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First Excursion

The Odyssey's cadets get their first taste of adventure!

First Excursion – 1

USS Odyssey (NCC-80000), Verkien System, Kotaba Expanse, Swallow Nebula region, Delta Quadrant
Stardate: 78500

“Fleet Captain’s log stardate seven-eight-five-zero-zero. We have been conducting a mapping mission in the Verkien system for over six days now. Though not critical to our operations, our Benthan friends suggested it as a place to lay low for a while. Our previous engagement with the Malon has heightened our profile in the Kotaba Expanse. Furthermore, keeping quiet and out of trouble from the Borg is also a welcome change. Conducting scientific investigations and exploring a new star system has been a pleasant shift in pace for the crew.”

Sitting quietly on the sofa in his ready room, Fleet Captain McCallister was enjoying the chance to finally catch up on paperwork. He could feel his stomach grumbling at him, earning for some lunch, but he was more bothered about getting ahead of his admin work while everything was quiet on the ship. When the Odyssey was engaged in routine exploration assignments, it brought some downtime for the crew. It gave everyone a chance to slow down, recharge their batteries and enjoy what their jobs were meant to be. 


That all said, McCallister had been feeling giddy all morning. He was waiting to hear from the Themis on the mission he had sent them on. Cambil was meant to have reported in by now, so McCallister was giving his former first officer a wide berth for now. However, his patience had limits, and like a child eager on Christmas morning, he wanted to open up his presents sooner rather than later.

The door chime went off, which caused McCallister to look up from the PADD he had in his hands and towards the door’s direction. “Come in.” 

The door parted open, and Lieutenant Jonarom stepped in. “Sorry to disturb you, sir, but I’ve heard from the Themis.” He said. The young Ardanan communications officer held an isolinear chip in his hands. Appearing awkward as he did it, Jonarom attempted to soften the blow. “Captain Cambil has transmitted her latest update. Unfortunately, a nearby anomaly is preventing the Themis from completing their attempts to contact the Constitution. I’m sorry, sir.”

McCallister didn’t blame Jonarom for that news; nevertheless, it did not stop him from rolling his eyes and sighing. His time in Starfleet had taught him that fate liked to play pranks on them, and if it wasn’t the end of universe stuff happening, it was a spatial anomaly that liked to throw a spanner in the works. He took the chip and thanked the lieutenant for the brief update. Like McCallister, Jonarom had people on the Constitution he was fond of and after the Themis had discovered a log buoy of theirs over a month ago after they had gone missing, the hope to find them alive and well was at the forefront of so many of the things they were doing right now. In a bold bid to reconnect with their lost comrades, McCallister had sent the Themis off to attempt to create a micro-wormhole from a class B itinerant pulsar they had detected on long-range sensors. 

“Sir, I’m not giving up hope on the Constitution’s crew,” Jonarom remarked. “Especially as your brother commands her.”

McCallister had come to really like Jonarom these past few months. He was pleased he was with them. The young officer was always optimistic and a hard worker. No-one had a bad thing to complain about him. “My brother will certainly not give up,” McCallister confirmed.

“And we shouldn’t either, sir,” Jonarom stated.

McCallister nodded in agreement. “Absolutely, lieutenant,” He agreed wholeheartedly. 

The door chime then went off again, interrupting their conversation. McCallister apologised to Jonarom before replying to his next guest to come in. Stepping in was his wife, Captain Reyas, alongside Commander Jirani. 

“Sorry to interrupt your meeting,” Reyas said as she made her way over.

McCallister waved her apology away, citing they weren’t disturbing. “What can I do for you both.”

Reyas looked at her deputy before returning to her husband with a PADD that she had been carrying in her hands behind her back. “Approve permission to take the Telemachus out for a spin.”

McCallister hesisted at first before he took the PADD and started to skim over the request. He had been initially reluctant to approve such a submission from his wife. It was more from a professional stance before he had realised that things were different. From his perspective, the last time his wife had taken the ship’s Aquarius-class escort, it had got lost while trying to save the ship from a temporal anomaly. However, it turned out that it wasn’t her and instead it was a Changeling infilfitrator. He had got a headache from just trying to understand all of the temporal mechanics that it had created. Instead, he had left it with the DTI operatives back home to ponder over and deal with.

Reading on, he started to see what his wife hand in mind. “You want to take the cadets out on a training cruise?”

“Training excursion, sir. This will only last a few days, not as long as a training cruise.” Jirani corrected him. The tall Bajoran woman appeared quite pleased with herself over their plan. 

“With us so planning to remain in the system for another week or so, we thought this would be a safe place to take the cadets out and get them to do something more involved than just delivering PADDs around the ship or undertaking the low-level work,” Reyas shared. “The Telemachus was meant to be our training vessel and they’ve not had the chance to do anything since we returned to the Delta Quadrant in it. Plus, we’re not going far.”

“A M-class moon orbits one of the larger gas giants in this system. Besides vegetation, there’s barely any other life on the planet. It will be a simple survey mission, which would allow us to put the cadets through their paces beyond the holodecks,” Jirani said as she accessed one of the holographic display controls in the room. A sensor scan of the moon she spoke of appeared between them and McCallister. “Once we conducted closer scans, we want to locate suitable places to undertaking survival training.”

McCallister looked back at the PADD and then back to the moon. “You’ll need a few more officers to help you, I’m not sure we have many that are free who aren’t engaged already in other tasks.”

“I knew you were going to say that,” Reyas said with a smirk. “Check the bottom of that proposal with a list of who I’ve already recruited to help. They are officers who are not engaged in active participation in other aspects of mapping the system.”

“You don’t have a science officer,” McCallister pointed out.

Reyas winced at that. “Well, no, but as this ship’s former science officer, I was hoping-”

“Captain, do I need to remind you of Starfleet regulations when it comes to taking cadets out in active field training?” McCallister pointed out to his wife, not trying to undermine or annoy her in front of the other two.

Jirani then looked at the young officer beside her. “Jonarom can come with us.”

“I can?” Jonarom asked, sounding surprised.

“You can,” Jirani said with a nod. The two of them had served together on the Bellerophon before being posted to the Odyssey. “You were the former chief science officer on the Bellerophon, so you’re more than qualified.”

Reyas smirked at that idea and then turned back to her husband. McCallister knew he had no choice in denying the request. Before she said another work, he pressed the approve button and gave it his blessing. “Good luck,” He looked at Jonarom. “To you all!”

The two women both smiled at their accomplishment before leaving the ready room promptly.

“Umm, sir, what about my work in monitoring the Themis’ efforts?” Jonarom questioned after they had left the room.

McCallister considered the point for a second before replying. “Hand it over to Commander Court, I’m sure Tobias has plenty of free time.”

“I’ll make sure to tell him you said that, sir,” Jonarom replied, grinning. 

“Oh do!” McCallister said before dismissing the lieutenant. 

First Excursion – 2

USS Odyssey (NCC-80000), Verkien System, Kotaba Expanse, Swallow Nebula region, Delta Quadrant
Stardate: 78500.15

Alfie McCallister’s head collided with a stack of cargo containers, sending a dull thud echoing through the air. Despite the impact, he refused to let go of the woman in his arms, instead pressing her closer to him. Beatrice Grant stood before him, her eyes fixed on his with a longing intensity that made Alfie’s heart race. Lost in the heat of the moment, they kissed with a passion that threatened to consume them both. As Beatrice trailed her lips down from his mouth to his neck, Alfie let out a soft moan, his mind reeling with the realisation that he was sharing this moment with her.

“We should stop, Bea,” he whispered, but he didn’t resist as she nibbled on his neck.

“No way,” she replied, mirroring his tone before grabbing his uniform jacket and tugging at it with such force that it almost came off his body. “We still have another thirty minutes before we need to report for the briefing, and you’ve been avoiding me for days now.” 

Alfie felt his heart skip a beat as he looked at Beatrice. She was beautiful, and he couldn’t believe they were together like this. He was now topless and holding the girl of his dreams in his arms. Alfie knew he would never forget this moment. Then, the sudden pain of guilt hit his stomach. “Bea, we’ve got to be careful,” He said quietly between kisses. “I don’t want Jord finding out like this.”

Beatrice carried on planting kisses across his smooth neck as she listened to his worries. She groaned inwards at the mention of his friend’s name. Looking up at him, she paused. “Alf, we said it before; he doesn’t need to know as long as we’re careful.” She jumped into his arms and smacked her lips against his. 

Though he had been working on his upper body strength since becoming a cadet, Alfie wasn’t that strong, and the two of them fell to the deck with a soft thud. The commotion didn’t stop their vibrant exchange of kisses. 

Pushing her off his chest gently, Alfie responded to what she had just said as he undid her jacket and started to place soft pecks along her neck. “I know, Bea, but I’m not sure this is right; you and me seeing each other like this while you two are meant to be together.”

Pausing from what she was doing, Beatrice sat up straight from where she was on top of Alfie’s chest. “You want to stop this?”

He looked nervous in his reply and didn’t say anything at first.

Jumping in, Beatrice gave him the curt response he wasn’t expecting. “Alfie, this is only a bit of fun. Something to let off steam. It means nothing.”

“That makes me feel better,” Alfie grumbled back as he pushed himself up with both elbows. “Jordan is my best friend, and you’re his girlfriend. This is wrong.”

“If you want, I’m open to bringing Jordan into this if that’s what you want?” Beatrice offered, almost mocking his comment.

Now, he glared at her. “He’s my best friend, not my secret bit on the side, Bea.”

“Sometimes you two could fool me,” she sarcastically remarked as she got up, straightened her uniform out, and pushed her hair, which had been pulled out of its usual bun, back behind her ears. “Fine, if you don’t want to do this anymore, find someone else to muck around with.

Still lying on the floor, bare-chested, Alfie raised his hands up in surprise. “Hey, I didn’t say I wanted to stop completely now.”

Beatrice picked up the undershirt and jacket she had thrown across the cargo bay floor before chucking it back in Alfie’s direction. “Alf, I don’t want to be with a boy who can’t have some secret fun without worrying about what his bestie is going to think.”

“Hey, that’s not fair, Bea,” Aflie replied, quickly pulling the undershirt over his head. “You’re the one who started this, and it was only meant to be a one-time thing.”

“Yeah, before me and Jordan got together,” She snapped back as she finished making herself look presentable. She turned back to him. “We could have had something if you didn’t put him first.”

“So why are you still with him and ‘screwing’ around with me?” Alfie countered back as he stuck one arm through his jacket before doing the other.

“Because you’re both too stupid to resist me,” She said with a chuckle. She planted one more kiss on his lips before almost skipping off. “Plus, you know if you say anything, that would be it for your friendship with Jordan.” She added. 

Alfie held back his reaction as he watched Beatrice skip away, her lack of guilt in her wake. The moment the cargo bay doors closed behind her, he let out a huge sigh. Turning around to face the containers they had knocked over, he banged his head against the one that was standing tall. Hoping he could knock some sense into himself. Why did he allow himself to become trapped in all of this? Realising he could never find the solution to the mess he was now in, Alfie returned to cleaning up the actual mess he and Beatrice had made. Quickly and quietly, he sorted it out before exiting the cargo bay himself. 

“Alf!” The familiar voice sounded behind him, but Alfie hadn’t heard it, so the moment he felt a pair of hands on the back of his shoulders, he almost jumped out of his skin. 

