By Carol Sandford


Chapter 09


Will could see no other way of removing Deanna’s nightgown than tearing it from her now inert body. He was loathe to raise it over her head mostly because he didn’t want to disturb the baby, who had settled between her full breasts, moulding himself against her as though he was joined to her.

He watched them both until he was satisfied that they were breathing naturally; Deanna’s shallow, but steady, her son’s rapid but equally steady. Only then did he feel confident enough to move away and find some clean clothing for Deanna along with the necessities to make her more comfortable. Will was aware he was going to have to get them both out to the shuttle, and to the precious medic-kit within it. Inside he knew there was a supply of various hypo’s, one of which would hopefully ease up Deanna’s bleeding, even if it was just long enough for him to get airborne and out of this nightmare situation.

Crawling around nearer to Deanna’s head, Will tenderly brushed away a strand of hair that had settled upon her pale cheek and watched his Imzadi. He was losing her, he could feel it. The serenity that had settled over her face cleverly camouflaged her true condition. Only someone with a tricorder in their hand or a precious link into her psyche would be aware that her life force was slowly but surely dissipating. The fact that he had the latter was both a blessing and a burden.

But for now they were both holding their own. Taking a deep shuddering breath, Will began to carefully rip away the soiled gown, trying to keep the noise to a minimum, so as not to disturb the slumbering child. As he got higher, he gently lifted Deanna’s arms and slipped the material off, keeping his mind and his eyes averted from the horrific sight lower down her body.

Her slender thighs were marbled with the blood that still seeped from her torn insides. Finding the only thing that deemed suitable, Will formed a triangular shape with a bath towel he’d found in her bathroom, slipped it beneath her sleeping body and fashioned a knot at her waist. Oddly pleased with his invention, Will smiled grimly at the gigantic nappy before beginning the arduous task of slipping the fleecy bathrobe onto her.

As he reluctantly pulled and tugged at her, gradually edging the bathrobe over her cooling body, Deanna woke long enough to raise her arms to lift the little one from her chest, but Will laid his hand upon hers, halting her movement. "Leave him where he is, Deanna, he needs your heat, and you can feel his heartbeat against you, can’t you?" he asked gently.

With a slight nod, her eyes heavy with fatigue and worry, her arms settled once more and Will finally pulled the bathrobe over the front of her and her baby, carefully leaving his tiny face free. As soon as he’d finished, Deanna’s arms moved and cradled the newborn, and as she did so, Will breathed a huge sigh of relief. But as soon as the breath left his lips, his thoughts turned to the next daunting task: getting them all out to the shuttle.

Shifting his body so that he could reach down to Deanna’s pale face, Will tenderly touched his lips to hers and whispered softly. "Hang on, sweetheart, we’re going on a little adventure." Will didn’t even wait to see if she’d heard him. A second later he threw on his jacket, reached down and swept Deanna and the baby into his huge strong arms and hurried towards the door.

Freezing wind and bitterly stinging snowflakes buffeted them as soon as the door slid open, and fearing the chill would reach Deanna and especially the baby, Will quickly stepped out into the blizzard. Head down against the onslaught, hugging them both as tightly as humanly possible, Will hurried towards the shuttle. He could just make out the roof as he approached, but his eyes got drawn to another structure that sat beside it, his footsteps reluctantly slowing as he eyed it suspiciously.

*That’s odd,* he thought, puzzlement creasing his brow, *I don’t remember that being there when I arrived.* Now wary, Will studied it, blinking away the icy flakes as he made his way towards his shuttle. The nearer he got, the more apprehensive he became, especially when the object began to take shape. Fear gripped his heart when he was finally within a few feet of it and realization dawned. It was a shuttlecraft, and judging by the lack of snow adorning it, it had clearly only just arrived.

When the shuttle door opened and a tall, shadowed figure stood against the light beyond, Will’s fear turned to dread. There was no mistaking the giant of a man, a man even bigger than he was and that it could only mean one thing.

Jal was back.

*Why now, dammit!?* he seethed, as he his hatred poured from inside and amassed in his blazing stormy-blue eyes. *Another hour and we would have been far away from here and she would have been mine!* He cried silently. *We would have been safe aboard the Enterprise, and Deanna would have been mine again!*

But as Jal stepped down the ramp with bewilderment and suspicion in his eyes, Will pulled himself to his full height even though the blizzard tore at him, intent on knocking him down, conscious of the precious cargo in his arms. As he stepped onto solid ground, near enough to see the hooded man before him, Jal’s eyes turned from puzzlement into narrowed slits as he surveyed the scene before him, taking in the bundle in his arms and the way he protectively held her against him. Seeing too much, but not enough, his voice laced with violence as he spat out, "Going somewhere with my wife, Riker?"

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