Smirking almost instantly at hearing those two words, Captain McCallister nodded the moment he put his head through the doorway after it opened. “Absolutely.” He said with confirmation. “You did promise me a bottle or two.”
Pulling a bottle out of the sweet alcohol and replicating two glasses to drink from, Captain Cambil began to pour the drink as her guest entered her guest quarters. Handing him the drink, she smiled as she raised her glass to tap it gently against his. “May the Prophets Bless Our Journey.”
“And congratulations to that fourth pip!” McCallister added.
Chuckling somewhat, Cambil suggested for them to go sit down on one of the four sofas that took up most of the living area space. “Thanks, it was a little bit of a surprise but a nice one.”
“It’s well deserved,” McCallister replied as he took a sip from the glass and sat down almost immediately. He sighed as he looked at his former first officer after she sat down. “Where are we at Bexa?”
“For me, it’s shortly after I left this ship back in the Delta Quadrant, for you, well I suppose it’s after a certain directive you had to follow,” Cambil answered honestly by raising her eyebrows a bit. She pulled up her legs to the sofa. “I had my Omega Directive training a few weeks ago and I was briefed on the mission you undertook during the Tkon Crisis. I didn’t realise how much pressure you were under.”
Nodding, McCallister felt guilty for how things had been left between him and her originally, but the recent paradox allowed for him to discuss things with her past self. “Are we good?”
“I can’t blame you for following an order that has been Federation practice for over a century and a half, especially when it involves one of the most destructive forces that had appeared almost everywhere,” Cambil said. “I owe you an apology too, for being so hasty with what I said and how I was. I do hate myself for it.”
“No, don’t feel that way, please Bexa. Your reaction was totally normal under the circumstances. The Omega Directive doesn’t give room for anyone to be open and it doesn’t take into account the loyalty that a starship captain hopes to have with their crew.” McCallister remarked, dismissing her apology straight away. “I wish things hadn’t ended the way they had. We made a great team.”
Pulling on her ear lobe where her earring was hanging from, Cambil winced. “To be honest James, we did make an excellent team but I was too comfortable here and I needed the space and time to see what else I can do. That entire mission was enough to push me on my way. I’m certain the Prophets were guiding me onto a new track. A new adventure and a new challenge elsewhere.”
“I thought you said you wouldn’t come back to Starfleet?” McCallister asked. “How did you end up back in the uniform?
Sighing at that, Cambil shrugged her shoulders. “That small print about us being recalled and reactivated for certain reasons is a hard one to get around. However, the job offer was a good one.”
“Building your own Starfleet Academy Campus from the grounds up must be an exciting project.” McCallister stated with a slight tone of envy.
“It is,” She said, nodding in affirmation. “I can still be around with the boys and Naprem is loving the idea of being a part of it too. The fact we can influence the next generation of Starfleet officers in our corner of the galaxy is compelling. Plus I was getting bored at home all day.”
He chuckled at that last comment before sipping on his spring wine again. “Wow, that’s great stuff.” McCallister commented.
“It’s the Twenty-Three-Seventy.” She remarked. “There’s a beautiful vineyard in the next village along from where we live that makes the finest Spring Wine.” Cambil took a sip from hers before raising her glass again. “To Karyn. Wherever she is, may she know we’re keeping a glass chilled ready for her homecoming.”
Appreciating the gesture, McCallister leant forward and tapped her glass and toasted to his wife. “Thanks, Bexa.”
“T’Rani spoke of her loss in such a…” Cambil paused to consider her description carefully. “T’Rani way.”
“Sounds about right.” He chuckled before sighing. “T’Rani is right though, there’s no logic in not accepting that she’s gone-”
“But is she?” Cambil countered back quickly. “I’m not a time-travelling expert, but with the number of chronitons, tachyons and god knows what else was interfering with the region at the time, how can you be certain she’s not appeared on the other side of those rifts somewhere else?”
“I can only hope.” McCallister answered back softly. He swallowed his emotions back down. He didn’t want to get too invested in this topic of their conversation. Only recently was he starting to get used to coming to terms with what had happened.
“I pray for her every day to the Prophets,” Cambil shared openly. “I’ve asked them to guide her back to you. Keep the faith James, she’ll return.”
“I can only hope.” He repeated.
For a moment there was a brief lull between their chat. “So I need to ask, when did Max and Tobias become a thing?”
Stifling back a chuckle, McCallister answered after finishing another sip of his wine. “Shortly after you left. I’ve got a feeling the two of them were together a lot sooner than we realised.”
“Damn,” Cambil muttered. “And T’Rani and Samris?”
“Again, I think around the same time,” McCallister confirmed. “It wasn’t completely public knowledge until we dealt with the Quirennal.”
“I read your report about that,” Cambil said. “It sounded like hell.”
Rubbing the side of his forehead, McCallister relaxed a bit as he went on to describe to Cambil what happened on the alien ark and how they had to bide their time with Captain Jyster’s advanced hologram that had imprisoned them all. “For the first time since I took command of the Odyssey, I genuinely thought I was losing my crew with every day that passed.”
