All rights to Star Trek characters belong to Paramount Pictures (this story takes place a few months after Insurrection)
Riker stormed the holographic jungle, a small makeshift army of men at his back. Ahead, through the steaming vines, lay a camp of Rylian warriors, half-humanoid, half-snake. One of them rose on two sturdy legs, and wound its torso around a tree, hissing at Will. It’s snake-like head was large, fully five times the size of the Commanders, and it’s lashing tongue was covered in barbed scales.
“Come on you nasty bastard. Come and get me.”
It hissed again, unwrapping its body from the tree and lunging hard. It flew through the air and hovered over Riker. With moments to spare, he swung his batleth, swiftly severing the being’s head from it body. It screamed once, then fell and died. Instantly more were on him, flying out of their hiding places and dancing in a pattern toward Will.
Instinctively, he parried, dodged and tossed two of them to their deaths over the rumbling waterfall behind him. Two more surrounded him in a lethal embrace and he knelt, swinging the blade up in a perfect arc, severing the twin stomachs above him.
Loud cries of defeat sounded through the holodeck, and Will called, “End program”. He was completely exhausted. He sat on the grid-like floor and towelled off his bare face as he allowed his heartbeat to slow. This new program was fantastic, one he could easily spend all day with, but he had to get to the bridge.
“Not so fast, Commander.”
The voice came from the arch behind him and he turned to find a petite, dark-haired woman standing there. Deanna. Only, he’d never seen Deanna dressed like this. She walked toward him, hips moving in a slightly seductive manner, and he admired the dark blue outfit she was wearing. The long-sleeved, black suit clung to her, like a second skin. Like snakeskin. Iridescent sparks of light glittered on the fabric and danced in the tumbling black curls of her hair.
Curls? But she'd been straightening her hair recently. The hairstyle wasn’t the only unusual thing he noticed. Deanna Troi was wearing a gold choker, it’s dangling symbol resting in the v-neck of the suit, and his eyes couldn't help veering towards her cleavage. Her makeup was not the subtle shading that she usually wore. Instead, dark fire-red lipstick covered her lips and an exotic slash of kohl eyeliner surrounded her onyx eyes. There was an amused look in those Betazoid eyes, a knowing look. It was very attractive.
She walked closer, saying nothing, her only response was to stare into the icy depths of his eyes and curl her lips into a grin. ”Hello, Commander. I thought I might find you here. I’d like to give you something.”
Curious, he smiled. “And just what would that be?” Hell, if this was some erotic couples game, he was all for it.
“This...” she touched his face, cupping it in her hands and then with deliberate slowness, brought her mouth down on his own. The kiss caught fire, arousing him instantly. He grabbed her, not quite roughly, but not gently either, pulling her body against his own. He ran his large, capable hands down the slim length of her body, caressing the curves along the way.
“I want you,” he murmured against her neck. Deanna nodded, and whispered his name as he trailed kisses down her neck. He couldn't place the scent she was wearing , but it was intoxicating. A blend of fruity musk and something he couldn’t put his finger on.
Something...yes, it smelled like the Jalara Jungle-hot, sweet and inviting. Just like his Imzadi. Pulling her down to the floor, he called out, “Computer, run program Riker Alpha 217B.”
Soon the hard floor of the holodeck was replaced by a carpeted one. The scene became a romantic Raisian hotel, complete with a king-sized bed. Drapes of rose damask matched the carpet, and flickering candles gave off gentle light around the bed. He lifted Deanna in his arms and lay her on the cream-colored covers, her body soft and light in his grasp.
She looked up at him, cat-like in her expression, and he knew that he’d never seen her look more beautiful. “Make love to me, Will.”
He didn’t need to be asked twice. Seeing this side of Deanna was better than any Raisian love-worker, it was real. She was his, every part of her, and he was going to enjoy every minute of this. They kissed again, and then she rose off of the bed. He’d never seen her like this, but was more than happy to get used to these kind of delicious distractions.
As her clothes hit the floor, he sucked in his breath, holding onto sanity by a thread. Beneath her out fit she wore only a wisps of cleverly designed black underwear, which soon followed the rest of her clothing into a pool of cloth on the carpet. As she turned to face him, he pulled her onto the bed, rising to cover her with his body.
They made love like strangers, powerfully attracted to each other as if they’d only just met that evening in some sordid Terran cocktail bar. It was edgy and enticing, wild in the extreme, and when they breathlessly finished, Will murmured her name over and over. Her own sounds told him that she’d joined him, and he pulled her close, kissing her sweet, soft cheek.
“What did I do to deserve that, Counselor?”
The knowing grin crossed her face again, and she lifted herself onto one elbow to stare at him. “Oh, I’ve been wanting to do that for some time, Commander.”
”Have you really? Well, you certainly surprised me tonight. Now I’ll have to think of something to plan for you. It’s payback time.”
She nodded, looking as serene as the mythical sphinx. “Yes, Commander, I believe it is.”
Suddenly, the door to the holodeck opened, and Will swiftly covered himself and his bedmate. Who in the hell had the nerve to come walking in here? He wondered.
A soft voice called to him. “Will? Will are you here?”
Deanna?? A uniformed figure walked toward him, and he froze in confusion. Her long, straight hair covered her shoulders and a smile played upon her lips. “Will, I...”
And then she saw the figure resting on the bed. It was a woman. “Oh Gods.”
”Oh Gods indeed, Deanna. You know, I always wanted to meet you, but I never imagined it would be tonight.” The woman was an exact replica of her. The only visible difference was the hairstyle.
Deanna began to shake and Will paled visibly. He looked at the woman lying next to him and asked, “Who the hell ARE you?”
She snickered. “Why, I am Deanna Troi. Who else would I be?”
”You’ve got a lot of explaining to do, whoever you are.”
Deanna paled and watched her Doppelganger, fascinated despite herself. “Yes, why don’t you tell us who you are?” And why you’ve seduced my Imzadi. Jealous anger seared her heart, but she realized that Will had thought this woman was her. He had to have.
”Like I’ve already said, I am Deanna Troi. In an alternate universe.”
Understanding lit Will’s face. “The mirror universe. Yes, I believe Captain Sisko had some run-ins with you people.”
”Yes, and he had a fondness for our Major Kira-what a shame she couldn’t convince him to stay with her on our side. Well, perhaps things will work out differently for you and I, Commander.”
He couldn’t hide his confusion. He had wanted this woman, he’d cheated on Deanna for the second time in a lifetime-only this time with her own double. His head was reeling, and he noticed the real Deanna was close to losing her temper.
“I suggest,” she said bitterly, “that you get the hell off our ship.”
”Temper, temper, Troi. You‹re only angry because I’ve had a wonderful evening of pleasure with your man. Well, if it’s any consolation at all, in my universe, he was much better. At many things.”
Will nearly slapped her, but she was off the bed and dressing quickly. “It’s been a blast, darlings. Now, don’t be disappointed, but I have to go. There are things I have to attend to. But, thank-you for a lovely evening, Commander.”
He bit back a reply, reaching for his uniform, preparing call for an intruder alert. Before he could find his badge, the other Troi touched the golden circle about her neck. “One to beam up.” Dissolving in a pattern of light, she blew him a final kiss, and left him.
The look on Deanna‹s face said it all-it was going to take a lot of explaining to get out of this one. But how the hell would he begin? They hadn’t spoken for days. Will’s guilt ate at him, tearing at his stomach with icy pain. Deanna wasn’t happy about the situation, but she was trying to put it behind her. She knew that he hadn’t known-he’d assumed that he was making love to her.
Although that was completely true, Will couldn’t shake the guilt. And he could never tell her why. In the dark privacy of his quarters late at night, he couldn’t get the other Deanna Troi out of his mind. It made no sense; physically she was no different than the woman he loved, except for trivialities like hair and make-up. “And her choice of underwear,” his traitorous mind supplied for him.
But it wasn’t just the trappings of eroticism, although they had been enjoyable. Something clearly sinister had lit his lover’s eyes, and he felt drawn towards it. Like a proverbial moth to flame. The old Will Riker, the young cad who’d once seduced two women in the same evening, was threatening to return. No, he couldn’t afford to let that happen. He and Deanna had waited a lifetime to be together again. He wouldn’t throw that away for some inexplicable attraction to another woman.
He punched the pillow, tried to go to sleep, but it was a washout. Doomed to remain awake, he padded to the replicator and requested a drink. Hot, dark Saurian brandy. That would help him get back to sleep.
“I can think of much more interesting ways to help you become tired, Commander.”
He spun, nearly dropping the mug, and found the very woman he’d been trying so hard to get out of his mind. Forcing himself to think rationally, he carefully sipped from the mug, biding his time. “Well, well, well. If it isn’t Deanna’s evil twin.”
She laughed, and moved to the replicator. “Terallian wine-sweet.” It appeared, and she carefully sipped the golden liquid. “Evil? Is that what you really think of me, Commander? And after all we’ve shared.”
Anger and embarrassment coursed through him, remembering that night. “What do you want with me? Why did you come here?”
”A girl has to keep some secrets, doesn’t she? But, then again, I’ve never been very good at playing coy and innocent. Not like your own Deanna. No, I’ll tell you what you want to know-for a price.”
”And what would that be? A bar of gold-pressed latinum?”
”It would take more than that, Commander Riker. No, I was thinking of something more like this...” For the second time that week, the attractive stranger sidled up to him, bent on seduction. She slipped a quick kiss on his cheek, then worked towards his mouth.
”That’s more like it. Now that you’ve indulged me, I’ll tell you what I can. I want you to come back to my universe with me, Commander Riker. I could use you over there. From what I’ve seen in my covert operations, you’ve got the talent, the drive and the love of killing that could serve me well. Come and be my consort, Will. I could use a new second-in-command.”
”My love of killing? Where did you get that idea?”
”Oh, come on now, I’ve seen you kill those holodeck beasts, Commander. Don’t pretend it doesn’t make you feel alive. That it doesn’t make your heart race with the thrill of the hunt. You were born to be a fighter-or perhaps a Klingon. You’re being wasted on this starship.”
