Starfleet Command, San Francisco

Administrative Affairs Office

An attractive Asian woman, somewhere in her thirties, enters a small conference room. She is wearing a Starfleet uniform. Her face is expressionless but her eyes seem cold somehow. An older man is seated at a table, reading a PADD. Hearing her come in, he looks up and smiles. They were alone. She sat across the table from him, her eyes taking in the room in all its beaurocratic neutrality. Everything about it was bland, impersonal. The images of lush planets and vivid space scenes hung on the beige wall, the United Federation of Planets flag in the corner, even the odorless air that permeated every square inch of the building.

The older man excused himself as he finished reading his PADD. The information was obviously important, about her no doubt. Commander Jennifer Yoshii observed him as he finished his reading. She had met him before. What was his name again, she thought?

It was ironic how she could forget the person's name who held the key to her future. It was not like her at all. Yoshii was sharp as a tack, a no-nonsense kind of officer. She received the nick name the "Ice Queen" from her subordinates. She was what the masses called a bitch, but despite her icy attitude, she got the job down ... well. Her accommodations spoke for themselves. Suddenly, his name popped into her head. It was Captain Black. She let out an internal sigh of relief. Her mindset was back. All this drama had been clouding her thought process, but if there was a change in her situation, the drama would quickly disappear. Her future was in Black's hands.

Breaking the silence, Captain Black spoke.

Did you have a good leave, Commander?

His words hung there like a stage curtain, hiding from view the reason they were sitting in this
windowless room with its aesthetically neutral trappings, designed by some nameless psychologist to create an environment that would reduce anxiety.

"Fine, thank you Captain." she replied.

"Good", he pauses briefly to take a breath, "Alright, then. We might as well cut to the chase", another pause, his eyes drop to the PADD in front of him, then back up to meet her gaze, "The review board has denied your appeal.

Yoshii said nothing but her heart sank. Why was she still being tortured by the affects of the Valkurak War? The Federation had been at war with the Valkurak Alliance, a bunch of misguided terrorists wanting most of the galaxy as their property. During the war, the Alliance had used an ingenious weapon, that injected a parasite into an enemy's body. The parasite then bred and would feed on its host's internal organs, killing him or her within a matter of days. The parasite was known as the Ceserae Virus. If treated, it could be kept at bay, but its abstraction was not so easy. It was a long delicate process. It the Ceserae larva was removed too quickly, it killed the host instantly.

Unfortunately for Yoshii, she had been injected with the virus during the war and was relieved of duty. This was torture in itself; forget the virus. The only light in all of this was that the war was over, and Starfleet had won.

Yoshii sighed.

"It's because of this thing in me?"

Black nodded.

"Yes. Until the Ceserae larva can be removed, Starfleet Medical has declared you ineligible
for deep space service."

Yoshii's jaw clenched involuntarily. It wasn't a surprise, but still she had hoped for...what? For the
doctors and beaurocrats to change their minds? Decide the risk that a monster would awake inside her was acceptable? That wouldn't happen, couldn't happen. She knew it, hell, she would have decided the same thing in their shoes, but that did nothing to lessen the pain.

"I understand." she said.

It was a weak reply, but what else could she say?

"Jennifer, you a damn good officer, you won't be grounded long. They'll find a way to get that thing out of you", Black pauses, "And I've recommended you for XO as soon as you're cleared. In the meantime, the Advanced Tactical School is looking for an instructor, I think you should apply.

Yoshii nodded to the Captain's recommendation but she wanted more ... so much more. The thought of being planet-side made her stomach turn, which was in no way correlated by the virus.

Starfleet Academy, San Francisco

Science Department

The halls were chaos. Students spilled out of their classes and headed this way and that, to a new destination. It was a typical day at the academy. Hot shot cadets, with delusions of grandeur, trying to forge their careers in Starfleet. Amongst the crowd, a small squirrelly type of man, weaseled through, voicing his pardons as he passed. The man seemed panicked, as if in search for the cure for death. He continued through the crowd, making little progress. His eyes scanned the hall, hoping to find who he was looking for. He pushed a student aside and barreled through the clutter. Where could he be, thought the man? Suddenly, he spotted the person he was searching for, Commander Evan James McNamara, a professor in Physics (Quantum Mechanics and Relativity Specialist).

The squirrelly man cried out.

"Commander! Commander!"

Evan McNamara was leaned against a wall, with his arms crossed. He appeared to have not a care in the world, as he flirted jovially with one of his co-eds. McNamara was quite the ladies man. A young and attractive man, Evan seemed to have control of any situation. He practically ran the science department, which was odd because of his youth. Evan was only twenty-seven and already considered a leading mind in Physics. He was one of the most knowledgeable men regarding wormholes, voids, warp drive, and time travel. His theories were considered required reading at the academy.

Evan seemed to have it all. He had great looks, and was a scientific genius. However, due to his many achievements, he came off arrogant and cocky. He had a strong case of alpha-male syndrome.

"Commander!" shouted the man.

McNamara turned from the attractive co-ed, saw the nervous man, and sighed.

"What is it, Davis?"

"This communiqué just came for you. It's from Starfleet Command and is posted urgent."

This struck in cord in Evan. He massaged the light scar on his check, a wound he received during his service time on the USS Enterprise. McNamara had been seriously injured in the Son'a attack, during the Briar Patch incident. The Son'a had fired upon the Enterprise and he ended up severely cut by the starship's shrapnel, just under the left eye. Doctors treated his wound but said he would permanently have a scar on his cheek.

Evan quickly excused himself from his company and walked with Ensign Davis. He took the PADD and read it as they headed back to the main office. Davis eyed the commander the entire time. He was extremely curious as to what the communiqué said.

"Son-of-a-bitch." stated Evan, as he entered through some sliding doors.

"What? What is it?"

McNamara entered his office, with Davis on his heels.

"I have to leave, Davis. Contact Professor Xhai and have him find someone to cover my classes."

Ensign Davis ran a hand through his thinning hair. He was nervous.

"When will you be returning?"

"I don't know, Davis. I don't know. Something big has come up."

"If you don't mind me asking sir, what's come up?"

Evan McNamara met Davis' gaze. The commander was evidently concerned.

"I can't tell you." stated Evan, resolutely.

To Be Continued …..