Confessions From The Edge Chapter 9

Confessions From The Edge Chapter 9

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 9

Author Chapter Note

Same as chapter 1

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: July 03, 2013

Reads: 278

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: July 03, 2013

A A A

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T’Krel was meditating when the chime sounded. She frowned, knowing she had asked the concierge that she not be disturbed. She stood from her position on the floor and went to the door, pulling her satin robe tighter around her. There were two men standing outside, both holding identification chips. The older of the two nodded.

“You are T’Krel?”

The Vulcan nodded.

“Yes.”

Offering his chip, he said not unkindly,

“If you would like to verify our credentials?”

T’Krel shook her head.

“Unnecessary. Who are you and what do you want?”

The older man smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes.

“I am Sergeant William Styles and my colleague is Constable Anthony McMahon. We are investigating the assault on Captain Jean-Luc Picard.”

Her face remained impassive, but shock and alarm registered in her eyes.

“Captain Picard has been assaulted?”

“Yes, Ma’am. May I ask…where were you at approximately fourteen thirty today?”

Wishing desperately to know more, T’Krel had to concentrate on answering the question.

“I was here, in my rooms.”

The Sergeant nodded.

“And can anyone corroborate that?”

Bowing her head, T’Krel had to think. Eventually she nodded.

“I think so, yes. I ordered a late lunch and the Concierge told me there was a call, not for me, but for Captain Picard, about fourteen hundred.”

“I see. Do you know who the call was from?”

T’Krel nodded again.

“Yes, Doctor Beverly Crusher.”

Consulting his PADD, Sergeant Styles sighed.

“So how long have you been in your rooms today?”

“Since about oh ten hundred.”

The policemen checked his chronometer.

“It’s now past eighteen hundred. That’s a long time to stay in one’s rooms. What were you doing all that time?”

T’Krel quickly quelled the spike of anger. She calmed herself and said quietly,

“I have some personal issues I need to work through. I have spent most of the time meditating.”

The man pursed his lips, nodding thoughtfully.

“Personal issues? How interesting. You’re Captain Picard’s fiancée, aren’t you?”

“Yes.”

“And would these…personal issues…have anything to do with him?”

Her first instinct was to tell the man it was none of his business, but she knew that would not stop him questioning her further, so she opted for the truth.

“Yes.”

“I see. Can you elaborate?”

T’Krel sighed, doing her best to stay calm.

“Captain Picard has long harboured a deep and abiding love for Doctor Crusher. She went missing for over a year and he suffered a breakdown, believing she was dead. I was his therapist. Later, once he’d recovered, I joined his ship and we developed a relationship. He eventually proposed marriage and I accepted.

“On the day we were to be married, he discovered Doctor Crusher was alive and where she was. He left the same day to find her. I followed some days later.”

The more experienced Sergeant showed no emotion, but the younger Constable muttered,

“Holy shit!”

An admonishing look silenced the younger man. Sergeant Styles spent a few minutes inputting information into his PADD. He then looked into T’Krel’s eyes.

“I am formally asking you…did you assault Captain Picard?”

The Vulcan’s eyes were gimlet like.

“No, I categorically deny assaulting him, or anyone else.”

There was a moment’s silence before T’Krel asked softly,

“May I ask the nature of the assault?”

Styles sighed, briefly closed his eyes and nodded.

“He was shot at point blank range with a phaser on a pretty high setting. He took it in the chest.”

“And his condition?”

“Critical. They have him on life support. Apparently, unless they can get a new artificial heart to him in two days…he won’t make it.”

T’Krel paled and said quietly,

“Then this will become a murder investigation.”

The man nodded.

“Yes, Ma’am.”

Styles tabbed his PADD off and wearily spoke.

“I may have more questions for you, please don’t leave Gault.”

T’Krel nodded.

“Of course.”

Once they had left, T’Krel closed her eyes and willed herself to remain calm, but inside she cried out…

“If only he had his Katra to give me…then he would live inside me forever.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although they had managed to stabilise Jean-Luc enough to put him in stasis, Beverly hovered at his bedside until well after midnight. It was Marcus who took her hand, giving it a gentle squeeze.

“There’s nothing you can do now, Beverly and you’re still recovering from your own injuries. Go home…get some rest.”

