Imperfect World 1/?
R/T, plus a bit of storyline for Alternate Universe
Riker, Troi, and Bev Crusher.
Disclaimer: Star Trek and its characters are owned by
Suspend all disbelief as my version of the Mirror
Universe might be slightly (and/or wildly) different
The shuttle neared its destination, a cloud of stars
at the far edges of space. Within the glittering
brightness of the planets, a fissure sliced the
blackness, a small tear
in the fabric of Will’s world. It came closer,
filling his view screen, and his stomach knotted. His
heart began to pound, and he counseled himself to stay
calm. Others had done this before, after all, and
came back just fine. Yeah, and others have gone into
it and never come back. That would be just my luck.
Shaking off the fear, he forced himself to focus on
his own curiosity, and what lie behind the growing
dark black opening. The shuttle drew closer, and his
instrument panel went crazy with readings that made no
sense. The small klaxon sounded, filling his ears
with a maddening whoop. Lights flickered along the
panel, and the shuttle dipped and twisted as though
out of control. He tried to play with the
instruments, getting himself back on course, but it
was no use. Something or someone was controlling the
craft, and he could do nothing but sit back and watch.
Gradually, the stars disappeared, and the view screen
filled with velvet-dark black. Inch by inch the ship
was being pulled into the hole, and Will felt the
desperate urge to pull back and get the hell out of
there before it was too late. Gripping the controls,
he tried to lay in a course to back out, but the
shuttle would not respond. Instead, it slid slowly
and effortlessly into the opening, then winked out of
sight, disappearing into another universe.
Hours later, he woke. Dazed from the trip, his eyes
stinging, Will forced himself upright in his seat and
stared through the view screen. He’d made it. The
unfamiliar stars, the colorful atmosphere, and the
large, hanging black space station told him that.
There it was. A large monstrosity that resembled DS9,
if DS9 had been built by drunken Ferengi. Odd shapes
dipped and twisted from the main section, looking like
awkward onyx butterflies. The bottom spun like a
jewel hanging from a string, while the top’s
five-pointed design resembled a prickly star. Will
shuddered as he drew closer. The place just looked
evil. And he had the feeling the crew weren’t going
to be very friendly either.
He recalled Captain Picard telling him about Captain
Sisko’s past experiences with the people of the Mirror
Universe. People who looked exactly like him and his
co-workers. Same names, same identities, same DNA
even. But with a difference. Those people, those
versions of the DS9 crew were nothing like Starfleet.
Greed, evil, and violence were the ruling factors of
their universe, and Will shuddered again, imagining
how it would feel to run into his own counterpart.
Having Tom around was bad enough, but having a new
Will Riker who didn’t give a damn about him or his way
of doing things-it was almost too much to contemplate.
As he drew closer, he could just make out the docking
bay. Wouldn’t they be surprised when he pulled in?
But that was all part of the plan. Take them off
guard, fool them with his cover story, then get the
hell out of there, preferably alive. Glancing up at
the small, mirrored visor, he ran a hand through his
hair and tried to look cocky. It wasn’t hard, the old
Riker grin crossed his face and he prepared himself to
make this go as smoothly as possible. He didn’t like
being here. Hell, he was afraid to even be here, if
the truth be known. But none of that mattered. All
that mattered was getting in, getting what he’d come
for, and getting back to the Enterprise. And it
could go that way if he could stay calm and confident.
“Relax, Riker. What’s there to worry about? So some
guy in there looks like you. So there’s a Picard that
probably spends his days torturing prisoners from
other planets? So there’s a…” He stopped, cut off by
a thought that had not, until this moment, occurred to
him. There would probably be a twin of Deanna as
At the docking bay, he slid the shuttle inside and
patted himself down, searching for the dummied-up
papers that would get him through the doors. Sliding
them out, he looked down at his black armored uniform
and shook his head. This was madness. He looked like
a Cardassian for God’s sake. But, what Starfleet
Command wants, Starfleet Command gets.
A voice startled him out of his thoughts, and he
turned to see who had spoken. A tall, dark figure
moved towards him, face twisted in anger. It was
Worf, or at least, their version of Worf. Great.
Moving towards him, Will feigned a relaxed grin. “Hey
there. What’s been going on in my absence? Have I
The Klingon’s eyebrows rose to his hairline. “I do
not understand. I was told that you were aboard the
station, taking care of the prisoners.”
“Well, you know how it goes. When the boss lady
cracks her whip, I do her bidding. She sent me to
Belan III for supplies.” Hefting up a large black
bag, Will opened it, spilling a pile of dilithium
crystals to the floor.
“I was misinformed. Please, carry on, First Commander
“Will do.” Filling the bag once more, Will walked
casually to the doors and called out his own name,
hoping the computer wasn’t waiting to hear a serious
of numbers as well. To his relief, they swished open,
allowing him access to the station. Now was the
tricky part. He’d managed to fool Worf, but the real
Riker was somewhere aboard the station. It wouldn’t
do to have the new Intendant discover that she now had
two Rikers to contend with.
Moving slowly, he scoped out the corridors, inwardly
noting the resemblance to DS9. The gray halls, the
rough flooring, metal beams over head. Strictly
utilitarian in design, it was also truly hideous. But
then, with these people, he wasn’t surprised. He
didn’t expect flowering arboretums or beautiful wall
coverings. He did expect to see more people moving
about, however. It was odd. Midday and the corridors
Around the corner he found what looked like a bar, and
moved to sit at one of the stools. This place
probably served the same purpose as most other bars-an
information-gathering place. Will looked around for
someone to talk to, hoping to glean the location of
the information he was seeking. Ten long minutes
later, a figure appeared from the stockroom doors.
Expecting a Ferengi, he was surprised to see that the
bartender was of another race entirely. In fact, she
was an exact duplicate of Guinan; right down to the
bobbing headdress. Instead of flowing robes, she wore
black metal armor. Instead of a smile, she wore a
glaring mask of anger. He shivered slightly,
wondering if she also had Guinan’s powers.
“What do you want?”
He thought quickly and fired back, “Same thing I
always want, Guinan.”
She nodded, pulling a heavy black bottle of ale from
beneath the counter. Popping it open, she handed it
to him. Without benefit of a glass, he put the bottle
to his lips, mentally crossing his fingers that it
wasn’t poisonous. He swallowed half the bottle, wiped
his face with the back of his wrist, and then plunked
it back down.
“So, what’s been going on in this dump while I was
“You haven’t missed much. The Intendant had two
prisoners killed this afternoon, one for
insubordination. Tonight, there will be another
execution after evening meal. Think you’ll want to
The light in her eyes turned his stomach. She liked
the idea of killing. Of watching a fellow being
suffer. He could see it in her eyes.
Choking down a thick, brown swallow of ale, he feigned
a grin. “Damn right I want to watch. Who’s getting
grilled this time? I bet it’s one of those bandits
from Delis Prime.
“Actually, it’s someone you’re a bit more familiar
with. Let’s say, someone that you couldn’t live
without.” She was testing him, baiting him. And it
was damned hard not to react. He forced himself to
look bored, finished off the drink, and slammed the
mug against the counter.
“I don’t have time to play games today, Guinan. I’ve
got a meeting with the Intendant in thirty minutes.
Now, what’s the big secret?”
The grin that crossed her face would’ve been lovely,
had it not clashed with the danger in her eyes.
Placing her elbow on the bar, she cupped her chin and
stared into Will’s eyes. “I’ll give you three
guesses, First Commander.”
“I couldn’t be lucky enough to have it be you, could
She laughed. “Not hardly. They like to keep me around
here as a source of information. I hear everything,
and yet tell nothing…unless it’s to the Intendant
herself. No, she values my presence too much to do
away with me. Try again.”
Will felt his stomach churn with anger, and tension.
He needed to get the hell out of here and get things
moving, but he stayed planted on his stool for one
reason and one reason only. She was right-this was
probably the best place on the whole station to gather
information. If he played it right, he might just
walk away with what he was looking for.
Unfortunately, he’d have to wade through her
double-talk and innuendo in order to get to it.
“Alright, I give up. Just who is getting the big send
off this evening?”
“Why First Commander Riker…I believe are as innocent
as you are pretending to be. Tonight, you see, will
be your last night aboard the station. You will be
the one wearing the black hood. Your body will hang
from its spinning wheel and bear the lashes of a dozen
whips. And then, your body will fall bloodied and
bruised to the floor for the final punishment.”
Will’s face paled and his palms grew wet against the
fabric of his slacks. He swallowed, and then forced
the words from his lips. “And then?”
“Then, my handsome friend, you will be beheaded.”
“You sound surprised. I would think that after
presiding over the execution chamber for the past nine
years, you’d be used to it by now.”
He was unable to move, pinned to the stool by her
words. He felt sick to his stomach, imagining in
detail the brutal death she’d described. And
yet…there was still one thing on his side. He was not
First Commander Riker, consort to the Intendant.
Their Riker was somewhere aboard the station. Did he
know what was planned for him? What had he done to
offend the Intendant? Will didn’t know, but suddenly
more than anything he wanted to get the hell out of
the bar. The information could be gotten from other
sources-this bartender wasn’t going to tell him
anything. At least, not if she were able to discover
his true identity.
As if reading his thoughts, she started to turn away.
Then she stared at him over her shoulder; dark eyes
beaming into his brain. He tried to fill his mind
with thoughts that would match with the Riker of this
world, all the while wondering how he was going to
pull it off. But the bartender merely tossed him a
grin, and then walked away, saying nothing further.
Whatever qualms she may have had about his identity,
he’d glossed them over with his appearance and a chain
of random, violent thoughts. It worked.
Unfortunately, he’d gotten more information than he’d
ever wanted. Tonight they were going to kill his
counterpart, and if he wasn’t careful, it might just
be his carcass lying on the prison floor. He needed
to get to the Intendant. To cover his ass, he’d have
to kiss hers, and discover what the hell had happened
to send the other Riker a death sentence. The
question was, could he get into the Intendant’s
quarters without rousing suspicion?
Will ambled down the corridor, swaying slightly from
the liquor, and saw a red-haired woman emerge from the
room to the right. It was Beverly. He had to stifle
the impulse to say hello, not knowing what context
their relationship had aboard this station. She moved
towards him, red hair tied in a bun upon her head,
tight dark uniform covering her dancer’s body. She
smiled, and the dark red lipstick she wore made her
pale skin seem the shade of milk. “Riker. How good
to see you. You know it’s been three days since our
His mind raced. Meeting? What sort of meeting had
they had? A business meeting, a lover’s tryst? As
she moved closer, he realized that it must’ve been the
Pressing her body against his, she murmured, “Come to
my quarters in an hour. I need to be alone with you.”
Shocked, he pulled himself together quickly and
frantically tried to think of a response. Finally, he
murmured, “I think the Intendant knows about us, Bev.
I don’t know what the hell she’s planning to do, but
you know how she is. I think we’d better cool it off
for a few days.”
Bev nodded, nuzzling Will’s neck. “Mmm. I suppose
you’re right. It wouldn’t do to have her on our
backs. Still…I want to see you. Soon. Come to me
when you can. You know the access code.”
“How could I forget?” He kissed her softly, playing
along with the ruse, and realized that it was the
first time in his life that he’d ever kissed Beverly
Crusher. It was oddly stimulating. She winked at
him and ran a hand through his hair, then sashayed
down the corridor, leaving him breathless.
“Jesus,” he murmured, wiping his mouth with his hand.
So his counterpart and Beverly were lovers. Where did
that leave the Intendant? Surely, he belonged to her
as well. If the stories he’d heard were true, she
liked to have the men aboard her station eating out of
her hands. Briefly, he tried to imagine what she
would look like, but his imagination came to a halt.
He would just have to discover that for himself, he
Up the hallway he noted a turbo lift and climbed
Great-he didn’t know the deck number. “Take me to
the Intendant’s quarters,” he said, hoping the
computer would be smart enough to figure it out.
The turbo lift doors slid open, revealing a long hall
decorated with mirrors and Klingon batleths. Every
few feet stood a high pedestal bearing stiff metal
flower arrangements, and the floor beneath his feet
was a blend of metallic tile and black rubber tubing.
His boots hit loudly, sending his footfalls ringing
throughout the corridor and he winced, not wanting to
announce his presence just yet. Arched doorways
filled the hall, and he wondered which belonged to
her. At the far end of the corridor, one large
doorway dominated the space, and the dark oval was
decorated with a ring of jet colored flowers. “This
must be the place,” he murmured.
Touching the door chime, he breathed deeply and
planned what he would say when she appeared. Somehow,
he had to get in, get her to believe that he was her
Riker, and convince her to rescind the death sentence.
Once that was taken care of, he’d steal what
information he could, then try to make it back to the
Hawking. It wasn’t going to be easy. As he turned
over the plan in his mind, the door slid open,
revealing a figure so familiar that he felt his heart
begin to throb against his breastbone. It was Deanna.
Except this Deanna was dressed far differently than
his Imzadi. She wore black thigh-high boots with
three-inch heels and a tight dark uniform that clung
to her ripe figure. Her hair was caught at the top of
her head in a glittering headband, then fell to her
waist in a smooth river of curls. A glimmer filled
her eyes at the sight of him, a wicked, penetrating
look that told him instantly that she and her Riker
were lovers. Swallowing, he remembered that she was
Betazoid and quickly blocked his emotions.
“Riker. What a pleasant surprise. How long has it
been since you’ve graced my quarters? Two weeks?
Well, I suggest you come in and catch me up on what
you’ve been doing. Or who.” A flicker of anger
filled her eyes and he realized that she knew about
Riker and Beverly. Great. How the hell was he going
to handle this little scenario?
“Sit down. Not on the bed, over there in the corner
chair. I have something for you.” The anger rolled
off of her in waves, and as Will sat in the large gray
velvet chair, he wondered what she intended to do with
Moving towards him, she rolled her hips suggestively,
and her tongue popped out of her crimson mouth as she
licked her lips. “I know everything, Riker. You and
your little friend have been busy. Did you think I
wouldn’t find out? I have spies all over this
station. I’ve had you watched for two months. What
part of “you belong to me” didn’t you understand?”
Instinctively, he knew that this woman would respond
better to attitude than acquiescence. Yet, he just
might be gambling with his life. Throwing doubt and
caution to the wind, he cleared his throat. Then he
muttered, “I don’t belong to anyone. Least of all
you. Who I screw around with is none of your
business. You certainly haven’t kept yourself under
lock and key. I know there’ve been other men,
She smiled at this, looking so incredibly beautiful
that he felt the urge to push her down on the bed and
have his way with her. “Other men. Of course there
have. I’m not a nun, you know. Besides, I don’t
recall either of us wanting a permanent relationship.”
“That’s right. So why do you care that I’m sleeping
Her face flushed red and she struggled to maintain
her composure. “I don’t care. For all I care you can
sleep with every woman aboard this station. But you’d
better remember one thing…you belong to me. I alone
rule you and I alone can punish you. So I’d suggest
you be a little more discreet unless you’d like to
find yourself in the brig.”
“Oh really?” He recalled Guinan’s words and felt his
nervous fear turn to anger. “And just when were you
going to toss me in the brig? Before or after you
decided to kill me?”
She looked surprised, and moved closer to take his
face into her hands. The lacquered red nails skimmed
his cheek, moving to stroke his neck and chest. In
his ear she whispered, “I do not intend to kill you,
Riker. I am insulted that you’ve chosen Beverly as
your new consort, but I would not kill you for it.”
He raised one eyebrow, and pushed her away. “Really?
Then why was that the first piece of news I received
when I came aboard the station today? Guinan might be
many things, but she’s not a liar. You are planning on
doing away with me, aren’t you? And after all the
years I’ve spent serving you.” Will was shaking, with
pure frustrated anger laced with a frission of fear.
He could lose his life out here in this hellhole of a
universe and never see Deanna again. All because this
heartless, jealous bitch didn’t like the fact that her
boy toy was screwing someone else.
“You might want to calm down, First Commander. You
forget yourself. You also forget the fact that I am
one half Betazoid and can read your emotions. Don’t
give me an attitude or I will be more than happy to
continue with my original plans.”
His brows shot up to his forehead. “So you were
going to do me in! You cold, calculating bitch!”
Shocked, Intendant Troi spun around and flew towards
him, face flushed red with rage. “Don’t you speak
like that to me you ungrateful son of a bitch. I
brought you to where you are today. When I found you,
you were serving on a cargo freighter, flying Generals
and Majors across this star system in exchange for a
little food and liquor. Now, look what you’ve got.
You’re my second in command. You help me to run this
station. And if something ever happens to me, it
automatically comes under your command. Does that
really mean nothing to you?”
He shrugged, sitting down on the corner of her silver
metal desk. “It might mean more if I didn’t have to
worry about losing my life every other day. This
isn’t the first time you’ve threatened me. And I
doubt it’ll be the last. Sometimes I think I had it
better on that old smelly heap of a freighter-at least
I was my own boss and no one threatened my life on a
daily basis.” Will breathed deeply, unable to believe
that he was playing the part. Not only playing it,
but getting rave reviews if her acceptance of him was
anything to go by.
Deanna lifted her lovely face and looked deep into
his eyes. “Do I really do that, First Commander? Do
I make your life a living hell? And here I thought
that the hours spent in my bed were more than enough
to make up for any hardships this duty entails.
Besides, I was only going to scare you. Torture you
into remaining faithful to me. At the last moment, I
would have called for my men to leave you be, and then
I would have carried you to my quarters and lovingly
tended your wounds. Never once I did I truly intend
to kill you. I need you too much for that.”
Will watched her face as she spoke, looked into her
jet black eyes, and felt himself beginning to think of
her as Deanna. As his Deanna. For a moment, he
wanted to take her into his arms and kiss the soft red
lips, run his fingers through her long, dark hair.
And then, with a twinge of disgust, he remembered that
she was not the woman he loved. She was the furthest
thing away from Deanna Troi that there was. She just
happened to be packaged in the same lovely face and
body. He would do well to remember that.
“Now, my love. Why don’t you have a bath while I
tend to our dinner? I want to dine privately tonight.
Evening meal is such a bother…especially when it
means being diplomatic to those idiots who call
themselves my crew. No, I think tonight should be for
just the two of us. Don’t you?” Without giving him
time to respond, Deanna walked over to the door and
called for the locks to engage. Then she moved to the
replicator on the far right side of the room and
called for clothing. In an instant, a tight black
pair of men’s black silk underwear appeared, followed
by a matching lace teddy.
Will swallowed hard. Jesus, she was planning on
seducing him! He had to get the hell out of there
now. Moving towards the door, he looked at her over
“I need to see about the prisoners before we get into
anything, Intendant. Besides, there are a few things
from my quarters I’ll need for tonight.”
She raised a single brow and then smiled. “Really?
Is that the truth or are you just anxious to get away
“After today I don’t think you need to ask me that.
I think we’d better postpone our evening’s
entertainment, Intendant. In the mood I’m in, I doubt
I could give you what you want.”
She laughed softly, then purred like a cat, sidling
up to him from the side. Kissing his neck, she ran
one elegant hand down his leg and back up again. “But
Riker darling, you’ve never disappointed me yet. In
fact, last time we were in bed together I seem to
remember you lasting all night long. Tell me you don’t
want me and I’ll let you go.”
Will cracked a smile at that. “Sure. I get it. I tell
you I’m not interested in making love to you tonight
and you send me to the brig, followed by a nice
torture session with your Cardassian guards. Does
that about cover it? Let me tell you something, lady,
I’ve had it with your games. You might pretend that
we are equals, but we both know better. You could
have my life in a nanosecond, and there’s not a damned
thing I can do about it.”
Her eyes lit like black candles, blazing with anger
and resentment. Walking behind the large desk, she
opened the top drawer. She pulled out a small, black
box; something Will did not recognize. Tapping her
long, purple fingers over the buttons, she murmured,
“Have it your way, darling”, and watched with a
menacing grin as Will Riker fell to the floor in
It felt like days had passed once Will’s eyes finally
opened and he felt himself return to consciousness.
The light from overhead seared his eyes, and he raised
a hand to shield himself from its beam. Where the
hell was he? As he struggled to raise his head, he
felt a wave of nausea, and quickly lay back down.
Gently, so as not to make himself sick, he moved his
head back and forth, searching for some sign of
familiarity. He recognized nothing. No longer was he
in the Intendant’s quarters, but instead, a sort of
prison cell-cum-torture chamber.
The walls were made of wet, gray stone, and there was
a single view screen carved from the rock giving him a
minute vision of the stars beyond. The cell was not
screened in by iron bars, however. Instead, the 15x15
space was kept in check by an invisible shield. As he
moved his hand towards it, a low-level shock ripped
through his arm, causing him to cry out. “I should’ve
known,” he muttered.
Needless to say, his plans had undergone a slight
change. His number one priority had been to get in,
get the info, and get back out; all without causing
suspicion among the members of the station’s crew.
Now, the priorities had changed. First on the list
would have to be finding a way out of the cell, then
getting the info. Then, if he were lucky and didn’t
get strung up by the dominatrix masquerading as his
Imzadi, he would make it to the Hawking and fly like
hell for the opening in the sky that would take him to
his own universe. Just thinking of it gave him a
He began to roll over, briefly tasting the ale he’d
drunk earlier, and tried to sit up straight. His head
swam; whether from Guinan’s brew or the zap his body
had endured from that damned weapon, he didn’t know.
Inching slowly, he moved to a sitting position and
felt his stomach roil. How long had it been since
he’d eaten? Vaguely, he recalled munching replicator
rations in his quarters approximately two hours before
leaving the Enterprise. He was long over due for some
food. Wishing for a communicator, he banged his boots
against the floor, hoping that someone would hear him.
The sound resonated, but how far was impossible to
tell. He hadn’t a clue just where the prison section
was located. Sure, he had a PADD full of schematics,
and notations pointing out locations of certain parts
of the station. But, the prison was not part of the
deal. Apparently, the last person from his universe
to travel into this one didn’t spend time in a prison
cell. “Lucky bastard,” he muttered.
Looking around the room, he noted twin Klingon
Batleths decorating the walls, and every few feet hung
tapestries blazoned with images of death and
destruction. One such decoration showed a tall
Bajoran woman with short red hair, holding the body of
a dead man in her grip. She was laughing maniacally,
and behind her, a crowd cheered her on, fists raised
in the air in celebration of the kill. Next to that,
a blue and black tapestry depicted a Klingon and a
Cardassian crossing swords; apparently fighting to the
death. Red blood decorated the ground, and which
opponent it belonged to was unclear.
Will shivered in distaste, and found himself recalling
the hours he’d spent on the holodeck slicing and
dicing Klingons like they were fresh dinner meat.
But, his mind reasoned, that was all an illusion.
Pretend conflicts with make-believe enemies-and no one
really ever got hurt. Still, his conscience nudged
him as he realized that in some ways he could be as
barbaric as the people who were holding him captive.
He swept away the thought with a hand. The last thing
he needed was to waste time with some vague Freudian
analysis of his personality. What he needed to do was
to find a way through the shielding and get the hell
out while there was still time. After all, if the
Intendant tossed him into the brig, she might well
decide to follow through with her original plans and
kill him tonight. It was entirely possible. And,
since he had yet to come in contact with this
universe’s Riker, he just might find himself taking
the other man’s punishment-no questions asked.
A vague stirring tickled his brain as he thought of
his supposed twin. Where was he? Surely he would’ve
surfaced by now and declared Will to be an imposter?
How long had he been on the station? Five, six hours?
The First Commander would have made his presence
known if he were here. It just didn’t make sense.
Leaning back against the rough, stone wall, Will
wondered what the man would be like. Was he an exact
duplicate of himself, but with a really bad attitude?
Obviously, he and the Intendant were lovers, which
Will found interesting. How many other relationships
from the Enterprise were mirrored here in this
universe? Was Beverly secretly in love with Picard?
Were they involved romantically? Given the “anything
goes” atmosphere aboard the station, Bev could be
seeing both Riker and Picard at the same time. Hell,
Picard could be seeing the Intendant. That thought
led to the distinctly weird image of his Captain and
the Counselor as lovers. He shivered, shaking it off.
That was just too weird to contemplate.
Of course, as he sat there idly daydreaming, the
image of the Intendant made a forceful appearance into
his brain. God, but she was lovely. Exotically,
erotically lovely. If he weren’t involved with
Deanna, he knew that he could’ve taken her to bed. He
closed his eyes, remembering the smell of her perfume
and the tight clinging uniform that left nothing to
the imagination. How could he help but be attracted
to her? She was Deanna, in a very real sense. Of
course the two were as different as night and day, but
physically, she was an exact duplicate. And given the
powerful attraction he felt for his Imzadi, it made
sense that he would desire her double as well.
“Thank-God she’s a raving bitch-on-wheels,” he
muttered. That and his love for Deanna were the only
things stopping him from giving free-range to his
“And here I thought it was just your innate modesty,
my love.” It was her. The voice shocked him,
startled him out of his reverie and he jumped back,
banging his head on the concrete.
“Shit! Did you have to surprise me, Intendant?
Couldn’t you have knocked or something?”
She smiled, a beautiful smile that bared her perfect
teeth and gave light to her luminous black eyes.
“That would’ve taken all the fun out of it, my love.”
Sashaying towards the force field, she lowered herself
to the ground until she was at eye level.
“So, how do you like the accommodations? What
irony…you, the Master torturer, imprisoned in the cell
where you’ve left hundreds to await their deaths.
Fitting, wouldn’t you say?” A wicked gleam filled her
eyes and he could see that she was amused. He,
needless to say, did not reciprocate the feeling.
Moving towards her, he grimaced, trying like hell to
stay in character. Whatever the hell that meant,
given the fact that he knew next to nothing about the
First Commander. “Look, you’ve had your fun and
played your little game. You’ve reprimanded me and
I’ve received my punishment like a good boy. Now can
I get the hell out of here and get back to work? I’ve
got other prisoners that need attending, not to
mention hundreds of death certificates to fill out. I
at least deserve time off for good behavior.”
“Really? After the way you behaved in my quarters
this afternoon? I think not. As a matter of fact, I
think I’ll let you stew in your juices for a while.
You need to learn that I am not to be treated like one
of the whores you used to have on board that freighter
of yours. I am in sole command of this station and
its occupants. You will not question me or defy my
He couldn’t resist. His trademark grin popped into
place and he leaned in closer. “And if I do?”
“Then I will continue with my plans for execution.”
“You’d never kill me, Intendant. I’m too valuable to
you. Hell, who else has
given you the years of loyal service I have? What
other man would play subordinate to you? And, more
importantly, what other man could satisfy you the way
that I do?” He thought of Deanna and allowed an
electric, sensual look fill his eyes, as they locked
onto hers. Briefly, those coal-black eyes burned with
shared attraction, and he felt a stirring of hope. If
she and her Riker were as good in bed together as he
and Deanna were, then it would be impossible for her
to kill him.
“Mmm…I see your point. I would hate to lose you as a
bed partner. We do fit rather well together in that
He beamed, relief filling his mind and heart. But
before he could respond, she shook one purple-nailed
finger at him. “However, just because you are my
consort doesn’t mean that you are immune from
punishment. I will rescind the order of execution,
but you will remain in this cell until I give the
order to release you.”
Will’s face drained of color. “How…how long do you
expect to keep me locked up?”
“That’s entirely up to you, First Commander Riker.
Behave yourself and you could be out of her in a week.
Act as you did this afternoon and I will make it a
month. Are we clear?”
Hating her with every inch of his being he muttered,
“Good. Well, I’m off for evening meal. It appears
our dinner for two was just not meant to be this
evening. However, you will be happy to know that you
won’t be dining alone.”
“Great. So who gets to share my cell? One of the
bandits from Delis Prime?”
She gave him a long, slow measured look. “No.
You’re in luck tonight, my love. Against my better
judgment, I have decided to imprison that little tart
Crusher as well. Now, I’d suggest that the two of you
behave yourselves. If I find that anything of a sexual
nature has gone on between the two of you, you both
will lose your heads. Effective immediately.
He swallowed hard and choked out the word.
“Good. I will see you at the end of the week then.
Your dinner and your companion are both on their way.”
She walked away, tossing her tight bottom to and fro,
and then looked at Will over her shoulder. She pursed
her lips and blew him a kiss, then pressed an
invisible button. The walls slid open and she
disappeared behind them, leaving Will to wonder what
the hell he was going to do next.
His stomach was growling. Painful waves of
nausea cramped his belly and his mouth tasted like a
dusty bar room floor. "I'd kill for a drink," he
muttered, pacing the small square cell as though his
life depended on it. Five, no six times he'd
completed the square and was now wandering its path
again, wishing like crazy for a tall glass of water.
Or a Romulan ale. Anything liquid that would slide
down his throat and quench the parched dryness would
He glared through the force field at the door
beyond, wondering when they were going to bring his
food. It had been over an hour since she'd left.
Well, she'd probably been lying to him. Telling him
what he wanted to hear. For all Will knew, she was
going to starve him to death as punishment for his
supposed betrayal. God, how he wished he could
contact Deanna! But he was in another universe; maybe
even another time track-could their bond stretch that
far without breaking? Probably not.
Closing his eyes, Will leaned back against the
wall and conjured her face in his mind. "I know you
can't hear me, Imzadi, but I've got to talk to you. I
miss you. Damn it, I'm stuck in this hellhole with
this wicked bitch and her crew and there's no way to
get back to you. Not yet, anyway. But I'll find it,
Deanna. I promise you that. I'll find a way to get
out of here and back to you and then, damn it, I'm
going to do what I should've done a long time ago."
He grinned, picturing the look on her face when he
asked her to marry him. Oh it had been on his mind
since the Baku' mission, but he just hadn't gotten
around to it yet. Now he found that amusing. All of
these years and once again, he'd allowed their
relationship to drift comfortably where it was, never
moving forward to total commitment. "But when I get
out of here, things are going to be different," he
murmured, pleased to have a new goal to focus his
attention on. It gave him courage, and the impetus to
get off his butt and find a way out of the prison he'd
found himself in. Surely he could worm his way out of
a force field, couldn't he? After that it would be a
matter of getting to the docking bay and jumping in
the shuttlecraft. Assuming Mr. Worf wasn't lying in
wait for him.
"Damn it, come on, I'm starving!" He was
getting frustrated. Dying to get out, yet knowing he
had to at least have food and drink before he tried to
make his escape. He certainly wouldn't get very far
if he made it beyond this room, only to pass out in
the hallway from low blood sugar.
Finally, the door slid open, and he sat down on
the floor doing his best to feign disinterest. "Well,
look who's here."
Beverly Crusher walked into the room, hands
held behind her back in tight metal shackles. The
Intendant moved behind her, holding her tightly,
grinning at Will from over her shoulder. "You see,
darling? I told you I would bring you some company.
Now, you two place nice together. And, Riker, my
love, you do know what that means, don't you? No
hanky panky or I will see to it that this is the last
night either of you spend alive." Her face twisted
with anger and resentment, and jealousy flickered
behind her eyes as she glared at her prisoners. For
the first time, Will had difficulty seeing the
resemblance to his Deanna. God, what had happened to
her to make her such a miserable bitch?
She stared down at him, and frowned. "I can
almost hear your thoughts, darling. You'd better
watch it. I may not be fully telepathic like my
mother, but I do have a bit of her talents. I'd
suggest cloaking your thoughts when I'm around, if you
think you can. I don't appreciate being called a
He swallowed thickly and gruffly responded.
"And I don't appreciate being held in here like some
reject from Delis Prime. I'm not a thief, not a
common bandit. I am your First Commander, and damn
it, I expect to be treated as such."
Intendant Troi's large black eyes darkened, and
for a moment, Will felt as though he could tumble into
them and free fall into eternity. It was
disconcerting. He almost had to physically pull
himself back from the edge, as though Deanna’s eyes
were oceans with a deadly undertow. She came closer,
pressing a button on the thick black handset. The
force field disappeared, and she unceremoniously
tossed Beverly into the cell, where she landed flat on
top of Will, knocking him to the floor.
“I will pretend that I did not hear your comments,
First Commander. You are currently a prisoner on this
station, regardless of your present rank. Now, if you
would like to retain your position as my First, then I
suggest you keep your mouth shut. Now, I’m sending in
one of the guards with your meals in approximately
five minutes. You will not be fed again until
tomorrow morning, so I suggest you eat all of your
meal. Even if you find it unappealing.” At this,
Intendant Troi grinned, a wicked, nasty smile that
told Will he would undoubtedly be eating something
repugnant. Hell, after being on the point of starving
for the past few hours, he no longer cared. She could
serve him up snails covered in whale vomit and he’d
scarf it down like it was fine Italian cuisine.
As he watched Deanna walk away, he noticed Beverly
camped out in the far right corner, holding her head
in her hands. “Are you alright?”
“I will be.”
“What did she do to you? Are you hurt?”
