~I will award custody of these characters to Paramount, Viacom, and Rick
Bergman. But I will award the genius behind the star trek universe, and
these awesome characters, only to Gene Roddenberry, and the talented actors
that portray them~~

((Acting Captain's Log: After dropping Captain Picard on Earth for a much
needed shore leave, the enterprise has been called to the Banaron system to
investigate a distress call from an unknown vessel. Though the system
contains three class M planets, all three are only in the early stages of
the evolutionary process. Due to the primitive life forms on the planets the
federation had agreed to keep space travel through the system to a

"Captain, we are in visual range of the craft." Mister Data's alert flowed
through the ready room.

"I'm on my way" Captain Will Riker returned the unnecessary response and
headed to the bridge.

"On screen." He ordered, before the ready room doors had swished shut behind
him. The screen lit up with the familiar image of stars, and the distant
flickering of the unknown.

"Magnify" Moving closer to the screen, Will watched the small object take
shape and come into view. It was certainly like no ship they had ever
encountered before. It was extremely large, and completely dwarfed the
enterprise, it's shape was more oblong then round, large, eagle like wings
extended from the center of the almost iridescent blue hull.

"The ship does not match any ship configurations on starfleet records." Will
turned to the perplexed expression of Commander Data, before moving his eyes
to rest on the Klingon.

Worf studied his readouts before answering his captains unspoken question.

"She appears to be adrift Sir."

"Hail it, Mister Worf." Will spouted the order, moving his eyes to Counselor
Troi, who he knew was already attempting to find the answer to what would be
his next question. He moved a little closer to her chair, not wanting to
rush her, but hoping to motivate her to move a little faster. He knew it
wouldn't help, it never helped, and yet he always found himself pushing her,
perhaps a little harder then he had to. Her dark eyes flew open almost
simultaneously with Mister Worf's announcement.

"They are responding Sir." Will held Deanna's eyes for a moment, tilting his
head slightly in concern. "Is there something wrong counselor?" The
intensity in her eyes seemed to moderate with his gentle question.

"No Sir. I'm sure it was nothing."

Why didn't he buy that? He knew she would never lie, or endanger the ship in
anyway, but the initial look in her eyes promised much more then nothing.

"Sir?" Worf's insistent reminder causing him to pull his gaze to the view
screen. If it had been something dire she would have alerted him, but he
made a mental note to pursue the issue later.

"Very well Mister Worf." An extremely muffled image filled the view screen
on Will's command, Will moving closer to it before speaking.

"I am acting captain William Riker of the federation starship enterprise.
How may we assist you?" Will scanned the distorted image on the screen,
whoever, or whatever was answering the hail completely shrouded beneath a
thick black mask.

"I am Commodore Dystrm of Baloria, We were beginning to think no one would
answer our distress call. We've been adrift for over a week. There are only
ten of us, but we'd appreciate any assistance you could offer."

On a ship as Mammoth as the one in front of them, Will found it odd that a
compliment of ten was all it maintained. But the voice seemed tranquil
enough, and it was quite apparent by the readings he had been sneaking peeks
at, these Bolirians posed no threat. He felt an overwhelming compulsion to
turn to Counselor Troi, following his instincts, he was relieved to see her
issue him a composed smile.

Returning his attentions to the masked image on the screen, he offered his
support. "I'm sure our chief engineer can offer assistance restoring you
inertial power couplings. But our readings are also showing fluctuations in
life support. Are you in any danger?" Will's question answered only by the
view screen fading to black. Worf's booming warning, combined with the
familiar sound behind him moved over his spine like the blade of a knife.
Spinning around towards the sound, he caught only the final glimmer of
Counselor Troi being pulled away by the unknown transport beam..

"Where the hell is she?!" His piercing glare meeting with the yellow eyes of
the android.

"It appears she has been beamed about the alien ship."

Will tapped his comm badge. "Transporter chief, can you get a lock on
Counselor Troi?" Will wiped the sweat that was forming over his brow. <Dam,
how could I be so careless!>

"Negative Sir. Whatever the ship is made of it is impenetrable by our

"Sir!" Will shifted his eyes to the Klingon, knowing whatever he was about
to share with him, was not going to help the thick wave of emotions that
were crashing over him..

"The ship is powering up!" Will moved to the view screen, wishing he could
somehow reach out and bring her back.

"Lock on Tractor beam! They're not going anywhere." He barked the order
without taking his eyes from the screen. A minimal amount of relief washed
over him as he watched the tractor beam take hold.

"Constant hail, Worf." Advancing even closer to the screen he watched the
hull flicker with shifting lights.

"Captain! They've initiated a self-destruct!" Will felt his heart swell, the
blood that rushed to his head making him dizzy.

"I need a way through that hull, Mister Fowley! NOW!" Will moved wildly from
station to station, he was sure if he stood still his entire persona would

"The ship will destroy us when she explodes!" Will narrowed his fiery eyes
at the android.

