Cheon sat alone on the observation lounge, staring out into the blackness of space at the distant brightness of a pulsar that the Denver was now observing.

‘God, I despise these damn scientific exploration expeditions,’ he thought as he heard the doors open.

“Rebecca,” he knew who had arrived.

“Cheon,” the Denver’s former CO greeted. “How are you?”

“Going insane,” he said, turning to face his old friend. “So what do I owe this surprise visit?” he inquired.

“My grand baby,” Rebecca said with a smile. “Aimee and Dougal had a girl.”

Cheon gazed at his old friend, puzzled. “You came all the way out here just to tell me about them?” He inquired, “A simple…” He hesitated, cocking his head to the side. “Oh no, there’s another thing. I recognize that expression.”

“No, you were just going my way,” Rebecca said as she took a seat next to Cheon. “I’m too old for malarkey.  You remember Órlaith? She’s in command of the Andromeda. A ship I believe you are scheduled to rendezvous with. The Andromeda is heading to Earth to pick up supplies for the Avalon Fleet Yards.  Aimee and Dougal are on the Andromeda.”

“Not for another week,” he stated as he looked over the shoulder of Rebecca at the chronometer that was on the wall. His eyes then widened when he realized what time it was let alone what day it was. “Wait are you telling me that I have a rendezvous with the Andromeda in two days,” he said out loud not realizing that the time spend in observation had passed so quickly. 

“The older you get the faster time flies,” she said. Removing her glasses and massaged the bridge of her nose she sat back in the chair. “I’m glad to see the Denver still out here and I was pleasantly surprised you were in the center chair.”

Cheon let out a sigh as he stared at Rebecca. “She was inactive. I had to cash in all my favors to keep her from being ripped apart for parts,” he said as he rose up and stared out at the pulsar that was a bright beacon in front of them.

He reached over and touched on a console. “Helms, get us ready in an hour and calculate a course for the Andromeda.” 

“Denver’s not that old,” Rebecca said surprised.  “There are older ships in the fleet.” Standing she moved to the replicator.  She still moved with grace, but there was a slit hitch in stride from her left side that she covered up fairly well. “Coffee, black.” The replicator hummed and cup appeared on the platform. Removing it she turned to Cheon, “You want anything?”

“I know,” Cheon explained, “but for some reason, she was dry-docked and scheduled to be demolished for her parts.” While watching her move, he observed the minor hitch but said nothing about it. As she ordered her drink, a smile crossed his lips. “Earl Grey with a splash of Shochu,” he said, a cheeky and mischievous smirk on his face.

Replicating Cheon’s drink she returned handing him his tea before sitting down. Taking a sip she smiled, “My coffee recipe is still in the memory banks.”

The smile remained even after Rebecca had handed him the drink, “Everything is still there,” Cheon replied, “Including…” he tapped the console once more and the room became flooded with holographic images of the old crew.

“We’ll, isn’t that something?” Rebecca had a nostalgic expression on her face. “The best of times and the worst of times.”

“I had a feeling that this was going to be used,” Cheon stated as he stood next to Rebecca. “You know we could always go to the holos and relive these days.” 

Rebecca frowned looking at Cheon, “Why would I want to do that?  That’s a fantasy.  Here… here is what’s important.  Seeing you again. Seeing Órlaith,  Aimee,  Dougal and the baby.  That’s what matters.”

Cheon turned away from Rebecca and at the same time tapped the console. As his finger slipped away from the console he lowered his head and closed his eyes, fighting back the tears and the anger. Swallowing hard he looked back out at the pulsar and placed a curled fist against the transparent aluminum glass window. 

In a haunted voice he spoke, “At least you still have a family.”

Rebecca stared at Cheon for a moment,  “Jolie?”

Cheon slammed his closed fist into the window and turned to face Rebecca. “Starfleet classifies her as “Missing in Action”,” he said. “As for Seong, she left me after I went missing behind enemy lines,” he explained. His eyes were filled with tears. “A few months ago, I received a letter. She holds me responsible for our daughter’s disappearance. She claims she would not have gone seeking for me if I had stayed at home in the Alpha.”

Rebecca sighed.   After a moment she simply bowed her head, “Sorry to hear that my friend. I wish I could help you, truly do, but I have no friends in Starfleet left. Hell, the only transportation I have is an old Type-6 shuttle built around 2361.”

Cheon shook his head and looked at Rebecca. “If we were a lot younger then we are I know we would have stormed through hell to get one of our own out of any situation,” Cheon stated as he sat back down. “And be damned the consequences.” A soft sigh left his lips. “But now it’s like everything is a political game of chess.” 

