Disclaimer: I don't own Star Trek or any of the characters therein.

The End

Here's the thing: captains go down with their ship.

It has several corollaries and 'if; then's, but the gist of it is that there is a hierarchy on ships, and it goes like this: civilians, crew, captain, and the captain gets dibs on everything. Sometimes 'everything' means 'paperwork'. Sometimes 'everything' means 'taking a shuttle by yourself to negotiate with a crazy psychopath who wants to annihilate the Federation.' And sometimes 'everything' means 'drawing fire with the ship as the shuttles make it to safety.' The gist of it is that, should the situation ever arise where the captain must sacrifice himself to save his crew, the captain will face his end with courage and with dignity, whether his end be slow and drawn-out at the hands of torturers on some god-forsaken planet, quick and short with the burst of a phaser on an enemy vessel, or anticipated and dignified, in the captain's chair, as he watches his ship disintegrate around him.

There can be crews without a captain, but there can be no captain without a crew.

The ship whose weapons tear through the Enterprise's shields is faster, larger, and far more advanced. The destruction of the Enterprise is fast and brutal and loud, all screams and crashes and explosions that shake the bridge so hard that Jim's teeth rattle.

"We won't last another two hits," Sulu says, even as his fingers dance over his touchscreen to try and get some distance from the other ship.

"All right," Jim says, and flicks the button for the intercom, as Scotty runs out of the turbolift, muttering something about the routes to Engineering being blocked.

"I'm implementing general order thirteen," Jim says, very clearly. "All hands, abandon ship."

There's more screams, now, more explosions, and a lot more movement as people start running. Jim is vaguely aware of Bones coming in through the side lift as several ensigns go out through it.

"Get the injured and go, Bones," Jim yells.

The other ship fires another round. Jim braces himself until the explosion passes.

Sulu leans forward and punches in some more instructions, moving the Enterprise to hide the first shuttles from the enemy's scanners. Chekov holds his stylus between his teeth and uses both hands to punch in equations and fire phasers at a dizzying speed.

"All hands, abandon ship," Jim repeats, a little louder.

"Jamming the enemy signal, Captain," Uhura says from her station. She chews her lip and pushes some buttons. "Hailing any Federation ships in the area with encoded message to pick up the shuttles."

Scotty steps away from the turbolift and walks over to Chekov's console. "If you boost shields with energy from the core, son, you might buy us another two minutes."

"All hands," Jim says, and he might be yelling, but he's not sure because everything else is so loud. "I am ordering you to evacuate."

"Yes, Captain," Spock says, as he and Bones run a scan to make sure everyone left alive on the ship has gotten off. "And we are disregarding you."

Jim looks him in the eye. A good, long look, and then he turns and looks at all the others.

"Please," he says.

"Sorry, Jim." Bones clears his throat and takes a breath. "We're coming with you."

The enemy ship falls back to a distance and locks its weapons on the Enterprise.

"Nearest Federation ship is two hours away," Uhura says.

Jim takes a good, long look around the bridge. Smiles. Sits down in his chair, ramrod straight.

"That ship's got some shields, Scotty," he says. "Think we can take out her weapons?"

Scotty looks at him. His eyes shine, and he grins so widely his dimples show. "Aye sir. We could cripple her."

"Right." Jim grips his armrests and leans back in his chair.

"Mr. Sulu," he says, and his voice is clear. "Set us on a collision course with the enemy ship. Aim for her phaser cannons."

"Aye aye, Captain."

They cluster around his chair. Spock and Uhura to his left, holding hands. McCoy to his right, hands tucked behind his back. Scotty, Sulu, and Chekov in front, silent, staring out the view screen.

The Enterprise bucks forward and picks up speed. The enemy ship gets bigger.

It's' been a pleasure, Jim thinks. You're the best crew a captain could hope for. It's been an honor serving with you.

"Thank you," he says.

Here's the thing: Sometimes there are no happy endings. Sometimes no one gets to be the hero and save the day. Sometimes you never had a chance to begin with, and nothing would have saved you no matter what. Sometimes the captain goes down with his ship.

And sometimes his ship returns the favor.