Image of prophets.jpg Image of anivoyagerspingoldlogo.gif Image of tnglogo.gif Image of anitinylcarsgrid.gif

Image of voyagerinwave.gif

Image of spla3a3a.gif Image of twinkle.gif
Image of twinkle.gif Image of spla3a3a.gif

    A Star Trek Voyager/Star Trek Next Generation Crossover Episode Story

Image of anienterpriseburninup.gif

Image of miragecharacters.jpg

Image of computertextscroll.gif
           by Patti Keiper
Pen name: Anotherjaneway
Image of computertextscroll.gif

Image of mirageworld.jpg

Image of aninextgenshipfire.gif

Title:    Mirage

Author:   Anotherjaneway


Series:   X  STV/STTNG

Part:     Complete episode.

Rating:     [G]

Code:       X  Geordi&Crusher STTNG meets Janeway&EMH  STV  

Summary:    Geordi LaForge and Dr. Crusher survive a
           shuttle stranding on a winter world. Along
           the way, they meet a unicorn child and
           the lost captain of the famed USS. Voyager.

Disclaimer:  Gee. All people here are theirs. Paramount is the
            God of Star Trek. They just let me play in their

Comments:    This piece I wrote for Pocket Books contest, Strange
            New Worlds, the first issue in 1996. It did well,
            making the halfway mark before it was axed. The
            only reason being that the editors weren't looking
            for crossovers in that volume. (LOL).  I think
            I got Geordi down. The two aliens are my own creation
            and later mysteriously surfaced in a novel series
            featuring Acorna by english author Anne McCaffrey
            in the late nineties two years later. (Hmmmm...)

            Oh yes, one more thing. The use of the number
            47 in this story was very intentional..  ;)

             All comments welcome. I had fun. I write canon
             PG-13 as hobby on a Trek Writer's site.
             And I impersonated Janeway for a living with an agency.
   (Look up Liza Minelli)
            See my Janeway look alike days at
            stored on my website featuring two role play games.



  Contest Entry for Pocket Books Strange New Worlds  1996  
     "My only halfway point survivor submission"   LOL!

The stars shone in the inky black night, their scant light shining
everywhere except in the space where a small shuttle cruised en route.
The stark beauty surrounding the little ship didn't go unnoticed by
the Starfleet commander at the helm. She smiled,

   "Beverly Crusher, shuttle's personal log : Stardate 240918.7.
I've finally managed to pry Geordi LaForge away from his beloved warp
conduit relays long enough for him to get in some much needed R&R."

The doctor shot a meaningful look at the the youthful engineer seated to
her left. He was slumped in the nav chair with the weight of the world
square on his yellow and black uniformed shoulders. He absently hit
computer buttons, mumbling mostly to himself,
"I'm rested. *Beep* I'm fit. *Beep* Commander Riker is the tired one.
Why didn't you bring him along?"

Beverly straightened her blue lab coat absently over her lap. It never
ceased to amaze her how many of the Enterprise crew were workaholics
and didn't even realize it. Why even Chief O'Brien managed to work three
consecutive shifts straight without batting an eye. He was only aware that
he had a problem when he mistook a canister of lubricant for a mug of
coffee. Dr Crusher chuckled, amused,
"We are running incommunicado while we skirt an area near the Cardassian
border and will remain so until we rendevous with the U.S.S. Kilamanjaro
for Geordi's transfer on board. His destination? Talyas moon. Wil Riker's
idea of paradise..."

Geordi LaForge brightened.  He polished the edge of his visor with a
sleeve, "Yep. It sure is. Mine, too."

Dr. Crusher paused, angling her jaw, "Computer, Hold recording." She fixed
Geordi with a curious stare. "I know this is none of my business WHERE you
go on leave, even as ship's physician and all,  but...what really goes
on over there? I mean, even Deanna can't get a good fix on Wil for days...
after he goes to this moon.."

Geordi just stared vaguely ahead lost in a remembered haze. He purred
a long, pleasured sigh as he clicked his visor back into place. His
face afforded her a meaningful look full of innuendo.

The doctor abruptly closed her mouth. She retraced steps rapidly, "Never
mind. It's a guy thing...Annnd, I really think I don't want to know.
Resume log.." She hid behind a datapadd.

Geordi snapped out of his reverie at her discomforture, "Aw, no. It's
not like THAT at all.. You gotta go, Beverly. The people there are so--"

Dr. Crusher cleared her throat, interrupting him, "Until I rendevous back
with the Enterprise a week from now, I plan to indulge myself in some
heavy duty playwrighting. That is.." She put a hint of tension in her
voice, "...after I pass all of my tests. End log."

Her ploy worked. Geordi was effectively distracted.
"Test nerves? You? Spoken like a true novice.." he chided.

Dr. Crusher tossed the padd onto her console, "O.k., I'm finished.
Now what? I've faced failed stabilizers, a wormhole, and hostile
radiation exposure." She reset her coordinates with a fancy flourish
of button beeps, "This stuff isn't so bad.."

Geordi chuckled with ominous amusement, "Heh. Those scenarios are
for junior grade shuttle pilots." He cracked his knuckles, "I'm just
getting started.."


The cold was piercing. Footprints tracked in the snow. Their line was
uneven and marred with the craters of frequent falls. A slightly dressed
man in ragged sky blue clothes shifted his burden carefully as he leaned
against a twisted tree, "Soon, my Ariel. We won't be found here."
::The powerful ones with the name of a single letter are short sighted
and luckily, very reluctant to search about artic wastelands like this
poor world. They will never have Ariel as a plaything. Not as long as
I am still alive.::

He stroked the cheek of the delicate child nestled in his arms. Snowy
white tresses wafted away from Ariel's milky face and revealed large,
lavender eyes which regarded his own amber ones with a deepening trust,
"Guardian, it's happening again.." she murmured sleepily.

