Captain's Log: Stardate 54451.0. After a successful and uneventful handover with Captain Quan and the USS Nelson at Garnrik IV, we have officially been relieved of Cardassian State border security for another four months. After crossing into Bajoran space, we have rendezvoused with the starship, USS Gemini which will transport Captain Geist and Max back to Earth as we continue our patrol schedule in Federation Space. The IKS HoS and her escorts will remain alongside the Pershing as far as Vulcan before breaking off and heading home.
On a note that might be too personal for this recording, I am relieved that my brother and sister-in-law will be with us for a few more days. I have no doubt that the loss of Annabeth Geist and her son will be felt deeply throughout this entire crew. Though I pray it is only a temporary loss, the new normal will be a bit empty for the foreseeable future…"
The doors to the transporter room opened. Alex walked in carrying Max while Annabeth carried a bag. The rest of the luggage, including Max's new bat'leth, would be beamed over and waiting for them in her guest quarters on the Gemini. Tigranian, Laria, and the rest of the senior staff filtered in behind them to say their last goodbyes. Torlek and Elessa were there as well. It seemed appropriate as they were now saying farewell to a member of the family.
"I never thought I'd say this," Scharr said as his antenna curled, "but I don't know how this ship is going to run without you, Ma'am," he said looking towards Annnabeth.
"It is true," T'les added. "We seem to have reached a stable efficiency level. Any change in variables will no doubt take a great deal of time to correct itself."
"Thank you, T'les," Annabeth replied. "I think…"
"You are most welcome," the Vulcan replied. Alex looked over to her wife and furrowed her brow. Annabeth knew it was time to finally come clean.
"We are gonna miss you, Ma'am," Phil said. "Especially with this one sitting in your chair," he said nodding towards Katie.
"Phil, are you sure you want to piss off both your fiancée and the woman who now makes the duty roster?"
The group laughed but Annabeth finally raised her hands.
"Well Phil," she began slowly. "You don't have to worry because I'm not going anywhere."
"What?" Laria said shocked.
"I am," Alex said adjusting Max in her arms.
"What are you talking about?" Tigranian asked totally confused. "You're my Chief Medical Officer."
"Actually Sir," Alex said as the color drained from her face. "As of 1200 hours today, I'm not. Two weeks ago, I received an offer from Starfleet Medical for a yearlong visiting professorship teaching Comparative Anatomy at the Academy. I accepted."
"You've known this for two weeks and you didn't tell me?" Tigranian said almost shouting. "Why not?"
"Because I knew you would try to talk us out of it," Alex said. "I know how particular you are about your doctors. Don't worry. I handpicked a replacement for you. His name is Lieutenant Commander Kinzo Katan and he's a trauma specialist from Betazed. We interned together. He'll rendezvous with the Pershing the day after tomorrow at Canara III."
Tigranian still shook his head in disbelief.
"How did the captain of this ship not know this was going on?" Tigranian said holding back anger.
"Because who is it that handles the personnel transfers on a starship?" Annabeth asked. Tigranian closed his eyes and pursed his lips as he understood.
"You do as the first officer."
"Alex wanted time to bond with Max. I wanted to say onboard and keep working. It seemed like the best solution," Annabeth said.
Tigranian looked as if he ready to explode
"You had no right to do this without consulting me first…" he began angrily. However, Lady Elessa shouted:
"Mev'yap!" Everyone turned to look at her. She switched to tlhIngan Hol so Tigranian could save face in front of his officers. "They had every right! Listen closely, Son of Tigranian. Perhaps you need reminding because you spend too much of your life around barbarians. We are Klingons! In a Klingon House, the ladies have absolute authority in all domestic matters. All men, including my husband, follow our commands in such things. That child is now a member of the House of Torlek, and therefore under my charge. If the mothers of Maximilian believe that Alexandra should return to Earth with the child, then it will be so."
"My Lady," Tigranian said desperately pleading as the others watched in amazement. No one but Torlek understood anything that was going on. "They are my officers and this is my ship…"
"Elessa, perhaps he is right…" Torlek said desperate to defend his brother.
