“The time is oh-seven hundred hours.”
Waking up slowly, Craigen Flemen pushed himself up from his king size bed. Blinking a few times, he rubbed his face as he tried to focus on his surroundings. His quarters were dimly lit, the way he had left it the night before. Yawning a few times he ordered the computer to bring the light level up a few notches as he pulled the sheets off his body and swung his legs off the bed. Taking a few deep breaths, he could sense a few people who were nearby. Like most mornings, his attempt at focussing on waking himself up properly helped him center his own thoughts and feelings to shield everyone else’s away from him. His empathic balance appeared to return to normal and he felt better for it. It was a trick he learnt from an old academy friend of his that was Betazoid. Tam Grex, who was now a test pilot back for the ASDB on Earth, had shared with him how he prepared himself mentally for the day. The trick since then had always worked for Flemen.
Standing up, he stretched his back as he pulled off his black vest and headed straight to the area of his quarters where he had set himself up a little gym area.
His quarters were pretty huge, compared to what he had experienced from his previous assignment on the Galaxy-class starship, the USS Pytheas. Leaving his cabin, he walked past the living room and made his way into what should have been left for a guest to use. Instead he had turned it into a workout area. He had no-one that would be visiting or staying over, so instead recently he made use of the space for something else. Undertaking a workout in the morning helped the blood pump through his body a lot more and the energy boost was what he had needed. From cycling, running, pumping weights and other cardio exercise, Flemen had found himself enjoying his work out sessions more and more recently. One way or another the energy he burnt as well as gained, helped him destress before the start of the day. He even did it before going to bed now.
After completing almost half an hour of exercise, sweat was now pouring down his face, neck, chest and back that he decided it was time to head into the sonic shower.
Entering the bathroom, he took off his shorts and entered the sonic shower area.
“Activate shower.” He commanded, immediately the warm sonic waves smashed against his skin. Instantly the hair on the back of his neck stood up as did the goosebumps on his arms as the sensation of being cleaned by sound waves did their job. Closing his eyes for a moment, the idea of returning to bed felt welcoming but he knew he had no choice in the matter. Placing his back against one of the walls, the gentle and warm vibrating experience carried on as he went through his mind everything he had endured over the last two months. It had become routine for him to do this every morning, it was almost like the mental version of pinching himself. Reminding himself how events had developed, somehow kept him grounded.
Eventually he left the sonic shower and got himself changed into a brand new clean uniform. Looking at himself in the mirror, he smartened himself up as he pushed his hair into its carefully combed straight style he always had. The door chime went off, instantly making him look over to the door. Straight away he could sense who it was and he smirked at how prompt his visitor always was at this time in the morning.
“The time is oh-seven hundred hours.”
After being up for almost half an hour, Alfie McCallister was used to hearing the second alarm going off. The one time he overslept and was late for his shift had taught him to not rely on his brothers in waking him up. Instead since becoming an acting ensign he had to depend on himself.
After finishing his morning workout, something he had been inspired to do by his superior and current mentor, Alfie was getting himself ready for the day by reading the ship’s schedule. Checking it through he noticed that the delta shift engineering crew had some problem with the warp core that Lieutenant Tierra needed to brief the senior staff about. Switching his holographic display off and transferring the schedule to his PADD, he walked out of his room and down the corridor towards the bathroom he shared with his brothers.
Looking ahead of himself, he saw the doorway to his parents’ room. The darkened room had become a regular image for him and his brothers. None of them had found the strength to go in there or even close the door. It felt wrong as if they were giving up on ever seeing their folks again. Hopefully by the end of today, they would be in a better place in finding them.
Stopping by the door to the bathroom, Alfie sighed as he realised that someone else was in it. Feeling the disgusting sensation of sweat sticking to his skin, he considered for a moment going to use the en-suite in his parents’ room but stopped himself when the doors opened and the familiar view of their ‘guest’ appeared. Standing with just a towel around him was Duke Goldman. Ever since his parents had been taken and didn’t return, the Auditorium’s manager’s son had moved in after he found it difficult to be living by himself in his own quarters. Duke was best friends with Theo and he had been crashing in Theo’s room ever since. The two were almost inseparable these days. Like two peas in a pod.
“Morning A-man.” Duke greeted him with his nickname for Alife as he strutted across the corridor towards Theo’s room.
Alfie gave him a friendly smile as he replied with his own nickname. “Hey Dukey.”
