"We don’t have a choice," he said quietly.

She nodded slowly, her eyes turning red. "I know…" A thought occurred to her and she asked, "But couldn’t I at least go with you? I don’t want to lose you!"

He put his hands around her arms and sadly looked into her eyes. His heart felt ready to burst. "Sarah…this ship needs a commanding officer, one who has had the experience you have had."

She shook her head quickly, her hair flying around her face. "No! I don’t want to lose you!"

Already accepting what he would have to do, he embraced Sarah in a loving hug and began rocking back and forth. Her cries were muffled just enough…

"Send to the commander of the Rukarian vessel," he said slowly, thankful that he didn’t have to shout above the noise of the ruptured conduit. "We…agree to your terms. Please give us some time so that I may prepare my crew for my departure."

He looked over to Vendar, Sarah still crying into his uniform. She just sat there, staring dumbly at him. Her face was almost expressionless, but he noticed the tear streaming down her cheek. "Commander Perkins, relay the message now."

She started to say something, but paused, then gave in. "Aye, sir…" she slowly said, turning back to her console.

He could now feel the wet uniform clamping itself to his shoulder from Sarah’s tears. He rested his chin on her shoulder, not wanting to let go.

After several minutes of barely containing his tears, the reply came back. "To Commanding Officer, please use any amount of time that you require. Even if you were to get your ship back to full capacity, you would stand no chance against us, so do not try to attack us. We await your next signal when you are ready."

Her crying down to a mere whimper, Sarah pulled away slightly and looked into Chris’s eyes, her eyes sparkling from the tears. "I wish there was some other way…"

"There is no other way," Chris said slowly, regretting every word.

He looked around at everyone slowly, each and every person looking at him. "Assemble the senior staff outside of holodeck five in six hours," Chris ordered. "Meanwhile…begin repairs."

He then turned around and put his arm around Sarah. He then slowly walked towards the turbolift, feeling everyone’s eyes bore into him. As he and Sarah entered, he heard Ada state rather coldly, "You heard him. Get to work!"

The turbolift doors closed, and finally, for the first time in the past ten minutes…he realized just what was going to happen. That was when he finally gave in…that was when he felt the tears begin to stream down his face. Once again, he embraced Sarah in a long, hard hug……



Counselor’s log,

I’m worried about the crew… For the past six hours, I’ve felt so many emotions, heard so many thoughts pass through my mind, it’s like a maelstrom of negativity. At first, no one wanted to believe that the Captain was really leaving. In all truth…I was one of those persons. I still don’t want to believe it…but I know that we must all accept it.

I think the Captain deliberately chose six hours for the staff to wait. It gave us all time to realize and at least partially accept what we are about to lose…who we are about to lose…



It was quiet…too quiet. No one talked, they just sat there at their usual table at Chez Michelle. The entire senior staff along with James, Charley, and R’Sharn were there, all just staring blankly at the tabletop.

The quietness deafening, Chris stood up and got everyone’s attention by clearing his throat.

"I want to thank you all for coming today," he said slowly. "I called you all here so that we might have one last meal together. But first, I wanted to say something."

Here goes another stupid attempt he thought dryly to himself.

"Each and everyone of you…has made a difference on this ship," he began, trying to put as much emotion into his voice without crying. "But more than that, you’ve made a difference to me. I’ve watched all of you grow into people you never knew you could be. All the while, I’ve grown as well. I’ve seen all of you fight with each other at one point or another, and I’ve seen you all work together like we were one entity.

"In all truth, we are one entity. We know each other’s thoughts, what our actions will be…we have become one family. A big one, at that."

Chris smiled as a thought occurred to him. "I still remember when we first came aboard the ship. We all thought we were big shots, that we had so much experience and that the Dragon was honored to have us command her, and not vice verse." A few of the officers, namely James, Terry, and Ada, smiled when he mentioned that. "It’s hard to believe that we’ve come so far in almost just two years…"

He looked at Tom, one of his long-lasting friends. "Tom, even you had that bit of arrogance, but you still kept it in check. You acted so proud of this ship, thinking it to be invincible. You’ve always been so reserved, your true potential never reaching the surface." He narrowed his eyes as Tom smiled. "You’ve only recently begun to unravel your potential, and your experience here on this ship might just be what you need to eventually reach that potential."

He then looked to Ada, and realized too late how fateful that was. The two who had just recently ‘broke up.’ "Ada, I still remember when we first met. You looked down upon me like I was some first year cadet…" Chris scratched his had and frowned. "Umm…which I was." She laughed, a tear slowly crawling down her cheek. "You were so concerned about the mission you were on when I took you away from it for this post. I hope you don’t regret coming here on the Dragon on my order."

Next, he looked at Kalia. "Kalia, I remember I had to shuttle you from the USS Crucible to Starbase 13…damn, we sure had a long conversation then."

She half-laughed and said, "Well, you know I don’t remember much about that. I was suffering radiation poisoning, you know."

Chris smiled and nodded. "Indeed, that made the conversation just that much more interesting." She rolled her eyes and gave him a mock smirk.

"Kara," he said, looking to her. "You’ve always been so kind to others, and not just on a professional level. You treated my plasma burns while at the same time making me feel like I wasn’t so out of place among all of those ‘intelligent’ doctors working on the Starbase."

"What would you have done without me?" she asked, trying to keep herself from crying.

"Probably suffered the plasma burns long after they had been treated," Chris stated, meaning it.

He then looked to James. "James…you’re still an arrogant little jerk," Chris stated, barely containing a laugh. "But that cadet, I forget his name right now, was right…you are the best pilot in the Federation. I believe your skills have surpassed even mine."

