1106: What Shall Forever Stand

by Rada Dengar
Immediately following To Remember, To Forget

-=San Francisco, Earth=-

Wren felt him faltering, and she did all she could to bear as much of his weight as possible as his knees caved in beneath him.

Together they sank slowly to the Tavern's dusty, warped wood floor, until the moment they had found what passed for solid ground and she knew there was no farther he could fall. She released her hold on him for just a second, only long enough to move her hands from his body to his face.

"Rada," her voice sank, suffocated to near extinction beneath the veil of her tears. "You didn't choose any of this. Please, you have to believe that."

His eyes were closed, his countenance giving no indication that he was even hearing her now. His head bowed and she pressed her lips down into his hair, then to his forehead, and finally his cheek before she forced her lips to part from his skin.

I have to stop now, she told herself over and over, knowing that if she didn’t now she never would.

Rada however seemed incapable of stopping himself from anything, let alone from turning to her. His head soon came to rest against her shoulder, his face disappearing beneath her hair as he was overwhelmed by the scent of it. He was at once in that nothing place between surrendering completely to and totally incapable of any reaction to her nearness.

She could feel the conflict within him as emotions suppressed by the memory resequencing fought his reason to come to the surface. Her heart pounded so fast she could not believe it still resided within her chest.

This was the one moment she had most desperately feared but also so secretly longed for. Now that it had finally come, no longer just leaks through the dam but rather the unstoppable flood that broke it, she truly understood that she didn't know what the hell she was actually supposed to do. Words utterly deserted her, until all she could force from her lips was his name.

"I…’ he stammered, gulping for air as the atmosphere seemed to be sucked from the room through the cracks in the aging walls. "I remembered what I'd done but I couldn’t live with it. I took the coward's way, using every ounce of discipline to hide. To forget. I know it. I know what I did was something so horrible that I wanted to die. I…I want to die…"

He had spoken the last three words with so little emotion, not only in tone but truly in his heart as he so coldly spoke of the punishment he thought he deserved that Wren could not bear it a second longer.

"Don't ever say that. It's not true!”

"It is! I know that many people were hurt….killed. I…" he suddenly found he just could not go on.

She felt powerless, useless, as she watched him retreat. He began to pull his knees closer to his chest. The sudden change in posture terrified her; it was entirely too similar to the one she'd seen him in in Sickbay aboard the Sera, before they'd taken him for the resequencing procedure that had cost her his love in the last ditch effort to save his life.

She could not let him return to that place again; it was no different from draining water out of a sinking boat that would forever continue to drop lower until either they drowned or could find and fix the hole. She needed to say and to do everything that she could to try to help him, forgetting for just a little while that he was always slipping further down.

"So many more were saved, Rada, because of you. You were faced with an incomprehensible decision; one that any other man, every lesser man, would have been unable to make and you made it. You did the only thing that you could and you sacrificed everything, including yourself, to save millions of innocent people."

He opened his eyes, staring straight ahead at a fixed point in the distance. It was a point where he could almost see himself, that foolish stranger, standing over him, blindly unseeing as he looked at what he was becoming.

Wren felt the memories attempting to force their way through from his subconscious; viciously tearing him apart in the process.

"What have I done," he cried, his hands again covering his face in shame. "I do not deserve to live. I…"

"No!" Wren forced her body closer to his, wrenching his arms away from him and pulling them around her. She held onto him for dear life; for their life.

"Rada, my darling, you…" His emotions overwhelmed her now and she heaved heavy, shuddering sobs. "You saved us all. You're a hero. You did the only thing you could do though it was absolutely unthinkable to you because you are the best, most moral man I have ever known in my life. You didn't do this for yourself. You did it for everyone else. You did it for every telepath in the Alpha quadrant." She trembled as he stared at her in complete disbelief. "You did it for Lair Arie, and for Tam, and for…."

"I…" He pushed her away forcefully, desperately. The motion was powerful and it hurt her, though in no way could it have been called violent. Of all the things that Rada had ever been, violent was not one of them and never could be, not even in this moment of absolute truth.

"I did it for you, Wren," he said, in disbelief that he had missed the most basic fact of his life for so long. His eyes were suddenly so familiar, so loving, so recognising yet so empty of anything but loathing for what he saw he was. “I murdered a billion other people’s lovers. I cared about no one else just because I wanted you to live for my own sake.”

Wren was motionless now, except for the steady stream of tears she could not stop.

This was the ultimate cruel irony; that he feared he was a monster capable of hurting people; of bringing pain and ruin on entire worlds, when he was the one person in all of this who had been able to prevent those exact things from being carried out by others with premeditated, murderous intent.

"No, Rada…Please."

Again he was hearing nothing; his mind frantically attempting to force the memories back into a box from which they were far too numerous to have ever come. His success was so limited as to leave his mind the prey of overpowering dizziness, the entire world a twisted distortion of facts half understood. He looked absolutely terrified.

"What are you?" he gasped, trying to pull away but far too weak to rise.

"Rada, listen to me…"

"What kind of telepathic control are you capable of...what have you done to me?"

His mind was breaking down into individual components, like a ship sealing off the compartments around damage to the hull and trapping fragments of him apart from one another. His long-held fear of telepaths asserted itself in this moment, even as he warred within himself because all so much of him wanted to do was to hold on to this particular telepath and kiss her until she too was too weak to stand.

Torn as he felt, he still couldn't accept that he had a right to do anything of the sort, even if it was all he wanted now.

He was clearly dying inside, but Wren still refused to give up.

"Rada, all I have ever tried to do..." Again her soft hands moved over his skin, up and down his arms before her slight, feminine fingers clasped hold of his and refused to let go. "All I have ever done is love you."

She pulled him nearer and pressed her cheek against his, her lips so near his ear that her breath made him shiver. "I loved you from the day I met you. Right here, on this planet. In this city…"

"In this room." His eyes were impossibly wide now, as uncertain as he was of absolutely everything else, he came to realize in this instant exactly why he had so easily broken into this place at her request. "We met in this room. We…"

Suddenly once more he screamed, his pain morphing into barely comprehensible words. His head twisted violently from side to side as if to avoid an unseen, attacking force.

“No…I can’t…I…” His mind was trying to suppress the memories again. It was a hopeless cause, like a single desperate man attempting to rebuild the city walls against the same gale force winds the ripped them down, still howling as he struggled.

He could feel his very ability to repress collapsing, his mind far too exhausted to continue on much longer. He rapidly cycled between stubborn refusal and weary acceptance of the knowledge that once they were gone, so was he.

“Why did I…?!” he half-asked the question, seeing so clearly now all his actions so irredeemable, like the villain in an ancient tragedy played out again and again.

“You had no choice,” she objected, though the words sounded as though they were more whispered by the brush of her tears than having passed her lips. “No one was meant to die. This was the only way no one would die.”

His every muscle was shaking, his lungs barely willing to draw in the necessary air to sustain him. He was growing ever weaker. “I knew,” he said, laughing softly, almost deliriously at his own thoughts. “I knew all that could happen. Yet, I did it anyway…”

Suddenly Wren’s eyes were wider than they’d even been already, as she felt an admiration for the man she’d loved so long that she hadn’t even realised she could for anyone.

“You knew this would happen to you,” she said in disbelief; not that he seemed to hear her words at all. It was clear to her now; Rada would never have cavalierly dismissed the possible deaths of even one person at his hands. He knew what could happen. He knew what it could do to him.

He did it anyway, because no matter what happened to him, she would survive it. He’d loved her that much.

There were now tears in his own eyes, each of a hundred drops that ran down his cheeks carrying with it a little of the man he was. Yet in the world of Rada’s mind it was the rest of reality that was breaking up all around him.

As he retreated further into his thoughts, the collage of simultaneous overlapping memories that had assaulted his eyes turned themselves inward and began to crack across the lines between them, falling and shattering to reveal behind them San Francisco Bay at vibrant sunset.

Every boat, every taste of the ocean, every silenced call of a bird was restored exactly as when his mind last brought him here. Yet a shadow hung over the land and instead of a limp emotionless form on the beach, in the distance he saw Wren sobbing on the ground.

“Can’t you see? You weren’t trying to save me for yourself,” she said sadly, watching him slip away as sand through her fingertips. “Please, you have to fight this for me. I need you.”

Though the image Rada saw was still so far away, he heard her in the perfect crystal clarity of a voice carried tenderly by the wind to his ears. As numb as he felt, in this still world not quite of nightmares but rather of faded dreams, he didn’t really hear it.

He was so tired and this world would be so easy to dissolve into. His mind swore to him that she didn’t really know who he was enough to love him anyway, and he found that though his small steps towards her across the sand grew no slower, he seemed not to move anymore.

It didn’t seem like he could help her no matter how he wanted to. The ocean waves were growing more violent, crashing behind her on the shore. He grew frustrated as he tried to reach her; his steps only seemed to draw him further away, until he could barely see her anymore.

“I didn’t think you could love me for who I am but I was wrong,” she said, her face buried in hands soaked in tears as she sank down further onto her knees. “I know you do.”

“Of course, I love you,” Rada said softly, though as the ocean began a mighty roar, even here he didn’t think she’d be able to hear him.

Rada knew so little now, but somehow he understood that this place had just become a much less comfortable one in which to die. From still air, the wind had grown vicious. The waves were now building higher, angrier. They attempted to drench her, yet each seemed to curve away from her before they struck, only to erase the sand around her, leaving nothing but blackness beneath the sea; an eternal distance to fall. The sun that had hovered above him set now, fading into an infinite night.

“No,” she said so miserably, in the real world taking him so tight in her arms, but here not even seeming to move.

To Rada’s mind, it was like her words were a response to what he’d said, and a small part of him woke again. Half the beach had now washed away; the malevolent waves had begun to form a whirlpool around her.

“Of course, I love you!” he shouted over the noise, it was the one thing he knew for sure in this mess. His voice seemed to echo all around him as if spoken not by his own lips. Yet, to his confusion, she still didn’t appear to hear him.

“This can’t be the end,” she pled. "Not after all we've been."

