1051: Lockdown: Two

By William Lindsay and Keiran O’Sullivan
Immediately after Part One

-=The Headquarters of Temporal Investigations: Earth=-

All across TI people were being transported away, but it was not by the Serendipity. William Lindsay only became aware of this phenomenon as Denise too shimmered and beamed out of reach.

He had no chance to contemplate it though as a high pitched screech, so painfully loud that it made his head feel like it would explode, rang throughout the halls of the Temporal Investigations and into the ears of everyone who remained there.

-=Bridge, USS Serendipity=-

The same screeching sound rang out across Serendipity through Liis’ active combadge; seeming to drill into the brains of everyone within earshot.

Groans of pain were heard from all around the bridge as different people reacted with different levels of severity depending on their personal resistance.

“Close the channel!” TC ordered from the command chair to Steele at communications.

She shut it off immediately and the bridge was rendered silent again, but TC was nowhere naive enough to believe that that was all they had to deal with.

“That was coming from TI and it was probably a hell of a lot worse on site,” he concluded, quickly deciding that with the effect it’d had up here they didn’t have time to waste on a full analysis. He activated his combadge. “Blane to Parrish! Get our people out of there now.”

[I can’t, sir.] Parrish answered grimly as he checked and rechecked his readings. [They’re not showing up on any of my scans.]

“Find them, Crewman,” Blane insisted sharply but before he could offer another word Cristiane cut in from tactical.

“We’ve got a vessel decloaking to port!” He warned, though it was only when he recognised this ship that he truly became alarmed. “It’s…”

Now Steele pointedly cut him off. “It’s an unknown configuration.”

TC didn’t miss that Dane hadn’t been allowed to finish and decided quickly that whoever these people were, he wasn’t going to take any chances.

“Shields up!” he ordered, as the ominous black vessel which was at least the size of the Serendipity herself suddenly started adjusting its position to face their direction.

-=Bridge of the opposing vessel=-

“Why have we decloaked?” Denise asked rapidly with confusion, fighting to conceal her fear. She had taken the command chair/operations console of this compact but well designed bridge where she, Brody and several other major players had been beamed immediately while others were simply transported onto random locations on this vessel.

“If we didn’t then someone on the Serendipity might have followed the transporter beam of their officers and found us with our shields down,” Brody snarled, as he ran back and forth the few steps between the tactical and navigation consoles, tapping in commands.

“No one on board could have the knowledge or the technology for that,” Mitchell protested shakily, not understanding why Brody would want to make this situation any more complicated than it already was.

“We don’t know that!” Brody snapped, wanting to strike the man who was supposed to be managing tactical but had quickly proven himself to be quite useless according to Brody’s perception of things.

“I still don’t see why we had to beam them up,” Mitchell added, just wishing again for this all to be over as he stood up against the back wall watching events playing out before him.

“Because we need bargaining chips!” Brody shouted, as if it should be obvious to anyone with half a brain. He muttered to himself as he began to activate a device that was not to be found on any other vessel.

It truth, revenge was much more on his mind than the need of hostages. “Anyway, the sonic pulse rendered them and everyone else at TI unconscious,” he then added without even looking up from what he was doing. “They pose no risk to us now.”

-=Bridge, USS Serendipity=-

“I think they’re charging weapons,” Cristiane warned from tactical, hating not have been able to be more certain about what he was seeing as an energy field began forming, focusing at the front of the enemy ship.

“You think?” TC asked, giving Cristiane an incredulous glance over his shoulder.

“I’ve never seen readings like these before,” Lara reported from Science. “But I’d bet a bottle of Romulan Ale they were hostile.”

“Agreed,” TC nodded, jumping up out of the command chair and rapidly issuing orders. “Red Alert. Shields to maximum. Move us away at maximum impulse!”

At navigation, Ensign Delia Swift quickly began inputting the commands to move them away, but before she’d even finished the energy field had focused down into a single point and seemed to leap rapidly towards the Serendipity.

“All hands brace for impact,” TC announced to the entire ship, as the energy point impacted upon them and shook it so violently that it almost threw him to the deck.

“Damage reports are coming in from all over,” Mellice Cem reported, using an unmanned station to help Dane sort through the myriad of sensor readings pouring in across the Security grid.

“Shields and phasers are down.” Dane added.

“So is navigation,” Swift concluded.

TC marched over to Dane’s station and grumbled as he reached over Cristiane’s shoulder and scrolled through the incoming data. “We’re getting reports of systems offline all over the ship!”

-=Bridge of the opposing vessel=-

“We’ve crippled them,” Brody announced with barely contained pride, finally settling down at the tactical station as an Ensign took over at navigation.

Denise however was not so proud of what they’d accomplished.

“Something’s wrong,” she observed with confusion as she studied the readings before her. “According to these reports only fifteen of our people are either here or on board the Serendipity.”

“The Serendipity couldn’t fit that many people in their brig. They must have beamed some of them back to Earth,” Brody realised, pausing only for a second before continuing. “Doesn’t matter. We’re leaving without them.”

“What? We can’t! Don’t you understand?” Denise snapped, in this moment quite aware Brody would gladly have abandoned any of them- herself included- given the chance. “We barely have enough people to run the ship. We certainly don’t have enough to get it operational for a jump before someone shows up!”

Brody’s face would have been unreadable if not for the rage that broke through his features, twisting them fiercely until finally a flash of inspiration struck him again.

“Yes, we do,” he murmured, with an entirely unsettling smile before turning to navigation. “Ensign, am I correct that this ship capable of transwarp travel by skimming the timeline?”

“Aye, sir.” The young man responded, thinking he saw where he was going, and indeed he just may have.

“It doesn’t matter how fast we go,” Mitchell loudly objected before he could anything more, having had enough and then far too much of all this. “TI will come after us and they’ll catch us.”

“They can’t.” Brody corrected harshly, disgusted by the man’s stupidity and what he now saw as his cowardice. “The Department’s in lockdown. We’ll be long gone by the time they even know what’s happened.”

Brody’s certainty did little to calm Mitchell’s nerves.

-=Bridge, USS Serendipity=-

With the ship in disarray around him as people rapidly tried to affect repairs and regain some sort of control, TC couldn’t help but wonder what sort of weapon had so easily cut straight through their shields. That raised another question and he didn’t doubt he knew the man who had the answer.

“Cristiane,” TC turned and demanded in a tone and with those icy blue eyes that told the Ensign this was not the time to lie to him. “You recognised that ship, didn’t you?”

Dane swallowed hard, as a look from Landry told him that he wasn’t the only one who knew and that she also knew that he really shouldn’t be sharing this information outside of very small circles; circles that did not currently or explicitly include TC Blane.

However, he had to ask himself what Keiran O’Sullivan would do in this situation and knowing the answer, he quickly reached a conclusion.

“It’s the USS Poseidon, Sir,” Dane said quietly, relieved as he felt these lessons he’d had about loyalty were really sinking in. “It’s an outdated prototype…from Temporal Investigations.”

-=Bridge, USS Poseidon=-

“You can not seriously be suggesting this,” Denise said, rising from her chair as Brody strolled arrogantly over to look her in the eye.

“It’s the only way,” he insisted, standing far too close to her for comfort, clearly challenging the woman more than only for her decision.

A moment passed as Denise considered this, but she then quickly made up her mind about it and tried her best to be firm.

“No, I’m…I’m in charge here and I insist that we do not involve them.” She spoke with confidence but without certainty.

With her remark the temperature in the room seemed to drop thirty degrees as all eyes began to flicker between Moreno and Brody as they stared each other down. Clearly Brody wasn’t happy to be spoken to like this, or to be refused anything he wanted or felt entitled to.

“Well, then, Captain,” he said sharply, making the respectful title sound through his intonation more like the most despicable insult he could imagine. “Congratulations, you’ve just prevented us from ever being able to make a jump back and to stop this from ever happening. We’ll just hang around here, at this point in history until the Department tracks us down and destroys us, shall we?”

Denise couldn’t answer; the last thing she needed was more innocent people being hurt because of her especially when she knew as well as anyone else and better than most that a jump couldn’t always fix it. However she also knew she had no other option.

“There is no other way,” Brody spat the words, and it was clear that Denise couldn’t argue.

“Fine,” she relented at last, quietly giving into Tucker this once but with a look in her eyes that said she wouldn’t always before turning to the Ensign at navigation and speaking much more boldly. “Bring us to within twenty metres of the Serendipity. Then activate the temporal drive components.”

Brody was clearly pleased with his victory, and it was enough for now to let him overlook the fact that Denise was still technically in charge here, so he moved back towards tactical as Denise took her command chair again.

“Heading, sir?” The Ensign as navigation asked shakily.

“It doesn’t matter,” Denise said softly. “Just get us out of here.”

With the tension still thick enough to choke all in this room, the Ensign didn’t wish to be the person it was unleashed upon and so quickly complied with the order. Soon the Poseidon was positioned directly beside the lifeless Serendipity.

A large sphere of energy slowly began to form, much thicker than a warp bubble, and began to expand outward from the Poseidon until it encapsulated both ships. Then the instant it was done and though it felt like they were still they were moving. It was not through normal space or even at warp, but with a remarkably beautiful effect visible outside the windows of both vessels that looked like a billion blinking lights swirling all around them.

Brody was less than amazed by this site personally and much more amused by what would happen now. In fact the only thing impressive he found about this mode of travel was that since it prevented transporters working, he and Peterson would be trapped on different ships for the immediate future.

“Someone’s going to need to tell them what their part is going to be in all of this,” Brody decided, without as much as looking to the viewscreen before sarcastically asking Denise a question. “So, Captain, do you want to do the honours or shall I?”

Denise simply gestured that he should go ahead and Brody opened a channel from his station, pumping the message over the Serendipity’s internal communications system to everyone rather than speaking directly to the current commanding officer.

“Attention crew of the USS Serendipity,” Brody said, deeply satisfied that he now had everyone’s rapt attention. “You are now defenseless. All weapons on board your vessel, including handheld, have been disabled using frequency jamming. We have your Captain, your Security Liaison, and the illustrious Director Lindsay.

For the first three attempts at resistance, or any refusal to offer assistance we may require, one of them will be killed. At the fourth your ship will be destroyed. Any attempt to repair your vessel beyond basic operations, or if any harm comes to our officers on board who are to be promptly released from your brig, and you will be destroyed. In short, you are now under our control.”

-=USS Serendipity=-

TC Blane’s eyes flashed fury. “Who the hell is that?”

Dane and Landry exchanged an expression that showed how sickened they felt at the sound of that voice, a voice they had both heard before. “That,” Landry replied not just nervously but truly fearfully, “is Tucker Brody.”

