1130: Into the Sea

by Zanh Liis O’Sullivan, Dabin Reece, TC Blane and Rada Dengar
Immediately After Black Ice

-=Main Bridge, USS Serendipity=-

“You heard me! We’re going in after them, unless you can find them and bring them back from here. So unless you want to try swimming in the quicksand, I’d suggest you all get back to work. Go!”

The crew jumped into high gear as they prepared the Serendipity to follow in the footsteps of the Alchemy and into the unknown.

Liis turned back towards the main screen and stood with her arms folded in front of her, her brow furrowed in determination that accented her nose ridges.

TC glanced around the bridge to make certain all were doing their jobs then stepped forward to stand next to his captain.

“Captain.” He spoke softly so that only she could her. “It might be prudent to drop a sensor beacon warning other ships away from the area and to launch a deep space transmitting probe to Starfleet.” He looked at her. “Just in case we don’t get back, no other ships will be lost.”

She gave a firm, wordless nod of her head and TC spun on his heels, ordering the Trill to action.

"Done." Reece replied a few moments later after he'd carried out the orders. He was uncharacteristically quiet now, and that fact did not help Zanh's mood in the least.

"All stop, Gira."

"Answering all stop."

The turbolift door opened and Rada Dengar and Lair Kellyn emerged, Liis immediately turning to them.

"Something came out of that rift, which means something is in there, alive. Whoever it is has probably been working all this time to get a message out. If they could live in there, so can we. Rada, I need you to do whatever you feel is necessary to protect the ship. You have two minutes." Zanh turned her back, once again looking to the viewscreen but unable to just sit right now.

The two engineers quickly approached the Engineering station and the terrified ensign manning it gratefully stepped away.

With the passing seconds, of which she had no intention of offering her engineers any more than the promised one hundred and twenty, Liis realised that the Alchemy could be getting farther and farther away.

Not even entirely consciously, she stalked behind Reece, Blane and O'Sullivan, listening to their every word as the three men discussed the situation. She could see they were already attempting to form a plan, but the success of this endeavour was another matter.

"I need something gentlemen," she prodded.

"There's just no way to navigate this, Captain." Blane said. "It’s like a radioactive maze. We have no idea where exactly the entrance is, where the road leads, or where the exit is."

Reece growled in frustration. "Even if we go to the Alchemy's exact coordinates, if this, region, whatever it is, is anything like a wormhole it could by shifting and changing. We could enter and come out on the other side of the Universe from wherever they are, even if they are in the Universe which..." Reece's voice trailed off.

"Is an'a'thin but a sure thing right now, Captain." Keiran finished. He had his apprehensions, but no hesitation. Wherever she ordered the ship, he would follow.

"Are you telling me we shouldn't go Reece?" Zanh asked.

"Oh heck no, I'm ready to grab the helm and take us in myself. It's just..." Reece sighed.

"He wishes he could tell you for sure we're going to end up where the Alchemy is." Blane said. Reece just whimpered to affirm TC's statement. Zanh moved back to the center of the bridge in front of her Command chair, and she turned expectantly to Rada and Lair.

It felt like their time must surely be up, and her patience had long since run out.

After quietly uttering the final words of a hurried conversation and nodding to one another to confirm their agreement, they approached.

“What have you got?” Liis asked.

“An idea,” Kellyn answered.

“Well, it’s more of a theory,” Rada added.

Liis’ countenance said that she needed much more than either an idea or a theory right now.

“Okay…what is it?”

“We haven’t had much time to study the data,” Rada admitted. “But other than the extremely high levels of tetryon radiation this area of space doesn’t seem to display any unusual properties.”

“Whatever happened to the Alchemy, we think it’s only caused when ship comes into contact with the tetryon field itself,” Kellyn added.

“Grace would have known to stay back from that,” Liis replied, shaking her head.

“It’s not that easy.” Reece span around on his chair and chirped in. “Not with tetryons. They’re very tricky to track with sensors. You can end up on top of them before you even realise it.”

“How does any of this help us?” Liis asked abruptly, how tired she was evident in her speech.

Rada and Kellyn began quickly finishing one another’s sentences in that way engineers were famous for.

“Tetryons are subspace particles,” Rada started. “If we modify the shields to create a large enough subspace field around the ship…”

“At a reverse of the tetryon’s polarity…”

“Then that field would form a barrier to effectively sweep the bulk of them away from an area before the ship reached it.”

“Keeping the area directly around the ship clear.”

“And allowing us to navigate the field relatively safely.”

“How long will this take?” Liis asked.

Rada and Kellyn exchanged a glance.

“That depends how carefully you want to do it,” Rada answered. “We could set the polarity in a minute and that would be reasonably effective, but to fully calibrate the shield generators for the task could take at least an hour.

The looks on everyone’s faces said what they thought of that particular option, especially Reece’s.

“If the Alchemy is bein’ subjected ta radiation at this level, Captain…” Keiran started, not even needing to finish his sentence.

