Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Arapaho: At Last

Scene: Starbase Epsilon

Captain Russell looked out the window of the observation deck on Starbase Epsilon, watching the alpha docking ring about a kilometer away. Dozens of ships of all types and origins were at port there, but he had his eyes on one that was empty. Large painted figures on the outside of the dock were clearly visible even from this far away. They read “348.”

Zachary took a long sip of strong black coffee and looked at his watch. It was almost 0430. He resisted the urge to check with base communications, allowing himself the innocent thrill of waiting. He looked deep out into space, and for the first time in an hour, he could just begin to make out two tiny spots.

They might be light grey ships, but from here they were merely specks illuminated by the nearby star. Still, an excitement rose from within the captain he hadn’t felt in years. There were no other ships due into the alpha ring at this time; these specks could only be the Poseidon and Arapaho.

Forcing himself to sit still and finish his coffee, he waited until he could clearly make out the silhouettes of both the Sovereign and Akira class vessels. Ordering another cup, he waited until he could clearly make out the registry numbers painted across the dorsal bow: U.S.S. ARAPAHO NCC-62629, and U.S.S. POSEIDON NCC-46559. Finally, as he watched the Akira separate from the Sovereign and enter the docking perimeter, he allowed himself to get up and head toward the docking ring. He looked again at his watch: 0458. Commander Pritchard was two minutes early.

Zachary tapped his combadge as he walked out to the corridor. “Russell to Commander Hilani. She’s here.”

[Acknowledged, sir. I can see her now.] *So he had been watching, too,* Russell thought, pleased. *Good.* [I’ll meet you as discussed.]

“Very well. Russell out.” The doors slid open and Russell exited, eager to make a very special new acquaintance.

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