Title: Bittersweet Symphony
Series: Not on your life would i make this any longer than it is already.
Author: Christal
Fandom: Star Trek The Next Generation
Pairing: Riker/Troi
Rating: looking at about PG-13 for most of it, an R for one of the last chapters. 

Warnings: slavery, death, rape, unniceness... oh and harsh reality of life. But also niceness!

Spoilers: None, its sort of an AU fic since it craps in the face of cannon

Summary: Orions are mean SOB's. Life is cruel and unfair. Sometimes love ain't enough?

Disclaimer: All hail the Roddenberry, all mighty and powerful Tikki God. And paramount, the gods that many fans wish would get a clue and chill out, but must be admired for being bold enough to support Trek in the beginning. I do not own Riker, Troi, nor any of the TNG main characters... though I do own many action figures which is just as good at times. Lilandra, Andy, Aidenna, and Aidris and his friend I made up, so they are mine. The concept of the Orions and their culture belong to Trek peeps though.


The screams were everywhere; some were screaming for help, others in pain, and the rest for mercy.

The cabin had become their own personal hell. The ventilation system had stopped working when they lost all power, but the smoke kept pouring in. A barrage of phaser shots had resulted in several small fires that had erupted from damaged circuitry. It accounted for one dead pilot and a lot of smoke and heat. The fires that were still trying to be put out were generating enough heat to make the atmosphere beyond intolerable. The smoke teared eyes and filled lungs until it was a chore just to breath.

And the smell was so horrible people were beginning to gag. Body odor from the people around who were now sweating from the intense heat and the cold sweat that came from the fear of death, the charred flesh of their pilot, and several others, who hadn’t been so lucky to die instantly, all mixed to create an abominable stench that clung to the air. One of the worst stenches was that of death, and skin cooked to a crisp came in second.

There had been no warning. It was a routine trip and out of nowhere came the Lightning Class IV Blockade Runner. The adversaries opened fire on the small craft without warning, and they refused to answer any of the hails those left on the bridge had tried to send. The crew had just enough time before all power was lost to get out an S.O.S on all subspace frequencies. But it was too late. The captain knew that any help would not arrive in time. Whosever attention they attracted would be left with only debris to sift through and families to contact.

The ship fired on them again, tearing off the starboard nacelle. This was it. Those still conscious were quiet, save a cough or two. Some were praying, others crying, and those few traveling with their loved ones whispered a hurried ‘I Love You’. Deanna Troi, daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed, felt cheated and horribly alone. In what seemed her final seconds of life she closed her eyes, let the tears flow, and said her goodbyes to her family.

She saw her babies and remembered their births, she saw her husband and remembered the first time they had made love. She saw her mother when, as a child, she had scraped her knee and Lwaxana had come and cleaned it, kissing her tears away. And finally she saw her father, reading to her one her favorite bedtime stories. Then she saw white and went numb.

The enemy ship fired again and the vessel exploded. What wasn’t consumed by the explosion and fire was sucked out into the vacuum of space. There would be no physical bodies to be handled, no mementos to be remembered by, and no evidence to warrant a true explanation for whom had done it, or why.


Ch 1:

3 Years earlier…

Deanna Troi walked through the front door and headed for the bathroom… well, wobbled more than walked. She had to pee, right now. Will had just finished showering and saw her racing towards him.

"Using the bathroom again?" he laughed, knowing how it would annoy her.

"Yes, again. One of the lovelier sides to being 10 months pregnant, don’t you think?" she smiled and batted her eyes, then was pressured into remembering why she was rushing in the first place.

Will chuckled. He had hoped to spend some time with his wife before he left to go on duty. Unfortunately it now took her 10 or more minutes to use the bathroom, what with the extra baggage and all. He thought maybe he would just go ahead and leave for his shift early and let Deanna have some privacy when he heard her scream for him.

Will practically flew into the bathroom. He found Deanna hunched over, leaning on the wall and panting. The floor was all wet…

"What the…? Gee, couldn’t you have just waited a few more seconds? Or maybe asked for a little help…" he grinned, trying to lighten the mood.

"Will Riker don’t be an ass. My water just broke, help me get to Sickbay." She hadn’t realized she was in labor; she wasn’t due for another 2 weeks.

"Dee, why didn’t you tell me you had gone into labor," he chided softly, helping her out into the bedroom and making their way to the hallway.

"Because I thought it was just a false alarm," she said, then blushed, "We had so many of those with Lila that I was sure it wasn’t time yet."

Will remembered those first false alarms. In particular the very first one where Deanna had been sure she was in labor… and then found out it was only indigestion. He had to chuckle at that one. With Lilandra, Deanna’s food cravings hadn’t been so bad. One month she had decided sardines were a delicacy she just had to have every night, and later in the pregnancy had gone through several jars of peanut butter and pickles.

Unfortunately his wife’s cravings had taken a turn for the bizarre. This time it was chili… on everything. And not just normal, homemade Earth chili. No, she craved Teklarr chili, even though it was especially hard to find, and even harder to make or replicate. No one even knew what was in the stuff, and it was as potent as chili could get. Will had learned early on that he would not be able to dine with his wife sometimes, the sight of her food choices alone made him queasy. And the few times he’d gotten a whiff of the odors… well, he and toilet held a very personal conversation for a few minutes.

They came to the turbolift and hurried inside as Deanna called out, "Sickbay."

Will slapped his head, "Damn!" He had forgotten.

Will tapped his badge, "Riker to Dr. Crusher"

"Crusher here, Will is everything alright?" she asked, picking up the worry in his voice.

"Deanna’s gone into labor. We’re on a lift headed towards Sickbay now."

"How far along is she?"

The lift stopped and the doors parted.

"No idea. Fill you in, in just a few seconds." He tapped the badge to close the channel.

Five seconds later they entered Sickbay and Deanna was led away to be prepped.


A few hours later Deanna was still panting heavily.

// I don’t remember it being as bad as this before // she thought as another contraction compelled her to push down.

"Ok Deanna, almost there. Another two or three pushes and he should be out." Crusher said, trying to encourage her friend.

Will was holding onto Deanna’s hand… well she was crushing his hand and he had long ago stopped trying to free it. It was ok though; it was mostly numb and tingly now, no feeling left in it. He knew she was having a harder time than with Lila, and thought that maybe he too should be encouraging her.

"Come on sweetheart, almost there. Another push, just on more push. You can do it."

Deanna squeezed some feeling back into his hand.

"Don’t tell me what to do!" she screamed at him, and then concentrated as she was forced to push again.

Suddenly the pressure and pain were gone, and Deanna flopped back into the chair, not caring what she looked like.

// Thank the gods it’s finally out // she thought, relieved. Then she heard him give his first cry, and she started to tear up. She picked her head up and looked in the direction the howling was coming from… and there he was, in his father’s arms.

The scene brought a smile to her face, "Let me see him."

Will walked over and gently lowered his son into his mother’s arms. Then the tears started to flow. Even though she had been through it all before, she was still amazed and in awe of what she had just accomplished… she had brought life into the world.

She picked up his hands and counted all his fingers, marveling at how tiny the details were, right down to his nails. Then she gently caressed one of his legs down to his feet and counted all his toes. It had been the same with Lila; she just had to make sure he was all there.

Beverly walked over and announced that she needed to take the baby back to get him completely clean and to do a check up. Reluctantly, Deanna gave him back to her doctor. She looked up at Will, about to cry again.

Gently he put his arms around her and whispered, "Don’t worry, you know Beverly will take good care of him. They’re ready to move you into a private room. Why don’t you lie back and get some rest." He smiled.

The smile went straight to his eyes, forming those cute crinkles she loved so much, and drawing her in. He was staring at her in complete adoration.

Deanna smiled… sleep. What a wonderful idea. She liked sleep, liked it very much. It was a great idea, the best she had ever heard, she thought as she gave in to the exhaustion.


2 Years later…

Will was laughing as Ian Andrew Jr. tried to wriggle his way off the changing table.

"Andy, lie still… that’s an order," he gently chided.

Though their intentions had been honorable, Lwaxana had a hard time calling her grandson Ian, and so they had started calling him by his middle name. Andrew gave his father one of his ‘please don’t make me do this’ looks. Will sympathized.

"Look buddy, I don’t like getting dressed up anymore than you do. I know, I know. The fabric makes your skin itch, the colors here aren’t exactly manly and rugged, and then everyone thinks your just sooo cute that they have to pinch your cheek… but it makes mommy happy. And we all know that keeping mommy happy makes us all happy."

Andrew shook his head ‘no’ in one last protest. It didn’t work.

"Come on birthday boy, let’s go and meet the guests."

He picked Andrew up, took a deep breath, and walked out into the living area. Lwaxana saw them first, and immediately snatched Andy up.

"There he is, oh look how darling…" she cooed and fussed over him.

// Poor kid // Will thought.

Will looked around and noted that everyone had arrived and the party was underway. He saw the Captain get a hold of his godson and smiled. If someone had told him a year ago that Captain Picard would become the best friend of a little boy, he would have laughed in their face. But there was the proof, Andy and Picard were inseparable, and Andy especially loved the ancient earth stories his Uncle Picard told him. He didn’t understand it. Andy wasn’t even old enough to make out what the Captain was saying. Yet the minute Jean-Luc started one of his tales, the toddler suddenly went quiet and didn’t move a muscle until he had finished the story.

Will felt a tug on his pants, and looked down to see a very sad little girl. It was a pitiful sight. Will bent down to pick up his daughter.

"Lila? What’s wrong?" he asked the four year old.

Lilandra sniffed, and then pouted as she whimpered "Everyone’s too busy with Andy, nobody wants me."

Will smiled. He knew no matter how much Lila loved her little brother; she always got jealous of the attention he received. "Aww, princess. I’ve been looking everywhere for you, you can’t just leave me. I get lonely without you."

The old line worked like a charm. Adding a bear hug and lots of kisses, and within minutes she was giggling again. She looked up with her big, beautiful onyx eyes - eyes just like her mother - and stared at her father and smiled. Will could see how much she loved him, how much she depended on him, with that look… and he cherished it.

"I love you too Papa," she whispered in his ear and gave him a little kiss on the cheek.

Will put her down and she scurried over to her mother and flopped down in her lap. Everything in her world had been set right again.

Beverly brought in the birthday cake, and everyone either sat or stood around the coffee table, watching Andy’s eyes light up from the sight of it. Will looked at his wife, with their daughter in her lap and their son holding onto her finger as he realized what was about to happen and started to get shy. Life didn’t get any better, and he felt lucky and privileged to have them in his.

Deanna looked up at him, smiling, and beckoned for him to join them.

"Happy birthday to you…"


Ch: 2

1 Month Later…

Will was getting antsy in the Captain’s chair. Deanna and Captain Picard had been in the ready room for almost half an hour now. He knew it was important, but during that time he had experienced with her excitement, denial, doubt, and a little fear. He couldn’t make heads or tails of it. And the longer they remained in there, the more he had to move around.

He decided to get up and pace, even if it did look silly. They were on their way to Earth and nothing stood in their way. Many of the crewmembers were happy for the easy assignment, especially since most would be free to take shore leave. Their mission was simple; come to earth, pick up Ambassador Hagh for their next task, and meet with Admiral Hannesey.

But that was another puzzle. The Admiral only wanted an audience with Deanna. Would he be asked to join? And why was it all so mysterious? Did it have anything to do with this private meeting with the captain? And if so, why all the secrecy?

Will had to calm himself, if it was a highly classified mission then he would just have to live with being in the dark. He could not ask Deanna to divulge secret information that could compromise her mission, even if they were married. She was a Starfleet officer too, and with her new command ranking she was allowed to participate in missions she would normally have no part of.

And if it was he being sent out like she might be, he knew Deanna wouldn’t put him on the spot. She would understand his job and duty to the fleet, and pray he would come back safe.

He focused in on their link again, and felt a new wave of fear surge through her. He knew she wasn’t in danger; she was merely talking with the captain. She was just scared, and when he focused in on it, he realized it was the kind of fear she felt when she thought of not having him or the kids. Now he was scared, as it dawned on him. He hadn’t thought it possible at first, but then realized it would make sense… she was being transferred.

Deanna was one of the pioneers, he remembered, of the first test batch of counselors on a starship. Even now a lot of ships didn’t have the luxury, and because that’s exactly what it was… a luxury. Many in the fleet had the same attitude, that a counselor was unnecessary and a waste of valuable space and time.

But Deanna and her colleagues persevered and Starfleet realized just how important it was to maintain an officer’s mind. And of course Deanna’s empathic abilities didn’t hurt the impression they made on the board back at headquarters either. Over the years they helped many more of their peers and students get ship bound, and Deanna had become an influential figure in her field. A few of her essays were even studied at the Academy now, though she didn’t like to brag.

So if a situation came up that would require an officer with her expertise and talents, and it was an emergency, she would be notified of the transfer and that would be it. She wouldn’t get a choice of yes or no, she would be told to ‘comply or go.’ If she chose to go there was a chance she wouldn’t be allowed to stay on the Enterprise as a civilian, depending on how sore she made some of them. And she wouldn’t ask him to leave the Enterprise.

// What would we do? //

His concentration was broken when he heard the doors to the Captain’s ready room open. He watched Picard and Deanna exit, and he looked specifically at Deanna’s face to see if he could find anything. All he saw were worry lines and that she was deep in thought.

Will stood up and relinquished control of the chair to Picard, taking his customary seat on the right as Deanna sat down in her spot to the left.

// Well, obviously it isn’t urgent enough for her to leave the bridge at once and start packing. That’s something. //

He looked at Picard and said, "We should be arriving at Earth in about an hour sir, right on schedule."

Picard didn’t even glance up as he nodded. He was too busy calling up information from the arm of his command chair, to bother with something he already knew.

Will swallowed, knowing he would have to wait until they were off duty to find out just what was going on. It was going to be a very long hour for him.


As soon as they entered their quarters he moved to speak. Deanna held up her hand to stop him.

"Lila? Go take your brother in your room and finish coloring for me."

Lila looked up puzzled, realized her mom had used her no-nonsense voice, and shrugged her shoulders as she picked up Andy’s hand and led him towards their room. Andy didn’t mind; he went everywhere Lila did anyway.

As soon as the door had closed, Deanna moved towards their bedroom for extra privacy. Will barely got through the door before he exploded, "What was that all about?"

"What, the kids? I just thought they shouldn’t hear our conversation."

"You know that wasn’t what I was referring to."

She knew what he meant; she was just trying to avoid the question. She didn’t want to have to tell him. "Will, I don’t know how to say this, but… Starfleet is giving me a promotion."

Will looked as if he had been slapped. Promotion? Well that was good, that was great… wasn’t it?

"A promotion? Deanna, I don’t understand. A promotion, but that’s wonderful news." He gushed. Then he saw her face and was confused again, "Its not wonderful news?"

Deanna sighed and moved to sit on the bed, she gestured for Will to join her.

// This is not a good sign. // Will thought.

"No, Will. It isn’t good news. I’m being promoted without a choice. I can’t refuse it unless I quit Starfleet."

So he had been partially right, and she wasn’t even finished yet.

"I can’t even explain all the details to you, at least not yet. I’ll know for sure once I meet with Admiral Dougherty. All I can say is that I will be promoted and then sent immediately away on a mission."

Will’s throat spasmed. He had to swallow before he could speak, "How long?"

"I don’t know. Neither did the Captain. I’m not even sure if Starfleet knows how long it will take. Will please don’t ask me anymore about the mission, I’m just not allowed to say."

He understood, but he couldn’t help this next question, "How long until you have to leave?"

She looked surprised. "I don’t know, the Captain didn’t say and I was too shocked to think about asking. Admiral Dougherty will tell me." She paused, "I guess we had better tell the children before I leave for the meeting… just in case."

// Before the meeting?!! // That was too soon, they couldn’t do that to them.

He voiced his fears, "They have to wait at least a day or two. They have to give us time to say goodbye to each other, to make the kids understand, to let us explain in case… in case…"

He couldn’t say it.

"In case I don’t come back." She finished for him. He could tell she had thought of all this while they had been on the bridge. She always did that; she always knew to think ahead and prepare herself.

Will swallowed again, "Yes, in… in case that h-happens."

He was having a lot of trouble speaking now that his worse nightmare was coming true. Suddenly leaving Starfleet to live on Betazed didn’t seem like such a bad idea.

Will felt Deanna take his hand and give it a little squeeze. She was trying to give him her strength and courage. Courage. He always thought he was very brave, he never figured he’d need to feel security from his wife because he was the protector of the family in his mind. To him she needed his courage, not the other way around.

She stood up, "Come on, I only have two hours before my briefing. We need to tell the kids, now."

Will couldn’t stand; he couldn’t do this. It was too quick; he knew they needed more time together. For a few seconds he contemplated pleading with his wife to tell them no, have her resign from the Fleet and take the children to live with their grandmother if she had too. His gut was telling him to do everything to stop her from going, even if it meant resigning from the Fleet himself and going to live on Betazed with them.

But he couldn’t do that. He had no basis to ground his feelings on. He went on dangerous missions all the time, even headed a few highly classified situations where he’d needed to disappear for a while. He came back just fine, a lot of the danger cautioned against merely a tactic to prepare for the worst. He could see that she wanted to do this, so it must be for a good cause. Important enough for her to leave her husband… important enough to leave her children.

Will stood up; steeling himself against the emotional outbursts he knew would come from Lila and Andy. They were so attached to her, especially Lila. Sometimes he thought they were too attached, and that it wasn’t good for them. And this was the exact reason why.

If anything were to happen to Deanna he’d feel it immediately. Their bond was so strong and so pure that he knew he would feel her die. Or sense it… or something. What it would feel like, he had no clue. But he knew it would be intense, and agonizing. He could only imagine what it would be like for his daughter, and he shuddered at the thought of his little girl having to go through something like that with no way to prevent it, no help whatsoever.

He knew if she were older, and then even capable of any empathic or telepathic abilities, it would be much worse. So he took comfort in knowing her mixed blood saved her from some of it. But he knew they had a bond of some sort, he could just tell. Maybe it was a presence of one in the other’s mind, like an aura or a sense of their being. But it was something, and the minute the link was severed Lila would be left with… well with nothing. She would be herself, yet when she searched for that presence she always had with her, she would get nothing in return. Just emptiness.

Will stopped dwelling on the depressing side of the situation and turned to the problem at hand. Deanna was already picking up the crayons and pictures, and asking Lila to sit on her bed so that they could have a talk. Will walked over and picked Andy up to sit him in his lap as he took a seat next to Lila, while Deanna sat on the other side of her.

"Lila," she began, "I need you to do a very special favor for me, ok?"

Lila nodded her head. She could tell this was very important, and very serious… grown-up serious.

"Love, mommy has to go on a little trip for a little while. And I need you to take care of papa for me ok? You know how he gets, I’ll need you to keep him in check while I’m gone."

The impact hit home, and Lila started to worry.

"Momma, where are you going? Why can’t we go too?"

She had known Lila would ask these questions, but it still hadn’t prepared her. She swallowed, thinking of how she should answer, when, thankfully, Will stepped in.

"Mommy’s bosses have a special assignment for her, so special that only she can handle the job. We can’t go for the same reason why you can’t come up to the bridge with me while I’m on duty, it’s simply not allowed. No children, sweetheart."

Lila was trying to be brave; he could see it in her eyes. Deanna had never been away from the kids for more than a day or two in their lives, which was making this even harder.

"How long will you be gone?"

Deanna’s heart broke as she had to tell her daughter the truth, "Lila, I don’t know. It could be a few weeks… or it could be a few years. Love I can’t lie to you. I could be back before you even noticed I was gone, or you may have to celebrate your birthday without me here."

Lila’s resolve faded and a few tears slipped past.

"Lila, please don’t cry. You have to be a big girl for me, ok? You have to take care of your father and help with Andy. You know Andy will only go to sleep with you if I’m not here. Be a big girl for me."

Will wanted to cry himself. She was too young to realize how important the situation was and how imperative it was that her mother left for this assignment. She only knew that her mother was going away, and she didn’t know when she would see her again.

"Princess, I know it doesn’t seem fair right now, but…"

Lila cut him off, crying so much she was shaking.

"Of course it’s not fair. I don’t understand why mommy has to go!! You’ve told me that any job you get you can tell them no, and that’s why we’re able to stay together on the ship. Did you lie to me?"

Deanna was taken aback. She’d forgotten that little talk a few months back. "Of course not. We wouldn’t lie to you."

"Then why can’t you say no to this one? Why do you want leave? Did I do something?" That last question squeaked by before another gush of tears were released.

Deanna couldn’t believe her ears, how could her baby ever think she’d want to leave her.

"No Lila, I would never want to leave you. You didn’t do anything my love." She scooped her up in her arms and kissed her forehead. She settled Lila on her lap and hugged her tight as she ran her hand over Lila’s hair to calm her.

"Sometimes, mommy and papa’s bosses tell them that they have to do something. Like, when I tell you that you have to clean up your room. You don’t get to choose if you want to clean up the mess or not, you just have to do it. Sometimes even Uncle Picard has to tell papa that when he’s on the bridge. And he comes back every time, doesn’t he?"

Lila raised her head. This was new information. Papa had to do what Uncle Picard told him to, sometimes without a choice? She nodded as she remembered her mother had asked her a question. Yes, her papa always came back, but that was because he was papa and he would never leave her, or any of them.

"So you have nothing to worry about. I’ll be back just like papa always comes back. And you know what? Because we’re docked at Earth right now, papa can take some time off and take you and Andy on a vacation. Does that sound like fun?"

Will chimed in, "Yeah, I was thinking I could take you two up to see grandpa in Alaska. He’s home for a week or so and he wants to see you real bad he said. We can go play in the snow, and go camping… we’ll have a great time. Hey, we have to show Andy how to make Snow Angels!"

Lila wasn’t falling for it. She knew her parents were trying to make her feel better.

"You see, you’re going to have so much fun with papa and grandpa… why you probably won’t even miss me."

Lila shook her head profusely, "Momma I will miss you. You won’t be there to tuck me in and sing my lullaby for me. It won’t be the same."

Deanna’s shoulder’s fell. She knew it was going to be hard, but she didn’t think Lila would be this stubborn about it. Lila saw her mother’s sadness at her not cooperating and realized she would have to make them believe she was alright with everything.

"But it does sound like fun. Can we go ice fishing too?"

Will cheered up. Perhaps they had gotten through to her after all.

"Oh yeah, we can do anything you want. You name it and it’s done."

Deanna was reluctant to ruin the happier mood.