Soon the waves that were suddenly reaching much too far from the ocean were crashing down around him, up above the height of his knees. In a single movement the ground beneath him was ripped away, yet he somehow didn’t fall and here that made sense. He could even now hear her sob as the water moved rapidly all around the tiny sand island on which she still survived, threatening to consume her, and that was what his mind began to focus on.

“Rada…” her muffled voice, so much more distant than her physical form, could now only call his name.

He was growing so very cold as the circling, freezing water built to his neck, pulling him to and fro. His eyes still never left her as his steps beneath the water, growing now faster, began to draw him a little nearer.

It was still too far, it was still not enough. He was losing her; she was in pain, and he could take it no longer. He would and he should do anything to save her.

As he saw the beach now completely gone, except for Wren’s tiny island, in this flooded land of water that seemed to reach forever, there truly was only one thing left here to matter. The swelling tide threatened to pull him under, but something in him made him fight now against it. He was struggling against forces that felt far greater than himself and winds that should be able to rip him apart, yet he was somehow growing closer.

Soon his nose was buried and suddenly he was choking, having to fight to swim upward just enough to get above the water to breathe. For a terrifying moment she was lost from his sight. As his eyes left the water again, he could still see her, protected by a cone of water held back all around her by nothing but his will.

She still felt so far, even as his viciously kicking arms and legs were drawing him ever nearer. Though the world here was so loud now, he still heard her tears, even as the water filled his ears. This world should have been far too strong, still he found he was moving unstoppably towards her through the water, until eventually his movements felt unhindered by it at all.

Then finally he was so close to her, and he dove downwards into the water to the new ocean floor. He could see her just in front of him, as he was on the wrong side of very walls that kept her safe. He knew he had to get to her though and so without a single doubt for his course of action he thrust his arm through the water and into the small pocket of air around her, yet somehow the walls didn’t break. Finally she reacted to him, looking up to him, as his fingers brushed her cheek.

In an instant, everything changed. The world turned eerily silent, the water draining away, as he felt himself being dragged swiftly backwards. This time he knew he should not be afraid; she was moving with him.

He found the world around him was rapidly rebuilding. Soon it was no longer the confusing mess of images or memories but simply the walls and the roof of a small tavern in San Francisco. Wren was in front of it all, leaning over him so the tears that fell from her beautiful eyes were landing on his face. As she came into full focus, he found himself suddenly panting, gasping in pain for every breath, but with no fear for his life.

His strength was barely enough to move at all. Yet as he looked up to her and saw that she saw him; that she knew he remembered now and was still here, the strongest smile began to pass onto his lips that should be far too exhausted to do anything at all.

Her own lips greeted him with a beautiful sound, quite far from a sob, as she bent over to so passionately kiss him.

In spite of all that he still struggled for air he kissed her back, so lovingly, and she knew that it was real. Though tears were still in her eyes, when finally they broke the kiss, each of their faces was full of new hope and new adoration for one another.

Still looking up to her and with those same smiling lips, he whispered gloriously familiar words, words that seemed brand new in this moment along with the rest of the world.

Spoken so softly and with such certainty, they meant more to her than any others she'd ever heard. “I love you, Wren. I love you.”

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

1105: But One Priority

By William Lindsay and Keiran O'Sullivan
-=USS Poseidon=-

William Lindsay found himself rushing to keep up with the impossibly long strides of the old friend he knew far too well.

"For the love of God, O'Sullivan, wait!"

“God?” Keiran scoffed, slowing his steps not one whit. “Thought you were an atheist.”

“A technicality. Who else can I expect you ta listen to and show you’ve still got some sense of reason left in that thick Irish skull?”

Will managed to overtake Keiran at last, spinning and grabbing firm hold of him by the front of the shirt. He wished he could physically shake him back to reality, but the look in O’Sullivan’s eyes gave him pause. It sent his mind back to the day they’d first met, all those years and years of linear and non-linear time ago- a day in which O’Sullivan was in an eerily similar frame of mind.

“Let. Go.”

“Keiran, for Christ’sake, think with yer brain for a minute! You can’t just go tappin’ inta the computer. Detention logs, least of all. Why not just take over the comm system and announce we escaped!”

“That Moreno let us go, you mean.” Keiran corrected. His fingers were poised over the panel- he was this close to using every trick he knew to determine the location of his wife and Captain, yet something in him knew that as much as he hated to admit it that Lindsay had a valid point.

He hesitated. The last thing he wanted to do was waste another moment of precious time by having to fight off a security detail with his bare hands.

“We have to establish priorities here,” Lindsay thought aloud, his eyes shifting back and forth as quickly as his thoughts. The ambivalence in his own words startled him and he inhaled sharply, wishing that by doing so he could pull them back from thin air.

Too late, he thought. His tongue had betrayed the conflict in his mind as to what had to happen next and worst of all, he’d said entirely the wrong thing to his very best friend.

Keiran’s reaction was swift and certain: Will found his feet dangling as the giant Irishman suspended him above the deck by the collar of his shirt.

“I have but one priority here, see? To get Liis away from Brody, if she’s still-“ Keiran couldn’t finish the thought, he couldn’t bear to contemplate that it may already be too late to save her.

“Keiran,” Will gasped, struggling for breath. “My…friend-”

“Listen to me, you,” Keiran rumbled, inching Lindsay up even higher, "Friend. This is where you show what you are, real quick. Being a friend to you is what got Liis into this mess, so either you’re a friend to her now and you’ll help me find her first or you’re a friend to me no longer.”

He released Lindsay as quickly as he’d snatched him up, dropping him to his feet. “If you’re not gonna help me, William, then get the hell out of my way.”

“You…O’Sullivans. Always…go for the…throat.” Lindsay backed up against the wall, choking the words out between coughs as his fingertips elevated to the bruised flesh of his neck. “Not so easy," he turned plaintive eyes up toward the man who had taught him all he was proudest of. “If Poseidon is lost, then Liis dies too.”

“What makes ya think the Poseidon ‘ll be lost?” There was coldness to the anger in Keiran's eyes that simply demanded Will stop focusing on anything but saving Liis.

For a moment Will paused, still struggling to catch his breath after feeling O’Sullivan’s mighty grip. His mind raced ever faster before he spoke a single word he knew that all the resequencing in the world wouldn’t have stopped Keiran from recognising instantly. “Lemuria.”

The look on Keiran’s face passed rapidly from what it had been to a sort of bitter understanding. Lemuria had been a city that they’d visited on one of their earliest jumps together. It was at that time a paradise of technological advancements that made the modern Federation look like the dark ages by comparison. It was ruled over by a father and son, each vying bitterly for supreme control.

Their mission as TI agents had been to correct a historical inaccuracy and save the life of the son, and they’d succeeded at it easily. Today however Lemuria lay in ashes, slowly destroyed by savage neighbouring lands and by conflicting itself while the father and son were too blinded by their own struggles to notice.

“I don’t bloody care what Brody or Moreno let happen to this ship,” Keiran answered, acknowledging the comparison Will was trying to make. “Only thing I give a damn about is that we get Liis the hell out before it happens.”

Will knew Keiran was being entirely sincere that he didn’t care even slightly about the fate of a single person on this ship except Liis, which surely included Will himself at this point. He also knew that if Keiran was capable of greater clarity in this moment, he’d realise Liis’ fate was inseparable from everyone else’s.

Forcing back his keen awareness of Keiran’s ability to crush his windpipe in a single blow, Will stood taller and spoke more harshly than he had been, no easy feat for any man while under Keiran’s threatening glare let alone for the man closer to him than any other.

From the very first word, Keiran looked poised to rip Will from the ground again and propel him into next week without need of time-travel technology.

“Damn it, O’Sullivan, listen to me! Ya felt the ship shakin’ before like a rusty gate in a hurricane. So ya know full well that Poseidon’s been under attack from something a hell of a lot bigger and meaner than she is.”

“The point, William.” Keiran snapped, growing angrier with the passing of every second they wasted while still standing here chatting rather than out taking direct action.

“Meh point is that you can bet it’ll come back. If Brody and Moreno are at each other’s throats when that happens, or they’re busy chasin’, us then this ship will be destroyed, Liis and all.”

In spite of the fury within, the faintest hint of recognition in Keiran’s features revealed that part of him knew Will was right. Still, a larger part of him simply refused to accept any course of action that did not involve immediately coming to the rescue of the woman he loved.

“We are not just sitting by while Brody does God knows what…” Keiran started. For the first time Will was hearing the real fear Keiran felt.

Will inhaled slowly and straightened his uniform, trying to get back some sense of order to himself.

“That’s not what I’m suggestin’.”


“William,” Keiran paused, an expression in his eyes unlike anything Lindsay had ever seen before as together they quickly disabled the lock and crossed the threshold of the room they'd sought. His enormous hands clamped shut into fists that twitched at his sides. His eyes spoke of a thousand different things but his lips suddenly seized.

“Keiran?” Will prompted at last, “I don’t have to remind ya we’re runnin’ short on time.”

“Don’t let me touch him.” Keiran said, his voice shaken by rage in a way Will had rarely heard. “If I touch him, am goin' to kill him, and I don’t want to live with having taken any man’s life in anger. Not even Tucker Brody’s.” He continued looking Will dead in the eyes. “No matter what you have to do for the love of God, Will, stop me.”

The request grabbed Will by the throat and choked him more fiercely than Keiran ever could have with his bare hands.

“My word, Keiran,” he stammered. “I give you my word.”


Tucker Brody’s head was throbbing in that way that makes a man wish for nothing more than to spend a quiet night in a dimly lit room, possibly with an alcoholic beverage.

The more he thought about everything that had transpired on the bridge the worse his head seemed to become. He had no time for pain though, even his own. He would and could not allow himself the luxury of taking a break. With all the loose ends still left to tie up, there just wasn't the time.

He arrived back at the door to his quarters, intent simply on changing his uniform before he once again ventured out to continue with his plans. The anger he felt before slowly mutated into a less vicious animal with each step he took, as his adrenaline seemed to drain away.

As he stepped inside he didn’t bother to turn on the lights, managing in the process to miss the large mass waiting in the darkness. He muttered to himself slightly, cursing for his mind to be clear as he continued inward and the door snapped shut behind him.

