After speaking with the rest of the captains in the task force, Captain Bennet got himself a mug of tea before he moved onto his next item of business to deal with. The arrival of the Endeavour had completely changed everything but it also meant that they had extra people to help with the Hunters that had scattered across the system.
“Bridge to Captain Bennet.” spoke his first officer, Commander Rider, over the intercom.
“Go ahead Number One.” Bennet said as he sipped on his tea.
“Governor Thelis is hailing us again, he wants to know what the delay is in you beaming down to meet with him.” Rider announced.
“Inform the good governor, I’ll be with him soon.” Bennet replied. “Can you patch in Captain Rourke and Commander Duncan to my ready room.”
“On it sir.” Rider replied and closed the channel thereafter.
A moment later and the holographic systems in the ready room reactivated and this time the holographic images of Captain Rourke and Commander Duncan appeared in the chairs on the opposite side of Bennet’s desk. “Gentlemen, thank you for meeting with me. I do not think either of you have met before?”
Duncan was the first to answer and shook his head. “I’m afraid not sir, no.”
“Then Captain Matthew Rourke of the Endeavour please meet Commander Max Duncan, the current acting captain of the Odyssey.” Bennet said as he made the introductions. “Commander Duncan, this is Captain Rourke.”
“A pleasure sir.”
Rourke’s image looked worn and tired, gaze nothing if not grumpy as his projection examined Duncan’s. “Never met, no. Pleasure.” The projection raised an eyebrow. “‘Acting captain’?”
“Unfortunately Captain McCallister is recovering in the Odyssey’s sickbay and as the highest ranking officer on the Odyssey’s command staff, Commander Duncan is effectively in command until his captain returns to duty or anyone else more senior to him.” Bennet said. “Suffice to say, Commander Duncan has my support.”
“Thank you sir.” Duncan said.
“Gentlemen, I want to get straight down to the reason why I called you both.” Bennet said. “As both of your ships are now docked and undergoing extensive repairs, I need to call on your crews to engage in another matter that needs urgent attention.” Bennet went on to explain to Rourke what had happened with the Hunters of D’Ghor when the Odyssey encountered them and how the Hunters had spread themselves across the system. “Without pulling those crew who are needed to oversee the repairs of your ships, I want to use the shuttles and runabouts from both of your ships to remove these straddlers from the system.”
“Will Governor Thelis allow us to use his guard ships?” Duncan inquired.
Shaking his head, Bennet answered honestly. “I don’t think so. He’s made his position quite clear on the matter, it’s resulted in me sending a message to the Palais de la Concorde via Starfleet Headquarters to have the president intervene.” Bennet sat up. “The Discovery and Shackleton will get the Archanis Array assembled and operational, but I am worried that our efforts will be hampered by these Hunters. What are your thoughts on the idea Captain Rourke?”
Rourke gave a low harrumph. “I reckon they want us chasing our tails and you’re right to prioritise the Array, but no, we can’t turn our backs on them. I can provide three shuttles and a runabout, and teams for all of them. Afraid that’s all the small craft we got; we’re no Odyssey.”
The projection of Rourke scratched his beard before continuing. “But this would be a large-scale op, lots of individual and scattered ships needing to both scout and provide rapid response if someone finds something. It’ll be best handled with a central command point to oversee things, analyse findings, communicate and liaise. Both our ships look likely to be drydock-bound for a while, so I suggest we set up a mobile command station – use a runabout or the Odyssey’s tidy little Aquarius, maybe. Suffering some gaps in my chain of command, too, but I can send my Chief Tactical Officer to liaise from Endeavour’s side.”
“That sounds like a reasonable idea Captain.” Bennet looked at Duncan. “Commander, is that doable?”
Nodding in response, Duncan agreed to the plan. “With our own shortages on the Odyssey, we could do with the extra help.”
“Very well, so while Discovery and Shackleton deal with the array’s assembly, you’ll both deal with this matter. Captain Rourke, can I leave this in your hands?” Bennet asked.
“Of course, Captain. This is just running down rats; nothing we can’t handle.” Rourke looked at Duncan. “I expect you’ve got a lot on your hands, Commander Duncan, if your ship was hit that hard and your command staff took a beating. Assign one of your staff who can select and oversee teams for your, what, thirty shuttles, and Endeavour will have a threat assessment and search pattern drawn up for a sweep by the time the teams are ready to get started.” There was a somewhat peremptory tone to his voice; perhaps he assumed an acting captain in a blue uniform couldn’t match his tactical experience, perhaps he was tired, or perhaps Matt Rourke was just brusque – or rude.
“Thank you captain. I’ll work with the remaining senior staff and we will get things all sorted from our end. With Odyssey now in dry-dock and under repairs, my chief engineer can take command on my behalf. I can join your tactical officer on the Aquarius. When do you wish to proceed?” Duncan asked. He was more than happy to defer command of this mission to the more experienced captain, however there wouldn’t be much more for him to do while the Odyssey was being repaired. He was an experienced command level officer himself, plus with the captain and their first officer all still recovering from their injuries sustained during their recent skirmish, he couldn’t think of anyone else experienced from Odyssey to take lead.
“As soon as possible,” Rourke confirmed. “Get your Aquarius prepped and ready to go, and I’ll make sure Endeavour’s Combat Information Centre is ready with the threat assessment and for ongoing analysis as findings come in.”
“Gentlemen, this all seems to be in capable hands. I suggest we update one another with our progress every four hours, unless something else dramatic happens.” Bennet suggested. He was keen to inform Admiral Beckett that their efforts in removing the last of the Hunters was well under way.
“Agreed,” said Rourke. “Focus on the Array, Captain. We’ll keep the flies off your back.”
“Happy hunting gentlemen.” Bennet said and he finished their conversation there and then.