On board the Enterprise, in Captain Picard’s ready room, the captain sat listening to the exchange between his counselor and the sadistic alien Gringbald. He looked across the desk to Doctor Crusher, “What do you think Gringbald is trying to do?”
Beverly shook her head, “I think he’s trying to get her angry, hoping that when he does she will play into his hand. I’m sure Deanna has seen through it. She’s working on getting herself centered now.”
Picard gave her a sharp look, the doctor smiled and replied innocently, “I just know. We have spent a lot of time together lately. I’m sure she’s in control, for now. Is Will able to hear any of this?”
“No, I thought it best if we act as control, intercepting and relaying
information to him as the need presents itself. I’m sure he’ll know when
there is a problem. He and the counselor always seem to have that awareness
of the other. I just thought it best that he be spared the details that
we are receiving. He’ll be better able to concentrate on the job at hand.
Data is monitoring the counselor, because he is the closest to her, in
the case she needs assistance, but doesn’t require transporting back
to the Enterprise.”
After centering herself Deanna opened her eyes. She caught a strange look in Gringbald’s eyes. It was there briefly before he had time to get his mask firmly back in place. She tried to sense what it was she had seen. Once again curiosity was all she was able to sense, that disturbed her. There was where the answer lie, she was sure of it, but for now she couldn’t see it.
“My dear counselor, for that is what you will be for now, you are going to be my guide through the maze of emotions.:” He moved even closer to whisper in her ear, “You see my dear, I have no emotions. You are going to have a lifetime of excitement, and I promise you, you will come to appreciate all I can offer you.”
Deanna sat unmoving, stunned. While she knew he was not necessarily humanoid, she should have known this, it should not have come, now, as a surprise. “I sensed some responses from you, surprise, curiosity for example, although not emotions in themselves, I did sense other desires from you.”
“Desire, that’s an interesting word. All sentient life has wants or needs, that does not give them all emotions, does it dear? I can mock what I see around me, but I need to understand the where, the whys and hows to present these emotions as my own. You see, we could spend a lifetime dissecting and relearning each emotion. I would provide for your every need, you would have all that you require. You would be satisfied with your life here with me.”
He turned her head so that she was looking directly into his eyes before continuing. “This form I have now has many flaws, or should I say imperfections, that you can help me correct…to your satisfaction. This form was merely convenient, now, though if you would prefer a more comely face or physique, and would direct me in that endeavor, you would be rewarded with the perfect mate.”
“I have no wish to make a perfect mate.” Deanna tried to make some distance between them, by sliding her chair back a little, she stood, believing it would be easier to maintain that distance.
“I have been told that sometimes death can bring about a period of mourning. I can give you that time. I guarantee you wouldn’t want longer. You will be a willing participant in everything. We will begin now, with getting better acquainted. Let me show you my true self.” Gringbald stood then moved a distance away before his form began to glow, then for a brief moment all but dissipated. The glow enveloped the room, when Deanna’s eyes became accustomed to the light she could see a large winged creature. It flew around her circling in great orbits effortlessly through the room. Each movement of the wings left a glowing trail, after several passes the room looked as though it had been strung with odd lights. As the creature neared her, Deanna could feel the tingling warmth it projected. It began circling in ever closer rapid orbits, until she felt she and it were almost one. Her head began throbbing with each winged movemetn. The it moved away to once again become Gringbald. The glow remained about his shape for a few moments, then he was as he had been before.
The counselor was standing behind her chair, holding on to the back to support herself. Gringbald moved over to her whisking the chair away. The move caught Deanna totally off guard, she fell into Gringbald’s arms. He held her tightly, restraining her. “Now my dear, we’ll continue with our lesson shall we?”
She didn’t answer, her mind completely absorbed in controlling her physical and emotional state. She was trying to resolve the situation in a manner that would give her the needed time, time for Will and the rest of the away team to do what they needed to do to expedite the end of this mission.
