Origins, Chapter 19

 

 

 

Author: Apollo Racer
Title: Origins
Email: fltadmracer@hotmail.com
Characters: New Crew/Star Trek: TOS/Star Trek TOS: Animated Series.
Rating: PG-13
Summary: In a bizarre twist of fate, a young man from the 21st century is trapped
in a frozen coffin as he drifts along the tides of time to be awakened 200 years
later.

Chapter Nineteen

Things were going quietly at Federation Outpost 24. The station had been on Yellow Alert since the first two reports of attacks came in. Someone was making their way through the Federation, causing great unrest in their path. Commander Farber, CO of the outpost, had sent a call to the nearest starbase. FO 24 had a responsibility to watch over the mining colony on the planet Cordova below them. In a comfortable niche in the Federation, they didn\’t have much need for defenses. But with this increasing threat, they suddenly had to be prepared.

The starbase commander had assured Farber that a ship had been sent to help them out. So all they had to do now was wait.

The sensor officer turned toward the commander. \”Sir, a ship just entered the system.\”

\”That must be the ship Starfleet sent. They couldn\’t have come soon enough for me,\” Farber said. \”Hail them.\”

The comm officer did so, and a voice piped through the Operations Center. \”Commander, I understand you\’re in need of aid.\”

The commander let out his breath. \”Thank God you\’re here. With all these hit-and-run raids happening, we could use the protection.\”

\”Oh yes… you certainly need protection.\”

Farber shivered. \”Something\’s not right here.\” He turned toward his Ops officer. \”Frank, give me a view of that ship.\”

\”Aye, sir.\” He turned to his station, and shortly the ship showed on the viewscreen.

\”It\’s a Starfleet ship alright,\” Farber commented. At first he recognized the familiar lines of an Enterprise-class vessel. Then he saw the third nacelle and it\’s larger size. The commander went into shock. \”But it\’s the wrong one! Red Alert! Get the shields up! Contact Starfleet and tell them their renegade is here!\” He had suddenly remembered the picture of the ship that went with the warnings.

The Ops officer smiled. \”Shields are up. They\’re still outside.\” He looked at his board and his smile disappeared. \”But we can\’t contact Starfleet. They\’re jamming us.\”

Just then, the voice came over their comm systems again. \”You asked for protection… prepare to receive deliverance.\” It was such a calm tone of voice that instead of making them relax, it heightened their fear. Farber was feeling nothing but dread as lancets of orange phaser fire erupted from the ship to hammer away at their shields.

~ * ~

They had been searching for three months. During that time, Apollo had gotten well acquainted with the crew. He and Sam had rekindled the fires they shared for each other in the Academy. When they first visited Karen in Stellar Cartography, there were plenty of hugs to go around. They all retired to the officer\’s lounge when her shift ended, where tears were shed over absent friends. The sadness was overcome, though, with their reunion. Karen regaled her friends with news of Ethan\’s progress in their absence. She told Apollo that Ethan would be thirteen when she would request for his presence on the ship. Apollo was stunned at how years went by since he had seen them together, but agreed, at Sam\’s playful prodding, that it would be okay at that time for him to be with his mother, but he suggested it wait at least until after they find the Firestone and return it to Starfleet.

Apollo had not quite requested, not quite ordered, the quartermaster to allow someone else to take Sam\’s quarters. He recalled that the quartermaster had smiled and winked. After all, part of the captain\’s was to approve the rearrangement of living space on a ship to accomodate couples; less common were instances where the captain was actually part of that couple. But there was nothing against it… Starfleet discouraged fraternization, but they didn\’t forbid it, and Sam was delighted that it could be done.

It was at the end of the third month that Apollo had another dream. He was standing at the top of what seemed to be a small mountain. Lush green fields stretched for miles, and wildlife could be seen in abundance. Suddenly, a dark plague approached from the horizon. As Apollo stood there, horrified, ugly black scars burrowed into the earth. Firestorms scoured the countryside, leaving the land scorched, fires still raging in some areas. He looked around and noticed a door to the side of a cliff, blown off its hinges. He looked down as a bloody hand grabbed his boot. The hand\’s owner looked up at him in despair, and a word rasped from his mutilated face. \”Why?\” Suddenly he knew where he was.

