Star Trek The Next Generation. June-August 2001.
The man floated in the weightlessness of time and space. Not that he was really a man, as such, only in the way he presented himself to the humanoids. He’d taken on the human form so many times and for so long now that he’d almost forgotten what he really looked like.
Time passed him by like many images, the future he was already watching had not yet even happened to those involved. Boredom, another very human emotion that he’d experienced a little too often. Why not have a little fun while he was in the time stream? It’s not like he’d be affected by any changes he was beyond that. A little tweak here and a change there was all it took and now he just had to sit back and watch it happen.
From just outside the time stream another life form watched the messing of time. This creature too had used the human form, but its true form was non-corporal. This life form had morals and knew better than to mess with the space-time continuum. It did not realise that it’s own future was about to change in a drastic way. If it had, it would surely have intervened.
Corby-Si sector. Although this is a completely routine mission, I cannot shake
the feeling that something more will become of it…let’s hope it’s just a feeling!’
Counsellor Deanna Troi was off-duty and trying to sleep. There were people all around her, their incoherent voices echoed through her mind. She tossed and turned in her bed and woke with a start, as her commbadge chimed and she heard a familiar voice from the other end of the link,
“Riker to Counsellor Troi.”
She paused her mind blank of anything except trying to breathe and calm herself down. Her dark hair, wet with sweat, was sticking to her back, neck and forehead.
“Counsellor Troi? Deanna, are you there?”
She breathed deeply to compose herself and realised that she hadn’t answered his call. She tried to seem calmer than she felt. Her voice betrayed her.
“Yes, I’m…I’m here, Will.”
She felt as if she didn’t remember how to talk through sub-space communication networks even though she’d been doing it her whole life.
“Deanna, are you all right?” came Will’s concerned voice.
“Yes. Yes I’m fine, Commander. What can I do for you?”
“We need you on the Bridge, Counsellor.”
“I’ll be there, Troi out.” She replied as she stumbled out of her bed and got dressed with shaking hands.
On the Bridge of the Enterprise-E, the flagship of the Federation, the crew were quietly examining their controls, getting ready to make reports if asked to. Jean-Luc Picard looked to his right and saw the muscles of his First Officer’s jaw working over-time, something was wrong.
“Problem, Number One?”
“Possibly, sir. Deanna was rather distracted and sounded a little confused when I called her a few moments ago.”
“Do you think she might have had contact with that life form?”
Picard nodded towards the viewscreen. The large cloud of energy simmered many colours, but mainly pink and purple. They had encountered it almost ten minutes ago, but could get no readings from their scans and it hadn’t responded to any of their attempts at communication. It just floated there in space like it was waiting for something. The possibility that it was a telepathic creature had not been dismissed and that was why they needed Deanna Troi, even her limited telepathic abilities would be helpful.
Counsellor Deanna Troi entered the Bridge from one of the aft turbolifts. She looked tired and slightly pale, but smiled politely at everyone she passed. She had opted to discard her uniform today, instead wearing an aqua coloured dressed that flowed down to her ankles.
Commander Riker and Captain Picard rose from their seats, as Deanna Troi approached them.
“Counsellor, are you alright?”
“Yes, captain, I’m just a little tired.” She replied.
“Are you sure that’s all?” asked Riker.
“Yes, sir, I’m fine.” She said out loud, feigning politeness through gritted teeth.
In his mind, Will Riker, heard her voice,
‘Stop it, Will, please!’
It was startling enough to hear her communicating telepathically with him, she hadn’t done it in years, but what was more surprising was the secret annoyance that her voice held.
They remained standing as the captain explained to Troi what they needed her to do.
“Do you sense anything?” Riker asked.
Deanna closed her eyes,
“Yes, Commander. I sense life, great intelligence and… it’s curious about us.”
“Is it telepathic at all, Counsellor?” asked Picard.
Deanna opened her eyes again and looked directly at her captain.
“Yes, it is. That is why you cannot contact or communicate with it.”
“What about hostility?” came Worf’s booming voice.
“No, Worf, I don’t sense any hostility. But there is something that I can’t identify. It either wants to give us something or take something from us, I’m not sure which it is.”
“What does it want to take or give, Counsellor?” asked the Captain.
Deanna knew that Picard wasn’t trying to ‘baby’ her for the answer, but that he hated not knowing the answers. This time she had no answer to give him. Deanna shrugged her slim shoulders,
“I’m sorry, Captain, I just don’t know, but I…” her voice trailed off and she looked at the life form in horror.
“WORF, PUT THE SHEILDS UP NOW!” She shouted.
“Captain?” asked Worf in confusion. Should he do as Deanna had ordered?
“Do it, Mr Worf. I’m sure the Counsellor has a good reason for her command.” He answered, still looking in confusion at Troi.
“Captain,” came Data’s voice from the front of the Bridge taking the attention off Troi, “an energy beam of some description has been emitted from the life form…it has targeted us.”
“Red alert! All hands brace for impact!” ordered Riker, as all the crew gripped something to hold on to, the red warning lights flashed across the Bridge and the klaxon sounded.
The ship shock violently as the energy beam penetrated the shields effortlessly and entered the Bridge. As it scanned the crew they were knocked to the floor. After a few more seconds the energy beam returned to the life form. In the confusion no one noticed the life form moving away. Jean-Luc Picard and Data were the first ones to get up from the floor.
“Is everyone alright?”
Nodding heads, mumbled words and a few ‘yes, sirs’ were the replies from various places on the Bridge.
“It seems that the rest of the ship was unaffected by what appeared to be a scanning beam. The life form has vanished, sir.” Came Data’s report.
Will shook his head as he got to his knees and then finally, by resting on his chair, stood up. He looked over to Troi’s chair, where he expected her to be sitting; instead she lay on the floor still, her eyes closed and her body unmoving. He moved towards her and knelt beside her, as did Picard.
“Deanna? Deanna, can you hear me?”
There was no reply.
“Data, call Sickbay. Mr Worf, cancel red alert.” Ordered Picard.
They all felt helpless. Will felt for her pulse, it was weak, her breathing was shallow and she was running a fever. Riker looked at his Captain.
“She’s burning up. Her pulse and breathing are weak.”
Worry showed clearly in his bearded features. A few moments later the forward turbolift doors opened and Doctor Beverley Crusher and her medical staff entered the Bridge.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, pushing a lock of her blonde, bobbed hair behind her ear.
Picard explained what had occurred, whilst Beverley scanned Troi with a medical tricorder.
“What’s wrong with her?” asked Will.
“I won’t know until I run some more tests, but I don’t like the condition of her vital signs or the increase in her temperature.”
She turned to her medical staff.
“Let’s get her to Sickbay.”
They placed Deanna’s unconscious form on the anti-gravity stretcher and led her off the Bridge. Picard turned to his crew.
“Mr Data, you have the Bridge. The rest of you find out what the hell just happened here, I’ll be in Sickbay. Number One, with me.”
When Picard and Riker entered Sickbay, it seemed strangely calm considering they were in the middle of a medical emergency. They walked over to the bio-bed where Doctor Crusher stood.
“Beverley, how’s Deanna?” asked Will.
“She’s fine, everything’s back to normal. It’s as if none of it ever happened. I can’t find anything to indicate what happened to her on the Bridge or how she has recovered so quickly. She hasn’t regained consciousness, but I wanted to wait for you both before I woke her up.”
“Very well.” Answered Picard.
Beverley pressed the hypo-spray into Deanna’s neck and listened out for the familiar hiss that told her that the entire drug had entered her patient’s system. After a few moments, Deanna’s dark eyes fluttered open and she immediately tried to sit up, but Beverley pushed her gently back down.
“Beverley? What am I doing in Sickbay?”
“It’s nothing to worry about Dee. How are you feeling?”
“A little disorientated and dizzy, but I think I’m okay.”
“You think? That doesn’t sound very reassuring to me.” Will said, with a wide grin on his face.
“The dizziness and disorientation should pass. I’d like you to go to your quarters, get some rest and then come back to me for a few tests at 1800 hours, just to make sure that everything’s alright.” Replied Beverley with a small smile of her own.
Deanna nodded and, with the help of Will Riker’s steady hand, slowly got off the diagnostic bed. She smiled wanly at Picard, waiting for the questions that she felt bubbling beneath the surface of his emotional coolness.
“What happened to you on the Bridge, Counsellor?”
“I’m not entirely sure, sir. It felt like being hit with a wave of intense emotion. The life form tried to communicate it’s intent to me, but it is a form of telepathic communication which uses imagery and I’m not very good at that, it takes up a lot more psychic energy to use and understand.”
“Well, like Doctor Crusher said, get some rest, but if you have any more insight into that creature’s intent please let me know.”
“Aye, sir.” She replied with a nod of her head.
Will Riker once again supported Troi and led her out of Sickbay…
Deanna Troi’s quarters were dark and lit only by the light of the stars that surrounded the ship. Will smiled at Deanna and cupped her cheek with his hand, in the way she had come to love.
“Are you sure you’re alright?”
“Yes.” She replied nodding her head slightly. “If I wasn’t, I would tell you, wouldn’t I.”
“I know you would, I just can’t stop worrying about you.”
“Hmm, that’s always been your problem hasn’t it?” she smiled.
“Why don’t you get some sleep before seeing Beverley.”
“I’ll do that. See you later?”
Riker nodded, leaned forward, kissed her on the cheek and then left. Deanna smiled slightly after he’d gone. She changed into a long, flowing white nightgown and climbed into her bed. The soft lights of the twinkling stars and the darkness of her quarters quickly made her drift off to sleep.
The beings surrounded her once more. Their voices merged together, but were still incomprehensible. They moved, arms outstretched, towards her. They were so close that their fingers touched her skin. She was afraid, for what reason she did not know, but she was terrified of these beings.
The feelings of claustrophobia washed over her. She felt feverish, the sweat broke out on her neck and forehead, and her breathing became rapid gulps of air.
They almost crushed her now, their bodies pressed against hers. She closed her eyes and crouched down, as if to protect herself from them. Their breathing and heartbeats combined with their merged voices began ringing in her ears became louder and louder. She knew that if it didn’t stop she would…
She screamed and lurched up from her bed. Beverley Crusher’s hands were on her arms and she was laying the small Betazed back on her bed.
“It’s all right, Deanna. It’s me, Beverley, I’m here now.”
“What happened? Where am I?” came Troi’s panicked voice.
The fear rose inside her threatening to explode.
“You’re on the Enterprise. It’s all right, Deanna, everything will be okay…”
“No! No, It’s not all right! They’re forcing themselves through my barriers, I can’t stop them.”
She sat up again quickly, grabbing the Doctor’s sleeve as if it were a lifeline.
“Help me, please, help m…”
Deanna’s voice trailed off as Beverley sedated her and laid the small Counsellor gently back on to her bed. The C.M.O tapped her commbadge,
“Crusher to Picard.”
“Picard here. What can I do for you, Doctor?”
“I just thought you should know, Captain, I’m with Deanna and…”
“How is she?” Picard interrupted.
“Not good I’m afraid. She didn’t show up for her appointment, so I went to her quarters. She was sleeping when I got here, however, she woke up in a highly agitated state and was also extremely terrified."
“I don’t know, Jean-Luc, but she was so hysterical that I had to sedate her. She was saying something about some beings breaking through her telepathic barriers.”
“Is it possible that all this has to do with that life form’s scan?”
“I don’t know, but I’d say it was likely. I can’t do anything more for Deanna without further information on that scan.”
“I’ll see what I can do for you, Doctor. Please keep me up dated on Troi’s condition.”
“Aye, sir. Crusher out.”
On the Bridge of the U.S.S Enterprise, the flagship of the United Federation of Planets, Captain Jean-Luc Picard stood up from his command chair and turned to his crew.
“I want a full investigation into that life form and its scan. Counsellor Troi maybe in danger from it and I want to know why!”
Picard knew he could count on his crew to find the answer, especially when another member of the crew was in danger from the unknown. Picard had a feeling that they would try harder for Troi, because it would be a chance for them to learn about her, otherwise, secret life. She was still an unsolved mystery to most of the crew.
“Yes, Mister Data, what is it?” Picard asked the gold-skinned android.
“I believe it is time for me to relieve you of command.”
Picard looked sceptical at first, but after checking the chronometer he realised that Data was right.
“So it is, Mister Data. Very well, you have the Bridge.”
“Aye, sir.” Data replied, as he took the Captain’s chair.
