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Old October 22 2010, 11:06 PM   #1
Whoa Nellie
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TNG: Welcome to the Delta Quadrant

Title: Welcome to the Delta Quadrant
Author: Whoa Nellie
Contact: whoa_nellie40@hotmail.com
Series: TNG

Summary: When the expedition is attacked and the Pasteur stolen, Captain Crusher must fight for her ship and crew while Picard and Riker search for their missing people.

Author's notes: This occurs in the Reasons of the Heart timeline which launched an expedition toward the Delta Quadrant in a previous story, History's Legacy. Feel free to archive to any pertinent site. This story was originally posted to ASC on October 22, 2010. This is an edited-down version of the original to correspond with trek BBS rules. If you are 18 or older and would like to read the original version it can be found on the Whoa Nellie website.

As always: Paramount owns all the marbles, we just have a lot more fun playing with them.
Feedback is always appreciated - posted or e-mail.

Whoa Nellie's Romance Star Trek Fan Fiction Stories
http://whoanellie.fortunecity.com

WELCOME TO THE DELTA QUADRANT

"He didn't!"

Vash just nodded her head yes, her mouth too full of Delavian chocolate to answer. She took a sip of root beer and continued. "I don't know what he said to them, but Martin Madden might just be better than vintage William Riker. His exploits are certainly proving to be quite the spectator sport here in our little colony."

It had been an enjoyable chocolate fest in Beverly's ready room. These little get-togethers were becoming quite the gossip-fests in addition to the chocolate. With each of the ladies living on a different ship and both Deanna and Vash working on the Enterprise where most of the social events occurred, they all had interesting tidbits to share. In addition to families and married couples, there were enough single individuals on the expedition to provide an entertaining dating scene on C-deck which Vash was happy to provide a play-by-play on.

Beverly's answer was interrupted by a violent shaking followed by the red alert klaxon. "Stay here," she ordered both women. Heading out to the bridge, she was forced to catch herself against the doorway of her ready room when another jolt shook the ship. "Report."

"We're under attack," her Chief of Security, Lieutenant Mark Randall, the cowboy from Montana reported. He got up from her command chair and moved to resume his post at tactical. "These old boys just popped up out of nowhere and started shooting."

"Shields down to 91%," the ensign manning the tactical station reported as she turned the station back over to Randall.

Beverly scanned the sensor readings. Three ships were engaged in an attack on the expedition. The Titan was trying to position itself at the forefront of the attack. With its heavier armaments, two of the three attacking ships were concentrating their fire on Riker's ship. The third ship had fired at the Pasteur several times but was alternating its fire between the Enterprise and the Pasteur. It was fast and maneuverable, making it difficult for either ship to return fire. "Tactical, watch your line of fire. Helm adjust course by point zero eight six degrees starboard. Try to maneuver us in closer to the Enterprise so that ship can't get between us."

"Aye, captain."

Focused on the battle taking place in front of them, there was barely a second to react when Randall called out a warning. "Fourth ship just appeared directly to aft, firing weapons."

The jolt nearly threw Beverly out of her chair. "Return fire. Helm, evasive maneuvers pattern Epsilon."

Before the conn officer could carry out her instructions, the ship lurched violently and the image on the viewscreen changed. No longer in open space, they appeared to be inside some sort of corridor. The Enterprise, the Titan and the other three attacking ships were nowhere to be seen. Another violent shaking made it clear that their fourth new friend was still with them.

"Shields down to 76%," Randall reported, "structural integrity down to 93%."

The operations officer supplied more status information before she asked. "They've locked onto us with some sort of tractor beam."

"We're being dragged in reverse. Helm controls are unable to compensate," Ensign Chilton reported from the conn as the ship shook under another barrage of weapons fire. "I don't have enough power to break free."

"Reroute emergency power to the helm."

Chilton shook her head. "It's not enough."

Randall slammed his console in frustration and then held on under another volley of alien fire. "I can't get a clean shot at them."

"Photon torpedo," Beverly ordered.

Her command was followed by a buffeting sensation when the photon torpedo detonated. "Nope," Randall reported. "Didn't work, they're too close."

Quickly scanning the status display in front of her, she noted where the alien tractor beam had locked on. "Ops, what's our structural integrity?"

"Down to 85%."

Beverly rapidly formulated a somewhat unorthodox strategy. "Evacuate the area around my yacht. Ops, re-route emergency power to reinforce structural integrity. Tactical, as soon as everyone's clear, erect level 10 forcefields to isolate that shuttle bay from the rest of the ship. Re-route power from anywhere except life support but reinforce that area. Open the shuttle bay doors and activate the self-destruct on my yacht. Helm, when that shuttle blows, it should disengage their tractor beam and you'll have at least a minute to get us out of range before they can re-establish their lock. Make it count."

"Aye Captain."

It felt like it took forever, but in reality bare minutes passed before a massive explosion rocked the Pasteur. The instant that they were free, Beverly felt the thrusters engage at full power and the Pasteur shot forward. Coming up quickly in the corridor that they'd been dragged into was a fork. "Helm, veer left ahead. Can anybody tell me where we are?"

Ops provided what little information they had. "According to readings, we appear to be in some sort of sub-space corridor."

Randall spoke up from his station. "Structural integrity down to 80%, we've got multiple hull breaches, weapons and communications are offline and shields down to 48%. On the upside, them alien fellows skedaddled, looks like they left the tunnel."

"I'd like to get out of here myself," Beverly commented with a small sigh of relief that the battle was over for the moment. "Any suggestions?"

.................................................. .......

Onboard the Enterprise, Picard surveyed his bridge crew, all of them still working calmly yet rapidly at their various duty stations. The attack ended as abruptly as it had begun. The alien ships had appeared seemingly out of nowhere, started firing without warning and then just disappeared. The randomness of the encounter was perplexing. "Stand down red alert, Mr. Lar. Status, Number One?"

"Minor damages," Data reported. "Repair crews have been dispatched. Sickbay is reporting ten injured, none serious."

The view on the main viewscreen was displaying only empty space. "Mr. Lar, what's the status on the Titan and Pasteur?"

"The Titan suffered more damage, several hull breaches but they appear to be in non-critical locations. The Pasteur is gone."

The word 'gone' echoed through his mind accompanied by the image of the Enterprise E exploding right before his eyes. For a gut-wrenching moment when his ship was destroyed, he'd thought Vash was still on her; this time he knew Vash was on the Pasteur. He hadn't felt any alarm initially because this attack had been so brief and relatively ineffectual. He tried to recall an explosion during the recent skirmish of sufficient magnitude to account for the loss of an entire ship. "Explain."

Data provided the answer. "During the altercation with the alien vessels, Captain Crusher's ship disappeared from sensors. Long range scans have failed to locate the Pasteur in this system."

Chief of Security and Betazoid, Lieutenant Commander Lar addressed his captain's unspoken fear. "There was no explosion, sir. The Pasteur simply vanished."

The ensign manning Ops interrupted. "I have an incoming transmission from the Titan."

"Onscreen," Picard ordered. He stood and tugged on his uniform jacket trying to contain a growing sense of fear.

Riker didn't waste any time with preamble. "Does Data have any theories about what just happened to the Pasteur? Our sensors didn't register any temporal displacement or chroniton particles similar to that incident with the Enterprise C, but we took some damage. Did the Enterprise sensors pick up anything?"

"We're just beginning an analysis," Picard said. "We don't have any working theories yet."

Riker stroked his beard and tugged on his uniform sleeve. "The computer didn't recognize the ship configuration. We should compare notes, see what the sensor readings can tell us about our friends and what might have happened to the Pasteur and her crew."

Picard nodded, starting to head for his conference room only to realize that this was Will's department. "Mr. Data and I will transport over directly. I'll bring Commander Chakotay as well, he may recognize something about the ships or tactics."

"Captain Picard," Riker stopped the communication from being terminated. "You might want to include Deanna in case she picked up on something from our attackers that might help explain all of this."

Picard stopped short and turned back toward the viewscreen realizing that Will didn't know. "Can you feel her?"

On the screen, Riker closed his eyes, concentrating. "Barely, was she hurt?"

