“We are approaching Outpost 300’s location,” Lieutenant James Trikal stated.

Lieutenant Commander Tom Halkrat moved from the back of the bridge to the command chair. As he sat down, anticipation growing with in him, he ordered, “Slow to one-third.”

James pressed a few commands in, and the stars stopped streaking by on the view screen. The large and heavily armed outpost could instantly be seen, and it was all ready surrounded by several hundred Britar and Hintaru starships.

“Open a channel to Outpost 300,” Tom ordered.

“Channel open,” Lieutenant Commander Vendar Perkins replied. High-Admiral Piarn’s face immediately appeared.

“Commander Halkrat,” Piarn said, nodding.

Tom nodded in reply and asked, “Is Captain Harriman available?”

Piarn shook his head and replied, “No, he and Commander Caft took your Runabout on a reconnaissance mission to the Destroyer’s location, as the Runabout can cloak.”

Tom raised a questioning eyebrow in response. “Any idea when they might return?”

Piarn shook his head and said, “No. They left four hours ago, though, and the location is about twenty five light years away from Outpost 327’s location.”

“Acknowledged,” Tom stated. “Are preparations in place for the assault?”

“We have prepared for what we know,” Piarn replied. “But we won’t be able to fully prepare until the Meridian returns.”

“Understood,” Tom said. “Dragon out.”

The view screen then changed back to the area surrounding the station, and Tom could see they were all ready approaching the station. He checked the console next to the command chair before ordering, “All stop.”

Lieutenant Terry Latrael sighed as he tapped his comm badge. “Latrael to R’Sharn,” he stated.

After a moment, her voice came back, “R’Sharn here, go ahead Counselor.”

“I believe I had scheduled an appointment with you that was supposed to have begun half an hour ago?” Terry asked sarcastically.

“I’m busy right now,” R’Sharn replied bitterly.

“Too bad,” Terry stated sternly. “You either report to my office right now, or I’ll have you relieved of duty.”

“You don’t have that authority!” R’Sharn bit back.

“Indeed I do,” Terry stated, keeping his ground. “Now I recommend you keep this appointment.”

He could sense that R’Sharn was barely holding back a remark. Finally, she stated, “I’ll be there in half an hour, I’ve still got some things to finish up in engineering.”

“And why would you be doing something in engineering?” Terry asked, curious as to whether or not she was telling the truth.

“Mind your own damn business,” R’Sharn bit back harshly. “I’ll be there in half an hour, R’Sharn out!”

Terry sighed, knowing that it would take several sessions to solve what ever attitude problems she had.

And then there was the issue between Lieutenant Ada Marquet and Commander Kalia Tarkent. They had harsh emotions towards one another, but usually kept them suppressed. If those emotions aren’t dealt with, they could turn out to be quite a horrible ordeal. How ever, with the war, it was difficult getting any officer to keep an appointment, let alone the senior staff.

Despite what Captain Harriman considered to be a ‘perfect senior staff,’ there was plenty of hostility on the bridge to go around. Terry was just glad he didn’t have to deal with problems between Captain and First officer, like on his last assignment. Rather, that particular relationship on the Dragon was stable, to say the least.

R’Sharn was enraged at having to go to a counselor. She was used to not having to deal with counselors during their time on the Frontier in subspace, for the counselor had been initially killed.

Every ship she had been stationed on, she had to deal with a counselor. They always pried into her personal life. So what if she had an angry demeanor! It was her business!

She stormed up to Terry’s office door and tapped on the panel next to it. “Come,” Terry replied through the closed doors.

The doors obediently opened, and R’Sharn stormed into the office. She immediately stepped up the Terry’s desk, leaned on the desk, and stated, “You’ve got a lot of nerve…”

Terry was taken back at first, but immediately frowned and interrupted with, “SIT down, Lieutenant-Commander.”

R’Sharn glared at him for a moment, then moved to one of the chairs in front of Terry’s desk. She simply stared across the desk at him.

Terry was examining his desktop computer. She guessed he was looking at her service record.

He gestured towards the computer and stated, “Your records show that you actually were a non-hostile person until your senior year at the Academy.”

R’Sharn just stared at Terry as a reply. He looked at her momentarily, then asked, “Would you mind explaining why?”

“Yes, I do mind!” R’Sharn bit back.

Terry audibly sighed and said, “Something had to have happened to make you the way you are.”

“Indeed!” R’Sharn stated rather harshly.

Terry stared at her momentarily, then looked back at his computer. “Ever since then, you’ve rejected all counseling rather like you are now.”

