Masks (Book #7)
by John Vornholt
The Enterprise is transporting Ambassador Fenton Lewis to the planet Lorca, and with him is a highly ornate jewelled mask. Every person on Lorca wears a mask. Some simple, to denote their ranks, and some to show the owners trade. Others, priceless. Not only the mask, but the position that went with it.
Lewis, along with many others are searching for the ultimate mask, the Wisdom mask, along with its owner, the Almighty Slayer, the equivalent of a king.
Captain Picard, Worf, Deanna Troi and Lewis beam down to the planet, but soon lose contact with the Enterprise when the planet's volatile surface erupts and ruins the communicators.
Concerned about his comrades, Will Riker takes another away team consisting of himself, Data, Doctor Pulaski, Ensigns Whiff and Greenblatt. Not long after they arrive they stumble across a travelling pedlar and befriend him.
Meanwhile Picard and party meet up with a warrior party intent on finding the Almighty Slayer for themselves. Their leader, Piercing Blade soon becomes close to Picard when Lewis challenges her for her mask, and then promptly disappears.
Each party head for their goal; the fair held at Lorca's main city. Eventually Riker's party find Lewis alone on the road and he informs them that Picard and the rest of the party are dead. But Riker calls his bluff and insists that he needs to find Picard's and the others bodies before he'll give up the search. Lewis has no choice but to lead them on.
Matters complicate further when a Ferengi ship arrives in orbit and 2 of its crew beam down to the surface, joining forces with a raiding party. When Picard's party stumble upon them, he asks them if they will contact the Enterprise via their own ship to inform them that they are okay. But the Ferengi in exchange for the deed, want either the Wisdom mask or the ambassadors mask, AND the traitor Fenton Lewis to go with it, as he apparently stole it from them originally. Picard can offer neither so moves on, only hoping that somehow soon, the Enterprise finds a way of finding them.
Riker, losing heart at not finding his comrades, asks Data if he will stay on the planet, realising that with Picard's loss, he needs to return and run the Enterprise. Data is honoured to stay along with ensign Greenblatt.
But soon after, the party is approached by the Ferengi raiding party, and as the confrontation starts to turn nasty, Riker orders Wesley Crusher to fire a dummy torpedo at the planet surface to scare the raiders off. He succeeds his task, but manages to set off a volcanic explosion.
Amongst the chaos that follows, the pedlars horse and cart darts off and crashes, and the pedlar, Day Timer, unable to hide his hidden wares any longer reveals the Wisdom mask. He is the Almighty Slayer.
When night falls, Lewis shows his true colours when he attacks Day Timer, but foreseeing his betrayal, Data changes places with the pedlar. Once more, Lewis disappears after cold-bloodedly murdering Greenblatt.
Lewis runs to Piercing Blade and tells her about the mask and the following morning Picard's party arrive and demands that Day Timer challenges her. She also reveals that she is his daughter.
As they battle it out together, they find themselves evenly matched, and evenly wounded. It is then that both parties realise who the bystanders are and the two Enterprise teams are reunited at long last.
As the others return to the ship, Picard and Worf go after Lewis, determined to return him to the Federation for his crimes. But when they reach the raiders camp, they find everyone, including Lewis dead. The Ferengi murder Lewis. The raiders murder the Ferengi, and then unable to decide who can wear the ambassador mask, kill each other.
After witnessing Piercing Blade's crowning of the Wisdom mask, the Enterprise leave the Lorcans in peace.
Notable Imzadi moments:
He cocked one eyebrow merrily. "I suppose, Counselor, exploring planets
is old-hat to you."
"I've been on my fair share of away teams," she said, trying to sound as matter-of-fact as he had.
"Usually you go with that strapping first officer...Riker? Is that his name?"
"That's his name," she replied coolly. She didn't like the leer in Lewis's voice.
"That must be convenient," Lewis said bluntly, "because you two are lovers, aren't you?"
Her astonishment lasted only seconds, but Deanna felt the color, and the anger, darken her cheeks.
"That was in the past," Deanna said simply and truthfully. "I had no idea the Diplomatic Service was so well informed."
Lewis shrugged. He warmed her with his most gallant smile. "I meant no disrespect, Counselor Troi, believe that. I merely wanted to satisfy my perverse curiosity."
"These comrades for whom you are searching - they must be very important,"
the peddler observed.
Riker nodded his clay Apprentice's Mask, hardly noticing its weight or clammy warmth anymore." They're more than comrades. They're my friends."
"I'm a nosy old man," said the Lorcan, "but I would guess that one of your missing friends is a woman."
The commander swivelled to look at his benchmate, but, of course, the implacable mask told him nothing. For once, Will was thankful that his own emotions were hidden behind a mask. He had been so busy worrying about the away team as a whole that he hadn't confronted his concern for Deanna Troi.
The loss of Captain Picard would be devastating, but he was mentally prepared for such an eventually. He had to be - it was part of his job. But never to see Deanna again? Will didn't think he was prepared for that.
Thank you Carol for putting this together =)