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Benedict

ST: TNG -"Improbable Improbabilities"

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Benedict   

It's another story but take hope, the ideas well for non-ENT stuff has dried up beyond this and my Warrior's Heart sequel there's nothing forming.

Now for the waffle- this idea came after reading Q-Squared and I thought about the various parallel tracks there might be. I've been wanting to write a Beverly in the main story for ages just for the hell of it and this idea gelled with that one so here we are. As with most things with the eight chapters and 22 pages I've done already she's not exactly stayed Number One.

The story will no doubt be an acquired taste but I hope...

Doctor-Beverly-Crusher-star-trek-4.jpg

...if you're still reading after this and that picture, you'll enjoy this humble piece and I ask those who don't like her to at least try the teaser and first chapter before closing the door :)

-----------------------------------------------

“Now hear this, now hear this. Dockyard crews to depart starship no later than 2300hrs. Team commanders are to report out via the first officer. That is all.”

“Computer, time.”

“The time is 0600hrs, Greenwich.”

“Greenwich,” she whispered in the darkness to herself.

“This is in accordance with the orbit of the...”

“Yes, end,” she snapped suddenly irritable. It had been a rough night’s sleep. The first on a new ship, in a new bed and with everything else. “Lights to half.”

She winced all the same at the dim lighting illuminating her sweeping quarters. Her bedroom was cut off from the living area which had a kitchen counter and en suite to the other side. The roof curved downwards towards the windows which showed the curvature of the Earth as the ship orbited. She padded from the bed naked across her quarters yawning as she ran a hand through her long red hair that cascaded past her face in gentle slopes. She grunted in slight pain when she kicked her right foot against the coffee table.

“Damn!” she hobbled into the bathroom and jumped into the sonic shower. Turning it on she leant her back against the wall letting the shower do its work. She muttered to herself running over what needed to be done today. Her first day on the new job. Great. The ship was not new though far from it.

Some minutes later she was stood in front of her holo-mirror adjusting the blue uniform. There was talk that the uniforms would soon change to some thing with grey shoulders with the collars denoting the departmental colour. It struck her that Starfleet had gone through a couple of changes uniform-wise in twenty years whereas with the burgundy and black pants had stayed for almost a century. She pursed her pale lips at the mirror sticking her hands on her slender hips. For a woman of just past forty she wasn’t doing too badly, she thought. Forty...God, even in the late 2360’s it was still a landmark few liked coming.

“Computer, time.”

“0700hrs Greenwich.”

She gritted her teeth then left her quarters. As she headed down the corridor she passed others who nodded at her. A few probably took in her commander pips and knew who she was. That and the red hair. “Look out for the redhead, she’s the new CMO.”

“Our new CMO’s a redhead,” would probably be the better utterance.

No. Just: lookout for the redhead!

Sickbay was a few decks down and it took ten minutes to find it. Galaxy-classes were so bigger on the inside than the Ambassador, which she had served on until recently. She used the panels on the walls to guide her. It was like she was blind.

Sickbay.

“G-g-good morning.”

The man in blue wearing lieutenant pips smiled at her. A genuine, warm smile but one faltering through his nervousness. She tried to remember who he was.

“Morning Lieutenant Barclay.”

Doctor Lieutenant Reginald Barclay’s smile grew a fraction. He wrung his hands together. “May I ex-extend a proper welcome aboard the Enterprise, Dr Howard.”

Beverly Howard smiled back. It wasn’t Barclay’s fault she had not slept well.

“Morning, Reg...mind if I call you that?”

“N-no.”

This guy’s going to be great in battle, she thought crossing sickbay. It was again bigger than the Ambassador’s sickbay. She stopped at her office door pleased to see a cardboard box marked HOWARD- USS YANGTZE on her desk. Turning to Barclay Beverly clapped her hands together. “What’s on the agenda today, Reg?”

“Nothing much. We’re getting ready to leave space-dock,” Barclay shrugged. “The captain will want to see you later I’d i-imagine.”

“Picard.”

“Y...,” Reg trailed off realising she knew who he was and was not clarifying. “Have you ever met him?”

“Jean-Luc Picard?” Beverly paused and shook her head with the air of someone who is telling the absolute truth. “I can’t say I have ever met him.”

For some of us in this dreary universe, lives were different. They existed in these planes known as parallel universes or as I like to think of them: delicious quirks of fate. They offer a different perception of these people. Some well known and some whom history will never record.

Sometimes, we here, like to dip our hand into this pool you mortals call the universe and change things. So that even in these parallels universes (or at least one or three) lives are suitably different. Pasts change, hair colour even, heck even anatomy (but only if you want it)...why, all I do is drop my hand in this here pool...

Edited by Mackenzie Calhoun

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Benedict   

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION

Improbable Improbabilities

Based upon Star Trek/Star Trek TNG created by Gene Roddenberry

This ones for those that wanted to turn the pages and of course, to coffee houses and their oh so patient staff members (chiefly Wimbledon)

Oh, and to Gates McFadden without whom my younger years mightve been a bit different.

One/ USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D

The bridge was brightly lit which she did not like in the slightest. She preferred the lights dimmed a fraction. It was a starship not a ballroom.

Where can I find the captain? she asked the ensign at the arched tactical console.

His ready room...Doctor, the ensign emphasised the last word registering who Beverly was. Ill tell him youre here.

No need, the CMO crossed down the sloped floor past an auxiliary console that jutted from the wall. She paused again taking in the figure at the conn with his golden skin and yellow eyes. He saw her staring. Morning, Doctor Howard.

You know me?

I was aware of your arrival today, yellow eyes managed a slight smile though it looked awkward. Welcome aboard the Enterprise. Im Lieutenant-Commander Data.

Beverly clicked a finger crossing to him looking upon him with some degree of wonder. Youre the android. Wow, youre just like Ive heard.

Thank you.

Im sorry I guess Im a bit forthright. Must be the nerves. Beverly composed herself. I have to go see the captain.

She pressed the door chime hearing a clipped voice intone come so stepped through the parting doors. She stopped the other side standing almost to attention. Doctor Beverly Howard, sir, reporting for duty.

Please, doctor theres no need to stand on ceremony. Were equals, Captain Jean-Luc Picard said graciously as he rose from behind his desk. Equals? Did he mean age? Beverly thought. He extended a hand. You may call me Jean-Luc, though on duty of course.

Of course, Beverly laughed lightly. Picard went to his replicator. Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. Anything for you, Doctor?

Er...mint...tea.

Take a seat, he instructed as he gave her order. When he came back he placed her mug before her on his desk than sat down across from her tugging on his tunic with one hand as he did so. Ill welcome you even though Id imagine half the crew have already. The Enterprise is a big ship as you can see. Far bigger than the Yangtze.

Not much, Beverly took a sip of her tea. But newer.

Quite, Picard put down his tea clasping his hands on his lap. Your service record is impeccable. This is why you are replacing Doctor Pulaski. She is returning to head up Starfleet Medical though knowing her itd be a short assignment.

Beverly put her cup down. Pulaski had been on the Enterprise for five years prior to her assignment here. It was said she had clung to the post like a Ceti Alpha eel. She had discovered so much during her time here that Beverly felt somewhat insignificant. All she had ever really done on the Yangtze was to cure a Klingon virus.

...youll get to meet the crew in good time. The Enterprise has a complement of 1012 at present. This includes families so youve been warned.

You dont like families?

Picard chuckled his eyes twinkling with humour. Oh, I do. I still am getting used to having them under my feet. On the Stargazer I didnt have families present just my crew.

She knew that Picard had lost command of the ship in 2360 when a battle with the Ferengi went awry. She also knew that he was damned lucky to get this ship. Flagships of the fleet were not handed out like cookies.

Im used to kids by now. I did a stint at Starfleet Medical and spent half my time treating the brass kids for all kinds of ailments. Im glad to be space-bound again.

You were born on the Moon, no?

Yes. Tycho City. So you could say I belong amongst the stars, Beverlys eyes twinkled as she took another sip of her drink. Do we wait long for departure?

Half a day then we get going. You must feel nervous at this post.

Beverly felt surprised though she hid it from Picard. In some ways but this is the Enterprise. Nervousness doesnt apply here.

Not all the time, granted. The ship has been struggling with performance ratings since my first officer was promoted. I dont want to think it his problem but it was a coincidence. The current number one is doing their best. Do you think you have what it takes to be our CMO?

Sounds like a challenge, Beverly Howard thought. She stared hard at Picard until he softened his gaze.

I think so. I know so.

Good. I hope to see more of you over the voyage.

That was that. The doctor put the tea down and left the ready room fists clenched. She noticed now that a woman with curly blonde hair sat in the centre chair. Seeing Beverly she rose coming over to her. Doctor Howard, Im Commander Elizabeth Shelby. The first officer.

Hello, Ive heard something of you.

Nothing too shocking I hope, Shelby said with some humour. She held her head up so the chin was jutting almost as if to dare Beverly. You should fit right in around here, doctor. Play poker?

Ive been known to hold my own.

Good. My quarters, 2000hrs deck eight...if youre free.

Ill make it so. Shelby seemed pleased at this and returned to her chair. Beverly gave a shrug walking up the slope towards the lift. As she waited she was aware of the officer at tactical staring at her. He had a high forehead with a receding hairline despite his youthful features. She faced him arms folded. Can I help you?

Beverly Howard, its been a while.

She stared at him as he had at her and sighed. Im sorry, I dont recognise you.

He came over to her holding a hand out. Jack Crusher. Current tactical and security chief.

As she took his hand she felt a flood of memories run through her mind. Candlelight dinners in San Francisco, cadet uniforms and trips to the pools on Mars.

Its been a long time, she agreed finally feeling a lump in her throat. How have you been, Jack?

Never better. Well, now Im not. There was a rocky period with the Stargazer hence my two and a half pips.

She had noticed. I thought...Walker...

Walker Keel had introduced Jack to Beverly during the academy almost twenty years ago. She had been quite freckled face, thinner and painfully shy.

Hes a captain now.

Where you should be. What happened, Jack? She wanted to ask. She had not seen him since she broke it off in the final year.

I see. Well, Ive...got to get to sickbay, she gulped backing into the lift. After the doors closed she managed to get out sickbay then felt her shoulders slump.

When the doors parted on her deck she squared those shoulders and brightened her expression. She had what it took to be CMO.

----

Edited by Mackenzie Calhoun

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This is a pretty intense start to things ... it feels familiar, but subtly different to what we know in so many ways. Quite a mindf*ck in some ways. I think I'll enjoys this one :)

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Benedict   

Good stuff. I'll wipe my brow then. Of all the stuff I've written this might be more of a brainfudger. Whenever I think of the plot it hurts and indeed, we're going to take a while to get through it.

It'll be like trying to novelise an episode of the original Prisoner. And Frame of Mind TNG...Ugh

Anyway, we're off. :)

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Benedict   

I'll carry on then. Get these in whilst I have some willpower. Believe it or not a bit of effort's gone into this and coming chapters. Trying to figure out who will do what and etc

---

Two / Deep Space

Come.

Beverly Howard stepped into the quarters holding her hands by her side. She leant heavily on her left foot leaning in. I heard there was a game.

Shelby smiled flashing white teeth at the doctor. Take a seat doc.

The first officer held court at a round table by the windows now showing the stars streaking past. As Beverly took her seat Shelby shuffled cards speaking as she did so.

