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Old December 14 2011, 10:03 PM   #121
Sandoval
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Re: DS9: A continuation

I'll say this for you Ln X, you're a hell of a grafter keeping going with this with virtually no interest or feedback from anyone. 119 replies as of this writing and 118 of them yours, I don't know how you do it.

I don't think I'd have it in me to continue posting the story month after month with no comments or feedback.
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Old December 14 2011, 10:19 PM   #122
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 3

Day 2, 2100 hours

It was quite relaxing for Megan working in Max’s quarters, indeed she probably had never felt this relaxed about work. She was hunched up against the softly padded chair, with her head bowed down slightly as she studied a padd.

Max though was taken casualness to new levels, he was lying down on the sofa, seemingly at ease with the world.

After an hour of toying around with a computer program that simulated chemical reactions, Megan had enough as she had made little progress. “Let's take a break, seems like the approach of adding neutrons didn't produce the desired results.”

“You're right…” said Max, he sat up and stretched his arms. “I don't suppose you want tea by any chance?”

“No thank you.”

Max looked at his padd, before scowling and disregarding it on a nearby table. “It's so typical of Starfleet to give an near-impossible problem, and then, just to rub it in, they throw in a deadline.”

“We can make it,” said Megan confidently. “After all you are the best Starfleet chemist in the sector!”

“Don't overestimate my abilities, sometimes you can have to much confidence in oneself, and then a problem like this brings you back down to Earth with a bump...”

“I know exactly what you mean.”

“Really?” said Max sceptically. “I didn't really think you were the cocky type.”

“It's not that,” said Megan and she paused, seeking to find the words to explain herself. “What I mean to say is that you can get complacent, and misread the situation, it happened to me in Tau Primia.”

That was a slip of her tongue, Megan had not meant to talk about Tau Primia in such an off-hand way. But she had been feeling too relaxed, though not anymore and she expected Max at any second to start asking her questions about Tau Primia.

Sure enough that was exactly what Max did. “I'm curious to know but what did actually happen in Tau Primia?”

Megan thought carefully about her answer. “You know if you had said that even a few weeks ago, I would have said no...”

“But now?” said Max.

“Now I can because I feel over the last six weeks our friendship has grown stronger. Caring for you is one big reason for this, but another is trust. I feel that I can confide with you some of my deepest thoughts and feelings.”

“I didn't mean to pry,” said Max tactfully, “but in the eight months that I've known you, you have always avoided the topic of Tau Primia. I know you were tortured horribly, but somehow I sensed from you that wasn't the only reason which gave you grief.”

“It wasn't,” said Megan heavily, “but I should warn you, what I'm about to say will disturb you.”

Her warning did not dissuade Max, it only seemed to make him more curious about Megan’s past. “You've told me a lot about your life, your childhood, your time in Starfleet Academy and your Starfleet career, yet you have always avoided talking about Tau Primia, and I just want to know why?”

Megan sighed as she thought about how best to put this to Max. “I think the simplest explanation why I haven't told you is the shame I feel about those two years.”

“Shame?” said Max sounding puzzled. “What were you ashamed about?”

“Because in those two years I lost every shred of my humanity!” replied Megan bitterly.

“Because of being tortured?”

“That's right,” said Megan grimly. “Everyday Bordak violated me, I was simply his slave, his means to indulge in his depraved and wicked fantasies!”

Max put his hand against his cheek as he considered Megan’s words. “If you hated Bordak that much, why didn't you strike back and defend yourself?”

“For the first few weeks I tried, I tried to shrug it off what Bordak was doing to me, telling myself constantly that I could get through this. I once saw an opportunity to break free and I did attack Bordak. Though I wished I hadn't.”

She paused as a particularly painful memory came to mind. “For two weeks I was put in solitary confinement in a pitch black room, and in there I did go crazy. Afterwards Bordak's torture sessions only became worse, it wasn't just physical torture, it was mental torture. He sensed my guilt, and used that weakness and after two months he had nearly destroyed me, I was begging him to end it.”

“So how did you survive?” said Max in a hushed voice, he looked a little shaken by what Megan was telling him.

Despite the horrible nature of the topic, Megan decided to explain it to Max as neutrally and as calmly as possible. “There comes a point when you've seen so much pain and horror that you block it out. You have to, because if you don't you go mad with anguish and sorrow. I became too impervious to it, and I started blocking out other painful memories, like Jack betraying me, and also my estrangement, at the time, with my mother.”

She put her hand to her eyes as they had become watery, and she continued on in a bitter tone of voice. “That was when I lost most of my humanity, because I didn't care. The last trace of humanity I had left was my concern for Haydra's well-being. I would have done anything to escape the situation I was in, I was only really interested in me.”

“Those were extreme circumstances,” said Max, and he seemed to be making excuses for Megan. “You can't blame yourself for what happened.”

Megan shook her head in disagreement. “I think it ultimately came down to the torture, I won't get into details here, but after being violated so many times, it just felt... wrong. I know that's an odd thing to say, but some months later I just realised how horrible it all was. It came to the point were I was afraid of Bordak, not because of the torture, but because he would break me time and time again. To many times I was begging Bordak for mercy and to let it all end, it was like I was contaminated with something vile.”

Max looked disgusted at hearing this, though it was more disgust towards Bordak. “What was it like when you were rescued from the prison camp?”

“Pure shock,” said Megan distantly, as she now felt quite surreal talking about this to Max. “It took me weeks afterwards before it finally started to sink in. I was free, Bordak would never torture me again. I felt reborn, like a huge weight had been lifted from me.”

Though it was happy memory of her first day of freedom, it was a poignant one and tears trickled from her eyes. “To this day I am still thankful for every hour of freedom, it is beyond words that particular sensation. Even so the pain of what has happened still lingers, and I know it will never go away, sometimes at night I still cry about it.”

There was a sympathetic look on Max’s face, though he still seemed troubled. “To be completely honest, I don't think I would have your strength and your resilience to bounce back.”

“You don't fully bounce back,” said Megan sadly. “Everything is now different and the emotional scars are always there, always ready to flare up when you feel fresh emotional pain. I'm just grateful that I can find the strength to live, each and every day. I'm also grateful that I have a friend like you, who is prepared to listen to me prattle on.”

“It's just good to have someone to talk to,” said Max warmly, and he gazed fondly into Megan’s eyes. “But through friendship and not a relationship. That's the best thing about being your friend, there's no sense of physical intimacy, it’s simply a pure friendship.”

Though Megan automatically smiled, Max had no idea how much it pained her for him to say those words. Maybe now was the time to tell Max how she felt about him, but something stopped her. That something was her fear that Max may still only want friendship even if she did tell him. Once again she chickened out of such a golden opportunity.

“Precisely,” she said just a little to late, though Max didn’t seem to notice anything.

Inwardly Megan was kicking herself. What would it take for her to find the courage to tell Max that she loved him?


***


Day 3, 1100 hours

Megan was walking towards docking bay two with considerable pace, her mother was arriving and this was something Megan was not expecting. She had found out in the astronomy lab when Ezri arrived and informed her about Sarah.

When she had just reached the docking bay doors, they opened up revealing Megan’s mother standing in front of a whole crowd of passengers.

“Mother this is a surprise!” said Megan brightly, and she stepped forth to hug Sarah. “I wonder why you hadn't answered my calls for over a week!”

“I thought a surprise visit would be nice,” said Sarah, she stopped hugging Megan and had her hands placed on Megan’s shoulders. “And besides it has been nearly ten months since we last saw each other.”

“A lot has happened to me over the last ten months.”

Megan could sense that her mother was looking at her rather inquisitively, and it made her a little uncomfortable.

“I could tell,” said Sarah shrewdly, “didn't I tell you staying here would help you recover?”

“You were absolutely right,” admitted Megan, “and now I feel as if I have a life again... By the way I like your haircut.”

“You like my shorter hair?” said Sarah appreciatively, letting go of Megan and placing a hand to swish up the neat bob. “Well that is good to hear, I was getting tired of longer hair so I decided to get a short bob instead. I think it makes me look younger.”

Megan studied her mother's face carefully. “That's not all, it looks like you've had a face lift.”

“Maybe I have,” said Sarah brightly, she paused and looked intently at Megan. “Perhaps you could show me your friends, like that Max fellow you constantly talk about.”

“I'll see if I can find you the time,” said Megan a little more stiffly than she would have liked. No doubt Sarah would embarrass and gently tease her in front of others. “Would you like a tour of the station?” she said, changing the topic.

“Don't you have a shift to complete?” asked Sarah sharply.

“Dax let me finish my shift early, so I could spend some time with you.”

Sarah looked very approving of Ezri’s decision. “That Trill woman is extremely thoughtful and considerate, no wonder she's in command of this station.”

Megan lead the way while Sarah followed just at Megan’s side. The next few days would be interesting for Megan, as Sarah would undoubtedly ask all sorts of questions about her job, her personal life and much more. Indeed Megan wondered if she could keep hidden her secret attraction to Max without Sarah noticing. If Sarah did find out then it would be highly embarrassing for her…


***


Day 3, 1330 hours

Kira was meditating in the privacy of the Bajoran temple, recently her meditations had been more fruitful and she had felt considerably more at ease with her life. Odo’s absence still hurt, but the pain felt less raw now. She had just finished her meditations when she sensed that someone was watching her. Turning around her wheelchair, Kira saw that person was none other than Vedek Talrik. “Vedek Talrik, what are you doing here?”

Talrik though was skulking away in the doorway, he looked a little embarrassed. “I didn't disturb you by any chance?”

“Of course not,” Kira said warmly, and she positively glowed to see Talrik. Pushing the wheels with her hands, she moved closer to Talrik. “I had just finished my meditations.”

“I'm glad to see you are recovering well.”

Kira's smile became a bit wider as she appreciated Talrik's compliment. “I should be fully up and about in just over three months.”

There was a smile on Talrik’s face when he heard this. “Over the last month I've prayed for you, and asked the Prophets to give you guidance. Especially now, after your husband suddenly left DS9.”

“How do you know about Odo?” asked Kira, sounding a little suspicious.

“I have my sources...” said Talrik, and he momentarily averted his eyes from Kira’s gaze.

“I know you are going to say to forgive Odo,” Kira observed. “But that is one thing I can't do.”

Talrik looked at Kira in that vedek-like stare of his. “Forgiveness is only the last step in a emotional recovery, I'm certain you will eventually understand why Odo left you.”

“Well that's just it,” mused Kira, “maybe I don't want to understand...”

She paused, as another matter came to her mind, this was one Talrik could solve. “Talking about spiritual matters, my daughter has shown an interest in the Prophets, and she wants to have an orb experience to explore Bajoran spiritually.”

Talrik seemed vaguely interested to hear this. “Is your daughter trying to seek clarity and understanding of her pagh?”

“I think it is more curiosity,” said Kira, frowning as she thought about her daughter’s request. “I was wondering if you could give her permission to view the orb of Prophecy and Change in the Koma temple?”

“Before I decide upon anything, may I speak to your daughter first? It's just I may be able to help in her spiritual quest.”

“Of course,” said Kira, she didn’t have to think about Talrik’s request, because she completely trusted him.


***


Day 3, 1500 hours

Max was transfixed staring down the electron microscope, his hands were at the console controls manipulating the nano-sized lasers inside a very small sealed container. He was manipulating the structure of adamantium molecules, and he was certain that these molecules could be arranged to form an even stronger molecular structure.

“May I have a quick word with you commander?”

That was Ezri’s voice, and Max immediately stood up to attention, he still had not got used to Ezri’s rather informal style of command. “Captain,” he said sounding a little surprised, “this is a little unexpected.”

“At ease commander,” said Ezri in a relaxed tone. “I just wanted to let you know that lieutenant Tanya Dawson will be arriving tomorrow to take up her new posting as a member of your staff.”

For a brief moment Max closed his eyes in horror; how on earth could Tanya be arriving on this station? “How long will she be staying here?” he asked in a rather constricted voice.

“For the time being indefinitely,” said Ezri, she was now carefully looking at Max’s expression. “I specially requested for her to be posted at this station, and let me tell you it took considerable amount of convincing and arm-bending, for her former commanding officer to let her be reassigned. She is one of Starfleet's most talented science officers and I'm sure once the two of you are working together, she will contribute significantly to your department's research.”

Max felt flustered as he was unsure of how to take this news. “That's good I guess,” he said with zero conviction.

Ezri was looking at Max in a rather questioning manner, and Max remembered with a jolt that Ezri was once a counsellor. It would be very hard to hide one's true feelings from this woman.

“You don't seem to approve of Ms Dawson's posting, may I ask why?”

Max hesitated for a moment, as he thought about his answer. “Well the last time we were together was in Starfleet Academy, and we had a relationship, a very intimate relationship I might add. I just feel it would be very awkward working with her, giving the feelings I still have for her.”

“I'm sure,” said Ezri confidently, “you will work things out in a professional manner. Of course if you still have problems say in a month's time, then we'll discuss this matter some more. But for now see how it goes, all right?”

“Yes captain,” said Max and he forced himself to smile, to show he was partial to Ezri’s advice.

The moment Ezri walked away, Max immediately proceeded to the chemistry lab’s storeroom. Once he was in there, he let his true emotions boil over. Without thinking the side of his fist slammed hard against a metal container. He wasn’t sure what he was annoyed about, perhaps it was because of the fact that this was so unexpected. Or maybe it was the sudden onrush of feelings that came bubbling to the surface.

With a horrible pang, Max realised he still loved Tanya, he had convinced himself that he had gotten over her, but he was wrong. He hoped and prayed that Tanya didn’t still love him, but she must surely love him, and if she did was she expecting him to act if they were lovers? Maybe what he had with Tanya was true love…

“Are you all right?” said Holo gently, who had silently entered the room. “You looked intensely flustered, even embarrassed when you were talking with Ezri.”

Max sat down on the container and stared at his hands, he was not sure if he wanted to talk about Tanya with Holo or not. “Ezri was talking about a new crew member who will be joining my staff, Tanya Dawson.”

“Do you know her?” said Holo, and he was being very cautious.

“Know her?” said Max sardonically. “The last three years in Starfleet Academy, we were in a relationship, and it was the best thing in the world.”

“But you decided to break it up,” said Holo slowly, “when it came to finding a post in Starfleet?”

Max looked at Holo in a rather pained manner. “Exactly, we were two young, bright somethings, with great potential and we both wanted careers. So we decided, after much pained debate, to end the relationship and go our separate ways. We also vowed never to contact each other again, lest we get tempted and try to restart our relationship.”

