This is set towards the end of series 7, about three years after my fic Private Conflict, in which Commander Data and Lieutenant Gina Monroe were held captive on an alien world. The planet Hypnos had been engaged in a bloody war with its twin planet, Thanatos, and Captain Picard had been en route to a peace conference to seal the end of the conflict when he mysteriously went missing. Data and Gina was sent to investigate but fell prey to the Hypnite prison guard Markeil, who held a strong dislike for Data and a strong like for Gina.

In this sequel, Lieutenant Monroe has settled into a regular life in Starfleet; she has pushed past events to the back of her mind, is married with a child, and is enjoying her time on the Enterprise.But after what starts off as an innocent trip to visit Markeil soon turns into a life-or-death struggle, as the Enterprise is forced to investigate a series of strange destructive tremors on Hypnos, and the cause of these disasters shocks them all. Gina and Markeil soon find, however, that there even more powerful forces at work.

It would be sensible to read Private Conflict before reading this, but it's not necessary.

I also would like to express my thanks to those of you who read Private Conflict; I hope you enjoy the sequel just as much.

As always, I'd welcome reviews :-)

Disclaimer: I don't own Star Trek, only my OCs.

Gina Monroe was sat in a shuttle bound for Hypnos. It had been three years since she had last been there. As she looked out of the windows, she could see how the planet had changed. The labour camps had all but diminished and the majority of the infrastucture was starting to be rebuilt. It made her so happy, so pleased, that the Hypnites had managed to settle their differences after that turbulent time all those years ago.

For a lot of the journey - it took many hours to get from the Utopia Planitia Ship Yards orbiting Earth to Hypnos - she had been asleep. But her slumber was often interrupted by the child sat next to her, her child. As most toddlers were, he was boisterous and noisy, and had gained the annoyed looks of many other passengers on the transport, on more than one occasion.

"Are we there yet?"

Gina cast her gaze downwards and saw her son looking up at her with his inquisitive eyes. She smiled. "I would say so," she replied, as the Starfleet engineer inside her came out and she tried to calculate the rate of descent.

An announcement soon rang out over the tanoy system, alerting the passengers that they were very nearly at their destination. Most of the people on the ship were Hypnites, probably eager to return to their homes after the upset. But there were a few of other species, like Gina and her son.

"What do you think daddy's doing?"

She shrugged and began to pack up her things. "I don't know, Jack. But he's probably very busy."

"Why isn't he coming too?"

Gina rubbed her nose and sighed. "You know daddy is at Vulcan this week, don't you? That's why you're with me. Now, let's put your coat on. It's probably cold on the surface."

As the vehicle landed on the surface of Hypnos, the pilot announced a few more messages - lost luggage, health and safety, well-wishes - that sort of thing. Then the doors were opened with a hydraulic hiss and the steps were deployed.

With the suitcases in one hand and Jack's hand in the other, Gina hobbled down the steps. A Hypnite passenger helped her with some of the bags, for which she thanked him. She had to remind her son many times not to stare at the aliens - they were only different to humans in respect to their nearly white faces, and were hardly Klingons or Breen, but there were still strange.

They had landed in the north of the planet, in one of the most congested transport hubs. There were hovercar bays and hovertrain railroads running nearby, adjacent to the off-world transport shuttles.

"Where are we going?" Jack asked as he hurried alongside his mother, hauling his stuffed dinosaur behind him.

Gina held her son back and put the luggage down, surveying the area. An interactive map stood at the side of the street. She keyed in a few coordinates, having wasted a few moments trying to figure out how the thing was meant to work.

"We're not too far, honey," she told her son, who was growing fidgety.

The street was not as busy as she had been expecting it to be. There were a few groups of people wandering about but the traffic was flowing freely and there was plenty of room to move.

Jack huffed, his little legs dawdling along beside Gina. "Are we there yet?" he asked again and again.

She smiled genially at him. "Darling, we'll get there twice as quickly if you stop complaining."

"Can't you carry me?"

"I've got all of our suitcases to carry, so no, I can't."

That put an end to that, and he seemed content to hurry along next her, pointing out things of vague interest around them.

"What is that?" he asked, his bright eyes in awe.

She squinted at the horizon. A huge tower, grey and silver, sparkling in the early evening sunlight, stood out against the stark sky. A great crater was in one side of the tower; evidently, it had been hit by some missile or another.

"Can you take Spiny?" he asked, proffering his dinosaur toy to her. "Why has that place got a hole in it?"

"I think it might have gotten a bit windy," she feigned, stuffing the toy in her bag. Yet as she looked at the crater, she could not help but wonder about the devastation that had been wrought on the planet. She had been there. Of course, she knew all too well what it was like. But she had not seen the worst of it; that, she knew. It was indeed hard for her to draw her attention away from the damaged building.

"Why are we here?" little Jack asked, his voice a high-pitched whine.

