Chapter One

Lisa was on the holodeck when she heard the news that the Enterprise had returned to Earth. Her surroundings were that of a large meadow on Alnilam, the planet she thought of as home when she wasn’t on Earth. She was utilizing the space to exercise the abilities she possessed that she couldn’t safely use anywhere else on the ship. She flew above the multicolored grass, wings stretched to their full span, enjoying the wind – simulated as it was – blowing through her hair.

No one had come to tell her about their arrival; she simply picked up the thoughts of the other people on the ship. The Enterprise had been called back for some kind of priority mission, but she wasn’t too clear on the details yet. Information was kind of trickling into her mind from the projected thoughts from the rest of the ship. It was currently more speculation than facts as Data and Captain Picard were currently on the planet investigating whatever it was that was so important that it required the Enterprise to come home.

Catching a thermal and riding it up, she let her mind wander a bit. She’d been on the Enterprise for nearly six years now and there were people amongst the crew and civilians that she considered some of her closest friends.

Some I wish were closer than others… An image of a pale face with gold eyes drifted through her mind.

It had been three – almost four – years since she had told Data, the ship’s resident android, that she was in love with him only to have him reveal to her that he already knew. It had also been that same amount of time since she’d told him that, knowing he was unable to return the feelings she had for him, she was simply content to be his friend. Although she still was, she wanted to start spending at least a little more time with him.

She only had time to briefly consider asking him about it later when the communications system beeped.

“Picard to Lisa.”

Surprised, she nearly fell out of the sky; the Captain almost never contacted her. Catching herself before the holodeck’s safety fields could, she landed gently on the ground and tapped her comm. badge.

“Lisa here.”

“Your assistance is required in Engineering. Please report immediately.”

She blinked. There was an underlying tension in his voice that unnerved her a little. Shaking it off, she responded that she was on her way and left the holodeck. As she made her way to a turbolift, a voice pierced into her mind.

Lisa, a lot of people seem very concerned about something.

It was her Kinsellan flit, Rising Fog. He, like Counselor Troi, was empathic and able to sense strong emotions. He’d elected to remain in their quarters instead of accompanying her to the holodeck, stating that he’d wished to nap instead.

The flit was telling the truth about the apprehension around the ship. It was almost smothering, as if a heavy blanket had settled over everyone. It seemed to center around some…artifacts that had been found on Earth, but she couldn’t get any specifics on exactly what those artifacts were. Lisa’s telepathy was limited in the fact that she could only read the “loud” thoughts that were being projected – “shouted”, as it were – and extreme concentration was required for anything more. To her, it seemed that everyone was specifically not thinking about the details, as if they were trying to keep that bit of information from her. All that was coming through was artifacts.

She didn’t like the possibility that the crew was hiding something, but until she had more information she decided to let it go for now.

Don’t worry about it, Jamie, she told the flit, using her nickname for him. No need worrying until we have something to worry about.

That “something to worry about” would wind up making its appearance sooner rather than later.

Entering Engineering, she saw Data, Geordi La Forge, Will Riker, Captain Picard and several other crew members. She smiled automatically at Data. He acknowledged her expression with a nod, and she realized that he seemed to be standing in front of one of the work stations. Before she could find out what his body was concealing, Geordi, Riker and Picard herded her over to a computer station with some readouts on the display. The concerned thoughts about artifacts were closer here in Engineering and there was a more conscious effort of concealment of the specifics. They were definitely hiding something and she didn’t like it one bit.

Try to stay calm until you need a reason not to be, all right?

Why did she have the feeling her own words were being thrown back at her?

“Hi, Lisa,” Geordi said, oblivious to her mental plight. “Come take a look at this. Have you ever encountered a species of shape shifters that invaded Earth in the nineteenth century?”

Knowing that she was very long-lived and had traversed several galaxies in that timeframe, she was occasionally called to offer her opinion on unknown-to-Starfleet alien species. She pushed her glasses up her nose and peered at the readouts. “Microcentrum cell membranes…not affected by triolic waves…hmm…” Alas, once in a while, they would come across a species that even she had no experience with. “No, sorry – wait…” Spotting something, she leaned in closer. “Hey, what’s that?” She tapped a couple of controls on the panel to zoom in on what looked like a one-celled organism.

Geordi moved so he could see better and keyed the controls. “A cellular fossil.” He tapped a few more buttons. “Might have just come along for the ride.”

“A cellular fossil?” said Picard.

“A microscopic ciliated life form,” said Geordi. “Not unlike a thousand other single cell life forms that you’d find on any planet surface…except this particular one is L-B-one-zero-four-four-five…and L-B-one-zero-four-four-five is only known to exist on one place…”

“Devidia II,” he and Lisa said together. It was unknown whether she knew this already or she was just reading from the computer, but it wasn’t that important.

Geordi nodded at her. “In the Marrab sector.”

Picard turned to Riker. “Number One, lay in a course.”

The Commander nodded. “On my way,” he said and left.

“Thank you for your help, Lisa,” said Picard. “Dismissed.”

She wasn’t Starfleet but the civilians on the ship were obligated to follow the Captain’s orders. She started to head for the door when something caught her eye. A hint of slight panic flooded through the remaining non-android crew members as she realized what it was.

Her hearts began to pound as her eyes fell upon Data’s head broken at the neck, dusty, old and dead. She looked to the android himself, watching her with his usual stoicism. Picard and Geordi, however, did not look happy that she’d discovered it.

Lisa, relax, said Jamie, sensing her distress. He didn’t know what was causing it yet but he knew that panicking would not help matters.

She found her voice, but it was hoarse. “What…where…?” She grimaced as several images flooded her mind: a cave beneath San Francisco, a watch, a gun…and Data’s severed head. Now that she knew, the effort that was being used to keep the secret had dissolved. She cleared her throat. “That’s why the Enterprise was called back to Earth…”

Picard nodded. “Yes.”

“And why everyone on the ship was upset…”


She looked at Data. “And why you were standing in front of it when I got here. So I wouldn’t see.”

It was the android’s turn to nod. “It was thought that knowledge of my eventual demise would disturb you.”

Her being in love with him wasn’t exactly a secret on the ship, so while it made sense that the crew would try (try) keeping something like this from her fearing it would upset her, they would have to know that someone would slip at some point.

“Were you going to try to hide it until the mission was over?” She was addressing everyone in the room. “Everyone was already upset over this and you know I’m more aware than Counselor Troi is. I would’ve found out eventually.” Her wingtips were starting to both redden and take on a bluish tinge.

Getting angry won’t help matters.

They shouldn’t have tried to hide things from me!

Picard had to concede. “Yes, you’re right. We should not have tried to hide this from you.” He walked up to her and put a hand on her shoulder; she was trembling. “Lisa, I promise…we will do everything in our power to prevent this from happening.”

She was going to say that that would cause a paradox but the look in his eyes stopped her and she forced herself to calm down. “If – ” Her voice caught so she cleared her throat and tried again. “If you need my help, let me know.”

That’s my girl.

The Captain nodded. “Of course.” He looked at his two officers. “Data, La Forge, why don’t you escort Lisa out…and explain everything to her. She’s right. She will find out eventually and it’s better she know the facts rather than speculation.”

The two men nodded and led her out of Engineering. Even as she let them, she looked behind her at the blank, dead eyes of her dear friend. She felt like she had to do something but, at the moment, she had no idea what.

End chapter one.

Back *~*~* Chapter Two