Trail of Revenge

"So....what do you think we should do?" Geordie leaned back in his office
chair, crossing his arms unsuredly. He regarded the Commander's question with
the imagination that only an engineer could have.

"Personally, I say we kill her." Will shook his head in agreement and
perched himself on the edge of the Chief Engineer's desk. A concentrated look
suddenly swept over his face as he thought about the situation at hand.

"How?" Will inquired, a little hopeful for a sensible answer from Geordie.

Geordie stood and began pacing back and forth, his demeanor displayed the
sight of a devious plot whirling inside his head. "You know, we should look
up the most horrible kinds of torture and then recreate it in the holodeck,
turn all of the safeties off, and finish the job. It's that simple."

Will shrugged, "I don't know. It sounds good, but I was thinking more along
the lines of killing both of them. Deanna and Beverly were in this together
and they both deserve to watch each other being punished."

Geordie laughed, "Well, you've got a point there. They were on the same
side. Besides, they have no idea of how much humiliation they put us through.
I're the best on the ship and I'm not bad either. Data
couldn't even help us out. I feel so used."

Will sat down in the nearest chair, "You're right, my friend. The disgrace
that they've put me through will forever cut to the core in my soul. Revenge
is our only option in this matter. We can't kill them and get away with it,
but we could beat them at their own game. Remember that little camping trip
that Captain Picard insisted on taking us 'men' with him?"

Geordie nodded. "Yea....that one on earth in the mountains where we got lost
and a bear ate all of our food? How could I forget?"

Will smiled as he saw recognition come to Geordi's face, "What if we took
that trip again and this time took the women with us? We could....challenge
them to a little competition. I bet they wouldn't last three days out of that
five day trip on foot through the mountains."

"Well, wouldn't that be a little unfair considering we've been through
that trail before?"

Will stood and clapped his hand on Geordi's shoulder, "Yes...but they
don't know that. Besides, that's the point isn't it? They humiliated us, now
it's time to return the favor."

"I'm sorry Will, but I had been planning this archaeological dig for months.
Personally, I don't want to spend my shoreleave getting lost and fighting
bear attacks again."

Will Riker sat back in the chair opposite Picard's desk. "You mean to tell me
that you would pass up the chance to actually prove Beverly wrong on
something? How well do you really think they could do out in the woods for
five days? Deanna's never been camping before, and Beverly's experience is

Picard smiled slyly back at his first officer, "If I didn't know any better,
I'd say that this is a personal vendetta against our fair Counselor and
Doctor. Would you agree?"

Will shrugged, "Okay, I admit, it might be. But who else would be better to
lead our vendetta than you, yourself?"

Picard stood and went to his replicator, ordering his tea. "Be that as it
may, I wasn't there to see your humiliation, nor was I involved in any
manner. Therefore, I see no reason as to why I should be involved now." Will
opened his mouth to protest but Picard cut him off, "That's my final
decision, Commander. I wish you good luck while I prepare for my own

Will knew he had lost the argument, so he left and proceeded to the lounge
where he was to meet Geordi for a late afternoon lunch. Upon arriving, he
spotted Geordi having a casual conversation with Deanna and Beverly at one of
the far tables.

"Hello, ladies, Geordi." Will crossed over to Deanna and gave her a peck on
the cheek. "I thought you were in a Counseling session right now."

Deanna smiled and caught his hand as he sat down next to her, "I was, but it
went very well and we were done early. How's your day been?"

Will loved her smile because it was contagious. He matched her equally with
his own happy expression although the Captain's recent rejection still
weighed on his mind, "A typical day on the, Enterprise, I'd say." Will stole
a glance at Geordi knowing that he was waiting on a report of the Captain's
decision. Will shook his head slightly, but not discretely enough for the
women to not notice.

Deanna's eyebrows went up in a questionable manner, "Will? What are you

Will snapped his head back in her direction, "Nothing. How would you ladies
like to go on a little trip with Geordi, Data, and I on shoreleave?"

Beverly's interest was peaked especially since she had yet to make plans.
"What kind of trip are you referring to, Commander?"

"Well, since you two mercilessly humiliated us this past weekend, I was
thinking of a way to let us win back our pride."

Deanna rolled her eyes, "Oh, please, Will. Just because Beverly and I beat
you two in the chess tournament doesn't mean that you've lost your pride. Is
this one of those male ego things?"

"Deanna! We were in the championship match with the entire ship watching
practically and you both killed us. I think that is just cause for our pride
to be bruised. I had the reputation of being the best on the ship and now
that is ruined," Will finished incredulously.

Deanna patted his hand, "And now I have that reputation. Besides, the Great
Will Riker could use some humiliation sometimes in his life. And who better
to give it than me?"

Geordi chimed in, "Okay, well then let us at least try to get some of our
pride back. We can't live without it. At least not comfortably. Think of the
trip as a challenge, because Will and I don't think you can handle it."

Beverly's defense went up, "YOU think WE can't handle a little trip? Women
can handle anything that men can. Especially you two."

Deanna put a hand up, "Beverly....don't get us involved in something stupid."

Beverly turned challenging eyes on her friend, "Deanna, are you going to just
sit there and let them tell us what we can and can't do? Besides, it'll give
us a chance to humiliate them again and gain even a better reputation than
just the prettiest women on board and the best chess players."

