OF OPPORTUNITY R
Spookysgirl....just another murder mystery:-)
~Of course they're not mine.....I guarantee you if "he" was, I'd have better
things to do then write fan fiction <BEG>~
more Romulan war birds decloaking!" The warning fused with the sound of
the red alert that pulsed its crimson light over the enterprise bridge.
Commander Will Riker narrowed his eyes at the helpless shuttle held in the
enterprise tractor beam. "Mister Castio I need those transporters back on line."
"Impossible Sir! Our shields are down to sixty percent, rerouting power is out
of the question!" The transporter chiefs words grated over Riker's already
"The war bird is probing the shuttle Sir!"
The pounding in Riker's head pulsed in time with the red glow of the ships
alarm, there was no way out but one....The information in that shuttle was too
vital to the federation to fall into Romulan hands, better it not fall into
"Mister Worf, lock torpedoes on the shuttle."
"Aye Sir." The accepting voice of the klingon warrior sounded from behind him,
intercepted by the not so accepting voice of the young ensign at Ops.
"Lieutenant Murphy is still in there....You can't just murder him!" Riker
averted the emerald green daggers that shot from the ensigns eyes, but even
without acknowledging him he could feel the young man's eyes burning through
"Fire mister Worf!"
Will Riker's eyes flew open as his minds eye replayed the distant memory, just
as it had so many times in the past.
"Welcome back!" The unfamiliar voice meshed with the surging pain that started
in his head and continued to the soles of his feet.
"Where am I?" He licked his lips, the words scratching over his parched throat.
The gray-haired man, dressed in a blue lab coat looked down on him with a
gentle concern in his dark eyes, "The Almoy Infirmary on Risa."
Riker closed his eyes against the pain in his head, choking out far fewer words
then he would have liked, "Wh..Happen."
"Seems you lost control of your land shuttle and flew it into the side of a
cliff." The doctors smile deepened the lines of age on his face, "What do you
remember?" He eyed Riker patently.
"Dinner." Riker's raspy voice moving the doctor to reach for a glass of water,
Riker willingly accepted it before speaking again, "My head." He groaned.
"You've got a nasty concussion, few broken ribs, fractured femur ...under the
circumstances I'd say your a lucky fellow."
Returning the doctor's smile caused him more pain then it was worth, he let the
smile drift from his face.
"Do you know who you are?"
"William Riker." He knew the standard head trauma questions, almost answering
them before they were asked.
"Where you born?"
"Doc, I know who I am, I'd just like to know how the hell I got here?" He
flinched in response to the hypo-spray the doctor pushed against his neck.
"The local authorities brought you in about three hours ago, right after
someone reported seeing your accident." The doctor observed him closely, Riker
knew doctors well enough to know he was gauging his mental stability in
response to the shock.
"I don't remember an accident. ....what time is it?" Will asked, fighting the
haze that was forming over his mind.
"Three thirty a.m."
Will shifted uncomfortably, the last thing he remembered was joining the young
couple he and Deanna had befriended since arriving on Risa. Deanna had backed
out of the dinner plans at the last minute because she wasn't feeling well, but
she'd insisted he go without her.......that was seven thirty, and that seemed
to be the extent of his memories.
"How long do I have to stay here, Doc?"
Will found the doctor's chuckling in response to his question somewhat
puzzling, but not nearly as much so as his next comment. "That's exactly what
your wife said you would say."
"My wife!?" Will raised his brows, grimacing at the pain.
The doctor's chuckling ended abruptly, his smile shifting to a frown of
concern, "You do remember your wife?"
"Of course I do." He cleared his throat, "Can I see her?"
The doctor looked relieved as he nodded and moved towards the door, motioning
through the glass for Will's wife to enter.
Will grinned as Deanna Troi moved inside the room and hurriedly moved to his
"Are you all right?"
"I'll allow you a few minutes....then I need him to get some rest." The doctor
had moved out the door before Deanna had nodded an OK.
"You told a fib?" Will smirked, "Isn't that against Betazoid rules or
something." He hadn't realized how often he raised his eyebrows until now,
apparently stone faced was the only non painful facial expression he could use
"It was the only way they'd let me in.....besides I didn't exactly break it, I
merely bent it to fit the occasion."
"That sounds like a familiar rationalization." He responded, grimacing as her
lips brushed against his eyebrows.
"I'm sorry." She pulled back at his reaction.
"It's all right, it was worth it." He stopped himself before he waggled his
She gently picked up his hand, paying close attention to weather or not she was
causing him any pain, "What happened Will? Shannon and Marc said you left their
bungalow at nine oclock....where did you go?"
He searched her face as though somewhere in her ebony eyes he could find the
time he was missing. He finally shook his head, "I can't remember anything
Deanna." Frustration and the effects of the sedatives sounded heavy in his
Deanna squeezed his hand softly, "It's all right Will. This type of amnesia
isn't unusual after a trauma. It'll all come back to you........you need to
rest." She whispered.
He felt her lips against the skin of his hand and saw her smile whisper over
her face before closing his eyes in surrender to the sedative.
The door chimes rung through the bungalow, stirring Will from the sleep he was
drifting in and out of. The Doctor from the infirmary had allowed him to return
to the bungalow two days after the accident with the stipulation that he not
return to the Enterprise or participate in anything strenuous for another week.
"I'll get it, don't get up Will." Deanna called from the bedroom.
Will rolled his eyes, don't get up Will, I'll get it Will, do you need anything
Will.....he was fastly becoming fed up with this couch side service Deanna had
He eyed the door curiously, listening to the muffled voices coming from outside
before Deanna stepped aside and allowed two men to enter.
"Commander William Riker?" The younger man, dressed in the uniform of the
Risian authorities asked the obvious question.
Will only nodded, he'd had enough dealings with the tiddlywink Risian police
force to automatically raise his shields. In his opinion none of the Risian
officials were worthy of the titles they'd assigned themselves, they were more
like a bunch of playboys who'd assigned themselves to a planet where their
biggest concern was weather the Risian working woman were revealing too much
cleavage ......None of them would know a real crime if it came up behind them
and bit them in the butt.
"I'm Inspector Myers, and this is officer Shanks."
Will leaned back on the couch, eyes narrowed, making no attempt to hide his
distaste and lack of respect for the Risian police force.
"Is there a problem, Inspector?"
"We were hoping you could help us Commander." The man calling himself Inspector
Myers reached inside his jacket and pulled out a small PADD, "Do you know this
man?" He asked, handing the PADD to Riker.
Riker only glanced at the PADD before setting his eyes back on the Inspector,
"I'd be a damn fool if I said I didn't. His names Thomas Riker, he's my
Deanna shifted at the mention of the name, Will issuing her a silent warning to
The expression of concern on the two officers faces was so transparent it was
all Riker could do not to clobber both of them with his cane.
"What's he done now?" Will finally asked.
"When was the last time you saw your brother Commander?"
Will blew out a breath of air and shook his head, "I don't know.....two, maybe
three years ago. If you have something to say Inspector, I'd appreciate it if
you'd spit it out."
Deanna settled on the couch beside Will, Will took her hand in his and waited
for the Inspector to finish his play acting and speak.
"We found Thomas Riker's body three days ago in a chalet near the Cliffs of
Manacu, since that's less then a quarter of a mile from where your shuttle
crashed we thought maybe you'd seen him."
Will silenced Deanna's gasp with a squeeze of his hand, but kept his eyes
locked on the Inspector.
"Sorry, I didn't even know he was on Risa. Tom and I don't keep in close
touch." Will drummed his fingers on the arm of the couch, impatiently waiting
for whatever else this dynamic duo was going to share.
"That's too bad," The Inspector's voluble expression slipping past his
"professional" persona, "Seems he was shot with a phaser at point blank range.
This was the only thing we were able to recover from the crime scene." Myers
again reached in his jacket and tossed his evidence to Will.
"Star fleet issue, wouldn't you say Commander?"
Will turned the communicator over in his hands a few times before raising his
eyes to Myers, "Am I being charged with something Inspector?" Will asked,
masking his own trepidation behind his smug grin.
course not Commander, a Star fleet communicator hardly warrants an arrest."
Inspector Myer had waited endless seconds to reply to Will's question, Will
figured the steely gaze and the long pause had been meant to intimidate him.
"Commander Riker is recovering from a very bad accident, he really needs his
rest." Deanna breached the silence she'd fallen into, standing in an attempt to
motivate the officers towards the door.
"We're aware of your boyfriends condition, and his alleged memory loss." Myers
narrowed his eyes at Deanna, before shifting them to Will. "Hard to believe one
of the best pilots in the federation could lose control of a land shuttle and
kiss the side of a cliff. Bet you're in for some ribbing when you get back to
your star ship." Myer's face cracked into a insolent grin.
Will forced a chuckle, unable to believe what this clown was suggesting. Faking
amnesia seemed like a reasonable thing to suspect, but crashing himself into
the face of cliff to issue himself an alibi was teetering on lunacy.
