1152: A Shiny Vulcan Dress

by Rada Dengar
After The Detective

-=Deck Three, USS Serendipity=-

Arriving back at the quarters he shared with Wren and Tam, Rada found them to be unexpectedly quiet. There was no conversation, no sounds of music, nor even the tapping of fingers on a PADD.

He began to slowly walk from room to room, looking for where they could be. Each one after the other though he found them empty. Only upon finally returning to the entrance did he notice the note taped to the inside of the door.

Taking it down in his hand, he read it in silence.

Hi Rada,

We decided to spend a couple of hours in the arboretum. Should be back by sixteen hundred hours.

Love you.

~Wren and Tam

Rada smiled, slightly sadly. He’d been very near the arboretum just before and may even have passed them. Had he known, he’d have joined them. He knew Tam liked the place and that Wren knew it too. More than likely, she decided to take him there for that reason, and as a distraction from all that had happened with Arie recently. As of yet, of course, he had no way of knowing that she had already left the ship.

Had Rada known that, he wouldn’t have been so focused on his own introspection as he was in this moment.

Rada didn’t place the note down, instead carrying it with him as he moved over to the couch. At first he eased his weight down into the cushions. Then he shifted to the side, then back again, before finally letting himself fall slightly forward. It was not a comfortable position, but he was never particularly comfortable with those.

Repeatedly he recalled the detective’s words about how he should ‘ask the victim’ to uncover the sender of the book that rested upon the table before him.

He only wished it were that simple, and smiled a little at the concept.

“So, Rada,” he asked himself, “who was it that sent this book to you?”

“I really couldn’t tell you,” he answered. “Unfortunately I’m just as in the dark as you are.”

“My, that really is a pity. I was hoping at least one of us would know.”

He exhaled briefly in quiet amusement, as he accepted that things would never be so easy.

Realising he needed to think, he put the note down and stood up again, and began to walk the length of the room.

Unfortunately, sudden flashes of inspiration were no more forthcoming than they’d been on the entire way back here. Still, he concentrated all his attention and energy, on trying to force just one useful thought to arrive.

*It really is quiet here today.*

It wasn’t a particularly useful one, but it was a start.

“Computer. Play music.”

^Please specify selection.^

“Whatever was the most recently used file.”

The computer beeped in acknowledgement, before beginning to play the song at the most unnecessarily high volume.

“Computer. End Music.”

Thankfully, the computer complied. Rada wasn’t entirely certain whom on board would have been listening to that particular song, but he was certain it didn’t quite fit the mood.

He sighed. This wasn’t working.

“Come on Rada, you can do this. Why would someone want you to have the book?”

Once more, he answered himself.

“Well, it’s an Angosian book. Maybe someone there wants me to think of home.” He quickly shook his head. “No, then why this book? If it were family, they could have sent one I’d read as a child. So it’d have to be someone who didn’t know me then. But why would they want me to be homesick? It doesn’t make sense.”

He sighed again.

“Maybe they just wanted to make me insane. I mean I am talking to myself.”

Again he shook his head. “No, I’m pretty sure I was crazy enough already…”

He stopped walking again and huffed.

*This is ridiculous. Think…*

He took a few steps again.

*Think…think… think of words other than ‘think’.*

Unfortunately, he found he really couldn’t.

“Alright, let’s think of this logically. If it’s not family and presumably it’s not someone on board, who does that leave? I’m not exactly Mr. Social Life.”

His mind immediately went to the place it always did. “It must be an enemy. But why a book? How’s that going to kill me? Death by a thousand paper cuts?”

Even Rada considered that unlikely.

Of course the transporters would have detected any sort of deadly poison in the pages, and if not then his violent death would have been a giveaway. It was possible, he supposed, that he would have to be someone who'd lick his fingers when he was turning the pages to cause that. He’d never been such a person though, and he didn’t know why anyone would think he was. He certainly couldn’t make sense of the behaviour. He wondered if when their hands were dirty they licked the pages instead.

“Maybe you’re looking at this the wrong way.” He suggested to himself.

