Here is the first of THREE Star Trek: THe Next Generation based stories. The parts to follow will have some tie-in to this one!
Immortality for Deanna
The planet Ohm was finally ready for acceptance into the Federation. To prepare for the formal festivities, Commander Riker and Counselor Troi were dispatched to the planet. They were to spend a week helping not only to prepare for the ceremonies, but to complete the requisite research about their culture. Riker was looking forward to this particular assignment, as he knew that the pleasures offered on this planet challenged those offered on Risa. There was no higher calling to the inhabitants of this planet than to honor the rituals of love. Troi was similarly motivated, but she was more interested in rekindling her romance with Will than sampling the offerings of Ohm.
For the first two days, Riker devoted himself to meeting with the governing officials of Ohm to complete the research part of his assignment. For her part, Troi focused on visiting cultural establishments, museums, libraries and other facilities where historical knowledge had been archived. At the end of the second day, Riker and Troi had completed the research. All appeared to be in order... there was nothing discovered that would jeopardize the upcoming ceremonies. That night, Deanna visited Will in his room. "I see that your room is similarly decorated.", Troi remarked when she noticed the exquisite statuary adorning the room. "I have found this to be somewhat interesting.", he replied, "The detail is astounding. If these sculptures weren't cold and hard to the touch, I'd swear that they were real beings, in spite of their polished appearance." Will stepped over to a statue of a slender woman who was several inches shorted than he was. "If I stand here and look down towards her, she stares back at me." Will demonstrated. Indeed, the white orbs of her eyes seemed to stare into him. Will unconsciously reached out and caressed its face. Deanna giggled, "Perhaps I should leave you two alone?". Will's turned to face Deanna, obviously embarrassed. "I've always found fine art such as this to be erotic." Deanna saw this as her opportunity. She stepped onto a low table, shed her clothing and assumed the same pose as Will's latest fantasy interest. "Okay, I'll bite.", he thought to himself as he stepped over to Deanna. She remained motionless and could sense the impact it was having on him. "If this is all it's going to take to bring us back together, I'll have to thank the governors when the ceremonies have completed." She was suddenly startled to find herself being lifted from the makeshift pedestal, but did not break her pose. Riker lowered her from the table to the floor and stared deep into her eyes. "You, Deanna, are a much finer work of art than anything I've seen on this planet." She melted into his arms. As the night wore on, Deanna got her wish. Their romance had rekindled with a vengeance.
On the morning of the third day, Riker went back to government facility and met with the designated planetary leader, Em-El. With the laborious work out of the way, their conversation was the most informal one to date. The curiosity driving him to near insanity, Riker finally asked, "Em-El, Deanna and I have been marveling at the rather fine statuary we've been seeing just about everywhere. How has your culture come to focus on female beauty in this manner?" "Over a thousand years ago," Em-El began, "a strange illness began sweeping through the female population of Ohm. Thousands died very painful, but very quick deaths. Before finding a way to overcome this catastrophe, we discovered that only women older than 28 years were being afflicted, with some, but statistically insignificant, exceptions. With the majority of the male population grief stricken and worried about the continuance of our race, every effort was poured into preserving our future. While we could not help those afflicted, we consoled ourselves by recording and their images to immortalize them. We found that if steps were taken quickly enough once someone became afflicted, we could record them and preserve their beauty before the disease took that beauty away. In the end, we achieved our goals and our population flourishes again. From that time on, we have devoted ourselves to honoring our females in the best way we know."
The rest of the meeting was uneventful. The details of the ceremonies were worked out fairly quickly, and Wills' curiosity was satisfied. That evening, he and Deanna got together again. "How was your day, finally being able to walk among the people without having to worry about a boring research assignment?" Riker asked. "I met several interesting people who shared some of their personal experiences with me. I found it rather fulfilling." Riker was surprised by the latter part of her statement. He hadn't heard her talk like that before. He looked, or rather stared, at her. At times like this, he could feel her emotions, too. As he suspected, but didn't quite believe, she had gotten quite personal, perhaps intimate, with the local natives.
The next morning, Riker awoke to the sound of Deanna crying out in pain. "Will!", she cried, "we have to find a doctor! My whole body is in great pain! I don't know how long I can bear this!" With that, she passed out. She would have hit the floor hard if not for Riker's quick reaction. He carried her to his bed and laid her down. He rushed across the room to a comm panel and called the government facility to dispatch medical personnel immediately. A few minutes later, a medical technician arrived, followed by Em-El. "I'm sorry. I heard the emergency call and personally dispatched our best doctor. Is there anything more I can do for you?" "No, thank you.", Riker replied, all the while staring at Deanna. "Sir!", the doctor suddenly said in a raised voice, "Please look at this!" Em-El approached the opposite bedside and stared at the area the doctor had indicated. "Oh no!", he silently uttered. Riker, however was standing behind him and heard the words. The tone of those word sent a cold chill through his spine.
