“Welcome aboard the U-S-S Odyssey,” McCallister said to his guests as they stepped off the transporter platform and approached him. “I’m Captain James Preston McCallister and you must be Commander Corella Banfield.”
Standing firmly straight up, Banfield gazed at McCallister and instantly felt he reminded her of many other human starship captains she had encountered in her long career. She had read McCallister’s file. It was somewhat impressive. Commanding the Odyssey for as long as he had was a surprise and she could only summarise that McCallister had proven himself to Starfleet on more than one occasion or someone else by now would have succeeded him and he may have been assigned elsewhere. That said, what she was more bothered about was the fact the captain had never been on the radar for the Department of Temporal Investigations. Not once had he been involved in some sort of temporal disturbance which she felt boded well for their professional relationship going in the direction she intended it to go. However, she knew that the man that stood next to McCallister was someone who had run in with the DTI.
“I am sir,” Banfield eventually answered before following it up with the formal request as expected of her, “permission to come aboard?”
McCallister, who had remained pretty cool (almost as cool as a Vulcan playing poker), answered her. “Permission granted.” He extended his hand towards hers and they both shook before he started formal introductions to those with him. First he turned to the man to his right that Banfield was eager to speak to. “This is my first officer, Commander Max Duncan.”
Banfield bowed her head towards him, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, commander.” She said in a strong tone before offering her hand towards him.
Obviously weary of DTI agents, Duncan shook her hand briskly. “Likewise, commander or is it agent?” He questioned. “I’ve never known Starfleet officers to be in the DTI. Doesn’t that break the rules that the department has to be separate from Starfleet? Almost like the Tal Shiar was meant to be separate from the Romulan Star Navy?”
Scoffing at him, Banfield kept her composure and bit her lip at first. “I was a former field agent of DTI but I was trained as a Starfleet officer first. DTI recruited me after I experienced my own temporal incursion, like you commander.” She replied.
McCallister looked at his first officer, sensing the tension and quickly attempted to resolve it amicably. “Number One, you never told me you could have joined DTI?”
“I was too young at the time, sir.” Duncan remarked, staring at their guest a bit longer before turning to his commanding officer. “Plus there are rules at the DTI to prevent Starfleet from interfering with the department’s work.”
“Yes there are rules, but if experience has taught the department anything then more than likely most of the temporal incursions it must investigate involve a Starfleet crew and its ship.” Banfield replied with a wry smile and showing off her smugness. She wasn’t bothered by Duncan but was enjoying putting him in his place in not knowing everything. “As a result of that in recent years, some of those protocols have been adjusted to allow for the department to work closely with Starfleet during any emergency situations.”
“I didn’t realise we were in an emergency situation, commander?” Duncan asked firmly, emphasising that she wore a Starfleet uniform at that point in time. His disdain for her attitude was now apparent in his tone.
“Well commander,” Banfield answered back with just as quickly and copying the tone he took with her rank with his now, “our superiors think so and as such my credentials as a former successful field agent have been reactivated for this assignment.
Clearing his throat, McCallister moved the subject on and carried on with introductions. “Commander Banfield, let me introduce you to Master Chief Petty Officer Tobias Court, my command master chief & master chief of administration.”
Outstretching her hand towards him, Banfield locked eyes with the other human man in her presence. “I hear congratulations are in order for your recent promotion, master chief?”
Court appeared not to be pleased with Duncan as he had shot him a glance before he smirked at the woman and offered his hand back to her. “Thank you ma’am and welcome aboard the Odyssey. If I can do anything to assist you and your team,” He said, raising both eyebrows to the group of agents that were behind her (none of them in Starfleet uniforms but all wearing dark coloured clothing), “then I am here to assist.”
“I appreciate the gesture chief.” Banfield remained calm with Court and now ignored Duncan. She knew she had read that the two were involved romantically and both men had just adopted a pair of alien teenagers from the Delta Quadrant. She had wondered just how much of a mess she was walking into with the crew of the Odyssey. Turning her attention back to Captain McCallister she went on to introduce her team to them.
Once this was all done, McCallister suggested they head up to the observation lounge on deck one where the rest of the senior staff and others who were involved in the temporal incursion were waiting to meet Banfield and her team. Showing further gratitude for his efficiency in allowing her team to get started with their work, she gracefully accepted the captain’s offer to guide her to their next destination.
