By Carol Sandford


Chapter 08


The days settled down pretty quickly for Will and Beverly on the planet surface. The daylight hours were spent studying slide upon slide, taking samples and endlessly mopping the fevered brows of those who were about to take their last few breaths. And then later, the research began on the body when they had painfully and gratefully passed away.

Will watched the woman as she tucked an errant scraggy lock of her now very lack-lustre copper hair. When he had risen from his fitful sleep, he knew that Beverly had been up for hours before him. She was always up by the crack of dawn, desperate to keep on searching for an answer. But most mornings Will found her in the wards, clinging onto another victims hand, willing them to live, grieving for them when they didn't.

The poison did unimaginable damage to the Lanaarian's delicate bodily systems. Inch by inch, the poison worked its way throughout their body, eating and burning - melting as it went. By the time it reached the impossibly thin stomach linings and ate its way through the delicate system, most were dead - if they were lucky. Some had to endure the added agonies as it began to eat through the walls producing some of the worst cysts and tumours Will had ever seen.

Will heard footsteps come up behind him, but he didn't bother to turn as he already knew who it was. "Get her out of here, Will. I'm ordering you both to take a day out and relax. Take a picnic out to the Barack Forest for a few hours. It's not far away; half an hours walk maximum. She needs to step back for a while, Will, so make sure she does. Doctor Crusher is going to be no good to me if she keeps this pace up."

Beverly heard the low mumble of voices as she patiently dabbed the sweat-soaked forehead of the next in line to fall. Beverly had never felt so helpless in her entire life. Day by day and hour by hour, the gentle inevasive people had died before her eyes, and with each one that passed away in her arms, Beverly died a little, too.

Even she knew she was getting severely depressed. Being around so much death she couldn't be anything else but affected. Every slide she slid under the microscope started off as a hope and ended up as hopeless. Beverly struggled against the all consuming emptiness that was invading every pore of her body. All around her was a blackness - a nothingness and it was seeping into her heart, right down her very soul. Beverly felt like she was standing in the bottom of a bottomless pit with no way of getting out.

Beverly Crusher had been so determined and so dedicated to finding a cure when she had first arrived, but within the space of a few short weeks she had hit a brick wall time and time again and the affect was beginning to take its toll.

She barely registered the large hand on her upper arm as it gently but firmly pulled her to a stand. The Lanaarian that she was tending reached out its long fingers and clung to hers as she moved away. Will gently pried them off, sensing Beverly's protest before it even left her lips. He silently shushed her, allowing the nurse that stood discreetly behind him to step around him and take the hand that grasped blindly for the comfort it sought in its last hour, or maybe minutes.

Will guided Beverly away by the shoulders but it wasn't until she was almost out through the door that she let her eyes break away from the bed that she had just left, somehow feeling bereft all of a sudden, like she had left a part of her behind.

It was only then that she finally acknowledged Will sadly. "Why did you do that?"

Taking her hand, Will guided her back to the mess hall stepping around the next batch of nurses heading for the dormitories for the first of the days shifts. "Doctor's orders. Professor Jagla insisted that I take you away from here for a few hours. He's scared you're burning yourself out and I agree with him. Beverly. You need to step away for a while."


"No, buts. We're going to pack up a picnic and head out to the forest. We're going to find a nice picturesque spot and we are going to talk about everything and anything, except the project. Okay, Beverly?"

It was several long moments as the two of them faced each other. Will watched her struggle with her conscience and knew when she had lost the fight when she answered him simply on a sigh, "Okay."

Within fifteen minutes the twosome were heading off with a bag packed full of goodies, a blanket and a spring in their step. As Beverly looked to the distant tree tops and through to the sun blazing in the sky high above, she suddenly beamed with excitement. Will spotted it and grinned back at her both knowing that this had been the best decision anyone had made in a long time.

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