“You look as bad as I feel.” Commander Cambil started with a wry smile as she entered the private recovery room. “How are you though Karyn?”
Looking up from the bio-bed she was in, Commander Reyas smiled back at her friend and the ship’s first officer. “I’d be glad to see the last of these four walls.” The El-Aurian science officer answered. “And yourself?”
“Attempting a breakout.” The Bajoran woman replied as she looked over shoulder and stepped into the room so the doors behind her would close. She stepped across the room and took a seat in the black armchair next to Reyas’ bed. “However, I don’t think I’m going to get far with how much our warden likes to patrol!”
Wincing in some pain as she laughed at the comments referring to Doctor Slyvexs, Reyas sat up more. “Slyvexs means well by us all.”
“Indeed she does.” Cambil agreed and added a smile. “Who’d have thought that you, me and James would be taken out in one go?”
“A series of misfortunate events I’m afraid Bexa.” Reyas admitted.
The door to the room then opened and the Denobulan doctor walked in. “There you are.” She said referring to Cambil.
“Talk of the pah-wraith.” Cambil said in a low tone before smiling further at their chief medical officer. “Please state the nature of the medical emergency?”
Rolling her eyes at the Bajoran’s sarcastic tone, Slyvexs ignored the question. “Commander Duncan and the rest of the surviving senior staff would like to speak to you both about an urgent matter. I’m happy for them to see you two, only if you’re up for it though.”
Looking at each other, both women agreed to the request and Slyvexs returned to the outside corridor before returning in with the rest of the senior staff in tow. Crowding in, the six other officers stood around the edge of the room. Once the niceties were complete with them all sharing their happiness that both commanders were on their way to recover from their injuries, it was Cambil that broke the awkward moment that was coming.
“So what was it you needed to see us both about Max?” She inquired.
Max, who like everyone else had returned to his quarters for a quick break, change of clothes and some rest, answered the commander. “I’ve just finished speaking with Captain Marshall-Bennet of the U-S-S Discovery.”
“Bennet?” Reyas questioned. “As in Zack Marshall-Bennet or Jonathan Marshall-Bennet?”
“The former.” Duncan said. “Do you know him?”
Shaking her head, Reyas explained she knew his younger brother when they were assigned at an outpost several years ago. “Isn’t Captain Zack Marshall-Bennet in command of the U-S-S Vesta?” She added.
Shaking his head, Duncan responded with more detail. “No, from what I found out he’s been given a slight promotion to a task force commanding officer and was given the Discovery as his new flagship. The Vesta has been given to someone else.”
“Let me guess, Bennet is our new boss?” Cambil posed.
“Indeed,” Duncan said. “Anyway, with the Odyssey pretty much out of use for the moment and with the urgency of deploying the array now a high priority, the captain has taken direct command of the project.”
“Makes sense.” Reyas said and looked for Cambil for agreement, which she received. “Go on Max.”
“The captain wants us to deal with the current small infestation of Hunters of D’Ghor in the system, along with the crew of the U-S-S Endeavour.” Duncan reported. “Captain Rourke wants us to use the Aquarius as a mobile command centre while the rest of our shuttles and runabouts are used for scouting missions.”
Rubbing her left cheek, Cambil was confused. “Hold up, take me back a step. What do you mean by a small infestation of Hunters of D’Ghor?”
It was Court who told the commanders what had transpired after the battle. “So far we’ve detected over one hundred and fifty-eight Klingons all dotted around the system. They’ve all used small shuttles or one person crafts.”
“We reckon they’re going after the array.” Lenjir added.
“A logical choice of action, especially since further attacks outside of this system would support our theory that they are not keen on Starfleet being able to see them.” T’Rani stated.
Jen spoke up from the corner where he was standing. “They’re use of veridium patches wasn’t the most genius thing they’ve done to date, but some of the planets and moons in the Haydorian system do have samples of ores that could block our sensors and their patches. We’ve so far detected kelbonite and topaline signatures.”
“So, what is it you need from us two?” Cambil asked the senior staff.
Duncan cleared his throat. “With the captain and you both still recovering, I’m the ship’s acting captain but we wanted to check with you both that we’re not missing anything and to have your blessing on the mission.”
Smiling at the sentiment and loyalty the crew showed, Reyas just indicated to Cambil with a nod she had her support to deal with this. The Bajoran woman took a breath and looked at Duncan. “Seriously Max?” She started with. “All of you are capable of doing this without us three around. None of you would hold those three pips you have on your collars otherwise.”
“You really think the captain would appreciate hearing that we missed out defending the ship’s honour further while he was out cold?” Reyas added.
The group all chuckled at that remark, besides T’Rani who just raised her eyebrow. Cambil finished the meeting off. “Max, while we are all relieved of duty you are Odyssey’s captain and all of you need to work with Max to see this thing through. It’s your duty and it’s what you are all trained to do. You don’t need to come down here to ask for our opinions or permission to go ahead with this.” Cambil paused. “But there is one thing I could do.” She cleared her throat and spoke up. “Computer who currently commands this vessel?”
