"What is it, Centurion?" asked Galan. Corvinus appeared to be troubled about something.

"I have a problem, sir, and I need some advice," replied the Centurion.

"What about?"

"I just can't seem to focus on my duties, sir."

"Miss Brooks, I presume?"

Corvinus looked down in embarrassment.

"What has she done now?" asked Galan with a sigh. If this nonsense continued he'd have to move the humans to another building.

"Well, nothing sir."

"Then I don't see the problem, Centurion. Are you trying to say that you're attached to her?"

"No, sir," he answered quickly.

"Then, you do realize we're in the middle of a war?" Corvinus nodded. "This is perhaps the most significant challenge our people have ever faced. If we do not remain vigilant we will fall. But if we succeed, our Empire will be more powerful than ever before. Don't you want to be a part of the glorious victory?"

"Yes sir!"

"Then always remember: nothing is more important than serving the Empire."

"Thank you, sir. May I be dismissed?"

"One more thing, Corvinus." Galan came over and put a hand on his shoulder. "You've been a very good officer up until recently. Now I understand that some of you find these humans rather intriguing, but if you want to distinguish yourself you must remain focused. If you want my advice, a human spouse would not be a good choice for an aspiring soldier."

It wasn't long before the sad and dreaded day came: the USS Venture had arrived to take Evelyn and Amber back home to Earth.

It was for the best, Evelyn knew. She wasn't a soldier and therefore didn't belong on the front lines. Her next dig on Benzar would have to wait until the war was over. Come to think of it, her field work in general was going to have to wait until the fighting stopped. It was simply too dangerous for a civilian to be traveling around the quadrant while the major powers were duking it out.

Not that she had been doing much work the past several months anyway. But that wasn't what upset Evelyn. She had grown fond of the nightly tradition of dinner and cards with Mendakyl, Meldoch, and Commander Galan. She would miss those times terribly. Most of all, she would miss Commander Galan terribly.

Despite his rather typical Romulan self-confidence, the commander was an agreeable person to be around. He was gallant and brave. Evelyn couldn't help but see him as her hero, even though she was certain he didn't see it that way. He was always respectful and friendly to her, and clearly enjoyed her company. But that was as far as it went on his end. It was foolish of her to think that things could be any different. But, though she had tried her hardest not to, she had fallen in love with him nonetheless. It didn't help that she had spent nearly every evening with him for the past month.

Evelyn looked up from her packing and stared at her sorrowful countenance in the mirror. That would never do. She couldn't say goodbye to him with that expression. She wanted his last impression of her to be a positive one. She quickly fastened her luggage closed and went over to the dresser to freshen up.

She tried to make herself look as pretty as she could without looking formal. A part of her wondered why she had bothered this entire time, since Romulans probably had much different ideas of beauty than humans. Evelyn pushed those thoughts away, however. She pulled her hair out of her face, but left the rest of it down so that it would lay about her shoulders. Yes, she looked very nice, she finally decided.

There was a knock at the door. It was Lokal. Ever since that dreadful barbeque dinner, he had kept his distance.

"Forgive me for intruding, Dr. Frost. I know you must be quite busy, but I must speak with you before you leave," he said awkwardly.

Evelyn felt just as awkward as he did, if not more. "Won't you sit down?" She couldn't think of anything else to say.

"No, I shall not stay long. I wanted to give you this." He took her right hand and placed a ring on her finger. It was silver in color, and was set with a square green stone. Evelyn was about to protest, but Lokal said, "Do not distress yourself. I am not repeating my offer. It is true that my feelings have not changed, but I have other reasons for giving you this jewel. You will be returning to Federation space soon, and while things are looking favorable for the alliance at present, that could change at any time. That ring contains a special tracking device. Should you ever need my help, it can be activated like this." He twisted the stone diagonally and pressed it down.

Evelyn reversed the action and deactivated the ring. Poor Lokal, she thought. Who knew he could be so chivalrous? She was half tempted to accept him out of pity, but he deserved someone who could return his feelings. "Thank you, but I can't accept this," she said, removing the ring from her finger.

"Why not?" he asked.

"Because, Lokal. You shouldn't have to worry about me. You need to move on with your life and forget about me."

"But I cannot forget."

"I suppose I won't either, but what I meant is that you should save this for someone else," she said, holding the ring toward him.

"Perhaps you don't understand. I am Romulan, and once a Romulan has formed an attachment, it is permanent. I will never love another." He replaced the ring on her hand. "Please accept this. Since I cannot be with you, it will ease my mind to know that you are safe."

This time she could not refuse. "Thank you."

Amber, Mendakyl and Galan were waiting for her in the transporter room.

"Why, Miss Evelyn, you look lovely," the Prime Minister greeted her.

"Thank you, Mr. Mendakyl," she responded, taking his hand.

"I'm going to miss your pleasant company at dinner, but I'm happy that the two of you are going to be safe." Benito smiled sadly.

"Thank you for your hospitality," she said, "I will never forget it as long as I live."

"The pleasure was mine," he insisted.

Now for the really hard part. Evelyn moved on to Galan.

The Romulan smiled. "I, too, will miss your company, Miss Evelyn. Indeed, I despair of ever finding a card player as worthy as you."

"Or I you," she said softly. Suddenly, she felt tongue-tied. She laughed to disguise it. "Well," she forced herself to smile back at him, "Thank you again for everything, Commander."

Galan nodded. "It was my honor," he returned, taking his cue from Benito. "Goodbye."

"Goodbye," she echoed weakly. I'll never see him againā€¦ Evelyn quickly stepped onto the transporter with Amber before she cried again and made a ninny of herself. The sights around them, including Galan and Mendakyl, dissolved and were replaced by the transporter room on the Venture.

"Welcome aboard, Dr. Frost; Ms. Brooks," the Starfleet officer said warmly.

Evelyn smiled politely. But as soon as she got to her assigned quarters, she sobbed bitterly and collapsed onto the bed.

Very little, if anything, ever got past Galan's notice. As a result, he couldn't help but observe Dr. Frost's uncharacteristic behavior. She was understandably disappointed to leave, but he could see that there was more to it than that. He could tell that her emotions were strongly affected by this event.

But why? he wondered. Ever since the news that the Venture would be arriving had reached Benzar, Dr. Frost's spirits had been lessened considerably. An idea had crept into his mind at an earlier time. Naturally, he had pushed it away. But now, after saying goodbye to her, it resurfaced. Could it be that this human lady had developedā€¦stirrings-for him? It would perfectly explain her behavior, if it were true.

The thought surprised him. As intelligent as she was, surely she could see that it was a foolish notion? He had not led her on-or had he?

Galan felt like an uncivilized cad. Even though she was a mere human, the fact that he had hurt her didn't sit well with him. It was unintentional, of course, but honor demanded that he should have perhaps been more guarded in his behavior. After debating about it with himself for quite a while, he finally came to the conclusion that, since he had not intended to cause damage, he was not responsible for other people's feelings. He'd probably never see her again anyway.