The Prize (Subtitle: What If Barbara Cartland Wrote Imzadi Fic)

Hello, All. This is my little response to the Imzadi in Time
challenge. Please forgive my misspellings, incorrect facts and
punctuation, etc. This was written purely for fun.

Disclaimer. Paramount owns the characters. I love them. No profit
or disrespect intended.

Rated: G

Deanna Maria St Troi was asleep when it began to happen. The
afternoon sun had gone down, bringing the cool dusk and heavy fog.
As the ship rocked gently, shouts awakened her from her slumber. She
heard men scrambling and what must have been sounds of battle. Her
good sense told her to remain in her cabin, but her brave and curious
nature won out. She opened the door of her cabin to peep out into
the galley.

"What have we here?" a baritone voice boomed. Deanna looked up into
the hold's opening to see a man in black pants, boots, and a crimson
blouse smiling broadly with triumph. He looked like a man used to
getting what he wanted. Unusually fine teeth gleamed from a bearded
face. His eyes were so blue. Deanna and this stranger locked eyes
for long, liquid seconds before she broke the gaze and assumed an
aloof air.

"I am Deanna Maria St. Troi, 5th cousin removed from the Holy Monarch
of Spain. I demand to know who you are and what you are doing on my
ship." Her dark eyes shone against clear, porcelain skin. Her shiny
dark hair was braided and coiled around her head. Her gown was an
exquisite confection of lavender lace and velvet.

"Your ship? My Dear, I know this is a cargo ship from the King of
Spain. What kind of cargo are you?"

She held her head high though her knees began to shake under his
gaze. This man made her feel strange. "You did not tell me who you
are. Why should I answer your question?"

"My dear, I never want to disappoint a beautiful lady. My name is
Commander William Rikerson, gentleman, astronomer, and some say,
pirate." He grinned devilishly while his heart skipped a beat.
William Rikerson loved women. All women. But this one, in her gaze,
touched him as no one had before.

Deanna's dark eyes widened at his reply. This man was a rogue, but
he seemed to have charm. She sensed he meant her no harm. Her
mother called her intuitive. This would prove it.

Determined not to be daunted, Deanna again looked Pirate William in
the eye and responded "I am not cargo. I am a passenger. I am
journeying to England, where I am to be married." She said the last
part a little less confidently than the rest of her statement. "It
is my duty," she said flatly.

William could tell this was a strong woman who was bound by her sense
of duty. His mother was strong, and he loved her so. William could
not tell why, but he knew he was going to steal more than a kiss.

"There will be no wedding, if I can help it. Come, my Lady-you are
coming with me. Call it a rescue or call it a kidnap. Hah! This
will teach them to fear the crew of the Prize." William smiled and
leapt down into the hold by Deanna. Without losing a moment he
easily picked her up and swung her over his shoulder. Then he
escaped the plundered ship to the great vessel – the "Prize"

Deanna felt like she was watching herself. She knew she could have
struggled, but she really did not want to. She still felt a sense of
trust for William and a strange, excited hope for the future.

William took Deanna to the nearby Prize and soon the Pirate ship
disappeared into the fog. Deanna's marriage (or funeral, as she
called it) barge was short a few provisions and a few papers, but no
one was hurt. That did not mean the Spanish crew wasn't scared out
of their wits! The legend of the Prize grew with the "ransacking" of
the Spanish vessel and kidnapping of the King's 5th cousin.

William locked Deanna into what he impishly called the guest
quarters. It was a small, dank cabin. Deanna began to wonder if she
should have resisted her removal from the old ship. William told her
he would be back soon and then he finally stole the kiss he had
intended all along. The kiss was quick but magical. Deanna was
never kissed by a man before. That strange feeling came back and she
felt lightheaded. William too, was moved. This woman had already
gotten under his skin.

With a gentleness that surprised Deanna, Will kissed her on the
forehead and told her not to worry. "I'll be back soon to look after
you, Princess." He bowed and dashed out of the room before Deanna
could react. All she could do was sit and ponder about the kiss.

Rikerson's next visit was not as pleasant. He had to answer to his
Captain. William took a deep breath and knocked on the oak door.

"Come in," said quiet yet authoritative voice.

"What were your orders, Commander?" asked the Captain.

