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  1. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11812.21) The mission came to a close, and the Challenger eased into the shipdock bay it had been assigned at the Utopia Planetia shipyards. John watched the docking over the ship's external cameras, and, as he always did, breathed a small sigh of relief when the big ship came to a complete stop safely inside the bay, and all the mooring lines were attached. Randall was about to address the crew in engineering when the ship's communication officer, Lieutenant Dvokr chim Hok's voice came over the ship's 'com. "All senior officers, report to the bridge," it said, and John sighed. He turned to his second-in-command, and his friend, Lieutenant Jeff Michaels, and raised his eyebrows. "Well, here we go again," Randall said in an exasperated tone of voice, and his long-time friend grinned. "Go do your duty, sir," he replied, and dodged a punch from Randall, laughing. "Get this department ready for the starbase maintenance team, Lieutenant," mock-growled the chief engineer, and Michaels came to mock attention, snapping off the Starfleet salute. "Yes, sir!" he exclaimed, and dodged another punch from Randall, who walked toward the engineering doors shaking his head. Randall walked through the doors, which swished open at his approach, and traveled down the corridor to the turbolift. A car arrived as he pushed the button, and he stepped in, saying, "Bridge." The door slid shut and the lift whisked him away. He arrived a few moments later, and stepped out onto the bridge to face a solemn-looking bridge crew. He was about to say something when his eyes caught the viewscreen, and the image displayed upon it. It was Fleet Admiral Nogura, the commander-in-chief of Starfleet, and Randall knew something was up. He walked over to stand beside the chief science officer of the Challenger, Lieutenant Caitlin Townshend, who gave him a brief glance as he took his place beside her, then both officers looked at the viewscreen. Captain Ja'Lale said, "My senior officers are all present, Admiral." Nogura nodded and looked frankly at them. "Captain, you and your crew have served Starfleet and the Federation well over the years," he said, and John suddenly got a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. "However, after much debate amongst the Federation Council, and us brass here at Starfleet, I have some bad news for you. It has been decided that the starship Challenger has seen its better days, and the mission you just completed will be its last one. The ship is to be decommissioned, and you and your crew will be re-assigned. The Challenger will take its place in history, a place that is well deserved. "This decision was not made lightly, and not without considerable protest, mainly from us here at Starfleet. But, and I dislike intensely saying this, the bureaucrats won the battle. The Challenger has undergone some extensive refits in the past few years, and the bureaucrats argued that the ship's time had come and gone. To our dismay, the Council agreed with them. I, for one, do not like the idea of breaking up one of the best crews, and ships, in the 'Fleet, but the situation is what it is, to coin the ancient phrase. Captain Ja'Lale, you will report at once to my office, and the rest of your crew will be given leave pending their next ship's assignment, if they decide to accept it. "Captain and crew of the Challenger, it was an honor to serve with you, and I wish all of you well in your future endeavours. Your service will not be forgotten, and you have benefitted the Federation greatly in your tenure of service. Nogura out." The admiral faded from view, and the bridge officers looked at one another, stunned. Captain Ja'Lale then walked to stand in front of the viewscreen, and turned to face them. "It has been a pleasure to serve with each and everyone of you," he/it said. "I hope our paths will cross again some day. We have been through a lot together, and I will hold your memories dear in my mind and heart. I also wish you success in whatever your future brings. Dismissed." With that, the captain strode to his ready room, and disappeared inside. The officers stared after him, then looked at each other. A few seconds passed with nothing being said, then John turned and headed for the turbolift. "Deck 3," he said as he entered the car, and the lift sped off. He arrived moments later, and stepped out of the car to hear the captain's voice on the ship's 'com, informing the crew of what had happened. John strode to his cabin, and went inside as the doors opened for him. He walked straight to the sofa and sat down, still not believing what had just taken place. **************3 DAYS LATER***************** John put the last of his possessions into the second duffel bag, then looked around the room. He still couldn't believe he was about to leave this place, and ship, forever. It had been his home for 7 1/2 years, and now it was over. When he left, he would no longer be the chief engineer of the Challenger; he would simply be Lieutenant John Randall, an engineer. He was about to pick up his bags when his computer terminal alarm went off, and he walked over to it. There was a live message coming in for him, and he activated the icon to retrieve it. When he saw who was on the other end, his jaw literally dropped, and he sat there staring at the screen. It was his lady friend T'Mira, the half-Romulan Vulcan who was a deep cover operative for the Vulcan High Command. John hadn't heard from her in months, and now she was on the screen smiling at him. "Hello, John," she said with a gentle smile. "I'm the last person you expected to hear from, I'm sure, but this is the first chance I've had to contact you. I hope it isn't a bad time." Randall said, "Well, you're lucky you caught me. I was just about to leave. I take it you've heard about the Challenger." T'Mira's face instantly fell as she nodded. "Yes, I did, John," she said sadly. "I'm so sorry. I know how much you loved that ship and loved serving aboard her." John shrugged. "Well, as the old Earth saying goes, all good things must come to an end." T'Mira looked at him intently. "You don't really believe that," she replied. "Well, it's happening now whether I want it to or not," Randall said. "I know you, John," the beautiful half-Romulan Vulcan female said. "It's killing you to leave; you just won't show it." John looked at her, then said softly, "You know how I feel," and T'Mira's eyes instantly shone with tears. "John, I contacted you because I have a proposition for you," she replied, and Randall looked at her. "It's not something I want to discuss over the airwaves like this, though," she continued. "I'm currently on Earth in San Francisco. Why don't you come down and we'll talk? Besides, I can't wait to see you again, my darling; it's been far too long." John grinned at that. "That it has, my dear," he intoned, and T'Mira smiled happily. "All right, I'll beam down to Starfleet HQ, then meet you at, say, the Presidio. How does that sound?" She replied, "Perfect, my darling. 15 minutes?" John nodded. "See you in fifteen," he said. T'Mira smiled and said, "I love you." "Love you, too," John replied. "Randall out." He broke contact and leaned back in the chair for a few seconds. His lady friend had found him again, and he was taking full advantage of this opportunity. He got up, grabbed his bags and strode toward the cabin doors. They sprang open as he approached, and he strode out into the corridor, heading for the turbolift. He got in as a car arrived, and said, "Deck 10." The car sped off. Randall later learned that the Challenger was NOT to be decommissioned, it would have a new crew and a new captain. Starfleet had won the fight to keep the ship in service with a massive appeal, and John wished the new crew and captain well. He was happy with his new life with T'Mira, whom he had married in an elaborate ceremony on Vulcan, and had no plans to return to Starfleet. END LOG