Confessions From The Edge Chapter 2

Confessions From The Edge Chapter 2

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Summary

Same as chapter 1

Summary

Same as chapter 1

Chapter1 (v.1) - Confessions From The Edge Chapter 2

Author Chapter Note

Same as chapter 1

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: July 03, 2013

Reads: 229

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Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: July 03, 2013

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It took almost three weeks to get to the Hepbraum system. Jean-Luc spent the time going over and over all he could find on the Hepbraums. Of the Keloran he knew nothing. He sighed, not liking entering into negotiations without all the information he needed, but he cast aside his misgivings and concentrated on what he did know.

The Hepbraums were a humanoid species, unremarkable but for one important ability. They had a phenomenal sense of smell, reputed to be so accurate, they could literally smell emotions. Jean-Luc knew he was going to have to be scrupulously honest. It was in his nature to be so anyway, but he knew there were times, especially during tense negotiations, when it was sometimes necessary to…gild the lily. The Hepbraums were well aware of the value of their dilithium and he wondered just what it was the Kelorans had offered. Medical technology was too vague a term, Jean-Luc liked to deal with specifics. He needed to know the Keloran’s strengths…and their weaknesses. And so he worked tirelessly, preparing himself for the coming battle.

 He grew used to getting by on only a few hours sleep a night and those who knew him would have remarked at how much weight he’d lost. Yet he drove himself remorselessly, anything to avoid thinking about Beverly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nechayev had not understated the difficulty of the mission. Three days into the negotiations, Jean-Luc found the Hepbraum negotiator to be honest and very forthcoming, in fact, seemingly willing to continue their association with the Federation, making the Ambassador wonder what had precipitated the rift in the first place. That was until he met, at a dinner held by the Hepbraums, the Keloran negotiator.

To say the being was intimidating was a gross understatement. Tall by human standards, what made Jean-Luc’s blood chill was the total absence of any colour to the being’s skin. Beneath a black robe that covered most of her body, what skin that could be seen was inky black, almost translucent and offering the appearance of making her limbs shimmer in and out of shape. Her eyes glowed softly yellow and she was quite unlike anything Jean-Luc had ever seen before. When the Hepbraum chief negotiator introduced her, it was all Jean-Luc could do to refrain from staring into her cold, glowing eyes. He noticed she offered her hand and he took it, but instinct told him to shun her, to run immediately, but years of diplomatic experience had him plaster a warm smile on his face as he took her hand, its coldness making his skin crawl. Her voice was a raspy whisper.

“I have heard of you, Ambassador, you are a worthy opponent.”

An odour, reminiscent of burnt cloves wafted to him and Jean-Luc frowned slightly.

“Then you have me at a disadvantage, madam.”

The Hepbraum negotiator bobbed his head and made a coughing sound.

“Forgive me, Ambassador. This is Loran, prime negotiator for the Keloran.”

Her name meant nothing to Jean-Luc, but he noticed how very nervous his Hepbraum counterpart was in her company, indeed, as soon as he could, the negotiator excused himself, leaving the human and the Keloran alone. There was an awkward silence, broken when Loran said abruptly and with sinister intent,

“I do not intend to lose these people to you, Ambassador.”

Jean-Luc kept his face inscrutable as he replied,

“I rather think that is up the Hepbraum.”

The being shrugged, making the fabric of her robe rustle unpleasantly.

“We do not purport the lofty ideals of the Federation, Picard, we deal in realities. The Hepbraum have something we want and if they won’t give it to us, we will take it.”

Surprised by the vehemence of her statement, Jean-Luc softened his voice, but it lost none of its steel.

“If the Hepbraum choose the Federation, they will enjoy our protection. Are you willing to take on the entire Federation to get what you want?”

Her inky black features showed no surprise, but he heard it in her weird voice.

“You would go to war over a trade agreement?”

Jean-Luc smiled coldly.

“The Federation honours all its agreements. Those with whom we have treaties or trade agreements enjoy our protection.”

The being shimmered slightly and seemed to grow substantially taller.

“Are you threatening me, Picard?”

