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Part of USS Odyssey: Volleyed and Thundered and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

Volleyed and Thundered – 19

USS Odyssey (NCC-80000), Divinum System, Deneb Sector, Alpha Quadrant
Stardate: 78194.4
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Everyone exited the ready room except Commander Duncan. McCallister noticed his first officer lingering back and turned to him once the last officer of the group had gone and the door was closed. 

“I know that look,” McCallister said as he moved around his desk and stood by his chair, his hand resting on top of it. “It’s the same one you learnt from Bexa all those years ago. So what’s on your mind, Max?”

“Permission to speak freely?” Duncan asked as he clasped his hands where he stood, a few feet away from the captain’s desk.

“Always, Max, you know that,” McCallister insisted.

“You know I respect you, James-” Duncan started, then hesitated as he rubbed his forehead with his left hand.

“There’s a ‘but’ there,” McCallister interjected. “Come on, Max, spit it out. Let me have it.”

“I wouldn’t be a good first officer if I didn’t give you my opinion,” Duncan stated.

Confused by his words, McCallister gestured for Duncan to carry on. 

Duncan sighed and put his hands on his hips before he replied. “Are you sure you’re making the right call about the Odyssey remaining behind while you lead the hunt for this specialist Dominion unit?” 

“One billion lives, Max,” McCallister replied. “You heard the admiral’s colourful language. How the hell can we let that many souls perish without any justice or preventing something similar from happening elsewhere?”

“I agree, we need to stop them, James, but you’re placing the ship at risk by being left behind without its captain and several key members of its senior staff,” Duncan stated. “Do the Triton and Bellerophon need to go so soon? The Themis could easily join Gul Jacet to help with the search, and our crews could work together over secured subspace channels to work on the antidote and its delivery system. With the three ships working together here at Divinium, we could easily secure the system faster than Tomaz shared earlier.”

“You’re right,” McCallister admitted, “but even if the Dominion do return to reclaim the system, letting them have it would be a worthwhile price to pay in stopping them from deploying any more metagenic weapons against countless others in the sector. The more ships we have in the search, the higher the chance of stopping them sooner.”

“At the risk of the Odyssey being caught by the Dominion if they return before we can restore the colony’s defence network?” Duncan questioned. 

“Well, I would hope you wouldn’t let them happen, Max,” McCallister chuckled a bit but noticed that his first officer and friend wasn’t joining him with his humour. “Max, this really has you bothered, doesn’t it?”

“It does,” Duncan acknowledged. “We’re in an active warzone, James and I’m not sure it’s wise for us to separate up the squadron, let alone the Odyssey’s senior staff like this.”

McCallister paused as he reflected on Duncan’s words. Then, a thought came to his mind, and he smiled again. “Deja vu.”

“Pardon me?” 

“Deja vu,” McCallister said as he walked around his desk and sat on the corner of it. He perched on the edge and clasped his hands together. “Though this time, the roles are reversed for me.”

Still perplexed by McCallister’s expression, Duncan turned to him. “Am I missing something here?”

McCallister nodded. “Seventeen years ago, I was in a hopeless situation on the Trinity, without the support expected, but a certain admiral gave me a chance and told me to ‘go enjoy the ride’ before they slapped four gold pips on my collar.”

Duncan rolled his eyes as he knew that phrase far too well. His father, Fleet Admiral Luke Duncan, was why McCallister became a captain early in his career and was known for his words of wisdom (though to Max, they all sounded outdated and too melodramatic to always help out in a real-life situation). “My father didn’t always get it right.”

“No, but even when the odds seemed against him, he didn’t give up,” McCallister said. He paused as he considered his words. “Max, you’re a fine first officer; I trust you immensely with the Odyssey.”

“Even better than, Bexa?” Duncan asked, tongue-in-cheek and a wry smile creeping across his face.

McCallister chose to ignore that question. Still, he reflected the grin. “In the space of three years, you’ve proven to me that you were the right person at the right time, and you continue to place this ship and crew first in your decision-making.”

“Isn’t that one of the many fine qualities expected of a great first officer?” Duncan checked.

“It is,” McCallister said. “And for a captain too.”

Duncan chuckled. “I hope this isn’t your retirement speech!”

