A Rock and A Hard Place (Book #10)

by Peter David


When Will is sent to a planet called Paradise, a man called Quintin Stone temporarily takes his place on the Enterprise. Although Stone has acquired a reputation for being insane, surly, impulsive, arrogant and an insubordinate, he soon manages to put the entire crew of the Enterprise into a state of feeling not quite so sane themselves. Each and every one of the crew soon hold the man in feared reverence.
On paradise, Will meets up with old friends Jackson and Eleanor Carter and their fifteen year old daughter, Stephy. He also soon meets the reason the scientific group requested aid from the Federation; The wild things. Mutant creatures that ate anything, everything - including their own.
When the Carters go missing, Will sets off into the white wilderness to find them, sending out a distress beacon before doing so. And as the Enterprise responds to his hail, Will finds Jackson Carter dead, along with evidence that there was a pack of wild things hot on the heels of Eleanor and Stephy. After losing Eleanor in a landslide, Will and Stephy fight for their lives until Stone and Worf come to their rescue after finding Eleanor still alive.


Notable Imzadi moments:

A rock and a hard place pages 18 to 20

Deanna Troi tapped her communicator in response to the page. "Troi here."
"Deanna? It's Bev. Where are you?"
"Deck eight holodeck."
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt..."
"It's quite all right. I had intended to just spend some quiet time alone."
Deanna smiled at the pause. "Would you care to join me alone?"
"if you don't mind."
"Not at all."
Moments later, Beverly walked in and slowly came to a halt.
A dazzling vista spread out before her. The land stretched as far as she could see, rugged and cratered, with vast mountain rages curving upward like fingers of a world caressing itself. The sky was a shimmering rainbow, the bands of light actually trembling.
Crusher glanced over and saw Deanna Troi sitting calmly, cross-legged, on a narrow outcropping. Deanna was not looking at her, but straight out at the undulating sky.
Afraid to say anything that might break the spell, Beverly walked slowly over and sat down several feet behind Troi. They remained that way for an undetermined amount of time, for time seemed to have slowed down or perhaps even vanished altogether.
"The singing skies," said Troi at length.
"Singing? I don't hear anything."
"You could not," was Deanna's reply. "You have to listen to yourself."
"It is a place on my world for thought and contemplation. It provides beautiful harmonies...but only in the mind." She turned towards Crusher, her dark eyes wide. Bev could almost imagine she saw patterns of music dancing behind them. "To hear the tune...you must be in tune."
Bev closed her eyes, cleared her mind, tried to turn herself inward.
Nothing. And out loud, she admitted, "Nothing."
"No one can hear the music immediately. You must work your way towards that. Hearing the music is a blend of harmony with the world and with yourself. Only when the two are together can the music play within your head. It is a way of testing empathic powers."
Bev sensed an incomplete thought hanging in the air. "And how are yours testing today?"
Slowly Troi uncrossed her long legs and stood, shaking out her hair. "The music is faint today," she admitted.
"What's the problem? If it's the card game, then I'm sorry. I didn't mean to suddenly wind up taking your place like that..."
Troi looked at her in amusement. "You took my place?"
Bev nodded unhappily.
"You did poorly?"
"I don't want to talk about it."
"As you wish."
"Fortunately, the game broke up when Captain Picard summoned Commander Riker about something."
Troi slowly sat down, as if she were a doll deflating of fair. "He will be leaving."
"Commander Riker."
Bev frowned and sat next to Troi. "How do you know?"
"I sensed the Captain's thoughts in turmoil, which was the reason I left the game. The captain told me what was happening, and asked me not to speak to Will of it until he had."
"And has he?"
Troi seemed to be reaching outside herself once more. "Yes. And Will is ambivalent. But he will go. It is what he must do."
"And how does that make you feel?"
"That does not matter."
"It does to me."