Will's eyes burned a hole in her at that last statement, "So are you in or

Deanna held out both of her hands to stop conversation, "Wait, before Beverly
does something that we'll both regret, what is the nature of this trip?"

Geordi leaned forward, almost certain they'd accept. "It's just a simple
camping trip. Five days in the mountains. There's a great spot that I've
heard of that has two trails of equal difficulties. You would go down one,
and we would take the other. The group that arrives at the end of the trail
first, and in better shape than the other...wins."

Beverly sat back and crossed her arms, "That's it? I've been camping should be a breeze."

Deanna displayed a worried look on her face. "I don't know Bev, I've ever
been camping. Besides, don't you think it's a little unfair for them to pick
the place for us to go? I say we agree on a place."

Will's face returned its smile, "Then you agree to the trip?"

Beverly answered a little quicker than Deanna would have liked, "Yes...we
agree, don't we Deanna?" she said hopefully.

Deanna silently nodded and put her hands in her face. What had she just done?

"I can't believe I let you two talk me into this. I hate camping." Guinan was
sitting on the floor of Beverly's cabin, wrestling with the sleeping bag that
seemed to have a mind of its own. "You think they would have thought of an
easier way to roll sleeping bags up in the last 300 years."

Beverly and Deanna glanced at each other, having wrestled with their own bags
just an hour or so ago. "Guinan, we needed at least some experience in

Beverly looked incredulously at Deanna, "I have experience in camping, thank
you very much. I'll have you know that I went on several trips with the Girl
Scouts and then there was that one about eight years ago on Rinau IV with
those short people and that wonderful man that I met in the lodge earlier
that turned out to be a jerk in the end and I had to belt him in the mouth
because he wouldn't stop suggesting things that I had no interest in doing
with him."

The doctor looked up from her white, angered knuckles to the two sets of dark
eyes watching her with confused looks on her faces. Not to mention Guinan had
her right eyebrow raised in question. Beverly blew some hot air out of her
mouth, "Sorry, I guess I never really got that off of my chest."

Deanna continued to look at her best friend for a few seconds before turning
Guinan's way, "Like I said, we need some camping experience."

Guinan nodded in full understanding, "Well, now that you mention it..." she
trailed off, leaving the rest to Deanna to decode.

Satisfied that her sleeping bag was tucked away as well as it was going to
be, she pulled herself up to the edge of Beverly's bed and rested her cramped
back. "Have either of you checked the weather report for the camp grounds? If
we don't have to take the rain gear, it'll make the hike easier."

Deanna smiled at Beverly, "See, I knew she'd be an asset. Why don't you get
the weather, Bev, while I get some hot chocolate and we can have a good,
old-fashioned, girl talk before we leave."

Beverly rolled her eyes, "Yea, sure. I can see me doing all of the work on
this trip," she said as she crossed to the living room and then to the
computer terminal. Quickly she scanned the weather updates, "Looks like our
hike's going to be a little harder. There's a chance of rain at least three
of the nights." Suddenly a smile came to her face, a wicked one at that.
"Hey, girls, wouldn't it be funny if the boys just happened to forget their
rain gear?"

Deanna and Guinan exchanged an amused look, "The poor, brave men stuck in the
damp cold under a tree with no way to keep dry." All three of the ladies went
into a fit of laughter at the mental picture that played in their heads.

Guinan held her hand up for silence. "Now, come on, you two. Those men may be
a lot of things, but they are not dumb enough to forget to check the weather
before they leave."

Beverly and Deanna's faces both turned from delightful conjuring to a frown.
"Your right," they both said.

All three of them snuggled up on the couch and chairs as Deanna continued a
tale of one of her and Will's recent dates, "Anyway, after we got back to his
quarters, my mother contacted us and try as we might, we spent an HOUR
talking to her. That was an hour that Will and I had planned to do no talking

Will tossed his pack into the pile in the middle of his floor. "I don't know
Geordi. Isn't this a little much to carry on our backs for fifty miles?"

Geordi looked at the jumbled mess before them and shrugged, "It's what we
took last time."

The men's conversation was interrupted by an insistent door chime. "Come in!"
Will called, while sorting through the mess, hoping to find something
nonessential to leave behind.

Picard entered his First Officer's quarters and set his eyes upon the camping
equipment sprawled out on the floor, "Goodness, you're not taking all of that
are you?"

Both Will and Geordi shrugged, not saying anything. Picard nodded, "Well, you
can add my gear to the pile. I've decided to go with you fellows."

Will raised his customary left brow, "I thought you didn't want to give up
your other trip? Besides, we've got a third...Data."

Geordi held up his hand, "Actually, I forgot. Data's busy with a new project
in Engineering and can't come. So, Captain, there's an opening."

The Captain smiled and held his palms out, "Well, I was having breakfast with
Beverly this morning and she started talking about the trip. Well, needless
to say, she began to insult your camping abilities and I began to defend both
of you, sympathizing and all. I, uh, I seemed to have talked myself into
going with you. So, if you'll have me?"

