|The Prodigal Return
Author: Cendari PM
Sequel to "The Inherited Gift" It is necessary to read that first so as to understand this one... We rejoin Samantha Mackenzie-O'Brien, fresh from her first year at Starfleet Academy...Rated: Fiction T - English - Words: 9,787 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 1 - Published: 11-13-04 - id: 2132682
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I own nothing except Sam and Maddie.
Summary: A year after we left them in "The Inherited Gift", Cadet Samantha Mackenzie-O'Brien and company are back. Fresh from her first year at Starfleet Academy, Sam has been looking forward to spending time with her new family, for all she knows, it could be the last time she sees any of them. Especially Will. Join me with the next installment in my ever-increasing series, "The Prodigal Return".
The Prodigal Return
Cadet Mikayla Samantha Mackenzie-O'Brien paced the length of her assigned quarters on the Ghandi with a nervous energy. The single gold pip on her collar gleamed in the light as Sam performed the 'Picard Maneuver' yet again.
Though she knew she had nothing to worry about, Sam couldn't help the restless energy that suffused her body, forcing her to do something or go mad. The general emotional state of the crew was not helping her relax one iota either. Most of the crewmembers were gripped with excitement to see the great ship Enterprise and their unchecked anticipatory enthusiasm was seeping through her mental shields.
"To use one of your favorite phrases," a familiar voice murmured in her ear, "chill out." A pair of muscled arms wrapped around her waist from behind and pulled her up against an equally muscled and wide chest that was as familiar to her as her own body.
"Hi," she greeted simply, instantly relaxing against her visitor.
"Hi, yourself," he responded, his warm breath gently fanning the back of her ear. Sam reveled in the comfort of simply residing in his arms for a few moments more before turning and lifted her lips to his. For several minutes the lovers whole-heartedly immersed themselves in a meeting of minds and mouths. They were both breathing heavily when they separated and were about to go under each other's spell again when the communicator beeped imperiously.
"Cadet Mackenzie?" the first officer's voice queried.
"Yes, sir." Sam cleared her throat to rid her voice of the betraying huskiness.
"We will rendezvous with the Enterprise within the hour."
"Thank you, sir. I'll be ready."
Sam picked up a stray thought that flitted through the first officer's mind. She was a nice enough kid, Sam gleaned, but she made him feel as though she could and might pick his brain clean.
A chuckle could not be suppressed at the officer's wayward thought and then she forgot all about him and everything else as she gave herself up to the insistent attentions of her lover.
"Very good. Number One, how are preparations going?" Captain Jean-Luc Picard looked to his first officer.
"Data and the Counselor are working on it as we speak. They'll be ready by the time she gets here," Riker responded.
"Excellent," Picard said with the pride that came when everything was going right for once. "What are the odds that things will continue going this well?" he asked to no one in particular.
"Next to none, sir."
Picard sighed in exasperation but knew Riker was correct. Nothing ever went seamlessly for so long on board the Enterprise. They each spent the next few minutes in peaceful silence, watching the stars go zipping past the view screen. "Number One, we don't need you up here. Why don't you go and help Commander Data and Counselor Troi?" Picard suggested when Riker began fidgeting restlessly. It was more of an order than a suggestion.
"Yes, sir," Riker replied, rising, absolutely grateful for the chance to do something to work off all the nervous energy that seemed to have consumed him. After all, they were only expecting his granddaughter – he still had trouble with that word – back on board to celebrate finishing her first year at the Academy with Honors. Nothing too big.
By agreement, Sam remained ignorant of her true biological relationship with the Commander and Counselor, though they had given her the benefit of their names when she had applied to Starfleet Academy. In the eyes of Starfleet and the Federation, Sam was Mikayla Samantha Mackenzie-Troi-Riker. To everyone else, she was simply Sam Mackenzie.
"Got kicked off the bridge, did you?" Deanna asked with no small amusement when Riker stepped onto the holodeck.
"Be quiet. Where do you want me to start?" He directed his question to both Deanna and Data.
"You can string these up over
there," Deanna held up a replicated garland and pointed to the far
wall. They had managed to find pictures of Sam's old house on Earth
and had programmed them into the holodeck computer to make the
setting for their party.
"When will she arrive?"
"We'll be in transporter range in about forty-five minutes." Will climbed the ladder and started hanging decorations as directed.
"Well then, all that's really left to do is replicate the food and get everybody in here and shielded before she suspects something is going on," Deanna mused aloud. "Data, do you think we have enough decorations up?"
"Yes, Counselor, I believe we have enough so that it does not look sparse but not too many so that it looks gaudy. I believe we are done decorating as soon as the Commander finishes."
Deanna grinned at the Data-like answer and stood beneath Will's ladder. "Are you finished yet?"
Just to bug her, he answered, "No!"
He grinned down at her, ageless blue eyes crinkling at the corners, and she remembered how affected she had been by that smile when she first met him all those years ago on Betazed. Blinking, Deanna tore her eyes away from his, and busied herself with ordering the food from the replicator. Will's smile widened and he returned his attention to fastening the garland to the wall.
"Cadet Mackenzie, we are in transporter range of the Enterprise and will commence the transfer in fifteen minutes." The disembodied voice of the First Officer echoed through the chamber. The bed's occupants groaned and obligingly set about putting themselves to rights.
"Thank you, sir," Sam replied. A sudden, absolutely unwelcome thought occurred to her and she turned to her lover for reassurance. "Love, what if...?"
He immediately wrapped his arms around her and cradled her against his chest. "Don't worry so much. Even if they do find out, which is likely, they're not going to condemn you for it."
"But, what if they do? I couldn't bear it if..."