Picard gave a quick inward smile as the turbolift doors closed around him, giving his destination as the ‘Ten-Forward’ Lounge.
William Riker sat at the table by the middle window of the ‘Ten-Forward’ Lounge. He stared at the stars, lost in his thoughts. He wanted to make sure that Deanna was all right, especially after what Beverley had said was happening to her, but something about the telepathic broadcast Troi had sent him on the Bridge told him not to go. Maybe she hadn’t meant what she said, but then again maybe he did worry too much? Was that even possible? Could you worry too much about a person?
“May I join you?”
Will looked up and saw Captain Picard standing beside the table with a cup of Earl Grey tea in his hand.
“Captain, please, sit down!”
“Lost in your thoughts, Number One?” Picard asked, as he sat opposite his First Officer.
“I suppose you could say that, sir.”
He took a sip of his black coffee.
“Care to talk about it?” Picard offered. “Counsellor Troi always says that a problem shared is…”
“A problem halved. Yes, I’ve heard her say that.”
He sighed and then began to explain his thoughts to his Captain.
In her quarters, Deanna Troi slept, with Doctor Crusher standing near by. A nurse had joined the Doctor. The silence that engulfed the small Betazoid’s quarters was almost eerie. Very suddenly, and without warning, Deanna’s eyes shot open and she sprung up from her bed into a sitting position. A bright light, entered Troi’s room. It was so bright that Beverley and the nurse had to look away and shield their eyes from it. The light hovered over Deanna, engulfed her body and then disappeared.
When Crusher had gotten over the shock of what had happened she ran forward to Troi’s bedside, but without warning Troi’s fist went straight into the Doctor’s face. Beverley fell to the floor with a cry of pain, as Deanna escaped from her room.
Picard’s communicator beeped, as he sat with Riker in the ‘Ten-Forward Lounge.
“Worf to Picard.” Came the Klingon’s deep voice.
“Picard here. What is it Worf?”
“Sorry to disturb you, sir, but there’s a strange…”
“What, Mister Worf?”
“It’s gone. Sorry, sir, I thought we detected something, but there’s nothing here. The sensors must be malfunctioning. I will run a diagnostic. Worf out.”
“That was strange.” Commented Riker.
“Indeed, it was, Number One.” Picard agreed. “Reminds me of the time we…”
Picard looked to the Heavens as if to say ‘not again’, as his commbadge chimed again.
“Nurse Myers to Captain Picard.” Came a small, frightened voice.
Riker arched an eyebrow at his captain. It was unusual for a nurse to contact the captain. It was usually Riker who dealt with nurses’ inquiries.
“Sir, we have a problem. Counsellor Troi just attacked Doctor Crusher and ran from her quarters.”
Picard looked at Riker and was sure that his own expression mirrored that of his First officer’s.
“Is Doctor Crusher all right?”
“She’s suffered a broken nose and partially fractured jaw, I’m about to get her to Sickbay now.”
“Thank you, Nurse. Please keep me informed of Doctor Crusher’s progress. Picard out.” He looked back at Riker.
“Well, I’m definitely not going to be picking fights with Deanna anymore.” Commented Riker, covering his shock with amusement.
“I would most certainly advise you not to, Number One.” Picard replied with a slight smile.
Picard tapped his commbadge once more and channelled it for a ship-wide broadcast.
“Attention, all hands, this is Picard. If anyone sees Counsellor Troi contact either Commander Riker or myself, but do not approach her. Picard out.”
Within seconds a commbadge chimed, this time it was Riker’s.
“LaForge to Riker.”
“Riker here, what is it Geordie?”
“Deanna’s locked herself in Cargo Bay 2. She’s not interfering with any of the controls and there are no life forms with her. Should I get a team in there?”
“Assemble a team, but wait until I’m there before you go in.”
“Aye, sir. LaForge out.”
Riker looked at his captain.
“I believe we should go, sir.”
“I think that that would be a good idea.” Answered Picard, as the two officers rose from the table and left ‘Ten-Forward.’
“We need to stop off at Sickbay and pick up a medkit.” Suggested Riker. “Something tells me we’re going to need it.”
The Cargo Bay was pitch black and the only source of light came from the spaces between the door and the floor. Deanna lay on the cold floor, paralysed with fear and confusion by the voices forcing themselves into her mind.
The voices had become much clearer now; it came to her as many speaking with one voice -The Borg- They were communicating with her telepathically, but how? That was impossible!
The light from the door suddenly became brighter and then the darkness returned. It took her a few seconds to realise that the door had been opened and then closed again. Two people with flashlights were standing by the door and looking around the Cargo Bay. She was aware that she knew these people, but their names would not come to her, nor did the memories of knowing these people and yet she just knew that these people were familiar to her somehow.
“Deanna?” came the call from the tall one with dark hair and a beard.
Was she this ‘Deanna’?
The voice of many called to her mind,
‘Assimilate them all! Resistance is futile!’
William Riker and Jean-Luc Picard had searched most of the Cargo Bay by now, but still there had been no sign of Deanna and she did not answer to their calls either. Will turned to his Captain and saw him with his eyes closed, his hand on his forehead and he was shaking his head slightly.
“Captain?” asked Will, moving to Picard’s side. “Are you all right, sir?”
Picard looked up at his First Officer and nodded his head.
“I just thought I heard the Borg.” He answered hoarsely.
“Borg? Sir, we’ve not been in contact with the Borg for two years, not since…”
“I know, Number One.” Picard interrupted. “Nevertheless I thought I heard them.”
Picard moved away from Riker to one of the corners at the back of the large room. He cleared away some barrels of supplies and there lay Deanna Troi, pale and shaken.
“Will,” he called over his shoulder, “I’ve found her!”
Will rushed over to where he captain stood and helped him pull Troi to her feet. She looked at them both like they were strangers.
“Deanna, can you here me?” asked Will, his bearded features full of concern.
“Do I know you from somewhere?” she asked in confusion.
Will cupped her cheek with the palm of his hand. She recognised that mannerism. Memories of her and the bearded man played in her mind, but still there was no name.
“Imzadi,” he pleaded, “don’t you recognise me?”
She looked intensely at him, squinting her dark eyes.
“I do know you. I know your face, the way you touched me, but there is…there is no name for your face.”
“I’m Will. Come with us?”
She looked from Will to the older man and back to Will.
“No. No, I don’t want to go!” she began to panic.
Suddenly she felt weak and couldn’t keep her eyes open. As she collapsed Will caught her and put the sedative back into the medkit that hung on his shoulder. Quickly he and Picard made their way to Sickbay.
“I’m glad to see you up and about again, Doctor.” Commented Picard, as Crusher examined Troi.
When he and Riker had been in Sickbay earlier to get the medkit, Beverley was still being treated, so they had not had a chance to speak.
“Well, just about.” Replied Beverley with a smile. “Deanna throws a mean punch.”
“Yes, well…” Picard cleared his throat. “How is Deanna?”
Beverley Crusher closed her tricorder and let out a frustrated, almost sorrowful, breath.
“The news is unpleasant in every way.”
“Go on.” Urged Riker.
“I’m warning you now, I can have no explanation for my findings, but there are thousands of Borg Nano-probes in all of her systems. For some reason the assimilation process is taking a hell of a lot longer than usual.”
“Bev, we’ve not been in contact with the Borg in two years. Are you trying to tell me that they’ve been there the whole time?” Came Will’s distressed voice.
“No, of course not. I would have found them a long time ago if they had. No, I think it was a few hours ago, just before she attacked me.”
“Why then, Beverley?”
“Just before she attacked me something, a light…a ball of energy of some sort, entered her body. It’s the only thing I can think of.”
“Hmm, could the process be slower than usual, because of Troi’s empathic abilities?” asked Picard.
“It’s one of the first things I thought of, so I did some research. The only telepathic species the Borg have come in contact with are Vulcans, but Vulcans are passive telepaths not active telepaths like Betazoids are…”
“Whoa, hold up there, Bev. Passive and active telepaths?” asked Will.
“Yes, Will, there’s two types of telepathy. Vulcans are passive telepaths meaning that they have the abilities, but don’t use them. Betazoids are active telepaths, because they have the abilities and use them. Deanna would be the first active telepath they’ve encountered. At least she the first actively telepathic humanoid they’ve encountered.” She paused slightly. “It wouldn’t surprise me if they’ve got some non-corporal telepathic race working for them in order to learn how to assimilate other telepaths without being anywhere near their victims.”
“You mean Deanna’s being used as some sort of Lab-rat for some Borg experiment?!” exploded will.
“I don’t know, Will, its just theory at the moment.”
“Data to Picard.” Came the android’s voice through Picard’s communicator.
“Picard here. What is it, Data?”
“Sir, we have located some information on the life form, will you join myself, Worf and Geordie on the Bridge.”
“Of course, I’ll be right with you. Picard out.”
Picard took one last look at Deanna before nodding to Will and then turning to Beverley.
“I know you’ll do your best, Doctor.”
“Aye, sir.” She nodded.
Picard entered the Bridge and went straight to the science station, where Data, Worf and LaForge stood. They turned to greet their captain.
“How’s Counsellor Troi, sir?” asked Geordie.
“I’m afraid her condition has worsened. Somehow the Borg have managed to transport their Nano-probes into her systems.”
“We may have discovered how they got there.” Commented Worf.
“Let me guess, Troi’s second encounter with the life form, the one that disappeared from your sensors?"
“Yes, sir, but how..?”
“Doctor Crusher also came up with that theory, but what about the first encounter? What was the scans purpose?”
“We believe its purpose was to identify if there were any telepathic species on board.” Replied Data.
“Any background data on the life form?”
“We’ve crossed-referenced the information from our sensors with computers in many systems. The only one that came close was an old computer file from Vena III. The inhabitants were telepaths and were destroyed by the Borg a century ago.” Reported LaForge. “However, and this is where it gets interesting, some of the Venian scientists were experimenting with a way to transfer their conscious’ from their physical bodies into non-corporal energy.”
“Did they succeed, Mister LaForge?”
“We don’t know, Captain. The logs remained unfinished because of the Borg attack, however the last logs do indicate that the tests were successful and that they were ready to try it on themselves.”
“It is safe to speculate that the scientists were successful in the transfer, before the Borg destroyed their planet.” Continued Data.
“It’s possible that the Borg still retained information about the transfer and have searched for the non-corporal entity, that the Venians became, for their own ends.” Concluded Worf.
“We’re still researching possibilities, sir, but at least now we have something to start us off.”
Picard smiled at Geordie and then looked seriously at all three of his officers.
“Do your best gentlemen. I’m not fond of the idea of losing a very valuable officer and friend to the Borg.”
“We’ll do what we can, sir.” Commented Worf, as the Captain walked across the Bridge and entered the turbolift.
When Deanna Troi opened her eyes she found herself in Sickbay, but had no recollection of how she’d gotten there. She sat up slowly from the diagnostic bed, putting a hand to her forehead when a wave of dizziness washed over her. Why did she feel so strange?
The lights seemed overly bright to her and she could only make out the outlines of people moving around the room. They walked slowly, as if in a trance. They all seemed to be speaking the same language, but she couldn’t understand what was being said.
The lights gradually became bearable and the people now moved at an ordinary pace. Three of them walked towards her. She recognised Jean-Luc Picard, Beverley Crusher and Will Riker instantly.
“Deanna, I’m so glad you’re awake!” said Will.
She looked at him in confusion.
“Men-atta tellon ay’loy, Imzadi?” she asked, a frown across her face.
“What the..?” began Riker.
“Computer, identify language spoken by Counsellor Troi.” Ordered Picard
“Betazoid.” Came the computer’s voice.
“Translate, what was just said, to standard earth language.”
“Translating…” there was short pause. “Dialogue roughly translates to the following; ‘why do you speak in such a way?’ Cannot translate the word ‘Imzadi.’ Insufficient data to translate its meaning.”
Beverley Crusher whipped out her tricorder, as the computer spoke and quickly scanned Troi.
“She can’t communicate with us.”
“What do you mean, Doctor?” asked Picard.
“The Borg nano-probes are interfering with her universal translator.”
“I thought her father taught her to speak English?”
“Yes, but that was a long time ago. She was seven when her father died, so I don’t think she would have learned much anyway.” Commented Riker. “She probably gave up trying to increase her ability to speak English and just used her universal translator. I doubt she and her mother ever spoke out loud much, let alone in English!”
“Will this be a long term problem?” asked Picard.
