a Star Trek: The Next Generation novella
written by Gail J. Christison
As they turned to climb back onto the restless animals there was a sudden, intense explosion. The ground trembled. The horses leaped and bucked. Troi gasped and collapsed. The sky lit up and the world suddenly went awry.
Picard looked back. "NO-O-O! II he screamed, in a voice that splintered, and tore his eyes away. Then: "Down, get down, and don't look up!"
He moved quickly, ripping blankets from the pack horse with a frightening ferocity, throwing one over Troi and grabbing Benii. He pushed her to the ground beneath him and pulled the other blanket over himself to cover both of them even as the air seemed suddenly to sweep over them like a tidal wave of force.
The nightmare seemed endless, but in reality it was over in a few minutes. Picard emerged first into the subsequent silence. He touched Troi's throat and found a strong pulse. Benii appeared at his side and they both turned to the animals.
He turned slowly, reluctantly, agonizingly back to the sprawling table-land. He stared, hollow eyed and physically sick with shock and disbelief as the giant mushroom horror drew itself upward, reaching toward the stratosphere. It straddled a city devastated, smothered, ablaze, dying.
Benii instinctively moved closer to her companion, as if proximity could somehow keep them safe.
Briefly Picard touched her shoulder, then moved to Troi's side. The counselor had not moved since the detonation.
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