The Roads We Travel

Chapter I

“Let it be put on record that under Starfleet Standard Containment Procedures, Captain Kero Elan of the USS Troi has been confined to quarters on Earth Space Dock, pending an investigation by Starfleet Intelligence.

Let it be put on record that the people present on today’s hearing are myself Commander Jack Railard, and Lieutenant Lynda Abano as the interviewers, and Captain Kero Elan as the interviewee.

Let it be put on record that at present this is just an investigation, not a legal proceeding, albeit information released during this investigation might be used in such proceedings in future.”

Kero was still, looking at the Commander with a self-assured poise. She was sitting on the chair facing the two Intelligence officers. A desk was between them, with a few PADDs on top. The room’s illumination wasn’t particularly bright, the lights were subdued although the surroundings weren’t particularly dark either.

The door, to her left, was shut. The room wasn’t really big enough to allow Railard’s voice to echo, and the subdued lighting was giving it a more intimate feel, rather than appear as an ominous threat. It didn’t seem like intimidation was part of the order of the day, but it wasn’t easy to intimidate the half-Klingon Captain.

“Captain” Lt Abano began, “What was your relationship with Shiala Oreen?”

Kero maintained a dispassionate expression, “She was my Chief of Operations aboard the USS Troi.”

Abano inclined her head forward a little, zoning her gaze into Kero’s eyes. “Is that all, Captain? Aside from the professional relationship, what was she to you?”

The Captain responded with an equally unmovable gaze, “We were partners.”

Stardate 91440.6 (June 10, 2414)
Chapter II

Everything seemed to shake. Actually, everything was shaking. A powerless little kid looked around her, crouched in a ball, her arms around her knees, and worried that some of the crates that were supposed to protect her would fall on her head.

But where else could she go? She hid from the big green men who were shooting their way through the ship. She saw the adults on the floor by the galley. And Auntie Lynn, she was shouting and running somewhere. She didn’t want to go with her Auntie, it sounded like guns were being shot that direction; so she ran away. She ran into the cargo hold, where she’d play hide and seek with the other kids. It was always difficult to find her there, the room was dark, the crates were big. There were a lot of nooks she could hide in, just like the one she was in now.

But it was cold and the crates kept shaking, making her heart race and almost feel like someone had punched her in the belly. She could hear muffled screams and steps, people running and still shooting. But if her friends couldn’t find her there, neither could the big green men.

After a while the shaking stopped. The little kid was still curled up in her ball, too afraid to look outside her refuge.

When eventually the cargo hold door hissed open, she felt like her blood became solid ice. Was that her mama and papa? Was that Auntie Lynn? Or was it the big green men?

The voices she heard in some language she didn’t know told her it was the latter. As the voices came closer, accompanied by the thump of the steps, she shivered. Where was mommy? And papa? She scouted around in the dark with her eyes, maybe she could climb somewhere and try to slip outside the hold unnoticed so that she could find her parents.

Eventually a voice came really close and she got ready to spring towards him. And sprung she did, as soon as a head poked into that nook that was no longer her safe refuge. Caught by surprise, the big green man stepped backward as the kid tried to claw her way out. She saw an opening and tried to run in the little space between his right leg and the side of the crate that was forming the left wall of her little fortress.

She managed a few steps before the man grabbed her from her shirt and prevented her from running. She heard a few incomprehensible words being exchanged between him and the other two marauders who were with him. The green man tugged her shirt so that she would turn to face him and smiled at her. Surprisingly, it was a smile that tried to reassure her.

“We are not going to hurt you” He said with an unfamiliar accent, “You are coming on a trip with us.”

The kid was confused and frightened. The man kept looking at her; she seemed to have raven eyes and hair, but it was difficult to tell exactly with the limited light in the cargo hold. Eventually the kid asked, “Mama and papa?”

The big green man stopped smiling. “Just come with me.”

Stardate 61504.2 (July 3, 2384)
Chapter III

“You should have probably mentioned that first.” Lt Abano picked up a PADD from the table while still inspecting Kero with her eyes.

“I am not sure why you would care about my personal life, Lieutenant. I don't understand what this has to do with the whole, 'Are you a Klingon spy’ shenanigans.” The Captain answered calmly, almost playfully.

