Title: Hostage
Author: Sarajayne& Di
Rating: angst, violence, terror and of course yes, leering looks
Archive: Only on Imzadi Everlasting
Feedback: Do we need to ask or shall we just stop emailing you posts?

Disclaimer: TPTB own them, Di plays with them, and I stick the bits
back together again ;-)



Will stood and sighed inwardly as his hand finally clasped that of
the man across from him, indicating that an understanding had finally
been reached. The agreement of the delegation that echoed around the
high-vaulted room was sweet music to Commander William T. Riker's
ears as the negotiations finally drew to a close. As he gazed at the
flamboyant surroundings, he chuckled as he took in the décor of
ambassadorial quarters of the Trill Fashar. To call it a typical
room was somewhat of a misnomer. It was, he estimated, not much
smaller than one of the Enterprise's shuttle bays; but with far
better acoustics. Will smothered a smile as he imagined the warm
notes of his trombone filling the wonderfully designed room, stifling
a rebellious chuckle at the knowledge that Odan, the only Trill he
had previously known, would have crawled for cover at the sound of
the instrument Will loved best. He shrugged uncomfortably for a
moment, realizing that the small bit of information he just retrieved
from his subconscious was only a minute piece of the vast amount of
personal information he'd unwillingly absorbed while hosting a
well-respected Trill ambassador within his own body. Before, Odan had
been a diplomate and consummately tactful, but once joined with Will,
he had been unable to hide his intense dislike of the instrument.

"Commander?" Fashar's voice broke in. "Are you well?" He asked
unexpectedly. Closely watching the well-known first officer as he
viewed the room.

Will stifled the impulse to shiver at the memory that was still as
fresh as though it had happened yesterday. "Yes, certainly
Ambassador. Please pardon my wandering. This place brings back some
strange memories to me that aren't really my own," he said,
struggling to keep his hands away from the tight neck of his
claustrophobic dress uniform.

The innate reserve of the Trill ambassador softened, and a broad
smile graced his stern features. "Ah yes! I'm not surprised. Your
part in keeping our Ambassador Odan alive is almost legend here on
Trill. Odan is a personal friend of mine, and I am certainly most
grateful for your great sacrifice to keep him alive until a new host
could be found." Fashar bowed and made a graceful sweep of his hand
to the left as he rose. "Please Commander, PleaseŠcome with me while
I see to the artefact." Riker steeled himself and clasped his hands
behind his back in an effort to keep them away from his neck. Both
men strode to the connecting door, but before they reached it a
handsome Trill in Fashar's party swung it open with a flourish. "The
head of my guard, Darnoll," Fashar said. Riker and the younger man
nodded shortly to each other, with Darnoll's gaze lingering longer
over the Starfleet officer.

Fashar's voice deepened and his manner of speech became stiff
and affected. Riker thought if he'd been a bird, he would of ruffled
his splendid feathers to impress. "We are deeply honoured Commander
Riker, to supply this, our most precious artefact for the
Federation's Grand Exhibit." The Trill's eye's fairly glowed at his
impassioned statement, but it was lost on Riker. His eyes weren't on
the Trill any longer, but were glued to the amazing artefact. "The
inclusion of the Armand Tousch with the many exhibits in this display
of cultures was embraced by all of the council, and met with great
praise," Fashar recited with another short bow. A golden glow
enveloped the room as the subdued lighting caught the sculpted points
and hollows of the revered religious artefact. It resembled nothing
Riker had ever laid his eyes on, and could only be described as a
huge pyramid of finely spider-webbed crystal that pulsed and glowed,
towering to a height of more than two metres high at it's pinnacle.
The subtle effervescent spray of ever changing colour bathed them as
they approached, stirring Riker's emotions as an unusual serenity
seeped into his spirit. He stood in awe and stared, the strange
colours reflected by his eyes.

"Such beauty is astounding is it not?" Fashar asked noting
Riker's stunned gaze.

Will shut his gaping mouth. "Absolutely mesmerising Ambassador.
It's use in your culture?" Riker queried while staring at the object
that seemed to almost breathe as it's colours changed with the
movement in the room.

"There are many uses Commander, but the main purpose of the
Armand Tousch was in the coronation ceremony of our past Monarchs.
It was used to determine the truthfulness of those who swore fealty
to the new king. Legend has it that anyone lying as they swore
allegiance, met with a grisly death, though there is no direct record
of how this was accomplished."

"Ah. Part of your ancient history," Riker breathed, still
mesmerized by the artefact and what it represented.

"Correct my dear friend William. It was used before our crossover
to the fairer and simpler system of the council rule. We only use
this now during historical festivities and recreations. It is hoped
that it will be appreciated by your Federation council." The middle
aged Trill pulled a document from his breast pocket and handed it to
Riker. "This document, along with these men, headed by Darnoll will
accompany it's journey to Earth." His hand fluttered in a casual
gesture around the room revealing to Riker for the first time the
burly guards spaced around the artefact. The captain of the guards
caught his eye and the man stared at him. His expression was
confident and his stance rigid as he unwaveringly guarded his charge.
"We are ready Commander," Fashar said, his voice breaking into Will's
brief moment of unease. "You may make arrangements to move the Armond
Tousch to it's new place of destiny," he said, smiling as he watched
the Commander's blue eyes move back to the object in question.

Tearing his gaze from the glittering artefact Riker composed his
expression and turned on a smile. "On behalf of the Federation I
thank you Ambassador. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll need to return to
my ship immediately to arrange for transport and accommodations for
your men. We must depart in a few hours to keep our schedule."

Riker turned to the Captain of the guards, noticing that his green
eyes were unwavering at the pronouncement of transport within the
hour. Darnoll nodded in agreement and began to issue orders as Fashar
gripped Riker's arm, moving both men from the code shielded room into
another highly lit corridor. "Thank you again Commander Riker. I feel
assured that the Armand Tousch rests in caring and capable hands."
Another clasp of hands and a brief smile was shared before Riker
called for the Enterprise E to transport him back. Fashar waited and
watched respectfully until the last of the glimmer of Commander Riker
faded from the room. Highly satisfied he turned on his heel and
marched from the room.


"Well Number One. It seems that things went well?" Captain Jean
Luc Picard asked as he relaxed opposite his first officer, tea in

Riker grinned. "I suppose I did as well as anyone can be
expected to do while being strangled by my own uniform," he stated,
smothering an obscenity as he pulled at his neck line for the
thousandth time since seating himself in Picard's ready room. Picard
attempted to hide his smile behind the tea's steam. "We'll receive
the Armand Tousch in another hour Sir. Worf's setting up security
parameters now, and Data and Geordi have constructed a netted field
to keep it steady in case one of our trainee navigators perform an
unordered tactical move by accident." Riker said.

"Hmm. Ensign Young is a little unsure in his duties." Picard agreed.

"He'll be fine. A nice quiet journey home will work out some of those
kinks." Will winked, knowing how boring a simple cruise was to a
novice navigator. Picard accepted the wink with a smile of his own.

"Thank God everything's almost ready for our final trip home,"
Picard said gratefully, his sigh not escaping the notice of his
number one. "I must confess," he said, "Although this has been
little more of a cargo ship for the past few weeks, I have enjoyed
viewing these cultural artefacts." The softer side of Picard wasn't
often revealed, but Riker saw that it most often surfaced in his
passion for archaeology.

A boyish grin lit Riker's face. "I will say that it's been easier
than our last few missions sir," he offered.

"Quite correct Will," Picard said and sat straighter in his
chair, "and the crew needed a break. "Now tell me about Ambassador
Fashar. I always thought he was one of the more interesting
historians on the planet."

Will raised his eyebrows but didn't contradict his Captain. "I
guess he's like most Ambassadors; a bit proper and somewhat stuffy,
but elated that the Federation's exhibiting their precious jewel."
Riker rubbed his hand over his beard unconsciously. "He's very proud
of the Armand Tousch sir. And rightfully so," he added as an
afterthought. He halted for a moment, unable to repress a momentary
shiver that crawled alone his spine.

Picard raised an eyebrow and waited. "Something troubling you
number one?" He asked, becoming more professional as his concern rose.

"No sir." Riker said and shook his head as he removed the teacup
that balanced perfectly on his crossed knee. "I just didn't expect
that being around Trill's again would make me this uncomfortable."
He shifted his weight and smiled. "It won't be a problem sir," he
hurriedly added.

"Old memories Will?" Picard inquired, purposefully dropping into
a more comfortable presence by using his first officer's name

Will silently fought the urge to squirm, and failing that, stood
in an effort to ease the cramp within. "I kept getting these weird
phantom feelings in my gut, and half remembered memory flashes down
on the planet," he said softly. "Providing a host body for
Ambassador Odan wasn't exactly what I expected," Will said placing
his tea cup into the replicator, his intention now to make tracks out
of Picard's presence.

But the Captain wasn't going to make it that easy on him. Picard
cleared his voice. "It was far from easy for us to accept him in
your body as well Will. But thanks to you, he survived, and more
thankfully, you did as well. It was, as you know, a very close
thing." Picard stood and offered an unaccustomed hand of comfort on
Will's shoulder. Both were deeply aware of the unmentioned romantic
tryst he'd had with Beverly Crusher while hosting Odan. "Try and
leave it in the past where it belongs Will," he said gently. "It was
the chance of a lifetime; a one of a kind moment that will never come
again." He sat back down and leaned back in his chair. "Anyway, in
just a few hours we can look forward to a relaxing travel home."

"One can hope Captain," Riker quipped with a smile. "I'm going
back to my quarters to change before I'm stuck in this torture devise
they call a uniform all day," he said with a grimace. "I've still
got to re-check all the arrangements for our new addition to the
Enterprise's cargo bay, and set up quarters for the additional Trill
escort they've insisted on."

Picard nodded. "Then make it so Commander, and let me know when
we're ready to leave."

"Aye Sir," he said with a quick grin stifling the impulse to run
and change.


::::::one B:::::::

The Enterprise crew stood at the edges of the cargo bay, anxiously
awaiting the delivery of the Armand Tousch. Beverly and Deanna
quietly whispered together while Riker and Picard confirmed the final
details with Data and Geordi. "Our security protocols have been
upgraded, and shield harmonics have been programmed with an increased
security code system."

"So the security code can be accessed only by one officer?" Picard
asked while Geordi discussed the schematics.

The ebony skinned engineer smiled, very proud of the new work he'd
done. "Actually two captain. One set for the Trill guards once their
Captain arrives on board, and the other for Lieutenant Worf. Both
will be needed to release it from its cradle once we reach Earth's

Riker glanced at the Captain. "A couple of their guards weren't too
impressed it seems. They questioned our need to have the second
code, but Geordi managed to convince them of Worf's Klingon honour in
all matters regarding security." Riker added with a rueful grin.

"Trill security ready for transport." A burly voice echoed
throughout the empty space of Cargo Bay two.

"Well Commander. Shall we proceed," Picard asked.

"Certainly Captain," Riker said, slapping his communicator and
confirming coordinates. "Energize," he said.

When the transporters sparkle had disappeared, a new source of light
bathed the cargo bay with its soft glow. Deanna and Beverly smiled
in tandem as the radiance of the Trill's treasure turned their faces

"That sure is something special." Geordi said after a long, low whistle.

"It certainly is Geordi." Data agreed with a solemn nod.

Picard cleared his throat and began. "It is with great pleasure
that I welcome you aboard the Enterprise gentlemen. I am Captain Jean
Luc Picard." He turned with his customary grace to introduce the
rest of his crew. "I believe you already know Commander Riker."
Picard said to the men that made up the small guard contingent.

The tallest guard stepped forward and gave a short bow. "Yes. Thank
you Captain Picard. I am Acting Ambassador Geridon Darnoll, also
Captain of these guards till the Armand Tousch is delivered safely to
its new place of resting." He bowed to Picard and then to the others
present, his eyes fixing on Deanna a little longer than the others.
"May I say that it is a great honour to be aboard such a famous ship.
And please, I prefer the title of Captain rather than that of
Ambassador," he said, smiling deeply.

"You're most welcome Captain Darnoll," Picard said graciously.
"Lieutenant Worf will help you organise security matters before we
leave orbit," Picard said.

Darnoll nodded cautiously as he appraised the approaching security
officer. "No disrespect Captain, Lieutenant," he said nodding to the
Klingon, "we don't require access codes for that which we have
guarded successfully for quite sometime now. Two of my best guards
will stay here at all times, and for now I would like my first team
to retire so they can return to relieve the first watch later."

Riker prayed for patience and resurrected a smile. "Certainly. If
they will just follow me," he said cocking his head in the direction
he wanted them to go, "I'll conduct them to their quarters." The
Trill Captain nodded and Riker left the cargo bay with two well built
Trill's in tow.

Picard turned back to the Trill before him. "Our agreement was to
safely deliver the Armand Tousch to Earth," he said, searching for
the right words that wouldn't offend. "Your guards are no doubt the
best of their profession, but I'm afraid the system will have to stay
as planned. Mr Worf will discuss the codes with you momentarily."

Darnoll huffed air through his nose in annoyance. "Very well Captain.
Now," he said in clipped tones. "If you'll excuse us, we have urgent
preparations to make."

Picard found his brusque and condescending manner of speech anything
but pleasant, but he nodded his acquiescence and directed the rest of
his senior staff to leave the Trill and Worf to their business. His
expression became quickly more bemused after they left the room. He
turned to Deanna. "What do you make of them counsellor."

Deanna smiled and tilted her head. "Very efficient sir. Perhaps
overly zealous," she said. "They feel they've been entrusted with a
very serious job and they seem to wish to do it to the best of their

Beverly Crusher grinned. "Well it seemed to me that Darnoll was far
more interested in your well-being for a moment there than that
glittering pile of crystal" she teased. She leaned sideways and
whispered, "Will's eyes must be green with envy by now."

Troi glared and halted and blocked their way; however her pique
couldn't withstand the redheaded doctor's snicker, and she
relinquished her irritation with a graceful nod. "I suppose he did
stare a little longer than he should have," she said sedately, and he
is rather well built," she acceded in a stage whisper. Picard said
nothing but shook his head, continuing briskly down the corridor
before he was dragged into a conversation he didn't want by his
feisty CMO.


"Worf to Commander Riker," boomed the Klingon's voice at 02:45.
When dragging the covers over his head did nothing to dull the
Klingon's penetrating bass voice, he opened his eyes, the dim light
stabbing his aching head. A deep muffled groan escaped from under the
blankets before he responded coherently. "Riker here. Go ahead Worf.
What is it?" Staring morosely at the darkened ceiling, Riker waited
for the Klingon to finish ruining his last few hours of sleep before
his duty shift began.

"Sorry to bother you sir, but Captain Darnoll has demanded the
immediate removal of our security detail."

Riker frowned and gently slid out from under Deanna's peacefully
sleeping body. He immediately missed her warmth and shivered in the
cold. Still half asleep, he swung his legs over the edge of their bed
and shuffled his feet until he found the soft comfort of his
slippers. "Did he give a reason Worf?"

Riker could feel the depths of the burly Klingon's displeasure. "No
Sir he did not. He said that his team was highly trained and would
not require back up unless asked for" Worf growled.

Will pulled on his robe, visualizing the Klingon's frown and
thinking it would make the Grand Canyon look like a level playing
field. "Meet me in twenty minutes Lieutenant. I'll come down and try
and work this through. Riker out." Will sighed and scrutinized the
peaceful repose of his Imzadi. Moving a lock of hair that had tumbled
around her angelic features, he enjoyed the last of this peaceful
moment and locked it securely away in his heart. Trying to be quiet,
he only made more noise, and his preparation disturbed her. Stirring
slightly, she squeaked while she stretched catlike under the covers
and opened her eyes, searching his for an answer.

"Something wrong?" She asked, her voice still husky with sleep.

Riker's face reflected his regret. "Yeah" sorry. Gotta sort out the
Trill security detail," he said while tugging his pants on over long
legs. "Seems they're determined to do this tour without our
interference." He shrugged broad shoulders into his tunic and leaned
down to kiss her forehead. "See you in ten-forward for lunch?" he
promised, sealing his invitation with a languorous kiss that left her

"Sure." But I'm coming with you as soon as I sort out this hair,"
she grunted while trying to pull her long straight hair into a
semblance of normalcy.


:::::: one c :::::::

Will was pleased at the though of Deanna's company but guiltily
tried to reason her back into bed. "It's really nothing that'll
require a mediator Deanna, go back to bed." His eyes were devilish
and his grin far from innocent. "Who knows, I may come back and
finish what we started last night."

Deanna's eye's twinkled as she walked past him into the
bathroom. "Will Riker, if you even think of going through that
doorway without me, you may never see the likes of last night again,"
she threatened.

Will shivered at the thought of the previous night and sighed
before nodding his reluctant agreement. They proceeded to the cargo
bay and faced the Captain of Trill security. "So what seems to be the
problem?" Riker asked.

"Really nothing to concern yourself about Commander" Darnoll
replied before Worf could open his mouth. "A different plan has been
placed into action. Nothing moreŠnothing less."

"While I have every confidence in your abilities, I'm afraid that
Ambassador Fashar gave strict instructions not to deviate from..."
Riker began before Deanna placed a hand on his arm and gave a warning
squeeze. "Umm, excuse us for a moment," Riker asked. "Problem
Deanna?" He asked out of earshot of the Trill Captain.

"Something's not right Will. They're all experiencing nervousness
and exhibiting aggressive emotions. Not to mention duplicity. I sense
it strongest from Darnoll."

"Duplicity?" Riker said, considering the Trill guards who had been
joined by their other team members.

"Darnoll is joined Will." She said, the words echoing around
Will's mind in shock.

"I thought Fashar said there weren't going to be any joined Trill
on this trip," he said in an after thought, rubbing a tired shoulder
in consideration.

"Well he is and I know it shouldn't be possible, but I don't think
the host is agreeing with the symbiont right now." Deanna turned on
her smile and gave a warning for Will to proceed with caution as they
walked back towards Captain Darnoll. Worf stood without moving a
muscle, he was almost growling aloud with impatience over what he
considered a ridiculous argument. Darnoll had tread on his territory,
and he wasn't taking it well.

"Gentlemen. Perhaps we could discuss this matter with the Captain
in the morning," Will offered, and then froze as six disruptors were
suddenly aimed at his chest. Instinctively he pushed Deanna behind
him before she could even argue, holding his hands up in front of
him. "There's no need for this Darnoll. Tell us what it is you want
and we'll work it out. There are more civilised ways to settle this
than shooting anyone."

Riker's deep voice was compelling, but it wasn't enough to hold
their attention when Worf sprang for one of the guards. The massive
Klingon knocked the disruptor from his hand as he made for cover, and
Will pulled his own phaser and grabbed Deanna as they dodged the
fire. He hit the floor with a grunt, the soft weight of Deanna
falling on top of him when they reached cover. A near miss burned a
hole in Riker's sleeve and he flinched as it blistered the skin
beneath. Slapping his comm badge, Riker debated their next move.
"Riker to Picard. Worf, Counsellor Troi and I are pinned down by
Trill weapon's fire in Cargo Bay two."

"You know the drill Commander," Picard's reassuringly calm
voice immediately answered as if he was wide awake. "Proceed with
your comm link active and initiate contact."

"Darnoll! The Captain's willing to talk. If you'll put your
weapons down, we can proceed to the observation lounge to discuss
this." Riker strained to track the noises in the silent bay while
listening for footsteps.

Edging back against the wall, he thanked the fates that had
brought them in close proximity to the arms locker. Punching in the
codes, Will quickly armed Deanna and took a second phaser for
himself. Their eyes met and he mouthed at her to be careful. Using
sign to indicate that they should spread out, Will waited until she
was a metre away from his position before he called out again.

"Darnoll, listen to me." Silence mocked him. "I'm sure this is all a
big misunderstanding," he began, stopping abruptly when the cold tip
of a disruptor touched his neck.


Fear felt like a knife in her gut when the Trill guards dragged
Will into the centre of the room at disrupter point. "Hold your
fire!" The Trill called out while twisting Riker's injured arm behind
him until she heard the grudging grunt of pain escaped gritted teeth.
Deanna felt Will's stubborn effort not to succumb to the increasing
pain as the Trill shoved his arm upwards, almost to the breaking
point. The Trill grunted, unsuccessful in his attempt to make Riker
cry out.

"Unlock the second security code Riker, and give us a ship and
we'll leave without further harm to you or your crew," Darnoll's
voice assured him.

Will shook his head. "Sorry Darnoll," he gasped painfully, "no can
do." The guard that held him increased the pressure on his arm,
bringing him to his knees before he let up. Will's blurred vision
slowly cleared, and he was weak with the relief of pain. "Darnoll,"
he said, breathing heavily, "If I do that, your Government won't be
very happy with me, nor will the Federation." He saw Darnoll
advance on him with his peripheral vision, but didn't expect what
happened next.

"Unfortunately that means I'm not happy with you myself," Darnoll
replied before slamming his disruptor against Will's temple, "and
that's very bad news for you," he whispered as Will slid unconscious
to the floor, blood now streaming from his scalp. Worf immediately
took the opportunity to shoot once his commander was out of the line
of fire, and weapons flared and sparks flew as once more men flew for

"Put your weapons down," Darnoll gasped, as he lay on the floor
beside Riker. He was obviously in great pain. "Your commander is
badly wounded. If you want him released to your medics, you must meet
our demands now!" He rasped before gripping his barely conscious
captive, pulling Riker tightly against his side as a hostage shield.
The grisly smell of charred skin alerted them all to the fact that
someone had been hit by disruptor fire. The question was who and how


:::::: two :::::::

Picard stood on the bridge, his impassive expression hiding
the straight jacket that seemed to hold his lungs captive. Feeling
powerless, he cursed when Darnoll had said that his first officer was
injured, as well as a hostage. As his fist slammed into the console
he breathed a curse, "merde, how in hell did it happen? But no one
was willing to answer his question. "Data, raise Darnoll," Picard
said, his posture erect as he stood beside his command chair. He
vainly tried to think of any viable tactic but was drawing nothing
but a blank. "Ambassador Darnoll," he said, addressing the Trill.
"It seems you have created a rather serious situation on board my
ship," he said, hoping his frigid tone wasn't lost on the Trill.

Darnoll sneered, but knew it was lost on the Captain. "I have
your first officer Picard," his voice thick with pain, "and I'm
afraid he's not going anywhere but to the grave without immediate
medical help." There was a long pause filled with laboured
breathing. "These are my demands," he said after silence was all he
heard from the bridge. Darnoll fully expected the Captain to
interrupt, but when no interruption was forthcoming he continued.
"Give me access to your medical facilities and a competent doctor
immediately. When our injuries have been dealt with I want your
fastest shuttle, with the Armand Tousch in my possession." The
Trill's handsome features were twisted with anger, his green eyes
reflecting his determination. At the continued silence Darnoll's
thinly held patience snapped. "Picard, until these requests are met
your people will be in grave danger. In fact they might pay for your
stubbornness with their very lives." He punctuated his point by
grabbing Will's burned arm, forcing a guttural groan from the
semi-conscious officer whom he held carelessly in his embrace.

Picard spread his hands apart in supplication though Darnoll
couldn't see him and slowly paced the bridge. "Darnoll. I'll gladly
give your men medical care, but can we not discuss this without using
innocent people as a shield? It seems that you yourself are injured.
Your own pain may be hindering common sense." Picard heard Will's
inarticulate sounds of pain as he coughed, provoking his need to
protect the man who was both his officer and friend. He was already
motioning silently for Data to call for Crusher and warn her of
incoming wounded.

Darnoll swore with impatience as his body cramped, pain becoming
his only concern for a moment. When he caught his breath, desperation
made him more forceful. "I don't have time for these games Picard.
Your medical centre now Captain! And your most competent doctor
attending. No ambushes in the corridors, no security enforcement, and
no attempts to contact your people without consulting me first."
Darnoll adjusted his grip on Riker and the groggy officer's face
twisted with pain once more.

Meanwhile, both Worf and Troi waited and watched from the
shadows, phasers aimed, anxiously awaiting the opportunity to gain
Will's freedom. Pain, anger and anxiety were beating her senses,
threatening to overwhelm the empath. Deanna knew Will was hurting,
but his semi conscious state kept him only vaguely aware of it. But
Darnoll's body was in agony and his mind screamed for relief. Her
sense of him was becoming blurred, and it seemed almost as if his
emotions were splitting with his personalities, separating from
within. The two-fold duplicity of agony was getting worse, disrupting
the fragile balance between the symbiont and host. He obviously
needed Beverly's services immediately, and the fear Darnoll was
beginning to exhibit only validated that belief.

Picard had remained silent and Deanna was about to prompt Worf
when the sound of a multiple beep confirmed that communications had
finally been re-linked with the cargo bay.

"Captain Darnoll, we have considered your wishes and have
decided for the greater good, that you and your men should proceed
directly to our sickbay facilities." Even at this distance from the
bridge, Deanna could sense the reservation Picard felt about acceding
to the Trill's demands.

"Good. Well done Captain." Darnoll managed to grind out. "Tell
your officers to drop their weapons and come out of hiding so we can
proceed to this place you call sickbay." He hissed as he took a deep
breath to mark the end of conversation.

"I can't allow you anymore hostages Darnoll. You have my word of
safe travel to sickbay. No more are necessary." Picard said,
restraining his savage desire to charge the cargo bay himself.

Darnoll answered quickly, arrogance colouring his words. "And I
cannot allow you to have the upper hand Captain. Your
officers...front and centre now! Or you may just find an empty hole
in your command structure Captain." He sneered as he dug the
disruptor hard up against Riker's bleeding temple, forcing another
loud moan from the semiconscious officer.

Picard sighed, but it went unheard by Darnoll. Finally Picard
acquiesced. "Attention all personnel, Counsellor Troi and Lieutenant
Worf, drop your weapons and allow the Trill contingent full access to
sickbay. Captain Picard out."

Slowly, after a nod from Worf, Deanna stood cautiously, moving from
behind the storage canisters. She stood erect as she dropped her
phaser to the ground before her. Worf did the same, though not
without a growl of disapproval escaping through tightly clenched
teeth. One of Darnoll's men knocked both phasers further away while
the others stood guard on the two officers.

"Jarsun!" Darnoll grunted, "take this human and help Geridon,
he's injured," he gasped while struggling under Will's heavy weight.

Deanna frowned at the realization that he was talking about
himself as if he were not Darnoll. Suddenly the grim realization hit
her that Darnoll's host was in grave danger, and the symbiont knew
it. Geridon was Darnoll's host body, not another person. In her
worry over the outcome of events, Deanna was unaware that she was
standing unmoving with her mouth open until a rough jab in the
stomach pushed her backward towards the cargo bay doors. Will was
dragged semi-conscious by two guards who gripped him under both his
arms and dragged him along, almost as if he were their good luck
charm. In contrast, Darnoll's first officer Jarsun, helped the
injured Captain off the floor, cradling him in his own arms, and was
instantly apologetic when any jolt seemed to cause Darnoll pain.

"Move!" Shouted Jarsun. Worf picked this moment to be stubborn,
and when the Enterprise's Chief of Security stood his ground, it was
obvious that he wasn't ready to give up so easily. Annoyed by his
gall, Jarsun ordered Trias forward, commanding him to force the
situation. The young guard was short compared to the large warrior
before him, but the Trill was deceptively strong.

"I said move Klingon filth!" Worf growled again, baring his teeth in
disgust, but all it did was earn him a hefty blow to the face with
the butt of Trias' disruptor. Ignoring the blood, anger twisted
Worf's face, warning the grinning guard. "Look out." Deanna yelled
too late. Another whack from behind finished Worf as he slumped
across the diagnostic panel beside the doorway, and then slid solidly
to the hard floor. Baruwe slapped hands up high with Trias as they
watched the Klingon crumple into a heap as a result of their handy

"Never thought I'd get the chance to bring down a Klingon," Baruwe
grinned. "Maybe we should revive him for a rematch?"

"Leave him there. He'll only cause trouble," Jarsun commanded. "The
counsellor and first officer will be more then enough to guarantee
our freedom," Jarsun said before striding through the cargo bay
doors, knowing his Captain's life in the balance.


:::::: Three A :::::::

Beverly looked up as the doors slid open. Sickbay's normally
calm atmosphere was quickly broken as the rowdy guards pushed their
way through the entrance but their demeanour quickly changed when
they saw her. Their disruptors focused with deadly intent on Bev and
her silent nurse. "Check out the whole place and make sure it's
clear!" the tallest one said, checking every corner. "You're quite
safe gentlemen," Beverly said with a calmness she didn't quite feel.
"You have our people under armed guard to ensure that," she said,
pointedly staring at the guards who had Will slung between them as
she faced down the three disruptors aimed at her. "I'm Doctor Crusher
and this is Nurse Ogawa. Captain Picard has ordered us to tend to
your wounded," she said, her eyes already seeking out Riker and
trying to ascertain the extent of his injuries. The guards dropped
him carelessly onto the floor, and she flinched. Deanna glanced from
her to Will with deep concern evident in her dark eyes before Beverly
shifted her focus back to Jarsun. "So," she said, "In the meantime,
if you'll let me examine my commanding officer for injuries, I'm sure
we can have..." The pressure of cold metal pressing against her cheek
effectively stopped her, holding the next words hostage in her mouth.
"Stop talking and listen," said one of the guards. He hardly looks
as old as Wesley," she thought. But his grin held none of her sons'
kindness, and she shivered as he tightened his grip on the disruptor
and held tighter against her face.

"Darnoll is your first concern," Jarsun said, his expression
fierce. "Let your nurse worry about Riker later. In fact, he can wait
until my men's needs are taken care of," he said, carefully placing
Darnoll on the main biobed. The Trill Captain's head lolled and the
cast of his complexion was waxy under the bright examination lights.
The soft pinging of the biobed alarms confirmed that Jarsun was
telling no lie.

Crusher swallowed her burgeoning rebellion, momentarily
out-manned and out- gunned by the group of Trills. The man on the
bed was in bad shape, but so far all she could see was that he'd
taken a phaser hit to his lower abdomen. While she noted his
life-signs, she quickly scanned him with the tricorder for any other
reason for his unusual breakdown. Her in-drawn gasp was the only
sign that reveal how badly her findings upset her equilibrium. "The
signs are close to the same," she muttered. "Almost the same as
Odan." She pushed down the twinge of pain at the memory of her lost
lover. "He's joined?" She queried Jarsun, her expression deadpan.

"Correct doctor. Don't forget that between the two, the life of
the symbiont is the most important, that is if you must choose
between it and the host." Jarsun motioned for his guard to bring
Deanna into Crusher's field of vision. "And if you feel the decision
is too hard for you and he dies... we'll just even up the odds. "
Deanna's eyes stayed riveted to the floor refusing to meet Beverley's
as one of the guards roughly pulled her closer and absently ran his
fingers down her cheek before running his tongue up her face from
chin to forehead, tasting his prey.

"Stop it now Jarsun... If you or your men hurt her..." Crusher began.

Jarsun glared at her. "Shut up and start working, or the
Commander's next in line for execution." He squatted next to Riker
and none too gently rolled him onto his back, slapping his face,
leaving a red imprint from Darnoll's blood. He examined his handiwork
and then stood, jostling Riker with the toe of his boot until he
groaned. Blue slivers appeared beneath heavy eyelids for scant
seconds before he lost consciousness again.

Crusher regarded her two friends and then searched Jarsun's
expression warily. "Okay. Just give me room and give me a little
time. I'm not fully acquainted with symbiont care," she lied. Jarsun
nodded and ordered his men to step back. Darnoll was still conscious
but silent, conserving his strength until now.

"Doctor...." he panted "this host will not survive," he gasped
through his pain as another sharp jolt speared his host's body. "I
must have a new one."

Crusher shook her head. "You'll be fine Darnoll. It's a nasty
phaser burn, but not life-threatening" she said, not concerned much
about the scorched and bloodied abdomen she was examining carefully.

He grabbed her hand, his grip unexpectedly strong.

"What do you truly know of how a symbiont joins with its slave?"
He said, spitting dark blood. Crusher stayed silent and swallowed
hard at the vehemence of his question. "Our joining is fragile and
any injury to the host body can cause any number of disturbances to
the link," he said. The Trill's handsome features twisted with pain
and anger. "My host fights me even now and our link is under great
strain as he rebels against the demands I make of it. This is the
coward's way that my host has chosen, a coward's way of disposing of
me." He grimaced hard, spitting blood with his next words. "The host
wants me out and has chosen to die rather then let me live."

Darnolls' shocking revelation cut through her anger. Her
professional concern, stirred for the rebellious host that lay below
her fingertips. Darnoll's stomach began to writhe, moving like the
shifting sand under a receding oceans tide, and the host struggled
for breath even as the he denied his symbiont's wish to live. Warm
memories of Odan danced before her, and her damned conscience finally
convinced her that she had to save the host that housed the creature
was so different from the Trill she had loved. "Darnoll, what about a
replacement host from Trill?" She asked, expecting the same
conclusion from him that she'd made.

Darnoll grimaced. "They will laugh at the thought of my death
considering what I attempted to do. The Trill are revered" he
laughed sadly "but when anyone crosses the ethical line they feel is
so HOLY, we're despised then disposed of by the high council of
the joined." Darnoll coughed, his eye's rolling backwards as he began
to seize and his connection to the host grew weak.

"You must give me Riker!" He demanded, gasping in pain.


:::::: Three B :::::::

"You must give me Riker!" He demanded, gasping in pain.

Beverly's eyes widened at his demand and she shook her head in denial. She swallowed hard, her eyes meeting Deanna's. They mirrored the same shock that filled her own. "No I can't," Beverly said adamantly, "he's human and he can't support the symbiosis."

"You're wrong about that," Darnoll gasped. "He can, and he will......Fashar spoke of it. Riker has become .....a.....a h...ero amongst the joined. He WILL be my host!" The effort of his demand seemed to sap the last of Darnoll's strength, and his head thumped hollowly against the biobed.