As they walked out of the transporter room, Banfield was impressed at the huge size of the corridor and the fact it was pretty busy. She had never stepped foot onto an Odyssey-class and she knew that this ship had been the prototype for this class of ship, as such she knew that it was one of the most sophisticated ships in the fleet. It was not like some of her previous assignments. Nodding to herself to show her approval, she carried on walking besides the captain. Noticing that Duncan, Court and her team had all fallen behind them as they made their way across towards the nearest turbolift, Banfield took a breath before breaking the silence with McCallister.
“I’m sorry to hear your personal loss, sir.” Banfield said in a low tone. “I met Commander Reyas sometime ago at a symposium on Risa. She was leading a group discussion around a fascinating archeology dig she was a part of that was investigating some Kurlan ruins.”
“Thank you, commander.” McCallister replied. He didn’t look at her or reveal anything in his expression, instead he just tapped the button for the turbolift doors to open and he immediately marched into it. Calling for it to head up to deck one, he remained focussed on looking elsewhere as everyone got in.
Moments later, McCallister led the group into the observation lounge where everyone was waiting for them.
Once the door was sealed behind the last person, McCallister made the introductions and handed the short briefing over to Commander Banfield.
“Thank you sir,” She said as she tried her best to avoid annoying him or his first officer any further. “Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for understanding the importance of these upcoming sessions. I must remind you all that everything you will go through, together with myself and my team, it must all remain confidential under the temporal prime directive.” She paused as she saw the captain’s sons sitting there. “I must remind you all that all Federation citizens, including those not in Starfleet, are bound by the law to follow the Department of Temporal Investigations rules during our investigations. Any breaches may become a criminal matter. Am I clear?”
Everyone in the room appeared to acknowledge her question before she carried on.
“I can appreciate for some of you, you are in the dark about what has happened or what may happen.” She continued as she began to walk down the side of the room which had the sloping windows along it. Looking at each of them she explained how the whole process would work. “My team and I will begin by collecting all of the facts, this includes debriefing those of you who are aware of what has happened. We will follow this with more interviews with those of you who are aware of what may happen then after discussing the matter further with my team and placing recommendations to the regional director for DTI then further follow ups may happen. Until that time, I will say it again, you are not to discuss this with one another or others. However I do not want anyone to think that once we have concluded our business here that this becomes an open secret for all to be aware of. In most cases where there has been a temporal disturbance at this level, a majority of the information is classified for eternity.” She stopped pacing and reached the other end of the table and placed her hands on her hips. “Does anyone have any questions?”
Everyone looked at each other and most of them either shrugged their shoulders, said no or shook their heads. “Very good. Once my team and I are settled in then the first set of interviews and debriefs will start later on this afternoon.” She looked at Captain McCallister, who had opted to stand at the other end of the table. His son, the one who wore the uniform of an acting ensign, was sitting in the chair at the head of the table. McCallister appeared to have his right hand resting on the back of the chair as he listened to Banfield. She caught his attention. “Captain, do you have anything else to add?”
“I will reserve the right to sit in on the debriefings for my sons.” He told her firmly.
Knowing the law and rules, she knew she couldn’t argue with that. Banfield just nodded in agreement. “We will need complete computer access to all logs and records from the incident.”
McCallister agreed to that and looked to his operations manager. “Lukiz, see to it.” He ordered the Trill commander.
“Already done, sir.” He answered, looking at the captain and then down at Banfield. “Your terminals in the quarters we’ve set up for you have been secured to allow you to do work from there. We’ve also had a set of offices and one of our conference rooms assigned to you. Deck eight, section forty-seven-alpha.”
“Thank you lieutenant commander.” Banfield responded with. She had become familiar with the senior staff of the Odyssey, so knew who was who even before the captain had introduced them. She looked at Lieutenant Commander Lenjir next. “I assume security for that section has been increased.”
“As per regulations, ma’am.” Lenjir confirmed. “Security teams are on guard nearby to stop anyone who is not authorised to enter the area.”