“I don’t think so, captain. It’s already started to clear up.” Beverley said reading something from her tricorder. “Should we try communicating with her again, maybe in Betazoid?”
“Yes,” said Picard; “unfortunately I don’t speak Betazoid at all.”
“No, neither do I. What about you, Will?”
“I know a few words, but not enough to make conversation with her.”
“Why not try one word in Betazoid and then speaking slowly in English?” suggested Beverley.
“According to these scans the probes affects have cleared a lot from the universal translator.”
Beverley quickly called up some information on her computer PADD.
“Her records indicate that she has a high understanding of English, but cannot communicate verbally very well in English without the universal translator.”
Will nodded, as he stepped closer to Deanna.
“Imzadi, do you understand me?” he asked slowly.
She nodded and grabbed his hands.
“I…un’er’and.” She replied, her voice more accented than usual, when speaking in broken English and without the translator.
“Good. Can you tell us how to help you?”
“Hep..?” she mispronounced. “Hep me?”
“You remember what happened to you?”
She shook her head.
Will looked at Beverley.
“Is there nothing you can do?”
“Let me check.”
Again the C.M.O looked up some information on her computer PADD.
“Okay, I maybe able to help the probes dissipate from the translator a little quicker. There’s no guarantee that this will work though.”
“Do it, Doctor.” Ordered Picard.
Beverley took a hypospray of orange liquid and injected it into Troi’s forearm.
“It might take a couple of seconds for it to take affected.”
Will nodded, but turned back to Troi.
“Deanna, do you remember anything that happened after the life form came to you the second time, in your quarters?”
For a few moments she did not answer.
“I went to the Cargo Bay, I…I don’t know why.”
Picard, Crusher and Riker were happy to hear her speaking fluent English once more.
“Deanna, I’ve got some bad news for you…” began Beverley.
“What is it, Bev?”
“Deanna, I’ve found Borg nano-probes in your systems…”
“What are you saying?” she asked, her face a mask of confusion, her wide eyes glistened with fear.
“I…” Beverley couldn’t answer her friend.
Despite the confusion she felt, Deanna searched within herself and discovered that Beverley had told the truth and she knew what it meant. She found her centre of calm and ‘filed away’ her other emotions so that she could deal with them at another time.
“Deanna, are there no telepathic shields or defensive capabilities you could use?” asked Will.
“An automatic telepathic defence system would start immediately if I were under any threat, but I don’t feel threatened at the moment.”
“Are you sure, Counsellor?” asked Picard, suspiciously.
“Yes, sir. However, that could change. There’s no telling when anything will start again. This could just be a rest period or the probes could be trying to work out my genetic patterns.”
“You mean like the ‘calm before the storm’?” Picard said.
“Precisely, sir.” She looked over at Will and felt his fears emanating from him, as strongly as if they were her own. “Don’t worry, Will, no matter what happens part of me will still be human. That’s how we the Captain back, remember?”
“Doctor, may I have a word with you?” asked Picard, seeing that Will and Deanna needed to be alone.
“Yes, in my office.” She replied, seeing the same thing.
When the two officers were out of earshot, Will turned to Deanna,
“Imzadi, please, don’t give up.”
“I won’t, Will. I promise you, I’ll fight it till the end, no matter what end that might be.”
Will was silent for a moment before cupping her check with his hand.
“I still love you, Dee.” He confessed.
“Deanna, what is it?” asked Will, as Deanna’s voice trailed off and she fell from where she sat on the edge of the bed.
Will caught her, as he lay her on the bed he tapped his commbadge with his free hand,
“Riker to Crusher, something’s wrong with Deanna!”
Picard and Crusher raced from Beverley’s office. Riker was trying to hold Deanna still. The small Betazoid thrashed wildly, as if she was trapped in a nightmare. Beverley was immediately at Deanna’s side.
“Deanna,” Beverley said, scanning the Betazoid, “do you have any pain anywhere?”
“She’s delirious.” Commented Picard, from beside Crusher.
“Deanna, it’s important that you listen to me carefully. Are you in pain anywhere?”
“My…my hands.” She replied holding up her hands to Beverley.
Something beneath the skin on top of Deanna’s hand moved. Deanna fainted from the sight and Beverley jumped back in shock, knocking a tray of medical equipment behind her, sending the equipment flying in various directions.
“Holy…” she exclaimed.
“Bev?” asked Riker, looking over to where Picard was holding the Doctor’s shoulders to steady her.
Picard and Riker could now see the tops of Troi’s hands and saw the movement. It was as if something was alive beneath her skin.
“Jesus!” exclaimed Will, turning pale.
“Merde!” Picard’s anger was clear in his voice.
“Jean-Luc, what is it? What is happening to Deanna?” came Beverley, who was struggling to hold back her tears.
“They’re the first stage of the assimilation tubule’s development.”
“Is there anyway to stop this?” Beverley asked, as she untangled herself from her Captain’s grip and scanned Troi once more.
“No. If they form completely and she has more contact with the Borg then we’ll all be in danger.”
Will looked at Troi and watched as her face contorted in pain, she moaned slightly and tears slipped from the corners of her tightly closed eyes. He looked back at Beverley.
“Is there nothing you can do for the pain?”
“I’ve given her a lot of sedatives already, Will. If I use anything stronger it could kill or permanently damage her.” Replied the C.M.O, who was obviously worried about her friend.
Picard spoke up reluctantly,
“There is a way, but you’ll not want to hear it…”
“Captain, if there’s a way to stop this we need to know.” Said Riker.
“The only way to stop the process, Deanna’s pain and to save ourselves would be if Deanna died.”
“No, Jean-Luc we couldn’t…I couldn’t…it shouldn’t be our choice to make!” Exclaimed Beverley.
“But we didn’t have to do that to you!” continued Riker. “Isn’t there another way, similar to how we got you back?”
“Number One, you know full well that I was completely assimilated before you helped, my connection to the Borg collective had to be severed first.”
“There is another problem with Deanna’s circumstances.” Commented Beverley.
“And that is?” asked Riker, feeling angry, frustrated and impatient.
“All the evidence points to an assimilation and connection to the Borg through telepathy.”
“So?” replied Riker bluntly.
“Will, we’re not simply talking about severing a collective consciousness here. Deanna’s condition is much more complicated because it involves, not only, telepathic connections, but the possibility of a collective telepathic connection.”
“I see your point, Doctor, but it still isn’t up to us to decide this, we should talk to her first.”
“Agreed, Number One.” Answered Picard. “Doctor, please wake her.”
Again, Beverley pressed the hypospray into Deanna’s arm. Deanna stirred and winced slightly at the movement. She opened her eyes, smiled at Will and then winced in pain again. With Will and Beverley’s help she sat up on the diagnostic bed. She quickly probed Will and found his emotions closely guarded, she did not push further to sense them, but a weak link developed in his block and allowed her to read that all his emotions, whatever they were, were in turmoil.
“Will, what is it? I sense you’re confusion, you battle within yourself.”
“Deanna, we need to talk.”
He choked on his words slightly and felt his eyes starting to well up, but he wouldn’t let her see him cry, even though he knew she could already feel his distress.
“Why is everyone acting like my death certificate has just been signed?” she exclaimed.
From their reactions she knew what was going on. It all became painfully clear to her.
“So that’s it, you’re just going to give up on me?”
“No, Dee, we’d never…!” Beverley began; a few stray tears fell from her blue eyes.
“Don’t lie to me, Beverley…!”
“Deanna, calm down!” Exclaimed Will.
“How can you tell me to calm down! I know what you’ve thought up! You can’t do anything for me, so how do you deal with the patient? You get rid of her! What were you thinking, Will, were you just going to inject me with some drug or did you think throwing me into a plasma stream would be more affective?!”
“Counsellor, console thyself, that’s an order!” commanded Picard, he’d never seen Troi act this way. “I know you’re distressed, but…”
“What were you going to do, Captain, order me to put a phaser to my head?” she replied, the venom stung in her voice, as much as the tears stung her own eyes, as they began to flow freely down her cheeks.
“Deanna, that was damn right out of order!” Riker said, sternly.
He hated seeing her like this, hated the situation they were in, but he couldn’t let her get out of hand.
“Oh Gods, I’m so sorry.” She put her hands to her face and wept. “What have they turned me into?”
“Deanna, Imzadi, it’s alright, we understand.” Assured Riker, putting his arms around her and kissing the top of her head lightly, allowing her to find comfort in his embrace and emotions.
“Indeed.” Agreed Picard. “I understand what you’re going through, how you feel used and agitated. You’ve got every right to feel that way.”
Picard definitely understood his Counsellor’s dilemma. After all he’d gone through all these emotions when the Borg turned him into Lacutus. How different and how much more painful would the transformation from humanoid to Borg be for an empath, especially since the assimilation process was taking hours instead of seconds? The greatest fear for a Betazoid was to lose one’s mind to someone else and wasn’t that what happened when the Borg took over an individual?
“Deanna, I want you to think about this very carefully. If the assimilation tubes form completely then you’ll be a danger to us all.”
“I understand, Captain.”
“The process, as you’ve already begun to experience, is painful…”
“Captain,” she interrupted, “I understand the risks, but I want a chance to stop this.”
“I want to contact that life form again…”
“Deanna, it’s too dangerous!” Riker exclaimed, as he ‘unwrapped’ her from his arms, but still held her by her forearms, so that he could look directly at her.
“Will, I need this chance. Wouldn’t you rather trying to stop this than give up?”
Riker fell quiet. He’d acted instinctively to protect her, forgetting the danger already imposed on her. He let his hands drop from her arms. Her arms suddenly felt cold where his hands had once been.
“Counsellor, I trust your decision. What’s your plan?” asked Picard.
“I’ll contact the life form, see if I can stop what’s happening. Maybe we could understand the entity itself and help it.”
“You believe it is a prisoner to the Borg?”
“Yes, sir, I do.”
“I think it could work.” Commented Will, who was rewarded for his trust, by a smile of thanks from Deanna.
“Shall we go then? The sooner the better.” Said Picard, gesturing to the door.
Getting off the diagnostic bed, Deanna noticed that she was still in her nightgown.
“I believe, we’ll need to stop off at my quarters first.” She said with a smile.
As the three officers left Sickbay, Beverley Crusher turned back to her office determined to find another way to help Deanna, if this attempt failed.
On the Bridge Data had remained in command. He sat staring at the viewscreen. From the science station, Geordie LaForge wondered what Data saw and what he though of when he lost himself in the stars. Geordie’s thoughts were disturbed as the turbolift to his left opened. Picard, Riker and Troi emerged. Troi seemed very pale, but showed no other sign of assimilation. He moved instinctively towards them as did Data and Worf.
“Counsellor, how are you?” he asked.
“I’m fine, Geordie. Thank you for asking.” She replied.
Worf scowled at her.
“Worf, I’m not the enemy!”
“I did not mean to offend you, Counsellor, but my job is to protect the ship and crew.”
Worf’s posting on Deep Space Nine hadn’t changed him much.
“Yes, Worf, I know,” she answered and smiled at him, “and I understand.”
They took they’re stations on the Bridge. As Picard settled into the Command chair he spoke to Data.
“How is your research going, Data?”
“Not well, sir. Unfortunately the scanners did not gather enough information for us to make any more headway.”
“Hmm.” Pondered Picard. “Can we track the life-form down, Data?”
“Yes, sir. The life-form leaves a small trail of ionic particles.”
“About the only thing the sensors did pick up.” Commented LaForge.
“Good.” He turned to face the Ensign at the conn station. “Ensign, catch up with that life-form, fastest possible speed.”
“Aye, sir.” Answered the young man.
“Mister LaForge, work with Data and Worf. See if you can modify the shields so as to protect ourselves from another scan.”
Geordie and Data nodded as they made their way towards the turbolift where Worf stood waiting. Picard turned to Troi.
“How are you holding up, Counsellor?”
“Pretty good, considering.” She smiled. “My natural defences have started to work on the nano-probes and I can feel their process slowing.”
Picard awarded Troi with one of his uncommon smiles of support. Several silent moments had passed before the young Ensign spoke up again.
“Captain, we’ve reached the co-ordinates.”
“Thank you Ensign.”
A Vulcan woman, Lieutenant Sarn had taken Data’s place on the Bridge.
“Sir, we are in visual range.” She said.
“Good. Put it on screen, maximum magnification.”
Troi felt her whole body shudder slightly at the sight of the energy-based life-form on the viewscreen. She felt the crews’ nervousness, or was that just her own?
