To Kiss the Ripper
The hour was late and the Enterprise had settled into its night cycle. The ship's corridors were dark except for the faint glow of lights near the deck and the softly lit panels on the bulkheads which illuminated the way. The Bridge and other sections were staffed with a skeleton crew. The ship was quiet.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard slept soundly, pleasantly locked in the silken web of his dream. He, therefore, did not hear the soft whoosh as his cabin door slid open. A tall, slender woman stepped into the darkened suite. She waited until the door closed behind her then she made her way to the bedroom. As she crossed to the bed she slipped off her robe, tossing it on a nearby chair. The woman was clothed in only a man's pyjama top, the hem of which came to the top of her hips and barely covered her well-rounded behind.
Pulling back the covers she slipped in beside Picard. He was lying on his side with his back to her so she snuggled in close to him. She kissed the back of his bare shoulder, her lips moving up his neck to caress his earlobe. The man sighed contentedly and groaned softly, rolling onto his back. Slipping his arms around the woman he drew her close. Jean-Luc kept his eyes closed but he smiled.
"Hello" he said softly and pulled her down for a long, lingering kiss. His lips left hers after a moment and moved to breathe warmly in her ear.
"You know something mon cher, you're going to have to be more careful sneaking into my cabin like this. Beverly might catch you." he whispered playfully.
"Jean!" the woman shrieked in mock indignance and he felt a gentle slap on his shoulder.
Jean-Luc opened his eyes focusing on the face close to his own; the fine-boned loveliness of her face framed with the riotous tumble of fiery hair that he loved so much.
"Oh," Picard smiled, a teasing glint in his forest green eyes. "Beverly it's you."
"Yes it's me." the woman replied. She moved to straddle him, her palms resting on his bare chest. "And just who else were you expecting?" she said, her voice threatening but her eyes held a playful teasing glint.
Beverly curled her fingers slightly so that her nails dug in just enough to cause Picard to wince in discomfort.
"No one, honestly. I was joking." he said raising his hands in defeat.
Beverly leaned forward. "There 'd better be no one else," she smiled wickedly "because I have in Sickbay...." she began trailing a long manicured nail from the hollow of his throat "a laser scalpel and you're libel to find yourself...." through the dark mat of hair on his chest to rest finally just above the waistband of his pajama bottoms, "without something you value greatly."
"Now Beverly," Jean-Luc laughed gently, grabbing her wrists and pulling her down on top of him until her face was mere inches from his. The silky mane of her russet hair brushed against his face. "Let's not make any rash moves, besides..." Picard's voice and eyes softened. He released her wrists and raised his hands to cup her face. "Don't you know by now that you are all I'll ever need."
"Mmm, good. Just you remember that Captain." Crusher whispered.
"I will" he replied softly and pulled her lips to his for an long ardent kiss. She responded eagerly to the kiss, her lips parting to the gentle brush of his tongue. Jean-Luc's hands left her face and slid in an intimate caress down the smooth curve of her back. He rolled over so that the woman lay beneath him and she wrapped her long, athletic legs around him in a most interesting scissors grip. Picard's lips left hers to trail a gentle path to her chin and the smooth, ivory column of her neck where he kissed the pulse beat in her throat. Raising his head Jean-Luc looked down into her sapphire-fire eyes, studying her face in the shadowy darkness of the room.
With a gentle finger he traced the delicate lines of her face; each russet eyebrow and her high cheekbones, down the bridge of her nose to her chin. To many Beverly Crusher was a beautiful woman but to him, she was the only one. She was his life and the reason he drew breath each day. Picard had often wondered how he had gone through so much of his life without her, for now she was so much a part of his life. He could not imagine his existence without her. Beverly brought love and laughter, life and color into his once grey life. For her he would do anything. He would die for her and, he thought, would even kill to keep her safe.
Beverly smiled softly. The bond she shared with Jean-Luc was a special one, for many times it seemed to others that they could read one another's thoughts, so much in tune were they. Now was such a time, for she knew the path his thoughts were taking and knew that he knew her thoughts were the same. Reaching out she gently caressed his cheek.
"I love you, Jean." she whispered
"Moi aussi je t'aime."
Once again he lowered his lips to hers and kissed her deeply. He slipped his free hand between the close press of their bodies to release the buttons of her top. He then slipped his hand inside to caress her warm, smooth skin. With each kiss and tender caress they shared the flames of their passion burned hotter until it glowed white hot. In the glow of their passion they each ministered to the others pleasure, a mutual giving of the mind, body and soul.
Later with their passion sated, they slept in the warm circle of each other's arms.
It was several days later and Jean-Luc sat in the center seat on the bridge, quietly contemplating the latest assignment that the Enterprise had been given. It was a fairly simple mission; to deliver medical and other supplies to a group of Federation colonists on Canus 4. Their situation was not critical and everyone foresaw a run without problem.
"Mr Data," Picard called "What is our ETA?"
"Thirteen point five hours at our present speed sir." Data replied.
"Very good Data." Picard turned to face his first officer and he smiled. "Number One. I'm going to grab a quick lunch."
"Aye sir." Riker replied, a smile lighting his bearded face. Jean-Luc nodded to Riker then he rose from his seat and strode over to the turbolift.
Picard walked down the corridor to Sickbay his thoughts were on rescuing a slightly overworked department head. As he entered the ship's hospital he saw that it was alive with activity. One glance told him the Beverly was not on the ward and so he moved over to her office. He smiled affectionately when he saw the russet head bent over her work.
