Then it gets to about midnight and he finally marches his way through the crowd and up to Trish, then he asks her in this tiny little voice if she’d like to go out with him some time to some poetry reading. Obviously she laughed in his face. I don’t know what the hell he was thinking.”

“Trish can very cruel when she wants to be,” Wren thought aloud, though her Betazoid senses made it quite clear that Di shared neither empathy nor sympathy for the young man.

“Can’t we all,” Di thought right back as she took a swig from her coffee. “It’s not worth doing the nice thing all your life.”

“Come on…”

“No, think about it. After we ditched Cam last night we went through five different clubs. We danced. We got wasted for free off drinks from more guys than we could count. Whereas what did you and what’s his name do?”

Wren was reluctant to answer as she wouldn’t have exactly called the experience fun.

“He had a lot of studying to do. We ended up just spending the night in.”

Di then gave her that ‘poor dear’ look again.

“There’s nothing wrong with spending a night in,” Wren weakly protested, though the words didn’t sound like they were her own.

“No, but it’s never just one night,” Di argued back. “Before you know it you’re getting to bed by ten o’clock and looking forward to a shandy at the end of your monthly puzzle night.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. You know me. That’s not going to happen.”

“Then prove it,” Di said in her most challenging tone. “Come out with us tonight and get completely blitzed.”

“You know I can’t do that. The tavern’s open tonight.”

“The tavern is where other people come to get drunk,” Di complained. “The purpose of tonight is to get drunk yourself. Come on, you used to be so impulsive. If I were running this place…”

“If you were it’d be closed down within the month.”

“There’s no need to get snappy,” Di answered, slamming down the last dregs of her drink. “Just because you’re bored with your life doesn’t mean the rest of us should suffer.”

“I’m not bored,” Wren protested, her voice now getting louder to emphasise the point. Di simply dismissed it with a snort of disbelief.

“Think about it. How do you think your boy knew which outfit to leave the card in? You’re already getting predictable, even to someone like him.”

Now Wren was getting angry. She was angry at Di and she was suddenly very angry at that card. Neither of them got to suggest she was boring.

“You know what? Get out,” she demanded, even knowing from experience that Di would be back anyway.

“Whatever,” Di said, standing from the table to leave but of course leaving her empty cup where it was for Wren to clean up. “At least one of us has the guts to admit when they’re bored here.”

-=End Flashback=-

Suddenly Wren stopped telling the story, her breathing having gotten progressively heavier throughout as she thought of how angry she’d felt back then. She treated him so badly and it’d all been such a ridiculous waste.

“Are you alright?” Rada asked with concern, finally no longer able to keep going with his work now that all four boards had been removed and so lay on the ground beside him. He turned to see tears in her eyes.

“Why do you trust me so much?” She blurted the question out.

“What do you mean?” Rada asked with confusion, wishing he understood what he needed to do to help.

“I mean….” Wren started out with her voice full of concern, but seemed to stop herself before she said something she really didn’t want. “I mean I’ve basically asked you to break into someone else’s property for me and you don’t even question it? Why?”

Rada stopped, momentarily stunned as he realised what he’d just done. He looked to the boards and then he looked back up at her. He honestly had no idea.

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

1095: Dreams for Our Children

By February Grace and Lance Hartcort
Time: Current

“Let us beware and beware and beware…of having an ideal for our children.
So doing, we damn them.” D.H. Lawrence

-=Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Earth=-


Gillan Tress began pumping her short, chubby legs furiously as her father struggled to carry her. [[Down, down. Airplane!]] She signed again. Her cherubic face glowed twin apples of bright pink across her cheeks, eyes as blue as Earth’s Caribbean sea glinted in the light. [[Down!]] She made a soft, frustrated noise at the back of her throat, and catching the look in her mother’s eye as she continued to struggle, she stopped fighting, looked into Jariel’s eyes and signed one more word. [[Please?]]

Jariel smiled.

He set her down and, before she could take off, he touched her face affectionately. [[I was going to let you go anyway,]] he assured her. She grinned as she looked up to Fleur for reassurance that she could indeed go exploring now, in this, her idea of heaven or any such place of reward for good little Bajoran girls who mind their parents and hold still for their doctors when they want to scan them…again.

Fleur nodded her approval and Tress squealed. She took off running with her parents and the rest of the Sera's stateside, celebratory crew in tow.

Vol Tryst, at the back of the gathered assembly, paused. He tilted his head to the side a moment. He was about to turn around but a familiar, gentle hand squeezed his shoulder. The woman it belonged to nudged her head back toward the man Vol was focusing his keen senses on.

"I know that you're the counselor and all, but it doesn't take a Betazoid to know that guy is pretty pi..." she stopped before finishing her sentence. "Anyway. Maybe what he needs most right now is a friend."

Vol considered. Before he could speak, February began again.

"I promise, you're welcome to take a crack at him after the movie, but I know a little lady over there who will be very disappointed if she doesn't get Vol to sit next to her during the show."

Just as she spoke the words Tress turned back, darting between adults to find out what was taking Vol so long. She signed at him furiously and he turned his fine, handsome face toward hers. He was unable to stop a smile despite the thunderhead of emotions that was hovering over the silent figure across the room. [[Okay, Tress. I'm coming.]]

The child would not take any chances, though- she seized hold of Vol's hand and pulled as hard as she could. The Counselor took off with a stuttering start, his shoes skidding on the highly polished floor. "Good luck," he called back.

Bru sighed. She took a deep breath, squared her shoulders, and headed off in the direction of that tall, dark cloud.

Once she was within a close enough distance that she knew he'd hear her, she addressed the Serendipity's Chief Medical Officer.

“Hey, there, you. Buzzkill.”

Hartcort looked up. His lips twisted, one eyebrow slowly elevated above the other, painting his features as the perfect picture of incongruity, left to right. He’d been called many things in his life before, but never that.

Instead of speaking he turned his index finger in on himself, poking it into his chest.

“Yeah, I’m talkin’ to you.” Bru plopped herself down beside him and watched, shaking her head and chuckling slightly as little Tress tried signing to Sophie as she squirmed in Dabin’s arms. “They’re going to see Big Bird and Elmo in the holographic theater over there,” she indicated the sign that said One Big Sky- Remastered in full holographic surround for another generation at the Smithsonian.

“I think one of the absolute best things Earth ever did for the rest of us was inventing the Muppets. Five hundred years later still classic.”

Lance watched Tress as she skipped along, grabbing at the goggles of her beloved aviator’s hat with dimpled fingers and securing them down over her wrinkled nose. He couldn’t help but frown as the rest of the group vanished into the empty theater, leaving him and Grace alone in the vast, echoing foyer.

“Doctor,” February reached out and placed a soft, pale hand upon his shoulder. He glanced down at it for a moment, observing how her fingers, so thin and spindly, looked like they were spun from glass. How such slight, unassuming digits could ever race across the helm of a vast ship like Serendipity and command her at will, or manage and control with speed and accuracy the power of one such as Alchemy, never ceased to amaze him.

“Lance.” He said softly. “You’ve redecorated my Sickbay, I think you’re entitled to use my first name by this point.”

“I still want to do something about the potted plants,” she said absently, twirling a strand of her hair around her fingertip. “I never did quite hit the mark with those.” She shook the thought from her mind now and looked up toward the theater doors. They swished shut now, enveloping the group and leaving behind only the sound of a chorus of laughter- Dabin's, Sophie’s and Tress’ all in harmony, floating up and up toward the ceiling and into her ears. “It’s good to see all the children having such a good time. And I do mean all.”

Hartcort’s expression soured completely. The moment that he was certain the sound system inside the theater would mask it from all ears but those of the Trill seated next to him, he let go the last of his control and made a sound that could only rightfully be called a growling shout of frustration. He launched out of his seat and propelled forward, pacing away. His hand tugged back at his hair before finally coming to a rest at the back of his collar.

”I could’ve cured her, damn it. We could’ve done it, and she’d be able to hear the sound of that laughter now.” He shook his head sadly, looking up first at the propellers of the great planes suspended overhead and then down at the shining floor beneath his feet. “We could’ve done it, February. It’s such a,”

“Don’t say it.” February stood and approached him, arms clasped around her middle. She shook her head swiftly, once, and then sought out his eyes with her own. “Don’t say it’s a waste. Don’t say it’s a shame. Don’t say that she should be anything other than she is in this moment.”

“But she should be. You can candy coat in any fashion that you want but when the hammer hits the nail, she is not what she should be.” He turned and paced a few steps away before turning and coming back. He voice was low and sad. “This is not how she was meant to be. We are not talking able a child who was born with out her hearing. A child that was designed not to hear by Fate or by a higher being or beings or whatever.