Crusher checked his life signs, trying to keep the failing Trill stable as she fought to hold off the inevitable. Beverly felt a crushing grip upon her shoulder. "The Captain wants Riker, he'll get Riker," Jarsun said as he assumed command of the unit. Crusher started to shake her head but froze when Jarsun pointed his disruptor at Ogawa. "Shake your head again, and you'll loose something useful doctor," he said, his cold stare convincing her he meant what he said. The comm beeped and Picard's voice broke the tense atmosphere of the room for a moment.

"Captain Darnoll. This is Captain Jean Luc Picard. I understand that you have arrived at sickbay with no incidents as agreed. We need to talk." Several heartbeats later Picard tried again.

Jarsun showed his annoyance by firing once at the ceiling before calling out. "We will discuss when we are ready Captain, not when you wish!"

"Agreed, but if my officers..." Picard barely started. The dialogue was cut short when Jarsun fired again, hitting the communications receptor, disconnecting the system in sickbay.

His expression was grim and set with worry. "Now, doctor," he said, waving his disruptor, "back to the business at hand. Get Riker fixed up. Then complete the transfer or else everyone here will suffer the consequences." He trained his weapon on Deanna to ensure Beverly that his threat was real. Riker groaned, moving feebly from where he lay on the floor as he struggled to regain consciousness. Their voices had prompted him to awaken, and he tried unsuccessfully to speak through the clumsy thickness of an uncooperative tongue.

Crusher tried to draw attention away from the commander. "I won't do it Jarsun. The risks to Commander Riker are too great," she said, her blue eyes filled with the force of her emotion.

"Fine... your choice," Jarsun said, ordering Riker to be removed from the floor, as two men moved forward to roughly pick-up and drop him onto a vacant biobed.

Jarsun shoved Ogawa roughly towards the imminent new host. "Fix the commander up. I want him conscious and readied for implantation." Ogawa stood stiffly and was silent as she looked to Crusher, waiting for the CMO's orders.

"Now!" Jarsun fired a warning shot, targeting mere centimetres above Troi's body to make his point.

"All right, "Beverly said carefully while waiting for Deanna to nod that she was OK, "Fix him up Alyssa, but that's all." She set her mouth stubbornly. "I won't implant Riker with the Trill symbiont unless he requests it. He barely survi..." Crusher's words were cut off as the vicious slap Jarsun delivered knocked her down. Head ringing, she touched her cheek, grimacing as she felt the swelling bruise quickly rise. Dizzily she scrambled to her feet with the help of the biobed, and met Will's barely opened eyes with a nervous smile. Beverly tried to warn him with her eyes, not knowing how to tell him that he may not ever be himself again.

"What happened Bev?" Will muttered, apparently realizing he was in sickbay. His wandering gaze was arrested when he noticed the guards in the room weren't wearing Starfleet uniforms, and years of commander training prodded him further awake.

"Where's Darnoll?" He asked trying to sit up.

Jarsun moved in front of the doctor and blocked Riker's view of Beverly as he stared arrogantly at the first officer of the Enterprise. Both officers would obviously fight to the death to aid their Captains, but only one would willingly set aside all ethics to gain his superiors life.

"Welcome back commander. You're just in time for a joining party," he said, his emotionless stare stunning Riker as the three guards moved forward and held him down. Fear energized the Commander, and even in his weakened state, it gave him such renewed strength that they had difficulty holding him down. Jarsun quickly activated the biobed's four-point restraints and Riker's struggle ceased.

"What the hell is going on?" Will demanded, sweat beading on his face as he continued his struggle while watching them move the instrument panels closer.

"It seems you get the honour of becoming the new host for Darnoll," Jarsun said with great flair. But annoyance soon marred the Trill's features as his captive continued to arch off the bio-bed. "Relax, you'll be receiving a great honour by carrying Darnoll within your belly, it'll all be over in a matter of moments."

Will Riker looked frantically for a route of escape when he realized the Trill wasn't kidding. As soon as he saw Beverley's face he quickly searched the room and spied Deanna guarded by disruptor point, stoically staring at the ground and refusing to meet his eyes. "No," he said, as much to himself as anyone else. "I won't do it. I can't do this again," he said and struggled until the pain from his barely healed injuries and the force of Jarsun's heavy hand against his chest forced him to slow. His horror was barely controlled, and he dimly heard Deanna plead for the guards to let him go as she absorbed his terror. The thought of the re-entrapment of his mind made him crazed with fear.

"Enough!" Jarsun yelled, breaking into the cacophony of voices as he shoved Doctor Crusher against Riker's bedside. He brandished the laser scalpel, it's blue buzzing glow, failing to slice through the doctor's stubbornness. "Start cutting or maybe we'll use you instead," he said before Beverly lashed out, but was blocked by the Trill's first officer.

"I won't do it," she stated, and knocked the scalpel from his hand as he offered it to her again.

Darnoll moaned and he raised his hand. "Jarsun, damn it, if you value my Š continued existenceŠ you must begin now." Darnoll's hand dropped to his chest, his weakness a sign that the symbiont inside the cocoon of his host's dying flesh was slowly losing ground. Jarsun glared at the red haired doctor and clenched his fist angrily at his side. He refused to watch his friend and leader die. Their plans did not include his dying!

Riker weakly fought his bonds, knowing it useless, but the guard ignored him and moved towards the doctor.

Holding eye contact with Crusher, Jarsun stooped to retrieve the laser cutter from the floor. Rising slowly, he never removed challenging gaze from hers. Jarsun shook his head and an unrecognisable sound came from deep within his chest. "If you will not do it my doctor, I must," he said as he stood, towering over her.


:::::: Three C :::::::

Beverly refused the scalpel again, forcing Jarsun to step around
her. He never hesitated as he cut through Riker's uniform with one
swift motion, exposing his vulnerable belly as Riker began to curse
in varied languages until Jarsun shoved a gag made of his own uniform
tunic into his mouth to halt the tiresome noise. Jarsun watched
without emotion as Riker squeezed shut his eyes while awaiting the
initial incision.

A silent tear slid down Deanna's cheek, but she was unable to
turn away as Will's blue eyes went wide with shock at the touch of
Jarsun's cold hand upon his belly. Obviously he was expecting it to
be the starting point for his agony. His sorrowing despair rooted her
to the spot, and she watched uncomprehending as Jarsun stopped his
motion right before the beam should have sliced Will open. Hope
filled her, thinking that the Trill had had a last minute change of
heart. But she soon realized that her hope was vain when he looked
first to Darnoll and then to Riker. His expression looked as if he
were realizing he'd almost made a mistake. Jarsun turned and swiftly
sliced Darnoll open first. The Trill host, gasped with pain, and then
his facial expression changed to one of satisfaction as the small
slug-like creature was pulled from his dying body. The Trill held
the life of his captain quivering in his hands and he quickly turned
to Riker, ignoring the red headed doctor's persistent tirade. He
looked as if he was fighting his true inclination to silence her, as
he gave her a sideways glare.

"Asidon," he spoke quietly to one of the guards. "Hold the
captain while I figure the correct angle to cut for positioning."
Asidon bowed and accepted the gently pulsing being, with reverence
and fear. It's multi-facetted colours, glistened from under the
slick ooze of abdominal fluid. Jarsun's mouth was set and grim, and
he gave no warning as he sliced through the skin and muscle of
Riker's stomach with no anaesthetic and no sedative. Riker screamed,
an agonising sound that could be heard even through his gag.
Diagnostic panels chimed in tandem as lights flashed, predicting the
first officers' imminent doom.

"You're killing him!" Crusher yelled in disbelief, tears
streaming down her face as she fought off the guards hands. She
rushed to Jarsun's side as the tail end of Darnoll slid into the
gaping bloodied crevice that was once a beautiful example of
well-maintained abdominal muscle.

"Then help me doctor," he demanded in desperation as he watched
the Commander's life signs plummet. Fear for his captain's new host
body gripped his chest.

"He's going into shock," Beverly snapped. "Alyssa, two-hundred
milligrams of norvasedric, and thirty milligrams of Kadrinal," she
said tersely as the petite nurse fought her way to the table. The
hypos were quickly slapped into Crusher's hand, and she emptied them
one after the other into Will's convulsing body. Horrifically, Will
Riker was still conscious, and his blue eyes were unfocused, his
pupils huge and filled with tears and terror. It wasn't surprising
that the pain of his non-anaesthetized incision had thrown him into
shock, overwhelming body's ability to adapt. She exhaled with relief
as the narcotics finally began to take effect, mercifully dulling his
senses. His pain-filled eyes slowly drifted to half-mast and his
pupils had dilated into huge black pools as the agonized arch of his
back slowly returned to the bio-beds surface. Beverly blew her bangs
from her eyes as she studied his readouts. His life signs were still
unstable and she rechecked the vascular scan. "Damn! There's a nick
to the abdominal aorta! Alyssa clamp here," she said pointing to the
tiny pulsing stream. "I'll try to repair it." Beverly worked
steadily, racing against time to repair the major artery before he
lost permanent use of his lower extremities. "Release the clamp,"
she said tersely, staring at the readouts as they far too slowly
confirmed the return of circulation to his legs. Relief fuelled the
explosion of anger as she practically shouted in Jarsun's face. "You
bastard!" The same guard who had slapped her before, gripped her
throat with a heavy hand. It was a crude, but very effective way of
halting her tirade.

Jarsun refused to be offended in light of their triumph, but his
smile was feral and definitely dangerous. "Doctor, finalize the
closure and heal him. Nothing must go wrong with the Darnoll or the
host, understood?" he awaited her faint nod before signalling the
guard to let her go, allowing her to draw ragged breath into her
lungs again.

"I'm so sorry Will." She whispered hoarsely, praying he could hear
her as recognition faded from glazed eyes. Sealing the gaping
cavity, Beverly then gently removed his gag. She watched with
growing distaste as his mouth began to twitch uncontrollably. When
his body finally merged with the symbiont, his mind was overwhelmed,
and subdued by Darnoll. Crushed by the weight of her actions, she
rubbed her aching back and wished that she were anywhere but here.
Turning off the restraints she swallowed hard against the bile rising
in her throat. "He's stable and should be fully conscious in a few
moments," she said, her voice flat as she threw down the
incriminating medical implements that she still gripped in her hand.

She jumped when Will's fingers unexpectedly touched her arm. His
narcotic induced haze had disappeared, but his beautiful blue eyes
were now the eyes of a stranger. His trademark grin was terrifyingly
familiar. Still unsure, she stayed by his side, watching as the
Trill's curiosity was made evident by the expression that manifested
itself on Will's face. Nothing could have taken her more by surprise
then his next action. He swiftly grabbed her neck and pulled her to
him, bruising her mouth with a violent kiss. Sputtering and fighting
to pull away, she scrubbed her mouth vigorously with the back of her
hand and retreated to a safe distance while he carefully eased
himself upwards and dangled his legs over the side of the biobed, one
arm still cradled around his midriff.

"Thanks doc...." he paused, accessing Riker's memory. "Or should
I say Doctor Beverly." His cruel laughter mocked her. "Someone fetch
me something better than a first officer's cast offs," he ordered
before carefully peeling the rest of his tattered tunic off his
shoulders. Coughing heavily, he wiped his mouth, before breathing
deeply as if to test his new lungs. Apparently satisfied, he stood,
taking a few moments to get his bearings and then thoroughly examined
all facets of his new host body. Although the joining was new he
could feel a nagging presence in his mind, sort of a kind of mental
attachment. Obviously the joining wasn't complete yet because Riker
wasn't a true trill host. But Darnoll knew he had bonded to this
body that was still reeling in shock. He frowned, feeling the
Commanders' consciousness like an itch that he couldn't scratch. He
stepped in front of the shaking Betazoid, watching her quietly while
he skimmed Riker's memories. She was staring at the floor, her eyes
brimming with unshed tears.

"Something the matter Imzadi?" He teased, lust filling him when
he tipped her chin to raise her eyes to his own. His gaze wavered
fractionally, momentarily reflecting his unexpected confusion as he
wiped away her tears with his thumbs, much like her own Will would
have done. But while Darnoll waited for her answer, his own
temperament prevailed. He squeezed her petite face until she winced.

"I said is something the matter Imzadi," making the sacred
endearment an obscenity in her ears. Deanna's tears now stemmed as
much from anger as from pain. She fought to keep her thoughts from
revealing anything to Darnoll, creating blocks to create a wall
against the overwhelming fear she sensed as Will fought from within.


:::::: Three D :::::::

Darnoll-Riker reeled from the mental attack that had repelled him
from following the link deeper into the Betazoid's mind. Dizzy and
nauseated, he swayed slightly until Jarsun stepped up to steady him.
"I'm fine Jarsun, Thank you," he said, grateful to his friend. His
face twisted with anger, "but if you try anything like that..."
Before Darnoll finished his threat to Deanna his man returned,
bearing fresh clothing. He reached to take it when sudden
dagger-like agony ripped through his abdomen. His fingers tightened
on Jarsun's arm, until the pain subsided. "I'm fine," he said,
answering his first officer's silent query. Darnoll winced, becoming
frustrated by his host bodies lingering weakness. He grabbed the
dark garments and shot an angry glance at the Betazoid, determined
that she should know he hadn't finished with her yet.

Tossing the pile of clothes on the bio bed, he stripped out of the
tattered uniform, sneering at the lingering emotion he sensed from
his host. He knew Riker had worn the Starfleet uniform with pride
before his joining, but Darnoll threw it aside in distaste. "Ah yes.
Much better." He proclaimed, pulling on the long leather boots and
adjusting them over the snugly fitting black trousers. "What do you
think my dear?" He asked, slowly running the tip of his tongue
hungrily over his lips as he watched her with ill concealed lust.

Deanna looked away momentarily to gather her strength, unable
for a moment to face the radical change in her Imzadi. She forced
down anguished tears as she visually traced the faint red line of
abdominal surgery to the waist of his pants. The expression on
Will's face and his clothing were the only obvious external changes,
but internally nothing was familiar. She blinked rapidly trying to
barricade herself against the agony that was fading quickly that
emanated from the Will she still knew. She still felt him through
their muted bond, and when his pain circumvented the strength of the
Trills personality, she embraced the last vestiges of the man she
knew as Will Riker.

He advanced closer and she looked back up. "I suppose they're a
bit tight," she offered, carefully keeping her expression

He grinned, but it held none of the previous owners charm. "If I
understand rightly, it's just the way you like it Miss Troi" he
mocked, shrugging broad shoulders into a mid-thigh length black
jacket. The high, tight collar was styled in an oriental fashion and
enhanced the wicked glint in his eyes. He touched the slight swell of
his abdomen gingerly with his hand and checked the disruptor Jarsun
handed him before strapping it into his holster. Breathing deeply,
Darnoll Riker's sullen expression changed to one of rapture as he
relished the simple pleasures of breathing. "AhŠ leather and the
smell of death," he said and laughed deeply as he gripped Jarsun's
shoulder. "We'd better finish up here, don't you think? We still owe
Picard a visit," he said, flashing a smile that looked nothing like
Will Riker's and ordered his men to wait away from the main exit to
sickbay. Using his manual override codes to unlock the door, he
confidently announced his identity and strode into a corridor filled
with Enterprise security officers with phasers locked on target.
Raising an arm the trill/human hybrid ordered them to hold their
fire. "Disarm your weapons, everything's under control.
At the reassuring sound of the phaser rifles powering down, he
smiled, watching the duped crewmen vacate the area, misled by their
own allegiance to their commanding officer. "Such staunch loyalty."
he murmured. Darnoll had a fleeting moment of regret, thinking that
if he hadn't had his own agenda, maybe he would have liked to stay on
the Enterprise. After all, Riker was the first officer and his
orders were the Captains. It didn't matter to him that they didn't
know Riker wasn't in control anymore. With a shrug and a satisfied
smile, he headed back to the safety of sickbay.
"Well that was easy." he said to no one in particular as he
slapped his hands together. "Jarsun?" he said, draping an arm
casually around his first officers' shoulders and pulling him close.
"I think this is going to be the best heist ever." He watched as
Jarsun's uncertain frown altered into a more confident smile.

"You'll never get away with this Darnoll." Beverly shouted. "Not
if I can help it youŠ you damn parasite." The sound of a slap
followed her angry tirade, and her guard gripped her arm and shook
her until she stilled.

Darnoll-Riker approached and looked down on the redheaded woman. "Now
now doctor Crusher. I do suggest that you cooperate before I do
something Riker would regret," he threatened. "Remember, we're going
to play happy ship mates until we get to the bridge, and if you
don't... " he paused, smiling in a way that was designed to inspire
fear and not comfort, "then I'll allow you to observe my surgical
skills while I remove the Captain's plastic heart in front of the
eyes of his crew.

Beverly swallowed heavily as Darnoll threatened Riker's own
Captain. There was no hint of Will's compassionate nature in the
monster before her, and it helped her to make the decision to play
along for now, at least until a chance of escape revealed itself. She
watched with narrowed eyes, her face still stinging from the slap as
Darnoll-Riker indicated for his men to gather round while he
discussed his plan. Deanna seemed to sense her guilt about implanting
this demonic entity in Will, and she felt her comforting presence as
she placed her hand on Beverly's arm.

Noting the touching scene taking place between the two women
Darnoll-Riker moved towards them. "For Jurant's sake! Keep them apart
you fool!" he spat at Trias, the guard who stood behind them. He
gave an angry glance at the young trill and then turned his back and
ordered them all to move out. "Time to get personal with the
captain," he said making his way through the now empty corridors, his
entourage following behind.


"Any word from Geordi?" Picard said as he grilled Data. He
restrained the urge to pace back and forth across the bridge.

"None so far Sir. Communications are still down in sickbay," Data
said without pausing in his tasks. The android looked up "Sir!
They're on the move. Reports are coming in." Lieutenant Shanush
reports that the situation is under control. Commander Riker has
called off security on all decks." Worf boomed, his ridged brow fixed
and intense, even by Klingon standards.

"Where are they headed Mr. Worf?" Picard asked, suspicion
tickling his mind, curious that Riker hadn't used his communicator.

"It appears they have split into two groups. Commander Riker is
in the main turbolift, and the others are in turbolift three, Doctor
Crusher and the Counsellor included. Both are headed this way Sir."
Worf boomed.

Picard pursed his lips. "Stand ready Mr Worf," he ordered, and Worf
grabbed his phaser, setting the beam to high stun, ready for when the
main turbolift doors would open. As the first lift arrived, it was
immediately followed by the second. Riker exited the first lift, and
it appeared that he truly was no longer a hostage, radiating an easy
state of calm. The Klingon spun his weapon's lock back to the third
turbolift assuming there was no danger in the first officer's

"Number One?" Picard said, curious about his officer's garb, and
noting the pale pinched set of his features.

Darnoll-Riker grinned, "Sir. I've come to let you in on a little
secret before the others arrive, " he said with apparent sincerity.

Picard frowned, his instincts prickling at Will's strange behaviour.

Looking over at the communications array, Riker grinned.
"Computer, transfer full bridge command to Commander Riker." Darnoll
Riker ordered.

"Does the Captain comply?" The computer queried?

Picard raised an eyebrow and took a step closer to his first
officer, wary. "Are you sure you're alright Number One?" concern
turning to shock as Will pulled out his disruptor and fired it at
Worf over the his shoulder. He blasted the phaser from the security
chief's hand in a flash of angry energy, and Picard reeled as he felt
the burn on his cheek as the beam sizzled by.

Worf threw himself forward, ignoring the risk as he gained his
phaser once more, but the turbolift opened and a Trill guard finished
the job Darnoll-Riker had started. They stunned all of the security
guards on the bridge before covering the wounded Klingon, trapping
him and the Captain within a lethal firing line.

"Back off Worf and let them through." The Klingon's face was a
study in disbelief as Commander Riker turned his disruptor to point
directly at Picard's chest. "Watch your step and there won't be any
accidents," the first officer said loudly. "I doubt that Picard's
dicky ticker could take even a low blast from this," he said, and
roughly jabbed Picard in the chest. "Unless you want to find out," he
said with a nasty grin.

Seeing that the Klingon now fully understood the threat to his
Captain, Darnoll-Riker turned back to the hostage at hand. "Comply
now Captain. Transfer all bridge commands to me, and me only." He
pushed harder with his disruptor in an effort to intimidate the

"Commander Riker! What the damnation is going on here!" Picard demanded.

Darnoll-Riker struck Picard, knocking him to the floor as Crusher
and Troi were hustled onto the bridge from the cover of the lift's
interior. "Damnation sir? Well I suppose I do owe you an explanation,
seeing as you've lost your precious first officer and gained a
nemesis. Captain Picard, please let me introduce myself," he said
with a slow nod of his head. "Captain Darnoll-Riker, and not at all
at your service." He said with a chuckle at his small joke.

Aiming the disruptor at Beverly he asked again. "Comply Captain."
Or your chief medical officer's next.


:::::: Three E :::::::

Picard studied Beverly's pale face and swallowed hard. Apparently
nothing was going to stall this man, he was sure of it. Riker knew
Starfleet protocol and that meant so did Darnoll. No matter who this
was who had taken his first officer, he now knew everything Will knew.

Still sprawled on the floor, he spoke calmly, his voice clear as
he stared at the disruptor trained on Beverly. "ComputerŠ transfer
bridge controls to Commander William Thomas Riker."

The computer complied. "Transfer complete."

Darnoll Riker smiled. "Computer. Lock all command controls to my
voice and print or retinal scan authorisation only."

The computer complied. "Bridge command will now respond to
Commander Riker's requests only."

"Why thank you," Darnoll-Riker said. "That wasn't so hard was it
captain?" he asked, and then ignored the man who had once been a role
model and mentor to his host. Darnoll's presence commanded the bridge
like an emperors as he surveyed his kingdom until something caught
his eye. Moving towards his prize, he seated himself in the
captain's chair and swung his leg casually over the arm. "Bring me
Picards crew," he ordered his men.

His enjoyment of the moment brought a wicked grin to his lips. "Mine
at last," he said. "It's a complex web I've woven, and a pretty damn
good one at that," he said, seemingly more to himself then Picard. He
took a deep breath and shifted his position with a fleeting grimace.
"Now it's time for us to talk Picard. I want a ship, the Armand
Tousch, and depending on how well you cooperate or not, perhaps your
counsellor," he said, relishing the sensual memories of his unwilling

"None of my crew are available Darnoll," Picard said, controlling
his rage as he inwardly cursed the capture of his first officer, and
now his ship. Studying the commanders disdainful expression, Picard
was reminded of a time long ago when he himself had gone undercover
as Galen, a rebel mercenary, and Riker had played the part of a
Starfleet officer gone bad. Riker had played it so well that Picard
had been truly grateful that his first officer was who he was, and
not the man he made himself appear to be. Unfortunately Picard now
felt certain that he was about to experience the worst of what any
man could be. This wasn't Will Riker, the man Picard had grown to
respect and even regard with friendship and a somewhat fatherly

"Oh what a wonderful officer you had in Riker, Captain," the Trill
mocked as if reading his mind. "So much knowledge ripe for the
picking," he said, lightly tapping Riker's head, "and yet such
ridiculous scruples." His eyes narrowed. "But if your wondering if
he's still in here squirming around? The answer is unfortunately yes.
It will of course take time to assimilate all of his lifetime of
memories, but once I'm finished he'll no longer squirm, but lay
dormant as a vacant house as I absorb and crush him."

Darnoll's callous comment brought a shiver to the Captain as he
listened to the Trill's version of the truth of joining. "Release him
Darnoll. He's done nothing to you."

"Exactly. He has done nothing but be something that I need," he
said with a shrug. "A vessel, a host." Darnoll-Riker narrowed his
eyes. "So CaptainŠif you're thinking about attacking me, remember,
you'll be damaging Will Riker as well." Darnoll's increasing smile
was unpleasant. "I inhabit this body with full control, and I can
end that control so easily or painfully."

"I assure you Darnoll, that if things become desperate I will do
anything to remove you from my ship." Picard stated, even at the
expense of one of my officers.

A scuffle at the other end of the bridge was lost, and Worf was
subdued by the business end of a disruptor that brought him dazedly
to his knees.
Darnoll ignored Worf, more interested in the polite conversation he
was having with the famous captain before him. "Why Captain, Riker
looks upon you as the father he feels he never had," he said with a
nasty grin. "You wouldn't hurt your own son now would you?" he
asked, watching Picard grow red in the face.

Picard inwardly winced at the pain of Darnoll's words, but he
spoke with tightly controlled emotions. "Darnoll...I demand that you
return..." But the Trill cut him off before he could finish.

"Hmmm. I think we should play a little game to honour the recent
demise of the Commander as you know him. It seems you all hold him
so dear. Let's see what Riker can tell us about each and every one
of you," he said, spreading his hands to encompass them all and
ignoring the frown from Jarsun.
"Data. Now an android with a positronic matrix is something that you
don't get to see everyday." Getting up from the captains' chair, he
walked around the android curiously. He knew that this officer could
jeopardise everything. "So tell me Data, what emotions are you
practicing today? Rage?" he asked, "Or no... no wait a minute... how
about embarrassment? That would come in handy. Let me help you."
Darnoll Riker spoke loudly into the silent room as the crew and
Picard watched helplessly.

Data cocked his head, unsure of what their aggressor was up to.

"So Data, how was it with Tasha? Did you find your multiple
techniques useful?" he said, watching curiously as the Android's face
tightened. "You can consider that a free one." Darnoll said, smirking
as he moved back to his captain's chair, crossing his leather clad

"And dear Beverly, the woman who bedded an Ambassador and then
one Odan-Riker because they both had something you didn't
captain....a certain virile charm, wit and of course... a bigŠ juicyŠ
slug." Beverly's cheeks burned and he grinned menacingly. "Shall I
go on?"

No one answered and Darnoll-Riker smiled inwardly, deciding to
keep the other secrets to himself for later.

"Will, please fight him." Deanna whispered, heard only by Beverly
who placed a comforting hand on her arm. The petite Betazoid reached
for him through their bond, trying to find any scrap of Will still
present within the twisted individual before them.

"So Captain, I have full access to your first officers
memories...all of them. Perhaps now we can seriously look at my
demands. Hmm?"

Bristling inside, Picard inquired, "and what about Commander
Riker? What will you do once your demands are met?" he asked, keeping
his voice steady enough not to betray his increasing anger and

"Take him I suppose," Darnoll Riker said nonchalantly. "I am
slightly attached to him at the moment," Darnoll said as he ran his
hand down Riker's chest.

"I can't let you do that Captain," Picard said. "Commander Riker
is a member of my crew, and a friend."

"Really?" he said, the familiar blue eyes now glinting with
unfamiliar fury. "How do you propose I do that, may I ask? We're
joined Captain, and Riker a prisoner to my every demand. Soon his
personality will have become one with mine, and there will be no more
William T. Riker." The anger didn't abate. "I can leave his body
any time I choose, but rip me out without my consent and I'll
scramble what brains he has left before I hit air," he spat, hitting
his chest with his fist. "Jarsun! We've been here too long," he said,
letting his gaze touch each crewmember," and we have deadlines to
meet." He went to the empty navigational console and leaned over the
chair, leg braced against the console's stand. Hitting several
coordinates, he keyed in the commands on the large yellow panel to
accelerate the starship. "Warp six should do it captain. No sense in
getting there too fast and missing all the entertainment in front of
me here and now."

Darnoll sauntered back to the captain's chair with a Cheshire grin
in place, and in his best imitation of Picards voice boomed, "engage"
as he hit the command pad. Darnoll's maniacal laughter bubbled out of
him. "So Picard do the coordinates 078345 x 87789 x 246236 mean
anything to you?" He sat back and watched with satisfaction as
Picard's face paled.

"Tell me you didn't," Picard demanded. "Tell me you aren't
leading us into the Neutral zone for one small ounce of crystal?"

"Sure...why not captain," he said. He paled suddenly and
stopped, desperately gasping for air. His knees sagged as he
frantically motioned to Crusher. "Help me Beverly...can't breathe"
he whispered, his lips quickly becoming cyanotic.

Jarsun grabbed her by the arm and shoved her down at Darnoll's feet.

As she had known it would, the rejection was already starting, even
sooner then she'd expected. Looking up into his panic-stricken blue
eyes, Beverly was suddenly convinced that it wasn't Darnoll asking
for help. It was Will, she was quite sure of it. Opening her med kit,
she hesitated with the dose, taking her chance by trying to contact
the real Will Riker direct. "I promise Will. I'll find a way to
remove him," She said before stabbing him with a hypo to halt the
symbiotic rejection. As much as she might have been willing to let
Darnoll suffer, he was a part of Will now and she couldn't bear to
cause her friend unnecessary pain. Now that she knew he was still in
there, fighting from the inside out, she had to find a way to help
him beat Darnoll.

The tiny beads of perspiration rolled down Riker's face, but as the
ragged breathing slowed, fresh colour began to return to the
Commander's face as the relationship between he and the joined Trill
was stabilized. "Doctor," he said, obviously enjoying what he was
about to say, "Riker may have surfaced for a brief moment, but he
isn't going to be helped, and I'm afraid there's nothing you can do
about it," he said and viciously stunned her with the phaser. She
crumpled to the floor without a sound. Darnoll took a few moments to
gather his strength, unable to resist goading the captain one more
time. "Now's your chance to be a hero and see to your girlfriend," he
said coldly, kicking the opened med kit towards the doctor's feet,
watching the cold fury burning in Picard's hazel eyes.


:::::: Four A :::::::

"I can feel him Beverly," Deanna whispered, a slight shiver making gooseflesh crawl along her arms and up the nape of her neck.

Kneeling on the floor of the bridge, Deanna seemed smaller than normal, and Beverly's concern grew as her friend's eyes widened with dark emotion Beverly couldn't quite discern. "Some times when Darnoll is pre-occupied, I feel the pain of Will's struggle," Deanna said quietly, "but not all the time. "I don't know how long he'll be able to maintain any of his own identity." Watching Deanna fight her tears gave Beverly a lump in her throat, and she felt her own tears sting. "It's so horrible," Deanna continued quickly. "When he surfaces it's hard to describe, his terror is so claustrophobic. It's like watching someone drown, but knowing there's nothing you can do but pray for them to hang on. Swallowing back tears, she ran both her hands across her tightly crossed arms.

"We'll find a way to save Will, I just don't know how yet," Beverly whispered back. She sagged to her knees. After treating Darnoll-Riker for the second time within the hour she was exhausted. As she knelt beside Deanna she closed her eyes, reliving Darnoll's agonizing collapse. It had allowed a moment in which the real Will Riker appeared. "Kill me," he'd ordered, pain contorting his handsome face. Kill him? Kill one of her best friends? Beverly shuddered. There was no way she was going to kill Darnoll as long as there was a chance to redeem Will, she decided with a grimace.

Jarsun became antsy and when Darnoll-Riker groaned and forced her to examine him again. Pulling herself wearily to her feet, Bev tried to diffuse her anger and attend to her patient. Killing the Trill wouldn't release any of them from this scenario, but it would destroy Will, and she wasn't ready to give up yet. She'd already struggled with her own conscience about refusing to follow Will's direct order, and so she did what she could. Carefully watching Deanna when she could, she observed the toll that Will's joining was taking on her friends emotions. The petite Counsellor had been privy to all Will Riker was going through in a gruesome way that was quiet different then the rest of them. Deanna had said to Bev that she could feel everything that Will felt. Beverly shuddered. Just the look in his eyes the last time Will had been able to fight free of Darnoll was going to give her nightmares. She thanked God she couldn't feel the things that she saw.

Bev moved back to her place and rubbed Deanna's shoulder, and the Betazoid's tears finally came. Jarsun noticed and towered over her. "Stop crying woman!" he said.

Picard frowned. He was frustrated and worried, and though disruptors were trained on him, he stood to protect his officers. Reality stopped him cold when he realized that there was little he could do but provide a barrier between the women and Jarsun's aggression.

"Jarsun." Darnoll Riker's weary voice rasped, cutting through the tension. All eyes were riveted on his struggle to pull himself higher in the command chair. His pallor increased as one hand went to his forehead. "Leave the women alone." Beverly tried to see if this was coming from Will or Darnoll, but she couldn't tell. She frowned thoughtfully.

Darnoll-Riker glanced up and glared at his guards. "Move Picard out of the way," he said. "He's ruining my view of dessert." A lecherous grin immediately dissolved Bev's notion that the real Will might have surfaced. But the grin quickly turned to grimace as the tall ex-first officer moved unsteadily to his feet and swaggered towards his guards, eying the Starfleet officers his coup had usurped. Data was quiet, almost to the point of invisibility. But Darnoll took no chances and had him under guard with three men. His patience was wearing thin and he flung his padd at Picard, his expression unchanged as the instrument hit him in the chest when he refused to catch it. "Tell me what that says." Darnoll commanded. Picard stared unblinking and unsmiling. When he failed to respond, Darnoll lost the tenuous control he had over his emotions and grabbed Picard by the neck. Using his hosts' strength, he forced the recalcitrant Captain to his knees. "I said. Tell me what that says," he said, veins bulging dangerously and causing his face to flush crimson. He struggled with his volatile emotions and then let go of Picard's throat, not ready yet to dispose of such a valuable hostage.

Picard gasped hoarsely as he picked up the padd slowly. Giving it no more then a cursory glance, he composed his response within his mind.

"Before you say anything Jean Luc, I want you to get something straight." Darnoll waited until the Captain was facing him fully. "This is my ship now and my crew. I will run it as I see fit, even at the expense of crewmembers." His blue eyes seemed to chill. "Hence, my dear captain Picard, if you fuck up, I will kill your people one by one until I feel my ship's compliment is as effective as it should be." Darnoll began to pace erratically. "I'm sure you won't mind if I eliminate a child here and there, knowing how you detest them so," he said dryly, his ongoing rape of Riker's memory serving him well. "Or perhaps I should dispose of a few entomologists, or some other useless discipline that's taking up space on MY ship," he added, shrugging his broad shoulders as if it were of no consequence to him. He pointed his finger at Picard. "Tell me NOW Captain. For the sake of those women and children," he said.

Picard stared into the face of his executive officer. Darnoll's smile reached Rikers eyes, but the blue spheres held nothing of Will's humanity in them.