"Whatever happened to my cool, confident Mackie? You're an expert at this. A trained expert," he emphasized. "Very, very few first-years are given an assignment like this. Top brass all believes in you. Why can't you believe in yourself?"
She made a sound of frustration and banged her forehead against the wall of his chest. "I don't know!" she wailed. "I mean, before I had to worry about my life. This is nothing compared to it! Why am I so worried?"
"Because you're worried about what the others will think about your occupation?" When she made a face at him, he knew he had hit the proverbial nail on the head. "They already love you. Nothing's going to change that."
Sam sighed and melted into him, wrapping her arms tightly around his waist. "What would I do without you?"
"Go insane?" he offered.
"Probably." She caught the tail end of the summons he was trying to postpone. "Go. I'll be fine."
"Are you sure?" He angled he head down, trying to get a glimpse of her eyes.
Her head lifted and she smiled at him. "Positive. Go on, before he has a coronary."
He returned the smile, appreciating the way her silver eyes twinkled at him. He kissed her, hard, rubbed her nose with his, an "Eskimo kiss", and vanished.
Sam let a small sigh of apprehension loose and got the rest of her gear ready to go.
"Energize," Riker ordered.
And then, when he was looking into
sparkling silver eyes, he forgot everything but the need to hold the
fruit of the fruit of his loins
in his arms again, to know that she was real. Unfortunately, protocol demanded they go through the formal greeting first.
"Welcome aboard the Enterprise, Cadet." As if she didn't know every inch of the ship.
"Thank you, Commander." He waved her off the pad and he could feel her mind touch his in greeting. He knew of the practice; had experienced it from both Deanna and Lwaxana after a separation; and was ready to block a gentle probe from her. Even though Sam had an eidetic memory, the mental "handshake" or "hug" was to allow her to refamiliarize herself to him that had nothing to do with the physical and everything to do with the cerebral. "Permission to greet properly, Commander?"
"Granted." His eyes closed as her arms wound around his waist and his arms closed around her as well. She was one of the few empath/telepaths he knew that appreciated and welcomed physical contact, having come from a society and family that was very physical. "We missed you up here, Sammie."
She squeezed once, hard, before letting go and wandered over to the transporter console. He wasn't offended by her failure to respond; he knew that other, bigger things had been clamoring for her attention the moment she finished materializing on the transporter pad. When Sam touched the console and let her eyes drift shut, he knew she was greeting the computer in her own unique way.
Will ended up having to drag Sam out of the transporter room.
The cadet and the commander walked leisurely down the halls of the Enterprise, allowing Sam to greet crewmembers she knew, and introduce herself to those she didn't. As always, she was charming, engaging, and gracious to all they met, but Riker suspected all her special smiles were bring reserved for the senior crew. As he sneakily led her towards the holodeck where the senior crew was hiding, this suspicion was given more ground.
Eventually, the holodeck doors were in front of them and as they slid open, Riker pushed Sam ahead a little. She took a single step in, and jumped a foot in the air when a dozen people jumped out of their hiding spots and screamed: "SURPRISE!!!!!!"
Sam immediately turned and swatted Riker on the arm. "Ow! What was that for?" he complained.
"That was for developing such damn good shields while I was gone!" she shot back and grinned at him before she was enveloped by the people who had given her something to live for when she first appeared in Lieutenant Hawk's quarters that fateful day two years previously. Sam let herself be swept away, too happy at being surrounded by her surrogate family to stay angry.
Even so, Deanna Troi frowned when she felt glimmers of worry coming from her granddaughter's direction throughout the party.
Several hours later Sam stumbled into her quarters, thankful that she didn't have to share with Beverly or Deanna as she had when she first came on board. Sam didn't bat an eye and grinned when she spotted the large male making himself at home on her bed.
"How'd it go?" he asked, rising and moving over to her.
I wish you could have come, she sent, in no mood to speak aloud.
Was it fun? he asked, obliging her.
Absolutely. Reaching up, Sam wrapped her arms around his neck. I can think of other fun things to do.> Seductively, she rubbed against him, wringing a tortured groan from him.
Hard hands gripped her waist, set her back, breaking her hold. Don't you have to report to Engineering in the morning? For a "pop quiz"?
It is morning.
All the more reason not to.
Sam had to chuckle at Wesley's misguided attempts at being noble as she slowly stalked him. I know it cold, she assured him.
I'll even let you quiz me... Later, she added, reaching for him again.
Oh, well in that case... Wesley's arms wound around her like steels bands as he caught her mouth with his. Within moments they were gasping for air, tearing at each other's clothing
"Sam," Wesley said, trying to catch her attention. "Sam," he repeated. Catching her face in his hands, he forced her eyes to meet his, his thumbs gently caressing her cheeks.
"Hmm?" Her attention forced from unfastening his pants, Sam looked into his warm, chocolate brown gaze.
Wesley's eyes briefly searched hers; he smiled. "I love you, Mackie."
Sam returned his tender smile. "I love you, too, Wes." Her hands cupped his face and she brought her lips up to meet his. In case he hadn't got the message, Sam opened her mind to him, I love you very much, Wesley Crusher.
He kissed her again, gently, reverently, worshipping at the altar of her body, her love. "I love you," he whispered against her lips. "I love you," as he kissed his way down her body. "I love you," right before he stole her breath away when he joined with her.
I love you, Wes.
Sam rolled over to face him, secure in the safe, comforting circle of his arms. "I love you, too. Always and forever. Till the end of time." She leaned up and kissed him gently, lingeringly.
After several minutes, he broke away and pressed her head to his chest. Sleep now. You have to get up in a few hours and you have to be aware for one of Geordi's "pop quizzes". I'll be here when you wake up.
