Across The Void Pt.4

Across The Void Pt.4

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Summary

Same as Pt.1

Summary

Same as Pt.1

Chapter1 (v.1) - Across The Void Pt.4

Author Chapter Note

Same as Pt.1

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 16, 2013

Reads: 197

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 16, 2013

A A A

A A A

 

 

 

Her work on Devarun IV was exhausting. Several Doctors from many species were working together and eventually a successful treatment was devised for the disease.

She was there a total of two and a half months. At the completion of her work, she garnered passage on an Andorian vessel to sector six eight five. There her enquiries had uncovered a group of Doctors attempting to overcome the effects on the population of a small planet who were suffering a form of radiation sickness, caused when the system’s sun entered a phase of unprecedented activity.

Having given herself preventative treatments, she beamed down and started work almost immediately. Over nine weeks, she not only aided in the management of the patients, she also was instrumental in discovering an effective method of treatment for the insidious burns that were an unpleasant symptom of the radiation sickness.

As soon as it seemed they had got on top of the situation, she left. Taking a great risk, she managed to talk a Cardassian supply ship to take her into the Farren expanse. There she had learned of a population that was experiencing an inexplicable rise in birth defects. Preliminary research had been unable to shed any light on the situation and she was welcomed with open arms.

Every time she felt the bottomless sorrow threaten to overwhelm her, she buried herself deeper in her work and every time the restlessness ate at her she ran, seeking another cause, closing her mind and heart to what was really at the crux of her unending sorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In all, it had been eleven months since Beverly’s departure. The Enterprise was in orbit around Settyn, a planet only recently recovered from civil war. In a surprising twist, the overlords of the ruling clans had requested to join the Federation but, as Jean-Luc was soon to discover, their motives for such a move were not what could be called benevolent.

“And I’m telling you they are excrement! You should have destroyed them when you had the chance!”

Jean-Luc fisted his hands and clenched his jaw.

“Premier I have already explained…twice…that genocide is considered an atrocity by the Federation and is not something that would ever be considered.”

Another large man stood, his growl laced with derision.

“And what of the Borg Picard? Are you telling me, if given the chance, your Federation wouldn’t eradicate them?”

Closing his eyes briefly and sighing, Jean-Luc struggled to keep calm.

“I agree that the Borg are an ongoing threat, but to date we have managed to hold them off. I can only hope that further research will provide us with the technology we need to protect ourselves from them.”

The standing Premier snarled.

“Technology you will share with us!”

Nodding, the Captain replied,

“Yes. If you join the Federation you will have access to all our technology.”

The first man grunted and slammed his fist on the table.

“I still say we should use all our efforts to rid the galaxy of the Cardassians once and for all! Over the past fifty years they have been a thorn in our side. They raid our outlying colonies, they attack our ships…I’m telling you they are worthless. No one will miss them!”

His voice rising, the Captain ground out,

“And I’m telling you that will not happen! Since the Dominion war the Cardassian Union has undergone a fundamental change. They are not the same as they once were and I would seriously doubt they will be a concern to you in the future.”

A female Premier stood and placed her hands on the table. As large as her male counterparts and just as belligerent, she leaned forward and glared at the Captain.

“Then what is the point of joining your Federation if we can’t use the technology to eliminate our enemies?”

About to answer her, Jean-Luc was cut off by yet another Premier.

“And what of the clans? You say we have to share what the Federation gives equally? That is utterly preposterous! My clan has been in a position of the greatest power for centuries. Why should we share with the lesser clans? It would only serve to give them a false sense of importance and stir up unrest amongst the workers.”

At times like these, Jean-Luc missed the calming influence of Counsellor Troi, however she was forbidden, her empathic abilities seen as a covert weapon. He looked down at his companion, Lieutenant Lee Oliver and sighed. One of Deanna’s staff, he was a Counsellor, but was obviously out of his depth.

Gathering his concentration, Jean-Luc tried yet again to make these antagonistic people see reason.

“Premier the Federation will not admit your planet unless you guarantee there will be fair dissemination of technology and resources. We will not allow you to use our gifts to wage war on your enemies unless you’re under direct threat and we will not favour one clan over another.”

The largest of all the Premiers, an auburn haired warrior of impressive height stood and slowly placed his fisted hands on his hips.

“And what of our raw materials your Federation so covets? You impose your ethics on us while you take what you want! That is hardly equitable. Why do we have to give up our ways yet still have to supply you with our riches?”

The Captain swallowed and willed his anger aside.

“I think you will find that what we propose is not only fair, but may prove to be very lucrative for your planet. Perhaps you forget just how many members there are in the Federation…all of them in need of raw materials.”

“Because of your recent war with the Dominion.”

“Yes.”

The big man stroked his long beard.

“And if you find yourselves in another war, we would be bound to help you?”

Jean-Luc nodded.

“Yes. If you are a member of the Federation and we find ourselves at war, then yes, you would be required to help.”

Staring hard at the Captain, the Premier slowly shook his head.

“No Picard. We will not be dragged into your conflicts.”

Finally fed up with the intractable Premiers, Jean-Luc startled his companion by suddenly standing, his eyes glittering dangerously.

“Then I see no sense in continuing these talks.”

He turned and began to walk away when a shout was heard.

“You will not insult us in such a manner! Picard…stop!”

Ignoring the call, Jean-Luc was nearly at the door when the big man drew his weapon. Lieutenant Oliver stood between his Captain and the enraged Premier but he was knocked aside.

“I’m warning you Picard…stop!”

Jean-Luc reached for the door handle and hesitated when he heard the frantic cry from his officer.

“Captain he has a weapon!”

It was the last thing Jean-Luc heard as a beam of energy streaked out across the room and hit him squarely in the back.

