"Truce" By Lt. J'van D'nalls Lt. Sara Crusher Lieutenant J'van D'nalls sat at his desk, pouring over the numerous reports on Cardassia, from both accredited Federation Authorized sources, and from other sources that Starfleet would be quite upset if they knew he was reading. But this was more then just another mission. This was more then the Federation, more then anything until this moment. It was the protection of his love, and of a woman that he hardly knows, yet, his instincts scream to him that she is important to something, sometime in the future. What exactly that is, he does not know, but it is irrelevant. He has always trusted his instincts. It got him off Cardassia alive once before, and it will again. The reports proved quite interesting. Most sources agree that they are rebuilding. People that are close to the Empire know a bit more though. There is still Maquis agents in the Cardassian general society. The reports that they have gotten out are the most interesting. According to them, the government is rebuilding, but slowly. More importantly, they do not seek out any sort of aggression against the Federation, merely for the fact that they know they are no where near prepared to fight the Federation at this point. They are even making diplomatic inquires with the Federation, allegedly aimed at a peaceful agreement, maybe even their eventual application to join the Federation. Of course, that will take a long time. What was important now was the task at hand, but these reports certainly did help to ease his mind. Sara walked slowly down the long winding corridors of deck one. A bit preoccupied by both the PADD she was reading with the virus information she was asked to gather and from her morning of target shooting in the gym with Cyanah. She barely noticed the fact that she was walking in the general direction of the main security office and when she finally did look up from her PADD and noticed herself standing in front of Lt. D'nalls' office door, she wasn't quite sure how she had ended up there. When she had left her quarters, only a few minutes earlier after changing from her jumpsuit into her uniform, she had meant to head to sick bay. Perhaps it was the fact that she wanted to explain her out busts yesterday, or even the fact that she needed to know he was going along and that Cyanah would be safe. As she reached for the call button she figured it was a bit of both. J'van continued to read, while doing so; he prepared a report to be given to the senior staff. He wanted them all to know that the treat, albeit still very prevalent, was not quite as bad as anticipated. He looked up for a moment, as his instincts told him someone was near, someone needed him. It was probably Rhiannon. He could so feel the fear that leapt from her heart. His only wish was to make it all go away, but that was impossible. As he looked back at his research, his door chime sounded. The door slid open as he gave his customary greeting. "Yes?" He said, as someone other then whom he was expecting stepped forward. It was Sara Crusher. Was she back for yet another confrontation? Hopefully not. He had enough to deal with on Cardassia and in his own mind and spirit to have to watch for barbs from his own shipmates. "Do you have a moment Lt.?" Sara asked as she stepped into the room. "Of Course, Doctor. Please, Come in…" He stated as he stood to greet her properly. He surely did not want to upset her any more. On Betazed, a man always stood to greet a women, it was a sign of respect. To not do so was an insult to the Lady's family. He was certainly not going for that at this point. As he stood, he indicated the chair in front of his desk with a wave of his hand. Sara walked into the office and for the first time noticed the Betazoid art work and artifacts that accented its decor. She laughed inwardly at herself of a moment. Of course she didn't notice the room yesterday. In the mood she was in the room could have been full of Nausicaans and on fire and she wouldn't have noticed. Sara smiled politely at Lt. D'nalls as he offered her the chair in front of his desk. "Thank you." She began as she sat down in the chair. "Lt. About yesterday... I feel I own you a bit of an apology" He stood for a moment, looking her over as she moved. His tactical mode was there, as always, sizing her up, noting weak points. A slight inward sigh never quite made it to his lips as he thought to himself that he should probably try not to automatically calculate the most effective and efficient way of killing someone every time they come to talk to him. But, that was his conditioning. 'Know Your Enemy.' Always the biggest point made at the Academy, in the Marines, and pretty much in life in general. Still, it got to be rather bothersome at times like this. He still wondered why she was here, and for that matter, where the attack would be coming from this time. "An Apology… All right" He stated as he slowly sat down, his eyes on her the whole time. A note of a possible deception crossed his mind. She might be a Trojan Horse. Sure, she seems friendly now, but once she had his confidence that she was not a threat. Wait, wait, wait! She was not an enemy! Damn it, D'nalls, get it together. Sara kept her voice level and some what cold. Her opinion of matters they had, 'discussed' yesterday were still the same. Even though he was trying in his own way to help, she still felt he could have done it in a more tactful way. The fact that she lost her temper and was rather harsh with him was another matter. "I had a really bad morning... Which is no excuse for my rash behavior... But I took your comments as a person attack on my abilities and for that misunderstanding I am sorry." "Concerning the telepathic communications?" He asked, studying her face. He knew