"You can't outrun them, you can't destroy them.
If you damage them, the essence of what they are remains.
They regenerate and keep coming.
Eventually you will weaken.
Your reserves will be gone. They are relentless!"
Q, Q Who
"Lieutenant Kit, have you figure out why we can't send a message to Starfleet Command?" Riker asked. She combed back her long brown hair, then she got up and gave her report.
"Well sir it is not the storm that creating the interference, well it's — partially." Riker just gave her a look.
"Commander we are being jammed. Every time that I try to get rid of it, the signal somehow adapts — it's like nothing I have seen ever before! I know that this is not Romulan, Klingon, Ferengi, Bajoran, Cardassian or even Maquis."
"Thank you Lieutenant, you can leave." He sighed and walked over to Worf's station. Worf looked as if he was going break the console with his bare hands and throw it across the bridge.
"Is something the matter Worf? You look as if the console had grown horns." Riker asked half-jokingly. Worf took a deep breath.
"Commander can an object like a ship be somewhere without being there?"
Riker took a moment to think and then he answered. "Well, the only species I know of that use clocking technology are the Klingons and the Romulans, but I don't know of any other species that uses that technology."
Worf answered back, "You see this blip."
"Mr. Worf there is nothing there…" Worf gave Riker a look, "Commander wait for it…" Then suddenly a blip showed up and then disappeared.
"What was that?"
"I do not know sir, but the long range sensors says nothing is there. If you're going to ask if I did a Level 1 diagnostic check on the sensor array." Pressing a button bring up the report, "I have, and nothing is malfunctioning."
Without even thinking about it, "We are being watched."
"No, sir we are being hunted." Worf like Commander Riker was getting the feeling of being hunted, it disturbed him greatly. He did not like to be hunted, he was a warrior and it was always he that did the hunting.
"Do you think it is the Romulans?" Worf shook his head.
"No, sir. They wouldn't risk starting a war."
"Worf, where is the ship now?" Walking down the decline to his seat then he turned to the Security Officer.
"Unknown, sir." His fingers hovering over the controls, "Should we notify the Captain about this?"
"No, Mr. Worf." This got him stares from his friends. Data looked up from the science station. The Bridge became quite and tension filled the air. Not telling the Captain of certain events, especially picking up an enemy ship, was going against the Captain's orders.
Picard walked out of the turbolift. Everyone drew in a breath, the Captain turned his head one and way and then the other, wondering why everyone stopped working.
The personnel returned to their work. The tension on the Bridge went down, but it left the feeling of uneasiness. Picard walked down to his chair, but he was presently surprise to see Beverly. He smiled, before he sat in his chair.
"Data is studying the pattern of the storm and Geordi is in engineering doing an analysis, but no results yet, Captain."
Picard wasn't paying attention to Riker's report, but to his headache. He was getting them everyday it seemed and they were intensifying. He closed his eyes and tried to message his temples. His head was throbbing like a hammer hitting his skull and his neck was stiff as a board. Even his eyes hurt, his entire body was sore and nothing that he did helped to dull the pain. He didn't want to go Dr. Crusher because he didn't want to brother her, and that a cup of Earl Gray could do the job of a hypospray just as well.
The light's of the Bridge intensified getting brighter and becoming like white stars. The sounds of the working personnel and the equipment blared in his ears like a concert. He heard every button being pressed and every breath of his officers. The aromas around him became more pungent like Beverly's wildflower perfume. Riker's voice became distance to Picard to the point where he couldn't hear the words coming out of his mouth. Suddenly Picard's vision started to blur and everything became silent and still.
When he heard the voice of the Collective. It was a barely audible whisper of multiple voices. At first they were chaotic and was like a maelstrom to Picard's mind, but once he got used to the voices, they became orderly. Something deep in Picard's heart snapped, he swore he would never hear them again. Not after two years of not thinking about them, they were defected and would never conquer Earth again. This could not be the Borg. Picard screamed in his mind in an endless mantra.
He knew that it was the Borg and nothing could change that. Something in Picard's soul changed. Picard felt his anger rise to levels he hadn't dreamed about. He was livid at the Borg for what they did to him. Picard curled his knuckles until they turned white. He wasn't just livid with them, he wanted them to pay for what they did to him.
Picard was pushed back into reality, when the voice of the Borg started to get further and further away and Beverly's voice started to get closer. Freed from the prison of his mind and back on the Bridge. Everything was back to normal before he heard the Collective.
He had hardly any time to recognize that his left arm was being shaken by Beverly.
"Jean-Luc. Jean-Luc. Jean-Luc is everything alright?"
Startled,"Yes, Doctor!" Coming out louder than expected, after feeling so small in his own mind. This got the attention of the bridge crew, even the Lieutenant Hawkins sitting at Navigations turned his chair around. Realizing what he done, he quickly composed himself, straightening out his jacket.
"Captain was my report really that boring?" Riker asked joking a little. Picard threw him a glare telling him to shut up. Riker's smile disappeared, he was quite offended, but concern filled his blue eyes.
"Is something the matter Captain?" Picard got up from his chair.
"Yes, everything is fine…I just need a cup of tea." Heading toward his ready room. Beverly ran in front of him and stopped him.
"Captain would you please…"
Picard cut her off. "Doctor leave me alone. Just go back to Sickbay, where you belong. But, please leave me alone." Snapping at his CMO. Beverly was momentarily stunned. He rudely shoved her aside and went into his ready room.
Riker walked toward Beverly, who was just standing there.
Beverly looked like a bomb shell was dropped on her, but her eyes told him that she was outrage that the Captain would yell at her like that. Sure they had there arguments, and he would raise his voice, but he would never yell at her to get his point across. She curled back her fingers, and sucked in air into her lungs, fury was boiling in her being.
