As the transporter room became a hive of activity as everyone left, she simply stayed where she was. She stared where Chris was, like she was still looking at him…still willing her strength into him…

Terry stayed behind a moment, but he eventually left too, knowing that he could do nothing for Sarah right now. "Hang in there, Chris," she whispered. "Just hang in there…"



After the tingling sensation wore off, Chris wondered if the transporter had malfunctioned for the first time in decades…he couldn’t see a thing!

No sooner did he rule that idea out of his mind than did a spot light fall upon him.

"State your name," an over-bearing voice suddenly echoed.

"I am Captain Chris Harriman!" he shouted, trying to keep his composure.

"We are the Rukarian," the voice stated bluntly. "From this day forth, you will not speak until spoken to, and you will do as you are told. When you do speak, you will do so with respect. What is your species?"

"I am a human!" Chris shouted again.

"Watch your tone of voice, human. If it weren’t for your value to us, your worth to us, we would sell you to the Kiklar. They would pay a handsome amount for you."

Suddenly surprised, he asked, "You know the Kiklar?"

"SILENCE!" the voice suddenly shouted. "You will speak only when told to!"

He was going to give a retort, then decided he better not. If the Dragon was going to make it out, he would have to cooperate…that is, until they made it out and were away.

"You will now stand there, human," the voice said, spitting the word human out like venom. "Do not move or we will destroy your ship."

Chris simply nodded, wishing he could sit down…because somehow, he knew it was going to be a long wait…



As Sarah entered the bridge, she headed for the command chair immediately. "The Rukarians have ordered that we deactivate all sensors and that we lower our shields," Vendar stated.

As she stopped in front of the command chair, she ordered, "Cooperate fully. They’ll probably lock a tractor beam onto us."

"Aye, Comm…" Vendar hesitated. "I’m sorry," she said quietly, not turning around. Sarah knew it was hard on her as well…

"Don’t worry, Vendar," she said, smiling. "Oh, and one last thing." She sat down in the command chair and noted, with annoyance, that it was still loose. "When I say cooperate fully, that means keep visual sensors online. Let’s log the stars and have the computer figure out where they are taking us."

Vendar swiveled her chair around and frowned. "Ma’am?"

Sarah smiled and nodded. "You heard right, Commander. I have no doubt that there is some hidden opening leading out to the rest of space. Let’s try to pinpoint that opening."

Getting only a slight idea of what Sarah had in mind, Vendar smiled and turned around. "Deactivating all sensors except visual sensors, and having the computer log our location and movement." A moment later, she added, "Lowering shields."

On the recently repaired view screen, a brown tractor beam emitted from the steel colored Rukarian ship, and both began to move in concert with each other.

"Good," she said quietly. She stood up again and began walking for the Captain’s Ready Room, annoyed at the squeak of the chair as she went. "Let me know as soon as you think we’re out of the field."

She paused just as the doors opened and looked back at an engineer working on console near the door. "Oh, and would someone please fix that damned command chair?"

The engineer looked up, then at the command chair, then smiled. "Aye, Captain."

She smiled back at the engineer, then entered. However, when she reached the chair in front of the desk, she paused. She looked at the chair, then at Chris’s chair. She hesitated at this, knowing she should be sitting in his chair now. Even though she wanted him back…she still didn’t want to sit in his place…

The door chime startled her out of her thoughts, and she quickly turned around. "Come in," she said, never having actually said that while in this room. She felt…awkward…out of place…

To her surprise, the doors opened to reveal Terry. He smiled as he entered, then looked at the chair in front of her.

"Don’t tell me you were going to sit there?" he asked, frowning.

She looked at the chair, finding her hand was on it. She quickly took it away and balled it into a fist, wishing she hadn’t done that. When she looked back at him, she stated, "The thought had crossed my mind."

He began to circle around the desk, staring at the Rukarian ships around the Dragon as he went through the panoramic view. "You know, I always wanted to sit in his chair."

He stopped at the Captain’s chair and sat down in it, making Sarah a little more than angry. He spun around in it once, then stopped and looked at Sarah.

"But you know what?" he asked.

"No, what?" she asked, letting him know that she was angry.

"That’s not possible any more," he said, leaning forward to rest his shoulders on the desk. As he clasped his hands together, he added, "It’s yours."

Her expressions softened for a moment, and she shook her head. "Maybe…but only for now."

Terry shook his head. "No, don’t go there, Sarah. Chris is gone, never to come back again." He stood up and leaned on the desk with his hands. "You have to let him go!"

She simply smiled at him, then circled around the desk herself. She went right up to him and stared him in the face. "Oh, no I don’t," she stated quietly, smiling. "At least, not yet."

She slightly nudged him out of her way, then slowly, quietly sat down. Comfortable she thought. "Not yet…"

When she looked up at Terry, suspicion crossed his face. "You’ve got something up your sleeve, don’t you?"

A wide smile crept across her face. "How did you guess?"

He smiled and shook his head. He began to walk towards the exit, but before he left, he said over his shoulder, "Well, I am telepathic, you know. I only hope your plan works!"

When the doors closed behind him, Sarah spun the chair around to look out the window. Quietly, slowly, she said, "So do I, Terry……so do I…"



It had already been several hours, and Chris found that his feet were starting to hurt. These standard Starfleet issue boots never were good for standing in he thought to himself.

