Like Father Like Son

Trying to keep a low profile since dealing with the Tkon, Captain McCallister's plans for an uneventful mission goes wrong when the ship encounters what appears to be an immense, 2,000-year-old derelict ship drifting but when the crew are kidnapped the ship is left in the most unlikely hands.

Quality Time

USS Odyssey (NCC-80000), Gradin Belt, Delta-Beta Quadrants Border
Stardate: 76752.109

The whole place made Jisaraa feel like she was on edge, the constant crackling noise in the background alongside the various lights flashing and different shades of green beams hitting up against the walls and deck plating didn’t help either. The fact that various gases were being ejected into the room and the lack of true illumination didn’t make their task any easier. However she knew she had to stop complaining in her mind and focus on the task at hand. 

Borg ships were never easy and every time she spent any time leading Beta Team through one, she was certain more hairs on the back of her neck stood up. She preferred running through a gauntlet of angry Klingon warriors then this. 

Swiftly moving through one subsection, Jisaraa led Beta team with her phaser rifle up close to her. The butt of the rifle firmly against her shoulder and her chin placed against its cool silver casing. Every time they passed a drone, she knew each one could become a deadly target the moment they were activated by the Collective’s will.

“You’ve got sixty-eight seconds.” spoke Lieutenant Commander Lenjir over the intercom. 

Not acknowledging the update, she knew their time would be up sooner than they realised and the drones would detect them. She had to pick up the pace, so she indicated for everyone to begin moving at better speeds. 

A few seconds later and her team arrived at the destination: the central assimilation chamber. 

Lying across an assimilation table, with each limb locked into place with a force field fizzling just above his face was Lieutenant Flemen. “Jisaraa to Lenjir, target located. We are beginning rescuing attempts.” Instructing some of her team to take up secure positions, she led with the others to enter the chamber and begin deactivating the drones that were about to assimilate Odyssey’s chief diplomatic officer. 

A sense of calm panic was originally spread over his expression but once the rescue operation began a sense of relief replaced it. “It’s about time you guys showed up!” Flemen remarked from where was being held. The Lumerian male had been stripped of his uniform and only had his boxers on. His well-defined athletic looking body was on show, something he wasn’t afraid to display to his fellow crewmates.

Noticing his lack of attire, Jisaraa suppressed a snigger at him. The two of them over the last few weeks had spent some off duty with one another, she liked Craigen a lot, he was adorable like a lost puppy. “Going for the kinky assimilation option, lieutenant?” She asked as she freed him from his restraints. 

Glaring at her as he became free, he ignored her comment as he rubbed his wrists. “Give me a weapon, so we can get out of here alive.” Even though he was enjoying the fact that some of them saw his figure, it was clear he was more keen on staying alive instead of having his ego stroked. 

Pulling out one of her handheld phasers, she gave it to him before issuing orders to her deputy. “Ensign Trexx, give the lieutenant a spare body armour out of your pack.”

The Bolian security officer nodded and crouched down on the floor and pulled his backpack around. Instantly he pulled out the body armour and handed it over to the lieutenant. 

“Forty-seven seconds to go!” Lenjir announced over the combadges. 

Once Flemen was sorted, even though he looked ridiculous wearing his body armour over his bare chest and boxers with no boots and just a phaser, Jisaraa informed everyone else that their target had been obtained and they were returning to the extraction point. 

Lieutenant Keli, Cline’s Coridanite deputy, then spoke up over the intercom. “Alpha Team has completed its third and final task. Returning to the transporter site as well. All teams standby for reactions from the enemy.”

Looking at Flemen, Jisaraa smirked at him and told him to stand close to her. A second later and the deck plating beneath them shuddered from nearby explosions. 

“Primary and secondary shield generators are down and we are detecting explosions detected by their vinculum.” Lenjir announced. “Expect some disarray before back-ups kick in.”

At that point all of the Borg drones that had been in their alcoves, came to life or were pushed out of their stations by explosions. Doging each one, Beta Team moved quickly, taking down each drone they presented as a danger. With a lack of connection to the hive mind, some of them were easy to subdue while others required more brute force. Beta Team was more than happy to provide such force. Ordering her team to swap positions as they moved through, giving time for others to remodulate their phasers or use a different tactic, Jisaraa felt like they were going to win. 

Then they hit a forcefield. 

“Damn it.” She cursed. “Trexx, find a way to take this down.”

The Bolian scanned the field generator and determined it was being controlled by a nearby node. Instantly the team opened fire on it and the field dropped. However more drones then transported all around them. 

“Take up alpha defence posture.” She ordered everyone as they started to fight the incoming onslaught. Almost standing in a circular shape, they took out each drone with a blast from their weapons but the Borg assault was overwhelming.  Their fight was not enough as members of her team were either knocked out or taken away by the stronger grip of the drones. Their defence line was starting to falter and it ended with just her and Flemen left fighting off the disfigured features of the cybernetic features belonging to the numerous drones trying to get them. 

Back to back now, she continued to shoot at various targets when she soon realised that the Borg drones had adapted to each modulation. Sighing heavily she shouted above the commotion. “Computer freeze program!” Jisaraa ordered and a sense of relief flooded over her just as a drone’s hand was close to grabbing her by her face. “End program.”

The entire simulation dissolved away and the Orion security officer cursed herself at her failure. 

The holodeck’s doors parted wide and Lieutenant Commander Lenjir stepped in. “Why did you stop?” He asked as he stepped across the hologrid. 

Shaking her head, still in disbelief, Jisaraa answered him. “There was no way we were getting out of there alive.”

Lieutenant Keli then walked over with Alpha Team. They too had ended the program in similar positions like Beta. “The difficulty level did seem higher than ever before.” She commented. 

“You can’t complain about how hard a situation is, lieutenant.” Lenjir stated to his deputy. He looked back at Jisaraa. “Okay, training is over for now but I want everyone to reconsider every move taken and let’s see if we can fix our mistakes so we plan another session for the end of the week.”

Everyone agreed with a round of mumbling. 

“Thanks everyone, dismissed.” Lenjir ordered as he tugged on the end of his ear lobe. The Tiburon security chief then looked over to where Flemen was. The chief diplomatic officer was retrieving his uniform that had appeared in the corner of the hologrid. “Thanks again for your help Craigen.”

Pulling his trousers on and zipping them up, Flemen turned around to look at Lenjir. “My pleasure sir, it’s nice to do some training that doesn’t involve me trying to convince an ancient race from letting us help them to save the galaxy. I’ve not had much to do since the Tkon outpost as you can gather.”

Lenjir couldn’t argue with the man about that. For the past three months, the Odyssey crew had been engaged in a mapping exercise of a lifeless region of space, as such the crew had not encountered another alien race for weeks now. Things for both men were becoming boring. After recovering from the whole ordeal, life on Odyssey had slowed down. No-one had complained originally, but now some of the work was becoming tedious. As such more training had been ordered for all departments. Lenjir had wanted to ensure the Hazard teams were up to scratch, close to Borg perfection if he could and when word had got out about his training regime the ship’s diplomatic officer had offered his services. Flemen had led a Hazard Team when he served on the USS Pytheas, so he knew the ins and outs of what was required to keep a team focussed and ready for anything. Joining the training had given him something to do and he agreed to consult on the Odyssey’s two teams’ performances. Being involved in the most recent training which included disabling a Borg Cube and rescuing a kidnapped officer, had kept both teams on their toes. 

“Are you happy to continue helping out?” Lenjir pleaded. 

As he put his boots on, from where he sat on the hologrid floor, Flemen nodded. “Absolutely, as long as Commander Duncan doesn’t mind me being elsewhere then I’m all yours.”

Lenjir considered Flemen’s words carefully, he was certain their first officer would agree as he knew how much Flemen had been asking for more work to do since they entered this region of space that had nothing for him to do. “Thanks Craigen, I owe you a drink. Fancy it tonight?”

“Sure, twenty-one hundred hours?” Flemen replied as he finished putting on the rest of his uniform.

Lenjir nodded and left the diplomatic officer as he went back to review the training exercise. 

“But next time, can I ask I do it with a full uniform on!” Flemen shouted at Lenjir.

The security chief just turned around and smirked in response before making his exit.

“And lift again,” Slyvexs instructed as she kept her medical tricorder hovering. Tapping it a few times she nodded in approval. “I think that’s it. We’re done.”

“We’re done?” Duncan repeated with a mixed sense of surprise and happiness. “Seriously, doc?”

Nodding again to confirm, the Denobulan woman switched her tricorder off as she looked at her patient. “I’m happy to say you’re regular therapy, the extra workout sessions in the gym and your many games of Bajoran spring ball with Tobias have given you a well deserved recovery.”

Looking down at his leg, Duncan grinned with pride as he sat up from his lying down position on the bio-bed. Instantly he jumped off and picked up his jacket that had been lying across the top of a nearby equipment locker. Finally he was free from having to visit sickbay so much. Since their mission that involved the Tkon outpost, he had to see Slyvexs as part of his recovery. In the final parts of the away mission, he had been thrown across a cavern and landed awkwardly causing several ligaments to break in his left leg and his knee to shatter in several places. He had been found unconscious and had been in a coma for almost a week, nevertheless he was keen to get back to duty and so had focussed the last few months on his recovery while initially undertaking part-time duty. “So I can return to full time duty without any medical concerns?”

“Absolutely!” Slyvexs said with a gleeful tone. “Now get out of here, so I don’t have to see your face anymore!”

Flinging his jacket over his shoulder, he obliged with his medical orders and swiftly left the confines of the medical bay. Stepping out on to deck ten, he began to place his arms into his jacket when a familiar pair of hands sprung up behind him and pulled him around by his waist towards a nearby hidden corner. Before he could react he was shoved backwards and the familiar taste and smell of that person thrusted themselves against him which was followed up by a passionate kiss that lasted for almost half a minute. 

Pulling away his ‘target’, Senior Chief Petty Officer Court sniggered and looked up and down the corridor for any witnesses, smirking that they had not been caught and returned their attention back to the first officer. “So I overheard those extra sessions in the gym and our regular physical recreation helped you out?”

“Tobi, man, I’ve told you before you’ve got to be left obvious with the public display.” Duncan whispered back, copying the grin from his love interest. What was going on between the first officer and chief of the boat had been unexpected for them both, however one evening one thing led to another which led to another and before they knew it they had crossed a line that neither of them knew they could come away from but deep down they wanted more. The two of them had eventually decided to see where they could take their relationship, but had agreed they needed to keep it quiet from the rest of the crew – especially the captain. They were still deciding on what this relationship was, although Duncan was certain what it was. Without a doubt there was a lot of physicalness behind it, something the doctor was not complaining about in regards to his recovery, but they had yet to decide on it being anything more besides pure lust and desire to be with one another. The passion was strong. Maybe it was the lack of any distractions which caused them to explore this new appetite for one another or the fact that neither of them had been in a serious relationship for a long time. Whatever it was, it worked for them.   

“Max, stop being a prude.” Court replied before planting soft kisses on the commander’s neck, “deck ten, section eight is always empty due to everyone being scared of sickbay and the morgue.”

Moaning at the passionate embrace he found himself in, Duncan soon realised they needed to stop. “Enough,” He whispered with a smile as he softly pushed Court off from him. “Let’s leave this for later, yeah?”

Realising he had no choice, the chief of the boat and senior enlisted yeoman just nodded and pushed his uniform down. “Fine, but I plan to pick up from where we left off later tonight.”

“Agreed. My quarters, twenty-one hundred hours.” Duncan said with a smirk. “I’m needed in engineering.”

“I’ve got a duty shift on the bridge.” Court stated, he took one more glance around the corridor before quickly sneaking another lustful kiss with Duncan. He released himself from the embrace and gave Duncan a sneaky wink. “Now remember to get rid of those thoughts you have of me before you see Tremt. I swear to god he is picking up on something from the looks he throws our way in senior staff meetings.”

Pushing Court completely off from him, Duncan cleared his mouth with the back of his hands as they parted company and smoothed out his own uniform before heading towards engineering. 

As he walked towards the nearest turbolift, he wondered how the hell he ended up behaving like a teenager by concealing his new relationship from everyone else? Either way he enjoyed it. 

Stepping into the main science lab, Tierra looked around to find her wife but only found Commander Reyas sat in a corner sipping on a mug of coffee reading from the holographic display in front of her. 

“Good afternoon ma’am, do you know where Abbej is? She and I have a lunch date?” The Delta assistant chief engineer asked. 

Looking up from her screen, Reyas placed her mug down and smiled up at Tierra. “Good question, I’ve not seen her for over half an hour. She mentioned something about heading down to the lower level to catch up on some paperwork.” The El-Aurian gestured towards the lower level. “How’s everything going in engineering this morning anyway?”

Holding her hands up as an indicator of not to ask, the Deltan made her way down the small flight of steps towards the lower level, which wasn’t busy but had a fair amount of science officers working at a range of stations and consoles. Eventually she found her wife.

Abbej noticed the arrival of her wife and gave out a huge smile. “This is a nice welcome, how’s your morning been?”

“Busy, prefer not to talk about it. Ready for lunch?” Tierra remarked, appearing somewhat grumpy about her duty shift. 

Nodding, the assistant chief science officer took her wife’s hand and led her out of the science lab and towards their lunch date. 

“So, what’s put you in a bad mood?” Abbej asked as they approached a nearby turbolift. “Bad morning?”

Nodding, Tierra explained her morning. “We’ve been trying to upgrade the emergency holographic systems, ever since the crew went through that spell of going into stasis we’ve been trying to improve their holographic matrices so they’d work better for longer periods of time.” 

“I thought they were already designed to do that.” Abbej commented as the lift doors opened and she stepped in.

Following her wife in, Tierra got in and leant against the back of the lift. “They are, but it’s more about the type of environment and situation they are in. It’s no fault of their own but they had to adapt to a lot without much outside help besides those in cetacean ops.”

“Doesn’t that just promote the idea they should be kept on a more permanent basis?” Abbey argued. 

Raising her hands to dismiss the philosophical debate, Tierra responded with a single nod. “Maybe, but I really don’t want to get into a discussion around photonic rights right now.”

Leaning into her wife, the Boslic science officer chuckled slightly before speaking. “Absolutely, plus today’s probably not the best time to have such a discussion when we’ve got a lot planned tonight. Emir told me over breakfast that the next chapter is entitled: ‘Hail to the Chief’.”

Looking perplexed at that remark, Tierra wondered what madness their daughter was getting them into for their weekly visit to the holodeck. A sort of craze had gone across the younger members of the ship with a revival of the Captain Proton holonovel series. A new chapter had been recently released and along with several updates to others, thanks to one of Captain McCallister’s sons, Proton mania had reached proportional heights on the Odyssey where there was now a tournament to see who could complete the holonovel series in an informal tournament. Deciding that it would help with morale, Commander Duncan had insisted on it becoming a ship-wide event, encouraging as many to join in as possible. The holodecks were now fully booked and teams were being formed. Abbej and Tierra had decided to enter as a family after their eldest daughter, Emir, had insisted on it. 

“So what’s the summary for this chapter?” Tierra asked as the turbolift changed direction.

“Something to do with the President of Earth being kidnapped and Captain Proton must rescue them before Doctor Chaotica uses his cradle of persuasion to make the President surrender Earth to Chaotica.” Abbej answered.

Smirking at such a ridiculous plotline, Tierra shook her head. “Sounds fiendish enough to me! Louwes is still going to join us?” She asked, referring to their eldest son.

“He promised Emir, he’ll be there as long as he gets to play Proton. Something about him wanting to beat Alfie McCallister.” Abbej stated as the lift stopped and deposited them at their destination. 

“Glad to hear our son wants to protect his family’s honour against our superior officers’ family honour.” Tierra said as they departed the cart and headed towards the Auditorium for their lunch. 

Breathing in for a count of five and then out for five, Counsellor Samris kept his eyes closed as he focussed solely on the sounds around him. The ship’s huge arboretum was always a welcome break for the Romulan man. The view he admired the most was from a large cliff edge that reminded him of a view he once enjoyed visiting as a boy back on Romulus. Everytime he opened his eyes he always hoped to see images of the Apnex Sea, but he knew that wish was exactly that: an unfulfilled hope. Nevertheless sitting so high up in this biome that resembled a sort of warm climate, the Romulan counsellor was sat with his legs crossed with both hands gripping lightly around his knees. His uniform jacket was lying on the floor beside him. The gentle breeze from the atmospheric processors created a sort of mild breeze that hit against his arms and the parts of his chest that were not covered by his grey vest. 

Footsteps interrupted his clear mind and he opened his left eye slightly to see the familiar outline of Lieutenant Commander T’Rani approaching him. 

“Commander,” He said after taking a breath and returning to his focus. His tone was extremely formal. “Can I help you with something?”  

Raising her eyebrow after detecting his annoyance, T’Rani paused where she stood. “My apologies, counsellor. I hope my presence has not disturbed your meditation too much.”

“That’s not an answer to my question.” He stated, remaining in his calm. 

For weeks now the two of them had been playing a sort of cat and mouse game in their relationship. Only the other day had Samris laid down with her that he wanted a clear definition of what their relationship would be moving forward. After helping her deal with her husband’s loss which later turned into him supporting her through Vulcan neuro-pressure, Samris had entered quite an unhealthy relationship with her where they would find themselves becoming sexually involved with one another. After speaking with Commander Duncan about it, especially as T’Rani was a former patient of Samris’, the Romulan had decided he needed to lay down some rules. T’Rani appeared to have accepted them and he then left her with his ultimatum. He liked her, a lot in fact, but he knew that she may not return the feelings.

“Again, apologies on my behalf. I was wondering if we could discuss the matter we left opened the other evening.” T’Rani shared, she placed both hands behind her back. 

Opening both eyes and looking up to her, Samris wondered if he should stand up or not. Given the fact she had come out to seek him, he felt he should. “Sure.” He responded and indicated for them to take a walk along a small gravel-like path as he fetched his jacket. 

Agreeing to his suggestion, T’Rani began their slow walk with him beside her. “I have considered your…offer.” She began, almost sounding hesitant at first. “After much thought, I believe I would like to…as you stated the other evening, ‘take things to the next level’.”

Stopping on their walk, Samris looked at her and a smile crept across his face. “Are you serious T’Rani?”

Nodding once, she shared more around her deliberation as she stopped to look at him. “It is obvious that the two of us hold an attraction with one another, S’Tefe would not have wanted me to be alone after his death, I believe we would make suitable companions for one another. The Vulcan heart is a complicated one, just as I am sure the Romulan one is, but I am certain this is the logical path. I savour our time with one another immensely and do not appreciate it when your proximity to me is far.”

“In other words you hate it when we are not together.” Samris said, smirking further.

“Your words, not mine.” T’Rani corrected him. “I wish to explore this relationship further, if you wish to.”

“Absolutely.” Samris said as he stepped forward and planted a gentle kiss on her lips. “However, I’d appreciate it if we don’t make this public yet.”

“Agreed.” T’Rani said with a singular nod before pulling him into her one more time. Letting go of their embrace, she looked at him. “I have completed my duties for the day, I am no longer needed after the captain relieved me from the mission to study a nearby group of gasses, are you free to spend some time together?”

“I’m all yours.” Samris said as he took her by the hand and led her around the arboretum. 

“Oh thank the four deities!” grumbled Commander Hunsen from where he laid within the crawl space in engineering. Fixing and replacing another holo-projector was not how he had planned to spend his day. Pushing himself out, he looked across main engineering at his colleagues and called out to them. “Is that now working?”

Lieutenant Commander Jen nodded over to his friend while he held a tricorder in his hand. “The projectors are now aligned. We can bring the entire engineering team back online.”

Still grumbling under his breath as he got out and headed to where the joined Trill ops manager stood, Hunsen straightened out his uniform as he paced over to the central control area. The engineering pool table was active from where they were working. The project for the day had been to upgrade the ship’s emergency holographic systems, but while working on the engineering team several emitters had blown. 

“Remind me again why I thought it was a good idea to do this work now?” Hunsen asked aloud as he looked down at the pool table that was showing that the new holo-emitters were online and were ready to activate the holograms. 

Speaking up from the other side of the table was Lieutenant Tomaz, “You did say it was needed.” The Barzan strategic operations officer was holding a PADD in his fingertips as he spoke. 

“Yeah, I hate it when I’m right.” Hunsen moaned as he then brought the holographic engineering team online. 

Appearing standing altogether, the six human appearing holograms all looked around them before Peter stepped forward. “I take it repairs to the emitters are complete.”

“Indeed.” Jen said as he scanned each hologram one at a time. Nodding at the results, he spoke up. “Looks like each of their matrices are remaining stable. We shouldn’t see an overload again.”

“Let’s hope not.” Tomaz said as he continued to take notes. “Do you want to start the exercise now?” He asked towards Hunsen. 

The Betazoid engineer was looking over his controls one more time. He had invited Tomaz to help them with the upgrades to the holograms for two reasons. One, the Barzan man appeared to be bored at the lack of work he could do at the moment. Since the mission on the Tkon outpost, which was now classified, there appeared to be no other threat for Tomaz to prepare for. Two, Tomaz himself had asked for more work in engineering, he wanted to expand his understanding of starship operations so shadowing Hunsen and Jen for a few days didn’t harm the lieutenant. 

“Give me a moment.” Hunsen said. “I just want to check the new algorithms and safety measures are all working, I don’t want to cause a memory cascade.” 

While the engineer undertook the checks and a quick diagnostic, Tomaz approached all six members of the holographic engineering team. “So, I still don’t understand why the captain named you such unusual names?”

Jen smirked and spoke up on behalf of the holograms. “When his son, Henri, was a toddler he  liked a series of stories read to him by a famous children’s author from Earth’s past. The names for the holograms were taken from there, I’m sure Commander Cambil said they’re based on animals who can talk.”

“Rabbits.” Hunsen confirmed from where he was standing. “And a hedgehog.”

“What are those?” Tomaz asked his colleagues. 

“Woodland creatures.” answered the holographic engineer called Benjamin. “I believe the stories the commanders are referring to are The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Friends by Beatrix Potter.”

“An unusual source to pick names from.” Tomaz commented on.

“You’re not kidding.” Hunsen said, his distaste for the names coming through. “Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail along with Tiggy. May the four deities have mercy!”

“Hey, we like our names!” protested Tiggy.

“I can see the commander has a point that they aren’t truly formal for Starfleet holograms.” Tomaz said in a diplomatic tone. 

“But they are who we are.” countered Peter. 

“We’re not having a debate about holographic rights right now.” Hunsen said in a firm tone. He looked at both Jen and Tomaz. “Let’s begin the exercise and see what the day brings us first.”

The holograms all went silent, as did Tomaz and Jen. All of them realised that Hunsen was not in a good mood and didn’t want to spend his time tinkering with holographic identities. At that point the conversation stopped as Commander Duncan entered engineering.

Instantly Hunsen could send something from the first officer and hold back from reading his mind, but his empathic abilities were picking up that the commander was in a good place emotionally. Squinting his eyes at his friend, he could normally workout the mood he was in but this time Hunsen was struggling as it was a new feeling for Duncan to be exhibiting. One he had never sensed before. Then it hit him and Hunsen’s mood changed from being grumpy about the names of six holograms to one of enjoyment about how much he was planning to tease Duncan about whatever he was up to and trying to keep secret from his Betazoid friend.  

Picking up the duffle bag that was sat on the shuttlebay deck, Captain McCallister threw it into the aft hatch of the Holmes before looking around to see where his ‘co-pilot’ was. Finding his son, Alfie, sat on a cargo container looking down at a PADD in his hands, the captain rolled his eyes as he headed over. “Alf, are you ready to go?” He called over. 

Sighing heavily, Alfie switched off the device and jumped down from where he was sat. “I don’t understand why I have to go with you.” He moaned as he picked up his rucksack and followed his father into the type-eleven shuttle. 

Though he was only twelve in human years, Alfie’s El-Aurian genes made him look slightly older and most recently Karyn had remarked that their three sons were more like a trio of hormonal sixteen year olds instead of pre-adolescents who were just starting puberty . Lately Alfie had been more a concern for James and Karyn compared to Henri and Theo. Henri was excelling in his sports while Theo was focussed on his music play, both of them were doing well with school as well, while Alfie just appeared…lost. Karyn had tried to talk to him but didn’t get far with him, so instead James had insisted on taking Alfie out on a father-son bonding mission. The crew had planned to send a number of probes to study a large cluster of sirillium gas pockets in a nearby class seventeen nebula, instead some members of the crew had offered to go instead. The change in routine had been a welcome break for those who volunteered. James found himself agreeing to go as well, originally with T’Rani but with how Alfie had been recently he used captain prerogative and asked her if she could sit this one out. 

Placing his arm around his son’s shoulder, James explained why he wanted Alfie with him. “Alf, I can’t tell you about the amount of times I always wished my father would have taken me out and done something like this when I was your age. Plus, when was the last time that you and I did something without your brothers?”

Agreeing with his father’s point, Alfie just nodded. “Fine, but if you take Henri or Theo on something that is more exciting than mapping gaseous anomalies, then I promise you I will not be happy.”

“I promise that won’t happen.” James replied as they stepped on the hatch and entered the shuttlecraft. “Plus, I promise we will be away for only a day and half so we are back in time for our family visit to the holodeck. I don’t plan on letting the McCallister family honour be ruined by others who think they can beat us in the Captain Proton tournament.”

“I’m glad you’ve got your priorities sorted dad.” Aflie said as they entered the aft compartment of the Holmes. Pausing mid-step, Alfie looked confused at the settings of the shuttle’s interior. “I thought we were going on a scientific mission?”

“We are.” James confirmed as he took their belongings and placed them on a nearby sofa.

“So how come the VIP stateroom configuration has been left?” Alfie wondered as he pointed around the room. The aft section modular was set up to allow for two private bedrooms, a small kitchen and dining area along with additional bunks. He was expecting to see the one where scientific equipment would be installed. 

“Oh, well the Holmes is always set up like this and we are only going to be using the sensors to scan the sirillium gas pockets.” James stated. “Anyway, what are you complaining about? You get the VIP stateroom for one night and I don’t have to hear you arguing for it with either of your brothers.”

“Really?” Alfie asked, his tone of voice changing to show his excitement. “Are you serious? I mean you are the captain, surely you want the bigger of the two rooms?”

“Alf, go take the room before I change my mind, then join me in the cockpit for pre-flight checks.” James insisted.

Jumping up to give his father a hug, Alfie thanked his father and ran to the VIP room. James shook his head at how such a thing had changed his son’s attitude. Alfie’s room in their own quarters was bigger but he wondered maybe having the time away from his brothers was what he needed. Tapping his combadge, he informed the bridge they would be getting ready to depart shortly. Heading to the cockpit, he got himself a mug of tea before making his way to the pilot’s seat. Smiling to himself, he was quite excited himself now at the prospect of doing something different instead of sitting on the bridge. It was a welcome change from having to deal with Klingon rebels, secret solo-missions, exploring strange worlds that were artificially created or trying to help save a galaxy wide network to prevent the end of all life in the Milky Way. He may have exaggerated the last, but the ship’s most recent mission on mapping an uncharted sector of space that had no signs of intelligent life was a nice way for the crew to calm down after everything the galaxy and flung in their path. 

Nevertheless the arrival of a Borg Cube did seem like a good distraction to prevent the crew from having too much time to think about what they had gone through recently. 

He was certain the will of the Collective would not bend to his wishes anytime soon. He could still hope though. That said he also knew that dealing with one hormonal teenage son would be more of a struggle than taking on a Borg Cube. He now pondered if he had made the right mood and instead should have joined the Hazard Team training instead. 

Alfie eventually joined him at the front by jumping and slumping into the co-pilot’s chair. James looked at his son, “Ready to go?” He asked.

“Sure.” Alfie said, shrugging his shoulders and starting to bite the end of his left fingernails. 

Knowing this trip was going to be filled with a range of teenage-level reactions that could go from over the top excited to absolute annoyance directed at him, James decided he should have definitely volunteered for the training with the Hazard Team. 

Oh what joys being a parent brought. Why didn’t Starfleet diplomatic training ever prepare him for dealing with a teenager?

The Holmes’ thrusters then came online as he began to take them out and towards the gas pockets. James then knew that if he didn’t make this trip exciting, then Alfie would probably moan and that was one situation he didn’t want to find himself in. Just over thirty-six hours to go. Taking a breath, he looked over at his son and offered him the chance to fly the shuttle out of the bay. 

“Nah, I’m good.” Alfie answered as he took his shoes off and placed his feet up on the console and leant back in the chair with the PADD in his hands. 

Sighing again, James knew he had his work cutout for him. 


USS Odyssey (NCC-80000), Gradin Belt, Delta-Beta Quadrants Border
Stardate: 76752.4

“If things keep going this well, I think we can safely say the upgrades have worked as well as we intended.” announced Jen as he closed the tricorder he had in his hands. 

Spinning on the stool he had sat on since entering main engineering, Commander Duncan looked over to his ops manager, “So we can take a break?” 

Chuckling at the request from the first officer, the joined Trill nodded. “I can’t see why not. The first three exercises were a success, don’t you think Tremt?” He called over to the chief engineer. 

Hunsen, who was going through a rollercoaster ride of mood swings, looked up from the warp core diagnosis table and nodded to Lieutenant Tierra, his assistant chief, before looking over to the others. During the exercise he had to do with multiple other situations, the daily rudimental errands of running a large engineering department, but he hadn’t kept a complete focus on the task at hand. Between Jen, Duncan and Tomaz they had taken over from the chief engineer, so without looking like he had completely abandoned the job, he walked over to where they were all working and looked over the results on the nearby wall monitor. Eventually nodding in agreement with Jen’s analysis, Hunsen looked at the others. “Yeah, we should keep them active for overnight, get them involved in other maintenance issues that aren’t part of the exercises. So real life problems and then review any issues with their programming tomorrow morning.”

“Sounds good to me,” Jen said as he typed away on the console before him to begin moving the EET out of their training modes, “while we’re at it, can I suggest we bring Penelope online ahead of our planned schedule? We can then run some low-level diagnostics on her matrix overnight. They may help us ahead of the work we plan to do on her tomorrow.”

Hunsen agreed with a nod and a small grumble of which solicited an exchange of looks between Tomaz, Duncan and Jen. Duncan rolled his eyes and then ordered the computer to activate their Emergency Command Hologram without transferring command codes.

Penelope fizzled into existence and gave a friendly smile to the first officer, “Commander Duncan, please state the nature of the current situation and command requirements.” She stated in her usual friendly tone. Her four gold pips then appeared on her uniform, all in one after the other. “I noticed you’ve not transferred command codes and I appear to be in stand-by mode.”

Duncan, who had spun around on his stool, nodded in confirmation to her statement. “That’s right, we are looking at how we upgrade your program and ensure that if we ever have to go through a situation like we’ve recently done with the Tkon Outpost that the possibilities of something damaging your program are limited, especially if the crew are incapciated or in stasis.”

“I understand.” She said as she looked at the others and back to the commander. “Do I need to do anything particularly?”

Tomaz answered on behalf of the first officer, “We’ve got some exercises planned for you to do in the morning but we wanted to activate your program now to run some diagnostics ahead of them. Until they’re complete you’re free to undertake any other work.”

Thanking the Barzan strategic operations officer, Penelope returned her attention back to Duncan, “Is there any other work you require my help with, commander?”

Thinking about it for a moment, Duncan hesitated and then shrugged his shoulders. “I’ve got to be honest with you Penelope, we’re currently in limbo.”

“In limbo?” She repeated. “Have we not been assigned any new orders from Starfleet?”

“We have but it’s taken us to a sector of space with no apparent sentient lifeforms or any interesting stellar bodies to get our teeth into. We’re currently mapping a class seventeen nebula.” Duncan informed her. 

“Well, maybe I could take over at a bridge station or oversee the delta shift?” She offered.

Nodding to the idea, Duncan agreed for her to transfer herself to the bridge and after watching her fizzle out, he checked one more time to see if they could leave the work there for the day. Both Jen and Tomaz agreed while Hunsen snorted in response and made his way over to another station in engineering. Duncan gestured for them to leave while he followed his friend over. 

“Tremt, what’s up?” Duncan asked in a low tone without anyone else hearing him.

“Nothing.” Hunsen replied as he continued to focus on his work. 

“I may not be the ship’s counsellor anymore but I wouldn’t be a good first officer or a good friend if I didn’t know when you’re in one of your moods. You’ve gone from being moody, to jolly to moody so many times today I’ve lost count. What’s the problem?” Duncan asked one more time with a more assertive tone. 

“Not all of us can run around the ship like a love-sick puppy, Max!” Hunsen commented back on and then left Duncan where he had been working, pacing over to another section in engineering. 

Confused by that remark, Duncan followed his friend’s footsteps and remained quiet in his quest to get some clarity. “What the hell does that mean?”

“You know what that means.” Hunsen countered back with as he began working on another console. “I’m busy, so unless there’s anything else you need from me, commander?”

Now annoyed at his friend, Duncan decided he wasn’t going to accept that behaviour. “I want you to tell me what you meant by that comment and that’s an order. If you have something to say, then say it.”

Huffing slightly, like he had been all day, Hunsen answered him. “It’s just this damn mission, we’re the most sophisticated ship in the fleet and we’re out here mapping a dead sector while you’re poncing around like a teenager in love. It just annoys me that you’re not picking up on the mood of your crew, commander.”  

Glaring at Hunsen, even more annoyed now, Duncan insisted they leave engineering and enter the private office that the chief engineer had to the side. As soon as they were in and the door was closed, Duncan crossed his arms against his chest. “Have you been reading my thoughts?” He questioned Hunsen. “Because I am certain it’s against Betazoid custom to read someone’s mind without their permission and I am sure that I’ve never given you carte blanche to do so. So spit it out now Trent, what the hell is going on with you today!”

Trent walked across the room and sighed out heavily. “Ever since our return from that goddamn mission to the Tkon Outpost you’ve kept me at arm’s length, and no, I’ve not had to read your mind to workout what is going on. Any room you’re in you’re projecting your feelings of being intimate with someone, it’s hard to not sense them through my empathic abilities. So you tell me, what’s going on?”

“Is that it?” Duncan questioned back, still not answering or revealing anything. “You’re pissed at me for not spending time with you and the fact the pace of our orders has changed?”

“You’re still not denying you’re seeing someone!” Hunsen threw back. “Who are they? Why you’ve not told me? We’re meant to be best friends, Max.”

Frustrated that his friend was annoyed at him for that one thing, Max groaned inwardly and then made the revelation. “Fine, yes I am seeing someone and I’ve not told you because I don’t want it becoming a ‘thing’ with everyone.” He admitted. “And yes the mission at the Tkon Outpost did change me, significantly. Waking up after Sha’varn had interfaced with the outpost’s controls, seeing everyone injured and unconscious caught me off guard. Everything happened so fast that it’s made me rethink everything. The fact we could have all been killed instantly has made me wonder if I made the right decisions, could I have done something differently and then it’s made me think more about my own life. Being the ship’s counsellor, rarely was I put in danger or a situation where I had other’s lives in my hand to consider, but now as first officer I am in that position. The whole mission with the Tkon made me realise how quickly I needed to change, but I was also certain I didn’t want to do this alone anymore. So yeah, I’m seeing someone and it’s making me happy, what’s wrong with that? And you know what, this break in doing a pretty boring job isn’t a bad thing for any of us. Starfleet has had us on the ‘go’ for sometime now. So if I have missed the current mood of my crew, it’s only because I think they all need a break from having to deal with Klingons attacking us, being sent to the other side of the galaxy and then dealing with an almost apocalyptic event on the galactic scale. Does that make me a bad first officer?

Shocked at the words that came out of his friend’s mouth, Hunsen just stood there and listened. “I’m sorry Max, I shouldn’t have shot off like that.” Hunsen took a breath. “You’re right, maybe we have been on the constant go then none of us know how to stop and unwind.”

“Tremt, I don’t want to fall out with you over any of this but I want to do this job as best as I can but I can’t have my private life spoiling my professional one. It’s tough enough trying to keep both of them separate right now, especially when I am trying to prove myself to the captain and to Tobi.”

“Tobi?” Hunsen repeated and then paused as he realised that Max had just slipped up. “You’re right with Tobi?”

Hoping the galaxy would open up and blow the ship to kingdom come right there, Max smacked the top of his head with his right hand. “Shit.” He muttered and then dropped his hand. His cheeks were flushed with red embarrassment. “You keep that quiet, you understand?” He begged as well as ordered at the same time.

Smirking at the news, Hunsen nodded. “I promise and I’m glad to hear he’s finally over his ex. Just don’t make it awkward.”

