It was a sunny morning, April, 2245. Captain Robert April stood up, looking across the bay from St. Simon's Island in Georgia. He had taken a week's leave before the launch of his new ship, the USS Enterprise, on which he had worked the last 2 years, readying the systems, based on the testbed vehicle, the USS Constitution, NX-1700, which had been launched with Daystrom's M-1 duotronic computer last year. He was a handsome man, not as young as he used to be, but his girlfriend, Sarah Poole, a native Georgian herself, loved him all the same. He intended to marry her after the shakedown cruise, hopefully in 2246. Born in 2210, he had met her while still a Lieutenant on the Republic, NCC-1371, after which the Constitution class was designed, sharing quite a few features. "Bob," came the soft voice of his girlfriend, clad in a new-style uniform skant, in medical blue. It flattered her figure, and with her long blonde locks falling across her shoulders, it completed the image just as April first met her two years ago back in San Fransisco. "Hi, Sarah," he smiled, as he took her in his arms, and kissed her. "Are you ready to go up? Launch is in about six hours." "The question is, are you ready? You spent the last two years personally supervising her construction, Bob. Starfleet had to practically order you to take a vacation before they'd let you captain her today," Sarah replied playfully. "I've been waiting for this for a long time. Let's go, Lieutenant Commander Poole," he smiled, as he kissed her again in the rising sunlight, the water reflecting the sunlight in a picture-perfect moment. ---- In orbit, the Spacedock greeted the new-style shuttle, which took the long view of the ship, the USS Enterprise, as the shuttle maneuvered itself into the portside shuttlebay of the spacedock, which had fourteen other shuttles already docked. The shuttle maneuvered itself onto a landing pad elevator to the side of the bay, which lowered the shuttle under the deck, and sealed it in, pressurizing the area, before the atmospheric indicator turned green, telling them it was okay to exit the shuttle. "Captain April, welcome to spacedock 03," said the Lieutenant, a young black man with a South African accent, as he turned to the passenger area of the shuttle. "Atmosphere secure. We can exit now, sir." "Thank you Lieutenant van der Pol. Make sure you get a good seat for the launch, alright?" April joked as he shook the Lieutenant's hand. "Wouldn't miss it for the world, sir," he smiled back as he opened the shuttle door, which slid open to the sides, and a ramp descended to allow egress. From the shuttle's elevator bay, the door to the outside beeped, and hissed open, with the spacedock in a state of excited busyness. Engineers hustling about in their red coveralls, enlisted crew moving cargo into containers for the engineering hull's cargo bays. Both port and starboard sides of the saucer held gangway hatches, enabling easy cargo ingress, ever since the NX-01. Even though transporters rendered use of the docking ports superfluous for most in-Federation travel, April appreciated having them. He still wasn't convinced of the safety of the Transporter. Both he and Lt. Cdr. Poole exited the shuttle's bay, and took a right, and followed the flow of traffic to the gallery, the lowest deck of the stardock, with a series of windows around three edges, enabling a grand view of the ship below, and her soon-to-be launch. It was a quick trip, when the turbolift opened, and the gallery turned to greet the two. Eighty dignitaries, admirals, ambassadors, and retired Starfleet officers greeted Captain April and Lt. Commander Poole with nearly a minute of applause. After several minutes of greeting, April came upon the one person who did not stand, an elderly man with a very familiar voice, who had to be over a hundred, accompanied by a female Vulcan, who herself was over a century old. "Captain Robert April, forgive me if I don't stand up to greet you, but I'm not as spry as I used to be when I was running a ship," the old man said as he extended a hand to April. April took his hand and shook it gently, "Not at all, sir. Wait, you're...President Jonathan Archer, aren't you?" "Former President," he corrected. "But that was a long time ago. I preferred just being a captain, truth be told. And this," he gestured to the Vulcan now beside him, "is T'Pol, who served as my first officer, and one of my best friends in the galaxy." "Peace and long life," she said, in the customary greeting, which was returned by April and Poole. She then did a very un-Vulcan thing, and shook both their hands, surprising April and Poole. "I didn't think Vulcans enjoyed physical contact," Poole said, a bit quietly to T'Pol. "Having lived amongst humans for so long, I have picked up some of their habits. A handshake tends to 'break the ice' as it were," she explained. "Such a bad influence, those humans," Archer chuckled lightly, his breathing a little troubled, as T'Pol put a breathing tube back into his nostrils to aid him. "We're honored you're here,..." April