Struggle For Life

Struggle For Life

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Fan Fiction

Summary

A diplomatic mission goes awry. A world leader chooses Picard as her consort. Crusher must fight for him. Things go horribly wrong for both of them.

Summary

A diplomatic mission goes awry. A world leader chooses Picard as her consort. Crusher must fight for him. Things go horribly wrong for both of them.

Chapter1 (v.1) - Struggle For Life

Author Chapter Note

A diplomatic mission goes awry. A world leader chooses Picard as her consort. Crusher must fight for him. Things go horribly wrong for both of them.

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 17, 2012

Reads: 1149

Comments: 1

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Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 17, 2012

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Struggle For Life.

 

 

 

 

Chief Medical Officer, Beverly Picard stood clad in nothing but bra and panties and looked down at the flimsy, short bladed knife in her right hand. The eight-by-eight metre startlingly white padded square she was on made her squint as she looked up at her opponent. The Doge of Ventraxia stood taller than Beverly and her lithe, bronze, naked body was covered with a translucent armour and in her right hand was a wicked long knife, far sturdier than the small weapon Beverly held in her sweaty hand. She chanced a glace to her left at her husband. He was stripped to his briefs, but his eyes were glazed and he was covered in scratches, some gouges, deep bite marks and bruises. Even the top of his bald head was marked. The front of his briefs was covered in what seemed to be fresh blood; in fact, blood was running down his legs. His upper arms had braided and beaded bands around them, his body had been painted in long, blue lines and upon his head he wore a band of gold, the middle of which was a crest of gems.

Two muscular guards held his arms, although it seemed he could barely stand by himself anyway, while behind him, another guard held a weapon to the base of his skull.

To her right, Commander William Riker and Commander Deanna Troi were both on their knees, their hands tied to their ankles. Their comm. badges had been removed.

“My God,” thought Beverly. “How has it come to this?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It had begun three days before. Jean-Luc and Beverly lay entwined in each other’s arms, enjoying the afterglow of their lovemaking. It was early and each knew they had time to luxuriate, the alarm not due to sound for another hour or so.

As usual, Jean-Luc was sleepy, but Beverly wanted to talk. She kissed his stubbled chin and ran her fingers over his ribs. He grunted, grabbing her wrist with very fast reflexes. He mumbled,

“Don’t.” but didn’t open his eyes. It was with some surprise that Beverly had discovered how ticklish he was. And in how many places. She extracted her hand and reached over to lightly wriggle her fingers over his backside. This time he growled, opened his eyes and again, grabbed her hand.

“I said, don’t.”

Beverly smiled innocently and gently bit his earlobe.

“Well at least I have your attention.”

He sighed, grumbling,

“Wench.”

With a mischievous giggle, Beverly splayed her hand on his chest, idly playing with his soft hair.

“I want to know more about the mission.”

Jean-Luc groaned softly in complaint.

“Beverly…”

She shook her head.

“Come on…give! After all, part of it does involve Sick Bay.”

He sighed heavily.

“You’re not going to give up, are you; despite the fact there’ll be a comprehensive briefing for all senior officers in a few hours?”

She giggled again.

“Why be married to the Captain if not to get all the inside goss?”

He smiled in the darkness of their bedroom.

“So that’s why you married me?”

She reached under the blankets and took hold of his flaccid penis.

“That and the fact you’re well hung.”

He took her hand and lifted it to his lips, kissing her palm.

“You, my dear Beverly, are incorrigible.”

She shrugged.

“I know…now come on, give!”

He sighed in capitulation.

“Oh, very well. The government of Ventraxia contacted the Federation about four weeks ago to invite us to take part in a trade. They say the have a vaccine for the Fennin virus and all they want in return is some assistance with their central computer core. Apparently a solar flare has damaged it and they are at a loss as to know how to repair it. Geordi says we can help, so Command sent us to make First Contact.”

Pushing her unruly locks away from her face, Beverly muttered,

“A cure for the fennin virus? Wow, that’s really something. It’s been decimating the outer colonies for months. We’ve been worried sick that it would break through our quarantine lines and get lose in the quadrant.”

Jean-Luc nodded.

“Indeed.”

Warming to the conversation, Beverly asked,

“What do we know about Ventraxia?”

Jean-Luc yawned and then rubbed his chin.

“Not that much. We do know they have a centralised, unisex government, but they have a matriarchic head of state, known as the Doge. We have been advised she is to be addressed as Madam Doge and we are not to make eye contact with her unless invited to do so.”

Beverly hummed with interest.

“Hmm, interesting. Will you invite them aboard?”

Jean-Luc shrugged.

“I’m not sure, we know they have warp capabilities, so the Prime Directive isn’t an issue in that respect, but I am a little concerned about the crew not being able to abide by the no eye contact rule with the Doge. As you know, eye contact amongst humans is an important part of communication. I would hate for some sort of diplomatic faux pas to develop because of something so innocuous.”

He sighed.

“I suppose we’ll be guided by their protocols once we arrive.”

Beverly gave a thoughtful nod.

“I see your problem, but I’m sure we can work something out. In the meantime, I want to show you another reason why I married you.”

As Jean-Luc watched with barely contained amusement, Beverly disappeared under the covers and began to lick and suck his penis. His amusement vanished as a sensuous moan slipped free of his mouth. Beverly took his hardening penis in her mouth and slid up and down before letting him slip free so she could say,

“You have remarkable recuperative powers, my love.”

His arousal escalating, Jean-Luc threw the covers off, grabbed Beverly’s arm and pulled her up to the pillows. He kissed her with unbridled passion and proceeded to ravish her thoroughly. They were still panting in each other’s arms when the alarm sounded.

Jean-Luc cursed softy before saying gruffily,

“Off!”

He lowered his head to rest on Beverly’s shoulder and she felt his entire body relax. Knowing that if she didn’t rouse him he would drift off to a deep sleep, Beverly shoved at his shoulders, saying loudly,

“Oh no you don’t! Get off me and get out of bed.”

