by ardavenport

- - - Part 5

Beverly was flying. As if she'd been shot out of a cannon, she hurtled through the air. The wind carried her along over an undulating landscape far below. It's whistle acquired voices and whines and cries demanding her attention, but there were too many of them to understand what they said. The air currents started spinning her around, end over end, and the ground started sprouting upward in places, reaching up to swat her as she went whizzing by. Things rushed past her face. She covered her eyes but she could still see them coming at her. A mountain, a wall of rock, rushed up at her and her stomach twisted in the freefall.

Involuntarily, she screamed.

"Beverly!" The shapes and sounds and the mountain melted away and coalesced into one shape looming over her. She grabbed it and sat up.

"Jean-Luc." She hugged him tightly, using his solidness to wash away the clinging terror she had just experienced. Surprisingly, he hugged her just as tightly, his arms clamped around her waist, his head on her shoulder. She thought she heard a ragged sob escape him, but she wasn't sure. It happened to him, too, she thought

"I don't suppose we experienced the same thing?" she asked.

"Maybe not the same thing, but probably something similar." The tone of his voice told her that he was not in the mood for exchanging notes.

Something touched her leg. She jumped. A Zinhoodi had appeared on the mat and was now kneading the area around their legs with its appendages. They both pulled their legs away from it.

/Ah, no permanent harm here./

"What did you do?" Picard demanded, slowly relaxing his hold on Doctor Crusher.

/A test only. We have insulated this area from the worst deformations of the transit and we have but one more modification to make with your help./

"You should have warned us," Picard confronted the creature.

Avi appeared behind the Zinhoodi, the light from the floor reflected brilliantly from the underside of her head. Then two of the little jumping creatures. Then the jellyfish-like creature. Then four more dark shapes. Suddenly they were surrounded.

/The circumstances of need required you as you were./

"We wished to attempt the modified transit with you in your dormant state," Avi explained.

"And?" Picard prompted.

/We find that we can shield out the gross effects of the transit, but not the subtle ones. They would do no permanent harm. But we find from our test; they are undesirable.

/But you could be made purposefully unaware of the effects./

Picard and Crusher looked at each other, the source of the nightmare now clear. "Then you're saying that we can only make the trip if we're unconscious?"

"Correct," Avi went on. A small creature extended a long gleaming instrument to them. Doctor Crusher released her hold on the captain, took it, and and then went for the tricorder on the cube next to the mat and returned with it.

"We seem to have survived your test. Is that absolutely necessary?" Picard asked while she examined the device.

"That was only a brief transit. So not to cause any harm if modifications were incorrect. The actual trip to be more extended."


She scrutinized the readings. "It's a little strong, but it should do the the trick. It's very similar to Paltadamine."

/A substance encountered in review of your physiology,/ the Zinhoodi explained.

"Then you find it acceptable, Doctor?" Picard questioned.

She nodded. "It should work fine." She turned the instrument over. It contained exactly two dosages and they were even scaled for the difference in body masses between her and Picard.

"Then all you're waiting for is us." he stated.

/That is all./

Still seated on the mat he straightened, tugging his uniform tunic into place. He held out his hand. "Doctor."

She stared back at him and didn't move.

"Doctor," He slid closer to her while the creatures around them watched. "I don't want any argument on this...," he began in a hushed voice.

"Then don't argue," she responded in the same half whisper.

"While we are here I am responsible for both of us. I will . . . .,"

"Can you do anything if anything goes wrong with this?"

"You just said that it should work fine."

"That doesn't mean it will."

"Do you have so little faith in your own professional opinion, Doctor?" She glared at him. He knew he'd lost the argument as soon as the words were out of his mouth.

"My professional opinion is not what I'm questioning." He looked away from her.

"Sorry." He nodded, conceding to her. "Proceed, Doctor."

She took his arm, pushed the sleeve back, and pressed the device to his exposed skin. He felt a cool stinging from the injection and for a moment nothing happened. His head nodded forward, his muscles going numb.