Kellyn and Rada exchanged another glance and both could see they agreed.

“One minute,” Rada said, and before Liis even had time to say ‘Go’ the two engineers already had.

Liis turned quickly back around and began issuing her last minute orders, including instructing sickbay to prepare to treat any radiation exposure that may soon occur.

Finally she turned to Vol.

“Counsellor, when we’re in there we may end up operating basically blind. If that happens then we may have to rely on you to try to locate the Alchemy.”

“Understood, Captain.”

“There, that’s as good as we can get it.” Rada added, clearly wishing they had time to do a lot more.

Liis nodded that she understood, then drew in a deep but entirely uncalming breath.

“Helm, set a course to the Alchemy’s last known coordinates. Ease us in. Very slowly.”

“Taking us in,” Gira replied, as the ship began to move at a crawl; almost seeming to be a physical representation of its reluctance to step a toe in this sea of radiation where so many others had drowned before.

“Entering the field now, Captain.”

“The subspace field’s holding,” Rada called out from the Engineering station as the ship rocked violently to the side.

“It’s not working,” Gira answered. “The helm’s slipping.”

“It is working, partially,” Kellyn answered. “The field’s approximately 98% effective in blocking the radiation.”

“Gira, can you compensate?” Liis asked.

“I don’t think so,” Gira replied, as her hands continued working rapidly to pull the ship under her control, even as it began to shake like a rusty gate in a storm.

“Sensor range is down to a few hundred metres,” Reece reported, doing all he could to try to increase that. “The Alchemy could be right next to us and we wouldn’t see them.”

“Counsellor?” Liis asked, before turning to find Vol appeared to be in physical agony.

“Pain…Captain…” he managed to cringe out as the ship jerked again like it’d just been hit.

“The controls are slipping again,” Gira advised desperately. “I’m trying to compensate but it’s no good.”

“There’s nothing we can do to strengthen the subspace field,” Rada answered before Liis even had the chance to ask.

Liis’ lips passed a Bajoran word that almost none of them had known before, but whose meaning most could easily guess.

“Get us out of here!”

“I’m not even sure which way is out,” Gira objected.

“Red alert!” TC called and the klaxons began to wail.

“Wait, something’s happening!” Reece called. “There’s an opening in the radiation. It’s just big enough for us to fit inside.”

“It could be a trap,” TC warned, knowing that when something seemed too perfect it was because it was.

“We don’t have much choice,” Liis answered. “Gira, take us in!”

Struggling valiantly with the controls, Gira managed to knock the ship further to the side than the corresponding shove from the radiation knocked them the other way as they cruised into this tiny pocket of air in the sea.

Suddenly the shaking stopped.

“Radiation levels are dropping,” Rada announced.

“Sensors are becoming a little clearer,” Reece reported. “It looks like we’re in some sort of corridor in which the radiation has been cleared.”

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

Commander Dabin Reece
Chief of Sciences
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

Commander TC Blane
Second Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

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

1129: Black Ice

by Dabin Reece and -=/\=- Zanh Liis O’Sullivan
Stardate 101205.19
Two Weeks After The Rise and Fall of Silence

-=USS Serendipity=-

Captain’s log, supplemental.

No rest for the weary.

After repairs and a considerable journey, what has so far been something of a pleasure cruise ends and the real work begins.

We have arrived at an area of space the big wigs at Starfleet have given the dubious nickname "The Quicksand Expanse". A garbled distress signal was recently received in the vicinity, and the USS Kaku informed Command that they were responding.

The ship and its crew have not been heard from since.

Starfleet is hoping the Gateway sensor system shared between the Sera and Alchemy can shed some light on this long mysterious region and the disappearance of the Kaku, only the latest in a series of ships that have vanished in this sector over the last fifty years without a trace.

They want answers as soon as possible, so we've dispatched the Alchemy to immediately begin taking readings and mapping the area.

I have a very bad feeling about this.


Dabin Reece tilted his head to the left as he analyzed the sensor readings coming in through the Gateway. Then he tilted it to the right, hoping they would make more sense when viewed from that angle. They had positioned themselves several million kilometers from what was believed to be the perimeter of this phenomenon, an area mapped out by previous explorations of the region. The Alchemy was off the port bow and moving away steadily, sharing sensor readings as Reece looked for any sort of gap in the information that may indicate a pocket of space where their sensors could not penetrate.

Next to him, Sue Tenney was listening for any repeat of the distress call Starfleet received weeks ago, while Dane Cristiane was doing the same on the Alchemy.

“Anything, Reece?” Zanh asked, as she stared at the small blip on the viewscreen that was the Alchemy.

Dabin had now turned his head completely upside down and had his eyes crossed as he read the sensor data. “No nothing! This is like looking for a needle in a haystack except the haystack is invisible and the needle is made out of hay. All I see is perfectly normal space.”

