450: Not So Friendly

by LT SG Rada Dengar
Concurrent with A Visitor

-= A Busy Street, Betazed=-

Rada’s current goal was to remain as still as possible in the hope that he may be able to convince the local population that he was, in fact, a statue.

He could feel them all around him probing into his mind; everywhere he looked was another Betazoid struggling to penetrate his mental defences. The nice ones were so uncomfortable as to quickly run away. A small crowd had however begun to surround him and appeared to be studying him as a genuine curiosity, tilting their heads from side to side and stroking their beards if they had them, they appeared to be having some kind of telepathic debate about Rada’s possible origins.

A particularly stout man appeared to be describing to all around a procedure which would allow a Ferengi to be made to look like a Terran; this seemed to be his explanation for why they found Rada’s thoughts and emotions to be constantly slipping away from them. Rada was glad that he had never gone to this man for reconstructive surgery because if he was correctly interpreting what was from his point of view a mime act then the only medical tools this man thought he’d need were a hammer, a chisel and a roll of duct tape.

The others seemed to be dismissing these thoughts on the grounds that this was not what reading a Ferengi was like. Rada would have pointed out that he was Angosian but he was sure that that would just throw more confusion into the mix. For now they seemed to be content to just stand around him. Rada had tried several times to excuse himself and to move away but whenever he did the crowd would move with him.

He’d actually had a nightmare almost exactly like this once; the only difference was that that time the crowd was smaller. Realising that no one was going to believe his statue act he returned to darting his eyes around everywhere in search of a familiar face, occasionally his eyes would briefly meet those of one of his observers and they didn’t even flinch, there were few things more painfully uncomfortable in this galaxy for Rada.

*Where are they?* he kept asking himself, the swarm of Betazoids showed no response so he could at least be thankful that he was still in some degree of control.

The communiqué had requested him to be at this exact spot at this exact time to meet ‘an old friend’. They didn’t leave their name but the use of his old academy nickname was enough to convince him that he somehow knew them. If this really was someone who knew him then he had to assume that making him stand in the middle of what must have been one of Betazed’s busiest streets was their idea of a joke. He wasn’t sure he knew anyone with this cruel a sense of humour.

“Hey Red!” came the call and Rada breathed a visible sigh of relief that he could be getting out of here soon. He turned to see who was calling him. The crowd blocked his view of the man and Rada didn’t recognise his voice. Rada observed some strange looks on the faces around him and then almost instantly they began to leave. Rada couldn’t help but notice that they seemed worried.

The man’s face was now revealed to Rada, he seemed familiar but Rada didn’t remember from where. The iris' of his eyes clearly indicated his Betazoid ancestry but his skin seemed unusually tanned. He was certainly not a large man at almost a foot shorter than Rada but he displayed the confidence of a man who felt he could control any situation. He had a large welcoming smile on his face and his arms were extended in a gesture indicating he expected a hug. He was a young man, roughly Rada’s age which would make perfect sense if they’d attended the Academy together. Rada still didn’t recognise him, though.

Rada didn’t think he would forget this man. He wore felt hat with a white band around the base and a navy double-breasted suit with two parallel columns of buttons on the coat. These buttons were something that Rada did recognise; they were each made of different rare elements notable for their distinct colouring and the fact that none of them could be replicated.

The clashing of different colours did nothing to improve the appearance of the suit but were a clear and ostentations indicator that this man had a lot of money; far too much to have been made whilst serving a career in Starfleet.

“Red!” the man yelled again cheerfully, Rada noticed his speech was slightly impeded “Come here you old bastard and give your friend a hug!”

Before Rada could object the man had his arms around him and was hitting him harshly on his back. Then he span around to beside Rada, all the time keeping one arm on his shoulder.

“How’ve you been? How’s life on a Starship treating you? They feeding you well?” the man fired question after question without ever pausing long enough to allow an answer. His eyes were shifting rapidly around the emptying street for some reason.

“I…” Rada began as he tried to bring up as gently as possible that he couldn’t remember this man’s name and hope that when he heard it he’d remember the man himself. Unfortunately he didn’t get a chance. As soon as the immediate area was cleared Rada felt something pushing in his back and the man began to whisper in his right ear.

“Listen very carefully; I currently have a Type-II hand phaser set to kill positioned directly behind your pulmonary organ. If you don’t do exactly as I say then I will not hesitate to turn you into a pile of ash. Do you understand?”

Rada nodded that he did and began to put his hands up. Typically he’d consider this to be the perfect time to take on another role and to ‘calmly’ talk his way to safety. A perfect strategy if not for the fact that this man clearly knew him and was unlikely to fall for the reliably old tactic.

“Don’t do that!” the man viciously spat and Rada returned his hands to his side.

“Good,” said the man through a forced smile. “As far as anyone watching is concerned we’re just a couple of old friends.”

LT. SG Rada Dengar
Chief Engineering Officer
USS Alchemy NX 53099

449: Command Performance

by -=/\=-Zanh Liis
Following The Favor

-=Soundtrack: So Close, by Jon McLaughlin=-


-=The Inn at Lake Cataria, Betazed=-

Once Lair was gone, Liis found that she and Jariel were alone together for the first time since their emotional exchange earlier in the day.

They stood in the opulent lobby, listening as a soft melody wended its way through the space, emanating from the lounge around the corner and reverberating into the atrium above. A live musician was deftly playing the keyboard of a musical instrument, and singing along.

Jariel reached for Liis' hand, and as the moment came for them to go back to their suite together, she panicked.

Her heart began to race, her hands started to shake and she bolted past him, through the lobby. Finally she pushed her way through a set of elaborate glass doors, ending up out on a grand, lantern lit veranda.

There were small flowering trees, enormous floral arrangements, and chairs and tables scattered artfully all along the space. It overlooked the opposite side of the property, away from Lake Cataria, off toward the mountainous rock faces which were bejeweled with versina- a colorful mineral that refracted the light of the sun, and the moon, and shone brilliant colors upon the landscape and all it contained.

Jariel thought about letting her go, leaving her to get some air alone and turned back toward the hallway leading to their room. He was tired, it had been a long day...

...then he stopped.

He remembered what she had told him about what could happen if she had too much time and space, especially right now. So even as tired as he was, he went after her.

He gently opened the doors, and found her sitting in a large gliding rocker, literally gasping for air.

He pulled up a small wrought iron chair that was nearby and sat in it beside her as she stared blankly straight ahead off into the distance.

Once again, he found himself lifting his hands to sign, instead of opening his mouth to speak. He sighed, then cleared his throat softly. "Liis."

Part of her wanted him to just go away- to do what he had always done at times like this and leave her alone. Another part of her knew that was not healthy, for either of them.

"How was my performance tonight?" She asked at last, her voice low and rasping.


"Yes. Performance. Was I the consummate, light-hearted dinner party guest?"

"You were charming..." She had been charming, and looked lovely in the off-shoulder, cordovan colored dress she'd chosen for the evening.

"So I managed to hide, for the most part anyway, that something was wrong?" If they'd picked up on anything, her telepathic hosts had been far too polite to indicate it.

Jariel himself hadn't realized there was anything 'wrong ' with her tonight, aside from all that was already weighing upon her.

"Liis, what is going on?" He was perplexed. He thought they'd come to an understanding...that at least things were going in the right direction. "What happened when you got back to the Alchemy?" He sat straighter in his chair, "Did Hubbard,"

"Hubbard just did his job. With a vengeance, maybe, but he was just doing what he needed to do. That's not what," she paused, and once again came close to hyperventilating. She leaned forward, head in her hands, and rocked faster in her chair.

Gently, Jariel pried her hands away from her face, leaning down so that he could look up into her downcast eyes. She stopped rocking, accepting his hands as he grasped hers in an attempt to stop them from shaking.

"When I got back, I found Dane in my quarters."

"What in the worlds was he doing there?"

"That's what I wanted to know. So after I nearly shot him thinking an intruder had boarded the ship somehow, I asked him." She stopped, realizing she'd left a key part of the story out, and knowing she had to tell him the whole thing, from the beginning.

"But wait. First, there's something I have to tell you." She looked down at his hands, still holding hers tightly. "He wrote me a letter, Jariel. Before he left the Serendipity. Before he knew I remembered him." Again, she did not need to specify who 'he' was- Jariel knew who she meant.

His first reaction was to release her hands as his face flushed with color. Jealousy was his default emotion whenever O'Sullivan was mentioned. As much as he'd tried to change that, the emotion was there, and it was what it was.

He quickly reminded himself that no matter what the letter had said, no matter what Liis had remembered, that she was still here with him, and not on Earth with anyone else.

That was all that mattered.

"Go on," he entreated her softly, reaching out to take hold of her hands again once the initial shock subsided.

"I just came into possession of this letter. Right before we reached Betazed," she continued. "I didn't plan on keeping it long, but I was just...shocked, I guess, that he'd even written it as well as by what he wrote." Her eyes questioned if he wanted to know what the letter contained, but Jariel quickly shook his head.

"Do you love me, Zanh Liis?"

Liis blinked, surprised he should ask the question again so soon after having asked her before. "Yes."

"Then that is all I need, or want to know." His meaning was clear- no matter what O'Sullivan had written, some things were better left alone. "So, you left the letter on the Alchemy."

"Yes, locked up. But Cristiane, he," she couldn't believe she was about to say -what she was trying to say. "He broke into my quarters, and I found him reading it."

"But why would he do such a thing?"

"On behalf of someone who felt they had a vested interest in whether or not I remember that life."

Jariel felt his blood begin to boil. *Vox...* he thought angrily. "Did you toss Dane in the brig? You're going to throw the book at him, right?"

Liis sighed, standing and walking several paces away. She gazed at the starlight reflecting off of the versina, and wondered how it was at all possible for one to feel so sad in a place so beautiful.

"No, Jariel. I didn't." She turned back to look at him, "I'm not."

He rushed up to her, holding her at arms length. "Liis, you can't let him get away with this," It took a lot to make Jariel angry, but after all Liis had done for Dane he just wanted to throttle the kid for hurting her. "If he tells Vox that you remember,"

"He's not going to have the chance to. I'm going to do it myself." Liis gazed into the heavens again, trying to count the stars to calm herself but finding there were far too many shining tonight to accomplish the task. "As soon as we get back, I'm going to tell him."