"Captain, a word," Jarsun said, "may I speak to you alone?" Concern creased the Trill's brow while he awaited his superior's reply.

"In a minute Jarsun, our esteemed ex-captain has something to tell me. Don't you," he pressed. Crossing both arms across his chest he tilted his head in exactly the same manner as Riker when reprimanding an errant ensign.

Picard's voice was stiff, his posture rigid. His face was an emotionless mask in an effort to maintain his dignity. He knew that Darnoll was trying to goad him into causing a commotion, but he wasn't going to allow it. He carefully kept his voice neutral and was completely truthful, aware that Darnoll already knew the answers, thanks to Riker's knowledge. "Engine capacity is down by forty percent."

"That's "Captain sir, to you Picard," he snapped, and then stroked his beard absently. "Forty percent?" Darnoll Riker repeated slowly, his expression changing from calm to agitated. "Do you mean to tell me that your men such imbeciles that they can't do their jobs without the first officer holding their hands? Forty percent," he repeated throwing his arms towards the ceiling. "Riker to engineering!" He yelled, jerking the offending padd from Picard's hand and throwing it across the bridge.

His face went quickly crimson again with his rage.

The intercom beeped, "LaForge here Sir," replied the engineer, his voice reflecting his awareness of the Commanders anger. But he was completely unaware of the explosive rage brewing in the Commanders gut.

"LaForge, what the hell are you doing down there?" Darnoll-Riker said, attempting to force down his anger until he sounded almost normal. He paced the floor as he awaited Geordi's answer.


The engineers' innocent query was almost enough to send him over the edge. "Our engine capacity is running at forty percent? La Forge, you DO know how to run an engineering department don't you? Or should I consider Counsellor Troi for the position?"

Geordi's voice left no doubt that he was shaken by his commanding officers attitude. "But Commander, you approved a level four diagnostic. It's halved eng...." LaForge's reply was cut by Rikers response.

"Not good enough Geordi. Not now. Cancel the diagnostic and bring the engines back to full warp capacity," he said, his voice calm, but his expression chilling those who watched.

It was becoming obvious that the symbiont was barely holding his explosive anger in check.

"With all due respect sir. The captainŠ"

"What is it with you LaForge that you can't follow a simple order! Fix them before I fix you and your whole lousy department! Riker out!" Angered, and becoming almost afraid of the ferocity of his own emotions, Darnoll realized that he needed to diffuse the fiercely growing aggression. Growling, he pulled Deanna to her feet and crushed her close to him. "You can help me," he whispered harshly. "Do whatever it is you and Riker do with each other," he demanded. The Betazoid trembled in his grasp while he waited for some kind of mysterious peace to descend upon him. Sweat beaded his forehead, and when minutes passed and he felt no different, tendrils of panic rose and he shook her until she gasped. "Damn it Troi, now," he shouted, his arms trembling as he gripped hers. He was holding her so tightly he knew he would leave bruises, but his anger left no room for regret.

"I can't be that for you Darnoll," Deanna said, making his heart clench with wrenching regret and not a little fear. "You aren't ImzadiŠonly Will," she said, tears now streaming down her face. Darnoll stared wildly at her for a moment before rudely thrusting her away from him and storming from the bridge. Deanna stood trembling, her hand clasped over her mouth, trying to hold in the tears that physical contact with her Imzadi had triggered.

Picard shifted slightly to whisper to Worf, but one of the guards thrust the barrel of his disruptor between the Captain and Klingon, swinging it back and forth between the men. "Darnoll said to shut up. But please feel free to disregard his orders," he said with a grimace. "I would so love the chance to blow this Klingon scum into nothing but particulate." The guard continued to swing his weapon between Worf and Picard to get his point across, obviously not realizing the extent of his own danger.

Worf pulled hard on his bindings, and a loud snap broke the silence as they parted. When it became obvious that his prisoner was no longer bound, the young guard was momentarily stunned by the show of strength. Before he could swing his barrel upward, the Klingon warrior pounced on his victim with such speed that the trill was unable to break his awkward fall, and his neck snapped on impact.

The other Trill were immobilised by the death of their comrade, Worf taking his chance, jumped up targeting another guard as he threw himself into action. Heedless of the broken bindings still swinging from his wrists, Worf dodged and parried. The Trill could easily have used one of the bridge officers as a hostage, but to them this was purely sport, something they'd been hoping for since the beginning of this charade. Eyes following him closely, they allowed Worf to vent his anger, which gave them something to shoot at. But smiles quickly disappeared as he took out two more guards with a nothing more than a warrior's determination and his bare fists. A blue glow enveloped Worf, and he collapsed to the floor with a loud thud.

"I told Baruwe to keep his mouth shut and keep his mind on his duty," Darnoll-Riker said, his deep voice absent of emotion as he stepped from the door of the ready room. His expression didn't change but he sighed deeply as he nudged his man with his foot. "Dead," he said and turned to the other two guards who were standing awkwardly, grimacing with pain but still standing.

"Guntha and Trias are injured," Jarsun said, checking the two dazed men.

The tall brooding host turned, anger swirling in his eyes like a ferocious storm. "What the hell did you all think you were doing?" Darnoll said, chastising his men. "I step out for one minute and you not only endanger our mission and yourselves, but you gave them the opportunity to rip this host's body away from me!" He stared at each Trill, and each turned away from his stony visage. "If I need a host because of your negligence...then I'll come looking for one of you." He jabbed his finger towards them to make his point. "Now clean up this mess."

Darnoll-Riker strode to the huddled group of senior staff and grabbed Beverly by her arm, dragging her towards one of his guards, allowing no time for her to catch her footing as he pushed her into their grasp. Jarsun, one step ahead grabbed her med-kit from beside the command chair and tossed it into her hands as she steadied herself. "You know what to do doc. Now do it or I'll fry your Klingon." Jarsun warned.

Darnoll-Riker strolled back to the small group of bridge officers, rubbing his bearded chin as he surveyed them coolly. He pointed to Ensign Darva. "You. Get up and move over there," he said, indicting the other side of the bridge. The ensign moved uncertainly in front of the commemorative brass plaque of the Enterprise E's launch.

Realisation of what he was about to do terrified Deanna. "No don't, Darnoll. Please don't," she said from her position on the floor. He spun around, but the expression on his face was unrecognisable to her. Her soul mate, her Imzadi was undetectable. She realized then that appealing to his humanity wouldn't work any longer, because he wasn't human.

"Jean Luc Picard. Your officer has conducted aggressive action against three of my own crew. I know what kind of punishment you would exact, but I demand an eye for an eye, or perhaps a Klingon fang for a tooth," Darnoll said drolly. He arched an eyebrow in a gesture that was both familiar and yet alien. Silence met his question. Darnoll rolled his eyes and sighed once more, pacing slowly in front of his once-captain.

"I can see what you're doing Picard. Say nothing, do nothing, cause nothing. Is that what you think? Starfleet hostage protocols, section twenty-one, paragraph three. I know it all too well. Don't forget my host was a decorated Starfleet Officer and has been in similar situations. So good of him to supply me so freely with all this information." His expression was amused. I have every tactic and every answer for just about any situation. Thank god I don't have to read through all that mumbo jumbo your Federation continues to push down our throats." Darnoll-Riker put his hands behind his back as he slowly walked the bridge, his expression calculating. To a casual observer he was just Will Riker, peaceful and poised. Only the clothing and the slight changes in his movement betrayed the truth.

Picard studied the differences in the man before him as Darnoll slowly absorbed Will's neuromuscular control. His own unique body language was slowly becoming predominant and Will's was becoming less and less. There were a few exceptions he noticed, as Darnoll-Riker briskly tugged down on his tunic, mimicking Will's technique without missing a beat. His decision was apparently made.

"I know you hate for life to be wasted needlessly Picard, but because of Lieutenant Worf's actions I am going to have to play god." He faced Picard and studied him for a reaction as he pointed his disruptor in the direction of the clueless Ensign. "I think poor Baruwe would appreciate this execution in his honour." The disruptor spat fire just as a high-pitched objection rang out behind the ex-first officer, spoiling his aim.

"Damn! Missed," he said with equanimity, examining the blackened hole in the bulkhead as the terrified Ensign stood dumbly awaiting his fate. His last thought before Darnoll-Riker squeezed the trigger again was that he'd never expected to die at the hands of his own first officer. The disruptor gave up another bolt of red fire and the Ensign was vaporised within seconds, leaving the blackened shadow of his form against the wall.

"Ha! Bulls eye!" Darnoll Riker said, blowing imaginary smoke from the disruptors barrel. He laughed as he patted Jarsun on the shoulder. "Turn that blasted siren off," he said at the bridge alert claxon that warned of unauthorized weapons fire.

"You bastard!" said Crusher in disbelief from beside the injured guards.

"Now now doctor, my mother wasn't an indiscriminate whore," he said dryly, flashing a winning smile towards the furious Captain.

Picard was just now beginning to see how dangerous a man like Will Riker could be were he not restrained by honour and duty.

Darnoll kicked Baruwe's body gently before moving to stand before Deanna and kneel down to peer into the face of his host's fiancé. "Speaking of indiscriminate, I know you know all about your 'Imzadi's' past. It's not like either of you have been celibate since your boarding back on the E."
"Do you know how many women this man has had over the years? How many he dreamed were you, and how many he did not?" He gently asked, running the back of his forefinger down her cheek. When you're mine my dear, I'll show you more respect then your so called Imzadi ever did," he said, his face a parody of tenderness.

Deanna twisted away from the vile creature before her. It was Will's body but it wasn't Will. A fleeting wisp of his grief had touched her mind as the young ensign had disappeared in the blast of the disrupter beam. She thought she could feel him faintly as he struggled against the newly constructed brig Darnoll had built around his soul. "Let him go. Please Darnoll," she whispered her entreaty.

Darnoll-Riker smiled knowingly and continued to trace a path down her cheek with his finger. Within seconds he had Deanna's face held in his hands and lips joined to hers, relishing the sweetness of her breath as she struggled against him. Pulling away, breathing heavily, he gazed into her eyes, heady with desire for her, Riker's memories dancing in his head.

With a quick twist of his hand, Jarsun motioned the guards to close in and train their disruptors on Picard and Data as they moved to object about the counsellor's treatment. Picard froze, truly hoping that whatever Will had become, that Darnoll would want to preserve Deanna Troi intact. As Jarsun kept watch, Darnoll strove to keep her eye contact. "You're so beautiful Deanna. Why did he waste his time bedding second class whores when you offered yourself to him so long ago?" He queried quietly. "Such a waste." Quelling his desire to have her then and there, he shook his head and lent forward to give her chaste kiss to her cheek. Giving her one last look, he rose and turned back to Jarsun.
"Keep an eye on them while I check engineering," he said quietly before heading for the turbolift. He glanced backwards at Troi once more. "We shall meet in private later Counsellor. Perhaps a less tragic surrounding will help you to respond in the way I know you're capable of." He winked before the turbolift door cut off his view of her terrified eyes.


:::::: Four B :::::::

Engineering buzzed with activity as Geordi LaForge,
performed last minute checks before initiating the captain's plan. He
hadn't been informed of the hostage situation in sickbay, but he knew
something wasn't right. Riker's behaviour had stunned him, and he
could only guess that the Enterprise was no longer under Picard's
command. The fact that the bridge commands were under Riker's control
made the first officer's outburst even more suspicious to the chief
engineer. "Ok Gianelli! Get that coupling secured and we're ready to
go!" He called out.

"Go where exactly Mr Laforge?" the suspicious voice of his
commander asked from behind him.
Geordi hadn't noticed Riker's entrance to engineering, and the
voice coming out of nowhere startled him into banging his head. He
swore, rubbing it as he stood to stand before the second in command.
"Commander Riker! If I'd known you were on your way down sir, I would
of had the boys clean up this mess earlier," he said covering his
nervousness with a joke. The commander's smile illuminated his face
and Geordi tried not to stare at Riker's choice of clothes.

Noticing the engineers' intrigue, Riker grinned. The glint of
mirth in his eyes predicting the dark humour to come. "Then I guess
you didn't get the memo?"

"UhŠmemo Sir?" Geordi asked, his scalp prickling uncomfortably.

Darnoll-Riker widened his grin, but not pleasantly. "Yep. The
one announcing my promotion to Captain Riker," he said, moving away
from Geordi as he examined the engineering console, checking that
data Geordi had been entering previous to his arrival.

"No I didn't get that one," the engineer said, looking up into
the eyes of his very intimidating commanding officer. "Is Captain
Picard alright Sir?" he asked, dropping his eyes for a second before
noting the strangely skewed thermal patterns that emanated from
Riker. It was almost as if he were fighting the control of some sort
of alien illness. Geordi shook his head slightly when he realized
that the true problem lay in the odd heat source within the first
officers abdomen. When it moved slightly, it jogged the memory of
where he'd seen these same readings before. Standing before him was a
Trill who had inhabited an unwilling starfleet officer with over
twenty-five years of knowledge. Commander Riker was hosting a Trill
again, but this time it was against his will, and it wasn't an
ambassador of peace, but a rebel symbiont.

"Picard is fine for the moment," Riker replied still reading the
various display screens on the central console.

"Is there something I can do for you Sir?" Geordi said,
beginning to perspire. He was wary, and realized that Riker knew of
his discomfort.

The big first officer shifted his weight and shook his head.
"Nothing that..." his knees buckled briefly without notice, his hands
slamming down on the console to keep himself upright, soon clenching
the edge of the surface in a white knuckled grip. Darnoll-Riker's
face became paler by the minute as he sank slowly to his knees.
Familiar blue eyes widened in agonizing distress before he finally

"Don't trust me Geordi." Riker pleaded as beads of sweat dripped
down his face, beating the console in a staccato pattern. "Darnoll
joined...against... my will." he gasped before his mouth widened in
pain and his body's spasmodic movement betrayed him. His hand shook
as he frantically searched for the hidden pocket within his long
black jacket. He pulled out a silver hypo filled with glistening
blue liquid, and with jerky movements, he desperately pressed it to
his neck, eyes closed, silently pleading for a release from the pain.
The hiss of it on his skin seemed to bring instant relief, and colour
soon flooded his face. Geordi watched as his Commander gasped like a
drowning victim as he gulped long rasping breaths into his lungs
until the medication took full effect. When he looked up at
Geordi, Darnoll-Riker was in control, his features pinched with pain.
"As I was saying Mr Laforge, there's nothing to worry about. I want
full warp capabilities exactly when I want them, regardless of
previous orders. So fix it now or I'll find someone who will." His
brilliant blue eyes flashed with momentary anger at Riker's brief

"The captain?" Geordi prompted.

"Is a little tied up." Riker stated, still sluggish, as he raked
through Riker's mind for more data. It was getting easier for him to
access Riker's memories, but he still tired at the effort of breaking
down the first officer's flimsy walls. "So what did Picard have you
working on?" He said, noting the nervous twitch of facial muscles
that gave Geordi away.

"Just a few internal sensor improvements," Geordi said, trying
to unobtrusively quell his body language. But Darnoll's knowing
smile let him know he wasn't fooling him.

"Anaesthetic gas seems more like an internal weapon LaForge.
Something chemically that might be useful only in knocking out
say...a Trill symbiont. He stroked his bearded chin with forefinger
and thumb, his action a parody of Riker's actions when pondering a
choice. "Don't make the mistake of thinking Riker is going to come
back to aide you LaForge. I am Captain Darnoll-Riker now. And I'm in
charge, not Riker.

"SirŠ it's not what it seems." Geordi back-pedalled.

Darnoll pushed himself away from the console and frowned as he
pinned Geordi with his penetrating stare. "Mr LaForge, I don't like
attempts on my life, very much the same as I'm sure you don't like to
suffer unnecessary losses on your engineering team." He paused to add
dramatic emphasis, raising one eyebrow. "Disable this data block and
destroy the knowledge, now," he said, clasping his hands behind his


"Now Mr. Laforge," he said, sounding far more annoyed then
dangerous. "What is it with you people that every time I make a
request I have to kill someone to make my point." He sighed

Geordi carefully began to punch a few keys, extremely wary of the
disruptor that Riker pulled out of the holster strapped to his
leather clad thigh. Watching carefully with his peripheral vision,
Geordi saw his ensigns nod silently that everything was ready, and
just in time. Adhering to the Trill's commands, he gently tapped
several touch sensitive membranes, changing coordinates, and then
paused before hitting the last. "Well as you requested Sir.
Destruction is underway." He hit the last button and ducked under the
console as noxious gases poured into the room. Riker fired recklessly
in retaliation where the engineer had stood scant moments before.

"Jarsun!" he shouted, coughing heavily as the fumes choked him.
He stumbled closer to the exit but found the doors locked. Banging
helplessly on the duranium alloy, he turned and aimed for attackers,
but saw no one but himself within the dense fog. "Laforge kill the
gas now, or Picard dies." He said, gasping for fresh air, reeling
while his body felt as if it were being torn into two. Dropping to
the carpeted floor, he could feel his human host struggling to break
free. The nausea of the unstable joining sent him to his hands and
knees, his disruptor thudding to the floor before him.

"Terminate the gas.......Geordi!" he said, ending with a quiet
whisper that came from Will Riker as he bowed over in pain; but he
was heard by none.

The communication's network flared to life with a single beep.
"Mr Laforge, discontinue Plan Beta," Picard commanded. Geordi
programmed the gas to dissipate, and then ran to his commanding
officer. "Mr Laforge, a doctor will be sent down shortly," a strange
voice came through communications. "Any attempt to touch Captain
Darnoll will be considered hostile, and hostile action will result in
your departments crew being culled." Geordi's shoulders slumped in
defeat, and he hurriedly checked to see that his men were unharmed.

Darnoll-Riker lay gasping on the floor, curled tightly into a
foetal position as a strange battle raged on his face. Fear and
determination warred with feral hatred, and then back again as each
tried to take control. Darnoll groaned as each identity fought for
supremacy of Will Riker's body. Main engineering doors swished open
and Dr. Beverly Crusher entered at disruptor point. Moving quickly to
Will's side. She lay her hand gently on his thrashing body as his
blue eyes pleaded with her for release. Tears of frustration streamed
down his face as he struggled, trying to embrace the pain. But when
Doctor Crusher was forced to begin treatment with a rough jab in her
ribs by a cold disruptor muzzle, and Will allowed himself to become
overcome by the symbiont. Shaking with cold rage, Darnoll grabbed
Bev's uniform jacket tightly between stiffening fingers. "Fix me
doctor! Now!" he gasped. "Or I'll take him with me!" he said. His
breath sounds were strident as he gasped for air like a dying fish
out of water.

Distraught and still conflicted, she looked to Geordi, praying
for forgiveness as she began helping their captor. The hiss of hypos
and the familiar hum of her tricorder did noting to lighten her heart
as it might have while working on any other patient. She knew she
would have to answer some day for once more aiding this monster and
locking away Will in purgatory.

As the doctor worked, Geordi assessed his crew, counting heads
and making sure everyone was safe before passing a trembling hand
across his bionic implants. A flash lit the darkness behind his
lids, and he snapped his eyes open in time to see the last remnants
of one of his junior crewmen disappear. Swinging his head back in the
direction of the weapons discharge, he met Riker's eyes. The Trill
stood tall and arrogant, the joining with his host stable once more.

"Try anything like that again and I'll take three men LaForge,"
he said, clutching his stomach, but flinging away Crusher's hand as
she tried to examine him. Bringing his weapon up, Darnoll Riker
fired at the console, destroying Geordi's work with a short blast. As
the glow faded, the smell of molten panel components rose and filled
their nostrils with its acrid scent. "Back to work everyone," he
said. "I want this ship back at warp speed with no more tricks. Or
this time the Captain will be taking a short space walk to eternity,"
he said, his clenched teeth making his words harsh as he exited the
room with Crusher in tow.

Geordi shook his head at the mess before him, his heart grieved
at the ruthless execution of his crew member. He had to do
something, but what?


:::::: Four C :::::::

The bridge was unnaturally quiet except for the solitary
beeps of the non-essential stations as they functioned on automatic.
Picard waited, hoping unrealistically for a call from Geordi that
Darnoll had been taken out, miraculously without harming his first
officer. But hope was soon dashed as Darnoll-Riker sauntered through
the turbo lift doors.

"Jarsun! Move Mr Data over here," the man said, gesturing with
his disruptor towards the Counsellor's command chair. "Mr Data," he
said while the android sat as requested. "Please don't take this
personally, but it seems to me that you may be the only key to the
captain winning this little game, especially if Laforge has any more
tricks up his sleeve and tries to knock out this whole crew again. I
need to rectify that old boy." He moved close to the android and
suddenly reaching around his side, turned him off. Darnoll stood
over the collapsed form of Data, smiling. "I'm sorry. I'm afraid I've
had to cut your strings, my Pinocchio." He chuckled at the memory of
their conversation that Riker provided.

Darnoll knew that the commander still struggled inside. He felt
the walls that he was attempting to build, but Darnoll had had
generations of experience in retrieving information from his hosts,
willing or not. The remainder of the commander's flimsy mental
barricades weren't going to last for long, of that Darnoll was
confident. He sighed, thanking the stars that the bridge was silent
as he swung his leg up over navigation and checked the settings.
"Hmm. Amazingly enough we're still on time," he mused, rubbing his
inflamed abdomen. The creak of leather was loud as he squatted in
front of Troi, gazing quizzically at her.

Deanna looked up into Will's luminous blue eyes as he crouched
in front of her, knowing full well that it was Darnoll who stared
back out at her. His desire for her was a hunger that frightened her,
and his gaze was hot as it slid across her body, caressing her but
devoid of Will's gentle touch.

"You've been quiet my dear little one," He smiled dangerously.
"Did you know that you're the most important hostage of this whole
crew?" he said, slipping to his knees as he played with a silken lock
of her hair. The heady fragrance intoxicated him and pulled her head
forward till she lay upon his chest so he could breathe in the
fragrant scent of her hair deeply. His embrace made her shiver,
irrationally angering him that she didn't respond to him as she had
to Riker. "Remind me to reward you when we leave," he said harshly as
he held her at arms length.

"Leave?" She asked, stiffening her resolve to regain some sense
of control.

Darnoll-Riker stared at her, his eyes unreadable. "Yes. I'm
afraid I won't be here to see this lovely ship meet with the
Romulans. I'll be off, travelling the galaxy with the most important
Trill treasure of our time. And I'll have a beautiful woman whose
worth outweighs the treasure itself," he added, grinning at her half
concealed blush. He pulled her tighter against his chest and kissed
her thoroughly until he pulled an unwilling response from her.

Pushing away, Deanna slapped him hard. "What makes you think I'd
follow a murderer and thief." She said wiping his taste from her
mouth with the back of her hand.

Darnoll became rigid and his eyes were leached of the pleasure
they'd held moments before. He slapped her and she fell backward
onto the floor. Pinning her hands helplessly above her head, he
leaned in close, straddling her slender body. "Don't worry Imzadi,
you'll grow to love your new life with me," he murmured as he drew
close and slipped his hand deep under her uniform jacket to feel her
soft breast. When she tried to pull away, he bent down and bruised
her lips harder with an invasive kiss that retained nothing of the
man she had loved for so long.

Disregarding his own safety, Picard rammed into Darnoll and
pushed him off the counsellor. His own momentum carried them both,
and left Picard flat on the floor beside the Trill host. Darnoll
swore as he arose and cradled his side, swiftly kicking the Captain
and catching him in the stomach. Darnoll dragged his hand through his
hair and pulled down on his jacket carefully, awaiting the Captain to

"Very stupid Captain. You are nothing to me and I won't
hesitate to kill you if you so much as step in my way again." Picard
made a move to stand up only to find himself knocked to the ground
again by the butt of a disruptor to the stomach. Worf growled, but
held himself back for his captain and Deanna's sake when the Trill's
trained their sights upon him.

Darnoll slapped the barrel of the disruptor rhythmically as
Picard struggled to rise to his knees, gasping for air. When Picard
looked into Darnoll's eyes he found himself also in the sights of
Darnoll's disruptor. "One twitch of my little finger and your gone
old man," he threatened.

Sensing how close Darnoll was to killing the Captain, Deanna
stood, adjusting her clothing as she moved slowly towards Darnoll's
side. He turned and smiled at her, removing his attention from his
quarry for only a minute. But a minute was all she needed as he
unwittingly moved the disruptor out of the line of fire of the
Captain, giving her the one and only chance to deliver her blow.
Praying for forgiveness from Will, she shoved her knee with all the
strength in her body into his groin. The Trill host dropped to his
knees as he reeled in pain, and his disruptor dropped to the ground
with a loud clunk. As he groaned on the floor, his hands now cradled
male anatomy instead of metal.

Darnoll-Riker tried vainly to keep the pain contained as he
composed himself. Heavy gasps accompanied the waves of nausea as he
tried to mentally isolate himself from the source of his pain. The
pain ebbed and flowed, leaving a momentarily lack of control of his
host. While he dragged himself upwards and leaned against the
operations console, he lost control for a few moments, and his
fingers punched several controls before he slumped into the ops
chair. As he regained command of his failing host's body, he
snapped, "You'll submit eventually to me counsellor, by any means
necessary," he stated before rising awkwardly and stumbling into the
ready room.

Picard struggled up from the floor, his arms now bound as he was
held at disruptor point. He was unable to help the counsellor yet,
but he had seen and heard the small changes that Riker had made to
the ship's control. Obviously pain was the key to freeing his first
officer's will from the Trills command. His smile was hidden as he
pondered his new-found options.


:::::: Five A :::::::

Jarsun approached his captain warily, watching the man
cradling his injury. "Captain? Are you all right? We need to finish

"I know Jarsun." He spat. "Just give me a minute will you," he
groaned. "Damn Betazoid witch." A moment passed before he finally
looked up at his nervous first officer. "Guntha and Trias?" he asked
fighting the aggressive host's personality, waves of Riker's natural
born anger ever present, that kept forcing itself to the surface.
Sitting down carefully into the ready room chair he carefully ran a
hand affectionately over his swollen belly.

"They are fine. The doctor healed their wounds, but Guntha will
be limited to the use of one arm for a while." The Trill paused,
quietly taking stock of the importance of what he going to say next,
one hand tracing the edge of the desk. "Sir. I have served you
faithfully through two hosts, and now this one." He stopped to heave
a reluctant sigh. "I have a fear sir, that this host is not
compatible for you." Fully aware of how many times Darnoll had nearly
slipped from the joining.

"Karnak shit." The symbiont host hybrid, Darnoll Riker replied,
rolling shoulders from the ever-increasing stiffness that was bedding
down upon them. "He's just stronger than I anticipated. Bedding a
Betazoid has given him practice at shielding himself. He's mentally
capable, but not enough to cause serious problems. I'll break him
eventually. Enough to leave him begging not to be disembodied."
Darnoll said, his expression confident.

Jarsun was tenacious. "Then how do you explain your anger sir?
You've always been one to confine your urges, but look at you now!
You have made on no less than four occasions, a full display of the
loss your control!" Jarsun was plainly concerned, and becoming angry
with Darnoll's one-sided view of his mood swings. And all this
without even touching the problem of the health problems his captain
was suffering. It was obvious to everyone, but Darnoll Riker, that
Jarsun was honestly worried about the symbionts ability to survive.
Concerned about his friend remaining intact in the current host's
hostile environment. "Riker's emotions are not under your full
control as yet, maybe you should leave me to deal direct with our

Darnoll Riker stood up, towering over Jarsun as he moved to
within a hands breaths distance from his face. "I am in control in
here," he said in a calm voice, thumping his broad chest, "AND in
here," he said, reinforcing the edict by tapping his forehead. "It's
the people out there that are trying my patience," he said pointing
to the door. "Keep them quiet and obedient, and you have nothing to
fear from me Jarsun. I appreciate your concern as both my officer,
and as a friend from a long time back. But don't disappoint me with
these petty doubts you have about me lacking control." He leaned
against his desk with feet firmly crossed at the ankle, and motioned
his officer to take a seat in the padded chair. Taking a moment to
still the aggressive beast inside.

"Now," he said with a deep breath and a hint of a smile, "we
need to discuss Quarit's arrival and our departure. I know the
Romulans will want both Picard and Riker, the infamous duo, when they
take this ship," he said, a possessive note creeping into his voice,
"but I want this body for myself." He indicated to his host's body.
"That means that we need to hitch a ride out of here before they
arrive, and that's in less then two days."

Darnoll Riker moved with grace as he slid the slim computer closer to
him and retrieved a screen that displayed the navigational charts of
the Orius sector. "We'll meet Quarit here," he stated, stabbing his
finger in the middle of space with only an uninhabitable solar system
in the far distance. "All should go as planned, but if the Enterprise
crew does manage to overpower either us or the Romulans before we
have time to meet our rendezvous, we can at least escape via a
shuttle and hide among these planets for cover until we gather aboard
Quarit's ship."

Jarsun nodded, his face creased in thought. "We already have the
masking frequencies that will hide our molecular identities from
their scans. If they care to take the time, it will take years to
find us by manual methods." Jarsun finally smiled, a rarity. Darnoll
Riker took it as a sign that his first officer was finally back on
the team and pleased to be there.

"And how about getting off the ship if we are under attack?
We've already seen their courage and audacity, there is still a slim
chance now that with only four men, that we could be overrun as we
try to leave. That's going to be a difficult one," he said, his voice
rising in a question.

"We're taking the Betazoid as a hostage," the Trill said,
letting his tongue lightly lick his lips in anticipation. "After we
seal everyone into the cargo bays, we'll transport ourselves and the
Armand Tousch to Quarit's ship and initiate warp speed. If they
manage to escape, then our darling hostage should make them think
twice about firing on us." Darnoll grinned, and the look on his first
officers' face widened into a feral smile.

"But we still have a problem don't we?" Jarsun prompted,
speaking frankly to his friend and captain. "With the engines at
full capacity, 'we' have the power to transport over, but the
transporters won't work on the treasure unless we have the other
security code to release the shielding, of which only that damn
Klingon knows."

Darnoll nodded. "Somehow I don't think he'll give it up nicely,
even if I said please." He sighed, rubbing his belly gently as the
soreness beneath the tightly swelled skin persisted. It was starting
to feel like the insides of this human were shrinking, the tightness
of the cocoon over his symbiont body allowing no freedom to move.

"Before we attempt an escape. Perhaps we should think about
taking Doctor Crusher as well," Jarsun suggested carefully, who'd
been watching the creases of pain around his Captain's eyes grow each

"I said I'm fine Jarsun. But it's not a bad idea, except for the
fact that the red head won't sit quietly." He said gently as he eased
a tightly held breath out between clenched teeth.

"I've found that a little roughing up often works with women.
Teaches them to be compliant." Jarsun suggested.

Darnoll shook his head. "Nope. They're Starfleet officers
first, and women second. This guy knows and so do I." He said,
referring to his host. "Under normal circumstances they'll never
break, except for perhaps the counsellor. I have an theory there.
Having Riker assault her might just break her feisty spirit enough to
become my play thing, something I've desired all along." His
laughter, loud and crude choked him as it turned to a rasping cough
instead. "Damn that witch, see what she does to me?" He said, trying
to be jocular about his condition.

Moving to the replicator he ordered and grabbed a glass of
water and headed for the chair. Feeling light headed from the
coughing, an intense pain joined in and shot up along his solar
plexus making his legs instantly turn to jelly. He sat down hard,
spilling the water and drawing his chest to his knees. One hand white
knuckled the edge of the table in his grip as he gasped out a barely
heard scream as a cramp skewered him in half. "Get crusher in here.
Now!" He huddled over, panting for breath as another cramp attacked
his already sore abdomen. Finally he had to close his eyes and groan
with the escalating agony. It felt like he was being torn in two.
Squeezing his eyes even tighter, the blackness beneath them became
darker for a while, until all consciousness evaded him.


:::::: Five B :::::::

Gentle hands ran over his cold pale flesh and a whispered voice drew close to his ear. "Hang on, you'll be alright." It said as a cool drop of perspiration trailed down into his beard.

"Beverly?" Groaning as a numb pain flashed throughout his entire being. He coughed but halted when the muscle spasm worsened. Clearing his airways, he realised for a brief moment that he was himself. One person. Riker opened his eyes hastily and reached down to feel a bulge writhing under his fingertips. "No." He groaned, feeling the hated Trill still within.

"I'm sorry Will. I can't remove him just yet. He's holding too many hostages." She apologised watching his head slowly nod with understanding, his frightened eyes glued to hers. "Your in sickbay. The rejection has taken longer than last time with Odan, but it's effects on your body are just as bad, maybe even worse in this case."

His hand was clammy as he grabbed hers and squeezed it as if she could hold him in place.

"He's coming back Bev," he said, swallowing hard and trying without success to remove the fear from his eyes. "I can feel him taking over again." He gripped her hand harder until his body began to shake and his eyes rolled back into his head. As he attempted to talk, Riker began to choke instead. Eyes rolling northwards, as his body fought for air.

"Alyssa! Twenty milligrams of Halbutramine. He's going into shock!" Crusher shouted to her nurse. Ogawa's nimble body flying past Jarsun and another guard as they stood with weapons ready, in a protective manner, watching over their Captain as the red haired doctor fought for his life.

"Fail him and you'll die with him. " Jarsun said jerking his disruptor in a motion to dictate his required urgency.

Beverly ignored their threats, her own heart begging for Will to survive, regardless of their wants. "Come on Will. Fight back. You're needed here." She commanded. Riker still continued to choke and jerk unaware of her demands. The struggle with dominance playing out as she watched his life signs fluctuate from borderline to a complete systems failure.

"Fight damn you!" She yelled, slapping another hypo against his neck and pressing the button to the hilt. Despairing as the medication made little difference. Riker's body was rejecting Darnoll, but Darnoll wasn't going to release him. The hideous sight of the symbionts body struggling within Riker's stomach raising her bile. The fight between them for one body ensured, until at long last he lay still and his life signs began to rise.