“Keep listening." Zanh kept her eyes locked on the tiny spec that was the Alchemy, like a parent who had just let their child pedal away on their tricycle towards the end of the street alone for the first time.

"I'm listening, I'm listening. Remember, my baby-mommy is out there, I'm not gonna let anything get past me."

"I needed her at the helm of the Alchemy, Reece. You know for all its tech it's a little ship, and it needs her right now. She's doing the equivalent of driving on winter roads here. One small slip..."

"Don't remind me." Reece went back to his sensors a moment, and Zanh rotated away in her chair, trying to stifle a yawn and conceal it.

"Another late night, Captain?" TC asked as he emerged from the turbolift and took the seat beside her.

Zanh shrugged.

TC leaned nearer, lowering his voice. "You haven't slept well in weeks, Captain,"

"It's a phase." Zanh waved his concern away and turned back toward the viewscreen. "I'm sure in another forty years, it'll be entirely over with."

"Yeah, well it's no wonder you can't sleep. After what happened to you guys while I was on Earth suckin' down Slurpees, I'd have bad dreams too." Reece commented. "The next time I hear that Captain Lindsay is in town, it better be to announce that he and the singing O'Sullivan brothers are starting up the thirty-fifth revival touring company of Celtic Thunder."

"From y'er lips to God's ears, Mister Reece." Keiran O'Sullivan replied, as he exited from the turbolift. He nodded to Zander at the Tactical station, and Zander nodded back, quickly returning his focus to his work. "A word with ya, Captain?"

"Thomas, you have the bridge." Liis rose from her seat and Keiran waited for her to lead the way to her Ready Room before falling into step behind her.

“These readings are unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” Gira Lassiter said nervously. “The helm’s responses are different. It’s like…”

“Like we’re not totally in control here.” Blane said, and with a sigh, he turned back to Reece. “Figure it out, Reece, as quickly as you can. We don’t want to be here a moment longer than we have to.”

-=Ready Room=-

Liis folded her arms and sighed the moment that the doors closed behind them. “What?”

“Whaddaya mean, ‘what’?” Keiran sighed. “Liis, I’ve waited weeks, and you still won’t tell me what’s really goin’ on in that head of yours. You’re not sleeping. You won’t eat. If you keep up like this…”

“I won’t.” She moved toward the replicator, avoiding his eyes. “Kona coffee, hot. Double cream.”

She sipped from the mug and then set it down before finally turning to face him. “I’m sorry. I know I haven’t been in the most talkative mood.”

“No. But you’ve sure cried out enough in your sleep,” he moved closer, and reached out a hand to touch her face with the back of his hand. “Am worried, is all. Just want ya to remember that I’m ready to listen, to an’a’thin’ you have to say.”

Liis closed her eyes, allowing herself just an instant to take in the sensation of his touch. “Soon, I promise. I just…” her eyes rose to meet his now, and she shook her head. “I really don’t want to have to go back to the families of the people on the Kaku and tell them that they’re never coming home. It’s too much like…” her voice trailed off.

“Like what happened with the Zenith.”

She nodded.

“Aye, then we’d better go an’ find ‘em.”

Her eyes took on a grateful expression, and without another word she moved back through the door and climbed the stairs toward her chair.

Keiran picked up her half-empty cup from where she’d left it, and followed.

Blane quickly moved out of the command chair and Liis sat down, gesturing to Keiran that she didn’t want her cup when he tried to hand it to her. He rolled bright blue eyes up toward the ceiling, and then finished the contents himself, in one quick gulp.

“Sue, open a channel to Salvek.”

“Channel open, Captain.”

“Salvek, what’s your status?”

[Our status is the same as previously reported, Captain. We are scanning.]

“Nothing new to report? Not anything at all?”

[Mister Samson has indicated we are approaching an area with greatly increased tetryon readings, but we are having difficulty determining where the increase actually occurs.]

“Well, tell Grace to steer good and clear of…” Zanh began, only to have her words cut off by the sound of the channel closing. She spun toward Tenney. “What happened?”

“Trying to reestablish the channel, Captain…”

“Um, Captain…” Reece suddenly sounded sick to his stomach.


“This is bad.”

-=USS Alchemy=-

“Captain Zanh will not appreciate us terminating the conversation, Ensign Steele. What happened?”

“I don’t know, Sir. Trying to reestablish communications with the Serendipity.”

“Micah,” February Grace’s voice rose anxiously as her hands began moving more quickly over the helm controls.

“Hold on, I’m …” Samson replied, as he too began working frantically to take in the sudden spike in data coming into his station.

“Micah, I need to know!” Grace shouted, an uncharacteristic action for her, but one totally justified by what happened next.

The ship lurched and heaved, and all those standing were knocked to the deck by the violence of the change in direction.

“Report!” Salvek demanded, attempting to get to his feet.

“Inertial dampeners are offline!” Dane hollered over the red alert klaxons.

