TITLE: Aventine

DISCLAIMER: All things Babylon 5 belong to JMS, The Star Trek universe, Starship Aventine and various crew members belong to a ton of people at CBS or Paramount, all owing to the great Gene Roddenberry, but I'm not any of them… All I own is the twisted idea...

"Julian?" Captain Dax asked as she walked through the door into the sickbay, noting that barely half of the beds in the medical bay still had patients in them.

"We're doing ok here," Doctor Bashir said as he continued to use a dermal regenerator over one of the Minbari patients, nodding as he watched the skin healing underneath. "The Minbari are quite a tough race Captain, so far there's only been minor burns and lacerations, a few broken bones were the worst we've had to deal with."

"No problems with their physiology then?" Ezri asked cautiously, not wanting to offend any of the Minbari they had as patients now.

"None," Doctor Bashir smiled. "Ambassador Delenn was quite helpful with regards to their physiology, and Mr Lennier here," He smiled again, indicating a Minbari that was stood to one side talking with one of the patients. "Has been most helpful in translating things for us."

"Good to hear," Ezri smiled over at Lennier before returning her gaze to Julian. "Thanks for filling in like this, with… well…"

"I understand completely." Doctor Bashir nodded in agreement, it was a loss for any ship when their Chief Medical Officer was killed, and while the EMH system was capable of replacing a CMO for extended periods of time, they were all happier with a real human dealing with the patients, especially a doctor of Doctor Bashir's experience and skills. "I'll contact you if we have any problems."

"Thank you," Ezri smiled. "We're on route to Sh'Lell'Tha, I think," Ezri paused as she stumbled over the pronunciation of the Minbari colony world. "We should be arriving in about five hours."

"I'll be sure to let them know," Doctor Bashir said with a nod. "Is everything going alright with the rest of their crew?"

"They're settling in," Ezri smiled. "Ambassador Delenn is using one of the cargo holds as temporary accommodations for them; they seem to be settling in for the trip quite well."

"Good," Doctor Bashir smiled at the patient as he finished his treatment before turning to Lennier. "We're done here Mr Lennier; he can leave whenever he is ready." He smiled as Lennier came over and translated for him. "The universal translator is still having a problem with their syntax, the ones who speak English are fine, but most of them only seem to speak Minbari."

"Well Mr Lennier is doing a good job," Ezri smiled over at him. "I'll come back to check in in an hour or so."

"We should be all done by then Captain," Julian said as he moved onto the next patient and started scanning with his medical tricorder for any injuries aside from the obvious lacerations to the cranium.

"Let's hope so," Ezri smiled as she walked out the door, ready to catch up with Sam and Captain Sheridan.

"This is amazing," Sheridan breathed out as he looked up at the towering Warp Core that stretched out above him, reaching upwards through engineering levels above. "Your entire ship runs of that?" He asked, looking over at the column in the center, where the swirls of blue and white light had caught his attention.

"Most of it,"

"Captain Sheridan, our chief engineer, Lieutenant Leishman," Commander Bowers introduced the two with a nod, watching as Captain Sheridan's eyes locked onto the bright pink hair of the woman who had spoken. "She's quite a ship Lieutenant,"

"Thank you Captain," Mikaela beamed at the complement. "The Aventine is quite a lady, first ship to be fitted with the QSD as well, fastest ship in the fleet." She grinned over.

"I've no doubt," Sheridan smiled back. "You said most of your power comes from the, what did you call it again?" He asked, looking back to Commander Bowers.

"The Warp Core," Mikaela answered for him. "The Aventine's core can kick out about six to seven thousand teradynes a second, we have twelve fusion generators as well, each on a redundancy circuit in case we have to take the core offline for any reason. We wouldn't be able to go to warp or bring the QSD online with just the fusion generators though, but they give out enough juice to keep most of the ship operational while we work on the core."

