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USS Enterprise-E
En Route - Nyx Creation Nebula
Personal Quarters: Commander - Riker, William T.

ONE WEEK LATER…


Will held Deanna in his arms as they lay in bed. He stared up at the ceiling in his quarters, lost in thought.

“Thinking about Toni again?” she asked.

“Uh huh,” he muttered in return. “I can’t help it. I’m worried about her.”

Deanna shifted in his embrace, turning to look at him face to face. “She and Thomas both have a lot of work ahead of them. A lot of work…what they did was…” she cringed.

“Understandable.” He said bluntly.

“Maybe, but it was still wrong.” She replied.

Will grimaced. “She paid the price for it don’t you think? She’s on indefinite leave…How long do you think it will take for her to…?”

“A very, very long time.” Deanna let defeat edge through her voice.

“Captain Picard was able to get counseling while he served after his time with Madred…why couldn’t…”

“It’s different and you know it.”

Will deflated. “I suppose it is.” He drew her closer to him. His mind wandered, letting the thoughts of how joyous Toni had once been struggle against his memories of how drawn, tortured and ruined she had appeared when he last saw her. His heart saddened with the thought of it. “She’ll never be able to come back.”

Deanna tipped her head up to him. “You don’t know that.”

“Yes…I do,” he said sadly, “and so do you. She’ll never get that edge back Deanna. She’ll never be the fighter she once was and she’s not an explorer. They’ll never let her come back.”

Deanna didn’t know what to say, she just held him tighter. Her need to be honest broke through, “No. They won’t…but they’ll find a place for her…they’ll find…”

“Where Deanna? She’ll crush behind a desk.”

“I don’t know Will. We just have to trust her counselors…and we have to trust her that she’ll find the courage to find that place for herself. The same way Thomas will have to find a place for himself once the healing starts.”

“Out of curiosity, why didn’t they tell Thomas that she’s there too?”

“Because they need to focus on themselves first. They’ve both suffered horrible trauma. They need to face it themselves before they can confront the challenge of facing any one else.”

Will nodded with comprehension. “I suppose so.”

Deanna could still feel the smoldering anger and worry emanate from him. “What are you thinking about? What’s got you so angry?”

He allowed a soft smile, loving a Betazoid always had its disadvantages. “I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same thing Deanna. I can’t say I wouldn’t have implanted those memories into Gul Nekrit like Thomas and Toni had….I can’t say Nekrit didn’t deserve it.”

Deanna swallowed. “I know, but it wasn’t Thomas’ or Toni’s job to act as judge, jury and executioner. Their sentence was cruel and unusual…”

“How?” Will barked and sat up in the bed, leaving Deanna to shift to stay with him. “How could their actions be construed as anything more cruel or unusual than what Nekrit and the others did to them…or to any of those poor people?”

“Will…”

Riker rolled his head in utter frustration and pain. “I know Deanna. I know. It wasn’t for them to decide, even though they themselves were victims of it.”

“Right.” She said softly and set her hand on his arm. He drew it around her and pulled her close to him. “They implanted those memories. It was in and of itself, an act of torture.”

Riker continued to sit upright and think about what Deanna had said. “I know…but I still have a hard time thinking she didn’t deserve it.”

“I know Will. I have a hard time too. Thomas and Toni will have a very, very hard time. We just need to support them.”

Riker looked down to her with the same worried look on his face. “Will they ever heal?”

Deanna sighed softly. “It’s possible. With time and good counseling victims of torture can learn to live full-rich lives again. But both Toni and Thomas crossed the line and became torturers themselves. That will only add to the hurdles they will have to overcome. The torture cycle feeds on itself Will. Torturers are usually victims of torture themselves. With timely treatment, they can break that cycle…there’s hope.”

Riker nodded then drew Deanna back with him onto the bed, spooning her into his embrace. “Toni’s a fighter. She’ll make it through.”

“So is Thomas.” Deanna smiled.

“Yes. He is.”

Riker nuzzled Deanna at the base of her ear and kissed her neck. “I love you.”

Deanna smiled, closed her eyes and settled into him. “I love you too Will. They’ll be all right. Have faith.”

She could feel that he took comfort in her words and they held each other until they drifted off to sleep.


__________



“THERE ARE…FOUR…LIGHTS!”

Captain Jean-Luc Picard opened his eyes and sighed heavily as he sat up in bed. He rolled his head over his exhausted shoulders and licked his lips. He then slowly drew his hand to his eyes and rubbed them, hoping against hope he would be able to just lay back down and find the way back towards sleep.

But he knew it was fruitless.

He threw his legs over the side of his bed and hit the comm button on his bedside stand, utterly regretful for what he was about to do. “Captain to Counselor Troi.”

A few moments passed until he heard her tired voice. “I’ll be right there Captain.”

This time he didn’t even attempt to get dressed in his uniform. He just found a suitable robe and walked over to the replicator. “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.” He withdrew the beverage then smirked sadly. “Hot cocoa.” He pulled the second mug from the replicator and set it upon the coffee table in his quarters just as the door bell rang. “Come.” he said quietly.

Deanna entered the room, dressed in a soft blue lounge set and she tilted her head curiously when she saw that he had already obtained her beverage for her. “This is new,” she said.

Picard sat back on his couch and sipped his tea. “I apologize for not getting your cocoa for you beforehand. Only now do I realize it was because I was in denial that these sessions would take so long for you to require one.”