The old alien looked up in alarm at the surrounding woods. But there was
only silence in the chill. For several, tense seconds, his exhausted
gasps punctuated the quiet as he convinced himself that their
pursuers were no where near. Slowly, the blue sun star's feeble
light and the light crystalline song of the daylight wind through the
iced, bare trees ended his fright. "I hear nothing child. We are alone."

"Not THEM..... "Look" here..." she said vaguely.

He focused differently.
Impossibly, the sound of dripping water grew in the distance.  
A torrid promise of a place that was cruelly denied him by the
weakness in his body.
"Paradise is coming?..." he asked, "In this rising
wet?"  Tears filled his amber eyes and froze on his saffron skin
as the familiar liquid chorus brought him memories of his home
fold, tucked away, just out of his reach, by the judgement of
his own race and others. "But this world has been frozen
for millenia. There is no gate to my Home here."

The sound reminded him painfully of what he longed for truly.
The Guardian's face broke into a desperately sad smile and he
sighed a long trailing sob, no longer willing to handle any
reminders of his past. But then, with the melting, came a
new sensation, a spicy scent that bit down hard and
greatly shortened his breath.

Sudden confusion twisted his features and he swayed
in the deep snow. He grew dizzy, nearly dropping
Ariel as an unexpected swirl of warmth surrounded them. It
triggered a Change spasm inside the Guardian...and he
fell to his knees.

At the rude jarring of his stumble, the albino child made a soft sound
that sliced through his heart. "..Ahh.." she sighed, almost musically.

Its effect on him offset the pulling burn of the strange climate
oddity he thought he saw coming into being around him.
He pulled his  thoughts back together once more as he
coaxed the child to let the chill return as it should to their


Ariel was the last of her race, one that had no name. It
was a cruelly tragic outcome, one that the Guardian felt he
was responsible for regardless of how things went on
their own. It had torn at him when he found later that
she was all alone after his pursuers "unmade" her people
purely for hatred's sake.

He had witnessed the death of Ariel's mother, left alive until
the last, at her birthing, in his tormentor's idea of a joke.  
He had been enraged when the Ones from the Continuum
ruled the newborn a threat to their realm as they had accused the
Guardian, simply because both were....."evolving beyond
Galactic norms".

By some miracle, The Guardian had snatched the innocent
child away with him, making the Continuum think she too
expired under their thought energy, and so their long evading
escape attempt began.

His discovery of concealment on winter worlds gave him
hope, but deep down, the Guardian knew that the tiny
foaling girl in his arms would most likely be doomed to
the same loneliness and death through their self
righteous pursuers, should she ever be discovered to
still exist, as he was destined to suffer.

::But she is from the model people, originators of the unicorn.
It is unfair that she, too, is marked to be extinct, like that
noble creature.::  That inevitability for her saddened the
Guardian more than it did for any animal form he had
ever seen die out forever in the length of his entire memory.
He did not care that he himself had been tagged for
culling. His people were told they could continue, so long as
the Change never happened in their children's genes on
a regular basis.  No doubt he would be killed, earlier than
was slated, for saving her.

The Q's decision about Ariel's people's fate aside, the
Guardian's misery was indelibly enforced on a second front as well.
His own people's encouraged biase toward anyone undergoing
the Change. That ugly prejudice had only sharpened once the
Q had laid down the law.  

He had been banished off planet for the sudden
altering which manifested in his genome during his teen years
and now, in his old age, his Change frequency rate alerted
the Q to attend to him in the final chase, until he "ceased
to exist".  ::There is a chance for me. If my Change
completes first. Then, I will be beyond their reach.
Only then, can I return Home. But no one in the history
of my race has ever made it that far. The Q are too strong.::

They were almost upon him in one system, and he poised
to give up, when he had found Ariel and her plight.

The old pariah decided to devote what was left of his
life to her for as long as he could for her presence offered
him true comfort and surrease from his troubles.
:: My fate may be exiled execution because I am
elevating physically beyond my own kind, but now I find
that hers will be a far worse one if she remains visible
to the rest of the galaxy even if we should successfully
elude the Q. For in her eyes, I've found a fatal flaw.::

He thought further about the curious effect the tiny child
had on others and himself once she had started talking.
::Anyone who looks into those eyes of hers
is instantly caught with a false, unstoppable realization
that anything or any desire can be obtainable through her
in an instant. :: The hunched over saffron alien smiled
at Ariel, shielding his musings from her probing mind
with a gentle wash of bonding.
::She will become a tool if she should ever leave my care.::
the Guardian hypothesized. ::No doubt, Ariel
will be revered as a god or condemned as a curse, if rediscovered,
to serve or die for whomever won the war over her.::

The Guardian swore to create a third option for this final
rare child. He would spare her from that horrid
existence of fear or servitude. She would know a normal
life. Even at the early cost of his own. For now, being
together, they were whole.

Then one day, the Guardian felt something go wrong
with his Changes. Pain became his constant companion.
And he grew afraid that even his tiny dream of true escape
would be smothered before it had even begun to burn.

He kept it from Ariel's detection, but her evolving abilities
made each day doing so more and more difficult.

The Guardian only hoped he could continue long enough
to save them both from oblivion.


It was high sun and the bright sunlit blue glow
surrounding them in the snowy valley made his
eyes tingle with color shock.
The Guardian tucked his rusty mane under his sky hood and
looked out over the azure snowscape for their next level
course into deeper cover. Wine colored trees crackled
in the bitter cold. He didn't even feel his own bodily
faults left over from the Change surges for the day.
And he smiled at that small mercy. ::Ahh, such sweet ice.
It is a balm blanketing me. :: He had chosen well to hide
Ariel here.:: THEY never bother this world, for nothing
changes here at all. Even the forest. It's in natural
glacial stasis.::

For a time, he rested in the snow, imagining the blue sun
warming his soul.

"So cold." the child wondered, innocently watching her breath
curl in the bright sunlit air from her place nestled in
his arms. "No more.." she whispered. Her forehead furrowed
in concentration.