As Duke entered Theo’s room, Alfie heard him trying to wake Theo up by what sounded through the use of throwing of clothes and probably a pillow. It was normal for Theo to always be the last to wake up and take his time in the morning. Ever since Duke had moved in, it became a regular occurrence for him to become Theo’s own personal alarm clock. Rolling his eyes, Alfie ignored the antics coming from his brother’s bedroom as he got into the bathroom to have his sonic shower.
Several minutes later, he was finishing getting ready by fixing his hair as he headed down the spiral set of stairs from the upper level of their quarters to the main living area. As he got to the bottom step he noticed that Duke’s efforts, as always, were semi-fruitful in getting Theo up and out of bed. Theo was sitting on the large corner sofa, munching his way through a bowl of cereal while still in his boxer shorts.
“Morning T.” Alfie called out as he went over to where he left his boots from the night before.
Theo just grunted back in return as he chewed on his breakfast. After finishing a mouthful, “Morning bro.” He replied with. “There’s fresh coffee made by Duke if you’re interested.”
Rolling his eyes at how lazy his brother was, Alfie finished pulling on his left boot as he answered. “I swear you’re getting more sloth-like with everyday that passes since Duke moved in. You let him do so much for you.”
“Duke’s got a good heart.” Theo answered back with. “I can’t complain that he does stuff for me and in return I do stuff for him.”
“Do I want to ask you to define what that ‘stuff’ is?” Alfie stated back as he stood up and brushed his uniform down. “I swear I never see you working.”
“I don’t know what you’re insinuating! Duke and I are partners-in-crime!” Theo replied with a smirk. “I help out in the Auditorium five nights a week and I’ve promised Duke to help out with his music lessons.”
“Wow, the crew thanks you for your contribution.” Alfie sarcastically said as he checked himself out one more time in the mirror. “Talking about your partner, where is he? I heard him trying to wake you up from your slumber earlier.”
“The Auditorium. Someone called in sick this morning so you’ll see him setting up for breakfast.” Theo replied as he picked up another spoonful of cereal and shoved it in his gob in one fell swoop, a tad of milk slipped out and over his chin and down his chest. He quickly licked his spoon and cleared himself up with the back of his hand.
Seeing his brother’s slobbish antics in his reflection, Alfie just shook his head knowing that if either of his parents saw Theo do such a thing they would pull him up on it. Looking at his brother, he also knew their father would have commented on Theo allowing his hair to grow as long as it got and also for curling it. It was obvious he was trying to copy Duke, who had natural curly hair and had grown it out since his parents had gone too. Alfie was certain though that if Duke wasn’t around that Theo would have done absolutely nothing. In some way he had to thank for small favours.
The door to their quarters then opened and stepping in, panting hard and covered in sweat was Henri, his other brother. Wearing his running gear, Henri stepped through and headed straight to the replicator. As he passed his two brothers, he said morning in between breaths.
“How long today?” Alfie asked as he picked up his combadge and placed it on the left side of his chest.
In between sips, Henri spoke. “Five kilometres. I want to up it tomorrow, for about six.” Taking a sip, he looked at Theo and shook his head. Henri went over to the other side of the sofa and slumped in it. “Alfie, you should come out with me one morning.”
Shaking his head, Alfie turned the offer down. “Unlike you, I’m not keen on being super fit. I’m fine with my own regime, thanks.”
“Your loss.” Henri said as he took another sip and looked at Henri. Poking his brother’ belly, he chuckled. “Theo, you should come out with me then.”
“I’m perfectly fine, cheers.” Theo answered as he necked back the last of his cereal and milk. Again, his couch potato-like antics took place as more milk went down his bare chest. After placing the bowl down on the small glass coffee table, he wiped himself clean and again licked his hand that had got wet from the milk. Pushing the empty but dirty mugs, plates and bowls that sat on the coffee table with his feet, Theo raised his legs up and gave out a large belching of a burp as he scratched his belly.
“You really are gross sometimes.” Henri remarked as he looked at his brother with almost disgust. “Seriously, just come out and do something with me. You used to be always up for a jog or playing something out on the holodeck.”
“Well that was before dad decided to abandon us and have another family on some alien ark.” Theo grumbled as he got up and picked up his bowl, along with the other filthy dishes that were on the coffee table, to take it over to the replicator to be recycled.
“That’s not fair Theo.” Henri countered back quickly with. “We don’t know what’s happened to dad or mum. We don’t know why dad had to make those decisions. For all we know he had a weapon to his head and he had to take the choice that saved us.”
