Archer sat in Fleet Admiral Masamoto's office along with Admiral Forest and Vice Admiral Mai Ling. It was a large, bright office with small models of the different class Starfleet starships on a shelf behind his desk. The group sat at his small conference table. Archer looked over at Masamoto. His stone face was recognizable by any first year midshipman. He was a legend, as the first Captain of a warp 2 capable ship. Now his stone faced was softened by salt and pepper hair.
"Starfleet Intelligence has delivered a disturbing report about the Romulans," said Masamoto.
The attractive head of Starfleet Intelligence, Vice Admiral Mai Ling, took that as her cue to speak, especially as Masamoto sat back in his chair.
"After the Vulcans finally admitted to us that the Romulans were of the same genetic family tree, we started a profile on them with the help of the Vulcans. They are an emotional war-like people, who prefer to conquer then make treaties. In war they don't believe in taking prisoners or being taken prisoner. Like the Vulcans, they are highly intelligent and physically indistinguishable from the Vulcans, except for protruding forehead and temperament," she said.
"How is this disturbing?" asked Archer.
"The disturbing part is that we have reports of the Romulans building a massive space station in Vulcan space. It appears that they are going to use Vulcan space as a beachhead to invade. As we know the Vulcan was on the edge of Beta Quadrant, barely in the Alpha Quadrant. By building up their presence in Vulcan space they are staying true to their aggressive nature, which means an incursion into the Alpha Quadrant," she explained.
"What sort of time frame are we looking at for them to make a move?" asked Forest.
Archer noticed that Forest looked older, greyer. As Chief of Starfleet Operations preparing for a war had to be a burden on the man. He was reshaping and remaking Starfleet.
"We believe within three to six months they will be ready to start testing our resolve," she answered.
"Captain Archer, how is the refit and upgrade of the Enterprise going?" asked Masamoto.
"I was told it would take seven weeks to complete. I should be taking command of my starship in six days," said Archer.
"I heard that the Enterprise will now be warp 6 ready," said Forest.
Archer smiled, "With deflector shields, a tractor beam, better weapons, and more room in the addition of new engineering and nacelle section. What I don't have is a first officer and a chief engineer."
"Who do you have in mind to fill those positions?" asked Masamoto.
"I'd like to promote Lieutenant Reed to Lieutenant Commander and make him my first officer and do the same with Lieutenant Alexandra Hess," he said.
"Make arrangements with the Detailers Office," said Masamoto. "Tell him that you have my okay."
"I'm also going to need a new comm officer since Ensign Sato has been stolen from me," said Archer.
"Ensign Sato is going to be in demand at Starfleet Headquarters. With her linguistic abilities she has the diplocorp, cryptography, and communications vying for her attention," said Forest.
"Tell the Detailer to find a good comm officer for you," said Masamoto.
"Thank you, sir," said Archer.
"Once you are ready, Captain, we want you to take four of the new Daedalus Class ships and act as a forward guard for Corp of Engineers as they build Starbase Alamo," said Forest.
"Starbase Alamo?" smirked Archer.
"When finished it will be the closest base we have to Vulcan space. We've talked to the Andorians and they are allowing us to build this base near P'Jem, which houses a Vulcan monastery. Although it's near Andorian space, they do not want to protect a Vulcan monastery," said Forest.
"But they will allow us to protect the monastery and act as a forward guard for them," said Archer.
"Exactly," said Forest.
"Will five starships be enough?" asked Archer.
"It will have to be for now. We don't quite have a large enough fleet just yet," said Forest.
"I think when I get to P'Jem I'll see if I can get in touch with Shran. I think the Andorian should know that they won't be able to sit on the sidelines for long once the Romulans make their move," said Archer.
"Do so," said Masamoto. "If we can build a coalition to keep the Romulans in check then the better our chances of being able to hold off until we are ready to retake Vulcan."
"I hope the Vulcan remain patience," said Archer.
"If we were forced to be patient by them then they can be patient," said Forest with a grin.
The Presidio gates kept the new earth first anti-alien group, Terra Prime protestors at bay. Three hundred gathered with placards with sayings such as Send Green Blood not Red Blood to Aliens Go Home. Starfleet Security was called in to push them back as Starfleet Marines were posted at the gate for extra protection. As a precaution Marines were also posted at the Vulcan compound in Sausalito.
