886: Grand Debut

by Jariel Camen and February Grace
Following Gathering

-=Aboard a small Vulcan ship=-

“I apologize for the nature of the accommodations. As you know we are a survey vessel and have limited space for passengers. I could arrange for the replicators to provide more pillows and thicker mattresses, if you and your crewmates require further pampering.”

“We are most grateful, that will not be necessary,” Jariel said to the Vulcan Captain, a female by the name of Sullera. If she had only known the conditions Jariel was used to sleeping in as a child, she would not have made such a backhanded comment. He couldn’t speak to Sullera’s living arrangements as a child, but he was willing to be she spent her nights far warmer, and far less hungry than Jariel had.

He stood at the entrance to the cargo bay, which had been graciously cleared and converted into a temporary shelter for the Serendipity’s children and their caregivers. There simply was not enough room aboard the tiny ship to provide quarters for everyone, so a pseudo tent city had been erected here in the cargo bay to at least allow each individual family a little privacy behind the cold gray composite panels. All were assembled here, except for February Grace, whom everyone agreed should be sent directly to Sickbay, especially since she had been reporting that her hands and face felt like they may be swelling a bit.

Jariel had asked Kellyn before she left if she wished to leave Talbot behind with the group so she wouldn’t need to concern herself with him. In no uncertain terms Kellyn made it clear that the only place she trusted Talbot was behind a force field. If she left him behind he would do anything and everything to try and contact Lassiter or Zanh to inform them Lair was on her way back. So on the Alchemy Talbot stayed, locked up, while the rest were transferred here.

In the center of the bay, the children played under the watchful gaze of the adults, as Fleur, off in the corner, poked in a frustrated manner at the single replicator the Vulcan’s had been able to spare.

“What did you say this ship was called, Captain? In case it should come up?” Camen asked.

Yeht-urgam,” Sullera replied.

“Sounds like a dignified name. What does it means?”

“Efficiency,” she answered simply. “If you need anything, please contact my operations officer.” She spun on her heel and prepared to leave.

“Excuse me!” Fleur interjected, stopping the Captain before she could leave. “Pardon me Captain,” she began, as politely as possible, “but do you have any replicators that produce non-Vulcan foods?”

“No. This is an entirely Vulcan crew. We have no need of other nutrients.”

“Surely you must have a few files of foods for others? I mean, I found seventy-three different variants of root stew. Tell me you programmed a turkey sandwich in zere somewhere? The children will not eat root stew.”

“I am sorry to hear that, but I cannot offer you anything else. If the children are hungry, they will eat,” Sellera replied evenly.

“I should have brought files from Alchemy,” Fleur said to Camen. “I think emergency rations are better than what is in replicator here.”

“The emergency rations are strictly for emergencies,” Sellera warned. Fleur’s sarcasm was completely lost on her.

“Try looking for breakfast dishes, perhaps there is some sort of whole-grain cereal they would eat. I’m sure through a little trial and error we can find something palatable,” Camen turned back to the Captain and bowed slightly. “Again, thank you for your hospitality. I assure you we will all be fine here.”

Sellera nodded, and stepped out of the bay.

“I need to make sure February is settled. Are you all right for a bit?”

“Yes, just fine Camen. A room full of hungry children and a replicator that produces bland and uninspiring food. It is every woman’s dream. I will try a little of everything like you suggested and hopefully maybe convince them some bizarre Vulcan dish is really macaroni and cheese.”

“Well, when you find said macaroni and cheese, save me a bowl, because I doubt root stew is going to be a substitute for you soup, Fleur.”

"Pffffft." She scoffed.

Camen kissed her on the cheek, and tried his best to recall the proper route from the cargo bay to Sickbay.

He’d been told by the Vulcans in no uncertain terms that if anyone wandered outside the path between the two places, that security would be notified immediately. He had expected to find February resting comfortably when he made it, but chaos was all that greeted him as he walked in on a brewing argument between the LMH and the Vulcan Doctor on board.

“That is not the proper method for treating edema and toxemia in a joined Trill at this stage of pregnancy.”

“Son I have been this young lady’s personal physician starting right around the time there was a spotted biscuit bakin’ in that there oven. Now I’m sure the textbook you just consulted gave you some nice ideas, but there are things about her physiology you don’t know. I’m tellin’ you that an emergency c-section is indicated for the good of baby, mama, and symbiont to boot. So step back, and let me do this,” McKay was nose to nose with the Vulcan, who did not so much as flinch.

“The textbook was written for a reason. The reason being that trusting one’s health to a hologram or computer alone is too dangerous.”

“Now them’s fightin’ words.”

February had her hands clamped over her ears and Jariel could tell she was in pain. This argument needed to stop.

“Gentlemen. Is there a problem?”

“Yeah there is, this boy means to tell me how to treat my patient and I don’t particularly appreciate it.”

“I am fifty-five years of age,” The Vulcan corrected, unhelpfully.

Jariel stepped past the both of them and up to February, raising his voice loud enough for everyone to hear. “Would you like me to inform the Vulcans that Doctor McKay has been in charge of caring for you during your pregnancy, and you wish for that to continue?”

Bru nodded vigorously, keeping her hands firmly planted on either side of her head. The Vulcan doctor, having seen this, turned towards McKay.

“You will sign a waiver, absolving myself, the Captain, and the Vulcan Medical Society of all legal responsibilities…”

“Blah blah blah son, draw up any papers you like in triplicate but they’re gonna have to wait. I need to get back to my patient.”

February lowered her hands away from her face, as McKay approached the bed.

“Thank you,” She whispered, still quite sensitive to sound after the raging argument.

“Sit tight darlin’, I need to take some readings. Be back in a few minutes.”

She nodded, and Jariel could see the concern on both her face and McKay’s as well. Something wasn’t exactly right, and they both knew it.

“Do you want some privacy?” Camen asked.

“Please stay. Talk to me,” She requested, hoping the sound of a kind and familiar voice would distract her from the nervousness welling up inside her. “We’ve barely had a moment to talk about Bajor. Anything interesting to tell?”

“Well, amongst the things you don’t know yet,” Camen began, then paused, as he prepared himself for difficult words. “I discovered I had a sister.”

“What?” February snapped in surprised. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell.”

“The memories came back to me after I visited my parent’s gravesite on Bajor, and discovered that she had been laid to rest there as well. Somehow I blocked it out for all these years, it was just too painful to dare remember I suppose. Vedek Timal talked me into going to the burial site finally. He knew what I’d find there, and I guess he knew somehow I was ready finally to see it.”

February was silent. She had wanted Jariel to stay and talk to her, and talk to her he had. If his goal was to distract her form her own current medical state, he was doing a great job of it. “What was her name?”

“Relanna,” He spoke her name reverently, like a prayer. “When the Cardassians came she was deemed… unuseful. We were inseparable up until that point.”

“I’m so sorry, Camen.”

Jariel looked down and saw the concern for him on her face. “No, I’m the one who is sorry February, now is not the time for this.” He shook his head and prepared to leave but she grabbed hold of his arm.

“Now is the perfect time for this.” Thoughts were already formulating in her head, and questions she and Dabin did not know the response to were finding answers as she and Jariel spoke. “What was she like?”

“She was caring, funny, and of course beautiful, just like her mother.”

“And her brother,” Bru added with a gentle smile.

“Wait, now who is supposed to making whom feel better?” Jariel said with a small laugh. “But the best part of remembering everything, even better than knowing how she sounded and what she looked like, is knowing that she isn’t really gone now. For all those years no one knew anything about her. It was like she never existed. Now she lives again, because someone remembers and loves her.”

“Who else knows?”

“Other than Vedek Timal? Just Fleur and now you.”

“Well that’s four people that love her now, Camen. Her family is growing all the time, and I know just how to make sure more people remember and love her.”

Before Camen could ask her what she meant, McKay returned her bedside. His pursed lips indicated that he did not have the best of news.

“I ran my tests and the signs of toxemia are definitely apparent, and they ain’t goin’ away. The good news is the baby is more than strong enough for us to do this now.”

“Do what?” Camen asked.

“I’m ready,” Bru replied to McKay bravely, even if that’s not entirely how she felt.

“What’s going on? Does something need to be done for the baby?” Camen asked.

McKay ignored him, and motioned to one of the nurses, who began setting up a curtain over February at waist level. Jariel was no doctor, but the pieces fell together fast enough as he watched what people were doing.

“Oh… oh my goodness, February. Do you want me to step out now? Should I get Fleur to stay with you?” He asked.

“You can go if you want but,” Her eyes pleaded in a very puppy dog like fashion. “I’d really like you to stay with me, if you wouldn’t mind.”

Camen nodded, too shocked by how quickly everything was unfolding to even speak. If Bru wanted him here, here he would stay.

“Just keep your eyes up here. On my face. You won’t see anything too scary.” Bru promised, as she reached out to grasp hold of his hand with fingers that were now very obviously swollen due to the toxins building up in her system. Between the strain of nourishing the symbiont and the growing baby, Bru’s body just couldn’t take any more.

“I’m not worried about me, I’m worried about you.” Camen droned, as he watched the medical instruments being laid out on a table beside her, and the color immediately drained from his face.

He began to feel more than a little dizzy as he saw a small incubator being rolled into the room. Soon, someone would be in that incubator, and he hoped that he could stay on his feet.

Nothing about his training at the Vedek Assembly had prepared him for this.

“Don’t worry about me. I won’t be able to feel anything from the neck down after they give me that hypo that Dalton’s mixing up.” She knew the procedure well, not only from Grace’s previous host experiences but also from her prenatal visits with McKay. “Do you know that Gentry, even though he was a first responder and a trained medic passed out cold when his wife was delivering their first child? I remember what it is like to be the one on the other side of this situation. Frankly, I’d rather be on the table.”