“There is so much you could teach me. Let me explain something to you that may make this easier. Until I arrived on this planet, my species were – what you may call parasites. I prefer to think of us as needing to be in a symbiotic relationship. :You felt the affects of my energy as I circled near you. I could have, by increasing the speed of my rotations, bound our forms together. I would have become you, in a sense. However, that relationship is never very lasting. We tend to burn out the fragile body you wear so well.” He continued holding her, his hands caressing her bare back.
She pushed away, moving quickly out of his embrace. “A symbiotic relationship is tow lives in a close union, of what benefit will this relationship be to me? Right now, whether you would like to admit it or not, I am held against my will- here on the planet and by you physically holding me as you were. I have not acquiescence. I certainly have gained no pleasure from any of it. You said you existed as a mutualist before you arrived here on this planet. What changed here?”
“Come now, you have noticed that on this planet any talent or skills that are inherit to you are doubled. I found that on Prakal, I can become the forms I had previously existed with in a symbiotic state, as a species. It’s as though I’ve somehow imprinted the biological sequence of those forms and can now resume them.” The smile he presented her with made the hair on the back of her neck raise. “As far as what I give the other life in the relationship….I’ve never heard them complain!”
He walked around her, “Now , I would like a demonstration of your skill as a telepath. My dear, I’d like you to communicate with me nonverbally,” He sat in a chair.
Deanna considered ignoring his request, or just outright refusing, but then relented. It would be a safe way of using up the time she would have to spend with him. She thought/sent < Are you able to kill so easily, because you have no emotions? > She scrutinzed his face for any reaction.
He walked over to her. “Very good, it is what I had hoped for. This partnership will be all that either of us could want. Now, as for your question, let me answer it with a question of my own. Dear Deanna, why is ti you are so focused on death?”
She looked at him, shaking her head, then looked away for a few seconds before answering him. “ Because death is the end of life. When someone close to us dies, it leaves an empty space in our life. It causes pain. These are principles you would not understand. It has to do with love and loss.”
“ Then emotions are a liability. You loved this Commander Riker? And the child, you loved the child you allowed to leave?”
“Yes.” Deanna could feel her eyes tearing, not over the fictional departing of Will and Solace, but because in reality she came very close to losing them both.
Gringbald walked back to where she stood to look closer at her. He reached to touch a tear as it slid down her cheek. “I am the one who took those away from you. What are the emotions you have toward me?”
The question was totally unexpected from this arrogant life form, and yet she had answer prepared. “Repulsive. At one time it was a stronger emotion, now, repulsive and confused … and guarded.”
“Guarded? How is that an emotion?”
“It is more of an emotional response. It means I’m not comfortable around you, so I guard my emotional state in a sense. I put up barriers that shield me from you.”
He nodded as if he understood her answer. “How can you love the man and the child the same?”
Her head was reeling, the throbbing never stopped, which is how she was beginning to feel about his quest for emotional information. “It is not the same in composition. The love of a women and man may bind them in a very special relationship for a lifetime. The love a parent has for a child is unique, because it involves the caring for the child and providing a future for it. The child is totally dependant on the parents until it is old enough and wise enough to make a life on it’s own. It’s very complicated.” Deanna put her hand to her temples hoping to massage the pain away.
Gringbald continued, “Very interesting, you are not the progenitor of this child and yet you responded to her needs as though you were.”
“I responded to a child.” She had grown excessivelly weary and had had enough.
“You see why I need you here with me? I will be king tomorrow, I will rule these people. That is simple enough, but to make my life here enlightening, I want to be taught what makes these people different from my kind. I want you to teach me what love is, what it is to enjoy life your way. In exchange for that I promise you, your life will be like no other.”
“Then I suggest you develop a conscious. You see the other side is that you care about these people, because it’s right to care and not to care is wrong and it’s painful to them. This planet is not a laboratory where you simply play around with these peoples lives, dispensing life and death, pain and suffering to see what the results are.” She held her pounding head with both hands, looking at him for relief, then she passed out.