"Twelve?" Sheridan asked in amazement. "Babylon Five only has one fusion generator to run the entire station, you're using more power here than a dozen space stations could hope to generate."

"It's pretty standard for a Vesta class ship Captain," Commander Bowers explained. "The Sovereign class ships have about the same power requirements as ours, but small ships, like the Intrepid class, only sustain about four thousand teradynes a second."

"That's still far more than any ship I've ever heard of," Sheridan said with a frown. "It's no wonder your weapons could destroy a blockade mine with one shot, with that much power behind them."

"We're used to defending ourselves against much more dangerous threats than just blockade mines," Commander Bowers frowned at the thought of the Borg sphere that had managed to elude them so far. "Shall we continue?"

"By all means," Sheridan said, taking one last look around the engineering section before following Commander Bowers out into the main corridor again. "Like I said, we're an exploration vessel mainly, we have decks dedicated to astrometrics and science, much like other Federation vessels, but we also have sections dedicated to the crew, as some of our missions could take us away from inhabited worlds for years at a time."

"Hmm," Sheridan nodded. "We have those types of ships as well, never seen one as luxurious as this though," He smiled looking around the corridor as they walked. "The Earth Alliance Explorer class ships are huge, over six kilometres long; they're mostly out on the rim though, exploring the galaxy. Only seen two in my lifetime, and I'm one of the lucky ones."

"Sounds like they're quite something," Commander Bowers smiled over.

"Oh they are," Sheridan nodded back. "Nothing like this of course, artificial gravity, food replication. The Explorer crew I know would kill to serve on the ship like this for a week, would be like a holiday for them." He joked with a laugh. "I doubt even Earth Force One has half of the luxuries this ship has."

"Star Fleet takes the wellbeing of its ships crew very seriously," Commander Bowers explained as they continued to head down a corridor. "On the level above we have a gymnasium for the crew and guests; we also have the arboretum on deck four and an education center on deck nine."

"Education center?" Sheridan asked, pausing in the corridor. "A school?"

"Of course," Commander Bowers nodded. "Some of our officers have children and families Captain, with some of our missions expected to take us away from earth for considerable amounts of time, it's to be expected that they would bring their families along with us."

"Isn't that dangerous?" Sheridan asked, concern slipping into his voice. He hadn't seen any children or families moving around the ship so far, but he'd only been shown a small section of the ship compared to how big he knew it was.

"Not at all," Commander Bowers smiled. "Children and civilians are limited in their access to certain decks and areas, but we've found families and communities to be a strength on board a starship rather than just having enlisted personell on board. Don't get me wrong Captain, a lot of Starfleet ships don't accept families or civilians on board, it's mainly the explorer vessels that have that luxury."

"I see," Sheridan nodded as they continued walking, not quite sure what to make of the thought of children on board a starship.

"Ahh, M'rrissa," Commander Bowers smiled as another crewmember passed them in the hall. "How are things going with the repairs?"

"We're on schedule Commander," M'rrissa responded with a slight purr in her voice. "Seven has us working on the torpedo tubes this afternoon, we should have them done and ready for testing by nineteen hundred."

"Good, let me know when you're ready." Commander Bowers nodded.

"Yes sir," M'rrissa nodded before continuing on down the corridor away from them.

"Was that…" Sheridan trailed off as he watched the alien leave, her tail swishing around behind her as she walked.

"Ensign M'rrissa," Commander Bowers nodded. "A Caitian, one of our best engineers actually, Seven thinks quite highly of her, calling her work 'above adiquate', which if you know Seven, means it's as close to perfect as we're going to get."

"She has a tail, and whiskers," Sheridan responded, still looking down the corridor in shock. "And fur."

"Yes," Commander Bowers laughed. "The Caitian are a felinoid species Captain, just like the Kzinti. Most of their race are actually quite quiet, they tend not to leave their home world and live out their lives there. We've only had a rare few join Starfleet, M'rrissa was actually found as a youngling by the Defiant at the start of the Dominion War. She joined up as soon as she was of age."