Checking diagnostics, and issuing more stabilisers, the exhausted doctor finally sighed heavily. "He's not in great shape but he's alive." Beverly said to Jarsun as she blew hair out of her eyes with relief. She carefully opened his eyelids and shined a light at his pupils, peering at the blue orbs that were now heavily dilated and jerking in their sockets. Within a heartbeat, Riker's eyes steadied and Darnoll stepped back in.

"No." Beverly whispered to herself, realising that Will had lost.

"That should be a yes shouldn't it doctor?" He gasped. "You could at least celebrate my recovery like a good little doctor." Summoning up a little of his leftover strength, Darnoll Riker spat blood on the floor as he struggled to sit up. He felt like the warm side of dead. Limbs heavy and shaky, he tried to clear away the minute tendrils of nagging pain ripping, blocking them as he took in a deep steady breath. Beverly backed away but a hand lashed out and Darnoll caught her wrist. Even with his limited strength he was able to pull her closer. "What's happening doctor?" He demanded, knowing something was drastically going wrong. Jarsun had been right, but he didn't want to believe it. The fear of having to lose this hosts body right now was smothering.

Beverly watched as he dropped his head tiredly, fighting the sleep his body was screaming for. "Riker isn't Trill. He's not compatible with your species. " Doctor Crusher explained simply. "But surely you knew that?"

Whipping his head up suddenly, he glared at her. "Odan survived. He's living proof, and so is Riker. They both survived the implant! Why can't I?" Darnoll could feel the subtle changes that undermined the joining. The pain was expected, but the feeling of being jostled loose at any time from a host's mind was indescribable. A mixture of fear and panic bounded about his being.

"Odan and Riker were only able to join because Riker allowed it. You just marched in and took over." She forcefully answered, anger evident.

"You're wrong in your outlook doctor. I did as any other symbiont does. We do not share with the slave, we control them!" He shouted in anger, regretting his actions as he cradled his belly with his one free hand.

Crusher felt her face flush. She was sickened by Darnoll's words. Could it be that Odan was just as bad? She shook the thought from her mind, remembering that Darnoll was nothing like Ambassador Odan.
"Odan did share, as much as he was able anyway. But it didn't last long. Will Riker nearly died in the process, along with Odan. We barely transplanted him in time before they both perished in the same dying body." She explained as if he were a recalcitrant child. "To Will's system you're nothing but a parasite. The Human system wasn't created to co-habitat with creatures such as yourself. His body is trying it's best to eradicate you so he can heal himself." She pulled her wrist from Darnoll's slowly loosening grip.

She could see him searching Will's mind, rifling through his memories until he finally found the truth she'd been telling him. He paled. Darnoll turned to Jarsun in desperation, fear written across his features. "We need to find a new body, but not now. I still have need of Riker," he said softly, shivering for a moment with realisation.

"Riker won't survive!" Crusher pleaded. "He's dying! You can't just treat him like a live in library. He's a living breathing..."

Jarsun slapped her hard. "Shut up!" He looked at the unhealthy pallor of his Captain and then back at Crusher. "What did you give Riker to keep he and Odan joined?"

"I can't. It will harm the host." She said stubbornly, fighting the urge to feel her stinging cheek.

Darnoll staggered off the biobed and stumbled towards her. "Oh yes, you can doctor." He said and pointed to his younger guard named Trias. "You! Take the nurse in the backroom, make sure she screams. We don't want the doctor to miss out on the fun of her actions." He turned to Crusher looking at her widening eyes. "Do we?" He said, managing a careful chuckle.

Trias dragged a fighting, kicking Alyssa across the sickbay floor, under disruptor point, until Crusher gave up in desperation. "Alright!" She said, looking helplessly to Darnoll Riker. "Alright. I'll tell you. Just let Alyssa go." She said, pleading with quiet dignity for the faithful nurse.

Trias mumbled something about never getting any, and swore as Darnoll reinforced the order to halt.

"Talk fast Doc. I'm sure Trias would love another chance to date your nurse," he said, indicating to across the room to the terrified nurse and her salivating captor. "I have a ship to run and a body to corrupt." Then grabbed her and pulled her roughly to within inches of his face. "Now fix it!" He ordered.

"Ok." She took a deep breath and mentally gave her apologies to Will. "We gave him a course of Cortrimized and Dobramol every time Will's body rejected that of Odan. It reduced the white cell count significantly, and slowed the inflammatory responses." she sighed with disgust in herself for giving in. "It allowed Odan to continue living within Will without being fought off by his body as if he were a disease. It's only a limited solution though, and the quantities needed to be effective, rise each time it's used." She offered.

"Like the stuff you've been using so far?" He queried.

"Yes." She whispered, dropping her head in defeat. "Once you start using this, it begins to destroy your host's ability to fight off the smallest chance of illness or disease. Any opportunistic infection could be fatal. "

Darnoll nodded his understanding. "Do it now! And fix me up with a few extra hypos, for when you're not around," he said. Darnoll watched the doctor move off to a side counter as Jarsun made his way to stand before him. "Will Fashar help us transfer you?" He asked.

Darnoll lifted his heavy head and smiled. "I hope so dear friend, I truly hope so. This joining is becoming fragile at the least and very painful. Seems you were right, Riker's arrogance is a trialing emotion to master. I should of felt these differences and recognised my error." Darnoll sighed and slapped a hand onto his first officers shoulder in friendship until he was overwhelmed by a sudden wave of dizziness, making him sit heavily once more upon the bed with Jarsun's help.

Alyssa, now back by Beverly's side, under guard was quietly synthesising the medication needed into the miniature hypos. Both of them aware of Trias as he tapped his foot impatiently. Alyssa was tearfully thanking Beverly under whispered breath, while at the same time apologising for the Commander's predicament. "Don't worry Alyssa. We'll find another way." Beverly said with a comforting smile that nearly hid her worry.

Meanwhile Jarsun spoke quietly to Darnoll, one had resting on his superiors' shoulder as he sat slumped on the edge of the bed. "Shall I get the doctor?"

"No. I'll ride it through. I don't want Trias seeing me weak and in need of a doctor again so soon. We need to keep the group strong and in control." He ran a hand over his belly through the still unclasped jacket, holding himself as he waited for the doctor's return.

"You're host is exhausted sir. Maybe you should rest for a while," Jarsun suggested, noting the dark smudges that encircled Darnoll Riker's eyes. Darnoll took a deep breath, savouring the feel of air filling Riker's lungs and patted his first officer's arm gently.

"Perhaps your right. I'll take this medication the doc is cooking up and then head for the commander's quarters." he sighed, before allowing a small smile to pull up the corner's of his mouth. "And you number one, have baby sitting duty with the bridge and the rest of Picard's vermin crew."

"Number one?" Jarsun frowned in perplexity.

"The name Picard affectionately gave his first officer. I kind of like it. Even if you're really a number two." Darnoll's smug smile graced his face, and Jarsun shook his head, finally releasing a grudging smile. "You're becoming your old self again my friend. I will go to the bridge. Any requests?" He asked, removing his hand from Darnoll's shoulder.

His captain laughed "Hmm" he mused until his eyes lit up with devilment. "Perhaps a little Betazoid flesh later. Could you bring her to my quarters, or is she too much to handle?" He jibed.

"Your wish is my command sir. A few hours it is." Jarsun tipped low with a fancy bow and left a disruptor with his captain.

When Darnoll turned, he was greeted by a look of horror on Crusher's face, as she stood directly beside him. "Relax doctor. I won't kill her," he muttered, grunting as she administered the hypo in a particularly unfriendly way. "Arghhh, just how I like my women, rough and beautiful." He said, and leered at her while trying to clasp his jacket closed. Finally he gave up, and let it hang, trying to appear dignified as he staggered slightly once standing. Grabbing the spare meds in hand, he started forward with Trias in tow.

Darnoll stopped and gave a moment of thought before pointing to Crusher. "Doctor....time for you to return to the bridge. I like all my hostages in one place. Easier to count when the lights go out." He grinned and ordered Trias to take her to the bridge before searching for a place to rest.


The long even strides of his booted feet turned heads as crewmen witnessed the first officer bearing down the corridor. The look on Riker's face made them part, like the red sea, as he brushed past them on deck nine. The crew hadn't been told the truth about the situation yet, but they knew something was wrong. Non essential crewmen had been ordered to the cargo bays, and the captain was unusually silent. Seeing their bearded Commander gave them some ease, even if he didn't look too healthy. If Riker was moving around the decks without a guard then perhaps they weren't under the thumb of the rebels after all. A few curious whispers about Riker's garb were exchanged after he passed by, but other than that, relief that the first officer was still in charge falsely lulled the crew.

Darnoll Riker grinned as the curiosity of the crew became apparent. "Such simple cattle to manipulate." He muttered with a smile as he stopped in front of his quarters, and accessed Riker's memories for the door code. The pale half-light washed over the interior, drawing him in with the seduction of rest for his beleaguered host. "Computer, cut the lights to all but the bathroom," he said, dragging himself to the basin. As he leaned on the moulded counter, he glanced in the mirror, studying his hosts' face. "Damn you Riker, no wonder you've had half the women on this ship begging to be under you, fulfilling your lustful fantasies," Darnoll commented to the reflected vision before him, ignoring the sickness that filled his eyes, and splashing cold water over his face. Using the facilities, Darnoll quickly stripped to the skin and climbed into the cool sheets, relishing the chance to recover his strength. The smell of Riker's Imzadi, permeated the sheets with her scent, mixing with his own, dragging him down into a peaceful sleep accompanied by lustful dreams. Dreams of that one particular woman under him in full unrestrained passion.


:::::: Five C :::::::

The sudden sound of a woman's shrill voice broke the peaceful cocoon that Darnoll had created through sleep. He heard and tried to ignore the man's voice that murmured for her to be quiet. By the sound of it, he wasn't successful. She just continued to kick and call him names.

"Lights!" Darnoll Riker said, irritation breaking through the haze of sleep. "What the hell is going on here? Who decided to break in and have a party without me." Darnoll said, sitting upright and squinting against the harsh lights, fighting the pain his sensitive eyes were trying to hide from. "Half lights," he said, scrubbing his face as if the lull of sleep could be erased that easily. Spying his noisy roommates, his anger dropped and he grinned a toothy smile. "I see it's the lovely Counsellor Troi. I must apologise for oversleeping, and completely forgetting that I had the pleasure of your company tonight." Swinging his legs out from under the covers, his smile was warm as he stood, letting the covers drop and exposing his nakedness. Darnoll watched with fascination as the Counsellor's eyes drew to his swollen mid-section, and no further. Revulsion clearly displayed, destroying her perfect features, as she gazed at that which was slowly destroying her Imzadi. He hitched his smile up higher and beckoned that Jarsun bring her closer.

"Let me go." Deanna shouted, stamping viciously on Jarsun's foot and earning her another backhanded slap, before being thrust towards her six-foot tall, naked aggressor.

"Now now Jarsun, that's no way to treat a lady," Darnoll tutted with disapproval, while pulling the unbalanced Betazoid into his tight embrace. Her face resting hard up against his well-muscled chest, his scent so familiar she found it hard to lever herself away. He moved one hand up along her back to behind her neck and pulled her face up to his parted lips. Deanna became suddenly still, and unresponsive to Darnoll Riker's passion and his crushing kiss, believing that to fight would only serve to aid his need of her. He continued, pulling her body against his as he fondled her with one hand, the other holding her limp form. Jarsun had kept her hands tied, and she was helpless as her Imzadi brutalised her body. Several tears escaped her closed eyes as she tried to imagine herself somewhere else. Darnoll finally let go of her, forcing her away to view the man before her. But he didn't look at her, merely stared at the floor, uncomfortable at having an audience. "Leave us Jarsun. Make sure Quarit's on time." He ordered.

"Aye captain," his man grinned. "If he is, we'll be ready, as soon as we..."

Darnoll interrupted. "Yes! I know...just leave us for a while." Jarsun backed out of the quarters, his smile now hidden behind his mask of calm. A small amount of disappointment rose inside, he'd wanted the chance to witness his friend break the fiery Betazoid. Shrugging his shoulders in defeat, he headed off to the nearest turbolift.


Darnoll paced around Riker's quarters, the starlight reflecting dully off his nude body. As he played with the cord he'd removed from her bound wrists. "Is there something wrong with this body Imzadi?" He said, arms out straight from his sides.

"Don't call me that." She snapped, anger darkening porcelain features, as she straightened her uniform and wiped her mouth heavily on the back of her hand.

"I see. Because I control the body of your lover, you are no longer passionate with him? Surely..." He began, and then clapped his hands together and moved towards her. "You're Betazoid! The body is not want you desire. You only love his mind!" He circled her like a jungle animal. "What does it feel like to have sex with a feeble human mind like Riker's. Hmm? Does it excite you to control his spirit, his soul? The soul of a lower life form?" Deanna stood perfectly still, refusing to answer Darnoll's taunts. He moved behind her and undid her uniform jacket, slowly edging the fastening down until it hung open from behind.

"You and I are very a like Counsellor. We both control this body, we both crave it's abilities. Why you should hate me for doing what you do daily to this human I shall never know." He tutted. "As silent as a statue and as responsive as one too," he taunted as she flinched from his cold touch upon her shoulder as he edged the rest of the jacket off.

"Your cold Darnoll," she said as his hand travelled up to grasp her fragile neck.

"Hmm. A bad reaction to joining with an inferior host." He mused. "Riker's body is fighting me. It'll of course kill us both, but at least I can savour some of the delights of this body before I am forced to go." His hands, Will's hands, removing the jacket from her other shoulder. His sensitive touch had always excited her, but as they slid up inside her undershirt and began to grope her, she felt nothing for him. Her jacket lay on the ground, and she stared at the far wall, unable to ward him off any longer. <It's only Will's body. Nothing matters. > She tried to still the unwanted, but very familiar sensations his hands had on her soft skin.

"Please don't." She whispered into his ear, as another tear fell to her breastbone and he sucked hard.

Darnoll Riker responded not to her plea, but to the pull of his body. He pulled her back against his chest, forcing her to feel the proof of his desire. She jerked away, and managed to flee a few feet before receiving a whack to the back of her head. Finally having had enough of trying to make her see his way, he pulled her painfully by the hair to the bedroom, Troi yelling and screaming all the way. Darnoll used Riker's strength and large body to lift and dump her onto the bed before straddling her.

"Don't resist me Imzadi," he joked, breathing hard. "Just think of this as a threesome," he said before kissing her with bruising force. As Darnoll removed Deanna's trousers, ecstasy changed to a moment of pain, as fire burned from within. A short grunt of pain and then his features changed to horror as Riker surfaced and witnessed what his captive body was about to do. "NoŠ" he begged trying to push away in time. But his lips quivered until a yes was ripped from his unwilling throat. The symbiont had returned before Riker could subvert Darnoll's plans for Deanna. Will was thrashing helplessly inside now, fully aware of what was to become of her, trying anything and everything to save his wife from this fateful end. Whenever he thought he was winning Darnoll would smoother him and destroy is wishes.
Deanna watched, horror stricken as Will's features softened and then hardened again into Darnoll. His control and technique was still too strong for Riker. His struggles smothered as Darnoll ripped open Deanna's undershirt, and her ivory breasts were revealed to him. He pinned her down then suddenly released her with another scream of agony as he sat up clutching his belly, gasping with pain before he collapsed heavily, his body becoming dead weight upon her.

Crushed beneath her moaning captor, she pushed him off with some difficulty, knowing this was her only chance to escape Darnoll's molestation. She rolled off the bed finding herself on the wrong side of the room to the exit. Her attacker close by. Darnoll was moaning in intense pain now, and had no interest in Deanna as his hand blindly tried to search for the doctor's medication on the side table, his vision blurred by agony.

He grabbed the glistening silver hypo and shunted the medication into his body with a sigh of relief, closing his clouded eyes. Clearing his head with a shake. Darnoll panted for a moment as he dragged his legs over the edge of the bed, and stumbled upright to lean against the bedroom wall.

Movement beside him drew his attention back to the real world, as a nimble body tried to slink past him. "Uh uh. No you don't. We're not done yet," he gasped, spying Deanna as she made a run for it. Deanna leapt for the living room only to find Darnoll's fingers around her wrist dragging her back into the bedroom, knocking various objects off shelves as she struggled.

Deanna fought hard, using every technique Worf has taught her, but was blocked each time as Darnoll accessed Riker's hand to hand combat. Felled by a blow to the jaw, she was immediately covered by the heavy weight of him as he threw himself upon her, preparing to take her, willing or not.

"I forgive you Imzadi." She said as she looked deep into Darnoll's eyes, trying to find a glint of the ever gentle Will Riker. At that moment, a loud whack sounded and Riker's eyes rolled up in his head, clarity lost as he became limp on top of her for the second time. She gasped for breath from his crushing weight until someone rolled him off of her. Deanna lay still, stunned at what had just happened, continuing to lie there on the floor in shock until Beverly offered a hand and pulled her up and close. Deanna looked into Beverly's eyes inadequately trying to convey her thanks, as she shook with fear.

"Are you alright?" Beverly asked, holding a distressed Deanna closely.

Deanna wept angry tears. "I couldn't stop him," she said bitterly.

"Did he hurt you?" Bev asked. When her friend didn't answer she gently shook her again. "Deanna did Darnoll hurt you? Are you going to be alright?" Beverly glanced back at the stunned man who lay naked on the floor next to the bloodied horgahn she had used. He was moving but sluggishly. Beverly cursed herself for causing his injury, but blocked the guilt, as she deemed it necessary in protecting her friends. Halting any future damage between the pair of lovers was worthy of a little concussion any day, she figured.

Beverly placed her regrettable actions back on the shelf and decided that getting out of his quarters was the first thing to do, not call sickbay. "Sorry Will," she said, before ordering up a set of clothing from the replicator and draping her own sickbay jacket over Deanna's torn clothing, tugging on her hand urgently to get her through the doors and to safety.


The persistent door buzzed like a hundred hungry ants through Darnoll Riker's head. "Come!" He yelled and then shortly regretted it as those ants became elephants.

Jarsun ran in and scooted up to his side. "Dr Crusher?" He asked, seeing the small-bloodied statue on the floor. The same patch of red, evident on the back of Darnoll's bleeding skull.

"Don't know. Just about to have some Betazoid pie when the ceiling crashed in on me." He groaned and tried sitting up, one hand against his throbbing head. "Get me up! I've got to get dressed." Enduring dash of dizzy he sat hard on the edge of the bed until Jarsun returned with fresh clothing. After carefully pulling on his boots, Darnoll finally looked at his first officer with flames of anger scolding his eyes. "So tell me what the hell happened? How did the doctor get loose?" He said, swaying as he stood.

Jarsun moved a safe distance away from the towering 6 foot 4 man before him. He nervously cleared his throat. "I found Trias in turbo lift four while on my way to the bridge. I knew you didn't want to be interrupted in your ministrations of the girl so I didn't think to warn you sir."

"You didn't think to warn me?" Darnoll Riker roared. "The damn woman nearly took my head off!"

"Yes sir, I'm sorry sir, I was trying to rectify her escape. That's why I returned here ." Jarsun said with another nervous swallow.

Darnoll placed fingers gingerly at the back of his head, frowning at the blood that stained his fingertips, nodding finally. "Fine, that's fine. Get out there and find them both. I'll meet you back on the bridge." He said tiredly. "It's a lot safer there," he said with a sardonic smile as he felt the large lump rising on the back of his head.

"Yes sir." Jarsun said, relieved at his reprieve.


:::::: Six A :::::::

Darnoll Riker entered the silent bridge and glanced in Picard and Worf's direction. They were still seated on the floor, with their backs to the view-screen alongside two other young officers. The last of his hostages, and the toughest to break.

He swaggered over to stand by Jarsun at the tactical station, surveying the day's damage. He thrust one foot up against the console's support to aid his weary body, his stance borrowed direct from his host's body language. Hoping to ward off the soreness in his lower back.

Giving a chilling gaze, he viewed the occupants, accounting the damage done so far. Apart from Guntha, only Jarsun was left from his small band of boarders on the bridge. All that remained of Baruwe was a reddish brown stain and a burn that marred the bulkhead, displaying Darnoll's retribution. Data was still casually draped over the counsellor's bridge station, looking more like a rag doll than a second officer. And the Klingon, Worf, was nothing but a seething animal as he sat there snarling back at his captors. Darnoll's mouth twitched with irritation as he glanced at Picard, moving his attention back to Jarsun. The Trill first officer was starting to look just as rough around the edges as Darnoll, working overtime to locate the two women, who had done enough damage to Darnoll's ego to earn a sudden departure from the nearest airlock.

Any sign?" Darnoll prompted, frowning as his first officer pursed his lips and shook his head. The symbiont and host as one, ran his hands over his face and down through the rough beard, trying to hide his disappointment. As he slowly expelled the breath he'd been holding, a muted pain curled up and around his belly, causing a soft grunt.

"Sir?" His first officer inquired.

"It's nothing," he said, shaking his head. "Just a damn headache from that witch's touch." He probed the back of his head and his fingers still came away with a small amount of blood. Not enough to worry about heading to sickbay for treatment, the host's injuries were nothing now compared to it's full bodily collapse in a few days time. Days in which Darnoll hoped to be perfectly matched and joined with someone else by then. Someone who could handle the strainful effects of holding a symbiont.

A teasing chuckle drew Darnoll's blood shot blue eyes to stare at Picard. The captain was sitting with a triumphant smile upon his face, regardless of the bruises that marred his face.

"The great Darnoll thwarted by a mere doctor." He said with quiet mirth.

"Shut up." Darnoll said, sneering as he turned to read the internal scanner display, his frustration rising as Jarsun continued to find no trace of their quarry.

"Where the hell could they be?" He said aloud. "Locate Troi's DNA. Amongst all this human trash, it should be easy to find," he murmured while tapping his lip with a shaky forefinger.

"I already have sir. No sign at all. They could be shielding themselves," his first officer offered. "Trias reported that they hadn't used any of our bio-equipment."

"I don't care if they ate everything in ten-forward. Just find them," he said, stabbing his finger hard into Jarsun's shoulder. "And make sure that Trias has graveyard duty for the rest of our stay. Damn him for letting that red haired menace loose." Without waiting for a reply, Darnoll strode to Picard's ready room, his temper frayed and his blood pressure up. Lately Riker's volatile emotions were slowly getting the better of him, draining his energy as he spent most of his time suppressing them. How the hell Riker had kept up his appearance as the model calm, cool and collected officer with the unpredictability of these raging emotions was beyond him.

Picking up one of Picard's smaller statue's, Darnoll threw it as hard as he could towards the large volume of Shakespearian literature. It shattered the glass case and knocked the heavy antique book from it's pedestal, damaging the personally valued collectible. "Now that felt great," he said with great satisfaction. Clapping his hands together he proceeded to slouch in Picard's chair and dropped his booted feet on his desk. Picking up the small padd he'd left there earlier, he began to access the ships records. "So Worf. How do I get you to cough up the last clue to Pandora's box?" He mused, half aloud, half to himself.

He knew that the Klingon had had an affair with Deanna, though he could hardly fathom that the attraction was mutual. But he'd seen threatening her wasn't enough to manipulate him and his damned Klingon honour. "Perhaps you'd do it for Picard?" He thought, and a nasty smile grew as his new plan took shape. Lifting his voice to the ceiling, he commanded the communications array to life. "Jarsun! Get Picard in here. Alone," he said. A few moments later and the doors slid open to admit the previous owner of the room.

Picard glanced at his broken backed book, and cloaked his growing animosity before Darnoll Riker could revel in it. "So Darnoll. You required my presence. Well here I am," he said, spreading his hands apart.

"Oh do sit down Picard. I've had enough dramatics today to last many lifetimes." Darnoll Riker said, indicating the chair in front of the table with a proffered hand.

Picard watched the actions of the Trill that was holding his first officer hostage. Will's body was faring poorly, and the captain wondered how long he could last without irreparable damage, or even death. "Give Riker up Darnoll. This has gone far enough," he stated, sensing that Darnoll was waiting for him to start the conversation.

Darnoll smiled humourlessly. "Do you really wish Riker back by your side? After all he's done Picard?"

Picard's eyes were filled with disbelief. "Not what 'he's' done Darnoll...but what you've done. And yes I do! I hold Will blameless in all of this. But you and your lust for power, regardless of the cost to anyone, has earned you nothing but my utter disgust."

Darnoll shook his head. "That matters little to me" he said, his eyes narrowing as he calculated the effect of his next question. "Just what might you do to regain your trusty first officer in useable condition," he offered, knowing full well that the captain would say nil.

Picard's face might have been granite. "As Captain of this ship I cannot subscribe to threats from..."

"Heaven's Picard! I know all about that Starfleet protocol dribble...let me finish it for you....from scum such as me. Am I right?" He said with unexpected malice. Darnoll stood and towered over Picard. "Well for the record, I'm not scum Captain. I'm just a Trill trying to do the job I was paid to do, by someone else who ordered me to steal the Armand Tousch. Now THEY fall into your category of corporate scum." Darnoll sighed and lowered his rant to a mere conversation. "I'm sorry that your crew got in the way, and even that Mr. Riker, your favoured first officer got hurt. But he was the only option for a beautiful plan gone somewhat wrong." Darnoll said, pacing the room slowly, with a very old scrimshaw in hand.

Picard could hardly keep his outrage from overriding his sense. "Will Riker didn't agree to the joining Darnoll. You know that. You took his body without consent, performed what could only be termed as rape upon his mind and body, and stealing it for your own ill-gotten gains. I do not take your picture of innocence easily Darnoll. Did your previous host lose it's own presence the same way?" Picard asked, his bitter words acid. He stared at the increasing pallor of Will's skin and the purple circles splashed beneath his eyes, knowing full well what it meant. He had already suspected that the Trill had started the anti-rejection therapy when he saw the hypo's Darnoll carried with him, and he didn't need Beverly's explanation to understand what they were doing to Will.

Darnoll moved back to the chair and stretched his host's long legs before leaning forward over the desk. "Picard, I usually don't steal bodies if that's what your thinking. My last host was more than a little corrupt, and I discovered that I liked the dark side a whole lot more than languishing under the Trill Council's boring laws." His smile turned feral. "Now let's take your not so perfect Commander Riker. You might be surprised to find that he has quite a bit of darkness tucked away, once you get past all that Starfleet code of honour crap and that Betazoid's tamperings. Look at his brother for example. A Marqui rebel no less!" Darnoll's voice had risen in his defence of actions.

Letting out a deep breath Darnoll pulled another weary smile onto his borrowed face. "I'm choosing to look at my activities as a release of sorts for him. All those pent up energies he's been harbouring for years. And now I can direct those energies into something a little more productive than bashing holes in the wall."

Picard waited for a moment, and turned back to face the disconcerting gaze of Will Riker, only it wasn't Will staring out of those deep blue eyes. Holding his head slightly to the side, he said quietly. "Fine Darnoll. This still doesn't answer why you have me sitting before you."

Darnoll rolled his eyes and took a deep breath, the effort making him flinch. His deepening pallor gave away that all was not well. He levelled his eyes to meet Picard's. "I'm sure it's no secret to you that Riker is dying," he said bluntly, "but I need to complete this mission for my men's sake." He took another more careful breath. "One problem still lies in our way," he said and paused.

"The codes." Picard said.

Darnoll nodded. "Right. Once Worf gives up the code we'll be on our way. Then, and only then, can I look for another host, and leave wonder-boy for pick-up by yourselves later."

Picard shook his head. "How can we pick him up when you've got us on a suicide course for the Neutral zone?"

"That's very simple Picard," he said. "In exchange for the code, I'll change the coordinates. But only if you give me the code right now." Darnoll leaned back into the high-backed chair, his hands unconsciously rubbing his tender abdomen.

"I'll consider it, but I certainly won't agree unless you allow me the chance to talk to Commander Riker," Picard said, his voice a challenge.

Darnoll grimaced and forced himself to sit up straighter. "Sorry Captain. I just can't do that. If I release Riker, then I lose the game."

Picard rubbed his head, trying hard to think of an alternative. "Have Jarsun on guard," he offered. "Surely you don't believe that my first officer could overthrow you now? I've seen how much you've changed him already Darnoll," he added bitterly. You're absorbing him past the point of no return." Picard was telling the truth as he saw it, but his goal was to goad Darnoll to see if he was telling the truth about the joining. Beverly had conducted some research after the first joining with Odan, little was said but he knew enough from Beverly to know that dying wasn't Will's only problem.

Darnoll nodded. "You're correct Picard, and this is why you need to move fast." He stood, and leaned over the desk threateningly. Shaky hands spread apart evenly to keep him falling flat onto his face. "Just give me the code before the joining becomes irreversible Picard. Ambassador Odan only survived because his time was relatively short in Mr. Riker. My time has been too long already, and increases the chance of a fatal outcome the more you dawdle with these unnecessary negotiations." Darnoll sat again, exhausted but still restless.

"So the reversing of a joined host is a deadly problem, especially when it comes down to time." Picard stated from the facts.

Darnoll nodded and stood again to pace unsteadily the length of the ready room. "I need the code captain," he spoke into the silence of the room.

"I need Will Riker here and now Captain," Picard replied, equally firm.

Darnoll finally stopped pacing, realising that this was the easiest way of finding out that code. "The code first, then Riker," he said raising his hands. "I promise. I'm warning you though. Refuse and it may be Riker's last chance to talk to you before we become fully joined."

Picard swallowed heavily. "Alright." He tapped his comm. Badge. "Mr. Worf, please tell Commander Jarsun the code to the Armand Tousch." He kept a close watch as Darnoll gave him a tightly controlled smile.

"Sir? Are you under any..." Worf began.

"No I'm not under an coercion," Picard assured him, before he could finish. "I've made a pact with Darnoll. Release the code to Jarsun. You are not responsible for my actions Lieutenant."

"Aye sir," the Klingon said grudgingly. The communication ended, and Picard waited and watched the Trill who was soon to become his first officer again.

"It's your turn Darnoll."

The tall bearded host held up one finger. "Patience Captain. "

"Jarsun to Darnoll," the Trill's first officer voice came over the comm.

"Well, does it work?" Darnoll Riker asked.

"Yes sir. The code worked, and the treasure is ours for the taking." Excitement coloured his voice.

Darnoll nodded with satisfaction. "Good. If we don't speak within the next five minutes I want you to kill the Klingon." Darnoll took a steadying breath while his first officer accepted the order with no question. "Alright then captain as promised," he said moving to the couch, relaxing the body to accept its rightful owner, his smile turning to a grimace. Darnoll Riker coughed wearily as his host's will began to rise from behind the wall Darnoll had silenced him with.

"Captain." The one word was filled with agony as Riker's eyes opened to his captain and his vision wavered from exhaustion. He'd been fighting for so long with no respite that his physical body reflected the depth of his mental distress.

"Will?" The captain rushed to where he was slumped on the couch. He was the picture of misery as his head folded in to his knees and his hands clutched his stomach. He groaned. "Get him out," he gasped.

Picard was torn at his officer's distress. "We're working on it Will." He was careful to give no clue as to how, suspecting that Darnoll still listened. Spying the jug of water on the desk he filled a glass and returned to his pained officer's side.

Will shivered with little control. "You shouldn't of trusted him sir," he said with a gasp. "He won't kill Worf now, but that doesn't mean he won't later," he said, starting to topple forwards to the edge of the couch. "He won't release me either."

Picard caught Will and held him as a deep spasm squeezed a strangled gasp from him. Feeling more then a little helpless, he held a glass of water to Will's parched lips, only to have it spill down his chin, with little being swallowed. Will finally pushed it away and tried to straighten. "He won't give me up sir. Not until the last moment, if then...too valuable a hostage."

Picard's arms were now around the broad shouldered man as the shivers turned into shakes. "Will. You need medication."

Sweat beaded Will's face. "No, don't," he commanded harshly. "He'll take over, and it'd be better to let me die and suffocate him, than to destroy the Enterprise."

Picard's lips were flattened to a thin line until he spied the hypo on the desk. Leaning Will back against the couch, he grabbed it and returned to his side again. "I'm sorry Will, but Jarsun will be requiring Darnoll's presence soon and you'll stand a much better chance of surviving if you live in the now. Besides, Deanna would never forgive me if I let you get heroic on us and die." His smile was grim as he pressed the hypo against the heavily perspiring neck of his first officer.

The quiet hiss of the medication entering Will's bloodstream, was followed by the slow return of a more normal breathing pattern. "I am sorry Will." Picard repeated pointedly, watching as Will slid behind the veil of Darnoll's control once more. His last words unheard by before Riker's eyes closed. Picard looked up and checked the Chrono in the corner of the room and jostled Riker slightly. "Darnoll, if you're now in control, you need to call Jarsun and hold him off." Darnoll Riker opened fatigued blue eyes, barely holding his own.

"Jarsun! Get in here!" He said through the comm. in a haggard whisper. . Several minutes passed, as Picard worried that the communications sensors hadn't picked up his request, though his fears were soon dispelled as the tall officer arrived from the bridge.

"As much as I know this might disappoint you, hold off on killing the Klingon. Picard saved my life,ŠI think," Darnoll Riker said, punctuating his statement with a round of deep coughing. He sat up straighter, feeling like his head was still unnaturally heavy

"Aye sir." Jarsun watched him carefully and moved back outside to comply with his captain's wishes.

It wasn't long before all traces of Riker were gone, and Darnoll again had complete control. Staggering to an upright position, he turned back to stare at the captain of the Enterprise. "Thank you Picard. I know it took a lot to keep this abomination alive. I trust you enjoyed your talk with Riker?" He asked before resuming his position in the ready room's command chair.

"It was short, but worth the loss of your lifeless bit of statuary." Picard answered, observing how easily Darnoll dominated Riker's body, where Will had struggled to make it work.

"Good." He breathed deeply. "And for the record, I will continue to let your security officer live. An eye for an eye Captain. Isn't that how one of your great religions put it?" He said, dismissing the captain without another thought.


:::::: Six B :::::::

Beverly counted a few more seconds on her fingertips and hit the off button on the stasis suite. She couldn't keep Deanna in stasis very long, but it had worked so far and kept them both from being betrayed to the ships internal scans.