"Are you sure you should? Maybe there's another way."

"No. This is the only way."

"What did you do with Cristiane?"

"I told him to get the hell off of my ship. I told him to find his own way back to Earth and then once we also got there, if Vox hadn't strangled him for losing the only evidence to prove that I remember, then he can come and talk to me again."

"Lost it?" Camen was puzzled. "The letter?"

"I set it on fire."

Jariel felt conflicting emotions now. Part of him was sorry that she'd lost it, but if he was being honest even with himself only, he had to admit that part of him was very glad that letter was gone. "I'm sorry."

"No," she replied slowly, gauging his emotions quickly and correctly. "You're not. It's all right, I didn't expect you to be."

"So," Jariel asked, shrugging. "What happens now?"

"Now, I put the mask back on and finish my epic theatrical run here on lovely Betazed," Liis replied, holding her arms up hopelessly. "I'm glad that Arie will be with me tomorrow. She's the center of attention in any situation she enters into, just because of her very nature. I will be glad to have the spotlight on her and I can just watch quietly from the wings. Then I just have to get through the wedding, and then it's over."

"And when we get back?"

"What happens, happens."

Jariel was uncertain what sort of penalty that TI might impose on Liis if they could prove that she'd purposely withheld such sensitive information. But he knew that whatever official punishment could be levied, if any, the true cost would be to her soul, and to what little remained of her troubled relationship with Jonas Vox.

Music continued to fill the air, piped in through overhead speakers from the lounge. Jariel moved closer to Liis, and put his arms around her, offering an embrace. Liis closed her eyes, and rested her head on his shoulder. Before she knew it, she began first rocking her weight from foot to foot as they held each other.

She stepped backward one step, and instinctively Jariel stepped forward. Then they moved in the reverse direction.

It took the first verse and chorus of the song before he realized what was happening.

They were dancing.

Jariel was floored.

In all the years, all the lifetimes he had seen through the Orbs or experienced with her in this timeline, he had never seen Zanh Liis dance, let alone danced with her.

Her eyes were closed tightly as they swayed to the music, and he wondered if she was even aware of what was going on.

As his mind processed the lyrics of the song Jariel stopped moving, for just an instant. Liis bumped into his chest as she stepped forward, her foot planting squarely down on top of his toes.

"I'm sorry, I," She opened her eyes and looked up, her face glowing with embarrassment. "What just,"

"We were dancing," Jariel whispered with awe.

"No we weren't," she declared resolutely, stepping back and beginning to wring her hands. "I...I don't dance."

She spun and pushed her way back through the doors, leaving him standing alone on the veranda, watching the starlight reflect off the versina in the distance.

-=Room 619=-

Zanh Liis stood, numb and trembling, beneath the stream of scalding water from the shower.

The liquid rained down over her, running from her head to her feet as she struggled to release her fears.

Perhaps if she could, they'd wash away along with it.

She sank into the tub, the water continuing to fall until her skin was red, throbbed from the heat, and wrinkled from the moisture. Finally she donned the soft white robe that the Inn had provided and moved into the bedroom of the suite.

As long as she had been locked up tight in the bathroom, Jariel had still patiently waited up for her. He had removed only his shoes and his shirt and was now laying atop the freshly turned down bed, blankets beneath him.

Without a word, he opened his arms to her. Liis quickly and gratefully settled into them, soon falling fast asleep against his chest to the soothing sound of his heartbeat.

-=/\=-Zanh Liis
USS Serendipity NCC 2012

448: Don't Let the Door Hit You

by TC Blane and Dane Cristiane
After Legal Advice (in and around, where it fits)

-=USS Alchemy=-

TC walked Dane back to the conference room where his bag was stowed.

“Gather up you stuff and get off of this ship.” TC barked. “I’ll verify that order with the Captain in short order, but from what I know now I am almost certain that she’ll confirm it.”

He looked at Dane with obvious disappointment. That in itself was a stinging reality to the young man of the seriousness of his choice to aid Vox. Blane’s face never showed emotion except in the most extreme of situations. Then in a flash it was gone, his façade returning to its normal visage.

"Yes, Sir."

TC tapped his badge. “Security to the conference room.” He commanded.

It only took a moment for one of the few security officers left on the Alchemy to arrive.

“Sir?” The man asked, confused by the lack of an obvious hostile in the room.

TC continued to glare at Dane. “Escort the ensign here directly to the transporter room. He is not to stop anywhere en route.” He turned on his heel and left the room and headed back to the bridge.

Moments later Dane materialized on the surface, and knew immediately what he had to do.

He had screwed up, bigtime, and his only hope now was to wait around,choose the opportune moment, and try to throw himself on the mercy of Zanh Liis.

He knew that as angry as she had been, if he had a prayer of getting out of this with any sort of Starfleet future intact, he had to begin again where he'd started; at the bottom and with nothing left to lose.

He headed straight for the campus of the University of Betazed.

He had a paper to write.

-= Alchemy Bridge =-

TC strode onto the bridge and looked around to make sure all was in order before plopping into the center chair.

“Sanchez.” Blane barked to the half asleep helm officer.

“Sir!” Sanchez replied as she half leaped out of the chair.

“Revoke all access to both the Alchemy and Sera from Ensign Dane Christane effective immediately. He is not to come back onboard either vessel, unless he has orders from someone higher up on the food chain than me to do so. Understood?”

Sanchez nodded. “Understood.” Then she set about carrying out her orders.

TC hopped up from the center seat and made his way to the lift. “You have the bridge.” He called out over his shoulder as he stepped onto the lift.

-= Betazed =-

TC materialized in the lobby of the hotel where the Captain was supposed to be staying. He shifted uncomfortably, as he felt as if everyone was listening to his thoughts. It was an idea that he hated.

With a sigh he tapped his badge. “Blane to Zanh. Can you please meet me in the lobby?” He forwent the use of titles because of the civilian atmosphere and the fact that the Captain was technically on leave.

[Be right there.]

Zanh appeared a moment later. "Thomas," She paused, confused as to why he'd come here. She then realized suddenly that in her daze, she had left the Alchemy having made a vital error. She had neglected to inform Blane that Dane would be leaving. "I owe you an apology. I can only tell you that I'm not myself right now, you know I never would have intentionally kept you from knowing that I sent the kid home."

TC nodded but stepped in closer. “I understand. Dane told me what I am sure is everything.” Displeasure at the situation was etched slightly on his face. “I’m sorry, Captain. I should have caught this before it happened.”

"It was my own damned fault. I never should have kept it after I read it. Not even for a day. I just didn't want to," she paused, looking at her feet. "I wasn't ready to let it go yet, and that was stupid. But what's done is done, and when we get back, Thomas, you need to know the very first thing I'm going to do is have a conversation with Jonas Vox that may very well change not only the permanent chain of command of the Sera but the course of the rest of my life."

TC sighed. “Vox.” TC spat the name with an anger that startled the captain. “The man is a waste of good carbon.” He paused, "Do not do anything foolish, Captain. Vox has proven that he cannot be trusted.” He folded his arms across his chest. “I swear if I ever meet him in a dark alley I will not be responsible for my actions.”

Liis could only shrug. "He's the boss."

“What can I do to help?” TC asked suddenly.

"Keep a very watchful eye on our new friend Landry Steele," Zanh replied softly. "She was sent to join us as an 'intern' at Vox' behest just before we departed Earth. He knew that I'd be so fixed on watching her that I'd likely miss what Dane was trying to do. Sadly, he was right. Now that Dane has been caught in the act of spying on me, she may step up her own efforts to do whatever Vox has instructed her to do while on board the Alchemy. She is very young, Thomas, and likely an innocent pawn in this. But even as young as she is, we can't have anyone digging into our business any further- at least not until I talk to Vox. I can't relieve her of duty without cause. Her orders are iron clad and from the Admiral himself. But we sure as hell can make sure she's so busy, she has no time to wonder what I had for breakfast let alone delve any deeper into my personal affairs."

TC nodded. “Aye, Sir, will do.”

He looked at her again, his face softening. “Are you going to be ok?” He asked in a seldom seen and even more rarely heard moment of gentle concern. “I know things have been tough between Avery, O’Sullivan, and now Dane.”

*And Jariel,* Liis thought to herself, stopping before she spoke the words aloud.

"One foot in front of the other, that's what I keep telling myself," Liis mumbled, looking at the floor. "That's all I can do. Knowing that you're keeping an eye on everything," *Myself included...* she thought, "...helps. Thank you, Thomas."

Commander TC Blane
Second Officer
USS Serendipity/Alchemy


Dane Cristiane
USS Serendipity/Alchemy

447: Legal Advice

by TC Blane and Zander Blakeslee
Following Wish You Were Here

Zander materialized on the small transporter pad back on the Alchemy. He expected to be greeted by Commander Blane but the ship's second officer was nowhere to be found in the cramped room. The only other soul in the room was the transporter chief.

Zander stepped off the pad and looked at the chief questioningly.

"Commander Blane said he would meet you in the captain’s ready room." The chief explained.

Zander nodded. "OK, thanks chief."

He turned and started to leave then paused and glanced back at the chief. "You wouldn't happen to know what I am walking into, would you?" He asked.

The chief smiled and shook his head in the negative. "No sir, and I'm glad for that because it seems like a real nightmare."

Zander sighed as he once again turned to leave. "Great." He stepped out of the door.

“Thanks again.”

= Ready Room =

Zander walked into the ready room to find Commander Blane seated behind the Captain's desk with a less then pleased look on his face and a very dejected looking Ensign Christian seated on the small couch.

"What can I do for you Commander?" Zander asked as he slowly walked into the room. He looked at Dane who continued to stare at the floor.

TC glared up at Zander. "It seems that we have had a breach of security." He paused. "I think."

Zander frowned. "I don't understand."

TC leaned forward. "I guess I'll start this with a question. Can a high ranking officer order someone to breach security protocols, invade personal space of another ranking officer without notifying the first officer, second officer, or chief of security for any reason?"

