Chapter 5

Break-In

Life turned into a routine of getting up every morning and having breakfast, or first meal as it was called here, then waiting for the healers to arrive to take blood. Vincentís two healers Darer and Briur were accompanied by a third, Beltar who was now assigned to Sher-Kan. Beltar was a female Betazed, the first Catherine and Vincent had seen. Her features were the same as the males, but her mane was considerably longer and she was much more delicate looking. Her body fur was in shades of gray, her face black so that her yellow eyes stood out strikingly. She was shorter than her colleagues, but still taller than Vincent, and Catherine had no doubts at all that she was just as powerful as the males.

After the blood was taken and the healing given the two men would nap, usually sleeping through second meal, but waking in time for third. Emily supplied plenty of food to cover the missed meal and made sure they ate everything that she put in front of them.

After the meal, if they felt up to it, they would take the flitter, load it up with gardening tools and visit one of the gardens to do some maintenance work; weeding, pruning, raking, whatever was needed. Normally Sher-Kan had a group of colleagues that assisted with the maintenance of the grounds, but since the quarantine he and Emily had had to do everything themselves and they were falling woefully behind. Catherine and Vincent were more than willing to lend a hand. Catherine was hoping the things she learned here she would be able to apply to their own garden back home, maybe she would be able to turn her black thumb into a green one.

Vincent was in his glory he had never felt so free and relaxed, he was outside in the sunshine working with the earth something he enjoyed immensely. He didnít have to worry about being cloaked to hide himself from unfriendly eyes or to stay constantly alert to danger. Here he could go about as he pleased enjoying the company of his parents and wife. It was a freedom he had never known and yet there were times he longed for home, for Father and his friends, for the books and the candles that he had known all his life and for the new home he and Catherine had made together. Yes Beta was a good place to be, but home was decidedly better.

After they spent some time working in the gardens Emily and Catherine would call a halt. They brought the makings of fourth meal with them and they would sit in whatever garden they had been working on and eat their meal. The women would urge the men to take a nap and if they didnít sleep at least they relaxed taking their ease doing nothing at all except letting their bodies restore the precious blood that had been taken earlier.

Theyíd go back to the house afterwards putting away the tools and eating fifth meal, after which they almost invariable went to the salle and did some sparring. Sher-Kan was so used to practicing by himself or sometimes with Bartok, who was a miserable swordsman, that he was overjoyed Vincent had such a liking for the sport; it was something else father and son could enjoy together besides gardening.

Evenings were spent reading, they had finished reading the Hobbit some days ago and had begun on the Fellowship of the Ring. Sher-Kan now readily understood Emilyís amusement at the frequency of Betazed meals and he enjoyed the fanciful stories very much, he looked forward to story time as much as the children Below always did.

***

One night they were awakened by alarms going off and the computer repeating over and over; "intruder alert, intruder alert!" The two couples tumbled out of bed and met behind the falls, the two men tried to get the women to stay behind, but they would have none of it. They took the lifts down to the first level and queried the computer as to where the intruders were. It turned out they were in Sher-Kanís workshop and by the time they got there Kristrís security forces had everything well in hand.

The perpetrators of the break-in were a bunch of young Betazeds led by none other than Sher-Kanís niece Taka. She had met with the young student healer that had seen Sher-Kan at the facility before he had been taken into custody and had learned from him that the cure for the virus had come by way of Sher-Kan. Having violated the quarantine Taka had met with some friends in the city and had contracted the disease. She had brought it home to her parents and brother and was now frantic for the cure.

She was a frequent visitor to her Uncleís estate and knew the security codes. She was sure that he must have discovered the cure in some plant and that he probably had some of the cure stored in his workshop. Confident that she could get into the workshop undetected she had talked her friends into accompanying her and led them right into the hands of Kristrís security force. She had not counted on Sher-Kan changing the security code or that the house and grounds were under surveillance.

She and her friends stood surrounded by phaser pointing guards by the time the two couples pounded into the shop. Sher-Kan pulled up short, appalled by the sight of his niece who was obviously ill. He admonished her severely for having the audacity to break into his home. During his tirade she never once looked at him, she had eyes only for Vincent and seeing Catherine and Emily by his side she put two and two together and came up with cousin. Her eyes blazed, that is as much as their rheumy condition would allow. What was he doing here? Why was he even allowed to exist? This half-breed should have been disposed of at birth, he disgusted her and she took no pains to hide it. Her uncle had gone too far in his ridiculous love for the planet he had visited so often, taking an Earther as a bond-mate was bad enough. When he had introduced Emily to his sister and her family Taka had been disdainfully polite. After all she was to inherit her uncles estate and she didnít want to get him too angry and chance losing it.