He immediately moved to the tall, narrow chest of drawers where the spare uniform he’d replicated was stowed. Instantly, he realized something was wrong.

These quarters were supposed to be a quiet place away from the noise of the obstacles in the world. Yet pausing for just a moment he picked up on a sound; a heavy, rapid breathing that bled from the shadows.

Before he could turn to see where it was coming from, it was too late. His entire body spun and slammed up against the wall that had just a moment before been behind him.

He didn't have time to react--the next thing he knew he was airborne. His chest met the tower of drawers just before his head hit the wall. He began to wheeze, crying out in pain as he felt several of his ribs crack upon impact.

He couldn’t speak the name of his assailant but he was sure he knew who it was. It burned into his brain even as he fought to stay conscious. O’Sullivan…

“Jesus, Keiran! Lights!” Will called, blinking as his eyes fought to adjust. He rushed to put himself between Keiran and Brody. “You said…”

“Have changed my mind.” Keiran announced, the words twisted with dark satisfaction. His loss of control truly frightened Will now-- his friend may end up with Brody’s life on his conscience one way or another before they left this room if he didn’t intervene.

For his part, Brody was still attempting to summon the strength just to speak. His breath rattled ominously in his chest and he spat, trying in vain to remove the taste of his own blood from his lips.

“Stand down, O’Sullivan,” Will warned.

Keiran was no longer aware that anyone was in the room except himself and the man who had abducted the woman he loved. “Her clothes are here, you bastard.” He took a step closer to the collapsed, physically broken doctor as the man summoned every last ounce of his resolve and fought his way to his feet. “Where the hell is my wife?”

“It’s where she thinks she is,” Tucker wheezed the words out slowly, pain evident in his features though he refused to give in to it. “That’s all that matters.”

“Son of a bitch.“ Keiran rushed forward and Will no longer had any choice but to act. Again he stood as tall as he could, a futile exercise when dealing with someone of O'Sullivan's stature, but a change in posture that was necessary nonetheless if he were to succeed in making his point.

His body began moving steadily backward as O’Sullivan’s hands plowed into his chest, determined to go through Lindsay if he had to.

“William, am warnin' you...” The look in his eyes told Will his fear had taken over completely now- he would no longer listen to sense.

Will had to appeal to his emotions- but first he had to get his attention. To that end he muttered two words- words that Brody heard but Keiran did not. “Forgive me.”

He pulled back his fist and struck Keiran hard, a rapid barrage of punches meant more to try to make the man think than to knock him off his feet. Keiran stumbled just a step backwards, staring blankly as blood began to trail from the corner of his mouth. Will had only struck him once before- that time in anger. This time was different.

“Keiran, stop! Think of Liis!”

“Yes.” Brody sneered, emboldened by observation of dissension in the ranks of even the most loyal of the TI ‘faithful’. “Think of Liis. Your wife, withering away as I did everything I…could…do,” he paused again, forced to fight for oxygen as even the smallest movement brought more excruciating physical pain with it. “...to break her.”

The expression of suffering that flickered across Keiran’s face was one of such unspeakable horror that William Lindsay could stand no more. “Enough!” he cried, as he turned on Brody and began himself to pound the man into the far wall.

Keiran was frozen in disbelief for several long seconds, until a clanging, clattering noise was heard. Something small had fallen from Brody’s jacket pocket. It rolled across the floor and into the base of the bed, where it stopped, glimmering in the light.

It was one of Liis’ wedding rings.

Keiran's eyes flashed as he saw it and every single thought in his head ground to a halt save one. “Where is she?” he demanded, moving closer to Brody again. “Answer me!”

Will’s heart raced in his chest as he stopped and stepped back- finally regaining control of himself as he realized he didn’t want Brody’s life on his conscience either- but only because he didn’t want to have to try to explain later to one Zanh Liis O’Sullivan why the doctor wouldn’t be prosecuted and sent to prison instead.

“Holosuite.” Brody groaned in agony.

“There’s just the one?” Will asked, as he watched Keiran drop to a knee and reverently retrieve Liis’ ring.

O'Sullivan's hand shook as he crossed himself, praying silently before enclosing the ring tightly in his fist.

Brody managed a weak nod as the room spun around him.

O'Sullivan was in such a rush that he was halfway out the door before Will called him back.

“Keiran! If he’s done what we think he’s done, you may need them all to convince her you’re real.” He knelt down beside Brody, frisking him to find the two remaining items that needed to be returned to their rightful owners. Sure enough in the interior pocket of Brody’s jacket, he found Liis’ diamond band, and Keiran’s signet ring.

Keiran hurried over, sweeping the rings out of Lindsay’s hand, then picking up the pile of Liis’ civilian clothing from the bed where he’d found it. He nodded to his friend, unable in this moment to find anything to say that would be of any consequence. They were all still in danger here, there remained much work to be done.

William Lindsay could only think of one thing to say; he employed the simple, one word command that Zanh Liis was best known for. “Go. I'll catch up to ya in a second."

"No." Keiran objected. "You-"

Brody groaned again. Everything he’d fought for was slipping away. The last woven strands of his life were unraveling now, he could only hope that something of his plans could still be salvaged, somehow.

Lindsay growled, knowing that Brody’s wordless exclamation had a purpose. “I’m listenin’.”

“Pass code,” he rasped.

“Oh yeah, hey, Keiran- wait, need the code. How complicated is it, Brody?”

“Simple.” Brody said. “Just. A name.”

Brody’s first attempt to speak that name was drown out by the droning voice of the ship’s central computer.

[Warning. Temporal Drive will engage in ten minutes.]

Brody’s eyes flashed. There was a chance that things could work out for him, yet. Still, in this moment he needed O’Sullivan and Lindsay to let him go- and the best way to do that was to give them, for the moment, the illusion at least that they’d won.

He repeated the code word again, and this time both men heard it.

“Don’t let him outta y’er sight, Will,” Keiran instructed as he rushed to the door.

“Oh no ya don’t, I’m goin’ with you.” Will was on his heels but Keiran gestured back to Brody.

“What’ll he do if-“

“Keiran,” Will said more forcefully. “Nine minutes.”

Without another word, both men took off running through the halls, headed back in the direction they’d come to get to this room.

They had passed the holosuite on their way, not knowing all the while that it was not only Zanh Liis’ prison, but also her personal Hell.

Captain William Lindsay
Interim Director
The Department of Temporal Investigations


-=/\=- Keiran O'Sullivan
Security Liaison to
The Alchemy Project

NRPG: I’m back. Did you miss me? ~ZL

1104: To Remember, to Forget

by Rada Dengar
After Back at the Beginning

-=San Francisco, Earth=-

For the first time in a long time Rada found himself forgetting about everything that was so wrong in his life. He didn’t at all understand it and yet somehow talking to Wren like this was making him feel simply good. There was something about her which he’d missed at the start of their conversation. She’d seemed so tense, they both had, but as she’d relaxed he’d found that he was too.

When she’d first made a joke, something small and sweet, he had been startled by the sound of his own laughter, though she seemed to be even more surprised. Something had changed in her with that sound, as if she hadn’t believed she could make him laugh with everything that had happened, and then once she had it became all she wanted to do.

He still struggled to believe it was even possible for his laugh to still exist, no matter how many times he heard it. He was sure that it was long dead; crushed beneath the weight of memories blocked from his mind. Yet as he looked at every fine detail of how she moved, finding himself occasionally even staring, that weight seemed a little lighter as the mind so adept at worrying for tomorrow could care for nothing but the now.

“So there I was; an ensign, heading up to my first day on the flagship. I’ll admit I was rather nervous as ensigns tend to be. When our runabout suddenly stops dead in space…”

He was amazed she was still listening to him as she took another sip, almost a gulp, or her wine. He wasn’t aware of just how much he was smiling at her, but she certainly was.

He was sure they must have been quite an amusing sight to behold. Their steaks had each come in polystyrene containers with plastic forks, which they ate them with and from as they had no plates or cutlery. It seemed oddly appropriate as they drank wine that was far too sweet from glasses meant for coffee, in a dusty old tavern that was long since shut down, here beneath the plastic flowers and by the light of candles lit by a spanner.

“Pretty quickly things start to go wrong, and I mean wrong. Suddenly the console beside me explodes in a shower of sparks and the poor pilot is sent falling to the deck…”

The situation itself should be utterly ridiculous enough alone to make them laugh. Days earlier each had been on a Federation starship, so clean and advanced, with replicators for their food and order all around. Even now this little world was like the eye in the storm of the bustling city outside their walls, full of restaurants with elaborate décor, and which a man couldn’t even enter without a suit and tie nor a lady without a sufficiently elegant dress. Yet they found themselves here instead laughing without a care in the plainest of clothes with plastic forks and room temperature wine.

“Luckily there was a nurse there to intervene because I was so distracted by our imminent deaths I probably would have just let him hit head first…”

Their meal was long since eaten, though it had taken them quite some time. From slow beginnings of small talk they’d discovered far better topics and found their conversation erupting to life until they had practically forgotten about the food. It made him smile to see her talking about events in her life, yet it made him feel something else entirely as his nervousness had slowly left him and he found he was talking back. He found she was actually interested in hearing him talk about some esoteric engineering ideas he’d had. Though she’d clearly had little idea what he was talking about she still watched him with rapt fascination and he found himself telling her thoughts he didn’t think anyone would ever care to hear.

Now he was talking far quicker and more cheerfully than he’d known.

“I look into the sensors and I discover some power fluctuations. If I had to give them a name it would have been ‘runabout destroying’. Now I really don’t know what I’m supposed to do…”

Now the food was gone as was over half the bottle of wine. Neither had had enough to be called drunk; just enough that every laugh became that little bit louder and if either of them had suggested karaoke there was a serious danger the other would agree.

Though he was scared that he would offend her, and he felt he must surely seem far too forward, Rada found he couldn’t quite take his eyes off of her as she listened so intently to his story. He couldn’t quite explain it but he found his heart beating faster in a way that was far more intoxicating than the wine.

“Luckily, I think to myself, there are other engineers here and so I turn to them hoping to do whatever they are,” he paused for dramatic effect. “The only problem is…they don’t have a clue either…”

He couldn’t believe she was laughing; she had such a wonderful laugh.

