"Are there any residual effects?" he asked.

Ada shook her head and replied, "None. Though it was pretty disturbing…the thoughts I had going through my mind. All I wanted was to kill anyone…" She paused a moment, staring blankly at the console. "It was like watching someone else take control of my body."

She started working again, probably trying to force the memories from her mind. Tom didn’t blame her. Though her experience was definitely shorter than that of Vendar Perkins’ experience, it still had to be very unnerving.

"I don’t mean to sound harsh, Tom," she began. "But I have work to do."

"Of course," Tom replied, mentally lecturing himself. "But remember…I’ll be here for you."

Ada paused again, but immediately went back to work. Tom lingered for a moment longer, then headed back for the first officer’s chair.

He hoped this didn’t effect their relationship. He hoped they could continue to be a couple…



As Chris passed by Falarr’s office, he elected to stop by, if only to give him more time. He stood by her door and pressed the chime.

"Come in," Falarr ordered.

The doors parted and allowed Chris to enter the familiar office. She looked up from a data padd and smiled at him. "Reconsider my offer?" she asked.

"Actually," Chris began. "I came to give you my final crew roster."

He approached her desk and put a data padd on it. The entire time he had been copying the information and hiding any evidence of his entry, he had also finished the crew roster. Of course, that had been part of what he had copied in the end.

The crew roster would be perfect. Each person would perform in their best area of expertise. Of course, that area would soon become compromised when Chris made it back to the Defense Perimeter’s base.

Falarr began reviewing the beginning of the report, then smiled. "You did a good job, Jahkarr," she commented, setting the padd down. "But you are sure that you won’t reconsider my offer?"

"Right now, all I care about is the good of our organization," Chris replied. "I’ll personally indulge myself once things settle back down."

Falarr stood and circled the desk. She never stopped approaching Chris, forcing him to slowly back away as her body nearly touched his. "I look forward to that time," she whispered in his face.

It didn’t take long for Chris to bump into a wall, and Falarr’s body to touch his. A burning sensation, one that felt good rather than painful, shot through his body. His heart began to race again as her pheromones ignited his hormones in a cascading frenzy.

She lightly pressed her lips to his, causing Chris’ senses to heighten so as to feel every sensation of the kiss. In that same moment, she suddenly pulled away and left the office, leaving Chris alone.

He stood, pressed against the wall, for a long minute. He forced himself to take control again, to not let himself be lost.

He forced himself to push off the wall and leave the dark office, of which he just noticed was dark. He began walking towards the landing bay of the base.

There was a sort of excitement about the experience, and he began analyzing it. The tantalizing thought of the moment was that it was not part of his usual being. It detracted from something that was otherwise stable, and that always caused a feeling of excitement in a person, no matter how insignificant it might seem.

His hormones going on a rampage through his body also didn’t help the situation. He had no control of those, and could only circumvent the resulting emotions. It was, with out doubt, difficult, but he had to do it. He had to do it for Sarah…

Suddenly, he noticed he was already entering the landing bay. His mind had concentrated so much on the event that he didn’t even remember the short walk.

He entered the bay and, due to his rank, caused everyone to suddenly stand at attention. He headed for the duty officer and ordered, "Get a Gulkarn transport ready."

The officer simply nodded and moved to give orders. A Gulkarn transport was meant only for speed. The latest model of the Gulkarn was equipped with a newer warp drive, and the small craft could easily achieve warp 13.

Chris knew that, once Falarr found out what he’d done, speed was all that he would need…



"The Vorkalai are retreating," L’Kal stated.

"Keep on them until they are all out of range," Piarn said, sighing with relief. It had been a rather difficult battle. Several sections of the Perimeter had been destroyed, and a few Vorkalai ships had managed to penetrate the Perimeter.

If it hadn’t been for the ships waiting on the other side, it could have done some real damage further behind the lines…

"Sir, they’ve stopped." L’Kal stated.

What?" Piarn asked, frowning.

"They’ve stopped just outside of our weapon’s range," L’Kal continued. "And they just appear to be…waiting…"

"Waiting…for us to make the next move…" Piarn said dryly. "In the mean time, you can bet that they are planning for any possible contingency."

"So we must then do the unexpected…" L’Kal commented. "What ever that might be."

Piarn stared at the readout of the waiting ships, knowing that there was only one course of action left...



