Spookysgirl  spookysgirl@earthlink.net

~No rights, I have no rights to these characters or the star trek universe.
The ever watchful eye of Paramount owns it all.....I just think Will and
Deanna crave more satisfaction or they wouldn't keep running away to the
pages of fanfic~

"With all due respect Admiral, this is bullshit!" Captain William T Riker,
frazzled and more then a bit annoyed leaned forward on the Admiral's desk
meeting the subdued blue eyes of one who was once his captain. "You of all
people should understand I would never commit the act your suggesting!"

Admiral Picard leaned back in his chair, brushing his hand over his head
before answering Will's comment with an infuriating amount of calm. "Are you
denying that the enterprise fired on and subsequently destroyed a Betazoid
civilian shuttle?"

Riker slouched his shoulders, a heavy sigh of frustration escaping him, how
many times was he going to have to go over this?

"I can't explain how that happened Sir. You have to trust me, I've never
lied to you before." Rubbing his hands briskly over his beard, he knew he
was fighting an uphill battle, and he had no doubt what Admiral Picard's
response would be to his plea to believe him. Hell, he wouldn't even believe
him, if he hadn't been there.

"Your entire bridge crew has all ready sworn that it was you that gave the
order to fire....Are you suggesting some sort of elaborate mutiny?"

Yes, that exactly what he was suggesting, but he knew better then to go down
that road again....He'd been in this office for close to six hours, listened
to every testimony against him, his friends, all of them, had sworn under
oath that he had ordered the enterprise to Betazoid space, and that he had
initiated the attack on the shuttle.

"I don't have an explanation Sir, but if I might suggest a medical work up
on the crew."

The look of pity in the Admiral's eyes did nothing but heighten his anger
and frustration..

"I'm sorry Captain, but effective immediately you are relieved of command,
and will be stripped of your rank as captain. You will remain on earth until
a proper hearing can be held to decide your fate."

He stood rigidly in front of Picard, his humiliation and rage increasing as
Picard removed the pips from his collar, and the communicator from his

"Your dismissed."

"You mean I'm not being held in the brig.....Jean Luc?" He punctuated his
sarcastic remark by using Picards given name as if it were the most vile of

Picard seemed unaffected, not surprisingly, he had seemed pretty much
unaffected by the entire proceeding.

"I strongly suggest you leave on that note "mister" Riker." He gestured with
his head towards the door, shooing him away as if he were a pesky bug.

"You pompous son of a bitch." He held the Admiral's stare long enough for
his own disappointment in a man he had once respected to settle over the
room before turning abruptly and leaving.

Slipping into a booth in the first bar he came to, he silently commended
himself for holding on to his dignity as he had left Starfleet headquarters.
He had held his head high, and sequestered his instincts to vent his anger
on his shipmates, only nodding a brief acknowledgment to each one as he
moved passed them.

"What can I get you?" Without looking up at the voice that had spoken he
ordered a Mauvirian whiskey, straight up.

"Make it a double." He called after her, she never turned back to face him,
weather or not she heard his request, he guessed he'd find out when his
drink arrived. Didn't really matter he planed on escaping this hell he'd
been living for the last week, and drunk seemed the most logical and
quickest way to do it....if only temporarily.

Slouching back in his seat, he surveyed the bar, and tried to find an
explanation for this recent turn of events. None of it made sense to him,
right down to the fact that he was sitting in a bar having a drink when the
federation suspected him of deliberately instigating a war. Seemed like a
mother of a crime he was being accused of, a crime punishable by death even
by new federation policy.....and yet he was a free man, allowed to go out
and drown himself in his own confusion. Ordering another drink before the
waitress had even placed his first one on the table he decided maybe this
was a punishment worse then death......he had lost the respect of his crew,
been stripped of everything he had ever wanted....even Deanna had left him.
That had been over a year ago when he'd taken command of the enterprise, but
he figured as long as he was feeling sorry for himself he'd throw that into
the pile of shit he was calling a life.

The world started to become much clearer as he downed drink number three,
actually he had convinced himself at this point that the whole god damn
quadrant had gone mad and he was the only one that had any sense of reality

He returned a smile to the beautiful Spielian that sat at the bar, wondering
how many times he'd wished they weren't off limits. If he believed in
angels, he could have believed that the race calling themselves Spiel would
have been the mold used to create them. Behind the silken strands of gold
that lay against her fine features, her violet eyes literally shimmered with
sensual promises. But looking was all a human could to with a Spiel, their
delicate bodies would shatter if they entered into a physical relationship
with anyone but their own. He had never quite figured out his infatuation
with them, perhaps the forbidden fruit, but before he had met Deanna they
had been the soul subject of his private fantasies. A sigh of disappointment
escaped him, he downed the last of his drink in consolation for what he
would never know, moving his gaze to the man who sat beside her. Even behind
the hooded cloak the man wore and the blond hair that hung to his shoulders
he recognized the eyes that were peering back at him.

"Shit." He buried his face in his hands, hoping what, and who he saw was
only an illusion created by too many Maurivian whiskies. He kept his face
buried, shaking his head behind his hands....the footsteps grew louder, the
squeaking of the seat on the other side of the table told him his nightmare
had arrived.

"Ya know, I had just convinced myself my life couldn't possibly get any
worse." He lifted his head to meet the all too familiar eyes across from

"Yea, well, think again brother dear cause you ain't seen nothing yet."


Chapter 2


Will Riker leaned back in his seat, ignoring Tom's ominous warning, instead
focusing his somewhat distorted attentions on his brothers new appearance, "So
what's with the cloak and blonder look?" He chuckled at his own witticism, and
slouched further down in his seat.

Tom only rolled his eyes, pulling the half full glass of whiskey away from Will
and downing it himself.

"Ok, the first thing I need you do is sober up." Realizing Will was paying no
attention what so ever, he followed his gaze, looking over his shoulder at the
Spiel. "And ignore the Spiel."

Tom let his eyes linger a bit longer then he planed before turning back to face
his intoxicated double.

"Hey, your the responsible one, it would take a lot of pressure off of me if
you could act the part."

"Not anymore, or haven't you heard, I've screwed up my life big time." Will
stumbled on his words, his eyes, and lopsided smile still directed at the tiny
blond at the bar.

"I know, that's why I'm here." Will reluctantly turned his half open eyes to
Tom, straightening in his seat. "To gloat?"

"No, to say it's not you that's screwed up, it's the universe." On that note
Will slid back down in his chair, shaking his head.

"Come on Will, you must have noticed that people are acting strange?" Tom
clicked his empty glass against the table waiting impatiently for a response.

"I have....I have noticed that, and up until this minute I had decided I was
the only one left in the quadrant that hadn't lost their mind." His words were
slurred and the mindless grin on his face was only intensifying Tom's
impatience. "Then you believe me?"

"Nope.....Not if your saying you are sane also, I mean look at you..." He waved
his hand up and down in front of Tom's face. "You look like the Grim Reaper for
Christ sake, and the hair thing...what is that?"

"I'm in disguise you ass......If they knew I was here they'd try to tie my
hands just like they've tied yours."

Will straighten from his almost reclining position and leaned across the table
waiting for Tom to move closer to him. As soon as Tom's ear was beside his
mouth he pounded the last nail through Tom's patience, "The cock crows at
midnight." He smirked.

"That's it!" Tom used his close proximity to Will to grab his shirt, pushing
himself from his seat and pulling Will unceremoniously from his, and dragging
him through the door.

"Well, that wasn't very discreet 'agent Tom'." Will waved his finger in Tom's
face, shivering slightly in response to the frigid night air.

"Just breath deep, walk, and shut up." Tom warned, pulling him down the almost
deserted street. "I need you to climb out of this pool of pity your drowning
in, and I need you to do it now! I need your help......*We* need your help."

Will stopped short, "We? You mean there's someone else as sane as you and I?"
His sarcastic remark spiced with a subdued chuckle.

Tom gripped Will's upper arms, applying enough pressure that he knew it would
be uncomfortable for Will and either hold his attention or get himself punched
in the face. "Betazed is under Romulan and federation control....it's not a
pretty picture Will.....I kinda took it upon myself to liberate Deanna."

"Deanna!? ....Romulans?!......Yea, that sounds believable .....Tell me your not
a couple of photons short of a torpedo." Will pulled out of his grasp, Tom
stepping in front of him blocking his way. "You yourself said you thought the
quadrant had gone nuts."

"I know, and I plan on rethinking that theory as soon as thought becomes an
option again....Now get the hell out of my way, and play your spy games with
someone else......I've got real problems to deal with." He shoved his way past
him, Tom being capable of walking without swerving got in front of him quickly.
"Did you fire on the shuttle?"


"Then how do you explain it?"

"I can't..maybe a virus or something affected the crew."

"What about Picard....do you think his behavior was normal?"

Will pushed his hands deeply into his pockets, "Maybe...under the
circumstances.... after all my entire crew testified that I fired on the
shuttle..... provoking a war does have a way of ticking people off."

Tom raised his eyes to the sky, his frustration at trying to reason with this
drunken fool evident by the grimace on his face. "Tell me Riker, did they
question everyone that was on the bridge? How about the visiting Captain of the

Will's stomach twisted at Tom's observation, why hadn't he thought of it...with
all the bureaucratic bullshit he'd been through in the last week he had
completely forgotten Captain Data.

"Here's a bit more food for thought, Captain Data hasn't been seen or heard
from since your little adventure..... Who's short on photons now Riker?"

Will stood dumbfounded for endless seconds, fighting through the alcohol haze
that still hung heavy over his mind.

"Where's Deanna?"

"We'll be there soon......she's a little banged up Will, but she'll be OK."
Both Rikers picked up their pace, moving past the lighted streets into only the
moonlight that bathed the mountains that surrounded the city.

"Why is she banged up Tom?" Captain Riker's mind was clearing, the fog that had
blanketed his brain replaced by a steady throbbing in his temples and the
realization that he was about to see the woman he hadn't seen or heard from in
almost a year.

"I didn't just waltz in and escort her out Will....it was pretty hairy, seems
the entire quadrant has banned together to make sure the Betazoid race stays on
the planet and permanently out of touch with anyone else." Tom stopped there,
but Will was sure there was something more he wanted to say......Instead of
pushing for it, he decided crossing one bridge at a time would be his best bet
right now.

"Does she know I'm coming.....does she still hate me?"

The expression on Tom's face at Will's question was one of disbelief, speckled
with disappointment. "She accepted a job offer, you idiot....she didn't leave
because she hated you."

"That's what she said....but she couldn't have picked a worse time."

Tom stopped to meet Will head-on, "And why is that Will, because she wasn't
there to pat you on the back when you took command of the enterprise? God, you
can be such a self centered jerk sometimes."

"And you would have handled the relationship differently?"

Tom thought about it for a moment, an all too familiar smile breaking over his
clean shaven face.

"Probably not, but now that I'm on the outside looking in.......If I were
Deanna I would have kicked your ass around the block long before it came to


Chapter 3


"Whatever." Tom's shoulders sagged at Will's response to his observation,
not so much because he was trying to start something with his comment about
Deanna, but because right now he would have killed to see anything but
defeat in his brother's face.

He moved ahead of Will, scuffing his foot over the ground until he found
what he was looking for. Pushing a patch of earth aside, he turned to look
at Will who was eyeing the ground curiously.

"What is that?"

Tom shrugged, bending down and pushing the metal door that had been hidden
under the sod he had moved aside, "I think it's an old army bunker, or maybe
a missile arsenal ....whatever it was, it's now where we're hiding until we
come up with a plan." He gestured to the narrow tunnel that led into the
ground, Will looked into the hole, then to Tom. "Our plan to save the
universe, you mean?"


"Your nuts." Will responded coolly, but deep inside he felt a flicker of
jealousy towards the man beside him, the glimmer of conviction and drive
that literally radiated off him, so familiar, but right now so far out of
his grasp.

Sitting on the ground preparing to lower himself into the dark passage he
felt Toms fingers flick off the top of his head. "Remember that nightmare we
had as kids....the one that use to terrify us into avoiding sleep for days?"

Will nodded knowingly, his face twisting into a grimace of dread as he
looked down again into the dark hole he was about to climb into. "Are

"Big ones."

Will shuddered at the thought, but the look on Tom's face pushed him
forward, it was quite apparent he was just as apprehensive about climbing
through the narrow shaft as he was.

For every rung in climbed down he breathed a sigh of relief when his hands
rested on cold metal instead of the furry legs he was dreading..... Tom's
rendition of the "Eencey Weencey spider" above him was doing nothing to help
his decent.

He chose to ignore it, commenting on his singing would only motivate him to
continue and right now all he wanted to do was get to the bottom where he
was sure there would be more space and his body wouldn't be scraping over
god only knows what on the walls.

He felt his foot come to rest on solid ground instead of the creaking rungs
of the ladder he'd been climbing on. Spitting some dirt from his mouth he
moved his eyes toward the light emanating from the back of the cavern. Tom
jumped down beside him, gesturing with his head toward the back wall. "She's
in there."

Will nodded slowly and moved even more slowly toward the steel door Tom had
gestured to, hesitating slightly before going inside.

"Will?" The soft whisper of his name reached his ears before he had entered
the room, acclimating his eyes to the bright light of the room, the smile on
her somewhat bruised face caused his unwarranted fears to vanish. Without
thinking he moved towards her, taking her in his arms, "Deanna......are you
all right?"

She only nodded against his chest, the feel of her body relaxing immediately
into his, her arms around his waist pulling him closer to her, it was as if
the last year had never happened......he couldn't speak for her, but as he
stroked his hands over her silky hair, and breathed in the familiar aroma
that was her, he had to admit this was the place in his life he would always
call home.

"Now don't you feel like an idiot Will?" Tom's voice pushed him to
reluctantly open his eyes to glare at him.

Deanna pulled her head from Will's chest, keeping her arms snugly around his
waist but positioning herself so she could shift her smile between the
brothers, "I see we're getting along as well as always."

Identical grins of guilt covered both of their faces as they looked at her.

"And I see you both made it past the big bad spiders."

Will lowered his eyes to the glint of amusement that shined in her ebony
eyes, before narrowing his own eyes, turning them towards Tom and nodding.

"Actually Deanna, the spiders weren't too bad, it's that nest of snakes we
disturbed on the way down that has us worried"

She moved her eyes between the men, both masterfully holding on to their
concerned expressions, never flinching in response to her scrutiny.

"He's only kidding Deanna but you know what they say about glass houses."

She slapped Will's chest, and glared at Tom.

Tom nodded apologetically, but the grin on both their faces contradicted his

"I'm not sure I'm up for *two* of you." She smiled up at Will, Tom's voice
again interrupting the moment.

"I have to get to work on this." He reached into the pack that was propped
against the metal wall, and proudly displayed his find.

"That's the monitor for Data's locator chip.......How did you get that?"

"What can I say...... I'm just clever I guess." He arched his eyebrows
wickedly before continuing, "I'm going to leave you two alone for awhile,
see if I can get this working."

Again Deanna and Will watched Tom dig through his pack, this time he came
out with two armbands. Turning them in his hand a couple of times he tossed
them at their feet, "Now I want you two to feel free to remove as much or as
little clothing as you like, but I'm going to have to insist you keep those
securely around your arm. Maybe you could incorporate it into your
foreplay." A sinister grin lit up his features before he pushed his way
through the small metal door and moved into the next room.

"Arrogant SOB." Will mumbled as he reached down and retrieved the bands Tom
had thrown on the ground.

Moving his gaze from the armbands to Deanna he couldn't help but smile at
the blush in her cheeks.

"I missed you Deanna." Cupping his hand, he ran the back of his fingers over
her reddened cheeks avoiding the bruise on her cheekbone.

"Me too Will." Her eyes closed in response to his touch.

It had been so long since he'd touched her, but in the past year only brief
moments had passed when he wasn't thinking about it.

Her hand reached for his, he was sure she was going to push him away,
instead she directed it downward. He followed her guidance, watching his
hand as it moved over her jaw, down the length of her neck before finally
stopping to rest on the curve of her breast. Her hand fell away, leaving
Will a little surprised at her greeting, but more then pleased to

Instinctively both of his hands gently caressed the soft mounds of her
breasts, his thumbs tracing her nipples and grazing over them softly. Her
nipples hardened with his efforts pushing out temptingly against the sheer
pink cotton of her blouse.

