“Rakitinjio, hot with two sugars.” Banfield ordered the replicator. Sitting in her office, Odyssey’s new chief science officer and second officer focused on the holographic display before her as she twisted her body slightly to reach for the mug that had materialised behind her. Taking the warm mug in her right hand, she was engulfed by the aromas of the potent blend of coffee as she pressed her lips against it to begin sipping from it.
She was continuing to read the last report of the day, the one that came from the moving of the Entomology Lab while the final upgrade to Odyssey was completed: the new Temporal Observatory. Since the Odyssey left Starbase Bravo, just over three months ago, Banfield had been leading on the new systems needed to prepare Odyssey for the possible future alternative timeline that Captain McCallister had encountered at the start of the year. Now her project was coming to an end as the Temporal Observatory was built. Those working on it only believed they were building a secondary astrometrics lab. It would be down to her to complete the final parts that would make it what it needed to be.
The chime connected transparent aluminium doors, which connected her office to the large general science lab, went off. Swiping the holographic display offline, as she didn’t want anyone to see what she was working on due to its classified nature, she could see her right-hand woman standing in the doorway with a PADD or two in her hands. “Come in Abbej.” Banfield said, waving the Boslic woman in.
Abbej stepped over the threshold once the door separated in the middle. “Ma’am, I’ve just heard from stellar cartography, that their last updates to the region have been sent to Starfleet Cartography.”
Taking the PADD from her, Banfield looked down at the outline of the report. “Excellent, anything interesting?”
Shaking her head, Abbej gave a summary. “Seventeen particles of space dust per cubic metre. Forty-seven ultra-violet radiation spikes and three class one comets.”
Not appearing impressed with that, Banfield put the PADD down on her desk. “Oh, fascinating. Well certainly worthy of our attention.”
“At least we know the upgrades to the lateral sensor arrays have not affected resolution.” Abbey said, trying to sound optimistic.
“Indeed.” Banfield before drinking more of her rakitinjio. “What’s on the docket for the morning?”
“A meeting with the sub-department heads, starting at ten-hundred hours ma’am,” Abbej answered. “Nothing too exciting, just everyone feeding back how things are going. We’re also having everyone’s feedback about the cadets we have on board.”
Rubbing her cranial ridges, Banfield nodded to show she remembered the agenda. Odyssey had been selected to host several cadets as part of updates to Starfleet’s training programme. Due to the size of the vessel, Starfleet felt that it was large enough to accommodate over one hundred cadets, all of them at different stages in their careers and the person who was overseeing them as their Head of Training was her husband. Returning to a field commission of commander, Carter had agreed to the new position as it meant that he and Corella could be together. Within a month of the offer going through, they found out that their son and daughter, who were both attending Starfleet Academy, had been assigned too. They would be a whole family again. She couldn’t blame her superiors for making Captain McCallister’s offer of joining his crew any sweeter for her. It was one way, she knew, they were trying to make it up for her having to do so much.
“Sounds good, thank you Abbej,” Banfield remarked. “Can you inform each of our sub-department heads they will have no more than ten minutes to share each of their experiences so far.”
Taken back by that, the lieutenant spoke up. “Ma’am, everyone is expecting a bit more than that to discuss it. This is something that has come from the captain for each department head to review. Our department is one of the largest on the ship, surely-”
“Abbej, I’m writing the review not everyone else. They can submit further comments to me in writing. Is that clear?” Banfield asked after interrupting but she wasn’t checking, she was making her expectations now clear.
Nodding, the Boslic woman smiled half-heartedly before she left her superior’s company. As soon she was gone, Banfield looked up, still keeping her mug close in her hands. Watching Abbej walk across the general science lab, she knew she would go ahead and update the agenda with those timings. She liked Abbej, she was an excellent officer, and an extremely intelligent woman but her constant optimism could be frustrating.
Later on, Banfield returned home to her quarters to find her husband laying the dining room table out with plates and cutlery. Smiling at him as he did his task, she was pleased to be away from work. “Hey.” She said as she walked over to him.
“Good evening,” Westerham said to his wife as he greeted her with a smile and finished what he did before pulling her into a hug. “A glass of Saurian brandy?”
“A Klingon martini would sound better,” Banfield remarked into his chest. “How was your day?”
“A good kind of busy,” He answered. “Productive in fact.” Westerham moved over to the replicator of letting go of his wife to get her drink. After placing the order he looked over at her, “How comes it’s a sort of martini evening?”