“I’m a constant professional, thank you very much.” Duncan replied. “So are we good?”

Nodding a couple of times, Hunsen calmed himself down. “Yeah we are, just remember you can offload with me anytime now, even if you have your own Imzadi who can offer that service and I’m sure others that I can’t!”

“Don’t be crude Tremt.” Duncan answered back and smiled at his friend. “And likewise for you. Make sure if anything becomes too much you share with your favourite first officer.”

“That’s going to be hard, Cambil left the ship.” Hunsen said with a wry smile. 

Lightly punching his friend in the right shoulder for that comment, Duncan chuckled at his attempt at banter. “You’re such a jerk.” He looked at the door and then back to the chief engineer. “Seriously though, don’t mention this to anyone, especially Tobi.” 

“Your secret is safe with me, plus I wouldn’t want to get on the bad side of your Imzadi when he hands out the roster.” Hunsen mocked back, his early demeanour quickly fading away. 

Shaking his head at his friend’s taunting, Duncan turned around and left the office, relieved that the issues with Hunsen had been resolved. 

Walking out of main engineering and heading towards somewhere to grab something to eat, Duncan did wonder if Hunsen wasn’t the only one who was finding the transition hard from their fast-paced missions to the current calm one they were engaged with. Did the crew need more R&R? 

He tapped his combadge and called for Court. “Duncan to Court.” He said, remaining professional as he wasn’t certain who was in earshot at Court’s end. “Are you free right now?”

“I’m just heading to Lion Gate for a quick break, join me there?” Court replied over the intercom. 

Smirking and confirming with a definite yes, Duncan tapped his combadge and made his way towards the small crew lounge, named after the main entrance to the Ancient Greek citadel of Mycenae. Some of the crew lounges that were in the ring section of the saucer section, were named after various locations that appeared in the epic poem based on the ship’s namesake. The Lion Gate was one of the smaller lounges, dedicated for the sole use of the senior staff. It had two tables that could fit four people around it, a pair of replicators at either end of the room and three curved settees to lounge in while looking out of the ship through the seven large bay windows. Captain McCallister had set up a dartboard on one of the walls along with several other games that could be used by anyone. On several occasions the senior staff would meet there for a poker night or at the end of a busy mission for a nightcap. So without a doubt on this occasion, there shouldn’t be anyone else in there to see either of them being there. Duncan was keen to tell Court about Hunsen finding out about them and get his thoughts on whether he was missing seeing how the crew were truly feeling right now.

“Computer save report and secure it, level nine clearance and above.” Reyas ordered, in between sips of her coffee, “have it uploaded and sent with the next data stream for Starfleet. Ensure it goes to Starfleet Intelligence and Starfleet Science.”

The computer beeped in acknowledgement and Reyas leant back in her chair. Taking the time to finish her final report that had numerous creation theories based on the records they gathered on the Belt of the Tkon Outreach. It had taken her weeks to compile all of the reports and ideas that had floated across the many scientists based on the ship. So many scientific debates had erupted after the Odyssey had repaired the outpost about the nature of the Belt. After they had been able to reset the Tkon outpost to bring it back online with the rest of the Vanishing Point network, several of the barriers they had originally crossed ceased to exist – the biggest one was the radioactive element of the mutara nebula they had to cross while in stasis. She had theorised that the Tkon Portal, which Professor Sha’varn had become, had control of the various barriers that existed within the Belt. The fact that Tkon had sophisticated technology which included the ability to move whole star systems, though she had no solid proof of their involvement in changing the properties of the nebula, she had theorised that the Tkon were able to manipulate a range of spatial bodies to create the Belt. Odyssey’s return trip had gone without a hiccup. It was a lot easier and quicker on the way out. 

Now that all of the work had been done, she knew she had to get back on top of their current one. The tedious job of mapping a barren sector of space. Though there were various bodies within it, none of them could support life. Part of her was keen to explore without the worry of coming across a hostile race or having to deal with life or death situations, but it certainly was a change of pace for everyone. 

Currently in the private confines of her office, just adjacent to the primary science lab, she looked out of the wide window that showed the starboard view of the ship. Currently she could see the class seventeen nebula they were scanning. It wasn’t exciting to look at. Part of her wondered whereabouts in it her husband was now. His idea of taking their son, Alfie, out for a ‘spin with the old man’ to do some important father-son bonding was one she was not entirely sure would work. She also knew that James was slightly restless at the fact the ship wasn’t flying off into another crisis; she had tried to assure him at the start of it that the change would be good for him and the crew. She was now regretting her words. The only thing it was good for was ensuring that the crew were truly trained on all areas of ship operations during a calm mission. 

She had placed her entire science department on working on the mapping expeditionary of the sector. Launching shuttles, runabouts and probes from the ship had helped with their efforts, but she was finding it hard to be eager about the low-level of excitement of the scans that were being sent into them. 

Her door chime went off and she looked over after telling her visitor to come in. Surprised by her guest, Reyas welcomed Lieutenant Commander T’Rani into the room. “T’Rani, this is an unexpected but welcome visit.”

“Thank you ma’am.” The Vulcan pilot said with a slight bow head. Her hands were firmly clasped behind her. “I hope I am not disturbing you.”

“Far from it, commander.” Reyas answered as she got up from behind her desk and gestured for T’Rani to join her on the curved sofa that sat under the window. “I just finished my last report about the Belt of the Tkon Outreach for Starfleet. I’m glad to see the back of it.”

“I believe you are not the only one who feels that way.” T’Rani remarked as she sat down. 

“Can I get you a drink?” Reyas asked as she brought her mug over to the replicator. “Some Vulcan spice tea perhaps?”

“That would be agreeable, thank you.” T’Rani answered. 

After grabbing herself another mug of fresh hot black coffee and T’Rani’s tea, Reyas joined her guest on the sofa after placing both drinks on the small rounded coffee table by their feet. “So, what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?”

T’Rani took a breath and leant forward to pick up her tea. She took two sips and then placed the cup back down. “It is of a personal nature, I would have spoken to the captain about it but with him off ship with your son and Commander Duncan is otherwise engaged with other matters, I felt more comfortable approaching you.” T’Rani said and then paused, realising she may have just insulted her superior. “That is not to say your work is less important than the captain’s or Commander Duncan’s-”

Raising her hand to stop T’Rani from worrying, Reyas assured the other woman she didn’t take offence. “It’s okay T’Rani, what is it you would like to discuss?”

“Since my husband’s death, I have found it difficult to rest. I have found myself feeling agitated and tensed during my duties.” T’Rani shared. “You may have noticed.”

“Only on a few occasions, but nothing that has compromised your abilities.” Reyas assured. “T’Rani, you lost your husband and before I hear that Vulcan’s do not feel anything for death, I’d like to remind you that I know that’s not the case. Are you worried about your performance?”

“No,” T’Rani instantly snapped back with. “That is to say, I feel I have been able to control my concerns a lot better now compared to when it happened. I believe that is because I have engaged in Vulcan neuropressure.”

Taking a sip from her coffee after being glad to hear that T’Rani wasn’t concerned about her performance, Reyas was impressed at how open the pilot was being with her. She had heard about the Vulcan ritual to assist with sleeping and relaxing. From what she knew it was quite an intimate act. “Well, I’m glad to hear that.”

“You need to be aware that Counsellor Samris has been assisting me with that.” T’Rani blurted out. 

Almost choking on her coffee, Reyas had to quickly place it down before she spilt it over herself. “T’Rani, isn’t that a conflict of your patient confidentiality if he has been seeing you in a professional manner?”

“We had stopped my counseling session some time before we engaged with the neuropressure.” T’Rani explained, “however the intimacy we have shown has grown and I wish to inform you that we have had sexual relations and wish to make our relationship official.”

Stunned at what she had just heard, Reyas blinked several times as she kept her composure as calm as T’Rani had been when she had divulged such personal information. “And as second officer, you are informing me of this because?”

“I do not want it to affect our standing within the senior staff. We will of course remain professional on duty but Counsellor Samris and I believe it is logical to develop this relationship furthermore.” T’Rani responded, still remaining calm and not sharing anything but a neutral expression as she sat up right on the sofa.

“Very well, I take it that Samris is aware you have come to me with this?” Reyas said as she tried to relax in what she was sitting on. 

Shaking her head once, T’Rani answered. “He was initially reluctant to do so, but I told him it would not be appropriate for us to seek a deeper relationship without fully disclosing it with our superiors. He then agreed with my point.”

Round one to T’Rani, Reyas said as she suppressed a smile. “Well thank you for sharing it. I assume you want me to inform the captain and Commander Duncan?”

“I believe Samris may have already shared some information on it with Commander Duncan when our relationship was purely sexual, but he has not updated him since.” T’Rani remarked. “I have no concerns with you sharing it with Commander Hunsen or Doctor Slyvexs either. Both of them are my superiors too.”

Wincing at the idea of her becoming a gossip, Reyas shook her head. “I don’t think it is my place to share it with everyone, perhaps just the captain and first officer.” 

“Very well.” T’Rani said and she stood up. “Thank you for your time and the tea, commander.”

Reyas didn’t have much time to say anything else as T’Rani left shortly after thanking her. Watching as the pilot left her office, she smiled and was pleased that T’Rani was beginning to move on from the death of her husband. Perhaps Samris was the right person for her. She sure hoped so.

“Slowing us down to one quarter.” James announced as he piloted the Holmes towards the various gas pockets. “Do you want to start the scans?” He asked the question towards his son, who had turned the co-pilot chair so its back was facing his father. 

Alfie had his feet up on the edge of the console, he had already kicked off his boots and had grabbed some earbuds so he could play the game on his PADD without his father telling him to turn it down. Along with that he was listening to some music really loud, so he didn’t hear his father. 

Sighing heavily at his son, James wondered once again if he had made the right decision. “Alfie!” He shouted, a lot louder than before.

Hearing it slightly, Alfie pushed his feet against the side so his chair spun around and he faced his father. “Sorry, what was that?” He said, pulling his left earbud out.

“Alf, I asked if you could start the scan.” James said through gritted teeth.

“Yeah, sure.” Alfie said as he leant over and tapped on the sensor controls to begin the scans. “Sensor sweep underway.”

“Thank you.” James replied. 

“You’re welcome.” Alfie said as he popped the earbud back in and turned his chair back around and returned to playing the game he had on his PADD. 

Sighing heavily, James wondered if he should take drastic action and override the computer so Alfie couldn’t access any of his games. He was currently playing one that was based on the Earth-Romulan War. Hearing his son quietly cheer every small victory or groan when he lost was becoming irritating. Pushing his chair back, he got up. “Computer, activate auto-pilot and begin transmitting the sensor scans back to the Odyssey.”

Acknowledged.” The computer answered back with. 

Getting up, he walked out of the cockpit and towards the replicator. “Tea, hot.” He ordered. The computer already recognised his voice and knew his favourite, so there was no point adding anymore instructions. The hot beverage was created and he picked it out. Deciding to take a break from his son’s company, James moved into the aft compartment and headed towards the long table that sat in the middle of the room. 

Sitting down, he began sipping on his drink and looked out of the nearest porthole, wondering if it would be easier to cut this trip now and head back. Alfie had barely said a thing to him since they had left. His enthusiasm for the mission seemed to have changed since they had gotten underway. 

The doors to the aft compartment soon hissed open and Alfie walked in. “How come you’re out here?” He asked his father as he took the seat nearest to him while placing his entertainment devices down on the table. 

“Just taking a break.” James answered as he sipped on his tea. 

“From what?” Alfie asked. “It’s not as if this mission is strenuous, dad.”

“No and that’s the point, Alfie.” James said irritably while staring at his son.

The pin then dropped and Alfie realised what his father was insinuating with his glare and tone of voice. “I’m sorry dad. You wanted us to share this time together and I’ve spent most of the time playing games.”

“Yeah.” James confirmed, “I get it Alf, I’m not the cool young dad like I was when you were younger and you don’t want me to cramp your style. But all that said, I still want to be involved in your life and have times like this with you and your brothers.”

“I get it, dad.” Alfie said. “I’m sorry, you planned this trip so it was just us two without either Theo or Henri annoying us.”

Chuckling slightly, James shook his head. “That’s not the only reason, I wanted it to give you an opportunity to chat with me.”

“About what?” Alfie asked, curiously.

“Well your mother  and I are worried. You don’t seem yourself recently, I just wanted to check in with you without anyone else around to interrupt us.” James admitted as leant into his son. “Normally you’re the first one to check in on me when you know things are going wrong, so it’s only fair I do it back.”

Leaning back in his chair and stretching his arm and hands behind the back of his head, Alfie took in a big breath and sighed outwards. “I suppose I have been a grump recently. I’m sorry if I’ve upset you or mom.”

“You’ve not upset us Alf, you’ve just made us worried. What’s going on?” He asked before taking another sip of his tea. “Something’s changed.”

Shrugging his shoulder and then wiping his face, Alfie soon opened up. “It’s just that things are different on the ship now.”

“Different, how?” James questioned his son. 

Sighing again, Alfie spoke up. “Since Leeyum and Edon left.” He said referring to his former friends that were the sons of James’ ex-first officer. “I just don’t have any friends anymore, dad.”

“Really?” James checked. “There’s no-one?”

“I’m not like Henri who everyone loves because he is so good at sports, or the fact that everyone appears to fan around Theo once he plays a particular piece of music almost flawlessly.” Alfie stated. “Leeyum and Edon were the guys who I hung out most with, plus Uncle Tobi is always busy with Commander Duncan, there isn’t anyone else to hang with. Plus don’t take this the wrong way, but hanging out with your parents is only cool for some occasions.”

Chuckling at that last statement, James could understand Alfie’s predicament. “Firstly, I get it. I didn’t want to hang out with my folks when I was your age, but remember unlike your grandparents your mother and I do run a pretty cool starship.” James went on to list each response as he pointed to his fingers, counting each of the things he could do to help his son. “Secondly, I don’t expect you to follow in your brother’s footsteps. Whatever you want to do with your life is down to you. Again, unlike your grandparents, your mom and I will support you with whatever you want to do. Thirdly, I get that you miss Leeyum and Edon. I miss Bexa and Naprem too, but we can’t do anything about that I’m afraid, bud. Fourthly, I don’t understand why Tobi is always busy with Commander Duncan – he may be helping him settle in with his new job as first officer. I know they’ve been spending a lot of late nights together, sorting out all of the admin issues that came up from our recent mission with the Tkon, so I am sure he will be around more if you want him to.”

“Nah, I don’t want to cramp whatever he is getting up to.” Alfie said. “But thanks dad.” He paused again and looked at his dad. “There is one thing I have been considering and wasn’t sure when to speak to you and mom about it.”

Deep down, James was hoping that Alfie wasn’t about to share with him that he had fallen in love with someone and got them pregnant or that he was about to join a Klingon cult or something else that teenagers made their parents worry about. Remaining calm, James assured Alfie he could speak up. “Go on, share it now while it’s just us two. I’m sure your mom won’t mind not hearing it at the same time.”

“I want to follow in both of your footsteps,” Alfie started with. “I want to join Starfleet.”

James just starred beyond Alfie and soon he realised how his parents must have felt when he and his brothers had told them of their intention to join the service. “Oh, wow…well I wasn’t expecting that.” He said back after clearing his throat. “You want to go to Starfleet Academy?”

“Yeah.” Alfie nodded. “I mean, I know I can’t actually go to Starfleet Academy from where we are but others have attended it remotely, so there’s a precedent.”

“That’s true.” James agreed as he took another sip. He was wondering if he was ready to accept the idea of his son wanting to join Starfleet, let alone even considering the notion that Alfie was ready for it. “Going through Starfleet Academy is quite intense, Alf.”

“I know, but if both of my parents can do it then why can’t I?” He questioned. 

“True,” James said, still not quite dealing with the whole idea himself. “What brought this all on, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“When the Klingons boarded Odyssey.” He admitted. “It was truly scary, seeing them trying to get into the classroom then seeing the others fight them off and then being told you and mom were injured. It just made me realise how sheltered my life has been.”

“You make it sound as if that’s a bad thing Alfie?” James said, a bit hurt that his son felt that he and Karyn had hid him away from so much.

Shaking his head after realising what he said and how his father could take it, Alfie re-explained himself. “That’s not what I meant dad, I mean I know I have had a privileged life on the Odyssey but the Odyssey is all I’ve known and again that’s no criticism to you or mom. I am truly proud of the work you both do, but I want to see and understand more beyond the hull of the Odyssey.”

Grinning, James understood exactly the urge that Alfie was sharing with him. “It makes perfect sense to me.” He assured his son. “It’s similar to what I had with your grandparents, you want to make your own mark on the universe. I get that, but can I give you some advice?”


“Don’t run until you’re ready to make your first steps.” James shared. “Being half-El-Aurian means you have a nice long life ahead of you so enjoy the moments that come your way. If you’re serious about wanting to join Starfleet then let me and your mom help you with it. We were Starfleet Academy instructors.”

“That sounds great, thanks dad.” Alfie responded with a smile.

“And we can just make it our thing, without your brothers too.” James stated, he placed his mug down. “Well, if you want to take your first step how about we start with a flying lesson followed by you getting familiar with this shuttle?”

“Are you serious, dad?” Alfie asked, a bit startled with his father’s suggestion.

“Absolutely.” James said as he got up from his chair. “Come on, it’s not as if you’re going to hit a planet in this nebula we’re in.”

James then led Alfie into the cockpit to start to see if following in his parents’ footsteps was something he truly wanted to do.   

Close Encounters

USS Odyssey (NCC-80000), Gradin Belt, Delta-Beta Quadrants Border
Stardate: 76753.1

Entering The Auditorium, Commander Reyas was flanked either side by her two sons, Theo and Henri. It was unusual for the McCallister-Reyas family to be apart, however Reyas had planned to enjoy her evening with the boys. Neither of them were too keen about the idea, but Reyas had made a deal with them. Have dinner with her and then the rest of the evening was theirs. The compromise had appeared to work and when she had said they were heading to The Auditorium, both seemed more eager about it.

Making their way across the massive lounge, Reyas insisted they sit upstairs and use the area that was exclusively reserved for the captain. Being the captain’s wife and second officer had its perks and with Commander Duncan not in sight she decided to flex her seniority. “Come on boys, I won’t tell your father if you don’t!”

Henri chuckled at his mother’s lame attempt at humour while Theo just rolled his eyes as they walked up the large central staircase to the upper level of the lounge. Reaching the top the three of them were met by Remi Goldman, the lounge manager. A man in his late fifties, Remi had been with the Odyssey since it’s launch over twelve years ago. With a strong wispy black and silver beard that he kept well groomed, the human man had become the ship’s informal morale officer over the years. A family man who was direct with his mannerisms and friendly to all he met, Goldman was known by everyone on the ship. “Commander Reyas, Henri, Theo – a warm welcome to you all this evening.” He greeted them with. “I see you are missing two members of your clan.”

Reyas smiled at him as they walked over to the captain’s VIP area. “James and Alfie are off on a small low key mission and won’t be back until tomorrow.”

Looking at her sons, Goldman smirked at them before speaking. “Which leave you two young gentlemen the honour of escorting this fine woman this evening.”

Again both teenagers gave out either a groan or mumbled something. A typical teenage boy response of which Goldman just chuckled at. “Theo, I believe Duke will be coming later. Can I tempt you both to play a few pieces?” The lounge manager asked, referring to his son who was only a year older than the McCallister-Reyas boys and who Theo had been playing a lot of music with lately. “I hear through the grape-vine you two are becoming the rising stars in music class at the moment?”

“Yeah, don’t we know it!” Grumbled Henri.

Ignoring his brother’s comment, Theo’s attitude appeared to change when the opportunity to play his music live to everyone was placed in front of him. “That would be great, thanks.”

“I look forward to it and once Duke arrives, I’ll send him up to you for you to decide on what you’ll play.” Goldman suggested.

Reyas looked at the lounge manager, “Is that all the entertainment for tonight?” She quiered as they made their way over to their VIP booth-like area. 

Shaking his head, Goldman replied with a swift ‘no’ followed by an explanation that a little bit later on a quiz night was taking place. “I hope to see the senior staff, that’s left, enter it?”

“I’ll rally the troops!” Reyas remarked as their host left them to settle down.

Sitting down on one side of the large circular table, Reyas called over one of the stewards so they could order in drinks and their food. Tonight’s themed evening was spices from Bajor. Ordering hasperat for each of them along with a side of Mesto salad, Reyas had also asked for a glass of Bajoran spring wine for herself as well. 

“Your dad and I were talking about us five taking a vacation together.” She shared with her sons. 

Henri appeared to scoff at the idea, “Where would we go? Unimatrix Zero One with the Borg Queen?”

“A hunting party with the Hirogen?” Theo added.

“Or back to Outré to dig up more mysteries?” Henri included. “I’d prefer to be assimilated.”

Almost slamming her palm on the table, Reyas had enough of her sons and their constant rudeness that evening. “That’s enough, both of you.” She said in a stern motherly tone. “I don’t know what is up with either of you tonight but I’d like the two sons I gave birth to, to return back to me without all of the rudeness and sarcastic remarks. What is wrong with you both?” 

Appearing sheepish in their expressions, both Henri and Theo looked at one another and then back to their mother before apologising for their behaviour. 

Henri spoke up, “We were invited to a party tonight, mum,” He answered before glaring at his brother. “But if Theo plays here then we’ll be even later than planned.”

Realising that they found hanging out with their mother as social sucide, Reyas shook her head at them both. “Is that it?” She asked and then looked at Theo for clarity. 

“It is mom,” Theo confirmed. “But I do want to play with Duke later. He is so cool.” 

“Traitor.” Henri commented back. 

Glaring at his brother, Theo ignored the insult thrown his way and returned to his mother. “Plus it’s the first evening we don’t have Alfie moping around so we could actually go and hang out with our friends.”

Holding her hands up for them to stop, Reyas was confused by that last statement. “What do you mean without Alfie moping around? And if memory serves me correctly, it wasn’t Alfie who was moping around recently. Theo, you were the one who told your father on Outré how upset you were over Leeyum and Edon leaving with Bexa and Napreem. So where has this all come from?” Reyas looked at both of them for answers.

Rolling his eyes, Theo explained it to her. “I do…I mean we do miss them. It’s not the same but since they have left we’ve all become friends with others as you and dad suggested we do.”

“But Alfie doesn’t either want to hang out with who we are friends with or when he does he is always bringing down the mood of the room.” Henri said. “Plus when we ask him what is wrong, he just says that neither of us would understand. The last time we asked, he and Theo had a massive argument and he started going on about something that he wasn’t like either of us with our interests.”

Realising what was now going on with their sons, Reyas nodded to show her understanding as Theo and Henri spoke. “Do you mean your interest in sport and Theo’s passion for music?”

“Yeah.” Henri replied. “The only thing he is interested in is when we go to the holodeck with Uncle Tobi, but with him being super busy lately we’ve not been.”

“Well I hope your father gets something out of him then.” Reyas remarked. 

“Is that why dad took him on that shuttle mission?” Theo inquired as their food and drink arrived. 

Thanking the stewards as she picked up her glass of Bajoran spring wine, Reyas turned her attention back to Theo and nodded. “We were trying to work out what was wrong with him, so your dad decided to take him off the ship for some one-to-one attention.”

“Well I hope dad has taken a Romulan mind probe with him to get it out of Alf.” Henri stated as he picked up his hasperat to take a bite. 

Ignoring that comment, Reyas finished her sip of her Bajoran spring wine and then looked at Henri. “What do you mean by Tobi being super busy lately?”

In between mouthfuls, Henri covered his mouth as he answered his mother. “Well there’s been a few evenings where he hasn’t been around or has been late over. He just tells us he has been working an extra shift, or had a meeting that had overrun.”

Confused by that as she was aware of Court’s recent duties, Reyas took the decision to make a mental note to find out more about that at another time. 

“I hope we’re not disturbing?” asked Doctor Slyvexs as she approached Reyas and her sons. “Could we join you, Karyn?”

Looking up at the Denobulan doctor, Reyas smiled and saw that Slyvexs was arm-in-arm with her third husband, Mettex. He was a tall man that Slyvexs had been married to for over thirty years and had joined the Odyssey as one of its civilian astrology consultants. Quickly gesturing them over, Karyn stood up and greeted the pair of Denobulans. “Absolutely come and join us.” She said with glee at having some adult company at this point. Slyvexs had always had a soft spot for the McCallister-Reyas boys, as she had been the one to help Karyn deliver them. “Are you both staying for the quiz?”

“We heard about it from Remi,” Mettex said as he pulled out the chair for his wife and aided her in sitting down in a very gentleman like fashion. He took his seat as he carried on talking, “we’re not too sure what it entails though.”

“Teams compete in a range of rounds that require you to answer questions about certain subjects.” Reyas answered as she sat down herself. “The team with the most correct answers is declared the winners.”

“Seems like fun to me.” Slyvexs said with a smile. “We bumped into Tremt, Lukiz and Cline on our way here. I told them to join us. I hope that’s okay with you, Karyn?”

“The more the merrier.” Reyas said before realising she saw the looks from her sons. “These two will probably be leaving us shortly to attend their own gatherings with their friends.”

“Does that mean we can go now?” Henri asked, sounding like he was pleading with his mother. 

“Finish up what you have and just go.” She answered, indicated to the food on the plate before him. “And be home by twenty-two hundred hours, no later.”

“I’ll go find Duke and see what we can play.” Theo remarked as both he and his brother scoffed the last parts of their food into their mouths before getting up to leave.

As soon as they left, Slyvexs looked at Reyas. “Was it something we said?”

Shaking her head, Reyas explained that her and James were dealing with fun that came with the teenage years in triplets.

“We know it all too well.” Mettex remarked as the food and drink they ordered appeared. Several waiters placed their food and drink down, one of them offered another glass of wine to Reyas who accepted it. “It’s the one thing I do miss from being so far away from Denobula.” He added before taking a bite of his food. 

“Hormonal youngsters can be a handful.” Slyvexs agreed. “I suspect with your El-Aurian genetics in them, that they will either get over it quickly or it may go on for some time.”

“That’s not comforting, doc.” Reyas said with a smirk as she took her fork and stabbed it into her Mesto salad. “I don’t think I was ever this grumpy with my mother.”

“Mettex would disagree with me on this one, but I certainly believe raising teenage boys is harder than girls.” Slyvexs shared as she picked up her own glass of Bajoran spring wine. “Girls are emotional but you can help them through it. Boys, whatever species are too impulsive.”

“I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, but the Vulcans should share their ideas of suppressing all emotions solely for teenagers in other species. It would save a lot of headaches for parents around the galaxy!” Mettex said with a smirk. 

Reyas chuckled at that idea and at that point the three other senior members of staff that the doctor had mentioned earlier arrived in the section. All of them were out of their uniforms and in civilian attire. It certainly made the atmosphere feel more welcomed. 

“Are we gatecrashing this party?” Jen asked as they approached. 

“Can we still join you?” Lenjir inquired. 

Nodding to them all, Reyas gestured for them all to take a seat around the table. “As long as you don’t plan on leaving us before the quiz night, I think we could make it a senior staff quiz.”

“Without the captain.” Hunsen stated as he took a seat. “Do you think he would forgive us if he wasn’t included?”

“Mettex could take his place.” Jen suggested as he got comfortable in his chair. “Anyway, we’re missing Max and Tobi, as well as T’Rani, Samris, Tomaz and Craigen.”

Not wanting any gossip to be shared about T’Rani and Samris, Karyn quickly covered up for them. “I’m sure T’Rani offered Samris some piloting lessons this evening on the holodeck.”

“And I’m certain Tomaz and Craigen are working through that last datastream from Earth about the Tkon, just in case we come across them again.” Lenjir added. “So where’s Max and Tobi tonight? It’s not like them to miss out on one of the themed nights in here.”

Quickly speaking up, Hunsen answered the Tiburon’s question. “I think I overheard Max calling Tobi to meet with him in the Lion Gate to over some crew evaluations. They’re probably still there.”

“That can’t be right, Tremt.” Slyvexs answered. “Mettex and I had planned to have dinner there tonight and when we arrived the computer wouldn’t let us in, the doors were locked and the glass doors had been blacked out.”

“Oh really?” Hunsen said, trying to come up with an excuse for that, the chief engineer shared another lie. He wasn’t going to be the one that Max complained to about sharing the secret he had to keep. “You know what, I think Max did call into me earlier tonight about one of the replicators not working in there and I just told him to lockdown the room and I’d deal with it another time.”

“Surely a maintenance crew could deal with it?” Jen questioned the engineer. “In fact we could send the engineering holograms now to do it as part of their tests.”

“No.” Hunsen snapped. “I mean, no. It’s fine, I can deal with it in the morning, Lukiz.” 

“A pretty menial task for our chief engineer.” Lenjir said. “Still, where could Max and Tobi be?”

For the first time in days, Commander Duncan hadn’t thought about a duty roster, or an unread report or the need to organise an urgent senior staff meeting. Instead he was enjoying himself and actually the privilege that came with his position as first officer appeared to be paying off. After secretly meeting with Court in the Lion Gate and telling him that he had put his foot in it with Hunsen by revealing their relationship. At first the senior chief petty officer hadn’t been too happy about it, but after a few seconds he admitted to the first officer that he wanted something more and told him how he truly felt and that he wanted them to become a real couple, one that wasn’t afraid to share their relationship in public. Deciding that Court was right and they couldn’t hide it anymore, Duncan agreed. They had spent the rest of the evening in the Lion Gate having a private dinner. Using his command codes, Duncan had locked the door and told the computer to prevent anyone from seeing in through the glass doors by altering their opaqueness. Thankfully he did as Doctor Slyvexs had tried to enter earlier that evening, thankfully the computer didn’t accept her command codes to override. 

Now the two men were cuddling on the longest sofa that sat underneath the slanted bay windows. Court on top of Duncan with his back against his chest, the two just looked up at the starfield that the Odyssey was slowly passing through. After replicating a decent dinner and drinking some champagne, the two of them had rummaged through the captain’s private cabinet to take out what real alcoholic drinks he had in there. Finding a bottle of Saurian brandy, they were now enjoying its contents while just being together.

“This is perfect.” mumbled Court into Duncan’s neck.

“That’s the sixth time you’ve said that.” Duncan counted. “You know we’re going to have to call it a night and leave here at some point. I’ve got a ship to run, you know.”

Sighing heavily, Court let out a brief whine. “Technically speaking with the captain off ship and you in command, as acting-captain you can run the ship from wherever you like.”

“True, but I don’t think the captain would appreciate hearing that I did that on the first time he went away and left me in charge.” Duncan said as he tightened his grip around Court’s chest. 

“Second time.” Court corrected his boyfriend. “You were left in command while he, Commanders Cambil and Reyas were in sickbay during the Archanis Campaign.” 

“That doesn’t count.” Duncan replied. “I wasn’t the first officer.”

“You’re too good sometimes.” Court mocked him. “Anyway, if you want to call it a night and end our official first date, then I know where we can take the post-date celebrations!”

Intrigued, Duncan looked to the man on him. “Do share.” He insisted. 

Turning around and now facing on top, Court leaned in slightly and whispered his response. “Your quarters.”

“Sounds good to me.” Duncan said as he pushed Court off of him and ordered the computer to activate a site-to-site transport for them both to his quarters. Seconds later they materialised on the ground floor of Duncan’s quarters. “Shall we take this upstairs?” He asked as he pulled Court close to him. 

“You read my mind.” Court replied as he passionately kissed Duncan before he was pulled in the direction of the stairs to go up towards the first officer’s bedroom. 

Shuttlecraft Holmes 

Finishing off the lasagne that he had replicated for him and Alfie, Captain McCallister placed their empty dishes back into the replicator to be recycled. “You want anything else? He asked out towards his son. 

Alfie, who was sitting on the small leather grey sofa reading a PADD, just shook his head. “Nah, I’m good thanks, dad. I may call it a night.”

Ordering himself just a mug of his usual tea, James took the hot beverage out of the replicator after it had materialised. “I’m going to head up to-” He was interrupted by the computer’s automated response for the shuttle’s proximity alarm.

“Proximity alert! Vessel approaching.”

Rushing to the cockpit, both James and Alfie took their chairs. James automatically looked up and saw what the computer had picked up. A huge ship which was bigger than the Odyssey was almost on a collision course for them. Quickly adjusting their heading and moving them out of the way, James told Alfie to begin scanning the ship. The colossal vessel was purely grey and appeared to have been hit in multiple areas by the existence of its damaged hull. Scorch marks and impact holes could be seen at various points. The ship’s overall shape almost made it look like a floating donut with a central pyramid section. There appeared to be no outer lighting or any markings to indicate who owned it. What appeared to be the aft section of the ship, six huge impulse engines appeared to be active but the ship was moving at a slow pace. 

“That’s massive.” Alfie commented. “I don’t recognise it and neither does the ship’s computer records.”

“I concur, it’s nothing I’ve seen or read about before.” James said as he looked at the same sensor readings. He was impressed at how well Alfie had responded as his co-pilot and took the initiative to scan the ship. “If they had a warp drive, or any other faster-than-light drive then I’m not detecting it.”

“Do we hail them?” Alfie asked.

Considering the choices before him, James wanted to hail the alien ship but the other part of him erred on the side of caution. “If they’ve not detected us yet then I don’t want to draw attention to ourselves. The nebula must be affecting their sensors, so let’s move away and then call in the Odyssey. I’d prefer to make the opening hail from the bridge than from here.”

“Oh come on dad, what’s the harm in saying hello?” Alfie asked. 

“A lot and I’m not going to place you in danger. We know nothing about them, so I’d prefer to make first contact with the rest of the Odyssey.” James answered flatly. “And that’s final.”

“Spoil spot.” Alfie stated.

Sniggering at that remark, James was reminded of an old colleague at Starfleet Academy who would use a similar phrase when she taught interspecies ethics. “Captain’s prerogative actually, something you’ll one day appreciate when you take command of your first vessel.” James corrected as he adjusted their flight path one more time and headed back to the Odyssey

“So our little mission is over?” Alfie asked. 

Nodding to his son with a sense of regret, James told him yes. “That’s not to say what we’ve discussed has ended, I mean it when I say we will help you get into the academy, if you want to.”

“Thanks dad, I appreciate it.” Alfie said.

“Once we’re over a hundred thousand kilometers from that alien craft, hail the Odyssey on a low-level subspace band. I don’t want whoever is following us to pick up the signal.” James said. 

Alfie acknowledged the order, leaving James the chance to look at the sensors one more time at the alien craft they were fleeing from. A quantum scan of it soon showed its results revealing that the craft was at least two thousand years old. 

Where the hell did it come from and what was it doing here in the middle of no-where? 

Troop Assembling

USS Odyssey (NCC-80000), Gradin Belt, Delta-Beta Quadrants Border
Stardate: 76753.59

Taking on the role of Officer of the Watch for the gamma and delta shift wasn’t quite what Penelope was expecting, nevertheless she was content in helping out where she could. It was rare for her to be active, so being operational meant that she had created an algorithm to ensure she was seen as relevant and useful in her duties. 

Sitting in the captain’s chair, the Emergency Command Hologram was reviewing the latest updates to the roster for the next shift and ensuring there was no overlapping in orders or that anyone was working a double shift. Being a being of light and force fields, she did not get the luxury of not working one shift after the other. Fortunately for her she did not get tired compared to her flesh and blood colleagues. The captain had issued orders prior to his departure that he wanted to relax on work orders while the ship was engaged in an almost mundane type of mission. Easing off and giving people a bit more time to relax was his intention. The crew had deserved it after everything they had been through.  

At the corner of her peripheral vision, she could see Lieutenants Tomaz and Flemen working at the mission ops stations. Both men seemed to be highly focussed on their duties of updating themselves with the latest information sent to them from Starfleet in the most recent datastream. Penelope had already downloaded all of the information and had accessed it into her short term memory banks. Resisting the urge to help them, the ECH remained in her chair and turned her focus on the latest readings coming from the numerous probes they had sent out in this desolate region of space as well as a few scouting crews as well.

The gamma shift ops manager turned around in her chair after she received a message on her console. “Ma’am, there’s an incoming call from the captain.” spoke Ensign Klymara Tekachin. The Zakdorn woman was young and had strong brown hair that bobbed around the edge of her pouched cheeks. 

Looking at her, Penelope ordered her to put the captain up and then called Lieutenant Tomaz over. He was the highest senior member of staff on the bridge after her (even though she had four silver pips on her uniform). The Barzan got up from his station and was followed over by Lieutenant Flemen. 