“So here I am, about to be blown up, and I find I’m actually worried what my new captain is going to think if I let one of her runabouts be damaged before I even get onto the ship.”

He stopped just a second to breathe and take in another drink of his wine.

“Oh, come on you weren’t really thinking that,” she said, as if not believing him, when she knew full well that was exactly how his mind would have worked.

“I swear to God. Well, I’m an atheist, so I swear to whoever atheists swear to. I swear to Athe….!”

She laughed again

“So, what did you do?” she asked, truly absorbed in the tale.

He paused for a moment just thinking that she was so beautiful, before continuing on.

“What could I do? I bypassed the computer, running the controls straight to propulsion. Looking back I’m amazed I didn’t just blow us up myself. Yet somehow it works and we’re sent flying away, all ready for me to realise I’ll have to explain to my new chief engineer why I had to rip her runabout apart.”

She laughed once more and he stopped and happily sighed, each in bliss, before silence fell as their eyes met across the table. Then their eyes didn’t part, and nor did they speak, as he unconsciously placed his glass down on the tablecloth.

Hope suddenly filled her features as he stood up from the table, moving slowly and wordlessly towards her. She closed her eyes as she felt his hand brushing her cheek, his breath on her face, as his lips moved in towards hers.

He came closer, so much closer. Wren found herself expectantly and anxiously waiting for contact that didn’t come, before his hand left her skin and his breath seemed to grow softer. She opened her eyes, confused about what was happening, to find him shaking with a look of terror on his face.

Her smile rapidly evaporated as she felt now memories stirring in him far more intense than had happened before.

She could see them playing in his mind as he stood in sickbay looking over her weakened body, as he ran through vague halls of the Serendipity with a single unstoppable thought, then as he was stood on the bridge and aimlessly watching more deaths than he could imagine. For one horrible moment he knew all what he had done, the vicious scream of a wounded animal falling from his lips, before his eyes flew wider.

Rada then stood, barely conscious of his actions, staring straight into her soul. She was frozen and so was he, simply watching one another, until two words tumbled from his mouth.

“They’re gone.”

Wren could see he was about to panic as every sense of the man told her he didn’t remember anymore but he knew something was very wrong.

“Rada it’s okay.” Wren tried to calm him, quickly moving towards him.

“No, you don’t understand,” he replied drastically, his breathing getting a little heavier. “Kissing you like that, without even thinking. That’s not me…I have no idea why I did that.”

It was him, Wren thought, but she couldn’t possibly explain the changes that happened to him with their love.

“I do understand,” she insisted, her hand reaching to just touch his arm in a way to say she understood so much more than he could believe possible. She could tell he wasn’t listening, just keeping staring in front of him in a world that seemed to be mere illusion. “You don’t understand what’s going on and you’re frightened by it.”

Rada quickly shook his head.

“It’s not that. It’s not fear,” he immediately protested, but she knew that that had always been what he’d say when he was most afraid.

“Yes, it is, Rada. I’m Betazoid,” she replied, finally grasping hold of his wrists to draw his attention away from the world of pain in his mind.

“Betazoid senses can be confused,” he answered desperately, his eyes now finally finding hers again and practically challenging her over the suggestion that he was as afraid as he felt. He was retreating to logic in the way he did when he couldn’t control his emotions. “They have to be backed by reason.”

“Then what does your reason say you’re afraid of?” she asked him, though she couldn’t possibly expect him to find any sense right now.

Rada inhaled slowly and shakily, his voice growing quieter as his eyes fell from hers. The world was such a blur.

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Yes, it does, Rada,” she said a voice of the tearful firm. “Don’t you understand? You matter to me.”

As confusing as he found the world right now while it seemed to bend and twist, like he was looking a failing holographic projection, he did not challenge her assertion that he mattered even though no one could possibly know him enough for that.

“I’m…I’m afraid of what I might do.”

“You’re afraid you’ll do more than kiss me?” Wren asked, humour her natural response thought she quickly thought better of making a joke as it didn’t even seem to register on his ears.

Rada inhaled quickly, the air around him seeming as thin and false as everything else.

“Wren, I’ve done something awful,” Rada answer with such cutting honesty that she knew he wasn’t talking about anything that had happened this dinner.

“Rada, it’s okay.”

“I’m going to do it again. I may even do something worse.”

“No, you don’t have to do anything. You don’t…”

He cut her off, his hands rising in front of his face.

“Look at me! I broke into this building without knowing why. I set a romantic table without intending it. I told you things I…I have no control over what I’ll do.”

“You’re still a good man. You’re still you,” Wren insisted, his panic suddenly passing on to her.

Rada was shaking his head as he spoke.

“I’m capable of guilt afterwards but in moment after moment I have no sense or right or wrong.”

“I don’t believe that,” Wren protested but he clearly didn’t hear it.

“What if this is how it happened and how it will happen again?”

“This isn’t how it happened,” Wren insisted, tears biting at her eyes as she saw what she’d done to him, but again he wasn’t hearing her.

“One can not expect the world to bear this risk.”

Wren’s eyes were suddenly far wider.

“What are you saying Rada?!”

“You have to choose to be good. You choose who you are,” he answered, though it was only half an answer. “My logic, my discipline, my entire identity is fading away. All that deserved to live is to be no more…”

Wren couldn’t stand it anymore as she took hold of him, pulling him so tight into her arms, though this time he did not sink back into the world of returning memories. So she held this man of beautiful reason, bizarre and abstract but beautiful none the less, as he felt himself losing his mind.

“I remembered,” he wheezed so desperately into her ear. “I chose to forget.”

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

1103: Back at the Beginning

by Rada Dengar
After Trust in Change

-=San Francisco, Earth=-

The look on Rada’s face quickly passed from confusion to one of horror. He held his hands out from his body and stared down at them almost like they were those of a stranger. Without even questioning it, he had broken into a building just because Wren, this woman he barely knew, had asked him to. There was something very wrong with him and he knew it.

“No, no this isn’t right,” he mumbled to himself, falling back against the wall behind him. Wren could see he was fighting to make sense of the situation and he was failing at it miserably.

This more than just worried Wren; it scared her. He looked so lost in that way he’d never normally allow himself to be in front of any but his closest of friends and his suffering thoughts shone through so clearly. Only now did she comprehend how much harder this must have been on him than even on her, and she just wanted to rush towards him. There were tears still in her eyes and their path down her face had washed away any hope of concealing what she felt.

She tried to offer him something to hold onto as she began to ask herself why she’d possibly brought this up. She’d been so overwhelmed by the very idea he could have trusted her again after all this time, that somehow that trust survived in him even when his love for her was smothered out of existence, that she’d spoken without even thinking about it. She always did that, but now she couldn’t afford it.

“It really doesn’t matter. We all do things without thinking about them. You’re probably just distracted,” she offered, with all the calm she could force into her words against the assault of emotion. The result seemed a forced politeness which couldn’t hide her concern but at least disguised it.

It was so hard when only now she was beginning to understand just how much this experience, this dealing with thoughts and feelings that just didn’t make sense, was eating away at Rada. She felt like she was watching him dying from behind an impenetrable glass screen, privy to every detail but incapable of intervening.

He inhaled slowly, trying to force sense into what he felt, though his breath turned more to a shudder. He righted his stance so he was no longer leaning against the wall behind him but he didn’t look particularly secure in it.

“No, it does matter. This is…” he stopped and attempted a laugh, not derisively but almost as if he was embarrassed. Yet as he opened his mouth no laughter came outward. “I don’t know what this is.”

He was clearly not okay, yet only he could let her through that never ending glass wall to where she could help him. Twice she had to stop her tongue before it could speak the words that would surely end this right away, finally just settling as delicately as she could on; “Do you want to talk about it?”

She knew it was foolish to even think it but something in her still hoped he would somehow open up to her now. Perhaps the most worrying thing was when he seemed to be considering it.

“Maybe…” Rada began, sighing slowly. “Maybe since we’ve done so much already, we should go inside.”

He looked up at her expectantly, his composure painted back on his face as weakly as though through the stroke of a single brush. Though he’d locked his emotions up again; like the paint was on the glass between them, Wren could still see the tension in his stance, the slight shake of his leg and the suffering in his eyes that said he was far from as alright as he wanted her to believe.

Yet he was not gone yet. As those beautiful eyes of his found hers, no longer tearful but yet to fully dry, she could see he still stopped thinking what he was to worry about her. He didn’t say anything about it specifically; he probably didn’t feel close enough to her that it would be appropriate, but he did notice it.

“I’m sorry,” he said quietly. “I know this must be very hard for you, and that’s without me going through whatever I am now. I’m sure it’s nothing anyway. I probably have just been distracted.”

Though he clearly didn’t believe his own words Wren found nothing she could say to them. She couldn’t help him now and she knew it. So instead she simply stood and watched as he turned around, taking the magna-spanner once again from his belt.

He looked down at in his hand but he did not immediately move it towards the lock. Internally he was wondering how he knew if he actually thought they should go in there or it were just more of whatever dark force resided in him making these choices. He knew logically that there was something they both needed inside and yet he feared that very logic had been compromised. For a moment he continued to stare before he finally came to accept that he had no way of knowing either way, but at least he could keep the screams of his madness quiet by doing what he’d said he would.

He held the device against the lock and soon a single clicking sound was heard. Then as he turned the spanner the door was released, still slipping open only slightly in an uneven jerking motion. Once again clipping the spanner to his belt, Rada then reached his fingers between either side of the opening. He attempted to pull it open but it was stuck.

As he strained against it, his face began to take on the look of all the rage he felt at his place in life. Though he could surely have found the tools to open it, it was like he needed to challenge it with his bare hands. He needed to feel like he had some hint of control still left. Finally after several seconds the door began to budge until it completely slipped open, and yet as it did he felt nothing except more frustration.

He slightly sighed as he felt how tense he was all of a sudden but he did his best to hide it.

“There we are,” he said more quietly than he realised. “You can…go inside now.”

Wren paused, still so uncertain she even wanted to go inside. Yet it was clear Rada was waiting for her to do or say something at least.