Apollo\’s eyes flared open, flooding the darkness with a soft blue light. His sudden arousal woke Sam. Her eyes opened halfway. \”Apollo, you devil. If it weren\’t the middle of the night, I\’d…\”

Her sentence was cut off. Apollo rolled and brought his arm slamming down on the bedside table, activating the comm and knocking the legs out from under the table. The sudden loud crack caused Sam to jump to a sitting position in shock. \”Bridge, this is Racer! Change course for the Cordova system! Maximum warp!\” In a second, he was on his feet.

The lights hadn\’t been turned on, but Sam could see. I never realized his eyes were so bright, came a detached thought from the back of her head. \”Apollo, what\’s wrong?\” She was definitely worried. When she looked at him, she noticed he was already in uniform. He didn\’t say a word, but he fixed her with a penetrating gaze. Even with his changes, she could remember the last time she saw him like this. \”I hate it when you look that way,\” she said, but got up and started dressing herself.

Three minutes later, Apollo was on the bridge, heading toward his chair. \”ETA to Cordova,\” he barked.

\”We should be there in approximately two hours,\” said Commander Williams, the ship\’s gamma shift duty officer, as he relinquished command; he moved in barely enough time to keep from being bowled over by his captain. \”Is there a reason for this sudden course change, sir?\”

\”Call it a feeling,\” Apollo said with conviction, \”a very bad feeling.\” He hit the comm on his chair. \”Engineering, this is the Bridge. Can you get more power to the engines?\”

\”Captain, you\’ve got all we can give you. If you want, we can get out and push.\”

\”Not advisable. Thanks anyway. Bridge out.\” He sat in his chair and glared at the viewscreen, almost as if he could will more speed out of the engines.

Sam came onto the bridge. Her hair was still a little frazzled, but for the most part, she was composed. Thelem followed right behind her. He turned to her. \”What brought this on?\”

She shrugged. \”Sometimes he gets these feelings. But when he gets them, you can guarantee that something is going to happen.\”

\”Great,\” Thelem muttered. He then spoke up to Apollo. \”Captain, what do we expect to find in the Cordova system?\”

The captain\’s eyes narrowed. \”Firestone is there.\” The graveyard-silent tone in his voice brought the temperature of the bridge down about fifteen degrees. M\’Ress even shivered, and her tail bushy with concern. His statement also managed to squelch whatever muted conversations were taking place. He looked at Arex. \”As soon as we get within sensor range, drop to impulse. We\’ll also be going to Red Alert.\”

The younger officers looked at him in horror. They knew the Firestone was abducted by terrorists, but they never actually expected to fire at another starship. Before now, the thought that they might have to was abstract, but a Red Alert drove the point home.

Sam came down to the side of Apollo\’s chair. She was going to speak to him, but her voice caught in her throat. Apollo\’s face could have been carved from granite for as hard as it looked. His gaze burned with a cold fire, as though the viewscreen would freeze under his gaze.

He slowly turned those eyes on to her. \”Please go to your post, Commander. I need you there right now,\” he said softly.

She silently obeyed, moving to the science station. Thelem was about to take her place next to Apollo, but they made eye contact, and she subtly shook her head. He decided that he would be of more use at the Tactical station.

Over the next couple of hours, the only sounds on the bridge came from the instrumentation, and an occasional inquiry from Apollo, asking for an update. Sam would check the sensors and give him an answer, and silence would fall again.

Finally, Arex spoke up. \”Captain, we have reached the Cordova system. Dropping out of warp and sounding Red Alert as ordered.\” The bridge lighting shifted to red, and a brief klaxon sounded.

Sam immediately concentrated on her board. She was puzzled. \”Captain, I\’m not picking anything up from Federation Outpost 24.\” She continued to scan, and her puzzlement quickly became dread. \”I am reading a considerable amount of debris in orbit.\” Her voice caught. \”Some appears to have already entered the atmosphere.\”

\”Put it on screen.\” Apollo said. Instantly, a picture of a planet showed. Bright, glittering particles could be seen in one section of orbit. \”Ladies and gentlemen,\” he said morbidly, \”welcome to Federation Outpost 24.\”

As they drew closer, they could more easily define the details of the wreckage. A chunk drifted by them, its only markings, \”ST 24\”, marking a gravestone of the station. Apollo turned to Sam, \”What was the complement of the station?\”

At first she didn\’t respond, as she was transfixed to the screen. She shook herself out of it and turned to the computer. \”According to specs, the station held a crew of 215.\” She paused, as more information scrolled across her screen. \”There were also 53 people down on the mining colony. Sir, I\’m not getting any life signs from either place.\”

Apollo put his hand in front of his eyes, as if he had a headache. Truthfully, he did it so he wouldn\’t shoot the screen in anger. \”Mr. Taylor, any sign of the Firestone anywhere?\”

She checked the readouts. \”No, sir. Of course, the planet shields anything behind…\”

He didn\’t let her finish his sentence. \”Arex, enter standard orbit; first trip around at high speed. I don\’t want anyone hiding on us.\”

\”Yes, sir,\” he complied. The Valiant entered orbit at three-quarters impulse, making one complete orbit before slowing to standard speed.