"So we’re ok now? Will you be a big girl for me?"

Lila shook her head, "I’ll try"

Deanna smiled and gave her a big hug.

"That’s all I ask love."

"Momma, when will you have to leave?"

Another one of those questions.

"Well sweetheart, I’m not sure. That’s why we came in here to tell you now. I have to go meet with one of my bosses on earth in a few minutes. He’ll tell me when I have to leave. He may make me go right after the meeting is over, or he may let me leave tomorrow. But I promise I will call as soon as it is over to let you know and say goodbye again if I have to leave."

Lila nodded, trying to hold back her tears again. Not only did her mom have to leave her, but she may have to leave right now. It wasn’t fair.

"Ok" she whispered and buried her head against Deanna’s neck.

Deanna held her tight and rocked. She felt even worse then Lila did knowing that she was causing this pain for her. Deanna lifted Lila’s head off her shoulder and said, "Listen, I have to leave soon, so you better hug and kiss me real good."

Lila sniffed and smiled, and then threw herself at her mother so hard they almost fell on the bed. When she was done she climbed over to her father’s lap so that Deanna could hug and kiss Andy.

Deanna stood up with Andy in her arms. Her baby boy was too young to even realize that his mommy was leaving and that she wouldn’t be there tonight to rock him to sleep while she hummed. Will took him from her and they all followed her out to the front door.

Deanna bent down to give Lila one more hug and kiss.

"Be good now, and don’t think about me. I want you to have fun while you’re with grandpa."

Deanna stood up and kissed Andy on the cheek one more time.

"Will, please make sure they eat something good every once in a while. No junk food while I’m away."

He smiled. He knew she was putting up a front to make it easier. He put his arm around her waist and hugged her fiercely. As he did, he whispered, "Come back to me ok? Come back to us."

She nodded and gave him a kiss. She wished she could have stayed longer to make love with him one last time. As it was with the children right there she couldn’t even kiss him how she wanted to. So was the price of parenthood.

Then she turned and walked out the door. She couldn’t turn around and wave at them as she walked because she wasn’t strong enough to keep going. She would have turned back and told them thanks… but no thanks, and left for Betazed with her children in tow.

Will took Lila’s hand and brought them back inside their quarters. He took one look at his daughter and knew what he had to do.

"Alright, we have to pack as much as we can in as little space as possible, and then call grandpa and tell him we’re coming to visit. Which do you want to tackle?"

Lila smiled. At least she was getting a trip to grandpa’s house out of this. "I wanna call him! I wanna call him!" she bounced up and down, getting a little excited, but only a little.


Ch. 3:

The USS Hypocrites was well underway to the Rigel system. The primary mission of its crew was to ferry medical supplies to Rigel III in request to medical help from the Orion Senate. Since Starbase 114 was on the way, a few federation citizens were along for the ride, eager to start their vacation. But the underlying mission, known only to the captain, was to deliver S.I. agent Troi to her designated drop off point. From there, a rogue ship of mercenaries whose cooperation was pricey, but needed for protection and easy passage to the covert facility, would pick her up.

Their ETA was three hours and twenty-seven minutes, and so far everything had gone smoothly. Agent Troi had caught a quick catnap while enroute to her rendezvous point in anticipation of long, sleepless workdays. In these last few hours she reviewed the information that had been drilled into her since she had been drafted for the mission.

She recalled the background information she’d been forced to commit to memory:

Eight months ago an S.I. scientist was working on some new theories for starship weaponry and came upon a breakthrough in his experiments… a substance even more powerful than the new quantum torpedoes now stocked within all federation starships. One week after the discovery Dr. Kellen was reported missing after an attack on their outpost, and there had been no survivors save Dr. Kellen, who was then in enemy hands.

One month ago an undercover agent working on a different mission discovered him. The agent had gone into a local tavern to meet up with his contact and recognized the doctor at the bar. The agent asked around but nobody knew how he got there or where he had come from, and none of them knew what he had gone through. Dr. Kellen either would not, or could not talk. Tests showed he was cognizant and capable of understanding what he heard; yet he would not respond.

Fearing the worst, Starfleet assumed that psychological torture and physical means were attempted to extract the information from his research, and since Deanna Troi was considered a contemporary in the field of the effects on the psyche from torture – both physical and mental – she was the one assigned to the job. Her orders were clear, assess the situation completely and quickly to determine if the doctor could be saved, or classify the situation as a lost cause. If he could be saved, she and a team of highly professional psychological doctors would work on him until he was restored… all memories intact. If nothing could be done then they would use any means necessary to extract the important information he contained, and then be killed… swiftly and mercifully of course.

// What this poor man must have gone through // she pitied, remembering the time when she and her mother had been kidnapped by the Ferengi. She could still recall the immense pain from her mother while they had been connected, during the tests on Lwaxana to remove her telepathy for their own use. If the Ferengi alone could devise such a weapon, she could not begin to imagine the things Kellen suffered at the hands of his abductors.

One of her main objectives after the initial prognosis was to get Kellen to tell her who had taken him and what were they able to learn. Starfleet had little to no leads in the case, just a lot of accusations born out of paranoia. A faction within the beauracracy blamed the Romulans, but then again EVERYTHING was blamed on them. Being one of Starfleet’s main imperialistic enemies, naturally it came with the territory. The problem the heads at Starfleet were faced with was that there was no evidence whatsoever to support these allegations, not even evidence to remotely lead to their involvement in the crime.

As of right now Starfleet’s public attitude was ‘why start a war over one man?’ and they seemed to be sticking with it, for now at least. It was a chilling thought, realizing how insignificant one’s worth really was in the grand scheme of things. Deanna pushed it out of her mind and began to prepare herself for the upcoming onslaught of emotions. That was the other reason why she had been chosen for this assignment – her empathic abilities.

She would be the first to encounter the doctor and would be able to tell immediately if something was seriously wrong. From what she had been told, Deanna was expecting the worst and refused to be caught off guard. If Kellen was as bad off as they proclaimed, she wouldn’t be of any help if she passed out from an intense emotion overload.

Deanna closed her eyes and began building her mental block. She used a technique taught to her as a child, using actual children’s blocks pictured in her mind. Though some found this childish and somewhat simple-minded, her shield was as strong and formidable as a stone fortress. This block formation had saved her time and again, and its familiarity would allow her to easily decrease or increase the amount of protection she would need at different times. She was just about to begin her third row when she was thrown to the ground by a blast that shook the whole ship. The small earthquake was followed immediately by the blaring sound of the red alert klaxons.

Deanna stood up, only to be knocked down again by more phaser fire. Troi had to half-crawl/half-run to the small bridge where the pilot and captain were. She lunged through the doors only to be buffeted by the putrid smell of burnt flesh. She turned her head and saw the damage those first few hits had done. The ops and con stations had exploded upon contact, but mercifully the pilot had died instantly. She could see where a piece of the outer covering of the control panels had torn off and embedded itself into the poor woman’s skull, coming in through the right eye. The sight if it was ghastly, and Troi had to turn her back on it before she lost her lunch.

Just as her stomach was settling down, another barrage of fire struck the ship. More smoke poured in from newly damaged circuitry. There was so much that the ventilation system could not keep up. Troi started coughing and her vision blurred as her eyes teared from the irritation.

"Is someone there?" she heard from her left.

"Yes. ::cough:: I’m Com. Troi, one of the passengers. ::cough:: The pilot is dead, do you know where the captain is?"

"I’m right here." The voice to her left replied.

"Captain what happened? Who did this?" she asked, relying on her ears to pinpoint the voice’s location.

"Damned if I know," came the reply, "One minute everything was fine, in fact it was downright boring. The next this ship decloaks out of no where and just starts shooting."

"Decloaked? Are we under attack by the Romulans?" she asked, extremely puzzled.

// What in the hell would Romulans be doing here? Could Starfleet have been right in their initial assumptions? //

"No, not Romulans. I don’t really know who they are. The ship looks familiar, but I can’t place it. The sensors were the first to go, so the computer is useless in identifying its origin."

Deanna finally located the captain and gasped… he was blind. He heard her sudden intake of breath.

"Don’t worry about me. My panel exploded in my face with the initial attack. I can’t see, but I’m a lot better off than my pilot."

Troi nodded, he had a point. Again they were rocketed by another volley of fire. She heard screams and a slight hissing noise from the passenger lounge behind her; something must have ruptured.

"Commander, the enemy will not respond to our hails, and out weapons are useless. I need you to send out an emergency S.O.S. on all frequencies and in all languages."

Troi nodded and began to comply. She was scared. If she were on the Enterprise she wouldn’t even doubt their survival, somehow that ship instilled hope within her, even in the dreariest of circumstances. But she wasn’t on the Enterprise. In fact the Enterprise was millions of light years away, on some scouting mission near the neutral zone. When she had finished her orders she reported, "Message sent, but no immediate response."

It was not good news. The Captain nodded, seeming to know exactly what she was thinking. "I figured as much."

He wilted and sank into his chair.

"Go, go and say your goodbyes."

Deanna choked and left the bridge.

// I guess my luck has finally run out. //

Though she wanted with all her might to deny it, she knew that they would all be dead within minutes…


The warship fired again, and the vessel exploded. What wasn’t consumed by the explosion and fire was sucked out into the vacuum of space. There would be no physical bodies to be handled, no mementos to be remembered by, and no evidence to warrant a true explanation for what had happened.


Ch: 4

The Mary Mac glided through the black silkiness of space. Its captain was looking over the newest conquests. The new human slaves would please his father immensely. Aidris was satisfied with his crew’s speediness in transporting their latest acquisitions. His father was the beauracrat, and Aidris was the pirate. While his father dealt with the politics of a crumbling society, Aidris appropriated the items his father used to keep his promises to the people of Rigel.

When his father promised aid for hospitals, Aidris invaded medical transports and outposts; when his father promised food for the poor, Aidris raided agricultural oriented planets; and when his father promised economic stability, Aidris found slaves for the mines of precious metals that he and some of his associates ‘acquired.’ The latter was their immediate mission. There had been an ‘unfortunate’ setback in one of the mines recently, and fifty or more slaves had been killed. Now Aidris had to replenish the supplies for that particular area.

Aidris discussed the profits with his second in command, and best friend, Marlq.

"Well, looks like our lucky day. Not only did we acquire the rest of the slaves needed, but they were also on board a medical transport. Father will be pleased."

His friend sneered, "That should up his reputation with the public. Not that they’d wonder just WHERE he was getting the supplies to fulfill his words."

Aidris laughed, "Indeed. And perhaps now he’ll get around to purchasing my wife for me."

Marlq shook his head, "Are you still swooning over Mary? You named your ship after her and yet she STILL ignores you. You deserve better, brother."

Aidris became pensive. The topic of Mary and his feelings for her was a touchy issue. He needed to change the subject.

"I’m bored," he announced, "Perhaps a walk among the new slaves?"

His friend laughed, "I see I am not the only one cold at night. A warm bed would be a nice change, even if it’s temporary."

Aidris’s eyes gleamed; Marlq had the best ideas. A nubile, young, female was just what he needed to get in good spirits again. The life of an Orion pirate was hard and stressful, contrary to his people’s belief. Many regarded their lifestyle with a romantic’s point of view, with riches and comforts beyond their wildest dreams. In real life acquiring a ship and loyal crew alone was almost impossible. Lucky for him he had a politician for a father who had ways of getting him anything he wanted. He’d gotten Aidris his Blockade Runner. It was sleek, in great condition, and with only a crew compliment of twenty-three, the ship and previous crew were reported missing, proclaimed dead without investigation.

Aidris, in the meantime, had made his own tweaks to his ship here and there. First, he changed the name. Not only was it necessary so as not to draw attention but he also honored the one he loved in the renaming. Next he’d acquired a cloaking device and fused it with his ship’s systems. It was fully operational. Then he turned one of the cargo holdings into his personal set of chambers where he and his domestic slaves dwelt. His crew, all pirates and loyal to him only, stayed in the officers’ quarters already built into the ship. And Marlq was given the captain’s quarters on board; being the best friend of the captain had its perks.

The slaves were being held in one of the remaining three cargo hangers. As they came to the doors, the sentries on duty nodded in obedience and stepped aside so that they could enter. The humans were in the middle of being processed. They had separated them first by gender, and then by age. Aidris and Marlq only had to walk over to the females, and handpick from the age group they preferred.

"Very slim pickings. None of them are younger than twenty-five years of age." Marlq snorted.

Aidris shrugged, "They will have to do."

"I guess," the young commander relented, "They are filthy, I suggest sending our choices to the medical quarters to check for diseases."

"Always thinking ahead, brother. And a good bath too, before going to bed. I do not want to reek of their stench."

His friend nodded in agreement.

He walked up to the youngest in the group, a petite blond with blue eyes. She cringed as he reached for her chin, examining her face.

"I believe she will do nicely. Guard, take her to med and have them check her over, then bring her to my quarters and instruct my servants to prepare her." He turned to Aidris, "Have you chosen yet?"

Aidris had stopped two feet to his friend’s left and stood in shock. Though she was covered I filth and stunk of smoke and fear, the sight of her aroused him.

"Indeed I have. Guard, take this one for me."

The guard nodded and moved to comply with his orders.

"Come Marlq, I believe we have ample enough time to dine before tonight. We will need our strength."

Marlq put his hand on Aidris’s back and they both left for the dining hall laughing.


They were interrupted in the middle of their meal by one of the nurses.

"Pardon the intrusion captain, but the doctor felt you should know immediately. The female you requested to be tested was… different than the others. She is not fully human. Her brain patterns are somewhat different and the doctor fears she may be telepathic, or worse, telekinetic. He has rendered her abilities useless with some local drugs. He wishes to know if you still want her even though she may now be damaged?"

Aidris thought about this news, so the woman was special after all. He knew his doctor wouldn’t have impaired such an ability if it could be turned to their advantage. But better to let others think he had than have them try to get a hold of her power for themselves. Perhaps he would keep this one around for a while longer for studying, he could use a new personal slave anyways as he was tiring of current masseuse.

"Tell the doctor that I still wish to proceed with her cleansing. Her mind is NOT what I picked her company for."

The nurse nodded and ran to tell his superior the news.


Deanna was there, right in front of them, and they did nothing to help her. The captain acted as if he could not even see her. She was crying, her clothes torn, and trembling in fear. As he looked on, Will saw that she didn’t register him or the Enterprise crew. She was running from something, or someone. Will ran to her but when he tried to grab her his hands passed through her body. Suddenly a red shadow came forward and enveloped her. He heard her scream and saw her writhe in pain.

"Deanna!" he screamed, pawing at a shadow not really there. He saw lights, phaser fire shooting out –or into, he couldn’t be sure- the Deanna/shadow turned white, a pure light that he had to squint against because of the brightness.

"Imzadi!!!" he heard her scream for him

"Imzadi!" Will screamed, sitting straight up in bed.

He was sweating fiercely and shaking all over. He heard himself panting as his heart raced from the nightmare. He tried to calm himself down. He tried to calm himself down, wiping the sweat from his forehead.

// It was just a dream, a horrible dream //

But he was still shaking and his stomach felt like he had bottomed out. Something wasn’t right. He felt empty, so empty… and utterly alone. He started to cry silently without knowing why. Will thought he was going crazy. He missed Deanna awfully.

From the moment he met her on Betazed when he was stationed there, they’d never been apart for more than two weeks at a time. She’d been gone four months now, and it was taking its toll. He was edgier now, very quick tempered. He’d had to learn to watch himself, for the first time ever, having exploded at Lila when she accidentally spilt a glass of water, only a few days back. He immediately apologized and tried to explain why he was aggravated. That it wasn’t her, he was just worried about mommy and missed her a lot.

He still felt like a cretin about that. It wasn’t like Lila and Andy weren’t affected by the disappearance of their mother. Andy was having bouts of insomnia some nights, crying for his mother. It broke Will’s heart not being able to bring him to her. He was just too young to understand. Lila tried to help; she tried to hide her sadness but Will saw through the façade. She’d wake some mornings with red and puffy eyes, and she had stopped practicing with her gymnastics team a month or so ago, and gymnastics was her life.

Last week they’d had to celebrate her birthday without Deanna. It was bad. Usually he and Deanna woke up early and fixed her chocolate chip pancakes with a glass of chocolate milk, and proceeded to tickle her awake before presenting her with breakfast in bed. Afterwards they would all spend the day together doing whatever she wanted, and later they would call her grandma on the vidscreen so they could sing happy birthday to her as a family.

This year Lila had come to him the night before and asked to be able to sleep in. She didn’t want to go anywhere and said she would call her grandmother on her own to say hello. Will surprised her anyway with a small party consisting of family and her closest school friends. After everyone had left she ran into her room crying, and Will knew he had to just leave her alone. She had cried herself to sleep that night, and the next morning had acted as if nothing ever happened.

The recent rush of nightmares he himself was experiencing, wasn’t helping either. Will got up to splash cold water on his face. He just couldn’t shake the pressing bad vibes from his dream. As he passed by his door he heard crying. He walked into the living area in time to hear Lila.

"Papa! Papa come here. Please come here."

She was hysterical and he rushed to her side. Will pulled her into his arms and tried to soothe her.

"Sshh, its alright. Everything’s ok. Did you have a bad dream?"

"NO! I mean yes, but it’s not a dream." She gulped for air, "Something’s happened to momma, I can feel it. Papa why can’t I feel her?"

She started crying again. Will was speechless. With his daughter’s sudden testimony to the same things that had scared him awake at night, he almost broke down. He stopped himself just in time; he would NOT let Lila see him cry.

"Lila, it was a dream, that’s all. Come on, let’s go back to sleep."

Lila jumped to the floor screaming.

"No! It wasn’t a dream; it was real! Momma’s in trouble, we have to save her." She had gone beyond hysterical.

Will called Sickbay.

"Dr. Crusher to the first officer’s quarters. Medical emergency."

If she didn’t calm down soon she would make herself sick. He knew Beverly was already on her way. Lila continued to throw her fit. Will kneeled on the floor, clothed in just his pajama bottoms, grasping his wriggling daughter tightly to his chest.

"You don’t love her, you’re letting her die!! Why won’t you save momma? Why?! You’re killing her!" she started to pound at his chest. She couldn’t hurt him of course, but she could harm herself.

She was scaring him. He grabbed her arms and pinned her down.

"Lila, stop it. You’ll hurt yourself."

Just then Dr. Crusher entered the room.

"What’s wrong?"

"I don’t know. She had a, a nightmare I think, and started crying. Then she went berserk. I can’t calm her down," his fear noticeable in the cracking of his voice. Lila was struggling to get out of Will’s grip.

"Let me go. I hate you! You won’t save her, I hate you!"

Beverly had the hypo ready in her hand. She pressed it gently to the girl’s neck and within seconds she was fast asleep.

"It’s just a mild sedative. It decreases her heightened adrenaline state and allows her to sleep. She’ll be out for six hours at least, maybe longer. When she wakes up she’ll be groggy, but still soothed from the drugs."

Will nodded, shaken by his daughter’s accusations. Sensing his thoughts Beverly tried to console him.

"Will, she was delirious. She didn’t know what she was saying. I want you to get some sleep and call me the moment she wakes up. I may need to run some tests, but it may just have been a severe temper tantrum coupled with fear." She watched his sleep troubled eyes.

Will nodded again.

"Call the minute she opens her eyes Will. And we’ll see how she does then. Alright?."

He was a million light years away. After Beverly left, Will tucked Lila into bed and stumbled back into his own. He was in denial about the whole situation. He wanted to just laugh and say it WAS all just a bad dream, that their imaginations had gotten the better of them. He knew the only way to test Lila’s ranting, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He didn’t know if he could face his worst fear, to know for sure if she was gone. Finally, after an hour of mindlessly staring at the ceiling, he decided he had to know.

He closed his eyes and cleared his mind; doing everything she had taught him to open their link. He envisioned their link as an old fashioned door. He merely had to walk over and open it. So he mentally walked over, turned the knob, and yanked.


He pulled again; the door wouldn’t budge.

His heart started to race again as he frantically clawed at the door, desperately throwing his weight against it to force it open. Nothing worked.

He couldn’t sense his wife – his Imzadi – anywhere. He called to her and got no reply, just silence. Will began to cry uncontrollably as he opened his eyes. He was cold, so cold. As the pain and anguish suddenly hit him he blacked out, falling to the floor in a crumpled heap.


Ch: 5

Will was awakened by the sound of his communicator. He remembered blacking out, but he had no idea for how long. He slapped chirping the badge, "Riker here." It was the captain.

"Will, I need to see you in my ready room immediately" he paused, "It’s about Deanna."

Will stopped breathing; it hadn’t been a dream. He forced himself to take a breath.

"I know sir. She’s dead."

If the captain was surprised by Will’s statement, he didn’t show it. He knew Deanna and Will shared a very intimate bond. It was only natural that he’d known the minute it had happened.

"Will, five minutes, tops." And closed communications.

Will was numb. He called Dr. Crusher, now off-duty, to look after the kids. Then he quickly dressed and headed towards the turbolift. He made his way onto the bridge and went straight to Captain Picard’s ready room. He wasn’t ready for this. He signaled the door-chime and waited for Picard’s permission to enter. It came immediately.

He walked in and found his captain standing by the window, staring into space, his demeanor tense and rigid. Picard turned around and gestured to one of his guest chairs.

"Will, you might want to sit down."

Picard paused for a moment, collecting his thoughts. He really didn’t know where to start. Knowing Will wouldn’t care to dance around the issue, Picard went straight to the (heart? Bulk?) of his bad news.

"Will, I’m sorry." He knew that was all his number one needed to hear. He watched Will swallow and fight the oncoming tears.

"Deanna was in transit to her final rendezvous point when they were attacked."

Will closed his eyes, when he opened them again he whispered. "Why?"

"We don’t know. A ship nearby intercepted their emergency signal, but they were already too late. From the message they deduced that the Hypocrates’s assailants just came out of nowhere and opened fire. They attempted to fight back, but were quickly crippled. The enemy ship was undetectable, the captain and crew were not familiar with the design or make of it."

Will knew he was about to ask a stupid question, but he couldn’t help himself.

"Were there any survivors?"

Picard shook his head, dashing Riker’s last bit of hope.

"No. The ship was torn apart by enemy fire. No survivors. All bodies were disintegrated by the various ship-wide explosions."

Will didn’t think things could get any worse than Deanna’s death… he was wrong.

"Nothing to salvage. Bastards."

Picard understood. To loose a loved one was hard enough, but to have nothing to say goodbye to, nothing to mourn and grieve over except memories and old things, it was just too much.

