"We’ve dropped out of warp," James Trikal reported from the helm.

Sarah Caft stood up from the command chair. "What about the ships?" she asked.

"They’ve raised shields and armed weapons," Ada stated.

She looked back at Ada, surprised. Why would they be doing that? "Hail them before they make a bad move."

When she looked back to the view screen, the image of a very angry, yellow-skinned alien was staring back at her. "What do you want, human!" the alien asked.

"I’m Captain Sarah Caft of the Federation starship Dragon," she started. "We come to you in peace."

"Like I care," the alien replied harshly, its deep voice vibrating something on the bridge. "You’re human, and I’m sure the Kiklar would leave us alone for a while should we give you over to them."

Damn, the Kiklar sure are well known in this region she thought to herself.

"Perhaps, but what would you prefer?" Sarah asked. "Selling us or stopping the Rukarians from taking any more of your people?"

The alien stared back at her for a moment, eyes seeming to penetrate deep into Sarah’s skull. "All right, you’ve got my attention."

Sarah stepped further towards the view screen, making sure she took up the alien’s entire view. "We’ve rallied a rather large fleet on the other side of this sector," she started. She paused a moment, then added, "And we know how to get inside their space. We were hoping you could help us."

The alien didn’t reply for a moment and seemed to be thinking, its brow furrowed in concentration. A moment later, it said, "We’ll need the exact coordinates of the fleet. We’ll send a commission there to negotiate a possible alliance."

Sarah smiled and nodded. "Faire enough. We’ll relay the coordinates to you. Dragon out."

The Federation emblem replaced her face, followed shortly by a view of five approaching ships. Sarah moved back to the command chair and sat down, wishing Tom was here right now to give her support.

"Relay the coordinates," she ordered, "and set a course for the fleet. Send a signal and have them send people to the remaining two star systems." She sighed and leaned back. "Let’s not lose any possible support to other people hating humans."

She still couldn’t believe that humanity was hated in this galaxy simply because of the Kiklar. It had been a real surprise to learn of that fact in the past week.

She adjusted herself in the seat, only to hear a squeaking sound. She shook a little, and again she heard it.

Remembering that the chair had recently been damaged, and fixed, she figured that the job was only quickly done while repairs were done on the Dragon. Annoyed, she stood up and headed for the ready room. "Ada, you have the bridge."



James was mentally reviewing over some of the maneuvers he had planned for the third phase of this plan. He would have to stretch the maneuvering capabilities of the Dragon to its limits, and then some!

Eventually, he decided to look up and find out where he was. He found that he was on one of the bottom decks of the saucer section, near the Torpedo decks. In fact he thought, if I’m right, then around this corner…

He rounded the corner of the corridor and found just what he was hoping to find. The windows that looked out into the small Captain’s Yacht bay. He wasn’t on the exact bottom deck of the saucer section, though, and as such he could see all the way above the Yacht to the other side of the bay.

He leaned against the window and read the name lit up by the bay lights. USS Dragon, NCC 27749-A, Captain’s Yacht. It was a fine support craft, very capable of handling itself in a mission. It was a lot like the Delta Flyer they had heard about before they had been stranded in the Kalium Galaxy, the support craft Voyager’s Tom Paris had designed himself…only this was even better.

With the Plasma propulsion drive, it was just as fast as any Bladerunner fighter, only better armed and armored. It was also fairly large, as far as Captain’s Yachts went.

"Always ogling the one thing you can’t get," a somewhat familiar female voice said from behind James.

He spun around, disbelieving, not sure he had heard the voice at all! However, when he turned around, there she was!

"Vicki!" he exclaimed aloud.

"My good friend Jimmy!" she replied, embracing him in a hug. When they parted, he looked at the rank insignia on her yellow collar.

"So when did you make Lieutenant?" he asked.

She smiled and consciously rubbed her rank pips. "Just last month."

James shook his head in disbelief. "I didn’t know you were stationed aboard the Dragon!"

She shrugged, her smile remaining. "Well, it is a big ship, and I never bothered much to check the compliment. Finally, I got curious about who designed the Bladerunner, and I saw your name next to the first logged flight of the prototype."

James leaned back on the window of the bay and crossed his arms. "Well I’ll be…you still working engineering?"

She moved to his side and also leaned against the glass. "Yeah, I still have a knack for it. At least, Commander Tarkent thinks so."

