Deanna Troi woke up with an ache in the center of her gut and remnants of a spike of pure, raw, negative emotion from her Imzadi.
“Will,” she called out reflexively and quietly.
She sat up and looked around and shook her head in befuddlement. The room was unfamiliar and the bed was small and utilitarian. “Computer, lights.” The lights brightened and only then did Deanna remember she was on the Jaguar.
Still the feeling that had awakened her gnawed at her stomach. “Will.” She whispered once more with worry and fear. She reached out to him with her mind and felt eased when she sensed him through the thick clouds of emotion being emitted from all those aboard the Jaguar as well as the other vessels surrounding them. Will was safe. She could tell that he was very angry and concerned for her, but he was safe.
Yet still the dull ache in her abdomen persisted. It twisted itself inside and pulled at her, as though it was an echo of Will, a faded memory of him. It was the way Will used to feel – before they had rekindled their passion. It felt as if their connection had faded over the years; the way it felt before Ba’ku – when their connection re-forged itself stronger than it had ever been before.
She stood, shaking the last vestiges of hard sleep from her body and walked to the small sink in the bathroom. She wet her hands and splashed the refreshing liquid over her tired eyes. Her thoughts confused her. Why would Will’s connection trigger such a horrible reaction when he was alright on the Enterprise?
Her eyes flew wide with the dawning of her clarity and the reason behind her ill feelings. “Thomas…” she murmured. “Of course. Thomas!” She looked down to find herself surprisingly still dressed in her uniform, took it for what is was worth and clicked her combadge. “Troi to Commander Data.” There was no answer and Deanna tried once more. “Troi to Data!” Again, her request was met with silence. “Computer…what is the location of Lieutenant Commander Data?!”
“There is no such designation on the ship’s roster.”
Deanna rolled her eyes in frustration. “No one is supposed to know we’re here at all.” She muttered. She bolted through the door to her quarters and down to Data’s assigned room. There was no answer to the bell. Her fears took root as she ran full bore for the morgue and wasn’t surprised when she was confronted with the unconscious bodies of three men and that Thomas himself was missing. “Data!” she cried and moved in towards the android who remained in a prostrate position on the floor.
“Commander Troi.” He vocalized, his voice completely muted by the floor’s impedance on his lips.
Deanna hustled to flip his stiffened body over, finding it heavy and difficult. “Data! Where’s Thomas?!” She moved away quickly to check on the condition of the other two guards and was relieved to find that they were breathing normally. She knew then that they had been drugged.
“I do not know Counselor. He and Doctor Kaest…” Data was interrupted when the ship’s red alert beacons fired off. “However it appears their escape has been noticed.”
Deanna moved back and tried to lift him up to no avail. “Data are you functional?”
His face contorted with and odd expression and Deanna could feel a wave of embarrassment, shame and guilt emanate from him. “I am afraid that you were right about your concerns about Doctor Kaest. He must have planted an interference device on Thomas Riker. Thomas used the device to send an inhibitor pulse to overload my positronic net. It caused my redundant systems to concentrate on resetting key components before concentrating on secondary systems such as lower body movement.”
Deanna nodded with comprehension. “I remember now.” She said. “Is this how Will ended up carrying around your head when I was in command of the Enterprise?”
Data’s upper lip twitched as he processed her questions. “While the circumstances are similar, the damage done to my torso at that time was much more severe. Whereas Commander Riker required immediate assistance with the Engineering interface with the bridge, in this instance I will be fully mobile within fifty seconds. There is no need to remove my cranial unit unless you feel it is necessary.” He gazed to her curiously and Deanna could fell him issue a shot of trepidation. “Do you feel it is necessary?”
Deanna smiled gently. “No Data. I’m sure that fifty seconds will be just fine.”
At that moment, the doors to the morgue opened and Admiral Jellico burst through followed by three security team members with their weapons drawn. Upon seeing the disabled men upon the floor and Deanna leaning over Data’s stationary edifice, they holstered their weapons and began to assist the two downed team members. “Riker has escaped in a shuttle. Who did this?! He couldn’t have acted alone,” his eyes seared into Deanna and she was relieved when Data answered for her.
“Doctor Kaest was the perpetrator Admiral. He assisted Mister Riker in the escape.”
Jellico fumed. He glared once more at Deanna with bridled rage. “Didn’t you sense anything Counselor?”
Deanna sighed heavily and shook her head. “Admiral…I, I have sensed little…”
“Admiral,” Data interrupted once more and stared at Jellico from his newly obtained supine position on the floor. “Counselor Troi came to my quarters to report that even though she was overwhelmed with a flood of emotions from Thomas Riker, she was troubled by Dr. Kaest’s reactions around him. It is why I came in to monitor him as well. Unfortunately, Dr. Kaest was prepared for the circumstance and gave Mr. Riker a device meant to temporarily reset key systems in my posit…”
“Yes Commander,” Jellico barked. “I can see that. When will you be fully functional?”
Data shifted his head hard to the left then once more to the right. He sat bolt upright then stood in a fluid motion to look at his superior officer in the eye. “Now sir.”
Jellico huffed in anger and frustration and turned his attentions to the two men being lifted from the floor. “Are these men alright?” he looked to the security guards that were being lifted by the response team.
“They’ve been drugged sir.” Responded the first team member sharply. “They’re alive.”
“Fine. Report their conditions when received.” Jellico returned his heavy stare to Data and Troi. “Let’s meet in the Obs Lounge and try to determine where they may be heading.” He turned towards the door.
“Admiral…” Troi called to him. Jellico turned to see her pointing at a set of hospital clothing resting on the floor. “Thomas changed clothes.”
Data moved directly to the replicator and his fingers blazed across the interface. He turned and moved back towards the couple. “It appears as though Dr. Kaest replicated a Starfleet uniform Admiral.” He turned his eyes softly and with warning, “That meets Commander Riker’s specifications.”
Jellico’s face bloomed bright red and he turned when he heard Deanna’s voice. “Admiral, I may not be able to sense where they are heading, but I was awakened by a shot of emotion that came from Thomas. At first I was confused by it, but now it makes sense. Thomas left the ship with only one intention.” Her eyes turned to Data then back to Jellico. “He is focused solely on killing someone and he believes he is close to being able to accomplish that task.”