By Carol Sandford


Chapter 11


"Captain, there is an energy surge on the planet's surface." But before Picard could respond, Data continued, his voice holding a hint of surprise, "Sir, in the past few moments, twenty two more surges have appeared at various locations on the planet's surface."

Drawn to the blank screen before him, Captain Picard stood, his feet urging forward to Data's shoulder."Source, Mr. Data?"

The android's finger's tapped out a steady stream of commands upon the consul's flush surface, but even Picard's trained eyes could not make any sense of the readings. "They have already disappeared, sir. Readings are showing that the surges were portals. I hypothesize that something, or someone has been delivered to the planet's surface."

Picard's heart thumped painfully in his chest anticipating Data's answer even before he had spoken. The alien's had returned, just as Professor Jagla had predicted.

Spinning on his heel, he faced the sturdy Klingon, tension etching its way across his face as his panic level rose inch by inch, "Lieutenant Worf, get me Commander Riker, priority one. They must be warned of imminent danger."

Spinning back to Data, he was comforted to see Data had already taken matter's into his own hands as data started appearing on the screen before him, but Picard still had to relay the order, "Data, added life signs, weaponry?"

Picard had barely finished speaking as Data reeled off the answers, "Sensors are picking up groups of ten life forms at each portal point. All are armed, sir, and all are heading towards areas that are inhabited."

Picard held his breath as he forced the all too obvious question out, but he had to ask; He had to know, "Are the away team in danger?"

Before Data had even turned his innocent, but all-knowing yellow eyes up to his commanding officer, Picard knew his answer. "Yes, sir, I estimate arrival at two point three hours at their current speed."

From then on everything went crazy. Finally locating Commander Riker and warning him of the unwelcome guests, Picard made the decision to send down armed teams to fend off the intruders on the planets surface. The option to bring the Lanaarian's aboard was completely out of the question. There was just simply too many of them. Most were at death's door and the rest too ill to travel. They had no choice but to battle it out on the surface.

As Picard and the away team prepared to transport down to the planet, Data reiterated the reasons for his senior officer not to go to the planet's surface. Picard dismissed his automated statement with a dismissive wave of his hand."Data, there are only ten of these creatures and there are twenty of us going to the medic station. I see no harm in putting my expertise into practise, it has been a long time since I have been allowed this opportunity. Commander Riker has been most insistent about keeping me tucked away from such confrontations, but not this time. I want to see the monsters that are trying to wipe out this planet for myself. In fact, I want to capture one and interrogate it. I'm making that your job, Mr. Data. I want a hostage. Do I make myself clear?"

Data's, "Yes, sir." was barely received as the transporter's beam locked onto their solid forms and obliterating them into a coalescence beam of translucent atoms.

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