The fact that he could still sense his Imzadi through their bond was a small comfort; the trio was alive wherever they were. "Deanna and Vash were both visiting Beverly onboard the Pasteur when the attack began."

End Part 1
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Old October 22 2010, 11:07 PM   #2
Whoa Nellie
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Re: TNG: Welcome to the Delta Quadrant

Part 2

The Pasteur had found an exit from the sub-space corridors, reappearing in normal space some 600 light years from where they'd been dragged into it. With virtually every major system damaged including communications, they were in no condition for another round with the attacking aliens. Fortunately there was a protostellar nebula close enough to where they'd emerged from the conduit to enter it on impulse power. It wasn't a perfect hiding spot, but it was the best available. Safely hidden for the time being, Beverly focused on their immediate needs. "Stand down from red alert, Mr. Randall; hold us at yellow alert. Let's get repair teams started on sealing those hull breaches and focus on getting primary systems back online. Where's Mr. Kole?" She realized for the first time that her Executive Officer was absent from the bridge.

"He turned the bridge over to me about twenty minutes before the attack to do some work in his office," Randall advised her.

"Crusher to Kole, report." When the internal communications system remained silent, she looked to Randall.

"Internal sensors are offline," he told her. "That area took heavy damage. I'll send a security team to check it out."

This wasn't the first time she'd been in command during a crisis situation, but it felt like a trial by fire nonetheless. There would be no turning the mess over to Jean-Luc or Will. She was the captain and this ship along with everyone on it were her responsibility. The protostellar nebula was safe enough for now although they couldn't safely remain inside it for more than 72 hours. It would at least give them some breathing room to assess the situation and effect some repairs. With most of the major systems damaged or offline, they couldn't risk trying to signal the rest of the expedition. Even a sub-space probe might betray their position and those 600 light years would take even the Titan too long to traverse to get to them in time to be of any help if those aliens found them first. The display panel in the arm of her command chair alerted her to an incoming call from Medical. "Yes, Doctor?" Beverly responded.

Bashir's voice could barely be heard above the chaos going on around him. "We've got reports of mass casualties on multiple decks. Triage and trauma teams are working; what's the situation on the other ships?"

"Unknown, Doctor. We've been separated from the expedition; we're on our own for the time being. Any fatalities?" She didn't want to ask but she needed a status report from every department.

"One so far with a lot of critically wounded," he said.

The door to her ready room slid open and Deanna walked onto the Bridge. Beverly was almost amused to see Vash, still inside her ready room as instructed, peeking out the door. For all of her 'I don't take orders' bravado, Vash had spent enough time onboard the Enterprise to know to stay out of the way during emergencies. Beverly motioned for Vash to come out. "We'll get teams to start searching in the most severely damaged areas. With internal sensors offline it's going to take a while to account for everyone. Keep me informed, Doctor Bashir."

Deanna noted the view on the main screen. "What's happened?"

"The expedition came under attack," Beverly told them. "We've been separated from the other two ships. We're safe for the time being so, Vash, I want you to go to my quarters and make yourself comfortable. I'll get you back to Jean-Luc as soon as I can. Deanna, you might as well check in with Ezri. I'll need the Counseling Office to coordinate between the search teams and Medical."

.................................................. ........................

The mood in the conference room aboard the Titan was somber, the tension almost palpable. Riker had his First Officer, Commander Madden, overseeing repairs in anticipation of another round with their mystery attackers. With every available pair of hands working double time on the repairs, it was just him meeting with Picard and Chakotay. Data had excused himself to respond to a communication from the Enterprise just after they'd beamed over. Riker got right to business. "Our sensors couldn't penetrate the alien's shields so we didn't get any information on the aliens who attacked us."

Picard nodded tersely. "Same with our readings."

Chakotay was still reviewing the sensor readings of the attack, his mind reeling from the news that his wife and her ship had disappeared. "There's nothing familiar about these power readings, but we're still thousands of light years from where Voyager traveled. We never met any of the cultures in this region."

Data entered the room at a brisk pace. "My apologies, Lieutenant Commander Lar was updating me on his analysis of the sensor readings. A fourth alien vessel appeared on sensors for 23 seconds during the attack positioned just behind the Pasteur. The ship locked on to the Pasteur with some sort of beam just before both ships disappeared from sensors. I have instructed Lieutenant Commander LaForge to analyze the energy signature of the beam to determine its function."

Riker swiveled to look out of the windows at the starry expanse. "The attack was a diversion. They waited until we were engaged with the three attacking vessels and then took what they were after all along."

"But why the Pasteur?" Chakotay asked. "I can understand the Enterprise being a bit too big for a theft of that nature, they couldn't generate a tractor beam powerful enough to grab her. Why not try to grab the Titan?"

"They could put up too much of a fight," Picard theorized. "The Pasteur's weapons are minimal, it's not designed for fighting."

Riker tugged on his uniform sleeve, a disgusted expression on his face. "That's my job."

"Continue with your report, Mr. Data," Picard didn't want any of them getting distracted with self-recriminations. Hindsight wouldn't help their missing people.

Data pulled up the sensor readings from the recent battle on the viewscreen in the room. "Yes, sir. No warp signatures were recorded within 50 light years of our position prior to the appearance of the attacking vessels. If the ships were employing a cloaking mechanism, it is unlike any that the Federation has previously encountered. There were no elevated tachyon particles detected when--"

"Underspace!" Chakotay exclaimed.

"Commander?" both Picard and Riker addressed him simultaneously.

Chakotay located the portion of the sensor readings that had caught his eye and froze the relevant image on the viewscreen. "The sub-space corridors that Voyager encountered. I didn't realize that they extended so far, Gedrin only offered an additional 1000 light years from the old Vaadwaur homeworld . . . of the corridors that they'd mapped out to that point," realization dawned.

"Vaadwaur?" Picard asked.

"Ancient race," Chakotay gave a brief explanation. As he spoke he was accessing Voyager's logs. "A millenia ago they used the sub-space corridors to conquer systems throughout the Delta Quadrant spanning all the way to Talaxia. They spent about 900 years in stasis before Seven of Nine re-animated one of them. Voyager tried to help them rebuild their civilization until they turned on us so we re-introduced them to the Turei who, along with some others, had some old grudges to settle. We left them to sort it all out for themselves and Captain Janeway elected to keep Voyager in open space to steer clear of the hostilities. Gedrin, the Vaadwaur we dealt with, said that the corridors were naturally occurring so in theory they could exist throughout all four quadrants. He did say that they were unstable and required maintenance; the Vaadwaur spent centuries mapping out the corridors and maintaining them. Here are the corridors that we mapped while we were inside one and several others that we tracked Vaadwaur ships through."

Riker was trying to get a handle on their unknown enemy. "Could we be dealing with these Vaadwaur here?"

"These aren't Vaadwaur ships," Chakotay said. "But fifty-three Vaadwaur ships did escape the Turei in that encounter. Their ships were 900 years old so it's possible they upgraded their technology since our last run-in with them. We're pretty far away from their old homeworld here, though."

Picard studied the information on the sub-space corridors. Who didn't matter as much as where they might have taken the Pasteur and from what Chakotay had just said, that could be anywhere in the Delta Quadrant. "How did Voyager get into the corridor?"

"Our warp field intersected a weakened wall of the corridor and it pulled us in. Inside the corridor, was when we first met the Turei. Once Captain Janeway explained our situation, they hit our shields with a resonance pulse which altered our shield harmonics. We just popped back out about 200 light years from where we were."

"Is there anything that might give us a place to start looking?" Picard asked.

Chakotay thought for a moment. "There were a number of races besides the Vaadwaur and Turei who used the corridors to travel between systems. If they rely on this Underspace for long-range travel, then they probably didn't invest too much in warp-technology. I can have my department review the long-range scans for densely populated areas showing evidence of being technologically advanced but without apparent warp capability. Even if they're not responsible for this, they may know of other races who use the corridors in this region."

Riker sighed. "It's something at least. The best we've got at the moment at any rate."

Picard addressed Data. "Using Voyager's logs, can you find these corridors?"