His name quivered from her mouth on a sigh, amplifying his need and
stimulating him to explore her completely. Pinching the peaks of her
nipples, he slid his hands over her stomach, over the sides of her thighs,
forcefully gripping her buttocks in his hands and pushing her tightly
against him guiding her movements against his growing erection.

His heart was racing, his breathing out of control, the feel of her hips
moving against him, meeting his gentle rocking with a promising rhythm of
what could lie ahead was threatening to consume him.

Two or three rational thoughts still floated through his mind, but dissolved
as her voice sounded through his head. "I want you Imzadi."

A quick jerk on the neckline of her blouse sent the buttons helplessly to
the ground, granting him access to the heated skin beneath. Urgently he
captured her mouth with his, both of them acting to feed and satisfy the
hunger of the other. Lowering her to the ground, he trapped her small body
beneath his, forgetting the problems of the universe, and what tomorrow
might bring.

For this instant in time, this was the universe, a universe filled only with
the sweet flavor of her mouth, the tantalizing scent of her arousal, and the
mutual gratification of two people who had spent far too much time denying
the other.


Chapter 4


Deanna settled her head against Will's chest his heavy breathing slowly
returning to normal, but his emotions over what had just happened still in

She waited silently for the question she knew he needed to ask, honestly if
he didn't ask it she would have started wondering if hadn't been affected
like the rest of the quadrant.

"Deanna. I hate to ruin this perfect moment."

"But you will" She answered, pushing herself up on his chest looking into
his vivid blue eyes, hiding the smile she felt at the shock on his face her
calm answer had spawned.

"What's that suppose to mean......I only meant maybe we should get dressed
before Tom decides to come back and offer us more of his wisdom on the
outcome of the universe."

She sat up beside him, holding his eyes with her own until she was confident
he knew she knew he was lying.

Standing up she moved to the pack Tom had kept his treasures in and pulled
out a change of clothes for both of them.

"You certainly can't wear your uniform." she said, tossing the pants and
shirt she had pulled from the sack to him. His gaze hadn't moved from her
since her comment, his eyes clouded gray with confusion, and unfortunately a
little hurt.

"Will, I'm sorry...I didn't mean to hurt you, but I knew you were going to
attempt to over think what just happened. Life's too short....I won't spend
the rest of my life denying myself what I want."

Sitting back down beside him, she watched his expression temper....the
philosophy she had just quoted she was sure was familiar to him, but one she
had never been able to share until now.

"I want you Will, and then if tomorrow never comes....." Her words trailed
off, Will's eyes narrowing with an immense concern as he rested his hands on
her shoulders.

"What's happening on Betazed?"

Her throat burned from the tears she was trying to keep inside, she had
promised herself she wouldn't cry, not now, not until they had done all they
could to save her home.

"I know you don't believe Tom, but he's not exaggerating. There's something
wrong with the universe and the only people it isn't affecting are the

She saw his jaw tighten, his hands gripped her shoulders tighter.

"Your not buying into this conspiracy theory of Toms?" He cocked his head
towards the closed door, she sensed how much he wanted her to say she

"They're herding Betazoids from all over, pushing them into cages and
shipping them to research facilities on the planet. I'm not sure what I
believe, but I do know it was a Romulan warbird that pulled me off the
Pacifica. I don't know where Tom came from, but I know I never thought I'd
be so happy to see him again."

He let his hands fall from her shoulders, a heavy sigh escaping him before
he stood up and began to dress himself. "Tom and I aren't Betazoid, why
aren't we being affected by this mutiny of the universe."

There was a cold, dry, disbelieving lilt in his voice, she had never known
him to doubt her, but under the circumstances she accepted his skepticism.
"We don't know....That's why Tom thinks Data could help. As soon as he heard
he hadn't been called to testify at your hearing we headed back to earth."

"So, how long have you and super boy been together? No offense Deanna but
I'm finding this outlook on life you have acquired a bit disconcerting, no
matter what's going on on Betazed. It's not like you."

She stood up, and straightened the collar of his shirt before raising up on
her toes and kissing away the ambiguous expression on his face.

As she pulled away from him, his mouth gave way to a crooked smile, "Ok,
maybe I should rethink my opinion on your new outlook, but I still seriously
doubt Tom Riker is in this for purely selfless reasons. I'm not sure he's
capable of thinking about anyone but himself."

Deanna smiled, crossing her arms over her chest, "I think your wrong
Will......I think Tom is being driven by his heart this time."

The grin on Will's face widened, "Your not suggesting he's......no way. Tom
Riker is incapable of committing to one woman, goes against his grain. And
if there is a woman, I guarantee you his heart isn't what he's thinking

Her laughter at the irony of Will's comment escaped her before she could
stop it.

"Are you laughing at me?"

"No....Yes.... I'm sorry Will. It's just that my new attitude, Tom thinking
with his lower extremities, being unable to commit.....there all you, and
yet you can't accept them from anyone else."

Will shifted his weight, not comfortable with the grin on Deanna's face, or
the fact that maybe she was right.

"Knock Knock"

He breathed a sigh of relief as Tom's voice sounded from the other side of
the door, terminating Deanna's psychoanalysis.

"Guess we'll have to finish this conversation later, Miss Troi.....after we
save the universe." He rolled his eyes as he spoke before calling for to Tom
to come in.

Tom moved his eyes back and forth between Will and Deanna, finally resting
them on Will. "Put your foot in it again Captain?"

"Probably." He grinned at Tom, sending a sideways glance to Deanna before
changing the subject.

"I'm sober now Tom, I need to know what's going on before I follow you any
further....going off half cocked is not the way I do things."

He chose to ignore the disappointed look Tom and Deanna shared at his
comment, instead sliding himself down the wall and waiting for them to
enlighten him. As they both sat down in front of him, he began to wonder
about himself.....had he lost the motivation to seize the moment, to act on
his instincts instead of the regulations he had lived under for years. The
thought sickened him, had he allowed himself to slip into such complacency that he had become one of the pompous starfleet captains he’d always despised. No way, if he had, he would put an end to it right now......Deanna was willing to follow Tom, and obviously believed in his bizarre theory that the universe was screwed....Her word and the shadow of sadness in her eyes all the motivation he needed to make his decision.

“Besides the state of Betazed, and the fact that Romulans are working with the federation, is there anything else you can tell me?” Grins of relief broke over Tom and Deanna’s face before Deanna spoke up. “It’s as if the entire universe, or at least the part we’ve been exposed to is comprised of a single objective.....an objective that has banned all the forces together to work as one.” “And the single objective is to what....destroy Betazed?” Tom shook his head at Will’s observation, “No, I think Betazed was an oversight, a part of the plan to control the universe that didn’t quite work out....We think that’s the reason for the research labs, whoever, or whatever devised this strategy is trying like hell to fix its mistake.” Will leaned back against the wall. “What about the Borg....they tend to control entire civilizations with single thought.” “No, the Borg strip life forms of their identities .....all the species I’ve come in contact with since this began still hold on to their individuality. It’s more like a common goal, then a single thought.” Deanna pushed her hair behind her ear, “I wish you could both feel what I’m sensing .....it’s wonderful.” Will furrowed his brow, shifting his eyes to the look of utter confusion on Tom’s face, Tom shrugged, “She keeps saying that....I just don’t understand how wonderful a feeling it can be if their intention is to control her species. Besides there’s nothing wonderful about some outside source dictating what my goals are going to be, picking and choosing is half the fun.” Will wholeheartedly agreed with Tom’s sentiment, both men looking to Deanna. She shook her head in frustration, “I can’t explain it......I just know that if they can’t find a way to instill the directive on Betazed, the simplest solution would be.....” “Destruction of the species.” Will finished her sentence, the look in her eyes making him wish he hadn’t.



Will Riker propped his head on the duffel bag he’d been assigned as a pillow, appreciating the soft feel of Deanna’s body against his, and her warm breath as it penetrated the light cotton of his shirt. He pulled her closer to him as she slept, sending a glower to the not so pleasant sound of Tom’s snoring from the other side of the room. He had to admit he was jealous that they both had been able to fall asleep so quickly after their little strategy session, but after listening to the adventures the two had shared in the last week it was understandable that sleep had become a valued commodity for them. He had turned the conversation over in his mind at least a dozen times and no matter how many angles he chose to look at it from he had to admit he was impressed with the information Tom had been able to come up with, or more realistically eliminate. Q had been the only life form Tom hadn’t excluded from his list of suspects, but he was positive if Q were behind this he would have wanted everyone to know he was behind this.... gloating was what drove Q, to remain anonymous would defeat his egotistical purpose. Stroking his hand over Deanna’s hair, he nodded a silent approval to Tom....he’d done a hell of a job, from suspecting the phenomena immediately, to commandeering a shuttle, to his rescue of Deanna, to his unorthodox liberation of Data’s locator, all of it amazed him, and in an odd way made him proud. He couldn’t explain that feeling, maybe it was just the fact that for a change he wasn’t dragging the Riker name through the mud....or maybe it was more selfish then that....He hadn’t felt like this in well over a year, like someone had lit a tiny fire in every nerve in his body, and his blood had been fortified with electrical ions. He was Will Riker again, not the captain of the enterprise, not Jean Luc Picard’s first officer....but Will Riker, a man who thought for himself, and had a tendency to blow off technicalities.

He jumped at the loud beeping that sounded through the enclosure, Tom bounding to his feet so quickly he staggered for a moment. “It’s Data’s chip!” Tom announced, a triumphant smile blanketing his face. “There it is....Shit, I can’t believe I got it to work!” Will couldn’t help but chuckle at Tom as he danced around the room obviously astounded by his accomplishment. He had never seen him like this before, doubt at your own abilities was something only shared with those you trusted most. Deanna stretched as she pushed off Will’s chest, watching Tom for a second before smiling at Will. “He’s very pleased with himself. He’s managed to dupe starfleet again.” “I can see that.” She answered, kissing his cheek and scratching her nose in response to the tickle of his beard.. He winked at her before returning his attentions to Tom. “Anytime you’d like to share your findings with your partners?” Tom pulled his gaze from the monitor in his hand to Will and Deanna, “I have to be the most resourceful and amazing man that ever lived.” Will reached out and took the monitor Tom offered him, a wry smile on his lips, “And the most humble as well.”

“Oh, don’t give me that crap.....if you’d been able to crack the code we’d be expected to kiss your butt.”

The retort Will had planed stalled in his throat as he viewed the coordinates for Data’s retrieval. “Do you know where this is?” Tom raised an all knowing eyebrow and nodded, “Right smack dab in the middle of hell.” Deanna pulled Will’s hand to her, looking at the view screen that appeared to have both the Rikers a little set back. Will noticed her perplexed and concerned expression and attempted to explain. “After world war three it took the earth years to recover, but banning together the people of earth were able to restore the planet....All but this five hundred mile radius.” He moved his fingers over the screen. “This area here that covers the three corners of what was once Egypt, Libya, and Sudan never recovered. The earth opened up during the fighting, swallowing the civilizations and creating the Khu Gorge .....a Gorge so deep sunlight barely reaches the bottom.” “Sounds lovely.” Her voice was cool, but Will could see the revulsion in her face. The Betazoid race had lived peacefully for thousands of years, instead of only hundreds as the earth had....The concept of virtually destroying a race due to beliefs and power practically foreign to her. “Bet we won’t encounter any spiders there.” Tom chimed in, abolishing the all too intense moment Will and Deanna were sharing. “Maybe we should get packing, you guys are throwing cold water on my moment with all this morbid talk.”

*** Tom and Deanna emerged from the ancient bunker first, flashing a signal to Will that he could start his ascent. They had all agreed that three on the old ladder might be too much weight, Will had no problem postponing his climb through the spider infested shaft. Three quarters of the way up the ladder he could hear the strong wind that blew above him, the scent of a storm brewing, overpowering the smell of dirt in the tunnel. An unfamiliar voice above him caused him to stop short on the third to last rung. “You are Betazoid.” The voice was low, almost a growl, he was fairly certain it was the baritone voice of a Klingon. “I’m afraid your mistaken Buddy......If she were Betazoid I would never have married her. Betazoids are too fragile.....I like a woman who can take anything I can dish out, if you know what I mean.” Will unsnapped the phaser from his belt, the growl of agreement that emanated from the Klingon did nothing to help him believe Tom was going to pull this off. He stuck his head cautiously out of the shaft, thankful Tom had managed to lure the intruder far enough from the entrance that he wouldn’t be seen. “I mean look at those thighs......Thunder thighs I call her, and this butt...Lotsa meat there.” Will raised his eyes to the sky, quite sure that after this little display Tom would be much safer facing the Klingon then the tiny Betazoid beside him. He raised his weapon anyway and fired before the Klingon was able to activate his tricorder and run a scan on Deanna. Tom relaxed his shoulders and let his hand fall from Deanna’s butt cheeks as the Klingon fell with a thud to the ground. “Great work Will!” “Yea, yea, you can kiss my ass later......Let’s get outta here before any other unannounced visitors show up.” Will moved beside Tom, sidestepping the poison darts that seemed to be shooting from Deanna’s narrowed eyes. “That was quick thinking Tom....real smooth.” The grin on Tom’s face faded as he followed Will’s eyes to Deanna, “I didn’t mean any of it Deanna, you know that.. right? I love your butt, I’ve been known to fantasize about it even.” Tom shifted his pitiful expression to Will, whose eyes had also narrowed into slits. “Well, I don’t anymore.... fantasize I mean.” A few more words tumbled from Tom’s mouth before he slouched his shoulders in defeat, and stomped ahead of his partners. Will held out his arm to Deanna, cradling it around her shoulder as she walked under it. “That was fun.” He said, a wicked grin covering his bearded face. “It was, wasn’t it......I think I feel vindicated now.”



“I can’t believe this is your idea of transportation.” Will Riker attempted to change his position but found it impossible. “I’ll never be able to straighten my legs again.” He massaged his calf’s as best he could with his knees pressed against his chest. “Stop complaining, I was only one when I started this little adventure, I didn’t know I was going to be accommodating anyone else.” Tom tossed a look over his shoulder, turning back to the view port quickly unable to hide his amusement at Will’s contorted position. “I don’t hear anyone else complaining.” “Of course you don’t, your in the pilots seat, and Deanna, well, she’s just little.” Deanna pulled her eyes away from the tricorder she was studying intently, “Actually I was surprised my butt fit into the seat.” She smiled sympathetically at Will’s uncomfortable predicament, Will making no attempt to hide his satisfaction as he watched Tom’s shoulder’s tense in response to Deanna’s dig. He shared a smile with Deanna, waiting to see what BS Tom was going to try this time. “I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but did I tell you when I found Will in the bar he was totally mesmerized by a beautiful Spiel.” Tom shot an innocent look over his shoulder, wide blue eyes, slight pout on his bottom lip, Will was impressed, the look worked well on Tom’s clean-shaven face. “All men are mesmerized by Spiel, I’d be worried about him if he hadn’t been.” She squeezed Will’s thigh as she spoke, he flinched in response to the pins and needles that spiked through his leg and decided instantly, Tom’s pity look wasn’t worth practicing in the mirror. “Nice try Tom, that pathetic puppy look was a nice touch though.” Tom snickered at him, “I was thinking maybe we should take the scenic route.” He veered the tiny ship, shifting Will’s position, sending Will’s knee into his cheek. Will’s groan echoed through the cramped cock pit. “Oh, I’m sorry Will... I must have hit the steering column when I was *stretching* my legs.” Will looked to Deanna for help, but her eyes had returned to the readouts on the tricorder, either she didn’t care that Tom was picking on him, or whatever she was doing was more interesting then their adolescent bickering. “What are you studying so closely?”

“I’m running a cross DNA analysis on the three of us, there must be some reason we aren’t being affected .”


“And nothing I’m afraid.....not one component overlaps, anywhere.” She looked at him, shaking her head in frustration. “Don’t worry Deanna, once we find Data we’ll get to the bottom of this. And I promise if things get too out of hand on Betazed we’ll make a special trip back there and we’ll get your mother out.” He chose to ignore the “like hell we will.” look that Tom flipped over his shoulder, instead doing his best maneuvering to pull Deanna against him. “Thanks Will.” She sighed, settling her head against his shoulder.


