1150: The Detective

by Rada Dengar
After Morta

-=Holodeck Two, USS Serendipity=-

Rada Dengar was rarely a man to be found indulging in holodeck fantasy. Experience had taught him that fantasies almost inevitably followed a twisted, perverted path to the destruction of all he held dear, and he found little relaxing about that.

However, this mystery gift was beginning to drive him slightly crazier than he could afford to be seen acting, and he lacked even the most basic idea of where to begin looking to discover its origins.

All things considered, especially those things which happened to be that he was an alien on a twenty-fourth century starship, the odds were not greatly in favour of that mystery being revealed at nine in the morning in a quiet London restaurant early in the twentieth century. Nonetheless, that was where he found himself today.

Strange looks and hushed laughter abounded as he entered, and the bell on the door drew many eyes to his direction. Whispers began amongst the waitstaff and the seated customers alike; men in women dressed in suits, dresses and funny hats, all apparently considering this perfectly normal attire for the consumption of a meal which he’d generally eat in his pyjamas.

Rada paid little attention to their chattering, though he did begin to think that just maybe he should have changed out of his Starfleet uniform before he came. He had the impression that he may as well have shown up covered in tinfoil for how well he’d fit on.

He didn’t wish to have to replicate some twentieth century clothes though and have further records of this bizarre personal activity be generated. The alternative would simply have been to use holographic clothing and there was no way he was risking that. It was all too easy to forget as a red alert was called and to rush outside to discover that free from the holodeck’s guidance, you’re really just wearing a small white pear of underwear in front of the Captain, Chief of Security or some sort of senior clergyman.

Still, he reminded himself that he was really just dealing with computer algorithms and that he should give their electronically generated heuristic opinions of him the same weight one would when a locked door beeped rudely and wouldn’t let them in. So he continued to move in, contemplating deleting a woman with a particularly cruel chortle.

Quickly though, he found himself intercepted by a rather pale gentleman who seemed to be himself suppressing a chuckle.

“Excuse me, Sir…This is a private establishment. I don’t think it likely you have a reservation…”

“I’m here to meet someone,” Rada explained, surveying the room in front of him then smiling as he recognised the face he was looking for. It was a face attached to the head of a stout bearded man, who for all the food on his plate was fussily examining his eggs to ensure they were both exactly the same size.

“Ah, and who’s that…?”

“That’s him,” Rada answered, beginning to move inward much to the pale gentleman’s irritation.

As he approached, Rada realised he’d been noticed, as the stout man’s face registered first surprise, to be replaced by a slightly awkward polite smile.

“I need to talk to you,” Rada said, taking the seat across to him to the stout man’s clear confusion and distaste at his meal being interrupted.

“Ah of course, my friend,” the man said insincerely, and Rada could tell that he was taking stock of his rather unusual clothing and more particularly of the bizarre and tortured mind that would choose to wear it. “So tell me, if you please, what it is you wish to be talking about?”

“Well, I know you’re a great detective...”


The man shook his head, and continued again to examine his eggs with his fork.

“No…?” Rada asked, wondering if he’d chosen the wrong program. “What do you mean, no?”

“I mean, no,” the man retorted quickly. “A great detective, I am not. I am in fact a detective entirely unique. I’m unsurpassably the greatest that ever lived. To say I am great is the most extreme of understatements.”

The man punctuated his statement by letting his fork fall and clatter onto the plate, as it became clear the eggs just didn’t measure up.

“I’m sorry…” Rada said, hoping he hadn’t offended him. “I didn’t mean to…”

The man sighed with irritation.

“It doesn’t matter,” he said, as he signalled for the waiter to come, take the offending food away, and try again. “I suppose if a man wishes to talk about how great I am, he can be forgiven for a little inaccuracy. It is perhaps best, is it not, to preserve a little modesty?”

Rada shrugged his shoulders awkwardly. “That’s actually not what I’m here for.”

“Ah, then you are here to make use of my detective’s mind? Perhaps you wish me to prove my greatness to you?” The man sounded like he was taking this as a challenge.

“I can pay you,” Rada said, knowing it’d be easy enough to have the holodeck make him some money.

“No,” the man replied, his voice losing intensity. “I don’t think so.”

“I can…”

“Oh, I’ve no doubt you could afford to pay. A man who dresses like that is either extremely stupid or quite wealthy, and the stupid find it harder to locate me.”

“Then what’s the problem?” Rada asked, noticing the man was barely even looking at him.

“The problem is I don’t take cases just for money,” he explained, looking longingly at the empty place setting before him. “First, you must capture my interest. So then tell me, what great mystery have you brought for my mighty mind to grapple with? A murderer that disappeared into thin air? A man seen dancing at a ball an hour after time of death?”