“Captain, respectfully” Began Railard, “We are the ones who are trying to understand here. And you should take this a little more seriously.”

Kero scoffed, “What am I? A prisoner? You could at least give me the decency of a hearing.”

The Lieutenant placed the PADD back on the table. “If you cooperate and give us all the information we need, there might not be a hearing, if you are as clean as you say. We are just trying to gather some information right now.”

“Look, just because my father is Klingon, I am not sure why you would suspect that I could be a spy. I thought relationships with the KDF had improved anyway.”

Jack eyed the Lieutenant to his left, then the glass of water to his right before grasping it to take a sip.

“The problem is that we weren't always friends, see?” He said still holding the glass in his hands. He looked at the walls of the room through the water and then turned his gaze towards Kero. “There is information that has gone to the Klingon Empire during time of conflict and regardless of alliances that were struck later, we cannot allow security risks, past or potential, to walk around unchecked. And there are things we still like to keep confidential regardless of allegiance, too.”

“Okay. So what do you want from me?” The Captain sighed. “I've told you everything already.”

Commander Railard smirked almost imperceptibly, “Well. You weren't totally upfront about your relationship. We aren't sure what else you might not be upfront about.” He finally rested the glass of water on the table. “And I can't help but notice that you have lost some of your composure when we asked about it.”

Kero remained silent for a moment without breaking eye contact. “I just don't know what Shiala has to do with any of this. Or what happened between her and I. It is bad enough that she is no longer around, why are you bringing up that relationship?”

Lieutenant Abano looked at the PADDs in front of her again.

“I am sorry Captain, I can imagine her loss is stressful for you and we are not trying to put you through undue distress, but there might be uncomfortable questions we might need to ask.”

Kero raised her right eyebrow. “Such as?”

The Lieutenant appeared to collect her thoughts before responding, “Well, there isn't an easy way to ask these questions, so I am just going to have to lay them on you.”

The Captain seemed to keep it together, but underlying that forced calm demeanour there was a raging storm, waiting to burst in the open and swipe everything away. She still didn't understand why they asked about Shiala. That was the last thing she wanted to talk about. She'd rather spend a month in the brig than talk about Shiala. Being bitten by a starving targ was a lot less painful.

“Just how close were you two?” The Lieutenant began.

“Pretty close… why?” Kero was trying her best to keep calm but an inkling of anger betrayed her voice.

“How close?” Abano pursued.

“We were partners, I already told you that.”

“So you two –”

“Yes, we did.” Kero lost her patience. “Why do you need to know this?”

“Passion can play tricks on people.” The Commander answered this time, “And I get the impression you are not a strict follower of Surak.”

“Are you going to get to the point any time soon?” The half-Klingon pleaded angrily.

“Did Shiala come into possession of any confidential information from you, Captain?” Abano cut in. “Maybe during a time of confidence or… weakness?”

“Nothing that her clearance as the Chief of Operations wouldn't allow her to know.” Kero regained some composure although another alarming thought began to form in her mind: whose loyalties were in question? Hers or Shiala's?

“Didn't you think that being in a relationship with a subordinate could cause problems, Captain?” The Lieutenant continued her line of questioning.

“If you can cite me a regulation that states that Captains can't have such a relationship, I’ll be all ears.” The half-Klingon retorted. She shuffled on the chair to find a more comfortable position, legs crossed, her arms on top of her knees.

“That wasn't my question, Captain.” The Lieutenant insisted.

The two women studied each other carefully for several moments. Kero’s eyes didn't yield, but her words did come to an admission, “It has the potential, yes. But when it all started she wasn't part of my crew.”

The Commander took another sip before taking the lead with the next question, “How did it start?”
Chapter IV

(9 years earlier)

The warm breeze of Risa’s beaches caressed Kero’s skin as she laid on the sunbed. The smell of the sea was soothing, and despite the number of people enjoying their holiday, Kero’s spot was fairly quiet. She only opened her eyes to take a sip of her ice-Raktajino every so often, which otherwise stood on the small table to her right. It was a blissful and hot day. Due to her darker skin tones she didn’t need much sun cream at all – one of the perks of being half-Klingon. It was probably one of few perks since the war between the Federation and the Klingons erupted.