"A youngling?" Sheridan asked curiously as they reached a turbolift.

"Sound's better than saying she was a kitten," Commander Bowers laughed as the turbolift doors opened and they walked through, leaving Sheridan wondering if he was joking or not.

"Captain," Ivanova stood up from the table as she watched Captain Sheridan walk into the relaxation area, Lieutenant G'Fokk had called this the 'Forward Bar' when he'd finished their tour here, shortly after Seven had joined them with Marcus and Delenn.

"Commander," Sheridan smiled as he walked over. "I must say Captain, this is quite a ship you've got here." He smiled as Captain Dax stood up and brought another two chairs over to the table for them to join the group. "I could spend a year going over this ship and still not have it all figured out." He said with a smile as he took the chairs offered and set them at the table with the group.

"One of the most advanced ships in Starfleet," Ezri smiled at him. "Can I get you something?" She asked, gesturing to the bar.

"Oh," Sheridan paused, noticing that both Susan and Marcus had mugs of drink in front of them. "Susan?" He asked, noting the mug she had was steaming and looked suspiciously like coffee.

"Something Captain Dax recommended," Susan smiled at him. "I believe she called it a Rockdegino?" She asked, looking over at Ezri for confirmation.

"Raktajino," Ezri nodded. "Klingon coffee."

"Coffee?" Sheridan asked, his eyes opening wider at this as he reached over and sniffed Susan's drink.

"A bit stronger than the earth variant, Jadzia always liked it with more sugar than normal coffee to take away the aftertaste." Ezri explained.

"It is a warriors way to start the morning," G'Fokk nodded in agreement.

"Very well," Sheridan nodded at the large Klingon sat with them. "I'll have one of those then."

"I'll get it," Commander Bowers smiled as he moved away from the group to get his own drink along with one for Captain Sheridan.

"I was just telling Ambassador Delenn than all your crew are settling in fine," Ezri explained. "I explained to Mr Lennier how to use one of the food replicators I had brought down for them."

"They are all well," Delenn smiled back over the table. "I believe some of them have expressed an interest in seeing more of your ship though Captain."

"That can be arranged," Ezri nodded. "We can arrange small tours if you'd like."

"I'm sure that would be appreciated Captain," Delenn nodded in appreciation. "Most would find your arboretum most enjoyable."

"I'll make sure to make a note of that," Ezri smiled over. "Captain?" She asked, looking over at where Captain Sheridan was staring out of the large windows that covered the far side of the room, offering a large view of the starfield outside.

"It's quite something isn't it?" Susan nodded after seeing what Sheridan was staring at. "We're used to travelling in Hyperspace for long journeys like this. The red and black swirls get a bit much after a while, nothing like this."

"I'll say," Sheridan nodded, still not taking his eyes off of the windows where stars were streaking by at unimaginable speeds. "Something I have been wanting to ask you though Captain," Sheridan paused, taking his eyes off the stars outside and turning to Captain Dax. "So far I've seen five, maybe six species serving aboard this ship."

"We've seen three or four," Susan nodded in agreement, knowing what Sheridan was going to ask. "That blue skinned one with the antennae?" She asked, looking at Marcus.

"Andorian," G'Fokk explained with a nod.

"Right," Sheridan broke back in. "You have all these different species working aboard one space ship, can I assume this is normal for your Starfleet?" He asked, remembering what Commander Bowers had told him about Starfleet back in their home universe.

"Pretty much," Ezri nodded. "Most Starfleet ships are crewed by any number of species from the Federation, Andorian, Vulcan, Trill, Klingon, Human, Orion, Caitian…"

"I remember that one," Sheridan nodded. "Ensign…" He trailed off as Commander Bowers came back with his Raktajino.

"M'rrissa," Commander Bowers filled in, having heard some of the conversation on his way back.

