Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Enterprise series or characters. It's all in my head. The machines have got me…

A/N: I'm back! Many thanks to everyone who read an reviewed my first story, 'Splash Landings'. I am appallingly bad at choosing titles. This one is no better. I am hesitant to post this fic, because although I have the ending written, I don't like it much. The fic as a whole is not that strong. I am posting it because I would like for people to suggest improvements. It is mainly from Archer's POV, though there will be a mix in this one - my next one, I promise, will be much different...

Synopsis: Enterprise is assigned to play host to some dignitaries. One of them is Reed's father…how will he cope, and how will the crew survive the attack on their vessel by a group of aliens…?

Chapter One

Earth. It seemed greater every time Captain Jonathon Archer came home to it. After all that he'd seen, and all the planets that he'd visited, he could honestly say that there was no sensation quite like the one he felt every time he saw his home planet from space. It seemed like every pair of eyes on the bridge were instinctively drawn to the view screen as they orbited the planet slowly, and Ensign Travis Mayweather expertly piloted them into a geo-synchronous orbit above North America.

"Captain," Ensign Hoshi Sato spoke up, "I'm receiving a transmission from Starbase One. It's from Admiral Forrest."

"On screen," Archer ordered, and nodded in recognition as the screen switched from Earth to the familiar face, "Admiral."

"Jonathan. Welcome back," the Admiral smiled, "The dignitaries are assembled in the shuttlepod and are awaiting your word. Whenever you're ready."

"Send them over, sir," Archer replied, "we're ready."

"Excellent. Good luck, Jonathan. Forrest out."

Archer waited until the view had switched back to Earth, and straightened up.

"All right," he said, "Secondary personnel to take command; everyone else, let's get down to the shuttle bay. We have dignitaries to meet."

--

As the secondary personnel took control of the ships various functions, the bridge officers piled into the turbo lifts. The Enterprise had been summoned back to Earth as part of a Starfleet publicity stunt and as part of an extended mission. The dignitaries were ambassadors and high-ranking military personnel who wished to see Earth's first warp five capable ship, endorsing Starfleet's status as the key to Earth's survival in space, and also to be transported to a conference on Vulcan. It was all for show, but Archer knew he had to take the diplomatic missions along with the far more interesting exploratory ones. They got down to the shuttle bay just as the transport landed. Once the deck re-pressurised, they filed out and stood to attention – Dr. Phlox and Commander Trip Tucker met them there, as the shuttle opened, and an ensign stepped out.

"It is my honour to present the Earth's chosen ambassadors," she announced, in a lilting, eastern accent, as the named dignitaries stepped out onto the deck, "from the Earth's Diplomatic Corps, Ambassador Ken Long…and Ambassador Tania Collins. From the Earth's Military Defences, General Alanis Hogan of the United Earth Air Force…General Neil Adams of the Earth Armed Forces…and Admiral Stuart Reed of the Naval Forces."

Archer pasted a diplomatic smile on his face, and stepped forwards.

"Welcome aboard the Enterprise," he said, putting as much warmth into his tone as he could, "allow me to present my Second in Command, Cmdr. T'Pol. Also, Cmdr. Charles Tucker, chief engineer; Lt. Malcolm Reed, our security and tactical officer; Ensign Hoshi Sato, linguistics and communications; Ensign Travis Mayweather, pilot, and of course, Dr. Phlox, chief physician. We've arranged for a security team to escort you all to your quarters; from there, an itinerary has been posted for you, starting with a grand tour of the ship. My officers and I will join you for a formal reception this evening in the mess hall. If you have any queries before then, please speak to your liaison officer, Ensign Roan."

Ensign Roan stepped forwards, and joined the ambassadors, escorting them away with the security team. Archer relaxed slightly, and sighed.

"All right, everyone, back to your posts for now," he said, dismissively, "remember, dress uniforms and best behaviour tonight."

There were smiles and murmured acknowledgements. As they were filing out, a thought struck Archer. The Admiral…Stuart Reed…the name and face were all too familiar.

"Lieutenant Reed?"

"Sir?" the younger man came to a halt, and turned slightly.

"The Admiral…was that…?"

"My father, sir," Reed nodded, his tone decidedly cool.

"If you want to go and speak to him before tonight, I'm sure we won't be needing you on weapons control while we're orbiting Earth," Archer offered.

"That won't be necessary, sir. I must see to the security arrangements for the reception this evening."

Archer paused.

"He didn't tell you he was coming, did he?"

Reed glanced up again. His clear blue eyes showed no signs of any emotion.

"Why would he, sir?" the lieutenant asked, and suddenly seemed to decide that the question was irrelevant, "If that's all, captain…?"

"That's all, lieutenant. Dismissed."

--

Lt. Malcolm Reed went straight to the armoury. Thankfully, most of his people were off duty, preparing for the formal reception tonight, while those that were left were working on realigning the targeting sensors again, taking advantage of their stay over Earth to collect supplies, and probably send messages home. He called up the security roster for the evening, his mind turning over recent events. His father! On Enterprise! The man who could barely be persuaded to leave his home these days, the man who was a self-confessed xenophobe, the man who had sworn he would never set foot on a space ship, had volunteered for a mission to Vulcan! He made an adjustment to the positioning of a few officers in the room, which would leave him free to patrol. Unlike the other senior officers, he would be on duty tonight, ensuring the safety of the dignitaries. It was little more than for show, after all, who'd attack them in orbit around Earth? But still, he took his work seriously. He tried not to think too much about his father. They hadn't spoken since he'd left Earth, and that had been the point where his father had pretty much disowned him. Treacherously, his memory replayed the whole thing…

In the corner of the kitchen, his mother sat in a chair silently; her eyes glistening with unshed tears. She would never cry in front of his father.

"I'm leaving," was all he'd said, simply, "I came to tell you I'm leaving Earth. I've been commissioned a lieutenant on board the Enterprise."

"So that's it?" his father's voice was cold, "After all I did for you, you're just going to walk away?"

"All you did?"

"You could have been a great man. Joined the navy. Made something of yourself. But no…you're a coward, and now you're going to run away again."

His cheeks stung red with suppressed anger and hurt.

"But, sir…"

It was always 'sir', never 'father' or…'dad'.

"It wasn't enough to run away to Starfleet, so now you're running away to space. You'll never amount to anything – you're too weak. You don't deserve to be called a Reed! Get out of my sight, you coward!"

He'd reached down, picked up his small bag that contained his few possessions.

"Good bye, sir."

"Don't come back, boy. You're no son of mine."