“I think I would too.” Jariel agreed nervously.

Those rushing around them began to assemble in a circle below the curtained off area, and Camen’s eyes locked with McKay’s for a moment. The look on the LMH’s face as he surveyed the readings from the fetal monitor was clear; for the sake of both mother and child, there was no more time to waste.

“Let’s get this over with.” Dalton lifted the hypo and handed it to one of the Vulcan nurses. The nurse applied it to February’s neck, and the Trill felt all sensation leave her body.

She couldn’t even tell that she was breathing anymore as she closed her eyes, and wished for just a moment that Dabin wouldn’t have to miss this.

“Thank you for staying with me.” She whispered to Jariel. He saw tears falling from the corners of her eyes, and reached out and gently brushed them away.

“I’m honored.”

“Okay folks, we’re havin’ a baby.” Dalton declared.

The procedure itself went ahead with a speed that astonished Jariel. Within mere moments, there was a sound in the room that both thrilled and utterly terrified him.

That of a newborn, crying.

“She’s a tiny little thing, that’s for sure. But this little dolly is also pink and healthy, Bru.” Dalton announced, as he handed the baby off to the nursing staff and set about the work of finishing his own task.

“My favorite color.” Bru laughed, tears again streaming down her face as both she and Jariel began to laugh and cry at the same time.

“And I do believe she’s screamin’ in the key of E.” McKay added with a chuckle.

“By the Prophets,” Jariel whispered, as he looked over at the incubator that now held Dabin and February’s little girl. “She’s beautiful.”

“Looks a lot like mama.” Dalton glanced over quickly at the baby then back to his work. “Though I do believe she’s got her daddy’s spots.”

“Her daddy is going to be very thankful that you two were here for me.” February said. “How can I ever thank you?” She began to tremble, a side effect of the anesthesia and the blood loss, and instinctively Jariel pulled the blanket tighter around her and placed a kiss upon her forehead.

“There’s no need.” He whispered tenderly.

A few more moments passed, and after the team had efficiently finished their work, more blankets were laid over February to keep her warm and the curtain shielding her was no longer needed and lowered away. She was given another hypo to counteract the effects of the anesthetic so she could finally hold her baby.

Dalton excused himself a moment, and then returned. In his arms, a small bundle with strawberry blonde fluff upon its head, poking out from the top of the blanket that she was wrapped in.

“February,” Dalton began, at the moment looking as emotional as any flesh and blood family physician would at a time like this. “I’d like to introduce you to somebody. She apologizes that she’s arrived a little ahead’a schedule, but she just couldn’t wait a day longer to meet’cha.”

Jariel helped February steady herself against the pillows as she tried to sit up, and he grabbed another blanket from the bed next to them, began to roll it and propped up Bru’s still shaking arm with it. “Are you ready?”

“I think so.” Bru’s voice shook as hard as her body did, the emotion of the moment surpassing even the physical side-effects of the delivery as she realized that her life had just changed forever, in an instant. She tried in vain to control the tremors as McKay eased the baby into the crook of her arm.

February looked down and drew back the edge of the blanket from the baby’s face. The infant began to fuss, and seemed at once tired and angry as she began to wail, stopped only long enough to yawn, and then cried some more.

“Hello, little one.” February said softly, tears raining down from her face. “I'm so happy to meet you.”

Jariel watched both mother and child, and knew in an instant that the daughter of Reece and Grace was going to know nothing but love from this time forward. The two of them were just perfect together, and Dabin was going to complete the picture.

The thought of Dabin Reece brought something to Camen’s mind.

“Doctor, does your program allow you to…”

“Relax Vedek, I’m already putting together the welcome home holofilm for the Commander right up here,” McKay replied, tapping his temple with his finger. “Nothing outside of our strictest confidence of course,” He added to February to dispel any fears of exactly how much he intended to include in the holofilm.

“Thank you.” She said with a nod and a small laugh.

The baby stopped fussing and lazily opened her unfocused eyes. She started to sniff the air around her like a curious puppy, searching as she seemed to tune in to the sound of February’s voice.

“She knows her mama all right.” Dalton grinned. “Now, I reckon she must be hungry, Bru. So do you want to me to see if this boat has anything suitable to use for formula or…”

Dalton was asking an obvious question, though it was one that, as Jariel stood there staring in utter disbelief at the sight of February Grace with a baby in her arms, completely eluded him.

“I think…I can handle the situation.” February blushed, and though still shaking, she seemed more sure of herself as Grace’s memories of times past reassured her that she did know what she was doing.

“Then we should give you a little privacy.” Dalton said. He waited for Jariel to react, but he didn’t.

“Vedek!” McKay raised his voice finally.

“Hmm?” Jariel responded dreamily, still in awe of the sight before him.

“We need to leave the lady alone so she can nurse her baby.”

“Oh. Oh!” Now it was Jariel who was turning red. “Of course.”

“But first, wait,” February insisted, “Jariel, do you want to hold her?”

“Oh, no, I,”

“Please?” February nodded encouragingly and finally, Jariel stepped closer.

“I’m afraid to touch her.” He admitted, his knees growing weaker at the thought. For all he had been through in his years, he felt more disarmed at the idea of holding his dearest friend’s child for the first time then anything else he had ever been through.

“She won’t break. Just…one hand under her head, one under her bottom.” February coached gently.

McKay watched quietly as the Vedek took the baby and stared down into her small, inquisitive face.

“Well hello there.” Jariel whispered, absolutely lost for any other words to say.

“I need to tell you her name,” February said softly, “because when we get back it’d mean an awful lot to Dabin and I if you’d perform a Bajoran naming ceremony for her.”

“Of course I will.” Jariel forced the words past the lump in his throat. “What name have you chosen for your daughter?”

“Sophia Relanna Grace Reece.” Bru whispered, tears again falling down her cheeks. “But you can call her Sophie.”

Lt. February Grace
Chief Flight Controller
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Vedek Jariel Camen
Ship’s Chaplain
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

885: Eyes

by Rada Dengar
After Casting the Lure

-=Main Engineering; USS Serendipity=-

From the very moment Rada stepped into Main Engineering, he was deadly aware that he’d become the immediate centre of attention. Concerned eyes turned to him as awkward ones turned away. They were people all wondering, worrying, about the fact that he was here. He may not be the telepath, she was dying, but he knew just what they were thinking.

They were thinking that he should be by her side. That somehow what had happened had completely wiped him of all Engineering skill and that the best contribution he could make to this ship was to be locked away in a small room in the dark with his thoughts. When he’d left sickbay that’s basically where he’d gone instead of coming here, attempting to work out just how he was going to get through this very moment. They didn’t think he was coping, didn’t think anyone could be, and so every one of them was wondering just how they could force him into facing that fact and breaking down as they’d decided was the proper etiquette.

Rada had decided that he didn’t much care for what other people thought was the right way to handle this. This was where he wanted to be and they could go to hell if they tried to tell him he couldn’t. He was still the Chief Engineer on this ship and no one was going to stop him.

On the outside everything was normal, in fact everything was better than normal. There was a smile on his lips, he had purpose in his eyes and his rapid steps were not those of a man left lethargic by concern. He was perhaps the only one here who was outwardly their normal self.

All around him people whispered when normally they’d speak. Work had ground to a halt but no one wished to admit it. They stood at their consoles with hands hovering over the controls, afraid that if they even dared to press a button then they’d lose their opportunity to eavesdrop on the first words he’d say.

Some were pretending not to notice him, keeping their backs turned. However each time he turned to face them they could feel the eyes of a man not quite there, they immediately began to appear to work again.

Rada was hunting all around for the one man in Engineering that he thought would understand. Someone who’d see no demands he could make as unreasonable. Someone who wouldn’t judge him. Someone who could see the need for a smile in times like these.


There was no response.


Still nothing, just silence clogging the already thick air around him.

Those few who’d had the decency before to avert the eyes were now exchanging glances. The whispers had fallen to silence as they had a wordless conversation about who would have to tell him.

In the midst of this extensive debate which could perhaps have lasted an eternity, one brave man who’d not even been consulted cleared his throat.

It was Lieutenant Barlow, possibly the oldest of his Engineers. He wasn’t long from retirement and had been with Starfleet so long that time had bleached his hair stark white. He always kept it short and neatly trimmed, just as his uniform was never in anyway out of order.

He wasn’t normally the type who caused waves. He was a quietly proud man, the type who kept mostly to himself and only asked that he be allowed to do his duties his own way. With the experience he had, that was fine with Rada. Aside from asking him to show the ropes to a few newly transferred officers, Rada had never really had any reason to speak with him but they’d always gotten along well enough.

He wasn’t a tall man but he was a solidly built, slow moving type and he made a point of walking over to Rada before he spoke. He had a slight slouch to his back which was especially obvious as he moved, but he never let it get in the way of looking someone straight in the eye.

“I’m afraid Crewman Halliday isn’t here.” Barlow said in his normal soft, slow speaking way. “I believe Commander Lair took him with her on the Alchemy.”

*Of course he isn’t here.* Rada scolded himself, he should have known better than to think anything could be going right for him now.

For the briefest fraction of a second, Rada’s lips seemed to curl as he sucked them into his teeth and his back tensed up, but he quickly bounced back to his illusion of normality.

“Okay then,” Rada said in a perfectly dismissive tone. “In that case, I’ll just have to tell everyone now.”

He turned around the room, ensuring that everyone was watching as he spoke in his most authoritative voice.

“We’ll soon be receiving an unwelcome delegation from the security department.”

