Noticing his reflection in one of the wall consoles they passed on deck thirty, Vice Admiral Max Duncan ignored his surprise as he quickly reminded himself that their mobile holographic projector was working and was disguising himself as his much younger self. His beard was gone, the countless lines and grey hairs were replaced by his once smooth fresh skin and much thicker brown hair. His hair was no longer combed back but styled forward where he had a some sort of brushed forward long fringe that was slightly swept to the left. No longer did it look as if he was wearing the red flag officer’s uniform, instead his teal blue uniform from the late 2380 era was on show with the rank of full lieutenant. He felt stupid trying to mimic his younger self, all of these years of experienced had changed him. No longer was he a counsellor, he was a full blown member of the admiralty. This entire concept was madness but one he knew he had to complete.
That said he couldn’t hold back the slight chuckle that had caught him off guard the moment the holographic projector updated the appearance of Tomaz. In this timeframe, Tomaz hadn’t joined Starfleet, in fact he was still a teenager. Originally the camouflage had given him a civilian attire, realising this wouldn’t help them, Duncan had manually adjusted it and instead gave Tomaz an early promotion to a cadet freshman class. Similar to Duncan, Tomaz’s appearance made him look very different. His youthful appearance was almost shocking, his breathing apparatus had re-appeared and Tomaz’ hair looked extremely fluffy. That was the best way that Duncan could describe it when he first saw his former first officer shortly after they had stepped through the temporal barrier.
“I take it Starfleet Academy was the turning point for change of coiffure?” Duncan had teased him.
Rolling his eyes, Tomaz’s embarrassment could not be shielded by the holographic camouflage. “Let’s just say my academy day’s changed me a lot.”
“Thank goodness for that.” Duncan had retorted before they carried on their journey down the corridor of deck thirty.
They had stopped several times to make the adjustments they needed to do to the ship’s systems. Along with installing devices that would help them monitor the systems from this timeframe they ejected a number of the gel-packs with the chroniton-serum. As they finished working on a batch of packs, Tomaz looked at one of the nearby consoles.
“This station shows that the ship is docked.” Tomaz announced. “When are we again?”
“Sometime in mid-twenty-three-eight-nine.” Duncan replied as he injected the last gel-pack.
Tapping at the console, Tomaz studied it further. “Hmm, that’s interesting. This looks like the ship still has its old NX classification.”
“San Francisco.” Duncan muttered.
“Pardon, Max?” Tomaz asked as he looked around at his superior. Though the two were different in rank from their timeframe, the two of them had become close strong friends when Duncan had been captain and Tomaz was his loyal first officer. The two had lost any need to remain professional when they were in the company of just each other, so their ranks dropped.
Picking up the panel that was on the floor and clicking it back into place to cover up the gel-packs, Duncan looked up at his friend. “If we’re docked and this is mid-twenty-three-eighty-nine then Odyssey is at the San Francisco Fleet Yards receiving further upgrades and a refit as it is losing its prototype status.”
“Anything exciting happen then?” Tomaz asked as he turned to face Duncan fully now.
Shaking his head, Duncan replied with a simple “no”.
“Weren’t you still the ship’s counsellor then?” Tomaz checked.
Fixing his gear away, Duncan confirmed Tomaz’s guess. “And chief diplomatic officer. I was in my third year and still frightened at how large the vessel was.”
Tomaz chuckled. “Really?”
“Yeah, I never wanted to join the ship in the first place.” Duncan added as they started to walk down the empty corridor.
“Why did you join then?”
“It was James’ fault.” Duncan answered as they moved further to their next target. “I was happily trying to find my way on the Charlton, a Galaxy-class vessel until James literally head-hunted me to join him.”
“How come he wanted you with him?” Tomaz asked as he knelt to the deck plating and pulled off the next panel and started to make the modifications.
“Several reasons really,” Duncan answered as he joined Tomaz on the floor. “The Triton, the ship he had commanded beforehand and the previous ship named Odyssey had just completed some classified mission which had resulted in them finding some old, dis-used Iconian technology that had somehow moved the entire Kovar system from the Beta Quadrant to the Alpha Quadrant. During the mission to return Kovar to its original location the Odyssey was destroyed. Thankfully the crew had been saved by the Triton. Anyway, Starfleet wanted James to take command of this Odyssey and as you know he planned to integrate those from the old Odyssey and the Triton to this ship.”
“So what, you were the independent voice of reason to help with that?” Tomaz checked as he injected his first gel-pack.
Nodding, Duncan loaded his hypospray and answered Tomaz’s question. “Something like that, yeah. Bringing together crews from a Luna-class ship and a Sovereign-class that had known each other for a long time was one hell of a crazy concept of his. I had to do a lot of work in breaking down old routines and habits that they had got used to.”
The two men continued with their work when they both heard a recognisable voice coming down the corridor. Quickly, they finished their work, closed the panel and pretended to be studying a nearby wall monitor as the voice got closer.
“So as you can see admiral, once we’ve finished the last of the refits we can-” Tremt Hunsen paused himself as he looked a bit surprised to see Duncan and Tomaz there. “Lieutenant Duncan, what, what are you doing here?”
Turning to see the younger version of Tremt Hunsen, both men smiled but it was Duncan’s expression that changed the quickest when he saw who Hunsen was with.
“Dad?” He mumbled with surprise.
“Max?” Fleet Admiral Luke Duncan said as he looked at his son, up and down. “What are you doing here? I thought you were on the surface visiting old academy friends?”