Gringbald caught her before she hit the floor. He called for his guard, then decided he would carry her himself. The guards came into the room to see Gringbald with the unconscious woman from the Federation in his arms. The first guard stepped forward to take her from Gringbald. He was waved off, “I’m taking her to the secure room, make sure all is ready. GO! NOW!” The man ran out of the room.
Zylon met Gringbald on the stairs. “I don’t think this is a good idea. She has escaped from there before, she seems to be able to come and go as she wishes. Send her back or kill her. She has become a burden.”
Gringbald stopped, he easily shifted Troi to one arm, reaching with his other to grab Zylon’s shirt front. “You are over stepping your position. If anyone dies tonight – it may well be you. I have no time for fools.” He shoved him backward as he released his hold on Zylon’s shirt. The secretary bounced down five steps before he caught himself.
After entering the secured room, Gringbald laid Deanna on the bed. He looked down at her, then feeling nothing he turned, calling for the guard at the door to see to her comfort. He turned to look back once more before leaving.
When Deanna opened her eyes, she was the same guard that had delivered Solace to her; the guard that showed a caring attitude toward the small child. He had placed a cool cloth on her head. She tried to push it away and sit up.
“I wouldn’t move too fast. I take it his lordship did his little ‘I am a comet’ for you?” It was said in a dry sarcastic tone.
Deanna watched him walk around the room, bringing her a glass of what looked like weak tea. She hoped it wasn’t the city’s water supply. Reaching out with her mind she found that his tone betrayed his true feelings. He was unhappy with the king to be. He was angry and feeling a great deal of regret.
“How did you know….about the comet?”
“It used to happen a lot. A show of power keeps the troops in line. Not that it is used instead of physical punishment or death. He uses it to reinforce the idea of his super Unprakalian power. It works, usually.” He grinned at Troi. “I’m surprised he tolerates you. :You must have something he wants badly. You don’t know how much more he has done for you, then he had done for Abeathdor. Did you see her cell? There’s a kinship he feels for you, like your both out of your element.”
Deanna stood up slowly, holding the beverage. “How is it you have come to have all this knowledge of Gringbald? Surely, this is not common knowledge among the people?”
“Please, sit and drink, it will help the head pain. It is an extract from plants used for medicinal purposes. It will take the pressure off the eyes.”
“You’re a doctor?” She sensed the answer as she asked the question. Why would a doctor become one of Gringbald’s personal guards?
“Doctor? Ah..you mean Almoner. Yes, I was an Almoner for Abeathdor’s family. I had been on a sojourn, when I returned, Yarmie was dying and Abeathdor already was convicted and in the tower. Our families were once close. My father was also an Almoner he assisted in the birth to both women. Abeathdor and I are of the same years. We were educated together.” He sighed deeply, “Now I clean up Gringbald’s mess.” He was silent for several minutes before asking, “Are you the Alienist Abeathdor had been in contact with?”
Now it was Deanna’s turn , “Alienist? Abeathdor communicated with me. Are you asking if I am a doctor of the mind? I suppose in those terms I am.”
“How is Abeathdor? She is safe?”
“Yes, she is safe and well.”
“He looked relieved, “How is your head?”
She realized the headache had gone. “The pain is gone. Could you give me some of these plants? I would be interested in how they work. Our doctor on the ship has a hobby of collecting and growing medicinal plants.”
His face changed entirely when he smiled. He looked younger, like a man his age should look. “Listen,” his voice took on the qualities of a co-conspiritor, soft and low, “if you need allie, I am here for you. Gringbald’s right about one thing.”
She watched him wondering what it was, his tone had changed slightly now, there was a little amusement hidden carefully among his words. “You would be an asset to his rulership. I can’t imagine that you would have enemies, a definite asset for him. But be careful, this room has no listening devices, not yet anyway. If Zylon had his way there would be no room in the city without them. Gringbald will surprise you, you will find yourself doing what he wants, when and how he wants it. He is a master of manipulation, and for some reason he has made a special project of you. Be careful, for he does not tolerate anyone who continually defies him. I will be around if you need to talk to someone or have a need of any remedies. Ask the guard at your door for the Almoner. I must go now.” They quietly said goodbye, he remained looking at her for a moment longer before leaving.