”That’s my choice, isn’t it? I’m happy where I am, thank-you very much. Now, if you'll excuse me, I’d like to go back to bed.” He deliberately ignored her and crawled beneath the covers.
“Is that an invitation, Commander?”
”I thought I didn’t quite measure up to your Riker. Isn’t that what you said?”
She thought a moment, and then smiled. “You do have one thing going for you that our Riker no longer has..”
”And what would that be?”
Before he could respond, she grabbed his arm and touched the necklace around her throat. “Two to beam up”, she called, and the pair dissolved together in a swirling dance of light.
Mirror, Mirror Part 2 3/28/99 Tracy 126 Paramount owns all rights to Star Trek and it’s characters.
The cell was dark, only a small shaft of light pierced the room from behind the sliding gray doors. Groaning, he rolled to a seated position and checked himself for injuries. There were none, but his comm badge was gone, as was his clothing. Naked, he yanked a worn blanket off the floor and covered himself with it. How long have I been gone? God, Deanna...she’s got to be going crazy right now.
Looking about the small room, he tried to find a means of escape. The bars were sturdy, solid iron running floor to ceiling surrounding the 8x10 enclosure. The floor was clean, and there was a small chemical toilet in the corner. Great, all the comforts of home. What he didn’t see was a means of opening the damned thing. His hands slid along the old-fashioned bars, wondering if a simple trick would open them. Then, as he crept closer to the small opening, a shock tore up his arm. A force-field. Man, they didn’t make it easy, did they?
A door in the far wall slid smoothly open then, revealing his captor. She sauntered over, lithe as a jungle-cat, and he ordered himself not to respond to her. But he momentarily appreciated today’s outfit. It was a dark red dress, slit on the thigh, plunging at the neckline. The golden disk she wore winked in the light, and her hair was piled in lady-like ringlets. She was beautiful. And deadly.
“Yes, Commander, I’d say thats a fair assessment you’ve just made of me. I’m glad you’ve got your eyes open. We wouldn't want you to think that I was your Imzadi, would we?”
”You could never be like Deanna; she’s far more sweet and gentle. You’re more like a snake-beautiful but dangerous.”
”You didn’t seem to mind that the other evening. As you’ve by now guessed, I can read your thoughts, up to a point, so don’t attempt to hide anything from me. Unlike your poor little empath, I am a full-telepath. And I have to tell you, those are some very naughty thoughts you’ve been having about me lately.”
Flushing with anger, he yanked on the bars, only to be shocked again by the invisible forcefield. “Let me out of here, you bitch.” ”I’m shocked, Riker. Do you often talk to Deanna that way?”
”Never. Only to women like you.”
”Women like me? Hmmm.. you mean women that you desire, that you burn for? Don’t hide it, Riker, it’s useless with me.”
At that moment he hated himself. Because she was right. His desire for her burned like a fever in his veins, and it was everything he could do to stop the thoughts he was entertaining.
“Don’t try to stop them, Imzadi. Just feel them.”
It was like a splash of cold water when she used that name. ”Don’t you ever call me that. Only one woman has the right to call me that. Deanna.”
”Temper, temper, lover. I just wanted to get your attention. Now that I have it, I will explain to you your situation. My Riker died two months ago-killed in a death camp on Dukat.”
”Wait a minute, Dukat? Gul Dukat? You mean to tell me that bastard has a planet named after him?”
”Of course. He died in a glorious battle, one of our treasured heroes. After that, we renamed our world in his honor.”
”Some hero. In my universe he’s a cold-blooded murderer; but I suppose that’s an advantage over here.”
”Undoubtedly. Now, let me get on with my story. Riker was my mate; we shared a lust for power, for violence, and for each other. We were victorious in battle with the humans, preparing to take over their ships and technology for our own. It was a grand time, but before it could be realized, Riker got killed by a stray phaser blast. It was meant for me-an abortive assassination attempt.”
”What does any of that have to do with me?”
”Now we’re getting to the good part, Commander. Just be patient. You see, I wanted an heir-someone to rule in my place when I die. We don’t live long over here, Riker. I could get killed tomorrow, but I won’t. That’s the beauty of being a telepath-I can sense when danger is coming and avoid it. Unlike my second-in-command. Still, I need an heir, and I want my child to be Riker’s. You‹re the next best thing.”
The horror dawned on him as he studied her face. He could’ve made her pregnant the other night.
“Yes, you could have. It won’t be long until I find out-weeks at the most. Until then, you will stay here with me. I need a good second and I believe you’ll do a good job.”
”Like hell I will. I’ve got my own life waiting for me back aboard the Enterprise-did you think I’d agree to this? To leave my universe behind?”
She grew angry, dark eye flashing, and the look on her face could’ve shredded glass. “I don’t give a damn what you agree to, Commander. You haven’t got a choice. You’re not going anywhere.”
Trying to stay rational, to stay calm, he said, “What do you plan on doing with me once you find out if you’re pregnant? Are you going to kill me after you get what you came for?”
”We’ll see. If you serve me well, then I’ll allow you to live and keep you as my second-in-command. If there is a child, we’ll raise him together. He need not ever know that you’re from the other dimension. It will be our little secret.”
God, this woman was insane! “What if there isn’t a child? Have you got a back-up plan?”
”If there isn’t, you will be seeing much more of me. And if you refuse, I’ll take your DNA while you’re sleeping. It’s been done before, and works just as well as the old-fashioned method. Not nearly as enjoyable though.”
”You’re a monster. Look, I’m not completely alone, Deanna and I are bonded, she can sense me. She’ll find out where I am and convince the Captain to search for me. Do you want the best ship in the fleet bursting in on your little kingdom?”
”Idle threats, Riker. Captain Picard hasn’t a clue about finding us. It could be days, weeks or maybe never. By then, I’ll have you eating out of my hand.”
Deanna’s twin slapped the necklace and called out a series of numbers. The force-field vanished, and the bars slid smoothly up into the ceiling. She entered the small chamber, and as she did so, the bars and then the field fell back into place. Hovering over him, she smiled, looking briefly like his own Deanna. His heart thudded, missing her, wishing he could get the hell out of here and back to her.
Then, the woman in the cell with him knelt beside him and took the clips out of her hair. It fell to glory around her shoulders. With deliberate slowness, she slid out of her dress. Will’s sucked in a breath involuntarily, and as the honeyed lips of his captor covered his own, he realized he was drowning. The feelings drew him in like a spider-web, covered his thoughts like a spell.
Maybe it was a spell, maybe this damnable woman was a witch and had wrested control of his body from him completely. Whatever it was, he couldn’t help himself. He was powerless to resist. As his clothes fell from his body, he sighed and gave himself up to the pleasure that she was creating for him.
Deanna lay awake in her quarters, unable to get it out of her mind. Will, in bed with that woman, her own double. It didn’t matter what the stranger looked like her, that he couldn’t possibly have known the difference. All that mattered to her battered heart was that he'd made love to someone else.
After his youthful indiscretion with Wendy Roper, she thought nothing could ever hurt that badly again. She was wrong. Now that they’d finally found one another again, this happened. Uncontrollable imaginings filled her mind. What was she like? Did Will enjoy being with her? What if he fancied himself in love with her?
“Stop it!” she scolded herself. Dressing in a long, gray tunic, she slid into her slippers and padded down to his quarters. Things certainly weren’t going away by ignoring them; it was time they had a talk. She touched the door chime, but he didn’t respond. Perhaps he was still sleeping. Moments went by and she touched it again. Slapping her comm badge she called his name.
There was no answer. Frustrated, she called for the computer. “Computer, locate Commander Riker.”
”Commander Riker is not aboard the Enterprise.”
A shiver flew down her spine. He was gone. Her first jealous thought was that he’d gone in search of his new lover, but she quickly quelled that thought. No, if he was gone, if he was with her, it wouldn’t be of his own free will. It was probably more sinister than that. If she recalled events correctly, those beings, those mirror counterparts, had rather advanced technology. If her rival wanted to snatch Will from the Enterprise in the middle of the night, Deanna had no doubt she could do just that.
How on Earth was she going to find him? Perhaps the Captain would know more about this alternate universe. She had to tell him about Will’s disappearance anyway, what better time than the present? Shuffling her slippered feet down the corridor, the headed for the Captain’s quarters.
She gently touched the chime, hating to wake him, but to her surprise his voice called out to her immediately. “Come.”
The Captain was fully dressed, lounging on the sofa amid a pile of Terran literature and a steaming pot of tea. “Counselor, what brings you here so early?” he asked, motioning for her to take a seat beside him.
Deanna tried to get her thoughts in order, to control her emotions before telling Jean-Luc about Will. No doubt he'd want an explanation, and she wasn’t looking forward to going into the story of her double’s appearance. Forcing back the memory, she plunged on. ”It’s about the Commander, sir. He’s missing.”
”Missing? What do you mean? What has happened?”
”I believe he may have been abducted, Captain.”
Picard’s eyebrows climbed. “Abducted? By whom?”
She swallowed, resenting the woman who'd seduced and captured her beloved Imzadi. “You’re not going to believe this. It was me, that is, my counterpart. She claimed to be from another universe.”
”I see. I seem to remember Ben Sisko visiting this mirror universe himself a few years ago. Please go on.”
“I went looking for the Commander a few nights ago, and found he was using the holodeck. I knew his entry codes, so I went on in and then I found him...with her.”
“With your double?”
”Yes. They were...involved.”
”I can imagine your discomfort, Counselor. What did this woman want?”
”Exactly what she got, sir. She wanted Will, and not just physically. I believe she kidnapped him sometime this evening and took him to her own universe.”
Picard thought a moment. “Are you aware of any knowledge that would enable us to find this universe, Counselor?”
She shook her head. “No, but I believe that Captain Sisko could be invaluable in leading us there. Perhaps we could contact him, or at least review his log entries and see if we can determine their location.”
”That will be my first duty this morning, Counselor. Why don’t we divide the work? I’ll contact Benjamin, and you can search the computer for his log entries. Will that be satisfactory?”
”Yes, sir. I have no patients scheduled until this afternoon, which will give me plenty of time.”