She could often feel piercing eyes even when she wasn’t looking, while walking around a station or some public place where people didn’t really know her. Her crew was very loyal however – they knew her, what she fought for, what she wanted; they had no reason to doubt her.

As the wind blew gently, something else made its way along Kero’s skin – a caress on her shoulder as delicate as it was sudden. Kero opened her eyes abruptly and jolted. She looked around, showing surprise, and noticed a woman who looked to be in her late twenties stand to her left, hiding the sun behind her.

“It was too easy to get to you, were you snoozing or something?” The woman asked playfully.

Kero’s eyes opened wide and a smile broke her concerned expression. “Shiala! It’s been a while.” With an open hand, palm towards the sky, the half-Klingon pointed to the other sunbed to her right, the little table with the Raktajino in between.

The new arrival nodded and proceeded towards the sunbed, with the Captain following her movements with her eyes until she sat down. Her hair was dark, as long as Kero's, albeit without the threads. Her eyes were completely black, a feature common to all Betazoids. Her skin was pale compared to that of the half-Klingon. They both were wearing revealing costumes, although not vulgar. What else would you wear on the beach, under Risa's hot sun?

“It has, but you don’t come around here that often.” Shiala responded.

“Yeah… busy doing Captain things.” Kero grasped the ice-‘Jino with both her hands and kept it in front of her after drinking some. “Really though… I was just trying to avoid you.” She added completely deadpan.

Shiala inspected Kero’s expression trying to figure her out. She moved her head slightly sideways, “You are kidding. Aren’t you?”

The Captain laughed. “You mean you didn’t actually read my mind to try and figure it out? What kind of betazoid are you?”

Shiala perked her eyebrows in a playful manner, “The one you like.”

Kero perked one of her eyebrows in response. “Oh, are you now? You know… I haven’t seen you in a while. I might be with someone.”

“Except you are married to the job.” Shiala smirked, leaning on the left arm of the sunbed to get closer to Kero.

Kero shook her head, unable to hide a smile. “It’s not like we ever…”

“Ever…?” Shiala inquired.

“Why don’t you start with telling me what has gone on in your world since last time I saw you, hm?” Kero had her best smile, and a soft voice that was rarely heard in other circumstances.


The night was young and Risa had become lively. Music could be heard and many people were dancing. Kero and Shiala had a lot of time to catch up and talk, get a drink here and there, have dinner… Shiala even broke the news to Kero that she was going to get a new assignment in Starfleet, but she wouldn’t tell her where.

She kept teasing the Captain, sometimes with jokes, sometimes just walking close, making her presence felt. Kero liked some good humour – or bad, depending on the point of view – and Shiala knew it. Maybe that was why they got along so well. Shiala could take her head on at her jokes, or when she was showing off that Klingon pride that sometimes surfaced.

That very same Klingon pride was a big contradiction in Kero’s character. Sometimes she hated it, especially since the war began. She felt it made people judgemental towards her. On the other hand the Captain was strong-willed, sometimes even stubborn. And she seemed to not hesitate to show that more assertive side of herself when needed.

Shiala couldn’t just cope with it, she could deal with it head high and knew when to be assertive herself and when to just yield. Maybe it was because she was Betazoid, maybe it was just how Shiala was. Kero wasn’t sure either way. That was a big draw for her, there was something about Shiala she couldn’t quite put her finger on.

As the two looked at the dance floor from the distance, in a fairly secluded corner of the beach, words were starting to wane. It wasn’t about not knowing what to say. It was about getting drawn into the enchanted Risa beaches. They sat down on the sand and watched the people dance, breathing in the sea air and admiring the view.

“You know how you said that we never…” Shiala eventually started off, as forward as she was in the morning.

Kero turned to her left, where her companion was. “Yeah?”

“Jeez Kero, you are quite passive for a Klingon!” Shiala made a move towards the Captain and pushed her on the sand, holding her wrists against it with her hands and keeping them down with her weight. The move was playful, but also sensual and a little forceful.

Kero’s eyes were intense. She looked straight at the Betazoid, showing no sign of surprise and certainly not looking like captured prey. “I am half-Klingon. And trust me, passive I am not.”

Shiala closed the gap and let her lips roam near Kero’s ear, “I know. You like to be in control.”

