They don't belong to me, Paramount owns em...blah, blah blah....
"Get down!" Will Riker pulled on his companion as hard as he could, tugging
her into the underbrush. The light of the blaster fire lit up the sky above
them. They crawled over the dirt on their bellies, thorns and brush causing
their movements to be slow.
"In Here" He grabbed her tightly, not caring how frail or fragile she was.
"How much further?" Her words were filled with lassitude, he just hoped she
could make it to the beam out spot. He didn't have the heart to tell her he
had no clue, that he'd turned down a different path then he'd entered
through, and all he had to go on was his sense of direction.
"Not much further" He panted, spitting dirt from his mouth. She nodded, her
trust in him radiating from her eyes. He had to admit for a princess, she
was a hell of a fighter...they'd been dodging phaser fire for days, she'd
never complained just followed him with blind trust. Or maybe whatever it
was that had happened to her at the hands of the Questors was worse then
he'd thought. The cave he had led her into was widening, he pulled her to
her feet, and dragged her along behind him. He came to an abrupt halt as he
looked at the drop in front of them.
"Shit" He looked at her apologetically, her blond curls matted with sweat
and dirt, her face flushed from exertion.
"I thought you knew what you were doing." She put her hands on her hips, her
dress hanging in tatters, revealing much of her flawless body. Riker didn't
notice, maybe he was getting old, or maybe he just didn't care. There was
only one perfect body he cared about, and in order to see it again he had to
get them out of here.
"I do" He pointed to the bottom of the ravine, a small light shined through
a tiny opening. She looked at him with what he would have deemed a
flirtatious smile. "Usually rescues are a little more planned then this." He
heard the muffled voices behind them, picking up a rock he let it fall into
the ravine below them....moments later he heard the sound of the rock
"I planned this, things just got complicated. I guess I didn't realize how
valuable you were."
"You are confidant, aren't you?" She blew her bangs from her forehead, a
challenging look in her eyes.
"You heard the rock, it hit water....we'll just jump." He acted nonchalant,
but all he was really thinking was<I ain't dying here, Deanna is waiting for
me, and I'm going home.>
"Your nuts....did you also hear how long it took the rock to hit the water."
She looked at him with her wide blue eyes, eyes that should have been filled
with such innocence, filled with fear and searching his for an escape. The
voices behind them grew louder, Riker took a deep breath.
"We're larger, we'll get there faster." He grabbed her hand and pulled her
over the edge.
He hit the water with such force, her hand was torn from his. He
recognized the echoing sound of deep water, thankful he was still alive. He
pushed himself towards the surface with as much power as he could muster,
hoping he had enough air in his lungs to get him there. He breached the
surface sputtering and panting for the air his lungs had been deprived of.
The light from the cave opening illuminating the water enough that he was
able to search for Manara. He darted his eyes over the surface and made
numerous dives to locate her, finally he heard her weak cries, intermingled
with her gasps for air. He swam to her, pulling her with the strength he had
left toward the shore. The blasters overhead, ricocheted off the rocks.
<Great> He thought as he struggled to reach the shore. <One of those shots
hits the water, and we're fried>.
A sense of relief washed over him, as his hand felt the smooth rock that
meant they'd made it... it was shocked to see she was still fighting, still
determine to escape whatever horrors she had experienced in this place. He
pulled her out of the water, trying to ignore the blaster burn on his
shoulder.....he had sustained it earlier, but the cold water had cooled it,
and now in response to the warm air it burned like hell.
He pulled her to the cave entrance, his emergency transport beacons still
aligned. He stood in the middle of the triangle, slightly surprised when
Manara wrapped her hands around his neck and pressed her lips tightly
against his. He responded to the kiss, for only a moment, thinking gratitude
and fear had caused her reaction. But as he sensed the passion that seemed
to accompany it, he pulled her hands from his neck and tapped his comm
"Riker to enterprise...two to beam up!"
The two materialized on the transporter pad, Wills eyes immediately
searching the room for the one he hoped would be waiting. He wasn't
disappointed, Deanna Troi's large dark eyes filled his heart, her voice
filling his mind. He responded to her with his thoughts, but according to
all In the room he was doing his duty. Only Deanna knew where his thoughts
"Number one, we were getting worried." He was still dripping wet, he ran his
hand through his hair.
"Yes Sir, things got a little more complicated then we'd planned....But I
think she's fine." He watched Beverly as she ran her Tricorder over the
"She seems to be, under the circumstances." Riker wasn't sure he wanted to
know the circumstances. This young vulnerable woman held by one of the most
vile races in the quadrant, it sickened him to think what her fate had been.
But at this moment he was chilled to the bone, his shouldered burned like a
son of a bitch....and all he wanted was to fall into the arms of her, the
one one who would extinguish his pain, warm his soul.
"Captain, the Questors have launched three fighters" Mister Worf's battle
ready voice sounded through the transporter room. Captain Picard looked at
Will, rolling his eyes in response to mister Worfs warning. Riker smiled at
his Captain's reaction, the Questors were decades behind Starfleet, any
attempt they made against the enterprise would be laughable at best.
Initiate red alert, and raise shields....we're on our way." He looked at his
number one questioningly, Riker nodded in response to the captain's unasked
question. He was wet, and dirty, and he probably smelled bad, but he wasn't
going to miss what he assumed would be nothing more then a comical
encounter. He gave a reassuring grin to Manara, before following his Captain
out of the transporter room. Troi tried to hide the grin that threatened to
break across her face in response to the sound of Will's soaking wet boots
squishing through the room, and the trail of water he was leaving in his
path. She stopped suddenly in response to the eyes that seemed to burn
through her back. She turned toward the young woman, still sitting on the
steps of the transporter platform, the eyes that only moments before had
been filled with a sense of relief, focused on her with an unsettling amount
The three officers strode onto the bridge, Will
receiving curious looks from
his shipmates as he squished to the console next to Data. He propped his
foot on the console beside data, and assumed his customary position....arm
flung over his knee, eyes fixed on the viewscreen.
"They are not responding to our hails, Sir." Captain Picard turned to the
Klingon at tactical.
"Not surprising. Keep trying." Worf worked his hands over the panel. "Sir
they are powering up their weapons."
"Well, this should be interesting." He met Rikers smiling eyes, all on the
bridge readying for impact. The small ship launched it's weapon, the blast
literally evaporating into the shields, causing no disturbance to the ship.
"Like a mosquito bite to an elephant." Riker mused. Picard swallowed the
laugh he was feeling.
"Yes number one, but mosquitoes are pesky little creature, and very
determined." He cocked his head toward the view screen. "Like our friends
over there. I think it's time we put an end to this little game. Mister Data
set course, anywhere but here."
Aye Sir." Data started to follow the orders of his captain, his work halted
by Worf's next warning.
"Sir, They seem to be plotting a collision course."
"Evasive maneuvers Mister Worf." Riker turned towards the captain. "They are
determined little insects aren't they?" The ship veered, the first fighter
missing the enterprise completely, the second hit causing the ship to rock.
"Minimal damage to the port decell, shields down by twenty percent."
"Fire Phasers, cripple the remaining fighters." Captain Picard was getting
annoyed, he gave a quick nod to Will. "Swarms of mosquitoes can be deadly."
Riker sighed in agreement, wondering what this princess had that so many
were willing to die for.
"We are being hailed."
"On screen." The viewscreen lit up with the vile face of the Questor, a face
Will had encountered far too often in the last several days. They were by
all accounts an intimating presence, the smallest he had encountered towered
over him, their fur covered arms, large and muscular, there faces, covered
with what he could only describe as scales, tiny eyes, three to be exact,
covered with a thick membrane, and a large mouth surrounded by thin, blue
lips. He turned to deanna, the Questarians a race she was unable to read,
she sat rigidly in her chair....Will knew hiding the disconcertion she felt.
"Return the princess!" Picard bit back is inclination of shouting, "or
what". And responded in his usual diplomatic manner.
"The princess is here of her own accord, and I believe she wishes to
remain." The Questor looked at the Captain.
"This is not an affair that involves the federation." Captain Picard gave
the appearance of deep thought, those that knew him well, knew he was only
refocusing his impatience with these creature.
"I'm afraid your mistaken Baron....The Maurvians are allies with the
federation, it is our responsibly to assist. Your act against the Maurvians
could be deemed an act of war." A low growl permeated the bridge, the
Questarian showing yellow teeth through his thin lips.
"She is our princess, not the Maurvians. Ask her, and then respond with your
self-righteous star fleet attitude." The screen went blank, the ships
retreated, leaving Picard feeling quite confused, and very aggravated.
Captain Picard said he could handle the talk with the chancellor of Maurvia
alone, he sent Will to sickbay and ordered him to rest. It hadn't taken long
for Beverly to heal his superficial wound, and give him a hypo spay for the
pain. He felt a little foggy walking back to his quarters, but he'd been
fantasizing about his nice soft bed for the last three days, and finally he
would be able to crawl into it.