Zander thought for a moment. "Not without probable cause of a crime. You need to have a reason to circumvent the command structure and the security of a ship at space. You would have to prove that all of the command staff was either a security risk or incapacitated in some way. Even then you would at least have to let the CMO know. In short they would have to let someone know what was going on." Zander rubbed his chin. "If they thought there was a possible security breach or something like that they still would need to communicate it with me, even if they wanted to bypass the local command structure.

"It is setup like this to protect individual rights. They are always in place regardless of whatever group or security clearance someone might have. In fact according to Federation law they trump command authority." He added.

TC slowly stood up. "So, in short, even if someone is accused of a crime or is thought to be a security risk even an admiral could not breach protocol to invade personal files or space?"

Zander nodded aggressively. "That is correct. Not legally."

TC sighed. "OK then."

Zander glanced at Dane then back to TC again. "Can I know what this is about?"

TC thought for a moment. "I'll have to consult with the Captain. But your advice has been paramount." TC smiled. "Sorry to pull you away. I'll handle this from here."

Zander waved his hand. "Not at all. I'm at your disposal." He turned to leave but paused at the door. "I hope to see you on the surface for a little bit Commander, at least for the wedding."

TC nodded. "I'll be there for the wedding."

Zander nodded and walked out the door and headed back to the transporter room.

TC sat back down at the desk and glowered at Dane.

"I do not know what you think you found out about the Captain, if she remembers anything or not." TC already knew the answer but he was not going to let Dane know that because he could not be trusted. That much was certain.

The Captain had already confided in him that she did indeed remember, and TC had been the one to give her the letter that O'Sullivan had left with him.

"I'll tell you what you found out. Nothing. You saw nothing, you know nothing." He glared at Dane. "You were caught before you were able to find anything out."

"We understand each other?" He asked.

Dane quickly nodded understanding that Blane was giving him an excuse to avoid being filleted by Vox. The problem was he did not know why. It did not matter to him much, though, because Blane was probably going to bring him up on charges anyway...

Commander TC Blane
Second Officer
USS Serendipity/Alchemy


Lt. Commander Zander Blakeslee
Chief of Security/Tactical
USS Serendipity/Alchemy

446: Wish You Were Here

By Zander Blakeslee

Concurrent with The Visitor

-=Suite of Zander Blakeslee, Inn at Lake Cataria=-

Zander had sat quietly at the table and watched the interaction of the ships crew and the ships counselors’ family with interest. He had been enjoying his stay on planet but had not been looking forward to this dinner. It simply was not the same without his family with him.

He had wanted to come to Betazed ever since he had gained his empathic abilities on Delta IV. Of course he knew that limited empathic skills were far removed from the highly developed telepathic abilities of the Betazoids, still he wondered if being among the populace would help him master his abilities.

The past few years Zander had learned how to cope with the waves of feelings that he was bombarded with from those around him. He had learned to ignore them most of the time and was working on matching certain single emotions from several individuals in a crowd.

He missed his wife. His kids. He had looked around at the lush gardens and landscape. They would have loved seeing it all. Of course his boys would have most likely destroyed it, but they would have had fun doing so.

Suddenly his interest in the dinner party had waned and he simply wanted to go back to his room and talk to his family. First opportunity he got, that was just what he did.


"You should see this room they gave me." Zander exclaimed to his wife. "I mean the view is great, so is the decor."

[Well you are the Chief of Security and Tactical now.] Samthia exclaimed with a smile. [They were not going to stick you in the basement.]

Zander smiled. "Yeah, I guess not." He winked. "If you were here it would be perfect." Samthia smiled in response but did not reply. She knew a response was not needed.

"How are the kids? Behaving I hope." He asked.

She nodded in the affirmative. [Yes. Also becoming quiet spoiled.]

Zander laughed. "Well I think that is in the grandmother's charter. Heck why not, they can get then all sugared up and simply hand them back to us." He laughed again. "It is the ultimate parent's revenge on their kids."

[So…will you be attending the wedding in traditional fashion?] She wife asked with a smile.

Zander laughed. “Yes I will. Why, jealous?”

[Of course. Because I will not be there to see.]

Zander laughed again. “That is probably for the best. A nude Deltan could cause things to get out of hand.” Suddenly Zander’s combadge chirped.

“Damn, I have to go.” He explained.

[I adore you, my One.] Samthia responded.

“Love you too. I’ll call tomorrow.”

The screen went blank just as his combadge chirped again. He tapped the badge.

“Blakeslee here.”

[Sorry to bother you on your down time Zander. But I think we have a security issue that I need your input on.] Came the unmistakable, monotone voice of TC Blane.

“Security issue?” Zander frowned. “Is everything alright?”

[Yes. But this is something the security chief should be aware of. I’ll beam you aboard, if you are ready. I promise I’ll have you back before the wedding starts.]

Zander stood up and walked to the center of the room. “I’m ready whenever you are sir.”

[See you in a few. Blane out.]

Zander stood waiting for the transporter to grab a hold of him. He wondered what kind of security issue would prompt the ship’s second officer, especially a officer like commander Blane, to pull him back to the ship.

Suddenly he felt the pull of the beam, it seemed as if he was about to find out.

Lt. Commander Zander Blakeslee
Chief of Security/Tactical
USS Alchemy NX 53099

445: The Favor

by Lair Kellyn
Concurrent with A Visitor

-=The Inn at Lake Cataria, Betazed=-

Salvek, Kellyn, Jariel and Liis had walked back from the Tryst home to the Inn at a leisurely pace.

Jariel and Kellyn chatted softly as they strolled a few paces ahead. Liis fell into step behind Salvek, watching him as he carried Arie effortlessly and gently, holding her over his shoulder as tenderly as if she were still an infant.

Liis remembered how nervous Salvek had been about holding Arie when she was an infant- even though he would not admit to it then.

*Had that really been nearly a decade of linear time ago? Where had the days gone?*

He'd taken to fatherhood easily, it seemed, though Liis was well aware of the fact that the mark of a truly talented person was to make the impossible look effortless.

Arie inhaled deeply, sighing in her sleep. She had been so exhausted from swimming all afternoon that had conked out during the dessert course; her head resting against the armrest of her large chair at the table.

This was something that Salvek was certain would horrify his daughter later, as proper a young lady as she was. As it had happened, though, every single person present at the Trysts' that evening had found the event, and the girl, to be utterly adorable.

As she watched Salvek gently shepherd his daughter to their home for the night, Liis marveled.

She had always felt ill at ease around children.

She had contemplated this at many points during her life, and the only explanation she had come to was that she had spent so much time caring for the younger children at the home while she was still just a girl trying to grow up herself, perhaps she felt she'd done her stint of motherhood already. During her youth.

Still, she had a soft spot for Lair Arie. Not only was the child a perfect combination of her two parents but she was a wholly unique individual in her own right; with astonishing quirks and a brightness of intellect that Liis had never seen the likes of, in any other child she'd ever met.

It was no wonder that History had claimed Arie for its own from the start. This child was destined for great things.

As they reached the Inn proper, the two couples prepared to part company. Liis signed a silent goodnight to Salvek, and the Vulcan nodded to her and then to Jariel before moving off down the corridor.

It was then that Lair Kellyn approached Zanh Liis.

"Captain, if I might trouble you a moment, could I ask a favor?"

Now she had Liis' full attention. In all the years she'd known Lair, she couldn't ever remember a time that the woman had ever asked her for any sort of favor outright.

"Of course. What can I do for you?"

"Well, you know Salvek and I are celebrating our eleventh wedding anniversary in a couple of weeks. Who knows where we'll be, or what kind of trouble we'll be in by then. But some kind of trouble is likely."

"Highly likely," Liis concurred, considering the nature of their work.

"So, knowing that it is likely, I made plans for tomorrow for Salvek and I, and had arranged for Jariel to watch Arie for us. But he just told me that he's been called back to the ship by the new CMO...something about a medical work up,"

*Damn. Sorry, Jariel,* Liis thought, realizing that her comments to the good doctor during her visit earlier today about how Jariel had suffered during the Sylph encounter were more likely than not the very reason Hubbard wanted to poke at the man.

"I tried Reece and Grace first, but they have a prior commitment of some sort..." Kellyn bit her lip, amazed that after all these years she could stare down anything from a raging bar brawl to a breaching Warp core to Death itself but still found talking to Zanh Liis intimidating.

"Salvek didn't want to ask you, but I thought that it couldn't hurt to try," Kellyn added, "If you could possibly keep Arie for the day, we could pick her up by nineteen hundred..."

"How about this," Liis offered, considering that for once, her schedule was in fact the most open of anyone on the crew present. "Drop her off tomorrow morning around eight, and I'll keep her overnight, then I can either bring her to the wedding or,"

"Oh, we decided it best that Arie not attend the wedding..." Kellyn explained, eyes widening. "Salvek feels that,"

"Say no more." Liis was sure that the dress code, or lack thereof was just a bit more than Salvek's paternal tolerance could adjust to with Arie being as young as she was.

"If you keep her overnight, the day of the wedding Ensign Steele is expecting Arie back aboard the Alchemy...she's going to watch her for the day."

"I can see to it that Arie gets to Steele, of course." Knowing who had signed the order that put the new ensign aboard her ship, though, Zanh felt uneasy about the idea of Landry Steele having Lair Arie to herself.

She made a mental note to tell Steele in no uncertain terms that she was not to speak to the child about anything related to anything to do with time lines, past or future history, or her parent's work. She was to restrict her conversation to entertainment topics, the weather, and perhaps a game of Kadis-kot.

"Oh," Kellyn held her hands together hopefully, disbelieving that Zanh had actually agreed. "Zanh Liis, you can't know what this means to me, I," Kellyn paused, glancing over at Jariel, who winked at her reassuringly.

Lair gestured for them to come closer, and, making sure that Salvek had not returned from their room to find her, whispered to them about just what she had planned.

"That's lovely, Kellyn." Jariel nodded in approval.

"I can't thank you enough," Kellyn retreated now, wanting to remove herself from the discussion before Zanh had the chance to change her mind. "I'll feed Arie breakfast before dropping her off. Thank you again, Captain. Goodnight."

Commander Lair Kellyn
Director of Engineering Research and Development
The Alchemy Project

and more importantly...