“Well it’s enough for the crew he sent back to question his negotiating tactics.” Theo snapped back with. “And don’t start on me about my change. Look at yourself, all you’ve done is thrown yourself into your sports, flirting with everyone in our grade who has a pulse and new hairstyle!”
“Jealousy on you is as ugly as that stupid mullet you’re trying to pull off.” Henri fired back with. “Don’t be a green-eyed monster just because everyone loves my blond hair and that I’m doing something productive with my time while our folks are away.”
“Visiting the gym for hours on end each day as well as teaching kids soccer, basketball and babysitting them in our old Captain Proton holonovels really isn’t that productive!” Theo stated back as he lunged for Henri and knocked him back onto the sofa.
“ENOUGH!” Alfie shouted as he got in the middle of his brothers. He was surprised he was able to push Henri off, ever since their parents had gone he spent more time in the ship’s gym that he had built up his muscles so much that he could probably take out a Gorn with one hit. Theo fell backwards and landed on the floor with a thud. He looked just as surprised as Henri did at Alfie’s reaction. “Enough!” Alfie repeated in between breaths as he looked between them. “We can keep fighting one another until mom and dad come home, or we could all do something to help out. I don’t know about you two, but I’m not going to just sit here and do nothing. We’re meant to be brothers, we’re a family.”
The three McCallister boys said nothing to one another for a moment.
“I’m sorry H.” Theo said in a much calmer toner than before as he pushed himself up off the floor and extended his hand towards his brother.
“Me too Theo.” Henri said in a similar tone as he shook his brother and pulled him in for a hug. “Your hair isn’t that bad.”
“Likewise, and perhaps I will join you in the gym later.” Theo said after they let go and jiggled his somewhat little podge belly he had grown.
Smiling that he had averted a disaster, Alfie walked over to the side where he had been and picked up his PADD. “I need to go, but remember I need you both in transporter room one at nineteen hundred hours.”
“Don’t worry Alf, I’ll have H out of the gym, washed and dressed before then.” Theo said pointing to his brother with his left thumb.
“And I’ll see if I can get Duke to convince this one to cut the mullet for us!” Henri remarked. “I suppose we gotta look good for our guest tonight?”
“Please do.” Alfie said as he left their quarters and made his way towards his morning meeting.
“Come in, Alf.” Flemen commanded as he went to pick up his rank pips to put on his uniform.
Entering his quarters, Acting Ensign Alfie McCallister made his way in. “Good Morning sir.”
“Morning Alf.” Flemen greeted the young man. “How are you doing today?”
“All fine, thank you sir.” The captain’s son replied as he stood just before the doorway as it closed behind him. Like every morning, McCallister clutched a PADD in his hands. “Yourself?”
“Same.” He said as popped the last pip to his shoulder and glanced at the mirror one more time to ensure they were on straight. Flemen could sense that McCallister wasn’t sharing everything, but he didn’t want to poke too much into the young man’s private life. Instead he carried on being official. “What’s on the plan for today?”
Looking at the PADD he held, McCallister shared Flemen’s schedule for the day. Once he had finished he added a few more details that were not on the official list of jobs they had to do. “Lieutenant Tierra requested you see her at some point today, apparently delta shift’s efforts on rebuilding the dilithium crystal chamber caught a snag overnight.”
Sitting down on one of the armchairs, Flemen was placing his left boot on when he heard that last statement. Almost sighing at the bad luck that had fallen on them all, Flemen stopped himself and looked up at the younger man. “What does the lieutenant class as a ‘snag’ when it comes to the warp core?” He asked. He knew there was no way he could understand the complete technical background, but he knew he had to be seen knowing some things.
“One of the magnetic seals almost failed. Fortunately the delta shift team was able to detect the failing system before it caused any serious damage.” McCallister said, reading almost word for word the notes from Tierra. “She wants to talk you through their repair efforts.”
“Okay, bring that meeting up to this morning after I’ve checked in on the bridge. My meeting with department heads can be moved into the afternoon” Flemen stated as he stood up. “Anything else?”
“No sir. Everything is already sorted, as long as nothing else happens between now and the League’s arrival later tonight.” McCallister shared.
“On that, we both agree on.” Flemen replied as checked himself out one more time in the mirror before turning to his protege. “Let’s go grab something to eat.”
