Place de la Concorde, Paris, France.
14th April, 2151.
"Good speech, sir." said Lt. Moshiri as Captain Archer boarded the shuttle.
Archer paused, then carefully sealed the hatch. "You saw it?"
"Yes sir." Moshiri replied. There was a tightness around her jaw that suggested she was trying to keep a straight face. With a gesture to the communications display she added "It's been all over the news."
Sinking into his seat, Archer suppressed a groan. He saw the need for public statements, but didn't much care to give them. "I suppose you recorded it?"
"Oh, yes sir. And I took the liberty of contacting Enterprise, so everyone on-board could hear the good news." By this point she was barely able to keep from openly grinning.
He twisted in his seat to look at her. Haleh Moshiri, an attractive, slightly plump young woman of Iranian descent, had been chief navigator on his last deep space mission. He'd pushed hard to ensure she was assigned to the Enterprise. Recently she'd completed her small craft proficiency training, and had volunteered to fly Archer about to get more experience.
She also knew of Archer's aversion to the public spotlight, and found it very amusing.
Whilst she completed the pre-flight, Archer took a deep breath and played the recording.
Fortunately, no one in the press had heard of the assassination attempt. It seemed the reporters had simply gathered after noting the unusual volume of traffic at the governmental building. As such, they all appeared convinced by President Chandrasaker's announcement that his use of the Enterprise at such short notice was simply due to his desire to see the new ship in action.
At that point the President had asked Archer to step forward. Feeling a little like Daniel entering the lion's den, he'd stepped up to the podium. By this point the assembled journalists had been treated to refreshments, and given a hastily prepared, but very convincing, press release. Their behaviour was notably more civilized than at the landing pad, and Archer had been able to deal with their questions to his own satisfaction.
There were a few more questions, mostly about the oncoming trade agreement, which the President deftly handled. Afterwards Archer was ordered to return to his ship and ensure it was prepared for it's voyage. More details about the journey would follow.
"Captain, the Enterprise." Moshiri said softly.
Archer looked up, and smiled. He knew the job would be demanding when he took it, but the rewards were....glorious.
Enterprise was beautiful. Her main body resembled a javelin, ready to be thrust to the stars. At first glance it seemed deceptively slender, but there was strength hidden within. There was something aesthetically pleasing over the domes and hemispheres (properly called 'blisters', although Archer thought that word implied disfigurement) decorating the outer surface. They added a softer, almost feminine aspect.
Almost the last third of the hull was surrounded by the wide annular ring that made up the secondary hull. It was connected to the primary hull by three fins, one vertical, the others swept down and to the sides.
Attached to the two lower fins lay the warp nacelles that would take the ship to speeds that seemed incomprehensible to most minds. Quiescent now, they still had an air of raw untold power amongst them.
Whilst Moshiri contacted Enterprise for final landing clearance, her hands fluttered lightly over the controls. Some of the more expienced hot shot pilots liked to fly through the gap between the primary and secondary hulls. She was not yet comfortable enough to try that, but she did fly past what she knew was one of Archer's favourite sights.
On all other Declaration class ships, an array of missile launchers lay along the dorsal surface. This weapons system was not designed for ship to ship combat. It had no place in defending the vessel.
The military euphemistically described it's purpose as 'pacification of ground based threats'. Or, as Archer understood it, bombardment. Bombardment with a variety of warhead options, including nuclear.
Whilst Enterprise was heavily armed, including nuclear tipped anti ship torpedoes, such a weapons system had no place on an exploration mission. And so it had been replaced.
Large sensor arrays took up most of the space, but some clever designer had realised the value to the crew of a large, relatively open area. The observation dome was essentially a lozenge shaped structure of transparent aluminum, big enough for a couple of dozen people, more if they didn't mind squeezing in. An old fashioned, but still effective, optical telescope allowed stargazing. There was even room for a small bar near the back.
In Archer's mind this said much about the mission. Quite apart from a place to relax, the obs. dome would make an excellent location for formal events. He fondly imagined it as the place where diplomatic relations with newly discovered species would begin, where trade agreements would be signed.
Right now there was no one in the dome, except for a lone crewman cleaning the floor. He saw the shuttle and waved. Archer waved back.
Clearance received, Moshiri brought the shuttle in for a soft landing on the pad. As soon as the locks were in place the pad retracted into the hull, and the double doors slid into place above them. Then came the soft hiss as air was pumped into the chamber.
When the atmospheric pressure was high enough a second pair of double doors, located behind the shuttle, opened. The entire landing pad slid backwards on it's tracks, delivering the shuttle to it's designated debarkation area.
Archer unfastened his safety belt, marvelling at the simple fact that he didn't start floating. Artificial gravity was a new development, his last command had rotating sections to simulate gravity, but not throughout the ship.
"Thank you for the sight seeing tour, Lieutenant."
"My pleasure sir."
As he stepped from the shuttle a couple of crewmen rushed forward, saluting. One asked "Is it true, sir? About the President coming on-board?"
There was a distinct lack of proper protocol in their behaviour, but Archer had never much cared for that sort of thing and let it slide. He nodded affirmation, adding "Guess he must have heard that this is the best ship in space!"
Leaving the crewmen chattering excitedly he strode over to the nearest information terminal, and asked for the location of his chief engineer. It had been the President's express instruction that the fewer who knew about the assassination attempt the better, but as far as Archer was concerned his senior staff had a need to know.
Having found his chief engineer to be, perhaps unsurprisingly, in main engineering, Archer set off to inform Commander Tucker of the news.