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[2007: NOV-DEC] Distant Haven


James T. Kolk
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"Distant Haven"

by Jackford B. Kolk

-----

The USS Frontiersman drifted slowly toward the station. As they had done so many times before in so many other systems, the renegade Starfleet crew played "worthless heap of rubble" to slip in unnoticed. No one was interested in the tattered hulk of a war-torn Federation starship. Not after the way the Dominion had clearly bested them, wiping the Alpha and Beta Quadrants clean of all vestiges of the Federation, the Klingon Empire, and the Romulan Star Empire. Now, over 50 years later, Earth, Q'onos, and Romulus were completely dead, and very few even remembered what they had stood for. But Captain Sean Callaghan and his crew of four hundred and thirty seven did. They had fought hard to keep the dream alive, and suffered gravely for it. A generation after the fateful end of the conflict, their Galaxy class vessel had been patched up with alien parts more times than anyone cared to remember, and the outer hull looked like a quilt that had been worked on for generations. In a way, that's what it was. They had traveled to the outer reaches of the Alpha Quadrant seeking refuge from the Dominion. But everywhere they went, the shadow of the Dominion's power loomed. Until they reached the galactic rim. Somehow, it seemed the rim had escaped the interest of the Founders. Perhaps now they could find a home in which to rebuild a Federation-like society.

In the blackness that surrounded them, the unspeakably massive alien station loomed ominously. But the First Officer, Commander Mark Graystone, whose indomitable spirit was all that had kept the crew going at times, was sure this that was the place. After what felt like an eternity of drifting, the hulking vessel had finally found its way to the station's cavernous waste excretion port. With a few momentary bursts of the maneuvering jets and a split second tap on the impulse engine control, the Frontiersman was inside. After an hour more of gently gliding inside, the ship attached itself to the deck and the customary scouting party was preparing to disembark.

Forty-seven year-old Captain Callaghan led his party of four down the gantry and into the bowels of the station. Their EVA suits slowed their ascent, but the "Frontiersmen", as the crew called themselves, were well used to taking their time. Patience was what kept them alive most of the time. Patience and caution. They had learned long ago, that they could not risk announcing their presence to anyone. The Founders could be anywhere. Eventually, Callaghan's team reached a maintenance air-lock.

Beneath their EVA suits, the crew wore civilian clothing. A small party of plainly dressed humans rarely raised suspicions anymore. They found a storage room nearby and hid their suits in a corner behind some crates, then briefly used their tricorders to locate the station's equivalent of a turbolift that would take them to the upper levels where sensors had indicated a massive class-M environment with at least three cities.

The lift took the team to the downtown area of the capital city of the station. It was bustling with activity. Crowds of people milled about, taking care of the day's business. The population was mostly comprised of a human-looking species, so the team blended in easily, but surreptitious scans revealed a decidedly non-human internal physiology. There were also a number of alien species represented in small numbers, a few of which had been members of the Federation before its demise. Callaghan decided to observe the station's culture before attempting to make conspicuous contact with the authorities, so the group wandered toward the outskirts of the city. They heard general discussions about station business, couples making plans for the evening, and vendors peddling their merchandise. It seemed a dream, exactly the type of place they'd hope to create, if they ever found a safe haven in which to do so.

As they approached a more residential area, they came across a schoolyard full of small children being taught a lesson on plant life and the ecosystem of the station. When they were a far enough distance away from the school, the Captain stopped them.

"Mark, what do you think?"

Commander Graystone smiled. "I think we've found Haven, Sir."

The Frontiersman[i/]'s Security Chief, Lieutenant Trance Sacho, scowled, as usual. "If they'll have us. Even if this isn't a Dominion trap, why would these people want to suddenly incorporate four hundred and forty aliens into their population?" She was never one to look on the bright side, especially since her husband's death 6 months ago in their last brush with a Jem-Hadar scoutship.

Chief Medical Officer, Lieutenant Commander Jane Vasco, objected to the Lieutenant's scepticism. "We haven't seen or heard anything about the Founders or the Jem-Hadar in weeks, Lieutenant. And this community is clearly not unaccustomed to welcoming refugees. I saw a few Bolians, Vulcans... even a Betazoid in the city center."

"I say we find whoever is in charge and ask for asylum, Captain," Graystone said. "The crew has wondered enough."

Captain Sean Callaghan turned away from his officers, taking in the quite beauty of the place. The schoolyard was nestled next to a small park, surrounded by alien-looking, but still recognizable, homes for small families. He and his wife had dreamt of a place like this for years. Turning back to his people, his voice was resolute, but Commander Graystone sensed the tiniest twinge of meloncholy in it. "I agree."

The group made their way, casually, back into the heart of the city, and Callaghan's First Officer looked for an opportunity to ask his Captain about the meloncholy he had noted. As they rounded a corner and the two were slightly further from the woman, Mark softly asked, "What it is, Sir?"

Callaghan smiled. He realized he'd almost expected the question. "Oh, nothing. I just realized I'm going to miss the ship."

Graystone looked at the older man thoughtfully. "I'm sure we all will, Sir. It was our home."

Keeping his eyes straight ahead, the older man simply said, "I think it's time you started calling me 'Sean'."

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