“I don't get it,” said Holo, looking deeply confused. “If you both loved each other so much, why did you end the relationship? Surely you could have maintained it when you were assigned to your posts?”

Once more Max closed his eyes, as a new wave of regret hit him. “It's something I still regret,” he said heavily, “but we just figured that our romance and our careers would clash horribly.”

“And now that Tanya is returning,” observed Holo, “you’re worried that you won't be able to keep it professional?”

“Something like that,” said Max sadly. “It has been eight years and I still love her, and still I haven't quite gotten over losing her.”

Holo sat down beside Max, and looked worriedly at his friend. “The way you talk, it sounds like Tanya arriving on this station is the end of the world! Come on lighten up, it sounds like you will fall in love again, and have the best of both worlds: your career and a woman you deeply love. If you ask me I'd say you struck the jackpot!”

“Have you ever been in love?” asked Max coldly.

“No I haven't,” admitted Holo.

“Well let me tell you something,” said Max, pointing his finger in the thin air to emphasise his point. “When two people are in love, sometimes weird emotions and feelings creep in. Fear, guilt, doubt, you name it, and right now I'm feeling all of those things. Women can drive you crazy, and right now I don't know what to do when Tanya arrives.”

“You want my advice?” said Holo seriously. “Be yourself and relax, the woman hasn't seen you in eight years, and besides what makes you think she still loves you?”

“I hadn't thought of that,” said Max, and he winced at how stupid he sounded.

“You humanoids,” said Holo sounding amused, “love blinds you to logic and reason.”

“Wait until you're in love,” retorted Max, “and don't deny it because your programming is capable of such emotions. Then you will know exactly what it feels like!”

At that moment Max slid off the container and left Holo, he didn’t even glance at Holo but he was convinced that Holo was looking very thoughtful. Surprisingly, Max felt much better after talking to Holo, and he was now convinced that Tanya didn’t love him, surely not after all this time…
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Old December 14 2011, 10:20 PM   #123
Ln X
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Thanks a lot Santaval! I know someone is reading this because with each chapter I post, this thread gets another 20-35 views. I don't care if no takes interest or there is no feedback, I'm still publishing these stories. On Ad Astra it's more different, I get a decent amount of feedback. I'm taking the line that by continually posting these stories, chapter by chapter, someone will eventually notice.

p.s. These are a series of stories.
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Old December 15 2011, 07:01 PM   #124
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Re: DS9: A continuation

The way Ezri and Julian reconciled was pretty interesting. A little abrupt--it felt like a 180-degree turn around; I'd probably have made the transition a bit more pronounced. Still, there are a lot of intriguing ideas behind their "past"--particularly the kid. While the direction I'd have taken them would certainly be very different...still, you have a good thing going here, overall.

I like the racquetball scene between them, too.
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Old December 15 2011, 10:22 PM   #125
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Re: DS9: A continuation

I admit it was abrupt but the two had that confrontation coming for a long time. But they have had seventeen years of avoiding each other, and they just got tired of the standoff. I felt happy when I wrote up their reconciliation scene. In later seasons I more thoroughly examine Ezri's and Bashir's 'past', and their child Sorin...

Glad you like the racquetball scene, that was fun to write!
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Old December 15 2011, 10:23 PM   #126
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 4, part 1

Day 3, 1400 hours

Mia had half-finished some reports due in later for the week, but after an hour or so of hard work her mind started to drift from the task. She couldn’t stop thinking about meditation and the Prophets. She still felt iffy about both those topics but she also knew that they were somehow the solution to the strange emptiness and incompleteness she had been feeling for the past few months.

When she heard the front door open, she heard Kira and a second person’s voice. She didn’t recognise this voice and feeling deeply curious, she left her bedroom and entered into the living room. There was Kira and a second Bajoran, who was quite tall and was wearing vedek’s robes.

“Mia,” said Kira, introducing the stranger. “This is vedek Talrik he wants to discuss with you certain spiritual matters.”

“Is it about having an orb experience?” asked Mia, her eyes were constantly on Talrik as he looked quite intimidating.

“Yes it is, I'll let you two talk in private. If that is all right with you Mia?”

“It is,” said Mia, as she overcame her intimidation of this giant of a vedek.

When Kira had left, Talrik walked over and held out his hand. “Hello there Mia,” he said kindly.

Such a gentle voice surprised Mia and she cautiously shook his hand. “Aren't you going to squeeze my ear?”

“Oh that...” said Talrik, and he laughed gently. “It is quite unpleasant isn't it?”

“It is awful,” agreed Mia, “it's like they're trying to pull off your ear lobe.”

“Most of my fellow vedeks, like to do their pagh pulling. It was vedek Bareil who was the first to abandon that rather irksome tradition, other vedeks have copied him...”

“Well that's nice to know,” said Mia approvingly.

She quickly remembered her manners and reminded herself that this was a vedek she was talking to. “Here sit down,” she said, gesturing to Talrik to do the same.

Talrik sat down on a wooden hardback chair, and made himself at home. “You know the last time I saw you, you were a new born baby.”

“I know,” said Mia in a weary voice, “my mother told me about the two weeks she spent in the Koma temple after she had given birth to me. She has always spoken highly of you.”

There was a tiny nod from Talrik as he registered this compliment. “It was a trying time for your mother, but she kept strong, and I think you know why.”

“Because she prayed to the Prophets non-stop wishing everything would get better?” asked Mia, wishing she could keep the doubt and disbelieve from her voice.

“A crude but rather precise answer,” said Talrik, and his eyes started boring into Mia’s as if he were scanning her. “Yes her faith kept her strong, but we're not here to talk about your mother's faith.”

“I don't have any faith in the Prophets,” said Mia, she decided to tell the truth to Talrik. “They're wormhole aliens, there's nothing mythical about them...”

Mia’s disrespectful words did not seem to perturb Talrik in the slightest, indeed he looked a little perplexed. “And yet you seek the Prophet's wisdom? Tell me why is that, if you consider the beings in the Celestial Temple to be mere 'wormhole aliens'?”

“Because over the last few months I haven't felt complete, my mum tells me it is because I need to meditate but I'm not so sure.”

“Have you tried meditating?” asked Talrik, there was an oddly shrewd look in his eyes.

“I've briefly tried all sorts of meditation, everything except Bajoran meditation. Nothing works, it doesn't calm me and it doesn't give me clarity either.”

“Why do you avoid Bajoran meditation?” said Talrik, his whole demeanour had become rather more serious.

It was a rather personal question, but Mia felt she could trust Talrik. There was something about him which she couldn’t put her finger on, though she could see why her mother so completely trusted Talrik. “Because you ask the Prophets to guide you, but I don't believe in the Prophets, so do you see my problem?”

“And now you think having an orb vision will make you believe in the Prophets?”

“Something like that,” said Mia confidently, she never felt so certain about anything, she knew she was right on this one.

Talrik paused as he thought about Mia’s words. “While what you are searching for is admirable, your way of attaining faith is a little questionable.”

“I need to consult the Prophets,” said Mia urgently. “Surely they can guide me?”

A pitiful look came upon Talrik’s face, and Mia inwardly kicked herself by how crudely she had presented her request.

“Having an orb vision doesn't give you faith, faith comes from within. And even if the Prophets guided you, the questions to your answers also lies within you.”

“But I don't even know what questions to ask!” said Mia desperately, and she decided to be completely open about her intentions. “Please, this isn't just some request to vainly satisfy my curiosity! I think I'm the sort of person who will only believe in something when it is staring me right in the face! All I want is clarity, some form of closure, because this feeling of incompleteness is starting to really bother me!”

These words seemed to sway Talrik, and he seemed more convinced about Mia’s intentions. “I won't stop a person from seeking the truth, but I should warn you that what you find out maybe disconcerting and rather uncomfortable.”

“I don't care,” said Mia loudly, and she stared determinedly into Talrik’s eyes. “I want to know, I have to know!”

There was a long pause as Talrik considered this, his eyes were looking downwards staring at his clasped hands. “Very well then, I'll talk to your mother about arranging a trip to the Koma Temple for you.”

“You mean I'm allowed to view the orb?” inquired Mia, she wondered if she had heard this correctly.

“Yes,” said Talrik and he smiled at her. “And may your experience bring you the clarity you seek.”

“That’s great,” said Mia cheerfully. “Thank you vedek for allowing me to consult the orb of Prophecy and Change.”

“With that matter out of the way, I’ll see you tomorrow at 1500 hours at docking ring four. Now if you don’t mind I need to talk with your mother in private.”

“Of course,” said Mia, and she bowed her slightly in respect.

She felt excited about consulting this orb, even if it didn’t give her any answers, the experience alone would have been worth it. When Talrik had left the living room and Mia was all alone, she raised her fists to her chest and grinned in a victorious manner. For all that time she had been worrying about talking to vedek Talrik, but talking to him seemed no different to talking to any other person. More importantly she had got what she wanted…


***


Day 3, 1700 hours

After the end of her shift, Megan walked with Max to the Replimat. When she and Max came to the Replimat, and as they navigated through the tightly clustered chairs and tables, Megan spotted her mother sitting all alone at a table.

“Mother,” exclaimed Megan, “I didn't expect to see you here!”

Sarah smiled at the surprised look on Megan's face. “I just thought I'd stretch my legs and explore the Promenade…”

There was a pause and Sarah looked at Megan as if to prompt her to do something. “Aren't you going to introduce me to your colleague?”

“Of course,” said Megan distractedly, embarrassed by the fact that her mother had to subtly remind her of her manners. “This is Max Weatherby, this station's chief of science.”

Sarah stood up and walked over to Max. “So you're the person my daughter speaks so fondly of.”

She shook Max’s hand. “Pleased to meet you,” she said warmly.

“The same,” said Max politely, he seemed to be warming up to Sarah immediately.

“I trust,” said Sarah proudly, “you are putting my daughter's talents to good use?”

Max nodded enthusiastically. “She's an invaluable member of my staff, thanks to her hard work DS9 now has a proper astronomy department.”

“That's good to hear,” said Sarah sounding satisfied, “but I still think Megan could push herself just a little more. I mean she does outrank you, with a little effort she could become chief of science.”

“Mum don't be ridiculous,” said Megan sharply. “I'm happy with my job, and even if I wanted to it would be hard to get a promotion on this station.”

“It's just a hint,” said Sarah slyly, poking fun at Megan. “Incidentally are you two having tea in the Replimat?”

“We were,” said Max, “unless you can think of anywhere else to go?”

“How about I make tea for both yourself and Megan?” asked Sarah confidently as if Max was actually her son. “You can try my home-made pasta with tomato sauce, with a side dish of soya bean stew.”

“Mum,” protested Megan, “Max isn't a vegetarian!”

“Trust me you'll love it,” said Sarah, ignoring her daughter’s objection. “And the soya bean stew tastes so meaty you won't notice the difference.”

“Sounds good,” said Max. “What do you think Megan?”

“Fine,” said Megan with a sigh. “My mum can feed us tonight.”

After that the three left the Replimat, and Megan still could not believe the audacity and confidence that her mother showed. What her mother was really doing was using the dinner as an opportunity to get to know Max, and work out just how suitable he was as Megan’s friend.

Megan was surprised by how well Max instantly got on with her mother, however her mother was a friendly person by nature. It was probably her directness and no-nonsense approach to conversation, so that the people she talked to knew exactly where they stood. One thing was for certain, this would be an interesting evening for Megan, and she would probably find out a few things about Max. Her mother had the habit of asking some very direct questions at times.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old December 15 2011, 10:23 PM   #127
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 4, part 2

Megan waited in silence at the table, as Sarah was laying out the dishes. It had been over ten years since she had had her mother’s cooking, and she was looking forward to this meal....

When Sarah had placed upon the table the bowl of soya stew, Max looked at it rather apprehensively. “The pasta looks delicious, but er... what is that brown stuff in that bowl?”

“Soya stew,” said Sarah, and she dipped her little finger into and placed to her mouth, sucking it. “Not bad for replicated ingredients… Try it, you'll be pleasantly surprised.”

Cautiously Max dipped a spoon into the bowl, bringing the spoon back up, he slowly placed it into his mouth. Removing the spoon he tentatively chewed the stew, almost at once he looked pleasantly surprised. “Mmm! Woah! That is quite tasty!”

“What did I tell you,” said Sarah cheerfully.

Megan couldn’t help but smile at how much her mother took pride in cooking. For a few minutes the three sat there and ate, though Megan waited for Sarah to start conversing with Max.

“So tell me Max,” said Sarah, as she scooped up pasta into her spoon. “How do you find life on this station, giving it is so far from Earth?”

Max quickly swallowed his mouthful before responding. “It's been good, and living here is very stimulating, what with the mix of alien races, the close proximity of the wormhole and a very interesting job.”

“How did you come to be on this station?”

Disregarding the spoon, Max thought about Sarah’s question. “Well two years ago, DS9 was short of a chief of science officer, it was a highly sort after post. So Starfleet picked one person from about fifty potential candidates, and by some luck I was chosen.”

Sarah’s eyebrows rose in apparent surprise by Max’s answer. “Was there anything special about you, something that distinguished you from the other candidates?”

“I guess it didn't come down to talent, and more about my command skills. I was good at managing people and the various science departments in my previous posting on the starship Jericho.”

At that moment Megan felt quite engaged with the conversation between Sarah and Max, she was now finding out things she didn’t know about Max. Things that Megan hadn't bothered to ask about in any great detail.

“I see what your getting at,” said Sarah. “From what Megan told me, Starfleet values officers who are of good command material. It goes a long way towards promotion or getting the assignment of your choice. I don't suppose you want to push your career any further?”

“Not really,” said Max, he sounded totally at ease with talking to Sarah. “I'm happy with where I'm at with my career, and to be totally honest I'm thinking about family and marriage.”

For a moment Megan felt that Sarah was staring at her, perhaps it was because Sarah detected that Megan was covertly eyeing Max up.

“Are you in a relationship with anyone?” asked Sarah, changing the topic much to Megan’s suspicion.

“Nah...” said Max with a shrug of his shoulders. “I think I'm just waiting for the right woman.”

Sarah nodded slightly, and there was an understanding look on her face. “What about your family, do you keep in touch?”

“My parents are dead,” said Max a touch sadly, “and I'm estranged with my brother, there's really nothing more to say.”

“I'm sorry to hear that...”

For all this time Sarah had been asking the questions, now though it was Max’s turn. “If you don't mind me asking, I was wondering who Megan's father was? It's just Megan doesn't really mention anything about her father, and it's just something I've been wondering about...”

Megan flicked her eyes to her mum, she wondered if her mother was really going to answer Max’s question, giving that she had only talked to Max for less than ten minutes.