Lightly pulling on her left earlobe, Banfield followed him and sat down on one of the sofas. Pulling her boots off as she spoke, “Just a long day reading reports after reports.”
“Are you missing your lectures?” He asked after taking her drink from the replicator and passing it in her direction.
Taking the drink, she smiled at the drink. It was one of her favourites. “If that’s your attempt at trying to get me to teach some of your cadets, you’ve got another thing coming!” She returned as he took a seat close beside her. “I said I would give this assignment a try.”
“And what’s not working out for you?” Westerham quizzed his wife, unsure what she wasn’t enjoying.
Rolling her eyes as she took another sip from her beverage. “It’s just…well…it’s going to sound stupid but just how efficient the science department runs on this ship.”
Westerham chuckled slightly before realising his wife was being serious. “Are you kidding me, Corella? You’re upset about how well everyone works?”
“Yes, it’s just too easy and…well boring.” She moaned slightly with a smirk. “Nothing goes wrong.”
“Add some variety, then.” He suggested.
“I am, tomorrow I’m making sub-department heads present their feedback on their cadets in a very short amount of time.” She answered.
“That’s harsh,” Westerham stated as he picked up his glass of Saurian brandy. “But I expect nothing less from you.”
“Obviously.” Banfield remarked before she asked her husband what was planned for dinner. She was starving and she didn’t know what was on the horizon for the Odyssey yet but she refused to make this a boring assignment.
She just hoped for some change and excitement soon.
“Talking about variety, there’s an event going on in the Auditorium tonight. A themed evening, I hear. Shall we go along, later on, to see what is happening?” Her husband suggested.
Shaking her head and stifling a yawn, Banfield declined the idea. “No, I want to get an early night this evening so I am fresh and ready for tomorrow’s meeting.”
Sitting across from Hunsen, Horin smiled at him as she dabbed her lips with her napkin before reaching for her glass of margarita. Picking it up and bringing it to her lips, the counsellor could smell the tequila instantly before she took a sip. It was not the first one of the evening, but by this point, she had lost count.
“I have no idea how you can drink that stuff!” Hunsen remarked after finishing a mouthful of his food and reaching for the beer beside his plate.
“Quite easily.” Horin sarcastically answered as she took another sip. Looking around the Auditorium, both Betazoids could sense everyone was enjoying themselves tonight. Tonight the Auditorium had one of its famous themed evenings, tonight it was a Barn Dance theme based on a particular genre of music from Earth called Country. Neither of them had heard of it before, but almost everyone had dressed up for it. Remi Goldman, the lounge manager, had gone all out (as he normally did with his themed evenings) to make it extra special. Decorations, music and entertainment were all geared towards the theme including the food and drink on offer. The entire Auditorium had been changed, using its holographic systems, to make it look like a barn. Haystacks were piled up and saloon push doors were by the entrances for people to enter via. When people had entered they had all been offered the chance to wear a cowboy hat (if they didn’t have one) or the chance to ride on what he called the ‘rodeo’. It was a hologram of a farm animal, a bull that people had to mount and stay on while it tried to flip them off. Those who were on it seemed to be enjoying themselves. Hanging around the room from podiums, to pillars and sides were many fairy lights that added to the extra feel that Goldman was aiming for. Even the tables and chairs were replaced by holographic trickery to look like proper furniture used from the Wild West era.
Tonight, Hunsen and Horin had decided to go to the Auditorium for dinner together. The two of them over the last few months had decided to see where their former relationship could go and was now on their tenth date. It was no secret they were dating either. They had shared the revelation with the captain privately after a senior staff meeting. It would appear now that a third of the Odyssey’s senior staff were now in serious relationships with each other and that didn’t count those who were already married or in a relationship with someone else outside the senior staff. Hunsen and Horin were sitting on the upper level of the Auditorium, having their private booth, after Hunsen had reserved it a couple of days ago. Not that they wanted to make a display of their date to everyone, but they certainly weren’t interested in having spectators. That had been one thing the captain had advised them and that was to use their discretion so they didn’t become a public source of gossip. He had been talking from experience himself, however, they understood his intentions were true to the type of leader he was.
*Did I say you look gorgeous in that dress?* Hunsen asked her telepathically.
Smirking at the compliment as she slowly placed her drink down, Horin replied to him. *More than once.* She sighed. *And did I mention that the open-collared shirt suits you?*
*More than once* He repeated as he swallowed a dash of his beer. *The hat looks good too*
*We are rocking the hats* Horin replied pointing to their cowboy hats.