Knowing he was right didn’t make her feel any better. She felt that by leaving Jean-Luc, she was deserting him when he needed her…again. But tiredness won out. She offered a weary smile and nodded.

“Okay, but it’ll be on one condition.”

Marcus smiled.

“If anything happens, I call you ASAP.”

Beverly’s smile grew and she embarrassed the young man by kissing his cheek. She whispered in his ear,

“Thank you.”

And left.

When she got home, she was surprised to see a flitter parked in her driveway. As her headlights swept past, she saw someone seemingly asleep inside. As it was nearly one am, she frowned, thinking,

“Who the hell could that be?”

The sound of Beverly’s flitter woke the sleeping person and, as Beverly was exiting her vehicle, Helen got out of hers.

In no mood for any lectures, Beverly said tightly,

“I’m tired, Helen. I just want to go to bed.”

Helen gave a sympathetic look and proffered a basket.

“I bet you haven’t eaten. I have some lamb stew, it’s still hot.”

In defiance of Beverly’s words, her traitorous stomach rumbled with complaint. Summoning an embarrassed smile, the weary Doctor invited her friend inside.

Helen seemed to know Beverly was on edge, but she couldn’t help but mention what had happened.

“I heard about what happened to Captain Picard, it’s all over town.”

Sitting back and wiping her mouth, Beverly nodded sadly.

“Yes, I just hope they catch whoever is responsible.”

Helen shrugged and gently pushed her empty plate away.

“Well, if you ask me, he got exactly what he deserved.”

Immediately on her guard, Beverly sat up straight.

“That’s a horrible thing to say, Helen. He did nothing to deserve that, my God…he came here to see me!”

Suddenly on her feet, Helen went to Beverly’s chair, turning it until she was looming over the Doctor.

“You don’t need someone like him, my sweet Beverly. What you need is someone like me!”

She abruptly kissed Beverly full on the mouth. A stunned red head pulled free, gasping with shock.

“Helen!”

The woman took Beverly’s hands in hers and looked beseechingly into her eyes.

“All I’m asking is that you think about it, Beverly. We could be so happy…you could move in with me, continue your practice with Marcus…it would be paradise, paradise here on Gault, just you and me.”

Beverly rose to her feet and backed away a few steps.

“Helen…I’m heterosexual.”

The intense woman shrugged.

“So was I…once. But that was before I met you! Beverly…can’t you see? You saved my life so we could be together. It was kismet.”

Scrambling with her shattered thoughts, Beverly suddenly remembered something. Adopting a very conciliatory tone, the Doctor said gently,

“Helen, you may not be aware of this, but it is a known effect of recovered Grave’s disease sufferers that they sometimes experience confusion about their sexuality. I think that’s what’s happened to you.”

Anger flashed in the woman’s eyes as she advanced on the retreating Doctor.

“That’s not true! I love you Beverly and I want you to love me!”

A dreadful thought suddenly occurred to Beverly. She almost whispered as she asked,

“Did you shoot Jean-Luc?”

Helen waved away the question, obsessed in her delusional state.

“I don’t give a flying fuck about him! I want you! Please Beverly…can’t you find it in yourself to love me?”

Knowing she was in mortal danger, Beverly slowly backed into the living room, followed by the unhinged woman

“I care for you, Helen…of course I do, we’re friends, good friends.”

Helen shook her head vehemently.

“But do you love me?”

Beverly’s thigh bumped into the communication console and she slipped a hand behind her, surreptitiously tabbing the unit on. Bravely facing Helen, Beverly shook her head.

“No, Helen, I don’t love you…I love Jean-Luc.”

The scream of anguish pierced Beverly’s ears. She watched in fascinated horror as Helen literally pulled out clumps of her own hair.

“Then what can I do? How can I make you love me?”

Keeping her voice soft and calm, Beverly said sympathetically,

“You can’t. My heart belongs to another. It always has.”

There was a deadly silence before Beverly asked again,

“Did you shoot Captain Picard?”

Helen looked up and scowled.

“What if I did? He deserved it!”

Still displaying courage she didn’t know she possessed, Beverly said gently,

“Helen, I have some medicine in my med kit that will make you feel much better. How about you let me give it to you?”

The distraught woman looked into Beverly’s eyes and sighed.

“Will it make me love you any less?”

With a compassionate smile, Beverly nodded.

“It will help, yes.”