Any other time this would have been followed by the usual groan of professional Engineers not wanting to have someone standing over their shoulders. Now though no one responded, there were bigger things on their minds.

It took all Rada’s strength not to notice.

“We’ll just have to do our best to ignore them and get on with our work. Now we all know what security officers are like, they seek out danger, so please do your best not to spook them.”

It should have been a joke, their silence said they didn’t think it had been. No one wanted to face him, no one except the ever quiet Barlow.

“Our top priority has to be enhancing the shields. We do not know what exactly we’re up against. We have no idea if our weapons will be effective against it. All we do know is that we don’t know enough to assume that we’ll be protected. By now I’m sure you’ve all seen the data I sent over from the Zenith so I don’t believe I need to explain it to you.”

No one was responding, their questioning eyes just demanding to know how long he thought he could keep up this illusion.

He looked around, hunting for acknowledgement that he’d even spoken. It was Barlow who finally offered him that acknowledgement.

“No you don’t, Commander.” He said quietly, not really caring for himself about the attention of the others but knowing Rada didn’t need this. “What are your orders?”

There was a brief pause as Rada almost slipped, his face dropped as thoughts of Wren almost hit him, but he managed to push them back down. He forced the smile to return to his face and spoke with utter confidence.

“I’ll need someone to liaise with tactical on developing a programme for randomizing shield modulation.”

No one was going to volunteer, most looked down to their feet, but one young woman accidentally met his eye line.

“Ensign, I’d appreciate it if you’d do that.”

She nodded and all eyes watched her as she took her hurried steps out the door. Only then did Rada continue.

“The rest of us will need to work on applying Desmarais’ algorithm to the shield configuration.”

With those words the glances turned from concern about how he was coping to questions about his sanity. He knew they wouldn’t understand why he’d chosen this, but he was in charge here and they had to listen.

They were listening, but they weren’t moving.

“That’s it,” Rada confirmed, a soft laugh entering his words as if he thought it was funny that they’d missed that.

Still, no one moved.

The laughter abruptly left his words. His eyes lost their previous determination, replacing it with desperation as he looked around for someone who’d respond.

Again Barlow was the one to break the silence.

“That’s an unusual choice, sir.”

“Yes, it is,” Rada acknowledged, frustration sneaking in between his words, but he tried to seem like he was amused. “But then I’m an unusual man, aren’t I?”

There was no laughter, no response.

Rada’s face dropped as he spoke slowly through gritted teeth directly now to Barlow.

“It’s still what I think is best.”

The man just slowly nodded his acknowledgement, before he began to speak again in his always calm tone.

“Of course, and we respect that. You’re the chief and we’ll accept this decision. It’s not that we’re not willing to attempt it. It’s just that Desmarais’ work while theoretically sound has never been practically applied to a ship this size.”

“No, no it hasn’t,” Rada admitted with just a hint of a stutter as he shook his head and shifted uneasily as he stood “but the theory is no different”

“In previous instances when it’s been applied the modified resistance was negligible. That’s not true of a ship this size,” Barlow gently reminded him.

“Then we’ll just have to account for it,” Rada said slowly approaching him, facing down Barlow who now felt more like an adversary than one of his Engineers.

“And how do we do that?” Barlow asked quietly, meeting Rada’s focused eyes.

Rada cringed, deeply drawing the surrounding air in through his nose then rapidly letting it out in a vain attempt to release his frustration. He spoke quickly, trying to seem like this were a simple matter. No one could miss that he was speaking directly to Barlow.

“Simple, we regress resistance against adaptive iterations.”

“That could work,” Barlow acknowledged and in his pause Rada almost thought he was done “but how do we make adaptive iterations without lowering the shields?”

“A dual configuration base,” Rada replied, just slightly defensively.

Barlow had no desire to argue and he allowed Rada a moment to gather his thoughts before he asked gently. “And where do we obtain the data for the transitive states?”

There was a pause as Rada realised he didn’t know. His breathing started to get heavier as he knew everyone around him was realising it too. He tried to focus, demanded answers from his mind. Then his face lit up as it hit him and he quickly rattled off his explanation.

“We can get an approximation by interpolating between the values for the simplified states.”

He exhaled and he almost genuinely smiled, feeling he’d caught Barlow now.

He hadn’t. Barlow didn’t want to do this, but he realised he had to.

“Okay, sir, and how do we compensate for the narrowing field density?”

Rada’s eyes narrowed, as he gritted his teeth and searched Barlow for some sign that he’d ever give up.

He couldn’t cope with this much longer, he had to get out of here. So he summoned all his strength as he simply insisted.

“We find a way.”

Then he turned rapidly around, loudly addressing the entire room as he stormed along the floor.

“We have in this department some of Starfleet’s finest minds and solving problems like this is what we do. That’s what we’re here for. We spent years at the Academy learning how to do just this. We have to…”

He stopped, taking his head into his hands, then he threw his hands down and resumed his pacing.

“We simply have to make this algorithm work.”

He turned around taking in all the eyes in the room of people ranging for concerned that he may be about to collapse to those terrified about what he may do.

Realising what he was doing, he made himself stop. Slowly he let the air escape his lungs as his closed his eyes for the briefest of seconds.

He continued on calmer.

“I know that you all probably think that I shouldn’t be here and that I can not be objective.” He admitted. “However, if what’s happened has effected my judgement in any way it’s that it’s made me more determined than ever to ensure this ship is secure.”

He turned back around to Barlow, “So I’m asking you,” He ensured he was looking Barlow straight in the eye; “I’m asking all of you, to believe me when I say that I know what I’m doing here. I need you to trust me when I say that this is what we have to do.”

He could hear the emptiness as his words were allowed to echo around the room. People stared, no one moved, then Barlow spoke once more.

“You heard the chief.” He said, addressing them all. “Let’s get to work.”

Then finally all the eyes turned away.

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

884: Gathering

by Jariel Camen
After Sympathy for Atlas

-=USS Alchemy=-

Jariel knew he would need to go below and see to informing everyone that was staying behind, that they would need to get ready to leave. He lingered on the bridge, hoping that if he gave Samson enough time to find a safe location for them, that when he went to inform the others he would at least be able to tell them where they would be going.

After about fifteen minutes of debating with Lair Kellyn, over Starbases, class M planets, and trading posts that were all either too far away to work or too seedy to be considered safe to leave children on, they came to an agreement on a Vulcan survey ship that was nearby on a science mission.

The Vulcans, of course, want to know every detail of who, what, where, when and why. Jariel could not imagine the frustration in her as she answered each question as diplomatically as possible, but in the end, the Vulcans agreed to provide safe harbor for those who would not be joining the Alchemy upon its return to the Sera. They were fortunate that, of all people, Lair Kellyn was in charge right now, for she more than anyone would know how to find her way through a Vulcan interrogation.

As soon as the Vulcan Captain provided her consent, Jariel stepped off the bridge, to head to the crew quarters. Tress greeted him first at his own quarters.

[Get your toys. We have to go soon,] He signed to her. Tress’s shoulders slumped. They, had, after all, just gotten here, and now papa wanted to leave? Her frustration lasted only a moment, as she ran to her case of belongings, pulled out the aviator helmet Zanh Liis had given her at the party, and plunked it atop her head. She flicked her hand in what was supposed to be her imitation of a salute, indicating that she was ready for action.

“Iz everything all right?” Fleur’s concerned voice filled the room, as she entered from the sleeping area around the corner.

“The Admiral will not send more ships.”

“Then what are we to do?”

“Kellyn is taking the Alchemy back, after we rendezvous with a Vulcan ship to deliver the children to safety.”

“But didn’t Captain Zanh…”

“Yes, she did,” Jariel answered before Fleur could even finish her sentence. “She told Kellyn to deliver the message, then take the Alchemy to safety on Earth. In a sense she has filled the order of taking everyone to safety, just not to the destination that the Captain chose.”

“I do not think the Captain will approve of zis line of reasoning,” Fleur said skeptically. “How is ze crew?”

“Talbot refused to help, and got himself a stay in the brig for his trouble.”

“Will you be…” Fleur feared to complete her question, wondering if Jariel was to stay with the group, or return to the fight on the Alchemy.

“My place is with you, to watch over the children and February. That is where I can do the most good for the crew. Get Tress and Pace ready to go, I need to tell the others.”

Fleur nodded, and took Tress by the hand to help her pack up what few things she had unpacked in the short time since they left the Sera. Jariel went door to door, telling each child and parent, teacher or caregiver with them, that they would soon be transporting to the Vulcan ship.

He arrived last at February’s quarters, intentionally, and let out a deep breath. It had been traumatic enough for her to leave the Sera in the first place, now Jariel was going to have to ask her to stay behind as the Alchemy returned home, even if it was into a possible fight.

He rang the chime and stepped inside after she called out that he may enter. He was silent at first and rocked back on his heels.

“What?” She asked.

“Commander Lair is taking the ship back to the Sera.”

“Great, when do we leave?” Bru said, a hint of enthusiasm almost making its way into her voice.

“We leave for the Vulcan ship within the hour. We’ll be safe there with the other children until the Alchemy or Sera returns for us.”

“Oh no!” Bru began to protest. “I’m the best pilot we have. I’m not hiding out on a Vulcan ship.” She crossed her arms defiantly. As she did, Sparrow ran into the room, and up onto the top bunk, leaning out just inches from Jariel’s face. “And I’m not wrestling him back into the carrier.”

“I promise angel, the next time you have to beam or shuttle anywhere, it will be to head back home. I’m sure Dalton would agree with me that too much moving around this late in the pregnancy cannot possibly be good for you.”