"Well, she sure took her time to recognize Lieutenant material," James said, beaming a smile at her.

Vicki rolled her eyes and shook her head. "Still the same old Jimmy," she said. "Hitting on any women that he’s friends with."

He smiled again and nodded his head enigmatically. "Yep!" he replied. "And you’re still the same old Vicki!"

She gave a small, quiet laugh. "So tell me, have you forced the Captain to reprimand you yet?"

Memories of Chris suddenly flooded into his mind. The one sim they had been in… They both had something special, a talent for piloting that no one else had…as well as a love for it that no one else ever had…

They had been friends since the day they both walked onto the bridge of this ship. Chris was unlike either of the two CO’s James had served under. He made it his business to get to know his crew, and to get to know them well. He was a great friend, and nothing got in the way of him being one.

No one could compare to him…and no one could replace him…

"I’m sorry," Vicki said quietly. "From the look on your face, you knew him quite well."

"Who didn’t?" James asked quietly.

"True," she replied in a whisper. "Very true…"

They both just stood there for a moment, thinking…only to be interrupted. "Bridge to Lieutenant Trikal," Sarah’s voice said. "Report to the Captain’s Yacht at once."

James looked up toward the bridge and replied, "I’m on my way, Captain." He looked at Vicki and smiled. "Now, my friend, it’s time we get him back. Phase two begins now."

She smiled warmly at him. "Good luck, Jimmy."

He pushed off of the window, gave a reassuring smile to her, then headed for the turbolift. He only had one deck to go down.



"Captain’s Yacht to Bridge, we’re ready for launch," Tom reported.

Sarah nodded approvingly. "Launch the first probe, send it to the edge of the field."

"Aye, Captain," Vendar replied. On screen, a probe shot away from the Dragon. About two kilometers off, it stopped.

"Receiving the telemetry," Vendar reported. "It’s slowly moving in…It’s already reached the barrier! It’s searching for the opening…"

"Launch the Yacht," Sarah ordered.

Immediately, the view screen changed to a view from the Torpedo decks. The doors moved down out of their position and, guided by tractor beams and forcefields, move to either side of the bay.

"Launching now," James stated.

Immediately after he said that, the Yacht ‘dropped’ down from its docking position. The plasma drives began to glow blue and the ship slowly started for the barrier.

"Launch successful," Vendar reported the obvious. "Closing bay doors."

"Launch the second probe and slave it’s telemetry to the Yacht," Sarah stated, standing up.

"Slave controls transferred," Vendar said.

"We’ve got it, engaging its cloak now," Tom said.

On the view screen, which once again showed a forward view, the second probe wavered a moment, then disappeared.

"We’re going to engage our cloak now," Tom stated. "We hope to see you again soon, Captain."

"You too, Tom," Sarah replied. "Good luck. Dragon out."

Immediately after she signed off, the Yacht itself wavered, then also disappeared.

"So," she said slowly, easing back into her chair. "All we do now…is wait…"



Chris Harriman suddenly felt a slight, localized breeze hit his head. A raspy voice said from behind him, "So, human, I see you’ve kept yourself busy!"

Great Chris thought bitterly. Another fight.

He spun around to face this new threat, ready for anything! He had, after all, been in five fights since his arrival, and he had done well in those fights!

However, when he faced what he thought was going to be another opponent, he was instead surprised to see something he had never expected! Flapping its wings directly in front of him, as big as he was, not including wing span, was a small dragon!

But it’s small he thought. More of a drake than a dragon.

"You," he began, "I presume, are of the species Rukarian."

It’s mouth moving oddly compared to the words it seemed to say, it said, "Very good, human." Thank goodness for universal translators.

The Rukarian landed and folded its wings, then stood up to its full height on its hind legs. At full height, they were easily two and a quarter meters tall, taller than any human!

Their skin was rough, as any drake might have been in ancient history, but its skin was a diamond black that seemed to sparkle occasionally from the light!

"According to this report," the Rukarian began, "You’ve mined half a ton of ore since you arrived! Impressive by any species’ standards!"

I can attest to that Chris thought, his muscles bulging with fatigue.

"You’re a valuable slave, human," the Rukarian added. "But you’ve been in a lot of fights. Don’t worry, though. The next person to fight you will immediately be killed."

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