Deanna’s eyebrows lifted gently and then she smiled. “But tonight you know better?”

Picard leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, holding his tea between them. He nodded succinctly. “Yes. Something new occurred tonight.”

“Really?” Deanna asked as she sat and brought her cocoa to her lips. “What was that?”

“I’m not sure if it’s a step back or a step forward.” He said hesitantly.

“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?”

Picard allowed a small smile to escape his lips before it vanished entirely. “This time…after I woke up…the first thing I thought of wasn’t Madred or even the Borg.”

This revelation was a small surprise to Deanna and she gently rested her mug back upon the table. “Go on.”

“The first thing I thought of was Antoinette.”

Deanna leaned her head on her bent elbow, focused on her patient. “What about her?”

“Something she said to me before I left Sickbay. She said ‘Given half the opportunity would you not have done the same to Gul Madred?’”

“And her question bothers you…”

Picard nodded. “A great deal.”

“Because you believe she might be right?”

“No Counselor.” Picard lifted his gaze to hers and shook his head weakly. “It bothers me because I know she’s right.”



Sector 001
Earth
San Francisco
Starfleet Medical Headquarters
Maximum Security Detention Ward - Room 13

TWO WEEKS LATER…



She tried to move her arms. She tried to move her legs but she was frozen, her eyes continually taking in the carnage in front of her.

She opened her mouth to scream and she found her voice, but the sound that was produced from her throat, oddly, was not her own. It was deep and guttural and hoarse. She screamed all the same.

She heard a voice in her ear as her head was forced forward once more. “Watch them die. Watch them I said!” But she began to shake uncontrollably –

The voice…the voice was…



…hers.


She felt her hair being pulled from the back of her head as her own hand forced her gaze from the ceiling of the cavern back down to the screaming, desperate masses fruitlessly trying to block the oncoming fire with their hands, or claws or tentacles.

“NOOOO!!!” She screamed although the voice was deep and male-sounding.

Bodies were hoisted and thrown on top of one another just so the remaining victims could be reached by those who were shooting relentlessly. The blood continued to flow.
Her eyes suddenly focused on a single individual in remaining group.

A woman calmly and stoically stepped forward and separated herself from the terrified pack and she stood remarkably still. The woman’s eyes met her own and locked on.

She was a starkly beautiful woman with dark, short hair. She had Bajoran nose ridges and wore the traditional earpiece, but she bore it on her left ear – the sign of a rebel. Her eyes were dark and serious yet almost instantaneously they softened and she smiled with dignity and pride.

The woman’s lips moved. She couldn’t be heard for the din, but it didn’t matter - her lips were easy to read.
“Remember that I love you. Never forget. Beat them. Promise me you’ll beat them.”

She nodded her head and replied to the beautiful, dark-haired woman knowing she would never be heard, but also knowing her lips could be read just the same, “I love you. I promise I’ll remember. I promise I’ll beat them!” she screamed at her full capacity. “I love you…”
And she felt the love and the pain and the undeniable horror at knowing what would happen…

The woman’s smile widened and she nodded softly.

A Jem’Hadar soldier approached the woman and without so much as a warning or a second glance, he shot the woman in the chest. Strangely, the woman’s smile never wavered. She fell to her knees keeping her gaze locked onto her own until she fell face-first to the floor.

“LAREN!!!!!” she screamed in agony. “LAREN!!!”

The sheer horror of the sight of the massacre blended with her own sense of loss of the woman who so bravely faced her death and she began to cry out in anguish and she whispered to herself, “Ro Laren…I promise…”

Her head jerked back sharply as the hand pulled her hair once more. “You watch! You need to see what you have caused. You need to see what your own stubbornness has done.”


Her own
true-voice hissed. “You brought this upon them and yourself!”



Nekrit’s body jolted wildly on the biobed, her body wracked with severe tremors.

“Another grand-mal!” the male physician barked. His forceful hand reached and pressed down the arm of the unconscious Cardassian woman and injected her with a hypospray. Her tremors quieted, but did not cease entirely.

The male physician slowly stepped away from the bed to consult with the other physician. “She’s been this way for almost two weeks. She’ll never be able to stand trial at this rate. I recommend transfer to the main facility at Vulcan. Maybe their psychiatrists and physicians will have better luck with the therapies developed using Vulcan suppression techniques.”

The tall female physician pursed her lips with obvious doubt and the first physician could see it. “While it’s the only viable alternative, I don’t think they’ll be able to do much more for her. I’ve never seen anything so utterly destructive before. Not even with mismanaged mind-melds.”

“That’s due to the Cardassian physiology. Cardassians have photographic memories…they can’t suppress them.”

“That’s my fear Doctor. She may never be cured.”

The first physician swallowed. “All the more reason to try everything we can before we give up hope.”

The female physician nodded curtly. “I’ll begin the transfer protocols at once.” She turned and left the private medical room.

The male physician stood at the foot of the bed and watched his patient’s body reveal the seizures he was unable to cease without killing her. He thought briefly that for the first time in his career, mercy killing might be the best alternative, but a strange voice entered his mind – First do no harm.

He sighed heavily and looked upon his patient’s contorted face and felt a twist in his stomach. “Besides…” he whispered, “…if I killed you, I couldn’t say I wouldn’t be doing it more out of hatred than compassion.” He turned and walked out of the room leaving Nekrit alone in her state of eternal nightmares.


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