"Right," Sheridan said with a nod of thanks as he took the offered mug. "So Starfleet accepts people from all these worlds to serve on ships?"

"And more," Commander Bowers explained as he sat down. "The United Federation of Planets is just that Captain, any member world can contribute members to Starfleet, we even have a few species serving in Starfleet that aren't Federation members but the individual has expressed a wish to join."

"Interesting," Sheridan nodded thoughtfully. "And you don't have any trouble with different species on board?" He asked, clarifying when Captain Dax raised her eyebrow at him. "I mean with atmospherics, gravity, that sort of thing." He explained. "On Babylon Five we have separate sectors mapped out for aliens who need specialised living quarters, variable gravity, different gasses in the air, that sort of thing."

"We have a few," Ezri nodded at the question. "Most species who need specialised equipment to serve aboard a starship prefer to work with their own ships however, but there are exceptions where we can provide breathing equipment or exosuits to help if the species comes from a world with lighter gravity than a standard starship normal."

"Well, it's quite something," Sheridan nodded with a smile as he tasted the Raktajino, smiling at the taste. "I've been meaning to ask…"

"Bridge to Captain Dax."

"One second Captain," Ezri frowned as she tapped her commbadge. "Yes Lieutenant?"

"Sensors are picking up a large fleet of ships ahead Captain," The voice over the commlink explained. "At current warp we'll be within range in seven minutes."

"We are currently in Centauri space Captain," Ambassador Delenn explained. "It would be wise to avoid their fleets. The Centauri are quite protective of their boarders, and are currently at war with three of the other species in this area of space."

"Noted, thank you Ambassador," Ezri nodded in thanks. "Change course to avoid the ships, give them a wide birth Lieutenant."

"Aye sir," The voice over the commlink returned.

"I'd better get back up there," Ezri said as she stood up. "I'm sure Commander Bowers can see to any of your needs until we reach our destination."

"Happy to," Commander Bowers said with a nod.

"Captain," Ezri smiled down to Sheridan before she moved away from the table and out of the Forward Bar area.

"Captain," Seven nodded over to her as Captain Dax walked out of the turbolift onto the bridge area, looking around on instinct to check on the situation here.

"Seven," Ezri nodded back. "Everything ok?" She asked, smiling at Lieutenant Paul as he vacated the captain's chair for her.

"Indeed," Seven replied simply as Lieutenant Paul came over to join them.

"We ran a long range scan of the immediate area, there are a lot of ships here Captain," Lieutenant Paul frowned as he explained their findings. "I'd say they were war ships from the way they seem to be patrolling in groups of three or five, sticking to designated areas from what I can see."

"I concur with Lieutenant Paul's findings," Seven nodded in agreement.

"So does Ambassador Delenn," Ezri explained. "Apparently we're in a sector of space controlled by a race called the Centauri, who seem to be at war with a number of other species on their borders."

"An aggressive species then," Lieutenant Paul rolled his eyes. "Keep long range scans going, alter course as needed to put a five light year gap between us and any patrols."

His orders were met with Ezri's approval as the ensign manning the helm automatically looked towards the officer manning the astrometrics station and transferred open links over.

"Any sign of the Borg sphere that came through with us?" Ezri asked, looking at Seven first and then towards Lieutenant Paul. "Anything?" She asked when Seven didn't answer immediately.

"Nothing that our sensors could record," Seven explained. "It is likely the Borg are assimilating technology and species in this dimension in an effort to understand how they arrived here. Without a link to the collective or the Queen, automatic protocols will fall into effect."

"And these protocols are?" Lieutenant Paul asked before Ezri could.

"Establish a collective within the dimension they are in, enhance their defensive, offensive and biological components with species from this dimension. Obtain any technology and information that could be of use to the collective upon their return, then return home via any means necessary with the information to bring reinforcements to this dimension." Seven reeled off the list quickly, having had the core protocols installed in her mind for decades while she was a member of the collective.