Stumbling to say anything at seeing his father, Duncan was speechless. He hadn’t seen his father for a long time and seeing him stood there before him was something he had not prepared for. This was the man who had commanded the previous two ships named Odyssey, commanded Deep Space Nineteen and had risen through the ranks to command the Fourth Fleet. Now he had moved onto other senior positions within Starfleet Command. He was close to retirement and was looking forward to finding a quiet corner on a familiar Federation colony in the Beta Quadrant.
Realising that Duncan had almost frozen, Tomaz spoke up. “Sir, the lieutenant promised me a tour of the Odyssey.”
Looking at the Barzan man up and down, Fleet Admiral Duncan appeared suspicious to what was taking place. “Cadet?” He asked to find out who the man was.
“Cadet Tomaz, sir.” Tomaz replied and then realised he needed to pretend to be a nineteen year old version of himself, so he stood to attention. “I’ve just applied to join the academy and one of my instructors is a former colleague of Counsellor Duncan’s from his time on the Charlton.”
Looking to his son, the admiral extended his hand towards Tomaz as he spoke. “Max, you look like you’ve seen a pair of ghosts, are you okay son?”
Blinking a few times, Duncan gulped once and then nodded to his father. “I’m fine, thank you sir. It’s just good to see you.”
Still confused, the admiral frowned at that comment. “Max, I only saw you yesterday.” He looked to Hunsen and then back to his son. “Seriously Max, are you sure you’re okay?”
“I am,” Duncan then shook his head and re-focussed on his work. “I am. sorry. It’s been a long morning for me, but yes this is Cadet Tomaz. His lead instructor was someone I knew from the Charlton, who I owed a favour to and the cadet is one of the few Barzans to consider entering Starfleet this year. They thought a tour of the Odyssey may encourage him to continue with his application. Seeing how diverse our crew is and how well it works.”
“Well we’re definitely a diverse crew.” Hunsen confirmed, he looked at both Tomaz and Duncan with suspicion. “I was just giving the admiral a tour.”
“For old time’s sake.” Fleet Admiral Duncan said with a smile. He looked at Tomaz. “Cadet, I hope your tour encourages you to remain with the idea of joining Starfleet.”
“Thank you sir.” Tomaz said with an appreciative smile.
“Max,” The admiral said gaining the attention of his son, “Will we see you tonight for dinner?”
He wanted to say yes, but Duncan knew that would not be possible. “I’ve got a few more meetings but once I’m done, I’ll be in touch.”
“Excellent.” The admiral said with a smile. He turned to the Betazoid chief engineer beside him. “Tremt, shall we continue with the tour?”
Eyeing up Duncan, the Betazoid chief engineer was definitely trying to read his companion and then he stopped as he looked at the admiral. “Yes sir, but would you mind going ahead without me for a moment. I just need to share something with Counsellor Duncan and Cadet Tomaz.”
Noticing something strange was going on, the admiral nodded his head and stepped away with his Vulcan yeoman following him around the corner.
Hunsen squinted his eyes at Duncan and Tomaz then spoke. “I don’t need to read either of your minds to see you’re not who you are. So if you’re infiltrating this vessel in an attempt to do something, I won’t let you harm the admiral that’s for sure.”
Realising that their cover was blown, Duncan sighed heavily. He tapped his camouflage projector and switched it off to show the real him in his future uniform. Tomaz followed thereafter. Hunsen stepped back at the big revelation before him and looked surprised.
“So you’re not Counsellor Duncan?” The chief engineer said and then looked deeply. “You are but you’re not from this time, are you?”
“You can sense all of that?” Tomaz quizzed.
Hunsen looked at the Barzan before replying. “I can hear the thoughts you both are trying to suppress and I can also sense the feelings of trying to hold things back.”
“Tremt, this is going to sound strange but what I’m about to share with you is the truth, but you can’t share it with my father and we need your help.” Duncan said honestly.
Hunsen nodded and listened as Duncan and Tomaz quickly told him everything. After their brief speech, he looked at them both. Again squinting his eyes as he studied them closely. “I believe you.” He finally said.
“It’s that easy?” Tomaz questioned.
“I’ve gotten to know the counsellor well over the past couple of years, I can sense when he is lying or hiding something.” Hunsen said. “So what else can I do to help?”
Appreciating the offer of help, Duncan gave Hunsen the serum and told him about the temporal prime directive and their plan to free the ship. Hunsen agreed to keep everything from the admiral and to do his bit.
“I suppose you can’t tell me what my life is like in the future you come from?” Hunsen then asked.
Trying to conceal that aspect, Duncan and Tomaz both shook their heads in a solemnly nature.
Taking back by their silent gesture, Hunsen then realised what that meant. “I’m not alive, am I?”
“We can’t answer that.” Duncan said softly.
Smirking at the thought that they knew his fate, Hunsen shrugged his shoulders. “It’s okay, I won’t ask anymore. Just make sure however I die, I do it with style.”
Eventually both men left Hunsen and moved further down the corridor. Before they reached the next temporal barrier, Duncan took one more glance at this timeframe. Wondering if their plan did mean that Hunsen lived, he just hoped that once this was all over that somehow McCallister is able to rescue his former friend from the awful death he endured trying to save the Odyssey. That said, he kicked himself for not trusting his father with this mission and not enlisting him with helping them. It had been over twenty-two years since his father died. He knew that was a fixed point in time, but could he really walk away from this opportunity to say something or even just to spend longer with him?
Seeing the turmoil in his friend’s eyes, Tomaz caught Duncan’s attention and told him that they had to move on.
Solemnly, Duncan agreed as he turned his back towards the fate of two people who meant something to him. He just hoped that at least one of them would survive this.