Troi smiled at that, and patted Bev's hand. "You know...for so long, I did not see Will, and I thought I had put him out of my mind. The we met again, and it was like the time apart had never happened...and yet it did. It is frustrating. All of it is."
Pages 21 to 23
Riker was in his quarters packing his gear when there was a tone at the door.
"Come." But he already knew who it would be.
He nodded to Deanna as she stepped in. The door hissed shut behind her. "Word spread quickly, Counselor?"
"News has a way of travelling aboard a Starship."
"A very formal way of putting it," he smiled.
She walked towards him, and then veered off slightly and sat in a chair nearby. "It sounds very rugged, where you're going."
"It is."
"We shall all miss you."
He placed two more shirts in his bag. "You took an opinion poll?"
"I shall miss you."
"Ah." He turned and grinned widely at that."Well...missing me shouldn't be all that difficult. We had a stretch of years where we didn't see each other at all."
"Are you under the impression, Commander Riker, that you occupied m thoughts every day of our separation/" she said teasingly.
"Of course not," was the stiff response. "After all, I never thought of you."
"Not I you."
A smile played across his lips. Then, what he wanted to say flashed through his mind. He did not speak, of course. He could not say to her: I never thought of you. Not your silken hair or sweet voice. I never thought of the tender caress of your words. The dark eyes you can get lost in. Never for a moment did that cross my mind.
She walked toward him slowly, and then several feet away she stopped, her arms folded. She made no reply, for he had said nothing...merely smiled in that way he had. Thoughts flittered across her mind, which she did not voice. She did not say: You were a barely distinguishable memory. I could barely recall the strength of your heart beating against mine. The way your powerful hands could make me feel. The way your eyes crinkled when you laughed. These are but the dimmest flutterings of fast-fading memory.
All of it remained unsaid.
They stood there a moment and then Riker stuck out a hand. Troi took it and shook it firmly. "Goodbye, Commander. Be careful. I shall continue not to think about you in the same way."
"Take care, Counselor. Thoughts of you will occupy me no more than they ever have."
Pages 75 to 76
"Do you have a girlfriend?"
Riker blinked in surprise. He had forgotten that talking with Wesley Crusher, who spoke casually on linear tracks, was not the typical interaction one had with a teenager. Stephy was no longer interested in discussing the relative merits of early versus modern space travel. Indeed, for the direction of the topic drift, it seemed likely that she hadn't been all that interested in the first place.
"A girlfriend?" he asked.
"Back on your ship," she said. "You know, a girlfriend. Or," she hesitated, "a fiancee. Or wife. Or wives."
He laughed at that. "No, no wife or wives."
"No girls you're close to?"
"Oh, there's women I'm close to."
"How close?"
He looked at her curiously. "What, do you want names and dates?"
She gazed off into the sky. "I'm just curious as to how a guy who looks like you isn't hooked with any one woman, that's all. I mean, I would have thought that someone would have..."
"Well..." His voice trailed off.
"Now she leaned forward eagerly. "There is someone, isn't there?" Her tone a mixture of eagerness and...disappointment? Could that be?
"There's someone who has an....emotional grasp, let's say."
"Meaning she's always in your thoughts/"
He nodded, "That's a very apt way of putting it."
"So you and she are together now."
"We were. Now we're friends. Well, more than friends, but...it's kind of complicated."
"I'm good at complicated things."
He sighed. "Let's just say that we had something and we're reluctant to rekindle it because...the timing's not right."
"For who?"
Riker laughed and shook his head. "You're like a dog with his teeth in a bone. You're not easy to shake loose, are you?"
Pages 150 to 151
As the Singing Skies danced in their shimmering harmonies, Deanna Troi shivered as a chill gripped her. A chill of fear, an ugly vision of death and frozen nothingness.
Her reaction was immediate, taking the fear to herself, caressing it and shining a soft light of hope and fearlessness on it. Almost immediately, she felt the fear melt away, to be replaced by calm and serenity. And then, just like that, the soft stroking against her mind was gone.