“Actually, it’s a children’s book.”

“A book?” the man furrowed his brow. “I see, and who did this book kill?”

“No one. Actually it just showed up.”

“By a body?”

“No, in the mail.”

“And it indicated someone would be killed?”

“Not exactly.”

The man blinked once in confusion.

“I don’t think you quite understand what I do…”

“I want to know who sent it,” Rada explained, quietly leaning in as if not wanting anyone to overhear.

Realising that really was all Rada wanted, the man was clearly not amused. He began to scowl.

“Have you tried the return address?”

“There wasn’t one.”

“I see. So you come here, and you interrupt my meal,” he gestured towards the table where his meal had been, then remembering the waiter had taken it he pointed at him instead, “for this?”

“Perhaps I should have gone to someone else,” Rada muttered.

“I’m certain you should,” the detective answered, his food finally being placed in front of him again, but the eggs now looking even worse. He sighed and looked up to Rada again. “So, why didn’t you?”

“Because you’re supposed to be the best,” Rada replied, slightly despondent at the ridiculousness of being in a situation where a fictional character in a holodeck fantasy was refusing to cooperate. “At least that’s what I was told. Personally, I hadn’t even heard of you.”

Now the man looked offended. He leant back in his chair and fixed an incredulous stare onto Rada.

“Haven’t heard of me? Where have you been living? The moon?!”

Rada simply shrugged his shoulders, and contemplated the man this hologram was based upon.

“I’m starting to wonder, actually, if your reputation wasn’t exaggerated anyway. I mean, if you can’t even find out who sent a book…”

The man only continued looking offended for a half a second, before he suddenly smiled slightly, seeing exactly what Rada was doing.

“Won’t, not can’t,” he replied, warming to his guest all of a sudden. “But since I like you, and since it appears I’ll be stranded here several hours waiting on some decent eggs, I’ll give you a hint to help with your inquiries. Always ask the victim.”

“The victim?”

“The victim.”

“The victim of the great book sending of 2389?”

“Well, it works best for murder,” the man replied, indicating for the eggs to be taken again.

“That probably makes interviews harder.”

“Yes, but in some cases more pleasant,” the man retorted, though it was clearly not meant to be taken harshly.

Rada paused, contemplating this information. Finally he looked to the detective again.

“But what if the victim doesn’t know?”

“It doesn’t matter. You don’t ask him what he knows. Ask him who he is. Only that will determine why someone would want him dead.”

“Or to own a children’s book?”

“Yes, exactly,” the detective confirmed. “To find out who sent that book, you must first find out what it is about you that made them want you to have it.”

Rada stopped again a moment to think about this.

“Thanks,” he finally said, although he still wasn’t really sure how this helped him.

“No problem at all,” the detective answered, as Rada stood up from the table. “Oh, and just one more thing.”

“What’s that?” Rada asked.

“A good detective trusts no one to be completely honest with them,” he added without a hint of humour. “Don’t forget that.”

Rada nodded that he wouldn’t.

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

1149: The Fresh Face

by Vol Tryst and Aubrey Church 110322.2100

After The Art of Friendship

-=London, England=-
“Did you pack your slicker?”

“Mum,” Aubrey smiled his ever-patient smile, “They have replicators. I can make a slicker if I need one. I’ll need one for home when I visit.” He checked his chronometer again. “Thirty five seconds.”

Aubrey’s father stepped forward, and then extended his hand with a grunt. It was a wildly outlandish expression of emotion from the elder Church. Aubrey grasped his father’s hand and shook. He took one final breath of the familiar smell of salt water and fish, and the Old Spice that failed miserably to cover it, that had been a presence in Aubrey’s home for all his life. His father stepped back to allow mother one final chance to fuss.

“Are you sure you know where you are going?”

“It’s a transporter, Mum, it only goes to the transporter room. Hard to get lost on the way. I’ve been told the ship’s counselor will be there to show me to my quarters.” Aubrey counted down the last few seconds. “I love you both, very much.” He stepped back and tapped his com badge. “Church to Starship Serendipity. One person, and four pieces of luggage for transport please.”

[Stand by.] Came the curt reply.

As one lifetime faded into the glow of the transporter beam, another took form. Aubrey awkwardly grabbed each piece of luggage and lumbered off the transporter pad.

Once clear, he drew the PADD with his transfer orders from his duffle and extended them towards Crewman Parrish.

“Ensign Aubrey Church, reporting as ordered. Enclosed are my detailed orders from Admiral Gemini Lassiter assigning me to this vessel to serve in the Security department under the command of Lieutenant Commander Zander Blakeslee.”

