Fisherman's Wharf: San Francisco, Earth
It was just before half past ten when Katie and Phil entered a wood-paneled restaurant on the edge of San Francisco Bay. It had huge picturesque windows overlooking the water towards Alcatraz, the Presidio and Starfleet Headquarters. The diners enjoyed breathtaking views of the shuttles lifting off over the Golden Gate on orbital ascent towards spacedock in low Earth orbit. The Lexingtons were blissfully happy after a wonderful evening alone in the Swiss Alps.
"I have to admit," Katie said grinning from ear to ear. "I had no idea you could do that last night. It caught me a little off-guard…"
"Get ready for a life full of surprises, Katiebug," he replied happily. They laughed as they approached the hostess' podium.
"Welcome to Frederico's at the Golden Gate," the Rigellian hostess said beaming with far too much energy for a Sunday morning. "How many?"
"Um, excuse me," Katie said. "We're meeting our party here. I'm not sure if any of them have arrived yet."
"Are you here with the Andorian, the Betazoid, and the Human man with a baby?" the hostess asked with a smile. "They're all so cute."
Katie and Phil exchanged a surprised glance.
"Cute?" Phil asked. "In what way?"
"The human and the Andorian are a couple right?" the hostess asked. "I mean, they had a baby and were whispering to each other the whole time."
"Umm, no. They're not a couple," Katie said.
"Ohh," the hostess said apologetically. "I'm so bad at telling when people are together. The human man must be with the Betazoid then."
"Is there anybody else with them?" Phil asked trying to change the subject.
"No," the hostess said shaking her head. "I don't think the rest of your party is here yet." Katie and Phil suddenly looked nervous. "However, the gentlemen are all in the Harbor View room. I'll take you back to them."
Katie and Phil followed her to a secluded room sectioned off from the rest of the restaurant. The long table had twelve spaces set, but only Scharr, Doctor Katan, and Tigranian were there. The captain had Max in a carrier strapped across his chest. All three looked very nervous as they studied an array of PADDs laid out across the end of the table.
"I'll send back the rest of the guests when they arrive," the hostess said before excusing herself. Katie and Phil slowly approached the others. It looked like they were deep in some kind of planning section. They didn't even notice the arrival of the guests of honor standing at the far end of the room.
"The Bangkok police aren't reporting them in detention, but they definitely have an all-points bulletin out for a group of women matching their descriptions. Some kind of bar brawl gone bad. At least they don't seem to know they're connected to Starfleet," Tigranian said rubbing his jaw. Max was dozing in the carrier on his chest. When he moved, the baby stirred and began fussing a bit. "I know you're tired, Buddy," Tigranian said. "Hang in there. We'll find them."
"Four Deities Preserve Them," Katan said nervously. "No hospitals in the area have reported anyone matching their descriptions. I've widened the search to all medical facilities in Eastern Asia, but still no luck. Hopefully that means they're not injured."
"I feel like at least one of them would have called us if that happened. Annabeth is with them. She's too experienced," Tigranian said.
"I might be able to use the Pershing's sensors to conduct a narrow band scan for their comm badge ID codes. It will be difficult while still in spacedock though. Might arouse a lot of suspicion for us to power up while in port," Scharr said. "I should have never let my daughter go alone into that city. This planet can be a lot more dangerous than you humans think."
"Hey, my wife, adopted sister-in-law, and this guy's parents are gone too," Tigranian said pointing to Max. But they're all grown women," he emphasized. "They've been through a lot worse and can take care of themselves, Tren."
"Alright," Katie said loud enough to get their attention. "What is going on and why do you have Max, Sir?"
"Did something happen last night?" Phil asked.
"Katie, Phil!" Tigranian said surprised. "No, no everything's fine. We're just trying to figure something out. How was your night?"
"Don't bullshit us, Sir," Katie said glaring at him. "Just cause we got married doesn't mean we can't help in a crisis. What happened to the others?"
"After the reception last night, the girls decided they wanted to go out to a few bars," the captain replied.
"We haven't heard from them since," Kazan added.
"Jesus," Phil said. "None of them are picking up their communicators?"
"No," Scharr said shaking his head. "Not even, Dee. We've been trying for an hour."
"Ok," Katie said walking over to the PADDs. "I know Bangkok pretty well. If they're still there, they're probably in the tourist districts in the center of the city. If they drifted south towards the harbor…"
"Then they could be floating dead in a canal or in the hold of a Ferengi freighter warping towards an Orion slave market…" Scharr said as his antennae curled downwards.