“Or anyone else,” She added.

“I’ll get Sparrow into his carrier, if you can gather up whatever things you have.”

“So I’m not getting a choice? Just moved around like a piece of cargo?”

“It could be worse. Talbot refused to follow Lair’s orders and he’s in the brig.” Jariel offered, as he picked the carrier up off the floor. As soon as he did, Sparrow was off the bunk like a bolt of lightning, and underneath it.

“Well that’s hardly surprising,” February shrugged, sounding most un-February as she added, “the man is a tool.”

Jariel reserved comment as he got down on his hands and knees and felt around for the cat, hearing only a low growl as he did.

“Sparrow, go easy on the poor Vedek,” February said, as she crammed her bathrobe back into a duffel.

The cat made a run for it, zipping past Jariel but finding himself cornered in the tiny quarters. Camen very gently placed his hands around the cat’s sides, steering clear of the protruding claws and teeth, and lifted him towards the carrier. Sparrow spat, and spread his rear legs apart to press against either side of the carrier, so Jariel could not lower him into it.

Camen turned the cat toward him, and said gently and patiently, “Please? For me?”

Sparrow went limp a bit, and Camen quickly dropped him into the carrier and zipped the lid before Sparrow realized what was happening. “Good kitty.”

He set the carrier next to February on the bed. “I’ll be back for you when we are ready to go, I promise.”

“I’ll be here,” She said with a sigh.

Camen stepped back out into the corridor and tapped his comm badge. “Jariel to Lair.”

[Go ahead.]

“Everyone is packed and ready to go, as soon as you give the word.”

[Thank you Jariel.]

Vedek Jariel Camen
Ship’s Chaplain
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

883: Casting the Lure

by Vol Tryst, Salvek, and Zanh Liis
After Space Ghosts

-=USS Serendipity=-

“Captain's Log, supplemental.

“At the insistence of my Executive Officer, we have lowered the shields just long enough to transport our CMO and our Ship's Counselor back from the Zenith. Hartcort had to come back, as I could not send the Alchemy out with expectant mothers and small children aboard without a physician no matter how short the trip is meant to be.

The Counselor, though, I would have preferred stay aboard the Zen so that he could keep an eye, not only on the developing situation, but on the mental health of the Away Team, as early reports indicate that being aboard the unnaturally silent and empty ship is already starting to take its toll on my officers.”

Zanh Liis continued rotating slowly from side to side in the chair at her desk in her ready room. She was weary of pacing, too wired for more coffee, and growing more anxious by the moment to hear that the Alchemy had reached the Gauntlet and that help was on the way.

They didn't need that help yet, but something told her, given the condition of poor Wren Elton, that they were going to.

She sighed, asking the computer to save her unfinished log entry as the chime sounded and the thin, elegant frame of Vol Tryst appeared before her. She had asked the Counselor for just one more minute of privacy so she could make her log entry, but could put him off not a moment more.

"Report." Zanh said softly, without the normal edge and strength to her voice to which Vol was accustomed. "Please." She added hastily, knowing that he had been under terrible strain himself. What must it be like, she wondered, for an empath to be in a situation where there was supposed to be life in every room, only to find that the space echoed as a cavern; silence only occasionally punctuated by the thoughts of those Sera crew people scattered about the Zenith.

It took only a split second for Vol to read and understand the depth of her worry, and he was sorry to think that the words he was about to say were only going to further fuel that concern.

"Salvek was able to gain only one useful piece of information from the meld, Captain."

Zanh nodded, holding her arms open in a gesture urging him wordlessly to just say it.

"The being in the Zenith's Sickbay is not Vulcan."

Zanh leaned forward in her chair. In very controlled, incremental movements which seemed so slow that they defied the speed at which time usually passed by, she rose. "If it's not Vulcan," Liis whispered hoarsely, "Then what the hell is it?"

"I don't know, Captain. We don't know." Vol admitted. "But I can tell you one thing for certain. Whatever it is, it did not come as a messenger of good will and peace among species."

"That much is obvious, no one attacks a civilian like Wren in the name of good will and…"

"Ymust ordeem to returtto da Zenit." Vol said. The word 'blurt' didn't accurately describe the manner in which he uttered the words. To prove this point, Zanh titled her head and nearly crisscrossed her eyes.

"I beg your pardon?"

Vol cleared his throat.

"Request permission to return to the Zenith."

"To do what?!" Zanh was now up from her seat, hands firmly flat against her desk as she stared in disbelief up into the eyes of the Counselor.

"Captain," Vol implored, "this species is bent on eliminating telepaths like myself. What better tool to accomplish such a goal than the one currently functioning within my brain? Once they familiarize themselves with it, the possibilities would be endless. All I need to do is talk to them and they will listen to me. I can stall them, give you and the Gauntlet enough time to…"

“To do what Vol? Escape? Ambush them? You can’t be serious. You want me to use you as a lightning rod?” Zanh shook her head as she spoke to punctuate her incredulity.

“But, if I could slow them down somehow Captain. Keep them occupied while we make some sort of move.”

“We don’t even know yet what happened to the Zenith’s crew! Who’s to say they wouldn’t just vaporize you on the spot with some sort of weapon we don’t even understand then move on to the Sera?” Zanh folded her arms over her chest and lowered her voice several octaves. “I appreciate what you want to do, but there is too much we don’t know yet.”

Zanh paused and thought for a moment, looking at the floor, then back up at Tryst. “Unless you can offer me some kind of reason as to why you think this will work. AND,” She added, almost wagging her finger at Vol, "how you intend to come home alive."

Vol said nothing.

“Your stunned silence is very reassuring.” The Captain opined.

Vol stood up straight, with a pleading look on his face as the Captain lowered her arm. The two locked eyes, and Vol knew that she had just presented him with a blockade that he could not hope to dodge or climb. She would have to clear it of his way, but she'd only be willing to do that once she got what she wanted. Vol made a mental note to play chess against this woman some time in the future.

Vol walked over to the panel on the wall, quickly tapped a number of sequences which all beeped in compliance. Vol then turned back to the Captain and held his own hands behind his back.

"Computer, open a channel to Sickbay on the Alchemy, Long-term Medical Hologram."

The bald headed hologram appeared a moment later on the small screen atop Zanh Liis’s desk.

[Ya’ll should know that ya got about three seconds to yap at me before we go to super-duper warp or whatever the hell they call it and I disappear from your screen faster than a skeeter during froggin’ season!] McKay announced in his trademark drawl upon seeing a perfectly healthy man and woman before him.

“If we’d had three seconds, they’re over now. Let Vol talk!” Zanh exclaimed, the edge returning to her tone.

"Doctor," Vol started, addressing the man. "I hereby abolish any and all verbal agreements between you and I as to keeping the current state of my health in the strictest confidence.”

Zanh's eyes opened wide, as her head almost robotically, and slowly, turned to look at Vol. "Excuse me?"

Zanh wasn't at all fazed by the fact that some members of her crew had private matters that they preferred not to discuss. Vol however, was a member of a race that is known around the Galaxy for their shrewd honesty.

For him to be harboring secrets took the Captain aback a bit. Furthermore, this particular secret was health related. In lieu of the Prophets, she swore to Keiran’s “God” that if Dalton was about to tell her that Vol had two weeks to live, she would kill Vol before he ever had the chance to go on this suicide mission.

"Captain," Vol muscled past the urge to look away from Zanh's face, which clearly had the expression of someone who was both exceptionally shocked, and ticked off. "Please, repeat your question."

Vol now looked down at the ground, he had hoped to spare himself the humiliation of telling the Captain his secret. Zanh didn't like this choice, but if there was ever a time for rapid disclosure, it was now.

"Dalton, how can Vol be sure that he can encounter this species and survive?"

The LMH didn't express any hesitation in sharing Vol’s secret now; in fact he seemed almost relieved to be rid of it.

[Ever since the Counselor recommenced his duties, he and I have had regular appointments. It's difficult to explain Cap’n, but in basic terms, his brain functionality has mutated through the influence of the device that once impaired his telepathy and empathy. Now, you remember we fixed that problem by reverting said device's function back to its original setting. That solution is exactly what's causing a change in him. The Counselor shows symptoms of increased psychic skill. Through exploratory means and experiments, we've discerned that…]

"No!" Zanh held a hand up. "Enough." Zanh slammed her hand down on the computer, cutting the link to the LMH, and marched right up to Vol so that the Betazoid was forced to look at her right in the eye, as she stared into his.

"I asked you to give me an answer. You can't pass this off to the Doctor. I asked you to supply me with a satisfactory reason why I should let you pull this little stunt, and I expect you to comply. That's an order." Zanh was distressed, which was coming off as anger, but Vol didn't sense anger in her more than just frustration. She asked for a simple explanation from him, and he was still trying to dodge the blockade.

Vol sighed. "It would seem that I have developed the ability to mask my mind from those who would otherwise be able to sense that I am telepathic. To them, I would appear completely human."

“So,” Zanh processed what Vol was trying to get across to her. “You’re saying that you can…portion out…your telepathic abilities to be recognized by the aliens? Giving them enough to sense you, and be drawn to you, but still at the same time, closing yourself off to them before they can locate you exactly?”

“I could keep them confused and guessing. While they are focused on the Zenith, you can be doing whatever it is that needs to be done to stop them.”

“And if Blane and Briggs are right, we may have some idea of how to attempt to do that.”

She thought for a moment, and was about to grant approval to the plan, when her door chime rang. The sound caused Zanh Liis to bow her head a moment as if wondering what could possibly be next.

“Come in!” The doors opened and First Officer, along with Lieutenant Ryn, entered the room. “Salvek? Who’s minding the Zenith?”

