Kelestra Dark
Star Trek is the property of Paramount Pictures. This story belongs to me, just the story. Please, do not use in whole or in part without permission. Thanks.

This story takes place about 12 years after Insurrection, but of course, Data survives the day at the end of Nemesis. I began this one before Nemesis came out or before I knew that they would kill him off in it, so...

Chapter 1

The ship was the same, but since all of the command crew had been reassigned to different ships following the retirement of their captain, Mortai, it had a different feel about it. Dr. Teagan Shayza had only been aboard the Repulse for four of the eight years that Mortai had commanded, but she had made a place for herself here. It was a relief to find that she was not one of those reassigned.

The Repulse had been in dry-dock at Utopia Planitia undergoing a major refit for three weeks now and she had just been informed that her Bio- Chemistry lab was now as up to date as they could make it. Teagan beamed over and inspected the damage. Well, perhaps the word 'damage' would be too strong, but she liked things to be a particular way and anything apart from that she considered unacceptable. Yes, as she expected it was a mess, but she was sure she could put the lab back to the way she liked it in just a few days. The Repulse was due to leave dry-docking in two days and the newly promoted Captain Data was to be here this afternoon to officially take command.

"Can't have our new captain thinking we run a messy ship," she thought as she called her people to work and began the tedious job of reorganizing her office. Five hours, a lot of sweat, and a shower later, Teagan entered lounge, noted the changes that had been made even here and took one of the tables to have a bit of lunch. Lauralee Apple collapsed into one of the other chairs and smiled tiredly at her supervisor and best friend of nine years.

"You're a slave driver, Doc. You may not believe this, but the work does not have to be done yesterday!" Lauralee was a willowy blond with a long slim and shapely body that always made Teagan feel insignificant by comparison. If it were not for her flaming red hair, Teagan doubted she would ever be noticed when the two were in the same room. All of 5'4", the doctor of bio-chemistry was also slim and had a neat hour-glass figure, but she still felt she paled when compared to Lauralee, but the blond never seemed to notice.

"I know, but they made a mess of the place and I want it in shape before we get a visit from our new captain," Teagan defended.

Lt. Apple sat up straight and scanned the room. "Speaking of, is he here yet? Have you seen him?"

"No, I know he's supposed to be here soon, but I have not heard anything but that it was to be sometime this afternoon."

"Well, its 1143 now and-" Lauralee stopped talking as the doors to the lounge opened and their new captain walked into the room.

"And he's early," Teagan finished for her. He's cuter that I thought he'd be, she thought to herself. He walked with a confidence and certainty that she found strangely appealing. As the whole room watched, the captain spied the party of senior officers at a far table and crossed to join them, his movements cool and exact. A tap on her hand brought her out of her fog.

"I'm sure his first stop is not going to be our lab, Doc," Lauralee told her, assuming that her superior officer was now worried about the disheveled state of their home away from home. Teagan turned her attention back to her friend, trying to remove the stunned expression from her features. "Oh, my god, you're not worried about him showing up, you're hoping he does. Doc, smitten so soon? You shock me. I thought you'd sworn off men."

Teagan looked indignant. "I have done no such thing and you have been badgering me to start seeing Lt. Rosen for months now, so I know you don't really believe that either.

"Well, Rosen was transferred, so you slipped out of that one too. So, am I right and you find our new center seat holder interesting?" Lauralee asked, her eyebrows raised with interest.

"Are you ever going to find someone else to torture with your nosiness? And keep your voice down, He is an android and has very good hearing." Teagan hissed under her breath. Lauralee just laughed.

"I'll stop teasing when you stop being such a good target."

Teagan slumped in her chair momentarily before leaning forward again and coming close to her tablemate's ear. "You know, I don't see a ring on any of your fingers, so why are you so determined to see one on mine."

Lauralee just laughed again. "'Cus it's so much fun. But seriously, I think the captain is out of both of our leagues." Teagan nodded at this as she looked over at the dark haired figure now seated in the back of the room.