Chris sat in the cockpit of the small, sleek craft. Everything had been powered up and the preflight had already been finished.

"Everything all right with you, sir?" the officer asked.

"Yes, thank you," Chris said.

"What shall I put in my report about your departure?" he asked.

Chris smiled, knowing his reply already. "Just put that I am on a personal errand. Just a few…‘loose ends’ to tie up."

"Aye, sir," he said. "Have a good journey, and see you soon."

The officer stepped out of the cockpit and closed the hatch behind Chris. "Don’t bet on it," Chris replied, smiling.

The landing bay doors slowly slid apart, revealing the odd greenish nebula the pirate stronghold resided in. He eased the transport off of the ground and slowly moved out of the bay. As soon as he cleared the bay, he brought impulse up to full.

Not more than a minute later, the nebula dissipated and revealed the open space. Chris set a direct course for the last known coordinates of the Defense Perimeter and went to maximum warp.

I’m coming home, Sarah…



"Separation complete," R’Sharn confirmed.

"Move us eight kilometers forward, then come to a full stop," Sarah ordered.

"Aye, Commander," James replied, working the helm with ease.

"Transmit the order to the stardrive section to shut off life support," Sarah ordered.

"Transmitting…" R’Sharn replied. She worked her console as easily as James did the helm…only to meet a negative sound. "We aren’t transmitting!" she exclaimed, surprised. "External communications are off-line!"

Sarah opened a channel to engineering. "Bridge to engineering, what’s going on with communications?"

"I thought we would have another hour, but during our last battle, the saucer section’s communications array was damaged," Kalia replied. "And in order for external communications to work, we have to completely replace the array."

Sarah closed her eyes hard and clenched her fists in frustration. "Great…"

"What do we do now?" Tom asked.

Sarah forced herself to calm down, then went through security protocols in her mind. "Life support can only be fully shut down through a command console," Sarah said. "So we’d have to get there by shuttle, and head for engineering, as it has the closest command console to the shuttle bay."

"Alpha engineering’s console is destroyed," Kalia said over the open comm system. "I didn’t want those beasts to take control of the ship through engineering."

"So we’ll have to make our way to Beta engineering," Sarah said slowly, regretting each word.

"That place will be filled with those creatures…" Tom commented.

"Ada, please accompany me to shuttle bay 1," Sarah said, standing from the command chair abruptly. "Tom, you have the bridge."

As Sarah and Ada made their way towards the turbolift, James stopped them. "Begging the Commander’s pardon, but a good pilot at the helm of the shuttle craft might be useful," he said.

Sarah turned to face him and frowned, asking, "How so?"

He shrugged and gave a sheepish look. "You never know. Might have to make a quick getaway if they are still intelligent enough to use the tactical console on the Battle Bridge."

Sarah paused a minute, then nodded. "All right, you’re on the team."

The three officers then entered the waiting turbolift and headed for deck three to acquire weaponry.



James’ hands trembled as he moved across the Meridian’s helm. This would be his real first ‘away’ mission.

He laughed in his mind and thought, funny how my first away mission is simply taking me to another part of the ship I’m stationed on.

However, it would still be a very dangerous mission. Several creatures would be infesting the engineering, and the trip to engineering would be no picnic either.

"All right, let’s get this show on the road," Sarah said, dropping into the copilot’s seat of the runabout.

James frowned and asked, "Ma’am?"

Sarah smiled and replied, "It’s an old saying. As in, let’s get started."

"Oh," was all James could say, having never heard the saying before. "Preflight completed. Lifting off now."

The Meridian eased off the deck and left the shuttle bay behind within seconds. The only course correction James had to make was to angle the Meridian down a bit so as to fly over the Battle Bridge of the stardrive section.

The stardrive section looked like a ghost ship. All lights were out, the warp nacelles and bussard collectors were black, as was the deflector dish. It just ‘hung’ there…dead in space…

As the Meridian passed over the ship, he also noticed the single impulse engine, which was the one that was normally active, was now also dead.

They passed between the swept-back nacelles and came about to face the shuttle bay.

"Shuttle bay doors not responding," Ada said from somewhere in the back.

"Try accessing the power distribution network of the shuttle bay, and switch to backup," Sarah ordered.

The shuttle bay doors were normally powered by ship's power, but obviously, that power was being used elsewhere. However, the shuttle bay doors had an emergency power generator meant for emergency opening and closing.