that she was apologetic for the emotional outburst, but obviously, she still felt at least a bit of resentment. Maybe rightly so, he could have handled it better, perhaps. Sara nodded her head and became a bit uncomfortable. Her empathic and telepathic abilities have always been a score spot for her. She's always felt the need to defend herself when her Betazoid heritage and 'blood' quality were questioned. "Yes." She replied simply. "I can accept that of course... I did not mean to insult you in any way, I hope you realize that." He stated, truthfully. Pissing her off was not his goal. Her own Privacy and that of her mate was his concern, and security issues, which were not very well defined, made it seem more appropriate for him to take action. "I do now that I have had time to think about what you said.. And in light of what's going on the last thing I want is to endanger Cyanah in any way because we're both new to this." She explained. "I understand. I do not want either of you endangered either." He replied, as he watched her speak of Cyanah, he could feel the passion radiate from her like heat from a bare flame. He knew that feeling, all too well. Sara could tell he really meant that and despite her better judgment started to relax a little. Very little. "In fact, I do have some news about our mission that you may find to be good news." He stated, thinking of the reports he had been reading. She was curious now. She leaned forward a bit as her left eyebrow raised. "Do tell Lieutenant." She said with a half grin. "It seems that the Cardassian government has changed quite a bit." He started. Sara sat back in her chair again and crossed her legs as she waited for him to go on. With a little prodding of course. "Changed in what ways? If I may ask." "It is being lead by someone that basically the Federation and Klingon's jointly placed in power." He stated, recalling the facts that he had read numerous times in reports from various sources. Nodding as she listened. Sara couldn't decide if this was a good thing or a bad thing. As for now she was keeping it as a bad thing. "Really.. Which means there is only a slightly smaller risk of something going wrong." "Well, I would consider it a much less risky endeavor. Their government knows full well that if they attack a federation crew, they will have the Federation and the Klingons at their doorstep in a matter of hours. And although they have been rebuilding, their military power is a mere shadow of what it once was." He countered. "Having one Cardassian involved makes the risk higher then I like Lt." She said coldly. She had never been a fan of the large reptilian race to begin with. You don't grow up in a star fleet family with a liking of Cardassians. But now that her life was about to be affected directly by them, she really hated them. "I agree, completely..." He continued. Then, his face distorted. The murkiness within it seemed so very intense as hatred and self loathing welled up into his throat. "Before I came to be a part of Starfleet, I was in the Fleet Marine Command Corps. I lead a few missions into Cardassia... I watched them brutally kill close friends of mine. The Gods were not with me so far from Betazed." He stated, his lip curling into a sneer. Sara nodded her head and felt her heart sink as the lieutenant told his story. She couldn't help but remember the look on her mother's face when she had learned of her Aunt's mission to Cardassia. The tone in her Aunt's voice as she talked about what they had done to someone she cared about. It still after all this time made Sara's stomach turn. "I'm sorry for you loss, Lieutenant. I had no idea." "It will not happen again. It looks like I will probably be on this mission... and I give you my word that Cyanah will return." He stated as his face turned from grim to somewhat more assuring. "I still don't understand why she was picked for this." Sara confessed. The concern and worry for her Imzadi's safety etched on her face and clear in her voice with its slight tremble. "She's not joking when she says she's not a fighter." "I know. But I know something else too, that I have yet to be able to explain. Your too close to her to see it I think." He said as he searched her face, knowing her fear without the need for anything remotely telepathic. Sara looked a bit puzzled at that comment. "To close to see what?" She wondered. "When I look at her, I can not help but think that she has a sort of unfulfilled destiny. Like there is a lot more to her then meets the eye... like she is more then she seems. That is what the Captain sees, I am sure." He revealed to her. Sara smiled brightly as she always did when talking about Cy. "I see it at times... There is so much more to her then most people see." "I think there is more then she sees as well." Nodding in agreement; Sara sighed a bit. "But isn't there a bit of that in all of us... A part of us that we don't see; a part we keep hidden for one reason or another even from ourselves." "Yes, there is... but in her... I don't know, I can't give it words, but there is something within her... And, forgive me, but I am a very protective man. Since my... incident... with the Cardassians.... I have been very protective of my charges." He stated as he thought back to the incident. "It does help to know you will be going along." Sara told him as she began to allow herself to relax more around him. Any one who could see even a glimmer of what she sees in Cyanah is ok in her book. Even if they could use a few more classes in tact. "If it comes down to it... I will give my life to protect her, just as I would my own Imzadi... Who will also be on the mission." He stated a bit quieter, but still comprehendible. Regret tinged the words. Sara for the most part is a bright girl, but