As she stood up from the bio bed, Kara added, "Once we reach home, I should be able to find a solution that won’t require the use of nanites."

"Again, thank you," Vendar said as she headed for the door. "See you later."

Before Kara could get a word out, Vendar was already out the door. "Something tells me she’s still a little over-active," she commented to herself. "Oh well, it shouldn’t hamper her duty."



"Sir, may I present...the new bridge," Commander Kalia Tarkent stated with a gleam in her eye. The turbolift doors slid open to reveal, indeed, a brand new bridge.

Chris felt a smile cross his face as he stepped out onto the deck and started taking it all in. Before, the bridge had begun to take on scorch marks that no one had ever found time to repair. The carpet was brand new, and instead of having the common command maroon colored carpeting, it had a blue carpeting, which contributed to the ‘dark’ nature of the bridge.

Much like an Intrepid class starship’s bridge, the lighting and over all mood of the bridge was not very bright. Bulkheads weren’t the light color that was found throughout the Dragon and most ships that were dated in the Galaxy class era or earlier. Instead, they were the dark grayish color that was actually found throughout most of the ships today.

This could induce two moods, depending on the situation. During normal running at condition green, the lighting was enough for people to know nothing was wrong, and gave the bridge an almost peaceful feeling to itself. In condition red, or any other condition for that matter, the lights dimmed, somehow giving the bridge a feeling of urgency. Somehow, Chris knew the same modification had been made to the lighting system.

The basic command structure of the bridge remained. The Command Chair was in the exact center with two chairs on either side and a railing creating a rather wide half-oval around the center area. However, instead of the light colored wood found on Galaxy class starships and the kind the Dragon’s old bridge had, this wood was dark, contributing to the dark mood of the bridge.

Built into the railing behind the command area was the tactical console and the medical console, which were embedded into the center part of the ‘railing.’ Behind the railing was the aft wall, of which both main turbolifts resided, and was where Chris was now standing and staring. Also, as was standard on most bridges, was a primary computer access panel. On either side of the console were two consoles that sort of ‘stuck out’ of the wall, which faced each other and were surrounded on three sides.

In front of the command area, facing the view screen, was the helm and the Ops station. Like before, rudimentarily, they each formed a half square, but were more circular this time. On the right side of the viewscreen was the emergency turbolift, while on the left side was a console that ran ‘along’ the wall and, because of the wall having the only curve on the bridge, faced the screen.

To the left of the command area was the entrance to the Captain’s Ready Room and two auxiliary consoles facing each other. On the right was the same layout, only the entrance led to the Briefing Room.

Chris started to head towards his ready room, but Kalia put a hand on his shoulder. He looked at her to find a huge grin on her face. "We’ll save the best for last. For now, let’s check the briefing room."

Chris frowned questioningly, but obliged and followed her to the right of the command area. They entered the briefing room, and Chris found it rather extraordinary compared to others. All along the far wall were large windows, with few breaks in it for structural integrity. The briefing table was thicker and longer, meant to both accommodate more seats as well as personal access panels that lifted up to an angle when in use. On either side of the long ends of the room were two large display consoles. Like the bridge, the room had a dark mood to it.

Chris pointed to the windows and asked, "Won’t that lessen structural integrity of the room?"

Kalia shook her head no and replied, "No, we used a transparent material that the third species that entered the new UFP had. It is just as strong as the hull."

"Amazing!" Chris said breathlessly as he stared at the window in awe.

"You haven’t seen anything, sir," she said, a huge grin once again overtaking her face. "Wait until you see your ready room."

Baffled, and with a questioning frown on his face, Chris followed her out of the briefing room and across the bridge. She stopped and motioned him through.

At first, Chris hesitated, knowing the surprise would be amazing. He’d never known Kalia to over-exaggerate. In fact, most times, she didn’t exaggerate enough! Finally, he moved forward, forcing the door to open before him...and finding himself looking at the hull of his ship!

He realized that the reason he saw the hull ahead of him wasn’t because of a huge window by his desk...but instead found that, except for the wall that shared a wall with the bridge, the entire Ready Room was nothing but the transparent metal!

"Wow..." he somehow managed to say as he moved to the center of the room and looked all around at the repair bay. "And this is as safe as normal hull material?!"

"Yep," Kalia replied. "I figured you might want to have a great view while mulling through endless reports."

Smiling, Chris commented, "I’ll be the envy of every captain when we get back..."

"No arguments from me, sir."

Chris turned to look at Kalia and shook his head. "Kalia, we aren’t on the bridge."