His blue eyes flashed, a grin encompassing his face at the sight that met
him when his cabin doors slid open. Deanna stood in the dimly lit cabin, the
light from the candles she had placed around the room, reflecting off her
"I ordered this today, do you like it?" He stood with his mouth open,
totally speechless....his eyes slid over her as she approached him, his own
body flushing with heat.
"Like what?" He stumbled over the question, he only shook his head and
grinned like a school boy.
"This>" She ran her hand over her breast seductively, finally stopping on
the necklace that hung loosely on her throat. He eyed it for a only a
moment, more interested in what she wasn't wearing, then what she was. His
mind was painting erotic pictures of what his body could do once it
recovered from the shock it was in now. There relationship had become
stronger, but he wasn't sure she was ready to take this step. Apparently she
was, she tore the shirt that Beverly had given him in sickbay, running her
nails over his chest, she kissed him deeply...the kiss filled with hunger,
and want, her tongue probing deeply into his mouth. His body reacted
instinctively, he picked her up, wrapping his hands around the curves of her
buttocks. Touching her bare skin again after all these years was almost
intoxicating ....his body burning with suggestions..taste her, touch her....
never let her go. She wrapped her legs tightly around him, nipping on his
neck and stroking her tongue over his ear. He had never seen Deanna like
this, filled with only a desire to satisfy her appetite, and help him
satisfy his. The hypo spray intensified the sensations that washed over him,
her words making him act on his animalistic desires.
"I want you Will...now." Her voice was deep, and thick. He had no problem
granting her demands...over and over, the exhaustion he had been feeling,
extinguished by the feel, the scent and the taste of her passion.
They laid together, her body draped over his, their hearts slowing, the
sheets drenched with sweat..For Will Riker, well his body was drifting
somewhere between sleep, and euphoria ....he was surprised when she pulled
herself up from the bed.
"I'll see you in the morning Will. "He responded to the cold against his
skin where her body had been pressed tightly.
"Why do you have to go?" He heard his tone, like that of a pleading child.
She kissed him lightly.
"Just do, that's all. You need your rest." He tried to protest again but the
cloud in his mind was getting thicker.
"Everything will be clearer in the morning." She whispered, pulling her
clothes off the chair and disappearing out of the room.
He pulled the pillow closer to him, trying to cover the cold she had left
him with....he fell asleep quickly, hearing what he thought were the soft
whispers of her voice.
Riker awoke to the insistent chirping of his
"Commander, I was just about to send security to your quarters....I take it
you slept well." He could tell by the Captains tone, he was only kidding.
"Sorry Sir, I guess I was sleeping sounder then I thought. How are things
with the Maurivians?"
Will rubbed his eyes, trying to dissipate the haze over his mind...he was
used to having his sleep interrupted and was normally able to launch quickly
into Command mode.....not today, he laid his head back on the pillow while
the Captain answered..
"The chancellor, and the princess have asked that I call a meeting of the
senior staff. If your not up to it, under the circumstances I'm sure they'd
"No sir, I'll be there."
"Very good number one, observation lounge...one hour." The computer
terminated the transmission. Riker sat stiffly on the bed, his mouth was
dry, his head was pounding. He had felt like this a couple times before,
usually due to the consumption of too much alcohol, but as far as he
remembered there was no drinking the night before, only incredible sex. But
his memories were fuzzy, he remembered the feelings, but they were almost
dreamlike images in his mind.
"Come on Will....best sex you ever had, and you can hardly remember it. I'm
sure Deanna will appreciate that." He chuckled to himself, and headed for
the bathroom. He looked at his reflection in the mirror, rotating his
shoulder a few times to alleviate the soreness he felt from the blaster
wound. He looked at Deanna's scratch marks on his chest and shoulders, and
quickly started thinking of ways to explain them to Beverly at his
appointment later today. He also made a mental note to get a hair cut, hard
to believe his hair had grown so quickly.
He walked into the observation lounge just as everyone was taking there
seats...the Chancellor remained standing, offering his hand to Will. "I wish
to thank you for returning her to us....we are all in your debt."
"Just doing my job sir." Deanna looked down to her lap, and smiled...amazed
that after all these years, Will still found it difficult to accept
gratitude from anyone. Princess Manara stood by the chancellors side,
waiting for her turn to thank Will properly. He turned his attention to her,
thankful she had recovered from their little trek through the caves, and the
underbrush. She held her tiny hand up to his, he bowed his head, and touched
his lips to her hand...holding it securely in his much larger one. He felt
the softness of her skin against his lips, and for one insane moment, he
felt as though he were stuck there, as though his whole body was resisting
any attempt to pull away from her silky skin. It was an instantaneous thing,
but as he pulled away he was relieved to see no one had noticed....no one
but Deanna, she held his eyes for a moment, sending a look of deep concern.
He sent her an awkward grin, the concern in her eyes deepening with his
smile. He took his seat, and listened to the Captain speak.
"Unfortunately we will be detained here for a few more days. The Questors
have not given up in their attempts to reacquire the princess, this morning
in yet another act of terrorism they destroyed the main consulate. We will
remain in Maurvian space until some sort of treaty can be reached between
the neighboring planets." Captain Picard nodded to the Chancellor. The
Chancellor rose to his feet, for a man of extreme age, he stood straight and
tall, his eyes, though surrounded with lines of age, filled with a youthful
"We'd like to offer the hospitality of our planet to all of you while you
are here. We understand the enterprise was suppose to be in dry dock for a
few days, and several of you are missing your much deserved shore leaves due
to our conflicts...So please, allow us this opportunity to repay you for
what you are trying to prevent here." Will let his thoughts drift, he wasn't
the least bit interested in shore leave, only getting to the bottom of
whatever was going on with the Questors, and getting out of here. If he
never saw another Questor it would be to soon. He had learned to accept all
life forms, but there was something about this race that reached inside him,
and by all accounts he had to admit...scared him. His eyes turned to Deanna,
she seemed deep in thought, and fumbled with a loose thread on her
uniform...the Captain listened to the chancellor's every word, Worf sat
straight and tall, Will assumed the Questors a species he could somehow
His eyes finally stopped to rest on the princess....She really was quite
beautiful, he hadn't noticed it while they were on the planet. Her features
were so delicate, her blond hair was pinned to the top of her head, small
wisps of curls hung on her long swanlike neck...her skin was creamy, and
smooth...a youthful glow radiated from her cheeks....Her eyes met his, so
large, so blue, so filled with the vulnerable shine of innocence. He jumped
slightly at the foot that kicked him gently in the calf, he turned toward
Deanna, and shifted uncomfortable in his chair...he offered her a somewhat
guilty smile, and turned away. Turning away didn't protect him from the
large dark eyes that seemed to be probing his mind.
As the meeting came to an end, all involved filed from the room...leaving he
and Deanna alone. He felt her hand rest on his arm, his mind was racing
...is she going to bring up last night, he hoped not, his memories were
still cloudy. Or was she going to chastise him for his unprofessional
thoughts about the princess. He was surprised when she leaned closer, and
"You need a hair cut." A grin of relief washed over his face. "I know, I
noticed that this morning."
She still seemed to be scrutinizing him relentlessly, it was like she was
searching for something, and couldn't quite find it. He creased his brow in
concern, a little uneasy with the fact he could feel no emotions from her.
"Deanna, what....." His question interrupted by Beverly Crusher.
"Sickbay, now Commander" She ordered. Deanna pulling her focus off of him,
and turning towards the doctor. Will stood up, and followed her. He turned
before he exited the room.
"We should talk Deanna." She nodded to his request, and watched him leave.
Will removed his shirt, and saw Beverly's reaction to the scratches on his
chest...he opened his mouth to explain, she silenced him with a wave of her
hand. "Don't even bother Commander." He resented her quiet laughter.
"Let's just get this over with....I'm not here for your amusement." She
nodded, and bit back the joke she was about to make. She ran her tricorder
over his wound, her hair brushing against his face...he blew it away. "Do
you mind Doc?" She smiled apologetically, watching him scratch his nose in
response to the tickle from her hair.
"You know you could use a haircut, yourself." Riker rolled his eyes, and let
out an irritated grumble.
She brushed his hair from the back of his neck, making sure the blaster
wound was healing to her satisfaction.
"What's this?" She reached into her pocket to pull out her tricorder.
"What's What? I thought you were going to keep the scratch jokes to
"Your personnel life is your own business, Commander. But these puncture
wounds on your neck are mine."
With the assistance of a couple of mirrors, Beverly showed Will the puncture
wounds in his neck.
"What would make those marks?" Beverly ran her hand over the wounds, as she
spoke, Will cringing a little in response to the sensation. He looked again
at the marks on his neck, clean, quite deep, evenly spaced, but very
innocent looking. He responded to Beverly's question.
"A Vampire?" He refocused his eyes in the mirror. Beverly appeared to be
reflecting on his words, he looked at her in shock.
"No, I don't think a vampire bite would be located on the back of the neck,
probably more towards the jugular vain in the front." Her face was so
serious, he looked at her in astonishment.
"I was only kidding Beverly."
