"Fresh Blood and Old Magic"
(Previous Post was "Transition" by the wonderful Sabrina)

"Risk is our business. That's what this starship is all about. That's why we're aboard her."
-Kirk to crew, TOS, "Return to Tomorrow"

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Observation Lounge
Stardate: 63073.0015

(From Sabrina's Post)

"Let's start with the obvious… we have several new Officers who have decided to remain with us on the ANUBIS," the redheaded woman began while still standing. "Ensign Mitshiba has returned to us and will be assisting Commander Maya in the Science department. Ensign Lopez has also decided to stay and will be under the supervision of Doctor Summers in the Medical Department while Ensign Fanggot will take over the Tactical and Security position as an Assistant."

"Angels of grace defend us," Adriana whispered under her breath, just loud enough for her Kzinti friend to hear.

Welcoming smiles and approving nods filled the room… that was until the door to the Observation Lounge opened once more and another officer stepped in to draw all eyes onto her. The woman seemed to have an unusual and exotic charm about her, which only added to the mystery which surrounded the Ensign.

"An additional note… Ensign Eve Dalziel transferred over from the AMON-RA as per Admiral Koneki's orders," the redhead announced as she invited the latest arrival to take one of the empty chairs. "She will be taking on the responsibilities of ship's Counsellor."

"Well," Adriana mumbled to herself, "I kept saying that I would need to see a Counsellor."

"Next we need a report on the ship's status," the CO quickly added as she took her place at the head of the long table and shot a glance at the sitting Oltharian.


Eve held a deep breath as she found her place, trying to look a little more approachable but not succeeding entirely. As casually as possible she took a survey of the room, trying to commit each face to memory. They were her new team, after all. She tugged at the uniform, trying to make it feel more like a second skin. It had been months since she had been forced to wear one, and the one piece coverall that had become her 'mode de rigeur' had apparently made her grow soft. At least it wasn't a dress ceremony.

The Chief Engineer was the first to speak. Then the Chief Operations Officer and Assistant Security/Tactical had their turns. The Chief Science Officer gave an impressively detailed description of some of the mission parameters. Each member of the senior staff had something to contribute as the meeting progressed. In fact, the only silent member of the group had been the ILO, Commander Enaii. It was extremely difficult to decide if the woman simply couldn't be bothered to offer her opinion, or if she didn't feel it was warranted.

(From Sabrina's Post)

"At our current speed we will reach Gorn space in just under 12 hours and the OFREAN SECTOR 6 hours after that," the Captain stated as she leaned back in her chair. "This is going to be a physically and mentally demanding mission, so I want everyone to get some rest during the next 12 hours. I want everyone at their best… so if there are no questions, you are all dismissed."

The Senior Staff quickly stood and made their way out of the Observation Lounge, the officers chatting amongst themselves about the information that they had received and the mission that awaited them.

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Corridor
Stardate: 63073.0025

Lieutenant Lea Summers, the CMO, and her new protegé, Ensign Adriana Lopez, were on their way to Sickbay to perform a standard check of their resources before following the Captain's orders and getting some much deserved rest. The rescue of those from the LANCELOT had proven how important it was to be prepared, and this new venture to the OFREAN SECTOR was no different.

"A Counsellor," Adriana said under her breath, still not quite believing that one had shown up.

The ship's Doctor smiled. "It's not as if she's carrying the plague," Lea offered. The newest officer seemed a little... well, *different* around the edges but certainly not the horror that Lopez was making it out to be.

"They talk a lot. And they ask too many questions. I can feel the interrogation beginning already." Adriana would rather have her twin sister hanging around all the time, than have a sit down chat with the ship's Counsellor.

Lea noted that Ensign Dalziel was being sent on the away mission also, along with everyone else. "I think she's going to be too busy to conduct the typical 'couch sessions' you're concerned about."

Neither of them had noticed Eve's approach down the corridor. "Ladies?"

Adriana stiffened slightly, while Lea offered her hand in greeting. "Welcome aboard, Ensign Dalziel."

"Thanks Doctor Summers, Ensign Lopez," Eve said warmly, trying to diffuse some of the awkwardness that she felt. "May I accompany you to Sickbay? I need to speak to you privately. It should only take a few minutes of your time."

The aCMO *almost* let out a huffing noise, except for a gentle nudge of Summers' elbow to Adriana's ribcage. "No problem, Ensign, follow us," Lea said as they made their way to deck 7.

Eve followed the women quietly, trying to absorb all the newness around her. It gave her time to think about her last assignment and the quick turn of events that led her to the ANUBIS...