Sarah paused, and put a napkin to her mouth before responding, she did look a little uncomfortable. “Oh... well I asked about your family, and it seems only fair to answer your question. Well suffice to say when I was younger I was a bit of a party animal, and I met this human man, and we just sort of hit it off if you know what I mean. I was young, stupid and immature, so anyway we were in a relationship for a couple of months, whirlwind romance and all, when I got pregnant…”

Sarah smiled at the surprise on Max’s face. “At the time I thought he would be happy, but he wasn't, he didn't want the responsibility. Anyway long story cut short, we broke up, I learnt the hard way about mixing love with lust. With a baby coming, I matured rapidly, because of the responsibility of raising a child. I think having Megan was the best thing that ever happened to me, as it transformed me into a responsible and mature adult.”

Now Sarah looked at Megan and gave her a fond smile of gratitude…

Max though still looked taken aback by Sarah's openness. “Your very open about your past life...”

“I have nothing to hide,” said Sarah confidently. “I was an idiot back then, and I won't deny it.”

Megan could sense that Max was rapidly gaining trust in her mother, and Megan wondered just how much Max would open up to Sarah.

Indeed Max was so engrossed by the conversation that he had disregarded his tea. “You know I wish my brother was as open as you, and would readily admit his mistakes.”

“Are you in touch with your brother?” asked Sarah.

“We haven't spoken in thirteen years, not since he ran out of home, he's probably up to his eyeballs in organised crime.”

There was a brief silence after that depressing comment, though Sarah was looking at Max with genuine pity. “Well changing the topic a little, I was wondering how you made friends with my daughter?”

Max lightened up considerably. “Oh well that happened nearly eight months ago, and actually she was the one who befriended me.”

“Really?” said Sarah sounding unusually interested.

Megan sought to explain Max’s point before Sarah began jumping to conclusions. “I was lonely,” she pointed out, “and I just wanted someone to talk to.”

“Yeah,” said Max, “at first we did talk, and then I showed her a few holosuite programs, I tried to encourage Megan to have some fun.”

“And it looks like you succeeded,” said Sarah gratefully. “Ever since Megan met you, she's been happier for it.”

Max lapped up Sarah's admiration, and puffed his chest out proudly. “It makes me happy to have a good friend, because she was probably one of the first people I really got to know on this station. You wouldn't believe this but for the first year on this station, I wasn't exactly the most sociable type. Thanks to Megan I've just found it easier to talk to everyone else, and I've made some more friends.”

Sarah’s eyes were twinkling and she seemed to be really enjoying her conversation with Max. “That's funny, because when Megan was younger I wouldn't have imagined her to be a sociable type.”

“Really?” said Max, his eyebrows were raised up considerably.

“Oh yes,” said Sarah, “she was obsessed with mathematics and physics, sometimes I had to force her to go out of the home and explore the outside world... Because there is more much to life than just academia and work...”

Megan wondered if Sarah wasn’t giving to her a subtle hint. As the conversation continued on, Megan occasionally chipped in, but it was really Max and Sarah doing all the talking.

This was good because it allowed Megan to think about just how much Sarah suspected what her daughter's feelings for Max were. Megan had the awful sinking feeling that Sarah had already worked out, thanks to the conversation, that her daughter was in love with Max. Perhaps it was the way she stared at Max, though Megan was convinced she wasn’t looking at Max in a slobbering way and that she had kept her true emotions well hidden…


***


Day 3, 2030 hours

After dinner with her mother, Megan walked slowly down a corridor with Max. The dinner had been enjoyable of sorts, though Megan was more interested in what Max thought about the whole experience. Max looked thoughtful but he had remained so far silent on the matter.

“Your mother is an interesting women,” said Max, speaking up after a lengthy silence. “Intelligent, wise and surprisingly open.”

“True,” agreed Megan, “but she has a habit of embarrassing me in front of others.”

“It's just a little friendly fun...” said Max jovially.

“I know,” admitted Megan. “She tells me it is a parental duty to mock one's children.”

There was a moment’s consternation on Max’s face and it seemed he was holding back from asking a question. “Um... talking about your father, I just wondered if he ever contacted you or your mother?”

“Not once,” said Megan uncaringly, as she had no feelings on the subject of her father. “But to be honest it doesn't really matter. All I had was my mother, and that was all I needed, I was six when mum told me the truth.”

“Were you angry about it?” asked Max, sounding as delicate as possible as he broached the subject.

“Not really,” said Megan with a shrug. “I loved by mother so much I couldn't imagine having someone else in my life. We did have such good times on Earth...”

She broke off from talking when she noticed a rather forlorn expression on Max's face. “Something wrong?”

Max sighed in a prolonged manner. “Lieutenant Tanya Dawson will be arriving tomorrow to join the research team, I explained to you last night about my relationship with her.”

Megan did her best to look understanding. “And now that she is coming here, you feel really awkward about the whole matter?”

“It's...”

Max paused, and he smiled at Megan in an apologetic manner. “Never mind it's not something I want to discuss, not even with you, for it is quite personal.”

Never in all the time that Megan had known Max, had Max not disclosed to her personal information about himself. Megan could only deduce that this relationship had gone horribly pear-shaped. “How long is Tanya staying on the station?”

“It's a proper transfer,” said Max and he sounded even more gloomy. “So she's going to be staying for quite some time on the station, and we have a lot to discuss...”

“A lot of personal matters I gather?” inquired Megan, as she tried to wheedle something from Max about this relationship of his.

Max smiled briefly, clearly he wasn’t fooled for a second by Megan’s innocent question. “Something like that... I'll see you tomorrow, hopefully we'll make some progress with the armour problem.”

“Yeah goodnight.”

Megan remained stationary at the T-corridor intersection and watched Max go. She felt troubled because she wondered if Max still loved Tanya, and if Tanya still loved Max. She hoped not because she wasn’t sure how she would feel if there was another woman on this station who loved Max the way she did…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old December 16 2011, 10:41 PM   #128
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 5

Day 4, 1400 hours

Max was walking over to the electron microscope when he spotted Tanya entering the room. He could have walked over to her but he didn’t, instead he pretended to be adjusting something on the microscope.

“Lieutenant Tanya Dawson reporting for duty sir,” said a voice laced with formality.

Turning around Max looked at Tanya, and she took his breathe away. She hadn’t even aged, her face retained that youthful look but now she had the appearance of a full grown woman. Tanya had been twenty when Max had last spoken to her, and at that time a few vestiges of child-like looks still remained.

Now those features were gone, and this only added to her prettiness. The blue eyes, thin face, curved in nose were all very appealing to Max. She looked just as trim as she did eight years ago, though Max thought that her bust was a little bigger and her hips a little wider.

“At ease lieutenant,” he said after a moment’s hesitation. “And I think you can drop the formality.”

He regretted saying that because Tanya then hugged Max, this surprised him but he returned the hug nonetheless. Some of the workers were smirking to each other, but Max couldn’t care less what they thought, he and Tanya had been very close and, up to a point, he wasn’t afraid to show this.

When Tanya broke off the hug and she looked fondly into Max’s eyes. “Gosh we haven't seen each other for eight years, I really wasn't expecting this.”

“Neither was I...” admitted Max. He then felt that he had indulged his personal desires for too long, and he switched immediately into a professional manner. “I assume you have read the reports I sent to you on the armour problem?”

“I have,” said Tanya.

“Good then you can get working right away with Ms Felpes, our head of astronomy, you can help her modify the laser frequency generator. I'll introduce you to Ms Felpes...”

Max walked over to where Megan was working, while Tanya followed from behind. In this moment of silence Max used it to think, and the first thought that came to his head was just how attractive Tanya was. Tanya was the only woman Max had ever had a relationship with, and all those years ago he had the fortune of being the guy that Tanya fancied. Maybe it was because he had never tried to impress her, unlike all the other male candidates in his class.

He just wanted to be friendly with her, with no ulterior motives, but he got rewarded with more than friendship… Before Max knew it, he had arrived at where Megan was working. He mentally shook himself and forced himself to keep his professional manner intact.

“Megan this is Tanya Dawson,” he said introducing Tanya with a wave of his hand. “The woman I was talking about when we had dinner with your mum.”

“A pleasure to meet you,” said Tanya a little tensely.

“The same to you,” said Megan putting on a smile.

Both women’s reactions surprised Max, he could understand why Tanya had misread his remark about having dinner with Megan and her mother. But he could not understand Megan’s cold reaction towards Tanya… “I'll let Megan fill you in on the details, if you need anything just ask me.”

“There is one thing...” said Tanya, gazing at Max. “After my shift we need to talk and I think you know what I'm getting at.”

“I was expecting that,” said Max heavily. “Very well we'll go to the Replimat at 1730 hours, to talk about things.”

Max left the two women, and he hoped that they would get over any initial animosity they had for each other. It still perplexed Max why Megan had been so icy towards Tanya, maybe he was missing something big… Or maybe Megan thought her friendship would be put on the back burner, if Max commenced his relationship with Tanya. If Megan thought that then Max was determined to set things straight…


***


Day 4, 1730 hours

Max walked with Tanya as the two moved aimlessly and slowly along the Promenade.

“Well this is certainly a surprise,” said Tanya pleasantly, “meeting you on this station.”

“And to think,” said Max ironically, “I would never see you again, what was it? Eight years since we last saw each other?”

“It hasn't been the same without you,” said Tanya sounding a little sad.

“I've missed you to,” said Max heavily, “but we made our decision eight years ago to pursue our careers.”

“I wish I hadn't,” replied Tanya miserably.

“Don't say that,” said Max sharply, he felt as if an arrow had gone straight through his heart and soul.

He came to when he noticed that they were standing just outside of the Replimat. Instinctively he entered the Replimat just to get a beverage, talking to Tanya made his throat unbelievably dry. Tanya followed Max without question, it was like she knew him off the back of her hand, despite the eights years of separation.

“Water zero degrees,” said Max to the replicator.

“I see your aversion to tea and coffee hasn't gone away,” commented Tanya, and she gave Max a humorous smile.

“Are you hungry?” asked Max, as usual being the perfect gentlemen.

“Not really,” said Tanya, her eyes fixed upon Max’s face. “I feel like talking.”

Max nodded slightly as he was not expecting anything else, since they had to talk about some rather thorny matters. He took the glass of water out of the replicator tray, and he sat down at the table, and took sips of refreshingly cool water.

Tanya was looking at Max, and she was trying to glean his emotions and feelings. “You don't seem pleased to see me,” she said, there was something slightly icy in Tanya’s voice.

“Well I am,” said Max and he pulled a face. “But well... I don't how to put this, it complicates things.”

“How so?” said Tanya, her eyes were like razors penetrating straight through Max.

“You still love me don't you?” asked Max.

“I do,” said Tanya fondly, and she positively glowed.

Tanya’s happiness was Max’s misery. “I was afraid you were going to say that,” he replied wearily.

“What's wrong with me loving you?” asked Tanya, looking slightly hurt. “I mean you still love me right?”

“Yes,” said Max slowly, “but I can just see what is going to happen, it's so obvious…”

He proceeded to explain in a rather ironic voice. “In three days time we'll be the best of friends sharing stories of the last eight years. In four days you'll ask me out for dinner. We have dinner, you wear something nice and I can't take my eyes off you. After dinner we'll go to your quarters, you'll say you want to talk, but we don't feel like talking.

“In a matter of seconds we then leap at each other like rodents, and make the best love in a long time. Late in the night after all the romance and passion, we lay in bed reminiscing about the past, wondering what could have been, while at the same time looking forward to the future...”

“You make it sound like a bad thing,” said Tanya hurtfully.

“Maybe it is,” said Max sincerely, “maybe all of this is happening too quickly. I think we need to get to know each other before we make any moves...”

This didn’t go down to well with Tanya. “But we do know each other!” she exclaimed, looking at Max as if he were crazy.

Max sought to clarify the rather insensitive point he had made. “What I'm trying to say is, let's keep it professional, let's just be friends, it's safer.”

“But we're more than friends,” said Tanya, looking at Max in a perplexed way. “We're lovers!”

Those words made Max literally wince, because it made it so much harder for him to resist Tanya’s charm. “Don't say that!” he said fiercely. “This is a shock to me you arriving here, and I need you to promise me that you'll keep it strictly professional between the two of us?”

“I promise,” said Tanya quietly, though she struggled to look at Max squarely in the eyes. “Anything to make you comfortable, but are you absolutely certain about this?”

Overwhelming relief made Max relax instantly. “I am trust me, maybe some time down the road we can think about taking our friendship to the next level, but I'm in no hurry.”

“All right then,” replied Tanya, and she looked a little forlorn.

For one instance Max thought he had made a mistake, it was so clear that Tanya wanted him not as a friend but as a lover. But he needed the time to adjust to Tanya’s presence. With the issue of their relationship out of the way, Max could finally ask Tanya what she had done during those last eight years…

It was one blissful hour of conversation with Tanya, and Max felt far more comfortable talking to Tanya as a friend than as a lover…


***


Day 4, 1800 hours

With each step inside the Koma Temple, Mia felt just a little more nervous. She had no idea at all what she was going to face when she encountered the Orb of Prophecy and Change. She had spent the last day looking up on everything she could find about orb experiences. There was all sorts of conflicting information and Mia could only deduce that every orb experience was unique to that person.

When Talrik opened the doors to the chamber containing the orb, Mia’s heart leapt to her mouth. She seriously considered backing out from here, this was an orb she was dealing with. This was not a science problem, this orb was probably beyond the realm of science.

However she found the strength to proceed with her spiritual quest, and she walked to the back of the chamber. Not once did her eyes look away from the box containing the orb. Once she was a metre from the box she stopped. “What do I do?” she asked, failing to keep the nervousness out of her voice.

“You simply stand there and look into the orb,” said Talrik simply.

“How will I know that I'm having an orb vision?”

“Trust me you will know,” said Talrik in those mystic tones of his. “Are you ready?”

Mia nodded and stared fixedly at the box. “I am,” she finally said.

Talrik opened the box, revealing the orb, and quietly backed away.

Mia stared into the orb, and despite her fear, she could not help but admire its beauty. Suddenly there was a flash and it seemed to envelope her. She shut her eyes blinded by the light, when she opened them she was in her quarters. They were definitely her quarters, but there was something alien to them.

She suddenly froze when she spotted her mother staring at her. It was frightening to see her mother, who was not only standing, but staring with such an alien expression.

“Mum is that you?” said Mia in a constricted voice.

“You are wasting your time,” said the Kira Prophet, “you will not find answers here.”

“What do you mean?” asked Mia, she felt totally confused.

“You believe everything can be explained...”