“She was injured, hurt. Tress’ hearing was stolen from her buy the evil acts of her fellow man.” He crossed his arms. “We could have fixed that, put her back to where she should be.”

February simply listened, knowing that he wasn't anywhere near finished yet.

He sighed. “Despite all of the politically correct drivel that people spill she will always be handicapped by this choice. Sure, she’ll lead a full life. As full as it is possible for a deaf girl.” He lifted his eyes to Bru. “But despite all of the pleasantries and euphemisms that we drone on about those who are handicapped being able to lead a normal life, it’s not true. The real truth is that there will be things that she will never be able to do.” He glanced up at the various items of flight on display and shook his head.

“Tress has been handicapped today by choice. A choice was made to keep her hearing from her.” He rubbed his eyes. “This time her hearing was not taken from her by evil men, but by those closest to her.”

Grace could hold back no longer. “Did you turn out to be just what your parents wanted you to, Lance?”

Hartcort blinked. “I don’t see what,”

“I sure as hell didn’t.” She bit her lip and considered her words a long moment before continuing. “I don’t know you that well yet. You may be everything your parents ever dreamed of. Mine- mine pretend that I’m dead now because of the choices I’ve made. But that’s not my point.”

“What is your point, Lieutenant?”

“So, I only get to call you Lance when I agree with you?" She smiled gently, but Hartcort's expression did not alter. "My point, Doctor, is that you did everything you could do today. You weren’t able to do what you wanted to do, but you were able to do what the patient needed you to. You did what was, on this day, in the best interests of the family.”

“Self serving.”

“Maybe, maybe not. Have you got kids, Hartcort?”

Lance’s eyebrows now both shot heavenward. “Not of which I’m currently aware.”

“Well, my symbiont has been a parent several times over. I’m new at this, but Grace has been keeping me from freaking out, well, most of the time.” She watched as he analyzed very closely the wing of another plane on display. She gazed up toward the cockpit, again, her mind wandering. “I wonder what it was really like to fly one of these bad boys. Not on a holodeck. The real thing. I bet it was terrifying. Exhilarating and terrifying. Sort of like being a parent.”

Hartcort said nothing, now taking his turn to simply listen.

“Can I tell you the big secret about parenting?”

He waited.

“None of us have any idea what the hell we’re really doing.” She shivered, as though chilled by the ghost of some long-ago forgotten memory, only waking to the moment again after years lost in her slumbering mind. “We like to think we learn as we go. But every kid, every situation, every day is different and there is no way to know until years down the road if we botched up the job or not. Kind of like medical research. The far-reaching implications and repercussions of every decision can’t possibly be considered at the time a decision or experiment, if you will, is undertaken.”

She placed her hand upon his arm, and he locked eyes with her at last.

“Sometimes we do okay. Sometimes we screw up, royal. Most days we can only hope that we heed Lawrence’s warning and so don’t do any real harm.”

“Lawrence’s warning?” His voice was uneven, hoarse as he spoke the words.

“Yeah. D.H. Lawrence warned us against having ideals for our children. Said that ‘So doing, we damn them’.”

“But what about making decisions that,”

“They did what they felt was best, Lance. Today. Tomorrow they may change their minds. If they do, then the technology will be there. Who knows how many people will be helped by it in the interim, even though it didn’t help Gillan Tress today.”

“But the time lost,” Lance’s voice dropped, only now conveying his true frustration. “I’m not sure this will be am option in the future. The body has a way of adapting and recycling. I don’t know how long those nerves will stay alive. Plus, the longer she waits, the loss of time with out speaking…”

“So she’ll learn it again, if and when the time is right.” February only now began to consider something else, and so decided to leave him with this thought before finally giving him some space. “You didn’t fail.”

Hartcort’s eyes now flashed anger- she’d touched too close and clearly hit a nerve. “What did you say?”

“You didn’t fail, when she lost her hearing to the fever on Bajor. You saved her life, Lance. Any other doctor, and she may well only be a memory now. She may have been someone I would never have gotten to meet.” Bru’s eyes held tears now, and silently they crept over her lashes and splashed down her face. “Forget for a moment her parents- I know they’re grateful to you for all you did. I just want to tell you now that I’m grateful now. So thank you, for all you did for Tress and all the rest on Bajor." She wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand. “Someday, when the time is right, she may come to you herself and ask you to restore her hearing. Or.”


“Or she may ask you to sign the service someday when she gets married, knowing that she wouldn’t have lived to see the day if not for you. So you’d better get to work on earning your Captain’s rank by then, my friend. You wouldn’t want to have to turn down such a request on a technicality.” She turned to go. Hartcort's anguished voice echoed softly over her shoulder.

“I could’ve done so much more.”

She looked back at him as she grasped hold of the handle of the door leading into the theater, prepared to join the others.

“Today. Ask yourself if you’ve done all you can at the end of the day, every day. If you can answer yes to that question, then there’s nothing more you can require of yourself.” She smiled at him with the gentle, sincere empathy she was known for, inclining her head as she added one final thought. “Until tomorrow.”

Doctor Lance Hartcort
Chief Medical Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


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

1094: An Hour to Spare

By Ashton Ledbetter and Jamie Halliday
After For Ledbetter or for Worse

-=Engineering, USS Poseidon=-

The two men congratulated each other for only a few moments, before reality annoyingly began to set in. They had only an hour to make some sort of move before Brody would return expecting his drive to be active or to be able to inflict bodily harm upon them. At least there was comfort in the fact that he probably preferred the former, though not in the possibility he’d just want to follow it with the latter anyway.

Jamie’s face took on a curious contemplative look, like someone who was wondering if they had locked their keys in the ignition of their automobile. He had just reached an unfortunate realization. “When Brody gets back, we’re going to die, aren’t we?”

The unconcerned manner in which he said it struck Ashton as almost convincing like he truly wasn’t worried by the prospect. Yet while bravery was one thing, they say the only people who faced death without concern were the foolish and the miserable. Jamie was never miserable and he quickly proved to Ashton that he was no fool, as he gave away his concern while for the first time since he’d known him his always talkative friend truly rambled.

“What do you think we should do for the next hour? I think I would like to play pinball, or maybe read a good book. A very short, good book. Then again it’s not like it will be a bother for a long time if we don’t get to finish it. On the bright side we don’t have to worry about the ending being a let down.”

A sad smile passed over Ashton’s face as he could see that Jamie wanted to die as he’d lived but just in this moment he didn’t know quite how to make the smile come easily. Ashton then considered that he too wanted to die just how he’d lived, or at least how he’d always pictured himself as living. He’d like to die bravely, the type of death a man like him could be proud of. He stuck his chest out a little further.

“Well even if we do die, we will be remembered as heroes for what we’ve done here. If anyone lives to tell what we’ve done here. We foiled the plot. I hope…” Ashton replied.

Jamie’s response was one of confusion. For a second he almost didn’t believe his ears but then they’d never lied to him before.

“How very unselfish of you, Ashton.”

Though from anyone else Ashton would have taken it as an insult how truly shocked Jamie appeared, when one spoke their mind as often as Jamie did friends learnt to take insults only where intended. Of all people to die with, a man whose honesty you had no doubt of and who called you a friend wasn’t such a bad choice. Before any sentimental words could have been exchanged however they found themselves rudely interrupted.

“What are you two talking about?” Powell demanded, having has enough of watching the two of them commiserate.

Ashton’s eyes grew wide with anger as he stepped right up to Powell. He was determined he would not die backing down from a man like this.

“Oh for goodness sake, you incompetent hack of an engineer, your CO just put a sixty minute clock on my life that I don’t intend to let run out. Would you just butt out! We have a drive to fix.”

Ashton spun back around and Jamie could only just snicker as Powell was left staring in shock. He’d never seen Ledbetter quite so adamant about something. Powell attempted to dismiss Ledbetter with a wave, though it was purely an ego exercise, not that Powell’s ego was in any way out of shape, as Ashton had clearly dismissed himself without concern. Powell then awkwardly moved away and went back to his own duties. In an hour Ashton would either be dead or have the drive repaired, and Powell was entirely fine with either result.

Once Powell was clear, Ashton and Jamie once again huddled.

“Like I was saying,” Jamie repeated, “how very unselfish of you.”

“Well none of us are getting out of this alone. Either we all go home, or none of us do.” Ledbetter replied, subtly scanning the room to make sure none of Powell’s lackeys were eavesdropping, though doing so in the most open and heroic way possible.