He lifted his head and grumbled,

“It’s your damned fault!”

Showing mock sympathy, Beverly kissed the tip of his nose.

“There, there, Jean-Luc. Once the briefing is over you can take a nap in the Ready Room.”

He snorted.

“You’re all heart.”

But he did as she requested, pulling out of her and rolling out of the bed to sit on its side. Beverly knelt behind him and draped her arms over his shoulders, whispering in his ear,

“Want to know another reason why I married you?”

He turned his head to see her and nodded silently, a glint of happiness in his eyes.

“Because I love you.”

He sighed and kissed her ear.

“And I love you, now come on, let’s shower, I’ll wash your back.”

Beverly chuckled and left the bed to take Jean-Luc’s hands and pull him to his feet.

“God, what did I do without you? I must have wandered around with an unwashed back!”

The slap to Beverly’s backside was loud and made her yelp. She dashed into the bathroom, Jean-Luc hot on her heels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The senior officers were all assembled around the curved conference table in the forward observation lounge. As usual, Will Riker sat to his Captain’s left, Beverly to his right. Taking up the other seats were Counsellor Deanna Troi, Chief Science Officer, Lieutenant-Commander Data, Chief Engineer, Lieutenant-Commander Geordi LaForge and Chief of Security, Lieutenant-Commander Worf.

Jean-Luc looked around the table as he so often did, ever grateful for the extraordinarily wonderful staff he had at his disposal. He brought the meeting to its beginning with a simple question.

“I take it you have familiarised yourselves with the information package Command sent us about the Ventraxians?”

Nods all round with a soft chorus of, “Yes, Sir.”

Jean-Luc gave a decisive nod.

“Then you are aware of the stipulation that, should you be introduced to the Doge, there is to be no eye contact unless invited.”

Again, the chorus of assent.

“Then you will understand my reservations about bringing her aboard, but if she requests a tour of the ship, I will expect your department heads to have fully informed the crew about the rules.”

Will Riker ran his fingers through his beard.

“I’m confident the crew will do their best to comply, Captain, but eye contact is instinctive in humans. If the Doge were to address one of the crew, I don’t know that they would be able to resist looking into her eyes.”

With a sigh, Jean-Luc nodded.

“I know what you mean, Number One. The only thing I can suggest is that I explain our penchant for eye contact and apologise in advance should anyone fail to uphold the protocol.”

Deanna Troi said quietly,

“In many cultures, direct eye to eye contact is seen as a confrontational gesture, a proclamation of superiority. Is that the case here?”

Shrugging, Jean-Luc sighed.

“To be absolutely honest, we don’t know. The restriction does not apply to the Prime Minister or the rest of the government…only the Doge.”

Data, the android Second Officer, tilted his head and pulled down the corners of his mouth.

“Is her position one of hereditary, or is she democratically installed?”

Lifting his hands to give his words form, Jean-Luc’s face was stoic, but his eyes showed his concern.

“Her position is hereditary. Apparently the female line of her family extends back many hundreds of years. It is the eldest female child who inherits and training begins at age three.”

Data absorbed that, and then asked,

“And what power does she wield, Sir? Is she constrained at all by the Prime Minister or the government?”

Now showing the slightest hint of distaste, Jean-Luc shook his head.

“No, her power is absolute. Her government takes care of the everyday running of her planet, but her wishes are sacrosanct. In fact, she literally has the power of life and death, being able to overrule any judgements of their courts.”

Beverly scowled.

“You say life and death. Do they have capital punishment on Ventraxia?”

Knowing his reply would bring a heated discussion later; Jean-Luc sighed and bowed his head.

“Unfortunately, yes.”

Beverly’s tone was dangerous.

“That is outrageous!”

Adopting a no-nonsense tone, Jean-Luc said succinctly,

“Be that as it may, Doctor, that is their way and we are not in a position to criticise. They are not members of the Federation, nor have they asked to join. We cannot apply our social norms to them, you know that.”

Not mollified in the least, Beverly wasn’t willing to give up.

“But still, Captain, capital punishment? That’s draconian…it’s barbaric!”

Will covered his grin with his hand as Deanna poked him in the ribs. These head butting sessions between Jean-Luc and Beverly had been going on for years and now that the combatants were married, Will found it inordinately amusing to see his Captain try to use his rank to keep his wife’s temper under control. He often wondered what went on in the privacy of their quarters, when rank went out the proverbial window.

“Doctor!”

Beverly snapped her mouth closed, but there was fire in her eyes. They clearly said…”This isn’t over by a long shot, Jean-Luc!”

Bringing the meeting back on track, Jean-Luc did his best to ignore the daggers being sent from his wife’s eyes.

“The government has allowed the crew to take shore leave on the planet and I see no reason why they can’t do so, provided they’ve been well briefed on Ventraxian law.”

He took a deep breath and went on.

“The away team to be presented to the Doge and the Prime Minister will consist of myself, Commander Riker, Doctor Picard and Counsellor Troi.”

He turned his attention to Will.

“Number One, as my First Officer, you will act as my Adjutant. Doctor, your attendance is obvious; we need you to verify the efficacy of the vaccine.”

He turned to Deanna.

“Counsellor, I want your analysis of the people we meet, especially the Doge. If I am prevented from having any meaningful contact with her, I want to know what her mental state is. Having been sequestered since the age of three, anything is possible. If she is at all unstable, I want to know.”

All three officers nodded. Jean-Luc looked down the table at Data.

“Mr.Data, you will have command of the ship during our absence.”

The android gave a nod.

“Aye, Sir.”

The Captain looked around the table, feeling as he always did, pride in his staff.

“ETA, Mr.Data?”

“One and a half days, Captain.”

Placing his hands palm down on the tabletop, Jean-Luc pushed his seat back.

“Then if there’s nothing else, you’re dismissed.”

As the officers filed out of the room, Beverly moved close to her husband and muttered,

“Capital punishment indeed!”

