“You are late.” Worf was never hid his impatience well.
Will and Deanna took their places on the transporter platform. The ensign at the console, stopped setting co-ordinates, “Sirs, the captain is on his way and asked that we delay beam down until his arrival.”
Data was looking intently at the counselor’s hair, he moved to poke his finger at something then looked closer. Will moved to see what had caught the android’s eye, seeing the Deanna squirm under such observation. The commander smiled, “That is why we were late, the counselor was involved in a bubble battle with the doctor and child.” He tried to and came close to carrying Worf’s tone of the perturbed Klingon.
Worf looked at the counselor, then in a conciliatory tone said, “Understood.” When Deanna turned her back on him Worf added in a more appreciative voice, “Nice outfit.”
Will had gone back to the control console with Data and Ensign Stutter to check some of the co-ordinates for the beam down. This trip would involve several sets to allow them to move quickly from one site to the next. They would all beam tot he secure room where Deanna and Solace were held, make some adjustments to the room to give the false impression of the counselor’s return, then they would split. Data would remain in the communications room in the palace; Geordi, Worf and the commander would beam to the power station to make a few alternations in the power grid. This time they would not be locked out, their communications and transporter would all be working.
Worf startled Deanna out of her thoughts, “Counselor, I have found some of Alexander’s playthings, perhaps there may be something there the child would like.”
“Thank you Worf, that’s very thoughtful. I’m not sure how long Solace will be staying with me. Thank you for thinking of her.” Deanna saw the Klingon exchange a look with the commander, then turn away. She had been sensing that Will was going to great lengths to conceal something from her, she decided to let it go for now and not infringe on his privacy. She trusted him enough to allow that if it involved her, he would eventually talk with her about it. Besides, there would be time later to get to the bottom of what ever was going on, right now she needed to stay focused on what was happening in regard to their mission.
Everyone had relaxed a bit waiting on the captain to stop, Deanna found she had a hard time relaxing, getting this trip to the planet was all consuming- the rest of life was waiting for the conclusion of their mission.
Captain Picard and Abeathdor now entered the transporter room. “Commander, a word please before you go.” Will glanced at Deanna trying to read her expression, to see if she knew what was on the captain’s mind. The captain pulled him aside to speak privately, leaving Abeathdor to stand alone. Deanna made her way over to the queen to speak with her.
“Deanna, it is good to see you are fully recovered. I must apologize that you may have suffered the dangers of my home.”
“Please, you have nothing to apologize for, I’ve met a wonderful child and I think those of us who faced those things together have developed a closer bond of friendship.”
“Yes, I’ve been asked by Captain Picard about the legality of the contract of marriage between you and Commander Riker.” She could tell from her own telepathic skills, that this was not something Deanna expected to hear about.
Deanna tried to cover her surprise, “Your Majesty, what have you found?”
“It was properly documented, as is the law on my planet. I have also signed it attesting to its validity. Now, whether or not it is observed on the Enterprise is not within my jurisdiction. In other words you two may have that choice.” Abeathdor was about to ask which direction Deanna was considering but thought it would wait. She found the relationship between the two to be very intriguing.
Will and Captain Picard joined them. “I talked with Doctor Crusher, she says there are no physical reasons you should not go. Are you up to this Counselor?”
“Good. Then perhaps we had better not hesitate. Number One, you have your plan of action?”
“Yes Sir.” Will noted the look he had been getting from the counselor, and was slightly distracted by it.
“All subdermal communicators have been activated? The arm band? Good. I’ll be monitoring you closely from my ready room.” Picard escorted Abeathdor over to the console where he gave the “energize” directive.
The five on the platform shimmered and disappeared. “What amazing technology, Captain. I am truly envious of your superior advancement into the worlds of science and health. We seem to squander time, energy and resources on self destruction when we could be curing diseases and going to the stars.” Abeathdor sadly shook her head.
“Your Highness, it is never too late to make advancement. You know what is behind you, so you look ahead. We’ll do all we can to aid you in overcoming the past. You will have to make the decision to take the step into the future.”
They left the transporter room to visit the only other Prakalian aboard
When the chime sounded, Solace flew from the table where she and Beverly had been sitting, to get to the door. Beverly thought it would be Guinan returning she was surprised to see Picard and Abeathdor.
“Hello Solace.” Picard looked for and found Beverly.