”Then let’s plan to meet in my ready room at 1700 hours, shall we? Perhaps by then we’ll be able to formulate a plan. I don’t appreciate my First Officer being taken off my ship under my nose.”
”Nor do I, Captain.”
Picard, although no empath, could sense Deanna‹s pain. She’d been deeply hurt by this intruder and by Will Riker as well. Their romance had only just begun again and he hoped that they’d be able to put this incident behind them someday. ”If that’s all, Counselor, I believe I’d like to catch one or two hours of sleep before my shift begins.”
”Of course. Thanks for seeing me so early sir.”
”Oh, and Deanna...don’t worry about Commander Riker. I know how much you care for him. We’ll have him back aboard this ship-you can depend on it. "
”I appreciate that, sir. See you later this afternoon.” She was grateful for Jean-Luc’s support, but as she left his quarters one thought kept flooding her mind. What if Will didn’t want to come back?
Mirror, Mirror-part 3 4-1-99 Tracy126 (Paramount owns all rights to Star Trek and its characters)
Will sat on the far end of a rectangular wooden table, staring at a sumptuous array of foods. Steaming plates held roasted meats, whipped potatoes, crunchy vegetables and hot, buttery rolls. Pots of tea, coffee and Saurian brandy were offered as well, and he chose a hearty glass of the latter. He needed it..
Although he was loathe to eat this woman’s food, he was starving. Not to mention he hadn’t seen a mountain of food like this since his mother’s Christmas dinners, eons ago, and the temptation was overwhelming. Finally, he gave in, diving into the meal, all the while keeping an eye on his beautiful captor.
She ate with relish, her appetite mirroring her passion for other pastimes, and Will wasn’t surprised. Her delicate fingers tore the meat elegantly, and she tasted them one by one after the meat was gone. Even as Will’s mind and heart rebelled at the thought of touching her, he realized that his body was still held captive.
“Penny for your thoughts, Commander Riker.”
“I doubt if you’d be interested.”
“Do you realize that you haven’t once used my name since we’ve arrived?”
He glared at her over a leg of chicken. “It’s bad enough you have the audacity to call yourself Deanna Troi, I’ll be damned if I will.”
“You’ve got to call me something. Perhaps Mistress Troi? That’s what all of my workers call me.”
“I’m not your “worker”. Besides, Mistress sounds like something a dominatrix might call herself.”
Her dark eyes gleamed with interest. “Would you like to be dominated, Will?”
“Hardly. It was just a figure of speech.” He grabbed the flagon of brandy and poured another large glassful, gulping it down in seconds. Then he cleaned his plate, hoping to deter the route this conversation was taking. She was silent for a few moments as well, sipping thoughtfully on her own drink.
Lifting the cup, she suddenly grinned. “Here’s to your reproductive capabilities, Commander.”
“You’ll have to drink alone to that, I’m afraid. I’m not exactly hoping for a child-not with you.”
“Yet you would welcome one with your Imzadi, would you not?”
“I think you know the answer to that.”
She ignored him, wiping her lips on a rose-colored napkin. ”Let’s change the subject, shall we? I think it’s time I filled you in on what your duties will be as my new second-in-command. My protection will be your most important duty-after being my mate, of course. There are a great many people planet-side who would dearly love to remove me from this life. Also, in the event of my absence, you will act on my behalf-the guards and other workers will take orders from you. We will share the power, dear Riker, and the glory. As long as you remain devoted to me. Now, so there aren’t any secrets between us, I’ll tell you something else. Once you and I bond mentally, once we share what you call “Imzadi”, you will never be able to leave me. In our world, when two people bond and one decides to leave, they die instantly. You see, we will be completely dependant upon each other.”
Will sat in shocked silence, trying to think of something to say. Finally, in an effort to glean a bit of information, he controlled his churning emotions and asked a question. “You said planetside. Aren’t we on your planet right now?”
“Actually, we are on my starship-the Obsidian. It’s not nearly as large as your Enterprise, but it suits our purposes.”
“So, you needed a ship to come into range when you beamed aboard the Enterprise.”
“Exactly. You’re a fast-learner, Commander. That will come in handy in the battles to come.”
His mind was racing with questions, but he was sure she wouldn’t be forthcoming. Still, he had nothing to lose. “Alright. So we’re aboard a starship. I assume that since you were able to transport over to our ship, we would also be able to transport over to the Obsidian?”
The idea bounced around his mind, and he wondered if there were any way to get in touch with the Captain, to signal him.
His companion’s eyes grew darker, filling with restrained anger. “You’re still looking for a way home, aren't’ you? I suggest you put that idea out of your head, Commander. In a few weeks we will see if I am with child, and if I am, then you and I will join together in the bond. After that, getting home will be the last thing you want to to. Unless you have a death-wish.”
”Maybe I do. Death might be preferable to spending eternity with someone I don’t love.”
His words hit her like a slap, and she abruptly stood. ”Guards!!” Two hulking Cardassians entered the room. “I’ve spent enough time with our prisoner this evening-take him to his cell. Now.”
“Yes, Mistress.” They dragged him from the room and down the dark corridor. The walls were thick, made of some metal alloy. Doorways were cut neatly into the metal, one every five meters or so. Will counted them as they walked, memorizing his location in case he found a way to contact the Enterprise. Turning right, then left, then right again, they led him down a long staircase and into another short corridor. It was cold on this level, and he felt the subterranean chill lick through his uniform.
Suddenly, a door flew open and he was escorted inside and tossed into his cell. One of the guards stayed behind, standing in front of him. “So what did you do to earn disfavor with the Mistress?”
“It’s a long story.”
“You know, until you appeared, I hadn’t stopped to wonder about my own double in your universe. Tell me about him.”
Will stared at the Cardassian. There was something familiar about him. Yes, he resembled that tailor on DS9-Garak. He told the guard about him and the man frowned. “What sort of job is that for a Cardassian?”
Will shrugged. “He was once a member of the Obsidian Order, but they kicked him out. Now he’s got to earn his living the hard way-working for it.”
“How novel. Well, it’s been nice chatting with you, Commander. Enjoy your stay.”
“Wait. Before you go, I’d like to talk to you.”
“You and I could strike a bargain.”
The guard’s eyes lit up at the word and Will knew he might have a chance. “I’m listening.”
“You obviously want to be on the Mistress’s good side, right? Well, I want to get the hell out of her and back to my ship. Maybe we could help one another.”
”You think by tempting me with talk of deals that I’ll let you out of here? That I’d be disloyal to my Mistress? You have alot to learn about our world, Commander.”
“I suppose I do. In our universe, a Cardassian’s loyalty is easily bought and sold. I’d hoped that you came from the same stock. Apparently, ruthless self-interest is a trait you don’t share with your counterparts.”
That got to him. Garak pulled a small metal chair in front of the cell and took a seat. “You interest me, Riker. I must admit I never understood what the Mistress saw in your predecessor. He was too stuffy for me. But you, you’ve got possibilities.”
“Let me lay my cards on the table. I want to be second-in-command. I’ve worked for the Mistress for over ten years-surely I’ve earned that right. But with you around, reminding her of the man she lost, I’ve got no chance at all. I could kill you, but I can’t be certain she’d have me-not after doing away with her mate. Your idea has merit. We could both get what we wanted. I’ll come back soon, a week at most, and we’ll talk again. Perhaps together we can come up with a plan that suits both of us. Agreed?”
Will smiled for the first time in days. “Agreed.”
”Oh, and Commander? Do be careful with your thoughts around the Mistress. You must learn to cloak them, or she will intuit our plans. Don’t forget.”
Before he could say more, the doors whooshed open, revealing the subject of their conversation. “What are you still doing here, Garak? I thought I told you to work on those reports for me tonight.”
“I was just bringing our prisoner down to size. He’s a bit cocky, you know.”
“I’m aware of that. I’ll see you in the morning."
“Until then, Mistress.”
The man turned, giving a quick wink to Riker before leaving the room. Will nearly grinned. Deanna Troi’s beautiful twin stared at him. The anger in her soft black eyes had softened, turning to wistfulness. It was not an expression he expected to see on that particular face. “You remind me so of my Riker, Commander. Your sarcasm, your ability to state what’s on your mind without regard for the consequences.....yes, I believe that you are more like him than I thought.”
Touching the golden wedge at her cleavage, she murmured a word in Betazoid. The bars flew upward as the force-field disappeared, and she walked in. This time, a gold-lame body-suit clung to her frame, and her glorious hair fell to her waist in tiny curls. She smiled, and for a moment looked so much like Deanna that his heart lurched with longing. “Kiss me, Will.”
He shook his head, crossing his arms in front of him. “I don’t think so, Ms. Troi.”
“You’re playing hard to get, aren’t you? How coy? There’s only one thing I can do.....”
She caressed the golden disk again, and chanted softly in her own language. Will flushed, feeling the stirrings of desire pulse through him. Her mouth covered his, and suddenly he was unable to push her away. His hands seemed to caress her of their own accord, and although his mind shouted to him to stop, his body was making the most of it.
His uniform fell to the floor, as her golden one joined it, and soon they were in an embrace on the hard cell floor. She was warm and soft under his hands, but the voice continued. “Fight it, Riker. Fight it.”
His attention was briefly engaged by the voice, but then they joined, and it disappeared in a haze of wanton desire. Their lovemaking was unimaginably erotic, and when it was finally finished, Will fell back against a large pillow exhausted.
”Was it good for you, Commander?” His lover asked, innocently looking up at him.
“Do you need to ask? You’ve gotten what you came for, just leave me alone.” He felt the force of the guilt flood into his mind, and realized that she’d been stemming his emotions to enable him to complete the act. Then, torturing him with their return once they’d finished. My God, what kind of woman was she?
Scrambling in the darkness for his uniform, he dressed, and sat in the far corner of the cell with his face in his hands. The guilt was unbearable. How could he ever face Deanna now? How could he make a life with her, after what he’d been doing? Not to mention the unbearable possibility that this woman might be, at this very moment, carrying his child?
“Well, Will, I think I might have to revise my opinion of you. At first, you couldn’t compare to my Riker, but you are most definitely improving. In fact, if you’re this good at being my second-in-command, we’ll have a very fruitful partnership.”