for some reason missed the implications of that statement. Maybe because of the sudden rush of guilt over her Imzadi comment the day before. "About the remark I made yesterday about you not understanding about Imzadi.. I didn't mean it." She said with a warm color to her cheeks. "I know. But, in some ways, I don't. You're correct. I don't know what to do, what to say..." He said with a sigh of admission. "How to feel, how to explain to them what this means for us. The fear of them not wanting to deal with it and running." She added. "Yes. I mean, I've been with women before... as you've been with men before... but, of course, none of this leaves this office." Sara blushed a deep crimson at the mention of being with other men. Dating she's done, but until Cyanah the other implications weren't true. Although on some level she was kind of flattered that he would think she was more of a worldly woman then she really was. "Of course Lieutenant. It stays between us." She confirmed when she finally realized he had said something to her. "If Rhi finds out that others know... she may not be happy." He thought about it, and knew that she needed to know that she was in charge, and people knowing about her personal life might lend to lack of discipline. The look of shock on her face must have been plan as day even if it only lasted for a second, but she tried her best to cover. Had he just said Rhi.. As in Rhiannon.. As in Rhiannon Morrigan.. The same one that Cyanah had told her that she was in the middle of something with. This was his Imzadi. Sara suddenly felt a slight head rush as she realized the position she was now in. "You didn't know?" He asked. "Surprise Surprise..." He added with a smile. Sara quickly tried to cover her discomfort at her new found knowledge. "In case you haven't noticed... I'm trying to get past a fear of her... So dipping into her personal life would not be a way to do that." "Of course. You could not possibly see her as I do... no one can. She is so deep in her shell. But, she needs it that way. She cloaks herself in Duty.... Sometimes I know that whatever I feel for her would never be able to be more then her sense of duty is. You are lucky... At least the Delosians are much more... liberal... then Humans or Bajorans." He concluded finally. "Yes." Sara began with a bright smile. "I am very lucky to have found someone like Cy.. She understands me, and tries to understand our ways more then anyone else ever has." Then with a laugh she added. "And trust me humans are not liberal in the least." "Most think our ways are perverted." He stated, dismissingly. Again Sara knew all to well that he was right about that one, as she recalled Joshua’s reaction in her office which had been the catalyst to her really bad morning. "They do not matter. Cy and Rhi matter. You and I matter." He charged boldly. Sara grinned and nodded in agreement. And she couldn't help but notice that the big bad marine was sounding more and more Betazoid. "Other then that... family... friends... they matter... but not nearly as much. You know, I can feel the tightness in your chest when I say her name?" He said with a slight grin. Another bright smile tugged at Sara's lips as she softly blushed. "I never thought I would find my Imzadi. I'm not full Betazoid and it always seemed a myth to me." She started. Then she felt the tears again. Damn tears didn’t seem to wait to leave her be. "Perhaps even more now that I have her and there's a looming chance I'll lose her." She added softly. "I swear on the very Janaran Falls that she will be safe, Sara. You know, I have never even bothered thinking of such things before. I have been a military man. I have been more concerned with killing and staying alive to even fathom such a thing. And now, suddenly… here we are." He looked off a bit in interspection. Sara was grateful that D'nalls would be going and that he was promising her that he would keep Cy safe. " I'm going to hold you to that Lt.. You better then anyone know what a pissed off Betazoid is like." "Oh yes... Especially the females. The tirades of Lwaxana Troi are still used by Federation Attaché's as prime examples of what happens when you insult a Betazoid female." He smiled as he recalled some of the stories he had heard about the Troi family. Sara couldn't help but laugh. Which felt good to do since she hadn't really allowed herself to laugh since yesterday morning before she had left for sick bay. "You know Lieutenant.. I have wondered about you since the day you came aboard... Not may of our people take up such lines of work." "Well, Feel free to ask me whatever you like. And please, J'van…" He demanded with a coy smile. "Alright... J'van," She agreed returning the smile. "As soon as I was 12, my father insisted that I join a Military school. He was a General in the Betazed Defense Alliance. So, J'rar Military school... 4 years younger then most of the students... I graduated in 3 years... It usually takes 7-10... Let's say I was a 'prodigy'. So much so that a Starfleet recruiter came to Betazed on the sole purpose of recruiting me into the Starfleet Officer Training Corps. Sara knew the underlining story well. "Ah.. Family traditions.. The whole son of this house; daughter of that one ideal." She said. The sense of family destiny, pride and honor were drilled into the children of the 13 noble houses at an early age. Loving drilled of course. The idea of being privileged when your born into one of these families was always percent. Ideals that Sara was raised with but walked away from. Although she is very proud of being Betazed, she couldn't care less about the dumb old tarnished sliver shield and old leather book that were collecting dust in her Grandmother's sitting room. Which is why no where in her records is her