Will stood up straight, with a military (not pirate like) posture and
answered "to infiltrate the Spanish ship, find the papers proving
treasonous activity, scare the crew, and make it look like piracy."

Captain Jean-Luc Picard sighed. "Commander, you did your job too
well. I did not intend for you to take a captive. What in the world
possessed you to do that?" The Captain knew about Rikerson's
romantic escapades, but he never let it interfere with his duty

"Permission to speak freely sir."


"Sir. I obtained the papers you requested. I read that a young
lady, Deanna Maria St. Troi, was being sent to Lord Wyatt Miller as a
bride to seal the alliance between Lord Miller and the 2nd cousin of
the King of Spain. My actions would interfere with those plans.
Besides, sir, she was miserable."

Picard looked as if he might be convinced until William uttered that
last part. Captain Picard raised an eyebrow.

"I know it's strange, sir, but I just have this feeling. She will be
good for our cause, and this is what is best for her. She did not
resist coming, she was so unhappy with her fate. I will swear an
oath right now that no harm shall come to her while she is under my
protection. Sir."

Picard thought silently, with a grave look on his face. He trusted
his commander implicitly, and Rikerson's hunches had never mislead
the Crew of the Enterprise, or "Prize", as it was known in the waters.

"Your promise is good enough for me, William. Make it perfectly
clear to the crew that Senorita St. Troi is our honored guest. And
William-since you invited her, for God's sake give her your cabin.
Don't make her stay in the hold."

William smiled sheepishly but his heart sighed with relief. Life
could be so good!

Commander Rikerson enlisted the help of the bear-man Worf to convey
his sincerity to the crew that Senorita St. Troi was to be treated
like a lady. Worf could be a tough, brutal man, but he had a strong
sense of honor. To harm a guest would be dishonorable.

Before William could return his guest, Deanna had another visitor,
Doc. Doc had heard about their guest and was anxious to see if she
were well. Doc was a slender man, almost a boy, with red hair
peeping from a cap. Doc served that the ship's cook, doctor, and
confidant to the captain. Out of respect to the captain, the crew
never voiced their concerns about Doc's strangeness. Besides, Doc's
handiwork was some of the best medical care some of these men had
ever received. He made sure they ate their limes and even managed to
make decent food.

Deanna was surprised at her visitor but she felt like she could trust
this person, too. She began to doubt her intuition if it told her to
trust everyone. This was far different from how she felt at home.
Her cousins closer to the king did not feel trustworthy. Doc was
different. Doc was gentle. Doc opened the door to the hold and
cursed at its darkness.

"I can't believe he left you in here. Folks call me "Doc." Are you
all right? Have you been hurt?"

"Yes, Doc, thank you. Apart from a rough ride slung over Commander
Rikerson's shoulder, I am fine." Doc looked her over, looking for
bruises or other signs of trauma. Finding none, she turned her mind
to more practical matters. "My dear, we have to get you more
appropriate clothing. This will not do! " Deanna was still her fine,
heavy, damp dress. "We need to get you something woolen so you won't
catch your death of cold."

Deanna smiled gratefully. She was getting a little
uncomfortable. "Do you think I might get some… trousers?" How
Deanna longed to try them, and to be free of corsets and hoops and

Doc let out an almost feminine belly laugh and said "of course. Very
practical! I'll take care of it."

Not long after Doc left William returned to Deanna. "Come,
Princess. Let's take you to a nicer guest room." Deanna wrinkled
her nose at being called "Princess." William saw that it annoyed
Deanna, which made it more fun! "I saw Doc. She will get you some
more sea-worthy clothing. I may have something good for your private

William led Deanna to his quarters. He offered her his arm and she
graciously took it. Crewmembers stood respectfully aside but their
gazes lingered. How intoxicating it was to see a beautiful woman.
Deanna was unconscious of their sighs and glances. She did not seem
to be aware of her own beauty.

Commander Rikerson's quarters were a vast improvement over her former
cell. There was a window, a bed, desk, with a sense of confident
masculinity. William opened a chest and found some lacy garments
and, wonder of wonders, a hairbrush. "These, err, belong to some

At that moment Deanna did not care about whom they belonged to. She
was longing to let down her hair and get out of this horrid, damp

"Good night, Princess. Doc will bring you some food and clothing.
I imagine you're tired. The captain wants to meet you in the
morning. William bowed and kissed her hand, and too suddenly, he
left. This was not what she expected, and she was a little
disappointed. She had wanted the Commander to kiss her again. Her
cheeks blushed at the though.