Her Guardian touched the button of glowing horn there. "Don't."
he soothed as he imagined her dead father might have once.
"You don't know what you are doing, child. Bring no moving
water and no warmth out. It hurts me."

A cramp from carrying his precious burden so long wracked his
altered left arm and that hand fell away onto an ice covered plant
near where he was kneeling. It was curiously still green under
its shell of ice. ::What's this?::

Others nearby began to steam and drip with
boiling hisses..

With a growing look of horror, the alien man struggled to his
feet with Ariel. He realized that she was trying to reach his Home
fold from another angle. "No!  Don't bring that place yet.
Not now.. I...need to balance myself." Pain stabbed deep in his head
as he sought control of yet another Change ebbing inside of him.  
"Ahh!!  Stop this Ariel!!  It's too soon..."

"Summer...  Peace... This is what you want.. You...need-" she
puzzled, not understanding. Her angelically pure face glowed around
the tiny lilac button of horn on her forehead.

From the plant, the shell of ice fell completely away. Rainbow
mist began to rise from its leaves in iridescent fire and the air
surrounding them grew spicy.

A new wave of weakness staggered the Guardian and he gasped, his
mind going numb.  He cradled the tiny child, tightly gripping her
palm, "Ariel.. I'm...not prepared... Let...let it go.  I'm here
on this world, keeping you from them, trying to protect you.
I don't deserve to leave...not yet.. I won't leave you behind!"  

But she had closed her eyes against him in thrall.

The power grew.  Whirling, the Guardian tried to search for
healthy frost, an escape route away from the area metamorphosing
around them.

He covered her head.  An intricate transparent
timebomb appeared in the snow already locked into
a countdown in Iconian numbering at his feet.

Ariel smiled, "There will be "light". Like the blue sun above.." she
promised him.

He put a trembling hand to her lips, "You don't understand.
There's danger to me if you do this.." The Guardian ran as
fast as he could with her into the trees where the ice was
still silent. "I must not go now.. Resist it, Ariel. Fight!"

Something of his wish communicated itself to her
on a deep level because soon, unseen by the fleeing pair,
the thawing place where they had rested ...paused.

The created bomb faded away into nothingness and the
plants in the snow froze one by one, their permanent
winter ice sealing over them once more. The eternal
silence of the forest returned.


A half an hour later, the pain in the Guardian's head had gone.
And his tie with Ariel resumed.

She awoke. Ariel had no recollection of how they arrived to where
she now found herself. Memory was a morass. ::What did I do??::
she wondered with dread, ::I wanted to help him and yet--::

She startled in her nesting blanket, then relaxed when she found
he was next to her, sharing his insulating cape.

He lay stretched in a sleep of the dead around the campfire he
had started which did not burn any matter. That simple Iconian
miracle never ceased to amaze her and she laughed and the icicles
around her answered back when she made the blue flames grow higher.

Then an odd tendril of "knowing" came from her companion even through
his sleep. Ariel's eyes shut..
::The Guardian knows something I don't.:: she thought. ::What
is it?::  His hand on her shoulder, placed to keep her warm
was cool and motionless. That alarmed the unicorn girl.
Ariel "touched" his awareness and soul with hers.

His thoughts were mired in a murky glue that hadn't been there
before. "You are hurting." she said aloud, "Why?" Still, he slept
not even awakening to her compelling lilac gaze.

Then, Ariel knew.

That which was meant to happen to him; the Change, wouldn't
occur somehow. ::Growth is natural.:: she reasoned to herself,
::For him, most of all.::  "He is being held back and I do not
know why.. I want to help him. I-"  

She saw the instinct in his mind calling out
softly, growing louder, not even recognized yet by his
own body as a critical need.

Ariel frowned, thinking about the impression she had gleaned
from his cells, "This isn't food."  Ariel said in frustration,
"I..I.. I- don't know where to find this." She shook him,
"Guardian, answer me.."  Her fright carried her eyes to the
unnatural fire and into its blue flames. "What is this you
require?" she whispered, growing younger in her uncertainty.

Her horn button dimmed to darkness when he did not reply.

For the first time in her young life, Ariel was afraid. And
that fear made her make the first independent decision she
had ever made, without her beloved Guardian to guide her.
::As long as he lives, so shall I do, for him and him alone.::


The shuttlecraft Batai felt poised on a brink and so did its
two passengers. Geordi raised his eyebrows in challenge.

Dr. Crusher licked dry lips, "For anything."

Geordi moved slowly over his nav board carefully choosing
his next configuration with all the skill of a master.
Then his hand shook. He swayed, dizzily, "Ughhh.." His back
stiffened and he went limp, slumped over the console.

"Incapacitated pilot scenario? Easy one! Not very original
Geordi. Automatic pilot engaged. Long range sensors enabled.
Shields up...Done."  She turned to him, "O.k., what's next?"

Geordi LaForge didn't move or answer back.

"Geordi? Say something to me.." Alarmed,  Dr. Crusher rose from
her chair and went to his side.


The snow had ended for the night. The Guardian awoke, and he
automatically searched for Ariel with eyes and mind. He spotted
her silhouette through a blur of vision that did not resolve
itself no matter how many times he blinked.

She spoke without preamble, "Guardian, how are you?"

He lied, "I am better, my child." He brushed away curly hair
from his face that was damp with sweat in spite of the cold.

Deep inside, he felt himself slipping into a maelstrom caused
by his inadvertant taste of his future home. ::Paradise..::
He fought the sensation down and changed the subject.
"Have you--"

"Eaten yet? Yes. As you should eat.." she finished for him.
She handed him a portion of gray meat.

"I will."  The Guardian noticed that his charge was doing
something unusual for her temperment. She was tapping a stone
against the bedrock beneath them absently, almost without
thought. ::That is strange..::  Ariel never played games
or even attempted to form music for that matter. He
had a frightening thought at her odd behavior.
"Are THEY near?"