“Oh, and I suppose you have a better one?”

“No, but you do,” he replied, before growling slightly at himself that now it really was absurd.

Still, he did have a good point, though he would forgo the formality of both admitting it and stating it aloud:

A lot of other people had enemies.

There was the Captain; Salvek had surely made a few in the Romulan Empire, and it could even have been some indirect attack by an old female acquaintance of occasional visitor William Lindsay.

Thinking about it now, he was sure someone at least would more than simply want to kill Jamie Halliday.

Rada’s eyes suddenly opened wider as he considered that they could be trying to distract him, so he’d make a mistake and accidentally press the wrong button and destroy the ship.

His heart rate slowed though as he dismissed that as a possibility. It’d take him at least three buttons to do that. The probability of it happening within the next month was only something like 12.5%. On average he’d only kill them all one and a half times this year. The intricate genius behind this, who apparently felt they’d mastered his psychology, wouldn’t leave it to that much of a chance.

Unless that was what they wanted him to think.

“Okay, under characteristics of the victim, we can put ‘paranoid’.”

Unless that was what they wanted him to think…

He spun around and continued walking.

Perhaps he was overanalysing this. Then again, not overanalysing this meant taking it at face value and accepting that no one was trying to kill him. Obviously that was ridiculous. So in fact analysing it normally was underanalysing it and so he had to doubly overanalyse in order to do so correctly.

In all probability, therefore, he was in fact still underanalysing it considerably. Yet if considering a potential alien plot to destroy the ship as an act of final spiteful retribution against Jamie Halliday for over exposure of teeth was still just looking at the obvious, then the reality must be more wild and horrifying than he could possibly imagine.

It would have to be some sort of massive interstellar conspiracy; a thousand seemingly unrelated components all working as one; like gears in a clock so absurdly complicated that by the time you read its face, you're neither still interested in the time nor in fact still alive.

Perhaps it was about more than books. Maybe someone had sent Dwan Tubman a shiny bottle of Vulcan wine, or Sue Tenney a trendy new dress. Then maybe it was something less predictable.

If he discovered Dwan in a shiny Vulcan dress then he’d really know he was onto something, not to mention having a question or two to ask.

Getting a brief mental flash of the image he actually smiled, before scolding himself at being amused when the entire Federation could be at risk.

Still, based upon all the evidence he’d seen so far, he couldn’t believe Vulcan garments for friendly giants were likely. That he was sent something Angosian couldn’t be a coincidence. Maybe therefore, all players would be receiving something to remind them of their homeworld.

Salvek would be getting the Vulcan dress, Dabin Reece would be getting some extra spots, and perhaps Lair Kellyn would be receiving some sort of portable argument.

The only plausible reason for all of this that Rada could see though would be to inspire waves of patriotism about people’s homeworlds. That could get people arguing about which was best, much like with competing sporting teams. At first it’s a friendly rivalry, then it’s a traditional grudge match, and then it’s an all out war that tears the Federation to pieces.

No, he shook his head, obviously that reasoning was unreasonable. In that case, they wouldn’t have put Wren’s name on the book too…

He immediately began to consider the potential involvement of the Betazoid government, possibly in cooperation with a particularly shifty looking Ferengi who’d once held him at phaser point, when suddenly he stopped…and thought about what he was thinking.

Even he had to admit, it was slightly excessive…

He made himself turn around and settle back onto the couch again. Smiling again to himself as he thought of how easily he got carried away, he realised that he was never much good at seeing things the way they really were. The smile slowly disappeared though as he reached another realisation.

“You know what Rada?” he asked himself, sighing. “Frankly I don’t trust your opinion of me to be completely accurate.”

This time, he offered himself no reply. He knew he needed an outside perspective.

“Computer,” he said, “locate Lair Kellyn.”

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

1151: Operation Evergreen

by TC Blane, Dane Cristiane and Landry Steele
Stardate 110331.23
Following Mission :Improbable


"Something wrong with you, Cristiane?" TC Blane asked, as the trio of Starfleet officers--one willing and two much less so--trudged onward through the cold.