Jean-Luc sighed and briefly closed his eyes. The end of his shift was going to bring yet another argument about the Prime Directive with his wife.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sitting at his Ready Room desk, Jean-Luc brought up a picture of the Prime Minister. He was an impressive looking individual. Tall with flowing snowy white hair, his mahogany skin was glossy; giving his violet eyes a gem-like appearance. He, like all of his species, had a series of ridges above the eyes and a cleft chin. Jean-Luc knew from the information he had read that the females had four breasts and hair that was more yellow than white. Also, the females occasionally had orange eyes, a genetic trait the Doge carried.

Curious, Jean-Luc accessed more of the info pack to see if there was a picture of the Doge, but his hopes were dashed as he read it was illegal to take any images of the woman. He sat back and sighed. His long years as a Starfleet Captain had taught him that, when encountering a new species, there was no such thing as enough information.

He detested going into a First Contact situation without all the cards in the deck. He felt uneasy, but couldn’t put his finger on why. His musings were interrupted by his door chime. With his eyes still on the monitor, he called distractedly,

“Come.”

Worf, the hulking Klingon Security Chief came into the room and stood at attention before Jean-Luc’s desk. The Captain looked up, his intuition already telling him what Worf wanted. However, Jean-Luc went through the motions.

“Yes, Mr.Worf?”

The big man clasped his hands behind his back and lowered his steely gaze until he had his Captain’s eyes.

“Sir, I do not think it wise you go down to the planet without a security detail.”

Jean-Luc sighed inwardly.

“I understand your concern, Worf, but this is a diplomatic mission. We don’t expect any trouble.”

The Klingon’s brow descended so low it almost occluded his fierce eyes.

“But, Captain, we know so little about these people…and this…Doge.”

Pursing his lips, Kean-Luc nodded thoughtfully.

“That is true, but sometimes you just have to trust that your preparations hold you in good stead. This is one of those times.”

The big man all but growled,

“I do not like it!”

Jean-Luc summoned a small smile.

“To be honest, neither do I but really, Worf, I cannot present myself and my party to the senior government officials with a security detail in tow. How would that look? What sort of message would we be sending? Remember…they contacted us, not the other way around…and we need their vaccine.”

Showing his teeth in a snarl, Worf was unwilling to concede.

“Why would they offer such a thing in the first place? They could have contacted any number of other species to assist them with their computer core. Why the Federation?”

Jean-Luc spread his hands.

“Perhaps they’ve heard of us and are…impressed. Maybe they’re considering a request to join and want to…test the waters? I don’t know, Worf, all I do know is that I have a mission to complete and that’s exactly what I intend to do.”

Worf snorted.

“But without security.”

Jean-Luc smiled and nodded.

“Without security.”

Worf shook his head and finally accepted his Captain’s wishes, but, as he turned to leave he muttered,

“I still do not like it.”

As the door closed, Jean-Luc’s smile faded.

“Neither do I. Worf, neither do I.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As he’d predicted, the minute he walked into his quarters at shift’s end, Beverly confronted him, her adversarial posture of arms folded across her chest at least giving him some warning. As he undid, then slipped out of his uniform top, Beverly advanced on him, unfolding one arm to point with her finger.

“We have no business entering into any sort of trade negotiations with a people who practice capital punishment.”

Jean-Luc tried to keep his exasperated sigh inside, but some of it was evident. Once Beverly was close enough, he gently put his hands on her shoulders, saying softly,

“What is the death toll from the fennin virus so far?”

Some of the superiority left Beverly’s face as her eyes saddened.

“Over five hundred thousand and growing.”

He looked into her eyes, trying to make her see sense.

“And you would have us refuse a vaccine because your moral senses have been offended?”

Turning away from her husband, Beverly stalked across the room, her anger back.

“That’s unfair! Just because the Ventraxians have developed a vaccine, which, by the way, we don’t know yet if it’s viable, doesn’t mean we should accept the fact that they indulge in murder by the state! Jean-Luc, capital punishment is wrong! It has been demonstrated over centuries it’s not an effective deterrent of crime and is an insult to any civilised species. We simply can’t ignore this!”

In the heated silence, Jean-Luc walked to the sideboard and took out an authentic bottle of scotch. He poured a generous amount into two tumblers and went to his wife, silently offering her his peace offering. She took it and was about to toss back the smooth liquor, when Jean-Luc gently touched his glass to hers.

“Here’s hoping that contact with the Federation may one day change their ways.”

Beverly sighed and stared into the depths of the rich amber liquid.

“Can’t we do anything, my love?”
Shaking his head slowly, Jean-Luc whispered,

“You know we can’t.”

She tried one last time,

“But…”

Growing tired of the discussion, Jean-Luc tipped his head back and downed his scotch.

He looked into Beverly’s eyes, his face unreadable.

“There’s no point to this, Beverly. My hands are tied by the Prime Directive…and I happen to agree with it, although I also agree with you. Capital punishment is an obscenity, one I am ashamed to admit once existed in my own culture, but I cannot, in fact I will not violate the Prime Directive just because the legal practices of an alien culture I find unpalatable. You know this and, quite frankly, I am growing very tired of having to defend myself every time one of these situations arises. Do you have any idea how it makes me feel?”

Beverly downed her scotch in two swallows and resisted the urge to cough. With her eyes watering slightly she hissed,

“Oh, but you beak it when it suits you.”

Jean-Luc briefly closed his eyes and sighed.

“Yes, I have broken the Prime Directive on more than one occasion; in fact I broke it once to save your son’s life. Beverly rules are not absolute, nor are we automatons, mindlessly following the edicts of a distant government. I have to assess each and every situation on its merits and yes, there are times when the Prime Directive has to be ignored, but in the vast majority of cases I will uphold it because I firmly believe in it. This is one of those times. If Ventraxia was a Federation world, this wouldn’t be an issue. But it’s not. These people have developed a system of jurisprudence that includes capital punishment. We have to accept that, just as we would have to accept slavery, or the exploitation of children. The situation here is one the people of this world accept, we have no right to interfere.”

