“The bridge is yours Max.” uttered Cambil as she and Reyas were summoned to the captain’s ready room.
The counsellor obliged with a simple nod as she watched the two men cross the bridge and enter the room in the far corner. Silence remained on the bridge with only the odd computer beep here and there.
Sitting watching the whole commotion unfold, Lieutenant Tomaz pondered if this was normal for the crew. He had been only with them a few weeks and so far he had summarised that they were a well oiled machine. In fact he felt quite welcomed into their ranks, he had worried slightly at the prospect of being the new guy entering a well-established crew. Watching the events unfold before him wasn’t something he had been expecting. It was almost as if the captain had a personality challenge from the moment their meeting had been interrupted and the moments he had gazed his eyes on the message on his screen.
Curiosity got the better of the Barzan strategic operations officer and he decided to bring up what the database could tell him about the sign they had all seen earlier. Someone had mentioned omega and from what records were telling him omega was a letter from an Earth language known as Greek. It had some religious connotations too, mainly around the theme of the end, disaster and destruction. He postulated that if this was some sort of order from Starfleet to the captain then it must have been something quite serious for them to use that letter. He wondered if the Odyssey was the only ship that had this mode in its computer or if others did as well.
The ready room doors hissed open, Commanders Cambil and Reyas left and a few seconds later the captain followed. Whatever was said between all three of them, it looked as if none of them were truly happy with what was exchanged.
As the captain sat down, he issued orders to Lieutenant Commander T’Rani at the helm to set course for the distress call from the Kraylor and engage at maximum warp. “T’Rani though if you detect a large explosion in subspace point three light years to the Kraylor ship, you are under strict orders to turn the ship around and get the hell out of here.”
Curious about the additional order, T’Rani’s eyebrow rose in typical Vulcan fashion to look at her commanding officer. “Course heading sir?”
“The Alpha Quadrant.” McCallister clarified.
Realising that was strange for him to state, Tomaz attempted to speculate why the captain would issue such a course heading, but then he wondered if this subspace explosion could affect the Barzan wormhole re-opening.
“Understood sir.” T’Rani said as she returned back around to her console and laid in their new heading. “Course laid in sir.”
“Engage.” McCallister ordered.
The Odyssey lurched forward and stretched as it entered its highest speed, making its way towards the Kraylor ship. As soon as the ship was at warp, the captain opened a channel to sickbay. “Max, will you and Tomaz head down to the library and become experts on the Kraylor. I want to know everything about them, including how to best deal with them and some tactics in case things get ugly.”
Nodding at once, the counsellor got out of his chair. Hearing his own name spoken, Tomaz instantly reacted and stood up too.
“Tomaz, have you seen the Odyssey’s library yet?” Counsellor Duncan as he indicated for them to take one of the aft turbolifts.
Shaking his head, Tomaz answered honestly. “I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure yet.”
“Then you’re in for a treat!” Duncan stated as they got into the turbolift and left the bridge.
Looking out at the bridge before the doors closed, Tomaz heard the captain give out further commands. He just wondered what was going on. Looking at Duncan, he wondered if he should ask. Deciding it was best not to say a word, he would leave it for the ship’s chief counsellor and diplomatic officer to bring it up. If he did.
Feeling Cambil’s eyes burrowing into his neck, McCallister continued to ignore his first officer’s stare at him. He knew she was annoyed that he wouldn’t share what was going on but he wasn’t going to put his life and others at jeopardy to satisfy her need to know everything. With several PADDs in his hand, called over Karyn and Lukiz to speak to him privately in the aft area of the bridge. Odyssey’s large bridge allowed for the crew to be able to hold quiet conversations without too many ears nearby.
Handing them both a PADD with plans to create a harmonic resonance chamber, James looked at them both. “I need you to assemble as many people as you need from both of your departments and work together to build this to the exact specifications.”
Jen looked at it and went back to McCallister. “What is it sir?”
“It’s a harmonic resonance chamber.” McCallister said. “I need it built and installed in the Aquarius’ shuttlebay within four hours.”
Shocked at the time limit, Reyas looked at her husband for him asking them to do something which appeared almost impossible. “Are you kidding James? There’s no way we could run simulations, replicate the parts and test it in that time.”
“You don’t need to run simulations or test it, you just need to build it for me. Get it done.” McCallister insisted and looked at both officers. They got the message and also left the bridge.