There was a moment where time seemed to remain still. The sea could be heard caressing the shore. Somewhere in the distance there was music and partying. Kero could have tried to make her own move and overthrow her captor, instead she decided to hear what else she was going to say. Shiala, with her usual punctual response, didn’t disappoint. She further closed the gap between the two and whispered, “Right now, I want you to lose it.”
Chapter V

“We met on Risa.” Kero crossed her arms in front of her. In other circumstances she might have made a joke about lack of imagination. “I went there on holiday in between assignments, I met her there. We remained in touch until eventually I met her again and I guess that's how it all started.”

“What was she doing at the time?” The Commander asked.

“She was already in Starfleet at the time… she was stationed on K7.” The response from the Captain was fast.

“Your deep space assignments meant you often stopped at that station, didn't it?” The Lieutenant sat back, also crossing her arms.

“Yes. It was one of the things that made it easier to stay in touch.” The Captain took a moment to breath. “She did hint at a change of assignment once but she wouldn't tell me what it was.”

The Commander finished the last of the water in his glass. “And when you found out it was your ship she asked to move to?”

Kero closed her eyes for a time. She recalled the PADD with the crew roster and the list of new arrivals. She clearly remembered the surprise when she saw Lieutenant Commander Oreen on the list. She finally opened her eyes again and replied.

“I gave it a good thought. I pondered discussing it with my First Officer. I contacted Shiala instead. I made it clear no favours were going her way if she were part of my crew.”

“How about your attentions, Captain, did she keep receiving those?” Abano cut in once again.

Kero closed her eyes once more, took a deep breath in an attempt to stay calm, then shot a killer look at the person who just questioned her before answering with a cutting, firm tone of voice which didn't hide her irritation, “Lieutenant,” Kero made sure to stress her rank “Yes, I pursued the relationship once I was satisfied with her understanding of the terms of equal footing with the rest of the crew. I told her straight, just like I told you a moment ago, but she seemed to have picked it up a little quicker. And I was also extremely satisfied with her record in Operations on K7.”

The Captain and the Lieutenant both held the gaze, until the Commander, perhaps not so subtly, coughed once or twice signaling the Lieutenant to yield. She complied reluctantly.

“I need another glass” Said Railard eventually. “Do you need a drink Captain?”

“So are you the good cop?” Kero might have been joking, or she might have been sarcastic. The Commander couldn't quite place her. Perhaps not a good thing considering he was trying to get information out of her. He realised things weren't getting anywhere.

“Suit yourself, I am getting fresh water.” Jack stood up and motioned the Lieutenant to follow him.

Kero sighed, “Yeah… okay I could do with a glass, thank you.”

The Commander nodded and the two Intelligence Officers walked out of the room presumably to some replicators nearby.

The Captain took a moment to think. For the first time since the interview started her eyes went to find the floor, aimlessly wanting to find an escape. She always made eye contact with either of the two officers, without backing down.

Like someone who had just lifted heavy weights though, she started to feel like her own weight was too much to bear. Her eyes were heavy, her energy was dissipating.

She wasn't sure whether they were questioning her loyalty to the Federation or whether she had somehow committed dereliction of duty by having a relationship with someone who was in her crew. Did she? She thought Shiala had an excellent record on the Troi. She allowed her Fist Officer free reign to interact with her as she saw fit, and never received any major complaints.

But was this the problem? Why was she questioned about Shiala all of a sudden, why did it matter so much?

Kero kept staring at nothing. Memories of their relationship flooded her mind together with a feeling of longing and loss, which turned into guilt and pain. She hoped she didn't have to recount the incident that marked her life so profoundly.

The sound of a glass of water being placed on the table woke the Captain from her reverie. She swallowed and refocused her eyes, directing them to the people who were sitting down. Two more glasses were placed on the table.

Kero picked hers and took a sip while still looking at the two officers. While Railard was still there however, Abano was replaced by another woman. Dark red, curly hair. Thin, but not too much. A bit shorter than the commander and… black eyes. The Captain drank slowly and, without realising, she stared at those eyes.

“You have to excuse Abano” Jack began once again tearing the Captain away from whatever she was thinking “She is used to dealing with… well, Klingons and you are not quite…”

“Klingon?” Kero directed her gaze towards the Commander. “It's nice of you to notice. Maybe I should feel flattered that you decided to bring someone who can read my mind?”