Proud to be half of what may very well be
the longest running marriage between
the same two characters in Trek RPG history
(Celebrating 11 years this August)

444: A Visitor

by Vol Tryst
Awhile after Food for Thought
-=Soundtrack: Everything by Lifehouse=-

-=The Tryst Residence, Betazed=-

The evening had been a great success, and everyone appeared to have a good time.

The Serendipity crew had departed, and Vol had taken note that each of them seemed to be taking this vacation seriously. All of them were affected by the beauty of his home planet, and all seemed to be taking joy in the smaller things in life. Things, and people, which were at times taken for granted aboard a starship.

Vol, Dana, Siter and Orynn all now stood on one of the house’s many balconies.

This one had a view of the entire lake, and as the tangerine sun melted into a strawberry hue, the colors were reflected on the lake’s surface. The combination bathed the area in a deep orange, one that Vol hoped all at the Inn were enjoying as well.

Each of the old friends were touching the others. Some had arms draped over another’s shoulder, and some held hands. It wasn’t an uncommon sighting for Betazoids to be affectionate in this way, but it had become a rarity for these four. Vol being away with Starfleet, and the art world being a demanding one, it was a rare moment indeed for these four to be together again, just watching the sunset as they used to.

*We’d better get going.* The four ceased to speak with their own voices since they were left alone, the sounds of their minds were all they needed now. So Dana’s regretful tone was felt by all. *I still have a lot to do before the wedding.* She squeezed Vol’s hand as she thought this.

*Just a moment longer.* Siter said, and no one objected. Each of them knew time would not soon allow for this moment to come again.

Eventually, Dana and Orynn said their goodbyes and the four were separated once more. Siter went down to help Mr. Noon and his mother with any cleaning up that needed to be done, leaving Vol on his own. The hybrid man just stared blankly into the multi-colored yawning sky.

*It will only be a couple of days now before I make true the vows I made so many years ago. Vows which were made with my brother, but that he broke when the time came. I hated him for that, because I knew it would mean that this day would come. When I would have to face the same decision…*

Vol stopped short his interior monologue when he felt the presence of another behind him. The being approached him, and warm arms enclosed around his waist; a chin rested on Vol’s shoulder.

*Are you sure you will go through with this?* Vol could hear the thoughts of the all too familiar presence in his mind.

*It is what’s best for the family.* There was a pause. There was no arguing the reality of situation. What Vol said was true, and so he was met with no argument for a while.

*What happened to getting married for love?*

*I do love--*

*Counselor.* Vol’s thought was cut short. The hands that were around his waist urged him to spin around slowly, so that the they could look into each other’s eyes. *You know what I mean.*

Vol inhaled deeply, as he felt his heart beat quicken and his breath became shallow as memories from before he joined Starfleet slowly begun to resurface. He brought a hand up to his visitor's face, letting his fingers scratch the surface of their soft pale skin.

*I have missed you, Imzadi.*

*And I you.* Vol felt defeated, even before he answered the following question.

*Can't we be together? Just once before you…*

*I’m sorry.* Vol apologized as he let his head fall forward to rest on the temple of his Imzadi. His arms wrapped around their shoulders, to pull them in into a deep hug, and the individual returned the embrace by pressing their bodies closer. Vol was then reminded that beginnings were only born from endings, and this was one ending he wished he could prevent.

Ensign Vol Tryst
Ship's Counselor
USS Serendipity/Alchemy

443: Food for Thought

by Commander Salvek
After Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

-=The Tryst Residence, Betazed=-

Salvek placed a gentle hand on Arie's shoulder, as Kellyn talked of the importance of family. He then looked to his right at the Captain. He could tell her mind was engaged with curiosity over this Betazoid Duel that Siter had proposed.

She had a gleam in her eye that Salvek was encouraged to see, and the Vedek as well looked as if the blade that had been implanted in his gut for days had finally been removed. She felt his gaze and looked back at him. Her expression seemed to say "Can I help you?"

Salvek merely nodded respectfully. She signed back at him with her hands close to the table where only he could see.

[[I understand.]]

"Salvek, your people are highly artistic. I've always been curious about Vulcan art. I have not had the chance to see many pieces." Orynn prodded.

"Unfortunately I chose a path in the sciences, my exposure to the arts has been minimal. My prerequisite studies did include several of the masters. Surely your vast University Archive’s computer interface can provide you with images."

"It's not the same." Orynn continued. "We Betazoids are a very tangible people. A photograph of a work of art is not as personal as the actual work of art itself."

"Have you ever considered a trip to Vulcan? Our museums are vast and could easily occupy you for months, if not years."

"I suppose that's not a bad suggestion. Can you tell me what you remember of the class you took?"

"I can tell you every detail." Salvek said flatly. "Vulcan art is dominated by images of rural landscapes and empty urban areas. Serenity is the key and our art is therefore often times an integral part of our meditation."

The Tryst and Mazen families both listened intently as Salvek continued. "Obviously it was not always that was on my world. Before the philosophy of logic was instilled in our people, the images were much more graphic and violent."

For the sake of the child at the table Salvek spared any further details on the matter.

"We do of course keep these works of art on display as well. There are those that believe they should be destroyed, but most believe the best way to embrace logic is to remember the destructive qualities that the lack of logic brought to Vulcan."

"It must give you great peace to be in complete control of your emotions." Siter noted. He sensed an immediate change in Salvek, as if that observation were a little too personal for the Vulcan's taste. "I meant no offense."

Salvek took a fork full of his meal before continuing on.

"None taken. In answer to your question, the level of emotional control I choose to exert does bring me great peace, as you surmised." Salvek left the matter open ended, figuring he had given them enough information. He felt no shame in discussing the matter further; it was simply none of their business where he did or did not control his emotions.

"And you are a research engineer, as Vol introduced you? What exactly are you researching?" Orynn asked, turning his attention to Lair Kellyn.

Zanh Liis cleared her throat from the end of the table. Kellyn heeded the warning even thought it was not really necessary, or helpful. As soon as the question was asked the answer of transwarp technology had jumped into everyone's minds. The proverbial cat was out of the bag, but those assembled around the table from the Tryst and Mazen families were harmless enough and likely didn’t even know what transwarp meant exactly.

“I’m afraid that’s classified, but let’s just call it ‘theoretical propulsion design’.” Kellyn said with a smile. “It’s something Salvek and I both do when he’s not taking his normal shifts on the bridge.”

“And what do you like to do, little one?” Siter asked Lair Arie.

“Reprogram things.” The girl replied succinctly.

“Yes, she comes by that honestly.” Kellyn said. “She’s definitely a self-starter as well. She seems to have an affinity for altering holographic character parameters.”

Arie blushed, knowing her mother referring to her skill at tinkering with holocharacters, often without permission. She pushed the green vegetables around on her plate, and bravely popped several into her mouth. Her mother normally didn’t force her to eat what she didn’t want to, but Arie wanted to be proper and respectful in front of Vol’s family and friends.

Salvek once again looked in Zanh Liis’ direction. The Captain was now holding Jariel’s hand with one of hers, and the other supported her chin. She was listening intently to Kellyn speak with pride of their daughter’s accomplishments, how fast a learner she was, and how she took so naturally to anything she tried. Salvek knew what it looked like when an idea was coming together in her mind, and he couldn’t help but wonder what the Captain was thinking at the moment.

“This food is off the hook! It’s like there’s a party in my mouth, and everyone’s invited!” Reece declared with glee, drawing Salvek’s attention back to the other end of the table.

“An unusual expression, but I assume it’s a compliment.” Valerie said.

“So what do you do for after dinner fun around here?” Reece asked, as he finished the last of the food on his plate.

“Well,” Said Vol, “Perhaps you have a suggestion for us?”

“Hmm,” Reece stroked his chin, “Let me give it some thought.

Siter felt a wave of nervousness from his brother.

*What’s wrong?* He thought to Vol.

*Nothing, I’m just not sure what exactly I opened us up for just now.*

Vol made a silent promise to himself that if the words “slip and slide” were uttered from the lips of Dabin Reece, that he would bury his head in the nearest potted plant.

Salvek looked around the table. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Vol’s fiancée seemed to be a fine young woman, and each of their families seemed to adore the other. Everything was proceeding in an orderly fashion, just as one would expect.

That was, until Dabin Reece came up with a suggestion.


“I beg your pardon?” Siter asked.

“It’s a game! We can play it, if everyone’s done.”

Dabin looked around at the empty plates, and figured everyone had finished.

“How do you play?”

“Well,” Dabin started. “You think of something like a song title or movie title, or some sort of action to perform, then you act it out. You can’t speak, and the people on your team try to guess what you are acting out.”

Dabin stood up, and rubbed his hands together. “First we need to split into teams.”

“Mr. Reece, I believe there is a flaw in your choice of activity.” Salvek noted.

“Nonsense, they are going to love it. Okay, let’s make it simple, shirt’s versus skins. No, there are children present. How about Betazoids, and Misses Tryst versus Sera crew?”

“Where does that leave me?” Vol asked.

“By all means, team up with your fiancée.” Reece said. “Vedek Jariel, you should start for our team.”

Normally the Vedek would have insisted they go on without him, but he was game tonight to try it out. He stood up from his chair, and thought of something to act out.

“Ok, ready?”

“Ready!” Reece said.

Jariel squatted into a mock sitting position, and began tapping his fingers on an invisible computer screen.

“You’re giving someone a massage!” February blurted out.

“No he’s playing the piano but he lost his bench!” Dabin said.

Liis just shook her head and grinned, amused by the absurdity of it.

“He is piloting a shuttle, and based upon the positioning of his hands on the panel it appears he is trying to activate the self destruct sequence. The shuttle’s heading, assuming he is facing forward, appears to have him en route to Ferenginar I would also add.” Salvek said.

“Ferenginar?” Liis said, with a sideways smirk. “Not my destination of choice.

Jariel shrugged. “Salvek is right.”

“Ok, Betazoid team!” Dabin said excitedly.

Salvek sighed “This is not going to work.”

Vol took it upon himself to stand up and be the actor. “Ok, I have something.”

“You’re swimming across the lake at four in the afternoon, and there’s a weed wrapped around your ankle.” All the Betazoid’s said in unison.

“You cannot play this game with a group of telepaths.” Salvek noted.

“Oh.” Reece said. “Ok, worst idea ever. My bad. Maybe we should just chat?”