Finally, the doors began to part open to reveal a red-hued shuttle bay. The only light came from the emergency lighting on the bulkheads, which happened to be red now due to the ship being on red alert. It gave James the creeps.

He eased the Meridian into the bay, but didn’t have much room. The entire bay still contained every Bladerunner fighter produced, and so only the very back of the bay was clear for emergency landings.

James made sure there was pressure in the bay, then opened the side hatch as the final shutdown procedure finished.

He grabbed his pulse rifle and followed the two ladies out. Just my luck, he thought. Alone with two women…and it has to be under these conditions.

"We should proceed through the Jeffrey tubes," Ada said. "Those creatures are way to big to fit in them."

"Agreed," Sarah said, heading towards the nearest hatch. The three officers approached the hatch and opened it. James pointed his light into total pitch black.

"Where’s the emergency lighting?!" James whispered loudly, not daring to alarm any nearby creatures…if there were any.

"Power relay probably was damaged somewhere," Sarah whispered back. "Let’s go."

Sarah eased into the Jeffrey tube, using the flashlight on her rifle as a guide. Ada motioned for James to go next, but he hesitated.

"I don’t like this," he said, finally moving to enter. "Not one bit."

"Quit whining," Ada replied, pushing him in. He heard her enter behind, then close the hatch.

When the hatch closed…he felt like he was closed off from the rest of the world.



"Report on their progress," Tom ordered.

"They’re almost to engineering," R’Sharn replied. "About another minute before they reach the emergency hatch."

Tom’s heart still raced as he anxiously stared at the view screen. Though all he could see was the stardrive section, it somehow eased his anxiety.

"Come on, Sarah…" he said quietly. "We can’t keep transporter sensors active forever…"



"This is it," Sarah whispered, coming up to a hatch above their heads. Each major area of a ship, such as engineering and the bridge, had an emergency access hatch to the Jeffrey tubes below. "Ready pulse rifles."

She slowly twisted the latch and lifted the hatch. To James’ relief, engineering still had full power, and was well lit. He shut off his rifle’s light and followed Sarah up. Then…he saw them.

All up and down the warp core, which was thrumming at an incredible speed, were the creatures. Their tentacles were fixated on the core, and occasionally, blue lightning would play across them.

Sarah didn’t even pause, and quietly walked to the command console. "Cover me," she whispered.

She began working the console quickly, moving through subroutines quickly. Unfortunately, the noise from the console attracted the attention of the creatures. They began emitting low shrieks as they moved towards the three people.

"I think they know we’re here," James said.

"You think so?" Ada asked sarcastically. "I couldn’t tell."

Ignoring her remark, he said, "Come on, Commander, they’re getting closer."

"I’m working as fast as I can, Lieutenant!" She stated, not caring about keeping her voice low any more.

Suddenly, the creatures rushed towards them. Ada and James started firing at anything that got close…which was a lot of tentacle more than anything else.

The creatures began screaming in pain, the blasts only lightly stunning them.

Suddenly, James began to feel lightheaded. He felt short of breath, and his vision began to blur. He stumbled backwards, only to be caught by Sarah.

She set him on the ground as things began to spin. His vision became so blurry that he could only barely decipher Sarah’s face. To his surprise, and horror, she suddenly flew away violently.

A moment later, he was engulfed with a white light…and then darkness.



"Do we have them?!" Tom asked, rushing to the ops station.

"We have them," R’Sharn replied. Tom let out a huge sigh of relief, but when he saw R’Sharn’s stricken face, he stopped short of ops.

"However…Commander Caft was severely injured," she said quietly.

Everything stopped… At first, Tom thought it was his state of mind. He thought he had been put into such a shock at the news that his mind literally slowed his perception down. Then he realized everyone on the bridge had really stopped.

"Is she alive?" Tom managed.

"Barely," was all R’Sharn could manage.

Tom’s mouth hung open as he read the report on her console for himself. Indeed, she was almost mortally wounded.



To Chris’ relief, he finally came upon the Defense Perimeter. "Damn, you guys moved forward a lot," he said. On sensors, the pirate ships that had been following him turned tail end and quickly left his sensors.

The streaking stars turned into a placid starfield to reveal a beautiful Defense Perimeter. Damaged, yes, but beautiful none the less.