"True, but a girl can dream can't she?"
In the lab, progress was made in the hours ahead, but only Teagan seemed to have the energy to return to the lounge for dinner, instead of retiring to quarters as the rest of her staff had done. She took the last empty table and waited to place her order. Seconds after the attendant had taken her request; the captain entered the room. Noting quickly that all of the tables were taken and with a brief look of uncertainty, she saw him turn to leave. Not knowing quite what possessed her to do so, Teagan jumped to her feet and called to him.

"Captain Data," turning back, he came to her table with a puzzled look on his face.

"Yes, Dr. Shayza?" his voice was not as deep as she had expected, but still pleasant. Wait, how did he know her name? Of course, he had studied all of the files on the ship's regular compliment and had hand picked the rest, he knew the names, faces and records of everyone on the ship.his ship.

"Were you to meet someone here, sir?" she asked.

"No, I simply wanted to have a light dinner with my crew before returning to Utopia Planitia. There are no free tables so I will forgo dinner-"

"Or you could join me. My staff abandoned me and left me to eat alone, so there is room. Unless you are more interested in returning to U.P." He gave a short shake of his head and smiled.

"Thank you, Doctor. I would be pleased to join you." He pulled out the chair across from her and seated himself. Wisely, the attendant was at his side as though he had been beamed over and took the captain's order almost before his back touched the chair.

"May I ask why you say that your staff abandoned you?" he asked once the attendant had left. Teagan grinned.

"I would hazard to guess that they believed that if they came with me instead of retreating to their respective quarters, that I may have tried to convince them to return to work once we were through. I have been accused of being a slave driver more than once today," she admitted. He looked puzzled again.

"What are you and your staff working on?" he asked. She chuckled.

"Rebuilding my lab," she answered hesitantly.

"I was under the impression that it had been the job of the Utopia Planitia staff to complete that task," he stated, but the question was clear in his voice.

"Their idea of order and mine are very far apart, sir. Nothing was the way I wanted it, and I intend to rectify that situation as quickly as possible."

"I see. When do you believe that your lab will meet with your approval, Doctor?"

"In two more days, sir. I was told that you will be taking a tour of all of the departments before we leave dry-dock, but-" the captain held up a hand and smiled.

"If you inform me as to when your department is in the order you are looking for, Doctor, I will delay my inspection of your area until that time. I do not wish to start our tour on the wrong foot with any of my department heads," he told her reassuringly.

Grinning, she said, "I thought we department heads were supposed to be the ones worried about what foot we were on?" once the words were out of her mouth, she thought they sounded too casual, but the captain did not seem to be offended.

"As long as it is not my foot they are on, I see no reason for anyone to be worried," after a beat he grinned and she grinned too. "Not that it would hurt me if they did stand on my foot, but it would not be showing the proper respect of a commanding officer," he added, looking very much like he was thinking out loud. The image of someone standing on Captain Data's foot struck Teagan as very funny and she began to snicker. She covered her mouth quickly, but he had seen and heard. After a moment, he chuckled too.

"You are not at all what I would have expected, Captain," she noted that the butterflies that had appeared in her stomach about the time that he had entered the room were disappearing. Their meals arrived and there was silence for a moment as they both tasted the items that had been placed before them.

Over his plate, the new captain of the Repulse studied his head of the Bio- Chemistry department. He knew she was thirty-one years of age, but she did not appear to be over twenty-one. Her fiery red hair fell past her shoulders and curled slightly at the ends, but her bright golden eyes were much more intriguing to him. His own yellow eyes had often caused questions quicker then his skin colour and the gold of hers caused him to wonder about her origins. She was listed as human and as the sole survivor of an air car crash that had left her orphaned at the age of 14. Her home planet was listed as Plecx, a planet that spun on the outer edge of Federation space. Oddly, most of the inhabitants of that world were not even humanoid.

Her record was exemplary, through out her two years in StarFleet Academy and her years studying her chosen craft. Her service record under Captain Mortai was just as spotless and her previous commanding officer had obviously thought well of her by the notes he had left in her record, but had hinted that she had an enigmatic side. On the other side of the table from her, Captain Data wondered about that side of his dinner companion.

"When they are not hiding from you, do you get along with most of your staff, Doctor?" he asking, breaking the silence between them. She flushed slightly.

"I get along will with all of my staff, they just believe I am slightly too single minded about certain things. Besides being called a taskmaster more times that I would have liked today, I have no complaints. Why? Were you planning on making some changes to my staff, Captain?" He shook his head.