Commander Salvek
Executive Officer
USS Serendipity/Alchemy

442: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner: Two

by Vol Tryst and Zanh Liis

...continued from part one

-=The Tryst Residence, Betazed=-

"Ah. Well I'm glad to know that the rules of the game are so simple to learn." Zanh said, the edge of her lip curling up in amusement.

Vol side-glanced his brother with a smug smirk on his face.

*Did that work out as well as you expected?* Vol couldn't help but marvel at times at the sheer stupidity his brother displayed.

Siter just grumbled from his seat, before speaking to provide an explanation of the game

"It is a game commonly played in teams, and was primarily designed to help Betazoid youth to hone in on their abilities. However, it's recently been introduced to the galactic stage and it's not impossible for non-empaths to become skilled players."

"It's a game that's best shown rather than explained, Zanh Liis. Perhaps a match tomorrow?" Vol finished.

"I'd be honored. Will I need a partner?"

"Yes you will." Vol smiled.

Jariel's eyes begged Liis to look elsewhere, and she smiled at him gently. The Vedek was many things, but an athlete was not one of them. She eyed Zander and Salvek slowly, one then the other, considering her options.

Her eyes then fell upon Reece, who was chattering excitedly about how much he was enjoying the appetizer, and internally shook her head. She didn't even consider Grace, who was having, it seemed, a hard enough time getting her food to stay the course between her plate, her fork, and her mouth without dropping half of it along the way.

*Definitely not.* Then...she thought...*Wait a minute...what about Lair...*

"Do I have to choose the partner now or can I think it over a little while?"

"Just bring whomever you will with you tomorrow, Captain. Choose at your leisure." Siter replied.

Liis widened her eyes intentionally, as her officers each shifted nervously in their seats. "Which one, which one?"

All at the table seemed relieved when the door chime sounded, and Mr. Noon moved to receive the rest of their expected company for the evening.

*They're here.* Vol heard his father's mind in his own.

"Oh excellent!" Valerie exclaimed, jumping up as she headed for the door.

"The Mazen's have arrived." Vol provided an answer to the unasked questions that were painted on all of his ship mates' faces. Vol stood up from his seat as everyone followed suit.

Valerie came back in, her voice shrill with excitement as to the new arrivals, commenting on how happy she was that they finally arrived.

Behind her was a petite woman with dark hair which flowed past her shoulders. She had a smile which brightened up the room and she wore a wrap-around white blouse with a brown dress which flowed away from her legs.

She was accompanied by a man, whose height rivaled that of Salvek's. He had short brown hair which stood straight up due to some kind of styling product. He wore a purely white shirt with light gray pants.

"Everybody, this is the beautiful bride to be and her brother. Dana, and Orynn Mazen." Valerie proudly introduced.

The rest of the Tryst family moved closer to hug their guests. By the way Vol and Siter greeted the two other Betazoid youths, it was easy to tell that they had known each other a long time. All four hugged in a group, and soon laughed afterwards, likely due to some inside joke they shared telepathically. Vol and Dana smiled admiringly at each other, as Vol's hand reached to hold his soon-to-be wife's.

"Awww. CUTE!" February Grace exclaimed with a wistful sigh. Somehow, it reminded her of what it was like to be reunited with friends of a past Host. These people obviously shared memories which far pre-dated the present.

Once they were all seated, Dana beside Vol, and Orynn beside Siter, the conversation began anew.

"My parents apologize for not being able to come." Dana looked to Tholt.

"None necessary." The elder Tryst waved the comment away.

"May I be the first to offer my congratulations to you, Ms. Mazen, on your upcoming Bonding to our Vol." Liis beamed as she looked over at Vol, affection for him clearly written across her face. "He's quite something, I have no doubt that one thing your life will always be is interesting."

"Thank you," Dana looked at Vol and instantly read his thoughts as he told her who Zanh was. "Captain."

"I'm sorry, allow me to introduce you to my..." Vol paused. He had been ready to use the word 'colleagues', but in this moment, another word seemed much more appropriate.

"...my friends. This is Captain Zanh Liis of the USS Serendipity," Vol extended his arm, and with an open palm he indicated the rest of his Starfleet guests. "Ship's Chaplain, the Vedek Jariel Camen. Executive Officer Salvek, his lovely wife and research engineer Lair Kellyn, their daughter, Arie..."

Vol continued until everyone had been introduced, and Dana had nodded politely to each.

"It is a pleasure to meet you all. As someone who has known Vol a very long time, Captain, I agree with your assessment that my life with him will never be boring."

"Or he'll be a big bore." Orynn chuckled from his seat, and Siter joined in. It was jovial of course, and taken as such.

"Our boys and the Mazen children have been life long friends, since they first met when they were toddlers." Valerie explained.

"Orynn and I work together at the same art gallery." Said Siter. "I provide the art, he does the publicity, and his parents run and own the place."

"It's an extended family." Vol smiled and laughed, for the first time seeming genuinely at ease since arriving at Betazed.

"And we'd have it no other way." Dana and Orynn said in unison.

"Family is a very important thing," Lair Kellyn said, casting an affectionate glance at Salvek, then reaching over and brushing a stray strand of Arie's hair back toward the bow which secured the rest. "Nothing matters more."

Ensign Vol Tryst
Ship's Counselor
USS Serendipity NCC 2012


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

441: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner: One

by Vol Tryst and Zanh Liis
Hours after Red Handed

-=The Tryst Residence, Betazed=-

The Tryst house was the perfect structure for one that was situated right by a lake. The dining room in particular, had a very high ceiling which was held up by white columns. Large gaps in the walls held no windows, and instead allowed the fresh water air to flow in along with the sweet scents of the fruit trees on the property. The sun was in its decent, but the sky had not yet begun to darken, by the end of dinner a purple hue would surely mark the evening sky.

The table was long, with Vol's father sitting at the head, with his ex-wife by his side. For a divorced couple, it was worth mentioning that they seemed rather too friendly. There was no bitterness between Valerie and Tholt, and it was plain to see. It was reassuring, if not a bit puzzling, to see that love could withstand a failed marriage.

The Captain sat at the other end of the table, after constant insistence from Valerie. On Zanh's right was Vol and his brother, and on her left was Jariel, then Salvek, his family, and the rest of her crew filled the other seats. There were some empty spaces at the table, as the Mazen family had yet to arrive.

Dinner was in the midst of being served in spite of a few late comers. It was a tradition that Valerie had said that she grew up with. Granted, it was polite to wait for all to be seated and served before beginning a meal. However, she believe that the custom wasn't practical. Food was meant to be enjoyed when ready and hot, not cold and stale. So all the guests were encouraged to begin eating as soon as the plate was set before them.

As most of the crew had expected, but perhaps forgotten, there was a fairly complected servant a few feet away from the table. Every so often he would strike a chime with a soft baton, to offer thanks for the meal currently being enjoyed. It was irritating at first for those not accustomed, but the chime was not shrill nor high in pitch, so the sound soon faded into the background for most off-worlders.

*Ask them about the Inn.* Vol's father prodded him, to which Vol replied by looking up from his plate and slicing his eyes into his father with an expression of 'you're a big man now, you do it.'

Vol didn't blame his father for his reluctance to use his vocal capabilities, but his lack of effort was something he would hold against the man. Thankfully, his saw him clear his throat to prepare to do exactly what he'd been asked to.

"I hope you accommodations are comfortable."

"Oh yes," Vol's mother interjected. "If not, the offer to stay here with us still stands."

Vol closed his eyes and sighed deeply, doing all he could not to smack the palm of his hand upon his forehead.

"The Inn is more than adequate," answer Salvek finally. "Thank you for your concern."

"This really is a beautiful planet." Added February. "I wish we could stay longer."

"It's a very easy place to be," pointed out Valerie. She looked to her left and let a hand land gently on that of Tholt's, before turning back to her guests. "People fall in love all over again here, it's the perfect place in my opinion to find and to rekindle romance."

The couples at the table exchanged glances, most of them already knowing full well the truth of the woman's words. One guest however, found the topic mildly dull, and wanted to change topic. So without further ado, she offered an interjection in the hopes of doing just that.

"Your house is very beautiful," Lair Arie chirped up suddenly, noticing the sudden lull in the conversation, and doing what she felt was her part as a proper, invited guest to try to spur things on. Kellyn nodded to her proudly, giving her a slight 'atta girl' wink.

"Why thank you, mademoiselle." Valerie leaned forward to smile at the girl. A Parisian accent surfacing in her words. Vol smiled from his seat, it had been sometime since he had heard his mother speak in French.

"You're more than welcome to..." Valerie began again, but Vol slid a thought into her mind.

*Invite them over one more time mother, and they may think you'll chain them to their seats if they refuse.*

Valerie stopped in mid-sentence, and smiled at Vol, silently agreeing that she was perhaps pushing the matter a bit too far. Vol took over from where she left off and spoke to Lair.

"What my mother means to say is that if you would like a proper tour of the house and property at any time, that we would be happy to oblige. There's even a small holosuite in the basement if you're looking for to engage in some recreation."

"Speaking of which," said Vol's older brother, Siter. "If any of your crew would like to challenge my brother and I to a Betazoid duel, we would happily accept."

*I was waiting for you to say that.* Vol thought.

*I hate to disappoint.*

Zanh had never heard of this particular sport, but she could hardly prevent her brow from perking. Shore leave and relaxation was nice and all, but she already had an itch for a rapier in hand, and this proposition may be the closest thing she'd get to at this point.

"Betazoid Duel?" She raised her water glass to her lips, finishing the contents. She startled as the moment it was back on the table, the tall, silent servant attending them was standing over her shoulder with a pitcher, refilling it.

"Yeah, um, thanks there, Mister..." She looked at Vol, hoping he'd insert a name she could use to thank the man properly.

"Noon." Vol offered.

"Thank you, Mister Noon." She saluted him with her glass and took another sip.

Meanwhile, Liis' eyes weren't the only ones to widen at the thought of a duel in the holosuite. *Good grief, not fencing,* Jariel groaned inwardly. She had just been put back together again, he didn't like the thought of her over-exerting herself, and he knew that she did nothing half way.

"Tell me, Siter, how does this 'duel' work?" Liis inquired.