“Okay, Counsellor, it’s up to you know.” Picard said.
“Thank you, sir.” She replied.
Deanna Troi closed her eyes and laid-bare her mind. She lost herself in the minds of those around her. The first mind she sensed was her captain’s. She felt his calm and his carefully hidden concern. Another mind brushed past her own- Will Riker’s mind. His was the most familiar mind and she drew courage and strength from him. She felt his concern and distress about the situation they had found themselves in. Very suddenly, without warning and very intensely, another consciousness pushed it’s way into her mind. The voice’s chorused,
‘Assimilate them all! Resistance is futile!’
“No!” she breathed in her mind and probably out loud, she wasn’t sure, but she opened her eyes quickly and found Will Riker staring at her from his post, with a peculiar look on his face.
“What’s wrong, Deanna?”
“Nothing. I’m fine.”
“Are you sure, Counsellor?” asked Picard, with an arched eyebrow.
He knew she had lied to Riker. He knew, because he had heard the message too.
Troi closed her eyes once more with a slight nod of her head. The rest of the crew watched in anticipation, not knowing what reaction they were waiting for. Worf entered the Bridge from the aft turbolift and took his station at tactical.
“Sir, the life-form is moving towards us.” Reported Sarn.
“Worf, activate the shield modifications.”
“Aye, sir.” He replied.
There was a slight beep from his console.
“Shield activated, sir.”
“No,” whispered Troi, her eyes still closed, “let it come. It will not harm you.”
Picard nodded his head at Worf, who disengaged the shield. The life-form moved towards the ship and engulfed it fully. The ship rocked slightly as the life-form gripped the ship’s hull. A small part of the life-form separated itself from the mass of the energy cloud. It entered the Bridge from above the officers and hovered beside Troi. She seemed to nod and smile slightly, as she stood up with her eyes still tightly closed and allowed the life-form to engulf her own body.
“Counsellor?” asked Picard, standing up with Riker not knowing what to expect.
She opened her eyes, but her once liquid-black irises were now like the energy cloud- many colours, but mainly pink and purple. When she spoke, her voice held an infliction that made it more alien than usual.
“Your Troi is okay. She has allowed us to use her body to communicate with you. She will not be harmed.”
“She’s already in danger thanks to you…” began Riker, but stopped as Picard shot him a slight glance of annoyance.
Troi’s face fell into an expression of sorrow and guilt.
“Yes, she has told us. We are sorry for what we have done to her, but we have no control over what they tell us to do.”
“We feel for your situation,” began Picard, “but we need to know if there is anyway to help Troi.”
“We are sorry, we do not know of anyway to help her.”
“Yes, but surely…”
Troi suddenly looked very frightened.
“What is it? What’s wrong?”
“We are being contacted by them.” Troi looked directly at Picard; “Do you not hear them?”
Picard shook his head. He couldn’t hear them this time.
“We cannot break free from the control they have over us. We must leave. We are truly sorry.”
As the being floated from her body, Troi dropped to her knees with a cry of pain. Her eyes remained tightly closed, it was almost like she feared opening them. She put her fingertips to each temple, as if she had a headache. Her chest rose and fell quickly as her breathing became erratic and she began to sway back and forth slightly.
“Deanna?” asked Riker, as he and Picard moved closer towards her.
‘Imzadi…please…I can’t…Tell her to leave…!’ her voice echoed in his mind.
He felt her fear and desperation as if it were his own. Her head felt ready to explode, as their voices grew in strength and numbers. The pain threatened to overwhelm her, as it shot through her entire body, like lightening. She was dimly aware of Riker and Picard moving closer to her when the voice chorused;
‘Assimilate them all!’
She felt herself become lost amongst the crowd of minds, her individuality slipped away from her hold. She cried out as the metallic Borg implant burst through her skin. The star-shaped compartment for the assimilation tubules rested homely on the top of her hand. Picard and Riker both saw it and immediately knew what it was, they continued to walk to her.
“No, please stop!”
They froze in horror when she spoke to them from her crouched position on the Bridge floor. Her voice sounded of the many, like the Borg, and yet it retained some of its usual infliction, it still sounded distinctly feminine and withheld some of her distinctive accent.
“Please do not come any closer. We do not want to hurt you.”
“Can you tell us what is happening to you?” asked Picard, wary of getting to close to her.
“The collective calls to us. The communication is causing the process to speed up. We can no longer resist their attempts of conquest.”
Will tried to move closer to her, but Picard stopped him with a shake of his head.
“We must leave if we are to protect you. They will come for us.”
“Who? Who will come?”
“You should know, Lacutus, they came for you on the day that your nightmares take you back to.”
“Lacutus?” he repeated in confusion.
“That is your designation.”
“Not anymore. I am an individual, just like you are.”
“You are not Borg in the physical sense, but you can still hear us. You can hear the collective’s call, can you not?”
“Yes I can, but that does not make me Borg…”
“Their hold is strengthening, we can no longer stay…”
“Deanna…” began Will in an almost desperate tone.
She looked directly at him with eyes that had once sparkled with life, but now seemed to have died.
“Deanna is no more.”
She got up from her kneeling position on the floor and walked quickly towards the turbolift.
She turned slightly towards him; a single tear of strain fell down her cheek.
“For your own protection, we cannot stay.”
“Where will you go?”
“Where we must. Our existence must be terminated.” She turned away from him and carried on walking towards the turbolift.
“There must be a way to help you, to stop this!” exclaimed Riker.
“No.” retorted Troi, in annoyance. “There is no way. The collective will come for us. If we are here they will take this ship and everyone on board.”
“Then let me come with you!”
“Number One..?” came Picard’s shocked voice.
“You cannot trust us, you must stay away! You will comply!”
“No, I will not! Not when there’s a chance to help you!”
“Resistance is futile!” she said in confusion at Riker’s stubborn refusal to accept the truth.
The Bridge crew shuddered at the emotions that those words evoked. It was frightening to hear them coming from a friend.
“No, it’s not. You know it’s not! We’ve defeated the Borg a hundred times before.”
“We must leave.”
Troi ended the conversation and quickly entered the turbolift, the doors closed around her with a final hiss and she was whisked off the bridge.
Will Riker turned to face Jean-Luc Picard.
“Captain, I know what we agreed, but it doesn’t seem right for us to let her do this. It was too easy for the Borg, we didn’t even have the chance to fight!” commented Riker.
“I agree with Commander Riker, sir.” Came Worf’s voice, as he moved away from the tactical station and stood beside his comrades. “We owe it to Counsellor Troi to fight and resist a dishonourable defeat.”
“We promised that we wouldn’t give up on her.” Continued Riker.
“Of course I want to help her, but what can we do?” asked Picard, he’d be damned if he’d let them take Deanna from them so easily and without a fight.
“I have a suggestion, Captain.”
Picard, Riker and Worf turned to face Lieutenant Sarn, the young Vulcan woman who sat in Data’s position.
“I have read several reports made by Counsellor Troi on patients who have been ‘possessed’ by other minds. She suggests that the key to freeing them is to encourage the patients’ own conscious to surface from beneath the overbearing one. I believe she used it on you captain during your recovery from your own experiences with the Borg.”
“What are you suggesting, Lieutenant?” asked Picard.
“I am suggesting, captain, that we try to encourage Troi’s conscious to overcome the Borg’s collective consciousness, by continuously exposing her to events, objects and emotions that played an important, if not vital, role in the Counsellor’s life.”
“I’m not sure it would work, but considering there are no alternatives then we must use your idea, Lieutenant. Have you any suggestions about how we even start this process?”
“I believe that Commander Riker would play a key role in the Counsellor’s recovery.”
“Very well. Computer, location of Counsellor Troi?”
“Counsellor Troi is in her quarters.”
“Alright, Number One, off you go and good luck.”
“Thank you, sir.” Replied Riker with a nod of his head.
He quickly stepped into the turbolift with no idea what he was going to say to Deanna.
“Worf, follow behind with a security team. Stay outside Troi’s quarters and don’t intervene unless necessary.”
“Aye, sir.” Replied the large Klingon.
After letting the door chime several times and getting no answer, Will Riker let himself into Deanna Troi’s quarters, hoping that he was not too late, that she hadn’t already carried out her arduous task.
“That designation does not belong to us.” Came her emotionless voice from her sleeping quarters.
She stepped into the dim light of her living quarters and stopped a few metres in front of Riker. He couldn’t help but notice how pale she was, how lifeless and ridged her body had become and how her eyes no longer shined with the emotions of herself and of those around her.
“I don’t believe that and nor should you.”
“Why do you deny what we are? Is it not clear to you that we are Borg?”
“I deny it, because I know that the woman I love is still within you. You are still Deanna Troi, my Imzadi.”
“You are in error. We are Borg.”
“No I’m not wrong. You are still part Humanoid.”
He watched as her face still showed no emotion. He decided to put Sarn’s plan into action.
“Imzadi, do you remember when we first met?”
“No, such particulars are irrelevant to the goal of perfection.”
“No they’re not. Those memories and experiences are what make us what we are. Please just try, look at the memories of Deanna Troi, you will see how important that time was for her.”
Will watched as Deanna closed those lifeless eyes. When she opened them again she smiled at him.
“Oh Gods, I remember!” All the Borg infliction had gone from her voice. “I remember!”
He walked forward closing the distance between them and took her in his arms. The hold felt wrong somehow. Will couldn’t place why he felt it was wrong, it just was! A voice suddenly screamed in his mind;
‘Imzadi, run! I can’t hold her back; she’s tricking you! Please run!’
The voice was weak and sounded as if it came from a vast distance, but it was definitely Deanna. Will, in confusion, pulled away from the embrace and stared into Deanna’s eyes. They were still emotionless.
‘Please, Imzadi, run!’
He needed no further urging, he moved away from her.
“Will, what’s wrong?” she asked.
“You’re still Borg.”
An evil, mocking smile tugged at her lips.
“Yes, we are Borg.”
Her voice reverted to the echoing sound of the Borg speech patterns.
“As will you be.”
While she moved towards him, Riker dashed to the door, but he was too late. She grabbed him and threw him to the floor. Her Borg strength enabled her to hold him down with one hand. In the struggle Riker’s communicator was activated by a stray elbow, he immediately realised this and shouted;
“Riker to security. Emergency!”
The thin assimilation tubules began to extend from the star-shaped object on her hand and he held her arm back as they came dangerously close to his neck. Without warning Troi staggered and fell to the floor. Worf appeared in Riker’s field of vision holding a phaser.
“That was close. Thanks Worf.” He said as he stood up and brushed himself off.
“Where should we put her, Commander?” asked the tall Klingon.
Riker looked to the floor where Deanna Troi was sprawled.
“The Brig is probably the safest option…for all of us.”
The large chief of security nodded and picked Troi up, slinging her unconscious form over his broad shoulders and left the quarters closely followed by three security guards.
Picard looked up from his computer terminal as the door to his Ready Room hissed open and Will Riker, looking glum, entered.
“I take it from your expression, Number One, that all did not go well with Deanna.”
“You guessed right, sir. Deanna’s unconscious in the Brig under guard.”
“Deanna…She attacked me, sir.” Riker blushed with embarrassment.
“Unfortunately, Will, the Borg have an enormous amount of strength, equal to that of Data.
Have you any more insight to the situation?”
“I don’t believe that this is a simple assimilation involving telepathy.”
“Oh?” asked Picard with a sceptical arched eyebrow.
“Before Deanna attacked me her ‘True Self’, for want of a better expression, communicated with me telepathically to warn me of the danger. She spoke of a ‘She’, I’m beginning to think that she is not simply becoming Borg, but also a vessel for another consciousness all together.”
“An interesting hypothesis, Number One, and very probable.”
A short silence followed, which was then broken by Riker, who finally asked Picard a question that troubled him greatly. He knew Picard didn’t like talking about his Borg experience, but Will needed to know.
“Sir…What would she be thinking during all of this? As in what would Deanna herself be thinking?”
“When I went through my experience as Lacutus, I remember being aware of everything I was doing and everything going on around me, but nothing I could do would stop me from doing them. Deanna is probably as much, if not more, aware of her actions. She probably has more control, because of her empathic abilities, which would explain how she was able to contact you.”
“The control she does have is limited and is probably diminishing. I think it’s safe to assume that her humanoid consciousness is getting weaker by the hour.” Concluded Will. “If we’re going to do something for her, we have to do it soon before we lose all trace of her.”
