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Part of USS Constellation: You Changed The Ending

You Changed The Ending – 8

Cockpit, USS Jalada
Relative Stardate 51268.4
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“My guy, I can’t believe it!” Kellin exclaimed.  Bounding down the ramp into the cockpit of the Delta-class runabout, Kellin crashed into the back of the pilot’s chair.  Despite his reckless enthusiasm, he had enough presence of mind to catch himself without throwing his full weight into the furniture.  Rather, he clapped Hunsen on the shoulder.  Through the overhead viewport, Kellin could still see the chroniton radiation crackling against their deflectors, just as their runabout passed through the temporal fracture.

“Without really knowing you,” Kellin enthused, “I trusted you could manoeuvre around those first two time fractures, penning in Themis.  Your pre-flight was too habitual to give me any worry, Commander Hunsen.”

Only pausing long enough to take a deep breath, Kellin gripped the back of the chair as he said, “But you only had twenty-five metres of clearance to twist past that third fracture.  I thought we were going to end up in the Stone Age, but you got us through.  What a star!”

Hunsen smirked at the enthusiasm that Kellin was pouring out. “Thanks, it’s nice to get behind the controls; I don’t get to fly as often as I did when I first left the academy.” He pressed a few buttons to check their heading and speed. “So far, so good,” Hunsen paused as he could sense just how excited his companion from the Constellation was. “Don’t get me wrong, I miss an engineering room, but being a pilot was my first love.”

A fraction of Kellin’s consciousness was divided between actively listening and that curdling feeling in the pit of his stomach.  He had to concentrate to push down the blossoming embarrassment at the way his voice had cracked towards the end of his encomium to Commander Hunsen.  That kind of fawning was junior officer behaviour.  He chose to leave it in the past.  

“I feel like that about security sometimes,” Kellin said faintly.  He sprinted up the ramp to the operations console and flung himself into the chair.  He cleared his throat while he reviewed the sensor readings, preparing to lower his voice by an octave the next time he spoke.

“Long-range sensors are picking up indicators of the chroniton integrator at the coordinates our Science Officer Yuulik located from Constellation,” Kellin reported.  He used his formal timbre.  “On this side of the time fracture, it looks like we’re heading towards a disabled Krenim warship of a classification I don’t recognise.”

The longer Kellin stared at the sensor readings, the more he wanted to know, but they were still too distant for any clearer an analysis.  In the absence of anything he could instruct the ship’s sensor suite to do, he began to softly drum on the underside of his console.

“Commander,” Kellin tentatively asked, “can I ask you something a little personal?”

Hunsen smiled. “Sure, from one first officer to another. What’s on your mind?”

Keeping his eyes on the down, Kellin shared, “Yuulik said she was ‘absolutely confident’ about her sensor analysis no less than three times.  From her, that’s basically a blood oath.  That also makes me nervous.  Do you think– does it make me a bad first officer that I doubted her until I saw the sensor readings for myself?  It’s not like I can double-check the work of every officer every day, huh?”

Hunsen chuckled. “I don’t think it makes you a bad first officer. When you’re in an unusual situation like this,” he motioned to the scene beyond their runabout, “you need to be certain of what is happening before making a decision, an order.”

Reflecting out loud, Kellin said, “Doctor Irlina was absolutely certain that not a single Krenim colony within six sectors would possess the chroniton integrator she needs to repair the paradox machine.  Just as she was certain that we would find it in this time zone.  What kind of timeline do you think we’ve dropped ourselves into?”

“One that is one I want to remain in for too long,” Hunsen said. “Those ships that attacked us earlier come from this one.” Looking down at the readings coming from the temporal scans that the Themis had taken earlier. “We need to get in and get out, agreed, Commander?”

“I have your back on that, commander,” Kellin chimed in.  “Not only does the computer think the matter in this universe vibrates on a frequency parallel to our own, quantum dating marks us as being almost thirty years in our past.  I’m just a baby out there, somewhere!”

Hunsen chuckled. “I’m flying with an infant,” He said. “Well, actually, I suppose thirty years ago, I was only ten.” He shook his head. “How time has flown past. I don’t think ten-year-old me would have imagined that I’d be a first officer, flying into a temporal bubble to steal some technology while also being a father to an infant of my own.”

“Oh wow,” Kellin remarked, but this exclamation lacked his earlier exuberance.  Hunsen’s revelation had stunned him.  “On top of it all, you’re out here being a dad?”

“Yeah, my Imzadi gave birth to our first son recently,” Hunsen said with pride. “He’s only a month old, but I’m already sensing the connection we have with him is going to be great. Do you have a family of your own, commander?”

“Nothing as such,” Kellin replied.  Still thinking of his own parents as the heart of his family, Kellin added, “My sisters are out exploring the galaxy in their own ways or still back home on Vega Colony.”

“No Trill version of an Imzadi at all?” Hunsen double-checked. “Well, we’ve got a list of available bachelors and bachelorettes available on the Themis. Just say the word, and I’ll introduce you to them!”

Kellin tentatively said, “I don’t know if I’m up for a cross-command relationship.  My husband and I were hardly ever aboard the same starship until we finally separated last year.  I think it might be too hard?”

“There’s nothing wrong with a long-distance relationship,” Hunsen stated. “Louwanna, my Imzadi, is the chief counsellor on the Odyssey, but since she’s had Eddim, she’s temporarily transferred to the Themis while on maternity leave.”

“Do you expect she’ll go back?” Kellin asked, his curiosity piqued. “To the Odyssey, when she’s ready?”

“We’ve not discussed that far yet,” Hunsen admitted. “I was never planning on returning to the Odyssey, and it’s not as if we need a chief counsellor on the Themis unless Samris transfers, but he’s about to become a dad himself with his fiance, T’Rani, being pregnant.” 

“I always assumed I’d have a partner if I became a father,” Kellin said.  “But life is short.  It’s starting to feel like one of those things I need to think about?  Is fatherhood something I need, just for me, regardless of whomever else I have in my life?”

“There’s nothing saying you can’t be a father by yourself,” Hunsen remarked. “Do you want to be a dad? Because if you do, it’s one of the best jobs in the galaxy.”