Parrish just stared at the PADD for a moment, his expression seeming to say And you are telling me this, why?

Just then the doors slid open, and Vol Tryst entered. Aubrey rotated in place with his arm still extended, holding the PADD out under Vol’s nose now, causing the Counselor’s eyes to cross slightly as he tried to focus on it.

“Ensign Aubrey Church, reporting as ordered. Enclosed are my detailed orders from Admiral Gemini Lassiter assigning me to this vessel to serve in the Security department under the command of Lieutenant Commander Zander Blakeslee.”

“Mister Blakeslee no longer serves aboard this vessel, unfortunately,” Vol began, as he took the PADD.

"I…" Aubrey started. "I wasn't aware." "Get used to that." Vol said as his eyes whirled over the PADD, skimming the details of it.

"Life on this ship, things happen faster than the news cycle can keep up with." Aubrey simply nodded. He didn't like unexpected news, but it wasn't like he could contest the change in plans. "Everything looks in order here," Vol remarked, looking up at the Ensign. "Come with me."

"Ay, sir." Aubrey bent down again to collect each piece of luggage. He struggled a bit, teeter-tottering towards the door which Vol stood in. "We'll have someone fetch those for you Ensign, no need to exert yourself." Vol chimed in.

"Yes, sir." Aubrey immediately relinquished his grasp on his belongings and followed the Counselor out into the halls.

"Not necessary to call me sir, Ensign. My name is Vol Tryst, Doctor in Psychology and Ship's Counselor aboard this vessel. Welcome aboard Ensign Church."

“That is quite a lot of words, I assume you would like me to refer to you by something a bit shorter if we aren’t to follow standard protocols.” Aubrey gazed around at his surroundings, quite seriously examining the walls and ceiling for anything that may pose a threat to the vessel that was, from this time forward, his duty to protect with his life.

“Counselor Tryst will do just fine. Is something the matter?” Vol asked, as he picked up on Aubrey’s sense of concern. He turned to observe the Ensign looking at everything except where he was going, as a young Science officer deftly stepped aside to avoid being mowed down.

“Oh, it’s nothing, just keeping my eyes and ears open. Never know when you’ll find an eavesdropping device or explosive of some sort. All part of a standard deck by deck patrol. I’m sure the Security staff does it all the time here.”

"I… I haven’t noticed.” Vol answered. “Do you know when a new Security Chief will be assigned? I should like to prepare for him or her a list of observations and suggestions, once I’ve created one of course.”

Aubrey could hardly contain his excitement at the prospect, grinning from ear to ear as he spoke. The smile was infectious. "I'm sorry to say that I do not," both men entered the turbo lift and Vol directed it to move to quarters before continuing.

"I must say Ensign, it is refreshing to see someone so enthusiastic as you are."

Aubrey gazed at the Counselor. "You mean, you don't enjoy serving aboard the Sera?" Vol hadn't expected that and quickly mended his words.

"No! I mean, of course I enjoy it. I simply meant that the excitement is somewhat subsumed over time with the execution of day-to-day duties. It takes a fresh mind to appreciate it all over again, and I thank you for that."

"A fresh… mind?"

"Yes. I'm a Betazoid and skilled empath. Your jubilee is, as I said, refreshing." “Well I’ve been told before I’m a bit of an eager beaver. Let’s hope everyone enjoys it as much as you Counselor, because I cannot wait to get started.”

Vol Tryst Ship’s Counselor
USS Serendipity NCC-2012
Ensign Aubrey Church
Security Newbie
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

1145: Without Fanfare

by Lair Kellyn
After Mission Improbable

“Having done all, stand.’ ~ Ephesians 6:13

-=Main Bridge, USS Serendipity=-

Salvek of Vulcan spun slowly from side to side in the command chair at the center of the bridge of the USS Serendipity.

It was a silent motion, smooth and even in arc as he shifted his feet back and forth ever so slightly against the deck plates. Repeatedly he would sway, just subtly, his hands held in the thoughtful, clasped position in which he usually kept them when deep in concentration.

The scenery around him moved as if outside time and space, frame by frame, like a projector turning at a different speed, as though he didn’t quite fit in with the world he surveyed.

Though deep in thought, the harder he tried to grasp each image in his mind, the more quickly they slipped away. Concentration was something that he was finding impossible on this of all days.

“Is…everything all right, Commander?” Micah Samson asked, unnerved by how entirely uncharacteristic the Vulcan’s behaviour had been all day.

Usually Salvek sat still as stone in that chair no matter the chaos swirling around him. In all the time he’d known and served with him, Micah could never recall having seen him so ill at ease.

“Commander?” Micah repeated, after Salvek failed, at first to answer.