Sam pressed a kiss where her head lay, snuggled in closer, and fell asleep.
A week later, Sam anxiously awaited the results of her finals with her mentors, trying her damnedest to block out their thoughts and emotions.
"Mackenzie, Mackenzie," she muttered, running a fingertip down the list. "No Mackenzie," she uttered in confusion when she had run through the entire list and had not found her name. Then "Troi" caught her eye. "Troi-Riker, Mikayla. Hm, go figure." A sigh of relief escaped when she saw her grades. She had gotten at least 78 on every exam. Not bad for a kid who had learned 370 years worth of advancements and history in less than a year. I did it! she reported happily.
I knew you could, came the proud response.
Shall we get together for more "studying" later? she suggested.
I like the way you think. However, if I'm not mistaken, Commander Riker and Counselor Troi intend to take you off to Betazed during their shore leave.
So? You can visit. I'm officially inviting you right now.
Unless I miss my guess, Counselor Troi is coming right now to invite you to go with them to Betazed.
Sam verified that he was correct and left him with a mental caress calculated to titillate and an "I love you."
Come on in, Deanna.
The doors to Sam's quarters opened and Deanna stood in the entrance. "Have you told any one?" she demanded without preamble.
"No." She wasn't lying...exactly. Just not telling the whole truth.
"Then I'd be careful with the amount you use your telepathy and when. The last thing we need is Command breathing down our necks wanting to know why none of us saw fit to inform them of your abilities."
Sam decided that now wouldn't be a good time to tell the counselor why they didn't have to worry about it. "Sorry."
"Don't be sorry. Just be careful."
"Don't worry. I intend to be very careful."
"Now, as to why I'm here..."
The petite Betazoid bent a frown on Sam. "Have you been going digging, Cadet Mackenzie?"
"Not me." Sam held up her left hand, index and middle fingers extended, realized which hand it was and changed it for her right hand. "Scout's honor." To add to her innocent look, she started exuding angelic emotions and smiled like she was possessed of a halo at that very moment.
Counselor Troi did not look convinced. "Right. Any way, what do you say?"
Sam sighed theatrically. "Let's see"- she held up her left hand, palm up - "go to Betazed where I can wallow in the beautiful weather and work on my tan in real sunshine, or" - she held up her right hand, palm up - "stay here on board so I can better tryst with my lover in secrecy" - her hands floated up and down like the ancient law scales. "Hmm. Tough choice."When Deanna stared at her like she had never considered Sam might have had a sex life, Sam laughed. "I'm teasing, Deanna. I'd love to go."
"Well, good. I'll go tell Will." Deanna quit the room, her mind reeling. Why was she so scandalized, she asked herself. She had indulged in her share of affairs, so why did the thought of Sam having a lover bother her so much?
Because she's our granddaughter and not some crewmember's child? Deanna heard Will's voice echo in her head.
Why doesn't this seem to bother you? Deanna had to know. With his protective instincts, what Sam termed "Neanderthal tendencies"; Will most definitely would have been an intensely protective father. Grandfather-hood would only have multiplied those tendencies exponentially.
It does, Will replied frankly, startling her with the honesty of his response. But I thought about it a lot sooner than you did, so I've had longer to deal with it.
Really? Is that all?
It's also given me more time to consider all the ways I can dismember him with the most amount of pain if he hurts her.
That was the Will Deanna had been expecting to hear.
My favorite method so far is taking him into the holodeck and turning the safety protocols off and then I thought I might take one of those ancient firearms that were so predominant when Sam was growing up and using his testicles as target practice.
Though Deanna secretly approved, she felt she had to chide his crude methods. When she did, he instead offered her a chance to practice her marksmanship, pointing out that he knew very well that she wanted to as much as he did.
Don't worry so much, Imzadi. His casual use of the endearment took her breath away. Everything's going to be all right.
I hope you're right.
I'm always right. Haven't you figured that out yet?
Remind me again why you're coming to Betazed with us?
Because I'm intelligent, handsome, charming... And, nobody makes the two of you laugh like I do.
You're right. Remember the time you got kissed by Lal?
Don't remind me, he warned direly.
I just did, Deanna responded smugly. With that, she disconnected her mind from his and let a smug smile curve her lips.
We're not finished, she heard fleetingly as he gave in.
Meanwhile, Will Riker was sitting in the center chair on the bridge, unable to believe that things had gone so well for so long. However, not willing to jinx their luck one iota, he refused to dwell on it for long.
"Commander," the lieutenant on duty behind him stated.
"There is a Priority One communication coming in for both you, Counselor Troi, and the Captain," he said uncertainly.
"Inform Counselor Troi and ask her to meet us in the captain's ready room. Patch it through when she walks on the bridge," Riker ordered decisively, already rising and heading for the ready room doors as he then turned command over to the very capable hands of Commander Data.
"What is it, Number One?" Picard asked when he entered.
"Communication coming from Earth for us and Counselor Troi."
"Sit down, then."
True to form, Deanna walked in
less than a minute later. "Have a seat, Counselor and we'll find
out what this is all about."
Picard activated the larger view-screen on the wall and sat back in his chair, waiting to see what was going on.
"Admiral," the three chorused when the familiar visage of Fleet Admiral Alynna Nechayev filled the screen.
"Captain, Commander, Counselor," she acknowledged. "Although the person already has her orders, I felt it prudent to inform her commanding officers."
"A mission for one Ensign Mackenzie-Troi-Riker."
"What mission?" Troi asked in confusion.
"Considering her background and abilities, although I was against sending a first-year cadet into the field, and the year she spent with all of you, Starfleet Command felt she was the best person for the job." Still, despite her long history with the captain of the Enterprise, Admiral Nechayev stalled.