“Agreed.” Picard rose from his desk. “How about we visit the Brig and see if we can get some more information from Deanna?” Picard tapped his commbadge. “Picard to Worf.”
“Worf here, sir.” Came the Klingon’s rumbling reply.
“Myself and Commander Riker are going to see Deanna. Would you and Data meet us there, just in case?”
The link broke and the two Starfleet officers made their way to the Brig. Each one of them becoming increasingly tense the nearer they got.
The door to the Brig hissed open to reveal the security guard on duty with his phaser drawn and pointed towards one of the cells.
“Crewman, what’s going on here?” demanded Picard.
“She refuses to move away from the force field, sir.”
Picard turned to face an emotionless and pale Deanna Troi.
“Deanna, for your own safety, please step away from the force field.”
“That is no longer my designation, Picard.”
Her voice no longer held the Borg infliction and the change from ‘We’ to ‘I’ was obvious.
“I am perfection. I will not be held prisoner.”
She placed her hand directly on the field. It crackled in protest. Ordinarily the person touching the field would pull their hand back at the electric shock, Deanna Troi, however, seemed unaffected by the shock and kept her hand in place.
“I don’t care who or what you are, remove your hand from the field before you damage Counsellor Troi’s body!” Thundered Picard.
She remained standing where she was. The energy build up was audible. The force field
hissed angrily as it overloaded and disappeared. She stepped calmly out of the cell.
“Stand where you are!”
Riker, Picard and the security guard turned to see Worf, Data and two more security guards entering the Brig. Troi seemed to recognise Data and moved towards him undeterred by the five phasers pointed in her direction.
“We have met before.”
“I am sorry. I do not recall.” Replied Data.
“We offered you perfection, what you always wished to achieve, but they convinced you otherwise, they took the attainment of your dreams from you.”
“What do you mean?” asked Riker.
“You I do not remember, but some of this crew have met my conscious before.” She said walking towards him. “I am the Borg, I control them. I am the collective.”
“The Borg Queen.” Commented Picard.
She turned away from Riker with a smirk and walked seductively towards Picard, putting her arms around his neck and bringing her lips close to his.
“That, Lacutus, was the pitiful name that you gave me, yes.” She confirmed, pressing her front into his. “Surely you can’t tell me that you’ve forgotten about us, about our time together?”
Picard, uncomfortably, took Deanna’s arms from his neck and stepped back to put some distance between himself and the Borg Queen.
“Why don’t you leave Deanna alone?!” Riker exclaimed.
“Quite simply, I need her. If it had not been for this one’s empathic and telepathic abilities I would not be here. She has achieved the greatest honour. She is the host for perfection.”
“It is an honour that she did not give her permission for!” Exploded Picard. “Your life ended in our Engine room two years go. This is not your life. Release her!”
“Or what, Picard?! What can you do to me that will not result in her death?”
“She knows the risk and she also knows that we will do all we can to stop you from harming anyone else!”
“I think,” she said with a devilish smile, “I’ll stay.”
“Very well, you give us no choice.” Picard turned to Worf. “Go ahead, Commander.”
Riker closed his eyes at the sound of a phaser being fired; this was followed by a short scream and then silence. He opened his eyes to see Picard crouching over a figure, which lay on the floor. He moved towards Picard.
He couldn’t bring himself to say ‘that’ word.
“No.” answered Picard, as he checked the fallen woman’s vital signs. “No, but her pulse is weak. We should get her to Sickbay.”
Riker knelt down and scooped Deanna’s limp form into his arms.
“Do you want her woken up?” asked Beverley Crusher.
“Are you sure all the Nano-probes are gone?” Picard answered with a further question.
Riker and Picard stood by Deanna Troi’s Bio-bed, thankful that Worf’s shot hadn’t caused her any real harm.
“Yes, there’s no sign of the Nano-probes anywhere in her systems and as you can see we were able to remove the Borg component from her hand.”
“Alright, doctor. Wake her, please.”
Doctor Beverley Crusher pressed the hypospray into Troi’s neck. Almost immediately Deanna began to stir and then she opened her emotion-filled eyes.
“Counsellor,” asked Picard, “Are you alright?”
“Yes. Yes I think so.” She replied wearily, as Beverley helped her sit up on the bio-bed.
“All signs of assimilation have disappeared and I was able to remove the Borg implant from your hand.” Commented Beverley.
Absentmindedly Deanna looked at her hand pulling it into a fist and opening it up again, as if she’d not used it for a while. Her hand felt stiff and sore.
“Yes, I know. I can’t hear them anymore.”
“Are you sure you’re alright?” asked Will, as he watched her play with her hand and not pay
much attention to what was going on around her.
She looked up at him; sadness filled her eyes.
“I’m fine, I just feel…lonely.” She frowned at her own response.
“That’s quite understandable, Counsellor.” Commented Picard, patting her arm. “They may have been unwelcome, but they were company, right?”
Deanna nodded her head understanding what Picard was trying to describe. The verbal words were inadequate, but she understood what he was trying to describe.
“Do you remember much about what happened?” asked Riker.
Again Deanna nodded, but this time she looked down in shame, then looked back at Riker.
“I remember everything. Will, I’m so sorry for what I tried to do to you, I…”
“Deanna, it wasn’t you. You couldn’t stop what was happening.”
She smiled at his understanding. She turned to Picard.
“Captain, about the Brig, I…”
He raised his hand to stop her from speaking knowing full well what she was about to say.
“The past is the past, Counsellor. I’m just thankful that you’re back with us.”
“And,” continued Riker, “that the Borg Queen is gone.”
“Borg Queen?” asked Beverley in shock and confusion.
Between them, Picard and Riker, explained what had occurred and what they had learnt in the Brig.
“Oh, Gods!” Troi cried out suddenly.
“She’s still here, captain, she’s not gone!” panicked Troi.
“What? I though you said…”
“I can feel her, captain, within me. It’s almost like she’s unconscious.”
“Will this whole thing start again if she regains consciousness?” asked Beverly.
“I don’t know, she’s very powerful and overbearing.”
“Could she take over your mind again?”
“No, captain, she could and did not do that. She can take control of my body and actions, but my mind is my own.”
“Of course, Counsellor, I meant no offence.”
“Of course you didn’t, Captain.” She replied.
Deanna turned to her doctor, her best friend,
“Beverley, I’d like to go to my office to catch up on my work.”
“I’ve no objections as long as you call me the minute you feel even slightly unwell.”
Deanna nodded and slid off the bed.
“Let me escort you, Deanna.” Came Will’s voice.
Not having the strength to resist she nodded and hooked her arm into the crook of the tall First Officer’s proffered elbow.
The first thing Troi did when she arrived in her office was go straight to her desk and the hundreds of messages and various reports she had to go through. Will sat on one of her sofas.
“Deanna, come and sit down. You’ve been through a lot you should be resting not going through all that work.”
“Give me a moment, I just want to set up these appointments first, then at least I’ll have done something.” She replied, not looking at him, but at the five computer PADDs she held in her hand.
Two hands gripped her waist firmly; she placed the PADDs on her desk and smiled inwardly. He pulled her back towards him so that his front pressed up against her back. She placed her hands over his where they were entwined on her abdomen. She felt his breath on her neck and then his lips replaced his breath. His kissed her gently making his way down her neck and onto her shoulder. He lifted his lips from her skin leaving a tingling sensation in its wake.
“I don’t know what I would have done if I had lost you again.”
She turned to face him, their bodies dangerously close and pressing up against each other, but neither of them realising.
“The first time was my own fault, I let my career be my priority and then when I got you back I did it again and I lost you to Worf.”
“Imzadi,” she said, saying that meaningful word to him out loud for the first time in a long time, “don’t blame yourself. It wasn’t all down to you, I made certain decisions too.”
A strange feeling swept over Troi, one that she had not felt for a long time, but she reacted to it, pushing a small lock of Will’s hair from his forehead with the tips of her fingers. She suddenly realised what she was doing and stopped quickly, looking away from him and blushing slightly in embarrassment.
He hooked her chin with his finger and gently rose her head so that she looked back at him. Without a word he lowered his head and pressed his lips against hers. He pulled back slightly and saw that Deanna’s eyes were closed, but she was frowning. Will realised that she was savouring that feeling, remembering how the deeper kisses had felt. Deanna, though confused by what she felt, began to feel a renewed and deep need for Will.
He pressed his lips against hers once more, but this time deepened the kiss. Soon they were kissing each other hungrily, feeling like the lovers they had once been all those years ago in the Jalara Jungle.
As Will manouvered Deanna towards the sofa, laying her beneath him on it, still kissing her, he heard her voice in his mind.
‘Imzadi, what are we doing?’
‘Shh, don’t speak Deanna…’ He replied, surprising himself and Deanna at his ability to respond telepathically.
She pulled her lips from his and looked up from where she lay. Surprise was written all over her face. She opened her mouth to speak, but was silenced as Will covered her mouth with his own once more.
‘This is crazy!’ she thought to herself, and yet it felt so right to be kissed and touched by him.
Will’s hands moved along her body, sending shivers and tingling sensations throughout her whole being. She responded by threading her fingers amongst his brown hair. They were enjoying each others company so much that they didn’t hear the door to Deanna’s office open, only realising at the sound of an embarrassed grunt. Deanna Troi looked up to see her ex-fiancée turning to leave the room.
“Worf!” shouted Deanna in shock, as she pushed Will off her and adjusted her clothing.
“Worf,” she repeated. “What are you doing here?”
“I had come to see if you were alright. Obviously you are well.” Said the large Klingon.
Troi’s checks reddened, she felt like a teenager who’d been caught with her boyfriend by her parents. If Worf was embarrassed he wasn’t showing it. Will’s face simply beamed with his trademark smile, he too seemed completely unaffected by this situation.
“Thank you, Mister Worf. Counsellor Troi is fine, I’ll be personally looking after her.”
“Yes, sir. I’m sure you will.” He answered. “Please excuse me?” He said then left the office.
Troi and Riker collapsed, laughing, into each other’s arms.
Worf had gone straight from Troi’s quarters to the ‘Ten-Forward’ lounge. Guinan saddled up to where the Klingon sat at the bar.
“What can I get you, Worf? Your usual?”
He nodded at the dark-skinned alien bar hostess. She smiled and moved towards the Replicator. She returned quickly and quietly placed the glass of prune juice in front of him and then moved away to serve some other customers at the other end of the bar.
Worf looked behind him to see Geordie LaForge and Data standing behind him. Silently he indicated that they should take the seats beside him.
“Are you alright?” asked Geordie as he sat beside the silent Klingon.
Worf battled within himself at whether to tell his friend what was bothering him or not. A Klingon warrior never complained about personal discomforts, however his many years in Starfleet and among Humans had taught him that it was good for the concentration to share problems.
“I went to see Counsellor Troi. To see how she was.” He cleared his throat.
“How is Counsellor Troi?” asked Data.
“She seemed fine.”
“Yes, I’m sure she was.” Geordie said impatient to hear Worf’s story. “Go on Worf.”
“After getting no reply from my summons and having the computer tell me that Deanna was in her office, I overrided the security lock and entered her office. I found Deanna and Commander Riker in an…awkward situation.”
As Geordie began to laugh, Data looked on in confusion.
“I fail to see why that was funny, Geordie.”
“What’s not to find funny about it, Data?”
“Well, Commander Worf did not say what that situation was.”
“A ‘Lover’s Awkward Situation’.” Geordie replied.
Data looked at his best friend with a blank expression.
“He caught them kissing!” Explained Geordie, throwing his arms up in exasperation.
“I still fail to see why Counsellor Troi and Commander Riker kissing is deemed funny.”
A number of people around the three senior officers heard the conversation and were now talking amongst themselves.
“It’s gossip, Data.”
“Forget it, Data. Come on, let’s get back to Engineering. See you round, Worf.”
They left the large Klingon in a room full of gossiping people.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard sat in the command chair on the Bridge of the U.S.S Enterprise, pondering over what had occurred over the past hours. He looked to his right and saw Commander Riker entering the Bridge from the turbolift. Will made his way to the command centre and sat in his place to his captain’s right.
“You okay, Number One?”
“Yes, sir. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Well, with this whole situation over now, I would have thought…”
“To be honest, captain, I’m not sure that it’s not over.” He interrupted. “I hope it’s just a feeling.”
