A Hand In Fate

A Hand In Fate

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Summary

Crusher becomes a victim of sexual abuse. Picard intervenes and unearths a terrible plot.

Summary

Crusher becomes a victim of sexual abuse. Picard intervenes and unearths a terrible plot.

Chapter1 (v.1) - A Hand In Fate

Author Chapter Note

Crusher becomes a victim of sexual abuse. Picard intervenes and unearths a terrible plot.

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 17, 2012

Reads: 1085

Comments: 1

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 17, 2012

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A Hand In Fate.

Beverly Crusher, CMO of the Starship Enterprise sighed as she listened to her best friend and CO, Captain Jean-Luc Picard. He scowled down at his croissant, applying butter in short angry strokes. His obvious annoyance piqued her curiosity and, as she always did, she decided to do a little digging.

“So tell me…what’s wrong with him? You’re acting as if he’s some sort of…monster.”

The Captain’s eyes lifted from his contemplation of his breakfast and he took a moment to settle his anger.

“Beverly look, I’ve heard things about him…unpleasant things. He’s not the sort of officer I want on this ship, albeit even as a short stint as an observer.”

Beverly sipped her coffee thoughtfully and chuckled.

“Admit it Jean-Luc, you don’t want a Commodore looking over your shoulder in any event. What you resent is that Headquarters deemed it necessary to send an observer in the first place. I happen to have heard a few things about Desmond Harris and from what I can tell, he’s quite an accomplished officer.”

Shoving his plate to one side, Jean-Luc picked up his coffee and glared at his CMO.

“Well I’ve heard different.”

The Doctor, warming to the task of baiting her best friend, leaned forward and cupped her chin in her hand.

“Have you ever served with him?”

The Captain sighed and shook his head.

“I’ve not had that pleasure, but friends of mine have informed me he is a tyrant…a stickler for rules, unbending on matters of protocol and rigid beyond the norm. I tell you Beverly he will be a disruptive influence on this ship.”

Unused to hearing her Captain be so negative about any officer, especially a superior one, she decided to drop the subject. That was until Jean-Luc added one final comment.

“And he’s quite the ladies man Beverly. You’d be well advised to stay away from him.”

Now her own anger bubbled up. Looking directly into his eyes, she kept her voice soft.

“You wouldn’t be trying to tell me I can’t make up my own mind on this would you?”

Noting the soft timbre of her words and the hardness in her blue eyes, Jean-Luc held up his hands.

“All I’m doing is warning you. All right?”

Somewhat mollified, Beverly sat back and brushed some crumbs off her lap.

“Very well I will take your concerns under consideration. When is he due to come aboard?”

Jean-Luc stood and dropped his serviette on the table. Tugging down on his tunic, he stretched his neck slightly.

“This afternoon. The Endeavour will rendezvous with us and he will transfer then.”

Seeing that breakfast was over, Beverly stood then, on an impulse, stepped up to her friend and rubbed his arm.

“Don’t worry about me Jean-Luc. I’m a big girl…I can take care of myself.”

He dredged up a smile and snorted when she gently punched his shoulder.

They left his quarters to begin their day.

 

 

 

Later that afternoon, in the inky blackness of space, two bright white starships held a close course together as the transfer of personnel was made. The Captain stood in the Transporter Room with his First Officer, silently mulling over his orders. Will Riker, the tall bearded Commander stood at his Captain’s shoulder frowning as he cast a glance at his taciturn friend and CO.

“Captain Picard? We are receiving a request to beam our guest aboard.”

Nodding curtly to the transporter operator his one word reply was tight.

“Energise.”

The form coalesced on the pad to reveal a tall broad shouldered man of middle age. Dark haired and black of eyes, he stared down at his welcoming party, a small smile present on his square face. Jean-Luc stepped forward and offered his hand.

“Commodore Harris, welcome aboard.”

The officer stepped off the pad and took the Captain’s hand in a firm but brief handshake.

“Captain Picard…it is an…honour to meet you at long last. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

His voice was emotionless and higher pitched than Jean-Luc expected. Not wanting to prolong the moment, he gestured to his companion.

“May I introduce you to my First Officer? Commander…”

“ William Riker, I know. I’ve been looking forward to this Commander. Scuttlebutt has it you host a lively poker game.”

Smiling at the Commodore, Will’s eyes twinkled.

“Yes Sir I do. Perhaps you can join us one night.”

Clapping his hand on Will’s shoulder, Harris chuckled,

“Anyone so keen to get their hands on my credits deserves to be taken down a peg or two. You’re on!”

Softly clearing his throat, Jean-Luc gained their attention.

“Number one please take Commodore Harris to his quarters, then return to the Bridge. I’ll…

“Actually Captain I’d like to come up to the Bridge as soon as possible. I’ll come up with the Commander.”

Bowing his head slightly, Jean-Luc clenched his jaw.

“As you wish Commodore.”

Nodding to both men, the Captain left and the two officers gathered the three bags from the Transporter pad.

Exiting the room, they traversed the corridors in silence until Harris asked,

“Your Captain…is he always so…tight?”

Will grinned broadly and shook his head.

“Oh no Sir. Captain Picard is a very reserved man but once you get to know him he’s warm and friendly.”

“Hmm. He seems to me to be rather stern. He calls you Number One? I haven’t heard a Captain do that in years. Who does he think he is…Nelson?”

A slight frown graced Will’s brow as he detected a note of derision in Harris’ voice. Defending his Captain and friend, he kept his voice even.

“Actually Commodore I kind of like it. It makes me proud that he calls me that and the fact not many other Captain’s call their First Officers by that particular moniker makes it even more…special.”

There were a few moments of silence until they reached their destination. Just before Will opened the doors, Harris muttered,

“It still sounds like an affectation to me.”