However, his heart was now rushing again for all of the wrong reasons compared to how it had raced earlier. Turning around, Alfie knew who it was. “Jordan,” He said to his friend as their eyes caught one another. Alfie felt his face go red as the sense of guilt washed over him, making him feel almost sick.

“You okay?” Jordan asked as he looked at it with a sense of concern. “You look all hot and bothered.”

Alfie shook his head and motioned it was nothing. “I’m fine.” He replied almost curtly.

“You sure?” Jordan pressed. “I thought you were doing a cargo inventory with Beatrice? How come you are all hot, flushed and sweaty? Have you been hitting the gym without me?”

Shaking his head, Alfie stumbled through his response as he quickly attempted to shut that subject down. “No, no,” He answered at first. “Some cargo containers had to be rearranged, and I did it all.”

Jordan sniggered before shaking his head. “Sounds like Beatrice. She refuses to lift anything heavy unless there’s an officer nearby.” He clapped the back of his friend’s back before putting his arm over his shoulder as they started to carry on walking down the corridor. “Do you fancy grabbing something to eat before this briefing?”

Hesitating and stuttering, Alfie declined the offer. “I’m good, thanks, Jord, but I should go grab a shower and a clean uniform before the briefing. You know how much my mom has been nagging me to ensure I don’t show her up in front of the other cadets. I can’t turn up looking like this,” He pointed to his dishevelled attire. “Maybe dinner later?”

Jordan accepted his friend’s decision. “Ah, man, I’d love to have dinner with you, but I’ve organised for Beatrice and me to have dinner at The Celestial Temple.”

“The Bajoran restaurant?” Alfie clarified.

Nodding, Jordan confirmed. “Yeah, she’s been bugging me to take her ever since you made us that hasperat souffle a few weeks ago.”

“Oh, okay,” Alfie responded quietly. “Well, have a good time!”

“You could come!” Jordan offered as they entered a turbolift, and he dropped his arm from around Alfie.

Shaking his head almost at transwarp speeds, Alfie declined the offer. “Thanks, but I don’t want to be a third nacelle.”

“You won’t be a third nacelle, mate; you know I love having you around, and Beatrice loves you too!” Jordan replied with an innocent chuckle.

“Yeah, I know,” Alfie said solemnly as the turbolift doors closed before him. 

Moments later, they entered Alfie’s room. Turning to his friend, Alfie looked at him. “Seriously, Jord, you don’t need to follow me everywhere I go.”

“Ouch,” Jordan said mockingly as he bounced on Alfie’s king-size bed. “I’ve got nothing else best to do, plus we’ve not really hung out a lot lately.”

Alfie couldn’t deny that. “I know, man, and I’m sorry for that. I suppose our classes have kept us apart lately,” he said. 

As Alfie and Jordan had been friends for a while, they had grown comfortable in each other’s company. So, when Alfie started to pull off his uniform jacket, it was a familiar sight to Jordan. It was a routine act that they had seen each other perform many times before when they had been around each other’s quarters. They had slept over at each other’s places and spent countless hours working alongside each other. Their friendship had grown steadily over time. They were now at ease in each other’s presence, and it was evident in the way they interacted with each other. As Alfie pulled his undershirt off, revealing his bare chest, Jordan couldn’t help but react with a short, sharp noise.

“What is that on your neck and chest, dude?” He said as he scrambled to his feet and pointed to the marks. 

Exposing what Beatrice had done to him earlier, Alfie went all red and cursed himself inwards. “It’s nothing,” He said, quickly covering his body.

“No, it’s not,” Jordan said, pushing Alfie’s hands down. “Dude, those are bite marks.” He then froze and looked deeply into his friend’s eyes. “Alfie, did you-”

“It’s not what you think, Jord,” Alfie stammered.

“Oh my,” Jordan said as he stepped back; he rubbed his face and pushed his fingers through his hair. “Why didn’t you tell me!”

“Because this isn’t how I wanted to tell you,” Alfie said; the shame was now overwhelming him as he stood there staring at his friend, feeling like a fool and wanting a wormhole to open up underneath him and deposit him thousands of light years from where he was.

“Alf, I always knew it!” Jordan exclaimed back as he placed his hands on his hips. “You know it’s okay.”

“It is?” Alfie quizzed, confused by that statement.

“Hell, yeah,” Jordan said as he jogged over and hugged his friend tightly. “I’m so pleased for you, man.”

“You are?” Alfie asked one more time. 

“Hell, yeah!” Jordan exclaimed. “I knew something was going on.”

“You did?”

“Yes!” Jordan said, his voice pitch getting higher. “All those reasons for standing me up and those long hours in the gym.” He stepped back. “Seriously, Alfie, I am so happy for you.”

“Wait, what?” Alfie said as he finished being hugged by his friend. “What are you happy for?”

“You and Brook!” 

“Me and Brook?” Alfie echoed, his response a bit startled. 

“Yeah!” Jordan said as he smacked his forehead. “I can’t believe I didn’t see it sooner. He has been flirting with you in almost every class since he got on the ship. Then you said to him the other week that you think you are interested in Klingon martial arts, and then when you two have been sharing gym sessions, it makes all sense now.” Jordan then pointed to the marks on Alfie’s chest. “Damn, you must really enjoy the Klingon romance.”

Alfie didn’t know what to say. Instead, he stood there frozen. How could Jordan have made that connection so much? 

“Beatrice told me that she noticed a spark between you two, especially when Athena didn’t seem interested in you, and you said she wasn’t your type,” Jordan chuckled. “Ah, Alfie, you should have said something sooner.”

“Really?” Alfie said, still stunned. 

“Yes!” Jordan yelled again. “And oh my god, you weren’t moving things in the cargo bay, were you? You were hooking up with him, weren’t you! Oh my god, does Beatrice know before me? Has she been covering up for you? Can I tell her that I know?”

“No!” Alfie said quickly, rushing over to Jordan and holding his hands from tapping his combadge. He didn’t know what else to do. “Please, Jordan, say nothing.”

Jordan paused as he felt his friend’s glare on him. “Why not?” He pleaded. “I promise to not tell anyone else.”

“Jordan, please don’t say anymore,” Alfie begged him. “I don’t want it becoming the gossip of our unit, especially with what my mother has said.”

Jordan appeared to realise and understand his friend’s concern. “Okay, fine, but I get to be your best man at your wedding!”

Alfie gave out a nervous chuckle. “You’ll need to fight Henri and Theo for that role,” He remarked, trying to change the subject as he pulled Jordan down onto his bed to sit on its edge. “Now, promise me you won’t say anything to anyone about this.”

Jordan sighed and appeared to deflate. “Alright, I promise.” He smiled at his friend. “I’m pleased for you, Alfie; I think Brook is perfect for you.”

“Really?” Alfie questioned, not sounding so sure about that.

“Hell yeah!” Jordan nodded furiously. “Beatrice always says that opposites attract, and you two are completely opposite of one another.”

“Does she really?” Alfie asked as he looked down at his feet.

“Yeah,” Jordan said, trying to remain positive. “Plus, once you’re ready, we can trouble date!” 

“Double,” Alfie corrected Jordan with a smirk as he looked at his friend. He realised there, and then he had to find a way to escape the mess he had created. He couldn’t break up what he had with Jordan. With his brothers no longer on the Odyssey, Jordan was the closest thing he had to a brother, and Alfie didn’t want to mess that up. Though he knew he had already. Maybe dating Brook Westerham-Banfield wouldn’t be a bad thing, even if it was for a short while. Alfie shook his head. “Listen, let’s just say it’s early days, and we’re not going to make this a big thing.”

“I get it, Alf, I really do,” Jordan smiled sweetly at him and pulled him in for a hug. “I’ve got your spine like you have mine.”

Alfie chuckled at how Jordan still got some phrases and idioms wrong. “Back, not spine, but thanks.” He let go of Jordan again and smiled. “I don’t deserve to have a friend like you.”

Jordan ruffled Alfie’s hair. “Now you’re getting sentimental, so before you declare your undying love for me, I’m going to leave you,” Jordan hopped off the bed, “So you can get showered and change in pieces.”

“Peace,” Alfie said, correcting him again. “Thanks; I’ll see you at the briefing.”

“Sure,” Jordan said as he approached the door and stopped on the open threshold. “I’m so happy for you, Alf.”

“Thanks, Jordan,” Alfie said, looking up at his friend and watching him exit. The moment the doors closed, Alfie gave out a huge sigh and fell backwards onto his bed. He found the nearest pillow and screamed into it.

First Excursion – 3

USS Odyssey (NCC-80000), Verkien System, Kotaba Expanse, Swallow Nebula region, Delta Quadrant
Stardate: 78500.23

“Cadets, this will be a short training excursion,” shared Captain Reyas from the podium she stood at. Behind her was a large wall monitor, and on either side of her were holographic projectors. “Our primary objective will be assisting with mapping this M-class moon orbiting the sixth planet in this system. This J-class planet is your run-of-the-mill gas giant. Nothing exciting unless you’ve never seen a gas giant before.”

Like others in the lecture hall, Brook chuckled at the captain’s remark. He sat there listening intently as Reyas continued with her briefing. Brook was so excited to hear that the entire cadet unit was finally undertaking their first mission off the ship and being left to undertake an assignment on the Telemachus. He had been itching to do field work since they entered the Delta Quadrant, but every cadet had been denied the chance. However, he understood why they had not been left alone yet. Frontier Day. Neither Captain Reyas nor Commander Jirani needed to say it, but they clearly wanted the unit to prove themselves a success. It was etched across their expressions. Hence, a small excursion was a step in the right direction. Both women appeared confident and optimistic as they continued the briefing. Giving everyone a detailed account of what they will be doing, Reyas provided tips and hints along the way. 

Before he could listen more, Brook had noticed how closely Alfie McCallister was beside him. Though they had started to hang out more in recent weeks, mainly in the gym or undertaking Klingon martial arts, Brook had considered him a solid friend. Someone he was happy to get to know more. That said, since arriving for the briefing, Brook had noticed how touchy and close Alfie had been with him. Brook couldn’t deny it; Alfie was a handsome guy, and he did fancy him, but Brook didn’t think that Alfie was into him like that. Brook had noticed Alfie’s clean appearance when he arrived in the lecture hall and how clean he smelt. Though Brook knew himself that he was a huge flirt, it was one of his many charms; he had not noticed Alfie like that before. If anything, Brook had been confident that the captain’s son was more interested into the likes of his twin sister or Beatrice Grant. Maybe he was reading the signals wrong. He wasn’t sure. Shaking his head, Brook re-focussed his work on the rest of the briefing. 

“Now, as many of you know, the Telemachus and every other Aquarius-class support ship attached to the Odyssey has received the misfortune of getting a reputation for being lost,” Reyas stated. “I want to break that bad luck cycle.”

More chuckles filled the lecture hall. Brook had overheard such things from his mother and father. 

“We don’t want to give Fleet Captain McCallister a heart attack, so let’s ensure we all come back in one piece, ship and crew!” Commander Jirani added.

Agreeing with her deputy, Reyas told everyone they were dismissed and off duty to pack and prepare for their departure at nine hundred hours tomorrow morning. She added another final note, telling the cadets she was sending their quarter allocations for the Telemachus. Instantly, Brook looked down at his PADD and saw the document come through.

“Looks like we’re all stuck together,” remarked Jordan Duncan-Court, sitting on the other side of Alfie. He had already skimmed the message from their superiors. “Don’t worry, guys. I’ll make sure Jameel and I keep out of your way, ” he whispered with a smirk.