Beverly removed her hands from her head and looked up
at Will, her eyes full of confusion. “I didn’t know
you cared, lover. In all of my years aboard this
station and all of our years as bedfellows, I’ve never
known you to ask about my health. Is prison softening
He realized then that he did not have a clue who this
other Riker was. He knew nothing of his passions, his
personality, his attitude. How the hell was he going
to play the game when all he had in common with the
First Commander was his face and body?
Gamely, he went for a devil-may-care grin and
shrugged his shoulders. “Just making conversation,
Bev. Besides, I thought we might compare notes. You
know how she can be. I just thought I’d find out what
happened to you so I’d know what I was in for.”
Beverly leaned back against the wall and ripped the
comb out of her hair, allowing rivers of red curls to
fall around her shoulders. “God, that feels better.
That bitch took me to her quarters, hung me upside
down from the Circle, and whipped me until I bled. My
head’s still pounding from spinning around on that
damned torture device. You know, after all of these
years I’ve never once been punished. Not like that. I
guess she found out about us. Seems your earlier
caution was valid. She’s not as stupid as she looks,
I’ll give her that. Still, I never would have thought
she’d care about you and I being lovers. After all of
the men I’ve seen come and go from her quarters! She
hasn’t exactly been faithful to you.”
The words stung. Somehow, he still had the feeling
that he was talking to “his” Beverly about “his”
Deanna. “Shake it off, Riker,” he told himself
sternly. This was no time to get jealous. Especially
not about that woman. He didn’t care who she went to
bed with. Hell, she could have threesomes with Worf
and Picard for all he cared…it was none of his
After wearing the floor thin, he finally sat down
next to Beverly and stared at her, unable to reconcile
her dominatrix image with the Beverly that he knew.
“What is it, lover? Want a little kiss before she
comes back? You know that’s not a good idea.”
Will’s heart thudded instantly, whether from the
thought of kissing Beverly or the idea of the
Intendant catching them, he wasn’t entirely certain.
Remembering her impromptu kiss in the corridor, he
flushed. “You know I’d lay you down and take you
right here, right now if I knew she wasn’t coming
A slow smile crossed her face, and she leaned closer.
Touching his hair, she pulled his face towards her
and pressed her lips against his. His mind raced,
half of him knowing he should play along no matter
where that took him, the other feeling a hot twist of
guilt fill his belly at the thought of Deanna.
Finally, he let go of all thought and took Beverly in
his arms, kissing her for all she was worth. The
warmth of her lips was like velvet fire, and he felt
his body respond. What the hell am I doing? His inner
voice cried out for him to stop, to get control of
himself. This was supposed to be a game, an act, a
play in which he performed a role. It wasn’t supposed
to be real.
And yet, part of him was enjoying it. His hands
seemed to move with a life of their own, sliding down
the curves of her black, silken uniform. He was
getting into character all right. So much so that he
was on the point of making love to this woman.
“Bev…we’ve got to stop.”
She looked into his eyes, her desire for him etched
across her face. “Why? You want me as much as I want
you. I know you do.”
“Of course I do. But she’ll be back. I don’t want
her to catch us like this. Come on, you know what
she’s capable of.”
Beverly sighed and sat back on her haunches, wiping
her mouth with the back of her hand. “Yes, I know,
damn it. But she won’t be returning tonight. One of
the guards will bring our meal and then that’s it
until morning. Trust me, after the guards are gone,
we will be alone. All night long.”
Will’s heart kicked over and he felt her words travel
through his body. God, he was reacting like a teenage
boy with his first hard-on. What the hell was wrong
with him? “I think we’d better be careful, Bev. In
fact, I think we’d better cool it until we get out of
here. I’m not particularly interested in losing my
“Neither am I. But I just can’t imagine staying
locked up in this tiny space with you for a week and
not sampling the pleasures of your beautiful body.”
Her blue eyes raced from his face to his toes, then
slowly slid back up again. “I will have you tonight,
my lover. Make no mistake. I’ll behave myself until
after dinner, but then, all bets are off.” The wicked
gleam in her eyes told him she was dead serious.
Minutes later, the guard came in with a huge
platter of food, and Will was relieved to have a
distraction. His body was humming with arousal and he
knew he’d come closer than he would’ve liked to making
a huge mistake. Focusing his attention on the guard,
he found that he did not recognize the man.
Irrationally, he’d expected every single person aboard
the station to be a duplicate of someone he knew. But
this man was a stranger. He was short, husky, and
powerfully built, reminding Will of a miniature Sumo
wrestler. He was human; half-Asian half Caucasian if
he had to guess. He did not deign to speak to either
of them, just nodded his head once, fingered a black
box at his hip and once the force field was gone, slid
the platter into the cell. Then, with a deft flick of
the switch, the field buzzed back to life, containing
them once again. He was gone as swiftly as he’d come,
leaving Will alone again with Beverly.
Making a big show out of being interested in the
food, he lifted off the platter’s lid and looked
inside. He grimaced. It did look disgusting. Large,
curling mounds of purple flesh, surrounded by
dry-looking chunks of bread. A large pitcher and two
tall glasses were filled with what he hoped was water,
and he grabbed one, drinking it down. “What the hell
is that anyway?” he asked, pointing to the disgusting
thing on the plate.
“I believe it was a popular dish in the twentieth
century. Squid, I think it’s called.”
Revolted, he picked up a fork and forced himself to
eat the mushy, quivering mass. It was horrible, but it
was food and hopefully wouldn’t kill him. Plus, it
gave him a few minutes to think about how to handle
Beverly. They’d been in here for a solid week
together, alone. He could easily fend her off for a
night or maybe two. But how would he do it for an
entire week and make it believable?
Munching in silence, they each finished their meal
and then pushed the serving platter towards the
opposite side of the cell. Then Will sat against the
wall, his head tilted back, eyes closed. “Tired,
“Mmm…it’s been a long day.”
“Want to take a nap?”
“I don’t think I have much choice.” He feigned
exhaustion, while in reality the day’s events had his
mind wired for sound. It would be hours before he’d
fall into a genuine sleep.
“Why don’t you come lay on me, I’m a lot more
comfortable than that cement wall,” she coaxed.
He was tempted. Opening one eye, he peeked at her,
watching her slide down and lay on the floor. “I
think I’ll sleep a lot better if I’m by myself, Bev.
But thanks for the offer.”
“I’ll be here…not that I could go anywhere if I
wanted to. If you get lonely, come join me, all
right? I’ll keep you warm.”
“I’m sure you will,” he muttered, hoping that she
would go to sleep and leave him alone with his
But that wasn’t to be. He heard slight movements
from her corner of the cell, and opened his eyes to
see what she was doing. Beverly was standing in the
corner of the cell, pulling off her clothing. The
one-piece jumpsuit fell to a puddle at her feet,
revealing an indigo lace teddy beneath. She made a
pillow of the jumpsuit, then lay back down, resting
her head on the fabric. Will’s mouth went dry and his
eyes roamed her gentle curves finding the vision of
her lying there nearly naked incredibly arousing.
“Night, Riker,” she murmured, in a sultry voice.
Then she turned over on her stomach, giving him a
great view of her lace-covered ass. He groaned and
closed his eyes, forcing his thoughts away from the
enticing picture before him.
It was going to be one hell of a night.
The noises were the worst. The endless banging, the
roar of the heating ducts, the buzzing of the
electronics—all of it filled Will’s ears all night
long. It was impossible to drift off to sleep. Hell,
he mused, it would’ve been impossible at any rate.
And not just because he was sleeping next to a
barely-clad Beverly Crusher. Or a facsimile thereof.
No, the main thing that was keeping his brain racing
and his stomach in knots was the simple fact that he
was a prisoner on a frigging space station in a
completely different universe than his own. Add to
that a Riker Twin running around (who had been thus
far entirely AWOL from the situation) and a woman who
looked like his lover who was trying to kill him, and
you had a recipe for insomnia.
He shifted positions again, trying to find a
comfortable spot. The floor was back-breakingly hard
and he laid his head upon his arms trying for a
makeshift pillow. On his back, on his stomach, and
back again. He was miserable. How long was he going
to lie there staring at the ceiling lights? So far
he’s counted the amber bulbs approximately nine times,
with a tenth go-around for good measure. They were
all still there-doing their intended job, shining just
enough light into his eyes to keep them open.
“Damn it!” he muttered, slamming a fist against the
rock-hard floor. “I’ve got to the get the hell out of
Frustrated beyond measure, he levered his body off
the floor and stood up. Then, he charged the force
field like a Tarkelian tiger, rampant and on the
warpath. The voltage ripped through his body and he
fell backwards, screaming in pain. His head nearly hit
the floor, but he caught himself before he could knock
himself unconscious. Unfortunately, his little escape
attempt had woken his cellmate.
“What…what’s happening? Riker…what are you doing?
Are you hurt?”
He felt his head and tried to stand again, but the
room spun wildly and he fell again, this time flat on
his fleshy rump. Bev stifled a giggle and tried to
“What are you trying to do, kill yourself?”
“Yes, that’s it exactly. I figured since the
Intendant will probably have my head any way, I might
as well do the job myself. A lot less painful and a
lot quicker.” He rubbed his head and blinked his eyes,
trying to get his surroundings to fall together in a
normal looking picture. They were a bit fuzzy, but
gradually, they righted themselves and he breathed a
sigh of relief. No concussion then.
“You fool. You know as well as anyone what those
force fields can do. Hell, you were there the day
they were installed! I’d think you’d know better than
to try and get through them.” She shook her head,
obviously disgusted with him. Apparently her Riker
was more familiar with this technology than he was.
Well, bully for him. The old son of a bitch can come
get me out of here if he’s so damned knowledgeable.
Beverly (he still could not get used to thinking of
her that way-there had to be another moniker which fit
her better) began to giggle and her cheeks flushed red
as she laughed. Up on her knees know, she leaned over
towards him and patted his head, almost as gently as
his own Dr. Crusher might have. Will looked at her,
finding that his eyes were roaming her body of their
own accord, and he cursed inwardly. This was not
working the way he thought it would.
“Like what you see, lover? I know blue is your
favorite color. Do you think it suits me?” Ever the
coquette, Bev moved even closer, batting her eyelashes
in a sultry manner while running her hand up his
“I think you know the answer to that,” he muttered
“Hmm…yes, I do believe I see evidence of your
interest.” Her eyes were alight with mischief as she
motioned towards his lower body.
Embarrassed, he longed to beam himself out of there
and into another universe. Preferably one that did not
contain a Beverly Crusher or any other female wearing
less than full-body armor. “Can’t you put some
clothes on?” He barked. “I can’t frigging think
straight with you looking like that.”
She grinned and ran her delicately elegant fingers up
and down her body. “Like what, my lover? You’ve seen
me in a lot less than this.”
Actually, he’d never seen his Beverly in anything
less than full uniform. No wonder this was so damned
disconcerting. Will realized then that he’d never
truly looked at Beverly as a woman. As a sexual
being. Sure she was attractive and very pleasant to
be around, but they were friends-nothing more. And
the thought of having any other sort of relationship
with her simply never came up. Especially since she
was his Imzadi’s best friend.
Imzadi. Deanna. Oh God. He had not been with
anyone else since they’d renewed their relationship.
Not that they’d become engaged or vowed eternal
fidelity to one another. But they had been dating.
Moving from friendship to something more, something
deeper. And for the first time since their new
beginning after the Baku’ mission, Will found himself
tempted to stray.
Had he been on board the Enterprise, he never, ever
would’ve taken Beverly Crusher to bed. And yet, being
here, on this desolate place…trapped in confined
quarters with her double, he found that the idea was
not without appeal. His heart twisted briefly, as he
imagined returning to the Enterprise only to have
Deanna ferret out his secret with a gentle nudge of
her empathic senses. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t
hurt her again.
Having arrived at his decision, Will curled up in the
far end of the cell alone, and closed his eyes, hoping
that sleep would take him. Hoping that when the
morning arrived he could find means of escape and get
away without being tortured, interrogated, or killed.
He had to get back. It wasn’t even about bringing
Captain Picard the Intelligence Reports that he
desired anymore. Now it was about survival. Taking a
last look in Beverly’s direction, he knew it was also
about staying faithful. Or as his old Academy buddy
Jim Stonesifer used to say, “keeping it in his pants.”
As he lay on the cold, damp floor, his mind
galvanized itself for the coming morning. If it were
possible to gather the data he needed once he’d
escaped, then he would do so. But, if his life was in
danger, then he’d have to say the hell with it and run
like hell for the Hawking. Getting back to his world,
his universe, his time-that’s what mattered. And,
getting back to you, Deanna.
Pointedly ignoring his cellmate, he breathed deeply,
feigning a soft sleep that would hopefully give her
the hint to take a nap of her own. He pretended to
snore, to make the occasional groaning sound, then
made his breath move in and out in perfect time.
Surely, she’d give up any ideas of seduction and go to
But, as he found himself beginning to become
genuinely sleepy, Will felt a hand travel up his
thigh. It moved, circling his butt, then grasped the
full smoothness tightly, as though he were a ham hock.
Pressing her slim body against his back, Bev slid her
hand around the front of his body, caressing his upper
thigh, his stomach. Then she moved it over his groin,
and he nearly jumped out of his skin. “What the hell
are you doing?” he demanded.
“What does it look like? Boy, you are in a mood
tonight. Usually by the time I’ve touched you, you’ve
rolled me over and fucked me six ways from Sunday.”
He rolled to his right, and sat up, staring down at
her angrily. “You deserve to be fucked that way, you
arrogant bitch. What makes you think I’m in the mood
for sex tonight? God damn it, the bitch goddess has
me in her prison because of you, has me locked up for
God-knows how long with you, and now you want me to
just pretend that everything’s back to normal and take
you to bed? Well, sorry, babe, but I’m not in the
mood.” Will’s blue eyes burned indigo with his anger,
and he realized belatedly that he’d once again done a
hell of an acting job. He hadn’t meant to sound like
the First Commander, but judging by the look on Bev’s
face, he’d done just that.
Her eyes softened and she backed away, her face
filled with regret and disappointment. “Sorry to have
troubled you. I’ll just sleep over here tonight.”
“You do that,” he muttered, feeling his racing heart
begin to slow as he backed into his own corner. Damn
it. If only he knew where to find his double. Then HE
could be in here with the sex goddess, sampling her
pleasures in Will’s place. If he could just get out of
there, he could find the man, knock him out cold and
put him in here where he belonged. Yeah, and he could
be just about anywhere on this station…or off of it.
Will was itching to get out of the cell’s confinement
and anxious to find the other Riker. How was he going
to wait until morning?
Wide-awake, he stared up at the amber lights,
resuming his counting. It was child’s work, but it
kept his mind off of Beverly at any rate. Despite his
harsh words, or perhaps because of them, he still
wanted her. His body was traitorously aroused, so
much so that he had to sleep on his back due to the
enormous erection pressing against his pants.
“Okay, Riker,” he murmured, “think about ugly
baseball players. Captain Picard in a pink tutu.
Anything but sex.” As the last word slipped out of
his mouth, he heard an unusual sound. He stopped his
breathing, listening hard, and realized it was a soft,
moaning sound. His skin prickled and the hair on his
scalp stood on end. She wouldn’t.
Opening one eye, he peered to the right to look at
Beverly. She would. As unobtrusively as possible,
she was pleasuring herself. Eyes closed, head lying
back on her uniform, she gently massaged her breasts,
then moved downwards to the apex of her legs to fondle
the smooth flesh between them.
If it were possible, Will’s body was even harder,
tighter with desire. He knew he needed to tear his
gaze away from her, but it was impossible. Only one
other woman had allowed him to watch as she touched
herself. An old lover from the Academy named Theresa
Parsons. It had been magical, almost mystical to him,
learning how a woman touched her own body. Learning
how she gave herself the ultimate pleasure. It had
been the most arousing thing he’d ever seen, and this
time was no different. In fact, he knew that if he
didn’t force himself to look away soon, he was going
to have to indulge himself in the very same thing.
He cleared his throat and staggered to his knees,
breathless. “Bev…” he murmured.
Her eyes popped open and she flushed, yet didn’t stop
what she was doing. “Riker…Gods…I thought you were
He grinned. “Obviously.” Moving towards her, he
felt the helpless pull of attraction and desire mingle
within his body. And, he had to admit, he felt a bit
more tender towards her, having seen her in such a
“Riker…please…go back to sleep. I want to be alone.”
Her eyes were feverish with excitement and she pushed
him away with both hands.
“I…I’m sorry that I interrupted, Bev. But you don’t
want to be alone-any more than I do.”
Her brows moved to her hairline. “You don’t? And
here I could have sworn that it was you who declined
to make love with me tonight.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry-I’ve been in a shitty mood
all day. I guess prison will do that to you.” He gave
her the famous Riker grin-the one that knocked every
female within a ten-mile radius to her quivering
knees. “Bev…you don’t have to do this. Let me…” The
words were out of his mouth before he could retract
them. In the back of his brain, something tried to
warn him; to tell him that his was a mistake. But his
body was on fire and he could not go back now. Moving
towards her, he took her into his arms, and looked
down into her eyes. Then, he covered her mouth with
his own, and lost himself in the warm, sweet wetness.
He cupped her head in the palm of his hand, and
traced her breasts with the other. His roaming
fingers found the silken string that tied the teddy’s
bodice together, and pulled it open, allowing her
firm, full breasts to escape. His hands cupped their
softness, and then he moved his mouth from hers to
take them one by one into his mouth.
She cried out softly at the feel of his mouth on her
body, and pulled him closer. Her hands moved
downwards to grasp the zipper of his black slacks, and
undid them with a deft downward pull. Will rose to
his knees, abandoning her body for the moment, and
tugged the pants off entirely. Then he removed his
dark black shirt and purple briefs. When he was naked,
he leaned above her again, feeling his heart slam
against his chest as he looked at her supple white
body lying beautifully in the amber glow of the
overhead lights. “You’re beautiful,” he whispered,
leaning to once again devour her breasts.
“Mmm…I haven’t heard that in a few years, lover. I
must admit it’s nice to hear those romantic
He did not respond, except to move his mouth down her
flat stomach, kissing her belly button and abdomen,
then finally, burying his face between the cleft of
She moaned softly, and then as his tongue expertly
brought her body to life, the moans grew louder.
Gripping his soft black hair in her hands, Bev pressed
him more fully against herself, rocking her hips
against his face. He could feel her excitement
building as her legs began to shake around his head,
and it was all the impetus he needed.
Pushing himself up, he murmured, “God I want you.
Are you ready for this, Bev? Tell me, are you ready?
Do you want me?”
“Gods yes, lover, now. I need you inside of me now!”
Needing no further encouragement, Will kneeled above
her quaking body, and slowly slid the length of
himself inside of her. She was incredibly warm and
wet, and he was amazed at how good she felt to him.
His mind and heart floated free, and as they moved
together, all thought left him. There was only this
moment, this woman, and this incredible ecstasy they
were building together.
Grabbing her bottom, he pressed himself inside of her
more fully, sending waves of pleasure throughout her
body. Harder, and faster he rode her, driving them
both insane with the desire for release. The room’s
lights seemed to pulsate in rhythm with their bodies,
and sweat covered Will’s body as he moved. He was
drenched, stifling, but he didn’t care. All that
mattered was making Beverly come for him so that he
could finally release the tension stored in his body.
Judging from the delighted sounds she was making, he
was doing to do just that. And soon.
He opened his eyes to watch her, stunned by the image
of her open mouth as she moaned his name, her
pink-tipped breasts bouncing as he rocked against her
pelvis. The image was so incredibly erotic, that he
felt the first throbbing waves begin to hit him.
Desperate now, he slammed himself against her, all the
while rubbing her clitoris in a smooth circle with his
thumb. “Come on, baby. You’ve got to come for me
She may have nodded, he wasn’t sure. All he knew
was that she was whispering his name again and again
in some sort of erotic mantra, all the while gripping
his ass and thrusting her body against his in wild,
sinuous abandon. Finally, her head flew back and she
screamed his name again and again as her body shook
and rattled like the last moments of an earthquake.
Relieved, Will allowed his body to take its fill of
her, letting the excitement burst through his skin
like the crash of a wave against the shore. It
slammed into his body, and he cried out, a hoarse
guttural moan of triumph and pleasure.
As the endless orgasm rocked his body, his arms
began to shake and finally, he let go of their hold,
falling on top of her. He could hear her heartbeat as
his head lay on her chest; feel her breathing slow as
her body began to relax. Looking up at her, he took
in the smile, the dancing blue eyes, and the rather
self-satisfied look that he recognized from numerous
poker games aboard the Enterprise. It was the same
look that Dr. Crusher got whenever she won a hand.
Will’s heart seemed to stop in his chest at the
memory. And one sentence repeated itself in his mind
over and over again. “I’ve just fucked Beverly
It was morning, it had to be. Not that he had the
luxury of watching a sunrise from beyond the window to
tell him so. It was more the level of activity and
the increased sounds that told him he’d made it
through the night. Any minute they would bring
breakfast, and when they did, he would make his move.
It was time to escape. Anything else was too much to
consider. Already he felt the uncomfortable sensation
that he needed a shower and fresh clothes. Not to
mention a toothbrush.
Pushing himself into a sitting position, Will looked
around the room, then the small cell, his eyes fixing
on Beverly’s still-sleeping form. A hard fist of
guilt knotted in his stomach and he looked away,
unable to accept what had happened. A voice jeered at
him from inside his mind and it was a mocking
rendition of his own. How could you do this? How
could you hurt Deanna this way? You know that she will
find out about it. And then, guess what? You’re going
to lose her, just like you lost her all those years
ago when you took Wendy to bed. God, it was the same
nightmare, coming true all over again, only this time
he was much older, and supposedly, much wiser. This
time he was fully aware that he was responsible for
his actions and there was no getting around it. He’d
chosen to make love to Beverly’s twin…he’d wanted it.
And, he’d have to pay the consequences when his Imzadi
discovered his betrayal.
He could see Deanna’s beautiful face in his mind so
clearly. It was filled with love and acceptance of
him, as always. He wished that he could reach into
his own imagination and take her image into his arms.
Then he’d fall to his knees and beg her forgiveness.
Not that she’d automatically give it to him. In fact,
she probably wouldn’t-he knew her well enough now to
know that. No, he’d screwed himself. It was over, or
at the very least was going to be, and it was no one’s
fault but his own.
Will's stomach roiled with a heavy sick feeling and
it took all the strength he had to get on his feet and
get dressed. Pulling on yesterday’s clothes, he ran
his fingers through his hair and then stood against
the wall, arms folded tightly against his chest. He
kept his gaze trained on the door, waiting for the
moment when one of the guards would come in and
disengage the force field. He was ready. Given the
mood he was in, it would be easy to tear the guard
apart, to run past him and out the doors. After that,
he didn’t have a plan. Only to get as far away from
this god-forsaken place as possible.
A slight rustling from the corner told him that Bev
had awakened. Staring forward, he pointedly ignored
her, unable to think of a single thing to say. “Good
morning” was out of the question, for it was
undoubtedly one of the worst mornings in recorded
history. “How’re you doing?” was inane, not to
mention stupid. How would anyone be doing after a
night of great sex? Unable to think of anything else,
he continued to stand statue-still, trying to put
Beverly out of his mind.
But, since she was only a few feet away, that proved
impossible to do. Out of the corner of his eye, he
could see that she was tugging on her uniform and
straightening her hair. They both needed to look just
as they had when the Intendant had left them, or
there’d be hell to pay. He remembered the look in the
Intendant’s eyes; the jealous anger ready to burst out
at a moment’s notice. Sure, she knew that her lover
was sleeping with Beverly, but coming into the room
and seeing them both lying there together would have
probably sent her over the edge. It might have been
pleasurable to make love to Beverly, but it sure as
hell wasn’t worth dying over.
Tension filled his body, and his eyes restlessly
roamed the room. He was hardly able to stand still.
Damn the bastards, when were they going to come?
“What’s wrong, Riker my love? In another bad mood
this morning?” her voice came softly over his shoulder
and he felt her arms encircle his waist from behind.
Will turned to face her, grabbing her arms, pushing
her away. “Don’t. Look, somehow we got away with it
last night, but I’m not about to try it again. You’re
a great piece of ass but you’re not worth losing my
The haughty, tough look that she’d been wearing
wavered briefly. Her eyes filled with emotion that
was quickly suppressed. Beverly pressed her lips
together and nodded stiffly. “You’re not so bad
yourself. But, you’ve got a good point. No more
screwing around-until we get out of this place. I’ll
be on my best behavior. Promise.”
Somehow he doubted it, but he played along and
murmured, “Good. Now why don’t you move to the
opposite end again? That way if she comes in this
morning, she’ll see nothing but the same scene she
left last evening.”
“Right,” she murmured, and moved to sit in the far
corner. Her eyes moved to the far wall where she
pretended to stare at the tapestries. But Will could
see the hurt in her eyes. He felt like going to her
and taking her into his arms, apologizing for
everything that had happened. But she wouldn’t
understand. As far as he knew, her Riker might just
be the cold, calculating bastard that he himself was
pretending to be. Might as well keep the game going.
Endless minutes passed before the doors slid open,
and when they did, Will nearly let out a cry of
relief. A tall Cardassian moved through the doors,
holding a large metal platter of food. The face was
familiar, but Will couldn’t automatically place the
man. Then, as he stared at him a bit longer, it hit
him square between the eyes. He’d seen this man from
the bridge of the Enterprise D many, many years
before. It was Gul Dukat. Or, a very well made
duplicate. He suppressed the violent urge to laugh as
he watched Dukat nod at him and move to press the
button on the black box at his hip. Dukat, a mere
prison guard on a station commanded by a half-human,
half-Betazoid woman. It was enough to make him
giggle. He couldn’t wait to get back home and tell
Jean Luc. He would no doubt find it amusing as well.
Tamping down on his mirth, Will nodded stoically at
the Cardassian and watched as the force field blazed
open. Then, without any further thought, he jumped
the guard, and knocked him backwards, sending the two
of them sliding across the slippery floor.
“What is the meaning of this, Riker? I’ve come to
bring you food and drink, and this is the way you
repay me?” The same arrogant expression, the same
authoritarian voice. Will could not get over it.
“Look, Dukat, I didn’t ask you to do this for me.
You’re doing it on orders from the Intendant. She
controls your actions, not me. And, in case you’re
wondering, I’m getting the hell out of here, so you
can keep your damned breakfast. In fact, why don’t
you hang onto it? You might be needing it soon.” His
blue eyes glittered with mischief as he made the
decision. Grabbing the other man’s shiny black head,
Will slammed it against the concrete, knocking him
“You didn’t put up much of a fight, Dukat. Your late
counterpart would have been disappointed in you.” He
stood; wiping sweat from his brow, then grabbed two
heavy black boots, dragging Dukat’s limp body into the
open cell. He reached for the box on his belt, ripped
it off and slipped it into his pocket. Then he looked
at Beverly, who was sitting there open mouthed, unable
“Sorry, Bev, but I’ve got to get out of here. I
can’t explain right now, but one day you’ll
understand. It’s been wonderful but I’ve got to go.”
“Wait,” she called, running towards him, “you can’t
just leave me in here! Not with him.”
“I can and I will. Nothing personal, lover, just
that right now I can’t afford to have you along. I
need to be unencumbered for what I’m about to do. If
the Intendant gives you any problems about this, just
tell her to come to me. I’ll make sure she doesn’t
hurt you.” Sliding his hand into his pocket, Will
pressed the black button and sent the force field
glittering to life in front of a stunned Beverly
“You bastard! I can’t believe you’re just going to
leave me here! After last night, I would’ve thought
you would be enjoying your imprisonment by now. We
were amazing together, you know that. Stay with me,
or at least take me with you. I don’t particularly
want to rot in this hell hole either.”
Will looked into her eyes, remembering the passion
that had sparked between them. He’d never forget it.
But it could never happen again.
“I’m sorry, Bev. You know I had a hell of a good
time last night. I always do with you. You and I’ve
got something that I’ve never had with the Intendant.
And we will pick up right where we left off-I promise.
But right now I’ve got to go and it’s safer for me to
leave you here. If she comes in today, checking up on
us, at least she will have one prisoner still under
her control. She won’t hurt you; you’re not the one
who escaped. But I’ll be in danger, and I’m not going
to put you in that position.”
Beverly’s eyes softened. “You really care for me,
“Of course I do. After all these years together how
could I feel nothing for you? But you know as well as
I do that our relationship can never go beyond what it
is right now. Not unless we both want to die.”
“You’re right, of course. I’ll see you soon?”
“Count on it.” He gave her a parting wink, and then
pressed another button on the slim black box. The
doors to the prison room slid up and open, and he flew
through them, running like a man who’d just escaped
Will ran until he could no longer go on, finally
stopping at what looked like the middle of a habitat
ring. Putting out one hand against the wall, he
panted, trying to catch his breath. Where was he now?
This section looked similar to the habitat ring on
DS9, but he couldn’t be certain that this area served
the same purpose as its counterpart. Hell, he
couldn’t be certain of anything these days. In the
flash of a second he could be killed by the
Intendant’s guards, or just as shockingly, be seduced
by a beautiful woman. Up was suddenly down, black was
suddenly white. The rules that governed this universe
were virtually unknown to him, and that was the
biggest drawback to this damnable assignment.
Standing stiffly erect, he cracked his back, working
out the kinks. Then he surveyed the area, taking in
small view screens, long lengths of dark corridor,
alien faces; some friendly, others openly hostile.
How was he to navigate the waters of this situation
when he hadn’t a clue how the First Commander related
to these people? Every sentence he uttered could be a
misstep. Every action could be interpreted as a
threat. He wanted to be in control, to know exactly
what was expected of him. Then and only then could he
play the role to perfection.
Thus far he’d gotten by on a bad attitude and a lusty
sex drive, but those weren’t going to keep the ruse
going much longer. As soon as Beverly or the
Intendant asked him a question that he didn’t know the
answer to, as soon as he told the first thing they
recognized as a lie, he’d be up to his ass in trouble.
For that matter, as soon as the Intendant realized he
had escaped, he’d be headed for torture, or worse.
He couldn’t let that happen. Not if there was any way
to avoid it.
Squaring his shoulders, he continued to walk along the
corridor, his mind racing furiously. Then it hit him.
Of course. He had to get into the other Riker’s
quarters. It was the only way he could gather enough
information about his double to stay alive. The only
problem was, he hadn’t a clue as to the location. He
had vague schematics done up before leaving the
Enterprise, based on Captain Sisko’s recollections of
this station, but they didn’t include the actual
locations of each individual’s living quarters.
As he moved into another section of the ring, a group
of scantily clad Bajoran women walked by, two of them
eyeing him with open interest. He grinned at them,
smoothed back his hair, and walked up to the cute
brunette on the right. Her uniform hugged her full
curves so tightly that he thought her bosom would fall
right out of it. Not that he would’ve minded. “Well,
girls, look who’s here.”
“And where are you ladies headed?”
The brunette tilted her head and smiled up at him,
hands fastened on her wide hips. “What business is it
of yours, First Commander? Did the Intendant send you
up here to spy on us?”
He had no earthly clue what she was talking about.
“No, actually I came up here on my own. I figured
you’d be around.”
“Then you’re not here to punish us?” Her large black
eyes were filled with confusion and relief.
“Just the opposite. I’ve told her that she’s been
coming down too hard on you girls and that it was time
to give you a break.” As he watched them, he noted
the painted-on make-up, the tight clothing, the air of
lazy sensuality in their eyes. Intuition told him
exactly what their job aboard the station was. They
“I suppose you expect us to thank you?” The auburn
haired girl murmured, lifting an eyebrow.
“Well, not in so many words. But there are other ways
that you could repay me for looking after your
interests…” He poured on the charm, heat and sexuality
emanating from his eyes in waves. Turning to the
petite brunette, he pushed against the wall and
planted his hand above her head against the metal.
Looking down into her eyes, he continued, “ I’m sure
we could work out something. I’ve heard that you are
one of the best on this station and since I haven’t as
yet had the pleasure…” His voice caressed her small
body, and her earlier aggressive stance melting in the
heat of his body, his face, his smooth-as-silk voice.
She wanted him; he could feel it.
Will grinned inwardly. If she was in lust with the
First Commander, she no doubt knew the location of his
quarters. He’d hit pay dirt, he could feel it. All
he had to do was play with her awhile longer, and then
get rid of her once inside the room. It would be
“So, are you just going to stand there or are you
going to kiss me, Riker?” the Bajoran beauty barked.
“What do you think?” Will slid one hand down her
side, stopping at her waist, then pressed himself
tightly against her. Grabbing her short dark hair in
a single, rough motion, he kissed her, his mouth
descending on hers like hot, wet, velvet. She
squirmed, tried to pull away, and then slowly
flattened her body against the wall, surrendering.