To my left, Engineer LaForge.

Pleased to meet you doctor, the dark-skinned man with the ocular implants said with a warm air.

Our yellow-eyed friend is the conn officer, Lieutenant Commander Data.

Pleased to make your acquaintance again, said the being neatly wearing a poker cap.

You too, Data.

And finally, Jack Crusher. Tactical.

Beverly held Jacks gaze and shifted it. They were old news that they had nearly been something else. They had gone different ways not long after the relationship ended. She chose medical and he chose command. Yet it had gone wrong...

She felt his eyes on her after she broke the contact and waited for Shelby to deal. Picking her cards up the doctor gave Shelby a look wondering about her. If she remembered rightly Shelby was only twenty-eight. Then again Kirk was thirty-four when he became a captain. Maybe Shelby was aiming to break the mould.

The game started with banter between the officers. Beverly sat on the sidelines as it were feeling uncomfortable. The officers, even Data, seemed at ease with Shelby despite her rank. Beverly was surprised that Jack was considering he was a few years older.

...the captain should be happy with what we have engine-wise. SCE gave me what i wanted, LaForge said with a white-toothed grin.

Yeah, you and your engines give me a headache, Jack pulled at a card eyebrow arched. Hows sickbay, doc? Everything as you want it yet?

Im sure Doctor Howard has everything she needs without it being changed.

It was a slight joke, Data.

It was?

Shelby snorted. Very slight. Seriously, doc...settling down fine?

As best as I can considering I only boarded a day ago. Howard smiled. So, whats it like serving on this ship?

Never a dull moment, Shelby remarked sighing. Ive only been here a year ever since Commander, well captain, Riker transferred off to the Melbourne.

That was painful. A week of gentle prying his butt loose from the second chair, Jack caught Shelbys gaze. What? Its true. Riker never wanted to leave the Enterprise but he was convinced that command was his path now and so he was sent. What was it Admiral Hansen told you?

Shelbys cheeks flushed her jaw clenching. That the chairs held out only for so long.

Beverly sensed this had been hashed over before. She had heard of Will Riker in passing. Apparently he had been considered for the Yangtze not long after Beverlys posting there as CMO. The Melbourne was not her ideal ship. Excelsior-class and old.

Anyway, Jack, Geordi and Data have been here four years...

This ship is the best in the fleet, Geordi LaForge told Beverly. Were also a tightknit group.

Like most ships. Beverly studied her cards blowing air from the corner of her lips. Stop staring Jack for Gods sake.

Full house, she said laying the cards down.

Goddamn, she has as well, Jack flopped his cards down as did everyone else. Beverly grinned reaching to take the chips. You never stopped playing?

Not since the academy, she confirmed. I once took my captains savings.

Ha, Shelby snorted again this time with humour. She leant forward resting her elbows on the table. So, what do you do for fun?

The doctor was caught off guard. Uh...well, I...I like doing plays. You know, theatre and stuff. Painting, reading...er...

Dancing, Jack piped up.

Jack...

Ooh, Shelby breathed. This sounds interesting.

I did dancing as a child...

You were known as the Dancing Doctor, Jack finished. Tripping the light fantastic. Rumour has it you taught the commandant how to dance for his daughters wedding.

Maybe she could teach your daughter, Shelby said with a smile and a shrug.

Jack groaned. Libby...

Libby? Is that your daughter? Beverly asked. When did Jack have time to start a family? How? Who with?

No, Im Libby, Shelby told her pointing at her chest then at Jack. Leslie, thats his daughter.

How old is she?

Eighteen. Shes in the second year at the academy.

Wow, thats not bad.

Shes...bright.

Ill say she is, Shelby grinned then patted the table straightening. Alright, doc. You deal.

A few minutes later Shelby got up to get drinks from her replicator. Beverly leant close to LaForge who tilted his head so that he could hear properly.

Do they always run late these nights?

Always. Always when Shelbys down in chips.

I heard that, commander, Shelby called coming over with glasses. She handed Data one.

You drink, Data? asked Beverly eyebrows up.

I like to have a drink before me to maintain the pretence of comradeship.

So...were pretending to like you! Jack exclaimed.

Yeah, Data. Were pretending? Shelby joined.

No...I, Data stopped then blinked. Sarcasm, correct?

Bless you Data, Shelby took a sip of her drink. Never change.

Do you have kids, Doctor? Beverly was asked by Jack her green eyes blinking somewhat. Even Shelby seemed mildly surprised but it was a very slight reaction at that. The redhead fumbled with her cards. No.

Never had the time?

Never met someone, she murmured staring at her cards intently. There had been some guys since Jack but then there had to be. Jack had been almost ten years ago if not more. What kind of woman would she be if there had not been some kind of dalliance? She sighed to herself remembering someone just after graduation. That hadnt lasted long.

Aces high, she said loudly.

Shelby lifted a blonde eyebrow again. I like her, Jack.

Yeah, shes a good one, LaForge grinned checking his cards.

Good, Beverly murmured.

They played long into night, no ship ever had sense of day and night yet when it was deemed to be night the atmosphere of a ship felt different. At a little after 0100hrs Beverly stood walking to the windows straightening her back pressing her hands at the small of it.

That does it for the night, yawned Shelby. Youre all dismissed or fired, I couldnt care less.

Jack chuckled. Yes, commander.

Crusher was first out of the door followed by Data who tried to apologise to Shelby for winning the last four hands. Beverly ended up being last. Thank you for the night, commander.

Doctor, you can call me Libby or Elizabeth if you like though never Eppy.

Beverly laughed a little confused. Eppy?

My full name is Elizabeth Paula. I knew this guy at the academy, a Xenexian who insisted on calling me that. Shelby scratched her head leaning in her seat. I actually liked it.

Well, Ill be off.

Beverly, called Shelby as the CMO reached the doors. Did something happen between you and Jack?

Many years ago, commander, Beverly Howard held Shelbys gaze finding it as hard as cobalt. But Im past it. Whether hes not, I dont know.

Okay. Ill speak to him later.

No. No, theres no need, Howard moved up to the table. Why should there be?

Because Jack needs to watch his step. What happened on the Stargazer affected his career otherwise he would be commanding this ship right now. He has issues and Im not having these ones affect him.

Okay, Beverly nodded slowly. I understand.

Thanks, doc. Now...Im going to hit the sack.

When Beverly left she tried going to her quarters but felt charged. So she tried sickbay but found only the nightshift. They seemed surprised that the CMO would turn up. She took a moment talking with them. She always wanted to know who she worked with even socialise with them sometimes. She found it important to know who you worked with when the nonsense hit the fan.

When she turned to leave she found the captain standing there. She put a hand to her chest. Captain.

Sorry to startle you but I cant sleep. Do you have something?

Some Vulcan tea actually, Beverly chuckled despite herself. Just whats the problem, sir?

Long hours and not enough pay.

She found a hypospray on her tray near the office. This should work. A few hours at best but Im hesitant what with when you need to be up.

Just give me a few hours. Shelbys a competent enough woman if somethings wrong.

Shes young.

Shes come highly recommended, Picard pointed out. Shell be a captain soon.

Gods, Beverly gave Picard the hypospray and lifted it a moment later. Best get to your cabin. This stuff works fast.

Thank you, doctor. Good night.

Night, she watched him go and rubbed her hands against her face. Now she was tired.

---

Edited by Mackenzie Calhoun

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Looking good so far. I'd say she's bedding in nicely. Jack's intriguing me though. I wonder what he did to get himself busted?

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Benedict   

I'm sure I've written what he's done in one of the completed chapters but it's probably quite lame. As for Beverly...I'm not feeling Gates McFadden (hold the jokes for now). Not picturing her. For one thing she's meant to be in her forties yet I'm feeling twenties with her. Maybe her being Howard isn't helping. :)

Anyway, my mighty thanks for reading if not commenting. This story's insane enough as it is :)

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Benedict   

Moving on.

----

Three/ Sector 98

Chief Medical Officers Personal Log:

It has been a week since I joined the ship and all is going well. It is quieter at the moment on this ship than I would have expected. The Yangtze by definition was quiet but the flagship...I half expected explosions and what have you. Jack continues to treat me differently to the others. I half suspect hes falling in love with me again. Ego or what? I had no idea he had time to start a family.

Captain Picard must be aware of Shelbys talk with Jack as he sometimes holds the man back after our daily briefings. Im starting to think I shouldve been transferred elsewhere.

You shouldnt be drinking alone.

Beverly Howard looked up at the dark-skinned woman with some surprise though returned her broody gaze to her tea. Ten Forward always felt too big to the doctor. Maybe she was used to the smaller rec rooms like the Yangtzes. This place hummed to the people within not buzzed like the former ship. The woman wore a saucer-section sized purple hat and matching clothes.

You have me at a disadvantage.

Im Guinan. I run this place...well, you might say that. Mind if I sit?

By all means.

Guinan clasped her hands on the lit table smiling. I like you.

Really? Have we met before?

In a way, Guinans smile deepened. Beverly suspected she was in on a secret joke that only this Guinan knew. I remember seeing you at the academy.

Really?

Beverly Howard sighed at herself knocking her head back she groaned. Is there a purpose or am I going to go really for the rest of this conversation?

Youre a wild one. Its the red hair right?

Redheads have more fun, Beverly chuckled, we also leave scratch marks.

You left yours on Jack Crusher.

Beverlys smile faded. Does everyone on this ship know?

No. I do because I know everyone on this ship, Guinan said in that smooth voice of hers. It was almost a purr. Beverly still felt on the outside more than ever now. It did not help being on a ship of such numbers. You see, Beverly Im kind of like a counsellor.

Thats good to know.

Have you settled in yet?

Just about. Im getting to know most people but I wont remember everyones names. How well do you know Jack?

Well enough.

What happened on the Stargazer?

Thats something you have to ask him, Guinan propped her head on a hand regarding the doctor with her dark eyes. Do you still care for him?

No. Beverly said curtly.

That sounds cold.

Some would say Im quite the cold person. Ive been hurt by too many since Jack, both men and women in all kinds of ways. Sometimes I just want to be left alone.

You broke it off with Jack. Was that because he hurt you?

No.

Beverly sighed putting her hands on the table as if to steady herself. Guinan wasnt asking anything she had not put across herself. I couldnt go on with him thats all. We wanted different things in life.

Guinan lifted her head. So...What do you think of our first officer?

Shes a firebrand. Beverly felt relieved at the tack the questioning now took. Have you been here all her time?

Yes, since more or less this ship was launched. Shes only now getting on her feet. Its not easy succeeding someone like Riker.

What spurred him to move?

Shelby. She was posted here for three days originally- last year. It was to follow up an incident with the Borg. Already she was an expert, proud protégé of Admiral Hansen. She made no secret of her ambition to become a first officer on this ship. It coincided with the latest command offer for Riker. She has a kind heart, does our Shelby, but she also has this unbreakable energy. By the time Jean-Luc got wind of this latest promotion offer and called Riker he had already decided to go.

Beverlys mouth had opened. Just like that?

Im sure there was more to it than that but it was pretty coincidental. He took Deanna too.

Who?

Deanna Troi, well Riker now. She was ships counsellor.

Ah.

So much had happened on this ship, Beverly thought, it was unbelievable. She pursed her pale lips. So, Im not just the latest upset?