The captain’s face then appeared on the main screen, with one of his sons beside him. Penelope’s memory banks recalled that this was Alfie, his second eldest. The resemblance between father and son was quite close.

“Captain, are you okay?” Penelope asked.

“We’re fine thank you Penny,” McCallister answered, showing his appreciation for the hologram’s concern. “We’re returning to the ship ahead of schedule as we’ve encountered an alien vessel that appears to be over two-thousand years old.”

“Did you say over two-thousand years old, sir?” Tomaz checked, the astonishment appearing in his tone. 

“Indeed, it’s a drift from what I can tell but I think it’s worth an investigation.” McCallister told them. “Once we’re back on board, have the senior staff meet me in astrometrics. In the meantime, I’m transmitting the coordinates of the ship to you now. Let’s set an intercept course and turn our sensors to it.”

“Captain, we’ve got other scouting parties out and about, shall we have them return?” Penelope inquired. 

“That’s not a bad idea, Penny.” McCallister replied. “Issue the orders at once.”

“Sir, are there any clues to being able to identify the craft at all?” Flemen asked

Shaking his head, McCallister answered no, but it was Alfie who spoke up. “The hull looks pretty busted up.” The younger man contributed. 

“We’ll be home in about an hour, we can work out who it belongs to then. Holmes out.” McCallister said before closing the channel. 

The moment the captain was gone, Tomaz looked at Flemen and Penelope. “Finally, something to write in our logs.”

“Indeed.” Penelope agreed. “So, who wants to interrupt the rest of the senior staff?”

Tomaz and Flemen looked at one another, grinned and then looked back at Penelope.

“Technically speaking, you’re in command.” Tomaz stated

“So that honour falls on you.” Flemen added.

Rolling her eyes at their lack of unwillingness to disturb the others and get blamed for spoiling their evenings, Penelope tapped her combadge and shook her head at the same time. “Bridge to all senior staff, please report to the astrometrics suite in one hour.” Tapping her badge to close the channel, she considered speaking to Commander Duncan but was surprised he didn’t call straight away. Instead it was Commander Reyas who appeared several minutes later on the bridge. 

“What’s happening?” The chief science officer asked. 

Rising from her chair, Penelope looked at the El-Aurian commander and answered her. She shared the news from the captain and what was happening. 

Once Reyas was properly briefed, she looked around the bridge. “Where’s Max?” She enquired. 

Everyone looked back with a blank expression. Normally it was protocol for the first officer and second officer to report to the bridge in the captain’s absence when something changed what was happening with the ship and its current mission. Reyas ordered the others to find their first officer while she prepped in the astrometrics suite, in an almost rushed manner.

“Bridge to Commander Duncan.” Penelope said after tapping her badge again. 

No response.

She tried several more times but had the same lack of reply. 

Tomaz looked at Flemen with a concerned look. It wasn’t like Commander Duncan not to answer a call.

Sharing a similar concern, the ECH was quick to react. Accessing the internal sensors within a few seconds, Penelope detected the commander’s communicator and life sign in his quarter. “He is on board and in his quarters.” She shared after looking up from the holographic display she had pushed up from the captain’s chair’s arm . 

“He might be in trouble. Maybe transfer your program to his quarters.” Tomaz suggested. 

Closing her eyes to attempt to do the transfer, Penelop’s attempt failed. Opening her eyes, she looked at the two officers. “No luck, privacy mode is enabled.” 

“Maybe he’s in a deep sleep?” Flemen remarked. 

“Penny, you remain here while Craigen and I’ll go wake the commander.” Tomaz said. He gestured for his colleague to join him as he made his way across to the nearest turbolift. 

When the orders from the bridge had been issued for all of the senior staff to report to the astrometrics suite, the senior staff that had been enjoying the evening’s entertainment in the Auditorium had all got up and soon left.

Hunsen, Slyvexs, Jen and Lenjir had all shared a turbolift down to the astrometric suits while Commander Reyas had said she was heading up to the bridge to find out what was going. 

“So come on then boys, are we going to take a bet on what’s been found? I’m thinking it’s a temporarily displaced inhabited planet?” Slyvexs suggested. The Denobulan doctor had left her husband to find his own way home to their quarters but remained in good spirits since departing from their evening’s entertainment. 

“My latinum is on it being a quantum singularity that leads to the realm inhabited by Species Eight-Four-Seven-Two.” offered Jen as he crossed his arms against his chest. 

Lenjir chuckled at both ideas. “Nah, I reckon it’s a Borg Cube that’s been disconnected from the hive mind since Voyager damaged the Collective with their neurolytic pathogen and the captain wants us to help them reclaim their individuality.” He looked at Hunsen. “Tremt, your thoughts?”

“You know I’m rubbish at this.” Hunsen replied with a chuckle.

Jen nodded. “He’s right, the best person at this is our fearless Number One.”

“Talking of which, did we ever get to the bottom of his whereabouts tonight?” Slyvexs probed.

“If him and Tobias were doing the crew evaluations then they’re probably still drowning in the paperwork.” Lenjir stated. “They’re probably grateful for the call from Penny for the break.”

Hunsen just smirked and placed his left hand to cover his expression up, if only they knew he thought. 

The door chime went off. 

A few seconds later it went off again.

Then a third. 

Hearing the call for a second time, Court opened his eyes and looked around at his surroundings. He grinned at the scene he found himself in, he was lying in the bed that belonged to his boyfriend. Well that was the best description he could come up with. He and Max hadn’t officially labelled their relationship yet, but he was certain they were at that point now. Looking next to him, seeing Max in a deep sleep, Court smiled more at the peaceful posture that his lover was in. 

Then the door chime went off and Court realised why he woke up. Who would be calling in to see the first officer at this time of hour?

Quickly he slapped Duncan’s bare chest and woke him with a veracious shake. “Max, wake up. There’s someone at the door.”

Reacting in an almost shocked way, Duncan made a sort of surprised noise as he woke up. “What the-” He said looking around and saw Court almost on top of him. “What the hell Tobes.” Duncan said, showing his disgust for being woken up.

“Someone’s at your door.” Court said again. 

“Ah jeez.” Duncan grumbled as he got up and realised he had nothing on. “Shit.” He grumbled as he quickly picked up the nearest pair of trousers on the floor and uniform jacket.

The door chime went off again as Duncan rushed down the flight of stairs to the main floor of his quarters. As he went down he soon realised he was wearing Court’s trousers as they were a bit tighter around the waist. He attempted to do up at the jacket but gave up as he got to the door and answered it by tapping on the controls.

The door swished open and he was confronted by the sight of Lieutenants Tomaz and Flemen. “Guys, what’s the emergency?”

“Sorry sir, we’ve been trying to contact you but you’ve not answered and we thought something bad had happened.” Tomaz answered.

Duncan rubbed his face as the bright light from the corridor flooded into his quarters that were in pitch darkness. Squinting as his eyes got used to the brighter light, Duncan looked at them both as he made himself more decent with the jacket. “You didn’t answer my question, what’s the emergency?”

“No emergency as such sir, the captain is returning after finding an alien craft that appears to be at drift.” Flemen shared. 

“He wants the entire senior staff to meet him in the astrometric suite.” Tomaz added. The Barzan then inhaled in the gasses from his breathing apparatus before narrowing his sight on the commander’s right shoulder. “Sir, did you take a demotion to senior chief petty officer?”

Duncan looked down and saw that he had picked up Court’s jacket and automatically he felt his cheeks go red from embarrassment as he realised what he had done. The combadge that was hanging on the jacket then went off.

Bridge to Chief Court.” spoke Penelope crisp and clear. 

Both Flemen and Tomaz looked at one another and then back to the commander. They soon appeared to be able to work out why the first officer was wearing the jacket that belonged to the chief of the boat. 

“We’ll leave you sir to get yourself…umm… sorted.” Tomaz said, trying to suppress a smirk. 

“And we promise to keep this quiet.” Flemen added with a similar grin, looking elsewhere. 

“Thank you gentlemen.” Duncan said after clearing his throat and looking down. “I’ll see you in astrometrics shortly.”

Stepping away from the door, Duncan closed it and groaned inwardly. Heading upstairs, he stripped off the uniformjacket  he had hastily put on and threw it towards Court, who was sat up in his bed with just a sheet covering the bottom half of his naked body. “Did I just hear, what I thought I heard?”

“That both Craigen and Tomaz have worked out that you and I are sleeping together?” Duncan replied back as he sat on the edge of his bed. “Yeah, probably.”

Bridge to Chief Court.” spoke Penelope again over the intercom.

Court tapped the combadge on his jacket and answered it. “Go ahead.”

“Chief, the captain is returning home and wants you to join the rest of the senior staff in a meeting in astrometrics shortly.” Penelope shared. 

“Understood, I’ll be there soon. Court out.” He said and closed the channel by tapping on the combadge. He got out of bed, picking up his underwear and putting it on before sitting down next to Duncan on the edge of the bed. “What did you wanna do?”

Duncan looked at Court and exhaled slowly, almost appearing to deflate. “I’ll speak to both of them separately, but do you want to keep us a secret?”

Leaning in Court kissed Duncan on the edge of his lips. As he pulled away, he shook his head. “Whatever you want to do is good with me.” He then stood up and took Duncan by the hand. “We’ve got time for a quick shower and I think we need to replicate some new uniform. We can’t go in looking all…”

“Disheveled?” Duncan said as he stood up, still holding Court’s hand. 


“Then come on.” Duncan almost ordered as he led him towards the ensuite bathroom. 

Departing holosuite four, with sweat pouring down his front and his breath still catching up, Counsellor Samris looked to his companion and grinned. “So what did you think of Voraant?” 

T’Rani, who appeared to be somewhat hot and bothered from their late night of exercise, dabbed her chest with a white towel she had brought with her. “It reminds me of several Earth games, but I can appreciate why Romulans may take pleasure from it for its ability to keep one fit.”

Chuckling slightly, Samris took T’Rani by the hand. A gesture a few days ago she would not have appreciated, instead now she gripped his hand and allowed him to lead them down the corridor. “I’m glad we’re able to share our interests with one another.” He said as he led them down the corridor.

“Indeed, however since the order has come in for us to report to the astrometrics suite, I suggest we return to our quarters to clean ourselves and change into more suitable clothing.” T’Rani said 

“Are you truly cutting our date to an end now?” Samris asked as they continued to walk down the corridor. 

“It is not my request to end our time together this evening, I believe the blame lies with the captain.” T’Rani offered. 

“So is that your way of saying we should do this again?” Samris asked as they approached the nearest turbolift. 

“Indeed, however I believe we should try engaging in a different type of recreational activity instead of ones that are purely Romulan or Vulcan.” T’Rani offered as the lift arrived and they entered it. “Human opera is fascinating to observe.”

Just before the doors closed, Samris nodded to the idea. “Opera it is then.”

The aft compartment door lowered down, allowing for Captain McCallister and his son to depart from their shuttlecraft. The dockmaster approached them and asked the captain if everything was okay with the shuttle. Acknowledging with his response, McCallister asked the dockmaster to get a team to download their sensor logs into the ship’s computer straight away.

Heading towards the nearest turbolift, James told Alfie he should head to their quarters at once. “And make sure you don’t tell your mother that I allowed you to fly the shuttle back.” He added.

Alfie smirked at that comment. “Level ten clearance is required for that level of information, dad.” He said. “Thanks again for our trip dad.”

“I’m sorry it ended so abruptly though Alfie.” James said back. “I promise the next time we get a chance to get away, then I’ll take you out again.”

“I appreciate that dad.” Alfie said. “Does it ever get boring being a captain?”

Chuckling at that question, James shook his head. “I wish it did.”

“What do you think you would have done if you hadn’t entered Starfleet?” Alfie asked as the turbolift changed direction.

Considering the question for a moment, James pondered over his options. “I did have a few offers to take my swimming to a professional level, but then I loved tinkering with anything I could take apart too much. Starfleet seemed inevitable really.”

“I suppose, I best find a field of interest.” Alfie commented. 

“Don’t rush into it.” James advised as the turbolift came to a halt for his destination. He stepped out and turned to his son. “Seriously though Alf, you’ll be a great asset to Starfleet.”

Alfie smiled at his father’s praise as the lift doors closed and resumed the journey to where their quarters were.

Walking into astrometrics several seconds later, Captain McCallister was pleased to see his wife already there waiting for him. 

“Welcome home traveller.” She greeted him with a smile and a hug.

Returning the embrace and quick kiss on her cheek, McCallister was happy to feel her close to him again. “Thanks, though I’m certain next time I go away with our son I’ll attempt to avoid any ancient alien ships that are adrift. I was starting to enjoy my time away with Alfie.” 

“I’m sorry this has pulled you away from him.” Reyas said. “Did you get a chance to have a heart-to-heart with our beloved middle child?”

“I did, but I’ll catch you up about it all later.” McCallister said as he noticed that his wife had already begun working on scanning the alien ship. “What do you have on our latest mystery?”

“Exactly that, a mystery.” She answered as she led him over to the main controls that were in front of the huge ceiling to floor screen. “Your scans and what we’ve made so far from this distance are not revealing much.”

After she said her last word the senior staff started to enter the room and McCallister thanked her quietly before he began the meeting.

This would certainly be something they could sink their teeth into. 

Out Of The Bag

USS Odyssey (NCC-80000), Gradin Belt, Delta-Beta Quadrants Border
Stardate: 76753.66

Deciding to take an alternative path towards astrometrics, Commander Duncan soon caught up with his former protégé and assistant department head. “Craigen, a moment.” He called out to the Lumerian diplomatic officer. 

Stopping and turning on his heel, Flemen turned around and smiled as his superior approached him. “Sure, sir.” He responded, knowing that this moment was coming and he could sense what Duncan was thinking. His telepathic abilities were not needed to recognise the expression plastered across the commander’s face. Worried and embarrassed that Flemen and Tomaz had discovered something about his private life, Duncan was more than certain going to speak to him about what they had witnessed over almost an hour ago. 

Catching up with Flemen, Duncan placed his hands on his hips and smirked slightly. “Listen, Craigen, you know I’m a private type of guy-”

“Sir, say no more. Please I don’t want it to become an awkward situation between us and the chief.” Flemen quickly interjected with. “I am so sorry that we barged in and Tomaz and I have already said, we promise to keep it to ourselves.”

Grinning in appreciation for Flemen’s discretion with the matter, Duncan sighed with a sense of relief. “I appreciate it, Craigen, I really do and I am sure the chief will as well.” He responded. “It’s not that we want to keep our relationship a secret, but it’s just-”

Raising both hands suddenly in a stop-like fashion, Flemen shook his head as well. “Please sir, don’t say anymore. You don’t have to defend your private life at all. I respect you too much and I promise I won’t say a word and I am sure Tomaz won’t either.”

Again another sigh of relief, “Thank you Craigen.” Duncan said, pleased that he may have averted an issue from coming up. He would be ashamed if his relationship with Court became ship gossip, though he knew when they eventually revealed they were together publicly that it would cause some stir among others. On the eve of the twenty-fifth century, people still enjoyed any scandalous information about other people, especially those in senior positions. Nevertheless, Duncan wasn’t too keen on having members of the senior staff sharing stories about him and Court. It was bad enough that Hunsen knew so early on in their relationship. 

“Can we get to the briefing in astrometrics or is there anything else you want to discuss, sir?” Flemen questioned. 

Shaking his head, Duncan gestured for them to proceed down the corridor. 

Astrometrics was a huge room on the Odyssey. The floor to ceiling high viewscreen was supported by various holographic displays to the side of it, along with several stations that would normally be manned by those in the astrometrics department. But as it was the middle of the night, the room had no-one officially on duty which made it the perfect place for the captain to meet with his senior staff over his encounter. 

The entire senior staff were finally assembled and appreciating that most of them were half asleep when he had made the call to meet, while others had been enjoying themselves in the Auditorium, the captain knew he had to make this brief so they could get on with the work ahead of them without anyone falling asleep. Most of them had opted to sit on the stalls while the few decided to stand. 

“Okay everyone, I’m sorry for disturbing you all but we’ve encountered something that I think is worth our attention.” McCallister shared as he started the briefing. Using the holographic controls near to him, he brought up the images that he and Alife had taken over two hours ago of the huge ancient ship they had found. Tapping the controls one more time he turned the display into a three dimensional holographic model in front of them. “The scans of the ship we’ve taken are limited but for now we’ve determined this craft is almost two-thousand years old.”

“And we’re certain we don’t know who it belongs to?” Lenjir asked, almost repeating a question that Tomaz had asked when the captain had called the ship originally. 

Reyas answered on behalf of her husband, “I’ve ran a comparative analysis on what energy signatures the Holmes’ sensors picked up against known signatures in our database and it has not revealed any matches. We’ve determined what limited power signature we can detect that there are several fusion reactors on board, but we can’t detect a warp drive or any other faster-than-light propulsion device.”

“So it’s just floating out there?” Doctor Slyvexs asked as she gazed up at the scans. “Any life signs?”

“Scans are unable to penetrate the hull to detect any lifeforms, but it would appear it’s just its momentum that’s carrying it.” McCallister replied to the Denobulan.

“This craft appears quite large. What are its dimensions?” T’Rani raised with intrigue. 

“Almost four times larger than the Odyssey.” McCallister said. “Its hull also has monotanium hull plating.”

Hearing that clue, Tomaz’s attention was raised as he looked at his commanding officer. “Could it be Hirogen then? They’re known to use that type of defence on their ships.”

“Maybe, but we’re not detecting any typical Hirogen markings.” McCallister answered his chief strategic operations officer. “We’ve got too many unanswered questions. I want to limit those down asap.”

“What are your orders, captain?” Duncan asked. The first officer appeared slightly agitated and eager to get on with their new mission.

“We set an intercept course, one that doesn’t attract too much attention in case there is anyone on board. I want continuous scans of it as we get closer, then once we are in range we attempt to make contact.” McCallister answered. 

“A new mystery for the crew to resolve would certainly assist with morale.” Counselor Samris commented. 

Looking at the Romulan psychologist, McCallister wanted to agree but didn’t go all the way with his response. “I know our current mission has been quite…monotonous but this isn’t meant to be a distraction. We’re explorers and we could be making first contact with a new race here, so I want the crew at its best.”

“Of course sir, I didn’t mean anything else by my previous statement.” Samris said, sounding a bit flustered by his previous remark. 

McCallister raised his hand to show he got what his senior counsellor was saying. “I get it, Samris, I just want us to take this seriously. Any other questions?”

“Sir, do we plan to board it if we don’t get any response from our initial hails?” Jen asked from the opposite side of the room from McCallister. The joined Trill had his arms crossed against his chest. “A vessel that large will require several teams to explore.”

“Most likely, I wouldn’t want to leave such a precious discovery to be left untouched.” He looked to Lenjir. “Commander, make sure both hazard teams are prepped and ready to go. We may need to consider putting together some other teams as well.”

“Leave it with me to sort out sir.” Lenjir responded with conviction. 

Looking around the room, McCallister could see that everyone still looked a bit tired, so he decided he would take an easier approach to this mission. “T’Rani, inform the delta shift conn officer to set a course at a speed that would have us arrive in time for alpha shift to be on duty.”

“Of course, sir.” The Vulcan pilot acknowledged. 

Turning to his wife, McCallister asked her to have others in her department to begin the long range scans. “I want to give us enough time to have a better picture of what we’re about to deal with before we arrive.”

“Sounds like a wise idea.” Reyas said, stifling a yawn. “I’ll have some of our probes come in for a closer look.”

“Dismissed.” McCallister ordered everyone. “Commander Duncan, Chief Court, a moment please.” 

Hunsen gave Duncan a glare and at the same time sensed both Flemen and Tomaz being alarmed at the captain’s request. He looked at Flemen and the two of them shared a brief telepathic exchange where both had let their mental blocks down for a moment. Releasing soon that the two lieutenants in command red knew about his friend and his new partner, Hunsen suppressed a smirk as he walked past Duncan and Court. Both men looked like they were being called into the principal’s office for being naughty. Walking out with Flemen and Tomaz, the chief engineer called them to one side to join him. 

Noticing the trading of looks between the others, Duncan felt his stomach flip over several times as he looked at Court who also shared the same expression of concern. The two of them stepped forward to the captain, who was saying goodbye to his wife. 

“Max, Tobi,” the captain said after watching his wife depart. “There’s something I want to share with you both.”

Both men looked at one another and without any hesitation, Court spoke up. “Sir, before you say anything else we were planning to tell you.”

Joining in, Duncan added his input. “Absolutely and we don’t want you to think that we don’t take our duties seriously enough that we would allow anything to affect our professional lives.”

“We both appreciate and respect the trust you have put in us both.” Court said as well.

“Exactly, you have given us both so many opportunities to develop our careers and expand our leadership abilities.” Duncan said.

Confused as to what they were both saying, McCallister looked at them both as if they had just lost their minds. “What on earth are you both going on about?”

“The reason you wanted to talk to us in private.” Court answered. 

“We’re both prepared to face the consequences.” Duncan said.

Still unsure on what they were going on about and their unusual behaviour as if they had been caught with their hands in the cookie jar, McCallister couldn’t work out what they were talking about. Switching off the holographic displays with a swipe of his left hand, the captain looked at them. “Seriously guys, I’m not following what you’re going on about but I wanted to ask a personal favour.”

Both of them once again looked at each other and if McCallister had been a Betazoid he would have sensed the relief coming off from them. 

“A personal favour?” Court repeated.

“Of course, whatever it is.” Duncan quickly added.

Looking at them both, McCallsiter concluded that whatever was going on he wasn’t sure if he wanted to know or not. For now he ignored it and pressed on. “Alfie is interested in joining Starfleet and I wondered if you two would be okay in talking to him about it. Karyn and I will do it from being his parents but as he respects you both, I thought a different perspective would help.”

“He wants to join Starfleet? Then yeah, sure. I’d be happy to help guide my godson.” Court answered back. 

“Definitely, we can talk to him.” Duncan replied back, almost appearing relieved.

“Thanks.” McCallister said. He then looked at them both, “So what on Earth were you both going on about earlier?”

Again they looked at one another and Court gave Duncan the approval look. Duncan sighed and turned back to his captain. “Sir, there is a personal matter I think you should know.”

Still confused by that remark, McCallister shrugged his shoulder as to indicate he wanted to know more without actually saying it. 

“Max and I are together.” Court blurted out. 

“You’re together?” McCallister said, bafflement setting in. “What do you mean?”

“As in, together.” Duncan emphasised as he took hold of Court’s hand into his and raised it. “We’re seeing one another, sir.”

Surprised at the news, McCallister who had crossed his arms by this point wasn’t expecting to hear that. “Oh,” He said at first. “Well you know I can’t really criticize senior members of my staff seeing one another. I am married to the second officer.” He smirked at them. “Is that why you both came in to the meeting looking all coy and why Tremt gave you that look earlier, Max?”

Wincing at the fact the captain had seen that, Duncan just nodded in confirmation. 

“Flemen and Tomaz also know.” Court added. “We had planned to keep it quiet for as long as we could as we didn’t want our relationship being a source of chatter among the crew.”

McCallister chuckled at the situation. “Gentlemen, in the years I have been captain of this ship and my last command, there is one thing that has remained constant.” He paused as he looked at them with a sincere expression. “The moment the crew knows who their superiors are in a relationship with, you risk becoming the source of chatter whether you want it to happen or not.”

“We have asked for their discretion in keeping this quiet, sir.” Duncan added.

Appreciating their efforts, McCallister nodded to show he understood. “Listen, what you two get up to during your time off is no-one’s business but your own. I don’t usually pry into the personal lives of my crew, unless it has an adverse effect on the running of the ship. I will only advise you to use your better judgement to avoid making a public display. As long as you both can discharge your duties as my first officer and chief of the boat without any personal conflicts, then I have no issue here.”

“Of course sir.” Duncan said. “Thank you.” 

“We promise it won’t interfere with anything we do.” Court added.

“Good, now can we get on with dealing with this new mystery that has appeared on our doorstep?” McCallister asked and got a joint acknowledgement from both men. “Let’s get to it then.”

Is Anyone Home?

USS Odyssey (NCC-80000), Gradin Belt, Delta-Beta Quadrants Border
Stardate: 76754.8

Perching on the edge of his chair, McCallister was eager with what awaited ahead of them. Noticing everyone else on the bridge was sharing the same sentiments, the captain kept his cool and prevented himself from drumming his fingertips on the top of the arms on his chair. The low murmuring of the crew talking to one another in hush tones along with the gentle vibrations coming from the ship’s various power sources mixed in with the occasional computer beeps, created a calm atmosphere on the bridge. 

“Anything, commander?” He called over to his wife.

Looking up from her console, Reyas shook her head before responding. “I’m still not able to penetrate the hull to determine if there are any lifesigns. The monotanium plating is extremely thick, they’re good enough to bounce our scans off of them.” 

“They’re not answering our multiple hails, sir. I’m not detecting any active frequencies on subspace radio or any other channel.” Jen stated, anticipating the captain’s next inquiry. The joined Trill man turned around in his chair at the operations console. “That said sir, I am seeing multiple docking hatches. A shuttle with a small team could board via one of them and set up transport enhancers to help others explore the ship.”

McCallister considered the idea for a second. The former operations officer in him had already considered that as an idea. Looking directly at the holographic viewscreen before him, he gazed at the large vessel before them. 

It was massive. The alien craft almost looked pitch black in colour, numerous scorch marks were scattered across it too. It’s unusual saucer like shape had several gaps in its almost perfect curves. At the aft of the ship, five huge cylinder shapes exited. All of them appeared to be some component of the ship’s propulsion systems. 

“Cline, inform Hazard Teams Alpha and Beta to go over and secure an area for us to use to send additional survey teams over.” McCallister ordered.

The security and tactical chief just nodded and ordered his teams to head to the shuttlebay at once. 

Donning her hazard team gear, Lieutenant Keli felt ready. Looking at everyone around her, she could sense they were as well. Jissara approached her, phaser rifle in both hands, “Keli, the captain’s orders were a bit vague by what he meant with us securing the area. If we find people on board and they open fire, do we return fire or depart quickly?”

As their runabout, the Arsenal, approached the alien craft (what they had named Goliath due to its size), Keli looked out of the view and considered the Orion woman’s question carefully. She had a point. For the first time, she had not clarified something, which was unusual for her, the notion of them getting off the ship and exploring an alien vessel had blinded her judgement somewhat. “The latter, we are guests.” Keli answered. “I’m sure the captain would prefer we make a diplomatic effort first.”

“That’s if there’s anyone actually over there.” Jisaraa mentioned; she proceeded to thank her superior and went over to prepare the rest of her team for their mission ahead. 

Gazing back out of the Arrow-class runabout’s starboard side window again, the Coridanite just wondered who had built such a huge vessel and what its purpose was. Someone had already joked that, knowing their luck, they were about to step on to a Borg vessel and all get assimilated. 

Closing her eyes, the assistant chief security and tactical officer hoped that would not be the case and they would find an abandoned craft. 

The Arsenal eventually docked and once the airlock was secure, Keli gave the order for her team to go through and step onto Goliath at once. Somehow her technicians were able to open the alien airlock, it looked almost like a Cardassian airlock as two doors rolled away from one another allowing them to enter. 

Everyone moved out, Alpha team first with Beta team bringing up the rear. All of them had gone in wearing full hazard garments. Their torches,  those sitting on the top of their rifles along with their wrists, illuminated their path ahead of them. Straight away the teams found themselves in a long dark corridor with only one door at the other end. The door appeared to be similar in design with the airlock they had just gone through. Again moving swiftly the teams made their way down, checking every nook and cranny before approaching the door. Just like the previous barrier, the door opened easily. It would appear the onboard computer system was not in control of the manual releases, if there was an onboard computer. What awaited them took their breath away.

“Keli to Odyssey, we’ve entered a large area that appears to be…” She paused as she considered her words carefully. “Well a biosphere.”

“Repeat that again, lieutenant.” The captain replied. “Did you say a biosphere? Clarify.” 

“Sir, it’s like a large arboretum here. We are literally standing on the edge of a huge valley with lush grass and a blue sky. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think I was back on Coridan or Earth.” Keli shared. She nodded to one of her teammates to begin taking readings. “We’re taking scans now and will transmit them to you.”

“Understood. Proceed with caution.” McCallister commanded. 

Impressed with their new surroundings, Jisaraa stepped up to Keli with a tricorder in her hand. “We’re not detecting any photonic signatures.” She mentioned.

Taking her own scanner out, Keli agreed with Jisaraa’s assessment. Her tricorder then picked up an unusual power signature ahead of them. “Did anyone else detect that energy spike a few kilometers ahead of us?”

“I saw it.” Jisaraa confirmed. 

A few others shared the same answer, Keli raising her rifle in her right hand and keeping her tricorder in her left, gestured for everyone to spread out and move forward. There was nowhere for them to take a defensive posture so she was not going to have them picked off if they were attacked. 

Eventually they reached the bottom of the valley and found themselves following a small river. Just beyond it the energy spike was detected one more time. Before them, a small collection of rocks sat in the middle of the stream, forcing it to split around it. The energy spike came from them. 

Approaching it with caution, while getting her boots wet, Keli hovered her tricorder over the rocks and noticed straight away they were artificial. Noticing something that didn’t look natural, a small grey lever was sticking out. Checking with everyone first, she pulled on it and to the left of them the ground started to shake as part of the grass was raised by the sudden appearance of a hidden underground path. 

“Hazard Teams to Odyssey, we’ve followed a faint energy spike and discovered what appears to be a secret underground chamber.” Keli reported after tapping her combadge.

“What makes it a secret underground chamber, lieutenant?” The captain questioned, with a slight sense of humour in his tone.

“Well I don’t think anyone wanted to find it, sir. Permission to enter?” Keli asked. 

“Granted, but keep others on guard by the entrance and have them set up transporter enhancers.” McCallister stated. 

“Of course sir, we’ll keep an open channel and share with you what we find.” Keli answered.

“Good luck.” McCallister said.

Ordering her team to set up a guarded position as well as the enhancers, Keli was soon ready to walk down the stairs into another layer of this vessel. Still in their EVA suits, she wasn’t prepared to take any chance. 

Not yet anyway. 

The Chamber of Secrets

Unknown Alien Vessel, Delta-Beta Quadrant Border
Stardate: 76754.86

The spiral staircase they were forced to go down took them into a dark chamber. One step on the deck plate was enough for a sensor to be triggered, instantly making the lights come online and reveal to the team what was down here. 

The chamber was no chamber, it was a long corridor and settled into the walls were alcoves. Within the alcoves startled everyone on Keli’s team. Plugged into the ship’s power system, standing there so silently without realising they had visitors were humanoid children within stasis tubes. Standing perfectly straight up, each tube showed the cold cryogenic chambers had perfectly preserved each child. Ranging in all sorts of ages, Keli went up to one and noticed straight away the alien looked almost human in appearance. If she hadn’t known better he looked like a teenager, almost sixteen or seventeen or maybe eighteen. She couldn’t be precise. Wearing only a skimpy looking pair of grey shorts, he had what appeared to be a cortical monitor attached to the side of his forehead. Several lights pulsed slowly, almost in a heartbeat rhythmic fashion. Though he was young and appeared to have an almost defined muscular physique, there was a sense of fragility in his appearance too. His expression appeared to etch his innocence. Looking at the tube next to him, a similar boy in a similar state stood. He looked a bit younger but had similar features like the first one. Brother perhaps? Keli wondered.   

Tapping her combadge, she called the captain and informed him of what they had found. 

“Standby lieutenant, I’m preparing to send a medical team over with Commander Duncan and others.” McCallister responded.

“Understood sir. We’re going to set up more transporter enhancers, but tell them that EVA suits are not required. Life support and environmental controls appear to be working.” Keli shared as she took off her helmet after doing more checks to ensure her and everyone else’s safety.

Several moments later and Commander Duncan materialised along with Doctor Slyvexs and a group of her colleagues from sickbay. 

Duncan walked over and conferred with the lieutenant about what they had found. 

“Are they all children?” Duncan asked as he looked at the first young man she had encountered.

“From what we can tell, so far yes.” Keli answered as she observed the Denobulan doctor scan everyone in the first section. 

“All of them appeared to be in a good state, health wise.” Slyvexs commented on. She looked at the first officer. “Commander, I suggest we scan each stasis tube to determine everyone’s health status.”

“And counting how many there are.” Keli suggested. 

Agreeing with both of them, Duncan nodded for them to proceed before he called back to the Odyssey. “Duncan to Odyssey.”

“Go ahead Number One.” McCallister answered. “How’s it going over there?”

“Slyvexs has determined the first group of youngsters that Lieutenant Keli has found are well, we’re going ahead in checking the others and determining how many there are here.” Duncan stated as he looked around at the other. “However, sir, now we have our secured footprint here I’d like us to bring over more teams to explore the ship further, perhaps have Commander Hunsen come over with an engineering team too.”

“I anticipated your request, Number One and I’m prepared to send over automated search drones to assist with the searching of that ship.” McCallister announced. “We’ll prepare more teams and have them board the ship via shuttles and runabouts at other ports.”

“Very good, sir.” Duncan answered back. He looked back at the young man he had originally set his eyes on. “That said sir, I’d like to see if we can find out more information about these children. Who left them here, why are they here, who are they. Could Lukiz come over and assist with accessing their records?”

“Absolutely. I’ll send over Tomaz, Samris and Flemen too to assist. Odyssey out.” 

The questions about these children continued to pique the commander’s curiosity further. Keli approached him. 

“I can’t help but wonder who would send their children out into deep space and leave them like this?” Kelis pondered. “Could they be the last hope of a fallen civilisation? Or are they here out of choice?”

“Too many questions to ask, lieutenant.” Duncan said, agreeing with her line of thought. “We certainly could do with more help to determine those answers.”

“Indeed.” She said, looking at the young man again and appearing quite saddened about the situation. 

Elsewhere, Doctor Slyvexs continued with her investigation with others from her team and some of the Hazard Team members. “That’s almost one hundred and sixty two children so far.” She stated.

“I can’t believe the diversity of ages either.” mentioned Lieutenant Jisaraa. “From babies, to toddlers to children to teenagers. What is this place?”

All of a sudden and out of the blue a holographic being fizzled into life before them. A tall humanoid woman with long blonde hair that draped over either of her shoulders stood before them. Wearing what appeared to be a long blue robe, the hologram came to life and began sharing a pre-recorded message. “Hello, if you are seeing me then you and any of your companions have said a series of words that have activated my program. Welcome aboard the Quirennal, one of the last remaining colony ships of my people. If you have discovered the underground chambers, I ask that you show the utmost respect for the mission of this ship and preserve our children. My people are a dying race and it is more than likely we no longer exist. To ensure we survive we have sent many of our young out into space in the hope they will be found by others who will be kind enough to raise them and protect them.”

She then appeared to pause. Reeling from the shock of the program that came out of nowhere, Slyvexs called for Duncan to quickly join her.

The first officer jogged quickly along with Keli to the doctor’s position and was impressed to find the holographic being standing still before them. Slyvexs repeated what they had heard before Duncan approached the hologram. Looking at it, he wondered if it could interact with him. 

“Hello?” He said to it.

Unfreezing the hologram looked at him. “Hello.” She said with a smile. 

“Who are you?” Duncan asked.

“I am an isomorphic projection of Captain Jystar, mother of Jorgeh and Wylem. I was the mission commander of the Quirennal, however I have created this interactive photonic matrix to allow those who visit this ship to understand what has happened and to listen to my request.” Jystar answered. “Please state your identity.”

“I am Commander Max Duncan of the Federation starship U-S-S Odyssey.” Duncan said. “Is your request for others to look after your children?” 

Nodding slowly a few times, Jystar answered him. “It is. Our children are our only hope to ensure our species survive and continue to exist. From the ship’s records, I have determined that you are the first to board our vessel. Will you fulfil my request?”

Looking at Slyvexs and then back to the advanced hologram, Duncan hesitated at first. “I think we need to have more questions answered first before we make a final decision about it.”

“Very well, I have full control of the ship which includes access to its vast database. Please ask your question.” Jystar said. 

Forced Parenthood

USS Odyssey NCC-80000, Gradin Belt, Delta-Beta Quadrants Border
Stardate: 76755.1

“Captain’s log stardate seven-six-seven-five-five point one. I’ve decided to go forward in understanding more about Captain Jystar’s unusual request. I’ve sent over multiple teams to explore the Quirennal and to get us more information. Doctor Sylvexs and Commander Hunsen have led our efforts in understanding how the stasis chambers work and the status of their occupants further. Before I beam over, I’m dealing with a small personnel matter.”

“Are you sure about this?” McCallister asked, looking at his wife from behind his desk in the ready room.  