Confused by that comment, Brook looked at Jordan, whose smirk had grown into a huge goofy grin. He then turned to Alfie, who was now blushing as red as his uniform. Was there something more he was missing here? Brook had learned that Jordan, though attractive to look at and clever in most things, hadn’t gotten the hang of certain social norms since joining the Odyssey’s crew over a year ago. 

Deciding to ignore the comment and Alfie’s reaction, Brook shrugged them off and looked over to the other side of Jordan, where Jameel sat. The half-Deltan-half-Boslic cadet had short purple hair, a trait he had picked up from one of his mothers. Jameel was a quiet guy, and he rarely socialised with them all. He kept to himself most of the time. 

“Jameel, do you fancy grabbing a bite to eat later?” Brook offered to him.

The Deltan-Boslic cadet looked up from the PADD he was focussing on and smiled at Brook. “Umm,” He stuttered at first. “Sure?”

“Why don’t we all go out later?” Brook suggested to Alfie and Jordan. “Seeing as we’re going to be stuck together over the next few days, we should get used to it sooner.”

Alfie agreed with that idea. “Why not!”

“I’m game!” Jordan replied before he looked at Alfie, seeking assurance that he had gotten that phrase right (Alfie just nodded silently). 

“Excellent!” Brook said, smiling as he picked up his belongings. “Shall we meet up in The Barn and go from there?”

The others agreed before he said goodbye and started to make his way out. Before he could get out of one of the exits, he heard Alfie call after him. Freezing in his steps, he turned around to see the young man dashing after him. 

“Everything okay, Alfie?”

Alfie hesitated to respond straight away and seemed a bit flustered. “Brook,” He started and stuttered like Jameel had just done. “I-I-I,” Pausing, Alfie took a deep breath in. “Listen, I’m sorry for Jordan’s comment.”

Somewhat relieved at hearing that, Brook sighed a bit and relaxed his shoulders. “It’s okay; it was just a bit out of the blue.”

Scratching the back of his head, Alfie agreed. “Yeah, I know, it’s just-” He hesitated again. “It’s just Jordan thinks I like you.”

Brook felt his heart stop for a second. “Come again?”

“He thinks I like you,” Alfie said in a hushed tone as a few cadets passed them. He then pulled Brook by the arm so they were out of earshot of others. “He got the wrong end of the stick from something that happened earlier, and I’m sorry-”

“Well, do you?”

Alfie froze and looked at Brook. He blinked a few times before answering. “Well, I-I-I,” Alfie didn’t know what to say.

“Listen, Alfie, I don’t mind waiting while you think about it, but just know, I like being your friend, and if you want more, that’s cool,” Brook said without hesitation and leaned in and kissed Alfie’s left cheek. “That’s just a taster for what could happen.” He winked at him before walking away. Looking over his shoulder, he gave Alfie one more smirk before making his way down the corridor, not realising he had just stumped his fellow cadet.

Still standing there, bewildered at what had just happened, Alfie blinked a few times. 

“I told you he liked you!” Jordan said as he approached Alfie with his goofy grin. 

Alfie shook his head. “Shut up, Jordan,” He replied before shoving him gently as they made their way down the other direction from where Brook had walked away. 

As they passed another crowd of cadets, Beatrice Grant looked at Alfie and gave him a look that could have killed him. Instantly, he knew she had seen what had transpired between him and Brook and what Jordan had said. 

Why did everything have to become so complicated, he wondered. 

“Cadet McCallister-Reyas!” A stern voice said from behind Alfie and Jordan.

Alfie groaned inwards as he recognised those familiar, motherly tones. Turning on the heels of his boots, he gave Jordan a look to say he would catch up with him before he faced his mother. “Captain Reyas, yes, ma’am.”

 “My office,” Reyas indicated towards the door on the opposite side of the corridor.

Acknowledging her orders, Alfie followed her into the room before it was just the two of them. She gestured for him to sit on the long sofa in the centre of the room. The doors closed behind them, and the captain ordered herself a mug of tea and one for him, too. After handing it to him once it was made, she sat on the armchair opposite him.

“You okay, Alf?” She asked her son sincerely before sipping her tea.

Alfie was starting to think that today would be filled with so much bafflement. “Ma’am?”

“Drop the rank, Alf. It’s just us two. Mother and son,” Reyas insisted.  

He sighed. “Yeah, I’m fine, why?”

Reyas squinted her eyes at him. “You sure?”


She glared at him one more time. Alfie was sure she could read his mind without being a telepath. “Okay, it’s just your father, and I have noticed you’ve been a bit distant recently.”

“I’m fine,” Alfie insisted. “I suppose I’m still getting used to not having Theo and Henri around.”

His mother nodded. “Understandable.”

“And, it’s still weird to come to terms with-”

“Me coming back from the dead?” Reyas guessed.

“Yeah,” Alfie agreed. “It’s still weird to think about.” Automatically, he noticed that his mother couldn’t disagree with that sentiment. 

“Weird is certainly part of this job,” she advised him. “I just noticed you’ve been spending a lot of time with Brook. You two seem close.”

Alfie really did want the universe to open beneath him and suck him in. Being abducted by some sort of subspace creature would be really helpful right now, he thought. “What do you mean?” He asked in between sips.

Reyas looked at him sternly. “A mother knows best, Alf.” She said, “Just be careful how you play with others and their hearts. That’s all I’m saying.”

Alfie blushed again. “Mom, please, it’s embarrassing enough hearing the sex talk from dad. I can’t bear it with you either.”

“That’s charming,” Reyas said in a mocking tone. “But, I mean it when I say your father and I are always here for you. Just be careful.”

“I always am, Mom, I promise.”

Though he hadn’t entirely convinced her, Alfie knew it was enough as she let him leave her office. Instantly, he hurried back to his quarters to escape from everyone. Alfie hoped packing for his trip would bring him peace and quiet from all the drama he found himself in.

First Excursion – 4

USS Odyssey (NCC-80000), Verkien System, Kotaba Expanse, Swallow Nebula region, Delta Quadrant
Stardate: 78502.2

Jonarom stood in his quarters aboard the Odyssey, the soft hum of the ship’s systems providing a constant backdrop to his thoughts. He moved with purpose, his lean frame darting between the small space as he prepared for the upcoming excursion aboard the Telemachus. 

His fingers deftly packed his bag with the essentials: spare uniforms, a data pad filled with scientific journals and research notes, a well-worn copy of “Echoes Across the Stars: A Linguist’s Journey Through the Cosmos by Hoshi Sato” and a photograph of his family back on Ardana. Despite his confidence in his abilities, a nagging sense of unease settled in the pit of his stomach as he meticulously organised his belongings.

“Am I really ready for this?” he murmured to himself, his reflection staring back at him from the polished surface of the dresser.

The invitation to join the training excursion aboard the Telemachus had come from Commander Jirani, a familiar face from their time together on the Bellerophon. Jonarom respected Jirani’s judgment, but the prospect of spending time with a group of cadets made his nerves jangle with anticipation. He had only been out of the academy for a year; would he be the right person to show them the ‘ropes’? 

With his bag now packed with clothes and a few personal items, Jonarom took a deep breath and headed for the door. As he stepped out into the corridor, he nearly collided with someone coming the other way. It was Cadet Alfie McCallister, the son of Captain Reyas and Fleet Captain McCallister. Jonarom’s gaze immediately shifted to the pensive expression on the young cadet’s face.

“Hey, Cadet McCallister,” Jonarom greeted, offering a warm smile despite the flutter of nerves in his chest. “Heading to the Telemachus?”

McCallister nodded, his gaze momentarily flickering to the floor before meeting Jonarom’s eyes. “Yeah, just getting ready for the training excursion,” he replied, his voice tinged with a hint of apprehension. After a second, He added ‘sir’ and realised he needed to address Jonarom formally. 

Jonarom sensed more beneath the surface, a weight pressing down on the young cadet’s shoulders. “Is everything alright, cadet?” he asked gently, stepping closer to offer a reassuring presence.

The young McCallister hesitated, his fingers nervously adjusting the strap of his duffel bag. “It’s nothing, really,” he murmured, a fleeting smile attempting to mask the turmoil within.

But Jonarom could see through the facade, recognising the telltale signs of inner turmoil. He had them himself. “You don’t seem alright,” he remarked, his tone soft but earnest. Jonarom hadn’t interacted much with the captain’s son since he joined the Odyssey earlier in the year but knew of his reputation as a hard worker and quick learner. Also, Jirani had told him that Alfie reminded her of their former captain, Alfie’s uncle, Captain Horatio McCallister. That Captain McCallister had been like a mentor for Jonarom. He had seen his potential and offered him a chance to be more when he was assigned to the Bellerophon. He had appreciated Horatio McCallister’s faith in him, so now he felt the need to repay that. Who better than McCallister’s nephew? “If you need someone to talk to, I’m here.”

“Thank you, sir. I just got a lot on my mind, you know?” McCallister offered as an excuse. 

As they made their way down the corridor towards the turbolift, Jonarom could sense McCallister’s internal struggle. The cadet’s shoulders sagged ever so slightly, burdened by the weight of his unspoken troubles.

“It’s not about the training, is it?” Jonarom ventured, his voice gentle yet probing. He didn’t want to get into a guessing game with the cadet; however, he wasn’t prepared to let the captain’s son start his first proper away mission like this. Especially when McCallister’s own mother was commanding it. 

McCallister shook his head, a sigh escaping his lips. “No, it’s… it’s personal,” he admitted, his gaze fixed on the passing bulkheads as if searching for solace in the familiar surroundings of the ship.

Jonarom nodded understandingly, respecting the boundaries of McCallister’s privacy while silently offering his support. “Well, if you ever need someone to listen, I’m here,” he offered his words, a beacon of reassurance in the midst of uncertainty.

McCallister’s eyes lingered on Jonarom momentarily, and then he sighed. “Thanks, Lieutenant. But it’s nothing, really. As I said, it’s just some personal stuff. I’ll figure it out.”

They started walking together towards the turbolift, Jonarom keeping pace with the distracted cadet. “Well, we’re all in this together, right? And hey, we’re about to embark on a training mission. It’s just practice, nothing to be too stressed about.”

McCallister let out a small laugh, a brief break in his sombre expression. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. It’s hard to focus on training when your mind is elsewhere.”

As they entered the turbolift, Jonarom couldn’t help but offer a reassuring smile and make another attempt to see if McCallister would share more. “Look, we’re all a team on this ship. If you ever need someone to talk to or even to listen, as I offered, I’m here. No judgment. We’ve all been through a lot lately, and sometimes things sneak up on us and can distract us from what we should be focussing on.”

McCallister looked genuinely appreciative, even if he didn’t accept the offer. “Thank you, sir. I’ll keep that in mind.”

The turbolift doors closed, leaving the two officers in a momentary silence. Jonarom couldn’t shake the feeling that there was more to McCallister’s troubles than met the eye, but he respected the cadet’s privacy. As the lift carried them towards the hangar bay where the Telemachus awaited, Jonarom couldn’t help but hope that their training mission would provide a welcome distraction for the cadet and the rest of his fellow trainees.