With a feral snarl, Helen picked up a vase off the table and threw it across the room.

“Then I don’t want it! How can you be a Doctor to me now when I want you as so much more?”

She turned and rushed to the door. Beverly called out,

“Helen!”

But her call was met by the slamming of the door. After a second or two of stunned silence, Beverly turned to the communication console and toggled the channel key.

“Who is there?”

The reply made her sigh with relief.

“Sergeant Styles, Doctor. Your open channel was picked up by the hospital and they re-routed it to the station. Luckily, I am still on duty.”

Beverly briefly closed her eyes and sent a prayer to any Gods who might be listening.

“Sergeant, I think Helen Parker is responsible for the attack on Captain Picard, but as a medical practitioner I have to say I believe she is a victim of diminished responsibility. She is almost certainly suffering impaired mental functions as a result of suffering Grave’s disease.”

The man sighed.

“Is it treatable?”

Beverly nodded, even though she couldn’t see to whom she was speaking.

“Yes.”

“Do you know where she went?”

Beverly shrugged.

“I have no idea…home, presumably.”

“I’ll go there now. I suggest, in the meantime, you lock all your doors and windows. If you have any concerns during the rest of the night, don’t hesitate to call.”

“Thank you, Sergeant, Crusher out.”

Beverly did as he suggested and eventually went to bed, but no sleep came that night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the police had finished their interview with T’Krel she wasted no time in quickly showering and dressing. She was at the hospital in under twenty minutes.

At first she was refused admittance to the intensive care ward, but her quiet insistence that, as Jean-Luc’s fiancée she had a right to see him, eventually paid dividends.

As she stood beside his bed, her eyes taking in the readouts on the monitors, she had enough medical training to know his situation was dire. Although outwardly she appeared calm and unemotional, inside her heart wrenched. She had an almost overwhelming desire to hold his hand and, eventually it became to strong for her to control. She picked up his hand, noting its coolness and lifted it to her own heart.

“Oh Jean-Luc…who has done this to you? Why has this happened?”

One of the attending nurses kindly offered a chair and T’Krel sat, never letting go of Jean-Luc’s hand. She stayed there throughout the long night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being the Sergeant of the local police force made William Styles the ranking officer on Gault. His superior, an Inspector, was situated on a distant Starbase, Gault considered too small to require any more than its current two officers, and it was true, crime on Gault was almost unheard of, especially serious crime.

An assault such as had occurred was rare and, if the victim did indeed die, then Sergeant Styles would be facing his very first murder investigation which, he knew with certainty, would bring not only the Inspector, but a whole slew of other officers to his small community.

His young colleague was off duty, so it was up to Styles to go and check on Helen Parker. From what he had heard over the open comm., he was relatively sure she was the assailant, but he had enough experience in his job to know that nothing was cut-and-dried.

It was almost two am when he pulled into Helen’s driveway. Her flitter was parked haphazardly across the gravelled drive and, on inspection, no lights showed in the house. Styles got out of his police flitter and activated a powerful portable searchlight. Unholstering his phaser, he approached the front door and tried the handle, unsurprised to find it locked. With little confidence of success, he rang the chime, once, then twice and then three times over a five minute period. When there was no response, he began to circle the house, checking the windows and any other doors he could find. Having twice circumnavigated the building, he found himself in the backyard. Swinging the searchlight out across the back yard, he disturbed some nocturnal animals which seemed to be very interested in something just under the canopy of a large tree. He crossed the lawn and the animals scattered into the darkness. As he neared the area he noticed a pair of legs. Hurrying forward, the beam of his light quickly illuminated the headless body of Helen Parker. In her right hand was a phaser. With the intensity of the beam that had been used, there was very little blood, cauterisation having been achieved as her head vaporised. Clutched in her left hand was a crumpled piece of paper. With a sigh of resignation, Styles went back to his flitter and retrieved a stasis bag. Once he had secured the body within the confines of the bag, he called the hospital.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ambulance arrived quickly, but silently. There was no need for lights and sirens. While he had waited, the Sergeant had scoured the surrounding area for clues and, finding nothing out of the ordinary, was entering data into a PADD as the medics rounded the corner of the home.

He turned and pointed to the body.

“Take it to the morgue. I’m pretty sure what the cause of death was, but I need to know if it was suicide or not.”

The senior medic nodded.