“Helm is unresponsive!” Grace added, “We’re going down.”

“Down where?” Salvek called, trying his best to hold onto the command chair after battling his way back into it.

“That planet that just appeared from absolutely nowhere.” Micah yelled.

“Black ice…” February said, trying her best to wrestle back control of the ship, but it was no use. “Just like black ice back at home. The kind you can’t see on the road until it’s too…”

^Warning. Warp Drive is offline,^ the computer informed emotionlessly.

“How long?” Salvek shouted.

”Sixty seconds!” Samson answered.

February felt all emotion drain out of her as she imagined the possibility that she was about to leave Dabin, and Sophie to live a life without her…

“All hands, brace for impact!” Salvek called out over the ship-wide address system. “Brace! Brace! Brace!”

-=USS Serendipity=-

“What do you mean, you can’t find them?” Zanh Liis jumped out of her seat and rushed from Tactical to the Science station. Keiran stood just over her shoulder, taking in the readings as well.

“I…” Reece stammered. “I don’t know. They just disappeared!”

Zanh snapped her head around to look a Vol Tryst. The Counselor just shook his head slowly. “Sorry, Captain. I can’t sense anything around this ship. They were there, but like Reece said… they just vanished.”

“Like the Kaku…” Gira whispered, “Or the Zenith…”

Zanh Liis growled, audibly. “Oh no, Lassiter, NOT just like the Zenith, and NOT like the Kaku, either..” She spun on her heel and turned back toward Keiran, and Zander as she slapped her combadge. "Bridge to Dengar! Get up here! Bring Lair with you!"


Liis' eyes darted from person to person on the bridge. "There’s got to be a way we can reinforce the shields and go in after them.”

The command crew stared intensely at Zanh, disbelieving what she was saying.

“You heard me! We’re going in after them, unless you can find them and bring them back from here. So unless you want to try swimming in the quicksand, I’d suggest you all get back to work. Go!”


Commander Dabin Reece
Chief of Sciences
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

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

1128: The Rise and Fall of Silence

by William Lindsay and -=/\=-Keiran O'Sullivan
Stardate 101201.12
Soundtrack: Brothers in Arms, as recorded by Celtic Thunder, featuring Ryan Kelly
During and after Here, There, and Everywhere


-=The O'Sullivan Residence=-

The previous murmurs of conversation were all but inaudible now. The farther their steps drew them from the porch, the more the silence between the two men became painfully obvious.

It was not one of their usual, comfortable silences; the simple kind that partners in work and the closest of friends can share and exist in and find it restorative. Instead this was the most difficult and painful variety. It was that silence that settles like a dense fog between two people wrestling tiredly with emotions they'd rather not deal with at all. It was the kind that can sink a friendship, no matter how strong, straight to the bottom of the ocean if someone didn't find the courage to first attempt to break it.

As stubborn as both men could be, neither one of them was willing quite yet to make that first sacrifice of pride. The only sound that filled the air was the pattern of their footfalls, as boots again and again struck the soft Cork ground.

They walked side by side, step by step, but neither man looked over to see the other’s face. Keiran’s eyes looked dead forward, occasionally falling to watch his feet strike the ground, but his mind was clearly far away.

Will glanced around the surrounding land a few times but ultimately his eyes never strayed far from the area directly in front of them.

Will only stopped to look around again as O'Sullivan paused to take in the view of the house in the distance. Just barely, Keiran's eyes could make out Liis' shadow as the porch light shone down upon her. If he focused very carefully, he could see her earring glinting in the light and, as she reached up to twist the chain of it, the refracted colors emanating from the facets of the stones in her wedding band.

He had no doubt that she was the single reason that Will had come to dinner tonight- had to be, because Keiran had never invited him.

As difficult as it would have been, a large part of him, perhaps the best part of him, still felt guilty about that fact now. Here he'd opened his home to the crew of the Sera, specifically those of the command crew; those who were family, this night. Yet he'd neglected to include the man who was closer than his family could ever be- that troubled, wayward younger-brother figure that he could never quite figure out if he wanted to protect or strangle with his own two hands.

That choice however would have to be made later, as that younger man’s patience for this silent walk ran out, and in deference it seemed to the position Keiran had always held in their partnership, he spoke first.

“Tis a beautiful garden ye’ve got here,” Will finally volunteered, though he was unable to hide the effort in his tone.

“Thanks,” Keiran mumbled, not angrily but with the speed of a man not encouraging conversation. He began walking again, slow steps that never changed to the long and rapid strides of which he was so easily capable, suggesting that even if he didn’t want to be here he knew he should be.

“Yeah,” Will muttered tiredly in agreement.

As they continued to walk once more in silence, out the corner of his eye Keiran then glanced over to Will for a second, wondering whether looking at him would feel different this time than all the last. Finding it really didn’t, he quickly returned to looking forwards again.