“Is something wrong, Mr. Samson?”

“That’s the question that I asked you, Sir,” Micah’s voice cracked slightly as Salvek’s dark eyes settled upon him fully. He cleared his throat and rephrased his question. “Is there a problem we should be aware of, Sir?”


Salvek picked up the PADD that rested on the arm of the chair and began to type on it, trying to appear more focused than he actually was.

A moment passed in silence, save the beeping of the normal displays all around them, and the crew exchanged glances that ran the gamut from slightly anxious to outright worried.

“Computer, what is the time?” Salvek asked suddenly.

^The time is fourteen hundred hours.^

Salvek spoke no more. He just continued slowly pivoting the chair back and forth and staring beyond the device in his hands, his mind far removed from his physical location.

-=The Captain’s Ready Room=-

Zanh Liis’ feet rocked against the deck plates moving in the chair at her desk, seeming to mirror the anxiety and the repetition in Salvek’s movements, even though she couldn’t see him. She twisted the chain of her earring as she spoke to a face on the viewscreen before her. “Are you certain this is what you want, Jariel?”

“It’ll be…too difficult to do this any other way, Captain.” Jariel replied. The image of his empty quarters aboard ship filled the screen behind him, and he was wearing simple, civilian clothing; no longer the all black ‘uniform’ he had worn in his work as Ship’s Chaplain.

“They really wanted the chance to say goodbye,” Liis said softly.

“Say goodbye to a room full of my friends, all at once?” Jariel shook his head. “Bru, and Dabin. Micah. Sue and TC and…” he paused, unable to continue listing those he would be leaving behind. “I can’t do it, Captain. It would be no easier for Fleur, either. In fact, she’s already taken the children and beamed down to Paris. Last I saw they were unpacking at lightning speed.” He raised his eyes to meet hers, and he tilted his head slightly. “It’s not that we don’t appreciate the gesture. We do. It’s just that…”

“You’ve never liked goodbyes.”

“No, and besides,” he sighed heavily. “I don’t think Kellyn and Salvek could take this going on any longer than it already has.”

Liis stopped fidgeting and sat up straighter in her chair. “You’re going through with this, then?”

Jariel’s earring jingled as he nodded. “We are. She’s already down on the planet with my family, and she seems to be settling in.”

“You’re sure it’s for the best?” Liis wrung her hands slightly, then began twisting the rings on her left ring finger.

“They don’t know what else to do, and I want to help, if I can,” Jariel replied. “We’ll…see what happens.”

“It’s an admirable thing that you’re doing. I know that they’re grateful to you, and Fleur.”

“We didn’t hesitate for a moment. If it can help…” His voice trailed off and he pulled something out of his pocket and held it up on display. “What would you like me to do with this, Captain?”

Liis took in the sight of him holding up his combadge and her mind flashed back over years and years of life and times in which they’d lived. Every choice they’d made and step they’d taken, led up to this moment when it was time, again, for their paths to truly diverge and each to make their own way in the universe. She’d known this day was coming for awhile, but now that it was here she still felt the sting in her throat and a burning sensation somewhere behind her eyes.

“I know that you’re in a hurry to go. Just…” she was about to offer to see him off, but again, remembering his hatred of goodbyes, she stopped. “Leave it with Andrew in the transporter room. I’ll get it from him later.”

“Very well. Is there anything else you require of me, Captain?”

Liis sighed now, folding her arms. “I’d like you, just once, not to call me ‘Captain’ before you go,”

Jariel blinked and shifted his weight. “Liis, are you trying to make this harder?”

“No!” She stomped her foot and launched out of her chair, pacing back and forth before her desk. Finally, she leaned her hands down upon the surface, lowering her head as she raised her eyes to meet his again and stared as if right through him. “Just listen to me for a second.” She drew a deep breath. “You’ve waited a long time for this, Camen. All your life, to have solid ground beneath your feet. To have a real home, a family of your own.”

“Now I have it.”

“Yes, you do, and I don’t want you to spend another second worrying about anything else. No one on the ship, not the ship itself. I know you, Jariel Camen. I know how you think, and I know you will worry some.” Her voice implored him as her tone changed again and softened. “Just don’t let worry about the life you’re leaving behind take a moment away from the life you’re meant to live. Be happy, Jariel, for the first time in your life. Be really, really happy.”

He nodded, and a gentle smile lived for an instant upon his lips before it quickly died away. “Be careful out there.”

Liis nodded.

Jariel stood taller, his shoulders back as he hefted a large duffle over his arm. “Permission to disembark, Captain O’Sullivan?”

Liis’ voice was a mere whisper as she smiled at him. “Permission granted.”