Beverly looked up and smiled. "Hello Captain."
"Are you too busy to have lunch with me?"
"Oh I think I can spare you enough time for lunch." the woman smiled and got up from her chair. Crusher switched off her computer terminal then slipped off her blue lab coat and draped it over the back of her chair before walking around the desk to meet him.
"Just give me a minute." she said touching his shoulder.
Picard smiled and nodded watching her as she moved away.
"Alyssa?" Crusher called to the young oriental nurse who was bent over one of the bio-beds. The nurse looked up from her patient.
"I'm going for lunch. I'll be in Ten Forward if I'm needed."
"Aye Doctor." she nodded watching as Beverly turned and walked back to Picard.
About an hour later Jean-Luc stepped off the turbolift and onto the bridge. He walked down the ramp to his seat.
"Status, Number One?" he asked as he sat.
"All quiet Sir." Riker replied.
"Good." the Captain smiled.
"Did you have a nice lunch? " Will asked.
"Yes Number One, I did indeed." Jean-Luc smiled and turned to face the forward screen with it's view of the starfield ahead.
Suddenly, without warning, an all too familiar grid appeared in front of the ship. Picard shot up out of his seat.
"Merde!" he swore under his breath, "Ensign Davalos, full stop!" he called to the young woman at the helm.
"Full stop, aye sir."
"Dammit Q, you picked one hell of a time!" Jean-Luc muttered.
There was a flash of light and when it cleared Q stood before him.
"I'm glad to see you too Captain." the being smiled and bowed.
"What do you want Q?" Picard asked.
"Why Captain, what makes you think I want something?"
"Because every time you've shown up here, we've had trouble." Riker said acerbically, his arms akimbo.
"Look Q, we're on a rescue mission and we're in somewhat of a hurry so...."
"When aren't you rescuing someone Picard. It's beginning to get a trifle monotonous. Can't you find something else to do? Something interesting!" Q smiled "Really Jean-Luc, I just thought that your ship's complement could benefit from the presence of my sparkling personality."
"Oh yah sure!" Riker muttered sarcastically.
"Very well," Q said in a snit "I know when I'm not wanted!"
With that Q vanished in a brilliant flash of light and along with him the spiderweb like grid.
After a moment's pause Picard turned to face Riker.
"I don't trust him Will."
"Neither do I."
"He left much too easily. Check the ship."
"Aye sir." Riker nodded and turned to face the back of the bridge. "Mr. Worf, check all systems."
"Aye." the Klingon replied. From his console he put out a call for all sections to report in. "All systems are on line and functioning normally." Worf replied after a moment.
"Good." Picard acknowledged, and then as almost an after thought he called, "Computer, are all ship's crew and civilian members accounted for?"
"Negative." the feminine voice of the computer replied "Chief Medical Officer Beverly Crusher is no longer aboard the Enterprise."
"Damn him!" Picard swore, his fists clenched at his sides "Q...?!" he called "Q, where are you? I want to speak with you!"
"Oh Captain, I thought you'd never ask." Q's voice said from behind him. Picard whirled to face him.
"What have you done with Doctor Crusher? Where is she?" he demanded.
"Why should I tell you?" Q asked.
"Because you have been responsible for more human misery than any one person in recent history."
"Moi?" Q asked looking hurt.
"Bloody hell!" Jean-Luc muttered. How was he supposed to save Beverly when Q wouldn't cooperate. "Where is she Q?" Jean-Luc was losing patience.
"Jean-Luc, we never talk anymore." Q started off on a tangent but Riker seeing the Captain's look quickly cut him off.
"Q. The Doctor; where is she?"
"You're getting as stodgy as your Captain, Riker. Perhaps I should have sent you with her."
"Where did you send her Q?" Jean-Luc jumped on the statement.
"Well I sent her to Earth." Q said as if they should have known the answer.
"Where on Earth?" asked Picard.
"The question, mon capitaine, is when, not where. Where would be London, England. When would be the evening of November 8, 1888." Q smiled winningly at the look of horror on Jean-Luc's face. "What's the matter Jean-Luc, afraid Starfleet training will not be enough to save her. Our courageous Doctor Crusher versus the most criminal mind of Earth's time."
"Sir?" Riker asked, not up to date on his history lessons.
"Red Jack, Number One. Jack the Ripper."
The rage that Jean-Luc felt welling up inside him was almost overpowering, and it was all he could do not to wrap his hands around Q's arrogant throat.
"Why you son of a..." he growled, barely audible. He strode up to Q until he was almost nose to nose with him.
"I swear to you Q..." Jean-Luc threatened in a low voice, "here and now, that if she is harmed in any way I will make you pay! Now get the hell off my ship!!"
"Very well. For now." Q smiled. "Oh and by the way I did leave the dear Doctor her communicator. She may need it." the being added before he winked out.
"Merde!" Picard swore. Riker took a step forward and placed a comforting hand on his Captain's shoulder.
"Are you alright sir?" he asked quietly.
"Yes, Number One. I'm fine." the captain replied. Jean-Luc took a deep breath to calm himself, then he spoke to Data.
"Mr. Data, if we increased our speed to maximum what would be our ETA to Canus 4?"
"Three hours 26 minutes, sir."
"Make it so."
Picard turned to face his first officer. "Number One call a command conference for 1800 hours."
"Aye sir" Riker nodded.
"I'll be in my ready room."