His smile remained and he stayed glacially calm, be he couldn’t stop his heart accelerating.

“Not at all, I am simply stating the facts as they are.”

The odour grew stronger and the being opened her mouth. There was nothing to see, no teeth or tongue, just a black opening in the black tabloid of her face.

“Do not oppose me, Picard; you will not live to regret it.”

Keeping his eyes glued to hers, Jean-Luc’s smile vanished as he allowed warning to colour his voice.

“Are you threatening me, Loran?”

Her mouth twisted into what Jean-Luc surmised was a smile.

“Not at all, I am simply stating the facts as they are.”

With his own words thrown back at him, Jean-Luc frowned. He looked up at the being and said with absolute determination,

“I will not be intimidated.”

She shrugged again and Jean-Luc couldn’t help but think the sound must be like that of a moving shroud.

“I am not trying to intimidate you…Ambassador, I merely feel it necessary to warn you of the consequences of your actions.”

“I will do my duty to the best of my ability, regardless of any…warnings.”

The cold, glowing eyes seemed to waver. Loran’s body shivered and she stepped away, leaving Jean-Luc feeling vaguely unsettled. He left the dinner as soon as protocol allowed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The talks wore on over a period of ten days. During this time, Jean-Luc did not see Loran, but he felt her presence. His Hepbraum counterpart, a gentle being called Frey would come to the negotiation table visibly rattled, taking over an hour to calm himself. Jean-Luc came to understand it was after a meeting with the Keloran.

It took every diplomatic skill he possessed, but at the end of the twelfth day, Jean-Luc secured a trade agreement with the Hepbraum.

Having said his goodbyes, Jean-Luc was in his assigned quarters, packing, when his door chime sounded. Rather than bid the caller entry, he went to the door and pressed the release. The appearance of his visitor made him take an involuntary step back. Taller and more menacing than at any other time he’d seen her, Loran towered in the doorway, her eyes glowing angrily.

“You have defied me, Picard.”

Straightening his spine and schooling his features, Jean-Luc said coldly,

“I suggest you leave before I call the authorities.”

An odd sound emerged from the black pit of her mouth.

“I will not forget the damage you have wrought, Picard…damage to me personally and to my people. You will pay.”

Looking up into those cold eyes, Jean-Luc suppressed a shudder.

“But not today, I think.”

The being seemed to smile.

“No, not today, but I’m sure our paths will cross again…Ambassador.”

Loran stepped back and the door closed. Jean-Luc stared at the beige panelling until a call came through.

“Ambassador Picard?”

He snapped out of his brown study and cleared his throat.

“Picard here, go ahead.”

“Sir we have been in contact with the Faragut. They will be here in two days.”

“Understood, thank you, Picard out.”

Now that the mission was all but over, the despondency crept back. Angry that he couldn’t rid himself of these debilitating emotions, Jean-Luc brusquely called the communications centre.

“This is Ambassador Picard. I wish to talk to Admiral Alynna Nechayev at Starfleet Command.”

The reply was a little hesitant.

“Err…of course, Ambassador, but it will take some hours.”

“Acknowledged. Please route the call to my quarters when you are able.”

“As you wish, Ambassador.”

He managed to doze while he waited. It was the gentle chime of his computer that woke him. He rose and went to his desk, saying huskily,

“Computer, on.”

He had to smile...he’d never seen Nechayev looking like she had just got out of bed.

“Admiral.”

The vexed woman tried to smile, failed and instead, scowled.

“Do you know what time it is, Picard?”

The man smiled, but covered it with his hand.

“Ah...no. I’m sorry if I woke you, Admiral.”

Nechayev waved a hand dismissively.

“Well, now that I’m up, what is it?”

All business, Jean-Luc’s eyes darkened.

“Would you please send me the briefs of all the impending missions on the list?”

Nechayev’s gaze sharpened.

“Why?”

Jean-Luc shrugged with what he hoped looked like nonchalance.

“I thought perhaps I might choose my next assignment.”

The Admiral sat back, her gaze speculative. She sighed.