Jamie smiled a little proudly at his friend.

“That’s not true, you could have taken the easy way out.” Jamie pointed out. “Everyone else may have died but you would have gotten everything you’ve wanted since you ended up on this ship. Very few people would have turned that down.”

Though he was rarely one to shy from praise, in fact if praise could be bottled he’d normally quite happily drink, swim and bathe in the stuff, there was something about hearing it from an always honest source that made it different.
“What you call the easy way would have been the most difficult. I would not have wanted to live with leaving you behind.” Ashton turned away and busied himself with a console.

Though any other man may have just left the issue open to interpretation and left with the meaning he preferred, Jamie was not any other man. Even with the whole likelihood of being either outright obliterated or at least blown to several billion very difficult to reassemble bits issue hanging over his head, he still wouldn’t want to be.

“Is that you plural, or you singular?” Jamie asked. Ashton was silent for a few moments, before abruptly changing the subject.

“I don’t intend to spend the next sixty minutes waiting to die and playing pinball. We’re going to give Brody what he wants. Or at least make him think he’s getting what he wants.”

Jamie was no fool and knew exactly what Ashton was getting at. “But how are we going to get him into a holodeck? Does this ship even have a holodeck?

“We can use the emergency containment field around the drive as a projection surface. This vessel is equipped with a holographic communications system as well. If I can tap into the emitting diode, I can project the false image of the drive over the real drive.”

“That’s an incredibly long shot at best. We’ll probably just be found out and we’ll die several minutes before we had to,” Jamie thought aloud, and Ashton wondered briefly if Jamie hadn’t just picked the worst time in history to discover pessimism. “Still, maybe we can alter the readings easily enough to make him think it’s working in a test. However, what happens when he tries it for real and nothing happens?”

“Believe me, he won’t want me around while he’s attempting to butcher the timeline. He’ll find a way to go back on my deal with him and send us back to the Serendipity before he tries to use the drive for real.”

“Then won’t he just chase after us?” Jamie asked, before a thought occurred to him. “Unless he can’t.”

“I know that look,” Ashton commented, seeing Jamie had something in the works. “However there’s no way they’ll let us near any of the other propulsion systems.”

Jamie however seemed to be getting quite excited, moving over to look up at the drive in wonder.

“You don’t need to climb to the top of the tree to light it on fire,” Jamie suggested. “Didn’t you say the drive used significantly more power when it was engaged for an actual jump?”


“So what if we create a trip switch at above the test level that redirected the excess power inwards?”

“It’d probably burn out half the systems on the ship; that is assuming it didn’t just blow it up,” Ashton realized a plan forming in his mind. “And as luck would have it, with you setting up the projection, I may just be able to do it in under an hour.”

Now Jamie was really smiling.

“Of course you realize if we’re still on the ship at the time then they will still kill us,” Jamie observed. “That would be rather disappointing.”

Ashton smiled back, noting just what difference a little hope could make.

“As you said before, it won’t bother us for long.”

Ashton Ledbetter
Temporal Investigations Observer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Crewman Jamie Halliday
Engineering Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

1093: Further Complications

By Tam Elton (as told by Rada Dengar) and Lair Kellyn
Following To Plan and Not to Plan

-=Sickbay, USS Serendipity=-

Kellyn could see that Tam was getting anxious. His tiny feet consistently rose from and fell to the floor as he’d taken to walking back and forth by the internal sickbay door, which led to the entrance. He had his small hands cupped behind his back and that sweet worried look on his face. The only possible word Kellyn could have used would be to say that he was pacing, just as Rada was known to do when he had a problem on his mind and didn’t think anyone was watching.

Children often picked up these habits without their parents even realising it. Arie right now was in Lance Hartcort’s office, tired though unable to sleep, and meditating in the way she’d taken to doing more and more to deal with it in a Vulcan way when Bajoran emotions became unwelcome.

Wondering about Rada now Kellyn couldn’t help but worry about what might be happening to him. That reminded her that the child before her likely had far more on his mind than just the fate of the two missing crewmembers. He really must have felt so alone on this ship.

“Hey you,” she said as non-threateningly as she could and the small child stopped perfectly still and turned his head, his eyes reflecting his concern for what she might say. Though Kellyn’s instincts under the circumstances were to make a joke about him making himself dizzy or her being the one who’d have to fix it if he wore a hole in the floor, the mother in her told her that right now even the gentlest of teasing would only sound to Tam like something more to worry about. So instead she just patted the seat beside where she was sitting while she was catching her breath and invited him over. “I could use some company. How about you sit down?”

He seemed lost as he thought about her offer, not wanting to say no to her, but also not wanting to move any further away from the door than he had to. His eyes actually flashed back and forth between the two locations uncertainly.

“There’s a pretty good view of the door from here, you know,” she added and this seemed to solve Tam’s dilemma for him. The child nervously hurried over and climbed up on the chair beside her, immediately settling in the perfect position to watch the door again.

It was evident that he hadn’t entirely registered that her request for company would involve some sort of conversation as he chose just to sit and stare in silence.

She looked down at him and smiled sadly.

“So Tam, what do you want to ask me?”

The child simply shrugged his shoulders as if he didn’t know of anything to ask her, although didn’t know how to say it would have been a more accurate description.

She didn’t imagine he’d have much to say right now anyway. She wished that she had more she could say herself but after a long pause there was only a single sentence she felt he’d even really hear.

“They’ll be alright.”

Tam did indeed seem to hear her sentence, which he took as far more than just the simple meaning regarding the fate of Dane Cristiane and Trev Sterling. He turned his little head and looked up at her with an expression that seemed to ask how she could know that and if she could really be sure. He didn’t feel like he could be sure of anything right now.

“I know them,” Kellyn answered the question he hadn’t asked yet. “I know what they’re capable of getting through.”

Tam found her reasoning very familiar. Though he turned his face back to the door quickly so she didn’t see the expression in his eyes, Kellyn could tell from his tone that he wasn’t so certain that anyone would get through this.

“This is a very unusual situation,” he said, looking down from the door for just a moment to observe his lightly swinging legs.

“Yes, it is,” Kellyn acknowledged, turning her head slightly as if to catch his downcast eyes and adding, “Unusual situations can be scary for everyone.”

Tam didn’t seem at all to register this permission to be afraid, his eyes just once again moving up to the door. Though he looked like he was once again going to silently retreat into his worries, he instead softly spoke a sentence that pretty much summed up what all of them were thinking right now.

“I wish I knew what was happening.”

“That tells me something about you, Tam. Something important.” Kellyn nudged him gently with her elbow and Tam tilted his head, his curiosity so strong it divided his attention just for an instant between the woman beside him and the unknown beyond the door they both fixed their eyes upon. “Do you know what that is?”

Tam shook his head.

“It tells me that you’re very smart.” Kellyn stopped talking a moment, forced to again chase after her breath and cursing her lungs for the fact that it simply refused to let her catch up to it.

“Many people, when they’re afraid, they want to bury their heads in the sand. Like those big, dumb, angry birds from Earth that Arie was doing a report on for school. What did they call them, do you remember?”

“Ostriches.” Tam replied, trying valiantly to continue with Lair along her train of thought even though he was just as certain as she was that her attempts at distracting him were meeting with little actual success.

“That’s right. Ostriches.” Kellyn nodded, observing the continued tension in the boy’s shoulders, his hypervigilant posture gave away just how smart he really was. “They like to bury their heads in the sand, hide from things they’re afraid of. Even if it’s to the detriment of themselves and everyone around them.”

She now placed her hand beneath his chin and gently turned his head until he was forced to look up at her or risk appearing impolite, which would be as unthinkable to him as speaking aloud of his fears.

“You’re anything but an Ostrich, Tam Elton,” Lair decreed. “Do you know why people feel afraid in situations like this one?”

Again, he did not answer.

“Because they’re so smart they realize just what is at stake. But there’s another thing that smart people do in situations like this, and I want you to remember it for later, okay?”

Tam nodded. “What is that, Commander Lair?”

“That you can’t let your fears paralyze you, or your thoughts. No matter how bright you may be, the difference most of the time between staying alive and ending up dead is just how quickly you can think on your feet.”

-=Main Bridge, USS Poseidon=-

“Captain on the bridge.”

The Ensign’s voice felt like an announcement to the world that she’d been doing things she shouldn’t have as Denise rushed from the turbolift and returned to her rightful position in the captain’s chair.

She hoped that if she were lucky then nothing of consequence would have happened during her absence and so no questions would be asked later on about where she’d been. However she’d barely even sat down before she learnt her luck had not been so good.