“Sure thing, Sergeant. Doctor Key is waiting.”

Styles sighed.

“A long night for both of us.”

The medic nodded as they loaded the body onto a litter. Styles watched them go, but called out,

“Tell Doctor Key I’ll want his report by oh seven hundred.”

“No worries, Sergeant.”

The policemen took one last look around, then made his way back to his flitter. Time to go home and try to get some sleep. He would have a very early start in the morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beverly’s sleepless night had left her feeling very fragile. Her eyes felt gritty and there were still vague pains from her injuries which she knew would dissipate with a regen treatment, but her overriding need was to get to the hospital. Not only was she eager to see Jean-Luc, but she also wanted to ask Marcus if she could take a more active role in his treatment. She knew that, in the event they got the new heart in time, it would be her who would do the transplant, but protocol required she at least ask the treating Doctor if she could join him on the case.

By six thirty should stand it no longer. She left her home and had the flitter launched in mere minutes.

Giving the desk clerk nothing more than a nod, Beverly entered the intensive ward only to stop in her tracks. There, sitting beside her beloved Jean-Luc was T’Krel…holding his bloody hand, no less! Taking a deep, calming breath, Beverly approached the bed, offered a tight smile which didn’t reach her eyes and then totally ignored the Vulcan as she scoured the monitors. When she heard the soft voice she considered pretending she hadn’t heard her, but Beverly was not by nature petty and she wasn’t about to start now.

“He is going to die, isn’t he.”

Turning her head to look at the woman, Beverly’s face showed her defiance.

“Not if I can help it, no.”

T’Krel’s eyes fell to Jean-Luc and Beverly almost gasped at seeing the flash of anguish that so very quickly passed over her face.

“But his heart…”

Taking pity on her rival, Beverly’s voice was soft as he said,

“One is on its way; we just have to hope it arrives in time.”

T’Krel sighed.

“Time. It is time that is his enemy.”

With a sigh of her own, Beverly inclined her head.

“It is the enemy of us all, I think.”

Silence descended for a while before Beverly asked,

“How long have you been here?”

Not looking up, T’Krel muttered,

“All night.”

Jealously flared in Beverly, but she quickly quashed it. Adopting professional briskness in her tone, she asked,

“How was he during the night?”

Sitting up straighter and mirroring Beverly’s stiffer posture, T’Krel reported,

“No change.”

With a nod, Beverly made a minute adjustment to the intravenous feed, more to have something to do than actually needing to do it.

“Well being on total life support and in stasis I would expect little else.”

Another silence settled over them, but T’Krel wanted more information.

“If the new heart doesn’t arrive in time…what will happen? How will it…”

Beverly’s eyes glittered.

“How will he die?”

T’Krel’s reply was almost inaudible.

“Yes.”

Trying to be utterly dispassionate, Beverly only partly succeeded.

He will quickly suffer a cascading, systematic failure of his vital organs. The breakdown will rapidly spread to his brain, resulting in a mercifully quick death.”

“He will feel nothing?”

Beverly shook her head.

“No. He is, at present, in a medically induced coma. He will stay that way, whether he gets a new heart or not.”

T’Krel sighed deeply.

“If only he had a Katra to give me.”

With a frown, Beverly hitched her backside onto the side of the bed and asked softly,

“A Katra?”

T’Krel looked up, the sadness in her eyes making them darker.

“What you would call a soul. In Vulcans, we are able to pass on our Katra…the very essence of who and what we are, to a loved one, thereby remaining with them for life. Over time, our Katra can be preserved for eternity.”

Beverly looked down at Jean-Luc and couldn’t stop the tears from forming.

“He lives in me, my memory.”

With a shake of her head, T’Krel said not unkindly, but with brutal honesty,

“But with your death, he will die too. Again.”

Defiantly, Beverly glared at her impassive colleague.

“But his exploits…all he has done and achieved are in Starfleet’s archives! Cadets learn from his experiences on a daily basis. His name will live forever.”

T’Krel sighed and shook her head.

“His name, even all his vast experiences, yes, they have been preserved, but not the man. Will those cadets ever know what sort of man he was? How deep his passions…his convictions…his flaws? No, Doctor Crusher, when his life finally leaves him, all that he was will be lost forever.”

Devastated and very angry, Beverly hissed,

“You are talking as if he’s already dead! Unlike you, I have hope!”