“Are you talking about science?” inquired Mia, trying to inject some sense into this conversation. “Well yeah of course everything can be explained, it just takes time working out how the universe works!”

“What a flawed assumption,” said the Kira Prophet with considerable disdain. “How does it explain your conundrum?”

“I don't understand?” said Mia weakly.

The quarters changed into the classroom that belonged to the school in DS9. Standing by the display was Mia’s former teacher. Again the teacher Prophet was looking at Mia in an equally alien way.

“You seek answers,” said the teacher Prophet, “and yet you want clarity... This is a contradiction.”

“That doesn't make any sense,” said Mia disbelievingly, she was starting to wonder if these Prophets were mentally unhinged. They made such ridiculous statements…

“It's hopeless,” said the Kira Prophet, “the unfaithful never understand, they ask questions even though the answer is staring them in the face.”

“What answer?” said Mia desperately, she felt like all of her knowledge did nothing to help her explain herself to these Prophets. “How can I understand what I can't even comprehend? Is that it, have I for all these years missed something, something big?”

“How little she knows herself...” said the teacher Prophet.

The Kira Prophet advanced upon Mia, before slowly circling around her. “Her faith is lacking, and it is slowly destroying her, and yet still she doesn't know.”

“That's why I came to you,” said Mia imploringly, “because I realised something was wrong inside of me, but I don't know how to sort out this problem!”

She suddenly turned to her right when she caught a glimpse of her father. But it was so obviously not her father, his eyes had never looked so strange to Mia.

The Odo Prophet was analysing Mia as if she were an interesting specimen. “You want to know what faith is, don't you?”

“Yes,” said Mia sounding relieved, she was finally getting her point over to these Prophets. “If I know what faith is, then maybe I can fathom why Bajorans believe in you.”

“And there lies the contradiction...” said the teacher Prophet rather sternly.

There was a horrible leering expression on the Kira Prophet’s face. “She thinks it is a science problem with an elegant solution.”

“Isn't it?” said Mia with absolute conviction.

The Odo Prophet was looking at her in a way that seemed to penetrate Mia’s inner being. “The path you walk is a dangerous one, doubly so as you cannot foresee the dangers or have the strength to endure the coming tests and trials.”

This sounded like a threat to Mia, and Prophet or not, she did not like people who made threats to her. She tried to put in as much scorn and ridicule as possible into her voice. “So you're trying to say if I don't have faith I'm going to come to a sticky end?”

The surroundings changed again and Mia was in the middle of a battle. Tall skyscrapers towered over her, and fires and explosions were all around her. The streets were lined with debris, craters and dead bodies. Something seemed to make her head look down at the crater closest to her feet. There lying inside the crater was an older looking version of herself.

Her older self was clearly dead, with cuts and shrapnel all over her body. The older Mia’s clothes were soaked with blood, and her face was in a silent scream. It seemed this Mia had died in agony.

What really disturbed Mia was the frozen pain and despair in her older self’s eyes. This was to much for Mia to bare, and she placed her hands to her mouth, forcing herself not to cry. Finally Mia managed to steady herself by telling her that this was all in her head, it could not have happened, she could not have died like this.

“Do I die in the near future?” asked Mia, looking at the Kira and Odo Prophets in a desperate manner.

“That remains to be seen,” said the Kira Prophet sounding as mysterious as ever. “But there is more than one meaning of death.”

“No there isn't,” said Mia, she had to explain this to the Prophets. “Once you're dead that's it, you are gone, there is no more existence, there's nothing.”

The Odo Prophet was watching Mia in a strange manner, from the corner of her eye Mia thought the Prophet seemed almost curious.

“You don't have to die to be dead,” said the Odo Prophet.

Mia torn her gaze away from her older self’s dead body. “I don't understand,” she said, for what seemed like the nth time.

“The Bajorans believe in their paghs,” explained the Odo Prophet, “they believe the pagh is the essence of their existence, and faith the essence of their pagh.”

“So are you saying all those without faith are misguided, evil?”

“They are lost,” replied the Kira Prophet, “forever searching in the realm of oblivion and doubt.”

It took some moments for Mia to think about this before she realised what the Prophets were getting at. “Now that you say that I never have felt truly right, I couldn't explain it, but...”

In all her confusion and bewilderment, a powerful understanding began to rapidly wash over her. “There is no answer,” she said in a voice as alien as the Prophets. “Except one, which is faith.”

She laughed out loud as she couldn’t believe how clear-headed she felt. “All this time I thought faith wasn't really the answer, and it had to be something else. But it was the other way around.”

The Odo Prophet nodded once, there was some sort of twinkle in his eyes, as Mia came to realise the truth. “We do not make it hard for corporeal beings to understand, it is the corporeal beings who make it hard for themselves.”

Now the strange dialogue of the Prophets made perfect sense to Mia, more sense than even the simplest scientific concepts. “It's not so much about faith, it is about understanding oneself?”

The Kira Prophet looked at Mia in an apprising manner. “Now that you have realised this, you have taken your first step to reaching the clarity you crave for.”

“But?” said Mia, sensing that there was far much more for her to do.

The Odo Prophet turned his head to look at Mia, it was the gaze of a god. “We can only show you what you have to do, it is up to you to reach your goal...”

Mia was going to ask another question, and indeed the words had barely formed in her mouth when the vision abruptly ended. She was back in the Koma Temple, or had she actually left it? For a moment she had come so close to understanding everything, now all she had was a string of very weird memories. Whatever clarity she had was gone, now she felt very strange, everything didn’t seem the same.

Talrik gently closed the box, and smiled at the bewilderment on Mia’s face. “I take it the orb experience wasn't anything like you imagined?”

“You could say that,” said Mia slowly. “But I need to think about everything that has happened, it is very weird.”

She expected Talrik to offer suggestions on how to deal with this but Talrik remained silent. For this Mia was grateful because she didn’t want anyone prying into what had happened to her during the orb experience. For all the wrong reasons she had been right about coming to the Koma Temple and consulting the Orb of Prophecy and Change. But it had changed her and given her answers, now she needed time to sift through the wealth of information which the orb experience had bestowed upon her…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old December 17 2011, 11:30 PM   #129
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 6

Day 5, 1900 hours

Max relaxed back into his chair as he worked from his quarters. He was reviewing a padd, scouring through the entire Federation database on compound structures, looking for something… What he was looking for he did not know because his mind was not on his work. He was certain that a new molecular structure for adamantium was the answer, but he was still missing something.

Despite his best efforts to relax he couldn’t because Tanya was in the room with him, and there was a tension of sorts between the two. Max wished he had not been so hasty in making the decision to work with Tanya on the problem in the privacy of his quarters. Unfortunately it had been a spur of the moment thing, as at the time the two thought they had made a breakthrough.

“It's hopeless...” said Tanya chucking her pad onto the sofa. She stood up and paced around, her hands on her hips, she looked deeply thoughtful and troubled.

“What increasing the tensile strength?” asked Max rather lazily, his mind was off the ball at the moment.

“No it's not that,” said Tanya frowning. “I can't concentrate.”

Something like dread exploded into the pit of Max’s stomach, it was a subtle chat up line, and Max had to do something before he lost control, before he lost all reason and kissed Tanya full in the mouth…

Concentrate! thought Max furiously. “Maybe we should call it a night,” he suggested, “and get some rest.”

“I don't feel like sleeping,” said Tanya simply, and she started staring at Max.

Max knew that stare, and he didn’t like it, he had to diffuse the romantic mood. “Perhaps tomorrow we'll solve this problem, a good night's sleep might just do the trick. I'll see you tomorrow in the chemistry lab.”

Tanya though walked closer to Max, there was a determination in her eyes, a very powerful zeal. “I am not leaving this room,” she said firmly. “Not until we resolve our feelings for each another.”

As Tanya came ever closer, Max stood up to confront Tanya’s advance. “Listen,” he said nervously, “it has been a long day, we're both tired-”

“Why do you keep avoiding the subject of our former relationship?” said Tanya angrily. “We both still love each other right?”

Max stared back coldly into Tanya’s eyes, he hoped his reluctance would put Tanya off. “We made an agreement to keep it professional.”

Tanya laughed out in a bitter manner. “We made an agreement to pretend we don't love each other, and I cannot keep maintaining this charade!”

“We should be friends,” said Max imploringly, “we shouldn't rush this!”

“Ever since I've come here you've been uncomfortable in my presence. Why is that?” She looked at Max desperately. “It's like your hiding from something.”

“I do feel uncomfortable around you,” admitted Max, “because you simply expect our relationship to continue as if nothing ever happened!”

“You're worried aren't you?” said Tanya, a ghost of a laugh was etched upon her face. “Tell me have you been seeing someone else since we split up?”

“What's that got to do with anything?” demanded Max rather irately.

“Just answer my question,” said Tanya forcibly. “Yes or no?”

“No,” said Max, and he stared straight into those big, warm and inviting blue eyes. “It has been quite lonely in that department of my life, I haven't found anyone who could compare to you.”

“Eight years may have passed,” replied Tanya gently, “and our lives have changed, but not our love for each other. This is what you really wanted isn't it?”

“I suppose so,” said Max rigidly, he felt suddenly nervous again as Tanya was moving towards him. “But let's get our bearings first.”

Tanya though wasn’t heeding Max’s words, and in playful like manner she pushed Max back onto his chair, before sitting on top of him.

Max’s heart was beating wildly, and he felt terrified, everything was shutting down and he had to do something to prevent this. When Tanya placed her hands against each side of Max’s head, and moved her head forwards to kiss him, Max suddenly find the strength to stop her.

He tried to push her away but it was a feeble push, and Tanya’s lips were now brushing against his right cheek. “Listen,” said Max tensely, “we've been under some strain lately with the work…”

“Listen to me Tanya!” he said loudly, and he grabbed both of her hands and forced them away from his head.

Tanya looked hurt by Max’s resistance, though this was nothing to what Max was feeling. He was panicking, pure and simple. “It's to soon,” he said desperately. “I'm not ready for this, please you are scaring me!”

“Don't be scared,” said Tanya softly, and both her hands gently caressed Max's cheeks. “And stop fighting me!” she said in earnest.

Once again Tanya’s face was coming too close, and once again Max felt powerless. “But I just don't feel-”

Whatever words he said next were blocked when Tanya kissed him, it was a gentle kiss and Max resisted keeping his lips closed. However as Tanya kissed him, it brought back to him in full force all the good memories of their relationship and all those happy times. The relationship had given Max more happiness than he had realized, and now eight years later, that happiness could be his once more. Oh stuff it! he thought, and just go with the flow!

In an impassioned action, Max placed both his hands on Tanya’s back and pulled her in close. He started kissing her, and it was total bliss, he felt like he wasn’t on the station, not even in the galaxy, possibly not in the universe itself…

After a moment the two let go, and Max looked at the smile on Tanya’s face, her happiness was his happiness and it was a very elegant feedback loop. “Mmm...” said Max mock seriously. “I think I'll surrender.”

Tanya smile became a little more wider and she gently ran her hand along Max’s lips. “Just wait there,” she whispered, “I want to put on something more appropriate for the occasion.”

Max let Tanya leave without objection, he simply slouched into the chair, grinning stupidly. He felt so unbelievably, ridiculously happy…


***


Day 5, 1915 hours

After her shift, Megan made her way to Sarah’s quarters. Ever since Sarah had arrived on DS9, Megan always visited her mother after work. When Megan arrived in Sarah’s quarters, she noticed Sarah was at her usual seat reading from a padd.

“Your back a little late,” said Sarah, looking up from the padd.

“I just had some extra work to do, this project has been keeping me busy.”

“And it's tensing you up,” said Sarah, gazing concernedly at her daughter. “Look at you, you're all hunched up and brooding!”

“As I said it is a demanding project,” said Megan a little irately, she didn’t need her mother to remind her of the obvious.

Sarah though was on her feet, and she was staring inquisitively into Megan’s eyes. “Come on Megan, that's not the only thing on your mind.”

“What are you talking about?” said Megan a little defensively.

“I saw the way you were looking at Max two days ago during that dinner... You like him!”

“Don't be ridiculous,” said Megan, and she tried to laugh it off. “We're just good friends.”

“But you wish you were more than friends,” said Sarah shrewdly. “Come on you may be fooling Max, but not me! You're in love with him, admit it!”

Megan realized there was no point hiding this fact from her mother anymore. Sarah had, as Megan suspected, worked out that her daughter was in love with Max. “I suppose I am,” replied Megan and she put on a pained face. “But it's so stupid!”

“Why?”

Now Megan felt deeply uncomfortable, she didn’t really want to be discussing her love life with her mother. “After Jack, I didn't want intimacy with another man for years. I was put off men, because of what Jack and Bordak did to me. Then Max came into my life, and at first it was just a friendship. But then two months ago, I started to like him a lot more. I think caring for him when he was partially paralyzed made me bond closer with him. I wasn't expecting to fall in love with another man, I just can't understand it!”

“Have you told Max about your feelings for him?”

“I couldn't,” said Megan miserably, “he's shown no interest in me...”

Sarah though shook her head at Megan’s excuse. “Well maybe that's because you've shown no interest in him, you won't know until you tell him the truth!”

“It's not as simple as that!” argued Megan. “Tanya Dawson, his former girlfriend, is on the station. Maybe I would have told Max I love him, but I can't now, not with Tanya.”

Sarah rolled her eyes at Megan’s explanations. “Listen you can worry and pine away as much as you want, but you have to make your move. I know that sounds a tacky thing to say, but love doesn't wait around for long. Either you tell Max your true feelings, or you stop pining after him.”

“But what if he says no?” replied Megan, sounding mortified.

“He may say that,” admitted Sarah, “but at least you know, and then there is some closure to the whole matter. Ultimately it's better than constantly wondering what might have happened if you had told Max your true feelings.”

Her mother’s words had finally persuaded Megan into action. “Your right,” agreed Megan with total conviction, “it's time I stopped pussy footing around, and told Max the truth.”

“Where are you going to?” asked Sarah, when Megan began walking out of the quarters.

“To Max's quarters,” said Megan. “If I had the courage to withstand the horrors of a Cardassian prison camp, then I can go to Max's quarters and tell him I love him!”

“Good luck...” said Sarah.

Megan briefly held her hand up to show that she had heard this. When she left Sarah’s quarters she marched at a fast pace towards Max’s residence. This was it, she was going to tell Max she loved him, and no matter what happened this was the right thing to do…


***


Day 5, 1925 hours

Invigorated by her mother’s encouragement, Megan strode along the corridor with confidence. She was going to tell Max she loved him, and this time there would be no backing out. When she arrived at the entrance to Max’s quarters, she tapped the door chime. There was no response, she tapped it two more times but there was still no response.

