The deck hatch open, Crane smiles, and motions for Kirk to ascend the ladder first. Out in the fresh, salt-sea air, feeling the warm, soft Pacific breeze blowing in his face, Jim takes a deep breath and relaxes his tightened shoulder muscles. The tired starship commander sighs contentedly, then makes way for the weary submarine commander to join him on the Bridge. For a few luxurious moments, as they gaze at the celestial diadems sparkling in the black night sky, the two men say nothing. The submarine's smooth, gentle glide through the ocean is enough to lull Kirk into a waking dream. He closes his eyes and imagines that he is the commander of Seaview. After all, he does look good in khaki. And, he tells himself, it might have been--in another time . . . CRANE (contemplating the vast horizon before him): "Beautiful, isn't it, Jim?" KIRK: "Mmm . . ." (Touching the titanium magnificence of the tower surrounding him): "'All I ask is a tall-ship, and a star to steer her by.'" CRANE (staring at Kirk): "John Masefield. He's my favorite poet." KIRK (looking back at Crane): "I know." (Answering Crane's silent 'How?'): "Your biography is required reading at the Academy." CRANE: "My biography?!?" KIRK (nodding): "When I was a Midshipman, I practically majored in 'Lee Crane'." Kirk smiles at his boyhood hero, the man he now calls 'friend', and squeezes his shoulder. KIRK: "Don't let this go to your head, but you're the one who made me wanna sign up for this five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations. Because of you, Lee, I've had the courage to boldly go where no man has gone before. Of course, trying to better your service record almost got me and my crew killed a few hundred times over! But still . . . if there hadn't been a Captain Crane, I doubt very much if there ever would have been a Captain Kirk." Truly humbled, Crane is speechless. Lowering his head in modesty, he notices his Naval Academy ring on the fourth finger of his left hand. He pulls it off, looks one last time at the fading 'L.B.C' engraved inside, then holds out the jeweled golden band to Kirk. CRANE: "Here, Jim." KIRK (realizing what Crane is handing over): "Lee . . . I can't take that!" CRANE (placing the ring in Kirk's palm): "Yes you can. I want you to have it. You know . . . Captain to Captain . . . as a memento of our mission together." Kirk tries the ring on for size--it will only go on his pinkie. KIRK: "Hey! It fits!" CRANE (smiling): "Looks good on ya." KIRK (still admiring his new possession): "Sure you won't miss it?" CRANE: "Nah! There's a hundred more like it in the prop room." (Cupping his hand to his mouth, in case anyone is listening): "I give 'em out to the neighbors' kids at Christmas. Keeps the little brats from egging my house at Halloween." KIRK: "Pretty resourceful, Lee." CRANE: "Yeah . . . well . . . I don't like to brag but . . . I did make Eagle Scout at ten." KIRK: "You weren't an altar boy, too, by any chance, were you?" CRANE: "How'd you know?" KIRK: "Just a hunch. See, I got kicked outa Cub Scouts when I was seven." CRANE: "What for?" KIRK: "Had a little accident when I was going for my first merit badge." CRANE: "Oh?" KIRK: "Stead-a makin' a fire by rubbin' two sticks together, I kinda borrowed my Dad's phaser." CRANE: "You cheated!" KIRK: "Lee! Please! I changed the conditions of the test, that's all. It worked great, too, except ... I sorta burned my Den Mother's house down." CRANE: "Holy cow!" KIRK: "Hey. Live an' learn, right?" (Tugging on the bottom of the now completely stretched-out black turtleneck ): "By the way, thanks for the use of the sweater. I'll beam it back to you as soon as- -" CRANE: "Keep it. My Mom can make me another one. With the money I give her every month, knitting's about all she can afford to do anyway. But look, I got car payments." KIRK: "Yeah, I know what you mean. Ever since my Dad got lost in space, and my big brother George--only I call him Sam (Man, was his wife ever a screamer!!!)--kicked off, I gotta be the bread- winner for every Kirk this side of Iowa. And my nephew's a real drain on the old wallet." CRANE (his thumbs hooked in his pockets): "It's tough being a Captain, isn't it?" KIRK: "Yep. Say, where's the Admiral and Spock?" CRANE: "They'll be along." KIRK: "Oh, Lee, before I forget, I have an important message for you from Bones." CRANE: "What is it?" KIRK: "He's says you don't have radiation poisoning after all." CRANE: "You're kidding! But that stabbing sensation in my side . . . Doc says--" KIRK: "What does Doc know? The guy doesn't even have a name, much less a CAT Scan machine! Bones says your spleen is 4-O. He's run every test in the book, and he says you're just having hunger pains. He