Elise had contacted Nekal on his way to the Farnaz's transporter room. As he beamed over, he reluctantly closed the link. Four officers met him when he materialized aboard the Enterprise. Undoubtedly, Captain Madison had made them suspicious of him. Nekal still felt obligated to approach the captain about Elise. As he stepped down from the transporter pad, the captain approached him, followed closely by a Klingon Starfleet officer.
"Welcome aboard the Enterprise, Wing Commander Nekal. I am Captain Jean-Luc Picard. This is my Chief Security Officer, Lieutenant Worf, my Medical Officer, Dr. Crusher and Counselor Deanna Troi." Each nodded as their captain indicated them. "If you will follow Lt. Worf, he will take you to your quarters. After you are settled, Dr. Crusher would like to do a quick physical examination."
"Thank you, Captain. However, I have something I must discuss with you before any more time passes." At the Klingon's glower, Nekal smiled slightly. His people and the Klingon's had done each other great wrong, but he felt no animosity toward the Security Officer. "I would prefer that we speak privately, Captain. I promise what I have to say will not take long."
"Sir, I must protest..." the Klingon burst out. A raised hand from his captain silenced him.
"Very well, Commander. However, I must inform you that a guard will be assigned to you until further notice." Despite his words, the captain smiled and indicated they depart. They arrived shortly at what appeared to be a small conference room. Grudgingly, the Klingon left them alone, stationing himself outside with a hostile glance thrown toward Nekal.
"Now, Commander, what is this urgent matter you need to discuss privately?" He sat behind the desk and suggested a chair for Nekal.
"Captain, I have left someone behind on the Farnaz who may be in danger." He waited for the captain to react. Instead, he merely steepled his fingers and leaned back.
"I was told you attempted to subvert a crew member."
"That is not true, captain!" He nearly shouted in his anguish for Elise. With an effort, he recalled he was requesting a favor of this man and tried to continue more calmly. "I am sorry, but nothing could be further from the truth. The young woman is a loyal Starfleet officer and the only one on board the Farnaz who was willing to listen to my story without prejudging me."
Picard's eyebrows rose slightly. Nekal could almost see the wheels turning.
"Just what was your relationship to this crew member, Commander."
"Please, Captain, call me Nekal. I have left behind the Empire's rank." He rose, moving to stare at the view of Starbase Twelve below them. The captain waited for him to continue. "Lieutenant Elise Macahan is a medical officer. She was merely doing her duty to research and report findings of my physiology. She is an exobiology specialist whose talent is sorely misused on that ship."
"Of what concern is it to you, Nekal, how she is used?" The voice was very soft, almost ominous.
"I can only tell you, Captain, that her superiors are determined to ruin her career and her life." Nekal returned, leaning on the desk toward Picard. "She must be transferred here, or at least off the Farnaz, before any more time is wasted."
"And I tell you, Nekal. I must have a better reason than you have given me." The captain stood, ready to end the interview.
"Please, Captain," Nekal began, but was interrupted by the door signal.
"Come." Irritation edged the captain's voice at the disturbance.
"Captain, I'm glad you're both here." Beverly Crusher rushed in. "I just received two disturbing calls from the Farnaz." Nekal gave Picard an 'I told you so' look. "First the senior medical officer called to see if I had room for another doctor on board without telling me why. Then the junior medical officer contacted me with a probable explanation."
"She told me Dr. Mosier had threatened her and that she felt in physical danger."
"I find that hard to credit, Doctor." The captain's voice was skeptical.
"I did too. Until she told me what's been going on in their Medical Department." She wrung her hands. "I hate to point fingers, Captain, but I think we need to bring her here. Something is seriously wrong on that ship. I know Donald Mosier and what he is capable of. He has a nearly fanatical hatred of mixed blood." At the captain's disbelieving look, she continued. "He'll grudgingly work with aliens. But give him someone who is part-human and part-alien and he becomes impossible to deal with."
"That is indeed unpleasant, Doctor, but what has that to do with this young woman?" He turned to Nekal. "I assume she is the one you also wish me to ask for?"
"Yes, Captain. Please. The Farnaz is due to depart soon. Contact Captain Madison as soon as possible." Nekal was nearly begging Captain Picard. He feared the other ship would leave and he would lose Elise.
"I have to agree, Captain. Macahan told me Dr. Mosier discovered today she has a Vulcanoid ancestor and became quite insulting about it."