"I'm well aware of that! How much time?"

"If our ships sensors are correct, the ship will self-destruct in forty
three seconds."

Brushing his hands over his beard, he could feel the moisture of the sweat
that had formed on his hands.

"Mister Fowley?!"

"I'm sorry Sir....the ship configurations are complete unknowns." The
disheartening reply, sealing his decision.[1]

"Twenty four seconds Sir?!"

He could feel the eyes of his crew burning through him, waiting for his
unavoidable orders. Taking in a deep breath of air, trying with all that was
left of him to hold on to his command, he released his breath and the order.

"Disengage Tractor beam.....And take us to a safe distance." For some reason
as the order left his mouth he had a nagging feeling it would be his last.
Moving towards the captain's chair he'd coveted for so long, he ignored the
innocent warning of the young officer at ops.

"But counselor troi?"

Sitting down, he found he was unable to meet the ensigns eyes. After all,
isn't this what being a captain is all about, the ability to make the big
decisions. Even if that decision could change your entire life....forever.

The explosion that rocked the ship as it fled the scene, was nothing
compared to the one that had just detonated in his heart.

Chapter 2


He hadn't changed positions since the rock of the explosion had hit the
ship. He sat rigidly in his chair, eyes set on the view screen, arms
gripping the sides, face set in stone. He was sure someone had driven metal
spikes through the sides of his head and he wondered which would force him
to collapse first, the permeating pain to his head, or the thick tide of
nausea that lapped over his body. Yet on the outside Will Riker appeared to
all as a man in complete control... On the inside, a tiny boy laid crying in
his bed, covers pulled tightly around his neck, calling for anyone to come
and chase the monsters away, knowing no one would come.

And just as it had when he was a child, the compounded fear threatened to
spill over into the facade he had created for himself. <Be a man, Will.> the
words sounded through his mind. < Only weak men permit others to see their
tears, and certainly not starfleet captains.> He swallowed hard, his fathers
words lashing over him, stinging just as much now, as they had then..

Looking around at the solemn faces of his crew, it seemed they'd all been
trained in the same philosophy. The air was thick with grief, but not a tear
was being shed...and with an air of cynicism, he wondered when and if their
starfleet schedules would allow them time at all.

"Captain.....Captain?" He moved his eyes to the android, almost an auto

"I believe it would be prudent to return to the sight for further study
before making our report to Starfleet."

"Make it so, Mister Data." Listening to the robotic response as it left his
mouth, he wondered if in fact he was that much different then the android by
his side.

The engagment of the impulse engines he normally considered a soothing
lullaby, now scrapped over his nerves like nails on a chalkboard.

"Sir!?" He again moved only on instinct, answering his tactical officer with
only a nod.

"There is no wreckage Sir. But sensors are picking high levels of auroa

Will disengaged the auto pilot he'd been running on, and did his best to get
to his feet.

"On screen!"

She seemed to be floating somewhere between sleep, and euphoria ....she
slipped her hand under the cool cotton of the pillow that cushioned her
head, and breathed in the familiar scent. His scent. She allowed it to drift
over her, wrapping her in the blanket of security it offered. Pulling the
pillow closer to her chest, a haunting reality seeped through the thin sheet
that covered her. Her eyes fluttered open at the jolting realization ....he
shouldn't be here, the familiar she had just swaddled herself in, only a
distant memory.

Blinking her eyes she tried to break through the cloud of sleep that still
hung heavily over her mind. Her surroundings were totally alien to her, and
yet an essence of familiarity seemed to pervade the room.

Swinging her feet over the side of the bed, she rested them on the pale
lavender carpet. The artwork that hung on the walls, combined with the
assortment of delicate knickknacks that were placed perfectly through out,
all held the same vague resemblance to something familiar. Pushing a strand
of hair from her eyes, she tried to center her thoughts, focus on the
memories that seemed just out of reach.

The enterprise, I'm on the enterprise....she thought. The distinct feeling
of the warp engines vibrated gently under her feet, yet even in that almost
mundane feeling, there seemed to be a minute difference in the sensation.
And then she remembered the potent, unmistakable feeling of Will's intense
panic, and the transport beam encircling her.

She had felt no reason to fear until this point, nothing that surrounded her
now offered her any kind of threat, quite the opposite, she felt safe. But
Will's distinct fear played in repetition through her mind.

There was another feeling in this room, the same one she had felt on the
bridge when they had first encountered the alien ship. That feeling had also
carried to her from Will.... an inordinate desperation, and a complete
commitment. The feeling had made no sense to her then, and had vanished as
quickly as it had come. And when she had opened her eyes to confront him
with the feeling he had stood over her chair, his eyes, and his feelings
offering only genuine concern for what he knew was troubling her. But now it
was back, and much stronger, and it pulled relentlessly on her heart.

