As Darkata came into view, all but Aran and Dessie stared in awe. Dessie had already been to Darkata once to make sure the medical facilities were up to scratch. Though Aran had been there as well, he still could not believe the size and grandeur of the ship. He understood why the Thermottians had wanted to make it a luxury cruiser. Being almost nine hundred feet long and over three hundred and fifty feet wide would have that effect. The color of Darkata stood in dark contrast to other Starfleet vessels. While most were a dark hueish-gray, Darkata was lighter, almost a shiny silver. That was due to the alloy the ship was made out of, which was bionic promethium.
Av seemed to be smitten. It seemed apparent his attitude was changing about Darkata. “What’s this bootiful, lil lady got inside her?” He asked.
Aran smiled. “She has eight fusion tube sublight thrusters with a nucleonic fusion hyper drive,” he replied.
“Ooooh yeah,” Av said aggressively.
“Plus,” Aran continued. “Besides it’s regular shielding, it also has a temporal flux shield.”
“She has a flux shield?” Lieutenant Gomas asked with a lot of surprise in his voice. “I didn’t know the technology survived Zapato’s occupation of Krenox.”
“First off,” came a static-filled sound over the com. “I am not a she. Second, Rian Lirian managed to add that technology before he was killed. I believe I have the only one in existence.”
Lieutenant Gomas’ face turned a few shades of red as both Hot Rod and Av busted out laughing. Summer gave both of them a scathing look. She then turned to Aran, but he had started looking out the port window at the Montigo again. He turned a bit to catch her staring at him. He understood the look on her face, so he turned to his left and put his hand on Av’s shoulder.
“That’s enough guys,” he told them. “It’s not that funny.”
Av gave him a wishy-washy look. “Yeah it is,” he said. When Aran said nothing back but kept staring at him, Av’s face dropped as he knew Aran wasn’t kidding.
The shuttle began to slow as a circular door from the left side of Darkata, slowly turned in the middle and opened up, revealing a rather large docking bay. Two other shuttles were already inside as well as several syclones, including Aran’s modified one. As the shuttle finally touched gently down and the ramp lowered, everyone began unbuckling themselves and standing up to disembark.
As they each left the cramped shuttle into the spacious docking bay, Aran caught Summer’s gaze and she gave him a weak smile, as if to say “thank you.” Aran nodded as he followed her out onto the ramp and into the docking bay. There were several service robots doing light maintenance. They each had markings that weren’t that of Starfleet, which drew curious looks from them all. They stood there, looking around for anyone else.
“No one to greet us?” Hot Rod asked sarcastically, looking from one end of the docking bay to the other and then back at Aran.
“Darkata is waiting for you on the bridge,” said one of the service robots. “I shall lead you there.”
The robot motioned for them to follow. As they walked across the expansive docking bay, both Hot Rod and Av noticed an open entrance way to what looked like another docking bay area. Hot Rod turned to Aran, pointed to it, and gave him a quizzical look, to which Aran mouthed “Starjets.” Hot Rod nodded his head in acknowledgement and whispered into Av’s ear. Av’s face turned dark as he began mumbling something that Aran couldn’t hear. He figured it to be Av griping about the ship and/or him and making go on this mission because Hot Rod rolled his and shook his head.
Aran sighed. He knew Av wasn’t happy about being here and coupled with the fact that Summer couldn’t stand him didn’t help matters. But Aran was adamant about Av being there and that everyone was going to appreciate the fact that he was whether certain intervals believed it or not.
When they entered the lift, the service robot slid his hand over a small panel. The lift began to slowly move upward. A few seconds later, the lift stopped and slowly opened, revealing the bridge. They all seemed to admire the look and feel of it. It was roughly the same size as a bridge on a starvessel. In front of a wide expanse view screen were two seats with console panels. A few meters behind that sat a Captain’s chair. A communications panel was off to the right of the Captain’s chair and the other side was a tactical panel. There were several other panels and chairs that were lined up around the bridge.
As they all slowly stepped out of the crowded lift, Aran noticed that Darkata was in his replicant body, working on one of the front panels.
“You’re all finally here,” Darkata said without turning around.
“I thought you didn’t like your replicant body?” Aran asked him.
“I don’t,” Darkata replied back. He still hadn’t turned around. “For some reason, I can’t control the ship’s computer array while I’m downloaded inside it. Plus, with you and your crew not being too familiar with the ship, I decided to “hang out” so to speak.”
As he drew closer, Aran noticed Darkata’s left arm was plugged into the console. He figured Darkata was still trying to work some bugs out. Aran then was worried the ship wasn’t ready to leave. He wanted to get started as he felt to delay would be bad for Princess Ashlynn. Darkata seemed to sense Aran’s apprehension.
“The ship is fine,” he told Aran. “Just doing some last minute maintenance and check ups.”
“Sorry, I should have realized, Darkata,” Aran apologized. “I just wasn’t expecting you to be plugged in.”
“No apologies, Aran,” came the reply. “I just want your first ride in your father’s ship to go smoothly.”
Without warning, Darkata’s left arm exited the console and slid back into place. He turned around and held out his right hand for Aran to shake, which he did. He then turned to Hot Rod.
“Lieutenant Holdman, would you like a crash course on how to operate the ship?” He asked.
“No, that won’t be necessary,” Hot Rod replied as he took the seat at the helm. “I’m familiar with Thermottian ships. This shouldn’t be too hard to figure out.”
Darkata nodded as he took the seat next to Hot Rod. Aran took the Captain’s chair, while Summer sat at tactical. Lieutenant Gomas took a seat near Summer but she avoided contact with him, much to his dismay.
“I’ll head myself down to the pit,” Av said as he walked back to the lift. “I want to have a look at the thermakore reactor.”
“You’ll have some help,” Darkata told Av. “I took on some engineers to help you with your work.”
“Brilliant,” Av replied sarcastically. “I hope the buggers know what they be doin’.
Summer scoffed as Av took the lift down to engineering. She still seemed upset that Av was going
“I hope Av gets along with them,“ She said with a bit of sarcasm. “You know how much fun he can be.”
One thing Darkata didn’t know about was sarcasm and he missed Summer’s version of it.
“He should,” Darkata told her as he turned to face her. “One of them is a Mr. Timothy O’Reilly. He said he knew all of you.”
The mention of Comet’s full name all got different reactions. Summer groaned and covered her eyes to hide the disgust in them. To her, it was another jolt to her comfort zone. Lieutenant Gomas had a puzzled look on his face. No doubt due to the fact that he didn’t know who that was. The looks on both Aran and Hot Rod’s faces were of pure delight. This meant having another old friend on board and it was someone who Aran trusted.
Darkata was confused by all the different reactions as well. He looked at all them peculiarly, not knowing what to think. When no one explained he turned to Aran.
“I don’t understand,” he said.
“That’s comet, an old friend of ours,” Aran told him. “Or at least one of ours.” He gestured to Hot Rod and back to himself. “Summer don’t much care for him, but I’m sure Av will be just fine.”
Darkata nodded and turned back around and didn’t make another sound. He effortlessly worked the console as he and Hot Rod prepared for them to leave space dock. Aran watched him intently, intrigued by the thought of Darkata staying in his replicant form. He also wondered of his personality, if his father had made him distantly cold. Aran figured it wasn’t intentional. From what Darkata had told him, he was in the ship’s computer when he realized that he was alive. Darkata also told him that being fully aware was both perplexing and incredibly gratifying.