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Avenal System: Republic of Cardassia

Stardate: 53370.8

Annabeth gripped the sides of her toilet, stuck her face inside, and wretched the entire contents of her exhausted stomach into the bowl. Even though she was only dressed in a tank top and underwear, she still felt like she was on fire. There was a knock at the door as she gasped for air between heaves.

"Beth…" Alex's concerned voice sounded through the fiberboard. "How are you feeling?"

"How do you think I'm feeling?" she shouted back as her stomach spasmed into another stream of vomit.

"This is completely normal for the first trimester," Alex said summoning her best bedside manner.

"I hate you for talking me into this!" Annabeth said with a mighty heave. "I hate Dan Tigranian for putting this hellspawn inside of me!" Another heave. "And I hate myself for being stupid enough to agree to be knocked up!" A final heave. She collapsed onto the cool deck plating. The feeling of heat pulling away from her flushed skin was wonderful.

Alex opened the doors and stepped inside their shared bathroom. She knelt down next to her wife and pricked her neck with a hypospray.

"This should help with the nausea, but it won't totally go away. Don't worry, once you hit the second trimester, the morning sickness should subside completely."

Annabeth put her hands over her face.

"That's six weeks away!" she said not sure if she could stand this agony another minute.

"I know, Baby" Alex said lifting her up into her arms and patting her back. "I know," she said in a saccharine voice.

"I haven't even met him, and I already hate this kid," Annabeth said pulling her sweaty mane of blonde hair behind her head.

"You don't mean that," Alex said giving her a slightly judgmental glance. "You are going to love our son more than anything you've ever known."

"Maybe," Annabeth replied before grabbing the sink and hoisting herself to standing, "but I'm never going to let him forget what he put me through."

"Good," Alex said with a grin.

"Good?"

"Yeah," Alex replied. "If you're the mean parent, I get to be the nice one."

"God," Annabeth said shaking her head. "This is what I get for being married to my OB/GYN."

The Pershing's first officer stared into the mirror. A haggard visage stared back and she was due on the bridge in 30 minutes.

"Shit, I look terrible."

"You look beautiful," Alex said wrapping her arms around her from behind and planting a kiss on her cheek.

"Is it too early to request maternity leave? This would be a lot better if I could go through it on a tropical beach somewhere with a virgin daiquiri in my hand."

"It's the 24th Century, Beth," Alex said leaning on her shoulder. "Women can have it all: a successful military career and a family, they just have to show up to work."

"Oh screw you," Annabeth said holding back a chuckle.

"If you think we have time for it before we go on duty," Alex said with a lascivious smirk as she went to put on her uniform.

"Don't tempt me," Annabeth said walking to the closet to grab her own set of duty blacks. "I can go from zero to horny in no time flat right now."

"Another fun side effect of the first three months," Alex said pulling up her trousers over the hem of her blue-green undershirt.

"Why does Starfleet make these things out of poly-wool?" Annabeth said gritting her teeth. "I'm gonna die from heat stroke before lunch."

"Probably because we spend most of time in space where the temperature is cold enough to freeze nitrogen solid," Alex said zipping up her gray trimmed jacket.

"Do you think I can get away with just the vest today?" Annabeth said holding up a sleeveless waistcoat usually reserved only for starship commanders.

"You are a captain," Alex said hesitantly, "but then again, starships usually only carry one aboard."

"Dammit," Annabeth said throwing back into her closet and grabbing a regular jacket. "Why do I always have to the responsible one?"

"Because, if you weren't, Dan would have gotten himself killed a long time ago," Alex replied.

"And yet we asked him to do this to me," Annabeth rolled her eyes while pointing to her abdomen."

Alex chuckled and put her arms around her again.

"Who knows, maybe luck is genetic?"

"In that case," Annabeth said grabbing her red command undershirt. "We'll have the luckiest baby in history."

"We already do," Alex said attaching her comm badge on the left side of her jacket. "He's got the two of us as moms."

****

Alex walked into the wardroom and took her regular seat. Scharr and Phil were listening to Katie and Laria talk about wedding plans. Tigranian was in his ready room checking the morning dispatches from Starfleet Command prior to the sync meeting.

"Figuring out where to do the ceremony was the easy part," Katie said. "Now, the reception, that took a lot of arguing."

"I just didn't want to get drop dead drunk on my wedding day," Phil said from next to her.

"Look, if society expects me to wear a giant, fluffy, ridiculous white dress for a day, you can bet I'm sure as hell gonna have fun in it."

"You know," Alex interjected from across the table, "you don't have to wear a white, fluffy dress to get married."

"What little girl fantasizes about wearing anything else?" Katie asked skeptically.

"More than you think," Alex said with a glance.

"Where are you two doing the ceremony?" Laria said.

"The Academy Chapel," Katie answered. "It's just such a great space and it has a lot of meaning to both of us."

"The Academy Chapel?" Scharr said rolling his eyes. "That is so lame."

"Tren!" Alex said jumping in again.

"It is!" he insisted. "We spend all this time out here in the void, seeing new and incredible places, and they choose to go back to school!"

"Ok, Sir," Phil said staring the Andorian down. "You've been married three times. Where were your weddings?"

Scharr blushed blue.

"Ok," he said holding up his hands defensively, "all of them were at my parent's house."

"LAME!" the other four said simultaneously.

"It's Andorian tradition!" Scharr said digging himself deeper into a hole. "Have you ever had to say no to all three of your mothers at once?"

