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#13

An End of an Era

With only four months left in space for the Enterprise crew, Lt. Kirk and his wife Dr. Jo had been discussing their future plans. Lt. Kirk's step-mother had left them a sizable amount of money to "do some good" with and they were making their plans.

Lt. Kirk was at his post as helmsman on the Bridge and was watching the star screen ahead of him. He would always miss being out in deep space, but God was leading him into another direction. He wasn't giving up space travel forever, he was going to use his talents in other ways.

Captain Kirk had just finished signing off of several ships reports and sipped his lukewarm cup of coffee. He made a face and stood up from the command chair.

He nodded to Mr. Spock as he started to leave, but stopped and spoke to his son, "Lt. Kirk, would you follow me, please?"

"Yes, Captain," he awaited for another Ensign to replace him at his post.

They walked to the "dress down" conference room off of the Bridge.

"Grab some coffee while we talk, Lieutenant."

Lucas was unsure what he had done to be called to the room with the Captain, and he wasn't really interested in more coffee.

"No, thank you, sir."

The Captain sat across from his while Lucas looked for any sign of anger in his father's eyes. He relaxed but he also knew the Captain had a way of laying a trap and then pouncing on you with discipline. He ran through his mind his actions for the last few weeks and could think of nothing out of the ordinary that would cause him to be in trouble.

The Captain sipped his coffee and looked directly at him, "Lucas, you've been unusually quiet on the Bridge for quite awhile. Is there something on your mind?"

Lucas quietly sighed relief and answered, "No, sir, not really. Have I caused you concern at the helm, sir?"

The Captain set his cup down and replied, "No, not at all. I know you, Lucas, and I just want you to know you can talk to me about anything."

Lucas looked down at the table and hesitated. He knew he had to talk to him about his future, but saying it out loud made it more real.

"There is something," the Captain stated.

"Yes, Dad, but I'm not ready to talk about it, yet."

"I, see." He sipped more coffee and glanced at him again. "I'm here when you need me," and he stood to leave.

Lucas watched as he neared the door and blurted, "Dad."

The Captain turned and waited.

"Have a seat, please."

The Captain sat down and Lucas slowly explained the plans that he and Jo had been talking about for months. The Captain listened with patience and nodded several times.

"What do you think, Dad? Are you disappointed in me wanting to leave Starfleet?"

His father smiled and said, "I am very surprised, but you'll command differently. We're two different people. Are you sure this is what you want?"

"I know, Dad, but I've been thinking about this for almost a year now. I want to fly, but I don't want to captain a ship. We want to start a family, Dad, and I won't be separated from Jo and my family."

"It must have been very painful and lonely for you while I was gone when you were young?"

Lucas nodded his head and looked into his father's eyes. "Dad, when I first came to the Enterprise, I was angry with you, and I took risks that weren't appropriate just to show you that I was as good as you. I didn't realize at first what I was doing until Jo came aboard and she pin pointed out my errors. Plus, SJ brought my anger to my attention several times. But, I've grown up a lot in the last few years, and I hope I've become a better man and I hope I learned how to be a better man from your example."

His father said, "Lucas, you have grown up and matured to a fine young man, and I want you to do what you want to do. I hope that the money Miriam left you hasn't made you question your dreams and feel burdened with what she left you?"

"No, Dad. I've doubled the money she left us in our investments and I have prayed daily to God to let me know what His wishes are for us. It comes down to doing God's will, because he knows what's best for me and Jo. We both have talked about this and prayed and feel this is where He is leading us now."

He looked at his father and noticed a shimmer in his eyes.

The Captain cleared his voice and said, "Right now, I have never been more proud of you in my life."

Lucas smiled and reached for his father's hands, "That makes me feel very good, Dad. I have a lot of things I want to go over with you and Dr. McCoy once Jo tells him. We need your guidance and ideas and we welcome your criticism if you think we're doing something wrong."

The Captain stood and said, "When you want to talk, don't hesitate to come to me, son."

Lucas walked to his side of the table and they embraced each other, "Thanks, Dad. We'll talk soon."

"Back to your post, Son."

"Aye, sir."

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Lucas had informed Jo the previous night of his conversation with his father. She arrived early in sickbay for her shift and met her father in his office.

"Morning, Dad."

"Well, good morning, Jo, how are ya today?" he said with a slight southern twang.

"I'm good, but I have something important to talk with you about, if you have time?"

"Sit down, grab your coffee, what's bothering you?"