Knowing he was right didn’t make it any easier to accept. Beverly left him, going to the sofa and sitting heavily, her anger palpable. Jean-Luc knew if he left her alone she would calm down, so he went to his desk and activated his monitor. He stared grimly at the amount of work he had to get through before he could end his day. It was, however, a convenient way to allow his wife the time she needed to come to terms with the reality of the situation.

 

 

Two and a half hours later, Jean Luc was nearly finished. All he had to do was record his ship’s log and his personal log. Beverly was, by this time, calm. She was reading a medical journal as Jean-Luc started to speak and her eyes stopped reading the text as she listened to him. She has always found his voice compelling. Mostly she found it soothing, but there were times when she found it highly arousing, especially when it dropped even deeper to a husky bedroom baritone. As she listened, he recorded his ship’s log, succinct and exact as always, but when he started on his personal log, his dismay at having to deal with people who practiced capital punishment was evident. He voiced his concerns and spoke of his hope that by having contact with members of the Federation, they may find some way to sow the seeds of change. Guilt washed over Beverly.

Over the decades she had known Jean-Luc she had lost count of the number of times they had come to loggerheads over the Prime Directive, but during their earlier argument was the first time he had given any inkling as to how these confrontations affected him.

She sighed, realising she took his position as Captain for granted. He had been a Captain when they first met, over thirty years ago and she never given much thought as to how, at becoming a Captain at the tender age of twenty-eight, that might have affected him.

She had been his friend and confidant for so many long years, it never occurred to her just how indelibly incorporated in each other’s lives they were. She mulled over his association with her late husband Jack, Jean-Luc’s best friend and Chief Science officer on his first ship the Stargazer. His death, under Jean-Luc’s command had shattered the man. She was also cognizant of the crushing guilt he carried for loving his best friend’s wife, had done so since he’d first met her. But, over the ensuing years they had come to reconcile all of that. Even Wesley, Beverly son by Jack, had eventually forgiven Jean-Luc for his father’s death and for the years the young man had served on the Enterprise, had come to think of the Captain as a surrogate father. For his part, though he would probably never admit it, Jean-Luc came to love Wesley, both as the son of a long lost dear friend and the son of the woman he loved.

The deep and abiding friendship that grew over the years they served together slowly made Beverly realise she had fallen in love with Jean-Luc and so, one night after dinner and quite unexpectedly, they had become lovers.

That was eighteen months ago. They had been married only four months. That too, was unexpected. Jean-Luc, at Beverly’s behest, had been badgered into taking some well-earned leave, but, although he finally agreed to go, he insisted she accompany him.

Without due thought and really only to get him to go, she agreed. If she’d known he’d planned to go to a dusty, dry uninhabited planet for an archaeological dig she would have refused, but she’d consented and was unable to extricate herself from the deal. She recalled Jean-Luc’s smug grin. It was a fait accompli.

So, three days into the dig, she found herself several metres underground in a filthy cave, covered in grime, dirt and dust, her eyes gritty and her hair and clothing a mess. Jean-Luc was no better, in fact he smelled strongly of sweat, making Beverly keep her distance, so when he suddenly appeared at her side with an excited grin on his face, she tried hard not to let him see she was holding her breath.

In his hands he had a pottery shard.

“Look at this! You can make out the decoration on the rim.”

Knowing she had to respond made Beverly grimace. She summoned a smile and said softly,

“That’s wonderful, Jean-Luc.”

He planted a kiss on her lips and grinned again.

“I’m so happy you’re here, Beverly. Sharing all this with you somehow makes it even more worthwhile.”

The stench from his armpits was making Beverly feel nauseous. She smiled again and began to move away, but he caught hold of her elbow. By the lights on their caps, she could see his expression had changed, but for the life of her, she couldn’t describe it. He bent and reverently placed the shard on the ground, then straightened and cradled Beverly’s face in his hands. She could see his eyes were glistening with tears. When he spoke, his voice was rough with emotion.

“Marry me, Beverly…do me the honour of becoming my wife.”

With those heartfelt words, Beverly’s entire existence narrowed down to that exact moment in time. Their locale made no difference, Jean-Luc’s body odour was insignificant, her own dishevelled appearance ceased to matter…all that did matter was his proposal. With her own eyes brimming with tears she slowly nodded and whispered,

“Yes, yes I’ll marry you, Jean-Luc.”

He let go of her face and enfolded her in his arms. They kissed deeply and when they parted Jean-Luc said brokenly.

“Now I’m complete.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Their marriage had been a simple affair, held in the forward lounge of the Enterprise and presided over by Captain Ricky Ponting, of the Tolstoy. His had been the nearest ship. Will had been the best man and Deanna, the maid of honour. Their schedule had been too busy for a honeymoon, that was something they had planned in another six months.

Jean-Luc was nearly finished his personal log and Beverly suddenly came to a decision. She would, in the future, try to temper her reactions to situations like the one they found themselves in now. She had been unfair to Jean-Luc for far too long; it was time to see things more from his perspective.

To that end, she rose from the sofa and went to him, draping one arm over his shoulders and kissing the top of his bald pate. She then laid her cheek atop his head.

Jean-Luc knew this was a peace offering and he smiled as he completed his log entry. He wrapped an arm around his wife’s waist and nestled his head beside her breast. They stayed like that for a few minutes before Beverly said lightly.

“Are you hungry?”

He hummed his reply.

“Hmm.”

“Then you go and sit down, I’ll replicate tonight.”

He stood and kissed her with tenderness.

“No, I’ve got a better idea. How about we replicate together?”

She chuckled.

“Fine by me.”

They ate in companionable silence, but Beverly was still unsettled about her introspection. Over dessert, she placed her spoon by her bowl and sighed. Looking over at her husband she said quietly,

“Jean-Luc, I owe you an apology.”