Her friend, the nameless auburn-haired beauty, wiggled
her thick eyebrows at the brunette over Will’s
shoulder. “See you later, Kel. I can see that you’ve
got work to do.”
With that, she disappeared into the passing crowd,
leaving the two of them alone.
Will pulled himself away, coming up for air, trying
to ignore his body’s reactions.
“Kel, is it? Well, now I know your name.”
“Then you have me at a disadvantage, First Commander.
I’m afraid that I am familiar with only your last
name, not your first.”
“Do I get a discount on your services if I tell you
what it is?” he teased, trailing one finger down the
soft side of her face.
She grimaced. “Sorry, you have to pay the same as
anyone else, Riker. Now, why don’t we get moving? I’m
sure you don’t want to be caught out here in the
Habitat Ring with a Bajoran prostitute.” So he was
right. Well, at least some things stayed the same from
universe to universe. At least he was in the right
Faking a look of concern, he looked around the
corridor and back at Kel. “Mmm…maybe you’re right.
Let’s get a move on. My quarters?”
“Might as well. Lead the way.”
Uh-oh. Thinking quickly, he murmured, “You know where
it is as well as I do…why don’t you lead me, Kel?”
He could’ve sworn he saw her blush, a faint pink
tinge covering her high cheekbones, the slim length of
her neck. Clearing her throat, she muttered, “Follow
They walked westward, down a hall decorated with
mirrors and Bat’leths. Will caught his reflection and
grimaced. He looked like total hell. But he also
looked like one badass son-of-a-bitch, which was
exactly the effect he wanted. No one back on the ship
would’ve recognized him in the black leather uniform,
the slicked-back hair, the air of angry tension.
He shook off those thoughts. Dreaming of home wasn’t
going to get him out of here, taking action was. He
couldn’t afford the luxury of recalling his friends or
his Imzadi. Not if he wanted to get out of here
alive. Because although he would never admit it, if
he allowed himself to sit down and to feel the absence
of Deanna in his mind, to feel the total
disassociation that had come with taking on this
persona, he would go mad. He would tear up everything
around him, or at the very least, burst into a manly
round of tears. Will smiled to himself at that. It
would take a lot more than getting stranded in the
Mirror Universe to make a Riker cry.
“We’re almost there, First Commander. Are you
certain you want to go through with this?” Kel asked,
shaking him from his reverie completely.
“What? Oh, yes, of course I am. Why do you ask?”
She turned around, her impish, elfish face smiling up
at him. “Because…I know the Intendant. She’d have
your balls strung up on the dining hall walls if she
knew you were fucking a prostitute. Bad enough you’ve
been screwing Bev Crusher all these years.”
Embarrassment flushed his face at the mention of the
Mirror Beverly, and he covered it quickly with anger.
“I don’t recall asking for your opinion about my sex
life, Kel. Who I see and who I sleep with is none of
“Sleep with, huh? Such delicate language from such a
hard ass.” She teased him, mincing along in front of
him, shaking her high, tight bottom as her long legs
carried her to the end of the corridor. She was
driving him nuts. Not that he’d let her know that.
“Look, I don’t have time for this. Do you want to go
to bed with me or not? If so, get your ass into my
quarters and into my bed. I’ve had enough of talking
Rather than looking hurt, Kel’s face registered
interest, even a hint of arousal. Apparently the lady
liked being bossed around. “Here we are then. What’s
your access code?”
He shook his head and frowned at her. “I don’t think
so. I give you that access code and I wake up one
morning with you in my bed. I don’t think you’d want
to deal with the consequences of that, Kel.” Pushing
her aside, he stood in front of an arched black set of
doors, wondering desperately what the codes were to
get inside. Think, Riker, think. If you were him,
what would you use as a code? Come on, you don’t have
all day! If it were just a single word, he might have
a shot at guessing it. But if the other Riker was
anything like himself, he probably used a series of
letters and numbers so that no one could invade his
Dammit, what the hell could it be? His head was
suddenly throbbing and his stomach was twisted in
knots with tension and anxiety.
Closing his eyes, he called, “Open security lock, code
Nothing happened. He glared at the door, wishing he
could pummel it open with his bare hands. Taking a
deep breath, he started to speak again, but felt Kel’s
hand upon his wrist. “Did you change it, First
Commander? I do that all the time and then I forget
what the hell code I used. Don’t worry, I’ve got
something that will help…”
From behind her belt she pulled a small silver
circle. Pressing it against the door, she fingered
the tiny series of buttons on the gadget’s smooth
surface. In seconds, the door burst open, and he
couldn’t help but smile at her. “Clever.”
“Yeah, well, we prostitutes are good at a lot more
than sex, you know.”
They looked at each other for a long moment and Will
realized the time had come. He had to get rid of her
now. He started to speak, but was silenced when Kel
jumped up and wrapped her legs around his waist,
covering his face in kisses.
“Kel, stop it. No…wait a second. What are you
doing?” He grabbed her arms and pushed her backwards,
but she clung stubbornly to his waist.
“I’m getting you ready, First Commander. Not that
you need it. From what I can feel, you’re hard as an
overripe Moba fruit already.”
Great, the second seduction in two days. Did every
woman on this station want to fuck him? Or, more to
the point, did they want to fuck his counterpart?
Under other circumstances his ego would’ve been
thrilled by all of this female attention. Under the
current ones, he was anything but flattered. Thinking
of last night’s foray into madness with Beverly, he
shuddered. No way was he going to do anything else to
torture his already over-burdened conscience.
“Kel…get down all right? Get down, and get inside
before someone sees us.”
“Mmm, but you feel so good. I can tell you want me,
Riker. There’s no need to hide it.”
“If you really believe that then you haven’t seen the
Intendant in action. Now get your little ass in my
quarters or leave! I’m not losing my head because of
some piece of Bajoran ass.” The anger sounded real
because it was. He was furious with himself and
everyone aboard this place. He was also afraid of
dying before he could get back to Deanna and the
Enterprise. That was fuel enough for the blaze.
“I…I’m sorry. I just wanted to get you going. I
never meant to cause you trouble.” She slid down his
body, then stepped away, looking at the floor. “I’ll
leave now if you want me to.”
“Why are you suddenly so charitable, Kel? I didn’t
think you girls had consciences.”
That got her. A dark flash filled her eyes and she
lifted her chin defiantly.
“We don’t. I don’t give a damn what happens to you,
First Commander, but I don’t want to get in trouble
either. If I thought that kissing your ass would keep
me in the clear with the Intendant I’d do it. In a
Smoldering, he pulled her by her arm into the empty
room, smothering a sigh of relief when the doors slid
closed. A large rectangular bed sat in the middle of
the room, covered with black pillows, black satin
sheets, black blankets. Over the bed a soft light
flicked shadows on the walls, and on the nightstand,
sat a black leather whip. Apparently this was where
the First Commander did his romantic entertaining.
Pushing the girl onto the bed, Will surveyed the
rooms, seeing no resemblance whatsoever to his own
The bedroom walls were covered with images of naked
women, some in dominatrix gear, others kneeling
submissively before masked male figures wielding large
whips. Will cringed inwardly. This guy was one sick
Ignoring Kel, Will moved around the apartment, seeing
nothing else unusual. Dining table, replicators, a
small bathroom with sonic shower. Everything besides
the bedroom looked fairly normal. Walking back to the
bedroom he yanked open a nightstand drawer, and saw a
violent, pornographic magazine lying on top of a pile
of clothing. Seeing the woman’s face on the cover
twisted in pain, he shuddered and slammed the drawer
“Kel, I want you to leave now. I’ve changed my
“What? Why? Don’t you want me, Riker?”
“That’s not the issue. What I want right now is to
be alone. I’m sure you can find another customer to
pay you for your time.”
“But…” she began, and he could see that she was torn.
Angry and hurt, yet unwilling to risk his wrath.
Jumping up from the bed, she glared at him and moved
to the door. Looking at him over her shoulder, she
said, “Your loss, First Commander.” Then she
“Jesus, that was close,” he whispered. Although his
mind was razor sharp as he surveyed his surroundings,
his body could not have cared less what he was doing.
It wanted to pull that beautiful, young girl onto the
black silk sheets and take her.
Gods, what was wrong with him? It was like ever
since he’d arrived, his sex drive had quadrupled. It
wasn’t just that women were throwing themselves at
him; it was that he was responding. In his world, on
his ship, he was often surrounded by attractive women;
many of whom would’ve liked nothing better than to
score with “Will the Thrill Riker”. Yet he’d always
resisted. And more importantly, since getting back
together with Deanna, he’d had no trouble resisting.
Sitting on the bed, he held his head in his hands.
You don’t have time for this. Get moving! Search the
room, get any information you can, then get the hell
But another voice, a deeper, louder voice was
pummeling his conscience. What’s happening to you?
You’re losing control; you know that, don’t you?
You’re going back to the man you used to be. Remember
He shivered. He remembered all right. The one-night
stands, the reputation, the illicit casual sex with
anyone he wanted. At any time. It had been tempting.
But for two years he’d stayed away from that old life.
Loving Deanna and losing himself in her was all he
needed or wanted. Until now.
Will felt sick to his stomach. He could feel himself
changing already. It had only been two days of
role-playing, but it was getting under his skin,
revealing the old Riker beneath the new. His skin
crawled with guilt and shame. It was becoming easier
and easier to play the game. How long could he do
this before succumbing to temptation again? More
importantly, if he succumbed, how long would it be
before his crimes were merely sexual? How long before
he tried on the Mirror Riker’s violent persona and
Shooting to his feet, he quickly blocked out his
emotions. It was too painful and there wasn’t any time
for analysis. He had to do what needed to be done.
He’d go over all of it in the shuttle on his way back
home. For now, to stay alive, he had to keep on with
the charade, no matter what it cost him.
Tearing through the drawers, he searched for a
computer, a PADD, anything that would store
information. He’d come here wanting to learn more
about the First Commander and ended up learning more
than he’d ever wanted to know. What other pieces of
knowledge would pop up to surprise and disgust him?
He wasn’t sure.
Bending down, he felt beneath the bed along the thick
gray carpet. His hand hit something hard, metallic.
It felt about the size of a 20th century laptop
Pulling it out, his face formed a ghost of a smile.
It was indeed a computer. He opened the tiny view
screen, and fingered the row of buttons on the front.
Without a word from him, without punching in a secret
code, the screen blazed to life.
“Why First Commander Riker. I do believe that I’ve
Will felt his blood run cold, felt his body break into
a cold sweat. It was her.
Deanna’s face stared out at him from the screen and
his heart flipped over.
Emotion choked him, strangling him, cutting off his
ability to speak. It was more than the fear of
punishment and torture. It was the soul-clenching
certainty that he might never see his Deanna again if
the Intendant had her way. Gods, this woman, this
beautiful woman, held his fate in the palm of her
He had to escape. He had to find the real First
Commander-now. There was no more time for games. He
wasn’t about to spend any more time in a cell, and he
sure as hell wasn’t up for getting beheaded. No, he
was going to get the hell out. No matter what the
Dredging up a smile, Will waved at the Intendant and
winked. Then he murmured softly, “Catch me if you
can, Darling,” and bolted for the door.
Will ran for the door, slid through as it slipped
open, and skidded out into the empty corridor; his
heart blazing a throbbing tattoo in his chest.
Running blindly, he let his feet take him where they
wanted him to go, unwilling to question his instincts.
They had helped him to stay alive this long; surely
they'd keep him safe until he got out off the station
and back where he belonged.
Taking a turbo lift, he tried to recall where the bar
had been. Guessing, he jumped off at the seventh
level, hoping that his memory hadn't failed him. He
turned to the right, walking breathlessly past a large
group of Klingons, then ducked left. The bar was
right where he'd left it. Will grinned in relief, and
tugged down his tight leather shirt, hoping to look
more casually at ease than he felt. This Guinan would
be able to read him just as well as his own could, a
fact that he could not afford to forget.
Sidling up onto a painfully hard metal stool, he
glanced around the room, making sure no one had
followed him. When it was obvious that he was in the
clear, Will motioned for the bartender and smiled.
Looking like an angry, African goddess, the Mirror
Guinan turned in a circle to face him, sending her
long, black robes swirling around her feet.
"What the hell are you doing here, First Commander?"
Her non-existent brows had shot to her hairline and
her dark eyes were so wide he could see the full ring
of white that surrounded them. Belatedly, he
remembered their last conversation. She thought that
he was dead-executed by the Intendant. Apparently
word hadn’t reached “Guinan’s” that he’d survived the
He leaned towards her, hoping to instill confidence,
but she backed away so quickly that he expected her to
invoke a hex sign against him. “Surprised to see me?”
he murmured, smiling into her eyes.
“That, First Commander, would be the understatement of
the year. I thought you were dead! Word had it that
the Intendant was going to string you up and make you
into a new decoration for her torture chamber. What
changed her mind?”
“You know how she is-fickle as hell. Apparently she
wasn’t finished with me yet, if you know what I mean.”
Will wiggled his eyebrows, and winked at the
bartender, pretending to flirt.
She folded her arms and frowned at him. Something
didn’t feel quite right, something was off, but she
wasn’t quite sure what it was.
“First Commander, I don’t think you’re telling me
everything. Something’s going on, and I’d like to
know what it is.” In the heat of her angry glare,
Will felt his tongue move involuntarily in his mouth,
forming words before he was ready to speak them.
"Actually I'm hoping that you can tell me that,
The brows rose even further, and the angry look
changed, turning briefly into unconcealed interest.
"Look, I don’t know why you’re still alive, and to
tell you the truth, I don’t much care. Are you
looking for a little action? Is that why you’re here?
I mean, you’re definitely my type, but I’m not
willing to risk the bitch's wrath just to get a taste
of you." Her large dark eyes undressed him
thoroughly, and Will blushed, unable to even begin to
imagine the real Guinan making such moves.
"I've heard you can blow a man's head off in the sack,
Guinan," he improvised, the words sounding hilariously
improper to his ears. "I'd love to give you a shot one
night, but that's not what I came here for today."
" I see." The interest faded, the lines in her face
drew up into tense creases, her mouth into a stubborn,
flat line of flesh. "Well then, First Commander Riker,
why don't you tell me what you ARE doing here? I’d
like to know what’s going on, but I do have a bar to
run you know. I don't have all day to sit and talk to
Stung, he grabbed her hand, and gamely tried for a
flirtatious grin. "Hey, is that any way to talk to the
man who wants you?"
"You want me? That's a laugh. I think I'm the only
woman aboard the station you haven't dipped your wick
in. Why don't you cut the bullshit and tell me what's
really going on?"
It wasn't going to work. With Beverly it would've
been perfect, perhaps even the Intendant herself could
be swayed by his charm and wit. But not Guinan. He
should've known that this woman, no matter what
universe she was living in, would cut straight through
the b.s. and get to the truth.
Sighing, he leaned back and motioned for her to bring
over a pitcher of ale. She poured him a glass,
knocked back a large one herself, and then leaned
towards him, tapping her fingers on the bar. "I'm
Will drew a breath and blew it out again, debating.
Should he trust her? If anyone here would know the
whereabouts of the real First Commander it would be
Guinan. And she'd be a lot safer to take into his
confidence than Deanna's twin. She might be a
Betazoid, but she was one dangerous bitch and he
wasn't about to risk his life again just to find out a
little information. "All right, Guinan. I'll tell
you why I'm here. But you have to keep what I tell you
"And why should I do that?"
"Because I will give you anything you want, do
anything you say if you keep your word."
He glanced behind him, feeling certain that the
Intendant's red talons were inches away from grasping
his collar and yanking him off the bar stool. Then he
leaned over to whisper in her ear. "Can you keep a
"You've known me for almost ten years now, Riker. I
would think you already knew the answer to that."
"Actually that's exactly what I wanted to talk to you
about. You see, I haven't known you for years. We
only just met the other day."
She backed away, looking at him like he'd gone crazy.
"What are you talking about? Is this some kind of
game? Because if it is, I'm not in the mood to play,
He chuckled. "You can drop the title, Guinan. I'm not
First Commander Riker."
Stunned, she nearly dropped the crystal glass she'd
been holding. "Then who the hell are you?"
"I am Commander William T. Riker of the Federation
Recognition filled her eyes and she set the glass
down, studying his face intently.
"You're...from that other universe, aren't you?"
He waited a beat, taking a sip of his ale, then
nodded. "Yes, I am."
"I don't understand. Why are you here? Why did you
assume our Riker's identity? What are you hoping to
gain by coming here? You know I'll have to report
this, don't you?"
"No, don't do that. Please. Look, the only reason I
came to you was that in my world, on my ship, you and
I are close. We are good friends. My Guinan is
always there for me, she'd never let me down. And I'm
willing to bet, neither would you."
He paused, letting his words sink in, hoping that
beneath that hardened face there was a mind and heart
as loving and giving as the real Guinan's were.
She backed away, pacing the small space behind the
bar, completely ignoring the rest of her customers.
Slowly, she came to a stop, and then opened the door
to the stockroom. "Calyndra, come out front. Take the
bar for me for an hour or so."
"I'm coming," came a small, quivery voice from the
In a few moments a tall, bald, blue-skinned woman
appeared, and moved down the bar to gather drink
orders from the group of customers at the end of the
Guinan motioned for Will to grab a booth at the
furthest end of the room, and he slid into it,
nervously scanning the small crowd.
"Don't worry, she won't be coming in here. At least,
not yet. Word has is she's busy with Second Commander
Worf right now."
Guinan's mouth twisted into a smirk. "I take it you
didn't know about them?"
Will rolled his eyes. "I don't know much of anything
right now. I'm not First Commander Riker. I've been
here little over two days and I've never met any of
you before! "
"Right. Okay, so what's the story? Why come and tell
me? What do you expect me to do for you?"
"Keep my secret. And, one other thing..."
"Tell me where I can find the real First Commander."
Her silence told him many things. She knew where he
was, Will could feel it. But, she did not want to
tell him. She was keeping secrets for someone else,
and the struggle showed on her face. Part of her
wanted to tell him what he wanted to know, but the
other part knew it would be deadly to allow such a
thing to slip. Especially to an off-worlder.
Finally, she broke the heavy silence. "I do not know
who you are or why you are here, but I have no reason
to trust you. For all I know, you could be First
Commander Riker's duplicate, sent here by him to spy
on us all. He has certainly used that trick before,
and for some of us, the consequences for opening our
mouths was deadly."
His face paled visibly. "Do you mean that there are
two Will Rikers in this universe?
"Yes there are. You see, before he came to work for
the Intendant, our Riker was in a transporter accident
on Araldas 6. I don't know the whole story, but
apparently, he beamed down to the planet for supplies
for his cargo ship, and when he beamed back aboard, a
duplicate of him was left down on the planet. It was
nearly a decade before he found out about his "twin".
Shock knocked him back in his seat, his stomach
churning with emotion and recognition. Thinking of
Tom, he clenched his teeth and pressed his eyes
closed, rubbing the bridge of his nose between two
fingers. Great, not only were there two Rikers back
in his universe, now there were two in this one as
well. He didn't know whether to be ill or to fall
into hysterical laughter.
"Jesus, can this get any worse?" he muttered, grabbing
his glass from the tabletop and guzzling it as though
it were ice water.
"I don' t know. Why don't you tell me more and we
will find out?" Her gaze held him, making him feel
almost as comfortable as his own bartender's usually
Swallowing hard, he started. "All right. How about if
we make a deal? I tell you why I'm here and who I am,
in exchange for information about your Riker."
She considered. "Why should I risk my life for you? I
don' t even know you."
"True. But I think you'll do it because you want to.
My Guinan has a streak of curiosity that's a
mile-wide, and if I walk out of here, get off the
station alive and go back home.... well, you'll never
know will you?" A teasing glint filled his blue eyes
and she was momentarily intrigued.
"I hate to admit it but you've got a point. All
right. It's a deal. But you first...."
He grinned, nodded, then began his story. He told her
all about his universe, it's Federation, its
starships, being very careful not to divulge any thing
that might be used against them if these people were
to ever cross over into his universe again.
He told her about his assignment; again, being very
vague, embellishing just enough to make it
interesting. When he finally finished, she sat back
in her chair and stared at him. "Well, Mr. Riker, now
"Yes. When I saw you in here the other day, your mind
felt different to me. Much like the Intendant, I have
empathic powers of my own. I knew that something did
not feel right, but I let it pass, never thinking that
you were anyone except who you said you were. Now
that I've spoken to you though, I can feel the
"Are we anything alike, Guinan?"
"Only in looks. Oh he might weigh a few pounds less
than you do, and he wears his beard in a different
style, but other than that, you are perfect physical
"How about our minds?"
She grimaced. "That's where the differences lie. He
is ruthless, vain, and obsessed with power and
violence. He likes to kill, that one does. He also
has no conscience, and judging from the feel of your
mind right now, I'd say that you do."
Thinking of Beverly, and of how he'd desired the
little Bajoran, he winced. "God, is it that obvious?"
"Only to someone who can feel your emotions, Mr.
Riker." He didn't bother to correct her. Commander,
Mr., whatever--as long as she kept his secrets. As
long as she told him hers.
Will sighed loudly, and scanned the room again,
wondering when the Intendant and her henchmen were
going to find him. "I don't have much time, Guinan. I
need to know what you know about the First Commander."
She nodded. "I understand. All right...I can tell you
this much...if he’s still alive, then he is probably
still aboard this station."
"And his twin?"
"Don't worry about him. Riker pulled that ruse on us
twice, but it was many years ago. The last I heard,
he was working at a Klingon Base Camp on Coralis
Prime. That's in another quadrant entirely. No, I
don't think you'll have to worry about running into
"Well that's one good thing at least. So where's the
First Commander hiding himself?"
Guinan's dark eyes grew darker and a frown touched her
full lips. "I believe that he is being punished, Mr.
Riker. In ways that you know nothing about. Ways that
you do not want to know anything about."
"Punished? For what? I don't understand. The
Intendant just had me in a cell, punishing me for
things that her Riker had done. She thought I was him,
Guinan. She is after me now, believing that I've
escaped my prison cell. I don't get it. If she
didn’t put him in this “dungeon” than who did? "
It was her turn to sigh. "Mr. Riker, there are things
within this universe, aboard this very station, that
you do not understand. Things you don't know anything
about. And would be better off not knowing."
Will cracked a smile. "Enigmatic as always, aren't
A vague smiled hovered about her lips and she
continued. "All I can tell you is that all is not what
it seems. Now, the Intendant may very well have been
fooled by your little game, she may think that her
Riker has been unfaithful, that he's escaped his cell.
And she may be planning your punishment even as we
speak. I do not know.
What I can tell you, is that one moment the First
Commander was herding prisoners into their cells and
arranging for their executions, and the next moment he
had disappeared. Then, you showed up, and we all
assumed that he was still here."
"Disappeared? Where? How?"
"I don't know. I'm not psychic or even telepathic, I
can only sense emotions. But I can tell you this...I
have not sensed him in days. When I saw you, sensed
your mind, it was different, but I assumed that it was
him. Now that I feel the difference, I realize that I
have not sensed him at all, that it's you whom I've
been picking up."
"Wait a minute. The Intendant is empathic too.
Wouldn't she sense that I am not her Riker? For that
matter, wouldn't she sense it if he were ill, or
"Mmm...that's a good question. I can only assume that
one of two things has happened: A) She has had him
killed and is hoping to use you to take his place, or
B) She genuinely does not know that you are not her
Riker, and assumes that "He" has escaped from
"The second one makes more sense to me. But I still
don't see how she could mistake me for him. My Deanna
Troi can sense me light-years away, and she's never
mistaken me for my brother."
"You have a brother, Mr. Riker?"
"I suppose that's a word you could use, Guinan.
Believe it or not, I had a transporter accident of my
own several years ago. Tom is the result of that
"Fascinating. So some things are the same in your
universe as they are here. I would be interested to
know what else our worlds have in common."
"And I would love to tell you. But it'll have to be
some other time. I've been here too long-I really need
to get moving. What else can you tell me?"
"Only this. There is a secret chamber on the first
level of this station. They call it the "dungeon".
I've heard stories about prisoners being trapped in
there for months or years at a time. According to the
rumors, it is a difficult place to get out of. Those
who do are mad by the time they find their way out.
Traps, mazes, torture devices...all of these designed
to keep someone imprisoned until they lose their
minds. Or worse."
"Worse? What could be worse than that?"
"Have you ever watched a man try to release himself
from handcuffs and chains, Mr. Riker?"
"I can't say that I have."
"It's not something you'd care to see. I have not seen
anything personally, but my patrons tell me that the
few men who have escaped are either completely insane
or have died in the act of trying to gnaw their way
out of their bonds."
"Jesus. And I thought my cozy little cell up on level
ten was bad."
"That was a four-star hotel compared to the "dungeon".
Now, I don't know for certain that he's down there,
but it's a good bet. It's up to you whether or not
you want to risk your life to find out."
Will felt as though his feet had sunk beneath the
metal floor they were so heavy. His shoulders felt as
though a 100-pound weight sat on top of them, and his
head began to pound along with the rhythm of the
glaring overhead lights.
He didn't need this. Screw it. For all he knew, the
Intendant bought his act hook line and sinker. Tonight
he would worm his way into her good graces, her bed,
if he had to, and make his escape in the morning. If
the First Commander were indeed trapped beneath this
hellhole, then he would just have to stay there. Will
wasn't about to die trying to save this guy who was by
all accounts, a total, flaming asshole.
"Thank-you for telling me, Guinan. I know you've
risked a lot to give me that information. I appreciate
"You're welcome. Maybe someday you can tell me more
about your universe, your Guinan. If you ever make it
back this way."
"No offense, but I don't ever plan on coming back here
"I can't say that I blame you. Now, what are you going
to do next? Do you have a plan in mind?"
"Only to fake my way through one more night here and
then get the hell out in the morning."
Silence filled the space between them, and then she
reached for his hand, giving it a solid squeeze. "If
you need help, you know where to find me."
"Why Guinan, I'm shocked. Why would you risk your life
for me? Why would you help me?"
"Damned if I know. I can't stand our Riker,
personally, but I've always found him attractive. I
suppose I can't completely resist the combination of
his face and your personality. You're a hell of a lot
nicer than he is."
"I'll take that has a compliment, Guinan. And,
thank-you. I know I can trust you to keep things
"Just remember what I said, Mr. Riker. You are a good
man with a strong conscience. It won't let you leave
this station without at least attempting to discover
if our Riker is down there. Be careful. He isn't
worth losing your life over."
Will stood up and nodded. "You're right. I won't
forget. And, Guinan?"
"It's really good to see you again."
She smiled at him, rose to her feet, and then moved
back to the bar, never looking back.
“Get up you bitch!” The voice stung, but did not hurt
half as much as the stinging slap that followed.
Beverly reeled back in her cell, falling against
Dukat’s heavy, semi-conscious form. Gingerly holding
her reddened cheek, she struggled to her feet.
“What the hell was that for?”
The Intendant frowned at her. Her dark eyes glared
through Bev’s head, piercing the wall behind it with
invisible arrows. “What do you think it was for,
Crusher? You know precisely why I am here.”
Beverly sighed, and stood erect, forcing herself to
make eye contact. “Look, nothing happened between the
First Commander and I. We ate, we talked, we slept.
That’s it. I’m sorry to disappoint you, Intendant
Troi, but nothing else happened. You have no reason to
punish me further.” Her blue eyes were blazing, her
mind frantically trying to keep out images of her
torrid night with Riker. It was more difficult than
she’d imagined. Every time she tried to push him out
of her mind, there he was again; a gorgeously handsome
fantasy that reminded her instantly of his touch, and
of the way he made her feel. How could she hide that
from an empathic Betazoid?
Luckily, her years as Riker’s mistress had taught her
a few things about blocking her thoughts. She wasn’t
perfect, but certainly was proficient. Proficient
enough to keep from getting killed for over nine
years-not a bad record for someone who was fully human
and had no empathic skill whatsoever.
Her aim was to continue to stay alive, and so the
only thing to do was to somehow get into the
Intendant’s good graces again. She smiled sweetly at
the other woman, and lowered her eyes deferentially.
Reaching out one hand, she touched Deanna’s face
gently, lovingly, as a child might touch the face of
its beloved Mother. “You know I respect you,
Intendant. I would no more hurt you than I would hurt
my own son.”
“I believe you genuinely feel that way, dear Crusher.
You love me. You respect me. You would never dare
risk death by disobeying me. And yet…”
“And yet, what, Intendant? Haven’t I been a faithful
servant to you? Didn’t I leave Earth to come here and
join you in your takeover of this station almost a
decade ago? I’ve left my son with his father on our
home world so that I could be here with you, to serve
by your side. I haven’t seen him since then…” her
voice caught, broke a bit, and then gained strength.
“Haven’t I always sworn to uphold your rule? To
protect you no matter the personal costs to my own
life? Haven’t I been everything you’ve always wanted
me to be and more?”
Beverly’s eyes filled with tears, and she reached to
wipe them with the back of her sleeve. The thought of
her darling little boy Wesley growing up without her,
and the image of her beloved husband living a life
that would never again include her…it was just too
much. She broke down and sobbed; partly for the loss
of her family, partly in fear for her life. If the
Intendant had some how discovered her indiscretion
with the First Commander, she would surely be
executed. And then she would never have the chance to
even imagine seeing her family again. As least while
she lived, she could pretend that they would one day
Lifting her head, she looked into the Intendant’s
exotically beautiful face, and hoped to see compassion
and trust. She searched the depths of the coal-dark
eyes, but saw nothing that resembled those softer
emotions. Instead, what she saw reflected there was
impatience and pent-up rage. Deanna Troi looked as
though she would like nothing more than to cheerfully
strangle her devoted servant, and Beverly cringed
“Crusher, my dear, I must admit that you have been
everything you’ve said and more. I could not have
taken over this station and risen to power without you
behind me. Without you at my side. And, yet, you are
the one person who betrays me at every turn. You have
been sleeping with my consort for the past nine years.
Oh, don’t think I wasn’t aware of it. I have my
spies all over this station and they’ve kept me
informed every step of the way. That was bad enough,
but I could turn a blind eye as long as I did not have
to witness your betrayals. Now though, I’ve seen
first hand what it is that you and Riker do together,
how you touch one another, how you kiss and caress one
another. How he makes you scream. I’ve seen you
making love with a man that belongs to me, and that
was the final straw.”
Beverly’s face turned six shades of crimson and her
hands shook at her sides.
“W…what on Earth are you talking about?”
Troi smirked and whipped out a slim black PADD from
back pocket. Flipping it open, she touched a button
and the small screen came to vivid life. Color and
sound blared forth, drawing Beverly’s eyes to the
scene playing out before her, and as she watched, she
felt her heart fall to her stomach. It was she and
Riker, vigorously making love in this very cell, only
a night ago. Bev leaned over and groaned, as though
she’d been punched in the stomach, and the tears came
again, fast and furious.
“I…I…I’m sorry, Intendant. It’s not Riker’s fault,
please don’t hurt him. I was the one who was
determined to have him. I seduced him that night. He
never would’ve gone against your orders if I hadn’t
egged him on.”
Troi’s eyes widened and she leaned closer, reaching
into Beverly’s mind with her senses, as her hands
grabbed the woman’s shoulders. Moments later she drew
away, her face clouded with a tangle of emotion.
“You…you are in love with him, aren’t you?”
Cheeks blooming with embarassed color, Beverly could
only nod. Obviously her brave attempt at erecting a
mental barrier against Troi’s empathic senses had
“Yes. But unfortunately for me, he seems to love only
you. Oh I believe he might care for me as a friend.
As a lover. But he is not “in love” with me.”
“That hurts you doesn’t it?”
“Good. I’m glad to hear it. For what you both have
done, you deserve to feel a little pain, Crusher. How
dare you not only sleep with the one man in the
universe who is truly my destiny, my Imzadi, and then
fall in love with him? Did you really expect him to
love you back?” She laughed then; a bitter, hollow
sound that evidenced just how incredible the idea was.
“I’ve known him a lot longer than you have darling,
and he is not a loving, emotional man. He is violent,
wicked, sadistic, and evil. He doesn’t know the
meaning of the word “love”. I’m surprised that after
all of these years you haven’t learned that.”
There was nothing Beverly could say in response. She
had been a fool. But it wouldn’t be the first time a
woman had made a fool of herself over Will Riker, and
it certainly wouldn’t be the last.
Hanging her head, she got down on her knees and
grabbed Troi’s hands, kissing the onyx ring that
circled her index finger. “Forgive me, Intendant.