“I left Commander O’Sullivan and a few members of his security team on the bridge. Captain, we need to speak with you immediately.”

“Wait. Just wait,” Liis was being bombarded from all sides by information, and she needed everyone in the same room to get all the ideas on the table. “Five minutes, conference room. Get everyone in there, Salvek. Vol, we’ll discuss your plan and what you need there.”

“Of course,” Tryst said in apology, as he snapped out of his contemplation and followed Ryn out of the ready room.

Salvek summoned anyone crucial to the meeting who wasn’t present on the bridge, and then raised Keiran on subspace to join the conversation. He ignored the rumbling of bass coming from the ready room and noted that her restraint was remarkable in terms of the volume. Usually the song of choice was readily identifiable, but not today.

However, if he were a Ferengi given to betting and not a Vulcan, Salvek would have put his latinum down on the wager that the artist most likely performing the song in question was known as Green Day.

When the rumbling ceased, the Captain appeared on the bridge, as the five-minute time limit expired. Salvek followed her into the conference room, and took his seat at the table.

“We need to get on the same page, people. I want everyone to summarize what they’ve found out. Salvek. Briefly.” Zanh stressed, not looking for a long-winded explanation.

“Lieutenant Ryn discovered that Silav, the Vulcan imposter, sabotaged the Zenith’s sensors to mask the use of transporters.”

Across the table Reece nudged Ryn with his elbow, as if to say “good job.”

“The Force is strong in this one…” Reece babbled into her ear, but of course Ryn had no idea what that meant and could only blink in confusion as Zanh loudly cleared her throat to silence the enthusiastic Science chief.

Salvek continued, “We believe their transporters are perhaps based upon subspace technology to allow them to take people from great distances. Possibly even outside our own galaxy.”

“So the Zenith crew could be, where?” Zanh asked.

“Anywhere in the Universe, theoretically. We also hypothesize that to generate the power necessary to operate such a device would require a massive amount of energy. Possibly based in a stellar core.”

Blane snapped his head up at the mention of “stellar core.”

“Briggs and I found radiation patterns in this system consistent with what you would find in a star.”

“That shouldn’t be,” Reece chimed in, hearing of this for the first time.

“No, and we also saw what looked like a ship possibly, approach the Zenith then split with it exactly when her crew vanished. The radiation then moved into a large mass of radiation, what we believe could be a portal.”

“What if the radiation wasn’t a ship?” Ryn asked. “What if this energy is what they use to probe? Searching for telepathic signatures then locking their transporters when they find a ship or planet with telepathic life?”

"Either option is possible," Vol offered. "The energy could be ship, a method of scanning with going through the portal, or maybe it's both. Maybe their ship comes through cloaked, and scans using the same radiation?" Vol felt like he was already stating the obvious.

"But if their goal is to kidnap, transport and kill all telepaths, then why was the entire crew of the Zenith taken? Could they have resisted? Maybe forcing the aliens to just abduct them all?"

“Maybe they didn’t feel like taking the time to figure out who was who, so they just took everyone and decided to sort them out wherever it is they ended up,” Reece suggested.

“However they did it, we know the signals to look for now. Reece, I want the sensors to set off every alarm on the ship at the first sign of a transporter or any unusual radiation. Counselor Tryst suggested that he might be able to draw the attention of the aliens so as to make them vulnerable to us, and I have…reluctantly…” Zanh seemed to nearly choke on the last word, “decided to allow it. So, Vol, we’ll try your plan, but I’m not leaving you on the Zenith alone,” Zanh said.

[My people and I will hold down the bridge, Captain, if you prefer. We’ll get ev’ra’one off the ship at the first sign’a trouble.] Keiran volunteered from the Zenith's bridge.

“Very well,” Zanh replied, without batting an eyelash, despite fully understanding that her husband had just volunteered to be the ground for their lightning rod.

“Captain I recommend we keep armed Security officers in engineering at all times, in case they try to place an infiltrator here like they did on the Zenith,” Blane suggested. Zanh looked at Dengar for his opinion.

“Having armed men in a room with a warp core is just asking for an accident to happen, but as long as they stay clear and let my people do their job…” Dengar said.

The Captain reluctantly agreed to Blane’s suggestion. “I want everyone prepared in one hour.”

“Captain,” Salvek interjected. “If I may ask, if the Counselor is successful in drawing the aliens out into the open, what do we intend to do?”

“We’re going to figure out how to talk to them, and ask them what the hell they’ve done with our people.”

“And if they are not forthcoming with that information?” Salvek inquired.

“Then I hope they are ready for a fight, because that’s exactly what we’re going to give them.”

LT. Vol Tryst
Ship’s Counselor
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

Commander Salvek
First Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


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

882: Sympathy for Atlas

by Lair Kellyn
Following Space Ghosts


Soundtrack: No Line on the Horizon, by U2


-=USS Alchemy=-

Commander Lair Kellyn clenched her teeth together so tightly that her jaw instantly began to throb. She replayed the voice of Zanh Liis in her head, as the Serendipity's Captain had asked her if she was clear as to her orders.

She was perfectly clear.

That didn't mean that she agreed with them in the least.

Very slowly she lowered herself down into the command chair at the center of the bridge. Her hands tightened, and she sank her fingernails into the armrests to the point of risking puncture to the leather upholstery.

As everyone present waited on her expectantly, at last she managed to choke out only three tightly strangled words.

"Take us out."

"Aye, Commander." Gira Lassiter replied as she brought the helm to life. "Coordinates set for a transwarp jump as soon as we're clear of the Serendipity."

Kellyn lowered her head and raised it again in acknowledgment.

Dane Cristiane, who was manning the tactical station, shot a look to Gira. He had seen many degrees of what he could call 'pissed off' in his time. As it happened, he himself had lived in a continual state at the top of the charts measuring that particular emotion for most of his life.

He had also known Zanh Liis for several years by now. He knew pissed off when he saw it.

He had never seen anyone quite as pissed off as Lair Kellyn was today.

Micah Samson simply sighed as he set about reading scans that were at best confusing and at worst completely useless. The readings in this area of space were unlike anything he'd seen before.

Moments passed in tomb-like silence as Lair's eyes seemed to burn holes in the forward viewscreen. At last, Lassiter gently cleared her throat.

"We're ready to initiate the transwarp drive, Commander Lair, upon your order."

"Stand by." Kellyn rose and walked to the engineering station. She looked over the readings and then tapped her badge.

"Bridge to Halliday."

[Happy to be of service, Commander. What can I do for-]

"Just tell me that you've double checked and we're ready to go to transwarp." Lair interrupted, with even less than her normally low level of tolerance for the ebullient Terran engineer.

[Triple checked, actually. I mean, I know that it violates the number one rule of engineering efficiency, but I just thought-]

"Thank you, Jamie. Lair out." She sighed a quick, forceful puff of air and spun the heel of her boot toward Lassiter. "Initiate."

"Aye, Sir." Gira's hands flew over the helm and the ship's engine began to hum in a higher pitched tone.

Lair closed her eyes and listened. By listening, even more than by looking, she could tell if it was out of calibration or if everything was precisely tuned.

Satisfied that everything sounded as though it was in order, she sat down at the engineering station and continued monitoring the temperature of the transwarp core.

She was much more in her element at this station than in the command chair, anyway.

Moments later the whirring slowed and then stopped, as the ship completed the cycle and resumed travel at standard warp.

"Time until we intercept the Gauntlet?" Lair asked.

"Actually we...just missed them." Gira announced, biting her lip. "We overshot them a little. Adjusting course to compensate. We should be able to hail them shortly."

"The sooner the better." Lair grumbled, even as a small voice inside of her repeated the same sentence again and again: This is not going to go well...

She looked up as she heard the doors to the turbolift open. Vedek Jariel stepped out and approached her.

"All is well up here?"

"Just peachy." Kellyn growled softly; a phrase she had picked up from years of associating with Dabin Reece. The way she said it, which was the same way that he said it, made it sound as offensive as the most elaborate Klingon profanity ever conceived of.

And the Klingons, like the Bajorans, knew their profanity.

"Happy to hear it." Jariel said with a warm smile, for the sake of the rest of the crew but also because he hoped to remind her that not all was lost yet. If he had learned one thing about Lair over the years it was her tendency to always assume that the worst was going to happen.

Of course he also knew her well enough to realize that this had only become the case after the experiences of her life had proven the point by beating her naturally occurring, childhood optimism out of her. Literally.

He was a child of war, but Kellyn was a child of the Resistance. That brought with it a weight and a history that he could hardly begin to fathom. Sometimes, he honestly didn't know how she carried it.

"Can I have a word with you privately, Commander?"

"Jariel," Kellyn lowered her voice, her eyes shifting slightly. She didn't have time for a sermon.


The way he spoke the word was far more effective than if he'd grabbed and twisted her arm behind her, and so Kellyn rose and stepped just out of earshot of the rest. "You have something to say, Vedek Jariel?"

"Just that..." Jariel put a hand on her shoulder and squeezed gently. "If there's anything I can do to help."

"Thank you. But I think we've got it all covered up here. You can go back to...what was it you were doing?"

"I was checking on February. She was quite upset about the evacuation. She's resting in Sickbay. Her blood pressure was elevated, the LMH is watching her closely."

"Not as elevated as mine was when it took her so long to board this ship." Lair had trouble feeling a lot of sympathy for Grace at the moment. Everyone had problems of their own- and she didn't have time for a front row seat for the pregnant diva follies at the moment. "Are the children all right?"