"Ouch," Deanna grumbled peevishly from the biobed as Beverly entered the room.

"Ouch is much better than dead," Beverly counselled with a smile.

"I take it Darnoll didn't find us?" Deanna said, refusing to call him Will from the moment Darnoll had taken over. She ran a nervous hand through her hair and drew a deep healthy breath of air.

"Nope. Dumber than a Pacifican Bronze Fish our aggressor is," Beverly quipped while helping her off of the bed, medkit in hand. They grabbed their supplies and quickly left sickbay. "So what now?" Beverly asked.

Deanna straightened her uniform and forced the memory of her Imzadi's attack to be blocked for now. "Now, we go on the offensive," she replied, her grin turning unpleasant. "that bastard has ticked off the wrong person."

"Why do I get the feeling you've got something evil planned?"

"Trust me Beverly. I know how Darnoll's going to escape. There's a ship due to arrive soon, and we're going to need to disable it, because once he leaves, we'll never get Will back." Deanna closed her eyes in a moment of weakness, and remembered the warmth of Will's strong and comforting arms holding her. Only she knew how gentle he could be.

Beverly's hand touched her shoulder and brought her back with a jolt. "He'll be fine Deanna. A bit battered, but nothing we can't fix," she assured Deanna. Her red headed friend encouraged her with a small smile. "Now tell me the plan. I think I feel a little terrorist action coming on." She said, her expression deadly serious.


:::::: Seven A :::::::

Geordi paced with restless energy, checking for the
fourth time the diagnostic panels and anything else he could, to make
him feel less than useless. He and eight others of his team had been
restricted to the engineering section by Darnoll's orders, orders
that had seen the blast doors locked and absolutely no unauthorised
access allowed.

Geordi watched his team, deciding that boredom was the least of
their problems. It was unfortunate that the Trill guards checked
everything they worked on, and it was even more unfortunate that at
least one of them had extensive engineering experience. Geordi knew
that deceiving Darnoll wasn't going to be easy. Hell! How does
someone trick a Trill carrying around the entire memories of your
commanding officer? He absentmindedly scratched a persistent itch as
he racked his brain for solutions.

Captain Picard was being held under disruptor point, and the
same with the rest of the senior staff, but right now he might be the
only one who could turn the tables around. Geordi sighed deeply and
continued his bored contemplation of the diagnostic panel in front of
him. A plan was needed, and something they'd never tried before,
something Riker couldn't know about.

As it was, his team were already repairing the control panel
that Darnoll had destroyed on his last excursion to engineering. The
reconstruction of the mangled and partially melted mass was slow, and
its progress was being hindered purposely by Geordi. Any excuse not
to give the Trill leader full power was fine by him, even at the
expense of his precious engineering bay.

"Ok everyone. This is working pretty well. Hudson, I want you
to bring that cassadenta adapter over here so we can start loading
data into this console." Geordi said, busily giving a credible
appearance of industry.

"Geordi." A muffled whisper reached his ear from behind and he
tried not to let his surprise show. Checking a loose grill, he saw
the glow of two thermal patterns behind the jefferies doors. "We
need to talk." the voice continued. While the guard was talking to
his lieutenant, he chanced a low whisper. "You'd better make it
quick. I've got a Trill on my back at the other end of this room."

"It's me Deanna, and Beverly too. I need you to recalibrate the
internal sensors so they won't pick up Betazoid DNA. Can you do
that?" she asked.

Geordi tried not to nod, worried that he might give his friends
away. "I can do it from here without even disturbing our Mr High and
Mighty on the bridge," he said, his usual smile absent. "But once
that's done, I'm going to need a little help in getting rid of the
problem hovering behind me."

"We'll do what we can. Just give the word," Beverly said.
Geordi casually reached out towards a dormant panel to key in a
couple of simple commands. Giving Jeram an easy smile, he hit
another sequence of commands.

"And just what are you doing Commander?" The suspicious Trill asked.

"Making things go." Geordi replied, treating the Trill like the
simple Pakleds. Don't give them too much information and they're
happy as anything, he thought.

"I don't like your attitude." he said with a frown, advancing
closer to the chief engineer.

Geordi took a deep breath and gave him another smile. "Sorry.
But that's exactly what I've been trying to do since your boss
decided to trash this place." He shrugged his shoulders and hit
another succession of pressure panels. A small light blinked,
indicating the successful completion of his new programming.

"You know, kidnapping officers and ships just isn't the social
thing to do around here." He said giving the Trill an even bigger
smile, Geordi tapped another button and gave a small salute.
"Goodnight and sleep tight," he said as a panel sparked beside the
aggressor breaking his line of sight with the engineer, long enough
for a phaser beam to knock him across the room. The Trill slid down
the wall, a look of surprise grazed his face before the blackness of
unconsciousness took him.

Geordi's saviours squeezed out of the cramped jeffries tube and gave
him a grateful hug. "Nice distraction." Deanna said as she moved
forward to remove the trill's own weapon.

"Hey that's nothing. I can always make things go boom." Geordi
remarked as he straightened out his uniform.

"Well you certainly took charge." Beverly smiled as she studied the
light fuse burns around the recently fried circuitry.

"Hey the guy was really starting to annoy me." Geordi shrugged.
"In the meantime I've corrected the sensors for DNA and weapons fire.
It should remove both of you and any more firefights you start from
internal surveillance. Two extra females in engineering might be
suspicious so I've recalibrated sensors to make you both invisible
while you're here."

"Great, thanks. Now all we have to do is get rid of four more
and a symbiont, and we're in charge again." Beverly's expression in
no way reflected any humour at her last comment.

Geordi let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding. "So
Commander Riker is still joined then?" he said, his worry increasing
for his friend and commander.

"I'm afraid so." Crusher said, and sighed.

Deanna had remained quiet throughout their conversation.
"Geordi? Can we somehow stop a transporter from being used via an
outside source? And without killing or hurting anyone." she asked.

Geordi began to explain, his voice warming to the subject as his
mind dissected each problem and coming up with a solution. "The first
thing we could do is make the transporters here inoperable, so they
can't use our own platforms, but to affect an outside source would
require a shield harmonic. I could recalibrate it so it's
multi-phasic like we did with the Borg. Why?"

"I'm sure that Darnoll's going to jump ship soon. He has the
codes to the Armand Tousch now, and an escape ship is on the way."
Deanna's fists were tightly balled, and they all shared her unspoken
worry about Will.

Geordi thought out loud. "HmmmŠDarnoll knows what Commander
Riker knows, therefore he could just as easily command the ship to
drop shields at any time, so there goes my harmonic idea." he tapped
a finger to his forehead a few times. "We could get the captain to
use a shield lock out, but then that puts him in danger from the
symbiont, and we still don't have command control."

Beverly grinned. "The good news Geordi, is that we do have some
control. Will managed to unlock the command codes when Darnoll wasn't
feeling so well." At Geordi's perplexed frown the doctor quickly
explained how pain could be used to cause division between the host
and symbiont.

Geordi's expression was almost radiant. "So command is still
released?" he asked, and at their nods he grinned. "That's brilliant!
I think I have something right up my sleeve then."

"Like what?" Deanna asked, still worried about Will.

"We trap their ship in honey." Deanna's frown broke him into a
beaming smile. "We use the tractor beam with a multi-phasic variance
and they're stuck. No escape. And with a small enough ship we can
either bring it back into the shuttle bay or beam right on over."

"Excellent thinking Geordi, as always." Beverly complimented.

"But this is only if they disembark from the Enterprise. In the
meantime, can't we just gas him again?" Deanna inquired.

"Sure. But they're aware of it now, and we still need another hour to
get it ready, even if we push ourselves." Geordi turned to the doctor
hoping for the best news. "And from what I saw last time with Odan,
and his failing health, I guess Commander Riker just may not be able
to survive it."

Beverly nodded. "I agree. It's too risky."

Geordi placed a warm hand on the counsellor. "I'll think of something
Counsellor, but right now I'll need to get that tractor beam
modulated. But just one thing, the ship's course?" Knowing full well
where Darnoll was sending them.

"The Neutral zone, but now that the locks are off we can change
our coordinates in auxiliary control. It'll be guarded, but if we
have time and you think you could use your little gas trick just
outside and in the room, we could still make that course correction."
Deanna said.

Beverly paced the small space between them. "So what we need to
do is change course, and then grab Darnoll before he bails out once
control has been lost." She shook her head. "When he looses command
I'll bet you one of Guinan's chocolate sundaes that he'll be out of
here in whatever craft he can find. He's got a body now and knows
he'll lose it if we take back control of the ship. As soon as I lay
my hands on him, I'm going to rip him out and make him wish he'd
stayed at home."

Geordi watched the redheaded doctor, glad he wasn't on the
receiving end of her ire. "Ok then. So here are the options..."
Geordi began as they huddled over the schematics of the ship.


:::::: Seven B :::::::

Darnoll Riker was looking decidedly greener. And Picard
was trying not to make a habit of watching Riker clenching his jaw to
stave off his pain. He was using the hypos now almost every two
hours to keep him on his feet, not that a little sleep wouldn't help,
however, the medication was making him a raging insomniac. The
communications station alerted Jarsun of an incoming message, making
the first officer jump before he rushed to it's side, replying with
his own code.
"Quarit's in place." Jarsun said, bringing a smile to Darnoll's
lips and an angry frown to Picard's.

Picard knew that Darnoll was about to bail ship and take Riker
with him, and regardless of the promise Darnoll had made, there was
no way the Trill would give the commander back without a suitable
replacement. He knew there was little likelihood of finding someone
qualified in this sector of space to even perform the operation let
alone produce a suitable host. His musings were broken when Darnoll
nearly stumbled before him, pulling himself back into an upright
position in no time, anger lining his face.

"On screen!" His number one snarled.

A rather ugly looking pilot stared back onto the bridge of the
Enterprise. "Where's Darnoll? If he's broken the deal..." The hairy
man demanded.

"Right here Quarit. I had a little change of address." Darnoll
smiled and waved his hands over his body.

The pilot gave a slight chuckle. "That one suits you, you old
slug. Give me your cargo's coordinates. I've got another delivery to
make straightaway after yours and I don't want to waste anytime
meeting the poor unfortunates of that ship you've taken over."

Darnoll's chuckle was vile to Picard's ears. "Glad you're taken with
my new slave. I kind of like him. Bit weak for host material but he's
served his purpose." He patted the leather-clad chest of his host
lovingly. "Jarsun's sending you details now. We have five men and
myself to beam over...oh and maybe a lady friend I think you'll
like." Darnoll said licking his lips.

"Darnoll!" Picard's voice commanded from the other side of the
bridge. "You gave me your word that you'd give Commander Riker
back!" Picard stood with hands still bound behind his back, trying to
control his rage.

"Not now Picard!" Darnoll snarled. "Sit down or prepare to meet
space," the Trill fired back.

Picard, in an authoritative posture still advanced with Jarsun
nervously moving closer to shoot Picard if he even breathed on
Darnoll. Worf snarled, watching the Trill as he aimed his weapon,
calculating his leg length and taking his one and only chance by
kicking out his feet to trip up the Trill. Only to have Jarsun ignore
the Klingons attempt to delay him, evading the Klingons powerful
limbs by simply stepping around him, eyes still trained on Picard.

"You really are a stupid old man aren't you? Don't tell me you
believed my sad tale of woe in giving back this shell." Darnoll
flashed a comical attempt at disbelief across his face. "You knew
full well then that I couldn't live without his particular
resources." he paused, watching the older man grind his teeth. "As
far as I'm concerned Picard, Will Riker is my free gift for flying
with Enterprise airlines." he joked with a weak grin.

When Picard moved to counter his comment, a quick crack on the
back of his head by the butt of Jarsun's disruptor knocked him
senseless. Worf struggled to his feet with a snarl, only to find a
disruptor mere millimetres from his nose.

Darnoll sighed and shook his head. "Children." Returning his
attention to the screen Darnoll smiled. "Quarit, you can expect us
in thirty minutes. We'll be finished with this crate by then. Darnoll
out." He signed off and gripped a slowly recovering Picard by his
uniform jacket and shook him. "Annoy me again and your counsellor
may be joined by your sweetheart doctor as well."
He dropped the dazed Picard and spun on his heel, grabbing a padd to
check their destination.

"Ah yes. One last thing." Darnoll murmured before lifting his eyes
skyward. "Attention all decks! This is a general quarters alert. No
unnecessary activity is prohibited on any deck other than your
specified area. Riker out!" Darnoll's smug smile grew wider as Jarsun
confirmed the clearance of corridors all over the ship. "Excellent.
Make sure they're locked in before we leave." With that he gave a
huge Cheshire grin to Picard before giving a small soft bow, "Goodbye
Captain, it's been beneficial in meeting you and your first officer."
He ignored Picard's stern countenance and turned giving Guntha his
orders before exiting via the turbo lift with Jarsun in tow. Guntha
smiled and picked up Worf's phaser from the small pile of weapons by
the command chair. The final plan was in place, and the Trill was
finally going to have his chance to pay the Klingon back for his arm.

Spinning the phaser in the air, he chuckled cruelly before shooting
the Klingon square in the chest with a heavy stun. Three more, as the
Trill stunned first Picard, and the other two officers in succession
soon followed the loud thump. Guntha gave a gentle kick to each
person, checking their status, then left the bridge to aid their
leader and to escape with the biggest hoist in Trill history.


:::::: Eight A :::::::

The turbolift opened and Darnoll Riker exited it with
explosive force. "Make sure that Quarit understands our agreement,"
he snapped. "I'm not going one latinum bar over. And if he thinks
he's going to jump the price up, he's one sizzled pile of flesh," he
said to his first officer as they strode down the corridor.

"Understood sir, and what about the Betazoid?" Jarsun asked.

"Don't worry about her Jarsun," he said, his smile deceptively
benign. "She's not about to let her Imzadi walk out of here without a
fight," he said, chuckling as he checked the disruptor attached to
his holster.

Jarsun smothered his own smile but couldn't contain the
lavicious glint in his eye, knowing the Trill Captain's appetite.
The Betazoid bitch was in for the ride of her life if she was forced
to submit to the captain's lust. The two men walked side by side, so
tuned into their groins that they missed the women in the shadows as
they lay flat against the adjoining corridor.

Two sets of eyes watched and waited as the men passed by and
headed down to the cargo bay. Synchronised smiles appeared as the
shadow cloaked women moved out into the light. "So that leaves..."
Deanna moved quickly, pulling Beverly back into the shadows as the
turbolift opened and the remaining Trill emerged. Anxious moments
dragged by as the man headed the same direction as Darnoll. "Darnoll
is making plans to leave." Deanna surmised.

"Then the bridge must be clear. Come on, let's go," Beverly
said, pulling her friend towards the turbolift, surprised to find
Deanna resisting.

"I can't, I've got to follow Darnoll. Will..." She left her
sentence unfinished.

Beverly squeezed Deanna's hand in understanding. "Ok. I'll be
on the bridge." Giving Deanna a little shove in her opposite
direction she said, "Go. But be careful."

Deanna moved as quickly as she could, staying within the
shadows of the connecting corridors without looking back. Beverly
slowly shook her head. "Good luck Deanna." She whispered quietly
before entering the turbolift. Her stomach tensed with anticipation,
not knowing what kind of scene she would find on the bridge.


The bridge was eerily quiet, and all command posts were vacant
with only the soft beep of machinery echoing through the largely
unoccupied space. As she moved past the tactical station, Beverly
finally saw the four officers laid out upon the floor. Her heart
skipping a beat, she resisted the urge to head straight for the
Captain and diverted instead to Data's side to switch him back on.

"Doctor Crusher? I see Captain Darnoll is not present." Data
announced to her fleeting back.

She turned briefly to the puzzled android. "He's leaving Data, via
cargo bay two. I need you to halt our course and start scanning for
cloaked vessels. Darnoll's got company coming to collect him." She
continued forward to the Captain as Data nodded acceptance to her

"Does the Captain require medical help?" Data asked moving to the
navigational console, and performing his operations in tandem with
his concerned observations for the fallen crew.

Reaching Jean-Luc's side, she turned him over to find a scorch mark
on his chest, narrowly missing his artificial heart. He groaned as
his eyelids fluttered, and she smiled with relief. "He's fine Data,
just a grade two phaser burn. It's more painful then dangerous.
He'll be alright, and the same goes for the others," she said as one
by one she checked the stunned officers.

"I am relieved to hear it doctor." Data said as he headed for
his ops position.

"I assume by your unguarded appearance that the Trill have now exited
all major sectors." The Captain asked groggily without inflection as
he watched Data's fingers skip across the glowing pressure pads of
his station.

"All Trill, including Darnoll, are now residing in Cargo Bay
two. That's excluding one Trill in the morgue," Beverly said, her
expression deadpan. Picard's face reflected momentary surprise.

Picard's expression was grim. "Data contact Geordi and let him
know we have control of the bridge."

"Also tell him not to make any moves with the tractor beam once
Darnoll's escape ship's here. Not until that is, we have the Trill
rounded up. Otherwise they'll know we're back in business before
we're ready. And who knows what other plans Darnoll has up his
sleeve." Beverly said.

Picard nodded in agreement as he paced his bridge, gently massaging his wrists.

"May I inquire where Counsellor Troi is?" Data asked, noticing
that her bio signature was missing from his personnel sensor scans.

"She's following Darnoll. Trying to keep Will in her sights."
The doctor said as Data brought up the internal sensors and watched
the movement within the cargo bay schematics on the view screen.
"Leaving isn't going to be that easy Darnoll. I've still got a score
to settle, and a patient to retrieve," she muttered as Data started
scanning deep space for Quarit's ship.


"Well well well. Isn't this a wonderful sight," Darnoll said
sarcastically and clapped his hands together. He closed his eyes,
with his expression close to ecstatic as he revelled in the soul
piercing sound as it bounced from all corners and formed a resonance
within the Armand Tousch's crystal heart. "So beautiful and all mine.
Well for a moment anyway," he smiled pragmatically and turned with
disruptor in hand when the cargo doors opened behind him.

A nervous Guntha held up his hands. "Hey, give me a break
Captain, it's just me."

Darnoll's ebullient mood was dulled and he lowered his weapon before
turning away.

All eyes were turned away from the door when they heard its booming
clang and hiss, as it pressure sealed itself shut. What they didn't
hear or see was Deanna launching herself through the opening before
it cut her into two. Quickly taking cover behind the same storage
canisters that Will Riker had used a few days ago, she stopped to
catch her breath. This time she hoped her invisible act would aid
Will, and not destroy him.

Sitting quietly she listened, disheartened as Darnoll bragged about
their monumental task and the successful job they'd done at pulling
it off so far. Her growing hatred of Darnoll turned to shock as
Darnoll's stifled groan startled her, allowing Will to surface
briefly from his entombment.

"Captain?" Jarsun asked, worry evident in his voice.

"I'm fine dammit! So stop hovering," he grumbled, before Deanna
heard a hiss break the ensuing silence. She peered carefully between
the canisters and watched as Darnoll struggled to his feet after
using the hypo.

"Make sure we pack this stuff. This host has got to last until
we find another one." He said as he replaced the hypo with a fresh
module, placing it back into his pocket once complete. Deanna's
stomach went queasy as she felt Wills pathetic struggle subdued
further below the thick layer of Darnoll's consciousness. The feeling
was reminiscent of someone drowning, the fight and panic strong and
heady mixed in with the sorrow of loosing the struggle.

Jarsun pressed his Captain. "So do you really think Fashar will
have another host ready for you when we return" he whispered quietly
as the guards set up the transporter boosters.

Deanna watched cautiously as Darnoll leaned heavily on a stack of
storage canisters and ran a shaking hand over features gone chalky
white. "He'd better, because this host isn't going to last much
longer, even with the drugs. He certainly won't be happy though
about the extra passenŠ" Darnoll quit suddenly and slid against the
bulkhead heavily to the ground, weak arms unable to hold him up.

"Darnoll?" Jarsun said, resting his hand on the big man's
shoulder. "Do you need another hypo?" Blue eyes engulfed by dark
rings stared up at the first officer, but when he opened his mouth,
no words came out. Jarsun wasted no time and grabbed another hypo
from the small pack beside him, stabbing it into the human host's
neck while pressing the release button. "Come on Darnoll! We're so
close. You can't separate now!" the distraught officer grunted.

Wheezing and fighting for each breath, Darnoll pulled himself
up by Jarsun's arm and leaned against the wall, trying to recover the
body's connections. "Thanks," he said with some effort, the lines of
pain etched deeper than ever. "The emergence of Mr. Riker's
consciousness has been very useful, though somewhat painful," he
said, his dry throat releasing a scratchy version of its usual deep

"Sir?" Jarsun waited patiently while full clarity returned to Darnoll eyes.

"She's behind there," he pointed at the canisters stacked along the
far wall, her discovery igniting a smile. The Trill guards rushed to
her position, earning a few hefty kicks until Trias issued a hard
slap, knocking her senseless for a moment. Deanna was dragged out,
struggling as she faced the awful truth of her Imzadi's fading

He leered and gently tapped a finger against his head. "He can feel
you as well as you can feel him," he teased. Deanna remained quiet
as she realised that during Darnoll's collapse, Will had indeed
returned enough to feel her presence. But it was Darnoll who spoke
now, not her lover. "I knew you'd eventually do something foolish
and come to your Imzadi's rescue. You followed my plans perfectly to
the letter, my dear Deanna." His leering glance fell suddenly,
washed out by a tiredness that left him exhausted. The effort to
speak seemed to be too much and he closed his eyes as he slid to the
floor once more.

"Darnoll?" Jarsun asked, crouching down beside him.

His shaking hand rose bare inches from his lap. "Leave me for a
few moments while I rest, but tie her up. We leave in twenty
minutes." Darnoll lay down in a controlled collapse before passing
out. His friend and first officer, Jarsun carefully checked his pulse
and watched the Betazoid woman with narrowed eyes. "Tie her up but
keep her close by. Maybe since she can feel Riker, if he begins to
die, we'll know through her." He moved in front of Deanna and grabbed
her chin. "You'll be our early warning device. If he dies, you die
and so does the rest of the ship." he held up a triggered device in
his efforts to impress the truth upon her.

"A bomb?!" Deanna's lips voiced silently.

His laugh was strained. "Captain Darnoll didn't want to be
followed. He never does." He said giving a momentary glance back to
his superior.

Dragged aside, she was tied roughly by the wrists and force to
sit opposite the collapsed body of her fiance. He was sprawled
exactly where he'd dropped. From this angle, Deanna truly thought he
looked like he had passed away. His bruised lids hadn't fully closed
though she knew he was asleep, and his pallor made his skin appear
translucent. His shallow breathing and the small whisper of his
unmistakable presence within her mind was all there was to confirm

If Darnoll hadn't of been inhabiting Will's body then and there she
wouldn't of even hesitated in sending encouragement across their
bond, but the repulsive feeling of Darnoll's mind made her retract
each time she forced herself to help, the body and suppressed mind
before her. All she could do was wait and hope for the best of


:::::: Eight B :::::::

"Sir. I am reading a large quantity of Trilithium
Resinate from the warp engines in the auxiliary control room," Data
reported while scanning the ship-wide diagnostics.

"Trilithium Resinate? How'd they transport it there without igniting
it?," Picard asked as he checked Data's find.

"I am not sure captain. But it does clarify why they removed us
from engineering after Darnoll first arrived on the ship," Geordi
said tiredly, moving up beside the science station. "I thought it
had something to do with the gas. Now it's obvious that they were
siphoning it off to hide their tracks." Geordi rubbed his burning
sockets and shook his head as if to clear it from unwanted debris.

"Can you diffuse it?" Picard asked, a frown marring his bruised features.

"Not sure until I get down there sir," the exhausted engineer
replied. "I'll head there and call you as soon as I know."

Picard nodded. "Take Mr Worf with you Geordi, and be careful," he
added unexpectedly. "We don't know when or if the Trill's will
discover us up and operational. That bomb could be a booby trap, and
considering Darnoll's sick mind, not just for us, maybe even for the

"Understood sir. I'll be very careful," he said with a fatalistic
smile as he headed off with the glowering Klingon on his tail.

The android was posed in a thoughtful position. "Booby trap.
To trap. To mislead ending in..." Data extrapolated, stopping at once
when he noticed Picard's irritation. "Sorry sir."

"Just make sure there isn't a ship sneaking up on us. We only
have one shot at this," he said and moved back to his chair. "And I
want Riker back in one piece."

Sooner than he expected LaForge's voice called for the Captain,
as the communications network reluctantly spluttered to life.

"Yes Geordi, how bad is it?" He asked crossing his fingers.

"Well the good news is it isn't on a timer. I can defuse it but
the bad news is, we can only diffuse it with the codes from the
trigger." Silence reigned for a long moment, and Picard waited for a

"The catch is" the engineer said, drawing it out, "that the
trigger is in with the Trills in Cargo Bay Two."

Beverly was in his face immediately, her eyes blazing. "I'll bet
anything Deanna's in there."

Picard nodded. "Mister Worf, gather a security team, I'll send
Doctor Crusher down to meet you outside the Cargo Bay in five
minutes. In the meantime, do what you can to stabilise the
Trilithium resinate. God forbid that an accident sets it off."

"Actually sir. I have a better idea." Geordi announced.

"Yes Mr Laforge?" Picard waited.

"Well the sound of the doors opening gives us away instantly, and
transporting is too slow, they'd shoot us down without a moment's
concern. But there are access tunnels that lead into the bay. They're
pretty well concealed and I know it's the best way to access the area
unseen. If we send one person in to stun the trill with the trigger
then the focus would be taken off the doors long enough for us to
enter." Geordi offered over his communicator.

Picard nodded and went to Data's console. "Excellent. Proceed with
caution Commander. Picard out."

"Can you create a shield around the auxiliary room to prevent the
trigger from affecting it?" He asked Data.

Data nodded, his fingers speeding across the board. "Yes sir.
I will do my best, which usually is pretty good. But while this is
theoretically possible, it does depend on the current trigger
technology in use. I will attempt to hypothesise a wider then normal
containment net to deaden any alpha and beta subspace waves."

"I have full confidence Data." He moved back to Beverly as she
sat at Troi's station. "I'm afraid that you need to be ready for
casualties. Especially Will, if we're successful," Beverly's eyes
were worried as they meet Picard's "and lucky," she added, the rest
of her answer a silent affirmation to his unspoken question. She
would have to do better than her best to save Will Riker this time.

Beverly made her way back towards sickbay to collect a long list
already in the making in her mind. A list she was quite used to
formulating when it came to the not so indestructible Will Riker.


A slap stirred him from dark dreams flickering behind his
eyelids. Another slap and Darnoll reached up and grabbed the hand
before it touched his reddened cheek again.

"Anyone tell you ya hit like a girl Trias." He said with a groan,
quite annoyed by the Trill lieutenant who was standing guard. Trias
ignored the jibe and the laughter that followed as he pointed towards
the Armand Tousch.

"We're ready sir. Commander Jarsun ordered me to wake you so you
didn't slip any further." Trias was trying hard not to look repulsed
at being held by the sweaty human host's hand.

Darnoll Riker sat slowly up and nodded. "I agree. I do need to
stay conscious. Help me up." he ordered grouchily, grabbing both of
Trias' hands to pull himself up to a standing position. He couldn't
help but be aware of Deanna's anger as she looked his way. He made
his way over, forcing back a groan, as he bent down to one knee
before her. "So Princess. Are we ready to follow this highly desired
body or shall I choose from the rest of the female compliment. I'm
sure...no wait a minute... I know Riker has bedded many, if not most
of them in the past. And there are still untold numbers who would
gladly follow his handsome ass. I'm sure that any of them would be
more malleable than you my dear," he said, stroking one of her
breasts before cupping her chin in his large hand, forcing her to
look into his eyes. "But not as exquisite."

The silence between them only broken by the soft footfalls of his men.
"Silence hmm?" He whispered. "That's too bad. I was looking forward
to another war of words," he said, clucking softly. "Ah well, we
shall nevertheless have time for that later," he said, terminating
the conversation before painfully standing up again and moving with
care towards Jarsun.

Trias reached down, dragging Deanna behind him closely, as she
struggled to stand and follow the handsome but stupid guard. Her
only chance of freedom lay a few feet from her as she watched Trias's
back sway with a casualness that was going to be his undoing. Deanna
moved in closer as Trias pulled her along pretending to trip, taking
them both down. As she stretched out for his foot, she landed flat on
her stomach, kicking the air out of both their lungs. Trias, the
young Trill lay on the floor for a moment, cursing at her clumsiness.
Turning and pushing her off him, he then had her back on her feet
within in moments before Darnoll could shout at him. During the few
moments of Trias's angry rant on the floor, Deanna had quickly
grabbed the ceremonial dagger from his boot and hidden it away inside
her own. The men were still laughing at Trias when he brought his
charge along, unaware of Deanna's ploy.

"Can't handle the women eh? Maybe we should find a young
stripling of a lad for you instead." Darnoll goaded nastily, before
he suddenly became serious and pointed a finger at his chest. "You're
making me nervous Trias. One more problem and I'm leaving you here.
Keep her still and quiet or you're dead, understand?" Darnoll said,
feeling his anger starting to rise again. Jarsun placed a calming
hand on his bicep and shook his head before looking in Trias'
direction. "He's not himself Trias, just do your job."

Trias nodded and pushed Deanna forward, annoyed at his charge.

"Darnoll to Quarit," he said, slouching onto a canister, using
it as a chair for his rapidly tiring body.

"Ah captain Darnoll. I was wondering when you would get that
Federation behind of yours into action. We have a solar storm
approaching and I suggest we move before it hits," he said with a

Darnoll quelled his anger and composed a smug smile before
rolling his eyes. "Yes mother. Stand by for transport in five
minutes. Jarsun will give you the coordinates of my cargo. Darnoll
out," he said, slapping the console.

But before Jarsun could move to action, a beam tore through the air
and stunned Guntha, removing Darnoll's back-up plan as the triggerman
sunk to the floor with a groan. Baruwe instantly made tracks for the
fallen Trill, trying to dodge the phaser attack to get the trigger
back into conscious hands, while Darnoll spun into action and grabbed
the small pack beside him just as the sound of tearing metal ripped
the air, throwing the occupants to the floor. The cargo bay doors
opened and stun grenades were thrown in. Soon followed by groans of
pain, as phaser fire filled the air, and Worf's security team moved
in and surrounded the Trill's.

Darnoll still clung to consciousness, his symbiont physiology
fighting off the stuns' effects quicker than normal. He slowly
opened an eye, facing the entrance as he watched the armed Starfleet
officers one by one disarm his men. All seemed to be out cold. Even
the Betazoid who was mere centimetres from his face, was sleeping
like a baby.

Struggling to get his rubber-limbed body to cooperate, Darnoll
thanked his luck that Trias was directly behind him and took most of
the blow. He knew the stun could have easily disturbed the already
weakened joining of symbiont from host. His eye slammed shut while a
pair of booted feet moved toward him, and he waited as a hand grabbed
his shoulder to turn him over. Just as he was rolled to his back, he
quickly grabbed the phaser from the beefy lieutenant and kicked him
in the gut, thanking the stars that his sluggish body responded in
time for him to gather his hostage. The cargo bay went from silence
to chaos as Worf growled while Darnoll Riker used Deanna as a shield.
He thumbed the phaser up to kill and aimed it with a trembling grip
under Deanna's chin.

"Darnoll no! Let her go!" Beverly urgently called out. Darnoll
ignored her, and instead focused on the angry Klingon making his way

"Come on you turtle headed scum. Let me ruin your day," Darnoll
snarled as Worf halted his careful approach. With great restraint
while keeping his eyes on the alien being hosted by his commanding
officer, Worf ordered his men back to give Darnoll breathing space.

"Release the counsellor now and we will allow you to live," the
Klingon stated.

"Live?" Darnoll snorted. "What in? A glass bowl? I wouldn't
last six hours. Just how stupid do you think I am Klingon?" he
grunted and pulled Deanna tighter as a knife-like pain cut across his
stomach. "I let her go and that's it for me I think," he said, sweat
beading on his face. "Sorry Worf." he smiled evilly. "I just don't
like diplomatic endings. Bon voyage." he snarled and squeezed a small
silver device on the cuff of his sleeve. Within seconds, he and his
hostage swirled into a silvery shimmer of disconnected atoms and were
beamed away.

"Damn." Crusher swore softly.

"Worf to bridge," the Klingon said, his message obviously
painful to him to deliver. "Darnoll has escaped with Counsellor Troi
onto the rebel's ship."

"What about the trigger device?" Picard asked, without censure
in his voice.

Geordi answered with a faint smile. "We have it Captain. I'm on
my way to fix our little booby trap now."

"Excellent Lieutenant. Data has locked onto Darnoll's escape
ship. Guess it seems the picnic in Romulan territory has been
cancelled." Picard's attempt at humour was strained with two of his
most needed officers missing. He clenched his fists tighter, damned
if he was going to give in without a fight. "Mr Worf. What about our
other unwanted guests?" he asked.

"All Trill's are accounted for Sir, but unfortunately Darnoll
escaped with the Armand Tousch." Worf's nostrils flared with anger
and Picard nodded, sympathetic to how the Klingon felt.

"We were so close." Crusher began, looking into the fierce
Klingon's stormy features. "But we'll get even closer next time." She
said as she stood and moved out of his way, signalling the last Trill
to be removed to the brig. While waiting for everyone else to exit
the cargo bay she allowed herself the luxury of worrying. "And we
won't be too late for Will," she said with a hope filled heart before
the door boomed shut.


:::::: Eight C :::::::

Darnoll yelled, his voice hoarse as he watched the
sensors eagerly as the Enterprise still loomed behind them. "Can't
you speed up this crate!"

"No we can't," his helmsman answered, "Because those humans
placed a long distance dampening device on us that's halting our warp

Fed up with the controls, Quarit thrust his face into Darnoll's.
"You sure look like hell, Trill. I guess Starfleet wasn't compatible
with your lifestyle after all eh?"