“Don’t get your hopes up. I’m looking forward to getting away from here. In case you hadn’t noticed, I am in love with someone else.”
“Funny, you haven’t been acting like a man in love, Commander. In fact.....”
“Look, you’ve been controlling me from the very beginning. If I was left to my own devices, I’d never touch you again. I’d rather mate with a snake.”
“You’d better watch your tone of voice with me, Commander. I don’t care for your present attitude. In fact, I think you might need an adjustment.” She touched the magic disk again, and this time, flames of pain spiked through Will’s head. He fell to the floor in agony, cursing aloud.
“I hope the Enterprise finds us and blows your little ship to smithereens, Mistress.”
Her anger flared, and she slapped him hard across the face. “You’d better hope that it doesn’t find us, Commander, because if it does, you’re little Imzadi will be the first person to pay for your disobedience. With her life.”
His heart tightened painfully in his chest and all he could do was repeat one word over and over in his mind. “Imzadi................”
Mirror, Mirror Part 4 4/3/99 Tracy126 (As always, all rights to ST-TNG characters are owned by Paramount)
In the starry expanse of Ten-Forward’s viewscreen, Deanna tensely waited for news that it was time to leave. Jean-Luc had been successful in contacting Ben Sisko, and was at present reading the information she herself had gleaned from the computer logs. Now all that she could do was wait.
Diving into the silky depths of a hot fudge sundae, she thought of Will and allowed her heart to hope that they’d find him. That he’d be alright. That.....well, alright, she might as well admit it. She hoped and prayed that he hadn’t touched that woman again. Her heart ached at the memory of Will’s naked body under satin sheets with her exotic rival. As she spooned the last delectable drop of ice cream into her mouth, Beverly Crusher walked through the doors.
“Deanna! I haven’t seen you all week! Where have you been hiding yourself?” The doctor took a seat across from her friend, and was concerned to see shadows under the Betazoid’s eyes.
“I’ve been....busy. There’s so much going on what with crew reports and clients who don’t care to take my professional advice...well, I just haven’t had any time at all.”
“I don’t believe you, Counselor. Something’s going on. Jean-Luc told me that Commander Riker is on a secret away mission, and now the both of you have been avoiding me like the plague all week. First you missed the poker game, then our karate appointment, and even Data’s starring role as Hamlet last night. It’s not like you, Deanna.”
Deanna sipped from a large mug of hot chocolate and smiled wanly. “You know me pretty well. Look, I’ve been going through something lately, something personal, and I needed some time alone. It’s not you, Bev, honestly.”
“But you’ve always come to me in the past, Deanna. Don’t you know I care about you? I don’t want to put any pressure on you, but if you want to talk about it, here I am.”
Why not? It wasn’t as if the whole ship wouldn’t know what was going on once she and the Captain departed for universes unknown. Exhaling on her steaming mug, she looked into her friend’s eyes. “It’s Will. He....he slept with someone else, Bev. Someone that you wouldn’t believe in a million years.”
“Guinan?” she joked.
Deanna’s face fell, she was hoping to be taken seriously. “No, not Guinan. It was me, or rather, a form of me. Do you recall reading reports about a mirror universe?”
“Yes, I did. About two years ago. Are you telling me that you have a double in another universe? And that she and Will.....?”
“Yes. I found them in the holodeck in a rather compromising position. Gods, Beverly, it hurts so much I don’t think I can stand it.” Her dark eyes filled, and Beverly reached for her slender hand.
“I’m sorry, hon. I really am. But surely Will assumed that she was you? I can’t imagine him straying now; not after all you’ve been through.”
“He did, but it gets worse. She abducted him from the ship over a week ago-that’s why he isn’t here. She’s taken him to her own universe, for who knows what purpose. The Captain and I are trying to find a way to reach him.”
“My God, I had no idea. Are you two planning on actually going over there? You can’t know how dangerous it might be.”
“I realize that, but what choice do I have? Either I go after him, or I allow her to take my Imzadi for her own. As my father used to say there’s not a chance in hell I’d go for that.”
Beverly grinned, she rarely heard Deanna cuss. “I can see you’re determined. Why don’t you take me with you? You might need medical backup on this mission.”
Deanna shook her head. “It’ll be dangerous enough trying to hide the Captain and I from another Betazoid. Three would be too much. I may not be able to say goodbye if we leave suddenly, Bev, so I just want you to know....I love you, old friend.”
Beverly’s eyes teared and she reached to hug her tiny friend. “And I, you, Deanna.”
A chill hung over their table for the rest of the night, each of them wondering if they’d ever see one another again.
“Picard to Troi,” came a voice in the middle of the night.
Struggling with the sheets, Deanna got out of bed and found her communicator. “Troi here.”
“We’re leaving, Counselor. Meet me in transporter room two in one hour.”
“I’ll be there, sir. Troi out.”
Slow to wake, Deanna fumbled with a cup of coffee at the replicator. She’d need it to stay awake. Dressing carefully, she studied her reflection in the mirror when she had finished. In lieu of her regular uniform, she chose a dark blue, tightly fitting dress and high-heeled boots. They weren’t strictly uniform, but surely the Captain would grant her some lee-way. Above the v in her dress, she pinned her communicator and then swept a soft dash of mauve lipstick across her full lips. Grey and pink shadow highlighted her ebony eyes and for the occasion, she’d curled her jet-colored hair again. In short, she felt confident that her appearance more than matched her exotic double’s.
Smiling grimly at the thought, she headed for the transporter room to meet the Captain. He did a quick double-take as he noted her appearance, and smiled, saying nothing. They stood side by side on the pad, each hoping that Sisko’s magic co-ordinates would beam them to Will.
According to his computer logs, the beings from this other universe had arrived aboard DS9 via a transporter variance, leaving their own co-ordinates behind in the process. As they stood in twin shimmering columns of light, they both silently prayed that they’d appear where they wanted to go.
Darkness enveloped them as they reappeared. The room’s only source of light came from the glowing transporter pad. Its similarity to their own made them each think that they must be aboard a ship. The rest of the room was dull metallic grey, strictly utilitarian in design. Jean-Luc stepped down into the darkness and took the Counselor’s hand. “Where shall we begin, Captain?” she asked.
“I’m relying on your empathic senses to guide us, Counselor. Perhaps you can reach Commander Riker mentally, and he can tell us how to find him.”
She nodded, closed her eyes, and immediately searched for Will’s presence. Reaching, reaching, she finally felt warmth light up her mind with love and familiarity. “Will!” Instantly, a voice crept into her thoughts. “Imzadi??”
“Yes, Will. I’m here. The Captain and I.....we’re here. Tell us how to get to you.”
“It’s not going to be easy. Here are the co-ordinates....”
He named a route for them to follow and warned her about her nemesis. “Her mental powers are strong, Imzadi. She might sense you before you get to me. Can you cloak your thoughts?”
“With her? I’ll sure as hell try. And Will....?”
“Yes, my love?”
“I love you.”
Joy filled her mind, Will’s joy. His relief at their arrival and eagerness to see her blended into a buoyant warmth inside her heart. Smiling, she said, “Let’s go this way, Captain.”
“I’m in your capable hands, Counselor.”
He followed her out of the open doorway, and they quietly walked together through the maze of corridors. Everything was colored in shades of grey and black, nothing remotely cheerful decorated the immense space. At the end of a corridor, tall silver columns stood at either side of a metal door, and Deanna attempted to open it. It wouldn’t budge, obviously it needed some sort of code. She closed her eyes, and reached into the other Troi’s mind, all the while cloaking her own presence. Soon, she had a list of numbers, and as she chanted them, the door flew open.
Picard wondered vaguely why no one had tried to stop them, but followed Deanna closely anyway. They crept quietly down a long staircase and around another hallway. Finally, they found the door Will had mentioned. Her heart squeezed in her chest-he was here! But the door was locked. Risking exposure again, she reached into her double’s mind for the code and was again rewarded when she spoke and the doors flew into the ceiling.
Together, she and the Captain entered the subtly-lit room and Deanna’s feet flew as she raced to Will’s cell. Will was sitting on the floor, wrapped in a rough-looking blanket, staring at Deanna as though she were a figure out of Greek mythology. Infinitely desirable, yet in reality, did not truly exist.
“Gods, Will.” Her fingers reached for him, needing to touch his careworn face. As she drew close, an electric charge flew through her body, knocking her on her back.
“Deanna! Are you alright?” His eyes were full of hope, relief and unabashed love.
She crawled to her knees and then shakily, tried to stand. “Yes, Imzadi. I’m alright.”
“How did you get here?” The Captain greeted him and then filled him in on the particulars of their arrival. “I just...can’t believe it. I thought I’d never see you again.”
She knelt in front of the cell as the Captain looked on. “Betazoids bond for life, remember? Did you really think I’d just let you go?” Unshed tears hung in his blue eyes and hers misted in response.
Picard cleared his throat and frowned. “Have they mistreated you, Number One? Have you been hurt in any way?”
Will’s mind filled with images from his time with Troi, and he blushed. There was no way he was going to tell the Captain, let alone Deanna, about what had been going on. Not if he could help it. “No, sir. I’ve been imprisoned, yes, but they have fed me and no one has laid a hand on me.”
“Even so, I would like to bring this person to trial in our world. According to Starfleet regulations they’ve broken a number of rules, most importantly abducting my own First Officer.”
“Sir, I somehow doubt that these people will play by our rules, Captain.”
A raised eyebrow told Will exactly what Jean-Luc thought of that. As Will and Deanna turned to stare into one another’s eyes, the room’s door opened a second time. A very angry Betazoid entered the room, much to Jean-Luc’s surprise. The woman really did look like his ship’s counselor-an exact duplicate.
“Well, if it isn’t Will’s Imzadi and her Captain. How do you do? I am Mistress Deanna Troi of the starship Obsidian. To what do I owe this visit?”
“I believe you know damned well why we’re here, Ms. Troi. My first officer is being held by your people and we are here to retrieve him.”
Her bell-like laughter filled the room. “It would take more than one man and a tiny, female Betazoid to get the Commander out of this prison cell-let alone off this ship.”