Reyas, who was sitting in one of the arm chairs on the opposite side, looked over the top of the PADD she had in her hands and almost glared at her husband. “It was your idea in the first place, James.”

“Yeah, I know that.” McCallister replied. “You took the idea further though.”

“As I said before, if he is serious then this would prove it. Plus we’re over thirty-thousand light years from Earth. You have the authority to do this.” Reyas encouraged. “I don’t think he’ll go with it. He may ask to go away and think about it.”

Before McCallister could come back with anything the door chime went off and he sat up straight in his chair almost automatically. “Come in.” He replied. 

Turning around, Reyas smiled as the door swooshed open revealing their guest. Stepping in gradually, looking nervous at the two people who were waiting for him, Alfie (their son) looked at both of his parents. “You wanted to see me?”

“Alfie, calm down, you’re not in trouble.” Reyas said, assuring her middle-child. “Come join your father and I over here.” She gestured to the other armchair next to her. 

Breathing out, Alfie walked across the room and took his seat. “Am I in trouble?”

Chuckling at how nervous their son was being, McCallister shook his head. “Far from it Alf,” he said. “Your mother and I have been discussing what you shared with me on the Holmes and we’ve got a propositional for you.”

“Well, actually your father officially has. I can’t do it as I’m not a captain.” Reyas corrected him with. 

McCallister shot her a look and then glanced back at his son. “Alfie, you said you were interested in joining Starfleet, is this still true?”

“Yeah.” The teenage lad said in a slow tone, sounding a bit unsure of where his parents were going with this line of questioning. 

“Well we’ve discussed it and I’ve also spoken to Commander Duncan and Senior Chief Court and we’d like to help you with that aspiration.” McCallister stated. “Obviously your school grades need to remain as good as they are, but there is something else we can help you out with.”

“And I’d like to point out that your schooling is important.” Reyas interjected with. 

Nodding to show he understood that point. “I know, that’s one thing you’ve stated to all three of us since day dot.”

“Good,” McCallister said to his son, proud to hear he saw the importance of his education. “Then Alfie, I’d like to offer you the chance to see if Starfleet is something you truly want to be a part of. So with that, I am prepared to make you an acting ensign.”

If Alfie’s eyes could pop out of their sockets, they would have from his reaction to the offer from his father. “Dad, are you serious?”

“Absolutely.” He answered. “As captain of the Odyssey, I have the authority to grant such positions, but there’s one additional add-on. You take the next two months to get to know this ship and you then make a decision if you carry on with your training. Plus you understand that just because your parents and your godfather are senior members, it does not grant you the freedom to abuse this position. Your training will be extensive and you won’t get any special treatment because of who you are. Is that clear?”

“Crystal clear,” Alfie said with the biggest grin on his face, “sir.” He added at the end. 

“Computer,” McCallister said, “update the crew manifest to reflect that Alfie Thomas McCallister-Reyas is made an acting Ensign with the duties and privileges of that rank as of this stardate.”

“Manifest updated.” The computer replied with a couple of beeps.

Standing up and turning over to the replicator, McCallister tapped a few commands into the console above it. The replicator then came to life and it created a Starfleet standard duty uniform. Though instead of the usual red, gold or teal coloured top, this one was charcoal grey. Handing it over to Alfie, McCallister smiled further with pride. “Just don’t tell your brothers yet until we get home for dinner tonight.” He said. 

“Consider that your first order, Acting Ensign McCallister-Reyas.” Reyas said with a similar smile like her husband’s. 

“Understood, ma’am,” Alfie said looking at his mother as he took the uniform and then at his dad, “sir.”


Chuckling to one another as they went through the main staging area that their Hazard teams had secured over three hours ago, Captain McCallister felt his mood change as he and his wife entered the large underground chamber that Kelis had discovered. The sight of seeing so many stasis tubes active and filled with youngsters was chilling for the two parents. 

With a phaser strapped to their hips along with a tricorder, no-one was taking any chances even though the hologram that was controlling the alien ship had assured them there was no cause for concern and that they were safe. Pleased to see the chamber was busy with his crew, McCallister had noted that a good number of the crew were now on the Quirennal then on the Odyssey. Numerous teams were exploring the large ancient ship while others were working on understanding the systems that looked after the stasis tubes. Thankfully, before leaving the Odyssey, the captain had activated the rest of his holographic crew to supplement those who were not on duty and were now where he was. Though the only hologram he had not re-activated was Penelope, she was undergoing a diagnostic on her matrix but the ECH would be brought back online before they returned to the ship. Nevertheless, he had left command of the ship under the command of Lieutenant Commander T’Rrani. 

Being approached by his first officer, chief medical officer and chief operations officer, McCallister stopped as did Reyas. “Report.” He asked the three of them as they all stopped in their tracks. 

“Welcome aboard, sir.” Duncan said, greeting his superior. “We’ve got some good news and bad news.”

Not too happy to hear that phrase, McCallister gestured for Duncan to share more. “Explain, Number One. I thought I was meant to be meeting with Captain Jystar.”

“She’s in the next room with Tremt, Samris and Flemen.” Duncan stated. “Before you go in, you should know what we’ve discovered.” He turned to the Trill officer. “Lukiz, you want to start.”

Nodding in confirmation, “Sir, the stasis tubes are barely functional. It’s no surprise with how long they have been operating but by our estimates what tubes are left will fail in around six or seven months.”

“It’s gets worse though,” Slyvexs added. “My scans of those who have survived show they need to leave their stasis tubes sooner rather than later. I have found acute cellular degradation in them all.”

“Can you treat them?” Reyas asked, sounding almost upset at the news. 

“Yes, but they won’t be able to return to their stasis tubes and the longer we leave them in there the harder it will be to treat them all.” Slyvexs said. “We’ve found one-thousand, seven hundred and twenty-one young people. Most of them, from what I can tell, are in their teenage years. There are a few younger children and some very young infants.”

Hearing that news tugged on the heart strings of McCallister. “Does Captain Jystar know this?” He enquired. Duncan had reported that the hologram was a representation of the Quirennal’s captain but she had also introduced herself as mother of two of the children they had found. In fact it had been the two that Keli had found first. 

“Yes,” Slyvexs answered, “but she is unable to access command functions to override the systems to bring the young people out of their stasis cycle. Certain systems are damaged but Tremt is looking into what the repairs would be.”

“Okay, anything else I should know?” McCallister asked. 

“She does seem adamant at wanting to know if we will help her save the children.” Duncan remarked. “I’ve had Samris and Flemen almost double-team up with her to keep her calm and assured we are doing everything to assist but it is taking time for us to understand her systems to make repairs.”

“I take it we can’t just take her program offline to avoid her having an artificial breakdown?” Reyas wondered.

“I’m afraid it’s a little bit more complicated than that, ma’am.” Jen answered. “Though the joke of how many engineers, counsellors and diplomats does it take to change a light-bulb has been shared around a bit.”

McCallister smirked at that and indicated that he wanted to now meet with his photonic counterpart. 

Eventually the group entered the original room where Duncan had first met Captain Jystar. It was a lot brighter than before and Hunsen, along with several of his engineers were either scanning or prodding a range of circuits and panels with various tools. When they all noticed the captain entering, they all stopped and stood to attention.

“At ease everyone, return to your work.” McCallister ordered with a wave of his right hand as he approached Jystar, who was standing in the centre of the room with Counsellor Samris and Lieutenant Flemen. 

Duncan made the introductions. “Captain Jystar, this is Captain James Preston McCallister. Sir, this is Captain Jystar.”

Her projection flickered a bit and Jystar looked at McCallister up and down. “Welcome aboard, captain.”

“Thank you, captain.” McCallister said with a friendly disposition. He went on to introduce his wife, “this is Commander Karyn Reyas, my second officer and chief science officer.”

“As well as your wife.” Jystar added, looking at Reyas in the same fashion she did with McCallsiter only moments ago. “Welcome, commander.”

“Thank you.” Reyas said. “How did you know I was the captain’s wife?” She probed.

“I heard some of your crew mention it as they explored my ship.” She answered flatly. She turned her attention back to McCallister. “Captain, you have had time now to review my request. What is your response in preparing to look after the young people on the Quirennal?”

“I do want to help.” McCallister answered honestly. “Though what I hear from my crew, it will take some time for us to be able to bring them safely out of their stasis tubes and we also need to treat them.”

The holomatrix for Jystar was extremely advanced as she expressed a sense of relief in her facial features. She looked almost human in appearance. “I am grateful, my children will need to be cared for. They will need people to look after them. Parents in fact.”

“We will endeavour to treat them all and help in any way we can, but I must ask where all of their parents are? Your crew must be somewhere?”

Before Jystar could answer, Hunsen, who had his head under a console, popped up and informed everyone that his work looked like it was complete. “Captain Jystar, I think you should be able to access more of your systems.”

With a closure of her eyes, Jystar appeared to do exactly what Hunsen had said. More light was switched on and more humming noise could be heard as more systems were brought back online. “Yes, commander. Thank you.” she said, sounding extremely pleased with what she could access now. “It is taking time for the stasis controls to come online.”

“Jystar, can you answer my question?” Mcallister inquired. “What happened to your crew? The parents of the children left in the tubes?”

“They died.” She answered, sounding glumly at the news. “They gave their lives so their children can survive.”

“That must have been hard for them.” Samris commented. “Why did they sacrifice themselves?”

“The ship had been badly damaged.” Jystar reported, “a decision had to be made about the future of the ship. The crew opted to reconfigure it so that their children would survive in these stasis tubes and when the ship had repaired itself enough they would have somewhere to go.”

“Well that explains the huge arboretum above us.” Flemen said. “They must have constructed it to be a self-contained sustainable environment for them to grow in.”

“That’s exactly what it was.” Jystar confirmed, “My program was created by the original Captain Jystar to oversee the ship’s systems with our maintenance bots. The captain’s neural patterns were downloaded into my program, so I could fulfill the mission to the best of my ability, but something went terribly wrong.” 

“What happened?” Samris asked in a caring tone. 

“The ship received intensifying damage and we weren’t able to maintain every system, so instead of bringing the children out of stasis, I altered their controls so they remained in the tubes.” Jystar explained. 

“It’s understandable.” Slyvexs assured the hologram. 

Nodding in agreement, “Yes and now you’re here you can help raise the children. My mission is complete.”

Surprised to hear that sentence come out of her mouth, everyone looked at each other. McCallister noticed everyone’s reaction and turned back to Jystar. “What do you mean help raise them? We’re happy to assist in saving them but we’ve not agreed to raising them?”

“Captain, are you telling me that you are prepared to leave these children alone on a ship they have no-idea how to operate and maintain?” Jystar asked, her tone becoming agitated and her program flickering. “They need you to look after them. You have over two-thousand adults on board your vessel that could easily do that job.”

“We may have, but that doesn’t mean we can drop everything and become parents overnight.” McCallister stated. “I’m a father already.”

“So you know how important a job this is.” Jystar said, hoping that she was getting through to McCallister. “I cannot allow my two sons to die, knowing I couldn’t do anything for them.”

“We won’t abandon them, but what you’re asking is a lot. We need to seriously consider this before we commit, plus my vessel is far away from our home territory.” McCallister said.

“You won’t need your vessel, you can all live here on the Quirennal.” Jystar informed him. 

“I won’t give up my ship.” McCallister replied. “Plus, as I said, I’m a father myself. I won’t leave my sons behind.”

“Your vessel is more equipped to look after them, my ship needs your crew, here looking after the children.” Jyster’s tone was becoming more and more irritable. She then closed her eyes for a moment. 

“What’s happening? What is she doing?” McCallister asked his crew.

Everyone had their tricorders out, Hunsen was the first to answer. “I’m detecting an increase in power across the entire ship. I think she’s bringing on more systems online.”

“It’s their transporters, sir.” Jen announced. “I’m detecting huge amount of matter transportation taking place above us. It looks like she has directed transporter beams at the ship sir.”

Tapping his combadge instantly, McCallister called the ship. “McCallister to Odyssey. T’Rani raise shields and move away from the Quirennal.”

“I am sorry captain, I cannot comply. I, along with numerous others have been beamed off the ship. I believe we are in the artificially constructed valley on the Quirennal.” reported his helms officer. 

Before he could issue another order, the stasis tubes all started to unlock and their doors raised upwards.

Jystar then opened her eyes, “I’m sorry Captain McCallister, but I cannot wait for you to make a decision on my request. I must insist you and your crew join my ship and save the children.”

Looking at everyone else, McCallister’s hand reached for his phaser as the occupants in the tubes all started to wake up. Pleased he wasn’t alone, everyone else in the room did the same while still operating their tricorders to determine what was going to happen next. 

Let The Children Lead

USS Odyssey NCC-80000, Gradin Belt, Delta-Beta Quadrants Border
Stardate: 76755.1

Lying with his back against his king size bed, Alfie couldn’t believe what had happened with his parents. Looking up at the ceiling in his bedroom, he wondered just how long they had planned this and if they were truly supporting him or testing his resolve to join Starfleet. He had missed meeting up with his friends since the meeting and returned to his quarters instead. Not moping, not confused but just still surprised at the move. It came out of the blue. 

Turning his head to the left side, he looked one more time at the uniform his father had presented him with. Did he truly believe in his son? He hoped so. Staring back at the ceiling, he wondered further how much he would have to deal with as part of his training. Picking up the small rugby ball he had on his bedside cabinet, Alfie started to throw it up in the air and catch it in one hand. He did this when he was distracted or deep in thought. Either way it helped him keep calm. 

His bedroom was of a reasonable size, one of the perks of being the captain’s son meant that the McCallisters enjoyed a huge set of quarters that included their own private cabins for Alfie, his brothers and parents. Unlike Theo or Henri’s rooms, Alfie’s room was a lot tidier and everything was neatly put away and everything had its own place. Two sloped windows currently showed the nebula the ship was in. His large bed sat under one of them while he had a small two seater sofa under the other. In one corner of his room, up against the wall, was a desk and a workstation for him to do his studies. His parents had set up a bookshelf for him to hold on to his favourite books that he had read. Dotted around the room were various photographs of him and his family. A singular door led into a small walk-in wardrobe. Unfortunately he didn’t have an en-suite or a replicator. For those he had to leave his private confines to use either of them. He knew that when he went to the academy, he would not have this luxury lifestyle he was so used to. 

His door chime went off and Alfie looked up immediately from where he was lying and told his visitor to come in. 

The doors slid open revealing his brother Theo standing in the corridor that connected their rooms. “Alf, have you seen mom or dad?”

Shaking his head, deciding not to tell Theo yet about the conversation he had with his folks earlier that day, Alfie answered with a blunt. “No.” He paused for a second, sounding irritated for being disturbed,  and asked, “why?”

Shrugging his shoulders, Theo looked a tad bit worried. “Mom mentioned earlier that we were all having dinner together tonight, dad was meant to be cooking too but neither of them are home yet.”

“I know they were going to visit the alien ship, maybe they were caught over there?” Alfie suggested. He stood up, standing in front of the uniform so his brother couldn’t see it.  

“Yeah, but if that was the case then dad would have sent Uncle Tobi here.” Theo rationalised. 

He was right about that and that had always been the case.

Alfie took matters into his own hands and spoke up. “Computer, locate Captain McCallister.” 

“Captain McCallister is not on board the Odyssey.She replied. 

“Okay, locate Commander Reyas.” Alfie requested next. 

“Commander Reyas is not on board the Odyssey.Came the repeated answer.

Looking at Theo, in an expression that said, told you so, Alfie went on to ask where his godfather was. “Computer, locate Senior Chief Petty Officer Court.” It was rare for their uncle to be off the ship.  

“Senior Chief Petty Officer Court is not on board the Odyssey.” 

Theo looked at Alfie with a bit of concern. “Surely, one of them would have gotten in touch with us.” He remarked to Alfie. 

At that point Henri walked past. “Have you guys seen mom or dad?” He asked as he stopped at the doorway. His question received identical eye-rolling from his brothers for being so delayed in their conversation.

“No and we’ve not heard from Uncle Tobi either.” Theo shared. 

Alfie, feeling a bit anxious to where everyone was, carried on interrogating the computer. “Computer, where did Captain McCallister, Commander Reyas and Senior Chief Petty Officer Court go before departing the Odyssey?”

Before he got a response the entire ship went to red alert and the computer spoke up across the ship’s intercom. “Attention, all hands: a ship-wide state of emergency has been automatically declared. Reported officers are not present. All available hands to duty stations. Civilians should report to their quarters for safety precautions. Fully automated systems are now in effect.” 

All three McCallister boys looked at one another, confused at that announcement. Deciding to repeat his question, Alfie spoke to the computer again.  “Computer, where did Captain McCallister, Commander Reyas and Senior Chief Petty Officer Court go before departing the Odyssey?”

“Their last known reported destination was to the Quirennal.

Before Alfie or either of his brothers could say anything the intercom went off and an unfamiliar noise and then a voice followed. The voice sounded almost robotic, compared to the smooth female voice usually reserved for the computer . “Cetacean Ops to Acting Ensign McCallister.” 

Confused by the call, Henry and Theo looked at one another and then at Alfie, who went almost red as if he had been caught doing something terrible. He stood to one side, revealing the uniform sat next to his bed.  

“Acting Ensign McCallster?” Theo repeated. “Is there something you want to tell us, Alf?”

“Did dad promote you without telling us? Was that why they wanted us all home tonight?” Henri asked. 

The call went off again. “Cetacean Ops to Acting Ensign McCallister, please respond.”

Holding up his right hand to his brothers, telling them to wait, Alfie turned around and picked up the combadge his dad had given him. Tapping it he answered the call. “Go ahead.”

More whining followed before the same robotic voice answered. “This is Petty Officer Ramman’ker, what is your present location?”

“My quarters. Why?” Alfie answered, wondering why the senior member of the Xindi-Aquatic think tank in Cetacean Ops was calling him. 

“You’re needed on the bridge.” Ramman’ker answered.

“How come?” Alfie asked, a sense of anxiety crossed him after hearing that. 

“It would appear every single humanoid crewmember who is an adult has been transported off the ship. We need to secure the vessel and you’re the only member of the active crew roster who hasn’t been kidnapped who can do the job.” Ramman’ker explained. 

Surprised further by the revelation, Alfie looked at his brothers before he replied. “Understood, but I was only made an acting ensign a couple of hours ago. Surely, there must be someone else?”

“Unfortunately ensign, there isn’t. The computer has stated you are the only remaining person left who can undertake what is needed, unless I am able to flood the bridge and transport the entire cetacean ops team up to deck one. I can’t see your father liking that idea. We can’t fully control the ship from here and we’ve got a lot of young people that will need to be looked after too. If you can get to the bridge, I believe I can talk you through the procedure for the ship to recognise the need for us to activate the Emergency Command Hologram. From there Penelope can take over.” Ramman’ker stated. 

“Understood, I’ll be there shortly. McCallister out.” He tapped his combadge and closed the channel. Glancing back at his brothers, Alfie took a hard swallow. “I know you’ve got a load of questions you want to ask but-”

“But don’t worry about it for now Alf.” Henri assured him. It was clear the current situation needed them to put aside their annoyance of Alfie’s news to one side and work together. “If what he said is true then there’s going to be loads of younger children on board the Odyssey who are frightened without their parents around.”

“Exactly.” Theo said. “We should talk to our friends and see if we can gather all of the younger kids in certain safe areas on the ship. Like the Auditorium, the schools and maybe the holodecks. I know it goes against what the computer instructed but at least we would know where everyone is.”

“Good idea.” Henri agreed looking at Theo and then back to Alfie. Noticing Alfie was looking a bit worried. “Alf, you need to stick that uniform on and get yourself up to deck one now.”

Sighing heavily, Alfie knew he couldn’t let anyone down and it would be exactly what his parents would want him to do. “Yeah, I know.” He said as he picked it up and started to get changed. 

Moments later, he walked into the shared living room area where both Henri and Theo were standing talking about their plans. Both of them paused and saw their brother wearing his acting ensign uniform. Almost like the cadet variation of the officer’s duty uniform. 

“It suits you, Alfie.” Henri said with a proud smile. 

“Mom and dad are going to kill you for not letting them be around to see you in it for the first time!” Theo joked. 

Ignoring the comments, Alfie walked over to them and handed them both a combadge each. “I’ve replicated these for us to remain in touch.” He said. “Let me know how you get on.”

“Likewise.” Henri said before Alfie left them and made his way up to the bridge. 

A few minutes later Alfie walked off of the turbolift to a deserted bridge. The only life was the odd beep here and there. Before he had a chance to take more than two steps, the holographic representation of Ramman’ker appeared. It was odd to see a Xindi floating in mid-air on the bridge. 

“Ensign, are you ready?” Ramman’ker inquired. 

Stuttering slightly, Alfie answered with an affirmative as he walked down towards where his father’s chair was. “What did I do?”

“Tell the computer you are reporting for duty.” Ramman’ker advised. “As you’re not logging into a particular station, announcing it will help with the situation. I’m hoping between you and those of us who are left in cetacean ops, we can work out what has happened.”

Clearing his throat, Alfie spoke up. “Computer, this is Acting Ensign Alfie McCallister-Reyas, reporting for duty.”


“So far, so good.” croaked Ramman’ker’s robotic translation. “Next, we’re going to see if we can use the declared emergency as a way to activate the ECH.”

“Doesn’t that require someone with level nine clearance?” Alfie tested the floating Xindi.

“It does,” Ramman’ker replied. “But I am hoping some simple logic may force the computer to use its automated features to bring Penelope’s program online. It may not work, but it’s worth a try.”

“How do I force logic on to the computer then?” Alfie wondered, he was hoping he wouldn’t get into much trouble. 

“Through a series of questions that would force the computer to realise the command structure has fallen apart and no-one is able to assume command, besides only those of us in cetacean ops and…well you. The computer has ethical subroutines as well that would force it to realise that those of us who are here can’t survive without the others in post. So in theory, the think tank believes we can force the computer to override the security clearance and bring Penelope online.” Ramman’ker explained. “Ready?”

“Yeah, I suppose.” Alfie said, shaking his shoulders as he psyched himself up. 

After giving examples of what to say to the computer, Alfie took in everything that Ramman’ker had told him. Clearing his throat, the young acting ensign spoke up. “Computer, with the current ship-wide emergency declared and the absence of key senior staff personnel, who would be the logical choice to assume command of the Odyssey in place of Captain McCallister?”

The computer beeped a few times and made a noise that sounded like it was unable to process the question. “Current officers that have reported for duty are either not qualified or experienced to assume said duties.”

“Then is it logical for you to activate the Emergency Command Holographic program in such circumstances to restore an effective chain of command for the ship?” Alfie challenged. 

“Activating the Emergency Command Holographic program requires a level nine clearance authorisation code.” The computer stated.

“And who is currently on board the Odyssey during its ship-wide emergency that can do this?” Alfie asked, sounding quite frustrated that his previous question didn’t do it. 

“There is currently no-one able to activate the E-C-H.”

Looking at Ramman’ker, annoyed that the computer had stated something it should already know, Alfie carried on.  “Then using emergency protocols, where the safety of those who remain on the Odyssey are in danger without a proper chain of command in place to ensure the ship’s survival, I ask you to ethically and logically activate the Emergency Command Holographic program on this premise.” 

“Working.” The computer replied with. A few beeps later, the computer spoke up again. “Request confirmed. Emergency protocols engaged. Chance for survival without the activation of the E-C-H estimated at twenty-one percent. Activating Emergency Command Holographic Program will ensure a higher rate of the current crew remaining alive. Activating the Emergency Command Holographic Program now.”

Penelope’s holographic representation came to life as she fizzled before Alfie. Stood there with a big grin on his face, Alfie was somewhat proud with himself at how he bypassed the ship’s security systems. He knew if the ship-wide emergency hadn’t been active and the fact there was no-one else on board, he wouldn’t have got away with such a thing. 

“Please state the nature of the command requirement.” Penelope said with a smile as she looked around the bridge and her eyes eventually fell on Alfie and the holographic representation of Ramman’ker. 

“All command codes have been transferred to the E-C-H, emergency protocols remain in effect.” The computer announced with a beep following. 

Looking confused as to the lack of officers, Penelope recognised Captain McCallister’s son. Her database updated with the latest crew roster changes. “Acting Ensign McCallister, where is everyone? Where is your father?”

Taking a deep breath in, Alfie explained what he knew to her with Ramman’ker aiding further detail where it was necessary. He only hoped they could find a way to rescue those who had been taken before they would need to send a distress call to Starfleet. He felt absolutely useless, he didn’t know how to fly a starship or deal with any of this. He was only a kid. If his parents wanted to test his resolve now about wanting to join Starfleet, he certainly found himself questioning it himself. 

Planning About Planning To Escape

Stardate: 76755.3

“This is crazy.” Slyvexs remarked under her breath as she continued with her medical scans of the children and young people that had just come out of stasis. 

“Doctor, your continued sharing of your frustration is not going to change my mind or your situation.” Stated Captain Jyster, her irritation of the doctor’s constant barrage of comments was evident in her tone. “You and your crew are now safe on my ship and will care for my children. Please continue with the treatment regime as previously shared..”

Biting her bottom lip, Slyvexs said nothing and carried on with her medical team around her. All of them had been transported to what was called the hospital area. At least three levels high with numerous wards, their patients were all of the young people that they had rescued from the stasis tubes. Barely speaking to their new guardians, the young people kept to themselves after receiving instructions from Captain Jyster to cooperate with the Odyssey crew. It was the job now of Doctor Slyvexs and her team to treat them all from their cellular degeneration. Once they were done they would be returned to the rest of the crew. 

Moving on to her next patient, the Denobulan doctor recognised who the young man was. It was the first youngster  they had found in stasis and Captain Jyster had stated that he was her son. “Jorgeh, isn’t it?” She asked as she raised her tricorder. 

The young man just nodded. 

“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Slyvexs said, “I’m Doctor Slyvexs and I promise we are not here to harm you.” Looking at her tricorder her smile grew further. “You’re responding well to the treatment we’ve provided. That’s good.”

He said nothing. 

Looking behind him, she noticed his brother sitting behind him. “Wylem, I’ll be with you shortly.” She said, trying to gain their trust by being nice. Looking back to Jorgeh, Slyvexs spoke more. “You both look alike, you can see your brothers.”

Returning the compliment with a smile, the teenage alien humanoid looked at Slyvexs appearing more at ease than a second ago. “Thanks.” Jorgeh answered weakly.

“You’re lucky, I don’t resemble any of my brothers.” Slyvexs said as she completed her scan.

“How many brothers do you have?” Wylem asked as he got closer to his brother and the doctor. 

“I had twelve, but sadly four of them are no longer with us.” Sylvexs answered as she started to scan the younger brother. “I also have eight sisters and many children and grandchildren myself.”

“Really?” Jorgeh questioned. “You don’t seem old enough to be a grandmother!”

Chuckling a bit at that compliment, Slyvexs appreciated it. “Thank you Jorgeh, that’s very sweet of you.” She finished her scan of Wylem. “You’re both are perfectly well now. The treatment my team has given you has done its job.”

“Thank you.” Jorgeh said. 

“You’re welcome.” Slyvexs said as she moved on from the two teenagers to the next group besides them. Looking back at the two boys who were related to Captain Jyster, she wondered just how much they understood what was going on. Not wanting to hear another telling off, she returned to her work and was certain she would find Captain McCallister and the others to catch them up on what she had found. 

Sitting or standing around an outdoor table under some trees, in what was known as the valley on the Quirennal, the rest of the senior crew were all discussing their current dilemma. After Jyster had beamed the rest of the adult population over from the Odyssey, she had forced everyone into the valley as precaution to stop them from trying to take over the ship.

Anger filled the veins of Captain McCallister. He had found this alien ark, he had been the one wanting to investigate it, he had been the one wanting them to help them. His generosity had been abused and taken for granted. His mood was apparent with everyone else and they all shared his sentiments. 

Walking across the large field they found themselves currently in were Lieutenant Commander T’Rani and Counsellor Samris. The Vulcan pilot and Romulan counsellor had returned from the nearby lake. 

“They are all fine.” T’Rani mentioned as she approached the group and sat down on one of the benches. “Lieutenant Commander Quendez reports he has not seen any other members of the cetacean ops team besides Lieutenant Artir and those who are humanoid based.”

“The think tank may be our only hope in getting outside help.” Samris referred to the Xindi-Aquatics that served the Odyssey. He didn’t include the others, including the pair of beluga whales brothers and the group of bottlenose dolphins. “That’s if they can get control of the ship.”

McCallister appreciated their input and nodded to show this. “Okay, I’m not sure where we go with this. Ideas people?” He asked those surrounding him. 

“Captain Jystar does have, what an old academy instructor of mine would call, the home advantage here.” Lieutenant Tomaz stated. He was sitting on a bench opposite to the captain with Flemen beside him. “She has full access to every system and the technology she has is pretty impressive too. That said, we do outnumber her.”

“Tomaz is right, the level of technological advancement we’ve seen so far places her just above our understanding.” Jen added, he was standing behind the captain. The ops manager continued to share his assessment. “For one instance the transportation is almost similar to the translocator technology used by the Nyrians that Voyager encountered in its third year here in the Delta Quadrant.”

“Lukiz and I believe it’s how she was able to transport everyone off the ship through the shields and grab everyone in one go.” Hunsen backed up Jen’s claims. “And from what we can tell some of this natural environment uses a form of particle synthesis all of which is powered by a thermionic generator.”

“So I take it that whatever type of rescue mission we may want to hope for from Odyssey we need to be able to help them to level the playing field.” Reyas said from where she was sitting next to her husband. 

“I would hate to find out what type of weaponry this ship has.” Lenjir said from where he was sitting. 

“There’s no way even Odyssey could take on the Quirennal.” Tomaz remarked.

“Why are we expecting a full blown confrontation?” Duncan questioned them all. “I mean, is there no way we could find a diplomatic solution here?” 

“I was going to suggest the same thing.” Flemen commented. “I know we’re being held against our will but Captain Jystar’s demands are so far nothing too harsh for us to work on.”

“That’s easier said than done, especially when your own children have been left behind.” Reyas said, sounding almost frustrated. It was apparent she and others who were parents on Odyssey were highly concerned for the children that were now on the ship without any adult supervision. 

“Have faith Karyn,” Court responded. The senior enlisted man had been sitting next to Commander Duncan on a bench besides the captain and chief science officer. “Knowing your sons, I reckon they’re rallying the teenagers left behind to look after the much younger ones. Alongside that before we left most of the holographic crew were operational.”

“You’re right Tobi,” Reyas replied. “I just don’t feel comfortable knowing we’ve left a huge piece of Federation hardware in the hands of a bunch of teenagers. God knows what they’re up to.”

“Let’s go back to Max and Craigen’s ideas about a diplomatic solution.” McCallister said, trying to re-assert some control over the discussion. “Gentlemen, your thoughts?”

Duncan inclined for Flemen to resume first. The diplomatic officer took the cue and spoke up. “Captain Jystar wants us to remain here on the Quirennal to care for her children and young people that Slyvexs is treating right now. What if we can find another solution where we are allowed to return to the ship and these young people are cared for?”

“Have our cake and eat it too.” Duncan included. “My thoughts as well. We need to understand how she envisions us caring for them. I’m assuming she wants us to take on some sort of guardian role, but we need to know how that would work. Is she going to group us off with her children or is it just meant to let them roam free of this ship and check in with them every so often?”

“Given the fact that the hologram of Jystar is based on the original flesh and blood version, I’d say she would want the former. Her actions portray that she is taking these decisions as a mother.” Samris contributed. “If that’s the case then we may have a way in to begin negotiations. Appeal to the parent side of her program”

Turning to her husband, Reyas spoke up. “We should try talking to her, parent to parent. Perhaps bring in Slyvexs as well.”

“You three are probably the most logical choices to open such a rapport.” T’Rani stated.     

 McCallister considered the idea and scratched his chin. “It’s one possibility, any others?”

“We need to understand what we can and can’t do while here in the valley, sir.” Lenjir stated. “Let me use the hazard teams to scout the area and understand what our boundaries are.”

“Sounds good.” McCallister agreed with his security chief. “We still need to understand what technology we are up against.” He looked to his chief engineer, chief operations officer and chief strategic operations officer. “Trent, Lukiz and Tomaz, I want you three to take the lead on that and use every one from your departments to do that. They’ll have to use the old fashioned way of making assessments just with their eyes and hands.”

Tomaz, Jen and Hunsen all looked at one another and nodded in agreement. 

“In the meantime we also need to deal with the crew’s morale.” Duncan stated. “Those who are parents are going to be feeling the same amount of powerlessness and concern over the state of their children.”

“With the rest of my team, I believe I can deal with that, sir.” Samris offered. 

“Make it so,” McCallister instructed. “I want everyone to know we are not giving up hope and we will find a way to get home.”

“Captain, I’d like to offer my services to determine how Captain Jyster plans to provide essential services to us, like food and shelter.” T’Rani proposed. “Also making sure the crew are confident in their survival training would aid us as well.”

“Then that’s all of yours to manage, T’Rani.” McCallister said. “Max, Craigen, Tobi, I want you all to come with me and Karyn to see if we can open some sort of diplomatic channels with Captain Jyster.” All of them nodded in agreement, “Let’s reconvene here in two hours and see what progress we can make.”

The group all agreed to the plan and got up to get on with working a way to get themselves back to the Odyssey. 

Achieving Something

Stardate: 76755.35

McCallister had thought he had done it all as a starship captain. He had fought powerful foes, made contact with a range of new and known species, helped saved thousands (if not millions) of lives and had explored thousands of light years of uncharted space. Negotiating with a hologram that was holding him and a majority of his crew against their will was certainly a new chapter in his career. 

After finding Slyvexs, he led his team to find Captain Jystar’s isomorphic projection to work on a way forward with their situation. Within the area that was setup as the Quirennal’s designated main medical area, McCallister stood with the others in what appeared to be a courtyard. Plants, bushes and trees surrounded the small resting area which had an elaborate water fountain in the centre of it.  Jystar had agreed to meet with them after McCallister had pleaded with her to be reasonable from one parent to another. The photonic being had agreed and now they were making their case.

“The children of the Quirennal need to be cared for. It’s that simple.” Jyster had been repeating the same point over and over again, each time the variation on words changed but the main point got across. She was adamant that now the young people had been treated and she knew they couldn’t return to their stasis chambers, they would be looked after one another.

“We’re not denying that fact.” Lieutenant Flemen had offered back. The Lumerian diplomatic officer was remaining calm, but a slight tense tone of irritation was present in his words. “We are just saying, why can’t we find a way where it does not involve you keeping all of our crew on the Quirennal against their wishes?”

“I have no choice.” Jyster stated. “If you all leave then I cannot be certain whether you will abandon my children entirely or not.”

“And by keeping us locked up here, like slaves to your cause, then you must see that you won’t be providing your children and young people with the best care. Our people will come to resent what is being forced upon them.” Commander Duncan said. He was now having a stab at diplomacy along with a bit of counselling at the same time. “Our people will struggle to find the confidence to do what you ask of them in a way that won’t adversely transfer over and affect the development of your young people. They will eventually notice the resentment and this will cause upset and tension between our people and yours. And then what will happen once all of them are grown up?”

“I’ll say it again, but you are keeping a good number of us, who are parents, away from our own children on the Odyssey.” Reyas added to Duncan’s bombardment. Their plan had to overload the hologram with so many points to consider. “Even with Odyssey’s automated system there is no way those children can be cared for by a computer and left by themselves. How can you carry the memories of a mother who sacrificed so much and not think that history is repeating itself here?”

“I am sorry, commander, but I need you all.” Jystar answered. “I do not understand what the issue is here, you are on board a ship that is more powerful than yours and now you have the freedom to not worry about maintaining a ship, all I ask is you raise our young people.”

Sighing heavily, as he felt they were going back around in circles, again, McCallister stood up from the bench he had been perched on. “Captain Jyster, I think if you explain to us how you envision us carrying out this task then we might begin to understand what you require of us.” He stated. Everyone looked at McCallister, all of them sharing similar expressions of concern. The way he had just spoken sounded like he was giving in and accepting what was being imposed on them. Raising his left hand to indicate to them all to pause, the captain stood up and walked over to where the isomorphic projection was standing. Jyster’s matrix flickered several times before he spoke up. “If you are forthcoming about your plans then I will be willing to speak to my crew about what more we can do to help you.”

Appearing to like the sound of that, Jyster nodded in approval. Ignoring the looks from the others, she approached her counterpart. “Captain, that is a good place for us to build upon.” She looked at the others. “While your doctor was treating my sick youngsters, I was compiling an assessment on everyone present and determining who would be apparent good carers for those who require it.”

