“Captain,” Ivanova said wearily as she noticed the shimmer in front of them, they’d swung around to the rear of the ship automatically, as that’s where most ships kept access to their shuttle bays, having to steer the shuttle down between the two large pylons that ran down the back of the sheep almost like a guiding system before finding an open arch for them travel through, what wasn’t expected was the soft golden hue that was shimmering between the arch and the vacuum of space.
“I see it Commander,” Sheridan frowned from where he was sat, Delenn was piloting the shuttle, it was Minbari after all, leaving Sheridan and Ivanova sat slightly back from the main pilot’s console.
“Slowing to a stop,” Delenn said after a moment, effectively parking the transport shuttle just outside of where the energy field was shimmering in front of them. “Impressive, the Minbari have not come across this type of shield technology before.”
“Nor have we,” Sheridan frowned, looking at the shimmering wall of energy. “Shield technology is still a pipe dream as far as the Earth Alliance is concerned; none of the races we’ve had contact with have had much success with it.”
“It appears they have,” Ivanova said wearily.
“We’re receiving a signal,” Delenn explained as she waved her hands over a set of the crystal displays, frowning when a set of Minbari characters came up on the view screen. “We’re to proceed through the shield and dock inside.”
“Through the shield?” Sheridan asked curiously.
“I had the computer translate the instructions twice,” Delenn said thoughtfully. “It is what it says.”
“By all means then,” Sheridan nodded with a small smile, double checking he was secure in the chair and noticing Ivanova doing the same.
The shuttle moved forwards slowly at first, edging towards the shield before touching it with the nose of the ship, as no impact was felt from the force field surrounding the archway, Delenn pushed the ship further forward to land inside the docking area.
“Not much of a force field,” Ivanova said wryly as the shuttle moved through the golden barrier without resistance.
“On the contrary,” Delenn interrupted, gesturing with her hand towards the viewscreen, where Captain Dax, along with Marcus and two other humanoids were stood in the docking area casually. “I’m reading atmosphere and gravity.”
“A directional force field?” Sheridan asked in amazement. “Why, the applications alone are staggering, if this is any indication of the technological level of these people…” He trailed off as Delenn controlled the shuttle to land in the large open area of the shuttle bay, looking out of the view screen at the various shuttle craft and smaller transports that were obviously docked as part of the ships overall complement. “I think we may have just found a valuable ally here Delenn.”
“I agree,” Delenn nodded in agreement as the shuttle landed, a soft thud could be heard as contact was made and clamps automatically engaged. “Atmosphere and gravity appear to be within normal levels.”
“Artificial gravity, shields, makes you wonder what else these people have in their pockets,” Sheridan mused with a smile as the view screen disengaged, unbuckling his belt eagerly and standing up ready to get out and meet this new race face to face for the first time.
“I am as curious as you,” Delenn smiled at him as she stood up from the pilot’s seat, ready to follow Captain Sheridan out of the shuttle to meet the people waiting outside.
“You two be curious, I’ll be the cautious one,” Ivanova muttered, checking her PPG was ready in its holster as she stood up, walking beside Captain Sheridan as Delenn manipulated the controls to lower the boarding ramp.
“A curious design,” G’Fokk commented as he looked at the odd ship that had just docked in the shuttle bay, it was shimmering blue in the light with silver highlights, a sleek and aerodynamic design with odd tail sections coming off the side and back of the shuttle.
“Beautiful though,” Ezri commented as she appreciated the way the crystalline nature of the ship’s hull reflected the bright lights of the shuttle bay.
“All Minbari technology is designed like this,” Marcus explained with a smile. “Almost aquatic I think is the most common thought.”
“I’d agree with them.” Ezri said with a nod, noting the fact that Marcus had identified this as a Minbari ship, not a human built one, watching as three people came out of the back of the shuttle where a ramp had slowly lowered. She watched as the man she had spoken to on the view link twice now took the lead, with the woman Marcus had spoken to, Ambassador Delenn, walking beside him and another woman to the other side. “Captain Sheridan.” She smiled as she walked over to greet him, holding her hand out for him to shake.
“Captain Dax,” Sheridan smiled as he took the hand, a bit surprised at her diminutive height compared to the large alien behind her. “This is Ambassador Delenn,” He said, gesturing to his left. “And Commander Ivanova.” He introduced, gesturing to the woman on his right.
“Lieutenant Commander G’Fokk, my head of security,” Ezri explained, introducing the large alien who towered over the rest of them. “And Seven, our engineering expert.”
“Marcus,” Delenn smiled fondly as Marcus came into view from behind the large alien, she was happy to see he actually seemed more well and rested than he had the last time they had spoken several weeks ago.
“Entil’zha,” Marcus bowed deeply. “Captain Sheridan.” He smiled, bowing to Sheridan as well.
“Marcus,” Sheridan nodded in greeting, having been told about Marcus in great length by Delenn on their trip to the rendezvous point. “This is some ship you’ve got here Captain.” He said, looking around the shuttle bay are the various smaller shuttles he could see parked ready for use.
“I could say the same,” Ezri smiled back. “Your ship and your shuttle are beautiful to look at, quite a unique design compared to others I’ve seen.”
“As is yours,” Sheridan said in agreement to her thoughts. “I don’t believe we’ve come across your race before, and certainly not yours Mr G’Fokk was it?” He asked, hoping he wasn’t offending the large alien with his question.