The computer beeped and responded in its cool feminine tone. “This ship is currently under the command of Captain James Preston McCallister.”
“Computer, has Captain McCallister reported for duty?” Cambil asked next.
After a second the computer replied. “Negative.”
“Computer, what is the current whereabouts and condition of Captain McCallister?” Cambil asked next.
“Captain McCallister is currently in private recovery room one in sickbay. He is currently unconscious.”
Knowing what the Bajoran first officer was about to do, Slyvexs spoke up. “Computer this is Commander Slyvexs. Update Captain McCallister’s condition to be unable to fulfill his duties as he is relieved of them for medical reasons, authorisation Slyvexs-five-eight-zeta-foxtrot.”
“Medical authorisation confirmed, this ship is currently without an active commanding officer. The chain of command directive must be followed in accordance with Starfleet regulations, first officer Commander Cambil Bexa must report for duty as acting commanding officer.” The Computer stated.
Cambil spoke up. “Computer this is Commander Cambil Bexa, authorisation Cambil-two-one-beta-charlie. I am unable to report for duty, access Cambil Bexa medical records for confirmation and update status.”
“Accessing.” The Computer said briskly before adding on. “Confirmed. Commander Cambil is unable to fulfil the duties of acting commanding officer. The chain of command directive must be followed in accordance with Starfleet regulations, second officer Commander Karyn Reyas must report for duty as acting commanding officer.”
Reyas pushed herself up as she spoke up. “Computer this is Commander Karyn Reyas, authorisation Reyas-three-eight-gamma-echo. I am unable to report for duty, access Karyn Reyas medical records for confirmation and update.”
“Accessing.” The Computer repeated. “Confirmed. Commander Reyas is unable to fulfil the duties of acting commanding officer. The chain of command directive must be followed in accordance with Starfleet regulations, third officer Commander Maxwell Duncan must report for duty as acting commanding officer.”
Everyone stopped and looked at Duncan. It was so official now, so he took a breath and answered. “Computer this is Commander Maxwell Duncan reporting for duty, authorisation Duncan-four-seven-delta-romeo. Activate Emergency Fleet Access Program Alpha-One-Alpha.”
The computer made a different chiming noise before answering back to Duncan. “Voice authorisation confirmed. This ship is temporarily under the command of Acting-Captain Maxwell Duncan. Emergency Fleet Access Program Alpha-One-Alpha is in effect. You have two hours to comply with Starfleet regulations.”
Confused as to what just happened, Court looked around at his colleagues before asking the question to get clarity. “What’s the Emergency Fleet Access Program?”
Hunsen, who had not said anything since entering the room, answered for the senior enlisted officer. “It’s an emergency security program put into all Starfleet vessels. In the event a ship’s command crew are unable to fulfill their roles, are separated from their ship or are relieved of their duties, then the program gives those with the rank of commander and above the chance to take temporary control. It’s normally reserved for war times or emergencies. I think we can justify we currently find ourselves in both of those.”
“Since the computer has given me two hours, that means the computer has sent a message alerting Starfleet Command of the program’s activation. Starbase Twenty-Seven will get the call and it will be down to Admiral Beckett to confirm the change in command. As admirals are the only ones who have the authority to do that. I’m assuming Captain Bennet would have informed the admiral of our status.” Duncan explained.
“But in the meantime, for the next two hours at least, the computer will recognise Max as Odyssey’s acting captain and allow him to take certain limited actions in preparation of assuming full control. After the two hours are complete, if the admiral doesn’t confirm the transfer of control or Captain McCallister doesn’t report for duty then Max will lose his limited computer access.” Cambil added. “You learn all of this when you take the advanced bridge exam and pass the command officer level assessment.”
Nodding to show he understood. “Wow, you learn something new every day, but surely with Max’s level nine clearance code he wouldn’t need to assume command?”
“It’s not just about clearance code,” Jen said as he scratched his Trill spots around his forehead. “Max’s authorisation, and his alone now, can be used to declare things to the computer that only the captain can do with one single command. Since the Dominion War, computer security has been tightened because of changeling infiltrators and level nine clearance only gets you so far. Even Commander Cambil would not be able to lock out the command codes temporarily without someone else confirming it. They’ve basically made Max the Emergency Command Hologram for a short amount of time. I’ve always said he’ll look good in command red.”
“Indeed.” T’Rani remarked in an almost sarcastic-Vulcan tone. “Now we have established the chain of command and Commander Duncan’s possible new attire, can I suggest we return our focus back onto the mission at hand?”
Cambil agreed. “T’Rani is right. You have your orders, now get out of here and get to work!”
A number of “yes ma’ams” and “ayes” followed as the group all left the room with Duncan remaining. He looked at both women, smiled and nodded with a silent thanks at them before turning on his heel.
“Max!” Reyas shouted after him, which made the counsellor stop and turn to look over his right shoulder. She continued. “Just don’t get too comfortable in that centre seat, do you hear me?! My husband is expecting to have his ship back!”
The acting captain smiled and returned to walking out of the room.