He thought it was about their argument and he was surprised.

“I don’t think so, Beverly. We’ve argued over the Prime Directive many times before and I’ve no doubt we’ll do so again. Forget about it.”

She shook her head and he saw the sadness in her face.

“No, you don’t understand. I’m not apologising for arguing…God, that’s who I am, but I never realised what it was doing to you. I take your Captaincy for granted. Jean-Luc, I think I have for a long time and it’s time I changed that. My job as a Doctor is pretty cut and dried. First, do no harm, and for the rest, do your best to heal. Your job is so very much different. As a Captain as experienced as you, you have to assess every situation based on past experience and gut feeling. There’s no text book for you, no instruction manual to refer to, just the Prime Directive and the opinions of your senior staff, and even in that, you’re not obliged to seek their input…God knows there’s plenty of Captains who run their ships as autocrats. In my job, my decisions impact on one person at a time and I have equally qualified colleagues to help me. Your decisions can impact on millions and all the time, like a monkey on your back, is the fact that you are solely responsible for every living soul aboard this ship…seven hundred and forty men and woman who trust you will see them through to safety…every time.”

Jean-Luc’s eyes darkened and he sighed.

“That is what one accepts with the rank, Beverly.”

She nodded.

“Yes, but that doesn’t mean it sits well, does it. We have been best friends for a very long time and now we’re husband and wife. You have always showed me unstinting support, both privately and professionally. It’s time I showed you the same courtesy. So, my love, I’m sorry and in the future I will endeavour to show you more respect for the often difficult job you do, and may I say, you do so superlatively.”

Smiling tenderly and with love shining in his eyes, Jean-Luc whispered,

“Thank you, Beverly; you don’t know how much that means to me.”

Smiling herself, but a little sadly, Beverly replied,

“Actually, I think I do.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day was spent redefining their information about the Ventraxians. When Data quietly said to Will,

“Commander, we are entering the Ventraxian system.”

The big man stood and said,

“Helm, go to half impulse. Captain Picard to the Bridge.”

Busy in his Ready Room Jean-Luc turned off his monitor and exited his office, going to the command chair and taking his seat. To his Exec he said softly,

“Report.”

Will sat to his Captain’s right and motioned to the screen.

“We’ve entered the Ventraxian system and are now at half impulse.”

Jean-Luc nodded

“ETA?”

Data turned and said mildly,

“Ten minutes, Sir.”

Jean-Luc nodded his reply, then said,

“Tactical, hail the planet.”

Worf, at the console carried out her Captain’s orders. Within seconds he said,

“I have them, Sir.”

Standing and tugging down his uniform tunic, Jean-Luc said quietly,

“On screen.”

The Prime Minister bowed his elegant head and smiled.

“Greetings Captain Picard.”

With a gentle smile of his own, Jean-Luc responded.

“Greeting, Prime Minister. I just thought you’d like to know we will achieve orbit in less than ten minutes.”

The tall alien nodded.

“Yes, we have been tracking you. Once you are in orbit, we will send you an itinerary and beam down coordinates.”

Offering a small bow, Jean-Luc smiled again.

“Thank you, Prime Minister; we await meeting you in person with pleasure.”

The alien bowed.

“As do we. Ventraxia out.”

The forward viewscreen reverted to the image of the planet. Will stood and went to stand beside his Captain.

“That went well.”

Jean-Luc nodded, but he was pensive.

“Yes it did.”

Will knew his CO well enough to know he was unsettled.

“You’re not happy about something.”

Jean-Luc sighed and shook his head ruefully.

“Call it intuition…or a gut feeling, but I think we should be very cautious with these people, Number One.”

Will frowned.

“Anything in particular that strikes you as off, Captain?”

Jean-Luc shook his head, his frustration showing.

“Nothing I can put my finger on, Will, but something Worf said to me yesterday has had me thinking.”

The big First Officer scratched his bearded cheek.

“And what was that, if I may ask, Sir?”

With a sigh, Jean-Luc went back to the command chair and sat. Will did the same beside him.

“Why contact the Federation for help with their computer core? Granted, they must have known about our trouble with the fennin virus, but don’t you think it’s just a little too convenient that they just happened to have a vaccine? Look at it this way, they could have asked any one of hundreds of other species to help them, perhaps without having to give anything in return.”

He sighed again.

“It just seems too...pat.”

Will nodded thoughtfully, but played the devil’s advocate anyway.

“But we do need that vaccine…and Geordi says he shouldn’t have any trouble making their repairs. Maybe you’re just…overreacting.”

That did not go down well. Jean-Luc gave his Exec a stony stare and snorted.

“I just don’t like looking gift horses in the mouth.”

Tucking his chin, will said softly,

“Of course, Captain.”

Worf, who had been listening to the exchange, was about to restate his request that Jean-Luc take a security detail with him, when his console beeped. He sighed.

“We have their transmission, Captain.”

Half turning in his seat, Jean-Luc asked,

“When are we expected?”

“One hour.”

Jean-Luc stood, saying with authority,

“Dress uniforms, Commander. Please inform the others, I’ll be in my quarters.”

Will came to his feet as his Captain left the Bridge.

“Aye, Sir.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Luc stood in front of the full length mirror in the bedroom fighting to get the collar clasp done up. He was concentrating so fiercely, he jumped as Beverly’s hands came over is shoulders to brush his hands away.

“I don’t know why you just don’t order a larger size.”

He huffed in annoyance.

“Because I don’t need a bigger size! It’s these new damned uniforms.”

He snorted as Beverly easily slid the clasp home, muttering,

“Damned monkey suits.”

She gently turned him and brushed her fingers over his broad shoulders.

“It does do you justice, though, my love. You look very handsome.”

Then she smiled mischievously,

“And very Captainly.”

He smiled but rolled his eyes.

“I don’t think that’s a word, Beverly.”

She shrugged.

“I don’t care, it fits. Now, how do I look?”

