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Bajoran/Cardassian Border

Stardate: 53243.2

Tigranian had been dreading this moment for the past four days. It was a requirement as Laria’s former commander, but he knew it was also the right thing to do. He just didn’t know if he had the sheer emotional strength to get through it.

He sat in his quarters, elbows on the desk, hands on the sides of this head. He considered taking a couple of gulps of bloodwine, but decided against it. It wouldn’t be right on every level not to have his wits and composure at all times.

Rijo was on the desk next to him, staring with his giant unmoving eyes. He picked up the toy and felt it’s fur. She had spent almost every night of her short life with this pugabeast, and somehow having it near him made her feel less far away. The stuffed animal was becoming as comforting to him as it was to Laria, but only because it brought him to a place where he could imagine her still being there.

However, as a warrior, he had a duty to perform and could not live in idle comfort any longer. He had to be a man, and put aside Rijo.

“Computer,” he said taking a deep breath. “Begin Recording.” He sat back in his chair and stared at the screen.

“Mr. and Mrs. Amira, my name is Captain Daniel Tigranian, and I am Laria’s commander on the U.S.S. Pershing. I express my deepest regrets, that on Stardate 53242.9 we discovered the debris of the runabout she was traveling in en route to a scientific conference on Vulcan.

The runabout had suffered a full warp-core breach. While the investigation is still ongoing, all the evidence suggests that Laria was killed in the explosion.

While I cannot pretend to imagine the pain of losing a child, I can say that her loss has been devastating for both me and my crew. Though we have only been together a few months, we have quickly become a family. Much of that was because of Laria’s loving personality, her amazing and gifted mind, and her beautiful soul.

I had grown very personally close to Laria since her arrival on board, and I am finding it especially difficult to cope with her sudden and tragic loss. She had helped me through some of my own difficult times with her kind words and expressions of her deep faith. I know in my heart that she now walks with the Prophets in their loving arms…”

Up on the bridge, Katie was working late again. Laria’s loss had brought many feelings back that she thought she had finally beaten. Every time she stood idle for a more than few minutes, anger started bubbling to the surface. She refused to accept that the Jem’Hadar had stolen someone else from her life. So, she kept working.

Ensign Gleeto, one of the engineering assistants, was on the night duty officer’s shift that evening, and was being tormented by her relentless attempt to recalibrate the starboard phaser array.

“Try to isolate the nadion frequency in the pre-fire chamber. The resonance is degrading the energy pulse before it hits the emitter stage,” she said not looking up from her console.

“Ma’am,” Ensign Gleeto said rubbing his eyes, “We’ve been at this for over an hour and we’re still not getting any increase in firing efficiency. We’re sitting at 98.2 percent already and that’s two full percentage points over the standard rating.”

“Did I ask for your opinion, Ensign?” she said angrily. “I don’t care if we’re at 99.9 percent. I want to get this system as damn near perfect as we can, are you tracking?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” he said not making eye contact.

A small, red light starting blinking on her communication control panel. She looked over and her legs nearly collapsed.

“The most difficult thing about this,” Tigranian said continuing his letter to Laria’s parents, “is thinking about all the things left undone by her passing….and all the things left unsaid.” He briefly looked away from the screen. “Laria and I had many discussions about the plans for her life, where she wanted to go, and who she wanted to be with. She spoke of you frequently, and the love she had for you. I am very sorry if this is presumptuous of me, but by the way she spoke of you both, I feel a deep connection to your family because…” he paused, drawing every last ounce of resolve to say the words without breaking down, “…I loved your daughter very much.”

“Captain!” Katie screamed through his intercom.

“Computer, pause recording,” he said angered at the interruption. “What is it, Lieutenant Stone?”

“We’ve just received a burst transmission on the Starfleet Emergency Band.”

Tigranian allowed the tiniest amount of hope to rise within him.

“Is it a distress call?” he asked quickly.

“No, the transmission cut out before I could try signaling back, but it contained just one thing…Laria’s comm badge locator signal.”

Tigranian leaned back in chair and exhaled like he had just burst through the surface of an icy river.

“Thank you, Kahless…” he whispered. “She doesn’t dine with you in Sto’Vo’Kor yet.”

“Were you able to locate the source of the signal?”

“Yes Sir, nine lightyears away on the edge of the Badlands. It’s coming from Guada.”

Tigranian froze. First the debris of the Jem’Hadar fighter at the site of her runabout’s destruction and now her comm badge signal from one of the most horrific battlefields of the war. He prayed it was a coincidence, because if the Jem’Hadar were holding her in those jungles, they might never be able to find her.

“Katie, cloak the ship. If there are Dominion holdouts around Guada, we don’t want them to know we’re coming. Set a course for Guada, maximum warp!”

“Yes, Sir!”

As the stars outside his window flashed and then began to streak by, he rose from his chair to head to the bridge. He started for the doors, but then suddenly stopped and turned back towards his desk.

“Computer, delete recording.”

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