"Admiral, please, just get it out," Picard requested as respectfully as possible.
"We have reason to believe that the Romulans are planning an attack on the Federation. To that end, Command has ordered Ensign Mackenzie to go on an undercover mission to collect information on Remus. She will be given a ten-day leave before her new assignment starts. I know you are very close to her, and it will be a difficult assignment, but she will have the best Starfleet can muster to back her up."
Troi and Riker sat in a stunned daze. Dimly they heard Picard ask some questions and cut off the connection.
"What's going to happen?" Riker managed to ask.
"Sam is going on vacation with you. The Enterprise will then take her to the Neutral Zone where she will meet up with the rest of the crew going. It appears we have one or two questions to ask young Sam."
The minute Captain Picard, Commander Riker, and Counselor Troi appeared in the doors of Engineering, Sam knew they had found out.
"How much did she tell you?" she asked as soon as the four of them were alone.
"That you're going on an undercover mission to Remus. How did they find out, Sam? You told me you hadn't told anyone." Troi sounded uncommonly upset. "Why didn't you tell us, Sam?"
"I swear to you, I didn't tell anybody. The Academy Counselor had his suspicions, but it was Ambassador Spock who blew the whistle on me. After that, I had to squeal or be kicked out of the Academy for lying on my application. And, I didn't tell you about the mission because I didn't want you to worry. My mother died because she was worried about me," Sam confessed.
"We would have worried regardless!"
"I know that. But, if I had told you later, you wouldn't have as long to worry about me." They couldn't argue with her rationale. "I'll be fine. I've gone into worse scrapes than this and come out intact."
"What counts as a worse scrape?"
"How about getting Russian secrets to make sure they weren't plotting to take over the world? Or getting into Saddam Hussein's lair on orders to assassinate him? Or even figuring out Osama bin Laden's next target so more American lives weren't wasted? They're all dangerous, all very covert. Nobody knew the sacrifices I made for the safety of the Western world. And I wanted to keep it that way."
"Why? Because I was damned good at what I
did. Nobody ever suspected the teenage girl who just happened to be
in town with a dozen of her friends. More often than not, I was the
one who caught the other countries' operatives." Her tone
softened from strident and defensive to the one they were more
accustomed to hearing. "I'll be fine, I swear. If something
happens to me, you have my permission to let Beverly go after me.
But, until I leave, can I at least have a peaceful vacation?" she
Deanna stepped forward and wrapped her arms around the young woman who would be risking her life for the safety of others.
"It's no different than any other mission. Just, this one's on a slightly bigger scale," Sam said lightly.
Deanna hadn't let go and Will now moved forward to clasp close to him the two women who meant more to him than anything else... Except, maybe, his trombone...
"I love you, guys," Sam said softly, though it was still loud enough for Jean-Luc to hear from his position outside their little family hug. She stepped out of Will and Deanna's embrace, wiping a sudden tear from the corner of her eye, and kissed Jean-Luc's cheek.
Who smiled and kissed her forehead in return. "Come back safely to us."
"Jeez, guys, I haven't even left yet, and you're already planning my funeral. Give me little credit here!"
The trio of officers chuckled slightly and left Sam to get back to work with Geordi.
A little more than two weeks later, Sam,
bronzed, relaxed, cheerful as always, was going through her final
preparations to leave her home and family for an unknown amount of
time. She already missed them all. Even though she rarely did so to
prevent detection, Sam reached out to her closest friends to judge
their moods. Will and Deanna were both feeling incredible amounts of
anxiety, Beverly the same, Jean-Luc seemed to have enough faith in
her abilities and her back-up to not be too worried but he was
worried all the same, Geordi was a little worried, and Data was...
Well, Data was curious about something, as always.
The door chime brought her head up, and she called out, "Enter," as her mind identified her visitors. Will and Deanna. Come to think of it, they seemed to do everything together nowadays. Interesting.
"We wanted to give you something," Deanna said, glancing repeatedly at her partner in crime.
Not really one to give into emotional displays, Will drew something out of the pocket of his uniform and handed it to Sam with a gruff, "Here." Upon closer inspection, the something turned out to be a simple gold band with two entwined heart engraved in the surface. "It was my mother's. She'd want you to have it."
Sam chose to ignore his last sentence and slipped it on her finger. "It's lovely, Will. Thank you." She reached up and kissed his cheek. To her intense delight, he flushed a little and moved back to give Deanna room. In a move that astounded Sam, Deanna produced an ancient firearm, the kind that shot deadly metal bullets, not laser beams. "Deanna!"
"My father was an avid fan of westerns and he managed to collect a few of the guns. This one was his favorite." Sam ran knowing hands over the Glock 23 pistol, noting it's excellent condition. In fact...
She reached into her bag on the bed and pulled out a pistol exactly like it. "I managed to get mine back from the museum," she offered with a grin when they gaped at her easy handling of the lethal weaponry. "This will come in handy, Deanna. Thank you, both." Sam hugged them and then shooed them out so she could finish packing. As they left, Sam could have sworn she heard Deanna mutter to Will, "Actually, I'm starting to think the one I just gave her used to be hers."
Sam chuckled and got the packing business over with, tucking the two guns into a shielded pouch.
When Sam reached the transporter room, she found the entire senior crew there waiting for her. "Wow," she commented, "if I didn't know any better, I'd think you were all eager to get rid of me." The bunch of them all scowled rather mightily at her light remark and she held up her hands. "Okay, I take it back."
They had all brought presents, too, Sam found out. Geordi handed her a PADD of notes and other things she might need to know. Beverly passed over a holo of Sam's favorite movies. Data produced a picture of Sam's cat, Stripe, and some of his infamous Chinese finger games. But, it was Jean-Luc's gift that took the cake: a thick, leather-bound tome that proved to be a collection of Shakespeare's plays.