“Can you elaborate further by what you mean with these assessments?” Doctor Slyvexs said as she crossed her arms against her chest. The Denobulan doctor looked exhausted from the nonstop work she had endured in treating over a thousand people in a small amount of time. “How have you come to these decisions? You barely know us. What makes you a good judge on our characters? We could all be bad parents!”

“By reviewing your interactions and behaviour since boarding my ship, I have begun to compile a list of suitable candidates for each child and youngster.” Jyster replied before looking straight at Odyssey’s first officer. “For example, Commander Duncan, you and your partner Senior Chief Court, I believe would be suitable candidates for carers for my sons Jorgeh and Wylem.” 

Duncan and Court looked at one another, a sense of embarrassment appeared across their expressions and both Reyas and Slyvexs, who were not aware of their relationship, looked confused at Jyster’s remark. The captain and Lieutenant Flemen had kept their poker faces intact. Reyas looked at her husband for answers and he just shook his head subtly, indicating not for her to ask him for more information about Duncan and Court. 

“And what makes us suitable candidates?” Court tested the hologram, it was obvious he was annoyed that Jyster had determined they were together. 

Stepping forward towards them, Jyster looked at them. “You’re both madly in love with one another. When you’re both around one another, sensors detect elevated hormonal levels, increased heart rates…” she paused. “So unless you’re having a medical reaction to something else then I am certain you both are together. As such, I believe you both have the energy and passion that you can also use when caring for my sons. You both have a wide set of experiences and knowledge that means you would be able to cope with raising them. Senior Chief Court, you yourself are what I believe is known as a ‘godparent’ in your culture to the captain’s sons of a similar age. You would only formalise that role more with caring for your own now. I am certain both Jorgeh and Wylem, in time, will develop a strong attachment you both.”

“How do you know what we know and have experienced?” Duncan questioned, he was mad at having to ask that. 

“After Commander Hunsen and Lieutenant Commander Jen were able to give me access to more shipwide systems, I was able to interface with your own computer briefly and download your ship’s roster and personnel files.”

“That’s a hostile act in itself.” Slyvexs stated without hesitation. “How can we trust you if you are spying on us?”

“My programme gives me the authority to take whatever measures are necessary to look after our young people. That includes using the technology the Quirennal has to offer to make the best informed decision.” Jyster answered. 

Raising his hands in the air, Captain McCallister stepped. “Okay, this going back and forth is not helping anyone.” He looked at Jyster as her program glinted again. “We need a compromise as time is not on our side. As Commander Reyas said, we have members of our crew you’ve taken that have young children back on Odyssey who need their parents to depend on. Again, I’ll ask the same question that Karyn posed to you. Can you truly say that you cannot see that you are creating the same situation there that has bestown the ship and its crew? From one parent to another, how can you be okay with that?”

Flickering more, Jyster appeared to consider McCallister’s point and then looked back at him. “Are you asking me to return those who have younger children and infants to your ship to care for them?” Jyster said. “Meaning the rest must remain here.”

“Yes.” McCallister answered back quickly. 

“James, you can’t be serious!” Reyas spoke up as she came closer to her husband’s side.

“Sir, don’t!” Duncan said at the same time as McCallister’s wife. Duncan stood closer to his superior as well. 

Looking back at his wife and first officer, McCallister gave them a glance to quiet them both down. “I know what I’m doing.” He looked back at Jyster. “If the rest of us remain, we will seriously look at this situation with you and find a workable solution. Do we have an agreement?”

“No-one who returns can work on saving you.” Jyster stated.

“Alone, the Odyssey is no match for the Quirennal.” McCallister said, still holding his ground with Jyster. 

Closing her eyes, she appeared to be accessing more data and after a few seconds she opened her eyes again. “From your own files, you’ll be sending back just over four hundred members of your crew.”

“And the rest of us will stay to deal with this matter in a fair way for all. Do we have an agreement, Captain Jyster?” McCallister was insisting with his tone of voice and body language. 

“Agreed.” Jyster closed her eyes, “with one extra add on.”

Exhaling out hard, McCallister told Jyster to name it.

“One person from your crew returns to ensure that no-one attempts to break this agreement we’ve made.” Jyster stated. “And I want it to be Lieutenant Flemen.”

Everyone looked at the diplomatic officer, who appeared surprised by that remark. “Me?” He questioned by pointing to himself. “Why?”

“You’re the only member of the captain’s senior staff who I believe does not have the experience or ability to properly mount a decent rescue plan plus it’s in your nature to accept the diplomatic agreement we’ve made today.” Jyster said bluntly. “Alongside that lieutenant, besides your empathic abilities, I do not believe you would be an appropriate father to any of my children.”

Looking ashamed and hurt by those words, Flemen took a step back. He was comforted by Tomaz straight away who placed his hand on the back of his colleague’s shoulders and whispered the words, “Don’t listen to her.”

“Is this acceptable captain?” Jyster stated to McCallister. “You must order the lieutenant to return and honour what we’ve said here.”

McCallister took in a breath, once again another big one and turned to his diplomatic officer. “Craigen, return to the ship with the others and assume command. Tell Alfie, Henri and Theo that they’ll need to find their own league now, but I love them just as much as everyone else in the family does. Do you understand me?”

Flemen looked at Jyster then to McCallister after being consoled by Tomaz. Nodding a couple of times, the lieutenant spoke up. “I do, sir.”

McCallister turned back to Jyster. “Are we done here for now?”

Jyster agreed and closed her eyes again, her program fizzing slightly and within a few more seconds Flemen disappeared under the glow of a purple hue as he was transported off the ship. “It’s done.” Jyster said. Still her eyes were closed and within a few more seconds the entire group were transported back to the valley where they had originally met. Jyster stood among them still. “Now captain, I believe you have an announcement to make to your crew and to ensure you hold up your end of our deal I’m bringing the Quirennal’s coaxial warp drives online. Just so no-one on the Odyssey gets any ideas in coming after us, now they’ll not be able to find us.”

A louder humming noise could be heard throughout the ship as it started to vibrate suddenly. Then within an instant its faster-than-light drive came to life. The Quirennal moved all of a sudden away from the Odyssey. A sudden surge in energy brought the alien ship more alive; the chaotic webs from its advanced warp drive surrounded it before it disappeared out of sight. 

Thrown In The Deep End

USS Odyssey (NCC-80000), Gradin Belt, Delta-Beta Quadrants Border
Stardate: 76755.4

Trying to establish some control over a ship filled mainly with children and young people was not something that appeared in any of Penelope’s databases. Nevertheless, she leant on the limited experience she had and was trying to adapt to the situation she found herself in. 

One stable element that had helped her was the presence of Acting Ensign Alfie McCallister-Reyas. Not quite like either of his parents in that he knew much in regards to Starfleet protocols, his initiative and eagerness to want to help was useful. After briefing her on what he knew had taken place, he had taken the approach to liaise with his brothers and their friends in keeping the much younger souls on the ship calmer. She had been impressed at how resourceful these teenagers had been in coordinating their efforts from The Auditorium and gaining almost everyone they encountered that was old enough to help look for the other younger children to become interim guardians and carers.

Returning to the bridge after his successful ‘away mission’, Alfie stepped off the aft turbolift and approached Penelope, who had been in the middle of moving from the science station to the helm. The bareness of the bridge still unnerved him. “Reporting in ma’am.” He stated, sounding unsure if that was the right comment to come out with. 

Appreciating the gesture, Penelope’s interaction subroutine ensured she responded in a way that was appropriate for someone in his rank while combining it with a reaction that showed her encouragement of his work. “Thank you, ensign. Any issues I need to be aware of?”

“None, ma’am.” He answered. “My brothers and our friends seem to have calmed most of the youngsters that showed…” Pausing, Alfie didn’t want to exaggerate too much about how they had found many of the Odyssey’s younger children in distress from not having their parents around them. Carefully he picked his words, using ones he suspected his parents would use. “…concerned at the absence of their parents. They are keeping them entertained.”

Bobbing her head in acceptance of his report, Penelope took the helm station and gestured for him to sit beside her at ops. “I bet you never guessed on your first day of promotion you’d be made acting operations manager?”

Shaking his head, Alfie followed her orders and sat down. “What do I do?” He asked, looking down at the various controls. Though they were in Federation standard, it could have been in Klingonese, he didn’t understand much of it. 

“You’ve co-piloted a shuttle before?” Penelope asked for clarification.

He nodded once. “With my dad in the seat next to me, yeah.” Alfie said, sounding nervous.

“Then, all I need from you is to keep an eye on the ship’s systems.” Penelope said. “Computer, change primary ops console to basic training mode layout and activate semi-automated monitoring protocols, suitable for a first year cadet to learn from.”

“Acknowledged.” The computer replied and the display before Alfie changed per Penelope’s request. On the main console the ship’s outlines were made clear with primary systems all appearing in green. A holographic screen appeared to his left, it showed the ship’s secondary systems and again they were all in the green. “These readouts show you the current status of each system across the ship. Tapping over one of them will expand further details on their condition.”

“Are you okay with that?” Penelope questioned. 

Nodding, Alfie sat up straight and hovered his hands over the consoles as he started to read to himself each system. 

Tapping her combadge, Penelope got in touch with cetacean ops. “Petty Officer Ramman’ker, are you ready for the transfer?”

“Yes ma’am. Our systems down here have been reconfigured.” The Xindi-Aquatic answered with his robotic sounding translated tones. 

“Transferring main helm controls now.” Penelope stated as she tapped a few commands and then a reading appeared on Alfie’s console to show the transfer was a success. During this time, cetacean ops would handle flying the ship.

“The computer states that helm control was successfully handed over to Cetacean Ops.” Alfie announced. 

“Confirmed.”  Ramman’ker stated.

“Thank you, both.” Penelope said as she got up, headed over to the tactical station. “Now that we’ve secured the ship, we need to begin planning some sort of rescue.” Looking over at the tactical station, which showed her that the ship’s primary and secondary defence systems were online along with the weapons array, Penelope considered her options. Everything she calculated pointed to them being unable to by-pass the impressive shielding that surrounded the Quirennal. She needed to come up with an out of the box solution. “Ensign McCallister, I’m transferring myself down to Cetacean Ops to coordinate with the rest of their think tank. Keep monitoring our systems and bring up the readings we’re taking of the Quirennal. The bridge is yours.”

Another shocked expression from the young man appeared. “Oh…okay.” He stuttered out. 

Enjoying his naivety somewhat, Penelope told him to take his father’s chair while she activated the holographic consoles to appear either side of the chair, so he could monitor not just ship systems but have access to the sensors as well. 

Taking a huge gulp inwards, Alfie stood up and made his way over to the centre chair. Slowly he lowered himself into it and exhaled slowly as he did. Looking at the hologram, he just nodded to say he was okay. Appearing to take some comfort that he was sitting in his father’s chair, Penelope instantly transferred herself with a simple command to the computer and had the computer open a channel between Alfie and her while she was away. 

Appearing to float in the vast waters that took up Cetacean Ops, Penelope found herself “swimming” among the non-humanoid members of the aqua-based crew that were left behind. She had wondered why Captain Jyster had not taken them all as well, especially as she had kept Odyssey’s Horta geologist Ensign Tchwulkk and his partner Crewmember Demiaht. The two Hortas had been part of one of them away teams that had been exploring the Quirennal before Jyster had kidnapped everyone else. 

Swimming towards the Cetacean Ops think tank, Penelope asked to hear their thoughts and ideas on how to rescue everyone back. The mixed noises from the Xindi-Aquatics were mixed with the clicks, whistles and pulsed calls coming from the other members of the Cetacean Ops. If it hadn’t been for the universal translator being built into her program, then Penelope wouldn’t be able to understand any of them. 

“The only option we calculate as having a high probability of working is highly…” Ramman’ker paused as he considered his words carefully. “Creative and extreme.”

“Do share.” Penelope insisted. 

“We debated whether or not we could force Captain Jyster to to remodulate the shield harmonics of her ship with a sustained modulated tachyon beam from our main deflector, thus forcing her to drop her shields giving us the chance to beam the crew back in one go.” Ramman’ker explained. “However, for us to be effective against her shields we would have to overload the deflector and thus we would not be able to escape without sustaining a high amount of damage.”

“I’ve already considered that strategy, for now it’s a no.” Penelope said, “So what’s your option that you think would have a high probability of success?”

“Well ma’am,” Ramman’ker paused, “it would require us building a phase cloaking device.”

“A phase cloaking device?” Penelope repeated as she accessed her database to confirm what she needed to know. 

“You see ma’am, if we could phase through the Quirrennal, we believe the large valley would be big enough for us to decloak in, beam our crew back and re-cloak for a hasty retreat.” Ramman’ker shared.

After reading the classified files where the Enterprise-D had encountered the Federation prototype for a phase cloak as well as when the Romulans had experimented with it, almost thirty years ago, Penelope instantly shut the idea down. “No, we would be breaking our treaty with the Romulans.”

“Ma’am, the Romulans are over thirty-thousand light-years away.” Ramman’ker remarked, 

“Even so, we don’t break the treaty just because they are not in our neighbourhood.” Penelope reinforced. “Along with that, we don’t have the expertise to build such a device from scratch nor do we have the time.”

“Then we are back to square one for now.” Ramman’ker said, sounding deflated, that their idea had been shot down.

“Explore the tachyon one further. See what measures we could put into place to protect the deflector.” Penelope offered.

“Aye ma’am.” Ramman’ker said, looking at his fellow colleagues. 

“Bridge to Captain Penelope.” spoke Ensign McCallister’s voice over the intercom after the chime had gone off.

Tapping her combadge, the ECH replied. “Go ahead Ensign.”

“Ma’am, you may want to return up here. Lieutenant Flemen has just returned and sensors show a return of a number of our crew too.Alfie reported. “Also ma’am, the Quirrennal has gone!”

Surprised to hear that, Penelope left Cetacan Ops and transferred herself back to the bridge. 

“And just like that, I’m here.” Flemen offered as he shrugged his shoulders at the ECH and the captain’s son. 

“Do you know where Captain Jyster has taken them?” Alfie asked before he realised he was questioning a superior officer. Quickly he added a, “sir” at the end. 

Flemen looked at the young man. “No clue whatsoever.” He answered. “Captain Jyster was not forthcoming with that. She was more keen on insulting me, but I suspect she was trying to get some distance between us and her ship.”

“A coaxial warp drive can deposit them quite far from us.” Penelope shared. “We’d need to leave the nebula to begin long range scans.” She looked at Alfie, “Ensign, inform Cetacean Ops to take us out and then begin long range sensor sweeps, see if you can scan for any of the energy readings we have of the Quirennal.”

Nodding several times, Alfie left the company of the hologram and the diplomatic officer and made his way over to the ops station to get on with his assignment. 

Penelope signalled for her and Flemen to walk to the back of the bridge, so they were far away from Alfie’s earshot. “What was the captain’s plan here?”

Shaking his head, Flemen showed his lack of knowledge. “I’m not entirely sure. He was keen to open up a diplomatic dialogue with Jyster, my guess it was to show a strong sense of faith and trust on his part with her. Hence why he decided to keep a majority of the crew with him while  having those with younger children return to the Odyssey. A short term gain on his part, I suppose.”

“His parenting experience certainly comes in handy here then.” Penelope stated. “I’m not sure how long we could have sustained Odyssey without proper help with our younger members.”

“I’m just frustrated that I was the only one from the senior staff sent back.” Flemen commented as he crossed his arms against his chest and leant against the bulkhead next to the ship’s Master Situation Diagram. “She genuinely thought I didn’t have the ability or experience to mount a rescue of the rest of the crew or I was good enough to be a parent.”

Intrigued at both of those remarks, Penelope flinched her head. “Perhaps she was not aware of your background being trained as a Hazard Team member as well as being a qualified bridge officer. Plus I believe no-one is ever born to be the perfect parent.”

“Still, I’ve always had someone to back me up, like Commander Duncan.” Flemen said, sounding still defeated somewhat by Jyster’s assessment of him and his abilities. 

“Well officially lieutenant, you must assume command as per protocol states. My rank is only provisional during emergencies and when others are unable to discharge the duties of the captain properly. You are qualified and required to do this.” Penelope stated.

Sighing at hearing that, the young Lumerian just nodded as he uncrossed his arms. “But you’ll remain on as acting first officer. I’m going to need to count on that vast tactical database of yours.”

“Aye sir.” She said with a smile and with a blink she quickly updated the pips on her collar to show she had taken a demotion to commander. “Happy to help.” She added.

Smirking at the gesture, Flemen indicated for them to walk back to the centre of the bridge, he could see that Acting Ensign McCallister was carrying out the orders that Penelope had issued. “We need to re-establish roles and responsibilities with those who have returned and ensure everyone who has come back is in good health.” Flemen stated.

“We could activate the ship’s emergency medical holographic programs to do that, sir.” Alfie suggested. 

“Good idea, ensign.” Flemen said as he looked at the centre chair he approached. Hesitating at first, he saw Penelope taking Commander Duncan’s seat with ease. Copying her approach, he did the same thing and sat down. “Alfie, can you do that for me?”

“Yes, sir.” The young man said. 

“Ensign McCallister has been coordinating our ‘babysitting’ efforts,” Penelope shared. “I suggest we make sure the crew who have returned are assured by what the other younger people have done. I can do this and then begin handing out crew assignments.”

“Sounds good to me.” Flemen stated. “We then need to work out what we will do once we find them.”

Turning around in his chair, Alfie spoke up. “Sorry if this is out of turn, but can I ask sir, did either of my parents say anything to you about me or my brothers?”

Deciding not to shoot him down for not asking permission to speak freely, Flemen smiled to assure the teenager. “Your father did, and I sort of understood what he said but it was quite bizarre what he said.”

“What do you mean?” Penelope asked for clarity.

Looking at her, Flemen answered. “Well what he said was not something I’ve heard him say before when referencing Alfie and his brothers.” Flemen looked at Alfie. “He said that you and your brother will need to find your own league now, but he loved you just as much as everyone else in your family does.”

“That’s odd.” Penelope said.

“I could sense he was trying to get a message across to me, as a way of saying he was speaking in code and that only you three would understand it.” Flemen said. “It was like he was purposely not using any other code in case Jyster knew them.”

“Seeing as she had hacked our database then I don’t blame him for speaking oddly.” Penelope said. She looked at the captain’s son. “Alfie, any ideas on what he means?”

“Our own league?” Alfie repeated as he considered that part with more focus. Then something clicked in the back of his mind. “I don’t think he means a sporting league, I think he means for us to find THE League and get in contact with my uncle.”

“Do you mean the U-S-S League, under the command of Captain Horatio McCallister?” Penelope checked which Alfie just nodded in response. Looking at Flemen, the ECH considered the idea. “They are the nearest Federation ship to us, they’ve just completed making second contact with the Vojean.”

“Any help we get would be good. I’ll make the call once we’re free from the nebula.” Flemen stated as he turned his attention back to thinking what he should do next. If his captain wanted him to find the League, then he knew there was something else he was missing here. What could the Intrepid-class ship do to help them out besides becoming an extra set of parents to help Jyster with her upbringing of her children? Or did Captain McCallister need his brother to advise them? Feeling overwhelmed by what he was thinking, he excused himself to take a moment in the ship’s conference room. He needed to think everything through carefully first before making any more decisions. 

Closing his eyes, he could sense those who had returned home to Odyssey sharing their sense of relief of being returned to their younger children while still those who did not have their parents feeling lost and worried. Blocking out the mental input from others, Flemen took in several deep breaths as he walked into the observation lounge. Heading over to the replicator he got himself a glass of water and cleared his mind again. He was going to do this and prove to Jyster she was wrong. In the back of his mind though he could sense Ensign McCallister on the bridge, being overwhelmed by the concern for his parents’ safety and the situation he had been thrown in. Realising he needed to give the ensign some strength, Flemen returned to the bridge at once. Assuring the acting ensign he was doing a good job, Flemen got straight to work with the ECH in sorting out where they were things while the ship departed the nebula. 

A New Day, A New Challenge

Stardate: 76756.9

Sitting in what was now their ‘new home’, a small two bedroom apartment with a balcony view of the valley, Captain McCallister was staring out at the view before him. Captain Jyster had returned those who had younger children to Odyssey and then used the opportunity to bring power back to her warp drive that ended up taking her ship far away from Odyssey. His decision to make a deal that stranded everyone else had not gone down well with the remaining senior staff. McCallister had been given a scorn by his wife in private. Reyas had gone to bed without saying goodnight to him. He had to believe that deep down, his sons were capable of looking after themselves until help arrived. That said, his diplomatic efforts with Jyster had not stopped there. He planned to use the fact she had decided to pair up her sons with his first officer and command senior chief to their advantage. Hoping that between them, Duncan and Court could build up a good rapport with the two teenagers they were about to become carers to. One thing Jyster had said to them all, before disappearing, that she planned to make them as comfortable as possible. She had downloaded a copy of the Odyssey’s replicator files and using the ship’s particle synthesizers had adjusted the living accommodations to become more pleasant for her guests. Ordering a mug of tea, he had been surprised at just how well it was created. It tasted just like the real thing. 

Having to tell those who remained from his crew that they needed to make this work for now was a difficult speech, especially for those who had older children left on Odyssey defending themselves. Sharing his concern and worries as a parent, McCallister had been able to play the ‘I get it’ card but he has also told those who remained with him that he had faith that those who returned would care for them all. The crew of the Odyssey had become a close knit community in the fourteen years it had been in service under his command, he had faith that they would prevail. 

Looking over the valley, which showed an almost picturesque view of an aurora light show against a night sky filled with twinkling stars. Wondering if this was a move by Jyster to keep them calm, McCallister had to give their captor some points in effort. Feeling exhaustion slowly creeping up on him, the captain decided he would try and get some sleep before the artificial daylight appeared. He paused as he got up and changed his mind about going to share a bed with his wife. She was too angry with him, so instead he went into the spare guest room and fell asleep there instead. He would have to do some serious damage control with her in the morning. 

Struggling to sleep, as his mind was buzzing with so much in it, Commander Duncan laid there in bed looking up at the ceiling. He could feel a wave of anxiety slowly rolling over him, he took the moment to take a few deep breaths. Looking to his right, he felt calmer at the view before him. Wrapped up under the bedsheets with him was his boyfriend and someone who now almost everyone on the ship knew he was with. Court was in a deep sleep, softly snoring and had tightly wrapped himself up against Duncan. One arm across his chest, reaching up to his left shoulder while his legs were wrapped among Duncan’s.

The first officer was trying to compartmentalise his thoughts, the former counsellor in him was trying to use the same strategies he had used with other former patients who were suffering from being overwhelmed with worry. It wasn’t just worry about his relationship with Court now being public knowledge, it was more over the fact that the captain had settled with Captain Jyster mixed in with the knowledge that he was about to become responsible for two teenage boys. Fatherhood? Was he really ready for it? He had always wanted a family, but he had never imagined doing it so soon and he was expected to do it with Court. Their relationship was still in its early days. Would this test them to prove they should be together? Or would it ruin what they had made so far? He didn’t know and part of him was concerned about that. 

Closing his eyes one more time, Duncan hoped the captain knew what he was doing as he was unsure himself. 

T’Rani had found the spectacular polar lights display to be of use to her as she sat in the centre of her living area and meditated. The absolute silence that existed was stimulating and helped her clear her mind. Not being someone that was a parent of a younger child had meant she had remained with the others and when accommodation had been organised, she had found herself sharing with Counsellor Samris. Not objecting to the idea, she had found their relationship to be developing well recently. After the captain had dismissed them all to go and get a “good night’s sleep” before their work commenced the next day, she and Samris had discussed their situation further in the privacy of their own accommodation. Though she was certain that the isomorphic projection of Captain Jyster could monitor their discussions, she had not shared anything she considered was inflammatory or would place either of them in a difficult situation later on. 

One topic they had discussed over a light dinner was the revelation of Commander Duncan and Senior Chief Court’s relationship being made public knowledge. Samris had wondered how long they had been together, but T’Rani had reminded him it was not their place to speculate on the private lives of their colleagues, especially that of the first officer’s. They had moved on to talk about the fact that Captain Jyster had shared with the crew who they would be grouped with from the children and young people that were left. Samris and her were to take on three children, a sibling group. One boy and two girls. As such their accommodation had five bedrooms. 

Becoming a parent had been one desire that T’Rani had always wanted with her husband before his death during the Archanis Campaign. Unfortunately she had not been able to conceive a child, something she had found earlier on in their marriage when they had attempted to mate during pon farr. Now the fact she was about to become responsible for children was a sensation she had not encountered before. 

“Tea?” Samris asked in a low tone from the doorway of their shared bedroom. 

Opening her eyes slightly, she looked over her left shoulder towards the direction of the voice that had disturbed her. Samris was standing there, just wearing casual pair lounge shorts that he had worn to bed, his expression appeared warm and affectionate. 

“That would be…” she paused as she considered her words, “satisfactory, thank you.” 

Gently stepping over to the particle synthesiser that could create everything they needed from food, to drink to clothes to anything they desired (within reason), the Romulan man ordered two cups of hot Vulcan spice tea.

Finishing her meditation, T’Rani blew out the candles and stood up to join Samris as he turned around with their drinks in his hands. “Thank you.” She said as he passed her the cup. 

“I was thinking about going out for a run along the riverbank of the valley, before we meet our guests.”  Samris said before taking a sip from his warm beverage.

“Is that such a wise decision Samris? The captain did instruct us to remain safe.” T’Rani said as she took a seat in one of the armchairs.

Sitting in the armchair opposite to her, Samris asked her to join him. “Safety in numbers is a Human expression I have heard before. What do you say?”

“Physical exercise would be an appropriate choice right now.” T’Rani agreed. 

“Great, I just hope that contraption behind us is good at making decent running shoes as I left my favourite  gym gear back on Odyssey.” Samris shared as he gestured towards the synthesiser behind him.

“It will have to suffice for now.” T’Rani said. “We must not complain as our condition of imprisonment could be a lot worse.”

“Indeed.” Samris said as he finished his tea and got up. “Let’s get moving before this day actually starts.” 

“Knowing Lieutenant Commander Lenjir, I would suspect he is already undertaking this exercise and he would most likely have persuaded Lieutenant Commander Jen as well.” T’Rani said as she copied him in completing her drink too. 

“Then we may see them and knowing Cline and Lukiz, both of them are probably using the time to recon on whatever they encounter.” Samris stated.

“Agreed.” T’Rani responded with. “Let us see if our assumptions are true and if they are we can help them with their efforts.”

“Agreed.” Samris countered back with, almost repeating her tone of voice. 

Looking at him for a moment, T’Rani wondered if living with Samris would be agreeable. 

Another human expression came to her mind.

So far, so good.

Pushing through the sweat and pain, Lukiz Jen thought he had kept himself in reasonable shape but was finding his morning jog with his old academy classmate a challenge now. That said, Lenjir was notorious on Odyssey for spending most of his off time in the ship’s gym. The Tiburon man was ripped with muscles. Jen had wondered if his friend could lift an escape pod with his bare hands. Seeing the size of his biceps, he reckoned he could.

“Can we take a breath.” panted Jen as they got to the top of a small hill. “A break. A rest even.”

Rolling his eyes, Lenjir agreed and came to a gradual stop and began to take deep breaths to calm his breathing down. Looking over to his friend, he could see the sweat literally pouring from him. Jen was not out of shape but wasn’t as fit as he had been when they had shared a room at the academy. 

“When we get back to the Odyssey, you’re coming to the gym with me on a daily basis.” Lenjir insisted as he watched his friend land on the floor with a thump as he took his time to calm his breathing down. 

“If me agreeing to it helps us get out of here sooner than I’m all up for it.” Jen said in between each inhale and exhale he took. 

Chuckling as he stretched out his leg and arm muscles, Lenjir looked at his friend. “You’ve been awfully quiet since we got trapped here.” 

“It’s a lot to process, Cline.” The joined Trill replied as he closed his eyes.

Lenjir stared at him, with an almost Vulcan raised eyebrow expression that showed he didn’t quite believe what he was hearing from his friend. “Are you talking about the Quirennal or the fact your ex is now dating our first officer?” He probed.

Groaning as he sat up, Jen opened his eyes and his breathing had slowed down. Lenjir sat down next to him and offered him the bottle of water he had brought out with them. “I knew this day would come, but I wasn’t expecting…”

“…for Tobie to go after Commander Duncan?” Lenjir helped finish.

“Yeah, sort of. The last I had heard he was seen dating Lieutenant Keli. ” Jen replied. “I mean, we’ve not been together for almost fifteen years now and I was the one who broke things off.”

Chuckling somewhat more, Lenjir shook his head at his friend. “First off, he and Keli were never an item. She was only training him up with weapon’s proficiency and I think they sometimes visit the holodeck together. Secondly, you two were quite intense when you were together on the Triton.”

“Young love.” Jen responded. “My joining changed that overnight.”

“So do you regret breaking up with him?” Lenjir questioned.

Jen considered the question for a moment before he gave an honest answer. “Looking back now, no I don’t think I do. I wasn’t in the right place, mentally, to be in a relationship with anyone. It wouldn’t have been fair on him, me or anyone else to be honest. I wasn’t ready for it.”

“And what about now?” Lenjir said as he took back the water bottle and took a few sips. “Are you ready for a relationship?”

“You offering?!” Jen joked with his friend which resulted in Lenjir shaking his head and rolling his eyes. “Maybe I am ready.” Jen finally admitted.

“Maybe that’s what it is.” Lenjir offered. “Perhaps you’re not jealous that Tobie is seeing someone else, maybe it’s you wanting to be in a relationship too. I mean finding out that T’Rani and Counsellor Samris are together now was a shocker as well.”

“I know, I wasn’t expecting that.” Jen replied. “But I’m glad she’s got someone, S’Tefe’s death affected her, even if she kept it quiet from us.”

“Indeed.” Lenjir agreed, he looked at his friend just as the sun started to rise on the horizon. “So do you want me to set you up with someone? I could put in a good word for you with Doctor Forbes, he’s a hunk, or if you want Keli is single. She’s a lot of fun and extremely beautiful!”

Sighing out in disbelief, Jen shook his head and got up. “Shut up Cline!” He shouted back as he started to get back on with their morning run. 

“Hey, wait up. I’ve not exhausted my list yet!” Lenjir cried out as he chased after his friend down the hill they had gone up. “And now we’re trapped here, you may want to find someone before everyone else couples up!” 

“Again, shut up Cline!” Jen called back as they made their way down, Jen ahead of his friend for sometime, both men chuckling at their conversation. 

The rise of the sun, though artificial, brought some sort of comfort to Slyvexs as she watched it from the balcony view. The seat she was sitting on looked like the sun chairs one would find on Risa.  She looked over to her left where her husband, Mettex, was sitting. Drinking on his third mug of raktajino, something he always did, she smiled. 

“What time do you need to go to the hospital?” He asked in between sips.

“I’ve got a couple of hours.” She insisted as she picked up her first cup of Tarkalean tea. The warm drink was surprisingly nice. “If this situation was not the way it was, I think I could find myself enjoying the luxuries this ship has to offer.”

“Yes, dear.” Mettex said. 

“Once I have completed the final treatments to the young people, I’m certain that we may be asked to take a few in.”  Slyvexs looked over to her husband. The two of them had a number of children between them, not including those from their other marriages along with the numerous grandchildren as well. “How do you feel about it?”

“As long as I’m not having to change any nappies, then I’m happy to mentor and support them.” Mettex said, looking at her. “I think Captain McCallister was right to agree to what he was able to negotiate. These young people have been in stasis for a long time then they wake up to find their parents and carers are all dead and their destiny is now left in the hands of complete strangers. I don’t understand how we’ve not had any of them become hysterical so far.”

“You’re right on the latter.” Slyvexs said, placing her cup down. “There is a strong resilience quality in the ones I’ve met so far.”

“Was I not right on the former then?” Mettex questioned his wife. “Do you not agree with the captain’s actions?”

Slyvexs was not caught off guard by that question. She and Mettex had always had an open and honest relationship. Rarely did they speak about her colleagues, especially the captain, in such ways that it had surprised her. “In the time I have known Captain McCallister, I’ve never known him to take such unilateral action without consulting with his senior staff on such a huge issue that would affect the safety of the crew.”

“He is the captain, he does have that authority.” Mettex reminded her. “Surely, being a parent, in fact a grandparent, you can appreciate he was trying to find a reasonable solution to helping those youngsters left back on Odyssey? He was fortunate enough to get what he got out of his deal with Captain Jyster. We should count him lucky.”

“Yes, I suppose. It’s just I hope we end up living out our retirement here.” Slyvexs said as she picked her tea up again. “Even with all of these fancy luxuries around us.”

“One day at a time, my dear, one day at a time.” Mettex offered as he raised his mug of raktajino towards her. 

Two Months of Separation – Part 1

USS Odyssey NCC-80000, Gradin Belt, Delta-Beta Quadrants Border
Stardate: 76995.319

“The time is oh-seven hundred hours.”

Waking up slowly, Craigen Flemen pushed himself up from his king size bed. Blinking a few times, he rubbed his face as he tried to focus on his surroundings. His quarters were dimly lit, the way he had left it the night before. Yawning a few times he ordered the computer to bring the light level up a few notches as he pulled the sheets off his body and swung his legs off the bed. Taking a few deep breaths, he could sense a few people who were nearby. Like most mornings, his attempt at focussing on waking himself up properly helped him center his own thoughts and feelings to shield everyone else’s away from him. His empathic balance appeared to return to normal and he felt better for it. It was a trick he learnt from an old academy friend of his that was Betazoid. Tam Grex, who was now a test pilot back for the ASDB on Earth, had shared with him how he prepared himself mentally for the day. The trick since then had always worked for Flemen.   

Standing up, he stretched his back as he pulled off his black vest and headed straight to the area of his quarters where he had set himself up a little gym area.

His quarters were pretty huge, compared to what he had experienced from his previous assignment on the Galaxy-class starship, the USS Pytheas. Leaving his cabin, he walked past the living room and made his way into what should have been left for a guest to use. Instead he had turned it into a workout area. He had no-one that would be visiting or staying over, so instead recently he made use of the space for something else. Undertaking a workout in the morning helped the blood pump through his body a lot more and the energy boost was what he had needed. From cycling, running, pumping weights and other cardio exercise, Flemen had found himself enjoying his work out sessions more and more recently. One way or another the energy he burnt as well as gained, helped him destress before the start of the day. He even did it before going to bed now. 

After completing almost half an hour of exercise, sweat was now pouring down his face, neck, chest and back that he decided it was time to head into the sonic shower.   

Entering the bathroom, he took off his shorts and entered the sonic shower area. 

“Activate shower.” He commanded, immediately the warm sonic waves smashed against his skin. Instantly the hair on the back of his neck stood up as did the goosebumps on his arms as the sensation of being cleaned by sound waves did their job. Closing his eyes for a moment, the idea of returning to bed felt welcoming but he knew he had no choice in the matter. Placing his back against one of the walls, the gentle and warm vibrating experience carried on as he went through his mind everything he had endured over the last two months. It had become routine for him to do this every morning, it was almost like the mental version of pinching himself. Reminding himself how events had developed, somehow kept him grounded.

Eventually he left the sonic shower and got himself changed into a brand new clean uniform. Looking at himself in the mirror, he smartened himself up as he pushed his hair into its carefully combed straight style he always had. The door chime went off, instantly making him look over to the door. Straight away he could sense who it was and he smirked at how prompt his visitor always was at this time in the morning. 

“The time is oh-seven hundred hours.”

After being up for almost half an hour, Alfie McCallister was used to hearing the second alarm going off. The one time he overslept and was late for his shift had taught him to not rely on his brothers in waking him up. Instead since becoming an acting ensign he had to depend on himself. 

After finishing his morning workout, something he had been inspired to do by his superior and current mentor, Alfie was getting himself ready for the day by reading the ship’s schedule. Checking it through he noticed that the delta shift engineering crew had some problem with the warp core that Lieutenant Tierra needed to brief the senior staff about. Switching his holographic display off and transferring the schedule to his PADD, he walked out of his room and down the corridor towards the bathroom he shared with his brothers. 

Looking ahead of himself, he saw the doorway to his parents’ room. The darkened room had become a regular image for him and his brothers. None of them had found the strength to go in there or even close the door. It felt wrong as if they were giving up on ever seeing their folks again. Hopefully by the end of today, they would be in a better place in finding them. 