No one knew Deanna Troi's mind as well as Deanna Troi. Not for a moment did she doubt the source of that flash of misery.
"Will," she whispered, although it might not have been out loud. But whisper it she did. She just knew that despite all the distance the the Enterprise was endeavouring to cover now at warp seven, somehow her mind had brushed against Riker's. Wherever he was at this moment, he was scared and alarmed - but not alone. "Never alone," she murmured now.
The beautiful chimes of the Singing Skies echoed through her mind, strong and strident. The image of Will Riker floated behind her eyes and gave her peace and balance. He was like a rock for her.
Page 159 to 160
"Do I frighten you?" he asked.
"No. Only one thing frightens me."
"And that is?"
He looked at her with interest. "Really?"
"Maybe. Maybe not."
He actually laughed, that disjointed, unpleasant laugh. "Sounds damned good, though."
"I cannot be your mate," she said.
"You want to help me, don't you? Want to cure," he made vague finger waving gestures, "the darkness within me."
"Yes. But we cannot be that way."
"Why?" He was close to her now, well within her personal space. The strength of his personality was virtually something one could touch. "Do you have a commitment to someone else?"
"Not a commitment, no."
"Then what...?"
"There is..." Should she admit it to him? She could rarely admit it to herself. "There is...someone else. Someone who...occupies me. Once we were close. We might be again...when he is ready. And when I am. Until that time we live and grow, and perhaps we shall grow together. Perhaps we won't. But I cannot bring myself to cut off that possibility yet."
"You sound confused. Is the empath actually admitting she doesn't know her own mind?"
She smiled. "Where love is concerned, the most powerful of empaths can become the most mewling of helpless infants."
He nodded slowly. "Is he on this ship?"
"Do I know him?"
"In a way."
"Counselor," he sighed, "I don't want to play guessing games. Who is he?"
"Commander Riker."
Page 202
"We're all strangers, Will."
Now Riker opened his eyes, and Deanna Troi was there. Of course she was. Where else would she be?
"Meaning what, Counselor?"
"Meaning everyone has feelings of desolation, of being alone. Even in a crushing crowd, we are all of us alone. What is the true test of the spirit is how that spirit copes with that aloneness."
He smiled and said, "I'd rather be alone with you."
"You must be strong, Will. You are needed to be. Regrets over might-have-beens can only blacken your soul."
"Even if the regrets involves loves I might have saved?"
"Even if."
"I miss you, Deanna."
"And I you, Will."
He paused, "So I should not even have regrets about the way I handled our relationship?"
Now she was smiling. "It has been a two-way path, Will."
"Maybe. Still..." He sat up fully. There was a soft haze covering Deanna that seemed to be growing. "If I get out of here, I've been thinking. Maybe we should..."
She put up a hand. "Don't think things you'll regret."
"I wouldn't regret it," he said.
Page 244
He stared out with her at the shimmering lights. "So...what is this thing again?"
"The Singing Skies."
"I don't hear anything."
"You have to be at peace. Balanced in mind and spirit."
"Oh. Well...all right. I'll give it a try. But first I wanted to ask you..."
"There were a couple of times, when I was on the planet...I thought somehow we were..." He gestured helplessly. "Talking. Thinking to each other. Is that possible?"
"What was it we were thinking to each other?" she said in bemusement.
"I don't remember."
"Well then...I guess it didn't happen."
"I guess not."
"Now then," she placed her fingertips to her forehead, "Relax. Breathe in and our slowly. And I should warn you right now, Commander...the chances are slim that you will actually be able to hear more than the faintest murmurings of the Singing Skies your first time out."
He grinned at her and said, "You know something, Counselor. I'll bet you that on the day I can remember what we didn't discuss...that will be the day we'll be able to make beautiful music together."
She smiled at him and said, "Oh, Will...that's so...what's the word?"
"Romantic?" he said.
"Sappy," she replied. "Now...clear your mind."
"That shouldn't take long."
And the Singing Skies chimed a harmony overhead.


Thank you Carol for putting this together =)