"Aye sir." Riker answered quietly and watched as Picard strode across the Bridge to his office.
Moments later the door buzzer chimed softly. "Come" he called. The door slid open and the ship's counselor Deanna Troi stepped into the room. Jean-Luc stood with his back to the door looking out of the view port behind his desk.
"Is there anything I can do sir?" she asked quietly and approached the desk.
"No Counselor. I will be fine." he muttered.
"Really?" Troi replied in a voice that implied she didn't believe him. Picard turned to face the empath. He'd forgotten that it did no good to lie to this woman she could always sense duplicity.
Picard sighed and sat behind his desk. Troi followed his lead, taking the seat in front of the desk waiting for him to speak. He leaned slightly forward and folded his hands. "I'm worried and afraid for her Deanna, and understandably so." he said quietly.
"I'm sure Beverly can handle herself."
"Under any other circumstances yes she could, and I wouldn't worry so much. This is different."
"I don't understand. Who is this Jack the Ripper?"
"He was a mad man who terrorized the women of White Chapel in London, and senselessly butchered them. I only pray that we can find her before she confronts him, for even though she has the best training that Starfleet can offer I am afraid she may not be able to fight him off."
Beverly Crusher's ivory brow furrowed in confusion. She had taken a moment in her office to rest. She had closed her eyes and tried to shut out the bustle of sick bay. Now things were different. She noticed the change immediately. Gone was the ever present soft hum of the engines and the quiet voices of her staff. Beverly opened her eyes and was unprepared for the shock. The room she sat in was not her office, but the large common room of a tavern filled with men and women laughing and talking over mugs of ale. Gone was her starfleet uniform and in its place was a woolen gown and starched white apron of a nineteenth century woman.
"What's happened?" Beverly whispered, fighting down a wave of panic.
A large matronly woman came forward reaching out a hand to gently touch her shoulder. Beverly pulled away in shock. "Beverly dear, are you alright?" the woman asked gently.
"No, I'm not alright." Beverly replied. She looked up into the woman's kind, gentle, brown eyes. "You know my name?"
"Why that's a silly question. Of course I do."
"What happened?" Crusher asked again.
"You were feeling faint so you sat down for a moment. Are you sure you're alright? Do you want me to get a Doctor?"
"I am a Doctor." Beverly muttered.
"Nothing. Where am I?"
"Why the Mare's Head, of course...Dear. Maybe you should get some fresh air. Here..." the woman reached into the pocket of her apron and pulled out a coin. She slipped it into Beverly's hand, "Uncle wants a paper. Why don't you run out and get him one?" Beverly nodded and rose from her chair. As she rose she caught sight of her reflection in the mirror that hung above the chair. Her auburn hair was pulled back and pinned beneath a white linen and lace cap. The woman slipped a shawl around her shoulders and patted them gently. "Now off you go Dear." Beverly nodded and gave the woman a small smile and then she walked across the room to the door, opened it and stepped out onto the street.
Closing the door behind her, Crusher stayed in the doorway for a moment and tried to get her bearings. She took a deep breath. "Alright Beverly, get a hold of yourself" she muttered under her breath. "I'm sure there's a perfectly good explanation for all this." Beverly looked up and down the busy street taking in her surroundings; the horses and carriages, the street vendors, men and women walking up and down the cobbled street. "If this is someone's idea of a joke, I am not amused." she muttered. Then a thought came to her. "Computer exit please." Nothing happened. "Well, so much for the holodeck theory." With that Beverly shrugged her shoulders and stepped out onto the boardwalk. "This is obviously real" she thought as she walked, "The question is, how did I get here? And where the hell is here?" Beverly stopped in front of a dirty faced young boy who was perhaps eight years old. There was a stack of papers at his side.
"Paper, mum?" he asked and flashed her a grin.
"Yes." Beverly smiled and handed him the coin she'd been given. The urchin slipped her a paper and some change.
"G'day, mum." he smiled and she was suddenly reminded of Wesley at that age.
"G'day" she smiled in return and moved back to the inn.
As she walked Beverly glanced at the paper. Murder In White Chapel: The Ripper Strikes again! was the bold headline. "The London Times" Beverly muttered. She stopped in her tracks when she saw the date. November 8, 1888. "It can't be." She paused a moment and then the light dawned. "Q! It could only be Q. I swear if I get my hands on him I'll kill him." she muttered hotly. She took a deep calming breath and then continued on her way.
"Well, Beverly, it looks like you're on your own until the Enterprise can find you." She was sure that they knew of her situation by now and that Jean-Luc would be doing everything possible to rescue her. With that thought she squared her shoulders and stepped back inside, determined to make the best of her situation until Enterprise arrived.
"We've arrived at Canus 4, Sir." Riker's voice came over the intercom.
"Very good, Number One. Standard orbit please. I'll be there shortly."
"Aye, Sir." was Riker's reply.
With a sigh, Jean-Luc rose from behind his desk. Tugging down on the blouse of his uniform, he moved to the door. He had already contacted Starfleet and informed them of Beverly's situation. They had given the Enterprise permission to do whatever was necessary to rescue her. Picard strode onto the bridge and over to his seat. "Open the channel Mr. Worf." he ordered.
"Aye, Sir. Channel open."
"This is Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise."
On the view screen appeared the image of a young, dark haired man. "Welcome Enterprise. I am Stephen Talmage, leader of the colonists. You're ahead of schedule. We were not expecting you for another ten hours."