Captain William Lindsay
Interim Director
The Department of Temporal Investigations


-=/\=- Keiran O’Sullivan
Security Liaison
The Alchemy Project

1050: Lockdown: One

By William Lindsay and Keiran O’Sullivan
Following Projection

-=Headquarters of Temporal Investigations: Earth=-

Life at Temporal Investigations was just as it should be.

Tucker Brody sat in his office. He was smiling to himself, smugly regarding the power he now possessed but more importantly that he had truly earned.

A celebratory glass of scotch, syntheholic of course, had been poured and he nursed it as he allowed himself just a few moments to feel happy and revel in the realisation that Lindsay would never get time to finish his investigation now that he had to start from scratch.

He even went so far as to place a hand behind his head as he leaned back in his chair, and the hint of a smile he’d been wearing spread into a full fledged grin.

More than hard work and most definitely more than honesty, he knew he owed all his success to being calm and in control and that made him think of how far from either he’d once been. He’d been so emotional and so young when he’d first started out in his studies of psychiatry and psychology, just wanting to help those unable to help themselves.

Of course a lot of things had changed since then- about the world and so about him as well. His voice was no longer as gentle as that young man’s had been and was now rarely perceived as being quiet. The distinctive twang he’d always spoken with, a remnant of his Texas upbringing, had remained and if anything was now stronger. Once, when it spoke of his innocence, the accent could be recognised as endearing but that quality too had gone the way of young Tucker’s sandy blond bangs; trimmed away for the sake of practicality to a more sensible appearance.

He did still help people though, and he saw nothing wrong with the choices he’d made. It was just now he chose to be most helpful to those who were in a position to help him back. It was true that other kind of help had given something this didn’t, but for the life of him he could no longer remember what it was.

In any case, he was sure he was more content now by far that he’d been then.

Many hours had passed since he’d gotten rid of Jamieson and it seemed he’d also done so with Lindsay, O’Sullivan, and even more joyfully Zanh Liis.

None of them had returned to the Earth in that time; he supposed they had no reason. Of course to know their energy had been dispersed in the empty vacuum of space like Jamieson would have been comforting but then again Brody wasn’t greedy. He was already quite comfortable now.

Comfort was in fact a common state amongst the staff of Temporal Investigations. Some of the most comfortable people in the galaxy were in this very building right now. Peterson was drinking a coffee brought to him by a senior officer who was smart enough to know not to stand up to him, just as many similar young men too enjoyed the taste of power that the efforts of Brody and many like him had reaped.

There were always outliers of course; people who just didn’t quite seem to belong. Lindsay obviously was one of them and so were Mitchell and Denise, both of whom right now were very worried indeed. Brody wasn’t worried though; he could deal with them all when Vox came back and returned things to normal.

It seemed like nothing could go wrong.

Only then something did.

Unbeknownst to Brody, William Lindsay was on the Serendipity and had been making plans and arrangements that were almost all in place.

He was to the point where with a single word he could plunge Brody’s world into chaos.

Now finally he uttered it.

In an instant the master clock Polaris; the very heart of Temporal Investigations, went dark and the lockdown washed outward from it like a wave.

Had it truly been a heart then the events that followed its seizure would have been no less devastating on the body as a whole.

Like row after row of dominoes, one room after the next was tipped off balance; knocked down and plunged into darkness as all but the minimum of emergency lighting was lost.

Computer interfaces cut out before their users’ eyes.

Communications collapsed, and transporters went offline.

The smugness rapidly dropped from Brody’s face as he heard the frantic warning call screamed throughout the building that there was danger here.

His eyes went wide.

Something was very wrong.

In the distance he heard sickening sequences of clicks and clunks; the locking of doors permeated by the whirr of computers and other machines forced to cut out not by choice but because there was no power left to sustain them. It was growing louder, getting nearer and there was only one reason this could possibly be happening.

Temporal Investigations was being shut down; they were being trapped here, and the sudden rapid clamor of hurried footfalls outside his walls told him he was not the only one who knew it.

Regulations stated they should stay where they were, but like rats in a burning building men like Brody knew that by the time it all was over they could be dead unless they were to start their running now.

Only one man had the authority to do this, and every psychological instinct told Brody he there was only one reason he would have done it.

That man was coming for him.

He was coming for all of them and the cloak of darkness that was being lowered over the building wouldn’t be raised until he got them.

“Lindsay!” Brody swore the man’s name in panic as he stood and slammed his glass down on the table, not caring that it shattered on impact as he felt his whole world shattering around him.

In Brody’s eyes Lindsay may have been a fool, but Brody still knew Will was smart enough to know that not just Brody but he as well would never come back from this.

There were systems in this building that were never meant to be deactivated and the very second Lindsay turned them back on a full inquiry would be launched; meaning he would be pulled from is duties as the Interim Director.

He would never have done it unless he had to, or unless he had enough on them that running was all they had left to do to survive.

The control over time and space granted by this place had meant they were as untouchable as gods; but as all their technology and the freedom died around them they were becoming mere mortals again.

For the first time in a long time Brody was truly frightened and the quickening of his breath displayed that fear mercilessly for the whole world to see.

His needed to call for transport, but attempting to do so, he quickly found the signal of his communicator was being blocked just as his computer terminal had been secured: entirely severing his connection with the outside world. Violently he threw the badge away because all it could do now was give them an easy way to find him.

He took two steps from his desk before he thought better, turned around and ran back. Rapidly he yanked so hard on the top drawer that he almost pulled it out entirely. He scooped up the phaser he’d kept there but it was no use; it’d been deactivated already.

Forgetting the weapon and swearing again, with a viciously pounding heart Brody began running towards the door. Before he could reach it though the rolling blackout reached him; all the lights around him went blank reducing the world to a dull grey.

The door hadn’t even fully opened before it was locking and he was still trapped on what was clearly the wrong side of it. Without a further thought for the upcoming pain he plunged his arm through the opening, the door cutting into it enough to make him scream in agony before the movement stopped as it though it must be closed already.

Fuelled by fear and pure determination he was able to squeeze one arm through the gap. In spite of his pain and summoning all his strength, he was able to force it open again.

On the outside of the room the screech of the alarm just seemed to get louder, and it was barely even light enough to see.

He looked side to side in each direction, making out only the faintest outlines of people, many his allies running but they clearly had no idea to where.

“Everyone has’ta remain calm,” Brody heard a sickeningly familiar voice rumbling nearby. It was the freshly materialised Keiran O’Sullivan, and he was undoubtedly armed to the teeth and just around the corner. “If we all just…”

Brody didn’t listen or wait for O’Sullivan to finish. He just kept moving as fast as his legs would take him, and so was soon too far away to make out the words.

They were coming for him, Brody could feel it, and he refused to allow himself be captured- ever- but especially not here and not now.

If he could just get to a jump ship then he could go back. He and his kind would simply have to make sure this didn’t happen. They could kill Lindsay before he even had a chance to find them out. However, there was no way Brody could risk leaving that task to someone else. He’d learned long ago that in the end, you could never count on anyone else.

There was panic in the nearby voices of people making them potential allies but with this place erupting into turmoil they could be enemies just as well. Brody knew he couldn’t trust anyone now and so he just kept running faster, almost tripping over an abandoned chair on this floor too dark to make out.

Finally he reached a turbolift, but as he pressed the call button it was abundantly clear it was dead just like everything else here.

So instead he chose to try for the stairs but the door was already locked and at this rate the jump ships would definitely all be locked down before he got there.
In desperation Brody slammed his fist upon it in a futile attempt to force it to open, jarring his already injured arm, before he turned a rapid about face in search of any sort of a new plan.

There was only one thing he could do; and that was to try to run, and to hope contingencies they’d made would kick in.


Though no one was more motivated, Brody was far from the only one now in a panic to be free. Mitchell sat terrified with his head in his hands just waiting for himself to be taken too as he wished for this all to be over.

Peterson on the other hand was running and had just become visible to Brody in the distance. However before Brody even had a chance to speak the man began to dematerialise. Soon Peterson’s eyes flashed disbelievingly back and forth as he found himself suddenly beamed into the Serendipity’s brig surrounded by several of his former allies.

Now Brody knew that he’d made the right decision in getting rid of his communicator. With so many lifesigns to scan if Lindsay was coming for him as he undoubtedly would then he’d have to do it in person. However suddenly Brody remembered that Lindsay may not have been all he had to worry about as the undeniable outline of Keiran O’Sullivan was rapidly moving in his direction, with Zanh Liis just a step behind.

In the midst of all this chaos, not everyone was trying to escape.

A frightened Denise Moreno, trapped in Lindsay’s office, hurriedly gathered deactivated PADDs in her arms as if collecting a few precious assets before she began to run from the fire that was consuming her home.

It could have felt no less like her home was burning now.

Voices were barking orders in nearby corridors, and the still screeching alarm was almost deafeningly constant in its repetition of the same angry warning sounds. She just kept repeating to herself that this was supposed to be happening and that everything would be okay; that she’d make it out alright.

Yet the way she jumped with the sound of a transporter beam appearing behind her showed she hadn’t believed her own assurances.

She spun around to see who it was, her heart only returning to something closer to its previous beat as she saw it was just William Lindsay. It only took an instant to realise there was something very wrong with him though; a look in his eyes he’d never given her before and seeing it now she wasn’t so certain.

“Hello, Denise,” he greeted her flatly with controlled but evident anger in his voice. Denise’s heart sped up again.

“Director Lindsay,” she began, her tone clearly flustered as may once have seemed to him perfectly understandable given the situation, Lindsay could now read the truth behind it. “What is all this? What’s happening?”

“We’re lockin’ down TI ‘til we catch the head of the corruption that’s been goin’ on fer far too long.” Will answered simply and honestly. The words themselves weren’t frightening, but Denise didn’t like the way he was looking at her one bit because she could read there was something new and dangerous behind it.

“So you know who he is?” she asked, with forced curiosity barely able to be heard over the underlying fear in her tone. Her eyes flicked towards the nearest locked door, still visible in spite of the low lighting as if contemplating whether it was time to run.

“Come on,” Will replied quietly, slowly raising his phaser up towards her. “This is no time fer games.”

Suddenly Denise’s face was transformed by panic and confusion. There was no way he could know.

“What, you…” she stammered, “You can’t possible think I’m involved with this.”

Will glared at her in silence, unmoving from where he stood, as Denise added what was less a statement than a plea. “I know you trust me.”

“No,” Will said firmly, shaking his head with a look of disgust at Denise’s display of false innocence. “I finally learned there’s only one person here I can trust and that’s mehself.”

Denise’s eyes began flash with something almost akin to the precursor of tears as she attempted quickly to protest, reconsidering her desire to run. Seeing the coldness in Will’s eyes and that there was really no point in doing, she instead shamefully hung her head.

“How long have you suspected me?” she asked, barely loud enough to be heard over the alarm and almost hoping that it wouldn’t be.

