Star Trek TNG: Crusher's ConspiracybyNigel Debonnaire©
The action of this story takes place immediately after the conclusion of Star Trek: Nemesis, and includes material from the deleted scenes.
Deanna Troi's face leapt to a startled expression on the vidcom monitor. It turned quickly into a smirk: "Well Beverly, I see that you've been getting ready for a Betazoid wedding."
Beverly Crusher shook her red hair slightly over her bare shoulders and stood up tall. Facing her friend's image with pride, she replied: "And why shouldn't I? I think that I'm in as good shape as anyone to appear nude in public."
"You are in stunning shape for a woman of any age. Heads will turn, and I might get jealous if it weren't for the millennia I've waited for Will to get around to making a commitment." Her brow furrowed slightly: "Do you always answer your calls in the nude?"
"No, I made sure that it was you before I accepted the call. How's life on the Titan shaping up."
"We're going to the Neutral Zone; it should be an exciting mission. The crew seems to be a good one, and Will is getting used to his staff officers and bridge crew. The facilities here aren't what they are on the Enterprise, but they're quite nice. We're settling into the new quarters fairly well. How about your new digs?"
"It's beautiful and so peaceful, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and Starfleet headquarters. I love it here, and there's enough privacy to get away with anything. I'll need this place; the staff at Starfleet medical full of energetic young doctors running me ragged with their questions and their demands."
"But you love it."
"But I love it." Beverly smiled and stretched back with her hands clasped over her head,, pulling her breasts up while pushing her pelvis out. "Is there a reason you called tonight; did you just want to gab?"
Deanna became more business like: "No, it's about the psychological study you wanted me to do. About an individual's likely reactions to sudden stress to a particular scenario you presented."
"Yes, tell me." Beverly stood up straight, furrowed her eyebrows, and bit her lip as she waited for her friend's report. One red nailed bare foot patted the carpeted floor in anxiety.
"Well, the subject has proven exceptionally adaptable over the years to new and different situations, but you knew that already. Although the subject has shown great discomfort in situations such as you propose, and has struggled in similar situations when they have arisen, the subject has mellowed over the years, is unlikely to be angered for more than six hours, and is likely to embrace the scenario you propose in time. However, placing the subject in the situation without their knowledge or consent as you propose is difficult to justify."
"You mean that I'm probably right, but I shouldn't do it?" A tear escaped her eye and ran down her cheek.
"Yes. That's exactly what I'm saying. Presenting someone a fait accompli like this is unfair and manipulative. Yes, I know you have experience with the subject that I don't, but this is still presumptuous. Trying talking it out: you may get what you want anyway, and it's much easier to deal with emotionally for everyone."
Beverly shook her head. "I know the subject too well, and I know how the subject will respond to a direct presentation of the proposal. It would be rejected without much consideration. I also know that this is what the subject longs for in life, but would never pursue it on their own or allow another to pursue it on their behalf. This is the only way I can do it, Deanna. Even though it means a conspiracy against the Captain."
Deanna looked at her friend with pleading eyes: "You are probably right, but this isn't the way to do it."
"I wish I didn't have to do it this way, but I can't see any alternative. No else can ever know what I'm doing until everything is over, or it will never happen, and I'll regret it for the rest of my life." Another two tears stole down her ivory cheeks.
"I don't feel good about this, I don't feel good about this at all. You may be confusing your particular desires with the subject's and that's always dangerous. But you may be right, and this may be what this subject wants after all. Even though I think you shouldn't do this, you are my friend Beverly, and my best wishes go with you always. I'll be there for you." A tear crept from Deanna's eye.
A deep breath and short expulsion cleared Beverly's gloom. "That's a comfort knowing with you and Will cavorting around the galaxy," she observed snidely. Deanna's gloom broke with a quick laugh. "I'm glad that your Betazoid wedding is less than a month away."
"Me, too, or else things could get a little embarrassing."
"Yes, about a month along."
"How's Will taking it?"
"Like you'd imagine; proud as a peacock. It's tough to get the twinkle out of his eye or the smile off his face."
"Well, congratulations, Deanna. I'm so happy for you."
Deanna beamed and then the smile faded. "I wish I could say the same."