She snatched her hand back so quickly that the ring
left a long, red scratch up the soft white skin of
Bev’s cheek. “I don’t think so. Not this time. You
see, if I don’t make an example of you, then all of
the other whores on board this station will think that
they can make a fool of me as well. They’ll think
that I will sanction their affairs with Riker, allow
them to do anything they want behind my back. Well
not any more. I’m through letting that bastard give
free-reign to his libido. And you will be proof of
that. In three hours, I will gather everyone in the
Chamber for your going-away party. You will hang once
again from the Circle, only this time; no one will
take you down and allow you to rest. No, this time
you will spin until you are ill, until you are begging
me to untie you, and then, when you’re certain you’ve
gone mad, I will drive a sword right through that big,
lovely, heart of yours. What do you say to that, my
Beverly opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came
out. Her face grew pale and beads of sweat slicked
her forehead. As she stared at the woman she had
given up her life for, she felt her legs buckle and
give out beneath her. And then she fell to the floor
in a dead faint.
The Intendant smiled, and walked over to the
semi-conscious form of Dukat, who had passed out on
the floor of the cell. He’d heard everything. In the
heat of her anger, she’d completely forgotten him; had
not noticed him at all. Well, something had to be
done. She couldn’t have one of her guards be privy to
such personal information. It would get around the
station in mere seconds. No, unfortunately, Dukat was
in the wrong place at the wrong time. He would have
Tonight, there would be two sacrifices on the Circle.
Will left the bar, scouted out the nearest restroom
and availed himself of the facilities. At the sink,
he stared at his reflection, seeing shadows of
exhaustion bloom beneath his eyes. He was beat. Done
in. Ready to snooze at the slightest provocation.
Checking his chrono, he saw that it was only 1800
hours. Not anywhere close to bedtime. But the events
of the past few days were rapidly catching up with
him, and he needed some shut-eye before planning his
Slipping out of the restroom doors, and glanced left
then right, seeing no heavily-armed guards, no
angry-looking Klingons, no voluptuous Betazoid intent
on doing him harm. He snuck to across the way to the
dining hall, feeling his stomach growl loudly at the
very thought of food. How long had it been since
breakfast? Eons, surely. It was risky to go to such
a public place, but he was starving, and his only
other option would be to have dinner in the First
Commander’s quarters using his replicator. The
thought of being alone in that room with the sick
holos and paraphernalia turned his stomach. Not to
mention, that would be the first place she would look
Hell with it, he thought. If she comes for me, she
comes for me. I’m going to eat, damn it.
Walking briskly into the room, his eyes scanned the
tables, taking in each face, wondering who these
people were, and how many of them wanted him dead. In
the far right corner, an empty table beckoned, and he
snagged it, collapsing onto the hard wood as though it
were a feather bed. Motioning for a server, he hid a
smile when she began to move towards him. A tall,
cool, blonde with huge breasts and a tiny lavender
two-piece uniform swayed towards him, bearing a
serving tray in on hand and a PADD in the other.
Her large gray eyes swept over him, taking his
measure, and even in his current condition, his ego
summoned the strength to be flattered. “What can I
get for you, First Commander?” She did not seemed
surprised to see him, nor did any of the hall’s
current occupants. Perhaps Guinan had been wrong
about the real First Commander’s whereabouts.
“Give me a pitcher of ale, an angus steak cooked
well-done, two baked potatoes, and a hot fudge
“Wow, you are hungry, aren’t you?”
“Always,” he replied, grinning at her with a hint of
his mischievous charm.
Locking her eyes onto his, she leaned over just far
enough to give him a view of her well-developed
cleavage, and murmured, “If you’re still hungry after
dinner, you can come to my quarters. I get off in an
“Mmm…tempting. Very tempting. But the Intendant will
miss me if I am not available to her tonight. Maybe
some other time.”
“Maybe,” she said, winking. Then she walked away,
leaving him to wonder how in the hell the First
Commander did it. Did he really screw all of these
women? Did he have them on a string, one for every
night of the week? Frowning, he shook his head. It
was becoming difficult to keep playing a role that was
so close to the man he used to be. He was great at
being a cad, a seductress, and he knew it. Hell, if
he wasn’t already filled with guilt for sleeping with
Beverly, and if there were no Deanna Troi living
inside of his heart, he would gladly fuck the tall
blonde right here on the table after closing hours. No
Just the thought conjured up unwelcome images in his
mind, and an unwelcome tightness in his pants
followed. Great. Just what he needed. There had to
be a 24th-century equivalent of saltpeter. Something
to eat or drink that would make him as limp as a wet
noodle so that every time he had the urge to stray,
his body would betray him.
Shifting uncomfortably in his chair, he pushed all
thoughts of sex from his mind and let his eyes roam
the room, scouting out familiar faces. In one corner
there was a man who looked suspiciously like Geordi.
In the middle of the room at a larger table, the mix
of people included many different races and sexes,
most unfamiliar to him. But at the far end, sat a man
who he recognized instantly. It was the Cardassian
he’d seen on DS9. Garak was his name.
He watched the man eat, fingers tearing apart a plate
full of glistening, wiry meat that looked about as
appetizing as whale-vomit. Hunched over his food,
Garak was eating so fast there was no time to chew.
His ridged forehead shone sliver beneath the ceiling’s
glowing blue lights, and Will wondered, not for the
first time, what the reason was for the spoon-shaped
protrusion that nestled directly in the center of the
As though sensing Will’s stare, he lifted his eyes
from his plate and smiled. Wiping his mouth with a
napkin, he nodded to Will. Then he motioned for him
to come to his table. Shaking his head, Will motioned
back for him to come to his instead, and the
Cardassian nodded again, smiling secretively as he got
to his feet.
“Ah, if it isn’t First Commander Riker.”
“In the flesh.”
“Go ahead, have a seat.”
“Thank-you. Now, I must say that I am surprised to
see you here. After all, rumor has it that you were
taken below for a little “punishment.”
Will laughed and leaned back in his chair, inwardly
wondering just how much Garak knew about his
counterpart’s whereabouts. “Rumor also had it that I
was to be executed last night. And yet, here I am,
alive and well. You can’t always believe what you
“True, true. And yet I am curious. Tell me, why did
the Intendant allow you to live? I would’ve thought
that she’d have tossed you into solitary confinement
and left you there to rot. You know how her temper
“I certainly do. Actually, she did have me in a cell.
But as you can see, I discovered a way to escape.”
Garak’s light eyes glittered at the thought of it. He
loved nothing more than intrigue, especially if it
involved those in power aboard the station. Leaning
closer to Will, he steepled his fingers and said, “Do
“Now you don’t really think I would tell you how I
made my escape do you? For all I know you’re on
patrol for me even as we speak, preparing to deliver
me into the Intendant’s waiting hands.”
“And if I were…?”
“Then I’d be out of here like a bat out of hell.”
“And yet, here you sit, calmly awaiting your meal.
You know, you really are a very interesting man,
First Commander. Frankly, I’ve always wondered why
you didn’t kill off the Intendant and take over
control of the station yourself.”
Will’s brows rose. “Really? Then I take it you’re
telling me that you aren’t on her side? That she
didn’t send you after me?”
“I’m afraid not. In fact, I hadn’t even heard that
you’d escaped your imprisonment. The station’s
grapevine must be withering.”
They grinned at each other just as the serving girl
came with Will’s food. Sitting the hefty plate in
front him, she poured him a glass of ale from the
pitcher, and then sat the dripping sundae off to the
side. “There you are, First Commander. May I get you
“That won’t be necessary.”
“Then I will wish you a good evening, Sir. I hope to
see you again soon.”
“I’m sure you will.” Locking his eyes onto hers just
long enough to make her blush, he chuckled and tucked
into his food.
“My my. You are quite the ladies’ man aren’t you?”
“What can I say? They like me.”
“Yes, I’ve noticed. Tell me, does the Intendant know
“Mmm…” he swallowed, took a sip of ale, and surveyed
the room. Then responded. “I think she does. There
are no secrets when you’re this far out in space on a
station this size. But she’s never caught me and has
no proof. So for now, I have nothing to worry about.”
“Indeed? How lovely for you.” Garak grinned at
Riker, and then prepared to say something more, when
the tiny PADD in his pocket chimed.
“Excuse me, won’t you?” he said, and turned away to
Will continued eating, mildly curious about the
Cardassian’s message, and wondered silently what his
next move was going to be. He thought briefly of
searching for the real First Commander as soon as his
meal was finished, but thought better of it. First he
needed a few hours of sleep. Then he could prowl to
his heart’s content.
Idly, he realized that he’d been concentrating so
much on his own survival for the past few days, that
all thought of his mission had flown out of the
window. Granted, with everything that had happened to
him so far, there hadn’t been much time for leisurely
perusal of the Mirror Universe’s secret documents.
But he must find them before leaving the station.
That was, after all, why he was here. If he went back
to Captain Picard empty-handed, then the trip would’ve
been for nothing. Everything he’d gone through so
far, would be for nothing.
Swallowing a long gulp of ale, he recalled Picard’s
face before he’d left the Enterprise and the measured
words he’d spoken. “Starfleet Command is suspicious
that the recent kidnappings and murders on Cardassia
Prime are the work of members of the Alliance in the
Mirror Universe. We have reason to believe that
they’ve opened the rift between our worlds and used it
to not only steal and kill our people, but also to
obtain our latest top-secret intelligence on the our
efforts to help the Cardassians rebuild their world.
We believe that they are planning to overtake the
planet in their own universe, and with the knowledge
that “our” Cardassians can give them; it will be an
Now, in the past, I would not have been so quick to
help them. But after the Dominion’s destruction of
their homeworld, and their willingness to fight
side-by-side with us against them…I just cannot see my
way clear to sanction the further destruction of their
world and their people. I want you to go there,
Number One. Find that rift in space/time and make
your way to these co-ordinates. Until we have more
information on exactly what their plans are, we cannot
be of much help to the Cardassians."
Fork half way to his mouth, Will snapped out of his
trance, realizing that he’d been mentally gone for
nearly two minutes. He pushed the mouthful in,
swallowed, and then pushed his plate away, completely
ignoring the melting bowl of ice cream.
“So, you’ve returned, First Commander. I am sorry to
have momentarily left our conversation. It was quite
stimulating. Unfortunately, I seem to have lost your
“What? Oh, sorry. I was in another world.”
“Obviously. Now that you’re back, would you like to
know who that was?”
“Not really. You’re business, not mine.”
“Well, normally that would be true. And I am, as you
know, secretive by nature. But this time I think that
you will be quite interested to know who contacted
“I’ll bite…who was it?”
Garak smiled slowly, obviously relishing the moment.
Rubbing his scaly hands together, he looked over
Will’s shoulder and back again. “It was your lover,
First Commander. The Intendant. With a message.”
Will felt goose bumps prick the skin on his arms and
his back felt as though someone had just poured an
ice-cold shot of water down his shirt. “A message for
“For me, directly. Indirectly, I’d say it was for
you. You see, she wanted to let me know that there
was going to be an execution tonight. A certain
leggy, blue-eyed, redhead. I believe you know her
Numbness crept through his arms, his legs, his torso.
He felt planted to the seat of his chair with shock.
She was going to kill Beverly tonight. “I take it she
wanted you to serve as guard?”
“Precisely. I am to come to the Chamber in
approximately three hours to witness the execution as
she carries it out.”
Will nearly choked on his own saliva. “She's going to
kill Beverly Crusher herself? But that’s….” he nearly
said the wrong thing, and then recalled exactly what
his counterpart’s job was aboard the station.
Collecting himself, he continued, “What I mean is,
that’s usually MY job. Why the hell has she suddenly
decided to take over?”
“I’m afraid you’ll have to take that up with her,
He felt sick to his stomach. The Intendant killing
Beverly. It was as horrific and unbelievable as the
idea of his own Deanna killing her best friend. It
was too much.
Shooting to his feet, he wiped his mouth on his sleeve
and glared down at Garak, his blue eyes shining with
anger and fear. “Where is she? Where has she taken
“I would think that you of all people would know the
answer to that, First Commander.”
Damn. He couldn’t just come out and ask Garak where
the Chamber was located. It would blow his tenuous
cover all to hell. His mind raced, and then he
grabbed Garak by the collar and pulled him to his
feet. “What are you doing? What is this about?”
“This is about you helping me, Garak. Take me there.
I want you as my bodyguard. I want you to have my
back in case the Intendant decides to kill me too.
What do you say?”
“All right. Follow me…I promise to do what I can to
protect you. But, I’m risking a lot, First Commander.
I have pledged my loyalty to the Intendant. She will
not be happy to know that I’ve suddenly changed
“Don’t worry. I won’t let anything happen to you.”
Garak sighed loudly, then shrugged, moving towards the
“I suppose I’ll just have to trust you.”
Following the Cardassian out the doors, Will felt his
heart slamming against his ribcage. He did not want
to die. There were too many things to do, too many
people he cared about. But he could not allow the
Intendant to kill Beverly.
Steadying his gait, breathing deeply, he closed his
eyes and tried to send his thoughts from one universe
to the next while he still had the chance. “I’ve got
to do this, Imzadi. I have to save her. I promise to
come back to you safely. If you’ll have me.
I love you…"
His heart ached with emotion, and he shook his head,
pressing it down into the furthest reaches of his
soul. Wallowing in longing for Deanna wouldn’t save
Beverly. Nor would it save his own skin. It was once
again time for action, and as he followed Garak into
the dark depths of the station, he knew that he was
ready for it.
He could almost hear her before they arrived at the
Chamber’s entrance. A long, low wail filled the
corridor, punctuated by gasping sobs and an insistent
repetition of the word “no”. Beverly’s voice carried
far and wide, and Will could see the other occupants
of the station cringe as they listened to the
punishment in progress. A few coldhearted stares from
the group of Cardassians in the antechamber told Will
that this was not the first time they had been witness
to such degradation-nor would it be the last.
Moving through the dramatically lit antechamber, Will
followed Garak through the throngs of people trying to
gain access to the event, and pressed himself against
the doors, hands flattened against the rough metallic
surface. His fingers felt for a latch, a series of
buttons, anything to fling the damned thing open, but
Garak, much more familiar with the station’s nuances,
simply pushed Will aside and uttered, “Open main
Chamber door. Authorization Garak 217 alpha.” In an
instant, they were thrown through the doors by the
crush of people behind them, and as Will landed on his
ass, Garak forced the doors closed by hand, then
called for it to lock.
Will tried to catch his breath as he looked around
the room. The area was easily four times the size of
the room that had held his prison cell, and ten times
as vile. The walls were covered with thick black
leather over metal supports, and the ceiling rose
hundreds of feet above his head. Directly in the
middle of the room, a large wheel-like contraption sat
upon a glistening silver pedestal, spinning madly
around as though it were a small Ferris wheel that had
tossed itself off its mooring and fled its circus home
to reside on Terok Nor. The wheel was perhaps seven
feet by five feet; large enough to hold most humans
and Cardassians. Klingons, were probably a different
matter, Will thought irreverently, trying to take in
the sight before his eyes without retching.
On the large spinning wheel, cuffed at the hands and
legs, was Beverly. Her naked body hung limp, the
flesh torn in hundreds of places where a whip’s lash
had ripped the skin from her bones. The scent of
blood filled the air, and Will cringed as it hit his
nostrils full force. The slim expanse of her white
skin was dotted with drizzles of the warm, wet fluid,
and it ran into a vast puddle beneath her feet. As
the wheel spun, it would stop for a moment, allowing
the Intendant to whip her prisoner again, then it
would begin to spin again, making its occupant dizzy
Conscious, but weakening under the assault, Beverly
cried out when she spotted Will. “Riker! You’ve come.
Thank the Gods! Please, help me…” her voice was
trailing off as her strength ran out of her body along
with her blood. Her eyes were shadowed, her lip
crushed and bleeding where she had bitten it. She
looked like holy hell, Will thought grimly. He had to
get her off of there before she was killed. Before
Troi could beat her into unconsciousness and then
relieve her of her head.
The Intendant was so intent upon her prey that she
did not sense Will’s entry into the room. Garak,
cat-footed and silent, tiptoed behind her with all the
stealth that decades in the Obsidian Order could
grant, and slid a phaser up against her neck.
“You! What in the name of Betazed are you doing,
Garak? Are you in league with him?”
“What do you think, Intendant?”
Troi refused to move, to even turn and look at them.
Her beautiful face was focused solely on Beverly’s
body, and in her hands she held the sharpest,
deadliest weapon in the quadrant-a Klingon Batleth.
Will shook his head as he watched her, unable to
reconcile the image of Deanna Troi dressed in a tight
black metallic cat suit, holding a batleth, with the
image he held in his mind of his own Imzadi. She
looked erotically evil, temptation come to life. And
yet, she was a maniac; jealous, violent, and deadly.
In that instant he felt a strong rush of lust and
hatred throb through his veins. His hands longed to
grab her and throw her against the wall, while his
body longed to rip off her clothing and fuck her
senseless right there in front of everyone.
“Darling, that’s hardly appropriate. Your lover is
nearly dead and we have Garak for an audience. You
don’t really intend to screw me while they watch, now
She turned her head to stare at him, and he felt her
eyes pin him to the very patch of floor where he
stood. The cold within them felt like a blast of
Arctic wind from the Alaskan ocean, and he visibly
recoiled. Mentally, he girded himself against her,
and forced his thoughts into less sexual and more
“If that’s what you read in my thoughts, then maybe
you’d better try again, Intendant.”
Closing his eyes, he imagined snatching up the
batleth and swinging it into a wide arc, one that
would slice up through her viscera and out again,
leaving her entrails in a tangled pile on the floor.
Her eyes widened, and her 100-watt smile faded,
turning into a tight frown. “If you think you can
hurt me here with all of my guards watching, you’d
better think again. You cannot see them, but they are
here. Only yards away from you behind those black
curtains are fifty of my strongest warriors. Touch me
and you will be served up to the Regent for his
breakfast tomorrow. Understand?”
“Oh I understand all right. And I’m shaking in my
boots. You don’t scare me, babe. Not any more. Not
after all of our years together. I know you and I know
what you are capable of. You’d no more kill me than
you would your own Mother. Face it, you need me more
than any of these muscle-bound idiots you have
protecting you. You can’t afford to lose the one man
in this world who is willing to take your shit.”
Troi paled, her dark eyes beaming like wild ebony
fires. Still holding the controls that spun her
victim, she moved away from Garak’s phaser and stood
in front of Will, her beautiful face mere inches from
his own. “I do not appreciate your tone of voice,
First Commander. You may have gotten away with a lot
of things over the past decade,” she paused to toss a
scathing glance at Beverly, “ but not any longer. I
don’t know how you escaped, Darling, but you will be
punished again. My men were supposed to take you
below, but apparently they were unable to follow my
orders. I suppose I will have to take you down to the
dungeon myself-after I proceed to rid myself of this
“You can try it, bitch, but you won’t get anywhere.
In case you forgot, I am twice as big as you are, and
have killed twice as many people. I could crush you in
the palm of my hand like an insect, Intendant. You
might think that you’re the Queen of the Universe, but
I don’t give fuck about you. I think you’re nothing
but a cheap, sleazy, power-hungry bitch who frankly,
doesn’t deserve to be in charge of this station.”
“You bastard! How dare you speak to me that way!”
Dropping her controls, she flew at Will, flinging him
backwards. He held his stance, with a great deal of
effort, and grasped Troi by her forearms, pushing her
“Garak! Come take this bastard where he belongs.
And give him a nice, slow, painful death, would you?”
The Cardassian wandered over to the couple and stood
with his arms folded, smirking at them. “Well, I
would, but you see, I am now taking orders from the
First Commander. I’ve discovered that he is much
easier to work for than you, my dear.” Kneeling,
Garak scooped up the silver control box and slid it
into his back pocket.
“Now, if you’d care to let go of our Intendant, First
Commander, I will give you the means to provide your
mistress with means of escape.”
Will grinned at Garak over Troi’s head. “Good man.”
He moved towards the wheel again, dragging Troi in
tow behind him like a heavy sack of flour. Her small
body bounced against the floor as they moved, and she
cursed at him, most of the words an unintelligible
mixture of Betazoid and English.
“Let go of me you traitor! Guards! Now!!” she
screamed, and in an instant, the room was flooded with
hooded men, all carrying phasers.
Will dropped her on the floor, gripped his own
phaser, and slid the button to the kill setting. He
was panting, sweating, his body flushed with
adrenaline. This was it. He was either going to die
right here or he was going to dispatch as many of
these assholes to Kingdom Come as he could, save
Beverly, and then get the hell out. The second option
definitely had more appeal than the first, and so with
focus born out of decades of service to the Fleet, he
zeroed in on one of the faceless men and fired a beam
of hot, red pain directly into his groin. The man
clutched his privates and hung his head, groaning in
agony, giving Will a perfect headshot. In seconds,
the man was dead, and Will was onto the next one.
He grappled with two more, forced their phasers out
of their hands, and blasted them both at the same time
with two phasers at once. Troi sat in the corner of
the room, smugly urging on her protectors, all the
while crying out for Will’s defeat. It was good. Her
words only made him stronger, her hatred stirring his
to the boiling point. The rush of adrenaline, the
intense focus of the moment, the relief as each guard
met his end—all of it combined to give Will a high
like he’d never felt before.
Smiling, he called to Garak who was in the grips of a
large, burly guard taller than Mr. Homm. “Knife him!
Get his femoral artery, it’ll take him down in
Perplexed but resigned, Garak slid his knife out of
its holder and while the man attempted to decapitate
him with his phaser, Garak slid the blade home. The
guard screamed in agony and fell backwards, holding
his injured leg. Garak took the opportunity to beam
his head off of his body, leaving it twitching and
bloody upon the floor.
“Good job! Now look-behind you!” Garak turned just
in time to duck as the guard swung a small batleth
around his head. Will chuckled, and moved to take on
the next guard, feeling his body lifted and tossed to
the floor so quickly that he didn’t have time to
register what had happened. He looked up, eyes
blearily dancing in his skull, and found that he was
being pinned to the floor. Moving his feet up, he
pushed against the guard’s chest, and knocked him
solidly backwards, sliding his head into the far wall
with a wet sounding splatter. Will rose to his feet,
eyes searching the room, and found that most of the
fifty men were now dead or unconscious. Only a
handful of them were left, and two of them were
currently tangling with Garak in the corner. That
left the rest for him.
Edging around the room, he looked for booted feet
beneath the curtains, a slight whisp of fabric from
behind the tapestries. They were hiding. They’d gone
from filling the very room with their presence, to
ducking behind the curtains like frightened little
boys. Will grinned widely. It was going to be a
cinch to kill the rest of them.
Inching slowly, his hands brushed the silky curtains,
feeling for a face, a hand, a body. Suddenly, a hand
shot out and gripped his wrist, pulling him behind the
long black fabric and against the hard stone wall.
“Think you’ve got me now, is that it?”
The man did not speak, but merely held Will pinned
against the stone with his body, his hot breath rising
and falling in Will’s ear. “Get off me, you bastard!”
he cried, and kneed the man neatly in the testicles,
then stomped on his foot hard enough to break his
Will gripped the man’s head tightly and yanked hard,
down and to the right. His neck snapped like a twig,
his body falling to the floor in a lifeless heap.
Panting from the exertion, Will pulled aside curtain
and moved into the middle of the room again. Garak,
bloody but breathing, lie on his side next to a dead
man, attempting to bring himself to his feet. “First
Commander would you be so kind as to help me to my
feet? I’m afraid that this ruffian has taken every
bit of strength that I had left.”
Will moved towards him and gripped his hand, pulling
him into a sitting position. Then he pulled him
upwards to his feet and grinned. “Good job, Garak! I
couldn’t have asked for a better man for my partner.”
“I am flattered, First Commander. There is nothing
like a word of praise from a man that you admire to
make your entire day.”
They shook hands and moved towards Beverly, intent on
prying her broken body from the Wheel. But as they
drew closer, The Intendant rose from her seat and
moved to block their way. “What a lovely performance,
Gentlemen. And all for this pitiful creature. It’s a
shame, you know. If you had put on a display like this
for my benefit, I would see my way clear to stop my
plans for imprisonment. However, I’m afraid that now
you will have to go down to the dungeon.” She
sashayed over to the naked woman and allowed her
gloved fingers to run the length of Bev’s body, one
curve at a time.
“It really IS a shame you know. Beverly was one of
my personal favorites. Of all of my female lovers,
she was the most gentle.” Troi sighed, and then
walked up a small set of steps in order to reach the
woman properly. When her face was near her victim’s,
she winked at Will and Garak and planted a kiss on
Bev’s cheek. Then she reached for the tall bathleth
that stood on the wall behind the Wheel and lifted it
in front of Beverly’s head. “Such waste. You really
were a great piece of ass, Darling.” With that, she
began to swing the blade, but Will was already there,
flinging her tiny body off the steps and onto the
floor with a loud crash. The batleth went flying, and
Garak ran to catch it before it could slice through
On the floor, Will struggled with Troi, forcing her
onto her back, and straddling her body with his
thighs. He slapped her hard, sending her head flying
up towards him.
“Get off me you overbearing son of a bitch. You’ve
ruined everything! How dare you come in her and take
over. Do you really think that you can rescue this
bitch from me? I will kill her if I choose to, Riker,
and there isn’t anything you can do to stop me.
“Want to bet, Babe?” Leering down at her, he then
took a deep breath and lifted his head. “Garak!
You’ve got the controls. Release Beverly and see that
she gets to the infirmary. Stay with her until she’s
ready to be released; I don’t want this bitch getting
close to her again.”
“Your wish is my command, First Commander.” As
gently as possible, Garak got Beverly down from the
wheel. He lay her body on the floor, removed his over
coat, and then wrapped her in it. Then he lifted her
into his arms and carried her like a baby out the
doors and down to the infirmary, while Will watched
over his shoulder.
“You see? She’s going to be fine. No thanks to you.
I’m afraid that your days as Intendant have just come
to an end. I am in charge of this station now, and
what I say goes. My first order of business will be to
place you in that hellhole of a dungeon for oh, I’d
say about five years? How does that sound, darling?”
Troi’s eyes widened with fear, and she wriggled
beneath him. “No! Get off of me you bastard! This
station is mine! Do you hear me? Mine!”
“Mmm….afraid not, Troi. This station no longer
belongs to you. You’ve misused your power abominably
and now it’s your turn to have a taste of what you’ve
been giving your poor prisoners all of these years.”
Their eyes locked, and then her mouth turned up at
the corners. “Why Riker, could it be that you are
growing a heart? I would never have imagined it
possible. But I suppose that’s why I’ve always liked
you—you are always full of surprises.”
As they stared at each other, the fear in her face
melted away, replaced by a look of intense interest.
And desire. Will, to his dismay, felt his body
responding in kind. The adrenaline that had carried
him through the fight was still singing in his veins,
and his body was on fire with the victorious feeling
of having vanquished his enemies, as well as the
heated mixture of anger and lust that filled him
whenever he looked at this woman.
He needed to shackle her and take her down to the
dungeon now—otherwise his body would carry him into a
situation that he did not need to get into. His heart
was thudding, his skin coated with a slick film of
sweat. He was so ready to take her that his pants
seemed suddenly two sizes too small. His brain seemed
to be pulsing a message from his subconscious,
repeating over and over, “Get up, Riker. Get out of
here right now. You’ve beaten the bitch-that’s
enough. You don’t have to fuck her to teach her a
And yet, that is exactly what his body and ego wanted
him to do. Looking down at her, the beautiful face
surrounded by ringlets of jet-black curls, he felt
like showing her exactly who was boss. It was a
primitive response, one that he never would’ve lent
credence to under any other circumstances. But the
combination of violence and sex was so heavy in the
air, he could not deny himself. This is it, the last
time, I swear…he murmured inwardly, as his hands moved
to rip the fabric from the Intendant’s body.
Soon, the tight cat suit was a memory, a pile of
cloth upon the floor. She’d lain there submissively
as he undressed her, not moving to help nor hinder.
Her breasts were encased in tight see-through lace
lavender fabric; the milky white globes punctuated at
the tips by delicate pink nipples. Beneath her flat
belly, a tiny pair of lavender panties covered her
most secret spot, and Will’s hands moved seemingly of
their own volition to pull them down. Yanking them
off, he then pulled the bra apart at the front closure
to gain access to her breasts. He spared only seconds
to pull his own pants down, and then began to ravage
her as though she were a spot of prime meat.
His mouth captured hers, and she finally responded.
Their tongue met and joined, dancing in a delicious,
slippery tango that infused their bodies with
pulsating heat. Will slid his hands beneath her back,
down to her bare bottom, and cupped the flesh tightly.
“No time for foreplay, darling. Sorry…” he muttered,
leaning above her.
“No problem, First Commander. I don’t need it. Feel
me…” She took his hand and moved it to the wetness
between her legs. He had to fight the urge to bend
his head and taste her she felt so good. But this
wasn’t someone he cared about—he felt no duty to give
Beneath him, Troi began to touch her breasts,
stroking them in lazy circles, running her tongue
around her lips. He felt his body harden, and his
erection was growing painful. Without a word, he
entered her, slamming inside her body like a volcanic
eruption. Her body arched and she cried out softly,
pulling him down to her chest. Their mouths met
again, and they continued the kiss as their bodies
moved together, the heat of the night’s activities
setting them both on fire.
Will forced his eyes open, forced himself to watch
her as he rode her sweet body. Her lovely face was
damp with sweat, her mouth full and wet from their
kisses. The feel of her around his member was
electrifying, and it was all he could do not to
explode right then and there. He was so far gone,
that looking at the Intendant’s face did not remind
him of his own Deanna Troi. Rather, in this moment,
this hot, wet, sweaty perfection, he could see and
think of no one else but the woman beneath him. She
was the world’s biggest bitch; an evil goddess who had
no heart whatsoever. But, she was also the most
exotically erotic woman he had ever known.
As he watched her body move beneath him, as he
listened to her escalating cries of passion, Will felt
the world disappear. The orgasm began with all of the
intensity of a sun going nova, and when he cried out,
it was her name that escaped his lips. She came to her
own release at the same moment, as if the event had
been synchronized from the very beginning. They
grabbed one another, ravenously kissing, holding on as
if for dear life as their nerve endings firing in one
“My God…” he murmured, unable for the moment to
“Yes! Gods, Riker, we always have been good
together. Haven’t we?”
Will could no longer hold his body aloft, and allowed
it to fall onto hers. He did not respond, could not
respond. Exhaustion hit him like a ton of bricks,
carrying him into post-coital slumber.
But something was nagging at him, something tugging
at his subconscious. He couldn’t go to sleep. There
was a reason. What was it? Something about Troi…the
Intendant…yes…couldn’t trust her. Don’t sleep…not
yet. Take care of her first….
Dizzily, he forced his eyes open, forced his body to
move upwards. Lifting himself off of her body, he
rolled to the side and grabbed for his clothing. As
he dressed, he watched her, lying there in naked
splendor. She was dozing, drifting prettily off to
sleep as if she were the heroine of a fairytale. Her
hands rested on her chest, and her slanted eyes were
closed. Her breathing was soft and even, and her
mouth moved into a half smile.
Will felt his heart turn over and drop into the icy
depths of his stomach. The Intendant looked exactly
like Deanna looked when she was on the verge of
falling asleep. In his mind’s eye, he could see his
Imzadi, dressed in a satin purple nightgown, curled on
one of his pillows like a cat, waiting for him to come
to bed. They’d been sharing his quarters for a few
months, and having her there was almost like being
He quickly finished dressing, and then looked down at
the woman he’d just made love to. In his heart he
knew that he still loved Deanna; that it was she whom
he wanted to marry and build a life with. But he’d
never counted on feeling such an out-of-control
attraction to her double. With all of his heart he
hated this person, this facsimile of his beloved. But
he knew that when he finally got home to Deanna, he
would never totally be able to forget her.
Will found his comm badge on the floor and attached
it to his shirt. Fingering it tiredly, he croaked,
“Riker to Garak.”
“Garak here, Sir.”
“Please return to the Chamber. I need your assistance
with the Intendant.”
A loud silence filled the air for a moment, and then,
“Did you…kill her?”
“Not yet. She’s…sleeping. Soundly. And I would
like to keep it that way until we get her locked up.”
“I’m on my way. Garak out.”
Nodding to the empty air, Will moved to sit beside
Troi on the floor. His hand traveled up to her
hairline and caressed the silken tresses. He leaned
to kiss her porcelain cheek, and then simply stared at
her. Although it had been only days since he’d left
his own universe, it now felt like years. His aim was
still the same; to get Picard’s information, to reach
his shuttle and fly back to the fissure in space that
would take him home. He still longed to go home to
Deanna, to pick up his life where he had left it.
And yet, some strange part of him, a part he could
not accept, felt a connection to this woman, this
place. The art of pretending to be someone other than
himself was enticing, and he had gotten very good at
the role. So good that he was beginning to feel like
First Commander Riker. Hell, he’d even enjoyed the
killing portion of the evening. At the end of the
fight, he had felt like a glorious Klingon warrior,
home from a victorious battle. It was intoxicating.
As was his new lover.
