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Sector 25712: 10 Light Years from the Ceti Alpha System

Stardate: 53313.4

The computer's voice echoed through Alex and Annabeth's quarters.

"The time is now 0530 hours."

Alex rolled over and planted a kiss on Annabeth's cheek, causing her to stir awake.

"Good morning, Beth," she said staring into her wife's eyes. "I love you."

Annabeth smiled as she reached over to wipe away a strand of hair from Alex's face.

"The feeling's kinda mutual, Babe." Annabeth sighed as she remembered the date. "Today's the day. I can't believe I won't see you for almost a week."

"Hey," Alex said climbing out of bed and wrapping herself in a robe. "We both agreed to this. I'm the head dais bearer, and I have to arrange the bachelorette party. There was no way I was gonna let L suffer through some boring simulation on the holodeck."

"Alex," Annabeth said playfully reaching out a hand. "Come back to bed. We've got to make up some ground before you leave, then." Alex shot her back a look.

"We're on duty in an hour, Beth."

Annabeth looked over at the chronometer on her nightstand and cursed under her breath.

"You're right…you want to shower first?"

"Sure," Alex said disappearing towards the bathroom.

"You know," Annabeth said calling after her wife. "It would make this separation easier if I actually knew where you going with Laria and the girls."

"Oh no. You're the best man. If I tell you, you'll let it slip to the captain, who will let it slip to Laria, and the whole surprise will be ruined."

"I told you, it's not really the same as what you consider 'a best man'," Annabeth replied dragging herself from the under the covers. "Apparently, this Tawi'Yan doesn't do much. I don't even have anything to do with the bachelor party."

"What exactly is it you do then?" Alex called from inside the bathroom.

"They're still trying to figure that out in this crazy cultural mish-mash of a ceremony. I think I'm just going to stand there holding two bat'leths and grinning like an idiot. In fact, I was surprised Dan asked me considering both Admiral Murphy and General Torlek will be there."

Alex stuck her head out of the bathroom door and grinned.

"That just shows how much you mean to him."

"I suppose so."

Alex ducked back inside the bathroom. Annabeth heard the sound of the sonic shower warming up.

"So, what do Klingons do for their bachelor party?"

"Eh, Daniel said it was called something like Kaliah or Kahlua…" Annabeth said sarcastically as she shook her head.

"Figures they would name it after alcohol!" Alex called out. Both of them laughed.

"Anyways," Annabeth continued, "It's some gibberish like that. He also said it was going to be brutal, but honestly, I'm not worried. Whatever it is, it involves spending four straight nights on the holodeck. Probably means booze, boobs, and hours of debauchery."

Alex stuck her head out the door again.

"Four nights?" she asked very concerned. "I know Klingons are total heathens, but how much partying do they do?"

"Not as much as I did during the Academy…" Annabeth said grinning back at her. Alex scowled in reply.

"Hey," she said walking back to Annabeth. "Just remember, you're a married woman!"

Annabeth reached up, unfastened Alex's robe, and pulled her towards her.

"How could I forget?" she said with a smile.

They kissed.

****

The starship Gibraltar pulled alongside the Pershing. Tigranian and the rest of the senior staff stood in the transporter room ready to receive their first guest. The captain was so happy, it was contagious. As the other ship signaled they were ready for the transfer, Laria clandestinely grabbed his hand and squeezed. He squeezed back just as the transporter beam energized.

Annabeth called the group to attention as a crewman in the corner blew an electronic boatswain's whistle. In a sparkle of blue light, Admiral Murphy appeared in front of them.

"Dan!" he said stepping of the transporter pad.

"Welcome Aboard, Admiral," Tigranian replied reaching out his hand. "Number One," he said turning to Annabeth. "Alter ship's Starfleet transponder signal to include the Admiral's pennant frequency and note in ship's log: Pershing assumes flagship status of Occupation Fleet as of 1042 hours."

"Aye Aye, Sir," Annabeth said moving to a control panel on the bulkhead of the transporter room.

"Always with the formalities first, Dan," Murphy said shaking his head.

"I wouldn't be a very good captain if I forgot who I worked for, Sir." Tigranian replied.

Admiral Murphy literally burst out laughing.

"I'm gonna remind of that next time you tear off on some wild ass crusade. It's good to see you, everyone," Murphy said turning to the rest of the senior staff.

"It's good to see you too, Sir," Annabeth answered for the rest of the staff.

"Well," Murphy said turning back to Tigranian. "The only way I could convince Admiral Paris and the rest of the Command Staff to let me come out here before my leave started was to claim I was conducting an 'inspection.' What do you say we get the business out of the way first before moving on to the fun?"

"Right this way, Sir," Tigranian said leading him towards the doors. "Annabeth, take charge and dismiss the crew. I'll be taking the Admiral on his tour."