There was a tense silence as Beverly strove for calm. Then she said quietly,

“Do you believe in an afterlife?”

Somewhat surprised by the question, T’Krel looked up at Beverly with a speculative gaze.

“With the ability to pass on our Katra, we need none. So no, I do not.”

She then asked quietly,

“Do you?”

Beverly didn’t answer immediately. She sat motionlessly, staring down at Jean-Luc before she almost whispered,

“I don’t know, but if such a thing exists, I’d like to think, once we’re both…gone…we would be together for eternity.”

T’Krel’s softly worded question seemed to come from a great distance.

“You love him with intensity, do you not.”

Beverly looked into the Vulcan’s eyes and finally admitted out loud what had been in her heart for a very long time.

“For more than thirty years.”

The next question made Beverly swallow to wet her suddenly dry mouth.

“Will you survive if he dies?”

She tried to summon her voice, but it failed. All she could manage was a strangled whisper.

“I don’t know.”

T’Krel’s face settled into an emotionless mask. She gently placed Jean-Luc’s hand on the bed, then stood. Looking at Beverly she said softly,

“If he survives we will have much to discuss, however logic tells me he is destined to be with you. I will leave now…I will give you this time with him. I hope…for your sake, that he survives.”

Beverly, tears trickling down her face, whispered,

“Thank you.”

T’Krel bowed her head and left.

 

Sergeant William Styles was becoming increasingly annoyed. He had requested the autopsy report at seven. It was now seven forty-five and he was still waiting. Constable McMahon had learned early in his tenure that when his boss was in this sort of mood, it was best to leave him alone, but he did brave the Sergeant’s demeanour to quietly enter the office and put a mug of steaming coffee on the desk. Styles looked up and quickly turned his glare into a wan smile.

“Thanks Tony, I think I need that.”

The younger man offered a wary smile.

“Let me know if I can help.”

Styles sighed deeply.

“Bloody Doctors…they’re a law unto themselves.”

Just then his desk monitor came to life, displaying none other than Doctor Marcus Key.

“Good morning, Sergeant Styles.”

The cheery greeting made Styles grit his teeth. In a barely controlled growl he rumbled,

“Do you know what time it is?”

Making a show of looking at his antique wrist watch, Marcus nodded.

“Yes, it’s nearly eight.”

Sighing to keep his temper under control, Styles asked with barely stifled irritation,

“Didn’t I request the autopsy report for seven?”

Marcus adopted a sympathetic look that made Styles want to punch him.

“Ah yes…that. Look, I’m sorry, Susan Harmony went into labour last night…she had a boy, by the way…and I was a little busy. But…”

He held up a PADD.

“I have finished the post mortem.”

“And?”

Marcus’s bonhomie slowly disappeared.

“Suicide, no question.”

Styles sighed.

“And the crumpled piece of paper?”

“Her suicide note. Actually…”

Marcus flushed, making Styles immediately curious.

“What?”

With a deep sigh, Marcus briefly closed his eyes.

“It was a love letter, Sergeant…to Doctor Crusher.”

Despite his years of experience, the Sergeant’s eyebrows rose.

“Really. I wasn’t aware they were lovers.”

Marcus shrugged.

“As far as I know they weren’t, in fact…and I’d known Helen Parker a long time, I didn’t even know she was gay. I don’t know what was going on Sergeant, but Beverly Crusher is in love with Captain Jean-Luc Picard, that I do know for certain.”

His memory kicking in, Styles rubbed his gritty eyes. Not enough sleep last night.

“As I recall, what I heard last night sounded like unrequited love gone awry. In any case, I need to see that letter.”

Feeling protective, Marcus frowned.

“But it’s addressed to Doctor Crusher.”

His glare was enough to stamp out any further protests.

“It is evidence, Doctor. Crusher will get it when I am finished with my enquires, not before.”

Marcus nodded his compliance, but a spark of defiance remained.

“Can I tell her about it at least?”

Styles shook his head.

“I’d rather you didn’t, Doctor. I don’t interfere in your work, please don’t dabble in mine. I’ll come by the hospital in ten minutes. Have the letter there for me to pick up. Styles out.”

Marcus glared at the blank screen and muttered,

“Officious bastard!”