Stopping by the door to the bathroom, Alfie sighed as he realised that someone else was in it. Feeling the disgusting sensation of sweat sticking to his skin, he considered for a moment going to use the en-suite in his parents’ room but stopped himself when the doors opened and the familiar view of their ‘guest’ appeared. Standing with just a towel around him was Duke Goldman. Ever since his parents had been taken and didn’t return, the Auditorium’s manager’s son had moved in after he found it difficult to be living by himself in his own quarters. Duke was best friends with Theo and he had been crashing in Theo’s room ever since. The two were almost inseparable these days. Like two peas in a pod. 

“Morning A-man.” Duke greeted him with his nickname for Alife as he strutted across the corridor towards Theo’s room.

 Alfie gave him a friendly smile as he replied with his own nickname. “Hey Dukey.”

As Duke entered Theo’s room, Alfie heard him trying to wake Theo up by what sounded through the use of throwing of clothes and probably a pillow. It was normal for Theo to always be the last to wake up and take his time in the morning. Ever since Duke had moved in, it became a regular occurrence for him to become Theo’s own personal alarm clock. Rolling his eyes, Alfie ignored the antics coming from his brother’s bedroom as he got into the bathroom to have his sonic shower. 

Several minutes later, he was finishing getting ready by fixing his hair as he headed down the spiral set of stairs from the upper level of their quarters to the main living area. As he got to the bottom step he noticed that Duke’s efforts, as always, were semi-fruitful in getting Theo up and out of bed. Theo was sitting on the large corner sofa, munching his way through a bowl of cereal while still in his boxer shorts. 

“Morning T.” Alfie called out as he went over to where he left his boots from the night before. 

Theo just grunted back in return as he chewed on his breakfast. After finishing a mouthful, “Morning bro.” He replied with. “There’s fresh coffee made by Duke if you’re interested.”

Rolling his eyes at how lazy his brother was, Alfie finished pulling on his left boot as he answered. “I swear you’re getting more sloth-like with everyday that passes since Duke moved in. You let him do so much for you.”

“Duke’s got a good heart.” Theo answered back with. “I can’t complain that he does stuff for me and in return I do stuff for him.”

“Do I want to ask you to define what that ‘stuff’ is?” Alfie stated back as he stood up and brushed his uniform down. “I swear I never see you working.”

“I don’t know what you’re insinuating! Duke and I are partners-in-crime!” Theo replied with a smirk. “I help out in the Auditorium five nights a week and I’ve promised Duke to help out with his music lessons.”

“Wow, the crew thanks you for your contribution.” Alfie sarcastically said as he checked himself out one more time in the mirror. “Talking about your partner, where is he? I heard him trying to wake you up from your slumber earlier.”

“The Auditorium. Someone called in sick this morning so you’ll see him setting up for breakfast.” Theo replied as he picked up another spoonful of cereal and shoved it in his gob in one fell swoop, a tad of milk slipped out and over his chin and down his chest. He quickly licked his spoon and cleared himself up with the back of his hand.  

Seeing his brother’s slobbish antics in his reflection, Alfie just shook his head knowing that if either of his parents saw Theo do such a thing they would pull him up on it. Looking at his brother, he also knew their father would have commented on Theo allowing his hair to grow as long as it got and also for curling it. It was obvious he was trying to copy Duke, who had natural curly hair and had grown it out since his parents had gone too. Alfie was certain though that if Duke wasn’t around that Theo would have done absolutely nothing. In some way he had to thank for small favours. 

The door to their quarters then opened and stepping in, panting hard and covered in sweat was Henri, his other brother. Wearing his running gear, Henri stepped through and headed straight to the replicator. As he passed his two brothers, he said morning in between breaths. 

“How long today?” Alfie asked as he picked up his combadge and placed it on the left side of his chest. 

In between sips, Henri spoke. “Five kilometres. I want to up it tomorrow, for about six.” Taking a sip, he looked at Theo and shook his head. Henri went over to the other side of the sofa and slumped in it. “Alfie, you should come out with me one morning.”

Shaking his head, Alfie turned the offer down. “Unlike you, I’m not keen on being super fit. I’m fine with my own regime, thanks.”

“Your loss.” Henri said as he took another sip and looked at Henri. Poking his brother’ belly, he chuckled. “Theo, you should come out with me then.”

“I’m perfectly fine, cheers.” Theo answered as he necked back the last of his cereal and milk. Again, his couch potato-like antics took place as more milk went down his bare chest. After placing the bowl down on the small glass coffee table, he wiped himself clean and again licked his hand that had got wet from the milk. Pushing the empty but dirty mugs, plates and bowls that sat on the coffee table with his feet, Theo raised his legs up and gave out a large belching of a burp as he scratched his belly. 

“You really are gross sometimes.” Henri remarked as he looked at his brother with almost disgust. “Seriously, just come out and do something with me. You used to be always up for a jog or playing something out on the holodeck.”

“Well that was before dad decided to abandon us and have another family on some alien ark.” Theo grumbled as he got up and picked up his bowl, along with the other filthy dishes that were on the coffee table, to take it over to the replicator to be recycled.

“That’s not fair Theo.” Henri countered back quickly with. “We don’t know what’s happened to dad or mum. We don’t know why dad had to make those decisions. For all we know he had a weapon to his head and he had to take the choice that saved us.” 

“Well it’s enough for the crew he sent back to question his negotiating tactics.” Theo snapped back with. “And don’t start on me about my change. Look at yourself, all you’ve done is thrown yourself into your sports, flirting with everyone in our grade who has a pulse and new hairstyle!” 

“Jealousy on you is as ugly as that stupid mullet you’re trying to pull off.” Henri fired back with. “Don’t be a green-eyed monster just because everyone loves my blond hair and that I’m doing something productive with my time while our folks are away.”

“Visiting the gym for hours on end each day as well as teaching kids soccer, basketball and babysitting them in our old Captain Proton holonovels really isn’t that productive!” Theo stated back as he lunged for Henri and knocked him back onto the sofa.

“ENOUGH!” Alfie shouted as he got in the middle of his brothers. He was surprised he was able to push Henri off, ever since their parents had gone he spent more time in the ship’s gym that he had built up his muscles so much that he could probably take out a Gorn with one hit. Theo fell backwards and landed on the floor with a thud. He looked just as surprised as Henri did at Alfie’s reaction. “Enough!” Alfie repeated in between breaths as he looked between them. “We can keep fighting one another until mom and dad come home, or we could all do something to help out. I don’t know about you two, but I’m not going to just sit here and do nothing. We’re meant to be brothers, we’re a family.” 

The three McCallister boys said nothing to one another for a moment.

“I’m sorry H.” Theo said in a much calmer toner than before as he pushed himself up off the floor and extended his hand towards his brother.

“Me too Theo.” Henri said in a similar tone as he shook his brother and pulled him in for a hug. “Your hair isn’t that bad.”

“Likewise, and perhaps I will join you in the gym later.” Theo said after they let go and jiggled his somewhat little podge belly he had grown.

Smiling that he had averted a disaster, Alfie walked over to the side where he had been and picked up his PADD. “I need to go, but remember I need you both in transporter room one at nineteen hundred hours.”

“Don’t worry Alf, I’ll have H out of the gym, washed and dressed before then.” Theo said pointing to his brother with his left thumb.

“And I’ll see if I can get Duke to convince this one to cut the mullet for us!” Henri remarked. “I suppose we gotta look good for our guest tonight?”    

“Please do.” Alfie said as he left their quarters and made his way towards his morning meeting. 

“Come in, Alf.” Flemen commanded as he went to pick up his rank pips to put on his uniform. 

Entering his quarters, Acting Ensign Alfie McCallister made his way in. “Good Morning sir.”

“Morning Alf.” Flemen greeted the young man. “How are you doing today?”

“All fine, thank you sir.” The captain’s son replied as he stood just before the doorway as it closed behind him. Like every morning, McCallister clutched a PADD in his hands. “Yourself?”

“Same.” He said as popped the last pip to his shoulder and glanced at the mirror one more time to ensure they were on straight. Flemen could sense that McCallister wasn’t sharing everything, but he didn’t want to poke too much into the young man’s private life. Instead he carried on being official. “What’s on the plan for today?”

Looking at the PADD he held, McCallister shared Flemen’s schedule for the day. Once he had finished he added a few more details that were not on the official list of jobs they had to do. “Lieutenant Tierra requested you see her at some point today, apparently delta shift’s efforts on rebuilding the dilithium crystal chamber caught a snag overnight.”

Sitting down on one of the armchairs, Flemen was placing his left boot on when he heard that last statement. Almost sighing at the bad luck that had fallen on them all, Flemen stopped himself and looked up at the younger man. “What does the lieutenant class as a ‘snag’ when it comes to the warp core?” He asked. He knew there was no way he could understand the complete technical background, but he knew he had to be seen knowing some things. 

“One of the magnetic seals almost failed. Fortunately the delta shift team was able to detect the failing system before it caused any serious damage.” McCallister said, reading almost word for word the notes from Tierra. “She wants to talk you through their repair efforts.”

“Okay, bring that meeting up to this morning after I’ve checked in on the bridge. My meeting with department heads can be moved into the afternoon” Flemen stated as he stood up. “Anything else?”

“No sir. Everything is already sorted, as long as nothing else happens between now and the League’s arrival later tonight.” McCallister shared.

“On that, we both agree on.” Flemen replied as checked himself out one more time in the mirror before turning to his protege. “Let’s go grab something to eat.”

Leading the ensign out of his quarters, Flemen made his way through the corridors towards the Auditorium. Odyssey’s systems were powered down in most areas of the ship. With a skeleton crew on board, the need for everything to be on was unjustified and reserving power for other systems was now a priority. The ship’s automation systems were working on overdrive and having less systems to focus on meant less taxation on that system. Flemen didn’t want to break the Odyssey before it could be used to mount a rescue of their trapped crewmates. 

Entering the large Auditorium, as always the room was busy for the morning run. Almost everyone who was left on the ship was there, besides those who were already on duty. Delta shift would be finishing soon, with alpha shift ready to take over. 

“Captain on deck.” announced Duke Goldman. 

Flemen inwardly groaned at the announcement and signalled for everyone who stood to sit back down and return to their breakfasts. He looked over to Goldman, the son of Remi Goldman the Auditorium’s manager, and reminded him to stop doing that. Just like Alfie, Duke had been left behind when his parents had been taken by Captain Jyster. Duke, who was seventeen, had decided almost instantly that he would step into his parents shoes. Along with playing temporary host of the Auditorium like his father, Duke had followed in his mother’s footsteps and made himself one of the teachers for the younger children that had remained behind. The young man looked so much like his parents, his cheeky chappy appearance he got from his father while his curly brown hair and green eyes were definitely from his mother. He was popular among many of the younger members of the crew since taking on these roles. Flemen had wished he had Goldman’s stamina and his boyish charms meant that sometimes he could push the boundaries without any harm coming to anyone. 

The younger Goldman shrugged his shoulders in response to Flemen’s reminder, the same mischievous look he had in his expression was the same one that Flemen had seen from his father on many occasions. “Sorry, Lieutenant Commander Flemen, but protocol dictates it. My parents would be upset with me if they knew I didn’t keep the tradition up”

“Then let me suspend them temporarily until Captain McCallister returns.” Flemen said as he grabbed a plate, passed it to Ensign McCallsiter and got himself one as they walked over to the huge breakfast buffet table that was set up. It was true that Goldman’s parents would normally announce the arrival of McCallister, especially at formal occasions, but he really didn’t want to be reminded about their current situation where the captain was absent and he was Odyssey’s temporary master and commander

“No fun at all.” grumbled Goldman as he went away. 

Ensign McCallister chuckled slightly as he followed his superior after saying something to his friend as he passed him. “Duke doesn’t mean anything by it, sir.” He directed at Flemen.

“I know.” Flemen answered as he picked up some toast. “It’s just something I don’t need to deal with first thing before I’ve had a cup of coffee.”

“Understood, sir.” McCallister said as he started to fill his plate up with scrambled egg and bacon. “For the record, my father wouldn’t mind you being called that in his absence though.”

“I’m sure he wouldn’t.” Flemen replied and a smirk then grew across his face. “But I’d prefer we wait for his return for that to be announced every morning to annoy him instead.”

“Let’s hope that my uncle brings some good news when he arrives tonight.” McCallister added.

“I’m sure he will.” Flemen confidently said. “Are you looking forward to seeing him?”

Shrugging his shoulders slightly, McCallister didn’t seem that bothered. “I think Henri and Theo are, I’m not sure.”

After picking out their food, Flemen led them across the floor to one of the empty tables. He could have gone and used the captain’s private dining area, but just like his decision not to allow people to call out that he was on deck by using the phrase captain, he preferred to leave it until the real captain came home. “How come?” He asked as they took their seats.

“My dad and Uncle Horatio had a massive falling out years ago before my brothers and I were born and they only recently reconnected. Even mom wouldn’t share what happened with us. All I know is it is linked to my uncle’s career in Starfleet. I’ve got a feeling he did something wrong and it was down to my dad to find him and bring him back.” McCallister said as he sat down. “I think it happened early on in my dad’s career. I’m sure I’ve overheard him say it was back when he was operations manager on the Audacious.”

“Interesting.” Flemen said as he ordered himself a mug of black coffee and McCallister a glass of orange juice, their usual morning drinks from one of the holographic waitresses. 

Picking up his fork, Flemen looked at the young man that sat before him. For someone who for the past two months had to grow up considerably and agreed to become the ship’s acting yeoman, Alfie McCallister was doing an incredible job so far. All of them had done an incredible job. 

Taking a bite, Flemen truly hoped that the moment the League arrived today, things would change drastically for them. 

Two months of just purely surviving and maintaining the ship had become a tedious job. After the Quirennal had left them and moments after departing from the nebula they had discovered the alien ship in, Odyssey had suffered from numerous computer malfunctions. Jyster had found a way to by-pass the ship’s powerful computer defences to upload a series of viruses that disrupted primary systems. Warp drive, long range sensors, subspace radio and weapons had been disabled at first. Once they had almost fixed them, then further systems were damaged. The main deflector went as did the impulse engines. The moment they were repaired, the warp drive broke again. If it hadn’t been for Lieutenant Tierra’s ingenious and tiresome work with the engineers that had been returned to them, the ship would still have been crippled. After spending two weeks having to remove the computer virus from its systems, it had taken another week before they were able to restore some systems and were able to call the USS League using their hyper-subspace radio. Nevertheless, every so often a system would fail and would require extra maintenance then normal. It had become a constant headache.

The League was over two months away from them at high warp, but the moment Captain Horatio McCallister had heard what had happened, he had already cut his mission short and had plotted a course to meet up with the Odyssey. Unfortunately Odyssey was unable to help with shortening their journey, the warp drive had become a mess to fix. If it wasn’t an injector needing repairs or the containment field’s integrity failing, then there was something else wrong with it. Since then the Odyssey had remained at the edge of the nebula, waiting for the League. The plan would be for the League’s crew, who had been assigned a team from SCE as part of its mission in the Delta Quadrant, to build a new warp core and replace the one the Odyssey was currently using.The League’s SCE was building it on their way to meeting up with the Odyssey.  Sensors had also been greatly affected and again the entire array would have to be replaced. Jyster’s computer virus had done a number on the Odyssey, all to stop them from chasing after them and attempting a rescue of their missing crew. Nevertheless, Flemen was not going to let their technical problems stop them from trying to track down Jyster and retrieve everyone. 

In the middle of all of this commotion, they had been able to restore communication with Starfleet Command. Rear Admiral Marshall-Bennet had been the one to take the call from the Odyssey. Their former task force commanding officer, who had received a new set of pips into the admiralty and a new job title as the Fourth Fleet’s Chief of Staff, had given Flemen a field promotion to lieutenant commander. Bennet ordered Flemen to assume temporary command of the Odyssey as its acting captain. Flemen was surprised with it all, but had promised the admiral to do his best. In the meantime, Bennet was going to use his influence to see if he could send more ships towards Odyssey’s direction to assist them with their search and rescue efforts. That call had taken place over five weeks ago and they hadn’t heard anything back. 

With his new power as acting captain, Flemen had created a new senior staff using who was left behind. Their ECH, Penelope, was now active all the time (thankfully she wasn’t affected by the virus) and had become his acting first officer. Tierra, who had been pregnant and returned to Odyssey as part of Captain McCallister’s agreement with Jyster, was now acting chief engineer while her wife was acting chief science officer. Lieutenant junior grade Jisaraa, who was a single mother to two young children, had taken over from Lenjir as acting security and tactical chief. They had no hazard teams for her to lead, but the Orion woman had requested for now they didn’t plan any away team missions unless it was necessary. Something that Flemen was quite happy to agree with. Then their acting chief medical officer was their EMH, Doctor Agnes. In fact most of the crew had received new assignments based on their expertise. Some had volunteered to work double shifts each day, while others had also volunteered to look after the many children that were left behind. One thing though that Flemen couldn’t be prouder of was the response they had got from those young people who were all teenagers, all of them including Alfie, his brothers and their friends like Duke, had stepped up to help out wherever they could. Some were working under supervision in departments like engineering, sickbay or helping out with childcare. The only issue he had to deal with was trying to keep crew morale up. Many had believed that Captain McCallister’s actions in negotiating with Jyster the way he did was wrong. Even though they had been safely returned to their younger children, it still had them in a bad situation. Some though were keen on not letting the captain down and were eager to get their lost friends back home. The whole experience had changed them all, nevertheless Flemen was keen on maintaining the strong community that McCallister had built since he took command of the Odyssey almost fourteen years ago. 

That all said, the time waiting for the League to arrive had given them all plenty of time to get into a strong daily routine. It had brought them all closer in that sense. So many of the crew had learnt new skills and were dependent on one another, it had been required of them to ensure the Odyssey survived. Though she was a big ship and had a number of automated systems, those systems still needed to be taken care of and the computer viruses had damaged them in its vicious attack. 

Odyssey had to return to some normality. 

It had to.

One day it would. Flemen just wondered when that day would be.

Two Months of Separation – Part 2

Stardate: 76996

“That’s it for today, thanks everyone. Enjoy your lunch! Class dismissed.” 

Getting up from their picnic benches, the group of teenagers all collected their items and started to make their way away from their outdoor classroom towards the area they used to hang out during their break times. 

Stifling a yawn somewhat, Captain McCallister placed the back of his right hand over his mouth as he collected his own items from where he had set himself up. His notes on his maths lesson were sat on the table at the front of the class. Placing the PADDs he had into the satchel he used, he hadn’t noticed one of his students come up to him and stand close by. Eventually the former captain of the Odyssey looked up and saw he still had an audience. “Jorgeh, you okay?”

“Sorry to disturb you sir, but my…dads…asked me to pass this note on to you.” Jorgeh offered as he passed a folded piece of paper to him. “They said you’d understand it.”

“Sure, thanks.” McCallister said as he took the paper. “Jorgeh, just wanted to say I was impressed with your work today in class. Well done.”

Smirking somewhat nervously, the teenage lad just nodded in appreciation as he started to walk away. He paused halfway and turned back to McCallister. “I need to say something, sir. If that’s okay?”

Holding the folded paper between his arms, McCallister just looked at the youngster with a sense of concern, “Sure Jorgeh, what is it?”

“I know I may get into trouble for saying this with the isomorph that is meant to by my mother, but I want you to know that even though these past two months have been hell for you and everyone else who was taken from the Odyssey and forced to look after all of us,” Jorgeh gestured to the other young people that had been in the class, “for me and my brother plus a number of others, we do appreciate it and we understand how much you want to return home. I’m sorry.”

For the first time in weeks, McCallister found his defence drop somewhat at the sentiment coming from this lad before him. In some ways Jorgeh reminded him of his son Alfie. Kind, caring and compassionate. “Thanks, Jorgeh but we don’t blame any of you for what we find ourselves in. Now go on, get out of here. I hear that you’ve got a swimming competition later, my former chief engineer tells me you’re quite the swimmer. You don’t want to miss practice.”

“Thank you sir.” Jorgeh said as he quickly darted away and across the grass to meet up with the rest of his friends. 

Opening the note, McCallister read what it said: MEET UNDER THE TREE?

Crunching the note up and sticking it in the pocket of his trousers, McCallister pulled his bag over his shoulder, placed his sunglasses on and walked out of school for his secret rendezvous. 

The almost hour hike along the valley to his undisclosed meeting had given McCallister, like it always did, time to reflect on the life he was currently leading. Two months had passed for those who had been kept behind on the Quirennal to care for the young people and children that had come out of stasis. The first few days had been met by a lot of resistance from his crew, especially after Jyster had announced on the third day that there was no way the Odyssey could find them. She had used the ship’s coaxial warp drive to place some significant distance between them and their former ship. She had even stated how she had disabled the Odyssey by planting numerous computer viruses that would prevent their crewmates from being able to attempt a proper rescue. Uproar had ensued over her actions, but McCallister had ordered his crew to stand down and deal with the situation they were now in. It hadn’t gone down well and he was certain their trust in him was badly damaged. Jyster had worked out who would become guardians/parents to the children and young people while others were giving other jobs that supported the running of their new community. Carefully he had been able to get the message around to everyone that they will bide their time and find a way to take over the Quirennal and escape to the Odyssey

Two months in and they still weren’t any further, but each day brought new insights into the ship and it helped McCallister. If anything else the biggest information they had gotten their hands on was the name of the species that Jyster came from and some of their background. Her people were known as the Rylsanti and once led an advanced coalition of galactic powers in a region that was located on the border of the Gamma and Delta quadrants close to the galactic core. They had also gathered that the Rylsanti’s homeworld had been lost over a thousand years ago when an alien species had invaded. Their government made the decision to send as many of their people away from their space in these huge ark like starships to ensure their species survived. It was a noble effort. McCallister had pondered the thought that if the Federation was ever close to falling, would a similar attempt be made by Starfleet for a final stand? 

Though he was not missing wearing his uniform on a daily basis now, McCallister did miss being a proper starship captain. Jyster had decided that she would give him the job of principal of the school that she had created for her children. She wanted McCallister to use his experience from teaching at the academy to give her children the education they were denied while in stasis. Instead of running a bridge, he now found himself having to design and teach a curriculum to a diverse range of ages. Most of the crew were involved with it during the day while others had become stay-at-home parents with the younger children or were undertaking other jobs across the settlement they had created. The entire dynamics of his crew had changed in a matter of weeks. He appreciated that even though there were protests and none of them liked being forced to do this, the crew had stepped up in looking after the Rylsanti youngsters. It was not their fault for the situation they found themselves in. Almost every single one of them was traumatised by what had occurred and they had found the transition just as difficult. Understanding that they were being forced by a hologram to be cared for total strangers was a huge struggle for so many of them. 

Climbing a small hill, an area that had become one of the somewhat unofficial meeting points for the remaining senior staff, McCallister was pleased to see his first officer waiting for him along with his yeoman. Both Duncan and Court had remained loyal to McCallister throughout everything. The two men, who were both sitting on some logs they had previously set up to sit on, smiled at his arrival and stood up to greet him with a brief friendly hug. Before them they had brought some food.  

“Good to see you Capt.” Court said as they had a quick embrace. 

“Likewise Tobie.” McCallister replied after letting go and pulling his first officer into a similar embrace. “How are you both? I feel like it’s been days since we last saw one another.”

“We’re good.” Duncan assured him as they all sat down. “And you?”

“Teaching has kept me busy, your ‘sons’ are both doing well.” McCallister said with a smirk as he took out a bottle of water from his bag and sipped on it. 

Sniggering slightly at the term that McCallister had used to describe the two boys that Duncan and Court had been picked to care for by Jyster, Duncan looked at Court with an almost proud expression at their efforts and back to his commanding officer. “Jorgeh and Wylem are good kids.” He said. “They’ve struggled the most in understanding what has happened. Some of the other kids blame them for Captain Jyster’s actions. They’ve found it hard to disassociate themselves to the isomorphic projection of their birth mother. I found Jorgeh out on the balcony the other night arguing with her for what she has done in forcing all of us together. It was heartbreaking to witness.”

“I bet.” McCallister said, feeling a sense of sadness for the teenager. He wondered if any of his own sons would be the same with him on their return. 

“How’s Karyn?” Court asked almost straight away as he offered some of the food they had brought with them to him.  

McCallister’s back stiffened up at the mention of his wife’s first name as he picked at some of the food on offer. Most of the senior staff were now on a first name basis with one another, something McCallister had suggested. His thinking behind it was two-fold. It was partly to make Jyster think that the crew were slowly transitioning over to their new lives while on the other side reducing the formality among the crew reduced some of the anxiety they had. Seeing that they were all in this together on a somewhat equal footing was important to him. 

“She’s okay.” He answered flatly. 

Both Court and Duncan looked at one another and then back to their captain. Both shared the same concern. Both were worried by his tone.  

“JP, has it got any better between you two?” Duncan asked, using McCallister’s nickname that he allowed only a few of his closest friends to use. In the last two months McCallister had found himself building a stronger friendship with Duncan, Court and Slyvexs the most. As such, he had allowed only them to use his nickname when no-one else was in earshot. 

Shrugging his shoulders, McCallister didn’t know how to answer it as he swallowed what he was eating. “We’re still living in separate beds and she’s not interested in any romantic gestures, but she did make me dinner the other night. The first time in weeks.”

“Small steps.” Court offered in between a mouthful. 

“Yeah, but I need her onboard with us and it’s just so…” McCallister stopped himself from offloading as he reached for something else to eat.  

Realising that he needed to talk about his marriage, Duncan encouraged McCallister to carry on. “James just spill it. We promise we won’t say anything to her.”

Shaking his head as he thought about his words, he eventually carried on. In part he knew both men would continue to insist so it was easier to just give in and share. “It’s just so frustrating. She’s so angry at me for negotiating with Jyster about the rest of us staying. The other week when she started screaming at me again, she told me I should have offered only those who didn’t have children to remain behind with me. It’s my fault our sons could be dead right now is another argument she throws at me. All I can do is sit there and take it. I’ve got no words to say back to her besides I’m sorry and she’s right. And just saying that seems to make things worse.”

“Ouch.” Court stated.

“Harsh.” Duncan added. Without realising it, he had slipped into his old role as a counsellor. “She’s not the only one venting her feelings, but the fact she made you dinner for the first time the other night is a good sign. As Tobie said, small steps. Is she still helping with that farming project being led by Lukiz and Cline?”

“Yeah, she’s even offered to teach a few science lessons at the school. She starts tomorrow.” Duncan answered. 

“Good, at least you’ll have some common ground.” Duncan assured him as he picked up something that looked like a breadstick. “Did you want me or Tobie to talk to her?”

Shaking his head and waving his head, McCallister said no before carrying on with what he selected to eat. “I don’t want to bring my marital problems to the forefront of our plans.”

“Just don’t ignore them James.” Duncan remarked. “Once we get back home, you don’t want it to cause more tension when you’re trying to deal with boys.”

“And knowing your three, they’ll need that time with you both. Together.” Court said with a smirk.

“Yeah, you’re both right.” McCallister agreed. Once again he had that dreaded sense of truly missing his three sons. A sense of guilt flooded over him, something he tried to suppress so much. He then looked at both of his friends and tried to change the subject. “Fatherhood suits you two.”

“As we said, Jorgeh and Wylem are great. They’ve got their challenges but they’re good kids.” Court shared as he took Duncan’s hand into his. “In the last couple of months, we’ve really bonded with them. Max thinks it is some sort of weird version of Stockholm syndrome that we’re all sharing!”

McCallister joined Court and Duncan in an awkward chuckle at that remark. The last two months had drastically changed both of them. Not only had they gone public with their relationship but taking on the two boys had brought a side out of them that McCallister had never seen before. Parenthood definitely suited them. McCallister wondered what type of future they would have together. He just hoped it wasn’t the same one he was currently having with his wife.  

“We’ve said it before, none of these kids deserve to be in this situation.” Duncan said after they calmed down. He looked at McCallister, “it’s why we wanted to see you today. We’ve got an idea we want to suggest.”

“Go on then.” McCallister insisted. 

Court spoke up first, “I had a chat with Tremt the other day and we think we know how to keep CJ busy.”

Keeping his poker face on, McCallister was interested in hearing more of what Court had to say as he used their codename for Captain Jyster. So far she had not said anything to anyone about it. “Go on.”

“You know that argument we mentioned earlier, well he mentioned to me the other night when that was happening some of the crew noticed that certain systems weren’t as fully operational as others, if you catch my gist. When the farm was created it slowed down other things as well.” Court stated. “Do you get what I’m saying?”

“I think so. Are you stating that someone doesn’t have an unlimited ability to be aware of everything when lots of things are happening?” McCallister quizzed.

“We think so.” Duncan confirmed. “We want to test our theory too.”

“How?” McCallister wondered.

“I believe the words we want to remind ourselves with are: ‘Anything that is needed to help the young people, you can have. Just ask’.” Duncan said, quoting Jyster from over two months ago. She had shown her powers by using the ship’s powerful particle synthesisers in creating the many homes for the Odyssey crew and the children they would be caring for. Since then anything they asked for was provided for them. “If we can find a way to increase our wants, our demands then we could test to see how much our benevolent provider is able to supervise.”

“We can only get this to work if we get the message out to everyone to think big with their ideas. Tremt thinks the extra power needed to create more things, obviously for the good of the children, may be enough to have an impact on her programming’s focus to be divided up a lot as well as that he reckons that huge thermionic generator that’s powering all of this would feel the strain.” Court said. 

“And how does this help us?” McCallister wondered.

“Cline shared that the secret entrance that Keli and the others from the hazard team had encountered when they first boarded was noticeable the same night Jorgeh had his meltdown. If we can distract CJ long enough, a small team might be able to gain access to other places.” Court shared. Again he remained coy in what he was saying. 

Considering the idea for a moment, McCallister nodded with his approval. “If we do this, then it’s going to require a lot of planning and a lot of secrecy. I don’t want anyone getting harmed from this.”

“Leave it with us, we’ll see what we can do.” Duncan offered. “That said though James, there is one more thing Tobie and I want to discuss.”

McCallister insisted that his friends continued to share their thoughts. “Go ahead.”

Again both men looked at one another before Court spoke for them both. “Bring the children with us back to the Odyssey.”

Surprised to hear that, McCallister was taken back by it. “What do you mean?”

“If we get CJ in a certain position, we know her way of thinking is always about putting the wellbeing of the children first.” Duncan shared. “If we agree to take them all with us and care for them on the Odyssey then it may go a long way to getting us out of here.”

“Do you think the others would go for it?” McCallister quizzed them. 

“We’ve spoken about it,” Duncan said, looking at Court in a loving way before returning his focus back to McCallister, “and we want the boys to remain with us. We know others feel the same way, like T’Rani and Samris. In some ways James, what’s happened to us here has only extended the family you built originally on the Odyssey crew. Those of us who didn’t have children before feel differently and we know that some who were parents before are adamant in protecting those who have been placed with them. Samris said his time in supporting so many of our crew to adjust to becoming parents overnight has reduced a lot over the last few weeks. People are getting used to the situation, and I don’t think they would want to leave these kids behind. If they came back to Odyssey with us then we’d be giving them the future they deserve and a chance to keep their people’s memories alive, the right way.”

Considering the idea further, McCallister stood up and placed his hands on his hips. “You want to take over a thousand young people onto the Odyssey?”

“The ship’s emergency capacity is for an extra twenty-thousand. The ship could easily manage it.” Court added.

“Tobie, I’m not just thinking about how much room we would need but also about the children we left behind whose parents are still here. How would they react to it all?” McCallister questioned. “I agree with the idea in principle, but there’s so many ramifications to consider.”

“James, I think you’re not giving yourself and the crew you’ve built enough credit for what they could do. Our ship helped take in thousands of Romulan refugees when Hobus destroyed Romulus. Our ship recently endured the bloodiest battle since its launch over thirteen years ago and our young people thrived. They’ve shown their passion for exploring this vastly unknown quadrant and I am certain when we return, we will find them all in one shape after working together ready for us to come home.” Duncan stated with a strong conviction in his voice.

“I hope so too, because if not all of the work we put in for the last thirteen years would be for nothing but I can’t make a decision on a hopeful whim.” McCallister returned back with. 

“Then let’s talk to those who are with us now and see what they think. Let’s make this a collective decision.” Court proposed. “That way together we can work on everything, including any ramifications for when we return home.”

Nodding in agreement, McCallister suggested they finish their chat there and head back to the settlement and begin putting their ideas together and starting the work to get themselves off the Quirennal and back to the Odyssey.     

The Apple Of Our Eye

Stardate: 76996.8

Tomaz gently and carefully closed the door behind him and crept slowly down the small corridor outwards the living area. The moment he crossed the threshold and felt he was in the safe zone, he walked normal and stopped tiptoeing. 

The Barzan sighed carefully as he smirked at his guests waiting for him to rejoin their company. Sitting on one of the grey sofas was Samris and perched on one of the armchairs was T’Rani. 

“Sorry about that guys.” Tomaz apologised as he sat down on the sofa besides his friend Samris. “Jeddie never sleeps through the night. I’m sure now he is down with Mexie it may help.”

Waving off the excuse, showing they weren’t bothered by the inconvenience, Samris told his friend not to worry. “It’s just nice to get out for once.”

“Agreed.” T’Rani added. 

“It’s nice to have some adult company.” Tomaz included. “The last two months have been strange.”

“That’s an understatement, Tomaz.” Samris replied. He leant forward and picked up the glass of kali-fal that Tomaz’s synthesiser had created for him earlier that night. The aroma hit him and his nostrils flared up in reaction. “Hmm.” He responded with. “I really do keep forgetting this is not the real thing.” 

Tomaz and T’Rani looked at one another and then on to Samris, both curious as to what he meant by that statement. Realising they were looking at him for further clarity he went on to explain how his parents had enjoyed the drink at gatherings and knew that real kali-fal, a fine Romulan alcoholic beverage, should forcibly open one’s sinuses well before the first sip. “This place can trick you into a false sense of security.”

“You’ll get no dispute from me about it.” Tomaz said as he reached for his glass of Saurian brandy.

Samris looked at his friend, “Fatherhood suits you.”

“As it does to you.” Tomaz returned and he looked at T’Rani, “the same goes to you for motherhood.”

“Thank you lieutenant.” T’Rani said in an almost formal tone. “It is odd that I have heard that phrase used more than two hundred and forty seven times since our abduction and forced guardianship of the Quierennal children.” 

“It’s not as if we had much of a choice in the matter, T’Rani.” Samris said as he placed his drink down. “Captain Jyster forced the situation upon us and the captain didn’t have much choice in the matter.”

“Indeed.” She responded in her normal curtly Vulcan manner.

“Have either of you guys seen or heard from him lately?” Tomaz pondered. 

Shaking his head, Samris replied. “Not directly. We’ve seen glimpses of him at the school when we’ve taken the kids to and from there. You?” 

“The same.” Tomaz answered. “I just wished we knew if something was going to happen to get us back to Odyssey.” He had lowered his voice as he spoke. “That said, getting to know Jeddie and spending time with him, well it’s made being stuck here a lot more easier to cope with.”

“I concur with your assessment.” T’Rani shared. “If it was not for Mexie and the girls, this whole situation would be much more difficult to manage.” 

It had been weird for all three of them. T’Rani and Samris had become co-parents of a sibling group of two girls and a boy while Tomaz was now a single father of a six year old boy. Luckily for him, the accommodation that Jyster had created for the Odyssey crew to stay in, she had placed him as a neighbour to the Romulan and Vulcan couple. Plus his “son”, Jeddie, was the same age as their eldest “son” Mexie. As a result in the last few weeks they had planned a number of play dates to support one another. Samris had thought his training as a counsellor would have helped him be prepared for parenthood, which was far from it, so he was learning it all by rope just as much as T’Rani and Tomaz were. All four children had found it quite difficult to deal with the situation they all found themselves in. All three adults had found it just as difficult too. 

“I saw Max and Tobie earlier today.” Samris explained. 

“Oh? And how are our first officer and senior chief doing with their adventure in dealing with adolescent dramas?” Tomaz enquired. 

Chuckling a bit as he recalled the conversation he had with their superiors, Samris stated that they were fine. “From the sounds of it the sons of Captain Jyster are quite easy to get along with.” 

“And I thought we pulled the easy assignments with our lot.” Tomaz commented. “What else did they say?”

“Max is still pushing on his idea that we are all going to, if we’re not already, suffer from a version of a human mental condition called Stockholm Syndrome.” Samris answered. “Basically how we perceive our captor in a different but more favourable light.”

“I do not believe many of the crew would place Captain Jyster in that category.” T’Rani countered back with.

“It’s more to do with the relationships being forced upon us with the children with the fact we are trapped in this situation where all of our needs are being met without significant harm being caused to us. We’re not chained up or being tortured as such.” Samris said. “I get where Max is thinking.”

