Taking on the role of Officer of the Watch for the gamma and delta shift wasn’t quite what Penelope was expecting, nevertheless she was content in helping out where she could. It was rare for her to be active, so being operational meant that she had created an algorithm to ensure she was seen as relevant and useful in her duties.
Sitting in the captain’s chair, the Emergency Command Hologram was reviewing the latest updates to the roster for the next shift and ensuring there was no overlapping in orders or that anyone was working a double shift. Being a being of light and force fields, she did not get the luxury of not working one shift after the other. Fortunately for her she did not get tired compared to her flesh and blood colleagues. The captain had issued orders prior to his departure that he wanted to relax on work orders while the ship was engaged in an almost mundane type of mission. Easing off and giving people a bit more time to relax was his intention. The crew had deserved it after everything they had been through.
At the corner of her peripheral vision, she could see Lieutenants Tomaz and Flemen working at the mission ops stations. Both men seemed to be highly focussed on their duties of updating themselves with the latest information sent to them from Starfleet in the most recent datastream. Penelope had already downloaded all of the information and had accessed it into her short term memory banks. Resisting the urge to help them, the ECH remained in her chair and turned her focus on the latest readings coming from the numerous probes they had sent out in this desolate region of space as well as a few scouting crews as well.
The gamma shift ops manager turned around in her chair after she received a message on her console. “Ma’am, there’s an incoming call from the captain.” spoke Ensign Klymara Tekachin. The Zakdorn woman was young and had strong brown hair that bobbed around the edge of her pouched cheeks.
Looking at her, Penelope ordered her to put the captain up and then called Lieutenant Tomaz over. He was the highest senior member of staff on the bridge after her (even though she had four silver pips on her uniform). The Barzan got up from his station and was followed over by Lieutenant Flemen.
The captain’s face then appeared on the main screen, with one of his sons beside him. Penelope’s memory banks recalled that this was Alfie, his second eldest. The resemblance between father and son was quite close.
“Captain, are you okay?” Penelope asked.
“We’re fine thank you Penny,” McCallister answered, showing his appreciation for the hologram’s concern. “We’re returning to the ship ahead of schedule as we’ve encountered an alien vessel that appears to be over two-thousand years old.”
“Did you say over two-thousand years old, sir?” Tomaz checked, the astonishment appearing in his tone.
“Indeed, it’s a drift from what I can tell but I think it’s worth an investigation.” McCallister told them. “Once we’re back on board, have the senior staff meet me in astrometrics. In the meantime, I’m transmitting the coordinates of the ship to you now. Let’s set an intercept course and turn our sensors to it.”
“Captain, we’ve got other scouting parties out and about, shall we have them return?” Penelope inquired.
“That’s not a bad idea, Penny.” McCallister replied. “Issue the orders at once.”
“Sir, are there any clues to being able to identify the craft at all?” Flemen asked
Shaking his head, McCallister answered no, but it was Alfie who spoke up. “The hull looks pretty busted up.” The younger man contributed.
“We’ll be home in about an hour, we can work out who it belongs to then. Holmes out.” McCallister said before closing the channel.
The moment the captain was gone, Tomaz looked at Flemen and Penelope. “Finally, something to write in our logs.”
“Indeed.” Penelope agreed. “So, who wants to interrupt the rest of the senior staff?”
Tomaz and Flemen looked at one another, grinned and then looked back at Penelope.
“Technically speaking, you’re in command.” Tomaz stated
“So that honour falls on you.” Flemen added.
Rolling her eyes at their lack of unwillingness to disturb the others and get blamed for spoiling their evenings, Penelope tapped her combadge and shook her head at the same time. “Bridge to all senior staff, please report to the astrometrics suite in one hour.” Tapping her badge to close the channel, she considered speaking to Commander Duncan but was surprised he didn’t call straight away. Instead it was Commander Reyas who appeared several minutes later on the bridge.
“What’s happening?” The chief science officer asked.
Rising from her chair, Penelope looked at the El-Aurian commander and answered her. She shared the news from the captain and what was happening.
Once Reyas was properly briefed, she looked around the bridge. “Where’s Max?” She enquired.
Everyone looked back with a blank expression. Normally it was protocol for the first officer and second officer to report to the bridge in the captain’s absence when something changed what was happening with the ship and its current mission. Reyas ordered the others to find their first officer while she prepped in the astrometrics suite, in an almost rushed manner.
“Bridge to Commander Duncan.” Penelope said after tapping her badge again.
She tried several more times but had the same lack of reply.
Tomaz looked at Flemen with a concerned look. It wasn’t like Commander Duncan not to answer a call.
Sharing a similar concern, the ECH was quick to react. Accessing the internal sensors within a few seconds, Penelope detected the commander’s communicator and life sign in his quarter. “He is on board and in his quarters.” She shared after looking up from the holographic display she had pushed up from the captain’s chair’s arm .
“He might be in trouble. Maybe transfer your program to his quarters.” Tomaz suggested.
Closing her eyes to attempt to do the transfer, Penelop’s attempt failed. Opening her eyes, she looked at the two officers. “No luck, privacy mode is enabled.”
