By Carol Sandford


Chapter 33


*What do I say to them. What do I say to my captain? How can I tell them that I failed? That I destroyed my future without batting an eyelid. I blew them all to hell and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.*

Worf's still slightly distorted gaze slowly went from one comrade to another as they gathered around his bed. Beverly had done her best with his battered body. His mind, though, that would take a little more that her expertise.

His eyes lingered on the counselor's for a little longer than the others. She would help him, he knew. In some of his darkest hours, Deanna had always seen him through with little more than a comforting touch and a heart-warming smile. Most of the time those had been enough, but just occasionally, he'd needed more and she had given it to him without hesitation.

As though she was reading his mind Deanna moved forward and found his fingers, her eyes and thoughts sending him the comfort that his tumbling mind needed.

"Are you ready to tell us what happened, Mr Worf?"

With reluctance, Worf pulled his eyes and mind back to his captain who hovered at the head of his bed. Taking a deep swallow he straightened his shoulders, ready to face whatever the outcome of his statement had in store for him. In truth, Worf wasn't sure if his actions on board the alien ship were for his own gratitude or were for the good of the cause. A little of both, he guessed.

Could he have done anything any differently - any better? No, he surmised. He'd had no choice in the end. it hadn't taken them long to rumble him and none of them were in any mood to compromise or take prisoners. They would have killed him without hesitation. No, he'd done the only thing that he could.

"Aye, captain. The portal took me on board the ship, but it was not as we thought. The situation on board reminded me of a Borg cube. Everyone on board was just a drone being led by a higher force."

"This...force, it was not aboard that ship?"

"No, sir, it was not."

"Then where?"

Worf grimaced, beginning feeling as though he was being backed into a corner - a familiar sensation that he had endured aboard the alien ship. "I have no idea, captain. I'm sorry, I couldn't find out anything more. My position had been compromised so I had to move quickly to achieve my goal."

"Your initial goal was to find some answers, Mr. Worf." Picard reminded him.

"Sir, I felt that my goal was to stop the slaughter of the Lanaarians. Another few more minutes and I would have achieved nothing as I would have been dead."

"So you saw nothing of who was leading this creatures?"

An image flitted through Worf's mind. An image of a proud Klingon warrior who'd made Worf's blood run cold at just the mere sight of him. To have his most dreaded fear proven; that his own race had evolved to include genocide had made Worf sick to his stomach. To know that he hadn't been able to kill the man himself still hurt Worf more than he'd ever know.

But to tell his captain - his comrades that it was a Klingon that had instigated the mass slaughter of the Lanaarians was incomprehensible. He couldn't do it.

"No, sir, I did not."

There was a lengthy silence as the senior crew digested his news. The Troi woman had told them that she has seen a Klingon when she had grilled the alien and it seemed likely that it had been so. Either way, whether it had been a Klingon or not, the Lanaarians future was safe. Now knowing that there was a likely possibility of it happening again at some point in the future, Starfleet would be aware of it.

Seemingly satisfied that Worf was not going to give him anymore information, Captain Picard decided to leave him be. "Thank you, Mr. Worf, I will see that you are commended for your part in the downfall of the Lanaarians tormentors. Get some rest and I'll expect a full report on my desk when you feel you are ready."

Worf's shoulders slumped with relief and fatigue as he watched his fellow crew leave him to rest. He'd gotten off lightly, he knew, but then he also knew that they'd never learn the full horrors that occurred on the alien ship and as he closed his eyes he saw himself back on board placing one booted foot into the portal as the explosion began several levels behind him. Worf knew that the screams he heard as the massive fireball made it's way through the levels would never leave him for as long as he lived including the one of his own as that same fire tore at his own flesh as he flew through the portal with barely one second to spare with the devil itself following him.

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