"Not at present. If there are any changes to be made, I believe that will become apparent by our first scheduled crew rotation in three months time. Do you not agree?"

"I'm sure they will, but you will inform me before you rotate any one of my staff off the ship, won't you....Captain?" Her tone had changed to include a bit of an edge to it and her "Captain" had been delayed a beat, causing him to suspect that she would have a few things to say if he decided to make any changes in her area without her agreement. With the best sly grin he knew how to deliver, he nodded.

"I will be sure to inform you before I have anyone beamed out, Doctor." This statement produced the desired effect and her eyes widened momentarily. It took her only a second to recover, but her eyes seemed to reflect a bit more fire when she spoke again.

"I would be most appreciative of being warned before hand, Captain, and would I still be able to have a hand in picking any replacements, should the need arise?"

"Certainly, Doctor. I would value your input," he said evenly. She sighed. Time to lighten the conversation, he decided.

"May I ask you a question, Doctor," at her nod, he continued. "Why did you invite me to join you this evening?" she looked up from her plate and faced him with a stunned expression flashing across her face.

" don't think it was inappropriate for me to..."

"No, not inappropriate, it is just that I have not been enthusiastically received by much of the crew and I sense no such hesitation from you." For a brief moment, it seemed as though some colour rose to her cheeks, but it was gone just as quickly as it appeared.

"You do have a distinct disadvantage in replacing a well liked captain instead of having an all new crew for your first posting as commanding officer." He noted that this was not truly an answer to his question.

"I could have had command of the U.S.S. Lakota when it was to be commissioned in three months, but the Repulse needed a new captain now and I saw no reason to wait," he told her. She considered this.

"I heard that you requested that chief engineer, Lt. Commander Edwards retain his posting here if he choose. You made quite an impression on him with that decision, Captain."

He smiled, "It had been my experience that engineers prefer to stay with what they consider their own engines." She grinned and nodded.

"I think you're right. He was very happy at the news that he was staying."

He returned her smile, tipped his head to the side, and gave her his distinctive amused "humph." "Perhaps that will make my meeting with him in the morning less uncomfortable." Looking more intensely into her eyes, he occurred to him that perhaps this was not something he should be discussing with just anyone. "Forgive me, Doctor, I should not be burdening you with this. It would be better if I spoke to the ship's counselor regarding my difficulties in assimilating with my new crew."

She leaned back in her chair and studied his face. "That's going to be rather difficult since our new counselor does not arrive until tomorrow, a fact I would bet my entire staff that you are perfectly well aware of, Captain." Data smiled and confirmed her assumption. "You need not worry, sir. I have no intention of saying a word about any of what is said here to anyone. Besides, as our counselor is going to be new as well, he is going to be facing some of the same difficulties as you are. He will not be able to tell you that if you take note of how high above spec our chief engineer keeps his warp field, you will be in like Flint. Or if you compliment the Astro-physic chief on what a tightly organized area she runs, she will melt in your hand. Or if you-"

"If I allow my head of bio-chemistry to reorganize her area to her satisfaction before inspecting it, she will allow me to retain my command of this vessel?" he finished for her. He was sure she blushed this time.

"Yeah, something like that..." she looked at her plate, but a wide grin graced her face. He began to chuckle and after a moment; she looked back up and him and laughed too. "I think you're going to do fine, sir."
Captain Data returned to his new quarters after his dinner with Doctor Shayza, still chuckling about some of the things that she had said. Well, he had found one person that he did not seem to have any trouble in handling. Only four hundred eighty-three more to go... He passed many crewmembers and their families as he made his way to his new home. As his ship was not to be one of the ones on the front lines, families where allowed. He had never had problems with children like his former captain, Picard, so this fact did not trouble him. When he arrived in his lavishly appointed quarters, his cat greeted him warmly. Spot had died many years ago and Data had missed her terribly. He had never gotten a new pet though, until two years ago when he and Geordi had gotten together to celebrate Data's (activation) birthday and his friend had given him a calico kitten as a gift. Data had instantly fallen in love with the little ball of fluff. He had brought her over from Utopia Planitia this afternoon and watched her sniff over the rooms before she let him know that they were acceptable to her.