Releasing a breath of frustration she looked to the door, this game of
twenty questions her mind seemed to have trapped her in, could be won very

Pushing herself up from the soft bed, she headed towards the door, stopping
at the small glass table that held a vase of flowers. The flowers so much
like the Machutu flowers that grew in her mother's garden, and yet the
petals, and the aroma slightly modified. Running her fingers over the shiny
petals, the feeling seized her before the door slid open.

"Who are you?" She asked the question of the figure that stood in the
doorway. He was shrouded with the same thick black mask as the alien on the
view screen of the enterprise.

"Who are you?" she asked again, but a small inkling in the depths of her
heart had already answered her question.

"Will?" The clocked figure moved closer to her, the doors swishing closed
behind him. She knew he was watching her behind his dark mask, his emotions
rushing over her with such intensity, she steadied herself on the small
table. Extreme[1] satisfaction, joy, amazement, desperation, but mostly the
deepest sadness she had ever felt washed over her, threatening her own

Her breath caught in her throat as the figure dropped the mask that shrouded
him. The all too familiar face searched hers with eyes overflowing with love
and adoration, and the most complex despondency.[1]

"I'm sorry if I frightened you." His voice retained only a trace of the
sparkle that should have have dotted it.

She shook her head, unable to form the words to express her feelings. She
was sure of his identity, but this Will Riker showed signs of age, his face
weathered with worry, sprinkles of gray, peppered through his beard, and the
pips on his slightly altered uniform, only those of Lieutenant commander.

"I need your help." She could sense his impatience with her, she moved her
eyes away from his, and attempted to construct her thoughts, and close out

And then she saw it, the small holo that stood behind the vase of flowers,
and then she understood. With a slightly unsteady hand she picked up the
image, and looked at the family. She, and Will, and a little girl all
wrapped tightly in a hug, the happiness on their faces so infecting she felt
her own lips curving into the same smile.

She felt his eyes moving over her, his memories brushing softly over her
mind. Swallowing all her questions but one, she turned to face him.

"How, how can I help you save her?"


Chapter 3


Riker looked out the view screen into the blackness of space, the three
bight stars that made up what starfleet had dubbed the Achilles triangle
seemed to be laughing at his ignorance.

How could a ship the size of the one they had just encountered, blow up, and
leave no evidence of it's destruction. Propping his foot on the console
beside the con, he narrowed his eyes, sending a challenging sneer to the
space outside.

"Mister Data, source of the auroa emissions." He asked the question without
turning to face the android.

There was only a momentary lull before the acting first officer responded.
"They appear to be emanating from the center of the triangle. Origin
unknown. And our sensors are still not picking up any organic, or inorganic
debris from the explosion."

Will turned to the young ensign. "Take her in closer to the triangle, launch
a probe into the center." And almost as an after thought he added. "Keep
your distance from the right heel of the triangle." He knew it was probably
an unnecessary warning, but he had had enough excitement for the day,
getting trapped in the unstable pull of the star was not in his agenda.

Moving closer to the view screen, he watched the probe disappear into the
darkness. The twisting in his gut came simultaneously with his first
officers words.

"The auroa emissions seem to intensify at the center of the triangle. It
appears to have created a localized rift in the time space continuum." Will
snapped his head around to focus his eyes on the android.

"How Data? Auroa emissions have never been known to cause a temporal

"That is true Sir. But I believe the positive auroa emissions are playing
off the negative gamma rays from the is my theory that the
immense force of the two conflicting elements have created the disturbance."
Will held Data's eyes, he knew there was more that the android had to offer.

"I also believe the auroa emissions are being sent deliberately."

Will walked closer to Data, viewing the readouts on the screen. What Data
was saying was true, someone had deliberately opened this gateway....In` an
element as infinite as time and space being able to lock onto a single
source should be impossible, but it was right in` front of him. Somewhere in
time, someone had intentionally opened this window, now all he had to do was
find out why.

"How stable is the void Data?" Data seemed to be sizing up his captain,
searching his face for evidence of what he was suggesting. And in almost
human like shock he seemed to understand.

"That would be highly unwise Sir, the fluctuations in the gamma rays could
close the void at any time. And we cannot be certain Counselor Troi was in
fact taken through the gateway." Tilting his head slightly he added. "Though
there appears to be no evidence of an explosion is viable that perhaps
it was only a device used to trick us into believing the counselor had been
killed." Will watched as Data pondered his own theory. But his sense of
urgency was snowballing and he had little time to listen to anymore
suppositions from his number one.

"I'm taking a shuttle through the window." He was half way up the ramp
before the announcement left his mouth.

"As first officer it is my duty..." Will cut him off, God, how well did he
know this argument.

"Objection noted, mister Data. I need you to stay here and figure out a way
to keep that window from closing." The turbo lift doors swished shut before
the orders had finished leaving his lips.

Data sent a perplexed look to the klingon at tactical. "I believe Captain
Riker is making an impetuous decision."

Worf snarled a response. "Perhaps Data. But for Captain Riker, I do not
believe there was another one."