"You, guys," Sam chided playfully, "you shouldn't have." She hugged each person affectionately.
"That book is just a loan," Jean-Luc declared. "I expect you to return it to me in person."
Sam's special smile appeared, the one that made you feel as if the sun had just come out of hiding, and she kissed his weathered cheek. "You got it." She looked at her family, memorizing each of their features. Then their emotions hit her. "I'll be fine," she admonished. "Really, you people. You'd think I was going out to die, the way you're carrying on."
Her reprimand only produced a couple of weak smiles as they worked to hide their true feelings from her.
"That's it, I'm out of here. You people are too maudlin for me." Sam stepped on the transporter pad and nodded to the transporter chief. "Ready for transport."
He nodded, notified the transporter chief of the Quest, and within moments Sam felt the tingles of the transporter at work. The last thing she heard before totally leaving the ship was: Imzadi, are you sure?
"Ensign, welcome aboard the U.S.S. Quest. I am Commander Lennox," the serious, dark-haired human female greeted. "This is Lieutenant Commander Trope," she said, gesturing to a man with twinkling green eyes and a kind face - "Lieutenant Commander Quirrel" - she pointed to a slight, Betazoid male with fathomless dark eyes - "Lieutenant Wright" - this time she indicated a large human male who seemed capable of breaking someone's back - "and Lieutenant j-g. Shaw." The Vulcan woman behind the transporter controls nodded.
"I'm very glad to meet you all," Sam responded politely. "I hope you all have had some undercover experience?" When they all looked offended at her having asked, Sam held her hands in the surrender position. "I'm sorry. There have been times when I had to cooperate with some people who had no clue what they were doing. I apologize for offending you."
"They sent you into the field with untrained agents?" one of them gasped.
"They weren't even agents," Sam corrected. "In those times, they were desperate. I just hope my methods aren't as archaic as I'm beginning to think they are," she added with a grimace.
"Archaic or not, there will be no attempts to be a hero," Lennox ordered. "I am in command here, I am in command of this mission, and I expect my orders to be followed through without question. Anybody who fails to follow orders will be shipped home in disgrace to face a court-martial. If I say I want the Reman Senate Speaker's head on a platter, you will say, "Medium or well-done?" Is that understood?" Lennox demanded with a harsh glare in Sam's direction.
"Absolutely, sir," Sam replied immediately, though inwardly she was appalled at how this woman thought she was going to win respect this way. Unable to resist, Sam shot a tiny probe at Lennox's mind, only to come up short against one of the strongest mental shields she had ever come across.
"And, anybody caught snooping in my head will face a court-martial also!" Lennox scowled at Sam.
Her eyes widened innocently and she gave her most beguiling smile. Lennox stalked out of the room, agitated enough so that her shield slipped a bit and Sam caught an astonishing amount of hostility and distrust aimed at Quirrel, Shaw, and herself. She was relieved to feel the Betazoid's gentle mind-touch, and probed back as delicately.
"Do not worry about her," the Betazoid murmured as they exited en masse. "She is upset at being upstaged by a 'little Academy brat' who does not know anything about undercover operations. I would watch my back though, if I were you."
"Thank you for the warning." Aware that most people of his race disliked being touched, Sam placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. "I'm Sam Mackenzie."
Quirrel returned the physical contact. "My name is Colin Quirrel. I am a telepath, also."
"Thank the gods."
"Alvin Trope," the lieutenant commander said, sticking his hand in her face.
"Stephen Wright," the giant stated.
"Samantha Mackenzie, I am Zarek Shaw," the Vulcan greeted.
"Pleasure to meet you. Anybody know how long we're going to be out here?"
"Your guess is as good as ours."
Over the next few days, Sam cemented friendships with her new crewmates. Mostly, they commiserated over who was the subject of Lennox's waspish tongue. Wright was of the opinion that getting laid just might cure whatever ailed her, but was absolutely unwilling to volunteer his services for the greater good of the crew. Each day seemed to bring another something that Commander Lennox was not pleased about and thus took it out in the form of a verbal lashing on the crew.
Sam, wisely, spent most of her time in Engineering with Shaw, her lack of any strong emotions making her the perfect partner for the logical Vulcan. It was Sam and Shaw who would go in undercover, therefore, their relationship had to be the strongest. By the time they reached Remus, they had fleshed out a reasonable working partnership.
"How long have you been doing this?" Sam asked one day in the middle of running diagnostics.
"This! Undercover, covert missions."
"Three years," Shaw answered finally.
"I did it for seven years before I joined the Enterprise," Sam volunteered reflectively. "Seven years of constantly looking over my shoulder. Heck, even after I retired, I'd still have to keep an eye on my back. But, I don't regret it. Not one moment." She saddened eyes to meet the Vulcan's. "Except for the times I was away from my sister," she added. "I can never get those years back. She understood, I know she did, but all the time I sacrificed I can never get back." Sam fell into a deep silence. Shaw, possessing some telepathic ability herself, knew the direction Sam's thoughts were going and left her to her thoughts.
Deanna sat in her quarters, deep in a relaxing, meditative state. A small, aware corner of her mind chuckled at the memory of Sam mimicking her, only adding in a few melodramatic, "ummm's" as sound effects.
Sam. Her concentration gone, Deanna indulged in the precious few memories and moments she had of and with her granddaughter. Watching Sam kick "booty" in one of Worf's calisthenics programs. Watching as she puzzled over a problem with Geordi with the subconscious help of the computer. Her first taste of Synthehol. The time she managed to beat Will in a game of poker. Her breath-taking performance as the tragic, love-struck Juliet in a ship production of Romeo and Juliet. There were so many good memories, and, at the same time, so few.