She reorganised the bags that she was carrying before answering. "Because there's someone who lives here who I wish to visit," was just about the best reply she could give.

"Do I know them?" he asked, looking up at her with big, curious eyes.

"No," she said with a shake of her head. She had only brought him because she could not get a childminder at such short notice. But she wasn't starting to regret the decision, as had been her first fear. Certainly, she wondered if it would be reckless to bring a small child - especially one as inquisitive as her Jack - to what had only recently been a war zone. But the planet and the people were getting back to their feet, and no more conflict had occurred for years even. "No, you don't know them," she added softly.

Sat on the horizon, she could just about make out what used to be the capitol building, the headquarters. Where she had spent months of her life three years previous, with the man who had basically saved her life. She wondered if she could ever thank him properly. But as those wistful memories came rushing back to her mind, she knew that she had to stop them before she went too far. Of course, he had saved her, but only after victimising her in the first place, right? Angrily, she shook her head.

Little Jack was shuffling his feet on the stony ground, getting increasingly frustrated. "Can I have Spiny back?"

At once, she was drawn out of her reverie. She sighed and drew the plush dinosaur out of the bag. "Yes, but you keep hold of him now. I'm not putting him away again."

Excitedly, he retrieved the toy dinosaur, hugging it close to his small chest. "Can we go now?"

She drew out a padd from her pocket and studied it closely for a moment. Pulling up some files, she frowned. "Uh, yes, yes," she said to her son, not looking at him. "Mummy's just a bit lost." In contemplation, she bit her lip.

A shadow loomed over her. Startled briefly, she looked up. "What are you-" she began, her voice accusatory and irritated, but it mellowed when she realised who she was talking to. "I know you, don't I?"

He shrugged and smiled, his extraordinarily pale face shining out against the darkening sky. "My name's Nilal," he replied simply, regarding her closely. Hunkering down to his knees, he smiled at Jack. "And who's this?"

Gina watched his facial expressions intently. No doubt, he was trying to gauge if the boy's skin colour was pale enough to suggest Hypnite genetics.

Jack shrunk back from the man and clung to his mother's leg.

Gina set her luggage down on the ground and picked him up in her arms, soothing him. "There's no need to be frightened, Jack," she said softly, stroking his head. "This is Nilal. He's a friend of mummy's."

Nilal nodded to the dinosaur toy that Jack was clutching tightly. "Now that's a strange beast, isn't it?"

Jack rewarded him with a small smile.

"What are you doing here, if I may ask?" Nilal asked her, as he gathered up some of her suitcases in to his arms, despite her protests.

"I'm visiting Markeil," she replied bluntly; what was the point in being secretive? "But I seem to be lost."

Nilal chuckled quietly. "Oh, I see," he said, before being silent for a while, apparently at a loss as to what to say. "Well, I've joined the Science Commission," he added.

She smiled. "That's a big leap from secretary," she teased.

The corner of his mouth tugged up in a smirk. "Personal assistant, I think it was," he corrected, with an air of mock-indignance. "Right, well, uh, Markeil, you say? You're in the right place."

"I'm bored," Jack complained, pulling at the spines of his plush dinosaur.

"Jack, be quiet," she ordered curtly, and the boy soon fell silent. "I know more or less where Markeil lives now. We have been in contact - sort of."

A mischievous glint remained in Nilal's eye, but he did not give it voice, for which Gina was quite thankful. "Well, his job's gotten him quite a grand place," he continued. "Give me your padd and I'll have a look."

She did so, and he checked up a few things on the device, before nodding in understanding and looking up at the sky. "Ah, yes," he mouthed, rubbing his forehead. "You see that great big grey building there?" He pointed due east, right near what appeared to be a brand new building. Not exactly a building, more a complex. A huge complex, with sprawling roads and wires leading out of it. It was a few dozen metres wide and high, with a single flag protruding on a large pole out of the building's center. The dying afternoon sunlight glinted off of the shiny, glass exterior in a way that was almost magical. It could have been plucked straight out of a fairytale. She found herself reminded of those stories that her mother would read to her before she went to bed when she was younger. Not holonovels but real books. She thought of Hans Christian Anderson.

She looked on in awe. "That is indeed a grand place," she echoed. It was a far cry from the crowded, dark place that she had last seen Markeil in. Times had indeed changed. "Well, thank you for the directions," she said, giving Nilal an appreciative look. "Jack, say thank you to Nilal."

Nilal smiled at the pair of them, but gestured to the the bags that she was carrying. "Do you want me to carry these for you?"

She smiled genially, thankfully. "That would be kind of you." She squinted at the great building in the distance - Markeil's new home - and frowned. "It'll be quite a walk."

"Now, it wouldn't exactly be fair for you to walk, would it? Especially not with this one in tow." He gave her a wry smile; it seemed that Jack understood his meaning, for his face achieved a suspicious look. "I'll drive you, if you want."