Will Riker smiled, "Of course, sir. Glad you stood up for us. Now lets see
about getting rid of some of this."
"Trail of Revenge" - Day 4

The transporter technician stifled a huge grin as three worn looking women
trudged into the room, barely being able to stand under the enormous weight
of their backpacks.

"You three ladies ready to been down to the shuttle site?" he asked.

Three pairs of eyes smiled at him acknowledging his question automatically.
Deanna and Beverly both looked at each other and raised their brows as if
saying, "Not bad," referring to the good looking ensign behind his controls.

Guinan, however did not miss the exchange, "Come on you two. We don't need
any of that."

A little frustrated at the two younger women's lagging behind, Guinan pulled
at their sleeves and almost dragged them onto the transporter pad.

Once they were situated, Deanna and Beverly gave Guinan a dirty look as the
beam caught them and then deposited them down on the planet's surface.

Not much later, two men carrying their large packs entered the transporter
room. Will held a slight frown on his face and Geordi had his characteristic
sense of wonder hiding behind his eyes. "Geordi, are you sure you packed
everything? I keep thinking we've forgotten something."

Geordi shrugged as he thought through everything. "I don't remember leaving

Picard entered at that moment, wearing a huge grin on his face. He moved to
put his arms across his officer's shoulders. "Good morning, men. I'm glad I'm
going with you. For some reason, crawling around in dark caves looking for
ancient pieces of pottery doesn't sound appealing today. Are we ready? The
ladies have already beat us down there."

"Uh...sir," the ensign piped up, unsure of what he was about to do. "I just
looked up the latest weather report for the week down on the planet and it's
all looks real good. I just thought it would lighten the burden
if you got rid of your rain gear."

The three campers looked at one another and shrugged, "Lets unpack the rain
gear," Will said, already diving into the pack on his back. The other two
nodded and quickly joined him. A few minutes later, they were standing in the
shuttle loading area, waiting for their transport to arrive.

The three women stood in the loading area looking at their new camping wrist
chronometers. "When is it due to be here?" Deanna asked. "Five minutes ago,"
Beverly answered. Guinan gave up on standing and found the nearest bench,
putting it to good use.

"We're looking for shuttle Alpha-A. Ah....there it is!" Beverly called,
pointing to its location. The men walked up just in time to witness her yell.
Picard strayed off from the group, trying to find which shuttle they had been
assigned to. A few minutes later he came back out, searching for the shuttle
in which the man inside said to look for.

He walked back over to his camping partners, "We have shuttle Sigma-D."

Geordi laughed, "Sigma-D? Those are just temporary transports. They have no
storage space whatsoever in them, Captain. There will just be enough room for
us to fit in, much less all of our gear."

Will frowned and looked at Geordi and then the Captain. "I guess we'll have
to strap the gear on top then. I'll see if they have a luggage rack inside we
can borrow."

After loading all of their stuff into the storage space of their shuttle, the
women headed over to the men before they left. "Well, we're all set," Beverly
said, "I guess we'll see you in a couple of hours when we reach the trails."

Deanna stayed where she was as her counterparts went back to their transport.
"Where's, Will?"

All eyes turned to the door of the building just as Will came out, carrying a
luggage rack in his arms. "Hi, Deanna. Just a minute, let me put this down."

He set the rack against the Sigma-D and walked over to her, automatically
enveloping her in his arms. "I guess I'll see you in a couple of hours. Have
a safe trip there. You aren't flying that thing are you?" he asked her

Deanna put an astonished look on her face and hit him on the shoulder, "Will
Riker, if I didn't love you as much as I do, I would slap you silly right
now. But no, Beverly is more experienced, and is flying it."

Will smiled and kissed her long, and hard, not caring who was watching. When
they broke, he whispered in her ear, "I love you too."

She touched his face reverently, admiring him like she always did. "Be
careful, Imzadi. Try not to end up in sickbay on this trip, okay?"

Will laughed, "I promise. Relax, I've been on many camping trips in my day."

Deanna stood on her toes and kissed him again, "I know. Just pray that us
girls don't end up in sickbay. I'll see you later."

He watched her run off back to her transport, her long hair bouncing back and
forth with each stride. He smiled longingly and turned back around, noticing
Picard and Geordi with their arms crossed and impatient looks on their faces.

"What?" he asked. They said nothing and motioned for him to help them pack
the luggage rack so that they could get under way.

Trail of Revenge" - Part 5

"Beverly, do you think that you could slow down or something? I'm getting
nauseous." Deanna grabbed at the consol in front of her, trying as best she
could to steady herself as the shuttle whipped around the winding curves of
the mountain.

The scenery was really quite beautiful. On one side stood large rocky cliffs
that seemed to have no peak in sight. Lucious vines wrapped themselves around
the protruding boulders and small waterfalls trickled in a path, leaving a
nice wet gleam on the stony mountain side. On the other side was a thick
forest of trees, so dense you couldn't see ten feet into it. The sky was as
blue as Deanna could remember it being. Although this was not earth, this
M-class planet had much of earth's characteristics and qualities. It was hard
not to believe yourself to be on earth.

Deanna's stomach turned inside as Beverly directed the transport around
another sharp turn in the route. Beverly glanced over at her friend when she
heard a soft moan escape Deanna's lips. "Deanna, you're not going to be sick
are you? It's this route, I can't keep the shuttle steady without going slow
enough for a turtle to pass us."