William closed the door and then leaned against it and sighed. He
felt so happy yet so despondent. Why did this have to happen to him
now? He loved many people. He just never planned to fall in love,
especially so quickly and hopelessly. He would never be the same man
again. Slowly, he turned to leave for the kitchen. Doc had spared
him the crew's quarters by offering to set him up a palate in what he
called her "sick bay."

The next day, Deanna awoke to the sound of a bell ringing. She had
slept soundly, more soundly than she had since she began her voyage.
She was comforted by the faint smell of William in the cabin. She
could stay here, she thought, for the rest of her life and be very
happy. Ahh. Doc had left her some water. She washed her face,
sponged her body, dressed, and then set about trying to fix her
hair. She had to admit he missed her maid right now.

Too soon she heard a knock on the door. "Good morning, Princess.
Time for breakfast. The captain wants to have some tea with you."

"Will- I might need some time. I'm having a little trouble."

"With what?"

"With my hair!" Deanna said, exasperated.

"Then let me help you."


"Yes. When I was little, I would give girls sweets if they let me
braid their hair. They were so beautiful."

"Who?" Deanna asked jealously?

"All of them."

By now Deanna was so frustrated she could not resist Will's offer to
help. Will gently brushed her hair and plaited it. Then he tied the
end with a ribbon. "Your hair is beautiful, Deanna, like you."
Deanna blushed.

"Wear it down, Deanna. It will be more comfortable. And...We won't
mistake you for a man in those trousers" William said evilly. Deanna
wrinkled her nose again but she had to admit, she was much more
comfortable this way.

"Come. My Princess." Again, Will offered his arm, and again, Deanna
took it. He placed his other hand over her hand and she did not
remove it. It was so delicious to feel his touch on her hand.

Captain Picard was all charm as William escorted Deanna into the
office. He made his assurances, like Will, that she was an honored
guest. He asked what he might do to make the voyage more
comfortable. Deanna answered that she wanted to be able to go out on
deck and enjoy the sea. She also asked if she might, if it was not
too much trouble, borrow a book. These sensible and simple requests
pleased the captain. He liked Deanna, and now he too, hoped to spare
her a marriage into that dreadful Miller clan.

In less than a week, it seemed, the crew grew to love Deanna. One
time, when she was sitting and reading, she heard an altercation
start between crewmembers. Without pause, she gently went to them
and talked to them. Her gentle approach and sensible words diffused
the situation, and peace was restored. Deanna felt very good about
being useful in that little way. She loved being aboard the Prize
and soon began to realize that this was no ordinary pirate ship. Oh,
she had heard of the Prize, but the facts belied the legends.

After her mediation between the belligerent crewmembers, the crew
came to her for her compassion, advice, and her ability to listen.
They began to call her "Miss Counselor" out of their love and respect
for her. Deanna loved being useful and helpful. She began to help
Doc in her sickbay, since it seemed her mere presence brought comfort
to people. "If only it could be this way forever" she said to

Her happiness was due in no small part to the time she was spending
with Commander Rikerson. They spent time talking, laughing, playing
cards, and enjoying each other's company. He shared his love of the
stars with her, and she confided in him about her suspicions about
some of her family and her current happiness.

Finally, William could take it no longer. He was hopelessly in love
and there was no way that he was going to let Deanna marry Wyatt
Miller. The answer dawned on him suddenly and he cursed himself for
not thinking of it sooner. First he had to talk to the Captain and

Will found the Captain and Doc in the Captain's cabin. Doc had taken
off the cap and let her long red hair down. William explained his
plan and the captain scratched his chin while Doctor Beverly nodded
her approval. "Will- this will be a lot of information for her to
absorb at one time."

"Captain, she suspects a lot of what we know. And I think she feels
the way I do. My only concern is that even if she agrees, you may
never get her off this ship."

"Then I am definitely all for it," Doctor Beverly grinned.