His heart began to beat rapidly as his ego, the devil
on his shoulder, began to whisper to him. You could
stay here, you know. You could take his place for
good. No one knows the difference. And if he pops
up, you can just get rid of him. You could stay here,
rule this station, have this woman…and all of the
others. You could kill whenever your heart desired
and never be punished for it. You could have all of
the power of controlling this station and these
people. You want that, don’t you? You like the
thought of it, don’t you? Come on Riker; at least have
the balls to be honest with yourself!
“No!!!” he cried, leaping to his feet, slamming his
hands against his ears as though the words came from
an alien voice rather than his own mind. “No, damn
He stomped off to the other side of the room where the
batleth lay gleaming on the floor. Picking it up, he
swung the blade into the thick stone walls, over and
over again, sweating, swearing, screaming.
“First Commander, are you quite all right?” came a
voice from the door.
Will spun around, shocked, dropping the batleth to the
“I’ve come to take the lady, and I do use the term
loosely, to the dungeon. That is still your plan, is
Looking down at the naked woman on the floor, Will
felt revulsion rise in his chest. His gorge rose and
he felt as if he would throw up everything he’d eaten
since he’d arrived. “Get her dressed. Now.”
“As you say.” Garak moved to dress the sleeping
woman and Will wondered why she had not regained
consciousness in the midst of his temper tantrum. He
hadn’t lost it like that in years, and yet the
Intendant still lay peacefully sleeping as though not
a word had been uttered. Then he remembered that
Deanna often used a Betazoid chant to put herself in
deep sleep, a sleep so deep that not even the
computer’s alarm could snap her out of it.
Apparently, the Intendant had done the same. Well,
good. Then she wouldn’t be aware of what they were
doing until she awoke in the morning. And then she
would find herself in a nasty, dirty, rank cell far
below the more civilized parts of the station.
It was just what she deserved.
When she was dressed, Garak tossed her over his
shoulder and raised one brow at Will.
“Let’s go. You lead the way, Garak. I’m right behind
The two of them left the Chamber, moving amid the
crowd of onlookers who still filled the corridor. A
loud cheer went up as they passed. They were shouting,
“Riker! Riker! Riker!” The men clapped him on the
back, congratulating him for defeating the Intendant.
They tried to follow he and Garak to the dungeon, but
he turned and lifted one hand, effectively silencing
them all. “This does not involve you.”
Respectfully, the throng backed off, but as he and
Garak moved towards the turbo lift, he could still
hear faint shouts of “Riker! Riker! Riker!” He didn’t
know whether to feel pride or disgust.
Dreaming. Bits and pieces of real life interwoven
with fantasy. His mind wandered through vast
landscapes, brilliant space scenes, fictional worlds
where he had never truly traveled. In this one, an
amber colored sky filled with twelve iridescent orange
moons glowed before him, and his dream-self walked on
hot, dark sand beneath the heat of their blaze.
Dressed in a brown leather jerkin, thigh-high laced
boots, and a flowing white long-sleeved shirt, Will
felt his body dampen, then run with sweat. He wiped
his forehead with the back of his hand, and scanned
the vast, open area; recognizing nothing, seeing no
He felt parched, and felt at the large belt around
his waist for a bottle of water. A cold, tall bottle
appeared in his hand as he reached for it, and he
popped the top off of it, drinking it down in seconds.
When he’d finished the last of it, he tossed the
bottle down, and breathed deeply, feeling refreshed.
Looking eastward now, he stretched his eyesight as far
as it would possibly take him, hoping to find a
building, another person, anything to fill his vision.
Anything to give him a goal to move towards.
Otherwise, he was doomed to wander through this barren
desert for who knew how long?
Skin burning, lungs aching from the hot, acrid air,
he walked for a half mile and then stopped again,
bending double to catch his breath. Where was he?
Why was he here? There was something nudging him
on….luring him across the unfamiliar expanse of
desert. But what?
While he panted for breath and pondered his
situation, he closed his eyes, and that was when he
heard her voice.
“Imzadi…” Will’s heart slammed in response to the
work, and his head jerked up rapidly, his eyes
scanning the area for her.
“Deanna?” he called loudly, hoping the name would
carry across the dunes and into her ears. If she were
“Imzadi…come…come to me….” the voice encouraged him
again, and he gathered all of his strength to race
forward towards it. Towards her.
“I’m coming, Deanna! I’m coming! Where are you?”
“Imzadi…you are near me…only a matter of time now….”
Frantic, he ran straight forward, but his head was
snapping back and forth, right and left, afraid that
he might miss seeing her. “Deanna! Where are you? I
can’t see anything!”
“Come to me, Imzadi. You are almost home. Almost…”
Perplexed, he just kept running, hoping to home in on
the sound of her voice.
“I can’t see anything! Nothing but desert and sun
and sky. Deanna, help me find you!”
Her answer was as silent as the wind. Frustrated, he
ran further, faster, harder, searching for any sign of
life, of civilization. And then, only meters in front
of him, a structure appeared. As though by unseen
magic, it rose up out of the sand and filled the space
before him, stretching in all direction for hundreds
and hundreds of feet.
The building was made of the finest rose-colored
marble, shot through with glittering veins of gold.
It was twice as tall as he was, and the extent of its
size could only be guessed. Surprised, but intrigued,
he continued to move forward. His boots traveled up
three steps, onto a small portico. Before him, large
oval doors beckoned, their panels gently swinging open
as he approached them.
With a thudding heart and racing curiosity, Will
walked through the doors, and into darkness. He was
in an endless hallway that seemed to move forward for
miles. He continued to walk, his only light faint
tapered candles set five feet apart along both sides
of the corridor. Clearing his throat, he called
again. “Deanna! Are you here? Show me where you are
Imzadi. Show me…”
Moving in the candlelight, he saw that a number of
doors filled the hall, too many to count. Each of the
finest wood, carved into intricate characters, they
looked like something out of a fantasy novel. Dragons,
fairies, unicorns all carved in bass relief onto the
doors surfaces. They were exquisite. But which one
would take him to Deanna? Was he expected to open
them all, one at a time, until he found her? He would
do that for her, hell, he’d do anything for her. But
Will Riker was not a patient man. Not when it came to
the woman he loved. “Imzadi!!” he called, “where are
you? Help me find you!”
As the words left his lips, he heard the soft,
tremulous sound of her voice again.
“Yes! I’m here, Deanna. I’m here honey. Where are
you? Which door do I choose? I need you to help me
“So close now…only three more to go…Imzadi.”
Three more? Looking at the doors, he saw that there
was one on the left, and two upcoming on the right.
Three more doors. Moving to the last one in the
series of three, he grabbed a gilded knob and pressed
the door forward. It did not budge. Grabbing it
again, he tugged it forward, but again, it stayed
firmly closed. “Damn it to hell!” he muttered, trying
to open it again, but again failing. Frustrated, he
kicked the thing with his boot, and to his surprise,
it flew open.
Grinning, he rubbed his hands together and moved into
the doorway, noting with relief that this room was
considerably better-lit than the hallway. The space
contained wooden furniture; each surface covered in
glowing candles held by tall black sconces.
The curtains were amethyst velvet, covering the
massive bay windows completely. In the very center of
the room lay a circular-shaped bed covered with piles
and piles of lavender silk pillows and matching
sheets. And in the center of the glorious bed, lay
the most important person in his world. “Deanna”, he
murmured, breathing her name as though it were the
very air that kept him alive.
She wore a floor-length purple kimono, and her
waist-length tumble of curls was bound upon the crown
of her head in silver combs. Lying on her back, she
stretched luxuriously, as though she’d just wakened
from peaceful slumber. Then she motioned to Will.
“Come to me, Imzadi. It’s been so long…”
Will went to her eagerly, scooping her small body
into his arms, holding her so tightly she would’ve
broken into a thousand pieces had she been made of
glass and not flesh and bone. The embrace filled his
heart and soul, connected him to her again for the
first time in ages. His hands moved to caress her
face, his lips to cover hers in a warm, wet greeting.
When she pulled back for air, their eyes met, and she
smiled at him. He could see her love for him shining
in her eyes, and his heart began to ache with pain.
He didn’t know why, couldn’t quite remember, but he
felt that he had hurt her. A twinge of guilt crept
into his consciousness, tapping the back of his brain
with insistence, trying to make him remember why he
felt so terribly guilty. But it would not come. The
memories fluttered around his head like butterflies,
just out of reach. Unable to recall anything, he gave
up, and moved to lay beside his Imzadi on the soft
“I feel that you are upset about something, Imzadi.
Want to tell me what it is?” she murmured in his ear,
all the while playing with his hair.
“Mmm…no…it’s nothing. I can’t remember it anyway.”
They kissed again, softly, deeply, enveloped in the
sweetness of each other. It was perfect. Will smiled
inwardly. He was with Deanna again. Everything was
going to be all right. Everything was going to be…
“Do you want me to remind you of what you did,
Imzadi?” Her voice still sounded sweet, but the icy
tone within it had broken his reverie completely.
“What… what do you mean? What did I do? Tell me,
She sat up, pulled herself from his embrace, and
stood beside the bed, glaring at him with hatred so
intense it nearly knocked him on the floor. “Since
you’re having trouble remembering, why don’t I help
you to recall what you’ve done….Imzadi.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Deanna! I
haven’t done anything! Please, tell me what this is
She smirked at him, then eyed the door at the far
wall. “Why don’t you join us, darlings? I think it’s
time that our Imzadi was taught a lesson. Don’t you?”
As Will watched, the heavy connecting doors opened.
His mouth fell open as recognition dawned. It was the
Intendant. She wore a deep red cat suit with a
low-cut bodice. Her hair fell to her waist in tumbled
glory, held by only a shining, red headband. Tall
high-heeled boots completed her ensemble, making her
look as different from Deanna as the sun from the
moon. Behind her, he caught sight of another figure,
and as the woman moved closer, he could see that it
was Beverly; dressed in a tight green teddy that left
nothing whatsoever to the imagination. The two women
moved towards them seductively, looking at Will with
something akin to the way a tiger looks at her prey
right before she devours it whole.
His heart began to throb painfully and he looked back
and forth between them desperately. His memory
returned instantly, and with it, an avalanche of guilt
“Save it, Imzadi. The Intendant has caught me up on
the latest news from her universe, and I have to say
that I am terribly disappointed in you. First, you
slept with Beverly-my very best friend in the world,
and then, to make matters worse, you did it again-this
time with my very own counterpart. When I realize that
I was planning to marry you and have your children….it
sickens me. I am going home to Betazed Will. I’m
sure that I will be able to find a suitable husband
once I get there. Someone who, unlike you, is capable
“Deanna-I’m sorry. I am so sorry. You deserve so
much better. I know that. I don’t want to lose you.
Please, give me a chance…”
She looked at him with a haughty, frosty glare that
cut through his soul.
“A chance to what, Imzadi? To lie to me? To tell me
what I want to hear? To tell me that you’ll never do
it again, only to go behind my back at the first
instant a beautiful woman throws herself at you? No.
Sorry. I refuse to play this game with you any
longer. It’s over, Will. I never want to see you
With a toss of her regal head, Deanna walked out of
the room, disappearing into another part of the
building without so much as a look over her shoulder.
The Intendant, glowing with the smile of an angel,
moved to sit on the bed beside him. “Well! That was
easy, wasn’t it, Darling? Now that we are rid of her,
you and I can pick up where we left off. And this
time, there will be no Deanna Troi to get in our way.”
“Exactly. Now the Intendant and I can share you,
without worrying about your pesky conscience getting
in our way.” Beverly’s crystal blue eyes filled with
desire and she pushed Will back on the pillows. The
Intendant stood up, and proceeded to remove her
clothing. Then the two women moved to lie on either
side of him, intent on seducing him.
Abruptly, he pushed them away, and tried to get off
the bed. He had to find Deanna. He had to get her to
take him back. He couldn’t lose her. Not now!
But the women were insistent, and he was unable to
move. And as the Intendant’s rosy mouth bore down
upon his, he screamed.
“No!” he cried, his eyes flying open, heart throbbing
in his chest. Confused, he looked around at the
unfamiliar scenery, unable to remember where he was.
“Well, First Commander. You’ve come back to the land
of the living, I see. I take it you did not sleep
well?” It was Garak. Will shook off the grip of his
dream and forced himself into a sitting position. He
was on a cot next to a table and chair, all of which
sat just outside a small cell. He looked up and down
a long hallway dotted with a series of cells. The
walls were of stone and metal, damp with years of
corrosion and water. The air was fetid with the scent
of decay and human waste. Will wrinkled his nose and
took a deep breath into the sleeve of his shirt.
“Where the hell are we?”
“You mean you don’t recall? Oh, it was glorious. We
marched out of the Chamber together with the
Intendant, and brought her here to the dungeon for her
imprisonment. It was quite simply the best moment in
all of my years aboard Terok Nor.”
“Where is she now?” Which cell?”
Garak motioned to the cell behind him. “In there.
Still unconscious, thankfully.”
“How long have I been out?”
“I’d say eight or nine hours, give or take. I took the
liberty of napping myself, and so I’m not entirely
sure just how long you’ve been slumbering.”
Will looked around, wondering just how far beneath the
main station they were. Their trip down the turbo
lift and into this section was a vague memory,
distorted by exhaustion and hunger. Now he was beyond
simple hunger-he was ravenous.
“Is there anything down here to eat, Garak?”
The Cardassian nodded. “You’re in luck. They put in
replicators for the prison guards only a few months
ago. Of course, the prisoners aren’t so lucky—they
subsist on whatever the guards deign to share with
them. However, since you are First Commander, I’d say
you may indulge in whatever sort of cuisine you
Scrambling off the cot, Will moved to the small,
cramped cleft in the middle of the stone next to the
Intendant’s cell and found a small replicator shoved
deep into the stonework. “Black coffee, eggs over
easy, bacon, and buttered toast.”
The machine whirred, and then the meal appeared before
him, seemingly out of thin air. His stomach growled,
and he grabbed the cup and plate, tossed it onto the
desk next to his cot and sat down to inhale it.
“Mmm…did you eat yet?”
“Yes, thank-you. I programmed some Moba fruit, larish
pie, and Bajoran Spring Wine. I am most satisfied,
“Glad to hear it.” Will wolfed down the plate in
minutes, then followed it all with a scalding gulp of
hot coffee. As the food made its way to his stomach,
he felt himself begin to come fully awake. His
synapses were firing again, after what had seemed like
years of being unable to engage his brain. He was
alert, rested, and now, fed. It was time to decide
what to do next.
Wiping his mouth on a replicated napkin, he spun in
his chair to face the cell. Behind the force field,
he could see the Intendant lying on the floor; her
hair disheveled, her face bruised with dirt. Watching
her, the dream came back to him full force, piercing
his heart with a sudden ache. The memory of last
night, of taking this woman, came to life in his mind,
filling him with embarrassed revulsion.
He would have liked to blame it on the adrenaline, on
the high of the violent night, but in the cold light
of day he had to admit to himself that there was no
excuse for what he’d done. Worse than that, it was
something he had wanted to do ever since his first day
aboard the station. Ever since he’d first laid eyes
on the Intendant. Yes, he had wanted it. And the
fact that he’d already given in and slept with Beverly
only made it easier to indulge himself again.
“What’s the matter, First Commander? Did you have bad
dreams last night?”
Will roused himself from his thoughts with difficulty
and forced a grin.
“Yeah. Something like that.”
“Well, I know just the thing to cheer you up. You are
now in command of this station, and the Intendant is
your prisoner. Would you care to discuss our next
move, First Commander? I’m sure you have many ideas
for her punishment.”
Punishment? Oh God. Now he would be expected to hurt
her just as she had hurt Beverly. Could he really
string her up on her own torture device and whip her?
Of course not. Before it would have been difficult
enough-but now that he’d made love to her, it would be
virtually impossible. “Garak…I haven’t yet decided
what I will do with the Intendant. For now it’s enough
that she is here, in her very own dungeon.”
“Indeed. I would have to agree with you. Most
prisoners who are confined at this level never make it
up to the main level again, not even for punishment. I
would imagine that you’d like to leave her here to rot
among the rats and bodies of those who’ve ended their
days in the very same cell. It would be fitting,
would it not?” Garak’s blue eyes glowed with intense
satisfaction, and although intellectually, Will
agreed, his stomach rebelled at the though of it.
Rising, he paced around the room, and then up and down
the narrow hall, looking into each and every cell.
Some were covered with blankets, straw-like material,
torn clothing. Others bore signs of old food riddled
with rat bites. Most were now empty, their former
prisoners long-dead, their bodies removed from site.
But a few still held their captives, and Will found
himself walked towards one of them, unable to take his
eyes from the sight of a full skeleton lying in a
ragged heap in the corner.
Most of his flesh was gone-torn to bits by rats,
decayed away in the long months since his death. He
hadn’t been dead long-six months if that. But he
looked like he’d lain in a coffin beneath the earth
for years. From his build, the width of his shoulders
and pelvis, Will could tell that the body had once
been a man. Thinking of his own very brief, but very
effective imprisonment, he repressed a violent
shudder. This could have been his own fate. He could
be here in a cell, starving to death while the rodents
tore at his flesh and his mind went slowly mad.
Behind him, Garak appeared and placed a hand on his
shoulder. “Terrible, isn’t it? I mean, you would
think that in this day and age punishment would have
gone beyond being chained to a wall and eaten alive.”
“You would think…” Will muttered, suddenly so sick to
his stomach that he thought he might retch up the
wonderful breakfast he’d just eaten.
“First Commander, I believe that there is something
you should see. I discovered it while you were
sleeping, and you are the only person who will know
what should be done about it.”
Will’s brows raised to his forehead. “What do you
mean? What do you have to show me?”
“This way.” Garak moved further down the hallway,
until he was at the very end.
Motioning to the last cell, he looked at Will and
nodded. “In there. I’m afraid that you are in for a
bit of a surprise.”
Swallowing hard, Will moved down to Garak’s position
and forced himself to lift his head, looking into the
dank cell’s interior. Subconsciously, something had
prepared him for this-after all, Guinan had seemed
fairly sure. But seeing his double for the first time
face to face was as earth shattering to him as
anything could be.
The man who shared his name and face lie in the dank
depths of filth and reeking blankets, staring blankly
through the force field at him. The eyes were
sightless, the mouth hanging open as though in a
silent, endless scream. He was dead.
“Oh Christ,” Will began. “What happened to him?”
“I would think you’d be more interested in his
identity, First Commander. You both share a
remarkable resemblance. And since I know that he is
not your replicator twin, Thomas, I must assume that
he is from that other universe. Wouldn’t you agree?”
For Will the world was spinning. His head began to
beat a rhythmic tattoo against his skull, and he fell
to his knees in front of the cell. Unable to take his
eyes off the man, he cleared his throat and muttered,
“I suppose so. I’ve heard about that other universe,
but I’ve never been there myself. I wonder why he’s
here? What purpose could have brought him all this
way? And why was he killed?”
He looked up at Garak, hoping that his words carried a
ring of authenticity. If Garak was in any way
suspicious of who he really was, then things could get
very bad very quickly. This Garak had tortured as
many prisoners or more than his counterpart in Will’s
universe. He was a dangerous man, who at the moment,
just happened to be on Will’s side. But that could
change in an instant. Would change, if he had the
slightest inkling of what was going on.
Garak merely stared at the dead man, shaking his head,
unaware of Will’s discomfiture. “I’m afraid I don’t
know, First Commander. I don’ t know who found him or
who imprisoned him. I do know that there were rumors
about you being down here, and so someone must’ve seen
him and mistaken him for you. I know nothing more,
however, I have a feeling that we might gain more
insight from our own prisoner.”
Staring into a mirror of his own face, Will nodded
grimly. “I have a feeling you’re right. Wake her,
Garak. And make sure she’s ready for my
interrogation. The Intendant has a lot of explaining
“Yes, Sir!” Gleefully, Garak went back down the
corridor to the Intendant’s cell while Will continued
to stare at his bloodied, broken counterpart.
Reaching his hand close to the force field, Will felt
a moment of regret for the man’s demise. But then he
remembered that the man was a murderer, an
executioner, an abuser of women. And in that moment,
regret fell away, replaced by relief.
“I’m glad you’re dead, you bastard,” he muttered.
Then, forcing his eyes away from the body, he rose to
his feet and moved down the hall without looking back
It was time to face the Intendant.
“Your mistress has awakened, First Commander,” Garak
shouted down the corridor.
Will was only a few feet away, walking slowly to give
himself a few precious minutes to think about how he
wanted to handle this. For whatever reason, the Gods
had given him a gift in the form of the Intendant’s
ignorance about his identity. But when she saw her
own First Commander’s dead body in the cell down the
hall, would she finally figure it all out? Would she
look at Will and for the first time feel the
difference in his mind, his thoughts? He wasn’t sure,
but he knew that he would have to tread carefully. He
didn’t want to tip his hand too soon and have her
realize that the past few days had been a sham. Nor
did he particularly relish the idea of being thrown
into one of these cells for his duplicity. No, he was
going to have to keep his secrets as long as he
could-even if it meant hiding the dead First Commander
from the Intendant.
Standing in front of her cell now, he lay a hand on
the side of the wall and looked in. She was sitting
up, chained to the back of the wall with heavy arm and
wrist shackles, staring at him with a blazing look
that promised certain death if she were to ever get
her hands upon him. He forced a grin, thinking that
it would probably be what his counterpart would have
done, and got back into character completely. “So,
did you enjoy your stay here last night? You look
pretty good sitting there bound like that. Makes me
think of the first night we…”
“Oh, shut up, Riker. I don’t want to think about
that. Nor do I want you discussing the personal
details of our love life.”
“Love life? Is that what you’d call it? And here I
thought it was just sex. At least it was for me. I
couldn’t speak for you though. Maybe you really are
in love with me. Wouldn’t that be something to tell
the guys on poker night?”
It was a guess—as much as he loved poker he assumed
that the other Riker had probably enjoyed the game
himself. Luckily, he’d guessed right, for his words
hit their target with perfect accuracy.
“If I ever discover that you’ve been talking about
what we do in my quarters with those ruffians that you
play cards with, I will have your head on a serving
“Now, now, you know I have too much respect for you
to ever tell anyone just how incredible you are in the
sack. Besides, with the station grapevine working so
well, I don’t have too. Everyone already knows
everything, Intendant-there are no secrets aboard
“Damn you. When I get out of here you are going to
pay, Riker. For everything!”
“When you get out, huh? And just when do you think
that will be?”
Her eyes met his and her expression turned slightly
seductive. “When you find yourself desiring me again,
Riker darling. That time will come, believe me. And
when it does, you will turn off this force field
yourself and come in here to rescue me. Just last
night you were unable to keep your hands off of me…now
imagine that feeling intensified by the long days and
nights ahead. Oh you’ll want me again, First
Commander, and when you do, I will be right here
“Let me guess…once I throw myself at you in an
ecstasy of passion, you will knock me senseless and
leave me in there, while you make your escape. Yes,
it is a good plan, Intendant, but not quite good
enough. What you don’t seem to grasp is that I am now
in charge. I now hold the reins. I control this
station and all of the people on it, including you.
And if I decide that you’re going to rot in here like
the rest of the prisoners, then that is what will
Her eyes held just a faint glimmer of fear, one that
she quickly covered up with a mask of indifference.
Standing now, she moved towards him, still clad in her
tight black cat suit, still looking good enough to
eat. “Now Riker, Darling, we both know that you
aren’t really going to leave me in here. You need me,
you want me. What are you going to do on those lonely
nights when command becomes too much of a burden and
you need the release of being in my arms? Hmmm?”
He grimaced at her, and then his eyes lit from
within. He gave her a saucy grin and looked her up and
down like a package of prime grade A beef. “I’ll
admit I want you. I always have. But you’re not the
only woman aboard this station. If I get lonely,
there’s always Crusher—she’ll be more than happy to
service me. And of course, the Bajoran prostitutes. I
know of a cute little brunette who would be more than
happy to take me on. I’ll repeat, you are not the
only woman aboard this station, Intendant. Hell,
you’re not even the best one in bed. Bev Crusher
really knows how to fuck my brains out-better than you
ever could. I’d remember that if I were you.”
His heart was pounding, he was so into his role that
he’d nearly forgotten that it was an act. And as the
words spilled out, he remembered in vivid detail what
it was like to sleep with Bev. It had been amazing,
but in real life, in his own universe he would never
have done it-he certainly would not have stood here
talking about her as if she were some random whore
he’d picked up for a night of debauchery. Once again,
his conscience was getting to him. This charade would
have to end soon-otherwise his self-respect was going
to go to hell in a hand basket.
“You bastard! First you don’t even bother to be
discreet about your sexual conquests, and now you
flaunt them before me as though they were nothing. As
though I wouldn’t care. Well, dear Riker, I will have
you know that you are not the only man in my life
either. For the past six months or more I’ve been
sleeping with Worf. My Second Commander has been a
very devoted and satisfying lover to me-which is more
than I can say for you.”
Will was silent, the image of the Intendant with Worf
reminding him painfully of those months when Deanna
was involved with Worf on the Enterprise D. The
Intendant mistook his silence for jealousy, and
laughed. “You poor, dear man. And here all of this
time you thought that you were the only one who was
getting some on the side. How does it feel to know
that a Klingon is a better lover than you are?”
That stung. He wondered briefly if Deanna had
enjoyed Worf’s rough lovemaking techniques more than
his own. But he couldn’t allow himself to wallow in
these thoughts—there was too much to lose if he didn’t
play this game just the right way. So with rigid
control, he pushed away all thoughts of his Imzadi and
her former lover, and kneeled down in front of the
Intendant’s cell, motioning her to do the same.
Curious, the Intendant kneeled down, and moved
forward as far as her chains would allow. “How
amusing. Riker has a secret. Well, let’s have it,
darling. We haven’t got all day.”
Lowering his voice to a whisper, he murmured, “For
someone who doesn’t want me discussing her sex life,
you certainly don’t seem to mind broadcasting every
detail to Garak.”
A pink flush bloomed on her pale white cheeks and she
grimaced. “Since you are so insistent on protecting my
virtue, I’ll have you know that there is no need to
keep secrets from Garak.”
“And why is that?”
“Because he used to be my lover. There isn’t much
about me that he doesn’t know-there’s no point in
hiding anything from him.”
Will spun around and looked at Garak, who was sitting
on the chair, munching a Moba fruit and trying not to
smile. Shrugging his massive shoulders, Garak
swallowed, and said, “What can I tell you? This was
ages before you came aboard the station, First
Commander. And things came to their natural
conclusion soon after you arrived. I’m afraid that
once the Intendant saw you, she was no longer
interested in what I had to offer.”
Will was stunned into silence. Was there any man on
Terok Nor that she had not invited into her bed?
Whether she read his thoughts or just the look on his
face, she knew that it had hit home. A cat like smile
crossed her face, and she reveled in his discomfort.
“Jealous, darling? Oh, there is no need to be. You
see, whenever a new man comes aboard the station to
work for me, I try him out in bed. It’s a good way to
establish control right from the beginning. The men
learn that I am the one who holds the reins, and that
if they want more of what I have to offer, they must
do as I say. It really is quite effective, Riker.
You really should try it sometime.”
“When I take command of the station, maybe I will.
Not that I’d have to. I am a natural leader-people
follow me because I know what I’m doing, not because I
force them to with games or tricks. If I want this
station to come under my control, all I have to do is
crook my finger and they will all fall into line. Even
your Mr. Worf.”
“I doubt that my Second Commander would lift a finger
to help you. He sure as hell won’t be willing to
accept you as his authority. No, I’m afraid that you
are going to fail on this mission of yours, Riker.
Everyone aboard is loyal to me, and to me alone. They
would just as soon as kill you than follow your lead.”
“Loyal, huh? Is that what you’d call it? How loyal
can they be when they haven’t come down here to rescue
you? How loyal can they be when Garak here switched
sides last night and helped me imprison you? How
loyal do you think they really are, Intendant? You
should have heard the way they were chanting last
night. They were squarely behind me; happy to have
you out of the way. You really have misread the
situation aboard this station, Intendant. You think
your people love you, respect you. But in reality,
they hate your guts. They hope that you die down
here. And you know what? I’m with them. I hope so
too. I can’t think of anyone who would deserve it
She looked stunned. Falling back on the floor, she
gazed up at Will, paler than death. She was obviously
enraged, but more than that, she was stung, hurt. His
words had plunged straight into the core of her ego,
which was even more painful than if they’d pierced her
For a split second, Will felt a spasm of guilt. This
woman could have been his Imzadi in another time,
another place. He loved her. Well, all right, he
didn’t love her, but he did love her counterpart, and
they were so close in looks that it was nearly the
same thing. If he mentally blocked out everything the
Intendant had done and said and went on looks alone,
this was the woman he loved. His heart did not seem
to know the difference even if his mind did. The
words, “I’m sorry” almost sprang to his lips, but he
sternly reminded himself that this woman did not care
about him. She was not his Deanna. There was no
reason to protect or care about this woman.
“Well said, First Commander. I suppose I shall have
to accept the situation as it is-for now. I believe
that one of my guards will eventually help me to
escape, but the two of you are obviously not going to
help. Why don’t you just leave? You’ve said all that
there is to say. But before you go, there is one
thing I want to say to you, darling. When I get out
of here, and trust me, I will, there will be nowhere
for you to hide. You’d better watch that sweet little
ass of yours, because I will have my revenge. You’ve
seen the prisoners down here and what happens to their
bodies. The same will happen to you. And when you
are dying, bleeding, starving, begging for release,
only then will I take you up to the Chamber and place
you on the Wheel. That will be the moment when I
relieve you of your head. And I can’t think of a more
worthy punishment for you.”
Her words chilled him, but outwardly he showed no
sign of their effect.
“I’m not afraid of you, Intendant. That’s your
Achilles heel, isn’t it? It’s not much good to be in
power if your underlings aren’t afraid of you.”
“Oh you’re afraid of me, all right. I may not be a
full telepath, but I can sense emotion, Riker, and
right now I’m sensing fear. You may not want to admit
it, but you are afraid of me.”
“Maybe you’re right. It’s natural to fear dangerous,
poisonous things. I learned that as a boy growing up
on Earth. Everyone has fear-it’s what keeps us alive.
But I can over come my fear of you. You’re not that
strong, Intendant. Not any more.”
“All right my love, I concede that you have a point.
So tell me, what are you planning on doing now?”
Silently, his mind turned the question over. What
was he going to do now? The real First Commander was
dead, and the Intendant was in prison. If he left
now, what would happen to these people? He couldn’t
just leave them here. Not that he owed them anything.
But he’d seen the violence, seen what she’d done to
Beverly. Not to mention what had happened to the real
First Commander. He did not want to have the deaths of
more people on his conscience. No, he would stay a
few more days. Long enough to make sure Bev was okay
and to find out what had happened to the other Riker.
Then he would take the information he’d come for,
(Garak was sure to have it) and fly like hell for
“My plans are my own, Intendant. I don’t have to
explain them to you. But since you are part of them,
I can at least tell you this much: you will stay here
in this cell for as long as I deem fit. You will reap
what you have sowed. You will no longer torture and
kill innocent people; not if I have anything to say
“Why Riker, I would almost think that you were not
yourself today. Since when have you ever cared about
what happens to others? You yourself are my
executioner—how much could you truly care for these
people? I don’t know what has gotten into you,
darling, but I think you’d better go to the infirmary
and have the doctor take a look at you. Unless I miss
my guess, you’ve suffered a concussion.”
Cringing inwardly, he realized that he’d almost blown
it completely. His cover hung in tatters, ready to
fall before her eyes, ready to show her exactly who
she was dealing with. He couldn’t let that happen.
Even with her safely behind this force field, it would
be suicide to let her or anyone on the station know
his true identity. But how to recover? Will took in
a deep breath and closed his eyes, thinking
If the real First Commander had been sadistic, loving
to torture prisoners and rape women, how the hell was
he going to explain his little speech about protecting
innocent lives? It just didn’t fit. He’d screwed up,
royally, and there was no way to fix it. Unless….
“I haven’t had a concussion, Intendant. I’m
perfectly fine. I haven’t changed, if that’s what
you’re thinking. I am still ready to do my duty, to
kill those who deserve punishment. And as always, I
am ready to take a woman if I want her, without
regards to her feelings on the subject. But when you
tried to kill Beverly, you fucked with the wrong
person. I don’t pretend to be some sentimental,
romantic fool. But believe it or not, I care for her.
Oh I don’t want to marry her and have a brood of kids
or anything, but she is a friend. One of the few I
really have in this life. She is innocent, and as
long as I am in control, nothing will ever happen to
her. You will not ever touch her again, is that
Troi’s eyes widened at his pronouncement. She looked
as if he’d hauled off and slapped her. “But, Imzadi…”
The word came from her lips unbidden, hanging in the
air between them with so much feeling that it tore his
heart in two. It could have been uttered from the
mouth of his own beloved. It hurt so much to hear
that word, to think of Deanna, that he felt like
ripping the force field down with his bare hands and
releasing his pent-up emotions by kissing this
“Don’t….” he held up a hand, warding her off, “ever
call me that again.”