Resolving anew to get to the ultimate, relaxed state, Deanna's eyes closed and she began her mantra; slowly, little by little, climbing that peak, achieving her goal. And then it hit her.
Her eyes flew open and her head snapped back, mouth open in a soundless scream of agony and horror. Her chest ached, her stomach heaved, and her head pounded as she stumbled to register the impossible. And as her body was doing this, her mind cried only one word: WILL!
Deanna stumbled through the halls of the ship, frantic, searching for the man who was more important to her than anything else she had. Her nearly-black eyes darted from one corner to the next, terrified, dreading that what her brain was telling her was true. She couldn't feel him at all. She had no sense of him, of the warm, chocolate-brown mental presence that was Will. Will! Will, where are you?
And then, there it was. A faint, barely comprehensible, Imzadi? , and then he was gone.
It did little to reassure her. Lurching into Beverly, Deanna grabbed two fistfuls of her friend's uniform and shook as hard as she could.
"Deanna, easy! What's wrong?"
"Where's Will?" Deanna demanded, her pupil-less eyes round with alarm. "Where's Will?"
"Deanna, what's gotten into you? What do you mean, where's Will? He's in his quarters, preparing for our poker game."
Deanna's head shook so fast Beverly nearly missed it. "He's not! Where is he, Beverly? Where is he? I can't feel him."
That brought Beverly up short. "You can't feel him? At all?"
Again, Deanna's head shook at warp speed. "Where is he?" she demanded over and over.
Beverly reluctantly drew out the hypospray she carried at her waist and put in the canister with the tranquillizers. Wishing she had another option besides tranking her friend, Beverly pressed the device into Deanna's arm and injected it with a quick hiss. As Deanna crumpled, Beverly caught her and carted her off to Sickbay.
Will Riker awoke with a groan. Where the devil was he? One minute he'd been in his quarters, preparing for the weekly poker game, and the next... nothing. Willing his eyes to adjust to the darkness surrounding him faster, he found that he couldn't see a bloody damn thing.
Wait a second... Deanna! Deanna? Imzadi? There was no response, and, come to think of it, he couldn't sense her at all. Normally this would have made him very nervous and frantic, but almost instantly he sensed someone nearby.
"Easy, Commander. We'll get you out of here soon enough," a voice murmured in his ear. "But, right now this is a safest place you could possibly be until we get everything sorted out."
"Is fine. She's worried about you though. Hell, so was I until I heard you reach out for her." Silence, then, "Oh, shit. What do you want?" Will's visitor demanded.
"You know, young one, if I didn't like you so much, I'd have sent you out into the cosmos for that," a new voice stated.
Q. It had to be Q.
"Q, stay out of this, please. Go... keep an eye out for that young one of yours. I'm sure he's getting into trouble without you there to supervise."
At the reminder, Q uttered a foul curse word and vanished.
"Thank the gods. Okay, Commander, I need you to sit tight here. I'll be checking up on you almost constantly, but if it starts getting out of control, call. Call to Deanna, call to whoever, I'll hear you. Roger that?"
"Roger what?" Will demanded in confusion.
"Is that okay for now? I know you want to get out of here, but really, right now this is the safest place for you."
"Sure, whatever. But I want out of here soon!"
"As soon as possible, Commander." And then, he was gone, leaving Will with the almost uncontrollable urge to go back to sleep.
Sam popped upright in her bed on Remus. "Shit." Scrambling out of bed, she raced over into Shaw's room. "Shaw! Wake up, they're coming!" When there was no response, Sam resorted to a subconscious wake-up call. SHAW! >
Shaw shot into a sitting position. "What is it?"
"They're coming! They've discovered us! We have to get out of here!" With that, Sam hurried throughout their quarters, grabbing padds and personal belongings as Shaw did the same. They were collecting the last few things when a heavy pounding came on the main doors. "Fuck." WES!
Wesley popped into the chamber, grabbed a hold of Sam, and disappeared with her, leaving Shaw to face some very angry Reman soldiers.
When they appeared in her quarters on the Quest, Sam quickly looked around. "Wes! Shaw! I was working with a partner, remember!"
Wes slapped a hand to his forehead and vanished. An instant later, he reappeared with a rather disheveled Zarek Shaw. "Here you go, love. Safe and sound."
"Barely," she snapped right before she threw herself into his arms. They were engaging in an enthusiastic reunion when the doors slid open and Lennox stepped inside.
"What are you doing back?" she demanded. "Get back on that planet now! You still have work to do!"
"And be killed for treason against the Romulan Empire? I don't think so." Sam disengaged herself from Wesley's arms and stood before the imposing woman.
"Whatever it takes for the Federation. Get back on the planet," Lennox ordered between clenched teeth.
"We don't need to. From what we have gathered, there is no proof that the Romulans are planning an attack against the Federation. Sorry, Commander Lennox, but I guess you'll have to wait a little longer to get rid of me." Sam smiled sweetly at the fuming officer.
"I will have you both court-martialed."
"Commander Lennox? Octavia Lennox?" Wesley cut in.
"What of it?"
"How the hell did you manage to graduate? As I recall, you were about to be expelled for behavior unfitting of a Starfleet cadet. Oh, wait, I bet Daddy managed to get you a suspension and a year-delay to graduation."
"And who the hell do you think you are?"
"Don't remember me, Lennox?"
"Come to think of it, no, you probably wouldn't remember me."
"Get. Off. My. Ship."
