“It won’t take long, I promise!” Lieutenant Commander R’Sharn beckoned. “Come on!”

She was leading Captain Chris Harriman through the corridors of the Dragon to an unknown destination. Chris was confused at both where they were going and why. He was also still stunned at the impact he had had upon R’Sharn.

Four weeks ago, he had confronted her about her angry demeanor. He had learned what had happened to her when she was at the Academy, and had some how been successful at bringing her out of her long depression.

When the doors of holodeck 1 came into view, Chris guessed that was their destination. It was strange that R’Sharn had a surprise for him while the ship was still undergoing extensive repairs. He mentally shrugged the questions off and allowed R’Sharn to lead him to the holodeck.

She released his hand when they stopped by the doors. “Computer, enter,” she said, smiling. It was somewhat disturbing to see her smiling, but Chris let it pass.

The doors parted to absolute darkness. Chris was greatly confused, hesitating to enter. However, R’Sharn dragged him along. Apparently, it had been set up to block any light coming in from the corridor outside, so he still could see nothing.

There was some hushed whispers, which frightened him. What sort of program was this? Was it meant to frighten Chris? But why would R’Sharn do that?

Out of the whispering, he heard the word “Now!”

Suddenly, light flooded the room, revealing it to be filled with a lot of Dragon crew members. “SURPRISE!” they all yelled.

Realization dawned on Chris. It was his birthday! With all of the hard work that had been put into the Dragon, he’d completely forgotten that it was his birthday today!

Commander Sarah Caft ran forward and embraced him in a hug. She kissed him gently on the lips and smiled. “Happy birth day, my love.”

Chris smiled back as more of the senior officers crowded around him to congratulate him. Every one was there, including Kalia. Though the ship was in need of repairs, he’d let it go this time.

The room which they were in was a grand hall. There were stairs leading up to an open second floor, and chandeliers were all across the ceiling, giving the hall plenty of lighting. At one side was a huge fireplace, with an equally huge fire lit. It was just large enough to hold a very large portion of the Dragon crew members.

It was made quite obvious to Chris that his birthday had been planned far in advance, and he smiled deeper at that fact. He’d been with the crew for well over half of a year, and actually was getting much closer to a year. But he hadn’t realized he had made an impact on such a large number of the crew.

They began to lead him to a round table situated at the center of the hall. On that table was a large, square cake, which an engineer was finishing lighting the candles. “Make a wish!” some one shouted above the commotion as he stopped in front of the cake. The senior staff circled around the table to watch it.

He thought about it for a moment, wondering what exactly he should wish for. The entire hall silenced, and he was curious as to the giggles and small laughs that he kept hearing.

Finally, he decided upon a wish, and blew out the candles. In immediate response, he heard the sound of bottle corks being shot out. Wine sprayed about the entire assemblage of officers, getting every one wet. There was a large cheer, followed by playful laughter.

Chris smiled as another cake was brought out, this one untouched by wine. Then another, and another. In fact, several came out of some room, no doubt meant to feed the entire assemblage.

Chris smiled as he accepted a wine-soaked piece of marble cake. He began eating it, regardless of the fact that it had alcohol in it. He never drank, but technically, he wasn’t drinking.

People then began dispersing, though many made it to Chris to wish him a happy birthday. Chris was happy, despite the war that was still going on around them.

Not too long after, he made his way to the second floor and presented himself on the edge of the balcony. He had the computer sound a chime until Chris had everyone’s attention.

“I’d like to thank you all for coming here today,” he said jovially. He looked out at the balcony outside behind him, smiled, then amended, “Well, evening.” He looked back at the crowd and continued. “Any way, It’s getting close to a year since we all were thrust together as the crew of the first prototype Dragon class starship. Since that day, we’ve all gotten along together fine.

“In fact, better than fine,” Chris added. “I’ve never seen a crew get along so well before! Even the Enterprise was nothing compared to this crew, this ship!

“I know we’ve lost a lot of loved ones and friends,” Chris said solemnly. “It indeed has been a harsh war. How ever, we’ve managed to keep together and managed not to fight each other in the process of overcoming our losses. Hell, I even managed to get R’Sharn to rediscover what it feels like to smile,” Chris smiled.

The entire crowd laughed at this, remembering how R’Sharn had once been the isolated one of the ship. R’Sharn smiled and bowed her head down, trying to conceal her smile.

“May we remain close through out our journeys,” Chris added. “And may we encounter fair weather in the feature.” His smiled widened before shouting, “Now have fun!”

A cheer emerged from the crowd again, and then the entire assemblage became noisy with talk.