“Well, I suppose you have earned that right. Very well, I will transmit it immediately. Is that all?”

Jean-Luc summoned a smile.

“Yes, Admiral, goodnight, Picard out.”

The screen went blank and Jean-Luc stared at it. He muttered quietly,

“So…it seems I have my destiny in my own hands now.”

He should have recognised his bloody mindedness, but all he felt was sadness and despondency. He rose from his desk and made his way to the window, his gaze going upwards.

“Wherever you are, Beverly, I love you.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the next seven months, Jean-Luc gained a reputation as the man who would go into the most dangerous situations to settle disagreements. Nechayev came to rely on him to do the jobs no one else would take.

In all those lonely months, Jean-Luc kept looking for Beverly, his love for her never diminishing. His work was a means to an end, a way to keep his mind occupied while his heart ached.

Will Riker learned of his former Captain’s devil-may-care attitude and contacted him one bleak afternoon on a distant planet.

“Ambassador? You have an incoming transmission from a Starship called, Enterprise.”

His eyebrows went up, curiosity warring with concern.

“Very well, put it through to this terminal, please.”

The screen suddenly switched from standby mode, flickered once or twice before clearing to reveal Will’s familiar image. Jean-Luc couldn’t help but smile warmly.

“Will! How the hell are you?”

The big bearded man grinned and it was such a familiar gesture, Jean-Luc felt a deep pang of regret.

“I’m well, Sir. More to the point, how are you?”

Waving his hand dismissively, Jean-Luc gave a shake of his head.

“Oh I’m fine…Captain.”

There was a friendly glint in Jean-Luc’s eye that made Will sigh.

“That’s not what I hear, Sir.”

Always an intensely private man, Jean-Luc’s smile faded.

“Oh? And what is it you’ve heard?”

Will sat forward in his Ready Room, making eye contact with his friend.

“I’ve heard you’ve become a bit of a maverick, Sir…that you’ll go where no one else will, that you are taking your life in your hands…way too much.”

Jean-Luc shrugged, suddenly wishing to terminate the connection.

“Will, you know how delicate these negotiations can be. I’m just lucky I’ve been able to settle a few sticky situations, that’s all.”

Will’s blue eyes darkened.

“I’ve heard you’ve been deliberately seeking dangerous assignments.”

Growing somewhat irritated that he should be cross examined by his former First Officer, Jean-Luc sighed and struggled to keep his tone even.

“All diplomatic assignments carry an element of danger, Captain.”

Hearing the suppressed anger, Will shook his head, unwilling to back down.

“I understand that, Sir, but there is no need for you to consistently choose the most dangerous assignments. A man of your experience and service has the right to take some easier work. You’ve earned it, Sir.”

Jean-Luc understood Will’s concern, but he was unable to explain his actions. Instead he tried to make light of it.

“Oh I know that, Will, but the other Ambassadors aren’t quite as experienced as me. I’m just holding the fort while they catch up.”

A new voice came over the channel and Jean-Luc had to concentrate on not grimacing.

“I think there’s another reason, Sir.”

Deanna Troi came into view. Will moved over as she perched on the arm of his chair.

“I think you’re missing Beverly so much, you’ve lost your sense of self preservation.”

Jean-Luc immediately dismissed the notion. He smiled condescendingly and waved a hand.

“Oh I’m sure that’s not right, Counsellor.”

“Isn’t it, Ambassador?”

She leaned forward, her obsidian eyes glittering.

“I think you have a death wish.”

Angry, Jean-Luc spat,

“That’s absolutely absurd! Just because I choose to do the difficult assignments doesn’t mean I have a death wish, Counsellor. You would be better served tending to the needs of your shipmates.”

Deanna’s face didn’t alter.

“You mean, mind your own business, Counsellor.”

Jean-Luc said nothing, just stared balefully at the screen. Deanna sighed and softened her gaze.

“Ambassador you are grieving. Why don’t you take some time off…go somewhere and recover.”

By now absolutely furious and feeling patronised, Jean-Luc’s face became unreadable.