"Time for a question." Keiran decided, forcing himself to stop walking and truly look William in the eye.

Will simply nodded.

"Are you here of your own accord or did she insist upon it?"

"She asked. She did'na insist."

"Ah." It wasn’t that it was his intention to make this difficult on William, but at the same time he just didn’t know what he expected of him. Keiran let out a deep and sullen sigh. "I know how Liis 'asks' for things. Has a way of gettin' under yer skin and ya just can't say no to her."

"I could've said no to her. Unlike you, O'Sullivan, I'm not under the impression that all the worlds love Zanh Liis. I for one could take her or leave her." For just an instant, the spark returned to Will's eyes, and when it disappeared again it became all too clear to Keiran just how much this past mission; this assignment at TI, had taken out of him.

"You nearly did."

The words were spoken before Keiran could stop himself, and he could tell by the change in Will's posture that they hit harder than any physical blow could have.

"I may not have looked before I leapt, Keiran, and gotten her in deeper than I ever intended, that's true, every word of it. Whatever mistakes in judgment I made, I swear, never in a million years of time linear or otherwise did I ever intend upon leavin' her behind. Not to save my own ass, not to save yours and not to save anyone else's!"

"To save the timeline, then."

"Hey, now." Will raised his hands in a defensive gesture and out of habit, used Keiran's signature 'stop there and not another step' turn of phrase. "She's TI as much as you or I will ever be. She knows that we're expected to give our lives or the lives of those dearest to us to save the timeline. She would have died if that was what it took, and willingly."

"For the timeline, yeah. For Brody's revenge? Hell, no." Keiran folded his arms and gave a truly irritated sigh. “What d’ya want from me, William?"

Will was surprised by the directness of the question, and had to think for a second to really know what to say.

Keiran continued. "Is there somethin' specific, or are ya just here to lecture me on codes of conduct that I taught ya to begin with?”

“I don’t really know what I want,” he answered. “Forgiveness would be nice but I know I’ve no right ta expect ta get it. What I don’t want though is fer things ta be like this between us forever.”

The suddenly new expression on Keiran’s face, reflective and almost absent, said that he didn’t want that any more than Will did. He just wasn’t sure how to change things back.

“Forgiveness is a fine thing,” Keiran acknowledged. “I know yeh don’t believe in it, but I was always taught the Lord can forgive us any sin. God knows I’ve been glad many times mehself ta know that’s true.”

“Well, maybe the book makes some good points now and then,” Will offered with as much respect as he could ever muster for Keiran’s faith, though it was clear that Keiran couldn’t simply change how he felt no matter the book that said he should. He opened his mouth to make a flip remark about how maybe he should retrieve the copy Keiran had given him as a gift years before from beneath the wobbly coffee table where it balanced out uneven legs, but quickly bit the words back, thinking he liked his teeth in his mouth and knowing Keiran was beyond the end of his patience already.

“I know I’m no saint, William,” Keiran muttered, shuffling his massive weight from foot to foot as his boots began to leave indentations in the soil below. “I do want to forgive ya, but it’s just it’s not as easy as it ought ta be.”

There was a pause as Will wondered whether there was even any point in asking the next question.

“Why’s that?” Will finally said, with neither anger nor curiosity but with simply acceptance that he wouldn’t be able to change it even knowing the reason. "Why is this time any different from before?"

“Deciding on forgiveness is easy. Something they never really covered in Sunday services was how you were supposed to make the anger go away. Men tryin' to follow the example led by Christ are supposed to be better than that. Better than this. I swear, I could be, if it were different. I'd keep turning the other cheek until Kingdom come. But she...what this did to her.” He exhaled sharply. "I'm angry at you, William. Am really, really angry and I don' know just how ta let go of it."

Despite the tone of Keiran's voice, Will's mood lightened for the moment. He knew O'Sullivan could never hang on to anger very long. Bitterness had been another thing, but the Irishman's anger usually burned hot and fast and then soon dissipated. "Ya know, this isn’t the first time I’ve done something ta really piss you off.”

“I know that ta be sure,” Keiran answered. For merely a second a slight smile crept to his lips, before falling completely away to leave only his previous unhappy expression. He looked down at the ring upon his left hand and then back to the house, and Will knew the reason that he was having such a hard time this time around. It wasn't that he had to forgive Will now for anything he'd done to him, it was the pain and suffering Will's decisions had caused Liis that Keiran still fought with.

"It’s different this time,” Will finished the thought without Keiran even having to.

“Is always different with Liis. You know that.” Keiran rotated now, head, shoulders, then his entire form, at last, toward the man who, aside from Liis, had been for years his closest friend and confidant. "She's tough, is true. She's been through things that leave grizzled old soldiers cringing and sick ta their stomachs to hear about. But she has a limit, William. She can be broken, and you and I have both seen how close Brody brought her to that. If you'd told me, or her...if we'd known-"

"Aye I know, Keiran. For all it’s worth I really am sorry." Will's expression was devoid of any sense of irony or sarcasm now- he was entirely sincere. "If I could turn back the hands and do it over, I would, you know that. But I can't. So I'm askin', if I told you that, upon my word, I'd never let anything like it happen again, then, do you think that in time you might find your way to look me in the eye and shake my hand just the same as you've always done?"

