797: First Impressions

by Vol Tryst and Lara Valera Ryn
Concurrent with Going Home

-= Vol Tryst’s Office, USS Serendipity =-

Starship design fell into the same category as flying for Lara. She was good at it. And today, that was a good thing because she was late. Well, almost late.

Leave it to a routine Starfleet shuttle drop off, which on any other day would have been on time -- even early. But today, her first day on the ship, and it was late. And that would have not been a problem except she had been scheduled to meet the ship’s counselor right after arrival, and if she did not hurry up running down the corridors, she was going to be late.

Not that she wanted to be there. The thought of such a meeting filled her with dread and anger. Yet another person to yak to about the things she did not want to yak about.

Lara was barreling around the corners so fast that she almost ran past the office of Vol Tryst. She stopped herself and backtracked a few steps. Taking a deep breath, she let out a long sigh, and then took a minute to get her breathing under control.

When she was almost calm, but before she had time to think about it, she reached over and tapped the chime to the door.

“Uhh... come in.” Lara heard, and without hesitation, stepped on in.

Into an empty Counselor’s office.

There was a sofa, some chairs, pillows and a replicator. Books a plenty and some select pieces of artwork , but no Counselor.

“Hmph.” Lara expressed aloud. So much for being late.

A Betazoid man stood...or rather, hung, just above and in front of the door she’d just entered. Upside down was the Lieutenant, with still perfectly styled in place and not free-hanging, and a book in his hands and a ridiculous smile.

Looking up to the ceiling, Lara saw the ropes attached to rings from which Vol’s feet were hooked into. This also accounted for Vol’s current attire, which was gymnastic through and through. Also, quite unprofessional and un-Counselor like.

Lara liked this guy already. There was something spunky about him and his choice of reading…position, something that made her briefly wonder if he liked shuttle diving. It was something that she had not done in ages, and right about now, it sounded like a lot of fun.

“G’day Lieutenant. Allow me to be the first to welcome you aboard the USS Sera, my name is Vol Tryst, Lieutenant, and I am the ship’s---”

“Counselor,” Lara interrupted, really trying hard to be polite to the first person she was meeting on this ship. After all, love or hate counselors, he was just doing his job. “Are you going to be up there for much longer?”

“Care to join me?” Vol smiled.

“...No,” Lara declined, wondering what in the alpha quadrant had20she gotten herself into.

Vol sighed. “Very well.” He snapped his book shut and with a short flick of his wrist gently tossed it part way across the room. It landed right on top of a pillow with a small plop. Clearly, it was a well practiced move, as was Vol’s swift and smooth removal from his rings. He gracefully stood up, though he took a moment to allow his body to reorient itself, especially as the blood was draining from his head.

Lara watched this entire process and briefly wondered whose benefit it was for. She decided both. Him because he must actually enjoy it. Her because he was trying to put her at ease. And she had to admit, it was working. He was no monster.

Vol walked over to the replicator. He looked over at her, but nodded his head at the replicator.

“Sure,” she said, cautiously walking over to a chair, but not sitting down. “Mint tea.”

He nodded again and then placed the order for her drink, as well as one for himself of the same order. Vol picked up both drinks and walked over to Lara. He handed her the tea and then indicated with his now free hand that she should find a place to sit down and make herself comfortable.

Choosing a chair for himself, he added, “I promise, there are no hidden microphones or scanners in here. Just me and my tea.”

Lara raised her eyebrows. “It’s nice to know that I am not paranoid or delusional, that she” Lara said, referring to the odious psychiatrist Alyce Haschen, “really did do such things.”

“It’s all in your record.”

“Which you’ve had time to read?” Lara had never seen the file, but she had to imagine that just from the last six months alone, it had to be a massive set of documents.

“Enough of it,” he admitted, taking a final sip of his drink before setting it down for the moment.

A beat passed without any more elaboration, which was not what Lara had expected. She titled her head before saying, “...and?”

“Sorry?” Vol set down his cup of tea from his lips.

“My record.”

“What of it?”

“You... you don’t have any questions, or comments.”

“What kinds of comments and questions were you expecting of me?”

“Everyone else wanted to know what happened. They wanted to pry into every detail of my life. They somehow thought that if they knew everything, then they could solve all of my problems. Poof. Gone. Just like that.”

“I’m not them,” Vol replied in a neutral, calm tone.

“So I have noticed,” Lara candidly admitted.

“And even if I knew everything, I cannot solve your problems. So I gain nothing by asking you, or even trying to order you, to tell me about things which you have no intention of revealing.”

Not sure of what to make of his answer, a perplexed look fell across Lara’s face. She looked down at her tea for a moment before taking a sip. Still looking into her cup, she asked, “Is this some kind of psychological trick to get me to talk?”

“Would you feel better if I said yes?”


“Again, what were you expecting of me?” A slight smile crept on to Vol’s lips as he articulated the words he knew she was thinking. “That I would be a monster? That I would antagonize you?”

“But that’s what you do.” It was clear that she meant the profession and not him personally.

“It’s what they did, not what I do. It’s not who I am.” Although there was a gap between the two chairs where they sat, he leaned forward, making his next comment more intimate and less clinical. “I can only help you when you’re ready to talk about it, whatever it is, and when you’re ready to work through the pain, I’ll be hear to listen.”

Lara looked up from her cup and looked Vol straight in the eye as she said, “But that’s just it, Counselor, I don’t want to lose the pain.”

He nodded curtly and then replied, “Then let me give you one piece of advice. At the moment, there is nothing that I can do to make things better for you. All I can do is listen. But believe me when I say that the pain you’re feeling is not permanently attached to anything you believe it to be. Losing the pain does not mean losing the memories of whatever it is you are trying so hard to hold on to.”

“So, that’s it?” Lara asked.

Vol finished his tea and got up to replace the cup onto the replicator. “That’s it, unless you’ve reconsidered my offer to hang from the ceiling?”

Lara titled her head and opened her mouth to say something, but then didn’t for she really did not know what to say to such an offer. Lara got up out of the chair and moved to exit. As the doors hissed open, she turned back to Vol as she had a thought and an answer.

“If ever you decide to try playing racquetball, or something a little more adventurous, up there,” Lara eyes indicated the ceiling. “Give me a call, that’s something I’ll have to see... if not partake in.”

Vol smiled, and nodded. “Certainly, Lieutenant.”

Lieutenant Vol Tryst
USS Serendipity NCC 2012


Lieutenant Lara Valera Ryn
Science Officer
USS Serendipity NCC 2012

796: He Walks With a Purpose: Two

by Jariel Camen
…continued from part one…


Once again, Jariel was caught in a vision, only this time it was at the call of the Prophets themselves, not one of the orbs. A female, in the form of his long lost mother, approached him, smiling, and caressing his face with her hands.

“The Jariel is welcomed home.”

“Home?” He asked.

“You have done as we asked, and returned to us.”

Jariel laughed, “You mean, I am no longer with Zanh Liis, and you are pleased?”

“Correct, you have been restored to the proper path.”

Jariel’s stomach lurched, and he as if he would be ill. Whatever reasons existed in this time for he and Liis to choose separate paths were theirs alone. They certainly had nothing to do with getting back into the good graces of the Prophets. Every attempt he ever made to please them had brought him nothing but pain.

“And your love, Fleur Le Marc, shall be rewarded for helping you see the proper path, as we promised.”

Jariel paused, not sure he understood what was just said. “I beg your pardon? You promised her a reward?”

“If she placed herself between you and Zanh Liis, and restored you to our good graces.”

“You think this all your doing don’t you? That everything that has happened in my life to lead me to where I am now is the result of your clever schemes. What is it that makes you so insecure? Why is it you need my loyalty, praise and obedience so much?”

It had bothered him for years. Why beings so powerful felt the need to be worshiped if they were to share their love. Was it not enough for them to have the power to help Bajor? For all Camen had done for Bajor and his friends in his lifetime, he had never once expected anyone to drop to a knee and sing his praises to the masses.

“We only humbly ask you to spread our word, to the people of Bajor. That is all.” The Prophet said.

“The word of life? Of hope? Of salvation? Tell me, where was the salvation for my sister, Relanna? Did she call to you for your help?”

“She is blessed. She walks with the Prophets now, Jariel.”

The Prophet stepped aside, and a woman stepped forward. His sister, fully grown, smiling softly, and beautiful beyond any words.

Seeing her smiling face brought Camen nothing but sadness.

“It was not her time.” He said, his voice weak and cracking. “She never had a chance at life.”

“She is to be envied, Jariel.”

“Envied?” He approached Relanna, but dared not touch her. “When will I get to hear about her first time falling in love? Who will stand beside her, when she takes a fine man’s hand in marriage? When will I get to hold her newborn child for the first time, and tell them they are as beautiful as their mother?”

“You should not let your own selfish concerns prevent you from embracing the gift she has received. You will have that gift as well, the gift of our love, not that your path is corrected.”

Jariel stepped back, away from his sister, and directed his words to the Prophets.

“And you believe that now that I am with Fleur, my rebellious streak, and ‘selfish concerns’ as you call them, will end, and I will simply bow at your feet as you always wished I would?”

As angry as he had been for years, at all that they had done to disrupt his attempts to build a life with Liis, the idea that they had dragged an innocent such as Fleur into their scheme absolutely enraged him.

“You do realize I chose to be with her of my own free will? I fell in love with her just for simply who she was, not because of anything you did. Her love is unconditional and sincere, for myself and Bajor. Perhaps it would do you well to learn from her.”

As the pieces fell into place in Jariel’s mind, he wondered honestly if the Prophets had even followed through on any “promises” to help her.

When she left the Alchemy, it was with the understanding that Jariel could never return her affections. It was not until Camen returned to Bajor, and fell in love with her all over again, that the two of them became a couple, and that was a change in him that the Prophets had no hand in whatsoever.

If anything, Jariel believed, Fleur had abandoned the instructions of the Prophets and left Jariel behind because she truly believed he would be happier without her in his life. His happiness was all that mattered to her, no matter what happened to her own life.

That only made him love her more.