Leading the ensign out of his quarters, Flemen made his way through the corridors towards the Auditorium. Odyssey’s systems were powered down in most areas of the ship. With a skeleton crew on board, the need for everything to be on was unjustified and reserving power for other systems was now a priority. The ship’s automation systems were working on overdrive and having less systems to focus on meant less taxation on that system. Flemen didn’t want to break the Odyssey before it could be used to mount a rescue of their trapped crewmates.
Entering the large Auditorium, as always the room was busy for the morning run. Almost everyone who was left on the ship was there, besides those who were already on duty. Delta shift would be finishing soon, with alpha shift ready to take over.
“Captain on deck.” announced Duke Goldman.
Flemen inwardly groaned at the announcement and signalled for everyone who stood to sit back down and return to their breakfasts. He looked over to Goldman, the son of Remi Goldman the Auditorium’s manager, and reminded him to stop doing that. Just like Alfie, Duke had been left behind when his parents had been taken by Captain Jyster. Duke, who was seventeen, had decided almost instantly that he would step into his parents shoes. Along with playing temporary host of the Auditorium like his father, Duke had followed in his mother’s footsteps and made himself one of the teachers for the younger children that had remained behind. The young man looked so much like his parents, his cheeky chappy appearance he got from his father while his curly brown hair and green eyes were definitely from his mother. He was popular among many of the younger members of the crew since taking on these roles. Flemen had wished he had Goldman’s stamina and his boyish charms meant that sometimes he could push the boundaries without any harm coming to anyone.
The younger Goldman shrugged his shoulders in response to Flemen’s reminder, the same mischievous look he had in his expression was the same one that Flemen had seen from his father on many occasions. “Sorry, Lieutenant Commander Flemen, but protocol dictates it. My parents would be upset with me if they knew I didn’t keep the tradition up”
“Then let me suspend them temporarily until Captain McCallister returns.” Flemen said as he grabbed a plate, passed it to Ensign McCallsiter and got himself one as they walked over to the huge breakfast buffet table that was set up. It was true that Goldman’s parents would normally announce the arrival of McCallister, especially at formal occasions, but he really didn’t want to be reminded about their current situation where the captain was absent and he was Odyssey’s temporary master and commander
“No fun at all.” grumbled Goldman as he went away.
Ensign McCallister chuckled slightly as he followed his superior after saying something to his friend as he passed him. “Duke doesn’t mean anything by it, sir.” He directed at Flemen.
“I know.” Flemen answered as he picked up some toast. “It’s just something I don’t need to deal with first thing before I’ve had a cup of coffee.”
“Understood, sir.” McCallister said as he started to fill his plate up with scrambled egg and bacon. “For the record, my father wouldn’t mind you being called that in his absence though.”
“I’m sure he wouldn’t.” Flemen replied and a smirk then grew across his face. “But I’d prefer we wait for his return for that to be announced every morning to annoy him instead.”
“Let’s hope that my uncle brings some good news when he arrives tonight.” McCallister added.
“I’m sure he will.” Flemen confidently said. “Are you looking forward to seeing him?”
Shrugging his shoulders slightly, McCallister didn’t seem that bothered. “I think Henri and Theo are, I’m not sure.”
After picking out their food, Flemen led them across the floor to one of the empty tables. He could have gone and used the captain’s private dining area, but just like his decision not to allow people to call out that he was on deck by using the phrase captain, he preferred to leave it until the real captain came home. “How come?” He asked as they took their seats.
“My dad and Uncle Horatio had a massive falling out years ago before my brothers and I were born and they only recently reconnected. Even mom wouldn’t share what happened with us. All I know is it is linked to my uncle’s career in Starfleet. I’ve got a feeling he did something wrong and it was down to my dad to find him and bring him back.” McCallister said as he sat down. “I think it happened early on in my dad’s career. I’m sure I’ve overheard him say it was back when he was operations manager on the Audacious.”
“Interesting.” Flemen said as he ordered himself a mug of black coffee and McCallister a glass of orange juice, their usual morning drinks from one of the holographic waitresses.
Picking up his fork, Flemen looked at the young man that sat before him. For someone who for the past two months had to grow up considerably and agreed to become the ship’s acting yeoman, Alfie McCallister was doing an incredible job so far. All of them had done an incredible job.
Taking a bite, Flemen truly hoped that the moment the League arrived today, things would change drastically for them.