Nothing more was said as Will placed the bags in the main room. Not waiting for the usual tour of the quarters, the men hastened from the cabin and made their way to the Bridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc was seated in the command chair and nodded to Will as he took his seat at the Captain’s right. Harris stood directly in front of the Captain, too close for Jean-Luc’s comfort, and put his hands on his hips. Jean-Luc looked up at his guest and composed himself.

“Captain I would like to discuss the mission with you.”

Jean-Luc turned to Will and asked,

“Please assemble the senior staff in the Observation Room. We will…”

Harris shook his head brusquely.

“Belay that Commander. I want to speak with you privately Captain.”

Jean-Luc stared pointedly at the space on the floor between them and Harris snorted and took a step back. The Captain rose to his feet and gestured to the Ready Room.

“After you Commodore.”

As the doors hissed closed, Will stroked his beard and sighed. It was going to be a long three weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc rounded his desk and stood as Harris went to the replicator.

“Can I get you anything Captain?”

“No thank you Sir.”

Gaining a cup of coffee, the Commodore seated himself in front of the Captain and crossed his legs. Jean-Luc sat and waited.

“This is quite a ship Jean-Luc, I’ve never been on a Sovereign class before. Do you miss the ‘D’?”

Relaxing slightly, the Captain found a small smile.

“There are times Commodore, but by and large I’m happy with this ship.”

“So you should be, she’s magnificent. I’ve gone over the service records of your senior staff and I have some questions.”

Curious at the turn the conversation had taken, Jean-Luc raised his eyebrows and said,

“Of course Sir.”

Harris sipped his coffee and took a large breath.

“Your CMO is Doctor Beverly Crusher. Was she not married to a Commander Jack Crusher?”

Frowning, Jean-Luc nodded.

“Yes that is so.”

“Jack Crusher served with you on the Stargazer…he was your First Officer.”

“Yes.”

Another pause was affected as Harris again sipped his drink.

“He died under your command.”

“Yes.”

The Commodore placed his cup in its saucer and placed his hands on the desk.

“And yet we find that his widow serves with you on this ship…and the previous Enterprise. In fact she’s been your CMO for twelve years. Don’t you find that odd?”

Clasping his hands in front of him on the desk, Jean-Luc willed his anger into manageable portions.

“No Sir I do not. Where Doctor Crusher chooses to serve is her business.”

Harris sat back and regarded the Captain with his hard black eyes. Sniffing softly he tilted his head.

“Come now Captain let’s clear the air shall we? What is your relationship with the Doctor?”

His anger now towering, Jean-Luc gritted his teeth.

“Commodore my relationship with Doctor Crusher is, with respect Sir, none of your business.”

Pursing his lips Harris shrugged.

“Very well. What about your First Officer and the Counsellor…Commander Deanna Troi? It’s no secret they had a past relationship and indeed are in a relationship now. Is it normal on this ship for the Command staff to be intimate with each other?”

Wishing to wrap his hands around the man’s neck, Jean-Luc instead rose and went to the replicator for a calming cup of tea. Harris waited as the Captain regained his seat and sipped his brew.

“Well Captain?”

Jean-Luc sighed and stared implacably at his superior.

“Sir I believe we came in here to discuss the mission. Perhaps we should do that?”

Harris picked up his now cool beverage and scowled at the contents.

“As you wish Captain. You have an android serving as Second Officer. Have it supply the latest updates and bring it in.”

Frowning at the cavalier attitude displayed towards Commander Data, Jean-Luc raised his voice.

“Mr.Data please access all relevant information on Terath II and bring it to the Ready Room.”

“Aye Captain.”

Focussing his attention on his guest, Jean-Luc sighed.

“Commander Data’s status as a fully sentient being has been enshrined in Starfleet law, in fact I was instrumental in making it so. Please refer to him by rank or name…not as ‘it’.”

Harris sat back and clasped his hands on his knee.

“Ah yes the hearing with the JAG officer…Captain Phillipa Louvois wasn’t it? She was also the prosecuting officer in your court martial over the loss of the Stargazer. As I understand it, you had quite a fling with her. Tell me Captain, are you in the habit of using former lovers to settle your legal problems?”

With startling speed and grace, Jean-Luc rose to his feet. His outrage was plain on his face and his dark eyes glittered dangerously.

“Commodore Harris I must protest! You have no right…”

Harris held up a hand, a sardonic smile on his face.

“Calm down Jean-Luc! My apologies that may have been out of line. I’m sure as men of the world we have all done things we’re not proud of. Let’s forget it eh?”

Simmering with pent up anger; Jean-Luc sat and fisted his hands. The two men sat in silence until the chime rang.

“Come.”

Data entered and stood at attention before his Captain.

“Report Data.”

“Captain Picard I have amassed a substantial amount of information. Exactly how much do you want Sir?”

Finding a smile, Jean-Luc looked up at his subordinate.

“Only that which is pertinent Mr.Data.”

The pale android hesitated only a moment before plunging into his discourse.

“Terath II is a class M world, one of eight planets in orbit around a dwarf white star. Studies taken by a variety of ships over a period of eighty-five standard years have shown a proto Bolian species. The inhabitants live a peaceful, structured life, attaining sophisticated tool use, complex language structures and a largely agrarian lifestyle. The last vessel to visit…the USS Trieste, was sent seven years ago and noted that the only inhabited land mass, the equatorial continental band, was in the grip of a severe drought. Investigations revealed that the outer of the three moons in orbit around the planet had been involved in a heavy collision with an asteroid, resulting in a subtle shift in its orbit, thus affecting the seasons on the planet. The Trieste noted that the population was suffering and requested assistance from Starfleet. It was decided that the Prime Directive should be invoked and that no assistance would be given.”

Jean-Luc held up his hand, halting the verbose android.

“What of the other land masses Data? Do you think the inhabitants could emigrate to a kinder locale?”

“I do not think that would be viable captain. Due to the distance from their sun, the other land masses are quite inhospitable, and crop growing would be nigh impossible.”

The Captain pursed his lips and sighed.