"I know, so was I" Her face broke into a wide grin. "I've been practicing my
poker face...how'd I do?" Will rolled his eyes. "I'm not worried."
"Oh come on Commander...I had you going." She continued grinning, and
scanned the scratch marks on his chest.
"Now what are you doing?" He grabbed her wrist, stopping her in mid scan.
"Making sure the scratch marks are from the source I thought." He glared at
her, and held her wrist tightly.
"I can see nothing unusual about the puncture wounds, but the scratch marks
have definite DNA traces." He narrowed his eyes even further. "And tell me
Mom are you satisfied with the source?" She jerked her wrist from his hands.
"Whatever you and Deanna do in your spare time is your own bussiness....I
just find it odd that I find no evidence of a source for the puncture
wounds." She paused for a moment, his attitude changing a bit as he listened
"You said you jumped into cold water?" He let a deep sigh. "Cold is an
understatement.....freezing is more like it." She nodded knowingly. "Then I
will assume whatever caused these marks happened to you while you were under
the water, the cold would have dulled your pain response. But I'd like to
keep an eye on it, it's odd I find no traces of organic, or inorganic
compounds at the wound entrance..... And your feeling fine?" She scrutinized
him closely, knowing Will Riker as she did he would say anything to get out
"A little tired, and slightly restless...but physically I feel great." She
accepted his word, Will found it almost amazing.
"Good your both here." They both turned toward the door, and the faces of
Deanna, and Captain Picard. Captain Picard proceeded to explain the dinner
that the princess was hosting this evening, Deanna stared with an unsettling
intensity on Will's bare chest. Will nodded his acceptance to the formal
dinner, reaching for his shirt and pulling it over his head. His uneasiness
with Deanna's almost sensual gaze relieved at the Captain asking Beverly to
be his date....he hid his amusement well, but he was surprise that a man
with the confidence of Captain Picard, could be so unsure of Beverly's
answer. And more surprised that the Captain would ask in front of an
audience. He jumped off the examination table, taking Deanna firmly by the
arm and pulling her into the hallway.
"What the hell were you doing in there?!" He kept his voice down, but his
anger was evident. She looked up at him with the look of a child caught with
their hand in the cookie jar. She walked beside him without responding,
until they entered the turbo lift and the doors slid shut.
"Do you remember last night Will?" His anger over her lustful eyes in
sickbay replaced by curiosity. He had no intentions of telling her it was
all a blur, he nodded and replied.
"Of course don't you?" Her eyes resembled that of deer trapped in the
headlights of a land shuttle. Wide and almost terrified.
"Actually Will, when I awoke this morning I thought it was a dream, a very
erotic dream." She seemed almost embarrassed, and after all these years he
found it kind of sweet. The turbo lift doors slid open, the corridor was
empty, he responded softly.
"Honestly Deanna....My memory of it is a little fuzzy too." She seemed
reassured by his admission. They walked down the corridor to her quarters,
he reached for her hand and held it tightly in his. He knew it was a little
out of character for him, but she seemed to need it right now. He stood
outside her quarters, the doors sliding open she walked inside. She stopped
in the doorway, and looked at him...a flirtatious smile covering her face.
"I'm sorry if I was too aggressive last night." His face beamed at the
"No such thing Deanna....besides I have tendency to bring the animal out in
women." His tongue in cheek remark rewarded with a slap on the chest.
"I'll see you tonight." she said, the doors swished shut in his face..
He headed next door to his quarters, interrupted by the voice of Princess
"Commander Riker....I hope you have accepted my dinner invitation for this
evening." Her eyes seemed to be sparkling with hope. He smiled at the young
women. "I'm looking forward to it your highness. But I'm surprised your
still on board, I thought you had returned to your planet."
"I did, but I was hoping to see your arboretum ...horticulture is a hobby of
mine, I was interested in some of your species." Will had been around women
long enough to know a hint when he heard one. "Allow me to show you." She
took his arm, and fell in beside him.
"Can I ask you A question, your highness?" He asked, the turbo doors closing
"Please call me Manara, and of course...you did after all save my life." She
seemed a totally different person alone with him now, unlike the refined
princess that had sat earlier in the observation lounge...or the terrified
one that had followed him blindly through his somewhat screwed up rescue.
"How old are you?" Genuine surprise shown in her eyes, like no one had ever
ask her about herself, only the planet she seemed to run.
"Seventeen in your earth timetable....but age has no bearing in my world."
He looked into her blue eyes, eyes that only moments before radiated
maturity, now filled with a devilish adolescent twinkle. The turbo lift
doors slid open to the entrance of the arboretum .....Her eyes surveyed her
surroundings with a childlike wonder. "It's so beautiful." He started to
agree, the deep almost growling voice of Worf stopped his words.
"IT IS YOU FAULT!!!" Before Riker could locate the Klingon, Ensign Murphy's
body sailed by him, landing in an unconscious heap. Worf appeared from
nowhere...spouting klingon curses, and apparently not satisfied with the
punishment he had already inflicted on the young ensign.
"That's enough Worf!" Will threw his body in front of him, immediately
feeling the jolt of Worf's fist in his face.
Riker went down quickly from the blow, but Worf's wrath was far from over.
He wrapped his hands around Will's throat.....it took Will a moment to
accept the scenario that one of his friends seemed to be intent on killing
him. He brought his knee into Worf's chest, knocking him back, and giving
him access to his comm badge. "Security to the Arboretum!"
"What happened?" Will massaged his throat, and looked up at Doctor Crusher.
"Worf seems to have had a reaction to something, we're holding him in stasis
right now, until we figure out what. And how are you feeling Will?" He
rubbed his jaw and smiled, the smile quickly vanishing in response to the
pain it caused. "I always knew there was a reason I stayed on his good
side." Beverly chuckled.
"What about the princess...was she hurt?" Beverly looked confused. "The
"Yea, I was showing her the arboretum before Mister Worf knocked my lights
out." She shook her head. "The princess is on Maurivia...Where we all should
be. Wouldn't want to miss this party."
OK, This was too odd...Beverly had an insane Klingon, and a badly damaged
first officer, and all she cared about was some stupid party.
"You mean your just going to let me out of here?" She shrugged her
shoulders. "Ofcourse...You've been banged up a lot worse then this. Beside
you hate sickbay." He only stared at her in disbelief, although she did have
a point...Why was he asking to stay here. He jumped off the examination
table feeling like he'd been kicked around by a herd of klingons, instead of
"Dress uniforms Commander." That was all she said, before exiting the room
like a teenager preparing for a prom.
"Weird people on this ship." He mumbled under his breath, and headed for his
He took his time walking to his quarters, partly in response to his sore
muscles, but mostly to give himself time to think. He was sure the princess
had been with him in the arboretum, or maybe he'd been knocked on the head
harder then he thought. He paused in the corridor, in response to the
blaring, of what could be music, emanating from Counselor troi's cabin. He
rang the chimes several times, he was answered only by a deep bass, that
seemed to vibrate the floor.... he accessed the door code, and let himself
in. The cabin was dimly lit, Deanna sat on the couch, eyes closed and this
horrible sound kept playing.
"Deanna!" She didn't respond, just sat quietly on the couch, seemingly
unaware of anything.
"Computer, discontinue music." Deanna opened her eyes in response to the
"What the hell is that?!" With his question he noticed her eyes....they
seemed almost nebulous, and at least two shades lighter then their normal
She answered him as if talking had become a chore. "Lynard
"Are you drunk?" He examined her closely, the words she had just spoken
making no sense, her head flopping forward.
"Weird people on this ship." He repeated, scooping her up, and carrying her
to the bathroom. She protested loudly in response to the cold shower he put
"It'll make you feel better...relax I'm stronger then you." He held her
tightly under the shower, her body gradually resting into his. He held her
head so the icy water hit her face, it wasn't long before his efforts were
"What are you doing?!" Her words, and the pain of her knee simultaneously
hit his brain.
He doubled over with the pain, cursing under his breath. "I'm sorry." Her
voice was regretful, he looked at her mistrustfully wondering how much more
abuse his body could take. He stood up, massaging his stomach, one of the
few parts of his body that hadn't hurt before, hurt like a son of a bitch
"What's going on Deanna?" She looked confused, and very unaware of what had
"I don't know." She searched herself. "I was in the arboretum with Data, and
I don't know. I'm sorry I hurt you."
"Me too...But it's OK." He offered her a smile, which also seemed to cause
him pain. "Tell me what happened in the Arboretum?" She gave him a towel,
and wrapped herself in one.
"Beverly said Worf had had an allergic reaction to something in
there....Data and I went to see if any new plants had been added." She shook
her head, frustrated by her lack of memories.
"Well, I guess I'm off to the Arboretum." He turned to leave, she stopped
"What about the party." He looked at her, astounded that she was serious.
"Party! Are you nuts....I'm not going to a party!"
"But you promised...You promised me and the princess." He started to pull
away from her when something occurred to him.
"How do you know I promised the princess?" He tried to reach inside her,
read this woman he'd loved for almost half his life.....But it was like he
was staring at a stranger.