She let her fury go, for now. As she went passed Riker, the turbolift's lifts doors opened and LaForge made way for Dr. Crusher to enter the turbolift, trying to avoid her death glare.
Picard's Ready Room
Picard walked in and went over to the replicator. "Earl Gray. Hot." Once it replicated his drink, he took it and sat it on his desk, but didn't sit down. He continued to walk around his Ready Room.
Then he heard them again, but this time it was louder. It wasn't an inaudible whisper, now it was thousands, millions or even billions of voices shouting. He almost fell down by the intensity of the voices. It lasted what seemed like hours to Picard, then suddenly the voices of the Collective stopped and he was alone. Picard felt a presence behind him.
Maybe it's Riker. He thought.
"Number One there is a such a thing as an alert chime." As he turned around to face the door and what he found made him speechless.
It was Wesley standing in his red Ensign uniform. He had a look of disappoint in his eyes, instead of his usual warm brown eyes, they had the color of cold obsidian. He wasn't injured, nor his uniform in tatters, he looked perfectly healthy, his hair was combed back in his regular hairstyle and he was clean shaven. It was if Wesley didn't die at all.
Picard's jaw was half way open as he looked at his Ensign, he was at a lost for words. He just simply stared at Wesley in amazement. His heart skip a beat. Has Wesley Crusher stood in front him. This couldn't be real. He thought
"Wesley…" Picard finally said after a few seconds past between them. Wesley just titled his head and just looked at him in a sad, yet an angry expression. Wesley had this look of a child whose father never came when he promised.
"Captain, why didn't you save me? Why didn't you?" Wesley questioned in a broken voice. What broke Picard's heart was how Wesley kept looking at him. He stared at him like his personal hero let him down.
"Wesley…the evidence that we gathered––" Looking away,"You couldn't have survived that explosion."
Wesley just shock his head in disappointment. Tears cascaded down his face. Picard felt as if he had kicked a puppy.
"You weren't looking hard enough." Tears went down his cheeks and he breathed heavily. Picard closed his eyes to try to lessen the painful sight that he was seeing. Once he opened his eyes, Wesley was gone. Picard went over to his desk and started to sip on his tea.
He turned his personal computer toward him. "Computer search: Ensign Wesley R. Crusher." The computer made a sound when it pulled up the information.
"Born July 29 2348, died July 29 2366, age 18. In Stardate 41263.4 civilian Wesley R. Crusher was given the field of Acting Ensign by Captain Jean-Luc Picard." Said the computer in it's female voice. Picard just roiled his eyes.
"Computer narrow down the search to July 29, 2366 and all data regarding the investigation." When the computer pulled up all the information. Picard started to sort through it, but found nothing. Then he had an epiphany.
"Computer narrow down the search to only Wesley's finding at the Messier station." The computer pulled up a short list. Which surprise Picard because his original thought was that Wesley only studied the chip and not the storm. He pulled up the content of the storm. He read the list of elements, but what shocked him the most was to find out that the ion storm wasn't an ion storm, but some sort of exhaust like from a rocket.
Then it clicked. Wesley's dying message: NOT AN ION STORM, Wesley must have found out that the storm wasn't at all storm, but exhaust from what? He pulled up another report, which told him of a wormhole in the area, but it wasn't technically a wormhole because it didn't have all the characteristics.
Then he thought. What if it is not a wormhole, but some sort of technology? Slowly the pieces started to come together. But, what species would possessed that kind of technology? He thought.
When the other report scrolled down to the end of the screen. It read:
Only one species used that element.
He couldn't believe that he let that an opportunity to get his revenge on the Borg, slip though his fingers. His blood boiled, he threw his cup of Earl Gray against the wall breaking it into thousand pieces.
"The storms are the same and the Borg are in the area, but this time they won't escape! But I can't tell my crew about this information because they would turn back their backs on me."
When he walked onto the Bridge he saw Riker, Data, Geordi studying the storm and Worf was at his station. Picard walked up the ramp to his officers and watched them worked until they noticed him.
Riker turned a little bit to see that Picard was behind them. He jumped a little.
"Captain," Getting the attention of Data and Geordi.
"Report." Riker saw that he had an evil glint behind his gray eyes.
"Progress is slow sir, but we'll pull through."
"This may help," Picard said as he pulled up the information for Wesley's investigation. Riker's expression fell, Data and Geordi gave concerning looks for their Captain.
"Captain . . . .That is the investigation into Wesley's death. How in the world will that help?" Picard just walked away. This for Riker was horrifying to him. Re-opening Wesley's case was like tearing the stitches off a healing wound.
"I don't care if it was the investigation into Wesley Crusher's death. Number one." Picard snapped back with venom in his voice not even bothering to look at his first officer.
"Captain—this doesn't make sense."
Picard's face didn't even flinch. He turned to his first officer, he was sick of Riker questioning him and his orders for this mission.
"What doesn't make sense is you questioning my orders. I made them clear, yet you still question them. I want my orders to be followed the first time," Picard spat back, with underlying vindictiveness.
"Or you will find yourself in the brig Commander. Do I make myself clear?"
Riker stayed quiet. He felt as if was punched in the stomach. The whole bridge was quiet as they looked at their Captain and First Officer's showdown.
"I said do I make myself clear?" Picard repeated with more aggression.
"Yes, Captain." Riker finally said with reluctance. As he looked into his Captain's eyes challenging his command. This challenge was ended when Riker looked away. He knew that he couldn't get Picard to think clearly even though it was his job, he had to have help and if that failed. He didn't know if anyone could.
"Mr. Data take us further into this ion storm." Picard ordered. Data walked down to his station and set a course.
"Course laid in sir."
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