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 "Be advised you are approaching Alliance territory. Identify yourself." The voice spoke coldly and matter of factly over the comms. Rolland Barron sat in the Excalibur's operations room, flanked by command crew at their stations.

He casually tapped at the control panel on the arm rest. A beep indicated the channel opening. "This is Captain Rolland Barron of the Sol Federation Excalibur. We have been authorized to enter Alliance territory for a joint operation with Alliance Avalon." Another beep indicated the end of transmission.

The crew waited patiently for a response.

Jordan Rattan, the compliance officer on temporary posting, was fidgeting with his grey uniform. "What's taking so long?"

Rolland looked back over his shoulder. "They're just confirming with the Avalon."

"it shouldn't take this long."


Rattan seemed to be growing more nervous. "What if something's wrong? There's a reason we try to minimize contact outside the Federation."

"You worry too much."

Rolland's console beeped. "See?"

Rolland tapped a command into the armrest, and a large screen showed an older woman with short red hair, standing and looking towards the crew through the display. "Captain Mary Lloyd of the Alliance Avalon."

Rolland stood. "Captain Rolland Barron, Federation Excalibur."

"Pleased to meet you, Captain. I'm looking forward to working together."


"You're only a few hours from Delta Gate. You can meet with us there. Unfortunately, the Gate is currently offline."

"It's offline?"

"Yes, the timing is quite unfortunate, but it's completely out of my control -it's undergoing transmission upgrades."

"How long will that take?"

"No more than two days. In the mean-time, I would like to take this opportunity to extend an open invitation to you and your crew to join us on the Avalon. It would be good to meet face to face. It's going to be a long trip to Clarion, and we should get to know each other."

"That's not a bad idea."

"Great. I think you might find the Avalon to be a nice change of pace."

---- Author's Note ----

Let me know what you thought of this chapter in the comments below. I appreciate all feedback. Hearing reactions from readers is the most rewarding part about writing.

I am very appreciative of your support.



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