“So, as you can see, this is the first M-class world we’ve discovered in this region of space since our return to the Delta Quadrant. Long-range sensors have located it within a binary star system inhabited by eleven planets. The other planets are a mixture of gas giants and uninhabitable types.” Banfield informed everyone as part of the morning briefing for the senior staff.
Around the long table in the conference room, everyone was paying attention to the chief science officer as she presented their late-night discovery. The main wall console showed the different scans taken so far, while holographic images showing a star system model floated just above the centre of the table. While the half-Klingon woman illustrated what was ahead of them, everyone was either sipping on hot beverages or snacking on the pastries that had now made a regular appearance in the senior staff morning briefings. Though the meeting was important, everyone appeared relaxed and calm.
“As it’s the first one we’ve encountered for some time now, instead of just sending probes to take a closer look, I’d like to recommend we alter course and see it for ourselves,” Banfield suggested, looking at Captain McCallister. “The flora and animal life sign count is exceptionally high; it would be a waste if we didn’t explore it further.”
Looking at the smaller PADD in his hand, McCallister was reading some of the latest data that the long-range sensors had learned so far. “I agree; it’s worth a look,” He said with a nod. “These temperatures will make it rival Risa and in some places even Vulcan.”
“Congratulations, commander, you may have just found the Delta Quadrant’s answer to Risa,” Lenjir stated as he raised his mug in her direction.
Banfield smirked at the comment from the Tiburonian before looking back to the captain, “The science department is eager to get preparations underway, so we are ready to go by the time we enter orbit,” She added.
“Makes sense,” McCallister agreed with a nod before picking up his mug of tea. “Make sure everyone is clear on their assignments and if you need to pull others from other departments then ensure you liaise with their department heads.
“Any signs of any nearby civilisations?” Flemen asked, fiddling with his PADD.
Tomaz answered, “Nothing from what we can see; however, last night, long-range sensors did pick up a few Hirogen hunting parties heading in the opposite direction from us. Thankfully, they were on the edge of our scans. Apart from that, there are some warp trails nearby, but they are several weeks old and we can’t determine who they belong to.”
“So, still no one to make first contact with,” Flemen said, sounding disappointed.
“Either way, we could use the time to run a few battle drills, especially with a Hirogen theme,” Tomaz advised.
“I’d be happy to lead on that,” Lenjir offered. “My security and tactical teams are going stir crazy from the lack of variety in their duties at the moment,”
“They’re not the only ones,” Flemen agreed.
Sitting in the centre of the table, Jen looked up from his PADD. “The eleventh planet is Y class,” He said. “Demon class, with a great toxic atmosphere, sulfuric deserts with surface temperatures exceeding five hundred Kelvin.”
“Don’t forget the thermionic radiation discharges, but yes you are right Lieutenant Commander Jen. It is indeed Y class,” Banfield remarked as she tapped a button and the scans of the smaller planet appeared in front of them as part of the holographic model. “Do you have a point to make, commander?”
Ignoring Banfield’s tone with him, Jen noticed she was probably annoyed at him interjecting into her presentation. “Well, from these scans, it states there’s a seriously high amount of deuterium located there in underground caverns,” He looked at the captain, “Sir, we should send teams down to mine it. This could be a good place to stock-pile extra reserves and use the onboard refineries.”
Liking the idea, McCallister turned to his chief engineer, who appeared to be a bit distracted by something else. “Tremt, your thoughts?”
Hunsen snapped out of his glare and shifted his focus back to his captain, “Yeah, I mean, yes, sir. Lukiz’s idea is a great idea. We should do it.”
Jen smiled at the engineer’s support before he looked back at the captain for the final clearance. “Is that a go then, sir?”
“It is,” McCallister agreed. “I’ll leave you and Commander Hunsen to oversee that project while,” He paused as he looked over to the science officer, “Commander Banfield leads on our exploration of this new world.”
Banfield nodded in agreement before she switched the presentation off.
“Great, unless anyone has anything else to share this morning?” McCallister, everyone else.