"Essentially, we win, and you lose Captain." Siter smiled.

"Ah. Well I'm glad to know that the rules of the game are so simple to learn." Zanh said, the edge of her lip curling up in amusement.

Ensign Vol Tryst
Ship's Counselor
USS Serendipity NCC 2012


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

440: Airlock

by TC Blane and Dane Cristiane
After Red Handed

-=USS Alchemy=-

TC sat on the dark and quiet bridge of the Alchemy. The lights were set down to the minimum setting and the only sounds that could be heard were the typical background song of electronics and the low hum of the ventilation system.

The only other person in the room was one Ensign Sanchez, who was sitting at the helm reading over the latest technical manual as she prepped for her next test.

TC’s attention was focused on a PADD that he held in his hand. Information of a highly personal nature had arrived for him while he was performing his daily workout and he was just now catching up on it. It was good news, a new lead on the where-abouts of the Sera’s disappearing officer had just came in.

“Oh sir. The Captain left word that she was heading back to the surface.” Sanchez reported.

TC nodded. “Very well.” He never looked up as he continued to read the dispatch from another ‘friend’ that TC had called in a favor from. His years with Special Ops were starting to pay off. Avery would not be able to hide from him forever.

Just then the comm unit beeped. [Transporter room to the bridge.]

“Bridge. Go ahead.” TC replied while continuing to read.

[Ensign Christane is requesting permission to beam to the surface.]

TC slowly stood up. “What? Hold him there, I am on my way.”

-=A few moments later =-

The doors to the transporter room slid open and TC strode into the room and found Dane standing on the pad with a large duffle at his feet. TC’s brows furrowed together in obvious confusion and growing annoyance.

“I though you already went to the archives?” He asked as he approached the pad.

"I did." Dane said nothing more.

Blane sighed with apparent aggravation as he gestured for the ensign to elaborate. Dane shrugged, and that irritated Blane even more. "You have a paper to write, Ensign, I expect you to be done with that before you go to the surface to play."

"I'm definitely not going to play, Sir, I have orders."

Blane laughed. "You do, do you? From whom exactly?"

"The Captain." Now, he had TC's attention, which was exactly what Dane had not wanted to have

“Really?” TC folded his arms across his chest. “Funny she did not mention anything to me about any orders. What are they?”

"Ummm, to get lost. Sir."

"Stop wasting my time. What is going on?"

Dane sighed heavily. "The Captain told me to find my own way back to Earth, and meet up with her when we get there. I'm sorry, I'm not at liberty to elaborate. If you ask her, I'm sure she'll be happy to tell you what I've done to earn the trip."

TC’s eyes narrowed. He turned to the transporter chief and nodded towards the door. The chief took the hint and was relieved to make a hasty exit his instincts warning him of an impending storm, or at least a tornado.

Once the doors slid shut he stepped towards Dane.

“One, without orders from the Captain you are not leaving this ship and two,” He stepped closer to Dane. “What exactly did you do?”

Dane opened his mouth to speak but TC halted him with a raised finger.

“Don’t even tell me again that the Captain will fill me in. If she is tossing you away from her like you are saying she is, you were a very bad boy.” TC seethed. “Start talking or I swear you will leave this ship, out the nearest available airlock.”

"Okay!" Dane relented, believing for a certainty that Blane would make good his threat. "I was instructed by the Admiral to do a little...checking on something. Zanh Liis caught me in the process of that...checking...and told me to find my way back to Earth. Where, if the Admiral doesn't kill me for failing to find proof that she remembers Keiran O'Sullivan and past timelines, she will likely finish the job herself once she gets there." Observing the look that now crossed Blane's face, Dane realized that he may still be going out that airlock anyway. To try to prevent that eventuality, he raised a hand, indicating he wanted to speak.

"Before you kill me, I want you to know that he promised me that it was important to the safety of the Captain, the timeline, and O'Sullivan that he find out the truth. That's why I did it."

"Really. He didn't offer you anything to sweeten the deal?"

Dane turned crimson.

"That's what I thought. Out the airlock."

Suddenly he grabbed Dane by the collar, hoisting the young man clear off of his feet. Dane had visions of what the vacuum of space was going to be like.

“Vox would say anything and do anything to get someone to do what he wanted to get done.” He shook the younger man out of frustration. “Damn it, Dane. That man made you break something more valuable then anything he ever could have given you!!”

He dropped Dane to the deck with a thud and then leaned in, still yelling.

“Do you understand this? Trust, faith, honor, and most of all respect are all earned, not given. The Captain hoped that you would earn those here. O’Sullivan hoped for the same and he worked hard to push you towards that.” He glared down at Dane. “You destroyed both of their hopes and faith in you and for what?”

He stood up with a sigh, his composure returning. “You know what; I don’t want to know because nothing in my mind could have been worth it.”

There was a long silence as Dane stared at the deck.

“Alright on your feet Ensign.” TC ordered.

Dane slowly stood. “What now?” He asked quietly.

“I’ll let you walk yourself to the airlock.” TC replied flatly.

Dane stopped in his tracks and stared at TC wondering if he was serious.

Commander TC Blane
Second Officer
USS Serendipity/Alchemy


Ensign Dane Cristiane
This close to floating home

439: Red Handed: Two

by Dane Cristiane

...continued from part one

-=Crew Quarters, USS Alchemy=-


"Don't even." Liis put her phaser down, and grabbed him by the shirt, lifting him up from the bed with strength that shocked the callow youth. "Don't you dare 'Captain' me. You tell me exactly what you intended to do with that letter or I will make you sorry."


"Okay!" Dane's voice cracked, as he tried to maintain his intestinal fortitude. "I was ordered to do this! To find out if you remembered anything about O'Sullivan that you didn't-"

Liis released him, and the cot creaked as his weight dropped back down onto it. He didn't have to finish and tell her who had ordered him, she knew damn well who could turn Dane into a marionette with the slightest effort, if the right promises were made.

"How high did Vox have to go before you were willing to sell me out, Dane?"

Zanh turned away, truly wounded by the young man's actions. She knew he had problems, from the start when she'd met him years ago on DS23. She had known he had the potential for great darkness, given the life he'd been subjected to.

She had only hoped, that in time, he would finally learn to trust her.

Dane expected her to yell, and wished that she would. Hell, he'd have preferred that she pound him to a pulp rather than simply stare off out the viewport, arms folded and back turned on him as she was now.

"What did he have to offer you to get you to betray me?"

"Betray you?" Dane scowled, standing up and taking a step toward her, arms folded defensively as well. "You're one to talk! You lied, Zanh Liis. To everyone, including Vox. And you accuse me of betrayal?"

"WHAT DID HE OFFER YOU?" Liis screamed, flying back toward Dane and slamming him up against the wall. His head ached as it made impact with the unforgiving surface, and his ears began to ring. "Tell me, or I can't be responsible for what happens next."

"A transfer, okay?" Dane sputtered. "He promised to get me the hell away from you."

As much as this revelation did not surprise Zanh, it did injure her.

She released him again and moved toward the bunk, gently reaching out to touch the scattered pages of Keiran's letter.

"Well, I hope it was worth it, Dane. You've cost me the one thing that I had to..." She stopped, determined that Dane would not see her shed a single tear over Keiran- or over what he had done.

She didn't know how much he'd read, but for her own part she sure as hell wasn't going to volunteer a damned thing as to what the letter contained.

Without a moment's hesitation, she removed a small, silver toned device from her jacket pocket and flipped it open. A flame ignited and flickered from it.

She gathered up the pages and envelope; at the last minute deciding it was safe enough to spare only the empty shell one keepsake for herself.

She set the envelope back down onto the bed and moved quickly to the corner wash basin.

The metal of the small sink still displayed the charred marks created by the last piece of correspondence she had incinerated in it.

She applied the flame from the lighter to the pages, and it quickly began to burn.

Dane's eyes flashed. With the letter destroyed, it would be his word against hers, and the Admiral would have no concrete evidence upon which to indict her.

As he watched the paper turn to ash, he knew he'd failed, in every conceivable way.

"I only wanted," Dane blurted, shaking his head.

"What did you want?" Liis whispered bitterly, observing as the remnants of the letter turn from ash to muck as she turned on the water and washed them down the drain. "Did you get it?"

"He said that if you remembered it was a danger to O'Sullivan." Dane looked away, ashamed. He'd read enough of the letter to know that if she had a choice, Zanh Liis would never do anything that she thought would endanger the man.

"He promised me that if I got him the information he needed, that it would be for the best."

"Best for you. Because he'd give you that transfer to..."

"...to O'Sullivan's command," Dane replied miserably, assuming that Zanh already knew that Keiran had his own ship, somewhere. "He was going to transfer me to the USS Perseids."

"What did you say was the name of his ship?" Zanh's eyes did fill with tears now, she was helpless to prevent them. "Say the name, Dane."

"Perseids." He repeated slowly, with confusion. "I don't understand, I thought you knew,"

"Everything? I don't know everything, Dane. I never claimed to." Liis sat heavily down onto the bunk and took her head into her hands. "But I do know one thing. I'm done with you."

Suddenly, that idea frightened Dane. He'd failed Vox, that much was certain. He knew that he had no right to expect anything different of the Bajoran now, but somehow, he had fooled himself into thinking that he could do no wrong in her eyes that was so serious that she really would give up on him.

"Zanh Liis,"

"Get off of my ship," she demanded, looking up at him through bloodshot eyes. "Find your own way back to TI, and you better think long and hard about what you're going to do once you get there."

Her expression was cold as ice as she pointed toward the door. "If you're still alive when Alchemy gets back to Earth, then you can come and tell me what you decided to do. Get out."

"Zanh Liis, please. I,"

"Get. Out."

Dane was as white as a ghost as he stepped toward the door. "I thought that what you remembered had something to do with your past work," he offered in an attempt to justify his actions. "That you were hiding something that would endanger O'Sullivan in this timeline. I didn't realize that,"

She didn't move or speak.

"If I'd realized how he felt about you, Captain, how you felt about each other, I never would have,"

She remained still as a statue.

"I understand now that," he stammered, then he finally gave up. The fact was that nothing he could say would justify his actions; to her, to himself, or to O'Sullivan, should he ever happen to meet up with the man again.

