By Carol Sandford


Part 3


The Last Teardrops - Chapter 4



"Set a course for Nervala 4" The Captain of the Potemkin looked around at his senior officers one by one, finally settling on Will, "Any questions?"

Will briefly looked around his fellow officers before posing his question. "How long have we got to evacuate the crew, sir?"

The Captain sighed before answering him, "Previous data indicates that the distortion field should be open for approximately 36 minutes."

Will slumped back as he thought of the huge risk, "That's not a lot of time sir."

The Captain nodded silently, finally adding "I know that, lieutenant, we won't have much of a window, but it'll have to be enough to beam out everybody down there. Unfortunately we're going to have to come back another time to retrieve all the data banks. The initial urgency is to get everyone on board first, the data can wait, it isn't going anywhere, and I don't suppose for a minute that any other visitors would be mad enough to attempt to retrieve it, so I think we can safely leave it there for the time being. Now, is there anything else?"

Will looked expectantly around the table once more, and everyone remained quiet. Satisfied that the meeting was over, the captain rose to a stand. "Good, be ready in the transporter room at 0800 hours, dismissed. Lieutenant Riker, can I have a word with you before you go?"

Will nodded and sat back down as the others filed out of the room. As the door hissed shut behind them, his captain turned to him, a look of concern evident on his face, "Are you sure you can handle this, Will? I know this is your first rescue mission."

Will smiled as he confidently reassured him, "Yes, sir, I don't foresee any problems. I know it's going to be tight time wise, but providing no-one panics and runs away to play hide and seek, we should be okay."

The captain smiled at the lieutenant's humorous remark, and coming to a stand again, he briefly touched his shoulder, "Okay, Will, but remember, your safety is paramount too, so no stupid heroics, I want to see this gorgeous woman you keep telling me about.."

Will grinned, "Just remember, she'll be my wife when you do, so keep your hands to yourself.... Sir."

The captain laughed heartily as the two officers moved in unison towards the door to the room, but before the entryway opened, the older man stopped and touched Will's arm once more, proudly passing on his confidence. "I'm counting on you to pull this off. Do this well, and I will see that you're commended, Lieutenant."

Will swelled with pride. Maybe he was going to beat Kirk's record after all...


"COME ON, MOVE IT!!" Lieutenant Riker's voice roared above the clamour and chaos which surrounded his team as he herded the frightened researchers towards the transporter site, desperately resisting the temptation to push them. He was acutely aware that they only had five minutes left to complete the transports and there was still ten people to go, plus himself. He knew it was going to be close, but he was cocksure that he would make it. He would make it because he had purposely reduced the time limit by four minutes to make absolutely certain they would all get off the station before it fell about their ears.

The entire planet was made up from living colonies of volcanoes that stretched from one extreme to the other. Bubbling mountains that rose thousands of feet, down to deep crevasses that were immeasurable. The research station had been built on a shallow plateau that was now being threatened by violent volcanic activity. Huge fissures were constantly ripping apart the fragile mantle surrounding the plateau, and the landing bay had long since disappeared taking the only shuttle with it. The distress beacon emitted two days ago finally reached Starbase 9, sending the USS Starship, the Potemkin, the nearest ship, to it's rescue.

Will watched the last five people de-materialize before him. The floor began to shake beneath his feet, knocking him off balance. Hitting the ground hard on his knees, he tapped his communicator at the same time as he cursed the ship. "Hurry up, damn you, it's not going to hold much longer!" Will silently began praying until seconds later the Potemkin told him they were ready to beam up.

Coming to a stand, Will prepared himself for the beam out. Nothing happened. Will mumbled angrily "Come on, come on, get me out of here!"

Finally he began to feel the familiar sensation of his body de-materializing. He held his breath until he found himself looking into the face of the transport technician. Will plastered a huge confident grin across his face as he stepped off the transporter pad, his glee at the successful mission clearly evident in his smug retort to the relieved man, "Piece of cake." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Back down on the surface, Will stared unbelieving at the smouldering consuls of the research station. They had failed to get him up. He checked his watch: thirty seconds left. Punching his communicator pin a third and fourth time, he found himself shouting, "Riker to Potemkin!"


He tried again, "Riker to Potemkin, urgent beam-up. Come on, you guys, I'm running out of time here. Request priority one beam up, NOW!"

Nothing. The rising panic began to claw at him. Will held his breath, trying to hold on to the last shred of hope, but within a minute, the deafening roar that now resounded and thundered throughout the distant skies told Will that the distortion field had already fixed itself firmly back in place. He was trapped. No one was getting in, and he was not getting out of here now, or for the next 8 years.

Sinking to his knees, Will finally forced himself to look around at his new home. He was stuck, on his own, on a planet that was about to be ripped apart by all of nature's cruellest forces. But there was only one thought which rang through Will's head, resounding in all of the corners of his consciousness, seemingly at once, and it was the worst thought of them all, the absolute worst. He was going to miss his rendezvous with Deanna.

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