By Carol Sandford


Chapter 36


The Sindareen pilot winced as he felt his Captain?s fingertips dig into his shoulder as they all stared out of the screen ahead at the arriving Federation fleet, the morbid fascination at facing their enemy head on bringing an evil grin of satisfaction to his leaders face. He knew this because he heard the familiar grunt of devilish glee leave his mouth, and of course, the excited pressure of his thick, strong fingers. Both of which he reluctantly ignored for fear of retribution.

Maror barely turned his head to the man behind him, but his eyes never left the screen ahead as he snarled, "Bring me the girl." The silent rush of anticipation swept through the bridge crew as the imminent confrontation was at last about to happen. Some welcomed it, and some did not. The man beneath his leaders fingers was one of the latter. Of all the bridge crew, he was the one that had something to live for; A family. A home. A life, back on Sindar.

Without uttering a word the man spun on his heels and ducked beneath the doorway and disappeared beyond only to return barely a minute later with the requested woman gripped tightly in his hands. Letting her go as she stepped through the bridge doorway, Deanna gently massaged the now bruised area of upper arm that still stung from the harsh grip, but the pain was all but forgotten as her eyes soon fixed upon the same scene that the entire accompliment on the bridge watched.

Federation ships. A whole fleet of Federation ships, and Deanna felt her heart sink to her toes. God, how many were there? she asked herself, mentally beginning to count the silver shapes that sat suspended beyond the screen, waiting.

Thirty two. Deanna got to thirty two before Maror?s bitter and twisted voice broke her concentration. "Hail the lead ship," he ordered her. "I want them to see you before I kill them all."

Deanna?s shock left her mouth in a gurgled gasp as she recoiled against the anger and hatred that fuelled his promise. "I won?t do it! I won?t tell them anything you want me to repeat, damn you!" as she unwittingly came to stand barely two feet away from the only man that she would ever hate with every ounce of her heart, an emotion that as a Betazoid she so rarely felt. So rare that she physically felt the bile rise as she let the horror of his promise fill her being.

Maror spun on his heels so fast that Deanna stumbled back stepping straight up against the Sindareen that had brought her in and he instinctively held her upper arms in his tight grip to face whatever Maror figured to be her punishment for speaking to him in that manner.

But Deanna was beyond being frightened for herself. She cared about one thing and one thing only. Life. Not her life, but Will?s, Jeb?s, Betazed, her home, her family and strangely odd, she even cared about the Federation, realizing in that fraction of a moment then that was where her life lay, if she survived this.

She did not care about the scum that stood before her with possibly the nastiest, vilest smirk upon his face that she had ever seen.

"You will pay for that, Bitch!" he sneered, leaning so close to her that Deanna felt his stale breath upon her cheeks, his fist, clenched tight in anger raised high as though he was going to hit her, hard.

But Deanna refused to flinch, or cower beneath his evil stare-down as she waited for the inevitable. For a very long moment, everything was suspended. Everything stopped as they waited for his fist to make its mark.

But then a spark of something flared in his devilish eyes and without turning, he growled to his helmsman, "Hail the ship. I want them to see this."

Deanna?s legs went weak when she realized his intention and she would have fallen but for the steely grip still upon her upper arms. Her eyes left Maror?s face and looked over his shoulder to the screen. Barely a moment later, a face that she never thought she would see again filled the space, and Deanna released the choked sob that she didn?t realize she had been holding. Oh, my God. Will! she silently cried, shaking her head as she tried to deny the vision she was seeing.

She watched as Will, shocked beyond belief at what he was witnessing, rose up from his seat. And she watched as silent angry, desperate, pleading words poured from his mouth, unheard because the comm system had been viciously turned off. And she watched as Maror slowly turned back to her, rose his fist and brought it down upon her upturned, petrified face.

Will?s silent scream roared through her head as her face exploded with a million different splintering shards of pain with the force of his bare-knuckled punch and then a blackness stole over her mind. This time when her legs gave way, the man holding her let her go and Deanna slipped to the floor into a grateful unconsciousness.

Stunned, disbelieving silence saturated not only the Sindareen bridge, but every Federation ship that witnessed the barbaric act. Will was beside himself as he watched with tears streaming from his eyes as his beloved, his Imzadi slide to the floor under the force of his fist, unable to tear his eyes away from her pitiful, crumpled figure upon the steel floor of the the Sindareen ship.

Deanna. Oh, God, my poor Deanna! he silently cried.

After along moment, Maror?s voice impinged on Will?s brain and he tore his eyes away from Deanna and stared instead at the piece of scum that stood grinning at him. "You going to come and get your woman, Federation man? he sneered, "Or shall I keep her for myself? She?s a feisty young thing, but I think I can handle her." He suddenly laughed as though he suddenly had an amusing thought., "I think she might even like it after a while."

Raucous laughter trickled throughout the Sindareen bridge crew, and even Will, his initial shock wearing off to deal with the matter at hand, suddenly realized that the ball game had changed.

They had come here with war in mind, but had hoped that with with a united show of Federation craft, that maybe, just maybe, the Sindareen would back down. But not now, not after seeing what the Sindareen raider had done to Deanna, Will had no intention of letting him live, and if that meant wiping out the entire Sindareen race just to get at him, then so be it.

Taking a deep, shuddering breath, Will?s face split into a grin laced with an equal amount of malice. His voice, now free of the choking tears that he had already spilt as he?d watched him beat Deanna, spat, "Over my dead body, you bastard."

Maror laughed, "That?s the plan. You want her?" he asked maliciously, "Then come and get her." he dared.

But before Will could utter another word, Bobby Tiller suddenly said, with absolute terror in his voice, "Enemy force coming in, Sir. It? the Klingon?s."

Sucking in a shaky breath, Will?s fingers gripped the back of Tiller?s seat, his finger tips turning white with tension. "What the...? Where?" he barked.

The air in the ship disappeared with their breath as he answered, glancing up into Will?s deathly pale face. "Behind the Sindareen force, Sir."

Will began to tremble. It was one thing to go into war with the Sindareen, but it was entirely a different matter to fight against the Sindareen AND possibly the nastiest, most vicious race known to the Federation, and the rest of the civilized worlds. He only had one choice.

"Prepare to retreat." he said, the fight quickly leaving him, his heart suddenly turning frozen at what he had to do.

Bobby Tiller?s fingers stilled as his leader?s words sunk in, and he turned his eyes to his his once more. "Sir?" he asked with surprise. "What about...?"

Will cut him off, unable to hear him utter Deanna?s name as he prepared to let her go, and the others, this time for good. "They?ve won," he said sadly. "We can?t fight them both." Slipping back into his seat he punched the control panel before him, ignoring the frantic buzz of activity upon the Sindareen ship. "Spread the word. We?re returning to Betazed."

And with one last long sorrowful look at the woman he loved still lying unconscious on the cold metallic floor, Will silently whispered, his heart breaking with his decision, Goodbye, Imzadi

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