"Tam Elton is understandably distraught. He seemed uncomfortable when I tried to talk to him about his mother though, so I thought it best to let Fleur take over and try to distract him for now. She has the children assembled in the galley, working on some art projects."

"Good. Could you, tell Arie," Lair's words caught at the back of her throat as she tried to enunciate them.

"I'll tell her that you're working very hard up here so that we can all go back home soon." Jariel lowered his eyes, and turned toward the lift. "Remember, if I can help,"


Then he was gone, and Kellyn sank once again into the center seat and contemplated how she was going to take the sketchy information that had been entrusted to her to deliver to the Admiral and turn it into a convincing enough argument to get Lassiter to authorize calling in the Calvary.

Her thoughts drifted back to the Serendipity. She wondered if Salvek was back aboard or if he was still in command of the empty Zenith. She wondered about Wren's condition, and wished that she hadn't had to leave at a time when she was certain that Rada needed her friendship more than ever.

She thought of Reece, how he must be going out of his mind with his wife and unborn daughter being sent off without him even having a chance to offer reassurance that they'd be together again soon.

Of course, any such reassurances would only be empty wishes; hopeful thoughts and prayers without any substance; most of which may very well depend upon her own ability to convince Lassiter that something was very wrong, and making it right again was going to take nothing short of a miracle.

She had no idea how much time had passed when she became aware of someone calling her name. Repeatedly.

She blinked and looked up. "What is it, Cristiane?"

"I have the Gauntlet on subspace. They want to know why you wish to speak to the Admiral. Apparently she's sleeping."

"Tell them that I'm here on behalf of Zanh Liis, and that if Admiral Lassiter wants any chance of seeing her son again, she had better listen to what I have to say."

-=/\=-Guest Quarters, USS Gauntlet=-

In dreaming, her mind skipped from event to event; all things that had taken place in a year long gone.

A patchwork of images overlapped and melted together. Flooding her consciousness at once, making any one scene all but impossible to isolate from the others.

The investigation.

The truth, revealed.

Then there was the sound of his voice, ringing in her head with perfect clarity as if he were still standing before her.

"Gem, if we do this you might regret it tomorrow."

The whispering echo of his words was followed by a similarly familiar, far yet near sound. That of her own words of reply, reverberating somewhere deep inside of her and resonating just as they had that night all those years ago when everything changed.

"If we don't, I'll regret it for the rest of my life."

[Bridge to Admiral Lassiter.]

Gem's eyes snapped open. It took an instant for her to remember where she was, what year it was. She sat up and caught sight of her reflection in the mirror on the opposite wall, and quickly, it all came back to her.

This was 2389.

The gray hair framing her features and the lines deeply etched into the skin at the corners of her eyes indicated that she was in her 'proper' time; not on a Jump.

She raised her hand and touched the tips of her fingers to her face. The sensation of the action was in perfect synchronization with the image in the glass, reinforcing that she was the woman staring back from it.

Only after the second request for her attention was she able to find her voice and respond. "Go ahead."

[We're being hailed by Commander Lair Kellyn. She's aboard the USS Alchemy and demanding to speak with you immediately.]

"Lair? Are you certain?" Gem's heart rate increased and she suddenly felt short of breath.

If Zanh had given command of the Alchemy to Lair of all people, that meant that the situation back at the Zenith's last known location had gone from worse to disastrous.

[Yes, Admiral, we're certain. Would you like to beam over or should we connect her via secure channel to your quarters?]

"Here," she responded. "Lassiter out." She struggled to stand on tremulous legs, and staggered toward the desk. She slumped down into the chair, folded her hands on the shiny surface of the desktop, and waited.

-=USS Alchemy; Fifteen minutes later=-

Jariel returned to the bridge to check up on things, and found that Lair had already finished her conversation with Admiral Lassiter and immediately disappeared into the small adjacent ready room.

That was where he found her, still pacing and muttering to herself when he finally gave up ringing the chime and entered without her prior consent.

"Damn that woman. She's not willing to risk Starfleet's sterling reputation even to save eight hundred people? Not to save even her own son?" Kellyn stopped before the desk and looked down at a small picture that sat there. It was an image of Zanh and her husband, captured only recently and installed here at the Captain's request.

She picked the frame up and held it in her hands, completely unaware that she was no longer alone.

"What would you do if you were in my place, Zanh Liis?"

"It doesn't matter what Zanh Liis would do." Jariel approached and gently took the frame from her grasp, returning it to its proper location. "What is Lair Kellyn going to do? After all, she is the one in command of this ship, you know."

Lair ground her teeth again and shook her head from side to side. "I know. And I also know what I want to do. But you see, there's this little problem with that. A matter concerning a direct order I'm supposed to follow."

"I hate those."

"Me too. You have no idea how much I've come to hate those." Kellyn moved toward the viewport and allowed her head to drop into her hands.

"I take it that Admiral Lassiter denied the Captain's request for more ships," Jariel surmised.

"Turned us down flat. I don't understand it, Jariel. This is the brand new flagship we're talking about. Her entire crew, not to mention the Sera's crew is now clearly in danger as well. You'd think that they'd be willing to send every ship in the fleet to stop anyone else from being lost. Even if." She left her thought unfinished, not wanting to complete it.

"Even if the Zenith's crew cannot be recovered."

Lair nodded.

"Well, I can't tell you to disobey a direct order from Starfleet. We both know what the consequences will be if you do."

"Then tell me this, Jariel. How will I live with the consequences of what is going to happen if I don't?"

Jariel folded his hands together and inhaled slowly. He held the breath a moment before releasing it and parting his lips again to speak. "I know a woman," he began, the spark of memory lighting his deep brown eyes with a glow she'd seldom seen, "who once disobeyed a direct order and took on an entire ship full of Borg to save one man. A woman who has always charged head first into the fight, any fight, whenever she had to, to protect the people she loved."

"And damn the repercussions." Kellyn couldn't admit to him that she feared that the woman who had done those things might not exist any longer.

"Precisely." Jariel reached into his pocket and pulled out a small item. He regarded it a moment before he held it out toward her. "If that woman clears her mind and truly considers her options, she will have absolutely no problem coming up with the answer. She will know exactly what it is she has to do and how she'll live with the outcome, whatever that is."

Kellyn glanced up as the light bouncing off the item he held in his hand caught her attention. "What's that?"

"Your daughter asked me to bring this to you. To her mother, the 'current Commanding Officer of the USS Alchemy'."

"For about another five minutes before I get myself court-martialed, you mean." Kellyn sighed as she took it from him. She saw that it was a small, beaded pendant suspended from a length of dark elastic cord. It was a necklace, made of wire bent into the shape of the Starfleet insignia and embellished as only a child could with bright blue and crystal clear beads.

The 'art-project' that Fleur had overseen had apparently been taken very seriously by her very intense young daughter.

"She asked me to tell you something." Jariel added, already turning and heading for the door.

"What's that?"

"That she is proud of you and that she knows that you will take care of everything."

Kellyn's knees suddenly felt like they'd turned to jelly.

As the doors shut behind Jariel, she sank to the deck.

She leaned against the wall, closed her eyes, and began to pray.

She didn't know if anyone was listening, and anyway she wasn't really making a request for help or guidance. She was making a request for strength to do what she knew she had to do now, and a plea in advance for forgiveness if it turned out that she was making the biggest mistake of her life.

She stared down at the necklace Arie had made for her with such care, and slowly she slipped it on over her head. It came to rest against her chest, and she tucked it inside of the collar of her uniform.

Then she drew a long breath, steeled herself, and rose.

Without a moment's hesitation, she walked out onto the bridge and addressed the assembled company, which included a very pensive Vedek Jariel Camen.

"I'm about to commit a direct violation of our orders." Lair announced, taking the time to meet each person's eyes as they probed hers for answers. "If anyone has any problem with that, just say the word and I will put you off the ship at the first opportunity with those who need a safe place to go."

"This...won't be a safe place anymore?" Samson asked nervously.

"No it won't Micah." Kellyn answered honestly. As his expression asked her why, she continued without taking another breath. "Because I'm about to send the children and any others who want to go...and Lieutenant Grace..." Kellyn rolled her eyes, knowing Bru would not want to leave and may have to be sedated to accomplish the task. "...off onto the first safe ship or port we can find."

"Then what happens?" Dane inquired, intrigued. He had no doubt that whatever Lair had in mind, if it was going to somehow help the Sera's crew, that he was in.

"Then we turn around and go straight back to help our crew, in any way that we can." She reached up and touched the pendant Arie had made her through the fabric of her tunic, patting it gently.

Then she watched as a small smile appeared on Jariel's face, and he nodded to her his approval.

"Anyone wishing to opt out, say so now. Because I am probably about to bring a quick end to my long and colorful Starfleet career, I don't want to take anybody with me unless they're certain they want to go."

"We're a crew." Dane responded, knowing from the look on Gira's face that she had already made up her mind. "We stick together, Sir."

Kellyn's heart sped up. The light returned to her eyes as she finally felt that things were about to start happening. "All right. No one has any objections?"

"I do." A voice from the back of the bridge spoke up and a lone man stepped forward. "If you plan to violate the direct orders of both Captain Zanh and Admiral Lassiter, I'll be forced to do everything in my power to try to stop you."

"Who the hell are...oh. It's only you." Kellyn frowned, looking over to see Lieutenant Elliot Talbot had turned three different, gradient shades of the color red at hearing her last three words. "Talbot I don't have time to debate the ethics of this decision with you. I'm in command here, and I'm ordering this ship back to the front. I'll ask you one more time. Will you follow my orders?"

Talbot smugly folded his arms and smirked the most self-righteous, pompous looking expression Lair had ever seen. "No, I will not, Lair Kellyn. I want you to leave me out of this. Send me away with the rest of the passengers."