The music changed and the two of them instantly looked over to see who was now performing on the main stage. Goldman had moved the stage to be in the centre of the room while a dance floor had been set up around it. Many people were enjoying the atmosphere, enjoying the dancing that was going on. However, when the music changed due to the tempo and what was being played, everyone stopped for a second. On the stage, sitting on a stall with a guitar in his hands and a spotlight on him was Theo McCallister. The captain’s youngest son (well the youngest out of the triplets) had been a regular to perform at Auditorium but after his mother’s apparent death he hadn’t played.
“Oh my,” Horin said as she placed her hand on her heart and she took in what was happening. She had been counselling the McCallister boys for some time now. Theo had lost his appetite for playing again, but here he was. “I never thought I’d see him play again.” She smiled at Hunsen who just copied the gesture back.
“Do you want to go down there?” Hunsen indicated to the dance floor.
She nodded frantically which got an instant reaction from him to take her hand and lead her down the stairs.
Wearing a black and white chequered shirt, a black cowboy hat, black denim jeans and black cowboy boots, Theo looked quite calm and in control as he started to play his guitar. He leant forward and spoke into the microphone. “This song is one that both of my parents danced to at their wedding. It’s been a long time since I’ve been up here so, I want to dedicate it to them both.”
Horin instantly saw Theo’s two other brothers and father standing to one side all looking on at Theo. Captain McCallister had a huge proud smile on his face. The captain was also standing with Master Chief Court and his two sons, Jorgeh and Wylem. Theo started to sing the ballad and the entire place went silent. Horin listened carefully to the lyrics and as she did she realised why it was one that Captain McCallister and Commander Reyas picked it. The song spoke about a relationship that went through different odds, against opposition from those who didn’t think they would make it but the couple remained strong together. It was beautiful and without realising it, she felt Hunsen place his arms around her waist and slowly they swayed to the music. Almost halfway in and people started to couple up as they slow danced to the song. Turning around and tugging on his hands, Horin took him with her to the dance floor and they began dancing in each other’s arms. Eventually, the song came to an end and everyone stopped and gave out a huge cheer and applauded the younger McCallister.
“Thank you,” Theo said down the mic again. “Now, let’s get this parted started again!” He indicated to the band around him and straight away the tempo changed to the opposite scale and the upbeat tones from before began.
Horin looked up at Hunsen as they carried on dancing. *Imazdi* she mentally whispered to him.
Smiling at hearing her say that, Hunsen looked back at her he closed the gap between them and kissed her. “Imzadi.” He whispered after they broke their embrace for a moment before returning to it.
From across the room, looking at the rodeo ride before him, Lieutenant Commanders Tomaz and Flemen were glaring at what they had to do as others rode it.
“Don’t tell me you two are scared of a hologram?” asked Lieutenant Tierra as she approached from behind both of them.
Instantly both men turned around and looked at the Deltan as she walked over with Samris and T’Rani. Scoffing at her remark, they quickly rejected her question.
“Absolutely not!” Flemen said first.
“What’s to be scared of?” Tomaz rhetorically asked.
Samris chortled at them as he placed an arm around T’Rani. “So why don’t you show us how it’s done?”
Flemen puffed out his chest as he turned to look at Samris. “Well maybe later. There’s a queue.”
“Yeah, we don’t want to be scorned for using our senior positions incorrectly.” Tomaz added.
At hearing those excuses both Tierra and Samris chuckled at that while T’Rani appeared unphased by their words. The Vulcan pilot seemed to be out of place, even though she wore similar outfits, like everyone else. Her Vulcan mannerism made her stand out from the rest of the crowd.
“I do not see how riding a wild beast is seen as entertainment.” T’Rani finally shared. “I have ridden a sehlat before, but I did not do it for enjoyment.”
Shrugging her shoulders, Tierra answered for T’Rani. “It’s one of a million Earth customs that is dangerous but Humans enjoy doing it.”
“And what is the purpose of the activity?” T’Rani questioned.
Flemen spoke up, “It’s to see who can hold on for the longest without being flipped off.”
“And what is the reward?” T’Rani interrogated further.
“Bragging rights that you did it.” Tomaz answered.
“Come on, let’s make it interesting, whoever holds on the longest gets one duty shift covered by the others.” Flemen suggested.
“I’m in.” Tomaz replied as he took a swig from the bottle of beer he was drinking from.
“Me too.” Samris answered.
Tierra nodded. “Though I won’t go on first, I’m still waiting for Abbej to turn up.” She mentioned her wife.
“She not here yet?” Flemen wondered aloud.
