December 1st 2295
The captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise stood with his chief science officer near a piece of refitted hull plating on Deck 15. In later years, neither would be able to recall which of them said first that it was just a spot. It was a spot they would return to on that day every year they could.
The captain of the U.S.S. Excelsior looked at a picture of the daughter he had lost to a fate more random and cruel than some, though he had known others who had died less peacefully and more deliberately. He then looked at a picture of a man he desperately wanted to be both nothing like and exactly like, all at once. He stared briefly at both pictures, and realized anew that in neither case had he been given a chance to personally say goodbye.
A relatively new Federation Ambassador sat, as he had for the entire day, waiting by a BellComm terminal in his quarters. Logic dictated that it was foolish to wait for a message from one who he knew could never send it, and that it was equally foolish to dismiss that possibility, when one considered the individual in question. No message came.
A very senior Federation Ambassador did something nearly unthinkable. He interrupted intensely private grieving for his beloved bondmate to grieve for another. Yet the grieving felt contiguous. The man he mourned for a full hour had brought his son back from the dead. Had this death persisted, surely he would have lost his bondmate that much earlier. When all happy times now seemed dust in his throat, this small piece of logic amid the grief started the slow process of his own coming back to life.
The acting, and soon to be regular, captain of the U.S.S. Hyperion did not stop and grieve. For she knew that the best tribute to the man now gone one year was to deliver her ship and her borrowed crew safely home. Later that day, she made the mistake of speaking with the captain of the Enterprise, and the sight of the last chair her mentor had ever occupied made this strong woman withdraw to her quarters. She did not allow herself to cry, fearful that she might have trouble stopping in time for her next (and inevitable) summons to the bridge.
On that bridge in her stead was a young woman thought of the lost great man not in terms of her loss, for she had been in a declining mental state when the man had passed. No, she thought of the man like her father, and how he was coping. She thought of the man she would soon serve as First Officer, and the burdens he bore, both in that loss and well beyond it. She thought very much of the man who seemed to hold more and more of her heart in his hands, mourning his legendary uncle only a little less this year. When one temporary crewmember innocently joked that another could go right on quoting regulations, her own realized grief nearly overwhelmed learned Vulcan controls.
In an odd remove of a relatively nearby sector of space, as yet unexplored for reasons scientific and bureaucratic, lay a technological marvel of the ages, something to rival the best of the Iconians at their height. That it had flash-fried all who dwelled within was just another irony of the cold vacuum. On its great skin lay a small crashed ship that had only two survivors struggling to stay alive. In the name of one lost great man, another had worked one last great miracle. After all, he reasoned within his brilliantly-conceived stasis, he had to be alive to gloat when their captain returned, alive and well.
An old country doctor lay in the arms of a woman most of his closest friends had never met and yet all would recognize, were he to permit them to see her. Both, it could be argued, could have set aside all grieving for their dearest friend, as they neared the agonizing anniversary of every parents worst nightmare, this twice again. He would have understood as few others did. But they did not forget him, nor did they mourn. Instead, they endlessly watched a holovid of their darling boys playing with their favorite uncle, at a time when it seemed evil had been defeated at last. They only turned it off when the memory of love hurt more than the mourning process ever could.
On a ship he was inspecting personally as a sign of the glories its captain had achieved in battle, one of three greatest living Klingons was chafing at the fact that they were actually going to grow old. He further chafed at the fact that no matter what happened to this ship, it would never place him into the position of contending with the one foe truly worth fighting, or on rare occasions, the one questionable ally worth having at ones side. Inwardly, he mused that he could take Grethor and all of Feklhrs mockery, if only his foe was waiting for him, arrogantly gesturing with his fingers to let the battle commence.
To most in the galaxy, Stardate 9591.5 (December 1st 2295, by old Earth reckoning) merely passed as days usually did, and seemed a day just as any other, with only a random news report mentioning Captain James T. Kirk on the first anniversary of his death.
For December 2nd was waiting, as the day after always did.
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This story can be found in printed form in ORION ARCHIVES -- 2294-2400
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