Apollo rose from the chair. \”Thelem, you have the conn. Mr. Taylor, have a landing party meet me in the transporter room.\”

\”But, sir…\”

He whipped around to train his gaze on her. \”I said… have… a landing party meet me in the transporter room, including yourself.\” He stormed into the turbolift, ending the discussion.

~ * ~

The transporter deposited them onto the planet\’s surface. Apollo instructed the four security guards accompanying him and Sam to fan out and search the area. He already didn\’t like what he saw.

From reports he had heard in the past, Cordova was a bright, green planet. Clearly Class-M, almost Earth-like, it was an ideal spot to place a mining colony. The subterranean strata held abundant supplies of ores and minerals needed for starship hulls, phaser arrays, and base matter for food synthesizers. There was even a small deposit of dilithium. The fact that it was deep within Federation space was the only reason why there were no disputes over the planet\’s affiliation. Anywhere near the Federation\’s borders and either the Klingons or the Romulans, depending on the planet\’s location, would have given them quite a fight over it.

Looking at the planet\’s surface now, Apollo doubted that anyone would want it. What was once green fields and bright flora was now blackened, scorched earth. Fires raged in random places. Giant black scars disfigured the ground. One of the guards commented. \”Sir, it looks as though no one wanted us to use this planet anymore.\”

Apollo nodded, then spotted something over by a rock formation. He jogged to it, followed by a couple of guards. \”I don\’t think weapons caused all this, Lieutenant.\” He pointed to a piece of wreckage that was now literally part of the cliffside.

Sam scanned the debris with a tricorder. \”Captain, this is a piece of the outpost.\”

\”Radiation signatures?\” he asked.

\”No, sir. I\’m reading normal across the board.\”

He nodded. \”Okay, let\’s find the colony site.\” He was ready to head off when he saw the look on Sam\’s face. \”This is the colony site,\” he said, half expecting her to contradict him.

\”Yes, sir,\” she said, disappointing him. \”In fact, the transporter was set to put us in the center of the colony.\”

He bowed his head, then continued in the direction he originally set out for. She looked to one of the guards, who shrugged. Then she followed the captain. By the time she caught up to him, he had climbed the formation and was standing at its peak, looking out at the destruction. He didn\’t turn around when she approached him. \”I see nothing to tell that anyone survived. So much destruction… and we don\’t even know why.\”

\”The Firestone was here. You Saw that. I thought you knew why they were here, too.\”

\”No. I only Saw the planet\’s surface, as it is now.\” He turned toward Sam. \”And frankly, I\’ve seen enough, in more ways than one. Let\’s get out of here.\” He turned for one last look at the ruined landscape and suddenly stood rigid, his back a little arched, looking up at the sky. Sam was about to ask him if anything was wrong when he straightened up and took out his communicator. \”Racer to Valiant. Prepare to beam up the landing party.\”

Sam was still scanning the area when she said, \”Captain, I\’m reading a door at the base of the cliffside. It could be the entrance to the mine. The door prevents me from being able to tell if there are any life signs behind it.\”

\”Belay that, Valiant,\” he said. \”We may have found something. Stand by. Racer to Lieutenant Feyman.\”

\”Feyman here, sir.\”

\”Commander Taylor discovered a door at the base of the cliff. It\’s possibly the entrance into the mine. Take a man with you and check it out.\”

\”Aye aye, sir,\” came the reply. After a few minutes, Feyman called back. \”Nothing unusual about the door. It received some light damage when some of the outpost\’s debris struck it, but it still seems pretty intact. I\’m going to try and open it so we can check inside.\” Just as he finished, Apollo heard an explosion in the background.

