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Part of USS Odyssey: Exhausted Avenue

Preparing For What May Happen

USS Odyssey (NCC-80000), Starbase Bravo, Mellstoxx system, Beta Quadrant
Stardate: 77032.2
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Enjoying a quiet evening in and not having to worry about ship’s business for a moment was a welcome change for Commander Max Duncan. No longer in his uniform, wearing just his casual clothes he wore around his new home that he shared with Tobias and their sons, the first officer was starting to relax. 

Tobias and he had moved into the Cambil’s old quarters recently and the extra space it provided was a welcome one. Getting used to having two teenagers around and being a family man had taken some getting used to, but he was enjoying it. A few pointers about how to deal with teenagers from his commanding officer as well as their chief medical officer had helped but Max couldn’t complain. Jorgeh and Wylem were slowly but confidently getting used to their new lives on the Odyssey

Max was sitting on one of the sofas in their living room space reading a book when he heard multiple footsteps coming down the stairs that separated the ground level of their quarters (although it was more like an apartment) to the first floor that had their bedrooms and the family bathroom. Looking over the top of the book he saw Jorgeh coming down with Alfie close behind. 

“Umm, dad, Alfie’s going now.” Jorgeh mentioned. 

Smiling at his commanding officer’s son, who was wearing his cadet uniform, “You sure you don’t want to stay for dinner tonight Alf?” Max offered as he put his book down on his lap.

“Thank you, sir but I best be getting home.” Alfie replied in a formal tone. 

Duncan smirked at how serious Alfie sounded. “Alfie, I’m not in uniform and when you’re in my home visiting your friend then the rank stays at the door.”

“Yes, sir.” Alfie replied with lack of emphasis on the word ‘sir’.

Jorgeh rolled his eyes as much as Max did. 

Stuttering after realising what he just did, Alfie apologised. “It’s hard to know when to be formal or informal.”

“Well in here,” Max said motioning with one hand about his home, “as I said the ranks stay at the door and you call me Max or Jorgeh’s dad. Is that okay with you?”  

 “That’s great, thanks…Max.” Alfie said with a smirk. He turned to Jorgeh, “I’ll see you in the morning?”

“Sure.” Jorgeh said with a simple nod as walked his friend out and said goodbye to him. 

Max looked at Jorgeh the moment the main door closed. “Alfie is very green in that uniform.”

Jorgeh appeared confused. “Green? Will he become an Orion when he goes off to the academy?”

Max burst out laughing at that question and soon realised how he had bewildered his son. “No,” He said shaking his head. “what I meant was he appeared very eager, very new to the role of being a cadet.”

“Oh, so being inexperienced?” Jorgeh checked.

“Yeah it’s an old human saying,” Max clarified before changing the subject, “you know you’re doing a good job being a friend with him.”

“Thanks,” Jorgeh replied with a smile, “it’s nice to be able to talk to someone who gets what I’ve gone through and vice versa. Plus Alfie is a pretty decent guy. He said he’ll help me with my studies.”

“That’s good.” Max stated, noticing that Jorgeh appeared to want to say something else. “What is it Jorgeh?”

Stepping closer to his father, Jorgeh eventually took the armchair opposite to him. “I’m not sure if I’m breaking his confidence, but Alfie mentioned to me that he keeps having these dreams or visions of events he isn’t aware of and he said one of his dreams he saw both him and me in Starfleet uniforms. What do you think it might mean? He said being part El-Aurian that he may have a sixth sense about changes in the space time continuum. Do I need to join Starfleet or something?”

Realising how much Jorgeh and Alfie had shared with one another, Max sat up straight and his counsellor training kicked in. “It’s true that Alfie’s El-Aurian heritage gives him a certain awareness of things around him, plus this entire paradox the ship went through and with him losing his mother will be playing a lot on his mind. His dreams or visions may just be a manifestation of his thoughts and feelings. The fact he is placing you in them may be a sign of his mind seeing you as a stable feature in his life at the moment. He just joined Starfleet so sometimes the mind mixes certain themes or features. It’s not to say he is having a premonition that you will join Starfleet or have to.”

“Could I join it if I wanted to?” Jorgeh asked after considering what Max had told him for a moment. 

“If you want, but you need to ensure your studies are up to date and there’s lots of assessments you need to pass.” Max answered. “It’s not an easy process.”

“Do you enjoy being a Starfleet officer?” Jorgeh quizzed. 

Nodding a few times, Max confirmed his love for his job. “Without a doubt. I’ve told you before that my birth parents and adoptive parents were all in Starfleet.”

“Even though they’ve died while serving in Starfleet, it’s never stopped you from thinking about leaving it yourself?” Jorgeh questioned. 

“Not at all.” Max answered. “Anyway, my adoptive mother, Nicola, still serves in Starfleet. She captains a ship currently in the Delta Quadrant.”

“Do you think she’ll ever leave it?” Jorgeh continued with his grilling about Max’s Starfleet life and his parents.