“I’ve always suspected you,” Will answered with a fresh rage that said for whatever he may have suspected, the truth still had hurt him. “Since the first day I saw yer application ta assist me I knew there was somethin’ wrong. You said you’d never work fer Jonas but I was only in the job fer six months and it can take years ta get out. So ya had to have a damn good reason for going back on that. Fer wantin’ ta be close to me durin’ the investigation.”

Denise slowly shook her head and gave a sad half smile at her mistake; she’d only asked for the job thinking that it would let her guide the famously distractible Lindsay away from suspecting her. But then, she knew it certainly wasn’t the first bad decision she’d made in her life.

“In spite of it all I actually liked you,” Will added, scoffing bitterly at the thought now. “That’s why I tried ta get you ta leave before yer name had come up. Still I’d hoped I was wrong. I’d hoped that maybe ya just wanted to help with me investigations. That’s why I had ta test ya.”

As moot a point as it was, Denise’s mind began searching for whatever mistake she had made. Will however explained it for her, irritation in his tone mixed with something only describable as the pain of a man who didn’t want to know the answer to his own question.

“That account I gave you to use to file my plans with Security was a fake. That data didn’t ever leave this office. Only you could have known about it. Only you could have let those men know where ta come ta try ta kill us.”

Something in the hate and anger in Will’s demeanor seemed to cut straight through Denise. She’d honestly never meant to hurt him. She’d never meant for any of this to happen, least of all to tear the Department apart as was happening now.

“I didn’t give the order, you know,” Denise said softly, almost pleading to be believed but it was clear Will had no patience for her excuses or explanations. “I just asked them to monitor you. I wasn’t the one who…I mean…”

Will cut her off, furious that she’d even try to defend what she’d done.

“No, you just sent them there knowing full well might happen! Yer just the one who coordinates their efforts. The one who tells them what to do when they’re stuck. See, I’d been thinkin’ it would be someone else high in power takin’ over when Vox was taken away. Only thing is that none of them had the brains or the know-how about how the agency worked. Oh, they’d have resisted at first but they’d eventually have buckled when it became clear you were the only one who could help them cover their tracks.” Will shook his head in disgust. “The only thing I don’t understand, the only reason I’m here talkin’ to you before this all becomes a matter for official bloody inquiries and sealed records, is why.”

His voice dropped, and the pain she heard in it was more devastating than his anger had been. “Why did you betray everything TI and Starfleet stand for?”

“I have my reasons,” Denise answered, knowing someone with so much couldn’t understand and looking down to the ground because she couldn’t bear to look into Will’s chillingly cold eyes any more. “I’m so sorry, William.”

“This isn’t the type of thing ya can apologise for,” Will retorted as his anger strengthened and returned, and Denise didn’t argue. She hated what she’d done as much as anyone else ever could.

She was actually apologising to him, not for what she’d already done, but for something other than he could have ever imagined. She was apologising for what was going to happen next.

At that very moment, far up above in orbit of the Earth an automated system on an old but powerful ship whirred to life; keyed to transmissions it detected from TI that had been off for far too long.

It had been designed as an emergency security measure only to be taken in case of irreversible disaster; disaster that it now knew had finally happened.

Immediately the cloaked vessel turned to scan the TI building searching for identifying micro transmitters that had been implanted into select personnel.

Of anyone in the galaxy, Tucker Brody couldn’t have imagined anyone he’d have hated more to have him forced up against the wall with his arm behind his back than the person doing it now.

The way that Liis so painfully twisted his already aching limb said she was fully aware of and enjoying the effect it produced. O’Sullivan had evidently decided there was no reason to interfere.

“You don’t have to do this,” Brody insisted, forcing as much composure as he could in spite of his pain.

“Shut up.” Liis scoffed that he would dare try to get out of this now. “It’s over, Brody. No matter what happens now you are going to pay for what you’ve done.”

“No, I’m no...” Brody smirked, as before he could even finish his words he dematerialised before their eyes.

“NO!” Liis screamed, slamming her fist into the wall where Brody had stood an instant before. She cursed loudly in outrage over this sudden development and smacked her combadge. “Zanh to Serendipity. I take it you just got Brody?”

Unfortunately TC Blane had to tell her otherwise.

[No, Captain. We didn’t.]

Captain William Lindsay
Interim Director
The Department of Temporal Investigations


-=/\=- Keiran O’Sullivan
Security Liaison
The Alchemy Project

1049: Pirates of the Alchemy

By Paxton Briggs
Following with Plan of Attack

-=Bridge, USS Alchemy=-

Paxton sat in the center chair of the USS Alchemy as the stars slipped by the viewscreen in front him in long, bright streaks. In his hand he held a PADD that contained the technical specs for the very ship he was currently entrusted to command as the ships CO was currently off the bridge.

The Alchemy was a relatively small vessel and therefore required a relatively small crew to operate. On this trip however the crew was even smaller then normal. The majority of the crew went with the Alchemy’s mother ship to Earth for some well deserved R&R.

The crew that currently manned the Alchemy were those who either had no time for shore leave, had no desire for shore leave, or had no choice but to be onboard. There was no concern about working with a small staff as they were only headed to Vulcan which sat in Federation space and was basically in the backyard.

Paxton fell into the second choice of those three. Having no family on Earth and no reason in particular to take time off there he opted to go on the trip to Vulcan. If for no other reason than to offer any support and assistance to Commander Salvek and Commander Blakeslee that they might need.

“Commander, we are approaching Vulcan.” Ensign Lassiter announced from the flight control station. Because of the reduced staff she was also pulling duty as the tactical officer.

Pax put down the PADD and nodded. “Excellent, slow to one quarter impulse.”

He reached down and opened a comm. link. “Briggs to Salvek. We are approaching orbit.”

[Acknowledged. Assume standard orbit, and signal the Vulcans that we will be transporting down shortly.]

The channel closed and Pax glanced down at Gira. “You heard the man. Plot us an orbit.”

Gira nodded and started to punch in the coordinates for orbit and Paxton opened a channel.

USS Alchemy to Vulcan Orbital Control. Requesting permission to assume standard orbit.”

There was a slight pause before a response came. [Permission granted for orbit, Alchemy. Welcome to Vulcan.]

“Thank you, Control. Commander Salvek and Commander Blakeslee are preparing to beam down to whatever location you require.”

[Please inform the Commanders that they are to beam directly to the Ministry of Law at their earliest convenience. Orbital Control out.]

Paxton stood up from his chair and stretched. “I’m going to the transporter room. Inform me when we have entered orbit. You have the bridge.”

=Transporter Room=

When Zander and Salvek entered the small transporter room they found Paxton waiting for them behind the control console.

Zander frowned. “Aren’t you supposed to be driving the boat?”

Pax smiled. “I left the rudder in good hands, besides we are so understaffed you need someone to work this crazy contraption to send you guys downtown.”

“It is unfortunate that we were unable to proceed with more staff.” Salvek admitted, as he and Zander stepped up onto the pads. “Are you confident that you will be capable of commanding the Alchemy in my absence?”

Paxton raised his eyebrows. “Why? Don’t you think I can?”

“My question was not meant to disparage you abilities. I was only implying that with the lack of personnel…”

Paxton laughed. “It is OK, Commander. I knew what you meant. I was just teasing.” He entered in the information for the transport, “and don’t worry, I’ll keep your baby safe and sound. After all we are in orbit above Vulcan. What could go wrong?”

He waved as he hit the transport button and both men faded away into the bright light.

Paxton Briggs smiled as he confirmed that both men had safely arrived at their destination. “That should give them something to laugh about.” He then shrugged. “Well at least Zander anyway.”

=Back on the Bridge=

Paxton sat back down into the Captain’s chair and looked out at the image of Vulcan. He hoped that both men were able to get back to duty with as little damage to Salvek’s reputation and career as possible.

“Now what?” Gira asked as she spun away from the console.

“Now what, what?” Paxton asked.

Gira folded her arms across her chest. “What are we going to do while we're here?”

“Oh, well I was thinking…” he picked up the PADD that he was looking at earlier and tossed it to her. “…that it would be a perfect time for us to study up on the ship that we have just taken command of.”

Gira looked at the PADD and then back to Paxton. “Really?”

Paxton smiled. “Yup and don’t be giving me any lip ya squab because for the time being I am captain of this here little ship. So don’t make me make you walk the plank.”

Gira smiled slightly. “Aye aye sir.”

Paxton closed one eye and let out his best pirate, “Arrgghh!”

Commander Paxton Briggs
Second Officer
USS Alchemy NX 53099

1048: Plan of Attack

By Zander Blakeslee and Salvek
Concurrent with Projection

-=Galley, USS Alchemy=-

Salvek sat alone at a small table in the galley.

The Alchemy was currently being piloted by a skeleton crew, only a few junior officers standing watch on the bridge for the short trip to Vulcan. The doors slid open and Zander Blakeslee entered, looking for his client and a cup of coffee.

“What’s that?”

Salvek looked up from the holoimage of Kellyn and Arie to Blakeslee. He allowed the Security Chief to get close enough to see who it was and then flipped it off. They had arranged to have this particular image captured as a surprise for him, two years ago.

Other than changes of clothes, it was the only thing he had brought on the trip with him.

“I’ve been considering, Mister Blakeslee, the possibility that the next time I see my family, it may be through a force field.”

Zander just shook his head. “That’s not going to happen.”

“Unless this entire process has been set up to make sure I will be found guilty.”

“That’s not very Vulcan.”

“I’m not very Vulcan.” Salvek responded. It was an acknowledgement that treachery and deceit can exist anywhere. A good man’s only hope was to expose it, before the shadows engulfed him. “We will be coming up on Vulcan shortly. Have you ever been?

Zander pulled up a chair and sat down. “No. Always wanted to. Just…not like this. My father had been on several occasions and always spoke very highly of it.” He put the PADD that he had been carrying onto the table in front of him. “He said that it had its own beauty. Sparse and open with valleys and canyons so wide and deep that he could understand how Vulcans were able to lose there emotions.”

Zander looked at Salvek. “He always said that there was a certain peace to the landscape that many humans did not comprehend and many Vulcans did not appreciate.”

“We Vulcans find the landscape attractive for the knowledge we can gain from it. Canyons tell the tales of millions of years of geological history, for example. We are just as attracted to the extremes of nature as Humans, simply for different reasons.”

Zander nodded. “I have some possibly good news.”

He picked up the PADD and handed it to Salvek. “Under the Federation Uniform Code of Justice. Section 804 Article 3 says that since you are an officer, active duty, that the Federation has first dibs at charging and court marshalling you.”

He gave Salvek a moment to consider this new information before going on.

“So, first things first, we have to get through the investigation. Thinking positively, no charges may be filed at all. There will have to be grounds. Now, thinking on the less then good side of things, even if grounds are found to charge you, it would still be under Federation law. T’Dara was an active duty Starfleet officer as are you.” Zander tapped the tabletop. “The Vulcan government has no claim to enforce any of their laws on you or to charge you with a crime, as long as you are a Starfleet officer. However…”

Zander held up a finger.