She was very aware of the guilt he was feeling by his inability to stop the
flood of emotions he was sending her. Taking his hand gently in hers she
felt him tense, and immediately relax with her touch. Leading him to the
small sofa she sat down next to him, and repeated her question.

"How can I help you?" Both of his trembling hands held hers now, and she
could see him battling tears to form words.

"Have you heard of Materia disease?" The few words he spoke, shook from his

"Of course. It's a very rare disease that affects Betazoid females. The only
cure is a direct blood transfusion from mother to daughter."

Will nodded, still struggling to speak, Deanna intervened.

"Is that what's wrong with your Deanna? I don't understand, how can I help

Will pulled one hand away, and cradled it softly against her cheek.

"I don't have a Deanna anymore." Deanna swallowed hard, resting her cheek
against the warmth of his hand.

"I'm so sorry." Her own voice quivered, sympathy not the only emotion she
felt as she faced her own mortality, and the heart wrenching effect it was
having on this man.

Will's composure was slipping fast, but through his sobs he explained that
his daughter Jalaura would not make it through the night without the

"Please...She's all I have left. If I lose her too...." His words were lost
in his tears, the wealth of grief he was feeling strangling her heart.
Pulling his face gently to meet with hers she answered his request.

"Of course I'll help you. " Looking into his eyes, the love that shown in
them was so familiar, one she hadn't seen for so long, and one she missed
more then anything in her own Will Riker.

Blowing out a long breath of air he steadied his emotions, regaining an
element of composure.

"We have to get to sickbay....I wasn't suppose to bring you to
consciousness. But I couldn't do this without asking you." Walking to the
other side of the room, he retrieved a hypo spray from the table. She nodded
understandingly, somehow all that mattered to her right now was saving this
little girl, and giving this man at least a piece of his life back.

The door chimes sounded through the room, Will lunging for the doors before
they swished opened.

He blocked her view of whoever was outside the door, but the unmistakable
voice stroked over her soul. She could hear them arguing, but somehow that
didn't matter.....she felt her body start to shiver, her tears burn hot on
her cheeks. With unsteady steps she moved closer to the voice, the voice
that had enveloped her in comfort, shielded her from her fears, and had been
a part of all that she was. Moving slowly around Will, her breath halted in
her throat, the word she thought she'd never hear herself say again slipping
from her trembling lips.



Chapter 4

Staring out the view port of his shuttle he questioned his judgment and his
sanity on this decision he had just made. The colored emissions wove
together to form a spider web of lights, moving closer to the source, he
hoped he would not become the helpless fly in this web of the unknown.
Amplifying the shields, and rerouting power to the stabilizers he wondered
if this had been any other member of his crew would he be taking the same
risk. He was sure he had locked his feelings for Deanna deep inside him,
where he had hoped to keep them until they both found the right time to
further their relationship. But right now, the fail-safe lock he had
instituted seemed to be breaking way, the dormant emotions spreading their
wings and taking flight over his heart. Sending one last look to the
enterprise that hung in the space behind him, he admitted to himself that
this decision was way out of line, but one he could not justify giving up

The center of the vortex loomed directly in front of him, pointing the
shuttle for the exact center he prepared himself for the unknown. The lights
in the cockpit sputtered, the cabin pressure intensified, and with an
incredible force Riker was thrown from his seat, and pinned helplessly
against the back of the shuttle. The force was tremendous, he found it hard
to pull air into his lungs his chest so tightly constricted by the speed of
the tiny ship. His body teetered in and out of consciousness, he appreciated
the relief of the unconscious moments, his head pinned so tightly against
the back wall, he was sure if the force increased he'd be pushed out through
the hull to drift in the blackness of space forever. And then as quickly as
it had `begun, the pressure halted, throwing him to the floor of the
shuttle. He sat for a moment, wiping the blood that trickled from a small
gash in his forehead, and waited for his world to stop spinning. Bracing
himself on the wall, he pulled himself up, feeling the bruises he was sure
covered his entire back. He was thankful, and amazed nothing seemed to be
broken, without ever standing fully upright he `fell into his chair and
looked in shock at the ship that hung outside his view port.

Captain Ian Troi turned towards the trembling word Deanna had just uttered,
Deanna stilling her instinct to run into his arms. She leaned into Will, to
steady herself, or to feel his support, she wasn't sure. The intense eyes
that stared back at her held only a whisper of the man that had once been
her father, behind the gentle blue, echo's of pain and torture threatened to
silence any element of the man she had called daddy. Ian cupped his hand,
and raised it to her face, she closed her eyes and awaited the touch she had
not felt in so long. The slap of Will Rikers hand wrapping itself around
Ian's wrist, caused her eyes to fly open.

"Don't touch her!" The warning from Will was laced with venom. "Or do you
plan on killing her too!?"

Ian moved his eyes from Deanna to Will, snapping his hand from Rikers grasp.
He appeared unaffected by Will's admonishment as he spoke. "If you had the
ability to follow orders these uncomfortable circumstances would never have
arisen. But then, following orders has never been your strong suit, has it..

