By Carol Sandford


Chapter 06


Deanna sat cross-legged in the comfy armchair. The tiny swing of her dangling foot mirrored the anxiety in her fingers as she twirled the glass, still full of the iced tea that she had ordered some half hour before, around and around.

Sighing heavily, she continued to stare unseeing out of the porthole at the passing stars. Normally the sensation of soaring through space filled her with an excitement like no other. Wondering where they were going to end up next, or who, or what, they were going to meet was still a challenge.

But not tonight.

Nor the last twenty or so nights that had passed since Will came back from the planet that 'crushed' her Will.


This had all started off as being a relatively peaceful mission to a distant outpost in the Mantos system. Having established relations with the Traldians, a small colony that were survivors of a holocaust that had ripped their own home planet, Altradia, apart. The few remaining people had fled and settled on the tiny M class planet, which up to recent times, had believed to be uninhabited. But even after discovering that they indeed did have neighbors that were reluctant to make themselves known, the new colonists had granted them their privacy and kept away from their territories.

For two years they had lived in quiet harmony. Colonies soon formed and families were beginning to get settled, and new generations were starting to be born. There was hope for the future.

Until the Enterprise arrived.

The Enterprise D and its crew had been in orbit for nearly five days. Fascinated with the colonists' simplistic way of life, the crew was keen to understand and learn the planets diverse flora and fauna, and their amazing healing qualities.

The landing party made its way around the swampy marsh, carefully watching their feet to avoid falling on their faces into the wet mud. Will Riker frowned as he made his way towards a clearing on the other side of the small lake, he addressed his companion who was busily scanning a hovering cloud of insects, "Data, have you noticed the distinct lack of animals here?"

Data's yellow eyes looked up to his Commanding Officer with a feigned look of surprise, and immediately punched the information he required into his tricorder. After a few moments, he too frowned and told him his findings. "You are correct, sir, according to my readings, there are no animals other than insects and very small invertebrates within a 20 kilometer radius. Perhaps, sir, there are none to be found."

Will studied his companion briefly as he thought about the findings, then his eyes swept the area once more, his puzzlement clear in his voice, "Don't you think that's highly unlikely considering everything here, It's a perfect habitat for animals. I don't buy it."

Making up his mind, he began to walk off towards the rest of the party and a couple of the colonists that had tagged along, curious as to what they were all doing. Will threw over his shoulder as he walked away, "I'm just going to ask them what they know, I'll be back in a minute." Data acknowledged him with a raised hand and continued on with his readings.

Will made his way back over to the main party and approached the two hovering planet dwellers. Coming to a halt in front of them, he threw them a cheery smile before diving straight in, "Hi, I was wondering, do you know why there are no animals here?"

The two men looked puzzled at each other before looking back to Will. "Animals?"

Will grinned at their stupidity, "Yeah, you know, pigs, cows, birds, anything."

Dawning rained on the men, "Ah, you mean protein food."

Will shrugged as he tried to see the connection between animal and protein, but figured they were on the same track. "Yeah, I guess".

Both men shook their heads, "We did bring a few with us when we first came, but they soon disappeared, we simply stopped eating protein and became herbivores."

Will nodded, and muttered "O.k. thanks." Turning away he began to head back towards Data. Lost in thought he did not notice the tiny sets of eyes that watched him from the thick foliage that lay some distance away from the landing party.

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