A sense of peace washed over his heart and soul, as he realized just how loved and blessed he truly was. Perhaps if he left Bajor, they would take his voice again, as they did before, but none of it mattered. He knew Fleur would always be at his side, regardless of anything else.

They would have each other on the Sera, beautiful young Tress, and everyone else around them who loved them exactly as they were. Camen would always have the memories of his sister and be at peace with them. He was not about to let those memories be used to manipulate him. Relanna would never have wished for that.

The arrogance of the Prophets made no difference to him anymore. For the first time in his life, he had everything he needed, and could ask for nothing more.

Camen approached Relanna. “There was a time, sister, when I believed everyone lost on Bajor would be reunited here. But I just don’t trust that anymore. I haven’t for a long time. So I’m going to live my life, for all it’s worth, and make whatever choices bring me joy. If we meet again, so be it. If not, so be it. I will always love you with all my heart, all the same.”

The anger in him melted away, his heart rate slowed…

…and suddenly, he was returned to Bajor. He heard the sound of birds chirping and leaves rustling in the breeze outside the Temple. Camen’s eyes focused, and he looked around, seeing that he was indeed back and no longer in their realm. However, his moment of peace was short-lived, and he immediately found himself in their presence again.

“How did you do that?”

“Do what?” Jariel asked.

“You left of your own free will.”

“I did?” The news was as shocking to Camen as it was to the Prophet. He recalled his previous conversation, and brought the subject of Fleur up once again.

“You are never to contact her again, I demand it. She is not a puppet to be toyed with for your amusement.”

“So be it. We no longer require her assistance. Our goals are already accomplished.”

Camen did not even hear the Prophets words. The peace in his soul brought him a comfort that they never could, or ever would. Once again the vision began to fade, and Camen realized that somehow he could control the vision, by letting go of his anger. He turned towards the Prophet to speak, and by his own free will, the vision once again solidified around him.

“I don’t know how, but I can control this.”

“You.” Camen continued, with unwavering confidence in himself. “Will never, ever interfere with my life again. I know down there on Bajor is a woman who loves me with all she is, for exactly what I am, and I know now I love her as well. This time I can give all of myself to her, and that is all I need.”

The Prophet’s features turned dark. “Do not make us start all over again. Do not make us take your voice again.”

“You cannot. It is you, now, who are silenced.”

Camen let his heart fill with peace, and shut the Prophets out. Once again he found himself on Bajor. He felt their pull, trying to bring him back, but he prevented it. They would never speak to him again, unless he wished it.

He ran from the room, to the nearest transporter.

“The Orphanage at Altaan.” He ordered, jumping onto the pad. The transport cycle seemed to take forever. The orphanage took shape around him, and he spun around, searching for Fleur. She was as she always was at this time of the day, working on lunch for the children in the kitchen.

He ran, with a purpose, inside and to her. She heard his footsteps approaching, and looked up into his eyes. The mere sight of him made her heart race.

“Fleur.” He gasped, trying to catch his breath.

“Yes, Camen?” She sang the name, more than spoke it, and wondered why he appeared to be so desperate to find her.

“Fleur, I am in love with you.”

She reached out, and twisted one of the beautiful dark curls of hair upon his head around her fingers.

“And I am in love with you, Jariel Camen.”

“How can I show you I love you with all my heart, that I belong only to you, Fleur?”

Whatever had happened to him this morning had left him clearly desperate to express to her once again how much he loved her, and Fleur was not about to stop him. She closed her eyes, and he closed the gap between them. Camen pressed his lips to hers, and she savored his kiss. The scent, the taste, left no doubt Jariel Camen was hers.

-=That Evening=-

“Are you sure you will not come with us, Azalea? Tress will miss you so. I am sure I place could be found for you in the Sickbay.”

Fleur stood with Jariel, Tress and their luggage on the transporter pad. They had said their goodbyes to the children at the orphanage, and been accompanied by Timal and Azalea Adams to the transporter hub. High above, the Federation transport ship awaited their arrival, before it would depart for Earth.

Gillan Pace had said his farewell, as best as he could through the tears, back at the orphanage as well.

“I know Fleur, I think I will just remain here for now, and see where Bajor and Starfleet take me. I promise I’ll record a message for Tress every week, so she does not miss me too badly."

Fleur wanted to protest further, but Jariel suggested that it was best to let the Doctor follow her own path, when she felt it was clear to her.

Now was not the time to discuss why the doctor would prefer not to serve aboard the Serendipity.

Timal stepped forward, and placed a kiss on the forehead of Fleur and Tress both. He then slowly shuffled to the left, lifting his head up to look at Jariel. He extended a hand toward Jariel that contained a slightly crumpled scroll tied with a red ribbon.

“Please give this to Zanh Liis,” Timal asked.

“Of course,” Jariel said, slipping the scroll into his pocket. “May I ask what it is?”

“No," Timal answered slowly. "You may not."

Jariel looked disappointed, but Timal grinned.

“Have you no sense of humor, Camen? I have had the chance to see you happy and in love at last. I only ask Zanh Liis for the chance to see her the same way as well, before an old Vedek leaves this life.”

“You have my word, it will be done.” Camen hugged Timal, hoping it was not the last time he would do so.

He stepped back onto the transporter pad, and Timal and Adams stepped back clear.

Camen nodded to the operator, who checked the coordinates one last time.

“Wait!” A voice called from far off.

Fleur looked into the distance, where she saw Gillan Pace struggling with a duffel too large for him to carry, running as fast as he could towards the transport hub.

“Stop!” Jariel shouted at the operator. He stepped off the pad and rushed to meet Pace, who dropped the duffel in exhaustion when Camen reached him.

“Jariel, sir,” Pace huffed through labored breaths. “I cannot say goodbye to Tress, or you, or Fleur. Is it too late?” His eyes pleaded.

Jariel lifted Pace’s bag and slung it over his own shoulder. “It is never too late. Come, let us go to your sister.”

Pace took his place with his family on the transporter pad, and Jariel once again nodded to the operator.

Bajor faded from view, and the interior of the Starfleet transport vessel took shape around them. They took their seats and watched out the window as the vessel leapt to warp, on course for Earth.

Jariel Camen
Ship’s Chaplain, once again
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

NRPG: Bravo, Jariel. Bravo. ~ZL

795: He Walks With a Purpose: One

by Jariel Camen
Two Mornings After Permission
Soundtrack: Counting Blue Cars, by Dishwalla


-=The Sanctuary at Altaan, Bajor=-

The soft red flash from the comm unit that Micah Samson had set up continued to annoy him, as he tried to deny its existence. Jariel Camen tried to fall back asleep but his subconscious knew it was there, and he knew he could not rest until he dealt with it. He cracked an eye open to see that there was indeed a message waiting for him.

The previous day had been a joyous one, but exhausting none the less. The Child Protection Ministry had made little resistance to the adoption petition submitted by Jariel Camen and Fleur Le Marc. Everyone involved wanted nothing more than the ugliness surrounding Gillan Tress’s abduction by former Vedek Ram to simply go away, and it was decided the quickest way to do that would be to approve the request of Jariel and Le Marc.

There were papers to be signed and standard instructions to be given before the adoption could be finalized, but by evening meal the previous day, Tress’s signs of [[mama and papa]] were more then simple expressions of affection. In the eyes of Bajoran and Federation law, Tress was now legally their child.

Similar papers were also submitted for Gillan Pace, giving Camen and Fleur official guardianship of the boy. They would be able to protect him legally if need be. Pace, however, had decided to stay behind on Bajor to continue his studies with Vedek Timal.

Camen had accepted the decision, knowing it was Pace’s to make, even if he was a bit disappointed.

Camen recalled the conversation he had had with Fleur the previous evening, as they gathered what things they wished to return to the ship with.

-=Flashback, the previous evening=-

“Are you sure you are all right with this?” Camen asked once again. “Just say the word and we will stay on Bajor if you wish. Or return to France.”

Camen’s feelings were clear. He loved Fleur, and he knew the crew of the Serendipity were his family. A family he wanted to welcome Tress into. What he wanted to be sure of was Fleur’s comfort with returning to the ship. If she were unsettled by the idea of Jariel and Zanh Liis sharing the same ship, Fleur had every right to say so, and Camen would stay with her anywhere she wished to be.

“Camen, you have told me your heart is mine, and I trust your word with everything I am. If I cannot place my faith in your word and your love, then I have nothing to believe in, wherever I go.”

She smiled wistfully, thinking of friends back aboard the Sera. There was so much she wanted to tell them.

“I miss them too, Camen. Neither of us had friends and family like them growing up, and I wish to return to the ship as much as you do.”

Camen held a robe in his hand, prepared to fold it and place it into a duffle, when he paused, realizing amongst all that had happened lately, that there was still something Fleur did not know.

“Fleur, when the Alchemy came to Earth, and we were in Sickbay, Doctor Adams inadvertently let something slip, because she didn’t realize who I was.”

“Oh?” Fleur asked, stopping what she was doing and turning her full attention to him.

“Zanh Liis and Keiran O’Sullivan,” Jariel feared to speak the next words he needed to say. Not because it pained him to say them, but because he feared how Fleur might react to them. Would she believe Camen only loved her because he knew Zanh Liis was no longer on the market?

“What about them?” she prodded.

“They’re married.”

Fleur was silent for a moment. “Why did you not tell me?”

“Because I didn’t want you to think that was the only reason why I chose to be with you. You know I loved you long before the Alchemy arrived here to deal with the fever.”

“How does that make you feel? Knowing that they are married?” Fleur could not stand the idea of Keiran and Liis’ marriage causing Camen pain.

“Honestly? The knowledge that Zanh Liis is happy and loved brings me peace. It actually makes it easier for me to return to the ship, because it would have been difficult for me to be there with you if she were there alone. Because I wouldn’t want to…”

“Rub it in her face,” Fleur completed his thought.

“Basically, yes.” Fleur’s choice of words were crude, but summed up Camen’s feelings succinctly.

“And if she were alone?” Fleur asked.

Camen closed the distance between them and kissed her, choosing to answer her question with his passion rather than his words.

If there was even a scrap of doubt left in her, Jariel would erase it this evening. He fell back into the sheets with her, leaving whatever packing still needed to be done until the morning.