The estate! Taka stood dumbfounded, her eyes now focused on nothing. The estate was no longer to be hers it would belong to Sher-Kanís half-breed son. It was too much, this was the final blow, she swayed where she stood and if it werenít for Sher-Kanís quick reactions would have fallen to the floor. Gently he lowered his niece down looking around for the healer that had been called for when it was discovered that the would be thieves were ill. The healer replaced Sher-Kan at Takaís side and did what he could for her, but she would be entering the delusional stage of the disease soon and there was not much he could do. Sher-Kan spoke to the head of the security force requesting that the group be taken to their homes and not be put into detention. After conferring with his superior, who presumable spoke to Kristr, he agreed. When the party had beamed out Sher-Kan urged everyone out of the workshop into the common room.

"So that was my cousin?" Vincent inquired when they were once again in the house proper.

"Yes." Sher-Kan sighed, "and I think itís time you meet your aunt. Computer open a communication to Sh-ra."

"WorkingÖestablished." The computer responded.

An image of a female Betazed materialized on the curved wall between the workshop and kitchen doors. She was also showing signs of the illness, but it was not yet as advanced as Taka.

It was clear that the woman was in a state. "Sher-Kan, I was just going to call you, Taka is missing! Weíve looked everywhere for her." She was close to hysteria.

Sher-Kan held up his hand, "she has been found Sh-ra and will be returned home shortly."

She hung her head her shoulders visibly sagging with relief, when she looked at her brother again she was in much calmer.

"We did not think she would go to you, I should have realized."

"She did not come here for comfort, Sh-ra, she came to steal." Her eyes widened in disbelief, then acceptance, Taka had always been a free spirit to put it politely. Sh-ra wouldnít put stealing past her.

"I am sorry brother, when she came home with the wild story that you had found a cure for this cursed disease among your planets and flowers we did not believe her. Then when she came down with it and passed it on to us she was desperate to make amends and find the cure."

"You and your family will be cared for Sh-ra, I promise you that." Sher-Kan assured her. "Now I would have you meet someone very precious to me." He motioned Vincent forward. "This is Vincent, my son."

Vincent inclined his head, bringing his fist to his shoulder in the accustomed greeting, "I am honored to meet you aunt."

Sh-ra stared at him open mouthed, her brother had produced a son! She knew how much this meant to him and was every bit as gracious as Taka was hostile.

"Nephew, the honor is mine," she replied, returning the greeting. She then looked at Sher-Kan puzzled. "Brother I am so happy for you, but why do I meet him now?"

"I didnít know of his existence until I went back to Earth for Emily, when we persuaded he and his bond-mate to visit here we planned on a party to introduce them. Obviously circumstances prevented that, then tonight Taka met him and I didnít want you to come to hear about him from her."

"It is truly a shame that you come to us in this terrible time Vincent, perhaps when this is all behind us we will get to know you."

"I look forward to that time aunt. May I present my bond-mate, Catherine?" Catherine stepped to Vincentís side.

"Welcome, Catherine bond-mate of my brothers son." Sh-ra greeted her formally.

"Thank you Sh-ra, itís a pleasure to meet you."

"If the vaccine comes to us in time perhaps you will come and tell us of your world."

"Iím sure everything will be fine Sh-ra, and I will be happy to." Catherine assured her.

Sh-ra looked back over her shoulder as Taka was beamed in escorted by two guards, she turned back to the screen, "Takaís home I have to go."

"Sister everything will be fine, I promise you." Sher-Kan put as much conviction into his voice as he could.

Sh-ra nodded bleakly and cut the connection.

Emily clutched her bond-mates arm, "Couldnít you have told her? It would prevent so much worry."

Sher-Kan shook his head, "I made a promise, I canít go back on my word Emily; but I will see to it that they get the vaccine tomorrow."

Sher-Kan next put in a call to Kristr, he of course had been briefed on the break in and listened attentively as Sher-Kan related the incident.

"Was Vincent seen?" He asked as he looked in his direction, Vincent nodded and Sher-Kan confirmed it.

"Yes, but they believe he is here visiting Iím sure they did not connect him with the vaccine."

"Well thatís a relief at any rate." Kristr sighed wearily he had had little rest since this whole thing began and it was showing in the droop of his shoulders and the tone of his voice.

"We will see that Sh-ra and her family are taken care of." Kristr ran a clawed hand through his mane, reminding Vincent very much of Father. He experienced a sudden pang of homesickness and wondered when he would see home again.

"Tomorrow." Sher-Kan insisted.

"Yes, very well, tomorrow as soon as the healers have finished with you and Vincent." Kristr promised. "Kristr out."

As the image of Kristr faded Sher-Kan turned to his family and sighing deeply held each ones eyes in turn finally settling on Emilyís. "I canít wait until all of this is behind us." She nodded with tears in her eyes, and sought comfort in his embrace.

"Come let us try and get some rest." With Emily tucked under his arm they went to the anti-grav lifts with Vincent and Catherine following close behind. At the falls they separated to the lifts on either side heading back to their rooms and hopefully to an undisturbed rest.

Revised 5/22/06

10/24/06