"Shit happens sometimes, I guess." Will finally returned, "It's not the first
time, and I'm sure it won't be the last time I'm the brunt of someone's
Will was pleased to see Myer's smile slip from his face, Will's response to his
ribbing not what he'd been hoping for.
"It's nice to see the legendary Commander Riker can still laugh at his own
"Legendary?" Will furrowed his brow, "Hardly. I'm just a humble first first
officer doing his job as best he can."
He allowed the snicker that escaped Deanna to go unnoticed, and continued with
his quest to get Watson and Holmes out of his bungalow.
"If I'm not being charged Inspector, and you're aware of my memory lapse
.....You'll have to excuse my ignorance, but I can't see how I can help you."
"Perhaps you're right Commander." Myer's replied, pushing his jacket aside to
display the phaser that hung at his side. Will looked quickly to his lap,
suppressing his smile was out of the question.
"Good night then." Will said, clearing his throat to disguise his chuckle.
"Actually there is one more thing Commander, and we feel we have to ask only
because your own memory is betraying you. Your communicator, I'm sure you can
show it to us."
"Of course. Deanna, will you get my comm badge from the container of personal
affects we brought home from the infirmary." He tilted his head towards the
bedroom, shedding his smile slightly at Deanna's hesitation.
Deanna shook her head, "I'm sorry, of course, I'll get it." She disappeared
into the bedroom, returning seconds later, communicator in hand.
Myers took it from her, and examined it for a moment, "Thank you for your
time." He said, handing the communicator back to Deanna and stepping out the
door Deanna had already opened.
"Good night Inspector." Deanna said, the door she attempted to close stopped
abruptly by Myer's hand.
"I'm assuming communicators are standard issue among all Star fleet personnel?"
Will nodded, right now Deanna's antsy behavior was far more disturbing to him
then Inspector Myer's accusations.
"Ah, very good....thank you again." Myers nodded before finally allowing the
door to close on him.
Deanna leaned against the door and folded her arms across her chest, staring
blankly passed him.
"What's wrong with you? Is this about Tom's death?"
He knew it was only natural that Tom's death would affect her, but it still
didn't make the idea sit any better with him.
"Will, that wasn't your communicator, it was mine. Yours wasn't among the
things we brought home from the hospital."
"What? Deanna... Now you've mastered lying and decided to move up to
obstruction of justice...what were you thinking?" Will's frown personified the
lines of irritation on his face, "I hope you're not thinking what I think
Deanna flopped on the couch beside him, "I'm thinking, that those two officers
already have you tried and convicted for a crime we know you couldn't have
committed. I say we get the jump on them and recreate the night in question
before they come up with anymore incriminating evidence."
A glimmer of a smile tugged at the corners of Will's mouth, "Slow down
Dix.....It's ten O'clock at night, we can't just barge in on Shannon and Marc."
"This is Risa Will, nobody sleeps."
"I wasn't suggesting they were sleeping, Deanna. They are on their honeymoon,
The way he had it figured, he and Deanna were the only couple on the whole damn
planet that were playing detective, or at the very least the only couple
playing detective without any sexual overtones.
He watched her shoulder's slump in disappointment, "Your right, I guess......I
just did not like that Inspector Myer."
"I haven't added him to my Christmas list either." He grinned, massaging
Deanna's arms attempting to ignite some of the wind he'd apparently taken out
of her sails.
"How bout we start with the personal affects we brought home from the hospital,
maybe there's something there that will tell me where I was for those missing
three hours. And then we should contact star fleet, I'd be interested in
knowing whose pie Tom had his fingers in this time." He camouflaged his lack of
optimism behind a reassuring wink, and watched her head for the bedroom.
"Here we go." She returned seconds later, and dumped the contents of the
hospital container on the couch beside him.
Will moved his eyes over the items strewn on the couch, 'I don't recognize
this." He said, picking up the shiny blue access card and reading the silver
writing etched in its surface, "It's for a motel in town called the Naked Lady.
I stayed there once a few years ago with...." He realized he was thinking out
loud and stopped himself before he dug a hole he couldn't climb out of.
"Why would I have this?" He asked, raising his eyes to Deanna.
"That's a good question." Deanna replied gingerly, offering up her own clues,
"There's two receipts here from the night in question. One for the florist and
the flowers you sent me, and the others for a dinner at the Escape."
Will brushed his hands over his beard, an icy tickle running up his spine....he
knew he'd only lost the memories and he'd been doing something in those missing
three hours.....But somehow viewing the evidence of his forgotten escapades
that night was almost haunting.
"I don't remember sending flowers. And why would I go to dinner after just
eating dinner with the Knights?"
"The flowers are right over there." She gestured with her chin to the large
vase of roses on the table.
"They're nice." he answered distractedly, still gripping the access card
tightly in his hand. "First thing in the morning I'd like to check out the
naked lady and the escape. Find out exactly what I did while I was sleep
walking around Risa."
"Will." Deanna whispered, pinning him with with one of her all knowing looks,
"You think you were with Tom that night, don't you?"
"I don't know what to think, but the location of the crash, the fact that a
starfleet communicator was found at the scene, and mine just happens to be
missing. It is a possibility Deanna." He blew out a frustrated breath and
flopped his head back on the couch, "Besides." He added sarcastically, "It
seems only fitting that even in his death he'd find a way to bust my chops."
up Deanna!" Will called to the closed bedroom door.
He was confident Risa's finest would be back again this morning to toss a few
more innuendoes his way, and he had no intentions of being available.
"I'm almost ready." Deanna's muffled voice responded calmly to his anxious plea.
"Yea right." He mumbled under his breath, before casting a venomous glare to
the flashing computer terminal in front of him.
~ Access denied, level seven code clearance only ~
Seemed he stood a better chance of single-handedly overthrowing the Romulan
empire, then accessing any information on Tom Riker's covert life.
He'd been sitting there longer then he'd like to admit, and certainly longer
then he would allow Deanna to believe. Sleep had eluded him, the prospect of
restoring his lost three hours, and the nightmares that insisted on invading
his mind, had forced him from his bed over four hours ago.
He shut the terminal down with more force then necessary, and downed the rest
of the bitter coffee he'd been sipping for hours.
"Any luck?" Deanna slipped her hand over his shoulder, and set a steaming mug
of coffee in front of him.
"Are you kidding." He responded, tilting his head up to look at her, "Took a
level four access code just to find out the guys blood type."
The lines of fatigue and frustration on his face softened as she smiled down on
him, seemed there was always something in that face, and those dark eyes that
alleviated any stress he was under.
"You look beautiful Deanna." He slid his eyes over her, appreciating how the
pink silk of her dress seemed to know exactly where to cling, and where not to,
creating a much more pleasurable puzzle then the one he'd been working on most
of the night.
"I wish I could return the compliment," She answered, arching a dark brow, "Did
you sleep at all?"
"Of course I did." He lied, following her eyes to the row of empty coffee mugs
lined up on the desk. Lying to her had never actually worked, the best he could
hope for was for her to let it slid, he breathed a sigh of relief as she
gestured for the door without challenging him, "Shall we?"
He grimaced as he lifted himself to his feet, his still healing body protesting
its sudden change in positions.
"I'll meet you in front of The Naked Lady at eleven o'clock." He said
It had taken over an hour of persuasion to convince her that they could cover
more ground if they split up, he wasn't sure if he'd actually persuaded her, or
she'd just gotten too tired to argue the point.....Either way, it was nice to
finally win an argument with Deanna.
"Fine," She sighed, following him to the door, "I just don't...."
He covered her mouth with his, her struggle to speak against his lips stilled
almost instantly. His distraction lingered longer then he'd planed, he pulled
away slowly before speaking, "I'll be careful....I love you."
She followed him silently out the door, stopping him just short of the land
shuttle, "Are you sure you're all right?"
Her dark eyes seemed to be probing him so deeply, he found himself shifting
under her scrutiny. "Sure.....why?" He smiled down on her.
"Never mind." She replied, shaking her head, "I'll see you in a few hours."
He waved to her as she headed down the path that lead to Shannon and Marc's
bungalow, before starting the shuttle and heading to his first destination. Any
fatigue and frustration he'd been feeling while sitting in front of the
computer terminal, pushed out of his body by the current of anticipation that
snapped through his veins.
The location of the florist shop proved to be only a stones throw away from the
resort he and Deanna were staying in. Stepping out of the shuttle he
concentrated on his senses, looking for any sound or smell that might jar his
memory. His disappointment was minimal as he realized nothing seemed familiar.
The doors to the small building slid open, he moved his eyes over the
arrangements of exotic flowers, intricate statues, and various knickknacks,
before stepping inside, and resting his eyes on the woman behind the marble
"May I help you?"
The petite woman leaned against the counter, strands of her jet black hair
falling over her emerald green eyes.
"I hope so." Will admitted, "I don't suppose you were working this past
Wednesday night?" He pulled up one of his most charming smiles, and hoped it
wasn't marred by the pain his body insisted on inflicting him with.
