Lying with his back against his king size bed, Alfie couldn’t believe what had happened with his parents. Looking up at the ceiling in his bedroom, he wondered just how long they had planned this and if they were truly supporting him or testing his resolve to join Starfleet. He had missed meeting up with his friends since the meeting and returned to his quarters instead. Not moping, not confused but just still surprised at the move. It came out of the blue.
Turning his head to the left side, he looked one more time at the uniform his father had presented him with. Did he truly believe in his son? He hoped so. Staring back at the ceiling, he wondered further how much he would have to deal with as part of his training. Picking up the small rugby ball he had on his bedside cabinet, Alfie started to throw it up in the air and catch it in one hand. He did this when he was distracted or deep in thought. Either way it helped him keep calm.
His bedroom was of a reasonable size, one of the perks of being the captain’s son meant that the McCallisters enjoyed a huge set of quarters that included their own private cabins for Alfie, his brothers and parents. Unlike Theo or Henri’s rooms, Alfie’s room was a lot tidier and everything was neatly put away and everything had its own place. Two sloped windows currently showed the nebula the ship was in. His large bed sat under one of them while he had a small two seater sofa under the other. In one corner of his room, up against the wall, was a desk and a workstation for him to do his studies. His parents had set up a bookshelf for him to hold on to his favourite books that he had read. Dotted around the room were various photographs of him and his family. A singular door led into a small walk-in wardrobe. Unfortunately he didn’t have an en-suite or a replicator. For those he had to leave his private confines to use either of them. He knew that when he went to the academy, he would not have this luxury lifestyle he was so used to.
His door chime went off and Alfie looked up immediately from where he was lying and told his visitor to come in.
The doors slid open revealing his brother Theo standing in the corridor that connected their rooms. “Alf, have you seen mom or dad?”
Shaking his head, deciding not to tell Theo yet about the conversation he had with his folks earlier that day, Alfie answered with a blunt. “No.” He paused for a second, sounding irritated for being disturbed, and asked, “why?”
Shrugging his shoulders, Theo looked a tad bit worried. “Mom mentioned earlier that we were all having dinner together tonight, dad was meant to be cooking too but neither of them are home yet.”
“I know they were going to visit the alien ship, maybe they were caught over there?” Alfie suggested. He stood up, standing in front of the uniform so his brother couldn’t see it.
“Yeah, but if that was the case then dad would have sent Uncle Tobi here.” Theo rationalised.
He was right about that and that had always been the case.
Alfie took matters into his own hands and spoke up. “Computer, locate Captain McCallister.”
“Captain McCallister is not on board the Odyssey.” She replied.
“Okay, locate Commander Reyas.” Alfie requested next.
“Commander Reyas is not on board the Odyssey.” Came the repeated answer.
Looking at Theo, in an expression that said, told you so, Alfie went on to ask where his godfather was. “Computer, locate Senior Chief Petty Officer Court.” It was rare for their uncle to be off the ship.
“Senior Chief Petty Officer Court is not on board the Odyssey.”
Theo looked at Alfie with a bit of concern. “Surely, one of them would have gotten in touch with us.” He remarked to Alfie.
At that point Henri walked past. “Have you guys seen mom or dad?” He asked as he stopped at the doorway. His question received identical eye-rolling from his brothers for being so delayed in their conversation.
“No and we’ve not heard from Uncle Tobi either.” Theo shared.
Alfie, feeling a bit anxious to where everyone was, carried on interrogating the computer. “Computer, where did Captain McCallister, Commander Reyas and Senior Chief Petty Officer Court go before departing the Odyssey?”
Before he got a response the entire ship went to red alert and the computer spoke up across the ship’s intercom. “Attention, all hands: a ship-wide state of emergency has been automatically declared. Reported officers are not present. All available hands to duty stations. Civilians should report to their quarters for safety precautions. Fully automated systems are now in effect.”
All three McCallister boys looked at one another, confused at that announcement. Deciding to repeat his question, Alfie spoke to the computer again. “Computer, where did Captain McCallister, Commander Reyas and Senior Chief Petty Officer Court go before departing the Odyssey?”