Wesley appeared to think about the command for a moment, then said, "Nope, I think I'll stick around, thanks." Lennox turned to leave with a barely muffled scream. "And don't even think about calling Daddy. He can't help you." Lennox stormed out, barely missing being flattened by the rest of the crew as they rushed in.
As Wright and Trope started firing questions left and right, Quirrel stood silently beside Sam with a hand on her shoulder. Who in turn placed a hand on Shaw's shoulder. The light contact helped to center all three minds. When they looked up, Wesley was chatting with Wright and Trope with easy camaraderie.
"Do you think you can convince Lennox to head back for Federation space?" Wesley asked both.
"Sure. If not... Well, we'll find a way," Trope replied.
"Good. In the meantime, I'm sorry, but Ensign Mackenzie is needed on the Enterprise." With that, he grabbed Sam's hand, and vanished with her, leaving everybody to look at the spots they had just occupied.
Many hours after reappearing in her quarters on the Enterprise, Sam emerged; ready to catch hell from Picard for not coming back through the normal channels. The doors had just hissed shut behind her when Will wandered around the corner. Just as she was about to leap forward and plant a kiss on him, something made her take a quick step back. This man looked like Will, and felt like Will, but... There was an indefinable something about him that was stranger to her.
Taking quick steps backwards, Sam disappeared back into her quarters, hoping that he hadn't seen her.
Unbeknownst to her, he had, and what could almost be described as a leer appeared on his face.
Deanna jumped at the unexpected sound. "Sam? What are you doing back?"
"Wes said I was needed here. What's up with Will?"
Deanna sat heavily in her chair. "I don't know."
"Why don't you tell me what happened?"
Deanna sighed. "About a month ago, he vanished. Just disappeared into thin air. I couldn't feel him, couldn't sense him at all. And then, he came back two weeks ago. He's been acting strangely ever since."
Sam digested this information in silence. "Do you want me to try? I mean, I know you have this special bond, but would you like me to have a crack at him?"
"Duh, of course I would."
That settled, they sat back and reunited in the way that only females can.
A distinctly lecherous leer crossed his face, as he looked her up and down. "Why, of course. If you'll let me get into some proper clothing."
"You're fine just as you are," Sam assured him as she latched onto his arm and started dragging him in the direction of the turbolift.
Upon reaching the holodeck doors, Sam punched in a program, making sure that the doors would stay locked and that the safety protocols on her weapons of choice were turned off. "Program complete. You may enter when ready." Sam smiled sunnily at Riker and wandered in through the doors.
When Riker jolted in surprise, Sam knew he had been expecting some sort of seduction scene. She instead grinned inwardly and tossed him his bat'leth before picking up her handguns.
"You're using those archaic...things?" Riker asked in disbelief.
"What? Don't think I can shoot them?" Sam responded innocently. "I gotta keep in practice. Computer, start program. Level Two." Though Sam had never met the infamous Worf, she had found the calisthenics programs he had left from his last trip on board and used them frequently. For the next several minutes, Sam and Riker worked their way through the monsters hiding in the dense forest region. She smiled several times as she watched Riker battle ungracefully with the bat'leth and had to save his rear end almost as many times.
"Computer, Level Three." Again, they fought like madmen, Sam doing more damage with her pair of pistols than Riker was doing with his bat'leth. "Computer, pause program." Instantly, everything froze except for the commander, who was breathing rather heavily for someone in such great shape, and Sam. "Computer, start program Mackenzie-Delta-Two-One." Instantly, the rainforest faded and a beach scene took its place.
Sam holstered her
guns and beckoned seductively to the clearly tired Riker. He
immediately started for her and wrapped his arms around her back.
Though inwardly she cringed, Sam allowed him to kiss her, neither
participating nor standing passively.
After a few minutes of letting him grope her, Sam brought one of the pistols up lightning quick and pressed it against his temple. Instantly, he stopped kissing her and his head raised as he looked down at her in incredulity. "What the hell...?"
"Now, I want to know something and you are going to tell me. Who the hell are you, and what have you done with Will?" she demanded, glaring at him, her silver eyes like chips of ice.
"I have no idea what you're talking about. I am William T. Riker."
Sam made a show of cocking the gun to show him she was serious and aimed it at him again. "Try again."
Instead of squealing, he did the stupid thing, which she knew he would do. He lunged for her. In the blink of an eye, she had the gun trained on him and fired into the fleshy portion of his upper arm. Clearly, he had believed that everything was holographic as well as the bullets in her gun.
With a howl of outrage and agony, he dropped, clutching his arm.
"Get up, you baby," Sam ordered, adding a kick in for good measure. "Now, where is Will? Tell me, or I'll have to call in the big guns."
"I told you, you insane bitch, I am William Riker."
"I don't think so. Now, how about you tell me the truth this time, because you've already gotten two strikes. A third one, and you're out."
"I. Don't. Know. What. You're. Talking. About," he gritted out.
In an instant, he appeared. "Yes, my love?"
"If you could, please tell me who this imposter is, before I have to pick it out of his puny little brain myself," Sam requested sweetly, her tone hardening.
Wesley looked at the man still cowering on the ground and uttered a foul curse. "Thomas! I should have known you were behind this!"
"Excuse me? Who is Thomas?"
"A transporter accident many years ago created a double, a doppelganger, of the Commander. We found him where he had been left, and then he deserted Starfleet for the Maquis and then was imprisoned on Lazon Two in a Cardassian prison camp," Welsey explained, his gaze never leaving the man on the ground.
"Wes, do you know...?"
"I do, and I'll get him as soon as this one is in the brig where he belongs."
"Wes?" Riker queried. "Wes... Crusher! You're Wesley Crusher, son of that meddling doctor!" he stated in a flash of insight.