"Yes, I was here.....is there a problem?" She stopped massaging the counter
top, instead drumming her polished nails over the smooth surface.
"No, not at all. I was in here Wednesday night buying flowers for a friend." He
hesitated, it didn't look like there was anyway he could ask his question
without sharing the fact he was suffering from a loss of memory.
"I don't think so." She cut in, "I'm certain I'd remember if I'd seen you
before." She glided her eyes suggestively over him, and nodded her head
approvingly. "You must be thinking of another florist."
"No, I'm certain this is the place, as a matter of fact I have a receipt from
my purchase.....two dozen yellow roses?"
Will dug into his pocket for the thin metallic receipt, sliding a sideways
glance towards the provocative green eyes that seemed more interested in what
was hidden in his pockets then he was.
"How close of a friend is this person you were buying flowers for Wednesday
night?" She finished examining Will's pockets and pinned him with bewitching
Will skirted the question, instead cocking his brows mysteriously, "The name on
this receipt is Janine. Is that you?" He whispered.
The woman's playful eyes widened, her smile twisted into a frown, "That's
impossible!" She snapped, pulling the receipt from his hand and studying it
closely, "I don't understand this."
Will shifted impatiently, "What?"
"This is dated only three days ago, and it is one of our specially designed
receipts ....But Janine hasn't worked here in well over a year."
Will flopped his head forward, shaking it slowly before returning his gaze to
her, "Was there anyone else here on Wednesday night?"
She shook her head.
"Do you keep a record of who you have flowers delivered to?"
"Sure." She replied, accessing the small computer terminal on the counter.
Will offered Deanna's name, and the location of their bungalow ......Somehow he
wasn't too surprised when neither showed up in her files.
"I'm sorry to have bothered you."
He managed a smile before leaving the building, a tad more bewildered then he'd
been when he arrived.
He tossed the receipt disgustedly to the floor of the shuttle, and closed his
eyes in frustration. His mind allowed him only a moments peace before the
recurring images played out behind his eyes.
<Fire, Mister Worf!>
His eyes flew open, he shook his head to rid himself of the bitter memory that
seemed bent on replaying itself.
Drawing in a deep breath, he ignited the shuttle and tried to rekindle his
hopes that his next stop would prove more advantageous.
Pulling into the location his receipt for the Escape had led him to, he
double-checked the address.
"Son of a bitch!" He growled in frustration, smacking his palm into the console
of the shuttle.
WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY 4
Will stared through the window of the shuttle at the disheveled building beside him, from the piles of kitchen and bar paraphernalia it didn’t take a mastermind to know the place had been completely gutted.
He gave his surroundings the once over before straightening in his seat, and engaging the shuttle engines. He hit the brakes instinctively, catching a glimpse out of the corner of his eye of a middle age man emerging from the ruined building. The man smiled and nodded an acknowledgment over the crates he was carrying, Will hoped he wasn’t misreading the man’s smile, but it sure looked like recognition to him.
He returned the smile and opened the side hatch to the shuttle, the man tossed the crates with the rest and approached him.
“Your a sight for sore eyes!” He took Will’s hand and shook it vigorously, finishing his greeting with a slap on his back. “I heard somebody took a phaser and barbecued your heart.”
Will played along, “The events of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
“That’s exactly what I told the guys, take more then a phaser blast to put down Tommy Riker.” The man’s gray eyes virtually shimmered with admiration.
Will’s insides cringed, <Tommy?>, he thought to himself, nodding his head to the little man.
“What happened here?” Will dropped his smile, and cocked his chin to the damaged building.
The man’s face twisted in disgust, “Some kind of fire, internal extinguishers apparently weren’t in working order.” He smiled sheepishly.
“Too bad, was a nice place.” Will noted
“Yea right,” The man replied sarcastically, “You’re lucky you took off Wednesday night when you did.”
Will narrowed his eyes, he didn’t want to betray his identity to this man that was offering him the most information he’d been able to come up with in hours, but he definitely needed more.
“Tell me was she worth it? That was quite a pile of chips you left behind just to have your disrupter charged, if you know what I mean.” The man waggled a bushy brow, his lips curling into a wicked grin.
Will ran a hand through his hair, matching the man’s grin, “Nothing special.” He shrugged.
The man’s eyes narrowed doubtfully, “That’s hard to believe, the way she was draped all over you on your way out, looked like you weren’t going to make it as far as your shuttle.”
“What can I say, she had all my favorite things wrapped in one little package.” Will grinned mischievously. <Now just tell me what my favorite things are.> He thought.
“I’d imagine most of the men felt the same way, not often we get a classy lady like that at the escape. Longest damn legs I think I’ve ever seen.” He leaned closer to Will, “Tell me, was that mane of blond hair the real thing?”
Will swallowed his chuckle, “I’m afraid you’ll have to find that out for yourself, Tommy Riker never betrays a confidence.” He punctuated his response with a wink.
The man’s face dropped disappointedly, “not a chance in hell of that happening.” He replied, resurrecting his smile.
A woman’s voice screeched from inside the building, causing the little man to instantly react.
“I better move.” He said, tilting his head towards to the door.
Will nodded, “Sounds like a good idea.” He smirked, “Sorry bout the Escape.”
“We’ll have her up and running before you know it.”
“I hope so.” Will encouraged, “And Ethan, do you mind if we keep the fact that I’m alive just between us?”
“Sure thing.” Ethan promised, “But it’s going to take a lot more then a haircut for you to go unnoticed on this planet.”
Will ran his hand over the back of his neck, “Good point, thanks. and good luck.” He offered a crooked smile and headed towards his shuttle.
Will tapped his fingers on the steering column of the shuttle, seemed pretty apparent Tommy Riker was the only one of them that had visited The Escape on Wednesday night.....if the only difference they shared was hair length, he would have stood out like a sore thumb in a place as small as the escape.
Tom leaving a bar with a woman certainly wasn’t out of character, but considering Tom also got himself killed that night, finding out a bit more about the blond sounded like a good idea......of course finding the right classy blond with long legs on a planet like Risa would be like finding needle in a haystack.
He pulled the shuttle up in front of the Naked Lady and checked the chronometer, eleven hundred hours....he was right on time, but no Deanna.
He grumbled a curse under his breath, wondering how Deanna could be such a meticulous ships counselor and yet never afford the same concern to her private life.
He’d give her five minutes, if she wasn’t here then he’d go in alone......Probably safer for him anyway, he hated the idea of accessing the unknown hotel room and finding something that might prove uncomfortable for him. He knew he’d never cheat on Deanna, but he also thought he’d never be stupid enough to crash a shuttle into the side of cliff either.
The longer he sat and watched the minutes drag by, the smarter it seemed for him to go in alone...Deanna would be angry, but if this triggered his memories, she’d forget all about it.
He stepped out of the shuttle and moved through the giant stained glass doors that led to the lobby of the Naked Lady. He moved quickly through the bustling lobby, catching the lift before the doors closed.
Stepping out at his desired floor, he dug in his pocket for the access card.
“426” he spoke to himself, eyeing the doors as he passed them.
The corridor was quiet, but he tossed a look in both directions before stopping in front of his destination, and sliding the card through the appropriate slot. The door responded with a twinkle of blue light and clicked open obediently.
“Hello.” He called, before stepping inside, his eyes widening at the condition of the inside of the room.
“Whoa, looks like somebody was looking for something.” He blew out a breath, and began sorting through the mess on the bed.
Everything he poked through seemed innocent enough, men’s clothes, toiletries, a satin bra, several receipts from the various shops....nothing out of the ordinary. The closet and the bathroom proved equally disappointing, he pushed the button for the drawer on the bedside table, its contents proving what his gut had already told him.
“Thomas Riker.....what were you up to?” His question to himself interrupted by the sound of footfalls nearing the room....too heavy to be Deannas.
This was one of those thirty second decision making situations he’d grown to loath, darting his eyes over the room he found his only source of seclusion. The footfalls had combined with voices now and as he moved the ventilation grate aside and climbed in, he knew who his unwelcome guests were.
<Great, Inspector Clouseau and his silent partner.> He locked himself in, and slowed his breathing, pushing back as far as he could fit in the narrow shaft.
The hum of the ventilation fan made it impossible for him to hear what the two were saying, and from his position all he could see were Inspector Myer’s tacky shoes.
<Shit.> He ran his hand over his face, <Shit, shit>
Will forced himself closer to the opening in the vent, what was being said now seemed more important since Deanna was involved.
“I’m sorry, I must have the wrong room.”
“Tell me Miss Troi, why would Commander Riker be in Thomas Riker’s motel room. He led us to believe he hadn’t had any dealings with his brother in years.”
Will could see the Inspector’s partner moving through the room, obviously checking for his whereabouts.
“I must have misunderstood Commander Riker......I hate to admit this, but I wasn’t really listening to Will when he told me where to meet him. I knew it had something to do with a lady....and skin, but I must have got the name mixed up with another motel.
Will closed his eyes and shook his head, Deanna’s dizzy dame imitation was quite convincing, he hoped.