(Flashback time)

Setting: STARBASE 22, Eve Dalziel's Quarters
Stardate: 63069.0700

The gentle pealing of the alarm woke Eve with a start. She bolted upright in bed, smacking her palm on the sensor built into her console. She didn't want to be late for her meeting with the Commander.

"Lights, half," she said, watching the sparse interior of her quarters brighten to something resembling daybreak. She went to the altar situated near the bathroom, and lit a small candle. She whispered a blessing, something her mother taught her. The routine gave her peace and comfort.

She went into the bathroom and turned on the shower, and caught a glimpse of herself in the large mirror. Her long dark hair was mussed, framing an unnaturally pale face and large gray eyes. She'd been on assignment in the Dolac sector for nearly three months, and had gotten accustomed to the feature enhancements that were part of her persona. So, to see herself again, and nobody else, was a bit of an adjustment.

Eve sighed as she stepped into the sonic shower and let the pulsating motion cleanse her and relax her. No doubt the mission debriefing would be unpleasant for Commander MacLelland to look at, but it was necessary. Losing a valued member of the mission team was never easy. The fact that she had been a witness to it had her questioning her actions and her decisions. It was only in the past few days that she was able to realize if not for her involvement, it could have been much worse. The entire team of nine had been put in jeopardy, so to only lose one individual had been a small sacrifice.

Lieutenant Commander Tomàs Benitez was a decorated officer and had been serving on SB22 years before Eve arrived on the scene. He had been a mentor, and had chosen her as mission leader on several occasions, despite the fact that he outranked her. He seemed to appreciate her attention to detail and her quiet observance of those around her. He knew when he decided to remain behind at the 'safehouse' while the rest of the team went ahead to meet at the extraction point, that it was a calculated risk. But, if not for his actions, they would have never known an ambush was waiting for them. Needless to say, the mission team turned the tables on the Dolacite extremists and they managed to escape the socially backward and techologically lacking society. But Tomàs had paid the price for all of them. That was something Eve wouldn't easily forget.

She closed her eyes briefly and silently hoped that Tomàs' pagh, or spirit, was at peace. The sanctity of life was important to her, and she had once said that the day that death held no consequence to her, was the day she would resign her commission.

Setting: STARBASE 22, Commander's Office
Stardate: 63069.0901

Commander Duane MacLelland took his feet off the desk and shuddered as he finished reading the Intel reports on the mission to Dolac III. One operative dead, another injured, and all to discover the Dolacites weren't Federation material for at least another 75 years. [[I guess every one can't be a ringer]] he thought, tossing the data PADD across the desk with the satisfying sound of cracking plastic.

"Commander?" a soft yet assertive female voice asked.

MacLelland looked up sharply at the tall, lithe woman in front of him, She was wearing a black coverall, an outfit she often favored to the standard uniform. Maybe it was because of how rarely she actually wore a Starfleet uniform on her field assignments. Her long hair had been pulled back in a queue at the base of her neck and cascaded down her back, a few dark strands falling elegantly over one shoulder but barely showing against the ebony material. "How long have you been standing there?"

Ensign Eve Dalziel shrugged. "About 60 seconds."

Duane managed a sheepish grin. There was something about Intel officers, they could sneak around quieter than an invisible ninja. "Please, have a seat."

Eve took a chair, immediately engaging her Senior officer with discussion about the mission elements, including the shortcomings and takeaways. It was obvious she had given the meeting a lot of thought and preparation. It didn't hurt that she had a good rapport with the Commander, and they could discuss anything and everything that was on the table. Working on SB22 had been one of the best experiences of her career, except for the loss of Lieutenant Commander Benitez. "But in the end, there's still one thing that bothers me."

"And what would that be, Ensign?" MacLelland raised an eyebrow, thinking how amazing it was that the woman only had *one* outlying concern.

"The question remains, who alterted the Dolacites to our presence?" They simply didn't have the technological skills required to find interlopers on their own. Especially after all the precautions the mission team took.

"If you're looking for answers, Eve, you came to the wrong place. You know as well as I do we may never find out who tipped them off."

Dalziel crossed her arms in mild defiance. "That won't stop me from thinking about it."

Duane sat on the edge of the desk and faced the determined junior officer. "I do have one question I can get the answer to- are you sure you don't need more time off before your next mission?"

[[*Damn*]] she thought. [[What was the point of having classified records if everyone reads them?]] Eve straightened up in her seat. "No, not at all... Sir." Two weeks away from active duty had been ample time to take care of any loose ends. Not that there were any to speak of.

Commander MacLelland shot a glance at the pale woman. "It's not a sign of weakness to ask for a leave of absence."