"Will, you are temporarily relieved of…"

"Sir" Riker countered sharply, "I respectfully request to remain on active duty."

He needed to work, to keep busy. With work to be done he could push it all away, pretend it never happened. Picard walked over and grasped the now-standing first officer by his shoulders, and gently shook him.

"Will, she’s dead. You can’t deny this; it won’t bring her back. Lilandra and Andy, they NEED you now. They don’t need a work-obsessed commander coming and going… they need their father. I know you won’t like this, but I hereby temporarily relieve you of duty. End of discussion."

He let go of Will’s shoulders.

"I’m so sorry Will. I loved her too, we all did. I need you well when you return to duty, not grief-stricken. If you must, see the other counselor onboard or talk to a friend. I am here if you need me, day or night. Just don’t keep this bottled-up, don’t hide from the pain."

Will wanted to scream in Picard’s face that he didn’t know anything about pain, and that he sure as hell didn’t love her, not like he did. But he controlled himself, realizing his captain’s good intentions. Will merely inclined his head, acknowledging Picard’s words and that the message had come through loud and clear.

Will stood up to leave and then opened his mouth to say one last thing… but closed it instead, turned, and walked out of the room and towards the turbolift. It was now his duty to explain to his children that their mother wasn’t coming back home this time.


It had been two weeks since Will had received the official word of Deanna’s death. Fourteen days since he’d had to explain to his hysterical daughter that she had been right and that her mother was gone. 364 hours since any of them had gotten a decent night’s sleep. Finally, Will and his family were ready to say goodbye.

Picard had gotten worried, and as time dragged them painfully into the second week the rest of the senior staff had sought him out personally to inquire about Will’s health. They all wanted a memorial service, needed one, to help find closure. The problem was that they felt it would be crossing the line planning one themselves. But Will wasn’t planning anything, at least no one KNEW if he was.

They’d talked it over and agreed on a subtle way of asking Will about it and agreed that if another week passed without any sign from Will, then they should proceed to confront him as gently as possible, and help him with the arrangements till it was done. There was no need, thankfully. At the end of the second week Will had sought Picard out personally during the captain’s off-duty period, and asked for his permission – and help – for the arrangements. Picard knew it had taken a lot for Will to ask for help and admit that he was having trouble coping. He felt touched that the young man had singled him out in his time of need. Will was a good man, and Picard would give his life for him.

He felt helpless about the whole mess. Will was only 39, too young to be a widower, too young to have to go through an ordeal so painful and crushing. And the children. He thought of Lila and Andy having to face a life without their mother in it. It just wasn’t right, life wasn’t this cruel… was it?

And to make matters worse Starfleet still had no leads in the investigation. No one knew anything, nor did anyone have any good ideas to work through. They were literally at a dead end.

The encumbered investigation was just the icing on the cake, and Will had taken to life in his quarters only. He hardly ventured out at all, though soon the kids would be sent back to their classes. Life went on.

Picard pulled one last tug on his dress uniform and mentally prepared himself for the day ahead.

Will said Deanna cherished and celebrated life; she didn’t mourn it. So they had decided on a small and private ceremony in the arboretum, it was her favorite place to visit, whether she needed to think or just wanted to be surrounded by… well, life. It was family and closest friends only – to grieve together and share an intimate farewell with a few words from those who knew her the most. Afterwards there would be the normal send off of a funeral pod into space, given to every officer of the Fleet. Deanna loved being a part of Starfleet and all it stood for, and they all felt that she would have wanted it. And then a small party would follow in Ten Forward. A little get-together for everyone to love, cherish, and remember her together.

Jean-Luc took one last look at himself in the mirror and then headed for the door. He wanted to be one of the first to arrive at the arboretum.


Lwaxana had arrived late the previous night for the events. Will was shocked to see her since she had been in seclusion ever since Deanna had died. He surmised that his constant communiqués that were always intercepted by Mr. Homn did in fact get to her. Deanna’s best friend Chandra Xerx arrived the week before and took on the role of caring for the children. For the most part Lila and Andy seemed to perk up at the arrival of their Aunt Chandra, which gladdened Will. He’d never seen them so depressed. He thought he would never catch a glimpse of their smiles again.

Picard had pulled some strings and got the OK to take the Enterprise to the site of her death. Will thought it proper to mourn Deanna where she had last drawn breath. After they jettisoned her coffin, they would make their way to Betazed. Lwaxana wanted Will and the kids to move in with her on Betazed, at least until Will got back on his feet. But being the stubborn bull that he was Will refused, assuring her that he was fine and handling the news and reparations with ease. Will Riker knew how to bluff with the best of them

They had all gathered around the pod, awaiting the Captain’s final words before he ordered Deanna’s final send off.

Because there was no body Will asked everyone to fill the pod with their own memories of Deanna. Mementos from her life, gifts she’d given or had been waiting to receive, and letters. Will had found that writing Deanna a farewell letter had helped him a great deal and had asked Lila to try it also. Later he urged the rest of them to give it a shot. Picard had to admit that he felt a little foolish at first, writing to the dead that is, but after he finished he’d felt like a weight he hadn’t even known existed had been lifted from him. They’re letters would lie inside the sleek, oil black coffin to be jettisoned.

The last to be placed inside were three photos; one of all four of them together on their last vacation to Alaska, one of just her and Will, and then finally one of just Deanna… a favorite of theirs because they all thought she looked beautiful in it. To top it off Will placed a single Nymphae ‘Midnight,’ a violet colored waterlily, next to her picture, and then they closed the lid.

Lila was still crying, though silently now, and Andy had cried himself to sleep on the walk over from the private service. Chandra was holding him now so Will was free to look after Lila. She’d had two more ‘episodes’ since the news of Deanna’s death, neither very violent but still disturbing, and they didn’t want to take any chances. But for now she was just staring at the representation of her mother, tears rolling down her cheeks.

Picard walked up to the pod, faced everyone, and breathed in. He cleared his throat before he began.

"Today, we come together to honor a fellow officer. Lt. Commander Deanna Troi was a good woman, beloved wife and mother, and an exceptional friend. Her death is a great loss. Not only to us, but to those whose lives she could have changed."

Picard finished his memoriam, turned to the pod, and saluted in honor and respect for his fallen officer. Others who followed did the same. Some left flowers, and the rest just paid their last respects. Worf was the last to come up to the pod.

He put both of his hands on the smooth casing, bent his head back, and roared uncontrollably, letting out all his grief, frustration, and love for his friend. Will shed a few silent tears… Worf had given Deanna one of the most honorable send offs a person could receive. It showed how much Worf thought of her.

As Worf reared back his head for one last call, Will saw a faint smile cross Picard’s lips, he obviously agreed with Worf’s course of action and thought the sentiments were appropriate. Worf finished his claim for Deanna’s rightful passage to the underworld.

"May your way be lighted, and your spirit be welcomed in Sto-Vo-Kor."

Then he turned and walked back to his place in the crowd. Picard allowed for a moment of silence, and then gave the order. They all watched, red-eyed and tight-lipped, as the coffin silently slid forward and was propelled towards the nearest red giant.


Ch. 6

Seven Years Later…


The Enterprise sailed through the stars with a serious mission ahead. Three federation transports had been reported missing within the past two weeks, and rumors of pirates were circulating. They had lost two medical ships, and one carrying precious artifacts to a museum in a neighboring system, causing some negative tension with the new protectorate. All three were taken near or in the Rigel system.

Captain Riker was in his ready room, planning a way to go about their investigation. He, as did several others, suspected Orion pirates. But they had no substantial evidence to back up their allegations. Without evidence, couldn’t brazenly attack the Orion government with his theories; it could start a conflict of large proportions. But he could not stand by and allow them to do what they pleased at the expense of others.

Starfleet had an image to uphold. If they allowed a little thing like backwater piracy go, then others would try it too. Starfleet Command wanted a villain to punish so that they could put on a show of how justice is served, and Will had better deliver. Will knew they couldn’t just enquire through normal channels, they’d warn them off before they could get any information on them. And then he had it.

Will walked onto the bridge and spoke up, "Meeting, five minutes."

He walked straight into the lounge and proceeded to call Geordi and Counselor Samk as well. Once everyone had arrived Riker began.

"As you all now, we’ve been ordered to investigate the recent rush of federation craft disappearances. I’ve been told that Orion pirates are suspected since the incidents happened in or near their star system. Now, we can’t just barge in and start pointing fingers. We need a way to lure them out without tipping them off. And I think I have the solution… live bait."

Samk spoke up. "Surely you aren’t suggesting using the Enterprise to…"

Data cut him off, "I believe the captain is referring to an undercover operation. The Enterprise is obviously not a target, it is not worth risking for."

Riker nodded in agreement. "Absolutely correct Data. That’s why only small transports traveling out of the way have been hit. Hopefully, no one would notice. Also, I would never intentionally endanger the lives on this ship. No, I was thinking of a small team, four or five men tops. We modify one of the shuttles, fill it with medical supplies, and let it head out on a course through the outskirts of the Rigel system. The Enterprise would monitor communications and keep within an easy distance, though far enough away so as not to arouse suspicion. Sooner or later, they’ll bite."

" ‘Bite’ sir?" Data asked, confused.

Will smiled, "Bite."

Chief of Security Wesley Crusher spoke up. "Sir, I request that you allow myself and my four top security personnel to take on this mission. You’ll need officers who can handle themselves."

Will shook his head, "That’s exactly why I need you here Wes. You’re the best marksmen and you think on your feet. I need you available on the ship to disable the enemy when the time comes. I will, however, allow two of your men to be a part of the team."

He turned to his first officer, "Data, you will lead the mission and choose the rest of your team. Geordi, I need you refitting one of the shuttles immediately. Dr. Crusher, I need an abundance of medical supplies. We will reconvene in three hours in Shuttle Bay 2. Mr. Crusher, Mr. Data… have your men debriefed and ready to go at that time. Dismissed."

As the senior staff rushed to complete their orders, Will inwardly smiled. Hopefully he’d just solved their problems. He walked out of the lounge and towards the turbolift. He was still officially ‘off-duty’ and thought he would spend time with his children before he got busy again. The lift doors opened and Will walked to his quarters. He heard laughing inside. He walked in and was nearly trampled by his son, who was chasing their dog.

Will chuckled, "Andy, leave him alone. You’ll give the poor animal a heart attack."

Out of breath, Andy ran over to Will and gave him a big hug.

"Grace is here. She stopped by to see how we were doing and now she’s with Lila in her room. Lila says they’re talking, but what could they be talking about that takes so long? Anything Lila says is boring anyways."

Will smiled. His son had no idea what his sister was going through. He was glad Grace was here for her. It was times like these when he thought of Deanna…

He stopped himself, // Deanna is gone and Grace isn’t. No dwelling on the past anymore, it’s all for the best. //

Will pat his son on the back. "So how was school today?"

Andy smiled, "Great! Today we got these frogs and were told to cut em open and look at em. Henry decided to gross out some of the girls so he cut open the head and took out its brains. It was so cool. You now, he says they’re edible. But the teacher wouldn’t let us try."

Will’s eyes widened, what his son wouldn’t do. He didn’t remember ever being like this as a child.

"Andy that’s just disgusting and… and childish. Of course you can’t eat frog’s brains. You’ll get sick. Really, you should have known better."

Lila came out of her room and gave her father a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

"Hi papa. I thought you were working?"

She went to the replicator for some water. Will watched her in awe. She’d grown up so fast, already fourteen. And she looked exactly like her mother. Sometimes the resemblance was so uncanny that it pained him to look at her.

"I was, but I wanted to see you two before things picked up again."

He stood up and Grace walked in and headed towards him. She wrapped her arms around his waist and gave him a chaste kiss.

"Well it’s a wonderful surprise. Lila and I were discussing what to have for dinner, any preference?"

Will hugged her tighter. Grace had become his rock, especially around this time of the year.

"Nothing for me, thank you. I’ll be back on the bridge before too long."

A round of ‘aw dad’ rang through the air. Will put his hands up in defeat, "Oh alright, I guess I could go for a little Italian. How about spaghetti?"

"With meatballs!" Andy spoke up.

"Spaghetti and meatballs it is." Grace agreed and set about getting everything ready.

Will sat on the couch to watch his son at his newest invention… he had a knack for cooking up strange ideas to test out. His gaze wandered to Grace and again he marveled at how lucky he was to have met her.

She too had lost a loved one. Her husband was crushed in a collapsing building two years ago. He’d been part of an evacuation team and went back for a child who had gotten lost. The little boy made it; he had not. When she and her son had been transferred to the Enterprise they had hit it off right away, meeting through their sons who had become fast friends, and soon found out that they had a lot in common. The two of them had become close friends, and over the last year that turned into a relationship… of sorts.

It was a first for the both of them since the tragedies in their lives. Mark, her son, and Andy adjusted to the change perfectly… their friendship unaffected. And lately Lila, having reached puberty, was lonely for an older woman to look up to. With Deanna gone, she’d only had Will. And there were just some things a girl couldn’t talk to her father about.

Grace, the saint she was, stepped up and reached out to Lilandra. Ever since Lila had been a lot happier. Grace just had a knack for listening and helping people… a lot like Deanna did.


Next month was the seventh year anniversary of her death. Things got very melancholy around this time, especially with Will. Grace was his key back to the real world. She knew how to get him and the children through this dark time, and Will – vice versa – he knew how to be there for her and Mark during the anniversary of her husband’s death. Sometimes Will thought it was fate that had brought them together. He thought he would never be able to get over Deanna, never be able to function again.

But he did. He still loved her, still pined for her, and even still cried for her every now and then. But he had moved on… he’d had to for the kids’ sake, as well as his own. And the children, they adored Grace. He’d been scared that they wouldn’t take to her, especially Lila. He was afraid they’d think she was trying to replace their mother, but Grace obviously did something right, because they never stopped talking about her.

So far they had taken things slow, not quite sure how ready either were about dating again. But things were starting to slowly get serious, and Will had been muddling over whether or not to ask her and Mark to move in with them. They both weren’t ready for marriage again… if ever. But Will was ready to take them to the next level, and so far Grace had shown no reluctance to any of his advances.

// Maybe tonight, after the kids are asleep and the away team has left. Maybe some wine and soft music, who knows, maybe she’ll actually say yes. //

He’d made up his mind. After dinner he asked her to stay up and wait for him, and after his shift ended he would come over to ask her something very important.


The Mary Mac…

Aidris was not pleased. Lately his father and the other senators had become greedy. He’d been ordered to acquire more supplies. He had already raided two medical transports, and suspicions were rising. Now they needed another and Aidris didn’t know which was safer: disobeying his father, or risking another hijack. The Feds were already sending out their watchdogs, he couldn’t afford a run in with one of them.

Everything was finally going his way. Mary was now his, having been married for almost 3 months now. It was amazing how easily a high prestige family could fall with the right friends in the right places. Mary had come back, begging for him to take her back. Naturally he had to put on a bit of a front… he didn’t want to appear too eager. And now he had his wife, his mistress, and his daughter. Aidenna, she was someone to stake his life on. One of the few pleasures he allowed himself was his beautiful daughter. Only a year and a half and already she had him wrapped around her finger.

At first Aidris had been disappointed, wanting a son instead; someone he could mentor and leave his business – his life- to. But after holding his baby girl in his arms, he forgot about his non-existent son and concentrated on giving Aidenna everything her heart desired. His father warned him about spoiling her, but he didn’t care. Seeing her smile and laugh were his main priorities now. And her mother lived a life of luxury for giving him such a wonderful gift.

Mary was jealous at first, furious he even had another woman on the side, but he soon placated her. He wasn’t planning on giving that slave up anytime soon. Aidris was interrupted by his comm. Unit.

"Captain, another transport has just been spotted. It is traveling alone, no one within immediate range to protect it."

Aidris couldn’t put off the decision any longer.

"I’m on my way."


Aidris arrived on the bridge and immediately called up the information already recorded on the situation. The ship was indeed traveling alone, and out of the way. There was a starship nearby, but not too close. They could take the ship and run before that starship ever received a distress signal… if one was able to get out. But something was nagging him about the whole scenario. Something seemed… off.

"Captain," his friend started, "It would be the solution to our dilemma. And then we could all relax and enjoy ourselves for a while. No one has detected us…"

Aidris held up his hand for silence.

"Something is not right. Marlq, that transport looks odd… unnatural."

Marlq looked at the information streaming in and tried to quelch his friend’s fears.

"The transport is not exactly of federation signature. It’s privately owned and sensors show five lifesigns… three humanoid, one trill, and one unknown. They are probably makeshift rebels trying to earn an extra credit or two. Nobody will miss them."

Aidris hesitated.

"Look at their ship, they obviously repaired it with the cheapest materials and only when essential for survival. They may even be useful to us."

Aidris considered his friend’s words. Marlq would never lead him astray, and his explanation would account for the awkwardness of the outside of the ship.

"Set a course to intercept, de-cloak on my signal and cripple them. Immediate transfer of supplies to Hanger Bay 1 and destroy all evidence as soon as transfer is complete. We leave no trail."

The bridge was a flurry of activity. On the screen Aidris could see the tiny ship growing larger.

"Five seconds until intercept."

Aidris nodded.

"Now" he commanded.

They immediately de-cloaked and fired upon the shuttlecraft. The gunner wasn’t fast enough and a distress signal was sent out.


Riker was sitting in the captain’s chair when the signal was received.

"Captain" Wes began, alarmed. "The away team is under attack. They are unable to return fire. We will lose contact in three minutes."

"Red Alert" Riker yelled as he stood up, "Helm, set a course to bring us up behind them. Mr. Crusher raise shields and arm weapons. Don’t fire until I say so."


The youngling at the helm became alarmed.

"Captain," he cried, "the starship has changed course, it is heading straight for us."

"Shit! I knew there was something wrong. Helm, take us out of here, warp 3. Cloak as soon as possible. We’ll just have to inform the senate that they will have to wait for their next shipment."

"Aye sir."

Aidris sank into his chair; hopefully they would come out of this alive.


"Enemy fire has stopped, the vessel is retreating. Sir! Enemy ship has just disappeared!"

"What?!" Riker asked incredulously, turning to look at Mr. Crusher.

"The vessel sir, it turned for a heading of 2134.5… and then just vanished."

"Mr. Crusher, ships don’t just disappear. Alert the away team of an emergency staff meeting, all to attend. I expect to see your face in 60 seconds. We’ve got a mystery to solve, and in less time than we really have."

"Aye sir."

Riker walked up the slight incline and entered the lounge.

// A ship doesn’t just vanish… does it? //

He didn’t need this. He expected this to be an open and shut case, very simple. Now he had a phantom ship on his hands and nowhere to locate it. Things couldn’t get any worse.


Ch. 7a

"Report!" Will demanded as the away team entered the meeting room.

Before Data had made it to his seat he began explaining the situation.

"The enemy ship is fitted with a cloaking device, but modified. The ship decloaked without warning and immediately began to render us immobile to infiltrate. When they registered the Enterprise they abandoned their actions and re-cloaked."

Will’s shoulders sagged and he rubbed his eyes… he was tired of all this.

"Please don’t tell me we’re dealing with Romulans…"

"No, sir," Data interrupted, "I do not believe we are. The ship was not a registered design of the Romulan fleet, nor a renegade style. We are dealing with Orion pirates sir."

"Well, I guess that’s kind of good news" Will mumbled, "You said that the cloak was modified… how?"

One of the science officers Data assigned to the team spoke up.

"When we noticed that the ship was cloaking, we immediately reset sensors to detect the tachyons emitted… but there weren’t any, at least none we could detect. We can’t track it as we could a Romulan ship sir."

"Great" Riker growled, "How do we tell Starfleet that we lost the bad guy…"

Data, puzzled by his captain’s question, continued.

"Sir, we may be able to track them using the Enterprise’s sensors. We were limited with the shuttle, but at the highest setting I noticed a slight increase in photon energy. The weapons on the ship are makeshift… literally, they are leaking."

"Like the smoke from a fired gun" Wes spoke up.

Will didn’t waste any time, "Data, realign the sensors to look for our ‘smoke trail.’ Once you have a lock we’ll follow at a guarded distance."

He got up and motioned that the meeting was over. He rushed onto the bridge.

"Mr. Crusher, go to yellow alert. We don’t know how our friends out there will react, but keep shields up and weapons ready."

"Photon energy emissions found sir… course calculated."

"Helm, set course according to Mr. Data’s calculations and engage, warp 6."

"Aye sir"


Something was up; Deanna could sense it. Of course she couldn’t literally sense anything, she’d been without her empathy for six or seven years now. It was a difficult adjustment, but the easiest by far of all the changes she’d undergone since her enslavement.

Aidris was still on the bridge, and only extreme circumstances stopped him from having dinner with his daughter. One of the serving women came in with their drinks and Deanna stopped her.

"Why isn’t the captain here this evening? Has something happened?"

The woman shook her head, "I don’t know for sure, but I heard that a Federation starship is following us, they want to kill is. But don’t worry, Captain Aidris will take care of them."

// A federation starship? //

Deanna felt the first stirrings of hope. If there was a federation ship, it could mean they knew about her, were coming for her. She’d known Will would never give up on her, he must have convinced Captain Picard to keep searching for her on the side.

The floor beneath her suddenly pitched forward, and she was thrown to the ground. She could hear cries of alarm from those who’d been passing-by in the halls.

// They haven’t come for me, they’ve come for Aidris… for justice. It may not even be the Enterprise. //

The ship was struck again, but this time Deanna felt Aidris return fire.

// He doesn’t stand a chance against a federation starship, doesn’t he understand? //

Deanna ran into the adjoining room and grabbed Aidenna, she knew the little girl needed the most protection right now. On entering Deanna found her crying, all the noise and acute movements having scared her. Deanna picked her up and sat down with her, rocking as she cooed into her ear. Soon the child was soothed.

// Aidris, // Deanna silently pleaded, // Don’t be a fool. //


"Sir," Wesley yelled over the alert klaxon, "the Orion ship refuses to answer hails and shows no sign of backing down. They’re firing again…"

The ship was rocked again, and Will struggled to stay in his chair.

"Shields now at eighty percent, but holding."

"Mr. Crusher, I want the totally disabled. To hell with this, if we start a war Starfleet will just have to understand."

Wes nodded as he complied with Will’s orders. The Enterprise returned fire, using full phasers. Wesley hit them again with a full spread of Quantum Torpedoes… and again once more. The Orion ship’s shields collapsed in a fiery display.