"No, they're their continuum.." she replied.
Tears were in her voice for the first time and the child
did not look at his eyes.

"What's the matter, Ariel? You are truly frightened.. Don't
be. We are safe here. I can exist for some time in "Winter"."
The Guardian sat down next to her but the snowy child just
studied the results of her efforts as the rocky sounds she
created echoed all around them.  He tipped her chin up to
his and was startled to find her face awash with silver tears.
"It's my fault.. I..I don't mean to.." she sobbed.

The Guardian looked at her gently, "You don't mean
to what, child?" he asked.

Ariel's pure features split into a cry of anguish.

The permafrost under them exploded. Steamy gouts snuffed out
the blue campfire and filled the air with water. The ground
instantly softened. The roar of release lasted for only a
minute, but when everything had cleared, the Guardian lay
insensate on wet, vegetated earth.

A cut oozed on his arm and he was sodden with liquid and
blood trickled onto the stone beneath him.

Ariel was bone dry, her stone beating into mossy rock, "I
can't keep your Paradise away!! I can't..I I can't do it..
Forgive me...forgive."

The Change fault exacerbated, rising in the Guardian
and surged to the foreground. It swept him away in a
tide of agony and despair.


Geordi's first thought was that the shuttle's floor wasn't made
for comfort's sake. He groaned, "Oh.."

"Easy, Geordi. Take it slow. I haven't found what's wrong yet."

He felt a hand on his shoulder. Geordi opened his eyes. He saw
the doctor through his visor's familiar rainbow hues. But another
effect was shorting out his vision in regular pulses, "Whoa.
That's not right."

Dr. Crusher was scanning him with a medical tricorder, "What isn't?
Your head? Stay flat." she ordered.  His readings were baffling. None
of the usual earmarks of syncope manifested.

"Not exactly my head.." Geordi squinted against the bright flares
in defense, "I-It...I'm seeing some odd imagery here like a sort of
subspace leak or ...Ahhh!" He twisted in pain.

"Easy." she said holding him still. Her medical check completed and
the tricorder bleeped. "All right. I'm getting no signs of head
injury. Here's something for the pain."  She eased medication
into Geordi's bloodstream.

He relaxed as he felt the hypo hiss against his neck,.."Hmm, better."
He took a deep breath, testing himself, " long was I out?"
He tried to focus through the interference. It got easier with the
forced absence from his headache.

Dr. Crusher helped him to sit. "Only a minute or so. Are you still
seeing that visual distortion?"

Geordi looked at his hands which keep blinking in and out of true
focus settings in the visor's sight, "Yeah, it's still there. But
it's not so overpowering anymore."

Dr. Crusher barely covered her growing frustration, "Your vital signs
are normal. There's no elevated CPK levels, no cellular disruption,
there's not so much as a bruise on you. According to this," she
snapped her tricorder shut, "You're fine. It's safe for you to get
up now."

They both slowly return to nav and helm seats with the doctor
continuing to watch him closely. Geordi began to feel uncomfortable
under her close scrutiny, "Look.." he said a bit forcefully, "Maybe
we're looking in the wrong place for my problem. Computer, ship's
status.." he commanded.

Its familiar warble sounded, #On course bearing zero two seven mark
five. Full shields and auto pilot engaged. All systems nominal.#

"Everything is "fine" there, too." she said dryly. "Just the same.
I'd like you to take off your visor until we can get the lab techs
on board the Kilamanjaro to run a diagnostic on it." she shrugged
apologetically. She reached for the release servos on either
side of Geordi's headband.

He stopped her, "Wait a minute! I recognize this....pattern I'm
seeing.. It's like an early Code One Alpha Zero from about
thirty years ago.."

"A distress call?" Beverly asked. She reconsidered their situation.
"Computer, are there any abnormal indications in either subspace or
transwarp communication bands?"

The response was quick, #None currently registering.#

Dr. Crusher shrugged, throwing her hands up into the air.
Geordi wasn't about to give up, "Huh, computer. Check the
ship's logs back to the moment we left the Enterprise. Check for
anything out of the ordinary."

#There is no record of anomolous activity in any communications
frequency since shuttle departure at 2214 point--#

Geordi's fist pounded his console with a resounding thud, "Computer,
OFF! This is impossible! I'm seeing an outside signal I tell you.."

Dr. Crusher leaned forward and a small smile crept into her face.
She became confidentially soft voiced, "Perhaps your symptom is
due to something other than what might be out "there"." she said,
pointing to the twinkling stars around them in the viewing

Geordi frowned and Beverly let him work out what she meant on
his own, "Let me think." he said, "The signal's not registering on
any system nor ever was according to the computer,.. so h-?? Oh,
I figured it out.." Geordi blushed with realization, "So.. this
is a headache, huh?" He folded his hands into his lap, rubbing his
fingers self consciously.

Dr. Crusher nodded frankly, "You were about due for one. Though
I'll admit. I've always wondered how you would manifest a headache
once you finally contracted one."

"What do you mean?" he asked her.

"Your implant servos follow the pain receptors nature usually sets
aside for head pain stimuli. You're incapable of getting a migraine
the way I or someone else might experience one. So it comes as
that visual effect and pains your eyeballs instead." She opened her
own wide just to be funny.

Geordi chuckled at her candor and relaxed. He sighed, "Only until
now,..hmm.." he grunted.  "Not much of a physical advantage today
having this thing on my face." he tapped his visor.  "All right.
Time to go listen to some Kling opera,....visorless.." he stood

"Get some sleep, too." she added. As he disappeared aft, a
mischievious glint sparkled in her eye, "I could fix you a warm
milk toddy.."

His back was to her, but that was no protection. He turned around.
"Uh, no thanks, doc. I'll manage. Just.....try not to do any sublight
corkscrews during the flight tests, huh? Klingon Opera alone is enough
to make anyone sick to their stomach.."