Oliver ran to his Captain and turned him over, pressing his fingers into Jean-Luc’s neck trying to feel his pulse. Detecting a faint throb, he grabbed the collar of the Captain’s uniform and began to drag him from the room. Due to a dampening effect limiting communication, he was unable to call for help until he was out of the building. He went through four rooms and a long corridor before he suddenly burst out into the open. Slapping his combadge he shouted,

“Enterprise two to beam directly to Sickbay, the Captain’s been shot!”

He fell to his knees and cradled Jean-Luc’s head as the beam took them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doctor Selar was now the CMO and was ready as the two officers appeared on the floor of Sickbay. With the help of three nurses, Jean-Luc was placed on a biobed and scanned. Selar’s Vulcan calm overrode the tension of the staff as she gave her orders.

“He has extensive internal damage and his heart is failing. Lieutenant Ogawa prepare him for surgery.”

Jean-Luc was taken away just as Will entered the facility. He stood still; watching the staff make their preparations then approached Lieutenant Oliver.

“What happened Lee?”

Wiping a shaking hand over his face, the rattled man faced his superior.

“It didn’t go well Sir, they weren’t interested in the Federation’s values or charter, all they wanted was to improve their technology so they could wage war on their enemies. The Captain tried Sir…God he showed the patience of Job, but they wouldn’t listen.”

Will shifted his feet impatiently and sighed.

“So why did they shoot him?”

“The Captain finally had enough. He told them there was no sense in continuing and made to leave. The Premier of the most powerful clan took it as an insult and drew a weapon. He told the Captain to stop but he ignored him. I tried to stop it, but the Premier shot him anyway…in the back.”

Will scowled, fisting his hands. About to say more, Lee gulped audibly.

“When I got to him there was smoke drifting up from his uniform and a large scorch mark on his back. I turned him over and felt for a pulse then I had to drag him about fifty metres to get him outside so I could call for help. Jesus Commander it all went so bad so quickly! It went to hell in a hand basket in seconds.”

Will schooled his features into gentle concern. Gripping the shaking man’s shoulder, he said softly,

“You did just fine Lee. Go to your quarters now and rest. Tomorrow I want a full report and I want you to get some counselling. OK?”

Swallowing and taking a deep breath, the Lieutenant nodded and wiped his brow.

“I will Sir, thank you.”

Will watched the devastated man leave then called over a nurse.

“Any news?”

He shook his head.

“No Commander not yet. Captain Picard has been scanned and taken to surgery. It will be some time before we know anything.”

Will stared at the operating theatre and came to a decision.

“I want to be notified the minute he’s out of surgery. I’ll be on the Bridge.”

The nurse acknowledged the order and went back to his duties. Will was back on the Bridge in minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Tactical open a channel to the planet.”

“Aye Sir, channel open.”

“On screen.”

The viewscreen cleared to reveal a scowling Premier.

“What do you want? We have no further need to talk to you.”

Drawing himself up to his full height, Will’s face was stern.

“I want to speak to the person who shot Captain Picard.”

“Why?”

His anger just under the surface, Will snarled,

“Unless you are that person, it’s none of your business.”

Taken aback by Will’s aggressive attitude, the Premier stepped back.

“Wait.”

The screen went blank for over ten minutes before suddenly reactivating. A very large man stared defiantly down his long nose.

“I am Premier Luxx. What do you want?”

Will’s eyes narrowed.

“Did you shoot Captain Picard?”

“What if I did?”

Will’s eyes were cold.

“Then you have committed an act of aggression against a Starfleet officer.”

The big man shrugged, opening his arms wide.

“What of it? Starfleet has nothing to do with us. Besides, he insulted us, surely you don’t expect us to stand idly by while some…alien…insults us in our own chambers?”

Stifling the protest that teetered on the tip of his tongue, Will clenched his jaw.

You contacted the federation and requested to join. Captain Picard was sent as the representative of the Federation and as such should have been respected and treated as an honoured guest, not assaulted.”

The Premier waved his hand dismissively.

“Your words are meaningless…you are a nothing but a dull blade.”

The connection was terminated and Will was left seething. Over his shoulder he snarled,

“Re-establish contact!”

There were several uncomfortable moments until the Ensign at Tactical said softly,

“They’re ignoring our hails Commander.”

Swearing under his breath, Will took his seat in the Command chair and glared at the planet below.

“Bastards!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four and a quarter hours later Will was in Selar’s office, his patience tested by the unflappable Vulcan.

“So you’re saying he’ll be all right?”

The elegant woman nodded once.

“Yes Commander. I am cautiously optimistic about his recovery. We have repaired all of the damage and I do not foresee any trouble. Captain Picard has always maintained a satisfactory level of fitness, in fact for his age he is in excellent physical condition.”

Nodding, Will ran a hand through his hair.

“When can I see him?”

“He is heavily sedated Commander. I estimate he will be unconscious until tomorrow morning. When he wakes you may see him then.”

Will stood and turned the chair he’d been straddling.

“Very well Doctor, I’ll leave you to it. Is it all right if I look in on him before I go?”

Frowning at her lack of understanding the need Humans had to reassure themselves with visual verification of what she’d already told him, Selar nodded.

Will approached the Captain’s private room slowly, knowing he would be upset by what he saw. He was just about to enter when a small hand gripped his elbow. The big man stared down and grinned.

“Hello Deanna.”

The hand gently squeezed and Will felt an intimate presence in his mind. He sighed and relaxed, his eyes closing briefly.

“He’ll be all right Will.”

Taking a big breath, Will shook his head.

“I know, but I also know he’ll look like hell and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.”

Deanna frowned at feeling his suppressed anger.