 “There she is!” Tom’s enthusiastic voice jolted Will from the sleep he had fallen into, the thud of his head hitting the metal ceiling above him causing Deanna to stir as well. “Son of a bitch.” He massaged his head, realizing it was the only part of his body that hadn’t gone completely numb. “Set her down over there Tom.” He looked out the tiny portal at his side, the barren landscape scarred with patches of blackened sand, images of what appeared to be the charred remains of the past were literally burned into the dismal landscape. He swallowed hard, understanding why the federation had chosen to leave this area untouched, an ominous reminder of man’s inhumanity to man. “I said put her down over there.” He tapped his window, pointing to the gorge that cut through the devastation like an open wound. “I’m not putting her down anywhere. I’m taking her in.” “Like hell you are. I just as soon leap off the edge then have YOU fly us in there.” “Fine I’ll hold the door for you, but I’m not landing.” Tom spun his head around to look at Will, both Riker’s eyes burning with the same fire of conviction. “This ship may only seat four......but I’m the captain.” “Yea, a Captain who’ll get us all killed if....” “Shut up, both of you!” Deanna’s cross words ended the debate instantly, “Nobody’s taking her in, look at the readouts.” She pointed to the console, both Rikers following her finger. “She’s right.” Will raised an eyebrow at Deanna and nodded approvingly. “So what do we do now?” She asked, moving her dark eyes between Will and Tom. “We can take her in the first twenty meters, find a place to set down, then we climb.” “Climb!?” The apprehensive lilt in her voice brought a smile to both Tom and Will. “Piece of cake, Deanna.” The brothers response came in unison, the same ardent sparkle of adventure shining in both their faces.


“This is incredible.” Will’s arms slipped around Deanna’s waist, easing her to the cavern floor, but his eyes were transfixed on the strangely beautiful world they’d just entered. Tom landed with a thud behind her, his eyes reflecting the same sentiments Will had just shared. He let the rope dangle from the cliff face they had just scaled before moving beside Will. She could hear them mumbling together, running their hands over the smooth surface of the walls, the shadows of light that actually reached the floor of the gorge painting eerie images on the cave walls. Bounce light Will had called it, admittedly it was beautiful, it played off the surface of the walls creating almost iridescent hues of color that reflected red and orange up the sides of the walls until only a muted yellow could be seen at the highest level her eyes could reach. But she still didn’t share the Riker brothers fascination with this place, the silence in the deep gorge was deafening, if it weren’t for Will and Tom’s murmuring there would be nothing. Logically she understood why, no animal would ever be able to venture to this depth, and if it did it would have ventured here only as a mistake, like the bones they had found a few levels up, stripped clean by the sandstorms that reaped their havoc through the gorge. But to her the silence was haunting, something she was sure the two adventurers in front of her could never understand. Wrapping her arms around herself, she silenced the goose bumps that swept up her arms, focusing on the emotions that literally vibrated from Tom and Will. “Look at these!” It was Tom’s awe filled voice this time, she watched as he moved his hands over the glyphs on the wall. “How bizarre is this?” She moved closer to Will, she didn’t like the tone in Tom’s voice, or the confusion she felt from Will. They had seen several Egyptian Hieroglyphics on the climb down, why were these different from the others. Will offered her only a sideways glance, slipping his hand under her hair and cradling her neck gently. “Anasazi?” She eyed Tom’s doubtful expression before shifting her dark eyes to Will. “No way, that’s impossible” Will stroked his hand over the etchings under the ledge, “There hardly worn Tom, there nothing like the ones we saw on our way down.” “I was afraid you were going to say that.” Tom cocked his head at Will, a baffled expression gripping his features. “Scan it Tom, see if we get anything.” Will’s face mirrored Toms, and the smile of reassurance they both tried to offer her failed miserably. She watched them for a moment, a flicker of light catching her eye, she slipped from Will’s hand and moved towards it, shining her lantern on the unfamiliar symbol before turning back to Tom and Will. “What is this one?” She whispered the question, both Rikers turning their attentions to the light she shined on the other side of the cave wall. Two pair of blue eyes darkened as they looked on the symbol she held in the light, the emotions from both of them switching from confusion to extreme disgust. Will moved beside her, tracing his hand over the blackened symbol on the wall several times before nodding to Tom. “A swastika.” Both of them answered her question simultaneously, and she was very sure she didn’t like the private look they shared.



Both Rikers moved in opposite direction down the narrow passage in the heart of the gorge, shining their lanterns on the cave wall that held the image of the swastika.

“What are you seeing Will?!” Tom’s question creating an echo that disturbed the soundlessness of the deep ravine.

Will walked towards Tom, reciting the images he’d seen on his trek down the corridor, “Christ crucifixion, the symbol for the Templar knights, actually I think each one of these markings represents one of the crusades, but I’m not sure.”

He slid his hand over the incised walls, “This looks like the flags for the Triple alliance and the Triple Entente, world war one....There’s some I can’t identify Tom, how bout you?” He stopped next to Deanna, who still stood staring at the swastika.

“Same kinda thing Will, but I seem to be moving into the future, the entire wall seems to depict all of the earth’s transgressions, right up to........”

“Right up to what?” Will shined his light towards Tom, cradling his arm around Deanna’s waist and urging her forward.

“What’d ya suppose this is?” Will was confident Tom had only asked the question out of surprise, not because he was uncertain as to what it was.

“I thought we had eliminated the Borg as suspect.” Deanna moved a little closer to Will as she spoke, the unsettled feeling coming from the two men much more disturbing then the images on the walls.

“We have. I’m sure the borg wouldn’t bother to create a mural depicting human error. Whoever made these drawings may just think the borg were our last offense.” Gesturing down the sandy passage he added, “I mean there’s still plenty of space for them to add any new screw ups as we make them.”

Tom’s grin returned to his face, “personally I’d rather be faced with a blank wall then ponder something I can’t do shit about.”

Deanna felt Will’s emotions shift as he met Tom’s arrogant smile, “I’ll bet you’ve got your own wall around here somewhere....Tom Riker screw ups.”

“Yea, probably right beside asinine mistakes of Will Riker.”

Deanna couldn’t help but smile at the camaraderie the two had established since this little escapade had begun, she only wished she could be as unemotional about the unexplained as they were.

“Ok, so we’ve established that someone seems awfully concerned with the earth’s violent history, but what are all the little sparkly things running up the wall.”

She shifted uncomfortably as the brothers transferred their gazes from the wall to her, both of their expressions exactly the same.

“What....was that a silly question?”

Will exchanged a look with Tom before dropping his hand from her shoulder, and repositioning it softly at the base of her neck. “It’s not that Deanna, it’s just we....we don’t see any sparkly things.”

“How can you not see them.” She wiggled out from under Will’s touch, tracing her hands over the strands of glitter she was positive trailed up the walls. “There right here, it was the flash from them that drew me to the pictures in the first place.”

Will narrowed his eyes, sending Tom a sideways glance that immediately prompted him to move his tricorder over the space Deanna’s fingers had just touched.

“Nothing.” Tom said, shaking his head. “Maybe one of our palm lanterns shined in your eyes and they’re playing tricks on you.”

Deanna did not like the condescending tone in Tom’s voice, nor the similar emotions she felt emanating from Will.

Clenching her fist at her sides, she sneered at Tom, “Kiss my butt!”

Will did his best to swallow the grin that was threatening to break over his face, not only in response to Deanna’s very out of character expression, but the utter shock that had spread over Tom Riker’s face.

Deanna spun quickly around to face him sending the same venomous glare to Will, “Oh, you can stop trying to hide your smile Riker.....I see your little Adam’s apple bobbing up and down.”

Will’s hand flew instinctively to his throat, “I’m sorry......but it just didn’t sound like you.”

He looked at her with a pleading smile, she laid her hand on his chest. “Well my new objective is to be just like Tom, so you better get use to it..... first it was the unbridled sex, and now I’m working on my colorful expressions.”

She spun quickly, holding her smile until her back was turned to him.....He followed behind her, ignoring her ridiculous remark, instead making a mental note to check out the Adams apple thing in the mirror.


The passage had narrowed so the three had to walk sideways to push themselves through the pillars of stone that jutted upward to such heights the peaks couldn’t be seen.

“I feel like I’m in a giant digestive track.” Tom grunted the comment as he held his breath to fit through the twisted stones.

“Maybe that’s what all this sand is, the digested remains of all the other idiots who tried to make it through here.”

“Shut up Tom!” Will’s lungs were so constricted by the tight space he was sure Tom probably had not heard his warning. He squeezed his eyes shut as he maneuvered through the maze of stone, his sweat dripping down his face and stinging his eyes, his hands pinned so snugly at his sides he was unable to wipe it away.

“Looks like we’re almost on top of him!”

Tom’s voice sounded normal instead of strained as it had been, he surmised that to mean he was soon to be freed from this limestone coffin.

He stumbled from the narrow passage, gulping several breaths of air, it tasted stagnant in his mouth but he was thankful to be able to breath in a lung full.

“Through that cave opening.” Tom pointed a few yards ahead of them, not allowing Will any time to recover.

“Look at that!” Deanna gestured upward to a enormous tree that was embedded tightly in the rocks above them, a tree Will was sure was not indigenous to this area.

“Well, here’s a cheery thought, looks like flash floods have become yet another obstacle on our journey down the yellow brick road.”

Will sent a reprimanding glare to Tom as he blurted out what he had all ready surmised, but had decided not to share.

“And maybe when we get to the wizard he can give you the brain you seem to be lacking.” Will cocked his head to Deanna.

“I just think she’s tougher then you give her credit for, that’s all.” Tom replied with a wave of his hand.

“Now you stay out here while toto and I check out the cave.”

Will raised a surprised eyebrow as Deanna accepted the phaser and Tom’s order without protest.

“It’s called positive stroking, works every time.” Tom whispered as they entered the cave.

“No, I thinks it’s called she didn’t really.....” His words halted abruptly, the Riker’s high pitched screams resonating throughout the cave.

“What is it!?” Deanna’s winded voice sounded behind them, she shined her light on their horrified faces and then into the dark cave.

“Oh Gods! “ She shuddered as she moved her eyes over the illuminated floor of the cave, the ground virtually invisible beneath what had to be thousands of spiders. The concentration of the huge furry things so thick, it was impossible to tell where one spider ended and the others began.

“Yuck”..... She uttered, backing slowly out of the cave before moving her attentions to Will and Tom who were far too quiet for her taste.

Tom slapped his hand on Will’s shoulder, Will nodding a silent agreement before both turned to face Deanna.

“That’s it Deanna.... This missions been called on account of spiders.”


“He’s only joking Deanna.” Will met Deanna’s steady gaze before sending a sidelong glance to Tom, “Weren’t you Tom?”

“Of course I was, I’m not going to let a few spiders stop us from finding Data.” The grimace on his face as he spoke completely contradicting his words.

“I’ll admit I don’t share this intense phobia you two seem to have, but I don’t think I’m willing to walk through there.” Deanna’s eyebrows raised apprehensively, “How will we..” Her words trailed off as both men unsnapped their phasers, her look of apprehension shifting to aversion. “Will?”

“I’m sorry Deanna, but burning them out is the only way.”

He rested his hand on the base of her neck, stroking his thumb over her soft skin. “Believe me Deanna, we wish there was another way, destroying any life, no matter how vile .....well, we certainly won’t derive any pleasure from it, put it that way. Right Tom?” He slid his eyes to Tom, who was already increasing the setting on his weapon.

“Right Tom?”

“Right Will....I would never draw pleasure from frying the little beasts.” There was an all to eager quality in Tom’s voice that betrayed his sentiment.

“Can’t you even play act at having some compassion.” Will rolled his eyes to the sky, shaking his head in amazement.

“I have compassion, just not for spiders......Now let’s get this over with.” He tilted his head towards the cave entrance before moving towards it. Will squeezed Deanna’s shoulder briefly before dropping his hand and falling in behind Tom.

A faint vibration under their feet caused both men to stop before entering the cave.

“What the hell is that?” Will’s question was lost on the roaring sound that filled the ravine, first a deep rumble as though something large was being moved, followed by a whooshing sound, that caused the stagnant air around them to circulate into a strong breeze.

The hot wind blasted through the gorge for well over a minute, carrying with it an almost intoxicating aroma Will was certain he’d smelled before.

As the churning breeze retreated, the still air of the gorge returned but the lightly sweet scent still remained.

He moved his eyes over his two companions gauging their reactions to what had just happened, Tom’s face seemed to mirror what he was feeling, but Deanna seemed enthralled by the scent that floated around them.

“You recognize that smell Tom.” It was more of a statement then a question, Tom nodded, “Yea, I just can’t remember where, or when....but it sure provokes some pleasurable feelings.”

“That’s for sure, I just wish I could put the feelings with the memories......Deanna how bout you?”

She shook her head and answered distractedly, “I’m sure if I’d smelled it before I would remember, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered such an indulging fragrance.”

Will nodded an agreement, inhaling deeply, allowing more of the addicting aroma to pervade him, he was sure if he allowed himself to, his mind and body could almost be captured by the enchanting sensations the aroma was awakening in him.

“Hey, the spiders are gone!!!”

Tom’s voice echoed through the cloudy haze that had formed over his mind, he shook his head, snapping to attention.

Tom stood only inches from his face when his world became clear again.

“It’d be a good idea not to focus too hard on the feelings that smell seems to induce.”

Will shifted his gaze between Deanna, who seemed to be recovering from the same state of euphoria he had fallen into and Tom, who seemed fully alert and almost unaffected.

“I’ve found in my life it’s never a good idea to give in too quickly to what seems to be perfection....too often perfection comes back and bites you in the ass.”

Tom answered Will’s question before he’d been able to organize the thoughts he needed to ask it.

“Sounds kinda cynical to me.” Will ran his tongue over his lips, his mouth dry in response to the arid breeze that had carried the aroma into the ravine.

Tom shrugged, gesturing toward the cave, “Maybe, but at least I didn’t lapse into dreamland like you two.....now let’s go through there before they come back.”

Will concentrated on not allowing his thoughts to drift away on the fragrance, taking Deanna’s hand they followed Tom into the cavern.

The three moved across the now barren floor, Will and Tom’s eyes darting around the room like stalked animals as they moved towards the adjacent room.

“Where do you think they went?” Deanna whispered.

“I don’t know....but I think I liked it better when I knew where they were.” He offered her a weak smile as she squeezed his hand reassuringly.


“Great, more pretty pictures but no tin man.” Tom slapped his fist into his palm, “I’m beginning to think someone is leading us on a wild goose chase.”

Will released Deanna’s hand and moved beside Tom to look at the readouts on Data’s monitor. “He should be right here, unless....” Will’s thought dropped off as he moved his hands over the walls. “The rumble we heard, it sounded like something heavy was moving....you don’t think?”

Tom only thought for a second before joining Will in his search for a mechanism on the wall...

“These inscriptions on the wall look like Hebrew, and these drawings, they seemed to be indicative to the early developments of Christianity.” Tom nodded an agreement, both men surveying every inch of the wall.

“Hey, the smell’s gone.”

Tom inhaled deeply, “Your right..that’s weird.... sure would feel better if I could have placed it.”

A sigh of concurrence left Will’s lungs.... “Anytime you’d like to help us Deanna....feel free.” The teasing grin on Will’s face vanished as he looked back over his shoulder and found no trace of her.


The haunting echo of her name bounced through the room, pushing both men urgently towards the door they’d entered through.

Again the ground rumbled under their feet, the grinding sound of rock against rock came simultaneously with the steady movement of the room.

“The doors moving!” Will shouted lunging for what had once been the opening, his hand meeting with only stone as a wall of limestone replaced the once accessible entrance.

“Oh well, shit.” Tom snapped, slapping the rock that covered their only exit.

Will leaned against the cave wall, dropping his head in frustration, “Yea.... I’d say that just about sums it up.”


“I think your wrong, I don’t think that’s the way it happened.” Tom Riker scratched the stubble that grown in on his chin, challenging Will’s premise that someone had intentionally sealed them in the room. Will gave up his search of the walls and met his brothers more then convincing stare.

“Ok, then how did it happen?”

“Beats me, but we don’t know how long Deanna was gone before we noticed.....when we turned around the door was still open. Maybe something else triggered the mechanism that caused the room to revolve.”

“Something else like what?”

“Like us, the room didn’t revolve until we charged for the entrance to find....” Tom’s explanation fell off, Will eyed him suspiciously as he walked heal toe across the left side of the room.

“In the ancient crypts of Cardassia they always built invisible switches in the floor so when the spirit left the body it would step immediately on the switch, releasing it’s soul to the Panaro.”

“Couldn’t it just walk through the wall?”