Dr. Crusher looked up from the medkit she was putting away.
"Then why listen to it?"

Geordi shrugged, leaning on the overhand bulkhead above his head,
"My date on Talyas Moon will swear her undying devotion to anyone
who can outsing her in high Klingonii." His cheshire's grin was the
last thing she saw in the darkness of the shuttle's interior.

She laughed, "Oh...boy." she giggled, "Shoo.." she flitted at him
with both hands.


By a frozen river, the Guardian stirred. Frost crackled on his clothes
as he moved and he fought himself free of it and from the ground. He
stood on shaky feet. For a few seconds, he struggled internally as well.
Something integral to him had been lost. ::What?:: he thought dimly.

A movement from the snow drew his attention in the blue sunglow.
It was a child. A thin one, a white skinned female dressed in rags.
She reached for him.

He froze in place.

"Guardian? Help me.." she whimpered. "The things that I do frighten me."
She clutched at him and his arms closed about her mechanically. "You said
th- there was danger. That I couldn't bring you to the still point.
Please... Tell me what to do.." she sobbed.

Slowly, an infantile blankness spread across his face.. What had been
his steadfast personality, was gone. He drooled a little. One hand vaguely
touched the girl's lips and he spoke to her in halting steps,
"What...?  Who.. am I. this place?  It' cold."

Ariel "reached" and couldn't feel the Guardian's mind at all.
He was damaged.

She backed away in terror. "What have I done to you?"  Guilt shot through her
essence. And she felt a resurgence of altering power rushing to fill
his instinctive need once again. The air warmed. A patch of snow at his feet
vanished, revealing ancient green moss and alien flowers. "No," she whispered.
"Not again... I will..NOT harm again!!" she fell and struggled off all fours
in the slippery slush, "I'm.. I'm going.. to find what you need." She fled
away from him taking the power with her like a heavy net around her soul.

The Guardian wasn't even aware she had gone. He looked down, seeing the tiny
bit of summer on the ground, "Paradise is almost here....but.." He crouched
down. A creature was there; so out of place in the surrounding ice that it
appeared surreal. The iguana regarded the man with a baleful eye.
"Yes..." the man sighed, "You are from there.. Show me the way?"

The Guardian tried to touch its mottled skin but it scrambled away, out of
the circle of living greenery. It faded to nothingness.... "No..." he said.

The sound of flowing water increased. Ice dripped everywhere. To his
right, a large ice floe in the river burst free in an explosion of
shards, leaving a split exposed to the blue daylight. The dark tongue
of water held him mesmerized in a sea of blue sun sparkles, "It is
coming!!" The Guardian shouted triumphantly, crippled."See?"

The dazzle made him squint against it and his filming eyes watered.
He closed them. When he had opened them again, one of the living plants
had been freed from its icy tomb by the water's edge. It began to steam

Pain lanced into his head and he laughed insanely weak, "You won't stop
me!" he clutched his face, "I won't let you.." he sobbed, "Please...."
The cut on his arm bled slowly.

The sound of melting ice lessened and died. The river was silenced abruptly.
There was nothing of the bared ground to be seen. Only the snow where his
boots had torn it. Sagging, the Guardian let exhaustion take its toll. "Don't
leave me alone..." He didn't know why he was speaking of such a thing. He was
an exile. A Changer. His fate was to stay ....alone.. But a partial name
floated before his memory.."Ar--?  Ari?" He felt sleep caress him, "I-I
need to find.. to...find.."  He folded hands under his cheek and the
frost gripped him tightly to the ground, "Show me the way..." he sighed,
"Show me  Parad--" Then the glacial silence rippled with energy.

Several bombs appeared in the forest a short distance away from him.
They counted down to zero and exploded. More of the strange misting
plants were freed into the sunlight...

In his fitful doze, the old alien's body twisted in exquisite pain
and he tried to cry out, but there was no sound at all.

Then the sound of rock hitting rock echoed faintly...


It was almost an hour later. Dr. Crusher's yawn threatened to dislocate her
jaw, "That's enough practicing for one-- Arhhh*yawn*.."

The computer burbled, #Repeat last command.#

"Stand by, computer." Those last maneuvers had been harrowing. How did
one scrape off a quantum string? It took all the creativeness she
could muster to restore nacelle telemetry to its mate long enough to
break free. In the process, only half the outer hull stayed behind.
::Albeit in simulation.:: she chuckled. Beverly surmised that death by
suffocation was preferable to being scattered across all moments in time
forever screaming at the top of your lungs as you were being stretched
that long. She hoped Geordi would approve of the option test answer she

She turned to the sleeping lieutenant commander across the cabin from her
seat and aimed a med tricorder in his direction. She noticed that he had
heeded her advice.

The visor lay on the table by his head. He was comfortable.

Satisfied, Beverly set the tricorder on the console before her. "Computer.
End all flight emergency simulations. Return flight control to the helm."

She watched all of the Batai's displays transpose to normal manual mode.
She locked down the correct coordinates for their previous rendevous
course as soon as her board committed. Suddenly, the Batai jilted slightly.
The stars wavered on the viewscreen for just a moment, "What th-??"

A screen at the helm began flickering. Dr. Crusher moved her hands away from
the controls, "Computer, did you do what I asked?"

#Helm is on manual.#

"Scan for any malfunction in the coordinate array panel in front of me. I
am seeing a short or something there."

#There is no sign of system abnormality.# came its bland reply.

Dr. Crusher flew through a deeper diagnostic, confirming what she was
getting with the computer once more, "Scan the rest of the shuttle's
systems in the same manner." she ordered it.

#There are no indications of malfunction on board the Batai. All systems

Beverly leaned in closer to the blinking screen, "This is weird."


Dr. Crusher jumped in her seat.

"Oh, sorry, doc." Geordi was right
there, both hands on the back of her chair, "That's what I am seeing in my
visor!" he exclaimed, gripping his prosthetic tighter to his face.