attributes your constant fainting to low-blood sugar, and recommends a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet, starting tomorrow at breakfast. Here's his prescription." Kirk reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small piece of paper. Crane reads it with great interest. CRANE: "'Steak, eggs, home fries, and 100% milk', huh?" KIRK: "Bones says it does a body good." CRANE (smiling): "Tell McCoy thanks anyway, but I think I'll stick to my usual bowl of Special K and glass of Tang." KIRK (shrugging): "Suit yourself." Suddenly appearing in the Conning Tower are Admiral Harriman Nelson and Commander Spock. NELSON: "Well, gentlemen, I suppose it's time we said our farewells. We must continue on to our next assignment, as you must to yours." SPOCK: "Negative, Admiral. The Enterprise is scheduled for five weeks R&R on Earth." CRANE: "You lucky stiffs! What are you gonna do on your Leave, Jim? Go find that beach to walk on?" KIRK: "No." (Looking first to Spock, then Nelson and Crane): "Spock and I plan to visit the Nelson Institute of Marine Research in Santa Barbara. It's still in operation, you know. Seaview's still docked in the harbor; and she's still listed as an active, commissioned ship. Once a year, they let tourists sign up for a mission. They get to retrace some of your more memorable adventures. We intend to be on board for the next voyage." NELSON (stunned by what he's just heard): "Nice to know we won't be forgotten, eh, Lee?" CRANE (equally affected): "Yes, Admiral. It sure is." The four military men lock eyes for the last time. It's harder to say good-bye than they thought. Nelson breaks the ice by putting his hand out to Kirk. NELSON: "Captain." KIRK: "Admiral . . . it's been an honor sailing with you." NELSON: "Same here, Kirk. You take care of yourself now." KIRK: "Aye-aye, sir." NELSON (looking very serious): "And you'd better keep this galaxy safe for my great-great-great-great grandchildren. Cause if ya don't," (he says with a wagging finger) "I'll come haunt ya!" (With that, he smiles and winks playfully.) KIRK (returning Nelson's smile): "Will do, Admiral." NELSON (ready to offer his hand to the alien in the blue- velour top, he suddenly recalls Spock mentioning a Vulcan cultural taboo about touching): "Mr. Spock . . . Peace, and long life." SPOCK (raising his hand in the Vulcan salute): "Live long and prosper, Admiral. And you, Captain Crane." CRANE: "Thank you, Mr. Spock. The same to you." (Turning to Kirk): "Well, Jim . . . I guess this is it." KIRK: "I guess it is, Lee." CRANE (shaking Kirk's hand): "I'll miss ya. Like Krueger said, you're a pain in the neck, but you're also one heck of a sailor, Captain!" KIRK (greatly moved): "Coming from you, Captain, that's quite a compliment!" (Reluctant to let go of Crane's hand, he finally does. Then he reaches for his communicator and flips it open): "Kirk to Enterprise." SCOTT: "Scott here, sir." KIRK: "We're ready to go home now, Scotty." SCOTT: "Aye, sir, two to beam up. Stand by." Just before the transporter begins to take effect, Captain James T. Kirk raises his right hand in respectful salute. KIRK: "Anchors aweigh, gentlemen!" Returning Kirk's hail, the Naval officers from the 20th century watch in amazement as the Starfleet officers from the 23rd century sparkle out of sight--but certainly not out of mind. Nelson and Crane stay on the Bridge for a while, enjoying the air, letting the breeze ruffle their hair. Presently, Nelson realizes that Crane is very quiet. NELSON: "Something on your mind, Lee?" CRANE: "I was just thinking . . . something Jim said. 'To boldly go where no man has gone before . . .'" NELSON: "Dreadful English, isn't it? You'd think they'd have learned not to split infinitives by the twenty-third century." CRANE: "It does have a ring to it, though. Maybe we should have a slogan like that." NELSON: "Did you have something in mind?" CRANE: "I'm not sure. There's something that keeps running through my head . . . something about a hammerhead shark." NELSON: "A hammerhead shark? What's that got to do with anything?" CRANE: "I know, it doesn't make much sense, does it? But it looks neat." NELSON (resigned): "All right, Lee. You'd better tell me the rest of it." CRANE: "Something . . . no, it's going again." NELSON: "Out with it!" CRANE: "'Beneath the surface lies the future!' That's it! What do you think, Admiral?" NELSON (Laughing out loud): "That's the corniest thing I ever heard! Come on, Lee--let's get below! Our future won't be lying beneath the surface until repairs are completed, but we can at least get underway for home."
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Copyright 1997 Rachel Howe and Alison Passarelli