He bent now to scoop her up in his arms and scratched her behind the ear as he walked over to his personal computer that had only just been installed. As his puffball fell asleep, purring in his lap, Data pulled up further information on one Doctor Teagan Shayza.
Tomorrow morning, Teagan thought to herself as she dropped into her chair behind her desk. By tomorrow morning, we should be ready for inspection. Her feet hurt and it seemed like she could feel all of the muscles in her body and they were all screaming. I'm definitely going to need some sleep tonight and maybe a long soak in the bath.

"Ok, mission accomplished, oh feared ruler, what next?" Lauralee said, pulling Teagan back in to reality. The blonde stood in the doorway to her office and leaned her lithe body against the left side. Teagan grimaced.

"That is not exactly a proper tone or comment to make to your superior officer, Lt. Apple. We don't want to give our new captain a bad impression of us, now do we?" she admonished her friend firmly. Lauralee's eyes gleamed with mischief.

"Speaking of our illustrious leader, the grapevine says that you and he were seen having dinner together last night. Is that true?" Teagan groaned, but nodded.

"Yes, but that does not mean anything. He just needed a place to sit, and I had an extra chair at my table." Teagan did not look at her friend's face, but she knew she was not going to let go of this without even seeing the other woman's expression.

"And he just happened to find an empty seat at your table only? Please, Doc, I saw the look on your face when he walked in yesterday. You were almost drooling." Teagan gasped and gapped wide-eyed and indignantly at the woman.

"I was not drooling, Lor, and I will thank you not to start any rumors of that nature!" Teagan's temper was flaring, and Apple knew better then to push her luck when this red head got hot under the collar.

"Ok, ok. What ever you say. But I still think he is out of your league." Maybe this is true, but maybe it isn't... The redhead thought as she assigned Apple her next task.
She was too tired to cook, so for the second evening in a row, Teagan headed for the lounge for her dinner. Upon entering the busy room, she found herself staring at a back that she was certain belonged to the captain. He turned almost as though he sensed her presence and smiled.

"It appears we are both too late to find a table this evening, Doctor," he said by way of greeting her. She nodded, but said nothing. He was right; every table was not only occupied, but full.

"There are two empty chairs at the bar, Doctor. Will you do me the honor of joining me?" he asked, pointing to their right. She met his bright eyes and nodded. They made their way through the crowds to the empty seats and he pulled hers out for her. Once they were seated and their orders were taken, (there was defiantly a benefit to sitting with the captain. You got waited on at once!) she finally thought of something to say to him.

"So, how did your inspections go today, Captain?"

He smiled at once. "Very well, due to your strategic suggestions, Doctor. With a few well placed positive comments to each of my officers, they were put at ease and our interviews proceeded without incident," he was very pleased with her and for some reason this made her very nervous. She found herself staring at her hands.

"I'm glad I could be of service to you, sir," she managed to say.

"How goes the progress in the Bio-chemistry lab, Doctor?" he asked after a moment of silence. She looked up quickly.

"Quite well, sir. We should be ready for your inspection tomorrow morning." He nodded, thinking over his schedule for the following day.

"Shall we say 1000 hours tomorrow then?" he offered. She raised an eyebrow at him. She suspected that he was going easy on her by saying 1000 and not earlier.

"0800 hours is fine if you would prefer, sir," she told him. He grinned.

"I wanted to give you time for last minute touches, Doctor." She laughed at this and he sighed, she was finally relaxing again.

"Could you manage 0900 hours? That way I would have too much time to second guess myself," she said in a confessional tone. He grinned and nodded his agreement, as their dinners were places before them. They chatted about the changes that Teagan had noticed it the ship. They chatted about the crowd and what he had to accomplish before the ship's scheduled departure tomorrow at noon.

"Teagan!" a male voice called from across the room, interrupting the captain as he detailed what lay ahead for the crew in the coming days. Both turned their heads to see a tall, fair and curly haired man make his way to Teagan's side. The man was built like a cross between a powerful warrior and a Grecian god. Considering the man's size it was surprising that he still moved with no lack of grace as he passed the obstacles in his way. As the captain watched the man cross, almost every female that he passed turned to flash a smile his way.