“You contacted the planet?”

“Uh huh. They don’t care Dee. They know there’s nothing we can do and they’re thumbing their noses at us.”

“Put it from your mind Will. Once the Captain tenders his report we will leave this system and it will fade to a distant memory.”

The Commander nodded and sighed.

“You coming in?”

She nodded and let go of his arm. Together the two officers entered Jean-Luc’s room and stood by the bed. In the subdued lighting Jean-Luc looked pale and small. Deanna gently took his left hand and held it, willing her goodwill into the sleeping man’s mind.

Will watched and asked softly,

“Can you sense him at all?”

Deanna shook her head, lifting the Captain’s hand to her face.

“No. While he’s so heavily sedated his mind is inaccessible to me.”

The Commander snorted softly and shook his head.

“So what’s different? These past months since Beverly left he’s been a closed book to all of us.”

The Counsellor nodded.

“I know. I keep trying…hoping he’ll open up, let me help him, but true to form he’s retreated within himself…nursing his pain and denying himself any hope of relief.”

Will’s large hands smoothed the blanket over Jean-Luc’s chest.

“Do you think this incident will make things any worse?”

With an expansive sigh, Deanna lowered her head.

“I honestly don’t know, I can no longer predict how he might react. He may shake it off  and carry on as normal, or he may react with dismay and give up completely. There’s no way to tell.”

Will stood silently, looking down at his Captain.

“Well Selar says he’ll wake tomorrow. I suppose we’ll know then.”

Deanna nodded and placed Jean-Luc’s hand back on the bed. By silent agreement they left the room and exited Sickbay. Neither would get much sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will was on the Bridge next morning when the call came through from Sickbay.

“Selar to Riker.”

“Riker here.”

“Commander Captain Picard is awake.”

Smiling, Will rose from his seat.

“I’ll be there shortly.”
He took two steps before he was halted.

“That will not be necessary Commander.”

Frowning, the First Officer tilted his head.

“What do you mean Doctor?”

“Captain Picard is refusing to see anyone.”

“What? Why?”

“I do not know Commander.”

Snorting, Will strode to the lift.

“Well I want to know Doctor. I’m coming down. Riker out.”

Her reply was ignored. Once in the lift, Will tapped his combadge.

“Riker to Troi.”

“Troi here.”

“Counsellor meet me in Sickbay immediately.”

“On my way, Troi out.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They met outside Sickbay’s doors. Deanna watched her lover closely as he tried to suppress his frustration. Inside, they were met by Selar.

“Doctor what the hell is going on? Why won’t the Captain see anybody?”

Gesturing to her office, Selar entered and waited until the two officers were seated.

“When Captain Picard regained consciousness this morning I went to him and scanned him. Throughout the procedure he remained silent. I informed him of the extent of his injuries, explained that we had repaired all the damage and that I expected a full recovery. He did not respond. I then told him he would be on medical leave for five days and he showed no reaction whatsoever. I noted that he was experiencing mild pain and offered him an analgesic. Again there was no response.

Finished with my examination, I informed him of your request to see him Commander and he spoke for the first time. He expressed a wish to be left alone and ordered me to stop anyone from visiting him. I queried the wisdom of such an order and he became quite angry. Rather than provoke him further, I left his room.”

Will snorted and ran a hand through his hair. Casting an eye at Deanna, he sighed.

“What do you think?”

The Counsellor closed her eyes briefly and frowned.

“He’s calm at the moment…almost too composed. I don’t know Will, he’s become unpredictable.”

Selar clasped her hands on the desktop.

“Counsellor Troi how would you describe Captain Picard’s mental state at this time?”

Deanna lowered her head and sighed.

“At the moment I would say fragile. This latest incident may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

Will placed his hand on the desk and spread his fingers.

“What do you think might happen if we were to go into his room?”

Deanna’s black eyes glittered.

“I don’t know.”

The big man stood and looked through the glass at the closed door of the Captain’s private room.

“Well there are some things I need to know…things only he can tell me. I’m going in.”

Selar’s voice held a note of warning.

“Commander Riker although I appreciate your need to talk with Captain Picard, I must uphold his wish to be left alone.”

Sensing Will’s spike of anger, Deanna stood and looked down at the calm Vulcan.

“Doctor Selar I think it’s necessary that, as a command matter, Commander Riker see the Captain. To allay your concerns, I will accompany him…I feel it important that I assess the Captain.”

Selar’s impassive face showed no emotion however one eyebrow rose. Obviously thinking about Deanna’s proclamation, she stood and nodded once.

“Very well.”

Will wasted no time, in seconds he was at the Captain’s door. Looking down at his lover he asked softly,

“Ready?”

He received a nod and he opened the door.

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc lay in subdued light his eyes closed. Will glanced at Deanna, silently asking if the Captain was asleep. She shook her head slightly and Will softly cleared his throat.

“Captain?”

There was no response. A little louder, Will called,

“Captain Picard?”

Jean-Luc’s voice was deep and rough and deceptively quiet.

“I do not want to be disturbed.”

Taking a large breath Will swallowed.

“I know Captain but there are some things I need to talk to you about.”

When the Captain remained silent, Will came closer to the bed.

“Sir I have read Lieutenant Oliver’s report, but I would like to hear your version of events.”

Jean-Luc’s response rattled Will.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

Deanna surreptitiously held up her hand, silencing the Commander.

“Captain I understand how upset you must feel…this is yet another assault, another violation, but we need to know what to do about this mission.”

Jean-Luc sighed, his eyes still closed.

“The mission is a failure. Report the details to Starfleet…I’m sure they will have something else for you to do.”

Sharing a frown between them, Deanna asked softly,

“And what about you Captain?”