“She retired from the service a few years ago but after my dad died over a year ago, she agreed to return.” Max explained. “She felt she could do some good in the galaxy again, she told me after returning that she’ll keep going until she no longer feels she can do any good.”

“And after that?” Jorgeh wondered.

“Well she sold her house on the colony world that my dad and her built, so knowing her I expect she will move back to Earth. She may return to teaching at Starfleet Academy. Who knows, if you decide to join you may end up having your grandmother teaching you.” Max suggested.

“Is that a good thing?” Jorgeh checked. 

Shrugging his shoulders, Max chuckled. “I don’t think so, but others may think she will favouritise her grandson.”

“I’d be happy with that.” Jorgeh remarked. He clutched his stomach. “I’m starting to get hungry, when’s dinner?”

“I’ll put something on later once your other dad and brother get back from their spring ball session.” Max stated. “I’m going to treat you to a timeless Earth classic.”

“What is it?” Jorgeh asked, sounding a bit worried. 

“It’s your grandfather’s lasagne recipe, it’s something he used to serve when he had the entire senior staff over for his monthly dinner party.” Duncan stated, sounding quite enthusiastic about the meal. “I promise you, it is a taste sensation.”

Chuckling at how much his father was getting into it, Jorgeh shook his head. “Right well I’m going back upstairs to finish off some homework.” He got up and stopped and turned to Max. “I know I’ve said it tons before, but I am grateful that you guys rescued us from the Quirennal. I love being here with you guys.”

“The feeling’s mutual Jorgeh.” Max replied with a smile. 

Jorgeh got up and left Max to return to his own reading. 

Then the door chime went off and Max walked over to the door. Tapping the console on the side he opened it.

Standing before him with a serious expression across her face was Banfield. “Commander Duncan, we need to talk.” she said in a stern tone.

Realising his peaceful evening was not going to go the way he was expecting, Max sighed as he invited the lead investigator into his home.

Motioning for her to follow him into the private study that was split off from the main living area, Commander Duncan offered for his visitor to take a seat in one of the armchairs. The study was a lot smaller than his own office but it was a place for him and Tobias to do their work when they were home. “So what do I owe the pleasure of this evening call?” He asked as he took a seat in the chair besides the one Banfield now occupied. 

“I’ve just spoken with Captain Cambil-” Banfield started.

“Wait a second, Bexa is here? I didn’t think she was getting in until the early hours of tomorrow morning?” Duncan interrupted the DTI investigator. “And when was I going to find out she was promoted?”

“That’s not the issue right now, commander.” Banfield stated. “As I was saying, I’ve just spoken with Captain Cambil about the next phase of my investigation.”

“Let me guess, future me is in trouble for not following a procedure correctly?” Duncan countered back with.

“I cannot confirm or deny that.” Banfield said, starting to become agitated that she was being interrupted by the first officer so much. “The point I wish to make is that I have received authorisation from the head of the department to begin preparations for this paradox.”

“Preparations for a paradox we’ve already gone through?” Duncan asked for clarity.

“Indeed, mainly the future timeframes that Captain McCallister and Lieutenant Commander Jen experienced.” Banfield said. “However Captain Cambil believes that Captain McCallister may avoid undertaking the preparations.”

Smirking at that point, Duncan could understand why Cambil may say something like that. Not that McCallister would want to mess with the timeline, but Duncan had wondered that now McCallister knew certain things about the possible future he and Jen experienced; he may want to circumvent particular events. Could he blame him for considering it? Whatever he and Jen had seen must have made them think carefully now about they do or say. Temporal mechanics was such a headache. “And why are you telling me this now?”

“As I have received authorisation to begin discussing with you what may happen based on the reports and debriefings I have had with the captain and Lieutenant Commander Jen.” Banfield explained. “And from what they have said, you will play a crucial role in this paradox.”

“I had a feeling you were going to say that.” Duncan exhaled a huge sigh afterwards. 

“And not just you, but your son Jorgeh too.” Banfield stated. 

Hearing Jorgeh’s name being brought up, Duncan turned to her. “How?”

“We can get into more details later, but suffice to say to avoid any temporal paradoxes we must begin preparing him as much as you for what may happen.” Banfield said. “I see his relationship with the captain’s son, Alfie, is developing nicely.”

“They’re just kids who have gone through a lot of recent trauma. We can leave them all out of this.” Duncan said in a more assertive tone.

“They’re young men who are about to enter adulthood.” Banfield said. “And yes the traumas that Jorgeh, Wylem and the McCallister boys have endured is tragic but Alfie and Jorgeh are key players in all of this as much as you and certain others are.”

“We’re talking about a possible alternate future. One that may not happen or one that may partially happen. None of us can be sure.” Duncan stated back, more firmly. “No-one can be certain about the future.” 