Lair was, however, too smart to fall for this.

She knew the instant he had the opportunity, he'd tell their superiors what she was planning to do. "Have it your way. I'll leave you out of it." She inclined her head towards Dane.

"Mister Cristiane?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Secure Lieutenant Talbot in the brig and leave him there until further notice."

The smug smile vanished from Talbot's face as Dane quickly drew his phaser, and a similar expression instantly appeared upon his face instead. "Yes, Sir."

"Are you entirely certain of this?" Jariel whispered in her ear, even as Talbot was led away, still complaining loudly that Lair would 'get hers'. "This really could mean the end of your career, Kellyn."

"Better an end to my career than to have to live with my conscience later if I don't do what I know I have to do to save our family back there." Kellyn said, and with a heaviness in her heart that made all around her seem capable of dragging her down, she again took up the Captain's chair. "Micah, since Dane is busy I need you to do some shopping for me."

"Shopping, Sir?"

"Yes. For a place to park our passengers."

Commander Lair Kellyn
Starfleet Research and Development
Currently in command of the USS Alchemy

881: Space Ghosts

vby TC Blane and Zanh Liis*
Concurrent with Another Piece of the Puzzle

-=USS Serendipity=-

TC paced back and forth across the bridge as he waited impatiently for the Alchemy to depart. It seemed to be taking forever and he made a mental note to run drills to cover the emergency evacuation process when this situation was all done with.

His nerves were on edge, there was danger here and you did not have to be a telepath or empathic to sense it.

“Helm, what the status of the Alchemy?” He asked as he approached the console. He question draw Zanh Liis’ attention as she had just asked the question less then five minutes prior after returning from Sickbay.

“They are just waiting for Lieutenant Grace to get aboard then they will be departing.” The helmsman said.

TC resumed his pacing.

“Thomas, you’re going to wear out a grove in my new deck plates.” Liis commented. “Something troubling you?”

TC made his way to stand next to the Captain and folded his arms across his chest. “Yes.”

Liis nodded. “Care to elaborate?”

He glanced at her with his icy blue eyes. “I wish I could.” He shrugged his shoulders. “I’m just waiting for the shoe to drop.”

Liis simply nodded knowing full well what her second officer meant. What bothered her more was the fact that TC was on edge. She knew the man who stood next to her as well as herself. If TC Blane was edgy then everyone needed to be on their toes.

“That’s odd,” Paxton Briggs voice broke the uncomfortable silence that had descended on the bridge. He had hopped into covering the science station so that Commander Reece could see his pregnant wife safely to the Alchemy.

“Commander?” The Captain asked looking for a more complete description as TC, not able to stand still, made his way over the to stand behind the visiting officer.

“I was syncing with the Alchemy’s flight computer and updating the latest star telemetry to help prep a warp path for then when I got the oddest of readings.” He explained. “I am seeing spikes in electromagnetic radiation. That in itself is not odd, the universe is full of it.”

TC folded his arms across his chest. “So what’s the problem?”

“It’s where this radiation sits the electromagnetic band. This is not what a typical stellar EMR band looks like. Out here it is normally up in the higher ends of the band, this stuff is near the bottom. It is almost pure EM radiation, like straight from the center of a star.”

Zanh Liis now rose up from her new chair and joined the two men at the science console. “So what you are saying is that this particular band of EMR should not be here.” She asked.

Paxton nodded. “From what we know of basic stellar exploration, no it shouldn’t.”

“Okay. So why is it here?” TC asked.

“How did it get here?” Liis added as they both looked at Paxton.

Pax’s eyes grew wide as he shrugged. “Beats me, I’m just a temp. But I’ll see what I can come up with.”

“Captain, the Alchemy is requesting permission to depart.”

“Granted,” Liis replied simply. The sooner that ship was as far away from here as it could get in a transwarp jump, the more relieved she would be. She took a cursory glance at the vessel on the viewscreen and felt a horrible sense of dread that she would be seeing the Alchemy again soon, and not when she expected to. She walked to the fore of the bridge, her cursory glance now turning into a concerned stare.

“Hail them.” Zanh ordered suddenly. She waited for Tenney to raise the ship and a moment later Lair Kellyn’s voice came over the comm.

[Alchemy here.]

"You’re clear on your orders, Commander?” Zanh asked.

[Clear, sir.] Lair replied, her tone clearly indicating her overwhelming joy that the Captain had felt the need to check up on her before she left.

“Safe journey,” Zanh nodded to Tenney, and the channel was closed. She turned her attention back to Paxton Briggs, who was still at the Science station while they waited for Reece to come back up from below. Blane was over Briggs’s shoulder, and the two of them were pointing at the monitor and whispering. She moved to join the two of them to see what they had found.

“So, gentleman, why are we picking up stellar radiation when the nearest star is light-years away?”

Paxton sighed. “Well, we tried to narrow down the possible causes. Mister Blane suggested it might be residual from a star that went supernova or some other event here in the system. I check the archives and while there is little information on this sector of space, there are no recorded events. A starship would not cause it nor would any kind of weapon. Well, one that we know of anyway.”

TC chimed in. “We widened out the scan and set the sensors to look for this particular band of EMR in hopes of tracing it back to its source.”

Pax nodded. “This is what we found.” He hit a button on the console to display a graphic of the scan results. “The red area is the EMR we are looking for, the blue area is normal EMR activity.”

Liis frowned. The red area formed a large circular path in the middle of the blue patch. There was what seemed to be a red streak extending from the red circle that seemed to trace a red pattern through space before returning back to the red circle.

“It is almost a perfect circle.” She pointed to the red random string on the monitor. “But what is that?”

Paxton and TC exchanged glances before Pax spoke up. “We have a theory.”

Liis nodded. “I thought you might.”

“We think that the radiation is residual trace energy from some sort of portal.” Pax continued.

TC nodded. “We think the red string of EMR you see leaving the so called portal is a ship or energy mass of some sort.”

Liis nodded. “And that is its flight path.” Both men nodded.

Paxton continued. “What we think is happening is that whatever they are using as a power source to create this ‘portal’ leaves trace radiation. Our guess is that they must be tapping into a star, or nova, to power whatever device they are using.”

“Are we’re positive this is not a natural event?” Liis was certain of this but she had to make sure all possibilities were considered.

TC bent over the console and hit a button. “I wondered that myself because the path of the radiation string looked so random. So, I compared it to the flight path of the Zenith.” He overlaid the Zenith’s flight path with the map of the EMR string and Liis' eyes widened in shock. With a few minor exceptions they mirrored each other perfectly until one point where the Zenith’s flight path levels out straight and the EMR path turns away and returns to the portal.

“They were stalked and then attacked?” Liis questioned.

TC nodded. “That is what the information we have here suggests.” He tapped the screen at the point where the two paths separate. “This is the point I would say something happened. Exactly what, we don’t know.”

“Pax, can you estimate when exactly the two paths separated? I want to see how close that time is to the timestamp on Nick Lassiter's last message.”

“Just give us another minute,” Briggs requested.

Zanh turned away to allow them a moment to think in peace. She glanced toward the turbolift as she heard the hiss of the doors opening, and saw Vol Tryst step out onto the bridge. His eyes indicated that he was clearly anxious to speak with her. She pointed towards the ready room and mouthed, "Just a second."

She wanted to get some answers from Briggs and Blane, and was due an update in her log before she could take a moment to talk to Vol. She had been making them every fifteen minutes, even if it was just to indicate nothing new was happening. If what happened to the Zenith happened to them, she wanted every moment leading up to it captured in the logs.

"Captain?" Blane said, getting her attention back. "Perfect match."

"How?" Zanh asked.

"I used the decay rate on the radiation to determine how long ago it was emitted, and the moment the Zenith and whatever this was split coincides exactly with the timestamp of Lassiter's message," Briggs said.

"Thomas, I think you need to get this ship ready for a fight. I need to find out what Vol knows, and then we'll continue this. Any other bad news for me? Pile it on." Zanh glanced back and forth between the two men.

TC thought for a moment. “Actually I think there might be good news from this information. The fact that who, or whatever attacked the Zenith did it by stealth suggests that they might not be able to beam through our shields. I suggest that both ships go to yellow alert as a pre-caution. It is just another theory but theories are all we have.” He smirked. “A good plan executed today is better than a perfect plan executed at some indefinite point in the future.”

Pax looked up from the console. “Patton?”

TC nodded affirmation of the correct guess.

Commander TC Blane
Second Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


-=/\=- Zanh Liis O’Sullivan
(*As told by Commander Salvek)
Commanding Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

NRPG: The Captain has been on unavoidable medical leave and the crew has been doing a fine job keeping her in the action. Thank you everyone. ~ZL

880: Another Piece of the Puzzle

by Lara Valera Ryn and Salvek
After Riddle Me This

She wanted to throw the PADDs across the room. It would have certainly made her feel better. They revealed everything...and nothing. Lara now knew more about what the crew of the Zenith had been doing probably better than they themselves had known prior to their disappearance. She had even plotted their locations on the ship, based on the routine reports that everyone made.

And still nothing. Nothing out of the ordinary was going on and then poof! Everyone was gone.

Time for a new angle. Lara took a deep breath and turned toward the science console, which she was sitting in front of. "Computer, display a crew roster."

The computer beeped and provided her a list, dividing the people first by department and then by rank. The names meant nothing to her. It was just a list, nothing more, nothing to provide any context about who these people were. Not one shred of evidence.

And then it came to her.

"Computer, is it possible to access the personnel logs of the crew members?"


"Okay, then do it."