“Not yet,” McCallister said. “However, when the time comes, I think it’s only right that you take over from me.”

“Well, we know in one alternative future timeline that happens,” Duncan said, still smiling. “Or will happen?” He corrected. Still unsure of the timeline shenanigans they had to cope with since last year’s Century Storm incident. 

“Either way,” McCallister said as he turned to his first officer. “Are you ready to Captain this ship?”

Duncan was slightly caught off-guard by that question. He hadn’t been the first officer for long, but he had gone through so much in those three years since he took over the mantle from Cambil.  That said, Duncan had spent the last fifteen years on this ship; he had risen through the ranks, undertaking almost every bit of training to prepare himself for one day taking on the centre chair. Perhaps he was? “Yes,” He answered bluntly.

“Assemble the crew,” McCallister told him as he got from the corner he was on.

“James, it’s late, and you didn’t reply to my concerns,” Duncan remarked.

“Your concerns are noted, commander; now assemble the crew on the bridge,” McCallister said as he returned to his chair behind his desk.

Now he was bewildered, Duncan didn’t know what McCallister was playing at, but he acknowledged his order and left the ready room to bring everyone together.


Moments later, the entire senior staff of the Odyssey was assembled on the bridge. McCallister stepped out of his office, and straight away, Master Chief Court called the deck to attention.

“Captain on the bridge,” Court yelled in a formal tone. 

Everyone reacted the same; they all stood up to attention as McCallister made his way across from his ready room, heading to the centre spot ahead of the main screen. “At ease,” He told them. Then, noticing Counsellor Horin struggling to sit down, he sympathised with her. Only the other day, Slyvex had ordered her to undertake limited duties. For someone career-focused like him, she hated being ‘useless’ (her words, not his). “Louwanna, how you been?” McCallister asked.

“Just fine, sir,” She sarcastically replied with a friendly smile and wink. Nevertheless, she looked incredibly uncomfortable in her seat beside the captain’s chair.

McCallister chuckled as he took his place before them all. He loved Horin’s wit. “I’ll make this brief, as I can see that every one of you is exhausted, like me.” He put both hands behind him before continuing. “Your orders are to carry on working on the planetary defence network. Some of you will join me on the other ships in the squadron while we move out and work with our Cardassian allies to hunt down the ships that killed so many innocent Federation lives.”  He paused in his speech as he locked a gaze with Duncan. “I know that may sound like I’m leaving the Odyssey in a precarious situation, but have a little faith, that you can do this.”

A few of the crew looked at each other; they knew the task he had just set them was a mammoth one to achieve without the rest of the squadron by their side. But nevertheless, they remained silent as they listened further to their superior.

“I’ve recently been reminded of a similar, difficult and dangerous situation I found myself in several years ago,” McCallister shared. “I never expected to find myself thrust into a situation that I never considered myself ready for, lives were at stake, and an entire ship became my responsibility.” The captain paused again as he took a small wooden box from his sleeve before carrying on with his speech. “And at that moment, someone saw the faith in me, saw the potential in me and gave me the chance that would eventually lead me to become captain of the Odyssey.” He stepped around from where he was towards the bridge’s centre now. “Now, before anyone starts speculating, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon, but being a fleet captain and squadron commander, I have certain extra benefits and privileges compared to my previous rank and title. One of them is giving someone the field promotion they deserve to recognise what they have done so far and what they will do.” He stopped just before Duncan. “And just like Captain Kirk had on the Enterprise-A, I get to have now. Therefore, Maxwell Jack Duncan-Court, I hereby promote you to the rank of Captain with all the privileges and responsibilities therein. Your performance on this ship over the past three years as its first officer has been exemplary. I expect more of the same, and I hope that with this new rank, it gives this ship and its crew the stability they fairly deserve while it and I perform our duties as flagship and commander of this squadron, respectively. Congratulations, Number One! Now go enjoy the ride!”

The entire bridge erupted into cheers and applause, led by Duncan’s husband (who was the loudest out of pure pride), as McCallister opened the wooden box, revealing the silver pip. He took it out and quickly pressed it against Duncan’s collar, next to the three others in a smart line. 