“I no longer have any interest in these proceedings Counsellor. Do what you have to, it no longer concerns me.”

Will’s voice registered his worry.

“Captain I’m sure once you’ve…”

Jean-Luc’s voice deepened further, his anguish plain.

“Please leave.”

Deanna touched his hand and he pulled it away.

“I won’t ask you again. Leave. Now.”

The officers looked at each other and Will nodded.

“All right Captain. Maybe we can come and see you later in your quarters?”

His silence unnerved them as they left.

Outside his room, Selar was waiting for them. Her stoic face made Will sigh. Shaking his head he asked softly,

“When will Captain Picard be released?”

“This afternoon Commander.”

Will nodded and looked at his feet.

“OK. Leave him alone and call me when he’s discharged.”

“Very well Sir.”

Will and Deanna left Sickbay and remained silent as Will led them to Deanna’s office. Once inside he turned to her and shook his head.

“This is bad isn’t it.”

Deanna sat and sighed.

“I’m afraid so. He’s had enough Will…he’s finally reached the end of his rope.”

Will sat and rested his head in his hands. His quiet voice showed his deep distress.

“Can you do anything? Can you help him?”

“If he would let me maybe, but I really think it’s gone too far. The reality is the only person he would talk to isn’t here…in fact Beverly’s absence is a major part of the problem.”

Will stood, his hands fisting.

“For Christ’s sake there must be something we can do! Is there anybody…somebody at Starfleet perhaps…someone he’s known for years that we can talk to about this? God Deanna I’m not going to just give up on him!”

The Counsellor sat back, her eyes clouding with deep thought. Will sat back down and waited, knowing better than to interrupt. Eventually Deanna sighed.

“There is Admiral Tompkins. He and the Captain are particularly close…maybe we should talk to him?”

Rubbing his face, Will sighed.

“Well it’s a start anyway. If he can’t help, perhaps he could recommend someone who can.”

Deanna stood and waited as her lover gained his feet.

“I’ll place the call this afternoon. Are you going to wait before contacting Command?”

Will shook his head tiredly.

“No. The way things are, I have to report. Like the Captain said…if this mission’s a wash out then we need new orders.”

Deanna gently squeezed his arm.

“OK. Do you want to be with me when I contact the Admiral?”

The big man nodded.

“You bet!”

“All right, I’ll let you know.”

Will leaned down and softly kissed her brow. She smiled up at him and watched as he left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will stayed on the Bridge for the remainder of the day. At fourteen hundred Selar called to inform him that the Captain had been released to his quarters. To Will’s enquiry, Selar answered that Jean-Luc had remained uncommunicative and she doubted that situation was likely to change. At seventeen thirty Will finished his shift and ambled to his cabin, his mind whirling in deep thought. He’d eaten, changed and was reading some reports when the call came from Deanna.

“Troi to Riker.”

“Riker here.”

“Will I am about to be connected to Command. Admiral Tompkins is waiting.”

“I’m on my way.”

Deanna was seated at her desk in her office sipping a hot chocolate when Will came in. She glanced at him and gestured to a seat beside her, keeping her attention on her monitor.

“Admiral Commander Riker is here.”

Will sat and smiled at the kindly looking man on the screen. About the Captain’s age, he had short white hair brushed straight back over his head and a neat moustache. His smile of welcome warmed Will and he could sense Deanna’s confidence. The older man nodded.

“Greetings Commander Riker, I’ve heard a lot about you…your Captain is very happy with your performance.”

His blue eyes twinkling, Will inclined his head.

“Thank you Admiral. I consider it a privilege to serve with him.”

The Admiral’s face lost its smile and he sighed.

“Commander your Counsellor has told me of Captain Picard’s difficulties and I must say it has come as a shock. Of all people I never would have thought Picard would give up the way he has.”

Will sat up straight and opened his mouth to protest. The Admiral saw his reaction and forestalled it by holding up a hand.

“There’s no need Commander, I understand what’s at stake here and I also know for this to have happened it must have been colossally damaging to your Captain. I know the man and I think I know how much it would take to cause this…capitulation.”

Will nodded and cast a glance at Deanna. She nodded surreptitiously and he sighed.

“Admiral are you aware just how close Captain Picard and Doctor Crusher are?”

The older man nodded.

“Oh yes Commander. I’ve known Picard, Crusher and her late husband as long as they’ve known each other. And yes, I’m also aware of how deep his feeling are for her.”

Will nodded, clasping his hands in his lap.

“We believe Admiral, that a very large part of the Captain’s difficulties lie in Beverly’s absence. The problem is twofold. He was deeply troubled by something for months before she left and so was she, but for some unknown reason, they didn’t talk to each other about what was wrong. Things deteriorated until Beverly suddenly left. Now he finds himself bereft because she’s gone and without her he has lost the one person he needs to talk to.”

Tompkins frowned and bit his lower lip.

“And you Counsellor…have you had any success?”

“No Admiral.”

“You’re Betazoid aren’t you? Can’t you read his thoughts?”

Deanna smiled and shook her head.

“No Admiral. I’m half Betazoid, my father was Human. I do not possess telepathy, my gift is empathy and to that end, I sense emotions, but over the years Captain Picard has learned how to shield himself from me when he so desires and for some time now I have been unable to read him.”

“You could have ordered him to undergo counselling.”
”Yes Sir, that’s true, however with individuals possessed with the determination our Captain has, to counsel him as an unwilling participant would be counter productive.”

The Admiral sighed.

“Yes I can see how that would be problematic. I know how stubborn he can be.”

“I can tell you Admiral that we have been keeping a close eye on the Captain. Apart from one isolated incident some months ago, his performance of his duty has been exemplary. If it were otherwise I would have relieved him immediately.”