"I wish we could prove it," James said quietly, half-smiling. "In one last simulation."

It’d be too hard on the crew if I stayed long enough for a simulation Chris thought. "So do I, James."

He then looked to Terry. "Terry, you’ve helped me through so much of the events of the past two years, I don’t know where I’d be without you. You’ve kept me sane, and occasionally kicked me square in my complacency. I thank you for that, friend."

Terry simply nodded and smiled.

"Vendar," Chris said quietly. "I know now that asking you directly at the academy was not a mistake. You definitely didn’t earn that honor graduate posting for doing nothing. We’ve asked you to do a lot more than any Ops officer I’ve ever known has had to do. Hopefully, you’ll make it home and prove to them how capable an officer you are."

He then looked at Charley, then sarcastically rolled his eyes. "You, my friend, have been nothing but trouble since you arrived.

Charley gave a weak grin and cocked his head. "That’s what I’m here for, Cappy."

Chris gave a short laugh and shook his head. "You’ve still got a lot to learn, though, my friend. I only hope I was enough help to you during this difficult time."

When Chris looked at R’Sharn, she shook her head. "No, sir," she simply stated. "Please…just please, don’t say anything."

Not wanting to make things harder on her, Chris nodded. He looked around at each and every face again, most of them streaming almost-contained tears. He had deliberately not mentioned anything about Sarah…for they had already had a long conversation…

"I know this came upon us so suddenly," Chris began. "None of us expected that I would be leaving any time soon. Even Q might have had a hard time predicting this strange turn of events.

"But I know that each and every one of you is capable of going on without me. It won’t be easy, and there’ll be times when you face situations worse than anything you’ve ever had to face."

He finally looked to Sarah and nodded. She stood up and held her chin high, tears rolling down her cheeks.

"So it is now that I hear-by promote you, Sarah Caft," he said, pinning another pip onto her red collar. "…To the field-rank of Captain, and give you all the rights and privileges…as well as the hardships there-to."

She then just sat down, not bothering to even look at him. He knew that if she had…she would have just balled her eyes out…

Chris then looked up, as if the computer were some higher being. "Computer…transfer all commands and codes over to Captain Caft. Authorization Harriman 2 2 7 Beta."

"Transfer complete," the familiar female computer voice stated. Damn, I’m gonna miss even that voice…

He sat down then, looking at his friends…his family… He knew he was about to lose something no one else, maybe not even Captain Picard, had ever had. He was about to lose a family so close to him that he would give his life up without a second though for their lives. And…he would miss them…he would miss them very much…

Well, once again I failed to give a proper speech…but I hope they get the general emotion…



Captain’s Log, Final Entry.

It has been hard these past eight hours. Not just for me, but for my…Sarah’s crew. But we must all accept the fact…

This has come upon us all so suddenly. It seems like I’ve hardly had enough time to prepare for my departure. But already, I must now leave for the transporter room. Any longer, and it might be even harder on us all.

This crew has performed so well, with such great courage, I would never have them die just for me. I would like to go on record and state that each and every crewmember here deserves commendations. To the Admiral that hears this log entry, go easy on them…what they’ve done in the past two years was always under my orders. I deserve any punishment that should be dealt…which it seems that I’m going to finally receive…



Some people might look at Sarah oddly, even coldly, when they see that she no longer has wet eyes. There was Chris, saying his goodbye to everyone that had cramped into the transporter room. It was the last time she would ever see him. She should be weeping wildly, unable to control even her breathing!

She agreed, she should be! She had done so many a time, times not even as bad as this. Others might look at her and envy her control, while Vulcans would look at her and nod approvingly.

Not this time, though. When Chris finally reached her, she smiled at him, calmly, quietly. He embraced her and kissed her one last time, and she didn’t want to let go. She didn’t want to lose him.

And it was still possible that she could very well lose him. However…she was not giving up without a fight.

He finally pulled away, but she tried to hold him there a moment longer. Finally, their lips broke, and they stared into each other's eyes. "I love you, Sarah," he said.

Like it had each time, emotions welled up in her chest. A love she had only felt for him wanted to burst out. She wanted to grab him and never let go, to always be with him, every moment of every day.

Soon she thought. Hopefully, that is…

"I love you, too," she replied, keeping her warm smile. Chris held his gaze with her for what seemed like an eternity. They shared something not many people ever did…true love…

Finally, Chris broke the gaze and swiftly moved up onto the transporter pad. He turned around and looked at each officer. Finally, his gaze once again fell upon Sarah. He gave her a reassuring smile.

"Bridge to Transporter Room 1, we’ve translated the coordinates," someone said over the comm system.

Sarah waited for Chris to acknowledge the communiqué, then realized that she was supposed. She closed her eyes and nodded. "Thank you, bridge…patch it through down here."

A moment later, the transporter chief reported, "Receiving the coordinates now…unfortunately…" Sarah smiled at the comment, agreeing with her whole-heartedly.

"Goodbye, Chris," she said. "I’ll be with you every moment you are with those bastards."

Chris smiled and nodded. Softly, he replied, "I know…and I thank you…for everything…"

She took in a breath, wanting to say more…but she couldn’t. So, after a pause mid-breath, she gave the dreaded order. "Energize…"

With that, the light-blue energy signature engulfed Chris. Seconds later, not even that remained. Nothing…but air…

After what seemed like an eternity and a half, she finally ordered, "All right, everyone…all officers report to their stations. Let’s get out of here…"

Star Trek Dragon graphics and written material copyright Jon Wasik. Star Trek is a registered trademark
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