But the letter was waiting for Styles when he got to the hospital.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will Riker gripped his seat with all the strength he possessed as the mighty ship was pummelled as she fought her way through the nebula at warp nine point eight. As another blast made her stagger, the red alert siren sounded. The calm voice of the computer informed Will,

“The inertial dampeners are off line.”

Maintaining his grip of his seat with one hand, Will looked up as he pressed the general call button on his console.

“Attention all personnel. Inertial dampeners are off line. Brace for continuous impacts!”

The words had just left his mouth when an enormous blast tilted the ship off her axis. Most of the Bridge crew managed to hold on, but an unfortunate few were thrown off their feet, slamming against the port bulkhead. Sparks showered from the aft stations and smoke rose insidiously from broken conduits. Grimly, Will lifted his head and called,

“Engineering, this is the Bridge. Geordi…can we keep this speed up?”

Over the klaxons and shouts of his staff, Geordi could be heard giving frantic orders.

“That depends, Commander. Just how much longer until we’re clear?”

Will grinned mirthlessly.

“If we can maintain this speed, only about seven minutes.”

He heard Geordi sigh.

“Okay, I think I can hold her together, but she’s going to be in one hell of a mess once we get to the other side.”

“Understood, but can we maintain the speed until we reach Gault?”

Geordi was aware of why such undue haste was vitally necessary.

“I’ll make sure we can, Sir. I’ll take power from life support if I have to.”

Will’s grin became fixed.

“Just get us there, Geordi, the Captain’s life depends on it.”

“I know, Sir. Engineering out.”

The Ensign at the Con was gripping her console with both hands as the ship was tossed about like a cork in a stormy sea. The pale young woman half turned her head to say loudly,

“Three minutes, Commander.”

Another teeth shattering blast hit the ship and she staggered again, but her forward velocity remained unchanged. Will looked up at the ceiling, seeing ruptured conduits and exposed optical cabling. He closed his eyes briefly and gritted his teeth.

“Just hold together lady, your master needs you.”

Down in Sick Bay, Selar twice went to check on the stasis container that was carrying the new heart. It was situated within a force field, but, such was the dreadful shaking the ship was experiencing, the Doctor felt the need, illogical as it was, to check to see that it was undamaged. Lieutenant Alyssa Ogawa, Beverly’s friend and now head nurse, caught Selar’s eye as she came out of the stasis lab. The Vulcan Doctor gave a curt nod and Alyssa uncrossed her fingers. As the two women got close, Alyssa shouted to be heard over the cacophony of breaking equipment.

“How much longer?”

Selar tilted her head, then lurched to one side, grabbing a biobed as the ship violently tilted again. Alyssa wasn’t so lucky; she was thrown off her feet and slammed into the bulkhead. Selar crawled to her, taking her arm and holding it up.

“I believe you have broken your ulna.”

Alyssa looked down at the unnatural angle of her arm and paled considerably.

“I think you’re right.”

Just then, the lights went out. It took only seconds for the auxiliary lighting to come on. Then, as the Sick Bay staff looked on in awe, the gravity ceased to function. Selar yelled over the racket,

“Hold on to something fixed to the deck!”

As items began to float around the facility, and as the ship lurched and shuddered, these seemingly innocuous items became lethal. Then, just as the staff were beginning to think the hell would never cease, there was a sudden silence. The ship stopped her mad dance and the lighting flickered.

On the Bridge, the young Lieutenant at the Con said shakily,

“We’re out, Sir.”

Will’s death grip of his chair eased and his knuckles creaked in protest. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, before tapping his comm. badge.

“Bridge to Engineering.”

Over the sounds of organised chaos, Geordi responded.

“LaForge here, Commander.”

“How bad is it Geordi?”

There was some gallows humour present as Geordi replied,

“Well, we’re going to need a space dock to repair most of the damage, but we’re maintaining warp nine point eight….just don’t ask me how.”

“What systems are out?”

Will heard Geordi sigh.

“Main power is on auxiliary, inertial dampeners are down, gravity and climate control are malfunctioning and life support is iffy on some decks, but I’ve managed to keep up minimum requirements until we can evacuate those affected areas.”

Will smiled, but there was no humour in it.

“Well done, Mr.LaForge. Do what you can, once we get to Gault you can take all the time you need.”

He heard Geordi chuckle.

“It won’t be time I’ll need, Commander; it’ll be a space dock. I wasn’t kidding.”