As she drifted to sleep, Camen slipped into the chair in front of the comm. unit. He had suddenly realized the bringing another child aboard a ship under the Security constraints of the Serendipity might not necessarily be something that would win easy approval. The Captain or Starfleet would have every right to use those reasons to deny Jariel’s return.

He typed out a brief message before heading to bed.

Captain Zanh,

With your permission, Fleur and I would like to return to the ship. We miss all of you, and would like to resume our duties aboard.

We’ve adopted a child Liis, an orphan from the Plains disaster. I know the tight reigns that Starfleet keeps on The Alchemy Project, so if this precludes you from allowing us to return, I understand completely.

Also, if you have any reasons, personal or otherwise, why you feel it would be better for us to remain here and not return, know that we will accept them without question.


Jariel was at ease with returning to the ship, but had no idea how Zanh Liis would feel about the matter or her new husband either, and each of them deserved the chance to say if they felt it best that the two couples not serve on the same ship.

He hit the send key, and slipped into the blankets of the old wooden bed beside Fleur, wrapping himself up around her, before drifting to sleep.

-=End flashback=-

He rubbed his eyes to force them to open fully, and quietly slipped back into the seat at the comm. unit. He checked back over his shoulder to see if he had awakened Fleur, and much to his pleasure saw that she was still asleep.

It was not even daylight yet, and the soft glow of the screen was all that illuminated the room as he checked on the message.

Two messages in fact. One he had expected, the other, he had not. Zanh Liis’s reply sat waiting for him, as did a second message encoded with the name “Vedek Selivere.”

The message from the Captain was short and to the point, as he would have expected.

Come home. ~ZL

The second message was not quite as short, but far more cryptic than Jariel cared for.

I’m cashing in my favor. First Meal before you leave. –Selivere

He dashed off a quick note to Fleur so she would not wonder where he was when she awakened, and quickly gathered up some clothes to wear.

Jariel couldn’t imagine how she found out he was leaving so quickly. Camen and Fleur themselves had only just decided in the last two days. Whatever it was that was so important to her that she needed to see him now, in person, had Jariel intrigued, and worried at the same time.

He donned the black clothing that he preferred to wear on the ship while providing counsel to the crew, and crept out of the room he shared with Fleur.

Jariel paused only once on the way out, to listen at the door of Azalea Adams quarters, where Tress was sleeping as well. There was nothing but silence to be heard, which is exactly what Camen hoped for.

By the time he arrived at the Selivere residence, the Vedek was already setting out First Meal for her husband and child. Camen rapped gently on the door of the old wooden house, so as to not alarm anyone inside.

The sound of footsteps approaching the door told him that indeed the Selivere family was already awake. He stepped back, and the ancient hand carved door creaked open slowly.

“Camen,” She said warmly. “Please come in.”

Jariel stepped inside and looked around at the features of the home. It was small and cozy, keeping in place all the simple features of classic Bajoran architecture that it held when it was built. There were a few modern conveniences such as a communications terminal and replicator that were tucked away into the construction so seamlessly that one hardly even noticed they were there.

“Jariel Camen, this is my husband, Draala, and our son Milon.”

“A pleasure,” Jariel said politely. He forewent offering his hand to Draala, since the man already had both his hands quite full wrangling the child.

“Won’t you join us please, everything is ready,” Draala offered.

Camen took a seat at the table, and a plate full of food. The conversation was lighthearted and polite as they ate. Apparently Draala was in construction, and met Vedek Selivere during a project he was assigned to at the Vedek Assembly.

Vedek Selivere was complaining on a daily basis that her office was too cold, and each day Draala was sent to check on the heating. He would pretend to fix the problem, knowing full well that he was in fact doing nothing.

This went on for about a week before the Vedek caught wise, and asked if Draala intended to ask her out for dinner, or continue to use the heating as an excuse to see her every day.

Camen in return shared the story of how he had come to meet Fleur on Deep Space 23, and their happenstance meeting here when he had returned to Bajor. As the plates emptied, Selivere ask for a moment alone with Camen.

“It has been a pleasure,” Draala said, as he lifted their son up from his seat.

“Thank you so much for the meal,” Jariel replied graciously. He waited for Draala to clear the room, before spinning on Vedek Selivere. “You did not ask me all this way to swap love stories, my friend.”

“No, I did not, Camen. Look, I know you are due to depart soon, to go back to the Federation.”

“News travels fast.”

“There is little surrounding the life of Jariel Camen that stays a secret long here.”

Camen crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair. “And my leaving concerns someone.”

Selivere blushed. “Little gets past you, does it Vedek Jariel?”

“I assume the Assembly knows that the lovely young Vedek and I been friends for years, and that I have a soft spot for children. So in their wisdom they felt you would be the best choice to submit their request.”

Selivere sighed, and blushed a little deeper. “They want you back. The Assembly needs you, Bajor needs you and the Prophets need you. Think of how much good you could do here.”

“I cannot be a crutch for Bajor to lean on. If I have learned anything from Fleur Le Marc and what she did for the people of the Plains, it is that our people have no greater strength than faith in themselves. They need to trust in that, not wait for the Prophets to cure all their ills.”

“Camen, will you at least consult the orb, before you go?”

Camen sat for a long while, staring out the window as Selivere waited for him to answer.

“Why not.”

-=Two Hours later=-

Camen stood before the box that contained The Orb of Prophecy and Change, wondering if he would regret what he was about to do. He was finding solid ground in his life for the first time, and the Prophets had a history of upending his every attempt at finding peace.

There were, however, things that needed to be settled, if not for his own sake, then for Fleur and Tress. He had not just a mate, but a family to protect and care for. If he was ever going to truly find peace, he would need to know the Prophets would, at the very least, leave him and his family alone.

With a heavy sigh, Camen reached out, and opened the orb box.


This vision began, and Jariel Camen found himself in a large office. The architecture was Cardassian, as was the man seated alone behind the large desk in the room. Gul Tryall, the Cardassian responsible for the death of Jariel Camen’s family, stared across the table at him, hands folded together.

He approached the man, and waited for the vision to take form, but neither of them spoke. They merely stared at each other. Jariel felt nothing, not fear, not anger. This was, after all, nothing more than a vision.

An echo reverberated through the room, as the door to the chamber opened. Dressed in black from head to toe, and emitting a roar of rage to wake the dead, Zanh Liis charged into the room, wielding an elongated knife over her head.

She charged at the Gul, and lifted the blade to strike him down. Jariel stopped her arm in mid-stroke.

“It’s all right, Liis.” He whispered gently.

She growled and tried to free herself from his grip.

“I don’t need this.”

“But,” Her face contorted into an expression of complete and utter agony, and her voice was soft and gravely, as if she were speaking the name of the most heinous crime imaginable. .“He hurt you.”

“This is not what I need, Liis. This was never what either of us needed. Please, go home, be at rest.”

She resisted again, with less strength.


Jariel felt his hand close on itself, as she vanished from his view. Once again he was alone with the Gul.

“I have nothing to tell you.” Gul Tryall said.



As quickly as it had begun, the vision was over. Jariel closed the orb box, and stared off in disbelief. There was nothing for him here. Had there ever been?

“You have nothing more to say?” Camen shouted at the ceiling. As he did, the room around him began to blur, as he was swept away to the Celestial Temple.

Jariel Camen
On Bajor

794: Going Home

by *Keiran O’Sullivan
Awhile after Circling in the Water

-=Sickbay, USS Serendipity=-

“What do I need to know to take care of her?”

McKay looked over the top of his monitor at Keiran O’Sullivan, who was standing in the doorway of his office.

“That depends, do you mean in regards to the immediate concern of her eyes or the overall spectrum of everything that goes into making her Zanh Liis? Because I can answer that question in 10 seconds or 10 days.”

“The lady requested I take her home, which suits me since I was takin’ her there an’a’way whether she asked or not. Immediate health concerns will do me fine, yeah?”

“Well, if you just give me a few moments, the bandages can come off. I’ll have some protective glasses replicated, she’ll need to wear for a few days. Just limit her exposure to direct sunlight to no more than an hour at a time for at least two days.”

As determined as Keiran was to get her off the ship, he was equally determined to follow each of McKay’s instructions to the letter. There was no way he was going to do anything that would compromise her care. “How will we know when she’s ready to drop the glasses?”

“When she can step outside without squintin’ like a possum at noon. I can’t give you an exact time. When the pain from exposure to light lessens, she’ll know she’s ready.” The LMH paused.

“I can’t tell ya how glad I am to know the missus is goin’ to be out of harm’s way for a bit, because no one deserves to spend as much time here as she has the last few weeks. Y’all enjoy yourselves down there. Doctor’s orders.” McKay cast his eyes back down at the computer, where he was entering notes in the files.

Keiran was ready to go and took two steps back towards Liis before he paused, and spun back around into the doorway.

“You really care about her, don’t ya Doc?”

“That’s my job, son.”

“No, that’s not what I mean. I mean, you honestly care about her well-bein’, and whether she’s happy or not. Don’t tell me that’s just a programmin’ response.”

“This is how they designed me. I don’t know how else to be.”

“Well, we need more like you, Dalton.” Keiran said. Truth be told he had seen more people who were supposed to be Liis’ friends or colleagues cause her more grief then she deserved to put up with. Knowing people like McKay were there for Liis when she needed them would help Keiran sleep at night.

He returned to her bedside, and told her the Doctor would be out in a moment to take the bandages off. Then she would be free to go.

She was quiet as they waited, just holding his hand. Keiran listened as the beeping of her heart monitor slowed down to normal as he sat beside her. Just knowing he was there relaxed her.

McKay strolled up to the bedside when he was ready. Keiran held her hand fast, not intending to let go and McKay made no indication that he should leave. The Doctor took a final scan of Zanh Liis, and checked her vital signs.

“Well let’s unwrap this present and see what Santa left us, shall we?”

“Probably a lump of, what was it? Fossilized fuel?” Liis commented, smiling and trying to lighten the moment. Keiran grumbled softly beside her in response to hearing her put herself down, even if he knew she was just teasing.

He raised her hand and placed a kiss upon it. “That’d be coal, darlin’.”