As Chris began walking along, conversing with people again, Sarah caught up to him. They smiled at each other before Sarah said, “You know, you’re getting quite good at these speeches.” Chris shrugged the comment off, and was going to comment again, but Sarah was all ready walking away.

After about an hour of conversing and having fun, a thought occurred to him. His own birthday had reminded him of a few key details.

He isolated himself out on the balcony as he thought about his forgetfulness. Forgetting one’s own birthday is one thing…

He heard footsteps approaching. He turned around to see Sarah coming towards him. “How come you left the party?” Sarah asked.

Chris didn’t smile, even though he honestly felt like doing so. “You know, I just realized something…”

“Oh, what’s that?” Sarah asked, stepping up beside Chris and looking out at the view. Chris turned and looked at the view himself. It was a beautiful night, two of the three moons on the alien jungle planet were half full. It cast a beautiful light on Sarah…

“My own birthday isn’t the only one I’ve forgotten,” he started. “I’ve forgotten yours…”

Sarah smiled and looked down. “Don’t worry about it, so did every one else, including myself. This war has kept us all very busy.” She looked up at Chris and added, “Besides, you also forgot Ada and Tom’s birthdays.”

Chris’ eyes went wide as he realized the error. “Now that I think about it, indeed I did.”

“So if there’s any thing to worry about, it’s Ada,” Sarah finished. “Come on, we still have some activities planned,” she added, grabbing Chris’s arm and pulling him back into the hall.

“Bridge to Captain Harriman,” some one said over the comm system.

Chris tapped his comm badge, stopping in mid stride. “Go ahead.”

“There’s a personal hail coming in from Admiral Piarn for you, Captain,” the voice stated.

“Very well, I’ll take it down here,” Chris said. He tapped his comm badge and looked at Sarah. She smiled, shrugged, then went on with out him.

Chris watched as she left, then turned around. “Computer, arch,” he ordered.

Obediently, the standard holodeck arch appeared. Chris went to it and tapped in a few commands. “Authorization Harriman 2-2-7 Echo Gamma,” he concluded.

Immediately, the familiar face of High-Admiral Piarn came on to the screen. Piarn frowned at Chris, or at least, what Chris guessed was a frown. “Captain, is the Dragon still having environmental problems?” he asked, confused.

Chris looked at his stained uniform, and concluded that it looked like he was sweating heavily. He smiled and said, “No Admiral, something else entirely. Any way, you wanted to speak with me?”

Piarn gave what Chris thought to be a quizzical look, then shrugged. “Yes, we’ve got a mission for you.”

Chris frowned and replied, “Well, the Dragon’s not due to be finished with repairs for another…”

“It doesn’t involve the Dragon,” Piarn cut him off. “Just you.”

Chris frowned. “Then what does it involve?”

“Just meet me at the Defense Perimeter’s main base as soon as possible,” Piarn said. “Let’s just say a situation is arising.” The screen changed to show the Alliance symbol, then changed to the UFP symbol.

Chris moved away from the arch as he contemplated what was going on… He tapped his comm badge and said, “Harriman to Caft.”

After a pause, she replied, “Go ahead.”

“A situation has come up, and I’m going to an emergency meeting with Admiral Piarn,” Chris stated. “It doesn’t involve the Dragon, so no need to go full time on the repairs. I’m leaving in a minute.”

He heard a sigh before she replied, “Right, Caft out.”

Chris then said, “Harriman to bridge, prepare the Meridian for launch, I’ll be piloting.” He then headed for the arch, ordering, “Computer, exit.”

The exit appeared in the arch and opened to let Chris pass back into the real world. He wondered what was going on…

Chris cleared his throat as he waited impatiently in front of the door leading to Piarn’s office. He’d all ready hit the chime once, and the Admiral had instructed him to wait a moment. That had been five minutes ago.

“All right, come in,” Piarn instructed.

Chris pressed the key on the panel next to the door, and the door obediently parted. Chris entered the spartan office to find Piarn sitting at his desk, studying a PADD intently.

Chris stood in front of the Admirals desk, waiting to be noticed. Piarn looked up and then motioned to the chair in front of his desk. Chris sat down and waited impatiently. Piarn had told him to get to the Perimeter’s main base as soon as possible, and now Chris was forced to wait…

Finally, Piarn put the PADD down and looked at Chris. “Captain, as I said, we have a situation brewing.” Chris nodded, waiting for Piarn to continue. “Do you remember the pirates you and Sarah encountered while the Dragon was still being upgraded?”

Chris nodded and replied, “Yes. Rather vicious people who would stop at nothing to capture Sarah and I.”

“That’s them,” Piarn said, in turn nodding. “And that is simply one of many.” Chris had expected that. There rarely was only one single pirate group in any one space.