Keiran stared at him, unflinching, as he considered. After a moment his eyes flashed from rage to sorrow and he closed them as in that instant he relived, not at all by choice, many of the times they'd saved each other's lives, fought with each other and for each other, and always managed to come out of any struggle closer friends than they'd been before.

Will seemed to read his mind, and spoke to the memories playing out in it. "Am not askin' for any favor based upon anything we've been through in the past," he clarified. "I'm not askin' for it today. Not even a year from now. Hell, I know it's gonna take a long time before you can look at me and see anything but the interior of that holosuite on the Poseidon, and Liis suffering in it." He looked away now, struggling against things he did not care to even stop pretending weren’t there.

"If you want'ta know the truth of it, Keiran, is gonna be a long time before I look in the mirror without seeing that, myself." He let his words sink in before going on. "I have no right to expect your forgiveness, and if it turns out that you can't give it at all, is not gonna change the way I look at you. You're the best man I've ever known, Keiran. Even if I can't have your friendship now, am willin' to wait for it."

Keiran shivered suddenly, and as he looked back toward the house he saw the last of the shadows surrounding Liis fade away in the haze of a transporter. It was getting late, and he hadn't really had a single chance to talk to her since she'd been back to Medical. He was anxious for this to be over, just as he knew Lindsay was. Though he knew himself better than to believe that it would be completely over tonight or even in the days immediately to come, he also knew that he'd hate himself if it never ended at all.

He started walking back towards the house without saying another word, and William dutifully followed.

Just before they reached earshot, Keiran spun on him. "You're leavin', on a Jump. Aren't you?"

Will nodded. "Jonas is back, Keiran, that's my cue. There's a ship waiting for me."

Keiran blinked. "Soon?"

"Yeah. Soon."

Keiran reserved his reaction about Jonas Vox' return to the director's chair for another time, and focused on the man before him. "You're gonna come back to us in one piece, aren't ya?" He said, with just enough of a pause before he spoke the words to confirm he really meant any concern that could be read into them.

At hearing the question, Will's shoulders finally relaxed. "Aye, I am." He didn't give Keiran his trademark, wise-ass grin now, but his eyes did light up with the mischief of which only he was truly capable. "I rather like all my parts where they are. I'd hate to disappoint all the ladies waitin' upon my return to this timeline."

Keiran turned an about face and continued to walk, a slight worried smile on his face in the knowledge that he didn’t know whether it was a good or a bad thing that Will never seemed to change. They reached the foot of the porch and Liis slowly descended the steps to meet them. Both men inclined their heads toward her in greeting.

"Gentlemen." She folded her arms and rocked her weight from her heels to her toes. "Have a nice chat?"

"Yeah." Keiran said, his eyes unable to leave her face for a moment now to look at anything else. "Did. William?"

"We did at that. Now, I," he stepped closer to Liis and offered his hand. "I'd best be goin'. You know how I feel about early mornings."

"Yes. Like me, you prefer to hear from others how they went after they're over." Liis finally looked at Will directly, and then she did something neither man was expecting.

When she took his hand, she pulled him closer and clasped him into a hug. She held on for a long moment and when she drew back, she placed a quick kiss upon his cheek. When she drew back, tears glimmered in her eyes but did not fall. "Safe journeys, William."

Unsure what he should do or say, Will simply nodded. "You too, Captain." He turned then and looked at O'Sullivan. Very slowly, he extended his hand. "Keiran."

"William." Keiran grasped on, and shook it once, firmly. "I don't have my compass an'a'more, mind? Can't come and bail you out this time."

“Aye,” Will acknowledged, with an understanding in his eyes that Keiran found truly surprising. “I know ye’ve other things that ya need ta be doin’ anyway.”

Keiran could tell that in his own way, Will was supporting his attitude that the timeline and all else in it could be damned before Liis ever became any less than his top priority. Feeling her hand now tightly grasping his, Keiran realised Liis could tell that too.

“Besides,” Will added, a smile creeping onto his features, “the trouble ya get into when yer getting yerself outta trouble is often when you have the most fun.”

“Mind you don’t have too much fun, yeah?”

The smirk now thoroughly settled onto Will’s face. “And you mind you don’t have too little. Otherwise I might have ta come back ta make things interestin’ again.”

The look between both men’s eyes said that for however things may have been between them now, they both hoped they would be seeing one another again soon. Liis squeezed Keiran’s hand tighter again, as if to say that in her opinion they would.

“Lindsay to Vanguard,” Will said, finally hailing the vessel in orbit. “Beam me up.”

