Sarah pointed to the remnants of the nacelle and said in a stricken voice, "Please tell me I'm not seeing that nacelle."
Another moment of silence fell upon the group as everyone else took in what they were seeing. It was frightening to them all but what frightened Sarah was that, if her book was any sign of it the event that destroys the Dragon would occur soon.
All signs pointed to a likely destruction and crash with in the next couple of days. The Dragon needs to be on the front lines, and so wouldn't stay here long enough but obviously long enough to be destroyed.
They all suddenly heard a sound to the left of the group, and everyone reacted on instinct. Sarah brought her pulse rifle to bear on the sound. However, she wasn't exactly prepared to see what to see who she saw.
She unconsciously lowered her rifle, staring at the man who was equally staring at her. "Chris?!" she asked, astonished.
Chris was wearing a Hintaru uniform instead of a Starfleet. What also surprised Sarah was that his Hintaru rank insignia indicated him to be at the rank of Admiral one rank below General in the Hintaru navy.
Sarah didn't know who's eyes were wider, though. Her own or Chris'. "SARAH?!?!?" Chris asked, almost hysterical. "You're alive?!"
Sarah frowned, and was a bit taken back. "Of course I'm alive!" she replied.
Chris nearly fell to the ground as he took in the scene. It seemed as if he was surprised to see any of the group alive.
"How can this be possible?" Chris asked. "You're all dead!"
Sarah's frowned deepened as she took in what Chris said. "How can we be dead if we're standing here?" she asked.
"N-no, you can't be!" Chris said, stumbling with words. "The Dragon crashed to this planet seven years ago! All aboard were lost!"
"What are you talking about?" Sarah asked. "Chris, we've only been here for a year! The Dragon is up in orbit right now!"
Chris shook his head, disbelieving. "No no, that's not possible."
Then it hit Sarah. "A planet-wide temporal distortion " she said quietly. "Chris, why are you here?" she asked.
"Well, the war just ended," Chris said. "And I wanted to visit the remnants of this ship. So, I came in a one-man transport while everyone else celebrated."
"You didn't, by chance, encounter a temporal distortion in this planet's atmosphere, did you?" Sarah asked, thinking she already knew the answer.
Chris frowned, replying, "Yes I did."
At that moment, Sarah knew the answer. "Then you're from the future! This entire planet was taken from seven years into the future, exchanged for this time's version of the planet."
Realization crossed Chris' face. "Then perhaps we can stop the event that led to your destruction " Chris thought out loud.
Sarah tapped her comm badge and said, "Caft to Dragon. Prepare to beam eight up."
"Understood," came Kara Trieal's response. "Shall I have sick bay standing by?"
Sarah paused, looking at Chris. "No. But assemble the senior staff in the briefing room."
She looked the Chris, and nodded. He approached the group, and stood ready to beam up. "Energize."
The senior staff was silent as Sarah told them what she knew about the Dragon's demise that would soon occur. At the end, she said, "I'm convinced that we can alter time and stop our demise with our future Admiral here." She looked at Chris and smiled.
"Agreed," said Chris, smiling back. "Of course, if you disagree with violating the temporal prime directive, let Sarah know so that she can note it."
"Like hell we're going to disagree," Ada stated. She nodded to Chris and said, "Tell us what happened, sir."
Sarah smiled at Ada's directness. Another note she would have to put in her log
Chris smiled even deeper, then put on a serious face. "About a week from now, I'll have gathered enough info on the pirate group to find out how to destroy them. I make it out and find out the Dragon was lost in orbit of this planet.
"That same day I find out, a massive ship, more than twice the size of the Dragon, appears and starts wreaking havoc," Chris continued. "That same ship was the one you, Sarah, had described before the Defense Base lost contact with the Dragon. When the defense base sent a rescue ship, the Vorkalai ship was gone, and the Dragon was on the planet, just like some of you saw. There were no survivors "
Chris paused, the painful memories coming to him. He sat there staring at the table, letting his words sink in. Finally, he continued.