Data considered it. "I believe so. I will need to work with Mr. LaForge to find a means of entering and exiting the sub-space corridors once they have been located."

"Make it so," Picard ordered. "Use whatever resources you need. Commander Chakotay, determine the most likely system to start with and forward that information to the helm."

"No," Riker interjected. "Send that information to me."

Picard placed his hands on the table. He was still the senior captain and in command of the expedition. Military operation or not, he had to do something. "Will."

"I understand that you want to find Vash," Riker said. "Deanna's missing too, but this is a military matter. It was my job to protect them and now it's my job to get them back. I need the Enterprise to hold position here. Beverly will get a signal out as soon as she can and there's no way to know if we'd be able to detect it inside the corridor. I'll leave the Alpha section under Madden to protect the Enterprise in case they come back and I'll take the Beta section into the corridor to search for the Pasteur once Data finds me a door."

The Titan was a ship whose sole purpose was battle, a descendent of the prototype USS Prometheus. It combined the saucer separation capability of many larger ships with the multi-vector assault feature developed by Starfleet in the 2370s. The Titan separated out into two warp capable battle ships. The Alpha section was the primary hull, the traditional saucer section. It carried the heaviest armaments of the two halves and was somewhat less maneuverable in close quarters combat. The Beta section was the secondary hull or star drive section. It was fast and maneuverable in close combat and even though the weapons system wasn't as powerful as the Alpha section, it was still more heavily armed than most Federation star ships. The Beta section could separate and be remotely piloted from a workstation on the Alpha section or, as in the current situation, become one of two fully-functional, manned battle ships.

Picard hated it, but Riker was right. The sheer size of the Enterprise might pose difficulties inside the sub-space corridors and running around chasing 'untamed ornithoids' as Data would say, wouldn’t accomplish anything. Beverly was a good captain, she had handled herself in many crisis situations prior to this. The Pasteur and everyone onboard were in very capable hands. He just had to trust in that. “Agreed. You might want to take Commander Chakotay with you. He has experience with these corridors that may prove useful.”

“Agreed,” Riker concurred.

.................................................. ........................

Beverly recycled the chocolate from the interrupted chocolate fest. She paused for a moment and, hearing Chakotay in the back of her mind ask her if she'd eaten anything, ordered up a sandwich to eat while she reviewed status reports on the damage. Two dead so far and they still hadn't been able to account for everyone. Repair crews needed to concentrate on weapons and propulsion, internal sensors were further down on the to-do list at this point. The counseling department had a list of personnel by department and was working to account for the ship's entire complement by hand; her First Officer was still among the missing. Search teams reported the names of anyone they located to Ezri and transported the injured to the nearest medical bay. The good thing about being a hospital ship was the number of medical experts and medical facilities throughout the ship, they might have already lost several more people if not for all of the medical technology and expertise on the ship. She'd lost patients, any doctor who practiced long enough experienced that loss, it was part of being a doctor. Losing crew members as a captain was different, it felt like losing a part of yourself. When this was over, she would have to compose the messages like the one she had received when Jack was killed. For the first time in her life she truly realized just how hard it had been for Jean-Luc to bring Jack's body back in person and face her. She idly toyed with her wedding ring. She knew that Chakotay would be worried and yet she was glad that he'd been on the Enterprise when the attack came. The Enterprise hadn't sustained much damage, at least not at the point where the Pasteur been dragged into that corridor, and the Titan had been holding its own against the attackers pretty well. Chakotay was safe. With the Enterprise on her mind she activated the comm system and sent a message to her quarters. "Computer, analyze sensor readings from attack and cross-reference with Voyager's logs. Do the ships match any race that Voyager encountered?"

'Negative.'

She tried another tack. "Did we get sensor readings of the aliens on the ships?"

'Affirmative, sensor readings match species identified as Vaadwaur.'

"Computer, display log entries with any reference to Vaadwaur; include Commander Chakotay's personal logs in search." Beverly began reviewing the logs of Voyager's experiences with the Vaadwaur for anything that might help her handle them just in case they were forced to go another round. Several minutes later, she realized that she hadn't yet received a response to her earlier message. She tried again and still no response. Starting to check for Vash's location on the computer, she swore to herself when she recalled that internal sensors weren't functioning. "Crusher to Troi."

'Troi here.'

"Deanna, I can't get any response from Vash," Beverly said. "I just tried to check on her and there's no answer on her commbadge or in my quarters."

'She got off the turbolift on your deck,' Deanna confirmed. 'I'll head that way and check in on her.'

.................................................. .....................

Chakotay watched the Alpha section of the Titan pull away excruciatingly slowly. The hours that had passed since the attack had been agonizing but necessary and productive. Repairs on the Titan had been completed in record time, both battle bridges were ready for action. Data and Geordi had found a way to locate the sub-space corridors and the frequency modulations that would alter shield harmonics to recreate Voyager’s entry and exit from Underspace. They had successfully sent a probe into the corridor and retrieved it several times. Communications from inside the corridor was a bit trickier. Madden had solved that issue, suggesting that they use the probe that had been used to test the access to the corridors. By leaving the probe just inside the corridor, the Enterprise could maintain a lock on the probe with a coherent tetryon beam from outside the corridor. The probe would then be in position to serve as a relay station for messages to and from the Titan-beta. At long last, they were ready to launch the search.

Riker looked back to where Chakotay was standing, stoically observing the scene on the main viewscreen. “You lived like this day after day for seven years; a single ship all on your own?”

“Welcome to the Delta Quadrant.”

End Part 2
__________________
Recipient of the 2006 Alara Rogers ASC Award for Best Author Overall.
"I personally like to think Picard and Vash had a very active sex life. I can't believe Picard just read Shakespeare up there in his room all those years." Patrick Stewart.
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Old October 22 2010, 11:07 PM   #3
Whoa Nellie
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Re: TNG: Welcome to the Delta Quadrant

Part 3

Ezri closed the comm channel and removed two more names from the list of missing personnel. They'd been lucky so far, only two fatalities amid all of the chaos. Compared to battles she'd been in as both Jadzia and herself in the Dominion War, this was a minor skirmish. Not everyone on the ship had her life experiences to compare this to however, so the counseling department was going to be very busy for the foreseeable future as people came to the full realization of what they'd signed on for with this expedition. She shared the names of the two people just accounted for with Deanna as they left the turbolift on the deck where Captain Crusher's living quarters were. "Do you think Mrs. Picard would go wandering around the ship at a time like this?"

"No," Deanna said. "Vash is spirited but she's also intelligent and not inclined to be rash--at least not during emergency situations."

"Does Captain Crusher think something's wrong?"

Deanna just shrugged. "It's not like Vash to not answer a call. I don't recall her falling or hitting her head in the initial attack, but Captain Crusher and Captain Picard have been close friends for a very long time. She knows how much Vash means to Captain Picard; she just wants to be sure everything's all right."

Ezri sighed. "I can understand that. Of course she probably just fell asleep and didn't hear the call."

Deanna started to agree but suddenly picked up a strange sensation. This section of living quarters were all Starfleet crew and every crew member was working overtime on either search teams or repair crews. It should be deserted and yet she was picking up distinct feelings that said it wasn't. She held her finger up to her lips in a silent gesture to Ezri to be quiet and listened, trying to focus in on what she was sensing. The two women reached an intersection of two corridors and Deanna cautiously looked first in one direction then started to look in the other only to be shoved hard from behind. She went sprawling forward onto the floor with sounds of fighting behind her. By the time she rolled to look back, Ezri was letting loose with a Klingon battle cry as she slammed an alien intruder face-first into the bulkhead. She barely had time to get to her feet before Dax was handily disarming the intruder and only slightly out of breath.

"There are some benefits to two of my former hosts being tight with Klingons," Ezri commented in way of an explanation. "I'm sorry I had to push you out of the way like that; I hope I didn't hurt you."

"I'm fine," Deanna assured her. She gave a quick tap to her communicator. "Riker to Crusher, intruder alert. Dax and I were just attacked on Deck Six; Dax has him secured."

'Understood,' came Beverly's terse response. 'What about Vash?'

