It was weird at first, knowing that I wasn't going to be Captain of the U.S.S. Geist. I'd been captain of her crew for almost 10 years. Not very long in terms of some captains, but still long enough for her to be my home, and her crew my family. Especially after I'd lost my son five years back. He was the last of my real family so it's only natural that the crew would become more important to me. It didn't sit well with me that I had to leave her, but life and Starfleet have one thing in common, and that's that they're full of unexpected surprises. There was little notice before hand. I hate that. I've always been a tactician, a planner. I'd prefer to know as much as possible well in advance so I can plan accordingly. I'd felt especially close to two of my officers. Well... one officer and one "civilian liaison". Dr. E'Saul was the Chief Medical Officer and Counselor of the Geist. She had no sense of humor being Vulcan and all, but she had a sharp wit all her own. The other was a genetically engineered killing machine, one whom even E'Saul would be surprised when he became like a surrogate son to me.
He'd only been on board for the last three years or so but he'd made himself as invaluable as any one else on the crew. With the type of work the Geist usually ended up with the entire crew would have made any captain proud. Section 31 was a constant provider of our missions as well as finding our selves frequently on the Borg front. With a crew of one fifty it was tight knit and well oiled. They knew each others strength and weaknesses and made the ship all the better for it. Damn fine, all of them. I was proud of them, proud to be allowed the privilege of calling myself their Captain. You could see it on their faces as I went through the corridor for the last time. I was moving to a much smaller vessel, and I wasn't happy with it. I knew the halls, I knew the systems, the ins and outs, every tiny bit and nuance. I had trusted the crew with my life on numerous occasions as they trusted me. Even when all my faith in the universe was gone, I could always find it again on my ship, in my crew.
They knew I wouldn't want any thing special, the entire crew knew that. It was bad enough I didn't want to leave the ship, but I certainly didn't want a big show of it. Of course as I came down the corridor that's exactly what I received. Some of my crew were crying, others were fighting the urge, all saluted me. I wish I could have said something, that I could find the words... I progressed slowly. My commission here was over. It was time to move on to the next ship. It seems they all lined the path to see me off. My next ship was small and sleek. Not the kind of place a captain wants to find them selves in during war time. This ship had been my home for a decade, and to think that I was losing that home and the people in it. Even my long time friend Fleet Admiral Aviess had come over on the Icarus to see me off. Mind you she had been overseeing deployment in the Onias sector, so it was no small commute.
I came through the corridor and the doors to the bay slide open. Inside was my senior staff, all dressed in their formals. Even Wraith was wearing something other than the flight suit I'd issued him. I wanted to laugh because it was also the first time I'd seen him with his hair neatly combed. I'm sure Dr. E'Saul or Chief Fine had a hand in that as well as picking his suit. I was a little surprised when a few of them decided to get up and start talking. This was already more of a show that I'd wanted, but I couldn't have stopped them if I'd wanted. I was too touched. I knew I'd made a good impression on them but not to the extend that they would go on about. It was funny because even E'Saul had to pause a moment, nearly breaking that famous Vulcan control. So many of my crew.... of the Geist's crew... had some thing to say, I was late for my own departure. As every one finished their speeches and said their good byes, I was ready for my next commission.
For the first time today things became formal. All the crew gathered for one final salute. The Admiral finally spoke giving the finest speech I'd ever heard her give. It was time for me to go. Commander Keating blew the boatswain for me as they folded the Federation flag and handed it to Wraith and E'Saul. They launched the photon casing housing my body, the last vessel I'd ever Captain.
The Bolian sighed as they rounded another corner, "Captain, that's unfair. I loved that ship."
" 'Loved'? Past tense?" his captain pressured.
He let loose a soft grunt, "Don't look into it." The two men made their way through Utopia Planitia Shipyards, their idle conversation bouncing between one another while they continued to the scaffolding viewing platform.
"I want your honest opinion, not your expert one."
There was a sigh before the response, "As your chief engineer; the ship's super structure went though a lot of stress. Structural integrity fields are meant as an emergency feature, we ran them for over a week straight. In fact, I'm still impressed about that."
"You're avoiding the-"
"She's a young ship and has that going for her. But Long Range Science vessels really aren't all that hardy."
"We'll keep that in mind for the next one," the captain hazarded. The fact he wasn't corrected was a sign he was unfortunately expecting.
"Frankly, I am damn pleased at how well she did and how the crew handled her. We practically flew a flying block of swiss cheese into Utopia Planitia. You know, I was actually tempted to try going into warp when we got here? Just to see if the Warp Nacelles would go flying off. The fields held up long enough for us to pack up and get everyone and near everything off at a leisurely pace. Heck, baring running into any more problems we could probably keep the system going for another week."
"Yeah, but now that we're here and we're going to turn the system off... did you make any bets? Will she hold together? You're the luckies son of a Bolian I know," the colorful comment caught his friend's ire, "I figure if you made a bet that she'd stick together she has a chance."
"I didn't make any bets," there was a pause as the two came to the door, "But, as your friend, unless you are really tired of those fish your girlfriend keeps in the ready room, I hope you made sure to have them beamed into a different tank." The captain's head craned to the side, honestly he didn't remember if he'd done that or not.
"Oh well, if they were that important to her... she'd remember," the joke was a thin mask over his suddenly heavy heart.
As they entered the viewing room overlooking the scaffolding containing their Long Range Science vessel they were greeted by something that was already akin to a casual funeral. The first officer stood with her arms crossed, staring at the ship as if she willed it together. Nearby a Klingon science officer cracked her knuckles nervously which was the only sign that her resolute and "honor-bound in the face of death" expression hoped to be unneeded. One of the ship's "exchange officers", an Orion Engineer, sat halfway on a counter rapping her fingers audibly on her elbow while trying not to look at the starship. The only one with a casual, yet worried, smile was the Cardassian Ensign standing at a the Tractor Beam controls which currently held the ship in place. His slight nod was the only reaction from anyone that the captain had even entered the room.
Chief Engineer Onihill went to the console that all the ship's remote commands were routed to while the captain walked up to the window. The ship was a mess, black and beaten. The blue holes that specked the ship marked the many spots where the emergency bulkheads were in place. She was a tough little ship to get them home, but, he'd seen that look before. When you spend some of your youth on a farm you get acquainted with the look something gives when it is ready to die. Finally, for a brief moment, he put his hand up on the window pane. After which he turned around, the bridge crew looking to him. He stood there for a moment with a somber look on his face, but had nothing to say.
With a resolute voice he announced, "Well, let's do this..." before turning to face the ship again, "cut the power."
The small blue and yellow lights flickered for a half second before going dark... then the ship began to simply drift apart.
It hadn't bothered with any form of pause before it happened, which was something her former captain appreciated. They could all live without the suspense of watching it there and waiting for it to makeup its mind whether it'd live or die. It just pieced away in the eeire silence of space.
There was audible distress from the officers, some of it colorful, but quiet. The most belligerent of which coming from the Orion. Oni buried his eyes in the console after mumbling something that sounded like the name "Frederick" while beside him the Cardassian lowered his head, devoting himself to using the scaffold tractor beams to arrest the larger chunks of debris. The nearby Trill made an exasperated "pbrpbrpbrpbr" sound as they exhaled heavily through their lips. The most amusing to the captain was the First Officer's who had quickly turned her head away, unable to watch any further.
Seeing the reactions from his crew, the captain put his hand back on the window and said the only solid words in the room. Simple and frank.
A voice pipped in from behind him, "John, where are my fish?"