“As a charter member of the Federation they can, and most likely will, host any court marshal proceedings. Once they assemble the required judge and jury.”

He leaned forward. “So in my humble opinion, we need to concentrate on making sure you did not in fact do anything wrong under Federation law.”

Salvek nodded in understanding but his mind was clearly preoccupied, lost in the previous conversation. “My father died when I was very young. I would have learned much were I able to discuss his life’s experiences with him. You mentioned your father speaking of Vulcan, is your relationship with him still strong?”

Zander paused for a moment before answering. He could tell that the Commander was thinking of something other then the case at hand and needed to talk.

“My father passed away about two years ago.” After a moment, he smiled weakly. “But I like to think that we are still close. Many of the little life lessons and teachings are still with me, especially now that I am a parent myself.” He looked at Salvek. “So, were you raised by your mother?”

Salvek took a deep breath before answering Zander’s question. “No. My mother was killed in the same attack that claimed my father’s life.” He looked up and into Blakeslee’s eyes. “Romulans.”

“I see. I’m so sorry.”

“It was a long time ago.”

“What does that matter?” Zander answered immediately. As soon as he spoke he realized he sounded rather offended, when he meant to sound sympathetic. “It’s not right what they took from you, no matter how long ago it was.”

“You are correct of course. I merely meant that I dealt with my sorrow long ago in my youth.” Salvek paused for a moment, and decided that as long as they were discussing family history, he may as well tell Zander all of it. “My brother survived the attack as did I.”

“Your brother…” Zander searched his memory for the name, which he thought he may have heard in passing at one point.

“Captain Sacul. He was in command of the station where Kellyn and I performed a great amount of our research. Research that led to this.” Salvek gestured to the ship around him.

“And you met Captain Zanh there?”

“No. I knew Captain Zanh before that. And she has known me for longer than my memories are even aware.”

“Do you still speak with your brother?”

“No. There is no animosity between us. I simply have not made the time. I do not even know where he is stationed anymore.” Salvek said, with regret in his voice.

Zander glanced up towards the ceiling, and then pointed. “I’m sure the computer can tell you.”

“You are correct.” Zander was silent, expecting Salvek’s next request to be regarding his brother, but the Vulcan simply said nothing.

“Aren’t you going to ask?”

“Not at this time.” Salvek answered.

*Okay,* Zander thought to himself. *Let’s change the subject. *

“Like I was saying, we need to show you did not do anything wrong under Federation law, to shield you from prosecution by the Vulcans.”

Salvek cleared his mind of thoughts of the past, and returned his full attention to Zander. He could not help but trust the Security Chief, perhaps because from a family standpoint, Blakeslee reminded him so much of himself.

“I responded to an impaired officer by deceiving her and forcing her into unconsciousness. I would believe that any argument that that is within the grounds of Federation law and Starfleet code is dubious at best, but I would be curious to know how you would justify it.”

Zander answered without hesitation. He obviously had been already thinking about the same thing. “You made a command decision in a difficult situation. As you mentioned Starfleet laws and regs are…lacking…in direction on how to handle this particular type of problem.” He scratched his chin. “I don’t mean to turn this into a numbers game, but you had to make a choice to either let one crewmember slow you down and risk losing the two you were searching for, or subdue her and continue the search. It could have been the basic choice of losing one or losing two.”

Zander sat back. “The problem that we are going to have is with the timing of events. They are going to hammer the fact that you did not subdue her before the cat fight and the fact that you did not attempt to inform the CMO of T’Dara’s situation.” Zander tapped the table in front of him. “You will have to have a reason for making those choices sound reasonable. It does not have to be right, just reasonable. With any luck we can get this simply chalked up to a bad decision that ultimately saved two lives while unfortunately costing one.”

Zander sighed. “I know that sounds cold and uncaring but it is the nuts and bolts of the story.” He waited silently now to see what Salvek thought.

“The needs of the many…” Salvek droned the mantra of the Vulcan logic. “It will be little consolation to her family, no matter what it does for me.”

Zander studied his client for several moments. If he was going to represent this man before the Vulcans, he was going to need to understand Salvek as much as any evidence in the case. If anything, the First Officer seemed to believe he deserved whatever was coming to him, and that was only going to make Zander’s job more difficult.

[Briggs to Salvek. We are approaching orbit.]

“Acknowledged. Assume standard orbit, and signal the Vulcans that we will be transporting down shortly.” Salvek closed the channel and rose from his seat. Blakeslee opened his palm and extended it towards the door, indicating that Salvek should lead the way.


Lt. Commander Zander Blakeslee
Chief of Security
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Commander Salvek
First Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

1047: Skin Deep

By Vol Tryst, Fleur Le Marc and Dabin Reece
Concurrent with Projection

-=Mandara Spa; Disney’s Grand Californian Resort=-

"Ahhhh. Just like the symbiont caves back home." Dabin Reece sighed contentedly as he sank down lower into the iron bathtub filled with what the spa called 'medicinal mud'.

"How do people do zis? I don't understand how anyone does zis." Fleur plucked the slices of cucumber that had been placed upon her weary, drooping eyelids and frowned. "How do you just lie here and let people fuss over you? I should be looking after the children."

"Don't frown, your face will crack." February nodded toward the bright green clay masque that had been applied to Fleur's face, as she tapped Fleur on the arm and pointed to the chair she was supposed to be reclining in. "Let Camen look after the kids for awhile. You've been pulling round the clock Mommy shifts for days. Time to recharge you."

"Sleep is better." Fleur scoffed.

"There is therapeutic value in spa treatments like these. The endorphin release alone is good for you." Vol mumbled, as he lay draped in a sheet and face down on the massage table. A masseur was working loose the knots in the counselor's previously tense shoulders. "Relax, Fleur. That's an order from the Ship's Counselor."

"I am civilian, I don't take orders from you, Betazoid." Fleur was only teasing and Vol knew it and so he lifted his head a moment, looking up at her, winked while sticking out his tongue simultaneously in a pure rascal-like manner.

"Listen, Frenchie, you've been workin much too hard and we all know it. How will the crew weather the sugar cookie shortage if you overdo it so much you have to go on medical? So shush and put your cucumbers back on." Reece instructed. "You're killing my mud buzz here."

“I vould not dream of killing ze buzz of the great Dabin Reece.” Fleur said sarcastically, before lifting the cucumber slices back her face. She did her best to steel her resolve against the impending cold slimy feeling that was going to come when she laid the slices back on her face.

For Reece, this was a guilty pleasure beyond imagine. Doctor Hartcort, or “the task master” as Reece had come to call him, had finally paroled him from round the clock medical supervision and deemed him fit for a day out on the town. Though he had privately instructed Vol Tryst to call him if Reece showed any signs that he might be overdoing it.

So, as Reece sank further into the mud, letting out a contended sigh Vol relaxed as well, seeing that, if anything, Dabin Reece was only growing more healthy as a result of time spent being pampered with his friends, then he would have been being locked up in a medical bay somewhere with Lance Hartcort.

Fleur tried not to think about that fact that Reece was wearing nothing more than a Speedo - or at least she hoped he was wearing a Speedo- inside the mud pit. In fact, she knew exactly what to discuss to keep her mind clear of such unsettling thoughts.

“I was hoping to ask you all, as long as you are here…” Fleur began.

“Does this have anything to do with Starfleet?” Reece asked, hoping to head off discussions or work at the pass.

“No, zis is about my child, Tress.”

“Oh, how is the little aviator in training?” Bru asked. She knew Sophie and Tress had a bright and long friendship ahead, and could not help but love the little Bajoran girl. “She’s obsessed with flight. A girl after my own heart.”

“She iz fine, and zat iz why I am worried. Doctor Hartcort offered to give her an implant, that will possibly make her hear again. Camen and I are to meet with a colleague of his, an officer called Alison Schneider here on Earth. I cannot help but feel that she is perfect az she iz, but is it wrong of me to deny her the chance to hear again if they can do it? And should I risk her good health for this, no matter how small the chance of complication iz?”

Reece was suddenly wishing she had asked a question abut work, since this was about ten times as deep. There was silence for a few moments, broken by Dabin. “Vol?”

“Sorry, Vol is unavailable to answer your transmission. Please leave a message after the... aaahh…” The Betazoid replied, his voice muffled by the table he was laying on, as well as the stubborn knot, which finally released.

"Vol." Dabin said with more urgency.

"What?" Vol lifted his head out of the table, staring at the Trill all dazed.

“Aren’t you going to answer her?” Vol felt Dabin snickering in his mind. The Trill had lobbed the ball into his court and he knew it.

Vol sighed, laying his head back down on the massage table so that he was looking to his side, directing his next statement to Fleur explicitly.

"I know that you are aware that you are asking this question to an off-duty officer... however I feel I should warn you that, were you to hear my answer, it would not be of the off-duty variety. I have a series of opinions regarding… this, and would not want to catch you off guard if you aren't prepared." Vol cautiously explained, he didn't want to scare the concerned mother, but he didn't want her thinking this was a casual chat either.

“Please, Vol.” Fleur avoided use of his professional title only because of their current surroundings in which she felt it’d sound pretty ridiculous. Counsel is what she was seeking, though, and so this was the man whose opinion would hold the greatest amount of weight with her. “All I ask is for your honesty.” Vol sensed she was not finished and so waited for her to conclude her thoughts. “It seems like she has only just adjusted to her new life aboard the ship, to this new family, as much as she loves us it has still been an adjustment for both her and her brother. I am afraid that if we upset that applecart now, that she may never be again as happy as she is today.”

Vol laid his head back down within the hole of the massage table.

"I believe that children will take any stimuli they experience and turn it into a lesson, sometimes incorrectly. For example; an untied shoe that doesn't lead to falling means that one can get away with it. A high-pitched voice that causes laughter in others has the effect of becoming admired. I believe, that in this case, if the surgery takes place Tress will believe there is something wrong with her, and the surgery is fixing that. I believe that the lesson that she, or any other child, would remember post-surgery is that there is something wrong with being Deaf, that 'disabilities' are unacceptable... and promptly dealt with." Vol had been calm through his explanation, and now he just let the words hang in the air.

Fleur couldn’t hide the concern in her features despite their current appearance as she tossed aside the cucumber slices from her hands and grabbed the nearest towel. Quickly she began to wipe the eerily Orion looking masque from her face. “That is exactly what I have been afraid of,” she whispered softly. “Thank you, Counselor.”