Calling over both his first officer and tactical officer next to where he was standing, the next set of PADDs were handed to them.
Lenjir looked down at them, “Gravimetric torpedoes? We don’t have any of them as part of our compliment sir.”
“I know, that’s why you’re both going to use those in the tactical department who have the training to modify our own stockpile of photon torpedoes to make them.” McCallister informed them.
“Are we planning to destroy a small planet?” Cambil questioned, “The yield you’ve indicated is eighty isotons. That’s one hell of a blast James.”
“I know, I want at least twenty made within four hours.” McCallister said. “Ten will be placed on the Aquarius and the other ten left here on Odyssey.”
“Two hours sir? It’s not possible sir.” Lenjir complained back.
“Make it possible, Mister Lenjir. It’s why I’m assigning both of Odyssey’s top munitions experts on the case.” McCallister commanded before he dismissed both of them.
Once they had left him to head down to the ship’s torpedo room, he looked over to the helm. “T’Rani, the bridge is yours. I’m heading down to sickbay and engineering.”
“Absolutely not.” Slyvexs said in a stern response as she looked the captain square in the eye. “I will not release such medication without knowing what it will be used for. My medical position supersedes your authority in this situation, captain.”
Frustrated that his crew was being such a pain in cooperating with his orders, McCallister was pleased he was in the private confines of the doctor’s office. “Doctor, I’m not going to order you again to carry out this task. Your medical authority is rescinded and you can file a complaint to Starfleet Medical all I like.” He stood still and glared back at the Denobulan woman. “Arithrazine, Twenty milligrams. I need it ready in two hours.”
“Fine.” Slyvexs said giving up with her protest as she slumped into her chair. “Where would you like it delivered to?”
“The Aquarius.” Bennet said as he made his way towards the door to leave sickbay.
Slyvexs wasn’t finished with him. “The last captain I had to give twenty milligrams of arithrazine to in secrecy suffered with long term effects afterwards. Even until this day, I wish I had refused her order after she relieved my superior after he had the guts to turn her down. ”
Pausing in his pace, McCallister spun on his heels and looked back at her. “I’ll have the EMH look after me.”
“She assured me of the same thing and several weeks later died from complications on her bridge after being injured during a battle with some intergalactic criminals. If she had taken it with supervision she may have survived and you may have never got that fourth pip so early.” Slyvexs remarked.
McCallister looked at Slyvexs with an expression of shock and walked back into her office. The doctor had just dropped a bombshell on him. “Are you talking about Captain Adelaide?”
Slyvexs winced her head to one side without saying anything.
Knowing he had a job to do, McCallister glared down at his chief medical officer. “We’ve known each for a long time, so I’m going to hope that last comment was a slip of judgement on your part and it won’t happen again. Are we clear doctor?”
She said nothing back.
He left sickbay.
The counsellor was not joking around when he said the ship had an impressive library suite. It was huge. Duncan had informed Tomaz that the captain had expanded it when during several missions to aid Romulan evacuees he had agreed to store some of the books they had rescued. In fact one of the colonies they had assisted, Duncan revealed that he had agreed to take the entire library from a university. Along with every book there were numerous other artefacts and since the ship’s launch on a monthly basis the ship’s librarian and historian staff would replicate books from a range of Federation and non-Federation worlds to add to their growing collection.
Taking seats down at a nearby computer console, Duncan loaded up the Delta Quadrant database compiled by Voyager and developed by those who had started to re-explore the quadrant since the stabilisation of the Barzan wormhole.
“So here we go, the Kraylor.” Duncan said in a quiet tone. “There’s not much here.”
Tomaz agreed with that assessment, the articles about them were short and sharp. “Humanoid species, with a gill-like jaw line. Technologically advanced, almost the same in comparison to the Federation. They were in a state of conflict with the Annari Empire when Voyager met them.”
“This is interesting, there’s a few log entries here by Voyager’s senior staff.” Duncan remarked as he read on. “They developed cloaking technology to by-pass the Annari blockade around their homeworld but deceived Voyager initially by keeping this fact a secret at first.”
Tomaz looked at the counsellor. “I wonder if the conflict still exists to this day?”
“Maybe.” Duncan said, remaining focussed on the console before him. “There’s not much else in the database.”
“I’ve got a star chart up of the location of their homeworld.” Tomaz remarked. “That ship is quite far from home.”