For the next half hour she explained to her father what she and Lucas were going to be doing. He patiently nodded and waited for her to finish. A small smile crept onto his face and his bright blue eyes twinkled with happiness.

"At last, I don't have to worry about you being out here getting hurt. Your mother will be very happy, too."

He stood up and came around to her side of his desk and hugged her. "I'm excited for you, Jo. I have so many questions that I'm sure you don't have answers for, yet."

"Like what, Dad?"

"Where will you be located, how big of a place, equipment you'll need, a home and most important," he paused and said softly, "are you pregnant right now?"

She leaned back and looked at her father and laughed, "Oh, Dad, you'd be so happy if I were, wouldn't you?"

"I'd be as happy as a peach in July."

She laughed out loud and said, "Dad, you'll be the first to know when that happens, but we have a lot of planning to do, and I want your input into the clinic and anything you think we'd need," she paused and said, "in fact you haven't said anything about your plans yet, but I want you to know, there's always a place for you anytime you want to come, Dad."

"Darlin', I'm still working on my plans, and I'll let you know. Now get to work, we start the final physicals for all of the crew today."

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Two months passed quickly for the crew. Dr. McCoy asked pertinent questions during all of the physicals to judge the amount of anxiety about ending their last

mission with Captain Kirk as captain of the Enterprise. He finished his final report and sat with the Captain and Mr. Spock in the Captain's quarters.

"Jim, 99% of the crew are experiencing sadness and anxiety about not serving with you for another term. Many are searching for other options and everyone wants to know if our pointy-eared friend will finally take his captainship this time."

Spock spoke quickly, "I assure you both, again, I have no desire to captain the Enterprise. It is not my wish, nor has it ever been my wish."

Bones swallowed the last of his shot of bourbon and stood, "Well, you two, I am turning in early. We still have two months of work to do out here. I'd like to talk with both of you about our futures, when you feel it's time to share your decisions."

Kirk looked up with a sadness in his eyes, nodded to his friend and said, "Good night, Bones."

McCoy waved a hand as the door opened and closed.

Kirk and Spock sat in familiar silence and were each deep in thought.

"Well, my friend, the time has come hasn't it?"

"Yes, it is upon us," he looked at his captain and continued, "Jim, I will not captain a ship."

"I know, Spock, even though I think you'd be great, but I understand. Can I ask what your plans are?"

"I have been offered a teaching job in the Astrophysicist Department at the Academy. I believe this would suit my desires quite well."

Kirk smile slowly, "Then I'll see you often, my friend."

A smile only a close friend would catch appeared on his face, "It seems that way."

Kirk said, "I am relieved, Spock. Now, we have to see where Bones thinks he'll be. We can talk with him tomorrow, let's finish our game."

Spock turned to face the chess game and took his turn.

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SJ and Anna were invited to Lucas and Jo's room for dinner. They laughed and clattered the few pans and dishes they had in their small kitchenette, preferring not to use the replicator.

They finished their meal and removed all of the dishes.

SJ said, "Alright, you two, what did you bring us here to discuss?"

Lucas chuckled, "Have a seat at the table." He brought over his computer and brought up the material he wanted to show them.

He began to tell them what they had decided to do. He showed them the areas of North America that they could service, but most importantly they told them what God was leading them to do.

Anna listened intently and Lucas could sense a change in his friend.

"SJ, what are you thinking?"

SJ hesitated and looked Lucas in the eye, "My friends, I am proud of you that you have chosen this vocation to serve, but I will miss seeing and living with you two on a daily basis."

Jo had tears in her eyes and she reached across the table and grasped one of each of their hands. "We will miss you two immensely. We want you to know that there will always be an opening for a devoted doctor and an experienced pilot with a love of science in our clinic."

All four found it hard to speak. Lucas's eyes glistened with unshed tears and SJ nodded to him in understanding.

Lucas cleared his throat and looked aside to wipe a tear, "What are you two planning on doing?"

Ana and SJ looked at each other and he nodded.

Ana spoke first, "We are going to serve another term out in deep space. We hope it's the Enterprise."

Jo asked, "Another five years out in space?"

Ana nodded and looked away from her friends.

SJ said, "We were given a choice and we decided it was best for us for now. I had hoped that my Father would accept the position of Captain, but he has turned it down."

Lucas asked, "Have you talked with your Father about your decisions yet?"

SJ said, "Yes, he has given us his acceptance, too. What did your fathers have to say?"

Jo laughed and said, "You know, Dad, he wants me safe and out of danger. I told him I could easily be injured on Earth, too. but he's happy and he's offered to take six months and help us to set up the clinic."