“Well, I’m just a Bajoran Starfleet captain. Your Earth traditions are strange, and scary to me…”

T’Dara stood ready at the bedside, antibiotic drops in hand in case there were any signs of infection. She also had the newly replicated pair of dark glasses to shield the Captain’s eyes until they were healed.

“Computer, cut illumination ninety-five percent.” McKay ordered. There was a faint hum in the room as the lights went down to a level that Liis’s eyes would be able to tolerate. Keiran squinted to see her face, as his own eyes attempted to adjust. McKay simply went right about the task of removing the bandages, as his own eyes adjusted automatically and instantly to the change.

“I can’t see,” Liis announced, as soon as the bandages were off. She squeezed Keiran’s hand tighter and turned towards him, looking desperately for his face.

“Five minutes, just give it five minutes Zanh Liis for your vision to come into focus.” McKay pleaded.

“You will need these, Captain.” T’Dara placed the glasses’ temples into Liis’s right hand, and closed her fingers around them. Liis felt for a hold, and Keiran quickly grabbed onto her hand and helped guide the glasses up to her face.

“Computer, increase lighting to fifty percent of maximum,” McKay ordered. Liis turned her head towards Keiran, and noted that the shape of his face was beginning to come into focus.

“Well, how horrible do I look?” She asked. Keiran chuckled, knowing the vain comment was only made because Zanh Liis did not have a vain bone in her body.

“Ya look fine. Very stylish. I think the doctor knows your taste well.”

“Well, I wasn’t about to put Zanh Liis into Jackie O glasses,” McKay commented, as he attempted to scan her eyes, despite the fact she had turned her head away from him and towards Keiran. “We already discussed what will happen if she turns me over to Lair Arie and I’m about as eager as a carnivore during Lent for that to happen.”

“Is she free to go?” Keiran asked.

“I don’t see why not,” McKay said, flipping his scanner closed.

“Enjoy your vacation.” T’Dara said, bowing slightly to Keiran as she backed away from the table.

“But, but wait. Wait, Keiran. I need to get…” Liis protested.

“Make me a list, and I’ll beam back up and get it mehself. Only place you are goin’ is home.” He helped her up to a sitting position.

“Show me the way?” She asked softly. Were it anyone else she probably would have refused any help at all and somehow have made it unharmed to the transporter room anyway, simply because she was Zanh Liis.

Keiran linked his arm in hers and guided her out of Sickbay. He kept her between him and the wall, so she could feel her way along it.

“Good to see you up and around, Captain.” A crewman said as he passed them in the corridor.

“Thank ya kindly.” Keiran answered for her.

“I’m just another person heading home from Sickbay. I don’t see what the big deal is.” Liis shrugged.

“They all love you.” Keiran said flatly. It was blindingly obvious to him what Liis could never see, whether her eyes were healthy or not.

“And what about you?”

“I adore you with everything I am, Liis,” Keiran said, more sure about it than anything else in his life.

“Good.” She was now grinning from ear to ear.

“Door,” he warned, holding her up and waiting for the entrance to the transporter room to hiss open. “Step up, darlin’,” he helped her up onto the pad. “I’ll be right there.”

O’Sullivan excused himself, and the Ensign at the control panel stepped aside. Keiran punched in the coordinates of their home on the surface with his right hand, the exact latitude and longitude of the front door committed to memory. His left hand was equally busy, bringing up the security camera records from Sickbay to see whom exactly had knocked him out with the hypo.

“Blane,” he mumbled.

The door to the room hissed open once again, and Commander Salvek hurried in, hoping to catch the Captain before she beamed down.

“Captain,” Salvek began.

“The Captain is on vacation, Commander,” Keiran warned.

“I have no request, merely one thing to say before I depart for Vulcan.”

“What is it?” Liis asked, her voice sincere with concern.

Salvek held up his hand, making the Vulcan “V” towards Zanh Liis as she stood on the transporter pad. Through the haze she could manage to make out his motion. “Live long and prosper, Zanh Liis.”

“Live long, and prosper, Salvek.” She said back, returning the hand gesture to him.

“Commander,” Salvek said, addressing O’Sullivan. He then backed slowly from the room.

Keiran did not understand why Salvek had been so insistent on getting that one salutation to Liis before he left, but Liis knew why immediately.

Salvek, she knew, was not sure he was coming back.

“Energize,” Keiran ordered.

A moment later the cold interior of the Starship was replaced with the warm outdoors of Ireland. Liis tucked her concerns for Salvek away at the door, knowing his well being was in the hands of his people, his family, and the future, where it belonged.

There was nothing in the world she was going to concern herself with other than Keiran O’Sullivan, from this moment until the one when they returned to duty.

He opened the door for her, and her continually improving vision allowed her to see the beautiful interior before her. Everything was exactly as it had been when they had rushed off to rescue Lair Arie.

“Welcome home, Liis,” Keiran said, guiding her across the threshold. She paused in the doorway and wrapped her arms around his neck, and he leaned in to kiss her.

*Keiran O’Sullivan
On Part Two of his Honeymoon

793: Circling in the Water

by -=/\=- Zanh Liis
Eighteen hours after With Gratitude
Soundtrack: Gravity, by Embrace


-=Sickbay, USS Serendipity=-

"I wish you hadn't had to sedate her. Again." Keiran rumbled softly. He was still smarting over the fact that someone had done the same to him in order to not carry out the assessment and treatment of his minor injuries; but more so to keep him under control.

*I'll be lookin' into just who it was made that decision...*
Keiran thought, as he waited for Dalton McKay to respond.

"The lady left me no choice!" McKay whispered back. "She kept tryin' to get the bandages off her eyes. She kept insistin' that we take her to you, even though you were still doin' your best Sleepin' Beauty impression." He shook his head and sighed. "Newlyweds."

"That's right, we are that," Keiran nodded, determined blue eyes shining upon the photonic physician. "And you mind that the moment it's safe for me to do so, I'm takin' my wife outta here and straight back to Ireland."

"You'll get no argument from me on that." McKay held his hands up in a gesture of genuine surrender. "Holdin' her back would only serve to risk further injury, to her, and to me. She might just up and let that little Lair kid turn me into the fourth Jonas Brother once and for ALL."

"She could do worse, right?" Keiran teased, allowing himself a small laugh and slapping a hand down onto McKay's shoulder. "Thanks, truly. For ev'ra'thin' you've done for her."

"That's what we're here for. And what I'll be there for. I warn ya, O'Sullivan, I'll be beamin' down to check in on your wife at least once a day during your vacation."

"Understood." Keiran could handle that level of interruption if he had to, just so long as he got to take Liis as far away from her job and Starfleet as he could. *Just for a little while.*

Both men looked up as Liis stirred in her sleep, groaning softly before exhaling a slow and weary sigh.

McKay put his finger to his lips to preempt further conversation, and Keiran quietly returned to the chair where he'd been keeping vigil at her side ever since he'd awakened.

It pained him to see her like this, and he wanted nothing more than to see her smiling and whole, again. "Such a sad sigh, a chuisle," he whispered. "What's goin' on in there?"

His hand grazed her forehead, and he brushed her hair back gently with his fingertips, wishing he could rescue her from whatever it was she was fighting alone in her nightmares, even as dark memories replayed in Liis' mind in full depth and clarity.

-=Flashback: Temporal Investigations Headquarters:
Shortly before the explosions took place=-

The day was going as well as could be expected so far.

Salvek's inquiry was over, and he was going to go to Vulcan.

TC and Keiran, though both looking tired as they'd exchanged glances with her in passing between appointments, seemed to be holding up all right.

Even better, it was almost over.

One more formality, they'd told her, then she'd be free to go. She only had to speak to a TI shrink briefly before she would be allowed to return to her ship.

The moment she returned to her ship, she'd put someone else in command, and then she'd be on her way home.

The thought of going back to the house in Cork with no one but Keiran painted a smile upon her face; a smile she was still wearing as she was shown to the doorway of one of the medical exam rooms and then left alone in that doorway by the ensign who had escorted her.

The doors opened and she saw nothing but darkness beyond them.

She stepped in, and called for the lights.

The moment the door closed behind her and the lights came up- curiously enough in that order- Zanh Liis knew that she'd been had.

She recognized his voice before she saw his face: a face that, in her experience always wore one of only two possible expressions. One was a sterile, almost alien lack of emotion, and the second a bewildered, haunting empathy.

Apparently, there was also a third option, of which up until this moment in time she had been completely unaware.

Her mind swerved in a violent one hundred and eighty degree turn. Her stomach thundered with the intensity of a summer storm, warning that it was in clear danger of throwing itself into reverse.

She swallowed hard.

She stopped where she stood, frozen, even as the man before her held out his hand in a sweeping gesture of welcome and indicated the only chair in the room.

"Have a seat, Captain Zanh."

Klaxons wailed inside her head. She had been through psych evaluations over the years- by this point in too many ways and places to keep track of.

She had also conducted more than her fair share of interrogations in her time.

This was not to be a psych eval.

It was to be an interrogation.

"I'd rather stand, Doctor Brody." Liis took up position with her back against the closed doors. Her aim was to keep the man who would attempt to overpower her mentally in the corner in which he now stood; indicating to him that she may well be trapped inside this small locked room for the moment- but then again, so was he.

"I'd rather you sat."

"I know." Zanh said, squaring her shoulders. "That's why I'm standing."

He made notations on the PADD he held fast in his hands, his features never altering, maintaining that 'third option' look which Liis did not recall ever having seen him wear when she'd worked with him so closely in the alternate time.

That look could only be described as pure and intensive loathing, the origin of which she couldn't begin to account for, since from his perspective as far as she knew they'd never met before.

"You know who I am." He stated, eyes darting up toward her for an instant and then going back toward the PADD. He decided to make use of the chair himself; a clear attempt Zanh surmised to put her off her guard, but she would have none of it.

"Yes." She felt unseen eyes glaring at her, closing in all around her like sharks circling their prey in the water.

She glanced over toward the darkened glass panel in the wall behind Brody, raised two fingers to her brow and saluted.

"Afternoon, folks. How's the reception? Getting every word in there? Or should I speak up a little louder when I offer my one word answers?"