"Just get us out of here. That's your job Quarit." Darnoll
growled before sitting in the co-pilots seat. While he was securing
the treasure he'd been able to ignore the stun grenade's effects on
his body, but the toll was becoming worse as he exerted himself. He
rubbed his stomach.

"Well, how do you suppose we do that?" Quarit asked while
carefully watching as Darnoll closed his eyes and coughed wetly.

Darnoll took a few moments to reply. "You have trans-warp capabilities?"

Quarit nodded.

"Good. The solar flare you mentioned should shake them loose if
we adjust our own shields with the flares harmonics. Once they loosen
their grip we then force ourselves free by hitting transwarp,"
Darnoll coolly suggested, his eyes still closed.

"Very good Darnoll. I like your style of thinking. I'll initiate
the shield's fluctuation parameters," he said, playing with the
controls before glancing back to the Trill and it's host. "You're not
dying in there are you slug boy?"

Darnoll raised his head slowly and coldly stared down the alien
next to him. "Who's calling who a slug boy?" He replied, only
partially in jest.

The squat shaped Quarit smiled. "Hold on to your host, here
comes the flare and here's comes home." He yelled cowboy style before
hitting the shields and dragging the ship through the deadly

Small tinkles could be heard as the Trill treasure chimed with
each rough jerk. "Easy Quarit. We return with shattered crystal, and
we'll never survive a visit planetside on Trill again," He warned.

"Well if you insisted on stealing such a famous body Darnoll, we
wouldn't be roughing it. Just hold your symbiont. We're
nearly....initiating trans-warp...now!" Light seared and the stars
flowed, as their craft sailed through space smoother than silk. A
crashing boom and a small series of shakes forward brought their
craft to a halt into black space. No Enterprise and a different solar
system suddenly surrounded them than before.

Darnoll's tiny chuckle grew into a thunderous maniacal laugh when he
realised he'd made it. "Well done Quarit. Make haste speed to
Cortyutha Prime." He ordered.

Quarit entered the coordinates and then tuned back to the wobbly
trill. "And your going to do what?" he asked.

"Wake my charming wife to be and let her know that she's all mine
now." His grin was dark as he continued his trip to the back of the
ship where the two treasures lay quietly for his admiration.


"Lost them." Geordi swore, thumping the engineering tabletop.
"They used some kind of shield harmonics with the flare activity and
blew our tractor beam out of the water."

Captain Picard frowned quietly as he sat stiffly in his
command chair. "Alert Starfleet command of our current predicament.
And request our release from active mission status. We'll continue
our search for our missing officers before heading back to Earth, to
unload the exhibits."

Worf nodded and made the necessary arrangements. Confirming mere
minutes later that Starfleet had approved and even given their

Picard only nodded as if he suspected all along that his
unconventional request would be approved. The Commander's life was
more important than a mere exhibit to any friend or colleague of Will
Riker's, he thought as he steepled his fingers together. "So where
did they go?" he asked of himself, pondering the question in his mind
verbally with no results.

"I think I know." the soft voice pulled the Captain from his
thoughts, forgetting that Beverly was beside him in the Counselor's

"Please do tell doctor." He prompted.

"When I was checking the cargo bay for fallen Trill, I saw a
small scrawling on the floor behind one of the containers. I'm not
one hundred percent sure why it was there, but I figure Deanna may
have written it. Maybe while listening to them before she was caught
and held hostage." Beverly offered, gnawing her bottom lip.

"Go on doctor," said Picard, sitting up straighter with intrigue.

"She'd written the word 'Fashar'" she said, watching as Picard's
eyes grew wider.

"Off course," he muttered to himself. "Commander Data. Locate
Ambassador Fashar. I think it's time to have a little talk." Picard

"He's behind this?" Worf bellowed incredulously.

"Perhaps not Worf, but the information Darnoll had about Riker, and
the fact that Darnoll was employed by Fashar's orders, probably isn't
just a coincidence. Commander Riker was uneasy about the Ambassador
right from the beginning. But then again, unless the Ambassador
confesses or Darnoll is found, we have nothing."

"Sir. Ambassador Fashar has left Trill for a conference on
Cortyutha Prime. The Ambassador's secretary could not confirm who
with, but said he was staying in the Hydrus sector of the old capital
city." Data offered.

"Excellent work Mr Data. Set course for Cortyutha Prime, the Hydrus
sector. And ready a team Mr Worf. I'm beginning to feel that all is
not lost ." He smiled and raised his hand. "Warp nine. Engage!"


"Face it. You can't get away with this Darnoll. Give up and
let Will Riker go. If you release him I promise I'll plead for
leniency in your case." Deanna bargained as she watched the Trill
suffer. Her sense of Will during these attacks was scant, but she
could feel him saving his strength for one last try to break free
when the time was right.

"You'll plead for nothing woman. You despise me for what I am,
regardless of this bag of flesh I inhabit. What makes you think I'd
trust you once I agreed to release your mate?" He asked, beginning to
visibly shake. He grabbed another hypo and stabbed it into bruised

"Darnoll you are taking higher doses each time, and by it,
shortening your hosts life. Do you think you can stay in there
forever?" She asked.

Darnoll wearily closed his eyes and bit down against acid-like
pain that burned through his symbionts body.

"I will leave when ready, and only then." He replied
breathlessly. The medication began to soothe sensitive tissues and
aching joints. Cooling each of the burning organs being attacked by
the war within, caused by the white blood cells that were apparently
out en mass. He reopened his eyes and observed her concern without

"Darnoll please. Let him go. I will guarantee your existence
once..." His hand slapped her so fast she never had time to even
react as Darnoll staggered away from her. He'd risen fast and ended
her conversation. "From now on you say nothing and do nothing without
my express approval. Do you understand? None of this incessant
jabbering about honour and valour. And no more whining about my
current situation." He leaned close to her, his breath warm on her
cheek. "Or I will cut your vocal cords and sell you at the markets
on Velnar IX for the whore you are." he spat, storming out of the
small cargo area.

Deanna sat quietly ignoring the hurtful words that had come from
the mouth she loved. Will's pain had surfaced and he was in agony.
From the way Darnoll walked to the way he sat, it was evident that
the pain, which pierced his body, couldn't be contained, even through
the cocoon of medication. He was going to die, and Deanna Troi was
going to be a witness right until the end.


:::::: Nine A :::::::

The vast shadow of the large man raced eerily across
the containers back and forth, as he paced through the ill lit
darkness of the warehouse. Checking his ancient chrono constantly, he
squinted into the dark every time something moved. "Felvam rodents."
The old man mumbled, until an unexpected sparkle of silver began to
coalesce into the dazzling display of light, the Armand Tousch. The
majestic piece now standing before the Federation's Ambassador of

Fashar whistled as he examined the crystal tentatively, still intact
and very much tangible. This was not an illusion at all. Turning
finally to face the other two people, his expression slackened in
gobsmacked surprise. "Commander Riker?" Fashar stopped in his
tracks, feeling the beginnings of panic stirring within his gut. As
the Starfleet officer stood before him, the Trill glanced at the
female officer briefly, and immediately calmed when he saw her wrists
were restrained.

"What's the matter Fashar, think the jig was up?" The tall blue
eyed man calmly moved to stand within breaths distance of the
Ambassador. "Darnoll Riker, at your service Fashar." Darnoll smiled
as the older man mirrored the smile slowly and uneasily at first.

"You said you had some difficulties, but I didn't
expect....this." He waved a hand at Darnoll's host. "What in the
world were you thinking Darnoll? Do you honestly believe Starfleet
will let you keep him?" Fashar's shock was now eclipsed by anger and
his face had turned from pale to red as Darnoll watched calmly. "Of
all the stupid things..." Darnoll grabbed his wildly waving arms
breaking into his torrent of angry mutterings.

"Look. You wanted the treasure didn't you?" Darnoll asked, his
blue eyes piercing through the anger of the older Trill. "I lost men
up there because of you and not to mention a healthy host. You don't
even have the gratitude to acknowledge their sacrifice, do you?" He
snarled. "I had to use Riker. There was no other choice. I was dying
and he was my only opportunity to live."

"If you'd have kept your calm you wouldn't have had to change bodies
Darnoll. You were always too impatient." Fashar dismissed.

"They implemented codes Fashar!" Darnoll fumed. "You said we were
going to be the only security options for that piece of glittering
glass, not some unbreakable code!" Darnoll shouted, before grimacing
and moving a little out of Fashar's presence.

"You also said Riker's joining with Odan was perfect when we talked
the day before we left for Earth." He reached forward and grabbed
Fashar around the throat. "But you forgot to tell me something old
man! You forgot to mention he wasn't compatible!" He clutched his
stomach and released his grip on Fashar at the same time, dropping to
his knees on the floor as he strove to breathe normally.

"I didn't think you would have desecrated a hero Darnoll."
Fashar gasped, gently rubbing his reddened neck. "I gave you an
adequate host before you left. I fear you've brought this on
yourself with your own profound lack of professionalism." He moved
past the hurting host towards the bound woman. "Counsellor Troi? I am
sorry that this had to have happened my dear. Commander Riker was a
good man. It was not my intent to hurt him."

Deanna glared at the Ambassador and Fashar sighed and dropped
his head, ashamed for the first time. "Darnoll. We have to clean up
your trail and finish what we started," he said, sounding old as he
watched the still gasping Trill. Fashar's next words halted in his
throat as he watched Darnoll fold painfully to the ground. The small
backpack that lay beside the hunched form, was furiously being
ransacked by the gasping Darnoll as his fingers dug without luck into
it's interior.

"Hypo...already loaded...three bursts." Darnoll whispered,
finally collapsing to the ground, his blue eyes watching through
blurred irises as Fashar hurried his actions.

The large dose of medication burned worse this time, leaving Darnoll
screaming as the link broke minutely, stretching the joining further
out of alignment. Curling up into a ball the human body began to
shake. "Help me Fashar...stop..himmm." Riker ground out between
chattering teeth before his eyes rolled back once more and the calm
facade of Darnoll appeared once more across the sharp boned features.

Fashar stood quietly watching as the host body before him
relaxed, a sign of Darnoll's end or return. Silently he hoped for
Darnoll, for the Enterprise's First Officer to recover now would put
him in an awkward spot, especially against the two officers' might.

A whispered "Thank you" broke the silence, before Fashar realised it
was Darnoll who was still in control. Testing his fingers and arms,
Darnoll gave a relieved smile in Fashar's direction. "Riker's back
where he belongs now." He said as he took a deep breath and sat up
slowly on the dusty floor. "Let's get going as you suggested. You
have the cargo-mover ready?" Darnoll asked, using Fashar's proffered
hand to stand as he wiped the dust from his leathers.

The slap of his hands on the leather woke Deanna from her
stunned stupor. One of which she'd found herself more and more
falling under as she bore some of Will's distress. Riker was
stronger, his strength returning as the joining began to deteriorate
minutely moment by moment. She could feel Will's desperation as he
slid mental fingers into the cracks of Darnoll subconscious, slowly
taking back control, slight enough to not alert Darnoll just yet.
She hid the relief and hope she felt as she followed Fashar to the
far corner of the warehouse, sitting down on an old discarded drum as
he told her to wait, unconcerned that she would even attempt to

Fashar stared at the beautiful Betazoid. He knew she wouldn't
leave without Riker, the description the commander had given of his
soon to be partner over dinner was a perfect match to the woman
before him. She would stay by his side, his male instincts told him.
She was bonded as much to him as Riker was to the symbiont.

"I am truly sorry my dear." He said again, looking into eyes
brimming with tears.

"Then release him Fashar." She replied, her voice calm.

Fashar shook his head. "No. Not until the delivery is finished
and the deal closed. It's only then that I can offer hope for both
entities. Be patient Counsellor. I promise that all will be well."
He hurried from her side, knowing that what he promised may well not
be true. Fashar had regretfully seen the effect of failed joinings
many times over his symbiont lifetime, and sympathised at what
Darnoll and Riker were going through. The same horror had happened
to him four hosts ago. He and his host had been in horrible pain,
with help further away than he'd liked. The memory made him shudder
with apprehension each time that he considered his next possible time
of joining.

As he watched Deanna, his features softened momentarily with
compassion at the pain her features mirrored. "Poor Betazoid, can she
still be feeling Riker?" He muttered to himself. "A lost soul with no
body." He answered his own doubt, knowing that a true joining was
for two to become one. But knew that Darnoll always overtook his
host's presence, never sharing but pillaging memories. The Trill had
become shunned by other symbionts for his callous actions, and many
new hosts refused the honour of being joined once they knew who their
life partner would be. He moved to where Darnoll was finishing
loading the crystal structure with the hoverlift into the large cargo
hold of the mover.

"All loaded Fashar. She's yours when you pay up." He grinned for
a moment until a slight twitch took control of the left side of his
face. He slapped himself and grunted.

"You're losing it Darnoll." Fashar stated, watching calmly when
for the first time in many years he saw fear in his cohort's eyes.

"Don't you think I already know that old man!" He said, grabbing
the back of the mover as his knees nearly collapsed on him.

"Another hypo?" Fashar offered already moving to the pack and
bringing it closer to Darnoll's reach. Fashar offered the bag,
instead of removing the hypo himself. He wasn't going to be
responsible for Riker's overdose if he collapsed. Riker's fingerprint
would be the most recent on the hypo, not his if the human host died.

"Afraid I'll leave this mortal world?" Darnoll said as he
adjusted the hypo himself and gradually regained strength.

"Very." Fashar answered and moved into the pilot seat.


Four golden figures shimmered into solidity in the darkened
warehouse. Mr. Worf, Dr. Crusher and security officers Bowson and
Maudre secured their positions at their new location. Tricorders at
the ready, the short dark haired Bowson pointed his towards the
closest wall.

"Definitely traces of Betazoid DNA sir." He said to Worf.

"We seem to have missed them again." He snarled, annoyed at the
fruitless chase they'd had locating the beam down spot. Worf gave a
few Klingon curses under his breath towards Quarit who had been
difficult to break, that was until he'd spent a couple of hours with
Worf. Quarit had finally admitted that he really didn't care what
happened to Darnoll, citing that what he'd been paid wasn't worth
time in a Federation penal colony. The coordinates were gained, but
now disappointment at losing their quarry showed heavily on Worf's

"I knew this was too easy." Beverly Crusher mumbled as her hatred
towards the Symbiont rose ever higher.

"Sir! We have tracks and an ion trail from a heavy cargo mover.
Headed east sir." Maudre handed the tricorder to show the signature
to Worf.

"Excellent." He smiled, baring his uneven teeth.



:::::: Nine B :::::::

Deanna grimaced as her head banged against the side of
the mover once more. She was still tied up and had been thrust into
the cargo hold with the musically twinkling Armand Tousch, and the
ride had been anything but smooth. "Well I guess Will isn't driving."
She said, knowing Darnoll would have the same skilful abilities as
Will, and this was below par for the first officer. She sighed,
making the decision now that was going to be her last chance to tip
the balance in Will's favour.

Sliding her aching arms down awkwardly towards her ankles, she raised
her trouser cuff and pulled the ceremonial blade from her hidden
place inside her boot. With a prayer filled with hope she began to
cut at her bonds, newly bound ankles first, hoping the mover wouldn't
make a sudden movement at the wrong time.


Fashar stopped the large cargo mover and observed his companion
who slept fitfully. A mighty struggle was ensuring behind those
closed eyes. Fashar's smile was grim as he exited the cabin, his
tired body protesting as he examined the new storage place for the
Armand Tousch.

Short minutes passed and Fashar took his seat once again inside the
mover, watching the dying human fight and regretting the necessity of
sacrificing the man whom had been a hero of sorts to the Trill
people. Swallowing hard over the lump in his throat, he turned back
to the control panel before him and drove the mover deep inside and
left it again to close the doors behind them.

Wandering back to the exit, he remembered the pleasant dinner he'd
shared with Commander Riker at his home. The human's hearty laughter
had been contagious and his work sense was solid. Fashar didn't
remember an evening he'd enjoyed more. But if Riker lived, the
authorities would arrest him, and the Ambassador knew that helping
release Riker from Darnoll's grip would end his own highly esteemed
position. The human was now a witness to his crime, and if he died,
with or without Darnoll's removal there would be no trail of
evidence. Regret squeezed his heart.

"The woman has to go too you old fool," he whispered, sadness
engulfing him as his mission became all too clear. Heavy hearted,
Fashar returned to the mover and progressed further into the deserted
complex of underground tunnels, finally halting in front of a pair of
dusty and very ornate doors.

"My old haunt," he thought, smiling at the doors to the old
Trill chambers of commerce. This was an underground section that used
to contain many of the governmental departments of a glorious past
gone by. No one used this old place, abandoned by years of
architectural growth that had moved their capital city many planets
away where huge towering buildings instead of these war-like bunkers
of yesteryear, and saluted the Trill Council. But Fashar was
re-commissioning this one for use in the commerce of blackmail.

Already he'd sent off the message to the Trill Council requesting the
Latinum in return of the ancient artefact that once used to adorn an
office many floors above where it now rested. The money was a king's
ransom, but the reason for the kidnapping of such a revered artefact
was to obtain revenge at the council members who'd approved of it's
participation in the Federation's exhibit. Old grievances were legend
among the Trills, with each symbiont adopting the next host's hatreds
at times.

It was Fashars hope that these council members would be
stripped of their status and their children removed from the joining
program as a result of their haste in agreeing with the Federation.
Their long fight for the Armand Tousch to be viewed by other worlds
would be their ending.

The luck of landing the position to forward the treasure to the
Federation, was something he'd waited many generations of hosts to
accomplish, something that would topple his foes.

Fashars smile was twisted as he banged on the Mover, waking the
dying man for his final moments of light. Fashar had decided to
finish the agony for him, sad in his choice. Leather creaked, and a
quiet groan came from the slumped body. "Where are we?" Darnoll asked
as he crawled out of his seat and straightened his posture. He
stretched carefully, stiffly walking beside Fashar as the Ambassador
lead him to a proffered door.

"We're in the old citadel quarters. The council hasn't used this
place for fifty years. We will be safe here for a while." The old
man smiled and helped Darnoll Riker as he stumbled over the
threshold. "Take a seat old friend while I get the girl. Be
comfortable, for you won't have long to wait." With that he moved
through the closing doors.


Darnoll Riker examined the dusty accoutrements of the ornate office.
Plush maroon cushions sagged on golden frames, which gave
web-spinning insects a multitude of places to attach their webs.
Further into the interior, he found a clean desk, its mirror surface
an oddity in this dirty and long forgotten room.

A familiar reflection caught his glance, starring further into the
mirror surface to examine the deathly mask before him. He observed
the body he inhabited, worried by the wane face peering back at him.
Death hung over him like a spectre, the tissue paper skin stretched
tight over the once handsome features that had now become a mask of
pain. He grunted and pushed away from the table's edge with disgust.
The foul taste of illness resided permanently in his mouth, and he
hated the husk of a host he now lived in.

Shaking the horrid vision from his mind, Darnoll picked up a few
trinkets from the clean surface, reviewing them to gain information
about its collector. "You sly devil Fashar," he said aloud, his voice

"Why thank you my friend." Fashar said, grinning as he entered
through the heavily gilded doors. "I'm glad you like it. This was my
old home for many a long hour of work." His memories of times past
almost made him forget the unwilling charge he pulled behind him.

"You never told me of this." Darnoll smiled. The warmth of a
long time companionship lightens his expression.

"It was many hosts ago, as you can see by the dust. But from
today onwards the past will cease to matter to me, soon to be
forgotten like the dust of centuries past. Once the Trill Council
realises their folly in allowing the others to convince them to send
out their most precious heirloom, having it vanish whilst under the
direct supervision of the vaunted Federation Flagship, I will be
happy to leave this office alone along with it's associations with
revenge." He pushed Deanna into a sitting position on a dusty couch
and moved to his desk. Reclining into the plush velvet himself.
A sneeze escaped her as the dust found it's way into her nose from
the heavy fall back onto the upholstery.

"Bless you Imzadi." A caring voice announced. Her head shot up
as Will emerged, and he sank to his knees. "Fashar! You bastard!"
Riker yelled, before Darnoll smothered him, forcing him back through
iron willpower as his words announced his own returned presence.
Darnoll snarled with a white knuckled grip on the edge of the table
as he struggled from the floor. "A host, I need a new host now
Fashar. No more talking." He said, ripping open the neck of his
jacket, trying to cool his overheated body as rivulets of sweat ran
freely down his face.

Fashar sighed and leaned back in his chair, moving his hand to
the table's top drawer. "I truly am sorry my friend, but you did
bring this on yourself, I can't abide sloppy work." He removed his
hand and pointed the disruptor in Darnoll and Deanna's direction,
keeping them in frame of the disruptor's reach.

Darnoll's blue eyes widened with shock. "You son of a whore! I
called you a friend and sacrificed my crew for your petty vendetta. I
should have taken the jewel for myself!" Darnoll pulled himself fully
upright, blocking Fashar's view of Deanna, even now, subconsciously
blocking her from imminent death.

"You must understand Darnoll. If I help you now, everyone will
know I was part of this scheme. But if I let you die and destroy the
Commander and the Counsellor's bodies, no one will ever have reason
to link this to me." He shrugged and smiled.

"Fashar no. You promised!" He said, starting to loose it as
Riker's own anger added fuel to the fire to keep him going. For the
first time, both worked as one to save themselves. True regret was
on Fashar's face as he gripped the weapon tighter, motioning him back
from the desk. Darnoll Riker complied, turning only to find Deanna
standing untied with the dagger large in her tiny hand.

Fashar had only a moment's notice before she released it, but
his split second reflexes made her narrowly miss him as he flung
himself sideways, aiming still for the two errant factors of his
plan. Deanna dodged as Fashar fired, landing heavily on the floor.
Coming up from her crouch, she yelled as Darnoll Riker threw himself
onto the man who had so traitorously turned on him. The ensuing
struggle was violent, as each Trill threw punches, and ending soon
with each gripping the others throat. Had Riker's body been healthy,
his strength would have ended the confrontation then and there, but
he was now weaker than the old man Fashar.

Darnoll Riker would die soon, and Fashar knew that, and so he
fought with confidence as he hit the host's jaw, stunning him long
enough to reach the ceremonial knife the counsellor had thrown. "You
wanted to be released from this body Darnoll, then you shall have
your wish. Only you'll slowly die within your host's rotting corpse."
Fashar gasped as he rolled Riker over onto the floor. He sat over
his stomach, pressing the dagger until is pierced the skin mere
inches from Riker's heart. Darnoll Riker fought with both hands
around the dagger, struggling to keep it away from piercing further
through his flesh while Fashar was pushed back briefly across his
legs now.

Deanna's eyes were widened with fear when she saw that even
with the Trill-host cooperation that the fight was becoming one
sided. She flew over the table, scattering the golden objects and
grabbed Fashar's disruptor, aiming it at him before ordering him to

"Damn. Not now girl!" Fashar screamed as he pressed harder, the
knifepoint slicing through the leather garment and cutting through
tender skin. Darnoll Riker let out a scream of fury as he used his
last remaining strength to hold off the knife.

"Farewell..." Fashar began, only to have the blunt end of the
disruptor connect with his head, knocking him off Darnoll Riker and
back onto the floor. When he shook the stars clear from his vision,
he found his quarry now standing over him.

Darnoll Riker swung out with his remaining strength, breaking
Fashar's jaw with one blow. Stunned and shocked from the attack,
Fashar still recovered quick enough to reach for the knife once more,
missing it only by millimetres as Darnoll procured it for himself.

"I begged you to help us and you refused," he panted. Switching
his glance to Deanna who held a disruptor over the both of them. He
swallowed hard and coughed harshly shortly. Disregarding the blood
that rose so easily to his mouth, he spat blood with a grimace.

"Riker, please don't." Fashar waved his hand in front of the
reluctant host, hoping to reach the first officer instead of the mad
Trill. He half lay back onto the floor, one hand holding him up.

"Good try Fashar, but we both agree that you have to go." Darnoll
Riker stated, bringing his arm up high to strike the final blow.

"Will no! Don't kill him. The authorities will deal with him,"
Deanna begged as she shook her head, her fingers clenching the

"Counsellor the pain is so hard to bare....and what he demanded
has ...killed ...mmee," he said, the symbiont moving wildly in her
lover's belly as the joining corroded. As Darnoll Riker lifted his
hand higher to strike again, he whispered to her, "trust me," and
plunged the knife deep into his own belly.



:::::: Nine C :::::::

Deanna screamed as the indescribable pain inside
her own heart blocked her vision and brought her to her knees.

"Oh my deities." She dimly heard Fashar say, riveting her
attention back to the scene before her.

Will was kneeling still before Fashar, his hands shaking, still
gripping the knife now embedded in his stomach. "Will!" She
whispered, her voice drowned out by the gasps of pain from the joined

"I'm sorry Imzadi," he said.

Fasher's face was a palette of shock as the last fleeting
glimpse of Darnoll disappeared, the realisation of his defeat
twisting Riker's face one final time. The jewel encrusted ceremonial
knife jutted from his abdomen, its golden handle the only part
visible outside his leather jacket. The stench of iron rich blood
filled the air, mixed now with the toxic scent of Darnoll's own
fluids. Will Riker smiled as he looked down at his jerking belly.
"I'm free," he whispered, sliding sideways into Deanna's outstretched

Her tears burned as they flowed down her cheeks, dripping onto
her Imzadi's bearded face like a rainstorm.

"He killed him. Riker killed Darnoll," Fashar muttered quietly.
"He sacrificed himself to die free." Fashar rubbed his own stomach
sympathetically, feeling his self embedded safely, deep within his
own host body. Sighing with relief that Riker had done it himself,
Fashar realised that now all he had to do was finish the woman and
his plan could still be accomplished successfully. He untangled
himself from Riker's long limbs, and watched as the counsellor paid
no more attention to him as her mate lay dying in her arms.

Reaching for the disruptor, he was startled into looking up as the
ornate doors flew open and Worf entered with phaser at the ready,
only to discover the scene of distressing quiet.

"Halt!." Snarled the Klingon.

The other guards arrived and Fashar turned, only to see a small
feminine hand griping the disruptor already. "Do as he says you
bastard." Deanna said. Bringing the weapon up mere centimetres to his

Fashar swallowed his fear and backed away, holding up his hands,
until Worf dragged him into the corner, depositing him into the care
of his men to handle.

Beverly soon rushed into the room, now it was clear, and dropped hard
to her knees by the collapsed first officer. He tried to swallow, but
blood was now flooding his throat, and with a choking cough, started
its flow down the side of his mouth.

"William Riker what have you done to yourself now." Beverly
scolded while she passed her scanner over him. "I'm home." Riker
murmured before his eyes closed. Beverly frowned. "Stabbed right
through the abdominal wall and into the symbiont." She shook her
head. "You did a good job of practically killing both of them
Fashar." She angrily said to the disgraced Ambassador.

"Me? No. I didn't do it. Riker stabbed himself!" Fashar said
with a bitter laugh. "You can't blame his death on me." A venomous
stare from the Klingon shut him up.

"Do you think us a bunch of Ptak's to believe your story?" Worf growled.

Fashar started to reply but was beat by Deanna. "It's true
Worf. Will was able to override Darnoll at the last moment before he
tried to stab Fashar." Her mind was quickly pulled back into the
flow of Will's dying emotions until a rough shake jolted her back to
the dusty grave of the Trill chambers.

"You've got to help him fight Deanna. I need to stabilise him
for transport. It's bad but he has a chance if he can hold on a
little longer. Can you do that?" Beverly asked, waiting for the
gentle nod before concentrating on packing the wound and
administering the blood expanders and clotting agents.

Deanna shared her strength as she tightened her arms around
his chest, cradling him against her. "Stay with me Will," she
whispered into his ear. He jerked sharply in pain and Deanna's eyes
were drawn instantly to Will's belly, as the knife handle moved in
tandem with the symbiont, using it's last few minutes of life to
cause Riker as much pain as possible for his double cross.

"Beverly!.....get it out!" He gasped with eyes still closed. He
groaned and clenched his teeth hard as the knife cut further each
time the Trill moved inside.

"Will, I have to make an incision, this is the only way and it's
going to hurt like hell. Do you understand?" She said, waiting until
Riker nodded. She cut away his leather jacket and brandished a laser
scalpel, while Deanna placed her hands on Will's sweaty face for
comfort. Swiftly Beverly gave him a painkiller before she opened the
area surrounding the knife, exposing a section of the Trill, showing
the dagger centred through it's body. With each of its dying
thrashes, a score of lacerations were carved inside Will's belly, and
she had to hurry before he bled to death. Grabbing a hypo she
squeezed it through the small opening and targeted the symbiont with
the sedative.

Will's legs jerked in shock, and his scream cut both women to the
heart as Darnoll finally exited Will's consciousness, finally leaving
the man alone as the Trill faded and died. Beverly didn't close the
incision, but only packed it as she ordered Worf to call the ship.

"Will?" Deanna said, fear constricting her throat as she still
reeled from the shock of his separation.

"Still here Imzadi." He grunted softly.

Beverly gave Deanna a worried but encouraging smile as she
packed her equipment and waited for the transporter to take them home.


Sickbay was already humming with activity as Commander Riker
materialised onto the surgical table. His clothes were removed and he
was draped for surgery. The light glistened off the dagger's gold and
jewel encrusted surface, highlighting its beauty as it stood upright
from surface of Riker's abdomen. Sterilising fields were quickly
positioned and the Commander was prepped as Dr Crusher returned to
his side now garbed in red surgical scrubs.

"OK team, this is as stable as he's going to get. We've got to remove
the Trill and its contaminants before we repair. Doctor Selar,
concentrate on sterilisation while I remove the symbiont," she
ordered. Selar nodding and moved into position as the packing around
the knife's entrance was removed.

Will's rapid breathing was the beat they worked against as the wound
was opened and the knife and symbiont were removed. Heavy lacerations
had been caused from the movement of the blade while the symbiont had
struggled. Soon the multi-coloured monopod was revealed with the
knife impaling it right through the middle of its sluglike body.

"Damn! He pushed too deeply. We've got serious bleeding underneath
this bastard." Beverly said as she lifted the creature out of the
cavity, making way for Selar to jump in. The Trill, now deposited
into a wide transparent aluminium bowl still squirmed a little in
it's own pinkish fluids as the sedative wore off and the death throws

"Carina make the Trill comfortable. There's nothing we can do to
save it," she said, trying not to let her anger effect her duty as a
physician. "Sashi, analyse the fluid Darnoll's leaking and get a work
up done. Stat," she said before changing gloves and jumping back into
the fray to save her friend. She hardly gave a second glance, to
the senior staff watching through the observation dome. Concentrating
on every bip on the diagnostic screen, she soon spotted a chemical
reaction beginning to form in Will's blood.

"Respiration and blood pressure are dropping doctor." Alyssa
called out as Riker began to gasp.

"Poison. The bastard's poisoned him!" Beverly growled as she
called out to Sashi for the analysis of the Trill's fluid.

"The Trill's blood has a very high acidic content. The molecules
for some reason are attaching to both red and white blood cells, and
he's reacting almost as if he's having a transfusion reaction. His
red blood cells are expanding and exploding." Sashi said, her eyes

Crusher paled slightly, "Alright, I want a total transfusion
stat!" As the nurses ran to carry out her order, she turned to Selar.
"How's the wound site?" She asked while administering the hypos her
nurses slapped into her hands in rapid succession.

Selar stood back, allowing Crusher to advance. "His wound will
not heal." She said, indicating the gaping hole that was still red
and raw and open after two attempts at closure. Riker began to seize
and alarms wailed as they fought to get him back on the board. "I
need the restraining field tightened now!" She barked, running to her
computer to run another set of tests on the sample before
synthesising a compound which she flushed the wound cavity with. As
she bathed every area affected by Darnoll's blood. The angry red
dulled, and it appeared that the wound would finally be able to be
More drugs were pumped into the twitching Commander to stabilise him,
reducing the risk of shock and infection. When he was closed and his
life-signs stabilised, a collective congratulatory sigh was released
by the group, centred closely around the sick man as if their
presence was enough to heal him.

Beverly looked up with true gratitude on her face as she watched
the tired faces of her team. "Alright. He's far from stable just
yet, so I want a round the clock supervision and scans run every
twenty minutes to make sure that compound is still working. I want to
make sure he's not suffering any after effects from the transfusion.
Alyssa. I'll need you to set up the course of medication on this padd
to bring his immune system back on line," she ordered, pulling the
red surgical hood from her head. She was exhausted.

"Yes doctor." Alyssa replied before heading off to follow her orders.

Alone. Beverly sighed and looked down at Will. He was still under
the effects of anaesthesia, and very very pale, but finally peaceful.
The toll on them all from the past week had been devastating, but
mostly on Will. No doubt his physical problems could be dealt with;
she wasn't so sure about the psychological ones burned into his soul.
As she watched his life signs dip and steady, she took a deep breath
and moved with a heavy heart to her next patient, but the Trill had
already slipped away. Memories of Odan flooded her and she was
momentarily stunned by its backlash. The warmth of her Captain's
voice broke the memories hold on her. "How is he doctor?" Picard
asked, pulling her from her thoughts as she made her way outside the
operating theatre.

She was able to smile before giving her answer. "Once more Will
Riker seems to have pulled through, though it's still pretty early to
say. He's pretty unstable. I'm afraid that when Will stabbed Darnoll,
the knife went right through and wreaked havoc. The Trill blood was
toxic too, caused a severe transfusion reaction. But we caught it
quickly, but as I said, it's still too early to say."

"Well done Beverly." Picard said, the warmth of his smile
medicine to her soul. The small group of Worf, Geordi and Data soon
moved off, offering her their thanks for her miraculous rescue of
their friend and commanding officer. Soon alone, Beverly wearily
leaned back into Jean Luc's arms , offering her comfort and strength
to face her friend.

"You can stay with him Deanna but you know the rules." She said
to the white faced Betazoid, who'd been watching at the wings as her
soulmate suffered through the operation.

"Thank you Beverly." She said gratefully and moved out into the room beyond.