“However,” Piarn added, leaning back in his chair, his purple complexion lighting a bit for some reason. “Due to the events of the war, a few have tried to cross over to the Vorkalai side. The Vorkalai took information from them, then did to them what they do to every one else.”

“As one would expect,” Chris commented dryly.

Piarn gave what Chris continued to guess was a smile. “When seeing this, most of the pirate groups have banded into two large groups. One, which has always been a major threat in our space, remains the same, with no new members. The other is all of the smaller pirate groups combined.”

“So what does this have to do with me?” Chris asked impatiently.

“Wait until you hear the full story first,” Piarn lectured. Chris nearly sighed, but managed to nod in reply.

“Now, pirate raids from the banded group are increasing as they attempt to gain more resources and become the dominant power near our home system,” Piarn continued. “And it’s hindering our war effort.”

“What does that have to do with me?” Chris asked suspiciously, already dreading the answer.

“You, my friend, are going to infiltrate the banded group,” Piarn stated, smiling. “You’ll get some surgery done to your face, and especially change that skin pigmentation. Then, you’ll be outfitted with a uniform, stolen plasma rifle, and a long-range shuttle that’s been reported missing for two days already.”

“Question,” Chris interjected, raising his hand and index finger. “How exactly am I supposed to infiltrate them?”

Piarn shrugged before replying, “You’ve got four days until you reach a place where you can come into contact with them. You should be able to figure that out on your own.”

“Just the job I wanted,” Chris replied sarcastically.

Piarn frowned and asked, “You did?”

Chris smiled despite himself. “Another sarcastic reply, Admiral.”

The purple-hued Admiral gave what Chris kept guessing was a frown, then he shrugged it off. “I don’t know if I’ll ever understand humans…”

“Or any one else from my galaxy,” Chris added, smiling even deeper.

Piarn tapped a command into a console on his desk, and obediently, an aid entered. “Outfit Captain Harriman with his uniform and the like,” Piarn ordered, handing Chris some identification card. Chris saw that his name would be Jahkarr in this infiltration mission…

“If you’ll follow me, sir,” the aid instructed.

Chris looked at Piarn, nodded, then stood and followed the aid out of the room. He certainly had his work cut out for him…

First Officers log, Supplemental.

I was just informed by High-Admiral Piarn that Chris won’t be joining us for a while, and is on a highly classified mission. So, as per regulation, I’m taking temporary command of the Dragon.

Reports indicate the Dragon to actually finish ahead of schedule, and should be out helping with the war effort soon.

Other reports indicate that many Vorkalai ships are some how slipping past the Defense Perimeter. Our first assignment after repairs are finished is to patrol key sectors near the outer rim of the ever-expanding Hintaru Protection Zone. After a month of not even testing the defensive systems, a little action instead of a lot will be just what we need to get back into the groove of things…

“No, that’s too much!” Commander Kalia Tarkent shouted through the console she was in. She cussed as she received a high-energy shock. “Try it manually!”

Kalia heard a mumbled reply, so she shouted, “Say that again?”

“I said, ‘I’m on it,’” Lieutenant Meylar Palzen shouted back.

Kalia waited patiently for Palzen to finish his job. When the tricorder indicated the power flow was nominal, she moved her tricorder to the next power conduit in the command console.

She got a reading, and stated, “Conduit 227 Beta’s too low.”

“Come again?” Palzen asked.

“I said 227 Beta’s too low!” Kalia shouted. “Fix it manually!

“Right!” Palzen shouted back. He tripped over her feet, causing her to slide slightly out of the console and twist her leg. “Uh, sorry!” Palzen said sheepishly. Kalia frowned, then pulled herself back in.

She cussed as she realized she dropped the tricorder and began fishing around the complex console interior. Twice, she was zapped, and in turn, hit her head twice. Finally, she found the tricorder, and brought it to bear on the conduit in question.

When seeing what the tricorder reported, she yelled, “WOOOH!” she shouted. “STOP!”

It was too little, far too late. The conduit suddenly became emerged in a bright, red-hot light. Kalia pushed herself out of the console and cussed under her breath again as she tripped a passing engineer. The engineer landed on her, but that was the least of her worries.

A small explosion sounded from the console, and a bright flash followed. “Dammit!” she yelled in anger, pushing the engineer off of herself. She rolled over and looked in the console’s interior to see everything melted together.

As she stood up, she also saw that the black surface on top had melted through. She went to the console and pounded it in fury.

“Commander, you’re injured,” Palzen said, indicating Kalia’s left shoulder. She looked to see burned flesh, and just now felt the pain. She winced and grabbed her shoulder in pain.

“Get that damned console working again,” she ordered, limping in pain out of engineering.

