Twelve years ago – In all her life Hermes had only ever once been called before the Lantean High Council and that was with a group of people she worked with, and she didn't have to say much, she knew most of the High Councillors by themselves, but as a group they could be quite intimidating.

Taking a breath she ascended the staircase to the upper level of city command on Atlantis, stopping only briefly to gaze out the window at Eos, glittering on the not so distant shore, reflecting back the sunlight defiantly in the mid afternoon sun.

She nodded to the security officer standing next to one of the revolving panel doors that was the council chambers

Entering the council room, Hermes felt; naked, Scrutinised and she couldn't help if the other Asuran in the room could feel her discomfort

Poseidon looked up at Hermes, "Hermes Asura, by the will of this council and by the recommendation of your superiors, you have been selected to undertake a mission, to Earth," he said the woman beside Poseidon leaned forward, she had white hair and looked frail, but besides her appearance, Hermes knew that Helia Emmagan the leader of the Lantean's was far from frail,

"The mission will be long, and tedious, you will be required to in essence infiltrate their military, gather Intel and convey it back to Poseidon, who in turn will divulge this to the council," Helia explained

Mentally bracing herself "What exactly will the mission entail?" she asked

"you will be cloned, into a younger version of yourself, your mind transferred, and your current body placed in stasis, you will then head to earth and arrive via a cloaked jumper, then you will as mentioned infiltrate and gather Intel on their society, and await further mission instructions," Poseidon answered

Hermes grimaced at the thought of going through puberty again

"You will be gone a while Hermes, but the galaxy is rapidly changing around us, we need to be an active force and shape the future, like the Ancients before us we must actively shape the galaxy,"

With a start Hermes sat upright, she was less than a day away from completing her mission, she had relayed all essential information back home, and here she was on a vessel bound for the very place she longed to be, checking the time she realised it was several hours before she was needed on duty, she was going to be in engineering today, she snorted at the incredibly slow pace warp engines got around, compared to the extremely powerful interstellar hyperdrives used on all Lantean vessels, and then even they paled in comparison to the stardrive on Atlantis, she wondered idly as she changed into some casual clothes that were composed of a long silky brown skirt with slits up the thighs and a standard brown tank-top, if she would ever be on or see the graceful majesty of a city ship take flight, there had been talk that Hades* had been in the works of designing a new class of city ships, but that was just a rumour, and a twelve year old one at that.

With time to kill she walked down the hallway and came to a stop in front of a holodeck, ensuring no one was about, "computer, activate Asher Sparring program, challenger Callum Dex*," she said the computer imputing the data she had loaded into the holodeck four days ago, again she was struck with a wave of nostalgia, before the day was done she would be home, "program complete, you may enter when ready," came the boring voice of the computer, she wondered for the third time if Starfleet computer engineers had ever toyed with the idea of giving the computer a personality, entering the holodeck Hermes found herself in a medium sized round room, with a large stain glass window, bathing the room in a warm amber light, the detail of the program was so vivid, that if you looked out the window, you would get a panoramic view of Eos, and a clear shot view of Atlantis resting in the harbour, in the middle of the room however was a tall muscular man, with short brown hair, wearing light brown loose trousers and a plain black shirt, in both hands were to wooden short staves, one corner of his lip twitched in a smirk, picking up her holographic staves she took a stance and prepared herself for a gruelling workout.

Data walked down the corridor towards Lieutenant Asher's Quarters, it wasn't time for her shift but he had intended to show her around engineering, where they would spend the day calibrating sensors, in preparation for the mission, stepping in front of her door he pressed the 'door bell' after no response, he did so again, coming to the conclusion maybe she had gone to the new ten forward, heading towards a turbo lift, he headed for deck ten, and proceeded to ten forward,

Ten forward had changed somewhat since the creation of the Enterprise-E, a last minute addition, it served its purpose, of not just a bar, but as a restaurant and cafe to the officers, who could meet for breakfast or any other meal.

Upon arriving there he did not see her, he did however see commander Riker, Counsellor Troi and Beverly Crusher talking over their morning beverages, Deanna noticing Data waved him over, heading over he greeted his superior officers and friends, "Data what brings you here?" Deanna asked,

"I went to Lt Asher's quarters and she was not there, so I guessed she might have come here, it was a high probability," he replied,

Hermes walked into the crew lounge of the enterprise, oddly named ten forward, she would normally eat in her quarters, but the lack of people made her stir crazy, so she decided on having breakfast in the bar, upon entering the large spacious room, she noticed Data, and walked up to him, she favoured her right arm after the holodeck Callum had landed a lucky strike, usually she wouldn't have turned off the safety parameters, but she felt the need to be in a sense of danger,

"Good morning, Lieutenant," Riker said noticing her standing there.

