yamato 16: Set Sail

* The next day *

"So this is it?" asked Danny Hebert.

"Yes. Our little insurance policy," said Yamato.

The football-sized device seemed to glow with a light that wasn't quite right, seeming to come from angles that didn't quite exist.

Danny sighed and looked at the holographic representation of a ship intelligence. "She's in there?"

"Yes. The cost of such a device is equal to an Andromeda III battleship, but it's only been done twice before because of various concerns voiced about such measures. Some philosophical, some political, some religious, some - well - humans can be very contrary," said Yamato.

* Later *

"This is the Morning Show on WAVE, your AM station for news. It's nine o'clock, Thursday, June 2, 2011. Today we've got Zelvenzuzar, one of the crewmen from the Gathering Floral Samples. I hope I've got your name right, this is the first time I've met a Thranx."

"Passable for someone without breathing spicules, Chet of Chaucer. I am Zelvenzuzar, 3rd Shift Helmsman and backup Weapons Officer for the science vessel Gathering Floral Samples."

"Zelvenzuzar, your kind has known humanity in your home universe for two hundred years?"

"One hundred seventy-six of your years, roughly."

"What is your race's opinion of humans?"

"You are insane."

"Excuse me?"

"The Yamato was one of the first vessels my race encountered. We were skirmishing with the AAan. So insane, but a good ally to have in a universe where aggressive aliens can be found."

"Why would you consider humanity as a whole insane?"

"Yamato was our second contact with your species, the first being the non-AI industrial ship Kobayashi Maru which was an underweaponed ship. Can you blame us for coming to this conclusion? You guys started building a ship, then decided to build a gun and then built a ship around it. Then you guys decided 'hey you know what this ship needs? more guns!' Then you added even more guns. Then you added missiles, more missiles, a hangar for a small number of fighter spacecraft, and even more missiles. You managed to get deflector shields, some until-then-unknown space fold shield, and a reinforcement field all working together without tearing your ship apart. You had one ship on a field of battle where ten of our ships were leaking atmosphere, and you faced off against four AAan battleships, two carriers, and a Death Sphere. I've viewed the holorecordings and one of the captains of our fleet at the time likened it to a goddess of war arriving hungry at a banquet."

"Uhm."

"So, yes, by Thranx standards, humans are insane. You are much more individual and independent than the Thranx, and much more prone to conflict. That's why Thranx are among the more highly sought as diplomats and negotiators among you mammals. We are not as prone to swings of emotion or extremes of such as you. All in all, our partnership has worked well for both of us. Doesn't mean you're not crazy by Thranx standards, but you're the sort of crazy we can live and work well with together."

"Okay, well, there's that I guess. Looking at human history, I can see your point there."

"Truth. And your skill at conflict certainly taught the AAan that some races are not to be considered menu items."

"Yeah, there's a human slogan for you. 'Humans. We're not on the menu.'"

* July 4, 2023 *

The ship was still new as the drydock flooded, the launch commenced, and she rose into the evening sky from the Norfolk Naval Yards.

The Taylor Hebert, the first of her line, came alongside the Yamato.

On the bridge, Danny Hebert turned away from the hologram of his daughter. "You're sure she's in there?"

"Iskandaran technology isn't completely understood, but yes - everything indicates that Taylor's in there," said Captain Kirk, who had heard ALL the jokes about his name thank you very much. "She just hasn't awakened yet. That takes some time."

Danny Hebert indicated the unblinking face he knew so well. "I remember. It's just seeing her like this..."

"She'll most likely outlive both of us," said Captain Kirk. "This is the first time we've tried using a modified Cosmo Reverser as a soul carrier specifically to form the core of a shipgirl. At least deliberately. I..."

Taylor blinked.

"Well now, that's encouraging," said Captain Kirk, as he spotted the movement.

* July 4, 2024 *

"Space. The Final Frontier.

"These are the voyages of the Taylor Hebert, Exploration Carrier class starship.

"My continuing mission,

"To explore strange new worlds,

"To seek out new life,

"and new civilizations.

"To boldly go where no one has gone before."