"Dax and I were on our way to your quarters when we were jumped," Deanna replied.

'In my quarters there's a hand phaser in the bedside table. Have Lieutenant Dax hold the intruder until a security team arrives and let me know as soon as you've located Vash.'

"Will do," Deanna said, ending the communication. She looked down at the intruder still sprawled on the floor. "Is he unconscious?"

Ezri nudged him with her foot. "Yep, out cold."

Deanna was still picking up high levels of anxiety in the area. She moved several steps in different directions trying to locate the source. A bulkhead a short distance up one corridor was where the feelings were strongest. Motioning to Ezri, she caught the weapon that Ezri tossed her and took a second to familiarize herself with the alien device. With Dax watching the intruder they'd already met, Deanna pointed the weapon at the access panel to the Jeffries tube that ran through that bulkhead and with her other hand she depressed the controls to open the panel cover. It no sooner popped open than she lowered the weapon and handed it back to Dax. Inside the Jeffries tube was Vash, gagged and bound. The sense of relief that flooded through her was as much Vash's reaction to seeing her as it was her reaction to finding her friend alive and well. She reached in to help Vash scoot to the edge of the Jeffries tube and started untying the bonds holding her hands first.

Vash gratefully removed the nasty-tasting gag from her mouth the second that Deanna freed her hands. "I am so glad to see you," she said to both of them. She flexed her legs as soon as Deanna had them unbound but remained sitting. Several deep breaths later, she squared her shoulders. "Listen, could you both do me a little favor? Jean-Luc doesn't really need to know that I couldn't get myself out of there. I'd never hear the end of it."

Ezri wasn't fooled by the attempt to be flippant. Vash's pale complexion and the shaking of her hands made it obvious that she was shaken by this whole ordeal and struggling to appear and sound calm. "It's not that you couldn't have gotten yourself out of there, you just hadn't gotten around to it yet."

"I like how you think," Vash said with a feeble grin. "How do you feel about chocolate?"

.................................................. .........

On the Bridge, Beverly had been sharing the information on the Vaadwaur that she'd pulled from the computer with Randall. When Deanna's call came in, he pulled up sensor readings of their encounter with the alien ships to see if there was something he'd missed. "Should we go to red alert?"

Rapidly reviewing her options, Beverly shook her head. "No, they've been trying to avoid detection which means they don't want us to know they're here. Let's not let them know that we know just yet. Monitor for transmissions to or from the ship in case they try to call for reinforcements and modulate our shield frequencies to prevent any more from joining the party, just in case. Get Engineering to work on those internal sensors, I need them back online."

"Respectfully, ma'am, what if there's a cloaked ship in the neighborhood?"

"They'd have already taken this ship," she pointed out. "We weren't much of a challenge when we limped in here. No, it's more likely our intruders were beamed over in that subspace corridor during our fight to break free of that tractor beam. Pull people off of search or repair teams but I need Engineering and the Bridge secured. I'd also like someone armed and stationed at each of the medical facilities. Have them report to Dr. Bashir and fill him in on the situation, I don't want to start a panic among the civilians. Now, I need two of your security officers to come with me."

Randall watched her retrieve a phaser from the weapons locker on the Bridge. "Captain?"

"This is my ship."

Randall grabbed a phaser for himself. "Yes ma'am, but you really should stay here on the Bridge. I'll--"

"Take a couple of security officers and lead another search team," she ordered. "Ensign Chilton can secure the Bridge and handle things here. I'll start on Deck Two, you take Deck Three and we'll leapfrog down securing as we go."

"I'll have a couple of teams start at the bottom and work their way up," Randall said, capitulating to his captain's orders.

Just when she had started to feel like a captain, she was losing her people and someone was trying to take her ship away from her. In the back of her mind was a very rational voice telling her that she was supposed to be scared. That voice was being drowned out by the very angry and determined part of her that wanted those Vaadwaur off her ship by whatever means necessary. Her people, her ship, her responsibility; she hadn't even given more than a passing thought to the logistical issues going on in Medical, which was where she'd normally have been in a situation like this. Julian could handle that. Her entire focus throughout and more so now was taking care of the business at hand. "Let's go."

.................................................. .............

On the Enterprise, Picard stood at the window in his ready room staring out into space. Will and Chakotay were out searching for the Pasteur. Both the Titan-alpha and the Enterprise were at yellow alert as a precaution against another surprise attack. Dealing with cloaked ships in Federation space was one thing, at least territories were somewhat defined. Ships that could just appear with no warning in space where they didn't know the players was a different matter entirely. He had a whole new appreciation for Kathryn Janeway and what the Voyager crew accomplished in just surviving on their own in this cosmic wilderness. It seemed there was still truth in the old adage about walking in someone else's shoes. The door chime interrupted his thoughts. "Come."

Data entered the room, taking barely a second to register his captain's location at the window and adjusting his direction accordingly. "Captain, I have received a request from Astrometrics for access to the probe within the sub-space corridor. They wish to utilize the sensor array on the probe to study this phenomenon."

"Do they understand the situation?" Picard snapped. People--Vash was missing and that probe was essential. If Beverly did somehow get a signal out, the Titan-beta would need to reach her as quickly as possible.

Data took his outburst in stride. "Do you wish me to decline their request?"

Picard gritted his teeth and took a deep breath, exhaling slowly. "No. Authorize limited access, passive scanning. Just see that their research doesn't interfere with our ability to communicate with Captain Riker in an emergency. Promise them more access and opportunity to study the corridors once this situation has been resolved."

"Yes, sir."

"Mr. Data," Picard stopped him before he reached the door. "Since they're going to be studying this, have them work on options for scanning the corridors; see if there's a way to monitor traffic inside the corridors from normal space."

.................................................. .............


Inside the corridor on the bridge of the Titan-beta, Riker had a decision to make. "Ops, scan both directions. Is there anything showing up in either direction to give us a starting point?"

The lieutenant manning the Ops station worked silently for a moment. "I've got a debris field."

"The corridor that Voyager was pulled into was cluttered with debris," Chakotay noted.

"This corridor is virtually free of debris," the lieutenant reported. "This is the only debris I'm picking up and a lot of it matches the composition of Federation ships."

Riker stiffened in his chair. He could still feel Deanna, he knew she wasn't dead but that information was chilling nonetheless. "How much debris?"

Chakotay had been reviewing the sensor readings for himself at an auxiliary workstation. "Not enough to account for the Pasteur."

The ensign at tactical provided her analysis. "There is also debris of unknown origin. Energy signatures suggest a battle."

"Helm, set course in the direction of the debris field," Riker ordered.

"Captain," the ensign at tactical interjected to finish her report. "The alien debris is on the far side of the field. The debris from the Pasteur is closer to us. It seems more likely that Captain Crusher would have retreated away from the battle."

Chakotay recalled the sensor readings showing how the alien vessel disappeared with Beverly's ship. "The Pasteur was tractored into the corridor in reverse."

"As soon as she broke free, she would have engaged impulse engines forward," Riker picked up the line of reasoning. Every single crew member on the Titan from Commander Madden down to the lowest crewman had completed Starfleet's Advanced Tactical training before the launch if they hadn't already taken the course. To a person, his crew was the best and brightest military force anywhere. "Good catch, ensign. Helm, set course away from the debris field."

End Part 3
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Old October 22 2010, 11:08 PM   #4
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Re: TNG: Welcome to the Delta Quadrant

Part 4

Bashir took a break from patients to review status reports from the auxiliary medical bays. The Pasteur had been designed as a hospital ship and subsequently retro-fitted for the expedition, converting some of the hospital areas into bio-medical research facilities. He was in the primary Medical bay, but there were smaller, auxiliary sickbay-type facilities on several other decks along with surgical bays. To an outsider, the view in front of him at the moment and the scenes playing out in the other medical bays would look like chaos. What he saw was a well-oiled machine. Seventy-five percent of the people living and working on the Pasteur were experts in biological or medical sciences. They may not know much, if anything, about space battles or warp field theory, but in a medical emergency everyone knew what needed to be done. It was hard to believe that at one time he'd craved this kind of excitement. That youthful enthusiasm for frontier medicine felt like a lifetime ago. He forwarded the updated list of patients and their status to Ezri. Just then, two crew members entered the medical bay carrying a body. From the way they looked at him, he knew he had another fatality.