“Excellent.” Banfield said, sounding impressed. She looked over to Odyssey’s chief engineer. “I assume Commander Hunsen that with the ship in dry-dock repair teams won’t be required to walk through that area either?”
Hunsen turned his chair to face her and shook his head. “No, all maintenance and repairs for that section have either been completed or were not required.”
“Deck eight, section forty-seven-alpha, has been restricted to all crewmembers, except those now present in the room.” Duncan said, sounding a bit frustrated that she was checking up on his crew.
“I appreciate it, Commander Duncan, as this is a very sensitive matter that we need to get right.” Banfield shared before looking back to McCallister. “I believe, captain, that a former member of your crew,” She looked down at the PADD that she had placed on the table to check the name, “a one Cambil Bexa, will be collected to join us for this investigation?”
Nodding at that news, something that he had not shared with everyone else which resulted in most of the Odyssey crew looking at him with surprised expressions, McCallister updated her. “Yes, Bexa is my former first officer. She left Starfleet last year but Lieutenant Commander T’Rani will be taking a shuttle to rendezvous with her transport later on this evening so she is here sooner.”
“A member of my team will need to be present for that journey.” Banfield insisted.
T’Rani was about to protest but was shut down by the interruption from the captain. “As you wish.” He said before giving his pilot a stern look, telling her to be quiet.
Banfield noted the sharp look between the captain and his pilot, instead of saying anything she took one more glance over her notes. “I will need access to one of your medical labs to review medical records too, especially with Doctor Slyvexs.”
Slyvexs spoke up. “I’ve already isolated one of our medical labs for your personal use, commander.”
“Thank you, doctor.” Banfield looked one more time at her notes and then back to the room. “I believe that is it for now.”
“Good,” McCallister said as he told everyone to leave the room except for Counsellor Horin. Duncan had given McCallister an expression of concern but McCallister just waved it off after telling his sons to wait for him in their shared quarters.
Once the doors had closed it was just Horin, McCallister and Banfield left in the room. McCallister remained standing behind his chair while Horin had stayed in her seat. Banfield was at the other end of the table.
“Commander, I want to make it quite clear to you right now that my crew has experienced a lot recently.” McCallister said in a protective but strong tone. “Counsellor Horin joined us only a few weeks ago to assist with that.”
“Yes I am quite aware of that.” Banfield said, as she squinted her eyes wondering where the captain was going with this.
Horin spoke up then. “Both the captain and I agree that the stress and trauma the previous mission and this recent incident has had on the crew is huge. Though we are not asking you to be lenient with your work, we do ask that-”
“That I am more conscious about the mental welfare of your officers, including your sons,” Banfield finished off with. “Is that what this is?” She asked, holding her hands out.
Horin’s shoulders lowered as she sensed the tension now forming between Banfield and her captain. She looked to the captain, offering support in a non-verbal way.
“I think that’s quite fair to ask.” McCallister said, remaining composed in his strong posture. “I know you have to look at all avenues here, commander, but Starfleet regulations and Federation law prohibits any investigation, including those led by DTI, to cause high levels of mental stress on those involved. All approaches to avoid such stresses must be taken. I will ensure that happens here, or I will speak not only to my boss but the regional DTI director too. Am I clear, commander?”
“Crystal.” Banfield answered.
“Excellent.” McCallister looked at Horin and thanked her for her support before she got up and left the room.
It was just McCallister and Banfield left in the room.
“Is there something else, sir?” She questioned.
McCallister looked at her for a second without saying a word. “I consider myself a reasonable man, a fair commanding officer, someone who is always open to every possibility. In fact I would say I’m quite tolerable to most things that are thrown my way, but I want to say one more thing.” He paused as he took a breath, “that little stunt you pulled with me before we got in the turbolift to see how I’d react over the loss of my wife, don’t ever do that again. I will talk to you about my wife, her mission and what we know happened but don’t think you have the right to share your condolences with me. Are we clear, commander?”
Standing up straight and realising she had perhaps pushed a bit too far, Banfield nodded once. “We are sir, I am sorry if I’ve caused any offence.”
“Don’t do it with my sons.” He firmly advised before leaving the room soon after.
Taking a breath once the door had closed behind him, Banfield wondered if she truly wanted to be here or preferred to be back teaching her cadets.