"Hawk, report."

"Enemy’s shields are down sir, weapons overloaded, loss of gravity in several areas… life support still functioning."

"Good. Mr. Crusher, please hail and inform them that this is their last chance to cooperate. Conn scan for life forms. Orion pirates usually ‘collect’ slaves, I want an estimate of non-orion biosignatures… ship-wide. If we are forced to destroy, I want t try and save as many as possible."

"Yes sir"

It took only a minute, but to Will it was an hour.

"Sensors show fifteen non-orion lifesigns on board… ten human, two betazoid, and three andorian."

"Riker to Transporter Room 2, can you get a lock on any of them?"

"Yes sir. I can beam in six, and if there is enough time four more. I can’t target the other five sir, it’s too concentrated."

"That’s fine, lock onto the first batch and wait for m signal."

"Captain" Wesley interrupted, "Orion ship captain is returning our hail."

"On screen" Will demanded. The minute he saw the other captain’s image, he went off.

"This is Captain William T. Riker of the USS Enterprise, explain your actions… now!"

"Captain Riker, a pleasure. I am Captain Aidris of the Mary Mac, and my actions are justifiable. I fire upon any ship that poses a threat, I do not take to letting strangers kill myself and my family."

Will was getting angrier. "You unwarrantedly fired upon a…"

Aidris cut him off.

"I fired upon a ship that, for no reason, pursued me and then fired warning shots. What would your Starfleet say about that?"

"That I was protecting my shuttlecraft, which you tried to destroy."

Will thought he had him, but then he deflated.

"I was defending against an enemy spy. If it was your shuttle, why was it modified? Why the deception?"

Things had turned ugly. Will knew that if word got out that he’d sent in a spy to Orion territory, Starfleet would never protect him. They’d pretend they had no idea what he was doing, court-martial him, and then just send somebody else out to do the job right. He had to cool things down… and then his own alarms went up.

"Captain Riker, I am no more willing to start a conflict than you are. So I am wiling to let bygones be bygones. Chalk it all up to a misunderstanding."

// What in the hell is he up to? // Will wondered.

"That’s… very forgiving of you, the sentiments are returned."

Aidris smiled. "Good. Please, I would like to make peace. We would enjoy your company aboard our ship. A small delegation… to show there are no hard feelings."

Will hesitated, he could smell Aidris’ oiliness all the way from his bridge. But he couldn’t just let him get away either.

"You’re hospitality is accepted, we thank you. If you will transmit the coordinates we shall meet you shortly."

Aidris inclined his head, and the channel was broken. The screen once again showed the floating pirate ship. Will sighed. He hated politics.

"Data, Wes, Counselor Samk… Lt. Hawk you have the bridge."

They headed to the lift… things were about to get interesting.


Aidris made a fist and hit his chair.


He turned to his friend.

"Marlq" he barked, "I thought you said it was clean-cut, no way it could go wrong."

Marlq was speechless.

"Aidris I had no idea. It was a trick… not even you foresaw it."

"Now we have to pacify these… these fleet dogs. I want everything perfect, and them out of here as quickly as possible. Comply to any of their wishes… within reason. Don’t go near the hangers."

Marlq nodded, "Yes captain."

He stepped closer to his friend and conferred with him in hushed tones.

"Might I suggest drinks in your lounge? Laid back atmosphere, peaceful for talking, no disturbances or chances for their attentions to be diverted."

Aidris shook his head, relaxing a little.

"Good idea. Mary’s there, she can help."

// And Aidenna too. I can show them that I have a family of my own to protect, play on their emotions. //

"Marlq, inform Mary of the arrival of our guests and then meet me at the transporter room. We will greet and guide them together."

"As you wish" Marlq complied, happy to be out of the hot seat.

Aidris waited for him and together they entered.

"Soldier, are the federation officers ready?"

"Yes sir, requesting permission to beam over now."

"Fine, lets get this over-with."

Aidris put on a smile, there was no turning back now.


As the room came into focus, Will set his sights on Aidris.

// Does he realize his smile is so obviously fake? //

Will never understood it… if you weren’t happy to see someone then you either ‘correctly’ faked it, or pretended that you never smile… ever. Fortunately, having been under Picard’s command and studying his diplomatic skills, he knew how to fake it.

"Captain Riker, a pleasure to meet you." Aidris greeted, hand extended.

Will shook it. "Likewise, I’m sure. I hope we didn’t keep you waiting."

He hated small talk.

"Not at all" Aidris dismissed, "I needed a few minutes to prepare for your arrival anyway."

Aidris stepped aside and introduced his companion.

"This is my First, Commander Marlq."

Marlq nodded, "A pleasure."

// Yeah, right. // Will thought, inwardly rolling his eyes.

Will followed formality.

"Allow me to introduce some of officer. Lt. my staff… this is Commander Data, my first Samk, and Lt. Com. Crusher."

Aidris took the initiative.

"I’ve taken the liberty of preparing my lounge for our meeting… some drinks, appetizers… though I am sorry we cannot stay for dinner."

Aidris began leading them down a maze of halls.

// Can’t stay for dinner? //

"Can’t stay? Is there a pressing matter?" he probed.

Aidris stopped and turned, "Indeed there is, captain. I have been called by the Senate, my father says they have need of our services for our unfortunate and underprivileged … times are hard, you understand."

// So his father’s a senator. Must be powerful if he’s making sure we know about him. Which also means he’s up to something if he’s scared enough to start throwing names. //

"I’m sorry to hear that, I had no idea," he conceded, playing it safe.

"Of course you didn’t." Aidris retaliated.

They started down the hall again and stopped before two large doors. Aidris keyed them open and invited them in.

"Please, make yourselves comfortable."

As they walked in an Orion female greeted them.

"Allow me to introduce my wife, Mary."

She shook their hands.

"Would you like something to drink?" she asked, playing hostess.

Aidris chimed in, "The bar is completely stocked… real or synthetic, whichever your preference."

// So now we’re back to this // Will sighed.

"Most kind of you, Captain Aidris."

He turned to the woman, "Synthehol would be perfect."

Samk also ordered a drink, not wanting to offend their hosts. Data and Wesley politely declined. Then they broke off into groups, some talking to Aidris and Mary and others with Marlq. This continued for an hour when suddenly a door leading into an inner chamber opened and a small child waddled out. The minute she spotted Aidris she became quite animated. Following pursuit was an older woman, though obviously still young herself, rushing in and scooping up the child… chastising her for running away.

She turned to Aidris, "I’m so sorry captain. I turned to set her supper for her and she scrambled away."

Will could tell by her clothing and demeanor that the young nanny was a personal slave. Aidris laughed, which surprised the slave… she was obviously expecting a tongue-lashing of her own.

"That’s quite alright. Captain Riker, this is my daughter, Aidenna. You must excuse her rudeness, you see I generally join her for dinner, it’s our own personal time together. She must have just gotten upset and set about to find me. A mind of her own, that one."

Mary spoke up, her eyes cold and an icy tone in her voice. "A little too spoiled I’m afraid, nothing a good punishment would not fix. Take the child back inside, she requires her supper."

// She’s not happy about the disruption… or maybe about the child. Aidris tries to paint this picture of a happy family but his fiancee’s reactions dispute it. //

Aidris walked over to quiet his daughter and give orders to her slave. Data seized the opening to report to Will.

"Captain," he started, in low tones so only Will could hear him. "The two Betazoid lifesigns originate from this area. One in this room and the other past those doors."

Will was puzzled, "Data?"

"Sir, I took the liberty of hiding on my person a tricorder… just in case."

Will smiled. With the tricorder, if anything went wrong they could find the other slaves if things turned ugly and their communicators were taken. But it was also a dangerous risk on Data’s part, especially since he had not authorized it. Either way Will was going to have to have a talk with him after this was all over.

"Ok, so the nanny and another slave are here. We can at least get them if something happens…"

"Sir," Data warned, "Something is interfering with the tricorder’s sensors. I cannot pinpoint their exact location."

Will nodded, "Noted. But Data… I think we can safely assume the young slave is one of them. The only other people here are the four of us, Aidris and his family, and the ship’s first officer."

Data nodded. "The facts would seem to single her out. But I thought you should be fore warned."

Will went rigid and very slowly asked, "Data. How are you able to see the tricorder’s readings when were under Aidris’s scrutiny?"

"I linked it to the processes in my upper arm sir. The information is feeding directly into my neural net."

Will was astounded, when had Data found the time? Then he tensed… they weren’t alone any more.

Ch 7b

"How dare you… you federation pigs! We invite you into our home, into our lives… we’ve promised to look the other way with your grave mistakes. And you repay us by more lies, more deceit."

Will turned and saw Marlq turning an odd shade of purple… he didn’t think it was normal.

// Think fast…// Will realized he had to react, and now. Aidris was walking over, anger overcoming him. He noted that the slave had retreated with the baby back into the other room. Aidris was now only two steps away.

"Marlq, what is the problem!" he hissed.

"These… these… I heard them talking. The pale one has a scanner of some sort hidden on him. He’s been secretly extracting information the whole time."

Marlq was so furious that he was spitting with every new word.

"Captain Aidris, I can explain…"

Aidris wouldn’t let him finish.

"You can explain to my security officers."

He went to open a comm. channel, but Will was in ‘fight or flight’ mode and did the first thing that came to mind. He lunged and tackled Aidris to the floor. He pulled the Orion’s arms behind his back and kept them there as he got up. Slowly he forced Aidris to his feet, Riker still in control.

// So much for small talk. No going back now. //

He noticed that Data had taken the liberty to incapacitate Marlq, but he couldn’t see Mary.

// Shit, she’ll be a problem. // He slapped his comm. badge.

"Riker to transporter room. Get a security detail down there, we’ve got company coming over for the night."

Samk chose this moment to speak up. "The female sir, she ran through the door with the other two."

Will nodded; this was taking too long.

"Counselor, see if you can lock those doors leading to the hall. Wes, take over for Data. Data, I need you to go after Mary. She can’t be allowed to get away; she may be in on this also. While you’re in there try to find the two slaves. We’ll beam them back with us. Samk, go with him.

Will’s communicator went off, "Sir, security guards are in place. Waiting on your signal."

Will looked at Data. "Go, now. Report in whenever possible. Get in and get out as quickly as you can."

Data nodded and then he and Samk ran through the doors into an inner maze of rooms.

"Lt., lock onto Mr. Crusher’s and I’s signal - four to beam up. Energize."

Will heard the guards battering at the door… the cavalry had arrived. But before he could see the phasers cutting through he was bathed in the blue sparkles of the transporter beam. As they rematerialized on the platform Aidris broke from his grasp… only to be stooped by Starfleet Security. He was helpless. Will jumped off the platform and headed for the bridge as he ordered, "Escort them to the brig."


Samk was completely lost. He’d been turned around so much he felt like a rat trapped in a maze. He was glad Data was there; he seemed to know where he was going. Data had pulled out the concealed tricorder and was using it to track the two betazoids and one Orion lifesigns. Samk spoke up.

"I thought you said the sensor readings were distorted."

"They were in the lounge, but within the inner recesses the distortions clear up. The captain appears to be overconfident that his private chambers are safe. Through this door." He gestured and headed left.

They entered yet another room, and found the Orion, Mary. She was verbally berating the young slave they’d seen earlier. She turned towards them as they heard the door open.

"You!" Mary screamed, preparing to attack. Data got to her first.

"You must come with me, you are under arrest."

She tried to struggle.

"No, leave me alone. You have Aidris, what more do you need?"

Then she tried to bargain.

"The federation, it frowns upon slavery. Well take the slaves, these here and the one in the next room. The others, they’re in Hanger 6. The child, take her too… only leave me be."

Data was confused, shed just tried to bargain for her life with that of her child’s. But that was unnatural; she should be begging to spare the child’s life more than anything.

"I am sorry, but I have my orders. But be assured, I will make it known that you willingly gave us the location of the slaves."

Samk grabbed onto her wrists and struggled with her as he tapped his badge.

"Samk to transporter," he called as he moved towards the young slave woman, "three to beam up… energize."

They disappeared, leaving Data alone to gather the last slave. He entered through the door – and stopped. Data made a mental note to run some diagnostic tests when he returned. Something was not right – the slave looked just like an old colleague of his.

"Data!" he heard her exclaim.

"Counselor?" he heard himself say, unable to make sense of the situation.

"Yes Data, it’s me. What’s going on?"

Data put away his questions for a later time, right now he had to get back to the ship before he no longer had the option.

"It is… a long story. Come, we must return to the Enterprise. The captain…"

She shrugged off his hand. "No, wait."

Again she puzzled him. He watched as she went to a small niche in the wall and came back with the small girl in her arms. She’d hidden the child so no harm would come to her. Data nodded, understanding. He held into her arm as he hit his badge.

"Data to transporter room… three to beam up, energize."

They disappeared as the guards were just entering the previous chamber, totally baffled at finding the quarters empty.


Ch 7c

The rush of new patients had been expected, but they still had their hands full. So many needed regenerated skin, reknitted bones… and a few some cosmetic surgery. Beverly was appalled by the lack of medical attention the pirates has given the slaves. She was surprised that a few of them were even still alive. She’d just finished examining a patient when Data entered with another female slave and a young child. He escorted them into a private room and then headed towards her.

"Data?" she asked, annoyed that he had broken protocol.

"Doctor, I must speak with you about the woman and child I just brought in. I am afraid you will not believe me."

Her curiosity was piqued; Data usually wasn’t so mysterious. She gestured towards her office and he followed.

"Data, what’s going on? And what won’t I believe?"

Data glanced around to make sure they were alone. It seemed very out of character to her.

"Doctor, the young woman I just entered with… she will be – familiar - to you. We must inform the captain immediately, but I am afraid that she will be a great shock to him."

Crusher’s hands became animated as her curiosity – and frustration – grew.

"You’re killing me here Data, who?!!"

Data was taken aback; he’d only had good intentions.

"I am sorry Doctor, I did not wish to anger you. I merely wanted to…"

She grabbed his arms and forced him to stop talking.

"I know, Data. And I’m not angry. I simply want to know who she is. I have patients waiting."

Data nodded. "Of course doctor. Although I suggest DNA testing to be absolutely certain."

She glared at him.

"The woman appears to be… Counselor Troi. I found her in the Orion captain’s quarters protecting the child…"

As Data babbled on he didn’t notice that Dr. Crusher had stopped in her tracks and tuned him out.

// Deanna? What is he talking about, Deanna’s dead. //

She blinked and stopped him. "Data are you sure? I mean, Deanna… she’s dead. We saw the wreckage, we… we had the funeral. It isn’t Deanna."

Data was confused. He thought the doctor would be happy to know that her best friend was alive.

"The woman I rescued was Deanna Troi Riker… at least in appearance. Either we are being deceived, or we were wrong in our previous assumption of her whereabouts. As I stated earlier a DNA test could confirm whichever solution."

Beverly suddenly froze, she couldn’t – didn’t – want to move. She wasn’t sure if she was ready for this, wasn’t sure she could handle it. Had her best friend been alive all this time?

"Doctor?" she heard Data, he sounded far away. That was when she noticed that she has walked to the door and had just stopped. She shook her head clear.

// Only one way to find out //

She tried to prepare herself and walked into the private room, Data right on her heels. She stopped and gasped.

// Oh my god //

"Beverly!" came a calm, smooth voice she hadn’t heard in a long time. She had stopped… literally. It wasn’t until she heard Deanna’s voice that she noticed the need to actually breath.

"Deanna" she whispered, not believing her eyes, "is it you?" The woman before her smiled.

Then Data broke the silence. "Doctor, I believe she needs to be checked for injuries, as well as the child."

"Yes… yes of course." Blinking away her stunned appearance, she set about examining her resurrected friend. "A few bruises, a couple of scrapes. Everything else nor…" she stopped mid-sentence.

"What the hell…"

She was getting abnormal readings from Deanna’s psyche. "It looks like traces of a drug, but how?"

Deanna spoke up.

"Compliments of my captors. My empathic abilities posed a threat… so I was ‘neutralized.’ Can the damage be repaired?" she asked, scared.

Crusher shook her head, "I’m not sure. If it’s a normal drug, a suppressant of some kind, we could give you something to counter-act it. Or by simply eliminating your intake of it could eventually set things right again. I won’t know for sure until I’ve run some tests."

Data chose then to speak up.

"Counselor, would you consent to a couple DNA tests? You are on record as being deceased. We must be able to rule out certain options."

Beverly gave Data a look that should have incinerated his circuitry. Deanna tried to ease the situation.

"Of course. I understand the need for such necessary precautions. I will fully cooperate with any and all tests the doctor seems fit to conduct to ensure my identity."

Data nodded. "I shall return to the bridge. Shall I inform the captain of…"

"No!" Crusher practically screamed, "No Data, that won’t be necessary. Don’t say anything to anyone. After I have had time to study the test results I will contact him privately and brief him on the situation."

Data must have realized it was a ‘request’ not open to debate because he simply nodded, turned, and silently exited the room. Beverly turned around, a smile on her face.

"Now, let’s see about that little girl before we do anything else."


Will was in his ready room relating the past events to Admiral Picard. He was the only person he could be truthful with without calling upon catastrophic consequences.

"Will, you’ve really outdone yourself this time." Picard said via the personal viewscreen. Will looked grave, he knew how serious the situation was.

"What’s the worse that could happen, the truth."

"Honestly, Will I don’t know. I will use all the power I have to help you out; you know that. But Will, if they turn out to be innocent not even I could do much for you. Either way you will have a trial for improper conduct. If they are the criminals responsible then you’ll probably get a slap on the wrist, at most. And rescuing the slaves will roll in your favor. If they are not, you would be looking at a trial with a list of charges in which you would be found guilty of most, if not all, and be sentenced accordingly. You WOULD lose your command, possibly discharged from Starfleet altogether. You may even have to serve time, although I believe if it comes to that I may be able to help you out there. If the kids ever wanted to join Starfleet or go to the Academy it would be harder with this stain on their reputation."

"You can’t be serious! What I do has no…"

"What you do DOES affect their future Will. Everyone is supposed to have equal treatment, but lets face it Will, that doesn’t always happen. We may have evolved over the years, but we ARE still human. I’m not being fair or equal by using my influence to help you out, but to me your options were compromised, and I value our friendship too much. You’ve put yourself into the middle of a dangerous and highly political conflict, and that means anything could happen."

Will’s shoulders drooped; he knew Picard was right. He acted before thinking, and now he was going to pay. Just then his communicator went off.

"Dr. Crusher to Captain Riker."

He tapped it, "Go ahead doctor."

"Will, I need you in Sickbay, immediately. There’s something I need to talk to you about."

"Alright doctor, I’ll be there shortly. Riker out."

He closed the channel and smiled as he looked back at the screen. "Duty calls."

Picard smiled, "I understand. Give everyone my regards. And Will, be very cautious right now. You don’t want to make things worse."

Will nodded, "Advice noted… and thank you, truly Jean-Luc. I don’t know what I would do without you."

Picard laughed, "Of course you do, you’d hang."

Will closed the channel and chuckled to himself, Picard always knew how to keep a cool head, even in the most stressful situations. He got up and headed towards the door.


She shook her head; all the tests were conclusive. Sitting before her, cradling a small child, was her best friend… her dead best friend. Beverly didn’t know what she should do first: hug her, or tell her that her death had brought about certain changes. Once Will arrived chaos would ensue. Again their lives would be pulled into a whirlwind of emotion. This would be her only chance.

She smiled and walked over to Deanna, letting her excitement and joy shine through.

"Dee… it is… is it really you?"

Deanna laughed and Beverly couldn’t help herself, she laughed and hugged her friend tight. When she let go she realized she had started to cry.

"I just can’t believe it, I mean we thought…"

Deanna was crying too. "I didn’t think I would ever see everyone again."

That sobered Beverly up. She had to tell Deanna, prepare her before Will got there. She took her by the arm and led her back to the private room. Once there Deanna laid the child down gently and then turned back to Beverly.

"What’s wrong?"

"Deanna, there’s something you need to know. When you… when you were captured, no one knew. What I mean is… we didn’t know what had really happened, we thought everyone on that ship had perished. Killed by an unknown enemy. We thought you were dead."

She stopped so that it could all sink in.

"We, we had a funeral and until today we had no idea you were still alive."

Deanna was stunned. It hadn’t occurred to her that her rescue was an accident.

"You’re telling me it was just plain luck that I’m here now?"

Beverly nodded, sympathy in her eyes. She felt horrible, like she had betrayed her best friend by not refusing to believe she was dead.

"Deanna, I’m so sorry. We should have…"

Deanna put up her hand.

"Don’t. You didn’t know and it isn’t your fault. No one is to blame, how could any of you have known?"

Beverly silently nodded, relieved from Deanna’s forgiveness.

"Wait here. I already called Will and he should be here shortly. He doesn’t know yet, no one does except for myself and Data. I’m going to fill him in, in my office. I will try to prepare him as much as possible for the shock, but you have to remember that to him you’ve been dead for seven years now."

Deanna nodded, "I understand."

"Ok, let me go now, he may be out there waiting for me as we speak."

With that she left the room and Deanna was alone. She became nervous. Things had changed a lot more than she had anticipated. And it disturbed her that her rescue was just a coincidence.

// All this time I tried not to get my hopes up. I told myself over and over again to prepare for life on that ship – with him. But I always assumed that Captain Picard and Will had never stopped looking for me. Sometimes it seems they’re capable of pulling off miracles at the worst of times, and it never occurred to me that they might actually have had accepted the given explanation. I wanted a miracle, was I selfish and naïve for that? //

She was confused. On one hand it all made sense. Not all deaths are faked to secretly cart the ‘dead’ off, so why should she be any different? She shouldn’t, and wasn’t, and she didn’t like how it made her feel. She had forgiven Beverly because it was the right thing to do. She wanted to help alleviate her friend’s fears and guilt. But it wasn’t how she really felt. She was hurt, and she did feel betrayed. How could they accept her death so easily? Had they even attempted to look for her?

// Am I wrong for feeling this way? Should I be more understanding? More forgiving? What if I don’t want to? //


The extra ~~ are like the //, they are Will's thoughts. He is mentally fighting with himself.

Ch 7d

Beverly turned towards her office and saw Will already there waiting for her. She wasn’t ready for this.

// But then again how do you prepare to tell a man that a woman he once loved and lost is really still alive? //

She couldn’t keep him waiting any longer. She entered her office and sat down, motioning for Will to do the same.

"So doctor, what was so important that I had to drop everything to come down here? Oh, by the way, Jean-Luc sends his regards."