His eyes softened and he stepped closer to kiss her tenderly.

“You look lovely, Beverly, you always do. You could be dressed in sack cloth and…”

She placed her hand on his chest and with the other hands, put her fingers on his lips, silencing him.

“Enough, I get the idea.”

Amused that she was flattered, Jean-Luc kissed her again, this time with passion. Jean-Luc’s hands went from cradling Beverly’s face, to cupping her buttocks and pulling her against him. When they parted, they were panting slightly and Beverly’s eyes had darkened. Before he could move away, she dropped her hand to trace her fingers over his semi erect penis.

“I wonder what our hosts would think if you beamed down with a hard on?”

He grabbed her hand before she could do any more damage and growled.

“Stop that, wench.”

Batting her eyes, Beverly said coquettishly,

“Who me? I didn’t start this, my love, but I sure as hell can finish it.”

Before he could say anything, Beverly dropped to her knees and nuzzled her face in his groin. He reacted viscerally, his penis hardening further. In a strangled voice he said,

“We don’t have time…”

As she undid his fly, she said sultrily,

“Of course we do.”

His penis went into her mouth and he grabbed her head instinctively, moaning sensuously,

“Beverly…”

The Doctor knew she cold prolong this as long as she liked, in fact she had actually made him beg once, but she did recognise they were on a schedule so she applied herself and within scant minutes, Jean-Luc was tangling his fingers in her hair as he thrust into her mouth.

She felt his testicles lift and his penis swell so she took him as far into her mouth as she could. He went up on the balls of his feet and cried out softly as he came down the back of her throat. Beverly gently sucked and licked to prolong his pleasure and waited until he gently eased her head away from his groin. She let him slip from her mouth, kissed the head, then slowly got to her feet to kiss his mouth. He could taste himself in her mouth and he softly growled. He gently bit her earlobe, whispering,

“That’s one I owe you.”

Beverly giggled softly.

“And I do so love it when you’re in my debt.”

As he tucked himself away and straightened his uniform, he grinned.

“Wench.”

She crooked her fingers at him.

“Come on, we don’t want to be late.”

He shook his head, taking her hand and kissing it.

“And it would be my fault if we were?”

She smiled with superiority.

“Of course.”

He just sighed as they left their quarters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will and Deanna were waiting in the transporter room when Jean-Luc and Beverly arrived. The Counsellor gave Beverly a sly look but it was Geordi whose reaction made Will grin.

“Captain, are you all right Sir?”

Jean-Luc raised his eyebrows, aware that he was sweating.

“Yes, Mr.LaForge, I’m fine.”

His tone brooked no more comments, so the dark engineer kept his opinions to himself.

Jean-Luc frowned, asking,

“Why are you here, Mr.LaForge?”

Geordi snapped his fingers.

“Oh! I wanted to ask you, Sir, if you get a look at their computer core I would appreciate any thoughts you might have, seeing as how we won’t get to see it until all the official duties are concluded.”

Jean-Luc gave a curt nod.

“Of course. If we get to see it, I will ask if we can take some tricorder readings.”

The engineer smiled, his blue ocular implants dilating.

“Thank you, Sir.”

The party stepped up onto the transporter pad and the Captain intoned,

“Energise.”

Geordi watched them dematerialise, then shook his head, thinking,

“I wonder what had the Captain’s heart rate and temperature up?”

He shrugged and left the room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rematerialising in a bright, airy room, a group of five aliens stood in a semicircle, hands clasped in front of them. Tallest among them was the Prime Minister. He stepped forward and bowed.

“We are honoured to greet you, Captain Picard.”

Returning the bow, Jean-Luc gestured to his fellow officers, introducing them in turn, starting with Will. The Prime Minister introduced his staff and swept his arm wide, inviting the Enterprise party to follow them.

They were given quite a tour, taking in the main government building, the outdoor gardens and a quick tour of a local shopping precinct, one that made the locals gape in amazement, prompting the Prime Minister to explain,

“We don’t often have …how shall I put it…off worlders visit us, Captain Picard. Please excuse their curiosity.”

Jean-Luc smiled graciously.

‘Think nothing of it, Prime Minister. We are well used to being seen as aliens.”

The tall being nodded thoughtfully.

“Yes, I suppose in your travels you must have encountered many new species.”

Giving a nod, Jean-Luc’s smile widened.

“That is true, Sir, and on most occasions I’m sure we aroused just as much curiosity in our new friends as they did for us.”

Lifting his head, the Prime Minister raised his eye ridges.

“Ah yes, friendship. That is something that will be decided by the Doge, Captain, not by me.”

Jean-Luc’s smile faded.

“I see. And will we be presented to the Doge?”

The being shrugged.

“That is entirely up to her, Captain. If she wishes it, it will be so.”

Deciding to move the conversation along, Jean-Luc asked,

“Would it be possible to view your computer core? My Chief Engineer is keen to learn all he can before he attempts to repair it.”

The Prime Minister looked down at the tricorder attached to Jean-Luc’s hip.

“We have scanned your devices, Captain, they appear to be innocuous enough, I see no reason why you cannot view the core. Follow me, please.”

Once outside in the street, a ground vehicle was summoned. It was like a small bus, allowing room for everyone. As they made their journey to the core’s housing, the Prime Minister, whom Jean-Luc learned was named Errig, pointed out things of interest. Jean-Luc was pleased. So far there seemed to be no hint of anything being hidden from the Enterprise delegation.

Their ride was relatively short and they arrived at a large building centrally located in the main city. Having called ahead, they were greeted by the Chief Technician. She bowed, but Jean-Luc thought she appeared somewhat apprehensive. Errig introduced the Enterprise party and asked the Chief to take them to the computer core. She did so, but Jean-Luc thought it was with reluctance. In fact, unlike the general population they had encountered, who seemed to be merely curious, the staff at the computer building all seemed wary and nervous.

Having arrived at the core housing, Jean-Luc decided to see if he could put the Chief at ease.