"She told me, that's how I know." His eyes deepened with skepticism, he
couldn't believe what he was thinking, but it was true. She was
lying...looking right into his eyes and lying. He pulled from her grasp, and
started to leave...he was met outside the door by Captain Picard.
"You should be dressed by now Commander." He started to explain his
uncertainties to the captain, but stopped himself when he notice the
Captains hand entwined with Beverlys.
"I don't think I'm up for it Sir....I need some rest."
"Nonsense Commander....A party is just what you need. I'd hate to spoil it
by making it an order."
This is too bizarre he thought....he looked at the three people that stood
around him. All of whom he admired, respected and even loved. He threw up
his hands in a 'if you can't beat em join em' manner, told deanna he'd be
back in an hour, and silently planned his solo mutiny.
He went back to his quarters and changed out of his wet clothes into his
dress uniform. He had one hour to figure out what was going on and he wasn't
going to waste it primping for a party. His first stop sickbay, he needed to
see the real results of Beverly's tests. Assuming she had run any at all. He
was surprised when he entered sickbay, there appeared to be no staff on
duty. <Must all be readying for this party> He thought. <Weird people on
He picked up the bio chart that hung at the foot of Worf's bed. He didn't
know much about medicine, but he knew enough about biology to know these DNA
readings were way off base. He let out a breath of frustration and ran the
medical tricorder over the comatose Klingon. The readings were too far out
for him to read, nothing like any DNA match he had ever seen before. He
turned to go to the arboretum, stopping short, his eyes resting on the
throat of the Klingon.
"Scales." He spoke aloud, his own words a haunting sound.
<Don't let this happen> He spun around in search of the voice he was sure he
"Princess?" He whispered into the dimly lit sickbay....again the soft plea
filled the room.
<Only you can stop this>
He sat on the stool beside the bio bed, his eyes fixed on the scales that
seemed to be growing on the klingon.....his mind fixed on trying to answer
the unknown that called to him.
He sat in the darkness of sickbay, questioning his own sanity instead of
those around him. The scales on Worf's neck were barely noticeable, and he
was hearing voices in the dark, perhaps it was him, looking for something
that wasn't there. He was running out of time, Deanna would be looking for
him soon....and who knows, maybe this party is just what the doctor ordered.
He stood to leave, something in the back room catching his eye.
"Computer raise lights." On command the computer obeyed.....he walked to the
cloth wrapped bodies that lie on the examination tables.
Obviously the remains of the Qestarians that sabotaged the consulate. Why
wouldn't they be in the morgue?> He wasn't pleased with the idea of peeling
back the sheets and looking at what he was sure would be very mutilated
remains. Taking a deep breath he lifted the sheet that covered the first, he
turned away quickly, understanding why he had chosen command over medicine.
But still he found it strange that Beverly hadn't done any tests on the
bodies....then again it was quite apparent how they died. Something called
to him, a little voice, a quite hunch..he pulled the medical tricorder off
the table behind him, and scanned the remains. The results from the victims
just as jumbled as the results from Worf.
"Computer. Identify DNA readings." The commuter's thinking sounded through
"Pattern unknown.... insufficient data."
"Isolate base DNA pattern... eliminate unknowns." Riker tapped his fingers
on the metal table.
"The base DNA is Klingon."
"Klingon...how is that possible?" The computer sounded.
"Unknown contaminate." He ran his hand over his beard looking at the
chronometer, his urgency for answers snowballed.
"Name contaminate. Extrapolate theory based on available evidence."
"Unable to speculate on cause of contaminate." Riker paced the room, his
mind whirling with scenarios.
"Computer...Identify base DNA of the other victim." He felt his body going
numb at the computers response.
"Base DNA human. Star fleet officer...Captain Richard Morris."
"So what's a Questarian?" His hands were sweating, he felt his insides twist
"I wasn't talking to you!" He spat an angry reply to the computer.
"What are you doing in here Will? I thought I'd been stood up." He let out a
frustrated sigh, as Deanna walked into the room.
"Well it's nice to see you too. The captain is waiting." He smiled and
offered her his arm. He decided rocking this happy little boat wasn't a good
idea, he walked in silence to the transporter room. His mind a million miles
away.....totally unaware of the beautiful woman he had on his arm.
The ball room of the palace was incredible, lavishly decorated like a
tropical paradise, tiny waterfalls on the side walls mingled with the soft
music that sounded through the room. He looked around the room, it seemed
the entire crew had beamed down for this event. But there was only one
person he wished to speak to, he spied him on the other side of the
room...as usual observing everything.
"Excuse me Deanna." It was evident she was slightly amiss at his behavior,
and the look he was awarded said she was angry as well. But if the computer
were right about a contaminate, it seemed Mister Data would be his best bet
as a confidant. But then he wasn't an android, so why wasn't he affected.
"Mister Data...are you enjoying yourself?" He decided testing the waters
first a good idea. He raised a curious eyebrow at data's reply.
"Actually no Sir...I find the behavior of the crew highly confusing."
<YES!> Will was relieved that whatever seemed to have affected his friends
had not seemed to have affected Data.
"How so, Data?" Data's eyes darted around the room.
"A war is waging between the Questarians, and the Maurvians....and yet all
involved seem quite lethargic about the alleged terrorists acts." Will
focused intently on the yellow eyes of the second in Command.
"Alleged Mister Data."
If Data had been human, Will would have sworn he was looking at him with
eyes filled with suspicion. Will motioned for the android to follow him into
the gardens outside.... reluctantly Data followed.
"Data...I know there's something wrong with the crew. But whatever it is,
it's not affecting me. Look at me...do I look like I'm having a good time."
Data studied him closely.
"Actually Sir, you look like hell>"
"Thanks Data. Now tell me why you used the word alleged....and I'll tell you
what I know." Data seemed to be weighing his options, Will assumed he was
trying to figure out why he hadn't been infected.
"Very well Commander. I studied the bodies of the Questarians found at the
consulate. The bodies were badly mutalated....but there seemed to be very
"What are you saying Data?" Will shifted his weight, becoming impatient with
Data's slow explanation. He knew his time was limited....Deanna would be
looking for him soon.
"I believe the bodies were dead long before the explosion. Placed in the
rubble to make it appear they were the culprits. I believe it was an attempt
to keep the enterprise on Maurvia." Will was stunned, how long had Data had
these suspicions, and what, if anything had he known about his theory.
"Data, the DNA..." Data interrupted his commanding officer.
"Yes Sir, I am aware of the DNA break down....and the original inhabitants
of the bodies in sickbay."
"Original inhabitants....What are you saying Data?" He asked the question,
but he knew what Data meant.
"I have isolated the virus that seems to be affecting the crew." For some
reason the term virus came as a relief to Will. <Where there's a virus,
there's a cure.> His relief extinguished quickly by Data.
"The virus is evolving into a life form. A life form incapable of surviving
without a host body."
"And your saying the Questarians are all infected." Data cocked his head at
Will.....Will felt his stomach churn.
"The Questarians do not exist. And after studying the trace pattern taken
from the transporter on the Chancellor, the Maurvians are also only hosts."
"Data...What your saying is the federation has a treaty with a virus."
Will's voice elevated with the frustration he was feeling....And the
horrific dread that some unknown was using Deanna to thrive. He felt an
overwhelming urge to go to her, transport her back to the enterprise and
place her in stasis ....at least maybe he could slow the progression of
whatever was growing inside her. He turned to leave, Data's strong hand
stopping him dead in his tracks.
"What you are planning is highly illogical. But I believe my findings on
Princess Manara could be helpful."
He turned his attention from Data to the ballroom...the doors were made of
tinted glass but he could see Deanna on the other side of the room. He had
to get to her, stop whatever was happening to her. He was feeling helpless,
and angry..."Damit why aren't I infected!?" He spun around to face Data.
"I do not know Sir. But I believe there is someone who will." Will knew he
was speaking of the princess, but he was having a hard time focusing on the
problem at hand.....his thoughts continually turning to Deanna.
"Tell me about the princess Data?" Data waited until he was sure he had
Will's full attention before continuing.
"You are aware that the human body is in a constant state of evolution. Even
in only fifty year of time, there are minute chances in brain progression."
Data paused, Will curtly responded.
"Damit Data...go on!"
"The trace patterns of Princess Manara prove her to be human.... Yet her
evolutionary code is over four hundred years behind your own." Will so
shocked by Data's words, he finally centered all his attentions on the
"She's a teenager Data. She told me herself, she's seventeen!"
"Yes Sir she is an adolescent ....but she is an adolescent from the late
twenty century." Will looked at Data, wondering if his assumption that Data
was safe from the virus was untrue...maybe it had somehow invaded his
positronic matrix. They both turned sharply at the sound of the ground that
rustled behind them.
"Are you mad at me?" Such an ingenuous question, and it was quite clear to
Will that was all she really did care about right now. He put his arms
firmly on her shoulders, ignoring the tears that misted over her blue eyes.
"Yea! I'm mad as hell. and if you don't tell me what's going on, I'll ....."
"Sir, I do not believe this to be a productive way to handle the situation."