The click that sounded underneath Tom’s foot wiped the smirk off Will’s face, and caused his shoulder’s to tighten. “Nothing happened.”

Tom kept his foot on the spot he had found, his face dropping with disappointment.

“Maybe we should start thinking like Egyptians instead of Cardassians.....didn’t they entomb their best servant with them.”

Will shuddered at the thought, being buried alive was right up there with spiders in his book.

“OK, don’t move.” Will began emulating Tom’s heal toe surveillance of the room, covering the far right side just as Tom had done on the left. His efforts were rewarded quickly by a similar click and the familiar grating sound of rock against rock. The room revolved in the same manner as before, a quarter rotation, but still only rock surrounded them.

“Ready?” A nod from Tom and they both stepped down on the hidden floor switch, again the wall moved, this time revealing a narrow opening and a very welcome sight.

“Ah, Captain Riker it is good to see you.” Data walked from the narrow space as though he was stepping from the turbo lift instead of the tomb of rock he’d been sealed in.

“It’s good to see you too Data. Are you all right?” Will rested a concerned hand on the androids shoulder.

“Yes Sir, I have been calibrating the chemical compounds that have infiltrated the air, but I have been unsuccessful in pinpointing the components, though I have ascertained that they are of manmade origin.”

“You know we just released you from a rock!?” Tom’s dumbfounded expression as he spoke to Data brought a smile to Will’s face.

Tom had never had a chance to get to know Data, he was sure what Tom was feeling right now were the same feelings he had had the first time he had met Data on the holodeck, many years ago.

“I am Mister Riker.” Data’s eyes darted between the two men, obviously puzzled as to why Tom had found it necessary to mention his earlier predicament.

“Doesn’t that bother you......At all?!”

“Bother me? There was nothing I could do to change my circumstances, to allow it to bother me would not have been fruitful”

A flicker of a smile crept over Tom’s face as he shook his head in amazement at Will, Will returned an understanding nod before turning his attentions back to the still perplexed eyes of the android.

“Can you expand on what you were saying earlier about chemical compounds in the air.”

“I believe there as been a toxin released into the universe, it’s affect seems to result in a highly personified ability to accept certain suggestions. It appears the entire quadrant is being driven by one force.” Data cocked his head in thought, “I am however perplexed as to who is doing the suggesting, I am quite certain all the races in the quadrant have been affected, except the Betazoids, and I do not believe they are behind this. I have been theorizing that perhaps the suggestion is not coming from an outside source but from each individuals mind.”

“Whoa, hold up Data, you just went way over my head.” Will shot a look to Tom, and shook his head in exasperation at Data.

“As I said it is only a theory captain. My sensors have been picking up immense shifts in the geomagnetic field that make up the universe, as well as extreme energy fields emanating from several key points on Earth..”

Will furrowed his brow, still not comprehending what Data was saying, but thankful that at least he seemed to have some ideas, which was more then he could say about himself and Tom.

“Can you localize these key points?”

“Negative Sir, but I am also sensing mass numbers of various life forms at the same areas on the planet. I will attempt to break through the bioelectrical field in the area.”

Will gripped Data’s arm, “Bioelectrical field, isn’t that the minute traces of energy that are released by the brain.”

“That is correct Sir, but it appears to have redoubled ......I believe it is due to the toxin, but I cannot be certain. It is a most stimulating puzzle.”

Will rubbed his hands briskly over his face, his frustration was mounting, and he did not share Data’s view that this was at all stimulating, quite the contrary, it was quickly becoming a pain in ass.

He watched as Data lowered his eyelids and began accessing information before turning towards the sound of Tom scrambling to his feet.

“We gotta get to Deanna....Now.” The warning tumbled from his mouth as he seized Will’s shoulder’s firmly...”Listen.”

Will narrowed his eyes at Tom as the familiar voice carried into the special corner of his mind.


He knew he should have sprung into action instantly, but instead he found himself glaring at Tom.....This was the part of having Tom Riker exist that had always threatened to consume him, the part where he had to admit to himself that Tom had shared the same bond with Deanna that he had, that her voice whispered in his mind, and that by some convoluted twist of fate, he was her imzadi too.

“Get over it Will.” Tom’s unyielding blue eyes met his. “I have.”

“Have you?” For some reason he wasn’t at all surprised that Tom had known what battle he was waging on himself.

Tom relaxed his posture, the look in his eyes tempering to understanding. “I’d say so.” He reinforced his words by pulling his shirt from his pants and lifting it to reveal the tiny tattoo on his side.

Will stared at the marking, knowing what it was, but finding it difficult to form a coherent thought, “You, God, I ....I...how long?”

The grin that spread over Tom’s face was almost blinding. “Three years.”

“You married a Bajoran, WOW, I guess you’ve got more stamina then I thought.” Will finally recovered from the shock of the bonding ring he had seen branded into Tom’s side, and slapped his brother on the back.

“Damn straight.” He winked, and moved towards the invisible switch in the floor, Will followed suit, Data eyed them both curiously.

They both stepped down on the mechanism, Tom shouted over the rumblings of the revolution of the room.

“And another thing, maybe you’d like to start referring to yourself as uncle Will.”

Will shook his head, a grin of shock and happiness spreading over his face.....It was all pretty hard for him to swallow, but at least now he understood what was the driving force behind Tom Riker’s determination to fix the universe.


The room slid to a grinding halt, dampening any hopes Will had of finding out much more about this new life Tom had going for him. The two Rikers stood on there platforms waiting for the word from Data that this was the way out.

“This room appears to be home to a large number of arachnids.”

Will and Tom exchanged a mortified look and hurriedly activated the switch again, hardly giving Data enough time to pull his head back through the doorway.

“I do not believe doctor Troi is in any danger, I have not seen any acts of violence since this abnormality transpired.”

Will looked skeptically at Data, “Oh no?! what do you call firing on an entire shuttle of civilian Betazoids.”

“The shuttle was merely a holographic projection, I believe a tool to eliminate you from a position that could threaten the cause. Or perhaps because you failed to be affected by the toxin they believe they have failed with you, just as they have with the Betazoids.”

Tom exchanged a look with Will before chiming in. “I’ll have to agree with the tin man on this one, I’m telling ya Will, aside from the lab experiments on the Betazoids, I haven’t seen a torpedo, or a phaser fired since all this began. It’s the most peaceful takeover I’ve ever seen.”

Will shook his head slowly. “I don’t care how peaceful it is, conforming life forms, well, it’s too Borg like for me. And you.” Will wagged his finger at Data, “What your suggesting is that those who are unable to conform are somehow inferior to those that have.” Stroking his beard thoughtfully he continued, “Looking back through history, I wonder how many wars that exact way of thinking has caused?”

“Actually Captain, I was only stating a contingency, but it does appear the universe is working towards a common goal.” Will held the android’s yellow eyes, at the moment he was finding Data’s objectivity infuriating.

“I know where I’ve smelled that smell before!” Tom shouted the revelation, Will and Data moved their eyes slowly towards him.

“Tom?” Will said, shaking his head, “Are you ever on the same page as everyone else?”

Tom shrugged, “I guess not, I tend to flip back through the pages and see what I missed....and I missed this, someone we never even suspected.”


“It’s the mating scent of a Spielian! Come on, you must remember that moment....Most frustrating time in all my adolescents, never fully understood blue bal....”

Will raised his hand to silence Tom, the idea of having to explain the concept he was speaking of to Data, a challenge he wasn’t up to.

Data looked skeptically at Tom before speaking, “I do not believe the Spiel are capable of reproduction, their race is expected to cease to exist in the foreseeable future.”

Data’s logical statement triggered Will’s illogical side, “You mean become extinct like the federation thought they were two hundred years ago? I wonder how many times the Speilians have been legend to become extinct.”

Will knew he had thrown Data by his comment, the reappearance of the Spielian race was more of a myth then a scientific fact, he was fairly certain doctor Soong wouldn’t have found it a necessary element in Data’s programming.

“I am unclear as to what you are proposing, Captain Riker.”

“I know Data, I’m sure it means nothing.” The conviction in his voice deceived the android but not Tom Riker.

Data poked his head out through the entrance that had opened, “This opening seems to be free of arachnids. Shall we venture to find doctor Troi?”

The two Rikers nodded in unison, heading towards the exit.

“God, I can’t believe your a father.”

Tom grinned at Will’s amazement, “Hard for me to believe too, been almost two years and I still look at her and wonder how in hell I spawned such a beautiful little thing.”

“Probably the wife’s genes.” Will teased, slapping Tom on the back. “Tell me how thi....”

“Captain!” Data’s voice terminated Will’s inquisition.

“What is it Data?”

Both men turned towards the android, who instead of following the brothers still stood rigidly in the center of the room, shining his palm light over the floor.

“I believe I have found the pivotal areas.”

Their eyes all followed the beam of light that Data projected around the room.

“It’s a pentacle.” Tom piped up, “With a different structure at each of the five nodes.”

“That is correct Sir.” The Rikers followed Data to each point of the pentacle, Data explaining each of the locales depicted.

“The Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt....Stonehenge in England.....The megalith temples in Peru......the stone heads of Easter Island.” The three halted at the final point they came to, only a circle was drawn on the ground, filled almost completely with black, a sparkle of white shimmering like a tiny jewel in the center.

“What is that one Data?”

Data inclined his head thoughtfully, “I do not recognize this sphere has being anything I have seen in earth history. The others however, all appear to be ancient remains of cultures that at one time were thought to possess a more advanced technology then the era would have allowed.”

Will scratched his beard, stepping into the center of the pentacle, “Why these places? Earth history relates an advanced development in many other civilizations as well, the Anasazi, the Mayans, even the native American Hopi were at one point thought to have a knowledge that far surpassed the time in which they lived.” He raised his brows, shifting his questioning gaze between Tom and Data.

“In fact Captain Riker, there was once approximately three thousand, three hundred such edifices on the planet, after world war three, many were destroyed.”

Data stepped towards the lower tip of the pentacle, flashing the beam of his light on the drawing that represented the Great Pyramid. “The spot we are standing on now was once the home to to this particular structure.”

Tom’s frustrated sigh sounded through the darkness of the cave, both Will and Data flashing the beams of their palm lights towards the sound.

Tom squinted against the bright light, “I don’t suppose there’s anyway either one of you two could ANSWER some questions instead of creating more.”


Six pair of hands pushed Deanna’s body firmly against the cot she had been assigned, the gentle voices and peaceful emotions that emanated from her captors, contradicting their actions.

“Please” Her hopeless plea was met with a look of pity from the Vulcan that held her, and moving her eyes over the others, each of their eyes seemed to mimic the look of the Vulcan. The feelings she was sensing from all around her much more terrifying then the force they were using to end her struggle.

“Don’t worry Deanna, we’ll find a way to help you, and all those afflicted as you are.” The whispered words sounded from above her, out of her range of vision, but not out of her range of recognition.

“Beverly.” She gasped, wrestling against the pressure that held her there.

“Relax Deanna.” Beverly spoke in her usual comforting voice, moving beside her and brushing the loose strands of hair from her forehead.

A single drop of liquid fell onto Deanna’s forehead, its impact instantaneous.

“Don’t do this.”

Tears slipped from the edges of Deanna’s eyes, she knew all too well the words had never really left her lips. Another warm thick drop of the crimson liquid fell again to her forehead, the tears that yearned to be freed from her eyes halting with it’s effect.

Beverly reached for Deanna’s eyelids, closing them with a swift motion of her hand, Deanna knew it was too late, her body had surrendered to the drug once used as a weapon against Betazed. Behind her closed eyes she knew she was trapped, she allowed her mind to escape from the paralysis of her body......fleeing to an inner sanctuary until someone, somewhere freed her from the purgatory she’s been assigned.

chapter 11

Beverly Crusher steadied her hand, releasing the third drop of the crimson liquid on Deanna’s forehead. She scrutinized her work carefully until the entire droplet had absorbed itself into Deanna’s system.

“There Deanna.” She whispered as she ran her tricorder on the still form of the Betazoid, “Enjoy.”

She nodded approvingly at the results of her scan, raising her eyes to meet the other concerned face that now hovered over her.

“She can remain safely in this state for up to a week before the effects of the drug begin to degenerate brain cells. I’m sure by then we’ll be able to devise a permanent way to ensure not only her cooperation, but the rest of her race. You know I’d never let anything happen to her Jean Luc.”

Picard shifted his muted blue eyes from the unconscious body of Deanna Troi only long enough to nod an understanding to the Doctor.

“What exactly is happening to her?”

“Only the most basic parts of her brain have been left to function.....The drug was used for meditation in early Betazoid history to silence the outside world, permitting only the individuals mental pathways to create a type of tranquil heaven. The early tribes referred to it as the blood of the sacred......it was only after the wars began did the name change to blood of the damned. Any deviation in the amount administered causes instant death, which was why it was successfully used against the Betazoids....a silent weapon against an unsuspecting race.”

A sigh of sadness escaped her, “Now it’s only the Rikers we have to worry about.”

Picard shook his head adamantly, “I don’t view the Rikers as any threat to us, they will conform in time and help us. Until then, I’m confident their only motivation will be to find Deanna.”


Will cringed as he felt his shirt tear again, this labyrinth of passageways Data’s internal sensors had led them to, so narrow his shirt hung in tatters from brushing past the jagged walls.... His sweat dripped into the open wounds on his back, he stifled a groan as another rock cut like a razor through his skin. He kept an eye on the steady stream of light Data was shining ahead of him, in the distance he could see that this passage was also widening into a circular chamber, just as all the others.

He was beginning to wonder if perhaps Data’s sensors were malfunctioning like the rest of the universe, he was finding it more and more difficult to believe there was a large concentration of life forms anywhere in this place.

Being the last to enter the circular chamber, he stretched his muscles and moved his eyes over the glyphs that were etched in the walls.

“That’s the same damn glyph we passed twenty minute ago! I thought you were suppose to be an android! Tom Riker’s angry words of frustration distorted themselves on the echo that carried through the dark passages.

“I am not suppose to be an android....I am an android.” Will couldn’t help but smile at Tom’s expression as Data answered his anger with his usual calm.

“Well then your a sorry excuse for one!” Tom barked the retort, placing his face only inches from Data.

“Actually mister Riker, I am the only one. So it would be impossible for me to.....” Will waved his hand to silence Data, knowing one of Data’s timely explanation would do nothing but set Tom off again, and if he decided to take a swing at Data he had no doubt who would end up on the losing side of the stick.

“Calm down Tom, this isn’t going to help us find Deanna, all it’s going to do is increase the amount of time we have to spend in this shit hole.” He hesitantly rested his hand on Tom’s shoulder hoping he wouldn’t transfer his anger to him.

Tom drew in a deep breath and released it slowly, the gleam of anger Will had expected to see in Tom’s eyes more a hint of sadness.

“What is it? What’s the matter with you?” Will lowered his voice, knowing Tom wouldn’t share much if he thought Data was listening.

“It’s Deanna, I think she’s dead.”


The question stuck in his throat, he was one hundred percent sure Deanna was still alive but something about the words and the tone in Tom’s voice made his skin crawl.

“She’ll be all right Tom. She is all right. Why the hell would you say that!?” The anger he had tried to keep from his voice shown through loud and clear.

Tom eyed him incredulously for a moment before shrugging his shoulders. “I just felt something....I’m sorry. I guess the heat and the pain is messing with my mind. Not to mention that putrid smell.”

Will sniffed the air and shook his head at Tom. “What sm..”

A flash of light stalled his question in his throat, an unexplained instinct causing him to turn off his light and dive into the dark edges of the room.

~You are ready now?~

Even in the blackness that surrounded him the sweet musical voice that floated to his ears was an unmistakable one.

<Spiel> The thought and Tom’s positive response to the woman bounced through his mind. His stomach clenched as two flashes of light brightened the room before it again fell into blackness.


It took him a second to find the voice he needed to answer Data’s call. “Over here Data.”

A beam of light from Data’s palm lantern illuminated him before he had completed his response.

“This is very peculiar Sir.”

Will nodded up at him, “That’s an understatement Captain Data. Why was Tom suddenly effected, and what in hell do the Spiel have to do with all this. There can’t be more then a few hundred Spiel in the entire galaxy .....I can’t swallow the fact that they’d be capable of instigating this mess.”

“I am afraid I can not answer your questions Captain Riker. But I believe I have developed a theory as to why the ancient edifices seem to be a focal point.”