\”Feyman! What happened?\”

Feyman\’s next transmission sounded strange, until Apollo realized that the security guard was running. \”We\’ve met with resistance, Captain! Some of the miners were holed up in there. They have phasers, they outnumber us, and unless I\’m mistaken, they probably think we were the ones who caused all this!\”

He looked to Sam, who had a grim expression. \”Get your team together and try to make it to my position.\”

\”Understood, sir. Feyman out.\”

It only took a couple of minutes. Then Apollo saw Feyman rushing toward them, firing behind him. Phaser blasts shot over his head. Apollo murmured to Sam, \”Phaser on stun. Keep low.\” She showed compliance by taking out her sidearm and checking its charge and setting. He followed his own advice by dropping to a crouch and checking his own phaser.

The miners stopped, seeing Apollo. \”There! He\’s the captain! He\’s behind this!\”

Apollo stood and forced himself to be heard. \”You are gravely mistaken,\” he shouted, \”I am Captain Racer of the USS Valiant. We\’re after the ship that actually did this.\”

Two other people reached the lead miner\’s position. Sam looked over the ledge to see that the rest of the group was holding off the other members of the landing party at the base of the cliff.

\”Liar! Why is it I don\’t believe you?! A Starfleet ship did this to us, and yours is the only one in orbit! You can\’t fool me that easily!\” He raised his gun to fire.

\”Look out!\” Sam yelled, rushing to protect him.

Just as she reached him, he pushed her away. \”Stay back!\” The movement left him off guard. The phaser blast caught Apollo squarely and knocked him backward off the cliff.

\”No!\” Sam screamed. \”Apollo!\” She tried to rush to the edge, but now she was being fired upon and was forced to defend herself.

Suddenly the phaser fire stopped. Sam had to do a double take to realize that Apollo was over by the miners. Phasers lay on the ground, and he had the lead miner by the shirt, and had hoisted him up until his feet dangled off the ground.

\”I… said… knock it off!\” Apollo\’s eyes blazed, so brightly that Sam could see the fear in the other man\’s face. The man knew his shot hit the captain… he clearly saw him go over the cliff, yet now this very man was holding him off the ground. \”You\’re fighting the wrong battle! Now tell your group to back off!\”

The miner was too choked up with fear to talk, so he merely waved his friends off. They complied.

Apollo set the man back down. \”If we did all this,\” he gestured around him, calm back in his voice, \”don\’t you think we wouldn\’t have stopped with you? Get a grip, man! You don\’t shoot your rescuers.\” The man was at a loss for words or actions. Apollo took the opportunity to call the ship. \”Valiant, this is Racer again. We found some survivors. Have a medical team standing by and have these people beamed aboard.\” He closed his communicator. \”I suggest that you call your men off, before anyone else is hurt.\”

The miner simply nodded and walked down the outcropping. Sam approached him, trading glances between the ledge and her captain. \”Boy, that was some fancy transporter work.\”

He turned to her. \”What?\”

\”I mean, the way they caught you and put you behind the miners. What I don\’t understand is that I saw them shoot you. You\’re not wearing armor.\”

Apollo stared at her a moment. \”Don\’t believe everything you see, Commander,\” he said, looking grim. Then he started down the embankment.

She watched him go, whispering to herself, \”What happened to you, Apollo? What else aren\’t you telling me?\” When she reached the clearing, the group had already been signaled and was approaching the captain. Apollo quickly glanced around to be sure everyone was there, then he reestablished contact with the ship. \”Energize.\”

They returned to the ship, and Apollo didn\’t wait for ceremony. He left the room immediately. Sam was hot on his heels. \”Apollo, would you mind telling me exactly what happened down there?\” He whirled around and gave her a baleful look, a silent reminder about the command structure. \”I mean, sir. I saw what I saw. You were clearly shot.\”

He gave her a slight smile. \”It was nothing. Apparently, a phaser on stun doesn\’t seem to affect me, thanks to how I am now. And one other thing,\” he slowly backed her against a bulkhead as each word came out. \”I might allow a first name basis to take place in an informal setting, such as in our quarters or in the lounge. But any other times, while we\’re on duty, I would appreciate it if you would remember proper courtesies. Is that clear, Commander?\”

She realized that she had crossed a line, and he was giving her a chance to step back across. \”Yes, sir. It won\’t happen again,\” she said in a verbal backpedal.