She smiled. // So that was what kept him. // She made a mental note to send her friend a communiqué soon; she had neglected their friendship far too long. She then returned to the matter at hand.

"I’ve been tending to those slaves you rescued a couple hours ago. Luckily there isn’t anything too bad: some malnutrition, exhaustion, and dehydration. One or two sever cases of improperly cared for wounds, but nothing we couldn’t handle."

Will stared at her annoyed, "Oh, well that’s great." He started sarcastically. "Please tell me you didn’t call me down here for a report you could have just sent me. Beverly don’t take this the wrong way, but, I’ve got more important things to do other than receive a personal report that you healed some cuts and bruises."

She got frustrated. He wouldn’t make it any easier for her.

"Ok, fine. I wanted to ease into this, but that’s just not going to happen. One of the slaves is a special case Will, and she is of a personal nature to us, especially you."

"She’s one of our own?" he asked, confused.

Crusher nodded. "I’ve taken the appropriate measures. I’ve done all the tests, they all came back positive. Even the brain waves from childhood memories match up perfectly, and Will, you can’t fake that. I… there’s just no way to prepare you for this. Captain… Will, it’s Deanna."

At first he was silent, not quite knowing what to say. Then he laughed, but it wasn’t a good ‘ha ha,’ I feel better laugh. It was the laugh of someone who was stressed and tired beyond imagination. It was almost eerie. And then he got angry, really angry.

"Is this a joke? What in the hell are you talking about Beverly!"

"Will, just listen to me!"

"I am listening, doctor. Don’t force me to remove you from duty. Why would you say something like this?"

Beverly became hysterical; this had spiraled completely out of control.

"Because she is Will! Because she is alive… she is alive and in the adjoining room. Look, I understand how hard it is to digest all of this. I couldn’t believe it at first either. But could you give me the benefit of the doubt here and accept what I’ve just said."

"I don’t believe this," he groaned, "Look, maybe in some way you think this is helpful, but you aren’t helping. Beverly, you’re a good friend so I am going to walk out now and forget this happened. But I order you to take a few sessions with Samk. I know Deanna’s death affected more than just me, so perhaps this coupled with the stress has you a little…"

She stomped her foot and stood her ground. "Dammit Will, would you just humor me!"

He sighed. // I can’t believe I’m actually considering this. //

"Fine… fine. I’ll go walk into the other room. But afterwards I’m relieving you of duty until you are well enough to return."

"If you still think I’m sick," she replied coolly.

Will got up and made his way toward the door of the private room, and stopped.

// Is she really serious? //

He turned and looked at the doctor, who, in turn, got impatient and motioned for him to enter. He turned to face the door again and marched inside, aggravated at the time he was wasting. He’d made his way about halfway into the room, and stopped dead in his tracks. Off to the right he saw the backside of a woman who was hunkering over a biobed. Her hair… it was just like…

// What is this?! // He asked himself, his blood rising and turning cold at the same time. // This is not funny! Why would someone be so cruel? //

He’d had enough. It took him so long… so very damn long… to get over her. And now someone was pulling this. Will thought it was sickening.

// Maybe I should put Beverly in the brig if she thinks this is amusing. //

Will was so angry that he began to tremble. He opened his mouth to verbally bash the woman, spitting out his next sentence, "Who in the hell do you think you are?"

The woman tensed, he had obviously frightened her with his outburst.

// How could anyone even think I would believe this was Deanna. I could never come up on her like that; she would know I was there. //

Then she squared her shoulders, preparing for a fight, and turned around to face him. The woman’s eyes went wide as she gasped, "Will!"

Everything stopped for him. He felt light headed and why were the lights so bright? His breathing slowed and yet it seemed he wasn’t getting enough oxygen. He felt sluggish, surreal. He saw her open her mouth again, but everything seemed to be as if in slow motion.

"Wwiiilll" he heard her again, but it seemed slurred, inhuman. He suddenly felt like he was falling, and then he felt nothing."


Slowly he roused into consciousness. With his eyes closed he registered the sounds around him and figured he was still in sickbay. He tried to remember everything that had led up to the black out.

// Huh, embarrassing, to just faint like that. Maybe I should listen to Beverly more often.//

Beverly… I was listening to Beverly.

// That’s right, I was in her office, listening to her ramble about the slaves. Slaves… yes, no… slave, one slave. A female slave. //

Suddenly he opened his eyes and jumped up, gasping "Deanna!"

He looked around; no one was nearby. If anyone had been there, they had passed on and were clearly out of earshot. He lay back down and tried to slow his breathing. His heart was pounding as he recalled seeing Deanna in that room, just like Beverly had said he would.

// But it isn’t her, it’s NOT her! Deanna’s dead, we surveyed the wreckage, had the funeral. We have proof… We have… have… We have debris from a destroyed ship but no bodies. We had a funeral for a picture, a memory of a person. We had – have – nothing substantial. //

~~There was no proof.~~

// I’m kidding myself. Obviously she’s a fake. Deanna’s gone, we’ve moved on. //

~~There was no proof.~~

// We never followed up on the explanation given to us. We didn’t question the final decisions; we just accepted it all. We never even thought to look for a way to keep the case open. //

~~There was no proof!~~

// What if we were wrong? What if she HAD been alive? What if she’d been waiting for me to rescue her? What if… //

~~There was no proof!!~~

He jumped off the bed, his head and heart pounding. He couldn’t take it anymore. He had to find her, had to know the truth.

// And then what? Faint again? Beg for her forgiveness? How do I explain? //

They were good questions, ones he knew would only be answered on the spur of the moment. He didn’t let it stop him, he hurried to the room where he last saw her and entered without pause. He looked around, prepared for the initial shock again… and found the room empty. Now he was really confused.

"How long could I have possibly been out?" he asked himself.

"Oh, about two hours," Dr. Crusher replied, walking in. He hadn’t even heard the doors open.

"I saw you charge in. We didn’t know how long you would be out and Deanna wanted to get the child to a bed, so Data issued her some temporary quarters. He’s debriefing her at the moment, but he may be just about done. She’s decided to wait on seeing the children until she’s been able to talk with you"

She handed him a PADD.

"Here is everything so far. Tests results, her initial summary of what generally happened, and the location of her quarters."

Will nodded, "Good. Thanks. Beverly? I, uh, I’m sorry, about earlier. I was out of line."

Crusher held up her hand, "Don’t worry about it, I understand how it sounded. I experienced it myself when Data tried to first explain it to me."

Will smiled, relieved that not too much damage had been done. He left sickbay and headed to the turbolift.

"Deck ten."

The lift ride seemed to take forever, and he practically leapt out of it once his destination had been reached. He stopped right outside her door.

It felt odd, being outside HER door, and not THEIRS. And to feel as if he should ask permission to enter, instead of just walking in when he pleased. He sounded the chime and heard her reply. The doors opened and he entered.

Data was standing, "Captain. I am glad to see that you are alright. I was just about to leave."

"Data," he acknowledged.

Data left, and then it was just the two of them. The silence was deafening. Neither knew what to say. Finally, Will couldn’t stand it anymore.

"Deanna," he whispered.

She smiled, "Will. How do you feel?"

He blushed, embarrassed about his previous medical condition. "I’m fine. Sorry about that."

He looked so good to her; he still had those boyish ways about him.

"I, uh, I can’t fe… Is it really you?" he asked, still shocked.

She smiled, "Yes, it’s really me. Do you know how many times I’ve had to answer that question?"

He laughed, a little nervous and little to ease the tension, "Sorry."

Again, silence. Finally he got fed up.

"Why is this so damned hard? I feel so awkward."

"Well, it IS an awkward situation Will. So much has changed, WE have changed."

Will opened his mouth to deny it, but closed it realizing she was right. So much was different then before the whole incident. The children were growing up without her, he had learned that she wasn’t the only woman in the whole universe… and yet he wasn’t happy or content knowing that she saw the changes. He wasn’t sad or angry either, he just felt sort of empty. He had no idea where they would go from here. Of course part of him wanted to be the romantic, wanted to take her in his arms, telling her over and over how he knew she had been alive this whole time, and that now everything would be all right.

But the logical part of him reasoned how impossible that scenario was. Everything would NOT be all right, at least for a while anyway. And he hadn’t believed she was alive all this time. And she knew all this, knew that things were different… too different. It was becoming too much for him. He wanted to talk to Grace.

// Grace! What will Deanna think when she finds out about her? What am I going to do?//

"Will," Deanna said, refocusing him back into reality, "I’m… tired from everything that’s happened. We need to talk, but right now I am not up to it."

Will nodded, "Of course, how inconsiderate of me. Listen, once you’ve rested give me a call and we’ll talk. I’ll more than likely be in my ready room."

She smiled, "Data told me about your promotion. Congratulations Captain."

Will smiled back, "Thanks. Get some rest and call me when you’re ready. In the meantime, I’ll try to prepare the kids."

Deanna nodded and watched her ex-husband exit into the corridor. After she was sure he would be out of earshot she dropped to the sofa, curled up into a ball, and cried.


Ch. 8

Riker found himself staring through a force field in the brig for the second time that day. Naturally, he wanted to be rid of his prisoners and to be able to return to normal life just as much as they wanted their freedom… but being called down by the Orion captain, himself, twice to just have a staring contest was really starting to piss him off.

"I’m not doing this again," he grumbled out menacingly, and turned to leave. // Next time I’m sending Data to wait him out. //

"Captain Riker, stop."

It caught Will’s attention, and slowly he turned around and started to make his way back to the holding cell.

"So, he speaks."

The Orion looked confused, Riker just kept going.

"Are you ready to talk?"

Aidris nodded and spoke slowly, choosing his words carefully so as not to intentionally incriminate himself. He had to tread lightly until he knew for sure what position he held.

"My men and I wish to return home."

Riker’s eyes widened, "You wish? Oh, you wish… I’m so sorry, have we inconvenienced you?"

"Do NOT mock me Riker. I want to strike a deal with Starfleet."

"A deal? Do you think you were just caught joyriding too fast in the quadrant? You are under arrest for theft, enslavement, assault on a federation vessel and it’s crew… you don’t get the ‘deal’ option with this package, pirate."

Aidris remained unwavered; he would not let Will intimidate him.

"As I said, I wish to strike a deal with Starfleet… not YOU, but your politicians."

// Great, just great. He’s smarter than we thought. // Riker thought, afraid this might happen. He nodded towards Aidris, "Alright, I’ll contact headquarters and personally consult with them about making a deal."

He turned to go, heading back to his ready room, never intending to make that call.

"Captain, do it here."

//Uh oh, // he thought, // Caught. //

"Excuse me?"

"Sorry to be so blunt, but I don’t trust you. Make the call from here, in front of me, so that I may personally speak to them. I know you can."

Riker was trapped between a rock and a hard place. He couldn’t refuse Aidris’s request. Alone he could say he called and the deal had been rejected, there were ways to keep that lie intact. But to refuse his presence in the call was something he couldn’t do. He had to turn Aidris and his ship over to Starfleet, and if his request was refused, Aidris could make the claim to Fleet officials, and Will would be in a lot more trouble than he already was. As much as it sickened him, Will had to comply.

"As you wish, I’ll have the bridge contact headquarters and transfer the link down here."

Aidris smiled, he had the upper hand. Riker hit his comm. Badge, "Riker to Bridge."

"Data here sir."

"Data, contact Starfleet for me and transfer the link to the brig."

There was a slight pause, // Data’s probably wondering if he should ask why or not. // And then his reply came.

"Link established Captain. Bridge out."

Will turned the screen around to face Aidris and turned it on. He was promptly greeted by the face of Admiral Jellico.

// Oh great, my least favorite of them all. Must be my lucky day. //

"Captain Riker, to what do I owe the pleasure?"

Will stepped to the side, "Admiral, may I introduce Captain Aidris of the Mary Mac, and pirate extraordinaire."

Jellico did not look happy.

"Admiral, delighted to make your acquaintance." Aidris greeted him, already trying to butter him up.

"Riker, what’s this all about?" Jellico demanded.

"The captain here," Will gestured, " wants to know if we will strike a deal."

"A deal?" Jellico exclaimed, astounded and intrigued at the same time.

"Yes admiral. You see my father does not wish civil conflict with the Federation. And since without me you could never reclaim that which was stolen from you, I thought perhaps a compromise could be reached."

Admiral Jellico cleared his throat, "I’m listening."

// This isn’t good. // Will thought, // He’s going to get away with this. //

"If Captain Riker were to release me and my men, and allow us to leave and go on with our lives… I could HELP him search for the stolen goods, and even attempt to help release other slaves, should we come across any."

The bribe wasn’t missed – by anyone.

"My father would never have to hear about what has transgressed here. As far as I would be concerned, we would have never met."

Will felt like throwing up. Just because his family held power, the Orion would get to win. He decided to speak up.

"Sir, I tried to explain to him that his charges do not include an ultimatum. I’m sorry to have bothered you."

Jellico looked up and sighed. "I will consult with the council and get back to you captain."

The screen blanked out and the UFP symbol stared back at them. Will turned and saw a very smug prisoner three feet away. He knew what he had done, and Will knew Aidris would be back on his own ship within the hour.

// All this aggravation for nothing. //

He walked out of the brig, leaving the guards to watch over the prisoners, while they were still, at this moment, his.


In his ready room…

Captain Riker sat at his desk, fighting to keep the anger out of his voice. Why he was angry, he wasn’t sure, because he’d seen this coming the moment Aidris opened his mouth.

"But Admiral, he’s the reason why we’re on such short terms with the Orions."

"Riker, I don’t need lip from you. The other council members have decided to cooperate with him. We need those art pieces more than anything, and gaining freedom for some of their mining slaves in the process, is considered greater than their imprisonment. They won’t try anything now that they have been caught."

"And for how long? They’ll – he’ll just start plundering again once tensions have slackened."

"We’ll worry about that when the time comes."

"But what happened to showing that the Federation sticks to their guns? Won’t this be seen as a weakness to other races? A way for them to take advantage?"

Jellico turned purple. He must have hit a sore spot.

"Captain, unless you would like a transfer to the farthest Starbase, you had better release the Orion captives and work with them to retrieve everything salvageable."

Will remained silent. He knew he would just be talking to a brick wall.

"Oh, and captain, be grateful he wants to forget the whole thing… or your career might have taken a sharp turn in the OPPOSITE direction."

Will hated to be threatened. "Yes sir" he answered curtly, and immediately cut the channel. Jellico could have called him on it, but thankfully even jackasses knew when to call it quits. Now he had to free Aidris and his officers, and even aid them. It disgusted Will; to him Aidris was the arch nemesis. If not for him Deanna would have never been lost, she would have come back home and things would be just fine. If not for him, his family wouldn’t be hurting.

Will threw everything off his desk in a fit of anger.

"Damned beaurocrats."

Now that he had temporarily gotten it out of his system, Will stood, straightened his jacket, and headed for the brig.

// I’ll clean it up later // he thought as he stepped over the mess.


3 hours later…

Riker stood on the bridge, pacing. He wanted to be in the cargo bay, making sure things went smoothly and to check for himself that everything was returned. But he needed to be on the bridge in case Aidris decided to start trouble. So he had left Data in charge of the inventory.

The screen was playing the same movie it had been for the past few hours, and the Mary Mac just seemed to gloat and taunt him. He had to get over this. It was Starfleet’s decision, Starfleet’s mistake. Whatever happened, happened, and when the thefts began again he would simply say ‘I told you so.’

"Data to Captain Riker."

"Riker here, go ahead."

"Sir, we have finished transport of the goods. We should also already have the coordinates of a slave-mining colony nearby. The last two Orion officers have just beamed back."

"Acknowledged, bridge out."

Well, at least the waiting was over. Now they could return to semi-normal lives.

// Oh yeah, almost forgot. // "Bridge to Transporter Room 3."

"O’Brien here."

"You can cancel the signal lock on Captain Aidris Chief. We’re about to get underway."

"Aye sir."

Will closed the channel. He knew Aidris might try something funny, so he’d instructed O’Brien to keep his signal locked into the computer… just in case. He couldn’t give a shit if Aidris smacked into the moon orbiting Rigel III, and now he was washing his hands of the whole mess. Besides, he had enough to sift through with the aftermath of the Orions’ actions.

"Helm, set a course back to our previous coordinates, Warp 3. Engage."

"Aye sir" was his response. Some new ensign he hadn’t had time to view over yet; so many things to catch up on. They had ten hours to recuperate, and it wasn’t nearly enough time.


Ch 9

Will was in his room, sitting on the edge of the bed. He had his face in his hands and it took everything he had to keep himself from crying. He and Lilandra had had another fight about Deanna. She refused to acknowledge her as her real mother, kept saying she was a fake. And those drugs repressing Deanna’s empathy weren’t helping the matter. It only gave Lila more fuel to argue in her favor.

At the moment she refused to go see her mother, claiming she shouldn’t be forced to be around a stranger. He couldn’t argue with her anymore, and she had a point, Deanna was a stranger to her and Andy. Seven years was a long time.

Of course Will wouldn’t let it go on for much longer. When Deanna decided it was time for her to see them, he’d just have to drag her over kicking and screaming if she refused to be an adult about all this.

"Data to Captain Riker."

"Riker here," he growled, tired of getting interrupted.

"Sir, we are being hailed by the Mary Mac. Captain Aidris is demanding to speak to you."

// What the hell… //

"Aidris? What is he doing here? Data, what does he want?"

"Unknown Captain, he will speak only with you."

"Fine, tell him I’m on my way. Riker out."


Will stomped onto the Bridge, mad as a raging bull. Usually he kept his feelings in check, but Aidris had overstepped the politeness boundary long before this surprise visit. He’d allowed his anger to build up along the way, and now he was ready to blow.

"On screen."

"Sir, Captain Aidris has requested a personal meeting in your ready room…"

"Request denied, on screen!"

Aidris’s face was magnified onto the screen, his anger larger than life.

"Captain Riker, how long did you think you could keep them before I noticed?"

Will was confused, as was the rest of the bridge crew.

"Aidris, what in the hell are you talking about?"

"Riker, please, we should conduct this meeting privately. I would not wish for you to incriminate yourself in front of your crew."

Will was tired of these games.

"Aidris, either you explain yourself, or I will consider the matter closed and we will continue on our way."

"Captain, if you threaten to escape with them, I WILL open fire."

// Great, things just got ugly. // Will thought as he lowered his voice to reply, "Nothing would please me more because if you open fire, it will allow us to destroy your vessel and your crew without fear of repercussions. Are you ready to sign their death warrants?"

Aidris took in a breath and heaved it back out, he knew Will had him there. If he willingly took pot shots at the Starship, even his father could not save him because he would have instigated the conflict without any solid evidence.

"You can’t have them you… you… Fleet dog. They are mine. If they are not returned…"

"If WHO is not returned? I don’t und…"

"If they are not returned, I will fight for them. And beforehand I will send a complaint and demand straight to your officials. Everyone will know of your deceit, and then…"

"And then what?!" Will was determined to take back control, "Kill them? Remember, according to you, these people are on my ship, so if you blow us up they die too. Now, I will ask one last time, what in the hell are you talking about?"

"Why do you insist on playing dumb Captain?"

"Because I’m a bit slow, so humor me."

"My daughter, Riker. You have my daughter and her mother. They WILL be returned to me at once!"

"Your daughter? Aidris, we don’t have your daughter, or your wife. She ran off, we only retrieved the slaves."

"Captain, I never said you had my wife. Mary is on our chambers, resting from all the excitement. I said you had my daughter and her mother."

Again, Will was slightly confused, if Aidris’s daughter is not by his wife, then obviously he had used one or more of the slaves as personal concubines, but…

"Aidris, I still don’t understand? None of the slaves transported over with children… were any of them pregnant?"

"No! Mining slaves are not allowed to mate with each other, nor do I or my crew lower ourselves for pleasures easily found elsewhere. The mother was my own special slave, she was never meant for the mines, and she and the child were in my chambers when you ambushed us. I know they were the first to be taken to your ship, Mary saw you."

Data motioned for the audio to be cut, and then quickly spoke with his Captain.

"Sir, Deanna was one of the first to transport over, she arrived with me. And she had a small female child with her. She was protecting the child and would not leave without her, fearing for her life."

// Deanna?! But that would mean… // he stopped, he couldn’t think about it, he had to put such things out of his mind in order to continue playing with the pirates. // Dammit, what to do? If she’s Deanna’s I can’t just give her back. She should have warned me! I can’t just hand her over and say ‘so sorry ‘bout that.’ //

"Audio on, Captain Aidris can you or your wife prove this? Mary was in the middle of fleeing, and my first officer has told me that she was hysterical when he last saw her. She may have been lying. Now if you have any substantial proof…"

"YOU are lying Riker. My wife was not seeing things. She transported over with the child…"

"This discussion is over, as I said no children beamed over. If none of the salves are pregnant, then OBVIOUSLY you have just misplaced your daughter."

Aidris snarled, "How dare you imply that I…"

Will held up his hands, he wasn’t ready to start ANOTHER shoot out. // I have to try to diffuse his anger, make him honestly believe that little girl is not on this ship. I can’t hide Deanna, but legally he has no jurisdiction over her since he kidnapped her in the first place. //

"Captain, I assure you that your daughter is not on board my ship."

"And I told…"

"HOWEVER, I can see that you need to see this for yourself. I will allow you to beam over, and we will discuss the situation. If you are not satisfied, you may even personally search the ship. I don’t want anymore trouble."

He waited for his answer. "This is acceptable. I will transport directly to your ready room."

"Fine, I’ll be waiting. Enterprise out."

As soon as the channel was cut Will began giving out orders.

"Data, we need to warn Deanna in case I can’t talk him out if a ship-wide search. Tell her to hide the little girl, anywhere she thinks helpful. Also, tell her to first go to sickbay, maybe Beverly can help, and please inform the doctor of our situation. Helm, I want a course laid in and ready in case we have to make a run for it, starting with Warp 6, but only on my mark. Riker to LaForge, try to find us a way to be undetectable to their sensors. If they try to scan for the child, I want them to come up with nothing, if at all possible. Riker to O’Brien… put that signal lock back on the Orion pirate once he materializes. If we have to be the ones to beam him back to his own ship, then they will just have to understand."

Deanna just couldn’t be the woman Aidris was talking about, she must have just been taking care of the child at the time… he was sure that Deanna was the mother of their children… HIS children, not this pirate.

// And I’ll try to stall. //

Will flew into his ready room and sat down to wait... seconds later he was looking up at a seething Orion.