“Captain, Your Highness, please come in. Can I get you some tea?” Beverly knew of the captain’s discomfort with children and was trying to circumvent it, surmising it would easily be detected by not only Abeathdor but certainly by Solace.
“Doctor, something else has-a-come up, and quite frankly I’m not sure how to handle it.” He certainly looked ill at ease.
Abeathdor went over to sit beside Solace. “Please, I would like to come to know this young lady.”
Beverly introduced them; each sat smiling at her introduction. She listened as Abeathdor talked to Solace asking her questions about her home. When asked about family, Solace didn’t answer, but looked at Beverly. The doctor filled the queen in on the waste people and the brother that was still in Fallscity. She told her of the child’s communication with Deanna and suggested that, should Abeathdor be interested, Solace would probably welcome that communication with her.
The door chimed again, Solace had now taken on the responsibility of opening the doors, a chair had been left beside the door for that very purpose. She stood expectantly in front of the door, when it opened the child moved back to wave her arm as if saying come in. A gesture Beverly had seen Deanna use quite frequently among close associates.
Guinan greeted her, asking if she had now finished eating breakfast. Solace nodded her head. She chose to sit between Guinan and Beverly.
“I can see that our little guest is going to be well taken care of during the counselor’s absence.” Picard looked from Guinan to the doctor. “Which brings me back to the purpose of my visit. Partly to introduce Abeathdor to Solace; if need be I thought Abeathdor could communicate with the child as the counselor had done.”
“The second reason has to do with one piece of news I greet with great trepidation.” The captain paused as though just by saying it the terrible truth would materialize before them. “I have just received word that Deanna’s mother, Lwaxana Troi, is about to pay us a visit. She is due to arrive later today. I think we’re all aware of the special circumstances existing right now concerning the counselor. I want to make certain that none of us accidentally let slip any information regarding those circumstances. The child may serve as a distraction, however, I can foresee fireworks even there. We need to be as supportive as possible for the counselor. We all know how these visits tend to go.”
Guinan noticed Solace going off to the bedroom. She followed to find the child holding one pillow and crying into another. “Hey little one, what is so bad that you have to come in here all alone to cry?”
Solace looked up at her; the blue eyes were filled with tears. Guinan sat beside her taking a small hand; “Did you hear us talking about Deanna?”
Solace bobbed her head. “Sometimes when we want to help someone we get together to decide how. You see, Deanna’s mother is coming to visit. She doesn’t know about the planet, and that you and Deanna had gotten very sick. We’re trying to decide if we should tell her.” Guinan watched the child’s reactions, “Why don’t you and I go for a walk? There are many things here you haven’t seen yet.” She stood holding out her hand; Solace looked up at her face, then slowly took the offered hand.
When they entered the living area with the adults Guinan explained,
“Excuse us, we’re going for a sight-seeing expedition. If anyone would
like to join us, they are welcomed.” No one made a move, so the hostess
and the child walked out into the corridor in search of new discoveries.
On Prakal the arrival of yet another away team from the Enterprise almost went completely unnoticed. If the counselor had had a subdermal communicator instead of the armband their arrival would not have interested anyone.
It was the day before Gringbald was to be crowned king. Preparations were in high gear. The palace was crawling with people, the majority were guards, intermingled with a much smaller number of guests and dignitaries from the other continents on the planet.
Gringbald and Zylon were meeting to discuss the disappearance of Commander Troi and the child, it had been nearly three days and not a trace of either had been found. She had to be on the planet. As long as Troi had the armband on she could not be transported. The child however could have been retrieved by the starship. That would have worked right into Zylon’s plan.
Gringbald wanted Troi and would have her, if she still lived. When they examined the room they found that she had changed clothes and evidence that the child may have been ill. Which didn’t affect Gringbald at all, as long as Troi hadn’t fallen victim to the illness. If she continued to defy Gringbald her life could become a bit more tenuous. She may well end up dead, one way or another. On the other hand, if she co-operated she would live a prosperous life with him; one with everything she could ever want. Gringbald’s plan needed her alive for now, but there was no certainty, plans could be altered and have been in the recent past.
A man in uniform ran into the room, at his entrance their conversation abruptly ended. “Sir, we found traces of the iamic compound from the subspace deflector.”
“Here in the palace. In the secured room. We don’t know how she got back.”
Gringbald was out of the chair and holding the man by his shirt. “Are you sure? Did you check for occupancy?”
