By Carol Sandford


Chapter 01

  "I've requested that a brilliant young geo-physicist join us on this expedition. Starfleet is fortunate to have her, as she grew up on a planet whose weather and atmospheric conditions are very similar to the planet we have been sent to survey.” Picard's eyes flitted around to each member of his senior crew as they took in the details of the upcoming mission.

Commander William Riker, First Officer, grimaced as he spoke. "Captain, how could anyone survive on a planet as brutal as this one appears to be. It's 90% snow, 10 % ice, and it’s as cold as a witches....”

“Yes, Number One, it is cold.” Picard sat forward, resting his clasped hands on the table beneath him. He smiled at Will Riker as he spoke. "Actually Commander, you spent about a month in a similar place some eight years ago.”

Riker stared at him then, his blue eyes clouded over as he thought about where he was eight years ago, and then it hit him. "Paradise! you’re talking about Paradise?" Will's voice boomed throughout the room. His fellow comrades turned curiously to him.

Beverly Crusher was the first to speak, "Oh, I remember, isn't that where you had to fend off those mutant animals, oh, what were they called?"

Will's handsome features contorted, "Wild Things, Beverly. They were called Wild Things, and believe me, you’d never want to come face to face with one. I don’t, not ever again."

Crusher smiled sympathetically and turned her attention back to the captain. Will let his attention drift, thinking back to his last encounter with the mutant monsters that had claimed his very good friend Jackson and maimed Ellie, his wife. He’d been lucky, damned lucky.

The Wild Things had almost killed him and his young charge, Jackson’s daughter, Stephy. Stephy Carter. Will smiled faintly as he recalled the vibrant young girl she’d been back then. Just fifteen years old, Stephy possessed a serious maturity that made it easy to forget her youth. Jet black hair that constantly hung over her eyes, a figure that most women would kill for. And nerve, Lord, did that girl have guts.

Picard’s voice brought Will back to the conversation at hand. He sat only half listening to the rhythmic rise and fall of voices which changed intermittently each time someone asked a question. “The planet has a mean temperature of...”

Without warning Will sat forward in his chair, and cut Data off in mid-sentence. "Captain, if I may, who, 'is' this geophysicist? I don't recall any female members of the team specializing in that particular field. I thought they were all genetic scientists."

Picard glanced at Data who sat close-mouthed with his eyebrows almost hidden in his hair. He had all that he could do not to laugh aloud at the surprised expression. Instead he turned towards his exec and nodded his agreement, "That is correct, Commander. However, when the last of the mutants were exterminated, this particular geophysicist left Paradise and joined Star Fleet Academy. She graduated at the top of her class in her chosen field. Her reputation is impeccable; she has predicted three major potential planetary catastrophes, which saved many thousands of lives, for which she has received several commendations. Perhaps you know her, Will. Her name is Dr. Stephanie Carter.”

“Stephy Carter! Are you serious? That’s incredible, sir.” Grinning widely, Will was overjoyed, and proud of his precious Stephy. He couldn’t wait to see her again. How old was she now? Whatever, Stephy was a fully grown adult now and not an impressionable kid. He hoped that Stephy would be as happy to see him as he was at the thought of seeing her again.

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