"Lie down." He felt Doctor Crusher's arms supporting him, guiding him down into the shadows, one hand under his head. He rolled it from side to side, trying to clear the awful dizziness that had suddenly overtaken him.

"Shhh," She laid her hand on his forehead, stilling the motion. "Just relax. Don't fight it." He tried to lift his arm, but it was too heavy to move.

"I . . . I am glad you're here, Doctor," he said haltingly, fighting to keep his eyes open.

"Me, too."

She watched him reluctantly close his eyes. She monitored his vital signs while they settled into a deep sleep. When she was satisfied, she lowered the scanner. The creatures around her were still waiting.

She retrieved her medical jacket, put the tricorder and scanner into the pockets and put it on, and then picked up the hypo again. She lay down next to Picard and then on impulse she rolled to her side, her body now touching the length of his. She quickly pulled her sleeve back, injected herself, and then stuffed the hypo into a pocket with the scanner. Then she laid her arm across his chest in a loose embrace and laid her head on his arm. With the warmth of his body next to hers, she closed her eyes.

o*o o*o o*o o*o o*o o*o

Worf stepped into the transporter room. Two security people were there along with Mister O'Brien, the transporter chief, but the medical team had not arrived. The Klingon scowled.

"You have their coordinates?" he asked O'Brien.

"I'm locked on to their communicator signals, Sir. But there's a problem with the others. One of them won't fit in the chamber. It's too tall." Perhaps then, they won't come after all, Worf thought. He still questioned Lieutenant Commander Data's decision to allow some of the aliens that had supposedly rescued the captain and the doctor to come aboard. Worf had demanded that they at least use the transporter (even though these aliens clearly didn't need to) so that they could be properly scanned for anything harmful.

The Klingon was also highly displeased by the fact that these aliens had waited until just before they would arrive to inform them that Captain Picard and Doctor Crusher had needed to be rendered unconscious to safely make the trans-dimensional trip.

"Data to Lieutenant Worf," came from the intercom.

"Worf here."

"They report they are ready for transport. Is everything ready there?"

The medical team and Counselor Troi entered the transporter room.

"All present here. But Chief O'Brien reports that one of the aliens won't fit in the transporter chamber."

"Is the problem volume or mass?" an unfamiliar voice on the comm asked, presumably one of the aliens that Data had spoken to.

"Uh, volume," O'Brien answered.

"That can be changed." A moment later the scan readout showed all clear. O'brien activated the transporter.

A great and proud creature appeared. It had grayish armor-like skin and a huge elaborately shaped head with no recognizable facial features at all. It sat at the back of the chamber. Before it sat two mean little creatures with bulging eyes and, next to them, yet another Zinhoodi. Before them all were the the Captain and Doctor Crusher. They were stretched out together, lying almost on top of each other.

The medical personnel swarmed over them and a moment later one of the doctors pronounced them stable. Worf reported this to the bridge while the two were taken from the transporter pad. The Klingon noticed one doctor tenderly picking up Doctor Crusher and carefully laying her on one of the stretchers. The Klingon expected that if he were ever seriously injured that his staff would treat him with more respect.

The medical personnel left with their charges. The other creatures that had remained to the rear of the transporter advanced.

The gray creature bleeped and appeared to walk with difficulty. When it reached the steps of the transporter, its legs unfolded from its sides and it rose above the Klingon to its full height. Worf and his security people stepped back warily. The two small creatures hopped forward, dragging the Zinhoodi between them.

Worf looked up at the gray creature. He'd been told it was called Avi. Magnificent, the klingon thought.

o*o o*o o*o o*o o*o o*o

Commander Riker heard voices. He moved his head. He felt strangely lethargic, like he really didn't want to wake up, but he did want to find out who the voices belonged to.