Will felt an overwhelming desire to slug him, but knowing he would end up on
the losing side of coin again, he thought better of it. His eyes were
ablaze, he turned to the android. "OK doctor Spock...how would you handle
it?" Will held securely onto Manara's arm and listened to data.
"I have set the transporters to automatic ...on my command we may beam back
to the enterprise and raise shields. The others will be forced to remain on
the planet, and conceivably we can help them."
Will stood in astonishment. Data had planned a mutiny, he should have known
his loyalties would lie with the federation.
"You were planning on leaving us all here!?"
"I would not have left you, but I could not take the chance of contaminating
in the federation with the virus. To be
honest Sir, I still find it
most puzzling you were not infected." Data's question answered by the
trembling voice of Manara.
" I stopped it. I couldn't let it happen to you too." Her eyes were wide,
she looked at him with the same flirtatious desire she had on the other
planet. He softened his grip on her arm.
"How?" She reached into the deep pockets of her dress, retrieving some sort
of forked instrument. She handed it willingly to Will.
"It is a cross pollinator." Will examined it closely, the two hollow metal
prongs leading to a small tank that held what looked like blood. He ran his
hand over the back of his neck, the tines of the alien instrument matching
the puncture wounds Beverly had found on his neck.
"Where did you get this? Can you use it to save the others?" She looked at
him, eyes filled with dejection.
"Those that left me here, left this." She pointed to the object, her sobs
calling the attention of the other's in the room.
"We will discuss this on the ship>" Data also noticing the eyes of the
others looking towards them. Will turned towards the ballroom. "I'll be
right back." Data knew where he was headed, and what his intentions were.
"No Sir, you will not. You will accompany us to the beam out spot." Will
turned to face the Android, and the phaser he held securely in his hand.
Will shot him a look of disbelief, Data aiming the phaser not at Will but
into the ballroom towards Deanna.
"You wouldn't Data...You couldn't?" Will's eyes reflected gray in the light
of the twin moons.
"I hope I do not have to decide." Will closed his eyes and nodded a
reluctant agreement to data, catching one last glimpse of Deanna before
following him to the beam out spot.
The three materialized on the transporter pad, Data immediately giving the
order to the computer to raise shields. And in a voice exactly like Jean luc
Picards, he ordered all ships functions turned over to Commander William T
"I hope I have done the right thing in trusting you commander?" Will offered
Data a smile of admiration. Data could have given ships controls to himself,
he knew it was a big stretch for Data to trust him as he did under the
circumstances. Will's eyes fell to rest on the princess, he had been around
long enough to know the look of a love struck teenager...He was sure at some
point in his life he had had it also.
"Can you tell me everything....Please?" He spoke softly, trying with all he
had to keep his anger and frustration sequestered. She nodded to him, and
sat on the transporter room floor, Will sat next to her, allowing her to
lean against him...hoping to offer her a stability she seemed to need.
"Tell us about those that left you here?" He leaned back against the
transporter room wall, she settled against his chest. He immediately felt
her uneven breathing, and knew she was afraid.
"It's OK, we can help you." It was all he could do, to stay calm...his
deepest need was to shout and ask how long he had to save Deanna, but he
reigned in his fears and listened to her story.
"What your friend said was true, I am not from this time....In the twentieth
century there were many accountings of UFO abductions." She pushed off of
Will's chest, and looked into his eyes.
"I was abducted...but the word isn't fitting. I chose to help the
Vorcons....in an attempt for them to better understand us. They were never
cruel, nor was I ever taken against my will." She seemed to be reaching out
to him, looking for a reassurance she hadn't felt in a very long time. He
put his arm around her shoulder, pulling her to him in hopes of offering her
the solace she sought. She nestled closer to him and continued.
"Two days after my seventeenth birthday my family and I were preparing for a
trip, the Vorcons came and ask me to join them..." Data stood rigidly at
attention processing the princess's story.
"Please continue, this is most intriguing." She let out a heavy sigh, before
"But this time it was different, only hours after I joined them they became
very ill...as did I." She looked up to Will, again he nodded reassuringly, a
task that was becoming more and more difficult.
Data spoke. "Interesting, if my memories of the Vorcon race are correct this
could prove valuable insight." Will looked at him, he himself having no
memory of a race known as Vorcons. "What Data."
"The entire race known as Vorcons were mysteriously wiped out my an unknown
plague over four hundred years ago, long before Star Fleet existed." The
princess sat up, tears had welled up in her eyes. "They're all dead?" Data
nodded to her. "And you were not ill when you boarded the Vorcon ship, and
yet you survive now. Curious."
"They left me on the unoccupied planet and told me they'd come back when
they had found what was wrong. They never returned." And in an almost
defiant voice she added. "NO, I was not ill...quite the opposite, I had just
gotten a clean bill of health from my doctor only hours before I joined
them." Data pondered the Princess's statement, Will found it amazing Doctor
Soong had programmed Data with information on a society that was four
hundred years old. But then when it came to Doctor Soong amazing was an
"May I speak with you privately Sir?" Will got up, squeezing Manara's hand
tightly before following Data into the corridor. Data fingered the cross
pollinator the princess had given Will, cocking his head, he spoke his
"My hypothesis may be incorrect...but I believe the princess carried the
virus that destroyed the Vorcans, not the other way around."
"If my programming is not in error, in the twenty century Doctors used live
strains of viruses to protect humans from the viruses themselves. It would
be unknown how an earth bound virus would react to an unknown atmosphere. It
is therefore possible if we find the virus she had been vaccinated against,
we may find a cure." Will looked hopeful, a twinkle returning to his weary
"The cross pollinator ..the princess already proved she could prevent the
"Prevent Sir. Once the virus has taken hold I do not believe the antibodies
that she used to protect you would destroy the live virus." Will's
adrenaline was pumping. "Lets get to work Data!" He practically shouted the
order and turned towards the transporter room. Data stood very still,
seemingly deliberating something.
"Commander.?" Will stopped and turned to him.
"I would not have harmed Counselor Troi."
"I know that my friend." He slapped Data on the back. "Now lets move!"
paced the room while Data insistently questioned Manara on her memories
of the time before she was taken aboard the Vornon ship. She sent him
several looks, reflecting the hurt he had caused her earlier. He hadn't
meant to yell at her, but her answer for some reason infuriated him. He had
ask her about the cross pollinator she had used to immunize him against the
virus... Apparently the two tubes used to extract blood, and dna....the
compounds then mixed in the center chamber with the immune antibodies and
reinjected themselves back into the person whom one wished to be protect.
But that was not what had angered him, when he ask her why she had chosen to
protect him after all these years, her simple answer was "Because you were
cute." He knew it to be a typical adolescent response, but he had chastised
her into tears, and she hadn't spoken to him since. Even now he felt an
unsettling amount of rage towards her....He couldn't silence it. He knew she
was just as much of a victim in this as the others, but something gnawed at
his soul. . And out of nowhere, as if the fire that burned from his deep
blue eyes had burned through to her heart, she shot to her feet, and in one
hysterical moment she screamed. "I tried to save all of you! Even that woman
that means so much to you....especially her!" She fell into a sobbing heap
on the floor, Data ignoring the juvenile out burst, but Will shot quickly to
"How? How did you try to save Deanna, and the others?"
"The plants of ice...they grow on the planet, I brought them here."
Data stared at them both, and in an instantaneous moment he jumped to his
feet, pulling his phaser from his belt.
"Stop this charade!" He aimed his phaser at both of them.
"Data what the hell are you doing?" Riker's eyes narrowed, he stepped
towards the android.
" Computer scan the planet... Seek out all Banrnan plants, and destroy
them...release toxin into the planets atmosphere. Employ similar measures on
"Belay that order!" The words shot from Will's mouth the computer ignoring
him and following Data's Command.
"I'm sorry Sir...but I too had my own pretense. Your acting was brilliant,
and I was almost fooled by you Commander. But your reaction to my phaser
pointed at Counselor Troi was far too passive....I also believe your
forgiveness came to easily." Data stared at him, Will's blue eyes slowly
covering over with a black film, his body literally melting into a large
mass of jellied organs. The princess also began to decompose into her true
form. The toxin Data had released into the atmosphere slowly halting the
pulsing of the black ooze that covered the floor of sickbay. Data scanned
the remains, his tricorder readings showing no life signs, but on the side
of caution he initiated a force field around the masses.
"Picard to enterprise. What the hells going on Data." Data tapped his comm
badge responding to his Captain.
"How are you feeling Sir?" Captain Picard's angry reply came quickly.
"Confused...but I would say my most prevalent feeling right now is anger!"
Data unaffected by the curt response.
"Please stand by.Sir.......Computer reconfigure all transport buffers to my
configurations, and beam Captain Picard, and Counselor Troi directly to
sickbay." The sound of the computer accessing was momentary ....The two
officers quickly shimmered into existence.
Captain Picard's anger was evident by the deep lines on his face.
"Data! I insist you tell me why you are keeping the crew off MY ship!" Data
scanned his tricorder over the two, ignoring the captain's words of
"Computer" The Captain's voice was elevating. "Allow all crew members to
beam on board."