“Yes sir, I am sure. There is one occupant in that room. Life monitors pick up a single occupant.” The man’s face had turned an ugly shade of magenta, only then did Gringbald relax his grip on the messenger. The man fled from before him.
“I want that occupant brought here. NOW!” Gringbald spoke to Zylon, “It must be Troi, who else would be wearing the energy reflector?”
“It could be a trap. I’ll see to it myself.” Zylon began to leave the room, then turned back to his master. “What will you do with her, if it is Commander Troi? Are you going on with your plans?”
“I have every intention of fulfilling my plans. Bring her to me…and Zylon, I don’t want a hair on her head touched. Do you understand me?”
Zylon spun on his heel and left the room. He took a contingent of six men up to that secured room. They approached the room as though they were completing a military drill, rather then the act of retrieving a single unarmed woman.
Gringbald knew the occupant would be Troi. It had to be. He waited a
long time for this plan to be completed. Ever since that first away team
attended the banquet he had schemed for this.
The door opened, three of the men sprinted through the door with weapons drawn seeking the enemy. Commander Deanna Troi stood alone, making no move. She could sense their approach and the ambivalence from Zylon. Her training warned her of his eagerness for an excuse for violence, she would give him none. Zylon approached her; he roughly grabbed her arm to look at the band. Then still holding her by that arm pulled her from the room. They were escorted down the stairs.
Zylon spoke to her only after they arrived at their destination, “You will not find the comfort here that was previously allowed you, nor will you be allotted the previous courtesies.” He opened the door shoving her in, the door closed quickly behind her. She could feel his burning contempt of her, it left her shaken.
She tried to free herself from Zylon’s raw emotions by focusing on the room’s details. It was a Spartan display of comfort. She quickly scanned the room, relieved that she was the only occupant. She also noted there was no place to hide, no place that couldn’t be viewed by the many monitors watching her from each corner of the room. As she moved so they moved too. She knew the observer would be Gringbald. She could sense the presence of a predator watching his prey. She still had no understanding of his purposes. In all her life, she never knew such frustration as she was feeling now, trying to learn what Gringbald’s motives were. She was wanted, held captive by a powerful man who needed her- Why? All she knew with an absolute certainty was that it had become an obsession with Gringbald that she fulfill his need, his role for her. Whatever it was it was bound up with this planet and his role as it’s ruler.
She looked at the furnishing in the room. Along the wall was a narrow bunk type bed, without the comfort of a mattress, opposite the door stood a small wooden table with two wooden chairs. It appeared to be a holding room, where one may be detained, like a prisoner awaiting sentencing. It was designed for short-term occupancy, but then Troi considered nothing on this planet seemed to have a future purpose. Life appeared to be based on a moment to moment, day by day existence.
Deanna knew Will and company would be in the vicinity of the city’s power station, trying to shut down the entire power network, throwing everything into chaos. She knew the captain was able to hear what was said, and that they would be able to transport her back to the Enterprise within seconds, at the slightest threat, still, she was uneasy. It wasn’t that she feared for her life or health, there was something about meeting Gringbald again that made her skin crawl.
She reached out to Will to let him know that things were progressing as anticipated and to get a sense of his well being. She could feel that all was well, no unforeseen problems. She could feel no sense of danger from any of the ones with whom she had beamed down. Deanna heard sounds and talking coming from outside the door. She sat on the chair facing the door, folding her hands on the table in front of her, she staged the scene to look as serene and dormant as possible.
When the door opened, it came as no surprise to see Gringbald. He stepped in signaled someone to stay outside. The door closed and was again secured before he approached her. He stood now facing her from across the table, watching her, his gaze missing nothing. It paused at the armband, then continued downward; noting the clothing and it’s fit before returning to her face.
“Where have you been?” His voice was dangerously quiet; the demand was not softened by the quiet tone.
“Around.” Deanna decided a head of time, that she would give him no ammunition-no lies to shoot her down with later. The smoother things went the faster she would be back on the Enterprise with her crewmates.
“Yes, I know around. I asked you where.”
“Isn’t it enough that I have come back?”
He watched her for several minutes before changing the subject. “Where is the child?”
“She is aboard the Enterprise.” She noted the change on his face, as though he was expecting a lie and got the truth.
“Why aren’t you with her?” He hadn’t made a move; he stood exactly as he had when he first entered the room.