“Now hold on, I thought you were opening this up for round table discussion.” Reece sat up in his bath and wagged a muddy finger at her. “So allow me to introduce myself, my name is…”

“Mudd.” Bru chimed in aloud, only meaning to think it to him but having spoken the word instead. With it came a mild warning that it was not wise to get too far in between a mother and what she thought was best for her child. Then again she reminded herself, Reece had been a mother and a father long before she and Dabin had Sophie, and so she shrugged her shoulders apologetically as she looked down at the bubblegum pink polish drying on her toes following her just-finished pedicure. “Sorry, Dabin. You were saying?”

“I was sayin’ you can call me Galahad cause I’ve got a couple of things to say.”

Vol now looked at Fleur again and she at him and the Betazoid finally just let his head fall back down onto the table face first and gestured toward the masseur to continue. He felt that spot in his shoulders tightening back up by the second.

“I’ve been through some stuff Frenchie. And I’m going to go through some stuff again. Vol is just as smart as he looks.”

“I’m not sure how to take that.” Vol mumbled. Reece ignored him.

“If I had to give you any advice, it'd be to talk to Tress. Kids are really incredibly more intelligent than adults. When was the last time a kid started a war? Never. They learned everything from their role models, good and bad. If you think it is best for her to know she is perfect the way she is, then tell her, but if she resists, and misses the sound of your voice, which children often do, then tell her you can help if she wants to try. But she will let you know. Vol is definitely right though. There is nothing wrong with the precious little girl. In fact you better watch out or I’m just going to keep her to raise with Sophie. Am I right Vol, or am I right?”

"You may indeed be smarter than you look Dabin." Vol joked.

“You should’ve seen me when I was a chick.” Dabin shook his head. “I was ho-ot.”

“Right you were, love,” Bru’s voice took on just the slightest indication of a roguish accent, and she growled softly as her upper lip curled into a sneer that was so uncharacteristic for her that the thoughts which accompanied it actually made Vol’s head snap upward so fast he thought he’d given himself whiplash.

“February Grace! Get your mind out of the…”

“Sorry, sorry.” Bru blushed deeply. “Deveral lives on.”

Fleur came to Bru’s rescue by redirecting the conversation. “February, what is your opinion of all of zis?”

“My opinion, darlin’, is,” Bru began, then she stopped and snorted in frustration, shaking her head to try to physically rattle the rest of Deveral out of it and take control of her thoughts once again. “Sorry. I agree that you should ask Tress. 'Cause two year olds just tend to know what they want in a way that the rest of us can only marvel at.”

“And they tend to be pretty blunt about it too.” Dabin added.

There was a moment of silence before Vol spoke again. "Is the surgery reversible?"

Fleur was taken aback by the question.

"I... I do not know. I can't imagine it iz." Fleur’s voice trailed off, what did that mean? Vol answered the unasked query.

"If it isn't, that needs to be a part of the conversation with Tress. She may miss your voice, she may wish to hear sound again. But, if she changes her mind, and as intelligent as children are they do sometimes neglect to consider long-term implications. She may not have the option to go back to the way things were. Surgeries of this nature typically cannot be back-peddled upon."

"Well, I certainly intend to find out. Thank you, my friends." Fleur exhaled a long, weary sigh.

There was so much to think about, and she only wished she had the ability to see in to the future for an instant; to look Tress in the eye in ten years time and ask her which decision she would have her parents make now.


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


Fleur Le Marc
Afterthought Café
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


Dabin Reece
USS Serendipity NCC-2012

1046: Projection

By Will Lindsay and Zanh Liis
Following Corrosion


"I've never seen such projecting! It's in Cinemascope with Dolby surround!"

~Bernard Black, Black Books


-=USS Serendipity=-

Though it wasn’t exactly the first time William Lindsay had been on board the Sera, this time it was like a new man had stepped off the transporter pad.

This man was far from the Lindsay that had come on board in times past; the one who had been so playful and easygoing, just coming along for the adventure and to flirt with the occasional member of the crew. This William Lindsay was focused, angry, and though he’d never admit it, deeply wounded in more places than just his pride.

This man was normally so relaxed in his surroundings and given to duty when it was most fun or a matter of honour. Now however he was deadly serious and there was power to this sincerity that propelled him at a rapid pace through the ship.

Without even acknowledging perhaps not even noticing the familiar form of Andrew Parrish at the transporter controls, he strode out of the room and in the direction of the nearest turbolift with such speed that even with his large steps Keiran struggled to keep up.

It wasn’t long before Keiran was ready to protest but Liis' indignation overrode Keiran's politeness and she beat him to the punch. “Where the hell are you going?” she demanded of Will, quickening her steps to be beside him. She growled under her breath as he continued on without so much as turning to face her. Her frown turned to a true scowl now; she was not a woman whose temperament would allow her to tolerate it for long when she knew she was being ignored.

“Main bridge,” he finally addressed both Liis and the turbolift at the same time as he stepped in through the door which then closed the second the two others were on board.

“Main brig,” Keiran added with a pointed tone of voice, and the look on Will’s face said that he was in no mood for the disruption. The look on Keiran’s face reminded Will that such looks would have no effect on him. He was eager to check in on their prisoners and as reluctant as he was to leave Will alone when he was in a state like this, a state of single-mindedness he’d known could be dangerous for more than just the man himself, his experience told him that two TI agents especially when their guards didn’t know what they were dealing with could be even worse than Will.

Luckily for Lindsay the bridge was the nearest location and so the turbolift arrived there first. He nodded a sort of hurried acknowledgement to Keiran as he stepped off whereas it was Liis who gave the worried Irishman a proper look that said she’d take care of Will, and not let him go too far. Keiran's eyes conveyed his gratitude before the doors slid shut between them.

Liis' concern for Will was only finite though and was soon to be if not eroded then diluted by her irritation for his new behaviour. Something Jamieson said surely had gotten to him and while Liis was more than happy to assist Will in bringing whoever it was leading the renegades within TI down she was a woman rarely happy to follow and never happy to operate in the dark about the larger ramifications of her actions. Right now it was the local and immediate ramifications that worried her more than anything else.

Still, Will seemed completely unaware of her concerns, as he continued onto the bridge where he quickly began to act more like he thought he was the Captain here than she was.

“I need a full diagnostic run on the transporters, the containment in the brig checked and rechecked and access to somewhere that I can set up a secured link with a computer core as well as to back up a PADD in a safe location.” He ordered in rapid-fire succession.

It was not as if he was giving Liis a list of requests. He was issuing commands to people as he passed them and all eyes quickly turned to Liis seeming to question if he was serious or if it was worse and there had been some change of command here.

Lindsay’s eyes however were concerned only with obtaining and implementing the things he needed to accomplish his task and he quickly located TC Blane, the man whose job it would be to procure and provide them.

Blane was staring at him with the unflinching intensity of an attack dog; standing in case the Captain should wish to take her command chair. Will began to move toward that chair, and Blane stepped forward once as if to indicate that he should think carefully before attempting to take it from its rightful Bajoran occupant.

The two men had had their conflicts but frankly Lindsay really didn’t care about anything of the sort right now. If there was one thing Lindsay knew about the man it was that loyalty carried a lot of weight with him and at a time like this that more than anything else had meaning. Besides, this was a black and white world and the grey of a begrudging alliance had no place here.

“Spec Ops. I take it you’ve still got no love for the agency which employs me,” Will began though TC’s eyes were quite clearly on Liis, whose dwindling patience was rapidly disintegrating. “Well here’s yer chance to help tear it apart. I’m gonna need you ta command the ship while…”

Before he could even finish Liis cut him off.

“William!” Liis spat, fuming as how he was acting as she threw her arm in the direction of her Ready Room. “A word.”

Knowing it was better not to answer Lindsay since his Captain had already intervened, TC said nothing. He just slowly lowered himself back into the command chair when he saw Liis was obviously not interested in retaking it now. She clearly had other things on her mind, and Blane wasn't the only one who knew it. In fact the entire bridge had to know this by now.

TC shot a look to Dane, who had been showing Mellice Cem some of the specialized features of the Sera’s tactical station and whose eyebrows now seemed to elevate above his face and hang as if suspended in mid-air above him when he saw Lindsay about face suddenly and follow Zanh begrudgingly into her office.

"Never you mind, Cristiane." Blane warned. "Eyes front." He spun toward the communications console and glared at the woman seated there. "That goes double for you, Steele."

"What?" Landry asked, snapping her gum loudly after asking the question. Blane sighed. He pointed toward her mouth.

"You’ve been warned. That's an hour scrubbing deuterium exhaust ports."

Landry sighed, knowing it best not to offer further comment before tugging the earpiece from her ear and setting it down so she could dispose of her gum in the recycling unit.


The doors swished shut behind them.

He stood still moment in the lingering darkness, watching as Liis walked on toward the window. She was staring out at what lay beyond it, though he knew the look well enough to know she was really thinking of a time gone past instead of any sight her eyes could focus upon out in space.

Finally he called for the lights at half full. Liis blinked as the fixtures switched on, the only outward indication that she was aware of anything going on outside of her own head in this moment where there was so much more she was thinking about than just her fury at Will.

Will knew that time was getting away from them and didn't allow her long to engage in what he considered to be a wasteful exercise in useless brooding. He asserted himself as the topic of the most immediate emotion, waking her from her considerations.

“What?” he demanded, thinking the question should be sufficient in its detail for Liis to tell him off if she felt she had to and be done with it.

Liis spun around to address him, her manner offering no indication she’d even been thinking of anything else before, even though those same thoughts still drenched her mind.

“Don’t...you...dare,” Liis vehemently warned, her chest rising and falling with breaths too short to fuel an actual sentence. She moved towards him in a way that could have made most men back into the wall and scratch against it furiously to try to claw their way clear of her reach but that barely even shook him right now. “You do not come onto my ship, my bridge, and start giving orders to my crew without even as much as acknowledging my presence!”

The first look on Will’s face said he was asking himself if he’d done anything wrong but the second confirmed that he felt he hadn’t. The third look said he was offended by the suggestion.

“Well, I’m sorry if I had ta skip out on some of the social niceties but time is bloody important here. I have a plan. That plan requires this ship,” he argued, trying to make it seem like it was just calm reasoning but with the new hunger and desperation to bring this corruption to an end hard to keep out of his words. “You said you’d help me so you can’t deny me access to that help now.”

“Help?” Liis scoffed in disbelief as she turned away and gestured to the room as if to reinforce this point. “Doesn’t seem like you need or want help from anyone. You just want to make a decision, take whatever risks you feel are justified and the only thing left for anyone else to do is to blindly follow your commands and accept the consequences.”

Will looked entirely prepared to return Liis’ argumentative tone in kind when something dawned upon him. It was something that said he now felt he understood the true meaning behind the argument and when the man was trying to argue for the sake of being right more than the truth that made him feel Liis had just tipped her hand here.

“Is that really what’s botherin' you, Zanh Liis?” he asked her quickly, with something between smugness and indignation. “You think I’m recklessly makin’ decisions without caring about what happens to an’a’one else, is that it?”