"We've had another situation that requires our immediate attention and must leave as soon as possible."
"Very well, Captain. We are ready to receive your away team."
"Good. They'll be down shortly. Enterprise out." Picard turned to face his first officer. "Number One, take a team down and assist the colonists in any way possible but please remember that time is of the essence."
"Aye, Sir." Riker nodded. "Data, Worf, and Deanna" he called. They all rose and followed him to the turbolift.
Within the hour the away team had delivered the supplies and assisted the colonists with their needs leaving behind several personnel to continue with the assistance. With that done the rest of the team beamed back to the ship. While still in orbit around Canus 4, the command crew met in the conference room to discuss plans for rescuing Beverly.
Jean-Luc glanced at the crew gathered around the large conference table. He winced imperceptibly at the noticeably empty chair to his right, Beverly's usual seat.
"Very well. You all know why we are here." Picard stated. "Are there any suggestions as to how we should proceed with this? Mr. Data?"
"I see two options, Sir. The first being The Guardian of Forever."
"What's our ETA?"
"Six days at Warp 9.5."
"Too far. The other option, Data?"
"A slingshot effect, Sir."
"A what, Data?" Deanna asked.
"Slingshot, Counselor. A ship is flown at high warp into the sun and by pulling away, just in time the ship is slingshot back in time. The procedure has been used successfully by Captain James T. Kirk on several occasions and has been thoroughly documented by Ambassador Spock."
"How far are we from Earth?"
"Thirty-six hours at Warp 9, Sir." Data answered.
Jean-Luc was silent a moment and contemplated the options he had been given. "Very well. We'll proceed with Commander Data's second option. Are there any objections?" Picard glanced at each of his crew members and seeing no objections he continued, "Good. Data set course for Earth, Warp 9. Make your calculations. The procedure will be in your hands when we arrive."
"If there's nothing more, you're dismissed." Picard said and watched as they filed out one by one. Jean-Luc got up and moved to stand in front of the large ceiling-to-deck windows and looked out at the stars trying to find comfort in their glittering softness. Comfort did not come. He rested his hand against the window and felt the coldness of space through the transparent aluminum. "Hold on Beverly." he whispered softly, "We'll find you, I promise you that. I won't rest until I do."
Beverly sighed wearily as she pushed open the door to the small room, that was her bedroom, at the back of the inn. Fumbling in the dark, she groped for the oil lamp on the table inside the door. Finding it she lit it and the lamp cast its glow around the small room.
The room was sparsely furnished with only an uncomfortable looking bed covered with a woolen blanket; a washbasin with a mirror hanging above it and a small armoire. Stepping inside she closed the door behind her and moved over to the washbasin. Reaching up, Beverly pulled the linen cap from her head. Removing the pins that bound her thick hair, she shook her head and the tresses came free. Beverly then slipped out of the dress and the layers of petticoats until she was clothed in only the white cotton camisole and pantalets. Beverly sighed, glad to be free of the restraints of the many layers of clothing. "Lord," she thought "How could women dress like this." Then she noticed the gold and silver insignia that was pinned to the inside of her camisole. With her hands on her slender hips and one foot stuck defiantly out to the side, she glared at the device. "Well it was nice of Q to leave me my communicator!" she muttered sarcastically. Beverly shook her head and then stepped forward to pour some water into the basin. Dipping the wash cloth in the cool water she washed away the day's accumulation of dirt. Picking up the hairbrush she crossed over to the window at the foot of the bed.
Beverly opened the window and the cold evening air flowed in, ruffling her hair. She shivered against the coldness. Pulling the brush through the auburn strands Beverly looked up at the clear night sky, watching the stars as they glittered brightly. She was suddenly seized with a pang of loneliness and fear that was almost overwhelming and she crossed her arms around herself, hugging tight.
What would she do if the Enterprise did not find her? How could she live out her life, forever bound to Earth in this century never to sail in the stars she loved so much? Never to see her son or friends again, and never again to stand on the bridge of the Enterprise beside the man she loved. "Please Jean," she whispered quietly, "Please find me."
She stayed at the window for a few minutes longer then she closed it and moved to the bed. Climbing in, Beverly pulled the blanket over herself and tried to sleep. As tired as she was sleep did not come quickly. She tossed and turned missing Jean-Luc's strong warm presence close beside her. Sometime later she drifted off into an exhausted sleep.
Jean-Luc sighed tiredly and tossed his book on the sofa beside him. The Enterprise was still several hours from Earth. He had tried to keep himself busy to keep his mind off Beverly and for the first few hours it had worked. But now ....
He had always been able to find solace and peace in the flowing words of Shakespeare and other classic writers, but today he could not. Picard rose from the sofa and crossed to the replicator. "Wine, captain's private stock." he ordered and a glass of rich burgundy appeared in the slot. Jean-Luc took the glass and sipped the chilled wine from his home vineyards. He moved away from the replicator and called, "Computer, Rachmaninoff, Rhapsody on a theme from Paganini."
As the soft, gentle strains of Beverly's favorite music filled the room, he crossed to the viewport and looked out at the stars. His thoughts drifted to Beverly and the many happy times they'd had since becoming lovers.
The water fight on the holodeck, pillow fights that almost always ended in glorious sessions of lovemaking, fighting for most of the covers, and the practical jokes like, snapping her with a towel as she back out of the shower. Her hair was the color of burnished copper that spilled across the pillow and the milky blue starlight from the viewport cast soft shadows upon her sleeping face as she lay soft and warm in the protective circle of his arms. Her slender body intimately entwined with his own in the warm afterglow of love.