Sitting next to him on his right, McCallister noticed that his first officer was nudged hard with an elbow from Master Chief Court. Duncan sat up straight and spoke, “Yes, sir, we’ve got something we want to share with everyone.”
McCallister looked at Commander Duncan; he had noticed that both he and Court had entered the meeting concealing their hands. Suppressing his smirk, he remained professional. “Do tell, Number One.”
Duncan pulled his left hand out from his lap under the table and showed the ring on his finger. “Tobias and I got engaged last night!”
The room erupted into cheers and congratulations for the couple. Everyone got up and either shook their hands or hugged them. The entire atmosphere in the room had turned into a more informal one as the excitement buzzed in the air.
“So come on, who asked who?” Slyvexs asked as she looked at the ring on Duncan’s hand. The doctor was eager to know all of the details.
“I asked Max,” Court said proudly as he placed an arm around Duncan’s hip before placing a kiss on his right cheek.
Duncan confirmed that answer with a nod. “He was properly romantic about it all. He had planned an entire evening by ourselves.”
“Where were the boys?” Horin asked, referring to Wylem and Jorgeh, as she joined Slyvexs by her side to look at the ring around Duncan’s finger.
“I had them;” McCallister stated, “I’ve never known so many teenagers to eat so much pizza!”
Surprised to hear that, Duncan looked at Court and chuckled. “Did you tell the captain?”
Nodding, Court revealed the truth. “He did, but it was only so he knew why I needed Jorgeh and Wylem out for the evening.”
Duncan shook his head with a smile, “Seriously, Tobias Court, you are more crafty than a certain Grand DaiMon we just dealt with.”
“Hey, where did you think I got the idea and ring from?” Court said with a wide smirk.
More laughter filled the room at hearing how Grand DaiMon Deliaros had been involved. The Ferengi businesswoman had a thing for Duncan when they first met her and on their last mission in the Beta Quadrant, her infatuation for him hadn’t changed, so it was surprising to hear that whatever she had said to Court had encouraged him enough to pop the question. Court went on to share that the ring itself was a gift from her, she hadn’t charged him a single slip of gold pressed latnium. Instead, all she asked for was a holographic recording of the ceremony. Hearing how sentimental she was, Duncan admitted he hadn’t expected to hear that about Grand DaiMon Deliaros. He then jokingly asked if the ring had a tracking device on it, of which Court assured him that was not the case nor did it have any other technology in it for her to use against him. Her gift was genuine.
“Well, guys, I have to say it’s great news to hear! Congratulations!” McCallister said.
“How did the boys take it?” Slyvexs wondered. “I take it that you’ve told them?”
“We did last night after they got home from the captain’s quarters,” Court answered. “They didn’t quite understand what it meant at first, as in Ryslanti customs, they don’t quite have an engagement period as we do, but they were excited for what it meant for us as a family. Wylem was also talking about taking both our surnames over breakfast this morning. Jorgeh seemed to agree with the idea too.”
“We tried to explain to them what a Human wedding looked like and then spent the rest of the night sharing with them how other civilisations got married,” Duncan shared. “They appeared to like some of the Klingon arrangements.” He looked at Banfield at that point.
Banfield chuckled at that point, “I’d be happy to share with them pictures from my wedding to see what happened when our guests attacked my husband and me at the end of the ceremony.”
“Let’s not give them any ideas, commander,” Duncan said, warning her off with a smirk. “That said, Jorgeh was more interested in Betazoid weddings.”
Horin laughed out loud. “He’s a typical teenager boy; of course, he would find a naked wedding interesting.” She looked over to Hunsen, who only smiled slightly. She knew that their news from yesterday was still plaguing his mind. For now, they had agreed to keep it private between them (and obviously Slyvexs too).
“There’s a lot to plan,” Duncan said before turning to the captain, “but after talking about it all night, we would like to get married here on the Odyssey with you doing the service, sir?”
“Of course, I’d be honoured,” McCallister said with a grin. “When are you thinking about doing it? Later on in the year, or next year?”
