LINCOLN PARK SHIPYARDS - CHI NEBULA
The sixty or so people assembled in what the shipyard would consider a ‘large’ observation room was proving to be almost too many. Fully staffed, the shipyard employed about forty people on a full-time basis, not including those who were working out in the actual yard and on the ship.
Top secret facilities were not known for large gatherings, and as such didn’t have room for one ship’s crew, much less two.
However, Genma and Admiral James had decided that the launching of the Miyazaki was special enough that they would have at a minimum the senior officers, the NEO teams, and the Trinity Development Team on hand.
Genma, deciding to play up the super-secret aspect of the ship as much as he could, had the observation windows set to zero percent translucency until her unveiling as well, keeping both the Miyazaki’s crew as well as the Sisko’s in the dark about how she looked.
Ranma thought that was much ado about nothing. He’d basically gotten the first Miyazaki and she looked the same as his last ship. So, he wasn’t expecting anything too spectacular. Then again, they did say Lt. Commander Devall had gotten them to rebuild the ship from the ground up, so it could have gone from an Akira-based hull to a Sovereign hull to even some crazy hybrid with seven nacelles and a crow’s nest.
“Hi, Captain,” a voice called from behind Ranma. Ranma, dressed in his dress whites, quickly downed the hors d'oeuvre he was munching on and turned to see Shampoo, also dressed in her formalwear.
“Hello, Captain,” he smiled, grabbing her, and hugging her. Shampoo returned the hug and smiled. “Are you excited?” he asked.
Shampoo nodded, toying with her four pips for a moment. “Nervous, a little.”
“It’s a bit daunting to take that first step onto the bridge-” Ranma cut himself off and smirked, “your bridge. You’ve been ready for this for years, though.”
Shampoo beamed. “Thank you.”
Minako walked up to the pair. “Captains,” she smiled.
“Commander,” Shampoo smiled, hugging Minako. Minako, now a full commander and the new Executive Officer on the Sisko, grinned at Shampoo.
“Have you gotten to look at your ship yet?”
Shampoo shook her head. “No, Panda trying to keep it a secret from everyone he can.”
Ranma couldn’t help but laugh.
“Don’t worry, Ranma,” Shampoo smiled. “Shampoo call him ‘Admiral Panda’ to face.”
Ranma again laughed.
Rei walked near where Jitsia was chatting with some of her NSO officers and smiled as she sipped from her drink. Kio slowly walked up behind her, watched her for a moment before turning to Jitsia.
“She looks kinda weird,” Rei finally said not taking her eyes off Jitsia, “dressed up like that.”
Kio’s eyes shifted towards Rei. “No weirder than you, Commander.”
Rei looked down at Kio. “Excuse me?”
“You look like you should be serving drinks.”
Rei laughed quietly. “No more than you.”
Kio shook her head before turning to her boss. “No, I’m far too short. People would accuse Starfleet of violating child labor laws.”
“You’ve grown at least two centimeters since coming on board,” Rei smiled, patting Kio on the top of her head.
Kio scowled. “If I have, it’s simply from all the bones I’ve had dislocated.”
The pair turned and watched Jitsia a bit longer before Rei cleared her throat and poked Kio a bit. “So, I am happy to see you and Sargent Schaefer have finally made things official.”
Kio spun around and stared at Rei, a look of fright crossing her face. “Who-- what--- how do you know about that?!” she stammered before looking around the room for Anthony. “Did he tell you?”
Rei started laughing again. “No, Kio,” she said, grabbing the young lieutenant. “But I’m not blind. I know what... sexual tension... looks like.” Rei sighed. “Hell, been there, done that. So, I know also know what it looks like when it’s no longer there.”
Kio blushed brightly, causing Rei to laugh. Rei noticed that Jitsia was finishing up her conversation with her group, and quickly leaned over to Kio.
“I also know what true love looks like,” she smiled, whispering into Kio’s ear. “Just please, don’t break him.”
Kio, her face still on fire from blushing, nodded, as Rei patted her on the shoulder and walked over to Jitsia.
“Hey Rei,” Jitsia smiled, embracing her.
“Sia,” Rei answered, hugging her back before kissing her quickly. “It’s been a really long week.”
“Something we’ll have to get used to.”
“Were they nice to you at the LDF base?”
“Mostly, till they realized how awesome we were, then they kind of got jealous.”
Rei chuckled. “Did Lt. Pan’s promotion officially go through yet?”
“Lt. Commander Pan now.”
Rei lost her smile for a bit. “So, whatever happened with...”
