Disclaimer: My first Trek story. Standard disclaimers apply. TNG is owned by Paramount, except insofar as it exists in a parallel universe.

Chapter 5 - Aftermath

On the transporter pad lay Carol, sobbing, her whole body bleeding profusely. The paper she had been reading from was heavily stained red, as were her clothes.

Doctor Crusher, who had been placed on standby there, immediately transported her to sickbay.

Back in the bridge, a priority message came in from Earth. This was put to the main screen.

"I don't know what you're playing at, Picard! The reactor is still operational but it was very close. There was enormous damage to the facility, even with the forcefields we had put in place."

"But everything is under control and nobody was injured, correct?"

"Yes, that is correct."

"Then I fail to see the problem, Admiral. The possibility of actual disaster, now or in the future, has been averted entirely."

"You should have warned us. We were under the impression that we were faced with something minor, and took additional precautions accordingly."

"And I would like to extend my congratulations on your approach in dealing with the unknown."

The Admiral scowled and cut communications.

In sickbay, Crusher was concerned. Carol had lost a lot of blood, although that was easily fixed. The mental damage would be harder to anticipate. She had been transported just as the connection had gone critical and thus wrenched out of something unknown and malign. That would be for others to solve in the long term, but for now, it was a matter of giving her anti-anxiety and trauma-suppression drugs.

There was also some physical damage. The shockwave from a blast had apparently only just reached Carol, enough to shatter ribs and burn clothes onto skin. That would take time to fix but it was not stuff she didn't deal with on a regular basis.

Carol would be up and about again, but what then?

A question Counsellor Troy was asking, too. The girl would never trust Starfleet again and carried so many issues from past betrayal and danger that Troy feared she was beyond help.

A month later and they were visiting a remote outpost. Carol was to be sent to the spacestation for retrieval by the next supply vessel.

"Remember what I said", Guinan said to her. "Recipes for drinks and mixes."

Carol smiled, although the deep scarring that remained on the left side of her face made the effect look like a surrealist painting. "Drinks and mixes."