997: Ask Questions First, Shoot Later

by Mellice Cem and Zanh Liis
Following Thalia and Melpomene

-=A forest on Sibalt=-

*On to the big fish.* Mellice thought as he materialized in another section of the wooded playing field.

This mark he knew would be more challenging than Crewman Halliday, Doctor Hartcort & Paxton Briggs combined.

He'd seen Zanh Liis in action many times and like himself the woman was, for a lack of a better word, intense when being fired upon.

By now, talk had more than likely spread that there was a hidden sniper somewhere in the woods taking very accurate pot shots at everyone; those who had been shot were heard wondering aloud with frustration and at times intricate profanity just who was using the blue paint to mark his 'kills' with.

One of his 'dead', namely Pax, had gotten of glimpse of him as he transported to a hidden snipers nest right behind the Commander and nailed him in the very center of his back.

Right before Pax got hit Mellice had taken aim upon good doctor Hartcort; whom Mellice knew as the Rev's and now Sera's playboy CMO. Hartcort had taken a shot to the shoulder, just enough to take him out of the running for 'last man standing' status.

*This is almost too easy...*

A smug grin came over the lips of Lieutenant Mellice as now Captain Zanh Liis finally came into sight.

*Captain. Ha.* Mellice shook his head in amazement. Wonders truly never did cease.

She had masked herself well in the local foliage to make sure her steps were never heard, just the way they had been taught as children back on Bajor during the Occupation.

Some things just couldn't be let go of from those dark days, old habits, and in the case of those who'd been in the Resistance like Cem, tactics died hard. He had also taken the liberty of making himself a ghillie suit out of the local large plant leaves which made it even harder to spot him as he took very careful aim upon one of Starfleet's most controversial COs.

*We meet again, ZL. Time to see if you've learned any new tricks.*

His sights bore down upon the very familiar tall frame of the Bajoran woman; one with whom he had carried on a very heated rivalry with back aboard the Aries.

The mutual initial dislike of each other had taken strong root based upon a bad first impression. It grew like a strangling weed, nurtured by the fact that they both wanted the same job and felt the other was underqualified for it.

Their distrust built up to the point of almost challenging the other to a last person standing and very LIVE firing shootout to see who would walk away in one piece (and without a hole in their head, which he already claimed she had in multiple) but in the end? They both gave Command the finger and in just a few short weeks and a couple rather tough away missions later, had taken that hate/hate relationship and turned it into hard-won respect for each others skills.

After all, Liis had finally mused aloud to him one day, 'it was awfully hard to keep hating someone when they had continually worked so hard to save your ass on more than one occasion'.

That grin of his only grew wider as he took a few strafing pot shots off to her left to test her reflexes, and then, knowing she was left handed, he did the same on the right hand side of her.

"Son of a bitch!" She shouted, knowing her position was compromised and so allowing herself the luxury of the exclamation. She immediately took note of the color of the paint and knew the rumors were true. "That's it! You're goin' down!"

Mellice chuckled softly to himself as he changed position. *Now let's see how you deal with a very mobile target, ZL." This thought came to him as he touched his transporter armband controls and dematerialized from his original snipers nest only to rematerialize directly behind her. The game was afoot now.

He waited to see what she'd do while he checked to see if anyone else had come into range of his hidden nest so he could take them out before taking out the real challenge of these games: Zanh Liis.

Cem's eyes narrowed and then widened again; there was no one else here. It was just him, and his old comrade.

At the realization, he suddenly wished that there was someone else here...

She spun around to face him, rifle raised and a bright flash caught his eye.

Something near her left hand...it was bright. It was colorful. It was catching what little light was streaming through the cover overhead.

*Wait. It's on her hand, not near it...*

"By the Prophets you got married!" Cem exclaimed, as Liis took the single moment of his distraction and prepared to fire. She was about to pull the trigger when she caught sight of his eyes. She always remembered people by their eyes...


An equal instant of hesitation on her part evened the advantage she'd gained and now they stood facing each other with rifles raised and ready to go.

"Liis." He slowly nodded in greeting, a grin spreading across his face though he never took his eyes from her. "That rock on your hand almost blinded me. What did you do, raid the Vedek Assembly compound last time you were home?"

"Nope. I just married a romantic, what can I say." She laughed with great amusement. "Besides, you know Bajor has never really been home for me."

"Where would home be these days?"

"The rolling green hills of Cork." She answered. "And the USS Serendipity. But this isn't exactly time to catch up. Imagine meeting you here, and making things interesting for my people, too."

"I always did enjoy making things interesting for you, ZL."

"Yes. Yes you did." Liis shook her head. "I don't plan on 'pulling a Fender' though and making things easy for you. So answer me this, Mellice Cem." Now she grinned as well. "Who shoots first?"

