I sipped my coffee spiked with some chocolate liqueur. It burned down, it burned good.
"Yeah, worse than the other times too."
Dr. Molly Reginal studied my face, "You know the alcohol doesn't help you."
I smiled, pouring a glass of whiskey and I gulped it down in spite, "I don't let it consume me."
"At least not yet." she interjected.
I tipped the empty glass to her, "Maybe your right."
"Alright, talk to me, tell me again what happened."
I knew the drill, I settled into my bunk and closed my eyes, "They never told us the names of the planets we landed on. I-I-"
The girl? A far away voice asked.
"Yes, I see her, we all see her."
I felt my eyes tearing up, "She's hurt. Bad. The Klingons never meant to harm civilians but war is war. Stuff like this happens on both sides."
The girl was slipping away, I could see her life draining out of her. She was turning ashen gray. I was over her performing every medical technique I could on her, nothing was working.
I radioed, "USS Saluah, one to beam aboard. I say again one to beam aboard!"
Dr. Reginal's voice: "They couldn't hear you?"
"We didn't know. They couldn't hears us. They couldn't of beamed anybody aboard anyhow. The planet was giving off some sort of odd radiation. Nothing could of helped her that day."
Dr. Reginal: "The girl?"
I sobbed, "She died in my arms that day. It became my life goal to help people. To become a Doctor like my father."
"You know," the ships counselor said softly, "You can't save everyone."
It was the end of the session, I sat up and nodded, "A sad truth. But, the images remain in my head. You tend to remember the ones who didn't make it."
I stuck up my hands and counted off, "The girl, a Marine Corporal who was nearly cut in two, the civilian burn victim, The Starfleet Lieutenant who wanted to be a hero and the Pilot of a shuttle we tried to recover."
Dr. Reginal looked puzzled, "The Pilot?"
I nodded, "He had drowned. Unconscious in his crashed shuttle, the water slowly overcame him. But we were after the information the shuttle carried, not him. The poor guy didn't have a chance."
The counselor nodded.
I shrugged, "At least we hoped he had been unconscious."
Sometimes I saw the others too, the sadest one was the Marine Corporal. He had led his men out of an ambush and died a painful and slow death due to injuries he sustained. He had kept his wits enough to save his men and finally succumed to his wounds. I had tried to patch him up but you can't patch up what can't be put back together again. The poor guy had a baby at home. This war was taking it's toll. It wasn't a game. It wasn't 'fun' anymore.
I took another shot of whiskey and detecting how close I was to being out of control I capped the bottle and stowed it away.
"Well, thank you for seeing me today, Doctor. I'll grab some more sleep and be out shortly."
The ship's counselor nodded and stopped just short of leaving, "You know, we have all these machines that can fix an ailing and wounded body. They can repair almost any conceivable problem. Except the ones in here, sir."
She pointed to her head, "You can't fix these until you talk about it and come to terms with it."
I nodded, "Like I said, I'll be out in a few. That'll be all."
* * *
"Status?" I asked as I entered the Bridge.
The B.O.'s stood at attention and I nodded.
"Sir, the ship is ready for warp. Chief Hadley is standing by for emergency repairs."
"Very well number one, thank you. I have the conn."
I sat down in the captain's chair, "Let's make this wreck relive it's glory days shall we? Commo, get ready to send out another SOS if we have problems."
Lieutenant Tuckett nodded, "Aye, sir."
"Helm, get us out of the atmosphere, make your heading towards Serenity Station, full warp."
I could feel the energy flowing through the deck below me, "Secure from silent running, Red Alert."
The Klaxon sounded, "Secure from silent aye. Red Alert." my Number One echoed.
The Tactical Officer, Ensign Phillips turned to me, "Sir, the Klingon ship is locking on to us."
Chief Hadley's voice broke over, "We're having multiply failures, I can't promise our safety!"
"Give it all you got, Chief! We can't take many blows from a warship."
I took in the information around me, a constant flow of reports as the B.O.'s interpreted their screens, "Sound collision." I ordered.
I held my breath, the finest Chief Engineer was racing against a Klingon Weapons Officer. It would be down to the second determining who would be the victor.
"We're at warp, sir!" Ensign Kohn, the Helmsman said.
Seconds later Kohn turned in disappointment, "Coming out of warp, sir."
"Alright, quiet those alarms. All stations report damages." I ordered, frustrated, "TacOps are we away from the Klingon ship?"
A pause, "Yes, sir. We are out of their sensory range."
I thought for a moment as damage reports flooded my awareness, "Rig for silent running. If they pursue us I don't want them on top of us."
"Silent running, aye."
"Fire on the Bridge!"
I barely reacted, "Put that out! TacOps, tell me what's going on out there."
"Sir, the Klingon ship is not in range. No anomolies detected."
"Chief," I asked, "What wrong with the ship?"
"The thing belongs in a museum quite frankly, sir. We need to do a major overhaul of parts when we get to Serenity Station. I'm surprised we haven't had a core breach yet."
I paused, "Well, that's reassuring."
The Chief laughed in response, "We'll have warp in two hours, sir."
"Very well. Medical, whats the damage?"
"Sir, we have 10 wounded. Nothing too serious."
"Alright I want status reports from all stations, any changes and I want to know about it. Commo, we have comms still?"
"Yes, sir." Lt. Tuckett answered.
"Let Serenity Station know our new ETA and also give them the position of the Klingon. Maybe the Klingon's will appreciate a more suitable adversary."
Tuckett smiled, "Aye, sir."