Standing alone in a pitch-black room with only a spotlight above you to keep you company was not very pleasing. The fact that the room was freezing cold didn’t help him, either. Thankfully, his uniform was keeping him warm…for the most part, any way.

He hadn’t heard from the Rukarians since he had first beamed over, and it was becoming rather lonely.

To his relief, and to his surprise, the voice suddenly rang up again. Thank goodness they haven’t taken my communicator…yet. There’d be a big problem with communications if they had by now…

"Human," the voice began. "You are about to be transported to our mining colony on our planet’s satellite. There, the slave master, Lall, will meet you. Treat it with respect, and do as it says. Do you understand?"

Not wanting to anger the Rukarians, Chris immediately replied with just one word. "Yes."

"Good," the voice replied.

A moment later, Chris found himself blinded by light. He had been standing in pitch black for so long that, now that he was in light, he was blinded. The sounds of laser torches and other such mining equipment filled his ears and vibrated his body. The air seemed different somehow…there was something in it, and it almost made him cough his guts out!

Instead, he just hurled over his stomach and began coughing up a storm, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. His lungs began to burn, his eyes bulging. Pain shot throughout his entire body, and he realized that they probably didn’t breathe oxygen!

Finally, someone slipped some sort of breathing device over his head. It wasn’t overly bulky, and it only covered his nose. To his relief, when he breathed through his nose, the burning sensation stopped, and he immediately stopped coughing.

A rather alluring female voice suddenly spoke up from next to him. "That’s a sulfur/xenon atmosphere you’re breathing in there, my friend. The burning sensation will soon pass."

Trying to regain his composure, but unable to fully stand up yet and look at the woman, Chris asked, "The Rukarians breath sulfur?"

"No," she replied. "They breathe both the sulfur and the xenon. Their bodies need both."

Chris frowned, grateful that the stomach pain was gone, but curious. "How can they use xenon when it…" he paused, trying to figure out how to ask the question to this alien. Did they call them noble gasses?

"Something in their bodies are capable of stripping xenon of some of its electrons, making it quite receptive to new electrons," she said.

Not sure how this was possible, but unwilling to further question the woman for now, Chris decided he’d get a better look at her.

He stood up right and erect and finally looked to his right. There, a humanoid female stood. Her skin was very, very white, far whiter than any human could ever be! Her eyes were brown and the only sign of hair on her was a single ponytail coming directly from the back of her head and over her right shoulder. There, the long ponytail eventually led to a belt, where it was hooked to something to prevent it from swinging to her back. Other than the ponytail, she was completely bald. However, unlike most human women, it made her look quite attractive. The only thing spoiling her looks was the breathing device on her nose.

"Are you the one they spoke of?" Chris asked. "Lall?"

She blinked her eyes once, which Chris noted for possible significance, and replied, "Yes. I don’t rather enjoy the title Slave Master, though, so do not call me by that. I am…the administrator of this facility."

Chris frowned at this as a thought struck him. "You aren’t Rukarian, are you?"

Lall winked at him with her right eye, and that was another clue that eye movement to this person’s species was important. "No, I am not," she replied. "You will know a Rukarian when you see one. They are the only non-humanoids in this sector of the galaxy. Unless, of course, the Kiklar aren’t humanoid, which many speculate that they are not."

Chris suddenly shot up, making his back even straighter. "The Kiklar?!"

She narrowed her eyes, which was a familiar gesture to Chris, and asked, "You make it seem like they are a terror you have only recently heard of."

"They are," Chris replied. "They nearly destroyed my ship in our only encounter. You see, my ship is from another galaxy."

Lall’s eyes suddenly widened with surprise. "You have the ability to travel between galaxies, yet you were unable to defeat the Rukarians?!"

Chris shook his head. "No, you misunderstand. We were stranded in this galaxy on accident nearly two years ago."

Her eyes returned to their normal composure. "Unless your year is different from ours," she stated. "Then that hasn’t been a long time. You only arrived here recently."

"That’s right," Chris said.

"Well, human, take a look around you," she stated. "And get used to this sight."

Finally taking his first look, Chris’s jaw dropped. The cavern was huge, with metal catwalks and floating platforms everywhere. All over, humanoid people were walking about, of all sizes, shapes, and colors.

Chris noted that he was on a floating platform himself, but one that was connected to a catwalk. He moved to the side and looked down, only to come fact to face with a giant!

Five times Chris’s height, the creature was on a ledge…and was staring at him.

"Who’s the new person?" he asked. "If he’s human, can I eat him?"

Lall had already moved to Chris’s side, and she frowned down at him. "Very funny, Durkan. But I wouldn’t hurt him. If what the Inquiter told me is true, then this guy is very valuable to the Rukarians. If they lose him, they lose a serious bargaining piece."

"So then he must be human!" the one called Durkan stated jovially. "I want to eat him!"

Chris backed away with terror, surprised with the venom in the giant’s voice!

Lall looked at him and smiled for the first time since his arrival. "Don’t worry, he hasn’t eaten a human."

"Not yet, I haven’t!" Durkan shouted above.

Slowly, cautiously, Chris moved to the edge of the platform again. There, Durkan smiled at him, then jumped further down into the cavern.

"He’s really a great guy, once you get to know him," Lall stated. She put her hand on his shoulder and stated, "Follow me, human."

As she began walking onto the catwalk attached to the platform, Chris stated, "My name is Chris Harriman."

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