"Unable to comply." Data studied his tricorder before speaking.
"Return Command functions to Picard Jean luc................." Picard let
out a heavy sigh
"Thank you Mister Data. Now please explain yourself."
"very well Sir....Counselor perhaps you should sit down." Deanna wrapped her
arms around herself, the words she feared each time Will left the ship
reaching her ears and breaking her heart.
"I am afraid Commander Riker is dead." Captain Picard's heart sank, he
helped Counselor Troi to the closest chair. He also settled into one, as
Data continued his explanation.
"The virus that attempted to consume the crew was a mutation of the earth
disease known as small pox. The virus combined with an element known as
methine, which is released by the plant known as Banrnan or ice plant
created this phenomenon. After years of mutation the virus literally became
a lifeform...a life form incapable of living without the cells of humanoid
physiology." Picard was silent, Data continued. "The virus, or life form
became obsessed with this new existence it created for itself. Unable to
leave this planet...it pulled people into it's web in an attempt to conquer
from the only place it was capable of existing."
"Are you certain of this Data.?" Data pondered the captain's question. "It
seems the only logical explanat....."
"He's not dead!" She jumped to her feet, her voice laced with grief stricken
sobs. Captain Picard held her firmly by the shoulders.
"Counselor. It is better he is dead, then to have lived consumed by another
life form." She looked into the concerned eyes of her Captain....knowing he
was speaking from experience and referring to his consumption by the Borg.
She broke free of his grasp, her world spiraling downward.
"NO! Your both wrong! I know he's alive."
"I am sorry Counselor, but his body was absorbed just as yours would have
been. Commander Riker was injected directly with the viral host, his body
would have sur come quickly to the process." She spun around to face the
Captain her eyes wild with desperation.
Data looked perplexed he pointed to the masses inside the force field.
"What is left of Comman.."
"That will be quite enough Mister Data!" The Captains sharp warning
silencing the android quickly.
The tears streamed down her cheeks her eyes pleading with the Captain....and
between her sobs she begged him "Please.....don't give up on him."
Picard looked at her for along time, her tears pulling at his own heart, and
his own feelings of loss. He nodded slowly, turning to Data.
"Mister Data, lower the force field..... scan the masses for Commander
Deanna felt her hopes rising as she watched Data scan the remains of the
life forms....his rescans and perplexed expression suggesting his readings
not what he had expected.
"Mister Data?" The captains impatience evident in his tone.
Data darted his eyes between the Captain and counselor...appearing to be
accessing his thoughts before speaking.
"There is evidence of Commander Rikers DNA but only in the base pattern.
This appears to be only a replica of the man we know." Data retrieved the
cross pollinator from the examination table, holding it up to the two
officers he continued.
"This looks to be what sustained the life form in Commander Rikers
state....constant infusion of his DNA through the two small puncture wounds
in his neck. It is highly improbable, but I believe the process was
accomplished by cryogenic molecular reproduction." Picard raised an eyebrow
in fascination, the concept very familiar to him, his studies of human
history often focusing on the undertakings of early earth culture to attempt
the process. Picard shot a quick glance to Deanna, she looked directly at
him but her mind seemed to be somewhere else. He assumed searching for Will,
in a way he couldn't quite comprehend...he stuck to his logical instincts
and spoke softly to the android.
"Why was Commander Riker affected differently then the rest of us?"
"I believe he is not the only member of the crew to be replicated." Data
cocked his head towards the unconscious body of the Klingon. "If you check
his neck I believe he will also possess the puncture marks. And if my
hypothesis is correct all of the Questarians will possess the marks as
well....the cryogenic process the final step in the evolution of the life
form. The Questarians only shells created by the DNA of others...The
Marvians hosts, used as incubators for the young virus until it is strong
enough to survive in the manufactured shell." The Captain rubbed his face,
pondering the concept he found quite revolting. He again turned his
attentions to the distant eyes of the Betazoid, her silence becoming
"Counselor?" He kept his voice soft, not fully understanding the betazoid
mind, and hoping not to startle her. "Are you sensing anything?" The steady
sound of her commanding officers voice pulling her mind back to the sickbay,
and away from her desperate search for Will.
"No Sir. But I'm sure he's not dead." She held her composure, her eyes
focusing first on the captain and then Data.
"As am I Sir." Data looking almost surprised that either would have
considered the fact that Commander Riker were dead. "The vessel used for the
DNA reproduction must be kept alive." Captain Picard nodded in agreement,
before responding to Data.
"And in an extremely cold climate if I'm not mistaken Mister Data>" Deanna
let out a sigh of frustration, the Captain and Data seeming to have formed a
mutual admiration society for the progression of this life form.
"So where is Commander Riker?" She said, trying to keep her agitation out of
"I do not believe he ever returned from the planet...and his accidental leap
over the cliff into the cold water a carefully orchestrated plan to use his
body....but more importantly his thought processes." Something haunting
about another man with Will's thought processes, although it would explain
why she hadn't sensed anything before she was infected, and used as a host.
"As soon as the crew has returned to the enterprise, set course for
Questaria. We'll discuss this further in a staff meeting in my ready room."
He turned to leave sick bay, a reassuring look sent to Deanna before he
exited. She felt his determination and resolve, and as always the strength
of this man amazed her.
She stood alone in sick bay for a moment, looking at the body of the man
that seemed to be Worf, she knew once the stasis field were released he
would cease to exist just as Will's replica had. She wrapped her arms around
herself, something deep in her core screaming that something was wrong. She
couldn't sense Will's thoughts, but something told her he was not as far
away as Questaria. Walking down the corridor to her quarters she spoke to
the ships computer.
"Computer...how many Questarians are there in existence, based on biological
DNA patterns." The sound of the computer was instantaneous, the chill that
had seemed to be cutting through her increased with the response.
There are seventeen variations of Questarian DNA."
<Seventeen victims were being used as Will and Worf> She thought, reaching
for her comm badge. She tapped it softly, she felt the sting of her numb
fingers, fingers that seemed to have been submerged in ice for hours.
Instead of contacting the Captain as she planned she blew on her cold
fingers, the frigid cold increased as she moved forward, she felt the
permeating chill to the tips of her toes. Stepping onto the turbo lift she
spoke her destination.
"Deck two." She closed her eyes as the turbo lift moved, hoping whatever had
pulled her here was wrong. The blast of cold air that blew in her face as
the doors slid open, told her the opposite. She brushed the frost off the
glass that led to the morgue, her eyes focusing on one large chamber. Will
Riker laid encased in a block of ice, small tubes leading to the outside
<Gods! They've created their own hibernation chambers on the enterprise!>
She turned to run, go back to the turbo lift, warn the others that somehow
this life form was breeding in a shielded environment on the ship. She
stopped suddenly, Will's strong hands on her shoulders, his eyes reaching to
her soul, his mind softly brushing against hers.
"Deanna, I can't let you go. But now we'll be together." His voice was soft
but insistent. She looked at him, by all accounts he was Will, her
imzadi.....A part of her wanting to fall into the warmth of his arms. But
the man she really loved lay buried in a sheet of ice, and she had to save
him. She walked closer to the impostor, possessing Will's thought processes
he pulled her closer. With all the strength she could muster she brought her
knee into his groin, and prayed the pain threshold of the life form would be
the same as the man.
groans of pain echoed around her as she struggled with the turbo lift
doors. She knew the stamina of the man she had incapacitated, and he
wouldn't be down long. She gave up on the doors and headed down the metal
corridors, this part of the ship mostly machinery, and a place she had only
been a few times. Will's groans slowly ebbed, she searched her surroundings
for a place to hide.
"Deanna!" His voice still laced with pain, his footsteps loud against the
metal floor. She squeezed herself through two columns that would shelter her
in darkness, her tiny body fitting through easily. She pulled herself into
the shadows behind the larger column, clearing her mind, hoping he wouldn't
sense her location. His foot steps grew louder, stopping abruptly a few feet
away from her hiding place. She held her breath and waited, watching Will
through the shadows ......His eyes seemed to meet with hers, but to her
surprise he turned and headed back the way he came. She remained motionless,
fear and confusion over what had just occurred twisting through her mind.
She was sure he had seen her, and perhaps he was waiting for her to come
out.....If there was one constant about Will Riker, it was there were no
constants...he was clever and cunning, his decisions at times totally
unexpected. The things she had always admired about the man, now the things
that were causing her fear. <Ironic> she thought. <I always knew there was a
reason I stayed on his good side.>
She looked around the small cocoon she had encased herself in, the flicker
of lights from the control panel on the wall catching her eye.
<Manual environmental controls. that's why they chose deck two.> She sat
quietly a moment longer, listening with her ears and her mind for anything
that would indicate Will was still nearby. But only her breathing and the
gentle hum of the warp engines enveloped her. She tapped her comm badge, no
response....the jefferies tube she had run by while fleeing Will's alter
ego, sealed tightly.