Captain Kirk smirked at his ship's avatar. "You couldn't resist, could you?"

Taylor shrugged and tugged the brim of her cap down just a little. "I could have. But where's the fun in that?"

"Course sir?" asked Helmsman Zelvenzuzar.

"Alpha Centauri sounds like a good place to start," said Captain Kirk, leaning back in the command chair. "Let's go. Thataway."

"Acknowledged Captain," said the Helmsman, clicking buttons. "Best speed."

"You couldn't resist?" asked Taylor.

"Where's the fun in that?" responded Captain Kirk as the ship accelerated towards the first viable warp-point.

Taylor smiled and turned her attention to the display as the ship performed a hyperspace jump.

She had the shields and she had armor (though as an explorer/carrier less than a battleship), she had fighters and probes and shuttles.

And she had guns. Because it could be a rough universe out there and humanity had learned that sometimes, just sometimes-

-it was best to be able to respond with all guns blazing.

* Author Notes *

As for the AI presence, I wanted to have a mechanism besides "plot armor" for several events in the 2199, 2202, and 2205 series. I came up with the "shipgirl" mechanic - with an AI able to shift things like shield settings and targeting predictions faster than a human operative. With the love and pride of a crew for their ship, and the ship having the capacity for pride and love for her crew? Something rarely seen in Hollywood representations of Artificial Intelligence. (In fact I'm having trouble remembering examples. The closest I'm remembering immediately are Robby from "Forbidden Planet", Data from the Star Trek franchise, and the original Robot (who was based on Robby if I recall correctly) from "Lost In Space", R2 and C3PO from Star Wars to some degree - maybe the robots from "Interstellar" but I'm drawing a blank on the level of independence/self-agency those had. While they were not hostile towards humans, an AI having some affection for humanity is rare.)

So the idea was that Belkan (a terraforming ship crashed into Mars prior to the start of series), Iskandar, and Earth technologies coming together to form something nobody expected - a sentient and sapient ship intelligence that sought to protect her crew and identifies as a daughter of humanity. The Yamato captain and crew being quick to seize on anything that would improve their odds, and by the time the mission was completed - the presence of Yamato was accepted.

Those not serving on Yamato might have been skeptical or cautious, and it seemed to me the presence of the AI a better reason for the canonic lockdown of the Yamato in the beginning of the 2202 plotline. Again, Yamato began proving herself an ally to humanity and more of the AI shipgirls began showing up and earning the trust of their crew. In 2205 the AI were in two camps, the sentient AIs that were very limited and the less limited shipgirls (and boys eventually). By the end of the 2205 plotline, the "shipgirls" are being seen more widely as something to take pride in by the public.

Oh, and Serizawa gets away with too much BS in the original Yamato series. So here a shipgirl pointed out that his narrative had more holes in it than Gilderoy Lockhart's novels and he was eventually dragged out of office. After the shipgirls had proven themselves to the point where people were willing to listen.

Earth Defense Fleet Expeditionary Carrier Taylor Hebert

Class: Battlecarrier

Fighters: 16 Space Combat Attack Fighters (Cosmo Python III), 16 Space Combat Fighters (Cosmo Tiger IV)

Transports: 2 Work/Repair (Wasps), 4 Shuttlepods, 1 Transport/Explorer (Seagull)

Remote Probes (recoverable/reusable): 18 environmental probes, 6 long-sensor buoys, 4 monitor spheres

Armaments: 2 triple-mounted 30.5 positron shock cannon turrets, 4 close-range anti-fighter plasma autocannon turrets, 4 missile launchers (typically smart missiles, SCRAAM, beehive missiles, gravitic shear missiles, ghidora-class missiles), two dedicated torpedo launchers (typically shield generators, fusion bombs, penetrating high explosive)

Defenses: reinforcement field, cerasteel armor, wave motion shield, force field, gravitic shear defensive field

Propulsion: Dimensional Wave Motion Engine, chemical thrusters, gravitic drive, Kelvin-type auxiliary impulse engine

Power: Wave Motion Energy, two Yoyodyne Type III Fusion Engines, Internal Batteries

Length: 395meters