"Lieutenant has you injured yourself?" Data asked

Beverly crusher looked up at the young woman and noticed that she was favouring her right arm, "what did you do?" She inquired taking Hermes's arm in her hand

"Oh, I was working out in the Holodeck, and my opponent got a lucky strike," she said hoping they would ignore it, but alas they didn't

"You seem to have a broken arm, come with me, we will fix that in sick bay," and with that doctor crusher took Hermes and left

Riker leaned forward deep in thought, "I wonder what kind of program she was running that would get her injured? It has none of the Klingon combat simulators programmed now that Worf is back on DS9," he said thinking out loud

"We can always check commander, as her superior officer, you have the right to know what she is up to," Data pointed out

Deanna shook her head, "That's an invasion of privacy will, you may as well read her diary or..." but she was interrupted

"Her mind," Riker said with a raised eyebrow

"Yes Will, read her mind, spy on her dreams, its intrusive, when people make holodeck programs, it like making a painting or writing music, its expressive, maybe she has a wilder side she keeps in check, or an adventurous side she wants to explore more thoroughly," Deanna replied

"Well I'm not needed on the bridge for half an hour, so I'm going to check out, I have to keep an eye on the well being of my subordinates, you're welcome to tag along," he told her with a smirk, standing up gulping down the rest of his coffee and walked off, Data not far behind him

Sighing heavily, "only if it keeps you from digging further," she said to herself, she could feel that Will didn't trust her, but the reasons behind them were silly, she walked out of the bar, catching up with them as they got in the turbo lift

Arriving a few minutes later outside the holodeck, data walked up to the computer interface on the wall,

"Computer bring up the last holodeck program used by Lieutenant Asher,"

"Program complete, you may enter when ready," the computer said after a moment

"oh my," Deanna breathed, the room they entered was spacious round room, with a bench built under the sill of the window, walking over to the window she peered through the glass and saw a scene that was glorious

Tall glass sheathed towers filled the scene, some were thin and fragile looking, others were thick, connecting multiple buildings were sky bridges, down below she could see parks it was a metropolis unlike anything she had ever seen before

Her eyes were drawn through a gap in the towers, almost like a frame, it showed an island in the middle of the large harbour the metropolis was built around.

"What is this place?" Riker asked no one in particular

"That request cannot be answered, unspecified information," the computer answered not being able to know the difference between a query and a rhetorical question

"There we go, that should do it," Dr Crusher said placing down a medical instrument, Hermes smiled she had moved the nanites in her arm to replicate the 'Neutronium braces' that were on her skeleton

For a moment Hermes was lost in thoughts so she didn't notice when Dr Crusher pulled out a Tricorder, to check for any other damage, that she might not be admitting to, looking at the Tricorder, Dr Crushers eyebrows shot up, at the information she was receiving, faking a smile, "that's alright now, why don't you head down to engineering, I think Data might need you down there.

Shrugging of the doctor's tense behaviour, Hermes walked out of the sick bay

"Dr Crusher to Picard," she said tapping on her com-badge

"Picard here" came the reply

"Can you meet me in sick bay; there is something you might want to see,"

"I'll be right down,"

Walking to her office, she sat down at her desk, and looked closely at what she had detected, how had no one noticed it before, so focussed in her analysis she didn't notice when Picard knocked on the door frame

"You wanted to see me Beverly?" Picard said drawing her from her concentration

"Yes, I was fixing an injury on on Lt Asher's arm, and I was taking a quick scan of her, when I picked up this," she said turning the computer

Picard sat down and looked at the data on the her body was emitting a faint energy frequency, in it, "what do you think this means?" he asked

"Without running tests on her, there is no way we can confirm what this means," She replied,

"It could be something to do with her Neutronium braces," Picard said

"I don't see how why the doctor in charge of this used Neutronium braces at all, I looked at her medical files, and there is nothing odd about it, sure enough there is the usual stuff, colds and flus, but that's it, nothing else mentioning any follow up procedures to remove the braces from her skeleton, the report did say that the patient had consented to the trial operation, and although the operation was a success the clinical trials were abandoned leaving a thirteen year old girl with several kilos of Nutronium moulded to her skeleton" Dr crusher said as she swiftly turned the computer to face her

"You sound both annoyed at this and at the same time intrigued by it," Picard said with a small chuckle

"Who knows what kind of damage having that much Neutronium inside, even if she has had it for years, I still don't know why she hasn't suffered from it," she replied

"you sent her back to her duties, if I recall she's working in engineering today, I'll get Geordi to look at her with his optical implants, maybe he can pick something up," Picard said standing up, "don't worry Beverly, all mysteries come to an end," he said with a smile

In engineering Geordi received his instructions to look at Lt Asher discretely whilst she wasn't aware of it, thinking it weird but the Captain had asked him to do it, what harm could it be to scan someone

Looking over at Lt Asher and Data working on the modifications, Geordi noticed something, there was a interesting energy field surrounding the woman, he hadn't noticed it before because it blended almost naturally into her own, and because he wasn't really looking for an anomaly, taking care he scanned her several times in short bursts over a period of five hours, from all angles using various techniques with not just his eyes, but a Tricorder as well.

