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Cptn Swain

The Operation is Over

Several hours later and several thousand light years away, Asher Swain stood quietly near a window on the promenade of Deep Space 9, watching as wounded ships returned from battle through the wormhole. Victory had come at a steep price. Nearly 70 ships had been lost in the battle, and many more -- including his own command -- had been severely damaged. He exhaled as his thoughts wandered briefly to the wounded Excalibur, docked a few decks above him on Pylon 2. The ship itself had taken heavy damage to a number of key systems. A review was already underway to determine if she was salvageable or not, though Tandaris and Miranda seemed positive -- despite themselves -- about the situation.


That, unfortunately, reminded him that Arden was still being operated on aboard the Medical ship Ruby Bradley. The Cheron had taken a considerable amount of damage and Arden had been injured when a bulkhead collapsed on the bridge, shattering his humerus and collapsing his left lung. The doctors were confident that, like Excalibur, he would make a full recovery and were set to send for him when the operation was over.


He stood a while longer, watching as the wormhole opened and another ship emerged. Nearly the entire fleet had transitioned back to the Alpha Quadrant. A few were staying behind to assist in cleanup and to secure the still-unfinished Starbase Lyonnese. Abronvonvich -- who’d made it a point of thanking Swain personally after the battle -- had told him that the President would be addressing the Federation soon to inform them of the outcome of the battle and the he had suggested the Excalibur receive mention, by name, for the heroism of her crew.


“Imagine that,” Swain had said with a chuckle, “command being happy about one Excalibur’s hair brained schemes.” They’d both laughed and Misha had, for the first time, embraced Asher. It was strange, he thought, that now at the end of their road together, that they shared such a moment.


“I really did mean what I said when you returned with Aleksandr,” Misha said, clearing his throat. “It meant more to me than I think you can know that you put everyone -- yourself included -- on the line to save him.


“I realize now that I haven’t always been very respectful to you. I thought,” he said looking away, “I thought you weren’t the right man for this position; that you let your ideals guide you too much -- but I was wrong.”


Swain smiled, thinking back to the moment as he stood on the promenade.


“There will be a ceremony this evening, after the President speaks,” Misha had said. “I want to make sure your crew -- the whole fleet -- that they know how valued they are and how their courage and bravery have not gone unnoticed. I know you’re waiting on Arden’s surgery -- God be good he’ll be fine -- but I hope you can come. If not, I just wanted you to know that. You’re a good man, a fine officer, and a hell of a captain. Starfleet needs more of you and less of me.”


The words echoed in his head as another convoy of ships exited the wormhole. Swain wondered if that was really true. Anyone would have done what he did in that position -- trusted his crew and made the decision that their lives were ultimately less important than the mission.


He sighed and looked back to the window. Beyond his worries about Arden, about all of the injured and wounded, about Excalibur -- he couldn’t help but also think about the future. The world around him was shifting, changing. Even if Excalibur was salvageable, the Federation’s mission in the Gamma Quadrant was effectively over and a reforged Excalibur would be given a new assignment, perhaps once again on the edges of the frontier. For Asher, that meant a decision about a great many relationships.

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