Deanna looked up from the floor to her friend. Beverly noticed the paleness
of her features and a slight green that was beginning to replace it.
"Beverly, what's a turtle?" Having not been from earth, which she assumed
that a turtle was and earth creature, she had no idea what it was.

The doctor sighed and guided the shuttle around another bend in the route,
"Never mind."

Beverly's last turn caused Deanna's stomach to stir beyond her being able to
quell it, "Ohh," she moaned, clutching her stomach, "That did it."

Deanna bolted from her seat in the front of the shuttle and ran to the back,
finding something to catch her vomit in. Guinan hid a smile at the Counselor,
but felt pity nonetheless and moved to help Deanna in her time of need.

Beverly heard Deanna's regurgitating from the front and called out, "Deanna,
if you look in my medkit back there, there should be a hypo with a yellow
stripe on it! Take it and it'll help the motion sickness!"

When Deanna was finished with her rather unpleasant business, she looked up
at Guinan's concerned eyes, "Now she tells me after an hour of suffering."

Guinan offered a quiet chuckle, "Is there anything I can do?"

Deanna smiled and squeezed Guinan's shoulder, "I don't think so, Guinan.
Thanks for asking though. The hypo is starting to help even as we speak."

The bartender returned a warm smile and sat back down in her seat. She did
help Deanna steady herself as she cautiously walked back to the front of the

Looking down at the data on her consol, Deanna shivered at the temperature
readout, "Sixty degrees. It's sixty degrees outside, Beverly. I don't think
I'll be able to survive if it goes lower."

Beverly outright laughed at her friend's worries. "Deanna, sixty degrees is
not that cold. Besides, the farther up we go, the colder it'll get."

Deanna glared at Beverly as if it was the doctor's fault the weather was so Betazoid standards anyway. She decided not to say anything. The
last thing she wanted was for her two best friends to think she couldn't
handle something as trivial as a little cool weather.

Guinan decided to try and make them all feel better by offering a small bit
of information that the other two were unaware of. "At least we'll be better
off than the boys. I slipped a note to that cute little ensign and asked him
to give the guys a false weather report. With any luck, they'll be sitting
out in the rain with no gear."

A hopeful flicker of light danced in the other two women's eyes and all three
women began a laughing fit that would not end for several minutes.
It was getting dark. Will had been flying the shuttle at first, but after the
second hour of not knowing where they were, and Will promising that he was
not lost, Picard took over, insisting he'd get them there correctly. Well,
that had been at least three hours ago.

"Captain," Will's voice was very urging, I think we should just stop
somewhere and find someone."

Picard grumbled and turned to his First Officer sitting next to him. They
barely had a foot of space between them and Will's head kept repeatedly
hitting the ceiling. "For the last time, Will, I don't need directions."

Geordi piped up, trying to defend his Captain, "Really, Will, do you think
the Captain would pass the same tree seven times on purpose?"

Picard turned his head and glared at the engineer. Just at about that moment,
the shuttle lunged forward, throwing its passengers forward with it. Suddenly
it came to a dead stop without Picard directing it to.

Geordi stood automatically but was batted back down when his head violently
hit the roof. "I really hate these Sigma shuttles," he said, rubbing his
pained crown.

Will let out a frustrated groan, "Lets see what the problem is." His hands
flew over the controls as Geordi leaned over his shoulder to catch the data

"Looks like whoever prepped this shuttle, didn't do a good enough job. That's
a Sigma for you though. Never can trust them. Looks like the entire EPS cable
stream's been fused."

Picard and Riker both sighed at the same time. "You can fix it right?" the
Captain said hopefully to both of his officers. They just looked at each
other and shook their heads.

Geordi sat back in his seat, "Without the proper equipment, which we don't
have, there's no way in the galaxy I'll be able to even touch it. It'll take
at least three hours for it to cool anyway."

For several minutes, no one said anything. They needed to find a way to get
to the trails before the women got too far ahead of them. "I guess we can't
contact anyone, the comm system is down as well as about five other systems.
We didn't bring our communicators - "

He was cut off by Will's sharp voice, "Ah! That's what we forgot. Fine time
to remember them, Captain."

Picard cast an icy look at Will, "Lets just get out and walk back until we
find someone or something we can communicate with." Will and Geordi groaned
at the idea of walking for a possible several miles in the cold. "Just get
out of the shuttle."

All three men filed out of the door and into the windy cold. The next thing
they heard was Geordi's yelling, "What happened to our camping equipment!?!"

All eyes fell onto the roof of the transport, "Will," Picard said calmly,
trying not to get angry unnecessarily, "I thought I told you to secure
everything to the luggage rack."

Will was incredulous, "I did!" Suddenly, he stopped and looked at Geordi.
"Geordi, what did you say that loud thump was about two hours ago?"

"Apparently not what I said it was."

At this point none of them cared if they made it to the trails. Jean-luc
slapped his thigh in expressed frustration, "It's getting too dark to be
walking anywhere. I suppose the transport will be our shelter for the night."

Will nervously looked at Geordi, then back at the Captain. "Sir, we can
barely sit down in there. What makes you think we'll be able to sleep?"

"What other option is there?"

