Captain Robert “Rob” Thornby, 40, was the Commanding Officer of the Artemis, a science and exploration vessel belonging to Interstellar Federation.
His wife Salya, 38, lived with him on the vessel as the ship's intergalactic anthropologist and linguistics expert. Their home planet, Phion S-Nine, a planet in the Simto star system in Beta Quadrant, was the governmental seat of Interstellar Federation, and had been for well over 300 years.
They had three children; a son, RJ, who was 17, a daughter, Starla, who was 16, and another daughter, Astra, who was 14. The kids lived with them on the ship and, along with the children of other crew members, attended the ship's school.
Rob was a bear of a man, tall (6'3"), with a deep resonant voice and short dark brown hair. He was extremely muscular, with six-pack abs and a chestful of dark brown hair that peeked through his uniform shirt. At 40, he still had a physique that could take your breath away.
The female crewmembers all loved it when he was jogging through the ship's hallways or exercising in the fitness center.
They felt the same way about the doctor, Brant.
Salya wasn't jealous about the attention Rob received when jogging or exercising. She knew she was his one-and-only, his soulmate, the love of his life. He felt the same way about her. They were constantly hugging and kissing, much to the embarrassment of their three teens!
Salya was 5'8", buxom and curvy, with reddish-blonde hair that came halfway to her waist. She was also a fashionista.
Their kids were miniatures of each of them. RJ was more like Rob physically and in temperament, while Starla and Astra were more like Salya in those respects. The girls were fashionistas every bit as much as their mother was!
Rarely did the Thornby ladies not wear makeup or do something fancy with their hair! Their fingernails and toenails were always painted in bright colors.
One day, one month after leaving Phion S-Nine and traveling through various territories, Rob said over the ship's intercom,
“Ladies and gentlemen, it's official. We've finally been assigned a second-in-command and are on our way to P'eghasinh Territory to pick him up.
”As far as we know, we're one of the first of any races' ships to work with a member of his race as part of a crew. Our good friends the D'olmachs said his superiors have very highly recommended him.
”We'll be entering the territory in approximately one hour. Once he and his wife have arrived we'll be on our way for our six-year-mission. We're now truly pioneers and explorers.
”I don't know what we'll find over the next six years, but I'm thrilled and excited to start! Let's go get them and then see what's out there, shall we?"
The bridge crew broke out into broad smiles and cheers, as did the entire crew.
Five minutes later, his wife and kids arrived on the bridge, excited to start this journey with him.
The Artemis was one of two starships on the same science and exploration mission. The other ship was the Archer, commanded by Commander Craig Poole.
The Artemis was exploring the outer, unexplored reaches of one half of the galaxy while the Archer was exploring the outer, unexplored reaches of the other half.
Soon it was time to head into P'eghasinh Territory.
“We're going to stay at around Warp 4 until we get to the ship we're rendezvousing with. We should be there in about one or two days.”
Unlike the Archer, which had an extremely diverse crew with aliens from several Federations, Collectives, and Empires on board, other than this new crewmember and his wife, the crew was entirely human.
The mission was to last 6 years, but everyone knew it could be longer or, worst case scenario, over in no time whatsoever, depending on what was found out there.
“Alright, everybody. Here we go. Sully, indulge yourself!", he said to the helmsman, Major Sullivan ”Sully” Decker.
Sully immediately set the ship at Warp 4...and they were off!
Rob and Salya gave each other a hug and passionate kiss, then hugged their kids tightly.
Two days later, Sully detected something.
“Commander, I'm picking something up on scans about 2000 kilometers from us.”, he said.
“Onscreen.”, Rob replied.
Moments later, an odd-looking vessel appeared onscreen. Salya and the kids were there, having stopped by to ask Rob something. They looked at the craft with as much interest as Rob and the bridge crew did.
“Sully, can you identify its registry or where it's from?", he asked.
”No, Sir. However, my guess is that it's probably the P'eghasinh ship we're supposed to be rendezvousing with to pick up our new First Officer. That, or it's another one of the P'eghasinhs' ships. The coordinates we were given were pretty close.“, replied Sully.
The alien ship was round, appeared to be at least 6 stories high, with nacelles standing straight down from, and on the sides of, the craft.
The ship was moving slowly, cautiously, towards the Artemis.
“What are they doing?”, Salya asked nervously.
“Checking us out most likely, just like we're checking them out.”, Rob said.
“I'm scanning numerous weapons, plus shuttles and fighter ships. If they're not friendly, we're in trouble. We're seriously outgunned. They just put their shields up, Sir.”, the tactical officer replied.
“Raise ours as well, just to be safe. Better safe than sorry, as my folks used to say when we kids were growing up.”, Rob said, looking out at the alien ship.
”Open a frequency, Lieutenant.”, Rob said to the communications officer.
“They're hailing us, Sir.”
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