“Their last known reported destination was to the Quirennal.”
Before Alfie or either of his brothers could say anything the intercom went off and an unfamiliar noise and then a voice followed. The voice sounded almost robotic, compared to the smooth female voice usually reserved for the computer . “Cetacean Ops to Acting Ensign McCallister.”
Confused by the call, Henry and Theo looked at one another and then at Alfie, who went almost red as if he had been caught doing something terrible. He stood to one side, revealing the uniform sat next to his bed.
“Acting Ensign McCallster?” Theo repeated. “Is there something you want to tell us, Alf?”
“Did dad promote you without telling us? Was that why they wanted us all home tonight?” Henri asked.
The call went off again. “Cetacean Ops to Acting Ensign McCallister, please respond.”
Holding up his right hand to his brothers, telling them to wait, Alfie turned around and picked up the combadge his dad had given him. Tapping it he answered the call. “Go ahead.”
More whining followed before the same robotic voice answered. “This is Petty Officer Ramman’ker, what is your present location?”
“My quarters. Why?” Alfie answered, wondering why the senior member of the Xindi-Aquatic think tank in Cetacean Ops was calling him.
“You’re needed on the bridge.” Ramman’ker answered.
“How come?” Alfie asked, a sense of anxiety crossed him after hearing that.
“It would appear every single humanoid crewmember who is an adult has been transported off the ship. We need to secure the vessel and you’re the only member of the active crew roster who hasn’t been kidnapped who can do the job.” Ramman’ker explained.
Surprised further by the revelation, Alfie looked at his brothers before he replied. “Understood, but I was only made an acting ensign a couple of hours ago. Surely, there must be someone else?”
“Unfortunately ensign, there isn’t. The computer has stated you are the only remaining person left who can undertake what is needed, unless I am able to flood the bridge and transport the entire cetacean ops team up to deck one. I can’t see your father liking that idea. We can’t fully control the ship from here and we’ve got a lot of young people that will need to be looked after too. If you can get to the bridge, I believe I can talk you through the procedure for the ship to recognise the need for us to activate the Emergency Command Hologram. From there Penelope can take over.” Ramman’ker stated.
“Understood, I’ll be there shortly. McCallister out.” He tapped his combadge and closed the channel. Glancing back at his brothers, Alfie took a hard swallow. “I know you’ve got a load of questions you want to ask but-”
“But don’t worry about it for now Alf.” Henri assured him. It was clear the current situation needed them to put aside their annoyance of Alfie’s news to one side and work together. “If what he said is true then there’s going to be loads of younger children on board the Odyssey who are frightened without their parents around.”
“Exactly.” Theo said. “We should talk to our friends and see if we can gather all of the younger kids in certain safe areas on the ship. Like the Auditorium, the schools and maybe the holodecks. I know it goes against what the computer instructed but at least we would know where everyone is.”
“Good idea.” Henri agreed looking at Theo and then back to Alfie. Noticing Alfie was looking a bit worried. “Alf, you need to stick that uniform on and get yourself up to deck one now.”
Sighing heavily, Alfie knew he couldn’t let anyone down and it would be exactly what his parents would want him to do. “Yeah, I know.” He said as he picked it up and started to get changed.
Moments later, he walked into the shared living room area where both Henri and Theo were standing talking about their plans. Both of them paused and saw their brother wearing his acting ensign uniform. Almost like the cadet variation of the officer’s duty uniform.
“It suits you, Alfie.” Henri said with a proud smile.
“Mom and dad are going to kill you for not letting them be around to see you in it for the first time!” Theo joked.
Ignoring the comments, Alfie walked over to them and handed them both a combadge each. “I’ve replicated these for us to remain in touch.” He said. “Let me know how you get on.”
“Likewise.” Henri said before Alfie left them and made his way up to the bridge.
A few minutes later Alfie walked off of the turbolift to a deserted bridge. The only life was the odd beep here and there. Before he had a chance to take more than two steps, the holographic representation of Ramman’ker appeared. It was odd to see a Xindi floating in mid-air on the bridge.
“Ensign, are you ready?” Ramman’ker inquired.