Before long, all three were nestled inside the confines of the Sigma. As they
looked out the one and only window of the shuttle, they began to see small
flakes of white snow falling. Immediately, they knew they were in trouble.

"Now...I haven't been on too many camping trips, but snow is a bad thing,
right?" Geordi asked the two officers in front of him. They both turned and
shot fiery darts at him.

Picard decided it was time for a little leadership, "Lets look on the bright
side, shall we? This will give us a chance to really pull together and see
what we're made of."

Will stared at him in disbelief, "Does Bigfoot have to come down here with a
huge ax before your really in trouble?"

Picard threw his hands up, "Okay, fine. We can't stay in here or we'll freeze
to death. Get out of the shuttle."

Will sighed, "But you just said - "

"Get out of the shuttle!!" Picard roared, venting some of his anger. They
needed to find shelter and find it fast. With any luck, the ladies would be
coming to look for them once they realized that there camping competitors had
not shown up yet.

"Trail of Revenge" - 6

Dark would soon be upon them and Deanna was about ready to jump out of her
skin. Her fiance and his troop should have arrived over three hours ago and
no one had heard a word of might have happened to them.

Beverly averted her eyes from the sight out of the window of the lodge that
they had been staying in temporarily. All three of them had been on edge for
the past three hours, wondering what was keeping the three men they all cared
about dearly. The Doctor sighed and began to walk back to the couch where
Deanna was seated. The Counselor had her arms wrapped around her upper body
as if shielding herself from the cold, although it was kept nicely warm in
the lodge.

Beverly rested herself in the cousins and put a reassuring arm around her
best friend. "I'm sure they're okay, Deanna. Knowing them, they got lost or
maybe found out that rain is expected and went back for their gear."

Deanna faked a weak smile. She knew that Beverly was trying to lighten the
gravity of the situation, but nothing could quell her worry at this point. "I
can't believe that they would be lost, Beverly. Will is the best pilot I've
ever seen and all three of them are wonderful at logistics....I just can't
imagine them getting into trouble like that."

All three women looked at each other and tried to offer comforting smiles to
no avail. Finally they just sighed and sat back, hoping to hear word soon.

"All right men....chin up. We're going to get out of this somehow," Picard
reached down to pull a bug that was attempting to crawl up his pant leg.

Will looked around them and saw a huge mountain cliff going up on one side
and a huge mountain cliff going down on the other. "And just how are we going
to get out of this?"

Picard looked up at both of them and pursed his lips, "When I think of
something, I'll let you know. Besides, Will, you're used to this climate, I'm
sure your ideas would be of better value. But I think that we need to pull
the emergency kits and rations out of the shuttle and take a hike to find a
cave or some kind of shelter for he night."

Geordi raised his hand with nervous eyes, "Um...we can't exactly do that. You
see, Sigma shuttles are temporary transports. They're not equipped for
emergency situations like this."

"What?" Will and the Captain both said in unison.

Geordi just shrugged and leaned back against the hull of the shuttle.

"Great. I guess dinner's out. We better get looking for that cave. If it gets
too dark, we won't be able to see where we're going. At our luck, we'll
probably all just walk right off of a cliff somewhere," Will stated

Picard frowned at his officer's lack of motivation and enthusiasm. "You are
right Number One. Lets get a move on. We'll find a cave tonight and look for
civilization tomorrow. Lets go."

The three of them with nothing but their coats, hats, and gloves took off
into the dimming sunset to try and find some kind of shelter for the next
twelve hours.

Trail of Revenge" - Part 7

"Well, ladies, I'm sorry, but we traced every last inch of the shuttle route
from the station to these trails. All we found was an empty shuttle that is
completely shut down. Only problem is, it wasn't anywhere near the route they
were supposed to be on. Quite frankly, I think they got lost. It looks like
the shuttle went out on them. They left no sign of where they went or

Deanna and Beverly were practically in the guard's face trying to make sure
they didn't miss a word of what the man was saying. "You mean they weren't in
the shuttle and it's thirty degrees outside?!" Beverly put a restraining hand
on Deanna's arm. In the past couple of hours, Deanna had gone from very
worried to near panicking to extremely frantic. With nothing to do but sit
and wait, they didn't really have much of anything else to meditate on other
than the fact that the men they loved could have gone off of a cliff and
could be dead.

Deanna blew an angry gasp of air out of her mouth, waiting for the poor guard
to continue. "No ma'am. They weren't in the shuttle. It would be suicide.
They would freeze to death. However, we did find a bunch of camping gear
lying in the middle of the route. It has their ID's in it and we think that
they may be going back for their gear. I have people out scouring the woods
as we speak. I'm sure we'll find them tonight or at least by tomorrow

Guinan walked up and put her arms around both women and lead them back to the
couch and the cozy fire in the fireplace. "Thank you officer. I'm sure you're
doing everything you can," she said to him as they turned away.

When they were seated again, Guinean caught a tear rolling down Deanna's
cheek. Deanna quickly efforted to wipe it away before anyone could notice it,
but it was too late. "I'm all right. I just hope, Will, is. And the Captain
and Geordi too," she added, meeting Beverly's eye.

Beverly hugged her close and offered a silent prayer for all their sakes.