“That’s why my ship is waiting on the other side. If I send word, my security officers will swarm around your little ship and we will bring Will back with us.”
“My my, Captain. You humans are certainly passionate. I learned that from your Commander, didn’t I, Will”?
Will’s stomach rebelled as he realized that she was going to tell Deanna. She was going to tell her everything. He gave her an icy blue stare of warning, but she merely winked at him.
“Well, Deanna, would you like to know what your Imzadi and I have been doing to fill our time since you’ve been apart?”
Deanna froze, sick to her very soul. She could feel what was coming, and desperately tried to block it out.
“Since we’re all here, I think I may as well make an announcement. As you know, Deanna, Betazoid females are able to conceive rather quickly, and the results of a pregnancy test are often faster than with a human woman. I’d like you all to know that as of this morning, I’ve learned that I’m pregnant. With Commander Riker’s baby.”
The hush that fell over the room was deafening, and Deanna fought with every ounce of strength not to break down. Not in front of her.
Will’s soft, “no” broke the silence. His captor touched her flat belly and caressed it gently.. “Yes, Commander. We were successful. Isn’t it wonderful?” As Jean-Luc and Will looked on, Deanna Troi collapsed in a dead faint.
Mirror, Mirror-Part 5 Tracy126 4/5/99 (All rights to TNG characters owned by Paramount)
Will reeled with the shock of the news, wishing with everything inside him that Deanna hadn't heard the words. The look of utter triumph on his enemy’s face filled him with disgust. Maybe she was lying. He hadn't been here that long. Could she really have conceived a child that quickly? His knowledge of Betazoid physiology was slim to none, so anything was possible. Still, he opted to challenge her. Taking in a deep breath, he forced himself to call her name.
Bending over Deanna’s body, she turned her head to face him. ”What is it, Riker?”
”Come over here. I’d like to talk to you.”
She sashayed over to him, obviously pleased with herself. ”You don't look very happy, Commander. Surely, a man of your years would welcome the chance to be a father. I assure you, this baby will not lack for anything-he will grow up surrounded by security and power. What else could he possibly need?”
”How about love? I don't love you and you certainly don't love me. Don't you think a child deserves that?”
”Perhaps in your world, that might matter to a mother. To me, he is a means to an end. He will become the reigning power in this sector when he comes of age, just as my mate would've wanted it.”
”You have it all planned, don't you? Well, I’d like to say one thing to you, Mistress.”
His voice fairly dripped with sarcasm and she frowned. ”What would that be?”
”I don't believe you really are pregnant. There hasn't been enough time. You’re lying, and I’d like to know why.”
Her face turned several shades of red and the black of her eyes was filled with beaming hatred.
“I don't particularly like being called a liar. But if you require proof, so be it.”
Slapping the disk at her throat, she called, “Doctor to prison room three.”
”On my way, Mistress.”
That voice. It sounded so familiar. But who did it remind him of? As the doors rushed to open and a slim figure entered the room, he knew. Beverly Crusher. Or, an incredible likeness of her. ”Hello, Mistress. You require my services?”
Looking at the prostrate Betazoid on the floor, she knelt next to her and felt her neck for a pulse. ”She can wait. Right now I’d like you to confirm my pregnancy for the Commander. He doesn't quite believe me.”
Beverly’s twin smiled, eerily reminding him of his friend. “I suspected this was why you called me, and I’ve brought this...”
Handing him a dark grey PADD, she smiled serenely. He read the words and noted the time of the test. She had been telling the truth. His face fell as the weight of it truly hit home. ”Does that satisfy you, Commander?” asked Crusher.
He could only nod as the misery filled him. This poor child. What made this crazy bitch think she could be a mother? As though she heard him, Troi’s head whipped around and the look on her face was murderous. “Look, you Starfleet bastard, I don't appreciate the thoughts you’re having. If I catch your mind working that way again, I’ll toss your Imzadi out the air-lock. Do you understand?”
God, what had he gotten Deanna into? Jean-Luc stood mutely in the corner of the room, attempting to have a conversation with Data via his comm badge. For a second, he'd had contact, but then lost it again. Slapping it gently again, he murmured the androids name. “Data? Can you here me?”
Only silence greeted him, and he realized that the further away the Obsidian climbed the reaches of space, the less likely he'd be able to stay in contact. He kept one eye upon the woman as she attempted to wake his Counselor, and tried again. It did not escape her notice. Leaving Deanna on the floor, she walked over to him, hands on her generous hips. Instead of the expected anger, she seemed somehow pleased with him.
“Captain. You’re trying to make contact with the Enterprise, aren't you? Well, a bit of advice. We'll be completely out of range very soon. In fact, it would be something of a miracle if you were to succeed given the distance across the divide between our worlds. But I admire you for trying.”
She leaned up on the tips of her boots and placed a wet kiss on his bald head. ”You know, if I weren't so fond of Commander Riker, I’d think of giving you a try. You are very attractive, Picard.”
He felt all at sea, suddenly. Anger had been fuelling him, but now a lethargy was overtaking his thoughts. In the dim lights of the prison-room, he began to notice the lines of her grey suit, how they clung to her ripe figure. How the dark lipstick lent a fullness to her lips, and how the Betazoid eyes he'd looked into so many times before with his Counselor, seemed suddenly full of passion and promise. Briefly, he longed to...kiss her.
My God, was this what had happened to Will? He began to understand exactly what had happened, and immediately felt sorry for his First Officer. No man was any match for a telepathic Betazoid; not one who was fluent in mind-control. Yes, he thought as her lips found his, thats it. She was controlling his mind. And his body.
Before the kiss could deepen, he roughly shoved her back. “I don't think so, Mistress Troi. No conquests for you today, I’m afraid.”
”Very good, Jean-Luc, you’re learning to block my powers already. You must be something of a telepath yourself.”
”Not really, I just have control over my own mind.” Her eyebrow arched and she looked over her shoulder at Will.
“Something your Commander is apparently lacking.”
“Well, you and I will have to play later, Captain. For now, I want to get your Counselor into my sickbay.”
Beverly’s double was quite tall and strong, built a bit more muscularly than his own ships doctor. She was able to lift the unconscious woman over her shoulder and as he and Will helplessly watched, they left the room. Mistress Troi walked over to Will and opened the cell again. “Jean-Luc? Would you be so kind as to join your First Officer?”
Sighing at the futility of ignoring her wishes, he clambered in beside Will and took a seat in the far corner. ”I’ll be back later, gentlemen.”
”Wait! What are you going to do with Deanna?”
”I plan on taking good care of her, Riker. After all, I could no more harm her than I could myself. I only want to bring her to consciousness so that I can question her.”
”About me?” Will asked.
”Exactly. Deanna Troi and I have a lot to talk about. I’m sure I’ll find what she has to say most interesting. Besides, what better way to get to know the man I’m taking for a mate than to ask his Imzadi?”
Smiling brightly, she waved to the men and sashayed out of the room, putting an extra motion in the act to capture their attention. Damn her. ”Well, I now understand what you've been dealing with, Number One. Quite something, isn't she?”
His face grew dark and he fought to control his bitter anger. ”thats a lot nicer than what I’d call her, Captain. Don't tell me she‹s got you under her spell now?”
Jean-Luc grimaced. “Not exactly, Will. She is pure evil, make no mistake. But I can understand the attraction she must have held for you in the beginning.
Will’s eyes widened. “You know? I mean, about what happened aboard the Enterprise?”
”Deanna told me. Don't be upset, Number One, I promise to keep the information to myself. She wanted me to understand what had happened to you.”
”So now what do we do?”
”Do? Well, I’d imagine we'll do the only thing we can-wait.”
Great. Will stared at the doors glumly, wishing a certain Cardassian would magically appear and get them out of the nightmare they were living in. A few hours later, Garak put in an appearance, making Will wonder if the man was telepathic. ”Hello again, Commander Riker. And who do we have with us today?”
Will explained and then bombarded the man with questions. ”Do you have any information? Can we get off the ship? Is Deanna alright?”
He held up a grey hand and chuckled. “One at a time, Commander, one at a time. First of all, you will be able to leave, but it won't be easy. If I can get you to the transporter without the Mistress knowledge, we should still be close enough to the rift in space/time for you to beam over to your ship. I suggest we attempt this late at night when she’s asleep. Even then, we may be caught-her powers are stronger than you know. But, its worth a shot. And, when you’re gone and I am the one to discover your escape, perhaps she will reward me.”
”Sounds like you've got it all worked out. But what about my...what about Deanna?”
”She’s in sickbay with the doctor right now. According to reports, she’s regained consciousness and has been asking for you.”
Relief swept through him. If she wanted him, then maybe things would be alright. ”Can you take me to her? I’ve got to talk to her, to explain. Please.”
Garak turned a smile on the Captain. “If I do this, will you be able to stall the Mistress if she comes looking for your Commander? Tell her that he was recalcitrant with me, and I took him to the torture chamber for punishment.”
Jean-Luc lifted an eyebrow. “Torture chamber? You people really are evil, aren't you?”
”Thats already been established, Captain. Now will you or won't you help me?”
”Yes, yes, of course. I’ll do as you ask.”
Garak called out a series of numbers and the cell opened. Will brushed off dirt from his uniform shirt and yanked it down, causing the Captain to grin. ”Sir, I’ll return as soon as possible. I’ve got to see her.”
”I understand, Number One. Now go.”
The Cardassian took Will by the arm, and pulled him from the room, leaving Picard to stare at the empty, black ceiling. Would this man really help them escape? If he were caught, surely he'd be punished. Perhaps executed. The same fate no doubt would then befall he and his crew. Thinking of the doctor suddenly, he wondered if she would be of any help. His own Beverly had quite a soft heart. If her double did as well, maybe he could lull her into helping them. In his mind he recalled the last words he'd spoken to Beverly Crusher. Whatever happened to them now, at least he could die knowing that he'd finally told her that he loved her.
In a bluish-grey room in sickbay, Deanna Troi fought to stay conscious. Her legs were numb, and she couldn't sit up. Surely a fainting spell wouldn't cause her to be paralysed? Her own face looked down on her and met her eyes. “No, it wouldn't, Deanna. I’ve instructed Crusher to inject you with a paralytic agent. Don't worry, it wears off in a few hours. Right now I need to question you, and I can't have you trying to escape.”