“Lieutenant Peterson has been trying to contact you, Captain.”

Though wishing to swear right about now, Denise instead cleared her throat then straightened her uniform as she discretely reattached the combadge she’d intentionally left on the chair.

“Very well,” she said, inhaling slowly to retain casual composure and doing her best to make it sound like everything was normal. “Put him on the screen.”

The very second that the image of the Sera’s bridge appeared on the screen Denise heard the turbolift doors swish open behind her. She felt a pair of eyes seek her out and begin staring through her.

“Captain,” Brody drawled slowly, acknowledging her as he moved to stand over Denise’s shoulder at the weapon’s console behind her. He’d managed to compose himself quite well on the outside even if coming so close to failure as he’d just done would make the inside much harder to fix.

Denise offered no similar greeting in recognition of Brody, instead directing her attention purely to the screen before her. He could tell, though, that she was doing so intentionally to avoid looking him in the eye.

Maybe it was her paranoia finally getting to her, but somehow she could have sworn that he knew, feeling his stare upon her. If he did though, she was still also hoping he wasn’t going to call her on it just now. For all he knew so far she’d been off the bridge to check on the supply of pens in sickbay and she wasn’t going to act like her actions were anymore suspicious than that.

“What is it, Peterson?” she asked, with impressive confidence.

Peterson’s face clearly reflected his confusion as just moments before he’d seen that neither Denise nor Brody was available and now as clear as day he could see them both.

[I’m sorry to bother you…] he started, unsure of whom he should by addressing here. [However one of the prisoners claims to know of a potentially dangerous flaw in the Poseidon’s operations.]

Denise shifted awkwardly in her chair, worrying that Blane may be about to reveal what she’d only recently discovered about the tampering with the data from Engineering.

“Who has made this claim?” she asked, trying to allow herself enough room to be able to request to deal with this in private before too much had been said.

Peterson went to open his mouth but before he did Brody cut in.

“Let me guess. Commander Blane?”

[Yes, sir,] Peterson answered from where he was so awkwardly standing in front of the Sera’s captain’s chair. [How did you know?]

Brody stepped out from the weapon’s console, feeling a little bolder but feeling more strongly the need to assert how in control he was so he could prove it to himself.

He observed TC Blane, standing just towards the edge of the screen and with an expression of utter disdain in his so often emotionless eyes. So he seemed to address this statement to him even as he made sure Denise felt he was addressing it to her.

“I know the type of man he is and I know what he thinks he’s doing. The Commander thinks he can deceive me. He thinks I can be distracted long enough to let him follow through on his own agenda.” Denise’s skin almost seemed literally to crawl as Brody paused and his eyes moved for the briefest second to her.

“He’s wrong.”

-=Sickbay, USS Serendipity=-

Finally he heard the door to sickbay slide open and Tam immediately forgot about the conversation he was involved in, almost stumbling as he eagerly stepped from the chair. He held his breath for the coming seconds until the internal door opened as well and Trev Sterling and Dane Cristiane were revealed intact.

“Welcome back, sirs,” Tam said, entirely unable to hide his relief as he looked up at them.

Trev smiled at the boy, Dane was not in a smiling mood.

“How did it go?” Kellyn asked, as she managed to drag herself onto her feet.

“Not bad,” Trev answered cautiously.

Dane shot him a look that seemed to ask ‘are you serious’ but also inserted a rather colourful expletive.

“We were able to make the bypass. I patched in my combadge so it can be activated remotely. There was however a…complication.”

“Complication?” Dane exclaimed, wondering if had it been Trev’s throat that was almost crushed the situation would be simply regarded as ‘complicated’. “The fu…” Dane stopped himself, noticing the child was present and changing what he was saying. “The fun tricorder didn’t work when it was supposed to. We were discovered and had to stun two guards.”

Kellyn tended to agree with Dane that this was more than just a simple complication. She could feel her headache getting worse by the second.

“What did you do with them?” she asked, knowing that soon enough either the guards would wake up and call for help or someone would attempt to contact them and realise something had happened.

“We couldn’t bring them here. So we had to tie them up,” Trev explained. “Hopefully that’ll buy us some time when they wake.”

“Okay,” Kellyn said calmly with a slow exhale, knowing they likely didn’t have a choice but not wanting this extra problem right now when her head was still swimming. “Did you learn anything useful while you were out there?”

“We learned the ship’s phasers are operational again,” Trev explained. This drew Kellyn’s interest.

“Did you get a chance to figure out how?”

“No, we didn’t,” Dane answered and Kellyn immediately began planning a trip to get back there and see. However before she could, Dane unclipped the phaser he’d stolen from his belt. “We got something better.”

"Such a dark little boy," Lair grinned, ruffling Dane's hair. "With such light fingers."

-=Main Bridge, USS Serendipity=-

“Well, I suppose you’re not even going to listen,” TC asked as if irritated about Brody’s stubbornness, though secretly he was relieved. Though he had no way of knowing for sure, it was likely that by now his intended distraction had been entirely successful and having to make up a fake problem with the Poseidon was an unneeded complication.

[I think we both know there’d be no point,] Brody added confidently, feeling a little more convinced as time had gone on that what had happened with Liis was an isolated moment of emotion. TC then noticed him turning very slightly towards Denise and speaking in a tone that said there was more going on here than there appeared. [Don’t you agree, Captain?]

[Yes, I do,] Denise said, so softly that it could barely be heard on the Sera’s bridge.

Brody turned quickly back to the screen, feeling like he was now firmly in control. A smug smirk was almost, but not quite, allowed to show on his face as he prepared to close the channel and to get onto more important matters. He then silently scolded himself for almost allowing it. There was still too much that could go wrong and of all men he knew the toll that putting too much faith in anyone, even himself, could demand.

[Good.] Brody was still certain TC was hiding something from him, but he had far greater deceptions to concern himself with on his own ship. Peterson felt Brody’s eyes locking on him and the man spoke slowly in that way to say his point should be taken very clearly. [I don’t want to be bothered with something like this again.]

Now Peterson knew exactly who he should be addressing from between the two authority figures on that bridge.

At times like this he felt like a child with two very different parents. They learned quickly which of them it was more dangerous to irritate and Peterson felt Brody seemed irritated right now. Peterson wondered if this hadn’t been TC’s plan all along, to put Peterson on Brody’s bad side.

"You won’t be, sir,” Peterson answered immediately, eyeing TC with disdain as if all the inconvenience was TC’s doing and Peterson was twice as irritated as Brody was. “In future I’ll not waste your time with the likes of him.”

Brody nodded his approval of this and Peterson felt he’d made the right choice. Then, as if on cue the perfect opportunity seemed to present itself as before the channel had been closed the turbolift door behind him slid open and one of the Sera’s crew stepped off, with one guard standing on either side of her.

“I gave the order that no one was to be let on the bridge,” Peterson barked, hoping Brody could see how well he was asserting his authority. “What the hell is she doing here? Can’t you see I’m in the middle of a very important communication?”

“She somehow managed to override the controls on her door and get out into the ship,” one of the guards explained. “Then when we found her she demanded we brought her here to talk to you. She’s TI, sir.”

Peterson hadn’t known this and he found it interesting, but it was something about the focused look in her dark red, tear- stained eyes that really drew his attention. There was something out there that could make her cry, but she was unnervingly fearless when it came to facing him.

“What does she want?” He asked, turning away from those eyes to address the guards who’d cower before him.

“I need to talk to Tucker Brody,” Landry answered simply and firmly, as of yet not having noticed he was already on the viewscreen.

“Forget it,” Peterson scoffed, still not quite looking at her.

“It’s important,” Landry added flatly. She knew an impassioned plea wouldn’t exactly mean much to a man like this.

Peterson ignored her, gesturing to the guards as if to indicate they should go away. “Take her back to her quarters immediately and this time make sure she stays.”

“If you do that I’ll only get out again,” she warned. "I can make things very complicated for you, unless you let me talk to Brody."

Now Peterson was getting angry. She would not make him look like he wasn’t in control of this situation in front of Brody.

“You’re not getting this, are you?” he retorted with irritation, as he pulled his phaser from his belt and pointed it at Steele. “Either you get off this bridge right now or I will…”

Before he could even finish Brody cut in and perceptive ears, though not Peterson’s, heard something in the man’s voice few ever would.

[Put your weapon down, Peterson,] he said commandingly with just the faintest hint of concern that he could fire.

Landry immediately recognised that beautiful, overpowering voice and she turned toward it, as did all eyes on the bridge.

