Chapter 1

I no longer felt the pain. I had grown so accustomed to it, that it hardly mattered to me anymore. I just…didn't want to die. Not here, not on this abandoned M-class planet. Not on my face, blind and too weak to crawl my way to shelter…Was all of it for nothing? My illustrious escape from the iron hands of the Tal Shiar? My right arm and left leg were broken. My left arm was numb, and my right leg—I didn't even know what was going on with it.

My cheek brushed against course dirt. I shut my eyes, but the motion didn't do anything. I had been blind for the past—how long…? I didn't know, but they had injected me with a hypospray for the sole purpose of watching me fumble around, sightless. A shiver chorused through my small frame at that particular memory. That was not one of the ones I had wanted to stick…Who knew that the Romulans would so quickly revert to the way it was before the Dominion War. Almost as soon as it was over, they had dropped out of the Alliance and went back across the Neutral Zone, but not without solidifying their firm hold on several systems just outside of it first.

I was the helmsman on the only galaxy-class starship near one of the systems they were after. Of course, we tried to negotiate and talk them out of it, but they wouldn't hear it. They had those systems before they entered the Alliance, and they wanted to keep them. If only they would have waited another year…the Federation would have given it to them in good faith! But no. I was never one for luck, as some called it. The battle was gruesome, and most of the crew on my ship was killed. There were only a handful of survivors.

And then there was me.

Lieutenant Anderson: half Human and half Romulan. When they couldn't persuade me to defect...

I shuddered and winced. Ignoring the pain wasn't going to work much longer. I could almost feel the individual granules of sand digging into my cheek as I lay there, helpless. The fingers to my left hand dug into the dirt, as if clinging to the very ground that had helped create it. Stop the memories…stop…it's the only way to stay sane…Water pooled around my cheek, mixing with the dirt. My eyes were burning inside.

Something warm grazed the back of my head and started petting my matted hair. A voice whispered above me, cooing in a language I could not understand. My Universal Translator had been taken away from me ages ago…A pair of strong, male hands gathered my pathetic form into the alien's arms. I could tell that he was some sort of humanoid.

"No! No!" I shrieked and attempted to claw at where I assumed his face to be, but screamed when I shifted my right arm. "Let me go!" The words were flying out of my mouth faster than I could think. It was instinct; pure, unadulterated instinct. I wanted to run, I wanted to hide, and most of all, I wanted to be alone. He'd hurt me. He'd beat me, he'd flay me…no one ever helped another out without a price these days…

"Let me go! Please! Just let me be alone! I am nothing to you! Leave me!" His voice grew stronger than the quiet coos he had issued moments ago, but the tone was soft and caring. It was almost warm. It's a trick! It's a Tal Shiar trick! He'd take me back to Koval, where—

The voice was cooing again. I lay on my back. I had been drifting in and out of consciousness for quite some time. Every time I stirred, the humanoid alien was standing above me, cooing…whispering what I wished to be encouragement. Every so often, he'd run his hands over my face and tap my arm and leg. When is he going to hurt me? When is he going to force his way with me? I was not about to trust him just because his voice was nice. The Tal Shiar would do the same thing; patch me up and heal my broken bones, minus the soft voice, of course. Then, they'd throw me right back into it.

The alien sat down so that he could hover over me. His warm finger traced my angular eyebrows and he started talking. I shuddered. The pain. It was going to come back. He had successfully mended my broken limbs and now…now was payback. With a sudden shout, I scrambled off the bed he had laid me on and fell to the floor. My mouth was moving, screaming, crying…I crawled across the floor, letting my bare hands, knees, and feet slap against it until I crashed into the nearest wall. I huddled against it, as if it was some sort of energy shield…

How pathetic you are, Lillian! Cowering and sobbing in a corner! Warmth closed in on me as the alien either sat or squatted in front of me. His hand grasped my wrist, which I promptly slapped away. I pressed myself against the wall as hard as I could. Part of me wished I could just melt into it.

His voice danced in the silence of my tears as I felt him come closer. He grabbed both of my wrists and pinned them together with one hand. His other arm slid around my back side.

"Leave me alone! I just want to be alone!" The alien scooped me up into his arms and carried me back to the bed. His stiff clothing brushed against my naked skin. I had been through too much to get embarrassed over something so petty. He whispered some things, laid me down, and dropped a soft sheet over me. His hands went back to explore my eyebrows, where he had started.

It had gone this way for several days. Each time, he won. No matter how hard I cried, clawed, or spit at him, he'd scoop me up and put me back where he wanted me. It was usually his couch now that my wounds had healed. He had me sit there while he muddled about his quarters—wherever this place was. He'd speak to me, always softly, and sit beside me. He liked to touch me, and I was keen enough to know it was nothing perverted. I was probably the first Vulcanoid he had ever seen.

I drew my legs to my chest. He had given me a simple dress that felt like it could have been something as fine as Andorian silk. My cheek rested on my left knee as I "watched" him prepare the midday meal. I had spit at him that morning…A soft moan escaped my lips. I could feel my insides sting…wetness saturated the fine silk covering my knee.

He stopped moving plates around. His deft footsteps glided to the other side of his small house. His movements were always fluidic, as if he was some sort of high bred diplomat. I shut my eyes and waited. Maybe this time I wouldn't lash out…The wetness spread, it dripped from eyes as hot as any warm bath, but went cold as it slipped into my dress.