Several Hintaru and Britar ships were stationed behind the perimeter. However, the number of ships alarmed Chris. There were barely any…

Furthermore, several Vorkalai ships were stationed just outside of the Perimeter’s firing range…waiting like a patient predator.

Chris opened a channel to the Perimeter’s Command Center. Immediately, Piarn’s face appeared.

"Captain Harriman!" he exclaimed, surprised. "I didn’t expect you back for quite a while longer."

"But I come bearing very useful information," Chris replied.

"That’s good, but the information will have to be stored away for now," Piarn said, looking a bit solemn. "Right now, the Vorkalai are allowing us to make a move. And we are going to take advantage of it."

"Understood," Chris said. "If you don’t mind, I’d like to return to the Dragon immediately."

"Of course," Piarn replied. "It just went through a rather…intriguing experience, so I’m sure you and your crew has much to talk about." Piarn looked off screen for a moment, then said, "Head for repair bay 325."

"Right, Harriman out." Intrigued by the Admiral’s words, he punched the transport up to full impulse and headed for the desired bay.



Captain’s log, supplemental.

It’s most definitely good to be back home. I may not have been gone for too long, but it was long enough to me. I never realized how attached I’ve become to this ship and its crew in just a year.

The crew has told me the entire story of the events since I’ve been gone, and the affected crewmembers have recovered…physically. It turns out that when my future self had transported over to the Vorkalai ship, they had somehow managed to squeeze a single cell of this virus through the pattern buffers, and it spread from there. Why Perkins was effected first is beyond any of the crew.

Sarah remains in critical condition. Kara can’t determine why she’s not recovering, but is barely keeping her alive…

I just got back from a very important meeting with High Admiral Piarn, and I definitely have some news for the crew…



"Quiet down everyone," Chris ordered, standing from the chair at the end of the briefing table. Everyone promptly stopped talking and gave their full attention to Chris.

He paused for a moment, not sure how to begin. The news he was about to tell them would literally change their current outlook on the war. And it would…hopefully…lighten their spirits and strengthen their determination.

"This war is about to encounter a deciding battle," Chris began. "One which will decide the outcome of this war. We either win the battle and win the war…or lose the battle and lose the war. Either way, the moment the battle ends…so does the war."

The crew immediately realized what he was saying, and let their surprise show.

"The entire fleet will engage in a ‘piercing’ movement, as Admiral Piarn is calling it," he continued. "The fleet will form a strong, but narrow front that will hopefully punch through the Vorkalai defenses…and attack the Vorkalai home world."

The crew was even more surprised, but no doubt knew, just as Chris had, that it would have to be their target to win the war. Indeed, the moment the Vorkalai home world fell, the war would end.

"The home world is the only planet the Vorkalai have left, to our knowledge, that is still producing resources. Therefore, taking it or…more to the point, destroying it, will cripple them.

"However, we aren’t going to fully participate in this battle," Chris said. The officers frowned in disagreement and wonder. "To do so would be a sin upon our uniforms. We can not murder people on such a mass scale. We will provide protection for the fleet and destroy anything that attacks it, but we won’t actually help destroy the planet."

"Begging your pardon, sir, but I disagree," Ada stated coldly. "Our ship might be what decides the outcome of that battle!"

"I understand that, and that’s why we are providing defense for the fleet," Chris replied. "There are over thirty billion people on that planet, half of which are just civilians."

"But those ‘civilians’ are helping the war effort…for the Vorkalai!" Ada bit back.

"Lieutenant, I know you disagree," Chris said. "But I will not allow us to draw away from our morals, our very fiber of being. When you wear that uniform, that delta, you are representing the whole of the Federation. Murdering people on a mass scale is not what Starfleet officers do."

Ada was about to protest even further, but finally backed down. "I know you all might disagree with this, but I think that if we only provide defense, the court martial on us when we get home won’t be as severe."

That squashed any objections.

"You’ll have the data on the mission waiting in your quarters," Chris said. "We have three weeks to prepare for the mission, so Kalia…I’m counting on you and your team to get this ship operational again."

"Aye, sir," she replied.


Everyone filed out of the briefing lounge, leaving Chris with his thoughts. He stood at one of the windows, dismayed to find only a repair bay, and no starfield. Right next to the Dragon was one of the larger Britar cruisers, which had been heavily damaged.

"Hold on, Sarah," he said quietly. "Hold on…"

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