What would Keiran think of him, do to him, if he knew what Dane had just done...

"I'm sorry," he offered at last, sincerely, as he moved through the doors. "I'm so sorry, Zanh Liis."

For a moment, Liis felt nothing but sheer panic. But then, she felt an eerie calm take her over. She slowly inhaled, and exhaled several times.

She methodically set about returning the rest of her belongings to their place inside her suitcase, pausing for a moment to run her fingers over the wax seal on the envelope from his letter. She finally put it inside the case as well, and closed the lid.

Standing, she returned her suitcase to the locker and secured the door.

She then closed her eyes, and shoved down every associated feeling she had as to what had just happened. Even after all she'd been through, her ability to shut off her emotions with such clinical coldness still comforted her.

She knew that given his limited personal resources, it would take Dane a good long time to get back to Earth- and that she very well may beat him there- even with staying on Betazed the next few days and counting the Alchemy's return time.

That being the case, she knew exactly what she was going to do when she got there.

The moment she got back to Earth, she was going to march straight into Vox' office, and ensure that neither he, Dane, nor anyone else had anything to hold over her head when it came to Keiran O'Sullivan, ever again.

Dane Cristiane
Taking the long way home from Betazed
USS Alchemy

438: Red Handed: One

by Dane Cristiane
During and after Don't Step on the Mome Raths

-=Crew Quarters, USS Alchemy=-

Finally back to the ship after his day memorizing the Articles at the Archives, Dane felt that he would be able to do all right on his paper for Blane, if all Blane wanted was recitation.

If he wanted true 'meaning' in the paper, Dane still could be in trouble.

He knew the rules were on the books for a reason, and could quote them chapter, verse, and sub-paragraph. But where he was standing right now, their reasons for existing and meaning seemed far removed from him and hard to grasp.

The most amusing part of the day had been catching Landry Steele dead to rights, as she pretended to be reading Quantum Mechanics Today on the PADD she was holding but with the push of one button Dane was able to confirm that she had merely brought up the cover of the latest issue of QMT to hide the fact she was actually reading Risan fashion magazines.

When he pointed out to her that she'd been revealed, she had simply shrugged and said,

"Necklines are plunging and hemlines are climbing this fall. So the Risans say."

Now back aboard ship, he had to turn his attention, seriously, to only the task at hand.

He'd been over it again and again. Looked everywhere that Vox had suggested, and everywhere else he thought to look.


If Zanh had logged, said, or indicated in any other way to anyone that she remembered Keiran O'Sullivan, she'd done a damn good job of keeping it quiet. Every tactic he'd taken to try to prove otherwise had left him empty handed.

Only the bare minimum of crew remained on the Alchemy now, and even those left behind went in shifts down to the planet to try to get something out of shore leave.

Everyone, that was, with the exception of that bulldog Blane, who it seemed was for some reason deathly allergic to the very idea of taking a vacation day.

Damn him.

Now, Dane was going to have to try one last resort, or otherwise face going back to the Admiral with the news that he'd found nothing to substantiate his suspicions that Zanh was withholding information from him.

Dane moved stealthily through the corridors, making sure that no one saw him. He'd taken care to put the security camera outside the room that Zanh had chosen to occupy during the trip on a loop, a false feed of the empty hall going to the security systems so his little breaking and entering adventure wouldn't be recorded, or revealed.

He could hardly believe he was doing this.

He wondered why it bothered him at all when he was so certain that it shouldn't. Zanh had done nothing but cause him pain since he'd come aboard her ship.

Well, save his life and cause him pain, but he figured that she had only done the former because she didn't want to have to tell the Admiral she'd lost his recruit. Not because she cared about him at all.

He used another trick he'd learned during his TI training to bypass the lock on the door, and entered the tiny room.

He looked around, thinking that likely she had taken the object he sought to the planet with her...and this was all for nothing.

Then he noticed that the indicator light on the small locker across the room was glowing green. That meant that it was locked, and that meant she'd had something she wanted to conceal and not take with her to Betazed.

He moved to the locker, and using another of Vox' magic tricks, began the work of releasing the lock.

He couldn't believe how simple it was to get around the technology considered to be so secure by Starfleet, if you only knew how to do it.

A moment later the locker door released with a slow hiss and he pulled it back, revealing just what he had been looking for.


She had decided not to take her suitcase with her, apparently, on her initial trip to the surface.

*Big mistake.*

He wasted no time in taking it from its hiding place and laying it down onto the bunk. He tossed aside several articles of clothing she'd left abandoned on the bed in her haste to leave the ship, and sat down.

He unlatched the ancient clasps holding the case shut, and began rifling through the contents. There appeared to be a journal of some sort, and he flipped through it, eyes scanning enough for his brain to process the words in search of one particular name, but just short of committing every single word to memory.

He didn't want to know everything there was to know about the woman, he just wanted to do his job.

He found her Temporal Compass but didn't touch it, knowing better than to screw with the crazy thing. He found a bundle of what appeared to be old letters from the Vedek tied together with string, and disregarded them. They were not relevant to his cause.

It was only as he was just about to give up and hurry to return the suitcase to the locker and leave that he realized the answer had literally just fallen into his lap.

He laughed as he saw the crimson wax seal, imprinted with the signet ring he'd seen on Keiran's hand every time he ever saw the man.

He knew somehow that this was it- if any piece of evidence was going to damn Zanh as a liar, this was it.

He hurried to open the envelope, sliding the thin paper out as quickly as he could without tearing it, and focused his eyes upon the words intently. He committed the first page to memory instantly, his heart racing as he realized that the very first line of text was exactly what he had been searching for.

With all of the technology available, all of the things that could have betrayed the truth she was hiding, Dane just couldn't believe that a handwritten letter that she'd been careless in keeping was the thing that had done it.

He flipped the first page over, but before he could take the mental snapshot of the words it contained as well, he heard the door open and the sound of a phaser being unholstered.

Zanh Liis hurried forward, confused, and tilted her weapon away from him when she realized who it was that was sitting on her bed.

"Dane!" She exclaimed, realizing that she could have shot him. Then, she realized that maybe she should have. Her voice dropped to a raging growl as she observed what he was holding in his hands. "What the holy hell are you doing with that?"

*Shit,* Dane thought. *I am so screwed.*

"Captain, I'm sorry,"

"Don't even." Liis put her phaser down and grabbed him by the shirt, lifting him up from the bed with strength that shocked the callow youth. "Don't you dare 'Captain' me. You tell me exactly what you intended to do with that letter or I will make you sorry."


Ensign Dane Cristiane
In deep and sinking fast
USS Alchemy

437: Don't Step on the Mome Raths: Two

by Jack Hubbard and Zanh Liis

...continued from part one

-=Sickbay, USS Alchemy=-

The computer indicated that the results of her blood analysis were ready and Hubbard's eyes grew wide as he read them.

"Captain, how much caffeine have you had today?"

Zanh Liis groaned, thinking that she had a good idea what his first life-style modification tip would be.

Hubbard smirked, "Ease off on the coffee just a bit sir. You might try the Bajoran tea. You'll get the same results you want with less effects on your body." Hubbard pulled up a chair, "Now...physical exam aside...this is a critical part of my health maintenance for a crew I've never met."

He pulled the chair closer, "You have sixty seconds to tell me the highlights of Senior Officer activities in the last month. Omit nothing...spare no one. You have to trust me on this, it's like a litmus test for those I'll be working closest with. Should you not complete this, I have to enter that you haven't complied with medical requests." Hubbard was smiling so it wasn't a threat, but it was a damn fine tactic.

Hubbard sprang up, "While you do that, I'll get us both a cup of that Jumja tea I mentioned."

Zanh did not flinch. "When does my time begin?"

"On my mark," he said, moving to the replicator. "Ready, set, go."

"Salvek, First Officer, juggling the demands of family, work and conscience while I have been unwell. Blane, steady as a rock and twice as hard headed, but in a good way. Blakeslee, young, idealistic, just had his workload doubled and had to cancel his family vacation. Tryst, recently assaulted by a visiting dignitary but recovered with remarkable speed- now getting ready to take on the challenge of his life by adding a marriage to his responsibilities in this life.

"Rada Dengar has handled multiple promotions, crisis, and chaos with grace and skill. Vedek Jariel," She paused only slightly as she rattled off the words as quickly as her tongue could twist around them, "Has recently been through Hell due to our encounter with the aliens, but I believe he's going to be all right.

"Dabin Reece, Chief of Science is simply insane, but it works for him. He's married to my senior flight controller, February Grace and the two of them eloped this year despite the opposition of their culture that the two of them should not Reassociate. It seems to be a perfect match.

"Lair Kellyn is not technically on the senior staff but still merits mention. As wife of Salvek and our research engineer you will find she gets in everyone's way all the time and seems to be just fine with that. Dane Cristiane, our primary bridge communications officer, is a brat with a lot to learn who has been put into my care by the Admiral, and who will learn something before he leaves here if it kills us both. I think that's..."

"Times up."

"...everyone," Zanh concluded her sentence, folding her arms and grinning at Hubbard as if to say 'so there'.

"Nicely done Captain, with one exception. What about you? What do I need to know about you?" Hubbard sat down after giving the Captain her tea.

She sniffed at it, grimaced, and then set it aside. "How about I switch to decaf every now and then instead of this?"

Undeterred, Hubbard would not be sidetracked from his previous tack. He was no stranger to the strong Captain profiles, and thus her attempt to divert the conversation away from herself did not faze him in the least.

"Forget the tea. I'll extend your time another thirty seconds," with that Dr Hubbard took a sip from his own cup.

Zanh Liis stared at him, dumbfounded. She could literally talk all day about her crew, but when asked to describe herself, her ability to speak deserted her, utterly.

"Time starts...now."

She continued in silence, her lips parted, but formed no words.

"Ten seconds gone," Hubbard warned.

Her brow furrowed as she tried to conceive of a way to distill her recent experiences down into simple sentences.

"Twenty," Jack taunted. "Come on, Captain Zanh. You're not going to fail your test on the autobiographical questions, are you now?"

"Zanh Liis has gone through the looking glass," She blurted, speaking of herself as if of someone she knew; not of her own identity. She began twisting the chain of her earring fiercely. "And she is in the process of finding her way home."