“Did Counsellor Troi leave any notes before she left for the symposium?”

Data nodded eagerly.

“Yes Captain.”

With great forbearance, Jean-Luc sighed.

“Yes?”

“After consultation with the psychology department at Headquarters, she found that the Betazoid Counsellor on the Trieste was easily able to ‘read’ the population from orbit. He noted that the inhabitants were trying desperately to come up with solutions to their problems, including some remarkable engineering feats, albeit with wood, stone and metal, to channel water from distant sources, including underground. Counsellor Troi stated that these people were intelligent, resourceful and determined and that it would be a great pity if they were simply allowed to perish.”

There was silence then as the three officers digested the information. Jean-Luc glanced at Harris only to see the hard look of resignation on his face. Not wishing to give up just yet, Jean-Luc said softly,

“And what do you think Mr.Data?”

Somewhat surprised by his Captain’s question, Data shrugged.

“It matters not what I think Captain.”

Shaking his head slowly, Jean-Luc continued in his soft deep voice.

“It matters to me Data. Are there any options?”

His pupils contracting, Data raised his eyebrows.

“I had devoted some…extraneous thought to the problem Captain.”

“And?”

“Well Sir, in the interim it would be a simple matter to create, then seed some cloud, producing the required rain. In the long term we could put a weather regulator in orbit to sustain a viable weather pattern. It is also within our capabilities to rectify the lunar orbit, although that would take considerably more of our resources.”

Harris slapped his hand down on the desk.

“Preposterous! This case hasn’t altered in any way since it was first noted. The Prime Directive explicitly forbids us to interfere in any non-warp culture. This is a cut-and-dried situation!”

Ignoring his superior, Jean-Luc aimed his enquiry at Data.

“Tell me Data, what would the population make of the weather grid when they eventually found it?”

Data thought for a moment before allowing a small smile.

“Well Captain, presuming they would have achieved space travel by that stage, they may conclude that some benevolent, well-meaning people decided to give them aid at a crucial time in their history.”

His voice soft, the Captain almost whispered,

“Yes I suppose they would.”

Harris shook his head brusquely.

“Captain Picard! Please tell me you’re not considering this…this…folly?”

Dragging his eyes to the incensed man, Jean-Luc sighed.

“Not really Commodore, but I must admit to being tempted. I…”

“Enough Picard! This discussion is closed and you Commander Data, are dismissed!”

When the android had left, Harris stood and leaned over the desk, once again invading Jean-Luc’s personal space.

“I thought better of you Picard. That was a blatant display of flouting Starfleet policy in front of a junior officer and I am informing you that I intend to enter your indiscretion in my personal log.”

Jean-Luc looked calmly up at the Commodore and said softly,

“So noted Sir.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The senior staff were in attendance for the briefing at oh eight hundred the next morning. Everyone was seated except Beverly and Commodore Harris. They eventually arrived five minutes late, Beverly earning a stern look from her Captain. The fact that the two had entered laughing, with the Commodore’s arm draped across the Doctor’s shoulders did little to alleviate the Captain’s mood. Beverly had missed breakfast with him that morning, citing a medical emergency and he sorely missed starting his day in the gentle company of his best friend.

Beverly reddened slightly and sinuously disengaged the errant arm. Harris grinned wolfishly and winked as she took her seat, turning his head to face Jean-Luc.

“I’m sorry we’re late Captain, I pulled a muscle in the gym this morning and the good Doctor was kind enough to see me in Sickbay.”

With a forced smile at his superior, Jean-Luc bowed his head slightly then cleared his throat, bringing the meeting to order.

“I would hope, by now, that you have all brought yourselves up to speed on the situation on Terath II. It has been…recently reinforced that the Prime Directive will take precedence in this matter. To that end, I propose we…”

Beverly snorted and slapped her PADD down on the obsidian tabletop.

Effectively silenced, a tightly annoyed Captain turned his attention to his CMO.

“You have something you wish to say Doctor?”

“Captain we cannot simply turn our backs on these people! We’re talking about three million beings…sentient, intelligent…blameless beings that will die a horrible, lingering death through no fault of their own! For God’s sake…it would be tantamount to murder.”

Jean-Luc closed his eyes and sighed.

“Doctor Crusher…I understand your…”

Beverly huffed and sat back in her seat, glaring at her best friend.

“I’ve spoken with Data and Geordi…what’s so wrong with the weather grid idea? By the time they discovered it they would be on the cusp of space travel themselves! Where’s the harm? I believe…”

Harris shook his head and barked,

“Is every officer on this ship so cavalier Captain? I see your example has infected your crew.”

Turning to Beverly, Harris all but sneered.

“There will be no weather grid Doctor! Those people, as unfortunate as it is, will die and we will do nothing to stop it. This is a very large universe and in it all sorts of things happen, both tragic and miraculous. I would’ve thought Doctor, that with your training, you would more easily assimilate the concept of the randomness of life. In this matter you will follow my orders and…”

Jean-Luc’s voice was deceptively soft, a sure sign of suppressed anger.

“Commodore may I remind you that you are aboard this ship as an observer. I am in command of the Enterprise and Doctor Crusher will obey my orders.”

The Commodore’s mouth snapped shut and he glared at the Captain. Squaring his shoulders and fisting his hands, he ground out,

“Very well Captain.”

Jean-Luc took a large breath and regarded his assembled staff.

“Commander Riker what is our ETA at Terath?”

“Seventeen hours Sir.”

Jean-Luc nodded decisively.

“Mr.Data, Geordi on our achieving orbit, I want you to continue your scans of the planet. I want to know just how much longer these people have. Will, initiate a theoretical scenario, one where a weather grid is put in orbit and extrapolate how long the computer estimates it will take the population…should they survive, to make it into space to find it. Then I want you to contact Headquarters and put it through to the Ready Room, I’ll be there shortly.”

He looked around the table, noting with satisfaction that his trusted officers were at their usual level of attention.