"Lucas?" SJ asked.

"Dad wanted to make sure I wasn't being pressured to drop out of Starfleet because Miriam had given us this money, but I have been restless this past year. I knew we were being led somewhere else, and we've spent months going over the idea. I know Starfleet has invested a lot of money in our training, but I think we have given them many years of service in return."

A sadness enveloped the four friends because they knew their time together was coming to an end.

Lucas stood up and said to SJ, "Let's take a walk."

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

The two roamed the halls of the Enterprise in silence walking slowly with no destination in mind. After a half an hour of silence, Lucas led SJ to the flight deck. They put in their security clearance numbers and wandered onto the massive deck that held 25 fighter planes and 10 of the most modern shuttle crafts available.

The smell of oil, fuel, dirt, grime and fear permeated the room. Their steps softly echoed as they walked down the main aisle and observed the beauty of the elongated shape of the planes and the boxy, but mobile shape of the shuttle crafts. Lucas led him to #12, his shuttle craft that he was always assigned to.

They climbed aboard and each took a seat. Lucas spun his chair around to face his friend. He knew he could always depend on SJ for honesty, devotion and trust.

"SJ, I wanted to tell you earlier, but I just told my Father last week. Plus, Jo and I didn't want to influence you and Ana in your decision."

"My friend, you have been unusually quiet these past weeks and I have sensed turmoil. I knew you were thinking about what direction to take, but this does surprise me."

"SJ, when you and Ana lost your baby, it really hit us hard, and that's when I started thinking about wanting to have a family. I will not be separated from Jo or our children like my father was from us. I have prayed on this, SJ, and I believe this is the right decision for us."

SJ smiled and said, "Lucas, this is a good move for you. We've had many a conversation on how impossible it would be for us to follow in our father's footsteps. You have chosen wisely."

Lucas reached across and shook his extended hand. "SJ, I will miss you."

"And I you, my friend."

They stood and hugged each other and took the long walk back to their quarters.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

After Lucas and SJ left, Jo turned to her friend and colleague. "You seem unsure about our decision, Ana."

Ana shook her head and said, "No, not at all, I'm just unsure of our decision. I'm not sure I am ready for another five year voyage in deep space. I'm hoping it will just be three years."

"Does SJ know you're unsure?"

"Yes, I can't hide anything from him, but he assures me that this would be his last voyage out."

"But you have your doubts?" Jo asked.

"I am twenty-eight years old and I want to have a family. When we lost our baby, it left a longing for more children that I didn't know I had in me. I'm the most surprised by that admission, I'll tell you."

Jo laughed, "There's still time to change your minds."

"I can't tell, SJ to give up his desire to explore, and I can't stand being separated from him."

"You both can be transferred to a Starbase. You don't have to serve on a starship."

"We thought of that, but there are no openings for both of us, as of now. I think what you two are doing is wonderful, Jo. What can we do to help?"

"Well, I'd like your input on the clinic. Dad has been a great help, but if you have any contacts in the Great Lakes area, we need to find a home with enough property to build a storage garage for at least two shuttle crafts and I also want to hire nurses, but first we have to find a place to live."

"Jo, this is so exciting to be planning a home and a new clinic. I'll put my thinking cap on and see if I can help in anyway. For now, I better get to bed, 0600 comes earlier everyday."

They stood and hugged each other. When Ana left, Jo knew that she was troubled. Lucas arrived several moments later.

Lucas kissed his wife and said, "I wish those two would come and work with us."

"Me, too, Lucas. Ana is not too keen on spending three to five years out in space."

"But, SJ seemed to think this was their best option."

"We have to let them work it out, Lucas. It's not our business."

"You know something, don't you?" he pulled her to him, "I know that look, you two talked and now something is different."

She leaned back and looked into his baby blue eyes, "Lucas, I can't tell you what we talked about, but Ana needs to talk with SJ again, and that's all I'm going to say about it."

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The last two months in space ended without any dangerous missions. They spent most days transporting goods and people to various areas of the galaxy. One last visit to Vulcan and they were within one day of orbiting Earth.

As the Captain sat in his chair he became quiet and the Bridge crew tried to make his days happy and cheerful. The last night the crew had planned a send off party for he and the crew. They included their last comments in a video with plenty of humor thrown in. They all viewed it together in the large recreation room. Those on shift had viewers in their areas and watched from their departments.

The Captain and Mr. Spock said a few final words of thanks and admiration for the finest crew in Starfleet. The Captain left the stage with Mr. Spock on his right and Dr. McCoy on his left.