This struck Megan as odd, but then maybe Max was engaged doing something or perhaps he was in the bathroom. She thought it would be best to wait and give Max the courtesy of him inviting her into to his quarters. However the impulsive part of her brain told her to go inside, and she figured Max would understand.

For some moments she hesitated, wondering what she should do. The seconds past by, and she bit her lip trying to come to a clear decision. Finally she decided to open the door uninvited, she checked the door and noticed it wasn’t locked, so she opened the door herself. As she did so she forced herself to ignore her nervousness.

She walked inside, brimming with confidence. “Max,” she said boldly, “we need to talk about something-”

She noticed Max sitting on a chair, and their lying on top of Max was Tanya.

Tanya was wearing a pretty brown dress, and her hands were on Max’s chest. The two were kissing with a passion, and for a brief second they weren’t aware of Megan’s presence.

Megan thought she would scream, seeing that woman kissing Max was to much to bare for her. She noticed Max’s shirt was missing, revealing his chest and abdomen. Pure horror and devastation coursed through Megan, she should have been the one kissing Max. But the anger soon turned to dread when she realized that she was going to have to explain herself.

By the time that Max and Tanya had registered the opening of the door, they then quickly broke off. Max was laughing softly in an awkward manner, while Tanya looked mortified at the intrusion and her cheeks went red with embarrassment.

Megan felt completely tongue tied. “I'm sorry,” she mumbled, “I... I didn't realize you two were... were...”

She couldn't get anymore words out, because she felt so ridiculous. Her brain had turned to cheese, and she couldn't think straight.

Tanya moved away from Max, and she simply stood there, arms folded. However the mortified look had quickly disappeared from Tanya's face and she was now staring impatiently at Megan.

Max sat up straighter in the chair, while pulling his t-shirt over his head. “What do you want to talk about?” he said, looking dazed and dopey.

“Oh er...” stuttered Megan, “it was just... just...”

“Just what?” said Tanya impatiently as she glared at Megan.

By some small miracle Megan managed to come up with a lame excuse for her arrival. “Oh I was just coming by to tell Max about an idea I had for increasing the tensile strength of the adamantium molecules…”

She stiffened, making her face mask like to ensure Tanya and Max couldn’t read her emotions. “But I'll come back tomorrow and talk to Max about it.”

“Yeah I think that’s best,” agreed Max, and he looked a little resentfully towards Megan. “Though maybe next time you should have waited for me to answer the door, just a little hint.”

Megan inwardly kicked herself, despite what she was feeling, she knew she shouldn’t have been so impulsive. “I'll sorry about the intrusion I didn’t realize you were with Tanya, I’m really sorry for what happened.”

“It’s partially my fault as well,” admitted Max. “I should have locked the door, but I forget because I was er… well I had things to do.”

“Of course,” said Megan, she was now wishing she had never entered Max’s quarters in the first place. “I’ll see you two tomorrow…”

With a last look at Max, Megan turned her back to him and walked out of the door. She was absolutely mortified, and her eyes became watery. It was bad enough seeing Max and Tanya kissing, but it was even worse that she simply barged in there. She had been so focused on what she was about to tell Max, that she had forgotten her manners and made a complete fool of herself. Now because of her tactlessness she had probably spoiled Max and Tanya’s whole evening.

The urge to cry out aloud became too much for Megan, and without thinking she walked at a fast pace to her quarters. When she arrived in her quarters, Megan stopped just when the door had closed and she stood their breathing deeply, not feeling, not even comprehending. She walked to her bedroom and was just about to lie down when she spotted the framed photo of herself and Max on a stand next to her bed.

She picked up the photo with shaking hands, she continued to look at it until she couldn’t stand seeing Max’s face. She felt so angry and humiliated, looking at Max's face seemed to amplify these emotions. With all the force she could muster, she chucked the photo against the wall. The frame made an ugly clunk against the metal wall, while the glass shattered, before both frame and shattered glass fell to the floor.

Now the tears came pouring out of Megan’s eyes, she huddled down, her back against the wardrobe and she just started sobbing. It was grief mixed with anger, and she didn’t know how to control it. This was probably one of her worst days since her time in the Tau Primia prison…

Authors note: Max and Tanya heard the door chime, but they presumed whoever it was would desist and go away. While Megan waited around making up her mind on what to do, at least half a minute had gone by. During that time Max and Tanya presumed (incorrectly) whoever had chimed the door had gone, and so they resumed their kissing.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old December 18 2011, 11:16 PM   #130
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 7

Day 5, 2130 hours

Sarah was worried from the moment there was no response from Megan. Three times Sarah had chimed the door to Megan’s quarters, and there was nothing except silence. So Sarah opened the door herself, and once inside she heard a faint sobbing sound. It was coming from the bedroom and Sarah stealthily approached the room.

When inside the bedroom, Sarah’s heart sank like a stone. There was her daughter sprawled over the bed, face down and sobbing her heart out. One equally ominous thing Sarah noticed was the smashed picture frame, the image looked upwards, and Sarah saw Megan and Max together, posing for the picture and silently laughing.

“I take it your meeting with Max didn't go to plan?” asked Sarah grimly.

“It's not fair...” said Megan tearfully, her voice half muffled as her face was buried in the pillow.

“I'm sorry he doesn't love you but-”

Sarah stopped when Megan suddenly convulsed, her daughter turned around on the bed and looked up at the ceiling.

“No it's not that!” said Megan angrily. “Max and Tanya are... are...”

“Together again?” finished Sarah sadly.

“Yes,” said Megan, and more tears come bursting from her eyes. “And I so nearly made a complete fool of myself! What was I thinking? How could Max ever love me?”

Sarah moved forwards and gently grabbed Megan’s shoulders, trying to comfort her morose daughter. “Megan I'm sorry-”

Megan though hit Sarah’s arms away and leapt off the bed. Her face was alive with anger and fury. “I don't need your sympathy!” she shouted. “I am so tired of things never working out for me!”

“Aren't you overreacting?” said Sarah, all the sympathy had gone from her voice. “For all intents and purposes, Max is simply a man, what else is he?”

A terribly anguished and pained expression contorted Megan’s face. “I should have told Max sooner,” she said bitterly. “It should have me sleeping with Max tonight, not her...”

“Isn't that a little selfish?” replied Sarah angrily. “The way you are talking about Max, it's as if he is the love of your life!”

“Well maybe he is!” said Megan with disturbing conviction.

At that point Sarah had had it with Megan’s emotions, this was more than grief, this was her grown-up daughter having a temper tantrum. “No no! This isn't about love, this is lust! And you need to put all of this into perspective, and grow up!”

“I don't need you lecturing me on whom I love!” roared Megan.

“You're being totally selfish,” shouted Sarah, “and you're not prepared to admit defeat! Max is in love with Tanya, he's happy, it's what he wants! That's love! It can be cruel, but there are plenty of other men out there, you have to move on and let the pain subside!”

“That's your advice?” said Megan nastily. “I just simply forgot about Max, just like that? Bullshit!”

Sarah ignored her daughter’s bad language, she was going to make her daughter grow up one way or another. “You know you are going to have to forget about him. Or else what? You're going to behave nastily towards Tanya, try to ruin her happiness?”

“I wouldn't do that!” exclaimed Megan, her face taut with indignation.

“Listen maybe your time in Tau Primia is affecting you more than you realise! Max rescued you from that place, so your bound to have an attraction to him, and I can understand you feel a connection. But maybe it's just a little to soon for romance, just because you love Max doesn't mean your ready for an intimate relationship with him!”

“You're right,” said Megan miserably, “you are always right.”

All the fight had gone from Megan, and she sat down on the bed looking totally despondent. “I guess I've been thinking a bit too much about Max, and maybe it has gone to my head, but I still love him.”

Sarah sat down as well, but she wasn’t angry towards Megan anymore, because now Megan was admitting her mistakes. Trying to comfort Megan, Sarah placed an arm around Megan's shoulders. “I know it's not fair, and that you've seen more than your fair share of bad luck and sorrow. But you would be even more upset and angry with yourself if you did anything stupid with Max or Tanya, and continued to try to pursue a relationship!”

“I guess Max is happy,” said Megan tremulously. “And... and I'm happy for him to.”

Also immediately after saying that, Megan put a hand to her mouth, and looked horrified. Megan started crying some more, however Sarah pulled Megan around and hugged her while her daughter sobbed. Instinctively Sarah knew that Megan wasn’t only upset about Max, that was simply a catalyst. It was also about all the terrible things Megan had suffered from in the Tau Primia prison.

“I'm sorry I was so hard on you back there,” said Sarah breathing into Megan’s ear. “But I didn't want you continuing to dwell upon Max. I care for you deeply, and I don't want to see you get unnecessarily hurt.”

“Don't worry,” said Megan in a broken voice, “I'll move on. It's just right now thinking about Max opens up other old wounds...”

“You'll get through it,” said Sarah in a soothing voice. “And don't forget you have suffered immensely, it is going to be a long and hard journey. But we'll take it together...”

Megan gripped onto her mother a little harder, and her sobbing lessened. “I don't know where I'd be without you looking out for me, I love you, I really do.”

“And I love you,” said Sarah softly, “you're a good girl, you always have been...”

Gently Sarah kissed the top of Megan’s head, it was something she would always do, whenever they shared an important moment like this one. Sarah also realised that her role as a mother was never really complete, and right now Megan was vulnerable and had been hurt badly by her unrequited love for Max.

It was a stupid thing, but Sarah knew from bitter experience, that adults could be more childlike than actual children. At the very least Megan had seen the error of her ways, she had learnt her lesson the hard way. Though not as hard as Sarah did thirty years ago when she wound up pregnant from one to many late-night flings…


***


Day 6, 0810 hours

It had been a horrible night for Megan, she had been plagued with hurt, despair, pain and loss. But the next morning she was determined to put all of that behind her. However this resolution of hers was about to be put to the test when she realised with a jolt that she had overslept. She should have been at her shift ten minutes ago!

Hurriedly she got herself organised, and twenty minutes later she arrived in the chemistry lab. She noticed a crowd of staff gathered around the display screen, and she could just make out Max and Tanya. The staff were shaking Max's and Tanya’s hands and talking animatedly about something.

Megan didn’t have a clue what was going on and she found Nog working alone, he didn’t seem that interested by the excited mood that had swept the room.

“What's going on?” asked Megan. “Why is everyone packing up?”

Nog looked up and grinned at Megan, clearly he was just as impressed with Max and Tanya as the other staff members were. “Max and Tanya found a breakthrough of sorts, they managed to rearrange the structure of adamantium increasing its tensile strength by five times and the melting point ten times higher. They said they came up with the idea some time early in the morning. Not only that when Starfleet gets wind of this, those two are going to be all over next week’s Cochrane journal.”

“That's good,” said Megan distractedly.

She moved on, not caring if Nog thought she was a little unenthusiastic about this. All she wanted to do was talk to Max alone, because there were some issues she had to discuss with him. Moving into the crowd, Megan finally managed to get close enough to talk to him. “You managed to solve the problem!” she said putting on her best ecstatic voice.

“Of sorts,” said Max modestly, “the tests show that the adamantium compound Tanya and I discovered can absorb most of the Romulan disruptor fire. So at least the disruptor beam won't go straight through a ship...”

He frowned slightly as he remembered something. “Oh yeah, last night you told me that you had an idea for increasing the tensile strength... I just was wondering what that idea of yours was?”

“It's nothing,” said Megan, lying through her teeth. “It wouldn't have worked anyway. Listen Max can I have a private talk with you?”

“All right,” said Max.

While Megan walked over, she couldn’t help but notice Tanya staring at her. She could understand Tanya’s suspicions but they were unwarranted. Once she and Max were in a secluded spot, she gathered her thoughts together as she considered what she was going to say to Max.

“What do you want to talk about?” asked Max.

Megan forced herself to think a little faster. “Well first of all I want to apologise for barging into your quarters last night. I just had this idea, and er… I was a little too excited by it that I forgot my manners. I’m really sorry I messed up your evening with Tanya.”

“Yeah that was annoying,” said Max a little irately. “But I know what you were going through, because I’ve had brainwaves and ideas before, and I’ve forgotten my manners.”

“So we’re still friends?” asked Megan a little nervously.

“It was just a slip-up on your part, I don’t think I can remember the last time you’ve done something to really annoy me.”

Megan was relieved that Max had forgiven her tactless behaviour of last night, but that relief quickly vanished as there were other pressing matters to talk about. “There’s one more thing I’d like to talk about, and that’s the dinners we were planning to have, I don't want to have them anymore.”

“Why not?” asked Max, and he looked a little hurt to hear this. “I found our dinners to be rather pleasant and engaging.”

Grimacing in frustration, Megan struggled to find the courage to explain herself. “Well my problem is that you're dating Tanya, it would be a bit odd if it was just you and me having dinner...”

“Nonsense!” exclaimed Max. “Tanya can come along with us, besides I really enjoy talking to you! It's good to have someone who can discuss really technical topics and subjects.”

“I'm serious Max,” said Megan firmly, “I don't want anymore of these dinners, even if Tanya was there it wouldn't feel right.”

“If you say so...” said Max slightly sadly.

There was a pause on his part as it seemed he to had something on his mind as well. “Listen there's something I've been meaning to ask you. Would you come to the holosuite with me and try out my skateboarding program?”

“Just me and you?” said Megan, and a small tremor came to her voice, had Max really got the gist of what she had said to him?

“Of course,” said Max, sounding as if this was the most ordinary thing in the universe. “Trust me you'll have fun trying to stay upright on a skateboard!”

There was a charm to Max that Megan just couldn’t resist, and inwardly she had surrendered to Max’s offer, despite her reservations. “Okay, I'll try out this skateboarding program of yours.”

“Good,” said Max enthusiastically, “be at my quarters around 1900 hours, and I'll pad you up.”

This sounded extremely rude to Megan. “Pardon me?” she said, trying to sound as polite as possible.

Max looked a little irritated that Megan was not following his lingo. “Safety pads; for your knees, elbows and wrists...”

“Oh right, yeah I'll be there.”

“Great,” said Max, beaming away. “You have no idea how much that cheers me up, mind you I'm feeling pretty high already what with starting up my relationship with Tanya, I haven't felt this happy in years!”

“That's nice...” said Megan with no conviction, she would rather take poison then try to sound really happy.

Max though seemed to completely misread Megan's tone of voice. “Ha! You always know what to say! Anyway see you tomorrow...”