The moment the last of Will's transporter signature faded, Keiran immediately grasped hold of Liis, once again pulling her into his arms and holding her so tight that her feet no longer touched the ground.

Captain William Lindsay
USS Vanguard
Temporal Investigations


-=/\=- Keiran O'Sullivan
Security Liaison for The Alchemy Project
Stationed aboard the USS Serendipity NCC-2012

1127: Here, There, and Everywhere

by TC Blane and Zanh Liis
Stardate 101204.19
Following Constant Beauty

-=The O'Sullivan Residence, County Cork, Ireland, Earth=-

“Liisy better hurry home or she’s gonna miss her entire shindig.” Dabin Reece said, settling back onto the porch swing and planting his feet onto the ground. He set the swing into motion and February’s eyes begged mercy.

“Ugh. No moving. Ate too much.” She rested her hand on her stomach as her feet hit the ground and she stopped their forward motion.

“Me too.”

“You two look about as overstuffed as Mama’s Thanksgivin’ turkey.” Dalton McKay said. He, of course, hadn’t needed to eat anything but he was happy to put his mobile emitter to good use tonight. Rarely did he get the chance to observe the crew interacting in such a relaxed setting, and he made mental notes on the appearance and mental status of each member of the command crew and found, for all they’d been through, that they seemed to be in pretty good shape overall.

With two obvious exceptions, women both obviously missing from the event: Landry Steele, and the Captain, herself.

“It’s getting late, and poor Fleur has been on tot-squatting duty for a long time. We really should go up there and liberate her.” Dabin said.

“And return her Vedek to her.” February added. “Where did Jariel get to, anyway?”

“Last I saw, he was holed up in a corner in the Captain’s office with Kellyn.” Dane volunteered. “Looked like they were deep in conversation so I didn’t interrupt to tell them that the party was starting to break up.”

“Yeah.” February slowly rose from the swing. “It really is getting late, do you suppose we’d get into too much trouble if we,”

“No, Bubbles. By all means, go home,” a low and weary female voice now spoke and all heads turned in the direction it issued from.

“Captain, I didn’t mean to sound like-“ Bru stammered. For some reason, to this day being in Zanh’s presence, especially in social settings where she was already out of her element, unnerved her.

“Go home, Bru. Take him with you.” She jerked her head toward Reece, who sprinted with surprisingly renewed energy to her side.

“Liisy, if I didn’t know you loved me so much I’d take that as an insult.” He leaned forward and did something few people in the universe could get away with. He gave her a peck on the cheek, and she almost, but not truly, smiled.

“Go before I change my mind and put you on clean-up duty.”

“Laters!.” Dabin took Bru’s hand and the two of them wandered down the porch steps, and soon disappeared in the glow of the transporter beam.

“I…think I’ll see if Gira needs help in the kitchen.” Dane said. “She had volunteered to help with clean-up duty, last I checked.”

“Don’t ‘help’ her too much, Cristiane.” Zanh warned.

Dane nodded to her and gave a half smile. He moved toward the door and as he grasped the handle in his fingers, he turned back to her. He never would have admitted this six months ago, and a year ago he’d have laughed at the very notion- but yet, he found he was really glad to see that she appeared to still be in one piece.

“You have something to say, Dane?” Zanh asked, slowly lifting leaden feet up the steps one at a time.

“Just…glad you’re back, Sir.” Dane replied, and then he moved on before he could see her reaction.

“Boy has grown a hell of a lot in the past year.” Dalton observed.

“Been a hell of a year for us all.” Liis replied, rubbing weary eyes. “Everyone else gone back?”

“Crowd’s thinned out like a bad comb-over, that’s for sure.” McKay replied. “Commander O’Sullivan said-“

“It’s okay, Dalton. I know how late I am. I didn’t expect them to wait on me all night. I’ll…owe everyone an apology and a make-up party on the holodeck at the Adventurer’s Club when we’re in a more…festive mood.”

“How is your mood, Captain?” McKay asked, not really needing her to answer.

“Go home, Dalton.”

“Aye, Sir.” In a moment he too, was gone.

The door to the house flew open just as Liis was about to grab for the handle, and she jumped back, startled. “Liis,” Keiran rushed forward and wrapped his arms around her, squeezing her so tightly her boots left the porch. He set her down and drew back only long enough to look her in the eyes.

When he saw the expression there, he immediately took a step backward. Her eyes spoke words that her lips couldn’t currently form- and they were asking him to give her a little time to process all she’d seen and been through this day. She couldn’t risk showing her real reaction in front of everyone that remained here, and so he knew patience was the wisest path to take.

“Look who’s here.” William Lindsay stepped out of the house behind Keiran and gave Liis a wink. “We were just about to take a walk around the grounds. Care to join us?” Will offered, knowing she’d decline.

“You two go ahead.”

“Won’t be gone long, yeah?” Keiran leaned forward and placed a kiss on her forehead, and Liis nodded.

