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Part of USS Odyssey: Like Father Like Son

Thrown In The Deep End

USS Odyssey (NCC-80000), Gradin Belt, Delta-Beta Quadrants Border
Stardate: 76755.4
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Trying to establish some control over a ship filled mainly with children and young people was not something that appeared in any of Penelope’s databases. Nevertheless, she leant on the limited experience she had and was trying to adapt to the situation she found herself in. 

One stable element that had helped her was the presence of Acting Ensign Alfie McCallister-Reyas. Not quite like either of his parents in that he knew much in regards to Starfleet protocols, his initiative and eagerness to want to help was useful. After briefing her on what he knew had taken place, he had taken the approach to liaise with his brothers and their friends in keeping the much younger souls on the ship calmer. She had been impressed at how resourceful these teenagers had been in coordinating their efforts from The Auditorium and gaining almost everyone they encountered that was old enough to help look for the other younger children to become interim guardians and carers.

Returning to the bridge after his successful ‘away mission’, Alfie stepped off the aft turbolift and approached Penelope, who had been in the middle of moving from the science station to the helm. The bareness of the bridge still unnerved him. “Reporting in ma’am.” He stated, sounding unsure if that was the right comment to come out with. 

Appreciating the gesture, Penelope’s interaction subroutine ensured she responded in a way that was appropriate for someone in his rank while combining it with a reaction that showed her encouragement of his work. “Thank you, ensign. Any issues I need to be aware of?”

“None, ma’am.” He answered. “My brothers and our friends seem to have calmed most of the youngsters that showed…” Pausing, Alfie didn’t want to exaggerate too much about how they had found many of the Odyssey’s younger children in distress from not having their parents around them. Carefully he picked his words, using ones he suspected his parents would use. “…concerned at the absence of their parents. They are keeping them entertained.”

Bobbing her head in acceptance of his report, Penelope took the helm station and gestured for him to sit beside her at ops. “I bet you never guessed on your first day of promotion you’d be made acting operations manager?”

Shaking his head, Alfie followed her orders and sat down. “What do I do?” He asked, looking down at the various controls. Though they were in Federation standard, it could have been in Klingonese, he didn’t understand much of it. 

“You’ve co-piloted a shuttle before?” Penelope asked for clarification.

He nodded once. “With my dad in the seat next to me, yeah.” Alfie said, sounding nervous.

“Then, all I need from you is to keep an eye on the ship’s systems.” Penelope said. “Computer, change primary ops console to basic training mode layout and activate semi-automated monitoring protocols, suitable for a first year cadet to learn from.”

“Acknowledged.” The computer replied and the display before Alfie changed per Penelope’s request. On the main console the ship’s outlines were made clear with primary systems all appearing in green. A holographic screen appeared to his left, it showed the ship’s secondary systems and again they were all in the green. “These readouts show you the current status of each system across the ship. Tapping over one of them will expand further details on their condition.”

“Are you okay with that?” Penelope questioned. 

Nodding, Alfie sat up straight and hovered his hands over the consoles as he started to read to himself each system. 

Tapping her combadge, Penelope got in touch with cetacean ops. “Petty Officer Ramman’ker, are you ready for the transfer?”

“Yes ma’am. Our systems down here have been reconfigured.” The Xindi-Aquatic answered with his robotic sounding translated tones. 

“Transferring main helm controls now.” Penelope stated as she tapped a few commands and then a reading appeared on Alfie’s console to show the transfer was a success. During this time, cetacean ops would handle flying the ship.

“The computer states that helm control was successfully handed over to Cetacean Ops.” Alfie announced. 

“Confirmed.”  Ramman’ker stated.

“Thank you, both.” Penelope said as she got up, headed over to the tactical station. “Now that we’ve secured the ship, we need to begin planning some sort of rescue.” Looking over at the tactical station, which showed her that the ship’s primary and secondary defence systems were online along with the weapons array, Penelope considered her options. Everything she calculated pointed to them being unable to by-pass the impressive shielding that surrounded the Quirennal. She needed to come up with an out of the box solution. “Ensign McCallister, I’m transferring myself down to Cetacean Ops to coordinate with the rest of their think tank. Keep monitoring our systems and bring up the readings we’re taking of the Quirennal. The bridge is yours.”

Another shocked expression from the young man appeared. “Oh…okay.” He stuttered out. 

Enjoying his naivety somewhat, Penelope told him to take his father’s chair while she activated the holographic consoles to appear either side of the chair, so he could monitor not just ship systems but have access to the sensors as well. 

Taking a huge gulp inwards, Alfie stood up and made his way over to the centre chair. Slowly he lowered himself into it and exhaled slowly as he did. Looking at the hologram, he just nodded to say he was okay. Appearing to take some comfort that he was sitting in his father’s chair, Penelope instantly transferred herself with a simple command to the computer and had the computer open a channel between Alfie and her while she was away. 