"The Borg have had dealings with other dimensions before then?" Ezri asked curiously, wondering why she hadn't asked Seven about the Borg's past exploits before.

"Indeed," Seven nodded. "Species eight four seven two, a species the Borg were unable to assimilate came from a neighbouring dimension of fluidic space."

"Of course," Ezri nodded, remembering reading about them in the Voyager database that Captain Janeway had brought back from the Delta Quadrant, it had been published on the Starfleet officers network, while it wasn't required reading as such, it had quickly become one of the most viewed documents in the Starfleet database, with pretty much every member of Starfleet wanting to know what was actually out there on the opposite side of the galaxy. "Is it possible The Borg will find a way back to our own dimension?"

"In time, perhaps." Seven nodded back. "Dimensional anomalies are well documented by The Borg, it is likely they will seek to create their own dimensional rift to return home once they have amassed suitable technology to do so."

"We need to stop them then." Ezri said with a frown. "If they can get back, then they could bring through more Borg here. I don't want to be responsible for inflicting The Borg on this dimension."

"It is unlikely the species of this dimension could withstand a Borg attack Captain," Seven explained. "Given the level of technology witnessed so far, I see little that could stand against a Borg assault."

"I'm with Seven," Lieutenant Paul nodded. "Blockade mines, even that Whitestar ship, hell, that black spikey ship might give them pause for a bit, but they'd adapt pretty quickly."

"Indeed," Seven nodded in agreement. "The ship we encountered displayed biological readings much like Species Eight Four Seven Two, it is likely that their ships would be targets for assimilation much like the ships of Species Eight Four Seven Two were."

"We have to find that Borg sphere before it does any more damage here," Ezri said firmly. "Keep astrometrics running, I want to know the second there's any indication of Borg activity."

"Yes Captain," Seven nodded simply, having already anticipated this and programmed in the parameters herself.

"This is truly a beautiful place," Ambassador Delenn smiled as she walked through the arboretum with Marcus and Commander Bowers.

"I come here often to relax myself," Commander Bowers smiled back.

"I'm curious," Delenn asked. "Do the trees and plants here provide oxygen for your ship, there doesn't seem to be enough here to provide the atmosphere you'd need."

"No," Commander Bowers shook his head. "The arboretum here is for relaxation and biological research only, we've come across a few new interesting plants here or there, some we can grow, and then synthesise for medicinal purposes, others for various reasons." He explained. "The atmosphere on the ship is controlled by dedicated systems all over the ship; we don't require places like this to produce the oxygen we'd need."

"I thought as much," Delenn nodded with a smile. "Captain Sheriden tells me you also have place for an education centre aboard, and families?"

"There aren't any aboard at the moment if that's what you're asking," Commander Bowers smiled as they continued walking. "But yes, most exploration class vessels have places for families and schooling, as we're away from Earth for so long, it becomes a necessity some times for officers to bring their families along with them for extended periods."

"But there aren't any aboard at the moment?" Marcus clarified.

"No," Commander Bowers shook his head. "Things got pretty hairy back home just before we left, so all unnecessary personnel were transferred off before we started." He explained. "We weren't expecting to be gone for long, so we've got quite a few crew members stranded here without their families now."

"Minbari sometimes go for years without seeing their families Commander," Delenn explained. "Serving our people is one of the highest callings a Minbari can afford himself."

"We take a different view on that Ambassador," Commander Bowers explained diplomatically. "Where most star ships function well without families or…" He trailed off as his commbadge chirruped. "Bowers here." He answered with a tap.

"Commander, we are approaching the coordinates Ambassador Delenn gave us." Seven's voice came over the link.

"Very well," Commander Bowers nodded. "Inform the Captain, I'll bring Ambassador Delenn to the bridge." He said simply before closing the link. "Shall we?" He smiled, gesturing for Ambassador Delenn and Marcus to follow him.