The screen went blank, and Beverly made sure that any incoming calls were diverted unless Wesley called, which she didn't expect considering the portion of space he was in. She
turned to regard herself in the full length mirror: under the mane of luxurious hair were two bright blue eyes, porcelain skin, pert breasts, thin waist, subtly curved hips and dancer's legs. She smiled at herself: "And it's all me. Beverly, you've never had to bodysculpt or rub out a wrinkle. You're too lucky." Going to her closet, she chose her outfit for the evening, and began her preparations for her date.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard regarded Captain William Riker's visage with its wry smirk. Jean-Luc shook his head in mirth: "That's something I'm going to miss about you, Will. You set up poor First Officer Madden to embarrass himself that day on the bridge splendidly. It was all I could do to keep my laughing out loud at his predicament myself."
Will arched an eyebrow in disbelief: "Captain, I never thought you especially appreciated my practical jokes or my sense of humor. Why the sudden change?"
"Will, I'm not your captain anymore, and you're captain of Titan now. You may call me Jean-Luc."
"All right, Jean-Luc. Are you going soft in your old age?"
Jean-Luc settled himself and looked around. "It's not appropriate for a Captain to laugh at his crew members too much, even if they get caught in silly situations. It's bad for that crewmember's morale, and it can set the wrong tone for your relationship with that crewmember. If I had laughed at Engineer Barclay over the years, he may have never responded to Deanna's positive self-image therapy and he may not be where he is today. You have to support your people, Will, and try to laugh at them after they leave the room. That is absolutely my last pearl of wisdom for your Captain's manual."
"Thank you, Captain. See you at the wedding on Betazed."
"I'll be there with bells on, figuratively speaking. The refit is almost done and we're underway tomorrow." He looked at the chronometer. "And now I've got to go to the transporter room to welcome some old friends coming on board to balance all the departures: Lieutenant Commander Miles O'Brien and family."
"He's been promoted? That's wonderful. What's his new job?"
"Executive Officer. Keiko is going back to work in the arboretum, and the kids are going to be in the school. I hear that they've developed a special interest in archeology, and I hope that we'll have some time to do some digging in the Deneb sector."
Riker gave Picard two arched eyebrows. "Is that really you, Jean-Luc? First, you join our poker games, much to my chagrin, then you turn out to have a crazy sense of humor after all, and now you've even shown enthusiasm for being around children, even teaching a class for them, which you've never done as long as I've known you. Did you get reprogrammed while I wasn't watching?"
Jean-Luc Picard gave an easy laugh. "I've always been a bit too serious, too driven. I've let myself get lost in my fears. I think Wesley was the start: it's hard for me to see him and not be as proud of him as I would my own son. Don't say that I'm changing or getting soft in my old age, Will. I'm growing: I'm not getting older, I'm getting better."
Will Riker gave him a sharp salute. "Good for you, Cap–Jean-Luc. I'll see you at the wedding next month on Betazed.."
Picard welcomed the O'Briens warmly and led them to their new quarters personally. Two hours later, wearing an informal brown wrap around shirt and slacks, he returned to greet Dr. Beverly Crusher. She wore a black strapless dress with a short skirt, a medium sized matching handbag, flesh colored hose, pearl earrings and high heels. They gave each other air kisses, cheek to cheek, then he offered her his arm to escort her through the hallway..
"Sorry I couldn't make it down to the dance a couple of weeks ago. Things just got too busy up here and I couldn't get away."
Beverly gave him a sly smile. "Dinner in the Captain's Quarters the night before departure will more than make up for it. We can go dancing in the Holodeck later if you'd like."
The pair strolled through the hallways, oblivious to the people around them, grinning like teenagers.
Keiko strode into the bedroom and threw a pillow at Miles. "What do you mean that you're taking Night Shift tonight? This is the first time we've had alone for two weeks, our first night back on the Enterprise for years. Why do you have to spend the night on the bridge? We're in Earth orbit, can't one of the junior staff do it?"
Miles walked over, took her arm and drew her close to whisper in her ear: "The Doctor wanted me to be on the bridge tonight. I can't talk about it." Keiko looked rebellious. "It's part of the promotion; new rank, new obligations. Trust me, honey, please. It'll give me time to get reacquainted with the ship as well, and Nog is going to be at the helm. Honey, we'll have five years together here, you and me, and the Holodeck to keep the kids occupied anytime we want."