He held the appearance of a commanding persona, but Deanna could sense that
whatever Will Riker was insinuating with his remark, Ian Troi also believed
it, perhaps more so then Will. The two kept their eyes locked on each other,
neither willing to give way to the other, the tension and resentment that
hung between them so thick, she was sure she could reach out and touch it..
Pushing the two men's feeling as far away as she could under the
circumstances, she spoke.

"We should get to sickbay."

Will broke his eyes from Ian's, looking down at Deanna. "Yes we should." And
turning his eyes back to Captain Troi he continued. "If that's O.K. with
you, 'Sir'." Will slurred the word sir with the same cynicism as Ian had
with Will's rank of Lieutenant.

Ian only nodded, never moving his eyes back to meet with Deannas. Taking the
hand Will offered her, she followed him down the corridor, looking back over
her shoulder at Ian until they turned the corner.

Ian watched the two disappear down the corridor, as `they turned the corner
that took them out of his view a satisfied smile played at his lips. He was
sure he was doing the right thing, his mistake had taken his own daughter's
life, caused Lwaxana to leave him, left his granddaughter without a mother,
and destroyed a brilliant career for Will Riker.....Now he could make it up
to all of them....Give them all back that which he had taken away.

Reaching for his comm badge, he was interrupted by the incoming message.

"Sir, a shuttle has passed successfully through the void."

Something down in his gut told him exactly who the occupant of the unknown
shuttle would be, shaking his head, he regretted the decision he had to

"Destroy it, and discontinue auroa emissions. I `want that void closed."

He gave the order in hopes he had earned enough respect from his crew that
they would follow it without question. He knew it was only a matter of time
until the medical profile he had managed to hide caught up with him. Looking
at his trembling hands, he also knew his disease was beating him, but their
was no way he was going to die....Not until he was sure all those he loved
had their lives back.


Chapter 5

Will Riker had served on board the enterprise long enough to recognize the
ship that loomed outside his view port. He also knew the ship well enough to
know when she was powering up her weapons.

"Shit." Swearing under his breath he knew he had about thirty seconds to get
the hell off this shuttle before the enterprise, or this amazing replica
would raise it's shields to protect itself. Tapping his configurations into
the transport terminal, he ignored the intense pain he was still feeling.
After all, this was only a shot in the dark, there was a distinct
possibility where he was going, his pain would be relieved permanently.

Deanna walked in silence beside this Will Riker, she knew he appreciated her
lack of questions, but the eerie images that seemed to shroud Captain Troi
kept eating away at her.

"Will?" He ignored her, keeping his gaze in front of him, and picking up his
pace. Deanna had to break into a slow run to keep with his long strides, she
knew he was only trying to reach the doors of sickbay before she could ask
her question.

"What happened to your wife?"

He stopped only a few feet from the entrance to sickbay, and turned to face

"It doesn't concern you." It was an effort for him to keep the contempt from
his voice, the anger and hatred he felt for Captain Troi still hung like a
dark cloud around him.

Deanna stiffened, clenching her fists at her side, her own anger at this
situation reaching it's boiling point.

"You kidnapped me from my ship...Carried me across time, and space to save
YOUR daughter. You've pulled me into this war you seem to have waged on your
captain. And yet you expect me to follow blindly any requests you make of
me." Her voice was elevating more then she'd meant it to, taking a deep
breath she resumed her calm demeanor. "Something is very wrong with your
Captain Troi."

She sensed Will's emotional shift at her reference to Captain Troi. At first
he had been impatient, biting back an angry reply, but with her words about
Ian Troi, she knew she had touched on something he also suspected, but
couldn't prove.

"Thank God, your finally here." Deanna felt the gentle touch to her arm, and
recognized the voice instantly.

"Beverly." She turned as she spoke, Will's eyes remaining glued on her, she
knew he was more then interested in what she was about to say. But as she
met Doctor Crusher's gaze, she halted her warning to Will. The echoes that
had played behind her father's eyes, played even stronger behind Beverly's.
She did her best to return Beverly's smile, and hide the haunting feelings
that flowed over her from Will. Following Beverly through the doors of
sickbay, she knew she had failed to shield her concerns from this Will
Riker. Peering back over her shoulder, his eyes had narrowed into a look of
curiosity and concern, she sent him a silent warning before turning back to
Beverly voice.

"I know this must seem like a desperate measure to save one little girl, but
once we became aware of this dimensional gateway, we knew we had to try."
Deanna nodded understandingly to the doctor, but her eyes followed Will to
the young girl that laid on the bio bed. She was grateful at least they had
thought enough to keep her unconscious, she was sure seeing someone who
looked so much like her mother would cause extreme damage to the child.