Hubbard smiled, "Wasn't it Alice who said, "I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, Sir, because I'm not myself you see' ?" Hubbard took another sip.

"Clean cup, move down." Zanh replied, showing off her knowledge of the story in question. "You'll find I'm mad as the Hatter, Doctor Hubbard. I'm sure that was what Dalton wanted to tell you before my arrival prevented him from doing so. Of course, the White Rabbit would concur."

"You know...you're not the first Captain I've had who refused to delve into their innermost issues. it usually sets up an adverse relationship, one we need to confront each time there's a critical issue at hand. It's really very tedious."

Dr Hubbard thought for a moment, "Classic Kirk Syndrome."

"I am no James Kirk." Zanh muttered. "Doctor, I regret to inform you of this but when a Commanding Officer purposely omits details of their life from discussions with their doctors and counselors, there is usually a reason and that reason is usually classified."

Zanh sighed, folding her arms as she did so. "I am not trying to be difficult. But I lead a very... complicated existence. You're going to find though that I try very hard not to inconvenience my people with it. I try to keep their worries limited to their duties, and not to anything going on in the head of their CO."

"Captain," Hubbard objected, pausing to drain the last of his tea from the cup. "It is my duty to care for the Commanding Officer. I can't do that if I don't have all the relevant information. And in my limited, although diverse, experience, captains generally think they're above this kind of detailed scrutiny. I know this based on experience and based on the fact that no one exemplifies Kirk Syndrome more than...me." He smiled.

"You want relevant information?" Zanh was growing tired and since he would not relent, figured that it was time to end the game. "All right. Fine. I'll give you relevant information. Provided that doctor/patient privilege in full effect and you do not put this in your report or my chart. What I am about to say starts and ends here. With you, and I."

"Of course Captain," Dr Hubbard conceded.

"I used to work as a Jumper for Temporal Investigations. They resequenced the bejesus out of my brain over the course of my tenure, but my engrams were always resistant. Apparently not so resistant as I thought, because they managed to block out entire alternate lives that I have lived." She drew a breath and released it slowly.

"In particular, an alternate life where I knew our friend O'Sullivan. When the aliens pried into his brain and mine, they thought it would be a great idea to reunite us through memories of those events. Unfortunately, they didn't realize that those events occurred in an alternate branch of space-time and were never supposed to have happened, let alone be remembered.

"So, dear doctor, I am currently all over the map. The Sylph nearly killed me outright with their telepathic parlor tricks, but since I'm still around, now I get to try to adjust to the fact that when it comes to knowing who I am, I don't have a goddamned clue."

Liis jumped up from the table. From her viewpoint, this meeting was adjourned. "I hope that's relevant and informative enough for you. As for me, I have to be going."

*It's always hardest for the command types* Hubbard thought to himself. "Captain, thank you for your candor. I know that must have been difficult. I know someone of your ability can realize what a profound effect your well-being can have on those you care most about...your crew. "

He set his cup down on a nearby table. "Again, thank you sir."

As she reached the door, she realized that there really wasn't enough going on aboard the Alchemy to keep Hubbard couped up on it, especially given they had the LMH at their disposal.

"Vol Tryst is getting married in a day or so," She volunteered. "With a few exceptions, most of the Senior Staff will be present at the affair. Vol has already told me the more the merrier, so if you'd like to join us, I am sure he and his family would be delighted. I would be happy to make the formal introductions in that informal setting."

"Thank you sir. I'll endeavor to be there. Work calendar allowing, of course."

"I'll have the relevant information forwarded to you as to time and location." She nodded to him. "Welcome aboard."

LT. Commander Jack Hubbard
Chief Medical Officer
USS Serendipity NCC 2012


-=/\=-Zanh Liis
Commanding Pain in the Ass
USS Serendipity/Alchemy

436: Don't Step on the Mome Raths: One

by Jack Hubbard and Zanh Liis
Following Breathe

-=Sickbay, USS Alchemy=-

"So that's about it," declared the LMH. "Not much to see here equipment wise, though Alchemy is well appointed for such a small bay. Wait 'til you see all the neat toys they gave us to play with back at the ranch."

By 'back at the ranch', Hubbard knew that McKay was indicating their base ship, the Serendipity.

"Thank you for the tour, Doc. I appreciate your time."

"Happy to do it. Now that you're here I'll be able to spend much more time on the holodeck working on my tennis game," McKay said, and Hubbard was amused. Apparently, this particular LMH was not of the standard variety. *There must be some interesting engineers on this ship,* Hubbard mused.

"Before I let you get yourself settled in," McKay said, holding up an index finger and begging Hubbard's attention, "I should warn you, about the Captain. She's a little bit,"

"A little bit what?" The voice that was raised from the doorway stopped Dalton mid-sentence.

There stood Zanh Liis, arms folded as she leaned against the door frame casually, looking highly amused.

"Speak of the Bajoran!" Hubbard declared, trying not to laugh at the expression on the LMH's face. "You must be Captain Zanh."

"You must be Jack Hubbard." Zanh Liis extended her hand toward the man, observing that he had striking eyes and a firm handshake. "Sorry that I didn't get to greet you when you first came aboard, but as I'm sure Dalton has already told you, I'm actually on medical at the moment."

"Yes," Hubbard snapped into physician mode instantly. "Which reminds me, you are overdue for your next scheduled check up, no time like the present?"

Zanh realized that she had no good excuse to use to get out of it, so she complied, hopping up onto the nearest biobed. "Go ahead. Let's get this over with and then Dalton can get back to giving you his urgent warning about me."

"That'd be my cue to get while the gettin's good. Cap'n. Commander." McKay said, then his trademark twang was heard to ask the computer to deactivate the Long-Term Medical Hologram, and he disappeared.

"So, you like what you've seen here so far?"

Hubbard nodded, "Yes, thank you. I know you have your plans for me, but I'm hoping you can bring me up to speed on the Senior Officers. Morale, and important facts. I always like to hit the ground running, and I've had no time to brief on personnel files, Daystrom Institute and all. Besides, I always find the Captain is far more enlightening when it comes to the ins and outs of the important players on a vessel."

"My crew is one like no other," Zanh replied proudly as Hubbard began to scan her with his tricorder. "I'm certain that you've heard all of your past CO's say that of their crews, but I assure you. In my case, it is entirely true."

Jack nodded, "Yes, I've heard positive things about this crew." Hubbard frowned slightly. "Your blood pressure is a bit elevated."

"Only a bit?" Liis tilted hear head in amazement. "That's good news then."

"I'd like to run some blood work," requested Hubbard, deftly grabbing a hypo and wheeling around to the Captain.

Zanh removed her jacket, and rolled up her sleeve with a sigh. "Very well."

He withdrew the test sample and entered the hypo into an analyzer and began looking over preliminary readouts before returning to her.

"I have some concerns Captain, or to put it another way...you can help me out by sharing what's gone on of late. Very revealing when conducting these types of checkups."

"Well, if you've got concerns about our health, know that you're not alone. Been a rough road."

"Oh? Crew been through a lot of late, or just yourself?"

"Several members of crew, including myself." Zanh explained, bringing her fingers to the wrinkled bridge of her nose. She felt a headache coming on at the change in topic.

"You have access to all the relevant reports. Long story short, we encountered a 'helpful' alien race who did a lot more to us than help us."

"How so?"

"They telepathically manipulated some of the Bajoran and Terran crew, in order to try to 'heal' them of past hurts. But they got more than they ever bargained for when they took us on as lab rats." Liis turned a shade paler. "Some of us barely made it out of their experiment alive."

Hubbard brought up the Captain's recent medical history and his eyes widened. He noticed links in the reports to the medical history of another officer, the ship's previous Chief of Security Keiran O'Sullivan, and made a note to read both reports later from beginning to end.

"This Lieutenant Commander O'Sullivan...what is his status?" Hubbard asked.

He noted that the captain averted her eyes as she answered with a single word that spoke volumes.


Hubbard perked up...it wasn't unusual for him to test the water.

"Really? What's the nature of the reassignment? The reason I ask is no doubt it has ramifications on the well-being of those that were close to him."

"He was reassigned because he finished his work here." Zanh volunteered what she felt she could in the way of an honest response. "I am not currently at liberty to get much more specific than that. O'Sullivan was here by order of Temporal Investigations."

She let her words settle a moment. "But, if what you're asking me is, was it sudden and are there those it was traumatic for, then the answer would be 'yes' to both questions. I think of the whole crew, Cristiane feels it the worst."

*Though still not as badly as I do,* she thought sadly.

Hubbard nodded thoughtfully, "Thank you Captain. I know you realize that sometimes the ship's doctor has to be privy to certain details that other Seniors wouldn't...it's never my intention to pry."


"Do you have any concerns in particular that you'd like to discuss when it comes to your own health and your reinstatement to active duty, Captain?"

Liis had realized only recently that she really needed to start taking better care of herself. "I'd like you to offer some..." she paused, cringing at the very thought, "nutritional recommendations, as well as other stress-reduction techniques I might try in addition to the physical therapy that I am supposed to be doing on a regular basis."

She looked him directly in the eyes and lowered her voice. "I'd like to get back to work as soon as possible, Doctor. Downtime has never served me well, for any reason."

The last thing she wanted was more time to think.

"Far as those suggestions, that's easily enough done, I'll download the information to your comm console in your quarters...then...when we meet for breakfast, you'll be able to tell me what you've chosen as courses for action," Jack replied, it was his way of painting patients into a corner and not going along with any lip-service from them.

"I never eat breakfast. Unless you consider coffee breakfast."

"I do not. This is why I suggested breakfast instead of say, lunch."

"What is this 'lunch' of which you speak?"

Hubbard laughed, and sighed at the same time.

"I know, I know." She admitted. "If I'm going to live to see next Peldor, I have to do something differently."

Dr Hubbard smiled, "Well, it's a rare breed, the Starship Captain...higher maintenance than most. Think of all you do...all you're responsible for...often times, you put everything else ahead of yourself." He looked on in a knowing way.

Liis held her hands out, shrugging. "That's my job."

LT. Commander Jack Hubbard
Chief Medical Officer
USS Serendipity NCC 2012


-=/\=-Zanh Liis
USS Serendipity/Alchemy