Will pushed himself to his feet, right now any shred of information was more then he’d hoped for.

“Go on!” He encouraged eagerly.

“I have been studying the spectrum of glyphs we have passed since leaving the first cave, it appears Sir that Vulcan, Betazoid, the Klingon home world, and the planet Bajore are also represented here. I have also encountered two hundred and thirty six pentacles since my arrival....I was unable to establish a correlation until I came across the Hebrew on this wall.”

He turned the stream of his light over the sides of the cave before turning back to Will and raising an eyebrow.

“Data! Come on, we don’t have all day here.”

There were times he wished Data had a button one could push that would allow him to only stop on the important elements and override his need to point out every grueling detail.

“Yes Sir, as I was saying I was finding it impossible to put together the....”

“Just tell me what the hell it says and what it means.”

Data cocked his head in surprised, “Ah, very well. It is an excerpt from the book of revelations in the earth bible. It tells of the apostle John’s revelation concerning the rebirth of a new Jerusalem, A city that would have light like that of a crystal. He describes the rebirth as having crowns or node points, and indicated that it’s structure would be based on a golden measure, or the golden mean proportion of 1 to 1.617. Significantly, the only geometric shape that is composed entirely of golden mean proportions is a five point star...a pentacle.”

Will buried his face in his hands, taking a few calming breaths before responding to Data’s story.

“What the hell did you just say?!.....Please tell me there’s more.”

“Yes Sir, shall I reiterate my last thought.”

“NO!” Will’s objection shot from his mouth, his hands slapping down on the androids shoulders.

“Don’t repeat it, Please.....just continue....quickly.”

It was apparent Data was slightly set back by Will’s reaction, if he hadn’t known better he’d have sworn he had hurt his feelings.

“This biblical excerpt generated the controversial idea that there was a universal energy source....An unbroken line of energy that was thought to feed the universe. It is viable that the ancients were in deed instructed on the building of these structures in order to induce this force.”

“Sounds like a lot of mumbo jumbo to me.” Will responded.

“Perhaps, but I am fairly certain that the structures and the planets I named are in fact being used to feed someone. I think the black sphere at the upper point of each of the marked pentacles is home to a life form, and I believe our destruction of the ancient structures has motivated them to comeback and restore what they originally built.”

The matter of fact tone in the android’s voice did nothing to quell the anger Will was feeling in regards to the scenario that was being explained to him.

“Data, what your suggesting is that not only the Earth but dozens of other cultures have been being used for centuries to serve a single entity. You’ll have to excuse me if that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.”

“No Sir, that is not what I am suggesting, as I stated earlier I believe the compound of chemicals in the earth’s atmosphere is manmade. I am merely suggesting that an advanced life form built the edifices to harness the geomagnetic field of the planets, it is highly unlikely that the life form is responsible for the behavior of the less developed species.”

Will massaged his temples, headache didn’t even begin to describe the pain he was feeling.

“Well then please enlighten me Mister Data as to why my inferior species is aiding this unknown. I think I’m developed enough to know there is no way in hell this all a merry little mix up. Your asking me to believe that some supreme life form from the far reaches of outer space just stumbled into this perfect set up that would help them restore their needs.”

The startled look on Data’s face did nothing to alleviate the tension that was now pounding into Riker’s temples like hot nails.

“I believe I have mislead you Captain. The advanced life form is not from outer space, quite the contrary Sir.”

Will flopped back against the cave wall, the pain as his wounds hit the hard surface a welcome relief from the ramblings of the android.

Data opened his mouth to explain his last statement, Will instantly raised his hand to silence him,

“Don’t explain Data, your right, I’m an inferior life form....Just tell me what we can do stop this.”


<Are you sure she’ll be all right?>

>From inside the crystal sphere that encompassed Deanna Troi’s universe, the vaguely familiar voice scratched against the surface. She pulled deeper into the center, protecting herself from this familiar unknown that was threatening to break into her womb of purity.

She was certain she had taken all that was precious to this wonderful place, the warmest colors of the spectrum danced hypnotically in front of her eyes, the delicate smell of the Betazoid mountain lily tantalized her nose, stirring the most winsome of memories to play out in her mind. The flavor of the sweetest nectars lingered on her tongue, and the unconditional love of her imzadi tickled like silk over her bare skin, the essence of him, enhancing all her other senses and sealing her in perfection.

<You’ll be fine, Deanna.>

A pressure built up around her, the sound of the scratching intensified vibrating the fragile crystal that surrounded her..... pulling the silken memories of Will tightly around her she waited for the glass to shatter.


Tom Riker pulled his lips away from Deanna’s forehead and shook his head sadly at Admiral Picard.

“I just wish there was another way.”

“We all do Mister Riker, we all do.” The heartfelt admission left Picards lips, the deep lines of concern around his blue eyes punctuating his agreement.

“Do you think it would be all right if I sat with her for awhile?” Tom raised a hopeful eyebrow, watching picard exchange a look with Doctor Crusher before nodding a reluctant OK to him.

“Thank you.” He whispered, sitting on the stool by Deanna’s cot. “I won’t stay long, I know I’m needed at the pyramid.”

He watched the two head for the exit at the far corner of the room, his eyes widening inquisitively as Beverly turned back to face him.

“Don’t worry Tom. I’m sure Will will come around soon just as you have.” An encouraging smile played on her lips before she turned and left the room.

Tom stared at the empty doorway, the smile he’d returned to Doctor Crusher warping into a vindictive sneer.

“Over my dead body, Doc.” He mumbled under his breath, before turning his eyes to the tray of drugs that lay at Deanna’s bedside.


At first the crawl space he and Data had ventured into had seemed like an optimistic change from the narrow web of passageways they had explored earlier. But after over an hour of shifting between his knees and his belly, his optimism was becoming as numb as his arms and legs.

Data hadn’t spoken except to offer a change of direction since Will’s admission that he was an inferior life form. He was thankful for that, now if he could just stop his own mind from reiterating the android’s bizarre theories he’d be free to focus only on the pain of the tiny pebbles that had embedded themselves in the palms of his hands and his knees.

Stopping for a moment, he brushed the sharp stones from his hands, the warmth of his blood followed the easing of his pain as he dislodged the tiny fragments. Wiping his hand over his face, he raised his head enough to catch a glimpse of the flicker of light that shown promisingly in the distance.

“Looks like there’s something up ahead Data.” The unnecessary observation released itself on a raspy breath. He swallowed hard to soothe the parched feeling in his throat, running his tongue over his similarly dry lips the taste of his blood mingled with the flavor of dirt in his mouth.

“Yes Sir.” The infuriatingly unaffected voice sounded from behind him, and then again fell silent.

He winced as he rested his palms on the ground to push forward again, his mind still dwelling on the androids previous words.

It had been perhaps the third or fourth time he had turned Data’s theory over in his mind that he had remembered something Jean Luc Picard had told him that held a similarity to what Data had said. It had been an idea that perhaps the earth had been in a process of a crystalline metamorphosis, a metamorphosis generated by a severe geological cataclysm. A cataclysm that shifted the planet, changing the geomagnetic field, and in turn the bioelectrical field of the human brain. Allegedly, any shift in the planets energy could cause a corresponding transformation in the human consciousness, moving them to a higher plane of existence.

He had only listened to the conjecture out of respect for his captain, the entire concept reached beyond his knowledge of archaeology, and certainly beyond anything he would have chosen to believe.

And even now has he mentally compared the two theories it still seemed to be an all too easy road to increased awareness, an excuse to sit idly by and wait for the stars to come to you instead of reaching out for them yourself.

“Sir, I believe I have broken down two of the elements that have infiltrated the planet.”

Data’s voice startled Riker from his silent debate with himself, “You remember the rules Data, no theories, only cold hard facts.”

“I am certain of the two elements. Though it is highly unorthodox that they have combined.”

“And why is that?” Will kept up a steady crawl towards the light, right now the idea of standing up seemed far more important to him then saving the universe.

“The chemical makeup of the two are vastly different, and were used within a hundred year span of one another.”

“Data, if your certain of the chemicals, just spill it.... speculating on why they shouldn’t be here is a waste of time.” He made no attempt to keep his irritation from his voice.

“Yes Sir. The two elements I have managed to extrapolate are hydra cyanic acid, and dimethyl phosphoramleocyanidate.”

The shadows of movement that passed in front of what was apparently an arched entryway, and the fact that the crawl space had widened into standing room prevented Will from satisfying his desire to create a rock slid and bury his companion in the rubble.

Standing up he extinguished his light and pressed himself against the cave wall.....the soft glow that emanated from the obviously inhabited room not bright enough to reach their position, but on the side of caution he stayed close to the edges and lowered his voice.

“Data....if your waiting for me to comment on what you just said your wasting time again. But anytime you’d like to offer a translation befitting a secondary life form, feel free.” Will massaged the sides of his head, keeping his eyes fixed on the illuminated entrance.

“Are you experiencing excruciating pain again Sir?”

“Not yet. Is that your objective, Mister Data?” Will’s snide remark was left unanswered as they both looked at the man that now stood silhouetted in the doorway.


Will moved quickly and quietly towards the door, squatting in the shadows outside what appeared to me a makeshift medical facility. Following Tom’s movement with his eyes they finally came to rest on the all to still body of Deanna Troi.

<What the hell is he doing!> The urgent thought as he watched Tom struggle with a small vile of a deep red liquid almost bringing him to his feet.

Will fingered his phaser, as whatever Tom was attempting to do was halted by the angry and eager voices that now flooded into the room.

“We’re wasting time and manpower!” The growling snarl of a Klingon was the first to break through the jumble of irate voices.

“I agree, if the Betazoids were meant to be a part of this they would have conformed!” The voice of the Vulcon that joined in the discussion was more subdued, but still retained an anger Will had never seen from any of his species.

The room erupted into a flurry of angry sounds, the faces of all of the life forms represented in the small lab twisted and contorted with rage, all but two.

Will let his eyes linger on the reaction of the Spielians that had moved away from the angry mob and were huddled together. Uncharacteristically their violet eyes were wide and dark with fear, their usually beautiful and serene expressions twisted with an ugly horror.

Will shifted his weight, his foot slipping over the gravel, bringing the eyes of Tom Riker, and a very large angry Klingon into the darkness of the cave.

Will froze in position, locking a partially released breath in his chest as Tom’s eyes seemed to cut through the blackness and lock with his.

<Shit> The sentiment sounded in his mind as Tom moved towards the opening the Klingon on his heals.

Tom blocked the doorway, moving in front of the Klingon and sticking his head through the entrance.....this time there was no mistake as to weather Tom’s eyes had located him, his face hung only inches from his own.

“You can kiss my ass later.” The whispered wisecrack and the smack of Tom’s lips as they kissed the air caused him to release the breath he’d been holding.

“Nothing in there, my friend.” Tom barked as he turned back to the Klingon.

“Lets say you and I go kill some Betazoids!” Tom slapped the overeager Klingon on the back and guided him safely away from Will and Data..


<I knew a single objective was a crock.> Tom Riker did his best to fit into the angry crowd that was split not only in terms of their goals but as to weather the Betazoid race deserved to die.

“They must be inferior, how else can you explain why they have not been brought into the fold.” The Klingon, Tom had learned was named Daron had attached himself to Tom’s side.

Tom wrenched his neck and looked up at the huge beast, “Damn straight!”

<You big furry ape.> He kept the latter comment to himself, silently wishing everyone would get the hell out of the room and let him get back to saving the universe, which in his opinion was becoming more and more screwed up by the second.

“She is Betazoid?” With a cock of his head Doran gestured to the body of Deanna.

Tom had done his best to appear nonchalant but stay within an arms reach of Deanna but moved closer at Daron’s observation.

“She was, now she’s just one less bitch we have to worry about.” He colored his words with his best Klingon growl and sent a sidelong glance to the dark doorway where he hoped Will and Data were still hiding.

“How can you be certain?”

That wasn’t the response he was counting on, in fact it was the one he was dreading most.

“Check it out for yourself.” He reached for the tricorder on the small metal table, conveniently letting it slip out of his hand and shatter on the stone floor.

“Oops, guess you’ll just have to take my word for it, buddy.”

He held Doran’s dark disbelieving eyes, knowing instantly he was going to be faced with one of those big mother decisions he hated. Should he give himself away, losing his advantage to save one woman, or should he allow Deanna to become the first fatality in this pending war. He had no doubt what the correct decision would be, but making the right choices all the time was how life got dull. Pulling his phaser swiftly from under his shirt, he pressed it against the unsuspecting Klingon and fired. The Klingon fell with a thud, unnoticed by the crowd in the room until the smell of burning flesh filtered into the air.

Slinging Deanna over his shoulder, he figured he had about thirty seconds before the single objective of the universe, or at least those in this room, was going to be to stop him from stealing their guinea pig.

“There’s no escape Mister Riker, put her down and let us help you.” Admiral Picard stepped in front of the crowd that was moving steadily towards him.

“In your dreams Admiral.” Shifting Deanna’s weight on his shoulder he activated the armband that was concealed under his shirt.


Will had taken a half a step towards the door in the hopes of helping Tom when a spiraling light and a loud snap enveloped both Tom and Deanna. Stepping back into the shadows he motioned for Data to move away from the open doorway and the crowd of people he was certain would soon be looking for Tom.

When he was sure they were out of earshot and safely tucked into the darkness he leaned closer to Data.

“Now what?” He asked, fingering the armband that Tom had insisted they wear.

“Tom failed to mention that these were transport bands as well as sensor disrupters. I’m not sure how comfortable I am in activating this thing and not knowing where the hell I’ll end up.”

“Yes Sir, an understandable concern.” Data examined the armband under the dim light of his palm lantern. “It is the original transference converter banned by the Cardissians over fifteen years ago. It is curious that Mister Riker would be in possession of one, let alone several.”

Will leaned his head against the wall of the cave, “There’s not a whole hell of a lot about Tom Riker that isn’t curious. But I have a feeling we’ll get through this a lot faster with his help then without it.”

The unlikely statement left his mouth before he had really thought about it and for a moment he questioned if it was in fact his voice that had spoken. Four days ago he would have chosen almost anyone else in the universe as a companion, and now not only had he voiced his opinion that he needed Tom’s help but his gut reinforced the sentiment.

“Lets do it Mister Data.” He said with more gusto then he’d felt in years, resting his hand on the androids shoulder he activated the band and prayed this would be one of the rare times this primitive piece of garbage worked.


“Holy shit!” Will Riker gripped his head and stumbled forward falling into a twisted heap on the floor. Closing his eyes he covered his face to stop the room from spinning and the incredible nausea that churned in his stomach.

“Kinda chews you up and spits you out, doesn’t it?”

Will opened his eyes behind his hands, spreading his fingers to look beyond them, he attempted to figure out which of the seven or eight Tom Rikers that spun in front of his eyes had spoken.

“You should check and see that all your body parts are in there proper places, if you know what I mean.”

Will flung his arms out to his sides and lay spread eagle on the lightly carpeted floor, he knew the deadly serious expression on Tom’s face was only a mask but on the side of caution he took a mental survey of his anatomy.

“Willy Winkie located and functioning?”

“Shut up Tom.” Will slowly pushed himself off the floor, ignoring Tom’s irritating chuckle. “Where’s Deanna?”

Tom’s grin waned as he gestured with his chin to the stairway. “She’s in the bedroom, I grabbed both of the vials from the table beside her bed, but I know how touchy that stuff is, thought maybe tin man may have a better idea of how to administer the antidote.”

Will hurried to the stairway stopping on the third step, there was an air of familiarity about this place, something in the smell and the squeak as he had started up the steps stirred an almost nostalgic feeling.

“I know this place.”

“I should hope so, it’s Dad’s old cabin.....and my new home.” Will met Tom’s lopsided grin with one of his own.

“Yea, that’s it. I had almost forgot about this place.” He massaged the railing, a million childhood memories filtered through his mind in a heartbeat before his logical mind kicked in. “Isn’t this kind of a stupid place for us to be.....don’t you think this is one of the first places they’re going to look.”

Tom shrugged off Will’s concern. “No, I’ve screwed em all too many times, no one in the federation would ever think Tom Riker would do something so dumb.”

Will rolled his eyes to the ceiling and headed up the stairs. “You’re a cocky son of a bitch that’s for sure. Maybe you should ask Data to explain a few of his theories to ya on your way up.” Will flipped a malicious smile over his shoulder before going into the bedroom.