“Thank you,” she said, at first still not moving as he simply left his eyes upon her.

Though with a foreboding feeling, Wren then took slight steps towards the open door to her past. As she did so she attempted to steady herself but she still felt utterly unprepared for the assault of memories she expected was coming or the emotions that they’d carry.

Yet as she crossed the threshold, still under his gaze, and her every sense began taking in every detail; every sheet covered table and chair perfectly preserved in its position relative to the very bar where they’d met, she only shuddered slightly. A barely audible sound of disbelief fell out of her parted lips.

She heard the door shutting behind her, cutting off the external supply of light, but she could see everything here so clearly anyway. She intentionally passed her eyes all around her, her hand running over the sheet that hung covering a nearby table, yet it made no difference. To her shock, she felt nothing here, and she realised this was just a place now. It wasn’t where their love had formed if he didn’t love her anymore. It wasn’t where she had betrayed him if he couldn’t even remember. It was nowhere but a building abandoned with good reason.

She finally stopped walking after reaching the bar and turned around, wondering if Rada had felt anymore than she did in being back here. Yet his eyes were not those of a man recognising this place as familiar. In fact it was like he was only seeing her.

“Are you okay?” Rada asked.

Wren nodded that she was.

“I’m fine,” she insisted plainly, though Rada didn’t really seem to believe her.

He just kept looking at her; not like she wished he would but in that worried way he once had.

“So, what exactly do you plan to do while you’re here?” he asked, clearly just attempting to make conversation.

“I really don’t know,” she said, once again looking around. “I guess…I might have something to eat.” Suddenly a question was forming in her mind, and she forced it out before he had any chance to respond, or she could back down. “Would you mind joining me? I don’t want to eat alone.”

“Sure,” Rada said almost sceptical of the offer. “I’d love to join you.”

He didn’t know why Wren would want him here any longer than she had to have him, and yet there was something about this place. When he’d first seen it he’d tried to walk inside even though it was long ago closed down. Then he’d broken in to it without question.

More to the point, there was something about Wren. For some reason they’d both been drawn here on the same day. If his subconscious had guided him here to remember what he’d done, as he knew had to, then perhaps she was part of it. He couldn’t help but feel that maybe this awful thing he’d done had involved him hurting her. At times, it was almost like he could see a woman’s face in pain in those memories that weren’t there. If that woman was her though, then why would she want him here? He didn’t know but his stomach suddenly asserted to him that he was very hungry, almost wanting him to agree with her suggestion.

Wren smiled at him; thinking this was not the most romantic location but it was almost like they were going on a date again.

“So, what do you want to eat?” she asked, before quickly remembering how he’d always want whatever she felt like. “I don’t know about you, but I feel like a steak.”

Even more confusion suddenly passed over Rada’s face but he shook it off, thinking it must surely be a coincidence that he’d felt like that very thing.

“That’d be nice…”

It wasn’t exactly an obscure choice of food, even for someone of non-Terran origin, and yet it was quite a coincidence that she’d guess the one thing he for some reason always ordered in places like this. He had no idea that a steak in this bar was the first food she’d ever served him, or that that this was how the habit had developed in the first place.

”Great, well there used to be a great place around here called Tom’s. I’ll have to check but I think they even gave transporter delivery.”

“Sounds good to me,” Rada said. “How about you call them and I’ll see about getting us a table?”

For a moment Wren looked perplexed, wondering if he thought she meant for them to go out to eat, until she realised that every table here was covered in a sheet which was itself covered in a layer of dust.

“Sure, I’d like that,” she said with her smile still persisting, which was amazing when she considered how she’d felt just minutes before.

She took a personal communicator she’d brought out of her pocket and began searching through its memory, stepping in the direction of her former kitchen. Meanwhile Rada set about his task. Ever the engineer, he bent over next to the table first to examine the legs and ensure it was stable. Realising as he did that he couldn’t really see much of anything under there, he finally noticed how dark it was in here.

There were no windows in this particular part of the building and obviously the power would have been disconnected long ago. So he scanned the room for something he could use, noticing a set of drawers again the back wall.

Opening the first drawer he found it had been emptied. Moving onto the second however he had more success. Though mostly no different from the first, he found there a folded tablecloth with something inside of it. Placing it on top of the drawers he half unfolded it to find the contents were two old candles, each complete with holder. He lifted one up and examined it in his hands. They were perhaps not the most efficient lighting source but they’d do the job.

So he wrapped them back up in the tablecloth. He then closed the second drawer and opened the third. Its contents were a curiosity. Someone had placed a vase of synthetic flowers on their side.

He picked them up to examine them and as he did his mind seemed to hiccup, repeating what he’d just done but only in reverse. He saw his own hands placing those flowers back in that drawer. He shook his head, trying to return his mind to focusing on the present.

He decided that as curious as they were it couldn’t hurt to bring them as well so he tucked them under one arm with the sheet in the other and carried both back, placing them on the table nearest the one where he intended for them to be seated. With the candles not yet lit he instead checked the stability of the table merely by attempting to rock it and he found it satisfactory. So he pulled the sheets away to reveal the table and the two chairs beneath, finding very little dust had settled beneath them.

Once the sheets were folded and neatly put to the side, he removed the cloth from his pocket and gave the table and chair a once over to ensure they were as clean as they appeared. Finding they were, he moved the tablecloth over to the correct table and unfolded it completely to reveal both candles in the middle.

He righted the candles so they were standing upright but something didn’t quite look right with it. So he moved them apart and put the vase of flowers between them, spreading the synthetic roses out in order that they’d appear more balanced.

That looked better. The question now however was how he was supposed to light the candles. He didn’t smoke so he didn’t carry a lighter. The only tool he had was the magna-spanner which was obviously not designed for such a task. Luckily he remembered an old trick you could do with these outdated models.

For safety reasons, he moved one of the candles over to another table. He then twisted open the locking mechanism before he slid open the spanner’s casing, revealing a thin power conduit beneath. Holding this near the wick of the candle he activated the magnetics and the conduit sparked only slightly, but it was enough to start the flame and suddenly there was light.

Turning the device off again he closed it up, using the second candle to light the first as he heard Wren’s approaching voice

“Apparently they already had a couple of steaks on the grill but the people cancelled their order. So they said it should be ready soon. If you want to wash your hands, the water unit in the bathroom should still be...”

She stopped as she saw what he had done; though not of sadness, there was the hint of tears in her eyes.

“Rada, it’s lovely…”

Suddenly Rada felt very uncomfortable, realising what he’d done could have been taken romantically when he didn’t think he’d intended it that way.


He seemed ready to apologise. Wren however would not let him get away with that.

“No, it’s beautiful,” she insisted firmly but warmly and he had no way to argue. “I think it’ll go perfect with this.”

Wren held up a bottle of red wine that she was carrying by the neck, which had been left in a hiding spot she didn’t think Di ever knew about. “I know it’s not chilled but...”

“That’s alright,” Rada said, far quicker than he normally would. Though he didn’t normally drink, he also didn’t normally receive the offer of a drink from a beautiful woman.

Wren was already smiling but she smiled a little more. This was so sweet. Perhaps what she’d said so long ago about them simply starting over was not so foolish.

“I’m afraid these were the only glasses I could find,” she explained as she placed the two glasses she held between her fingers in her left hand on the table. It was clear they were not wine glasses, originally if her memory serves she’d bought these for coffee, but the hint of smile on the face of a fatigued man said he didn’t mind that either.

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

1102: Turning Over Stones – Part Two

by Zander Blakeslee and Salvek
After Turning Over Stones – Part One

Zander materialized just outside of the small café that Commander Jars' office had reluctantly revealed him to be having lunch at. It was a small and somewhat out of the way establishment located on the fringes of the capital proper. With a large and open design to allow the maximum sunlight and fresh air to flow it reminded Zander of pictures that he had seen of restaurants on the Mediterranean coast of Earth.

Zander scanned the number seats that were placed on the outside lanai and could not located the commander. He took in the site of the various patrons and quickly came to the conclusion that this establishment catered to the off-world crowd.

He made his way into the shaded confines of the café and was immediately confronted by a very comely Orion hostess who was standing at a small podium just inside the entrance.

“Good afternoon.” She smiled broadly as she moved a stray curly strand of flame red hair from her eyes, which then looked Zander up and down. “Welcome to Shra-Lin’s.” Her smiled widened. “Table or booth for one?”

Zander returned the smile. “Actually I am looking for someone.”

The hostess’ smiled broadened even further as she leaned forward resting her elbows on the small podium. Her long red curly hair flowed down across the green skin of her shoulders and her other ample features.

“Well isn’t that a lucky coincidence, I happen to be someone.” She cooed.

Zander’s eyebrows rose up. He had never met an Orion before but he had heard stories about them. He laughed quietly and leaned forward. “Yes, you are. But unfortunately for me, you are not the someone I am looking for.”

She leaned in even closer towards him and lowered her voice to a whisper. “You sure?”

Zander did not reply but simply nodded with a sorrowful look on his face.

She sighed and leaned back. “That’s a pity.” She flicked her hair back over her shoulder. “My guess is that you are looking for Commander Jars since he is the only Starfleet person I have ever seen in here. Until now anyway.”

Zander stood back to his full height and smiled. “As a matter of fact I am.”

She nodded to the far back corner of the main dining room.

“Thanks.” Zander said as he walked past.

The hostess watched him go with the longing stare of a Lioness watching her prey slip away. She then sighed and returned her attention to the reservation book on the podium.

Zander wound his way through the tables and patrons and found Commander Jars seated alone at a small table by an open window. He was absent mindedly chewing as he read something on a PADD unit.

“Commander Jars I apologize for disturbing you.”

Jars looked up from the PADD and frowned. He slowly put down what he was reading and swallowed his food. “Commander Blakeslee, why, what brings you…” He smiled away his shock. “What can I do for you?”

Zander wasted no time getting to the point. “I need your help commander.”

Jars stared at Zander for a moment before motioning towards an open chair across form him. “Have a seat.”

Zander sat down and continued. “New information has been presented to us that we believe might offer more details, more insight, into the possible cause of T’Dara’s death.”

Jars leaned forward. “Go on.”