She decided no to respond any more. No doubt, the Betazoid sensed her determination. She closed her mind off from his, not allowing the telepath to probe her mind for the answers he sought. She’d done this procedure many times, and knew it worked.

Terry raised an eyebrow and said, “Ah, so I was correct in assuming something happened prior to your senior year at the Academy.”

R’Sharn couldn’t help but express her surprise. “How did you get into my mind?” She asked loudly, demanding answers.

Terry smiled and stated, “I’ve been trained to get into the minds of people who have been trained to resist mental probing. I once was part of a special ops group, for about two years.”

This suddenly made R’Sharn seem undefended, exposed. Some one could probe her mind once again, and she hated that fact. “Counselor, may I reschedule for a later appointment?” she asked in a suddenly quiet voice.

She allowed the counselor to easily sense that she needed the extra time to collect her thoughts. He simply nodded in reply.

Stricken with both fear and confusion, she stood and left his quarters.

“The Meridian is decloaking directly ahead,” Perkins stated.

“On screen,” Tom responded. The view screen didn’t even change, and he cursed himself for that error. The Runabout decloaked, and then was replaced with Captain Chris Harriman’s face.

Tom smiled and said, “Captain Harriman.”

Chris nodded and stated, “We’re coming aboard immediately.”

“Shuttle bay one is ready for your arrival,” Tom stated. “I hope you’ve brought good news?”

“Perhaps,” Chris replied quietly.

“The information you’ve provided us with is invaluable, to say the least,” Admiral Piarn said. Chris, Sarah, General Bertaan, and a few other Britar and Hintaru, were sitting in Outpost 300’s war room. The room was as impressive as the first Defense Perimeter’s briefing room.

“I thought it might be,” Chris said sarcastically. He then mentally scolded himself for doing so. He needed to learn to lose his sarcasm, especially in a time of war.

Piarn stared at him momentarily, then sat down. He pressed in a few commands on the console in front of him, and a hologram of the planet appeared above the tabletop.

The planet was M-class, primarily comprised of vast plains and forests. Its surface was approximately 70% water. As such, it looked somewhat like Earth.

Chris felt a longing for Earth strike him again. It was growing towards a year of being away from Earth. If only he had known that it would have been the last time he had seen her, he would have put the blue gem on view screen as they had departed.

In orbit around the planet was a large, very long object. The object then moved and grew to fill the entire holographic display, the planet dispersing.

It was an exact match of the plans Chris had seen so many months ago. The huge ship was simply a latticework of support structures surrounding a large temporal crystal. It was laced with mechanisms that used the crystal’s temporal properties to create disruptions in the space-time continuum. No type of shielding could withstand the distortions.

It could easily destroy a star by simply causing disruptions with in its core. The same thing applied to planets. Of course, starships were far too small for it to effectively do the same, but it could get close. A disruption didn’t have to be too far away from a starship to cause a lot of damage.

“The crew of the Dragon have discovered a way to punch through this monster’s defenses,” Piarn began. Every one diverted their attention to the Hintaru officer.

Once he had confirmed that he had every one’s attention, he began. “The Dragon has what they call a tachyon emitter, which can fire tachyon bursts into the shield grid of the Destroyer and cause them to reset their shield harmonics.”

“Which would force them to temporarily lower shields,” Bertaan declared in a voice of awe and surprise.

Piarn nodded and continued. “When they reset harmonics, we can beam several teams into the ship to take out a few key shield generators.”

Ten red dots appeared about the latticework of support structures on the hologram. “These are the ten key generators,” Piarn commented. “If we take these out, it won’t take much to destroy what’ll be left of the shields.”

The dots vanished, and the large, dark-blue crystal then became highlighted. “Once the shields are down, we simply target the temporal crystal,” Piarn continued. “If we cause enough damage, and if the Vorkalai are dumb enough to try to continue to use it, it’ll cause a major temporal distortion in the surrounding space. We’ll hopefully be able to make it out in time before it becomes too unstable, but we expect several losses.”

“Wait,” Bertaan interrupted. “What exactly is going to happen if it becomes too unstable?”

Piarn looked at him, fear obviously in his eyes. He took in a deep breath before saying, “For generations to come, that system will be subject to intense space/time distortions, and nothing will be able to go near it.”

The room went silent for a moment. No one said or did any thing as they contemplated the information. It was literally a shot in the dark that the attacking fleet would survive.

Chris stared at Piarn, who stared back. Both Piarn and Chris knew that there was more to this battle.

“Now I inform you of the hard part,” Piarn finally added, shattering the silence.

“That’s NOT the hard part?!” Bertaan asked in a voice filled with fear and confusion.