I waited.

And waited.

"Alien?" I whispered in the darkness. "Alien?" I slid off of the couch and felt my way towards the kitchen. Had I really done it? Had I finally crossed his line? He had been nothing but kind to me, and had asked nothing in return. I stumbled around the countertop in the direction that I had last heard him.

"Alien!?" Don't leave me! I felt my entire body tremble at the thought. My knee hit something hard, causing me to fall. I crashed into something hard and slipped to the floor. "Alien!" I crawled on all fours. "Alien!"

His hand came down on my head, and his fingers caressed my scalp.

"Alien," I let out a sob. He removed his hand and grabbed my arms, helping me to my feet. I felt along his chest, for his face, but he held my wrists firmly in place and set them back onto his chest.

"Alien," I continued to sob. My hands shook as my fingers feebly grabbed the stiff tunic he wore. I buried my head into him. "I'm so sorry." He was so warm… "I swear, from now on, I will be better. You've slept next to me, held me, and-" The rest was muffled into an onrush of tears. The tears were hot and didn't cool once they left my eyes. "I'm sorry…Alien, I'm so sorry!"

A gentle hand pressed against my lower back while the other continued to linger around my arms and hands.

It was blissful, and everything a person could ever dream for. It was the essence of what the Federation was made of. The days and nights were wonderful. Alien—I had taken to calling him that since he didn't seem to have a name of his own, or at least not in the way that we humanoids understood the notion. I was still trying to figure that one out. Alien was kind and caring. His voice was akin to the beautiful Sirens that ancient human poets sang about in their whimsical tales.

We slept side by side. In the mornings, he'd lead me to the couch, where we'd sit in absentminded mutterings. He'd speak for a while as I lay in his lap. His fingers roamed over me and my hair. Afterwards, he'd let me speak. I usually ended up grabbing his hands and kissing them, pressing them against my lips and cheeks. He never let me touch his face…I never dwelled on the strange aversion to it, but part of me always wondered if it was some strange tradition of his people, whatever they were.

"Alien, I love you," I whispered as I grazed the back of his left hand with my lips. His other hand was buried deep into my long hair. I felt him press his face against the back of my head. "Alien…" I leaned into him, and he shot his head up almost instantly.

"I'm going to go 'watch' the marketplace," I said with a sigh. Alien grazed my cheek with his warm fingers and said something. His voice was so alluring, that there were times I had to pause because it left me breathless. Was it because we had never danced in his bedchambers as lovers, that such small, gestures were so seductive? It didn't matter to me. I gave his hand a rough kiss as I slid off the couch.

"Marketplace," I emphasized. There was a hill just behind Alien's property that overlooked the local marketplace. I had been dead wrong about my escape plans. This planet was anything but abandoned. I liked to lie on the hill during market days and listen to the chatter in the valley below. Alien had guided me there several weeks ago because I had been wandering about his home, suffering from that ancient plague known as Cabin Fever.

I knew how to feel my way around the small garden that I had started with Alien's help. It had been easy to draw it out in the dirt for him to understand what I wanted. I loved our garden…

I drifted towards the back door past the kitchen, stretching my arms out here and there to make sure I hadn't veered too close to anything. When I made it to the door, I took ten steps to my immediate left, turned, and started for the hill. It was warm today. I could feel the planet's sun caress my bare arms and feet. I liked it.

I picked up my skirts and skipped. The ground always felt soft beneath my feet. I stopped when I felt a sudden, steep incline. "Fifty steps," I whispered. When I got to my favorite spot, I sat down and lay on my side.

I shut my eyes and could hear the closest vendor banging on his metal pipes. I assumed him to be some sort of blacksmith. Voices haggled, shouted, and cheered, filling my mind with a thousand images of Alien's people. What did they look like? Were they a vibrant shade of blue like the Andorians? Or were they green, like Orion pirates? I ran a finger over my silky skirt at the thought.

Several bells chimed, announcing some midday tradition of importance. Feet drummed through the marketplace as the locals rushed towards the sound of the bells. The voices grew louder and more excited as some silent proclamation pleased them. There were days when they booed, days when the chatter seemed apathetic, and then excitable days. I smiled. Would Alien go down there today? He bartered on a weekly basis for food and trinkets. He had an entire box full of stone figures and statues in our bedroom. What he traded in return, I was never able to glean.

I yawned with a lazy smirk and stretched my feet legs out. Today seemed fair weather for a nap, I decided.

Something dangled in my face. My eyelids fluttered open, but of course, I saw only blackness. I could feel a shadow hovering over me. An old woman's voice crooned a twisty greeting. Something that felt like cold smoke wafted over my open eyes.

"Yes?" I asked. A metallic object dropped onto my chest, and I grabbed it. It felt like a broach. The cold, gaseous substance pooled around my eyes. I screamed. Light burned with a sudden intensity.

"Shh, child. You are alright. Blink thrice." I blinked, but not because she had ordered me to.

"You speak Federation standard?" I blinked several more times. She stood over me wearing a dark blue cloak with the cowl pulled low. Her hands were neatly tucked away into the folds of her robes.

"Oh my gods, I can see."