Though his tone said he barely even cared for an answer Liis took the opportunity to give one anyway.

“Yes, that's exactly it. It’s the look in your eyes. It's the tone of your orders. It's every goddamned…" she argued until frustration finally just overcame her and the next words spilled out without ever seeming to have begun in her brain. “Keiran could've been killed back there!”

The way she’d said the words suddenly changed or perhaps more correctly resurrected something inside of Will. Anger had a way of blinding him sometimes, but he could still be made to see and now he felt as he did there were no more words coming to his mouth. In fact seconds passed without either saying a word as Liis found she finally had to turn away.

"Zanh Liis," Will approached her gingerly now. He raised a hand to put on her shoulder but quickly thought better of touching her and withdrew it without making contact. "It wasn't supposed to happen like this. I wasn't supposed to hav'ta ask ya for so much help. To get the Sera directly involved."

"Well, we're in it up to our necks now," the emotion still evident in her voice declared that her anger was not to be as easily dismissed as his had. "Our friends down in the brig guarantee that no matter what else we do."

"Don'cha see, Liis?" Will did take hold of her by the shoulders now and turned her around until she faced him. "I know who it is now. I know where it all leads back and I know what yer thinkin', that I should've seen it before. Before I risked you or Keiran.” Will acknowledged, a different sort of anger in his tone now as it was one he liked to think was directed at the leader of the corruption but was really aimed straight at himself. “And yer right on all counts. But there's nothin' I can do about that now. Now all I can do is promise you that things are gonna be set right. At least as right as I can make them. You just have'ta trust me."

"Trust you." Again, she directed searing, fiery eyes at him. "Trust you? You know, even after that little stunt you pulled with the compasses before, I still thought I could. I really thought," she shook her head, and he sighed, rolling his eyes a little too dramatically for her liking up toward the ceiling.

"So we’re back ta the compasses again, are we?” Now his irritation was truly evident, he couldn't believe they were back to this again. “I thought we'd put that little misunderstandin' behind us."

"Misunderstanding!" Liis stammered. "Misunderstanding?"

"Y'er repeatin' yerself, Liis.” Will couldn't resist the opportunity to antagonise her though he had been intent on ignoring her words outright and knew it wasn't a wise choice. “Must be old age catchin' up to ya. Look, as fun as this has been we just don't have the time for it. I need to use your computer system to take care of some things back home, may I?"

He turned to move for her desk and Liis officially and completely reached the end of her patience. She struggled to get the words out as she grasped hold of him by the sleeve and held him where he stood.

"God damn you, Will-"

"Thought you were an atheist."

Will's smirk faded as she swiftly executed the same maneuver she had with Jamieson earlier and his face harshly met the opposing wall.

"I'm only going to say this once,” Liis warned with a quiet sort of viciousness that said he’d better listen. “If any harm comes to Keiran because you withheld information from us, especially from me,"

"It won't." Will answered gruffly, not struggling against Liis because while his training may have let him escape if he’d done it right her training also may have snapped him in half if he did it wrong.

"He's at high risk here. He's scared to death."

"No." Will bluntly replied, entirely certain of what he was saying. "You're scared to death."

She shoved him harder up against the wall and continued, ignoring his response. "Keiran is terrified of what Brody could do to me and he'll be distracted. In fact he should probably be out of the rest of this entirely."

"You're terrified of what Brody will do to you given the chance and you are afraid that you'll be the reason Keiran finally gets himself killed in a timeline where you can't fix it."

She inhaled and something between a wail and a growl issued from her lips.

She let him go but not before thumping him one last time against the unforgiving surface. She turned away, folding her arms tightly around her sinking stomach. "He's not ready for this."

"You're the one who's not ready." Will shook his head. "It's called projection, Zanh Liis, I know with all you know of psychology that you're familiar with the concept. Right now you're projecting your fears onto him." He sighed. "Keiran is fine. You are not."

“I…” Liis began to object, but the words ‘I’m fine’ sounded even less convincing when uttered without certainty than it would to say nothing at all. She clearly didn’t like though that Lindsay would be able to tell either way that he had hit a nerve here.

“Ya don’t have ta be, you know.” Will responded, cutting her off before she could be expected to answer. “We’re TI. We’re always TI even when we leave it." He paused a moment, watching her wilt as she reacted physically to his words. Her eyes and arms lowered slowly in something akin to an outward concession of defeat: something that he really hated to see. "The thing about being TI is that we spend half our lives not being fine. We wouldn’ even bloody well sign on ta begin with if we were fine.”

Will had more to say but Liis’ attention seemed to have lapsed before he’d even finished so he saw no point in bothering. Indeed it had as two words he’d said now echoed around in her mind, pausing the conversation while she processed them.

Always TI.” Liis finally said quietly to herself, considering how frighteningly true those words were. They’d thought they were out, but they never were. There was always some disaster around the corner that could drag them back in no matter how hard they clawed at the ground along the way. They could never really be free.

Yet Liis was not one to dwell too long on the things she could not change when there were things that so desperately needed changing before her. So she summoned up all her strength and held down all the fear she may have been feeling, determined to focus instead on the task at hand. After a brief outward sigh she of frustration and so many other emotions she locked her eyes insistently on Lindsay again.

“If you want something on this ship you will ask for it from me,” she said firmly, being sure to emphasise the parts that were absolutely nonnegotiable. “No plan will be undertaken until I have been fully briefed and signed off on it. You don't so much as replicate lunch aboard my ship until I know what you're ordering. Is that understood?”

“Understood,” Will replied impatiently, seeing there was no point in arguing and that it was better to rush through an explanation than to debate that he didn’t have time for one. “You want the plan? We’re locking it down. That’s the plan.”

“What do you mean locking it down?” Liis asked, her face a study in confusion feeling Will had clearly missed part of his explanation.

“The Department of Temporal Investigations,” Will answered. “We’re going ta lock down every building, every piece of equipment and every thing goddamn else for that matter within a light-year radius of Earth. No one gets out except by our own hand and nothing goes back on again until we’ve cleared away every last one of these bastards.”

Liis' eyes widened, but even as the gravity of what he was planning to do crushed in on her, she knew that there really was no other choice.

She reminded herself now of the office that he held, the importance of his work, and the fact that she had given her word to do all she could to help him try to restore the dignity and worth of the once proud organization to which, in their own way, each of them had already sold their soul.

Captain William Lindsay
Interim Director
The Department of Temporal Investigation


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

1045: Corrosion: Two

By Captain William Lindsay
Following Part One

-=Headquarters of Temporal Investigations: Earth=-

Seated in his office, Tucker Brody sat still as a statue in the chair at his desk. His expression was cold and unemotional, apparently completely unresponsive to the threat to his own safety he’d just overheard.

The voices had been as familiar as they were clear but as he heard the sound of the door finally closing as the three finally left the room he realised he’d not be hearing anything more useful than that foolish barkeeper clearing up the mess they’d made.

Finally he reached onto his desk and deactivated the receiver, then leant back to stop and think, ignoring all of the chaos around him.

That chaos came from the two other men who were seated across from him. They, like him, had come here to listen to the feed from equipment hidden in the bar where they’d learned Lindsay would be but that was where the similarities ended.

One of these men was Lieutenant Commander Mitchell. He was the second in command of security, not that position or rank had a whole lot of meaning in this situation now.

Brody could sum up Mitchell’s psychology pretty easily; he was a weak man who wanted too much. At least, Brody thought, Mitchell was smart enough to know that he’d never achieve now the position he’d hoped for starting out.

With the apparently infallible Paul Andrews above him and with the rate at which his once muscular chest had fallen to a now far from muscular stomach, Mitchell would be asked to retire long before he gained another promotion. So he’d let himself be swayed by promises of advantages he could gain here that he couldn’t through the official channels. In short he was simply a man on the decline and he’d let himself run out of options. Brody considered it pathetic.

“I knew Jamieson was a mistake,” Mitchell protested in a panic, sweat beginning to disgustingly drench his brow as he muttered to himself like a fool thinking anyone cared to listen. “God, why didn’t I just retire? I should have retired…”

“I think you were a mistake,” the third man spat, making no secret that he shared Brody’s distaste for Mitchell. At least he would if he could really understand it.

This third man was Lieutenant Peterson, yet to even reach thirty but with cockiness far beyond what he could have earned in his years as a jumper pilot, and with no patience for old men or their worries. In fact, everything about him screamed of how little time he felt he had to spare from the way he’d anxiously crossed his arms and legs throughout the meeting from how his hair was gelled down because he just couldn’t care to try to force it into place in the mornings. He was a man who got things done whatever way was the quickest.

These were not the best of qualities for an ally but for someone you could control without them realising it, they really couldn’t be beaten.

Of course, he had his own reasons for why he thought he’d decided to be part of this even though the decision was made far above his station. He was determined he would never end up like Mitchell and as little respect as he had for the man, or indeed any other, he accepted that as long as Jonas Vox was out it was better to be with Brody; at least through Brody his voice could be heard. Little did he know how much more often it was Brody telling him what to say in the first place.

“I should have retired,” Mitchell still continued to protest at a mumble until eventually Peterson snapped at him.

“Just let me think!” He shouted with his arms in the air in frustration and then Mitchell turned quiet.

It was easy to read that he momentarily thought of fighting back but he had no fight left in him. Once someone of Peterson’s rank would never have dared speak to him like that and he’d never have let him but as their numbers had grown the meaning of his rank in the official channels had shrunk to be replaced with the power he held here.

He held no real power, though, and so often he longed for the simpler times when he was just a little bit of a failure. He’d had his family and his small circle of friends and nothing else to really worry about. He’d had no idea back then what he had. Still, Brody really didn’t care about his suffering.

Brody really couldn’t for that matter have cared at all what the other two men were doing. They may have been relatively influential but there were many more involved who could replace them.

Brody had his priorities: namely Zanh Liis and getting rid of Lindsay’s evidence, though at the moment not in that order. In fact he seemed completely lost in thought, unable to even hear the others’ irritating words, until Mitchell again suggested something.

“I don’t care what she said. We need to contact her. She’ll know what to do.”

Now Brody snapped back to attention, infuriated by the fact that Mitchell even thought it.

“No, we don’t,” he coldly insisted, his calm finally penetrated by a hint of disgust as his face turned to a scowl. “We didn’t need Vox, we certainly don’t need her.”

“Yeah, then what do we need?” Peterson snorted, simply angry in general and lacking the ability to recognise at what.

“Everything Lindsay has relies on Jamieson. We need get to get to him before he can give them anything more,” Brody replied, as he considered how this could be done.

Then a slightly proud smile formed upon on his face as he recalled a precaution he’d taken by having tracking devices included in Abberton and Frawley’s weapons, which according to the readings on the computer terminal before him hadn’t been beamed with them onto the Serendipity.


