Skin of Evil
Summary: This is my view of the episode S of E, based on the characters facial expressions and body language, with a few changes. PG
Disclaimer: I write for the pleasure of Imzadi fans. I dont own the characters, I just like to play with them.
SKIN OF EVIL
Captain, estimated rendezvous with the shuttle in about one hour and ten minutes LaForge reported.
Thank you, Lt. the captain said, turning to his first officer, it will be good to have Counselor Troi back, wont it No. 1?
It certainly will. Riker replied, not able to hide his smile. Deanna had been gone for three weeks at a psychology conference. This was the first time she had been away for an extended period since they both were assigned to the Enterprize, and Will missed her. He hadnt realized , not only how much time they spent together off duty, but how much he looked forward to seeing her everyday.
Sir, Worf boomed, Im receiving an emergency transmission fro the shuttle.
On main viewer.
I cant, sir. Were receiving audio only. Tasha announced.
Open a frequency.
Position report. Riker demanded of the pilot, trying not to assume the worst.
Sir, Im having an on board systems failure. Youll have to tell me where I am. They heard through the static.
Geordi was on the ball. I read your coordinates at 370.236. Confirm.
I cant confirm. My instruments are haywire.
Lt. Peter. Picard calmly interjected, is Counselor Troi alright? Riker silently thanked the captain for asking.
Yes, sir, just a little shaken were being Im losing power. The bridge tensed at the sound of the shuttle crafts systems failing.
Main engineering, we need warp drive. How long?
About twenty minutes, sir.
We dont have it, Mr. Lynch.
I understand, sir.
Shuttle, we have your coordinates. Ben, youre dangerously close to a planet. Geordi warned.
I can see it.
The planet is Vegra 2, sir. In the Zedlava sector, uninhabited. Data reported.
Engineering. Status report.
Three minutes, Captain.
Lt Peters voice broke in. Captain, were out of control. Were caught in the planets gravity. The bridge held their breath. There was not another communication from the shuttle.
Riker clenched his fists, waiting for the captains next move. Engineering repaired the warp drive and Data was relaying what little facts there were about Vagra 2. No vegetation no life signs. Would there be a stable atmosphere for them if the shuttle was breached?
Ive located the shuttle. Worf announced from up at tactical.
Riker was on his feet in a flash, bounding up the ramp.
Life signs? the captain asked.
Not yet, sir. Still looking. It appears to be buried under a lot of debris.
Commander Riker came up beside Lt. Worf, resting his arm on the bulkhead, worry etched all over his face. He took slow deep breaths while Worf continued searching. Come on .
I may have something, sir.
Everyone turned towards the Klingon, hoping for good news.
Faint life signs very faint.
How many? Riker asked anxiously. Please
Theres no way of telling from here. Worf said.
Data, can we beam up the injured? Picard asked the android.
No, sir. Sensors are not fully penetrating whatever the debris is.
Thats very unusual. Captain Picard murmured, slowly sinking into his chair, deliberating his next course of action.
Will hovered above, ready to beam down to Vagra 2. They were wasting precious minutes.
No. 1. Prepare your away team.
Right away. Riker responded before Picard could finish.
Data. Yar. They headed for the turbolift.
Dr. Crusher, have you been monitoring all this? the captain asked.
Yes. Ill meet the away team in Transporter Room 4.
The four of them beamed down near the shuttle. Will wanted to run right to it, rip off the doors, and carry Deanna to sickbay himself, but there was a black mass that blocked their way. A mass that changed the harmony of the Enterprize forever.
The pool started to take shape. Riker spoke first.
I am Commander William Riker of the USS Enterprize.
I am Armus. Why are you here?
Great. This is just what he needed. Deanna could be bleeding to death ten meters away and he was unable to get to her.
We have injured crewman in the shuttlecraft. May we pass?
And thus began Armus games. Lt Yar insisted on passing and Armus knocked her dead, and then just melted back into the black slime.
They tried to relieve her with no success.
In the shuttle, Troi felt Tashas death. She died because of me, Troi thought. Armus interrupted her mourning to boast about killing her.
Grim faces stared back at Captain Picard. Lt. Yars death is painful to all of us. Well have to deal with this as best we can for now. Until the shuttle crew is beamed safely aboard this ship, our feelings will have to wait. Is that understood?
They lost Tasha. I could still lose Deanna, too, Riker thought.
Doctor, what is the state of the crew? Picard asked Beverly.
Were still receiving faint life signs, but the sensor readings fluctuate. They may not be accurate.
Data chimed in, Armus is capable of creating undefined forcefields. In effect, we are powerless to communicate or use the transporter unless he allows it.