Dr. Crusher allowed herself a recovery period. ::I must still be on edge
from those flight tests. Man..::  Aloud, she asked, "D-Did I wake you?"

The engineer straightened up, frowning, "No.." he said as if he just
learned that truth. "Something else did."

"What did?" Crusher asked. The scientist and physician in her seemed to
know that that information was crucial to them. She studied him intently.

"It was...something was--" His eyes grew wide through
the slits in the visor, "I- I can't seem to remember.." He sat down
into the nav chair next to her.

"Mystery number three. First, there's the distortion that made you pass
out in your visor. Then, it's this screen problem here that the computer
can't identify.. and lastly..."

Geordi gripped the arms on his chair, "The sound I heard that woke me

"Wait a minute.." Beverly gasped, "You REMEMBERED that."

"Yeah." Geordi was pleased. The memory was clearing.

"What was it?" She asked.

Geordi concentrated, "It's ...still going on. Tapping. In time with
the pulses in my visor. Yeah.." he nodded, "They're synchronous now."

Dr. Crusher leaned back in triumph, "The question is, now what
do we d--"

   The computer interrupted, #Incoming transmission on subspace.#
Course static burst from the comm panel.

Geordi queried his board. "Someone is coming into range."

"The Kilamanjaro?" Crusher wondered.

"No, they're still two days out. And we are still in radio
silence sectors.. Odd."

Dr. Crusher cleaned up the signal. The voice was in Federation
Standard!!   ~~..Can anyone hear me?..Warp breach is imminent..
Life support is gone..~~

Geordi saw the ghost of a Federation signature on his sensors,
"It's one of ours."

Dr. Crusher met Geordi's glance, "I'm breaking radio silence."
She toggled a switch. "This is Commander Beverly Crusher of
the Federation Shuttlecraft Batai  We're zeroing in on your
location. Please respond.."

There was no answer, Geordi shifted in his seat, "I still don't
see anything.. Not even on--I'm getting something now." His
findings were ominous, "One life sign. Human. And reaction traces
of a warp core near critical. She's going to blow..!" he shouted.

There was no longer any time to reconsider options. Beverly made
her decision, "Lock onto that lifesign. Prepare a broad spectrum
beam." Dr. Crusher crossed her fingers together, mentally steeling
herself. ::Here's hoping..:: She glanced ceilingward to the
shuttle, ::Dammit, let us make a difference here.. Live up to your
name.:: She patted a bulkhead.

"Having trouble getting a lock. There's an odd energy signature
interfering with the targetting sensors." Geordi said.

"Compensate!" Beverly snapped, "Prepare to raise shields."

"Got em locked!" Geordi exclaimed.

"Energize!" the doctor shouted.

There was a bright flash out the window and the rising hum
of the transporter strained. George and Beverly ducked in reflex
at the flash, but then, it was over.  Sparkles dotted a large region
of carpeting behind them. Dr. Crusher heard the energy chorus begin
to distort. "Boost the gain."

Geordi had an idea, "I'll try tying the pattern buffers to the
impulse engine power relays. It might do the trick."

Suddenly, the shields snicked into place on their own and the
two hunched down anticipating the full fury of a matter/antimatter
explosion. No shock wave came. The sound of transporting had ended.

"What happened?" Geordi whispered. "The Federation signature is gone."

Dr. Crusher stood, snatching her tricorder open, "I don't know."
It bleeped in her hand, "We've got someone all right. And she's alive.."

   A woman lay sprawled among a tangle of debris and soot. Geordi and
the doctor lifted a piece of charred bulkhead out of the way. They
crouched down over her. The woman's face and hands were black with ash
and she was deeply unconscious. She wore a uniform the opposite of
bridge crew norms with hue displaying across the shoulders instead
of in the midsection. A phaser and tricorder were arranged in typical
away mission configuration on her belt.

"That's a strange getup. Think she's from one of the Deep Space
stations?" Geordi remarked.

Dr. Crusher bent to check the quality of the woman's pulse. A detail
the tricorder couldn't show her. Beverly brushed away hair from the
survivor's neck. She was shocked to find rank of command grade on her
collar. Four pips glinted in the light.

"Captain.." she said. "Can you hear me?"  Their patient didn't move.

The pulse she found was rapid but adequate but recent exposure to smoke
had flagged her vital signs. Her breathing was too shallow and irregular
to do much good at all. Dr. Crusher bolstered the strange woman out of
shock with a hypo, "She's going to be fine. That'll get her breathing
normally again. There's no sign of fractures or serious injury.
Help me move her to the bed."

Geordi did so. Beverly looked down at their mysterious captain's rank
patient. "I don't know her. Do you?"

LaForge shook his head.

Beverly sighed. "There's nothing further I can do until she's
conscious." she said covering her up with a thermal sheet. "Maybe
then, we'll get some of our answers."

"Doc, I think I can do better than that right now."

Dr. Crusher looked up. Geordi was kneeling in the mess on the transporter
pad. He held up a new model data padd, "Wow.. look at this baby. This is
..this is incredible.. Inside's a huge holoprogram with an autonomous emitter
built right into it. Registry..N.C.C. 7465--Oops."

His grip had slipped and jostled a hidden commit button.

A mechanical buzz filled the air and a figure in black and blue materialized
standing on top of the injured woman's bed. It glanced around for a moment,
then stooped to retrieve something.

Dr. Crusher and Geordi suddenly found themselves staring down the business
end of the woman's phaser.

The image before them spoke sharply, "All right. Just who the hell are you
and what have you done to Captain Janeway?!"


Ariel was on a white plain. She was cupping something in her hands that
glowed. "I found it!"

Her stones lay abandoned in the slush.

A golden pyramid was partially concealed in her balled palms. She put it
into one woven pocket and smiled, "This is the thing the Guardian needs."
She stood excitedly, looking around.