“But you coincidentally ended up in this particular room?”
“I asked at the desk for Riker...this is where they sent me. Honestly Inspector, it never occurred to me to verify the first name. Now if you’ll excuse me I really need to find......”
“I don’t think so Miss Troi, I think you’ll be coming with us.”
<Shit> Will’s shoulders tightened
“You can’t hold me, I haven’t done anything wrong.”
“That’s not how we saw it I’m afraid....when my partner and I showed up here, you’d already broken in and we found you rummaging through Mister Riker’s things. Guess you’ll just have to wait for your boyfriend to show up and get you out.”
Will slouched his shoulders in defeat, he couldn’t let Deanna spend time in a Risian jail, she’d never forgive him, and he’d never forgive himself.
They wanted him, it was obvious by the fact that Ethan hadn’t been paid a visit by these two morons, they were sticking with the usual system of justice enforced on the planet, “Innocent until we manufacture enough evidence to prove you guilty.”
He had to give himself away, it was the gallant thing to do, it was the only thing to do.
He moved closer to the grate that held him in, his movement to open it stalled by Deanna’s voice ringing through his mind.
<chivalry is dead....don’t be stupid, Riker>
WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY 5
Will stayed crouched in the ventilation vent until the voices had dissipated, and the hum of the fan was the only sound he could hear. He grunted softly as he attempted to shift his position, pushing his hand off the top of the shaft, hoping to alter his weight so he could climb out of this coffin. The smooth metal above him broke away, his hand resting instead on what felt like paper.
He wrenched his wrist to reach into the tiny hole his movements had caused, freeing the tiny package from its covert space. He kicked the grate with his feet, knocked it to the carpeted floor and slid out feet first.
Without getting up, he examined the thin rectangular package, wrapped in shiny paper, and the hand written note scribbled over the shimmering surface.
~ “Always Willing” to help. ~
He recognized the adolescent nickname instantly, and tore the paper off the package, stuffing the remains in his pocket.
<This looks encouraging.> He thought, hitting the access button for the first of the two tiny PADDS.
~ Password enabled ~ Displayed itself over the screen, Will screwed up his face and glared at the screen.
He tucked the PADDS in his jacket pocket, this was not the place to sit and play with Tommy’s secrets, but at least he had something that might explain why Tom was killed, jogging his memory was proving to be a futile attempt.
He lifted himself off the floor, darting his eyes over the room one last time before going to find someone to get Deanna out of jail.
He felt like a fugitive slinking up the back way to Shannon and Marc’s bungalow, but even if it meant hiding in the bushes for a week, he had no intentions of risking another encounter with Risian law enforcement.
Shannon and Marc saw him as he moved out of the shadows, and moved to the walkway that led to the deck. He returned their wave, almost envying them, sprawled out on the lounges in the sun, relaxing, touching, kissing, doing what normal people should be doing on Risa.
“Where’s Deanna, Will?” Shannon lifted her head from Marc’s tanned chest, her hair appearing even more golden against the dark skin of her husband.
“That’s why I’m here....I need a favor.”
“You got it, whatever it is.” Marc smiled warmly, Shannon reinforcing her husbands offer with a nod of her own.
Will flopped in a chair in front of them, resting his arms on his knees, he leaned forward and explained exactly how and why Deanna had ended up in jail.
Shannon was on her feet before he’d finished explaining, “I’ll change right away and go get her.” She blew a kiss to Marc, and smiled encouragingly to Will, “Don’t worry, I’ll have her back before you know it.”
Will and Marc watched her until she’d disappeared inside the bungalow, “You’re a lucky guy Marc.” Will observed.
“And your not?” Marc grinned, running his hand through his wavy dark hair.
“I’ll be lucky if Deanna talks to me.”
The men shared a short lived laugh before Marc’s face grew serious, “Had a visit from an Inspector Myers first thing this morning.”
“That doesn’t surprise me, think the guys sole objective is to pin Tom’s murder on me. This is probably the biggest thing that’s ever happened to him in his sorry life.” He released a disgusted breath, and slouched back in his chair.
“I don’t think he was happy with what we had to offer, did nothing to fuel his quest I’m afraid.” Marc grinned proudly, “How bout you, you have any luck in finding anything that might throw cold water on Risa’s finest.”
Will was pleased to see he wasn’t the only one with little or no respect for the Risian system of justice.
“Actually,” He began, vying to dominate the bodily function that was now teetering on pain, “Actually,” He twisted his face in disgust, going to the bathroom seemed like a low priority right now, but one his body wasn’t going to allow him to ignore. “Do you mind if I use your facilities?”
“You know the way.”
Will was all ready through the doors before Marc had offered his OK.
He closed the bathroom door and granted his body’s urgent request, relief coming instantly....He darted his eyes over the bathroom, noting that Marc and Shannon’s tub was bigger then his and Deannas, and looked much more appealing then the one they’d been assigned. He made a mental note to look into that, if he ever found the courage to come back to this planet again. He also made a mental note to never allow Deanna to hang her bras and panties over the tub rail.
He felt a bit odd examining his friends wife’s under things, but what else was he suppose to do while he was standing there. Seemed this woman owned matching bras and panties in every color of the rainbow, each hanging together in their own separate space. All but one, the blue one, the panties stood alone, deserted by their mate.
He fingered the shiny, almost iridescent blue fabric, paying particular attention to the metallic stitching along the edges. He didn’t like what he was thinking, and if he was wrong and was caught fondling his friends wife’s panties... He couldn’t quite bring himself to chuckle over the scene it would cause, something in his gut was clawing to get out, telling him he knew the missing mate for the panties was sleeping comfortably in Tom Riker’s bed.
He stared at his image in the mirror, his eyes were glazed from lack of sleep, his hair tousled and standing on end, his beard in dire need of grooming, all in all he looked like a madman....and perhaps this was a madman’s theory.... But Shannon was a blond, a beautiful, tall, classy blond, just like the one Tom had left the Escape with, and being with them was the last of his memories of his forgotten evening.
His image in the mirror screwed up its face and shook its head, <That’s impossible, > He thought, <I was with Marc and Shannon.>
<Or was I ?> He asked himself, <I remember dinner.> He argued back, laying the panties on the sink and splashing water over his bearded face.
<I remember sitting down to dinner.> He leaned forward on the sink, and stared hypnotically at the beads of water that glistened on his beard.
He turned away from the gentle blue eyes that looked back at him in the mirror, eyes that trusted his friends, instead focusing on his internal instincts, the ones that hardly ever betrayed him, something he couldn’t always say about friends.
If he was right about this, it would mean there was no dinner, it would also mean that he’d been being manipulated all along, used as a pawn to get rid of Tom Riker, and whatever was hidden on the PADDS he’d found in the ventilation duct.
It might also explain why he hadn’t been able to trigger any memories of his missing time, perhaps he had no memories to trigger.
He balled up the panties and put them in his jacket pocket beside Tom’s mysterious PADDS, and smiled to himself. Least it was a theory.... convoluted and bizarre, and one that might get him into more trouble then he already was, considering Tom died because of it.
He straightened his shoulders and opened the bathroom door, if he was right, he could clear his name, find out what was behind Tom’s death and nail his “friends” butts to the wall.......the way he had figured, his only obstacle was proving it.
WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY 6
“I’m sorry Will, but you have to understand, under the circumstances there’s nothing I can do for you.” The Admiral at the other end of Will’s transmission shook his head regretfully.
“Yea, I understand.” Will snapped, severing the transmission, and holding the blank screen with a malignant glare.
“Thanks for nothing Dad.” he grumbled under his breath, turning his attention to Tom’s PADD.
Getting out of Marc’s bungalow without arousing his suspicions had been easy, explaining to him he knew that Inspector Myers would be looking for him there. Finding another place to stay had also been easy, a friends cabin on the outskirts of the city. Dealing with Deanna was going to be the hardest part of his plan to lay low, especially when she got back to the bungalow and found out he wasn’t there. More then likely he’d already progressed to the top of Deanna’s list of people to hate, this couldn’t make it any worse....he hoped.
“OK Will, password.” He knew he had a snowballs chance in hell of breaking Tom’s code, but he tapped in his first attempt, his password, “jamaharon”. He couldn’t help grinning as the first padd twinkled to life.
“Guess we had something in common after all.” He whispered.
His grin dropped from his face, the tiny screen lit up with what he knew to be sector 21503, the sector of federation space that bordered on Cardassia’s. Also the sector of space the enterprise had spent the last three months patrolling, due to alleged Cardassian interference in the construction of two new federation outposts in the area.
Will narrowed his eyes at the screen, times and star dates for all the attacks on the outposts flashed in crimson letters over the map of the sector.
The Cardassians had long been suspected of stockpiling weapons, of unprovoked attacks against the federation, but none of their acts of terrorism had been proven, until now. They’d made no attempt to hide their aversion to the new outposts, and their constant attacks had pulled the federation into policing the sector in hopes of avoiding a full fledged war. The only thing that appeared slightly out of place on the map was the fact that Tom had the small planet of Vanar highlighted in yellow.