began, searching for the right form of address. "Captain," he smiled. "Captain Archer," April said. "You're the one who took it to Starfleet to build this beauty," Archer said, gesturing to the ship below them. "The Constitution class was going to be put away for another five years, till you came along." "Yes sir," April replied. "I wanted this ship from the second I saw the Constitution pull out of Spacedock. And when I heard the name she was given..." "Our captain had a small part to play in that," T'Pol interjected. "It was going to be the Yorktown, but Commodore Marcus got a call from former President Archer, and made a request he couldn't refuse." "So I see," Robert April smiled. "Captain April, I still want to meet the rest of your crew," Archer said, changing the topic. "This here, is Lieutenant Commander Sarah Poole, who's to be my Chief Medical Officer," he said, with a gesture of his hands. "Pleasure to meet you," Archer said, shaking her hand gently as his advanced years allowed. "I'm honored to meet you...Captain Archer," she smiled. Her hair was done up in a bun by this point, as was regulation while on duty. "I've heard tales of your Enterprise, and it's what inspired me to join the service. To have two of your crew here at our launch is like a dream come true." "Well, we're glad the fleet finally brought another Enterprise into service. It took them long enough," Archer joked. "Perhaps we can meet the other senior crew," April suggested, pointing to several other officers who were conversing with other dignitaries. ---- After the greetings, and a short speech by Commodore Marcus, Archer took the stage, aided by T'Pol. "It has been nearly a century since the Starfleet has had a ship named Enterprise," Archer said, the microphone carrying his voice to the docked vessel, to Earth, and across the Federation as well. "Many changes have come to the fleet. Better uniforms, faster ships, and new allies," he scanned the crowd. "But what doesn't change is what drives us to seek out new life and new civilizations, boldly going where no man has gone before. What keeps us going ever farther into that undiscovered country. Never lose sight of why we are out here. We're here to discover, to explore, not to destroy or conquer. You will find new species and new wonders out there, and without a doubt, a new enemy or three. Starfleet is not only a military force, but a force for peace, and exploration of the wonders of the galaxy. This ship has the right name, and the right captain. I'm sure we'll be hearing about the Enterprise and her voyages for another century. I wish Captain April and his crew good luck, and may the wind be at their backs." The crowd stood and cheered his short speech, including April and his senior staff. After a row of handshakes, T'Pol took him out of the room and back to their executive suite, as the excitement had wearied him, but not before he could give the signal to launch a bottle of wine across the hull, an old earth tradition when launching vessels. The crowd cheered as the bottle shattered across the Enterprise's hull, while Archer smiled wearily. ---- Aboard the Enterprise, both turbolifts opened, bringing the senior staff to the bridge for launch. The 289 meter ship hummed to life as she powered her warp engines on for the first time as a commissioned ship. The buzz of the bridge was palpable as April took the center seat for the first time. "Clear all moorings," he ordered. "Mooring cleared and retracted," replied his helm officer, Katrina Pelzer, a lieutenant from Silesia. "Ship now operating under internal power only," reported the duty shift engineer to the left, Lieutenant Commander Mark Hohnadel, an engineer from Nova Scotia. He tapped a few touch controls, and a few buttons, checked the power levels, then reported, "All speeds available through warp drive. Impulse engines ready." "Lay in a course for Pluto," April smiled, hearing that his ship was ready for the mission of a lifetime. "Course laid in," replied the navigator, Lieutenant Jeff Daniels. "Thrusters ahead," April ordered, as the helm officer answered back the command, and the ship slowly exited spacedock. "Station feed in screen," he ordered, head leaning a little to the communications officer. "Station feed in window, Captain," replied Lieutenant Anika Meißner, as a picture-in-picture in the lower left of the screen showed the video feed from within the spacedock gallery, where the dignitaries were gathered, watching the ship leave the dock. A minute or so, and the ship was clear of the spacedock, when Pelzer called out, "We are clear and free to navigate." "Ahead one quarter impulse," the captain ordered. "One quarter impulse, aye," Pelzer answered. "Viewer ahead," he called. "Viewer ahead," Pelzer called back, removing the station feed from the corner. Minutes after they had passed the moon, Pelzer reported, "We have cleared Earth's gravity zone. Warp speed available." "Ahead warp one," April said, leaning forward. "Engage." ---- This is a slightly altered timeline, so see if you can spot the differences!