“I am Lieutenant Commander Ashley Allray.” The Betazoid introduced herself. “And I am only here to guide the interview, nothing that I might 'read’ can be used against you.”

“But there is nothing to use against you, right Captain?” The Commander added quickly, making sure the half-Klingon knew she was not off the hook just yet. “So what do you know of Shiala's origins?”

The Captain turned to the Commander, apparently calm. “She lost her parents when she was a kid to an Orion raid. She used to live in a transport ship. They didn't kill the kids and people who didn't resist. She was brought to a slave market but managed to escape.”

“Is that so?” Jack looked at Kero but then turned his eyes to Ashley as if to ask confirmation that Kero was telling the truth. The Betazoid responded with a very small nod and Jack's eyes quickly returned to Kero, to hear her response.

“That's what she told me. I didn't really have a reason to launch a full investigation into her past.” The Captain raised her shoulders briefly.

“Did she tell you what happened after she escaped?” Jack drank from his glass again. He seemed to like to stay hydrated.

“For a while she made do with whatever she could get her hands on. She ran with some other kids and teens, did some stupid things people of her age might do without adult guidance.” Kero was weighing her words. She didn't want to tarnish the image of someone who used to be a brilliant Starfleet officer and also her lover.

“She was a pretty criminal for a while, stole food to survive, did some drugs.” Jack took great care to dot all the i's.

Kero remained silent wondering why he'd ask if he knew. She allowed him to continue, in order to gauge what his end game was.

“We know from the report of the Starfleet crew that met her when they rescued her and a number of other young people.”

“Okay. What else can I tell you that you know about, because I don't think I will be very helpful.” The Captain was clearly sarcastic this time.

“Fine. Let's not beat about the bush anymore.” Jack began, “What if I told you that after some digging we discovered that she never escaped?”

The half-Klingon stiffened into her chair. Suddenly she was very interested in what Jack was saying, and at the same time she wasn't sure she wanted to hear what was bound to come next.

Ashley kept her gaze firmly on the Captain who seemed to have forgotten she was there after hearing the Commander's last words.

“She was allowed go. And she kept an affiliation with the Orion Syndicate which offered her protection on the streets in exchange for some small jobs.”

Kero became visibly pale, considering her darker skin tones. Her gaze was losing focus. Words uttered in that room appeared to echo in her head.

“I suppose, for a kid who lost her parents and had no other protection, she didn't have much choice. It was an effective recruitment tactic. A long term one but effective. It made the new recruits very loyal.” The Commander spoke slowly, his voice was softer than it previously had been, yet still firm. He paused for a short while to let the information sink into Kero's mind and allowed Ashley to assess her reactions and thoughts.

Even though she might have shown irritation and sarcasm up to that point, the Captain had managed to stay relatively composed. Any other feelings had remained in her head. Maybe due to the fact that having a Betazoid in the room didn't allow for her own mind to be a refuge anymore, or maybe due to the news that was just broken to her, she lost all her focus. She looked numb, her eye-contact had all but disappeared. Her presence of mind slipped away as each word was uttered. No one had seen her in that state since… that day four years before.

The Commander kept going after eyeing his colleague who motioned to keep going in an almost secretive manner. But even if she didn't Kero’s otherwise keen sense might have not noticed in the state she was in. “It was easy for the Syndicate to plug her into Starfleet and we are currently investigating a number of people who have been planted that way. The Syndicate has some loose ties with the Klingons, and infiltrating a crew working along the Klingon border with a half-Klingon Captain was a great opportunity.”

Kero didn't really have the strength to repeat herself and assert her innocence, despite her father's disappearance. It didn't matter anymore anyway. Did she live a lie? Were those moments she shared with Shiala never real? Did she play her, did she use her telepathy against her?

“So I have to ask, did you know of her affiliation?” Jack looked straight at the Captain but this time she didn't look back.

Kero took some time to register the question, but eventually she answered, “No.”

The Commander turned to Ashley, who nodded as to say she couldn't detect a lie.