He slouched back in his chair and tossed the PADD on the desk, he could have suspected Tom of just about anything, but working with the Cardassians just didn’t feel right. He reached for the other PADD, the sound of the door opening behind him, redirecting him to the phaser that laid beside it. Swiping it off the desk, he snapped around and targeted the intruder.
“What? Jail and desertion aren’t enough, now you’re going to shoot me.” Deanna stood rigidly, until Will laid the phaser on the desk, “A little jumpy aren’t we?” She added, studying him closely.
“I’m sorry......about everything.” He stood up and put his arms around her, more then surprised that she allowed it, “I had a really shitty day.”
She hugged him tighter, he hid the pain the pressure on his sore ribs was causing him, but then began to wonder if maybe this was a feminine form of payback.
“My day was pretty shitty too.” She punctuated his slang, bringing her arms up between them, so she could again study is unruly appearance.
He started to apologize again, but Deanna’s fingers against his lips halted his attempt. “I think I’m more concerned about you Will, you look terrible, and I can feel how tense you are. Have you remembered something?”
“Deanna,” He began, leading her to the couch and pulling her down beside him, “I’m not sure there’s anything for me to remember.”
He held her eyes with his, as he proceeded to explain everything that had happened to him in the last twelve hours. Her face and her eyes held the same understanding they’d had since he could remember, never wavering to the incredulous looks he’d received from his father.
“So am I crazy?” He concluded his explanation with his own self doubt.
She was silent for a moment longer, “Will I’ve known you for a long time, and in all that time I’ve never known your instincts to be wrong, but....”
Will flopped his head forward, his optimism fading with the dreaded but, “But?”
She lifted his face to meet hers before continuing, understanding, replaced with concern in her ebony eyes, “But, I’m not sure a pair of panties is the equivalent of a smoking gun, and I’m finding it hard to believe that a newly married couple from San Francisco would have anything to do with Federation or Cardassian dealings. There’re school teachers Will, we’ve seen pictures of their classes.” She stroked her hand over his beard, and traced his lips with her thumb before brushing a kiss across them.
Will didn’t respond to the kiss, instead he reached in his jacket pocket and pulled out the panties he’d liberated from Shannon’s bathroom, “They’re unusual though.” He said, holding them up to Deanna.
Deanna chewed her lip to hide her smile, “You stole her panties?!” She pulled them from his hands and arched her brows.
“I am nuts, aren’t I ?” He sighed, slouching back on the overstuffed couch.
“A bit perverted maybe, but not nuts.” She pulled her knees underneath her, her smile doing nothing to eliminate his frown from his face.
“Why don’t we talk about it some more.” She suggested.
Her condescending tone twisted Will’s frown into a sneer, “Knock it off Deanna, I know what you’re doing....and I’m not interested in your psychoanalysis of how my frustration and inability to not be in control is causing me to reach for things that aren’t there!”
“Did I say that?” She asked.
“Of course not!” He snapped, “A counselor never comes how and says what they think, they just beat you with a stick until you relent to their way of thinking!” He rose off the couch, moving back to the desk, he began punching password attempts into the second PADD.
“Will, you’re tired.” She said softly, resting her hands on his shoulders.
“Don’t baby me Deanna, if you don’t want to help me, go wash your hair or something. And then, if I’m wrong, you can have the pleasure of saying I told you so.” He raised his eyes from the PADD long enough for his conviction to lash over her, before punching in another attempt, “Damn.”
“Try..... Imzadi.” Deanna proposed reluctantly, squeezing his shoulder to soften the idea.
Will swallowed hard, ignoring the pain in his heart as he punched in the word. The screen sparkled to life, Will’s jealousy squashed by the information on the screen.
“Well, I can see why Tom is dead.” Will’s eyes never left the screen, “Looks like the Cardassian aren’t the ones responsible for the attacks on the federation outposts.”
“What are you talking about? Who then?”
Will pulled his eyes slowly from the screen, his face contorted with rage, “How bout our own federation. And if these names Tom’s got logged on his screen are correct, I’ve dug my own grave and climbed in, I’m just waiting for someone to throw in the dirt. Check out the first name on Tom’s list of conspirators” He handed the PADD to Deanna with an unsteady hand, “We gotta get the hell out of here.”
Deanna narrowed her eyes at Will’s ominous warning, before quickly looking over the screen, “Will, how much did you tell him?” The fearful crack in Deanna’s voice, brought Will instinctively to his feet.
“Everything, I’m afraid, “ He pulled her against him, “And if he can kill one son, I’m sure he’d have no qualms about killing the other one.”
WINDOW OF OPPURTUNITY 7
“Any luck?” Deanna called from the other room.
Will pulled his face from his hands, and stared at the useless transmission on the screen, before answering Deanna’s question.
“Are you kidding, coincidentally the Enterprise has been called to the Baraia cluster. She’ll be out of communication range for another week. I don’t know who else we can trust.”
That did seem to be the big question right now, his friends had proven to be something other then what they’d claimed, and his own father appeared to have no problem ridding himself of one of his sons.
He ran a hand through his hair, and stared into the bedroom where he’d sent Deanna to find as many provisions as she could before they fled the cabin.
The silence dragged on too long, it propelled him to his feet, and into the bedroom.
His heart accelerated, his eyes darted over the room.... the bag she’d been packing lay abandon on the bed, the window still locked from the inside......he spun towards the closet, the hollow sound of his heart pounding in his ears intensified, as it too proved to be as empty as the bedroom.
He raced out of the room, “Dea...”
Duel disrupter barrels, and two familiar faces stalled his urgent call.
“Where is she?”
Shannon’s eyes slid over the room, a quick nod from Marc sending her in search of Deanna.
“She’s not here.” Will said, holding his hands up in a gesture of surrender.
“Try again Riker, we’ve been watching the cabin for almost an hour....we know she’s here.” Marc scowled, his dark eyes narrowed in contempt. “We were told to keep the killing to a minimum, but seeing how you’re already suspected of killing your brother, I doubt the inept Risian police force will have any problem believing you killed your lover, then turned your weapon on yourself.”
Will sent a sideways glance to Tom’s PADDS, and the phaser on the desk, gauging his ability to reach them before Marc had time to fire.
Shannon’s cursing as she ransacked the cabin in search of Deanna, caused Marc to shift his weight impatiently.
“What’s going on!” He finally shouted.
Shannon appeared in the doorway of the bedroom, her striking features contorted with anger, “We’ll find her eventually Commander, and we’ll kill her just like we killed Tom, and just as we’re going to kill you. Now where the hell is she!” She demanded, holding her face only inches from Wills.
Will shook his head, a vicious grin sweeping over his face. “Kiss my ass lady.”
He held onto his grin, even as the handle of Shannon’s disrupter slammed against his cheek.
“Kill him!” She ordered, moving back to stand beside Marc.
Marc’s hand tightened around his weapon, Will instinctively lunged for the phaser on the desk....the sound of disrupter fire, followed by the sound of splintering wood and screams of pain filled Will’s senses in the seconds before he crashed down on the desk. Its contents spilled to the floor, the phaser sliding out of his reach.
He shot his attention to the spot Marc and Shannon had been standing, their bodies buried beneath two heavy wooden ceiling beams. Unless Marc was the worst shot in the world, someone else had brought the ceiling down on top of them, and he wasn’t going to be defenseless this time.
He peered through the debris that rained from the ceiling, and scrambled for the phaser, his hand falling on black leather instead of the cold metal he’d aimed for.
“Get up!” The no-nonsense voice commanded Will to his feet.
Will’s eyes slid over the muddy leather boots, up the black pant legs, before locking his eyes on the face he knew would be staring down at him.
“Get up!” The voice ordered again, this time punctuating his order with the weapon he had Will pinned under.
Will struggled to his feet, his confusion over this turn of events overshadowed by the waves of anger that were crashing over him.
“You son of a bitch, I should have known you were the one behind this from the beginning. Where’s Deanna?!” He demanded, shoulder’s squared, fist clenched at his sides.
“Let’s just say somewhere, and leave it at that.”
His captor kicked the phaser away as he spoke, and steadied his weapon on Will’s chest, “I need your access code.”
“Sorry.” Will scoffed, flipping a look to the disrupter that had been dislodged from Marc’s grasp when the ceiling beams had sealed his fate.
“You should know I have no qualms about killing you....this is only plan A.” His captor’s response was unaffected by Will’s lack of cooperation.
Will narrowed his eyes, his lip curling into a vindictive grin, “Then you better move on to plan B, “ he snarled, “Because unless you tell me where Deanna is, and what kind of game you’re playing, you’ve got about as much chance of enlisting my help as the Tal Shiar.”
“I don’t want your help! I want your access code, give it to me and I’ll tell you where Deanna is. And then you can go back to your mockery of a life serving the federation.”
“Tell ya what,” Will returned cynically, “I’ll go back to my mockery of a life, if you go back to being dead.”