“Cristiane, keep those hands where I can see them otherwise I will use my good arm to dismantle you limb from limb.” Another male voice spoke up from the house now, and TC Blane emerged. He read Zanh’s expression in an instant and nodded to her. “Captain.”


“Well, c’mon, Keiran. Let’s go.” Will gestured toward the steps, and Keiran reluctantly followed him, casting a single glance back at his wife.

“Right, then.”

TC ducked back into the house and returned a moment later with a hot cup of coffee in his good hand. “Double cream,” he said, handing the mug over to Zanh.

“Commander, I’d promote you again but there’s nowhere left to put you but my chair.”

TC’s eyes sparkled, but he said nothing.

“Seems to me,” Zanh lowered her weary body down onto the swing and held it still so Blane could join her. “You’ve spent a good deal of time in that chair lately. How did you like it?”

TC thought for a moment before responding. "It's a little too comfy for me, and not enough lumbar support."

“Tell me about it, I have to have somebody look into that. Seriously though, you did a fine job, Thomas. Believe it or not, you got a glowing report to Starfleet from someone you’d likely least expect.”

“Oh? Who would that be?”

“Captain Lindsay.”

TC simply grunted. He was shocked but he refused to show it.

“So TI isn’t so bad after all.” Liis sipped from the mug and was surprised how bitter the contents tasted to her tonight. Maybe it was still the lingering impression of the place where she’d spent the better part of her day, poisoning everything she tried to take in to rid herself of the sights, sounds and smells.

“Captain,” TC began, rubbing his chin thoughtfully where the shadow of five o’clock stubble had begun to form.

“Don’t.” Liis’ warned, putting the cup to her lips again and gulping down the liquid so quickly her eyes began to water and her throat stung. “Please.”

TC looked down at his boots and clicked his teeth together in an obvious attempt to resist asking the questions that his soul told him to ask of his captain, his friend.

“I seem to remember once, in a location not too far away from here, you had me cornered at a table in that pub and I wasn’t in a talking mood. Someone wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

“Someone didn’t want me to take no for an answer,” she observed, setting the empty mug aside. “Not really.”

“And you do?”

Her eyes slowly rose to meet his, and she half nodded, half shook her head.

“Could you be a little more evasive, please?”

“House of cards, Thomas,” she said softly, reaching up and twisting the chain of her earring. “Take one away, they all fall down.”

“You know you can’t run from this forever. Eventually you’re going to have to talk to someone. Or the Counselor…”

“Ah, the Counselor.” Liis’ lip curled up at the corner. “Looks like I managed to dodge him tonight. I know I won’t be so lucky come the morning.”

“So why not start now?” TC asked. “Why not test-pilot what you’re going to say on someone with a foolproof bullshit detector?”

“And the Betazoid doesn’t have one?”

Blane laughed, a rare, deep laugh. “I’d go head to head with him in a Zanh Liis mind-reading contest any day of the week and twice on Sunday.”

“That’s a meeting of the minds I’d love to see. But why don’t you do something challenging, like try to read Salvek instead?”

“Why would you say Salvek is more of a challenge?”

“Hello? Vulcan.”

“Yes. Vulcan.” TC looked at her sideways. “Male, and Vulcan. Pretty much an open book. Bajoran women, however…”

“Tread lightly, Thomas. Very, very lightly.”

He laughed more deeply now, but then his eyes took on a new and more vibrant intensity. “If nothing else, you have to talk to Keiran. The man is…” TC shook his head, his eyes following off into the distance along the path that O’Sullivan and Lindsay had taken. “All night, he had his eyes on the horizon, no matter what was going on around him his mind was clearly otherwise engaged.”

“I really pity that man.” Liis shook her head and her earring jingled. “I wouldn’t wish his lot on anyone.”

TC grew silent for a moment thinking of another conversation with his captain not that long ago and wondered if it would indeed be such a bad thing. Sure, at times he could understand the liability of such an emotional attachment, in fact he had convinced himself on several occasions of how much of a liability it was. But now, as he continued to age...

He shook his head and returned back to the matter at hand.

“It’s becoming clear to me,” Blane said, slowly rising from the swing, “that you’re really not in the mood to talk much tonight, are you?”


“Well, then I suppose there’s no point in badgering you any more, and I had better go get Cristiane out of your kitchen before he…well.” He shook his head. “That kid is hormones with legs attached.”

“At his age, can you blame him?” Liis asked, suddenly feeling very, very old.

“No but I can’t trust him either.” Blane gave her a grin, and nodded. “Goodnight, Captain.”

“Goodnight, Thomas.” As he walked away, she held up a hand and called him back.

He turned and tilted his head, waiting.

“Target practice tomorrow? Holodeck two?”

Blane chuckled. "You must be feeling better. Sure, five credits a target?"

"Very well. Best of five rounds. Loser has to walk the winner's dog for a week."


Commander TC Blane
Second Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


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