The screen winked out as Jariel terminated the signal, and Liis’ smile grew wider, even as she blinked back tears. “Live the life you were born for, Camen,” she whispered. “The one that will finally make you happy.”

-=Transporter Room Two=-

“The Captain said that I could leave this with you,” Jariel said, as he set his combadge down on the transporter panel.

“Sure thing, Vedek Jariel,” Andrew Parrish brought up the coordinates to which he’d earlier beamed Jariel’s family, and the guest they’d taken with them. “Ready to go?”

“Ready to go home, Andrew.” Jariel said definitively, stepping up onto the pad without an instant of hesitation. “Energize.”

“WAIT!” A frantic voice called as the doors flew open. “Jariel, wait.”

Camen set his bag down and descended, heading toward the shaking, tearful Bajoran woman who called after him.

“Kellyn?” He braced her as she teetered from side to side, looking like her knees were going to give out at any moment. “What is it?”

“She forgot him.” Kellyn’s hands vibrated as she held out a small, sad looking stuffed animal that Jariel readily recognized, as it had spent several years, soggy neck tucked beneath Lair Arie’s arm as she toted ‘him’ everywhere she went. “She forgot Raffe.”

“I don’t think she forgot him, Kellyn,” Jariel said gently, as he lowered her down onto the transporter dais and sat down beside her. “A moment, Ensign?”

Parrish wordlessly secured the station and left them alone. Kellyn grasped hold of the small toy with desperation. For days she’d held herself together, not once showing any emotion or shedding a single tear over anticipation of this moment but now that it had come, she seemed to be unable to stop them taking over.

“She would never have left him on purpose.” Kellyn insisted, wringing the poor little giraffe’s neck absently as she clutched him. “She wouldn’t.”

“I asked her specifically if she’d forgotten anything,” Jariel whispered, putting his arm around Kellyn’s shoulders. “She’s already all unpacked. She’s sharing a room with Tress, by choice, even though she could have had one of her own.”

“How could she leave him? He’s her…” Kellyn stopped speaking, wiped her tears away defiantly with the cuff of her sleeve and held the toy out to him. “You have to take him to her. She’ll be lost without him.”

Jariel understood that the panic rising in her was about Arie leaving behind so much more than her favourite toy.

“She’s going to be okay, I promise you.” Jariel whispered, leaning over and kissing Kellyn on the forehead. “I know you’re afraid. I know it’s difficult.”

”Have you ever turned your child over to someone else to take care of and known that soon you’d be unable to reach them?” Kellyn’s eyes narrowed. “Have you ever watched your child turn into a stranger before your eyes without even knowing why?”

Jariel exhaled slowly. “No, I haven’t.”

“Then you don’t know.”

“You’re right. I don’t. I’m sorry.” Jariel continued patiently. “Are you sure this is what you want?”

“I don’t want any of this. I never did.” Lair droned. “I just don’t know what else to do.”

“I promise I’ll keep you up to date as often as you want on how she’s doing,” Jariel vowed. “I promise, if we even think for a second that she wants to or is ready to come back to the ship, we’ll talk to her about it. In the meantime, we’ll do all we can to help her find her way back to herself. To the emotions that she’s lost.”

“That she has abandoned.”


“I’m sorry. I know. It’s not her fault.” She looked down at the toy again and thought back over the years and wondered what could have been done differently to prevent this day ever coming. Jariel instantly read her expression.

“It’s not yours, either.” He pulled her into a hug, but she remained stiff and still. “Remember that.”

She broke from his embrace and moved toward the transporter panel. She set the toy down on it, beside Jariel’s combadge. Seeing it, she raised an eyebrow at him.

“Would you see that the Captain gets that?” he asked.

“Of course.” Her expression was now as emotionless as he would have expected Salvek’s to be. “Are you ready, Vedek Jariel?"

“Kellyn…” he hated leaving her in the state he knew she was truly in, but she was leaving him little choice. If his life and his training had taught him anything it was that someone who was not yet ready to grieve a loss could not be forced to mourn before they were able.

“Camen, please.” She shook her head. “Don’t.”

He nodded and took his place on the transporter once again. “Hold on to Raffe for her,” he said softly. “She’ll ask you for him, wait and see.”

“Standing by.” Kellyn said flatly, blinking back fresh tears as her shaking hand hovered over the transporter controls.


Kellyn almost closed her eyes, not wishing to see the emptiness of the transporter pad, as she executed the command.

Instead she watched, as an instant later, Jariel Camen left the USS Serendipity, with her burden rested firmly on his able shoulders.

Now alone in the room, Kellyn uttered a few sorrowful, sacred Bajoran words; a lonely prayer for peace for her daughter and for the good friend who’d finally found his way home.