Having gotten far enough away from the bar, Will gave Liis the location and soon they rematerialised to find themselves between unfamiliar walls. They were once again technically on TI property. It wasn’t the most glamorous or the most well known area under their influence but it was one that once upon a time most agents had at least seen before.

It was not part of the actual main building but from a global perspective it was something between the garage and the basement of Temporal Investigations. Much of the actual bulk of TI’s operations were based beneath the ground of the official building but, even though on a different site outside the city, this was based below all the rest.

It was a huge open space that stretched as far as the eye could see but it was far from the opulence of most of headquarters. The cold, uncarpeted floor created loud, echoing thumps with the initial strike of their boots as they each took a single tentative step forward. The far apart lights overhead seemed just too pitifully diluted by the sheer size of this room; mixed with a cavernous emptiness that could be so overpowering it gave the feeling of a giant, twentieth century parking garage long since abandoned.

Once this was the heart of new technological developments in TI. They’d build entire ships here then they’d cloak them and take them out from the grounds far outside of the city. However over time as the department had grown in power and influence they’d moved almost all ship construction either off planet or at the very least somewhere less likely to offend an Admiral’s eyes.

The last noteworthy ship constructed here was the USS Poseidon, a failed attempt at building a jump ship to support a crew of over a hundred; a feat according to many still far ahead of its time and that was over thirty years ago now.

According to the records it was still down here. It seemed no one even cared to look here anymore though as those who’d so master time cared little for history; even or perhaps especially their own.

The majority of the equipment had been stripped away as had the entire staff save those to monitor it for security. Most people could barely even remember this place any longer and with all of the developments recently it had seemed less and less significant.

It was now little more than an elephant graveyard for old abandoned projects that it’d been decided were still too dangerous to risk leaving where someone could see them and not worth destroying. Though those ships were relatively few, to see them in various states of assembly, littering the ground like this was still enough to make this place feel like it was somewhere things came to die; even things that had never truly had a chance to live.

It was not however dead as was signaled by the fact that immediately upon their intrusion a deafening alarm began and all the lighting in this huge space started flashing in protest.

“Recognise Lindsay, 6-2-5-Gamma-Delta-Beta.” Will announced, identifying himself to the room to make it forgive their unscheduled transport, and finally the lights returned to normal and the room faded back to silence. This was a large part of why he’d selected this particular location because no one ever scheduled transport down here and since anyone without a good reason to come here wouldn’t want to give their authorisation which the turbolifts from the structure above also required it was a fairly safe place to be. It was by no means perfect, people with the right skills could override these things and come here unseen, but it was better than nothing.

Satisfied that things were as they should be, or at least as close as they could be at a time like this, Will indicated a nearby door built into the massive wall behind them.

“This way. Used to be the office of the man in charge here, though is now unmanned most of the time. If he’s decided ta behave Jamieson should be in here.”

“I’ll go first, yeah?” Keiran asked, as the look in Liis’ eye said that being shot at and discovering their association with Brody had done nothing to reduce her thirst to inflict serious injury on any given member of this conspiracy.

Will nodded his agreement.

Liis did not.

“I’m coming with you,” she announced. It was clearly not a request.

“Liis,” Keiran started to object but he realised it was utterly pointless.

With everything she knew and all that had already happened there was simply no way she was going to be willing to stand back now. Keiran knew her better than to ask again.

“In that case we’d best all go together,” Will suggested, cutting in. “I need ta make sure ya don’t do too much damage ta meh major asset.”

He was only half joking, and Liis knew him well enough now to recognise it. She also knew herself well enough now to recognise that when she knew how many people had been hurt already and that this man was somehow involved, even if only through just standing by and doing nothing, Will was right to be worried.

Accepting what he’d said, Liis then began to approach the door. Before she arrived it suddenly burst open to reveal they were yet again staring down the barrel of a phaser. This time however the phaser was gripped awkwardly and much tighter by a man who looked terrified just to hold it.

His hands were shaking and his eyes were wide as he desperately tried to decide whether Liis or Keiran was the better target. With the anxious heaving of his chest they could well have decided just to do nothing and to wait until he collapsed before them.

None of them however were in quite the mood to do nothing.

“Damn it, Jamieson, put that down,” Will growled at him, never one to mind a life and death situation when it was just him but having little patience for people who put his friends in danger even if just that of a shaky trigger finger.

“Who the hell are they?” Jamieson asked referring to Will’s two companions, shifting the weapon back so quickly it barely had a chance to focus on either of them.

“They’re…” Will started to explain but Liis really wasn’t in the mood for putting up with this man’s paranoia. Angrily she launched herself towards him before he had a chance to react and in one quick motion she yanked his arm behind his back, spinning him around and slamming him face first into the wall.

“We’re the people you really don’t want to make enemies of,” Liis advised as she prevented him from moving, twisting his arm until his hand finally let the weapon fall to the ground. “We’re also the ones you’re going to help out by telling us everything you know.” At the first opportunity she kicked Jamieson’s weapon away.

“I’d advise ya to listen to this one,” Keiran calmly warned him. “Ya really shouldn’a made her angry.”

A small yelp of pain emanated from Jamieson, who in spite of being able to rival Keiran in height with his lanky frame and lack of training had absolutely no chance of forcing his way out of this position.

“I can’t. There are some names only I’d have. They’ll kill me if they find out it was me who’s been helping you,” He cried, but his pleas did absolutely nothing for Liis’ patience.

“They already know,” Will hurriedly informed him and now Jamieson really started to panic, desperately trying to squirm his way from Liis’ grip as if he had anywhere to run.

“How the hell could they know?” He continued to resist as much as he could with his cheek still forced against the wall.

“I really don’ think that matters,” Will replied, though in truth he just didn’t want to tell him he’d accidentally given that information away. “The point is that we’re now yer only chance of makin’ it out of this with all yer parts still attached.”

Jamieson continued to struggle both on the outside and in, as his breaths became more rapid and he still fought with utter futility to get away. Finally though he realised that he had no more choices here.

“Alright!” He screamed, hoping just to get this done with. “I knew this day might come. There’s a PADD in the office. It’s on the desk.”

Jamieson did his best to gesture inside.

Slowly and cautiously, Keiran stepped around him and into the depressingly cramped and poorly lit space that could still be technically called an office to find there was indeed a PADD where Jamieson had said it’d be. He picked it up and started to look through it.

“Nothin’ here,” Keiran observed as he returned with the item on hand, leading Liis to twist Jamieson’s arm that much more painfully.

“There is!” Jamieson loudly whined. “There’s information on there about every major player, not just Brody. It’s just encrypted. In a couple of months you could probably crack it but there’s no need. All you need is the password.”

“That so? And what’s it gonna take fer you to give us that?” Will asked impatiently, knowing in the past Jamieson had rarely made this easy.

“Just keep me alive!” Jamieson rasped between panicked breaths, his wide eyes showing this was really all he cared for now.

Finding his terms acceptable Liis finally released him, turning him around, and quietly but strongly advising “Don’t ever pull a weapon on me again.”

Slowly rubbing his sore jaw, Jamieson shook his head that he wouldn’t, feeling he was probably a hell of a lot safer now he had Liis on his side all things considered.

Little did he know that the short range tracking devices unintentionally carried into this place had just finally been located again.

“This better contain the name of the man in charge,” Will advised Jamieson as Keiran handed the PADD to him. “Otherwise…”

Before he could finish Will was suddenly interrupted by a screaming alarm as every light in the structure again started flashing. Instinctively he turned to see who it was that had intruded, but then rapidly he turned back to find Jamieson starting to dematerialise. He was fighting against it in agony in a way some with the correct training and strength could but Jamieson clearly wasn’t one of them.

“It’s not a…!” he managed in his desperation to scream, before he disappeared completely.

Looking at an empty wall where his one final lead had been and suddenly putting pieces he’d missed before together, now Will was really getting angry and was almost ready to punch a hole through the wall where the man had been. Rapidly and heavily he exhaled as he realised this utter betrayal.

“Damn!” He swore but instead of punching anything he decided to channel it into a sudden determination.

By the end of this day, this corruption was coming to an end.

Captain William Lindsay
Interim Director
Temporal Investigations

1044: Corrosion: One

By William Lindsay and Zanh Liis
Immediately following Connecting the Dots
-=An Undisclosed Drinking Establishment; Earth=-

With his weapon not working and the ‘enemy’, without a doubt actually TI agents themselves, closing in Will realised this situation was pretty damned desperate.

He also realised he’d made a big mistake coming here and infuriatingly another major one before he’d done so. Still, instinct told him that any analysis of these missteps would be better suited a time when no one was attempting the separation of his head from all other parts of him.

“Come out!” One of the men shouted from the doorway. “If you surrender now then no one has to get hurt. We just want to talk to you.”

Will had no doubt they knew exactly where he was; the singed hairs on his arm enough to tell him that they could never have missed seeing him dive behind this table which even now only barely concealed him from their view. He spied Liis and Keiran across the room, down low in their former booth. He knew that their assailants had to be aware of the O’Sullivans’ location as well.

A tense, unhappy glance was exchanged between the three loyal Starfleet officers, sadly confirming that none of them had a plan to get out of this.

*More like ya don’t want ta draw attention ta yerselves by taking out half this room ta get us,* Will thought to himself.

He knew the table between them would be about as much use against a TI phaser as holding a strainer over your head to keep back the ocean. Experience told him though that they’d rather not fire through it because they were trying to be discreet and a sad truth of covert operations was that the sudden disappearance of a person no one’s looking for is a lot less conspicuous than a piece of furniture people would notice had gone.

He decided however that it was better to play along; if you didn’t have a plan then you could at least give yourself a little more time to come up with one. “Right. Why don’t I just shoot mehself for ya?”

“That would help…” Will barely made out the words of the first man even as the second spoke again.

“Don’t be stupid, Lindsay. You know we’ve got no quarrel with your friends here. So let’s do this properly. You come with us, we’ll let them go home. End of story. Or, we could shoot you all. Your choice.”

Keiran and Liis both glared at Will to convey that they didn’t believe a word, and the look he shot back to them declared that he didn’t either.

“Okay,” Will replied slowly as he tested his phaser once again to confirm that it was absolutely bloody useless. “If ya promise they’ll not be hurt…”

As the men stepped closer again, Keiran gave Will a look that said “Ya better know what yer doin’, William,” and the shake of Will’s head in reply just as clearly answered “I’m just makin’ this up as I go along.”

Liis however did at least have a very small part of a plan now. Sliding her hand up across the table, she knew there was something that could at least pass for a weapon there. As the two armed men approached they split up, one to either side so they were completely ready to take out all three of their enemies with one shot each.

Liis grasped hold of the heavy glass mug from Will’s beer and pulled it closer to her.

“I give you my word,” the first man replied, though it was clear by now he believed Will already knew exactly what that oath was worth. “We...”