"When the Vorkalai saw that their new prototype was working, they went into mass production of it," Chris continued abruptly. "As we destroyed the normal Vorkalai ships on the front line, they were replaced by this monolith, which we nicknamed the Destroyer's Revenge.
"The Vorkalai began gaining ground. The Defense base was taking a beating, and so construction on a third one began closer to home. This one, due to lack of resources and due to its far superior firepower, took a year to construct. The day it was completed, the Vorkalai reached it and began pounding it.
"Many ships had been lost, and so the Defense Base was the only thing between the Vorkalai and Allied space. Each day, as parts of the base were destroyed, it contracted. For four years, that base continued to retract while ships were being stockpiled.
"Finally, we began an offensive strike, a spear head. The first spear head strike was demolished by that first prototype the spear head that probably could have ended the war." Chris again let the words sink in as he remembered the long years. His eyes narrowed as a determined look came over his face.
He started again, strength in his voice. "I was promoted to the rank of Admiral and given command of that strike force. But when the strike force reached the Vorkalai home world, it had a better defense surrounding it than we expected. Weakened by getting there alone, we set out on suicide runs to destroy their production platforms.
"Of that battle, only my ship survived," Chris said quietly. "We abandoned ship and stole one of the Destroyer's Revenge. We made it back, and the Vorkalai ship was looked over atom by atom. We found out how to penetrate the monolith's shields, and so we waited another two years to build up our ships again. Meanwhile, the Defense Base was slowly gaining ground with this new information.
"A year long offensive began and we finally just destroyed the Vorkalai."
Silence then engulfed the briefing room, everyone contemplating what could happen what this Chris went through what the Allied Forces went through It was a lot for the crew to take in. Knowing what might happen tomorrow even today Sarah frowned, and asked, "How long do we have before we encounter the prototype?" she asked.
"About twenty hours," Chris replied. He looked at every officer's face, then finished, "I'm guessing that if we destroy this ship here, and now, the Vorkalai won't mass produce it. We'll have a chance, then, to stop this war once and for all."
"I agree," Sarah said, everyone else following suite.
"So how do we penetrate the shields?" Ada asked.
"Well, in this case, we don't," Chris replied. Everyone frowned, making Chris explain further. "There's only one weapon, which isn't going to be invented until three years from now, that will have enough power to immediately penetrate the shields." He put up his hand to stop anyone from interrupting. "However, if we modify the other weapons, their shields will go down a whole lot faster."
"Then let's get to work," Sarah ordered. "I want department readiness reports in five hours." She looked at Chris. "Chris, would you compile all of the information you know about this ship for me after you've helped Kalia and Ada modify the weapons?"
"Of course," Chris replied, nodding.
"Dismissed," Sarah stated, standing from the chair that Chris usually sat in. Everyone filed out of the room, going about their business. Ada paused at the door, waiting for Chris, but Sarah motioned her on.
When the room was empty, Sarah turned to Chris. "I hope you don't mind that I don't act like you are my Chris," she said, staring into his eyes.
Chris smiled, shaking his head. "I think I understand how you feel." He put his hand on her shoulder and said, "I'll help you all through this, though."
He gave a reassuring squeeze on her should, then left. Sarah, not knowing what to do, stood where she was. A feeling of loss, for some reason, filled her. She stared out into open space, sadness permeating her emotions.
"This is going to be a long twenty hours," she said quietly.
The chime to the Captain's ready room sounded, waking Sarah from her sleep. She sat up from the couch and wiped the sleep from her eyes.
When the chime sounded again, she said in an annoyed voice, "Come!"
With that, the doors parted to allow the future Chris to enter. She normally would have smiled at Chris when he entered a room she was in, but this was not her Chris it was another Chris, from a future that she hoped would not happen.
He walked up to her and handed her a data padd. "It's been seven years since I've used one of these," Chris commented.
Sarah laughed, despite herself. She took the padd and began reading over it. A moment later, she noticed Chris was still standing in front of her. She looked up and asked, "Was there something else?"
Chris then sat down, and stared at the ground. She could tell something was bothering him "What's wrong?" she asked. She wasn't ready to act like he was her Chris, but she couldn't help but be considerate
He stared into her eyes for a moment, then said, "When I found out you were dead I had accepted your death. What I couldn't accept was that I never had the chance to say I'm sorry."