“But sir,” Peterson objected in confusion, half lowering his phaser as if unable to make sense of the request. Landry took the opportunity to step forward into the bridge until she was standing in front of the viewscreen, no one attempting to stop her because it was clear Brody would not react well if she were hurt.

“Landry.” Brody said only her name in surprise, his eyes locking upon her and flashing for just an instant something almost recognisable as vulnerability.

“After all this time, is that really all you have to say to me?”

“What do you expect me to say?” Brody asked, stepping forward as if to approach her; for the first time in a long time making movements without a thought to what they would cost or gain.

Landry did just the same, stepping closer to the viewscreen as she instinctively wrapped her arms around herself in a futile display, trying to protect herself from the pain in his conflicted eyes.

The scene around them seemed to disappear- people, places, all and nothing.

In this moment there was once again just the two of them, separated only by the widest of all possible chasms: the differences that had driven them apart.

Tam Elton
Civilian Crew
USS Serendipity NCC-2012
As told by Rada Dengar


Commander Lair Kellyn
Engineering Research and Development
The Alchemy Project

1092: Meaningless Words

by Wren Elton
After Instant Regrets

-=San Francisco, Earth=-

Rada was in such pain that Wren could barely stand it. As she’d held him in her arms the protective shell that had formed around the knowledge in his mind had cracked and given him a glimpse into the darkest depths of his own soul. He saw there a cacophony of silent screams only audible across the vast emptiness of space to the man who had caused them.

They say it was a far greater torture to see one you love in pain rather than to have the experience yourself. Yet Wren now felt both as she saw with her eyes the grimace of his pain and in her mind the images that now struck his. They were so blurred as to be meaningless; like the ink symbols smudged beyond recognition on the paper he saw spread over walls.

Yet like a long wounded animal confronted again by a familiar yet meaningless sound from its tormented youth, he knew those images meant he should be afraid. Suddenly he was shaking, his arms gripping her even tighter.

“Rada…” She found she could speak no other word and his name sounded like a desperate plea as she found she could barely breathe and knew he wasn’t breathing at all.

Yet he couldn’t hear her. She knew he couldn’t hear her because she couldn’t hear herself. The silenced images alone were too much for their senses to handle.


Still he couldn’t react at all as he shut his eyes so tight as if trying to blind himself from images that only became clearer as they existed in his own mind.

“Rada please, you’re hurting me…” Wren finally managed to force out a sentence through her pain and suddenly the images stopped cold, his mind once again silent as his eyes opened and he released her, falling backwards and his head smacking bluntly into the wall.

Though every instinct should have told her with what had just happened that the last thing he needed was for her to touch him again, she couldn’t help but move closer towards him. Still, she stopped herself from actually taking his arm as it moved instinctively to the space where a bump was surely forming.

“Are you okay?” she asked, so poorly hiding how uniquely special her concern for him was.

Slowly his eyes moved around to look at her, but he didn’t seem to process the concern in her face.

“Yes, I’m fine,” he said with confusion, though in truth his head was throbbing in more ways than one as he regained his balance. “I just…I don’t know what happened there.”

“We should get you to see a doctor,” she said firmly.

“No, that’s not necessary,” Rada quickly answered, more afraid right now of what a doctor might tell him than the possibility of not getting treatment from them.

“Rada please you hit your head really hard,” she tried again, knowing he was not normally a stubborn man but that this was far from a normal situation.

“I’m fine,” Rada answered a little more firmly, before adding in his calmest possible tone, “Really.”

Wren knew she shouldn’t push it no matter how worried she was. She just hated him being in pain and so she felt so awkward, just wanting to take hold of him again, but she hesitated knowing what just happened before and trusting herself no more now. So she forced herself to stay back but tempting of fate was far too strong a temptation of her own as she needed to know what was going on in his mind. She nervously had to ask a question.

“What do you remember?”

“I….” Rada started, but his confusion just grew deeper and he made a sound almost like an embarrassed scoff then shook his head to indicate he had no idea how he’d ended up against that wall when the last thing he knew they’d been speaking about going to that old abandoned tavern.

He knew something had happened after that, only he didn’t know what.

Wren knew he was looking for answers he couldn’t possibly afford yet to have to find for himself.

“I was just saying I was ready to leave for the tavern. Then you just collapsed,” she offered and the explanation seemed to click in Rada’s mind as correct.

“Of course,” he said as he finally stood fully back up. “I’d better just tell Mad.”

Only then did Wren suddenly remember the old woman and she began to sense her again. Mad was afraid; having just overheard a series of events she couldn’t possibly put into their proper context and only knowing that she’d just heard this apparently sweet and harmless young man accused of hurting Wren herself. Had Wren’s mind been a little clearer then she would have made a point of showing Mad she was okay but instead she just felt the immediate need to get them both out of there.

“She already knows. We should just go.”

Though this part of her story didn’t seem quite as natural to Rada he simply nodded that he accepted it. Wren moved towards the door but before she did she had to stop off at Madelyn’s replicator. Though it was a simple model and voice control had evidently been deactivated, she was able to find how to order what she required. The machine completed its task, a little slower than the ones she was used to but it worked nonetheless, and she removed the icepack and handed it to Rada. He accepted it awkwardly but at least he did accept it.

“Thanks,” he said as he carefully applied the ice to his wound. Thankfully the skin hadn’t been broken and it looked like a lump really was the worst he should expect.

That didn’t stop Wren from worrying as they proceeded out the door and down the stairs of the building.

Her worry wasn’t helped by the silence as awkward looks and polite smiles were exchanged with each of them pretending they didn’t mind that there was nothing to say. She tried conversation and so did he but neither had ever really cared for or been all that good at small talk and the big talk was far too frightening right now.

So they pressed on with their words far too conspicuous in their absence. For Wren the moment was almost as scary as telling him everything. The one thing she’d always been able to offer him was fun. Maybe she couldn’t discuss complex engineering concepts with him, but she could always make him laugh when he was thinking about them. She could declare her victory in a debate about topics she didn’t understand simply with a kiss and sweetly asking him if he was sure he wouldn’t like to admit defeat and to move onto something else. Now she felt so boring, so hard to love.

She certainly didn’t feel like smiling but as he once more smiled at her she again smiled back with nothing to say. There had been occasional silences like this so long ago but then there’d always been something to break them. At first this had been merely banter on Rada’s part but Wren had seen through that in the very first words they’d exchanged and it wasn’t long before Rada had picked up on that too. This meant he had far less to say, or at least far less that he dared put into words, but Wren found the fact that he couldn’t hide who he was when he wasn’t being anyone else to cover it up to be a very good trade for a few meaningless words

Rada had changed a lot since those days. They weren’t the changes that one would expect in a man simply for getting older or finding a position of power. Rada in many ways always felt the weight of an organisation on his own shoulders no matter his position. Though he had taken quickly to fatherhood, as a man who cared for children as he always had, as well as one who’d already carry her a drink with all the care and diligence with which most would cradle their new born child, that wasn’t such a fundamental change. The difference was in how he acted around those he trusted, which was perhaps more the fact that he trusted them in the first place.

Rada was quite the contradiction. He was among the greatest liars but the man she’d rely the most on for honesty. He’d be terrified of offending someone by offering any negative opinion of a piece of their clothing. Yet he’d feel guilty all day for telling someone he liked their hat when he really just thought it was okay. Still, he always chose to pretend until he couldn’t anymore. How he’d changed was that now he chose to pretend far less and sometimes not at all.

One of the proudest things Wren had ever done was to teach Rada about this other more open way of living. It had also served as one of her greatest consolations when she had left as she’d been able to tell herself that he’d be able to find someone else who’d see him for all he was. She was sure they’d be someone far better for him than her.

Now as they neared the exit of the building, not a word spoken since they’d left the stairs, him finally having given up looking in her direction even those polite glances because he knew they only made things more awkward, she had to wonder what she had really done. How far back did she set his trust in those around him? Could it be any further than she’d done with her faith in herself?

She was bad; a rebel, and never one to follow anyone else’s rules, and yet she’d always believed deep down she was one of the good ones. She’d lost a lot of her certainty in that on the day another man’s child was born. Though they couldn’t possibly have been a surprise, there had been a second and far less joyful meaning to her tears as she first touched her beautiful sweet child’s Vulcan ears.

Rada trusted her now far more than she trusted herself; probably more than he realised. His footsteps unintentionally were growing a little faster in that nervous way that he’d never have allowed if he saw her as someone to fear. Maybe though he should have feared her. She certainly felt like it. For the entire journey she had refused to let herself get too close as they walked in case she’d hurt him, while never again risking him straying too far.