Nodding, Tompkins folded his arms.

“Understood. Tell me Counsellor, this ‘isolated incident’ what happened? Was it anything like the situation now?”

Deanna sighed and nodded.

“There are some similarities Sir. While negotiating with a new species, the Captain endured an invasion of his mind. The people we encountered were telepathic and chose to exercise their abilities on the Captain. He was outraged and refused to deal with them. Eventually they gave us assurances that they would refrain from violating the Captain’s mind and he agreed to re-enter the talks.”

The Admiral sighed expansively.

“So what we’re dealing with is a man disillusioned with Starfleet and fed up with being used as a punching bag for the Federation?”

Smiling softly at the analogy, Deanna nodded.

“Yes Sir.”

Sitting forward, Tompkins clasped his hands on the desk.

“Well. When I was notified of your request to contact me, I looked up your Captain’s file. I don’t have much to do with current missions so I don’t hear first hand if there’s any concerns amongst the Admiralty about any senior officers, however I do know this man.

Counsellor I going to recommend your Captain take an extended leave of absence. He has accrued over three hundred days of shore leave and it’s about time he availed himself of some of it. Commander Riker can you spare a shuttle?”

Will nodded in thought.

“Yes Admiral.”

“Good. Counsellor you will have the unenviable task of convincing a reluctant man to face his demons. If you can get him to take leave, tell him to find Crusher…they obviously need to talk. And Counsellor…if he refuses you have my authority to tell him it’s a direct order. I can only hope there’s enough sense of duty left in him to obey.”

Sighing, Deanna’s brow furrowed in thought.

“Very well Admiral, I will do as you say.”

Placing his hands flat on the desk, the Admiral smiled.

“Right. Let me know how you go…Tompkins out.”

The screen darkened then reverted to the Starfleet logo. Deanna sat back and sighed.

“Computer what is the time?”

“Nineteen forty-five hours.”

Will’s eyes noted her tense shoulders.

“You want to do it now?”

“Uh huh. I take it he’s in his quarters?”

Will nodded.

“Computer is Captain Picard awake?”

“Affirmative.”

The petite woman stood and stretched.

“Well, no time like the present I suppose.”

Will came to his feet and rubbed his face.

“Do you want me to come along?”

Deanna tilted her head and considered the question. Shaking her head she sighed.

“No, he’d probably see your presence as threatening. Better I go alone and try to keep from provoking anything unpleasant from him.”

The Commander chewed the inside of his cheek in thought.

“How do you think he’ll take it?”

Deanna shrugged, her brows knitting.

“He could be anything from blazingly angry to completely emotionless. I’ll know more when I talk to him.”

Will snorted.

“By then it might be too late.”

The Counsellor chuckled tiredly.

“Well they do say fortune favours the brave.”

Will took her in his arms and sighed.

“Good luck my love. Let me know how it goes.”

Will left and Deanna spent fifteen minutes meditating…bolstering her strength before the battle began.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Encouraged by being admitted to his quarters, Deanna found the Captain seated in his favourite chair, the lights dimmed and his cabin silent. Stepping quietly across the room, Deanna stood in front of him and watched as he kept his eyes on the PADD he held.

“May I sit Captain?”

He sighed, sat back and crossed his legs. After a few seconds he gestured to a chair, but his eyes never left the PADD.

“How are you feeling Sir?”

His continued silence vexed the Counsellor. She set her jaw and tried again.

“Doctor Selar says you have some residual pain. How is it now?”

He surprised her by suddenly lifting his head and staring at her, his dark eyes unreadable. Unable to sense his emotions and unsettled by his scrutiny, Deanna forced a smile and clasped her hands in her lap, affecting a relaxed pose even though she was very tense.

His steady gaze never faltering, he offered her the PADD. She took it, her voice uplifted in query.

“Captain.”

He folded his arms across his chest and turned his head to stare out at the stars. His soft voice just carried to her.

“Read it.”

Focussing her attention on the device she read quickly and then closed her eyes.

“You’re resigning?”

His only movement was to slowly stroke his lower lip as he silently contemplated the stars.

“Captain this isn’t necessary and in all honesty I believe you’re reacting too hastily. Yes, I admit you have good reason to be disillusioned and I know you have had enough of suffering physical and mental trauma but Captain…resigning your commission? Leaving Starfleet? Walking away from everything you’ve worked so hard for most of your life? That’s not the answer and I think deep down you know it.”

He allowed a few moments’ silence before he slowly turned to face her. His voice soft and steady, he said,

“I’ve had enough Deanna…I can’t do it any more.”

The Counsellor sighed and quietly strove to get through to him.

“Captain what if I gave you an alternative?”

He stared at her, his eyes glittering in the subdued light.

“Go on.”

“Would you consider an extended leave of absence? An opportunity to go away…anywhere you like to rest and re-evaluate your options…re-assess your decision.”

Jean-Luc sighed and slowly stood, facing the stars. He slipped his hands into his pockets and shook his head. Deanna had to strain to hear him.
”It won’t make any difference Counsellor.”

“Captain…you need to talk to Beverly. Go to her, let her help you find yourself.”

She watched as his head bowed and his shoulders rose and fell in an expansive sigh.

“She’s not interested Deanna. I’ve sent many messages…in them I apologised, I pleaded…she never answered…not one.”

Deanna stood and went to him, gently taking his arm and turning him. Once she faced him her compassionate black eyes held his.

“If you go to her she won’t turn you away Captain. She ran. Whatever it was that caused her to run also caused her to shun us all. Every one of her friends has sent messages that have been ignored, but Captain…she’s hiding more from herself than from you…or us. Go to her Captain. Go to her and find peace together.”