Will's pale features were in stark contrast to his dark beard. The
clamshell was positioned over his abdomen and the heat had been
turned up to keep him from chilling.

Deanna sat in the comfortable chair that the staff had left for her.
They knew that she was to become part of the sickbay facilities while
her fiance was present.

She reached through the clamshell and gripped his hand, massaging
away the coldness and tightening her grip wishing she could hold him
in her arms.
The medical equipment beeped with its rhythmic dance, occasionally
drawing her eyes upward when the life-signs would suddenly drop then
return to normal.

"Your still fighting aren't you Imzadi?" She asked, not expecting a
return answer.

Nurses came and went about their business in the first few hours.
Cleaning him up now that he was more stable, and checking the
monitors constantly. Senior Nurse Alyssa Ogawa was by his side
frequently, even though her innards trembled in mild fear of what
he'd done under the power of the Trill slug. As an old hand at
repairing him, Ogawa pushed aside her own emotions, taking her job of
keeping the Enterprise's First Officer alive very seriously. His
compassionate self forever portrayed in the front of her mind as she
checked and re-checked all the scan results, reminding herself often
that he had not been responsible for his actions whilst under the
influence of the Trill.

"He's stabilising. Not so many dips in his readings. I think we
can relax a little." Ogawa said, glad to bring a smile to the
Counsellor's dusty tear streaked face.

"Thank you Alyssa. Could I trouble you for another blanket? He's
still so cold." She asked as Will's hand trembled for a moment.

"Sure Counsellor." Alyssa answered and left to retrieve the
supplies. Spying a tiny amount of blood on the coverlet, once she'd
returned and lifted the clamshell, she slapped her communicator
instantly. "Nurse Ogawa to Doctor Crusher, please return to sickbay
immediately," she said, unable to mask her worry.

"I'm on my way," the distressed and hurried voice of Beverly
Crusher was immediate and her words hung in the air. The doors
opened and the red haired doctor swooped down onto her patient.

"He's bleeding againŠ seems to be around the wound closure."
Alyssa stood, alert and ready to grab anything at a moment's notice.

"What is it? What's wrong?" Deanna asked, standing back to give them room.

Her heavily expelled breath blew Beverly's hair away from her
forehead. "Damn," she said, sighing as she lifted the covers and
probed the small tear.

"Get the compound we used in surgery and a dermal regenerator to
seal this rupture. It may have happened when we moved him, possibly
not enough of the compound to seal it properly."

Alyssa returned shortly and Beverly finished the job. "Relax
Deanna," she said with a grim smile. "We just never had this problem
with Odan because he was intact when we removed him. I think we're
OK now.

"So that's why he was cold?" She asked taking a seat to save her
wobbly legs.

"Some of it. His body temperature readings are low due to shock
too. No human body was meant to undergo the stresses that hosting a
Trill places on it." She smiled and placed a comforting hand on
Deanna's shoulder. "He'll be fine Deanna. Why don't you go and get
cleaned up?"

Deanna wryly observed her dust cover uniform and filthy hands,
wondering what the rest of her face and hair looked like.

"I suppose your right. Can I use the sickbay's showers?

"Sure. But please take it easy Deanna and don't push yourself.
We've all been running low on physical reserves for the past few
days, you especially." Beverly mother-henned her best friend and left
after giving a few more orders to Ogawa.

Deanna kissed Will's cool cheek and gave one last squeeze to his hand
before leaving to freshen up. "I'll be back soon Imzadi." She
promised in a whisper before pushing aside the rebellious lock of
hair and kissing him again upon the forehead.


:::::: Ten A :::::::

Will Riker was subtly aware of that his body belonged to him
again, though of course he was floating through nothing at that
moment the thought came to mind. His skull was only filled with his
own thoughts now, and there was no longer any danger of them being
ripped from him at the random whim of the insane Trill that had held
him hostage. Concentrating on trying to feel his toes, he watched
the pale pink clouds whisper back and forth, as he floated before

Floated? His curiosity rose when he realised he couldn't feel
himself, but was somehow still attached. Am I alive? He wondered. Had
he destroyed Darnoll only to end his own life? Was Deanna upset with
his decision?

His mind was filled with an ugly certainty. Deanna. Why wasn't
she here in this place? Healing his raped and pillaged mind? Could
this truly be the end of his existence? He felt the first stirring of
doubt, which soon gave way to fear. Trying hard to clamp down on his
own slippery emotions he decided he wasn't going to start following
doubts. He was going to focus. He had to find her somehow. "Deanna!"
He called, hearing his own voice echo as though he were trapped in a
cavern. "Imzadi!" He called again, hating the pleading note to his
voice. Suddenly he was no longer floating in a tranquil paradise,
but a claustrophobic world of nothing, and he was afraid. It ate at
his soul, and he floated in blackness, for how long he didn't know.
He despaired of never seeing her again but he kept calling, moving
through the dark clouds, and finding them becoming even more dense
and difficult to traverse through.

"Imzadi!" He called again and again, desperation escalating
his phantom heart to a panicked rhythm. The clouds were blacker than
darkness now and had thickened like glue. He could no longer pass
through their cotton like appearance. He screamed a heart wrenching
call of "Imzadi!" in pure desperation. His scream muffled as it
merged with him and clogged his mouth, nose, and ears making it
impossible to breath.


Deanna sat bolt upright in her bed, her sheets sticking to her
damp skin as her heart beat a frighted tattoo against her chest.
Will's distress was palpable and she jumped out of bed, throwing his
old t-shirt on over her jeans. Running out of her room barefoot with
her hair a tangled mess, she sped down the corridor to sickbay. She
burst through the doors, barely slowing down in time to avoid plowing
into Beverly who stood over an extremely restless Will Riker,
medicorder in hand.

"It's ok Deanna, he's just a little restless." Crusher said.

"No he's not ok. Something's wrong. He woke me up calling
for me." She panted, trying to catch her breath.

Putting the medicorder down, Beverly firmly held Deanna's shoulders.
"He's fine Deanna. You're exhausted and the nightmare was just a
product of it. Will's just fighting the sedation I've got him under.
I felt his stomach wound needed a little more time than Mr Riker
normally gives his body to heal."

Deanna looked into Beverly's face, and gauged that she was telling
the truth as she saw it. She blew a small tangle of hair out of her
eye. "Goddess I must look a sight," she said with a sheepish grin.

"Well you're not the most terrible sight I've ever seen,"
Beverly joked and smiled back. "So. Think you can calm him before I
sedate him further?" She asked.

Deanna nodded and swallowed lightly. She calmed herself and portrayed
such emotions as love and comfort across their bond as she moved
beside the large shifting body that still continued to fight the past
few day's horrors. Placing a hand upon his forehead, and another
against his chest to feel his rapidly beating heart, she whispered
words of care. "Your safe Will. I'm here now Imzadi." Confident,
Deanna waited for him to calm. "Imzadi. You're going to be fine.
You're safe now." she sent to him. No response came.

When the bedridden Commander still thrashed at the peril of his
injuries. Deanna stood back and eyed Beverly as she approached with
another hypo of sedative in hand. "Can we discontinue the sedatives?
Perhaps bring him to consciousness?" Deanna asked.

Beverly frowned thoughtfully for a moment, contemplating what
the consequences of the result might be. "Ok. But if he tries to
escape my tender mercies, he goes under again."

Deanna nodded in agreement and waited for Beverly to retrieve a
replacement hypo from the side console. Deanna was concerned.
Will's pallor was still shocking, and she wasn't sure if she was
imagining it, but he seemed almost to be yellowish in cast.

Beverly pressed the hypo against the crook of Will's arm and stood
back to watch the monitors with careful glances to her patient.
"Here he comes." Beverly remarked, carefully watching as his pulse
and respiration escalated suddenly.

Consciousness hit him with a vengeance, and his pupils were huge in
his eyes as he laboured to struggle back to reality. Deanna tried to
calm him but found herself jumping out of the way as he pulled
himself rigidly upright in the bed, ripping the blankets aside as he
frantically felt for his stomach. He pressed hard, as if trying to
find the trill, until Beverly halted his painful probes by
restraining his shaking hands.

"Will stop. He's gone. Darnoll is gone." She repeated over and
over until he fell backwards on the bio-bed into a limp heap. His
hands slid off the bed and exhaustion clung to him. It seemed as if
he were still partially disconnected and was having a hard time
merging with this body again. He swallowed over the painful dryness
in his throat and found Deanna with his eyes.

"You're you Will. Darnoll is dead Imzadi." Deanna whispered,
leaning closer to Will as he struggled to crawl into her arms, and
began to quietly cry tears of relief, his head cradled against her
chest. Beverly placed the diagnostics on remote so she could view
them from her office terminal. It was a private moment, and she knew
Will would be embarrassed to have her witness his grief. Deanna
clung to him until the small silent jerks finally abated, and only an
occasional hiccup gave away his distress.

"You OK?" Deanna asked the top of his head. A small nod rubbed
the damp tee shirt against her chest. Deanna smiled. "I woke up when
you were fighting the sedation earlier. I could feel your fear." She
said quietly.

Will ran a hand along her arm as it held him against her. "I
couldn't....I didn't know if he was gone, or if I was dead," he

"Well you're not dead Will," She said. "But Beverly still has
you on critical status. Your body took a beating and Darnoll did a
lot of damage." Deanna smiled seductively in an attempt to lighten
the mood. "But I'm sure you'll be back to your old tricks in no
time," she informed him as he tried to sit further upright, with a
short gasp of pain. Reaching behind him she raised the head of his
bed until he could view more of sickbay than just the ceiling.

Will tried to smile as he pulled back the covers that Deanna was
trying to re-drape over him. He carefully examined the dermoplast
covering that went from end to end of the large incision that
appeared to run the full length of his torso. "So that bastard is
truly gone?" He asked again, needing verification.

"Yes. I promise he's gone for good. The dagger mortally wounded
Darnoll, and he died soon after they removed him," she said,
shuddering at the memory of Will laying on the table with the dagger
still protruding from his belly. "I nearly lost you Will," she said,
trying hard to keep the accusation from her voice.

He nodded groggily, fighting against the pain of his
post-operative recovery. His belly ached and a deep mind-numbing pain
occasionally stabbed him like sharpened spikes. His kidneys were
sore, and the same with his chest. Rubbing it gently he realised that
his heart must have suffered as well. But someone else had suffered,
someone very close to him. "I'm so very sorry Imzadi."

"You don't have to be Will. You were a victim of circumstance
and none of this was your fault." She kissed him on the lips and then
kissed the hand she gripped.

Will bit his lip before speaking. "I have to transfer, that's
if Starfleet will even keep me on." He groaned and sank further into
the pillows. "You should never have agreed to marry me."

"Transfer? What are you thinking Will Riker?" Deanna said, far
harsher than she meant to. Ignoring his comment of their proposed

He turned his head. "Come on Deanna you know why. After putting
the crew in mortal danger I did manage to steal a prized artefact
which almost started an interstellar incident," he said. "And I hurt
you," he whispered quietly and hid his eyes behind his hand.

Deanna stood rigid at the weight of Will's depression and self-doubt.

"Will. What happened wasn't your fault. You were injured and
Jarsun took advantage of that. Darnoll was implanted without your
consent, and before you even had a chance to prepare yourself, there
was no way of fighting off his control. He was strong Will, and he'd
had centuries of practice, controlling hosts, not someone like you,
but hosts who were trained for joining. I saw and felt you trying
Will, but you couldn't stop him, maybe no one could have. But at
great cost to yourself, you fought for dominance and managed to warn
us, and not just once!" She watched him worriedly as he stared at the
ceiling, listening, but still refusing to face her. She tried once

"Will. My darling Imzadi. You are the other half of my heart and
the keeper of my soul, and I wouldn't give back a single day of what
we've shared. Remember that our bond works both ways, and I know
what you went through. I could feel every horrible moment of it in
here," she said, her voice catching as she thumped her clenched fist
against her heart drawing his eyes with the sound. She watched him
swallow hard and turn back away from her.

"I know," he said, his voice strained, "I could hardly think of
anything else but the suffering I was putting you through. But what
makes you think Starfleet will understand or even care? Joined
Trill's have operated within Starfleet for years. They won't believe
that I couldn't prevent Darnoll from taking over. Hell, I'll be
lucky not to be court-martialled and stripped of rank for this." His
misdirected anger deepened his voice and made him tense. When a
grunt of pain made Deanna grip his hand tighter with concern, Beverly
arrived as if on cue.

"Welcome back to sickbay Will." She announced, running a hand
across his stomach and gently probing it with her fingertips. "I want
to remind you not to even think about stretching or straining this
part of your body. OK?" Beverly said, satisfied that he was only
experiencing healing pains. She watched him carefully and made a
weak attempt at some humour.

"Now that you've awakened, hopefully Alyssa won't be cleaning up
so much after you. Your kidney's are stressed and playing tricks with
your bladder at the moment, so if you do wet the bed, don't fret,"
She smiled. "And don't worry about the yellow tint to your skin. That
will resolve itself within a week or so."

Will flushed an unbecoming shade of red and looked away from Deanna.
"I'm Sorry Bev," he said. Deanna wasn't sure whether he was answering
her medical request or for what he thought he was responsible for
while under the control of Darnoll.

"Your apology is accepted but not required Will," Beverly
assured him. "Just remember no strenuous activity. We're having some
trouble keeping your white blood cells controlled because your immune
system can't figure out what normal is. So we're slowly educating it
in the ways of modern medicine. I want you to be prepared for a
nasty course of hypos over the next few days," she said, knowing full
well that Will hated the damn things.

"Sure doc. Just for the record, how long have I been out?" he
asked, ignoring the shiver that wanted to traverse his body with the
thought of the hypo bombardment he would receive.

"About five days, going on six. We've already recovered and
delivered the Armand Tousch off to Earth and are now heading
elsewhere on a mission unknown to me. That's the last you're going to
hear about what's going on outside of this room, Commander." she
warned him. "You slept through the whole thing Will," She teased,
trying to rouse a smile. But he ignored her last comment and closed
his weary eyes, pretending to fall asleep in an obvious effort to
clear the room.

Deanna gave him a wistful look and a quick kiss before turning
to her waiting friend. "Can I talk to you in your office for a
moment?" She asked.

"Sure. Just let me give Mr. Sleepy here his medication and we'll
be on our way. In fact, how about Ten Forward?" A small hiss and
Beverly left his side, knowing full well that he was still awake.

Deanna looked at her sleeping husband to be with trepidation.
"I don't know. I could do with some lunch, but I was wondering if I
should leave him alone like this yet."

Beverly hooked her arm through Deanna's guided her through the
doors. "Alyssa will keep an eye on him, and I gave him something to
keep him out for a while. So let's get you changed and get out of
here," she said, her voice filtered through into sickbay as the doors
closed on their retreating backs.


:::::: Ten B :::::::

A moment later Will Riker opened his eyes and found the
area vacant. He laboured to sit upright and dangled his legs over the
side while taking deep steadying breaths to stop the wild spinning in
his head and the sharp jabs of pain cutting across his stomach. He
tried to stand up but immediately found himself beginning to fall.
With drunken strides, he made it to the next bed and clung to the
edge with white knuckles.

No longer in his temperature controlled environment, goose bumps
marched across his skin. It was only then, that Will realised he was
totally naked. "Damn. Forgot about pants." He mumbled as he tried
vainly to think clearly without much luck. "She did this on
purpose...witch," he groaned, realising now that she'd known he was
faking sleep, the fogginess a by-product of pre-administered meds.

Pushing himself forward he reached one of the med labs, narrowly
missing being seen by a young nurse who might turn him in for
escaping the confines of his bed, or worse, for indecent behaviour.
Activating the terminal, he slid heavily into the chair, biting his
bottom lip from gasping in pain, and entered his commands.

"Where are you now you bastard? Where are you hiding now," He mumbled
until he found his answer. Pushing himself back up, he staggered
towards the temporary morgue. This room was used as a stopover until
the bodies were moved to the icy tomb a few doors down. Sweat
plastered rebellious hair to his forehead as he fought a particularly
nasty spell of weakness, one that had him leaning over a counter as
he waited for it to pass. He swallowed a few times to halt the bile
he felt rising in his throat and continued on his quest.

Gasping from the pain of his unhealed wounds, he finally found
the small compartment, and therein lay a sealed container.

Angry tears burned and his hands trembled when he ripped off the
lid to see for himself the remains of Darnoll. His body no longer
that of a colourful Trill symbiont, but resembling that of a greyish
slime covered slug. Nausea rose and he wasn't able to contain it as
he whimpered and fell to his knees, jarring his tender gut. After
waiting for what seemed like hours, his stomach calmed down and he
was able to pull himself into a chair to watch the nemesis on the
floor he'd had to carry in his belly. His hatred soured in his
stomach, his anger exploding into action as he reached forward and
threw the plasti-bowl containing the Trill's body against the wall,
with a satisfying splat. He shook with spent emotion, tears coursing
freely down his bearded cheeks.

"Assimilate that you..." he moaned and fell back into the chair.
"Time to go home," he muttered, shivering in the chilled air. Right
about this moment, Will felt like an escapee from the morgue. He
made his way slowly back to his prison, nearly having made it back
when his legs turned to sponge and he collapsed against a bed only
four steps away from his own. Just then the sickbay doors opened and
closed, admitting the one person who Will Riker had hoped not to see.

"Number one?" Picard asked as he watched his undressed first
officer clinging to the bedding. "You're out of uniform," he said,
his lips twitching once in humour.

"Sir," Will managed to gasp before his knees buckled and Picard
ran to his side to steady him. Careful of the dermaplast across his

"I don't think you're supposed to be out of bed just yet
Commander," Picard chided while steering him back to his bio-bed.

Will shivered, feeling alternatively clammy and hot. He didn't
have the strength to comply, and dropped further to the floor without
answering. His dead weight was too much for Picard to bare alone,
landing them on the floor, but thankfully Alyssa entered with an
exclamation of dismay.

"Just what are you doing out of bed commander?" The young nurse
admonished, hands on hips in her best Dr. Crusher imitation.

"Decided to inspect the ship." He gasped, giving her his best
effort at a grin as he leaned back against Picard and held his

"Alyssa to Dr Crusher. We have an escapee." She said sternly.
Alyssa quickly draped a blanket around his shivering shoulders, but
refused to move him until Dr Crusher gave the all clear.

When the doors whooshed open, Picard's eyes met hers with
unspoken worry. "So what happened?" She asked the occupants of the

"Don't look at me Doctor." Picard said in his own defence. "I only
came to visit, and found him clinging to the other bed," Picard
replied, his concern rising when Will refused to meet anyone's eyes.

"And you tried to get him back?" Beverly asked mildly, catching
Picard's nod. "He then collapsed. Beverly, he's incredibly cold. Is
he going to be alright?"

Beverley finished running the scanner over him and packed it
away into her coat pocket. "He might be fine if he stops trying to
leap frog out of here and skip the healing stage. Can you help me get
him back into bed?" She asked, standing on one side of Will and
slowly helping him back to his unsteady feet.

Picard assisted from the other side as they placed him back onto the
bed and wrapped the freezing man up in the warmed bedding. Beverly
raised the ambient heat setting on his unit, and crossed her arms and
stood directly in line of his vision. "So Commander Riker. Care to
tell me what you were doing?" She was so mad that she was almost
tapping her foot. With the three executive officers standing with
arms crossed around his bed, Alyssa prudently made her excuses and
escaped from the firing range.

Will Riker swallowed hard and gave a sheepish smile before
closing his eyes to try and quell the nausea that was nipping at his

"Is this about Starfleet? About leaving without saying goodbye?"
Deana asked, aware of the surprise that her question gave the two
other officers.

Will turned his head towards the only corner that didn't hold
one of the three inquisitors. "Something like that," he lied. He
decided he would avoid, for the time being, revealing his part in the
new artistic display on the temporary morgues wall. But truthfully he
had thought of leaving it all behind. Resigning first before they
stripped him of rank.

"Don't tell me you were going to leave the Enterprise?" Beverly
asked, dumbfounded. "Of all the stupid things. You're not well enough
to even relieve yourself without help Will Riker. What were you

Picard squeezed her shoulder and halted her rant. "Will, I
realise you feel responsible for what happened, but running away
isn't going to help your conscience, nor is it going help anyone on
the ship who suffered at Darnoll's hands. If you truly feel that
leaving your friends, that over the years have become your family,
then you should be talking to a Counsellor." Before Will could
answer, Picard continued. "Let me put your mind at rest Commander."
Will unconsciously tried to straighten at the Captains use of his
rank. "What you are unaware of is that Starfleet has removed any
blame from your record for the takeover, and in fact, the Trill
council would like to apologise to you in person."

Surprised, Will finally faced Picard "I..." He took another
painful breath before looking each person in the eye. "What happened,
as you've all so generously pointed out to me, wasn't entirely my
fault. But some of it was." He held up a shaky hand before
Deanna could object.

"Allowing secrets and personal memories that were shared in
confidence to be used as weapons. The ugly words that came out of my
mouth" he fought to keep his voice steady. "The public humiliation
I caused for people I was responsible to protect. And for the violent
attacks on people I cared about aboard this ship. Those are things I
can't fix. If I had helped Darnoll he may of been able to handle my
mood swings better. So maybe fighting wasn't the right thing to do.
Maybe it might have saved Ensign Young," he said with
self-condemnation. "I'm sure that it will be hard for anyone to
trust me for a long time to come. But if you still want me with those
handicaps, I still want to serve at your side in any capacity sir.
I'd be honoured."

Picard clasped Will's shoulder. "Fine Commander. I'll hear no
more about it then. Your first duty is to get better. That means no
midnight walks, no refusal of Beverly's help and no frowning." A
small smile graced his face with the last order.

Will Riker managed to erase the frown on his face but was unable
to produce a smile. "Aye sir. But could I just..."

"No Commander. These are direct orders. Get well, and quickly."
With that Picard turned and left sickbay, leaving his defenceless
first officer with two women who were now going to tear him apart.

"Why do I suspect I'm going to wish he'd stayed put?" Will said,
sighing as Deanna sat down on the bed edge and pushed the stray lock
of hair from his eyes.

"Because your in trouble mister." Beverly said as she drew back the
blankets and gently felt the wound site for soreness, before slotting
in another cannula and issuing the hypo against his arm.

"No walking Will. Not for another day or two. You need the
bathroom, you call Alyssa or me for help. Understood?" She brandished
another hypo and he sank back further into the pillows, hoping to
edge further away from her. Deanna watched him carefully, while
holding his other hand affectionately, aware that he'd had another
agenda on his mind other than just going AWOL on them before.

"Yes doctor," he said meekly, looking to Deanna for sympathy, and
finding it in galaxy sized loads before the calm was broken.

"Doctor Crusher! Someone's broken into the temporary morgue and
destroyed the Trill's body. It's all over the wall and floor. There's
bits everywhere!" A young nurse said with distaste as she rushed
through the door.

Beverly turned on her heel and looked Will straight into the eye, her
expression becoming one of shocked realisation.

"Oh my God Will. That's what you were doing? Making sure that he
was dead?" Beverly shouted. "You risked your health, because you
didn't trust that I was telling the truth? I don't believe Of all the
stupid things," she ranted before taking in a deep breath to halt her
tirade, and turning back to the Nurse. "Carry on with your duties.
I'll be along shortly to see what the Commander's been up to."

"Why did you do it Will?" Deanna asked more calmly.

"I know it was stupid, but all of a sudden I had to make sure he
was gone. I know what you told me was the truth butŠ I had to see for
myself," he said, his expression bleak.

"We certainly would have taken you Will. All you had to do was
ask," Beverly Crusher said, her anger now at a more manageable level,
"instead of trying to kill yourself in the attempt."

By now Will was beginning to slur with exhaustion. "I know.
Please forgive me. I just had to do it. It won't happen again."

"I know it won't because there's most probably not enough left
of him for you to throw. Besides, his remains were about to be
transferred to the USS Lexington, for his return to Trill for burial.
Now how do you suppose the Captain's going to explain that Darnoll
found himself stuck to the ceiling?"

Will's expression remained unchanged. "Well he could say that we
hit a tight corner with a novice at the helm." He offered.

Unable to stay angry, Beverly shook her head. "Shut up and take
this hypo like a man. You're going to sleep for real this time," she
said, pushing the third and last hypo against his arm. His struggle
against the potent medication was futile and she watched him
ultimately lose the battle.


::::::: Ten C :::::::

"So how is the Commander?" Geordi asked as the senior
staff members stood to leave their meeting.

Beverly had to grin. "He's much better now that he's not playing
discus with Trill symbionts any more." She smiled and shrugged
lightly. "If he behaves and this afternoon's tests are clear, I'll
probably be releasing him later tomorrow to his quarters."

"Visitors permitted?" Worf asked, aware that Deanna was still
worried about him.

"Sure. But I'd ask Deanna first if I were you," Beverly
suggested. "He'll still be a little cranky from having nothing to do,
but I'm sure he'd enjoy the company."

Picard interjected. "By the way, the Trill Council was more
then a little annoyed with what Darnoll did with the aid of Will's
body as host, but thankfully, considering the circumstances they let
it drop. I doubt though, that they'll allow Commander Riker near
another unjoined Trill ever again." Picard said, not quite smiling.

"Sir. What became of Ambassador Fashar?" Data asked.

Picard frowned. "I'm not entirely sure Data. The Trill
authorities took full charge of him once the Lexington delivered him
into their hands. I'm not at all sure of how they would have ruled in
the case of two separate entities sharing one body, especially since
one was being held hostage," he mused. "It's really a moot point
since Will would have died had we not removed Darnoll when we did.
But it is an interesting question, but one I'm just as happy to leave


Both the days and nights seemed to pass slower than sublight to
Will Riker, and he'd been waiting for this day since he'd woken eight
days ago. Today he'd escape sickbay.

A familiar presence touched his soul before she entered the room.
"Good morning Imzadi." He said, lazily appreciating the sway of
Deanna's hips as she wandered over to his side.

"Mmm. It is a good morning my husband to be. Feel like coming
home?" She asked coyly, aware of the tenor of his thoughts.

"Let me put it to you this way. The thought of no more sickbay
food, no more constant surveillance, and no more poking me just
because they're curious about some blood level or other? Yeah I guess
I more than feel like coming home." He answered with a boyish grin.

Setting on the bed was a small pile of clothing. Holding up a
piece, Deanna realised it was a fresh set of sickbay scrubs and a
dressing gown. I see Beverly's as anxious to get rid of you as you
are to go," she said holding up the top for Will to pull over his
naked torso.

"Nope," he said, his voice muffled by the top. "Alyssa brought
them in a few minutes ago and told me I couldn't go without seeing
Beverly first. I guess dressing for the occasion can't hurt," he
said, finally pulling his head through the neck hole of the t-shirt.

"I guess not cowboy, especially seeing as I am letting you go home
today," Beverly said as she gave Will one last scan with her own
eyes. And supporting that with the hum of her tricorder as she
approached from the doorway of her office.

"Hey Doc," he said, trying his most charming grin to soften her
up. "So can I go now?" He asked, one hand steadying himself as Deanna
helped him pull on the trousers, moving finally to stand beside his
bed in readiness.

"Almost. Just a few reminders before you go. I want you in here
once a day for check-ups, nothing major, but just like we did with
Odan. Just to make sure there's no sign of your immune system
crashing in the near future. And....no strenuous activities. That
means sex Will."

The look on Will's face broke Deanna into laughter, knowing that he
thought he'd escaped the sickbay credo forever.

"I mean it Will. You're still at risk from the clotting problems
we had after your surgery. And try and stick to soup for a
while....be easy on your digestive system."

Will looked down at his slippered feet and gave a small sigh.
"That all doc? Or is there another three volumes out the back?"

Beverly shook her head in resignation and moved towards her
office. "If Deanna weren't there to watch you Will, you'd still be in
here under my watchful eye. So don't forget it!" At his horrified
expression Beverly threw a sly grin in his direction. "Just get out
of here Will. Your cluttering up my sickbay," she snapped in gest.

Will sighed and shook his head in mirth, this was one for the books,
Beverly Crusher throwing him out of sickbay. Finally getting his
attention by squeezing his forearm gently, Deanna wrapped him up in
his dressing gown and offered her arm to him.

"Let's get you home Imzadi." Smiling with relief, he took her
proffered arm and they slowly wandered out into the corridor, and
back to their home on deck eight.


:::::: Eleven A :::::::

The surrounding warmth of the blankets was wonderful,
but they were nothing compared to the warmth of Deanna's womanly body
as she lay half-draped across his chest. One hand was curled along
the side of his face, while her head rested gently over his heart.
Damn he was so lucky to still have her by his side. With Darnoll
inside him, he truly believed that he'd never receive her
unconditional love again.

Will Riker lay quietly, still half asleep from the effects of the
hypo Deanna had given him last night, the taste of narcotics sour in
his mouth as he thought about the last few days.

A steady healing of both the biological and relational aspects of
Will's life was taking place between he and Deanna, as well as the
rest of the crew that had been affected by Darnoll's vicious actions.
Geordi, Data and even Worf had come to visit him during his bedroom
confinement. More than a few apologies sprouted from his lips only to
be heard but not accepted from his friends, friends who didn't
believe he was aggressor but merely the victim like them.

Deanna had given Will the space he needed, and he seemed to be
working through the worst of his nightmares.

Sighing heavily, he turned his sleepy smile towards Deanna only
to find her onyx eyes watching him. "Been staring long?" he asked
with a gravelly voice.

"No. But I have been sensing that you're feeling a bit brighter this
morning. I think it's a good sign." She smiled and gently caressed
his cheek, unable to resist moving the hair out of his eyes. Not
satisfied with stopping there, her hands slid down to delicately play
with the dark hair on his chest.

"Must be the beautiful fairy of the Enterprise teasing me this
morning," he smiled.

Deanna giggled. "How about some breakfast oh mortal man?" she
asked, her eyes twinkling with mischief.

Will pulled her back down on top of him and growled in her ear.
"It sounds perfect" he said touching his lips to hers in an electric
moment. Passion surged through his kiss and soft moans of pure desire
filled the room. Will's encouragement, mixed with his lips' urgency
gave out all the right signals for her to make her move.

Leaning back, she pushed aside the covers revealing his boxer-clad
desire. Making her move, Deanna straddled him, that was until he
grunted and tried to cover up the gasp of pain that slipped from his
lips. The sharp tang of pain she felt made her jump almost off of the
bed. Watching with concern as he sat up, one hand propping him to a
half upright position, eyes tightly clamped shut, and one hand gently
clutching the still tender area. "Ow." Will gasped again as Deanna
worriedly hovered over him.

"Oh Will I'm so sorry," she said, shamefaced as he shook his head
with a grimace when he tried to shift positions.

"My fault. I knew better." He smiled to ease her distress and
gently rubbed his tender belly. "I Guess old spoil-sport Crusher was
right about excessive activity." He winked in jest.

Deanna kissed him quickly. "So breakfast still on?" She asked, as
Will pushed away her caring fingers for a second time.

"If you mean food, yeah, but only because I don't think I can
cope with you as breakfast just yet," he said, a sly smile creeping
past his resolution to bypass talk or even think about sex until
fully healed. The next moment, the soft form of a pillow connected
with his face, covering his wicked grin. Deanna pulled herself out
of bed, and tied the cord firmly around the waist of her silk gown.
"You don't play fair," he moaned, "don't I even get to look?" he said

She turned back and smiled. "Will Riker, get your mind out of
the gutter. If you don't get in that bathroom right now, I'll call
Beverly and have her reprimand you for disobeying a medical order.
And no doubt shipped back to sickbay."

Will gingerly dragged himself from the comfort of his bedding.
"Why the rush?" He asked grinding a fist into his eye while dragging
his dressing gown on and trying to rub the sleep away. "It's not
like I have anything else to do today but shower, shave and comb my
hair." he groused.

Deanna smiled at his little boy act shook her head. "Now Will, or
take your chances and fix your own breakfast via sickbay." she said,
pointing to the bathroom door.

"We could always share?" Will tried hopefully before ducking the
freshly replicated toast she threw. Shrugging at her refusal he
closed the door behind him and sighed. "I know. I know. No strenuous
activities," he said, turning on the shower, "You've proved your


Will sat down at the table, freshly scrubbed and frowned at his eggs.

"What? I didn't order them right?" She queried.

Will jumped nearly twice his height when she rested her hand on
his shoulder, a shiver traversing his body as he composed his
thoughts. "I'm sorry sweetheart. I just can't eat eggs this
morning." And with that, he pushed the plate away to avoid having the
inhuman eyes of the fried eggs staring back at him. A wave of
disgust overwhelmed him and he held his head in his hands and leaned
on the table.

Deanna sat with one hand on his shoulder, the other gently
rubbing his forearm.

"Why can't you Will?" She asked gently.

Will rubbed his eyes. "Because." he paused and raised his eyes
to hers. "Because Darnoll ate them like this," he said, the picture
of dismay. "Not the same variety of course, but enough the same that
it makes me want to puke when I look at them. " He dropped his head
and swallowed his nausea with difficulty, trying to stand, only to
find himself anchored by Deanna. "I'm sorry Deanna," he whispered, "I
know it doesn't make any sense. I know I'm just being foolish..."

"You're not being foolish Will," Deanna assured him, peering
into his troubled blue eyes. "What you shared during the forced
joining is bound to be confusing at first, but you have to remember
that we'll get over it...together." He raised his eyes to hers and
she smiled, trying to infuse him with her own hope. "So shall we try
the eggs or shall I get you something else?" she asked.

Pushing away his disquiet he forced himself to move forward. "I
guess I'm going to have to be brave sometime," he said with a not
quite brave smile. "Eggs or nothing," he said with a hesitant laugh.
Before she could stand he hugged her, burying his face in her stomach
as she rubbed his back. No words were needed.

Removing the plate she ordered up a replacement item, and brought
back his breakfast, this time with the eggs sandwiched in between two
pieces of toast. Eyeing him with eye's that seemed as if they
belonged in a smoke filled room, she peeled one of the strange fruits
she'd plucked from the fruit bowl and licked it suggestively, keeping
Will's mind off his earlier fright.