Many times she had told herself how different she was now. She was however reminded of a conversation she’d once overheard between two Terran children. The first one had complained that the old adage didn’t make any sense because all a leopard needed to change its spots was a bucket of paint. The other had then argued that all that meant was that the spots were the same and there was a paint covered leopard running around. It often made her wonder if she really was different now, or if she’d just learnt to look like she was.

Right now though she would have given almost anything to feel like her old self. She wished she could banter right now, but she couldn’t even stop staring at the ice on his head. It was almost like that bump alone represented the damage she feared she’d done in his mind when she’d taken him into her arms.

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

Wren Elton
Manager, Afterthought Café
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

1091: Leap of Faith

by Zanh Liis O’Sullivan and William Lindsay
Concurrent With To Plan and Not to Plan

-=A running holosuite on the USS Poseidon=-

Liis found herself somewhere between the start and the end of a footbridge that stretched out farther than the eye dared to see. Unnaturally long, Liis thought, with no way to get any sense of how far she still had to go before she once again set foot upon the reassuring stability of land. All she knew of stability as the closest thing to ground beneath her feet seemed to sway and tilt unstoppably at the mercy of wild nature around her, was that she desperately needed to find it.

As she moved tentative steps, though as fast as she dared, she heard unseen birds circling ahead, while the rush of the water so far below was more a dull roar than the sound of discernibly separate waves. The ocean was angry today, and the wind seemed to be in no better mood as it whipped through her hair and whistled in her ears; reminding her with the strength of its pull that it could choose to tear this bridge from where it held and to send her plummeting to her death on a whim.

She thought once about looking back. Twice, she considered turning around. Yet she couldn’t do it. The idea seemed unacceptable, even impossible. She had come too far to and what was more with every following step she grasped even more deeply just how little there was to go back for.

Though instincts may have told her just to keep her focus on the road ahead, her eyes moved upward for just an instant. From here the sky and this world seemed infinitely large, yet they were simultaneously entirely empty, with no one and nothing except this path on which she travelled, the violent wind and the chaos of the water below.

Then where there should have been an expanse of limitless blue above her, which she’d once been certain she’d seen, a thousand gathering clouds were joining forces to cast darkness on the land. It would rain soon- certainly sooner than she would reach the other side. It was hopeless to think she could outrun it but that didn’t stop her steps from getting faster as she pulled the heavy coat she wore tighter against her body to fight against the chill of the air.

She knew she was suspended in mid-air, closer to heaven now than earth. Either was a welcome destination depending upon circumstances; the sky, always, if aboard her ship; the ground only if she could ever find a place upon it that she could finally call home.

It was living here in the uncertain in-between that she hated most of all. Especially when it came with the knowledge that in this moment she could never ascend again to the heavens alone or survive the fall to the where the land should be.


The word struck her as very important even though in the moment she couldn't think enough to have said why.

She did not often refer to the sky as 'heaven' the way that so many others did. Perhaps it was because the concept of it escaped her powers of reason; she had seen far too much of Hell in her life to believe that any spiritual alternate truly existed. She knew of this purgatory and of that Hell but right now she had to question if anything else had even been more than illusion.


She angrily mumbled the word against the wind as she took another step and then another with even more urgency. The boards were creaking beneath the soles of her boots and she dare not look down. If she did then she risked the complete confirmation that the bridge was as rickety as the first plank had appeared before she reluctantly decided to step onto it.

The structure suddenly swayed more violently now, causing her balance to slip and her almost to drop over the side, which caused her to mutter several other words one would never use in polite company.

Still she steadied herself again and kept her eyes fixed straight ahead on that endless stretch of rope and wooden planks and swirling clouds beyond. No matter how long it took she knew in her heart that nothing mattered more than that she reach the other side. One can not live forever on a bridge.


The word echoed in her thoughts once again, but this time it was not spoken in her own voice.

In an instant the chaos had gone as the scene around her changed, her mind flashing forward to a far different location.

The ground beneath her now was solid, yet his voice resonated through every cell in her body with far more impact than the wind that there had been.

She quickly opened her eyes and found his were firmly fixed upon them.

His hand ran through her hair, his eyes finally only leaving her face long enough to follow the course of his fingers as they traced a path down her neck, her shoulder, her arm. He reached her hand and took hold of it, elevating it to his lips, brushing them against her skin with passionate reverence before leaning in to kiss her mouth. Long moments passed by, unnoticed, unimportant, before he spoke to her once again.

"All these years I've been prayin' for heaven."

His voice was low and warm as he moved closer to her.

"All my life I've expected to wait for it but there's nothing left now to wait on."

His expression was one of desire merged, only strengthened and never tempered, with complete contentment.

"There could be no heaven greater than this."

Liis tilted her face up toward him and kissed him deeply, reveling in the sound of his sigh as she did so. His breathing quickened as did her own, and as they finally broke he pressed his mouth to her ear. "I'm so glad you took that leap of faith, Liis."

Liis reached up and took his face into her hands, gently lifting his chin until their eyes met up again. "If I didn't have faith in you," she said, "there'd be nothing left I could believe in."

"God, Liis, I love you," he murmured, as he gently shifted his massive weight on top of her. "I always will."

Liis would have willingly lived a lifetime in that embrace, but then she found she was cruelly brought back to the moment by the sound of another voice; equally male but much less loving as it impatiently called her name.

"Zanh Liis, wake up."

The voice was unmistakable and Liis startled. Though thanks to the medication in her veins this world seemed far less vivid that the one from where she’d just been, she knew that this one was real. Here she was still shivering, cold, even though she knew it was the appearance of the place now that was more chilling than its actual temperature.

"What," she attempted to force out the words but found her voice had deserted her. She tried to clear her throat and still barely was able to push out more than a whisper. "What have you done with them?"

"With who, Zanh Liis?"

"With Keiran and Will."

Brody sighed sadly and folded his arms. His expression was one of pity- pity that Liis knew she had not rightfully earned and still wouldn't want even if she had.

"Zanh Liis, you know that Keiran isn't here. Neither is, who did you say?"

"William Lindsay. Interim Director of Temporal Investigations." Liis spoke now with conviction. "You know him. He's the guy who figured out too much and so had to be 'handled'"

"The only thing we're trying to handle here is your illness, Liis. You know that."

Though her vision was still not clear, her eyes still focused in upon him as she spoke her stern warning.

"I'm not playing."

She did everything she could to try to put this situation into perspective. She had to decide if now was the time to show him just how certain she was that he'd plotted and planned all this; to let him see that she could see that the surroundings here were but an illusion.

"I'm not playing any games either. You're the one who has been...uncooperative." Now Tucker appeared to be agitated, a state that she could never recall seeing in him before. "You're only hurting yourself by refusing to accept the reality of-"

A familiar sound cut off his words, and his eyes immediately darted to hers. He slapped the communicator in his pocket and damned himself- he'd forgotten to inform the bridge that he was not to be disturbed until he left her again.

Had this been another time then Liis could have called this a moment of joy, as she was now completely vindicated; that sound in addition to the markings on her skin she was certain had only happened in this timeline confirmed each other's validity as evidence. Brody however could never have called this a joyful moment.

"I'll be right back," Brody muttered to her before he quickly stepped outside this room and slammed the door shut behind him. Then, cursing softly, he ripped the combadge from its hiding place and slapped it to his chest. "Brody here. What the hell do you want?"

[It’s Lieutenant Peterson, sir,] replied the voice on the end. [He wants to talk to either you or the Captain.]

“Lieutenant Peterson is on the Serendipity,” Brody answered with harsh and condescending syllables. “That means Lieutenant Peterson has hailed the bridge. That means that the Captain should be dealing with him. Why the hell isn’t she?”

[The Captain isn’t on the bridge, sir.]

Though had he been in a clearer thinking frame of mind Brody would have started questioning why she wasn’t there, as angry as he was right now he just attributed it to the fact that he couldn’t trust anyone here to do their job.

“Right! Fine!” He snapped. “I will be there as soon as I’m done dealing with what I have to here. Until that time you are not to contact me again. Do you understand?”

[Yes sir,] the voice on the other end immediately replied, unsure of just what they’d done wrong but certain they never wanted to do so again.

Then with this irritation out of the way Brody turned around rapidly. He was quite prepared to just storm back into the room, but he knew that would give him away. So first he straightened his jacket and returned the badge to its place.

Then he took just a moment to breathe slowly to calm himself again, before he finally returned to Liis.

“I apologise for the disruption-“ he began, but Liis refused to play along anymore.