“I appreciate your concern, Counsellor, but I have a lot of work to do…so if you don’t mind…?”

Deanna’s face saddened and she sighed.

“Sir…”

Jean-Luc dragged up a cold smile and lifted a hand in farewell.

“I am very busy, I have to go. Picard out.”

The screen went blank and Jean-Luc sat staring at it for some minutes before he went back to his work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc’s work had twice involved him in negotiations that included the Keloran. Loran was the negotiator in both cases and, as before, they had an acrimonious relationship. Parting after the last encounter, the angry being confronted Jean-Luc and issued an overt threat.

“This is the last time you demean me and my people, Picard. The next time we meet, you will die.”

Jean-Luc looked Loran in the eyes and shook his head.

“I fail to see why you take it so personally. I am just doing my job, as are you. Surely we can put this aside?”

The inky black being stepped closer, the odd smell of burnt cloves becoming stronger.

“You Federation…you are expanding faster than a fungal infection. My people are being deprived of what we desperately need…and it’s your fault! You are an emissary of a vast, hungry conglomerate who takes what they want from worlds far from your boundaries. Your appetite is insatiable! And, to make matters worse, you belittle me! You, human, are beneath contempt.”

Jean-Luc sighed.

“Loran…”

The being held up a warning hand.

“Say no more, Picard, my threat stays. The next time we meet, you will die…slowly.”

The human Ambassador summoned a dry smile.

“Then you will forgive me if I say I hope that doesn’t occur.”

The glowing yellow eyes of the Keloran shone brightly as she snarled softly. She turned and stalked away, leaving Jean-Luc to pack his belongings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two months later, a concerned Nechayev visited Jean-Luc at Star Fleet Medical. The Ambassador had been badly injured in a negotiation that went horribly wrong. Whilst in the process of negotiating a trade agreement on a world that was experiencing political turmoil, terrorists detonated a bomb in the meeting chamber, killing several delegates and injuring over a hundred. Jean-Luc had been one of the injured. So bad were his injuries that he was placed in stasis, his condition too frail to attempt repair on a Starship. He was taken immediately to Earth, where he underwent hours of delicate surgery to heal him.

It had been ten days since he had cheated death and the Admiral was going to suggest he have some time off.

As expected, Jean-Luc was resisting. Nechayev was running out of patience.

“Look, Ambassador, I’m not suggesting retirement…just a holiday for goodness sake.”

The stubborn man shook his head.

“I appreciate your concern, Admiral, but I can assure you, a holiday is not necessary.”

Adopting a different tack, Nechayev retrieved a chair and sat, crossing her legs and appearing relaxed. Summoning what she hoped was a warm smile, she said softly,

“Ambassador…”

She lowered her head and the smile broadened.

“…Jean-Luc, you have been at the pointy end for most of you career. First as a Starfleet Captain, and now as one of the Federation’s most respected Ambassadors. Surely you can see that if you don’t take some time to recuperate, you just might burn out.”

She uncrossed her legs and leaned forward, dropping her voice confidentially.

“I am aware of how Crusher’s…disappearance affected you, and I know you haven’t fully recovered from it, but really…can you honestly say you can’t do with the rest?”

Jean-Luc opened his mouth to rebut her, but she held up her hand.

“I could make it an order.”

The bluff failed miserably. Jean-Luc smiled wryly and shook his head.

“Nice try, but you and I both know you can’t do that. My orders may come through you, but they originate with the Federation Council.”

He sat up straighter in bedside chair and sighed.

“Admiral, I need to get back to work, the sooner the better.”

Stymied, Nechayev sat back and huffed.

“Very well, but will you at least take some easier assignments? There is absolutely no reason why you have to consistently take the most dangerous jobs.”

Jean-Luc smiled, but it was a sad smile.

“I would prefer to make my own choices, Admiral, but I do appreciate your concern.”

The small woman sat back and shook her head.

“You’re a stubborn man, Jean-Luc. Very well, it seems you will carry on just as before, but I must tender my protest with the Federation Council. I believe you are acting in a self-destructive manner.”

The Ambassador sighed and lowered his head.