"She's beautiful, Will." Will kept his eyes on Jalaura, stroking his hand
through her dark hair, he only nodded in agreement. Deanna watched them for
a moment, all Will previous feelings of anger, suspicion, grief, and
desperation melted away, leaving him with only one....Love. If their was one
thing in this convoluted place Deanna could be sure of, it was this little
girl was at the center of this man's universe, and he would do anything to
save her.

The turbolift doors slid open allowing Ian Troi access to his bridge. He
braced himself on the wall as the ship rocked slightly.

"What the hell was that?" Ian barked the question at his first officer. The
tall blond Commander relinquished the captain's chair, looking slightly
amiss by the Captain's question.

"The shuttle has been destroyed. Our close proximity impacted the ship more
then we had foreseen."

Ian nodded as he strode down the ramp, doing his best to mask the chaos he
was feeling from his bridge crew.

"Very good, Commander." Ian's insides churned in confusion.... <what the
hell were they talking about, I have no memory of giving that order.> He

"I'll be in my ready room." He offered distractedly, heading as quickly as
he could to the shelter of his ready room. The doors hissed shut behind him,
sliding down the wall to the floor, he buried his face in his hands, and
tried once again to capture lost memories.

Will Riker surmised he had transported somewhere on deck two, it wasn't what
he'd been shooting for, but he found it a far cry better then the center of
a bulk head door.

He patted his phaser, still questioning why the intruder alert had not been
sounded, or maybe it had, and it was a silent alarm.

<Don't get paranoid, Riker> He thought to himself, if there'd been an alarm
sounded he'd be surrounded by starfleet personal by now. <No, for some
reason this ship doesn't see me as an intruder.> He wasn't sure why that
bothered him, after all he should be thankful he had free access. ..but
instead he found it almost spooky. Or maybe it was his proximity to the
morgue, he'd never liked that place, he was sure he could feel cold air
seeping from the doors behind him.

Shuttering at the sensation, he looked at the doors. Why did those doors
always appear so ominous to him, they were the same as all the other doors
on this ship.... Perhaps it was because the only time he found himself in
front of them, was when he had lost someone under his command.

"So, what the hell am I doing now?" he asked himself, pushing the doors
aside and going inside.

He'd always prided himself on his gut instincts, and right now his gut was
screaming for him to check out the morgue.

He could see his breath as he entered the small room. "Ok, that's not
right." He told himself. He wasn't sure why, but he was deriving some sort
of comfort from the sound of his voice....he also remembered what Deanna had
told him about people who carry on conversations with themselves. Shrugging
his shoulders at the memory, he relented to the fact that perhaps he was
nuts. After all, if he were sane would he be checking the small cubicles for
the bodies inside. A ghost of a chill traced it's way up his spine, he'd
seen more then his share of dead bodies, but something inside him told him,
he couldn't prepare for what he was about to see. Taking a deep breath, he
tried to settle what he hated to admit was fear. Releasing the first
cubicle, and sliding the body out of it's cavern of solitude, his breath
locked in his chest.



Chapter 6

"Imzadi" The seldom used word spilled from his lips, his fingers brushing
softly over the cold lifeless body. Somehow he had always thought this would
be a more devastating feeling for him....somehow he'd thought if deanna had
ever died, something inside of him would die also. But it hadn't, this was
nothing like the feeling he had experienced on the bridge, then, his mind
had gone numb, his entire body had coursed with grief.

Looking closely at her interlaced fingers, the fog of confusion that had
settled on his mind, gave way to the understanding that this was not
Deanna....or at least not his Deanna. Two bands of gold graced one of the
fingers on her left hand, studying them closer, he recognized one.

"Poor son of a bitch." He offered the condolence to the man she had left
behind, the man who had offered her his mothers ring...the same ring he
himself had tucked away for that one day he was able to bypass his fears of
commitment. Obviously in this timeline, this Will Riker had overcome his
fears, and he didn't envy him the constant heartache he must be feeling now.
Pushing the body back into its dark solitude, he wondered if he would ever
be able to go on knowing he would never feel Deanna's whispers of love and
support in his mind. Sealing the cubical, he admitted the thought was
incomprehensible .....Even in all the years they had spent apart, he had
derived comfort from the fact that she was alive, somewhere. More nights
then he would ever admit, he had used that thought to soothe himself to

Blowing out several breaths of air, he reached for the next cubical ....he
found his morbid curiosity a little troubling, but the gut instinct that had
pulled him in here had not abandoned him yet, and he knew himself well
enough to know it would not die until he found what he was looking for.

"What the...." He stopped before the slab had been pulled all the way out,
not willing to torture himself again. His eyes darted to the other six
cubicles, like a madman he released them all, staring not in remorse, but
astonishment. Eight lifeless bodies, eight heartbreaking images.

"Don't move!"

Will spun towards the voice, through the cold haze that hung in the room he
was sure he recognized the man that had him pinned with his phaser. He
raised his hands non threateningly, still trying to place the familiar face.