“If that is all? Dismissed. Doctor Crusher would you stay a moment please?”

The other officers filed out and Beverly had the good grace to bow her head, hiding behind the curtain if her vibrant red hair. When the room had emptied, Jean-Luc said gently,

“I missed you this morning.”

He was greeted with silence.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were treating the Commodore?”

Lifting her head and giving it a slight shake to settle her hair, the Doctor arched an eyebrow.

“I would’ve thought that was obvious.”

Jean-Luc sighed and shook his own head. With a wry smile he asked,

“Did you think I’d be jealous?”

Beverly’s eyes twinkled and her grin was mischievous.

“Are you?”

He leaned closer and gently grasped her hands.

“Would it matter if I said yes? Would it matter if I told you I didn’t like seeing the way you two were together when you arrived for the briefing, that I didn’t like the way your cheeks were flushed and your eyes were dancing?”

Her whispered plea went unheard.

“Don’t Jean-Luc…”

“It matters to me Beverly…it matters a lot.”

Freeing herself from his hands, the Doctor left him to stand at the viewport, her back to him. He slowly stepped up to her and she felt his warm breath on her neck as he spoke in his gentle baritone.

“If I told you it didn’t hurt to see you with someone else it would be a lie. But for God’s sake Beverly…not him. Please…not him.”

She spun suddenly and he saw the anger in her eyes.

“Don’t do this to me dammit! I will see whomever I damn well please and I’ll do it without the guilt trip!”

She stalked past him and left the room, the doors sighing shut the only sound in the otherwise silent space. Jean-Luc turned and looked out at the stars, anger and heartache simmering just under his outwardly calm surface.

 

 

 

 

 

Beverly’s arrival at Sickbay caused some alarm. She marched straight to her office, ignoring her staff, locked the door then promptly picked up and threw a stylus across the room. Slumping down into her chair, she propped her elbows on the desk and settled her head in her hands entwining her fingers in her hair.

“Damn him! Who the hell does he think he Is?!”

For ten minutes she raged silently not willing to admit the only reason she was so angry with Jean-Luc was because she loved him, something she had been denying for many years. She knew he loved her, had done for so many years, but she wouldn’t give in to her feelings…not now, maybe not ever. Tears welled up and spilled down her cheeks, a sob hitching in her throat. Her door chime went unanswered the first two times it rang, but the third broke through her funk. Sitting up and wiping at her red eyes, she pushed her hair back and cleared her throat.

“Come in.”

A disembodied voice came through the overhead speaker.

“It’s locked.”

“Oh! Hang on…”

The Doctor rose quickly and pressed the release, allowing the doors to slide open. She was shocked to be confronted by a concerned Commodore Harris. His eyes swept over her face, taking in her tearstained cheeks and red eyes. Tenderly he reached up and pushed an errant wisp of hair behind her ear.

“What is it Beverly?”

She turned and sought the safety of her chair, putting the desk between them and separating herself from his overpowering presence.

“It’s nothing Commodore…I’m just a little emotional right now.”

He came further into the room and sat, his black eyes never leaving her.

“Nonsense Beverly…something has upset you…or perhaps someone?”

Acquiring a tissue, Beverly delicately blew her nose and raised a small sigh. Before she could respond, Harris pressed on.

“What did he say to you to upset you so?”

Her heart thudded in her chest as she looked at the handsome man sitting in front of her. His voice, though unpleasantly high pitched, oozed concern and Beverly felt herself helplessly drawn to him.

“Really Commodore…it’s…”

“It’s Desmond Beverly and don’t tell me it’s nothing, I don’t believe you. Now tell me…what did he say to you?”

Her fidgeting hands tore the tissue in half as she floundered for a reply.

“Look…Desmond…it’s a long story. We have this…history…we go back a long way. Sometimes we get too close and…”

“And he’s jealous.”

Beverly didn’t see the unpleasant grin on the man’s face; her attention was on her wringing hands. If she had it would’ve given her cause for thought.

“Well my dear Doctor you’re an adult and I believe you have the right to see whomever you wish…that is as long as you want to?”

Beverly looked up only to see resolute concern in his eyes. Nodding, she found a smile.

He reached across the desk and wrapped his hands around hers, stilling their restless dance.

“In that case…have dinner with me tonight.”

Her refusal teetered on the tip of her tongue…she came so close to saying no…but he delivered the coup-de-grace.

“After all, I’m sure a feisty woman like you can make up her own mind in these matters…it’s not as if you require permission.”

Her face softened and her smile grew. A chuckle of wicked delight erupted from her lips and colour flushed her cheeks.

“Yes.”

He quirked an eyebrow and tilted his head.

“Yes? To what?”

“Yes I’ll have dinner with you.”

He released her hands and sat back in his chair, a self-satisfied grin on his face.

“Excellent! I’ll pick you up at nineteen thirty sharp. And Beverly…wear something…slinky.”

Her eyes smouldered and the tip of her tongue darted out to wet her lips. Nodding her acquiescence, she sat back to watch him rise from his chair and leave her office. She retired to her private bathroom to wash her face and brush her hair. When she came out she was humming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc waited patiently at his Ready Room desk and, although outwardly he appeared calm, inside a storm raged.

“Fuck! She can be so bloody pig headed! Why…oh why is it that the only emotion I seem to be able to inspire in her is anger? No good can come of this…she’ll get hurt…shattered most likely and he’ll drop her like a stone when he’s finished with her. And once again I’ll have to pick up the damn pieces. Fuck! What a cock up!”

His angry ruminations were cut short by a hail from the Bridge.

“Captain Picard I have Admiral Handorff on line for you.”

“Thank you, I’ll take it in here.”

“Very good Sir, rerouting now.”

Jean-Luc pressed the activator on his terminal and focussed his attention on the screen. The Starfleet logo gave way to reveal and old friend, Kurt Handorff.

“Hello Jean-Luc. How’s our most illustrious Captain these days?”

