By Carol Sandford


Chapter 12


Picard's body and his teams reassembled on Lanaare to barely organised chaos. Every humanoid being that could stand on two legs was busy pushing gurney's laden with half dead Lanaarian's into the innermost makeshift dormitories. The deafening shouts of doctors, nurses and anyone else that had an ounce of authority bellowed at the scared staff as they pushed patient upon patient from one dorm to another with the intent of moving what obviously were the targets of the attackers into a more condensed area. It was a tactic well known and usually successful leaving the guardians free to fend off whatever was heading their way.

Picard spotted Riker's tall form dishing out his own controlled orders. The Captain didn't have to search far for the other object of his concern; Beverly Crusher. He'd known that once he'd found Will, he'd find Beverly. If there was anything that Picard was certain of, it was his first officers compulsion to protect his own and the doctor was no exception.

As Picard approached Will and made his presence known, he watched Will's eyes automatically search the rest of the away team. Jean-Luc instantly knew what he was looking for and recognised the relief in his eyes as he realised that the counselor was not with them and that she was still safely on board the Enterprise.

"Captain, this is not a good idea and I strongly suggest that you return to the ship."

Picard cut him off with the same dismissive gesture that he'd used on Data. "Stuff and nonsense, number one, I have been in more battles than you have and I want to meet the visitors first hand. I want to see what kind of creature can do this to these poor unfortunates that have got in their way."

Riker couldn't help notice the distinct sense of disbelief as he and the rest of the team watched the endless stream of casualties pass them by. Picard jumped back in shock as a pathetically tiny emaciated hand reached out and grasped his; Pleading, horror and the acceptance of death stared back at him. Picard tried to disengage his hand, first gently so's not to hurt the Lanaarian, but when he realised the man was not about to let go, more forcibly.

As Jean-Luc silently pleaded with him to release him, he suddenly felt another's hand reach down and pry the scrawny fingers off and replace his own within them. As the nurse quietly moved the gurney along, Riker walked along with it, his eyes finding Picard's as he followed on into the dorm. It was then that Picard understood; The Lanaarian was about to die and needed to comfort of someone as he took his last breath.

For a moment Picard felt disgusted with himself until Data's voice broke through his morose thoughts, "Sir, we have approximately 22 minutes, 15 seconds until the aliens reach camp. I suggest we begin to position the away team for the maximum effect that is required to safeguard the dormitories and fend off the attackers."

Twenty two minutes until showdown. 'Not long,' Picard mused as he struggled to bring himself back to the present and away from the pull of the desperate Lanaarian's plight. "Yes, yes, Mr. Data, quite right. Assemble your team and take up positions. But remember, Mr. Data, I want a hostage. I want to know why they've done this to these poor souls."

Data blinked his acknowledgement, his answer true and clear, "Aye, sir." before moving off, the rest of the away team ready to take his orders and prepare for battle.


"Lieutenant Worf to the away team. Enemy closing and estimated arrival within the next few minutes. Group have separated and are preparing to circle medical facility. Do you copy, away team?"

Picard tapped his com badge and spoke to thin air as he approached Doctor Crusher, noticing how utterly exhausted she looked, but despite that, she still looked gorgeous. Picard was stunned with the intimate thought but then dimly realised that that was indeed how he felt about her. In the middle of chaos, she was always there, like an angel rising from the dust. Her halo of copper hair glowing like a beacon; like a safe haven for those all around her. He supposed it was because of her chosen career. In amidst the chaos was her steadying force; Her ability to heal; Her ability to calm the soul. And that's just what she did to him; She calmed his soul and he really didn't know what or how he would ever do without her.

"We read you loud and clear, lieutenant. Are the other away teams in position?"

"Aye, sir,"

"Very good, lieutenant. Be informed that we endeavour to capture a hostage so be ready to beam him straight to a holding cell on my orders. Picard out"

"Aye, sir."

And then all hell broke loose.

  Book index   Previous chapter   Next chapter