Paul Gadzikowski


T*R*E*K: "Welcome aboard, Captain."

"You know, it's ironic," said Hawkeye suddenly.

Trapper John looked at him. He still looked as numb as Hawkeye felt. Srank didn't look up from the science station.

"Back in the twentieth century," Hawkeye continued, "the atom bomb was thought of as the ultimate weapon. And that's kind of what we used to destroy this 'doomsday weapon'."

"Yeah," said Trapper John. "Ironic."

Then silence hung on the bridge again.

Kellye was still at Hawkeye's post at the helm. He and Trapper John were still over here by Srank's station after reporting ... events to the first officer. Srank had received the report wordlessly, confirmed that the doomsday machine was dead, and started on the red tape. Radar's relief was still at communications - he'd been sent to his quarters sedated.

The command chair was still empty. Hawkeye couldn't understand why the command chair was still empty. "Well, Srank," he said, biting the bullet, finally at a loss for any more small talk, "I guess she's all yours."

Srank got very still. Then he turned to face Hawkeye and Trapper John. For once he was displaying all the Vulcan passionlessness he'd ever aspired to. "No one may relieve the conn officer except the captain or his superiors," he said. Then he turned back to his console.

Hawkeye took several seconds to comprehend this. Then he looked at Trapper John, where he found only helpless sorrow and compassion. He looked back at the command chair; suddenly he seemed to have developed tunnel-vision whereby it was all he could see.

He stepped down to the command module level and toward the chair, Trapper John's step right behind, certain every eye was on him. He stopped just to starboard of it.

"I never wanted it this way," he said.

"I know," said Trapper John, before Hawkeye had finished.

Hawkeye sat in the command chair. "Helm, warp one," he ordered. "Let's get the hell out of here."

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