“I know your past commander, I know you’ve gone through a temporal displacement yourself as a teenager.” Banfield stated. “So you know as much as I do, the importance of trying to ensure the timeline is preserved because if it is interrupted it can change not just the galaxy but people’s lives significantly too.”

“That temporal subspace node I had to live in did change my life. I lost seven years of my childhood.” Duncan spat back. “So if you’re trying to appeal to that side of me, then you’re barking up the wrong tree, commander. It’s one part of my history I do not enjoy re-telling to anyone.”

“All I’m saying is commander that you appreciate how quickly things can change when you’re displaced because of a temporal anomaly. I’d hate to see the same thing happen to your sons, especially Jorgeh.” Banfield remarked.

Instantly he turned to her. “Leave Jorgeh and Wylem out of this. As I said, they’re just kids who have gone through a lot.”

“Of which one of them has a certain future that he needs to prepare for.” Banfield said. She was repeating her argument again and started to sound like a broken old record with her points. “If you cannot do this, then I am sure others could be placed to help him.”

Frowning at her for trying to intimidate him with that remark, Duncan stood up in disgust. “I think you should leave my home now and think carefully about what you just threatened me with.” 

Standing up as well, Banfield faced Duncan straight on. “All I’m saying is that the Federation Displacement Agency may want to reevaluate their decision if DTI speaks to them about what we know.”

Shaking his head at her words, Duncan placed both hands on his hips. “And I’d fight it in the courts, whatever it takes to keep both Jorgeh and Wylem with me and Tobias.”

“I believe you.” Banfield said with a slight smirk. “Now I know how protective you are of them, then I will leave you be.” She started to walk away from him. 

“Commander Banfield, stop there.” Duncan ordered. She did as she was told and turned around to look at him. Closing the gap between them, Duncan approached her. “Did you just come into my home to get a rise out of me? To see how far I’d go for my sons or do you really want my help?”

“I’m a mother myself, commander, I know what it’s like to do whatever it takes to protect your own. I wanted to see how far you’ll go and just what it would take to get you on board for what may happen to this ship and its crew.” Banfield answered.

“Why?” Duncan questioned her. “Is this some cruel DTI game?”

“No.” Banfield answered. “In my line of work, I have met so many who have had to deal with the traumas created by movement from one time period to another. Some have gone on to leave normal lives while others have suffered tremendously from it.” Banfield remarked.

“Post temporal traumatic disorder.” Duncan said. “I was diagnosed with it as a teenager but got through it thanks to my parents and one particular counsellor. However you knew about that, don’t you?”

“Indeed,” Banfield answered flatly. “I went through it myself.”

“I wouldn’t have guessed.” Duncan replied with a hint of sympathy.

Snorting a bit, Banfield crossed her arms. “I was told I was lucky that I got to go back in time and lose nine years of my life. I couldn’t say anything. Instead I got to watch the Dominion War play out, even though I could have done something about it and changed the outcomes, prevented millions from dying but I couldn’t.”

“The Temporal Prime Directive.” Duncan said after realising what had stopped her from preventing one of the most bloodiest wars the Federation had endured in the latter part of the twenty-fourth century.

“The Temporal Prime Directive.” Banfield repeated. The one rule they couldn’t break in such a situation. “However this time it’s different and if we don’t prepare the Odyssey for what may happen then it would cause irreparable harm to the space time continuum.”

“How can you be so sure?” Duncan asked, still not convinced at her argument. 

“I’m not just a trained DTI agent, but I’m also a Starfleet science officer. My investigation has revealed many interesting outcomes on an astronomical scale.” Banfield replied. “If the Odyssey didn’t undergo that paradox in the Paulson Nebula and stop the chronokinetic surge in its infancy, then our best projections have shown that the surge would have hit out across that entire region of space and eventually spread across the galaxy. Temporal mayhem would have ensured.” She paused. “So when I say we need to prepare for what may happen then I mean it. Allowing such things to take place is reckless and if it does happen then it will stop any of us from having a future. Surely you can agree to help me prevent that from happening.”

Duncan took a deep breath in. “Very well, but don’t ever-”

“-threaten you with your sons? I get it Commander Duncan.” Banfield said with a serious tone. “As I said, I’m a mother myself and I’ve gone through a temporal anomaly too. I’m in the same shoes as you.”

“So does that make us temporal kindred spirits?” Duncan asked aloud, trying to lighten the atmosphere between them. He was slowly starting to come around to Banfield but he still didn’t entirely trust her.

“You could say that.” Banfield responded with a wry smile. “Now will you help me put this forward to the captain?”

“I want to speak to Captain Cambil first, then we’ll see after that.” Duncan replied.

“Then as they say at DTI, there’s no time like the present!” Banfield said as she turned her body and suggested, with a wave of her hand, they go to see Cambil straight away.

Watching from the top of the staircase, Jorgeh saw his father leave their quarters and he wondered just what he had overheard about him and Alfie. Feeling sick that Alfie’s dream may be true, he quickly ran to the family bathroom to empty his guts.