No, no. The Enterprise is one big family. Youll fit in just fine.

Beverly caught sight of Jack entering Ten Forward from the opposite side. Behind him walked Shelby hands behind her back. She wondered if they were an item. There were some years between them but then that was neither here nor there. Guinan stood.

If you excuse me, doctor, I have to get their special ready.

Their?

They both have a thing for Rhode Island iced teas...I had no idea what it was until I did a Dixon Hill program with Jean-Luc.

When Shelby and Crusher had sat the CMO had long gone.

Jean-Luc Picard read over the PADD then nodded with satisfaction. Commence the work when you have the chance, commander.

LaForge beamed rising to his feet in the captains ready room. He took the PADD back holding it close to his chest. Thanks, sir. Hopefully thisll boost our peak performance.

Indeed.

As LaForge left Shelby slid past and nodded at the captain. A word, sir?

Make it quick, commander. I promised Ms Walters that I would read a story to the children in half an hour.

Shelby lifted a brow. Really?

Yes, Picard said haughtily. He had not taken long to acquire a reputation concerning the children on this ship. He half suspected it was Riker who had created the rumour with the kids that Picard ate children for breakfast. It would explain why Ensign Chambers daughter ran away from him one day. Now what is it?

Evaluation report of Doctor Howard, from seemingly nowhere the blonde first officer produced a PADD. For your consideration.

As he took the PADD Picard murmured. You know, I did meet her once before. I didnt realise until after the welcome meeting a week ago. It was after the Cardassian attack on the Stargazer when I took command. She was beamed over with a team from the Excalibur to tend to the wounded. A fourth year cadet on a field assignment. Some assignment.

Shelby said nothing letting her captain read the report. When he was done he handed it back. She seems to be doing well. Any additions to the report, commander?

Only that is trying hard to fit in. For a woman of her age she appears quite shy.

Picard chuckled. Shelby you have a way with honesty I find...refreshing. Not all of us are so forthright as you however. File the report and have the evening off.

Yes sir.

When she was gone Picard stood coming around the table he inspected the fish tank then left. Jack Crusher was at the tactical as always. Jack, you have the conn.

He saw the way his friend took to the command chair. With a slight smile as if he belonged there. Picard quickly went into the turbolift choosing to avoid the demons of the past rather than embrace them.

----

I have, six, I believe pre-written i.e. done chapters. As I'm going away Friday for a little over a fortnight I might get those six posted.

Even if no one else reads or comments on them they're out there to read. Peace of mind and all that.

Edited by Mackenzie Calhoun

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:giggle: I loved that line about Riker spreading rumours that Picard was an eater of children ... some people never change, whatever reality they find themselves in it seems.

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Benedict   

I'll post the rest of the stuff here and now then when I return in a fortnight, depending on my net situation in Wimbledon during that time I'll get some more up. Who knows...

Four/ Sector 99-A

The morning briefing had started earlier which had not amused Beverly at first. With no sleep she had drowned herself in coffee. Shelby started the briefing with a grim expression.

“During the night at 0400hrs the freighter Pride of Seattle sent a distress signal out. All that was intercepted was they were under attack and then it ended.”

Shelby left her place to Picard’s right walking up to the monitor screen. Everyone turned to face her as she drew up a map. “It happened in Sector 99-C. When I did some looking there had been two other distress signals in the area. One in 99-A and 98-Z.”

Red dots blinked into existence around the monitor. One blue dot marked ENTERPRISE sat near the middle. “Each one was under attack.”

“Did they say what was attacking them?” asked Crusher.

“The attack at 0800hrs this morning,” Shelby paused to show a new dot marked 99-B. “The attack this morning reported a cube shaped vessel.”

Beverly felt the chill suddenly in the room. Clearly everyone but her knew what this meant. Rather than ask she stayed quiet.

“The Borg?” asked Picard.

“It’s likely captain. We’ve been waiting almost two years for this.”

“Four, five attacks,” Picard murmured as Shelby retook her seat. “We’re not far from home so perhaps this is the final push on Earth.”

“Who are the Borg?” Beverly finally asked gritting her teeth afterwards.

“A race of cybernetic beings that assimilate other races into their collective. We believe they come from the Delta Quadrant over 100,000 light years away,” Shelby said quickly. Two years ago the Enterprise was thrown there by the Q.

The Q was something Beverly Howard was a little more familiar with largely as a fleet-wide communiqué was issued warning of this race. Shelby tapped her thin fingers on the conference table. “Sir, we should inform Starfleet Command if it is the Borg.”

“We’ll inform them regardless, commander. Mr Crusher, your tactical assessment.”

Crusher stirred leaning forward for Shelby was in his line of sight. Across from him Beverly studied his features. They were utterly professional. The same ol’ Jack she once loved. His right hand smoothed his golden tunic as he spoke.

“Sir studying what Commander Shelby has gathered I have come to the conclusion we’re sorely lacking. Sorry sir but them’s the facts.”

“Would you care to elaborate?” Picard asked dryly.

“Phasers and torpedoes don’t do much against the Cube if you remember from our excursion to J-25. We would have to rotate frequencies to keep them guessing.”

“Understood. Mr Crusher with the help of Mr Data you will prepare the ship for battle. Doctor Howard.”

Beverly gently tore her gaze from Crusher. “Yes sir?”

“I’d advise you to ready sickbay.”

“Yessir.”

“Until we know what is going on I suggest everyone continues as normally as they can.”

As the senior officer’s left the conference lounge Jack stopped in front of Beverly turning to face her. “I was wondering if you wanted to grab a drink tonight in Ten Forward. Just to catch up on the years in between.”

Beverly wasn’t sure how to react blinking and puffing out how lips. “I guess.”

“Don’t want to bend your arm out on the matter.”

Beverly managed a smile. “A quick drink, I’m going to be busy tonight.”

“Okay.”

Reg Barclay was proving himself an adequate nurse despite his nervousness around everyone. Along with Nurse Ogawa he helped Beverly get the sickbay ready for whatever might happen. Beverly went into her office before the ‘night’ to use her computer. On the back of her chair was the light blue lab coat which she always left. She hated the damn thing and saw no point to them.

“Computer, everything you have on the Borg.”

“Level One clearance required.”

Beverly sighed tugging on a forelock thoughtfully. “Howard Alpha One Two Tango.”

“Acknowledged. Processing.”

When the information appeared she chose what there was on the Borg’s anatomy. What there was in way of detail was sparse. She saw the name at the bottom of the report –K. Pulaski. So her predecessor had come up next to zero. Beverly pushed back in her chair hand on chin. The Borg were modified aliens so it stood to reason that you had to know the aliens’ physiology before doing any kind of operation.

“Doctor Howard?”

Beverly lowered her hand flicking her eyes to the door where Ogawa stood. “What is it Alyssa?”

“Commander Shelby wants to see you.”

Beverly grunted to herself standing. If the first officer was doing it this way clearly she wasn’t going to come into her office. Going outside she saw Shelby with hands clasped behind her back.

“What can I do for your, commander?”

“I was just checking on your status. Everything good to go?”

“Yes. We should be ready for whatever these Borg throw at us. What I don’t understand is how come we know so little considering the Enterprise had part of her hull taken.”

“The encounter was brief and it turns out the Borg left with more than we did,” Shelby dipped her head a curly lock of hair falling across her forehead. “If that’s all, doctor.”

“Sure.”

When Shelby left so did Beverly after a while as it had come to the end of her shift. Halfway to the turbolift she remembered Jack and sighed as she had done earlier.

“Deck ten...,” she said stepping into the lift. “Forward, I guess.”

As the left sped along she pushed her hair into some shape. Recently she had let it grow more. Regulations seemed lax most of the time concerning your hair. She smoothed her uniform down as she left the lift following the corridor down towards the front of the saucer section. When she passed through the double doors on the right hand side she paused. It was darker which meant that night-time was being observed. Apparently ship-board time was often keyed to San Francisco being Starfleet HQ and all. There were some junior officer’s at a table talking about their day, an ensign by herself staring out of the window, two teachers from the school playing 3D chess, Guinan tending bar and Jack sat on the other side on one of the wall seats.

Jack.

Their first date had been at an Italian restaurant deep in rural Marin County. One of those few places that seemed to avoid much change in four centuries. It was near a town if she remembered rightly called Bodega. He had been the perfect gentleman. The other came later.

“Evening Beverly, can I get you something?”

“Mint tea, please.”

He fetched over a waiter and made an order. For himself he just had orange juice. “One of the few things that’s real,” he said with a smile. Beverly with her back to the bar felt like she was on the edge of an ambush. “I’m sorry if I’m making you uncomfortable. I just wanted to catch up. We were...”

“First, you’re not making me uncomfortable,” just a little she thought. “Secondly, that was a long time ago, Jack. You must have had something after me. You did have a kid.”

“True.”

“What happened?”

Jack seemed taken aback. In some ways Beverly had launched an counter-offensive. She was tired, she was on edge from this and the possible Borg threat and everything else. She was still NEW to the damned ship.

“The Stargazer. I got married about three years before the incident. We had Leslie, everything was going great. Then I got tarred with a mighty big brush, divorce and end.”

Beverly’s red eyebrows lifted almost disappearing into her hair. “That’s it? So succinct.”

“You wanted to know.”

She sat back as the drinks were set down then pushed her saucer to one side. “I did but I had no idea you would be like that. What do you want, Jack? Are you wanting us to get back together?”

“No, no...,” Jack groaned. “Why do you never make it easy?”

“Because I’m tired of pussyfooting around. It’s been twenty years since we last saw each other and when we do you appear to want to pick up where we left off.”

“If I remember rightly we left off with you slapping me on the steps of Coit Tower!”

“Because you wouldn’t take a hint!” she snapped half-rising from her chair. “I broke it off Jack and all you were before, left. You were a gentleman, a nice guy and when I dump you –you follow me into that tower and try to grab me.”

“I was lovestruck, I tried to reason with you!”

Beverly punched the table in a way foreign to her. Totally out of character. She felt frustration seep into her tone. “I didn’t want to be chased down.”

“You broke it off without reason.”

“We were going nowhere!” she cried. “Damn it, Jack. I thought you were a nice guy but we were not suited for each other.”

“Is that the truth, doctor?”

“It is, commander!” she scowled feeling not only frustrated but embarrassed. How the hell do these things keep happening?

“Then you’re dismissed, DOC-tor!”

She felt her cheeks heat and was about to give him a strongly worded rebuke when she heard a voice behind her and a clearing of throats. Slowly turning she saw Picard and Shelby standing a few feet away. Everyone else in the lounge was staring. Guinan was nowhere to be seen.

“Shit,” whispered Beverly.

“Indeed, doctor,” Picard said dryly. “Both of you to my ready room immediately. Commander Shelby...”

“Right, captain. Come on you two, let’s go.”

Like two schoolchildren the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Security and Tactical Officer of the USS Enterprise were marched off by the ship’s first officer. Picard lingered and settled his gaze on the junior officer’s. “Ensign’s.”

The younger officer’s quickly averted their gaze. Picard left Ten Forward turning left and pressing the call button of the door there. When it opened he saw Guinan behind her desk.

“Thank you for calling, Guinan even if security might’ve been a better option,” he smiled but stopped seeing how she was bent over her desk. “Are you alright?”

“I feel something’s going to happen. Something bad.”