The tiny child started to head in one direction then stopped, "Where is he?
..I- I don't feel him anymore..."  She faced yet another way, thoroughly
confused, "Guardian..!"  In her fright, Ariel did not think. She could have
retraced her own footsteps back the way she had come to find him.
But her tender age betrayed her yet again.
"I must find him... or...or he'll die.."  

The surrounding terrain offered her no comfort.


"Computer!!" LaForge shouted instantly, "Intruder alert!" he ducked down
behind the shattered piece of bulkhead still on the floor. "Activate security
field Gamma Two!"

A wall of yellow shimmered into being, separating front and back
halves of the shuttle's cabin. The holofigure fired over their heads.
Naturally, it bounced off the field and back at him.  He just fizzled and
glanced down at his own impacted stomach in surprise.  

Geordi fumbled with the augmented data padd in his hands, "Come on! Come
on!!" he grumbled. Dr. Crusher inched her way over to him using
every available cover to help him out.

The hologram saw what they were trying to do and raised a hand, "Wait
a minute! You can't just---"  He disappeared. The phaser fell from mid
air, bounced once off the bed and onto the carpeting.

The computer bleeped, #Detecting no further threat. Standing down
from intruder alert.#  The containment field winked out.

Geordi and the doctor caught their breaths, both gripping the strange
data padd between them as if it could bite, still hunched behind
the debris. "What the hell was that?" the engineer gasped.

Dr. Crusher had no easy answer. She groaned and crawled to the bed,
checking on the captain's status. "He didn't harm her. Do you think
that hologram was a sentry? Pretty creative thinking on her part if she
used him as one all the while trying to save her own skin from a warp core
overload. She could have juryrigged that program before we beamed her
aboard as insurance against us. At the time, we were calculated unknowns."

Dr. Crusher caught her breath, "Why though?  If we could see their
ident transponder, wouldn't it make sense that they could see ours?"

Geordi pulled himself to his feet, "Your guess is as good as mine.
But let me tell you one thing." He hooked a thumb over toward the bed.
"I wouldn't want to find myself on this Janeway's bad side for the life
of me..."

At that moment, Captain Janeway coughed. She stirred and began to awaken.

Dr. Crusher spoke up, "Speak of the devil..."
Geordi hid the phaser.

Beverly put on her most diplomatic smile, and smacked Geordi to do the
same, "Easy,captain. You're safe."

It took a few moments for the woman to focus. Her eyes took in their
uniforms, "Federation? That's not possible." Her hand migrated toward
her empty phaser clip.. A second later, to her combadge on her shoulder,
"Janeway to Voyager.. Respond.." That last effort made her wince.

Geordi spread his hands wide, "I'm sorry. But I'm afraid that won't

Captain Janeway froze as she took in his visor. She turned her head
checking him over as if to look for other implants he might have
had.  ::Not half Borg:: she decided. She didn't disguise the anger
in her voice, "What have you done to my ship..?" It was not a

Geordi immediately felt inches high, "Nothing, captain,..I..Uh..
We're kind of hoping you could tell us..." he admitted honestly.

She studied him and Dr. Crusher for a long moment. Then her eyes
flickered to the starry windows. Familiar ones.
Her eyebrow ...rose. Her mouth set in a firm line,
"From the look of things, I'd say I got home.." she
said simply.

Beverly was frank, "I'm afraid I don't follow you.." She was worried.
::Did I miss something in my original examination?::

Janeway read between the lines behind Crusher's loaded question.
"No, I did not hit my head." she winced again,
rubbing a sore spot on her arm.  Beverly scanned the spot.
The captain asked, "You're a physician?"
Dr. Crusher nodded.  Janeway relaxed a tiny bit. Then she started
speaking, "I could be dreaming this, but somehow, I don't think so."
She began coughing, and allowed Beverly to sit her up against a wall
to ease it. "oh..  I hate fires.."

Geordi looked away and refused to meet the captain's eyes.

His reaction was not lost on their visitor and all emotion drained
from her face, "I'm Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship
Voyager. If you check your records, you'll find we were lost
some time ago in the Badlands while following
a Maquis raider. An energy wave created by a being called the
Caretaker carried us over seventy thousand light years from
Federation territory. To the Delta Quadrant. My crew and I
have been trying to get back ever since." Her words tightened
with stress and she stabbed Geordi with a penetrating stare,
"I say again, what happened to my ship and crew.."

Dr. Crusher understood right away. She knew the
devastating consequences of separation that starship
captains endured especially, in the
face of the unknown, apart from their vessels.
"Geordi, we're going about this all wrong. Captain Janeway,
I'm Beverly Crusher, chief medical officer of the Starship
Enterprise and this is Geordi LaForge, ship's chief engineer.
We were on leave to Talyas Moon when we heard a distress call
from your ship over the comm line. We went to investigate.
...There was what appeared to be a warp core failure in

Memory hit Captain Janeway like a blow, "I was alone on the
holodeck. B'Elanna had just calibrated its program emitters to
accept a new energy source that potentially would have lowered
susceptability of holoimages to concentrated light beams.
I commandeered a phaser and was testing intensity out on the

"On your doctor?" Dr. Crusher asked.

Kathryn smiled, and held up a hand, "Our EMH program. Our
regular physician was killed during our transference to the
Delta Quadrant. His program has useful diagnostic functions
if you know how to use them."

Beverly and Geordi stifled their reactions into trying to keep
staight faces.

"What's so funny?" Kathryn asked.

"I believe we've already met the doctor." Geordi held out the data
padd he had found, "He accosted your phaser and tried to hold us
at bay with it, thinking we were the ones who injured you."

The captain took the padd, brandishing it in amusement before
setting it on the bed next to her. She frowned ruefully, "I
believe it. Can't say he's got much of a bedside manner."
she admitted. Her chuckle made her put a hand to her head.
"When I saw the outside energy field coming toward the ship,
I told the doctor to expect company."