"His command means nothing when it comes to our children!" Elessa replied with a glare like polished baakonite. "The Son of Tigranian will obey or I will kill him," she said turning to Tigranian. "Is that understood?"
Tigranian dropped his gaze. A sharp glance from Elessa caused Torlek to follow suite.
"Understood clearly, My Lady," Tigranian replied.
"Good!" Elessa said suddenly beaming with a large smile. The captain then turned to back to Annabeth and Alex.
"Best of luck to you, Alex," he said with a grin. "I hope you and Max have a safe trip."
Everyone else present was dumbstruck. Laria leaned to Torlek and whispered,
"What did she say to him?"
"You may want to ask my wife that," Torlek replied. "You have powers beyond your belief."
"Oh, well thank you, Dan," Alex said balancing Max on her hip. Annabeth handed the bag she was carrying to her wife. Then, Alex climbed on top of the transporter pad.
It was at that moment that Annabeth finally came to the full realization that she was about to say goodbye to her wife and son. She covered her nose and mouth with her hands to hold back imminent tears.
"It's going to be great," Alex said holding up Max for a final goodbye. It was obvious to everyone that she was fighting back her emotions as well. Everyone grew very quiet. "We'll be able to live in our place in Munich, and I'll drop off Max everyday with my parents in Toronto on the way to work," she looked down into Max's face. "Gran and Grandpa are going to love this little Timbit. They said they can't wait to meet you."
"What is a Timbit?" Elessa whispered to Torlek in tlhIngan Hol. He shrugged his shoulders in ignorance.
"And he'll get to spend his first Christmas in Germany…even if Mommy can't be with him…" Annabeth said clenching her eyes tight.
"We'll wait," Alex said desperately. "Christmas doesn't come till we're all together again."
"No," Annabeth said shaking her head. "I want him to visit the Munich Christmas Market, and see the snow, and I want you to have a hot Gluhwine as you show him every lighted tree on the Marienplatz. And I want holophotos of everything!"
"Don't worry, they'll be more pictures than you can handle."
Nobody knew what to say as the wives stared at each other.
"Sir," Chief Carter finally said softly to Tigranian. "The Gemini is signaling they're ready for transport." Tigranian nodded and looked towards Laria. The Bajoran leaned over and squeezed Annabeth's hand.
"Ich liebe dich, mein Liebling," Annabeth said holding up her hand to Max. "And I love you," she said gazing at Alex. The doctor kissed the fingers on her free hand and held them up towards her wife.
Annabeth cleared her throat and took a deep breath.
"Chief," she said trying to still trying to hold herself together. "Energize."
Alex and Max were surrounded with blue, sparkling light. Then, in a flash, they were gone.
"Chief, could you give us all a minute?" Tigranian said looking over his shoulder to Carter.
"Yes Sir," he said shutting down the transporter and then stepping out into the corridor. As soon as he was gone, Annabeth broke down. She buried her face in her hands and sobbed.
"I don't know what's come over me, but I just want my baby back already," Annabeth said through her tears.
"Laria, T'les," Katie said motioning for their other two friends to come over. She then put an arm around Annabeth. "C'mon, Mama Bear, we need to get a stiff drink into you." Lady Elessa walked over and also pulled Annabeth into an embrace.
"If memory serves, you didn't have much of a taste for bloodwine when you visited my home. Perhaps, now is the time to try again. There is a reason why Klingon mothers call it, 'The Courage of Kahless.'"
Annabeth nodded in agreement.
"It is a good thing I had a barrel of our estate's best vintage beamed over to your ship this morning…" Elessa said.
The newly formed maternal support group headed out into the corridor.
"That was really rough," Phil said looking towards the doors. "I hope she'll be alright."
"She will be," Scharr said as his antennae straightened. "She's strong. It'll just take some time."
Tigranian remained silent. It was hard enough to lose Max, but he had spent the past few weeks preparing to say farewell to Annabeth. Now, his friend and CMO had disappeared instead. This ship and its crew were his family. Losing any of them was difficult enough, but for it to happen so unexpectedly made it far worse.
He was actually happy that Elessa violently reminded him of his obligations as a Klingon warrior. It made him remember that there can never be true love without sacrifice, and that it was sometimes a warrior's duty to say goodbye.