His own grin grew more as they now got that chance to have the shootout they never did back then. "Look at you. Four shiny pips and wedding rings when here I thought by now the only jewelry you'd be wearing was a toe tag."

He couldn't believe how easy it was to pick up where they'd left off. Damn the banter and everything was back, but this time? It had more humor in it than back then because this time neither of them were vying for Security chief of a Starship; and while she might outrank him off planet in this moment, with his free reign to do what he would to make things more interesting for her and her crew, they stood once again on equal footing.

"I would've if I hadn't had a very determined Irish guardian angel looking out for me."

"I'd guess that he and the place in Cork accompany that hunk of ice."

"You'd be right." She thought maybe this was a chance to distract him again. "So how about you Cem? Still living the wild life or has some female finally managed to domesticate you?"

His eyes flashed, but the humor disappeared. Suddenly he wanted very much to take a shot at something... "Came close to getting married myself a number of years back, but that never happened." All he'd say on the one time he himself nearly took the plunge while taking very careful aim at her.

"Well, maybe you dodged a bullet that day." She inclined his head, the edge of her lip turning up as her finger curled around the trigger of her weapon. *But not today, she thought...*

As far as Cem was concerned though, the day was already won. The major question wasn't going to be who took the first shot here since, well, he'd been assigned to muck things up for both the Alchemy and Serendipity crews so he was going to take as many of them out of the running as he could regardless which side they played for.

He was enjoying this too much for it to end so quickly though. He wanted to toy with her a little more before taking his shot.

"I'm good at that. Think you can hit a moving target?" He laughed softly. His his right hand tapped the hidden controls on his armband transporter and he vanished right before her eyes.

"Son of a..." Zanh fumed. "Mellice, I'm going to make you pay for this. Come out of hiding, you sneaky little..."

"Oh this is going to be fun." He taunted, as his unmistakable voice rang in her ears from nowhere and yet, it came from everywhere. She spun in a circle but he was nowhere to be found. She looked up, around again and then she felt a tap on her shoulder.

"Behind you, ZL. Wow, command has really dulled your reflexes..."

"Stop cheating by going all Cheshire Cat like that! We'll see how you find my reflexes when I use this thing to knock yer block off!" Liis snarled in frustration. The heat was getting to her. She hated being hot and sweaty and in need of a good shower and she was all those things now. She was also tired, hungry, and angry because he was right, in a way command had made her soft and these 'games' had shown her those vulnerabilities very clearly.

She was going to have to work on it.

"Target practice with Thomas..." she murmured to herself as she continued searching for him and he continued to try to throw her off course. "Fencing with Keiran. Only problem with that is we...rarely...end up..." she pushed a tangle of low, heavy tree branches back, almost certain she'd find Mellice behind them. "...fencing!"

Mellice picked up on her remark immediately and again she heard a small laugh.

"There are other ways to stay in shape."

"Then I should be in much better shape than I am." Now Liis couldn't help but give a low, wicked laugh. Her frustration that he refused to hold still soon overtook her sense of humor again and she swore. "Damn it, Cem, where are you, you slimy bastard?" She spun to her right only to hear his continued heckling.

"No, I'm over here to your left. No, not that left your other left." He would have laughed again but now he kept quiet after saying that to really rattle her cage. As fun as this was, he'd have to end it soon. There were other targets to acquire and hit today.

Finally she turned to her left and that was when he pulled the trigger on his gun. As the puff of escaping carbon dioxide gave his position away she looked down to her right and off to the side.

The shot was intentionally off target and it just barely missed her. Paint went splattering against her right shoulder as the pellet hit the bough of the nearest tree instead.

By the time she raised her rifle and fired off her shot all the paintball got was air. Mellice had once more transported to another spot and by the time she realized he was gone again, it was too late.

His next shot didn't miss.

Another puff of CO2 gave him away as a resounding splat was heard and felt on her left shoulder from behind.

She used a particularly colorful Bajoran curse word now, and Mellice appeared before her once again. He lowered his head in an expression of thanks which only irritated her more.

"Same old Zanh Liis." He crowed. "I always told you, shoot first ask questions later."

Now she squeezed off a shot and let it fly right over his head, impacting on the tree behind him just because she felt like doing it. "Bite me."

Mellice roared with laughter as he shimmered out of sight. "I'll be seeing you, Captain." The next item on his 'to-do' list today was to see if he couldn't rattle the Vulcan's cage now.

"You bet you will." Zanh muttered, as she stumbled forward through the greenery, not looking forward at all to turning herself in.

Lieutenant (jg) Mellice Cem
Assistant Security/Tactical Chief
USS Revolution NCC-71605-A
Games Saboteur and Royal Pain In The Ass


-=/\=- Zanh Liis O'Sullivan
CO, USS Serendipity NCC-2012
(Waiting for the angry duck to say "It's Zanh Season!"
so she can reply "Mellice Season!")