Brody ignored her, and Liis tilted her head down toward him.

"Because you ought to know, Brody, that's all you're going to get out of me. One. Word. Answers."

His expression changed into a snarl, his lips drooping downward.

*Ah, * Liis thought, *expression option four is now accounted for. Perhaps he really is Human.*

"In that case, I will try to use small words. Keep my questions simple. To the point. Easy to understand." Brody droned, taking a clear shot at her intelligence. Zanh would have allowed herself a laugh at this, only suddenly the idea crossed her mind that perhaps Keiran had already been exposed to an interrogation of this sort from the Brody of this time- and would have been less prepared, and on his guard, than she was given her memories.

"She cracks, just a little." Brody remarked with satisfaction, misreading the look in her eyes.

"No." Zanh replied evenly, letting the word hang in the air between them and punctuating it with a direct stare. A hundred questions tangled in her mind. How had he ended up here? Why was he the one conducting this 'evaluation'? Who had sent him and...

She fought the urge to scowl, using all of her strength to keep her eyes from flashing fury as she asked herself another, much more upsetting question.

...had William Lindsay set her up?

"Let's cut to the chase." Brody set his PADD down upon his lap, folded his hands serenely and then, came the questions. "You experienced multiple facets of an Alternate Continuity Paradox."

"You retain memories from each of the different branches of space-time and their outcomes that you experienced."


"How many?"


"Several is not a number, Captain Zanh. The number."

Liis arched a brow, which he correctly construed as a refusal to answer.

He moved on.

"You experienced severe trauma and loss of people dear to you in those alternate lines."

Liis felt her chest tighten. There was a beat before she could force the word from her throat. "Yeah."

"Keiran O'Sullivan died. That's what your report said."


"And in the alternate line that he experienced, he indicated that you were the one who died instead."

"Oh?" Liis played dumb, a role which clearly did not suit her and only served to further irritate the psychiatrist.

"Zanh Liis you are wasting my time," Brody tapped a small stylus against the surface of the PADD he held, and Zanh then did something that pushed the man beyond his level of tolerance.

She smiled.

Brody was out of his chair an instant later and standing an inch from her face; so close she could feel the anger in his burning breath as he growled at her.

"You are behaving in a most unprofessional manner, Captain. If you do not comply with the requirements of this evaluation and answer my questions forthrightly, I will immediately recommend that you be suspended."

Liis didn't flinch. With measured calm and a continued stare of ice, she folded her good arm over her sling and actually leaned forward, closer to him.

She stood eye to eye with the man in height, but with his slight build and thin frame, she seemed the larger of the two of them without doubt. This time she uttered a two word sentence; one giving a clear and urgent warning.

"Back off."

"Or what, Zanh Liis?" Brody stood his ground. "Are you going to strike me? You're left handed. I wonder how much damage you can possibly do to me with the right."

He was intentionally provoking her, and as angry as Liis was and as bad as she wanted to punch his lights out in this moment, she thought of her crew and resisted.

What was more, she thought of her husband, and resisted. They had travel plans that he had his heart entirely set upon, and she would do nothing that would have her spending the rest of their allotted honeymoon time trying to put out the fire that striking Brody would start.

*I could do enough...* she thought, very nearly giving in to temptation. She stood as tall as she could.

"I have answered your questions, Doctor Brody," Liis snarled, teeth clenched. "If you have need of any more information as to what I remember or what I experienced, you're going to have to bring me up before a board and formally question my fitness for duty. That is what this is all about, isn't it? You don't think that I should remain in command of my ship."

Her unending glare finally began to unnerve him and Brody spun away, retreating to his chair. The room seemed to be getting smaller by the second. "I don't believe that anyone who retains memories of an Alternate Continuity Paradox should be in command of anything of greater consequence than a riding lawnmower." Brody answered coldly.

"And there it is." Liis said, shaking her head. "You are here with only one purpose, and that is to make me say something that's going to give you a reason to bring about that full board inquiry into my fitness to command."

She kept her voice low and her tone even. "But there's one thing that you didn't count on when you took that seat in the corner, hiding in the dark like the rat that you are. You didn't count on the fact that I know how to play this game better than you do, because I've a hell of a lot more experience at it."

For an instant, Liis thought she heard the sound of muffled voices on the other side of the wall, and she'd had quite enough of this charade.

"Is this how Starfleet treats its veteran officers now? Seeks to ensnare them with traps laid in the shadows, because those seeking to relieve a woman of her command don't have the integrity to stand before her and accuse her of insanity to her face?"

She walked over to the panel and stared directly into it, though all she could see was her own reflection in the shining surface.

"End this, Lassiter. End it now, or bring everything out into the light. I have no problem with answering charges that I'm unfit but I won't do it like this. Not with him, and not in a cage."

Liis turned away; her back to the panel, her eyes condemning Brody without a word. She soon heard an unfamiliar voice addressing him over his combadge, and she tilted her head, listening closely.

"Let her go," the voice ordered, over the sound of the doors unlocking. "It's over." Liis then heard several sets of footfalls retreating from another room nearby- another doorway.

Brody's only response to the order was to slap his badge, closing the channel.

He stood from his chair and came at her again, this time, speaking to her alone with no one listening in. Knowing that only she would hear his words emboldened him, and his tone was menacing. Threatening.

"I warn you, Zanh Liis, this is anything but over."

"What the hell happened to you here in this time, Brody?" She asked, sincerely wishing she knew and could understand.

"The Tucker Brody I knew really wanted to help people through his work, but that isn't all. The Tucker Brody I knew wasn't such an arrogant ass." She turned toward the doors, which parted as she approached. "I liked him a hell of a lot better than I like you."

-=End flashback=-

She tried once more to open her eyes, but found they were still bandaged shut. She wondered how long she'd been asleep, knowing that it must've taken sedatives to get her to finally give in to exhaustion over the desire she had to see her husband.

*My husband is here.*

Before she even detected the sound of his breathing, before she could isolate the faint, masculine scent of the cologne he liked to wear in the air around her, she knew that he was there.

He didn't have to speak, he didn't have to take a step for her to be sure. She was, simply, certain.


Lost in a waking nightmare of his own as he sat beside her, Keiran startled at the sound of her voice. She listened as he inhaled sharply in surprise, and then was warmed by the hint of a smile in his tone as he leaned close, caressing her cheek tenderly with the back of his hand.

"Hey there, you," he greeted her affectionately, "how'd you know I was here, eh? Did'ya hear me whisperin' to McKay moments ago? Or did somethin' else give me away?"

"I just," Liis reached up and grasped hold of his hand, clamping on tightly. "It's just...you.

He closed his eyes, thanking Heaven that she was awake at last. "I'd...best get the doctor."

He pulled away but she held him fast by the hand with surprising strength. "Wait," she said softly. "Kiss me?"

The words barely had the chance to leave her lips before his were upon them, and he kissed her in a way that conveyed a hundred emotions in the span of mere seconds.

"I love you too," she said in response, as she squeezed his hand again. Before she would let him go, she needed to make one more heartfelt plea. "Keiran, please,"

"An'a'thin'." He promised quickly, before she even voiced her request. "An'a'thin' you want."

"Take me home."

-=/\=- Zanh Liis
(Ready to break out of Sickbay to finish her honeymoon if that's what it takes)
Commanding Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

792: Egregious: Two

by Vol Tryst and Lair Kellyn
Soundtrack: Solace, by a-ha

...continued from part one...


"In here," Lair called around the corner, intent on continuing her packing as they talked if for no other reason than she simply had to keep moving.

"Commander." Vol greeted, his tone much cooler than Lair had ever heard it before.

"Counselor. So..." Lair hated to ask, but it was the reason she'd agreed to meet Vol after all. She had begun to regret making this arrangement with Arie. She was the parent and she knew best, that should've been enough.

Instead, she now faced Vol. who was looking away from her as her leaned against the opposing wall. rubbing his temples hard. Lair set down the sweater she was holding and began to wring her hands uncontrollably.

"She should go to Vulcan." Vol said.

Lair breathed in deeply. She held that breath for a good long time, uncertain that she'd have the strength once she released it to draw another.

"All right." She exhaled. "Thank you, Counselor."

Lair moved from her own bedroom to her daughter's in order to start packing Arie's things. She didn't care one way or another if Vol followed her.

He followed her.

She quickly whisked a Starfleet pack into her hand and set it down on the bed. Moving over to the corner of the room, she scooped up a pile of Arie's favourite clothing and headed back to the bed. She noticed, finally, that not only had Tryst chosen to follow her, what was more, had not yet left.

He resumed standing in the exact same position he'd taken in the other room, half-mindedly staring at her.

"Was there anything else you wanted to say to me, Counselor?"

A pause, before Vol threw caution to the wind.

"Why did you lie to her?"

That she was taken aback was an understatement. Vol could've hit her in the gut and still the words, and their insinuation, would be far worse. Lair blinked several times before finally forming the words,

"I. I wanted to protect her from..."

Now Vol moved his fingers to press against either side of his nose. He spoke again while exhaling,

"Although the right intention, wildly supported by your motherly instinct and shared by many mothers before you, a lie is still a lie."

Lair almost couldn't recognize the man in front of her and she soon came up with a potential explanation for his wounding words.

"Vol, I-I know that in your culture, lying is egregious. But, this is a unique and altogether different circumstance than you can imagine. I lied to---"

For the second time in an all too short a time span, Vol was beginning to lose his cool.

"Lair, none of that matters-" Vol insisted, as he looked upon her with cold eyes.

"None of it matters?" Kellyn interrupted, laughing once incredulously before folding her arms across her chest defensively. "None of it matters?"

"A lie is still a lie." Vol repeated evenly.

Kellyn clenched and unclenched her fists, and for a moment Vol wondered if she might not actually come at him swinging.

She swallowed hard, and returned to packing Arie's things for the trip.

Her refusal to hold still and address him directly now infuriated Vol. "Commander, is it too much to ask that you give me a moment of your undivided attention here? I am trying to tell you-"

"You are trying to tell me that I'm a liar and a terrible mother!" Kellyn's voice rose markedly in volume. "Well let me tell you something, Counselor Tryst. Not all of us have had the benefit of a dignified upbringing on a comfortable Federation world by parents who adored us."

