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Posted on Thu Sep 5th, 2019 @ 3:48pm by Commander Temerant Bast

Mission: Reaching Out in Hope
Location: Deep Space Nine
Timeline: MD5 1900 Hours

The corridors of Deep Space Nine were still as gloomy as he remembered. The Cardassians, being the night creatures that they were, had never seen fit to install proper lighting in the corridors, and since taking over the station close to a quarter of a century ago, Starfleet had inexplicably never seen the need to remedy to that. Despite the darkness, life thrived in these corridors. People from all over the quadrant, walking in file, going from the many docking ports to the Promenade, or from the Promenade back to their ships, enjoying the shops or transferring to another ship on their way to a new world, or ready to step through the wormhole, the doorway to an entirely new quadrant. Sometimes a new life, a new beginning.

Bast stepped over yet another raised rim, leading to a different section of the Station core. One that was much less crowded, this area of the station being off-limits to the civilian population, restricted to Starfleet and station personnel. It had been quite some time since he'd been here, but he remembered the location precisely. This section housed the station's many Science laboratories. The door to Science Lab Three opened, and he stepped inside. The lab was just as he remembered it. Items on the countertops had been moved around, but the layout was exactly the same. All the major equipment was still there, even fifteen years later.

A single science officer was seated at one of the consoles on the far side of the room, hunched over a scanner, peering through the viewer. An older woman, in her mid- to late-fifties, with blonde hair cut to her shoulders. It was a silhouette he remembered, that he'd known quite well, in a past lifetime. At the sound of his approach, she sat up, and turned to look at him.

"May I help you?" asked the woman, a fifty-something blonde with a slight Norwegian accent.

"Hello Anya," replied Temerant. "It's been a long time."

"Do I know you?" she asked, puzzled.

It was then that Temerant remembered that he looked quite different from when he'd known Anya Bergman. Fifteen years ago, when he'd worked on Deep Space Nine for a few months, as a weapons research scientist. Back then, of course, he'd been Wilem Bast.

Wilem and Anya had worked very closely together, trying to unravel the secrets of Breen weapons, which had the unusual effects of completely disrupting the power systems on Starfleet ships. Their work had led to the development of countermeasures which had helped turn the tide of the war, ultimately leading to the Dominion's defeat at the Battle of Cardassia.

"Remember spending three days and two nights straight, looking at fermionic radiation patterns on that monitor over there?" he asked, pointing to a station in a far corner.

Anya's eyes narrowed as she looked at him, and then widened in surprise. She looked at his Trill spots, his uniform, and finally his eyes.

"Wilem?" she asked in disbelief.

"It's Temerant now," he said. "But I am Bast."

Anya's face exploded in surprise and joy as she pulled him into a hug. "It's so good to see you!" she said, before pulling back and folding her hands in front of her chest reflexively, and almost blushing.

Temerant suddenly remembered that their relationship had involved a good deal more than just staring at fermionic radiation patterns. They had developed a close working relationship, and perhaps something more could have emerged from that relationship, but he'd never let himself cross that line. But the temptation had been strong, on both sides.

"How have you been?" he asked.

"I've been good," she said, nodding. "You know, working hard as always."

Temerant nodded. "I saw some of your papers in the Daystrom Journal," he commented. "Very impressive work."

"Thank you. And you… I mean Wilem…"

Temerant looked at the ground. "You know how much Wilem loved rock climbing," he said.

Anya nodded. They hadn't had much opportunity for climbing while on the station, but one time, during a break in their work, he'd taken her climbing on a section of Mount Logan - in a holosuite, of course.

"He had a rock climbing accident," explained Temerant. "So here I am."

Anya was silent for a second, before turning her eyes downward. "I'm sorry to hear that," she said, sadness clearly in her voice. She inhaled a deep breath, and looked up at Temerant, all trace of grief gone from her eyes. "So what brings you here?"

"I wanted to see what you've been up to," he said. "Touch base. See how things were going for you."

"Liar," she said with a smile. "If you were at all concerned about me you wouldn't have waited so long to get in touch."

Temerant grinned a lopsided smile. "That's partly true," he conceded. He wanted to go into more detail, to explain that Wilem had started to develop feelings for her, but that in the end, his marriage had been more important - but then thought better of it. For one, it was Wilem's secret, not his own. And nothing good could possibly come of telling her this.

He looked down as the conflict of emotions threatened to overwhelm him. He remembered those feelings, of being torn between two women - but at the same time, he also had the memory of sitting on a tight and uncomfortable chair in middle school at the same time that this was going on, and wondered which of those memories was truly his.

"My ship is about to head out to the Gamma Quadrant," he said finally, deciding that talking business was the best way to get out of this. "I want us to be as prepared as we can. I thought I'd touch base, and see if there are any developments in your research that would help us in case we run into the Jem'Hadar."

"Ah," she said simply. He thought he detected a hint of disappointment in her voice - was she disappointed that this wasn't a personal or social visit? "You know I can't talk about any of that."

"I wrote a lot of the groundwork for that research," Bast objected.

"Did you?"

"Of course I did. You know I did. You were there," he pointed out.

"Wilem was there," she countered. "I don't remember seeing you… How old would you have been? Thirteen?"

"Sixteen, actually," replied Temerant, somewhat self-consciously. "But Bast was here. I was here. I have all of Wilem's memories, his thoughts, everything he was, is in me. I was Wilem Bast. I still am, in some way."

Anya tilted her head sideways, not taking her eyes off him, as she pondered that statement. Wilem had been the only Trill she'd ever known.

"I remember being hunched over that console, working with you, trying to figure out the equations for the fermionic radiation decay, and solving it by adding a variable to account for the boson drift. No one had ever thought of that before."

Anya looked at him with her brow furrowed. "That was never published," she whispered.

"I know," he said emphatically. "You figured it out while I was still trying to wrap my head around the whole gluon debacle like a third-grader."

She chuckled. "That's true," she said. "But you would have figured it out eventually."

"Maybe," he conceded. "But how many ships were saved because you discovered it twelve hours faster than I would have?"

She cast her eyes downward and didn't speak.

"How is Johan?" he asked.

"He's better," she said softly. "Slowly regaining mobility in his left arm, and his speech has improved remarkably." Anya's only son, Johan, had been an Ensign on the USS Ticonderoga, a Saber-class vessel sent to the Second Battle of Chin'Toka, where the Breen had first unleashed their weapon. The young man, fresh out of the Academy, had been seriously wounded to the head, resulting in permanent brain damage. This had been her main motivation to keep working, to find a way to defeat the weapon.

"Is he still being treated on New Paris?"

"Actually no," she replied. "I had him moved to Bajor about five years ago, so I could be closer to him."

"That's good," said Temerant. "How's Jonathan handling it?"

"He, um…" Anya hesitated at the mention of her husband. "He passed away seven years ago."

Temerant paused. "I'm sorry to hear that," he said finally.

Anya was silent for a minute. Bast could feel her loneliness - her husband was dead, her only son was reduced to a vegetable state, wasting away in a Bajoran hospice. He knew she had virtually no other family. All she had left was her work.

"I'm sorry I asked," he said finally, turning the conversation back to the research data. He glanced at the clock on the wall. "My ship's heading out in an hour. If - when - we come back," he quickly corrected himself, "we should have dinner."

She kept her head down on her table. Bast turned to walk out the door, and didn't see a single tear roll down her cheek.

"Wait," she said, a split-second before the door opened at his approach.


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