Appearing to float in the vast waters that took up Cetacean Ops, Penelope found herself “swimming” among the non-humanoid members of the aqua-based crew that were left behind. She had wondered why Captain Jyster had not taken them all as well, especially as she had kept Odyssey’s Horta geologist Ensign Tchwulkk and his partner Crewmember Demiaht. The two Hortas had been part of one of them away teams that had been exploring the Quirennal before Jyster had kidnapped everyone else. 

Swimming towards the Cetacean Ops think tank, Penelope asked to hear their thoughts and ideas on how to rescue everyone back. The mixed noises from the Xindi-Aquatics were mixed with the clicks, whistles and pulsed calls coming from the other members of the Cetacean Ops. If it hadn’t been for the universal translator being built into her program, then Penelope wouldn’t be able to understand any of them. 

“The only option we calculate as having a high probability of working is highly…” Ramman’ker paused as he considered his words carefully. “Creative and extreme.”

“Do share.” Penelope insisted. 

“We debated whether or not we could force Captain Jyster to to remodulate the shield harmonics of her ship with a sustained modulated tachyon beam from our main deflector, thus forcing her to drop her shields giving us the chance to beam the crew back in one go.” Ramman’ker explained. “However, for us to be effective against her shields we would have to overload the deflector and thus we would not be able to escape without sustaining a high amount of damage.”

“I’ve already considered that strategy, for now it’s a no.” Penelope said, “So what’s your option that you think would have a high probability of success?”

“Well ma’am,” Ramman’ker paused, “it would require us building a phase cloaking device.”

“A phase cloaking device?” Penelope repeated as she accessed her database to confirm what she needed to know. 

“You see ma’am, if we could phase through the Quirrennal, we believe the large valley would be big enough for us to decloak in, beam our crew back and re-cloak for a hasty retreat.” Ramman’ker shared.

After reading the classified files where the Enterprise-D had encountered the Federation prototype for a phase cloak as well as when the Romulans had experimented with it, almost thirty years ago, Penelope instantly shut the idea down. “No, we would be breaking our treaty with the Romulans.”

“Ma’am, the Romulans are over thirty-thousand light-years away.” Ramman’ker remarked, 

“Even so, we don’t break the treaty just because they are not in our neighbourhood.” Penelope reinforced. “Along with that, we don’t have the expertise to build such a device from scratch nor do we have the time.”

“Then we are back to square one for now.” Ramman’ker said, sounding deflated, that their idea had been shot down.

“Explore the tachyon one further. See what measures we could put into place to protect the deflector.” Penelope offered.

“Aye ma’am.” Ramman’ker said, looking at his fellow colleagues. 

“Bridge to Captain Penelope.” spoke Ensign McCallister’s voice over the intercom after the chime had gone off.

Tapping her combadge, the ECH replied. “Go ahead Ensign.”

“Ma’am, you may want to return up here. Lieutenant Flemen has just returned and sensors show a return of a number of our crew too.Alfie reported. “Also ma’am, the Quirrennal has gone!”

Surprised to hear that, Penelope left Cetacan Ops and transferred herself back to the bridge. 

“And just like that, I’m here.” Flemen offered as he shrugged his shoulders at the ECH and the captain’s son. 

“Do you know where Captain Jyster has taken them?” Alfie asked before he realised he was questioning a superior officer. Quickly he added a, “sir” at the end. 

Flemen looked at the young man. “No clue whatsoever.” He answered. “Captain Jyster was not forthcoming with that. She was more keen on insulting me, but I suspect she was trying to get some distance between us and her ship.”

“A coaxial warp drive can deposit them quite far from us.” Penelope shared. “We’d need to leave the nebula to begin long range scans.” She looked at Alfie, “Ensign, inform Cetacean Ops to take us out and then begin long range sensor sweeps, see if you can scan for any of the energy readings we have of the Quirennal.”

Nodding several times, Alfie left the company of the hologram and the diplomatic officer and made his way over to the ops station to get on with his assignment. 

Penelope signalled for her and Flemen to walk to the back of the bridge, so they were far away from Alfie’s earshot. “What was the captain’s plan here?”

Shaking his head, Flemen showed his lack of knowledge. “I’m not entirely sure. He was keen to open up a diplomatic dialogue with Jyster, my guess it was to show a strong sense of faith and trust on his part with her. Hence why he decided to keep a majority of the crew with him while  having those with younger children return to the Odyssey. A short term gain on his part, I suppose.”

“His parenting experience certainly comes in handy here then.” Penelope stated. “I’m not sure how long we could have sustained Odyssey without proper help with our younger members.”