A self-depreciating smile on his face, Jean-Luc chuckled.

“Hello Kurt, I’m fine. How’s Emma?”

The greying man smiled softly and sat back, patting his ample girth.

“As you can plainly see, her strudel is still as good as always. She told me to tell you that you owe her a…Timmorian Rising Glimmer. Would you care to enlighten me?”

Reddening slightly, Jean-Luc cleared his throat and tried to cover his embarrassment.

“Unfortunately Kurt, Emma’s memory is as sharp as ever. A TRG was the ultimate gadget every up and coming young male officer wanted. Emma found out about them and asked me to…acquire one for her. I believe she wanted it for you.”

The Admiral frowned and blew out his ruddy cheeks.

“All right I can accept that…but what the hell is a TRG?”

Sighing and rubbing his hand over his face, Jean-Luc swallowed.

“It’s a sex toy Kurt.”

The older man’s eyes widened and his mouth gaped.

“And Emma wanted one…for me?”

Stifling his laughter, the Captain managed,

“Well this was over thirty years ago Kurt. As I said, Emma has a very long memory.”

Gathering his dignity, the Admiral straightened the PADDs in front of him and sniffed loudly.

“Yes…well. What can I do for you my friend?”

All levity gone, Jean-Luc’s face became serious.

“Are you aware of our current mission?”

“Yes I am. You’re investigating the situation on Terath II.”

Jean-Luc sat back and clasped his hands on the desktop. Nodding, he frowned.

“And are you aware Admiral, of our observer?”

Kurt’s face darkened, his mouth curling in distaste.

“Commodore Desmond Harris.”

“Precisely. Admiral we have a problem here. Although on the surface this appears to be a simple matter of invoking the Prime Directive, I have been given some options…some solutions that are rapidly becoming somewhat…attractive.”

Admiral Handorff sat forward and frowned deeply.

“Are you suggesting ignoring the Prime Directive?”

Jean-Luc sighed and watched his friend in silence for a few minutes, a ghost of a smile on his face.

“Are you willing to listen to what I have to say…and give me an unbiased hearing?”

It was the Admiral’s turn to regard the Captain. With a determined nod, Handorff barked,

“Computer encrypt current transmission, level four. Authorisation Handorff delta two eight.”

“Encrypted.”

“All right Jean-Luc, let’s hear it.”

“Ostensibly we have two options with which we can save three million people. One is to re-align the errant moon. That would be difficult and time consuming. The other, and my personal recommendation, is to create, in the short term, rain for the planet and then, install an orbiting weather grid to initiate a regular weather pattern.”

Handorff sat back and scratched his chin.

“Why Jean-Luc? Why are you willing to go out on a limb for these people? It’s not as if we haven’t been faced with this sort of sad situation before. I would be the last person to lecture you on the sanctity of the Prime Directive and why it is so imperative we uphold it.”

The Captain sighed and ran a hand over his bald pate.

“Kurt these people are peaceful, intelligent, resourceful and determined. I believe in time they will make it into space if given the chance. If you were in their shoes and achieved that momentous leap, what would you think when you discovered an automated weather grid in orbit?”

The Admiral’s eyebrows rose as he considered the question. Sighing, he began to see Jean-Luc’s point.

“I suppose I would be gob smacked…then I would access the history files and probably make the connection between the end of the drought and the age of the grid. From that I would extrapolate that someone, somehow helped my planet during a time of great need.”

Jean-Luc smiled and sighed.

“My thoughts exactly. Now do you think that scenario would irrevocably alter space or time?”

The Admiral snarled.

“You know I can’t answer that! What if a survivor of that race went on to become the next Karl Noonien Singh or...?”

Jean-Luc held up his hand.

“Granted Admiral but by the same token what if, in their demise, we lose the next Einstein of our time? There is no logical answer to this conundrum. We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. All I’m asking is permission to try.”

The Admiral sat back and loosened his fisted hands. Sighing he slowly blinked.

“If it were anyone but you I would reject this out of hand.”

He shook his head and rubbed his face with his hands.

“Look, let me talk to a few people and I’ll get back to you, but my friend, don’t get your hopes up. This is quite a can of worms.”

Jean-Luc smiled and nodded.

“Thank you Kurt. All I ask is a fair hearing. Picard out.”

The Captain sat back, raised his arms above his head and stretched. Checking his terminal and finalising his work, he left the Ready Room and took his place on the Bridge.

“Well my dear Commodore…we shall see.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beverly leaned forward and squinted in the light of her bathroom mirror. Applying the mascara in deft even strokes, she blinked rapidly and stepped back to study her reflection.

“Hmm, not bad. Now just a touch of blusher…”

With her makeup finished she entered her bedroom and stood before the full-length mirror. Turning from side to side, she smoothed the lustrous blue material of her form-fitting evening dress and slid her hands over her flat stomach. Nodding with determined satisfaction, she glided into the living room and sat on the sofa to put on the matching blue sandals. Just as she settled the straps, the door annunciator sounded. Butterflies took to flight in her stomach and she sighed.

“Well it’s now or never!”

Standing, she adopted a feminine pose and called softly,

“Come in.”

The doors parted to reveal a vision of masculine urbanity. Harris was dressed in a black tuxedo, his snowy white shirt and black bow tie emphasising his height and strength. He stepped into Beverly’s cabin and swept his eyes hungrily over her stunning form.

“Well Hot Shot…you scrub up nicely.”

Beverly’s eyebrow rose archly at the comment and she took a few sultry steps towards him.

“Hot Shot? Is that to be my nickname?”

As she came closer, he could smell her perfume. He lifted his head and looked down at her, a predatory smile on his face.

“Nicknames are usually earned. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Beverly stood in front of him and absently ran her finger up the lapel of his jacket.

“So…where are we going?”

He offered his arm and gestured to the door.

“Holodeck four. I’ve programmed something I think you’ll like, at least I like it.”