"It's Commander Kole," one of the crewmen told him. The two set the body down and trudged wearily out.

Julian motioned for a blanket to cover the body with. Verifying that the first officer was DOA for his log, he noticed something unexpected. He stepped into his office and closed the door. "Bashir to Captain Crusher."

'Yes, Doctor?'

"Captain, they found Commander Kole; he's dead. He does have some injuries consistent with the recent battle, but there's something else. I noted defensive wounds, as if he'd been in a fight. I'll need to do a full autopsy to be sure, but the preliminary cause of death appears to be from an energy weapon discharge. The wound looks too focused to be from ruptured conduits or an explosion."

'Are you alone, Doctor?'

Julian nodded in spite of the fact that he was talking to thin air. "Yes, Captain, I'm in my office."

'We just got a report of an intruder on Deck Six,' Beverly informed him. 'We're spread thin with repairs, but I've had some crew members reassigned to secure the medical facilities while we do a deck by deck search for more intruders. They're already on their way to report to you.'

He retrieved a phaser from his desk drawer. "Understood, Bashir out."

.................................................. ...........

Beverly closed the communication, her hand lingering over her heavy heart after she tapped the commbadge. Her First Officer was dead, the third confirmed fatality of this situation. From what Bashir said, he'd died trying to defend this ship. She recalled the first time she'd met him. Meeting with officer candidates to finalize her crew selection, Commander Kole didn't immediately impress her. He had a very unassuming air about him when he walked into the room. Then he had introduced himself. 'I'm Commander Cole Kole,' he'd said, 'yes, I am a walking, talking homophone.' It was that dry sense of humor that had cemented him as her top selection for the executive officer position. His laid-back demeanor would fit well with the various civilian academics onboard and his Starfleet record showed a man more than capable of handling a crisis.

Shaking off her reverie, she exited the room and sealed it as she nodded to the two security officers accompanying her. The rooms along this corridor clear, they moved further up. Kole's death made her feel certain that there were more intruders onboard. She couldn't imagine him being unable to handle a single intruder without even being able to get out a warning call. It just didn't fit with what she knew of him. A little more cautiously, she entered the next room on the deck with her phaser ready and continued her search.

.................................................. ................

"I've got an intersection ahead, sir," the helmsman reported to Captain Riker.

"Ops, anything?" Riker asked.

"No, sir."

Chakotay offered his opinion. "Left."

Riker turned around in his chair. "Any particular reason?"

He gave a tight, wistful smile. "Beverly tends left. When we're walking, I have to stay to her right or else she runs into me or steps on my foot. If she's presented with an option, both routes otherwise equal, she'll opt left."

"Left it is," Riker decided, nodding to the helmsman. Chakotay didn't just know the corridors, he knew Beverly better than anyone.

Tactical called out a warning. "We've got company. Same configuration as attacking vessels."

"On screen," Riker ordered. The vessel had almost literally dropped into the corridor on top of them."

"They're hailing," Ops said. At a nod from Riker, he put the transmission on the main viewscreen.

Riker stood, tugging on his uniform sleeve as the viewscreen filled with the alien's visage. Before he could offer a greeting, his tactical officer spoke up.

"Audio muted."

Riker looked back over his shoulder to see his tactical officer gesturing to Chakotay who had moved back into an obscured area of the battle bridge to avoid being visible to the aliens.

"Vaadwaur," Chakotay said. "His name is Morin; don't trust him."

Riker nodded to his tactical officer and turned back around to face the viewscreen. "Hello, I hope we're not trespassing here. It's completely unintentional, I assure you. We found these tunnels by accident and couldn't resist doing a little exploring. I'm Riker of the Titan."

"Greetings Riker. I'm known as Morin of the Vaadwaur," the greeting was given in a friendly and chipper tone. "This Underspace is ours, but we're not unreasonable about passage through it. You should be careful, though. Some of the corridors are unstable and it's easy to get lost. I would hate for anything unfortunate to happen."

Riker wanted to avoid giving Morin any more information than absolutely necessary. Chakotay had avoided letting the Vaadwaur see him in case they remembered him from Voyager's encounter. It made sense to avoid any reference to the Federation or Alpha Quadrant to prevent Morin from making that connection any other way. If they had the Pasteur, alienating them wouldn't help. Given the analysis that said they were the ones who took the Pasteur, asking them for help locating the ship would be just as useless. Hopefully their presence meant that Beverly had been able to break free and fight her way out. "I appreciate your concern, we'll certainly be careful."

"I've not seen your kind before," Morin said. "Are you from around here?"

The question was posed casually, but Riker had played enough poker to read the bluff. The Vaadwaur was fishing. "No, we're explorers. We just travel around seeing what there is to see. Our home is wherever we happen to be at the time. If there's anything you can share about this system, we'd appreciate it. We wouldn't want to accidentally step on any toes."

"No worry about that," Morin assured him. "This is a pretty quiet system. The people around here are fairly docile; with the weapons on your ship, you shouldn't have any trouble."

Riker gave an exaggerated laugh. "Yes, the weapons are a bit much but as I said, we explore a lot and sometimes the races we meet aren't nearly as friendly as you are. Is your home near here?"

"No, not really. These corridors span a large distance. I'm just patrolling this area for problems. These passages require constant upkeep and ships get lost in here a lot. We're searching for a ship reported lost in here a little while ago, in fact. Have you seen anything?"

Riker appeared to think for a second and then spun around to look at each of his bridge crew. Every single one of them gave him an exaggerated shake of the head no. Facing the viewscreen, proud of his crew's sharp reaction to his subterfuge, he also indicated no. "Sorry, Morin, we can't help you. We'll keep an eye out and let you know--assuming you have no objection to our presence in your passages."

"No, of course not."

For a minute Riker thought that the Vaadwaur was going to object. Apparently the Vaadwaur wasn't confident about his ship's ability to take on the Titan-beta by itself. Rather than risk a confrontation, Morin was going to maintain the illusion of friendliness, at least until he had more ships in his corner. As soon as the transmission was terminated, Riker returned to his command chair. "Tactical, prepare the deflector dish. If those Vaadwaur come back with friends, I want to be able to shove as many as possible out of the corridor in a hurry with a resonance pulse."

.................................................. ................

Beverly closed the communication channel to the Bridge and leaned wearily against the wall for a moment before gingerly easing out of her uniform jacket. She used the fabric to wipe some of the blood from her face, removed her communicator and then dropped the tattered fabric to the floor. Her ship was secure, four intruders in total had been located. Her team had been ambushed by a Vaadwaur trying to use the Jeffries tubes to get up to the Bridge. He'd come out of the tube behind them and started firing. She attached the communicator to her shirt and examined the wound where she'd been hit in the arm. It was a nasty-looking furrow more than a centimeter across and nearly as deep. There was a similar wound on the side of her head where a shot had grazed her during the firefight. One of the security officers on her search team was in serious condition after taking a shot from the Vaadwaur's weapon, but she was confident he'd make a full recovery. Bashir had personally accompanied the medical team that she'd requested once the area was secure and was working to stabilize the injured officer before moving him to the closest surgical bay. The Vaadwaur who had ambushed them was in custody along with three others and all of them were on their way to the brig. She'd turn them over to the Titan as soon as they reunited with the expedition; she wouldn't let herself think in terms of 'if they reunited with the expedition'. Now that the adrenaline had worn off from the fight, her arm and her head were starting to throb painfully. She still had a long way to go before she could rest.

As soon as it was safe to move him, Julian called for a surgical team to prepare the closest surgical bay and stepped aside for his medical team to leave with the injured officer. He grabbed his medkit and headed over to evaluate Crusher's injuries. "Are you all right?"

"Fine." She pushed away the medical tricorder that he was waving in front of her.

Chuckling, he just shook his head and finished his scans. "Well, that answers that."

"What?"