"Give them to me now!" Aidris flew at his desk… Will pulled a phaser on him.

"How stupid do you think I am? Now, captain, if you can control yourself, please have a seat."

Aidris calmed down, and sat in one of the chairs on either side of him.

"Now, Captain Aidris, what makes you think your daughter and wi… your lover, are on board my ship?"

// Deanna would never… not with him, especially with him. She would rather die. //

"Because they are not on mine. And Mary saw the android transport them over here. You took them by force; they would have never wanted to leave. I know she is here; Aidenna’s mother was a slave we captured. I took her in, saved her from a life of physical and mental hardship."

"And made her your personal concubine. But as you just said, she is a slave. And all the slaves were relinquished to us. She is no longer your concern, she is free from you."

// It’s not Deanna, it couldn’t be. No possible way. //

"You will give her back! She is to be my second wife. Aidenna lives for her mother, and I will not let you have what is mine."

"Look, first of all, she was a slave, and is now free. If she returns, it will be of her own free will. And second, since she was a slave, she is not Orion, and it would take forever to find her… IF she wanted to be found."

// See, you will now give up because I’m right and it isn’t Deanna your looking for, but some poor human who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But not Deanna, not my Deanna, otherwise you would have mentioned her herit… //

Aidris shook his head, "She was the only one with her alien markings. We need only to search the ship for a betazoid…"

// Betazoid? //


// No… //

"Yes captain. Half-betazoid, to be exact, and half-human. Rather unique in this batch, so it should be very easy to locate her. Now if you’ll…"

// No! Not Deanna, not her, anyone but her. I heard wrong. //

But he hadn’t, and he knew it. // He won’t get away with this, and he won’t get her, not again. // Will had lost control.

"I will do NOTHING. You aren’t putting your hands on Deanna ever again, you son of a bitch."

"Ah! So you do have her captain."

"Yes, and she is back where she belongs. And now I know it was you who stole her away from us…"

"Stole her from you?" Now it was Aidris’s turn to be a little foggy.

"Because of you she doesn’t sleep peaceful at night, because of you my children grew up MOTHERLESS." His voice was so low that it was if he were screaming.

Then it dawned on Aidris who Will Riker really was, and he started to chuckle… again he had the upper hand.

"Why are you laughing?"

"Because I finally understand."

Will indicated that he was waiting for an explanation since the light had not come to him as well.

"You were the one she cried for all those years ago."


"Deanna, Riker. When I first took her in all she did was cry for you. She begged me to allow her back to her family, pleaded. And then her wild fantasies that her husband would come to her rescue…"

"Don’t…" Will threatened.

"Like some kind of hero. Then she wept again, for the grief she had caused you. She’s such a delicate and sensitive thing you know…"

"Aidris, I’m warning you…"

"And passionate. She had spunk, a fire I’d never encountered before in a female…"

"Stop, or I will…"

"I think that’s what attracted her to me the most, that spirit of hers. Of course it made taming her harder, but…"

"Just shut up!"

"She cried for you, for so long Captain. But you never came. She called for you in her sleep, but woke to silence. She cried for you when I domesticated her, and her reply was punishment."

Will was standing up, determined to shut the Orion up for good. But he wasn’t quick enough, or didn’t want to be. There was something hypnotizing about his voice and the way the words rolled off his tongue.

"And she screamed your name as I made her mine, and she was answered by the most exquisite mixture of pleasure and pain ever imagined. I think she rather came to like it."

Will’s hypnotic trance ended as he lunged at the pirate, getting him in a chokehold. Even with Will cutting off his supply of oxygen, the Orion kept talking.

"And after I repeatedly caused her pain and anguish, she gave me a gift… my beautiful daughter. So you see why I must have them back, especially my slave. Her value is far too precious to just forget and move on. She has… sentimental value."

Will was seeing nothing but red.

// I’ll kill you, you sick bastard. I’ll kill you and make this universe a better place. I’ll stuff you and mount you in her living room. // Then he started choking, Will’s grip finally taking effect.

But instead of fulfilling his fondest dreams, he punched Aidris, breaking his nose. It only fueled the Orion’s laughter.

"Physical harm Captain? Now I need medical assistance, I thought you didn’t want trouble."

Will was already regretting letting him go.

"Fine, keep her, just let me retrieve my daughter from her. That is all I ask. And SHE is not a slave, legally she is mine to take back."

// Like hell you will. // Will thought, more determined than ever to finally seek some revenge.

"Alright Aidris, I’ll take you to Deanna. I have not seen your daughter, but if she is on board she would be with her. But then you leave, for good."

"Yes, yes, I’m not eager to cross paths again either. Thank you captain. Please, lead on."

Will walked out of his ready room and headed to the turbolift.

// I wish I could warn her we’re on our way, give her a heads up. I’ve stalled for as long as I possibly can. //

The lift doors opened and Will led the way to her door, pausing momentarily.

"Nothing funny Aidris. If she doesn’t have your daughter, then you go back and search your own ship."

Aidris inclined his head, "As you wish, captain. Of course you realize that I will decide for myself whether I am being lied to or not."

Will turned and sounded the chime.

// I hope Deanna had enough time. //

They were admitted and Aidris immediately grabbed Deanna’s arms, shaking her.

"Where is she!" he demanded, hysterical.

Will got very angry, "Hey!" he yelled, and wrestled the Orion to the ground. He struggled with him for a few minutes before Aidris finally settled down, beaten.

Deanna looked surprised, as if Aidris was the last person she had expected to see. Will wondered if she were only acting or if they had caught her off guard. Well, as long as the child was safely tucked away it didn’t matter.

"ATTEMPT to do that again and you’re off the ship, no second chances."

Aidris wrenched his arm free from Will’s grip, and turned to accuse Deanna.

"You took her away from me, give her back."

Deanna looked puzzled, "I don’t know what you’re talking about."

"Aidenna, you brought her with you when you transported over. You don’t get to keep her. If you choose to stay with this… fleet pig, that is your own choice, but you don’t get to decide Aidenna’s fate. Legally she is mine."

"Aidenna is not with me Aidris, I came on board alone. I left her in the designated hiding spot, no one ever found her. If you are looking for your daughter, look to your WIFE, she may be able to give you a proper answer."

"I HAVE asked her, she SAW you whore."

Will backhanded him, "There is no name calling." It wasn’t all that bad, at least now Will could manhandle him and it was justifiable… Aidris just always got out of hand; he had to be taught where his place was.

"Aidris, you cannot, and WILL not deny that Mary has always been jealous of Aidenna. You can’t, without any doubt, suggest that she might have something to do with the disappearance. She’s already tried to sell her twice. Aidris, you yourself posted bodyguards to keep that woman away from her."

Will didn’t think it would be this easily, but already Aidris was showing doubt. // Could his wife really be all that bad? //

"And perhaps it is YOU that is lying to me." He hissed back, Will had spoken to soon.

"Well then go ahead and search my quarters if you think I’m lying. Tell me if you see a little girl ANYWHERE in here." Deanna was getting angrier by the minute, maybe a little too angry. Will thought she should tone it down a bit. He knew she was upset by the thought of losing the child, but she had to keep her wits about her.

"I had already planned to." Aidris retaliated, and proceeded to tear the place apart… literally. He even took the grills out of the walls, leaving no hiding place unchecked. And when he was done he took to the corridors, even going into Sickbay and the lounge areas. After an hour of searching every nook and cranny, even ripping the clothes out of the wardrobe, Aidris hung his head in defeat.

"I don’t understand, I know she is here."

Will spoke up, "Do you see her? Because I sure as hell don’t. I’m sick and tired of this… I’m sick and tired of you. You are officially unwelcome on this ship, and if you come within 100 ft. of the Enterprise I will view it as an attack on my vessel and dispose of you. Riker to O’Brien, energize."

Will and Deanna watched as a confused Orion was beamed without his knowledge or consent back to his own ship.

"Riker to bridge, shields up, helm engage."

Though he couldn’t hear the ‘aye sirs,’ Will felt the ship jump into Warp, they were now back on course. He looked at Deanna and smiled, "I can’t believe we got away with that."

Deanna smiled as she closed her eyes, "Neither can I."

Will was lost in his thoughts, "How bad could his wife be to actually suspect that she would…"

Deanna was swaying on her feet, "Pretty bad, I can ass… assure… you…"

She was starting to faint, but Will caught her and sat her down, holding her in his arms. "Shh, it’s ok, it’s alright. Everything is over with now. We won.

// For now // he added to himself.


Will was there when she came to. He had laid her on the couch, a cold compress on her forehead. When he saw she had woken up he went to her side and took the towel off her face.

"Feel better?"

"Not really, no."

Will took a deep breath, not liking what he had to do next.

"I want you to explain yourself Deanna."

Deanna shrugged, trying to stall. "There is nothing to explain."

"Nothing to explain?!" he exploded, a look of astonishment on his face, "There is a LOT for you to explain. I put my life and the crew’s on the line for you. Right now that pirate is probably trying to get me kicked out of Starfleet for the actions I took against him, which include the supposed kidnapping of his daughter. Now I’ve been pretty lenient so far, I’ve denied his allegations of taking one of his children despite the fact that you do, in fact, have a small child in your possession. How do I explain this? If you don’t explain it to me, how can I possibly explain it to Starfleet? If anything you’re just securing a path with her eventual release back to Aidris."

Deanna cast her eyes to the floor, she knew she was wrong for not telling Will what was going on. She knew he was endangering his career for her, but she couldn’t help it, she couldn’t bring herself to get the words out.

"Deanna I have to know if she’s really his or not, and why you took her with you. I have to be able to give good, reasonable conditions as to why we shouldn’t allow her to be returned to her father."

She swallowed, but stayed silent. She turned around and walked to the window. She couldn’t bare this much longer. He was judging her, she knew he just had to be, and it killed her.

Will threw his hands up in frustration; there was no getting through to her. "Deanna if you can’t explain yourself I won’t be able to stop the consequences. I can only protect you so far, and if headquarters orders me to return the child, I’ll have to take her from you."

"No." Deanna screamed and ran to him, "You can’t, she’s mine. Don’t give her to that monster, she needs me Will."

Will grabbed her by her shoulders, "I won’t have a choice Deanna. You refuse to help; I can’t do this on my own. You say she means everything to you, yet you won’t do anything to help her. Do you honestly love her as much as you say? Or are you trying to get revenge on Aidris for what he did to you?"

Deanna, furious, couldn’t stand the sight of Will. She turned around and stormed out of her own quarters, but didn’t get very far. Will, determined to gain control of the situation, grabbed her arm and yanked her back in. He took hold of her other arm and pulled her close.

"Don’t," he whispered urgently, "Don’t you dare turn your back on me again."

They were pressed up against each other and Will’s grip hadn’t slackened. He refused to let go of her. Both were breathing heavily, anger fueling them. Will was staring into her eyes, causing her skin to tingle. She broke all contact.

"You’re right," she whispered.

They stood silent, Will wondered if she were going to continue. She did.

"I’ll file a formal report on her, the reasons why I took her, and reasons why she should stay with me. I’ll start looking into legal ways to get full custody of her, and try to get a restraining order for Aidris. I am thankful for your help in all this. I know it must be hard, trying to protect a child of mine that isn’t yours."

Will loosened his grip and looked away. "Thank you, I’ll look forward to your report. The sooner it’s filed the sooner Starfleet will give its decision."

Deanna nodded.

"I have to go, bridge duty in a few minutes. I’ll be in touch."

He walked out the door and left for the turbolift. Deanna noted how he refused to acknowledge Aidenna as her own daughter, how he didn’t even use her name.


Ch 10a

True to his word Aidris had already filed reports against Will and the Enterprise with headquarters back in San Francisco. But Will had already filed Deanna’s charges against Aidris and his crew, so for the moment they had the upper room. And with Picard in their corner things seemed to be getting better. But the outcome wouldn’t be known until the end. Aidris hadn’t even gotten his father involved in it, which could drastically change the way Starfleet Heads were surmising about the situation.

Right now there was nothing left to do. Headquarters were in meetings about the whole thing, wondering if there should be a court hearing, and Will couldn’t do anything until either a decision was reached, or someone threw a curve ball. So now he had before him the task of reconciling his children with their mother. They arrived at her quarters and Will rang the chime.

The door opened and revealed Deanna, waiting nervously for their arrival. She looked like she had been pacing, and she kept fidgeting with her hands. She smiled as the door pulled back to reveal the man she loved and their two, now significantly older, children. Her eyes went wide for just a second, only noticeable to him. She knew seven years had gone by, she realized that her babies would have grown considerably, but she wasn’t prepared for the shock of it all visually assaulting her. It was a cold splash of reality.

Will half-nudged, half-shoved them into her quarters and allowed the door to finally close. He was trying to get them to relax, but it was hard to know how to act in a situation like this. Deanna cursed the drugs that had been pumped into her week after week. She wanted to know what they were feeling, what they wanted… she couldn’t even glimpse at a way to begin. She would have to study them closely, use their body language to distinguish their moods. Glancing at Andy she marveled at how much he resembled her own father, the gods rest his soul… and Will’s piercing blue eyes. He would be quite the ladies man in a few years.

He wouldn’t meet her eyes, or anyone else’s for that matter. He just stared at his own feet, unsure of what would happen next or how he should act. She assumed he was just lost and confused, torn between decisions. She hoped that he would become comfortable with her. She knew he didn’t remember her; he had been just a baby when she left, but she hoped to build a relationship with him.

She turned her gaze to Lilandra and almost cringed. Had she her empathic abilities she would have staggered under the raw emotion being directed at her. There was no awkwardness with Lila, no shyness. She glared at Deanna, hatred in her eyes, and it cut Deanna’s heart to shreds. She didn’t understand Lila’s feelings towards her. She had anticipated a little anger, it was expected. But the boundless fury she perceived in her daughter’s eyes alone was devastating. She prayed that it was all fixable, whatever the problems were.

Deanna put on a smile, hoping to ease tensions. She opened her moth the say ‘hello,’ and then realized how weird it all felt. Why should she say ‘hello’ and act formal and detached with her children, her own flesh and blood? But she couldn’t act like nothing had ever happened, that she hadn’t been missing for most of their lives. So what should she say?

"Would you like to sit down?"

Silence answered her. Well, silence and wide-eyed stares.

// Brilliant, you’ve won them over now. ‘Hello’ would have been better than that. //

She looked up and Will had the cheesiest grin she’d ever seen plastered on his face. She knew he was thinking of a way to get things rolling along, and obviously he didn’t think too much of her first attempt. After two minutes of nothing went by Deanna gave up on trying to smooth things over and decided to just tell the truth.

"Look, let’s stop pretending. This is a unique and awkward situation for all of us. I know you have mixed feelings about all this, and I understand. I’d like for us to work through this, to talk about our feelings and answer any questions. It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight, but I hope to eventually patch things up, and to rebuild the closeness we once had."

She let that sink in while she watched them closely. Andy seemed a bit more relaxed, though his eyes were still intensely studying the carpet. He’d stopped fidgeting though, and actually every now and then moved his gaze to her feet. His courage was growing.

She looked over at Lila and it was obvious that her speech hadn’t been enough. If it was even possible her little girl had just become angrier. Deanna felt a temper tantrum on the horizon.

// 4… 3… 2… // both Deanna and Will counted down, both acutely aware of the rise in temperature in the room.

"This is total bullshit!" Lila screamed.

Will was stunned, his little girl didn’t swear… did she?

"Lila!" he began, trying to stop this before her fit become full blown. "Watch your language! What are you thinking, where have your manner gone? I can’t believe that you…"

She cut him off; determined to finally be heard. "I can’t believe you dragged me over here. I won’t talk, I don’t WANT to talk, I know how I feel and what I want to do."

Riker opened his mouth to chastise her again, but Deanna spoke up first.

"Alright angel, what do you feel? What do you want?"

"Don’t call me that." Lila whispered, suddenly disturbed.

"Call you what?" Deanna asked, confused, not realizing her pet name for Lilandra had snuck through.

"That!" she shrieked, hysterical. "Don’t call me angel! I’m not your angel! Only my mother can call me that, and you’re not my mother! You’re just a stranger. I hate you!"

She ran out of the room and into the corridor, her destination unknown. Will wasn’t too worried; there were only three or four places she would wind up. At the moment he was more concerned about Deanna and how she would take Lila’s outburst. He walked over and took her hands.

"I’m sorry Deanna, I had no idea. I’ll go and…"

"No Will, let her go." She looked into his eyes for emphasis. "She needs to be alone right now. When the time is right she’ll come to me. Trust me, I know my daughter."

Will nodded, "She’s so confused right now, and in a lot of denial. She’s just a kid, and add this to the changes she’s been going through… it all spells disaster."

She held up her hand. "You don’t have to make excuses for her. I understand that this is all too much for her."

Suddenly Deanna felt a tug on her pants leg. She glanced down and smiled.

"Lila’s just mad right now, but she always calms down. I bet she’s already sorry."

Deanna started to cry. Her baby boy was looking right at her, complete trust in his eyes, and words to try and make her feel better. Maybe it hadn’t all been in vain. She sat on the couch and gestured for Andy to sit next to her.

"Does she get angry a lot?"

Andy laughed. "All the time," he groaned, rolling his eyes. "And for stupid reasons too. But she always comes back and apologizes, all she has to do is talk to Grace."


"Yeah, dad’s girlfriend, Grace. All she ever does is talk to Grace… talk, talk, talk. I don’t understand how they can talk so much. Dumb girl stuff probably."

Andy continued to rattle on as Deanna’s world stopped.

// Grace? Girlfriend? //

Will hadn’t mentioned another woman.

// What girlfriend?! There shouldn’t be a girlfriend!! //

Deanna kept changing back and forth between anger and despair. Her husband, her lover, her best friend… her imzadi, was shacked up with some other woman!


Ch 10b

"Grace?" "Yeah, dad’s girlfriend…"

// Shit. //

He knew he had forgotten to tell her something. Will felt lower than scum, she shouldn’t have found out like this. Hell, he wasn’t even sure Grace was going to stay in their lives anymore. He was still confused about this part. The romantic in him said he should dump Grace, she was the other woman and he should stay with his ‘wife.’ But logic would argue that feelings on all sides had to be taken into consideration. He loved them both, and it was pulling him apart. He’d grown fond of Grace; they had bonded on so many levels. She was there for the children, and she was the mother Andy had grown to accept and Lila had allowed into her life. But now he also lost the main thing he had in common with her, the lost of a lover and best friend. His came back, hers never would. Would she find it unfair and become angry with him, transferring a newfound sense of loss into blame and jealousy?

And what about Deanna? To her everything should go back to the way they were. She would want to resume her role as mother and wife. He loved her, still did. He’d admitted to Grace that he always would, just as she would always love her late husband. But it posed a problem when the other love of your life rematerialized and was here to stay. He felt like he was going nowhere… fast.

// But Deanna’s my Imzadi. //

This he kept coming back to again and again. He couldn’t imagine life without her, with her in it. For her to be alive, yet living a separate life from him was unfathomable. She was his soul, then, now, and forever.

But he didn’t want to hurt Grace… or Deanna. Would she want him knowing he had moved on after him? Would she consider it betrayal?

Will thought he’d die if Deanna told him she didn’t want to be with him anymore.

He had to talk to her… tonight! He’d already talked with Grace. They agreed to put a halt on things while he thought things through and sorted out his feelings. Her mouth told him she understood, but did her heart? He couldn’t read Grace like he could Deanna. He never could be sure what Grace was thinking, what she was feeling. He’d never had that intimate bond with Grace that he and Deanna had shared.

He mourned for that closeness again, but at the same time it scared him. He remembered what it was like to have her with him always, that continual presence. He craved it like an addiction. But he also remembered the sudden silence. And ever since he’d been in perpetual withdrawal. If he and Deanna were to recreate their bond, he wouldn’t survive the severing of the new connection. With Grace there was only the chance of losing a person, of another broken heart. With Deanna he would lose himself.

Will laughed at the thought, thinking of the first time he’d tried to coax Deanna to just let herself go. They were a week or so away from their wedding and he had just returned from a weeklong conference back at the Academy. Deanna had to stay behind because of some experimental survey and the last thing they wanted to be was the public gardens. But Lwaxana had insisted that they attend the gathering, that Deanna’s status in society, which Will would adopt by marrying into the family, required them to make an appearance at such a social event. Tired of his mother-in-law’s nagging Will gave in, saying that they would only stay as long as etiquette allowed, and not the whole night.

They had decided the best way to get through the evening was to make it interesting. They joked and coyly flirted, sending images to each other, seeing who would crack first… only it backfired halfway through and all they could think about was going back to her bedroom. They had tried to leave early, but they were practically barricaded in. They decided to tour the more ‘private’ sections of the gardens, and once alone they couldn’t take their hands off each other.

After a while the kisses and caresses weren’t enough and so they went on a quest for a place were they weren’t likely to be found. He had been surprised at her willingness to go along with his idea. His fiancée was liberal minded in the bedroom, but conservative when it came to public displays of affection. They eventually found an equipment storage closet, and Will hot-wired the door open. It was then that Deanna got cold feet and opted for trying to sneak out again. Will, on the other hand, was tired of being polite and considering their social status, he wanted Deanna, and wanted her right there. It took quite a bit of coaxing, a little bargaining, and to this day Deana swore even downright begging, but she had finally consented and followed him through the door.

They rejoined the party later that night, and several couples had noticed their prolonged absence. They explained that they had wanted to see the roses and had snuck into the closed section and then had lost track of time. No one ever found out where they had really been, or what they had been up to… at least he didn’t think so.

Will zoned back into the present, remembering the bombshell his son had just dropped, unknowingly.

"Andy, I think your mother’s a little tired from today’s events, and I KNOW you have homework to finish. Why don’t you go home and study, be on the look out for your sister."

Andy nodded and looked at Deanna.

"I’m glad you came back," he said, and hugged her.

Deanna held on tight, treasuring the moment. Reluctantly she released him and watched him leave. But his words were still ringing in her ears. She looked over at Will, who looked like he wanted to be anywhere but there a that moment.

"Who’s Grace?"

"Grace? Who’s Grace?" he repeated, words escaping him.

"Yes, Grace, who is she? And this time can you give more than just a regurgitation of my own question?"

"Uh, well… Grace is… is… "

"Is what? Will it’s a fairly simple question, with a simple answer."

"Oh no it isn’t," he remarked, finding his voice. He sat down next to her, prepared for tears. "Grace is a woman I’ve been seeing. She is, was… is my girlfriend."