Sarah frowned and asked, "For what?"
Chris had a saddened face as he stared at her. "For never loving you the way I thought I did."
Sarah had no idea what he meant, and she let it show.
Chris sighed and looked back to the ground. "During the war, I paid more attention to the war and this ship " He looked at her again. "Then I did you "
Realization came over Sarah when he said that. It was true that he didn't couldn't pay as much attention to her as possible but then, she couldn't pay much attention to him.
She put a hand on his shoulder and said in a soothing voice, "Hey I was am the same. We can't help that. This war has kept both of us more occupied than we thought possible even during the Dominion war. This war has been far bloodier than the Dominion war."
"But a war should never get between two people!" Chris said, pain in his voice.
"It never did!" Sarah replied quietly, yet firmly. "I love you today as much as I did that day on Karandis 7! And I will love you always " She paused, emotions of caring and love welling up inside her. "Nothing can change that."
Chris smiled, his face showing relief. He put his hand on her shoulder as well, and said, "Tell that to your Chris when he gets back He'll need to hear those words."
He gave one last smile to her, then stood and left, Sarah staring at him as he went.
She dwelled on his words, knowing that they were probably true. She nodded to herself, promising herself that she would do just that.
Knowing there was only a few hours left before history caught up to the Dragon, she cleared her mind and began reading the information.
"All stations report in," Sarah ordered as she sat in the command chair.
"Tactical standing by," Ada reported.
"Sickbay standing by," Commander Kara Trieal stated as she headed for the turbolift.
"Engineering reports ready," Perkins added. "As is ops."
"Science ready," Tom also said. "Though I don't think you'll need me much."
Sarah smiled, as the rest of the bridge crew reported ready. Finally, Sarah said, "Red alert."
The klaxon sounded through the bridge as the lights dimmed and took on a red hue. The bridge found a tense silence, broken only by the klaxon. People were on edge, knowing that their fate will be decided today.
"I'm reading an odd warp signature approaching fast!" Perkins suddenly spoke, breaking the silence.
"Go to half impulse power," Sarah ordered. "All hands, prepare to engage the enemy."
On the view screen, Sarah could see the Dragon begin to break orbit. Their movement was interrupted, however, when a ship suddenly appeared directly in the Dragon's flight path.
"Full impulse, evasive maneuvers!" Sarah shouted. "Lock phasers and fire!"
The Dragon veered away from the monolith, firing as she went. In return, the Dragon's shields were equally pounded by energy weapons. The ship lurched slightly to port as the Dragon flew past the monolith, which took longer than normal due to the monolith's size.
"Aft torpedoes, full spread!" Sarah ordered. "Heading 217, mark 12."
The View screen, which was following the monolith, showed Photon torpedoes, followed by Quantum torpedoes, streak away and hit the monolith's shields. As the Dragon changed course to match Sarah's desired heading, the monolith fired its own torpedoes.
Only one torpedo, the last, struck home, causing the ship to lurch yet again. "Shields at eighty one percent!" Ada reported.
"Charge up the phaser cannon," Sarah ordered. "Prepare to come about, James."
"This should really weaken their shields," Chris commented.
"I hope so," Sarah replied. "Continue full weapons spread."
Phaser fire sprang from the Dragon again, causing the monolith's shields to flare to life again. For a couple of minutes, the ships exchanged weapons fire. Finally, Ada reported, "Cannon at full charge."
"Then let's use it," Sarah replied. "Come about. Fire when ready."
The Dragon stopped its wild set of maneuvers as it turned 180 degrees. As soon as the front of the ship was directly facing the monolith, a huge crimson beam sprang to life. The monolith's shields flared a bright green, but that green was slowly becoming white.
"Disengaging," Ada reported. When the shields were a bright white, no doubt just before they dropped, the beam faded. No sooner did that happen did the monolith fire several torpedoes, more than the Dragon was capable of firing.
"Evasive " Sarah was cut off by the weapons impact, the ship lurching heavily. Sarah was thrown to the ground as lights and panels exploded around her. Emergency generators came to life as the view screen became muffled with static.