linage mentioned. "Yes, exactly. So, I was not about to spend another minute in any school... I enlisted as a Fleet Marine. My mother was furious... I think she still is." He mused a bit, remembering how angry she was. "I know the feeling well.. My Grandmother could be Mrs. Troi's clone." She said with a chuckle. "Ahh. I am sure you know it well then. So, I started active duty as a marine. Quick promotions, before long, I was an officer. I was put into Special Operations. Then, along came the Dominion." He stated with a sigh. "Which lead to your missions on Cardassia." Sara added. "Oh yes... but that was my last mission." He said a bit more reserved and quiet. Sara was glad she included J'van in her prayer last night. "J'van.. Is it safe for you to be returning?" "Sara... I've killed thousands... tens of thousands even... Can you comprehend that?" He stated, his voice turned a bit sharp, jagged. Her heart sank and she wept inwardly as she shook her head. "In a way, I helped liberate Cardassia... hell, if anyone there knew what I did, I might get a medal. But, that past is classified, so they will never know." He laughed almost at the irony. "The past is better left in the past. But it still has a way of making its voice heard." She remarked. "Very true, you know what my specialty was?" "What?" She asked. "I took teams of men.. 6... sometimes a few more... and we took specially designed shuttles, with cloaks on them... We would sneak up to a Dominion Capitol ship... get into their shields.. Then, transport over. We had one of two missions from there. Either destroy the ship, or take it over." He finished with a heavy sigh. He closed his eyes, and shook his head a bit. "Poor bastards had no idea we were even there. The Jem'Hadar, fine, killing them was easy, they did not have souls. Neither did a lot of the Cardassians for that matter. But, every once in a while, there would be a crew of mixed origins, from conquered worlds..." His voice dripped with first contempt, then compassion. "You could sense them.. I can see it." She said fighting back tears once again. She was starting to getting better at that as the hours ticked slowly by. "Most people would say what I have done is evil... the acts of a heartless, soulless beast..." Sara wanted to comfort him but she wasn't sure how. Perhaps just by allowing him to talk about it. She couldn't imagine having to do what he had done. She couldn't see how a human would be able to, let alone an empath. "You were trained to kill with your hands, but never shown how to shut off what it is that makes you Betazed." "Not even that.. But.. to look into the eyes of someone as you take their life from them... Maybe they are right. Sometimes, I wonder if I do have a soul.. Or a conscience what so ever." His voice raising as he stood and turned away, not wanting his face to betray his self loathing, even though his words already had. "What makes me different from the Jem'Hadar?" He questioned. Sara stood and turned to look in J'van's direction. "The fact that it bothers you proves you have a conscience J'van. A heartless beast wouldn’t be feeling the remorse you are feeling. And as far as a soul... With out one you would have never found the Captain." "You see now... she and Cy have to be safe..." He said after drawing in a long deep breath. "I do." She said softly. "Someone believes in me... and to fail them, or you, or this crew, would destroy me. That is why I am such a hard ass... not because of the military training... It's because I can never fail anyone again... Too many have lost their lives due to my failure." He said as he turned back toward her. Sara leaned on the edge of his desk looking for the right words. "Things happen for a reason J'van.. You were put though that to prepare for this." He nodded slowly. Then said. "I hope you feel a bit better about this mission." She placed a hand on her torso where a tight knot had formed. "I do feel better... But the fear in the pit of my stomach, it's not going anywhere until I have her in my arms again, safe and in one piece and we're across the boarder and back in our own space." There was a brief moment of silence before J‘van when on. "There will be a Klingon task force here in about 40 hours...Should I fail." He said with a slight grin, as he took out a small transmitter device and handed it to her. Sara took the device and looked it over. "What is it?" She asked. "This is preset to the frequency that they will respond to. If I fail... tell them... they will know what to do. I was going to give that to Andros... but... you have much higher stakes in this I think." He explained to her carefully. Holding the tiny device so tightly her knuckles were turning white, Sara nodded. "I don't think I'll need this... But if the Gods chose to ignore my plea then I will do as you ask." "Thank you" He stated. "Your welcome." She said softly. Now, go spend some time with Cyanah..." He continued with a smile. Sara smiled and headed for the door. "Ya know J'van there is one last thing I'm sorry for." "What's that? Not slapping me?" He responded with a slight smile. "Just kidding..." Sara laughed hard again. "No I save that for Asper." She said. Then she added. "For not making friends with you sooner." "Well, it's not like I made it easy. I tend to come off as pretty arrogant. Believe it or not." He grinned even more. "Good point." She added with a laugh as she opened the office doors. "In that case... It was your bad." And with that Sara left. She headed down the hall towards the turbo lift. She reached for her Commbadge and taped it as the turbolift doors opened. "Heather you have sick bay for a few more hours. I have something to tend to in the science labs." She then closed the Comm and called out. "Deck two... biological science lab."