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Geosynchronous Orbit over San Francisco: Earth

The transport pod rose above the Karman line and into space. The Pershing's senior staff and Admiral Murphy were crammed into the crew compartment as Phil manipulated the controls.

"Once the Shran arrives with the Sulu," Murphy said to Tigranian, "I'll move over to the carrier and take overall charge of the operation, but the crux of this whole insanity will be up to you all."

"Understood, Sir," Tigranian replied. "I've already contacted Lieutenant T'les, my duty officer, on the Pershing to have her prepped for immediate launch. After all, two battleships are better than one."

"I'm not sure twenty battleships will be enough if the report the Romulans gave us is accurate," Murphy replied.

Suddenly, a hush fell over the front of the pod as a long, space slipway appeared in the distance. The large gaps in the paneled walls gave everyone quick glances of the legend moored inside. Phil slowly maneuvered the pod past the structure slowly enough for everyone to gaze through the metal pylons at the ship's narrow, rectangular warp nacelles, still cold and black as the vessel remained in her perpetual slumber.

The party's eyes moved down the sleek, angled warp pylons to the cylindrical drive section. A pair of red racing stripes ran down the length of the hull with "UNITED FEDERATION OF PLANETS" painted in bold, black letters between them.

The aft of the small, round saucer section rose from the narrow neck that connected it to rest of the ship. The windows around the disc's perimeter were darkened. The museum's staff shut down power when visitors were not present to save wear on the hundred year old EPS grid.

A huge, white sign hung from the side of the slipway announcing to visitors the name of the ship inside, however, no one who made it this close would have any doubt that they were in the presence of greatness.

Phil artfully circled around the front of the slipway. With a final trim of the helm, the full majesty of the sight pulled the air from their lungs as they finally came face to face with the bow of the "Big E." She may have been half the size of modern starships, but her splendor made her seem ten times as large.

Twenty sets of solar mirrors reflected the intense, yellow light of Sol onto the dazzling, white tritanium hull plating. From this angle, the ship literally glowed with a brilliant halo as the orbital sunrise crested behind her.

Phil could barely keep his hands from shaking as he pulled the pod towards the passenger dock and over the massive, black letters that spelled out the most historic ship's name in the entire Federation.

Annabeth stepped forward and placed both her hands on the glass of the craft's front window screen. It was her voice that finally answered Murphy's last pessimistic comment.

"We won't fail, Sir," she said with absolute resoluteness. "That ship is named Enterprise, and ships named Enterprise save this planet."

TO BE CONTINUED


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