Sarah attempted to stand, but was knocked to the ground again as more weapons fire impacted on the Dragon's shields if there were shields left to take the impact.
"Report," she managed to say as she finally got her footing.
"Shields at twenty percent," Ada said in a coarse voice.
"Continue full weapons spread," Sarah ordered, staring at the view screen.
Several torpedoes again struck the monolith, but only two impacted on shields. The rest went through nothing until they hit the monolith's hull.
Before the Dragon could continue, a bright, thin beam lanced out from the monolith, striking the Dragon somewhere behind the view screen's view.
Sarah was again thrown to the ground. Above all the noise from the shuddering of the ship, she heard Ada say, "Shields are down! Our port nacelle has been hit!"
"They're hailing us," Perkins reported.
Sarah stood again, this time not having to worry about being knocked down again yet. "On screen," she ordered.
She wiped blood from her brow as the view screen changed to the view of an equally damaged Vorkalai bridge.
Sarah had been prepared to simply talk to another Vorkalai officer, whom she had never heard of or met. So she was caught off guard when she noticed that the person she was looking at was someone the Dragon had dealt with before.
"I am Per'tar," the Vorkalai announced. "Surely you remember me."
"Yes," Sarah said quietly. "I remember you well. But we took you as a P.O.W." When the Dragon had first encountered the Onkrine nebula, three Vorkalai ships had been in the nebula, ready to detonate the volatile gasses and destroy everything in a forty-parsec radius. Per'tar had been the commanding officer of that group, and he had a personal problem with Chris.
"I am willing to negotiate your survival," Per'tar stated. "As you know me, perhaps you be able to guess at what it is I wish for you to hand over."
"Chris?" she asked, knowing the answer. "Err I mean, Captain Harriman?" she amended.
"Yes," Per'tar replied. "Your righteous Captain Chris Harriman."
"I'm afraid the Captain is away," Sarah replied, referring to this time's Chris.
Per'tar gave an angry stare and replied, "You lie! We can see is bio signature on you sensors!"
Sarah almost dropped her jaw when he said that. "You know his bio signature?!"
Per'tar smiled evilly. "We know more about you than you think."
Sarah stood there for a moment, wide eyed. Per'tar must have escaped and must have taken some information with him. "Give us a minute to discuss it," Sarah requested.
Per'tar smiled and said, "But of course. You have five minutes before we blow you from the stars."
Sarah gave the signal to end the comm channel, of which was executed immediately. "So what do we do?" Perkins asked, facing Sarah.
Sarah looked to Chris, knowing that, like always, he would have an answer. He was staring at the ground, a solemn look on his face.
He looked at Sarah and replied, "I have to go."
Sarah dropped her jaw, not caring this time. "What?!" she asked, disbelieving. "You can't! There's got to be another way!"
Chris shook his head and replied, "No, there isn't." He pointed to his Hintaru communicator and explained, "Since the first invasion failed, and many people were captured, each officer was given a communicator that when pressed three times in succession, would cause a huge antimatter explosion. I'll beam aboard, and destroy them from the inside out."
"But Chris " Sarah began, already knowing she was defeated.
Chris put his hands on her shoulders, staring into her eyes. "It's the only way. The Dragon wouldn't last in another fight with this thing." They both were silent for a moment, the realization of this fact hurting Sarah far more than she would have expected. She had grown attached to this future Chris
"All I ask is that you do two things," Chris said softly. "First help get this ship home. Second tell Chris what he needs to hear."
He smiled at her, gave a reassuring squeeze to her shoulder, and stared into her eyes again. "I will," she finally said.
Chris smiled, then broke away and headed for the turbolift.
Sarah fought tears, clenching her fists. Finally, she gave into resolve, and sat in the command chair. "Open a channel," she ordered.
Per'tar appeared on the view screen again. "I trust you have made a rational decision," Per'tar asked, smiling.
"Chris Harriman will beam to your position momentarily," Sarah said solemnly. "Stand by to accept him."
Per'tar nodded, then closed the channel. Sarah opened a channel to engineering and asked, "Status of warp power?"