He grinned, but there was nothing warm to it. \”See that it doesn\’t. Dismissed.\” He continued down the corridor, leaving her to think about what she just experienced. He knew he came down on her, but he also knew that some commanders wouldn\’t let the officer recover like that. He had seen some hard asses in his time, and he could be one if the situation called for it; he just didn\’t feel that this was one of those times. By the time he reached the turbolift and instructed it to take him to the bridge, he had already decided to talk to her more informally off-shift.

The lift doors opened. He could sense that a couple of the crew members were making an effort to go against their training of announcing a senior officer, and he smiled slightly. Thelem left the command chair. \”Captain. We\’ve scanned the area around Cordova. There is no ship, but we picked up something interesting.\” He led Apollo over to the science station where that shift\’s science officer sat. Ensign Puller, I believe, he thought, as Thelem continued. \”We noticed the ion trail of an impulse drive. It leads out of the system, and ends shortly after. Taking up the lead, we shifted scans and found a warp signature picking up where the trail left off.\”

Apollo nodded grimly. \”The Firestone did its damage, left the system, and went into warp, apparently in search of other conquests.\” He heard the lift doors open and close, but he didn\’t turn, and he didn\’t say anything until the person was almost next to him. \”Mr. Taylor, did the landing party take an inventory to see if anything was missing?\”

They were a little stunned to note that their captain knew exactly who approached him, but he was confident that as they served with him and learned more about him, they\’d be more comfortable with him. As such, it took Sam a moment before she spoke. \”Uh… yes, sir. They found that an entire day\’s worth of ore was missing. We figured it was destroyed when they attacked the planet.\”

\”Did you find any remnants of ore to back up that theory?\”

\”Well, no…\”

He nodded. \”I believe it was taken, and I know who did it. Thelem, look at this signature. Computer, enhance the warp signature for visual inspection.\”

The computer complied instantly, giving the signature a blue glow. He snapped his fingers. \”Bingo. There\’s no doubt, now. It was the Firestone, all right.\”

Thelem was puzzled. \”Sir, I don\’t understand.\”

Apollo stepped back. \”Ensign, what\’s wrong with this picture?\”

Puller studied the image intently. \”This can\’t be a warp signature, sir. At least, not from any of our ships.\”

\”Oh? And why not?\”

\”Well, every signature I\’ve ever seen has a bilateral form. This one is more triangular,\” he responded.

\”And so, on that basis alone, you would dismiss this as a warp signature.\”

Puller gulped. He suddenly realized that the captain knew something he didn\’t. He looked to the first officer and to his superior. They saw the hole he had dug for himself, but they were unable to help him.

Apollo decided that he had suffered enough. He glanced over at Sam as well… as senior science officer, she was responsible to relay to her department all pertinent information about their quarry. I\’ll have to talk to her about that, too. \”What if the ship had three warp nacelles?\”

\”But, sir, that\’s not feasible. Why would…\”

The captain wasn\’t listening to him. He was punching up something on the other screen at the station. A revolving graphic of the Firestone showed up. \”What if the ship looked like this?\” He saw the abject disappointment on the ensign\’s face. \”Don\’t dismiss something outright just because it appears out of the norm. You\’ll find a lot of that in Starfleet, Ensign.\” His voice was quiet, not condescending; Sam recognized it as the helpful tone he had used as a tutor. \”Now, relay the trajectory of that signature to Navigation.\” He stood up and spoke up. \”Mr. Raleigh, set course for the coordinates appearing at your station. Helm, ahead warp factor three.\”

Sam looked up from Puller. \”Warp three? But sir, I thought you wanted to catch this person.\”

\”I do, but if we were to take off at maximum warp every time we found a lead, we wouldn\’t get anywhere.\” He ticked off the reasons on his fingers. \”Number one, if they were to make a course change, we would overshoot it by several light-seconds, and we\’d waste time backtracking. Number two, we certainly don\’t want to catch up to them. Remember, they travel as fast as we do, but they probably don\’t know we\’re following them, so they probably won\’t be traveling at maximum warp. Number three, this person knows that he has a powerful ship, so he\’s probably not expecting any resistance. Another reason why he wouldn\’t push the limit. And number four, Mr. McCormick would probably get mad at me if I were to push his dear engines to the limit at a constant pace. I don\’t need to hear about it. But since you brought the point up, helm, make that warp four. Heaven forbid we should let these people get away.\”

He moved to his chair and sat down. \”In the meantime, our shift starts in a few minutes. Mr. Taylor, relieve Mr. Puller and take your post. Calculate a destination for our renegades.\”

~ * ~

At the end of their shift, the officers were relieved and they headed to the turbolifts. Apollo hadn\’t missed the fact that he and Sam always managed to share a turbolift alone. This time especially, he was glad for his crew\’s thoughtfulness. He studied Sam as the doors closed. She seemed in an almost pensive mood. \”Something on your mind?\” he asked.

