Captain Temmett growled in frustration. “Admiral!” he called Jellico to one side.
Much to his chagrin, Jellico stood and walked some distance away from the table where Thomas Riker, Data and Troi were sitting. Jellico sighed and caught a glimpse of Troi’s pursed lips, her anger was evident.
Temmett dropped his hairy head and lifted his eyes to Jellico’s. “Why don’t you just try…just try to get this through your head. My client will not be answering any questions about the Maquis. Don’t you believe that it’s all rather…moot?”
“There’s not very many of them left Admiral. My client may very well be the last one. Do you actually believe that he might be prosecuted when he may hold the key to peace with Cardassia? Why do you continually bring up these questions? I thought you had bigger fish to fry.”
Jellico huffed. “Captain, information that Riker provides not only against Dominion criminals, but criminals from anywhere is information I want. If there’s any information about any potential surviving Maquis member that has struck against a Federation ship, colony or outpost I am going to ask about it.”
“Then I think we’re done here.” Temmett said calmly. “Commander Data, we will be taking an indefinite recess.”
“Yes sir.” Data replied and stood from the table.
Jellico growled but quickly realized that he would be gaining nothing by arguing.
Temmett spoke to him once more, “He’s barely able to answer the most basic of questions and your constant hounding is proving wholly ineffective. So far he hasn’t been able to remember names let alone where and when he might have been active prior to the onset of the Dominion War.” He turned to walk back to the table and addressed Troi. “Counselor, why don’t you assure that Mister Riker is made comfortable? If things change we might allow the Admiral another chance to speak with him tomorrow.”
Troi stood from her position next to Riker and set her hand gently on his shoulder. He looked tiredly up to her. “Agreed Captain. Thomas is tired.”
Jellico knew he would never get another word in unless he played the game and he quickly exited the morgue.
Troi looked down to Riker. “Thomas. You did very well. We can take a break now and get something to eat.”
Riker felt strange. “Can I ask more questions?”
Temmett sat back down at his chair. “Of course. We have plenty of time to talk to you.”
Troi smiled weakly. “What more do you want to know?”
Thomas looked around the room. “You said we are on the USS what?”
“Jaguar.” Temmett replied. “It’s a new defense ship developed by the Federation after the end of the Dominion War.”
He looked to Data then to Troi and he crumpled his forehead in confusion. “But I was on the Enterprise at one time right? I mean you two served on the Enterprise?”
Deanna smiled and before Data could respond she piped in. “Thomas, both Commander Data and I still serve aboard the Enterprise. But defense ships do not have counselors and Data is here to assist Captain Temmett with your representation.”
“Why didn’t we stay on the Enterprise?”
Temmett waddled over to the replicator. “Tellarite root tea. Sweet.” He pulled the beverage out from the device and turned to hustle back. “For your safety, Thomas. Admiral Jellico and the executive command have created a ruse that you are dead. Cardassia is on the brink of full-scale civil war and the military’s loyalties are split. More than half of the remaining Cardassian fleet has allied themselves with the Cardassian rebels that helped turn the tide in winning the Dominion War.” Temmett seated himself across from Thomas at the table. “However, those who wish to see the military maintain control of Cardassia have power over the more formidable ships in the fleet. Over seventy-five percent of Cardassian battle cruisers are controlled by those loyal to militaristic rule.”
Troi turned to Thomas, “When Tholia negotiated their trade for you they implanted a pain device meant to kill you the moment they were out of retaliatory range. Admiral Jellico felt it best that we carry on the idea that you had died in the hopes that our crossing to Earth would be made safer.”
Data entered the conversation. “The morgue is the safest place to hide the fact that you are alive. Your presence on this ship is a well-guarded secret. Admiral Jellico felt that any Cardassian would assume that you would remain on the Enterprise.”
At that moment the door slid open and a tall Bajoran man walked in. He was wearing a blue Starfleet uniform with three pips at his collar. His mousy-brown hair was cut short so it stood on end in a carefree, frenzied mop. He wore a traditional Bajoran earring on his right ear. He was carrying a small med-kit with him.
“Doctor Kaest. Your timing is perfect. Care to join us for dinner?” asked Temmett to the physician.
Kaest Jonia looked across the room and smiled professionally at Riker. “Thanks Captain but I have several scheduled follow ups later and don’t want many of the crew to see me in and out of here too frequently.”
Temmett nodded in agreement. “I would like to continue our conversation but if I’m interrupting you…”
“No Doctor.” Riker spoke up. “Please sit down. I wanted to talk to you too.”
Temmett waved his hand to Data, “Commander, let the Counselor and doctor have their time with our client. I would like to continue additional research if you don’t mind.”
Data stood and joined Temmett at the door. “Not at all, Captain.”