Shaking his head, Will rubbed his eyes, stinging from the smoke.

“Understood, Bridge out.”

He turned his attention to the Con.

“ETA at Gault?”

Now that she didn’t have to hang on to her console and the terrifying ride was over, the young woman turned and smiled at her CO.

“Five point three hours, Sir.”

Will nodded his acceptance and lifted his head.

“Riker to Data.”

“Data here, Commander, go ahead.”

“Data, I want you to go through the ship, identify the worst areas of damage and evacuate those areas if necessary.”

“Aye, Sir. Geordi has told me Sick Bay is without adequate lighting or gravity. I believe we should make that a priority.”

Will nodded.

“Agreed. Bridge out.”

He wanted to cross his fingers, but it seemed un-Commander-like, so instead he just mentally said a prayer.

“Bridge to Sick bay.”

It was Selar who answered.

“Sick Bay here.”

“How are things down there, Doctor?”

“We have many injured and more arriving all the time, Commander. I suggest you send any personnel with medical training to assist us.”

“Understood. Engineering is making you a priority. Hopefully you will have gravity and full lighting restored soon.”

“Thank you, Commander. Is that all?”

Will grimaced.

“I know you’re very busy, Doctor, but did the heart make through unscathed?”

“Yes, Commander. The container in which it is stored was fixed to the counter. I do not believe in luck, Sir, but it was fortunate to have survived without damage.”

Will chuckled mirthlessly.

“I only wish the rest of the ship had been so fortunate, Doctor. Riker out.”

The forward viewscreen was, miraculously, still functioning and Will looked at the prismatic passage of the stars with grim satisfaction. That was until they suddenly became pinpoints of icy light. Before he could call Engineering, Geordi’s frustrated voice came through.

“Bridge, we’ve just lost warp power.”

Will’s barked,

“Why?”

Made Geordi sigh.

“The fusion reactor chamber has suffered a shut down. I’m still running diagnostics, but as yet, I don’t know why.”

Will’s voice showed both his frustration and his desperation.

“Geordi we need warp power!”

The dark engineer replied with perfunctory anger.

“I know!” Then he remembered himself. “Sorry, Commander, we’re working on it, I know how important it is.”

Will rubbed again at his eyes, wondering why the environmental controls had not yet cleared the smoke from the air.

“Do we have impulse engines?”

“Yes, Sir.”

Not bothering to close the channel to Engineering, Will turned his attention to the Ensign at the Con.

“Engage at full impulse and give me a revised ETA at Gault at that speed.”

The young woman didn’t want to deliver the news.

“Two days, eight hours, Sir.”

Slamming is fist down on his thigh, Will closed his eyes and shook his head.

“Oh Christ, he’ll die before we can get there! Riker to Data.”

“Data here, Sir.”

“Data, which of our shuttles or runabouts is the fastest?”

The reply was instant.

“The runabout, “Monash” is the fastest, Commander. It is capable of warp seven point five.”

“Can we do anything to it to increase the speed?”

“Yes, Sir. If we…”

“Do it, Data. Get down to the Shuttle Bay and do whatever you need to make that bloody craft go faster.”

“Aye, Commander.”

Geordi’s voice came through again.

“Bridge, this is Engineering.”

Will sighed, knowing it would be bad news.

“Go ahead, Geordi.”

“I can’t fix it, Sir. The reactor is cracked, I’ve had to initiate isolation protocols, half of Engineering is now sealed off. I guess the stress proved too much after all.”

Will closed his eyes and sighed.

“Understood, Geordi. Shift your focus to repairing the downed systems, especially Sick Bay.”

Will could hear the defeat in his friend’s voice.

“Aye, Sir. LaForge out.”

Turning in his seat, will looked up at the Lieutenant at Tactical.

“Have we got subspace communications capabilities?”

The man tapped a few areas of his console and nodded.

“Yes, Sir.”

Will nodded curtly.

“Right. Contact Gault hospital and request to speak to Doctor Crusher. If you can, put her on viewer.”

There was a wait of nearly ten minutes, during which Will kept an eye on the incoming damage reports. Finally the Tactical officer said quietly,

“I have Doctor Crusher, Sir. On screen.”