“You’ll be back to us soon.” Will lightly kissed Deanna’s unresponsive lips and trailed his fingertips over her face. He knew she was in there, but the sense of her that normally shined through so clearly in his mind had dimmed to only a whisper, that combined with the fact that he had never seen her so still caused his heart to tighten.

“That’s unbelievable Data!” Tom’s fired up voice shot into the room before he did.

“Did he tell you the chemicals he’s been able to identify in the air?”

“Yea, he did.” Will raised his brows as Tom paced excitedly around the room....this was certainly not the reaction he’d expected when he’d asked Data to explain his theories, Tom looked totally revitalized and showed absolutely no signs of a headache.

“That should have been the first thing you told me when you got here.” Tom stopped pacing and plunged his hands into his pockets. “I mean, I don’t know what the hell it means but it’s a perfectly ironic little twist.”

“Well, your going to have to explain it to me because I didn’t understand most of what Data had to say.” He narrowed his eyes at Data and leaned back on the wall.

“I used your suggestion Captain Riker and explained to Tom as if he were a secondary life form.”

Tom stopped grinning only long enough to send a sideways sneer to Data before resuming his ardent enthusiasm.

“The chemicals in the air are a combination of Tabun X and Zyklon B, two of the most potent chemical weapons ever used on this planet. The same two weapons that were used against the Jews in World War 2 and the Caucasians in World War 3 have combined to create a vapor that instead of aiding in the segregation process of the wars generates the opposite. Get it?!”

“Yea, I get it....but was it self generated or created by someone else? And now that we know what it is, is there anyway to get rid of it?” Will widened his eyes questioningly, he certainly didn’t share Tom’s enthusiasm on this, in fact in his opinion this whole little scenario was playing out like a bad science fiction novel.

“You sure now how to kill a party. I can’t be....” Tom’s words fell off as a bright light flashed behind him, moving out of the way of the phaser Will had aimed behind him he turned towards the intruders.

“We need you.” The two scantly clad Spiel spoke in unison, their request floating over their sensuous lips and punctuated by the look of longing partially hidden behind the wisps of golden silk that fell around their violet eyes.

Will heard Tom’s devilish chuckle before he turned around and presented his equally wicked grin. “Can’t tell ya how many times I played this one out in my head.”


Will almost allowed himself to be pulled into the fantasy he knew was spinning through Tom’s mind, the similar smirk that was threatening to break over his face stifled by his concern for Deanna.

“You need us?! Sorry lady but I can’t buy that one.” His voice had elevated a few pegs above his level of intention as he pushed himself off the bed and moved closer to the two Spiel.

“Our expectations were too high, our intentions were to help your kind.” The smaller of the two woman whispered the confession, shifting her eyes between the two Rikers.

“Looks to me like your intentions were to help your kind and it kinda came back and grabbed you by the.....”

Tom caught Will’s arm, stopping his angry words and the phaser he was waving in the ladies faces to punctuate his thoughts.

He dragged Will away from the Spiel, “Will ya stop waving that stupid thing around.” Tom tipped his head to the phaser, “I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but we’re doing a pretty lousy job of saving the universe. Might make more sense if we play nice nice, at least until we find out what they need us for.”

Will turned an uneasy frown to Deanna before eyeing Tom skeptically, “I’d say by their comment they’ve pretty much admitted to being the ones responsible for this mess. I hope your not suggesting we trust them....... The most deadly of bites tend to be inflicted by the most beautiful of creatures.”

“Don’t I know that.” Tom sighed a wholehearted agreement, “I just don’t think we should kick them out of bed just yet.”

Will let Tom’s suggestion hang for a moment before closing his eyes and slowly nodding an agreement.

“OK ladies please continue, you were saying your objective was to help us?” Tom moved in front of Will, the spielians avoiding Will’s eyes and fixing their spellbinding gaze on Tom.

“We may not interfere in the process of life.” The tone of the Spiel’s statement sounded more like a seductive offer, then a pledge of certitude.

Will had to bite his lip to prevent more angry words from shooting from his mouth in response to the Spiel’s statement.

“So then your saying your not responsible for the vapor that has transformed the galaxy?” Tom’s jaw tightened as he spoke, Will was certain he was finding it just as difficult as he was to keep the indignation out of his voice. The Spiel’s flirtatious expressions and wistful voices only made it seem more likely that they were merely talking in circles to confuse, instead of help.

“Not exactly.” The smaller of the two Spiel uttered the words and traced her fingers over Tom’s tightened jaw.

Tom drew in a deep breath slapping his hand firmly around the tiny wrist of the Spiel.

“Ok pretty lady, that’s it! I’ve had a real shitty week...... I’m tired, I’m hungry, and every muscle in my body aches, so if this is one of your Spielian sex games, I’m neither willing or able to play. So either get to the point or get out!”

The Speil’s violet eyes darkened, her body shrinking under Tom’s overpowering presence.

“Glad you took over there Tom, not sure I could have kept my cool as well as you did.”

Tom released the spiel’s wrist and the shaky breath he’d been holding, turning to address Will’s sarcastic remark.

“You must trust us.” The melodic voice came from behind them, both Rikers turning towards a third Spielian that stood over Deanna. “If we help her, will you help us?”

“Get away from her!” The warning fired from Will’s mouth, his attempt to move towards Deanna halted.

“I can’t move!”

Tom’s panic ridden face mirrored Will’s, both brothers and Captain Data seemingly glued where they stood.

Will lifted the phaser he still held in his hand, aiming it at the Spiel who was moving her hands over the still form of Deanna. “I’ll use this...back away from her!”

The Spiel offered the phaser a momentary look before it burst into flames in Will’s hand. “Son of a....”

Dropping the heated phaser at his feet he massaged his hand and widened his eyes at Tom.

Tom met his concerned gaze with one of his own.

“Jesus” Tom said, turning back to the small spiel he had just laid into, “I hope rejection of Spiel sex games doesn’t warrant the same treatment.”

“Yea, think I’d apologize if I were you, hate to imagine what her target would be.”

He watched Tom shudder before offering a penitent grin to the Spiel behind him.


With the sound of Deanna’s voice Will was freed from his stationary position, he moved quickly to the bed.

“Deanna, are you all right?” He asked, cradling her face in his hands and pressing a kiss to her forehead.

“I’m fine, I feel wonderful.” She stretched her arms, her eyes and smile still heavy with the remains of sleep. “Where are we? What happened?”

“It’s a long story Deanna.” He said, pulling her against him and moving his attentions back to the Spiel.

“You trust us now?” Will held on to Deanna and watched Tom as he moved his eyes over the inquiring Spiel and the smoldering phaser on the floor.

“OK? Lets say we trust you now. But we can’t help you if you keep skirting the truth.”

He presented each of the Spiel with one of his best grins, the smaller one, the one he had reprimanded earlier pushed towards him, taking his wrist in her hand.

Tom stiffened as she held it in hers before turning it over and tickling her tongue over the inside of his wrist.

“Now see, this is what I mean about skirting the issue......I’m not sure this is going to benefit us in any way.” He cleared his throat and gently pulled his arm from the tiny Spielian.

“What’s the matter with him Will? Why is he acting like that?” Deanna pressed close to Will’s ear, his grin widening at Tom’s uncomfortable stance.

“Let’s just say the term hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, has an all new meaning for Tom.”

Deanna raised a curious eyebrow, her next question silenced by the sounds of shuttle engines from outside.

Three long strides brought Tom to the window, pulling back the ivory curtains he peered down at their unexpected guest. “Great! It’s Picard and his minions.”

He spun around around to Will and unsnapped his phaser.

“What are you gonna do, shot em?”

“The armbands will just beam us back into the lions den ....it’s evident our little Spielian buddies aren’t going to help us.” He gestured with his chin to the Spiel that had gathered in the corner of the room, huddled together, whispering quietly. “So unless you have another plan.”

Will’s response was lost on the brilliant flash of light that engulfed the room and the gentle tug of a mysterious transport beam.



His one word expression all he could think of to describe wherever the unusual transport had brought them. He inhaled a deep breath, feeling his lungs with an air so sweet the taste lingered on the back of his tongue.

He pushed his eyes past the deep green meadow, past the icy blue lake that shimmered under an incandescent sun, to the city in the distance.....a city like nothing he had ever seen or even dreamed could exist.

Pillars of crystal seemed to reach into the turquoise sky, a palette of colors reflected off the towering structures, sending multicolored beams of light that reached out over the landscape, painting it with a halo of sparkling lights that danced like fireflies through the perfect sky.

He returned Deanna’s awe struck smile, “This is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.” Deanna’s appreciation for the perfect atmosphere provoked an almost instinctive reaction from Tom.

“Yea, that’s probably exactly what the wicked witch of the east thought before someone dropped a house on her.”

Tom exchanged a knowing look with Will, both men turning their eyes to the all to perfect sky.


“Where’s Data!” He had been so caught up in Tom’s suspicions about the unusually perfect place he hadn’t even noticed the android was gone. He spun around surveying the lush green meadow, squinting against the blinding sun.

“Probably in the same place as our phasers and tricorders.” Tom observed, patting his hip where his tricorder had once hung. “Seems someone doesn’t want to offer us any advantages.”

He nodded a silent agreement to Tom before lowering his eyes to Deanna, “Are you sensing anything?”

Deanna drew in a deep breath, the look of serenity on her face did nothing to alleviate the uneasy feeling that was wrapping itself tighter around his gut.

She shook her head in frustration. “I’m sensing the presence of many lower life forms, but nothing I would consider sentient. It’s more like a nuance, an aura of calm that seems to exude from all the elements. The only negativity I feel in this place is stemming from you and Tom.” She passed her wistful expression between the brothers, finally settling her eyes on Tom, “You seem particularly tense.”

“I’m not tense Deanna.” Tom clenched and unclenched his fist at his side, if he’d been wearing a six-gun Will would have been certain he was about to draw.

“I’m bull shit! Ya know while you were napping, Will and I were getting close to solving this mystery. You’ll have to excuse me if I can’t accept being sentenced to a life in the emerald city while the entire universe crashes down around us.”

“Hey, that’s enough!” Will stepped in front of Tom, “She only answered a question, she never said she wanted to stay here.”

He held his brothers gaze until he had silently conveyed that he understood, no, completely agreed with his feeling of helplessness.

“If it was the Spiel that brought us here, if this is their home, I wouldn’t be able to sense them at all. The Spiel are unreadable to me.” Deanna rested her hand on Tom’s arm as she spoke, his venomous look tempering with her touch.

“I don’t know Deanna, the Spiel certainly didn’t look like they were going to help us in anyway. And if my knowledge of Spielian history is correct they don’t have a home planet.”

“He’s right Deanna, history states the Spiel are scattered throughout the galaxy. Their home planet’s sun went nova very quickly, only a handful were able to escape.”

But as he spoke the scientific fact, a nagging little voice kept pulling at his illogical side......What if the legends about the Spiel were more then fiction, what if the mythical race legend to inhabit the earth millions of years before the evolutionary process of man began was true.

He shook his head, ridding himself of the unlikely idea, “I say we head for the city, somebody had to build that thing.”

His suggestion brought nods of approval from Tom and Deanna.

“Sure would feel better if I had a phaser, or at the very least a big stick. I don’t like the idea of walking into the unknown unarmed.”

Tom offering aloud what Will had been silently wishing.


The flash of the sun’s light off the crystal structures was almost blinding the closer the three got to the elaborate city.

“I don’t like this.” Tom whispered over Deanna’s head, “It’s too damn quiet.”

Will tighten his hold on Deanna’s hand, sending an unspoken agreement to Tom.

“Maybe there’s no one here.” Deanna’s observation almost lost on the gentle hum that emanated from the towering gates that stood ominously at the entrance to this city of glass.

“Yea, and maybe I’m saving my virginity for the right woman.” Tom retorted sarcastically, never taking his eyes off of the flickering gates.

“What do you think they’re charged with?” Will released Deanna’s hand and moved closer to the gates, Tom on his heals.

“No clue, but look at the floor of the square.” Tom cocked his head towards the marble floor behind the sparkling gates. “More pentacles.”

Will studied the ivory floor, twelve pentacles were etched in the surface, intricately laced into a bizarre geometric shape, he surmised to be an Icosahedron. Each node held an image he couldn’t make out through the gate, each image domed in an amber shell, some alive with vibrant lights while others remained dark and dormant.

“Sure wish I could get in there.” His wish released on a deep frustrated sigh, followed by a loud click and a steady creak as the gates opened.

Both brothers jumped back to where Deanna was still standing, Will cradling his hand around the back of her neck and offering Tom a surprised and dubious look.

Tom flashed a grin to Will tilting his head towards the gate. “It was your wish, so why don’t you go first.”

“Why don’t we both go together.” Will emended, releasing his hold on Deanna’s neck.

“No Will, let Tom go first.” Deanna shot urgently in front of Will.

“Geeze Deanna, don’t sugarcoat it, why don’t you just come right out and say I’m the dispensable one.” Tom scrunched his face in disgust, but Will recognized the face and knew he was only badgering Deanna.

Yet this was the second, what he considered to be out of character behaviors for the two of them, Tom’s lashing out at Deanna earlier had bothered him, and somehow Deanna not overriding her need to speak out on who went first just didn’t sit well with him. Something was going on between the two of them and once Tom was done with his melodrama he intended to find out what.

“That’s not what I meant, this is your forte ....challenging the unknown, defying death, stirring up trouble, I mean you do have a reputation for being kind of a...a roué.” Deanna’s excuse for her behavior tumbled from her mouth.

“A roué?!” Tom’s perfectly somber face broke into an arrogant smile, Will was sure Tom probably considered Deanna’s comment the highest form of flattery.

“Hear that Will, I’m a roué!” He announced proudly.

“Yea, yea and when you get home you can tell your wife and kid what a roué you are.”

Deanna’s startled reaction caught in her throat, a rumble like thunder came simultaneously with the steady vibration of the ground.

Tom stumbled with the movements, his eyes pulled upward towards the crystal pillars that shook and creaked with the rock of the planet.

“This is a bad place to be!” He shouted to Will, pointing upward towards the increased sway of the glass structures.

Will nodded an acknowledgment, taking a firm hold on Deanna he staggered forward pulling her away from the threat of the fracturing crystals. Deanna stumbled forward, Will catching her before she hit the ground. A powerful rush of air burst from in front of them, the atmosphere sparking and snapping behind the kinetic power of the wind that threatened to push them back into the city.

“Hang on!” His voice scarcely carrying over the sounds of the grumbling planet and the whoosh of the hurricane force gusts.

“I know what this is!” He screamed over the sounds, huddling Deanna behind the largest most stable boulder he could find.

“Tom!” He turned his attentions back to the city, “Tom!”

He raised a finger of warning to Deanna and staggered back towards the city, the wind at his back pushing him relentlessly forward.

“Shit.” He squinted past the debris that swirled in front of the gates, the sound of the shattering crystals as they fought to hold on against the enormous power of the elements pulled his gaze upward.


The rapid beating of his heart stalled in his chest with the sight of Tom’s unconscious body and the deafening crack of the pillar losing it’s battle with the wind.

He flung himself forward on the force of the wind, the peak of the pillar plummeting like a crystal dagger towards Tom’s still body.


Tom Riker’s journey back into the conscious came with what felt like a five hundred pound weight landing on his chest and a searing pain at the base of his shoulder.

‘What are you doing?!” He grunted the words through clenched teeth, vying to push his assailant off the top of him.

“I’m saving you.”

“Your killing me.....Get off!”

The howling wind came to an abrupt halt, the ground became still, the tiny traces of glass that had spiraled on the wind fell like deadly rain drops from the sky.

Will covered Tom’s face with his shoulders, protecting his own against Tom’s now still body. The icy rain slowly abated, Will lifting his face from Tom’s shoulder and his chest from his face.

“Once this is over I’m enrolling you in a major exercise program.” He grunted, rolling out from under Will.

“Are you all right?” He asked, pressing his hand against his shoulder stopping the blood that trickled from the slicing wound.

“I am right now, but I have a feeling while these pieces of glass are being removed from my back life is gonna suck.” Will turned with a groan, “How’s your shoulder?”

“It’s nothing, just a scratch.”

He watched Will’s disbelieving expression as the blood seeped through his fingers, his pale blue shirt turning black from the steady release of blood.

“Where’s Deanna?”