The chime of the intercom interrupted his train of thought.
"Captain sorry to disturb you but you wished to be kept up to date on our progress." Data said.
"We are six hours from Earth, Sir."
"Very good Data. Call me when we arrive."
"Aye Sir." Data replied and the channel closed.
Jean-Luc moved away from the viewport, downing the last of his wine. He set the wine glass on the coffee table and crossed over to the bedroom. Picard called down the living area lights and slipped off his robe, tossing it on the chair nearby and climbed into bed. Pulling the covers up over himself he settled down intent on catching at least a few hours of sleep. He rolled onto his side reaching out to brush the empty space beside him. His nose caught the faint scent of Beverly's perfume as it drifted up from her pillow. "I miss you, mon cher." he whispered softly then closed his eyes.
Beverly lifted the tray up off the bar and crossed the room to a table near the door. At the table sat a group of women whom Hannah had told her were women of the street. The poor of White Chapel whose circumstances were such that they had no choice but to sell themselves in order to feed their families.
Ever since the string of grisly murders the women had been grouping together in hopes that the killer would not strike if they were not alone. Beverly shook her head in sympathy, her world was indeed an ideal one. There was none of the poverty, sickness, and death that she saw here. Although there were worlds both in and out of the Federation where there was deprivation, it was not to this extent.
Smiling, Beverly set the tray on the table and placed mugs of ale in front of each of them. "There you are." she said. They thanked her and Beverly collected the money for the drinks. She slipped the coins into the pocket of her apron and stepped away from the table.
Hannah came out of the kitchen and crossed over to Beverly. She placed a gentle hand on her shoulder, "Why don't you take a few minutes and get something to eat? I'll handle things for awhile."
"Thank you." Beverly smiled and moved to the kitchen. She picked up a wooden bowl and a spoon ladling the savoury stew from the kettle into her bowl. Beverly poured a glass of milk from the ice box and then moved back into the common room and taking a seat at one of the back tables she began to eat.
"Mind if I join you?" a voice said after a moment. Beverly looked up and smiled.
"Of course not. Please sit down." The young woman sat on the bench across from her.
"Hi, I'm Clara Latham. You're new here ain't ya?"
"I'm Beverly, and yes, I have only been here a couple of days."
"You look like you're run off your feet today. I have never seen this inn so busy."
"It's these murders, people don't want to be alone." Beverly said quietly.
"Yes, I know. I'm not one of them, but even I am afraid to walk alone at night." Clara replied.
Hannah quietly approached the table and set down a bowl of stew and a glass of milk for Clara, who was a regular customer. While they ate, Beverly and Clara talked lightly. Clara told Beverly that she was the local laundress and her husband was a blacksmith. "So, Beverly," Clara smiled. "What about you? Are you married?"
"No. I'm a widow."
"Oh, don't be, Jack's been gone a long time. There's someone else in my life now."
"Oh?" Clara said, silently urging her to continue.
"Yes...Jean-Luc Picard. He's a...ship captain."
"You miss him, don't you?" Clara asked quietly, aptly reading Beverly's wistful expression.
"Uhhmm." Beverly nodded. "He's away right now, but I'm sure he'll be here soon." Beverly paused, her thoughts drifting to Jean-Luc. "He makes quite an imposing figure, especially when he's in uniform." she added quietly. "Well," Beverly said bringing herself back to reality with a shake of her head I must get back to work." She rose from the table, gathering up the dishes. "Excuse me, Clara, I'll see ya later."
"Of course." the woman smiled and watched as Beverly walked away.
The irritating buzzing of the intercom intruded into his dreams. Jean-Luc opened his eyes with a groan and answered it. "Yes?"
"We are twenty minutes from Earth, sir." Riker said.
"Thank you, Number One. I'll be right there."
"Aye, sir. Bridge out."
Picard threw back the covers and slipped out of bed. He crossed to the closet pulling out a clean uniform, then moved to the head to shower and shave. Ten minutes later he emerged and left his cabin for the bridge.
Jean-Luc stepped off the turbolift and onto the bridge. Riker rose from the center seat as the captain approached. "Good morning sir." Riker smiled.
"Morning, Number One. Status please."
"Terra Approach reports all clear, sir."
"Very well. Data the ship is yours." Picard said quietly.
"Aye sir." Data replied. "Ensign Davalos, warp 9.5." he ordered.
"Aye, Commander." the young woman nodded and executed the command. The Enterprise shot forward, heading directly for the sun.
Every head in the tavern turned as the door slammed open and a young girl of about twelve rushed in. "Help me, please. Someone help." she cried.
Beverly set her tray down on a table and rushed over to the girl, "What's wrong?" she asked.
"It's me mum." the girl said and grasped Beverly's wrist. "Please come." she said and pulled Beverly outside.
There, leaning on the wall, was a very pregnant woman, obviously in labour. Beverly ran over to her and slipped an arm around her shoulders. "Come with me," she said quietly, "I'm a doc... midwife. I can help."
"Thank you." the woman replied breathlessly. She smiled up at Beverly and allowed herself to be led into the inn.
As they entered, Hannah and Clara came forward. "Take her to the room in the back." Hannah said. Beverly nodded and led the woman to the room.