The moment Max was not looking at Megan, her face reverted into misery. Why had she accepted his offer to skateboard? What she should have been doing was avoiding as much contact with Max as possible. Doing activities with Max would only make it harder for her to resist him. How was she going to tell Max that she needed her distance and some space from him without mentioning to Max that she loved him?
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old December 19 2011, 10:14 PM   #131
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 8

Day 7, 1000 hours

When Kira found out that the Bajoran transport ship, carrying Mia, had arrived, she moved to the living room waiting for Mia to come home. Mia had unexpectedly lengthened her stay in the Koma temple, and Kira could only deduce that this was because something profound had happened to Mia during the orb experience.

When Mia entered the room, the first thing Kira noticed was the rather odd expression on her daughter's face. “Did you find what you were looking for?”

“Sort of,” said Mia, she then proceeded to dump her bag on the sofa. “But right now I feel very weird, I just don't feel right.”

“That's understandable,” said Kira gently, “it happens to nearly everyone, including me when I had my first orb experience.”

Mia then looked at Kira in a strangely amused manner. “I do know one thing though, it looks like I have no choice but to meditate...”

“If you like you could meditate with me,” offered Kira.

There was a deep frown creasing Mia’s eyebrows. “I thought you had to be on your own when you meditate?”

“Not necessarily.”

Something was gnawing away at Mia, because she was standing and looking awkward.
“This may sound er... stupid, but how do you meditate?”

Kira smiled at Mia, she always respected anyone who was openly prepared to admit their ignorance and was willing to rectify it. “There are only two things you need to know. The first step is to be as quiet as possible, and the second step is to pummel the very depths of your consciousness. Everything you think, feel and remember, try to examine it. What matters is not so much what you examine but how truthfully you confront your personal problems. There is nothing worse than self-delusion and fooling oneself, but that of course is up to you.”

“I understand,” said Mia a little nervously.

“Don't be so nervous,” reassured Kira. “Follow me, we'll meditate in my bedroom.”

Once inside the bedroom, Kira sat there facing the metallic and circular shaped altar where she prayed and mediated.

Mia pulled over a chair and sat down facing the altar. “All right I'm ready.”

“Just close your eyes,” said Kira, “and breathe gently in a relaxed manner...”

Kira watched as Mia closed her eyes, she also listened intently on Mia’s breathing. It wasn’t to deep and neither to shallow, just right. In fact Kira was convinced that Mia looked the perfect picture of tranquillity, not bad for a beginner at meditation. “That's it,” said Kira soothingly, “good…”

There was no response from Mia, not even a twitch on her face. It seemed Mia was already deep in meditating and Kira was amazed to see this. She could tell that Mia was really meditating and was already burrowing into the depths of her own consciousness. Kira wondered if what Mia really needed was meditation all along, because her daughter was doing it so effortlessly.

With a smile, Kira focused on the altar before closing her own eyes and she began to meditate. Soon all external stimuli were blocked out and she was journeying to the very centre of her pagh, seeking to align it into equilibrium…


***


Day 7, 1840 hours

In his quarters, Max was doing some last minute checks of his skateboard and pads. He was looking forward to going to the holosuite with Megan to skateboard. He even had the replicator build a second skateboard just for her. Like him, Megan would be fully padded up as Max always ran his skateboarding program with the safety mechanisms off. It was more realistic that way, and it meant there were real physics and real consequences.

Spraining wrists or ankles, slamming hard onto your hip when the back trucks locked up on the halfpipe rail. The realism added to the fun of skateboarding in a holosuite. Max wondered how Megan would take to skateboarding, whenever he told other people about the sport they laughed him to near scorn. It was a typical reaction giving that these people thought it was ridiculous riding on a piece of wood, with trucks and wheels. But what did they know?

Max was placing his gear in a plastic bag, when the door chimed.

“Enter,” he said, while he finished packing his gear.

He turned around and saw Megan. “You're early Megan, I'll just get your-”

“I'm not coming to the holosuite,” she said sadly.

“Oh...” said Max, and he felt a huge pang of disappointment. “Why not?”

There was a rather pained look on Megan’s face as she sought to explain herself. “I just feel awkward going to a holosuite with you when you're in a relationship with Tanya.”

“Why you are concerned about that?” said Max disbelievingly. “Listen Tanya wouldn't mind, I mean it's not like you fancy me is it?”

There was a small pause on Megan’s part, and briefly she looked wretched but it happened so quickly Max couldn’t be certain of that.

“Of course not!” she said, looking repulsed by the very idea.

“Then I don't see what the problem is!” said Max in an amused voice.

However with Megan there did seem to be a problem, she look deeply preoccupied and half the time she wasn’t even looking at Max. “I just want to focus on my job and spend some more time alone... I just have some thinking to do.”

Max was growing more and more concerned for Megan, something was wrong, very wrong here. “You've been acting a little strangely over this last week, nothing serious has happened?”

“No,” said Megan firmly, “but recently I've been thinking a lot about Tau Primia and it's brought up painful memories...”

“Isn't there anything Bashir can give you to ease the pain of these memories?”

Megan though shook her head, and smiled sadly at Max. “I've just got to do some serious thinking...”

Something else was really bothering Megan and Max wondered why she was being so tight-lipped. “Listen are you sure everything is all right?” he asked seriously. “It looks like you're hurting over something rather badly.”

“I just need some privacy,” said Megan tensely, and her eyes were momentarily closed with pain. “And I’m sorry for cancelling the engagement we had.”

“Are we still going to have lunch together tomorrow?” asked Max slightly nervously.

“We'll see...” said Megan slowly.

She then for the first time really looked at Max, there was a strange sense of resignation and yet happiness intermingled on her face. “Oh yes I'm really happy for you and Tanya, goodnight.”

When Megan had left, Max looked at the spot which she had vacated with deep concern. Over the last week something had really bothered Megan and he didn’t know what that something was. He feared he had somehow hurt Megan, but how? Had he not been a good friend to her, had he not always been respectful towards her?

There were moments in the last few months when Max thought of dating Megan. She was beautiful, intelligent and so nice, but he couldn’t date her because he knew that Megan didn’t want romance. He knew that Megan had been put off romance, dating and men for that matter because of the horrendous ordeals she suffered from by Bordak's and Jack’s hands.

Not once in anyway had he suggested to her about having a relationship, neither had he stared at her in an inappropriate way. He had been the perfect gentlemen and friend. So why was Megan so bothered and subdued towards him? He felt a little hurt that Megan didn’t just tell him what was wrong.

Max cast those gloomy thoughts aside as he realised he could ask Tanya to go skateboarding with him. That woman was game for anything, and that was one of the things that Max loved about Tanya. Unlike Megan, Max had Tanya completely figured out, there were no secrets between himself and Tanya…

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Well that is the end of Ménage à Trois. Feel free to comment, review, criticise (constructively) this story, and the other stories of my series.

Here are links to the rest of my stories (which are listed in chronological order in terms of my series plot):

Season 1:

Secrets and Lies

Shallow Rights


Vacation

Bad Blood

Outlier

Devolution

Gold Rush

Medical Pariah

Commitment

Ménage à Trois

Tip of the Iceberg


Season 2:

Survival

High Stakes

Running the Gauntlet

The Price of Sanity

Cloak and Dagger, part 1

Cloak and Dagger, part 2

To be Over
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old December 21 2011, 11:36 PM   #132
Ln X
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Here is the next story: Tip of the Iceberg

Summary: Season 1, 11th story. This is the first story of the four-part Apocalypse story arc, and season one's finale.

After an attack on DS9 by an Apocalypse ship, Ezri and four others are abducted off the station.


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A small foreword:


I dedicate this story, and all the stories in the Apocalypse story arc, to Ratchet: Gladiator. It was thanks to a PS3 video game that this story arc came about. The whole plot, and some of the characters, resemble the plot in Ratchet: Gladiator. So thanks Insomniac for the inspiration!

If by some small miracle, you've read in order the ten stories before Tip of the Iceberg, then I apologize to you, the reader, for the painful and embarrassing mistakes in the prose: missing words, a few spelling errors, or some ugly writing. I am still new to writing (as I type this, I have nine months of writing experience), but I am going through the stories to correct those errors.

Finally I would like to thank Ad Astra, for having a site to publish my stories, and read others (for inspiration), in the first place. I also want to thank SL Walker, her rejection of my earlier material made me a better writer.

Anyway, on to the story:


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Tip of the Iceburg, Chapter 1


Stardate: 71303.3

Day 1, 1700 hours

Inside her office, Ezri was taking a minute’s break from her work. She was drinking her newly favourite Klingon raktajino coffee, twenty years ago she wouldn’t have touched a Klingon raktajino with a barge pole. Now for some particular reason she had the same fondness for this drink as Curzon or Jadzia had.

“Incoming message from admiral Ross,” said the computer’s voice.

“Patch it through to this room’s laptop,” ordered Ezri.

Sitting down, she placed her raktajino on the desk, and straightened the collar of her jacket slightly. “On screen.”

Admiral Ross appeared, and by the serious expression on his face, Ezri could tell that she was going to hear some very grim news indeed.

“I'm contacting you captain to inform you of some declassified Starfleet records. Over the last two years there have been random abductions of personal from Starfleet, now at first glance these abductions seemed to be accidents, but some of them are more sinister. Do you remember the abduction of the captain who commanded the starship Gaigan?”

“I do...” replied Ezri. “The Gaigan was ambushed by an unidentified ship, and its captain was beamed off the ship.”

“Well what you don't know is that these abductions aren't confined to Starfleet. The Romulans, Klingons, Cardassians and even the Breen have suffered from similar abductions. They've kept this all very quiet, but Starfleet Intelligence knows that they have the same problem as we do.”

Ezri had a hard time believing this, but she cast aside her doubts for the moment. “Do you know who is behind these abductions?”

“Remember the conversation we had five months ago when I talked to you about Apocalypse?”

She remembered all right, indeed she had had many troubled nights sleep when she heard that the renegade Jem’Hadar may be working with Apocalypse. “Are you saying Apocalypse is behind the abductions?”

“I'm afraid it is,” replied Ross heavily. “Through various intelligence sources Starfleet has gathered a little more information about the Apocalypse organisation. Suffice to say with each intelligence report I receive, the situation gets bleaker by the day.”

“Do you really think that Apocalypse is going to step up these skirmishes inside Federation territory and the abductions?”

“They are already doing so,” answered Ross vehemently. “The bottom line is captain that you have to increase security on DS9, because it is highly likely that an attack could occur in the coming months. So be on your guard captain, because an attack could come out of the blue at any time. Of course when you explain to your senior staff about this information, try to portray it in a less ominous manner than I have, the last thing we need is a general panic sweeping amongst Federation citizens. I'm also transmitting to you Starfleet's latest intelligence reports about Apocalypse, they may be of some use to you. Ross out.”

The Federation signature appeared on the laptop, though Ezri wasn’t really concentrating on it. She was deeply troubled by what she had heard from Ross, what worried her the most was the ‘an attack could come out of the blue at anytime’. It seemed to her that there was no real preparation, unless DS9 was on a constant red alert which of course was ridiculous and impractical.

If this attack happened, there would be no warning, and the best Ezri could hope for was that her crew would keep their heads and successfully repel whatever threat they were all facing…


***


Day 1, 1730 hours,

Ezri had called this impromptu emergency meeting, to inform her senior staff members about the Apocalypse situation. While she sat at the head of the table she noticed some of the officers looked a little anxious. The contents of the meeting were unknown to them, but even so there was a sense of urgency in the air.

When the final officer arrived and sat down, Ezri began the meeting in earnest. “I'm calling you here because some time ago admiral Ross contacted me on a very serious matter. Two hundred light years away from Earth in the Kilibro system, resides a gladiatorial organisation called Apocalypse. As some of you may recall, about five months ago we were pursuing a renegade Jem'Hadar fleet. Some of that fleet, up to 1100 ships, headed to the Pushui system.

“What you don't know is that these Jem'Hadar are working with Apocalypse. This is all the more worrisome because Starfleet has no idea how many ships Apocalypse has at its disposal. Over the last two years there have been dozens of reports about skirmishes and incidents across the Federation. These incidents all involve abduction of certain people, notably Starfleet officers. The bad news is that Apocalypse is behind the abductions, and the even worse news is that Apocalypse is getting more bolder with each attack.

“These are hit-and-run attacks. An unidentified ship decloaks, ambushes a Starfleet ship or installation, beams over soldiers and randomly abducts people. Once the people are abducted, the ship leaves, cloaks and is never seen again. Admiral Ross contacted me because he feared the same thing would happen to DS9.”

There was a lengthy silence afterwards, and there were many anxious and nervous looking faces amongst her senior staff. Some of them were whispering to each other, and Ezri waited for one of them to ask her to elaborate upon what she had just said.

Sure enough it was Bashir who asked the first question. “Surely there must be some pattern to these abductions?”

“The only discernable pattern is that Apocalypse has a tendency to abduct senior officers. Apart from that, Apocalypse strikes wherever it wants to, whenever it wants to.”

“Isn't there a way of detecting the Apocalypse ship's cloak?” asked Nog.

“Unfortunately not,” said Ezri grimly, “and Starfleet hasn't been able to get a decent sensor scan of these ships due to the nature of the hit-and-run attacks. I won't lie to you when I say I'm very concerned. A ship could be heading to this station at this very moment and we would be none the wiser until it attacks us!

“Having said that, preparation in the face of this danger is our only defence, and if an Apocalypse ship attacks we will have a strategy to defend ourselves properly. I've briefly discussed this with Paulson, and we agree more stringent security measures are needed.”

She cocked her head slightly at Paulson to prompt him to explain these measures.

Paulson got the message, and a after a quick review of a padd, laid out in front of him he explained the measures. “First of all my security details will be going through daily combat drills to prepare for a sudden multiple boarding parties. Secondly computer security is vital, the intruders could try to hack into the computer, this is where you come in Nog and Holo. I need you to spruce up the computer's firewall and security code identity checks.

“The last thing we need is the computer to be sabotaged in the middle of a battle. Finally Ezri and I have agreed upon storing phasers pistols, rifles, and stun grenades in key strategic areas. For instance Ops, shuttle bays, fusion generator monitor rooms and so forth.”

“However these armaments will be stored away,” added Ezri. “Now I don't want to see all the station's officers armed to the teeth because that would panic the civilian population.”

Bashir looked at Ezri in a sceptical manner, and with raised eyebrows. “Rumours are bound to spread though about the increased security!”

“People are a little scarred already by some of the reports of attacks on Starfleet ships and some Federation planets,” said Ezri. “The fact is they don't know the full story because Starfleet has done its best to cover up these incidents, to prevent a general panic spreading. By implementing these measures the civilians will be reassured by the increased number of security guards, and they will presume it is because of the last two year's worth of attacks and abductions.”