Her knowledge of Cryogenics was very limited, but she knew if she raised the
temperature in the morgue, Will would die....but she also knew she needed
help, she had to get a message to the bridge. Her mind was spinning with
questions, two of them taking center stage and stilling the others. Why had
Will left her here, was it possible he loved her just as the man that lay in
the morgue, had he let her go on purpose? Was his mind powerful enough to
overcome the life force that was using him, or was there a constant link
between the vessel and the clones that housed the life force. The thought
made her shutter, knowing how Will would feel if he were aware of all that
was going on with his clone, and being unable to stop it. She let out a
heavy sigh, knowing the decision she was faced with. Destroy the life forms
by increasing the temperature of there sequestered breeding ground......or
allow the enterprise to carry them who knows where. She knew what her
decision would have to be, she learned the lesson well from the man she
would be sacrificing now. Her hand trembled as she reached for the controls,
her eyes so misted with tears she could hardly see her objective. Her hand
hovered over the switch that would raise the temp, and release the
containment field that protected them.
"I can't do it." She whispered under breath, a rush of warm air encircling
her body and her mind as she spoke.
<Yes you can Imzadi> She wasn't sure if it was Will's voice, or her minds
attempt to reassure her, but the strength she needed crept over
her....reaching for the controls again she hit the switches that would save
the enterprise and destroy the life forms.
The result was instantaneous ....the release of the containment field, the
increase in temperature and Captain Picard's voice all filled her senses.
"Captain....the life forms have created a breeding ground on the enterprise.
You have to get Will and Worf to sickbay!" She choked on the words,
struggling through the columns and running toward the morgue.
"Yes Counselor....Doctor Crusher and a team of security are on there way."
Captain Picard's voice barely audible over the sound of the yellow alert.
She stumbled through the pile of decomposing shells, the life forces inside
them slowly pulsing into non existence. As she entered the morgue, Beverly
and the security team shimmered into existence.
"Beverly you have to help them." Doctor Crusher only nodded, barking orders
as the seventeen bodies were transported to sickbay. Deanna could feel
Beverly's hopelessness, the emotion from a woman who never gave up
escalating her own consternation and grief.
Deanna turned to the voice of Captain Picard. "Computer, raise temperature
in the morgue to one hundred ten degrees, initiate containment field." The
Captain looked with aversion at the masses of life forms on the floor before
focusing his attentions on Deanna. His eyes softened as he looked at her,
almost a fatherly glow shown from them.
"It's what he would have wanted Deanna." His words of reassurance not
allaying her wish that she were the one in sick bay fighting for her life.
Deanna stopped suddenly, the outcry of emotions emanating from
causing her to lose her footing. She leaned against the wall, attempting to
block all but the one she sought, but to no avail .....she had to impede it
all, or she would drown from the intense emotions that engulfed her. She
breathed slowly, ignoring the flood of people that rushed by her, the wealth
of emotions slowly waning, her heart slowing to a rhythmic beating she used
as an anchor.
She pushed open the doors to sickbay, surveying the room, not allowing the
sight of the deceased bodies in front of her to pull her from the place she
had found inside herself. There were twelve bodies on the beds in front of
her, meaning the muted sounds of frenzy around her were working on the
remaining five. She walked warily towards the back rooms in sick bay,
Beverly's voice marked with panic, as she shouted.
"Massive Somatophysical failure! 40 cc's Inoprovalene." She quickened her
pace, she recognized the term and the treatment.....total collapse of all
vital organs. She stood in the doorway, her hope that it had not been Will
Beverly was speaking of dashed as she watched the hyposray penetrate is
neck. The life sign monitors were silent, Will's eyes wide open, a glassy
distant look veiling them. All around her the medical teams worked on the
bodies of the victims...her eyes again meeting with the eyes of death, that
were Will Riker's.
"Dam!" Beverly shouted. Her eyes met with Deanna's for a moment, Deanna
could see the battle that raged behind them. She knew this procedure, she
had seen it before and she knew the decision Beverly was faced with could
result in a fate Will Riker would have considered worse then death ...
permanent brain damage. Beverly held Deanna's eyes, Deanna nodded slightly,
all the encouragement Doctor Crusher needed.
"15 cc's Chlormydride." Deanna held on to the rhythmic beating of her heart,
outside herself she heard the objection from the nurse, and Beverly
repeating her previous order.
"Come on Will....your a stubborn son of bitch, don't disappoint me by
changing now." Beverly scolded him, as she administered the hypospray. His
body jolted in reaction to the almost lethal amount of stimulant Beverly had
just administered him. Deanna kept her eyes on the dormant life sign monitor
beside him, within seconds the distinct beeping of the controls indicated
vital signs returning. Deanna looked at Beverly with hope filled eyes,
Beverly offering a wink of encouragement before continuing her tricorder
The beeping of his vital signs continued, Deanna closed her eyes and lifted
the shield she had placed over her mind.
<Hang on Will> Her thought cast met only with the increase of Will's
heartbeat....She released the cloak on her mind, allowing all the emotions
she had held in check to wash through to her soul.
"Doctor he's going into shock!"
"2 cc's Delactovine!" Beverly ordered. Deanna stood perfectly still, her
expression never shifting, only the tears that rolled down her cheeks
unmasked the grief she was feeling....
She jumped sharply at the voice that murmured softly in her mind.
<I can't imzadi> The plea sending her into motion. She shot to the bio bed,
gripping Doctor crusher by the arm.
"Beverly, he's giving up." Beverly's eyes gleamed with fire, her mouth
twisting into an angry scowl.
"Like hell he is....nobody gives up in my sickbay." She hesitated for a
moment before speaking again, Deanna felt her snarled emotions.
"4 cc's Delactovine." The blue eyes of the nurse, widened with the doctors
"DO IT!" The nurse injected the spray, Doctor Crusher turned to Deanna.
"Talk to him Deanna. Tell him I said to get his ass back here now!" Every
aspect of her was filled with a completely driven wave of determination,
Beverly's drive wrapping itself around Deanna as she reached for Will's
hands and searched for him.
Her breath caught in her throat, he wasn't fighting....defeat the only
emotion that poured over her.
<Will....don't give up> She knew he could hear her, but he seemed to be
running away, unwilling to come back from the place he had fallen into.
<Too weak> She heard the response, squeezing his hand tighter she replied.
<I don't believe that word is in the Will Riker dictionary.....it was
replaced with fight> She had no idea what had happened to him in his ordeal
with the life form but she needed something that would override his total
<I've always loved you imzadi.> The thought cast seemingly a final farewell
<If you die....part of me will die too, the better part....I don't want to
live without you. Don't do this to me> She sent to him all the emotions she
had tried so hard to shield him from, hoping they would touch on the heart
of the man she knew so well.
Will Riker pulled further into the unknown that seemed to be calling
him....a backwash of grief and despair gripping his heart, and his soul. He
immediately recognized there source, unable to ignore the gentle pleas of
the woman he loved more then life itself, he struggled through the straps of
death that had wrapped themselves securely around him.
<I won't die Deanna. I won't die....don't cry>
Deanna felt the amazing wash of his strength, his only thought as he
struggled against a realm she was unfamiliar with, was her. All the
hopelessness he had been feeling smothered by his love and concern. His
desire to stop her from shedding a single tear more important then the pain
and the obstacles he would have to overcome to return to her. She held his
hand to her lips, hoping her own steadiness could help him return to the
living......the sounds of sick bay faded to black, Deanna reaching deeper
inside him then she ever had, pulling him with all the power she could
convene towards home.
"It's all right Deanna, he's stabilized." Deanna
heard Doctor Crushers
soothing voice, and felt the warmth of her hand on her shoulder. It took a
moment for the world around her to come into view, her mind, and soul
completely interlaced with Will's.
The whisper of relief that encompassed Beverly's face, replaced quickly with
concern as she looked into the dark, repentant eyes of the betazoid.
"Did you hear what I said Deanna?" Deanna's eyes again filled with tears,
her body breaking down into uncontrollable sobs.
"What is it Deanna?" Beverly's tone firm but understanding. Deanna kept her
eyes to floor, and muttered softly through her tears.
"I did this." Beverly couldn't believe what she was hearing, she grasp
Deanna's shoulders securely.
"What? Tell me what your talking about!" Deanna raised her eyes to meet the
"It was me.....I injected Will! I didn't remember" She moved her tear ridden
eyes to Will. "But he does. Beverly for a moment he didn't trust me ...I
"Anything you did Deanna was due to your contamination from the virus."
Deanna wiped her face, a futile attempt to stop the tears that streamed down
"It was Manara. She's obsessed with Will." She gestured hysterically toward
the other bodies on the bio beds. "She's obsessed with all these men."
Doctor Crusher bit her lip in an attempt to stop her friends heart wrenching
display from playing on her own frazzled emotions.
"Listen to me. Manara is dead, she's one of the bodies that's DNA has
mutated into what we recognize as a Questarian." Beverly looked away from
Deanna's fearful eyes, the haunting look behind them pulling her in to this
scenario Deanna had created.
