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In Orbit of Sherman's Planet: United Federation of Planets

With the Pershing taking over the Nevsky's patrol duties in the Beta Quadrant this month, Lady Blackjack had made a full circle and returned to the Donatu Sector to start the trek up the Romulan border all over again. Annabeth and her senior staff were in the ward room concluding their morning sync meeting.

"Ok, I'm sure Planetary Administrator Orosz wasn't expecting to see us again so soon," Annabeth said reading from her notes, "but our meeting went well yesterday evening. No change to the planetary security level or any concerns about possible incursions from Romulan space. Number One," she said turning to Daredevil, "are we still on track to leave orbit tomorrow at 0730?"

"Still looking good, Ma'am," Daredevil replied, "that is unless anyone else at the table has any unexpected news they would like to share?" The first officer went around the department heads. One by one, they all nodded that nothing was out of the ordinary."

"Well," Annabeth said, "if that's the case, I think we can stand the ship down for a night and go to minimum manning. Staff sections, go to minimal shifts. Only personnel that should be working will be those already on the duty roster. Everyone else is authorized shore leave, but you better let them know to be on board by 0100 hours or they'll be hell to pay."

"Tracking, Ma'am," Katie said. "I'll have my security teams set up for shore patrol duty. We gotta make sure that wild men like Adamson over there don't get out of control."

The rest of the table chuckled.

"Am I to understand?" T'les asked perplexed, "that Katie's statement was humorous because Adamson is statistically one of the least likely members of the crew to do anything enjoyable this evening?"

Everyone groaned.

"That's right, T," Doctor Kazan replied.

"Hey! I'm fun!" Adamson said defensively.

"Sure you are Buddy," Phil said.

"You're not exactly one to talk either, Babe," Katie said.

"Hey!" Phil replied.

"By Uzaveh, T'les," Scharr said flexing his antennae, "you've been around us for almost three years and you still ask questions like that?"

"Illogical things do not get more logical with time, Sir," the Vulcan replied.

"Alright, alright," Daredevil said. "One more thing, Skipper," she said turning back to a bemused Annabeth. "I got a message that the 'Port Emily Fighting Tribbles' are having a Starfleet Appreciation Night at their home game tonight. They sent us a bunch of free tickets for anyone onboard who is interested."

"The 'Fighting Tribbles'?" Annabeth asked.

"Yeah," Daredevil explained, "they're the local Triple-A Parises Squares Team. Apparently, they're pretty good," she shrugged.

"Alright," Annabeth agreed, "A real ball game might be a lot of fun. Pass out the tickets."

"Um…" Daredevil continued, "Real alcohol for personnel on shore leave, Captain?"

Annabeth sighed and nodded her head.

"Yes, personnel on planet will be authorized real booze instead of synthehol."

"WOOO!" The entire table chanted in unison.

"But leaders, police your folks!" Annabeth warned. "The last thing we need is someone doing something stupid. Anyone who looks like they've had too much gets beamed right back to the ship before one of Katie's Shore Patrol finds them. Am I clear?"

"Yes Ma'am," everyone groaned together like a class of high school students.

"What about you, Captain?" Katie asked. "Will you be down there rooting for the Tribbles with us?"

"No," Annabeth said shaking her head. "You guys have fun. I've got a mountain of paperwork to catch up on."

Phil and Daredevil exchanged grins.

"What if we could find a way to change your mind, Ma'am?" he said confidently.

"I don't think there's any way you could, Lexington," Annabeth replied. Daredevil leaned over and pressed a button on the table. The ward room doors parted.

"Man, I don't miss these meetings," Alex said walking in with Max in her arms, "they just go on forever!"

"Hi Mommy!" Max said waving his little arm in Annabeth's direction. The officers chuckled.

"WAS ZUM TEUFEL!?" Annabeth shouted diving out her chair and bolting over to scoop her wife and son up into her arms. "Mein Gott, what are you doing here?" she said kissing Max over and over again on his forehead.

"Well," Alex said batting her eyes, "I already had the time off wor, and your staff said you had been a little down lately. I decided it might be time for a little trans-galactic sightseeing."

"You all knew about this?" Annabeth said turning to her crew in shock.

"We…suspected…after we extended the invitation, Boss," Daredevil chuckled.

"I was not aware of this," T'les said raising her hand.

"Of course you weren't, T," Katie said. "You keep secrets like Phil kept girlfriends before me."

"Alright now, that's not funny," Phil said. Daredevil burst out laughing.

"I was one of your girlfriends, Sab, and yes…it is."

He dropped back down in his chair grumbling to himself.

"I would also like to go on record as stating," T'les said rising to her feet, "that authorizing civilian family members to board a Federation starship without prior permission of the captain is a violation of Starfleet Regulations…"

"T'les," Annabeth said still not letting go of Alex and Max, "shut up."

The Vulcan stopped talking and raised her eyebrow a bit incensed.

"Vulcans…" Scharr chuckled to himself.