Smiling, Beverly and Harris left her quarters and walked slowly to their destination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a tired Captain that approached his quarters. He was just about to enter when an insistent voice stilled his feet.

“Captain! Captain Picard!”

He raised his head and frowned as a Lieutenant came jogging towards him. Before the young man could speak, Jean-Luc adopted his Command persona and grilled the youngster with a withering glare.

“Would you care to tell me why you felt the need to run through the corridors?”

Looking pointedly at the wall display, he emphasised his question by adding,

“There doesn’t appear to be a red alert in progress.”

Coming immediately to attention, the Lieutenant swallowed nervously.

“I’m sorry Captain. I asked the computer where you were and when I found you were approaching your quarters I wanted to catch you before you entered.”

Jean-Luc sighed and relented.

“Very well Lieutenant…Paull isn’t it?”

“Yes Sir, Adam Paull.”

Doing his best to hide his tiredness, The Captain focussed his attention on the junior officer and attempted to appear interested.

“What can I do for you?”

The young man blushed and shifted his feet.

“Well Sir I…I…that is, well you…”

Jean-Luc closed his eyes briefly and folded his arms across his chest.

“Lieutenant take a big breath and calm down.”

The flustered officer did as his Captain suggested and licked his lips.

“The thing is Captain…I write music. I also play the flute and I write music for that instrument. I was told you play a flute too and I thought…maybe…Captain Picard would you like to play along with me…try my new pieces?”

The gentle smile was slow emerging but the young man relaxed a little when he saw it. Jean-Luc’s eyes twinkled as he replied,

“I would like that Lieutenant. Tomorrow morning send me your schedule and I will see if I can arrange some time to suit us both.”

The look of gratitude that swept over Adam’s face warmed the tired man. The grin was irrepressible as the officer nodded enthusiastically.

“Thank you Captain I’ll look forward to it. Goodnight Sir.”

Jean-Luc smiled and nodded, turning to his door. He stepped closer and the entrance opened, it was then he noticed the Lieutenant was still standing in the corridor, watching him. Casting a glance in his direction, Jean-Luc was sure he was standing a little taller. Still, the Captain was curious.

“Lieutenant…was there something else?”

With an embarrassed smile the young man shook his head.

“No Captain. I just wanted to see you safely into your quarters.”

Suppressing the smile that threatened to break free, Jean-Luc made a show of looking around himself before again facing his protector.

“Everything seems to be in order Lieutenant. I think I can manage.”

The grin grew impossibly wider as the obviously hero-struck youngster nodded.

“Yes Sir.”

Sighing, Jean-Luc entered his quarters and the doors sighed closed. He walked to the viewports and lifted his head.

“Computer is there anyone standing outside my quarters?”

“Negative.”

He sighed and shook his head.

“Thank God for small mercies.”

With no interest in food, he wandered to the replicator and called up a cup of Earl Grey tea. Taking it to the low table, he sat in his favourite chair and toed off his boots, placing his feet on the table and resting his head back on the cushion, he allowed his eyes to drift closed. Keeping his eyes closed he raised his voice slightly.

“Computer where is Doctor Crusher?”

“Doctor Crusher is on Holodeck four.”

The man sighed and frowned.

“Is she alone?”

“Negative.”
”Who is she with?”

“Commodore Harris.”

Jean-Luc scowled and sighed again.

“Damn!”

The dinner had been delightful. The locale was a romantic bistro on the banks of the Seine. They had dined sumptuously then danced under subdued lighting in the outdoor courtyard. As they strolled through the corridors, Beverly leaned on his shoulder, her arm resting in the crook of his. Silence followed them as the walked; the crewmembers they encountered were ignored. By silent agreement they went to Beverly’s quarters and stopped at her door.

“I’ve had a lovely time tonight Desmond.”

The tall man picked up her hand and softly kissed her palm.

“It need not be over.”

Beverly smiled and tilted her head, her eyes twinkling.

“What did you have in mind?”

He leaned forward slowly and Beverly thought he was going to kiss her neck. Instead he whispered in her ear,

“Well we could have a nightcap and see what happens.”

He was so close, the warmth of his body mixed with his aftershave, caused the red head to close her eyes. Turning her head, she placed a gentle kiss to his cheek.

“Maybe next time.”

He straightened and looked down at her. She was startled to see a flicker of anger spark in his eyes but it was gone so quickly she had to ask herself if she really saw it. Schooling his face into a jovial visage, he grinned and winked.

“OK Hot Shot. I may be busy the next few days, how about we have dinner again the night after next?”

Beverly smiled and ran her hands up his chest.

“I’d like that, and this time I’ll pick the restaurant.”

His eyes locked on to hers and he lowered his head, their lips meeting in a soft kiss.

“You’re on. Goodnight Hot Shot.”

“Goodnight Desmond…and thank you.”

He waited until she was in her quarters then he spun on his heel and marched to his cabin, his mouth a grim line, his eyes flat and hard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning found Jean-Luc, Will and Data bending over the science station at the back of the Bridge. The Captain sensed the person standing behind him; he also smelled his cloying aftershave. Straightening, the Captain turned.

“Commodore.”

Harris nodded curtly then insinuated himself between the officers and looked at the information on the screen. It took several minutes, but Jean-Luc could see the anger building in the officer. Harris straightened and jabbed an accusing finger at the screen.

“What’s the meaning of this?”

Jean-Luc kept his voice low, his tone even.

“That Commodore is the preliminary schematics for a theoretical weather grid for Terath II.”

His high-pitched voice rose, taking on a whining quality.

“This is useless Picard! Why waste ship’s resources on unnecessary and fatuous whims? I thought we’d settled this. There will be no weather grid Picard, as regrettable as it is we must let the population die…we have no choice!”

Drawing himself to attention, Jean-Luc said softly,

“Will you join me in the Ready Room please Commodore?”