Kellyn did not speak the words with jealousy that Vol had enjoyed the benefits of these things and she had not; rather in desperation to try to make him understand how she had ended up where she had in life, and what a battle it had been to get there.

"Some of us grew up in cold, damp caves, moving around all the time, while our parents cared more about planning their next blow to the Occupation forces than they did in making sure their children had eaten that day. Some of us grew up knowing that every time our parents looked at us we only reminded them of their worst mistakes. The only valuable lesson my parents ever taught me was how not to parent."

She was only getting started, but Vol had heard more than enough. "You are creating a scenario that justifies your circumstance just as it would justify a parent telling their child that they came into the world in a hanky, carried by a stork!"

Lair's eyes widened. "You have no idea what the hell you're,"

Undaunted, Vol continued. "I know that it hasn't eluded you in the slightest that your daughter is wise and brilliant beyond any measure for anyone her age, or of any age for that matter. So, what in the universe do you think prevented her from deducing that you'd been lying to her, even before you admitted to it?"

"NOTHING would prevent it!" Kellyn shouted. "Do you think I don't know my own flesh and blood, Tryst? Do you think I don't know how much like her father she is? That nothing escapes her notice? That nothing..." Kellyn stopped. She slumped down onto the bed, staring off into the distance. "Do you think I had a choice, in any of this?"

The truth was that Vol knew that Lair wasn't solely to blame here. She did what she was told, even though she knew in her gut that the order was wrong, but denied her instinct and that was what Vol was in the midst of reprimanding her for. Sensing her feelings on the matter clearly, he knew that the order to withhold the truth had to have come from someone else, or several someone elses. He was already making a mental memo to see to those individuals very shortly. Still, he had no intention of letting Lair off the hook for her part in this.

"I absolutely believe you had a choice in this. You are her mother and you knew what was best for Arie. You knew that your daughter was too bright to fall for this lie, but you made the promise to continue lying to her anyway. For what? So you can cast off the blame you knew would be one day be assigned to you?

"So you can justify it by feeling, 'I made an empty promise to lie to my child who figured it all out on her own, but it's not my fault because I was just following orders!'"

"You are out of line, Counselor!" Lair railed. "Don't delude yourself into thinking that your Betazoid mind tricks scare me. The first ship I ever served on had a full Betazoid counselor, and I guarantee that there is no depth of my soul that you can try to reach that Tues K'Raye has not already left her mark upon."

Lair threw down the armful of clothes she was holding, stood up again and straightened her back and shoulders.

She no longer felt any more need to justify actions over which she, herself had had precious little control.

She'd not been told the truth about Arie's 'situation' at the beginning. Zanh Liis, acting as agent of Temporal Investigations, concealed it from the outset. By the time Kellyn had figured things out she was terrified, even as she knew Salvek had been, to go against Zanh's words of warning.

Lair knew all too well how wrong things could go if the timeline was corrupted- and she didn't want to be the one to damage it.

Moreover, she couldn't stand the thought of ever losing Arie because of an inability to keep certain secrets until there was no keeping them any longer. "You have no right to tell me how I should parent my child."

"I have every right!" Vol had officially gone off the deep end, and he knew it. He drew a deep breath as he tried to calm himself, but when he spoke again his anger was still very much present. The pounding headache he'd been experiencing was now much worse.

"How many children do you have, Counselor?" Lair raged.

"My specialized education lets me understand things in a child that most parents cannot hope to comprehend. As such, it is indeed my duty to let you know of such things regardless of your superior rank." Another deep breath, and the Counselor finally started to calm down.

Kellyn was so insulted by the idea that any time spent in a classroom learning about children could rival nearly a decade of actual parenting experience that for the moment, she was rendered speechless. Vol continued, his voice still edged in the heat of the quarrel, but altogether much calmer than before.

"Arie wants to go to prove herself to you. She keeps saying she'll be on her best behaviour, do you know why? It's not because that that's what the situation demands, it's because you ask it of her. She's auditioning for your approval, so that you'll turn around and decide that she's trustworthy and can be expected to handle any family dilemma.

"You want to save her from that, I know. She's much too young to carry the burden of these terrible tragedies, but hiding them from her is nothing more than insulting. What's more, is that she can help. You only need let her."

"How many children have you lost, Counselor?" Kellyn looked up at him with eyes that were bloodshot, but devoid of actual tears.

Vol blinked and his brows were squeezed together, his mouth agape.

"Because I've already lost one daughter. I lost her before I ever got to hold her in my arms. Before she could be born, and have her naming ceremony. Before..." Kellyn stared at the floor. "Before many people even gave her credit for being alive at all." Her hands closed protectively, fingers lacing and coming to rest against her abdomen as if denying to this day the physical sensation of emptiness left by the loss.

"I miscarried my first baby. I lost...I couldn't lose another- I..." she stopped, determined that Vol would not see her cry. She turned toward the window and sighed sharply. "All I've ever wanted to do was protect Andra."


Lair turned back to him, her expression one of total annoyance. "That's what I said."

"No. You said Andra."

Lair scowled. "I did not."

"I refuse to argue the point." Vol snapped. "I heard what I heard, and you said you 'wanted to protect Andra'."

Now Kellyn felt completely lost. She thought of the helplessness she'd felt at fifteen, the day that the small cafe had collapsed on top of them, and she'd been unable to save her seven year old sister, barely surviving the bombing herself.

She thought of how much worse she had felt, if that were possible, upon learning that her parents own resistance cell had been responsible for the blast.

They had told her time and again that it was a mistake, that they didn't know that Kellyn and Andra would be anywhere near that location- but that had never been enough for Kellyn, and they knew it. She still blamed them, and was quite certain that she always would.

The body language of both Commander and Counselor finally relaxed, though barely perceptibly. Kellyn now sat on Arie's bed and was clutching a threadbare stuffed animal to her chest; Vol was leaning back on the wall with his arms cross and his head slumped down.

"I couldn't save Andra. I couldn't save Kahs'Khiori." Lair murmured. "I was going to save Arie, if keeping the truth a secret could save her." She turned back toward Tryst. "This was not a decision I made on my own, you know." Lair tried to lock eyes, but met with only the top of Vol's head.

"I know." he responded.

"Zanh Liis, all her years of experience, and even Salvek." She shook her head, knowing it didn't matter what anyone else had done or said or not done to tell Arie the truth before now. She was the one in Trysts' sights, and nothing she said now would move that target. "I was going to protect her, damn the consequences. I always figured that even if she hated me for it once she'd grown up- at least she'd be alive to grow up. She is alive."

Vol finally raised his head to speak, though his eyes were closed. "Withholding information from her is not protecting her, Lair Kellyn. Whether she's told or not, she'll still have to face what's to come. So why not share whatever it is you know with her? If you have a fight ahead, why not fight together?"

His gaze now moved to look at Kellyn as she spoke.

"If anything bad happened to her because I tried to push adult problems onto her," Kellyn was speaking from the perspective of a person who, as a child, had been forced to shoulder far more than was her rightful responsibility for her age from the time she was very small. "I couldn't live with myself."

"You wouldn't be pushing the problems onto her, you'd be preparing her for them. Will bringing her with you to Vulcan divide your attention? Absolutely. But she's a part of your family, and the idea that you would consider leaving her behind---. Let her be an asset to you, I promise you you will not regret it."

Kellyn choked back the bitterness rising in her throat.

She felt that this was the wrong course of action, now more than ever. But she had made Arie a promise and this one she would keep, regardless of how difficult it was for her to do it.

"I will take her to Vulcan," Kellyn said softly, as she returned to going through the motions of packing. Vol pushed himself off the wall and kept his arms crossed and he took heavy steps towards the door to exit. He paused for only an instant as Lair half-whispered a final, haunting remark.

"...and I will pray to the Prophets that you're right."

Lieutenant Vol Tryst
Ship's Counselor
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Commander Lair Kellyn
Engineering Research and Development
The Alchemy Project

NRPG: I must say that this is one of the most incredible and rewarding joint posting experiences I've ever been lucky enough to be a part of.

I'm really proud of the work we did on this one though Vol is the true artist at work here- I was just trying my best to keep up. Thank you, Vol.

By the way- the word Salvek used to describe this post is 'magnificent'. --LK

791: Egregious: One

by Vol Tryst and Lair Kellyn
Time: During the Captain's surgery;
(in the middle of With Gratitude)

-=Sickbay, USS Serendipity=-

Vol had been pacing the room for a good half an hour now.

He felt there was little he could do here other than continue to wear a path in the carpeting. Still, he was unsure of where else he should be at a time like this, if his services were not urgently needed.

It only took a few moments more for the sound of his combadge to interrupt his thoughts to tell him that those services were, in fact, needed elsewhere.

[Lair to Tryst.]

"Tryst here."

[Do you have a moment?]

"I have several, actually," Vol answered. The Captain was in surgery and would be for some time; the distraught Irishman sleeping soundly thanks to a hefty dose of sedatives. Blane was doing well under physician's care, there really was nothing more to be done here from his standpoint until Zanh Liis woke up. "What can I do for you?"

[Are you somewhere that we won't be overheard?] Lair asked nervously.

"Just a moment." Vol stepped into the CMO's empty office and waited until the door closed behind him. "You may speak."

[I am going to be taking my husband on a trip to Vulcan in the hopes that the people there can help him recover from the trauma of his experiences with Taris," Lair droned, as if unable to believe she was speaking the words. [Arie wants to come with us, but I want to leave her here, with Grace and Reece. I promised her that if you spoke to her and felt it was better for her to go with us, that she could come. We need to leave as soon as possible. I hate to interrupt whatever you're doing,,,]

"It's no interruption, Lair. I will speak to Arie immediately." Vol thought better of putting Arie in his office for this conversation. "Have her meet me in the Arboretum directly. Tryst out."


Lair Arie stretched her legs and feet forward to make the swing in the Arboretum go faster.

It was a two-seat swing; not the sort meant for children to play on really. Instead it was the sort intended for people to relax on, taking in the evening air perhaps, as they gently rocked to and fro.