She nodded. \”I have to apologize for Ensign Puller, Captain. If I… if I wasn\’t so focused on trying to figure you out, I would have made sure everyone in my department would have had the information they needed, and he wouldn\’t have embarrassed himself on the bridge.\”

He smirked. \”You always were a bit snoopy. Isn\’t this the second time you\’ve been trying to find out about me without asking me directly?\”

She blushed and stared at the floor. \”Actually… not the second.\”

His eyebrow rose. \”Oh?\”

\”Well, you always had been so… so… unapproachable! Even while we were together, it was tough to talk to you about stuff because you seemed so closed off. Now granted, after we got together you made terrific strides and it got easier… But now…\” she paused, folding her arms around herself. \”You\’re so… different. More than just physically. It\’s almost like we\’re at square one again.\”

He closed his eyes and bowed his head. \”In many ways, we are. I am different, Sam… in ways that even I haven\’t fully figured out. I learn something new about myself all the time. I want to tell you about it all! But… I don\’t want to scare you away. I don\’t want to overload you with too much. Can you understand that?\”

She moved forward and took his arm. \”Apollo, I do understand. And… I have to admit, you\’re right… kind of. I am scared. But will you scare me away?\” She shook her head emphatically. \”Don\’t ever worry about that. I\’m here… I\’ve found you again, and I\’m never going to let you out of my sight again, mister.\” She smiled. \”You\’re still quite a catch, even more so now.\” She sighed. \”I mean… Captain Racer. I\’d be a fool to let you go.\”

Apollo shook his head, smirking. \”Don\’t tell me you\’re the type of person who\’s power-hungry.\”

\”Oh, far from it. You can have all that power. I just want the sex.\” She grinned coyly, lightly licking her lips.

To her surprise, a purplish tinge appeared on his cheeks. \”Uhhhhh… okay.\” The blush quickly faded, and now he seemed a little hesitant himself. \”Look, Sam… another reason I wanted to talk to you… about that time in the corridor.\” He looked up and saw she was gazing at him with her full attention, which made it a little harder for him. He sweatdropped. \”I\’m sorry about putting rank between us there… but I am the captain. If anything, we need to make sure… that is… I didn\’t want…\”

Sam watched him squirm, and as much as she enjoyed it, she let him off the hook. \”It\’s okay. I understand. You were right. While we\’re on duty, we should keep our personal relationship separate.\” She had another coy thought. \”And since we are off duty now…\” She used her grip on his arm to pull herself up and kiss his cheek. His blush returned and she giggled. \”Okay, Captain, can we get the lift moving now?\”

In the conversation, he had completely forgotten to give the lift a command. \”Yes… that\’d probably help. Computer, deck eight.\” As the car stirred into motion, he asked her, \”Soooo… not the second time, eh? When else did you do some digging?\”

\”Hmm? Oh! I was keeping track of your career the whole time.\”

\”What?!\”

\”Oh, come on…\” she said, smiling. \”You can\’t tell me you didn\’t…\” She saw his look and lost her grin. \”You didn\’t, did you.\”

He placed a hand behind his hand. \”Well… I was kind of going through a rough time. I was thinking of you. Constantly. But I just, I mean, I didn\’t realize that….\”

\”Apollo.\” She stopped his squirming again. \”It\’s okay, really. I mean, I know all about the Merrimac Scandal, and what that would have done for your reputation.\” As he visibly sighed with relief, she continued. \”And I have to admit, when the Excalibur disappeared, I thought that was it.\” Now she sighed, though depression was more evident. She stared at the floor, her hair covering her eyes. \”Oh, did I cry that day. My friends and my captain didn\’t know what was wrong with me, and I just couldn\’t tell them. I hadn\’t realized you had survived that, so I lost track of you after that point.\”

When Sam looked at him again, her eyes were sparkling. \”You don\’t know how much it meant to me to see you in that transporter room. It felt like the darkness had been dispelled.\” She wrapped her arms around him and held him silently until the doors opened again. With clear heads and light hearts, they walked through the corridor, not even caring if anyone saw them holding hands.

 

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