Picard frowned. He remembered another incident, uncomfortably similar. It turned out to be witch hunt, with another young person of mixed blood in his own medical department coming under suspicion, solely for his ancestor's past. In good conscience, he could not leave this person in such a position...if the story were true.
"You're certain this isn't merely the product of an overexcited imagination?"
"Counselor Troi was with me when I received the call. She said both Macahan's fear and the hostility toward her was genuine. I believe there to be a very real risk of injury to her if she's not gotten off that ship."
"Very well. Nekal, do you wish to go to your quarters or accompany the doctor to Sick Bay?"
"I will not rest until Elise is here. I will go with you, Doctor." His anxiety was so great that he did not see his familiar use of Elise's name register with Picard. Beverly inclined her head.
"Captain?" She looked at Picard questioningly.
"Make it so, Doctor. I have my work cut out for me."
Nekal and Dr. Crusher headed for Sick Bay with Worf following them. When they reached their destination, the Security Officer turned over guard duty to two of his people and returned to the bridge. Nekal commented on the physical similarity of the two starships' Sick Bay.
"However, Dr. Crusher, your crew appears both more professional and with better morale." He nodded approvingly as he looked around.
"Why thank you, Nekal. The Enterprise is more than just our ship, she's our home." She took him over to one of the diagnostic stations. "Please, be seated. I'd like to run some routine tests on you. This ship has probably had more Romulans aboard than any other Starfleet vessel, so our equipment has a fair set of parameters for your physiology already."
"Yes, Elise told me of your work. She also mentioned she greatly respects your accomplishments in exobiology."
"I look forward to meeting her." Beverly ran the tricorder over Nekal, then went to log the findings in the main computer. Troi walked in, joining him.
"Counselor." Nekal began to rise.
"Please, remain seated." Deanna sat near him. "I'd like to ask you a few questions after Dr. Crusher finishes, if you don't mind." He nodded, liking her slightly husky voice with the unusual accent and the aura of gentle power surrounding her.
"You may refuse to answer my curiosity, Counselor, but where are you from?"
"I don't mind. I'm Betazoid. At least, half-Betazoid. My father was from Earth." She looked at him strangely. "Why do you ask?"
"You seem different." He laughed at himself. "I should talk. A Romulan among humans. I have seen no other Vulcanoids aboard the Enterprise. Are there any?"
"Yes, we have one or two in the Science department." A smile lit her face. "Surely Dr. Crusher has told you, you are not the first Romulan to come aboard this ship."
"Yes, in fact I suspect that is why you came to rescue me from the Farnaz." At her startled look, he laughed again. "Well, I would call it 'rescue.' They were most disagreeable people to be around. Except for one." His eyes grew distant with memories of Elise.
"Somehow you remind me of Nevek." The wistfulness of her voice intrigued him. He probed slightly, feeling an indefinable sorrow about her.
"Nevek? One of the Romulans you have had here?"
"No. It's a long story, Commander. And a painful one for me." She rose, closing herself off to him. "Perhaps I will tell you later about what happened. For now I'll let Dr. Crusher finish and then you may rest or call me when you are done."
"Hi, Deanna. Here to see our guest?" Beverly bustled in.
"Yes, but I'll leave him to you now."
"Come back if you need anything. I should be done with Nekal in about ten minutes."
"Thanks. Maybe later." The Counselor left abruptly.
Nekal reached out tentatively, but she shielded herself tightly. He knew his talent was not as strong as some, yet he could pick up and probe most surface thoughts. The counselor was an empath. Had she come to see if he was lying? He had no fear of that.
Nekal turned his attention to the doctor. She truly enjoyed her work. She has a son, in Starfleet academy and a husband who died many years ago. This is her home. How different this ship was from Elise's. Inwardly he shuddered, acknowledging the Farnaz's atmosphere was entirely too close to a Romulan warbird's. Suspicion, bigotry, conniving for position, all the negative things he had fled from in the Empire, seemed to abound on the other Federation starship. Perhaps he was an idealist. He had hoped for better after meeting the Vulcan, Spock. Still, this ship did seem to embody the precepts he sought for years. Dr. Crusher's comlink sounded as she examined his eyes.
"Doctor, Lieutenant Macahan is ready for transport. Do you wish to be present?"
"Yes, thank you. I'm on my way." She looked over at him. "We can finish later. Coming?"
"I would not miss it." He grinned from ear to ear, his heart rejoicing. Soon he would see Elise again.