Deanna tried to force the woman’s thoughts away, but she entered her mind as easily as her own mother could. Silky, and soft like the legs of a spider, the other Troi melded with her mind, much-like a talented Vulcan.
She shuddered at the unwelcome invasion. ”Stop. Get out of my head. I’ll talk to you ...tell you what you want to know.”
”What a good little Betazoid you are! But, Counselor, you know that I can learn more from reading your thoughts. When I am finished, I will question you, if only to determine how truthful you are.”
Oily tentacles of evil filled Deanna’s mind and she cried out for Will. “Imzadi. Please come...please help me. I need you.”
”Will can't help you now. He’s safely locked up and ready for my use. You are under my control now.”
Finally finished, she broke the contact, and Deanna nearly retched with relief. Sick to her soul from the full awareness of what her double was, she held her stomach and tried not to cry. ”You are evil. I can't believe a Betazoid would have such horrible thoughts. In my universe, we are a people of peace and love. What has corrupted you? Is it possible you've always been this way?”
”Thats none of your concern, Deanna. Now, tell me what I want to know.”
Defeated, she poured out the story of her romance with Will, from its beginnings on Betazed when they were young, to their new bond after returning from the Briar Patch. Their love had lasted for so long, had brought them back into one another arms. How could she let it all go now? Her heart ached, thinking of this woman carrying a baby by the man she loved.
“It should be mine, she thought sadly. Mine and Wills.”
As her heart continued to break, a voice interrupted her thoughts. “Mistress, you are needed in the engine room immediately. The warp core looks in danger of breaching-we need to place all systems on emergency power.”
She sighed. “Never a moment to myself, Deanna. You know how that is. Let me take care of this problem and I’ll be back.”
She left, and Deanna struggled with the paralysis, trying vainly to move her heavy limbs. What were they going to do? She thought that finding Will would solve everything, but now there was a new problem. Even if they could leave, even if they found their way back to the Enterprise, Wills child was in that woman’s womb. It was innocent; how could she allow a baby to be raised here, in this hellish world? When the doors slid open a moment later, she thought she must be dreaming. It was Will, accompanied by a Cardassian guard.
”Doctor, the Mistress has granted permission for the Commander to visit the patient. May we leave them alone for awhile?” Crusher frowned, then nodded, and followed him out of the room.
Will flew to Deanna‹s side, taking her small hand in his own. “Deanna, love, are you okay? What has she done to you?”
”I can't move. I’m paralyzed...she injected me with some sort of drug. Help me, Will.”
His heart went out to her and he wrapped her small body in his arms. They stayed that way for endless minutes, enjoying the feel of one another. He kissed her lips, and she responded. Apparently her face was the one part of her body unaffected by the agent. ”I love you, Deanna. I’m sorry for everything. You've come all this way to find me, and I’ve done nothing but hurt you again.”
”Why did you do it, Will? I understand the first time-you thought you were making love to me. But how could you touch her again? How?” Pain filled her face and brought uncontrollable tears to her eyes. Crying openly, she stared at him, all of the love that she felt mingling with the heart-searing pain of betrayal. “Do you know how this makes me feel? I love you...the Captain and I have been searching for ways to find you. I thought that you might be hurt...might be...dead. You've been her lover the entire time, haven't you?”
Broken, he looked at the floor. The look in her eyes was too much to bear and he tried to tell her what had happened. “She.s been controlling my every move. When I wouldn't do what she wanted, she hit me with spikes of pain. It was horrible, but there was nothing I could do.”
”She...controlled your body? Your sexual responses?” How could he make her believe him?
“Yes. I don't pretend to understand how she did it, I only know that once she touched that damnable necklace, I couldn't stop myself from...”
”Making love to her?”
”Yes.” The admission killed him. He'd desperately wanted to keep the whole sordid affair from her, but the news of Troi.s pregnancy ruined any chance of that. Might as well tell her the entire story. He did, trying to be delicate about certain details, and when he'd finished, Deanna lifted her head, trying to reach him. He leaned down and kissed her, feeling not only their mouths, but also their minds touch.
Love filled him, her love, and as the kiss deepened, he tried to send her all of his love, all of his endless aching guilt. ”Can you ever forgive me?”
”I don't know, Will. I only know that I love you and that I.m trying to understand what happened. Right now, I can't help but think of that baby. What kind of life will he have here with that woman? I wish...”
”That the baby was ours? So do I, Imzadi. So do I...”
Mirror, Mirror-Part 6 Tracy126 4/6/99 (All rights to TNG characters owned by Paramount)
The warp-core breach had been a ruse designed by Garak to get his Mistress away from sickbay long enough for Riker to see his Imzadi. Now, she was headed for the bridge, fists clenched at her sides, ready to let him have it. Garak serenely watched the night sky through the view screen, feeling her walk into the room. He spun around, and put an ingratiating smile on his face.
“Why, Mistress. You look distressed. Is anything wrong?”
”I was called to engineering for a core breach that wasn't happening. Do you know who had the gall to lie to me? Do you?”
My God, she was beautiful when she was angry. Her new pregnancy gave a glow to her porcelain skin, and her hair had a shiny lustre. All he could think of was the day when she'd be his. If he could only get rid of Riker, her next child might belong to him. For he planned to be more than a rank to her, he planned to be her mate-bonded for life with no possibility of separation.
Inwardly he smiled, imagining his plan coming to fruition. “Mistress, I don't know why you were called. Perhaps it was that new young lieutenant-he tends to overreact to the smallest ships problems.”
Somewhat mollified, she relaxed for a moment and watched the ships progression. Soon they would be in orbit around their newly-named planet, Dukat. She couldn't wait. Her palace was stocked with clothing, foods, any number of goods that she and her new mate would need for their new life together.
She'd sent a message telling the servants to prepare the master suite for she and Riker, and briefly smiled, imagining all of the children they would create in that big, beautiful, king-sized bed. Now if she could find a way to rid him of his Imzadi. Deanna Troi was something of a problem. Although Mistress Troi was anything but soft-hearted, it would be difficult killing a woman who looked like herself. Perhaps one of the guards would do it for her. Something not-too painful, perhaps tossing her beautiful little body out into the far reaches of space, where she would linger forever as a spinning celestial body.
Yes, that would be perfect. She'd always thought that the Betazoid traditions of the other universe were a bit barbaric anyway. Why would anyone want to wrap their loved-ones bodies in cloth and put them on display inside of a glass coffin?
She shuddered, imagining her Riker dead body in her arms. How would she feel if he lay similarly clad down in the ships cargo bay? It wasn't worth thinking about. Why should she when she had a perfectly good replica of him on board? A living, breathing perfect rendition of the man she'd loved. Yes, she had loved him, in her own fashion. Loved his military mindset, his rigid standards of perfection, his masculinity, his lust for power. Not to mention his prowess as a lover. Her thoughts turned suddenly to Will, and she realized that although they suited one another physically, there was one thing missing. The bond. And as long as he remained bonded to Deanna Troi, he would never be completely free to enter into the bond with her. She would not have her lifemate spending his years with her daydreaming of a lost love. No, it was becoming quite clear that Deanna Troi would have to go.
Back in his cell, Riker tried to wear a hole in the floor by pacing the tiny room. Picard napped in the corner on a pile of blankets and pillows, oblivious to Riker pain. He'd left Deanna in sickbay, and hoped that she would be alright. Not trusting their captor one bit, his mind created all manner of scenarios in which the hellion tried her best to harm Deanna.
Her lovely face stayed in the forefront of his mind, and he kept an “eye” on her mentally; connecting with her through their Imzadi bond. If she were in any way hurt, he'd know immediately. Garak planned to come back and stand guard outside the doors of the room, so he could call him to open the cell if Deanna needed him. For now, all that he could do was wait.
Impatiently, he slammed a fist against the walls, nearly waking the deeply-sleeping Captain. He wished that their phasers were operable. At least they'd have a chance to escape if they had some sort of weapon. Garak. That was it. He'd helped him before, maybe he'd see his way clear to loan Will one of their phasers. Or whatever damnable weapon they used in this hell-hole. His trademark Riker grin crept across his face. It just might work. If Garak wanted the Mistress badly enough, he might just help them to escape. But, if Will turned fire on Troi, how would the Cardassian react?
In their world, Cardassians were no strangers to torture and punishment; Garak might have it in for him if he dared to kill the woman who held him. He'd just have to take that chance. Night turned to day again, and in the morning, Will awakened to find Picard pacing the same small area that he'd been pacing the night before.
”I am indeed. I can't imagine how you've endured living in such close quarters, Number One.”
”I was allowed out for meals and...other things.”
”I see. Will, I’ve been doing some thinking and I believe that this Garak might be our man. Have the two of you created a plan?”
”Not yet. I believe he'll help me, may even supply us with weapons, but there’s just one problem.”
”What might that be?”
”I don't have any compunction against killing his Mistress to get us out of here. But I have a feeling that wouldn't go over too well with Garak. He wants her for himself, and although he’s been willing to help me so far, I’m sure there’s limits to what he'll allow us to do to escape.”
”No doubt you’re right, Number One. Still, I believe he’s our only chance...is he due to visit you today?”
”I don't know. He.s very secretive, and seems to like to play games. He might show up any minute, or not at all. I hope if he does its soon because the longer Deanna stays in contact with her double, the more chance there is she'll be in danger.”
A metal creaking announced the opening of the doors, and both officers immediately turned the conversation to other topics. ”Good morning, gentlemen. Would you like some breakfast?”
”That depends, is it poisoned?” Will said sarcastically.
”Now you know I’d never harm you, Riker. Come, both of you. If you think I had a spread the other evening for dinner, wait until you see what I’ve got for you this morning.”
This morning it was difficult to tell her apart from Deanna; she wore a white, soft dress, buffed leather boots and her long hair was pulled into a bun with ringlets curling around her face. Tiny purple flowers dotted her hair, and heavy gold bracelets hung at her wrists. She looked like a holodeck creation from one of Barclay’s holodeck fantasies. Beautiful, innocent, untouchable.