Will grinned despite himself and ate slowly at first, but soon
finishing his meal in record speed under the scrutiny of the
beautiful woman opposite, who seemed to be trying to make love to a
Melwa fruit rather than eat it. He leaned carefully back with a
satisfied groan and said without batting an eye. "So when am I
allowed back on duty?" he said while Deanna removed the plates.

"That depends which duty you're talking about Mr. Riker," Deanna
said and then licked the juice from her lips. "For bridge duty I
suppose you'll have to talk to Beverly, speaking of which," she said
with an evil grin as the door chimed.

"Come" Will said before gently seating himself on the couch.
Beverly entered as immaculate as ever. How she always looked so
bright in the morning had always been a mystery to Will. He suspected
she never slept. "You've missed a great breakfast," he said after
Beverly had greeted Deanna and stopped at his side.

"By your contented look I'd say it was. So how did you sleep
last night?" She said, still totally professional as she ran the
scanner over his now slouching body.

"Fine. The drugs knocked me out again and not a nightmare was to
be found." He smiled. The first few nights back in his quarters had
been sleepless nights of torment. Nights that had kept Deanna fearful
and wide awake as he'd suffered.

"Good. You're a bit inflamed here. Anything I should know about?"
she said, pointing to a few centimetres above his belly button. She
waited while Will and Deanna exchanged glances.

"My fault Beverly." Deanna said as she moved to sit beside Will,
arming herself with the cushion in front of her as if ready for
combat. "I slipped and fell on him while getting out of bed this

Beverly skewered them with a look, analysing their body language
for the tell tale lie. "Truly?" she asked.

"Well she was getting out of bed before and after it happened.
However, she did fall." Will gave a sheepish grin.

"Why do I bother ever giving you orders Will?" She gave a
frustrated sigh and pulled out a regenerator, pulling his dressing
gown aside and running it evenly across the affected area. "No more
playing. Understood?" Beverly waited for the synchronised nods.

"But I think you should know we didn't play. We just kissed," he
said, looking like a little boy.

Beverly didn't fall for it for a minute. "Will Riker. You are
still injured. You nearly died in sickbay. Give your hormones a rest
or we might be splattering you against the sickbay wall, alright?"

Considering himself chastised, Will didn't even try a grin, but
he did squeeze her hand affectionately after she'd moved his gown
back into place. "I'm very grateful for you being my doc, and even if
I do stray from your overly harsh orders, I do appreciate your
personal care," he said.

Beverly smiled and spoke only to Deanna. "Smooth talking Will."

"Why do you think I covet him. One handsome Earthen male, full of
himself, and smooth compliments that no one can resist," Deanna
kissed him on the cheek, erasing the injured look from his face.

"So before you bombard me with more hypos, how long?" Will asked
as Beverly started readying her vials for loading.

"How long as in duty?" she waited for him to nod. "Give it
another week and we'll have you back on the bridge marching in your
own shoes, but marching slowly," she said as she slapped a canister
into the hypo and applied the first one to Will's neck.

"You're looking healthier already," she said, observing that the
chalky pallor had left his skin. The dark rings around his eyes were
fading but still there. His body temperature still fluctuated
erratically at times but that would pass with time. Beverly finished
the last hypo and packed her kit up.

"Your doing well Will. Just relax and we'll get a little gentle
physio set up for tomorrow. Just remember..."

"No playing. I got it doc." He gently patted his stomach to show
her he'd gotten the point. Her professional duty done, she gave him
a kiss on the cheek before pulling Deanna aside for a more personal

Will strained his hearing but heard only the muted sounds of
their closed conversation. Beverly waved goodbye and left for sickbay
to re-check Will's new scans.

"So what did she say?" knowing he wouldn't get a straight answer.

"Just stuff. Stuff that big brave men like you don't need to
concern themselves with today," she said, and sat next to him,
putting her arms around his neck in a bear hug.

"Ok," he said, feeling somewhat dejected. "Today's review starts
when?" he asked, wanting to get his therapy over and done with.
They'd sit down daily and talk about the whole Darnoll affair. Some
sessions were fruitful, and others were not.

"How about now before the medication knocks you about?" She suggested.

Will rubbed his face, all of a sudden feeling exhausted. "Nah.
I think I'd much rather enjoy your company as my friend and lover
than a counsellor right now." He murmured into her hair as her head
snuggled against his shoulder.

He didn't have to ask her twice.

<I'm right here Imzadi> She sent.

<Thank you> he replied holding onto her arms around his neck.


:::::: Eleven B :::::::

Captains log stardate 2749: We are on route to a
small colony past the Epsilon Nine base. Medical and terra-forming
equipment are to be delivered, and thankfully this has been a more
relaxed mission, more so than the past few. Chief Engineer Mr.
Laforge has completed his new trials of the sensor array. His ideas
were quite innovative and I've sent a complete set of schematics and
diagrams to Starfleet Engineering on Utopia Planetia as per Admiral
Mirev's request. As for Commander Riker," the Captain sighed, "he is
still on medical leave, but I have been informed by my Chief Medical
Officer and Ship's Counsellor that he will soon return, but it will
take time before he returns to full duty. My sincere hope is that
this will be soon. I find myself missing not only his superb
efficiency, but also his presence as well. It is my opinion that the
Commander is getting the best of care and there is no need to worry.
End log.

Deanna grabbed the hot chocolate from the replicator and inhaled
the rich aroma of its decadent fragrance. Taking a careful sip she
turned around and observed the rumpled blanket that had an even more
rumpled head sticking out of it. Deanna moved protectively closer as
a quiet groan escaped his murmuring lips, each time as he exhaled.
Earlier he'd been snoring, but now a restless struggle seemed to be
waging battle behind his closed eyelids, even as Deanna tried to
soothe his emotions without success.

During the day they'd discussed deeper issues regarding his
imprisonment by Darnoll, during which he'd lashed out unexpectedly in
anger. He had scared even himself, and gone from angry to terrified
while Deanna had quietly cleaned up the remains of the broken coffee
glass and it's contents. When she eventually looked up at him he
finally lost his iron willed control for a few moments, and allowed a
small spattering of tears both angry and sad to fall. He was too
exhausted from fighting himself to continue, and so it ended with him
collapsing on the couch and hiding in slumber.

Deanna took another sip of her drink and placed it carefully out of
his reach on the coffee table, kneeling next to him when she noticed
perspiration beading on his face, and his head jerking with restless
agitation. She peeled back the blanket and took a hold of one of his
clenched fists, rubbing her fingers on them in circular patterns
until they unclenched.

"A dream?" He mumbled before he even opened his eyes.

"Yes Imzadi," Deanna whispered back, "just a dream. Do you
remember it?" She asked.

He shook his head and battled through the blankets to sit up. He
was hot and sticky. "No. I don't," he said, dredging up a slight
smile and hoping it was enough to discourage her from asking again.
He stood up and moved stiffly towards the bathroom, shutting the door
on her concerned gaze. When he was locked inside, only then did he
let the smile he'd held on his face slip away as he splashed cold
water against his face and neck. He struggled to keep firm the rigid
mental blocks he'd erected, now crumbling like his resolve. He knew
she would come running within seconds if he let them down and exposed
all he'd been hiding from her. But though he had struggled mightily,
he was failing and couldn't continue. Will couldn't hide the fear and
hatred that was consuming him. He'd hoped to return to duty to sweep
it away, to the past before control was lost, but now he knew it was
hopeless. As unaccustomed tears welled in his eyes, he looked at
himself through the watery blur, pulling aside the dressing gown to
watch his healing body, making sure it breathed to his own soul's

"Are you alright Will?" He heard Deanna's muffled voice through the door.
He waited four breaths before answering. "I'm fine. Just cleaning
myself up." He replied. In truth he was trying to clean his mind up
from all the carelessly strewn pieces of info Darnoll had ripped from
it. Secrets, technical information and daily protocol, as well as
some of his deepest secrets laying in tattered piles. Darnoll had
retrieved what he wanted, discarding the rest. All of the things
Darnoll had so ruthlessly plundered from his mind needed to be filed
away again, some buried, and he had thought he was making progress in
his own limited human way. He had even enlisted Deanna's mother
behind her back, but it was harder than he'd ever imagined.

Questions without answers, and answers without questions, all danced
madly through his mind until he became dizzy with its endless spiral.
His legs rebelled and suddenly had no more strength then a sponge,
their mutiny landing him on cold hard tiles and his head hitting the
wall with a loud thump.

No doubt his painful fall and thump triggering the bout of banging on
the door, and Deanna's worried call from the other side. He didn't
answer as he lay sprawled with his dressing gown wide open, shivering
from shock and cold. Ignoring the painful angle of his body, he
worked hard from the inside, hoping to finally to fix the last of
that bastards' handy work.

"He won't or can't answer. I tried calling but after I heard the
thump he wouldn't talk." Deanna said to Beverly, infusing more
strength in her voice than she actually had to give. While she'd been
trying to reach Will for the last ten minutes, his mind had been a
swirling mass of torment. She needed to be at his side, because he
needed her help, but for some reason he hadn't asked of her.

Beverly nodded and tried scanning through the door again while
Geordi worked the locking mechanism. "You know, we could transport in
there." He offered.

"Yes, but the three of us would be a very tight squeeze," Beverly
replied, reading the data and frowning at her patients schematics.
'"Not to mention that we may need to stretcher him out rather than
use the transporter with these signs right now."

With a small beep, the lock was overridden. "There we go ladies.
All done..." Geordi froze as the opening door revealed his commanding
officer crumpled against the wall with his dressing gown askew. His
blue eyes dazed and unfocused, Will Riker was staring into nothing,
his breathing heavy and dysrhythmic.

Pushing past, Beverly instantly grabbed his wrist, finding it
limp. "You said you felt mental blocks you didn't realise he'd had go
down right before he fell right?" She asked while covering him up and
grabbing a hypo and vial.

"Yes. One minute he seemed ok, and then he dropped the blocks
and his emotions were so raw that I was stunned senseless. When I
recovered, I realised that it wasn't anything like what I'd felt from
his nightmares."

Beverly slapped Will hard against his pale cheek but received no
reaction. "He may be going catatonic." She jabbed the hypo into the
crook of his arm and emptied it's contents.

"I want you to stay with me Riker and concentrate on my voice."
She waited and then slapped him again. "Damn it Will! Stay with me.
Deanna's here, and she's worried half to death about you!" She
slapped him again and he croaked before he held up his hand to stop
her next backhander.

"Stop," he mumbled, his eyes still unfocused as he struggled to
regain a scrap of reality. Another hiss to his arm brought his eyes
to her face as she looked down and felt the sluggish beat of his

"What..." He swallowed and thought again before asking. He ran
a shaking hand through his hair and tried to sit up. Beverly helped,
getting him more comfortable. "Deanna," He whispered thickly, and
his fiance soon replaced Beverly. He heard the doctor thank Geordi,
and the sound of the door closing indicated that he was now alone
with Deanna and Beverly.

"Tell me what happened Will. What was it that you were thinking
or doing before you collapsed?" Deanna asked.

"It's cold" He said trying to stand. Deanna gave him a hand up
and both women walked him back to bed. "Thanks," he said as Deanna
pulled the covers up over his chest and Beverly handed him a glass of
water. "There are scraps of memories everywhere in my head that I
can't control. The slug wasn't a very good housekeeper. SoŠI've been
t..t..trying to clean it all up, and don't be mad Deanna, but your
mother was helping me earlier with this." He closed troubled eyes to
block out the betrayal in her widened eyes. "Each time I remembered
what he'd done, I was dragged deeper into this blur of his memories
and mine." He looked up, begging Deanna with his eyes for
understanding. "I began to get confused as to who I was."

Deanna wanted to hold him and slap him. "I could of helped you," was
all she said.

Will's eyes brimmed. "You've already done more then you should
have ever had to do alone. And I know our bond would have made it
worse for you if you felt what that bastard had done before. I
couldn't hurt you any more."

Deanna shook her head. "Not letting me help carry your pain is
the only thing that hurts me now Will. Please don't hide things from
me again Imzadi, especially things that can hurt you," she requested,
running her fingers slowly through his unruly hair. Deanna stared
into his eyes until Will looked away.

"Now that your back with us I'll let the captain know that your ok,"
Doctor Crusher said softly, trying her best not to intrude on her
friend's silent conversation.

"Thank you Beverly." Deanna said before turning back in search of
Will's undirected blue orbs.

Beverly handed a loaded hypo to Deanna. "Give him this if he
starts to slide again, and call me." She gave a squeeze of
encouragement to Deanna's shoulder and exited the Commander's


:::::: Eleven C :::::::

Deanna had watched Will sleep for several more
hours, waiting for the right time upon waking before questioning him
further. Now though, he was both awake and fed and she felt it was
time. "Will. There's something we never have talked about." At his
questioning look she continued. "What it was like for you while
Darnoll was in control."

"We talked a lot about that," he argued.

"No we haven't. You've talked about things associated with his
actions while using your body, but we haven't talked about how it was
to be a helpless passenger, not being able to take action or stop

He turned away and reached for the water, taking a long drink.

"You've been avoiding it Imzadi," she said, waiting for an answer.

He glared at her before returning angry eyes to his hands. "It
was like being on the wrong side of a one way mirror. I could see out
but no one could see me banging on the other side. No matter what I
did, I found myself slipping further away from the mirror, while
Darnoll grew stronger in his control of my body and my mind. I was
powerless to stop just one thing he did, or make one muscle disobey
him. Even though I didn't want to, I experienced everything he felt.
His satisfaction, his anger, his lust for you. I heard him planning
his conquest of you and shared his fucking arousal," Will said with
anger strangling his throat.

"It wasn't you Imzadi. I know that. I hold nothing against you.
You believe that don't you?" She said quietly.

He nodded and looked up into her eyes. "If I could have stopped my
own heart and ended my life, I would have while Darnoll was trying to
rape you."

"I know." Smiled. "I could feel you Imzadi."

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be."

Will moved, trying to ease the spasms in his shoulders. He
swallowed again and looked back to his lap. "It was so strange,
almost like a dream until somehow I found out how to connect with my
body's pain. It was like being forced through a broken glass each
time Darnoll lost the connection. The pain was so much and my body
seemed like a loaner to me. So heavy and complicated at times that I
could hardly operate it. Sometimes I felt like I'd never be able to
touch you gently and feel the satiny smoothness of your skin again
Imzadi. That I'd never be able to satisfy you the way you
deserve the way we used to"

Deanna broke in. "But you did. And you can," she whispered, her
voice deepening. She took his troubled face in her hands and kissed
him with sweet passion. "All I have to do is look at you Will Riker,
and I'm ready for whatever you have to give."

Will shook his head after he caught his breath. "I guess
destroying Darnoll's body was the only way I felt safe. I had to
know that he couldn't push me back behind the mirror again. I know it
sounds silly, but at the time it made great sense." He shrugged

Deanna smiled. "I'm sure it did Will. Not that Beverly was very
happy about it."

He raised his eyebrows. "Well she did feed me that horrible
green gruel for days afterwards as some kind of atonement." Deanna
laughed and Will felt some of his depression lift.

"And if you don't come clean about everything that is nagging you
about Darnoll's takeover, I'll be getting the recipe from her,"
Deanna admonished.

"That's a scary thought," he said with a frightened look onto
his face. "With what you do to a good recipe, I'd hate to see what
you'd do with that mess." Deanna frowned until she couldn't hold her
serious pose no longer and laughed, pulling Will tightly into her

"Well my Imzadi. Talk to me some more and I might just forget
that you made such a derogatory remark about my cooking."

Will smiled, feeling a kilo lighter after finally releasing his
demons. The unconscious hatred towards his body was dissolving, and
his relief was mirrored in the face of his wife and counsellor as he
dozed off hours later in her arms. Her gentle fingers smoothing away
the frown and lines of stress and pain, luring him deeper into the
peaceful sleep that he'd been seeking for weeks.


:::::: Twelve A :::::::

"Come in Counsellor. Tea?" The Captain said when his fellow
senior staff member arrived for their meeting.

"Thank you Captain." Deanna glanced behind her to the antique
copy of the complete works of Shakespear. The cover was damaged and
several of the pages had been torn. Darnoll had ruined the artefact
in pure spite, leaving the Captain's treasured book broken. In some
ways she found herself thinking that Will was her broken book, but at
least he was slowly healing. Picard's pride and joy would forever be
marred by Darnoll's thoughtless actions.

"Don't worry too much about it Counsellor," His kind voice
soothing her, as he offered her a cup of earl grey and a warm smile
with it. "It's only a book."

Deanna returned his smile at his kind words and sat. "What
Darnoll did was pure spite," she said with a sigh, knowing Will would
take responsibility. "That makes it harder to accept then if it were
an accident."

Picard smiled, "You mean it makes it harder for Will to accept,"
he said quietly. "He's already apologised twice, and I'm beginning
to think I should remove it so it's not a focus for his sorrow rather
than a celebration of its ancient splendour." He sat in his own seat
and relaxed with the petite bone china teacup.

"So counsellor." drawing the conversation to matters of work. "Are
you here to report that my first officer is ready to return to duty?"

"Sir, he believes he is," she said, sipping her tea. "In fact he
wanted to make sure you knew he'd finished his last physio set this
morning. He seemed adamant that I passed it onto you. And the moment
Beverly relieved him of light physical duties he tore off to holodeck
two for a workout. Said his muscles were in need of attention."

"I'm sure he thought so." He chuckled. "No doubt Beverly will be
watching the programs he uses, just to ensure her work doesn't become
unravelled." The crooked smile on Picard's face gave his mirth away.

"That I am sure of" Deanna smiled.

"So. What do you think Counsellor? Is he ready? Or does he require
more time on the psychological side?" He prompted before placing his
teacup gently on the table and steepling his fingers.

"Well, Doctor Crusher has declared him physically fit, but for
light duty only." Her face gave her reservations away. "I know
he'll never be totally rid of what Darnoll did to him inside, but I'm
also confident that he's mentally ready for light duty. Though
Captain, I would like to observe him under more stressful
circumstances, that is before I release him to full duties."

Picard nodded. "Agreed." When Troi didn't respond he spoke
again. "Counsellor are you alright?" he said. Watching as she
blinked back into the room.

She nodded. "Yes sir, I'm fine. I'm just very protective of Will
still, and very sensitive to his raw emotions for the moment."
Deliberately leaving out the hot blasts of feelings, raw with primal
fury, that she could empathically sense. Unsure of what was provoking
the intense rawness of his feelings, she decided not to reveal it to
the Captain just yet. "I think he must have activated Worf's exercise
program, something I don't approve of even when he's in top shape."
Picard smiled with understanding. "But as for my recommendation Sir.
I believe he's ready." She swallowed hard; praying that with what she
was feeling right now wasn't a complete lie to her Captain. She
handed her padd over to the captain for him to authorise active duty
with his thumbprint.

"Computer. Activate command protocols for Executive Officer Commander
William Thomas Riker. Access to light duty only."

"Activation of Command Structure now authorised. USS Enterprise
NCC-1701-E protocol 774.0, First Officer of USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E
/ Commander Riker, William T., serial number SC 231-427 now

Picard smiled at the distracted counsellor. "You're dismissed
Deanna. Go check on Will and let him know that he's due for his first
shift of bridge duty tomorrow."

"Thank you sir," she smiled and quickly made her way to the
bridge, unaware of the crew as she made her way to the turbolift.

"Deck six." She ordered as she tried to untangle the feelings she was
picking up from Will. She hardly noticed the smiles of the crewmen
she passed. Her whole being was focused on the rage and despair
emanating from holodeck two.

"Imzadi?" She tried to send, her hand hovering over the door
controls. She wanted to give him a moment to gather himself. Perhaps
it was just a rather violent adventure of Worf's. She sent again,
and used the comm as well this time. No answer.

Finally she overrode the controls, covering her ears as the doors
opened to a scream of desperation that pierced her heart. Taking
another step closer, she moved further onto the bridge of the
Enterprise. The clang of the closing door behind her the only sound
apart from Will's heavy pants of exhaustion. Standing very still, she
saw Will leaning over a body, his shoulders slumped. Blood had
sprayed the nav and con stations, and from what she could see from
behind, it had also covered his work out clothes. He continued his
frozen stance, the Klingon blade held in a white knuckled grip. She
stayed silent but slowly made her way down to the central ring of the
bridge, battered as his conflicted emotions swept over her like a
brutal tidal wave.

Unable to move away, he finally dropped to his knees beside the body,
aghast at what he had done, but somehow also filled with a sense of
satisfaction. The blade dropped with a loud clatter from shaking
hands and he knelt panting in front of his leather-clad victim, sweat
running down his face and off of his nose to the floor.

Finally able to speak again, Deanna moved closer again. "Will?"

He jerked upright. She'd seen this. All of this. Fear stabbing him,
and her as well, halted Will from facing her.

"Please go." He muttered.

"No." She said gently.

Will dropped his head into his bloodied hands as his shoulders
sagged. His broad back still thankfully blocked the identity of the
man he'd killed. Moments passed, and he began to realise deep inside
of his spirit, that he needed her to see this, to help him over it.
All their talks and meetings had saved him so far, but this was his
final release, a must do that had been calling him for far too long.

Her gasp made him uncover his eyes and face her, following her
horrified stare towards the dead man sprawled in front of him. He
refused to meet her eyes, watching Deanna's feet instead as she moved
to the top of the lifeless body. He too looked into the face of the
dark bearded man before him, staring into the lifeless blue eyes of
himself. His hated doppelganger had been gutted by his own blade, and
the Trill symbiont now hung lifeless from the cavity of the dead man.

Deanna swallowed the tears that threatened to fall and watched
with compassion as the downcast eyes of her soul mate refused to meet
her own. His embarrassment and guilt flooded her to the point of

"Oh Will. How long?" She whispered into the stillness of the battle scene.

He sank onto the floor heavily and dragged his legs in front of
him. Leaning down between his long legs, his shoulders and hands
between them. "You mean the holodeck? Only today." He whispered.

"How long Will?" she asked him again, realising that she'd felt
the same confusing mix of emotions from him mostly for the last few

"Every night."


:::::: Twelve B :::::::

She waited; knowing there was more. "I fight him every night in my
dreams. But I couldn't win as mind against body. I needed to fight
body against body. And so I thought that the holodeck might give me a
better chance to beat the bastard," He said simply.

She moved to his side. "Computer. Replay program from the
beginning. But without Commander Riker's interplay."

The computer complied and the bloodied figure of Darnoll Riker
disappeared, only to appear further away from them, leaving the dead
bodies of Picard and his crew strewn around the bridge. Darnoll was
laughing hard in the middle of the massacre. It replayed each
gruesome killing Darnoll had made until none stood alive. Darnoll
then acted as if Will was fighting him as before, and as they fought,
for each strike the simulated Will had made, the bodies disappeared
until Darnoll was defeated.

Deanna turned back to watch her Imzadi, while he steadfastly
stared at the blood soaked carpet. A modern day tapestry that told
the end of the battle in blood. "Why Will?" She asked, placing her
arm around his trembling shoulders.

"Can't sleep till the bastard's dead." He wheezed.

"It's you you're killing Imzadi," she guessed. "Not just
Darnoll but your whole self. But you have nothing to do with this
scene Will."

"Yes I do!" he snarled with self-loathing. "I am responsible for
everything I didŠfor everything to do with this!" he stood up and
angrily brushed her arm away. "I can't get him out of my head at
night. When I try to sleep, his plans invade my head. This was just
one of his fantasies. What if it becomes real again? What if I lose
my sanity and perform these deeds? A lasting legacy of Darnoll's

Deanna blinked hard to keep her tears at bay. She realised then
that Will wasn't making this up, but this was what Darnoll had
planned, and if things had turned for the worse it would have been
reality. "You couldn't do this Will. This was only a possible ending
if Darnoll had stayed alive. He's dead now. You yourself made sure of
that. You're not capable of this Will." She assured the haunted man
before her.

"I just feel better if I destroy him each time he appears.
Another chance to rid him from my mind, making it safer for all.
That's all there is to it." He paused and waited for the backlash,
but none came.

As the silence spread into every crevice of his being, he calmed and
absorbed her presence. Will finally turned back to her and faced her
straight eye to eye. "This was the last one Deanna. No more plans. No
more killing. I beat him in here and here." The last here was
directed towards his head with an angrily pointed finger.

Deanna changed tacks. "The captain has placed you back on light
duty Will. Should I cancel my recommendation?" She asked.

His eyes widened to deep pools of blue. "Deanna no. PleaseŠ, IŠI
need to return to duty. I've spent too much time cowering in fear
from the places he frequented," he said shamefaced. "Please Imzadi.
Don'tŠ" He stopped suddenly, realising that pleading wasn't the
brightest thing to do right now. He could see the report now.
"First officer begged repeatedly to be allowed to go back to the
scene of his crimes." Not bright.

"What am I going to do with you Will?" She asked, commanding the
computer to erase its current program. She then ordered a pastoral
scene, with a large mountain meadow with deep green grasses and tall
pine trees. The blue sky was brilliant, and a soft breeze caressed
them with its warm breath. She ignored Will's questioning look.

With the stench of blood cleansed from her nostrils, the only visible
reminder was that of Will's torn and bloody clothing. Taking him by
the hand, she led him down to the hidden hot springs amongst a small
close of trees and watched, satisfied as the tension began to leave
Will's ramrod straight spine.

"Take off your clothes Imzadi," she said seriously. Will watched
her, his eyes widening slightly. "I want you to take off your clothes
and wash the blood off." Deanna waited, as her fiance stood, silent
and still. "Do you need help then?" she asked seriously, unfastening
his tattered shirt, running her hands down his smooth muscled arms as
she pushed it off. Breaking from his moment of hesitation, he
finally began to help take off the bloodstained clothing, and Deanna
began to disrobe as well.

"Is this a new therapy?" he asked, his expression serious.

"No Will," she answered with equal seriousness. She wanted
him free of the devastation he'd caused on the holodeck, producing a
more therapeutic program to counteract its ferocious memories. "This
is your Imzadi taking matters into her own hands. I think you've
demonstrated today that you're not going to damage yourself by
strenuous exerciseŠ and so I've decided to clear you for ALL
dutiesŠincluding your duty to keep me satisfied. Got it?" she said,
humour finally sparking within her eyes.

Will's smile was tentative at first. "You mean ALL duties
right," he said, a smile tugging at this serious expression.

Deanna pushed him backward towards the steaming water. "Yes
Will. What part of ALL don't you understand," she purred, and then
screamed as he caught her hand and pulled her backward into the
heated waters of the deep spring. When she emerged, sputtering and
spitting, it was to an empty view.

Not concerned yet, she cast her gaze over the surface of the
turbulent waters, expecting Will to pop through at any moment. When
several minutes had gone by, a twinge of concern nudged her mind.
Maybe he'd injured something internally during the fierce fighting,
and now he was lying at the bottom of the pool dying.

Just as she was ready to dive under and search for him, Will broke
the surface of the water with a splash, looking like King Neptune
emerging from the deep. With his hair plastered to his skin and small
droplets of water accentuating his deep muscular chest and arms, she
couldn't help but enjoy the view. That was until he shook his head,
shaking the water from his hair like a dog after a swim, breaking the
spell completely with his infectious grin.

"That's much better Commander. You now look good enough to fulfil
all your duties. But are you up to it?" she asked innocently.
Wills' reply was non-verbal, his kiss warm and wet, and the response
of his body as he pulled her against him, more than proof enough to
her of just how ready he was. And a good sign of how far she'd drawn
him from his troubled thoughts.

Deanna's pulse pounded, matching Will's beat for beat. He leaned
against the sandy edge of the spring and moved slowly against her,
teasing her with tender kisses that covered her from her mouth to her
waist. Deanna had waited too long to have all of Will, and she pushed
him quickly past his gentle preliminaries and wrapped her legs around
his waist, the water keeping her buoyant as she took from him
everything that she wanted, and gave to him everything she had. Her
eyes remained open as she made love to him, letting her own cries of
need and want blend with his as they gave to each other, and took
what they needed as well.

Will's eyes closed and his mouth opened as his pelvic movements
changed from languorously slow to driving thrusts that were filled
with a powerful urgency. Deanna joyously rode the tide of his
passion; her own escalating rapidly as her body overrode her mind and
took over.

Tangled together, they coupled fiercely with an unconscious unity as
their bodies and souls raced towards completion. <Imzadi> they both
cried as the explosion of their senses overcame them, making the
minutes of ecstasy seem like hours. Gasping for air, Deanna clung to
Will, his body still shuddering under hers.

Snuggling under his head she kissed his neck, loving the feel of his
muscular body as it still trembled under hers. "You passed with
flying colours Imzadi," she said tenderly. "But I don't think I can
uses these test results with the Captain or Beverly," she teased, her
smile evident in her voice.

Will replied, his voice hoarse. "You mean you're not entering this on
the official record," he said, still short of breath.

Deanna snuggled closer. "No. I think we'll just keep this
between you and I commander. I wouldn't want to be accused of
favouritism in my testing methods, now would I?"

When they had sufficiently recovered, they moved to the blanket
on the grass to lie under the gentle sun. "Imzadi," Deanna said,
playing with his damp hair as his head, as it rested on her lap. She
looked into the crystalline depths of his glacial blue eyes, as Will
pulled her down for a kiss, one she was happy to give. "I have to
tell the Captain about your holodeck activities with Darnoll Will.
But I won't change my recommendation that you return to light duty."
His smile was brilliant, and thanks glistened in his eyes. When he
shivered in the breeze, Deanna wrapped her arms around him and
ordered the computer to warm their environment as she pulled the
edges of the blanket over their cooling bodies. "But you do have to
promise me one thing Commander Riker," she said. He gave her a half
smile, his lips incredibly inviting.

"No more holodecks?" He answered before she could continue.

"No more holodecks" She repeated firmly in agreement. "Talk to me
first Will. I'm not just your Imzadi who loves you. I'm a qualified
counsellor who's been inside your head more times than I can count.
I know how to help you."
He grinned boyishly, mischief filling his blue eyes.

"I feel a bit like Reg Barclay."

Deanna snorted. "Well he is a prime example of holodeck therapy
gone wrong Will, but I wouldn't go so far as to say your on the same
level. Just promise to talk to me first Will. No more solo
expeditions into that crazy cranium of yours ok?" She said, waiting
for his nod before she finished the conversation with a deep kiss.

"I had to do it to get him out of my head Deanna. I'm sorry I
couldn't share it with you. I figured you'd had enough of my bad
side," he apologised.

"I've had enough of the evil nature that Darnoll forced on you,
but the bad...I definitely still want that." She moved to lie against
him and deepened her kiss until he brought her firmly under him as
they lay panting again among the lush grass.

"I always said in a relationship that you had to take the good
with the bad," he said, moving his kisses down her eager body. He
grinned against her belly. "Just remember you asked for it," he
admonished as he tickled her sensitive feet. A loud screech escaped
Deanna and she vainly tried to push Will away as he moved up her
convulsing body. "I love you Imzadi." he breathed when the giggles
had died and they lay gasping in each other's arms.

His eyes closed while his head lay against her beating heart.
As his breathing deepened, Deanna moved the drying hair from his face
so she could watch him doze. <Sleep peacefully Imzadi, you've earned
it> she sent, exhaling with a deep sigh of satisfaction.


:::::: Twelve C :::::::

Will smoothed his uniform jacket down, searching for rebellious
wrinkles for the tenth time while he nervously waited for the lift to
bring him to his destination. Searching for another phantom wrinkle,
Deanna's hand pulled his into her own grasp.

"I think that's enough Imzadi. You'd better stop before you wear
your uniform out," she said, smiling sweetly at his nervous antics.

"I feel so nervous. It's not like I've never walked off a
turbolift onto the bridge before," he grumbled.

"No but it is your first time in uniform since Darnoll. I know
you think everyone's going to stop and stare, but they're not. You're
their First Officer Will. The Captain has cleared you, and you have
nothing to worry about."

"Nothing except for wrinkles," he sighed and then laughed. Deanna
knew that Will's laughter was a tonic to many on the ship. If he
would only take a bit of his own medicine.

"Main bridge," the computer announced as the doors slid open.
Deanna saw the helmsmen glance at Will and sensed her appreciation
for his appearance. Will's nightmare with Darnoll had trimmed him
down, the one thing he was appreciative of. But he was unaware of how
handsome and imposing a figure he was as he marched to take his seat
beside Picard's command chair.

Deanna had let go of Will's hand in the turbolift. With his sense of
loss felt by her, it brought a smile to her lips thinking she almost
felt like she were taking her son to school for the first day.

"Welcome back Number One," Picard said, immediately handing Will
a padd. "Have a look at these readings and see what you make of
them," he said, drawing him into a discussion over their latest find.

"What does Data think?" Riker asked the Captain, grateful, but
knowing full well he'd been conned straight into work by the Captain.
His superior knowing full well how an idle shift allowed too much
time to think of things that shouldn't be. He glanced at Deanna to
see that she was smiling. He hid his own smile and focused on his
work. He was back. He was finally back, and his Starfleet family was

"Commander Data said it appears to be a high energy flux. But
neither he nor Geordi can decipher its origins. The last scan was
taken in the Borrilus sector."

Will scratched his beard. "Not much in that area sir. A few
stray planets with no close sun's. Nothing much at all," Riker

"Another mystery Number One. Shall we see what's out there?"

Will smiled. "Sure. I'm curious."

"Curious explorers we shall be then," Picard said with a
comfortable smile. "Ensign Topez set in a course for the Borrilus
sector, warp five."

"Aye sir." the new young ensign replied. "Course set in sir."

Picard nodded at Will and gestured for Will to give the order.

Will grinned, and announced in his baritone voice. "Engage!"


Down come the dark red velvet curtains, and on come the theatre lights.

Well it's been a wonderful ride for all I hope. But before I sign off
and end this epic, I'd like to thank Di for all the highs and lows of
writing and editing this beast with me. Without her help, devious
ideas and medical knowledge I wouldn't of gotten so far. Thanks
girlfriend, you're the best :-D

The End