“Why, Riker? When you came aboard Terok Nor over
nine years ago, I knew that you were my mate. I knew
that you and I were destined to rule together. On my
planet, my homeworld, Imzadi means beloved, but so
much more than that. It also means the first. And
despite whatever else has happened, or whoever else we
have shared our bodies with, you are the first...the
first who’s ever touched my heart. My soul. The
first man I ever really loved. I do still love you,
Riker. I always have. I probably always will.”
Her words stunned him as deeply as if he’d taken a
phaser blast straight to the heart. It hurt to
breathe. The love he had inside for Deanna rose up,
wanting to be released, wanted to be shared with this
woman. His eyes pricked with tears, and he blinked
furiously, unwilling to show this woman how she’d
Choosing his words carefully, he took a breath and
began to speak, not noticing that Garak had quietly
tiptoed out of the room.
“Troi…you and I have always had something between us.
Something indefinable. When I came aboard this
station and saw you for the first time, I thought that
I had died and gone to Heaven. You were so beautiful,
so perfect. You set me on fire. You were everything
I’d been looking for and more. But as the years went
by, I grew to hate you, to mistrust you. I’ve seen you
kill more people than I ever have, and that’s
frightening to me. I’ve seen you leave my bed only to
go off and sleep with someone else in the same night.
Do you know how it killed me to know that you were
fucking every man within sight? They weren’t supposed
to touch you, Troi. You were mine from the very
beginning. But you wanted something more—always
something or someone else. And so I gave up-turned
off. Started sleeping with other women. And now,
there’s nothing left between us. Sure, there’s an
attraction, and we are good in bed together, but
there’s nothing more than that. I don’t know that
there ever was. I don’t think there could’ve been.
Not with us. We both like power too much, both like
our egos to be stroked incessantly. You and I might
have been something more, in another time or another
universe, but right here, right now, we are
adversaries. Enemies. And no matter how I may have
cared for you in the past, I am still going to keep
you prisoner. I will even kill you if I have to.”
Troi’s eyes had misted and watered, and a thin sheen
of tears glistened on her cheeks. “I…I love you,
Riker. I’m…sorry that things couldn’t be different.”
“So am I, Intendant. So am I.”
They looked at each other for a long moment, and then
Will rose to his feet, unable to stay any longer. He
had to get away from her before he burst into tears.
Not that he would allow himself to do so, but the
threat was there, and he’d be damned if he’d let her
see it happen. “Garak. You can come back now.”
The Cardassian walked back into the room, glancing
from Troi to Riker, wondering what had transpired in
his absence. “Yes, First Commander?”
“I’d like you to stay here with her today. Keep an
eye on her. Feed her if she gets hungry, but don’t
give her any other consideration. I have to leave for
a few hours. I’ll be back tonight to check on her
“Whatever you say, First Commander. I am at your
Will nodded at him, then glanced at the Intendant once
more. She was sitting with her back against the wall,
still chained, looking painfully innocent and sweet.
The image stayed with him as he turned away and walked
out the door, heading for the turbo lift.
Once inside the contraption, he fell to his knees and
pinched the top of his nose with his fingers, hoping
to stem the hot sting of tears that filled his eyes.
But as the lift rose, he lost the battle, and spent
the entire ride sobbing his heart out.
He looked like hell. And felt even worse. The
descent into his own emotions was painful; it emptied
him of everything he was feeling. He hadn’t cried in
years—not like that. Not since his Mother died. But
the combination of missing Deanna, the guilt for his
sexual indiscretions, and the unfathomable attraction
he felt for the other Troi was enough to send him over
the edge. Will felt as though someone had reached
into his viscera, torn out his organs, and stomped on
his empty stomach. Exhaustion still clung to him,
despite a full night’s sleep, and he knew it was due
to the never-ending pretense he was living under.
Somehow, he’d escaped into the identity of First
Commander Riker; assuming his habits, his sex life,
even his violent personality. It was frightening how
in only a handful of days he seemed to have lost touch
Intellectually, he knew that he was still the same
old Will Riker. He still loved Deanna, still wanted
to serve aboard the Enterprise under Jean Luc, still
loved jazz music and playing the trombone-nothing down
deep had changed. But overlaying that old, familiar
self was now a new layer of personality-one that he’d
taken on so easily that it frightened him. It was as
if when the real First Commander died, he somehow
moved into Will’s body, attaching himself to Will’s
psyche with clinging tendrils.
Shaking his head, Will moved off the turbo lift and
down the corridor to sickbay. He’d planned on peeking
in on Beverly, to make sure she was all right. But as
his legs took him through the throng of people,
drawing him closer and closer to his destination, he
found that his heart was no longer in it. Oh he still
cared about what happened to her, make no mistake.
But the guilt he felt was so strong that the idea of
seeing her was painful. He knew what he would feel
when he looked down at her; a mixture of remorse and
shame, coupled with a strong helping of desire.
Before he knew it, he was standing in front of the
doors, wondering whether or not to go inside. He was
sure she was all right—Garak would have told him
otherwise. But he had to see for himself, no matter
how difficult it was to face her.
Pushing the heavy metal doors open, he walked into
the room. Large beds occupied half of the cavernous
space, along with multiple computers, view screens,
and medical equipment. In the far right corner, he
could see Beverly lying beneath a pale gray sheet on
one of the beds. Above her, a man leaned down,
checking her vital signs.
Will wandered over and tapped him on the shoulder.
“How is she?”
The man turned around and Will was surprised to see
that it was Julian Bashir. As far as he knew, Bashir
was not even close to being a doctor in this universe,
and his brows rose in puzzlement. “I didn’t expect to
see you here.”
“Yes, well, things have changed, haven’t they? When
Dax died, I didn’t have the heart to go on with my
plans, and so I ended up taking over when the last
physician left the station. I seem to be naturally
good at it, so why not?”
“You mean Dax is dead…” Oops, he nearly said, “in
this universe too” before stopping the flow of words
by biting down on his tongue.
Bashir, dressed in a flowing black cape and matching
slacks merely nodded, as though nothing were amiss
about Will’s question. “Yes…what a pity too. We
really made one hell of a team. Until the Intendant
came, that is.”
“I take it you don’t care for Intendant Troi?”
He shook his head. “Not care for her? Ha…that’s an
understatement. When Kira left the station, Jadzia
and I thought we were to have full control. All we
had to do was keep the Regent out of our hair and we’d
be in business. But, along came this Betazoid woman,
intent on taking over the station…she killed Jadzia,
you know. In cold blood. And you want to know why?”
“Because she was jealous. You should’ve seen the way
the men took to Jadzia—I mean, everybody wanted her.
The guards, the medical personnel, the engineers…every
heterosexual man on Terok Nor wanted a shot at her,
and the Intendant…well let’s just say she didn’t care
Will shook his head, remembering the beautiful Jadzia
Dax he had once met in his own universe. Worf still
grieved her death, as did they all. She’d been one
hell of a woman. “I’m sorry, Bashir. I never knew
her….she was gone before I got here…” Playing the
role again, he hoped that he’d guessed right at the
The doctor merely nodded. “Thanks. Now, First
Commander, what can I do for you? I assume you’re
here to look in on Crusher?”
“That’s right. Is she awake?”
“No, she’s still sleeping, I’ve got her under
sedation for the time being. She took one hell of a
beating, that’s for sure. Still, you can go over and
see her, just try not to wake her, all right? Her
body needs a lot of sleep to heal the damage.”
“Will do.” Moving across the room, Will made his way
around the large computer in the center of the room,
nearly tripped over a pile of winding black cables,
and then finally reached the biobeds. He walked over
to Beverly, stood next to the bed, and gently took one
of her pale, white hands into his own. He squeezed
it, wanting to comfort her, hoping that she could felt
the touch. Then he pulled a short, metal stool over
and sat down on it, taking her hand again.
“Bev…I’m so sorry about this. It shouldn’t have
happened, not to you. This is all my fault. If I
hadn’t slept with you, if I’d been man enough to
resist, you wouldn’t be here.”
Will broke off, taking in the split skin across her
forehead, the bruises beneath her eyes, and the scars
that ran down her neck beneath the sheet—probably as
far down as her abdomen. God, he hated seeing her
like this. Although she wasn’t his Beverly Crusher,
she was basically the same person, just living in a
very different sort of universe and with a very
different personality. He knew that beneath the
come-hither seductress lie a woman with a heart. He
could see that she was in love with the First
Commander; it was in her eyes when she looked at him
and in her touch as they made love.
The memory of the dead man suddenly flashed behind his
eyes. She didn’t know. As far as she was concerned,
the man she loved was still very much alive. How
would she react when she found out that he was dead?
And, more to the point, how would she react when she
found out that Will had been pretending the entire
Shaking off those thoughts, he leaned over and placed
a kiss on her forehead. Then he went to the control
panel where Bashir was working.
“Will she be all right?”
“I don’t know, First Commander. Honestly, she seems
to be in good health, but the injuries were very
serious. She hasn’t regained consciousness yet, and
that worries me. She could fall into a coma, or wake
in the next ten minutes. All I can tell you at this
point is that she has been badly beaten and that her
organs were damaged as a result.”
Will swallowed, and it tasted like death. “You
mean…her brain…it was damaged too?”
He nodded. “I’m afraid so. She may come out of this
with no personality changes whatsoever, but then
again, she may not. I’ve given her something to
decrease the swelling on the brain, and hopefully that
will take care of most of it.”
“When will you know more?”
“I’d give it another twenty-four hours or so. By then
I should have a better picture of her condition.” His
eyes were filled with concern, but also with hope.
“So not everyone aboard the station is a total
asshole,” Will thought to himself.
That was good to know. Not that he thought Bashir was
a choirboy, but he had certainly changed since Sisko’s
run-in with him. Maybe Jadzia’s death had taken some
of the hatred and violence out of him. Who knew? All
that mattered to Will was that the man seemed
competent and capable, and seemed to actually give a
shit about Beverly. Although whether that was because
he had really grown a conscience, or because he was
afraid of the First Commander’s wrath, Will didn’t
“Thanks, Bashir. I’ll check in tomorrow and see how
“Don’t worry, I won’t let anything happen to her. I
know…I know how much she means to you.”
Will blushed, realizing that Julian was indeed making
sure that the First Commander’s mistress was going to
come out of this alive. Looking into the shorter
man’s eyes he could see that he was afraid of him.
For a split second he wanted to tell him everything,
to reassure him that he wasn’t in danger. But, he
realized that Bashir would probably call for Worf, the
Second in Command, and he would not be so sympathetic
to Will’s plight. Especially not after he realized
what Will had done to his Intendant.
Nodding curtly, Will thanked the doctor and left
sickbay, taking a look over his shoulder at Beverly as
he moved towards the doors.
He moved down the hallway like a blind man. Shapes
and colors flickered before his eyes, but he couldn’t
truly see the people he was walking among. He could
hear snatches of conversations, distant growling,
bell-like laughter. But none of it made an impression
on him. All he could see was Beverly’s broken body.
She might be brain damaged, because of me. All
because I couldn’t deal with being in this place, all
because I wanted to forget I was here. Losing himself
in Beverly had been narcotizing, it calmed down his
fear, relaxed his mind so that he could think clearly.
It had helped him deal with that first terrifying
night in the prison cell, when he’d been afraid that
he’d never escape. Never make it back to Deanna. And
now, because of his needs, both emotional and
physical, Beverly could die. She could slip into a
coma and never come back, or awaken to find that her
brain was irreversibly damaged.
He’d screwed up, royally, and there was no one else to
blame. Suddenly he wanted to be home with Deanna so
badly that it was an ache in his chest.
He wished that they were still only friends so that he
could return to her, collapse into her arms and tell
her everything that happened. Prior to their new
relationship, she would’ve been a wonderful,
understanding friend; someone who could help him put
this fiasco into perspective. But things had changed,
and if she knew what he’d done, who he’d become, she
would hate him.
That was the bottom line, really. He could get the
information that the Intendant had on Cardassia, he
could return home a hero, giving his Captain exactly
what he’d asked for. An assignment like this was
worth a promotion, maybe even to Captain. But the one
thing that he would not find when he returned home was
a warm welcome from Deanna.
She would feel his guilt, sense his every emotion, his
every indiscretion. And when she asked him why he’d
allowed it to happen, when she demanded to know why
he’d hurt her, he wouldn’t be able to tell her. She
would never understand-hell, he didn’t understand.
This place, this life, that woman, they were all
getting under his skin; bringing out parts of him that
had long lain dormant. Could he really walk up to her
and say, “Oh, by the way, Imzadi, while I was away I
fucked two exquisitely beautiful women and I enjoyed
the hell out of it? I also killed over two dozen
guards with nothing but a phaser and my bare hands,
and you know, I enjoyed every second of it?” Hell no.
He was screwed. He had to go back, there was no
question. Picard was counting on him. But what would
his life be like when he got there?
Unable to answer his own questions, he forced himself
to move to the turbo lift. Calling for Garak’s
quarters, he knew the machine would take him to the
correct floor, that the computer would give him the
correct number of his quarters. And when he got
there, he would use that handy little item that Kel
had so generously given him to open the doors. He
would walk in, scavenge the room for information, and
walk out again; hopefully with what he’d came here
for. If Garak was half the Cardassian he thought he
was, then he would not be helping the Intendant with
her plans…however, he might be keeping the same
information for his own personal use.
Slipping the small silver circle from his pocket, he
fiddled with Garak’s door until it whooshed open.
Inside was a standard-issue set of quarters, with
regulation bed, replicator, bathroom, etc. But Garak
had gussied it up a bit. Above the bed hung a huge
silver and red Cardassian symbol, and on the
nightstand was a holo of Garak with Gul Dukat when
they were teenagers. On the walls were striking oil
paintings of Garak’s homeworld; some so unexpectedly
breathtaking that Will found himself for the first
time feeling regret that in his universe, their world
had been torn to shreds.
Sitting down on the bed, he stared at one of the
paintings for a moment, and then moved to dig in the
drawers of the nightstand. Numerous items filled the
small space; holos, one or two strips of latinum, silk
handkerchiefs, and a leather-bound copy of erotic
Cardassian poems. Will suppressed a smile, and pushed
the drawer closed.
Moving to the other side of the bed, he opened the
second nightstand drawer, and found that a single PADD
lie there. Picking it up, he fingered the buttons
until the screen’s display came to life. The entire
contents of the PADD were written in Cardassian. Will
had only a smattering of the language, gained from his
forays into the Enterprise’s library. He liked to
challenge himself by learning new languages; it had
been a hobby for years. But as much as he’d enjoyed
it, and as good as he’d been at it, he wasn’t sure if
his grasp of the language would be enough to discover
what was in the notes.
Garak could tell him, of course. But that would mean
taking him into his confidence. He wasn’t sure he was
ready to do that. No, he couldn’t do that-not unless
it was the last resort.
His eyes skimmed the unfamiliar letters and symbols,
his mind attempting to fill in the blanks. As far as
he could make out, this was a requisition order-made
out by the Intendant. A long list of Cardassian names
filled the screen, and beside each was a number.
Perhaps it was a list of the men they had already
kidnapped or killed from his universe. It would make
sense. He punched the buttons again, and this time a
holo image appeared. The face was familiar. The name
beside it even more so. Elim Garak.
Will’s brows shot up in surprise. They wanted the
other Garak-his universe’s Garak. But why? And if
this Garak was aware of it, what the hell was he doing
The questions were unanswerable, but at least they had
gotten his mind of his own troubles. For the moment.
Slipping the PADD into the interior pocket of his
uniform jacket, he left the room and headed for the
turbolift again. He spent the ride down debating with
himself; should he ask Garak about what was going on
or not? Should he take what he had and left, not
knowing if he had everything there was to be found, or
stay around and glean a bit more information out of
the Cardassian? If he could do it without blowing his
cover, he'd stay. There really wasn't another choice.
Sighing heavily, he headed for the turbolift, mentally
devising a way to interrogate one of the world's
greatest interrogators. He wasn't ready to face the
dungeon again, nor the intendant. No, before he headed
back down to the bowels of hell, he was going to have
another talk with Guinan. A little brew might fortify
him for the trip back down, and she might just have
more information for him.
Relieved to have made a decision, he jumped into the
turbolift. When it hit the seventh level, he jumped
out again, looked back and forth down the corridor,
and moved towards the bar. But before he could make
it to the entrance, he felt a stunning blow to the
back of his head, and fell to the floor, unconscious.
“What the f---?” he muttered as he hit the floor. He
wasn’t unconscious, but at the rate his head was
banging, he wished he were. With every ounce of
strength he had, Will lifted his torso off the floor
and glared upwards, into the face of his attacker.
Worf smiled grimly and folded his arms, looking like a
tall, Klingon statue. His long hair hung to his waist
in braids, his body covered in gunmetal gray; a
uniform suited to a man from Kronos…especially on this
side of the timeline.
“Worf…what the hell did you do that for,” Will
finally managed to say as he pushed himself up onto
“You have dishonored the Intendant. Even now, she
sits rotting in a prison cell like some p’tak. She
does not deserve such treatment. Especially from you,
her First Commander.”
“Look, Worf, she was going to kill me. She’d already
beaten Crusher within an inch of her life, what was I
supposed to do? Take it like a good boy, smile and
say “thank-you Ma’am may I have another”? Well no
thanks. If you ask me, that bitch got just what she
Worf bristled with anger, growling softly in the back
of his throat like a targ on the warpath. “You do not
get to choose what the Intendant does or does not
deserve. She is in charge of this station, not you,
Riker. I will see you hang for your treatment of our
Mistress. Come with me….” He leaned down, grabbed Will
by the arm and hefted him up to his feet.
Will’s head snapped up and he felt around in his
pocket for the phaser he’d used to dispatch the guards
on the previous night. Sliding in into his hand, he
pulled out of Worf’s grasp, and turned the weapon on
him, aiming straight for his chest.
“I don’t think so, Mr. Worf. Your Intendant is now
my prisoner. I am her First Commander, which means
that I am now in control of this station. If you
don’t like that, you can join your “mistress” in her
cell down in the dungeon. Is that understood?”
Worf merely lifted one large brow and stared down
disdainfully at Will.
“I understand, but I do not agree. If you are
unwilling to release the Intendant and take your place
in her prison cell, then I have no choice but to kill
you where you stand.”
Will smiled. “Oh really? With what? A Klingon
bat’leth? I don’t see any weapons on you, Worf.
Unless you have a knife hidden in the crook of your
The Klingon’s teeth bared, and he hissed at Will,
towering over him like a giant peering down at tiny
midget. “You do not show me the respect I deserve. I
will not allow you to take control of the station,
Riker. You do not deserve such an honor. That honor
belongs to me and me alone.”
“Where the hell did you get that idea? Did the
Intendant tell you that? If she did I’d like to see
proof. You really should get such commitments in
writing-especially when you’re dealing with the
Worf frowned, and looked away. “I saw no reason to
get an agreement in writing. It was enough for me
that she gave me her word. I am her parmachi, I have
shared her bed. I trust her in all things, First
Will fought down the image of Worf writhing on top of
Troi’s lush body. “Well I’ve shared her bed too, as
recently as last night, and I don’t trust her a damned
bit. She’s a conniving bitch and frankly, I’m tired
of being under her thumb.”
“You…but she told me that your “relationship” had
come to an end. She was quite certain that you were
sleeping with Crusher, and thus, turned to me for
A burst of laughter burst from Will’s mouth and he
continued to giggle, fighting to get himself under
control. “Turned to you for comfort. That’s a laugh.
That bitch wouldn’t know comfort if it bit her in the
ass. You know why she slept with you? To control
you. To make sure that you came back begging for
more, and when you did, she knew that she would have
you in the palm of her hand. Can’t you see she’s been
manipulating you from the beginning? Or did getting a
piece of her beautiful ass just blind you to the
That did it. Worf’s face filled with rage and he
fell upon Will, knocking them both to the floor. “You
will pay for this, Riker. You have dared dishonor the
Intendant, and now you have the audacity to dishonor
me by calling me a fool. You will pay Riker, and you
will pay now.” Slamming his fist into Will’s face,
Worf leapt upon him like a tiger, kneeling over him
and covering him completely with his heft.
Will struggled beneath him, moving his head left and
right to avoid the fists raining down on him.
Surreptitiously, he moved his fingers to the phaser
and slowly slid it into his palm. Then, as Worf moved
to punch him again, Will stabbed the phaser into
Worf’s stomach and fired, hoping like hell it was on
“AAARGH!” Worf screamed, and fell backwards, landing
a foot away from Will’s feet. He clutched the wound
on his stomach and breathed heavily, grunting out an
unintelligible sentence. “Riker…”
Will moved toward him and leaned over the body,
checking to see if he had actually killed him or
merely wounded him. “That’s what you get for fucking
with me, Worf. Now what do you have to say?”
The Klingon groaned, as blood spurted through his
fingers through the thick metal of his uniform. “You
p’tak!! I will have my day, First Commander. I will
regain my honor and that of the Intendant. You will
Will looked down at the phaser in his hand and found
that it had been set on Stun. So much for getting
Worf out of the way.
“You’ll live, Worf. But not unless you get help from
sickbay. I suggest you call for the doctor now before
all of that pretty red blood discolors the carpeting.
“Grrrr…get out of my sight. You are not worthy of my
attentions any longer. If I see you again, I will
kill you where you stand. There will be no second
Will laughed. “Well, since I’m the one with the
phaser and you’re the one laying wounded on the floor,
how worried do you think I am right now?”
“Human bastard! I can’t believe she ever let you
“And I can’t believe she ever let YOU touch her, you
Getting to his feet, Will brushed himself off and
wavered a bit from the shot he’d taken to the head.
“Where are you going?” Worf muttered.
“Not that it’s any of your concern, but I have
business to attend to.”
“Are you going to see the Intendant?”
“I might…tonight, probably. Why?”
“Tell her…tell her that I am waiting for her return.
I will wait for her instructions. She can count on me
to be here, serving her, when she gets back. Tell
Will’s eyes widened. He really loved her. Or
thought he did. Amazed, he looked down into Worf’s
face and gave him a stiff nod. “I’ll tell her.”
Shaking his head, Will walked past the prone figure
of Second Commander Worf and into the bar. Guinan was
sitting serenely at one of the tables, staring into a
large glass filled with bright blue liquid. At his
approach, she looked up, eyes hooded, hiding strong
emotion. “Well, I didn’t expect to see you again, Mr.
He slid into the seat across from her and leaned
across the table, his head still throbbing from Worf’s
attack. “And I didn’t expect to be back. To be honest,
I had hoped to be on my way home by now.”
“I take it you got sidetracked? Word has it that
you’ve got the Intendant confined in the dungeon. A
brave move, I must admit.”
“Yeah, well, she deserved it.”
Guinan smiled, sipped from her drink and motioned for
the waitress to bring Will a glass of ale. When it
was in front of him and he was steadily sipping,
Guinan leaned closer to him and spoke in a whisper.
“I don’t know what your plans are, Mr. Riker, but I
hope they’re good. You’ve stirred up things aboard
this station. While many of them are behind you,
there are those who resent your imprisoning the
Intendant and taking control of the station. I feel I
should warn you that if you continue with this, you
may not make it off the station and back to your
Will nodded, drank deeply, and then rubbed his
throbbing temples with his fingertips. “I know, I
just discovered just how unhappy some of the
Intendant’s loyal subjects are. Mr. Worf was more than
happy to show me how he felt about what I’ve done.”
Her eyes darkened, and her brows lifted slightly.
Looking stealthily around the room, she lowered her
voice even further. “That was only a taste of what is
in store for you if you continue this. Do you intend
on playing this game forever? Do you plan to stay here
indefinitely and take over the First Commander’s
Will blanched. The way she said that told him
instinctively that she knew. She knew that the real
First Commander was dead. “Guinan, how…how did you
“The rumor mill is very active aboard this station,
Mr. Riker. I’m sure that you and Mr. Garak thought
that you were the only ones in the dungeon with the
Intendant…but these walls have many ears, and most of
them are dangerous. I don’t know who killed First
Commander Riker, but someone did. And when he or she
discovers that you are taking his place, you, my
friend, will no doubt be next on the list.”
His stomach contracted, and he looked over his
shoulder, wondering who in the crowded throngs of
people living and working aboard the station could
have done this. Wondering who, right this minute,
could be planning for his demise…
From the beginning, he assumed that it had been the
Intendant who had imprisoned and killed the First
Commander. But the past few days had proven to him
that she was as in the dark as he was. She didn’t
doubt him one iota-in her mind Will was her Riker, no
questions asked. So if it wasn’t her pulling the
strings, then who?
“Guinan, I came here for information. You’ve got to
help me. Who do you think is behind this? I know
it’s not the Intendant; she’s under lock and key, to
coin a phrase. And Garak, he’s been with me by my
side since last night. But someone aboard the station
killed your First Commander. Do you have any idea at
all who it could be?”
She was silent for a moment, sliding her hands within
the folds of her flowing purple sleeves as though
warming them from an invisible chill. Thoughtfully
she pondered the question, carefully weighed her
answer, and then took a deep breath.
“I have some ideas, Mr. Riker. But if I were to tell
you it could mean my life. Right now, as we speak,
this bar could be bugged…they could be listening to
our every word. I’m afraid I can’t take a risk like
that. Not even for you.”
The room seemed suddenly noisy to Will, patrons
laughing, a couple of Klingons singing an old fighting
song in the corner as they toasted each other with
warm blood wine. The computer had begun to play music
as well; a jarringly loud tune from the 23rd century
that Will recognized as an old favorite of James
Kirk’s. With all of this racket going on, there was
not much of a chance that someone could over hear
“Guinan, are you warning me? Is there something
going on right now, right here, that you know about?”
She did not speak, but nodded twice. “Guinan, this
place is louder than a gang of Navy seamen at a
bordello on payday-no one can hear us talking. Now
why the reticence? You were willing to give me
information the first time I came by. Is it that you
don’t trust me?”
She shook her head “no”, and looked down into her
drink. Raising her eyes, she met Will’s and motioned
for him to get up. “Follow me,” she whispered, and
moved in a swift, flowing motion from her seat.
Guinan walked so fast he had to run to catch up, and
finally he did at the very back of the bar. A single
door in the wall opened, and Guinan slipped through
it, grabbing his hand and pulling him through.
“Computer, activate program Guinan-7-3-2-0.”
“Working…” The empty holosuite came brightly to
life in the form of a carnival. Loud calliope music
played as a huge red and white merry-go-round spun its
horses around in an endless circle. Shouts of
children filled the air as tiny legs tromped past
them, running towards the ride. On the left, a large
bench sat surrounded by trolleys where hot dogs and
cotton candy were sold. It was like being at the
circus, Will thought inanely.
“Come…” Guinan whispered, and she moved quickly
around a group of children holding balloons, to park
herself on the large wooden bench.
Will joined her, and looked frankly puzzled. “What
the hell are we doing here?”
“The noises here will cover our conversation much
better than the music in the bar. Here, on the
holosuite, it’s almost impossible to overhear a
private conversation; especially when a loud program
such as this one is playing. He won’t hear us here,
Will. We can speak freely.”
His head was reeling from the confusion, and from the
sick feeling in his stomach. Something was going on,
and he didn’t have a clue what it was. Or who.
Clearing his throat, he murmured, “All right, I give
up. What is this all about?”
“This is about saving your life, Mr. Riker. You see,
I’ve grown fond of you these past few days, and I
wouldn’t want to see your life end just because you
don’t know our ways. You are not one of us;
therefore, you should not be punished as one of us.
You are innocent.”
“Innocent? Of what?”
She sighed softly, and looked around the holosuite,
watching a small boy dancing around in a circle with a
clown. She looked back at Will and took one of his
hands into hers. “Of all that the Regent holds
against the First Commander. You see, the Regent is
prepared to have the First Commander killed. The only
problem with that is he is unaware that the real First
Commander has already met his end. He will focus on
you now, assuming you are the man he has been watching
all of these years.”
“Who is this Regent? What should I do to protect
myself? I can’t just take off and leave-not until I
have all that I came here for. Not until I find out
who really killed the First Commander.”
Looking sympathetic, Guinan squeezed his hand. “Mr.
Riker, I warned you about getting involved in this.
You can’t let your heart lead you-not in this place.
Not on this station. No one here gives a damn about
you, except perhaps Crusher and myself. The First
Commander is dead-I suggest you let him rest. Get
what you came for and go-before it’s too late. I
would really hate to see that handsome head removed
from your body.”
A chill moved through Will at her words. He hadn’t
realized that someone else was in a power position
aboard the station. He thought that the Intendant was
the sole power, the sole danger. Once he had her in a
cell, he thought he was reasonably safe. Apparently,
he was dangerously mistaken.
“I hear you. I promise to think about what you’ve
said. But you have to let me know-who is the Regent
and where can I find him?”
“The Regent lives on the highest level of the
station. He does not deign to come down to our levels
unless he absolutely has to. The Intendant has him
eating out of her pretty little hands, and so he has
not been much of a problem until recently. However,
now that he knows of your take over, and your
treatment of the Intendant…he intends to find you and
Will didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. People had
been trying to kill him since he’d gotten here-what
difference would one more make? He’d become almost
inured to the violence; it was simply a part of his
daily life-at least until he got off the station. He
could handle this-would handle this. There really
wasn’t any other choice.
“Let me give you something. I think that it will
help you in the days to come.”
She slid her hands into the pocked of her long caftan
and removed a golden object. Sliding it into his open
palm, she murmured softly in another language, words
he could not recognize. Then she smiled at him, for
the first time since he walked into her bar this
evening. Raising his brows, he opened his hand and
felt the elliptical object. As he thumbed it, it
popped open, and inside a small red light blinked
“What is this thing? What does it do?”
“It will tell you his location. It will warn you when
he is near, so you may take action, should that become
“But how will I recognize him? I know anything about
“I think that you will know him when you see him, Mr.
Damn, she was being enigmatic again. It wasn’t what
he needed at a time like this. “Dammit, Guinan, can’t
you just point him out to me? Show me a holo of him?
Anything so that I’ll know what I’m dealing with
before he comes to get me?”
She sighed again, hesitating. Reaching into the
folds of her robe, she pulled out a small PADD. “Are
you certain you wish to know his identity, Mr. Riker?”
“Of course I am! Why wouldn’t I? This guy wants me
dead, and until he comes for me, I’d like to know who
the hell I’m hiding from in the meantime.”
“All right. But, remember, you asked…”
Opening the screen on the PADD, she punched a series
of buttons. Then the screen came alive with brilliant
color. The holo was clear, the identity of the man
unmistakable. Will felt the blood run out of his face
and the sounds around him disappeared as the clamor of
the carnival noises was overlaid by the sound of blood
beating in his ears. The holo on the PADD’s screen
was of a man. A very familiar man.
Looking at Guinan with one brow raised, he murmured,
“Tell me you’re joking.”
“I’m afraid not, Mr. Riker.”
Stunned, he leaned against the back of the bench and
blew out a breath.
“Jean Luc Picard wants me dead….” he whispered.
It took hours of wandering around the station for it
to sink in. Will played games of Dabo at the back of
Guinan’s bar, getting his ass roundly beat by a
familiar-looking little Ferengi; spent time in a
holo-suite engaged in mock battle with a hefty-looking
Klingon who could have been Worf’s twin; and then
sampled a Bajoran meal at the little restaurant across
from Garak’s tailor shop. All of the activity had
filled the hours well, but what it had not done was to
help Will to accept the idea that his own Captain, a
man whom he loved and respected like a father, was
actually behind the evil machinations of this station.
Again the words flickered through his tired brain:
“Jean-Luc wants me dead.” It was impossible to
believe. And yet, after everything he had seen,
everything he’d been through in the rapid-fire pace of
the past few days, he knew he shouldn’t be surprised.
Since he’d arrived it had been one thing after
another, one person after another trying to harm him,
take his life, or worse. He’d survived all of it, and
was proud of that. But, he’d also had enough. Today
he felt broken, weakened, exhausted. It was time to
Briefly he had fantasized about going up to meet the
Regent, to see him face to face and deal with the
situation. After all, he’d killed plenty already-what
was one more person? Yet in his heart he knew that he
could no more kill Picard than the man in the moon.
He sure as hell hadn’t been able to kill the
Intendant, and look where that had gotten him. No, it
was best to get out now, while he was still alive. No
more showdowns, no more tests, no more. Garak could
do as he saw fit with the Intendant, and the Regent
could do as he saw fit with the lot of them. Will no
longer gave a shit. He was leaving-today. And it was
about damned time.