“Admiral, with all due respect, all the Federation Council sees is results. They won’t…in fact they can’t acknowledge how the results were gained.  I understand why you’re protesting, but it will fall on deaf ears.”

Nechayev’s eyes darkened.

“You’re right, of course, but I can’t sit idly by while one of the most respected men I have ever known quietly goes about killing himself.”

Jean-Luc’s smile was self-depreciating.

“Oh I think that’s a little dramatic.”

“Is it?”

Growing tired of the conversation, Jean-Luc sighed.

“My mind is made up, Admiral.”

She stood and looked down at the man she had known for so long.

“I do hope I don’t have to deliver your eulogy, Ambassador.”

He looked up at her and smiled.

“As do I, Admiral.”

He was out of Medical and back in space in under ten days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two months and three assignments later, Jean-Luc found his new assignment very pleasing and for once it hadn’t appeared dangerous. It was a simple matter of a new world wishing to join the Federation. He found the Dereen a lovely people, if not a little off-putting in their appearance. They were a very tall people, averaging over three metres in height, but what most humans had trouble with was that their ‘heads’ were in their midriffs. They possessed five violet eyes, arranged in a straight line across their middle. Four arms were attached to their upper bodies and four legs managed to propel them with great speed in the low gravity of their world. They had wide, splayed feet and tufts of dark blue hair, which contrasted nicely with their light blue skin colouring, on the tops of their bulbous bodies.

He had taken this assignment simply because it was in a region of space he’d never been. The negotiations had been going well, although Jean-Luc was aware there was another negotiator, but, as was the habit of the Dereen, the protagonists were never to meet.

His Dereenian counterpart made a facial expression Jean-Luc had learned was a smile. The slit of a mouth seemed to stretch and small, hard, bone-like gums were exposed.

“You are pleased, Ambassador.”

The universal translator had had some difficulty with Dereenian language, so, to facilitate matters, the Dereen spoke in very simple sentences.

Jean-Luc smiled and offered a slight bow.

“I am, Ambassador. This treaty is beneficial to both our worlds.”

The Dereenian bent his top half.

“Yes, but you represent more than one world, Ambassador, while I represent simply my people.”

“And you do so very well.”

The being smiled again.

“Thank you, Ambassador. I must say I prefer you’re way of negotiating. You have made our impending entry into the United Federation of Planets most exciting. The other Ambassador concentrated on causing us fear if we did not join with her world. She did say some very…unpleasant things about the Federation.”

Jean-Luc sighed, making the alien smile again.

“It is true the Federation has enemies, Ambassador, but by joining us, you will enjoy our protection as well as our prosperity.”

The being bowed again.

“That is our hope. Now, Ambassador, with the signing of the documents your duty is complete. Would you like to enjoy our hospitality before you return to your ship?”

With his smile reaching his eyes, Jean-Luc sadly shook his head.

“No, Ambassador, but thank you. I will go and pack my things then beam up to my ship.”

“As you wish, Ambassador. Please know you are welcome to return any time you wish.”

Jean-Luc watched the remarkable being walk away and sighed.

“Time for my next job.”

He was about fifty metres from his lodgings when he sensed someone behind him. He turned, but too late. Something sharp pierced the skin of his neck and immediately he lost feeling in his body. A dark arm wrapped around him, keeping him upright as he smelled burnt cloves.

“You are mine now, Picard.”

The last thing he saw was the sparkle of a transporter beam.

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc woke up in a darkened room. He moved experimentally and found he was immobile, lying flat on a table of some sort. His eyes felt gritty and his mouth was bone dry, but apart from that, he seemed to be unhurt. Wishing to face his abductor, Jean-Luc cleared his throat and called out,

“Who are you and what do you want?”

A familiar voice came from the shadows to his left.

“I told you what would happen the next time you belittled me and my people, Picard.”

With a sigh, Jean-Luc managed to shake his head a little.

“This is so unnecessary, Loran. Let me go, you don’t think the Federation will do nothing about this?”

The alien snorted.