“I think you know why. That was the purpose to this -wasn’t it?” She pointed to the armband.
“It has many purposes. But, yes, that is one.” Now he moved over to stand behind her. She felt his fingers on her bared back. She arched her back, breaking the connection with his touch. Deanna had steeled herself not to move, but found she could not allow that touch.
“Relax, I do not force intimacy. It will be mutual when it happens.” He pulled the remaining chair over to sit beside her. He continued watching her.
She had to control the repulsion, and remind herself that she was controlling this scene. She could be beamed out of there at any time. He had so much confidence in his control over her, “when it happens” not if, where did that arrogance come from?
“We are long overdue for a heart to heart chat, wouldn’t you agree, Commander Troi?” He paused, again watching her intently. “But then, you have other titles - other abilities, don’t you Deanna? You see, since your disappearance my people have had time to report in. I’ve been able to compile a lot of information. For instance, I have a copy of a piece of paper, shall we call it a document. I know of your escapade with the animals. I have to say I am most impressed with the information I have received from my infiltration of those hopeless dreamers - our waste people. It has been reported that you have this marvelous talent of communicating by means other than speaking. My dear Commander, you have so many hidden talents. I hope only to scratch the surface.” He had reached over to lay his hand on top of her folded hands. He never broke eye contact, but watched closely as he slid a hand under her wrist.
“Exactly what is it you want from me? Let’s not play these games.” Deanna knew he was feeling her pulse to further his knowledge of her reactions. She was able to continue focused, she wasn’t sure for how long. She couldn’t sense the reasoning for his behavior. Instinct told her it was to break down her resistance so she would co-operate with him. At least maybe now she could fit this puzzle together.
“One mistake I have made, and I’m sure you will agree with me, is that I should have banded the child, instead of you. If only I had know of the bond between you. I don’t understand the relationship but it fascinates me. I know you would not have gone without back without her. You may have been more willing to see things my way if the child had remained here. I realize you would have traded places even to the point of martyrdom. Oh, my dear Troi, I love a good martyr, and you do play the role with such class.” He squeezed her hand. “That is one way your are so different from the people here.”
“You’re wrong, you know, I am not a martyr. Starfleet does not train officers for that role. I am a victim.” Deanna watched him now. She knew the game she was playing. She had begun to fill in some of the missing pieces. If by playing a game of semantics she could get him to reveal more of his machinations it would be well worth the effort.
“Earlier you made the choice to stay here. A victim has no choice- you as a martyr made that choice. You see, my dear, I know the language and the history behind it. Let’s move on, shall we. Good, you’ve returned at an interesting time. Whether by coincidence or forethought, it doesn’t really matter. You see, I am to be formally crowned as king tomorrow.”
“Wonderful, and how does that affect me?” Deanna wanted him to explain her place in the game once and for all.
“You’ll know all very soon.” He paused, as though he was actually considering giving her the information. “Before continuing, why is it you detest me so much? You know, you will change your mind..Eventually. There is much I can do for you. So much I want to do….” He moved the hand that had been holding her wrist to slide up to her elbow.
She had been able to sit perfectly still until that moment. Deanna could feel the repulsion turn to anger. “You have no rules of conduct. You do what you like to whomever you like. You murder, torture, and humiliate for no purpose -except your own selfish ego. I could never think of you except in those terms!” Now she pulled her arm away from him.
He was not deterred by her words. He leaned back in his chair. “Ah, I know what this is all about. That man you were with Commander Riker, the man that owned you. He could never have made you happy, not like I can. He had no depth or he’d be alive now….You see, I know you. I know things that you have yet to know of yourself. We are more alike than you…”
“We are nothing alike! I have never killed anyone or anything. I can never be as callused and unfeeling as you are!”
“I’ll try not to hold that against you, anyway those points are minor. You would kill me now if you had the opportunity. You attacked me when you found Commander William Riker. Yes, I know his name. I know much more, but I am repeating myself. As I was saying you have capabilities that I could help you refine. Together we would make a team that would be unassailable.” He slid his chair closer to hers, his legs straddling her own; their chairs nearly touching seat to seat.
“No!” Her anger was getting the best of her. She knew she was losing
it in a rage, just as her reminded her she had done earlier. She fought
hard to find the balance of emotions, she closed her eyes, reminding herself
of her own identity, she would not let her own emotions play into his hands.
to be continued
click here for part twelve