“Shouldn't people know the full truth?” inquired Megan, like Bashir she seemed just as sceptical about Ezri’s measures. “There's nothing worse than information leaking out in drips and drabs...”

Ezri rested her arms on the table and gave Megan a penetrating stare. “If the truth was known, there would be a short term panic. Imagine you're not a Starfleet officer, and have a family. How would you sleep at night knowing that there is a small chance that the place you're living in could suddenly be attacked, and the people you loved abducted? Try to understand that these attacks have been few and far between, but it is the threat of an attack that is the worry!”

This argument seemed to settle Bashir and Megan’s doubts, for they were looking far less sceptical.

“Why is Apocalypse making these sorties into the Federation?” asked Bashir.

“It's not just the Federation,” said Ezri glumly. “The Romulans, Klingons, Cardassians, they're all suffering from the same problem. Of course like the Federation they've done the best to hide these incursions into their territory, but such incidents have taken place... Now I want the contents of this meeting to be kept under wraps. Tell no one else what transpired here today, that is an order! And if the word does get out, and one of you is responsible there will be serious consequences!”

She said the last sentence with considerable harshness, and she stared from left to right at her senior staff. They were on their toes, and Ezri was glad they took her threat seriously. Briefly she gave them a menacing stare in a way of challenging one of her senior staff members to object, but none did.

There was some silence, before Paulson spoke up. “But still the good news is that the chances of an attack happening are still very low, and the attacks may just simmer down and fade away.”

Paulson’s optimistic words seemed to lift the dour mood slightly in the room.

“Thank you Paulson for putting things into perspective,” said Ezri appreciatively. “Ms Felpes I need a word in private, the rest of you are dismissed!”

The rest of the senior staff members shuffled out, in singles and in pairs. Some of them were talking in somewhat hushed tones, and Ezri knew they were all a little disconcerted and shocked to hear such awful news.

When the last officer had walked out, there was just herself and Megan left sitting on the table. Megan simply sat there waiting for Ezri to speak.

Ezri though was in no hurry, because she was about to ask a great deal from Megan, and she wasn’t sure Megan would accept this willingly… So Ezri deserted her chair, and walked around the table, arms folded, approaching Megan. She gave Megan a searching stare, though Megan simply returned the stare with a calm and blank look.

Removing her comm badge from her jacket, Ezri dumped it on the table. “This conversation is off the record,” she told Megan.

Likewise, Megan removed her comm badge, and placed it down on the table.

Finally Ezri came to a stop, and decided to give this request her best shot. “I may have told the senior staff what Starfleet knows, but not all of what I know.”

“What do you mean?” asked Megan, sounding somewhat puzzled.

Ezri sighed a little. “Well unfortunately admiral Ross didn't really elaborate on Apocalypse's true motives in this part of the galaxy. Likewise the Starfleet Intelligence reports give a very rough idea of the number of ships at Apocalypse's disposal…”

She paused, letting her words sink in. “But there is little in the way of really useful information, such as schematics of their ships, the numbers of ships, and ship deployments. But I have a hunch that Section 31 may know considerably more than Starfleet does.”

“Section 31?” said Megan sharply, also immediately the very mention of Section 31 had tensed her up. “But how would you contact them?”

“I'm not going to contact Section 31, you are,” said Ezri firmly, pointing a finger at Megan. “You still have the communicator Jack gave you?”

“Yes,” said Megan wearily, shadows had suddenly sprung up all over her face. “But I don't want anything to do with Section 31!”

“I know you hate Section 31,” said Ezri, trying to soften up what she demanded from Megan. “But these aren't random abductions, they're well coordinated and I need to know what we're facing. Ross told me that DS9 is highly likely to be targeted. Now I have a duty to protect this station and its personnel, and I believe Section 31 can help us... in a manner of speaking.”

Ezri gazed at Megan intently, and she could see that Megan was coming around to her way of thinking.

“Fine I'll contact Jack,” said Megan bitterly.

Megan rose from her chair, and stared coldly into Ezri’s eyes. “Though you should know that you are wasting your time with Section 31.”

“I'll keep that in mind,” said Ezri lightly. “When you contact Jack proceed with caution, ask about who is causing these abductions. Remember tell no one about this, as this is something I want to keep between myself and you.”

There was a quick nod of Megan’s head, and Ezri could sense that despite Megan’s reservations, this woman was not going to break orders or back out of the task Ezri had assigned to her.

“Dismissed,” said Ezri.

At once Megan picked up her comm badge and hurried away, leaving the room at top speed.

Ezri realised that she had brought up many painful memories for Megan, and it did not help with her ordering Megan to contact Jack. But Ezri needed more information, and her first duty was to protect the station, this was not the time for touchy-feely emotional considerations. Lives were at stake, and Ezri wanted DS9 prepared to the best of her ability…

She would be damned if a Apocalypse ship attacked this station and abducted her officers or civilians.
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Caption contest: DS9
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Old December 22 2011, 11:37 PM   #133
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 2, part 1

Day 1, 1900 hours

“It’s good to see you Ezri,” said Kira warmly, as she briefly hugged Ezri.

When Ezri broke off she looked down at Kira’s legs. “Your walking again,” she said sounding amazed.

“I know,” replied Kira cheerfully, “and it may sound silly but it feels so amazing to walk again, I don't suppose you want anything to drink?”

“No thanks,” said Ezri politely declining the offer.

The two found chairs and sat down in Kira’s living room. Kira was watching Ezri’s face intently, because it was looking more and more troubled and weary.

“Has it been a hard day?” asked Kira.

“Of sorts,” said Ezri, while she pressed a finger against her temple in an agitated manner. “Admiral Ross contacted me and elaborated about Apocalypse...”

“I remember you mentioning about Apocalypse, a substantial number of renegade Jem'Hadar ships arrived in the Kilibro star system.”

“That's the one,” said Ezri with a nod. “Well anyway Ross told me that for the past two years there have been abductions or as he said 'mysterious disappearances'. A majority of the abducted are Starfleet officers, and this problem isn't just confined to the Federation.

“The Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians and other races have had similar incidents. What was more troubling is that recently there has been surprise attacks by decloaking unidentified ships, it's a very simple but effective hit-and-run attack. For the last three months the method of abduction has turned more violent and far less subtle.”

“Did Ross give you any explanation for the abductions?”

Ezri fidgeted briefly in her chair, while she answered Kira’s question. “He told me that Starfleet Intelligence believes that Apocalypse is abducting people to find new recruits to replenish the number of gladiators.”

“Is Starfleet going to do something about these attacks and abductions?” asked Kira a little shrilly.

“It's taking certain defensive measures, ones which I'm already implementing on this station.” Though Ezri didn’t look too convinced by these measures. “But the bottom line is Starfleet still hasn't found a way of detecting cloaked Apocalypse ships. Until we do so any planet, starbase, ship or installation is vulnerable to a hit and run attack.”

“Including DS9?” added Kira, as she feared the worst.

“That's right,” agreed Ezri, she now looked even more troubled. “And the worst part is I can't guarantee the safety of everyone on this station. Should an Apocalypse ship attack I think it would be highly likely that there would be abductions.”

“No wonder you look so gloomy, but just how likely is it that Apocalypse will attack DS9?”

Ezri paused for a bit and frowned, giving Kira’s question some thought. “Giving the randomness of the attacks and abductions I'd say it's unlikely, but the point is that threat is always there.”

Now Kira knew exactly what was troubling Ezri, it was like being trapped with a hanging sword above your head, and the string was steadily defraying. At any moment the string could snap, no wonder such uncertainty was giving Ezri so much consternation.

“Does the crew know about this?” she asked a little inquisitively.

“Just some of the details,” replied Ezri, there was a ghost of a smile on her face. “The last thing Starfleet wants is a general panic sweeping amongst the populace. Only the senior staff know the full magnitude of the potential threat, and of course you...”

“I wish I could recover quicker,” said Kira sadly, “because I could actually be of some help to you.”

“You do help me,” said Ezri fondly. “Because you are the only one I can talk to about problems like this in a completely open manner...”


***


Day 1, 2200 hours

For some hours now Megan had stayed in her quarters, fighting a battle that was raging inside her head. One part of her could not face up to contacting Jack, not after what he did ten months ago. The other part told her that this was an order from her captain, and she had to cast aside her personal feelings for Jack.

But how could she? Because of Jack the Liberty was attacked, because of Jack she spent two years being destroyed by Gul Bordak, because of Jack her life had been nearly totally ruined. To add insult to injury Jack tried to frame her days after she had been freed from the Tau Primia prison. She couldn’t cast aside her personal feelings for Jack because they were too strong. Though perhaps she could ignore them…

Having come to a resolution, she entered her bedroom, and opened up a cabinet to retrieve a miniature safe. It took her one minute to open the safe, and remove from it the Section 31 communicator that Jack had given her. She would have chucked it out, but Ezri had told her to keep it.

She went back to the living room, and sat down on the chair next to her station console. Placing the communicator into an input port, she tapped a few commands to reconfigure the communicator to send out a disguised subspace signal. Now all she could was wait, she looked at the raised up monitor screen, and the word ‘transmitting’ flashed constantly every second on the screen.

No doubt it would take some time to reach Jack, or whoever in Section 31 directly dealt with transmissions like this. Megan sat down on the sofa, made herself comfy, and read from a padd while she waited. But she couldn’t really concentrate on reading, all she could think about was what to say to Jack…

Nearly two hours later, Megan heard a series of beeps from her console, and she realised someone had received her transmission. She came over to the console, sat down, and looked into the screen. There was Jack and he looked rather different with a bob-style haircut and grown facial hair. But there was no mistaken the somewhat sunken look in his eyes. Only torture and unimaginable suffering could do that to a person.

One thing that puzzled her was the room Jack was sitting in, it looked distinctly Cardassian to her. “Jack is that you? Are you inside a Cardassian ship or building?”

Jack nodded, but he still looked surprised to see Megan. “I wondered when you would contact me; you look different. To answer your second question, I have an assignment to work with... let’s just say certain Cardassians.”

He paused and studied Megan’s face quite carefully. “I think you've grown your hair a bit longer, and your face looks fuller, happier. At least you are looking far more better than last time we met.”

“This isn't a reunion of old friends Jack,” replied Megan icily. “I have some questions for you.”

There was considerable disappointment on Jack’s face. “Someone ordered you to contact Section 31? Perhaps your captain Dax?”

“Are you going to hear me out?” retorted Megan.

“I will,” said Jack, briefly holding his hands up in a gesture of surrender. “But I can't promise you anything...”

Having got Jack’s full and undivided attention, she explained to Jack about the abductions, and everything that Ezri had told her. “-So my question is, what do you know about Apocalypse that Starfleet doesn't?”

“That's your question?” asked Jack, his eyebrows raised in disbelieve. “I was expecting something more... specific.”

Megan tut-tutted in an impatient manner, she didn’t have time to play games with Jack. “What do you know about Apocalypse?” she forcibly reiterated.

“Unfortunately not much,” said Jack. “However I do know someone who has a lot of knowledge about Apocalypse. The question is what do you and your captain intend to do with this information?”

“The captain only wants to know where Apocalypse is going to strike next, and more about the organisation itself and the ships under its control. It's basically tactical information and ship specifications/blueprints of the sort. She believes such information could help to further protect DS9.”

“A noble cause,” answered Jack, while he put a hand against his beard. “Section 31 is very concerned about these abductions, I have enough influence to perhaps persuade my commander to look into this matter. If he feels it is important he might get the person I referred to earlier to contact you, and then you can ask our mole in Apocalypse all the questions you're dying to ask.”

“You would do that for me?” asked Megan, she was surprised by this and had dropped her defensive nature.

“Think of it as a favour, and besides I'm still your friend...”

“Are you looking for forgiveness Jack?” asked Megan in a quiet but seething voice. “Because I will never forgive you, and we are way, way past any chance of resurrecting our friendship!”

“Hear me out,” said Jack, and he looked a little desperate, as if he had to urgently explain himself. “I am immensely sorry for what I did to you, I wish things had been different but what’s done is done.”

This excuse cut no ice with Megan. “It has taken me this long just to return to some semblance of normality! If you hadn’t joined Section 31, we would still be on the Liberty, or at the very least still working together, and we would still be… be-”

She couldn’t say it, because the word stuck to her throat, it was too horrible to say.

“Lovers?” inquired Jack.

“That’s right!” said Megan bitterly, and she could not stop the hurt from appearing on her face. “But you threw it all away, maybe you can forget the past, but I can’t!”

Jack looked deeply sorrowful to hear this, his head was bowed slightly, possibly in shame. He then looked at Megan with big imploring eyes, and for a moment Megan was almost fooled into forgiving him, and it made her eyes burn with tears.

“I still care for you,” said Jack passionately. “And despite what has happened I still want to stay in touch!”

Though Megan had momentarily been considering some sort of amends with Jack, she decided to squash the idea flat. She could not do it, because Jack had hurt her so badly. “You know I hope very much that I never have to speak to you again! Get it into your deluded head, we are never going to be lovers again, or friends, or colleagues or even acquaintances!”

Her voice increased by an octave, as she unsuccessfully struggled to stop crying. “If you had any respect or decency you would never contact me again, because you have irreparably hurt me!”

She cut off the transmission, and sat there breathing deeply. Talking to Jack had been just as bad as she feared. Her only consolation was that Jack had made some promise that Section 31 would help her and Ezri to find out more information about Apocalypse.

But that did little to comfort how anguished and sorrowful she felt. She walked slowly into her bedroom and miserably flopped onto her bed. The thing she hated the most was that she could not find it in herself to constantly hate Jack. It would only drive her crazy to do that, and the only thing she could do to get some closure was to try to forget or forgive his misdeeds and crimes. Though right now she was not ready for either option…


***


Day 2, 0900 hours

Megan stood in the turbolift, she felt distinctly uneasy as she was about to report to Ezri her successfully contacting Jack. No doubt Ezri would ask her inquiring questions about Jack, and this made Megan very uncomfortable. Aside from Max she didn’t talk to anyone about Jack, now it was part of her duty to do so.

The turbolift came to a halt, and Megan stepped out into Ops, and headed to the commander’s office. She chimed the door, and entered.

Ezri looked up, disregarded her padd and got to her feet. “Did you manage to contact Jack?”

“I did,” said Megan, while she stood rigidly beside the desk. “And he promised to ask Section 31 about arranging their Apocalypse infiltrator to contact me. If that happens then it's a golden opportunity to find out about every nuance of Apocalypse.”