“I know. The ‘Borg Queen’ is a very formidable creature, she wouldn’t have given up that easily. However, Deanna is strong, she’ll be alright.”
“No, sir, I don’t think she will be.”
“That’s not a comforting answer, Number One.”
“I know, sir. Deanna didn’t want to say anything to you, but she doesn’t think that she could withstand another invasion.”
“The first one depleted her ‘reserves’, so to speak, dramatically and she’s not confident that she has the appropriate telepathic abilities to strike back again.”
Picard shook his head,
“I wish there was something more we could do for her.”
“I know the feeling, sir.”
“What was the Counsellor doing when you left her?”
“She was sleeping, sir.”
Was it Picard’s imagination or did Will Riker just blush slightly?
Worf entered the Bridge, eyeing the First Officer suspiciously, but not showing any of the embarrassment he felt at knowing that almost every section on the lower decks were now gossiping about Riker and Troi being back together. Their relationship was almost legendary throughout Starfleet, every cadet learnt about it ‘through the grapevine’ at Starfleet Academy.
‘Planner to Worf’ Came the voice of the deputy chief of security though Worf’s commbadge.
“Worf here. What is it Planner?”
‘Sir, we’ve had a security call to your quarters. I’m on my way there now, but I thought you’d like to be included.’
“Thank you, Planner. I will join you shortly. Worf out.”
The tall brunette woman greeted Worf outside his quarters.
“Thank you for waiting, Planner.”
“No Problem, sir.”
Worf, Planner and two other security guards cautiously entered Worf’s quarters. It was empty.
“Computer, identify the last person to enter these quarters in the last ten minutes.” Ordered Worf.
‘Counsellor Troi was the last person to enter these quarters.’
Worf’s eyebrow arched at the computer’s answer.
“What would Counsellor Troi be doing in your quarters?”
“I don’t know, Planner.”
“May I suggest we check for any missing items, sir?”
It was as Riker and Picard sat discussing the resent events that Picard’s communicator chimed.
“Captain, this is Worf.”
“Yes, Worf, what is it?”
“Sir, Counsellor Troi broke into my quarters.”
“The computer identified her as the last person in here at the time of the intrusion. One of my Klingon Ceremonial Daggers is missing, sir.”
“What would she want that for?”
“That is what I intend to ask her when I see her.” The Klingon’s voice rumbled with anger.
Picard broke the comm link.
“Captain, I’d like to be included in Worf’s search.”
“Very well, Number One.”
As Riker stood he called out,
“Computer, location of Counsellor Troi?”
‘Counsellor Troi is in her quarters.’ Came the computer’s stark reply.
Picard watched bleakly as his First Officer strode into the turbolift and disappeared behind the doors.
He had shared Riker’s feeling of knowing that it wasn’t all over, but he had hoped that they were wrong. Obviously they had both been right.
As Picard entered his Ready Room, his commbadge chimed.
“Sir,” came Riker’s voice, “We’ve lost Troi.”
“What do you mean, ‘lost’, Number One?”
“We found her communicator in her quarters, but she’s not here. Worf’s deployed several security teams on various decks, but we’re having trouble tracking her.”
“Alright. Leave the search to Worf and come to my Ready Room as soon as possible. Picard out.”
As he tapped his commbadge to break the link he made his way to the large window. He stood by it and stared at the stars. Something moved behind him, but before he could react a Klingon Ceremonial Dagger was pressed against his throat.
“Forgive me, Lacutus, but I must get off this ship.” Came Deanna’s voice from behind him.
He knew he had to delay her until Riker could get there and help him.
“Let me speak to Deanna?” he stalled.
“No. No more delays, Lacutus. Take me to the Shuttle Bay now!”
“Do you really think that you’ll get off this ship?”
“I don’t need to think, I know I will.”
As Deanna manoeuvred Picard towards the Ready Room door, it hissed open and Will Riker entered. Reacting immediately, Deanna pushed Picard to one side. He fell and hit his head on the desk corner. Deanna thrust the blade in Riker’s direction, but he’d seen it coming and dropped to the floor. Riker swung his leg into hers, causing her to topple onto him and drop the dagger. They both lunged for it, but Deanna was slightly faster and she grabbed at it in an almost greedy and obsessive manner.
“I’ll kill you for interfering!” she hissed at him as they stood up.
There was another struggle to gain control of the dagger and Will was thrown to the floor, as she ran forward with the dagger, it became painfully clear to Will that she was not going to miss him.
As the blade came ever closer toward him, a halo of light flashed around Troi’s body.
“NO! YOU WILL NOT USE ME TO KILL!” Troi screamed at the ceiling of her Captain’s Ready Room.
As Riker stood up, he saw a flash of light reflect off the dagger. He looked up at Troi and saw her turning the blade on herself.
“Deanna, wait, no….!” His plea trailed off, as he watched her pull the dagger from her body and she fell to the floor.
Her entire body beginning to convulse, as he tried to stop the bleeding.
“Riker to Sickbay, Medical emergency in the Captain’s Ready Room!”
Now all he could do was wait and pray that it wasn’t too late to save her.
As Picard began to stir he heard hushed voices near by.
“I’m…..I’m sorry, Will!” Deanna whispered.
“Shhh, it’s alright. Everything will be alright.” Will whispered back, stroking her face with one hand and applying pressure to her wound with his other hand.
Picard sat up and almost lost consciousness over the sight that befell him. His First Officer was kneeling beside his Counsellor who was losing blood fast. Had Riker had to injure Troi or had she injured herself?
“What the devil is going on here?” demanded Picard, as he knelt beside Riker.
Riker quickly explained what had happened after Picard had fallen unconscious from the blow to his head, which had resulted in a shiny bruise above his left temple.
“Imzadi….I….love you.” Whispered Troi.
“No, Imzadi, don’t say your goodbyes. Everything will be alright, you’ll see….”
“Shhh, Imzadi.” She whispered, “I knew what the consequences of my actions would be.”
Her face contorted in pain and tears began to fall down her cheeks.
“Captain, she’s gone now…for good.”
“Thank you, Counsellor.” Picard answered.
“Riker to Sickbay, where the hell’s that med-unit?”
“Imzadi,” She whispered, as she moved his face so that he looked at her, “you were right. Resistance is not futile.”
She smiled slightly, as her eyes began to close. An expression of peace fell across her face and she took one last shuddering breath as her hand slipped from his cheek, leaving a bloody trail in its wake.
“Deanna? Imzadi, no! This isn’t happening! Deanna?!” He cried desperately, as if the sound of his voice calling to her could bring her back.
Will was sure he heard something shatter…..he was sure that it was his heart and soul, their Imzadi bond.
Picard checked for Deanna’s pulse. As Will looked up at him, hope gleaming in his eyes, Picard placed a hand on his First Officer’s arm.
“Will,” he shook his head, “she’s gone.”
Will choked a sob and buried his face in her shoulder, rocking them both back and forth, clutching her body tightly to him, still crying out her name.
Everything else became a blur. He vaguely remembered the medical staff arriving, trying to revive Deanna, then Beverley Crusher breaking down in tears and being comforted by Picard. He remembered how the medical staff had had to literally pull him away from Deanna’s blood-soaked body, putting it on a stretcher and covering it with a large white sheet so they could take it to the Morgue. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion, but Will knew one thing for certain, he’d lost his Soul Mate, the one person that had truly meant everything to him and he knew that nothing could bring her back.
Will Riker sat at a table in the far corner of the ‘Ten-Forward’ Lounge, by one of the three large windows that graced the room. It had been two hours since Deanna’s passing and Riker, still, sat nursing a now cold coffee, simply staring at the stars with emptiness in his mind and soul.
Not even the Captain’s voice over the inter-ship communicator could break him from his thoughts of nothingness.
“Attention all hands, this is Picard. It is my sad duty to inform you all that Counsellor Deanna Troi passed away two hours ago…”
Gasps of shock racketed throughout the lounge.
“There will be a memorial service for Deanna at eighteen hundred hours in Holodeck 3. All are welcome to attend. I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that she will be greatly missed. Picard out.”
A few people had already began to cry, but most people were too shocked to do anything.
One Ensign noticed Riker sitting alone and bravely approached him.
“Commander Riker, I’m Ensign Freeman. I would just like to offer you my condolences on your loss. I understand that Counsellor Troi and yourself were very close.”
“Thank you, Ensign.”
The young brunette woman nodded at her superior officer and left him on his own.
The space chosen for Deanna’s memorial service was a grassy clearing in the middle of a large expanse of woodland. Birds chirped and a slight breeze rustled the leaves on the trees. Set in springtime, the pink and white blossoms fell loose in the wind and swirled around the marble slab on which Deanna’s body lay. She had been dressed in a pure white, ankle-length robe; that clung to her body like a second skin. The long sleeves fanned out from the elbow, giving it a Tudor period look. Her dark hair fell loose in thick ringlets and had been crowned with a ring of flame-coloured roses. Her hands had been strategically placed just below her breasts.
The grassy clearing was brimming with people who wanted a chance to say goodbye to Deanna, before her body was shipped back to Betazed and placed in the Troi family mausoleum.
Data, Geordie and Worf stood at the front of the crowd along with Beverley and Will. The First Officer concentrated all his energy on Deanna’s best friend rather than himself. He knew that Deanna would want him to face the emotions that raged within him, but he couldn’t, not yet.
Jean-Luc Picard stepped up in front of the crowd and stood beside Troi’s body.
“Thank you all for coming this evening. It is one of the worst duties of a Captain to speak to his crew about the loss of a colleague; it never becomes any easier. What makes this particular situation worse than most is that Deanna Troi had become like a sister to many of us, to me she was like a daughter. She has helped each one of us in different ways; whether it be through her role as Counsellor, as a friend or something more. Deanna was, and I think you’ll all agree with me, the most unselfish person that I’ve had the pleasure to have under my command. Unfortunately it was her selflessness that led to this unfortunate situation.”
Picard faced Deanna’s body beside him,
“Deanna, you were an inspiration to us all. You gave your life to save a colleague and close friend and possibly your entire crew. I know that your sacrifice was not in-vain.”
With those final words, Picard walked over to her, knelt down and placed a single red rose beside the marble slab.
Each crew member then filed down to Deanna’s body, placed a floral tribute beside Picard’s and said their own goodbyes before exiting the Holodeck.
Beverley Crusher, accompanied by Picard and Riker, laid her tribute,
“I hope you’re happy wherever you are, Dee…I miss you.”
She kissed her best friend gently on her pale forehead and was led away with a broken sob, by Picard.
Picard and Beverley kept their distance, as they watched Will Riker from where they stood partially hidden by the trees. The tall First Officer walked to where Deanna’s body lay still, her skin pale, but her expression peaceful, as if she were asleep. He leaned down and kissed her once warm lips. They were cold, but still as soft as he remembered them. Looking down on her, his rage and fury leapt out from their hiding place within him.
“God, damn it, Deanna! Why did you do it, huh? Why did you have to leave me?!”
The strong First Officer fell to his knees, reached up and placed his hands over hers.
“I can’t do this, Imzadi! I can’t go on without you! I need you…I love you!”
He sat back on his heels, his hands still clasping hers. He was silent; there were no words suitable enough to describe the aching gap in his soul. He simply let the tears fall slowly from his crystal blue eyes, down his cheeks and onto his uniform. The uniform that suddenly didn’t feel as important to him, as it once had.
“Strange how love and death often combine and both reduce the strongest man to a pitiful creature.”
Riker looked up and turned his head to look behind him and there stood Q.
“Get out of here, Q!”
Picard and Crusher walked from the trees and stood behind the ‘Omnipotent’ alien.
“This isn’t meant to be you know…”
“What?” Riker stood up.
Q simply smiled that crafty, mischievous grin of his and in a flash of light was gone. That same flash of light appeared behind Will, where Deanna lay. Riker whirled round to see Q and Deanna engulfed in a halo of bright white light. Q was lifting Troi’s shoulders from the slab that she had been laid on. The God-like ‘man’ bent down and put his lips to Troi’s and another bluish coloured light flowed from Q’s hands and lips and into Troi. After laying her back down, Q and the light disappeared.
The three officers rushed to the body, it seemed unchanged.
“What the hell was that all about?” pondered Riker. “Nothing’s different!”
“You’re wrong, Will!” Exclaimed Beverley, as she peered at her tricorder.
“Beverley?” Questioned Picard.
The doctor looked directly at each of the two men in front of her.