“Really?” Tomaz questioned. “Do you honestly think none of us would have stepped up to look after these children if things were a bit different?”

Samris was taken back a bit by his friend’s question. “How so?” He challenged.

Tomaz took a moment to take a breath before answering. “Let’s say for instance, that Captain Jyster hadn’t captured us all. Instead Captain McCallister had negotiated with her an agreement where we would bring the children out of their stasis chambers and brought them back to Odyssey for treatment and care. Even if that had happened, I’m certain the crew would still have stepped up to the mark to look after these children. With that many alien children on the ship, regulation would have forced the captain to turn the Odyssey around and head back home. We would have been back in the Alpha Quadrant and passing them over to the Federation Displaced Person’s Agency and into proper foster homes by now.”

“That does sound like a logical chain of events.” T’Rani said, “it may still happen.”

Samris agreed with her before turning back to his friend. “You almost sound like you resent having Jeddie with you?”

Shaking his head and taking a sip from his brandy. “Not one bit, that kid makes me laugh so much and I’ve found myself enjoying having him around. I just wish we had met under better circumstances and that if I get the chance to see him grow up, I genuinely hope that he doesn’t resent me because of the situation we were forced into.”

“I get that.” Samris agreed. “This whole situation makes me think back to when I was placed in a refugee camp on Draken Four with my family. For a long time we had no idea what was happening, where our next meal was coming from and who to trust. It was unnerving.”

T’Rani stood and made her way over to sit next to Samris. She knew how difficult it was for him to share his past experiences of the Romulan relocation. Taking his hand into hers, she assured him. “Having that experience will give you the strength to ensure these young people we are caring for know they can trust us, even if we can’t be in control of what was going to happen next.”

“Absolutely.” Tomaz agreed, raising his glass to show unity in T’Rani’s comment. 

Samris showed his appreciation with a smile to her and to Tomaz as he squeezed T’Rani’s hand back. “Thanks guys.” He added. “Anyway, I was saying about my chat with Max and Tobie. They said we should try and request more items to help the children feel more settled.”

“How come?” Tomaz asked.

“They didn’t say why, it was just something they were encouraging everyone to do. Tobie said to think big as well, especially as the Quirennal is powerful. So I was going to say if we could use it’s particle synthesizers to create a beach resort along with a huge pool. What do you think? I used to live by the Apnex Sea on Romulus, my parents used to take me to the beach almost everyday. We did so much there, especially in the hot summer. We could make it a big event for everyone.”

Tomaz considered the idea. “It’d be nice to see everyone again. Do you think people are going to want to party?”

“Max said he wanted to get everyone together soon. Why can’t it be this?” Samris wondered. 

“Unifying the crew along with the youngsters may have its benefits.” T’Rani offered. 

Agreeing that the idea sounded like a decent plan, the three officers spent the rest of their evening putting ideas together. They listed what they could do and who they could get involved in helping. If anything, for now they knew bringing the crew together would build a lot of broken bridges where people had been forced away from one another to deal with the situation they were forced into on the Quirennal. And if there was something that Samris knew, he knew that when he was on Draken Four, the time his people didn’t feel like aliens on a stranger’s planet was when they got together for some big event. His parents were normally the ones organising it, so it felt right for him to suggest this. 

The Cavalry Finally Arrives

USS Odyssey (NCC-80000), Gradin Belt, Delta-Beta Quadrants Border
Stardate: 76996.8

The transporter pattern finished its cycle and the appearance of a tallish human man wearing a captain’s red uniform appeared before them all. 

“Captain on deck!” announced Penelope in a formal stern tone, which automatically made everyone who was there in a Starfleet uniform stand to attention. The welcoming party wasn’t that large, along with the ship’s ECH/acting first officer was Lieutenant Commander Flemen, the three McCallister boys and Lieutenant Tierra. Tierra was operating the transporter controls; the ship was low on the number of engineers it had, so the acting chief was filling in for now.  

Making his way off the platform, carrying the same friendly and calm approach like his older brother, Captain Horatio McCallister made his way over to Flemen with a familiar smile. Instantly he extended his right hand towards Odyssey’s acting captain and kept to the old traditions that had been a part of Starfleet since its inception, for when a fellow officer boarded another ship. “Permission to come aboard, captain?” He requested.

Welcoming their visitor with a similar warm grin, Flemen shook McCallister’s hand. “Permission granted, sir, welcome to the Odyssey.”

Horatio McCallister did not share in his older brother’s blonde locks, instead he had darker short hair. It was clear that his past experience as a highly decorated undercover field agent for Starfleet Intelligence had left its toll due to the amount of grey and silver hairs that now highlighted his full head of hair. However, he did share the same McCallister chiselled strong chin line that Odyssey’s captain had. Unlike his brother though, Horatio had dark brown eyes that almost looked pure black, one would mistake him for being Betazoid. That said he also resembled his brother by his stubbly light brown beard, again some parts were almost white. Overall his entire demeanour came across as strong and the confidence he carried as an experienced officer was present. 

Flemen had heard from the captain’s nephew earlier that day about how his father and uncle had only recently reconciled their difference. After digging somewhat in the Starfleet database, Flemen was able to use his current clearance as acting captain to find out about Horatio McCallister’s career (the parts that weren’t classified). Though he had gone through the academy and his career was meant to be just as prosperous as his older brothers, Horatio had taken a different direction. A staged backstory of him betraying Starfleet and joining the Maquis in the early 2370s had given him the chance to be seen as a rogue and even though he had been arrested by Flemen’s commanding officer, back when James Preston McCallister was the operations manager on board the USS Audacious, Horatio McCallister’s cover story of going to prison had been altered by Starfleet Intelligence and he had gone on to become one of their many greatest assets during the Dominion War and later on in many other situations that required an experienced spy to aid the Federation. His ties to Starfleet Intelligence had been eventually dropped a few months ago, prior to Odyssey’s departure from Earth and Horatio had been promoted to captain and given his first command: the USS League. One of the original Intrepid-class ships built during the early 2370s, its previous captain who was McCallsiter’s other sister-in-law, had retired from the service to take care of the older McCallister brother (Captain Conrad McCallister) who had come down with a terminal illness. Captain Laura McCallister had known about Horatio’s past and from what else Flemen had learnt, she had helped retrieve him from several of his missions and had gone on to ask Starfleet to grant him command of the ship she had served on for most of her career. Pulling one more favour with the admiralty, her request had been accepted and Horatio was given the League. After the ship had received numerous upgrades, it too had entered the Delta Quadrant a few weeks after Odyssey and McCallister had followed his brother’s footsteps in leading Starfleet’s efforts in exploring the Gradin Belt. 

After finishing his handshake with Odyssey’s acting captain, McCallister looked around the room and was impressed instantly at how much larger the transporter room was compared to the one he was used to on board his ship. “I’ve got to admit, I was hoping my first time on my brother’s ship he would be my guide.” He looked down the line and his eyes fell on his nephews straight away. “I suppose your dad won’t mind me poking around without him for now though?”

All three McCallister boys chuckled at their younger uncle and moved across the room to greet him. 

“Good to see you Uncle H.” Henri said with a brief hug which was followed by similar sentiments from Theo. 

“Likewise fellas.” McCallister said and then he looked at his other nephew who had remained almost formal before him. Wearing his acting ensign uniform with pride, McCallister could see his older brother in Alfie in the way he stood. “At ease Ensign McCallister.” He commanded. “And come give your uncle a hug, that’s an order.” He insisted 

Alfie relaxed with a sort of sigh as he followed orders and embraced his uncle. “Thanks for coming.” He said after letting go of his uncle. 

“I wasn’t going to leave you guys out here in the middle of no-where.” McCallister assured him and then looked back to Flemen. “We’ve got a lot to do here and my crew are eager to help out as best as they can.”

“We appreciate that, sir.” Flemen replied. He turned to his acting first officer and introduced her to him. “Captain McCallister, this is Penelope. Odyssey’s Emergency Command Hologram and my current acting first officer.”

Extending his hand to greet her, McCallister put on some charm as he spoke. “I’ve heard from my brother that you’re one of the finest ECHs he has ever had.”

“I have similar sentiments for our Captain McCallister.” Penelope replied as she shook his hand. 

“Maybe once this is all over you’d like to transfer over to an old Intrepid-class and take on the challenges there?” McCallsiter offered.

Chuckling somewhat at his recruitment attempt, Penelope turned the offer down with a simple shake of her head. “I was designed for the Odyssey, wherever she goes, I go I’m afraid sir.”

“Damn, seems like I should request a transfer myself then.” He said and gave her a wink. He turned to Flemen. “My S.C.E. team has finished building your new warp drive, but before we install it I think we should make sure this computer virus is completely removed. I would hate for us to be in mid-rescue and the Odyssey was disabled.”

“I agree, and on that note let me introduce you to our acting chief engineer, Lieutenant Tierra.” Flemen said, turning to the Deltan woman who stood behind the transporter controls. 

Walking down the raised area and shaking McCallister’s hand, Tierra greeted the captain in a similar fashion like the others had. “I have to say captain, I will be grateful for any more engineers you can spare. My engineering department is a skeleton crew and every pair of extra hands you can lend us would be great. My only concern I have is we don’t know if we can prevent how Captain Jyster originally infected our systems. In fact my team have not had the chance to even look at countermeasures. ”

“My engineers have covered that as well. They’ve been studying the virus on our way here as well and have developed some countermeasures. We’ve already installed and tested them on the League, so we can get them put in on Odyssey as well.” McCallister informed her. 

Hearing that news appeared to ease Tierra somewhat and made Flemen smile more as he looked at his chief engineer and Penelope with a sense of hope. “That’s great to hear, captain.” He said, sounding relieved. “Then if that’s the case my Cetacean Ops think tank believes they have worked out how we can trace the Quirennal.”

“That’s good news, as I’ve spoken to our Turei allies and they’ve given me a map of their underspace in this area. It may help us cover longer distances in a lot shorter amount of time.” McCallister shared. 

“Even better. Shall we head down to Cetacean Ops now?” Flemen offered.

“Lead the way.” McCallister insisted before he turned to his three nephews. “It’d be great if we can catch up tonight lads, once I’m finished here fancy grabbing dinner?”

Alfie, Theo and Henri all looked at one another and then back to their uncle and agreed to his proposal. 

“Come over to ours tonight Uncle H.” Henri offered. 

“Yeah, we’ll cook you something.” Theo added.

Agreeing to the suggestion, McCallister wished his nephew’s bye as he left the room with Flemen and Penelope either side of him. 

Henri and Theo both looked at Alfie, who had crossed his arms against his chest. Straight away he knew what they were going to ask. “Yes, it’s fine. I’ll cook!” He said after a big sigh. 

“That was the best lasagne I’ve had in a long time.” Horatio McCallister exclaimed as he breathed out and patted his stomach. Raising his glass of water he toasted towards his cook. “My compliments to the chef!” 

Alfie smiled in appreciation for his uncle’s sentiment as he placed the dirty plates and other cookware into the recycler and activated the replicator. “Mom and dad insist we eat a real made meal more than we do replicated. I think it’s why dad insisted on the kitchen being installed.” The young McCallister pointed towards the area of their quarters where the kitchen was placed and had become a focal point for them when guests were over. 

Sat around the long rectangular table beside the kitchen, Horatio had joined his nephews after his briefing with Flemen in cetacean ops. Henri had sat at the head of the table, the spot his mother normally took while everyone else sat on either side. 

“So Uncle H, Alf was saying that the think tank in Cetacean Ops has worked out a way to track the Quirennal. Something about following their footprints?” Theo quizzed.

Nodding to confirm the premise his nephew was trying to understand, Horatio poured himself another glass of ice water from the jug that was sat on the table. He went on to pour for his nephews as he elaborated the idea further. “It’s actually fascinating what they’ve worked out. The moment the Quirennal activated it’s coaxial warp drive, due it’s large size it made a distinctive subspace distortion as it folded space around itself to travel at higher speeds.” 

“So a subspace footprint then?” Henri checked for clarity.

“In layman’s terms, yes.” Horatio confirmed. “Due to the particles used in their coaxial distortion fold drive it also shows us the heading, thus allowing us to be able to work out which way they went and how far.”

“So we know where mom and dad are?” Theo asked, sounding somewhat hopeful. 

“We’ll we know where the Quirennal went. We may find that on their first use of their drive they could have entered normal space and then used the drive again or they are there far from us. Either way we’ll know where they’ve been. Plus with access to the Turei underspace we can travel a lot further in less time to these points. Once the repairs to Odyssey are complete then we will be underway.” Horatio shared. 

“And you think we can rescue them? Even though the Quirennal is a lot bigger and powerful!” Henri checked. “Can both the League and Odyssey survive a battle with the Quirennal?”

Chuckling somewhat as he sipped on his water, Horatio sat up straight. “My plan isn’t to go in phasers blazing everywhere. General Sun Tzu once said, ‘pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance’. Well in this case I won’t need to pretend inferiority but I will certainly be encouraging Captain Jyster’s arrogance.”

“How?” Alfie wondered as he returned back to the table and sat down next to his uncle. 

“The hologram of Captain Jyster was able to overwhelm the Odyssey through her use of her superior technology. I plan to use it against her and use some of the most basic tactics to overwhelm her while making her think she has the upperhand.” Horatio answered without revealing too much of his plan. “Now, enough of you guys worrying about how I’ll get your folks home. Tell me how things have been here for the last two months.”

Alfie, Henri and Theo looked at one another for a moment, exchanging a mixture of looks of ‘who goes first’ as well as ‘where do we start’? 

Eventually Henri spoke up first, “It’s not been great to be honest. Whatever dad did with his negotiations with Captain Jyster has caused some hostility with those on the crew who were returned to care for the much younger children.”

“Have you guys been receiving the backlash of that?” Horatio checked as he listened intently to what Theo had just shared. His body language had shifted to show he wasn’t happy to hear how they may have been treated. 

“Yeah, it’s been easier to keep our heads down and avoid being noticed too much.” Theo remarked. 

“Initially, we tried to help in rallying our friends who were close to our age to help out as best as we can but everything got thrown back in our faces when it came out that dad had purposefully made the decision that any of the adults who had no children or their children were old enough to look after themselves were to stay on the Quirennal. All of a sudden overnight a good number of our friends didn’t want to know us as they didn’t like what dad had decided on. Commander Flemen stepped in to help out and explained that dad had to make a decision that ensured we all survived. It didn’t help that much.” 

“I’m sorry to hear that guys. I really am.” Horatio shared. “This is a difficult situation you’ve all had to deal with, and there’s not going to be enough words I can say that will help with what’s happened here, but I will tell you three this. Your father has been a starship captain for a long time, if he must have seen that Captain Jyster had the upper hand on him and that was going to be no way he could ensure everyone got back home. From the sounds of it, your dad was placed into his own no-win scenario at that point of time. If he could have negotiated a better deal at that point in time, he would have. But when everything is stacked up against you, if you can make one small move that will help out in the long term, then if you can take it then you take it. That’s what your dad did here.”

“We get that Uncle H, we really do.” Henri stated back. “Besides some of the acting senior staff and the ship’s holographic crew, no one else sees it that way.”

“That’s because none of them have had to be in such a difficult decision before. When you’re a Starfleet captain you make life changing decisions everyday. Your father made the choice to preserve everyone’s lives, by returning those he negotiated for, made sure all of you left on Odyssey had a fighting chance and ensured that eventually we would be able to rescue the rest. Now people may not like that, but at the end of the day those who are Starfleet officers need to follow the captain’s orders. Once we get them all back home, if they still don’t agree they’ve got two decisions. Resign from Starfleet or carry-on, because I can tell you now there will be many other captains and admirals out there that won’t accept officers who believe they know better than someone who is a seasoned and experienced starship captain like your father. Do you honestly believe that their objections would hold up against any formal inquiry? Starfleet JAG will laugh their cases back and I’ve already spoken to a few of the brass back home. None of them could fault your father for his decision. Rear Admiral Bennet himself told me that he thought your father was lucky to be able to negotiate a concession in such extreme circumstances. The admiral didn’t think many others would be able to do that, so he included himself in that list too.” Horatio said. “Whatever happens on their return, your father will be fine.”

“And mom?” Theo wondered. 

“Your mom is most likely working with your dad to make a plan to get everyone home. It’s another part of my plan that I’m depending on. Your dad intentionally sent Commander Flemen back with a message that only you guys could work out what he meant by calling me in. Both of your folks are clever enough to bide their time and come up with a plan that would get them and everyone out of their way. Your father somehow wanted me to come in to help, my guess is that both of them knew that the League had a SCE team and that you’ll need access to them to deal with Jyster and her advanced technology. So whatever their plans, we need to get them out sooner rather than later. Do you honestly believe your mom would let you guys be left at home alone any longer? She’d be pulling her hair out worrying about you all, as much as your dad will be.” Horatio answered his nephew with an assuring smile. “Now, do you guys want to remain here on Odyssey or come back with me to the League? If you want a break, you can stay in the guest quarters until your folks are back.”

Again the three McCallister boys all looked at one another, almost using their triplet telepathy (not that they were telepathic but they were able to read one another well enough), they all knew the answer. 

Speaking up for them, Alfie declined their uncle’s offer. “No, we need to remain here and defend dad and mom’s honour.”

Smiling at them all, Horatio could see just how much they were like his brother and sister-in-law in so many ways. “Fine, but if you need anything you call me. Agreed?”

They all agreed to his offer and Horatio spent the rest of the evening getting to know his teenage nephew a bit more.  

By The Flickering Of Lights

Stardate: 76999.4

Jorgeh was lying back on his bed in his room, glaring up at the sky light window on the evening’s fake sunset. Hands behind his head, he remained there rested against them wondering just how much that was around was a forgery. Since coming out of the stasis chambers over two months ago, he had not felt himself entirely. Almost as bogus as the room, the house and the whole situation he found himself in. It was not like the way it was before. The Quirennal had been a ship filled with people he knew. Nothing was a fraud and the biggest one, his mother, was what got under his skin the most. He couldn’t blame the Odyssey crew for what they were being forced into. In fact, he felt for them and appreciated the efforts made by Max and Tobi, his ‘adopted’ fathers, for going out of their way to make both him and his brother feel at ease with them. In the past two months he had grown to like the two of them a lot. He had time for them and when he found it hard to deal with the isomorphic projection that ran this prison they were all in, he found it easier to talk to either Max or Tobi about it. 

Looking over to the side of his room, he saw a picture that they had taken of the four of them on what his fathers had called a ‘camping trip’. Sleeping in a shelter they had called a ‘tent’ had been a brand new experience for him and his brother Wylem. His adopted fathers had taken the picture of them all sitting around what was called a ‘campfire’. Smiling at the memory, Jorgeh had enjoyed that time, it was one of the few recent nicer moments he had experienced. Even though they had certain freedoms, Jorgeh still felt trapped. Though only he and Wylem had expressed similar feelings. His other friends that had come out of stasis with them, all had said they were glad to be out and no issue with what the holographic version of mother had imposed upon them. None of them thought it was wrong that the crew of the Odyssey had been made prisoners and forced to raise them. None of them found it awkward to sit in on a class with Captain McCallister and see how that man hid his frustration at not being on his own ship. Jorgeh had overheard his fathers talk about the fact that the captain had his own sons, almost the same age as himself, back on the Odyssey. Tobi was their ‘godfather’, Jorgeh hadn’t understood what that was but understood it was like a back-up parent for Captain McCallister and Commander Reyas. After hearing that, Jorgeh had wondered how McCallister’s sons were dealing with not having their parents around. It made him feel guilty of what was happening on the Quirrenall

A knock on the door and he looked over to see Max standing wearing a brightly coloured pair of blue shorts, a white shirt and what looked like flowers around his neck. “Jorgeh, you ready for tonight? We’re leaving in about ten minutes.” Max then paused and noticed the mood his adopted son was in. “You okay big man?”

Sitting up and ignoring the nickname that Max had given him, just because he saw the funny side once at the fact he was taller than his brother, Jorgeh looked over at him. “Yeah.” He said in a distant sort of way.

Stepping through the threshold, Max made his way in and closed the door behind him. “What’s up?”

Rolling his eyes as he didn’t really want to talk about it, but he found himself always opening up to Max about things, Jorgeh sighed at first in response. “I’m just getting frustrated with everything and everyone.”

“How come?” Max asked as he sat on the edge of Jorgeh’s bed. 

“I don’t really mean everyone, it’s just I’m annoyed that none of my friends see the wrong that is happening here.” Jorgeh exclaimed. “I don’t want to go to this party tonight and see any of them. Plus that abomination keeps bugging me or Wylem, wherever we go. It just annoys me.” 

Nodding to show he empathised with Jorgeh, Max did his best to counsel the teenager. He knew that by using the term abomination he meant the hologram of his mother. Almost everyday since they had moved in with Tobi and Max, Captain Jyster would check in on her sons. Lately it was becoming too much for either Jorgeh or Wylem to deal with. “That’s understandable.” Max replied. “But no-one is making you have to hang out with any of your friends. Unfortunately, I can’t control when your mother appears.”

“I wish you could.” Jorgeh mumbled. He looked up at Max. “I ended up screaming at her today on my way home from class. I completely lost it.”

Max got a bit closer to Jorgeh and rubbed the side of his arm, offering him the comfort he needed. “I’m sorry to hear that Jorgeh. How did you feel afterwards?”

“Awful for screaming at her, because I know it’s not really her and that my actual mother has been dead for a long time. However at the same time it’s what’s left of my mother. That’s the confusing thing, still. That said, it felt good to get it off my chest.” He admitted.

“It’s okay to feel all of that.” Max assured him. “Listen, I know things don’t seem great right now but tonight’s event is important for everyone. Can you at least come and spend some time with me, Tobi and your brother?”

Considering the request for a second, Jorgeh just nodded. “Sure, but do I need to wear such brightly coloured attire?”

Nodding in affirmation, Max briefed his son on the traditions of the lūʻau and ended up using the particle synthesiser to create a similar elaborate and colourful outfit for him. “There’s going to be plenty of food, drink and music. Everyone is coming, so there’s plenty of other people you can mingle with.”

“True.” Jorgeh agreed as he looked over at the shirt that Max had made for him. It was bright pink and the shorts he had were white with a pattern on them that looked like a piece of fruit. “Is Wylem wearing something just as embarrassing?”

“No,” Max said initially as he started to make his way out of Jorgeh’s bedroom. “He’s wearing something a lot worse as Tobi picked it out for him.” He added as left. 

Jorgeh chuckled and got changed, hoping that this event was worth the distraction he needed.

Impressed at how quickly everything had come together, Doctor Slyvexs walked into the lūʻau where a tropical themed dressed arm-in-arm with her husband. Mettex wore a similar style of shirt with long beige trousers. Enjoying the atmosphere that was being created by those who had turned up, so far, the sound of music in the background along with the various fire pits and the intense smell of food being caught out in the open brought a smile on to the doctor’s face. 

“I can’t remember the last time I saw everyone almost enjoying themselves.” Mettex stated as they moved through the crowd and were welcomed by a number of people they passed. 

Saying hello back to everyone she passed, Slyvexs agreed with her husband. “Indeed, it is nice to see.”

Heading towards a small area besides the large pool and artificially created beach that had been synthesised, the two Denobulans approached Counsellor Samris and Lieutenant Commander T’Rani. The two of them, who had orchestrated the whole event along with Lieutenant Tomaz, were congregated by a table that had a number of drinks and empty plates on it. Impressed to see T’Rani wearing a long navy blue sarong and a garland of flowers around her neck like her fellow crewmates, Slyvexs caught their attention. 

“Congratulations to you all with your efforts. It looks like tonight is a hit!” Slyvexs commented as she looked down at the huge pool that had people in it, a mixture of the Odyssey crew along with the young people they now cared for. 

Appreciating the support, Samris thanked the doctor for her compliment. “We’re happy with how it’s going.”

“The captain agreed with Counsellor Samris’ assessment that a huge social event would assist with our unification efforts with the Rylsanti youngsters.” T’Rani added.

Suppressing her smirk with T’Rani’s statement, Slyvex looked at the pilot. “T’Rani, this isn’t a diplomatic gathering to have the Romulan civilisation move back home to Vulcan.”

“Nevertheless my dear, T’Rani’s sentiment about closing the bridge between the Odyssey crew and those they now care for is essential if we are going to survive this.” Mettex said. “Talking of those we are caring for, where are your two youngsters?”

Samris gestured with a nod towards the large swimming pool behind them. “Tomaz has taken them all swimming with Jeddie, his son.” 

Turning around, Slyvexs noticed Tomaz in the water playing with a group of children she recognised as those assigned to him as well as T’Rani and Tomaz. “He’s a natural father. He reminds me so much of how you were Mettex.”

Mettex smiled at that tribute, “Ah to be a young father again.” He said. “Shall we get some food?”

“Sounds good.” Slyvexs said as they said goodbye to Samris and T’Rani to head over to the area where all of the food was being prepared by isomorphic waiters. 

On the other side of the pool, Tremt Hunsen was enjoying a very sweet drink out of a coconut, something he had never experienced before. Sensing someone approaching him from behind, he turned around and saw Lieutenant Keli. Like many others, she wore a sarong around her hips and was wearing a low cut top around her chest. Both items were made from the same dark blue material and had a flowery pattern on them. 

“Keli, a pleasure to see you.” Hunsen said to her. 

“Likewise Tremt.” She said, with a drink in one hand. Looking around the event, she noticed how busy everyone was. “Shall we go find our friends and join them?” 

Acting almost as a careful as he looked around them, Hunsen eventually looked at her and nodded. “Indeed. I’ve not seen Cline or Lukiz in a long time.”

“I believe they have a table on the beach.” Keli shared.

Walking carefully through the crowds, the chief engineer and assistant security chief passed several colleagues and youngsters all enjoying themselves. 

Keeping her voice low, Keli spoke. “The flickering of the lights look extra special tonight, they started only about an hour ago.”

Understanding what she was insinuating, Hunsen nodded in agreement. As they walked onto the beach area, they caught the chief operations officer and chief security and tactical officer both enjoying some food. 

“Hey you two.” Hunsen said in a friendly manner. “How’s your evening going?”

“Going to plan.” Lenjir answered, looking up at the chief engineer. “Isn’t the flickering of the lights looking extra special tonight?”

Smirking at the phrase, Hunsen looked at Keli, who also looked back at him, and then back to the Tiburonian man. “It’s funny you say that, Keli said the same thing earlier.”

Picking up on the hint, Jen looked up from the plate of food he was consuming. “That is funny. Cline and I were just about to take a walk, do you guys fancy joining us?”

“I’d love to.” Keli answered.

“Count me in.” Hunsen added. 

The four colleagues all left the beach and headed towards the event and as they passed through the crowds they passed Captain McCallister and Commander Reyas, both of whom were dancing to the music currently being played. 

Noticing the four of them swept by them, McCallister looked at his wife and smiled at her. Reyas paused as she clocked the group’s movement and carried on dancing with her husband. Wearing a long tight white cocktail dress, with various flowers on it, the chief science officer continued to move to the sound of the party music. Placing her hands around her husband’s neck she pulled him in closer. 

“I’m parched, shall we go to the bar?” She whispered in his ear.

Nodding to her, McCallister took one more look as he watched the four go off before returning his attention back to his wife. Reyas had taken his hand into hers and led him towards the bar area. This whole moment gave him cause for concern, especially with what they were up to. In his own thoughts he was hoping what they were undertaking would help. On the other side of his thoughts was how he was trying to cope with how much his wife was acting tonight. It was critical to what they were up to for them both to keep up appearance. She had understood the plan when she had been brought into the fold by Max and Tobi, then privately she had told her husband that she would do whatever it took to see their sons. However she had not spoken about where it left their relationship. 

As they walked past the pool, Reyas appeared to almost lose her footing as the particle synthesiser projector that was being used to create the pool seemed to have vibrated in the area she was walking across. As it disappeared for a small second, she lost her balance and went straight into the pool. Holding her hand tightly, McCallister fell in after her. The whole commutation caught everyone’s attention as they swam back to the top of the pool’s surface. Everyone had gone silent and were looking at them. Looking at them and everyone else, the couple both burst out laughing as they looked at one another. Everyone then just got on with enjoying the party. 

Swimming across the pool, both of them were approached by Tomaz, “Captain, Commander, are you both okay?”

Still chuckling somewhat, Reyas answered for them both. “We’re fine thanks Tomaz. I lost my balance on the edge of the pool. I was too bothered by the flickering of the lights.”

Tomaz, picking up on the codeword, nodded in agreement with his superior. “Indeed, it is something extra special, isn’t it?”

“It certainly is, lieutenant.” McCallister said as they reached the side and he wiped his wet face with his wet hand. The action didn’t help much but allowed for the captain to see a bit clearer. 

“Come over to our table,” Tomaz offered to the couple as he started to climb out of the pool while gesturing towards Jeddie and the other children to climb out for a moment. “We’ve got towels over there you can use.” 

“Lead the way, Tomaz.” McCallister insisted.

Following Tomaz, who was just in a pair of orange swimming shorts, over to where he was based with T’Rani and Samris, the Barzan man walked over and handed several towels over to both McCallister and Reyas. Tomaz placed a towel around his own hip as he explained to the others what had happened. 

“Are you okay, sir?” T’Rani asked, with concern after turning her attention from Tomaz to the captain. 

“Absolutely.” McCallister replied as he dried his hair, making it go fluffy. 

Looking over at her husband, whose dark red Hawaiian shirt was soaked through as were the white shorts he had on, Reyas placed the towel she had over her shoulders. “James, we can’t stay here looking like this. We should head back to our place, get dried and changed.”

Glancing back at her, McCallister chuckled somewhat. “You’re right honey. We should head back.”

“Are you going to come back?” Samris asked. 

“We’ll be back as soon as we can.” McCallister promised as he and Reyas walked away, heading back to their apartment. 

“And that’s all he said about it?” Court questioned Duncan from where they sat on the edge of the pool. Both men were dangling their feet in the pool as they watched from a distance everything that was happening at the event.

Duncan nodded as he picked up his drink. A glass of some tropical fruit punch with a strawberry on the top, “Yeah, he wasn’t happy with the whole situation. Frustrated more like.” 

“Poor kid.” Court remarked. He looked at Duncan, “Max, there is one thing I want to say to you.”

“Sure, what is it?” Duncan asked as he sipped at his drink slowly. 

“I know we never expected to find ourselves here, but these last two months…” Court paused as he blushed somewhat. “What I’m trying to say is…I know we’ve been made prisoners on some alien craft and forced to become parents overnight…but it’s really made me think…about us.”

Not sure where Court was going with this, Duncan placed his glass back down and gazed into the eyes of his partner deeply. “In a good way, I take it?” He checked with a smirk. Every time he looked at him, he couldn’t get over just how handsome he was. Even tonight, he wore an almost skin tight black short sleeved top unbuttoned and a pair of white swimming shorts. 

“Of course,” Court agreed. “What I’m trying to get at is…” He took a breath. “…whatever happens, I’m glad we’re here together.”

“I couldn’t agree anymore.” Duncan said with another smirk. “And having the two boys, just makes what we have even better.”

“Definitely.” Court said as he leant in and pulled Duncan into a long passionate kiss. As soon as their lips parted, Duncan kept his right hand holding the back of Court’s head as he looked over his shoulder. “Have you noticed how special the flickering of the lights are tonight?”

Court, who at first appeared completely oblivious to what Duncan had said, smiled at his partner intently. “Babe, they look amazing in your eyes…” He said at first before he noticed the look from Duncan. “Oh, yeah. No, they do look special.” He answered back as he let go of his embrace.

Clamping down on trying not to laugh at how Court had just conducted himself, not realising what Duncan was insinuating, the first officer looked around the event and caught the attention of the captain. Seeing the captain walking out, drenched head to toe in water with a towel around his neck, he was in tow behind his wife. Pleased to see they were getting along tonight, Duncan knew that their plan was now in motion. He was about to say something when he was heckled by two familiar voices disapproving at the display of affection he and Court had just shared. 

“Were you two both making out in front of everyone?” Wylem moaned as he swam over in the pool. 

“That is really embarrassing.” Jorgeh added. “Aren’t you both meant to be senior members?”

Glancing between them and back to Court, Duncan realised he wasn’t going to win this exchange with both of their adopted sons.  He could remember making similar remarks to his own adoptive parents when he was teenager when they showed any affection with one another out in public. Duncan just shrugged his shoulders, showing he had no defence or comeback to Jorgeh’s disgust. 

Court took Duncan’s hand into his. “Sorry guys, but you’re gonna have to get used to this.” He said. 

Rolling his eyes, Wylem shook his head also. “It’s gross.” He stated. “Anyway, is there anything else meant to happen at this party? It’s getting boring.”

“Just wait and see.” Duncan answered. He knew something was going to happen but he couldn’t risk telling either of them right now. “Do you guys want to go down to the beach? We can grab some food and sit there.”

Agreeing with the idea, Court supported the notion. “I heard from Ensign Tchwulkk and Crewmember Demiaht that the beach was designed to change colour in different light.”

Climbing themselves out of the pool, both boys grabbed some towels nearby as they returned back to their adopted dads. “Ensign Tchwulkk would say that, aren’t Hortas meant to like different types of rock?” Wylem stated on their return.

“It doesn’t quite work like that with Hortas.” Duncan answered as he stood up, still holding on to Court’s hand. “That said, Tomaz told me there’s going to be some fireworks later. We should grab a good spot to watch them. Perhaps start a campfire again.”

Placing the towel around his hip, Jorgeh looked a bit confused. “Are we going camping again?”

Duncan laughed and shook his head, “No, we’re just going to make a fire like we had when we went camping, how does that sound?”

Both boys looked at one another and agreed with it. 

Court looked at Duncan, “I’ll go and see if I can get some others to join us. Make a little party out of it. Sound like an idea?”

Carefully reading Court’s expression, Duncan realised that he was starting the next plan. He just nodded as he let go of Court’s hand and headed towards the beach with their sons.  

This whole carefully organised plan required them to take one moment at a time. 

Mother Nature

Stardate: 76999.41

The sensation of taking complete control of the Quirennal had been an overwhelming one for Captain Jyster. If she had not had her brain waves transferred over to the advanced isomorphic program all those centuries ago, she would never have truly understood what it was like to be complete commander and master of your vessel. Though her existence was now beyond the simple confines of flesh and blood, she did on some occasions miss what she had been before. The constant feedback from everything on occasion was overwhelming and required a lot of effort to keep everything in balance. She had done it long enough now that it was now second nature to her. Most systems were automated and rarely required her full attention.  

Stood within the main command and control centre of her vessel, the ship’s sensors (both external and internal) were constantly feeding her up to the minute data from every nook and cranny of her vessel. It was almost as if she could feel every molecule that belonged to her ship. She could tell that the ship’s outer hull armour, after her recent use of the coaxial warp drive, was still heavily damaged. Centuries of drifting in space and the constant barrage of the elements that lived in space had already weakened the almost impenetrable metal. The pressure from all of these elements had caused a lot of damage, one that would take almost decades to repair. Nevertheless she had found the perfect hiding spot. A nebula, by Federation standards, was class nine. Its deep pinkish and purple hues of gases would keep away any passing aliens from trying to claim salvage rights. 

The hull wasn’t the only system she was keeping a close eye on. Since the Odyssey’s crew had been taken to look after her children, their constant use of the particle synthesisers to create so much to make their existence as comfortable as possible had put a high strain on the Quirennal’s thermionic generator. However, Jyster felt it was worthwhile. The Federation crew had appeared to show signs of settling in and adjusting to their new lives. Jyster had sacrificed power from other systems to ensure the main habitat, which they had originally called the valley, remained operational at all costs. 

Maintaining the ship’s systems was not the only task she had prioritised. Jorgeh and Wylem, her sons, had been at the top of this list. Everything she did was for her children. They came first and their survival was paramount to her. Every decision she made, from quickly asserting control over the Quirennal, taking in the Odyssey’s adult population and providing them all with the safe home they needed, all of it was for them. Compromising with Captain McCallister and allowing some of the adults to return to the Odyssey had been part of that decision making process as well. She knew they would resist her if she had not shown them some sort of compromise. Her programming was advanced enough for her to realise that she could easily be one step ahead of McCallister and his crew. They could never blindside her. She was too quick, too powerful, too clever for anything they could try. The ship’s advanced systems aided her with that, so it meant that her efforts in reconnecting with her sons could be at the forefront of her concerns. 