“So she wasn't killed because you blew her cover, but later decided not to tell Starfleet?” Jack was relentless. He started to wonder whether their suppositions about the Captain were all wrong and he was just torturing her at this point. But he had to ask the questions. If Intelligence was wrong about Kero, at least those questions wouldn't be asked again.

The Captain slowly raised her eyes to look at the Commander. “What?”

“I see.” Jack noticed he was tense and released the tension by sitting back against the chair. “It was the Orion Syndicate, they sent those people.”

“Captain, in your report of the events of the night, you said they were two Orion males.” Ashley's voice seemed to cut through Kero’s commotion. Perhaps she was leveraging her telepathy to get her message across too. “Didn't it cross your mind that she could have been affiliated? Maybe they thought she was a risky asset.”

“An asset, hm?” Kero's words were charged with betrayal as well as denial. Denial that any of that could actually be happening.

“Captain please answer the question. Did you come in possession of any information about her affiliation, information that could have caused that reaction from the Syndicate?” The Commander was, once again, relentless in his questioning.

“I…” Kero could barely string a sentence together and that was making her look increasingly suspicious to the eyes of the two Intelligence Officers.

“Captain, may I remind you that holding back anything at this point will only lead to further questioning?” The Betazoid added to the pressure while scanning Kero's mind in the midst of all the raging emotions.

“Why did you shoot them, instead of stunning them?” Yet another question from the Commander. “Were you trying to hide something?”

“There was little time to think…” The Captain's voice barely came through.

“Please Captain, we truly understand that this is hard for you” Ashley was sincerely trying to reach to Kero, but her velvet tones were lost on her. “Please take a moment to think and try to recount what happened.”

Kero found breathing very difficult, so talking was very much a feat. She also didn't want to revisit what happened. She tried to keep the Betazoid out of her head, she attempted to think of other things, direct her attentions to only certain moments of the event.

Ashley was very experienced. These were common tricks from non-telepathic species trying to block a race that could well tell what you were reading from the room next door. They weren't very effective.

“What are you not telling us, Captain?” She asked. To Kero those words were sharper than a Bat’leth.

“You have all the info in my report” The half-Klingon managed to say. “They came, they threatened us, I managed to overpower one, but Shiala didn't. There wasn't any time to think.”

Ashley leaned forward as if she were zoning Kero into her sights. “I can feel you are not saying everything. Trying to deflect me won't work for long.”

“I have nothing to say.” Kero’s gaze was subdued and pointed at nowhere in particular in the direction of the floor.

“Captain I know that is not all.” The Betazoid just didn’t back off.

The half-Klingon did her best to hold her tears. She wasn't going to give into a full blown cry-baby scene though. Or at least, that's how she considered giving into her grief. But the incessant questioning did eventually bring up the full extent of the tragedy, together with what her and Shiala were forced into. A detail she never wrote in the report.

That's when the truth hit Ashley's mind in full strength. The despair, the feeling that Kero couldn't forgive herself. The disgust, the loss. That's what she had been hiding. The Captain just wasn't ready to share.

Ahsley’s eyes slowly eyed the Captain from top to bottom and eventually reached the table in front of her. She looked slightly preoccupied.

“Commander Allray?” Jack wanted to know what was happening and what to do next.

The Betazoid first looked right ahead of her for a short second or two, then turned to her superior. “I think we need to stop here for now. Maybe get back to this tomorrow. There won't be much else we can gain from this today.”

Jack looked puzzled. “Come with me a moment.” He stood up and walked towards the door. The Betazoid complied and followed him outside.

“You better have a good explanation, I thought we were onto something?” He asked once he was satisfied he was out of Kero's hearing reach.

“Sir, please trust me on this one. What she is not saying is not relevant and doesn't pose a risk to Starfleet although I don't feel I am at liberty to discuss it.” Ashley looked almost apologetic for not being able to offer a better explanation. “May I suggest we both file our reports to the Chief and Deep Space 13 and see what their instructions are?”

Jack sighed. “Fine. Tell the Captain she is free to go to her quarters. She looked pretty shocked, so it would be a good idea for you to take her there and make sure she is all right. She is still one of us after all.”

“That she most certainly is, Commander.”
Chapter VI

Kero sat on her bed. Her quarters were quiet, hardly illuminated. No questions. No voices. No tears, either. Just Kero staring at the floor lost in a whirlwind of thoughts.