"It is where I come from," Eve replied with a smirk. She'd been raised in the Federation, and hard work was something she didn't try to avoid.

MacLelland paced around his desk, handing Eve a small PADD. "Obviously Starfleet agrees with you. They want you reassigned. Congratulations."

"Reassigned?" she asked, as though she had done something wrong.

Commander MacLelland looked at the woman in front of him and sensed her concern. Eve was a study in contrasts. She had the physical strength of a Cardassian, the soul of a Bajoran, the mind of an eager student, and the heart of a Terran. "Relax, it's a promotion of sorts, the orders come directly from Admiral Koneki."

"*The* Admiral Koneki?"

"The one and only. They want you to rendezvous with a vessel called the AMON-RA. It's supposed to carry you to your final destination."

"Which is...?" Eve's question was met with a blank stare.

"It's classified, at the highest level. All they will concede is that once the mission begins, any communication with non-mission personnel will be completely silent. They won't even give me a timeline."

The raven-haired woman sat in stunned silence for a minute, reviewing the small amount of data in front of her. Everything Duane was saying matched the documentation, including Koneki's stamp of approval. Her curiosity began to show. Something about this felt undeniably right. "How soon do I leave?"

"How soon can you pack?"

Setting: STARBASE 22, Eve Dalziel's Quarters
Stardate: 63069.0947

Eve had wasted little time in contacting her parents after her meeting with Commander MacLelland.

=/\=Delta delta omega seven, secure transmission line established,=/\= the computer responded with its standard monotone.

The friendly face of her dad filled the room with warmth. [/\]You look especially serious today,[/\] Seamus Dalziel said with a slight Irish brogue. [/\]Something wrong?[/\]

"No, Dad," she replied with a tone of surprise. She was still a little stunned by the turn of events. But she managed to come right out with it. "I've been ordered to deploy in the next 72 hours."

Her adoptive father leaned back in his seat and chuckled, running his hands through his graying hair. [/\]Oh, I see.[/\]

"What's so funny?" she said.

[/\]I should have known this was about a mission. You always get this way before something exciting happens. What's it all about?[/\]

It was Eve's turn to smile. "It's so classified I wouldn't be able to tell you anything, but the truth is they didn't tell *me* anything. Other than someone *wants* me there. Someone with a hell of a lot of clout that doesn't take 'no' for an answer."

[/\]My kid's moving up the world,[/\] the elder Dalziel said with obvious pride. Then he paused. [/\]Is it deep cover?[/\]

Eve tilted her head to one side in thought. "I'm not sure, but it is a complete communication blackout. No contact whatsoever with anyone on the outside... including family." she finished gently.

[/\]For how long?[/\] Now he better understood her uneasiness.

"I don't know... that's why it was so important I called. Where's Mom?"

Seamus turned his head to look at the digital clock on the opposite side of the room from the comm link. Seamus now taught Engineering at Starfleet Academy, and Patrice was a clinical psychologist with a practice just outside San Francisco. [/\]Still seeing patients until this afternoon. Will you have time to call back?[/\]

Eve nodded. "Not a problem, I still have to pack. They've given me about eight hours to clear my quarters. It's a good thing I travel light. I'll call back at about 1630 hours."

[/\]Sounds great, honey.[/\] Seamus beamed at his daughter. [/\]I love you.[/\]

"I love you too," she replied as she closed the secure transmission.

(Back to the Present)

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Sickbay
Stardate: 63073.0040

The three women entered Lea's office. "What did you want to talk about?" Lea began, sensing the new Counsellor felt nearly as uncomfortable as Adriana did. Adriana had barely said five words since Eve had introduced herself.

"I understand there are very few secrets aboard the ANUBIS." It was more of a statement than a question from the tall woman.

"Correct," Summers responded. "The greatest secret is our existence. Once you have made your way here, many other things fall away."

Eve nodded. "Then there is something... as Medical Officers you need to know. Normally I have the opportunity to schedule a traditional appointment, but our mission parameters haven't given me the luxury of time."

"Time is a rare commodity for us all," the ship's CMO confirmed. "Are you ill?" Lea then asked. At least that would explain Eve's pale visage.

"No, I'm fine," Eve said reassuringly. This was difficult. "But in case anything were to happen to me, and I would need medical attention, you need to be aware."

"Aware of what?" Adriana Lopez asked, finally finding her voice again.

Eve glanced at the two women, her rich gray eyes filled with turmoil. "I'm not human. I'm Cardassian."

Susan M Ledbetter (susanmled@earthlink.net)
Ensign Eve Dalziel