Jitsia shooed away a waiter before she took Rei’s hand and moved the pair to a more private area. She then looked to Rei, an odd expression on her face; one that seemed to be a mix of regret but also contempt. “The Symbiosis Commission said that my incident isn’t the first report of the Gras symbiont ‘exerting control’ over its host.”
Rei was shocked. “What?”
Jitsia nodded. “Of course, because it was ‘impossible’ for that to happen, they blew it off. But now that it’s happened again, they had no choice...”
“No choice?” Rei asked.
“The symbiont was destroyed,” Jitsia explained, rather callously.
Rei thought about this for a moment. “Good.”
Jitsia nodded curtly.
“Did they say what would happen to Ishran?”
A twitch went across Jitsia’s face at the mention of his name. Rei noticed it and took her hand as she spoke.
“Siohxx is awaiting his court-martial,” she said, nearly growling. “The JAG office took a statement from me, and said I might be needed, but they doubt it.”
Jitsia nodded in frustration. “He- he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong,” she said, shaking her head. “He’s freely admitted what he did to me but swears up and down it’s alright because of some ‘arrangement’ he had with Gras.”
Jitsia sighed and gripped Rei’s hands tightly. “At least, though,” she said, smiling at Rei, “neither of them can hurt anyone else.”
Rei started to nod but is frozen as Jitsia leaned over and kissed her. Rei lost herself in the moment, not caring if anyone was watching because right now, this was exactly where she wanted to be.
“Did you know those two were dating?” Makoto asked Amanda as she glanced over towards Rei and Jitsia.
Amanda shook her head.
“It’s pretty impolite to stare,” Usagi said, walking up to the group.
“Did you know they were dating?” Makoto asked Usagi.
“Yes,” Usagi replied.
“Really?” Amanda asked.
Usagi bit her lip. “Maybe.”
Makoto eyed her for a moment.
“No,” Usagi admitted. “But it’s still impolite to stare.”
Makoto nodded and looked around a bit more. “I thought you were hanging out with Lt. Commander Devall.”
“I was,” Usagi nodded, her gaze turning sour. “I said I wanted to come and chat with you guys though, but he’s still scared of you, so he wandered off elsewhere.”
“Oh,” Makoto chuckled nervously. “Sorry.”
Usagi just sighed.
“So,” Makoto said, still chuckling and turning to Amanda, “looking forward to your new job as Chief Tactical Officer, Lt. Commander Jansen?”
Amanda nodded. “Yup. I think my time sitting shotgun with you has gotten me ready for anything,” she boasted. “Who’d you get to replace me?”
“Oh,” Amanda smiled. “The second shift tactical supervisor? She’s good.”
Makoto nodded. “Oh yeah. Plus, you can never go wrong with an Andorian manning your guns.”
“Like you’d ever let anyone else touch the guns,” Amanda laughed.
Makoto laughed as well.
“I’m still here you know,” Usagi grumbled.
Makoto grabbed Usagi and hugged her. “And we thank the Gods every day for that!” she smiled.
Usagi grinned as Fleet Admiral Kevin James stepped up to the podium that stood in front of the large, still tinted observation windows.
“ATTENTION ON DECK!” Genma, who was standing next to him called out.
The entire room spun around and snapped to attention. James looked over the room and smiled brightly at the room of senior officers, NEO officers and NEO enlisted personnel of the two ships before nodding once.
“At ease,” he stated.
Once everyone had relaxed slightly, James again took a moment to look over the room.
“It takes a very special breed of person to join Starfleet. Someone who is willing to risk everything for that noble and often repeated vision of seeking out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before. These times, however, call for an even more special breed of Starfleet officer. The Federation faces threats from external forces all around us, and as we have learned, even internal ones that threaten our way of life every single day.”
James took a breath before continuing. “Around one trillion people live throughout the Federation and our protectorates. Most of those people simply wish to live in peace. To raise their families. To engage in trade. To be left to be who they are. We are the only ones who can ensure that happens.”
James looked to Ranma and smiled, continuing, “This task force was created because we realized that we cannot always wait for danger to be on our doorsteps before we respond to it.
“Space is too big, though, for just one of you,” James commented, still looking to Ranma, “despite how effective you have been.”
Ranma and his crew laughed and nodded in return.
“By the authorization of Starfleet Command, I give you the U.S.S. Miyazaki, NX-97046.”
Genma turned around and hit a button, revealing the ship for the first time. The room applauded as they got their first glance at the Sisko’s sister ship.
In general, she looked pretty similar to the Sisko. Ranma could notice several differences, though.