"You must be the most predictable man alive. It's getting a little old
finding you here, questioning your decisions, reflecting on your feelings."
The voice was calm, and in control, but laced with sarcastic disgust. Will
moved his eyes around the room, halfway expecting to see someone else,
though the voice was placid, it contained a hollow echo as though it were
being projected from somewhere else.

Riker shifted nervously, the voice was tranquil, but the man waved the
phaser erratically with more then a slightly trembling hand.

"Calm down" Riker offered, keeping his hands raised and palms exposed. He
had enough training to recognize a nut case when he saw one....

<The voice may be calm, too bad the voice isn't holding the phaser.> He
thought, flinching slightly at the burst of cold air released from the duct
above him. He heard the sound of the phaser discharge, before the laser
ricocheted off the walls of the morgue. Dropping to the floor, he pulled the
examination table in font of him and prayed this lunatic wouldn't fire
again. He had always known he was was not the type that would have his
prayers answered, before he knew it he was snared beneath the deadly
crossfire of the discharging phaser bursts.

Will Riker ran his hand over his beard thoughtfully watching Beverly
Crusher, and Deanna Troi. He couldn't quite put his finger on the feeling
that welled inside him, he centered himself on the thoughts, keeping his
eyes tightly fixed on the two women.

"This may hurt...This procedure has been outdated for hundreds of years."
Beverly's reassuring words did nothing to quiet Deanna's nerves. She had
never seen a needle used in medicine before, and certainly not one as big as
the one that laid menacingly on the metal table.

She looked to Will, hoping to offer him a optimistic smile, instead his mind
seemed somewhere else, his eyes looking past her with such intensity she
turned to see if someone was behind her. Beverly's hands gripping her
shoulders and lowering her down to recline on the biobed blocked her view of

"Now just relax."

Beverly's words to Deanna broke a small hole in the dam he had been using to
block his mounting apprehension ...what had started as only a vague memory,
intensified into a crash of pictures and recollections, slamming with such
force through his mind his head pounded with pain.

<She's gonna die, She's gonna die> The warning came from deep within him,
and with each repetition of the words, it grew louder, and more acute.
Moving away from the women, he edged closer to the wall, fighting his urgent
instinct to lunge for the phaser locker on the back wall.

"OK Deanna take a deep breath."

That was it, the last words Deanna would ever hear, he knew it as sure as he
knew he needed air to breath.

"Get away from her Deanna!" Riker released the phaser from it's compartment,
and shouted the warning, spinning quickly on his heals he aimed the phaser
at the doctor.

The determine look that flashed in his eyes was all the encouragement Deanna
needed to obey his command. Moving off the table she ran to him, not
understanding what he was doing, but believing it was right with all her

"Get away from both of them!" Deanna halted her movement towards Will,
instead drawn instinctively to the voice and the comforting wash of emotions
that accompanied it.


Chapter 7

Moving closer to her Will Riker she could smell the odor of the freshly
burned flesh that still smoldered on his shoulder.

"Your hurt" Will ignored her concerns, keeping his phaser aimed at the other
Will Riker, not Beverly Crusher.

"Will, it's all right, he's not the enemy."

Offering only a quick sideways glance to Deanna he responded. "Maybe not,
but he's the only one in this room worth worrying about."

"He just saved me from her!" Deanna pointed to the doctor, keeping her eyes
on Will, trying to understand what was going on behind his suspicious gaze.

"Computer discontinue Doctor Crusher." Will's command leaving his lips, the
doctor disintegrating into nothing.

"A hologram?"

"This whole damn ships a hologram Deanna. From what I've been able to
surmise there are only three life forms on this ship...You, me, and that
which brought us here."

"No....I know he is alive!" Will shrugged off her warning..."We have to get
out of here. Come on." He grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the door.

"Computer discontinue image of Riker." Deanna called the words over her
shoulder, her hand falling into empty air, the phaser falling to the floor.
She stood for a moment acclimating herself to what had just happened.....She
had been so sure the man holding her hand was Will Riker, everything down to
the 'emotions' that emanated from him were just as they should be. If he had
been a hologram, he was the most advanced she had ever encountered.

Turning back to lieutenant Riker, he appeared to be fighting his own battle.
"I remember everything." His words weren't directed at her, but the unknown
that seemed to be causing his intense pain.

Moving closer to him, he looked up at her with bloodshot eyes. "We gotta get
out of here." His tone was urgent, pushing himself up the wall he stumbled
to the sleeping Jalaura.

"What's going...." Her query silenced by the loud explosion, and the severe
rocking of the ship.

"Deanna!" Again she turned to the familiar voice, again Will Riker stood in
the doorway to sickbay. But this time she kept her distance, having had more
then enough confusing experiences for one day. "Computer end program!" She
hoped her command was the right one, the interior of the enterprise
vanishing, replaced by only shiny black metal.....Both Riker's remained, as
did Will's daughter.

"We got about five minutes to get the hell out of here!" Will Riker, her
Will Riker the man she was beginning to think she would never see again
called the warning and motioned for her to come to him.