Dane simply grunted in reply.

"Let me rephrase the question." Blane narrowed his eyes. "Something more than usual?"

"No." Dane muttered, quickly adding a half-hearted, "...Sir." In fact, there was something more than usual wrong with him today: specifically the fact that he was not at all where he wanted or more importantly, felt he needed to be. His mind was far off, somewhere, and with someone, else.

"He hoped he'd be on a date about now." Landry explained, cramming her hands deeper into the pockets of her jacket and cursing herself internally for forgetting to replicate a pair of gloves.

"That so?" Blane's eyebrow elevated.

"Not really a date, Sir." Dane hurried to correct Landry's comment. "It's just..." he shrugged. "Never mind, Sir."

"Spill it."

Dane sighed. "This is the first Christmas Gira is going through without her brother. I. " He stopped.

Suddenly, Blane understood. "Say no more, kid." He quickened his pace; leaving the pair already struggling to keep up with his long strides even more challenged to keep up with him now. "I know you got drafted for this at the last minute and so let's try to get this over and done and then maybe you can catch up to her, wherever she is."

It was 'where she was' that worried Dane most, and he sped up to match Blane's increased speed. "Thank you, Sir."

After a moment, Dane looked around at his surroundings and his boots crunched slowly to a halt. They were in a location that he was unfamiliar with. His thoughts had been so distracted he did not even pay attention to the coordinates that Blane had given to the transporter chief as they stood on the pad only moments before.

“Excuse me, Sir but, where are we?” He sped up his pace again to close the distance with TC and Landry.

They had been walking up an uncleared path though what could only be described as insanely deep, pure white snow. Tall Evergreens flanked them on both sides. Sun shone though in sparkling beams but it was not overly bright, so Dane surmised it was had to be early evening. He glanced at his watch--a gift from Keiran O'Sullivan on his last birthday to "aid the perpetually late young Intern in the correct tellin' of the time," and it showed the time to actually be only a little past noon.

The path had been slowly climbing at a mild angle and now crested a hill. TC stopped and glanced down, following its path. His breath formed white clouds in the frigid air that seemed to last for an eternity before slowly fading away.

“Alaska. ” He pointed down the path at a picturesque scene. A frozen lake was in the distance with majestic white mountains beyond that. In the foreground of the lake sat a large log cabin with tall windows and a massive cobblestone chimney. The cabin sat partially tucked into the protection of the Evergreens.

“Um no offense Sir, but the O'Sullivans live in Ireland...” Dane pulled the hood up on his parka. The thought of being in Alaska on Christmas Eve when Gira was so far away making him colder then he already was.

TC started down the path towards the cabin. It led them down to the unplowed driveway where TC turned and headed towards the darkened cabin passing an ornate, handcrafted mailbox. Landry took note of the name.

“Blakeslee..." Her eyes brightened. "This is Commander Blakeslee’s house?” she half asked, half marveled as they walked past the house towards the garage in the back. TC nodded as they passed the garage and made their way into the grove of trees behind the house.

“Why are we here?” Dane glanced at the snow piled up at the back door of the cabin: solid evidence that no one had been at the cabin since at least the fall. “Nobody is home.”

TC stopped and surveyed the trees around him. “Very astute, Mr. Cristiane. Maybe it’s because they have been on the Sera for the last several months.” He lifted the dark sunglasses from his face, as they were now in the shade of the trees. “They will be back when the weather warms. Delta IV has a tropical climate, so Missus Blakeslee is not fond of the cold. Unlike her husband.”

"I always kn-n-n-nnew that woman was ss-s-s-s-smart." Landry shivered in the cold of the shade. “So why are we here?” she asked, between chattering teeth.

“To pick up a Christmas gift for the Captain and her husband. A parting gift from the Blakeslee’s.” He took a step forward and peered around a particularly thick Evergreen and smiled. “There it is.”