Piarn closed his eyes and shook his head. He tapped a command into the console. The planet re-appeared, only this time, a section of the ground was highlighted. The planet then disappeared, and a hologram of some ground section of the planet was apparently resting on the table.

That section of the planet seemed to have a large structure on it.

“There is a large weapon’s platform stationed on the ground,” Piarn indicated. He opened his eyes and finished, “The Destroyer is in a synchronous orbit with that platform. The platform has enough fire power to easily fend off any attacking fleets, with the help of the Destroyer.”

There was a slight commotion in the room, but was immediately silenced by an icy glare from Piarn. “We’re sending the Dragon, with its cloaking technology, in with a small group of special operation troops,” he stated. “They’ll have to destroy or disable the primary generator so that the platform will be incapable of any kind of activity.”

“I suppose the platform is heavily guarded,” a Hintaru officer said dryly.

Piarn nodded. “Indeed, it is. It has a group of approximately five thousand marines stationed through out the station merely for defense. Then there’s security, and the like.”

“The operation would have to be under cover of some sort,” a Britar commented.

Piarn nodded in reply to that as well. “Indeed. We can beam the team about four kilometers out from the generator. The armor is too dense any farther in.”

The room was silent once again. Finally, Piarn stood and stated, “It’s a shot in the dark, every one, but we have a chance.”

Every one nodded in agreement. Piarn looked at each person in the room, then centered upon Chris. “As soon as we have confirmation that the platform is down, we warp in and finish off the Destroyer. Inform all departments about this plan, and report back once all preparations are made.”

With out even being told, all but Chris, Sarah, and Piarn stood and left the room. Piarn remained staring at Chris, Chris staring back.

“We can do this,” Chris said confidently. He then stood, and headed for the nearest transporter room, Sarah following closely.

Every one filed silently into the Dragon’s briefing room. No one spoke as they knew that this would be an important briefing. They knew that the upcoming battle would be costly, but well worth it.

Terry sat in his usual seat and rested his arms on the table. He was momentarily lost in his thoughts about R’Sharn. He had to get her duty-worthy before the battle, for he had no doubt it would take everyone’s fullest efforts for the Dragon to pull through this.

He knew that Ada and Kalia would put aside their differences for the time being, but R’Sharn…

Chris cleared his throat, diverting every one’s attention to him. Terry looked at him, every one following suit. When Chris saw that he had every one’s attention, he began.

“Every one, we have a hard battle up ahead,” Chris began, sitting down at the head chair. “Have you all read the briefing?”

Every one nodded in unison. “Then you know what we have to do.” He looked at Ada and said, “Ada, you’ll be the one who leads the assault force into the Weapons Platform.”

Ada nodded and replied, “Are there going to be any other Dragon officers leading this mission?”

“No,” Chris replied, shaking his head. “You’re going to be leading a group of special ops officers from the Britar. They’ll be sufficient enough. As you know, this is a covert operation.”

Ada smiled. Terry sensed that she seemed to be comfortable with this type of mission, and remembered that indeed she had been part of another special ops group in Starfleet Tactical. “That’s my specialty,” she stated proudly.

“Good,” Chris said, nodding. He then looked to Kalia. “We’re going to require a lot of power for this mission. We’ll need all three warp cores running at peak efficiency. Every Phaser bank firing flawlessly. No problems in the torpedo launching system.”

Kalia smiled and replied, “Hey, I always keep things at top efficiency.”

Terry then sensed some hostility from Ada at that remark. No doubt it involved a previous argument they had regarding how ship functions were kept.

Then Chris looked at Terry. “How’s the crew’s morale?”

Terry took in a big breath before saying, “Well, they fear the upcoming battle. They know that many are going to die, but they also feel that you are very well capable of bringing us out of this battle in one piece. They trust you with their lives.”

Chris smiled at that remark, then looked to Tom. “Are you sure this is going to work?”

Tom smiled and said, “If I wasn’t sure of it, I wouldn’t have presented the option to you in the first place.”

Chris then looked at Perkins. “We’ll need to have peak communications at all times,” Chris stated. “Are all ops systems functioning perfectly?”

“Yes,” Perkins simply replied.

Chris finally looked at Commander Kara Trieal. “I’m sure you are aware that sickbay is going to be receiving plenty of injuries and casualties.”

Kara nodded and said, “I recommend we set up extra med bays in a few of the holodecks around the ship.”

“Agreed,” Chris replied.

He looked at all of the senior officers, knowing what Terry sensed. They were afraid, yet confident. When he looked at Sarah, something sparked in his mind.