“God, you’re a jackass,” Tom replied, a disgusted chuckle escaping him, “You have no idea what you’re dealing with.”
Will let his eyes drift to the floor, “I’ll bet I know more then you’d like to believe.”
He smuggled a glimpse of Tom out of the corner of his eye, making sure he’d followed his eyes to the active PADDS.
“You always find yourself snooping in people’s ventilation shafts?” Tom asked snidely.
Will ignored the question, he knew his own facial expressions well enough to know Tom was agonizing over whether or not to trust him.
“Well?,” Will encouraged, “Why don’t you start with something simple, like how the hell you pulled off this murder charade.”
Trusting Tom Riker wasn’t in Will’s itinerary either, making him relax enough so he could get his hands on his weapon was.
Tom bent down and retrieved the PADDS from the floor, his mutual mistrust of Will evident by the tight grip with which he held onto the disrupter.
“Sorry.... I can’t risk trusting you.” Tom finally responded, pocketing the PADDS and pushing his weapon into Will’s chest.
Will had no time to react before the bite of the disruptor sliced through his chest, his body falling instantly into darkness.
WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY 8
The painless calm of the unconscious, gave way to the harsh pain filled sting of reality. He snapped his eyes open, instantly closing them again, blocking out the brilliant light that shined above him. He flung his arm over his eyes to further block the light, wincing as his arm touched on his tender cheek.
Deanna’s soft plea caused him to pull his arm from his eyes, opening them slowly, he squinted against the light.
“Where am I ?” He asked, massaging his hand over his aching chest.
“I’m not sure. Are you all right?”
Deanna lowered her face over his, shadowing his eyes from the brightness.
“Yea,” He groaned, struggling with Deanna’s help to sit up, “Just feel like I was prodded one too many times with a painstik.”
Deanna tore his shirt away, Will only catching a glimpse of the ugly black and blue mass on his chest, before studying his new locale.
“Someone’s got a hell of a decorator.” He commented, eyeing the four white walls that surrounded them, the only interruption in the stark environment, a pulsing blue light that coursed in front of the only exit. “Has to be the cleanest prison I’ve ever seen.” He added.
“This looks like a stun wound?” Deanna remarked, ignoring Will’s observations, “Do you know what happened?”
Will stopped studying the room, “Tommy Riker, that’s what happened.” He snarled, twisting his face in disgust.
Deanna pulled her royal blue sweater tighter around her neck, to protect herself from the cold air in the room, or Will’s words he wasn’t sure.
“Did he hurt you?”
Will reacted to her rigid posture, swinging his feet off the sides of the cold metal slab he was sitting on.
“No.” She answered despondently, “I never saw Thomas, but I thought I felt him.”
Her voice was haunting, and her eyes mirrored the sound, that combined with the ever increasing cold air that was filling the room caused him to shiver. He pushed his anger with Tom and his own trepidation away, focusing all his attentions on Deanna.
“Everything will be all right Deanna,” He encouraged, stroking her hair, her body relaxing into his. He held her to him, outwardly comforting her, inwardly devising some way, anyway to get them out of here.
“Don’t screw this up honey, I need that transmission to come through in twelve hours.” Tom Riker winked at the dark-haired beauty on the screen, before flicking the switch and terminating the transmission. He lifted himself from his chair, and turned his attention to the shambles he’d made of Will’s cabin. He eyed the bodies of Shannon and Marc, and moved towards them. Kneeling beside them, he pried the disrupter from Shannon’s stony grasp and set it aside.
“Sorry lady” He apologized to the corpse, pulling the all ready stiffening body from under the beam, “But you can’t be here.” He hauled her away, and decided he’d dispose of her remains after his setup was complete.
He walked back to the desk, taking Will’s phaser in his hands, he increased the setting to kill and targeted Marc’s body.
Ignoring the dark eyes of death that were staring back at him was impossible,. Killing was one thing, but mutilating the dead was quite another, he turned his face away and fired. He averted his eyes until the flesh of his victim had stopped crackling and only the smell of his handiwork choked the fresh air from the tiny cabin.
After calculating distance, he tossed the phaser aside and retrieved Shannon’s disruptor, and knelt in the spot he’d chosen. Laying the disruptor beside him, he pulled his knife from his boot.
Without giving himself enough time to think about what he was going to do, he cut a chunk of flesh from his arm, and through half opened eyes watched it fall with a splatter to the floor.
He swallowed over the pain and cursed under his breath, quickly using his med kit to mend the wound enough that he could continue.
Wiping the sweat from his brow he smiled shrewdly. This would be more then enough DNA evidence to fool the idiots that served as Risian authorities. It wouldn’t however fool the pesky little redhead from the Enterprise...He hoped he wouldn’t have to worry about that scenario. The enterprise was three days away, more time then he needed. He fried the flesh he’d given up for the cause with Shannon’s disruptor, and watched until it sizzled into nothing..... meticulously careful not to drip any additional blood on the cabin floor.
After going over every inch of the room with his tricorder, he scrambled the outgoing communication he’d made, and slung Shannon’s lifeless body over his shoulder.
A quick boat ride later he returned to the cabin, Shannon’s body safely disposed of, and only one more step before Starfleet believed both Riker’s were dead.
Of course none of this would matter if Will wasn’t doing his part on Vanar....Talking to Will would have been like banging his head against a wall. Will thought too highly of the federation, and without proof, Tom knew there would have been no way he could have convinced him to help him. But if Will was the man he thought he was, once he stumbled onto the reason for the federations need to generate a war, and push their authority further into Cardassian space, Tom hoped he’d shift his alliance, if only temporarily.
He shimmied out from under the cabin, listening for the evidence of his little rewiring project. He heard the snapping, but waited until the faint smell of smoke filled his nose, and small bursts of red and blue fire spat from under the cabin before allowing a satisfied smile to ease over his face.
“Be nice if somebody turned down these God damned lights!” Will barked, raising a brow as the lights obeyed his command.
He pulled his eyes from the panel he was working on and grinned at Deanna.
“Be nice if somebody opened the door.” He spoke hopefully, the hum of the force field halted, the coursing light faded away. He scratched his beard, moving his eyes between the doorway and Deanna’s perplexed expression.
“Be nice if Tom Riker were here so I could wrap my hands around his throat.” He added optimistically. He gave it a second, when nothing happened, he shrugged and held his hand out to Deanna.
“Damn,” He cursed, “I thought I was onto something.”
He checked the now accessible corridor , the light so dim, seeing any further then a few feet was out of the question. He stepped cautiously out, and slung his arm around Deanna’s shoulder. The temperature in the darkened passage, at least forty degrees colder then their earlier prison.
The hollow sound of their feet pounding against the metal flooring echoed louder with each step, the chilling air cut over his skin, and raised goose bumps of suspicion. He tried to still his anxiety, but he couldn’t quite shake the feeling that he was about to become trapped like a fly in Tom Riker’s web.
WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY 9
The sound of Tom’s feet slapping against the dark metal tube he walked through sounded deafeningly in his ears. Reaching out blindly, he punched in the access code for his home away from home and moved inside. A wave of his hand brought the lights to full illumination, the burst of light followed by a shriek of agony.
“Shit...... I’m sorry.” He apologized to the recoiling woman on the bed, dimming the light as fast as he could.
“Are you all right?”
He flew to the bed, and sat down, stroking his hand through her iridescent hair, it shimmered in the dim lighting like an opal, muted colors shifting with her movements.
He’d often wondered what color it would be in the blackness she choose to live in, perhaps only a translucent white, without the shades of pinks and blues transfusing over it.
Releasing a heavy sigh, he took hold of her hand, and squeezed reassuringly, “It’s OK, I think you can open them now.”
This light setting seemed to work for her, it allowed him to see her, but meant she would have to keep her second lids down to shelter her eyes.
She pushed up from her crouched position slowly, finally resting her shaded eyes on him, a blush of a smile enhancing her delicate features.
“I didn’t know you’d be in here.” He offered another apology, pulling his hand from hers as the current began to affect him.
“It’s all right.”
She stretched like a cat, and spoke in a rich voice laced with the residue of sleep.
“I’m glad you’re back.” She purred, tracing her hand over the inside of his thigh.
Tom jerked it away, holding it by the wrist and shaking his head playfully, “That’s playing dirty, Bria.” He waved a disciplinary finger in front of her face, “And I don’t have time to play dirty.”
Bria had a gift, at least he considered it a gift, her kind fed off of the quantum energy of the window, that same energy somehow generated a touch that he liked to think of as magic. Every stroke, every caress, provoked a micro burst of energy that vibrated from each of her pores, and in turn, vibrated over whatever spot she chose to explore.
“How’s our boy doing?” He asked, clearing his throat and his mind from dwelling on the satisfying possibilities.
Bria wrinkled her nose, reaching for the light, she dimmed them a bit more before responding.
“He hasn’t figured anything out yet, he’s not nearly as smart as you were?”
Tom smiled, grabbing her other wrist before she could move her hand to him. He waited until she’d raised her protective lids from her eyes before continuing, loosing himself for a moment in the deep cobalt pools that held him.