Picard put a hand on her shoulder making her look up. Her dark eyes were watery. “Guinan, I’ve never seen you like this.”

“Picard...Picard...you’re in danger.”

Picard frowned. As he was about to reply his badge chirped.

“Shelby to Picard...er...we’re waiting.”

He slapped the communicator his stern look returning. “Understood, Commander.”

He left the small office with a cold feeling in his chest.

“Two senior officers bickering like children!” Picard bellowed from behind his desk hands resting on it as if he could not trust them anywhere else. To one side Shelby had her hands behind her back with a bland expression on her face. A chastened Crusher and likewise chastened Howard were before the desk almost at attention. “Not only in a public space but in front of junior officer’s who not only respond to you as senior officers but as rolemodels.”

“Captain...”

“No, Jack not now!” Picard lurched to his feet. “I realise there is some history between the two of you but this is not the place for it. If neither of you can put your feelings behind you then I’ll have to take measures.”

“Transfer?” asked Beverly quietly.

“Yes,” Picard did not raise his voice perhaps as Beverly seemed so shocked. “Doctor, I cannot have my ship’s hierarchy disturbed by something that happened twenty years ago. I believe you understand.”

“Perfectly, Captain.”

“Jack?”

“I do, sir.”

“You’re both confined to quarters for the day. Get going.” Picard sat back down as they filed out. He then saw Shelby still standing by his desk. “Commander?”

“Sir...I’m amused.”

“You’ll join them if you laugh,” he warned her wagging a finger than sighed lowering his hand. “Maybe I overreacted confining them. It’s virtually grounding them.”

“Sir, you did what you thought best. They just need some time to think. Forgive me, sir but did you know them when they were an item?”

“No. I’ve known Jack since the late 2340’s when I took him on as an officer then my first officer on the Stargazer. Then...we parted after the incident.”

“What happened sir?”

“I’m not at liberty to discuss. That is all Commander.”

Shelby nodded stiffly heading to the door just as Data’s voice sounded on the intercom.

“Captain, we’ve received a distress signal from the New Providence colony on Jouret IV. They say they’re being attacked.”

Picard stiffened. “Set a course and engage maximum warp, Mr Data. All hands, red alert.”

He heard Shelby whisper to herself as they left the ready room.

“This is it!”

[continuing]

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Benedict   

Five/ Jouret IV

“Whatever attacked the colony has long gone,” reported Lieutenant Miles O’Brien filling in for Crusher at tactical. The Irishman’s seemingly bland tone seemed fitting for the mood. Everyone who was aware of the recent attacks knew this could be a Borg attack.

Picard stroking his chin thoughtfully nodded. “Mr Data, report?”

“The planet has been subject to a cataclysmic seismic disturbance as if something has carved the surface from orbit. I am detecting neutrino emissions between the surface and the atmosphere. Also there are no life forms on sensors of any description. It is as if New Providence is no longer there.”

“Commander Shelby form an away team. Extreme caution. Mr O’Brien, get me Starfleet Command –Admiral Hansen and patch it to my ready room.” As Shelby crossed to the turbolift with Data in tow Picard called out: “Good luck, Commander.”

Ten minutes later the away team materialised on the edge of a rocky plateau. Shelby and Data had been joined by the ‘grounded’ pair of Crusher and Howard as well as LaForge and two security officer’s.

“Where’s the colony, Data?”

“Directly ahead.”

The away team set off taking a few seconds to crest the plateau. As they did Shelby let out a gasp her foot slipping on the edge. Data grabbed an arm lifting her back.

“Thanks...thanks...Data.”

Ahead of them was a large starship sized crater if not bigger. It was as deep as it was wide with broken tendrils of metal sticking out at places.

“The colony is no more,” Data said matter-of-factly.

“Gods,” whispered Beverly. “The Borg?”

“I believe so, doctor.”

Beverly looked under her boot and pulled it away. Half covered in dust was a sign that clearly had been wrenched free during the attack.

‘Welcome to New Providence Colony, Population 22,047.’

She gulped and stared back at the crater.

“Jean-Luc, it’s good to see you.”

“And you too, Bill. This is my command crew, some of whom you know.”

The officer’s around the table nodded at the admiral who sat by the head of the table. He grinned slyly at Shelby. “Elizabeth.”

“Admiral, you’re looking well,” she told her old mentor.

Hansen’s smile faded. “The years are kinder to you,” he cleared his throat. “Let’s get down to business. The Borg?”

“Looks like it,” confirmed Shelby pleased that her former commander was straight to the point. For a moment her gaze went to Howard noticing how the CMO was staring at the desk. “Admiral, we should place the entire fleet on alert...”

She stopped at Picard’s expression and Hansen’s chuckling.

“I told you she was impulsive, Jean-Luc. Shelby you have to learn you don’t make those kind of decisions, yet.”

“She’s right though,” Picard said after a moment. “The Borg need to be stopped before they can reach Sector 001.”

“You’re assuming they’re in the area which I suppose they have to be.” Hansen clasped his hands leaning forward. “People, we’re facing the greatest threat to our existence since possibly the Earth Romulan-War or the Xindi. What Shelby and her cohorts have found out is that it’ll take a gargantuan weapon to stop these bastards and let’s face it, we don’t have such a weapon. I’m going to mobilise the fleet and if need be, launch a defensive attack when we find the Borg.”

“That’s where we come in,” Crusher said probably in place of Shelby who was noticeably sullen.

“Indeed, Mr Crusher,” Hansen recognised Jack from the Stargazer incident. “Jean-Luc how long do you think it’ll take to find the Borg?”

“May I assume we’ve been tasked with finding them?”

“Yes.”

“Three days,” Shelby said prompted by her CO’s look. “Admiral, do we engage?”

“Do what’s needed to stop them or delay them. Jean-Luc, this ship must not be lost. I’m not just saying that as an admiral but as someone who’s grown up with the name Enterprise. We were younger men you recall when Garrett lost the C and remember the morale...”

“Some say she’s just a name, Enterprise.”

“Name my Aunt Fanny!” Hansen snapped and drew his gaze around. “I’ll get in touch with the Klingon’s. Chancellor Kurn should help us.”

“What about the Romulan’s?” asked Jack.

“We could try but they will likely sit back and wait.” Hansen stood signalling the end of this meeting. Everyone else also stood and waited. “I’ll go back to the Milwaukee.”

Crusher went to the door preparing to escort the admiral back to the transporter. The grizzled admiral paused staring at the officer’s.

“You might be all that stands between the Borg and Earth. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”

After Hansen had gone Beverly let out her breath first. Shelby was scratching her blonde hair puzzled. “Something wrong, commander?”

“I just don’t like it. The Borg must be doing these random attacks to get our attention.”

“They’ve succeeded,” remarked Geordi with raised eyebrows.

“No, no...Well yes but what I mean is that they have to be trying to make contact with us.”

“You mean the Enterprise?” LaForge asked folding his arms.

“Yes.”

“Get out of town,” the engineer chuckled. “The Borg trying to make contact with this specific ship?”

“It makes sense after Sector J-25,” Shelby said and then added. “I’m your superior officer, Geordi, trust me.”

He recognised the playful tone and nodded. “I will. I’ll get to engineering in the meantime. If you don’t mind, captain.”

No one had noticed Picard had remained and not gone with Crusher and Hansen.

“Go ahead, chief. The rest of you dismissed.”

Beverly lingered by the door glancing over at Picard his feature shrouded in darkness. Then his voice came to her with a slight brightness to it.

“Something on your mind, doctor?”

“No. It can wait.”

Chief Medical Officer’s Log: supplemental

We have been in orbit of Jouret IV now for two days allowing for Shelby to make her scans and report. Admiral Hansen departed not long after the meeting. Since the discovery of the ‘Borg footprint’ there has been a noticeable change in mood in the crew. At least two have come to me reporting nervousness and I simply make a diagnosis of depression. I fear even I can’t cure nerves. No one knows about the Borg, no one knows anything at all and that is frightening. It’s the unknown that frighten us and indeed, the known unknowns. That would make sense some other time I’m sure...

“Beverly, Beverly, Beverly!”

Howard’s blue eyes flicked around her quarters. She was sure she had been interrupted by someone and it had not come from the intercom.

“Who’s there?”

The silence of the room was just as loud as her breathing. She ran a hand through her red hair and groaned. Fatigue...

Let the log show that all is well within sickbay and we can only wait for the dawn.

Beverly Howard, CMO.

“BEVERLY!”

The voice was so loud it made her fall over with shock. She hit her coffee table shattering the glass. Sitting in the debris she quickly got up dusting her backside off. She felt no blood but it hurt. Bruised.

“Who’s there?” she quaked.

Nothing but silence again. For a few minutes she tidied up her room cursing her luck then went to bed. As she slipped into unconsciousness she was sure she heard a crisp voice declare in a slightly bored tone:

“I wish I could turn you into a dog again!”

---

[continues]

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Benedict   

Six/ Jouret System

“Geordi!”

LaForge stuck his head out from behind an open panel adjacent to the warp core the pulsing blue reflecting on his face purple. He closed the panel with a thud. “Something I can do for you, doc?”

Howard walked up close to him rather than speak from the distance she was. LaForge dusted his hands off frowning slightly. “Doc?”

“I heard voices in my room last night.”

LaForge stifled a laugh. “Really?”

Howard frowned though it was a stern one as if doubting LaForge’s severity. “Yes, I did. I was by myself and I heard a voice clear as I can hear you or the damned core.”

“And what did these voices...no, voice, say to you?”

“My name over and over then something about turning me into a dog.”

“I don’t see what I can do...”

“You can check the computer can’t you? See if it’s the intercom acting up.”

LaForge groaned under his breath then to Beverly. “I guess.”

He went to the console in the middle of engineering leaning over it. “Computer run an analysis on the intercom system specifically relating to the quarters of Doctor Beverly Howard, ship’s CMO.”

“Processing.”

Beverly’s hands trembled from the coffee she had drunk when she woke. She had hoped that she had dreamt the voice but she could remember it clearly.

She felt as if she knew it.

“Analysis complete. Intercom system is working at full efficiency.”

“Does this include the past 24 hours?” LaForge asked.

“Affirmative. The intercom system has been working at peak efficiency since the last check on Stardate 5...”

“Thanks,” Beverly snapped then smiled apologetically to LaForge. “Sorry for wasting your time.”

“Maybe you should see Dr Selar.”

“Why?”

“Well, she is acting counsellor.”

“Thanks but no thanks,” Beverly then smiled again. “I do appreciate your candour Geordi.”

“No problem.”

As he watched her stride to the corridor he raised his eyebrows then shook his head. She did have a good smile even if she was crazy.

Beverly proceeded to sickbay just as red alert klaxons sounded. Forgetting last night she began snapping out orders.

“Barclay, have the biobeds ready. Ogawa, I need the hyposprays and trolleys prepped.”

She went to the wall monitor activating the emergency settings so that when and if casualties arrived she would be ready.

“All hands this is Shelby. Whilst leaving the Jouret system we detected a ship on long range sensors. This ship has now come to intercept us. As I have just informed Starfleet, we have engaged the Borg.”

The last four words sent a shiver down Beverly’s spine. As she turned to help Ogawa with the trolleys Shelby continued.

“All hands to battlestations. Good luck everybody. Shelby out.”