Trip's morning job took past the gate, so he witnessed humanity at its worst. When they saw him, they started to yell at him calling him an alien lover. Some of them decided to call him by some colorful expletives, which caused Trip to laugh. He offered them a salute and continued his job. He reached the area with the bungalow apartments where he was staying. Punching in the code to his bungalow, his door opened and he entered.
Vice Admiral Jefferies had informed him that Starfleet had decided to phase out the flight suit uniform for officers and were introducing new officer uniforms. According to the new regs non-coms would still be wearing flight suit uniforms. Jefferies sent him over two garment bags of new uniforms and informed him to wear the new uniform to a meeting today with Fleet Admiral Masamoto and Jefferies.
Trip took a long hot shower, toweled himself off, and then walked into his bedroom. It was time to check out Starfleet's latest idea for a uniform. Trip liked the old flight suit uniform. They fit nicely and were easy to work in when you were crawling around a Jefferies tube. He unzipped a garment bag and looked at his new uniform.
The new uniform consisted of black pants with two strips down each leg. The strips were the color of your division: red for security and engineering, green for medical and science, and gold for command and ops. Next was the short tunic jacket, which had the division color along the along and tunic opening of the jacket. The rank strips were on the sleeve, the rank insignia on the color, Starfleet insignia on left breast, and assignment patch on the left upper arm. It also came with a black tee shirt to wear underneath the jacket.
Trip was both impressed and shocked by the new uniform. He was impressed by the fact he liked the uniform. It looked smart. What shocked him was the division color and rank insignia and strips. His division was the gold of command and his rank insignia and strip were that of a captain. Trip was sure that a mistake had been made.
He stormed over to the view screen in his bedroom. Quickly he contacted Vice Admiral Jefferies. His secretary answered, noticed that Trip was standing in a towel only, and immediately forwarded his comm to Jefferies.
"How can I help you, Tucker?" said Jefferies in a slightly amused tone.
"Sir, I think there has been a major mistake. I received the new uniforms and I was about to put it on when I noticed it is the uniform for a captain in the command division. I'm an engineer and a commander," he said.
Jefferies smiled then said, "You are now a captain in command. I expect you at the meeting with Fleet Admiral Masamoto. We will be discussing your promotion and other matters," said Jefferies then the screen went blank.
"Son of a bitch," Trip said to himself.
He looked over the uniform and sighed.
"Son of a bitch," he said again.
Trip waited in the waiting room with his hands behind his back, his tongue stuck in his right cheek, and pacing back and forth. As ordered by Vice Admiral Jefferies he wore the new uniform with his new rank, but he did so under duress and protest. At least, he was protesting under his breath.
The doors whooshed open and Commander Patel exited the office and smiled at Trip. He reflexively smiled back.
"Fleet Admiral Masamoto and Vice Admiral Jefferies will see you now, Captain Tucker," she said.
Trip wanted to look behind him for another Captain Tucker. Patel escorted him into the office where Jefferies and Masamoto sat at the conference table, which had a thermos of coffee, three mugs, cream, and sugar. Their conversation stopped when Trip and Patel entered.
"Thank you, Commander," said Jefferies.
This was Jefferies office, smaller than Masamoto with holos of his wife, children, and grandchildren. Masamoto looked at Trip and motioned him to sit, as Jefferies poured him a mug of coffee.
"How to you like your coffee?" asked Jefferies.
"Light and sweet," he said.
Jefferies fixed up his coffee then handed it over to Trip.
"To start with, Captain Tucker, congratulations on your promotion to captain," said Masamoto.
"Thank, sir. It was unexpected and I really don't know why I go it."
"I shall explain something to you, Captain Tucker, when dealing with an adversary and they inform me that I shouldn't do something then I tend to want to do what they don't want me to do. The Vulcans don't want you to be the captain of the joint venture ship we are building, so I have promoted you and made you the captain," explained Masamoto.
Trip looked over at Jefferies and saw him smiling.
"But, sir, I'm not experience enough to captain a starship," said Trip.
"You will be the captain of this ship through design, building, and shakedown cruise," said Jefferies. "You will not necessarily be the captain thereafter."