“Both autopsies concluded that she died from a unusually accelerated reaction to the Pon Farr. We know that such violent reactions are rare but not unheard of. Death from them is even rarer but once again not unheard of. Once T'Dara died there was no reason to think of it as anything other than an unfortunate coincidence.”

Jars rubbed his eyes. “Your not helping your case right now you know that don’t you?”

Zander held up his hand. “Bear with me. Neither doctor could explain the reason for the Pan Farr besetting T’Dara so quickly or how it advanced so rapidly. Doctor Hartcort theorized that a possible genetic defect could be the cause but he could not explain why this happened to T’Dara now. At her age she obviously has been through it before with out issue. Unfortunately he was not able to prove that theory because the generic sample from her body matched the records from her Starfleet enlistment medical checkup.”

Jars shrugged. “Your doctor was wrong.”

Zander almost laughed. “Lance is wrong in many ways but not as a doctor I assure you.”

“From what we can tell this would have been T’Dara’s first Pon Farr since joining.”

“Where are you going with this commander?” Jars asked.

“T’Dara participated in a classified biological project for the Vulcan government prior to joining Starfleet. A corporation called K’Shara Industries ran it. We can find nothing about this company other then small payments made through a Ferengi handling company.”

Jars leaned back in his chair. “I take it that you feel the Vulcan’s are going to be less then forthcoming with the information.”

Zander nodded. “I think they know questions will be raised by the family as to why their young daughter died from a typical Vulcan life event. So they are trying to give them a reason by pinning it on Commander Salvek. They want to make it look like T'Dara would have been fine if Salvek had just addressed her Pon Farr immediately. The fact is if the event had not been artificially accelerated, like I believe it was, T'Dara could have had days more before the Pon Farr took her life, more than enough time to get her back to the ship.”

“The only way to prove her genetics were modified would be if Doctor Hartcort had a DNA sample from before T’Dara joined Starfleet…” Jars nodded understanding what Zander was alluding to.

“He could prove his theory,” Zander completed the thought.

"And you must be here because you know how we can get the sample, but you need my help?"

"The sample is moot at this point," Zander said. "Once we find K'Shara Industries and confront them, the rest is only a formality. We will make a very public display of demanding the evidence on Salvek's behalf at which point they will either give us what we want, or refuse. Either way the public will know something is very wrong here. But time is short, Commander. I have the name of a Ferengi group that shuttled money from K'Shara to T'Dara. They can point us in the right direction, I just don't know their price. We need to go, now."

Jars looked longingly at the meal had had barely touched before Blakeslee showed up. He then chuckled and lifted his eyes up to Zander. "So all you need me for, is my wallet?" He tossed his napkin, and several credits down onto the table. Meal time was over. "You owe me dinner, back here."

-=Office of the Ferengi intermediary=-

Walking from the blazing dry heat of Vulcan to the cool damp mist of the Ferengi office was quite a shock to the system, especially when one had no idea it was coming.

"Shut the door! You're letting all the humidity out!" Someone hissed at Zander through the haze. Blakeslee and Jars each waved their hands through the fog that permeated the room, while their eyes tried to adjust to the darkness. Moisture immediately began clinging to their exposed skin which was actually quite a pleasant change from the norm on Vulcan.

Zander's eyes finally began to focus on the form of a Ferengi behind a counter.

"I do not mean to be rude but electric bill is already triple anyone else on this street to keep the humidifier running. A necessary evil to keep our lobes from cracking, I'm sure you understand." The Ferengi grinned in that sinister way the Ferengi involved with money always seemed to, in other words, all of them. "How may I help you gentlemen? My license is on the wall right there."

"What makes you think we want to see a license?" Jars asked.

"Oh, well, we don't get many Starfleet types in here. If you want to transfer credits our transaction fee is five percent for the first one thousand and ten percent for...."

"We don't want to transfer credits." Zander elevated the volume of his voice over the Ferengi's. He tossed the PADD with the account numbers for T'Dara's deposits onto the counter. "We want to know where the money you sent to this woman's account came from."

The Ferengi eyed the PADD with suspicion gleaned from years of dealing with money, both his own and others. It was never good when someone in a uniform, Starfleet or any other, came knocking at your door with account numbers in hand, never good at all.

“Allow me to introduce myself.” The Ferengi smiled a large and toothy grin. “I am Zerg, manager of this establishment and as much as I would like to cooperate with Starfleet I can not. Unless of course you have a warrant for the release of the information and that would only apply if the origin of the payment is from a government that recognizes Federation law.”

*When in doubt hide behind legal precedent.* Zerg thought to himself.

Zander and Jars exchanged glances. So far things were proceeding as they had envisioned. “We don’t have a warrant.” Zander admitted.

Zerg held up his hands in a mock expression of pity even though his toothy grin said otherwise. “Then I am afraid gentleman that there is nothing that I can do for you.”

Jars looked at Zander and gave him a slight nod. Zander understood that he was approved to go forth with a plan that they had concocted on the way here.

“Let’s not be so hasty.” Zander pulled out a PADD and began to type on it. “Let’s talk about this for a moment. Who said that we were here on official Starfleet business?”

Zerg’s eyes shifted between the two humans as his lobes started to tingle in that way that signaled that a deal was in the breeze.

“Very well. Why are you here then?”

Zander stopped typing on the PADD and looking at the Ferengi. “I’ve always wanted to own a money transfer business, but I am not totally convinced that it is the right investment for me.”

Zerg's eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Go on.”

“I thought maybe, just maybe, I could rent one for a little bit, ya know, to get the feel.” He slid the PADD to Zerg who’s eyes widened at the site on the PADD.

Zerg licked his lips. “Perhaps that could be arraigned.” Zerg knew that the humans only wanted the information attached to the accounts they had presented him earlier. But this could be a technical loop hole for him, plus the number on a the PADD was most intriguing. “Of course, I am not sure this amount would cover the rental time in…”

“Don’t push it Zerg.” Zander warned sternly.

“Deal.” Zerg stood up and extended his hand.

Zander pointed to the PADD ignoring the extended hand. “Sign the PADD and transfer of ownership for 20 standard minutes for the agreed price. After the 20 minutes ownership will automatically transfer back."

Zerg nodded and signed the PADD. “I’ll see you gentlemen in 20 minutes.” He said as he moved out from behind the counter and made his way into the back office.

Zander and Jars moved behind the counter. Zander took out a tricorder and used it to translate the Ferengi console in front of them.

After about ten minutes of digging through the incredibly convoluted file system Zander found what he was looking for. “Bingo.”

Zander was silent for several moments as Commander Jars, who was beyond curious, grew impatient. "Bingo? What is bingo? What's the name!"

Zander backed away and Jars leaned in, squinting to read the translated information on the tiny tricorder screen. He frowned and shook his head slowly. "Never heard of them. I take it you have?"

"Oh yeah," Zander replied with anger clearly boiling just beneath the surface. "I need to get this back to Commander Salvek."


Back on the ship Salvek waited patiently for Zander to return. Ever the model of efficiency, he used the time that could have been wasted on anxious anticipation to instead try an gain some information on the status on the Serendipity. His efforts met with minimal success. He was stonewalled at every turn and only the third admiral he spoke to was willing to at least tell him that the ship, "Was not destroyed," at least as far as she knew. It was not a conversation that inspired confidence.

The hiss of the bridge doors opening drew his attention back to the matter at hand. With hand outstretched, Zander Blakeslee handed him the tricorder with the name displayed on the screen. Salvek rose from his chair and took the device. The name on the screen was immediately recognizable from reports he had received following a previous mission.

Gira Lassiter was fully turned around in her seat at the helm, clearly anxious to hear the name. Salvek folded up the tricorder and handed it back to Zander, before speaking a single name.


Lt. Commander Zander Blakeslee
Chief of Security
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Commander Salvek
First Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

1101: Turning Over Stones – Part One

By Salvek
After Quest for the Truth


“We need to get back to the ship. We don’t have much time.” Zander said, as soon as Salvek finished reading the note. Both men knew if someone went to all the trouble of delivering it, there must have been a damn good reason. However, the recess was only planned to be three hours long before Salvek’s inquiry would resume, and they had wasted a third of it being dragged around unconscious.

Salvek tapped the communicator on his chest, and requested a transport back to the Alchemy.


After the two men materialized directly on the bridge, they each took up adjoining stations. Gira Lassiter frowned at their abrupt and silent arrival.

“Everything ok?” She asked, poking her head over their shoulders to see what they were doing.

“Our time is short.” Salvek answered. He didn’t means to be rude, he simply could not afford the time to be pleasant. Gira let them be, figuring if they were acting like they were in a great rush, that they probably really were.

“Have you ever heard of K’Shara Industries?” Zander asked. The name gnawed at him, like he should remember it. It was the same sort of feeling a person gets when they know there is something important they were supposed to remember, they just can’t remember what it actually was.

“Never,” Salvek answered. He linked the Alchemy with the central computer on Vulcan, to being their search for information. “I’ll look for the company, you look for any ancillary links, such as partners or subsidiaries they may have.”

As he ran his searches, Salvek became more disturbed by the results, or lack of them. There appeared to be no public face for this company. No way to contact them from the outside. Certainly they existed, but only mentioned in passing. No press releases, no employment opportunities postings, no articles from the media, nothing you would expect from a public company.

“I’ve got something, maybe…” Zander said. “They are listed as a consultant to the Vulcan government’s medical research division. The same group our friend Savol works for. But that is all. Nothing about why they were retained or who their contact is. And this information has not been updated in over three years.”

“Is there a contact with the government? Maybe if we can speak to them it will help.”

Zander nodded his head, and pointed to the name on the screen. “I can hail him right now.” Zander reached for the keypad to access the communications system, but Salvek stopped him.

“Not from Starfleet. Give me a few minutes.” Salvek left the bridge, while Zander went back to the computers to look for more information. A few moments later he returned. His Starfleet uniform was gone, and he wore civilian attire in its place. A light top with interlocking shades of tan and light blue.

Salvek positioned himself so that as he spoke this Director Vilosh with the Vulcan Medical Research Council, all the director would see behind him would be a blank wall. He hopped that was enough to convince the man he was not speaking to Starfleet, but simply to a concerned citizen.