TC treaded though the snow with Landry and Dane following the path he blazed. He stopped and looked at a perfect specimen of a Blue Spruce. It easily stood ten feet and was perfectly full. Not a single gap was present: it would make a perfect Christmas tree.
Dane pointed to the base of the tree. “Someone’s been here.” Fresh tracks were in the snow at the base of the tree.

TC looked around and no tracks lead to the tree or away. He smiled as he approached it. “Someone with access to a transporter and first hand knowledge of the exact location of this tree.” He knelt in the snow to look at the base of the tree. There attached to the trunk was a brass plaque.

Dane approached the tree. “Commander Blakeslee,” he decided.

Ambassador Blakeslee.” TC corrected, and then he read aloud the inscribing on the brass.

“For those who fly with the stars
We must not forget the treasures of the Earth
Lest we misplace the Shepard of our soul.”

Enjoy our gift of Friendship and Love for many years to come and remember us fondly each year you decorate it.

Have a Merry Christmas, and many, many more

Zander, Samthia & Family

TC stood up and brushed the snow from his pants.

“So they are giving the tree as a gift?” Landry looked at it. “Wow, that’s nice but it’ll die in a few weeks once we cut it down.”

TC smiled at his two unknowing subordinates. “Who said anything about cutting it down?” He pointed to the shovels hanging on hooks on the back of the garage.

"Um...but..." Landry raised her hand in protest, drawing an imaginary circle around her face in the air before pointing squarely at her nose. "Does this look like it knows anything about transplanting trees?"

"Does this look like it cares?" TC asked, mirroring her gesture. "Come on, ya feather-weight. Remember who we're doing this for."

"Zanh Liis, Queen Of All Starfleet?" Landry grumbled, having adopted, somewhere along the line, Dane's old and not quite respectful nickname for their Captain.

"No." TC said, moving toward the shovels and grasping one in his hand. "We're doing this for Keiran."

Before Blane could say anything more in the way of admonition, he saw he didn't need to.

Out of respect and affection for the man in question, both young TI officers had taken the shovels and already started to dig.

TC nodded his approval and tapped his combadge. "Blane to Grace."

"Grace here," February answered, from high overhead aboard the Sera.

"How goes your part of Operation Evergreen?"

“Mission accomplished. Everything is ready and waiting. There are a half a dozen or so burly O'Sullivans standing by at the house with miles of lights, a smaller tree for inside, and a treasure trove of family ornaments." She sighed softly with contentment at the mental image the thought produced. "They are being commanded by one very little but incredibly determined young nun." Grace laughed. "I only wish I could see the look on Keiran's face when he sees it all."

"We'll be sure they take pictures," Blane promised. "Thanks for your help, you're a peach."

"Now now. You know I'm much more a strawberry marshmallow. Grace out."

Satisfied that everything was on track, TC grabbed the last shovel and dug in to help.

When the clearing away was done, Dane wiped sweat from his brow and, huffing plumes of warm breath into the clear Alaskan air, he made an observation then asked his superior officer a single, desperate question.

"It's a hell of a swim from Alaska to Ireland ...please tell me we get to use the transporters this time?"

TC reached into his pocket and pulled out a transporter transponder. “Well for me and the tree it’s off to the lovely Emerald Isle.” He smiled at Dane and Landry. “You two are welcome to join me or head back to the ship. Your choice. As you heard I have the practically the entire town of Cork to assist me with getting this set into the Irish soil. ” He reached through the branches and attached the transponder to the trunk.

He turned back to the two young officers and smiled his rare, toothy grin. “In any case, you two have a Merry Christmas.”

“You too, Sir. I’ll try to catch up to you later.” Dane replied.

The moment Blane and the tree disappeared, Dane turned to Landry.

“What about you?”

“Give my regards to the Queen…” Steele slugged Dane on the arm somewhat affectionately, but then her eyes clouded. She reached up and tugged at a chain hanging around her neck, though Dane could not see what exactly was hanging from it as she concluded, “I’ve already got other plans.”

Commander TC Blane
Second Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

Ensign Dane Cristiane
Temporal Investigations Intern
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Ensign Landry Steele
Temporal Investigations Agent
Serving aboard the USS Serendipity NCC-2012