“I’m right here.” Deanna ran into the confines of the city gates, “Gods......look at you two.” She gasped, pulling her shirt over her head and starting immediately to treat Tom’s sliced shoulder.

“I’m all right Deanna....Really!.” He winced against the pain as she put more pressure on the wound.

“You should take care of Will, I can hold this.” He replaced her hand with his own, sending a vindictive grin to Will.

“Probably won’t hurt that much, couldn’t be more then forty or fifty tiny little needles of glass in there.” He chuckled at the scowl on Will’s face.

“I won’t be laying on my back for awhile, that’s for sure.” He flinched as Deanna removed one of the larger pieces of glass.

Tom tried to hide his own distaste for the pain he was sure Will was experiencing ....”I wouldn’t worry about it Will, being on top has always worked better for me anyway.”

Deanna’s stern expression stilled Tom’s fun and the added force she used to remove the glass from Will’s back stopped any retort he had planed on making.

“I wish you two would take things a little more seriously. Sometimes I think you enjoy this!”

“We did get you down to your underwear awfully q.... Ouch, De-an-na!” Will shot a look over his shoulder, “You could lighten up a little.”

“I don’t want to lighten up, we don’t know what caused that anomaly, or if it will happen again.” .

“Oh it’s going to happen again, I can guarantee that.” Will offered convincingly. “I think Data was right, I think the black sphere at the peak of all the pentacles is rerouting power from the sources we’ve seen. And I also think that’s where we are, but I don’t think it’s a planet, at least not in our dimension.” Tom narrowed his eyes at Will, and finished tying his bandage around his shoulder.

“That disturbance caused a phase shift in the atmosphere. I think it was a gateway, an unstable vortex between our dimension and this one.”

“Dimensional shifting? Come on Will, why..... who. And why the hell would they destroy their own city? “ Tom’s eyes darkened, looking beyond Will to the still intact pentacles that now lay under the glassy dust. “If what your saying were true or possible, then we’re dealing with an unknown life form that is using the entire universe for it’s purposes?”

“Maybe?” Tom studied Will’s expression closely, behind the pain Deanna was causing him, he recognized the look that suggested Will had a theory he had pretty much decided was fact.

“You think it’s the Spiel, don’t you!? Your buying into that ancient mythical bullshit that the Spiel were sent here millions of years ago from heaven as the original inhabitants of the galaxy. I think your pain is affecting your brain......Don’t you think heaven would be built a hell of a lot better then this?!” He gestured around himself to the shattered city.

“It does sound a little far fetched Will.” Deanna interrupted, “But he is right about the distortion, I saw what he’s referring to.” She added, turning her attentions to Tom.

Tom’s first instinct of agreeing with Deanna remained unspoken, right now he was more interested in the lack of blood that was seeping not only from the gash in his shoulder but the tiny puncture wounds on Will’s back.

He wasn’t sure if it was worth mentioning, more then likely it would only fuel Will’s convoluted theory that a supreme race was responsible not only for the state of the universe but their well being as well. Instead of carrying the conversation any further he studied the amber domes that lined the courtyard of this crumbling city.

“All five of theses domes are lit...they seem to be the only ones lit in sequence.” He brushed some of the debris off the domes. “I think they’re all Vulcan temples. Wonder what that means?” The gaze he had lifted to Will and Deanna distorted slowly into a glimmer of blue and white light, the delicate pull of the unknown transporter fading this world out of view.


The sound and smell of the ocean reached Will’s senses before the release of the transporter allowed his eyes to focus on their new surroundings. He took a mental survey of his companions, thankful they’d all ended up at the same place this time.

“I’m starting to feel like a chess piece being moved around a board.” He squeezed Deanna’s hand and threw a sideways glance to Tom.

“Yea, I’d say we’re definitely a pawn in someone’s game.” The grimace on Tom’s face at being manipulated and maneuvered by some unknown something Will thoroughly understood and totally agreed with.

“Maybe his?” Will turned away from the crashing waves to the crest of the hill behind them.

“Moai?” Tom moved up the hill slowly as if the giant statue was going to challenge his presence.

“Wasn’t Easter Island one of the places Data mentioned as being at the tip of one of the pentacles?” Deanna nodded up to Will, Will unable to hide his chuckle at the painstakingly slow speed at which Tom was approaching the statue.

“It’s not going to bite you Tom.”

Tom spun around and glared at Will, “How can you be so sure....I didn’t expect to become a shish kabob in the emerald city either.”

“Am I detecting a hint of paranoia .......I thought you were a big strong adventurer?” Deanna smiled at Will, Tom transferring his sneer to her.

“Sarcasm doesn’t flatter you Deanna. You’re making me rethink m....” Tom held up his hand,

“Do you hear that buzzing noise?” He dropped to his knees as he spoke, moving his hands over the base of the Moai.

“Look at this?”

Will squatted beside him, moving his hand over the spot Tom had called his attention to, his fingers immediately feeling the vibration coming from inside the base.

“Give me that rock!” He gestured with his head to the flat stone beside Tom.

He maneuvered the rock through the creases he’d found with his fingers, a small amount of sandy dirt fell from the crevices before the base of the statue fell open.

“This is weird.”

Both Rikers laid on their bellies looking into the small crevice that appeared to slide downward into the earth.

“Think we could fit in there?”

They nodded to each other after a moment of thought before looking up to the appearance of dread on Deanna’s face.

“We’re not going in there? Tell me we’re not going in there?”

“There something in there Deanna, and since this is the square we’ve been transferred to, it makes sense that we should explore it.”

Both Rikers raised their brows, boyish grins of adventure threatening their identical faces.

“Oh fine.” She relented, falling to her knees beside them and following Will into the tiny crawl space. “Looks like the perfect habitat for spiders too.” She added, appreciating the sudden shift in Tom’s expression before he reluctantly followed her into the narrow tunnel.


“Well, isn’t this cozy.” Tom offered, moving down the passageway their climb downward had brought them to. He heard Deanna and Will mumbling behind him, he didn’t need to ask what they were sharing he was sure they were just as suspicious as he was about this place they’d ended up in. Conveniently the metal lined corridors they were walking through were illuminated by some kind of primitive lighting that certainly suggested either someone was concerned that they find whatever it was they were looking for, or someone wanted to be able to see what they found. Either way this situation was leaving a nasty taste in his mouth and twisting the knife that had penetrated his gut when this whole thing began. Will moved up beside him before he cautiously turned the first corner, both of them sharing a look at the crates piled in the back of the small room. “It’s a virtual treasure-trove of antique weapons!” Will ripped open a crate as he spoke, Tom turned a semi automatic assault rifle in his hands. “No stun setting on this baby that’s for damn sure.” He rolled his eyes at Deanna, doing his best to look just as disturbed as she was by the vast assortment of weaponry, when honestly he felt more like a kid in a candy shop. “Look at this!” Will looked away from the crate he’d been digging through, proudly holding up what Tom deemed to be an M16. “Incredible!” Will added, his grin slipping as he turned his attention to Deanna. “I’m only interested in the history here Deanna, these guns are hundreds of years old.” “Too bad really, we could use some protection.” He waved off Deanna’s scolding expression, “Not sure I’d have the nugs to fire one of these.” Tom widened his eyes at Will, his comment readily agreed with. Tom pried open another crate as Will moved further back behind the boxes, the sound of Deanna’s gasp caused him to pull his head from the crate in time to be thrown towards her by the deafening explosion that rocked the small room. Debris fell from the timeworn ceiling, the room again jolted by a more intense blast, he stumbled with the sensation throwing himself on top of Deanna to protect her from the large fragments of metal that fell from the ceiling. “I’m all right Tom..get off.” Deanna’s appeal was muffled as she spoke against Tom’s chest. He pushed up on his forearms looking down at her dazed expression, “We always did make the earth move.” He waggled his eyebrows playfully. “Get off.” He stilled his grin as she tried to struggle out from under him, instinct and the look of disdain on her face suggesting this would be a good time to grant her request. “Guess the thrill is gone.” He shrugged, helping her to her feet while moving his eyes over the room, visually checking for Will. “Where’s Will?!” She broke free of Tom’s hold on her hands, moving urgently towards the back of the bunker. He followed behind her distractedly his thoughts focusing more on the reason for Deanna’s sudden gasp and the look of utter shock on her face before the explosion, then finding Will. He was relieved when Will was sitting slightly stunned but unharmed at the base of one of the crates. “Ok Deanna, he’s fine.....Now tell me what the hell caused your reaction before the roof fell in?” He shifted his weight impatiently, astutely aware of the look of anxiety in her dark eyes and the increased pressure she had just put on Will’s hand. He exchanged a look with Will that told him he was also aware that whatever Deanna had felt she was uncertain of how to to express it. “I can’t be sure.” She shook her head, “I felt pleasure and satisfaction both overshadowed by a feeling of desperate panic.” Tom blew out a breath of frustration, “Deanna, I saw your face....and it sure as hell wasn’t pleasure or satisfaction you were feeling......It was shock.....why damn it!” He saw her stiffen as his voice elevated, he chose to ignore it as well as the reproving look he was sure Will was sending his way, instead targeting her with an impatient stare. “The emotions were just as I said Tom, but the source.... I’m certain it was Betazoid.” “Betazoid!” The look of comfort Will had been offering Deanna snapped to Tom immediately shifting into the same agitated expression that had spread over Tom’s face. “The Betazoids have been the victims in this the entire time.... Why.... even if a few escaped the circumstances would those emotions be the prevalent ones?” Tom massaged his chin thoughtfully, he didn’t like what he was thinking and he honestly hoped when he voiced it Will would be able to make it sound as wrong as it did right this instant. “We’ve overlooked the Betazoids and maybe we shouldn’t have.” He avoided looking at Deanna but kept his eyes locked on Will, gauging his reaction to what he was about to say, “What better way to divert suspicion then to make it appear that the race responsible is in fact the one being victimized.” He could almost feel Deanna’s eyes burning through him, his hope that Will was going to shoot down his theory deflated by the look of hesitant agreement in his eyes. “There is the question of why?” He managed a sideways glance to Deanna, the look of shock and horror on her face encouraging him to say something that might suggest he was wrong. That idea was silenced as Will did just the opposite. “In the evolutionary process the Betazoid mind is already a step ahead of most of the others in the galaxy. Data said he detected an increase in the geomagnetic field, a large enough increase would eventually elevate the bioelectrical field of the brain. It would push all life forms to a higher level of consciousness, but none more so then the Betazoids.” Tom nodded to Will, harnessing energy had seem to be a constant through this whole thing and suspecting a race as advanced as the Betazoids made a lot more sense then suspecting a handful of Spiel. “Betazed is peaceful race, we have been for thousands of years!” Deanna shot to her feet moving her dark eyes between the brothers. “Deanna, all it takes is one determined nut case to rally the troops!” Will held Deanna’s shoulders as he shared the fact the Earth’s history had proven over and over. “No! It doesn’t make sense.....they’re declaring war on the betazoids. Will, they’re killing them remember?” Tom watched the pained look on Will’s face, grateful that it was Will and not him captured by the dark desperate eyes. He stood quietly by, turning everything over in his mind until Will finally turned away from Deanna and raised a questioning brow at him. “She has a point Tom.” Tom shook his head slowly, “I don’t think so. I think somebody’s plan turned around and grabbed em by the balls and the pain is causing em to squirm.” He leaned against the crates beside him, a ghost of a smile pulling at his unshaven face, “I think the predator has accidentally become the prey, and the son of a bitch just backed himself in a corner.”


Conveniently in the labyrinth of corridors only certain pathways were illuminated, once again guiding them like pawns across a chess board.

“I’d love to know what the hell these guns are going to do for us?” Will questioned Tom’s insistence that they bring the obsolete and unusable weapons along on their quest.

“Subterfuge, at least we look menacing.”

“And what happens if we’re challenged, do we aim and say bang?” He raised his eyes questioningly, Tom only snickered.

He shook his head and squeezed Deanna’s hand, he wasn’t comfortable with Tom’s cavalier attitude. Maybe he’d been responsible for too many lives too many times, but he couldn’t seem to fire up his engines about walking unarmed into the unknown again.

Will shared a look with Tom as they turned the next corner, “I think we found the wizard.” Tom whispered.

Will drew in a deep breath, the long corridor in front of them only lit by a fiery red light emanating from the opening at the very end.

Tom took a step forward, Will slapped his hand on his shoulder to stop his progress, “I don’t think we should all go. You and Deanna stay here.”

“Oh God.....he’s launched into command mode.” Tom grinned at Deanna before meeting Will’s obstinate expression, “I’m just going to assume you lost your mind for a minute, and your not actually waiting for me to throw back my shoulders and say aye.”

Will closed his eyes and shook his head, “We don’t know what we’re walking into, I sure as hell don’t expect you to salute, but I also don’t plan on leading Deanna into a trap.”

“I’m not sensing any life forms.” Deanna broke in and for the moment broke up the battle of wills that was threatening.

Tom narrowed his eyes at Deanna, “I don’t mean to burst your empathic bubble, but someone has to be detonating those charges. And if it’s a Betazoid, wouldn’t he be able to block your sensors, so to speak.” Tom softened his snide remark with a wink, but from the frown on Deanna’s face she wasn’t moved by it.

“I would at least sense a presence Tom.” She replied in defense of her observation.

Will slipped his arm around her shoulders, “Maybe it’s someone you can’t sense....like Spiel.”

Tom rolled his eyes, “You just can’t put that to rest can you Will.” He held his brother’s eyes for a moment, “If you hadn’t transformed into “Captain Riker” we could have checked out the room by now.” He waggled his brows and cocked his head towards the end of the corridor, “What’d ya say? All for one?”

Will slouched his shoulders and sent a sideways glance to Deanna, “And one for all.” He grumbled.


“It’s empty.” Tom whispered, pulling himself back into the hallway, “You remember how to say bang.” He added before stepping inside the room.

The crimson light pulsed erratically from behind two marble statues, causing deceiving shadows to play over the obsidian walls.

“Spiel.” Will whispered.

Pulling Deanna behind him he moved closer to the intricately carved images that seemed to guard the large pit behind them.

Tom only glanced at them, his fascination with ancient artifacts, unknown glyphs and especially Spiel was wearing thin. He was sick of screwing around with the unknown, he was almost hoping they’d walk into a room full of psychotic Betazoids, just so they’d have something tangible to confront.

The room veered off into another tiny chamber, the entrance so low he had to duck his head to move inside.

His eyes slid over the contents of the room, a grin simultaneously sliding over his face....it appeared he had finally stumbled on something that slightly resembled the 24th century. PADDS and weapons were strewn over the floor, large metal crates were stockpiled against the walls, but more importantly were the vials and vials of the red liquid Beverly Crusher had used on Deanna.

<Blood of the damned.> He turned to go back and tell Will and Deanna, a flash of blue light meshing with the red pulse in the other room stopping his movements.

~Stay where you are~ The baritone voice barked the order.

Tom crept slowly away from the exit and pressed himself behind one of the large metal crates. From the sound of the footfalls coming from the other room, he could tell more then one person had just zeroed in on Will and Deanna.

~Where is the other one like you?~

~He’s dead~

Tom heard Will’s response and tried to clear his mind. If they were Betazoids, he only hoped that his and Wills identical thought patterns might enable them to pull this off.

There was a long silence before another man’s voice sounded. ~You’re fighting the inevitable, you have nothing to fear, either of you, you’ve both proven that you will withstand the biomagnetic shift.~

~Why are you doing this.....you’ve caused a war to be waged against your own species?~

Tom nodded to himself, he appreciated Will and Deanna’s efforts to feed him as much information as they could.

Merely an error in judgment. But no matter, we’re increasing the atmospheric toxin. It will all be behind us soon. Unfortunately, because of our miscalculation, certain species will be destroyed.~

The matter a fact tone in this bastard’s voice tightened Tom’s stomach, his attempt at emotionless momentarily fell prey to his own anger.

~Wait, I’m not certain they are the only two here.~ A female voice sounded the warning and was followed by the sound of footfalls moving closer to the tiny room.

~You son of a bitch!~ Will’s angry words exploded through the chamber stilling the foot steps.

The sound of disrupter fire, Deanna’s scream, and the flash of a transporter hit Tom’s senses before the room fell silent.

He stayed crouched behind the crate, listening for anything that would tell him he was not alone before guardedly moving out. He knew Will had blasted his anger to disguise his from the Betazoids, and since he had only recently decided Will Riker was not the horse’s ass he’d thought that he was, he wasn’t looking forward to finding him dead in the other room.