When they reached the hanger, McCallister made his excuse for leaving Jonarom’s presence, rushing across the deck towards the airlock to enter the Telemachus by himself. Not bothering to say anymore, Jonarom paced himself as he walked to the viewing area. He was surprised to see several familiar faces waiting there. Lieutenant Commanders Rosle and Jayshon, Doctor Corben and Lieutenant Jisaraa were congregated by the small number of armchairs and sofas.

“Jonny!” exclaimed Doctor Corben as she pulled him in for a brief hug. 

Jonarom returned the gesture towards Corben. The two were close, thanks to their time on the Bellerophon. “I didn’t know you were also assigned to this mission?”

“Can you blame any of us for agreeing to help Captain Reyas?” Corben replied after letting go of the younger man. “Doctor Slyvexs was happy to give me something else to do.”

“Babysitting cadets doesn’t seem your style, Sarella,” Jonarom remarked to the Betazoid woman. 

“I think Slyvexs’ wisdom and suggestive ideas of empowering the next generation have been rubbing off on her,” Rosle remarked. The Starfighter pilot smirked at Jonarom. “I must admit, though, I don’t think I could remain sickbay while the ship is undergoing a standard and very boring mapping mission.”

“The same must be said for you and your pilots in the hanger bay,” Corben countered to the Tandaran. 

Rosle agreed with that assessment with a simple nod. “That and I really want to see what these Aquarius class escorts can do.”

“You really think Captain Reyas will let you fly the Telemachus like a starfighter?” Jisaraa questioned as she crossed her arms against her chest. “I’m hoping to convince her and Commander Jirani to let me take these cadets through their paces with some close-quarter training, but I’m not sure I’ll be lucky to do that!”

“Still trying to find some more potentials to join the Hazard Teams, Jisaraa?” Corben gently mocked her new friend.

“Absolutely, and there’s nothing wrong in showing the cadets the ropes,” Jisaraa said with a smug smile. 

At that point, Jonarom noticed the arrival of Captain Reyas and Commander Jirani. The other saw them arrive, and at that moment, both senior officers greeted them and thanked them all for agreeing to join their training exercise. Jonarom, for a moment, wondered if he should tell Reyas about his interaction with her son and then, in a flash, he saw Corben give him a look that just told him no. Had he really thought that out loud that she had heard it telepathically? 

“Any questions?” Reyas asked. 

“Ask now as we all form the senior staff for this mission,” Jirani added.

None of the other officers replied besides showing their eagerness to get going. Reyas smiled at them all and then suggested they board the Telemachus. As she led the group towards the airlock, Jonarom looked at Corben and whispered whether she heard his thoughts.

“It was hard not to,” She whispered back. “Is everything okay?”

“I think so,” He said in similar low tones. 

“If it isn’t, can I suggest you check in on the captain’s son,” Corben advised. “We can’t have him or her not focussed on what we are about to embark on.”

“Understood,” Jonarom said with a nod.

At that point, it was clear that Commander Jayshon had listening to their conversation. He turned to Jonarom and uttered what Jonarom took as some sort of suggestion. “Darmok and Jalad on the ocean, Unzak, when he guided the florkas to their roost.”

Corben looked at Jonarom, hoping for a translation based on her expression. 

Jonarom sighed. “I think our acting chief engineer is telling me this could be quite a challenge as I try to help Alfie.”

“Well, good luck, or it will be Shaka when the walls fell!” Corben uttered as they entered the Telemachus

Hoping that wouldn’t be the case, Jonarom kept a mental note to find the cadet and catch up with him.

First Excursion – 5

USS Telemachus (NCC-80000/2-A), Verkien System, Kotaba Expanse, Swallow Nebula region, Delta Quadrant
Stardate: 78502.4

“Cadet Alfie Thomas McCallister-Reyas, don’t you dare ignore me!” 

Sighing inwards, Alfie almost rolled his eyes as he turned to face his friend, quickly approaching him from behind. “I wasn’t ignoring you, Cadet Jordan Luke Duncan-Court!” He replied, emphasising his friend’s rank and names as much as he did.

Jordan picked up his pace and approached Alfie. “What’s this I hear that you’ve requested an assignment to the engineering team. I thought we were going to do science department together for this excursion?”

Alfie felt guilty that Jordan found out this way. “I had a change of heart and thought doing system analysis would help me better.”

Jordan took a step back, his upset showing in his expression. “But we’ve always done everything together.”

“I know, Jordan, but we don’t need to do everything together,” Alfie countered. “There’s nothing wrong with us taking a break from each other.”

Jordan appeared even more confused and hurt by that, and quickly, Alfie realised how mean that sounded. He stepped forward and grabbed hold of both of Jordan’s arms. “I’m sorry, Jordan, I didn’t mean it like that.”

Shaking his head, Jordan shrugged his friend’s hold off from him. “No, I don’t think you are.” He said.

Realising they were out in a public place, more specifically, in the corridors of deck three next to the mechanical bay, Alfie gestured for them to enter the bay. Jordan just shook his head and crossed his arms against his chest. 

“I’m genuinely sorry, Jordan, I am, and that was a poor choice of words. You know I love spending time with you,” Alfie pleaded with Jordan. “You’re my best mate, my bud, and I should have told you. I am genuinely sorry.”

Jordan then looked at his friend for a second before his eyes opened wide. “I know why you put the request of assignment in.”

“You do?”

“It’s Brook, isn’t it?” Jordan said with a huge sigh. “Man, and you say Bea and I are super close. I wondered what department he was being assigned to. You want to do engineering because he is there. Don’t you?”

Sighing loudly, Alfie shook his head. Alfie couldn’t believe the mess he was in with this deception of going along with Jordan’s conspiracy that he fancied Brook Westerham-Banfield, but the actual truth (which Jordan didn’t know) was that he was having an affair with Jordan’s girlfriend, Beatrice, without him knowing. Now Alfie found himself deep in this mess with no way out. “Jordan, Brook isn’t in engineering. He’s in science, too.”

That statement confused Jordan further. “Science?” He paused. “So why don’t you want to do science with me, Athena, Brook and Beatrice?”

“It’s…” Alfie paused before he answered. “Complicated.”

“Complicated?” Jordan asked. The young cadet still appeared perplexed. “What’s complicated about it?”

“I can’t explain, Jordan,” Alfie said. His heart was now aching at the web of lies he found himself in and how much he didn’t want to upset his best friend. Jordan’s eyes looked like a sad puppy. “Please, just drop it, Jordan.”

Jordan crossed his arms. “No, we’ve always told each other everything, so why don’t you want to tell me what’s going on?”

Alfie placed his hands on his hips as he tried to find the words. “Jordan, it’s just…” He paused again as he wrangled with the right approach. “I don’t want anything to happen that will change what we have between us.” He pointed to them both. “You mean so much to me, and the whole thing with Brook isn’t what you think it is. Don’t get me wrong, he is a nice guy; he’s charming, funny, good-looking, but I’m not sure he’s the one for me.”

“You’ve barely given it a chance, Alf,” Jordan replied instantly. 

“That’s not what I meant,” Alfie said, rubbing his temple. “I mean, he isn’t the one I like to be with.” He looked at Jordan, hoping he didn’t need to spell it out and was able to close this topic down soon. “I don’t want to upset you, Jordan and Beatrice said I shouldn’t say anything but I-I-can’t go any more without telling you the truth. You mean so much to me.” Alfie could feel his heartbreak, knowing he was about to lose his best friend as he admitted the truth. 

“Oh,” Jordan replied. His eyes were wide again as he somehow appeared to understand what Alfie was trying to say. “Oh.” He repeated and gasped for air. “I think I get it.” He took a big gulp. “I mean, I suppose I never saw it before.”

“Ah shit,” Alfie groaned. He could feel his eyes stinging from possible tears forming. “I’m sorry, Jordan, I didn’t want you to find out this way.”

Jordan took a step backwards. “It’s fine, cool even,” He said with several nods. “It’s flattering, and you know, Alf, that I love you more like a brother than anything else.”

Alfie nodded. “I know you do.” He then stopped and took a second to recap what Jordan just said. “Come again? What do you mean you’re flattered?”

“About us,” Jordan pointed between them. “Ah, man, did I mess up again, Alf?” He started to pace between the two bulkheads that were nearby. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, Alf, you’re handsome, and funny, and clever, and you mean the galaxy to me.” He looked thoughtfully at Alfie, “And we get on really well, and I’ve never thought of you that way, and I know people say we’re close, but I never thought of you that way.” He took in a deep breath. “But if you want something more, then I think I need time to think about it and think about whether or not I want to be with Beatrice or you.”

“No, wait, Jordan,” Alfie quickly said, trying to calm down his friend and stop him from spiralling any further. “Jordan, listen to me,” He reached out to Jordan with his hand.

“No, it’s fine, Alfie, I think you’re right. Perhaps spending some time apart in different departments is good for us. I need time to think, and I’m sorry if I ever made you think I want something more between us. It’s just, you know, with everything that happened to me, and Will and you were there to help me through it, and I suppose I took that comfort too far.” He paused again. Jordan was flustered, and his cheeks were now red. “I’m so embarrassed. I need to think.” 

Jordan locked eyes with Alfie for a moment, and in that moment, he took a chance. Without warning, he pulled Alfie close and pressed his lips to his in a passionate kiss. Alfie was caught off guard by Jordan’s sudden move, his body tensing up at first but then gradually melting into the embrace. The kiss was soft yet intense, and as soon as Jordan released his gentle hold on Alfie’s neck, Alfie took a deep breath, his heart still racing from the unexpected turn of events and him kissing his best friend. That wasn’t what he expected, and he regretted not saying something sooner to stop this hurricane of mess from hitting them both. 

He was so stupid. 

Jordan looked at Alfie with a mix of regret in his eyes, apologising once more before turning and running down the corridor, leaving Alfie stunned and breathless.

“Shit,” Alfie cursed himself. He was genuinely making a mess between himself and his friend. 

“I knew it,” spoke the words that made Alfie want to curl into the nearest escape pod. Beatrice Grant stood in her cadet uniform with her arms crossed at the other end of the corridor. She glared at Alfie. “You are such a pig, Alfie McCallister.”

“Beatrice, it’s not what you think,” He said, wiping his mouth; he could still feel the taste of Jordan’s lips on his. “You know Jordan doesn’t get certain social norms. He’s got it all wrong. I wasn’t professing my love for him.”

“It doesn’t matter; you were going to tell him about us and instead made him think you had a thing for him to hide the fact you won’t accept the truth that you are a pig,” Beatrice said as she approached him. “We are so over, and if you think I will keep what we did a secret, then you know nothing.”

“Beatrice, please,” Alfie pleaded. “You promised.”

“I promised nothing,” She snapped back. “You’ve dug this hole, Alfie McCallister; get out of it yourself.”

She shoved her shoulder into him and walked past. Her determination to ruin Alfie’s life in her wake.

Left alone in the corridor, Alfie couldn’t believe how much harder he had made everything.  He couldn’t shake off the sinking feeling in his chest as he trudged through the corridors of the Telemachus. The weight of his tangled web of lies and secrets seemed to grow heavier with each passing moment. His encounter with Jordan had left him feeling exposed and vulnerable, a far cry from the confident cadet he usually portrayed.

As he replayed the conversation in his mind, Alfie couldn’t help but feel a pang of guilt for deceiving his closest friend. Jordan’s hurt expression haunted him, a stark reminder of the consequences of his actions. He had never intended to hurt Jordan or jeopardise their friendship. Yet, here he was again, grappling with the fallout of his own deceit.

