By Carol Sandford


Chapter 07


Her beloved Will sat in his chair, his own horror reflected upon his face, and she realised why. Deanna«s hands flew to her face, and even without a mirror, she knew that she had aged.

Her eyes never left Will's as she reached for a lock of her hair, almost crying out loud as she looked down at the almost white, tissue thin limp hair that had once been her crowning glory. Will saw her despair, but as he tried to stand to offer her some comfort, his now scrawny, weak legs gave way and he collapsed into an undignified heap on the floor.

It was then they noticed the fine powdery substance that covered the floor and looking up, noticed it on the Captains chair. And worse than that, his uniform was lying in the same position as if he was still sitting there. As realisation sunk in Deanna cried out,

"Oh my God! The Captain! He's gone!"

As Will and Deanna looked around the bridge, it was eerily silent as other members of the crew stared back at them, all aged and all in deep shock. Will noticed that the others on the bridge were not quite as old as himself and Deanna appeared to be.

The tactical station was devoid of a controller, and Will racked his brains to try and remember who was manning the communications console...Worf! Will dragged himself around the tactical stations structure, the effort almost making him pass out with pain as the rigors of arthritis seized his joints up beyond recognition. Groaning with the exertion, he finally crawled around enough to see Worf's body on the floor, curled up into a feotal position. Will could see that Worf was breathing, but very raggedly, like a man about to die.

Will tapped his comlink badge, hoping there were people alive elsewhere alive on the ship.

"Riker to Crusher."

His voice barely sounded like his own, but was just close enough for the computer to acknowledge it. A few moments later, an equally crackly voice came back,

"Crusher here. What the hell happened?"

Will smiled painfully, still trying to catch his breath from the struggle to see Worf.

"I think we've jumped into the future, but Worf is in trouble. Can you get down here to see if you can help?"

It was a long moment before she answered,

"I'm sorry, Will, but I'm crippled, my legs won't take my weight. Tell me, how's Jean-Luc?"

Will caught Deanna's eye as she too had slowly and painfully made her way over to see Worf for herself. Somehow she had painfully managed to nearly stand upright. The long silence was enough for Beverly to know their answer.

"He's dead...isn't he?"

Will felt her loss almost as if he'd lost his own father. His heart was heavy when he finally replied,

"Yes, he is, Beverly. I'm sorry. I think it must have been because he was older than the rest of us. I'm not sure what's wrong with Worf. I know he's a little younger, but he appears to be dying, Bev."

Beverly Crusher told Will that it was probably Worf's Klingon physique causing the trouble. Since his genetic make up was totally different than theirs, there was probably nothing they could do.

Deanna had sat down beside the giant man and was gently stroking his face. It was the only comfort she could give him, she was elated when his breath quieted to a more peaceful, almost sighing, rhythm. Beverly dared to ask Will if he'd checked on the rest of the ship. She heard the uncertainty in his voice when he answered.

"No, not yet. I've not had the chance. I'm about to do it now. Riker out"

Will had been watching Deanna's quiet administrations. She had shut her traumatised mind down and seemed to be stroking Worf's face on auto-pilot. Will's heart ached as he tried to imagine dying without her beside him, doing the same thing.

He shook himself out of his agonising to reach across and gentle rouse her. Her blank eyes, huge with fatigue looked back at him. Will tenderly halted her hand from its ministrations and as he did so, whispered,

"Deanna, he's gone."

Deanna blinked as the words sank in, then sobbed as she looked down onto Worf's face. Will's own grief broke through as he watched her despair. He needed to get her away from Worf . Between them both, they managed to make it back to their chairs. The ensigns at the helm looked to Will for any kind of solace. Will looked from one to the other, his bewilderment evident on his face. His mind kicked in when he looked to the young ensign and registered the fact that Data usually sat there.


"Computer, locate Lieutenant Commander Data."

"Lieutenant Commander Data is currently in his quarters."

All eyes looked urgently to Will once more as he spoke to thin air,

"Riker to Data."

A huge sigh was heard when he responded,

"Data here, Sir."

Will almost held his breath when he asked him,

"Data, are you all right?"

"Yes Sir, I am fine, however, you sound strange Sir, is there a problem?"

Will almost laughed out loud.

"Yes, Data, there most certainly is a huge problem! Can you make your way to the bridge pronto?"

"On my way, Sir."

Data walked onto the bridge five minutes later, his yellow eyes taking in the scene before him and his purposeful stride coming to a full stop in front of them.

"Commander, what happened...and where is the Captain?"

All eyes looked towards the chair, no words were needed, and after a moments silence Will quietly looked back up to the android and his eyes pleading,

"Find out what the hell happened here, Data, and try to get us back to where we came from, ASAP."

Before Will finished speaking, Data was at his console, his hands flying over the controls, trying to make sense of the situation. All waited with bated breath for his explanation. Finally, Data turned to them ready with his hypothesis.

"It appears that we have jumped approximately forty two years and eight months into the future. The wormhole is still stable. If my calculations are correct, we should be able to return back to our original destination and our original time line, Sir."

Will sighed. Reaching over to clasp Deanna's hand, they both silently looked at the rapidly dispersing dust that once was their beloved Captain. Will quietly, but anxiously gave the order.

"I hope to God you're right, Mr. Data. Make it so."

Data swung back around to face his consul and prepared to turn the ship around, heading it back into the black abyss, and hopefully, back to how they were. Now it was Data's turn to admire the beauty of the inner wormhole.

The rest of the bridge crew now saw it in a whole new different light; the registered minutes it took to travel through it became a lifetime of anguish. Data witnessed as he watched his fellow cremates miraculously changed back to their former selves. These images would be permanently etched in his fantastic positronic brain as one of the great wonders of the universe.

Will and Deanna stared at each other waiting for the changes to start, still unaware of the time lapse the left them to the mercies of the unknown. It was not until they had come out the other side that they saw that were truly back to their original state.

Also restored was a bemused, and slightly bewildered Captain, who watched his finest crew members leaping about in front of him, crying with tears of joy and relief. He looked around to Worf, who appeared to be happy, but quietly amazed. Picard stood to approach the group who were still frantically hugging and laughing. Everybody was so emotional, no one could speak.

"Did I miss something here? Number one, What's happened?"

The Captain«s two senior officers managed to contain themselves enough to face their captain, but Picard noticed that they still held on to each others hands as they did so. Not quite knowing where to start, Will hesitated while he thought of the simplest way to explain.

"Well, Sir, we went through the wormhole, and come out on the other the future."

Picard looked at him, still slightly bemused, not quite understanding the situation.

"In the future eh? So, how come I didn't get to see this miraculous event?'

He watched the look between the two again, but Beverly's arrival on the bridge put paid to his eagerly awaited answer.

"Oh, Jean-Luc, I'm so glad you're alive!"

He looked at her startled, his face draining of colour,

"Alive! Are you saying I was... dead?"

Data felt it was time for his explanation, and approaching the foursome he readied himself for a full detailed report.

"May I suggest we go into the observation lounge Sir, I think it maybe better if we were all sitting down."

Picard nodded his ascent, and they all proceeded to enter the observation lounge, Will and Deanna still clasped hands.

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