Picking up one of the laser rifles he made his way through the opening, a breath of relief fleeing his lungs...... Nothing was left in the wake of their visitors and thankfully that included Will’s dead body.

He moved closer to the pit, sneering at the Spiel statues as he passed, “If I never see another Spiel again, it’ll be too soon.” He grunted, lowering his eyes into the glowing abyss below him.

<Wonder what’s in there?> He thought, eyeing the narrow ladder at his feet, <Do I want to know what’s in there is a better question?>

He stepped back from the edge and pondered his decision, he was finding the silence maddening, and he hated to admit it, but he wished Will was here to tell him venturing into an unknown pit was a reckless thing to do. He smiled at the irony of the thought and ran his fingers through his tousled hair..

~Don’t give up Tom, your instincts are almost always right.~ He startled, stumbling back as the voice sounded through his mind.

“Oh God, I hate that.” He mumbled, running his hand over the back of his neck, calming the hairs that were standing on end. It had been a thousand years since Deanna had spoken to him like this, and it scared the crap out of him just as much now as it had the very first time.

chapter 19

Tom lowered his eyes to the ground below him, from his position on the ladder it appeared to be the same as the sheets of obsidian that lined the walls of the rooms above. He struggled with the weapons he’d brought with him, admitting to himself maybe he’d gone a little overboard in bringing seven laser rifles and two hand helds.

He stopped about five rungs from the bottom, hoping to survey not only the source of the red light, but the hissing sound that had grown louder the further he descended. There appeared to be more statues against the back wall, he stepped down another rung.

He squinted his eyes against the blinding light, a familiar hum and a burst of blue instinctively causing him to release his hold on the ladder and fall to the ground.

<Guess they’re not all statues.> He thought to himself, dumping all but one of the laser rifles and rolling away from the next blast of phaser fire. He repeatedly fired his own, unable to locate the source against the steady red glow....he only hoped the shooter was having the same problem.

“Surrender!” The order distorted itself on an echo that bounced off the walls of the pit.

<Not likely> He sneered to himself, scanning the room for someplace anyplace where he could make good on his intentions not to surrender. Several large cylinders were stacked against the wall beside him, <that’ll work>

“Others are coming!”

<That’s what they all say.> He rolled his eyes at what he had chosen to believe to be an idle threat, and fumbled with the firing mechanism for the rifle. He waited until the hum of the rifle reached the strained pitch he was aiming for before standing up.

<Ok, dipshit....betray yourself>

His movement generated the result he was hoping for, the blue light of the phaser barely missed him, but allowed him to locate the fool that was firing it.

“I surrender!” He shouted, whipping the now screeching laser rifle and scrambling for the barrels. The explosion from the overloaded rifle was almost immediate, he covered his head with his hands and hoped this little angel that had set up residence on his shoulder was still doing her job.

A low pitched scream and the smell of burning flesh answered his question, now all he had to do was pray his little kA-boom didn’t call in the rest of the goon patrol.

After a moment of silence he peered around the barrel, holding one of the smaller laser weapons firmly in his hand.

He moved cautiously across the room, noting that his feet seemed to be sinking into the obsidian floor as though it were mud instead of rock. He’d never seen anything like it before, it was as though the rock was breaking down, degenerating. He shrugged it off and cast only a sidelong glance to the sizzling body of his victim, from the extend of the injuries to his face it was hard to tell what race he was, or had been.

“Sorry pal, but it was me or you.”

His shoulders stiffened as he approached the statues he’d seen from the ladder, identical to the ones above...... He knew if Will were here, he’d insist they were Spiel.

He ran his hand over the statue and the alien writing at the base, actually he knew it to be Latin, but it was alien to him, so what difference did it make.

“What difference does any of this make? Shit, I can’t do this by myself.” He slouched his shoulders, momentarily contemplating finding a deserted planet, a beautiful woman with a single objective that was to please him and screwing the outcome of the universe.

“Mister Riker.”

Tom jumped at the sound of the familiar and welcome voice, “Data.....what the hell are you doing here?”

The android cocked his head, “This is where my search has brought me?”

Tom narrowed his eyes warily, “You brought yourself here.... Or this is just where you ended up?”

“I believe I was lead here, but I also believe I have uncovered the source and the reasoning for the drastic change in the universe.” Data turned and headed into the light, Tom followed closely behind him.

“Will and Deanna have been captured by the betazoids.”

Data turned to Tom, “That is unfortunate, but I do not believe locating them should be our prime objective.” Tom stared at the unemotional face of the android before he turned and again began to walk towards his goal.

“And I thought I was a cold unfeeling son of a bitch.” He muttered under his breath.

“It is not that I am not concerned for their safety, I am quite fond of both Captain Riker and doctor Troi. But my programming will not allow me to make the decision that must be made.”

Tom held off his next question, he didn’t like the sound of this......If Data couldn’t make the decision why did he just know it had to be a morality judgment, a kind of judgment he was probably even less qualified to make.

“Maybe we should rethink your idea about finding Will and Deanna, think they’d be better suited for this role.” He offered the suggestion just as Data stopped outside an arched entryway.

“That would not be productive. It is against my programming to make decisions that may affect the projected course of humanity as we know it.”

Tom twisted his face into a scowl, the prospect of playing god as the Betazoids had turned his stomach.

“Both of your options will result in many deaths, but I believe the choice should be made by one who will suffer the consequences of the decision.”

The red light played off the androids yellow eyes, distorting them with an almost demonic glow, at least that was how Tom saw them right now.

“So, your saying happily ever after isn’t one of my options?”

Data Nodded.

“Give em to me.....you can tell me how and why later.” He sucked in a deep breath of air, reiterating Deanna’s earlier encouragement to him.

“You can stop the process, the sudden halt in the infiltration of the toxin will leave races such as the cardiassians and Romulans with knowledge of those that were their enemies, and also open up their own vulnerabilities. I believe the secrets they have learned about each other will undoubtedly lead to........”

Tom waved him off, “Ok, I don’t like that one.....move on.”

“You let the process continue, rasing the consciousness of the universe as it would have naturally thousands of years from now.”

Tom scratched his beard and raised his brows suspiciously, “But?”

“But in doing so the less advanced species will be incapable of withstanding the stimulus to their brains and will die.”

Tom flopped his head forward, speaking without looking up, “I don’t suppose by less advanced species you mean, monkeys and gorillas?”

Negative Sir, I am speaking of Klingons, Cardassins, Bajorans, Fer.....”

“Bajorans!” Tom snapped to attention, he’d managed to keep his concern for Alora buried deeply, but at the prospect of never seeing his little girl again it bubbled to the surface and gripped his heart.

Locking his stormy gray eyes on Data he made the only choice there was, “I like option number two tin man, just tell me what to do.”

chapter 20

Divine plan, my ass.” Tom grumbled under his breath, dumping the contents of the crate he was lugging into the pile of weapons.

“I’ve been thinking Data.” He turned to face the android, “If these Betazoid rebels are hold up in these catacombs like you say, there’s a good chance Will and Deanna are being held here too.”

Data nodded, “It is conceivable.”

“I don’t think it’s going to take two of us to create this explosion, and I don’t think another hour is going to matter either. How’s about you take those internal sensors of yours and at least try to get them out?” Tom raised a hopeful brow and waited for Data’s logical reasoning as to why that would not be the prudent thing to do.

“Even if I was able to locate them, the magnitude of the explosion will not only seal off the toxin but will level most of the island. I do not believe I would be able to get them to safety.”

A whisper of a grin tugged at Tom’s mouth, this was far more of an optimistic reply then he’d counted on.

“If there was a way to get them out, would you give it a shot?”

“I could see no reason to refuse.”

“Good, then do it.” Tom ripped the armband from his arm and handed it to Data, “It’s going to transport you to either my cabin, or the Kahu gorge .....either one of them will be a whole, hell of a lot better then here.”

Data’s bewildered expression shifted between the armband and Riker, “How will you escape Sir?”

Tom shrugged nonchalantly, “I’m touched Data, I didn’t know you cared.”

“I am merely confused, Sir.....Captain Riker always said you would sell your soul to the devil if it meant saving your own hide, this act of self sacrifice does not substantiate that comment.”

“Figures.” He chuckled, “But I wouldn’t ponder it too hard my friend, I’ve got no intentions of dying in amongst the pages of a bad H. G. Wells novel.”

Data opened his mouth to speak but closed it again.

“You’ve got one hour, if you haven’t gotten out of here by then you can kiss your positronic butt good-bye.” Tom grinned and tilted his head towards the arched doorway.

He watched until the android had been enveloped by the red light before sliding down the wall and hugging his rifle to his chest. He’d meant what he said, he had no intention of dying here but he also knew there was only one person that could prevent it.


Will Riker had played possum long enough to learn all he needed to know from the renegade Betazoid that was speaking to Deanna. From the monotone of the Betazoid’s voice Will knew this Rebuc Sirla was counting on the after affects of the blood of the damned to be affecting Deanna’s judgment. It was the way this group had persuaded the Betazoids into believing that this was how life would be for them once the edifices had been reconstructed and realigned.

According to Myth; predating any of Earth’s history an advanced race existed, destroying itself with it’s own technology but not before sowing the earth with what is now life.

Of course according to Sirla it wasn’t a myth at all, but some convoluted plan constructed by not only the original inhabitants of the earth, but the universe as well. A prehistoric civilization that tapped into the universal energy source by building vast transmissions and receiving stations using various forms of monumental architecture.

All of what Sirla was saying to Deanna fed into Data’s hypothesis that a shift in the geomagnetic field of the planet, or planets as it were, would personify the effects of the universes energy, bringing consciousness to a higher plane. If any of this were true, he was sure it was set to be a gradual process, not a sudden surge in the bioelectrical field.

Someone how these renegade Betazoids had figured out what had baffled scientist for years, and decided to govern the outcome themselves, concerned with only themselves.

Ironically the very poisons the various planets had used to almost destroy themselves numerous times, was what this race was planing on using to release the deep rooted ideal that had been planted thousands of years ago in the humanoid psyche.

The small explosion and the Betazoid curse that left Sirla’s lips was all the evidence he needed to know Tom Riker was still plotting somewhere. He waited until he could no longer hear the footfalls of the Betazoid before opening one eye to look at Deanna.

“He’s gone.” She lowered her face to his, her hair falling over his face shielding him from the guard in the doorway. “I don’t think we’re going to get out of this one.”

“Sure we will.” He whispered, manifesting his most convincing grin.

He had every confidence he wasn’t going to die, he never did, he had an irresistible charm that appealed to the blond behind the keyboard..... He wasn’t as confident about the fate of Tom and Deanna. Honestly there were times he’d like to reach through the monitor and drag her into one of these bizarre situations she’d created. But if he did that he’d be destined to cannon forever..... the thought didn’t appeal to him and allotted him the patience he needed to put up with the physical and mental angst she and others like her inflicted on him.

The sound of a single phaser burst pulled their eyes to the doorway in time to see a single chunk of obsidian dislodge from the ceiling and knock the guard to the ground. There was a momentary lapse between the guard hitting the floor and Captain Data’s appearance in the entryway.

“It is imperative we leave.”

Will grimaced against the pain of the phaser wound to his shoulder as Deanna helped him to his feet. Data may have been an android devoid of emotions, but Will knew him long enough to recognize certain facial expressions and right now urgency was written all over his face.

“Where’s Tom?” He asked, moving concerned eyes between Data and Deanna.

Data seemed to be accessing an internal sensor, Will narrowed his eyes and repeated his question, “Where’s Tom, Damnit!”

“In approximately two minutes Tom Riker will detonate a charge that will seal the premature release of the toxin and unfortunately will level the island. Therefore I reiterate my previous warning, it is imperative leave.”

Will eyed the armband the android was fumbling with, astutely aware it had to be the one that had belonged to Tom, since theirs had been taken by the Betazoids.

“We can’t just leave him here!” Deanna’s pleading eyes searched Wills.

“We’re not going to!” Will grabbed Deanna’s arm and pulled her for the door, stopped in mid stride by the powerful grasp of Data’s hand.

“Yes we are Sir.” Data words, an earth shattering explosion and the simultaneous collapse of the room all distorted themselves on a burst of spiraling light.


Enterprise bridge, one month later

Captain William Riker settled into the captains chair and returned a smile to the Betazoid to his left.

“How’s it feel to be back on the enterprise?” She asked, a whisper of sadness in her dark eyes.

“Feel a lot better if I knew I wasn’t going to be spending the next year or so putting out fires and dealing with the repercussions of the toxin.” He lowered his voice and leaned closer to her, “I’d also feel better if I could convince you to stay on board.”

He hadn’t meant to pressure her, he understood her need to return to Betazed, to help rebuilt the devastation her planet had suffered. But a selfish part of him wanted her here with him, dealing with all the BS he knew he was in for would be much easier with her by his side.

“I’ll come back Will, this just isn’t the.....”

“Sir!” Will reluctantly pulled his eyes away from hers and responded to his security chief with only a raised brow.

“You have a incoming subspace message.....eyes only sir.”

“In my ready room.” He closed his eyes and shook his head as he spoke....another battle, another skirmish between this race and that one, they were always the same.

He nodded to Deanna before pushing from his chair and disappearing behind the door of his ready room.

Settling behind the screen he hesitated for a moment before activating the transmission, a grin spreading across his bearded face.

“You gonna say something, or just sit there grinning like a fool?” Tom Riker’s baritone voice as always held the residue of laughter.

“How?” Was all Will could muster.

“Let’s just say I sold my soul to the devil.” Tom Riker waggled a thick eyebrow and brushed his hand through his tousled blond hair.

“I see you’re in disguise again.” Will observed, his grin never wavering from his face.

“Seems my wife has turned up missing. She was last seen on Cardassia, now since I liberated her from a prison camp there, I’m going with my gut instinct that they got their hands on her again.”

Will’s grin faded, “I’m sorry. But entering Cardissian space alone, especially you, well it’s not too bright.”

“Slipped back into the Captain’s chair and slipped right back into the mundane I see.” Tom chuckled, “And I’m not alone, I told you, I sold my soul to the devil.”

Will narrowed his eyes, he knew Tom well enough not to push for the identity of his covert companion, but he also knew Tom was saying everything but what he’d contacted him to say.

“What do you want Tom, I figure I owe you one.” He leaned back in his chair and waited for the bomb to drop.

“Thanks, I knew I could count on you.:” Tom’s face faded to black, leaving Will with a million questions and a nagging suspicion he was going to regret whatever it was Tom was counting on him for.

The door chimes startled him from his thoughts and slide open before he’d called to them.

“Deanna, Tom’s alive!” He hadn’t expected so much exuberance to sneak into his voice but it did.

“I know.” He leaned against the arm of his chair, his brows creasing curiously.

Deanna motioned behind her, the gesture bringing an unexpected guest into the ready room.

“Captain Riker, I’d like you to meet Alora Riker. It seems you’ve been appointed her official guardian until further notice.”

Will swallowed hard, his eyes darting between the soft smile on Deanna’s face and the dark-haired little girl that was making her way across the ready room.

“Can he do that?!” He blurted the question to Deanna just as Alora scrambled onto his lap.

“Hello Alora.” He only glanced at Alora before rasing his questioning eyes to Deanna.

Deanna widened her eyes in response and shrugged, “I guess he can, he did.”

Alora placed her hands on both sides of Will’s cheeks, silently insisting he look at her instead of Deanna. Her dark eyes scrutinized him closely, examining him as though he was the most complex puzzle she’d ever seen, before speaking.

“Not Daddy.” Fell from her lips and caused Will’s heart to fall as well.

“Daddy will be back, I’m your Uncle Will.” He smiled at the little girl, examining her as closely as she’d examined him before shifting his gaze to Deanna.

There was no need to verbalize what he was feeling, or the decision he’d just come to, Deanna’s nod was all the motivation he needed.

Tapping his COMM badge he relayed his order to the bridge, “Mister Whise, set course for Cardassia....warp nine.”

“We can drop you on Betazed first if you want us to.” He offered, shifting Alora on his lap....Deanna shook her head, “No......I think Tom deserves our help, both of us.”

Deanna moved beside him, slipping an arm around her waist he released a satisfied sigh.....

He didn’t think she could pull it off, but she had, the blond behind the keyboard was right....Tom Riker wasn’t a threat....Tom Riker was a pretty good guy:-)