“Maybe he’s in a deep sleep?” Flemen remarked.
“Penny, you remain here while Craigen and I’ll go wake the commander.” Tomaz said. He gestured for his colleague to join him as he made his way across to the nearest turbolift.
When the orders from the bridge had been issued for all of the senior staff to report to the astrometrics suite, the senior staff that had been enjoying the evening’s entertainment in the Auditorium had all got up and soon left.
Hunsen, Slyvexs, Jen and Lenjir had all shared a turbolift down to the astrometric suits while Commander Reyas had said she was heading up to the bridge to find out what was going.
“So come on then boys, are we going to take a bet on what’s been found? I’m thinking it’s a temporarily displaced inhabited planet?” Slyvexs suggested. The Denobulan doctor had left her husband to find his own way home to their quarters but remained in good spirits since departing from their evening’s entertainment.
“My latinum is on it being a quantum singularity that leads to the realm inhabited by Species Eight-Four-Seven-Two.” offered Jen as he crossed his arms against his chest.
Lenjir chuckled at both ideas. “Nah, I reckon it’s a Borg Cube that’s been disconnected from the hive mind since Voyager damaged the Collective with their neurolytic pathogen and the captain wants us to help them reclaim their individuality.” He looked at Hunsen. “Tremt, your thoughts?”
“You know I’m rubbish at this.” Hunsen replied with a chuckle.
Jen nodded. “He’s right, the best person at this is our fearless Number One.”
“Talking of which, did we ever get to the bottom of his whereabouts tonight?” Slyvexs probed.
“If him and Tobias were doing the crew evaluations then they’re probably still drowning in the paperwork.” Lenjir stated. “They’re probably grateful for the call from Penny for the break.”
Hunsen just smirked and placed his left hand to cover his expression up, if only they knew he thought.
The door chime went off.
A few seconds later it went off again.
Then a third.
Hearing the call for a second time, Court opened his eyes and looked around at his surroundings. He grinned at the scene he found himself in, he was lying in the bed that belonged to his boyfriend. Well that was the best description he could come up with. He and Max hadn’t officially labelled their relationship yet, but he was certain they were at that point now. Looking next to him, seeing Max in a deep sleep, Court smiled more at the peaceful posture that his lover was in.
Then the door chime went off and Court realised why he woke up. Who would be calling in to see the first officer at this time of hour?
Quickly he slapped Duncan’s bare chest and woke him with a veracious shake. “Max, wake up. There’s someone at the door.”
Reacting in an almost shocked way, Duncan made a sort of surprised noise as he woke up. “What the-” He said looking around and saw Court almost on top of him. “What the hell Tobes.” Duncan said, showing his disgust for being woken up.
“Someone’s at your door.” Court said again.
“Ah jeez.” Duncan grumbled as he got up and realised he had nothing on. “Shit.” He grumbled as he quickly picked up the nearest pair of trousers on the floor and uniform jacket.
The door chime went off again as Duncan rushed down the flight of stairs to the main floor of his quarters. As he went down he soon realised he was wearing Court’s trousers as they were a bit tighter around the waist. He attempted to do up at the jacket but gave up as he got to the door and answered it by tapping on the controls.
The door swished open and he was confronted by the sight of Lieutenants Tomaz and Flemen. “Guys, what’s the emergency?”
“Sorry sir, we’ve been trying to contact you but you’ve not answered and we thought something bad had happened.” Tomaz answered.
Duncan rubbed his face as the bright light from the corridor flooded into his quarters that were in pitch darkness. Squinting as his eyes got used to the brighter light, Duncan looked at them both as he made himself more decent with the jacket. “You didn’t answer my question, what’s the emergency?”
“No emergency as such sir, the captain is returning after finding an alien craft that appears to be at drift.” Flemen shared.
“He wants the entire senior staff to meet him in the astrometric suite.” Tomaz added. The Barzan then inhaled in the gasses from his breathing apparatus before narrowing his sight on the commander’s right shoulder. “Sir, did you take a demotion to senior chief petty officer?”
Duncan looked down and saw that he had picked up Court’s jacket and automatically he felt his cheeks go red from embarrassment as he realised what he had done. The combadge that was hanging on the jacket then went off.
“Bridge to Chief Court.” spoke Penelope crisp and clear.
Both Flemen and Tomaz looked at one another and then back to the commander. They soon appeared to be able to work out why the first officer was wearing the jacket that belonged to the chief of the boat.
“We’ll leave you sir to get yourself…umm… sorted.” Tomaz said, trying to suppress a smirk.
“And we promise to keep this quiet.” Flemen added with a similar grin, looking elsewhere.
“Thank you gentlemen.” Duncan said after clearing his throat and looking down. “I’ll see you in astrometrics shortly.”
Stepping away from the door, Duncan closed it and groaned inwardly. Heading upstairs, he stripped off the uniformjacket he had hastily put on and threw it towards Court, who was sat up in his bed with just a sheet covering the bottom half of his naked body. “Did I just hear, what I thought I heard?”