“My Chief Engineer is very used to repairing computer cores, I’m sure he’ll have no trouble with yours.”

The alien woman glared.

“And I’m sure he would have no trouble taking everything in it.”

The Prime Minister barked,

“Karryk!”

The female seemed to blush and the Prime Minister bowed his head.

“I must apologise, Captain. Our scientists are a naturally sceptical lot, they believe all outsiders are only interested in what our computer contains, not its function.”

He directed his attention to his Chief Technician.

“These people are here to help, Karryk. I expect your full cooperation.”

The woman nodded sullenly and Jean-Luc added,

“I assure you we will not access anything from within your computer core. My staff will repair it, nothing else.”

Looking into Jean-Luc’s calm gaze for the first time, the scientist seemed to be mollified. But when Jean-Luc deployed his tricorder, she had to be told to stand aside by the Prime Minister.

“The Captain is only taking preliminary readings for his engineers, Karryk. You don’t expect them to be able to repair the core unless they know at least a little about it do you?”

Oozing suspicion, Karryk watched Jean-Luc’s every move, but when he offered her his tricorder for her to check it, she snatched it from his hand. The Captain and his party stood calmly while the technician poured over the device’s readings. It was ten minutes before she was satisfied. She returned the tricorder to Jean-Luc with a soft apology. Jean-Luc smiled, his patience wearing thin. He turned to the Prime Minister and said mildly,

“Would you like a tour of our ship?”

The tall being looked around at his colleagues, but before he could reply, Karryk blurted out,

“I would.”

Clearly angered by her outburst, Jean-Luc sought to defuse the Prime Minister’s angst.

“Actually that might not be a bad idea. Your Chief Technician could have the opportunity to meet with our Chief Engineer and see our computer core.”

That seemed to placate the technician. She gave a nod and turned to her Prime Minister.

“Sir?”

Errig sighed and gave a nod.

“Very well.”

Karryk turned to Jean-Luc and gestured to his tricorder.

“May I bring some recording devices?”

He smiled.

“Of course, as long as you permit us to scan them before you use them.”

She nodded again.

“I agree.”

The Prime Minister gestured to the doors.

“If you will come with us, I will take us back to our molecular disseminator.”

Jean-Luc smiled and held up his hand.

“There is no need, Sir. We can beam us up from here.”

Surprise showed on the tall being’s face. To demonstrate, Jean-Luc tapped his comm. badge.

“Picard to Enterprise.”

Data answered.

“Data here, Sir.”

“Ten to beam up, Commander.”

“Aye, Captain. Would you like to do the transport in one operation, or would two suffice?”

Knowing that the normal transporter pads could only accommodate six at a time and that they would have to use one of the transporters in a cargo bay to do it in one go, Jean-Luc chose to do it in two hits.

“Two operations, Commander. I will beam up with the Prime Minister’s party and the Enterprise delegation will be bringing a guest.”

“Aye, Sir, prepare for transport.”

“Acknowledged.”

Gently taking the Prime Minister’s arm, Jean-Luc moved him and his party to one side. He then tapped his comm. badge again and said softly,

“Energise.”

They had just stepped off the pad when the second transport took place. The Ventraxians were obviously impressed. One of the Prime Minister’s staff, an elderly woman, said with some hope,

“Would you share this technology with us, Captain?”

Jean-Luc smiled, but shook his head.

“I’m afraid not, madam. Unless we enter into a formal agreement of trade or diplomacy, or unless you join the Federation, we cannot share our technology.”

The woman frowned.

“But you are going to use your technology to repair our computer core…and you’re going to allow our Chief Technician to scan your computer.”

With a nod, Jean-Luc gestured for the small crowd to leave the confines of the transporter room. As they walked he explained.

“That is so, but in return you are going to give us a vaccine for a virus that has been decimating several Federation worlds. We in the Federation believe in fairness. In this situation, it is only fair that we help, but within reason. Our assistance has its limits.”

They came to a turbolift and Jean-Luc lifted his head as he pressed the pad for a car.

“Picard to LaForge.”

“LaForge here, Captain.”

“Mr.LaForge, I will be bringing a group of delegates to engineering shortly and one of them, the Ventraxian Chief Technician will be staying with you. I have given permission for her to study our central computer core. Also, I have tricorder readings I think you will wish to see.”

Jean-Luc heard the delight in Geordi’s voice. There was little he enjoyed more than interacting with other technophobes.

“Thank you, Captain; I’ll see you when you arrive. LaForge, out.”

As with the transporter pads, Jean-Luc refrained from squeezing everyone into one lift car, so he and the Prime Minister’s party took one car and Will and the others went in the next. They soon found themselves in Engineering.

 Having introduced Geordi to Karryk, Jean-Luc allowed Deanna and Beverly to leave, while he and Will escorted the Ventraxians to the Bridge.

 

 

 

The Prime Minister and his party were introduced to Data and Worf, both men exacting an astonished response. Data took it with equanimity, but Worf scowled. Errig walked around Data saying with wonder,

“An android, you say, Captain? A truly artificial being?”

With a warm smile, Jean-Luc nodded.

“Yes. Mr.Data is my Second Officer.”

The elderly woman who had spoken earlier stepped forward and lifted a hand to touch Data’s face, but hesitated. Data smiled and gave a nod.

“It is all right, you may touch me of you wish.”

She did so and gasped softly.

“He is warm. This is…astonishing. We have computers and primitive robots, but nothing as sophisticated as this. Who constructed you?”

Data cast an eye at his Captain and received a wary glance. Deciding to heed his CO’s wishes, Data gave only a perfunctory answer.

“Doctor Noonien Soong.”

The elderly woman turned to Jean-Luc, asking eagerly,

“May we meet this…Doctor Soong?”

Sadly, Jean-Luc shook his head.

“I’m afraid not. Doctor Soong died some time ago, but even if her were alive, we could not share his technological expertise with you.”