"I've got warp power back online, but warp 2 is the best we can do for about one minute," Kalia replied.
"Good enough," Sarah replied. "Helm, lay in a course for the defense base."
"Course laid in," James replied.
"Engage the moment Chris beams over," Sarah added.
"Transporter room 1 to bridge," the transporter chief called. "I'm ready to transport Captain Harriman."
Sarah paused, staring at the enemy ship. "Energize," she ordered. She closed the channel, and whispered, "Go to hell, Per'tar."
"Transport complete," Perkins reported.
The Dragon suddenly veered off and leapt to warp. As it did, a huge antimatter explosion engulfed the Vorkalai ship. Everyone, stricken with sadness, watched silently. When there was nothing left to watch, the Dragon abruptly came out of warp.
"Inform the defense base to prepare a repair bay for us again," Sarah ordered as she stood. "Tom you have the bridge."
Sarah strode across the bridge and entered the Captain's ready room Chris' ready room
She sat in his couch, staring at the picture of the Dragon hanging on his wall. For a moment, she could think of nothing but the future Chris' request.
"I will," she whispered. Finally, she allowed the hidden tears to burst forth, and she wept.
"Come in," Falarr said in reply to the chime to her office.
Chek entered her office, and seemed a bit stricken when he saw Chris there. He frowned, pausing at the door.
"Do come in, Chek," Falarr said.
Chek hesitated a moment longer, then entered, the doors closing behind him. "You wanted to see me, Falarr?"
Falarr smiled and replied, "Yes, I did. I wanted to discuss ship movements through out this sector."
Chek slumped his shoulders slightly, as if relieved that it was not what he thought it was. Chris barely concealed a smile.
As Chek sat down, Falarr added, "And a certain rebel group forming in our midst."
Chek's jaw dropped, as did he when he missed the chair in his surprise. He hit the ground with a hard thump, but he was quick, though clumsy, when he stood.
"Jahkarr!" Chek said, staring evilly at Chris.
"Though I'm a couple days early, I've made my decision," Chris replied calmly. "I think Falarr is the right person to lead us."
Chek narrowed his eyes at Chris, but Falarr beckoned his attention with a sharp remark. Chek then looked at Falarr, then spit in disgust on her desk. "You've destroyed us enough," Chek said harshly. "We won't let this happen any more!"
"You don't have a choice of what I do," Falarr replied calmly. "Nor will you have a choice when you answer my questions."
"You can't force me to do anything!" Chek shouted.
Falarr tapped something on her desk, and the two guards outside her front door emerged. As they approached Chek, he laughed. "You think these two guards are going to help you?" he asked.
"That's the good part about having guards with helmets on," Falarr stated. "You can't tell who they are."
The two guards grabbed Chek, who's jaw dropped again. "What are you doing? Let go of me! You are loyal to me!!"
"I gave your friends a permanent vacation," Falarr commented. "You will join them."
Chek began going mad as he attempted to break free. As the guards began dragging him away, he shouted, "You'll pay for this, Jahkarr! You'll pay!"
Chek's shouts were drowned out as the guards finally managed to drag him from the office. Chris relaxed a little, knowing that Chek might be right
Falarr then looked to Chris, and smiled. "Thank you, Jahkarr. We'll be able to stop this rebellion now with the information we'll pry from his mind."
Chris smiled and replied, "My pleasure."
Falarr considered the situation a moment, then said, "As you are apparently loyal to me you may have Chek's old position."
This time, it was Chris' turn to drop his jaw. "Jahkarr you are now my Second."
Chris felt a huge smile engulf his face. Jahkarr no doubt interpreted it as a smile in reaction to being at her side but the smile was because Chris was in a far better position to gather information. He would now be able to leave here sooner than he thought.
"Thank you," Chris said.
"Go get your new uniform and rank," Falarr said. "I'll see you tomorrow."
Chris nodded, then left the office. As he walked through the halls, he thought, "Don't worry, Sarah I'll be back soon."
Star Trek Dragon graphics and written
material copyright Jon Wasik. Star Trek is a registered