“Guess, we should help him.”
He kissed the inside of her wrist, apologizing for the firm grip he held her with.
“Why can’t we just tell him the truth?”
“He won’t believe it. He’s one of those people that has to see to believe.”
“Sounds vaguely like someone else I know.”
She shifted on her knees, struggling against his hold, her emerald chemise falling off her shoulder, revealing more of her ivory skin.
“I don’t think I’d tell him that.” He answered distractedly, his eyes lingering on the upper curve of her breast that had chosen to expose itself.
“I’ll go to him.”
She gave up her fight against his hold and sighed disappointedly.
Tom raised his eyes to hers and nodded.
She slipped off the bed another sigh escaping her, and shed the chemise that had covered her. He watched her silhouetted form in the almost nonexistent light, and leaned back with a thud against the metal wall.
Bria wasn’t her name, it was only what he called her....her real name was long and impossible to pronounce, and considering he found himself moaning it dozens of times in the heat of their lovemaking, he’d decided Bria would be much simpler.
She didn’t answer him, but he could see she was facing him, silently waiting for his orders.
“Send someone else.” He whispered, ridding himself of any clothing that might come between him and Bria’s magic.
“Maybe if you’d listened to Tom instead of automatically suspecting him, we wouldn’t be hiking through the dark, and freezing to death.”
Will snapped around at Deanna’s remark, “Why would I do that Deanna?! Trusting Tom is like trusting a cobra, he may look all pretty and charming but he’s got a nasty bite.”
“He did save your life.”
“For a reason I’ m sure, I already told you he wanted my access code.”
“But you didn’t give it to him, and he didn’t kill you, he sent you here.”
Will rubbed his hands over his beard, looking at a distorted view of Deanna through his steamy breath, “I’m not so sure this is better then death, it’s kinda like my own personal hell, running around in a freezing cold tube listening to you sing Tom Riker’s praises.”
“I am not singing his praises.” Deanna protested, “I’m just saying, maybe this time he’s on the right side.”
He inhaled a deep breath of the stinging cold air and rested his hands firmly on Deanna’s shoulders.
“Maybe, But I think I know enough about Tom to know he’d never support the fe........” His explanation to Deanna trailed off with the sound of footsteps.
Without speaking again he moved towards the sound, weaving and turning through the interconnected tubes until the sound stopped.
“Can you sense anything now Deanna?” He whispered.
She hesitated longer then he was comfortable with before shaking her head...he knew she wouldn’t lie to him, but with holding something due to insufficient information wasn’t out of the question.
He continued without challenging her, a faint sound filtered through the tube... humming, no more like a buzzing increased the further they progressed. Up ahead of them a lavender glow mounted and waned in unison with the sound. He moved cautiously towards it, hesitating before stepping into the chamber that held the source of the subdued light.
He moved his eyes over the subtly lit room, the walls appeared to be about twenty meters high, studded with hundreds of tiny catacombs. ....A very large beehive was all Will could think of to describe it. The muted light pulsed above a white metal slab, surrounded on all four sides by more metal, dormant lights embedded in the surface of the frame. He exchanged a look with Deanna, both their fascination broken by a small woman that entered the room. He pulled back in the shadows, watching her as best he could through the obscure light. The fair skinned woman appeared to see them as she step up to the metal platform, the dormant lights coming alive. She smiled at them briefly before stepping back into the light, until it completely consumed her.
He motioned for Deanna to stay put and eased out of the shadows, closer to the light source....He stopped short as the woman emerge seconds later, aglow with light, each nerve in her body literally sparkling with electrical current. Under normal circumstances he would have rushed to save her, the almost euphoric look on her face, held him still.
He turned and shrugged to Deanna before offering the greeting, his response not what he’d expected.
The returned greeting came from behind him, and was attached to a voice he knew all too well.
“Why the hell did you bring us here!?” Will barked back at him, “And where the hell is here!”
Tom moved calmly and smoothly in front of Will, a woman like the one that had entered the light affixed to his side.
“See that pretty purple glow,” Tom tipped his head towards the light, “That’s quantum energy. Quantum energy that’s been bound so tight it’s penetrating the atmosphere. That’s what your good old federation wants to get their hands on.”
Will’s mind flipped into overdrive, bringing up the few things he knew about quantum physics. After a moment of thought he had to admit that was virtually nothing. “Why Tom, what is it?”
Tom released an unsteady breath, “For them,” He gestured to the two woman, “It’s how they survive. To the federation.....it’s a veritable window of opportunity.”
WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY 10
Will darted his eyes between Tom, Deanna, the two women, and the pulsing purple light, hoping that Tom was going to expand on his vague explanation.
When he was met with only the buzzing of the device, he held out his hands and shrugged, “And?”
Tom rolled his tongue over the inside of his cheek, a maneuver Will was all too familiar with, and one he used himself when he was trying to keep an inappropriate grin off of his face.
“Maybe the simplest way for you to understand, would be to go inside.”
“Not likely,” Will replied, knowing Tom had a snowballs chance in hell of getting him to step into the electrically charged window.
“Ah, come on.....don’t be such a skeptic, I’ll go with you.”
It was disconcerting to be able to recognize tone and facial expression so easily, Tom couldn’t fool him and Tom knew it, and surprisingly enough Will decided he wasn’t trying to.
“Fine, I’ll go.” He relented, questioning his own judgment.
“Oh no you won’t.” Deanna intervened, stepping between the two brothers.
“An hour ago you were Tom’s biggest cheerleader....and now you don’t trust him?”
Tom looked genuinely shocked by Will’s comment, Deanna looked annoyed.
“I don’t know what he’s up to, but I know he’s tricking you somehow.”
She locked narrowed brown eyes on Tom as she voiced the warning to Will.
“Don’t try to read me Deanna,” Tom sneered, “You only feel what I choose to let you feel. You should have more faith in the mental instructions you tutored me in.”
There was a bitter lilt in Tom’s voice, hidden well behind his grin, but still visible enough to force Deanna’s eyes away from his, and cause Will’s throat to tightened.
Will released an uneasy breath, sending a disgusted glare to Tom before resting his hands on Deanna’s shoulders and turning her to face him.
Her cheeks were flushed as she raised her eyes to look at him, anger or embarrassment at Tom’s nasty remark no doubt.
“Deanna, I’m sorry, but I have to do this. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I know he’s telling me the truth.”
“Some of it, maybe.” She answered, flipping a spiteful look over her shoulder at Tom.
“Hell hath no fury, I guess.”
Tom answered her look with a curt remark and a wicked chuckle.
His attempts to generate anger were deliberate, Will was sure of it, he just couldn’t understand why.
“Back off Tom!” Will snapped, “If we’re gonna to this, lets just do it.”
Deanna must of recognized the determined look in his eyes, because as soon as she opened her mouth to protest, she closed it again.
“I’ll be careful.” Will reassured her.
Tom exchanged a few words with the woman that seemed to be permanently attached to his arm, in response she handed him two tiny boxes.
Tom offered one to Will, and clipped his own on his belt, Will followed his example.
“OK, lets go.” Tom moved towards the window, stopping just short of entering, “Don’t worry, I’ll take good care of him.....Imzadi.” He slurred the term of endearment, making it sound more like a vile curse then a sweet promise.
Will watched Deanna’s anger bubble to the surface, keeping his own wrapped tightly inside him...Tom’s motivations for generating it, far more intriguing to him, then just how exactly his fist would feel slamming into the side of his bearded chin.
Will stilled Deanna’s anger with a silent thought and a raised hand, she nodded an understanding to him before he followed Tom through the window.
For an instant the purple light transformed into a fuzzy black and white haze that sent tiny electrical charges over his skin. There was no pain, only a stimulating vibration of current he found almost pleasurable. His body jolted as it was released from the surge, he eyed his new surroundings quickly.
“I know this place.”
“I should hope so,” Tom returned without looking at him, “It’s the transporter room of the U.S.S. Potemkin, star date 2361.”
“2361,” Will mumbled, his eyes shifting over the room and the transporter chief operating the controls, “Lieutenant Marks. Why can’t he see us.”
“He could if you chose to step out of this distortion field and rewrite your future.”
There was a distinct sound of self doubt in Tom’s voice, and it took Will only a second to understand why.
Will shook his head, “I’m not going to do it Tom, you can relax.”
“Why not, this is your opportunity to rid yourself of the biggest pain in the ass you have, the only god damn part of your life that you doubt. No more wondering where my link with Deanna begins or ends, no more wondering if sex with me was the same for her as it is with you.”
Will flopped his head forward and shook it slowly, “I’m not going to change the past, it wouldn’t be right.”
Tom looked disappointed, relieved and surprised all at the same time, “We’ll see.” He added, before tapping the boxes he and Will had on their belts.
Another surge of current and another familiar locale.
“You could save Tasha.” Tom encouraged.
Will darted his eyes over the dismal Vagra two, and closed his mind to all the horrid memories the planet generated.
Tom only nodded, and tapped the boxes again.