“I don’t give as damn about your precious Federation. By the time they know you’re missing, you will be dead.”

Showing little regard for his own life, Jean-Luc laughed outright.

“What do you hope to achieve, Loran? You kill me and someone will take my place. You will gain nothing.”

The anger in Loran’s voice thickened it.

“What will I achieve, Picard? I will get my honour back and my people will be rid of a thorn in their side.”

Jean-Luc’s bravado provoked the alien into stepping up to him menacingly.

“And what then? Hmm? Will you kill the next Federation Ambassador who annoys you? And the next and the next?”

The punch made a meaty sound as it connected under Jean-Luc’s eye. Outwardly, he didn’t react, saying softly instead,

“End this, Loran. Let me go.”

The Keloran stepped back and reached into the folds of her black robe. Her sooty hand re emerged with a remote control. She pointed it at Jean-Luc and activated it. The table he was on began to rise, continuing until it was upright. The restraints that held him didn’t give at all and Jean-Luc found he couldn’t move. She moved closer and ran her fingers through the blood that trickled from the wound under his eye her punch had caused.

Her tone of voice was almost conversational.

“I had considered stripping you naked, Picard, but the sight of a naked human male was just too repulsive. Her hand once again disappeared inside the folds of her robe. This time it emerged with a weapon.

“You would be familiar with collumnated energy weapons?”

Jean-Luc said nothing. Loran ignored his silence and went on as if he had acknowledged her.

“This weapon is somewhat different; it’s more akin to a disruptor type weapon. It has a most intriguing effect on human flesh. Let me demonstrate.”

With lazy indifference she aimed at his right knee and fired.

The beam was only activated for a second, but the effect was devastating. Jean-Luc’s knee disintegrated, but that wasn’t all. As he screamed in agony, the flesh around his knee was eaten away until his lower leg was separated from his thigh.

“You see? Wasn’t that wonderful?”

She laughed, a dry, cruel sound and aimed the weapon again and fired. This time his left knee disintegrated.

“How much time do we have, Picard? I could do this for hours, it’s most amusing.”

The wretched man blinked away his tears and glared at the Keloran. Though he was panting, his voice was strong.

“This is meaningless, Loran. You demean yourself with this behaviour.”

Anger glittered in her glowing yellow eyes as she shouted,

“You know nothing about me, Picard!”

She aimed and fired again, separating his lower arm at the elbow. Although Jean-Luc screamed, his eyes remained fixed on the alien. Loran didn’t wait for him to say anything, instead disintegrating his other elbow.

His voice ruined by screaming, Jean-Luc lifted his head and ground out,

“Why prolong this, Loran. Why don’t you just kill me?”

The alien screeched in rage.

“Why don’t you beg, human?”

Jean-Luc managed to shake his head, almost whispering,

“I won’t beg, Loran.”

The Keloran stepped back, taking several deep breaths. Having calmed herself, she seemed to smile.

“I have heard that human male’s genitals are particularly sensitive. I wonder how it would feel if I did this?”

With deliberate sloth, she raised the weapon, aimed it Jean-Luc’s groin and fired.

Jean-Luc’s scream was truncated as he lost consciousness.

He came to with someone slapping his face. He gasped in agony, his violated body resonating with searing pain.

“You don’t deserve oblivion, Picard! I haven’t finished with you yet.”

Despite his agony, Jean-Luc summoned his ruined voice to rasp,

“You are a coward, Loran.”

She raised the weapon again, anger seething through her every pore, but she hesitated and smiled.

“You are crafty, Picard. You wish to provoke me, but I am cleverer than that.”

She held up a device in her free hand.

“My scanner tells me you have an artificial heart. I wonder how long you would live without it.”

As Jean-Luc watched, Loran inputted an instruction to the weapon. She stepped up to Jean-Luc and gripped his chin, whilst pressing the muzzle of the weapon against his left breast. As she depressed the trigger she hissed,

“I hate you Picard.”

The intense beam immediately disintegrated his heart and all of the tissue around it, until a hole existed right through Jean-Luc’s body. Surprisingly, there was little blood loss. When the poor man had stopped writhing, Loran stepped back and consulted her scanner.