Glaring at the Captain, Harris flexed his jaw and brusquely nodded. In icy silence the two men made their way to Jean-Luc’s office. The second the doors sighed closed, Harris rounded on the Captain.

“Picard do you understand the chain of command? I explicitly ordered the invocation of the Prime Directive in this matter. What the hell are you pussy footing around with pie-in-the-sky schemes for when you already have your orders?”

Jean-Luc concentrated on keeping an even temper. He walked behind his desk and waited politely until his superior sat, then seated himself. Clasping his hands on the desktop, Jean-Luc took a large breath.

“Commodore last night I contacted Headquarters and spoke with Admiral Handorff. I explained the situation and asked him if our options could be considered in this case. His response was that he wished to discuss it further with others and he advised me he would get back to me. To that end, with no definitive order preventing it, I have proceeded to explore the efficacy of designing a weather grid.”

Harris’ face blanched making his black eyes even darker. In an outraged whisper he hissed,

“You went over my head? How dare you!”

The Captain stood his ground.

“Sir I am, as Captain of this ship, within my rights to seek clarification of any order that effectively impacts on three million people. This situation is too important to be arbitrarily ignored.”

Seeing his words were having little effect, Jean-Luc sighed.

“I’m sorry Commodore…I had to.”

Harris stood and walked stiffly to the model starship on the counter. His silence worried the Captain but he had no alternative but to wait. When he spoke, the Commodore’s voice was stained.

“My Jean-Luc you have taken the moral high ground haven’t you? Am I right in presuming Admiral Handorff is an old friend?”

Jean-Luc closed his eyes briefly and nodded.

“As a matter of fact, yes he is.”

“Then I am to assume the people he will…discuss this with are also known to you?”

“I could not say Sir.”

Harris turned and his dead black eyes bored into Jean-Luc.

“You could not say? Oh come now Captain…please no false modesty. We both know you have many powerful friends, both in Starfleet and on the Federation Council and please…don’t tell me you’re not above using them when you see fit.”

About to protest, Jean-Luc rose to his feet. Harris held up a hand and shook his head.

“No don’t bother Picard. You may think you’ve out manoeuvred me but I assure you I will have the last say in this!”

Closing his eyes, Jean-Luc sighed.

“Commodore can’t you see that we are trying to prevent the wholesale destruction of an entire species? This is above politics, and certainly above egos. If you would only reconsider…”

Harris strode to the desk and pounded his fist angrily.

“That is enough Picard! You may think you can hoodwink me with flowery speeches but I know you! Somehow you’ve found a way to profit from this little game and I intend to find out exactly how.”

The Commodore straightened and glared at Jean-Luc for a moment before stalking from the room. The Captain sat heavily and shook his head.

“Fatuous idiot!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next night Will, Beverly, Geordi and Data were in Will’s quarters for their regular poker night. The mood was happy, all the officers relaxed and enjoying each other’s company. The door chime came unexpectedly. Will turned his head, frowning slightly.

“Come on in.”

The doors opened and Harris stepped in. Beverly frowned and flushed slightly, her reaction not lost on the Commodore.

“I’m not intruding am I? I heard there was a game on and decided you all needed a lesson in superior tactics.”

Will grinned and got up to secure another seat. Placing it at the table, he gestured grandly.

“All right by me…if you’re game, so are we.”

Data supplied the newcomer with some chips and Will explained the game.

“Five card stud.”

Harris made a show of rubbing his hands together and grinned at the players.

“Do your damnedest.”

They played a few hands and quickly discovered Harris was utterly ruthless. His face was inscrutable, his manner brusque. Only between hands would he indulge in conversation, whilst he played, he was totally absorbed. After one particularly intense hand, in which all but Harris and Will had folded, Harris scowled and threw down his cards in disgust when Will successfully called his bluff.

“Damn you Commander! You’ll pay for that!”

The players were startled and looked nervously at each other. Seeing their reaction, Harris slapped his hand loudly on the table and laughed heartily.

“Oh come on…lighten up! I was joking.”

The smiles were a little slow in emerging but within minutes the incident was forgotten.

Beverly gathered the cards and began to shuffle. With a sly look, she muttered to Harris, who was seated beside her,

“I thought you said you’d be busy tonight?”

He lowered his head as his fingers slid from her knee to her thigh. The others were involved in a lively post mortem of the last hand and were unaware of the byplay.

“I said I may be busy. As it turned out I found myself free and asked the computer where you were.”

The Doctor smiled and leaned closer to him.

“So are you here for the poker, or to be with me?”

His wandering hand squeezed the muscle of her upper thigh.

“I would’ve thought that was obvious. You left me in quite a state last night.”

Beverly’s delighted snicker caused the others to stop their conversation and look at her. Reddening, she cleared her throat and dealt the cards.

“Right! The game is Federation, kings and queens are wild and the sky’s the limit.”

Will chuckled and shook his head.

“You should be ashamed of yourself Beverly, taking the Captain’s words so brazenly.”

She grinned up at her friend and shook her head.

“Hey it worked for him!”

Harris stifled the scowl that threatened and kept his voice friendly.

“I wouldn’t have thought the Captain was a card player. Does he join you often?”

Will studied his cards and said with some degree of awe,

“He’s phenomenal! Best poker face I’ve ever come across and wily…Captain Picard is a consummate poker player.”

Beverly’s chuckle made Will scowl.

“The Captain has taken the good Commander to the cleaners on more than one occasion. In fact it’s a pity he’s not here tonight, Will’s been far too successful for my liking.”

Harris forced a smile and shook his head.

“Well I must say I’m surprised. Men like Captain Picard are often too repressed to interact with their crew.”

Data looked up from his cards and tilted his head.

“The Captain is not repressed Commodore, he is simply a very private person. Over the years we, that is the Command Staff, have grown quite close to him He is a remarkable man and a superlative officer.”

Harris stared coldly at the android then lowered his eyes to study his cards. Will broke the awkward silence that followed.

“Well I’m in for twenty. Anybody else?”

