646: Mission of Mercy

by Dane Cristiane
Concurrent with New Things...
Soundtrack: Human, by The Killers


-=Quarters of Dane Cristiane=-

As Dane stared blankly at the computer console in front of him, he had an image stuck in his head that refused to let him go.

It was something he had witnessed while he was sitting on the ground outside Zanh Liis' new home last night. At the time, he was staring up at the sky at the fireworks display that Keiran had arranged with the help of most of the now very tired Engineering department.

Dane, for one, hoped that O'Sullivan was at least going to get them a keg of very expensive beer in thanks for all the hours they put in off the clock on that one.

The fireworks weren't the image stuck in his head, though.

Neither was it the sight of Zanh and O'Sullivan embracing beneath the starry sky, as striking a view as that had been after all he'd seen in the paradox.

No, the snapshot stuck in his head as if pasted to the back of his eyelids was of that girl, standing without shoes on in the sheer, rose colored dress she was wearing.

She'd been wearing a hat earlier in the day, which had thoroughly disarmed Dane the moment he saw her shyly looking up from beneath it.

In his memory, she was holding that hat in her hands by the enormous brim, and she stood in the middle of the garden, staring up into the black at the colors exploding overhead.

She glanced back at him over her shoulder, hair blowing in the breeze. Dane wanted nothing more than to approach her, but her expression asked him not to.

She held one hand to her heart, tilted her head toward him, closing her eyes. Dane closed his own as well, remembering the kiss they'd shared earlier.

When he looked up again, Gira had simply vanished. He searched all over, asked everyone he could find, but no one had seen her.

She was just gone.

Now, as he contemplated the cursor blinking at him mockingly on the screen of his computer, he wondered if she'd meant it when she said he could send letters.

He also wondered if she meant it when she said she didn't think she'd be able to read them if he did.

[Blane to Cristiane.]

Dane checked the chronometer on the desk. He was working third shift today- he was in no way late for duty. What the hell did Blane want now? "Here."

[Ensign, we're looking for officers familiar with the Alchemy who want to volunteer for a mission of mercy. Interested?]

Dane immediately sat up straighter in his chair. Was he ever.

He still felt he had a long way to go in making up for past mistakes, and so he'd decided that any time he had an opportunity to take on work that might go toward making Keiran O'Sullivan proud of him, he was bound and determined to accept it. "Yes, sir."

[Then pack a bag, and report to the Alchemy immediately. You'll be doubling as Security and Communications. Orders to follow. Blane out.]

-=Alchemy Bay=-

"Doctor Adams?" Dane looked up at her in surprise, expecting to find TC Blane but finding the former Perseids physician instead.

"Mister Cristiane," She said, stacking a heavy crate of medical supplies atop a growing pile.

"Here, let me get that." Dane began to move the crates from the anti-grav unit himself, allowing her a moment to catch her breath.

"Thank you. Did they tell you where we're going?"

"No, just that it was some sort of mercy mission."

"I was due to report to the Takesian Plains on Bajor in about a week's time," Azalea explained, wiping beads of perspiration from her brow with the back of her hand.

"But there's been an outbreak of Vellat Fever in the area, and it's spread to an orphanage in a neighboring province. No one seems to know how it happened, but it's a serious situation and they've asked me to get there as soon as possible.

"Commander Salvek volunteered the Alchemy for the mission with Admiral Lassiter's blessing, and has briefed me on what she can do. We've asked that visiting Doctor Hartcort from the Revolution come along as well. If we took the LMH it would leave the Sera without a senior physician, and we can't do that."

"Don't they have doctors on Bajor?" Dane puzzled. His question was entirely sincere.

"Of course. But Starfleet has major fences to mend when it comes to the mishandling of relief supplies after the disaster in the Plains. Since I was due to go anyway, and since the orphanage involved has strong ties to this ship, the diplomats decided that-"

"Wait." Dane's eyebrow shot up. "Where is this orphanage?"

"In Altaan."

Dane's heart fell to his feet.

That was the orphanage where Zanh Liis had grown up, the one where elderly Vedek Timal was still in charge.

"They didn't tell Zanh Liis, did they?" He hated to think that the one chance she and Keiran had ever had for some peace would be taken away before it had even begun.

"No. Blane and Salvek concurred there was no point in telling her, since there is literally nothing she can personally do about it. Vellat Fever is a childhood disease that poses more of a threat to adult Bajorans, and this strain seems to have mutated. It's apparently able to infect even those who had the disease as children. Therefore, Captain Zanh couldn't go there to help if she wanted to, Starfleet would never allow it."

Adams was personally grateful, for Keiran's sake, that this was the case.

"Since it's not a danger to Humans," Azalea continued, stopping as she saw an unfamiliar man in medical blues approaching.

Dane realized at that instant that he hadn't even thought to ask if the disease posed a danger to humans...

"Lance Hartcort, reporting for duty," the man said with a nod.

Azalea extended her hand. "Commander Azalea Adams. I'm grateful that you're coming with us, Doctor," Azalea had almost said 'Lieutenant Commander', still getting used to the new rank she had earned after the Perseids mission.

"I've been given command of the Alchemy for this trip. Dane, I'll be depending upon you and the rest of the Serendipity crew present to help me out a lot as we go along."

Knowing how important Adams was to Keiran, Dane had no problem swearing his loyalty here and now. "We'll do all we can. I promise you."

"Thank you." She again began helping Dane to finish loading the supplies. "We've got to get moving."

Hartcort pitched in as well, picking up a crate and proceeding up the ramp.

"We're about ready, Commander," Micah Samson said, appearing at the foot of the loading ramp. "Helm reports all systems are go, the crew is standing by and ready for departure. Have we got everything?"

"Just about, Micah, thank you. Ensign Cristiane, please take your station and request permission to launch." Adams instructed.

"Yes, Sir." Dane gulped hard as he contemplated what may await them on Bajor.

He no longer had any doubt what his first letter to Gira was going to be about.

Ensign Dane Cristiane
Communications Officer/Temporal Investigations Intern
USS Serendipity/Alchemy