707: The Only Right: One

by Rada Dengar and Zanh Liis
Following One Step Behind
Soundtrack: Hollow Man, by REM


"No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my own constitution; the only wrong, what is against it."

~Ralph Waldo Emerson


-=USS Vanguard=-

Captain Zanh returned to the main cabin and stood at the back, leaning on her shoulder against the wall, the toe of one boot crossed casually over the other.

She observed the exhausted and silent Dengar, who had resisted all suggestions from his crew mates, even the Away Team commander, Blane, that he should eat. That he should rest. That he should do anything that would help him to recover from the traumatic experiences they'd had on Lethus IV.

She could have ordered him to at least attempt to do any of those things herself, but she resisted the urge. She respected the young engineer enough to allow him some time and space to deal with his feelings, however he needed to.

He needed to come to grips with them now, while his skills were not needed and he had the luxury of being aboard the Vanguard as a passenger only. As soon as they got back to the Sera, she would be depending upon him to carry out his job as if nothing bad had happened on the Away mission.

They all would.

She knew that he would not let them down, but one look at him told her that he needed to believe it, too.

Seeing how obviously conflicted Dengar was effectively returned Zanh to the moment, and her thoughts to the struggles of her crew. She knew this was precisely what she was meant to do, to tend to them. To push herself forcefully away from her own, selfish concerns.


The very first thing Dengar noticed was that the Captain's voice was low in volume. The sharpness it often contained, which her crew grew used to after serving with her for any length of time, seemed intentionally ground smooth at the edge by overriding compassion.

Dengar tried, and failed, to remember a time before when he had ever heard her call him simply by his first name.

"Captain." He moved to stand, but worried that his legs might not entirely support his weight. He hesitated. "Orders, Sir?"

"Yes, Rada. I have orders for you. Keep your seat, I'll be right back."

Zanh moved to the replicator, and she returned a moment later with two items. One, a tray of hot food, was impossible to miss. The second item, much smaller and easier to hide, was effectively concealed as her fingers closed toward the center of the palm of her hand.

"This, you get in a minute." She set the food down on his station, and Rada seemed to stare at it, transfixed. She knew that he had his doubts about Terran food after an experience he'd had with Avery Breaux soon after he'd posted to the Serendipity. "It's only chicken soup," Zanh smiled softly."As my husband would say, 'tis good for the soul'." She imitated Keiran's speech pattern precisely, with great affection, and without thinking.

Her smile faded the moment the words reached her own ears; an aching sensation crushing her chest as she was shaken again by the pain his absence inflicted.

Rada watched steam rise from the bowl. His stomach was still knotted, and he didn't know if he'd be able to get a bite down. Also, between forgetting to drink for so long and so many rapid breaths his mouth was bone dry and he was afraid this warm liquid would simply make it worse and force his already unstable system to fully reject it. He didn’t, however, want to show this fear to the Captain.

"But before that," Zanh slapped herself mentally, warning herself sternly to refocus. "There's an important matter of ship's business that I can't allow to go unattended to a moment longer."

She swiftly unfurled her hand.

As her fingers darted upward toward his collar, Rada was momentarily taken off guard by the flash of the brilliant diamonds in her new wedding ring, and he did not realize what she was doing.

Zanh raised her voice just enough to be heard by all those present in the cockpit of the Vanguard as she affixed the item to Dengar's uniform.

"As Commanding Officer of the USS Serendipity, I, Zanh Liis, hereby promote Rada Dengar to the rank of Lieutenant Commander and grant him all commensurate rights and privileges associated with said rank.

"Rada, your performance of your duties as part of the Away Team on Lethus IV were exemplary. In recognition of your courage and the fact that your skill and inventive use of materials on hand allowed you to bring the LMH back online and save the life of your crew mate, Lair Kellyn, I will enter a commendation into your permanent file along with the official promotion record."

Zanh took a step back, stood tall before Dengar, and then deliberately bowed at the waist, lowering her eyes respectfully.

Dabin Reece nearly dropped the onion ring he was eating at the sight; unable to recall ever having seen her make such a gesture- with sincerity, anyway- before.

"Well done, Danger." She concluded softly. "We're all very proud of you." As she walked away, Dengar thought that he heard her mumble something else.

What he couldn't make out was a promise that Zanh was renewing to herself, about something she had to take care of when 'all this was over'...something she had planned since finding out that Dengar was so instrumental in the fireworks display at her wedding.

"Sorry, Sir?" Rada wanted to be sure he didn't miss anything vitally important. "I didn't get the part at the end, could you repeat it please?"

Zanh turned back and smiled upon him. "Eat your soup, Lt. Commander. Before it gets cold. Then catch a nap. That's an order."

“I will, Sir.” He certainly didn't not want to disobey a direct order on top of everything else he’d done recently. “But, may I please speak with you first?”

“Of course.”

She worried, taking note of just how much his blood shot eyes seemed to plead for the opportunity.

“Step into my office,” she joked, in an attempt to lighten the moment even while preparing herself for whatever it was he may have to say.

Rada abandoned the bowl where it was and followed the Captain in to the crew quarters attached to the bridge. It didn’t quite have the formality of her ready room on the Serendipity but it was the most private place on a ship this small.

"You wanted to talk? Let's talk." The door slid shut as they’d both entered and Liis turned to face him. “What’s wrong?” She asked the question softly but in a firm enough manner to befit a Starfleet Captain; her eyes however, were full of concern.

Rada was certainly not known for having a traditional response to a promotion. In fact shock would be the best description she could give to explain his reactions when she'd promoted him before. The look on his face this time, though, sounded a clear siren in warning that this was something different.

*This is something very much more.*

“Captain, you know I have the utmost respect for you and your position.” There was something very lethargic in his speech and he could barely keep his head up.

*Uh oh,* Zanh thought, while maintaining her carefully constructed air of calm.

“...and that I don’t often question your command decisions,"

*He's not about to...Dengar, don't you dare,*

"...but in this case I feel obliged to tell you that you’re wrong.”

*And there it is.*

She fought the urge to sigh. She had no intention of accepting what Rada had to say, but believed that the very best that she could do for him was to let him say it.

“That so?”

“Yes, Sir. I shouldn’t be promoted for my actions on the planet. If anything my appropriateness for my current position should be brought to question,” his head was downcast. He’d spent so much of his life trying to figure out how to not be blamed for things, often things he hadn’t done, that he really never considered that he’d one day feel the need this strongly to accept the appropriate blame for something.

“Is there something that happened on Lethus IV that I have not been informed about?” she crossed her arms impatiently.

“I do not believe so, Sir, but I do believe that in trying to protect me Commander Blane may have…” Rada didn’t want to get the Commander in trouble and the guilt was evident in his voice but he still had to be honest. “Given a more favourable report than was appropriate.”

Liis thought that that certainly didn’t sound like something TC Blane would do. She frowned emphatically.

“What the hell happened down there, Mister Dengar?”

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


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