Commander Lair Kellyn
Engineering Research and Development
The Alchemy Project

(NRPG: Thanks to JPW for the most meaningful quote at the beginning of this- and thanks to Mr. Dengar for all his help. The Captain's latest surgeries (yes plural) have slowed up progress, but we are still here and we are definitely still writing. Much, much more to come. ~Zanh Liis O'Sullivan)

1144: The Art of Friendship

by Vol Tryst and Lt. Grace
Stardate 110316.4
Time: Current

-=Quarters of the Reece family, USS Serendipity=-

Vol sighed patiently as he watched just the feet and legs of his dear friend February Grace moving before him. The top and middle portions of her willowy form had disappeared into a large closet, and her voice was muffled as she ran over her apparel options.

"No... no... no... definitely not going to happen."

Vol ducked as she tossed a blouse, hanger and all, over her shoulder, narrowly missing his head.

"If you don't decide soon..."

"I know. I know. But you sprung this on me when I thought the biggest event of my day would be having animal crackers between Sesame Street and naptime."

"Oh, well, if it's too much of an inconvenience for you, I wouldn't want you to miss an episode of—"

"Don't you dare." Bru could be quite threatening even if was just through her voice. Vol was still standing, staring at the closed door... completely quite.

"Frankly, it took us long enough to find time together. I yelped when Dabin told me of our date, and I'm thrilled, so don't you dare walk out on me now mister."

Vol remained very, very, quiet.

"Vol?" Bru inquired. Still nothing.


"I'm still right here you silly goose." Another hanger and blouse game flying at Vol which he almost failed to evade.

"You're mean!"

"You're beautiful."

February huffed. "This would go by a lot quicker if I knew where I was going."

"How would it be a surprise if you knew where we were going?"

"I'm not a huge fan of surprises, you know," Bru said, sticking her head out of the closet and revealing a head of hair completely askew and possessed of static electricity.

She sighed and looked at herself in the mirror. "I look like a blonde-ish bride of Frankenstein. With formula stains on everything I own."

"Then we need to get you something new." Vol tugged her out of the closet by her hand, gently positioning her before the replicator. He looked her up and down. "Yes. Definitely black."


"Yes. Pink stays home today."

"Intriguing." Bru nodded. "I leave myself in your capable hands."

Vol moved to the replicator and began tapping the panel, avoiding the speech interface so as to avoid spoiling the unveiling.

He returned with a simple black dress, soft and elegant. Sleeveless, with a simple neckline and tailored bodice leading to a skirt that would swirl and swish around her as she moved.

Bru looked at it approvingly. "Dude, I love you even more than I did thirty seconds ago, if that is possible.”

“It’s always possible.”

“So very, very true.” She held the dress up to herself and nodded again, but the up and down motion turned to a rapid side to side, and Vol mirrored her movements with much amusement as he anticipated what she was about to say.

“I know, I know. No high heels.”

“You know me so well.” She smiled once again at the thought of the day that awaited her: anything Vol would plan would have to be a fabulous time. “Wherever you're taking me, I don't want to end up detouring to the emergency room."

"I think that can be avoided." Vol moved to her closet and picked out a simple pair of black boots. "These comfortable?"

"Very. Why do you ask?"

"You're in for a bit of a walk."

-=USS Serendipity - Holodeck One - Early 21st Century Earth=-

"Oh Vol..." Bru was in awe.

Vol paused a moment to enjoy the sight as his friend walked on a few paces ahead of him. He held his hands together behind his back and he was absolutely beaming as the waves of joy, surprise and wonder she felt washed over him. He had done good. February turned to look at him.

"Where are we?"

"Le Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal."

Bru blinked. Vol chuckled.

"The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts." He smiled. "This particular exhibit is called The Earth is Blue Like an Orange. I know how much you love art and although I'm not sure if Pre-Warp Era Art is to your liking, I thought you might still take some pleasure out of this."

February grinned. “Do I ever.” She grabbed Vol's hand and dragged him down the halls. The floors shone in brilliant black marble, and the walls were white opaque glass. The ceiling was comprised of windows. It was difficult to guess the size of the museum, no matter where you were positioned the place seemed huge.

The rooms displaying the exhibit seemed to be of a different world. The pieces (paintings, sculptures, instillations, photographs and more) experimented with colour, primarily. Bright colours. This place reshaped the fundamentals of the worlds of fantasy, such as Wonderland and Neverland, and brought them together to speaks volumes about relevant issues of the time—while being marvelous simultaneously.

Bru seemed to hurry from piece to piece, desperate to take it all in, in what she was certain would be too short a span of time to see it all.