The image of the stars gave way to a grainy visage of Will’s dear friend. She knew immediately it wasn’t a social call. She tried to keep the alarm out of her voice as she asked softly,

“What’s wrong?”

Will sighed.

“Our ride through the nebula didn’t go exactly as planned. We maintained speed alright, but once we were clear we lost warp drive. We’ve got massive damage all over the ship and we’ve been reduced to impulse power.”

Beverly’s eyes shone with unshed tears.

“But Will…”

He held up one hand.

“I know. Right now, Data is modifying our fastest runabout…we may be able to get warp eight, perhaps a bit more out of it and I intend to send it to you with the heart as soon as I can. But…it’s going to be about eight hours before you get it.”

Shaking her head in stunned disbelief, Beverly all but stuttered,

“Eight hours?…but Will…”

Holding up both hands, Will tried to keep the anger and frustration out of his voice. He was only partially successful.

“You’re just going to have to find a way to keep him alive!”

Then he calmed himself.

“I’m sorry, Beverly, but my hands are tied. We’re doing all we can, but the runabout is all I can offer. Our warp drive is going to require the services of a space dock to repair.”

Her mind finally seeing the situation from Will’s perspective, Beverly summoned a wan smile.

“And I suppose your report to Command is going to be somewhat…uncomfortable.”

Will grinned, but it was a tired expression.

“They’re not going to be too pleased with me. Ploughing through the Stenson Nebula at warp nine point eight was always going to cause trouble when the recommended speed is three quarters impulse. And then there’s the little matter of the Enterprise just out of McKinley station after a major refit.”

Beverly sighed, her eyes dropping.

“I’m sorry, Will.”

He shrugged, the grin acquiring some of his trademark cheekiness.

“Nothing I can’t handle, Beverly…don’t worry about it.”

His grin faded.

“How’s the Captain?”

Beverly looked over her shoulder towards the intensive care ward. She slowly turned back to the viewer.

“Not so good. He was holding his own in stasis, but the organ failure has begun. I don’t know if we can slow it down enough for you to get here in time.”

Speaking very softly, Will felt his eyes moisten.

“You have to, Beverly, please…”

Smiling through her tears, the red head’s eyes shimmered.

“I’ll do everything humanly possible, Will, I promise.”

Lifting his hand in a sad farewell, Will said with as much conviction as he could muster,

“If anyone can do it, it’s you, Beverly. He’s in the best of care with you by his side.”

Beverly kissed her fingers and waved. Barely able to speak, she managed,

“Hurry, Will…Crusher out.”

Will had to swallow the lump in his throat before he could bark,

“Riker to Data!”

“Data here.”

“How are things going with the runabout?”

“I have almost finished, Commander.”

Offering up yet another prayer, Will asked with trepidation,

“How fast will it go?”

“Warp eight point eight.”

About to breathe a sigh of relief, Data’s voice continued.

“However there may be a problem. In order to achieve this amount of speed, I have sacrificed many of the onboard systems. There is a very good chance the warp core will not sustain the velocity long enough to reach Gault.”

Will’s explosive curse shocked the Bridge crew.

“Fucking hell!”

Data was not shocked. He carried on as of Will had not spoken.

“I may, however, have a solution.”

Short on patience and frustrated beyond his limit, will shouted,

“What the hell is it?”

His voice calm, Data replied,

“I will volunteer to pilot the runabout.”

That brought Will up short.

“Why Data, why you? Why not me, I am the most highly qualified pilot aboard.”

“Two reason’s Commander, although I do recognise your superiority in this field. One: I can adjust to compensate for the failing systems faster than anyone else and two: If a hull breach occurs, which is a distinct possibility, I can operate in a vacuum.”

The iron clad logic of Data’s pronouncements still didn’t quell Will’s overriding need to be the one to pilot the runabout. However he was too good a leader not to admit that his Third in Command was inexorably right. Will took a deep breath, trying unsuccessfully to calm himself. He made a concerted effort to unclench his fists and sighed, the frustration and anger subsiding to a smouldering fire within him.

“Very well, Data, I give you my permission to volunteer…and my gratitude. When will you be able to leave?”

“The runabout is ready, Commander. All I have to do is secure the heart from Sick Bay.”

Will gave a decisive nod.

“Then do it, Data and get going ASAP.”

“Yes, Sir.”

 

 


© Copyright 2017 Heather Smyth. All rights reserved.

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