"Don't you dare speak of my mother like that! You're not fit to lick her boots!"
"And how are you going to make me?" Riker asked insolently.
"Excuse me, Mr. Riker, would you like a hole in your other arm to match the one you've already got?" Sam asked politely. "I would be more than happy to oblige."
He glared up at her. "You and your barbaric weapons."
"Mackenzie to Captain Picard. Captain, there is an imposter on board, masquerading as an officer. He is in custody, but I think you'd prefer that I not be the one to take him to the brig. Who knows what other additional injuries he might have by the time we get there."
"Oh, and Captain, you may want to request that a med-team meet them in the brig. He's bleeding all over the holodeck."
"Very well, Ensign." And Sam was sure she detected a note of amusement in Picard's voice.
Within minutes security officers were knocking on the doors. Before she let them in, however, Sam decided to give him a chance to appease the curiosity that was gnawing at his insides. "Do you have any last requests, Lieutenant?" she asked sweetly, having gotten the man's last rank from Wesley.
"How did you know? How did you tell? Deanna couldn't even tell, how could you?"
"Other than the fact that my telepathic abilities are considerably greater than hers, Will Riker has never leered at me, he's never tried to kiss me, let alone seduce me."
"What? Why?" Riker paused for a moment to consider. "He hasn't turned homosexual, has he?"
not," Sam snapped. "The reason why he has never tried to do
anything of the sort with me is because he adopted me right before I
left for the Academy. Sleeping with the daughter is frowned upon,
even now. You're lucky I was away, otherwise the jig would have
been up long ago." With that, she let the security team in and
exited gracefully, Wesley trailing behind her.
"Love, you'll go...?"
"I'm gone, dearest." And he vanished.
Will Riker rolled his eyes in the gloom. Despite the anxiety of being imprisoned and not knowing what was going to happen to him, he was bored out of his skull.
And suddenly, his frequent visitor was there. "Commander, I trust you're well."
"I'll be even better once I get out of here," Will snapped. "Is it safe yet?" he asked with heavy sarcasm.
"As a matter of fact, yes."
"Oh." Will partially regretted his minor outburst, having realized long ago that the lad only had his safety and best interests at heart. That still didn't mean he had to like it.
"Commander, if you'll take my hand, we'll be out of here before you can say Enterprise."
With some hesitation, Will slowly laid his hand in the outstretched palm of the stranger.
Sam was with Deanna in the Counselor's office, telling her about everything that happened in the holodeck and trying to subtly prepare her for Will's return.
They both knew the instant he was back on board, safe and sound, hearty and hale.
"Will!" Deanna shrieked vocally and mentally, racing out of her quarters at top speed.
Sam was left blinking and shaking her head to clear out the reverberations Deanna's scream had left. "Gods, Deanna, could that be any louder?" she muttered to herself in part disgust. Though, Sam couldn't blame Deanna. Gods only knew what Sam would do if she ever saw her sister again.
Sam sobered at the reminder of the third of her soul that was empty. "Ah, Mad. If only things had been different. But then, who knew they could be this good?"
Wesley snuck up behind Sam, aware of her melancholy thoughts. "Everything all right, love?"
She spun and beamed a dazzling smile. "Everything's perfect."
And as she gave herself up to the attentions of the man who had claimed the other third of her soul, Sam cast one other thought in the direction of her twin and then devoted herself wholeheartedly to returning the pleasure.
"WES! Not here!"
The only response was his answering chuckle.
All too soon, Sam was shipped back off to Starfleet Academy, and the Enterprise and her crew were sent off to the area known as the Briar Patch.
Upon their return to Earth, Sam spent many a night catching up with her family, finally meeting the infamous Worf who had inadvertently helped in the downfall of one who had sought to hurt them. She was most pleased by the new relationship now enjoyed by the first officer and petite counselor, knowing that it wouldn't be too long before they tied the knot.
But, once again, her thoughts continually returned to her lost sister. Sam found herself wondering what Maddie would say to this, and how she would respond to that, even though she knew her twin better than she knew herself.
As Sam's twenty-first birthday loomed, her family was at a loss as to what to give her. They knew that what she most wanted was impossible. It wasn't feasible to bring a girl who had been underground for 370 years back from the dead.
On April 5, 2376, Sam's friends and adopted family once again threw her a surprise party, though it was much harder to pull off than before. Even Lwaxana came for the event. Graciously, Sam accepted their well wishes and their presents, but her mind was visibly elsewhere.
Once more, Wesley slinked up behind her. "I have a present for you," he whispered in her ear.
"What is it?" she asked with considerably more life than she had with the others.
"See for yourself," he replied and pointed.
Turning, Sam braced herself for something completely outlandish, watching as the guests parted like the Red Sea. "Happy birthday, Imzadi," he murmured in Sam's ear when she had spotted what he wanted her to see.
In the space the crowd left, walked a girl, no more than 21, who had golden blonde hair with chunks of auburn, and gleaming silver eyes, and who smiled gently at the guest of honor. "Hello, Mackie," she greeted quietly.
Sam slowly rose from her perch on a giant armchair. "Sophie," she whispered in disbelief. "Sophie!" Sam ran and embraced her lost, now found, sister as tightly as she could. Madigan Sophia Mackenzie-O'Brien did the same as both sisters wept tears of joy at being given another chance. "But how...?" Sam queried, wiping tears away from her eyes as she reluctantly let go of her twin.
Deanna and Will stood hand in hand and both grinned widely at the sight of their granddaughters together at last. Their prodigal daughter had returned to them, if only for a short amount of time, and had been joined by one who, though she had been gone longer, was equally important.
Gesturing around them at the holographic images produced by the holodeck, Will stated, "On this ship, anything's possible."