Deanna sat in the same chair she had claimed for herself during the last stay as Gringbald’s guest. She tried to get comfortable while waiting for the next move of her host. She sat with one leg tucked under her and pulled the other up, crossing her arms over the knee and rested her head on her arms. The power suddenly went out. There was no light in the room, making it easy to see the figures shimmer in the darkness. Friends at once surrounded her.
Will touched gently touched her arm. “We’re ready to end this. Is everything okay?”
She smile warmly at him, she had been ready to end it a long time ago. “Yes, let’s finish.”
“If I guessed right you should be getting company very soon now.” Will motioned to the others to take their places.
They didn’t have to wait long until Zylon and a guard entered the room. The guard stood at the door as Zylon held a disrupter pointed at Deanna. “I don’t know how, but I know you are somehow involved in this. Come on, move, I have dome plans of my own for you.”
Deanna stood and waited, knowing that the away team had their own phasers aimed at Zylon. He reached to grab Deannas arm, “I said let’s go. NOW!”
Another figure appeared in the doorway, the guard Zylon had posted at the entrance seemed to have disappeared. “I knew I’d find you here. I told you before to stay away, that I would handle things my way. Now, I’m telling you to step away from her –NOW.” Gringbald held his own weapon aimed at Zylon’s back. No one moved. For a few seconds it was deathly silent, as though al the air had been sucked out of that room and everyone there now held their breath.
“Fine, we’ll do it your way. This is your choice.” Gringbald fired his weapon at Zylon. He couldn’t have missed at that range, the light from the discharge was like a finely tuned bolt of lightning. Zylon crumbled to the ground, his hold still firm on Deanna’s arm, dragging her to the floor with him.
Gringbald, still unaware of the others moved to Deanna, “Stand back Gringbald.” Will Riker ordered. The being spun around with his weapon looking toward the source of the sound. Will fired his phaser and hit Gringbald, the being started to raise his weapon aiming it at the new target, when he was hit again, this time it originated from the far side of the room. He still hadn’t fallen, but remained standing, staggering slightly as he turned to look in the direction of the the latest shot.
Worf stood feet apart, phaser still on Gringbald. The hits by the phasers seemed to have little effect on Gringbald. He appeared dazed and confused, but showed no other physical damage. When he began again to raise his disrupter, Data fired on him from yet a different location, only now did Gringbald fall, and as his body hit the floor it began to glow.
“Will, he’s returning to his natural state!” Deanna shouted
“Enterprise beam down a stasis containment pod.”
“What size Commander?”
Will looked at Deanna, he had no idea what Gringbald’s natural form was. “About forty liters.” Deanna guessed.
“Acknowledged.” Within seconds the pod arrived. Just in time the glowing bird like energy was growing brighter as it reengergized. Geordi and Data were attempting to get it into the pod when Worf struck at it with a chair, apparently stunning it enough to allow them to safely enclose it within the pod.
Will was immediately at Deanna’s side trying to loosen Zylon’s grip on her. The man was dead, and yet his grip on her seemed frozen. Data approached the dead man, holding his wrist in a firm hold exerted more pressure until the by reflex all the fingers opened. Will got her to her feet, pulling her into his embrace. “Data, see that our firefly gets to our secure room utilizing a force field and guard. Maintain maximum security, let’s keep him in the pod for now. If there are any other precautions you can think of, please, enforce them also.
“Worf and Geordi, well need security at the research building. Notify
Doctor Crusher, she may want to quarantine the building and the occupants
until things are sorted out. The counselor and I need to put the finishing
touch on our work here. We will be beaming to Fallscity.”
to be continued
click here for part thirteen