Before the sentence was even finished the two men lunged forward, ready to fire. With barely a thought for what might happen Will flipped the table in front of him up into the air toward his assailants.

Both men then turned on instinct to fire upon it as Will barely managed to jump out of the way.

Seeing their opportunity with a brief second of distraction, Liis and Keiran simultaneously sprang out from hiding though the two men were already starting to turn around with phasers at the ready as they did. Not wasting a second Liis smashed the closest attacker over the head with the glass while Keiran grabbed hold of the second man, trapping him completely within his massive arms to hold him still.

The first fell to the ground but the second man was strong and he was struggling fiercely.

Try as he might Keiran wasn’t completely able to incapacitate him and he was slowly inching his weapon around to face it on Irishman.

“Don’ do it,” Keiran warned, as the man continued to fight to wrench himself free. He’d almost reached the perfect angle and was so focused on Keiran he didn’t see Liis reaching downward.

In a single fluid motion, she ripped the weapon from the unconscious man’s hands and fired one shot at Keiran’s attacker, barely missing the Irishman himself but causing the other man to turn limp in his arms.

After taking the man’s phaser in hand Keiran let him fall gently down to the ground between them.

Finally Keiran turned to Liis and seeing she was fine he allowed himself to exhale a quiet but deeply meaningful sigh of relief.“Yer ‘right, yeah?” Keiran looked her up and down quickly; his eyes showing great concern as he old fears forced him to confirm what appeared to be true actually was.

“Fine.” Liis replied, with a tone that said that she hadn’t forgotten his pulling her unwillingly out of the way of the fight but with that slight smile that crept over her face halfway through and said she couldn’t really be that mad at him for it. “You?”

Keiran nodded once as he moved swiftly towards her. He clamped a hand down on her shoulder, needing to touch her just for an instant to convince himself that she really was all right. Once he accepted that she was, then he knew he would be. “Yeah. Am.”

“I’m fine too if anyone’s interested,” Will chimed in teasingly as he dramatically dusted himself off and tugged on the cuffs of his tunic to straighten them out. If Keiran had asked about him before Liis then frankly he’d have been worried for more reasons than one. Finally he ran a hand through his hair in hopes of returning any stray strands to their usual, contrived state of intentionally casual perfection.

Having been able to place his hand upon her arm, a small but significant gesture, Keiran was finally able to take his eyes away from his wife and the investigator in him kicked back in. He bent down over the nearest unconscious man, ready to search his pockets for some type of identification.

“Don’t bother,” Will instructed, as he pointed to the man at Keiran’s feet. “This is Abberton and his friend’s name is Frawley. They’re on the list Jamieson gave me.”

Keiran began to rise but before he was even halfway up a realisation struck.
“Speakin' of Jamieson, odds on these two were not the only ones listening in…”

“Aye,” Will solemnly agreed, with renewed frustration over the seriousness of their situation. Though he’d known that the poison at TI ran deep and was a vile, frothing concoction made up of self-righteous indignation, outright greed and misdirected loyalties, what he’d just learned from what happened here seemed to make it all taste much more bitter. “Somethin’ stopped my phaser from workin’. I doubt they’d have been able to generate that from here.”

None of them had to say it; if others been listening in then they’d have found out that Jamieson was Will’s source and if they knew that then Jamieson wasn’t likely to be all that alive for all that much longer.

Liis unceremoniously stepped over the man at her feet. There were far more important matters to be dealt with now and she wanted to just get on with it. She fixed the weapon to her belt.

“Do you know where he is?”

“I think so,” Will replied, though he could only really hope that Jamieson had been smart enough to stay where he’d suggested he should. “But before we go we need ta do something with this lot, and at the moment it might not be worth much ta bother lockin’ ‘em up at TI.”

For a second Liis considered if the idea she had was a good one and she quickly decided it wasn’t, but it may be the best of the bad ones available given they didn’t have many options here.

“We’ll beam them aboard the Sera.” She reluctantly suggested. “Lock them up there.”

Will nodded that this would be acceptable and appreciated and Liis moved off to contact the ship again.

Seeing his opportunity Will then moved over to Keiran and spoke at little more than a whisper. “Listen, there’s someone involved here I thought it best not ta mention in front of yer wife…”

Out of earshot Liis hit her combadge.

“Zanh to Parrish…if you scan my current location you’ll find two unconscious lifesigns. Have them beamed to the brig.” Liis thought for a second about just what someone with TI training could be capable of especially when they had help. “Better make it separate cells.”

[Aye sir] Parrish replied after taking time to check the readings and soon the two men dematerialised out of sight.

Liis then turned back to Keiran and Will.

Noticing her approach the conversation seemed immediately to halt. Will tried to gloss over the slip, casually continuing on as naturally as possible. He clapped his hands together once. “Now that we’ve taken out the rubbish, we’d best get goin’,” he suggested, a little too eagerly for Liis to have missed it.

Her eyes darted to Keiran, and she instantly noted concern in his eyes that hadn’t been there seconds before.

Those same eyes weren’t quite meeting hers now, in the way that said he was afraid she’d read something in them she shouldn’t.

Clearly Will had just told him that something whatever it was, as he was watching Keiran through his peripheral vision in the way so easily missed by most people but that could never be missed by Zanh Liis.

Liis sighed heavily, putting a hand up and against Lindsay’s chest with great and evident irritation. “Hold up there, Rob Roy.”

She spun immediately back to Keiran because she knew that of either of them he would find it a lot harder to keep a secret from her. She raised her hand and curled her index finger to beckon him closer. “You. I want to talk to you.”

Keiran paused silently, seeming to internally ask himself what was safe to say and what was best not to.

The news Will had given him meant the situation was even more dangerous for Liis than Keiran could possibly have feared, though with her attitude toward danger he knew that’d not make a whole lot of difference to her. It was however something to make it that much more personal and that could greatly influence the risks she’d take, which meant it made a hell of a lot of difference to him.

“We really better start movin’,” Will suggested more urgently, trying to break the silence as he tugged Liis’ sleeve and made as if to exit the room. He gestured toward his ear and widened his eyes, reminding her that they were not really alone and it was not safe to speak openly here.

Liis pulled away, crossed her arms and simply waited, unmoving. She knew the only reason Keiran was likely to even want to attempt to keep anything from her was because he felt he had to protect her. She understood why he did and was wise enough by this point to know that sometimes he’d be smart to do it. Her patience today was wearing thin; she was certain they really didn’t have time for this.

Judging by the anxiousness in his face to get out of here and to Jamieson it was clear Will really didn’t have time for any of this either and so he and Liis both knew that if it came to waiting here she’d win.

Will considered making a joke but opted against it because Liis clearly wasn’t in the mood. “Look, if yer not going ta come with us ta see Jamieson an’a’way, why don’t ya go back ta the ship? Have a coffee and a nice little lie-in and Keiran can catch ya up later.”

The expression on Liis’ face very clearly declared ‘like hell’ without her needing any words to make the statement. Maybe before she’d have been willing to consider letting Keiran go alone, but now with probably half of TI out there to get Jamieson there was no chance she’d let him go in there alone or even just with Lindsay.

Seeing that the attempt had been pointless, Will sighed. He quickly realised that he should have known better than to put Keiran in this position in the first place. In spite of all the deceit around him Keiran was still an honest man and especially unable to keep secrets from the woman who knew him so well she’d read them just as well without him saying them.

Though he’d never been as honest as either of them, Will just hoped that this place hadn’t really changed him yet.

Apologetically he looked at Keiran in a gesture which told him to go ahead. That was all O’Sullivan needed.

“William may be right.” Keiran pressed his lips to her ear and continued in a low, regretful rumble. “I’s Brody, Liis. He’s part of all this. Accordin’ to Jamieson, a big part.”

Liis’ immediate reaction was an instant of stunned disbelief, followed by a scalding self-loathing that she didn’t suspect Brody from the start. Rage boiled up within her at what she considered to be one of her greatest career and personal failings; that she couldn’t yet have put this man behind her.

At the same time her fury at herself and at Brody was tempered by an involuntary, gripping feeling of terror. Hearing that name again sent a cold chill down her spine that seemed to slow and turn back up again rather than to die out when it reached the end. Not only was Tucker Brody a remnant from events still far too fresh she wished she could forget but the man had altered; twisted and corroded into something truly vicious in this timeline. In another time he’d had a decent side to him and truly wanted to help people. Today, he was cruel, cold, and clearly on a vendetta against her though to this day she couldn’t fathom why.

He seemed determined to do whatever it took to make her suffer, and at this time in her life when she actually had something and someone to lose that truly was a frightening thought.

Momentarily Liis paused, seeming to process this information. Quickly however it became clear she’d made up her mind. When it came to not losing what was important to her there was only one way she could be certain; she had to fight to hold onto it with her own two hands. Perhaps more correctly she should say most confident she could hold on, because the worst part of all of this was that there were no certainties.

“No,” she said, with as much resolve as she could force into her voice, even if deep down the thoughts did shake her. “I’m not going back down now. Not because of him.”

Perhaps reason could have told her that regardless of the outcome of their last meeting Brody still knew exactly which wounds were still the most open to prodding to hurt her and that were it a member of her crew in this position then not only would she want them to step back to protect them but would insist they do so out of fear they could be a liability.

Reason, however, had nothing at all to do with her thought process now.

Though once it may have been a matter of pride or just a Captain’s prerogative of stubbornness, this time her motivation for going into the fight were different than they ever could’ve been before she’d lived the Paradox. This time, it was true fear of Brody using Keiran to get to her that made it so clear she only had one choice. She decided that she couldn’t allow fear of a man like Brody make her doubt her place at Keiran’s side; not with his life in such danger.

She was prepared to take on half of TI here, she would not allow Brody to be granted that power or that importance as to be the thing that stopped her from being there when she was needed.

Though clearly Keiran wasn’t happy about it and neither was Will, a glance exchanged between the men confirmed they both knew there was no point to arguing.

That didn’t change that Keiran’s eyes were still full of the concern for just what Brody might do if Liis should stumble across him at some point when Keiran either wasn’t there or wasn’t able to stop him.

“Fair enough,” Will answered with a nod, trying to smile to lighten the mood but still very anxious to get going. “We’ve no time ta discuss it an’a’way. But I’d rather not risk givin’ away Jamieson’s position by arrangin’ ta transport there through TI.”

In spite of her natural lasting irritation at Will’s attempt to deceive her, Liis nodded that she understood and she did even if the expression on her face said she was getting pretty damned sick of all this by now. An attempt on your life did have a way of making you appreciate the difference between caution and paranoia. It did not however prevent you being tired.

“Alright, what are the coordinates?” she sighed, with just the slightest hint of her true fatigue in her tone.

“Not here,” Will replied, gesturing again towards the door, he was far too sure that someone could still be eavesdropping.

Indeed, someone was.

Captain William Lindsay
Interim Director
Temporal Investigations


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