"Deanna is afflicted with the disease. We must rush her to the medical facilities immediately!" Will picked up the unconscious Deanna and quickly took her to an awaiting vehicle. En route to the facility, Riker sent an emergency message to the Enterprise. They would arrive in 4 hours, traveling at maximum warp. At the medical facility, she was rushed to a what appeared to be an underground quarantine facility. Riker stood by for two hours as doctor after doctor examined Deanna. Finally, Em-El approached. "I'm afraid that we can do nothing to save her from the disease, Commander." "Can you place her in stasis until the Enterprise arrives tomorrow?", he immediately asked. "That's not an option. We don't have the technology to preserve her in such a manner quickly enough. At the rate the disease is spreading, she won't last another four hours. I've taken the liberty of ordering her recording within the hour before her beauty is stolen from her." "With all due respect, sir, that seems to be more than a little presumptuous. If the Enterprise can be here in a couple of hours, we still have a chance at saving her!" "I thought you might present that argument, Mr. Riker. Please follow me. There's something you need to see." They walked down the hallway to an adjoining wing. In the room they visited, Riker saw four women screaming and writhing in terrible pain. "They are in the same stage of the disease that your Counselor Troi is in. Please follow." They walked into the next room. The site that greeted Riker gave him the heaves. "The women in this room were not caught in time. The discoloration of this woman signifies that she has only minutes to live. The women you see on the next two beds have only been dead for maybe five minutes. You can see how disfigured they are. Their molecular structures are decaying at an incredible rate." They stepped out of the room. "Do you understand now, Mr. Riker? If we don't do this within the next 30 minutes, Troi will suffer horribly. I'm truly sorry I had to show you this, but this was the fastest way to drive home my point." "I understand, Em-El.", Riker replied in a quiet, shaken voice, "I thought that your people had defeated this long ago." "No, Commander, we've only been able to deal with the grief and preserve our race. There is no cure for this." Desperate for some hope, but with no other options open to him, Riker finally gave in, "perform the ritual."
Ten minutes later, Will accompanied the still unconscious Deanna to the room where her image would be recorded and become a part of the gruesome statistics of the planet Ohm. Deanna was injected with a stimulant to bring her back to consciousness. Although still in great pain, she sensed Will's torment. Em-El instructed that they be left alone for a short time. Breaking the deafening silence, Deanna finally asked, "Will, how do you want to remember me?" He choked back his sorrow and replied, "that pose you did the other night would do you justice, not only to your youth and beauty, but to the feelings we've shared." "Then that's how it will be. Please call Em-El back in here." Will didn't understand this at all, but he called for Em-El. "I believe she's ready now." "Commander, you can observe the procedure from that room if you like." He indicated a door down the hall. Will entered the room, forcing himself to look on. On the other side of the glass, he saw a section of the floor rise. He watched Em-El guide Deanna onto the raised section. Em-El stepped back from Deanna. He reached into his pocket and drew out a vial. He poured the contents into his cupped hand, discarded the vial and blew the contents towards Deanna. A fine, white mist enveloped her. When it settled, he saw that some of it had clung to her body. As he watched, the substance appeared to spread. At first, he thought that this was a trick of the light, but after a few minutes, he couldn't deny what his eyes were showing him. Her hair became glossy white, the fine strands seeming to blend together into larger strands, but unmistakably Deanna's style. Her lip color started to fade and her entire body became pale. Riker saw Deanna turn her head upwards and suddenly stiffen. Her skin was much whiter now. Seconds later Em-El broke Riker's concentration, "It's over, Commander." They walked back into the room where Deanna's image had been 'recorded'. Perhaps 'preserved' was the more operative word. He stepped unto the raised floor and looked down onto Deanna's face. The white orbs of her eyes seemed to stare into him. He reached out and caressed her face. It was cold, hard and smooth. It was stone. Deanna had been turned to stone. "She knew that this would happen, that's why she asked how she wanted to be remembered.", he thought aloud. He felt a wave of warmth flow over him. He heard Deanna in his mind, "Imzadi". "She's not dead?", Riker asked. "We truly don't know.", Em-El replied. "There are legends that some stone women can be heard in their lover's thoughts, but nothing science would consider conclusive." This brought some comfort to Will. "Thank you, Em-El. I truly appreciate that."
Aboard the Enterprise , grief rocked the entire crew. Not only had Dr. Crusher been through a crisis of her own while Riker and Deanna were away, now they had to deal with the loss of Counselor Troi. As the weeks passed, Ohm was accepted into the Federation. The Federation pledged to devote key resources to destroying the disease that claimed Deanna. Will Riker kept the stone visage of Deanna in his quarters. In time he found that she could still arouse him. In those moments, he heard Deanna in his thoughts. Deanna, however, truly had not perished as a result of the disease nor the transformation into her current, seemingly inanimate state. She was alive in her petrified form and longed for Will's warm touches, having discovered heightened senses in her present form. Many a night his hands ran over every square inch of her, pushing her to new heights in ecstasy.
This is not 'the end.' Stay tuned for Beverly's parallel story and the
return of Counselor Troi. Coming soon to a web page near you!