“Captain,” Ivanova stood up from the table as she watched Captain Sheridan walk into the relaxation area, Lieutenant G’Fokk had called this the ‘Forward Bar’ when he’d finished their tour here, shortly after Seven had joined them with Marcus and Delenn.
“Commander,” Sheridan smiled as he walked over. “I must say Captain, this is quite a ship you’ve got here.” He smiled as Captain Dax stood up and brought another two chairs over to the table for them to join the group. “I could spend a year going over this ship and still not have it all figured out.” He said with a smile as he took the chairs offered and set them at the table with the group.
“One of the most advanced ships in Starfleet,” Ezri smiled at him. “Can I get you something?” She asked, gesturing to the bar.
“Oh,” Sheridan paused, noticing that both Susan and Marcus had mugs of drink in front of them. “Susan?” He asked, noting the mug she had was steaming and looked suspiciously like coffee.
“Something Captain Dax recommended,” Susan smiled at him. “I believe she called it a Rockdegino?” She asked, looking over at Ezri for confirmation.
“Raktajino,” Ezri nodded. “Klingon coffee.”
“Coffee?” Sheridan asked, his eyes opening wider at this as he reached over and sniffed Susan’s drink.
“A bit stronger than the earth variant, Jadzia always liked it with more sugar than normal coffee to take away the aftertaste.” Ezri explained.
“It is a warriors way to start the morning,” G’Fokk nodded in agreement.
“Very well,” Sheridan nodded at the large Klingon sat with them. “I’ll have one of those then.”
“I’ll get it,” Commander Bowers smiled as he moved away from the group to get his own drink along with one for Captain Sheridan.
“I was just telling Ambassador Delenn than all your crew are settling in fine,” Ezri explained. “I explained to Mr Lennier how to use one of the food replicators I had brought down for them.”
“They are all well,” Delenn smiled back over the table. “I believe some of them have expressed an interest in seeing more of your ship though Captain.”
“That can be arranged,” Ezri nodded. “We can arrange small tours if you’d like.”
“I’m sure that would be appreciated Captain,” Delenn nodded in appreciation. “Most would find your arboretum most enjoyable.”
“I’ll make sure to make a note of that,” Ezri smiled over. “Captain?” She asked, looking over at where Captain Sheridan was staring out of the large windows that covered the far side of the room, offering a large view of the starfield outside.
“It’s quite something isn’t it?” Susan nodded after seeing what Sheridan was staring at. “We’re used to travelling in Hyperspace for long journeys like this. The red and black swirls get a bit much after a while, nothing like this.”
“I’ll say,” Sheridan nodded, still not taking his eyes off of the windows where stars were streaking by at unimaginable speeds. “Something I have been wanting to ask you though Captain,” Sheridan paused, taking his eyes off the stars outside and turning to Captain Dax. “So far I’ve seen five, maybe six species serving aboard this ship.”
“We’ve seen three or four,” Susan nodded in agreement, knowing what Sheridan was going to ask. “That blue skinned one with the antennae?” She asked, looking at Marcus.
“Andorian,” G’Fokk explained with a nod.
“Right,” Sheridan broke back in. “You have all these different species working aboard one space ship, can I assume this is normal for your Starfleet?” He asked, remembering what Commander Bowers had told him about Starfleet back in their home universe.
“Pretty much,” Ezri nodded. “Most Starfleet ships are crewed by any number of species from the Federation, Andorian, Vulcan, Trill, Klingon, Human, Orion, Caitian…”
“I remember that one,” Sheridan nodded. “Ensign…” He trailed off as Commander Bowers came back with his Raktajino.
“M’rrissa,” Commander Bowers filled in, having heard some of the conversation on his way back.
“Right,” Sheridan said with a nod of thanks as he took the offered mug. “So Starfleet accepts people from all these worlds to serve on ships?”