"NO.....she is not dead." Deanna screeched the response, digging her nails
into Beverlys arms. "Manara *is* the virus! She was consumed by it hundreds
of years ago in a sick experiment by the Vornons she trusted." Beverly took
a moment to center herself, not wanting to allow Deanna's fears to escalate
into her own.
"Data destroyed the life forms that had mutated from the virus. Your
"No Beverly. Talk to Data about the Vornons, ask him what kind of space
travel they used. Beverly they used inter dimensional space
travel..........Don't you see!" Deanna's hysterical voice sounded through
"That's enough Deanna! If you don't settle down I'll sedate you."
"It's true DOC." Will Riker's muted voice, sounded between Deanna's sobs.
Deanna spun to face him, relief and guilt coursing through her.
"We won't be safe until we close the gateway to Vornon." Will coughed
through his words.
"Will....don't try to talk. We're sending an away team to the planet
now...if what your saying is true they will find the gateway." Will's eyes
grew wide, shimmering with an incredible fear...he looked to Deanna, unable
to find the strength to speak again.
"You have to stop them....NOW!" Deanna offered words for the strong emotions
Will was feeling. Beverly's eyes darted between the two of them, the terror
that shown in both their eyes causing her skin to crawl. <how could she, as
a medical professional believe in a sentient virus...capable of invading the
body in any number of ways, literally undetected.> She tapped her comm badge
"Crusher to Picard."
"Yes Doctor" She could hear the trepidation in the captains voice as he
answered, assuming she was calling him with bad news about Will or Worf.
"Jean Luc, could you meet me in sickbay....Will and Deanna have some
"Will....he's awake... wonderful."
"Yes Sir....please hurry....oh and Captain, if you could delay the away
team." Beverly's request met with a moment of silence as the Captain
"Very well Doctor. On my way....Picard out." Beverly sighed deeply, shaking
her head in disbelief as to what she had just done.
Beverly scanned Will's vital signs and brain patterns while they waited for
the Captain to arrive. Deanna watched her intently trying to sense her
feelings on the results. "How is he Beverly." Beverly looked at the two of
them, Deanna's grip on Will's hand so tight her knuckles were turning
white....Will hardly having the strength to return the grasp.
"First things first Deanna. Lets wait and talk to the captain." Captain
Picard entered the room almost on cue as Beverly finished her sentence.
He smiled broadly at Will, his first officer unable to return the
gesture....but his eyes spoke for him.
"So now...what information do you have that is so dire I needed to stop the
away team?" He surveyed their troubled faces, his eyes stopping to rest on
Counselor Troi. Deanna sensed his impatience and began filling him on what
she had already told the doctor. Picard listened carefully, Deanna sensed
his incredulity but continued filling him on what she had learned from Will.
Picard blew out a frustrated breath of air before casting his eyes on the
"Is this possible?" Beverly's dubious eyes returned his stare.
"I don't see how....nor do I see why."
"I am sorry doctor....but I believe the Counselor is stating an actuality."
All turned their attentions to Data.
"My hearing is far more advanced then most humans. So, though I was not
intentionally listening to your conversation, it was unavoidable for me to
"Yes Data, we understand, you weren't eavesdropping." Picards voice much
sharper then he had planned.
Data's yellow eyes gleamed directly at commander Riker. "Manara's father was
directly responsible for her involvement with the aliens." Will struggled to
speak, his voice thick and hoarse ...and barely audible. "He sacrificed her
for his own obsession with power." Deanna looked at Will with shock, the
thought he had just shared clearly something he had tried to shield from
"How could you know that mister Data." The Captain attempting to curb the
edge in his voice.
"I can understand your skepticism Sir...under normal circumstances Star
fleet would not retain records from 1978. But Manara's father played an
important part in earth history. Her father, Professor Damion Kearney." Data
stopped and watched the reaction of the officers as he mentioned the name.
Each shared the same appalled expression, all but Will, he closed his eyes
to fight the tears that threatened to break in his eyes. This young woman
Manara Kearney had by all counts been a part of him, the pain she felt in
being used as a pawn in her father's fight for power, an open wound to his
heart.....as was the vengeance she felt towards all man. Beverly was the
first to speak.
"Doctor Kearny almost caused world war three with his release of his
biological weapon.." Beverly slapped her hand over her mouth. "Oh my God."
The realization of what Will had been trying to tell them, causing them all
to fall into silence.
"Mister Data, if you are correct about this, it explains
the doctor was able to make in his era." Picard shook his head in disgust.
"Yes Sir, I was able to ascertain the relationship between Doctor Kearney
and Manara by doing a DNA analysis on the only female body. The female, and
the one we thought to be Manara was in fact her daughter. Half human, half
Vornon." Will nodded in agreement, the frustration he was feeling by his
inability to speak evident in his darkened eyes. Deanna centered on him,
opening her mind to what he was struggling to share with the others.
"The gateway to Vornon....it's how she is able to enter our world." Data
gave an all knowing nod to Deanna, Captain Picard ordering the closure of
"Yes Sir." Data said. "We could safely destroy the gateway to Vornon, but in
all reality there are hundreds of others in the universe. I believe this is
a problem too great for one star ship, suggest Star fleet perform
reconnaissance anywhere the ice plant is known to grow. The element methine
the only way she can reproduce, and use her offspring to invade the clones."
Deanna released a visible shutter, before sharing Will's thought with the
"She has successfully eradicated all the Vornons....her only wish to destroy
all life. To have them suffer as her father made her. The men she uses as
DNA donors for her clones forced to live through all their alternates pain,
suffering and deaths....without any hope of freeing themselves." Deanna
turned towards Will, all that he had experienced in his hibernation chamber
reflecting itself on his face, she held his hand tighter, allowing the
solace of her unconditional love to wash over him.
"I'll contact Star Fleet immediately." Picard spun on his heels, leaving the
officers to pondered their fate.
"Come in" The doors to Will's cabin swished open with the invitation, Deanna
studied him closely. He leaned heavily on the cane he had been using for
weeks, he was dressed in civilian clothes, his hair long, his beard unkempt.
He offered her a warm smile, but behind it, the wear and tear of his ordeal
could easily be seen.
"How are you feeling?" Lines of suspicions deepened on his face.
"Are you asking me as ships counselor, or as my friend?" He sat on the couch
and slouched back, Deanna settled next to him.
"Will." His eyes met hers, the hues of blue shifted in the light, but the
love that shown in them a never wavering constant. "Beverly says your long
term memory will return soon. Worf has regained his, and Captain Morris is
making progress as well. Lets go to the holo deck again and see if we can
stimulate some more memories." Will folded his arms tightly across his
chest. "I don't want to. We do that every day. And I don't want to!" Deanna
thought sure with his child like outburst he would soon stomp his foot in
protest. She hid the amusement she felt at the spoiled child display.
"I just want to get back on the bridge Deanna." He made no attempt to keep
the sting out of his voice. "I hate this....my brains swishing around in my
head like klingon gruel. How is it I can remember all my starfleet training,
but I can't remember where I grew, I can't remember my first assignment, I
can't remember...." He stood up and hobbled to the other side of the room.
Deanna felt his profound sadness. "What can't you remember?" He turned to
face her, fighting to hold back the tears that burned in his eyes.
"I can't remember you. I don't know how I met you, how long ago, I don't
remember making love to you...ever! Dam it Deanna, I want to remember." She
stood up and guided him back to the couch...she had waited weeks for him to
release his frustration, it was the break through she'd hoped for. But his
admission still broke her heart.
"Do you remember how you feel about me?" Will's tears had spilled onto his
cheeks, but he didn't care. "Yea, I remember." The anger in his eyes washing
away on his tears. "When I'm with you, God, even if I know your in the same
galaxy ...everything in my heart becomes clear. I love you....imzadi." He
used the word hesitantly ....understanding the bond, but not remembering the
time, that being so important to him.
"Our feelings are the important thing here Will. The bond that we share far
surpasses any physical memories you've repressed." He looked at her
playfully. "That's easy for you to say, you have memories of both. So tell
me again why we stopped being intimate?" He raised a provocative eyebrow and
waited. "I believe we've discussed this at least four dozen times in the
last month. You haven't changed a bit since you were a lieutenant on
Betazed." She smiled coyly as she spoke.
"That's what you keep saying...tell me, did I fail as often then as I do
now." She looked to her lap averting the eyes of passion he had focused on
her. He could feel her arousal as well, his shock apparent when she got off
"Where are you going?" She only smiled teasingly, as she slipped off her
"What are you doing?" <Why'd I say that..shut up Will.> He thought to
himself, he was answered aloud by Deanna.
"Yea, shut up Will." He breathed heavily, watching her remove the last of
her clothing and revealing all of her sensual beauty. She stood in front of
him for a moment, before helping him to his feet.
"Come on Will. Lets create some new memories." He took her hand and followed
her into the bedroom. He knew he had some demons to overcome in the next few
months....but he also knew he could do it....Maybe part of his life was
blank, but one part seemed to always linger, cradling his heart and soul
with strength .... He looked at the small hand he held tightly in his own,
kissing it lightly he vowed it would be the hand he held for all eternity.