Molly's voice chimed from the next room. "Yoichi and I are going down to the Holodeck to ski the Alps. Back later, love ya'."
Keiko shouted, "Did you eat supper?"
"Yes, mom, we had some anchovy and shittake Vulcan pizza and some Romulan ale," Yoichi replied. His parents gave him a startled outburst. "Just playing with ya'. We really had goat's milk. Bye."
"Be careful, kids. I don't want you in Sickbay with a broken leg your first night here,." Miles called out. The door hissed cut off his warning behind them.
Keiko subsided after a moment and relaxed. "Well, all right I guess. That's what I get for marrying a Starfleet officer. But you're going to pay me back, mister, big time."
He gave her a peck on the cheek, before the door hissed open for him. "Yes, dear."
The Mozart Clarinet Quintet wafted from the sound system as Jean-Luc and Beverly approached the end of their meal. They sat sipping a clear liqueur at the small, clear topped table across from each other, the remains of a elegant meal before them. Her long legs were crossed so her shoeless red painted toes could accidently brush his knee on occasion. Their sparkling eyes were fixed on each other's as they savored the spirits and the music.
"Jean-Luc, you are full of surprises after all these years. I don't believe I've ever had a better Beef Wellington and asparagus; the escargot, salad, sorbet and chocolate mousse were superb as well. Mousse would have sent Deanna into bliss."
"Thanks. I'm a little rusty in the kitchen, but it's nice to be able to please an old friend."
Beverly put down her glass and sat up straight. "You, a chef? I don't believe it. Where have you been hiding that talent?"
Jean-Luc sipped his drink unperturbed. "After I had my first artificial heart implant, my doctors thought I needed a hobby to give me some perspective that wasn't so competitive but would give me a creative outlet and some discipline. So I spent a year at the Cordon Bleu. Haven't had much chance to practice my skills over the years, but I made a resolution to recover that part of me during this voyage."
She tossed her head, rolling her eyes, and took a big slug of her liqueur. "All right, but I bet you entered a cooking competition or two before you went back on duty."
"Well, yes. I came up with a recipe for Centaurian rhino that won a gold medal from the Cultural Institute; they still serve it at the Bistro Extraterrestriel in Paris, and Ben Sisko's father puts it on the menu from time to time at his restaurant in New Orleans."
She refilled her glass and sat back, crossing her legs crisply and giving him a playful smirk. They sipped their drinks in silence for a few more moments, eyes gleaming at one another. Finally, she said, "This is rather good, too. An unusual taste. What is it?"
"Niège du Vulcan. It's made from a couple of berries harvested from the sub-Arctic region of Vulcan. My brother, Robert, developed it after my recuperation from the Borg attack at the family vinyard. It took him years to get the recipe right. A means of reconciliation with him, such an Earth bound man. Unfortunately, his only original legacy." He took a sip. "The last legacy of the Picards, I'm afraid," he muttered softly and bitterly.
The slow movement of the Mozart ended, and the Minuet began, transforming the mood. She let her foot twirl in the air seductively near his knee again in time with the music, looking at his collection of artifacts. Occasionally the foot would brush the knee, and each brush held contact a little longer than before. When the Minuet was over, she said, "Do remember Kesprytt?"
A warm, small smile played on his lips, and his face brightened from his chin all the way up to his bald head. "Yes. There are times, when I'm falling asleep or waking, that I remember the feel of your thoughts, the closeness of your mind. We were one. I miss that from time to time."
"It's been on my mind lately, too. Makes me wish I hadn't turned you down that night."
"When I suggested we explore our feelings for each other?"
"Yes. It's kind of late now, though. You're leaving tomorrow."
"Well, we have tonight." He beamed at her for several moments, enjoying the touch of her foot on the inside of his knee. "It wouldn't be fair to you, though, to open this up when we have so little time together. I'll see you on Betazed soon, and in two years at Starbase 4651. Perhaps later; we still have time."
She sighed, and continued to toy with the inside of his knee with her toe while stroking her glass with her finger, her gaze locked with his. Suddenly, she put her drink down and pulled a datadisk from her purse. "I almost forgot, I have some data on the world Miliopa in the Deneb sector that you're going to be visiting later this year."
"Oh? I thought that no one had been where we're going."
"A Ferengi vessel was in the area, and just happened to have an archeologist on board. They discovered some interesting things about the civilization that made it to spaceflight before it disappeared. Would you like to look at it while I tell you about it?"
