UES Enterprise. Earth Orbit.
Captain's Log. April 16, 2151. The pre-launch countdown is underway. All systems show readiness for our upcoming voyage. Despite the problems caused by the accelerated time table, my crew have excelled and we are now running slightly ahead of our predicted schedule.
My only concern is that the two crews, UESPA and UEMA, still don't seem to be intergrating. Whilst there is no apparent sign of outright hostility, relations often seemed strained. If this is not dealt with somehow it may put the long term success of this project at risk.
Captain Archer looked around the shuttle bay. It seemed a little too empty, a little too quiet. If it had been up to him he'd have allowed as many off duty crew members as possible to be present. After all, the arrival of the President of Earth was not something that happens everyday, there was sure to be interest.
Sadly, it wasn't up to him. Given the attempt on the President's life, the Secret Service had insisted that Archer clear the deck of all unnecessary personnel. He had, reluctantly, agreed.
Still, he'd managed to get a bit of leeway into what counted as necessary. The docking bay crew was slightly larger than usual, with several crewmen who would normally be off duty at this time acting as 'assistants' to those scheduled to be here. All the marines who could be spared were present, looking resplendent in their dress uniforms.
On the subject of which....Archer tugged at his collar irritably. It was a little too tight, and some thing about it made his neck itchy. He hated full dress uniform.
He'd designated himself, Hernandez and Trip the official welcoming party, thus guaranteeing their presence for the arrival. Hernandez hadn't arrived yet. She'd sent a message saying that her medical exam had taken longer than anticipated, and she'd only just left sickbay. She'd be with them as soon as she'd changed uniform.
Trip was carefully examining his computer pad, his brow furrowed.
"Problem?" Archer asked.
Trip shook his head slowly. "Prob'ly not. Number three impulse engine is running a bit hot."
"Oh, it's still well within tolerances. It's just...unusual. Doesn't seem to be any cause for it."
"Seriously Trip, I need to know, right now, is this going to affect our mission?"
To his credit Trip thought about this carefully. "I honestly can't see how cap'n. They're pretty sturdy, those engines. Even if it was running twenty, maybe thirty per cent over maximum recommended temperature, it'll still do it's job. Of course, it'd need replacing ASAP, but it'd get us there and home again."
He examined the pad carefully. "Think I'll increase coolant flow to compensate, just be on the safe side. Relax, cap'n, worst comes to the worst, we just shut it down. Heck, there's half a dozen automatic systems that'll do that if there's any risk to the ship. And we still got two spare impulse engines."
The main hatch levered open and Hernandez entered, still adjusting her dress uniform.
"My apologies gentlemen. Doctor Locke's examination went..."
Archer held up a hand. "It's all right, Commander. We understand."
Trip looked up from his pad. "So how d'you find Locke?"
She thought for a moment. "Thorough." she said simply, rubbing her arm.
Trip grinned. Even in the short time the doctor had been on board, Locke's predilection for taking blood had become legendary.
"Hey cap'n. Any truth in the rumours that Doc' Locke has forbidden chef from givin' him anythin' with garlic in it?"
Any reply Archer may have given was interrupted by the tannoy. "All shuttlebay staff on standby. Presidential shuttle has made secure contact on pad three, descending into airlock."
A loud warning siren followed, accompanied by flashing lights at pad three. Even over the noise the rumble of the lowering pad could be made out. There was a clang, more felt than heard, as the space doors closed.
The siren ceased, though the lights continued to flash. The tannoy spoke again. "Shuttle secure. Beginning re pressurisation."
Now the hiss of air could be heard.
Archer licked his lips nervously. He glanced at the others, and prodded Trip's arm to get his attention. The engineer was still holding his pad. The Secret Service would be very wary to see anyone holding anything.
Trip looked nervous. He went to stash the pad, but the dress uniform pockets were too narrow. Glancing around, he tossed it to one of the nearby crewmen, who almost dropped it.
"I'll want that later. Put it somewhere safe, outta sight."
A different siren sounded, and the tannoy said "Pad three pressurised. Stand clear of pad three, stand clear of pad three. Main hatch opening."
There was a slight inward rush of air as the double doors swung open. After another warning on the tannoy, the shuttle pad began trundling back on it's tracks. Unlike pads one and two, which were designed for the smaller types of shuttle, pad three was intended for much larger ones. As such it was considerably slower. Archer found himself muttering "Come on, come on." under his breath.
Finally the pad reached disembarkation point. The sirens and warning lights ceased. For several seconds nothing seemed to happen. Archer knew that all sorts of procedures had to be carried out. Engine shut downs. Security protocols. But he wasn't in that loop at the moment.
A thin sheen of mist drifted from the shuttles surface, moisture in the air reacting to the still cold surface.
The President was Head of State for the entire United Earth, not just a particular region. Still, some national traditions had been adopted for planetary use. And so it was, as the shuttles boarding ramp swung open, that the old standard 'Hail To The Chief' played over the speaker system.
The President had arrived.