"I've been looking everywhere for you, girl. Oh, pardon me, Captain Data. I did not mean to disturb you." Ashton Uker said obviously believing that the captain just happened to be sitting there.

"Well, you found me. The captain and I were just having some dinner. What's up?" While announcing to the whole ship that she and the captain were having their second dinner together was not exactly what she wanted to do, neither did she want Ashton to misunderstand why the captain was looking a bit disturbed by the interruption Ashton's hail had caused. Ashton's deep blue eyes went wide at this bit of information.

"Oh, sorry to interrupt, I did not know you were... I'll be brief. I just wanted to make sure we were still on for Thursday and Friday as usual, Teag. Are we?" Teagan nodded.

"Yes, 19 hundred hours on Thursday?" she asked and Ashton nodded.

"And 1830 hours at your place on Friday?" he asked. Trying not to blush, she nodded.

"Yes, same as usual," she said, wondering what was going through the captain's mind at this and not wanting to find out.

With a pleased grin and a caress of her shoulder, Ashton excused himself with a proper acknowledgement of the captain before he glided away. Left alone again, or as alone as two people could be in a crowded room, the captain grinned at Teagan.

"A friend of yours, I take it?" he asked and she could not help but roll her eyes.

"Yeah...ah, yes sir. I get together with him and three others on Thursdays and music and sing together." She admitted with a sigh.

"And Fridays? Unless it is too personal." He qualified. She shook her head.

"No, it's ok. I usually host a bunch of people and we cook dinner. Well, I do most of the cooking and they do most of the eating, but we usually have a good time.

"I assume that I will not be running into you for dinner on Friday then," he concluded. She looked uncomfortable and turned to stare at her plate. Was it her imagination, or did she hear disappointment in his voice?

"No, not unless you tried looking in my quarters. That is. I mean, you could come if you wanted to." Oh god, just stop talking, a voice told her, but she failed to listen. "I never know who is going to show up from one week to the next, but everyone is welcome." He seemed to sense her discomfort and smiled casually.

"I imagine that my presence would cause your other guests to feel less than relaxed, but I will keep your offer in mind, Doctor. Thank you." Good thing he could read between the lines, she decided and smiled at him. "Perhaps I will see you tomorrow night though, and of course I will see you at 0900 hours in the morning." With this he rose from his seat and with a parting smile, turned to go.

"Captain, wait," she called to him. When he turned back to her, she flushed a little, but forced the words out. "Most of the crew does eventually show up at one of my get togethers. You did express concern over acclimating with them. Unless you wish to be more private than that..." she sighed, realizing that she was babbling and he was smiling. Taking a deep breath, she got to the point. "You really are welcome to come on Friday if you're not busy," there, she said it! He smiled appreciatively.

"Thank you, Doctor. Perhaps I could put in a brief appearance," he said, indicating an inch with his fingers and grinning with a twinkle in his eye. She smiled back.

"Great. Well, goodnight, Captain. See you in the morning, sir." He nodded his acknowledgement and turned once again to leave. With a sigh, she watched him go, noting once again the way he walked.

"Did he like his dinner?"

"What?" she looked across the bar to see their server addressing her.

"I asked if the captain enjoyed his dinner. Did he?"

"I don't know, he didn't mention it." She told him apologetically.

"How about last night? Did he mention anything about the food last night?" Teagan looked startled that someone else was aware that she and the captain had dined together two nights in a row.

"Why are you asking me? Why not just ask him yourself?" The man looked incredulous at her suggestion.

"I'm curious, not stupid, Doc. Will you ask him if he likes his dinner tomorrow and tell me, please? I really would like to know." Now Teagan looked at him indignantly.

"And what leads you to believe we will have dinner together tomorrow?" the man threw up his hands as though to ward off an attack.

"Easy, Doc. I didn't mean anything by it. I just assumed you and he were friends. You seemed at ease with each other and all. Don't you know him?" She blushed now, embarrassed by his questions and her own reaction to them. "I met him for the first time yesterday. And I doubt I will be having dinner with him again. He is a busy man and will have a lot to do tomorrow with the ship beginning her new mission. It was just a fluke that we had dinner two nights in a row, nothing more." The server nodded and backed away nervously.