“Those are extreme circumstances, James,” Cambil responded. “I mean there’s no training that Starfleet can offer on how to deal with a deranged ancient hologram that commands a formidable vessel that has kidnapped a majority of your crew and ran away within a blink of an eye. Then to have you all care for their young people that weren’t there, that is some next-level stuff.” She took in a breath. “Is the crew getting through the trauma now? I noticed the manifest showed a new chief counsellor on board.”
“The crew is getting there, slowly.” He explained. “Louwanna is great, it’s just a shame that Samris had to lose his new position.”
“Sounds like the right decision,” Cambil replied. “I mean you all went through a lot of trauma, Samris is a good counsellor but if he needed to deal with his own trauma and then lead the rest of the counselling department in helping everyone else…well that’s a lot to deal with.”
“He seems to have adjusted to the change well.” McCallister admitted.
“Max trained him up well, he’ll be back in the spot in no time,” Cambil commented. “Back to Max and Tobias, how come they’ve become fathers to these two youngsters you saved?”
“As I said, Jorgeh and Wylem were the only real youngsters that we rescued. Captain Jyster kept them alive compared to everyone else on their ship. Both of them were assigned to Max and Tobias. Jyster assumed that Max and Tobias were already an item and felt their experiences made them the right candidates to care for her children.” McCallister answered. “I’ve to say though it’s been a nice change for both Max and Tobias. They’ve done an awesome job in such a short time with them both.”
Smiling like a proud mother figure, Cambil took a sip from her glass. “Before the year is out they’ll be married.” She bet with a laugh.
Chuckling somewhat, McCallister didn’t say anything and looked elsewhere as he drank more of his wine.
Noticing the gesture and expression from him, Cambil sat up. “By the Prophets, you know something about them two!” She said jabbing a finger in his direction. “You know they’re going to get married from the alternate future you visited.”
“I’m not saying anything. Temporal Prime Directive and all that.” McCallister said, trying to hold back a smirk.
“James Preston McCallister, I have known you long enough when you cannot keep something to yourself. You look around and avoid eye contact or smirk.” Cambil said laughing a bit. “Your poker face is awful sometimes, James.”
“That’s what I make you think.” McCallister mumbled before he drank more.
Chuckling more, Cambil topped up McCallister’s drink more as they carried on chatting through the night.
Had things finally got back to some normality between them?
McCallister hoped so.
Clearing her voice, Cambil placed her glass down. “Did you know that Commander Banfield came to see me?”
Shaking his head, McCallister sat up straight as he wondered where his former first officer was going with this topic. “No, why?”
“She wants me to convince you to go ahead in preparing for what will happen.” Cambil admitted.
Looking at Cambil for a moment, McCallister didn’t know to be cross with her in goading him into a false sense of security in rebuilding their relationship or if his trust and faith in her were strong enough to take action on her words. “Go on.” He told her.
“You and I know both know that temporal paradox can be disrupted but when they are we’re not always prepared for what else could happen,” Cambil advised. “I think you need to prepare for what you know may happen as well as anything else that is thrown your way.”
“So are you telling me that I need to tell Max and Tobias to get hitched before the end of this year?” McCallister tested her.
Smirking that she got him to reveal that, Cambil replied. “Well if you interacted with someone at the wedding then, maybe, otherwise don’t say a thing.”
“I can’t play god with people’s lives, Bexa. You know that. I’m not one of the Prophets.” McCallister returned.
“Well of course not, but the configurations you made to the ship in the past time frames. I know for a fact that the chroniton serum you infused into certain bio-neural circuitry still exists as much as it is in my blood system and yours. Why not make the other changes and why not prepare those certain individuals whose future selves you encountered?” Cambil questioned.
“Because it goes against everything this uniform stands for,” McCallister said instantly and he stood up in his annoyance with her persistence. Turning his back to her he took in a breath, “I know also the impact it will have on others. I’m not prepared to sit there and allow my interference with their lives to have such a significant impact on their futures.”
Standing up and walking over to face her former commanding officer and friend, Cambil placed a hand on his left shoulder. “‘Others’ or just Alfie?” She guessed. “I’ve seen the latest dispatches on those who have been enrolled into the academy, I was surprised to see him on it so soon.”
“You and me both,” McCallister muttered. “I just don’t want him being pulled into a life filled with regrets.”
“You can’t be certain how his life will go, you only saw some of the threads of his future. Not the entire tapestry.” Cambil advised. “Preparing your kids for their future is part of being a parent.”
“That’s hard to swallow when I’ve spent an entire lifetime following the principles that make this uniform what it’s supposed to be,” McCallister remarked. “What type of example would I be setting for him if I reveal what could happen to him and then tell him to keep it a secret because of the mighty Temporal Prime Directive?”