“No, she said she was finishing off updating the agenda for tomorrow’s science staff meeting.” Tierra mentioned.
“Reviewing the cadets?” Samris checked.
Tierra nodded. “Yeah, I believe Commander Banfield has made last-minute changes which Abbej has had to update everyone with.”
“Ouch,” Tomaz said, “that’s harsh. Is it me or is our new second officer reminding anyone of a strict teacher from their childhood with how stern she is?”
They all agreed, except T’Rani. Everyone looked at her for her comment on the new science officer. Eventually, she realised what they were waiting for and she spoke. “Commander Banfield is a strong and experienced officer. She does set her standards high and is very confident to vocalise her concerns.”
“Jeez T’Rani, keep that up and you should have my job as chief diplomatic officer.” Flemen remarked. “That’s a very polite way of agreeing she’s blunt.”
“Indeed,” T’Rani said raising an eyebrow. “Now are we proceeding with this activity or not?”
The group all agreed as they went on to take on their next challenge. However, they stopped in their tracks when they saw Doctor Slyvex already on the ride and holding on to dear life to the reigns. She appeared to be enjoying it as she took off her cowboy hat and started to wave it frantically in the air.
Walking further up to the side of the rodeo, where a white picket fence had been set up to place a barrier between its participants, the group were astonished by how long the Denobulan chief medical officer was holding on and relishing it.
T’Rani saw her friends, Lenjir and Jen both leaning against the fence. Both men were in awe of the scene before them.
“Fascinating.” She said to them.
Lenjir just nodded, still staring at the Denobulan.
“That’s one word for it.” Jen said in surprise.
A crowd started to form around the edge of the rodeo as Slyvex continued to cry out with cheers as she held on tightly to the holographic bull as it moved around rapidly trying to push her off.
She wasn’t going anywhere.
On the bridge of the Odyssey, Commander Duncan sat in the centre chair as he oversaw the last few moments of gamma shift. He had agreed to take command of gamma shift to allow others to enjoy the entertainment that was taking place decks below him in the Auditorium. Reading a PADD with the latest roster for tomorrow, he was in deep thought and concentration and so did not take any notice when the turbolift doors opened allowing for a familiar figure to strut across the deck towards him. Still unaware of the visitor, Duncan didn’t have time to react when he found himself engulfed and restrained by a long piece of rope that was hooped and now around his chest. Looking up to see who was on the other end, he tried hard to suppress his smirk.
“Pick up your boots, cowboy!” Court said instantly as he pulled himself closer to his partner. “And before you object, I have direct orders from the captain and our sons to drag you down to the Auditorium.”
Chuckling at how Court had trapped him with the rope tugged around his shoulders and the captain’s chair, Duncan tried to wriggle out but found the rope got tighter. “I’m not sure I can attend while I’m in custody, sheriff! Plus gamma shift doesn’t end for another ten minutes or so.”
Speaking up from the tactical station, Lieutenant (JG) Jisaraa came to the commander’s aid. “Sir, I can have Master Chief Court arrested for incarcerating the first officer, however, I risk the run of undermining the captain’s apparent orders. Alternatively, you could leave early and let me finish off the shift?”
Court placed a cowboy hat on top of Duncan’s head. “I like the lieutenant’s latter idea.” He added.
Pushing the hat up a bit with his right index finger, Duncan looked over to the Orion woman. “Are you sure, Jisaraa?”
“Absolutely, but if the captain didn’t order him then I’m happy to serve as a witness in Master Chief Court’s court-martial for his actions against a senior officer,” Jisarra said with a smile. Before Duncan had a chance to react, her console went off and she looked down at it. “Erm, sir, we may need to hold that idea. There’s an incoming call coming in from Starbase Bravo. Alpha priority. It’s Rear Admiral Marshall-Bennet. He wants to speak with you and the captain.”
The gentle hum of activity on the bridge went silent at hearing the news that the director of Fourth Fleet Operations was calling in to speak to the captain about an important matter. Duncan gestured for Court to get him out of the tied up rope.
“Tell the admiral, that the captain and I will be with him shortly,” Duncan commanded as he got up and called for the captain to join him in the ready room. “And then take over here on the bridge.” He looked at his partner. “Make sure you save the final dance for me. I’ll be there shortly once we’re done with the admiral.”
“So much for a fun evening,” Court grumbled before he made his way off the bridge.
The mood on the ship would shortly change as new orders were finally issued to them.
Odyssey was heading back into the action, without knowing what that action would entail.