Relieved, he stood up and extended his hand to her. "Of course, it would be a delight."
"Are you sure that you want to take this shift, Mr. O'Brien? It's your first night back on board and you've had long journey from Cordubous." Commander Martin Madden, the new First Officer of the Enterprise, looked at him with worried eyes. "I'm sure that Lieutenant Pickford can take the chair tonight while we're in Spacedock. I don't understand why you're in such a hurry."
Miles O'Brien tried to look back at him placidly through drooping eyelids. "I'm eager to get reacquainted with the ship, and to visit with Ensign Nog again. Staying up all night is something I've done many times before, and I can do it without blinking. Just want to be on top of things and up to speed when I see Captain Picard tomorrow morning 0900, and I have a lot of catching up to do."
The First Officer shook his head. "I don't see why you have to press on, but you've served with the Captain before, so you should know what he wants better than I do. I guess you'll have lot of time to catch up on rest before we cross into uncharted space. Good evening, then." He stood up from Command Chair and left the bridge.
Miles O'Brien stood by the chair and announced: "Lieutenant Commander Miles O'Brien reporting for duty, Executive Officer, U.S.S. Enterprise, Stardate 56943.6. Verify Retinal scan and DNA match."
The Computer replied almost immediately. "Recognized: Lieutenant Commander Miles O'Brien, Executive Officer, U. S. S. Enterpise, Stardate 56943.6. Orders received and posted. Security Clearance 6."
"Begin Night Watch"
"Night Watch begun."
He looked around the bridge at the skeleton crew for the evening. Ensign Nog, the first Ferengi member of Starfleet, sat at the helm. Nog had turned to smile at him briefly before turning back to his console. Ensign Gor'va'taht, a Tellarite, was at the Science station; a large, blue, porcine body with spindly limbs filled his uniform. Ensign Sandrino was at the Engineer's station; it seemed odd that he would be there instead of in Engineering while they were in port, but Sandrino had the choice of where to post himself under the circumstances. He was lean and brown: his hair was black and slicked back; his moustache delicately curled. Looking around, Miles suspected that something unusual was going on, but nothing dangerous. He hit the Comm link: "Dr. T'fil, any report from Sickbay?"
The Vulcan's placid voice came through the comm: "No, Lieutenant Commander. All quiet here, no patients this evening."
"Please be sure to report if a couple of Terran teenagers come by with broken or sprained appendages, if you would be so kind."
"These would be your children, Lieutenant Commander O'Brien, would they not?"
"Very logical, Dr. T'fil."
"I will keep you informed. Sickbay out."
Miles hit the button and looked at the view of Earth through the Spacedock door. Despite his exhaustion, he fidgeted in anticipation of what might happen.
Jean-Luc was hunched over his monitor, entranced; Beverly was directly behind him reaching over his shoulder, pointing. She said, "The archeologist who let me copy this told me that this evidence proves that Miliopa learned spaceflight from an independent trader of unknown origin rather than developed it themselves. This leap in technology created massive strain on the economy, culture, morality, and orientation of the Miliopans. They disappeared about one hundred of their years after gaining this knowledge."
He nodded: "This is still more evidence to the wisdom of the Prime Directive. Such a tragedy for this to happen to any race, particularly one so innocent."
She tapped a couple of buttons on his keypad and brought up some more images. "Here's some images that I think you'll find fascinating. The Miliopans used sexual expression as an integral part of their spirituality. These images depict a series of positions that they thought would bring them union with the Creativity of the Universe, and they practiced them as part of weekly ritual both in the home and at their temples."
"Yes, similar to the ancient Canaanite religions of Earth, as well as the Kama Sutra tradition and the Bes'marq of Andorria Prime. The Miliopans were such a beautiful people."
"They even performed these ritual acts on the launch pad of their first space expedition before it took off."
He sat back, his bald head touching her left breast through the dress. Her eyes closed at the contact. "Can you animate this?" he said.
"Of course." She touched another pad and a slideshow of each sex act appeared in turn before them. Her face leaned forward to look at the monitor more closely, their cheeks barely touched. The figures almost danced before them in their simple elegance and passion. His attention was focused on the screen for long time after their cheeks touched, then he turned his face so their lips could follow the natural magnetism between them and blend with hers.