He sighed and lowered his eyes.

“And if I refuse?”

Deanna folded her arms and frowned.

“Captain you have two choices. Resign, walk away and never discover what might be…or take my advice and go to Beverly. Sir you have over three hundred days of accrued leave. You’re entitled.”

Jean-Luc thoughtfully tugged on his lower lip and tilted his head. With his usual perspicacity he cut through her guile.

“Why do I get the impression you’ve got something up your sleeve?”

Smiling softly Deanna had the good grace to flush.

“Because Captain I have the authority of an Admiral behind me. In effect, if you refuse my advice I am authorised to make it an order. Of course you still have to be in Starfleet to obey, but I think you’ll find it’s good advice…order or no.”

Jean-Luc attempted to glower but couldn’t quite manage it. Shaking his head, he sighed.

“Whom have you been talking to?”

“Admiral Harry Tompkins.”

The Captain snorted and turned back to the stars.

“I might have known.”

Deanna let the gentle silence stretch until she asked softly,

“Captain?”

His voice was tired.

“I need to think Counsellor.”

“I understand Captain…but will you do one thing for me?”

He turned, an eyebrow raised in silent enquiry.

“Would you hold off on tendering your resignation? At least until you’ve recovered completely from your injuries?”

He contemplated the woman before him and recalled her years of staunch loyalty.

“Very well Counsellor I will accede to your wishes.”

Smiling softly, Deanna stepped closer.

“Thank you Captain. Goodnight Sir.”

He watched as she left then turned back to the stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beverly looked up from her patient, grimacing and trying to lean over the open body to protect it from the falling dust. In the distance rumbling blasts could be heard and aircraft were constantly whizzing overhead.

“We need to stop the bleeding here. Have you got any more coagulant?”

The native nurse looked up and frowned.

“I don’t know.”

Exasperated, Beverly strove to keep her voice calm.

“Well can you ask somebody?”

With a hard look, the nurse left and disappeared from view. Beverly straightened and hastily clamped a leaking blood vessel before packing the surrounding area with sterile gauze. Minutes passed and she was beginning to think they had no hope when the nurse suddenly appeared and rudely shoved a hypospray into the Doctor’s hand.

“Here.”

Clenching her jaw, Beverly said softly,

“Is this coagulant?”

Snorting, the nurse nodded brusquely.

“Yes! Doctor K’Tul said it was the appropriate medicine.”

Sighing, Beverly sent a silent prayer for her Vulcan colleague and injected her patient. Another flight of aircraft skimmed low over their makeshift hospital and everyone flinched. Beverly gingerly removed the gauze and smiled at the greatly reduced blood flow. Now with the opportunity, she worked quickly and within minutes her patient was granted a stay from the death sentence that had hovered over his head. Nodding to the nurse, the Doctor said quietly,

“He can be closed now. Take him away.”

She turned and changed her gloves and when she turned back, another bloodied body was laid out ready for her attention. A heavy blast shook the floor and each person in the room closed their eyes, waiting for the answering report. It came and the doctors all tried to protect their patients, Beverly pulling up the stained sheet to cover the eyes of her semiconscious patient.

One of the other Doctors muttered,

“Where is the line now?”

An orderly, busy stacking blood products replied,

“Seven kilometres to the east. They gained two kilometres last night. The Federals reckon we’ll have to leave in about five hours.”

A doctor snorted.

“Gossip! I’ll leave when someone in authority tells me to.”

Beverly raised her head and wearily looked around the crowded room. Litters were everywhere, each holding a badly wounded fighter. Only those with a chance at life were brought in, the rest were either treated and sent back to fight if possible or they died.

The conflict had been ongoing for several months. The planet was non-aligned and the aliens that attacked it had not tried to negotiate. It was plain they were bent on total annihilation but the native inhabitants fought back fiercely. Beverly had learned of their desperate plea for medical help and joined with several other Doctors from around the quadrant to volunteer. She had been there three weeks.

She worked diligently throughout the night and into most of the following day. Taking a short break, she was seated eating a ration bar when her eyes slowly closed and she slipped off the low crate she was sat on. A passing nurse procured a blanket and covered her before rolling up a sheet and placing it under her head. A curtain was drawn around her and the day and the battle wore on.

It was a very loud blast that roused her. With a gasp she sat up and held her spinning head as she struggled to remember where she was. Someone ran by and pulled back the screen.

“Hurry Doctor! They’ve broken the line, we must go!”

The Doctor stood and pulled at her ratty ponytail.

“What about our patients?”

The nurse looked over his shoulder and nodded to someone.

“We’ve almost emptied the building. Come on Doctor, we must hurry!”

With no other choice, Beverly ran with the nurse, her eyes squinting as a flash of a nearby blast seared her vision. She stumbled as the buffeting shock wave hit her and she felt the sting of a cut opening on her cheek. Her leg crumpled under her and she frowned in incomprehension. A strong hand gripped her arm then she was being dragged, the rough ground making it almost impossible to gain much speed. Crossing the open common, they burst into a building on the other side and Beverly was roughly pushed onto a transporter pad. The last thing she saw was a bright light as the building was hit.

She rematerialised on a ship. Staggering off the pad, she fell into someone’s arms and took some moments to regain her breath. Once again in control, she looked up to see K’Tul about to press some gauze over her bleeding cheek as he lowered her to the floor. Smiling, she raised a hand and when the Vulcan had sited it, she took over and applied firm pressure.

“Where are we?”

K’Tul raised an eyebrow.

“We are on board the Federal cruiser, the Madren. The government is about to fall and they insisted that all off world volunteers be evacuated. You were the last to be beamed aboard. We are presently at high warp, on route to safer climes.”