“In two weeks,” Both Court and Duncan said in unison.
“Two weeks?” McCallister repeated, sounding a bit surprised at first.
Duncan nodded, “We know it’s fast, but we just don’t want to waste any more time. We want to keep it simple.”
“A logical choice if you wish to enjoy the rest of your lives together,” T’Rani said. “That said, my understanding of Human courtship made me believe that no wedding is ever simple. As you said, there is a lot to organise.”
“Just be lucky they’re not Denobulan,” Slyvexs said, “You’d need someone else to marry with as well.”
“Indeed, I suppose you might be able to keep it simple as, unlike some Vulcans, you may find yourselves fortunate not in an arranged marriage from birth,” T’Rani stated. No one was sure if that was a comment from her about her own marriage to her late husband, but the Vulcan pilot didn’t elaborate any further.
“Before we get into an interesting discussion around different customs, let’s get back to the matter at hand here,” McCallister insisted as he tried to calm the chat. He looked at Duncan and Court, “Gentlemen, yes, that’s fine. I am sure we can pull off a simple but elegant affair to make its mark here on the Odyssey.”
“Thank you, sir,” Duncan replied.
“We appreciate it, captain,” Court added with a nod and a grin. “We both feel that Odyssey is our home and we want to get married in front of the family we’ve been a part of for so long.”
“Okay, then, people, we’ve got a lot of work to do in the coming days; let’s get to it. Dismissed.” McCallister ordered.
As everyone started to file out of the room, Banfield and Jen held back and looked at the captain once the room was empty.
Banfield spoke up first, “Sir, do I have to remind you-”
“No, you don’t,” McCallister interrupted her sentence. He changed his tone to a more serious one. “I do remember that one of the timeframes that Lukiz visited was before Tobias and Max got married.” He looked at the Trill ops manager. “You okay, Lukiz?”
Jen just nodded. “I’m happy for both Max and Tobias, sir, but I wasn’t expecting our first temporal incursion to be happening so soon.”
McCallister agreed with a silent nod.
“Do you want me to ensure we are ready for it?” Banfield asked quietly.
Looking between the two officers, he nodded. “Brief Tobias on what he needs to know and make sure the conduit is ready to be brought online.”
“One question I have, sir, what happens if it doesn’t happen?” Jen asked. “I know we’ve asked this before, but after making the changes, including us saving Tremt from death, how do we know that timeline exists and whether or not I’d appear from the past, or the future, to do what I had to do.”
Shrugging his shoulders, McCallister didn’t have an answer for Jen. “I suppose we just need to wait for that point in time and see what happens.”
“You may be right, Mister Jen,” Banfield said. “Your actions in preventing Commander Hunsen’s death may have created a different timeline; we’d soon see in two weeks.”
“Keep this to yourselves,” McCallister ordered before dismissing the two officers.
After they left, McCallister sat back in his chair and sighed heavily. He hoped the temporal incursion in Paulson Nebula would not soon rear its ugly head. Staring out of one of the large bay windows, he wondered if this would be an opportunity to get a message sent back into the past to save his wife. Could Karyn’s sacrifice be prevented? He didn’t know, and the headache of having to deal with the Department of Temporal Investigations again was one he wanted to avoid. That said, he was missing her incredibly. He wished she had been here to hear the news about Duncan and Court; however, he also knew she may not have survived what happened. On the other hand, her mother was sure that Karyn had met her destiny.
Whatever that meant.
Deciding he needed to get the day properly started, he picked up his PADDs and made his way out of the briefing room and onto the bridge.
There was still some buzz hanging around the bridge after news of the engagement was now being filtered across the ship at transwarp speeds. Duncan was sharing the news with some of the other officers, deciding to leave his first officer for a moment; McCallister took his chair in the centre of the room.
“T’Rani, alter our course to…” He paused as he wondered what they were calling this new planet.
“To New Risa?” T’Rani suggested aloud.
“Indeed.” McCallister agreed, trying to sound excited about what lay ahead of them.