"You've gotten sloppy, Tucker." Liis said coldly as she shook her head. Her hazy, reddened eyes bored through him and though he was still the one in control- he was certain of that- Tucker did find the expression more than a little unnerving.

This was no other Starfleet Captain he was dealing with here, this was Zanh Liis and his hatred for her was entirely personal.

"What are you talking about?" he asked, though something in her told him his ruse was over.

"The communicator, you see. It going off like that, with you in here." She still slurred her words slightly, the effect of lingering medications in her system, though she was entirely sure of the correctness of what she was actually saying. "That's wrong. You never wore one of those at the hospital. You said you didn't want to risk your patients getting interrupted. Didn’t want some some self-important admiral inviting you to play golf in the middle of a breakthrough." Liis shook her head, finding that as the deception fell away that so did the effects of the medication in her system. "The game is over, Tucker. None of this is real, and I want two things."

The look on his face screamed a novel’s worth of rants about the fact that he wasn’t about to let her win.

"You're in no position to make any-"

"Two. Things." Liis whispered, the fact that she held her position and didn't approach him as he'd expected making her no less menacing. Without realizing he was doing it, he took a step backward anyway.

"I want to know what you've done to Keiran," she said, the words nearly catching in her throat.

Then, all at once she propelled herself up from the floor and lunged; grabbing hold of him by the front of his shirt. "I want to know what you've done to my husband, and..." tears of rage turned her eyes an even deeper shade of scarlet, still they did not fall. "...and I want my wedding rings back, you irredeemable bastard."

She was angry, she was out of control, and suddenly Brody smiled a sickeningly happy grin.

“If you kill me then you’ll get neither,” he answer, defiant against the hold she had upon him. He paused a moment to tut at her before he continued. “My poor dim Zanh Liis, did you really think this would change anything? No one knows where you are. You can not call for the arch. You’ll be trapped here in this replication, no wedding rings, no one to save you; nothing but the memories of the life I took from you.”

Liis would hear nothing of this and she spoke with complete conviction as she slammed Brody viciously into the wall behind him.

“No, you’re wrong,” she insisted, with utter faith somehow still managing to overshine the hatred Brody heard in her tone in this moment. “Keiran will come for me.”

Again Brody gave her one of those smiles that could curl even skin made of iron.

“You really want to know what I’ve done with Keiran O’Sullivan?” He smirked.

“You tell me right now,” Liis said with fury, the strength in her arms as she forced him into the holographic wall enough that by rights she should have been able to break him in two.

“Alright, if you insist.” Brody said sweetly, moving his head forward slightly towards her ear and continuing in a tone and volume best suited to the intimate whisper of a lover. “Zanh Liis, I killed him.”

With his words Liis’ anger took on an entirely new ferocity.

“NO!” she screamed as she practically threw him across the room, hurling him into the base of the holographic bed on the other side.

It hurt like hell but Brody managed to roll over to his side as he saw the Bajoran rapidly stomping towards him. The look in her eyes and the way in which Brody could practically have been burnt under the heat of her rage said that with everything he’d done to her she was ready to kill him if he didn’t tell her Keiran was alive and well.

Even as she swayed unsteadily, still feeling the effects of the medication left within her, he had no doubt she could do it. Yet as she stood over him something in his eyes told her he didn’t think she’d be able.

Then as just for a moment she stopped, her dizzy mind attempting to comprehend what he could be thinking, he drew from behind him in one rapid motion a phaser, and he fired.

His shot was a direct hit and in spite of all the strength of her will to stay awake, Liis crumpled to the ground before him. Then, though had she been able to see him he’d have antagonistically smiled, Brody instead cursed himself that things should have gotten this far, as he slowly dragged himself upright by his injured shoulder.

Then feeling the pain in his joints as he dusted himself off, he considered that he was just lucky nothing was broken.

Captain William Lindsay
Interim Director
Temporal Investigations


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

1090: To Plan and Not to Plan

by Tam Elton (as told by Rada Dengar)
After Plans and Duty

-=Deck Seven, USS Serendipity=-

As they watched Kellyn and the doctor at work before them, Tam turned towards the only person there he wasn’t required to significantly crane his neck to look in the eye.

“Do you think they’ve made it?”

Arie’s eyes didn’t leave her mother as she watched every movement of her hand as if trying to memorise every command she entered for fear she might have to repeat this all herself some time in the future something were to happen. She couldn’t help but question whether her mother should really be up and about and to feel like if only she knew a little more about engineering, if she’d studied a little harder, then she could be the one to be doing this.

“My mother believes Lieutenant Sterling and Ensign Cristiane possess the skills necessary to be successful. That is evidence enough to me that they will be.”

Tam’s immediate reaction was to want to ask Arie what would happen if she were wrong and they failed, however he realised as soon as he’d opened his mouth what her response would have to be, so he closed it having thought better of asking. If they failed then they would be dead.

Tam had for a very long time, ever since his mother had told him stories about the man she claimed was his father, wished to be a Starfleet Officer when he was older. In the mind of a child that meant more than anything else to do the ‘exciting parts’ where you risked your life for your ship and the Federation. Of course in a child’s fantasies this was a simple thing where you got to charge in and be brave and strong, always knowing what to do, then everyone walked out alive in the end. It was only now as he realised how little he really knew what to do that he began to question how certain it was that any of them would survive this. Though he had known of death before, this realisation that he could soon be seeing it made it feel like it was just a new introduction to his life. Now the exciting parts were not so exciting anymore.

“We should ask if we can help again,” he muttered quietly, his eyes falling to the floor, as if it were not something he wished to do but something he felt he should nonetheless.

“My mother and Doctor McKay are aware of our offer. They will request our assistance if they require it.”

“I guess you’re right.”

Tam looked now specifically at his feet, caring not to be reminded any further of everything Kellyn was doing with the computer terminal that he couldn’t understand. He slowly lifted all but the heel of his left foot off the ground then put it down. He then repeated the same procedure with the right, watching with the attention as if it were truly captivating to behold but with the melancholy almost lost look on his fact that seemed to say that he had far more meaningful things on his mind.

If there was one thing Tam was undeniably good at it was asking questions. He had asked his mother questions about his father until he had more detail about the man, albeit he now knew mostly erroneous, than most sons would about fathers they’d known their entire life.

He’s always been nothing if not bold in asking these questions as well. His mother always said he’d gotten that from her and that she could never resist asking questions even when those she asked might not easily find an answer. She’d also laughed and said it got her into trouble on occasion. In this moment Tam could strongly understand the trouble that questions could cause even if he had no idea why his mother had been laughing. For fear of the answer he truly did not wish to ask this question now.

“Arie,” he asked softly, still looking down to his feet until the last possible second before he glanced upwards to see her reaction. “Do you think we’re going to die here?”

-=Deck Seven: USS Serendipity=-

Dane and Trev had split up and that was the first part of the plan that Dane hadn’t liked. Under normal circumstances he’d have complained quite loudly about this plan although that was difficult now because this time he came up with it.

The plan was quite simple. Of course some of the best plans in history had been simple. On the other hand so were the plans for a wingless aeroplane and that would have just ran straight off the cliff.

Here he was, a mere twenty metres from where the enemy agents were bound to be, attempting to set up the distraction for Trev. The hallway where the two enemy agents could be found intersected with two others. The first was the one he was in now which was on the opposite end to the agents’ location. Trev would soon be in the second which intersected with the hallway the agents were in at the door to access the computer core.

Dane held a tricorder in his hand and tight against the wall beside him. With his knowledge of the ship’s security codes and some other knowledge he really shouldn’t possess yet, he was supposed to rig the nearest of the wall interfaces in the hallway that the agents currently occupied to overload. If he did his job right it would quietly screech a lot for a few moments, the agents would come in to investigate, and then the interface would explode in a blaze of blinding sparks which made the agents wonder why they’d been stupid enough to walk towards it in the first place. Meanwhile Trev would be able to slip in behind them, simple.

Unfortunately, this tricorder seemed to have other ideas and seemed intent on ensuring that he instigated a minor change in the details of his plan in that instead of an exploding interface it would be a loudly cursing Terran and then the sound of a tricorder smashing into a thousand different pieces that attracted the agents’ attention.

By the fourth time the tricorder refused to put through what should have been a perfectly valid set of commands Dane’s fingers had gone from just pressing the controls to threateningly poking at them as if warning the machine to listen very carefully to what he was saying.

Unfortunately, this damn tricorder seemed quite suicidal.

Then it was too late anyway.

“Do you hear that?” Dane heard one of the agents say to the other from around the corner.