He opened his eyes. The world was a blur. He blinked several times and the ceiling of sickbay slowly came into focus. Something has happened, he realized. He looked about. His neck felt stiff. He saw Worf and some medical personnel clustered about other examination tables, but his eyes were drawn to a strange creature at the far end of the room. It looked like a huge statue with a flat head.

Something moved on his legs. Suddenly, a soft, writhing pile of tentacles with sucker ends lay across his knees.

Reflexively, he cried out and tried to roll the mass off of him.

Worf appeared and snarling, seized the creature and ruthlessly threw it against a wall. It landed with a sickening splat and stuck there.

"Mister Worf!" Riker heard Captain Picard's voice rising in anger, then a lot of shuffling and more voices.

/No harm done./ The creature, now slithering down the wall, answered. Riker found its sudden telepathy even more unnerving. Deanna Troi appeared and laid her hands on his shoulders. /I should have announced myself better./ It hit the floor, rolled, and squirmed. Troi placed her hand on his forehead and spoke to him soothingly.

"Will somebody tell me what the hell's going on here?" Riker demanded, trying to sit up. Troi continued speaking softly to him, and pressed his shoulder back down on the bio-bed.

Captain Picard appeared from behind Worf, who stepped back. The Captain was wearing blue sickbay pajamas, the same type that Riker himself wore. His face and scalp were bright pink and covered with delicate ridges of peeling skin. He looked hideous.

"Get a hold of yourself, Number One."

This actually annoyed Riker a bit. Suddenly waking up in sickbay, creatures appearing out of nowhere, he thought he had very good reasons for being upset.

"Excuse me, Captain, but has something been going on that I should perhaps be made aware of?" he asked a trifle snidely and settled back on the bed.

"What's the last thing you remember?" Deanna asked him.

That question threw him. He had no idea how he'd gotten into sickbay. "Um, well, . . . . ." He searched his mind and drew an utter blank. He started rifling through any recent memories he could dredge up. He'd had breakfast that morning, whenever that had been . . . . . .

"Doctor, we haven't finished your physical . . . . ."

"I'm fine." Doctor Crusher elbowed herself away from Doctor Hill. She also wore blue sickbay pajamas. Picard snagged her arm and asked her where she thought she was going.

. . . . . . He'd had eggs, and ham, with toast, and a glass of orange juice . . . . . .

"I don't intend to deal with any transfer requests from your staff, Doctor Crusher."

"I give the orders in sickbay, Captain."

"You don't take them very well, it seems." Picard appeared to be enjoying himself.

. . . . . . Then he'd gone to a staff meeting . . . . .

Still angry, Doctor Crusher capitulated and was herded away, along with Captain Picard. Worf followed them.

. . . . . . The Enterprise was just beginning a mission to investigate some radiation anomalies . . . . .

Will Riker was utterly confused. Deanna sensed it. The room was filled with a post-crisis relief that she found quite comforting. She also sensed the Zinhoodi, creeping about on the floor, unnoticed except by her. It 'smiled' telepathically at her. Worf seemed very satisfied with himself. Doctor Crusher's ire melted into some irony she shared with Captain Picard. The two little hopping creatures didn't like the hard floor of the Enterprise. And Avi's feet hurt.

"Deanna," She looked down at Riker. He gazed up at her with large blue eyes, looking totally lost. He was playing on her for sympathy. She sensed it. "What happened?" he implored.

She smiled down at him. And he knew that she sensed that he wasn't nearly as helpless as he looked. She indulged him anyway. He knew she would.

She laid her hand on his forehead, brushing his bangs back. "Well, to start, you might say we were in the wrong place at the wrong time..."

o*o o*o o*o END o*o o*o o*o

Note: This story was written by me and first printed (under the name 'Anne Davenport') in 1992, in Involution 2, a fanzine back in the hard-copy and snail-mail days of fan-fiction, when the internet was starting to take off.

Disclaimer: All Trek characters and the universe belong to Paramount; I'm just playing in that sandbox.