“Open the channel.” Salvek ordered.

Zander nodded, and a moment later a frighteningly thin elder Vulcan appeared on the screen.

“This is Vilosh. To whom am I speaking?”

“I am Salvek. I was hoping you may have a moment to answer a few questions.”

Vilosh nodded slowly. “The government is always open to questions from its citizens. What are your concerns?”

“I’ve discovered a site where a K’Shara Industries is listed as a consultant to the Vulcan Medical Research Council. Yet, I cannot seem to find any public records of what they do or why the Government chose to retain their services. Do you have any knowledge?”

Vilosh’s small and very thin eyes seemed to widen for just a bit. “They have assisted us with research. Research that I am sorry to say is classified.”

“I thought you said the government was always open to questions?” Salvek retorted.

“Open to questions, just not necessarily answers,” Vilosh said. “It is sometimes necessary to protect secrets, for the greater good.”

Salvek backed away from the screen. He could have began a philosophical argument about the merits of keeping things hidden from the public, but he did not have the time, nor did he think it would get him anywhere.

“There is probably little point in questioning you on this further, is there?” He said finally.

“I would be happy to listen to any other questions you may have.” Vilosh offered, completely unhelpfully.

“That will not be necessary. Good day.” Salvek closed the channel and immediately turned to Zander. “At least we know now that the affiliation was there and the work done was serious enough to warrant it being classified. Our efforts are not in vain.”

Zander rolled back from his console, inviting Salvek to take a look. “While you were talking something came to mind. T’Dara’s Starfleet application. I recalled scanning over it while I was going through her records before the hearing.”

Zander pointed at the screen, where Salvek saw the words “K’Shara Industries.”

“According to this she listed it as previous experience and education, saying only that she participated in an advanced biological research study. Starfleet queried her for more information while processing her application but was specifically told by the Vulcan government that the research was classified, but that they would vouch for the years served on her behalf to help her gain acceptance into Starfleet medical. It’s all in the report here.”

Zander clicked onto another screen to show Salvek the additional information. The Vulcan stood up straight, as pieces began falling into place in his mind. Unfortunately the pieces he had only formed the border of a much larger image.

“You want to read the comments from the Vulcan ambassador very carefully.” Zander continued. “It says that T’Dara participated in a research project. Not that she ran it or helped run it, but that she participated. That seems to tell me that she was a subject of the project.”

Salvek read the words for himself and came to the same conclusion. It was possible they were just misinterpreting the Ambassador’s words, or simply grasping at straws, but there was only one way to know for sure. “We need to speak with the family again.”

-=Residence of T’Dara’s family, Vulcan=-

T’Far, brother of T’Dara, answered the door this time. Without being asked, he simply stepped aside and allowed Salvek and Blakeslee to enter the home.

“Mother, father… Commander Salvek of Starfleet has returned.” T’Far closed the door behind them and waited for his parents to enter the room. When they did, neither Verkola nor Savel seemed particularly surprised or pleased to see Salvek had returned.

“Forgive us for the intrusion, but I require information that may shed new light upon the matter of T’Dara’s death.” Salvek said. He noted the T’Far was glancing almost angrily in his father’s direction, as if he knew exactly what Salvek was going to say before he even said it.

Zander took the opportunity to introduce himself formally, despite knowing the family was well aware of who he was. “My name is Commander Zander Blakeslee. I’m representing Commander Salvek in this matter, and we’ve uncovered a name that may or not have some meaning to you. Have you ever heard of an organization called K’Shara Industries?”

T’Far immediately turned on his father, his jaw set square. “I told you not to let her go, father!”

“T’Far, please.” His mother rested a loving hand upon her son’s chest, and the impassioned young man stepped back into his place. It was quite clear T’Far had a long way to go in his training, though Salvek doubted the young man had much interest in completing the Kholinar.

“My daughter received an offer from them, yes. They were looking for the brightest young minds to participate in a research project.”

“As a Doctor or a patient?” Zander asked.

“They offered her the chance for early admissions to Starfleet Medical if she helped them with their research. They wanted to study her.”

Zander held his arms behind his back, asking the next question very gently. “I know this must be difficult to discuss, but do you remember anything about the project? What they were studying? Who her contact was? Perhaps another participant?”

“I’m sorry,” Savel lowered his head. “She was not allowed to discuss any of it.”

“Was she compensated for her time?” Salvek asked.

“The experience credit and early admission was her compensation.”

“The meals, father.” T’Far interjected. “She had to travel to the city for her tests. She never told me where, but she told me they gave her a few credits a day to cover her meals since she had to eat at the local restaurants.”

“Do you have access to her accounts? Could I see where the deposits came from?” Zander asked.

“Of course,” Verkola said quickly, before her husband could object. She proceeded to a terminal and input the codes to retrieve T’Dara’s account on the screen. She then stepped aside so Zander could review the records himself. He scrolled back until he found a large grouping of very small deposits. The fund source was merely a number, but it was better than nothing. He copied the information down, and turned to look at Salvek, and then the family.

“Unless you have any other information, I believe we’ve taken up enough of your time.” Zander said, as he moved to stand beside Salvek. T’Far moved to open the door for their guests. Salvek nodded to each member of the family respectfully before stepping from their home.

Once clear of the home, Zander turned towards Salvek. "I have an idea what we are looking for. Vulcan female, possibly part of a medical experiment, dies quite suddenly as a result of a rapidly advancing untreated episode of Pon Farr. That can't be a coincidence. What if they did something to her that accelerated this event? If they did, they would have all the reason in the world to want to cover it up."


Salvek waited patiently as Zander began running the account number through the Vulcan data net. He crossed the bridge, and came up behind Gira Lassiter.

“Have you heard from the Serendipity?”

“Not yet.” She shook her head. Salvek could tell she wanted to be anywhere but here. He could understand, he felt the same way. As the seconds ticked by he hoped Zander would find some sort of smoking gun that would clear him so he could simply be done with this mess and return to Earth to seek his family.

“Very well, contact Starfleet Command and request an update on their status.”

“Yes sir,” Gira said, more than happy to obey the order.

“Anything?” He asked, returning to Zander’s side.

“Yeah, the code is from a Ferengi intermediary. They run a small operation on Vulcan, handling the transfer of interplanetary funds. Most likely for clients that want to work with the Vulcan’s without actually needing to face the Vulcans.” Zander sighed. “They aren’t going to give up the source of their funds easily.”

“Can we subpoena the records? As part of the investigation?"

“We’d have a difficult time making the argument that they are necessary for an inquiry into your own judgment as a Starfleet Commander. Perhaps if commander Jars throws his weight around, along with something else.” Zander shrugged.

Salvek tilted his head to the side, confused. “What else?”

“What else does a Ferengi want?” Zander prodded.

“Are you suggesting we bribe them?” Salvek asked, clearly not enamored with the idea.

“I’m suggesting you stay here on the ship for a half an hour or so, while I meet up with Commander Jars, and we go on a fact finding mission."


Commander Salvek
First Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

1100: One Big Sky

by Vol Tryst and Dabin Reece
After Dreams of Our Children

-=The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum: Earth=-

Dabin looked over his shoulder, to see where February had gone. He caught site of her just as she was approaching the Doctor, and knew exactly what she was up to. Hartcort was clearly disappointed in the way things had turned out with Tress, in the same sense that a star is clearly hot.

He was young, so young, Dabin thought. This was not going to be the last time Hartcort ran into a patient or set of parents that were going to test his patience. Not the last time every bone in his body would be screaming at him to do what he thought was best, only to be rebuffed by whomever he was attempting to help. If the lifetime of Rilan Reece had taught Dabin anything, it was that effective medicine had so little to do with blood, bones and nerves, and everything to do with the person you were treating. Lance had done the best he could for his patients, and someday he would understand that.

“Vol,” Dabin began as he turned his attention back to those around him. One Big Sky was about to begin, and while the company was superb, the accompaniment was sorely lacking. “Do you mind? The replicator is over there.”

“What? Are you thirsty?” Vol asked.

“Of course I am! And so are the kids! So, do you mind?”

“Well, what do you want? Water? Tea!”

Dabin’s jaw fell open and he stopped in his tracks. “Aren’t you half human?” He asked, incredulous. “Popcorn man! Popcorn! Buttered ten times over! I want to be able to lubricate a warp core with my bare hands when I’m done eating it. And candy! Lots of it. This is a movie. It is our moral responsibility to corrupt our sound bodies and those of the children as well. As for drinks, anything in slush form is acceptable. Preferably with lots of caffeine.”

Vol snickered. “I do like Snickers. But--I don't know. Do you---"

“Hesitation is irrelevant! Moral responsibility! Replicator! Go!” Dabin implored.

Vol perked up like someone had kicked him in the rear and immediately headed towards the replicator to make the order dictated to him. He couldn't help but smile, Dabin really did keep things interesting around here.

The counselor returned balancing four bags of popcorn, two sodas all while a snickers bar was being held between his teeth. He walked to Dabin and stood in front of him before the Trill finally noticed him.

Dabin looked at the food, then up at Vol's face.

"You are so hot right now."

Vol rolled his eyes.

"I gogna tump dis on yor faith."

Dabin, fluent in thing-in-mouth-speak, immediately started relieving Vol of his load.

"You forgot to get drinks for the kids." Dabin observed.

"I didn't forget. My hands were full." Vol said, after finally removing a now partially melted snickers from his mouth. Dabin cradled the popcorn under one arm and withdrew a small device from a packet with the other. He waved it frantically over the hands of both Tress and Sophie as they clamored for a bite of popcorn.

"Ah! Sanitizer first!" He implored as he twisted at the waist to spin the popcorn away from them. He then picked a kernel from both bags and inspected the tiny piece. "Choke proof popcorn. What a time we live in Vol."

The Betazoid just shook his head with a grin as he walked back out to the replicator. Dabin finally handed over the popcorn, then took a sip of his own drink. "Oh, cherry cola. Vol, you read my mind."

*Duh!* Vol's voice appeared in Dabin's head. The Betazoid returned and took a seat down the aisle from Dabin, with the two children in between. As the movie began and the lights dimmed, Vol could tell that the children were fully engrossed. He leaned back in his seat.