There was only one thing more he had to do before
heading for the docking bay. He didn’t relish the
idea of heading back into the dungeon, into those
catacombs of death and doom, but Garak was there and
he was the one person likely to have the information
that he’d come for. Will grabbed the nearest turbo
lift and called for the first level. On the descent
he recalled his painful flight from this area only
hours before; and wondered how it would feel to face
her one last time. She would sense his emotions,
would no doubt divine his intentions. He would have
to be strong---this was not the woman he loved, and if
the past few days hadn’t taught him that, he would
never, ever learn.
It hit bottom, and he jumped out, then walked the
massive, twisting path to where the cells lie. The
stench hit him anew, and he pulled a piece of cloth
from his pocket to cover his nose. Gods, it reeked.
Death, decay, blood, and human waste lingered in the
air as if trapped here for centuries. Images flashed
behind his eyes; skeletons in varying stages of decay,
bodies with rat bites, and worst of all, his own
familiar face in an endless silent scream. Will’s
stomach roiled as he remembered his counterpart, and
he quickly pressed the vision aside, unable for the
moment to deal with it.
Once he’d rid himself of it, his brain played with him
again, sending images of the Intendant to replace the
ones of his lost twin. Troi, smiling, her lips
colored with crimson; Troi’s black eyes filled with
anger as she stared contemptuously down at him from
the lofty heights of her power, Troi writhing beneath
him as he took her; tricking his mind into forgetting
his own Imzadi…. He shook his head again, unwilling to
deal with those images either.
His loud footfalls finally took him to Garak’s
location, and he forced his mind to go blank in case
the prisoner was awake. “I’m back, Garak,” he
muttered, slapping the Cardassian’s shoulder.
“Why First Commander. I didn’t expect to see you until
tonight…” the light blue eyes were filled with
shadows, the voice with some unnamable emotion. For a
moment, Will wondered if the man had switched
loyalties again, giving himself back to the Intendant.
“I didn’t expect to be here. I finished some business
I needed to take care of, but something else requires
my attention now and I’m going to need your help in
order to get it done.”
“Well, as you can see, our prisoner is sound
asleep-I’m sure she will be all right if I were to
leave my post.”
“Then you’ll help me?”
“Why wouldn’t I? Oh, I see…you’re afraid that in your
absence, the Intendant used her wiles to win me back
onto her side. Let me assure you, First Commander,
that you have nothing to worry about on that score.
She did indeed make her displeasure with me unknown,
but behind this force field she is completely
harmless. There was nothing she could do to tempt me
back…and so eventually she gave up, seeking refuge in
“But she’s planning something, isn’t she, Garak?”
“Mmm…well, I wouldn’t put it past her. She did have
a rather devious look in her eyes, and I did hear her
mention something about castrating you…but I wouldn’t
worry. She’s empathic, not magical-she can no more
escape that force field than you or I could.”
Will looked at her for the first time, steeling
himself against the reaction that his body and mind
were likely to have. She lay in a corner, sleeping
softly on the hard floor, her long ringlets sweeping
the dirty stone as they fell over her face. In sleep
she was innocence personified, and he felt as though a
hand had reached into his chest and pulled his heart
“All right, so she wants revenge against me—I can live
with that. Is there anything else she said that I
should be aware of?”
“Only this…she swore that she was going to give you to
the Regent once she escaped. She plans on letting him
carry out her revenge on you. The Regent is a
world-renowned torturer, First Commander, as I’m sure
you know. If he gets his hands on you…well, let’s
just say that you’d be begging for death within five
A shiver crawled down Will’s spine as he imagined
Picard in the role of torturer.
“But you just said that you aren’t worried about her
escaping, Garak. Do I have something to worry about
The eyes glittered briefly beneath the lights and not
for the first time, Will thought how much Garak’s
people looked like reptiles. “I would say no-at least
for now. However, if the Regent becomes determined,
he may very well come down her and let her out
himself. And if that happens, then his next move will
be to scavenge this entire station for you.”
“I’ll consider myself warned. Now, why don’t we get
out of here? I need your help and we must find a
place to talk where we won’t be overheard…”
“Oooh, a mystery! I do love intrigue, you know. Tell
me, what is the secret?”
“Not until you tell me where we can talk,
“I would think that you knew the nooks, crannies, and
hidey-holes of this station as well as I, First
Commander. After all…”
“Yeah, I know. I’ve been here for nine years, I
should know. Well, I haven’t exactly had a lot of
free time to roam around exploring. My time has been
divided between the Intendant’s bedchamber and the
execution chamber—doesn’t leave a lot of time for
“I understand. Well then, follow me…”
Will walked behind Garak, past the turbo lift. This
floor branched off in several different directions,
something he hadn’t noticed before. They walked down
a barren hallway filled with torches. Every few feet
a tall wooden sconce was bolted to the stonework,
casting gold shadows on their faces. The light was
minimal, but enough to etch out a path for their
footsteps, and enough to let Will see the row of doors
coming up on their right.
Doors. Why did these tall, wooden doors look so
familiar? The dream came back to him in pieces, and
he suddenly felt déjà vu. Although the setting was
completely different, this felt the same. It was as
if something or someone were guiding him along the
hall, tempting him to open one of the doors with the
promise of seeing his Imzadi again. He shook his
head. No, that had been a dream, nothing more. Deanna
Troi was not here in this universe, not here on this
station. And even if he ripped open every single one
of the doors, he would not find her behind them.
“Get a grip, Riker, you’re almost out of here. It’s
almost over.” That was good advice, especially since
Garak had disappeared into one of the rooms. Will had
lost track of him during his musings and now he had to
figure out which door the man had hidden behind.
“Garak…where are you?” he called softly.
“Come further forward, First Commander. The last door
on your left…”
As he approached it, Will felt a shiver of misgiving.
What if Garak were in league with the Regent? What if
this were an elaborate trap? He had been gone for
several hours—plenty of time for Garak to contact
Picard. He hesitated just outside the door. It could
be a trap, yes, but he needed Garak. He had to take
the chance. He’d lost his self-respect and his
innocence on this trip; he sure as hell didn’t want to
stay long enough to lose his soul too.
Pushing the heavy door inward, he walked into a dimly
lit room and found Garak sitting at a large, round
wooden table. Fat white candles sat in the middle of
the table raised on black sconces, sending shadows
across the room. The room was bare except for the
table and chairs, and held a heavy, musty odor that
probably came from decades of neglect. Gingerly
sitting in one of the tall chairs, Will leaned across
“Good job. I wouldn’t have known this was here,
“Well, I am not a simple tailor, you know. I have had
my own adventures, my own mysteries. Before coming
here I was a member of the Obsidian Order.”
Will laughed. “I can’t believe you’d admit that.”
“Why ever not? The Intendant knew when she acquired
my services that I’d had a rather lively past…she
seemed to think it made me a good candidate for the
job. Now, why are we here, First Commander? You look
like a man who carries many secrets of his own…”
The moment had arrived. He could either tell Garak
everything, ask for his help and take his chances, or
continue to play the role of First Commander and come
up with some reason for wanting the information.
Clearing his throat, he decided.
“I need some information, Garak. But you are not to
tell anyone, not the Intendant or the Regent about
this. If you do this for me, it will be strictly
Above the candlelight, Garak’s eyes widened and
lightened, filling with interest.
“My loyalties are now with you, Riker. I will do as
you say, if I can. What kind of information do you
“The takeover. I know that the Intendant has been
taking Cardassians from the other universe and
bringing them here. I know she’s been torturing them,
gathering information about their world, and then
killing them. I also know that she is planning on
taking over Cardassia in our universe...for what
purpose, I don’t know. But I have to find out
everything I can about this, Garak. Today.”
Garak looked an unhealthy shade of puce. His fingers
knotted together, twisting, cracking, folding on the
table. His eyes glimmered menacingly, and for the
first time, Will could see the danger behind the
effete façade. “Are you telling me that the Intendant
and the Regent are plotting to take over my planet?”
“You mean, you didn’t know? But I thought you were
the eyes and ears of Terok Nor. Surely you must’ve
heard something about this…”
“No, I’m afraid I didn’t. But now that you’ve told
me, things are falling into place. I wondered why the
Regent was absent so much of the time, what his
destination was. I also wondered why the Intendant
saw fit to question me about my people on so many
separate occasions. I was foolish enough to be
flattered-to think that she was becoming interested in
me again. Now I see that she was simply using our past
relationship to glean information from me.”
“That sounds like her all right.”
“I can’t believe how she deceived me! I’ve put my
people in danger, First Commander. Do you have any
idea what that feels like?”
“I can imagine. Now that you know, what will you
His eyes glittered like jewels, filling with hard,
cold anger. “I don’t know. I must take time to think
about this and decide a fitting response. After all, I
can’t let them get away with this, can I?”
“No. For whatever it’s worth, I wasn’t involved. I
knew nothing about this until last week and never came
to you because I assumed that you knew.”
“You also assumed I was involved.”
Will sighed and looked up at the ceiling. “Yes, I
admit I did think you were involved. But I was wrong.
Are we still allies, Garak?
“I suppose we are. I am grateful that you’ve given
me this information, First Commander. The Intendant
would never have allowed me to become aware of what
she was planning. Now that you’ve helped me, what can
I do for you? You mentioned wanting to discuss
something with me…”
“I hoped that you would have the information about the
plans to take over Cardassia. I was looking for
notes, diagrams, details—anything that would tell me
exactly how and when this operation was going to take
place. But I see that you’re as much in the dark as I
Garak looked away, pondering. “I am quite in the dark,
First Commander. However, I may be able to find this
information you seek.”
“All right. I have a feeling you have some idea of
where I might find what I need. Will you take me
Garak looked back at him, meeting his eyes across the
table, unsmiling. “I will. For a price.”
Great, just what he needed, another deal. “Name your
price and I’ll see what I can do.”
“Help me to stop the Regent and the Intendant from
taking over my planet.
The world slowed down as the words sunk in. Garak
wanted him to be his ally, to stand with him. Garak
had certainly gotten his back before-he owed him. But
if he stayed, there was no chance of getting back home
anytime soon. His plan to leave tonight would be shot
to hell, and he didn’t know when he would get another
chance if this became a prolonged situation…
Swallowing hard, Will finally responded. “Garak, look,
I owe you big time. I realize that. And I don’t mind
paying up. But I have to leave the station tonight,
and I can’t do that if I hang around to play games
with the Regent and the Intendant.”
“You’re leaving? But why? Where are you planning to
go? Forgive my interest, but I must admit I’m
“I can’t tell you where I’m going, Garak. I wish I
could. All I can tell you is that I need this
information before I leave…will you help me or not?”
Silence grew between them, filling the room with an
edgy tension. Garak was angry, and rightfully so.
“I’ve done everything I could to help you these past
few days, First Commander. I’m disappointed that you
don’t feel the need to return the favor.”
“I know. I wish I could stay and help you—I really
do. But I have got to leave tonight. I can’t explain
right now. But you won’t be alone in your stand
against the Regent and the Intendant. Hell, she’s
still your prisoner-she can’t do very much to harm
your people from a cell. And, as far as the Regent, I
doubt that he would act without her. Gather as many
people as you can to your side—you’re not the only
Cardassian aboard the station. When the time comes,
your group can take action-do whatever is necessary to
stop them. You can handle this without me, Garak. I’m
sure of it.”
“Perhaps. Since you are determined to leave, then I
must at least ask you one question.”
“Where are you going? What business takes you off
the station at a time like this? Leaving the Intendant
imprisoned, leaving the station without a commander, I
really don’t understand.”
“But I’m not leaving the station without a commander.
The Regent will be more than happy to take over, I’m
“No, no, you don’t understand. He is a figurehead.
Oh certainly he holds power, but the actual running of
the station has been done strictly by the Intendant
and yourself. Without either of you in charge, things
will deteriorate rapidly. And the Regent will not do
anything about it. The most he will do is free the
Intendant so that she might help him with his plans.
There will be chaos here, First Commander. These
people are used to having someone to answer to. Now
that their Intendant is in prison, they are looking to
you to be their leader. You can’t just leave without
placing someone else in charge.”
That stopped him. He hadn’t thought of what would
happen once he left. The people aboard Terok Nor did
not know that their First Commander was really dead;
they were looking to him to be their leader. Damn.
It wasn’t really his problem, he could still leave.
But the fact that he had chosen to take on this
persona gnawed at him. He wished he’d never begun the
game. It would’ve been easier to come aboard as
himself and risk capture.
“Look, I hear you. I understand what you’re saying.
But I have to leave. I can’t tell you any more than
that. Now, will you help me? If you do, I will place
you in charge while I’m away. Everyone will know that
you are my right hand, that you are in control. Fair
“I suppose it will have to be, won’t it?” Garak rose
from the chair and moved towards the door, and Will
jumped up to follow him.
“Where are we going?”
“To the Regent’s repository. I believe that any
information you seek will be held there.”
“Thank-you, Garak. I owe you one.”
“Well, you’ve given me information that I needed,
information I would not have had if it weren’t for
you. I suppose we can call it even.”
Will grinned. “Great. Now let’s get going. I want
to get out of here.”
Will closed the door behind him and followed Garak's
broad back through the tunnels again. Focused so
completely on his next objective, Will forgot all
about the little object in his pocket.
Hidden from view, in the darkness of his pocket, the
little red light began to pulse.
They traveled upward through the station's many
corridors, crawling through tunnels as though they
were large spiders. Rather than take the turbo lift,
Garak had decided it would be easier to maintain
secrecy if they moved through the station on foot,
hiding whenever they found it necessary. It was a
good idea, but Will was exhausted already, weary of
the game and everyone aboard the station.
As he climbed, he thought of Deanna. He allowed her
face to fill his mind, allowed his love for her to
rise up and fill his chest. If he could just get what
he needed, he could see her again in a matter of days.
The thought of stepping off the shuttlecraft, hitting
his communicator, and letting her know he’d arrived
home was so wonderfully tempting that he couldn’t stop
thinking of it. He could see her in his mind’s eye,
running to take him in her arms, and he could almost
feel the weight of her body, almost smell the gardenia
scent of her hair. God he missed her.
Moving upwards, he climbed the fifth in a series of
ladders that was designed to take them up to the
topmost level of the station without being immediately
detected. It was tiring work, but would be worth it
if it got him what he wanted. He was ready to go home
now, ready to try and resume his own life—if in fact,
it could be done. He knew himself better than to
think that his experiences aboard Terok Nor had not
changed him in some ways, but he hoped that rather
than making him into a different man, that they would
instead teach him to appreciate the life that he lived
with Deanna aboard the Enterprise.
This was, of course, assuming that Deanna would be
willing to have a relationship with him once he
returned. He was still terrified of the notion that
she might find out about his sexual escapades and end
things right then and there. But he hoped that he’d be
able to keep it to himself, explaining away the guilt
that she would no doubt sense with some other
explanation. “Keep dreaming, Riker,” he muttered
“What was that you said, First Commander? I’m afraid
these tunnels aren’t suited for conversation.”
“Nothing, Garak. Just talking to myself. How much
further is it, by the way?”
“Not far. Keep climbing, First Commander. We will
reach our destination shortly.”
Great. He rolled his eyes, pulled his hands away
from the ladder one at a time and shook them, hoping
to keep the blood pumping. Already they ached, and as
he moved upwards into an endless black tunnel, he
wondered if his legs were going to continue to hold
him. For a split second, he allowed himself to look
down-a big mistake. Vertigo took hold of him, causing
the tunnel and the image of Garak above him to spin
“What was that?”
“I…nothing. Keep climbing, Garak. I’m right behind
you,” he said with bravado, hoping to keep the sound
of fear out of his words. He’d nursed a terror of
heights ever since he was a child, and now, hundreds
of feet above the ground, he felt as though he were on
top of the Empire State Building, looking down at the
shining streets below. The depth was similar, and
growing by the moment, giving him the otherworldly
feeling of floating above everything around him. It
was spooky, and he couldn’t wait to reach the top, to
grab hold of gravity again.
Eons later, they reached a long ladder, and when
Garak reached the top he shouted down, “We made it,
First Commander. Come, let me give you a hand.”
Will reached for the man’s hand and allowed himself
to be dragged upwards. His feet hit bottom for the
first time and he breathed a loud sigh of relief, not
caring if Garak saw his discomfiture or not. When he’d
gotten his breath and felt steady on his feet, he
looked around, surprised. This was not what he had
expected. They were in a circular area, roughly 1000
feet wide, and there were dark black metal doors
spaced every hundred feet or so. “God, it’s huge,” he
muttered, forgetting again that he was supposed to be
the First Commander, supposed to know this station
inside and out.
“Yes, it is isn’t it? I don’t suppose your work ever
forced you to come up to this level, did it?”
“No. I was always curious, but the Intendant kept me
on a short leash—guess she didn’t want me making
friends with the Regent.”
Garak grinned at that. “I would be surprised if
anyone could make friends with that man…oh the
Intendant, surely, but only because she has…um…certain
charms that were attractive to him. But you and
I….he’d just as soon kill us as look at us, I’m sure.”
“No doubt. Well, before we run into him, why don’t
you show me where this repository is, Garak? I’m
ready to get out of here…”
“Right this way…” Garak moved towards the far side
of the circle, counting doors. When he’d hit the
tenth one, his scaly fingers played with the controls
on the wall, feeling for the right combination. “They
change this thing every few weeks, and so I am never
entirely certain of the right combination. However, I
have hit upon it more than once by sheer luck, so
let’s hope that my luck continues to hold.”
Will moved to his position, standing behind him,
watching his fingers play over the controls.
“Garak…won’t the Regent be watching this area? I
mean, the Intendant has holovid displays in her
quarters that watch certain parts of the station-I’m
sure the Regent wouldn’t be adverse to doing the
“Are you concerned he might be watching us right now?
Well, don’t be. You see, I know his daily schedule
almost as well as I know the back of my hand. Right
now, even as we speak, he is indulging in his daily
massage, as well as other extracurricular activities.
The Bajoran prostitutes are very fond of him, you
know. I would venture to guess that we have about two
hours of freedom before he would even think to check
his holovid displays.”
Will breathed a silent sigh of relief. “That’s good.
Now, how are you coming? Do you need help?”
“Almost there, First Commander. Give me a moment…”
Garak fingered the keys again, and then to the
surprise of them both, the door slid up, allowing them
“Good job, Garak. Now show me this repository.”
“Follow me.” He moved stealthily inside, and Will
followed, hearing the door slide shut behind them.
They were in a large square room, devoid of any light
save that which came through the windowed ceiling from
the stars. In the corner sat a heavy, tall object
that looked like a chest of drawers. Garak moved
towards it and ran his fingers along its front,
looking for a method of access. “Do you have a
penlight, First Commander?”
“Shine it over here, will you?”
Will palmed the small instrument, and shined a beam
of light over the chest, not seeing any point of
access. There was no keyhole, no PADD of buttons to
push. Nothing that he could see. But Garak found
something…for the front panel of the chest opened
immediately. It slid up, much like a small door, and
inside lay a safe.
Pulling it out, Garak dusted it off and searched for
a method of entry. On the top of the safe he found an
old-fashioned series of numbered buttons that could be
spun in any direction to make a combination. The
problem was that there was an infinite amount of
numerical combinations, and they certainly didn’t have
time to try them all.
Frustrated, Will knelt down beside him, wondering how
they were going to get in.
“Any clue as to what the combination is, Garak?”
“None, I’m afraid. However, don’t give up just yet. I
do have one trick up my sleeve that may help us.”
“Whatever it is, go to it.”
“All right.” Setting the safe down on the floor,
Garak reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a
small silver instrument. Sliding it inside the catch,
his fingers played with the numbers and he listened to
them as they circulated. It took nearly a half hour,
but finally he hit upon the right sequence of numbers
and the safe popped open with a loud snap.
Inside, lay a PADD along with several paper documents
and maps. Will grabbed the safe from Garak’s hands
and looked inside. Sitting on the floor, he pawed
through everything, recognizing the map as a perfect
replica of his universe’s Cardassia. And on the PADD,
he saw schematics for a machine…a transporter-like
machine that could beam a multitude of people to a
location all at once, rather than person by person.
He also found pages of notes detailing the Regent’s
interest in Cardassia and his plans for the planet in
this universe. They had struck gold, and for the
first time in days Will found himself able to smile.
“Garak, you did it! We’ve got it! Thanks for your
help---I owe you one big time.”
The Cardassian looked up at Will and smiled. “Yes, we
did it, didn’t we? I’m grateful for your help,
Commander. If it weren’t’ for you and this plan of
yours, I would never have known about the plans that
the Regent and Intendant had for my people.”
“Well, just remember what I said. You and the crew
can take on the Regent and stop this….especially now
that I’ve got their plans and don’t plan on bringing
them back any time soon.”
Garak studied Will intently for a moment, and then
his eyes widened ever so slightly. “First Commander,
you…you don’t intend to ever come back from this trip,
Will shook his head. “Not if I can help it.”
Garak was silent, contemplative. Will could almost
see the gears working in his mind, and he wondered
with a slight shiver if the man had at last discovered
“I know we don’t have much time, First Commander, but
since we are here, away from prying eyes and listening
ears…may I ask you a question?”
Will felt his stomach tremble and his extremities
grow cold. It was coming, the only question was how to
handle it. Clearing his throat, he murmured, “Sure.”
“You aren’t really First Commander Riker, are you?”
Will sat down on the floor with a heavy thump, his
eyes flying to the ceiling.
“Shit. I was afraid you were going to ask that.”
“Why? Did you think that I would harm you? Turn you
into the Regent?”
“Well, as you can see I’m not holding a phaser to
your head, First Commander, and I have no plans to
turn you in. Why don’t you tell me who you really are?
I’d like to think that after all we’ve been through
these past few days that you might begin to think of
me as your friend.”
God knows I need one, Will thought gloomily.
Frightened but resigned, he leaned back against the
smooth dark wall and closed his eyes. “You’re
right-I’m not the First Commander. I am William T.
Riker, but I’m from another universe. I came here to
get information for my Captain about the activities
aboard this station, about the plans your people have
for Cardassia. It was to be an undercover mission,
with me playing the role of First Commander. I was
supposed to get in, get the information I came for,
and then get home-without any of you ever knowing my
Garak’s eyes shone with admiration. “Well, I am
certainly impressed. I must admit you did a credible
job. You had me almost completely fooled.”
“What gave me away?”
“I’m afraid that this morning, when you left the
dungeons, I overheard your…distress. I don’t think
that the real First Commander Riker would have been
capable of tears.”
Will flushed brightly, looking down at the floor.
“Oh, it’s all right, Mr. Riker. If I may call you
that. You see, you’ve shown evidence of a heart these
past few days, and there is nothing wrong with that.
If more of our people were able to show such concern
and compassion, I doubt that there would be so many
deaths aboard this station.”
“Well…thank-you, Garak. I don’t know what to say.”
“Say nothing. And know that I intend to keep your
secret for as long as you are here.”
“I appreciate it, Garak. I really do. I owe you big
time. Which reminds me…I guess now you know why I
can’t stay and help you….”
“Yes, I do understand now that I know the truth. This
is a problem my people and I must deal with, it is
truly not your concern. Yet, I want you to know that I
am grateful for the help and information you have
given me…you did not have to be so generous. I won’t
forget it, Mr. Riker.”
Will nodded, not knowing how to respond to that.
After a moment, he rose to his feet and Garak did the
same. Pocketing the information, Will said, “I’ll get
copies of this made and send to your quarters before I
“I appreciate it. Tell me, Mr. Riker, before you
leave…are you going to say good bye to the Intendant?”
Will’s brow rose towards his hairline and he stopped
in his tracks. “I…I don’t think so. I’m ready to get
out of here and I have nothing more to say to her.”
“You love her don’t you?”
“No. I love her counterpart in my world. The Deanna
Troi that I know is far different than your Intendant.
She is kind, loving, compassionate, spiritual,
beautiful, and the most wonderful woman alive. She is
my heart, my Imzadi. And no matter how much the
Intendant resembles her, she will never be the woman
my Deanna is.”
“And yet, you shared intimacies with her, did you
God. The memories assaulted him then, and he was
painfully embarrassed. He could recall with perfect
clarity how it had felt to take the Intendant, how her
voice had sounded as her pleasure rose, how she felt
beneath his body, how it felt to be inside of her.
Remembering was horrible…not because it wasn’t
pleasant, but because it was too pleasant. Already his
body was attempting to respond to the images in his
mind, and he quickly shut them off before he could
really make an ass of himself.
“I did. But it was a mistake. She is not the woman I
love and I am not her First Commander.”
“Do not feel too badly for giving into temptation,
Mr. Riker. Only a man with a heart and body made of
stone could look at her and not want to make love to
Will nodded, again, unable to think of anything to
say. The truth was, he was embarrassed by his behavior
and wanted to forget the whole thing had ever
happened. Now that it seemed possible to leave the
station, it seemed he would finally get away from
her…away from the trap that she and this station held
“Let’s get out of here…the Regent might come at any
moment. I want to be as far away from here as possible
when he decides to check his repository.”
Garak took the lead again, moving towards the
door. Touching the keypad, he waited for the door to
slide into the ceiling. When it did, he began to move
forward, but was rocketed backwards into Will’s arms,
knocking them both on their asses.
It had happened so fast that Will had scarcely
registered it. A bright beam of phaser fire had struck
Garak in the chest and nearly hit him as well.
Struggling to move, Will looked upwards at the door,
trying to see who had made the shot. From the pale
light of the doorway, he could see the figure of a
man. He stood there, phaser in his hand, smiling
widely. It was the Regent.
Seeing Picard’s’ familiar face struck Will directly
in the chest and he swallowed hard. His heart thudded
painfully; a rhythmic tattoo that seemed to be so loud
everyone on the station could hear it. “Regent…”
“Yes, First Commander, it is I.”
“Shit…” Will began, but before he could say anything
else, he was silenced by a phaser blast straight to
Steaming. His flesh was steaming. Boiling over into
something that looked nothing at all like normal skin.
Bubbles burst and flickered over the stark whiteness
of his chest and a long, black burn sizzled its way
from his sternum to his abdomen. It should have hurt
like hell, should’ve kept him unconscious for hours,
but instead, he was awake and aware. In fact, his own
screams had awakened him, throwing him into the
painful present with a jolt.
Will opened his eyes slowly, wincing as he struggled
to sit up. His hand moved along the jagged burn,
feeling the crisp, toasted flakes of flesh fall
beneath the brush of his fingers. It sickened him.
Swallowing his nausea, he forced his body into a
sitting position and looked for the first time at his
surroundings. He was in a great black marble room,
one that seemed oddly out of place if it was part of
the space station. Tall pillars topped with flaming
torches sat on either side of a high doorway, their
light flickering off the gilded stone walls like the
gentle fire of a candle. Wherever he was, it was
certainly impressive. Lovely, even. But that didn’t
explain how he’d gotten there. Or, more importantly,
where the hell he really was.
“Is anyone there?” he called, wishing to see a
“You are not alone, Mr. Riker, if that’s what you’re
asking. No, in fact, you are surrounded by faces from
the past. Faces that I am sure you will find quite
comforting. Come, all of you, into the room. Our
guest is waiting.”
Jean-Luc’s voice rang through the room, grating on
Will’s ears. He felt his heartbeat quicken in his
chest, knowing that this was not the voice of his
Captain, but that of his twin. The Regent had shot
him with a phaser blast, nearly killing him, and yet
at present, he was speaking in tones that were nearly
friendly, conciliatory. Will swiveled his head around
90 degrees and was able to see where the voice was
coming from. On a jeweled throne, dressed in a long
red cape and black uniform, was the Regent. He looked
commanding, in control. Completely at ease with
himself. Just as Jean-Luc often looked when in
negotiations with alien races. There was something
compelling about it; Will found himself feeling a
grudging respect for the man as he watched him, simply
because he resembled so strongly the man whom he’d
come to love as a father. The man he would’ve given
his life for many times over, if asked. The man who
was suddenly very sorely missed.
Clearing his throat, Will grunted in pain as he swung
his body around to face the man. “Regent. What have
you done with me? Where are we? This doesn’t look
like any part of Terok Nor that I’m familiar with.”
Picard grinned, his hazel eyes lighting as he took in
his own surroundings. “You’re quite right, Mr. Riker.
This is not a room on Terok Nor, but a cleverly
designed holosuite program provided by a very good
friend of mine.”
“And what is its purpose?”
A casual smile crossed the man’s features. “Purpose?
I see. You’re wondering where the torture devices are,
why there are not metal chains upon the walls.
Despite my reputation, I am a man of fine tastes.
This room suits me, Mr. Riker. Terrible in it’s
loveliness, and all of that. It is, as you might
imagine, just as suitable for entertaining royalty as
it is for delivering punishment. The purpose is
simply to bring you onto neutral ground. Oh, I thought
of having you delivered to my quarters, but then I
realized that this would be much more suitable. And
now that we have explanations out of the way, why
don’t you say hello to your friends? I know that
you’ve been wanting to see them very much.” Picard
slapped a hand to a hidden communicator, murmured a
few soft words, and then the Intendant and Beverly
came walking into the room, followed by a very angry
The emotions that filled Will’s brain were so
confused, he didn’t know whether to be glad to see
them or horrified at the physical reminder of his
sins. Worf was much easier to look at, simple hatred
flowed between the two of them, and so Will was
careful to keep his eyes on him rather than on the two
beautiful faces across the room.
“You don’t seem to be eager to see your lady friends,
Mr. Riker. I must say, after indulging yourself so
intensely with both of them, I would think you would
welcome the opportunity to greet them again.”
“You thought wrong, Regent. I’m not in the mood for
games. You nearly sliced me apart with your phaser,
now I’m trapped in this…whatever the hell this program
is supposed to be….and you think I should be happy
“Perhaps you should not be so quick to speak. I
believe it is you who have been playing games, Mr.
Riker. And very well, if the holovids of your
interactions with this station’s members are anything
to go by. You seem to have fooled them all. Even the
one person who should have known better…” Picard
stood, walking towards the Intendant. He slid a
single fingertip down her cheek, enjoying the quick
shiver that passed through her body. “My lovely
Deanna. You of all people must’ve known that this man
was not our First Commander. And yet, the truth never
once occurred to you. Why do you suppose that is?”
Troi looked surprised, her large black eyes filled
with warring emotions, settling on Will with a heavy
stare. “I do not know. He…he fooled me. It isn’t my
fault he got away with it, the bastard.”
“Ah, but you see, I have a bit of trouble believing
you, Deanna. You are empathic, are you not? Those
Betazoid senses of yours should have told you almost
instantly who this man was. And yet, you chose to
believe that he was your very own First Commander.
Why was that, do you suppose?”
She looked up at the Regent, shaking slightly, with
fear or anger Will couldn’t tell. “I told you, I do
not know. He felt like my Riker, looked like my
Riker, made love like…” she broke off, seeing the
sudden flush of heat upon the Regent’s cheeks.
“I…didn’t mean…” she began, but Picard was having
none of it. Delivering a stinging slap across her
face, he sent her sprawling with the strength of it.
“I think you did, Intendant Troi. You pretended that
Riker was only a pawn, someone to do your dirty work
for you. I knew that you’d been intimate, everyone
aboard the station was aware of your situation. But
what I did not know, was that you enjoyed the
relationship so…heartily. You loved him, didn’t you?”
The angry pain behind the question was as obvious by
the shadowed look in his eyes as it was by the hard
weight of his words.
Deanna was still on the floor, struggling to her
feet. “All right, yes, I did. I loved William Riker.
Is that a crime? I recall no such arrangement between
the two of us.”
“You were mine, Intendant. Any power you held over
the people on this station was given by me. I pulled
the strings, you were merely a figurehead. I was
content to allow you full control as long as you came
to me every night and graced my bed with your
presence. But it was to be understood that you were
mine all along. I don’t care that you tangled amongst
the sheets with that ruffian, but to love him? How
could you do such a thing? Did you think I would
Troi looked down at the glossy floor, shaking her
head. Will felt his heart go briefly out to her. She
was afraid of the Regent, he could see that now.
“I don’t know what to say. Riker is…was…my Imzadi.
We were one. I could not help but love him.”
Picard moved back to the throne and deposited himself
upon it, looking around the room in digust. Finally,
he spoke again; choosing his words so carefully that
Will could feel their painful tips penetrating the
Intendant’s heart. “Well, my dear. Since that is the
case, it must grieve you deeply to know that the man
you love is now a rotting corpse. His body lay only a
few cells away from your own, did you know that? You
were so very close to him, and yet never knew that he
was dead. I find that amusing, not to mention
Deanna’s face turned several shades of pink before
bleaching out to pearl white. Shaking, she fell to
her knees, making soft keening sounds within her
throat. “No…Gods no.”
“I realize you are pained by this information, my
dear. But you see, there was no choice. It had to be
Deanna’s dark head moved upwards, her eyes pinning on
the Regent. “No…choice. What does that mean? What
are you trying to say?”