“I doubt that will happen,” said Ezri briskly, “Section 31 is tight-lipped and secretive to the various Starfleet admirals they talk to. I found it highly unlikely that they will privy you, more precisely us, with information which they've kept hidden from the admirals!”

This omission from Ezri greatly angered Megan. “Well if that's so why did I have to contact Jack if there isn't a chance in hell of getting any information from Section 31?”

“Because I had to try,” said Ezri forcefully, while she walked around her desk. “And by some small fortune we have a potential source in Section 31!”

This was not what Megan wanted to hear, and she decided to put her foot down on this whole idea. “Well I'm not comfortable talking with Jack, and besides what information could he provide? If he is under orders not to tell me anything, then he amounts to no source at all!”

Megan’s protests did not go down to well with Ezri, and with a brief flick of her hand, Ezri gestured to Megan to walk over to the sofa, where they would be out of sight from the crew in Ops.

“Your probably right,” admitted Ezri, she came to a stop by the low table and turned around to face Megan. “Now what I’m about to say may sound cruel, but I'm counting on Jack's attachment to you. He may contact again and you are the person he can most relate to, we could use that to our advantage.”

Megan simply fumed, she didn’t need Ezri to tell her what she already knew. “I don't care what advantages there are, because I am not speaking to Jack…”

With each word, Megan's voice grew steadily angrier.

“Personal issues be damned!” she said loudly. “I'm not going to cast them aside, so I'm afraid you're going to have to find someone else to converse with Jack!”

Ezri though cast a warning stare towards Megan, and it seemed Ezri was not going to take no for an answer. “Listen,” said Ezri tensely, “what I'm asking of you is optional, but hear me out! I personally believe that Section 31 is a massive stain on Starfleet's integrity and honour, and that it should be under full Federation jurisdiction.”

“You have no argument from me there!” exclaimed Megan passionately.

Ezri nodded her agreement, and continued on. “Section 31 has existed for this long under secrecy and the complacency of certain Starfleet admirals. Starfleet needs a proper source in Section 31, a proper means of contact, not the smoke and mirrors approach that Section 31 and the admirals employ.

“I'm talking about a real source in Section 31, that may be asking the impossible, but Jack is the closest thing we even remotely have to a source in Section 31! We're even more fortunate in the fact that Jack desires to talk to you, and I say we exploit this, and use it to form a working dialogue between him and us!”

There was a logic to this, a logic that Megan could understand, and it made her reconsider her stance on contacting Jack. “To some degree you may be right about that…”

She paused as what she was about to say next was highly personal, but if she did say this it would convince Ezri even more that only Megan could contact Jack. Megan summoned up her courage, but she cast her eyes downwards to avoid looking at Ezri.

“I haven't told you this captain... but I think Jack is torn between his duty to Section 31 and his love for me. What he really wants from me is my forgiveness, to forgive the terrible things he did to me. I also believe that he feels obliged to help me in some small way to make amends. This could translate into him telling me about Section 31's intelligence files, or the ones he can access. I could persuade him into it, but it's a long shot.”

“But that depends on whether you are willing to talk to Jack again.”

Megan looked up and saw a rather poker like expression on Ezri’s face, and she knew that Ezri was subtly daring her to back out of contacting Jack. The silence continued, and the longer it went on for the more awkward Megan felt. She was battling too many conflicting interests, her desire to destroy Section 31, her strong feelings against talking to Jack…

“I'll do it,” said Megan, and she forced herself to say those words. “Not for you or for Starfleet, but for myself. I hate Section 31, I despise it because I lost a lover to it. If there's any way to damage, infiltrate or destroy that organisation, I'll do it.”

There was neither approval or gladness on Ezri’s face, just a grim stare as both she and Megan were aware of what this plan would entail. “Just remember this is highly dangerous, not only for Jack but for yourself, and I admit myself as well. I'll talk with admiral Ross first about our plan and I would prefer to do it with his blessing...”

This didn’t make much sense to Megan, she thought their plan was only going to be kept between herself and Ezri. “Why?” she asked.

Ezri smiled in a very grim manner. “Because if things go wrong, Ross could protect us, he is in contact with Section 31 and he could blackmail them if Section 31 threatens us.”

“By blackmail I take it you mean exposing Section 31 to the whole of the Alpha Quadrant?”

“Something like that,” said Ezri darkly, “I get the feeling that Section 31 want to retain their secrecy at all costs.”
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Caption contest: DS9
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Old December 22 2011, 11:38 PM   #134
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 2, part 2

Day 2, 1300 hours

Captain's log: Stardate 71305.6, somehow word has got around DS9 about the full extent of Apocalypse's attacks and abductions. The mood amongst the station is fearful to say the least, I have never seen the Promenade look so empty in the morning. Of course there are rumours circulating around the crew and the civilian population about some sort of imminent attack on this station.

Some of these rumours have a disturbing resemblance to the truth, and I have no doubt that many of these rumours have been instigated by Quark, who coincidentally is now selling all manner of personal security items. I'll be making sure that these items are all legitimate merchandise...



***


Day 2, 1400 hours

Ezri walked into Quark’s bar and was not surprised to see a whole crowd gathered around the bar. No doubt they were prepared to pay whatever it took to get their hands on the ‘security and protection’ products that Quark was selling. Walking closer Ezri realised that Quark was actually collecting contracts, no doubt he was charging a hefty commission for these contracts.

Indeed Ezri wondered if the promised merchandise would live up to the customer’s expectations, or even arrive at all. This was another money-making scheme of Quark’s, but this was one she did not approve of. The crowd was desperate, and she had to elbow her way in to get to the front of the bar.

“Quark we need to talk,” shouted Ezri above the commotion of the crowd.

Quark though was continuing to file contracts on a Ferengi padd. “Captain now is the not best time, not with all these customers!”

“No Quark we talk now!” demanded Ezri. “Otherwise I'll order security to close your entire bar under 'health and safety' concerns. It's your choice.”

Quark lowered his padd and glared at Ezri. “Blackmail huh? I didn't think it was in you.”

“Spare me your witty banter, it's been a busy day so far and I don't have time for that. I want a private conversation, and I want it now!”

“Alright! Alright!” snarled Quark, his hands held up in exasperation. “We'll use an empty holosuite, Erok you take care of the customers.”

While Quark left his bar, Ezri had to fight her way through the crowd, who had now turned into a mob. They seemed more hysterical now that Quark had left. As Ezri pushed her way through, she accidentally knocked over Morn and the glass of martini he was holding in his hand.

Finally she was away from the rabble, and followed Quark up the steps that lead to the second level and the holosuites. The holosuites seemed completely deserted because Quark entered into the holosuite closest to him. Ezri followed, and as she did so she kept her face mask-like to force Quark to guess her intentions.

When the holosuite doors closed, Quark approached the captain, and whatever anger he had was gone, he now looked business like. “So captain, is this business or pleasure?”

“Don't play coy with me Quark,” warned Ezri. “I know you started these rumours about a sudden Apocalypse attack and that DS9 is vulnerable to such an attack!”

“You can't prove that!” said Quark deviously.

Ezri advanced menacingly upon Quark, so that he backed up into a nearby bulkhead. “What's surprising is how accurate some of these rumours are...”

Now Quark was against a bulkhead with no means of escape, he looked nervously at Ezri, as he was totally cornered. “Which ones were they?” he asked timidly.

Ezri drove her right forearm against Quark’s collar bone and slammed him hard against the bulkhead. Quark yelped in protest, but Ezri pinned him in even harder. “Now listen carefully mister,” she said, venom flying out of every word. “I have put up with your rumour-creating, gossip-stirring shenanigans, but this time you've crossed the line.”

“What did I do?” asked Quark, he looked wide-eyed with fear.

“I find it a coincidence that some of these rumours are actually bona fide facts. Which brings me to another point, how could you have made such accurate deductions?”

“I'm good at guessing?” suggested Quark weakly.

This lame excuse further infuriated Ezri, and she pressed her arm even harder into Quark. “I'm warning you Quark, if I find out that you've been looking through classified Starfleet files or been eavesdropping in any way, there will be consequences!”

Quark though looked totally desperate, and he made a Ferengi cringe of mercy with his hands. “I swear to you I haven't done anything of the sort! I'm not that stupid!”

“What?” exclaimed Ezri. “So are you telling me you've made all these rumours up?”

Quark shook his head furiously. “I haven't made them up because last night I was talking to someone, and they told me all these interesting facts about these Apocalypse attacks!”

“Who was this person?” demanded Ezri.

“I don't know,” said Quark shrilly. “We were drinking, and I can't really remember his face, and I can only recall bits of the conversation. Listen I'm not the one responsible, it's the humanoid man you should be questioning, not me!”

“If you are lying to me!” said Ezri warningly, her face inches from Quark’s.

“I swear it's the truth,” pleaded Quark. “Now please let go of me!”

Ezri knew Quark well enough to realise that he was not faking this, he had no idea, and the absolute fear he had manifested proved to Ezri that this was the case. She let go of Quark, she was still angry about the rumours, but she knew that Quark had not betrayed her.

“If this person comes to your bar again tell me.”

“I will,” said Quark, while he straightened out his jacket. “But I can't give you any guarantees on that, I can barely remember the person.”

Quark still looked afraid, and Ezri felt a twinge of guilt for her rough behaviour towards him. “Oh yes, sorry for pinning you to the wall, I thought you were the one responsible for the leaking of classified Starfleet information.”

“It's unlike you to overreact like that...” observed Quark, while still giving Ezri a wide berth.

There was a brief pause, and Quark’s usual demeanour returned, he stared at Ezri in a shrewd manner. “If you ask me captain you're stressed out and overworked, and I think a brief sojourn in one of my holosuites might help you to unwind.”

“Don't push your luck Quark...” warned Ezri.

She walked out of the holosuite, feeling that her conversation with Quark had given her more questions than answers. She realised the person Quark referred to must have been the one who looked at the classified Starfleet files. But why would this person do this? It worried Ezri because her chief of security Larry Paulson had detected no unauthorised access of classified files.

Whoever did this was good, and Ezri wondered if the breach of station security was just the start of something more sinister… She resolved to talk to Paulson immediately about finding out who the person Quark talked to was. Plus she would discuss ways of bolstering station security, and protecting the station's computer. She only hoped these steps would be enough to stop this person…


***


Day 2, 1800 hours

Max poured out some champagne into two glasses, one for himself and the other for Tanya. When he had finished, he passed a glass to Tanya, and he looked fondly at her eyes. “Here's to one month of happiness, and may we have many more.”

The two toasted, and Max took a sip from the glass, studying Tanya’s face. This was there one month anniversary to commence the resumption of their relationship, and they had decided to celebrate at Jake’s restaurant.

“Cheers,” said Tanya, smiling. “And for those elegant words you'll be rewarded tonight.”

Max thought it was reward enough seeing Tanya in that elegant red dress. “Hmm...” he mused, “a nice reward I take it?”

“That's right,” said Tanya with a nod. “You deserve it for pampering and spoiling me rotten today!”

Maybe Max had done that, but he wanted to treasure this day with the one he loved. “It's a special occasion, besides being with you has changed my life for the better...”

Tanya took another swig from her glass, before lowering it and staring thoughtfully into its contents. “You changed my life as well, I never realised how much I really missed you.”

“And now?”

Looking upwards, there was an enamoured expression on Tanya’s face, and one of her hands moved along the table cloth to touch Max’s hand. “No matter what happens I want to stay with you, I don't ever want to leave you again.”

“The feelings mutual...” replied Max fondly.

Tanya smiled again at Max. “Besides I'm coming to like this station, it's full of vibe and life...”

Max looked around the restaurant briefly, it was deserted apart from himself and Tanya. “Well usually it is, though today thanks to Quark's ridiculous rumours, nearly everyone is staying away from restaurants like this. They're frightened stiff of an Apocalypse attack which is highly unlikely to happen.”

“It's understandable how people could overreact.”

“It doesn't help with Quark, though of course it may be part of some cunning business strategy of his. Frighten the people and they will buy anything to feel a little safer…”

Tanya’s eyebrows rose upwards in a questioning manner. “Yeah but fewer customers coming to his bar would hurt his business and his profit margins.”

“Only for a few weeks at most, people will just accept this threat, though their need to protect themselves will last a lot longer than their fear...”

At that moment Jake came over, and Max and Tanya broke off their hand holding. Jake looked very bored, probably because Max and Tanya were the only two customers he had today.

When he arrived at the table, he looked at Max and Tanya in a disbelieving manner. “If you don't mind me asking how can you two have dinner at a time like this? I mean an Apocalypse ship could literally decloak and cause considerable damage to this station before it is stopped.”

Max turned his head to the right to look suspiciously at Jake. “You seem to know an awful lot about how Apocalypse attacks unsuspecting stations like this?”

“I talk to Nog,” replied Jake in a cocky manner, “and he tells me things, besides I'm also a journalist in my spare time. By the way can I quote you on the 'unsuspecting stations' remark?”

“No you can't,” said Max firmly, “because I was being ironic. To answer your first question Tanya and I are having dinner to celebrate one month of being together again.”

He looked at Tanya, and together the two resumed their hand holding.

With such a public display of affection, Tanya looked at Jake in a proud manner. “And we're celebrating regardless of the circumstances, if we didn't celebrate then today would be a very drab day.”

“You got that right,” agreed Max.

“How's the crawfish etoufee?” asked Jake, staring from Max to Tanya.

“Amazing,” said Tanya cheerfully.

“Delicious...”

Such satisfied responses cheered Jake up no end. “I don't suppose I could join you? It’s just that there is no one else here and it gets boring staring at pots and pans.”

“Sure join us...” said Max, he quickly looked at Tanya, and was glad to see she approved of his decision.

“Great,” replied Jake, looking far more cheerful than a minute ago. “I'll just get some 2375 Saurian brandy, that was a good year...”

While Jake went into the kitchen to get the Saurian brandy, Max took some more sips from his glass and stared at Tanya. He was looking forward to tonight when they returned to his quarters. At this moment in time he could not get enough of Tanya, and it felt so amazing to live with her again.

Tanya had moved into his quarters, and sure there had been a few fights and arguments about living space and arrangements. But they had resolved them, and living together had given Max some of the happiest times he had ever had during his time on this station…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old December 24 2011, 01:30 AM   #135
Sandoval
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Ln X have you ever considered having a bash at something other than DS9, perhaps creating your own series like so many others have done with their own fanfics?

Just curious since you clearly put so much effort into this DS9 project only for it to essentially fall on deaf ears. Clearly you have ability to write fan fiction in spades, I just wonder if you have considered taking a different path?
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