First Excursion – 6

USS Telemachus (NCC-80000/2-A), Verkien System, Kotaba Expanse, Swallow Nebula region, Delta Quadrant
Stardate: 78502.4

Captain Reyas stood at the centre of the bridge of the Telemachus, her eyes sweeping over the displays and consoles as the ship cruised through the vastness of space. Commander Jirani, her first officer and deputy training officer, stood by her side, a subtle nod passing between them as they prepared for the upcoming manoeuvres.

“Alright, cadets,” Reyas began, her voice commanding attention across the bridge. “We’re approaching our survey destination. Let’s make sure we’re all on the same page here.”

Reyas took her chair and nodded to Jirani to take the lead. Over the last few weeks, the two women had shared much time, getting to know each other’s experiences and where they wanted to go with leading the Cadet unit. This was their first test to see how their cadets would respond in a real-life situation. 

“Athena,” Jirani said as she approached the helm, “Take us into a standard orbit.”

With her distinct Klingon-Human features, Cadet Athena Westerham-Banfield sat poised at the helm, her fingers dancing across the controls. She glanced back at the captain, her determination evident in her gaze. “Aye, Commander,” Athena replied crisply, her focus unwavering as she adjusted their course.

Beside her, Cadet Jordan Duncan-Court, operating the science station, worked diligently, his mind focused on the data streaming in from the sensors. Standing behind him was Lieutenant Jonarom. The young science officer was supervising what was coming through. Reyas caught Jonarom’s eyes and gave him a wink before speaking. “Cadet Duncan-Court, start your initial sensor sweeps of the moon.)

“Science readings are coming in clear, Captain,” Jordan reported, his voice steady despite the tension brewing beneath the surface. Reyas had noticed how flustered Jordan had been when he had reported to the bridge earlier. He had appeared as though he had been crying when he arrived. His usual, happy self was replaced by someone who had appeared their heart had been ripped from them.  

Meanwhile, at engineering, Cadet Alfie McCallister-Reyas, her son, meticulously monitored the ship’s systems, his brow furrowed in concentration. Unbeknownst to her, his mind was preoccupied; however, she often saw him glancing over at his best friend. Reyas wanted to know what was happening, but she wouldn’t ask. Lieutenant Commander Jayshon stood by him; the Tamarian was guiding a low-tone. She didn’t want to interrupt anything but wanted an engineering update. 

“Cadet McCallister, system status update.” 

“Engineering systems are functioning within parameters, Captain,” Alfie announced, his voice hinting at unease.

Parking her concerns to one side, Reyas continued the check-ins with everyone else. At the security and tactical station, Cadet Beatrice Grant sat with a simmering intensity, her eyes darting between Alfie and Jordan. Reyas definitely could see something was going on that Grant was aware. Reyas noticed Grant held her composure though her internal turmoil threatened to spill over. Reyas exchanged a glance with Jirani, a silent acknowledgement passing between them as they observed the dynamics of their crew. The tension in the air was palpable, though its origins remained concealed from their view. As the ship drew closer to the moon, Reyas noted the strained interactions between Alfie and Jordan, a furrow forming between her brows.

“Cadets, remember, teamwork is paramount,” Reyas reminded them, her tone gentle yet firm. “We’re a unit and rely on each other to ensure our mission’s success.”

Jirani nodded in agreement, her gaze lingering on Alfie and Jordan with a mixture of concern and understanding. 

As the Telemachus glided closer to the moon, Reyas observed Alfie and Jordan, the tension between them palpable even amidst the hum of the bridge’s activity. She exchanged a meaningful glance with Jirani, both women silently acknowledging the delicate balance of emotions that ran through their young crew.

“Everything alright, Cadet McCallister-Reyas?” Reyas inquired, her tone gentle yet probing.

Alfie hesitated momentarily, his gaze flickering towards Jordan before meeting his mother’s eyes. “Yes, ma’am,” he replied, his voice betraying none of the turmoil that churned within him.

Reyas arched an eyebrow, her maternal instincts attuned to the subtle nuances of her son’s demeanour. She made a mental note to address the matter later, once they had completed their mission.

Jordan’s fingers danced across the controls at the science station, his movements fluid yet tinged with unease. He stole a quick glance at Alfie, the weight of their shared history hanging heavy between them.

“Cadet Duncan-Court, anything to report?” Reyas prompted, her gaze lingering on Jordan with a quiet intensity.

Jordan cleared his throat, his words carefully measured. “No anomalies, Captain. Just… standard readings,” he replied, though Reyas detected a hint of hesitation in his voice.

“As we approach the moon, begin scanning for any signs of interest; if not, let’s start looking for a suitable landing zone,” Jirani instructed, her voice cutting through the tension like a blade.

A silence fell over the bridge as the cadets busied themselves with their tasks. Reyas watched as Jordan and Alfie exchanged uneasy glances, their discomfort palpable in the air.

“Jordan, Alfie,” Jirani called out, her tone firm yet encouraging. “I need you to coordinate the scans together. We need comprehensive data.”

Jordan and Alfie exchanged a hesitant nod, their eyes briefly meeting before darting away. 

“Right, of course,” Jordan muttered, his voice strained as he busied himself with the controls. 

Alfie shifted uncomfortably in his seat, the weight of their unspoken tension hanging heavy between them.

“Look, Alfie…” Jordan began, his voice faltering as he struggled to find the right words.

Alfie met Jordan’s gaze; his expression was guarded yet vulnerable.

“We need to talk,” Jordan continued, his tone softening with sincerity.

Alfie nodded, a sense of apprehension tightening his chest as he braced himself for the conversation that lay ahead.

From her chair, Reyas knew there was something wrong between her son and his best friend. She knew it wasn’t proper for her to step in and say anything; however, she couldn’t let it interfere. She looked at Jirani and gestured with her head for them to walk over to the aft station for a brief chat. 

When she was satisfied no one else was in earshot, Reyas looked at her deputy and spoke calmly and in a low tone. “Edeena, I don’t like to cross the line here with my role as a captain and as a mother, but-” 

Before she could finish, Jirani interrupted her, showing her complete understanding. “But we can’t let them go on like this,” she remarked with a nod. She considered the issue for a second and then smiled at her captain. “Leave it with me. I have an idea.”

Appreciating the effort, Reyas thanked the commander before returning to her seat. She watched as Jirani took her PADD and wrote something into it before speaking up.

“Lieutenant Jonarom, would you and Cadet Duncan-Court head to our small stellar cartography lab and start mapping the moon from there, please?”

“Of course, ma’am,” Jonarom complied before Jirani covertly gestured to check his PADD. The young lieutenant looked down and soon saw the message she had sent him. “It’d be my pleasure to sort that out, commander.” He said with a smirk.

Jirani then looked over at Jayshon. “Jayshon, I’d like a probe prepped and ready to place on the moon’s far side to assist with our survey. Can you take Cadet McCallister to oversee such work, please?”

“Soketh, his eyes uncovered,” Jayshon replied before leading the young cadet off the bridge.

Jirani turned around to look at Reyas, who mouthed a silent ‘thank you’ before quietly telling the captain she would give them an hour before looking in on them. Reyas appreciated Jirani’s efforts and hoped that some time apart may help. 

She could only hope.

First Excursion – 7

Verkien VI-B, Verkien System, Kotaba Expanse, Swallow Nebula region, Delta Quadrant
Stardate: 78505.5

The distant glow of the gas giant cast long shadows across the moon’s equatorial beach as Duncan worked with Jonarom, setting up the tent that would serve as their base camp. The gentle rhythm of the waves provided a soothing soundtrack to their labour. Occasional chirps and rustles from the dense, tropical foliage offered a hint of the exotic creatures that coexisted with them on the island.

After spending the last few days taking scans from orbit, Captain Reyas had ordered for the Telemachus to land on the moon. Teams were assembled and sent out on a range to undertake further research and surveys. After being assigned to Jonarom’s team, Cadet Jordan Duncan-Court started to find the distraction of doing something scientific helpful. The last day or so had been so intense privately for him, so studying alien bugs and scanning some rocks had been the best diversion he needed. 

Most of the survey teams had completed their assignments and now the next part of their excursion was going to start. Captain Reyas wanted to use the vast quantities of wilderness on the moon to put the cadets through the rigour of some survival training. Commander Jirani had planned a simple exercise for them to undertake: camping. 

For the young cadet, this was something he was already used to thanks to his fathers taking him and his brother camping often. In fact, after they had been rescued, Jordan and William’s fathers had taken them camping on Mellstoxx III. That had been one of his favourite memories. Trekking across woodlands and then setting up tents within tall trees or beside the bank of a river. He had been taught how to cook over a fire and his fathers taught him some old Earth songs to sing. 

Jordan secured the tent stakes while his mind wandered again to his private life, preoccupied with the events of the past day. His friendship with Alfie had been strained ever since his impulsive act of kissing him in one of the corridors of the Telemachus. For the first time in ages, they had not spoken to one another. It hadn’t helped they shared a bunkroom and the tension had been untenable. Misunderstandings and hurt feelings had driven a wedge between them, leaving Jordan in a sea of uncertainty.

Beside him, Lieutenant Jonarom offered a supportive presence, his steady hands providing assistance wherever needed. Despite his higher rank, Jonarom treated Jordan with kindness and respect which eased some of the tension coiling in Jordan’s chest.

“Thank you for the help, Lieutenant,” Jordan said, breaking the comfortable silence between them. He wiped a bead of sweat from his brow, casting a brief glance at Jonarom’s weathered features.

Jonarom smiled warmly, his eyes crinkling at the corners. “No problem, Cadet. We’re all in this together.” He paused as checked the stability of the tent. “I have to admit, I’ve not camped since my own days at the academy. This is kind of fun.” 

Jordan returned the smile, grateful for the lieutenant’s companionship amidst the turmoil brewing within him. As they continued to work, a figure approached the tent, drawing Jordan’s attention away from his task.

It was Alfie, his expression hesitant as he approached, uncertainty evident in his every step. Jordan’s heart clenched at the sight of him, memories of their recent altercation flooding back with painful clarity.

“Hey,” Alfie greeted softly, his gaze flickering between Jordan and Jonarom. “I was told by Commander Jayshon to see if you guys needed any more fusing pegs or if I can offer a hand?”

Jordan exchanged a glance with Jonarom, who offered a subtle nod of encouragement. With a forced smile, Alfie gestured for Jordan to come closer, suppressing the swell of conflicting emotions churning within him.

“Sure, Alf. Help us finish setting up,” Jordan replied, his voice strained with the effort of maintaining a facade of normalcy.

As they worked together to secure the final stakes of the tent, an uneasy tension settled over the trio, the weight of their unspoken grievances hanging heavy in the air. Jordan stole glances at Alfie, his heart aching at the sight of his former friend’s troubled expression.

With the tent finally set up, Jonarom excused himself, leaving Alfie and Jordan alone outside the shelter of canvas and poles. The silence between them was palpable, the gentle lapping of the waves serving as a backdrop to their strained conversation.

“Alfie,” Jordan began tentatively, his voice barely above a whisper. “We need to talk.”

Alfie nodded his throat tight with apprehension. “Yeah, we do.”

They walked along the shoreline, the sand soft beneath their feet, the salty breeze ruffling their hair. Jordan stole glances at Alfie, noticing the turmoil etched into his features, the pain lurking behind his eyes.

“Look, Jordan,” Alfie started, his voice wavering slightly. “There’s something I need to tell you.”