"I want someone with paramount engineering skills pushing the Vulcans," said Masamoto. "Admiral Jefferies has complained to me that the Vulcan work at a snail's pace. They double and triple check everything and over analyze things. They are also overly cautious and risk adverse. It has been seven weeks and you don't even have a design for the starship yet. I want this built in six months. Prime Minister Samuels has given me carte blanche to get this ship built. I expect you to get that ship built sooner rather than later."
"Sir, Vulcans are not easy to deal with. They say they don' like to argue, but they will waste hours arguing small points," Trip said.
"I will start pushing the Vulcans from my end, Tucker," said Jefferies, "and you need to get results. I want a finalized design in the next two weeks.
Trip looked at Jefferies then instinctively ran his right hand through his dirty blonde hair. He was now a captain of a non-existent starship that Fleet Admiral wanted made reality within six months.
"I guess I have a lot work to do, sir," said Trip.
"What are you plans for the rest of the day?" asked Masamoto.
Trip looked at the fleet admiral and smiled.
"I'm supposed to meet Captain Archer and a few others at the 602 for drinks in three hours," said Trip.
Jefferies looked over at Masamoto, who stared at Trip for a few moments then said, "Give my bet to Ruby."
Trip took a hover-taxi to the 602 Club in Mill Valley. After paying the fare he walked into the old 602. The bar was filled with Starfleet officers in their new uniforms. Behind the bar stood Ruby and beside her a man or similar age, who leaned down and kissed her forehead. Trip scanned the room until his eyes settled on the table where Archer, AG Robinson, and Malcolm Reed sat drinking drafts of beer and snacking on chicken wings. He walked over and joined them.
"Can anyone join you?" asked Trip.
Archer looked up with a big smile on his face. At first he was amused then he noticed the gold trim and the rank insignia. His smile fell.
"My God, is that Captain Tucker?" said AG.
"Afraid so," said Trip sitting down in the empty chair at the table.
"Mate, you're a captain," said Malcolm.
"I know," sighed Trip.
"How old are you?" asked AG
"I'll be 31 in twelve days," said Trip.
"First the youngest commander in Starfleet history and now the youngest captain," said AG, who lifted his glass, toasted him then took a swig.
"Trip, you're a captain," Archer finally spoke.
"I know, Captain," said Trip.
"Damn it, Trip, now I'll never get you back as my chief engineer or first officer," said Archer.
"Trust me, sir, I don't want to be a captain," he said.
AG waved his hand in the air then shouted, "Ruby, we need a beer here for Captain Tucker. Actually, make it two pitchers. We now have a good reason to get drink."
Four pitchers of beer and several shots of single malt scotch later and the four officers were well in their cups. Archer had undid part of his jacket so that it hung down like a flap. They were listening to AG regale them with his latest conquest.
"So this pretty young commander agreed to go hiking with me," he said then a devilish smile crossed his lips. "We didn't do much hiking."
"Bloody marvelous, mate," said Malcolm.
Trip picked up the shot of scotch in front of him and then downed it. He'd never been too heavy a drinker, but somehow tonight it seemed appropriate for him to get very drunk.
"So, Trip, how the love life?" asked AG.
"Non-existent," he answered.
"Really," said AG, "not eve Natalie?"
"Natalie dumped me. A dear John letter six months into the mission," said Trip.
"Don't believe him that his love life is non-existent. Alien women love Trip," said Malcolm.
"Trip held the record for away team injuries and romances," said Archer.
Trip blushed as the others laughed at his expense. Ruby came over to the table.
"Can I call you guys a hover-taxi?" she asked.
"Wait before we answer that I need to ask the lovely Ruby a question," said Malcolm.
"Alright, Lieutenant Commander Reed, ask away," she smiled.
"Trip or me, who was better?" he asked.
Trip blush deepened.
"See the bartender," she said.
"I see him," said Malcolm.
"He's my husband," said Ruby.
"Congratulations, Ruby," Malcolm said then he smiled. "Trip or me, who was better?"
Ruby laughed then she whispered in his ear. Malcolm blushed this time then he looked at Trip. Ruby stood up and looked at the rest of the occupants of the table.
"Are you ready for your final bill?" she asked.
"It's on…," Archer started to speak.