****

The "Fighting Tribbles" played Parises Squares on a pitch just outside of Sherman's Planet's capital city, Port Emily. The old fashioned stadium built from red bricks and timber was called the "Baris Bowl" and fit in perfectly among the rustic, flowing fields of quadrotriticale. The team was quite excited to have a starship of the line in orbit as most of their Starfleet Appreciation Nights were limited to the few dozen members of the planetary defense force, Starfleet Reserves, and handful of military retirees. However, tonight the home team smiled and waved as over a hundred Pershing personnel streamed into the bleachers before the match against their rivals, "The Donatu V Durangos."

Annabeth carried Max into the stadium on her hip, but not before Alex had slathered him in sunscreen and put a giant floppy hat on his head. He grasped naS, his stuffed targ, tightly in his little arms.

"You are such a Mom," Annabeth said rolling her eyes.

"Forgive me if I don't want our son to get a melanoma before he's ten," Alex said haughtily. "I am a pediatrician by the way."

"Babe, the sun is going down. It's a night game!" Annabeth laughed.

"Well, fine…" Alex grumbled as they passed a giant banner with a cartoon tribble wearing a Parises Squares helmet that read:

PORT EMILY FIGHTING TRIBBLES

A-A-A FARM LEAGUE CHAMPIONS: 2345, 2359, 2366, 2371, 2372

DEVOUR THE COMPETITION!

"They really are obsessed with those little fur balls on this planet, aren't they?" Alex said as the family found their seats just a few minutes before strike off. Max looked down at the field. All the players in colorful uniforms knocking balls around with large mallets seemed to make him quite excited.

"They look funny…" the toddler giggled.

"Yeah, they do, kleiner Mann," Annabeth said bouncing her son on her knee. "This planet would be part of the Klingon Empire if it wasn't for those tiny furry things," she said turning back to Alex. "I guess they kinda think of them as a good luck charm now."

"WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! GET SOME!"

Annabeth and Alex looked up several rows to see Sergeant Irabban in sunglasses and a tank top with a plastic cup of beer in each hand. The other marines were egging her on as she tried drinking both of them as fast as she could.

"Scheiße," Annabeth grumbled. "She knows her captain is right here. Rab just got those sergeant's stripes and she's gonna lose 'em just as fast if she doesn't start acting right."

"I seem to remember a young lieutenant on the Atlantis a few years back," Alex mused. "She thought she was hot shit so she drank an entire fifth of Andorian gin one night at an O-Call in the officer's mess. Then, after the captain ordered her back to quarters, she spent the rest of the night puking all over her girlfriend's carpet…"

Annabeth slowly turned to Alex.

"That was A LONG time ago…"

"Not as long as you think, Lieutenant Geist," Alex winked. "In any case, she turned out all right. Who knows, maybe Rab has what it takes to make Sergeant Major?"

"Point taken…" Annabeth grinned.

The captain looked around the stands. Her marines were definitely being marines, but no one really seemed to mind. A few rows in front of them, Phil had his arm around Katie while he laughed and joked with Daredevil about starship life. Behind them, T'les rested her head on Katan's shoulder as Adamson joined them with a huge tray of snacks from the concession stand. T'les refused most of the processed foods, but both men were delighted as they watched her eyes light up at her first ever taste of Cracker Jack. Scharr was seated next to his future son-in-law, Brett Hawkins. Both seemed to be bonding as they carried on a serious debate over which players on the field seemed to be big league material and which wouldn't stand a chance in the majors.

"This:" Annabeth said as she pulled Max in close, "where everyone is just enjoying being a family. This is what I always want to remember."

"Good Evening, Ladies, Gentlemen, and Non-gendered species!" an announcer called out over the loudspeakers. "Welcome to Starfleet Appreciation Night at Baris Field as the 'Donatu V Durangos' take on your 'Fighting Tribbles!'"

A cheer ran through the crowd.

"Hey Little Guy!" a voice said from the aisle next to Annabeth and Alex. They both looked over to see a stadium volunteer with a tray full of souvenirs. "He's absolutely adorable," the volunteer said. "Is it ok if I give him one of these?" she asked holding up a toy.

"Sure," Alex said. "He'll love it."

"There you go," the volunteer said trying to hand a plush tribble to Max. "Have a 'Shermie: the Fighting Tribble' to go with your pig."

"naS is a targ!" Max shouted.

"Ok, your targ," she said nicely still trying to give him the polyester ball of fur.

"What do we say Max?" Annabeth asked.

"No rat!" Max said holding naS evening tighter.

"Max," Alex said smiling and shaking her head. She awkwardly took the stuffed tribble and tried to give it to her son. "This isn't a rat. This is a tribble and he's very nice."

"YUCKY RAT!" Max shouted defiantly. "GO AWAY!" The toddler hit the tribble as hard as he could and knocked it to the ground.

"I'm so sorry," Alex said to the volunteer. "He usually loves stuffed animals."

"I've never seen that before," the volunteer replied with a chuckle. "That boy must have a little Klingon in him. Enjoy the game!" she said continuing down the aisle.

Annabeth and Alex looked at each other with astonishment before turning back to Max. The little boy just smiled and hugged his targ again.


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