Hearing that, Riker groaned inwardly. Imzadi, he called in his mind. They hadnt communicated on that level since the Jalara Jungle. He had heard her in his mind their first meeting. And he had felt her probe his emotions here and there, but he chose to ignore it. Will thought if he opened his mind to her that way, she would want to further their platonic relationship.
That would have been so terrible? A little voice asked.
He was not going to abandon her again.
We seem to have no defense, Picard speculated, No. 1? he asked, bringing Riker back to the present.
Its down on that planet waiting for us to come back. It killed Tasha, and it could have killed us, but it didnt. Deanna and Ben are alive for a reason, and it knows we are not going anywhere as long as theyre still alive. I AM NOT going anywhere until you are safe, Imzadi. He silently promised.
Prepare your away team, No. 1.
Geordi beamed down with Riker, Data, and Dr. Crusher this time. Armus was surrounding the shuttle, talking to Troi. He was surprised they had returned for her, he being abandoned himself.
He tired of Troi and went to harass the away team.
She said youd be back. Armus sated flatly.
Then she is alive? Riker asked a little too urgently.
Armus toyed with them some more but he did allow Bev to talk to Deanna through their communicators.
Troi can you hear me? Deanna, are you alright?
Rikers heart pounded in his chest during the long moments it took for her to answer.
Beverly? Deanna asked, unsure if Armus was playing a trick or not.
Are you alright? Dr Crusher asked again.
Yes. Her tired voice never sounded sweeter to Will.
Weve encountered some difficulty.
I know. Deanna replied helplessly.
Riker was getting impatient. She needs our help! he yelled at Armus.
The creature rose to a fuller height. Ignoring Will, Armus began to pester Geordi, flinging off his VISOR, then returning to the shuttle.
Data watched his commanding officer pace in frustration. He would stop occasionally and glare at Armus then resume his pacing. Data wondered how walking back and forth helped an individual think. He noted it for another time.
Suddenly, Armus was approaching them. Commander Riker was taken down by an invisible force and pulled into the thick black pool.
Imzadi, he yelled one last time in his head before he was dragged under.
Deanna heard Will call to her. Imzadi! No please, stop hurting him! she begged, no longer holding up her Starfleet counselor façade.
He resists. If he would give himself over, the pain would diminish. He struggles. You should feel his pain.
I can. She whispered.
She could feel him stronger than she had in a while. His fear was almost overwhelming. It was difficult to block out. Her own anguish over him dampened her abilities to send. Deanna took deep breaths to calm her self.
Should I let him go?
You only ask to torment me. She cried.
How should I answer?! What can I offer except myself? Deanna knew she was playing into Armus hands, but it didnt matter when it came to Will. It was hard to be rational when he was in danger.
And you would give yourself for him? Would you give that much?
YES. Yes. Yes. Will, can you hear me? Imzadi? She screamed inside. Without hesitation.
Just for him?
No, not just for him. I would do the same for any of the others. She spit out angrily.
But it was Will this time. Deanna sighed, lowering her head in resignation. Armus, you have me. Let them go. She pleaded. Please let Will go
Ah, another has arrived. Armus moved to speak with Picard.
Entertain me. Armus demanded.
Armus took control of Datas actions, threatening to have Data shoot Dr. Crusher, then himself.
You want to see your people? Armus asked the captain.
The crew turned to see Commander Riker being discharged from the slime. Bev rushed to his side, clearing his airways.
The first thing Will realized is that he was breathing clean air. He could hear Picard and Beverly talking. Where was Deanna? He swore he had heard her call his name. Will tried to get up, but groaned with the slightest movement. He looked towards the shuttle.
Is he alright? Picard asked.
All signs show normal. She smiled.
Will started to speak, his voice hoarse. So much frustration, it had to get mad at me. What Will didnt know was that half of the anger he felt was coming from Deanna, her being trapped and unable to assist him in any way.
Enterprize, beam up the away team immediately. This is between you and me. Picard snarled to Armus.
They may leave.
Picard was allowed to speak to Deanna. He explained how the force field around the shuttle weakened when Armus was distracted. The captain was able to bait Armus, allowing the ship to beam everyone safely back.
Will wasnt able to see Deanna until just before Tashas memorial. He had just emerged from his third shower(he still couldnt seem to get all of the sludge off), when his door chimed. He knew/hoped it was her. The doors slid open to reveal the most beautiful, sad looking dark eyes. He didnt say anything as he took both of her hands in one of his and guided her into his quarters. Will gave her a quick once over to make sure she was okay, then he pulled her small body into his warm embrace.
Riker felt it would be inappropriate to express how happy he was to see her when they had just both lost a colleague. He just wanted her, and himself, to be reassured she was safe now.
He reflected later on what Tasha had said about Deanna teaching her about love. Funny, he could say the same thing. She was the one that taught him all those years ago on Betazed. Maybe it was time to start lessons again.