"Put it on my bill. I'll be by tomorrow to pay it off," said AG.
Ruby walked over to Trip, leaned down, and kissed his cheek.
"Congratulations, Captain Tucker," she said.
"Thanks, Ruby," he said.
She sauntered off. Archer and AG turned their attention to Malcolm, who was now sitting quietly.
"Okay, what did she whisper in your ear?" asked AG.
"Do I have to order to tell us, Malcolm?" added Archer.
"She said that Captain Tucker's package is the most impressive she's come across," said Malcolm.
AG and Archer looked over at Trip.
"She just joshing Malcolm for being rude," said Trip.
"Don't be embarrassed, Trip. A compliment like that one you don't run from," said AG.
"Hell, Trip, it would explain your track record with alien women," smiled Archer.
"I need to go home and get some sleep," Trip said, as the world stared to turn on its axis for him. "I'm not feeling too hot."
Archer smiled, "I'll make sure you get home."
The Enterprise along with four retrofitted Daedalus Class starships, the Magellan, Columbus, James Cook, and Sacagawea, prepared to escort the Corp of Engineer ships and a the Marine transport the Boyington prepared to leave the Sol System. Since the Enterprise would take the lead, Archer took his place in his refitted Bridge. He sat down on his command chair.
"Ensign Tatupu, hail Task Force: Outer Arm," ordered Archer.
The language Ensign hailed the other starships and connected the to the Enterprise, When she was done, she turned in her chair and looked at Archer.
"All the captains are ready for you, sir," she said.
"Thank you, Ensign," said Archer. "Put me on the comm."
HE stood up and prepared to speak. If Trip was here, he'd be smirking while I gave my speech. He cleared his throat.
"This is Captain Jonathan Archer. We are headed to P'Jem, a small planet not far from Vulcan space and on the edge of Andorian space. There the Corp of Engineers are going to build Starbase Alamo. Now, the name Alamo was chosen to give the impression that we have no intention of backing down. The Romulans will push boundaries and borders and we shall be there to push back," he stated. "On my mark, accelerate to warp 4."
Archer sat back down in his command chair. He looked over at Lieutenant Commander Reed, who nodded that everything was ready. Leaning forward in his chair, Archer smiled.
"Travis, set a course for P'Jem, warp 4," he said,
"Yes, sir," said Mayweather. "Course set and ready for warp."
"Hit it," said Archer.
The Enterprise and the rest of the ships of warped away.
T'Pol entered Soval's personal office on the Vulcan Compound in Sausalito. He was now considered the lead councilor of the Vulcan Government in Exile. Solkar was the secondary councilor. Soval sat on a sofa looking tired. He was drinking some green tea, as they had run out of Vulcan teas. T'Pol sat down opposite him on a small settee.
"I am sorry to hear that the transport Koss was on was destroyed by Nausicaan Brigands," said Soval.
"His loss will be felt," she said.
Soval sipped his tea then put it down.
"Would you care for a tea?" he asked.
"No, Councilor," she said.
"Your mother is on Proxima along with several other Vulcans, who have asked to be transferred to Earth for personal reasons. Proxima and Alpha Centuri UE Colonies have been accepting and gracious with the refugees. Unfortunately, here on Earth an anti-alien group called Terra Prime has formed. I do not understand why your mother and these other Vulcans wish to come to Earth," he said.
"I have not heard from her, so I do not know her mind," T'Pol said.
Soval nodded. He picked up a PADD and extended it to her. T'Pol took it from him.
"You are now the second in charge of the Joint Protect with Starfleet to build a battleship. Your experience working with Captain Tucker is considered valuable. It is hoped that you can temper him and help control him," said Soval.
"Captain Tucker is not easily controlled," she stated.
"I know. Tavin said that he has taken control of the design process. He along with a Dr. Andrea Pappas is becoming the driving force behind the project. Our calls for caution and patience are now being ignored," said Soval.
"Has a new time schedule been set up?" asked T'Pol.
"Yes," sighed Soval. "Instead of eighteen months for completion, the new schedule has the starship being completed in seven months. Eighteen months is rushing, but this new schedule can only lead to mistakes."
"I shall endeavor to minimize mistakes," said T'Pol.
"That is what we are hoping for," said Soval.