The old woman sighed wistfully.

“Does every one of your ships have an android Second Officer?”

Jean-Luc shook his head.

“No, Mr.Data is unique, the only one of his kind.”

Touching Data’s cheek again, the old woman sighed.

“You are a truly remarkable being, Mr.Data.”

The party soon left the Bridge and visited many other areas of the ship before Jean-Luc brought them back to the transporter room. Karryk was waiting for them with Geordi and a group of Enterprise engineers. Errig smiled and offered a bow.

“It has been delightful, Captain Picard. Thank you.”

Jean-Luc returned the bow, then offered his hand. At first confused, Errig realised he was to take it in his own. He tentatively took Jean-Luc’s hand and the Captain gripped it firmly and shook it. As he did so, he explained,

“This is one human way of offering friendship. It can be used to greet, or to say goodbye.”

Jean-Luc released Errig’s hand and smiled. The Prime Minister looked at his hand, then smiled.

“I have learned much today, Captain Picard. Hopefully, once I deliver my report to the Doge, she will grant an audience.”

Jean-Luc’s smile widened.

“I look forward to it.”

Errig then turned to the people waiting to beam down.

“Our molecular disseminators only operate from fixed units within each city. We cannot…beam…from anywhere like you can. I will order your teams to be transported to the disseminator closest to the computer core building. My party will go to the disseminator near the government complex.”

Jean-Luc turned to the Transporter Chief and asked quietly,

“Do you have those coordinates?”

The young woman nodded.

“Yes, Sir.”

Errig and his party went first. Jean-Luc smiled up and said warmly,

“I hope we meet again, Sir.”

The Prime Minister returned the smile with one of his own.

“I too wish to see you again, Captain.”

Jean-Luc stepped back and said,

“Energise.”

Once the pad was clear, Karryk and Geordi’s team took their places. Jean-Luc looked up and caught Geordi’s trademark grin.

“Keep in touch, Mr.LaForge.”

Sobering immediately, Geordi nodded.

“Aye, Captain.”

Again, Jean-Luc said quietly,

“Energise.”

Will let out a long breath and ran his fingers around the inside of his collar.

“I’m glad that’s over with.”

Jean-Luc sighed and nodded.

“Me too, Number One, but they do seem to be friendly. We should be grateful for that, at least.”

As the two men exited the transporter room, Will scratched his beard.

“I wonder of we’ll get to meet the Doge?”

With a shrug, Jean-Luc raised his eyebrows.

“Well if the Prime Minister’s report to her is as good as he intimated it would be, I don’t see why not.”

They reached the turbolift and entered the first car, which happened to be empty. Will asked for deck eight, Jean-Luc, deck nine. Again, Will ran his fingers around the inside of his collar.

“I hate these dress uniforms.”

Jean-Luc smiled ruefully.

“They’re better than they were.”

Will grunted.

“Agreed, but I can’t wait to get out of these clothes.”

As the lift stopped at deck eight and Will stepped out, Jean-Luc said sotto voce,

“Neither can I.”

The lift doors closed, leaving Will grinning. He knew Beverly was waiting for her husband in their quarters. It was rare for Jean-Luc to make a double entendre but when he did, it never ceased to amuse the big man. He shook his head and made his way to his quarters, his step light. His lover was waiting for him, too.

 

 

 

As usual, Beverly had an aperitif waiting for Jean-Luc as he walked in the door. She knew he was feeling a little stressed and wished to help him relax. She stood in the middle of the room, two small crystal glasses in her hand.

“Sherry?”

He strode to her, kissed her soundly on the lips and took the proffered glass, sipping with appreciation. Beverly then took the glass from him and waited with an expectant look on her face. Jean-Luc shook his head and chuckled, whilst making short work of divesting himself of his snowy white dress uniform top. He tossed it over the back of a chair and closed his hand over the glass again. As he sipped he chuckled again, making Beverly arch one eyebrow.

“What’s so funny?”

Taking her hand, Jean-Luc led them to the sofa where they sat. He toed off his boots and stretched out his legs, placing his stockinged feet on the low table.

“I just scandalised Will.”

Beverly gasped theatrically.

“How?”

“I used a double entendre, making it appear I was going to strip off and ravish you the moment I set foot in our quarters.”

Beverly’s eyes darkened.

“It’s not a bad idea.”

Jean-Luc gaped.

“I…ah…you mean you want to…”

In response, Beverly drained her glass then took his from his hand. She then slipped off the sofa and insinuated herself between his outstretched legs. With one hand she slowly undid his trousers, skilfully pulling them and his briefs down his thighs. He was hardening and she dipped one finger into his sherry and dropped a drip on the head of his penis. With their eyes locked, she lowered her head, extended her tongue and lapped up the golden jewel of liquid.

Jean-Luc growled softly as Beverly tipped the glass, dribbling more sherry over his penis. This time she took his length into her mouth, making him thrust involuntarily.

Now fully hard, Jean-Luc reached forward to gently grip her shoulders. She looked up at him and he said softly,

“Stand up.”

She did so and Jean-Luc removed his feet from the low table to move closer to her. With dedicated intensity, he carefully and slowly undid her pants and slid them and her panties down her legs. He waited while she toed off her boots, then he leaned down and took her pants off her body. He ran his fingers up the insides of her thighs, encouraging her to part her legs and when his questing fingers began to explore her folds, he looked up into her eyes, saying in a deeply sensuous voice,

“You’re wet.”

Barely able to speak, Beverly said huskily,

“I want you.”

With their eyes locked, Jean-Luc slid three fingers inside her while his thumb played with her clit.

“How badly do you want me, Beverly?”

Her legs were beginning to tremble. Instead of answering verbally, Beverly suddenly straddled her husband and kissed him so passionately he groaned his desire into her mouth.

He removed his hand and Beverly took his penis, guiding it to her entrance. She looked down at him, gasping softly,

“I want you deep inside me.”

As Beverly descended on him, Jean-Lu


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