Jordan turned to him, his expression a mix of curiosity and trepidation. “What is it?”

Taking a deep breath, Alfie braced himself for what was to come. “I… I’ve been seeing someone.”

Jordan’s brows furrowed in confusion, his gaze searching Alfie’s face for answers. “Seeing someone? So I was right all along? Who?”

Alfie hesitated, the words catching in his throat. “It’s… it’s Beatrice.”

The revelation hung between them like a heavy fog, suffocating in its intensity. Jordan’s eyes widened in disbelief, his features contorting with a mix of shock and hurt. “You’ve been… with Beatrice?” Jordan asked his voice barely a whisper, disbelief colouring his tone.

Alfie nodded, his gaze dropping to the sand beneath his feet. “I’m sorry, Jordan. I never meant for any of this to happen.”

Anger flared in Jordan’s eyes as he took a step back, his fists clenched at his sides. “We’re meant to be friends.” He paused as he took a breath. “And you never thought to tell me?”

“I didn’t know how,” Alfie admitted, his voice tinged with regret. “I knew it was wrong and I wanted to stop. I was scared of hurting you.”

Jordan shook his head, a bitter chuckle escaping his lips. “Hurting me? Hurting me?” He repeated with each question increasing with anger. “You’ve already done that.”

Guilt washed over Alfie, a sharp pang of remorse piercing his heart like a dagger as he struggled to find the right words. The gentle breeze off the ocean carried the faint scent of salt and tropical flowers, but the serenity of their surroundings was shattered by the tension between them.

“Jordan, I…” Alfie began, his voice faltering as Jordan closed the distance between them with a sense of urgency that caught him off guard. Their lips met in a tumultuous collision, a desperate attempt to bridge the chasm of misunderstanding that had formed between them. Alfie’s mind spun with confusion, his heart torn between conflicting emotions.

“Jordan, stop,” Alfie pleaded, his voice trembling with uncertainty as he gently pushed Jordan away, the taste of salt lingering on his lips. “This isn’t right.”

Tears welled in Jordan’s eyes, his breath hitching as he struggled to find the right words to express the turmoil raging within him. “I thought… I thought maybe…”

Alfie reached out to him, his hand trembling as he brushed away a tear from Jordan’s cheek. “Jordan, I care about you deeply. But not like that. I just want us to be friends. I’m sorry.”

A heavy silence settled between them, the weight of their unspoken words hanging heavy in the air like a dense fog. The rhythmic crash of the waves against the shore provided a sombre backdrop to their fractured conversation.

“Friends?” Jordan questioned, his voice cracking with emotion as he struggled to hold back tears. “A friend doesn’t betray his best friend’s trust and then make him question everything.”

Alfie winced at the truth in Jordan’s words, his own guilt gnawing at him like a relentless tide. “I’m sorry, Jord. I really am. I made a mistake with Beatrice, and I should have been honest with you from the start. And yesterday… that kiss… I know I didn’t say anything, and I crossed a line. Everything’s a mess. I am sorry.”

Each word hung heavy in the air between them, the weight of their shared history pressing down upon them like a burden too heavy to bear. Their friendship was now in a mess. The sun dipped lower on the horizon, casting long shadows across the beach as the evening approached, mirroring the darkness that had settled over their friendship.

“Please, Jordan,” Alfie implored, his voice barely above a whisper. “We need to sort this out.”

But Jordan shook his head, his gaze averted as he wiped away his tears with the back of his hand. “I can’t look at you right now, Alfie. I need time to process this… to figure out where we stand.” With that, he turned on his heel and walked away, leaving Alfie standing alone by the water’s edge, his heart heavy with regret and uncertainty, the echoes of their fractured friendship haunting the deserted beach.

As Cadet Brook Westerham-Banfield continued his duties around the campsite, he noticed Jordan walking back alone, his expression troubled. For the last twenty-four hours there had been some unbearable and unknown tension between Jordan and Alfie. No one knew why or what had happened. Both of them had always been seen as the golden couple of friends in the cadet unit. The golden hues of the setting sun painted the sky in warm tones, casting long shadows across the sandy beach. Concern gnawed at Brook’s gut as he watched his friend’s shoulders slump with the weight of unseen burdens. The gentle breeze off the ocean carried the scent of salt and tropical flowers, a stark contrast to the heaviness in the air.

Sensing something amiss, Brook approached his twin sister, Athena Westerham-Banfield, who was sorting through supplies nearby. She looked up, her gaze meeting Brook’s with a mixture of curiosity and concern.

“Athena, did something happen between Jordan and Alfie?” Brook asked, his brow furrowing with worry.

Athena nodded slowly, her expression sombre. “Yeah, Jordan mentioned something about him and Beatrice breaking up.”

Brook’s heart sank at the revelation. “Jordan and Beatrice? But they seemed so happy together…” He shook his head, struggling to comprehend the complexity of the situation. “Thanks, Athena.”

With a nod of acknowledgement, Brook lightly jogged over to where Jordan stood, his troubled gaze fixed on the horizon. The waves crashed gently against the shore, their rhythmic cadence a soothing backdrop to the tension hanging in the air.

“Hey, Jordan, everything okay?” Brook called out, his voice gentle yet concerned.

Jordan turned to face Brook, his eyes betraying the turmoil swirling within him. “Not really, Brook. It’s… it’s complicated.”

Brook nodded understandingly, offering a supportive presence. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Jordan hesitated, his emotions threatening to overwhelm him. “It’s Alfie… and me. I kissed him twice, thinking he had feelings for me.”

Shock rippled through Brook, his mind struggling to process the revelation. “You kissed Alfie? But why?”

Jordan nodded, his jaw clenched with suppressed anger and hurt. “I thought there was something between us, but… I was wrong. And then today, he told me everything about him and Beatrice.” He went on to talk about his best friend and girlfriend having a secret affair. 

Brook’s heart ached for his friend, the pain evident in Jordan’s voice cutting through him like a knife. “I’m sorry, Jordan. That sounds incredibly tough.”

Jordan sighed heavily, running a hand through his hair in frustration. “I don’t know what to do, Brook. Everything feels like it’s falling apart. I’m an idiot.”

Brook placed a reassuring hand on Jordan’s shoulder, offering whatever solace he could. “I know it hurts right now, but you’ll get through this. You’re stronger than you realize.”

Jordan managed a weak smile, gratitude shining in his eyes. “Thanks, Brook. I appreciate it.”

“Anytime, Jordan,” Brook replied, his voice filled with sincerity. “Just remember, things may seem bleak now, but there’s always a way forward. And sometimes, the hardest part is taking that first step.”

Their combadges then went off and the voice of Commander Jirani followed. “All cadets assembled at the central camp.”

First Excursion – 8

Verkien VI-B, Verkien System, Kotaba Expanse, Swallow Nebula region, Delta Quadrant
Stardate: 78508.2

As the sun rose on the second day of their survival trip, its golden rays shone on the rugged terrain ahead, casting long shadows that danced across the rocky hillside. Jordan and Alfie stood at the foot of the hill, their faces etched with determination as they prepared to face the challenges ahead. Sweat was already pouring down the faces from the humidity. 

Last night, Commander Jirani had told them and the rest of their training unit that they were pairing up every cadet to undertake a survival trip across the island they were on. It would last at least two to three days. Using the Telemachus’ transporters, each pair was beamed to an undisclosed location and left to their own devices. With each of them having a rucksack filled with gear to help them get from one point to another, they had to reach their endpoint within the set time. 

Stuck together, Jordan and Alfie sighed almost in unison as the pairs were read out. The level of tension between them was awful. Alfie had tried to speak to his mother about it, however, she had told him, as he packed his gear, that perhaps whatever was going on between him and his apparent best friend, being away from everyone might be what they needed. Alfie was starting to question his mother’s wisdom now. Yes, she was a Starfleet captain, but did she know what was happening between him and Jordan? He didn’t think so, and he now wished he had been paired up with either Brook or Athena. 

He and Brook had discussed their survival exercise as they had changed into their excursion gear while in their shared cabin on the Telemachus. Brook, like Alfie’s mother, had suggested to Alfie to try and find some way to get through to Jordan for the sake of their friendship. 

Since being ‘dropped off’, neither Alfie nor Jordan had said a thing to each other. The only noise made by them was from their boots hitting the squishy mud on the ground below and the odd beep coming from their tricorders. 

Now they had to climb the side of a rocky hill. 

“Alright, let’s do this,” Jordan said, his voice tinged with a hint of apprehension. He took some of their climbing gear out of his back and started to attach it to himself. They had covered basic rock climbing a few weeks ago on the holodeck, and it had been something that Jordan had naturally learnt. Alfie didn’t mind it, but it wasn’t something he would want to do for pleasure’s sake. 

Agreeing with Jordan, Alfie scanned the rocky slope before them with his tricorder. He wanted to be cautious in such a risky environment. “Just take it one step at a time, Jordan.” He advised then reached into his rucksack and took out his gear.

Jordan ignored Alfie as he started the climb. With each part he climbed upon, he stuck a fusing piton into the rock face and attached his climbing rope to it. Alfie followed close behind. Loose rocks clattered beneath their boots as they clambered upward, their muscles burning with sweat as they continued their ascent. 

“Watch your footing,” Alfie called out, extending a hand to steady Jordan as he stumbled on a loose boulder.

Jordan ignored the offer, his breath mingling with the crisp mountain air. It was obvious to Alfie, that Jordan just wanted to get through this without any more drama. That sent a pain into his chest. A few days ago, they had been the best of friends and inseparable cadets who were eager to become Starfleet officers together. Now they had argued, kissed twice and lost everything they had built over the last year or so. Too much hurt hung in the air between them. 

As they reached the halfway point, they paused to catch their breath, the panoramic view stretching out before them like a vast tapestry of green and gold. The distant roar of a waterfall echoed in the distance, a reminder of the challenges that still lay ahead.

“We’re halfway there,” Jordan said, his voice loaded with determination. “Let’s keep going.”

Alfie didn’t want to argue with Jordan anymore, and in his mind, he was trying to think of a way he could try and clear the air with Jordan. What could he say to change things? What would it take to get their friendship back on track? 

Finally, they reached the summit, their chests heaving with exertion as they gazed out at the breathtaking vista before them. The sun hung low on the horizon, casting a warm glow over the rugged landscape below.

“We made it,” Alfie said, a sense of pride was evident in his voice. 

Jordan nodded in agreement, a smile spreading across his face as he surveyed the view before them. “We make a pretty good team, don’t we?”

Pleased to hear his friend say that, Alfie grinned, his eyes glinting with mischief. “Not bad for a couple of first-year cadets, huh?”

With a shared short laugh, they began their descent down the opposite side of the hill, the rocky terrain giving way to lush vegetation as they entered the heart of the rainforest. Perhaps this is what they needed, Alfie pondered, time away from everything and just the two of them. Maybe his mother and Brook were right, and things would get better. 

He really hoped so. 

The air grew thick with further humidity as they trekked through the dense foliage, the canopy overhead filtering out the harsh rays of the sun. Vibrant insect noises filled the air, accompanied by the occasional rustle of leaves as they moved through the underbrush.

“We must be getting close to the waterfall,” Jordan remarked. He scanned the dense forest around them, trying to determine if they were still going in the right direction.

Alfie nodded in agreement; his gaze focused ahead as they pressed onward, the sound of rushing water growing louder with each step.