Kalia shrugged and replied, "I’m an engineer, we always refer to CO’s as ‘sir,’ no matter how well we get to know them."

Chris smiled even deeper and shook his head. "Well, thank you, my friend."

Kalia gave a simple nod, smiled a little, and replied, "My pleasure...sir."



"High-Admiral Piarn is hailing us," Vendar stated from her station at Ops.

"On screen," Chris immediately replied.

Sarah smiled as the purple-skinned Hintaru appeared on the screen. She definitely didn’t know him as well as Chris did, but she had become friends with him.

"Leaving without telling me goodbye?" Piarn asked, grinning.

"You know me, I hate tearful good-byes," Chris replied half-heartedly. He shrugged one shoulder carelessly and finished, "Besides, you’ve probably been busy setting up the new UFP."

"Not busy enough to not say goodbye to a fine Captain and a good friend," Piarn replied. "What are your initial plans?"

Chris seemed to ‘access’ his own memories for a moment, then replied, "First, we’re going to check up on the changelings we left in system R-two-one. Then we’ll head out into the unexplored, where our Bajoran friends think some Bajoran survivors live."

"Ah yes, ‘tying up a few loose ends’ I believe you call this?" Piarn asked.

"You catch on quick," Chris replied lightly. "Anyway, we’re almost prepped for launch." He seemed to hesitate for a moment, and Sarah knew it was harder for him to say goodbye than he let on. "Goodbye, my friend..."

"Nice knowing you, Captain." Piarn hesitated one last moment, then closed the channel. Sarah felt a lump grow in her throat, a feeling of almost loss engulfing her. Indeed, they might never see Piarn again after today.

"He was a good friend...and a great Admiral," she commented.

"But it’s time to move on," Chris suddenly stated. "Are we clear for departure?"

"Yes, sir," Vendar replied. "Docking master says we are clear to launch at will."

Chris opened a channel to engineering and stated, "Kalia, are the warp cores working?"

"Of course, I’ve been working on them for six months!" she replied. "Why wouldn’t they be?"

Chris brought on a full smile and said, "I know you like to tinker with things. Are all systems set?"

"Aye, sir, all is set to go. Just give the word to helm, and we’re off."

"Of course, bridge out." He closed the channel, then looked to Sarah. She looked back at him, love filling her heart as it did every time she looked into his intelligent face. "Ready for a new adventure?" he asked.

Exhilaration somehow came from the feeling of love, and Sarah smiled. "Always."

"Then let’s get this show on the road." He smiled reassuringly at her, then looked at the main viewscreen.

"Helm, thrusters at station keeping..."

"Thrusters at station keeping, aye."

"Release umbilical and clear all moorings."

"Umbilical clear," Vendar reported. "As are all moorings," she added a minute later.

"James," Chris started. He hesitated for a moment, giving Sarah a moment to think about what this new adventure would bring. Would it bring new hope? Or new disaster... "Take us out..."

"Bay doors are open," Vendar reported.

"Aft thrusters active," James added. "Leaving repair bay in thirty seconds."

Excitement and dread crept up into Sarah’s stomach and throat as she stared at the open star field. There was plenty of new hope out in that vast ocean of stars...splendors even the rich from the age of money would have wanted. But behind each and every one no doubt awaited absolute horror.

Sarah then remembered a saying Captain Picard had once told her and Chris. No matter how bleak a situation may seem, no matter how futile the struggle might look, things always somehow work out. She took comfort in those words, and knew that, someday, they would make it home again.


And then they were out, with nothing ahead of them to stop them, and nothing to pull them back. They were free again, free to search for to start a new beginning...



"Free," Sarah repeated quietly. "I had so much hope for the future that day. Each and every day, my feelings towards Chris grew stronger, something I didn’t know was possible. We each shared our hopes and dreams, reinforcing each other’s determination to get the crew home safely."

"And then those hopes and dreams were smashed," Kristine finished for her.

"More like atomized," Sarah said, venom creeping into her voice. "Destroyed by some species who found insult in one simple fact!"

"Only this time," Jean-Luc said. "Your dreams and hopes won’t be smashed. Not if we have a say in it."

"No argument from me," Sarah said quietly.

"What happened after you checked up on the changelings?" Kristine asked, encouraging Sarah to continue.

"We had set course coreward," Sarah replied after searching her memory a moment. "The locations the Bajoran’s thought survivors remained were in that direction."



"Captain, sensors are picking up an unidentified ship twenty light years form our location," Vendar stated.

Chris shook himself from his thoughts and brought himself, mentally, back to the bridge. "Hail the vessel."

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