"The age-old question about who makes the worst patients, captains or doctors?" Julian clarified. "As a doctor, you know full well that being shot--twice no less--is not synonymous with fine. Obviously the captain in you is a worse patient than the doctor in you. Captain or Doctor, I'm taking you to Central Medical now."

The irony of being on this side of this conversation was not lost on her. Now that she was actually in the captain's shoes, she realized that it wasn't always that simple and that she might owe Jean-Luc an apology or two. Logically, the doctor in her knew that Julian was right; she was exhausted, her injuries needed treatment and the throbbing pain was only going to get worse. As captain, however, she was still in the middle of an emergency situation and she had a ship full of people counting on her. Her injuries could wait. "All I need right now is five cc's of polyadrenaline."

"You have a head injury!" Julian exclaimed in disbelief.

"It's a flesh wound," Beverly countered. "And I also have a damaged ship full of crew and civilians 600 light years from our reinforcements. We only have about thirty-six hours left in our hiding place here and there are aliens out there trying to take this ship by hook or by crook. I have more important things to deal with at the moment, Doctor Bashir. Either be helpful or be elsewhere."

Julian stood toe-to-toe with his captain. From her determined expression it was obvious that, short of relieving her of duty, he was not going to win this battle. Double-checking his tricorder readings on the extent of her injuries, he relented a little. "I'll give you a hypospray of 3% hydrocortilene."

"Throw in ten cc's of hyperzine and you've got a deal," Beverly said.

He loaded the hypospray with the agreed upon medications, programmed the dosages and injected it into her neck. Before he closed up the medkit, he pulled out two bandages, putting the first one over the gaping gash across her upper arm. As he positioned the other one over the wound on her head, he continued. "Your wounds need to be debrided before I can use a dermal regenerator on them. These dermaplastic bandages will at least keep infection at bay until I can get in there to do a proper repair."

"Thank you, Doctor."

End Part 4
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"I personally like to think Picard and Vash had a very active sex life. I can't believe Picard just read Shakespeare up there in his room all those years." Patrick Stewart.
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Old October 22 2010, 11:09 PM   #5
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Re: TNG: Welcome to the Delta Quadrant

Part 5

Riker was in his command chair on the Beta battle bridge. They hadn't encountered any more debris, which was promising. They also hadn't encountered any more Vaadwaur. Several junctions had passed with the Titan opting left at each intersection based on Chakotay's recommendation. Straining with his heart, trying to emotionally reach for his Imzadi was tiring yet if their link could help zero in on the location of the Pasteur, it would be worth it. At least he didn't feel any distress from her, she wasn't in severe pain. As he thought about her, those dark eyes and that long, curly, flowing hair cascading down her back, their connection started to feel stronger. He closed his eyes to concentrate, not sure if the sensation was a figment of his imagination or--"Imzadi."

.................................................. ...................................

"Imzadi," Deanna suddenly gasped.

Vash looked up from the book she was reading when she heard Deanna. Not wanting to be alone, she had opted to sit in Julian's office in the central Medical bay. She was in an area bustling with activity and yet out of the way. With internal sensors back online, the Counselors were busy working with the injured and their families. The children in particular needed something to occupy them so she had volunteered to read stories to them. From her seat in Julian's chair she watched Deanna rush for the door to the medical bay.

"What happened next?" one little boy asked.

Vash forced her attention back to the miniature audience scattered over the floor in Julian's office. "Let's find out."

.................................................. .................

On the Titan-beta, Riker's outburst had startled everyone.

"Captain?" the helmsman asked.

"Out, now, here," he ordered. His mind had definitely touched hers. They were nearby, he was sure of it.

Chakotay studied the sensor readings. "There's what appears to be a dead-end just ahead. That may be a natural entry or exit."

"We're back in normal space," the helmsman reported.

Tactical scanned the area. "No sign of the Pasteur."

"Nebula," Riker said, his face taut with intense focus.

Chakotay tapped the display. "There's a protostellar nebula two million kilometers from our position."

"Set course," Riker ordered. "Full impulse and hail them."

"No response," Ops said. "The nebula could be interfering with the signal."

Tactical brought up the evidence of a battle that they'd previously encountered. "Judging from the amount of debris in the sub-space corridor, they may have sustained damage to their communications array. They may not be able to receive transmissions."

"We can't go in," Chakotay warned Riker. "We'll lose sensors once we're inside the nebula and if those Vaadwaur followed us here we'd be blind, no good to anyone. We need to provide cover so they can come out safely."

Riker focused on his connection to Deanna, encouraging her to bring the Pasteur out of the nebula.

Chakotay gestured toward the Ops console. "Keep trying to raise them. Tactical, take us to red alert and keep an eye out for Vaadwaur ships."

.................................................. .....................................

Deanna burst onto the bridge. "They're here! The Titan is out there."

Beverly eyed Deanna carefully. She didn't doubt the link Deanna shared with Will, she just wasn't sure how far to trust it. "How close are they?"

"They're holding position just outside the nebula," Deanna said. "Will says the coast is clear."

"Ensign Chilton," Beverly looked to the helm. "What's the status of our propulsion system?"

"Thrusters and impulse only," she reported. "Engineering estimates two more hours for even limited warp."

Beverly sat down in her command chair to consider the situation. "I don't suppose we have communications."

"Nope," Randall reported. "At least not from inside this nebula, the deflector's still out."

If they left the relative safety of the nebula, they would be exposed, unable to run and only marginally able to put up a fight. If the Titan was out there, they'd have protection but only if the Titan was sitting outside of the right nebula. Deanna was only half-Betazed and Will was human. They could communicate telepathically but it wasn't as strong as two full telepaths. She would be betting the lives of everyone on her ship with this decision. "Helm, move us out of the nebula, one-quarter impulse."

.................................................. ........................

Her fiery red hair was disheveled and a bandage obscured one side of her face. Her uniform jacket was gone, her communicator pinned to her shirt. The reason for that was obvious from the bandage encircling her upper left arm. She looked haggard and worn yet to Chakotay she was the most beautiful sight in the universe. Stepping off the turbolift onto the bridge of the Pasteur, he didn't consciously recall crossing the deck to reach her, all that mattered was that he was touching her. He cupped her face in his hands. "Are you all right?"

"Fine," Beverly said with a reassuring smile. Unable to resist, she moved into his arms. Resting briefly against his broad chest, she savored the comfort and warmth of his embrace. Even though they weren't alone, she tilted her head up to brush her lips across his in a brief, tender kiss.

On the other side of the Pasteur's bridge, Will and Deanna were locked in a much more passionate embrace. He held her as tightly as he could and deepened the kiss, his tongue delving deep into the recesses of her mouth. Their link meant that words weren't necessary, leaving him free to ravage her mouth while telepathically reassuring himself that she was okay. He'd known that she was alive, he would have felt her loss in his heart. It was just such a huge relief to have her back in his arms. Unfortunately, they still had work to do; celebrations would have to wait. He pulled away from Deanna but maintained a firm grip on her hand. "What's your status?" he asked Beverly.

She took a moment to catalog the issues at hand and organize her thoughts. "Weapons are back online along with internal sensors. Shields are at 80%. Deflector dish is still offline and warp engines will be back up in a couple of hours--I had to pull people off of that to get me internal sensors when we discovered some intruders. We've got thrusters and impulse engines. I've still got hull breaches, including a fairly large one on Deck 18."

Randall snorted. "Ain't exactly a hull breach so much as shuttle bay four being gone. That whole deck's been sealed off so we didn't have to waste power on forcefields down there."

Beverly closed her eyes briefly and rested her hand on Chakotay's chest before listing the next issue. "I lost three crew members including Commander Kole and I've got mass casualties but Bashir has that under control, he's not expecting to lose anyone else."

"Intruders?" Riker focused on that item.

Randall provided the security report. "Four aliens that the computer id'd as Vaadwaur. They're cooling their heels in the brig. We've checked this ship out from stem to stern every which way and we're secure."

"The question is what are we going to do with them," Riker commented. "It's not like we could just take them to the nearest starbase and turn them over to Starfleet."

Randall spoke up. "I could have Cindy introduce them to some of her little friends."