"In any case," Alex said turning back to Katie. "Where are you guys having the reception?"

"How do you spell, 'Kick Ass Party' in Thai, Doc?" Katie said.

"What?" Alex looked confused. Katie held her hands in the air and swayed her shoulders back and forth.

"B-A-N-G-K-O-K!" she said grinning from ear to ear. "I know this great little dive bar near where I did my Muay Thai workouts. It's right on the river and has a great back deck. We do the ceremony first thing in the morning in San Fran, then all jump across the Pacific for brews and chow. We'll party from midnight to sun up!"

"My parents are gonna be thrilled…" Phil muttered. "Tropical heat and transporter lag."

"You put enough beer in a person, Phil, and everyone's internal chronometer starts ticking. Everybody loves Thailand. It'll be great. Trust me."

"She's gonna be your wife, Lexington," Scharr said cautiously. "Those are famous last words. Trust me."

Annabeth walked in holding her mouth with the back of her right hand.

"You ok, X-O?" Katie asked concerned. "You look a little green."

"I'm fine, Katie," Annabeth said pulling out her chair. "Thanks for asking." The response was a bit more curt than anyone expected.

Tigranian entered a few seconds later.

"The captain!" Annabeth shouted to raise everyone else to their feet.

"As you were," Tigranian replied reflexively. The table took their seats as he began the meeting. "Welcome back to Cardassia everybody," he said grabbing a PADD with his notes. "I wish I could say things cooled down while were gone, but I can't…"

"No surprises there, Sir," Phil said leaning back in his chair.

Tigranian half laughed and half scoffed as he brought up a display on the holoscreen behind him.

"As a result of the civil unrest a few months back, the Romulans have deployed two additional heavy legions. One is always watching the demarcation line and the other is keeping an eye on the populated systems. A Cardassian can't break wind without the Tal Shiar and the Cardassian State Security Service knowing about it.

In the meantime, Premier Harok continues to do his part to sing the praises of the Romulan-Cardassian Alliance while his people pay the price…"

"What a little bitch…" Katie grumbled.

"That is one of putting it, Katie," Tigranian replied. "They know that most of Starfleet's capital ships are back in spacedock or along the Neutral Zone, so the Cardassian State just announced a massive joint training exercise with the Romulan fleet. It will take place in two days right along the border."

"Let me guess," Scharr said. "Starfleet Command wants us to observe?"

"On the nose, Tren," Tigranian replied. "Prime Minister Garak is still pretty upset that Federation and Klingon force numbers have dropped in the Republic over the past few months. President Zife wants a battleship up front as a show of solidarity."

"Does Starfleet Intelligence think this could be a pre-cursor to an attack?" Laria asked.

"The Cardassian State claims these exercises are solely defensive in nature, but what better way to rehearse an invasion than by putting all your forces up front?" Tigranian said.

"So, we just got back from enemy space where the Romulans almost sent a squadron of warbirds across the Neutral Zone to grab our asses. Now, we're going to put ourselves right within arm's reach of them?" Annabeth said.

Tigranian nodded his head.

"We don't have much choice, Number One. There's only six Federation starships in the Republic of Cardassia, and we're the only one that can pose any kind of threat to the enemy task force."

"We're a big ship, Dan," Alex said. "But do you think we can scare them off alone?"

"Katie?" the captain asked turning down the table. The Pershing's tactical officer stroked her chin.

"I'm not worried about the Cardassian State Navy. Their entire fleet is made up rustbuckets that still need to be dry-docked after the war. Latest intel says they only have about fifty Galor class capital battlecruisers still combat ready along with a random assortment of smaller cruisers, destroyers, fighters, and support ships. We can take them on easily. However, start throwing Romulan warbirds into the mix…that's where it gets a little hairy."

"Admiral Paris says they will be deploying the Exeter and the Kennedy along the border to back us up. Prime Minister Garak is sending twenty Republic battlecruisers as well."

"An Excelsior refit, an Akira class escort frigate, and collection of Cardy banana boats…this is going to be fun," Phil quipped.

"Don't worry your pretty little head thingies," Katie patronized him. "With 52 hours to prepare, I'll be able to shove a phaser broadside so far up their asses they'll taste nadion radiation."

"I hope that confidence is more than just words, Lieutenant!" Annabeth jabbed in her direction. The whole table turned to look at the ship's first officer.

"Beth…" Alex whispered under her breath. Laria looked over nervously.

"I'm sure that Lieutenant Stone will continue to perform her duties well above standard, Number One," Tigranian said trying to defuse the tension.

"Yes, I know she will," Annabeth replied. "I'm sorry, Katie, I…" Annabeth suddenly turned pale and put a hand over her mouth. "Oh God, excuse me!" she said sprinting out of the room.

"She's been feeling kinda sick the last couple days. I think it's something she ate. I'll go check on her," Alex said pushing back from the table.

"I think that's a good idea, Doc," Tigranian nodded.

"If she turned any whiter, I would have to start calling her pale skin…" Scharr said looking towards the doors.

"Alex's got her," the captain said trying to get the meeting back on track. "Now, I'd like to talk about our readiness drills. We've been pushing the crew hard the last couple months. I want to make sure they don't get complacent without burning them out…"

Phil, Scharr, and Laria turned their attention back to Tigranian, but Katie was still transfixed on what was happening with their first officer.


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