The alien vessel rocked again, she fell forward, Will attempting to catch
her and stabilize himself as well. "Think I went a little overboard on the
explosives." His remark was punctuated by his notorious smile. Turning back
over her shoulder she made sure Jalaura, and lieutenant Riker were right
behind her. Will stopped short at the first jefferies tube. "You three go on
to shuttle bay five....I'll beam on board from here...I'm gonna flood this
little pocket universe so full of auroa emissions, it'll never get out

"What!?" Commander Riker left her question unanswered and headed towards his

"Let me do it!" Will turned towards the other Riker prepared to deny his
request, but meeting his eyes he changed his mind. The hurt of a thousand
life times played behind the familiar eyes, a hurt that could have been his
own if he hadn't been so damn lucky. Only nodding the approval, he watched
as this Will Riker tenderly kissed his little girl and slipped her into
Will's arms.

"On my mark, flick the switch, and use this to beam to the shuttle....We'll
have forty five seconds to get out." Riker handed him an armband and helped
Deanna into the jefferies tube. Lieutenant Riker watched until Jalaura
disappeared from view, swallowing past the lump in his throat he headed for

"You cannot fight the process!!!" The deep voice echoed through the shuttle
bay, Will pulling Deanna forward encouraging her to ignore the warning.

"Like hell I can't!" Riker shouted slamming his fist in his palm. "Get in"

"Who is that?"

"Now is not a good time to talk....Get in the shuttle and release the
doors." Will pushed her forward, looking continually upward. The alarm of
the door release echoed through the bay, Will closed the hatch behind them.
"Punch it Deanna!" The urgency in his voice moved her unquestioningly to the
controls, she fell back into him with the force of the speed. Will steadied
her, and took his seat. Watching the controls he tapped his comm
linc.."Now!" Again the shuttle was pushed forward, this time from the burst
of the auroa emissions. Will kept his eyes on the view port waiting for the
emissions to enter the triangle, Deanna stared only at the transporters.

"You can't go in! He hasn't beamed off the ship."

"He's not going to, Deanna." His tranquil acceptance of it, played against
Deanna's steep emotions. "But he'll die!"

He knew how upset she was, but the decision Lieutenant Riker had made was
one he fully understood. "He died a long time ago Deanna."

She hardly felt the impact of the alien vessel exploding, nor the immense
speed as they sped into the triangle, through misted eyes she stared only at
the sleeping child, her heartbreaking for her, and the daddy she would never

"Good old Data." Deanna's grief interrupted by Will's words....She had been
unconscious her first trip through the triangle, and was amazed to see the
distant image of the enterprise through the sparkling lights. The shuttle
shot out of the triangle, the speed warping them past the enterprise.

"Can't slow her down Data....I need midwarp transport now!" He felt Deanna's
hand gripping his arm, the shuttle pulling further from the ship. "He'll
come through." He wasn't sure who he was trying to convince himself, or her.
His optimism almost immediately reward by the familiar grip of the
enterprise transporter.

Materializing on board he surveyed Deanna, and Jalaura before tapping his

"Reroute all power to the forward shields Mister Data....I want those auroa
emissions bounced back into the void with as much force as we can give em!"

"Aye Sir." Data's response came simultaneously with the sound of the
transference of power. Will stood perfectly still ignoring the tricorder
Beverly was all ready scanning him with......The ship rocked, Riker
releasing the breath he'd been holding.

"The triangle has stabilized"

"Well done Mister Data?" He answered the android, pushing Doctor Crusher's
arm away. "We're fine doctor. Just take care of the child."

"She's all ready on her way to sickbay.....But your not invincible
Commander." He ignored her flashing blue eyes, instead turning to the large
dark ones that looked up at him.....For the first time in his life, he
didn't care about what the crew saw, he didn't care how it would look for a
captain, all he cared about was the beautiful betazoid beside him.

Looking into her eyes, eyes in the last twenty four hours he had seen in
death too many times, he appreciated the life that shown in them. "I'll
never stop loving you Deanna Troi." She held on to the moment, the sparkle
of love that radiated from his eyes, the words she had given up on hearing,
the warmth of his lips as they brushed so gently across hers. "

Neither will I" Putting her arms tightly around his waist, she rested her
head against his chest, appreciatively the familiar beating of his heart.
For an instant in time the world faded away, the sounds of the crew, the hum
of the ship, all fading to only the beating of their hearts.

"I hate to break up this touching moment." Their private world quickly
meshed with the real one at the sound of their Captains voice.

"Captain...what are you doing here?"

"Apparently your first officer was concerned when his captain left the
bridge to explore the unknown. It's funny, because my first officer insists
a captains place is ON the bridge. Interesting turn of events wouldn't you
say number one?" Will shifted on his feet, noticing the ghost of a smile
that played at the corners of his captains lip.

"Now that we've both learned there *are* times the ship's captain could and
should lead an away...would you mind telling me what the hell happened?"