Beverly led the woman to the bed and helped her sit on the edge before turning back to address Hannah and Clara. "I need some hot water, clean linen, alcohol, a sharp knife, and something to tie the cord off with."
"Alright." Hannah nodded then turned to look at the young girl. "What's your name child?"
"Emma, mum. Emma Collins."
"Well, you come with me Emma, and help me gather the things Beverly needs. She'll take good care of your mum." Emma nodded and followed Hannah and Clara.
When they had gone Beverly turned back to the woman helping her out of her gown and settling her in the bed. Beverly moved over to the washbasin pouring some water into the bowl, dipped a cloth in the water and wrung it out and moved to sit beside the woman. Reaching out, Beverly gently wiped the perspiration from her face, brushing back her dark hair. "What's your name?"
"Well, Rachel" Beverly smiled. "Don't you worry, everything will be fine. It won't be too much longer." Rachel gave her a smile and nodded.
Jean-Luc shook his head to clear away the cobwebs and slight disorientation caused by the slingshot effect.
"It would seem that we have been successful, Captain." he heard Data call.
Picard opened his eyes and blinked to clear his blurred vision. When his vision cleared he stood up and moved to stand behind Data. "Status Data?"
"The ships systems are functioning within normal parameters and sensors report that we have arrived at our destination in time."
"Very good, Data." Jean-Luc smiled, "Are you getting a signal from Doctor Crusher's communicator?"
"Aye, sir." Data replied. Picard sighed inaudibly with relief.
"Is she alone?"
"Negative, sir. Sensors are registering four other life forms within close proximity of Doctor Crusher."
"Damn! That means we can't just beam her up." Riker said from where he stood just behind Picard. "And we can't talk to her if there are others present."
Jean-Luc mumbled quietly running his fingers across his lips in an unconscious gesture he had when he was either upset or in deep contemplation.
"Data? Do you have a fix on her location?" he asked after a moment.
"Good." Jean-Luc replied and turned to face Riker. "Number One, any objections with me leading an away team?"
"Yes sir. But I know you'll go anyway."
"Quite right." he smiled.
"Might I make a suggestion sir?"
"Take Worf with you."
"Impossible. He'd be too noticeable."
"At least take a security guard."
"Very well, Number One." Picard nodded and turned to face Worf. "Lieutenant Worf, have one of your guards meet us in transporter room six." The Klingon nodded and turned back to his console.
"Data. You're with me. Have the computer prepare suitable attire before we beam down."
"Aye sir." he replied and got up from his seat.
"The bridge is yours, Number One."
"Aye sir." Riker nodded, "And good luck."
Picard smiled and touched Riker's shoulder before turning away.
"Alright, Rachel," Beverly called, "The baby's head and shoulders are almost free, just one more big push." The woman nodded weakly and pushed with her last ounce of strength. Beverly drew the slimy infant from its mother's body and after a second its strong healthy cry filled the room. "It's a girl." Beverly said with a smile, wrapping her in a clean towel. "She is beautiful." the Doctor said quietly as she wiped the baby's face.
Laying her down Beverly tied off the umbilical cord with some alcohol soaked thread then cut it. Wrapping the infant up once again, Beverly placed her in her mother's arms. Rachel smiled down at her new daughter with tears in her eyes. Beverly gave mother and baby a few minutes together and then seeing that Rachel was exhausted, she moved to take the baby. "I'll take her for a while, Rachel, so that you can get some rest." Rachel nodded and closed her eyes drifting off to sleep. Handing the baby to Hannah, Beverly moved back with a concerned frown and rested a hand on Rachel's forehead. She detected a trace of a fever. Picking up the woman's wrist, she felt for a pulse and felt it beating fast and thready.
"Damn!" Beverly muttered under her breath. If she were on the Enterprise she could easily give Rachel a hypo and she would be fine in a few hours. But the medicine that Rachel needed would not be discovered for well over 200 years. "But..." Beverly thought with a smile coming up with a nineteenth century solution. Grateful once again, for her grandmother's knowledge of herb lore to which she had been exposed. Beverly turned to Hannah "Hannah, is there a herbalist nearby?"
"Why yes. Granny Hawkins. She lives a few streets away. Emma, you know Granny Hawkins, can you give Beverly directions?"
"Yup." the girl answered and explained to Beverly the directions to the herbalist's house.
"Good. Keep an eye on Rachel. I'll be right back."
"Beverly, you shouldn't go out alone." Clara warned.
"Rachel is very ill and she needs a herbal infusion or she'll get worse."
"Then at least take the girl."
"Alright." Beverly agreed and grabbed her shawl from a peg by the door.
"Be careful." Hannah called as they left.
Jean-Luc strode into the transporter room, the cape he wore billowing out behind him. Data and the security guard, equally attired, stood waiting for him. Ensign McNeil handed the captain a phaser.
"Thank you Ensign." Picard said and slipped the phaser in the waistband of his trousers, under his cape. With a nod he moved to the transporter platform while McNeil and Data took the spots on either side of him.
"I scanned the surface sir," the technician said, "And have found a deserted area close to Doctor Crusher's location."
"Very good Ensign. Energise."
"Aye sir. Good luck." the technician replied and watched as the three forms shimmered away.
On the streets of White Chapel Captain Picard made a mental note to specify the type of clothing they would be wearing on their next undercover away mission. Shortly after arrival, Picard noted that the three of them were far too overdressed for the area in which they were searching. They should have taken more time to prepare the appropriate apparel. However, it was too late now so they moved on.