And she was carrying his child. His heart turned over as he tried to pretend, if only for a moment, that she was his Deanna. Then she smiled, shattering the illusion completely. The cat-like grin held the shining single-minded evil that was her true personality, leaving then no doubt who truly stood before them. She fingered the tiny gold charm and the cell opened.
Riker and Picard followed her to the large dining area and neither could help reacting to the spread before them. Large, deep silver containers held warmed pancakes, cheesy scrambled eggs, wedges of toast and slabs of thick bacon. Pitchers held ice-cold orange juice and steaming coffee. Riker dove into it with relish, while the Captain took a reserved portion for himself. As they ate, she watched them, feeling a pull of attraction for them both.
Will was so ruggedly masculine, so perfectly male that her body couldn't help but respond. But Jean-Luc...his attractions were of course partly physical, yet his greatest feature seemed to be his intellect. She wanted to get to know him better, but doubted she would have the time. Once Deanna was disposed of, there would be no choice but to include Picard. What a shame-if it were possible to have two mates, she'd take them both; enjoying Riker vigorous love-making, while sparring intellectually with the Captain. She sighed, and Wills eyebrow lifted.
“Something wrong, Ms. Troi?”
”What could possibly be wrong? I.m dining with Starfleet's finest and most attractive officers; my day has been made.”
Will was instantly suspicious. This woman was many things, but charming was not one of them. He finished the food quickly and urged the Captain with his eyes to do the same. ”Now, why don't you tell us what you've got up your sleeve? We.re all ears.”
”Darling, I will indeed share my plans with you, once we've entered the bonding. But not before. For the moment, you must remain in the dark. I am sorry, but you understand I have regulations to follow.”
”Then at least tell me this much-how is Deanna? When can I see her?”
”Your beloved Imzadi is still resting in sickbay, Commander. The effects of the drug have worn off by now and she will be placed in your cell this afternoon.”
Something was off about the way she was speaking. Although she wasn't his Imzadi, they had been intimate, and it seemed to have given him limited access to her devious mind. She was hiding something. Something that had everything to do with Deanna. God, was she planning on killing her?
”Still don't trust me, Commander? Would I lie to you-the man that I.ve chosen as my mate? Never.”
He wasn't fooled by her innocent expression. Deep inside he felt sure she was lying-she was going to kill Deanna. They had to get out of here-ASAP. Cloaking his thoughts as well as he could, he poured another glass of juice and as he drank, his mind worked furiously. Tonight. It had to be tonight. If only Garak is true to his word.
Hours later, the three Starfleet officers sat in rather close quarters, trying to make room for one another. Deanna was alright physically, but emotionally torn apart. She was a better empath than her rival had thought, and was fully aware of the plans being designed for her demise.
Will held her hand tightly and kept a protective arm around her shoulders. ”We’re going to get out of here tonight, Imzadi. I promise.”
As she looked into his eyes, he realized that doubts haunted her. Deanna wasn't apt to believe any promise he made right now. But she knew that he would do everything he could to get them all out of here-dead or alive. As the afternoon dragged on, they planned together how they would escape, hoping that Garak would play the role they'd chosen for him.
When he entered the room a half-hour later, their hopes were realized. ”It has to be tonight, Riker. After that, we'll be too far away for it to be possible, and the three of you will be stuck here for a very long time. Since I doubt you want to be a part of our crew, I suggest we plan. Now.”
They nodded and filled him in on what they'd decided to do. He agreed willingly, with only one caveat. “You should be aware that my first duty is to the Mistress. If you try to harm her, I won't hesitate to kill you.”
”I take it getting phasers from you will be a pipe-dream then?”
”I’m not adverse to providing you with weapons-I have no loyalty to any other members of this crew. Kill them, if you must, but touch the Mistress and I’ll have no choice but to affect your escape myself-in body bags.”
Deanna shuddered and pulled a blanket over her dress. She longed for her uniform and a pair of sturdy boots. It wasn't going to be easy getting out of here in tiny high-heels. She said so, and Garak promised to sneak out anything she'd need from Troi’s quarters.
”I’ll be back at midnight-I’ll expect you to be ready. And Deanna?”
”For Gods‹ sake, hide your emotions. Even I can read them right now.”
Numbly, she nodded. It wasn't going to be easy.
Mirror, Mirror-Part 7 4/7/99 Tracy126 (All rights to TNG characters owned by Paramount)
Troi stared out of the circular viewscreen in her quarters, watching her planet come closer and closer. Home. At one time, that word had meant Betazed and the loving arms of her mother, Lwaxana Troi. Lwaxana and Ian Troi had been good parents, loving parents. Between her mothers gentle Betazoid attitude, and her fathers human heart, she'd had an ideal upbringing.
Until they were killed. Brutally and efficiently. In one fell swoop, the Borg had torn apart Betazed, leaving very few left alive. She'd been five when it had happened. The blood, the screams, the utter devastation of a world torn apart lived in her nightmares all of her life. It was the one thing she still had of her childhood-horrid, dark memories.
After her parents were killed, she hid for days in the scorched remains of a forest, living on whatever insects she could find. One day, a Cardassian woman named Stefanya Dulcor found the little girl and took her in a shuttle to her homeworld. There, she and her mate, Gul Dulcor raised the child according to Cardassian custom. They'd been a powerful pair-nothing mattered to them more than disposing of Cardassia’s many enemies. By the time Deanna had reached maturity, most of her Betazoid instincts had withered from disuse.
Only one of her inherited talents was encouraged-mental telepathy. Her adoptive parents used her gifts to find and destroy their enemies, and Deanna learned to do the same. Eventually, all of Lwaxana’s gentle teachings, all of Ian’s love-it disappeared under a hard, grey shell constructed of violence, vengeance and bloodshed. They were getting closer to her adopted homeworld, the world now named Dukat.
She imagined it, rising in the distance, and smiled. Together, she and Riker would rule over Dukat much like Stefanya and Gul Dulcor had done. Her satisfaction was rich. With her parents now years dead, she would take their place and serve the planet in a way that would make them proud. Even if she had to kill a few humanoids to do it. Humanoids. Betazoids. Deanna. The counselor’s image stayed strong in her mind. In her, she saw the woman she herself might have become, had she been raised on a peaceful Betazed with her natural parents.
She resented Deanna’s serenity, her bond with the Commander and most importantly, her existence. With Deanna dead, she would be the only Troi-that idea held appeal. Her mind subtly whispered that there may be many universes, indeed, many Deanna Trois-she couldn't kill them all. But it was easy to ignore the voice; after all, she'd had many decades of practice.
The tension was getting to all of them. Midnight was drawing near and they wondered if they'd actually succeed. They had better -Will had promised Deanna, and he'd be damned if he'd ever let her down again. He hoped he could count on the Cardassian to be true to his word. Deanna had been silent for over an hour. She was drained emotionally, and attempting to draw strength from Betazoid meditation.
Her breathing slowed, her mind calmed, and she imagined herself in her mothers fragrant, blooming garden, among dancing rows of roses and daffodils. “Mother...” more than any thing she longed to be home. Playing with her little brother, visiting Chandra and her family, kneeling on the floors of her fathers crypt and telling him for the thousandth time how much she missed him. Betazed.
She looked at Will, seeing in him all of their moments together, and knew in that instant that she wanted to marry him. Still. If they got out of this alive, perhaps she could persuade the Commander to come home with her. They could marry in the same chapel that Chandra had, so many years before. He'd picked up her thoughts. “I would love to go home with you, Deanna. And, if that was a proposal, I accept.”
Picard looked completely confused. “Did I miss something?”
She laughed, saying only, “Its nothing, Captain.”
“If nothing means that you and my First Officer are in some sort of telepathic communication, then nothing is really something indeed.”
She gave him a grin and looked at Wills beloved face. As deeply as she'd been hurt, she knew that she would forgive him. Eventually. Time would heal her pain. She just hoped that she'd have enough of that precious commodity to share with Will. Her musings were interrupted by the swoosh of the doors. It was Garak.
”I take it you all are ready for our little adventure?”
They merely nodded, and followed him out of the room. He handed each of them a phaser, one designed for their world. Its heavy, metallic grey handle felt good in Wills hand. Because the Cardassian could not read his mind, he indulged in a little fantasy; one in which he blew off the beautiful head of his kidnapper.
As they hit the top of the stairs, a guard blocked their way. ”Out of the way, Demor. These people are mine to deal with.”
”Where are you taking them?”
”Where do you think? Do the words “torture chamber” ring a bell?”
”Alright. You may pass.”
”Gee, thank-you very much.” Garak sidled down the hallway, his prisoners in tow and as they reached the level that held the transporter room, he thought they had it made. Until a dark-haired vision appeared before them, seemingly created from thin air.
”Garak. What are you doing with my prisoners?”
”I..I was just taking them to the...torture chamber. I think they could use a little discipline.”
”You’re a bad liar, Garak. You can't cloak all of your thoughts from me. I know exactly what you’re doing. You've betrayed me, you Cardassian bastard. It is you who will be disciplined in the torture chamber!”
She touched her necklace and Garak screamed, falling to the floor in a heap. “Mistress, forgive me...I...only wanted my rightful place-at your...side.”
She gave him a look of utter disgust. “As if I would take you for a mate, Garak.”
His hopes had died in one short moment, and he reached for the phaser on his hip. Putting its tip to his temple, he fired, and disappeared in a fiery, melting blaze. Troi ignored this display, to the horror of the others. Instead, her eyes locked onto Deanna’s and she reached out a hand.
“Its time for you to get what you deserve, Little One.”
Deanna shrank back at hearing her mothers pet name for her. ”What are you going to do with me?”
”What I should've done the first night you arrived.”
She dragged Deanna down the hallway, her boots clicking on metal floor. Will and the Captain set their phasers and pointed twin beams of destruction at Troi’s back. They fired. She screamed once, a high-pitched keening that resembled a wolf’s howl at a fully risen moon. Falling to the floor, her head cracked against the cold metal and Deanna slipped out of her grasp, running for Wills arms. They held one another tightly, and the Captain moved to the prone woman.
