A SPECK IN THE DISTANCE

 
 

By Carol Sandford

 
 

Chapter 09

 
 

A tryst had been finally arranged for the following morning between the two clans. Both had been keen to be introduced. Data had managed to outline the benefits to the native Mantosians and Will had convinced the settlers of the same similar benefits to be had by joining the two factions. Once the language barriers had been bridged, life, in theory, would become 100% better.

In theory.

Data acted as the translator as the two leading men, Will, Data and Deanna gathered at a chosen meeting point, and within an hour, there were hearty handshakes all round.

As Will watched from the sidelines, he whispered to Deanna. "Dee, can you still sense nothing from the Mantosians?"

Deanna smiled into Will's worried face, laughing quietly at his obvious discomfort, "No, Will, I sense nothing untoward at all. In fact I was about to compliment you on your success as a mediator. I think you've done a wonderful job here, Stop worrying, everything is fine."

Will smiled grimly, and silently hoped and prayed that she was right.

~**~**~**~**~

One week after the negotiations, the Enterprise prepared to leave orbit. Data had remained down on the planet as the two tribes attempted to interact with each other. A simple, basic language had been established and the Mantosians had agreed to move themselves gradually into the colonists' camp. Their 'technology' was slightly more improved and they had more living space, although preparations were underway to build some temporary shelters until a suitable site could be cleared for more permanent accommodations.

Although the colonists had refused practically everything that the Enterprise had offered, on Will's insistence, and after a lot of cajoling, he persuaded the colonists leader to accept a small transmitter. One flick of the switch and they would come back.

Four days later~~~~~

"Incoming transmission signal Captain." All eyes turned to the tactical officer. Worf looked down to his senior officer seated in front. The captain glanced briefly at his first officer.

"Source, Mr. Worf."

Worf's eyes caught Will's stare. "It's coming from the Mantos system, sir". Will let go of the breath that he'd been holding and along with it he muttered, "I knew it."

Despite Picard silently agreeing with him, he was still forced to tell the worried man. "We don't know that for sure yet, Commander. Ensign change course for the Mantos system, warp eight. Engage."

~**~**~**~**~

The away team shimmered into life a few yards away from the base camp and on first perusal everything seemed quiet, too quiet. Data whipped out his tricorder before Will had the chance to say, "Life signs, Mr. Data". Moments later Will's heart stopped beating as Data relayed his findings.

"There are none, sir."

Will's heartbeat came back with a painful thump as he looked incredulously at the android, "None! That's impossible, there must have been near on one hundred people here a few days ago. They can't have all gone."

As the away team began to step into the campgrounds, an eerie sensation washed over him. Making his way towards one of the huts, his ears were assaulted with a frenzied buzzing. Will's first thoughts were of bees around a honey pot. But before Will had even reached the make shift doorway he knew the sinister sound was flies on rotting meat. A startled gasp followed by a distinct retching noise from one of the security team told him everything he wanted to know. Every Traldian was dead.

Taking a deep breath he readied himself for whatever lay beyond the door, but as he went to step through, a hand grasped his shoulder and pulled him back. Data's warning voice halted him in is tracks.

"I do not advise you to go in, Commander"

Searching blue eyes looking into yellow ones, "Why not, Mr. Data?"

Without any emotion Data informed him of his findings.

"I am sorry sir, they have all been murdered."

Will looked back at the hut's entrance as he tried to imagine the worst scenario. "How, Data?"

After a moments silence Data finally told him. "It appears that they have had their throats cut."

Will's guttural moan halted Data's explanation, and he wondered if he should tell him the rest. He chose not to as he realized that Will would go still in and find out for himself. Will took a tentative step forward and stopped again. His eyes drawn to the dark, dank hut's interior.

"I must see for myself, Data"

Data nodded. "I understand sir, but I caution you, that is not all that has happened to them."

Once more Will's eyes caught his. But after squeezing them tightly shut, he finally took the last step inside.

~**~**~**~**~

Every man, woman and child had been killed. An autopsy carried out on board the Enterprise had shown that the slit throats had clearly been the initial method of slaughter, but then the Mantosians had systematically cut every person from neck to groin and removed their entrails. Beverly had been horrified to find even the unborn had suffered the same fate. The Mantosians did not want anyone left alive.

And from the moment that Will had stepped into the first hut, and had seen what he had truly believed was entirely his fault, Commander William T. Riker, First Officer of the USS Enterprise D had ceased to exist.

 
     
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