Beverly and her staff soon were standing by beds feeling quite silly. They were oblivious to the communication going on between Picard and the Borg who had identified him by name. It was ten minutes before the ship was hit.

The shaking was immense as if the Enterprise, like the first to bear the name, was in the grip of a Gods hand. Ogawa fell over, Barclay staggered over to her. New klaxons sounded.

When the shaking stopped it was so abrupt that Barclay joined Ogawa on the floor. Beverly ignored them tapping her badge.

“Bridge this is sickbay...”

“Not now, doctor!” Shelby’s voice snapped. “Data, alternate phaser fire. Jack, follow Data’s lead. Helm get us the hell out of here!”

Moments later the doors to sickbay swooshed open. LaForge’s deputy, Armstrong, led the way with the arm of another engineer over her shoulders. Behind them came a dozen others all from engineering. Beverly and her staff rushed forward to help.

“What’s happened?”

“The Borg pierced the hull right down the engineering section,” Armstrong helped Beverly carry the wounded engineer to a bed. “We lost a bunch of people, not just from engineering.”

Horrified but masking her reaction Beverly checked the wall monitor seeing the ensign’s vitals appear. “Third degree burns. I need thirty CC’s of cordrazine!”

She noticed Armstrong hanging around. “Go, lieutenant!”

“Sir, I...”

“You’ll do more use out of sickbay then here. He’s going to be taken care off, now go!”

Armstrong fled leaving Beverly and her staff to tend to the wounded.

Sparks flew again but not as bad as the first attack. LaForge arrived on the bridge dodging the small shower. His uniform was singed down the front. Jack saw the engineer and said over his shoulder. “Bad?”

“I lost twenty people and the rest are either injured or scattered trying to make repairs. Captain, I’ll take engineering from here.”

“Very good, Mr LaForge. Data, anything around that we can use to our advantage?”

“The Sato nebula ten degrees to port and half a light year distant.”

“Ensign, set course maximum impulse.”

“Borg cube closing to 44,000 metres,” Jack Crusher intoned. “Shit, 22,000 metres.”

“Language warning, Jack,” Shelby said smiling ruefully. She flicked a lock of hair off her forehead. Damn the torpedoes...

The nebula grew in size filling the screen with its blue and purple brilliance. Light flickered here and there the representation of the intense energy inside.

“We’re inside, captain,” the helmsman reported. “Cutting speed to one quarter impulse.”

Picard nodded. “Good. Take us as deep inside as we can. Mr Data?”

“The Borg are holding outside of the nebula. They are making regular sensor sweeps.”

“Won’t be long before they come in,” Crusher told Picard.

“Acknowledged. Stand down from battlestations, red alert is to be maintained.”

Beverly Howard took a breath then shoved her fore and second finger into the wound. She felt the muscle, felt something pulse against her fingers –the artery, had to be the artery. With her left hand she lifted the scalpel dropping the tip into the wound she made a quick incision handing the scalpel back to Ogawa. “I need the fuser.”

“Right, here it is doctor.”

Beverly lowered the needle-thin tip of the device into the wound then took away her right fingers now coated in blood. Leaning in close she studied her handiwork as she sealed artery’s rupture. Handing the fuser back she asked for a suction device. This she used to get rid of the excess blood. Taking everything from the wound she sealed it up. Bloodshot blue eyes went to the monitor above the biobed. “He’ll make it.”

“Blood pressure’s weak,” Ogawa added.

“It should recover in a few hours. Keep an eye on him.”

Howard swung away from the bed taking in the confused scene of sickbay. Most of the engineering staff had been treated yet they had been placed –if not on biobeds- where was convenient. She rubbed her hands on her uniform before going round to make sure everyone was fine. News filtered down that the ship had gone into a nebula. At first she did not see the reason but realised as long as they were keeping the Borg here it would give Starfleet more time to prepare.

Two hours later after letting her staff go off in shifts to get changed she went to her quarters. Undressed she sat on the edge of her bed staring at her bloodstained tunic. It was not the first time she had done this yet every time felt as bad as the first. Shaking her head she quickly got changed into a fresh uniform putting the soiled one into the replicator where it vanished. Modern technology, she thought. Giving a quick look at the nebula through her windows she left. She passed few crew on her way back to sickbay. The red alert lights still pulsed. When she got back to sickbay she saw Shelby once again.

“If I didn’t know better number one, I’d say you were hooked to sickbay.”

“I wanted to check up,” Shelby murmured focused on the injured. “How bad is it?”

“Bad enough. I haven’t lost anyone from the injured but we came close on a couple of occasions. How bad is it upstairs?”

“We’re hiding but we’re given a chance to think of a way of holding up the Borg long enough...well, I hope we can stop them completely. I don’t understand their preoccupation for the captain.”

“Maybe we can beam over and stop them,” Beverly suggested offhand heading to her office. She was unaware Shelby had followed her until the first officer’s voice boomed in her office. “That’s it! Doctor, you’re a genius.”

“I wouldn’t push it that far, but why?”

“We beam over. We find a way to stop them on the ship. What we remember of their ship form J-25 is enough but not enough. There will be a way on that cube for us to hinder their progress.” Beverly caught the sheen in Shelby’s eyes.

“So how do you do it? Beaming over would reveal our position.”

“We wait until we’re found,” Shelby shrugged. “Then we do what we have to.”

“Of course,” agreed Beverly. Why did she have this sinking feeling...?

[continues]

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Benedict   

Seven/ Enterprise-D

“Thought you’d be here.”

“You’re following me again, Jack?”

Lieutenant Commander Jack Crusher sighed as he stood by Beverly’s table in an otherwise empty Ten Forward. “Come on kid, how about a truce?”

“Fine. Have a seat.”

The tactical and security chief sat opposite her noticing how she traced the mug of coffee with her forefinger. “You used to do that when we dated.”

“I’ve always done that.”

“Yeah but you did it with me so therefore I considered it exclusive,” he smiled at her in the semi-darkness. “I did love you, Beverly even if things changed.”

“I...well, you did find someone else eventually.”

“Eventually,” he sighed. He stared out into the nebula as if into the mists of time. “We did divorce, Bev. It’s not like it was perfect. We had Leslie but that was a disaster. She ended up with custody of the kid.”

“What does your wife do?”

“Teaches at the Academy. She does now, when we met and until the divorce she was fighter pilot.”

“Interesting.”

Jack smiled slyly. “Yes, it is but this is the modern age isn’t it. What about you? You’re really serious that there was no one else?”

“There were others Jack but no one serious. Maybe one day I’ll marry and have kids but not now.”

The doors to the lounge silently parted letting in Captain Picard who wandered up to the windows by the other end. For a moment he just stood there then he started as he saw Crusher and Beverly. With a simple nod he walked away to the bar sliding onto a stool. Guinan appeared and the two started talking.

Beverly turned her gaze back to Jack. “So what did happen on the Stargazer?”

He dropped his eyes to the coffee. “You’re really determined...”

“Jack, you’ve been asking me all kinds of questions. I’m a bit worried about you. You should be commanding this ship but you’re still a lieutenant commander...”

“I was with Jean-Luc on a planet conducting negotiations. The aliens turned hostile, killed two of our away team. We got into a firefight and I took out a couple of the bastards. Beaming out we tried to get out of orbit but the Ferengi showed up. Turned out they were allies of these people and so they cornered us. The Stargazer was not quite a match and we lost shields. Picard tried this manoeuvre out on them that gave us a brief advantage. We then had to abandon ship. Somehow we made it long enough before help arrived. A tribunal was called back on Earth and they tried pinning it on Jean-Luc. They said he unnecessarily jeopardised both the negotiations and his ship. I stepped in and took the bullet.”

Beverly swallowed. “You took all the blame for what had happened?”

“As first officer I felt I had to. He tried talking me out of it but by then I had told the admiral and so they landed on me like a Klingon. I got busted down to lieutenant and kicked out of the command track. It contributed to the divorce really. I spent the intervening years on various ships until Jean-Luc did me a favour. He asked me to be his security chief and got me my extra pip. He almost lost command just trying to get me onboard.”

Beverly glanced at Picard still talking to the bartender and looked at him in a new light.

“He risked everything for you?”

“Mostly.”

“Oh, Jack...”

“Save it, Beverly. I’m trying to move on from it.”

She leant back studying him. “You’re thinking I’m all kind of callous?”

“No...”

“But you have. Damn it, Jack relationships don’t always work out. Ours didn’t so why should I be any different?”

“Just leave it, Beverly,” he said quite hollowly. “I want to move on.”

“If you...”

Three bright flashes of light lit up the room followed by the gentle vibration of detonations. The red alert klaxons howled having been silent for all of a day. Picard was on his feet as more flashes lit up the nebula.

“Report.”

“The Borg is detonating concussion missiles, sir.” Shelby’s voice was quite firm as if she was waiting for this. “They’re trying to get our range. Judging by their proximity I’d say we have ten minutes.”

“Very well. Sound battlestations,” Picard began walking to the doors. “Jack, I need you on the bridge.”

“Right behind you.”

“Doctor Howard...”

“I’ll be in sickbay, sir.”

She sighed as she walked out the other days. It was all go.

The Enterprise burst from the nebula at speed quickly ramping up to warp. Like a dog chasing a car the Borg obliged to follow.

“Warp 3.”

“Warp 9, ensign,” Picard tugged on his tunic dropping a hand to his armrest he tapped his PADD. “Course zero one two-two-three mark two.”

“Aye, sir. Adjusting course and speed.”

“Borg increasing to warp 9 also,” Data confirmed. “Our engines will shut down at warp 9.9999 after ten minutes, captain.”

“We’ll take the chance, Data. Jack, ready aft torpedoes. Two random braces.”

“Sir, I’m ready to go aboard,” Shelby said. “We can do our business in at least twenty minutes.”

“Patience, Elizabeth,” Picard glanced up at the screen which showed the Borg cube gaining distance. “Speed of Borg cube?”

“Warp 9.9,” Data reported. “We have just passed Warp 9.2”

“Increase to maximum. Jack, fire!”

Photon torpedoes blazed from between the ship’s nacelles drifting into the Borg cube with no recognisable results.

“Report, Mr Data.”

“No damage, captain. Minimal contact at best. Borg now at Warp 9.9999 and holding. They are using only 70% of their drive capability.”

“Merde,” whispered Picard rising to his feet slowly. Gathering himself swiftly he barked. “Distance to Federation space?”

“At present speed ten point four light years.”

Picard pointed at Shelby. “Commander, take your away team. You have twenty minutes.”

“Aye sir. Mr Data, Crusher you’re with me. Ensign, inform Doctor Howard she’s needed.”

Picard sank back into his command chair slowly stroking his angular chin.

“Mr LaForge.”

“Yes sir?”

“Give me everything you got to engines.”

“Aye, aye sir.”

The Borg cube was like a crypt. That was how Beverly Howard thought of it as she took shape on its brightly lit floor. The away team had materialised in a rough plus shape with each member aiming a phaser down a corridor. Two of the corridors were brimming with Borg alcoves. Beverly holstered her phaser as did Data who produced a tricorder.

“The area is a regeneration chamber. There are power sources noticeable from several directions.”

“The nodes,” remarked Shelby. “Jack?”

“Yeah, I remember them. Those things that keep the power going.”

“Something like that,” Shelby gestured with her phaser past Beverly. “Lead on doc.”