“You’ll be making sure he is ready so when the day does finally arrive he will look at it and know you did your job as a Starfleet officer and as his father,” Cambil stated. “Don’t get me wrong James, I don’t like this either but you could end up causing more problems in the future. You’re going to have to show some trust in those you lead so that they understand you know they won’t use what you share to their advantage. If anything, you’ve been preparing for this type of thing since you first took command of the Odyssey and you went out of your way to build a strong community here, a close family and one that those who are a part of know they can depend on each other in any crisis.”
Smiling and appreciating her little speech, McCallister nodded. “I suppose you’re right, but it doesn’t make this any easier.”
“It won’t but for once will you listen to your former first officer and do as your told?” Cambil challenged him with another smirk. “You know I’m right.”
“I hate it when you’re right.” McCallister eventually shared.
“I know,” Cambil said with satisfaction. “More wine?”
“More wine!” McCallister insisted.
The door chime then went off as Cambil picked up her bottle of wine. Turning to look at the door after glancing an uncertain look at McCallister, she answered the call. “Come in.”
The door chime went off and walking in by surprise was Duncan and Banfield.
“Max, this is an unexpected visit,” Cambil said as she poured McCallister another glass. “Joining us for a late-night drink?” She asked, raising the bottle.
Duncan, looking confused about the scene before him, made him turn back to Banfield. “I thought you said you didn’t think she would agree to this?”
“I said she shared her reservations.” Banfield responded with.
Shaking his head, McCallister then worked out what was happening. “Does someone want to fill me in or should I share what I think is happening here?”
Appearing somewhat flustered, Duncan returned his attention to his superior. “I’m sorry sir, but I was planning to speak to Captain Cambil about a matter.”
“Let me guess, convincing me to begin prep work for this possible paradox happening in the future?” McCallister asked aloud. “You were hoping to get Bexa’s insights and support?”
Duncan just nodded.
“She’s already beaten you to it, Max.” McCallister shared before he looked to Banfield. “Commander, I will cooperate in the preparations but we do this slowly and carefully. I’m not planning to change anyone’s destiny.”
Banfield graceful bowed her head slightly. “That would be acceptable, sir.”
“Then where do we start?” McCallister asked them all.
Stepping forward, Cambil shared her idea. “James, I believe you need a new chief science officer and second officer?” She turned her focus on Banfield. “I think I’ve just found the perfect candidate for you.”
Now reacting with a surprised expression, Banfield took a step forward. “My posting to the Odyssey is temporary and was only for the investigation and follow-up prep work.”
“Why can’t it be a permanent thing?” Cambil challenged. “You’re fully qualified, commander plus the Odyssey is a fine setting to raise a family. The three of us are a shining example of that.” She indicated to herself, McCallister and Duncan. “Plus Captain McCallister is going to need someone who knows all things temporal to be around and overseeing the upgrades to the ship and the preparation of the crew for what may happen.”
“I’m starting to like Captain Cambil’s thinking.” Duncan said with a grin after he crossed his arms against his chest and looked upon Banfield. “You wanted us to take this seriously enough.”
Banfield then looked towards McCallister. “I’m not sure what to say.”
“Say you’ll join us.” McCallister replied. “As Bexa said, no one else is more qualified, however, tell me something, who put Alfie’s cadet enrolment forward so quickly?”
Remaining strong in where she stood, Banfield raised her chin slightly. “D-T-I did.”
“Let me guess, to force my hand in preparing him for what may happen and to ensure he follows the same rules as we all do?” McCallister probed.
“Something like that sir.” Banfield replied.
Shaking his head as he placed his glass of wine down, McCallister looked at Banfield. “That’s not the type of action I expect from my second officer and chief science officer, especially when I told you that my sons were not to be interfered with. Is that clear, commander?” McCallister explained.
“Crystal clear, sir, I’ve heard that a lot tonight.” Banfield said, shooting a glance at Duncan for a moment.
“Then we have ourselves a deal,” McCallister told her before he extended his hand to welcome her. “I suggest you inform Admiral Bennet about this and your superiors at the D-T-I.”
“Right away, sir. Will I be able to bring my family on board, soon, sir?” Banfield requested.
Nodding, McCallister gave his clearance on that matter. “Once they’re ready, yes.” He took a breath in one more time. “Dismissed, Commander Banfield.”
She dipped her head a bit before leaving the guest quarters.
Duncan turned to McCallister and Cambil, but before he said anything Cambil already shared his thoughts. “Before you say it, Max, can you truly trust her? The answer is, give her time and I mean that both literally and figuratively.”
“Will the rest of the crew though?” Duncan questioned.
“I don’t think we have a choice, Number One,” McCallister said. “Plus it will keep the top brass happy that we are taking this paradox seriously.”
The three officers stood in silence for a bit more. Cambil finally spoke up. “Max, join us for a drink.”
Taking a glance from the Bajoran captain, Duncan agreed to it. “What are we drinking to?”
“A new day.” Cambil said as she poured wine into the glasses.
“A new chapter for the Odyssey.” McCallister added.
Raising their glasses they clinked their glasses together before sipping on their beverages.