Beverly nodded and sighed.

“Anyone chasing us?”

The tall Vulcan shook his head.

“Not that I know of.”

Beverly looked down at her leg and tried to move it. The pain struck with insidious speed, making her moan.

“Lie still Doctor, help is on the way.”

Just then an aide entered the room and smiled.

“Welcome aboard Doctors. I will take you both to our medical facility.”

Beverly was placed on a bed and scanned with an instrument she didn’t recognise. She was given a painkiller and her pants leg torn up to the hip. She attempted to sit up, but the Doctor treating her gently pushed her back down. She felt the warmth of an osteo regenerator and sighed. A light synthetic cast was fitted to her lower leg and her treatment came to an end.

“I am satisfied the break will heal well, however the cast will stay on for two weeks and after that you will have to favour the leg for three more weeks.”

Beverly gripped the Doctor’s arm and pulled herself into a sitting position.

“Five weeks? But…”

“I’m sorry Doctor but our methods aren’t as advanced as the Federation’s. Unless you can get back to Federation space, my advice stands.”

The diminutive Doctor handed Beverly a crutch and pointed.

“I suggest you use that while your leg heals.”

Beverly scowled.

“Can I walk on it?”

“Yes Doctor.”

The aide stepped forward and together Beverly, K’Tul and the aide left the Sickbay.

They followed the aide through the ship, eventually coming to a suite of rooms. Stepping back and gesturing, the Doctors preceded him into the quarters.

“I hope you don’t mind, but this ship lacks individual accommodation. This suite has four sleeping areas and this communal living room. The sanitary facility is shared also. If you would like to wash…” he looked pointedly at their stained clothing, “I will return soon with food and drink.”

Beverly glanced at K’Tul then grimaced as she looked down at herself. They were filthy. With a self-conscious flush, Beverly ran her fingers through her dirty, knotted hair.

“That would be lovely, thank you. Tell me…do you have any replicators? I need some new clothes.”

Smiling widely, the aide went to a panel in the wall and pressed a button. It slid up to reveal a replicator. Beverly grinned and walked over, inspecting the device.

“You cannot programme food, but clothing is available. Use the menu to select what you want.”

Nodding her thanks, Beverly was unaware of the aide’s departure. K’Tul was standing beside her before she acknowledged him.

“I’ll toss you for the shower.”

The Vulcan tilted his head and stared at her in silence. Beverly chuckled and turned to face him.

“Do you wish to use a game of chance to see who showers first?”

The stoic man stood back a step and frowned.

“No Doctor, you may go first.”

Her blue eyes twinkling, Beverly nodded her thanks then quickly replicated all she needed. She was in the shower in minutes.

When she came out she sat on the sofa drying her hair and occasionally yawning.

K’Tul had just finished his shower when the aide returned with the promised food and drink. They ate in companionable silence before retiring for the night. Beverly slipped into her bed exhausted. Sleep came quickly.

 

 

 

 

 

The ship travelled for five days eventually stopping at a small planet well out of the disputed area. Having met with the Captain, Beverly had decided to beam down to a peaceful village on the shore of a vast sea to recuperate. K’Tul opted to continue his journey back to Federation space.

The Doctor materialised in the paved courtyard of a sturdy stone building, its shingle roof covered with mosses and lichen. She was bending down to pick up her newly replicated bag of clothes, when a friendly voice greeted her.

“Now now…let me do that. You’ve obviously got enough to contend with.”

Gripping the crutch, Beverly smiled at the woman coming toward her, her light blue skin in stark contrast to her bright yellow hair. Taking Beverly’s bag, the middle-aged woman gestured with a long arm.

“Come in! Captain Desora informed me of your wish to stay. I have plenty of rooms available, you may have your pick.”

Somewhat overwhelmed by the gregarious nature of the woman, Beverly raised a smile and followed her into the building.

The hostess kept talking.

“I know the stairs might be a problem but the east wing is the best…it overlooks the sea. Open the windows in the morning and I guarantee your appetite will surge once you fill your lungs with fresh ocean air.”

Beverly sighed. This was going to be an interesting stay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will nodded to his android Second Officer and issued the necessary orders to prepare the ship for their next mission.

“Make sure Astrophysics has ample time on the sensor array. It’s been so long since we did something like this…we may be a little rusty.”

Data turned abruptly, making his way to the aft science station.

“Aye Sir.”

Will sat and checked the readout on the arm of the Command chair. Deanna sent him a small smile and he was about to ask her a question when the comm system came to life.

“Picard to Riker.”

Will’s eyebrows rose and his eyes fastened on his lover.

“Riker here.”

“Commander will you join me in my quarters?”

“On my way Sir, Riker out.”

The big man leaned towards the Counsellor and said softly,

“Can you sense anything?”

Shaking her head, Deanna sighed.

“Not really. The past three days he’s been calm…the only time he’s been out of his quarters was to report to Sickbay for his check ups.”

The Commander sighed.

“So you have no idea why he wants to see me?”

“No.”

Will stood and frowned down at the petite woman.

“Well, only one way to find out.”

Louder he said,

“Mr.Data you have the Bridge.”

Deanna watched his departure and sighed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc was at his desk when Will came in. The First Officer stood before his Captain, a gentle smile on his open face.

“You wanted to see me Captain.”

Jean-Luc clasped his hands on the desktop and took a large breath.

“Indeed Commander.”

Noting the use of his rank, Will stood straighter.

“What is our status?”

“The ship is operating at the optimum Sir.”

“And our current mission?”

Smiling, his blue eyes twinkling, Will was happy to tell his Captain.

“We’re on our way to the Grunning Cluster Captain, Starfleet has finally given us a scientific mission. Our orders are to chart and scan the cluster, paying particular attention to the concentration of anomalous gasses.”