“G’Fokk is a member of the Klingon race Captain,” Ezri explained. “Proud warriors who serve their empire honourably.”
G’Fokk bowed at her words, baring a set of sharp teeth in what Sheridan approximated was an attempt at a smile, but the sight was more unnerving than having him simply tower over them. The alien must have been nearly seven feet tall, the pure black uniform with the grey strip across the top making him seem that much taller and more imposing against the white and soft blues of the shuttle bay they were stood in.
“What have you got there?” Delenn asked, bringing Sheridan’s attention back to where Marcus was standing, carrying what appeared to be a large bowl of fresh fruit in one hand, a bowl he was sure he hadn’t been carrying moments earlier.
“Are those…” Sheridan trailed off, looking at the bowl in amazement.
“It can’t be,” Ivanova muttered as she saw what Captain Sheridan was staring at. “Apples? Oranges, bananas?” Ivanova asked in amazement.
“All fresh,” Marcus smiled with a nod.
“You’re kidding,” Sheridan said in disbelief, getting fresh fruit this far out in space was murder, literally in some cases. He’d heard tales of smugglers actually killing to get live produce out to the deep range ships and stations.
Ezri nodded with a smile. “Please,” She gestured as Marcus held the bowl out. “I didn’t quite understand when Marcus asked to bring the fruit down with us, but I’m starting to see why he did.” Ezri explained as she watched the three visitor’s gingerly pick up a piece of fruit each to investigate.
“I haven’t seen a fresh orange in… well, a long time,” Sheridan said in awe as he pierced the skin with his thumbnail, enjoying the hiss it made as it sprayed juice over his hand. “God, it’s been years since I’ve done this.” He said in enjoyment, slowly pealing the skin away from the fruit.
“I take it fresh produce is at a premium on Babylon Five then?” Ezri asked, curious to find out everything she could about the nature of the universe they were currently in.
“You could say that,” Sheridan said with a smile. “How… I don’t understand, these are fruits grown on earth, how did you get them out here?”
“Well, to be honest, those fruits weren’t actually grown anywhere,” Ezri said with a small smile. “Come, I’ll explain on the way.” She said, gesturing for them to follow her as she led the way out of the shuttle bay into the corridor outside. “We use a technology called replication for most of our day to day needs,” Ezri explained as she walked, noting how Captain Sheridan and Ambassador Delenn walked alongside her while Commander Ivanova hung back to walk alongside G’Fokk.
“Replication?” Delenn repeated curiously. “I don’t understand.”
“It’s a form of energy to matter transfer,” Seven took over explaining from behind her. “The ships computer stores the information needed to replicate the item, the replicator simple converts the necessary matter and energy stored in the buffer to the requested item.”
“So this isn’t a real orange?” Sheridan asked, amazed at the idea behind the technology they were discussing.
“Not as such no,” Ezri agreed with him. “Though it’s created from an exact quantum scan of an orange, the replicator simply realigns the matter to fit with the original pattern.”
“Tastes real enough,” Sheridan commented after taking a bite cautiously, watching as Ivanova frowned at him before tasting her own apple, where she’d simply been holding it before.
“So you can create anything using these replicators?” Sheridan asked curiously. “Food, supplies, clothing, equipment?”
“Everything we need,” Ezri nodded at him. “The only cost is the energy required to make the conversion in the first place.”
“A curious piece of technology,” Delenn commented from where she was contemplating the small purple berry she was holding.
“That one’s from Risa,” Ezri smiled as she saw the berry Delenn was holding. “I didn’t realise those were in there.”
“Risa?” Sheridan asked, unfamiliar with the name.
“A pleasure planet back home,” Ezri explained fondly. “The berries are grown on one of the bushes that are native to their planet; they have quite strong aphrodisiac properties.” Ezri explained with a soft smile.
“Right,” Sheridan frowned as he fought back the thought of Delenn ingesting aphrodisiacs. “Perhaps you should leave that one.” He suggested, holding out his hand to take the berry off of Delenn, smiling when she placed it in his hand gently. “We don’t know what effect it might have on her physiology.” Sheridan explained to Captain Dax who nodded in agreement.
“I’m sure we can find something for your pallet,” Ezri said with a smile as she paused outside the turbolift doors. “I’ll take Captain Sheridan and Ambassador Delenn up to the conference room,” Ezri explained as the doors opened, showing the turbolift chamber inside. “If you follow we can meet you there.”
“Captain…” Ivanova started to protest but was cut off by Captain Sheridan.
“I’m sure we’ll be fine Commander,” Sheridan said surely as he followed Captain Dax inside the small chamber. “We’ll see you there.” He said simply as the doors closed.
“Is your Captain like this as well?” Ivanova asked, turning to the alien G’Fokk who stood beside her, looking up at him as he loomed a clear foot and a half taller than her.
“Frequently,” G’Fokk snarled out.
“Glad it’s not just me,” Ivanova said as she turned to look at the other member of the crew that had been left with them, the blonde woman that Captain Dax had simply introduced as Seven. She was nearly as tall as she was, with her hair tied back neatly on her head. The bits that caught her eye though were the obvious cybernetic implants above one of her eyes and over her left hand, tracing her fingers like a technological web. “It’s a nice ship.” She commented idly, just to break up the silence more than anything.
“You haven’t seen anything yet,” Marcus said with a smile as the turbolift doors opened with a soft hiss for them to enter.