Then he heard footsteps. They were approaching him, or more correctly one of them was. That meant the other was just going to remain where he was until he spotted Trev. That meant Dane would have to do something even riskier, even more stupid, than the plan he had already.

He quickly rounded the corner.

“Hey, I’m lost.” Dane found himself confronted by two truly unhappy and almost ‘Tubman sized’ agents. “Would you be able to show me to the confinement areas?”

The expression on each of their faces suggested they were not the helpful ‘navigation guide’ variety of enemy agents.

-=Sickbay, USS Serendipity=-

Kellyn and the Doctor had stopped working now, evidently satisfied with how the message they’d been working on turned out and realising that by Dane and Trev’s own schedule they had to send it off even if they weren’t. However with how weakened Kellyn appeared to be from the exertion Arie was for now far more worried about her than the fate of this ship.

“That should do it,” Kellyn announced, as she quite distressingly did something Arie had rarely known her to do except when her health was really bad, and let herself practically flop into one of the sickbay chairs the second she didn’t need to stand anymore.

An unfortunate result of twenty-fourth century holographic emotional advancements was that she could see Doctor McKay agreed they should be worried. Soon she was by her mother’s side, though for now Tam held back as he knew there was nothing he could do for any of them right now. He hated not knowing what to do.

When Kellyn had overheard just a small part of his previous conversation with Arie she had immediately requested their help with bringing over some tools they might need. Though unsurprisingly they hadn’t needed them, when Tam realised how much time he’d spent not thinking of their possible deaths while he’d done the task he’d appreciated the request.

Yet as he saw how much Arie cared for her mother, things told to him far more through his Betazoid blood than his Vulcan side, he immediately began again to think of his own mother and the possibility that he might never see her again.

Quickly he realised he just had to make sure of something and he moved towards the rest of the group as fast as his legs would take him.

“Excuse me, Commander,” he said, having to look upward to see Kellyn’s face even with her sitting down, “but the bridge is supposed to be heavily occupied. How do we know the message will get to the right person?”

Though Arie clearly seemed not to understand why Tam would wish to bother her mother now with such a request Kellyn could appreciate the curiosity.

“The computer registers identification from our combadges on the terminal we’re using. I’ve sent the message to the terminal of one person I’m sure will still be on the bridge,” Kellyn said softly before she was forced to stop to let out an extremely unhealthy cough. Tam instinctively went to move towards her, but again he found there was nothing he could do, and then eventually Kellyn assured him she was alright with the most convincing smile she could. “It’ll definitely get to the right person.”

-=Main Bridge, USS Serendipity=-

TC hated this.

He had in his mind devised already several dozen ways that Peterson could be incapacitated, injured or even killed and that was just with his bare hands. Unfortunately none of them got rid of the phasers Brody had trained on the ship at the same time and so instead he was forced to wait. Well, to wait and to plan; though admittedly many of those plans were just several dozen more methods he could use.

Right now there was far too much he didn’t know. He didn’t know Ashton Ledbetter’s true loyalties or what he was doing on the other ship. He didn’t know that state of his Captain. He barely even knew the state of the Sera.

Blane was not an easy man to make edgy; the general rule was that if you could tell he was worried in any given situation then you should probably just save yourself the time and start screaming in terror right now. However if there was one thing that could make a man with his special ops background edgy it was being stuck without information. That was when he couldn’t know the consequences of his actions and in spec ops that almost always meant the unexpected death of somebody you knew. That was really the only thing that had let him hold back this far.

He wasn’t likely to get anymore information here either. He was a prisoner on his own bridge. Peterson had quite correctly decided that he should keep TC where he could see him but to ensure he was himself entirely out TC’s arms length. So he’d stuck him at a locked science console at the front of the bridge while Peterson had the audacity to sit in the Captain’s chair.

TC had noted however that he always stood up before talking with Brody. That was no surprise. It was probably something he didn’t even realise he was doing. Sitting in that chair gave you power in the eyes of your subordinates. Yet it made you responsible for your own failures in the eyes of your superiors. That cowardice which ruled when Peterson chose to sit and stand told TC pretty much all he needed to know about the man.

Now as he saw the message which appeared on that very station Peterson had thought he would be taking TC out of the way by placing him at, Blane realised that if he was to provide the requested distraction then he would need to put this knowledge to use.

Quickly TC span around in his chair and then stood up, immediately drawing the attention of all eyes and several weapons on the bridge.

“What do you think you’re doing? I told you to sit down,’ Peterson scoffed with irritation from his stolen chair.

TC simply remained exactly where he was and spoke a word that made Peterson visibly flinch for all the force with which it was spoken.


“What do you mean ‘no’?” Peterson asked incredulously, though Blane’s glare made it hard for him to be so certain that he really held all the cards here as he felt he should.

“I demand to talk to someone who outranks you.”

“You’re in no place to be making demands.” Peterson scowled.

“I have information which reveals a flaw in the Poseidon’s operation. Either you connect me to someone who can actually do something with it…:

“Or what?” Peterson cut him off but TC just ignored him.

“Or I’m going to continue not to comply with your orders and you’ll have to kill me.” Peterson gave an amused look as if to say ‘fine by me’. “Then when the ship shuts down because I couldn’t warn them, who do you think gets the blame?”

The amused look quickly disserted Peterson’s face and he stuttered for a moment before pretending to be turning his attention away from TC.

“You know what? Fine,” he said, attempting to sound like he didn’t care about this issue anymore, before he turned to the communications officer. “Hail the Poseidon.”

The officer did as requested but when the bridge appeared they found that neither Brody nor Denise could be found there.

-=Deck Seven, USS Serendipity=-

Trev knew he had to do something.

Peering around the corner once more he observed than Dane’s plan to distract the agents had somewhat changed. In fact one of the agents had Dane in a rather threatening grip whereby the man’s arm appeared to be being forced into Dane’s neck which in turn was forced into the wall behind him.

“I’m just going to ask this one more time,” the large man said very sternly. “How did you get out of the containment areas?”

Even if Dane had been able to give a satisfying answer, with the evident force on his windpipe Trev didn’t believe he could have managed to speak it anyway. However neither of the two men who now crowded around Dane seemed intent to accept that and Dane didn’t look like he’d last long enough to change their minds.

Unfortunately, this meant Trev didn’t have time to get help or any sort of weapon. One of the things he’d not kept in his bag of tools had been a laser welder which could have come in very handy in this situation. In fact of the few tools he’d seen fit to bring with him the Hydrospanner would be most useful in a fight and so in spite of every engineering rule about how you should treat the tools of the trade he now held that in his hand like a small and rather unimpressive club.

He was a field medic which made him qualified to repair wounds. When it came to inflicting them he was not so skilled. Sure, he was a halfway decent shot with a paintball gun, but one of the great advantages of paintball was that unless they really didn’t like losing the other person was not generally armed with a phaser.

Still, this was the best plan he had. Granted, he’d also felt he had a pretty good plan when it came to wooing Vol Tryst. Then rather than just playing hard to get the man seemed to prefer impossible to get and to have made it less a game and more a calling. In fact the closest Trev had come to success with that plan so far was almost ending up with Steele. She was not his type, for far more reasons than just the obvious.

Charging in and attempting to knock out one guard was however the only plan he had and so he inhaled deeply, attempting to prepare himself when he only had one shot at this.

“Okay,” he said quietly to himself. “Count of three. One…two…three”

Trev immediately rounded the corner.

Only he wasn’t able to get more than a metre before he was suddenly overcome by a loud high-pitched noise like screaming that was so loud it forced him to slap his hands over his ears as the agents did so as well which meant releasing Dane.

As he fell to the ground Dane brought his hands to cover his eyes, leading Trev to do the same, before a wave of blinding sparks erupted along from the interfaces that lined the walls and the agents screamed in pain as they now covered their eyes as well.

Dane quickly took the opportunity to slip out past the agents as they were otherwise occupied, still covering his eyes to protect them from any wayward sparks that may remain.

As he squeezed past he found his skills from his former life more than his current life being useful as he managed to extract the man’s phaser from its holster without the man realising he was doing it. Then as soon as he was clear and sure that the sparks were finished falling Dane turned around and in two quick shots of the weapon stunned the enemy agents to the ground.

Then as he looked out over the mess of a situation that had just been created, back to Trev, and back to the many wall interfaces that had chosen now to overload when he’d only wanted one, he could only manage to wheeze out four words past his aching throat.

“Now it goddamn works.”

Tam Elton
Civilian Crew
USS Serendipity NCC-2012
As told by Rada Dengar