"Dabin," he shout-whispered.

"Shh! Stop shouting. Big Bird is talking."

*Dabin!* Vol was too happy to comply.

"What?" Dabin answered, without taking his eyes of the screen.

"Is it fun? Having a child?" Vol asked.

"I'm watching Big Bird, aren't I? Of course it is."

Vol popped up out of his seat and slid down the aisle to sit next to Dabin.

"I somehow doubt that you needed children to excuse yourself from watching..." Vol gestured to the film. "...this."

"I suppose you're right." Dabin muffled through a mouthful of popcorn. In between licking his fingers of the butter, he stared at the hybrid-betazoid.

"Why do you ask?"

"Ah yes, you're not privy to my thoughts as I am to yours." Vol observed.

"Some might say."

Vol looked to Dabin and was half-surprised that Dabin was looking right back at him with a witty grin on his butter covered lips. Finally Vol spoke again.

"I've led a bachelor's life for a long time now. I take my pleasures where they can be found, enjoy them while they last and expect little more. Truth be told, I've enjoyed it very much. Having many lovers at any one time with no commitments to any allows me to further enjoy my work, my friends," At this time Vol patted and rubbed Dabin's knee very briefly. It was an unconscious sign of affection, meant to indicate that Dabin was one such friend. "And other things in life which I enjoy immensely."

"But..." Dabin began Vol's second portion of his speech for him, being the nice gentleman that he was. After all, Vol did bring him his popcorn & other refreshments.

Vol sighed.

"My mother calls it the nurturing trait present in most if not all Betazoid men. Gender roles being what they are back on Betazed, my mother claims that she's seen men suddenly develop a desire for a family much like she's seen in human female on Earth."

Vol paused, looked to Dabin who was still staring at him. Vol cleared his throat finally unwrapped his Snicker's bar.

"Anyway, it's just something I've been pondering."

"Pondering like, actually beginning to experience these feelings, or pondering like your scared out of your skin that you will experience these feelings?" Dabin asked.

"I'm not planning on dropping everything and seeking out a family life, but I've spent so much time here recently surrounded by parents and children, you can't help but wonder if you are missing out."

"You are." Dabin said before turning away and popping a piece of popcorn in his mouth. Vol creased his brow in confusion.

"I beg your pardon?"

"What? You wanted to know if you were missing out, and I told you. Sorry I can't provide you with anymore in depth than that but Big Bird makes me brutally honest. Someday Vol. Someday, you are going to need to have a child, because you don't want to go through your life never having done this. I've done it several times and it never gets old. Ok, being in labor gets old, but you don't need to worry about that."

"But, don't you..."

"Shh! No more questions! If you want to know anything more about being a dad, go sit next to the kids. They are the experts in being kids."

Dabin shooed Vol away with a buttery hand, which Vol instinctively retracted away from before the fingers could stain his uniform. As soon as he escaped from the Trill's reach, another much cuter little butter hand belonging to a young crinkle nosed cutie grabbed his wrist. Tress was grunting and tugging, wanting Vol to return to his seat beside her.

"Ok little one, me and you. I'm coming."


Lieutenant Vol Tryst
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Dabin Reece
Chief Science Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

1099: A Positive Turn of Events

by Tam Elton (as told by Rada Dengar)
Concurrent with Changes and Sacrifice

-=Sickbay, USS Serendipity=-

The Serendipity was still, both outside and in. The order had just been given for the warp core to be ejected and all on the bridge had watched as on the viewer before them their ship’s chances of warp propulsion disintegrated and left nothing but the ominous site of the ever repairing far superior enemy vessel before them.

The Serendipity had managed to damage them with one very lucky shot and yet they knew that their own shields would be unable to stand a single blast from the far more advanced weaponry. Both ships were at the moment unable to enter warp, unable to move with anything more than manoeuvring thrusters, but that would be enough for the TI ship to turn to aim its primary weapons at the Sera.

The obvious question then became what they were waiting for. It was possible they just believed it’d been the rogue agents who’d fired and so wanted to spare the Sera’s crew. Yet it was equally likely they were just biding their time and seeing what the Sera, or whoever was in charge of her, would do next. One thing was certain, they weren’t talking. Not a single communication had been attempted between the two vessels.

The Sera’s crew therefore was left in the dark in more than just the sense of finding themselves stuck in this obscure and isolated corner of the near infinite blackness of space. None were more so than those in sickbay who’d had no chance to witness the events that led to Peterson’s order but who knew the red alert had been called and the ship was no longer moving. After years on one ship or another though Kellyn knew, almost by sense alone, that something was entirely wrong.

Barlow’s plan must have been put into action. Yet something had happened that shouldn’t have. They had heard no announcement to suggest they were free of the enemy agents, whose ship they’d seen disappear from the sight of the sickbay window. Now, each of them had the same thought but it was the youngest amongst them first to say it aloud.

“Do you think it worked?” Tam Elton asked, looking expectantly between the faces of the adults that stood around him. With Arie still busy meditating there was no one here he didn’t need to crane his neck to look at.

“We have to assume it didn’t,” Kellyn observed and Trev nodded his agreement. What followed was an awkward silent conversation of words they’d rather not say as they all considered just what might have happened. Not everyone was calm enough for silence though.

“So then what do we do now?” Tam asked quickly, his voice reflecting how he was both expecting and sincerely hoping that one of them had to have the answer. Kellyn had told him not to let his fear paralyse him so now it was more important than ever to this young boy, so out of his element, to make sure he always kept moving.

The next silent pause, really only a second at the longest, truly worried Tam, before Kellyn gave him what she could tell he so clearly needed. She gave him a plan.

“We get back to work with their phaser,” she decided. “We need to figure out why it works when ours don’t.”

Tam nodded eagerly that this was a good idea and moved quickly over to the small sickbay table where the phaser had been placed.

A glance was exchanged between all three adults present.

“You know, Tam,” Kellyn began and the boy turned to look at her. “It’s important at times like this everyone has up to date information. Do you think you could catch up Doctor McKay and Arie on what we know, for me?”

Tam’ face instantly dropped and it was clear that his hopes had really been set on staying here with them. He knew he couldn’t help much but he wanted to do all he could. So he furrowed his little brow, and awkwardly summoned all his courage, to speak with as much confidence as he could muster.

“Please, Commander, I’d like to stay,” he said, not fearfully but so earnestly that there was no doubt how she should answer him.

“Alright then,” Kellyn nodded at the young officer in the making, with the slightest of smiles on her face and something close to one on his. She then turned to Trev who was already moving over to the same table as Tam. “What do we know so far?”

“Not much. Just that on the outside it looks exactly like one of our own,” Trev observed, once again lifting the device up in his hands to look it over.

“Then we have to look inside,” Tam concluded without a doubt in his mind.

“We probably will,” Trev patiently explained. “The only problem is that if we open it up without knowing what we’re doing though then there’s a risk we’ll damage the mechanism.”

Tam suddenly regretted that he didn’t think of this and reminded himself to do better in future. They all knew if that happened then they’d have lost their one advantage here. Yet Tam was certain there must be a solution and found himself thinking deeply of what that solution might be.

As he did and the engineers considered the risk, it was actually Dane who suddenly thought of something else. He hadn’t picked it up before due to the whole attempted strangulation thing, which he’d noted no one had stopped to ask him about, but he knew from experience with TI that their phasers were rarely completely identical, even on the outside, to the type used on a typical starship.

“Hey, give me a look at that for a second,” he said and Trev handed it to him, Tam watching with fascination at what he was doing. As Dane turned the device over and slid open the back of the case he explained it. “For security reasons, most phasers are marked with a serial number so they can be tracked…”

“What will that tell us?” Tam asked curiously and in his most ‘official’ tone.

“Right now,” Dane answered as he read and instantly recognised the numbers. “It says that this phaser is one of ours.”

“How could you possibly know that?” Trev asked, and Tam was very curious as well, though Kellyn was already aware of Dane’s eidetic memory.

“He could know it.” She confirmed. “What I want to know is how it’s even possible. Unless…”

She and Trev seemed to have the same idea at once, leaving Dane and Tam feeling equally lost to it, the child wondering whom he should ask to teach him engineering telepathy, as Trev finished Kellyn’s thought for her.

“Unless the phasers only stayed offline as long as the jamming field was in place.”

“Brody could have directed it away from the ship’s phasers to bring them back online,” Kellyn suggested. “That’s why an ordinary phaser worked down there.”

Tam didn’t understand a lot about jamming fields but he did understand the hint of excitement he’d just heard. He opened his mouth to ask a question but Dane asked it before he had a chance to.

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying that if Brody’s ship’s gone then our weapons should all be back online,” Kellyn answered and a smile seemed to pass around the room. The news was a relief to them all, but to Tam above all others.

“Then we can now take back control of the ship?” he asked with a glimmer of expectation allowed to enter his tone.

“Maybe soon,” Kellyn answered hopefully, with a small smile at the boy. “First we’ve got to get the word around that the weapons work again.”

Suddenly though the smile left Tam’s face and Kellyn didn’t know why. Though Kellyn’s confidence in her words meant a lot to him, his hope was cut short as he sensed that Trev was concerned.

“Wait a minute,” Trev said. “If we know the phasers are working again then so should the TI agents. Won’t they just confiscate everyone’s weapons?”

Though none would claim he lacked a pessimistic streak, Dane shook his head and Tam could tell he was feeling confident that wouldn’t happen. Soon Tam was feeling confident it wouldn’t as well.

“No, if they suddenly collected them now people would wonder why. It’s better to just leave us all thinking they’re useless.”

Tam could tell that Kellyn felt secretly proud to see Dane stepping up and feeling so certain in his conclusion. She nodded that she agreed and Tam nodded twice as quickly.

“First thing we should do is send a message to TC Blane on the bridge,” Kellyn decided, quite certain that TC would be very grateful indeed to be told that he once again had a working weapon.

“Then we contact engineering, right?” Tam asked eagerly, knowing the bridge and engineering were the two key places they needed to take back control of.

“Right,” Kellyn confirmed, with a grin aimed at the child.

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