Still, Vol kept his feet off the ground for the moment as he allowed her to direct their motion. He sensed the intrinsic playful nature of childhood in her still, though it was nearly eclipsed entirely in the moment by the very adult feelings of sorrow and concern.

"I told mother that I will not get in the way on the trip," Arie announced, it being very important to her that Vol believed she would behave. Vol smirked and blinked as he spoke whilst looking straight ahead.


"Maybe... maybe I will be able to help in some way that my Mother has not yet anticipated."

"I'm sure you could, but..."

"I simply cannot tolerate the thought of being left behind on the ship here while my parents are engaged in such a struggle. "

It was then that Vol's mind stopped. The train of thought halted and he turned to look down at Arie, her thoughts finally granting him a glimpse of where this train was headed. She looked up at him after a few moments, his smile having already faded, though he raised his eyebrows to help articulate his next question.

"Strength in numbers."

"Strength in family Mr. Tryst, strength in family."

Arie sighed and hopped off the swing as she strolled a few steps away from the Counselor. She spun back around and looked him dead in the eye.

"Mother's argument is that, if I go to Vulcan---" She stopped when Vol held up a hand to indicate that she cease.

"Arie," Vol started as he too slipped off the swing to kneel down low enough so that he had to look up at Arie's face. He was very calm when he spoke. "I am neither going to tell you that you are right and your Mother wrong, nor the vice versa."

Arie blinked. "But, that is what I need from you Mr. Tryst."

"Why?" Vol asked in almost a whisper as he tilted his head and squinted his eyes. He asked even though he already knew the answer, already recognized these foot holds, already knew where this was going.

"I need to keep my family together."

"Don't you believe your Mother has that in mind as well? The separation is only temporary Arie and it may be what is best." Again, Vol only asked the question in order to hear the words he was already sensing.

There was a pause. Arie subconsciously sucked on her lower lip, her eyes darted to the floor and back to Vol's eyes several times. She resisted, but she asked anyway, because she wanted to know.

"I find myself confused as to how to absorb the logic of words versus the logic of actions."

Vol leaned back and plunked down on the floor of the gazebo, still looking up at the wise little girl who remained standing. "Explain."

"I have always thought that words, when spoken from loved ones, held nothing but truth. I find that difficult to believe now, because my Mother's actions contradict her speech. She wants what is best for my family..."

The words were like a thud in Vol's heart and mind. Like some load had just been dumped into his soul, so heavy he could not imagine how he'd stand again.

"...but she lied to me. Many, many times. She lied to me."

"To protect you Arie." Vol's eyes pleaded now, as he wanted desperately for Arie to understand. "To protect you."

Arie bowed her head, before nodding finally. She could see out of the corner of her eye that Vol was extended his arms out to her. Arie bent down to hug Mr. Tryst from her standing position.

"I will try to remember that," Arie declared. "But I wonder." She stopped, clearly uncomfortable with the thoughts that she could not dismiss.

"Wonder what?"

"How I am to believe, in future, that she is telling me the truth."

Vol's heart sped up, and he felt an incredible sense of indignation on behalf of this innocent, dragged into such a complicated web of deception, whatever the reason.

Still, his decision was made, and now it was time to inform the inquiring party of his recommendation. As if sensing that he had made up his mind, Arie tugged gently on his sleeve as he rose to his full height once again.

"Will you allow me go to Vulcan?"

"I will make my suggestion to your mother, Arie, but in the end it will be her decision."

Arie nodded. "I understand. Shall I accompany you to speak with Mother now?"

"Actually I'd like to do that on my own, if it's okay with you." Vol asked.

"Of course." She returned to the swing and put it into motion. "I will...swing here a bit longer, I think."

"Just give me fifteen minutes." Vol said, patting her on the head gently. "Then come home."

-=Quarters of the Executive Officer=-

Lair Kellyn had packed and unpacked her suitcase half a dozen times, dissatisfied with anything she could choose to take with her. Not that it mattered to her at all what she was wearing. She would have been content to simply stay in uniform the entire time they were on Vulcan.

She knew, however, that where they were headed that to do so would be considered a sign of utter disrespect and to appear disrespectful was the very last thing that she wanted.

She was already going to be considered an outsider; someone with no right to tread the hallowed ground of sacred places to begin with. If she was going to dare to set even one Bajoran foot down upon those grounds, she had better be damn sure she was wearing appropriate shoes.

Wearing traditional Vulcan attire would also be seen as presumptuous so she didn't know what in the worlds she was supposed to choose at this point.

*Maybe I should just show up naked.*

After all, that was how she felt these days. Stripped, vulnerable, with her most personal flaws and intimate failings on display for all to see.

Sighing in frustration she sat down on the edge of the bed.

Salvek had, by this point, returned to the ship. She had heard people in the halls speaking of having seen him on the bridge and of the fact that he was not himself.

He was back, yet he had not come home.

The computer indicated that he was in a holodeck- truly strange because Salvek very rarely if ever visited the holodecks unless she dragged him there for a much-needed diversion. She thought back to her insistence to him that they go to Vulcan, the heated conversation they'd had before he left for the Inquiry, and her heart ached.


"Don't you trust me anymore?" Kellyn asked, hands on her hips as she tried to will him to look her in the eyes. "Don't you believe me when I tell you that I have seen you a hell of a lot of different ways since the day we met but this..." her eyes were clear and, Salvek noted, completely sincere. "This, I have never seen."

Salvek simply stared at the floor.

"Why?" Kellyn moaned bitterly, turning away and allowing her head to drop against the wall with a small thud. "Why did you do it, Salvek? Why did you meld with her?"

"It seemed the only way to ...find peace."

"Well it didn't quite work out that way did it?" She was unsure that was the real reason he'd done it. Perhaps his decision was one she'd never understand. All Kellyn knew was that the thought of him melding with Taris made her feel physically ill.

A part of the Romulan was now part of him; and the idea of any thought, any emotion, any fragment of that madwoman no matter how miniscule becoming entangled with her husband's soul was too much for Kellyn to take.

"No. It did not."


"I beg your pardon?"

"We have to go to Vulcan, Salvek."


"No." She gave a definitive shake of her head. "Don't say another word, I won't hear it." She spun and took him by the shoulders. "I don't think I can help you," she admitted softly, "and that terrifies me. But there has to be someone who can, Salvek. There has to be. All I can think to do now is to take you to Vulcan."

"I must not be late for the inquiry." Salvek replied, shaking her hands free of his arms and turning away. Without another word, he departed.

"I love you too." Kellyn whispered to the empty room, her heart heavy as she considered what she had to do next.

-=End Flashback=-

Kellyn was awakened from her daydream by the sound of the door chime. She steeled herself and bid her visitor to enter.

Lieutenant Vol Tryst
Ship's Counselor
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Commander Lair Kellyn
Engineering Research and Development
The Alchemy Project

790: You've Got Mail

by Lara Valera Ryn
Concurrent with With Gratitude

-= Shuttle Endeavor, en route to Earth =-

At first, curiosity did get the better of Lara.

Then, she recognized that a part of her was interested to know more about the Ryn symbiont, and immediately a wave of anger rolled over her.

This wasn’t supposed to be her life, her past, and now her present. It was supposed to belong to someone else, anyone else. Just. Not. Her.

So Lara tossed the PADD containing the profiles of the previous hosts of Ryn into her bag and decided to go through her mail. . . the mail she had not been allowed to see for six months. There wasn’t too much of it, but it was enough to keep her busy enough until she reached Earth and busy enough to forget about that other PADD.

Among that mail was a video message from an old colleague, Dagmar Hielt. Dagmar had been Julian’s second on the digs, but more importantly, she had slowly been becoming a mentor to Lara. And she was someone whom Lara had seriously missed.

Lara uploaded Dagmar’s message into the console. It only took a few seconds for the clip to begin to play.

[Hey, Lara!] Dagmar, the eternal optimist, greeted. [Well, I don’t know when you are going to see this, but it has been about five months since you left us.] Leave it to Dagmar to use such a nice euphemism.

[This is the third time I have tried to contact you. The first time, I’m not even sure it went through.] Despite Dagmar’s brilliance in the field and her more than twenty years of experience, the simplest technologies were sometimes still a mystery to her. [And the second one prompted a call from your father, who told me that you were doing okay. But boy, your impersonation of him is uncanny!]

Dagmar chuckled slightly, and Lara momentarily felt a twinge of guilt over that impersonation, but sometimes, with a dig in the middle of nowhere, they had all gotten rather creative in the attempts to keep themselves amused.

[So, maybe this one will get through. We all miss you out here,] 'Here' still being Kobheeria, Lara knew, [...and we cannot wait for you to come back to us.]

Lara shook her head. Well, if there were one bright spot to this assignment on a starship, it was that she was never going to have to return to that place.

[Communication has been kind of spotty around here, but if you leave a message with the prime base, we should get it within a few days. Don’t wait too long. Bye!]

The message turned off, and for a moment, Lara felt almost normal. She was tempted to send Dagmar a message, but in all reality, even after six months, she did not have much to say. Really, she could imagine the message now: ‘Hi, Dag, I’ve been in a loony bin for six months, which I’m sure my father told you, but not in so many words. They think I’m nuts, I think I’m sane. What’s new with you?’

Then again, Dagmar would probably get a kick out of such a message. Keeping up her humor was how she managed to maintain her wits and her all-around positive attitude.

But that call could wait for another day. For now, there was another message, this one to read, and it was marked priority. It was from a Gemini Lassiter, whoever that was.

Lara opened it, and immediately scowled. In a very less than amused and punctuated tone, she stated through gritted teeth, “You. Have Got. To Be. Kidding. Me.”

She dropped her head down into her hands, which were lying on the table in front of her. Just when she thought the worse was over, she was wrong. If this message were right -- and the likelihood was it was -- her very first shipboard assignment was yet another blasted psychological examination.