Troi acknowledged the two men as they exited then turned her black eyes to those of Doctor Kaest. “Thomas. Are you sure you’re up for this? You’re exhausted.”
Riker turned his weary blue eyes to her and nodded weakly. “I want this done. I want to feel real again.”
“Thomas...” her voice warned, “…as we discussed, removing your scars on the outside…”
“Deanna,” Thomas interrupted with agitation, “I want rid of them.”
Deanna moved to one side and helped Thomas up from his chair at the table then moved with him to his bed. He sat on the bed and allowed the physician to scan him.
Kaest took out a small tool from his med-kit and smiled gently. “You won’t feel any pain Thomas, but you may feel warmth at the sites where the scar tissue is being reduced. If you want me to stop at any time just let me know.”
Thomas nodded with understanding.
“Fine. Let’s start with your face. Why don’t you lie down and make yourself comfortable?”
“Deanna…” Thomas whispered with slight agitation in his voice. She moved to his side as he lay back on his bed.
“Stay here, will you?”
“Of course.” She took his hand and he held hers tightly.
“I guess this means I’ll lose the beard?” he said.
Deanna smiled. “Just for awhile. You can always grow it back.”
It was the first time she had seen him smile since he had returned. She could feel that he had indeed felt a small amount of happiness and she squeezed his hand tighter.
The doctor made pass after pass after pass across his face. Small, discolored burns marks faded and disappeared. Large gashes that were previously hidden by his facial hair vanished with the physician’s tool.
Soon, he moved onto his patient’s extremities completing his arms and legs then helped Thomas turn over. When his gown was opened to reveal his back, Deanna couldn’t help but gasp. Thomas breathed out heavily. “Got your work cut out for you, eh Doc?” Thomas said sharply and Deanna could feel a rush of fear emanate from him.
“Thomas…” she reassured. “Do you want to stop?”
“No,” he grunted. “Let’s just get this done.”
Kaest pulled the tool once more and began to work slowly on the patchwork of burn marks, switch marks and surgical tool marks that crisscrossed and mottled his broad back.
Deanna watched the physician’s tedious but skillful work as he erased the signs of the torture Thomas had endured. She was overcome with the thought that somehow it was wrong. All wrong. She was unhappy with his decision to undergo the procedures so soon but she had no right to tell him he couldn’t.
Finally it came time for Thomas to have his chest cleared. He turned over once more and Deanna assisted the physician with lowering Thomas’ gown to uncover his torso. Again Deanna found it hard to hold her stomach when she looked over the blizzard of marks, scars and divots in his chest and abdomen.
After realizing that Thomas was ready, Kaest began to work once more, slowly removing each scar. From his umbilicus to his sternum he worked and worked until, without warning, Thomas seized his wrist of the hand that held the tool. Shocked, Kaest shut off his tool. “What is it Thomas?”
Thomas had paled significantly and his grip on the Kaest’s arm had not waned. “I promised.”
Deanna could feel it – his sorrow, his terror. “What did you promise?”
“I promised her.”
“What did you promise Thomas? Who did you promise?”
“Laren. I promised her I wouldn’t forget.” He said and he began to shake. “I don’t want to forget. I can’t break my promise.”
Deanna felt wave after wave of guilt begin to emit from Thomas and she moved hand to his once more. “What can we do Thomas?”
Thomas looked to her with such sadness. “Mirror.”
Deanna nodded and looked to Kaest. “Let the doctor go Thomas. He can get you a mirror.”
It was only then that Thomas had realized that he had held the doctor’s wrist so tightly his hand was turning deep red. He released the hand immediately. “Sorry.”
Kaest smiled gently. “It’s okay.” He reached for a small mirror from the kit he carried with him and handed it to Thomas.
Thomas looked into the glass and immediately held it up so he could view his upper chest. He sighed with what Deanna could feel was a deep sense of relief. “Good,” he said.
“What?” she asked.
“You haven’t erased that one yet.”
“Which one Thomas?”
“This one.” He pointed to a small, round almost negligible scar at his right clavicle. It was dark and Deanna could tell at one time it had been a deep scar, like the tissue had been scooped whole from the area. “I want to keep this one. I need to remember.”
“What does this scar mean Thomas?” she asked, not personally wanting to know, but pushing forward with the counseling technique.
“It was the first one she gave me.”
Thomas’ eyes widened and he shook his head. Suddenly Deanna could feel him loosing grip on his fear and anger. In an instant a strange vacuous expression crossed his face. “No. She wants me to play this game.” He shook his head once more. “Nope. Not gonna play.”
Deanna looked to Kaest with defeat. “We’re done doctor. It’ll be a step back or two I’m afraid.”
Kaest looked to her with empathy. “I understand counselor.”
Deanna looked to his soft, blue eyes and had to remind herself it was not Will. She pushed down her fury and held Thomas’ hand as he reverted into his denial.