No matter what she did, these days, it seemed she never had enough time.

Vol sensed the shift in her mood, the conflicting emotions within her as she stood still and quiet, tilting her head side to side as she analyzed the piece.

Vol read the small plaque beside the sculpture “The Nest, by Piccinini.” He nodded. “Creative use of an unusual medium.”

“Mother and child.” Bru replied. “A mother protecting her child, at all cost.”

“That is the natural, maternal instinct.” Vol walked a few steps closer and he watched as her shoulders slumped more than a little. “You do a fine job of it. Sophie is a very happy baby. I wonder, though.” He paused, and February’s head snapped toward him.

“Wonder what?” She put one hand on her hip and shifted uncomfortably. “You know so much about me Vol you rarely have to ‘wonder’ anything.”

“I wonder, when in all this ‘nest building’ that you’re doing, is the last time you did something just for yourself?”

“Besides today?”

Vol nodded and waited as she tried to scan her recent memory for such an event. “I can’t remember.”

“That concerns me. As your friend and as Ship’s Counselor.” He pursed his lips. “I hate to put on a different hat so suddenly but I just have to say this now, while I have the chance. I have to ask when the last time was you got out your easel and painted something?”

February laughed. “Well, mandatory bed rest and new motherhood kind of kill arts and crafts time.”

“Well, we need to fix that.” Vol stated, not offering this as an opinion but as a mandate. “You need time to unwind, Bru. If you don’t, you’ll only get more tense, your health will suffer and Sophie will feel the tension in you, too. Infants—well, they're almost empathic with their sensitivity to the emotions they're exposed to. Happy mothers have happier babies.”

She stepped away, moving to the next work. She raised a hand as if to touch it but didn’t, merely gliding her fingertips through the air near the artwork. She observed the colors, the textures, the way the light played over it. “But when?” She sighed. “Between the new training program they have me running and regular duty shifts, and the baby, and everything else…”

“You can’t do it all. Not all at once. So you have to choose, which would you really rather do right now? Train or fly?”

“Train.” She said without hesitation. “No question. It’s rewarding to watch the next generation move up and take on more responsibility. There are still a few tricks, especially to do with the Alchemy, I can teach them.”

“Then we should talk to the Captain. See about shifting your focus.”

Bru bit her lip. Any idea of talking to the Captain about anything made her nervous.

“I could…make it a recommendation.” Vol offered. “I don’t want to overstep, but if it would help I-“

Bru threw her arms around him and squeezed him so tight his shoes nearly left the deck. “Would you?”

“Of course.” He placed a kiss atop her mop of blonde hair and held her at arms length. “I’ll recommend that the current work load is inadvisable given your new family responsibilities and suggest that your talents be maximized in the role of teacher.” He tapped the tip of her nose with his index finger. “However, you must promise me that when we really get in a jam you’ll still take the helm and get us out of it.”

“Are you kidding? I’ll storm the bridge and tackle whoever tries to stop me.”

“A force to be reckoned with.” Vol smiled. “Now, about that painting…”


“Now.” Vol stepped back and smiled again. “Computer, save program and run new program: Tryst/Grace outing 3.”

The scene shifted and suddenly, February was in the middle of a beautiful garden setting. The wind gently rustled through the leaves on the trees, and what appeared to be endless rows of flowerbeds decorated the land all around. A brook ran softly through it all, gurgling and churning gently to create a most relaxing sound.

“Vol, what are you…”

“Be right back. Computer, arch!”

He disappeared and when he returned a moment later, he was carrying a small folding chair and two very familiar black bags. One contained her easel, and the other, an array of paint and brushes. “Now.” He said softly, as he set up the chair and held out a bag in each hand.

“But what about our day?”

“We have lots of day left,” he promised. “I’ll be back in an hour to see how you’re progressing… with lunch.”

She shook her head as he retreated once more toward the exit, not wanting to break the magic of the moment by saying much more.


He paused, arching an eyebrow expectantly as he waited for her to say what he knew she would.

“I love you.”

"And I you."

Lt. Vol Tryst
Ship’s Counselor
USS Serendipity NCC-2023


Lt. Grace
Flight Control Instructor
The Alchemy Project

1143: Morta

by Rada Dengar
After The Three-Sided Square

-=An Alien Vessel=-

Morta was a woman who took few things fearfully, and to whom worry was mostly too much to worry about.

Certainly by this time in her life, she was well accustomed to the coughing and sputtering of a sickly and deteriorating engine. It was merely natural in a craft so old and poorly kept.

This humble ship was a century out of date, set to be destroyed before they’d perhaps mistakenly saved it from scrap. Much like her joints seemed to some days, it would rattle and it would shake uneasily, as they slowly traversed what felt like ever growing gaps between unwelcoming and unfamiliar stars.