Picard smiled then, at both Deanna and Will, looking
for all the world like a benevolent king bestowing
good news upon his people. “Well, you see I am a bit
more intelligent than you give me credit for. I knew
the moment Mr. Riker here came aboard our station that
he was a counterfeit of the real First Commander. And
yet I allowed him to play the game, curious as to what
his purpose was. The reason I did not immediately
apprehend him was because I did not want you to become
aware of the fact that I had killed your lover. That
would not do, especially not when I had so much work
for you to attend to on my behalf. So you see, it
suited my own plans entirely to have Mr. Riker
continue his guise as our own Riker. It worked out
very well, I must admit. Until he and Mr. Garak chose
to invade my personal belongings. It was then that I
knew for certain why he had come to our universe.
Unfortunately for you, Mr. Riker, I won’t be allowing
you to leave with the information you were so intent
Will started to speak, but was interrupted by a loud,
long scream. The Intendant flung herself upon the
throne, slapping at Picard with both hands. “You
bastard! You killed my Imzadi! You killed my First
Commander! How? How could you? I hate you, I hate
you, I hate you!” Her long red fingernails scratched
Picard’s cheeks, and her fists pummeled his chest
again and again. He did not move, did not attempt to
restrain her, but simply uttered a name. “Mr. Worf”
And then the Klingon moved to pull Deanna off of
Picard, holding her tightly in his arms, pulling her
thin arms behind her back.
“You will not assault me in such a manner again, Ms.
Troi. Do I make myself clear?”
In a rage, she tried to pull herself out of Worf’s
grip, kicking at his heavily armored shins, but he was
too strong. She was subdued within minutes, hanging
from his grasp, looking like a well-worn cloth doll.
Exhausted, she was unable to speak, but continued to
glare at Picard.
“Well, now that that is out of the way, I think that
Ms. Troi should be taken to her quarters, Mr. Worf.
She seems in need of a bit of rest.”
“I will take care of it, Sir,” he murmured, and
pulled Deanna from the room.
Will had watched the whole spectacle with his heart
in his stomach, wondering if the Intendant had gone
too far. He was certain that she was going to be
killed, or at least punished, and found himself
breathing a hearty sigh of relief, knowing that she
was only going to be taken to the familiar confines of
her own quarters.
Beverly, who had been cowering in the corner, now
came over to Will on long, trembling, dancer’s legs,
looking like a doe caught in the lights of a hunter’s
“I can’t believe it. You had me fooled, you know.”
Her blue eyes were filled with something that he could
not name, something that was either admiration or deep
resentment. Possibly, a combination of the two. “You
had me believe that I was making love with him. With
the man that I loved. Oh yes, I know that he was
hers, but I loved him too. I always will. And
now….oh Gods, I can’t believe he’s dead. I can’t
believe that you aren’t him. Or that you and I…” she
let the sentence hang in the air, embarrassment
coloring her cheeks.
Filled with guilt, Will moved towards her, pulling
her into his arms for a hug.
“Bev…I’m sorry. It shouldn’t have happened. I know
that now. I never meant to use you or to hurt you, I
certainly didn’t mean to replace this man that you
cared so much about. But I had to get onto the
station, and taking his identity was the only way I
knew how. I didn’t know that your Riker was dead
until a few days ago…God, I’m so sorry.”
She began to cry, and he held her tighter, not in the
sort of embrace they’d shared in their cell, but one
of friendship. “Why…are you being so nice to me? I
“Because, in my universe, you are one of my dearest
friends. I care for her so much, and you look exactly
like her. How could I not come to care for you too?”
He looked down at her, still amazed that he’d been
able to divorce himself so completely from his
emotions and from his love for Deanna that he was able
to make love to her. “That night…it was…wonderful.”
“Yes it was. But it shouldn’t have happened. There
is a woman in my universe that I love. Very much.
And if she ever knew about what happened here, she’d
never forgive me. I’m sorry I crossed the line. I
hope you can forgive me.”
Her eyes swam with tears and she wiped them with the
back of her hand.
“Well, I suppose I should be furious with you, but
I’m not. I didn’t know that Riker was…dead. But he
was, even on that night we spent together. And so, in
a way, you gave me one last night to be in his arms.
I won’t forget that.”
“Neither will I.” They looked at each other with
understanding, and then hugged again. And then,
Beverly looked to the Regent, who nodded. She left
the room, and suddenly Will and Picard were alone.
Until this moment, Will never thought that being
alone with Jean-Luc Picard could be terrifying, and
yet, that’s exactly what it was. His heart sped up,
knocking painfully against his ribs, and the burn in
his chest flared to life.
“Well, that was quite a lovely show you and Crusher
put on for me. If I didn’t know any better, I would
wager that the woman is in love with you. How
unfortunate for you both that your life is about to
come to its end.”
Will sighed, a world-weary sound that indicated just
how sick to death he was of the whole game. “Look,
you tried to kill me yesterday. Obviously, it didn’t
work. So the question is, why didn’t you make sure it
did? Why keep me only to kill me now?”
“I have reasons for keeping you alive, my friend. I
would see you tortured before going easily to your
death. A phaser blast…well, it was good enough to
knock you off your feet, but really, it was much too
easy. You did not suffer, Mr. Riker, and that is why
I kept you alive. So that I will have the chance to
punish you properly. In three day’s time, I will
bring the both of you into the Chamber. You will be
placed on matching Circles, and spun until you are
nearly unconscious. And then, you will be beheaded.
Standard punishment, really. I would think that after
living aboard this station you would be aware of the
ways in which we deal with those who have betrayed
“Oh I’m aware, all right. But I don’t think you’ll
“And why not?”
Will smiled widely, gingerly holding his burned
flesh. “Because, you love her. And I don’t think
anyone, not even you, could kill someone they loved.”
Picard’s face tightened, his smiled turned to a thin
frown. His hands clenched at his sides, gripping the
arm rests of the throne. Then his right hand moved to
slap at the hidden communicator once more. “Picard to
“Here sir,” came the reply.
“I have new orders for you regarding Intendant Troi.
You are to place her in her original cell down below,
along with our Mr. Riker. After that, you will await
“Understood sir. Worf out.”
Will felt his stomach curl with fear. He was going
to kill her. Even though he’d finally realized that
she wasn’t exactly the love of his life, he didn’t
want her to die. Just the other day, it would’ve been
satisfying to see this happen to her, but now, seeing
her so torn with grief over her lost lover, he felt
the ice that had frozen over his heart begin to thaw
ever so slightly. She was still a bitch, make no
mistake. But he didn’t want her to die. And she
wouldn’t. Not if he could help it.
“You won’t get away with this, Regent.”
“That’s where you’re wrong, Mr. Riker. You see, you
have no other allies aboard the station. No one to
come to your rescue. No, I’m afraid that everyone is
against you. They are all willing to do my bidding,
none will go against me. And so you see, it would be
futile to resist me.”
“You may think so. But there are people who would
stand with me against you. You may not realize it,
but I’ve made friends aboard this station. Friends
that would be happy to help me get away from you and
get the hell out of her.”
There was no look of surprise on Picard’s patrician
features. He looked utterly unaffected by Will’s
words. Moving off the throne, he walked to the door
and called for the program to end. The marbled room
disappeared, and they were in a standard holosuite,
filled with black and yellow lines. “Follow me, Mr.
Puzzled, Will did as he asked, walking through the
doors and into the spacious bar. He looked around,
searching for the familiar form of Guinan. But
instead of her flowing garments and tall headdresses,
he saw only an unfamiliar man behind the counter;
serving up drinks in an unsmiling manner.
Feeling a sudden premonition, Will muttered,
“Where is she?”
“All in good time, my friend.” Picard left the bar
and headed for the turbolift. Will joined him,
curiosity about his new friends filling his mind.
Where was she? And for that matter, where was Garak?
He hadn’t seen him since last night when the Regent’s
phaser blast had caught him right in the stomach. God,
was he dead?
A shiver of foreboding crept up his back as he
followed Picard. He knew where they were going and he
couldn’t help but wonder if he was going to find
Guinan and Garak in the same place he’d found the
First Commander—dead and rotting beneath the station
in a prison cell.
Will felt a shiver creep from his spine to his belly.
They were in the dank bottom level of the station
again, on level with rats, skeletons, the scent of
death, and the cold feel of old ghosts. He’d never
planned on coming down here again, but the surprise
actions of Regent Picard had changed all that. Now
instead of high tailing it out of here in his shuttle,
he was creeping through the corridors, his heart
pounding painfully in his chest, his mind wondering
wildly if his friends were dead. <<I should’ve left
when I had the chance, he grumbled to himself. I
should’ve disregarded Garak’s plan to stay here,
grabbed him and Guinan and thrown them on the Hawking.
I should’ve saved them…now they might be dead.
Because of me.>>
Will’s stomach was awash in burning acid; the guilt
and fear rising inside of him like a horrible,
undigested lunch. He felt like he was going to be
sick, but there was no time for that. If he gave into
it, then Picard would surely kill him, probably while
he was puking his guts out on the tips of his leather
boots. No, he had to stay strong-at least until he
knew if they were all right. Then he could give the
Regent what he richly deserved, and fly like a bat out
of hell away from this place.
“Mr. Riker, you do seem awfully quiet back there. Is
everything all right?”
Picard’s voice startled him, and for a second he
thought he was on the Enterprise, following his
Captain around the ship, waiting to take orders.
Shaking, he cleared his throat and grunted: “I’m
“Wonderful! I knew that you would say that. You
Fleet types are all the same—the challenge of hunting
the bad guys is simply too attractive for most of you
to resist. However, you do have an Achilles’ heel.
Your conscience is built into you as though it were
part of your training. But despite your efforts to
convince me of the opposite, I know that right now you
are far from being “wonderful”. In fact, I’d venture
to guess that you are feeling guilty…not to mention
afraid. Am I anywhere close to the mark, Mr. Riker?”
Will watched the bald man in front of him continue
his journey forward, wishing he could grab his head
and slam it into the gray dungeon walls. The man
never missed a step, never turned to look at Will, but
simply spoke his piece, as though assuming Will would
listen intently to his words. God, he was arrogant!
“Where are they, Picard? Where are Guinan and Garak?”
Picard stopped in front of a row of cells, then turned
to face Will with a grin.
“Why, they are here, my dear fellow. Where else did
you think they would be?”
With a hard shiver of foreboding, Will glanced into
the dank recesses of the
first cell, feeling his abdomen cramp with
anticipation. His gorge rose in his throat when he
saw the occupant… it was indeed Garak. He was dead,
as Will had feared, but it wasn’t from a phaser blast.
The dark black hole where he’d been hit was still
glaringly obvious on his shirt, but it was only a
flesh wound. What had actually killed the man was
something far worse. He’d been systematically
tortured, then as a final touch, decapitated. His
head, still containing a ghost of a slick, Cardassian
smile, lie beside him, staring up at Will from the
dirty floor like a grinning Halloween mask.
“Jesus!” That was the only word that got out before
Will fell to his knees, overcome by violent waves of
nausea. He lost everything he’d eaten that day, and
yet the heaves shook him for long afterwards, refusing
to let go. He felt his eyes water, blurring his
vision, and the light-headed feeling that always comes
with tossing your cookies came over him, urging him to
fall flat on the floor. He resisted.
Dragging himself to his knees, he wiped his mouth on
his sleeve and lunged for Picard. “You bastard! Why
did you kill him? What the hell did he ever do to
“To me? Nothing personally, Mr. Riker. But you see,
he was prepared to help your universe ruin my plans
for Cardassia…I couldn’t have that. No, I’m afraid
that Mr. Garak was too eager to help his fellow man,
and so he had to die. Certainly you can understand my
His hazel eyes lit from within, causing his handsome
face to glow with undisguised pleasure. Will had
never in his life wanted to punch out Captain Picard,
but right now the urge was there, and it was too
strong to resist. His fist flew through the air,
connecting with the smug, patrician face of the
Regent, and Will enjoyed the throbbing pain that shot
through his arm as it made contact with its target.
The Regent moved backwards slightly, grabbing for his
mouth, and wiped a stream of blood off on his
trousers. “Very good, Mr. Riker. I see that you’ve
been sparring with my good friend Worf. He is very
skilled at what he does, is he not?”
“Come on, you bastard, enough talk. Come on…come and
get me. Now!”
Picard laughed softly, then grabbed his adversary by
the hair and thrust a sharp knee into his crotch.
Will fell again to his knees, this time, too overcome
The world receded as the pain in his groin
overshadowed everything else, and he felt sure this
time that he would faint. Before he could make up his
mind, he felt the Regent’s knee slam into his face,
and that was enough to toss him down the black tunnel
Waking…light…sounds…voices…where was he? As he came
around, the smell alone told him what his vision could
not…he was in a cell—perhaps the one right next to
Garak. God, Garak. As he came to, Will vividly
recalled the site of the man’s head seated next to him
in his prison cell. It was horrible. The worst thing
he’d ever seen. The pain in his body warred with the
guilt and grief in his heart, and he wondered if there
was anything he could have done to save the man.
“Not unless you were able to keep the Regent from
knocking you unconscious first, Mr. Riker.” The voice
came to him from somewhere nearby, but it was too dark
to see its owner. “Come on, Will, you know my
identity. Don’t pretend as though you don’t.” It
“Well, you may call me that if you wish, but I do
still prefer “Intendant”.”
“You’re…you’re alive. I thought…”
“Yes, I know. Your Mr. Garak is dead, and so you
assumed that I must be too.”
He shook his head, unable to believe that she was
still among the living. Moving to his knees, he tried
to stand, but found his legs too wobbly to support
him. Falling back on his ass, he leaned against the
wet, cold wall and tried to get his breath.
“How long have we been here?”
“I’ve been here for almost a day…you’ve been here
only several hours.”
“And the Regent?”
He could almost feel her smile in the dark. “He’s
“Gone as in…left the station or gone as in is
upstairs right now and is coming back later.”
Will sighed, completely puzzled. “All right, I give
up. Where is the Regent then? The last time I saw him
he was kicking me in the balls.”
A soft laugh rose from her, one she quickly tamped
out. “Yes, I saw. It was rather courageous of you to
try and give a man like that a run for his money.”
“Tried. Yeah, that’s about all I did. The son of a
bitch got me instead though.”
“Not to worry, Mr. Riker. You did your part, I did
mine. The important thing is that he’s been taken care
A tremor, composed partly of fear and partly of
relief shimmied its way up his spine. “How?”
“Well, I knew that he had to be stopped, but I
couldn’t exactly shoot him from a prison
cell—especially since I had no weapon. But, there are
other ways to kill…especially if you are a full
“Full? I thought that you were half-human like my
“I’ve never wanted the Regent or anyone else to know
how powerful I am…I was afraid he’d kill me on the
spot. So, when I came here a decade ago I changed my
vital statistics. My father is supposedly the
counterpart of the man you know as Ian Troi. However,
my Mother…well let’s just say she was always a bit
loose with her sexual favors. She had an affair while
married to Ian, and that affair resulted in my birth.”
“And the man who is your father?”
“He’s a Betazed politician. Very highly-placed.
Mother assumed that she could use his connections to
build a career in the Betazed High Council and they
were involved for several years together.”
“Does he know about you?”
“Yes, but we’ve never met. You see, Solaren Ness
caught on to my Mother’s plans and refused to help
her. In a fit of rage she tried to take his life-but
he was faster. He killed Mother that day. I hope to
never meet that bastard…ever.”
The tone of her voice was so intense that Will could
feel her pain and anger in the air between them. He
started to speak, but shut up immediately. What he
had started to say was that he was sorry…sorry that
her Mother was dead, sorry that she never knew her
real father. But he was still thinking with his
heart…this was NOT his Imzadi. This was a fearsome
bitch who’d tried to kill him, not to mention Beverly.
She was not a sweet, innocent ingénue…she was a force
to be reckoned with. <<So why in God’s name should I
feel sorry for her?>>
<<Perhaps you shouldn’t, Mr. Riker. However, I think
that despite yourself, you do care for me.>>
Her voice appeared in his mind, as live and warm as
if she were whispering in his ear. It was very
familiar, and brought back to him a longing for Deanna
so intense it nearly cut his guts in two. “Get out of
my head, you bitch,” he muttered.
Shocked, she recoiled, pulling her mental tentacles
away from his brain.
“I apologize. I suppose I’m so used to communicating
that way with my own Imzadi, I simply forgot.”
“Well try not to forget again.”
She was silent, but mentally he almost felt her shrug
and nod her head in acquiescence.
After several long moments passed, he murmured, “You
never did tell me what happened to the Regent.”
“I think you know, Mr. Riker.”
“You killed him…somehow you killed him, using your
“Very good! I certainly did. And it was you who
made it possible. While he was distracted with you, I
was able to hone in his cerebral cortex…I envisioned
lava, hot, boiling, burning lava, drifting over the
folds of his brain. He began to scream…blood dripped
out of his ears, he grabbed his head and then it
She laughed gently. “You do have a way with words,
Will tried to picture the Regent’s head blown into a
million pieces….it was horrible. But, he realized, it
was also pretty damned perfect. After what he did to
Garak, he deserved it. Will almost smiled at the
thought, until he realized that he was stuck in a dark
cell with the very woman who had killed Picard. What
if she decided to use her little trick on him?
Hot sweat on his neck chilled, and he felt his
stomach tighten. Surely she knew how much he hated
her….why not make him the next victim? Suddenly, his
visions of finding everyone, releasing them, and
taking off for home were clouded over by another
vision. The Intendant, using him for whatever
purposes she still had, and then setting his frontal
lobes on fire with a twitch of her little finger and
the power of her mind. God, it was enough to make his
If she killed him, he would never see Deanna again.
He would never get home.
“Why the hell did I ever come here?” he murmured the
words so softly they were almost a moan.
“Because you are a good Starfleet officer and you
were following your Captain’s orders.”
Stunned, he tried to look across the shadows and find
her face. “What?”
“Oh I know, you don’t expect me to understand you, or
what you were doing here. You expected me to kill you
just now, didn’t you? Well, I have no plans to do
that. My own Will Riker is dead, and so I could never
kill his counterpart. Besides, he was a lot like
you…oh perhaps a bit more dirty, wicked, soulless…but
when he had a job to do, he did it to the best of his
abilities, no matter what the cost. That is what you
have tried to do as well…how can I fault you for
Will didn’t know what to say. He was too surprised to
think, let alone to speak. This was not the woman
he’d met a few weeks ago…or maybe it was. Maybe the
death of her lover had changed her, however slightly.
He wasn’t sure. But one thing WAS for certain…he
didn’t want to stick around to find out.
“Deanna…Intendant…I appreciate what you’ve said and I
appreciate your not toasting me. But I’d like to get
the hell out of here now.”
“All in good time. First, I want to speak to you
about another matter…” her voice trailed off but he
could feel her coming near. He smelled her perfume,
then felt the long black curls against his face as her
tiny body curled beside him. Without thinking, he
wrapped his arm around her, pulling her close to him,
and as she lifted her face, he kissed her.
It only lasted a moment, and was far more chaste than
the kisses they had once shared, but it seemed to
satisfy her. Looking up into his face with those
beautiful onyx eyes, she murmured, “What was that
“For saving my life.”
“You’re very welcome. And now, that matter I wished
to discuss with you…”
“I know that this will not be welcome news, but I
believe you have a right to know, Mr. Riker.”
Sitting there, holding her, smelling her hair, he
felt almost as though he were home again. But it was
a dangerous thought and this was a dangerous woman,
and he would do well to remember that. Quelling a
tingle of fear, he asked, “What is it?”
Her eyes dropped to the ground and then she looked up
into his face, touching it softly with the back of her
hand. “I’m going to have a baby, Will. And although
I am not positive, I believe that it may be yours.
It was far too much. The events of the past day had
caught up with him…the Regent, Garak’s death, his own
imprisonment, being with the Intendant again and all
of the feelings that aroused in him, now this. He
felt Deanna and the Enterprise slip away then, as if
they had never existed. This woman was going to have
his child. Surely she would not let him leave. Not
“Oh Christ,” he whispered, and his head fell into his
hands as his hopes died, exploding on impact.
Deanna Troi woke in her quarters in the middle of the night,
as though someone had shoved a red hot poker into her empathic nerve
centers. Sweating, she sat up violently and felt her body shake. A
headache crept from her neck to her temples and she massaged them,
wishing desperately for a hypospray full of Valium or its equivalent.
"Gods." The dream. That's what woke her. That's what made her feel
as though she'd just gone ten rounds with a sharp batleth on the
It came back to her slowly, piecemeal. Vivid bits of images colliding
with one another, vying for space in her imagination. Will's face,
twisted in a painful grimace; dead bodies swollen with gas; a face,
one so like her own it was shocking; voices, raised in anger or
passion, she wasn't sure which; and finally, Will again....Will
Riker, her beloved Imzadi, on his knees, his head in his hands, his
shattered voice torn between a cry and a scream.
"Gods, Will. What's happening to you?" she murmured, closing her
eyes. A moment later, she knew.
It wasn't a dream. It was real and he was living it. This was his
reality. She knew that he was in the mirror universe, she'd been
able to pry that much out of Captain Picard. What she didn't know,
not until this moment, was that his sojourn to that alternate reality
had been hellish. He'd come near death more than once and even now
it wasn't certain he would make it home.
Tears filled her eyes and she curled onto her pillow, seeking him out
with her mind. <<Imzadi? I know we are too far apart for
communication, but if you can hear me, sense me, please...please let
me know you're all right.>>
A pulsing silence filled her brain and her heart ached with the
knowlege that he could not hear her. How could she reach him?
<<Will, I love you. I'm here. Please tell me you're safe!>> The
words were shouted in her mind at full volume, the love and fear
behind them catapulting them through the universe. But only silence
greeted her in response.
"Damn.." Stifling a sob, she pushed herself off the mattress and
pulled on her uniform quickly, dressing in near darkness.
An idea was forming in her mind, a dangerous one to be sure, but she
would talk to the Captain about it. She could at least try.
And if he turned down her request, she would go anyway. Whether it
ended her career, whether it ended her life. She didn't care. Will
was in danger and he needed her, and that was all that mattered.
Slapping her comm badge, she called, "Troi to Picard."
A sleepy voice greeted her moments later. "Yes Counselor? Is
everything all right?"
"I need to speak with you Captain and I'm afraid it can't wait until
He seemed to ponder that and then replied, "Come to my ready room.
I'll meet you in ten minutes. Picard out."
She sighed, relieved, and then thought about what she was going to
do. Never in her life had she visited this other universe. It would
be dangerous, to say the least. Should she go incognito or just
brazenly march in there and demand that her Imzadi be freed?
Feeling like her Mother on one of Lwaxana's most autocratic days, she
squared her shoulders and lifted her head, looking like a goddess
intent on the destruction of her enemies. For now her plan was
formless; she had no idea what direction it would take. But she also
knew with absolute certainty that she would handle whatever came
alongm, and that she would get Will back. Anything else was
The Mirror Universe:
Will's head swam. He felt as though his entire soul had been
wrenched from his body, dipped in hot flaming oil, then dropped back
in. Everything from his head to his stomach ached, throbbed,
pulsated and quivered. A father. He was going to be a father. And
not to Deanna Troi's child. Jesus.
Raising his head, he saw that the Intendent was lying on her back in
the corner, gently touching her flat stomach, looking dreamily out
into space. A chill rocked him as he stared at her. She was
pregnant with his child. Could it get any worse than this? He didn't
Forcing himself to remain calm, he muttered, "Intendent...I think
that you should go to sickbay. As soon as we can get out of here."
Her eyes moved towards him, her mouth curving in a slight smile.
"Why Mr. Riker, you're with us again. I take it my news was a bit
unexpected?" She was smiling, and looked so beautiful that if he
didn't hate her so much he would be tempted to throw her down and
make love to her again. And again.
His eyes lit into hers, and there was no warmth or humor in them,
only stark, raging anger. "You can say that again. But you know,
I've been thinking this through and there is no proof that your baby
is mine. Hell, you've slept with half the damn station, it could be
She bristled briefly, obviously not pleased with his assessment of
her promiscuity. "You do have a point. I will admit that the child
could be someone else's...but I prefer to think that it is yours.
After all, I never had the chance to have one with my Riker, and you
are the closest thing I have to an Imzadi right now."
"Are you saying you won't have the fetus tested for paternity?"
She shook her head. "No, I'm not saying that. If it will make you
feel better, then I will do so. This is, of course, assuming that we
eventually get out of this prison cell."
"Of course we will. It'll take time but I will figure out a way,
don't worry. The last thing I want is to spend the rest of my life
here with you."
"Ouch, darling. That stings. And after you were so kind to me only a
few moments ago."
"A few moments ago I did't know that you'd gotten yourself knocked
up. I was fooling myself if I thought that you and I could..." he
broke off, realizing that he really had thought, at least
momentarily, that they could be friends. Or something more.
"That we could what? Be friends? How amusing. I think you know me
well enough by now to realize that I am friends with no man. Men are
my lovers, my enemies, my helpers, nothing more."
"Then tell me, why did you sidle up to me earlier? Why the sweet act?
What kind of game are you playing now?"
She crawled towards him, smiling, a seductive light glittering in her
black eyes. "Didn't you guess, Imzadi?"
When she was almost upon him, it hit him. Of course. She wanted his
cooperation. She wanted him to stay here and rule Terok Nor with her.
But mostly, she wanted him to be a father for her child. With sudden
chilling certainty, he knew that she would make sure that happened--
whether the medical tests proved his paternity or not.
Before he could move, she was on his lap, wrapping her arms around
his shoulders, straddling him like a lover. "You WILL stay with me,
won't you, Mr. Riker? I can make it worth your while."
His blue eyes filled with fear and rage and he grabbed her arms,
pushing them away. "No, I won't. And there isn't anything you can do
to make me stay."
Her tongue made a swirling route from his neck up to his ear, then
plunged into his mouth. The kiss was forceful, demanding, and left
no room for movement. Pushing her again, he tried to remove her from
his body, but to no avail.
Inwardly, his brain began to fog. Mists of pain and desire clouding
his thinking, his judgement. It was almost as though by her very
presence she was controlling him, body and soul. When he felt
certain parts of his anatomy responding, his control snapped, and he
forced his mind to break through the clouds of desire that she was
creating. "I won't do this. Not again. Not with you."
The Intendent laughed, and then sat up, removing her uniform with a
deft speed that shocked him. Moving her bare breasts in front of his
face, she murmured, "Oh, but you will. And as often as I like. You
see, Mr. Riker, my mental powers are not only used to kill....I have
other powers as well. Ones that you know nothing about. But you
will. Believe me, you will."
Will realized belatedly that she was controlling him with her mind.
Using his attraction towards her against him. He tried to wrest
himself away from her again, but it was impossible. She'd snared him
in her web and was not about to let go.
Feeling like a mummy frozen in his own body, Will screamed aloud,
knowing that no matter what he thought, no matter what he wanted, she
was going to seduce him.
And his final thought before surrendering to blissful oblivion was of
Guinan's ghost was screaming. The sound of her familiar voice echoed
through the prison cells; a mournful sound that grabbed Will by the
heart and woke him from a restless slumber.
Climbing to his knees, he wiped a night's worth of sweat from his
forehead and looked blearily around his cell. The empty corners
startled him, bringing him to full wakefulness as he realized that he
was alone. She was gone. But how?
Looking around again, he accepted that it was true. Somehow, the
Intendant had escaped. His mind flashed a picture of the Regent
falling down dead after being on the receiving end of the Intendant's
blazing mental powers and he realized that all she would've needed
was a sucker, a guinea pig. All that she would have needed was a
He could picture her now; flirting, tempting the nameless man with
promises of her favors, only to kill him once she'd gained her
freedom. Yes, it was just what she would've done and he didn't need
to be an empath to figure it out.
Standing, he began to pace the confines of his cell, wondering all
over again how he ever got to this point. Wondering now if he would
truly ever get home, knowing deep in his heart that he was likely to
live the rest of his life right here; becoming a pile of bones
wrapped in a Starfleet uniform just like his late counterpart.
Sighing loudly, he almost didn't hear the screams. They came again
though, sounds that he'd assumed were a product of his dreaming
imagination. They were the sounds not of a woman in pain, but a
woman who was incredibly frustrated and pissed off.
"Riker, damn you, if you can hear me at all, for the love of El-
Auria, get me out of here!"
It was Guinan. She was alive! His heart sped up, even as the walls
of his chest and stomach relaxed. He could breathe deeply for the
first time in days. The clutch of guilt that assaulted him every
time he thought of Garak was suddenly eased with the knowledge that
at least one of his friends was still alive.
Grinning, he yelled, "I'm here, Guinan. I'm here. I can hear you."
"Well then get your handsome butt over here and rescue me!"
He chuckled softly. "I'd love to but I'm in a cell at the moment.
Any hints on how I can get out of here?"
There was a long silence as she apparently pondered the situation.
Then her voice came again...this time, inside his head.
<<Mr. Riker, can you hear me this way?>>
Stunned, he froze for a moment. Only Deanna had ever talked to him
mentally--well, Deanna and her counterpart, that is. But Guinan, his
own Guinan, never had. Apparently this Guinan had the same talent as
a Betazoid, and he wasn't sure whether to be disturbed or vastly
Finally he responded. <<Yes! I can hear you. Gods, I never knew you
could do this!>>
Subtle laughter filled his mind. <<There are many things you do not
know about me. However, now is not the time to teach you. I need
your help, Mr. Riker. Together, we can escape, but I'll need you to
do your part...>>
<<Here is what you must do....>>
An eon later, Will found himself standing outside of Guinan's own
cell, staring at her, wondering how on Earth she'd managed it. Not
that it mattered, but still, it was a talent his Guinan had never
mentioned, and now he wondered if she too was able to teleport things
with her mind. Amazing.
"Mr. Riker, I would appreciate it if you could save your ponderings
about my abilities until we are both safely out of here." Her smile
belied the seriousness of her tone and he found himself giving her an
"Sorry, I guess you took me by surprise."
"I can imagine. Now, while I concentrate on this forcefield, I need
you to focus all of your attention on the bars, all right?"
He nodded, wrapping his large hands around the metal bars. He stared
at them intently, as if he could bend them with only the power of his
mind; a sort of modern-day Yuri Gellar. And then, whether by the
power of his own strength, his mind, or Guinan's own mysterious
powers, the bars began to move. They burst open in his hands just as
the flickering forcefield shimmered out of existence.
Leaping into the cell, he grabbed Guinan's bedraggled form and hugged
her tightly. "I'm so glad you're all right. Picard...he killed
Garak. I assumed he'd killed you too. God, I wanted to kill the
She smiled into his shoulder. "I know. But it appears that someone
else beat you to it." Looking up into his face her face was shadowed
by soft pain. "I'm sorry about your friend, Mr. Riker.
Unfortunately, now you know the depths that the people on this
station will sink to in order to hold onto their power."
He nodded grimly. "I know. And I've never wanted to go back to my own
universe as badly as I do right this minute. What do you say we get
out of here?"
She looked up at him, eyes shimmering beneath the tight purple folds
of her headdress. Then she smiled. "Do you think there would be room
for two of me in your Universe?"
She seemed to think it over for a moment and then shook her head
slowly. "As tempting as that offer might be, I think I'd better stay
here where I belong."
"But you were almost killed! I can't leave here knowing that
something might happen to you!"
"When I say I need to stay here, I don't mean aboard the station, Mr.
Riker. I've had my fill of this life. No, I mean that I'm going to
go back to El-Auria. My people need me and I've been away far too
long. Your visit has taught me that we all have a place that is home
for us, and my place is with my people."
He sighed softly, saddened by the thought of never seeing her again.
"El-Auria? But wasn't your planet descimated by the Borg?"
Her face looked puzzled, and he realized that the horrible
devastation that had happened to her planet in his universe had never
happened in this one. He realized belatedly how horrific the notion
of her people being destroyed would be to her and
muttered, "Nevermind. I must've misread my history books."
She gave him a glance that said she knew exactly what had happened
and that she knew he cared about her enough to cover. Squeezing his
hand, she murmured, "I do have to go to them. It's time."
"All right. I can understand that. I guess all there is left to do
now is help each other get to the docking bay. Can you pilot a
"Can a Riker pick up any woman he chooses, any time he wants to?" A
gleam danced in her eyes and he found himself laughing. He was going
to miss her, no doubt about it.
"All right then. Come on, let's put this place behind us.
"I'm right behind you."
Together they made their way to the turbolift, riding in silence,
knowing that it had been almost too easy. Surely someone would try
to stop their departure. But there was time to prepare for that.
Reaching into his bag, Will grabbed a phaser and handed it to Guinan.
"Just in case."
She palmed it and nodded. "Where is yours?"
"Right here. Oh and Guinan?"
"Make sure it's set on "kill"."