“I’m reading a slight pulse…”
She paused glancing at her tricorder,
“But she’s still not breathing…Will emergency C.P.R now, before we lose her again!” She commanded.
The First Officer wasted no time in taking his position at Deanna’s head, breathing for her while Beverley concentrated on strengthening her pulse and heartbeat by applying the heart’s usual rhythmic pressure to Deanna’s chest.
Suddenly Troi arched her back and took a huge gulp of air, which left her coughing, spluttering and taking in more gulps of air, like a new born.
“All her system’s are returning to normal.” Reported Picard, who’d been given the tricorder.
“Will?” Deanna asked weakly offering her hand to him.
“Shhh, take it easy, Imzadi. You’ve been through a lot.”
He said taking her offered hand in one of his own and stroking her hair with the other. He kissed her lightly on her warming knuckles.
“What happened?” she said, coughing slightly.
“Don’t worry about it for now, Deanna, just relax.” Said Beverley.
The small, still pale, Betazoid nodded slightly.
“How much do remember, Counsellor?” asked Picard.
“I’m… I’m not sure, I’m still a little hazy. I remember going to your Ready Room, but I don’t know why. Captain, what happened?”
Between them Riker and Picard explained the events that had unfolded in the captain’s Ready Room. Deanna stared at them in disbelief, finally she found her voice;
“But… if I’m supposed to be dead, then what am I doing talking to you?”
Riker looked down and cleared his throat, blushing slightly. Obviously whatever had happened had embarrassed the tall First Officer to no end.
“Will, may I remind you that even though I’ve just come back from the dead, I can still read you like a book.”
“I know that, Deanna, it’s just a little difficult to explain.”
The Captain noticed the difficulty in Will explaining what had occurred.
“Q was here, Deanna, he was the one who returned your life.”
“Why? How?” Deanna frowned in confusion, sitting up with Beverley’s help.
“Q made the suggestion that the timeline was tampered with, changing what was supposed to happen to you.”
“But how did he bring me back?”
Riker, Beverley and Picard all blushed and Picard cleared his throat.
“Come on, don’t try to hide anything from me!”
There were a few more moments silence before Will spoke up,
“He kissed you.”
Deanna’s cheeks reddened and she stared at Riker in disbelief.
“He what?!” she finally exploded.
“He kissed you.” Riker repeated.
“And you let him do that!?”
“We didn’t know he was going to do that..!”
“That was completely inappropriate, I feel totally violated!” she continued, interrupting Riker’s attempt at explanation.
“Had we known what his actions were going to be, Counsellor, we would have certainly stopped him.” Replied Picard.
“Of course you would have, Captain.” She said softly, regaining her usual serenity.
Before the discussion could be taken any further, the ship rocked violently and Data’s voice rang out from the ship’s intercom, as the red lights began to flash, signalling red alert.
“Red alert! All hands to Battle stations. Captain Picard and Commander Riker to the Bridge!”
“Beverley, I believe that you should return to Sickbay, Counsellor you too.”
Picard and Riker turned to leave the peaceful forest setting when Deanna Troi threw the ring of flowers from her head and ran towards them.
“I’m coming with you.”
“Deanna…” Riker warned.
She ignored him.
“Captain, you already know, as I do, what’s waiting for us. I can help!”
Picard shifted his gaze to Beverley Crusher who rolled her eyes, shrugged and then nodded her head.
“Alright, counsellor, but you won’t have time to change.” He said indicating to the long white robe.
“No problem, sir.” She said with a smile, ignoring the slight disapproving scowl on Riker’s face.
He opened his mouth to say something to her, but closed it again when she glanced at him and he heard her voice in his mind once more,
‘Don’t coddle me, Riker!’
Riker, Troi and Picard entered the Bridge and quickly took their respective places. On the viewscreen was everyone’s worst nightmare -ten Borg cubes.
“Dear God!” exclaimed Picard.
“They’ve come for the Borg Queen.” Commented Deanna.
“So who want’s to tell them she’s not here?” replied Riker.
“Captain,” came Worf’s booming voice, “incoming transmission from one of the Borg vessels. Audio only, sir.”
“Let’s hear it, Mister Worf.”
“We have come for the host, lower your shields and surrender her to us.” Came the echoing, mechanic voice of the Many.
“Your leader’s consciousness has been destroyed, there is no host.”
There was only silence from their end.
Something trickled at the edge of his mind, it felt like a harsh whisper. Picard looked over at Troi, she looked intensely at him,
‘You feel them don’t you, Jean-Luc?’
Picard’s eyes widened slightly at the feel of her mind in his. It was different to the Borg’s contact, hers was like a soft whisper. Despite his discomfort, he nodded.
‘They will try to…’
Deanna looked away, closed her eyes, shook her head, as she placed a hand on her head and moaned out loud slightly.
“Deanna?” asked Picard, drawing attention to himself and Troi. “What?”
He moved towards her, lifting her face to look at him,
“What were you trying to say?”
She still could not answer, her mind felt scrambled and she was trying hard to resist the Borg’s attempts to get through her blocks.
“Captain?” asked Riker in confusion.
“Deanna, what is it? What were they trying to do to me? What are they doing to you?”
She swallowed, took a deep breath and squared her shoulders as she looked at Picard.
“I’m alright, captain, they were attempting to break through my telepathic barriers, I needed time to strengthen them.”
“Captain, they’re attempting to match our shield harmonics!” came Worf’s voice.
“Rotate shield harmonic frequencies!” ordered Riker.
“Rotation has already started, sir.”
“They are matching their transporters to our shields.” Reported Data.
The green rays of the Borg transporters shimmered in several places on the Bridge and then there stood the Borg. One of them was to Troi’s left and it moved towards her. Worf saw this and ran to protect her, his phaser drawn.
At Worf’s voice Troi stood up in time to see the Borg raise its arm and hit Worf with an electric discharge. The large Klingon was lifted off the ground and thrown into the wall of the Bridge, he slid down it into an unconscious heap on the floor. The Borg never even looked at Worf, its eyes stared intensely at Troi. As it reached out to her, she backed away from it and her back hit something hard. She swallowed and tried her hardest not to cry out when she realised that another Borg had materialised behind her. Somehow she managed to glance at her comrades, all of whom were occupied with trying to disable the other four intruders.
The Borg she had backed into grabbed her forearms, as the Borg in front came ever closer, raising its arm and allowing its assimilation tubules to extend from its hand. Deanna clamped her eyes shut unsure of what else she could do.
“Deanna, fight back!” came Will’s shout.
She opened her eyes, as she tried to break free from the Borg’s grasp. It was too strong and the other one was getting far too close for her liking, she could almost feel the assimilation tubules on her neck. She jumped up suddenly, using the Borg holding her for support, and kicked the Borg in front of her in the chest. It staggered back, fell to the floor and disappeared in a column of green transporter energy. The Borg behind her reacted by sending an electrical discharge through her body. As she began to black out she grabbed onto a small cube-shaped object on the Borg’s chest. When she fell to the floor, the cube disconnected from the Borg, who fell to the floor beside Deanna and then presently disappeared. The last thing Troi saw were the other Borg’s similarly disappear and then she blacked out, still clutching the small cube in her hand.
Riker shook Deanna roughly, watching closely as her dark eyes fluttered open.
“Deanna, thank God!” he breathed in relief.
Deanna Troi sat up.
“They’re still here, Counsellor, they’re just waiting, but thanks to whatever you did we’re still here too.”
She closed her eyes, but quickly opened them again at one of her last memories before blacking out.
“Where’s Worf? Is he alright?”
“It’s alright, Counsellor, he’s in Sickbay.” Assured Picard.
“But is he alright?” she asked again.
“Yes, he’s fine.”
Picard looked at her hand and noticed she was holding a small metallic cube.
“What is that, Counsellor?”
She looked at it in confusion. It’s silver, metallic surfaces reflected many colours when hit with the lights of the Bridge.
“I don’t know, sir. It was almost as if someone or something told me to take it.”
“It must be a new feature, I don’t recall seeing it on the Borg before.” Commented Riker.
“I’ll let Data have a look at it.” Answered Troi, standing up and walking towards the turbolift.
She turned to look at her captain.
“After you’ve gone to Sickbay.”
“But, sir, I feel fine…” she protested.
“Sickbay, Counsellor, then Data.”
After being given the all clear by Beverley, and checking in on Worf, who was well on the way to recovery, Deanna Troi entered Engineering and handed Data the small cube, asking him to run some tests on it for her. Data immediately attached the cube to one of the panels and began various tests that meant absolutely nothing to Deanna, though Data did his best to try to explain, in detail, what each one was for. The Chief Engineer, Geordie LaForge, joined the Android and small Betazoid Counsellor.
“Maybe we should discover if it has received and or transmitted any messages?” suggested Troi.
“An excellent idea, Counsellor.” Commented Data, as he tapped a few buttons on his computer panel.
Information scrolled down the screen, part of it caught Deanna’s attention.
“Data, stop, go back.”
The Android did as the small Counsellor had instructed.
“Can you get the trace signature of the life form from our earlier scans beside this signature?” she asked indicating to the rows of numbers and wavelengths on the screen in front of them.
The two pieces of information slid side by side on the screen.
“This has been transmitting to the life form!”
“Agreed, Counsellor, you would appear to be correct.”
Geordie noticed that the Counsellor had a certain gleam in her eye.
“What are you thinking, Deanna?” he asked, suspiciously.
“If we destroyed this object the others might react similarly and the life form might be freed from the Borg’s control.”
“Counsellor, what, may I ask, has lead you to that conclusion?” asked Data.
“When I took this one from the Borg that shocked me, all the other Borgs on the Bridge seemed to react too and then transported themselves back to the cubes.”
“Why don’t we see what Captain Picard and Commander Riker think?” Suggested Geordie.
With a nod, Deanna reached for the small cube and tried to dislodge it from its slot, but it stuck fast.
“That’s strange.” She said, frowning slightly.
Data attempted to pull the small cube out, but the cube reacted by sending out a jolt of electricity through the gold-skinned Android. He fell to the floor with a loud ‘thud’.
“Data!” screamed Troi, as she watched him fall.
She and Geordie knelt down beside him. He stared, blankly and unseeing, at the ceiling. Geordie began to scan Data with a tricorder. The tricorder’s scan caused another electric bolt to jump from Data to the tricorder and then into Geordie’s Ocular Implants. The dark-skinned Engineer screamed in pain as he fell to the floor in a dead faint.
Troi tapped her commbadge,
“Troi to Sickbay, medical emergency in Engineering!”
She turned to face the worried faces of the Engineering crew, as she checked over the engineer’s vital signs, they were steady.
“No-one touch any electrical equipment.” She commanded as she stood up.
She turned to look at the source of the problems -the small cube, still stuck in the computer panel. More electrical sparks flew from the object into the computers around it. Troi watched helpless as the sparks made it’s way in a parallel path the whole way down the length of Engineering on both sides. Computer panels blew up all around them. As the crew rushed around, trying to put the fires out, the alarm began to ring out.
‘Warning, warp core breach in ten minutes and counting.’ Came the feminine tones of the computer’s automotive voice, as the electric currents surrounded the entire length of the warp core.
“All right, everybody out now!” ordered Troi, as the panels continued to blow up around them. “Come on, out now!”
The entire ship shuddered suddenly. Troi’s commbadge chimed.
“Counsellor, what the devil is going on?” came Picard’s voice; “Did I hear the computer rightly?”
“Yes, Captain, I’m sorry there’s no time to explain, but be prepared for a warp core breach in ten minutes. I’ve evacuated everyone from Engineering and would suggest that you give the order for the entire crew to make their way to the escape pods, sir.”
“Very well, Counsellor.”
“Sir, could you tell the medical team to wait at the pods?”
“I will do, Counsellor, I’m sending Will to help you with the evacuation.”
As Engineering began to fill with a large white cloud of smoke, Troi grabbed LaForge under his arms and began to drag him out.
“Need some help?” came Will’s voice from behind her.
“Get Data, Will and be careful, I don’t want to have to drag you out as well.”
“Yes, ma’am!” he said, saluting.
Troi smiled as Riker walked passed her and she continued to drag the unconscious man out of Engineering and into the corridor where two other officers took Geordie to the escape pods. Data was also pulled out seconds later by Riker and then taken by two more officers. Riker watched as Deanna walked straight back into Engineering, he knew that she was up to something and followed her in. The smoke stung his eyes and made it difficult to breathe. The falling debris and exploding computer panels simply added to the whole setting of destruction. Troi stood standing by the small Borg object.
