Chapter Nineteen

Epilogue

ELEVEN MONTHS LATER

"Chief Engineer's Personal Log.

She's gone, it's gone, everything's gone. I feel so alone now, so empty and bereft of feelings, it's like being only half a person. I can't believe the size of the void within me. Even now, when the memories have forgotten the life that made her whole, made me whole, I feel like we have only just moved apart.

The whole thing was spectacular apparently. I was monitoring the engines and mindin' my own business. Cormack says I just pitched backwards over the railing and hit the deck below. Huh, if it hurt, I don' remember it. Next thing I know I'm wakin' up in Sickbay, the Doc and Jon stood over me. It didn't hit straight away, guess I was groggy from whatever Doc had been pumping into me. As soon as he said the hormone imbalance was gone… it hit me like a phase-pistol blast. The pain of losing her…"

Trip stopped, fighting back the tears that threatened to collapse his resolve. He turned onto his side, unconsciously curling into a foetal position, and hugged his knees. He was amazed he'd even got that far with the log. All he could think about as he stared at the wall was one of the last things Da'Nela had said to him….. "Until one of us dies." Which meant that she was dead. Trip screwed his eyes closed and took a few long, deep breaths. He fished the ring that she had given him out from beneath his uniform and kissed the warm metal gently. It did not help.

"Jon's given me a few days off but it will take more than that to relieve the pain…."

Trip stopped again. How could he express in a log entry, one he would probably never listen to anyway, the pain but otherwise absence of feeling. The isolation was the worst thing, the loneliness… "Computer, end log." He croaked, hugging his knees closer to him and letting the tears fall.

"Are you sure you are okay?"

Emperor Da'Nela Tharn raised tired eyes to look at Nu'Tenn. Her cheeks were pale, but nowhere near the deathly grey they had been half an hour before. "I will be fine." She replied, although her emotions were confused. Mostly she felt empty and drained. "The pain is bad….. not physical pain, emotional pain. I miss him, Nu'Tenn, I miss him so much."

For a moment Nu'Tenn did not understand. Then, suddenly, he did understand. "The human…. Your bond with him…."

"Is gone." Tharn confirmed sadly. She looked down on the bundle in her arms, wrapped in an Emperor's cloak, and felt a small flash of pride. "At least I finally have something to remember him by. He has his father's eye colour."

Nu'Tenn gently lifted the bundle from Tharn's arms and stared down at the baby inside. Huge blue eyes stared up at him, fascinated by the whole world. "Your father would be so proud." He told Da'Nela softly. "Have you named him?"

"Ru'Hann Tharn-Tucker." She murmured the response sleepily, but could not keep the pride from her tone. "I wanted to honour the child's father and grandfather, for I love them both deeply."

Nu'Tenn placed the baby boy in the cradle next to the bed. He told her to get some rest and left her to her thoughts. Da'Nela lay down, staring at the ceiling, listening to the rhythmic breathing of her offspring. She was exhausted, for the labour had been long and hard. The child would be as stubborn as his mother, the Doctors said. Absently, Tharn wondered what Trip would have made of his son, and that brought everything to a head and she turned on her side, burying her face in the pillow and cried. The child slept, blissfully unaware of the twist of fate already dealt to him, of his destiny to become the Emperor of Larnei. But as Tharn's sobs ebbed and died, she vowed that the child would know his father as she had known him, and would love him as she did.

THE END

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