Beverly and Emma walked down the dimly lit streets back towards the inn. Little did they know that the infamous Jack the Ripper had just taken his latest victim. A young Irish woman named Mary Kelly, who lived just around the corner from where they now walked.
In her hands, Beverly carried a paper envelope containing the herbs she needed for Rachel's recovery. As they walked Beverly's ears suddenly registered the sound of a single pair of footsteps behind them. She turned around and saw the dark figure following some distance behind.
"What's wrong?" Emma asked.
"We're being followed."
"It might be the Ripper." Emma said, her voice filled with fear. Beverly pushed the envelope into the girl's hands and pushed her towards the inn.
"Take this back to Hannah, tell her to make a tea with the herbs and have your mother drink some every three hours."
"No, just do it! I'll be alright. Run now!" The girl lifted her skirts and began running down the street back to the inn. Her shoes clicked hollowly on the cobbles. Beverly sighed. At least the girl would be safe, she quickened her pace. Behind her the footsteps of her unseen, would-be assailant also quickened in time with her own and soon faster.
The three Enterprise crew members stepped into the tavern. Jean-Luc looked around then moved over to a nearby table. "Excuse me. I was wondering if you might help me. I'm looking for someone." he said to the woman sitting there.
"Found someone, I'd say, dincha gov." the woman laughed and brushed her hand intimately up his arm. Jean-Luc moved away.
"I'm looking for a woman named Beverly. She's tall with red hair."
"Oh yah, I knows her. Don't know where she is. Ye might try askin Clara."
"Yah." the woman nodded and pointed to Clara who was just exiting the back room.
"Thank you." Picard replied and moved away.
"Anytime gov." the woman said, her eyes following him.
Picard walked over to Clara, "Excuse me, madam. Might you be Clara?" he asked the woman to verify her identity.
"That's me. Whatcha want?"
"I'm looking for Beverly. Have you seen her?"
"Maybe. Depends on whose askin."
"I am Jean-Luc Picard, perhaps she's mentioned me."
Clara's petite features instantly lit up with a smile. "You're the ship captain. Pleased to meetcha." She held out her hand to him and Picard took it in his own. Her hand was small and work worn. He kissed it, "Enchante Madam." he smiled
"Beverly's told me so much about you." Clara smiled, clearly taken in with the captain's charm. "She'll be so happy to see ya, but she's not here right now."
"Do you know where I might find her?"
"She went out to Granny Hawkins to get some herbs, she should be back soon."
It was then that Emma ran in out of breath. Alarmed Clara called her over. "Emma, what's the matter child? Where is Beverly?"
"We wuz bein followed, and she tol me to run ahead."
Worriedly Jean-Luc came forward and knelt in front of the girl. "Where's Beverly?" he asked softly.
Emma looked at Clara before answering and Clara nodded.
"I knows where she is." the young girl said and grabbed his wrist pulling him towards the door. They were followed closely by Data, McNeil and Clara. Half-way down the street Picard stopped. "Just tell me where, Emma. It's much too dangerous for you to go any further."
The child looked like she was about to protest but then realizing the validity of his statement she nodded. "Down the street to the corner," Emma pointed, "And then up the street that way."
"Thank you Emma." Jean-Luc smiled and looked into the girl's blue eyes. Eyes which reminded him of Beverly's and Jean-Luc found himself reaching out and uncharacteristically ruffling Emma's blonde hair. "Don't worry, we'll find her."
Clara came up behind Emma and placed her hands on the girl's shoulders pulling the child against her skirts, and they both watched as the three men hurried down the street and out of sight.
Beverly whirled around to face the man behind her. "What do you want? Why are you following me?" she demanded with more bravado than she felt and tried to keep the fear out of her voice.
"I'm sorry madam," the man's deep voice rumbled, "I did not mean to startle you. I was only desirous of your company." he held up a gold coin in his white gloved hand.
"My company is not for sale, sir! Kindly quit following me." Beverly stated and turned on her heel to walk away.
The man's arm quickly lashed out and caught Beverly around the neck, his other hand clamped over her mouth to stifle her scream. He pulled her back hard against him and she could feel the hard sinewy muscles of his chest against her back. He dragged her into the alleyway between two buildings.
Freeing one of her arms Beverly brought her elbow back forcefully into his abdomen. He grunted in pain and released his hold on her. Beverly spun away from him and dropped into a defensive crouch, tucking the hems of her skirts into her waistband to give her free movement of her legs.
The man whirled on her, his face contorted with rage and the moonlight glinted off the sliver blade of the knife he had pulled from the folds of his cape. The Ripper lunged at her and Beverly dodged away, her ears registering the sound of his angry curse. Crusher faced him. "You've never had a woman who was able to fight back before and you don't like that, do you?" she stated defiantly. The confidence of her voice belied the fear she felt with every fibre of her soul.
The man lunged again, and again Beverly dodged but this time the ripper's hand caught hold of her skirt. He yanked hard, pulling her to him. She fought him with all the fury of an enraged tigress and they fell to the ground in a tangle of limbs.
The ripper loomed over her, raising the knife for the fatal plunge. He sneered and the knife began its decent toward her heaving bosom. Beverly's hand shot out to deflect the blow and she felt the searing pain as the knife plunged into the soft flesh of her shoulder. The agony increased when the ripper roughly pulled the knife out, raising it to strike again.