Beverly felt her heart quicken as she walked on past the apparently immobile Borg. Alien faces marred by machinery stared back at her. Some had no eyes just optical implants and others were both organic and cybernetic.

Picard’s voice sounded loud in the chamber: “Away team, you have fifteen minutes.”

“Sir, we’re approaching what must be the maturation chamber.”

“Acknowledged but we’re closing in on UFP space. Enterprise out.”

“Data,” Shelby began excitedly. “Record everything you’re seeing both on the tricorder an in your memory.”

“Acknowledged, commander,” Data said with a slight tilt of the head. “I am now recording.”

A node drifted into view hanging from the ceiling. As it did though two Borg trooped towards the away team. Jack and Shelby trained their phasers on the drones which simply went past Beverly then the others.

“I guess they don’t like redheads,” breathed the doctor.

“Commander, the energy generated from these nodes is immense.”

“How immense, Data?”

“This one alone controls a kilometre of ship.”

Beverly chuckled. “Maybe we need to be a mosquito and make them scratch the itch.”

Shelby rolled her eyes. “Not now, doc.”

“She’s right,” Jack said. “Libby, we need to destroy the node. It won’t stop them completely but they’ll respond and we can do some damage!”

Shelby shook her head. “And risk being assimilated.”

“Where’s your sense of adventure?” Jack tilted his phaser back. “Data?”

“The Doctor and Mr Crusher are correct even if the analogy passes me by.”

Shelby stepped in front of Howard eyeing the triangular device above her.

“Ready on my count. Make them hit otherwise we’ll be humming a new tune soon.”

Jack and Shelby aimed their phasers then fired as one. The beams struck but did nothing.

Exchanging a silent look the two adjusted their settings then fired again. The beams smashed the node leaving it a sizzling ruin. Beverly gasped as ahead of her four drones dropped off an upper level in front of her.

“Beverly!” shouted Jack firing again this time catching a drone in the face.

Beverly darted up the corridor, Data grabbed her arm forcing her behind him.

“Stay there please, Doctor.”

Two more nodes were destroyed but a fourth was out of the question. The formation tightened as drones approached from all angles.

“Libby, I don’t like these odds!”

“Ditto!” Shelby slapped her badge. “Enterprise, emergency beam out!”

As soon as they materialised on the starship they heard the battlestations klaxon wail.

By the time they got to the bridge the Enterprise had come from warp to match the speed of the now crippled Borg cube.

“Fire all weapons,” Picard was ordering. He nodded at Shelby as she walked past. “Report.”

“We took out three nodes...”

“If I may commander,” Data interjected, “the Borg will be up to full power within the hour.”

“Not a moment to loose. Hit them and hit them hard.”

Beverly gripped onto the armrests of the third chair as the starship swung in dodging green beams that lashed out like tentacles of an octopus. Even though she could not feel it she was sure she was matching the Enterprise’s weaves and dives. Data’s fingers flew as a blur whilst the ensign kept her eyes on her console.

“Captain, Borg up to 40% on those damaged systems,” LaForge called.

“Our engines, Geordi?”

“Fifty per-cent. We overcooked the core a bit.”

“Get on it, fast!”

The Enterprise completed its approaching run, lashed home some more fire then passed below the cube. The immense hull soared above them letting Jack fire dorsal phasers. The Borg cube smashed down driving beams into the saucer. Everyone was jolted forward, only Shelby lost her position falling to the deck on her knees.

“Borg have us!” shouted Crusher above the roar of noise.

“Pulling us in!” barked Picard.

“No, sir –carving up the saucer from decks 3 to 6, near...the fore...”

“Abandon those decks.”

Shelby slid onto her chair drawing her knees together twisting her monitor to face her. “Sir, we have hull breaches.”

“Helm, full reverse. Geordi, I need everything to the engines again.”

“Engines at 110% as it is, sir. She’ll fly apart.”

“Geordi...”

“125%,” the engineer called out a moment later. The ship shook as if she was in her final moments. Lights flickered, a metallic shriek sounded. Data’s hands flew across his console in a blur.

“I’ve just lost tactical,” Jack shouted.

“Firing phasers in three second bursts then four second bursts,” Data reported. “Firing a wide beam. A thin beam. Random sequence engaged.”

The shaking suddenly stopped provoking Picard into immediate action. He went to standing in three quick steps forefinger extended. “Helm, warp 9 engage!”

Data glanced over his shoulder. “Mr Crusher, you have tactical back. My apologies.”

“No worries, Data.”

“Data, the Borg.”

“Captain, the Borg are pursuing they are now up to 60% efficiency. I believe the Borg will continue to pursue us until they have achieved their objective.”

Somehow, that didn’t please anyone.

---

[continues]

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Benedict   

Eight/ Sector 112-B

Chief Medical Officer’s log:

The ship has lost the Borg in an asteroid field. According to Data the Borg will pulverise the field in a matter of hours. Meanwhile, Geordi’s trying to get the engines online. We lost a further forty people when the Borg carved the saucer up. Shelby and Data almost have an idea on how to stop the Borg long enough if not destroy them. Crew’s mood is tense but we’re in this together.

Beverly studied her tricorder intensely reading the screen a few inches away cradled on the palm of her hand. “The readings suggest that our lieutenant has a bruise.”

Barclay sighed aiming a desperate jammer at Lieutenant Armstrong sat on the biobed adjacent. “I’m s-sorry, lieutenant. I didn’t...”

“You reprogrammed the tricorder to deal with triage,” Beverly closed the tricorder putting a hand on Barclay’s arm. “You need to loosen up a bit Reg. Nothing to worry about.”

Armstrong smoothed her arms. The assistant engineer looked rattled.

“It’s nothing to worry about, Reg. I’ll be fine.”

“You need some rest, lieutenant.” Howard said quite firmly.

“Hell with that, doc. I’m needed below decks. We lost a lot of people!”

“Rest, lieutenant. That’s an order. Five hours.”

“Fat chance,” Armstrong stormed out of sickbay hands clenched. Beverly went to put the tricorder down on a trolley.

“Doctor, she needs...”

“I know Reg, leave it. She won’t be the last one,” Beverly folded her arms across her chest and pursed her lips. The mood on the ship was bearing down on her quite hard. It was like a metal blanket. Unfolding her arms she went around the sickbay assessing her patients. This done she retreated to her office holding her head in her hands.

“Beverly.”

She lowered her hands looking around the office seeing nothing. She blinked her eyelids feeling like sandpaper. Not again, she thought. “Alyssa?”

Nothing. Beverly picked up the holo-photo of her grandmother. “What’s going on?”

“You’re talking to yourself is what,” Beverly’s grandmother said from the photo.

Beverly shrieked dropping the photo crashing to her feet. “What the hell!”

“Doctor, doctor, please,” the voice came from all around her. “I’ll reveal myself to you in time. Really, you’re such a drama queen.”

The room fell silent, Beverly hurried out of the office and into sickbay breathing hard. Reg gave her a curious look. “Doctor, are you alright?”

“I have no idea,” she said. “Where’s the stimulants?”

“The drawers by your office door,” he provided. Barclay looked on as she took some stimulant to keep herself going. It had better be her imagination that was playing tricks on her. The whole stress of facing assimilation. The whole Federation at risk...

When the ship vibrated she knew it was trouble.

“They’ve found us,” Beverly said to Barclay then snapped into action. “I want medikits ready, triage kits the lot. We might need to get throughout the ship.”

“Understood,” Barclay hurried to do what she said. Beverly checked her pulse finding it racing. Willing herself to calm down she went to get a bag.

“Bridge to sickbay, med team required immediately!”

Shelby’s voice sounded strained. More so than usual. “On my way.”

Grabbing the bag Barclay handed at her she made for the bridge. The ship continued to shake as she ran. Reaching the bridge she went straight to the junior officer lying by Jack’s station, Jack himself kneeling by her. “The Borg beamed over. Right through the shields, must’ve caught a gap.”

Beverly pulled a tricorder out of the bag running it over the ensign. “She’s got concussion, fractured jaw...”

As she spoke Shelby’s voice sounded out of sight beyond the arched station.

“Stay with them, Data. They can’t get away.”

“I am attempting to match speed. However, the cube is increasing to warp 9.9999.”

“Everything to the engines!”

“We already have the engines at max, commander.”

Beverly realised she had not heard Picard. When she lifted her head she saw Shelby in the centre seat. She also saw the helmsman slumped over their console.

“Keep the ensign’s head where it is, Jack,” she went down to the helm. Feeling the helmsman’s neck she winced. “Dead.”

“Borg beamed right in front of her smashed her across the neck,” Shelby said. “One more beamed behind Jack, the ensign got it when she tried to stop the thing. The third...”

Beverly turned seeing properly Shelby’s messed hair as if she had just woken up.

“The captain?”

“They took him.”

At the engineering station LaForge was trying to keep the engines and indeed the whole ship going. “We can hold this speed for a while but if they go any faster we have ten minutes.”

“Data, where does the course take the cube?”

“Directly into Sector 001.”

“Earth,” Beverly said unnecessarily.

“Take a seat, doc or get out the way.”

Beverly got out of the way moving back to the ensign. “Transporter room lock onto my signal and beam me direc...”

“Forget it, doc. You’re coming with me.” Shelby said standing. “Transporter room lock onto Ensign Gilmore’s signal and beam her out. Jack, Beverly I need you with me.”

“Hell you’re going,” Jack said standing as the ensign vanished. “You’re the senior officer now, Libby. Your place is here on the bridge.”

“Lieutenant Commander Crusher is right,” Data joined. “With Captain Picard hostage you are now the senior officer. Should you too be taken or killed the chain of command would be in jeopardy.”

Shelby hissed through her teeth. “One day, Data just one day you’ll help me.”

“I do not...”

“Enough!” Shelby waved a hand. “Data you command the away team. Just you three. Get the captain back and try to disable the cube again.”

“We’ll try,” Jack nodded. “Come on gang, let’s go.”

“We have beamed in to where the captain beamed,” Data announced studying his tricorder screen. “His communicator badge is ten metres away.”

“Is he moving?” asked Jack drawing his phaser. Beverly noted that Jack was thumbing the setting to kill.

“Unknown. The signal is being interrupted by the plexus beacons.”

“Let’s get going then.”

Beverly felt a shiver again as they went through the cube. She walked behind the two not drawing her phaser. This area was devoid of regeneration chambers though she did notice nodes at the start and end of the corridor. Maybe it was her imagination but the floor felt like it was pulsing in time to her heartbeats. A few seconds passed before Data stopped them.

“His signal ends here.”

Nothing around them but walls with light shining through cracks. Data holstered his tricorder crouching to open a drawer. It was a lucky guess for there lying limp was the captain’s uniform.

“He’s either naked someplace or...”

“Assimilated,” Jack finished Beverly’s sentence. “Data, can we hit the nodes again?”

“We can but it will attract the Borg once more. I do not believe this is a correct course of action.”

“Time’s against us. We’ll have to do it whether we find the captain or not.”

Beverly had her tricorder in hand. Adjusting its settings she nodded. “Got some human signs.”

“Humans? More than one?” asked Jack frowning.

“Looks like it.”

The thought that humans had been assimilated already was frightening to the CMO. Maybe they were some of the Enterprise crew taken at J-25 or maybe the crew of a ship from decades past. Some poor souls who never had a chance to say goodbye.