In a single file line, Will and Geordi followed the Captain through the ankle
deep snow in the woods. So far, it had been an hour and it was beginning to
get dark. No one in the group knew exactly what existed in the woods of this
planet. When they had camped here before, it had been on the trails where the
wild life was controlled. Now they didn't know what to expect. Needless to
say, Will and Geordi followed very close behind the Captain.

Will, trying to keep his attention on their surroundings, bumped into the
Captain as he abruptly stopped. "Get off of me!" Picard yelled, shrugging
Will off of his back. A few seconds later he stopped again, Will running into
him again. "Would you stop that, Commander?"

Will looked down at the older man and shrugged, "Sorry," was all he offered.
At that very precise moment, a wolf-like cry sounded in the distance. Albeit,
it was a very loud cry that made all three men hunch together automatically.

"What was that?" Geordi asked, hoping that whatever it was, it didn't know
their location.

Will looked around quickly, "Um...I don't know. A coyote?" he suggested.

Picard looked at him, "What do they eat?"

All three heard what sounded like a cross between a bobcat and a hawk screech
as a helpless animal was obviously dinner for their mysterious creature. "One
of those?" Will suggested again, in answer to Picard's question.

When the sound had faded in the air, Picard spotted a cave just about a
hundred yards away, down a hill. "Look! A cave! I knew I was leading us in
the right place."

Both Will and Geordi rolled their eyes and continued to follow their fearless

Trailing the other two men, Geordi pulled out a small pocket recorder out of
his coat pocket and held it up to his mouth. "Geordi's log. We're somewhere
in the galaxy. Will and the Captain have no idea where. Right now I'm
trudging through a lot of snow. I'm beginning to feel the beginnings of
frostbite. We'll be entering a cave in a moment." As he saw Will's head turn
in his direction, he pulled the recorder from his mouth. "What?" he asked at
Will's weird look.

"Who are you talking to?" Will asked, his nose red from the cold and his
hands snuffed in his coat pockets as far as they would go.

"No one. I'm just keeping a log of our journeys through time and space. You
know, like I did last time."

"I thought we left everything behind? Why didn't you say you had that? Maybe
we can use some of its parts to make a communications device."

Geordi shook his head, "There's nothing in here that we can use for
communicating with anyone. I'm sure people are out looking for us. Maybe if
we ever get a fire going, they'll see the smoke or something."

Picard called back to them and waved them inside the cave, "In here!"

Cautiously, all three entered, Geordi pulling up the rear.

"AAHHHHH!" The Captain and Geordi snapped their heads in Riker's direction
when they heard his scream and found a slightly anxious look on his face.
"I'm sorry....I was trying to scare the bears away."

Picard glared at him and gave him his 'warning' look.

Geordi attempted to slow his heart rate down slightly as he pulled out his
recorder again. In a disgusted voice he said, "Geordi's log. I'm wet. I'm wet
and I'm cold. I'm wet and I'm cold and I'm in a cave."

Geordi's log entries were getting on Will's last nerve. At the state they
were all in, anything would have gotten on his last nerve at this point.
"Shut up, Geordi," he said and turned back to the Captain. Behind him he
heard Geordi continue.

"I'm shutting up. I'm shutting up and I'm wet - " that's all he said before
Will reacted.

"That's it!" Will turned around sharply and lunged at Geordi. The Captain
caught the collar of his First Officer's coat, though, before he got far.

"Hey! That's enough!" he said, pulling Will back into sanity. "Now just
relax," he said patting Will on the chest, trying to calm him down. "Now we
need to figure a way out of this mess before it gets to all of us. Will, why
don't you go check the cave for some wood while Geordi and I find something
to start a fire with."

Will raised his brows at the Captain like he had lost his mind. "I'm not
walking around in this cave by myself. There are rats, and bats, and bears
and stuff all over the place."

Geordi stepped up to join them, "Me either. I think the three of us should
just snuggle up close together for the night."

Will and the Captain stared at him. "I'm going to go check the cave for some
wood," Will said, hastily making a retreat.

"Trail of Revenge" - 8
It was well past midnight and the snow now covered the terrain outside like a
huge white blanket. Furthermore, the snowfall that had begun several hours previously,
still continued. Guinan, who carried the least worries of the group, had somehow
managed to fall asleep in this uncomfortable excuse for a lobby. Beverly was sprawled
out in a large chair, dosing on and off. Deanna listened to each of their rhythmic breathing
and wished that she could convince her body to give into the badly needed sleep.

It had been ten hours and counting since the last word had come in from the
three officers who were now stranded out their in this God-forbidden cold. The temperature
was steadily dropping and rain was predicted tomorrow. At the rate the
temperature was falling, it would likely be frozen rain, turning into ice which was even more

Deanna had been focusing all of her mental energy on Will for the last
several hours, attempting to find some sense of him. Finally about and hour ago, she
succeeded. A very faint sense of him filled her mind and she did everything to hang onto it.
Making a decision that she might regret, she looked at her surroundings. From the looks of it,
there was one half asleep clerk at the check-in desk behind her and no one else other than
her two roommates.