It was about mid shift break when Hermes and Data finished the calibrations for the sensors, she had managed to complete her true objective, the moment that the enterprise dropped out of warp, a new sub-routine would isolate both the warp drive and the impulse engines, as well as disabling the tactical systems and long range communications, "now that that is done, I think I'll go get lunch," Hermes said with a smile

Touching his comm-badge "Geordi to all senior staff, please report to the observation lounge," there was a series of replies,

Data walked over to Geordi, "why are we assembling for a meeting," he asked,

"I'll tell you when everyone is there,"

When all were assembled in the room, Geordi turned to them, "I have performed several covert scans of Lt Asher, although at first I wasn't sure what it would accomplish, until I took this scan," he said turning on a screen, everyone in the room looked at the screen, it showed a physical scan of Lt Asher, except for the fact that there was several million red dots moving around her body

"What are those?" Deanna asked

"They are nanites, and there are millions of them, constructed entirely of Neutronium," Geordi said

"Where did the nanites come...from..." Beverly began but stopped, "The Neutronium braces, they're not braces they are just designed to look like braces when scrutinised," she exclaimed

"What is she," Riker asked leaning forward on the table

"She is human; she just contains several kilos of Nanites in her system," Geordi said

"Or she appears human, and this is just a big ruse," Riker pointed out, "the holodeck program, with a view of a city unlike any in the federation, nanites in her body, could she be an alien in disguise, sent to spy on the federation," he continued

"But it could be completely harmless, the federation has sent in people to infiltrate alien cultures when they reach warp capability, maybe she is just monitoring us for a similar reason," Deanna said, she immediately sensed a reply forming on Will's tongue, "True that stil means she is a spy of some description," she said replying his unspoken retort

Picard sat in silence staring at the screen, "have her moved to the bridge, that way I can keep an eye on her when we drop out of warp," he said "dismissed,"

"Lt Asher, report to the bridge," came Picard's voice through her com-badge, acknowledging Hermes walked down the corridor to the turbo lift, "bridge," she said, sending the lift zooming through the interior of the ship, another part of Lantean technology she missed, transporter booths, one could get from one end of Eos to the other in a matter of seconds, and still it took a minute to reach the bridge, albeit, the lift stopped to allow people on and off

Walking onto the bridge, Hermes immediately sensed something was off, she walked over to a unused computer station, "computer transfer Stellar Cartography controls to bridge," she said, a beeping sound confirmed the transfer

Out of the corner of his eye, Riker kept an eye on her, as did the rest of the bridge crew

"Approaching mission coordinates," came the voice of the computer

"Helm, take us out of warp," Picard told the helmsman

The moment the enterprise slowed from warp, her engines cut out from her, it took the bridge crew a few moments to realise the enterprise was moving solely on inertia alone

"Captain, the; impulse drive is losing power," Data said from his station at opps, "we have also lost control of; weapons, shields and long range communications,"

Riker quickly turned and drew his Phaser pointing it at Lt Asher, "okay out with it, what did you do?" will asked

"excuse me?" hermes replied trying to play the innocent card

Picard stood and turned to the young woman, "are our suspicions true, are you a alien spy?" he asked her

Before Hermes could formulate a reply Data spoke again, "captain I am detecting a sub-space rift five-thousand kilometres of the enterprise's bow,"

"On screen," Picard said looking at the screens as it formed

A large bright green rift formed in the space before the enterprise, only moments later for a large imposing vessel appeard out of the Rift.

"Captain, without shields and weapons we are defenceless," Riker said not taking his eyes off Hermes,

Turning back to Lt Asher, Picard calmly asked her a question, "Who are they?"

Looking at the view screen before turning to gaze at Picard, "My people, and hopefully your friends," she replied

I hope you enjoyed this longer chapter, a few things to clarify

*Hades – an Asuran who primarily works at the Promethea ship yard facility on one of the planets within the Lantean domain

*Callum Dex – a 'friend' of Hermes, an officer in the Lantean fleet, son of one of the Lantean council members

Again read and review ^^