“Lead on doc, we’ll be right behind you.”

Beverly was too worried to frown at Jack though she knew Jack wasn’t making a play for her. The three made off across the section following a maze like design to get to three decks of regeneration chambers that towered over them. Some of the human cyborgs could be seen clearly. “None of these are the captain,” she said.

“Thank God.”

Beverly wandered down the deck trying to avoid the fact that to her right was a railing that seemed to protect her against a sheer drop. Checking the sensor readings she shook her head. “The captain’s bio signs are nowhere to be seen. It might be the sensor interference.”

Data had his tricorder back out. “I confirm. There is no sign of the captain.”

“Great,” Jack Crusher peered up at the rank of Borg. “I guess we...”

Enterprise to away team. Your time is running out. Five minutes then we’re beaming you out and firing everything.”

“Understood,” Jack checked his phaser aiming it at a node. “Everybody...”

Beverly folded her tricorder pulling her phaser out. The three stood together firing as one at the node. The node exploded showering sparks towards the chambers. Turning as one the three fired on a node across the other side of the chambers. Light flickered ominously as the Borg tried to restore power.

“That third one across the valley,” Jack ordered.

Their beams scythed across the open space hitting the node side on. The explosion sounded louder than the others. Darkness settled over the away team.

“Away team you did it. Don’t know what but you did something. Borg has slowed to warp 5 and decreasing. We’re about four light years from Sector 001. Prepare for beamout.”

“Jack, look!”

Red lights began to flick about in the darkness nearby followed by the metallic thudding of feet on decking.

Jack pulled Beverly behind him. “Data, you cover the other side.”

Jack fired cutting down one drone then another before a third kept coming. Data ran past Jack flinging the drone over the railing then punching a fourth. In the darkness all that could be seen were red lights dancing. Partial lighting returned to show Data standing amidst a few drones.

“Data, let’s go...,” Jack trailed off looking past the android. Data followed his stare. At the end of the corridor stood three drones. Behind them sidewards on was a fourth with a bald head as deathly white as Data’s own ‘skin’.

“Jean-Luc!” shouted Jack stepping forward. An arm from Data held him. “Data, let me go that’s the captain!”

“That is not the captain,” Data said simply.

Picard slowly turned clad in black from foot to neck. Half his face was covered in metal just like all Borg. The right eye was now a red light that flashed past the drones at the away team.

“Resistance...is...futile,” Picard intoned sounding like Picard but not. “You will be assimilated...Jack.”

Data tapped his badge. “Away team to Enterprise. Beam us out.”

They were beamed directly to the bridge. On screen the cube was trying to evade the Enterprise moving towards the open stars. The fallen helmsman had been removed in their absence. Shelby stood with a slight smile.

“Well done. Did you find the captain?”

“Kind of,” Beverly murmured. Shelby’s gaze followed Jack to his console.

“Jack?”

“He’s become a Borg. They...assimilated him, Libby.”

“What? The captain a Borg?”

“Yes,” Data confirmed already at his console. “Commander, at present speed the cube will enter Sector 001 in four hours fifteen minutes. It seems that with the captain onboard they now are determined on reaching the sector. We can overtake to join the fleet.”

“No, we stay here,” Shelby said trying to get her head round what had happened. She returned to the centre seat crossing her legs. “We need to figure a way out to cripple or destroy the cube.”

“You can’t take the cube out with the captain onboard!” protested Jack.

“I can and I will if it means saving billions of lives.”

“Libby...”

“Jack, so help me I know what you mean but I have to do my duty. Captain Picard would want that.” Shelby tugged on her tunic. “Let’s get thinking shall we?”

--

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Benedict   

Nine/ Enterprise

“We’re going to hold the line when you get here, Elizabeth. Ships are coming together.”

“Understood, sir. We’re going to try and cripple the cube then get Captain Picard back.”

“Do what you can,” Hansen smiled gruffly. “We’re counting on you but in light of what has happened I’m giving you a battlefield commission. Congratulations, Captain Shelby.”

“Sir...”

“You need a number one, I was thinking of sending Riker back.”

Shelby’s reaction caught attention largely as she seemed to be struck by a bolt. Beverly sat opposite her noticed the cobalt blue eyes flash. “Sir, as CO?”

“Perhaps. He is your senior in terms of rank,” Hansen waved a hand. “That can wait. Right now we’re forming a defensive line at Wolf 359. Here we’ll make our stand. Hansen out.”

Shelby spun her chair about looking down the line of her senior staff. Taking a breath she launched. “Data I’m promoting you to commander. You’ll be my first officer but I want you stay on conn as I need you there.” Data’s stiff nod was in character. Anyone else might have reacted by smiling. “Geordi, how’s engineering looking?”

“Better than before. The hull breach has been sealed but it’s temporary. My crew and I are working on keeping the warp core going.”

“Data, the Borg cube?”

Data stood going to the wall-side monitor. “The cube shows 30% efficiency. It is my belief that we took out a critical part of the system or we have simply given them course to worry.”

“How soon before they’re back up and running?”

“Two hours.”

“Not a hard a blow as we think,” Jack said. “Libby, we need to hurry.”

“Gee, thanks Jack and there’s me thinking we needed to slow down!” Shelby stood hands on desk. “Stations. Dr Howard, remain please.”

Beverly lingered waiting until everyone had gone. “Co-Captain?”

“I need some trioxin can you get some to the bridge?”

“That’ll have you high as a kite, captain. I don’t advise you...”

“Noted.” Shelby sat down heavily. “Captain’s gone, Riker could be back and I’m all alone. If Mac were here he’d tell me I was being human.”

“That’s a bad thing?”

“Mackenzie Calhoun is a Xenexian. Being human isn’t what it should be to him.”

“You were hard on Jack...”

“We know each other well enough to know what we mean,” Shelby fixed Beverly with a frank look. “Weren’t you like that with him?”

“No,” the doctor replied sadly. “I wasn’t.”

Captain’s log:

Commanders LaForge and Data have devised a plan by using the deflector to launch an intense beam at the cube. It is their belief that it will be enough to destroy the cube. It also runs the risk of destroying Enterprise. The loss of Captain Picard resonates but with the cube crippled still we can hold onto hope of getting him back. Hence, my plan: recover the captain and destroy the cube before it can repair itself and attack Earth.

Elizabeth Shelby commanding

Shelby’s hands flew across the console of the shuttlecraft Jefferies feeling the engines come online vibrating through the deck. Next to her Jack Crusher nodded his head.

“Warp core online, engines good to go.”

Jeffries to bridge. Ready to go.”

“Data here. Launch cleared. Please note that there is a field of deflector energy in place as we are preparing the weapon.”

“Good,” Shelby hit the impulse engines lifting the shuttle into the air swinging it about. Behind the two Beverly held onto her chest. “Bit bumpy, doc?”

“The dampeners must be down.”

“No,” Jack said with a wink.

Shelby swung the shuttle out over the nacelles lifting up into the air riding the deflector energy like a surfer would a wave. The cube hung a few hundred thousand metres away appearing dead. “This had better work.”

“Distance to cube is 90,000 metres.”

“Here goes nothing,” Shelby slapped the console. The Jeffries launched into full impulse reacting as if stung. Seconds later the Enterprise surged past firing on the cube. The cube reacted by sending out tentative flickers of green. “Enterprise report.”

“Our shields are holding. It is a probing defence...”

“Data?” Shelby snapped noticing that Data never stopped mid-sentence.

“The Borg are focusing on a specific section. Deck fifteen aft by our impulse engines. Shields weakening.”

Shelby grunted then looked at Jack. “Picard.”

The cube loomed before them casting a shadow or at least it felt that way. Beverly pulled on Shelby’s chair as she stood. “I don’t like this.”

“If Picard has been assimilated, Jack, we’re in trouble.”

“He won’t know we’ll carry out this plan,” Jack shouted as the shuttle went through the Borg’s shielding.

“Data to Shelby. Shields gone around our port impulse...”

“Data!”

Enterprise’s port engine just went down. It’s blown out three decks in the immediate vicinity!” Jack looked up at Beverly seeing the colour drain from her face. “Beverly get seated, now!”

The cube turned its focus on the Jeffries. One beam of energy knocked it aside. Howard slammed into her chair holding on for dear life. Shelby swung the shuttle into the spin. “I’ve got engines- returning to Enterprise.”

As they turned the starship came into view listing to port.

Time was running out. The cube advanced on them as they tried to flee. Just as Shelby was giving up hope the three were beamed out. Seconds later the shuttle was obliterated as the cube swept onwards. Materialising on the bridge Beverly went straight to Jack’s replacement who was holding his arm. “What happened?”

“Debris from the hit.”

Jack and Shelby gave a cursory glance over the rear-monitor detailing the ship. Bright red filled the aft quarter of the saucer. “Damage report, Data.”

“The impulse engine has weakened structural integrity in the saucer. If we were to launch our weapon it might destroy the saucer. If this was Captain Picard’s work then he knew just where to hit.”

“Casualties?” asked Beverly leaving the lieutenant.

“Twenty dead,” Data said simply.

Shelby went to the central chair. “Geordi, this is Shelby. Activate the deflector. How long will it take to ready?”

“Ten minutes at best.”

“Make it so.”

Beverly sat in the vacant first officer’s seat. “Are you seriously going to destroy the cube, captain or not?”

Shelby fixed her stare on the viewscreen. “I believe I will. I have to.”

“Captain Picard would try...”

“I know Picard better than you do and he’d want us to try and stop the Borg whatever the cost. I’d rather die than billions on Earth and the Federation.”

“Okay,” Beverly leant back folding her arms. After a minute she stood. “I’ll be in sickbay...”

“Captain,” Jack interrupted. “Message from the cube.”

“On screen,” Shelby rose to her feet hands on hips.

There were gasps as Picard appeared flanked by drones except he was a drone. He was as the away team had seen him. He was staring fixedly ahead above the camera.

“I am Locutus of Borg.”

Shelby willed herself to keep a straight face rather than one of horror. His voice sounded like the Borg. Full of voices rather than one. Behind her Jack could not look. By the first officer’s chair Beverly clenched her hands.

“I am Captain Elizabeth Shelby of the...”

“Federation Starship Enterprise NCC-1701-D, Galaxy class built 2363 Utopia Planitia shipyards. Present commander is in fact Jean-Luc Picard born in LaBarre France...”

“What do you want?” Shelby said loudly. “We can work together. Give us Captain Picard back.”

“The being you knew as Picard is no more there is now Locutus. Locutus who will serve as emissary of the Borg to your peoples where you will service us.”

“Over my dead body.”

Locutus stepped closer to the viewer which now zoomed to focus in on his face.

"I am Locutus...of Borg. Resistance...is futile. Your life, as it has been...is over. From this time forward...you will service...us...”

Shelby felt her blood run cold felt the chill down her spine as Locutus, her former captain repeated and added:

“Resistance is futile...Number One.”

“Libby...,” said Jack warningly lifting his head to focus on the blonde rather than the man who had been his friend. The red eye flicked straight at the viewer, at Jack.

“You know we can defeat you, Jack. We have your weaknesses.”

Beverly’s face paled, she looked up at Jack seeing his go red. She knew the two had been best friends. If it hadn’t been for Jean-Luc he’d still be...