"Yes Sir," Annabeth replied with a grin. The captain and Murphy disappeared into the corridor. "Alright, you heard the Admiral business before pleasure, everyone. Dismissed."

An hour later, Tigranian and Murphy walked through the turbolift doors onto the bridge.

"Admiral on the bridge!" Annabeth shouted as she climbed out of the captain's chair. Katie, Laria, and Phil stood at attention at their consoles.

"Carry on, carry on," Murphy said moving forward with Tigranian in tow. Everyone returned to their business. "Captain, you've done amazing job with this ship. I'm still getting thank you messages from the Bajoran Ambassador."

"I didn't do anything, Sir," Tigranian said moving next to his first officer. "It was this crew."

"Well, I suspected that. I was skeptical that you were really that talented," Murphy chuckled as he put a hand on Tigranian's shoulder. Annabeth laughed as well.

"You've had a lot to do with this ship's success as well, Commander," Murphy said turning to Annabeth. "When do you think I'll finally be able to pry you outta Dan's chair into a captain's seat of your own?"

Annabeth suddenly looked uncomfortable.

"I still have a little more work to do here, Sir."

"Well, soon it might not be your choice, Commander." Murphy said raising an eyebrow. "Admiral Paris constantly reminds me that Starfleet is moving back into the exploration business. New missions are being planned every day. You passed up the Victory a few months back, but now the Venture is gearing up for a three year survey mission. Your name is on a VERY short list…and before you ask, yes, they do need a doctor onboard."

Annabeth's heart skipped a beat.

"Well, Sir, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

"Yes…we will," Tigranian said flashing Murphy an annoyed expression.

As the three of them were talking, Laria froze at the science station. It was the strangest sensation she ever experienced. It was like she was being watched by a familiar set of eyes. Then, she suddenly understood.

"Shields up!" she shouted. "Arm phasers and quantum torpedoes. Helm, standby for evasive." The entire bridge looked at her as if she'd lost her mind, but Tigranian felt it as well.

"No, she's right! Do it now!"

Just as a confused Katie complied, an alarm echoed through the bridge as a ship appeared directly a stern.

"Klingon Bird of Prey decloaking: bearing 180 Mark 4!" Katie yelled. "They're arming disruptors and torpedoes and lining up for an attack run at full impulse!"

"What in God's name!?" Murphy said in shock. Tigranian only laughed as he sat down in his chair."

"He's no match for us and he knows it. Trying to ambush us like a Denebian Slime Devil from the mud…he's better than that."

The bird of prey streaked directly over the Pershing before coming rapidly about and facing the starship bow to bow, separated by only a few hundred meters. The rest of the bridge crew were stunned as they stared into the Klingon vessel's glowing torpedo bay and disruptor cannons pointed directly at the bridge.

"The bird of prey is hailing, Sir," Katie said from behind Tigranian. "They're demanding our surrender."

"Put that piece of baktag onscreen, Katie." Tigranian replied.

The image of General Torlek appeared in front of them.

"You little, Qa'Hom," Torlek said laughing. "There's no way your warrior's senses were sharp enough to feel me from that distance. You must have cheated with that abomination of a sensor array."

"Think what you will, Brother," Tigranian said glancing back towards Laria. "But I think the warriors' sense on this is ship is sharper than you realize."

Torlek laughed under his breath.

"Very well, Brother. I come now with open arms, ready to walk the path of clarity with you."

Tigranian rose to his feet.

"I am honored, Torlek, leader of my house. However, I must ask Admiral Murphy's permission to bring you aboard. Currently, we fly his flag."

Torlek turned to look at Admiral Murphy.

"I would be honored to receive you on my flagship, General Torlek, qaH yI'el, Qapla'!"

"Your Klingon needs practice, Admiral," Torlek said with a grin. "But we will have plenty of time for that on our journey."

"I look forward to it, General."

"I'll arrange to have you beamed aboard immediately, Brother," Tigranian said.

"I'll be standing by for your signal. Torlek out."

The screen returned to an image of Torlek's ship. It gave the rest of the bridge a chance to catch their breath.

"Laria, that was incredible," Annabeth said turning to Science.

"You had to have picked something on sensors," Katie said shaking her head.

"I can't explain it," Laria said trying to gather her own thoughts.

Tigranian walked over to her and smiled.

"You felt him, didn't you?" he asked proudly.

"Yes, it's like I just suddenly knew what to do."

"Laria, you just experienced your first tova'dok. It takes most warriors years to achieve that level of awareness."

"What did you do to her, Dan?" Murphy asked.

"Maybe the ridges should be on her forehead instead of her nose…" Phil said from the helm.

The bridge erupted in laughter.


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