^A level one command code is required for that function.^

"Of course it is. How silly of me to have forgotten." Lara rolled her eyes at the computer and then pushed the chair in which she was sitting away. She plopped down on the floor and yanked off the cover in front of the console. She ducked her head underneath and took a look at the inner workings of the panel, becoming immersed in her work, so much so that she did not hear the footsteps behind her.

"Lieutenant, what are you doing on the floor?"

Lara bumped her head against the console and yelped. Placing her hand on her head, she the slowly scootched out and stood up to see Commander Salvek standing next to her. She wanted to say, When did you get back? but instead replied, "Trying to re-wire the science console."

Salvek raised a pointed eyebrow, and then asked, "To what end?"

"I want to access the personnel files. Maybe there is nothing out of the ordinary, but we won't know..." She trailed off when she saw Salvek nod his head.

"Computer," he said, "upload the personnel files for all Zenith crew members to the bridge science station."

^Level one command code required,^ the computer droned.

"Salvek, Upsilon Five Omega Seven."

The computer beeped and started to compile the files.

"Might I recommend," Salvek began, "you start with an Engineer named Silav. An alien was posing under that name and I would like to know if and when there was a change in his personal logs that may have indicated when the actual engineer may have been replaced."

Salvek looked off towards the viewscreen where he saw the Alchemy gliding out of its bay, with Lair Kellyn in command.

"I will be home soon," he said to no one in particular but the ship on the screen before him. The Captain had made the logical choice, getting those in the most danger of harm away from this location.

"I beg your pardon?" Ryn asked.

"Nothing, carry on." Salvek felt a nearly imperceptible shift in the plates below him. Besides raising the shields, he had programmed a series of low thruster speed evasive maneuvers into the helm, to keep their speed and heading randomized in case something was attempting to target the ship. His task at the moment was to continue collecting any information he could until the Captain decided on their next move.

After a few moments, it was Lara's turn to call out, "Nothing."

Salvek turned around and looked toward the science station. Lara swung around in the chair to face him and clarified, "There isn't much to go on. There were only four personal logs made during this voyage, each one shorter than the last. Things like Reported for duty or Completed calisthenics routine successfully."

Salvek nodded and then asked, "What about duty reports?"

"According to the engineering roster, he was punctual for every shift and performed his duties admirably. Other people may have been late, or not completed their tasks, but never Silav. But just doing your duty competently is not a bad thing on a ship. Then again, if you want to stay off the radar, you don't think outside the box."

Salvek nodded for a second time and began to think about the sparse details. A minute later, he suggested, "Have you compared his work schedule with the duties being performed in engineering at the time? Even those he was not assigned to."

She shook her head. "No, but that's not hard to do." She swung back around to the console and tapped the console to reorganize the data sitting in the screens in front of her. "Well, now that is interesting," she finally said. “Take a look at this.”

Salvek crossed the bridge to the science station, and stood over her shoulder. He looked at the duty reports Ryn had spread out side by side on the screen. Silav was indeed the model of Vulcan efficiency. Too efficient. The computer records of his workstation access indicated that he had completed each of his tasks quick enough to allow him enough time to log into the sensors systems and make modifications, before moving on to his next task.

“Isolate each modification he made to the Science systems and see if you can determine what he was doing.” Salvek ordered.

Ryn filtered out the assigned tasks, and began assembling the changes made to the science system like a puzzle.

“Looks like he was very slowly but surely filtering out the programming in the computer that recognizes transporter usage. Then he overloaded the secondary backups.”

“Why would he do that?”

“Well,” Ryn continued, “Once the mains have been altered you can only disable the secondary backup with command authorization.”

“Or sabotage,” Salvek added. “It seems however that there are no other ships nearby. Is it possible there is some sort of transported tied to the subspace distortions in this area of space?”

“A subspace transporter? Or a wormhole of some sorts? I can’t even imagine the power that would be necessary to make such a device work.”

Salvek thought about it for a moment, and it occurred to him that it was entirely possible that the sensors had never been repaired before the Zenith crew vanished. “What is the status of the sensors now?”

"Lemme check," she replied before tapping a few buttons. A few seconds later, she took in a deep breath.

Salvek did not need to wait for her to verbalize the sound. The situation had not changed since the original Zenith crew had disappeared. Combined with Vol Tryst's warning and the presence of Silav, things were definitely not looking good.

"Commander, they could still be out there. Whoever they are."

Salvek once again thought of the counselor's premonition. "Assuming the crew of the Zenith was transported off the ship, would there be any way for us to block another attempt?"

Lara grimaced. "Maybe. But we'd have to know what transported them in the first place. Without that, we could not make any modification to the shields to block their beam."

"We are also assuming that there is some technological compatibility. If, to use your term, they have superior technology, our efforts would be in vain."

Shaking her head, she mumbled, "What I wouldn't give for a pile of dirt with some bones right now."

Salvek rested his hand on his chin in thought for a moment. “The uncertainty of that course of action is not acceptable. We need to more effective strategy then simply hoping we can deflect their attack.”

“So what do we do?”

“We talk to the Captain.”


Lieutenant Lara Valera Ryn
Science Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Commander Salvek
First Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

879: What Shall Not Stand

by Rada Dengar
After Two Words

-=USS Serendipity=-

Only an instant was allowed with the shields down for Rada to be beamed back to the Sera, but that was all it took for crewman Parrish to get him there. As the Angosian materialised back onto the transporter pad his face was frozen, with an absence that Parrish had never seen in him before. It was only broken by the briefest flash of relief followed by what could almost have been called guilt before freezing up again.

Rada had not even considered the fact that he’d be immediately brought here, not to sickbay to see Wren. He’d been granted a momentary reprieve from the site he knew would confront him and it felt horrible to realise how good that’d felt. He should want to be there to do everything in his power to comfort her.

He barely acknowledged Parrish was there at first. Then his eyes dropped instantly down to his position and he just seemed to stare. He was realising that if he let himself then he may never reach sickbay, just walk the halls of the ship until he heard her condition had changed. If it changed for the worse then he knew he’d never see her.

In that moment he’d decided what he had to say but was completely unsure if he really could say it.

“Crewman,” he managed, his tone monotonic and his words purposefully slow. “Beam me to Sickbay.”

Parrish didn’t even question the wisdom of this decision. Though Rada was practically a stranger, and he knew nothing about his relationship with Wren, Parrish could tell that Rada wasn’t going to sickbay for his own needs. Few people realised just what the transporter operator must see. All the happiness of families reunited and excited new officers on their first trip aboard, could never offset the fact that every time a crew member was injured on some godforsaken planet or learnt that someone they knew onboard was going to die; they came through here.

Just a look at his face and he knew which one Rada was. He knew he didn’t need to wait. With elegantly speed his hands moved around the controls and in a moment Rada was reformed at the entrance to Sickbay.

He couldn’t see Wren yet, but he was not alone here.

“Rada, I…” Zanh began, but he didn’t even register her existence.

He just kept walking on past in search of what he was here for. Lance Hartcort was already here and Rada didn’t need to even consciously acknowledge that to know that the expression on his face wasn’t a good one.

He walked until he’d turned a corner and she was there in the distance. It was like there was a discontinuity of his consciousness as without remembering the journey he was standing over her body.

She was lying flat in a bio-bed, trapped in a stasis field. She was pale. She was empty. Even without touching her he could tell she was cold.

She was surrounded by the gentle beeps of technology as if it was supposed to somehow hide the silence he found in her. Her face was expressionless, her normal vibrance absorbed by the darkness he felt. Her eyes were closed but he knew the shine he was used to just wasn’t there.

His hand began to rise up to touch her but he stopped it, knowing it would be without meaning. This wasn’t Wren. This was a woman suspended; unmoving and unfeeling. She had no force or energy to her. Though these machines may have said she was alive; deep down he couldn’t see it.

For a moment in which time seemed not to pass he just stared at her. Then something broke in him and he knew this could not stand. His eyes surged back from their lazy apathy to almost aflame. It was flame fuelled by anger, anger at himself, at his foe and at anyone who’d let this happen.

His senses awoke as his concentration shifted by necessity from the woman in the bed before him to every other point in the room. Whereas his perception had been of darkness as the world which didn’t feature her was irrelevant to his consideration, now he realised that this world was the only place he could find his redemption.

He turned around, turned his back, abandoning the beeps and the silence. His steps were quick and his actions deliberate as if he had more energy than he knew what to do with. He ignored the doctor, ignored what he represented and marched onwards towards his Captain.

Though she could see that on the inside he was breaking, had she not known him as long as she had then she could have sworn that he was just angry. There was a look in him from times that seemed so long ago now that she’d almost forgotten it had been there. It was fury barely absorbing the desperation. It was that undefinable thing she’d seen in him on that day when he’d attempted to kill her.

Though she knew him too well now to ever believe he’d let history repeat itself, her hand just as then had dropped down automatically to her phaser. It was different though this time, as he didn’t tremble and he appeared not to fear her. He was in control, or part of him was, and that part of him had decided upon exactly what it was doing.

His face was hard, much harder than she was used to, but there she almost saw a smile as he hurried towards her. His focused eyes never dropped, never blinked and never showed even for a second that he was thinking of what he’d just seen.

She wondered how she should respond. She knew there was nothing to say, for now she had to let him deal with this anyway he found to be possible. Though acknowledging her he looked like he may not notice that she wanted to speak with him, but then abruptly he stopped and stood forcefully before her.

Words looked set on his lips to form, but there were too many thoughts for him now to express any of them. He seemed to struggle with the concept before dismissing it out of hand, instead saying calmly as he left,“If you’ll excuse me, Captain, I believe I’m needed in Engineering.”

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