“And more,” Commander Bowers explained as he sat down. “The United Federation of Planets is just that Captain, any member world can contribute members to Starfleet, we even have a few species serving in Starfleet that aren’t Federation members but the individual has expressed a wish to join.”
“Interesting,” Sheridan nodded thoughtfully. “And you don’t have any trouble with different species on board?” He asked, clarifying when Captain Dax raised her eyebrow at him. “I mean with atmospherics, gravity, that sort of thing.” He explained. “On Babylon Five we have separate sectors mapped out for aliens who need specialised living quarters, variable gravity, different gasses in the air, that sort of thing.”
“We have a few,” Ezri nodded at the question. “Most species who need specialised equipment to serve aboard a starship prefer to work with their own ships however, but there are exceptions where we can provide breathing equipment or exosuits to help if the species comes from a world with lighter gravity than a standard starship normal.”
“Well, it’s quite something,” Sheridan nodded with a smile as he tasted the Raktajino, smiling at the taste. “I’ve been meaning to ask…”
“Bridge to Captain Dax.”
“One second Captain,” Ezri frowned as she tapped her commbadge. “Yes Lieutenant?”
“Sensors are picking up a large fleet of ships ahead Captain,” The voice over the commlink explained. “At current warp we’ll be within range in seven minutes.”
“We are currently in Centauri space Captain,” Ambassador Delenn explained. “It would be wise to avoid their fleets. The Centauri are quite protective of their boarders, and are currently at war with three of the other species in this area of space.”
“Noted, thank you Ambassador,” Ezri nodded in thanks. “Change course to avoid the ships, give them a wide birth Lieutenant.”
“Aye sir,” The voice over the commlink returned.
“I’d better get back up there,” Ezri said as she stood up. “I’m sure Commander Bowers can see to any of your needs until we reach our destination.”
“Happy to,” Commander Bowers said with a nod.
“Captain,” Ezri smiled down to Sheridan before she moved away from the table and out of the Forward Bar area.
“Captain,” Seven nodded over to her as Captain Dax walked out of the turbolift onto the bridge area, looking around on instinct to check on the situation here.
“Seven,” Ezri nodded back. “Everything ok?” She asked, smiling at Lieutenant Paul as he vacated the captain’s chair for her.
“Indeed,” Seven replied simply as Lieutenant Paul came over to join them.
“We ran a long range scan of the immediate area, there are a lot of ships here Captain,” Lieutenant Paul frowned as he explained their findings. “I’d say they were war ships from the way they seem to be patrolling in groups of three or five, sticking to designated areas from what I can see.”
“I concur with Lieutenant Paul’s findings,” Seven nodded in agreement.
“So does Ambassador Delenn,” Ezri explained. “Apparently we’re in a sector of space controlled by a race called the Centauri, who seem to be at war with a number of other species on their borders.”
“An aggressive species then,” Lieutenant Paul rolled his eyes. “Keep long range scans going, alter course as needed to put a five light year gap between us and any patrols.”
His orders were met with Ezri’s approval as the ensign manning the helm automatically looked towards the officer manning the astrometrics station and transferred open links over.
“Any sign of the Borg sphere that came through with us?” Ezri asked, looking at Seven first and then towards Lieutenant Paul. “Anything?” She asked when Seven didn’t answer immediately.
“Nothing that our sensors could record,” Seven explained. “It is likely the Borg are assimilating technology and species in this dimension in an effort to understand how they arrived here. Without a link to the collective or the Queen, automatic protocols will fall into effect.”
“And these protocols are?” Lieutenant Paul asked before Ezri could.
“Establish a collective within the dimension they are in, enhance their defensive, offensive and biological components with species from this dimension. Obtain any technology and information that could be of use to the collective upon their return, then return home via any means necessary with the information to bring reinforcements to this dimension.” Seven reeled off the list quickly, having had the core protocols installed in her mind for decades while she was a member of the collective.
“The Borg have had dealings with other dimensions before then?” Ezri asked curiously, wondering why she hadn’t asked Seven about the Borg’s past exploits before.