The world came into view, a familiar but unfamiliar place...Will tilted his head in confusion and searched Tom’s serious face.
“You can’t just let her drown,” Tom tipped his head towards the now splashing water.
Will swallowed hard as he watched the little blond head that struggled in the water, “We could at least warn them.” He said, raising questioning brows at Tom.
“Go ahead,” Tom replied, gesturing to the young couple that sat only yards away from the drowning little girl, “Course, it’d be a shame if the baby choked or something when they left her alone to save Kestra.”
“Is that what will happen!?”
Will’s step forward, halted by Tom’s words.
“I don’t know,” Tom shrugged, “Could.....but then you could always go back and fix that too. All these scenarios I’ve shown you are trivial, believe me Jellico and his band of minions have far higher stakes in mind.”
Will turned away from the scene unfolding in front of him, not wanting to watch Kestra’s tiny body go under for the last time.
“Jelico? I knew I had that bastard pegged from the beginning.” Will scowled.
“He’s only one, all be it the one responsible for finding this place, course it didn’t take him long to persuade more federation A-holes to join his cause.”
“And the cause is?” Will asked, eyes darkening as Lwaxanna’s cries of grief filled his ears.
“Transporting technology through the window, giving earth the edge in all diplomatic negotiations. They’ll write and rewrite history so many times it will become totally irrelevant .....They’ll be no history, no choices, no cause and effect if it doesn’t suit their purpose.”
“And how long will it be before other races find out about this upper hand?” Will continued where Tom left off, “Of course it could have advantages, foreknowledge of the Borg attacks, the ability to communicate with the crystalline entity, preventing many deaths......” Will’s spoken thoughts trailed off at the look of disgust that had narrowed Tom’s eyes.
“Yea,” Tom answered snidely, “A god damn set agenda for every life form in the quadrant ......life doesn’t get much more stimulating then that.”
WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY 11
I’m sorry, really thought one more post would cover this little tale; shooting for only one more, i promise....my puppies are due soon and i REALLY have to finish<g>
“They won’t defend themselves Will. And I’m sure you must realize that the federation, or what ever faction gets it’s hands on this Pandora’s box isn’t going to give a rat’s ass about the loss of only a hundred or so life forms.”
Tom Riker drew in a deep breath, holding it in his chest as he waited for Will’s understanding.
Will nodded slowly and thoughtfully, his eyes shifting to the void of nothingness that stood just beyond the distortion field.
“And we’re not really interfering, we’re just setting things right.” Tom added, releasing the breath he was holding.
“Let’s not even try to justify it, Tom. Let’s just hope it works.”
Tom answered Will’s comment with a quick nod, and a smug grin.
“Guess I should thank Daddy for this one, I would have never thought of dragging you into this if it weren’t for him.”
Will’s lip curled in disgust, any respect he’d managed to regain for his father had again been lost with the knowledge that he’d be willing to sacrifice anything to gain the ultimate power.
“Sorry that this little plan is going to screw up your vacation with Deanna. But on the bright side, you won’t be set up as the only suspect in my murder.”
Tom’s observation hadn’t been necessary, Will knew it was just a means to pull his mind away from the malicious feelings he was having towards his father. Tom had never made peace with Klye Riker, and right now, Will wished he hadn’t either.
Will studied Tom through half open eyes, a new respect growing inside him, he wasn’t so sure, given the same circumstances, he’d be able to make the same decision Tom just had.
“Head hurt bad?”
Tom’s question answered with a groan and a grimace. “I’m going to suggest you try to get past it, you go back to the enterprise with your eyes half open like that, and that fiery little red head will be testing you for every addiction in the quadrant.”
That thought was enough to force Will to pull his eyelids all the way open, being probed by Doctor Crusher something he would avoid like the plague.
“You ready?” Tom asked, Will knew hiding his own reservations behind the wide grin that covered his bearded face.
Tom’s hand reached for the box that hung on his belt, Will reaching for his wrist and stopping his progress, “There might be another way, Tom.”
Tom shook his head, “No.... the more people involved, the more complicated the plan.” He jerked his wrist from Will’s hand and programmed the boxes.
“Commander Riker, prepare your away team, we’ve isolated the coordinates for the crashed shuttle.”
“Aye Sir.” Will Riker lifted from his chair, acknowledging his captain’s order. Tapping his Comm badge, he requested only Commander Geordi Laforge, and Doctor Beverly Crusher join him in the transporter room. He nodded to Counselor Troi before stepping up the ramp to the turbolift, more then aware of her suspicious brown eyes.
Long strides brought him to transporter room three well ahead of the other two members of his team. The doors sliding open, he dismissed the transporter chief, and stepped behind the controls, his fingers flying over them.
“Is everything all right Commander?”
Geordi Laforge peered at him from under the hood of his heavy parka.
“Everything fine Geordi.” He answered, hiding his startle response behind a smile, “As soon as Doctor Crusher arrives we’ll be on our way.”
It was hard to tell with the chief engineer if he believed him or not, but considering the amount of times he’d kicked the officer’s ass in poker, he chose to believe he had.
The doors hissed open again, this time revealing Doctor Crusher; nearly buried beneath her oversized jacket, and a slightly winded Counselor Troi.
“I requested permission to join the away team.”
Will’s stomach twisted, untwisting itself with her next remark.
“The captain said it was up to your discretion.”
Will let the request hang for a moment, at least appearing to give it some thought.
“Request denied.” He finally answered.
“But Commander, I’m sensein......”
“I said request denied, return to the bridge.”
Rasing every mental shield he could muster, he held her adamant gaze with one of his own.
The hiss of the doors, broke through the silent battle of wills that was being waged between the two. The transporter chief that had returned nodded to Riker, acknowledging he’d carried out the unnecessary order he’d given him.
Will stepped up to the platform, Deanna’s released breath snapping him back to her.
“That’s an order, commander!”
The gentle tone he had used towards her earlier, replaced with a sharp lilt and a glare of reprimand.
“Energize.” He ordered, the closing of the doors on Deanna Troi distorted by the grip of the transport beam.
“Geordi, check out the shuttle.”
Will’s order came with a tilt of his head, his eyes moving between the downed shuttle and the three junior officers that lay stiff in the snow.
“I’m getting two life sign readings, both are very faint.”
Beverly’s eyes were focused on her tricorder, she followed her readings, struggling through the snow that came well above her knees.
“Commander you better get over here!”
Beverly’s voice carried over the snow, Will ignored it, trudging through the knee deep snow and kneeling beside his objective.
Scanning his tricorder over the still body of Captain Jelico, it showed what he was hoping he wouldn’t.....faint life sign readings blipped across the screen.
“Sorry,” He whispered, “You dug your grave, I’m just filling it in.”
He swallowed hard before plunging the hypospray he’d held in his pocket into the unconscious man’s neck.
Beverly’s plea was more urgent and forced him to his feet, fighting past the wind that seemed driven to make him stay and face what he’d done, he arrived at Beverly’s side.
“I’m not sure there’s anything I can do.”
Will did his best to appear shocked at the partially shackled body that laid in the snow, and dropped to his knees beside it.
“I’ll beam him back to the enterprise, Doctor.....Captain Jelico is just beyond that rock, he’s still alive, you go to him.”
Beverly nodded and jumped to her feet, “I’m sorry Will.” She offered, before fleeing towards what Will knew to be a hopeless cause.
He waited until he saw the sparkling blue light of the enterprise transporter engulf Beverly, before tapping his communicator, “Two to beam directly to sickbay.”
He smiled inwardly at the delay and the transporter chief’s response.
<I’m getting power fluctuations in the beam, rerouting power through terminal four.>>
Will reached his hand inside Tom’s jacket just as the beam encircled them.
Counselor Troi and Captain Picard entered sickbay in time to see the spiral of the transport beam, and Commander Riker’s body fall helplessly from it.
Beverly Crusher looked away from Captain Jelico long enough to shout the question.
Will dropped from his knees to his back, his hands gripping his head, his body withering in pain.
“Will, what happened.” Deanna sank to the floor beside him, Will avoiding her dark and frightened eyes.
His screams of agony and his body’s sudden convulsions provoked Doctor Crusher to join Deanna at his side.
Beverly’s initial scan drew her eyes to Captain Picard, “Captain, find out what the hell happened on the beam out.”
“What’s wrong with him Beverly?” Deanna choked on her question.
“His mental pathways have redoubled, his brain is overly stimulated!”
She plunged a hypo spray into his neck as she answered Deanna’s desperate question, never taking her eyes off of Will’s body until it abandoned itself to the tranquilizer.
Will’s eyes still darted frantically behind closed lids, Deanna wiping beads of sweat from his brows.
“Beverly, please ......what happened?”
Deanna’s question tumbled over her quivering lip, silent tears slipping from her pleading eyes.
With a tilt of her head, Beverly gave the order to move Will’s body. When it was safely settled, she redirected her attentions to Deanna.
“I don’t know Deanna,” She answered, shaking her head, “And I’m not going to speculate.”