"Are you uncomfortable?" Dr. Crusher already had her tricorder
on bioscan. "I can give you an analgesic."

"It's not that bad." Janeway shrugged, taking a deep breath,
then her expression drifted into one of recollection, "We were
halfway through with the phase alignments when Voyager was
struck with what felt like a tractor beam. I was thrown off my
feet. Red alert sounded.  I tried to contact the bridge but
the comm system was down." She waved a hand in front of her,
"I couldn't call the arch.  It was a minute later, and I was
reconfiguring the EMH to see if I could get a message to
the outside...when.."  her voiced choked as she recalled
her memory, "...when the deck split apart..from under me.."

Kathryn reeled emotionally, suddenly reseeing the nightmare
she had lived through, "I saw only open spac--" Captain
Janeway looked up in horror, "That was a warp core breach?"

Geordi was quick to reassure her, "Hey, we don't know
that. Ship's sensors never registered a matter/anti-matter
explosion. There...was a flash of light.. and your Voyager

Captain Janeway wanted desperately to be reassured that her
crew was still alive.. She wasn't even entirely convinced of
where she truly was let alone just who these two strangers
were before her. It hurt to no longer be in control of her

::There has to be answers somewhere.:: Kathryn became the
scientist her father once raised her to be. She swung her
legs over the side of the bed. "Perhaps if I had a chance to
look at your shuttle's sensor logs... There must have been
something unusual occurring at the time..."

Dr. Crusher nodded, "There was. Geordi's visor began picking
up an odd energy distortion like a carrier wave shortly after
we left the Enterprise. Its effect had spread to one of the
control panels when we found you."

"Which one?" said Janeway, standing on wobbly legs. Dr. Crusher
hovered nearby to lend a firm arm if it was needed.

Geordi moved forward to the main chairs, "Helm station one. But
the computer can't seem to detect it." Captain Janeway took the
indicated chair. Geordi and Dr. Crusher clustered around her,
wondering what she could learn when they couldn't from the
flickering screen.

"Ah, but WE can. That's the important thing. Now, if I try
remodulating the comparator..." She paused, "May I ,
commander?" she asked, indicating the panel before her.

Geordi shrugged, he added with a grin, "You do outrank us,

Kathryn smiled. "Thanks." she said as she set up an algorithm
sequence.. The screen's flickering turned into regular bands
of color which scrolled from top to bottom in wavy meanders.

Geordi's grip tightened on the back of the chair, "Wait a sec,
I know what this is. This signal IS an S.O.S.  Someone's in
trouble out there."

Dr. Crusher frowned, "But where..? We can't seem to pinpoint
it, and the Kilamanjaro.."

Geordi concurred with her, "...won't rendevous with us for
another two days, I know. But I'm sure having this thing
pounding away inside my head for much longer will drive me
up the wall. The computer's not going to be much help at all.
We're going to have to figure out this one all on our own."

Captain Janeway had finished reviewing the logs, "There's not
much to go on here. Any suggestions?"

Geordi didn't like not having an easy answer, "I don't know."

Dr. Crusher was looking thoughtful, "Captain.. you said earlier
that it was significant that only our physical senses could
detect this signal."

Kathryn's smile beamed through the dirt on her face, "Mr.
LaForge.." She indicated the copilot chair, "Ever heard of
a fox hunt? Well, There's a scent out there somewhere and
you're the best hound we've got. Have a seat. We're going
hunting." She disconnected a couple of dionode relays
from the the service panel by her knees and held them ready.

Geordi's grin spread into comprehension, "You're rerouting my
visor's impulses into the navigational array." He sat down
next to her and got out the shuttle tool kit. He handed her
a chamber's coil.


Captain Janeway nodded as she worked, "If we're lucky, the
closer we get to the signal's origin, the more focused it will
become for you. Then we can home in on it through your
interpretative account."  She finished a minor adjustment,
"There. How does that seem?"

Geordi frowned, "It's linked. But I won't be able to see to

Captain Janeway shrugged, cracking her knuckles, "Just direct
me. It's been a while. This is a type VI, isn't it?" she
quipped. Her short laugh sent a pang through her head and she
couldn't hide the resultant groan that escaped under her breath.

Geordi noticed her discomfort, "Listen, if you're not up to this.."

Dr. Crusher agreed by crossing her arms sternly.

Janeway sighed, "All right. You have the conn, Dr. Crusher." She
pulled ashy uniform material away from an itchy shoulder, "I'm
going to go take a shower.." She rose, moving toward the aft
section of the shuttlecraft.

Beverly called out after her, "If there's anything I can get you..."
She held up the medkit significantly for emphasis, "Let me know..."

Kathryn spoke over her shoulder, "How about a uniform?"

"Use cargo hold replicator B. Code up 147." Geordi replied.

Captain Janeway turned around, coming back to the front, "Oh, and
one more thing..." she said. She met both of their eyes wistfully.

"What's that?" asked Crusher.

The glint in the Voyager captain's eye was almost feral, "You
wouldn't happen to have around here anyplace,
now would you?"

"Only Jamaican Dark." Beverly said matter of factly.

"Perfect." Janeway grinned broadly, "Back in two minutes." The
excited woman practically flew light speed around the corner;
a long cloud of soot trailing in her wake.

"Caffeine addiction?" Geordi wondered. He occupied himself with
beaming out the mess still littering the transporter pad.

Dr. Crusher smiled diffidently, "Or deep space deprivation
syndrome." Geordi's brow furrowed. Crusher elaborated, "Picture
Barclay without his holodeck priviledges."

The engineer shivered, "OOooo. Nasty." He turned back to work.

Click the logo below
to go to Page Two. :)
Image of vlamainpageillustration.jpg

Image of aninextgenshipfire.gif
<BGSOUND src="1-behindthewaterfall-whimsicalconfident.mp3" LOOP=INFINITE>