Touching her neck, he felt for a pulse. There was only a faint beating of her heart. Very, very faint. Suddenly, Deanna cried, “The baby! We've got to call the Doctor-now!”
Picard touched the dangling trinket on Troi’s neck. “Crusher, this is Jean-Luc Picard-your Mistress is hurt, possibly dying. Beam her to sickbay.”
It sounded so familiar that for a moment they all believed that they were already aboard the Enterprise. In an instant, Troi’s body turned to flickering white shards of light and she was gone.
”Lets get the hell out of here.”
Riker took Deanna’s hand and pulled her toward the transporter room. ”Will...wait. I...know you can't possibly understand, I don't understand it myself, but I’ve got to know if the baby is alright.”
He sighed loudly and looked into her chocolate eyes. God, she was so full of love. Such a damned good woman. How could he refuse? The three moved to sickbay, avoiding random Cardassians, and finally made it through the carved metal doors.
Troi’s limp body lay on a blue bio-bed, as Crusher ran a tri-corder over her inch by inch.
“Will she make it?” asked Will.
An icy blue stare met his own. “You’re the one who tried to kill her, what do you care?”
”She happens to be carrying my baby. Is it...will it...tell me....”
”Oh, for Gods sakes, yes Commander, the baby is alright. For now. But if the Mistress dies, then we'll have to consider our options.”
Will grew cold at her words. “Options? What do you mean?”
”I mean, either we remove the fetus and implant it in a healthy womb, or it will have to die along with her. There’s nothing else we can do.”
”A healthy womb? You mean, the baby will make it as long as....”
”Yes, Counselor, as long as I can find a healthy woman to put it in. This may all be moot if the Mistress lives.”
Jean-Luc moved to stand beside Crusher, missing Beverly suddenly with everything inside of him. “What is her prognosis?”
Brushing back her long red hair, she looked up at him. “Its not good. The phaser blasts struck her kidneys, with the right blast following through to her heart. If I can keep her alive, I may be able to do a heart transplant. Right now, she’s losing blood pressure and her breathing is erratic. I don't have long to act.”
A shaky, feather-light voice whispered into the silence.
He looked at Deanna, and she nodded. He walked next to the bed and stared down at the woman who was carrying his child. “Yes?”
”You...tried to...kill me. We were going to be together...bonded. Why?”
Will pushed away his anger and tried to remember that the woman was dying. ”I never chose this life, Troi. You brought me here to fulfil your fantasies, your dreams for the future. But you never once asked me if I wanted to come. Did you think that you could make me over into his image? I’m not your Riker. I never could be.”
“I thought that you would make a perfect mate for me, Riker. My plans...all of my plans...”
Will almost felt pity for the woman. Almost. “Your plans. thats right. I never planned to leave the Enterprise, to leave the woman I love behind. I didn't plan to be seduced and kidnapped or held against my will. Even if you had been successful, even if we had bonded, I would've escaped. For my people, even death is sometimes preferable than having your life planned for you.”
”We could've ruled Dukat...together. My power, it would've been yours. Our child, raised as I was, raised to be a warrior. It would have been....”
”Nothing like what you imagined. Don't you understand? I love Deanna Troi-my Deanna. We have a future together...one that you couldn't possibly understand.”
She looked into his eyes, defeated by his words. “You may go. Tell your Imzadi to come to me.”
Deanna went to her side and looked down into eyes like her own. The pain she saw there hurt her own heart. She couldn't help it. “Are you alright?”
”You honestly want to know, don't you? After everything thats happened, you really...care.”
”Of course I do. You are a fellow being, although perhaps not my favorite person in the world.”
She looked then like a young child, and it was as if her own Betazoid soul was peeking out from the angry, Cardassian-like exterior. ”I...wish to tell you something, Counselor. I was born on Betazed, in this universe, to Lwaxana and Ian Troi. I loved them more than I could ever tell you, but they were killed by the Borg when I was a small girl. I was raised after that by a Cardassian couple on Cardassia. You see, had my parents lived, I would've been you, Deanna. I would've lived your life. Will would've lived and we would've had a family. Now, I am forever a Cardassian. Its in my blood and the blood of those I’ve killed. But I was Betazoid once.”
Deanna felt unexpected tears in her throat, and she nearly choked with the effort of swallowing them. As she fought them, they flooded her eyes, falling down onto her doubles face. “Why...are you crying? You...hate me.”
Deanna didn't know, but was unable to stop, and all of her jealous hatred evaporated as the woman began to die in front of her. ”Will you do something for me? Will you take my baby into your womb and carry her? Will you raise her with Riker and give her a real family?”
Will came and stood next to Deanna and searched the face of his captor. “I thought you wanted an empire, ruled by our child. I thought you didn't care about love and family.”
”You‹re right, Riker. All of that died in me with my parents. But perhaps my baby would have a better future with the two of you. Perhaps she can have what Deanna always had...what I might have had.”
She stopped speaking, and the light in her dark eyes suddenly went out. Crusher grabbed her shock pads and slammed a heart-charging jolt into her chest. It failed. Spinning around, her eyes met Deanna’s. “Will you allow the fetal transfer?”
Deanna and Will shared a long, silent look. “Its your call, Imzadi. You come first with me; always.”
”I want this child. Its part of you, and in a way, part of me.” She turned to Crusher. “You have my permission.”
”Very well.” Crusher steered Deanna to a bio-bed and ordered her to undress. Will and the Captain were instructed to leave the room, and together they stood outside sickbays opaque doors and tried to see what was going on. ”Will, are you certain you want to raise this child? He wasn't conceived under the best of circumstances.”
A fiery look danced in Wills blue eyes. “Sir, that baby may be part of a woman that woman, but its also part of me. And if there’s any chance that I can learn to think of it as Deanna’s, to give it a real family, I think its my duty to do so.”
”Our Counselor Troi is really something else, isn't she.”
”Yes sir. She’s more than I ever dreamed of in a woman and as soon as we get back, I’m going to request permission to leave for Betazed. thats where we want to get married. Captain, would you do the honors?”
Picard smiled his first smile in days. “I would be honored, Number One.” Tensely, they paced and waited, hoping that Deanna would come through the surgery successfully. Many a long hour went by before Crusher flung open the doors and motioned for them to come inside. Deanna’s alter ego was dead. She lie in perfect stillness, hands folded on her chest, and for Will it was an eerie vision of what his own Imzadi would look like if...no. He wouldn't think of it. Instead, he moved to the back of the room where Deanna lay on a bed wrapped in swaths of blue sheets. Her face was pale, and she'd been perspiring, but he thought he'd never seen her more beautiful.
”Imzadi...beloved...are you alright?”
His questioning gaze found her own and she smiled dimly. “Will. The baby...it’s alright. I’m carrying her now.”
Oddly, her lifelong wish to have Wills child had been granted, just not in the way she'd imagined. Staring at the body on the other bed, she allowed more tears to fall. Never before had she felt such a jumble of emotions all at once, and wasn't sure which one to indulge in first.
”Deanna...I don't know what to say. You’re amazing. I love you. I always have. This baby will be ours. There’s no difference genetically between you and its mother-for all any one will ever know, it is our child.”
”Yes, Will. Ours.”
He never expected this to happen, and neither had Deanna. Troi’s death had unlocked hidden reserves of strength and forgiveness in them both, and they were grateful just to be alive and together.
”Captain...I think I’m ready to go home now.”
Weak as a kitten, but eager to get home, Deanna dressed and the doctor guided them to the transporter, locking in their co-ordinates herself. Crushers pale stare landed on the Captain as he took his spot on the pad. ”May I ask you a question, before you go?”
”In your universe, are you and my double...involved?” Picard reddened. Not even Will and Deanna knew the extent of his involvement with Beverly. Apparently, they would now. “Yes. We are very much in love.”
Her eyes sought his again. “I thought so. My Picard, my mate, died in a Borg invasion ten years ago. Seeing you...it brought back memories. I wish you and your mate the best, Picard.”
”And I you, Crusher.” They stared at one another as whirling columns of light surrounded the three of them, whisking them off to another world. This time, their own.
Epilogue-Nine months later
Deanna Riker pushed again, panting and breathing like Beverly had taught her. The pain ripped through her body like a scythe, but she chanted over it in her mind, trying to focus on love and light and peace. Beverly was holding her hand, watching the progress, urging her on. Will gripped her other hand tightly and wiped her forehead with a clean cloth.
“Its almost time, Dee. This little girl wants to see the world.”
Deanna cried out again, pushing with everything she had, and finally, after ten long hours of endless work, she felt the tiny body slip from her own. Exhausted, she fell back on the pillows and met Wills protective gaze. There were tears in his eyes and as soon as she said his name, they fell in rivers down his bare cheeks. “You did it, Imzadi. God, I’m so proud of you. I love you.”
He kissed her damp forehead and then her lips and then stared over at Beverly who was wrapping the new bundle in a warm blanket. ”Let me get this little one cleaned up, and then I’ll bring her right back.”
Deanna stared after her, hardly believing it was really over. “Will, I love you so much. I can't believe this-we have a baby!”
Grinning from ear to ear, Beverly came back into the room with the baby, and a very excited Jean-Luc following behind her. ”Captain! Thanks for coming. Have you...?”
”Seen your daughter? Yes Number One, and I must say, she’s fortunate to have gotten her looks from her mother.”
He silently hoped that his Counselor would know that he was talking about her. Deanna smiled widely and thanked him.
“Let me see her, Beverly.” The tiny infant fit perfectly into her arms, and when two tiny black eyes stared up at her, she felt her heart expand with love. “She‹s beautiful. Gods, Will, she’s perfect.”
Will leaned over and stared into the miniature face. She really was perfect. And beautiful, just like his Imzadi. Just like her mother. Just like...both of them. He realized as he stared at his child that all of the resentment and anger toward the woman who conceived her had diminished. Deanna had somehow found the strength to put the painful episode behind her, and eventually, so had he. Any mixed feelings he'd had about the baby were gone.
”We’re a family, Imzadi. A real family.”
Thinking of the brutal fate they'd spared the child from, he smiled. “Yes, a real family.” Just as she would've wanted it.