Brushing the blanket off of her, she slowly rose, keeping the noise to a
minimum. She crossed over to the coat rack and put on her coat, gloves, hat and other
necessary clothing for her journey into the snow and woods. No sooner had she made it to the
door then she heard Beverly's groggy voice behind her. "Deanna? What do you think you're

Deanna sighed heavily as she was caught. "Beverly, I can't sit here and wait
for no news to come our way. I feel helpless and I can feel, Will. He's alive and I'm
going to find him and the others."

Beverly rushed to the door, stealing a glance at the desk clerk. He was
watching them curiously but doing nothing to stop them. "Look, Deanna, if you go out there
you'll get into just as much trouble as the men. You don't know a thing about stomping
through the woods in freezing weather."

Deanna crossed her arms across her stomach and looked the doctor square in
the face, "Maybe I don't, but I bet if the three of us pulled together, we could find
them. These officers aren't getting the job done and frankly, I'm tired of waiting. At
this rate, my future husband will be dead before they find him. Not to mention the Captain and

Beverly put her head against the wall next to the door, " have a
point. To be honest, I've been thinking the same thing for the past five hours. Lets wake
Guinan and get out of here. Why don't you ask the clerk for some hot soup to go and
I'll get our camping gear together. After, this is a camping adventure."

Deanna did her best to smile at her friend but failed miserably. They broke
off in their separate ways to get the job done properly. Meanwhile..........
The men had managed to get a fire going from the dry branches found in the
back of the cave. Just in case they ended up staying here a few more days, they brought
in some wet wood from outside and placed it by the fire, hoping it would dry as soon as

All three sat around the fire shooting angry looks at each other. This is not
exactly how they intended on spending their shoreleave. As a mater of fact, this was the
worst shoreleave they had experienced. Will grunted and made a twisted face, "I
don't believe this. Look at us. We're sitting around a small campfire, with no food, and
about ready to kill each other."

Picard thought about his first officer's words. They had much truth in them.
That was exactly how he felt. Unfortunately, he being the Captain, role model, and
leader of the group, had to rise above his feelings for the moment and set and example.
Picard thought back to all of the camping trips he'd been on in his lifetime. Finally, he
smiled and regarded his shipmates.

"You know, when I was a boy, my father hated things like camping and
exploring. He liked tradition and thought that I should spend all of my spare time in the
vineyards. Luckily, I had an uncle who was an explorer and he used to take me camping
every year. All year long, I'd look forward to that camping trip. When I was seventeen,
he died, and the camping trips stopped. The next one I went on was in the Academy during a
training mission."

He stopped talking and a saddened expression clouded over his face. "I
learned so much from him. He taught me how to hunt, and how to fish. How to pitch a tent."

"I'm guessing he didn't teach you how to use a compass," Will threw in. At
the Captain's scolding look, Will averted his eyes back to the ground and continued to
listen to his superior.

Picard continued, "Some of the best times of my life were spent camping with
him. Now that I think about it and remember some of those times, I realize just how
much I miss him. If it were not for him, I probably would be back in those vineyards
working for my brother. Wouldn't that be a shame. But considering the circumstances, I'd
probably rather be back in France right now."

Will chuckled, "It seems as if we've gotten ourselves in quite a predicament.
You know, my father used to take me camping all the time. I learned everything there
was about it and I was good at it. No matter what the circumstances, I knew I could survive
because of what he taught me. It's just a waste though that I don't ever remember
enjoying those trips. He treated me like a full grown man and I wasn't able to handle it.
Then there were  times that he treated me like a baby when I was perfectly able to handle it.
You know, Captain, up until I met you, I never knew what a good father was. I know
you're not my father, but I've always kind of looked at you that way."

Picard smiled at Will and put his arm around the bigger man's broad
shoulders. He gave a slight squeeze and clapped him on the back before returning his arm to

Both Will and the Captain looked at Geordi, expecting him to spill his guts
about something. The engineer looked at them, "What?"

Will shrugged, "It's your turn to say something."

Geordi sighed, he couldn't think of anything really, but decided to start
talking anyway. "Well, captain, what Will said about you.....I want you to know that I think
the same way of you. I do have a great father, but you're like my father away from home."
Feeling a little uncomfortable talking about personal matters, he changed the subject
to include the group. "But, you know, I didn't think that we'd make it this far out here.
I guess I'm really proud of us that we did. I feel like I have the strength of ten men."

All the men laughed and began talking around the fire. Later their 

conversation turned into ghost stories and after those died out, they turned in for some much needed

Will woke first, with a start. The sun was just beginning to shine outside
the cave, but he had the strangest notion that they were being watched. If
they were not being watching at this particular moment, they were about to
be. "Deanna," he mumbled under his breath.

Vouching only to spend a minimal time waking the other men asleep on either
side of him, he simply kicked them in their sides, arousing them from their

Geordi jumped at Will's not so tender motion, "Ouch!" Geordi, looking up
to see a very anxious look on Will's face, began to grow worried himself.
"What is it? There's not a bear out there is there?"

Will frowned slightly, disregarding LaForge's question with a certain
earnest. The Captain then chose that time to sit up, rubbing the sleep out of
his eyes. "What? What is it, Commander?"

Will, finally making sense of it all after acknowledging that that was indeed
Deanna outside somewhere. With a sloppy look and a most complete sigh, he
turned to his Captain. "I'd tell you sir, but I don't think you'd believe it."