He let it sink in before continuing. "We met about a year ago, in Ten Forward. She had just transferred onto the Enterprise with her son. I had just received my promotion and she walked over to congratulate me and we started talking. We found out we had a lot in common, she had lost her husband in the line of duty a few years back. Talking led to dinner, dinner led to a date…"

Deanna couldn’t look at him; she didn’t know what to say. He had mourned her for over six years before moving on, but he had also gotten over her. Should she be angry? Sad? Understanding?

"You seem to falter on your present relationship status. Are you still together?"

He swallowed, not knowing how to proceed. He fidgeted with his hands and then decided to just speak his heart. He looked straight into her eyes and released the turmoil inside.

"I don’t know," he choked out, "I don’t know anything anymore. We haven’t officially broken up, but we have put things on hold in light of recent events. I… I’m so confused right now Deanna. I… I have feelings for you both, but I don’t want to hurt either of you."

"Don’t want to hurt… Will you can’t worry about hurting feelings. You can’t have it both ways, no matter what one of us loses you. I know things are complicated but it’s selfish to just keep us waiting, hoping it either all goes away or one of us makes the decision for you."

Will cringed at the tone of her voice, he hadn’t figured on her being angry.

"Will, I won’t lie to you. Even though I understand you had to let me go and that these circumstances are one in a million, I’m also upset and angry that you’re seeing someone else. And you couldn’t even tell me; I had to hear it from our son. You can’t worry about hurting me; you’ve already done that by lying to me.

Now it was Will’s turn to get angry, how could she be upset about Grace?

"Wait just a second, you are upset and angry?! You just said you understood! Deanna you were dead, even your mother tried to set me up with other women after a year had passed. I rejected them; I wasn’t looking for anyone else. I just happened to meet Grace, and we clicked. We even discussed this before you left for your mission. We agreed that if anything happened you wanted me to find someone else, even if it was just for the kids. If anyone’s being selfish, it’s you."

Deanna’s cheeks were flushed; she wasn’t going to let this one go.

"Me, selfish?! I should understand and comply? You weren’t the one captured, forced into slavery. You didn’t even try to look for me… you just gave up! How long did you fight for permission to investigate? Or did it even come to mind? Was it just easier to believe what you heard without question?"

"That’s not fair dammit, we had debris from an explosion, power signatures…"

"But what about a true explanation? Did you once ask why the ship exploded? Who shot at us? Why did they shoot? Or was it just filed under mysterious circumstances and forgotten about."

"Are you serious?! Do you know how you sound? Of course I wanted to refuse to accept your death, but would you honestly have been convinced that I was alive if the roles had been reversed? How often is a blown ship just a ruse? Not EVEN one in a million, try one in a billion!"

They were both infuriated and Deanna got up to walk her anger off. This was getting them nowhere. They were finally getting everything out of their systems, and unfortunately they had taken Lila’s route to releasing their emotions. She tapped behind her ear trying to relax herself.

"You’re right, and I don’t blame you for not coming to my rescue. It’s childish of me to act his way, and unfair to you. It’s my fault that I allowed myself to dream about miracles instead of coming to terms with reality. It’s just all heightened because of the fact that you did EVENTUALLY save me. I don’t know what came over me."

Will stood up and took her into his arms.

"We’re both upset, emotionally drained… stressed also comes to mind."

She laughed at his attempt to lift the mood.

"I’m sorry too. I should have told you right away about Grace."

"Yes you should have…" she chimed in, not letting the subject go.

"Yes, I should, just like you should have told me about Aidris’s daughter."

He hadn’t planned on bringing it up, but Deanna couldn’t let the Grace issue drop either.

"Aidenna" she murmured.

"Yeah, her. When were you going to tell me that you had another child? Were you ever going to tell me?"

"Of course I was! How dare you… that is a very delicate issue Will, I was going to explain when I was ready."

"When you were ready? I have to tell you all about Grace right now, but the love child between my wife and an Orion pirate can wait?!!"

"Get out!" she screamed, pushing him away. He had gone too far.

"Excuse me?"

"I said get out."

"Oh, I’m sorry, is this topic too touchy for you? Why don’t we just go back to judging me then, cause…"

"Dammit, get away from me!"

Will stopped, sarcasm no longer on his mind.

"Deanna I’m not leaving."

"You have no idea what’s happened, you have no right to judge me. I want you to leave me alone."

"Deanna, talk to me."

"Leave or I will call Security."

She moved to the communication console, she wasn’t playing. Will put his hands up in defeat.

"Alright, you win. I’ll leave."

He slowly made his way to the door.

"But I WILL be back, and next time I want the truth."

He turned and left, heading for the gym. He wondered if Worf’s calisthenics program was still in the computer’s databanks.

Deanna was seething. She didn’t understand how he could be so insensitive. She started to cry again.

// This is never going to work out. //


Ch 11a

They had gotten a trial hearing. Starfleet could not, in good faith, demand that Will hand Aidenna back over to Aidris. Apparently his father had no problem with covering over the stolen property. Aidris wouldn’t even get a slap on the wrist, because why would the federation punish someone who was merely ‘returning’ their property he just ‘happened’ to come across in his search for slaves.

The slaves were another matter entirely. For his possession of them he was not allowed to fly anywhere for one federation standard year, and for five years after he could not venture our past his star system.

But when asked about the child, Aidris’s father denied any knowledge of her. He was ashamed of the child, being of noble AND slave blood. He repeatedly denied that he had any grandchildren whatsoever, that he was patiently waiting for his son and his wife Mary to decide to begin their family.

Aidris, however, was stubborn. Or stupid. He persisted that Deanna had kidnapped his daughter out of revenge and that he was legally entitled to full custody. He even had his right hand man, Marlq, on hand to testify in his defense. And somehow or other he even had Mary ready to speak against Deanna. Deanna didn’t know if Aidris was forcing her by threats, or if she was doing it to spite her. She hated Deanna with a vengeance, and never missed a chance to let it be known. She may hate Aidenna, but if it would cause Deanna pain she would do it anyway.

The trial was going to be small: a presiding judge, her and Aidris’s lawyers, a small group of witnesses, and a tribunal consisting of two Vulcans and a full blooded Betazoid. The tribunal was standard at any trial, to convey who was telling the truth and who was lying.

In the group of witnesses were Aidris’s father, who looked like he had been born with a frown on his face, Mary and Marlq, Admiral Picard, and Will. It all made her very nervous. She answered her questions as calmly as she could, avoided the heavy fire, but clammed up when asked about what she had endured under Aidris’s command.

Aidris claimed that Deanna was a willing participant; that she had not wanted to go home. He treated her well and their child was his top priority. She could not deny this last bit, because it was true. He loved Aidenna with all his heart, and once she had been born Deanna herself had been pampered and catered too. She knew it was only for the sake of the child, and Aidris’s perverse way of thinking, but she could not prove it. The only way she could prove what a monster he was, was to recall the events of her initial meeting with the Orion, which she still couldn’t get out.

Aidris beamed from ear to ear, seeing her eyes glaze over as once again they asked her to explain to the court her allegations against Aidris. He was sure she would be too scared and humiliated to testify against him. He would win, and take Aidenna away and erase any memory of her mother from her mind. But in reality all that was keeping Deanna from shouting from the rafters the evils he unleashed was Will. She couldn’t bare to speak about what she had gone through in front of him. It was too shameful. Finally, her lawyer spoke up for her.

"Your honor I request a short recess for my client. I think she just needs a bit of fresh air. As you can see, remembering the things she underwent at the hands of this pirate is overwhelming her."

Even Will rolled his eyes at that jab. Lawyers were always too over dramatic.

The judge agreed, allowing for a 15-minute break. When she was alone with her lawyer, he tensed, "What’s wrong? We have him, you know we do, but we need that testament. Why are you blowing this?"

Deanna was breathing hard; she could see the world going white. She was hyperventilating and it was scaring her lawyer. He sat down next to her and tried to calm her down.

"Alright, alright. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have gotten on you like that. Are you ok? Do you need to see a doctor?"

Deanna was calming down; she shook her head no.

"Can you tell me what happened back there?"

Deanna nodded again, "I can’t… I just can’t. Not with him in there."

"Him? Him who? Look if there is someone in there that’s making you nervous just name them and I’ll have them removed."

She shook her head ‘no’ fervently. "No I can’t do that, I couldn’t hurt him like that."

"Him who?1" he practically shouted.

"None of your business. Look, I just can’t recount those memories, not in there in front of everyone, it’s too horrible."

Her lawyer sighed and scratched his head, "Well, I don’t know what we can do then. I have to say that without that statement Aidris will win, and you probably won’t get any custody, not even supervised. He’ll take her away and you’ll never see her again."

She went wild. "No! You can’t let that happen. You promised you…"

"That was when we had your testimony, without it it’s a lost cause. The judge and tribunal need to hear for themselves what you endured, they have to know you’re telling the truth."

He paused, suddenly in deep thought. Deanna looked at him, "What?" She knew he was looking for another way.

Suddenly he snapped his fingers, "I’ve got it. All I have to do is request a meeting with the judge before our break is over. But first, Deanna, would you have any qualms about telling it to just the judge and the tribunal? They do it for children and those cases where one of the party members involved is deeply disturbed. By law you fall under the category of deeply disturbed, you haven’t even begun treatment yet for the psychology trauma you’ve endured. If I can convince the judge, you will go into his chambers with the tribunal, and two witnesses. I can’t go and neither can Aidris or his lawyer. They pick two third parties to witness the events, people who haven’t been involved with the hearing. Could you give your testimony then?"

Deanna was shocked. She couldn’t believe she hadn’t thought about this law. It made perfect sense, and she didn’t have to tell her story in front of Will… or Picard for that matter. She shook her head, "Yes, I can do that. Oh please, this would solve everything."

She smiled, "I’m going to keep her aren’t I?"

Her lawyer smiled, "Let’s hope so."

He got up to request a meeting with the judge. Both had their fingers crossed.


The judge’s chambers were done in earth tones, very soothing to Deanna. She felt safe and comfortable here. She waited for the hearing to proceed.

"Now Mrs. Troi just relax," said the judge, getting things underway, "All you have to do is, in your own words tell us about the events that would supposedly incriminate the defendant. The tribunal is here to ascertain the validity of your statement. Please, take your time."

Deanna nodded in confirmation, "Yes, your honor."

She took a deep breath and licked her lips, uncertain of how she should start. One of the tribunal spoke up, "Just start from the beginning, no matter how insignificant."

She nodded, and began with what happened after the Orion pirates had captured her, and she had been brought to their medical facilities…


Ch 11 1b

Her vision was still hazy. The ‘doctor’ had said the drugs he injected would not impede any of her other senses or functions, but she wondered if he had just said it to keep her calm. He wasn’t much of a man… not much of anything. She could have taken him and he knew it. However, the security officer standing off to the side could snap her in half without any effort.

After the initial shock a younger Orion came in, a subordinate, with a message that she was to be taken to the captain. At the time she had been happy, thought it was a good thing. She assumed he had found out she was a Starfleet officer and thought he could use her as a bargaining chip. Starfleet had realized what had really happened, that the destruction of the ship was a red herring designed to throw them off their trail. She wasn’t too happy about being a hostage, but it left hope of being rescued.

She got off the medical bed and willingly followed the guard, who seemed happy for her cooperation. He led her down a series of corridors and stopped in front of two massive doors. They looked like the entrance to a cargo bay, but when they opened she saw a plush and extravagant waiting area. She was confused. Wouldn’t the captain meet with her in his office? Or even in the brig?

Several women entered from behind them and startled her. It was disconcerting. She was used to knowing who was around her. Out of habit she tried to reach out for a sense of these women. But there was nothing, absolutely nothing. She was suddenly overwhelmed with anxiety. She was blind. She could see, but it was only surface value. That which gave her depth, color, was gone. She felt as blind as Geordi.

What happened next seemed like something she watched on a holo. The officer was talking to the women. She heard bits and pieces, among them ‘slave,’ ‘captain,’ and ‘prepare.’ She thought they were slaves getting orders from their Captain. Bit what were they to prepare for?

The security officer turned towards her, "Don’t try anything. I’ll be right outside." He turned and exited, planting himself right next to the door on the left, another officer having already taken his place on the right.

As soon as the doors closed the women surrounded her and edged her towards a door on her left. She entered and found herself in a bath of some sort. The women began to disrobe her. She resisted at first, but then one of the women broke their silence and explained that the captain had ordered that she be bathed and given new attire. Well that made sense. If this unseen captain was going to bargain with her he wouldn’t want Starfleet to think she had been mistreated, at least in appearance. He would want to stay on their good side in order to escape without harsh repercussions.

Deanna was embarrassed with the women trying to bathe her. She asked if she could be left alone. The request seemed to put them on edge, so she compromised. If they let her bathe herself they could stay and make sure she didn’t try to escape. This relaxed them and they agreed. During her bath one of the younger girls left and returned with towels and a robe. Deanna was confused; she thought they were bringing her fresh clothing. The women, to her dismay, had crowded around her again. She tried to protest, claiming she was fully capable of dressing herself, but they would not relent. Finally she gave up and tried to just go with it. They dried her and placed the robe on her. After, they led her to what she assumed was a dressing area and proceeded to dry and fix her hair. It was all very peculiar to her. When they were done she was led into another room, this one a bedroom, and told to rest until the captain came for her.

As the women were filing out the oldest lagged behind and turned to speak with Deanna. In a hushed tone she offered Deanna something to help relax her, saying it would be easier for her in the morning. She declined, not understanding just what the woman was actually offering.

"Have it your way then, " the woman shrugged, "But if your bravery runs out, just call." She left Deanna in the room and took up watch with the other slaves in the outer room.

Deanna looked round her surroundings and tried to memorize the placement of furniture, just in case. She walked around and tested the walls and doors, looking for any possible escape routes. There was nothing, only one entrance/exit, and it was guarded. She sat on a couch near the door, awaiting the captain and feeling very uncomfortable.

She decided to make the most of her time alone, and tried to reclaim some control over herself. She closed her eyes and regulated her breathing, trying to center herself. She had not been the same since she woke up and realized she was blind. In order to be able to regain control of the situation, she first needed to regain control of her emotions. Deanna knew that first she needed to calm her nerves. Her fear was running rampant and she needed to close it off. She pictured Will and drew strength from him. She recalled his voice and the blueness of his eyes, and soon her tension eased some. She kept slightly on edge, needing the adrenaline to keep on top, but she was relaxed enough to now delve into the silence of her mind, and to quiet its roar.

Deanna concentrated on the dark silence that was now her mind. It was repulsive at first. Since waking in their medical facility she had felt two-dimensional. As she delved deeper into the abyss, the darkness became thicker and murkier. At some point she lost control and panicked. It was too much, her mind now foreign to her. She felt like she was drowning in black ink. She thrashed and splashed, trying to rise back to full consciousness, only to be pulled back down. She could hear a voice, far-off, concerned. She couldn’t pinpoint its location. It wasn’t familiar to her so she turned back to the situation at hand… regaining control of her faculties.

Again she pictured her family and concentrated on them. She was determined to return home and hold her babies in her arms again. She wanted to sing them to sleep. She wanted to hear them laugh and to see them smile, she wanted it so bad she could practically hear them. As she concentrated on her children, slowly she began to rise, the darkness letting go of its grip. Then she focused on Will. She wanted desperately to reopen their bond. She was so alone without him inside her. She wanted to be in the safety of his arms, to kiss him passionately, to synchronize their heartbeats as she slept with his arms around her.

Without realizing it she had successfully regained control, temporarily. The abyss was still there, she still felt foreign in her own body, but she awoke from the trance she had put herself in and blinked in confusion as she tried to remember where she was. She glanced around and found the old Orion slave next to her, looking very worried. When she noticed Deanna’s eyes were open again and that she was aware of her surroundings, she sighed in relief.

"Thank the gods, I thought you had left us for good. That wasn’t a very nice thing to do, scaring me like that. And after all I’ve tried to do for you."

"I beg your pardon?" Deanna asked slowly, thoroughly confused.

The old woman kept going, ignoring Deanna’s question. "I’ve come to offer you that cup of tea again, my ‘special’ brew," she said slowly to make sure Deanna got the hint.

Deanna shook her head. "No thank you. As I said before I don’t want it. Does your captain know you like to drug his captives?"

The old woman gasped and reeled back as if Deanna had slapped her. "If the master knew that I was helping to ease the pain and suffering he caused his women he would kill me." She became hysterical, "I can take a hint, you know. You don’t want any. That’s fine, but don’t come crying when your courage has fled and you’re begging for mercy. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you."

She walked towards the door. As the door opened she turned to Deanna, "By the way young one, the master is on his way. You’re courage will be put to the test in only a few minutes."

She exited cackling, apparently amused by Deanna’s refusal of drugs. But her words stung, and Deanna became uneasy. She began to wonder if she really was being held for ransom. None of this made any sense to her. Within a couple of minutes she head a deep male voice barking out orders on the other side of the door. Deanna’s pulse raced. She searched frantically for a hiding place. She couldn’t empathically sense anything wrong, but she had this awful feeling. That she should get away before it was too late.

She raced to the far side of the bedroom, clawing behind furniture, literally climbing the walls for any means of escape. In a last ditch effort she ran to hide under the bed, knowing even then it would be the first place he would look. She wouldn’t get the chance to test it out. The bed was too low to the ground, there really was no ‘under the bed.’ As she rose she began to slowly back up. She was trapped. She wasn’t watching where she was walking and bumped into a small end table. The vase of flowers toppled over and fell to the floor. The carpeted floor prevented the vase from smashing, but was not thick enough to swallow the loud THUD as the vase hit and cracked. Before Deanna could even get up, Aidris was standing in the doorway, roaring in rage. He leapt over to her side and manhandled her into a standing position. He stared at her, anger being the only thing keeping him from screaming at her.

Deanna reflexively cringed. She wished she had just stayed seated. Finally, Aidris calmed enough to find his voice. He was squeezing her arm so hard that tears were rolling down her cheeks.

"You will pay for that, slave," Aidris spit in her face.

Deanna nodded.

"Pick it up," he ordered, his voice rising in tempo. He let go of her arm, a bruise instantly forming on her skin where his fingers had been. Shaking, Deanna picked up the vase and placed it on the table. She knelt and picked up the flowers, placing them back inside. When she was finished she stood up and waited, expecting backlash. Instead, Aidris nodded and headed for his bathroom. Puzzled, Deanna turned and watched the door until he reappeared, not sure what to do or what would happen.

Aidris reappeared, wearing only his underclothes, which looked like a cross between a loincloth and Will’s bikini briefs. Deanna averted her gaze, embarrassment coloring her cheeks. She didn’t know why the Orion was being so casual in her presence. She felt she should say something, but was at a lost for words. Aidris mistook her actions for shyness and naïveté. He grinned, his face taking on a primal look.

"I had no idea you were a virgin, you looked so much older."

Deanna’s head snapped up at the comment, "What?!"

Aidris laughed, "There is no need for embarrassment here. In fact, this new bit of news has made me forgotten you bumbling clumsiness. You ARE a prize indeed."

He licked his lips; Deanna wanted to gag. "This shall be more fun than I had anticipated."

He walked towards her. Deanna began backing up again, forgetting she had turned herself around. Aidris quickened his pace and caught her arms as she turned, and realized she was trapped between the bed and him. He pulled her towards him and kissed her, trying to pry her lips apart. Deanna did the only thing she could think of to hurt him, she bit down on his lip. She bit so hard she tasted his blood in her mouth.

Aidris screamed and let her go, his hand flying to his injured lip. Deanna immediately wiggled free and ran to the other side of the bed, using it as blockage. Aidris was staring at his blood on his hand, then back at her, disbelief in his eyes.

"Stay away from me." Deanna yelled at him, panic in her voice. Aidris laughed and started circling the bed towards her. Deanna kept pace in the opposite direction. As she neared the top she grabbed some pillows and chucked them at his head, hoping for another distraction. He dodged them all too easily. Deanna didn’t know what to do.

She remembered his remark about her supposed virginity. He had been all too happy to assume he was about to defile a young virgin; perhaps he wouldn’t want her knowing who she really was.

"I’m not a virgin," she said, hoping to see him back off.

"Too bad."

"I’m not even that young."

"You’ll do."

"I have two children."

"Good, then you’ll know what you’re doing."

"I’m married!" she cried, hoping he had some sort of moral code.

"So," he said, dashing her last hope.

Deanna grew hysterical. She ran and grabbed the vase off the table. "If you don’t stop I’ll make you. I’ll hit you with this, as hard as I can."

Aidris laughed, a deep grumbling in his chest. "I don’t mind a little four-play, if that’s what you prefer."

Deanna screamed and ran right for him, ready to ram the vase into his face. Aidris pivoted and the vase crashed into his upper arm, as he grabbed her with his free hand. He grunted as the vase shattered, cutting into his skin. He grinned, "First blood."

He spun around and pushed her into the bed, falling on top of her. He tangled his legs around hers, completely ceasing all movement in her body from the waist down.

"No," she yelled, clawing at his chest with her free hand. But it was no use, the more she fought, the more he laughed.

He covered her mouth with his, this time forcing her lips apart. She couldn’t breath, and when he let up she sucked in air. Her lips were bruised from his violent kiss, and her jaw ached from the pressure.

"No," she shouted again, wondering how the servants could allow this to continue.

"Why do you do that?" he asked, literally confused. "No one will help you, no one here cares. You cannot escape, so why make things harder? Why not relax and try to enjoy yourself," he offered as he inched the robe off her shoulders.

He had to shift to tug on the robe, releasing her arm and allowing her to free her top half. She clawed at his face, going for his eyes. He reeled back in surprise and roared, catching her wrists and regaining control. He squeezed until she whimpered.

"My patience is wearing thin, slave. At first your fire was exhilarating, but now I am becoming annoyed."

She spit in his face. "I am no one’s bed slave."

Aidris slapped her face and calmly wiped her saliva off. His heavy hand left a big red mark. He knew it must have hurt, but she said nothing. Aidris, tired of playing, pinned her arms to her side, using his bulk to keep them down, as he proceeded with his original plans.

"Please don’t," she whispered tearfully. Aidris ignored her and began his discovery of her flesh over again, starting with her neck and shoulders.

She tried to wiggle away, but there was nowhere to go. Trying to keep away from his mouth only brought him closer to her breasts. So she stopped and layed there, unmoving. As his hands entered her robed and touched her skin she chocked back a few sobs and tried to calm down.

When he realized she had been pacified he let up on his grip, and repositioned himself so he could get a better look at her body. He decided to take his time with her, convinced she wouldn’t be any trouble anymore.