“Mr Crusher!” Shelby snapped turning to head for her chair. She reached it in a couple of strides slamming her backside onto it then raising a hand.

“Mr Crusher...” the hand dropped, “Fire.”

---

On hiatus

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Of all the places you had to call a break to this :ohmy: :ohmy: :ohmy:

Tell you what, that's one hell of a first mission for our erstwhile doctor. Another fine balance of drama and frantic action. This one's looking like a cracker. :thumbsup2:

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Benedict   

Of all the places you had to call a break to this :ohmy: :ohmy: :ohmy:

Tell you what, that's one hell of a first mission for our erstwhile doctor. Another fine balance of drama and frantic action. This one's looking like a cracker. :thumbsup2:

I'm glad that this appears to be going well. I didn't intend on pretty much re-writing BOBW but hopefully I'm doing it differently enough to stay interesting. Just have to hope it continues to grow well.

my thanks as always.

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Benedict   

Ten/ USS Enterprise, Sector 009

Beverly, indeed everyone, felt the deck vibrate violently as if the Enterprise was about to give birth to a comet. The lights flickered, the bridge darkened for a moment before the deflector fired.

It had all taken a second yet felt longer.

On screen Locutus vanished to be replaced by an image of the cube. The deflector beam struck squarely amidships or what passed as the middle on a Borg Cube. The shaking continued as the beam drilled further against the cube. Lights began to fail, consoles darkened.

“Harder!” shouted Shelby. “More power to the deflector.”

“We risk burning out the engines as well as weapons,” Data informed her his voice level in spite of the shaking. Beverly felt her chest go cold as if she was about to throw up.

“Libby!” Jack cried. “We need to give it up!”

“No, I won’t let them go.”

The cube was turning as if the beam was not even there.

“Increase the beam.”

LaForge’s voice rasped, this caused by the static on the line. “We need...power...failing.”

“Warp core containment is at its minimum. If we do not desist the ship will explode.”

“Damn you Data,” Shelby got to her feet. “Fire again.”

The beam increased in strength but the cube still was moving off.

“Coolant leak, engineering.”

The beam failed on its own with no help from anyone on the bridge or engineering. Main power went seconds later. Before the viewscreen flickered off the Cube made the jump to warp.

“No damage done,” Data said as his console went black.

“Emergency lighting,” Shelby ordered. The red lights plunged everyone into an eerie shade. “I need a full damage report. That coolant leak...”

“Medical emergency, main engineering. Chief LaForge has been wounded...”

Howard left her seat. “On my way. Nurse Ogawa and triage to engineering.”

Shelby was left head in hands.

LaForge was writhing on the floor outside main engineering. Armstrong was trying to keep him still. Howard headed for him falling on her knees beside him. “Geordi, try to stay still.”

His face had been burnt, his uniform scorched.

“He stayed longer to get everybody out.”

The main door to engineering was a few feet away. Hazard lights flashed all around it.

“Shelby almost got us killed.”

“Enough,” Beverly ordered. She sighed when Ogawa appeared around the corner carrying the gear. She thanked her then snapped open the bag. “I need cordrazin and gauzes to tend to the wounds.”

She touched a hand to his left cheek where one gash was. He cried out but she probed it. “It’s that bad...”

“That bad, he’s dying!”

“Back off lieutenant, I’m trying to save his life.” All her life she had tried to show people who thought she was an annoyingly attentive doctor that she could save peoples lives and now with LaForge burnt badly she had to do it again. Howard reached for the gauze Ogawa prodded at her. Applying it she heard Geordi murmur. The engineer had to hold on for almost all their sakes. She also heard Armstrong speak close by.

“What the hell’s going on up there?”

“The captain’s been taken by the Borg and our weapon failed,” Beverly met Armstrong’s added curse with a stern glare. “We’re not beaten yet.”

“Cut the crap, doc. If the deflector’s gone as well as a better portion of our engines we’re dead in the water for a while.”

The redheaded doctor dipped her gaze to LaForge wondering just what the next step was. The crew by now would have found out that Picard had been spirited away, at that he would have been the one that had more or less turned on the ship. she cupped Geordi’s head in her hands looking at his optical sights.

“Geordi, can you see me?”

“Blurry,” the engineer whispered. He seemed to be in less pain though this was a product of the cordrazin. Howard gestured to Ogawa.

“The stretcher, quick.”

Shelby’s pacing behind the tactical station was getting on Jack Crusher’s nerves. He refrained from giving her an irritated look knowing it would not serve much purpose. Fortunately he was distracted by an incoming hail.

“Libby, Admiral Hansen.”

She was suddenly down by the command chair. “On screen, Jack.”

The viewscreen previously showing the empty space ahead now showed Hansen his stern features creased more than ever, leaning into his chair. The image itself kept fracturing though enough to show the bridge shaking.

“We’ve engaged...359...ships destroyed...”

The viewscreen crackled loudly in a way that something in the twenty-fourth century should not react. Shelby clenched her fists knowing what was happening to her mentor.

“Jack.”

“The line’s still open whether or not they’re receiving me is something else.”

“Sir, we’re coming. We’ll be there.”

She was sure that she heard something in response yet the screen simply went black after a while. Softly she asked. “Data how long?”

“Four hours.”

In that time the Borg might well have assimilated Earth.

“Damn,” she cursed just as softly.

---

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This is a pretty intense start to things ... it feels familiar, but subtly different to what we know in so many ways. Quite a mindf*ck in some ways. I think I'll enjoys this one :)

Gotta concur. There is enough here that is the same but so much that is off kilter. From the introduction of Doctor Howard to the fact Pulaski had been the Enterprise's CMO before Beverly.Yipes. And all very intriguing. I like the fact that you are challenging the character of Crusher. I know she isn't everyone's cup of tea. But in one way, you gotta admire the fact that as a character she was sometimes deliberately annoying or abrasive for being stubborn about her moral ethical codes in terms of medicine. She tended to create the little of tension that existed between the TNG crew. So interested to see what you are going to do with the character in this different universe. Especially as she was never show cased that much and so suffered from a lack of writing for her. Two parts in and I am intrigued to find out more.

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Benedict   

This is a pretty intense start to things ... it feels familiar, but subtly different to what we know in so many ways. Quite a mindf*ck in some ways. I think I'll enjoys this one :)

Gotta concur. There is enough here that is the same but so much that is off kilter. From the introduction of Doctor Howard to the fact Pulaski had been the Enterprise's CMO before Beverly.Yipes. And all very intriguing. I like the fact that you are challenging the character of Crusher. I know she isn't everyone's cup of tea. But in one way, you gotta admire the fact that as a character she was sometimes deliberately annoying or abrasive for being stubborn about her moral ethical codes in terms of medicine. She tended to create the little of tension that existed between the TNG crew. So interested to see what you are going to do with the character in this different universe. Especially as she was never show cased that much and so suffered from a lack of writing for her. Two parts in and I am intrigued to find out more.

firstly, as always MF, my thanks. Indeed I owe some of this to you from an earlier convo when I bounced ideas about. Well, some idea. As I say I wanted to do a Crusher story and this idea just happened. Re-reading this just now I realise I have all these in-jokes or knowing references. Leslie Crusher, Shelby is nicknamed Libby (not Eppy as she is in New Frontier) etc. She was often overlooked, she often is ridiculed, bashed and relentlessly hounded. She could've been so much more, she was after all not only CMO but the first female doctor in Star Trek (at least in the main cast). Then you look at the movies and she barely features. I do wonder whether my own bias towards her will affect my writing. I'm trying to bring out that abrasiveness but the timeline messes with things. In this she has followed Pulaski, has come from a somewhat mediocre career and hasn't married Jack or ever fallen for Picard. Mrs Picard can breathe a sigh of relief.

And so...I hope you enjoy it :)

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Looking good so far. I'd say she's bedding in nicely. Jack's intriguing me though. I wonder what he did to get himself busted?

Yes a good start. Shelby seems to be a natural fit for the Enterprise and an ace inclusion to the weird but familiar set up going on here. Jack too is another interesting addition to the cast. It mixes things up in terms of Beverly and what is going on with her. I wonder whether you're going to for a Jack/Beverly thing or a Picard/Beverly thing = so the potential is there to play with a triangle as such. Interesting dynamics going on. And what the heck will be the deal with Jack.

As to concerns for Beverly's characterisation. So far so good. It would be difficult to have a 'feel for her' considering in this AU she is the same but different. Not being a mother would change things as would not being a widow. So don't be too wary if she isn't what you think she is in the series. She would be different and picturing her as twenty maybe represents the fact that she would seem younger in light of not having the troubles she had - no loss of husband or rearing a child on her own.

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With Chapter Three we see there's something going on between Picard and Crusher re: the Stargazer. Hmm ... can't wait to discover what that is. Will it be a problem down the line? Whether it will or not isn't the case at the moment. The fact it has the potential to be makes this a smart bit of writing.

Likewise the inclusion of Guinan and her self-knowing ways. Always throws things for a loop having her about. Never can be sure what is going on behind the smile. Nicely portrayed too.

Looking forwards to more.

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I'll post the rest of the stuff here and now then when I return in a fortnight, depending on my net situation in Wimbledon during that time I'll get some more up. Who knows...

Hee hee - don't know if pun intended or what but funny!

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Benedict   

Looking good so far. I'd say she's bedding in nicely. Jack's intriguing me though. I wonder what he did to get himself busted?

Yes a good start. Shelby seems to be a natural fit for the Enterprise and an ace inclusion to the weird but familiar set up going on here. Jack too is another interesting addition to the cast. It mixes things up in terms of Beverly and what is going on with her. I wonder whether you're going to for a Jack/Beverly thing or a Picard/Beverly thing = so the potential is there to play with a triangle as such. Interesting dynamics going on. And what the heck will be the deal with Jack.

As to concerns for Beverly's characterisation. So far so good. It would be difficult to have a 'feel for her' considering in this AU she is the same but different. Not being a mother would change things as would not being a widow. So don't be too wary if she isn't what you think she is in the series. She would be different and picturing her as twenty maybe represents the fact that she would seem younger in light of not having the troubles she had - no loss of husband or rearing a child on her own.

I'll bear this in mind with the characterisation. She is the same yet different, as you say. So weird. My avatar doesn't help, I keep picturing her in the red :)

With Chapter Three we see there's something going on between Picard and Crusher re: the Stargazer. Hmm ... can't wait to discover what that is. Will it be a problem down the line? Whether it will or not isn't the case at the moment. The fact it has the potential to be makes this a smart bit of writing.

Likewise the inclusion of Guinan and her self-knowing ways. Always throws things for a loop having her about. Never can be sure what is going on behind the smile. Nicely portrayed too.

Looking forwards to more.

The inclination I get is that Jack and Picard were best friends, even in this AU. The trouble is the plot has galloped away after Chapter III so I don't know where we'll be now :)

I'll post the rest of the stuff here and now then when I return in a fortnight, depending on my net situation in Wimbledon during that time I'll get some more up. Who knows...

Hee hee - don't know if pun intended or what but funny!

:biggrin: ha, I didn't see that pun. Though needless to say I do have the net, chapters will come though other situations concerning Wimbledon affect matters, ai yi yi.

More...chapters, god-willing...tomorrow!

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Different reality but the same result with the deflector weapon, though they've not got to repair the ship without Geordi's help, or so it seems now. Quite a bind they're in there. :ohmy:

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