That said, her attempts to establish some sort of relationship with them had not gone in the correct direction she had originally calculated. She had not wanted to place either of them with Captain McCallister and his wife, though they would have been the perfect parents due to them having children of the same age as Jorgeh and Wylem. Based on what she had accessed from Odyssey’s computer records the three sons of McCallister and Reyas were well-rounded individuals and aspired to take their life journey in various directions. Though she wanted that for her own sons, she did not want the leader of the people she had kidnapped to use her sons against her. Instead, from what she had read about Odyssey’s first officer, he was the perfect choice. Someone who had been cared for during his early years that were not his birth parents meant he would have some level of compassion for her sons and their current predicament.  Furthermore she had accessed Duncan’s personal logs and had discovered he was in a relationship with another officer who was the ‘godfather’ of McCallister’s sons. After searching through the Federation database what a ‘godfather’ was, she had eventually discovered that Senior Chief Court had been and still was heavily involved in the care of the McCallister-Reyas offspring. Based on this information, she had determined that Jorgeh and Wylem would survive under their care. Impressed that both men had been amenable foster fathers to her sons (she had overheard a conversation between them that neither of them blamed her sons for the situation they were in), she had appreciated how they had gone out of their way to help settle both Jorgeh and Wylem. 

That said, the reception she had received from both of them had not been what she had expected. Based on what had happened previously, Jyster was certain both of her sons would appreciate the effort she had gone to ensure they lived. She had put everything on the line just for her children. Instead, in the past two months Wylem refused to speak to her while Jorgeh had been aggressive at every encounter. She could not blame either Duncan or Court for this. Nor could she place their reactions on McCallister’s shoulders. It was all her and she could not work out why. She gave them everything. 

The social event that the Odyssey crew had planned and organised was occurring and she could see that everyone there was enjoying themselves. She had not wanted to disturb this, her programming had calculated that if she appeared or stopped anything then it would result in further damaging any hope she had of proving to them, as well as her sons, so she was adamant she’d let it happen without a hitch. The pressure on the power systems and particle synthesisers was pretty high, but she felt the system could operate well. 

Checking in on it with her sensors, she noticed McCallister and Reyas moving away from the event. Hoping they weren’t up to anything she transferred her projection to a spot just ahead of them on the path they were on. 

“Leaving, so soon captain?” She asked. 

Almost jumping out of his skin, McCallister was surprised at the sudden arrival of Jyster and noticed the same expression across Reyas’ face too. Turning back to Jyster, he had stopped walking to answer her. “It’s more like a brief retreat.” He indicated to their wet clothes and damp appearance. 

“No-one can really enjoy themselves while soaking wet.” Reyas stated. “We’re heading home to get dried and changed.”

“Indeed.” Jyster replied back, after realising she had misunderstood what they were up to. “Enjoy the rest of your evening.”

She then switched off her projection before them and moved to find her boys. On the beach, they were sitting around a naked flame with their foster fathers. They appeared to be eating a melted lump of what her sensors told her was mostly something called sugar. She could see Jorgeh was in a good mood and that Wylem was guzzling down the sweet food he was cooking. Laughter filled the area they were in while they enjoyed the event. Realising that in the last two months her sons had formed a strong bond with both Duncan and Court, she felt like her efforts were worth it. Both of them were happy with whom she had selected to care for them. Her thoughts turned to wondering if she could ever have a moment with them where they would actually want to speak to her. They were equally stubborn in their own ways. However she loved them and would do anything to ensure they remained alive. 

Deciding not to appear in her isomorphic form, she turned her full attention to working out how she could use the ship’s systems to repair the outer hull to ensure the Quirennal’s longevity. Between creating automated repair bots, using the translocator system and particle synthesisers, she could not see anyway else. As she started to make the calculations needed to begin this important work, the internal sensors detected a breach from the habitat. Instantly she turned her focus and noticed a small group of the Odyssey’s crew exiting through the same passageway they had originally used to access the stasis chambers. Before she could stop them, several more alarms went off as systems began to lose significant power. Unable to stop them or what was happening, she attempted one more time and after failing one more time she transferred her projection into the chamber the Odyssey group were all in. 

“Stop, whatever you do next could result in people becoming hurt.” She called out to them. Within seconds she had recognised Commander Tremt Hunsen, Lieutenant Commander Lukiz Jen, Lieutenant Commander Cline Lenjir and Lieutenant Keli. All four of them paused. 

Raising both hands in the air, Hunsen answered her back. “We don’t mean anything by this. We noticed the passageway opened and we were curious to see what was wrong.”

“There’s nothing wrong here.” Jyster spat back out. “Return to the habitat at once!” Her projection then fizzled out. 

“You appear to be malfunctioning as well.” Lenjir stated. 

“Can we be of assistance?” Jen offered. 

“No, stay back.” Jyster said as she closed her eyes and accessed the translocator system and moved them all back to the social event, back to where she was before. Her control over the ship’s system was fluctuating. One moment she had it, the next it was gone then back again. The constant interruptions prevented her from working out what was causing the problem and it resulted in her own projection being sent back to where she had last been, the spot where her sons were. Not wanting to lose complete control, she used the translocator to move Captain McCallister and Commander Reyas to where she was. A number of the Odyssey crew had reacted in surprise at what was going on the moment she appeared with the four she had caught snooping around. What was even more surprising was seeing Captain McCallister and Commander Reyas both wearing their uniforms. 

Unable to work out why they were dressed like that due to several more systems failing, Jyster was not going to lose. Bringing everyone together, she knew where they were was the best plan for now. Another alarm went off, something was approaching the Quirennal, but she couldn’t focus on that as Captain McCallister was now speaking to her. 

“You seem to be suffering from some technical glitches here, Captain Jyster.” He said, surprisingly he didn’t sound like he was mocking her. “Can my crew help?”

Ignoring him, she closed her eyes as she attempted to work out what was approaching the vessel. The nebula was doing an excellent job of hiding them from her. Though her sensors were advanced, they were still not good enough to break through the interference. 

Deciding she needed to refocus the ship’s power to regain some sort of control, she started to shut down the particle synthesisers that were active and being used in the habitat and transferred their power to the sensors and other critical systems. The simulation they had created with the various homes and other luxuries the Odyssey crew had created all disappeared which resulted in several of her ‘guests’ responding with shock at the sudden removal. 

“Mom, what the hell are you doing?” Jorgeh then shouted as he stood up from where he had been sitting on the beach with his brother and others.

Duncan stood up besides her eldest and grabbed him by his right arm to hold him back. Almost protecting him from her. Court had moved quickly to stand between her and Wylem. She had no plans to harm either of her sons. Why would they act like that?

“Not now, Jorgeh.” Jyster snapped back as she eventually regained control and transferred herself to the ship’s command and control centre. She knew McCallister was behind what was going on. She needed to work out what and how. However she needed to deal with the incoming threat first. McCallister and the others weren’t going anywhere any time soon. 

Activating one of the floating holographic displays, she was able to determine who was approaching the Quirennal.

There before her, striking through the pinkish and purple fields of gases was one ship she had thought she had outrun. Darting in her direction at impressive speeds, the chevron shaped vessel was quickly entering hailing range. Not believing the nerve they had, she would not let that ship get any further with whatever was happening. Looking closer at it’s hull markings, she zoomed in on the words on it’s dorsal side and read it’s name. 


To The Ends Of The Earth

USS Odyssey (NCC-80000), Gradin Belt, Delta-Beta Quadrants Border
Stardate: 76999.5

Sitting somewhat comfortably in the captain’s chair, Lieutenant Commander Flemen was doing his best to remain cool and calm under the pressure he now found himself under. They were about to engage the Quirennal, he hoped that Captain Horatio McCallister’s plan worked. Looking around the scene before him, his nervousness settled somewhat by the sense of pride he took. In the last two months since they last saw the alien goliath of a ship, those who had returned to the Odyssey had picked themselves up and stepped up to the challenge in running the ship with limited crew. The entire bridge crew were all in acting positions. The only change he had made today was to place Penelope at the helm. The team in Cetacean Ops had been flying the ship before, but today if things went wrong he wanted her tactical database and quick reactions to deal with the situation. Her mobile emitter was hanging on her left arm, another precaution in case Captain Jyster attempts to infect the Odyssey’s computer systems affected her program. In fact all of the Odyssey’s emergency holograms had been liberated from the main holographic systems and onto their mobile emitters. For a technology that was copied from the 29th century, it would certainly safeguard the Odyssey in the upcoming confrontation. 

However that was something that Flemen was hoping to avoid. It was his nature to find a diplomatic solution to their current situation, it was one of the reasons that Jyster had used against him to send him back to the Odyssey without any of the other senior staff. It was also now a big part of Captain Horatio McCallister’s plan to free their missing colleagues and his brother from Jyster’s clutches. Flemen’s diplomatic flare was one of the many cogs in his masterplan. 

“Approaching the Quirennal, if they’ve not seen us arriving yet due to the nebula, then they should see us now.” Penelope announced.

“Red alert,” Flemen ordered and as the bridge was covered in the ship’s scarlet emergency lighting, he looked at the ops station. “Ensign McCallister, activate countermeasures.”

“Countermeasure engaged, sir.” Ensign McCallister confirmed from the ops station. “Our systems have not been probed, yet.”

“Keep your eye on it Alf.” Flemen ordered. He looked over to Jisaraa, the acting security and tactical chief was standing at the station normally occupied by Lenjir. “Lieutenant, any threats we should be concerned about?”

Shaking her head, the Orion woman answered him. “Nothing that our sensors are registering, but shields are at maximum and auxiliary power is on standby in case we need it.”

“Good.” Flemen said. If anything that worried him the most was the fact they had not witnessed the might of the Quirennal and just how much of a punch it could throw at them. Knowing their luck, it was armed to teeth multiple isokinetic cannons and thousands of transphasic torpedoes or something just as dangerous. Exaggeration alone was all that they had for now based on what they knew of the ship’s other systems, it wouldn’t surprise Flemen if the Quirennal was armed with a weapon that could turn a Borg Cube into dust in a few seconds flat. It was far superior in other forms, he couldn’t believe its weapons array wasn’t just as advanced. 

Turning over to Tierra at engineering, Flemen wondered just how well his acting chief engineer was doing. “Any luck in locating our missing crew?”

Studying sensor readings closely, Tierra glanced one more time before answering. “I think we might be in luck.” She shared. “From the looks of it the Quirennal has sustained further heavy damage to its outer hull. Our sensors are able to penetrate it a lot better than before. I’d summarise that their jolt using their coaxial drive caused a significant amount of stress on the hull plating. Commander Hunsen and I had originally wondered when we discovered the Quirennal if there was an operational deflector or shielding system in place, we never found anything in our initial search of the vessel but this would prove our assumptions. That said, I am picking up a high concentration of our crew, assembled in one location. Sensors are also showing the Quirennal children all there as well. It looks like the centre of the valley.”

“Is that good?” Alfie asked from ops.

“It is, ensign.” Tierra responded. “It means I can expand our buffer capacity and grab everyone there in one full swoop, it would mean taking the children as well, however with what we’ve got planned, taking them out of the danger would be a lot better then leaving them. But we need to be a lot closer.”

“How close?” Penelope questioned. 

“At least ten thousand kilometres.” Tierra replied. “The closer the better.”

Flemen then realised the decision was his and everyone would be waiting for him to make the call. Knowing that this could happen and was already planned for, Flemen ordered Penelope to bring them in close, while Alfie opened a channel. If he could distract Captain Jyster for a bit he would. “The moment you can beam them back, then do it.” Flemen directed Tierra. “Don’t wait for my order, just do it.”

The Deltan woman just nodded as she got to work. 

“Channel open, sir.” McCallister said.

Taking a breath, Flemen kept himself calm as he spoke. “Captain Jyster, this is Lieutenant Commander Craigen Flemen on the Odyssey. I know it’s been a while since we last saw one another, however, I have been authorised by the Federation Council to negotiate with you one more time to see if we could come to an amicable resolution to this situation.”

There was no reply. 

Flemen looked around at everyone, they all gave him the same blank stare. He knew he had to keep going. “The Federation Council is happy to welcome your ship and your children into the Federation, where they will be well looked after at a suitable location with people who are more trained and have the experience to support them.” Realising taking the official stance was perhaps not going to appeal to Jyster, he changed his tactics. “Captain, I appreciate you have the upper hand in keeping my captain and the rest of my crew from me. I also understand that originally Captain McCallister negotiated in good faith with you but I genuinely can’t believe you are not prepared to listen to this offer I have. Surely, you could see the benefits of us finding some mutual ground here and resolving this so everyone is happy?”

Jyster then appeared before them, her holographic appearance flickering several times. “You have guts for returning Mister Flemen, I see that you have been promoted while we’ve been away.”

“Starfleet gave me command of the Odyssey in Captain McCallister’s absence.” Flemen’s response was quick and straight to the point, he didn’t want to be distracted by other pleasantries.

Her projection flickered more and her voice sounded distorted too. “You’ve come far to track us down. I didn’t think your engines were this quick.”

“We had help from some of our allies.” Flemen said, realising that at the corner of his eye he could see that Tierra was close to initiating transport. He was also not going to explain how they had followed her subspace footprint, used the Turei’s underspace to travel to their current location either. 

“Hmm, it would seem you’ve had a lot of help. I can’t seem to access your systems.” Jyster stated, sounding more frustrated than she originally did. 

Alfie gave Flemen a look to confirm their countermeasures were holding in place. Their systems would be safeguarding for now. His worries about Penelope and the other holograms being taken over were eased somewhat.  

Remaining focused on her, Flemen shrugged his shoulders. “We came well equipped to show you that we are serious but we won’t allow you to take advantage of our vessel again, but my intention is not to start a fight with you. I don’t think either of us want that.” He paused as he considered his words further. He had practised this speech in his head moments before, so he knew what he wanted to say. “You sent me away and told me that I ‘do not have the experience or ability to properly mount a decent rescue plan’. Well here I am, proving to you that I’m using the experience and abilities that I do have to get my people back. Will you listen?”

More flickering, more distortion. Jyster was struggling to concentrate. “I can’t-I can’t…” She was then gone. 

Flemen looked at Tierra in a flash. “What happened?”

“Her projection just collapsed.” Tierra answered after looking over the sensors. Not bothering to worry about why they lost communication, the acting chief engineer returned to what she was working on before the call had taken place. “I’ve got a lock on a majority of our crew, but I’m detecting a few of them elsewhere. Looks like two silicon lifesigns are moving through the ship, at a rapid pace while others have just been moved into the command and control centre.”

“Who are the silicon lifesigns?” Jisaraa asked aloud for everyone to hear. 

Tierra turned her head to look up at her Orion colleague. “Our lovely Horta crewmates: Ensign Tchwulkk and Crewmember Demiaht. It looks like they’re tunnelling their way through the Quirennal. I think Captain Jyster’s technical problems are being caused by them. They appear to be using their natural acidic excretions to cause significant harm to various systems.”

“Why do I feel like my dad had this already planned in his head?” Alfie shared with everyone on the bridge.

“It wouldn’t surprise me Alf.” Flemen agreed with the acting ensign’s train of thought before looking back at his acting chief engineer. “Can you beam our Horta colleagues back as well?”

Tierra just nodded.

“Then beam them and those who else we can get back now!” Flemen ordered and then looked down to McCallister. “Alf, hail your uncle. Tell him to proceed to plan B and send them the coordinates of our other crewmates that are being held elsewhere.”

“Signal sent.” McCallister announced. 

“Transport complete, we’ve got every-” Tierra paused as she squinted at the readings from the transporter cycle. There was a huge drop in the capacity of what she had targeted. “I don’t understand it.”

Flemen looked at her, worried that Jyster had stopped their attempt. “What is it, Tierra?”

“I got everyone in the valley, besides the children.” Tierra answered as she looked at everyone with a confused look. “They’re not there.”

USS League NCC-74652

Standing in transporter room one with his hazard team, all kitted out and ready to go, Horatio McCallister took one more glance down at his weapon, a TR-116 rifle, and ensured the whole thing was ready. Placing his exographic targeting sensor over his head, he activated it and could see the heads up display. The modified rifle would help them bring back those who were still being kept back on the alien vessel they were about to board. Along with that, he knew from his time in Starfleet Intelligence that the weapon itself was one of the best, if not the best, to have on a covert rescue mission. The micro-transporter built within the rifle made its range effective. However chemical propelled bullets were not the only thing he was packing. In several magazines he and his Hazard Team had packed modified isolinear tags. They would use them to isolate and enhance the transporter lock on those Odyssey crew that Odyssey itself couldn’t rescue. As this Captain Jyster was a deranged hologram, in his judgement, using the TR-116 from a safe distance seemed like the best plan for now. 

Bridge to Captain McCallister, Odyssey has sent the signal.” spoke his first officer over the intercom. 

Tapping his combadge as finished zipping up his combat uniform field vest, McCallister replied. “Then proceed as planned. Fire tricobalt devices and ensure our transporter cycle happens on detonation.” He then looked at his team, who were already on the pad. “Activate isolation dampeners everyone.” 

All of them activated the devices that sat on their left arms. Similar to the technology that had been used by the Federation in its duckblind missions for years now, isolation suits had been improved in the past thirty years. Combining similar technology used by Voyager in 2375, the isolation suit technology was merged with bio-dampeners, a device that could disguise someone while within the surroundings of a Borg vessel. The two pieces of technology together created a sophisticated piece of camouflage technology that allowed for covert agents to become undetectable for a limited time.

Limited time was all Horatio needed to find those who were trapped and get them out without getting his own team and himself trapped. It was a quick in and out mission. Along with rescuing those the Odyssey couldn’t save, he would ensure that the threat Jyster brought to them all was dealt with. But that was his own mission.  

Flying out from behind the Odyssey, the Intrepid-class starship flew out of nowhere and delivered a payload of tricobalt devices against the Quirennal’s outer hull plating. The massive explosion caused by the weapons ripped open a breach in the once powerful monatanium hull plating. 

Seconds later and Horatio felt the transporter beam take hold of him and deposit him on board the enemy vessel. His isolation dampener was active and straight away he found himself in the area known as the valley. Telling his team to spread out, he started to scan towards the area that the Odyssey hostages were being kept. Looking through his targeting sensor he saw his brother and sister-in-law. Telling his Hazard Team leader to take over, Horatio would move to get to his brother at once. 


Feeling disorientated at what was happening, Jyster couldn’t work out what to deal with at first. Overwhelmed, she had cut her transmission to the Odyssey and then transported Captain McCallister, Commanders Reyas and Duncan along with Senior Chief Court and her sons to the command and control centre of the ship. 

Sensors then registered the use of transporter technology penetrating the hull and within moments she lost the Odyssey crew, besides those she had with her. The command and control centre was better shielded from such things from happening. Transferring power to ensure she could protect the centre, she was adamant she was not going to lose today. Sensors also detected that whatever was disrupting her systems moments ago had stopped. She hadn’t had the time to determine what was happening when Odyssey appeared out of nowhere. 

“I’ll compliment your Mister Flemen, he is quite the hidden tactician. And I thought his diplomatic overtures were genuine.” Jyster said as she looked at Captain McCallister. “Tell me how you’re doing this.”

“I’m not doing anything. You’ve kept a close eye on me ever since you took us.” McCallister answered. It was obvious he wasn’t sharing everything with her, but she knew that he couldn’t have guessed that well that the Odyssey would arrive at this point in time. “And Craigen’s diplomatic overtures, whatever they are, I can assure you are genuine.” He added.

“I can back that up.” Duncan said, defending his former protege. 

Jyster shook her head. “I don’t believe you either of you. Plus, even if I wanted to believe you. My children need this ship to survive.”

“No we don’t mom.” Jorgeh said, moving towards the isomorphic projection. “Let us go!”

Betrayed by his words, Jyster shot a look at her eldest son. “I’ve done all of this for you!” She exclaimed, spreading her arms outwards, not pointing at anything in particular.

Reyas looked down at the nearby viewport, which showed the valley. Confused as to what she was seeing, the entire crew had gone but the children and young people they had been caring for were all still standing around. Then some of them started to disappear into thin air. “What’s happening to them all?” She asked, almost shouting at Jyster.

“I’m transferring necessary power to other systems. The particle synthesisers are needed for urgent repairs.” Jyster answered. She looked at Jorgen and Wylem. “I did this all for you. My children.”

Both teenage boys looked at each other, confused by her words. 

“What do you mean?” Wylem quizzed her. 

Before she could answer they were all shoved off from their feet as the League’s assault landed against the Quirennal. Alarms started to scream out as more of the ship’s systems reported heavy damage or were now offline. 

“Another Starfleet ship. How is this possible?” Jyster questioned McCallister as she activated a holographic display showing the sudden appearance of the USS League flying out from behind the Odyssey. “I didn’t detect them.” 

“Mom, answer Wylem’s question.” Jorgeh insisted. “What do you mean that you did all of this for us?”

Ignoring what was happening elsewhere, Jyster looked at her sons. “You two were the only survivors. I had to make some terrible decisions years ago to ensure that you both were saved. I couldn’t leave you both here alone. I knew I was slowly losing you. When I noticed the Odyssey could help us, I wanted to give you the community we once had.”

“Oh my god.” Duncan said, realising what was happening as he stepped forward towards the boys and their mother. “The other children, all of them weren’t real were they?”

The pieces of the puzzle started to fall for everyone. Court soon joined Duncan’s side as he placed one hand around Wylem’s shoulders. “You created them all, didn’t you? What were they? Holograms?” The enlisted officer sounded disgusted at her actions but also did his best to carefully choose his words to avoid upsetting the two boys further. 

Jyster looked between the two men she had picked to care for her sons. Appearing like she had lost all hope, she just blurted out what was truly happening.  “They were a combination of the ship’s particle synthesisers and advanced isomorphs, like me. All of them represented my former crew’s children.”

“You killed all of our friends?” Jorgeh asked back, in shock and terror. Tears were now forming around his eyes. He started to understand what she had done. “You made that decision so that Wylem and I would live?”

Jyster nodded. “To save my sons, yes.” She answered bluntly. “I had no choice, our ship was heavily damaged. Other members of our crew had been sacrificed to save all of the children. Time went by and the ship wasn’t properly repairing itself. I couldn’t do it all. I had limited access. So the only way to ensure your survival was to keep your stasis chambers operational. I had to cut the life support from every child’s chamber so that you two could live. I watched as every one of those youngsters took their last breaths, just so you two could live.”

“You’re not my mother. You’re a monster!” Jorgeh replied, now in disgust. “You could have found a different way.”

“I couldn’t.” Jyster snapped back. 

“Then find a different one now.” Wylem demanded. 

“Wylem’s right.” Jorgeh said, the anger filling in his expression. “Let us go! We don’t belong here now.”

“I can’t you’re my sons.” Jyster almost pleaded.

“Not anymore.” Jorgeh said as he moved towards Duncan and stood closer to him. “Max, Tobi, they’ve been more like parents to us in the past two months then this projection of you has ever been. My mother, my real mother, wouldn’t have allowed her crew to die and take the lives of innocent children. She would have found a different way.”

McCallister moved forward. “There is still time to end this, to turn things around. Flemen’s offer of the Federation providing you support still stands. Let me speak to him and order him to stand down. Your people’s legacy can still remain intact. We can honour those lost and ensure others know about your civilisation and its accomplishments.”

Jyster shook her head. “No, the Quirennal will survive alone. Our people will go on forever! Here!”

Reyas was about to speak but something hit her left shoulder. Thinking she was shot, she looked down and at the same time heard James call for her. Looking back at him, she saw that she had not been shot by a bullet but had been hit by a isolinear tag. A second later and she was enveloped by a transporter beam. Court was next and with him holding on to Wylem, the two of them were taken. Duncan, realising what was happening, took hold of Jorgeh in his arms as he was hit and the transporter effect surrounded the two of them. 

Accepting the embrace into Duncan’s arms, Jorgeh turned his head, the tears rolling down his red sore face as he took one more glance at his mother before resting his forehead against Duncan’s shoulder as he left the Quirennal. For the first time since being taken out of stasis he felt safe. 

McCallister was left standing facing Jyster. She appeared defeated and her program was failing as it started to flicker again. Out of the blue Horatio, his brother, appeared out of nowhere to the right of James. 

“Sorry for gatecrashing the party.” Horatio stated as he looked at Jyster. “I’m here for my big brother.”

“Big brother?” Jyster asked, confused by the remark before realising who he was. “You’re Horatio McCallister, captain of the U-S-S League.” She recalled what she had accessed from the Federation database and made the links to the ship that had attacked her.

“The one and only.” He said with a smirk. Looking at his older brother, Horatio took out an isolation tag and tapped his brother with it. “You rescued me that time from that Maquis mission, this is me paying you back.”

Before James had a chance to say anything he was beamed off the Quirennal

Pleased his brother was now safely off the ship, Horatio looked back at Jyster. Her program was malfunctioning further. The ship started to rock as systems started to fail and destabilise from the damage it sustained from the tricbolat attack. 

Horatio then went over to a nearby computer station and took out his tricorder as he spoke to Jyster. “I’m afraid your attack against the Odyssey has made you a credible threat to Federation security.” He activated the tricorder and began downloading something into the Quirennal’s database. “As such I must deal with you. You’ll find this is a modified version of the same virus you used against the Odyssey. Poetic justice and all of that.” He didn’t have the same sympathy for her like his brother did. His actions were cold, ruthless, just like hers had been over two months ago when she took the Odyssey crew. 

Jyster just shook her head in disbelief. How had she missed this McCallister boarding her vessel? How had he evaded her? Quickly she tried to raise defences around the ship’s main computer core but the virus was already making its way through. “All I wanted to do was to save my children.” She cried out. 

“From what I saw here, it wasn’t you saving them but my brother and his crew.” He looked at the virus. “I can promise you this, they’ll be well looked after.” McCallister then activated his own tag and was beamed back to the League

“I won’t let you take them!” Jyster screamed out. She closed her eyes and activated her ship’s coaxial warp drive. 

Her last ditch effort to save her children began.

USS Odyssey NCC-80000

On Odyssey’s bridge, Alfie noticed the sudden increase in power coming from the Quirennal and he soon recognised what it meant. Turning to look over his right shoulder, he called out to his superior. “Commander Flemen, the Quirennal’s coaxial drive is coming online and is about overload. I think Captain Jyster may be trying to outrun us but her systems are too badly damaged. We need to escape the blast radius!”

Standing up from his chair, Flemen ordered Penelope to take them out of the nebula at full impulse. 

“The Quirennal is in pursuit.” Ensign McCallister told everyone. “We’re being hailed by Captain McCallister on the League. Audio only.”

“Put it up.” Flemen ordered.

The channel was open and the voice of Horatio McCallister could be heard by all on the bridge. “Flying at impulse is not going to help us outrun the Quirennal. That ship will explode any time soon! Head to the nearest underspace corridors, we should take different apertures to increase our chances of getting away from the shockwave.”

“You heard the man, Penelope. Take us to the nearest underspace aperture.” Flemen commanded before he told everyone to hold on tightly over the ship intercom. 

Both Starfleet ships entered different underspace corridors, going in separate directions; the Quirennal followed the Odyssey in its wake. Appearing to be in some sort of flux as it attempted to pursue them, Odyssey jumped into high speeds just as the Quirennal lost containment to its coaxial warp drive. The massive ancient vessel exploded. Shockwaves were sent in multiple directions as hull fragments were vapourised too. 

Nothing was left of Captain Jyster’s relic.

As the Quirennal was on the periphery of the underspace aperture that they had just entered, the shockwave followed Odyssey into the corridor they had entered. Like a beast chasing its prey, the shockwave was impending against the larger Starfleet vessel. 

“Sir, we’ve got an incoming shockwave coming in. Level six, our shields might about take it.” Tierra called above the commotion as the ship was rocking hard caused by its current velocity. “I can’t be certain though that we may survive it.”

“Suggestions?” Flemen called out. 

“There’s another underspace corridor coming up, it leads further into the Beta Quadrant but it’s uncharted. We don’t know if it is stable enough for us or where it actually ends!” McCallister reported from ops. 

“We’re still not going to be fast enough!” Penelope said. “We need to jump to warp!”

“Inside the corridor?!” Tierra exclaimed. “We could end up collapsing the corridor and knocking out our warp drive altogether!”

“It’s better than being obliterated by that shockwave.” Penelope shouted out. “If we put enough power into the shields, we can survive the jump to warp inside the corridor!”

Having to trust Penelope, Flemen gave the go ahead to alter course and head into warp within the corridor. Odyssey changed its heading, narrowly missing the shockwave as it moved into the nearest corridor and jumping into warp. 

“Warp drive is exceeding maximum tolerance!” Teirra announced. “We’re going to lose containment if we don’t shut down the drive.”

“Then do it!” Flemen shouted as explosions started to erupt from the damage the ship was taking. The entire vessel was shaking violently now. Everyone was holding onto dear life.

“I can’t shut down the core!” Tierra stated. 

“Then can’t we eject it?” Alfie suggested.

“That’s suicidal.” Tierra answered back. “We may be pushed out of the corridor or have the core detonate near to us.”

“But we would have shut the warp drive down!” Alfie countered with. 

“Eject the warp core.” Flemen ordered. “Then someone activate the resonance pulse. See if it will push us out of the underspace before the core explodes.”

The sudden ejection of the ship’s warp core forced everyone onboard to be pushed forward by the disruption to the ship’s warp field and followed by the resonance pulse from the main deflector the Odyssey was forced out of the subspace corridor. 

“Commander, we’re just a few parsecs from the Federation-Romulan Republic border in the Beta Quadrant.” Penelope shared as she tried to secure the ship. It was still moving through space at high speeds. “I don’t know how we’ve made it this far, but that last corridor’s velocities must have been higher than we thought.”

“It’s not exactly how I envisioned us to cross the finish line for this mission.” Flemen said, as he gripped tightly onto the captain’s chair’s arms. “Let’s just find a way to slow down before we tear ourselves apart.”

More explosions erupted around them.

“Hull breach on decks eight through seventeen. Emergency force fields are in place and holding.” Alfie announced.

“I’m attempting to stabilise our velocity and pitch.” Penelope shared. “If not we may risk the hull collapsing at these speeds.”

“Alfie, send out distress signal on all Federation frequencies at once. Someone may be out there who can help us!” Flemen called out.

“Distress signal sent, sir.” Alfie said after tapping away at his console. He got an instant response. “Sir, it’s been picked up by…by…Starbase Bravo!”

“That’s good.” Flemen said, almost sounding sarcastic in his tone. Knowing though they would send a relief force to help them, he just hoped it would arrive before he had to order everyone into the escape pods before the ship followed in the footsteps of the Quirennal and its demise. Looking over to Tierra, Flemen hoped she was able to give him some good news as the ship continued to shake from the pressure it was dealing with as it attempted to calm itself down from its recent adventure. “Tierra, please tell me-”

“We’re trying to stabilise the ship, sir.” She said, pre-empting his question. Her fingers were darting across the engineering console so quickly she moved as fast as she could to save them all. “I’m resetting internal dampeners, transferring auxiliary power to manoeuvring thrusters. Penelope, I’m going to give you one big surge of power into the thrusters to stop our out of control axis spin and to bring us to a dead halt. I need that impressive holographic brain of yours to calculate what we need to do it all without ripping the ship in half.”

“I’m on it, lieutenant.” Penelope answered as she adjusted the helm controls in response to the acting chief engineer’s plan. “Ready.”

“Here we go!” Tierra declared as the Odyssey’s power systems adjusted themselves into doing what she wanted them to do. 

Penelope then moved at superhuman speeds as she slowed the ship down and stopped it from spiralling further out of control. After a few seconds, the swerving of the ship stopped and the entire vessel came to gradual halt. 

“I’m reading all stop.” Penelope announced. 

“Congratulations everyone.” Flemen said with a sigh and breathed out heavily as he pushed himself up in his chair. “What’s our status?” 

“That little manoeuvre has heavily damaged the ship sir,” Alfie reported. “We’re practically disabled. I believe the correct phrase is, dead in the water, sir. Not much is working, life support and emergency systems are online, that’s about it.”

Letting his shoulders slump at hearing that news, Flemen sighed again. “Understood. Let’s coordinate repair teams and hope that the relief force from Starbase Bravo arrives in time.”

At that point the aft turbolift doors opened to reveal the arrival of Captain McCallister. “What the hell have you done to my ship?” He asked as he stepped off the turbolift. 

“Dad!” Alfie called as he got up from the ops station and ran over to his father. 

Father and son embraced for a moment before letting go. 

“Welcome back sir.” Flemen said as he stood up from his chair. 

“Thank you Craigen.” McCallister said as he looked around at everyone and the damage sustained to the bridge. “I believe Mister Flemen, I left you in command of an operational ship?”

Glancing around himself, Flemen realised that even though McCallister was pulling his leg (he could sense the captain’s humour through his thoughts), he could also tell the captain was sincere with his comment. “We’ll have the Odyssey back up and running in no time.”

“I’ll hold you to that.” McCallister said. “However it is good to be back.”

Winds of Change

USS Odyssey NCC-80000, docked at Starbase Bravo, Mellstoxx system, Beta Quadrant
Stardate: 77001

“Captain’s log stardate seven-seven-zero-zero-one. Odyssey has been tractored back to Starbase Bravo for immediate repairs and overhaul. Our sudden arrival out of the blue took Starfleet by surprise, as such Rear Admiral Zack Marshall-Bennet will be leading our debriefing. He has already made available to the crew the counseling and medical services of Starbase Bravo. These last two months have placed quite the strain on everyone on the Odyssey. Full R and R will be granted to all while the ship is docked. In the meantime, I am pleased to report that contact has been established with my brother’s vessel, the League. They were fortunate enough to miss the shockwave caused by the Quierrnal’s destruction and avoid the heavy damage that we’ve sustained.”

Sitting on the edge of the sofa in his ready room that sat under the sloped windows, Captain McCallister sipped on his first mug of tea of the day. He wasn’t sure how he wanted to start the day. Hell even the new year. He hadn’t slept much the night before. It was weird being back on the Odyssey. Things between him and Karyn hadn’t completely gone back to normal. There was still some tension there, he could feel it. That said, he was glad to be back and see his sons. They had changed in the two months they had been away. At one point late last night he felt like a stranger in his own home. Things weren’t right on the Odyssey, he couldn’t put his finger on it and he knew things with himself weren’t right either. 

His computer console activated by itself as it rose from underneath the desk, interrupting his thoughts. It only did that when a priority call was coming in. Glancing over to the desk, he placed his mug down on the nearby coffee table and got up. Moving across his large ready room, he tugged on the ends of his uniform jacket and inputted his clearance codes as he approached the desk. 

“Authorisation McCallister four-seven-alpha-tango.” He said before the holographic display illuminated from the desk to show the face of his brother, Horatio, also sat in his ready room. “Horatio, it’s good to hear from you.” He greeted his younger brother as he perched on the end of his desk.

“Likewise J-P.” Horatio said with a sincere smile. “I heard Odyssey had a rougher ride escaping from the Quierrnal than we did. Are you all okay?”

For the first time in his career, James wasn’t sure if everything was okay. He genuinely didn’t know how his crew would come back from their experience with Captain Jyster. Instead of sharing that , even with his younger brother, he just went for a simple response. “We will be.” He took a breath. “And the League?”

“Nothing my SCE teams can’t handle. In fact we’ve docked at a Quarran repair station. They seemed keen to take the work we can provide from some of the damage we’ve sustained.” Horatio answered, sounding almost cheerful with his present situation. “How long will you be back in the Alpha Quadrant for?”

Shrugging his shoulders, James genuinely didn’t know the answer to that either. “Not sure, yet. Odyssey is going to be out of action for a few weeks. I’m sure Starfleet wants to conduct a number of debriefs to cover everything that has happened as well cover our other exploits while in the Delta Quadrant.”

“Well, look after yourself J-P.”

“I will,” James said. “And thanks for coming to our rescue, Horatio. Karyn and I are especially grateful for the time you put into the boys.”

“Isn’t that what an uncle is for?” Horatio rhetorically asked. “Anyway, I didn’t do as much work as you’re giving me credit for. They did most of it by themselves from the sounds of it. Give them time to tell you both about it.”

Smiling to show his appreciation, James nodded at the suggestion from his brother. “I will.” Realising he had nothing else to say, he wished his brother well. “Good luck Captain McCallister, just make sure you don’t explore too much of that quadrant. Leave some for the rest of us.”

“Understood, and good luck to you all as well Captain McCallister. League out.” Horatio said before he closed the channel. 

Rubbing his nose bridge after the channel closed, McCallister gave out another heavy sigh. 

How was he supposed to move on from here? 

How were any of them supposed to move on?

He didn’t know.