That hand and many others were played, the officers relaxing and enjoying themselves. Late in the evening, Geordi stretched and stifled a yawn.

“OK that’s me for the night…I’m bushed.”

He stood and waited while Data stood with him.

“I too must be going. I promised Lieutenant Brooks I would be available for consultation on her helm studies. She is on Gamma shift and will not be relieved until oh seven thirty.”

Will looked up at his friends and smiled.

“OK, see you in the morning. Don’t forget we have a briefing at eight.”

The departing officers bid them goodnight and left. Will, Harris and Beverly filled their glasses and sat back in their chairs.

Harris sipped his drink then addressed Will.

“So what do you think about the current mission?”

Will’s fingers slowly turned his glass as he contemplated the liquid. Keeping his head lowered his voice was soft.

“Commodore…I’m with the Captain on this one. We can’t let three million people…”

“What!?” Spat the Commodore.

“And what of the Prime Directive? Are we to simply ignore it every time we’re confronted by something that makes us uncomfortable?”

Beverly gently placed her hand on his forearm.

“Commodore we understand fully the ramifications of what we’re proposing. It’s just that these people have so much promise! Three million souls Commodore…can’t you see...?”

He stood abruptly and scowled down at the other two.

“I am appalled! You…both of you took an oath to uphold Starfleet policy…what of that? What of your integrity?”

Beverly looked up at the angry man and said quietly,

“It’s our integrity that has caused this conundrum. If we didn’t care about what we do, we’d have no problem with it. Your displeasure is understandable Commodore, but I…we…sometimes have to make a stand and question the rules. We’re not automatons, we’re thinking, feeling Human beings with a mind of our own. The Captain’s actions reflect this, and I, for one, say good on him.”

His cold black eyes made her shudder involuntarily. Straightening his spine, he lifted his chin defiantly.

“Very well, I see that he has corrupted you both. Commander, Doctor.”
He nodded to them both then walked stiffly from the room. Once the doors had closed Beverly sighed.

“He’s as stubborn as Jean-Luc! No wonder they don’t get along.”

Will reached over and clasped her hands.

“Rumour has it you’re seeing Harris socially. Do you think that’s wise?”

Beverly snatched her hands back and glared at the big man.

“Now don’t you start!”

His eyes wide, Will raised his hands in surrender.

“Whoa! Hey come on Beverly…I’m on your side.”

The red head stood and fisted her hands on her hips. She snorted and glared icily down at her friend.

“Well mind your own bloody business then.”

His mouth agape, still with his hands raised, Will could only nod.

“OK.”

Taking pity on him, Beverly relaxed and lowered her head.

“Oh Will I’m sorry, it’s just that Jean-Luc tried the same tactic and I did to him what I just did to you. I guess I don’t take to being told how to run my private life.”

Will stroked his beard and shook his head.

“Do tell?”

The Doctor walked around the table and patted his broad shoulder.

“Look…I promise to be careful, ok?”

He reached up and gripped her hand, then stood to face her.

“I would be a liar if I said I was happy, but I concede…it’s your life. Just be on your guard Beverly…there’s something about Harris…”

Will shrugged and found a smile.

Beverly tapped the tip of his nose and chuckled.

“Admit it Will, you’re all pent up and tense because a certain Betazoid isn’t on board. If Deanna was here you wouldn’t be so…big brotherly.”

He sighed and touched his forehead to hers.

“You’re right of course. God I miss her.”

“Well it’s only two more weeks. Hang in there Will, she’ll be home before you know it.”

He stood back and grinned at his friend. Nodding, he walked her to the door.

“Thank you Beverly, and good night.”

She left and Will took his time packing up the cards and chips, his mind mulling over the problem Harris presented.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning Jean-Luc was seated at his dining table frowning at the rapidly cooling croissants. He sipped his coffee and was about to query the computer again when his door chimed.

“Come.”

Beverly breezed in, her lab coat folded over her arm and her hair in an uncharacteristic ponytail. The flustered woman took her seat and cleared her throat softly.

“I’m sorry I’m late Jean-Luc.”

In silence he rose gracefully and took the plate of now cold croissants to the recycler and disposed of them. His voice deep and controlled, he ordered some more and said nothing further as he brought the pastries to the table. Beverly watched him intently as he selected a croissant and tore it apart. He was reaching for the butter when she spoke.

“OK, what’s up?”

He paused in his action and regarded her with innocence.

“I beg your pardon?”

The Doctor frowned and huffed.

“Come on…why the silent treatment?”

He raised his eyebrows and continued to butter his pastry.

“I wasn’t aware that I…”

“Jean-Luc! For God’s sake get off your high horse and just tell me why you’re upset with me.”

His face hardened and he made an effort to put his knife down gently.

“When you were late I asked the computer where you were.”

Now Beverly’s face showed the beginnings of anger.

“So you found I was in the gym with Desmond? What of it? What business is it of yours?”

Keeping himself calm with increasing difficulty, Jean-Luc picked up his knife and made a show of spreading raspberry jam on his croissant. He took the time to bite and chew, all the while cognizant of Beverly’s irritation. After he swallowed, he picked up his coffee and paused with the cup half way to his mouth.

“I find it troubling that, despite my explicit warnings, you seek to establish a relationship of some sort with the Commodore.”

Beverly closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. Sighing, she shook her head.

“Look we’ve been through this Jean-Luc. I thought we’d agreed that I’m old enough…and wise enough to run my own life.”

His silence saddened her.

“Jean-Luc…not that it’s any of your concern…this isn’t anything of any significance! We’re just enjoying each other’s company, a dinner here, a poker game there and maybe a little early morning workout. Really, it’s nothing.”

He looked at her and his face softened. Of all the women he’d ever met, only this one could melt his heart with just so much as a glance. He summoned a brave smile and nodded.

“Very well Beverly I will say


© Copyright 2018 Heather Smyth. All rights reserved.

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