“That both Craigen and Tomaz have worked out that you and I are sleeping together?” Duncan replied back as he sat on the edge of his bed. “Yeah, probably.”
“Bridge to Chief Court.” spoke Penelope again over the intercom.
Court tapped the combadge on his jacket and answered it. “Go ahead.”
“Chief, the captain is returning home and wants you to join the rest of the senior staff in a meeting in astrometrics shortly.” Penelope shared.
“Understood, I’ll be there soon. Court out.” He said and closed the channel by tapping on the combadge. He got out of bed, picking up his underwear and putting it on before sitting down next to Duncan on the edge of the bed. “What did you wanna do?”
Duncan looked at Court and exhaled slowly, almost appearing to deflate. “I’ll speak to both of them separately, but do you want to keep us a secret?”
Leaning in Court kissed Duncan on the edge of his lips. As he pulled away, he shook his head. “Whatever you want to do is good with me.” He then stood up and took Duncan by the hand. “We’ve got time for a quick shower and I think we need to replicate some new uniform. We can’t go in looking all…”
“Disheveled?” Duncan said as he stood up, still holding Court’s hand.
“Then come on.” Duncan almost ordered as he led him towards the ensuite bathroom.
Departing holosuite four, with sweat pouring down his front and his breath still catching up, Counsellor Samris looked to his companion and grinned. “So what did you think of Voraant?”
T’Rani, who appeared to be somewhat hot and bothered from their late night of exercise, dabbed her chest with a white towel she had brought with her. “It reminds me of several Earth games, but I can appreciate why Romulans may take pleasure from it for its ability to keep one fit.”
Chuckling slightly, Samris took T’Rani by the hand. A gesture a few days ago she would not have appreciated, instead now she gripped his hand and allowed him to lead them down the corridor. “I’m glad we’re able to share our interests with one another.” He said as he led them down the corridor.
“Indeed, however since the order has come in for us to report to the astrometrics suite, I suggest we return to our quarters to clean ourselves and change into more suitable clothing.” T’Rani said
“Are you truly cutting our date to an end now?” Samris asked as they continued to walk down the corridor.
“It is not my request to end our time together this evening, I believe the blame lies with the captain.” T’Rani offered.
“So is that your way of saying we should do this again?” Samris asked as they approached the nearest turbolift.
“Indeed, however I believe we should try engaging in a different type of recreational activity instead of ones that are purely Romulan or Vulcan.” T’Rani offered as the lift arrived and they entered it. “Human opera is fascinating to observe.”
Just before the doors closed, Samris nodded to the idea. “Opera it is then.”
The aft compartment door lowered down, allowing for Captain McCallister and his son to depart from their shuttlecraft. The dockmaster approached them and asked the captain if everything was okay with the shuttle. Acknowledging with his response, McCallister asked the dockmaster to get a team to download their sensor logs into the ship’s computer straight away.
Heading towards the nearest turbolift, James told Alfie he should head to their quarters at once. “And make sure you don’t tell your mother that I allowed you to fly the shuttle back.” He added.
Alfie smirked at that comment. “Level ten clearance is required for that level of information, dad.” He said. “Thanks again for our trip dad.”
“I’m sorry it ended so abruptly though Alfie.” James said back. “I promise the next time we get a chance to get away, then I’ll take you out again.”
“I appreciate that dad.” Alfie said. “Does it ever get boring being a captain?”
Chuckling at that question, James shook his head. “I wish it did.”
“What do you think you would have done if you hadn’t entered Starfleet?” Alfie asked as the turbolift changed direction.
Considering the question for a moment, James pondered over his options. “I did have a few offers to take my swimming to a professional level, but then I loved tinkering with anything I could take apart too much. Starfleet seemed inevitable really.”
“I suppose, I best find a field of interest.” Alfie commented.
“Don’t rush into it.” James advised as the turbolift came to a halt for his destination. He stepped out and turned to his son. “Seriously though Alf, you’ll be a great asset to Starfleet.”
Alfie smiled at his father’s praise as the lift doors closed and resumed the journey to where their quarters were.
Walking into astrometrics several seconds later, Captain McCallister was pleased to see his wife already there waiting for him.
“Welcome home traveller.” She greeted him with a smile and a hug.
Returning the embrace and quick kiss on her cheek, McCallister was happy to feel her close to him again. “Thanks, though I’m certain next time I go away with our son I’ll attempt to avoid any ancient alien ships that are adrift. I was starting to enjoy my time away with Alfie.”
“I’m sorry this has pulled you away from him.” Reyas said. “Did you get a chance to have a heart-to-heart with our beloved middle child?”
“I did, but I’ll catch you up about it all later.” McCallister said as he noticed that his wife had already begun working on scanning the alien ship. “What do you have on our latest mystery?”
“Exactly that, a mystery.” She answered as she led him over to the main controls that were in front of the huge ceiling to floor screen. “Your scans and what we’ve made so far from this distance are not revealing much.”
After she said her last word the senior staff started to enter the room and McCallister thanked her quietly before he began the meeting.
This would certainly be something they could sink their teeth into.