They all got a chuckle out of that suggestion. Beverly welcomed the bit of levity and looked at her security chief. "Mark, how exactly does a cowboy from Montana end up with a snake handler?"

"Molecular biologist," Randall corrected her. "Herpetology is just her pet interest and she's a Montana native herself. We actually met when a snake spooked my horse. I was going to kill it and she just popped up out of the grass reading me the riot act. Said that my horse had spooked the snake first but she wasn't planning on hurting him so why was I going to hurt the snake for defending itself. When you meet a woman like that, about all you can do with her is marry her. Of course we were both thirteen at the time so we had to wait a bit on the marrying part. Actually she finally lassoed me with a wedding ring on account of this expedition."

Riker grinned at the young man. "I wouldn't recommend letting her hear you put it like that. Let's keep Dr. Randall's pets in reserve. We'll call that Plan B. What would Janeway have done?"

Chakotay shrugged. "If there were authorities to turn them over to, that would be ideal. Otherwise, give them a choice of where they want to be left with supplies and a transmitter so they can call their friends after we're gone."

"That's probably the best solution," Riker said. "First things first, though, let's get back to the Enterprise and Titan-alpha. My brig is in the Alpha section, so our friends will need to stay where they are until we rendezvous. Do you need extra security help?"

Beverly checked with Randall who shook his head no. Accepting her security chief's assessment, she declined Riker's offer. "Security is under control but Engineering and Ops could use some help. My people have been working practically non-stop to get primary systems back up, they're exhausted."

"What can I do?" Chakotay asked.

"Take her to Medical," Randall suggested. "Doc Bashir wanted her there hours ago to take care of her wounds."

"Lieutenant Commander!" Beverly snapped.

Randall threw up his hands in a placating gesture. "Sorry, ma'am, but he asked and I figure if anyone can get you to take a break and get those injuries tended to, it'd be him."

Deanna spoke for the first time. "If any of your crew were in your condition, you'd order them to rest and get taken care of. You told Doctor Bashir that you had more important things to deal with at the time but you've done those."

"When was the last time you stopped to eat something or even close your eyes?" Chakotay asked.

Riker threw in his argument. "We can use the sub-space corridor to get back to the Enterprise so you don't need warp engines right now. It'll just take a little longer. Once we've reunited with the others, crew from the Enterprise and Titan can relieve your people and finish the repairs."

Beverly gave in mostly because she didn't have the energy to fight. "Fine, I'll be in Medical. Mr. Randall, the bridge is yours."

.................................................. .............

Picard sat in his command chair, the bridge silent except for the assorted beeps from the workstations as crew members saw to their duties. No one was in the mood for the usual idle conversations. They had just gotten a stark reminder that they were exploring uncharted regions of space full of unknowns and a number of his crew had spouses or significant others on the Pasteur. The panel in the arm of his chair was displaying Astrometric scans and he watched it closely for anything that could be a signal from the missing ship. Vash was such a huge part of him, he refused to even imagine a life without her. She had wrapped his heart around her little finger on Risa and never let it go. He'd cared for other women in his life, even had deep feelings for a few but none of them had ever brought out the passion and fire that he'd found with Vash.

"Incoming transmission from the relay," Lar reported. "The Pasteur has been located. We're being advised to find a suitable location for extensive repairs. They are enroute and will arrive shortly. Captain Riker included a personal message to you, sir. Long live the queen."

End Part 5
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"I personally like to think Picard and Vash had a very active sex life. I can't believe Picard just read Shakespeare up there in his room all those years." Patrick Stewart.
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Old October 22 2010, 11:10 PM   #6
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Re: TNG: Welcome to the Delta Quadrant

Part 6
The turbolift halted on Deck 8 and the doors slid open to reveal two crewmembers, one half-carrying another who was semi-conscious and bloody. Chakotay immediately stepped out of the lift to relieve the uninjured crewman of her burden. The injured Bolian was practically dead weight and he was surprised that the diminutive woman had somehow dragged him to the turbolift since there was no indication of damage in the immediate vicinity.

Beverly checked for a pulse and evaluated his pupil response before turning her attention to the other crewmember. "Crewman Nadora, isn't it?"

The woman nodded in response. "Yes, Captain. Ensign Toral here was near a power conduit when it ruptured. I'm just getting him to Medical for treatment and then I'll get right back to repair it. I shut down power flow to the conduit at the junction for the time being."

"You've got some injuries yourself," Beverly noted, gesturing to the cuts and burns on the woman's hands.

"Nothing serious, Captain," Nadora replied. "They can wait."

Beverly studied the obviously exhausted young woman. "If the two of us can manage Ensign Toral, Chakotay can take care of that power conduit."

Chakotay practically carried the Bolian into the turbolift before turning him over to the women. "Which conduit?"

"Section 14 Alpha," Nadora said. "I'll be right back, Commander."

"No, you won't," Beverly countermanded. "We've rendezvoused with the Titan and Captain Riker is sending some extra hands over to help with repairs. As soon as you've been seen to, I'm ordering you to get something to eat and some rest. Commander Chakotay will take care of the power conduit by himself."

"Yes, ma'am," Nadora said with a relieved smile.

Chakotay arched an eyebrow at her in a silent command for her to take her own advice. All he said was, "Yes, Captain."

.................................................. .......................

In the past, interminable twenty minutes, Vash's simple, two-word message, 'I'm home' had rung repeatedly in Picard's head. Seeing to the necessary details that accompanied the return of the Titan-beta and the Pasteur took priority, but it was a comfort to know that she was safely back onboard the Enterprise. Finally, the immediate needs were taken care of. Standing up from the command chair, he made his way toward the turbolift. "Number One, you have the bridge. I'll be in my quarters."

"Aye, sir," Data acknowledged, taking the center seat.

He entered his quarters to find Vash looking out at the stars. Her brunette hair gently brushed her shoulders while her floor-length pink negligee skimmed her feminine silhouette to fall into sweeping folds around her legs. His Maid Marion was safe. The sight of her attired in pink, especially pink satin, inevitably made him think of her as such. She spun to face him causing the full skirt to swirl around her legs.

"Jean-Luc," Vash sighed. She swiftly crossed the room and allowed him to pull her into the safe haven she always found in his arms. A soft moan escaped her throat when he crushed her lips beneath his in an urgent kiss. Breaking off the kiss as abruptly as he had initiated it, he stepped back and cradled her face in his hands. He studied her, tenderly turning her head from side to side. Without a word, he reached for her hands, scrutinizing her arms. She watched his expression harden with cold fury while surveying the rope burns and bruising.

"I was not informed you were injured," he muttered, seething over the unprovoked attack on a hospital/science vessel filled with civilians. "These injuries weren't sustained during a battle. You were bound and gagged."

She shuddered at the unbidden memory that his words evoked. It had all happened so fast. She had been on her way down the corridor toward Beverly's quarters when someone grabbed her from behind. Never even giving her a chance to fight back, her attacker had been swift and proficient, overpowering her almost instantly and leaving her helpless and bound in a dark Jeffries tube. Firmly tamping down on a burgeoning sense of panic, she skirted the issue, "there are several dead, including Beverly's first officer, and a great many more who were severely or even critically wounded. Beverly was hit by weapons fire, twice. A few minor contusions doesn't even qualify me as one of the walking wounded."

"But you were taken prisoner by the Vaadwaur raiding party," his voice was terse, that realization fueling his fierce protectiveness of her. He had only learned of the intruders on the Pasteur after the ships had rendezvoused when he'd overheard the ship-to-ship communication regarding the prisoner transfer from the Pasteur's brig to the Titan's. The last place he should consider going was the brig of the Titan to pay these Vaadwaur a little visit, nevertheless he briefly toyed with the tempting thought.

She moved in closer to him, splaying her hands across his chest and gazing up at him through her lashes. Beneath his uniform, she could feel the muscles of his the sleek powerful frame tautly coiled like a jungle cat waiting to pounce. To bolster her own composure as much as to distract him, she employed her usual impish bravado. "Stand down and unclench your jaw, Mon Capitaine. Or are you planning to replicate a broadsword with which to go skewer our uninvited guests?"