It felt like she was in the middle of a witch hunt. Yet she didn't really care at that point. She'd fought it back if it was only about her Klingon father and her potential “links” to the KDF in times of war.

But they turned her world upside down. If there was one thing that could affect her that much, that could make her not care about anything else, it was that encounter with the two Orions.

After what happened earlier in the day, she wasn't sure Starfleet was as immaculate as some would like people to believe either. Why would she fight for her position in a structure where something such as that “interview” could take place?

Kero closed her eyes. It didn't matter whether or not they were open, as all she could see was those moments when Shiala was ripped away from her. The Captain thought she had managed to put all that behind her. There seemed to be some strange hidden rule of physics that made Betazoids a constant in her life. She loved one, and that one managed to bring both immense happiness and sorrow to her at the same time.

Another one had just demolished that wall of self preservation the Captain had managed to build to survive after the incident.

A third one was her First Officer.

Little did she know that another one would eventually pick her up in her lowest moment, help her stand and walk her own path again. But it wasn't this day.

Kero just didn't know what was true and real anymore. Up to that point she was sure her bond with Shiala was profound and rooted in trust and now that doubt was cast on that idea, it felt like everything was a lie, or had the potential to be a lie. After the interview she even felt Starfleet values were a lie.

The door chimed.

“Come in.” The Captain was absent minded.

A ray of light spread across the empty entrance of her quarters as the door hissed open. Only a thin strip made it through to the open bedroom door; it shone by Kero's feet.

“Captain?” Lieutenant Commander Allray was at the door holding a couple of PADDs.

The half-Klingon stood and walked to the room next door. She took the offered PADDs but said nothing.

“We received a communication from Deep Space 13. It's on that PADD.” Allray pointed at the topmost device in the Captain's hands.

Kero turned on the screen and scoured through it with great detachment.

TO: CMDR Railard
FROM: ENS RunningBear
SUBJECT: RE: Captain Elan Detention


After a short review of the information, it has been determined that there is no prior, nor current, information that would indicate possible guilt by Captain Kero Elan in regards to knowledge of the Orion Syndicate associations in the Federation. Further, your detention of Captain Elan is borderline unlawful and your interrogation techniques are both indignant to a Starfleet officer and ineffective. I reported your interrogation records to the fleet Admiral and they said that if you released the Captain immediately, they would not report you to Starfleet Command.

Ensign Jacob RunningBear
38th Fleet Argo
Intel Department

Kero’s eyes travelled absently from the PADD to the Betazoid. There was no hint of satisfaction in them, despite the absolution and defence from her own fleet.

Allray's voice was soft and apologetic once more, “I asked to stop the interview when I realised the mistake we were making.”

Kero still didn't say a word.

“I am sorry this has happened Captain. I truly am.” The Lieutenant Commander continued. Kero just looked at her. “If you need to talk…”

“You read my mind again, I’ll make sure you read the mind of the conduits you'll scrub for the next few months.” The Captain’s tone was restrained despite the threat.

The Betazoid was left speechless. She swallowed and eventually mustered enough composure to be able to speak again. “The other PADD has all the information about Shiala, if you wish to know.”

The Captain had no reaction and still just stood there. That silence was a clear indication of her anger.

“I know the Admiral in DS13 said he will not report us if we let you go immediately. I will however file a report myself.” The Betazoid finally said.

“Good. Dismissed.” Kero’s words were firm.

Allray’s body stiffened as she did a 180 degrees on her heels. She took a few steps forward but she stopped once she reached the door. “I realise you are not ready to talk about that day. I do hope one day you'll feel you can, it will help, I promise you.”

“I said, “Dismissed.’ ”

Thanks to OMPGaming for his time in writing the communication from RunningBear. Also thanks to everyone who helped me develop Kero's very long story arc (it took a couple of years!) either by RPing with me or writing their characters in some of the stories (Katriel especially).

This story happens a few months before the second part of Moonlit Shadows which is followed by the Doza IV Genesis Survey.

Having seen the effects on people of events such as those I referred to in these stories, I hope the message I was trying to get across through the entire arc was clear – that not matter how grim it might seem to you, there is always someone you can talk to when you feel you can't make it alone. It will not always be grim. Just take a step at a time.