"Like I said," Tigranian interjected. "Let's not get melodramatic. We're talking about experienced Starfleet officers here. However, we might be approaching the point where we should think about going to the police…"
"I would advise against that, Dan," Annabeth's voice filled the room as she limped in through the door. She looked exhausted, her hair was a mess, and her skirt was torn at the hem. The other six stumbled in behind her looking just as worse for wear. They all collapsed at the table and picked up menus. "I'm a little hungry," Annabeth continued. "Could really go for a good eggs benedict right now."
"Qu'vath guy'cha baQa!" Tigranian shouted after covering Max's ears. "By Fek'lhr's battle axe, where in Gre'thor have you all been!?"
"Please don't yell, Dan," Alex said rubbing her eyes. "We're all a little on the hungover side. Thanks for babysitting though."
"And before you say anything, Daddy," Zhenia said looking at Scharr. "Don't worry, I don't think any of us have the intention to travel back to Southeast Asia anytime soon…"
"Or New Berlin University for that matter…" T'les mumbled.
"What?" Tigranian asked.
"Hi honey," Laria said waving at Tigranian with a pair of dark circles under her eyes. "Sorry we didn't call. It was difficult to get a signal running through the cargo containers on the waterfront."
"I have to admit," Annabeth said with a yawn. "It's good to know you can get an early morning lift across the Pacific from a Lissepian cargo shuttle pilot with no questions asked. You just have to be willing to show him a little skin."
"Just preemptively keeping you gents calm," Dee said raising her hand. "I'm the one who bit that bullet. However, you have to admit," she said turning to her companions, "Kuwaltho was a really nice guy."
"Yeah…" Alex said about to fall asleep on the table, "…a really nice guy. I especially enjoyed the XXX posters he had hanging all over the walls of the cargo compartment while I was balancing on a burlap sack filled with coconuts. I haven't seen that much anatomy since the first year of med-school…"
"He was a man of his word though," Dee countered. "We're sitting here, aren't we? By the way, Laria, I was very impressed that book of yours told us where to find the popular trucker hangouts."
"Yeah," Laria replied. "But in fairness, those were on the 'places to avoid' list."
Tigranian opened his mouth to say something, but a hand from Annabeth quieted him.
"Dan, just let it go," she said. "We're here and we're safe. Why don't we all just sit down, enjoy a great meal celebrating our friends' marriage, and you hand me my baby?"
Tigranian grumbled as he lifted Max out of the carrier and handed him to Annabeth.
"Guten Morgen, kleiner Mann," she said bouncing him up and down. Max looked as tired as his mothers did. "What's wrong?" she asked Tigranian. "Did he have trouble sleeping?"
Tigranian tried to look innocent.
"A little," he said feigning ignorance of their all night Battlecruiser Vengeance marathon. "Probably because his moms were gone."
"I know, Little Guy," Alex said leaning over and kissing his forehead. "Don't worry, we're back now."
Internally, Tigranian let himself exhale. Katan must have sensed his discomfort because the doctor held back a chuckle. Tigranian cast a bit of side eye in his direction while simultaneously thanking Kahless that Annabeth and Alex couldn't read minds.
"Can I just say something?" Crestia suddenly spoke up. Everyone turned to her a bit surprised. "Last night was one of the craziest of my life. There were definitely moments where I was concerned," she laughed as she shook her head. "But for the first time in my life I wasn't afraid. Not even a little. It's because I knew I was with a group of people who could face anything and push through.
Two years ago, I wasn't a person. I was just someone's object and that's all I was ever going to be." Slowly she looked around the table to look into everyone's eyes. "Then, you all miraculously fell out of the sky and everything changed. I'm not sure if some higher force brought the people here together, or if it's just serendipitous fate. Either way, I know there's nothing we can't accomplish together. Thank you for making me part of your family."
No one knew what to say. Finally, Katie stood up and walked over to Crestia.
"No," she said shaking her head. "Thank you for being part of ours."
She wrapped her arms around the little Elohsian as the others clapped their hands and banged on the table. As Katie returned to her seat next to Phil, Tigranian looked down the table. He had seen this view few hundreds of times during staff meetings, but somehow this moment was different. Everyone was together, everyone was relaxed, and everyone was only here to celebrate something joyful.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," he said. "It's rare in our profession that we ever have a perfect moment: a day when we're not worrying about a cataclysmic natural disaster, a brutal alien invasion, or some virulent space plague. However, today we've come together just to celebrate love, not just the love of two of our dearest friends, but the love we all have for each other.
It's a privilege flying with each and every one of you," Tigranian reached down to the table and lifted a mug of coffee. "To our future…together."
Everyone else lifted their glasses and echoed:
"To our future!"