As they emerged from the dense thicket, they were greeted by the sight of the waterfall in all of its majestic glory. A curtain of crystal-clear water cascaded down from the rocky cliffs above, its mist creating a shimmering rainbow in the afternoon sun as it continued on its journey into a deep lake that eventually broke into several rivers. 

“It’s beautiful,” Jordan breathed, his voice filled with amazement.

Alfie nodded in agreement, his eyes sparkling with excitement. “Let’s get closer.”

They made their way towards the waterfall’s base, the cool spray misting their faces as they approached. The sound of the rushing water filled their ears, drowning out any other noise as they stood in silent reverence before the natural wonder. Alfie pulled his jacket off before yanking his shirt off. He put his hands and arms out, reaching the mist as it smacked against his skin. He dampened his face and neck with the coolness. It was refreshing. 

“Jordan, we need to talk,” Alfie said, his voice barely audible above the roar of the waterfall. He looked at his friend. He was ready to talk, and he was desperate to talk.  

Jordan turned to face him, his expression guarded. “What is it now, Alfie?”

“I can’t take this anymore,” Alfie admitted, frustration seeping into his tone. He sounded like a little child who was close to having a tantrum. “We can’t just pretend like nothing’s happened between us.”

Jordan’s temper flared; his patience was wearing thin. “And what do you suggest we do, Alfie? Have a heart-to-heart in the middle of a waterfall? You had an affair with my girlfriend behind my back, you lied to me, you made me think you had feelings for me, and you messed up our friendship.”

“I know, and as I said before, I’m sorry. I wish I could take it all back, but we had it good, Jordan as friends. Come on, please, Jord,” Alfie reached out to touch Jordan on the shoulder, but before Alfie could respond, Jordan’s anger boiled over and in a moment of recklessness, he shoved Alfie, sending him tumbling into the icy water below. 

Shocked by his actions, Jordan watched as Alfie resurfaced, his eyes burning with a mixture of hurt and betrayal.

In a fit of remorse, Jordan leapt into the water after him, the icy chill biting into his skin as he reached out to pull Alfie close. They grappled with each other for a moment, the water churning around them, before finally, they both stilled, exhaustion washing over them.

“I’m sorry,” Jordan whispered, his voice barely audible over the waterfall smacking down against the lake’s surface nearby. “I didn’t mean to—”

Alfie cut him off with a shake of his head, his gaze softening. “I know, Jordan. I know.”

They stayed like that for a moment, the rush of the waterfall wrapping them in a bubble of solitude. And then, with a heavy sigh, Jordan spoke again.

“I forgive you, Alfie,” he said, his voice raw with emotion. “For everything. And I’m sorry for being so stupid and definitely for kissing you. Twice.”

Alfie’s eyes widened in surprise, his lips quirking into a faint smile. “I was surprised by it all, Jord. But I’d like to try and get back to being friends if we can.”

Jordan nodded and pulled Alfie into a tight embrace. Without overthinking it, he leaned in and kissed Alfie again. This time, the kiss was longer than before, silently conveying his promise of forgiveness and reconciliation.

After their lingering kiss, Jordan and Alfie sat by the tranquil waterfall, the sound of rushing water creating a soothing atmosphere around them. They gazed at each other in the faint light filtering through the canopy above, their expressions a mix of uncertainty and longing.

“Alfie,” Jordan began tentatively, his voice barely above a whisper, “what do we do now? Which way do we go?”

Alfie’s gentle smile misrepresented the turmoil in his eyes as he reached out to brush a stray lock of hair from Jordan’s forehead. “I think… we need to be honest with ourselves,” he replied softly. “If we want to salvage our friendship, we can’t keep crossing lines like this.” This time Alfie kissed him briefly and held Jordan’s hand for a moment. He eventually released his grip. 

Jordan nodded, a pang of regret tugging at his heart by his expression as they let go of each other. “Yeah, you’re right,” he admitted, feeling a sense of disappointment mingling with relief. 

After getting out of the water, they sat in silence, the rhythmic rush of the waterfall provided a tranquil backdrop to their conversation.

“I never imagined things would turn out like this,” Alfie confessed, his gaze fixed on the dancing patterns of the water by their feet. “But I’m glad we had this chance to talk, to… figure things out.”

Jordan nodded in agreement, feeling a sense of gratitude for the opportunity to reconcile with his friend. “Me too, Alfie. I don’t want to lose you as a friend,” he confessed sincerely.

Alfie’s smile widened, a warmth spreading through his chest. “You won’t, Jordan. I promise,” he reassured, squeezing Jordan’s hand in solidarity. 

As dusk settled over the forest, casting long shadows among the trees, Jordan and Alfie rose to their feet, their movements synchronised as they began to set up their camp for the night. Again, remembering all of their training, the two cadets got on with getting their shelter sorted for the evening. With practised efficiency, they gathered dry wood and kindling, their hands working in tandem as they built a small fire pit near the edge of the clearing.

The crackling flames danced to life, casting a warm glow over the campsite as they unpacked their supplies and set up their tent. It wasn’t long until they started to sort out something to eat. A few emergency field rations could be heated up over the fire. 

As Jordan and Alfie sat by the crackling fire, Alfie couldn’t shake the lingering memory of their kiss from his mind. The warmth of the flames seemed to pale in comparison to the heat that had passed between them, and he found himself unable to resist the urge to break the silence.

“That was one hell of a kiss back there, Jordan,” Alfie remarked, his voice low and tinged with amusement. “But I have to ask… why did you keep kissing me?”

Jordan’s cheeks flushed with embarrassment as he looked away, struggling to find the right words. “I… I guess I was just confused,” he admitted, his voice barely above a whisper. “Everything’s been so complicated lately, and you were the only person I felt close to.” He paused. “Ever since Frontier Day, I can’t work it out, but my brain, my heart and my gut keep drawing me to you.”

Alfie’s expression softened, a small smile playing on his lips. “I understand, Jord. It’s been a confusing time for most of us since then,” he replied gently. “And I know what you mean; I suppose the whole thing with Beatrice started after Frontier Day. It’s just been weird. I never wanted to hurt you, the whole thing was so ridiculous at how we were with one another. We were drawn to each other for no reason. I’m so sorry, Jordan.”

Jordan, once again showed his appreciation for the apology. He placed his hand on Alfie’s shoulder to assure him that he had forgiven him. “Maybe it’s some sort of residual Borg connection we have?” Jordan offered with a shrug. “Or some other messed up experiment the Changelings all did to us. Some Great Link…linkage?”

Alfie burst out laughing at Jordan’s attempt to blame what had been happening on the rogue Changelings and the last futile attempts by the Borg Queen. “Maybe,” He agreed with a nod as he calmed down after Jordan had joined him in seeing the comical idea of the former Dominion leaders attempting to make their own Great Link among ‘solids’. “But I want you to know that I genuinely want to be friends with you, first and foremost,” Alfie added. He knew that may cause more heartache, especially as he had kissed Jordan back earlier. They were messed up and he knew it, but maybe they needed one of them to start to draw a line of distinction here. Maybe that was how they would try and get back to how things were before. 

Jordan nodded, relief washing over him at Alfie’s words. “As I said earlier, I want to feel the same way, Alfie,” he confessed, meeting his friend’s gaze sincerely. “I don’t know how to control these feelings I’ve had when I’ve been with you recently, but I know I value our friendship more than anything. Have I messed things up?”

Alfie smirked, a mischievous glint in his eyes as he pulled Jordan closer to him. “I don’t know if we’ve messed it all up, but let’s see what happens,” he whispered. He pulled Jordan in for another hug before ruffling his wet hair. “Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get a chill from wearing these wet clothes. Can we please get out of these clothes before I die of hyperthermia!”

Jordan’s smile widened, showing his appreciation for Alfie’s understanding and he agreed to them getting warm and having something to eat too.

Maybe it was something from Frontier Day that messed them up. Alfie couldn’t tell. For all he knew, it was something to do with how the Borg and rogue Changelings had re-written their DNA, or it was linked to that stupid temporal anomaly the Odyssey went through in the Paulson Nebula over a year ago, or maybe it was his own stupid feelings and hormones messing everything up. 

“Thanks, Alfie,” Jordan softly said after they had set up the camp a few hours later and were wearing dry clothes. “Can we keep what’s happened between us the last few days just between us? I don’t want anyone else to know.”

Alfie nodded, his smirk turning into a grin. The warmth of the fire reflected in his eyes, adding a twinkle of mischief to his expression. “Of course, Jord. Our little secret,” he replied, his tone teasing. “Just don’t go falling for either of my brothers now. I don’t think I could handle that.”

Jordan chuckled, the tension between them easing as they shared a moment of lightheartedness. The crackling flames cast a warm glow over their laughter. “Don’t worry, Alfie,” he joked back. “I think we’ve had enough drama for one trip.”

First Excursion – 9

USS Odyssey (NCC-80000), Verkien System, Kotaba Expanse, Swallow Nebula region, Delta Quadrant
Stardate: 78510.56

“Cadet Unit Lead Training Officer’s Log, stardate seven-eight-five-one-zero point five-six. The Telemachus has returned to the Odyssey after a successful training excursion. The entire operation was a success. I am happy to hear from Captain Banfield that our efforts have greatly assisted the Odyssey with its mapping mission of the Verkian system. I have given the entire cadet unit the next three days off before they resume their duties. In the meantime, I have had a datastream from Starfleet Academy informing us of possible upcoming changes to Starfleet’s approach to training.”

Leaning forward with a warm expression etched on her face, Reyes cast her keen gaze across the table, her eyes scanning each person in the room. Now that they were back home, she had gathered everyone who had helped with their first excursion on the Telemachus. Using the staffroom next to the briefing hall, she had put out a few pastries and pots of coffee for them all. 

“I want to take a moment to express my deepest gratitude for the commitment you all have shown during the recent training exercise aboard the Telemachus,” she began, her voice ringing with a mix of sincerity and admiration. “The contribution each and every one of you made was instrumental in setting a great tone for future training excursions.”

Jirani, a seasoned officer known for her sharp wit, nodded in agreement. “Indeed, your efforts have not gone unnoticed,” she affirmed. “Thanks to your time, the cadets appear closer as a unit. This was something we really wanted to achieve, especially since the impact Frontier Day had on so many of them.”

Everyone showed their appreciation with a round of acknowledgements and nods of their heads at the words from the two senior officers who led the cadets. 

“I didn’t want to keep you all for too long,” Reyas remarked, her voice echoing in the spacious briefing room. “I know you’ve all got reports to finish, but I wanted to share with you an update I got from Starfleet Academy.” She pressed a few buttons on the PADD resting on the table before her. The holographic projectors in the table came to life with a soft hum to show what appeared to be a training program. “Starfleet is considering fast-tracking the training process.”

Jonarom furrowed his brow in thought, his usually calm and composed expression replaced with one of concern. “Are they serious?” he asked, seeking clarification, his voice tinged with disbelief. Being the one in the room who had left the Academy recently, he was taken aback by this. 

Reyas nodded. “Yes, it seems they are contemplating implementing advanced fast-track courses, similar to what was done during the Dominion War,” she confirmed, her expression grave. “It’s in response to the losses we suffered during the Frontier Day massacre.”

Rosle then voiced her concerns. “While I get it that the need for skilled officers is undeniable, we must proceed carefully,” she cautioned, her voice filled with a mix of determination and worry. “We cannot afford to sacrifice quality for speed. Our cadets deserve the best training we can provide, especially with what happened during Frontier Day. Those left are going to be scarred for some time. Surely, Starfleet has learnt that lesson from the Dominion War?”