He stood and started, “I’m sure some one like Captain Picard would have something emotional and meaningful to say.” He sighed before continuing. “Right now, I’d like to hear it. But I’m not exactly known for good speeches, so I’ll skip it to keep moral up.”

A few of the senior officers snickered at the remark. Chris smiled and then finished, “Report once all stations are prepared. Dismissed.”

As every one filed out of the briefing room, Terry walked up to Chris. “One thing, Captain,” he started.

Chris stopped in mid step. Terry waited for every one to leave, then began, “I think I may be getting through to R’Sharn.”

Chris smiled and replied, “Well, good.”

“No,” Terry said, stopping Chris as he attempted to leave again. He frowned at Terry who finished, “She’s in the stage of emotional instability. She’s not exactly fit for duty.”

Chris frowned deeper and said, “Then you have until the battle to get her fit for duty.”

“It might be better if she talked with someone she knew,” Terry stopped Chris again. “Namely, her Captain.”

Chris took in a breath, then nodded. “Very well.”

With that, Chris finally left the briefing room. Terry stared out the view port for a moment, sighed, and left the now-empty room.

Chris was studying a tactical readiness report from Ada, satisfied that all tactical preparations were finally complete. He smiled, for all he needed now was a few individual reports before they could report ready to Admiral Piarn.

The chime to his ready room door sounded, interrupting his reading. He knew who it was, so set down the padd. “Come in,” he ordered.

The doors parted to allow R’Sharn in. The usually hot-headed Andorian walked in with a rather casual pace. Indeed Terry had gotten through to her, for she usually was very stern and strict.

She smiled warmly, nodded, and said, “You asked to see me, sir?”

Chris raised an eyebrow, smiled in return, and motioned to the chair in front of his desk. R’Sharn sat down, keeping her warm smile present.

“R’Sharn, I understand that there’s a reason behind your angry demeanor,” Chris stated flatly.

Her smile vanished, but was, luckily, not replaced with an angry look. Instead, a look of sadness came about her. She then nodded as her only reply.

“Would you mind sharing it with an old friend?” Chris asked.

She remained silent for a long time after that. Chris wondered if she hadn’t gone into some trance of some sort as she stared at Chris’s desktop. Finally, after some time, she took in a large breath.

“Prior to my senior year at the Academy,” she began. “I fell in love.”

Immediately Chris knew that this was going to be a rather heartbreaking story. He put his full attention into it.

“I fell in love with a Betazoid,” she added. “He was a handsome man whom was only a freshman at the Academy. But he seemed…so experienced, when it came to Starfleet. Like he had been part of Starfleet his entire life. I later learned that he had been born and raised on a starship.

“So, he actually was the one helping me, when it came to my studies. And we would regularly date.” She smiled as she added, “Our favorite spot was a little Andorian restaurant near the beach. We’d go there at least once a week.

“It was the most romantic time of life.” Her face then changed to sadness. “Then, he betrayed me.”

“Betrayed?” Chris asked, curious.

R’Sharn nodded solemnly. “It turns out he was part of some secret underground movement against Starfleet. He invited me to join, but I refused. And for three weeks I debated whether or not to report him and his organization. I know I loved him, but I was a Starfleet Cadet.

“I never got the chance,” she stated coldly. “Section 31 discovered the organization and killed every one in it, including him.”

“And since then, you’ve not allowed any one to get close,” Chris commented.

R’Sharn shook her head and said, “No, I’ve been too afraid to. Not even as a simple friend. I didn’t want any telepaths to get into my head, so I learned a technique that could block the telepaths.”

Chris contemplated the story for a few moments. He had never realized that Section 31 had also affected R’Sharn’s life. He thought they had been an emotional burden on himself. However, it was obviously nothing compared to what they had done to R’Sharn.

He then leaned forward over his desk and stated, “I understand how you feel.” She laughed in mock response, no doubt thinking he hadn’t. Chris raised an eyebrow in response and said, “They’ve ruined my life. You know they have. You heard what I had said on the holodeck a few months back. I understand that you hate them.”

“With a passion!” she stated.

“But you have to let the past go,” Chris said simply.

Her mouth dropped. “How the hell can I let the past go?!”

“I’m not saying let go of hating Section 31, but you have to let your past emotions and experiences go,” Chris continued. “You’ve lost a love. I understand that, and that you may never love again.” He leaned back in his chair. “But that is no reason for you to shut out the rest of the world. Don’t take your anger and fear out on other people.”

Star Trek Dragon graphics and written material copyright Jon Wasik. Star Trek is a registered trademark
of Paramount Pictures, a Viacom company. No copyright infringement intended