“I’m timing you, Picard; don’t let me down by dying too quickly.”

Breathing was becoming increasingly difficult as Jean-Luc’s brain was deprived of life sustaining blood and oxygen. His vision began to grey as he managed to say softly,

“This will haunt you for the rest of your life, Loran. I pity you.”

As Jean-Luc’s life faded away, his last thought was of his beloved Beverly.

Loran approached him slowly and scanned his dead body. She spat into his face and left the room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beverly stood, mouth agape as she stared down at her lifeless body. Shocked to her very core, her nerveless hand dropped the phaser that had so efficiently taken her life. It clattered on the floor, the sound shaking her from her numbness.

Her training took over. Stooping quickly, she picked up the phaser and systematically went around the lab, destroying all the biological specimens she could find. Then she shook her backpack off her shoulders and removed the explosive devices.

The facility she was in wasn’t large, consisting of a laboratory and a small suite of rooms containing a bedroom, bathroom and a tiny eating area.

With practiced efficiency, Beverly went from room to room, placing her explosives with care. Satisfied that the job was complete, she exited the facility and made off into the thick undergrowth, heading for her shuttle. Whilst travelling through the undergrowth she kept her mind occupied with only one set of thoughts. Get back to the shuttle and send the signal to detonate the explosives. With her mouth set in a grim line, she forged her way through the foliage, desperately trying to keep her emotions under control.

Although her tricorder clearly showed the position of the shuttle, she was startled when she burst out of the bush and found it. She made quick work of getting inside and, once she was seated in the cockpit, she activated the link to the explosives and lifted her hand to depress the switch. Hesitating momentarily, she took a deep breath and savagely stabbed her finger down. She didn’t hear the resultant explosion, but her sensors told her the task had been completed.

In an almost trance-like state, Beverly left the cockpit and walked stiffly to the aft section, before dropping into a seat and lowering her head into her hands. As she quietly began to weep, the memories of the past months came back to her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After her meeting with the mysterious officers, Beverly had been taken to a medical facility where her appearance was surgically altered. Then she was thoroughly briefed on her mission. She was told that two years from now, she was going to resign from Starfleet and disappear with the intent to manufacture a biological weapon with the express objective being to exterminate the entire Keloran species. Beverly was given a crash course in the deployment of explosives, the last known whereabouts of her future self and a new name. She was now known as Cheryl McFadden.

The last thing she had to do was to be transported into the future. The Admiral she had come to think of as the leader took her to an odd room which was perfectly round and shiny on the inside. In the exact centre was a bio bed. The old Admiral smiled in a kindly fashion and gestured for Beverly to lie down. She did so reluctantly, but when the Admiral gently patted her hand, she felt oddly reassured. He produced a hypospray and said softly,

“You cannot be awake for this.”

Beverly wanted to argue, but instead held her tongue. The hiss of the hypo was loud in the otherwise silent room. As her consciousness fled the room began to glow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was a woman there when Beverly regained her senses. The Doctor didn’t recognise the uniform the woman wore, nor did she like the way the woman said brusquely,

“Get up, we have much to do.”

Her mind was a little foggy, but Beverly rose and followed the woman from the room. She was led through a series of corridors until she came to a conference room. There, to her astonishment, stood the old Admiral, now looking even more ancient. He smiled and gestured to a seat. Beverly sat numbly, trying to make sense of her surroundings.

“I know you feel disorientated, but it will pass. We have made available a shuttle, it is voice activated, you will have no trouble operating it. Take this device, it will tell you all you need to know to begin your search.”

Beverly took the device and frowned. It was small, round, almost flat and silver in colour. She turned it in her hands, her confusion complete.

“I don’t understand. How do I use this?”

The elderly Admiral went to her and took the device. He smiled and pressed it against her right temple. Suddenly information flooded into Beverly’s head. She gasped and held up her hands. The Admiral removed the device and all was silent.

“While you were being surgically altered, Doctor, your brain was implanted with the necessary hardware to receive this device. It makes matters much more…simple.”