"Absolutely not." He wasn't lying. The idea of a broadsword hadn't occurred to him until she mentioned it. He had been thinking more along the lines of his d'ktahg dagger. And he wouldn't even need to replicate it. Conceding her point, his tone became wryly self-deprecating, "Sir Guy's ghastly demise not withstanding."

"It wasn't just Sir Guy. I believe there were two hapless guards slumped outside the door that also suffered your wrath during that little melee."

He winced slightly at the allusion of the scenario's body count, fictional or not. "Faced with all the very real dangers in the universe and yet we always seem to come back to Q's Robin Hood fantasy."

Reaching up, she brushed her fingers along his jawline. "The setting and adversaries may have been fictional but the emotions driving the events were very real. All for the love of a maid is how Q put it and on that one point he was right. It was your love for me that compelled you to storm the castle and scale the tower wall to climb in the window in order to rescue me. Your duel with Sir Guy was over me, not your ship or her crew. There is no denying that. Although there have been many other daring rescues where you have protected me and fought for me, Nottingham will always be the most salient. It was the first."

"You're aware that at times like this I can't help but see you as Maid Marion," he confessed, her delicate features, rose petal lips and the flutter of her dark lashes adding to her damsel-in-distress air.

"Well, of course. You didn't actually believe the pink nightgown was happenstance?" She affected her best naughty schoolgirl tone while pulling his face to hers for a long, slow kiss.

Pulling back, Picard quoted in a rich, resonating timbre, "I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out."

That masterful voice never failed to make Vash's insides turn upside down. "Meaning you're my Robin Hood because I'm your Maid Marion or I'm your Maid Marion because you're my Robin Hood?"

"Yes." His mouth covered hers in another deeply impassioned kiss. He slipped his tongue past her parted lips to gently stroke and caress every corner of her mouth. Instinctively his arms wrapped around her svelte frame pulling her tightly to him. Her soft curves melted against him, fitting so perfectly with his body. There were moments while she was missing when he struggled to breathe, the fear that he might have lost her nearly overwhelming him. Now that he had her back safely, his pulse pounded in a primal rhythm with his desperate need for her and the kiss intensified until his tongue fiercely plundered the depths of her mouth. Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew he should slow down. 'At ease, Captain,' he chastised himself, finally ending the kiss.

The sheer power of his kiss had caused all the strain of the past few days to converge into a tight knot of arousal in her stomach making her entire body burn for him. She stared up into his handsome chiseled features, the determination etched in the strong square line of his jaw sending a frisson through her. She traced circles around the rank pips on the collar of his burgundy uniform tunic and suggested coquettishly, "isn't this where the hero carries the fair maiden off to his bed for a night of unbridled passion?"

The strength of the impulse to do just that battled with his concern for her. Her delicate fingertip toying with his rank pips along with the desire emanating from the depths of her lovely blue eyes tipped the scales. It took every ounce of his self-control to leash his own needs and his voice was a hoarse rasp. "Your injuries?"

"They're superficial, forget them. Make me forget them. Take me to bed."

There was only so much a man could stand and her ardent entreaty was the final straw. He effortlessly swept Vash up, carrying her to their bedroom with quick, determined strides.

.................................................. .......................

On the Pasteur, Beverly sat in her ready room staring at the computer screen. They were in orbit of a class M planet. Scientists from virtually every department were studying and taking samples on the surface, archaeologists were scouring the planet for any signs of civilization and others were simply enjoying a chance to be planetside. The Astrometrics department was taking full advantage of the opportunity to extensively study and experiment with the sub-space corridors. Meanwhile, full repairs on her ship were underway; she didn't have use of Deck 18 yet or a replacement yacht, but most of the ship's systems were back up. Her injuries had been healed, she'd eaten and slept and now she was tackling something she wished that she would never have to do. The door chime sounded. She immediately felt guilty at the sense of relief she felt for the excuse to avoid the unpleasant task just a little longer. "Yes?"

Picard entered her ready room. "I just wanted to check in on you."

She motioned to a chair, inviting him to sit. "I'm fine. I was just writing . . . Do these letters ever get easier?"

"I hope not," he said bluntly. "I've seen the preliminary reports and you did everything you could."

"It doesn't feel like it."

He thought back over the lifetime of experiences he'd had in the captain's seat. "It never does."

Beverly sat back and combed her fingers through her hair. "You don't understand, Jean-Luc. As a doctor, if I lost a patient I knew that I had done everything humanly possible. I didn't like it but I could accept that there were limits to what medical science could accomplish."

"But as a captain there isn't any command science that defines parameters for you," Picard said. "There are decisions to be made that leave you wondering if the outcome would have been better if you'd gone with a different choice. Being a captain is more than a privilege, it comes with pretty heavy responsibilities. You make the best decision you can based on the information in front of you and you live with the outcome. Your duty is to choose what is in the best interest of your people and your ship--in that order. Sometimes you have to fight for your people and your ship and sometimes you lose people. Welcome to the club."

Having been his doctor for more than two decades, she knew better than anyone the price that Jean-Luc had paid as captain. He did understand, probably better than anyone, how she felt and they shared a moment of silent communion. She gestured to the letter she had been composing. "Commander Kole; I was just trying to find the words to express to his family how much it meant to me that he died trying to defend this ship."

"The simplest words are best," he suggested. "Flowery sentiments won't make it easier."

Beverly nodded. "I'm still left without a First Officer. Mark Randall is an obvious option, but he's been a command officer for barely more than a year. I don't doubt he could handle it, it would just be a huge leap given his lack of experience. The only command-level officer I have with a good amount of experience is my Chief Engineer. Problem is she detests bridge duty and pulls it reluctantly almost exclusively on Gamma shift. She says it's quiet then which gives her plenty of time to read her engineering journals."

Picard chuckled. "It doesn't sound like she would be interested in the position."

"There are experienced command officers on the expedition," she noted. "Just not on my ship."

He'd been around the trio long enough to know he was being set up for something. "Oh?"

"I mentioned it to Chakotay and he turned me down flat. He said that having a First Officer and Captain romantically involved would undermine either his authority with the crew or mine. He'd prefer to sleep with me and answer to you."

Picard nodded in agreement. "That arrangement works for me."

Beverly continued. "I'd need someone comfortable with academics, someone not intimidated by them."

"Someone intelligent," he acknowledged warily.

She knew he suspected but she casually examined her fingernails in a show of contemplation. "I would also need someone level-headed, good in a crisis with strong leadership skills to step in and take over the crew after recent events. Somehow I don't think we've seen the last of the Vaadwaur."

"Most definitely; who are you considering stealing from me?"

She did look a little sheepish at his matter-of-fact query. "Geordi, if he wants it."

"The best Chief Engineer I've ever had?" Picard gave a brief, token objection. "He's a good officer. I highly recommend him for the position and you have my blessing to poach him--approach him with the offer."

"Thank you," Beverly said, grinning at his 'slip'. Something he'd said before was just begging for comment and she couldn't resist. "As for your welcome, I think I prefer The Club to this captain's club."

**FINIS**
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"I personally like to think Picard and Vash had a very active sex life. I can't believe Picard just read Shakespeare up there in his room all those years." Patrick Stewart.
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Old October 27 2010, 01:36 AM   #7
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Re: TNG: Welcome to the Delta Quadrant

That was pretty good.
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Old October 27 2010, 11:14 PM   #8
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Re: TNG: Welcome to the Delta Quadrant

Admiral2 wrote: View Post
That was pretty good.
Thank you. I truly appreciate the feedback.

Warmest Wishes,
Whoa Nellie
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"I personally like to think Picard and Vash had a very active sex life. I can't believe Picard just read Shakespeare up there in his room all those years." Patrick Stewart.
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Old October 27 2010, 11:59 PM   #9
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Re: TNG: Welcome to the Delta Quadrant

Whoa Nellie wrote: View Post
Admiral2 wrote: View Post
That was pretty good.
Thank you. I truly appreciate the feedback.

Warmest Wishes,
Whoa Nellie

You're welcome.
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