Beverly's knee came up hard in the small of his back throwing him off balance. The ripper bellowed in pain as she pushed him off of her. Beverly scrambled to her feet and moved to run, but she was quickly losing consciousness due to the lack of blood. She stumbled, falling and bruising her knees and hands on the cobblestone. Then she heard the sound of a familiar voice. "Beverly, Beverly where are you?" came the anxious call.
Beverly opened her mouth to answer but no sound came out, she was too weak. She crawled with what little strength she had toward the street but felt the ripper's hand roughly grab her ankle. "So this is it." Beverly thought, with the one lucid part of her mind. "I'm going to die at the hands of Jack the Ripper and alter the time line as we know it. Q really screwed up this time."
Grabbing Beverly by the hair the Ripper pulled back her head exposing the smooth column of her throat and raised the knife.
"Prepare to die, whore!" he growled.
"No. You prepare to die, you bastard!" Jean-Luc yelled in unsuppressed rage. He fired his phaser. Jack the Ripper disappeared, instantly vaporized.
Rushing over to Beverly, Jean-Luc knelt over her. Reaching out he drew the woman into his arms. She whimpered and cringed away. "Beverly it's alright. It's Jean-Luc. You're safe now."
"Jean?" she whispered weakly and put her arm around his neck. Silent tears of relief and pain rolled down her cheeks. "I knew you'd come for me. I knew...." she whispered weakly against his shoulder.
"Of course." Picard said quietly against her hair. He closed his eyes to the surge of relief he felt trying to hold back the tears that threatened to fall as he realized just how close he'd come to losing her. Had he arrived a split second later she would have been dead. Opening his eyes Picard looked down at Beverly. "Mon dieu!" he swore, seeing her shoulder. "You're hurt." Taking a corner of her petticoat, he tore off a piece of the cotton and pressed it to the wound. Beverly winced at his touch, pain searing her body once again.
"Jean it hurts. ." she ground out in a pain filled whisper..
"Sh, I know mon cher. I know." he soothed pressing his lips to her forehead.
Data stood quietly by and watched intently, his head cocked to the side like a curious bird. This was a side of the captain that no one ever saw and this behavour intrigued him. The Captain and doctor kept their relationship private, behind the doors of their respective cabins.
Picard looked up at Data and was about to ask him to call the ship when Q appeared before him in his usual flash of brilliant light.
"Tsk, tsk shame on you mon capitaine. Such affection towards a fellow officer, my how touching. What shall you do for an encore?" Q asked while leaning casually against the nearest wall.
Before Jean-Luc could move Data's hand shot out and grabbed Q by the scruff of the neck. "Captain, shall I hurt him for you?"
"No, he's not worth the effort. We must get Beverly back to the ship." Jean-Luc did not rise but he glared up at Q. Picard knew from experience that getting angry with Q only made things worse. Trying to get past his anger Picard said, "Do you have any idea what you've done Q?"
"Do you have any idea what you've done Jean-Luc?" Q asked in turn. "How do you expect the good Inspector Abberline to solve the case when you've completely obliterated Jack the Ripper? This will change history as you know it."
This was becoming too much and Picard finally snapped, "What in the name of hell are you babbling about? They never solved the case anyway." Q smiled knowingly. "Did they?"
"Actually, they did. However, I won't bore you with the details."
"Nobody really gives a damn Q! Now stop interfering before Beverly dies."
"Dying? Who's dying?" Q asked in a miffed tone of voice. "Really Jean-Luc you don't give me enough credit. I wouldn't let your `cherie' die." Q said with a shrug and snapped his fingers. "There, all better." he said with a smile.
Jean-Luc looked down at Beverly as she stirred against his shoulder, her wounds completely healed. Her blue eyes fluttered open and focused on his face. "Jean?"
"Yes." he smiled softly, "How are you feeling?"
"I'm going to kill him!" she started to get up. Q jumped backwards at her sudden movement. She started towards him.
"Doctor Crusher, how wonderful to see you alive and well."
"No thanks to you." she continued to advance while Q retreated further.
"Me? I saved your life. If it wasn't for Jean-Luc and his incessant babbling I could have brought you around sooner."
"If it wasn't for you I wouldn't have been here in the first place." She made a grab for Q and he disappeared. "Coward!" she screamed.
Q reappeared several yards away. "Coward? Moi? I don't think so. What does an omnipotent being such as myself have to fear from a mere mortal such as yourself? I must say however, that evaluation of you was correct. You do grow more shrill with each passing year."
"Why you...." Beverly would have continued but once again Q turned the good doctor into an Irish setter. "That's how I like her best. It suits her, don't you agree Jean-Luc?"
"Q enough of this!" Jean-Luc ordered and Beverly promptly became herself once more. "We are not laboratory rats Q to be tested and studied at your whim."
"Ah how quickly you forget Jean-Luc. I am a superior life form and therefore, I can do whatever I wish. Though I must say you did disappoint me. The whole purpose of this little scenario was for Doctor Crusher to fend for herself. Not for Jean-Luc Picard to come charging to her rescue like a knight in shining armour, riding a white steed like in some ridiculous fairy tale."
"I'm so terribly sorry to disappoint you." Picard muttered sarcastically.
"Oh don't be sorry Captain because the next adventure won't be so easy and the next time you won't have control over who wins and who loses. What will you do then?" Q laughed.
"What next adventure?"
"Let's just say, expect the unexpected." immediately Q vanished.
Except for the sound of their breathing the London streets were once again quiet. "Four to beam up."