Two months of just purely surviving and maintaining the ship had become a tedious job. After the Quirennal had left them and moments after departing from the nebula they had discovered the alien ship in, Odyssey had suffered from numerous computer malfunctions. Jyster had found a way to by-pass the ship’s powerful computer defences to upload a series of viruses that disrupted primary systems. Warp drive, long range sensors, subspace radio and weapons had been disabled at first. Once they had almost fixed them, then further systems were damaged. The main deflector went as did the impulse engines. The moment they were repaired, the warp drive broke again. If it hadn’t been for Lieutenant Tierra’s ingenious and tiresome work with the engineers that had been returned to them, the ship would still have been crippled. After spending two weeks having to remove the computer virus from its systems, it had taken another week before they were able to restore some systems and were able to call the USS League using their hyper-subspace radio. Nevertheless, every so often a system would fail and would require extra maintenance then normal. It had become a constant headache.
The League was over two months away from them at high warp, but the moment Captain Horatio McCallister had heard what had happened, he had already cut his mission short and had plotted a course to meet up with the Odyssey. Unfortunately Odyssey was unable to help with shortening their journey, the warp drive had become a mess to fix. If it wasn’t an injector needing repairs or the containment field’s integrity failing, then there was something else wrong with it. Since then the Odyssey had remained at the edge of the nebula, waiting for the League. The plan would be for the League’s crew, who had been assigned a team from SCE as part of its mission in the Delta Quadrant, to build a new warp core and replace the one the Odyssey was currently using.The League’s SCE was building it on their way to meeting up with the Odyssey. Sensors had also been greatly affected and again the entire array would have to be replaced. Jyster’s computer virus had done a number on the Odyssey, all to stop them from chasing after them and attempting a rescue of their missing crew. Nevertheless, Flemen was not going to let their technical problems stop them from trying to track down Jyster and retrieve everyone.
In the middle of all of this commotion, they had been able to restore communication with Starfleet Command. Rear Admiral Marshall-Bennet had been the one to take the call from the Odyssey. Their former task force commanding officer, who had received a new set of pips into the admiralty and a new job title as the Fourth Fleet’s Chief of Staff, had given Flemen a field promotion to lieutenant commander. Bennet ordered Flemen to assume temporary command of the Odyssey as its acting captain. Flemen was surprised with it all, but had promised the admiral to do his best. In the meantime, Bennet was going to use his influence to see if he could send more ships towards Odyssey’s direction to assist them with their search and rescue efforts. That call had taken place over five weeks ago and they hadn’t heard anything back.
With his new power as acting captain, Flemen had created a new senior staff using who was left behind. Their ECH, Penelope, was now active all the time (thankfully she wasn’t affected by the virus) and had become his acting first officer. Tierra, who had been pregnant and returned to Odyssey as part of Captain McCallister’s agreement with Jyster, was now acting chief engineer while her wife was acting chief science officer. Lieutenant junior grade Jisaraa, who was a single mother to two young children, had taken over from Lenjir as acting security and tactical chief. They had no hazard teams for her to lead, but the Orion woman had requested for now they didn’t plan any away team missions unless it was necessary. Something that Flemen was quite happy to agree with. Then their acting chief medical officer was their EMH, Doctor Agnes. In fact most of the crew had received new assignments based on their expertise. Some had volunteered to work double shifts each day, while others had also volunteered to look after the many children that were left behind. One thing though that Flemen couldn’t be prouder of was the response they had got from those young people who were all teenagers, all of them including Alfie, his brothers and their friends like Duke, had stepped up to help out wherever they could. Some were working under supervision in departments like engineering, sickbay or helping out with childcare. The only issue he had to deal with was trying to keep crew morale up. Many had believed that Captain McCallister’s actions in negotiating with Jyster the way he did was wrong. Even though they had been safely returned to their younger children, it still had them in a bad situation. Some though were keen on not letting the captain down and were eager to get their lost friends back home. The whole experience had changed them all, nevertheless Flemen was keen on maintaining the strong community that McCallister had built since he took command of the Odyssey almost fourteen years ago.
That all said, the time waiting for the League to arrive had given them all plenty of time to get into a strong daily routine. It had brought them all closer in that sense. So many of the crew had learnt new skills and were dependent on one another, it had been required of them to ensure the Odyssey survived. Though she was a big ship and had a number of automated systems, those systems still needed to be taken care of and the computer viruses had damaged them in its vicious attack.
Odyssey had to return to some normality.
It had to.
One day it would. Flemen just wondered when that day would be.