That evening, when Commander Rikerson made his daily visit to his
Princess, he hesitated a moment before knocking. `Come in" said his
beloved's soft contralto voice.

Deanna sensed that tonight was going to be important. She also knew
she could wait no longer and had to make her feelings clear to the
Commander, pirate or not. She tried to dress for the occasion of
expressing her feelings. With Doc's help, she had freshened her
dress and washed her hair. She left her hair down and pinched her
cheeks to give them some color. And then, when William entered the
cabin, she smiled.

William returned the smile and they locked gazes much as they did
when they first met. Not for the first or second time, reality
stopped for them as they became absorbed in one another's eyes. This
felt so right for the both of them.

"Deanna, I have something to tell you."

"What? Not Princess?" Deanna's eyes lost some of their sparkle at
that thought, but she pressed on. She slowly walked to him, her
perfume (from Doc) and her allure beginning to arouse the Commander.
She walked right up to him and William could do nothing but to take
her face in his hands kiss her. Deanna sighed with relief and boldly
wrapped her arms around him. William forgot his reason for talking
and they lost themselves in that savagely tender kiss. When they
finally parted, Will mustered some composure, kissed Deanna's
forehead, and led her to a chair. He sat down next to her and looked
her in the eyes again, this time with purpose.

"Deanna, my Dear. Please let me finish. Then, if you will still
allow me to, I will take you in my arms and never let go."

He did love her! She was not sure before because she feared her
intuition was hindered by wishful thinking. She was both scared and

"William. Unless you are already married, nothing could make me
leave you."

William Rikerson smiled at this and wanted to stand up and swing
Deanna around for sheer joy. His sense of duty restrained him a
little bit longer so he could tell her about his real mission the day
he stole her away.

William explained that the Prize was really the French ship
L'Enterprise. Its Captain was a French national. He, William
Rikerson, was British. Chief O'Brian was Irish. Other crewmembers
came from other nations and city-states. L'Enterprise was a secret
joint effort by nobleman of each of the representative lands to avoid
unnecessary civil strife among their nations. He explained that they
helped to balance the powers among the empires and nations.

Their reputation as Pirates helped to conceal the real mission of
L'Enterprise senior crew. He explained that they had been contacted
by a Spanish national about a marriage that was to seal a pact
between the English Wyatts and the 2nd House of the Spanish throne
that planned to overthrow the Spanish King. The warning had come
from none other than Deanna's late father. The Enterprise operatives
found the evidence when they raided the Deanna's ship.

"When I met you, in that single moment, I knew I could not let you go
into Miller's clutches. With you being so unhappy and the threat of
the situation, I did the only thing I could."

"How did you know I was unhappy?"

"I just knew. Like I know now that there is one sure way to stop
your marriage to Miller."


Will bent down on his knee in front of Deanna. "Marry me."

Deanna smiled and began to cry. This was far more than she

"Aww, Princess. Please don't cry. I did not mean to upset you."

"These are tears of joy, William. Now take me into your arms and
never let go."

Will took Deanna into his arms and kissed her again and again.
Eventually, they finished their conversation. "What about the King?"
Deanna asked.

"We were hoping you would help us to contact him. It is known that
he is fond of you. That is another reason why the 2nd House wanted
you to be delivered to Miller" William responded.

"Hmmm. One of his ministers was my Father's best friend. Do you
know of Chancellor X'erxx?"

"Yes. He is a good man and not involved with this plot."

"He will help us."

William kissed Deanna once again and Deanna wanted to
continue. "Will, what's wrong?"

"Nothing is wrong, Princess. The Captain is expecting us. You said
you would marry me."

Two weeks later

After notifying the King of the plot and putting and end to the
treasonous plans, Deanna Maria St. Troi Rikerson finally confronted
her mother. Since she and her husband had the quiet gratitude of the
King, she did not fear any words from her mother.

However, to her surprise, Deanna's mother embraced both her and her
new husband. Deanna was confused and Commander Rikerson just
smiled. God, he loved women! Especially his Princess. Deanna and
her mother would keep his hands full until he and Deanna eventually
had their own children. He just grinned again and squeezed Deanna's
hand that was resting in the crook of his arm.

"Little One. Don't be angry. I knew that good would come from your
trip. Remember-you get your intuition from MY side of the family."