“Thank you, sir,” Duncan said in a low tone as he shook McCallister’s hand. He appreciated the sentiment harking back to his father’s advice to McCallister many years ago, however he still wasn’t sure. He had to say something. “But this wasn’t what I meant by what I raised earlier.”

McCallister nodded and replied in a hushed tone. “I know, but with that extra pip, you get to call the shots with more authority while I’m gone. So if it becomes too dangerous, you don’t need to wait for me to decide. Call it yourself.”

Duncan smirked as he realised what McCallister had given him. “So, who gets to tell me if I make a wrong choice?” The cheering and applause had calmed down, and everyone heard his question.

“Well, I suppose with myself, Slyvexs, Tomaz and Lukiz off the ship, that honour falls to our esteemed counsellor,” Banfield noted as she smirked down at Horin. She was standing behind the Betazoid officer, enjoying the unexpected promotion celebration.

Horin shook her head. “Absolutely not,” She waved her right index finger up in the air. “I’m on limited duty, and let’s be honest, no one wants two trained counsellors leading a ship.” A few of them chuckled before she rubbed her belly. “I can’t be puking my guts up while trying to call a red alert.” Horin paused, “No, there’s someone else who get’s the honour of keeping Max in his place.” She turned to look at the Lumerian officer standing by the mission ops consoles. “Craigen, you’re it.”

All eyes fell on him. He sighed a bit, but after a reassuring slap on the back by Tomaz (who was standing next to him), Flemen stepped forward. “It will be an honour, Captain Duncan.”

Duncan smirked; his former protege becoming his first-first officer seemed like a good omen. “Then assuming your station, Number One.”

McCallister and others chuckled before the fleet captain told everyone they needed to get their mission on the road. He wished Duncan all the best before he made his way towards the turbolift with Slyvexs, Tomaz, Banfield and Jen in tow.

“Are you sure you’ll get that chair back, sir?” Slyvexs asked as they stepped into the cart.

“Oh yes, I’m not giving up the Odyssey just yet,” McCallister replied.

“So, how comes we’re using the Triton and the others for this mission?” Slyvexs checked as the doors closed on them.

“As I said, doctor, being a fleet captain and squadron commander, I have certain extra benefits and privileges,” McCallister replied with a grin before he called for the lift to get underway.

Max Duncan took the centre chair, with Flemen taking his old one to his right. “Number One,” He said, glancing at Flemen. “We’ve got a system to rebuild, coordinate with all department heads, or those now deputising, by tomorrow afternoon; I want a plan of action on how we perform a miracle here.”

“Aye, captain,” Flemen said. “One miracle ordered.” 

Horin giggled to herself as she pushed herself up from her chair. “And on that note, gentlemen, I’m heading home to sleep.” As she rose and walked past behind their chairs, she continued speaking. “And as the ship’s counsellor, I recommend you both get your sleep as it’s pretty late; the captain and first officer need to be at their best!”

Captain Duncan couldn’t agree anymore.

Comments

  • First officer questions the captain leaving? Easy solution: make him a captain. If I’m Duncan, I’m not sure I’m all that happy with how this turned out later when I have a moment to retrospectively think on it, but in the moment, what a way to sweep the man off his feet. Now the question becomes whether they’ve got all the pieces in the right places to actually make their multi-sided mission a success, or if as Duncan rightly stated, they’re taking a risk splitting the command staff - because, pip or no pip, that is still exactly what happened. This post does a good job articulating this, even to the fact they’ve got to work their way down the roster to determine Flemen is now Number One.

    June 5, 2023
  • Unknown Author

    Your story captured me at the moment and took me on an enchanting journey. The way you crafted the characters and their emotions was truly remarkable. I was completely engrossed in the world you created, feeling a range of emotions along with the characters. Your storytelling abilities are exceptional, and I couldn't help but be captivated by every word. Your story will leave a lasting impression. Well done!

    June 6, 2023
  • I'm loving the way the very personal echoes of the Dominion War continue to be heard in the Odyssey's present. The debate between Duncan and McCallister seemed very reasonable, very considered. It snuck up on me that it was such a personal argument from Duncan and it emotionally resonated all the more when McCallister saw himself reflected in Duncan's fears. Their CO/XO relationship is #numberonegoals. The fact it all ended in Duncan's promotion almost brought me to tears.

    June 14, 2023