Her nacelles seemed longer and the struts attaching them to the bulk of the ship didn’t appear to be as long making the engines appear to sit ‘higher’ on the ship than the ones on the Sisko. The ‘pod’ on the top of the ship sat lower, closer to the hull and snugger between the pylons. Her deflector array looked more ‘burrowed’ into the saucer section of the ship.
The crew noticed a dock worker in an EVA suit float out to the ship and smash a bottle of synthohol on the hull. Everyone again applauded.
James stepped aside and handed the podium over to Genma. The bald Admiral cleared his throat and looked towards Shampoo.
“I, Vice Admiral Genma Saotome, Starfleet Intelligence, as commander of Task Force RRD-1 do hereby request and command that you, Captain Shampoo assume command of U.S.S. Miyazaki, effective immediately, Stardate 63014, 15:36.”
Shampoo walked up to the podium and took the command authorization PADD from Genma. “I accept command,” she smiled.
“Computer,” Genma called out, “transfer command codes, U.S.S. Miyazaki to Captain Shampoo, authorization Saotome Gamma-Sierra 2-9-9-1-2-1.”
“Command transferred,” the computer replied.
Shampoo smiled brightly before shaking Genma’s hand, then turning around, and going back to her crew and hugging Amanda tightly.
Genma, doing his best not to become emotional, cleared his throat and looked towards Jitsia. “I, Vice Admiral Genma Saotome, Starfleet Intelligence, as commander of Task Force RRD-1 do hereby request and command that you, Commander Jitsia-” he paused, curious about the name on the PADD, but went on anyway, “Carliz assume command of the NSO Task Force assigned to U.S.S. Miyazaki, effective immediately, Stardate 63014, 15:38.”
Jitsia smiled, walked up to the podium, took the command authorization PADD, and nodded. “I accept command,” she said.
Genma smiled as he shook her hand.
Jitsia leaned in and whispered in his ear. “I don’t have Gras anymore. Long story.”
“Oh,” Genma replied.
Jitsia smiled at him before turning and walking back to her group. Genma was a bit frozen at the podium, but a friendly shove from James got him moving again.
“I’m very proud of every single one of you,” James said, looking around the room. “Be safe and continue doing exactly what you’re doing.” He paused for a second before continuing. “Setting an immaculate example for what it means to be Starfleet. Dismissed.”
The two crews milled around for a bit before eventually, they started to get the hint from the shipyard personnel that they wanted them gone. Ranma meandered his way over to Shampoo who was chatting with her first officer.
“Ready to take her for a shakedown cruise?” Ranma asked.
Shampoo smiled. “Was just thinking that,” she admitted.
Ranma was almost jealous of how smoothly the Miyazaki pulled out of the space dock. He was thinking back to when he got his command of the Sisko and was wondering how different things might have been if his drive out of Earth Space Dock hadn’t been such a cluster frack.
Once she was away from the giant metal construction claw, she maneuvered around and pulled up alongside the Sisko. The two ships, not so much twins, but at least sisters, sat side by side. The U.S.S. Benjamin L. Sisko and the U.S.S. Miyazaki; both pointed towards the exit of the Chi nebula, ready to move upon their captain’s command.
“Hail the Miyazaki,” Ranma ordered.
Lt. Commander Kaii, now chief of operations, complied, and Shampoo appeared on the screen.
“Where to, Captain?” Ranma asked.
“Shampoo about to ask you that,” she smiled.
“It’s your shakedown cruise,” Ranma smiled. “Your choice.”
Shampoo rubbed her chin thoughtfully. “Shampoo always want to take Ranma to Risa.”
Minako looked to Ranma and grinned somewhat devilishly.
“Sir,” Makoto growled, “The Miyazaki is targeting us...”
Shampoo sighed heavily before she muted the communication began yelling off-camera what Ranma had to assume were profanities at Jansen. Ranma laughed a bit till Shampoo reopened the audio.
“Sorry,” she sighed. “Weapons officer seeing what buttons do.”
Ranma nodded in understanding. “Risa it is then. The last one there buys lunch.”
Shampoo smiled and nodded.
The Sisko and the Miyazaki slowly thruster their way towards the edge of the nebula, the gas clouds dancing over both their hulls. Once clear each ship began their maneuvering, lining themselves up towards the Risa system. All four of their engines lit up a bright blue, the light from the nacelles reflecting off each ship’s hull; the Sisko’s a matte grey, the Miyazaki’s a duller silver.
Then, in simultaneous flashes of white light, both ships were gone.