Jean-Luc sat back and settled his folded hands on his lap.

“I see. Tell me Number One, would you be able to spare a class two runabout?”

Keeping his face inscrutable, the curious man nodded.

“Yes Captain.”

Jean-Luc stood and walked to the viewports. Turning to face Will he crossed his arms across his chest and sighed.

“I have recently been reminded that I have a surfeit of leave accumulated and that I should avail myself of some of it. It is my intention Will to take an extended leave of absence. I take it you would be amenable to assuming Command while I’m gone?”

Resisting the urge to cheer, Will nodded.

“Of course Sir. Have you any plans Captain?”

Pursing his lips and frowning, Jean-Luc stared hard at his friend. The silence grew between them until Will began to feel uncomfortable. His Captain’s voice was soft.

“I thought I’d go to Caldos.”

Keeping his face steady, the delighted Commander nodded.

“That sound just fine Captain. When will you leave?”

Jean-Luc uncrossed his arms and slipped his hands into his pockets.

“This afternoon. I have notified Starfleet of my intentions and I have received their permission to disembark immediately.”

“Very good Captain, I will amend the roster to reflect the change and I will notify the senior staff at once. I take it Sir, you have been cleared by medical?”

His dark eyes glittering, Jean-Luc’s voice hardened.

“Doctor Selar informs me I have two days left of my enforced medical leave. After communicating my plans to her, she has given me her blessing to proceed. I have some procedures to follow that she is confident I can see to myself. My health is not an issue.”

Will relaxed his posture slightly and swallowed as he contemplated his next question.

“And your mental attitude Captain? Do you feel any better about your concerns?”

His deep voice growing deadly quiet, Jean-Luc’s cold anger was obvious.

“What business is that of yours Commander?”

“None Sir…but as your friend I don’t mind telling you that I’ve been worried sick about you.”

He waited for the dismissal. Instead Jean-Luc sighed and lowered his head, his voice softening.

“I admit I have been less than my usual self these past months…and I do appreciate your continued support, however I must sort my difficulties out on my own.”

Will nodded and smiled gently.

“I understand Sir, as long as you remember you’re not alone.”

Jean-Luc raised his head and offered a small smile.

“So noted Number One. I’m sure Deanna will be happy with my decision…please tell her I will endeavour to heed her advice.”

Hearing the subtle dismissal, Will straightened.

“Aye Captain.”

The big man left and Jean-Luc wandered back to his desk. Activating his computer, he typed a simple message.

 

Dearest Beverly,

I’m on my way to Caldos…I have to see you.

Love,

Jean-Luc.

 

He pressed the send key and closed his eyes.

“Please Beverly…find it in you heart to hear me…give me one last chance.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Captain was in the cockpit of the runabout performing his pre-flight checks when the gentle voice of his Counsellor drifted to his ears.

“So what tipped the balance Captain?”

His hands stilled and he sat back in the seat. Not turning to his visitor, his soft mutter made her smile.

“I found myself in a no-win situation. It was either accede to your advice or resign to avoid having to follow a direct order.”

Deanna came forward and seated herself in the other chair. Casting a long look at her Captain, she noted he kept his eyes on the panel before him.

“I think it’s a little more complex than that Sir.”

He pulled down the corners of his mouth and shrugged.

“Perhaps.”

“Will told me you’re going to Caldos.”

He said nothing, his body motionless.

“Have you let her know you’re coming?”

He gave a short nod.

Deanna sighed.

“And?”

Placing his hands on the console, Jean-Luc straightened his arms and lowered his head. He whispered,

“Nothing. No reply.”

The Counsellor frowned and mentally castigated the recalcitrant Doctor.

“Well that may not necessarily be a bad thing.”

He turned his head slowly, a look of frank disbelief on his face.

“And on what do you base that?”

“She didn’t say not to come.”

Their eyes held each other in complete silence. Very slowly, Jean-Luc’s face crumpled into a small smile.

“I commend your optimism Counsellor, however I don’t think I share it.”

Deanna folded her hands in her lap and smiled gently.

“Yet you’re still going.”

His deep voice broke.

“Yes.”

She allowed him time to compose himself before reaching over and gently squeezing his arm.

“Hope springs eternal Captain. I’m sure once you talk with her, things will work themselves out.”

He nodded, returning his attention to the console. Deanna quietly stood and said softly,

“Goodbye Captain. I hope with all my heart you find what you’re looking for.”

His eyes still locked on the panel, he suddenly reached out and took her hand, preventing her from leaving. They remained in silence for several seconds until his quiet voice broke the impasse.

“I want you to know Deanna, how much I appreciate your ongoing efforts to help me over these last months. I know I’ve been difficult and I regret my behaviour, however I hope you can take heart in the fact that I have decided to heed your advice. You are an excellent officer, a credit to this ship and…”
He turned to look up at her, his eyes warm and glittering.

“A very dear friend.”

Her own eyes filling with unshed tears; Deanna leaned down and kissed his brow. Her voice just audible she said,

“Take care Captain.”

Leaving the runabout, Deanna took her place at Will’s side as the craft powered up. The blast doors opened and the officers watched as the runabout rose from the deck and made a controlled exit into the cold blackness of space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With ten day’s journey ahead of him, Jean-Luc soon fell into a routine of reading, eating, sleeping and exercising. Having completed the medical tasks required of him, he felt fully recovered and was determined to be as fit as possible for his meeting with Beverly, knowing as he did that she would not be pleased if he showed up looking anything but fit, rested and well. During the long nights he lay in his bunk, his mind furnishing him with images and scenarios.


© Copyright 2017 Heather Smyth. All rights reserved.

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