Stuttering slightly, Alfie answered with an affirmative as he walked down towards where his father’s chair was. “What did I do?”
“Tell the computer you are reporting for duty.” Ramman’ker advised. “As you’re not logging into a particular station, announcing it will help with the situation. I’m hoping between you and those of us who are left in cetacean ops, we can work out what has happened.”
Clearing his throat, Alfie spoke up. “Computer, this is Acting Ensign Alfie McCallister-Reyas, reporting for duty.”
“So far, so good.” croaked Ramman’ker’s robotic translation. “Next, we’re going to see if we can use the declared emergency as a way to activate the ECH.”
“Doesn’t that require someone with level nine clearance?” Alfie tested the floating Xindi.
“It does,” Ramman’ker replied. “But I am hoping some simple logic may force the computer to use its automated features to bring Penelope’s program online. It may not work, but it’s worth a try.”
“How do I force logic on to the computer then?” Alfie wondered, he was hoping he wouldn’t get into much trouble.
“Through a series of questions that would force the computer to realise the command structure has fallen apart and no-one is able to assume command, besides only those of us in cetacean ops and…well you. The computer has ethical subroutines as well that would force it to realise that those of us who are here can’t survive without the others in post. So in theory, the think tank believes we can force the computer to override the security clearance and bring Penelope online.” Ramman’ker explained. “Ready?”
“Yeah, I suppose.” Alfie said, shaking his shoulders as he psyched himself up.
After giving examples of what to say to the computer, Alfie took in everything that Ramman’ker had told him. Clearing his throat, the young acting ensign spoke up. “Computer, with the current ship-wide emergency declared and the absence of key senior staff personnel, who would be the logical choice to assume command of the Odyssey in place of Captain McCallister?”
The computer beeped a few times and made a noise that sounded like it was unable to process the question. “Current officers that have reported for duty are either not qualified or experienced to assume said duties.”
“Then is it logical for you to activate the Emergency Command Holographic program in such circumstances to restore an effective chain of command for the ship?” Alfie challenged.
“Activating the Emergency Command Holographic program requires a level nine clearance authorisation code.” The computer stated.
“And who is currently on board the Odyssey during its ship-wide emergency that can do this?” Alfie asked, sounding quite frustrated that his previous question didn’t do it.
“There is currently no-one able to activate the E-C-H.”
Looking at Ramman’ker, annoyed that the computer had stated something it should already know, Alfie carried on. “Then using emergency protocols, where the safety of those who remain on the Odyssey are in danger without a proper chain of command in place to ensure the ship’s survival, I ask you to ethically and logically activate the Emergency Command Holographic program on this premise.”
“Working.” The computer replied with. A few beeps later, the computer spoke up again. “Request confirmed. Emergency protocols engaged. Chance for survival without the activation of the E-C-H estimated at twenty-one percent. Activating Emergency Command Holographic Program will ensure a higher rate of the current crew remaining alive. Activating the Emergency Command Holographic Program now.”
Penelope’s holographic representation came to life as she fizzled before Alfie. Stood there with a big grin on his face, Alfie was somewhat proud with himself at how he bypassed the ship’s security systems. He knew if the ship-wide emergency hadn’t been active and the fact there was no-one else on board, he wouldn’t have got away with such a thing.
“Please state the nature of the command requirement.” Penelope said with a smile as she looked around the bridge and her eyes eventually fell on Alfie and the holographic representation of Ramman’ker.
“All command codes have been transferred to the E-C-H, emergency protocols remain in effect.” The computer announced with a beep following.
Looking confused as to the lack of officers, Penelope recognised Captain McCallister’s son. Her database updated with the latest crew roster changes. “Acting Ensign McCallister, where is everyone? Where is your father?”
Taking a deep breath in, Alfie explained what he knew to her with Ramman’ker aiding further detail where it was necessary. He only hoped they could find a way to rescue those who had been taken before they would need to send a distress call to Starfleet. He felt absolutely useless, he didn’t know how to fly a starship or deal with any of this. He was only a kid. If his parents wanted to test his resolve now about wanting to join Starfleet, he certainly found himself questioning it himself.