The second year of the school term passed quickly for Kyla. The snow continued into February and March, and she went heli-skiing often with her friends. Most of the time she kept busy enough to keep the move from the Enterprise to the Titanic far from her mind. She and Alex communicated often through email, trying to keep their tones light and cheerful, but the specter of the coming change weighed heavy on both their minds, and although they both tried to mention it as little as possible, there was a new sadness in their relationship that hadn't been there before.

Spring arrived, and with it the departure of the snow. Kyla and her friends went bicycle riding and played basketball and softball. The school band also performed a couple of out-of-town concerts, which was a lot of work but exciting and fun.

Jon and Ethan both graduated from Valdez Senior High in early June. During the last few weeks of the school year, the band practiced playing 'Pomp and Circumstance' over and over again until they could play it perfectly. On the day of the graduation ceremony, the band entered the building thirty minutes before the ceremony was due to start. For Kyla, it felt strange to be performing with the band without Ethan and the other members of the graduating class.

As the graduates filed in, all of them in identical caps and gowns, Kyla's eyes searched the sea of faces for those of Jon and Ethan.

At last the graduates were all in their proper places, and it was time for the ceremony to begin. After speeches by several different school officials, the graduates were called up one by one to receive their diplomas. Since Jon and Ethan both had last names beginning with letters near the end of the alphabet, Kyla had to wait a very long time to hear their names, but she felt very proud of both of them when their turns finally came.

Soon the ceremony was over, and all the graduates threw their caps into the air. Kyla laughed with surprise. She hadn't know they were going to do that.

The Saturday night before Kyla was due to board the Titan, Ethan took her out for their last date.

"God, Kyla, it's so hard to say good-bye to you," Ethan told her when he had driven her home. "I've never before felt about a girl the way I feel about you."

"So don't say good-bye. Say 'until next time.' My dad and my Aunt Deanna have never said good-bye to each other, and they've been knowing each other a lot longer than my dad has been knowing my mom."

"I like that a lot better." Ethan's mood seemed to brighten.

"I'll talk to my dad about it, and maybe he'll let me visit you at the Starfleet Academy in San Francisco sometime."

"I know that right now four years seems like a long time, but as soon as I'm finished with Starfleet Academy, I'll apply to be an ensign on the Titan."

"Oh, that would be great, Ethan. If you got a job on my dad's starship then we could see each other all the time."

"Until next time then, Kyla."

"Until next time, Ethan."

He kissed her, and it was a long, passionate kiss. Kyla felt that it would never end. Neither of them wanted it to.


At last it was time for Kyla to board the Titan. After exchanging hugs and kisses with her parents and brother and sister, she was introduced to her father's crew: Commander Christine Vale, Lieutenant Alyssa Ogawa, the Vulcan Tuvok, the Trill Ranul Keru, the Bajoran Jaza Najem, the Efrosian Xin Ra-Havreii, and Dr. Shenti Yisec Eres Ree, who was a Pahkwa-thanh. She had to suppress a giggle at Dr. Ree's dinosaur-like appearance. Just looking at him must be a delight for his younger human patients, she thought. She wondered how long it would be before he was nicknamed 'Dr. Dinosaur.'

Next, Kyla's parents showed her to her new room in the family's quarters. It was larger, more spacious, newer-looking, and much nicer than her old bedroom in her family's quarters on the Enterprise had been. Kyla was impressed.

As soon as she was settled in, she got her laptop out and composed an email to Alex.

Hi Alex,

Well, here I am at last on the U.S.S. Titan. Things are sure different here than they were on the Enterprise. I just met my dad's crew: two humans, a Vulcan, a Trill, a Bajoran, an Efrasian, and something called a Pahkwa-thanh. Dr. Ree, the Pahkwa-thanh, is the strangest looking individual I have ever met. He looks just like a dinosaur who wears clothing and walks on his hind legs! He seems very nice, though, as do all of them.

I love my new bedroom. It's larger and looks nicer than my old bedroom on the Enterprise did. The only thing wrong is that you're not here. My parents tell me that I'll make new friends from among the kids here, but none of them could ever take your place.

Missing you,

Kyla

Kyla heard a knock on her bedroom door. "Come in," she said. Her sister Kendra stepped in.

"Hey Kyla, there's hot dogs and potato chips for lunch, and banana splits for dessert. After that there's a water park simulation on the holodeck. Some of the other kids will be there too. Want to come?"

A real water park would be so much more fun, Kyla thought grumpily. Then it occurred to her that she hadn't done anything fun with her sister in so long that she couldn't even remember the last time she had.

"That sounds great, Kendra. Sure, I'll come."