“Indeed,” Seven nodded. “Species eight four seven two, a species the Borg were unable to assimilate came from a neighbouring dimension of fluidic space.”
“Of course,” Ezri nodded, remembering reading about them in the Voyager database that Captain Janeway had brought back from the Delta Quadrant, it had been published on the Starfleet officers network, while it wasn’t required reading as such, it had quickly become one of the most viewed documents in the Starfleet database, with pretty much every member of Starfleet wanting to know what was actually out there on the opposite side of the galaxy. “Is it possible The Borg will find a way back to our own dimension?”
“In time, perhaps.” Seven nodded back. “Dimensional anomalies are well documented by The Borg, it is likely they will seek to create their own dimensional rift to return home once they have amassed suitable technology to do so.”
“We need to stop them then.” Ezri said with a frown. “If they can get back, then they could bring through more Borg here. I don’t want to be responsible for inflicting The Borg on this dimension.”
“It is unlikely the species of this dimension could withstand a Borg attack Captain,” Seven explained. “Given the level of technology witnessed so far, I see little that could stand against a Borg assault.”
“I’m with Seven,” Lieutenant Paul nodded. “Blockade mines, even that Whitestar ship, hell, that black spikey ship might give them pause for a bit, but they’d adapt pretty quickly.”
“Indeed,” Seven nodded in agreement. “The ship we encountered displayed biological readings much like Species Eight Four Seven Two, it is likely that their ships would be targets for assimilation much like the ships of Species Eight Four Seven Two were.”
“We have to find that Borg sphere before it does any more damage here,” Ezri said firmly. “Keep astrometrics running, I want to know the second there’s any indication of Borg activity.”
“Yes Captain,” Seven nodded simply, having already anticipated this and programmed in the parameters herself.
“This is truly a beautiful place,” Ambassador Delenn smiled as she walked through the arboretum with Marcus and Commander Bowers.
“I come here often to relax myself,” Commander Bowers smiled back.
“I’m curious,” Delenn asked. “Do the trees and plants here provide oxygen for your ship, there doesn’t seem to be enough here to provide the atmosphere you’d need.”
“No,” Commander Bowers shook his head. “The arboretum here is for relaxation and biological research only, we’ve come across a few new interesting plants here or there, some we can grow, and then synthesise for medicinal purposes, others for various reasons.” He explained. “The atmosphere on the ship is controlled by dedicated systems all over the ship; we don’t require places like this to produce the oxygen we’d need.”
“I thought as much,” Delenn nodded with a smile. “Captain Sheriden tells me you also have place for an education centre aboard, and families?”
“There aren’t any aboard at the moment if that’s what you’re asking,” Commander Bowers smiled as they continued walking. “But yes, most exploration class vessels have places for families and schooling, as we’re away from Earth for so long, it becomes a necessity some times for officers to bring their families along with them for extended periods.”
“But there aren’t any aboard at the moment?” Marcus clarified.
“No,” Commander Bowers shook his head. “Things got pretty hairy back home just before we left, so all unnecessary personnel were transferred off before we started.” He explained. “We weren’t expecting to be gone for long, so we’ve got quite a few crew members stranded here without their families now.”
“Minbari sometimes go for years without seeing their families Commander,” Delenn explained. “Serving our people is one of the highest callings a Minbari can afford himself.”
“We take a different view on that Ambassador,” Commander Bowers explained diplomatically. “Where most star ships function well without families or…” He trailed off as his commbadge chirruped. “Bowers here.” He answered with a tap.
“Commander, we are approaching the coordinates Ambassador Delenn gave us.” Seven’s voice came over the link.
“Very well,” Commander Bowers nodded. “Inform the Captain, I’ll bring Ambassador Delenn to the bridge.” He said simply before closing the link. “Shall we?” He smiled, gesturing for Ambassador Delenn and Marcus to follow him.