All three eyes turned to the entrance to the cave just in time to see two
pairs of timid eyes peak around the corner at them. Deanna, upon sighting
Will, ran with a full force right into his waiting arms. "Will! Oh, my! I was
so worried about you!" Pulling back, she held him at arms distance to
check him over for any signs of physical damage. "Are you all right? I don't see
anything very apparent."

Will squeezed both of her shoulders with both of his hands, "I'm fine,
Deanna. Well.....other than a bruised ego," he added with the best smile he
could muster at the moment.

The couple looked over at Will's other two cave companions to see Dr. Crusher
already making use of her medical tricorder. Will chuckled, "Do you have to
do that everytime something bad happens? They're fine...I've been watching
out for them the whole time."

Beverly smiled coyly and eyed Will suspiciously, "I'm sure you have,
Commander. I think it's more like they've been watching you. Besides,
it's protocol and you're my next patient. So stay put."

Will rolled his eyes in the endearing way that Deanna loved. She watched him
sit his large frame down on the floor of the cave, making use of the warmth
the fire still provided.

Deanna soon joined him and he planted a quick kiss on her cheek. "How did you
know how to find us here?"

"We used our tricorders, which proved to be useless most of the way. We had
to get within a mile of you before they would pick up any humanoid life
signs. Eventually, we ran into a trail of footprints in the snow and we
followed them to this cave."

Will had to admit that he was genuinely impressed with the way they went
about things. But they had come all this way by themselves. "Deanna and
Beverly, I can't thank you enough, but that was very foolish trudging down
here by yourselves with no knowledge of the surroundings. You could have
been killed."

Both women looked at each other and then back at their men. Beverly decided
to start her tricorder sweep of Will and she ducked down to his level to do
it. "Well, Commander, if you ask me, you three would have been killed had we
not trudged through all of that ice and snow with no knowledge of our
surroundings. The authorities found all of your gear on a road way off of the
proper route. They also found an empty shuttle, so we assumed the worst."

Picard looked around for a moment, clearly the look of rapid thinking flowing
over his face. "I thought Guinan came with you two. Did she decide not to
join you on your snow trek?"

Beverly and Deanna looked at each other in sheer horror and then gasped. "She
was right behind us, wasn't she?" Beverly asked Deanna, soon forgetting
Will was even there.

At the perfect moment, Guinan came stumbling into the cave, her appearance
disheveled, glaring at the two gung-ho women. "Did you two not see that
avalanche coming over that mountain towards us back there?" She struggled to
even say those very words.

Deanna and Beverly ran to her side. Deanna was looking for any injuries while
Beverly had once again pulled out her tricorder. They were so busy with their
concern for Guinan that they didn't see when she glanced over at the men,
smiled, and then winked.

All three men burst out laughing, causing Deanna and Beverly to stop their
ministrations and look at them in disbelief. Guinan decided to let the matter
drop respectfully though. "I'm just having a little fun with you two. I'm fine."

"Oh, you! You scared us half to death!" Deanna exclaimed with her hands on
her hips.

Beverly decided not to make any particular deal about it and packed her
tricorder away, ready to head back to the lodge. "Well, that was a fun little
adventure, but I'm ready to get back to that lodge."

Will raised his brows in surprise, "You're staying in a lodge?"

Deanna swatted him on his arm, "You didn't expect us to stay out in a cold
tent while we waited for you to get there did you?" 

Will shrugged it off, "You're right. It's just too bad that this trip
turned out so badly. We didn't get a chance to really go camping."

Everyone was on their way out of the cave, heading back towards the lodge
when Deanna turned to her fiance, "It just so happens that they have a few
rooms left. maybe we can all rent three rooms and finish our camping trip
there. There's a fireplace in each room with all the hot cocoa you can

Will almost laughed at her childish excitement, "Better yet, why don't we
rent a room and send everyone else out camping."

Deanna laughed, "Sounds like a divine plan if you ask me." She took his arm
and he escorted her out of the cave.
Several hours later, Will and Deanna were curled up by the fire in one of the
suites of the lodge. A blanket stretched out over both of their bodies while
they indulged themselves in a mug of hot chocolate.

Will sat behind Deanna and nuzzled her neck, "You know the thing I hate about
all of this?"

Deanna smiled as his breath tickled her senses. "What's that, Imzadi?"

Will nibbled at her ear before answering, "The thing I hate is that we
didn't get our sweet revenge on you two like I had been planning."

Deanna turned around to face him fully and then kissed him on the lips,
slowly and tenderly. "Very true, Commander. But unfortunately that's the
way it was meant to be, my dear."

Will snickered, "Oh really? Well then I guess I can count on it being that
way when we get married too?"

Deanna just smiled her loving smile and kissed him again. "Exactly. Now, if
you'll excuse me, I'm going to take advantage of that huge bubble bath in
the bathroom."

She got up to leave but Will grabbed her hand before she could get away,
"Wait! I had to sleep in a cold, dark, cave with two other guys last night
and you're just going to leave me here, sitting alone by the fire while you
indulge yourself in your favorite pastime?"

She stepped out of his reach and darted for the bathroom before he could
catch her hand again. She stopped and looked back out at him just before she
closed the door. "Sweet revenge is always mine, my love."