Deanna didn’t try to escape again. She watched him as he explored the skin on her stomach underneath her robe. After a few seconds she let out a small sigh. Aidris didn’t miss it and he smiled triumphantly.

"Enjoying yourself already I see," he whispered into her ear, untangling his legs so that he could lie on his side and watch her reactions as he fondled her.

Deanna let him go a little farther, moaning softly as he stroked her back and caressed her thigh. Aidris was about to pull loose the robe belt when she put her hands on him. She ran her palms up his biceps and down his chest. He grinned, knowing what was coming next.

He didn’t move to stop her and she continued down, pulling down his underwear. Aidris closed his eyes and waited for her fingers to caress and stroke him. Deanna’s smile turned into a sneer as she grabbed onto his now hardened cock and squeezed at the base, digging fingernails into his balls.

Aidris didn’t’ know what hit him until he felt a burning, tearing sensation. He yelped and tried to knock her over.

Deanna gripped tighter and yanked, letting him know who was now in control. He stopped thrashing, mewling in pain.

Deanna snarled, "So help me if you do not leave me go, I’ll rip it completely off."

She had snapped and he saw it in her eyes. The head of his penis was turning an unhealthy shade of blue/purple from the lack of blood circulation. He was sure that if she didn’t rip out as promised, he would burst open.

"Alright," he bellowed, hating her more and more, "You win. Back off."

She didn’t let up. "No, you call in someone first to take me where I can contact Starfleet. Or even to the brig. I will not let you go while still alone with you."

Aidris nodded and activated a comm. Link. He barked out orders and in seconds two security men entered and prepared to escort her to a holding cell. The doctor followed them in, fussing over his captain. Deanna thought he looked like he was hamming it up a bit. She moved to get away, but was too late. The guards seized hold of her and presented her to the doctor.

When the servants had heard Aidris’s scream they ran for the guards and called the doctor. Deanna’s luck had finally run out. The doctor slapped a hypo against her neck and she went listless. She was wide-awake, capable of feeling and speaking, yet her body refused to acknowledge her demands. She watched helplessly as the doctor treated Aidris’s wounds. When he was done he left, and Aidris signaled that they be left alone. The guards threw her into the bed and left, positioning themselves right outside the door. Aidris was calm; he was scaring her.

In one motion he ripped off her robe and did as he please, not caring anymore about her. Deanna went into shock, she didn’t feel his hands, though she saw them pinch and squeeze. He left bruises and cuts all over her skin. He bit until he drew blood in all her sensitive areas. Deanna registered none of this. She concentrated only on an absurd sound hurting her ears. A few moments later she recognized them as screams, and the voice as hers. It wasn’t until she felt her throat tighten in pain that she registered that it had been her screaming. Her throat closed up, now raw, and she began to cry as her screams continued to echo in her mind.

When she thought she had completely lost her voice, Aidris found it for her. In one motion he plunged into her, not even giving her body time to prepare itself for such an entry. He rammed himself up to the hilt as Deanna found her vocal chords still usable. She screamed as she felt him tearing and ripping her as he moved inside her, using her blood as lubrication.

Minutes later she passed out from the pain; not knowing what other unspeakable things he did to her as he took his rage out on her body.


ch 11 2b

Her vision was still hazy. The ‘doctor’ had said the drugs he injected would not impede any of her other senses or functions, but she wondered if he had just said it to keep her calm. He wasn’t much of a man… not much of anything. She could have taken him and he knew it. However, the security officer standing off to the side could snap her in half without any effort.

After the initial shock a younger Orion came in, a subordinate, with a message that she was to be taken to the captain. At the time she had been happy, thought it was a good thing. She assumed he had found out she was a Starfleet officer and thought he could use her as a bargaining chip. Starfleet had realized what had really happened, that the destruction of the ship was a red herring designed to throw them off their trail. She wasn’t too happy about being a hostage, but it left hope of being rescued.

She got off the medical bed and willingly followed the guard, who seemed happy for her cooperation. He led her down a series of corridors and stopped in front of two massive doors. They looked like the entrance to a cargo bay, but when they opened she saw a plush and extravagant waiting area. She was confused. Wouldn’t the captain meet with her in his office? Or even in the brig?

Several women entered from behind them and startled her. It was disconcerting. She was used to knowing who was around her. Out of habit she tried to reach out for a sense of these women. But there was nothing, absolutely nothing. She was suddenly overwhelmed with anxiety. She was blind. She could see, but it was only surface value. That which gave her depth, color, was gone. She felt as blind as Geordi.

What happened next seemed like something she watched on a holo. The officer was talking to the women. She heard bits and pieces, among them ‘slave,’ ‘captain,’ and ‘prepare.’ She thought they were slaves getting orders from their Captain. Bit what were they to prepare for?

The security officer turned towards her, "Don’t try anything. I’ll be right outside." He turned and exited, planting himself right next to the door on the left, another officer having already taken his place on the right.

As soon as the doors closed the women surrounded her and edged her towards a door on her left. She entered and found herself in a bath of some sort. The women began to disrobe her. She resisted at first, but then one of the women broke their silence and explained that the captain had ordered that she be bathed and given new attire. Well that made sense. If this unseen captain was going to bargain with her he wouldn’t want Starfleet to think she had been mistreated, at least in appearance. He would want to stay on their good side in order to escape without harsh repercussions.

Deanna was embarrassed with the women trying to bathe her. She asked if she could be left alone. The request seemed to put them on edge, so she compromised. If they let her bathe herself they could stay and make sure she didn’t try to escape. This relaxed them and they agreed. During her bath one of the younger girls left and returned with towels and a robe. Deanna was confused; she thought they were bringing her fresh clothing. The women, to her dismay, had crowded around her again. She tried to protest, claiming she was fully capable of dressing herself, but they would not relent. Finally she gave up and tried to just go with it. They dried her and placed the robe on her. After, they led her to what she assumed was a dressing area and proceeded to dry and fix her hair. It was all very peculiar to her. When they were done she was led into another room, this one a bedroom, and told to rest until the captain came for her.

As the women were filing out the oldest lagged behind and turned to speak with Deanna. In a hushed tone she offered Deanna something to help relax her, saying it would be easier for her in the morning. She declined, not understanding just what the woman was actually offering.

"Have it your way then, " the woman shrugged, "But if your bravery runs out, just call." She left Deanna in the room and took up watch with the other slaves in the outer room…


Deanna stopped talking long enough to take a sip of water, her mouth dry as she got to the worst part.

"I don’t know what I thought was going to happen. I was so naïve, or stupid. I guess I just didn’t want to see what was going to happen. All the signs were there, I even looked for escape routes."

She paused and took a deep breath, "Once Aidris entered he went to get cleaned up, and when he returned he attacked me."

"In what manner did her attack you?" the judge asked, needing more information.

"He attacked me, he… he raped me. He lunged at me and I tried to fight, I tried so hard to fight him off. At one point I thought I had him, but his guards had overheard the struggle. They ran to get the doctor and they took care of his wounds, and he drugged me. I could no longer fight him; the drugs had impaired the movement of my body. He raped me."

She stopped, her eyes vacuous as she remembered those horrible, terrifying events. The judge breathed deeply, letting it out in a sad sigh. He hated to hear these sorts of cases.

He looked over at the tribunal to confirm her words, but he already knew the truth. She wasn’t lying, and the nod of their heads in confirmation sealed it. All that was left was to confer with the tribunal and deal out the appropriate repercussions.


Ch. 12

It had been two weeks since the trial. She had won full custody of Aidenna, and Adiris was sent to a mental facility in the Rigel system. They were going to send him to prison, only his lawyer was able to get him off on a plea of insanity. Either way he was going to be locked up until Aidenna was grown and had children of her own, and there was nothing he could do to change the judgment.

She and her daughter were now free, and Deanna was receiving psychiatric treatment for the abuse and trauma she had suffered. Now only one thing left remained, her relationship with Will.

He was due any minute now, and she was still trembling. He wanted answers that she wasn’t ready to give. He knew she was keeping something from him, and she knew it hurt him deeply to know she didn’t trust him enough to understand. But it wasn’t that she didn’t trust him. On the contrary, he was the only person she trusted not to judge her.

She wasn’t sure what it was exactly that she was afraid of. It may be pity, but she doubted he would pity her; perhaps sympathy, though she was already dealing with some of that; and she knew he would never look down upon her, even without knowing all of the truth. At least she thought so.

// So why the apprehension? // she asked herself.

She turned as she heard Aidenna fuss, going over to check on her. She was just turning over in her bed. Looking at her youngest daughter she knew her answer. She was ashamed. Will already knew about Aidenna, but he only knew a portion. He knew nothing of the humiliation she had suffered at Aidris’s hands.

It wasn’t fair of her to keep Will in the dark. He had been completely open and honest about Grace, his feelings for her, and where they were before her resurrection. So it was rightfully expected that she do the same. His choices since her capture left little consequences, merely a slight love triangle. Her path had left the impact of a child with another man. It was a bit harder to swallow and get past.

She checked the chrono again. He was a few minutes late now. She relaxed some.

// Maybe something came up and he was forced to pull a double shift. //

She was considering that fact that she may have actually lucked out when the chime sounded.

// Damn. //

She smoothed her hair and then went to sit down… and then stood back up. How should she look when he came in? She could stand, of course that might show how much she had been pacing. She could sit down, but then she might look as if she didn’t care. She could sit at the vid-screen! But what if it came off as she was too busy for them…

The chime sounded again. She was taking too long, he would get worried if he had to ring a third time.

"Come in," she finally answered, opting to just slightly lean on the back of her chair.

He walked through the door and she closed up, building an inner fortress around herself. Now that the time had come she was chickening out. She wasn’t ready, not yet, so she decided to think ugly thoughts. Anger was coming easier to her by the hour; it was quick and easy to avoid this subject with it. It had become a game with them: they would say hello and start with small talk, then he would ask her an innocent question, she’d twist it around and take offense, he would retaliate harshly, a fight would ensue, and it would end with Deanna kicking Will out in a fit of hysterics.

It would be the same again this evening, so she was stealing herself against the upcoming emotional onslaught before actually instigating it.

But Will did something she hadn’t expected, he changed tactics and it sent her reeling, unsure of how to proceed. Will walked in carrying a holo-chip. Instead of walking over and stopping in front of her to speak, he made himself at home, sitting on the couch, and patting the cushion next to him.

// What’s he up to? // she wondered, complying with his wish.

She looked at him suspiciously.

Will smiled and began to explain. "I’ve noticed a reoccurring pattern to our evenings together, and I didn’t like what I saw. I don’t want to fight again. I hate being angry with you, having you furious at me, so I decided to forget it all tonight. I can’t force you to talk to me, no matter how much it hurts. So I’m just going to tell you that I can wait. It’s obvious you aren’t comfortable with talking about what happened during your incarceration, so we won’t talk about it. In fact, let’s just forget about it and everything else for the night."

He waited for his words to sink in. She still looked confused.

"Will, I don’t understand. You came over tonight to talk…"

"And instead I brought over Beverly’s latest conquest."

He held up the holo, grinning. "The newest installment of the good doctor’s ever expanding musical library. It’s a Legarian opera. I thought you might like the distraction."

An opera? She was ready for a shouting match and he wanted to watch an opera? She was furious; he wasn’t playing fair! He wasn’t supposed to compromise, she wanted him on the defense.

Will must have saw something in her eyes because his smile fell and his eyes saddened. "If you don’t want to spend time with me I’ll just leave the holo here and you can return it to Beverly once you’ve finished it."

She felt horrible. He was trying to make it easier for her, trying to make her happy. And how did she repay him? With more anger and more estrangement. She was the one who had wanted them to stay together, to try and go back to the way they had been. But now that Will was trying to get close, she was pushing him away.

Will had stood up and was about to leave when she grabbed his hand to stop him.

"No, I’m sorry. Please stay. I would love to watch it with you." She smiled, covering up how nervous she was. She was afraid she’d hurt him and he would decline the invitation.

To her relief he smiled, that old Will Riker smile that made her heart flutter. He sat back down and inserted the holo into a port and activated the program.

"Beverly said it was a comedy. I thought a good laugh would be just what the doctor ordered."

Deanna groaned; his puns were still as bad as they had been all those years ago.

"Not good?" he asked, knowing the answer.

"Not good," she laughed, as they fell into their old rhythm.

It felt good, comfortable. Within minutes she found herself snuggled in his arms, synchronizing her breathing with his, laughing at the same things. This was how it was supposed to be, always. And she had almost spoiled it.

The opera was a pleasant distraction. It was indeed just what she needed, but then Will was always sympathetic to her needs. He always knew what she wanted, whether or not she actually did at the time.

As the holo neared the last song and dance sequence, Deanna found herself thinking again of how to explain what she had gone through. It was one of the major hurdles for them to overcome in order to resume a life together. The other, being Aidenna, would come next. But that would have to come primarily from him. He had to accept her freely.

Will’s arm tightened around her again and she smiled. He had periodically pulled her closer throughout the evening, as if he had to reassure himself she was really there, right beside him. Again she asked herself why she was being so stubborn, why didn’t she just tell him everything.

// But what if I tell him everything and he leaves me for her? //

Where had that come from? She hadn’t felt threatened by Grace before, why now? And what did it matter? He deserved an explanation whether they stayed together or not. They would always have each other in their lives because of the children, so it wasn’t like she could leave and never see him again. If things didn’t work out she and Will could always remain friends. It would be awkward at first, rules would have to be set, but they had always been best friends and she couldn’t see their friendship ending over this, especially with the children involved.

She wondered what it would be like with just a close friendship with her Imzadi. Sharing a bed with another man, not experiencing every moment with the love of her life. Denying her body and soul that which she wanted most. It would be a life of self-denial and repression, and it repulsed her. Life with just a close friendship with her Imzadi, it was vulgar.

She was seized with a tremendous feeling of fear. It consumed her, invaded her. Her hands were gripping Will’s arm, her nails digging into his skin, without her even realizing it.

"Aidris is Aidenna’s father," she blurted out before she could stop herself. He heart had betrayed her mind, and she was forever grateful.

"I know," Will whispered, looking down at her and planting a small kiss on her lips. He remained silent and kept his attention on her, allowing Deanna to control the conversation.


Will had left early, but for once in high spirits. Though Deanna hadn’t told him everything, she had gotten the ball rolling. She felt it was only a matter of time before she told him the whole story.

Deanna finished lulling Aidenna back to sleep and ordered a hot chocolate from the replicator. The steamy, sweet liquid was warm and smooth going down, and it helped to soothe her. She curled up on the sofa, cupping her glass, intent on enjoying the moment.

As she replayed the evening in her mind she realized she’d only acknowledged to Will facts he already knew. But it had been enough for him, at least for now. She didn’t understand it, how could he have been subdued with just those few statements?

As she tried to reason out an answer she was reminded of a conversation she once had with Lt. Yar. Tasha had been suffering from reoccurring nightmares again and late on night she woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. The nightmare had shook her up so bad she had to talk to someone about it. She’d come over and asked if Deanna would spare a few minutes… they talked for three hours. Tasha described her dream, her feelings during and after, and what she believed certain aspects meant. Then she kept going.

It fascinated Deanna, and saddened her to come to know how evil people could be. But she also learned from her talk with her friend. Tasha had said that her hardest lesson was just to learn to ask for help. She’d had no problem telling others about her childhood, in fact she had admitted that at first she liked to talk about it in order to get sympathy from people. She had even learned to trust, over a slow period of time. But she could never show how it all made her felt, how she hurt. She couldn’t ask for the help to get over the pain, to show she had weaknesses. She had realized until she could ask for that help, could open up to someone, she was never going to be free.

That night Tasha asked Deanna for help. From then until her death one year later Tasha had rid herself of her nightmares, contacted her sister, and had even begun a serious relationship with a med-intern. She was doing so well when she was killed, it was so unfair.

Deanna knew what she must do to set things down the right path. She had to ask Will and the children for help. And Tasha was exactly right when she described it as the hardest thing to have to do. It scared Deanna, because it meant reliving what she had been subjected to again. She wanted to forget it ever happened, to pretend everything was alright. She didn’t want Will to see how weak she really was.

Deanna fell asleep on the couch plagued again by the nightmares of Aidris that hadn’t left her for seven years.


He was dreaming when he felt her. Her presence cut through the layers of sleep and roused him, aware she was there, but groggily processing what was happening. He sat up and rubbed his eyes, yawning, and glanced towards his bedroom door. She was standing just inside, watching him, torment haunting her eyes. That’s when it hit him that their bond had been reopened. The drugs must have finally left her system.

"Deanna?" he called out, wondering why she was here.

She went to speak, but closed her mouth again, emotion overwhelming her. He thought she was having a nervous breakdown and opened his arms to her, beckoning her towards him. She hesitated at first, but then leapt into his arms. She buried her face in his neck and started to cry.

Will stroked her back, trying to calm her. He knew sooner or later she would have to let it all out, and he was going to be there for her. He had made his choice.

After a while she stopped trembling and was silently crying. She tried to talk, but only choked up sobs came out.

"It’s alright, you don’t have to explain," he whispered, trying to help. It only renewed her tears. He just held her; unsure what is was that he said to upset her further.

Deanna got control of herself long enough to get out one sentence. "You didn’t upset me." Then she was overcome again, and it was harder this time for her to regain control. After several minutes she was only sniffling. And hiccupping. She hated it when she got so upset she was reduced to a fit of hiccups.

Will wanted to laugh. He loved it when she was so upset she was reduced to a fit of hiccups. He hated that she was so upset, but he loved the side effect, she was adorable to him like this. But he didn’t do or say anything, knowing how much she despised it. Soon she was silent and drying her eyes. The last time he had seen her this upset was the night before she shipped out. Within the limits of what she could reveal about her assignment she told him all her fears, her anger, and depression at having to leave them. That night she’d gotten the hiccups too, and he had kissed them away, sharing their last night together.

"When did the drugs wear off?"

She looked up at him and sighed. She could keep it from just about anyone, except him. "Yesterday. I’m surprised you didn’t realize it earlier."

"Women are always hard to read when they’re angry."

She laughed.

"And I can read you like a book when you’re vulnerable."

The statement turned the mood serious again. Wanting her to come around on her own, Will changed the subject.

"Why hasn’t Lila sensed you yet? She developed some mild empathic abilities about a year ago, and the two of you were always so close…"

Deanna smiled; she knew something Will didn’t.


"Oh she knows; she refuses to admit it though."

"Huh?" Will was confused. Wouldn’t Lila have told him? "But if she knows, then why?"

"Because she isn’t ready yet to confront the truth."

Will was silent as he tried to reason through it. Deanna smiled understandably. "She’s emotional Will, logic and reason do not necessarily fit in here. Lilandra’s seeing things differently right now. According to her, her mother was taken away a long time ago, forcing her to live with the loss and difficulty of growing up without me. Now I’ve returned, and it has turned her new way of dealing with life upside down. Before, I was dead. It was final and she had gotten on with her life. Learning I was still alive opened up the fact that her life could have been different, she COULD have grown up with her mother, that it had not been final after all. It’s hard having to deal with a ‘maybe’ then with a ‘never.’ For her it’s even more unfair than having to lose me for good."

Will shrugged, pretending he understood everything had just said. "Great, so she’s pouting. Why does that not surprise me."

Deanna looked up at him, eyebrow lifted. "Pouting? Will, it’s a bit more complicated than that."

Will put his fingers to her lips to quiet her. "I get it, sort of, and it’s giving me a headache. I learned long ago to pin every mood swing our daughter has to either pouting, or PMS. This system has worked wonderfully for me, so let’s not blow it. For all intents and purposes, she’s pouting."

Deanna looked into his eyes and saw him begging for her to accept his way of dealing with their daughter, and chuckled. "She’s pouting," Deanna conceded, mentally making a note to have a long woman to woman chat with her Angel as soon as she came back down to reality, and perhaps go over ways to handle her father so that Will’s unique perceptions of his little princess were never disillusioned.


Epilogue/Alternate Ending…1 yr. later

Dinner had been exquisite and the music, heavenly. All they wanted to do now was go back to their quarters to be alone. The night was supposed to be theirs; Andy was staying with his friends on the Holodeck, a camping experiment Will kept expecting to turn sour, and Lila, much to Will’s chagrin, was out with her new boyfriend. Will was still getting used to his little girl dating, but he was improving. He’d only ‘talked’ to this one twice.

So when they walked through the front door and into the living area, they were surprised to find the lights out.

"Lights," Will called out, confused. He distinctly remembered leaving the lights on.

"Dad!" he heard coming from the couch.

That’s when he realized the holo playing by the sofa. He walked over and was greeted by the face of his very aggravated daughter, whom was lying on the couch snuggled up in ‘what’s-his-names’ arms. His first reaction was to yell and throw the boy out, how dare he take advantage of his baby!

But Deanna stopped him with a hand to his arm, causing intelligence to sink in. She smiled and apologized, disarming the situation.

"Oh, sweetheart, we’re sorry. You said you two were going out tonight so we thought that we would be returning to empty quarters. We didn’t know you were here watching your new holo."

Will, having gotten hold of himself, agreed. "Sorry princess. So what are you two watching?" he asked, suddenly getting a wicked idea.

Lila became animated, "It’s the new Danuy movie, he’s on Renov IV and…"

"I think I saw this one, where he kills the gangs for the empress only to lose her to the Romulans she was secretly dealing with…"


"What?" Will asked innocently.

"Great dad, thanks a lot. You ruined the movie for us." She gestured exaggeratedly as she and her boyfriend stood up to leave.

"I only wanted to know what movie you were watching?" his eyes twinkled as he feigned innocence, "I was just… curious."

"Yeah, well, you ruined the ending. We hadn’t seen the movie yet, now there’s no point." She grabbed hold of her boyfriend’s arm, "Come on, let’s go see what the others are doing."

He mumbled an ‘ok’ and followed her out. She had him trained well. As soon as the door closed behind them Will started to laugh.

"Will Riker, that was just mean," Deanna laughed out.

"Maybe, but it worked didn’t it?" he asked, encircling her waist with his arms, drawing her close.

"It was still mean, clever, but mean. You know she’ll make you pay for it when she gets back," she said, putting her arms around him in return, happy to be in his arms. She stood on tip-toe and gave him a quick, fiery kiss.

"But so worth it," he mumbled out as he leaned down to extend the kiss she had started.

He’d had plans revolving around empty quarters, and he’d be damned if anything was going to spoil them.

The End.