The turbolift she entered took her directly to sickbay. She stalked into sickbay and sat on the edge of a bio-bed, impatiently waiting for Kalia or some other medical officer to treat her wounds.

After clearing her throat several times, Commander Kara Trieal appeared out of her office. She took one look at Kalia and grabbed a tricorder and hypospray. She then stood next to Kalia and scanned her over.

“How did you get this?” Kara asked, surprise very evident in her voice.

“Power conduit overloaded,” Kalia commented. Ever since the birthday party for Chris, she’d had no sleep, and instead worked hard.

Kara administered a pain suppressant using the hypospray, then grabbed a dermal regenerator. She entered in a setting, then began passing it over Kalia’s burn.

“My scans also said you were suffering extreme anxiety,” Kara commented. “Most likely due to no sleep?”

Kalia nodded, the pain seeping away from her shoulder. When Kara finished the treatment, she said, “Well, I’m ordering you to get at least ten hours of sleep, and right now.”

“I need to get back to engineering…” Kalia began, standing.

Kara put her hand on the still-inflamed burn on Kalia’s shoulder. Kalia winced, despite the pain. It was effective in halting Kalia in her tracks. “I said that’s an order,” Kara stated. “Either do as I say or I’ll give you a sleeping agent and keep you here, that way you have the full ten hours of sleep.

Kalia, far too tired to sleep, smiled and said, “Alright, you win.”

As she began to leave sickbay, Kara called to her, “And I’m going to check on your location in five minutes, so don’t try heading to engineering!”

Kalia smiled as she entered the turbolift. “Deck seven,” she told the computer.

In moments, she was on deck seven. She walked the long distance to the front of the saucer section, regretting each step at her choice of not using the turbolift for most of the journey.

Finally, she entered her large quarters. She sighed as she stripped out of her uniform and entered the sonic shower. As she activated it, she began thinking…

It was going to take another few days to finish repairs to the Dragon if her luck kept up. Even then, it would take at least half of a day to test and make final adjustments to all systems. Perhaps she had been incorrect when she told Sarah that repairs would be done much sooner…

When she noticed that her body was completely clean, she deactivated the sonic shower. She sleepily headed for her bed, stumbling across her dark room along the way.

She finally made it to bed and greedily covered herself with the sheets. “Computer, raise temperature one degree,” she said before attempting to gain sleep.

She didn’t know why, but at first, she couldn’t fall asleep. She was very tired, but she just couldn't fall asleep…

Suddenly, the light activated in her room. She looked up at the blinding light, confused as it continued to get brighter. As suddenly as it had lit up, it exploded in a bright flash. Sparks hit the floor, but caused no fire.

Too tired to deal with it now, she turned over and buried her head under her pillow. Finally, sleep found her… Only to be stopped by the sound of some one stumbling around in her room.

Angry, she sat up in bed, throwing the pillow to the ground. “Who the hell?!?” she began in an angry tone.

Examining the damaged light panel, Palzen looked at Kalia, frightened. “I, ah, was just making sure the power surge hadn’t started any other problems,” he said sheepishly.

Kalia frowned at his nervousness, then noticed the sheets had left the top of her body. Embarrassed, she pulled the sheets back up to cover her body.

“Umm, sorry,” Palzen said, stumbling out of Kalia’s quarters.

For a moment, Kalia stared after him as he left. Finally, she started laughing uncontrollably.

She then grabbed her pillow and buried her head again. With in seconds, sleep found her…again.

The next day, Kalia found she had slept in for over eleven hours. Normally, she would’ve hated herself for sleeping more than she thought she should have, but the way she felt, she was glad.

In a new burst of energy from her rest, she got out of bed and stretched, then slipped into her uniform. She was definitely in a good mood…

That is, until she stepped on the glass from the light panel that blew out last night. She cussed as a piece of glass stuck itself in her foot.

“Wonderful way to wake up,” she commented. She tried to brighten a bit, tried to bring back her good mood. Then she decided that would have to wait till she got this new wound taken care of…

She tapped her combadge and said, “Tarkent to Trieal. Think you could make a quick house call?”

“What’s wrong?” Kara came back over the comm system.

“Oh, nothing,” Kalia said sarcastically. “Just got a nice sized piece of glass stuck in the bottom of my foot, that’s all.”

“Ouch,” Kara commented. “I’ll be right there.”

Kalia waited on the couch in her living room when Kara finally came in. “How did you manage to do this?” she asked, passing a tricorder over her wounded foot.

“Light panel blew out last night, and I sort of forgot about it this morning when I woke up,” Kalia replied sheepishly.

Kara laughed momentarily, then took on a serious look. “Wow, you managed to sever several tendons and nick a bone.”

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