“So what are we going to do?” he asked.
“We?” she asked turning to face him. “I don’t know what we’re going to do, but you are going straight to an escape pod.”
“What about you?” he said, taking her slim shoulders in his hands.
“I’ve got an idea, but if it goes wrong, I won’t have much time to realise it.”
“Now hang on a second, Deanna! You can’t expect me to just abandon you!”
“Yes I can and do.”
She turned her back on him and moved from his grasp.
“When you leave make sure the captain goes he’s hanging about the last escape pod waiting for us.”
She turned to face him.
“Don’t try to stop me, Will. You once told me that your duty was to your ship and crew. I’m a Starfleet officer too, Will, and the same goes for me.”
Will could find no argument to that, because there were none.
“At least tell me what you’re planning to do.”
She sighed, reluctant to answer.
“I’m going to rejoin the Collective and see if I can stop whatever this object is doing.”
She walked forward, placing the tips of two of her fingers over his lips to silence him.
“Go.” She said.
He turned to leave.
He turned back at the sound of her voice and that word.
“I’ve always loved you.”
He walked forward, took her in his arms and kissed her, knowing that this could very well be the last time he ever saw her.
They released each other; both of them had tears in their eyes, but were they from the smoke or the raging emotions they both felt?
“Tell the captain that it’s been a pleasure serving with him.”
“You can tell him yourself when we get back.” He smiled, as he turned and walked, reluctantly, from Engineering.
As he and Picard climbed into the escape pod, Riker was sure he heard her mind whisper to his. The word she spoke filled him with dread, as it was one that they had promised each other, they would never say. The word was ‘Goodbye’.
Deanna listen to the sound of the escape pods disconnecting from the ship’s hull. She took a deep breath and wiped the moisture from her eyes, before turning to face the object, still ‘spitting’ electrical sparks into the surrounding computer panels.
“Alright you bastards, I’m coming back! Computer, time till core breach?”
“Three….” The computer’s voice faded and then there was silence.
Still the silence greeted her. The lights flickered and then for a few seconds she was surrounded by darkness. The red tinted emergency lights cast an eerie glow across Engineering when they finally flickered on. Deanna Troi took a deep breath, walked forward and placed her hand on the object. The pain that shot through her almost made her let go, but she resisted that urge knowing that not only was her individuality at stake, but that the lives of her crew were in danger if she failed. How much more damage could the Borg do if they had an active telepath and empath working for them, it had been devastating enough for Starfleet when they had Picard in their grasp. She opened her senses and allowed the Borg consciousness to take over her mind. Some of her mind, however, she kept guarded so that she could carry out her plan of attack. She lost all sense of her body and the area around her and became immersed in a sea of millions of identical beings.
The crew had taken the escape pods a safe distance from where the Enterprise
and ten Borg cubes hung in space. They all felt helpless; there was nothing any
of them could do, but wait. Will Riker sat with Jean-Luc Picard, watching his
captain intensely. Picard had his eyes closed and was oblivious to anything
going on around him. Suddenly he gasped.
Picard’s blue eyes snapped open.
“I’m alright. Deanna’s just contacted me. She and her mind have been joined to
“I know, sir.
“She called to you?”
“No, sir, she told me in Engineering.”
Picard nodded slightly.
“What did she say, sir?”
“I don’t know, Will, they took her from us before she could say anything.”
Picard’s eyes reflected the feelings of sadness that the tall First Officer felt.
“Crusher to Picard.” Came Beverley’s voice across the intercom in the pod.
“Picard here, what can I do for you Beverley?”
“Just thought you’d like to know that both Data and Geordie have regained
consciousness. Data’s fine and Geordie is being treated for minor burns. There
were no other injuries.”
“Excellent job, Bev….” He trailed off as an intense pain shot through his mind.
“I’ll call you back, Beverley.” Riker assured the doctor, as he cut the link.
“Captain, what is it?”
“I don’t know. Something’s wrong, but I don’t know if it’s something wrong
with Deanna or the Borg now that they’re all connected.”
“Crusher to Riker. You might want to take a look at the Borg cubes right now!”
The two men looked out into the scene before them and both broke out into
smiles. Electrical discharges surrounded every one of the Borg cubes, causing
them to self-destruct. One by one the cubes exploded in brilliant flashes of
white light and showers of debris.
“Now we just need Deanna’s call to bring us home.” Commented Picard.
“That’s even if she survived…” answered Will.
Gradually she began to become aware of the sensation of sweat trickling down
her back, of her lower body touching the floor and of the sharp burning pain
in the palm of her left hand.
She opened her eyes and found herself lying on the floor in the mists of a
scene of mass destruction. The computer panels now smouldered and the
entire expanse of Engineering was charcoal black. Parts of the ceiling still fell
with loud bangs and crashes to the floor.
She looked to the computer panel, as she got to her feet. The entire panel had been short-circuited and was completely burnt to the point of it not being recognised as anything, but a large piece of smouldering metal. Still sitting in its place was the Borg cube, which still shone slightly in the parts that hadn’t been burnt. Deanna reached for it and noticed that the entire palm of her left hand was burnt.
“Damn it!” She swore, reaching for the cube with her right hand, it came away from the burnt computer panel with ease.
Before making her way to the turbolift she wrapped her burnt hand in a make-shift bandage. She entered the turbolift and gave her destination as the Bridge.
On the viewscreen was the last Borg cube exploding as Deanna Troi entered the deserted Bridge of the Enterprise.
At first there was only static as a response, but moments later the calm feminine voice of the ship’s computer filled Troi’s ears.
“Lock onto all the escape pods and engage the tractor beams.”
“It’s time to bring them home.” She added quietly to herself as she eased her aching, tired and weak body into the command chair and tapped her commbadge.
“Enterprise to Picard.”
“Enterprise to Picard.”
Picard and Riker looked at one another half in disbelief and half in amazement.
“I’ve initiated the tractor beams all the escape pods should be back where they belong within five minutes. As you can see your ship’s still here, sir.”
“And my ship’s Counsellor? Do I still have one?”
“Just about, sir.”
The two men could hear the smile in her voice, which was followed by a fit of coughing.
“Take it easy, Counsellor, just relax. We’ll be with you soon.”
“Don’t worry, Captain, you’re chair is far too comfy for me not to relax.”
The smile returned to her voice, as they did on Picard and Riker’s faces.
As soon as Picard and his senior staff had set foot on the decks of the Enterprise they rushed to the Main Bridge. The door to the turbolift hissed open to reveal the expanse of an empty Bridge, the only sound was the hum of the engines and the odd beeping of the computer consoles around the Bridge. There in the middle of the Bridge was the Command chair where Deanna sat. She turned to face them, standing unsteadily with a smile spread across her face. As Data, Worf and a few other officers took their positions on the Bridge, Deanna literally ran to Picard, Riker and Crusher, but her tired, wakened legs gave way from under her and she fell into Will’s waiting arms. He lifted her back to her feet, hooked her chin with his finger and kissed her, lightly at first, but when she didn’t say no, he deepened it.
A smile spread across Beverley’s face at this show of obvious affection between her two friends. She’d heard one or two rumours during her travels on the lower decks, but so far she had dismissed them as simple gossip.
When Will and Deanna parted they shared a quick self-conscious smile. Deanna turned to face Picard, who nodded at her,
“How are you feeling, Counsellor?”
“Fine, sir, a little tired, but other than that I’m alright.”
Picard smiled at her and patted her on the arm. From behind her Will tried to take her hand in her own. She had, up until then, forgotten about her burnt hand, but when Riker’s hand clasped around it, she screamed in pain. Will, Picard and Crusher jumped back in surprise.
“Deanna?” came Will’s voice, as he watched Deanna clasping her hand to her chest.
“Sorry.” She breathed.
“Let me take a look at that.” Demanded Beverley, tricorder in hand.
The small Betazoid nodded and extended her arm, her makeshift bandage was stained red with blood. Will helped by undoing the bandage while Beverley scanned the burn with her tricorder.
“It’s not as bad as it looks.” The blonde haired woman assured.
“Come on, we’ll get you down to Sickbay and get this sorted.”
Crusher and Troi walked into the turbolift, but when Riker tried to go as well, Picard called him back.
“Number One, I need you here, please.”
With a quick glance at the doors hissing shut, he nodded,
Deanna stared at her hand and pulled it into a fist then let it go. It was no longer the horrid charcoal black, but it’s usual olive complexion. She avoided the stare of her best friend.
“So, what, Beverley?” Deanna said, finally looking at the human woman who sat across the desk from her.
“You know…what’s going on between you and Will?”
“I don’t call what I saw on the Bridge nothing!”
The small Betazoid blushed and shrugged her slim shoulders.
“You do know there’s been rumours about you two flying around the lower decks for the past day or so, don’t you?”
Deanna nodded slightly, but before she could answer her commbadge chimed.
“Counsellor, sorry to disturb you, but long range sensors have detected the life-form on an intercept course with us. I thought you may want to be on the Bridge when it get gets here.”
“Thank you, captain. I shall be there shortly. Troi out.” She looked up at her friend; “I have to go.”
“Alright, but we’ll talk later, okay?”
The dark haired woman nodded as she stood up from the desk and exited the office.
“On screen.” Commanded Picard, as he, Riker and Troi stood up from their seats in anticipation.
The starry expanse of space filled the viewscreen in front if them, but growing in size by the second was the large mass of simmering energy.
“Counsellor, is it still under the Borg’s control?”
“No, sir, I don’t believe it is.”
“Alright. Worf, go to yellow alert, just in case.”
“Aye, sir.” Answered the burly Klingon.
The large mass once again covered the ‘Enterprise’ and entered the Bridge. Instead of conversing with Troi, as it had the second time, it formed it’s own body, or at least the glowing silhouette of a humanoid figure.
Picard stepped forward slightly.
“I am Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation starship ‘Enterprise’.”
“I am Terras, Head Scientist of the Venian people. Please accept my thanks on behalf of my people. You have saved us from further slavery under those Beings’ control.”
“I am honoured that you feel that way, Terras, however I can not take credit for this rescue, that must go to my Ship’s Counsellor, Deanna Troi.” Picard indicated to Troi. “She risked her life to save your people and us.”
Troi blushed at such high praise from her captain and the attention.
“We are forever in your debt, Deanna.”
Terras looked away for a moment then back at the Enterprise crew.
“My people are reminding me to mention something. Our telepathic abilities are sensitive to changes in the timeline, now that we are free from the Beings; we are becoming more and more aware that the timeline was changed dramatically. We believe that neither our encounter a century ago, nor your recent encounter with the Beings should have happened. We are sorry that we cannot alter the timeline once more to fix this, but we will not tamper with time, even though we have the ability.”
“We understand, Terras.”
“Once again, our thanks goes to you all and to you Deanna.” He said with a bow, before reverting to a ball of light and disappearing back to the life form, which seemed to disperse at a great rate.
“You cannot escape us, we will always be a part of you, nothing can change that. You and I will always be joined!”
Deanna Troi lurched up from her bed, only just stopping herself from screaming at the sound of both the Borg and the Borg Queen’s voices in her mind. She wasn’t sure if it was simply a dream or telepathic communication, but either way it made her feel ill. The sheer memory of her experiences inside the mind of the Borg Collective made her sweat with fear at being lost beneath the millions of lost minds and the screams of those who still retained some individuality that craved release.
“The voices won’t leave you know.”
Deanna turned her head to see Q sitting in the corner of her sleeping quarters.
“What do you want, Q?” she asked, clutching her covers closer around her.
“I just came to see how you were holding up. Frankly I was surprised you actually went through with going back into that flood of noise they call perfection!”
“You had no right to change any of this!” she retorted angrily.
“That’s where you’re wrong. I have every right, because there are no restrictions for me.”
“So what was your reason for interfering with time, this time?”
“What?!” she asked in disbelief.
“Boredom.” He repeated calmly.
“What I went through… all because you were bored!?”
She shook her head to clear the confusion that racketed through her mind.
“Leave, Q, just get out!”
The tall human-looking alien shrugged his shoulders and then disappeared in a flash of light.
Her anger still remained, so she decided to try to sleep it off. Her last conscious thought was;
‘If he caused all of this, was what happened between Will and I down to him too?’
From outside the ship, Q watched her sleep and after hearing her thought, he smiled one last devilish grin and then disappeared, leaving the Enterprise and it’s crew to ‘sail’ through the starry expanse.