“I’m just frustrated that I was the only one from the senior staff sent back.” Flemen commented as he crossed his arms against his chest and leant against the bulkhead next to the ship’s Master Situation Diagram. “She genuinely thought I didn’t have the ability or experience to mount a rescue of the rest of the crew or I was good enough to be a parent.”

Intrigued at both of those remarks, Penelope flinched her head. “Perhaps she was not aware of your background being trained as a Hazard Team member as well as being a qualified bridge officer. Plus I believe no-one is ever born to be the perfect parent.”

“Still, I’ve always had someone to back me up, like Commander Duncan.” Flemen said, sounding still defeated somewhat by Jyster’s assessment of him and his abilities. 

“Well officially lieutenant, you must assume command as per protocol states. My rank is only provisional during emergencies and when others are unable to discharge the duties of the captain properly. You are qualified and required to do this.” Penelope stated.

Sighing at hearing that, the young Lumerian just nodded as he uncrossed his arms. “But you’ll remain on as acting first officer. I’m going to need to count on that vast tactical database of yours.”

“Aye sir.” She said with a smile and with a blink she quickly updated the pips on her collar to show she had taken a demotion to commander. “Happy to help.” She added.

Smirking at the gesture, Flemen indicated for them to walk back to the centre of the bridge, he could see that Acting Ensign McCallister was carrying out the orders that Penelope had issued. “We need to re-establish roles and responsibilities with those who have returned and ensure everyone who has come back is in good health.” Flemen stated.

“We could activate the ship’s emergency medical holographic programs to do that, sir.” Alfie suggested. 

“Good idea, ensign.” Flemen said as he looked at the centre chair he approached. Hesitating at first, he saw Penelope taking Commander Duncan’s seat with ease. Copying her approach, he did the same thing and sat down. “Alfie, can you do that for me?”

“Yes, sir.” The young man said. 

“Ensign McCallister has been coordinating our ‘babysitting’ efforts,” Penelope shared. “I suggest we make sure the crew who have returned are assured by what the other younger people have done. I can do this and then begin handing out crew assignments.”

“Sounds good to me.” Flemen stated. “We then need to work out what we will do once we find them.”

Turning around in his chair, Alfie spoke up. “Sorry if this is out of turn, but can I ask sir, did either of my parents say anything to you about me or my brothers?”

Deciding not to shoot him down for not asking permission to speak freely, Flemen smiled to assure the teenager. “Your father did, and I sort of understood what he said but it was quite bizarre what he said.”

“What do you mean?” Penelope asked for clarity.

Looking at her, Flemen answered. “Well what he said was not something I’ve heard him say before when referencing Alfie and his brothers.” Flemen looked at Alfie. “He said that you and your brother will need to find your own league now, but he loved you just as much as everyone else in your family does.”

“That’s odd.” Penelope said.

“I could sense he was trying to get a message across to me, as a way of saying he was speaking in code and that only you three would understand it.” Flemen said. “It was like he was purposely not using any other code in case Jyster knew them.”

“Seeing as she had hacked our database then I don’t blame him for speaking oddly.” Penelope said. She looked at the captain’s son. “Alfie, any ideas on what he means?”

“Our own league?” Alfie repeated as he considered that part with more focus. Then something clicked in the back of his mind. “I don’t think he means a sporting league, I think he means for us to find THE League and get in contact with my uncle.”

“Do you mean the U-S-S League, under the command of Captain Horatio McCallister?” Penelope checked which Alfie just nodded in response. Looking at Flemen, the ECH considered the idea. “They are the nearest Federation ship to us, they’ve just completed making second contact with the Vojean.”

“Any help we get would be good. I’ll make the call once we’re free from the nebula.” Flemen stated as he turned his attention back to thinking what he should do next. If his captain wanted him to find the League, then he knew there was something else he was missing here. What could the Intrepid-class ship do to help them out besides becoming an extra set of parents to help Jyster with her upbringing of her children? Or did Captain McCallister need his brother to advise them? Feeling overwhelmed by what he was thinking, he excused himself to take a moment in the ship’s conference room. He needed to think everything through carefully first before making any more decisions. 

Closing his eyes, he could sense those who had returned home to Odyssey sharing their sense of relief of being returned to their younger children while still those who did not have their parents feeling lost and worried. Blocking out the mental input from others, Flemen took in several deep breaths as he walked into the observation lounge. Heading over to the replicator he got himself a glass of water and cleared his mind again. He was going to do this and prove to Jyster she was wrong. In the back of his mind though he could sense Ensign McCallister on the bridge, being overwhelmed by the concern for his parents’ safety and the situation he had been thrown in. Realising he needed to give the ensign some strength, Flemen returned to the bridge at once. Assuring the acting ensign he was doing a good job, Flemen got straight to work with the ECH in sorting out where they were things while the ship departed the nebula.