Lieutenant Lara Valera Ryn
Science Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

789: With Gratitude

by Zanh Liis and Vol Tryst
Following Three Men, One Way Out and Less Than a Scream

-=Sickbay, USS Serendipity=-

"Keiran," Blane's voice begged caution on O'Sullivan's part as he surged forward the moment the deck was solidly beneath his feet. "Let them-"

O'Sullivan was having none of it and strode forward, prepared to get information on Liis' condition from the first person in a medical uniform he found if he had to wring it out of them with his bare hands.

"The Captain?" He rasped, as Ensign T'Dara rushed past.

"In surgery, Sir," the Vulcan informed, as she hurried to carry out the doctors' orders to bring a specific piece of equipment that they had need of.

"How bad?" Keiran fell into step behind her, and Blane clamped a hand down on his arm. In his growing state of panic, O'Sullivan glanced back at his friend with a look much more menacing than he meant it to be.

"Stand down, O'Sullivan," Blane warned sternly, quickly muttering under his breath, "I'm not sure I'm up to the choke hold tonight..."

"I just wanna know if she's goin' ta be alright!" Keiran exclaimed as T'Dara ignored him, running back in the other direction.

"Keiran, please." The voice that Keiran heard next was that of Vol Tryst. "I spoke to Zanh Liis before she went under. But you must allow the staff to do their job, and part of that job is to examine you. Both of you." Vol pointed to a curtained off area with several biobeds. It was a section of Sickbay that Blane knew all too well; he'd only recently been released from it.

"I hate hospitals." TC groaned, as he and Vol tried to shepherd the towering O'Sullivan toward the medical equipment like a lost sheep that had strayed from the fold.

"Ya talked to Liis then?" Keiran plead for more information but Vol purposely held off saying any more until O'Sullivan had at least submitted to being scanned by a medic with a tricorder. "What did she say?"

"Her greatest concern was your safety. Finding you." Lest he feel that his captain had not worried about his safety too, Vol nodded toward Blane. "Finding all of you."

"Lindsay escaped injury, but we don't know about Salvek," TC began, wincing as his adrenaline waned and the pain of his injuries began to make its presence known.

"Commander Salvek has beamed back safely, and reports that the Admiral is also safe and accounted for." Tryst replied. If the news was any comfort to Keiran, it did not register on his features. He continued on with single-minded stubbornness.

"My wife, Counselor. Her condition?"

"It was difficult to determine the extent of her injuries prior to surgery because she was very uncooperative," Vol widened his eyes purposely, "just like other people around here who bear the surname O'Sullivan." He sighed, sensing O'Sullivan's growing internal agony and fear. "Her eyes were pretty badly damaged, Keiran, but she didn't appear to have any life-threatening injuries. She said she thought she remembered an explosion."

"Yeah, they," TC interjected, filling the silence as he watched a pained expression etch itself into Keiran's face and the man took his head into his hands. "Someone set off two very carefully placed detonations in the building. It looks like an attempt on the life of the new Interim Director."

"Will said," Keiran spoke again suddenly, "that Liis was unconscious when they beamed her up?"

"Yes. After she came around, she said that she was tossed off the roof, got caught on something and then from the sound of it, was knocked out when she made impact against the side of the building. But that doesn't explain the glass fragments in her eyes."

TC and Keiran both winced. They'd seen from the roof in the moments before they'd beamed up that the windows of the building next door had been shattered by the force of the explosion.

"God in Heaven," Keiran whispered. Then suddenly, in sheer and unreasonable panic, he tried to bolt.

"Um, where are you going, Sir?" Tryst asked, a question as polite as it was nervous.

"I have to see that she's alive. With my own eyes."

Vol blinked. "You cannot. She's in-"

"Tryst, please, 'm not gonna,"

Suddenly, Blane was standing over O'Sullivan's shoulder, and the sound of a faint hiss was heard.

That sound was followed by another; the sound of a heavy thud as all six-feet, four inches of Keiran O'Sullivan dropped to the deck like a ton of bricks.

"Goodnight, sweet prince." Blane nodded with satisfaction before handing the sedative hypo he'd 'borrowed' from the instrument table with one quick motion of his hand- without the medic even being aware of it. "I don't think you'll have any trouble completing your medical examination of 'Mr. Zanh Liis' now. But I do suggest that you do whatever needs to be done quickly, because when he wakes up he's not going to be a happy camper."

"Aye Sir." The medic replied weakly, remembering all too well the time when he was effortlessly launched across the room by O'Sullivan as the Irishman made another desperate attempt to get to Zanh Liis, in this very Sickbay.

-=Hours later=-

She knew was awake, still she couldn't open her eyes.

They felt sticky. No- they felt glued closed.

Her hand elevated, and she felt the bandages wrapped all the way around her head, and sighed.

Now she remembered.

Hearing her patient stir, T'Dara turned around and immediately placed a hand on Zanh's arm to reassure her. "Be at peace, Captain. All is well."

Liis licked her lips in a futile attempt to moisten them; the interior of her mouth as arid as the exterior. T'Dara offered her a sip of water, and Liis took in only enough to allow her to speak. "My husband?"

"He is here, Captain. He suffered only minor cuts and scrapes in the explosion." T'Dara informed her. "Commander Blane is undergoing treatment and will also be fine. Captain Lindsay was unharmed, as were Salvek and the Admiral."

"Thank you." Zanh began to relax. Then she began to wonder why, if Keiran was doing just fine, he was not waiting at her bedside for her to wake up. "Where is he?"

"Commander O'Sullivan?"

Zanh nodded, just barely.

"We were forced to sedate him, Captain. He was...most combative and insistent upon seeing you, though he was told more than once that it was impossible because you were in surgery."

Liis sighed slowly. Just the smallest hint of a smile formed at the corner of her mouth. "That's my Keiran."

Feeling a new sense of strength with the knowledge that the four men she'd been so worried about were all right, Liis began to wonder, finally, about her own condition. "My status?"

"Your eyes took significant damage, Captain, but it has been repaired. The pain will be managed with medication over the next few days and you will have to shield them from bright light for a few days beyond that. But we believe..." T'Dara paused. "The doctors will be able to tell you more, Sir. For now, please, rest. I shall let them know you have regained consciousness."


A short time later, Liis had been checked over again from head to toes, and she contemplated what she'd been told. The doctors had said that the damage to her vision should only be temporary, but that they could not know for sure until the first twenty-four hours after surgery had passed without complications.

Liis considered how lucky she was to be alive. That was enough for her, for now.

Vol Tryst hoped that she would indeed make a full recovery of her vision because if not adjustments were going to have to be made, and she wasn't going to like having to make them.

"Good day, sunshine," he said softly as he approached her bedside.

"Sunshine is the name of Blane's dog," Liis offered lightly, not waiting for a response before continuing. "Do you know where my wedding rings are?"

"Here, beside you on the table. I imagine that your husband will want to do the honours of putting them back on you himself, when he wakes up."

"When he wakes up. I think there's a story to be told there."

"Indeed. But another day, Captain. Another day."

"My sling is gone." Liis observed, realizing that she could move both arms once again. She still felt lingering numbness in her left hand and so could not tell just what manner of bandage may be upon it.

"Yes, they have you in a simple wrist brace now. Just for a few days more."

Liis nodded, pleased by this. She reached up for the chain of her earring, and Vol watched her shoulders slump when she found it wasn't there. "Naloy's earring. It's gone, isn't it?"

"Damaged. But I think it can be repaired, Zanh Liis," he offered gently, looking at the cuff and the chain, which had been separated from the clip portion somehow, yet both pieces had been still attached to her ear when she'd been beamed back to Sickbay. "It's not a total loss."

"Wouldn't matter if it was. He's alive," Liis said softly, and with great gratitude for the fact. "I can ask for no more than that." She turned her face toward the sound of Tryst's voice. "Vol, tell me something." She'd had an idea form in her head when she'd spoken to Vol before surgery, and now was the time to act upon it. "My old uniform. The one I was wearing during the blast. Where is it?"

"I believe they recycled it, Captain. It was too far gone to save. You were...somewhat singed by the explosion."

"And my communicator?" She asked. Vol could clearly read that she was up to something, and decided to indulge her.

"Beside you, on the table to your right. With your pips and rings."

Liis reached over and grasped at the tabletop, fingertips searching out each of the four pips, one at a time.

She seemed to be checking them for something, and she got to the last one, and felt the surface carefully. She held it up to Vol for his inspection. "This one. Toasted?"

"Blackened like a Cajun dinner entree, Captain." Vol said sadly.

"So it doesn't appear to be gold anymore. It's now black."

"Yes..." Vol said curiously.

In the next moment he found that Zanh had reached out again, grabbed his arm, and took hold of his hand.

She slipped the pip into his palm and closed his fingers around it. "If you'd prefer a shiny new one, Lieutenant, just say the word and it's yours. I just thought," she shrugged, and tilted her head downward, instinctively averting her bandaged eyes even though they were currently sightless.

"I thought it might mean something to you, if it were one of mine instead."

Knowing that Zanh Liis was a woman who assigned meaning to everything she did, Vol waited for her to explain why.

"We've...not known each other a very long time, Vol Tryst," she smiled gently. "Yet. we've been tried by fire together, you and I. And I like to think that this pip represents just how deserved this promotion really is. You didn't have it handed to you. You had to work for it."

Vol stared down and his closed palm. He squeezed hard, feeling the pip in his hand. He was so humbled and honoured that he could not find the words. He swallowed away the lump forming in his throat. Even though it was just him and the Captain, he didn't think it appropriate to show his appreciation in a manner that she currently couldn't even observe.

Instead the Betazoid reached for the Captain's hand and squeezed as to show his thanks. Zanh returned the gesture through her own grip. With that, Vol was finally able to form the words.

"A million thanks, Captain."

"As I said, Lieutenant, you earned it. I deserve no thanks."

Vol chuckled as he chose against debating the matter further. He knew that Zanh had succeeded, for the moment, in completely diverting the conversation. But Vol was okay in letting the Captain run the show for a time, seeing as she felt quite vulnerable and without any control at the moment.

"I'm going to put it on now, if that's permissible Captain."

"Only if I get to help."


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


Lieutenant Vol Tryst
Ship's Counselor
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

NRPG: Yes, I bolded his name and rank, I'm proud of him. This promotion is well deserved and long overdue. Congratulations, Counselor. ~ZL