Before Beverly could voice her disquiet, the Admiral went on.

“We have found a woman who was a close friend…of yours…she seems to be the only person Doctor Crusher confided in. We do know the last place you were living at, but that information is at least a month old. It is hoped, if you can befriend this other woman, that she will be able to tell you where you went.”

He smiled in his gentle way and sighed.

“We do understand what it is we are asking of you, Doctor, and we also understand how difficult this must be for you, but what your future self intends to do is monstrous. She must be stopped, at whatever the cost.”

Beverly nodded slowly and sighed.

“I can’t believe what she intends and I can’t imagine what may have happened to bring her to this, but I agree with you. I’ll stop her…somehow.”

The Admiral stepped closer and gripped her arm with surprising strength.

“Let me make this clear, Doctor. If you cannot stop her, you must kill her and destroy her work. It is imperative!”

Swallowing, Beverly nodded.

“I understand.”

The old man relented slightly.

“There is something you must know, something which we think might make things clearer for you.”

Beverly’s eyebrows rose.

“Two years ago, your friend…Jean-Luc Picard…was murdered. By a Keloran.”

The colour drained from Beverly’s face. She gripped the arms of her seat, her voice barely a whisper.

“Jean-Luc…is …dead?”

The Admiral nodded sadly.

“We can’t go into details, suffice it to say his death was a terrible blow for the entire Federation.”

Beverly took a long, steadying breath.

“Well I can see how…she…would take that hard.”

The elderly man nodded.

“Yes.”

Beverly stood and summoned a wan smile.

“So…where do I start?”

The woman who had brought Beverly into the room stepped forward.

“The woman you are to meet has Grave’s disease. Your cover is that of her new treating physician.”

Beverly scowled.

“I’m not sure I want to use a patient as a source of information. That seems a little unethical.”

The Admiral snorted.

“Don’t you think that’s quibbling over trivialities? When you look at the bigger picture…”

Beverly held up a hand, her face showing her contrition.

“I understand, Sir. My apologies.”

The woman briskly walked to the door, obviously waiting for Beverly to follow her. This she did and, as they walked, the woman kept up a constant barrage of instructions.

“The shuttle is already programmed to take you to the woman’s home on Gault. You should know that Grave’s disease is not the fatal illness it once was, although the treatment is protracted. All the information you need is on your infodisc, including a comprehensive update of medical advancements. Your patient, Helen Parker, has no known relatives. Her current status is on the infodisc. Her interests include herbal medicine and music, before the onset of her disease she was an accomplished classical pianist. You will find her file most interesting.”

They had come to a transporter room.

“You will transport to your shuttle, all you have to do is identify yourself and the computer will take over. I suggest you use your travel time to bring yourself up to date with the mission as it stands.”

The woman stuck out her hand.

“Good luck, Doctor Crusher.”

In a daze, Beverly shook the woman’s hand but never had the time to say anything further. She rematerialised in a shuttle, the likes of which she’d never seen before.

She walked forward into the cockpit, sat and said tentatively,

“Crusher, Beverly.”

She got no further. The engines came on line and the sleek craft lifted off. The computer said softly,

“Good afternoon, Doctor McFadden. From this moment on, you must think of yourself as Doctor Cheryl McFadden.  Our journey to Gault will take six days. I hope you enjoy the trip.”

Saying absently,

“Thank you.”,

Beverly went aft. It wasn’t until she thought to look out the viewscreen that she noticed the planet she was leaving wasn’t Earth. She frowned and asked,

“Computer, what planet are we leaving?”

“That information is classified. Please confine yourself to queries pertaining to ship’s business only.”

Beverly glared at the ceiling and huffed, muttering to herself,

“Over officious bucket of bolts!”

She looked around and noted a black backpack leaning against the starboard bulkhead. That, she knew, contained all she would need to complete her mission. She sighed and dug in her pocket, fishing out the infodisc. She raised her hand and tentatively held the disc against her right temple.

 

 

 


© Copyright 2017 Heather Smyth. All rights reserved.

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