When I got outside my crew quickly surrounded me, several more than I had arrived with, as my officers' subordinants had introduced themselves. There was a considerable bit of congratulations.
2 "I will ask the subordinants," I remarked, "to go on up to the ship. The command crew will be there shortly. There is a small matter I must deal with before I take command. Please be at your stations and ready to give your officers any assistance that they require!"
3 The subordinants all snapped "Yes sir!" and teleported away.
4 "Airs," I snapped, "I wish a few words with you over here in private before we take command."
5 The others all looked at each other, probably suspecting what was about to happen, but no one said anything as I walked off and Airs followed me to a little table in an alcove, and we sat down. A waiter offered us glasses of wine. I took two and waved him away. We stared at each other awkwardly for several moments, then I finally summoned the courage to speak.
6 "I am sure you've heard rumors that there is a possibility that I am your father. Your father's kindness in raising you without bringing the matter to question I will always praise. But I wish to tell you at this time, that those rumors are true! And that before we depart on this mission I wish to give your heirs an equal share of my estates with my own children. I have already drawn up the documents and had them for some time, but have not had the courage to come to you and make amends for the long years that I have ignored our relationship. If you wish for matters to remain as they are I will understand. But you are blood of my blood, seed of my seed, and no matter how your mother and I were acquainted I consider that relationship honored and blessed! I regret that The Commander Of Assignments required me to make this known to you, I should've made it known to you myself. But I did not want to, in any way, dishonor the memory of your mother. I hope you understand!"
7 Airs sipped his wine and put the glass down. "Father never said anything directly," he answered, "only in his parting words the last time he left did he say that no matter whatever is told to you you shall always be my son, and I am proud that you have been in my house. You have brought me nothing but honor!" My mother, just before her death, told me the truth and asked me not to look upon her or you in shame, but to understand the circumstances, that if anything, the relationship that you and her had brought her husband back to her, and that was a blessing beyond anything else. I have never looked upon our relationship in any way shameful. I am honored that in a very trying time you comforted my mother and she comforted you! My children will be honored to share in your estate, and to acknowledge their cousins. I wish no more to be said of it, father. What is passed is passed. What is now is now. Let us go forward with the ideals of The Confederation in our hearts and continue Its glory."
8 I lifted my glass and answered "To the future, my son!" We emptied our glasses, put them on the table, and gripped each other's hand. Then we rose and walked back to the others. Herine hurried out ahead of the others so she could meet us a way off. She took Airs' hand and remarked "I will always consider that you are my son, as much as you are his." Airs took her hand and kissed it. "I am more honored today," he answered, "than I have ever been honored before!"
9 We joined the others, who all smiled and nodded. "Let us," I remarked, "teleport to our ship. Let us take our commands!"
10 We unified, reached out to the nearest teleport assist station, locked on to the ship, and were instantly in its reception area. The computer's voice immediately greeted us. "You have teleported onto a ship of The Confederation. Make yourselves known immediately or depart! You have twenty seconds to do so before I will take offensive action."
11 I took my key, put it in the slot, and turned it. The computer immediately responded. "Welcome aboard, Commander Zeusias! One moment please, while I check the identities of those with you."
12 There were a few seconds then the computer continued. "All secondary officers identified and welcomed! You may proceed to your stations!'
13 I decided to walk up to the bridge instead of teleporting. I wanted to get the feel of the ship, and the others followed my lead, heading for their own stations through the corridors. When I entered the bridge the standby crew welcomed us and asked if they had permission to depart. I granted it, and my officers and myself were alone on the bridge!
14 "Computer!" I remarked, "As to tradition from now on I will refer to you as ship. Kindly respond to me with whatever information I request when I give that designation."
15 "Understood!" the computer answered. "What are your first desires, commander?"
16 "I wish a full report on your status," I continued."
17 "All standard refits have been completed," the ship answered. "Otherwise than that, I believe your subordinates should report on the status of their individual stations."
18 "Very good!" I replied. "That is acceptable. I will give each section commander a standard day to prepare their reports. I will expect them in the conferance room this same time tomorrow! In the meantime if you feel there is anything I should be advised of, notify me."
19 "Understood!" the ship answered.