When Wesley rescues a girl from a frightening creature, the consequences take everyone by surprise.
One Lifetime's Not Enough
"Medical emergency, transporter room three!" Data knelt beside Wesley, trying to determine what was wrong. There did not seem to be any physical cause for the pain. Indeed, the pain that Wesley was suffering was the only symptom he could detect. That did not make any sense, however. Humans are not subject to sudden pain without cause.
Wesley writhed on the floor. The medical team, led by Dr. Crusher, rushed into the room. Dr. Crusher rushed to her son's side, and ran a tricorder over him. "Give him a sedative. I need to run further tests," she said to her team. She put her hand on Wesley's forehead. "Don't worry, Wes, you're going to be alright."
Chara III, Oracle's Cavern
The oracle looked at the girl, curious. It had never seen her in this condition before. Sometimes she slept (mortal habits can be hard to shed), but only when she wanted to. We do not believe she desires slumber.
When the boy of the prophecy had appeared, the oracle had been vaguely dissatisfied. After all, the girl was the only company it had. The boy's appearance changed that. He would take her away. But then he left, and she was left behind. This was just as bad; if he didn't come back, she might never wake up. The geas was unbreakable. Of course, the boy would not survive the separation. Perhaps when he died, she would waken? But, no. Even if she did, she was freed from her imprisonment here in the cavern. She would leave. And then there would be no one to teach the oracle games. It would be alone again.
Enterprise, Transporter Room Three
Dr. Crusher was frantic. She couldn't find anything wrong with Wesley. It made no sense!
"Will," she said, "did anything unusual happen on your mission?"
"Nothing that could have caused this," he said. "He did fall into a cavern, but he wasn't hurt in the fall."
"No." She sighed. "He doesn't have any injuries, he doesn't have a concussion, and his symptoms aren't consistent with anything that could result from a fall. I just can't figure this out!" She sighed again, frustrated. "Let's get him to sickbay. I can run some more tests there."
"A moment, Doctor," Data said. He turned to Will. "The girl we encountered may have some knowledge regarding this issue. She did say that she was bound to Wesley."
"That's impossible, Data. It just... I don't see how that could work!"
Data looked from Will to Beverly. "We have encountered many things that conventional wisdom would deem impossible, and many of those could cause something like this. Q, for example."
"Hmm. Do you think she might be from the Q Continuum?"
"Unknown. From the available data, I would say she is not associated with them. I do not believe any of the Q could be trapped as she said she was."
Beverly was only half paying attention. She was more concerned with finding out what was wrong with her son than a discussion on the origin of a strange girl. However, there might be a clue there. Her staff could do just as much for Wesley as she could, and although she would rather stay by her son's side...
"Will. I want to go to the planet. I have to know if there's something there that's causing this."
Will and Data stopped their conversation. Will nodded, and she stood, giving instructions to her staff as she checked to be sure she had all the instruments she would need. She stepped up on the dias, ready for transport, just as Will got permission from Captain Picard. He and Data stepped up beside her, and he gave the order to beam the three down to the surface.
Chara III, Oracle's Cavern
The oracle looked up. Two of the men who had been here before had just shimmered into the cavern, and they brought a woman. It extended its senses. Man. Machine. And the woman birthed the boy who stole our friend. It looked back at its game. Red ten on black jack. Black four on red five. It would lose this game. It sighed, gathering the cards and shuffling. We must remember not to look at the future in games of chance.
The three intruders were wandering about the cavern, looking into everything and running strange machines over all the surfaces. The woman approached, looking at the girl. She spoke. The man and the machine ran over. They looked at the girl, running their devices over her and murmuring over the results.
The oracle sighed, drawing their attention. It pointed at the girl, then pointed up. They looked confused. It pointed again, more forcefully. They still looked confused, and spoke among themselves. Fine. It would do this the hard way. Extending its senses once more, it looked deep into their minds, capturing the flavors and essences of their language. Then it carefully composed its instructions. We wish we did not have to speak in verse. It is a most burdensome geas, and we are /not a poet. And this is most definitely not our native tongue./ Finally, it opened its mouth, and spoke:
"A young man who saved a girl's life,
From a lizard who wielded a knife,
Soon, through pain, found
That he was now bound
To the girl, closer than any wife."
The intruders looked at it in astonishment. It sighed. Well, that was only one form of verse. Perhaps another?
"He that saved her life,
His life is forfeit to her.
Do not separate."
They looked at each other, conversing more. Their tones were still puzzled, and they did not seem to understand. We are speaking their tongue. Perhaps they do not know poetry? But, no. We took the forms from them. It sighed. This was getting frustrating, though the memory would help long years pass a bit faster. One more.
"The girl and we have lived here all alone,
She taught us many interesting games.
Encased within this cavern made of stone,
She had been bound, forever to remain.
There was but one way she could e'er be free:
A man must come that she had never seen,
And he would act, in show of bravery,
To save her from a threat that's never been.
Then would there be one life where once were two,
And she must stay beside him all his life,
When he's in danger, help to get him through
Stay by his side in times of peace or strife.
Now think you upon all that we have said:
If they're apart for one day's time, he's dead."
There. If he dies, it will not be our fault. The three were looking rather agitated now. The man looked at it, and spoke very slowly.
"Can we take her to Wesley?" he asked.
Wesley? Oh, that must be the thief. It sighed once more, pointed to the girl, and pointed to the sky. Were they simple?
They conferred for a moment longer, the woman's voice becoming more strident. Apparently, she didn't care about having permission. She was insisting on taking the girl now. Finally, they reached an agreement. Then, they shimmered out, taking the girl with them.
It was alone again. With the lizard-man. He's starting to waken. Perhaps we could teach it a game! After all, he would never leave here. The oracle would see to that. It smiled as it laid out the cards for its favorite game. The girl had almost never wanted to play this one. The lizard-man would learn it first.
It was time for War.