Doctor Corben interjected softly. “Indeed, rushing through training could lead to oversights and gaps in knowledge,” she added. “We must ensure our officers are thoroughly prepared for the challenges they may face.”

“And what about the toll this intensive training may take on our officers’ mental and emotional well-being?” Jisaraa questioned, her concern evident. “I’m not sure how confident I would feel about having someone on our Hazard Teams if they fall apart the moment they hear a phaser go off!” 

Jayshon, the Tamarian, spoke in his characteristic metaphorical language. “The river Temac may rush, but the stone remains steadfast,” he offered, his words cryptic yet thought-provoking. The engineer was picking apart a piece of fruit as he spoke. 

“All of these are valid concerns, but in your after-action reports, I would appreciate suggestions of what future learning points we should consider with our current cadets. Also, any cadets who stood out that you believe could benefit from further advanced training. My gut tells me that Starfleet may consider rushing experienced cadets through graduation, and if so, they may start asking us who we should have on our radar. I know we can’t change policy, but I’d prefer to have those we have to put forward be as ready as we can make them.” 

Reyas knew that getting more hands out in the field was important for Starfleet to remain effective, but she had experienced that pushing inexperienced people into difficult situations always resulted in something going wrong. If she could ensure those she was responsible for had something to help them in their back pocket, then at least she knew she had done something to help—even if it was a little something. 

As the discussion wound down, Reyas offered her officers a final word of gratitude. “Again, thank you all for your time and dedication during the training excursion,” she said, her voice tinged with sincerity. “Your efforts have not gone unnoticed, and I am grateful for each and every one of you. Perhaps we should make this a monthly event?”

They all chuckled at her sense of humour before they began to file out of the room; Lieutenant Jonarom lingered behind, his expression thoughtful. Approaching Reyas, he hesitated for a moment before speaking. “Captain, may I have a word?” he asked, his tone respectful.

Reyas nodded, giving him her full attention as she picked up a mug of raktajino from the table in front of her. “Of course, Lieutenant. What’s on your mind?” she asked as she sipped her Klingon coffee.

Jonarom shifted awkwardly, his gaze flickering briefly. “I couldn’t help but notice… is everything okay between Alfie and Jordan?” he asked tentatively, referring to Reyas’s son and his friend, both cadets in their training unit.

Reyas sighed softly, a hint of uncertainty in her expression. She and the others had noticed a palpable tension between Alfie and Jordan during the entire trip. “I’m not entirely sure,” she admitted, her voice tinged with concern. “But they do seem happier since returning from their survival hike. Whatever happened between them… I hope it’s resolved now. They were always inseparable before.”

She paused, considering Jonarom’s question further. “Alfie has been keeping things to himself lately,” she continued, her tone troubled. “I thought it was down to his brother’s leaving, but maybe not. I plan to check in with him. Whatever happened between him and Jordan during their trek… I hope it’s resolved now. They were always attached to the hip before.”

Jonarom nodded, understanding evident in his eyes. “If you ever need someone to talk to, Alfie, I’m here. As his friend… and as a fellow officer.”

Reyas smiled gratefully, touched by his offer of support. “Thank you, Lieutenant. That means a great deal to me,” she said sincerely.

Before Jonarom left the room, Reyas stopped him with a gentle hand on his arm. “I’m  “Can I ask you something, Lieutenant?” she inquired, her tone curious.

Jonarom turned back to face her, his expression attentive. “Of course, Captain. What is it?” he asked, curious.

Reyas studied him for a moment before speaking. “Jonarom, why did you take the position as my husband’s chief communications officer here on the Odyssey?” she asked, her tone gentle yet probing. “You were the chief science officer on board the Bellerophon.”

Jonarom’s expression softened, a faint smile tugging at the corners of his lips. “Fleet Captain McCallister was… very persuasive,” he admitted with a chuckle.

Reyas nodded in understanding, though her expression turned thoughtful. “I understand, but I can’t help but feel that your talents and gifts as a scientist are being underutilised in your current position,” she observed, her tone gentle but firm.

She continued, her voice earnest. “As a former chief science officer, I know how important it is to stay connected to your training and background,” she advised. “Don’t lose touch with your scientific community, Lieutenant. Your insights and expertise are invaluable.”

Jonarom nodded, gratitude shining in his eyes. “Thank you for your counsel, Captain,” he said sincerely before offering her a respectful nod and leaving the room.

Within the sterile confines of sickbay, Slyvexs meticulously conducted a routine medical check-up on Cadet Jordan Duncan-Court. The soft hum of medical equipment filled the air as Slyvexs, with her slender fingers, deftly manoeuvred the tricorder over Jordan’s form, her keen eyes scanning the readings for any anomalies. He was sitting on the edge of a biobed, and she could tell something was off with him. Jordan, usually exuding confidence, appeared visibly unsettled, his features etched with a subtle tension. 

“So, are you going to tell me what this is all about?” Slyvexs asked as she finished her scan. “Is there something troubling you, Cadet?” she inquired, her voice a soothing melody amidst the clinical surroundings.

Jordan hesitated, his gaze momentarily faltering before meeting Slyvexs’ compassionate gaze. “I… I’m not sure, Doctor. I just… I feel off somehow.”

Slyvexs nodded understandingly, adjusting the settings on her tricorder as she focused on Jordan’s vital signs. Surprisingly, the readings appeared normal, without any indication of distress. “Well, I’m not detecting anything, Jordan.”

He sighed heavily. “Are you sure?”

“Take a look for yourself,” Slyvexs pointed at the wall console. ”Your human DNA resequencing we did last year is stable, and your Rylsanti heritage is sitting quietly. There’s nothing wrong here, Cadet.”

Rubbing his face with both palms, he thanked the doctor before sighing again. 

Curiosity piqued, Slyvexs gently closed the tricorder. “Jordan, why don’t you join me for a mug of tea? I didn’t get one with breakfast this morning.” She gestured for Jordan to follow her to a more private area within sickbay—her office. 

Once settled, Slyvexs replicated two steaming mugs of herbal tea, the fragrant aroma wafting through the air as she settled back into her chair, her gaze fixed upon Jordan with unwavering concern.

“Tell me, Jordan, what transpired during your recent training excursion?” she prompted, her tone gentle yet probing.

Jordan hesitated, his gaze drifting to the steaming mug clasped tightly in his hands before he finally spoke, his voice tinged with a hint of vulnerability. “It’s about Alfie.”

Slyvexs nodded encouragingly, inviting Jordan to share his thoughts and feelings without judgment. She wondered what the issue could have been about the captain’s son. 

“I… I think I may have developed feelings for him,” Jordan confessed, his voice barely above a whisper. “We… we shared a few… intimate moments.”

Slyvexs listened attentively as Jordan recounted the romantic encounters he had shared with Cadet Alfie McCallister-Reyas, her expression a portrait of empathy as she absorbed his words. If this had been any other patient, she would have suggested they speak to one of the counsellors, but as Jordan was one of her patients they rescued over a year ago from the Rylsanti ark, she felt the need to be someone he could talk to about this. 

Jordan’s voice trembled slightly as he described the stolen kisses, tender embraces, and overwhelming rush of emotions that had swept over him in those fleeting moments. “It felt right, Doctor,” Jordan continued, his eyes misting with unshed tears. It was like we were meant to be together, if only for those brief moments.”

Slyvexs nodded, her expression one of understanding. Her heart felt for the young man. She had been in love several times herself, and she knew how special it was, especially when you were young. “Such experiences can be powerful, Jordan, especially when shared with someone you’re already close with.”

“Exactly!” Jordan almost exclaimed. “Alfie has this theory that the reason I kept kissing him and the two of us wanting to be close was down to Frontier Day.”

“Frontier Day?” Slyvexs questioned. “Because you were all made into drones?”

Jordan nodded. “Yeah, he thinks perhaps we have some sort of lost Borg connection.”

Slyvexs offered reassurance, her voice a gentle anchor amidst the storm of uncertainty. “There’s no evidence of Borg alterations in your DNA, Jordan.” She paused as she placed her mug down. “That said, what you, Alfie and the others endured during Frontier Day was undoubtedly traumatic, but it’s not uncommon for individuals to seek comfort in one another following such events.” 

Jordan wiped away a stray tear, his features wrought with uncertainty. “But why do I feel this way whenever I’m with Alfie? Why does my heart feel like it stops when he is standing next to me?”

Slyvexs smiled sympathetically, her gaze brimming with understanding. “It sounds as though you’re navigating complex emotions, Jordan. It’s natural to develop feelings for someone with whom you’ve shared such intimate experiences.”

Jordan sighed, torn between his burgeoning emotions and his cherished friendship with Alfie. “But what if Alfie doesn’t reciprocate? He already said we should stop crossing that line with each other.”

Slyvexs nodded thoughtfully, her expression one of profound contemplation. “You could attempt subtle gestures or expressions of affection, observing how Alfie responds. Alternatively, if that’s not feasible, it may be prudent to explore avenues of emotional closure and acceptance.”

Jordan’s shoulders sagged with resignation, the weight of uncertainty bearing heavily upon him. “I don’t wish to jeopardise our friendship, Doctor. Alfie means a lot to me.”

Slyvexs got up from her chair and moved to sit on the edge of her desk close to Jordan. She placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder, her touch a gentle reassurance amidst the tempest of his emotions. “Then you must honour Alfie’s boundaries, Cadet. Friendship is a precious gift, and sometimes, it’s enough.”

As Jordan contemplated her words, Slyvexs offered one final piece of counsel. “Should you seek clarity regarding Alfie’s sentiments, then open and honest communication is paramount. Approach him with sincerity, yet remain prepared for any eventuality. Who knows what the future holds?”

Jordan thanked her for listening. “I really was hoping you were going to say there was something wrong with me,” he said.

“I’m afraid, Jordan, I cannot treat heartache for a lost love,” Slyvexs said. “All I can offer are words of wisdom.”

He sighed heavily. “I know. Alfie said he didn’t want to cross that line with us, but what we had was so real.”

“I’m sure it was,” Slyvexs assured him. “I’m sure if you spoke to anyone about their own romantic relationships, you always remember your first true love.”

“True love?” Jordan repeated.

“The one you fall madly for,” Slyvexs chuckled as she sipped her tea. “I’m glad to say I’ve had three true loves.”

“Your husbands?” 

She nodded. “All of them lit up my world like no one else, and what we have is precious.”

“I don’t want to lose Alfie,” Jordan admitted. “Since me and William joined the Odyssey, he has been the best friend I never had.”

“So don’t lose that, but perhaps give it time. If he feels the same, then he may eventually share it.” Slyvexs advised.

Jordan agreed with that. “Perhaps,” He stood up. “Thank you, ma’am, for your time.”

“Any time, Cadet,” Slyvexs said with a smirk, noticing the change in formality between them. 

Jordan thanked her again as he finished the tea and approached the door. She called after him before leaving. “Jordan, one thing!”

“Yes?” He asked, stopping in the doorway to look at her.

“Alfie is a good guy, so if it happens or doesn’t, you’ll be lucky to have him in your life.”

Grinning at that, Jordan nodded in agreement before leaving sickbay altogether. 

Slyvexs finished her own tea, smiling at what she had accomplished so early in the morning.