Her people; the Maclaurans, were travellers, from a race; very like any other, not quite so rich as to build ships of their own, but that little bit too proud to accept any assistance in charity.

They were not explorers. They were not refugees. They were merely a people who’d chosen to take to the skies for a new life, only to discover it no more glamorous or fulfilling than living upon the dirt of home.

Their ship was self-sustaining, only occasionally taking on passengers in their journeys for a sliver of latinum for trade. For those like her, toiling in the heat of the galley, it was their only real contact with other races and their bizarrely alien ways.

In a lifetime, she’d met merely dozens. Some were friendly. Some were interesting. Others were pains in parts of the anatomy that she found it curious seemed to be possessed by even the most unusual alien races.

When their lives were threatened she took it in her stride. When her crewmates returned from missions to worlds where a relaxing day meant they merely attempted to hang, draw and halve you, she helped as she could in bandaging their wounds and then simply returned to work.

Certainly, she was not a woman easily shaken.

It made it all the more of a mystery to her then why this one guest, when she’d serve his food, had the ability, and the glare, to render her nearly incapable of speech.

For three days he had come; the picture of stoic posture and an arrogant air, and demanded she give him his due.

He was far taller than she. He’d tower over her as he stood with a waiting tray. With emotionless eyes he seemed to cut what constituted her species’ heart in two, only to coldly insist she pull herself together.

A man of few words, and fewer concerns, he’d never told her the name of his race. Only from photographs had she identified his kind.

Had she known more of that noble species though, she’d have seen something deeply incongruous in him.

“This meal. I trust it will this time meet my dietary requirements.”

Barely, could she force her eyes to meet his for a glancing brush.

“Y..yes, sir.”

“Are you certain?!”


He didn't move. He simply continued to stand there; unfeelingly studying her soul like a crumbling book; as though it were so easily acquired and read, yet just as liable to fall to pieces in his grip.

Finally though, he seemed to be done for now.

“Very well.”

He quickly turned, his words a clear acceptance of the tray he took, and not a validation of the woman whose knees now shook before him.

As he took his seat alone by the wall, probing at his food with disgust, she had the horrible feeling that his eyes hadn’t really left her. Though hers was not a truly empathic species, she could sense something deeply unnatural in him. It was like he knew more about her than he should.

Not realising just how much he really had gotten to her, she jumped as a hand was clamped upon her shoulder.

Her eyes wide, she turned, then blushed, as she realised it was merely Gretcher; one of her fellow kitchen hands.

“Something wrong?” he asked; the sweet young man always far too concerned about the happiness of an old woman.

“I’m alright,” she said softly. “It’s just…him. He gives me the creeps.”

“I don’t see it, personally. Sure, he’s a bit weird, but they wouldn’t call them aliens if they weren’t. I met one once, I think it was called a Klingon, and it tried to sell me a lifetime supply of root vegetables, before propositioning one of the female deckhands for something called oo-mox...”

She smiled slightly, but it quickly dissipated.

“No, it’s something more than that.”

“Is this your female instinct playing up again?” Gretcher asked with a slight sigh; a frequent sceptic of the claims of higher senses being possessed by certain members of his species.

“I don’t trust him.”

“Yeah, well don’t worry. He’s supposed to be getting off at the next planet. He said, the sooner he could be released from the confines of this 'primitive vessel', the better.”

“The Captain won’t like that,” she replied; amazed at this stranger's audacity.

“The Captain doesn’t like him,” Gretcher answered. “He says his sort’s unnatural.”

Morta cringed slightly at the thought. For as terrifying as this man was, she could still not stand the Captain’s many prejudices being used against him.

“I hear though that the first officer feels differently,” Gretcher added.

”Many of the young women do,” Morta replied, still shaken. “He can be very…charming.”

“Another thing I don’t understand.” Gretcher shook his head, as he observed the cold and uncharismatic man.

Morta too continued to watch him, and it was then she saw him do something she hadn’t expected. For a moment, he seemed to look a little sad, as he took from his pocket a small and hard to make out device.

“What’s he looking at?” she asked, furrowing her brow; afraid to move any closer to get a better look.

“A holo-imager,” Gretcher answered, having caught sight of it earlier. “He doesn’t let anyone else see it, but he barely ever seems to stop looking at it.”

“I wonder why…” she asked, needing to consciously stop herself from closing the distance so she could see more clearly.

“It’s better not to know,” he replied with a shrug of his shoulders, turning around to return to his work.

“No,” Morta replied, still observing him with a shake of her head. “No, I don’t think it is.”

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