Rebecca gave him a wry grin, “Hell, Cheon at our age we have less to live for. But, you’re right everything is a game of chess.”

Cheon slumped back in his seat, his face solemn. “You know, Rebecca, you’ve always been the voice of reason,” he continued, his gaze fixed on the holographic pictures of his former team flickering in the room. “But I can’t help but long for the days when we could act without the weight of age and consequences pressing down on us.”

He sipped his Earl Grey tea, the warmth of the Shochu-infused beverage providing a small relief from the harsh reality of their current situation. “Isn’t it a different galaxy now? Politics, bureaucracy, and endless games. But I still believe in the principles we defended while serving together. Loyalty, friendship, and going above and beyond to get our guys home safely.”

With a deep sigh, he met Rebecca’s stare with resolve. “Perhaps it’s time to defy those conventions once more, in our own unique way. If the chessboard is stacked against us, perhaps it’s time to start moving our own pieces, even if it means facing the consequences head-on.”

“What are you thinking?” Rebecca asked with an amused expression over her coffee. 

“I’m going to go get my daughter,” Cheon said in a plain toned manner. “And be damned those that try to get in my way.”

“Okay. Well, if we’re going rouge how do you propose we do that?”

”Simple,” Cheon replied. “After our rendezvous with the Andromeda, we’ll take the captain’s yacht. I will make an announcement over the intercom that a special meeting will commence an hour after the rendezvous is over, and that all crew members must attend. During this special meeting, we will discuss critical matters that require the attention and input of the entire crew. It is imperative that everyone attends promptly. We will address our upcoming mission, any potential risks or challenges, and ensure that everyone is informed and prepared for what lies ahead.”

Cheon’s voice carried determination, conveying a sense of unity and purpose to the crew. As the moment of the rendezvous with the Andromeda drew nearer, anticipation filled the air, and crew members began to prepare for the meeting that would follow.

As Cheon outlined the plan to the crew, he couldn’t help but steal a sly glance at his old captain. His eyes held a hint of mischief, a subtle acknowledgment of the intrigue surrounding their upcoming actions. It was a moment of unspoken understanding between the two, a testament to their shared history and the trust that still existed, even in these uncertain circumstances.

Cheon’s voice carried a weight of determination as he continued, “At the end of the mission briefing, I will then ask for four volunteers to join us on the true mission, the mission to save my daughter.” His words hung in the air, emphasizing the gravity of their situation.

His confident demeanor sent a clear message that this mission was not just about duty; it was deeply personal. The crew members exchanged glances, understanding the profound commitment that Cheon had to this mission and the importance of their roles in it.

“We’re coming,” Aimee shouted from the back.  Her husband Dougal close behind with their daughter in his arms.

Cheon’s head snapped in the direction of the unexpected voice, a mix of surprise and curiosity evident in his expression. “Aimee?” he uttered, as if testing the name on his lips, unable to believe he was hearing it after so long.

His gaze then shifted to the child mentioned, his eyes softening with warmth as he took in her presence. “What about you guys’ new daughter?” he inquired, a hint of a smile playing in the corners of his mouth, a sense of nostalgia washing over him as he remembered Jolie.

“Captain Murphy has agreed to tend to the bairn until she reaches Earth and my sister will take care of her,” Dougal said.

“Both Dougal and I owe our lives to Jolie,” Aimee added. “We owe her.”

“I don’t know what will happen, and I cannot guarantee that it won’t be dangerous,” Cheon said, his eyes shifting between Aimee and Dougal before finally landing on Rebecca. “That goes for you too.”

He then shook his head, clearly trying to process the situation. “Hold up, when did we meet up with the Andromeda?” Cheon asked, his shock evident in his voice. It seemed like he was still trying to grasp the fact that Aimee and Dougal were on his ship rather than on their own.

“Sir,” a junior Lieutenant said leaning in, “About five minutes ago sir”Upon hearing the junior Lieutenant’s report that the encounter with the Andromeda had taken place just five minutes ago, Cheon’s expression shifted from shock to a blend of surprise and a touch of concern. He considered the implications of this revelation, quickly processing the temporal discrepancy in his mind.

“Five minutes ago?” Cheon echoed, his tone reflective of both surprise and a sense of urgency. The unexpected timing misalignment added a layer of complexity to the situation, leaving Cheon slightly on edge.

He swiftly gathered his thoughts, knowing that the timing discrepancy could have significant consequences. “Understood,” he replied to the junior Lieutenant, his voice firm and decisive. Cheon’s mind raced, formulating a plan to address this temporal anomaly while ensuring the safety and stability of the situation for his crew and the mission at hand.He then looked back at Rebecca, “Looks like it is time to move things along.”