Duncan peered over Tomaz’s shoulder. “So they are.” He said, wondering why they were so far away from their territory. “If their technology was on par with Starfleet over twenty five years ago, then let’s assume they’ve developed at the same rate. Let’s see what we can get to know about their ships to give the captain some tricks up his sleeve.”
Agreeing with their next course of work, Tomaz got on with loading up the sensor readings Voyager took of the Kraylor ships it encountered.
Still fuming at Slyvexs’ behaviour with him, McCallister entered engineering in an already bad mood. Thankfully, his chief engineer detected it via his Betazoid telepathic abilities. He instantly looked up from the main ‘pool table’ he was sitting at when the captain entered.
“Sir, is everything okay?” Hunsen asked with care through his gruff tone.
McCallsiter nodded and just waved his annoyance away and handed Hunsen the last PADD. “Tremt, I need you to install multiphasic shielding around the warp core in two hours.”
Taking the PADD, Hunsen looked at the specifications. “These are quite advanced configurations sir. I’ll need more than two hours.”
“We don’t have any more time. I need those installed and I need you to get Tierra to begin modifying the Aquarius to withstand extreme thermal stress. Twelve thousand Kelvins, at least. She’ll need to also instal the same type of shielding around its warp core.” McCallister commanded.
Calling over his Deltan assistant chief engineer, Hunsen was keen to get the tall woman’s input on the job. Lieutenant Tierra joined the captain and smiled at him. “The captain is giving us a challenge. Two hours to get all of this done.” The Betazoid said with a grin as he held up the PADD.
“Two hours?” She said looking at it. “We’ll have it done with ten minutes to spare sir.” Tierra said with confidence.
Looking between the two engineers, McCallister smiled at the enthusiasm from her. “Perhaps I should make Tierra chief engineer?”
“Maybe you should!” Hunsen remarked back with a grin. “Seriously though sir, we’ll get this all done but what is it all for?”
“That’s on a need to know basis and you don’t need to know.” McCallister answered back. He looked at the Deltan woman. Her slight baldness made her extremely beautiful to look at, but like him she too was married. Her wife worked in the exo-biology labs and was one of Karyn’s finest officers. “If you want a third pip on that collar Tierra, then I’d also appreciate it if a standard holographic crew package could be installed on the Aquarius too.”
Shocked at that order, Tierra’s eyes popped open for a bit. “I’ll see what I can do sir.” She then said with a smile.
“Both of you are stars, thank you.” McCallister answered as he left engineering.
Tierra looked at Hunsen as their boss left engineering. “We’re screwed, there’s no way we can do this in two hours.”
“You did say we could do it all with ten minutes to spare.” Hunsen countered back with.
“Remind me to stay quiet the next time the captain asks for something.” Teirra said as they both moved away from the pool table and straight away called their teams over to get started.
Eventually leaving main engineering, McCallister was surprised to bump into his yeoman and chief of the boat. Court was leaning against one of the bulkheads with a flask of tea in one hand and a PADD in the other.
“Tobi, what are you doing here?” The captain asked as he continued to stroll down the corridor heading to the nearest turbolift.
Quickly falling in beside the captain, Court spoke up. “I heard that something important was happening and I assumed you may need this.” He said, offering him the small flask of tea.
As they entered the turbolift, McCallister graciously thanked Court for the thought and hot beverage. Court knew him very well. “That’s just what I needed, thank you Tobias.”
“I take it that with the fact you’ve met with every member of the senior staff, you want regular updates on whatever they are doing?” Court asked.
“I do, every half hour I want progress reports but they must be encrypted for my eyes only.” McCallister answered back. “In fact, inform all department heads who are undertaking any specific orders from me that they are to encrypt their log entries.”
“Understood sir.” Court said as he took a note on his PADD and sent a message to everyone one on the senior with the captain’s orders. “Anything else sir?”
“Yeah, I’ll be leaving the Odyssey in four hours. Can you ensure that the Aquarius has enough provisions to last as long as it can and that my belongings are transferred as well.” McCallister answered. “Are the boys still in class?”
“I believe so sir.” Court answered the last question and typed out the first things that McCallister wanted him to do.
“Deck seventeen, school room eleven.” McCallsiter ordered the turbolift. He looked back at Court as the cart started to travel to its destination. “Tobi, everything I share with you is highly classified as well. Do you understand?”
Nodding, the enlisted man showed his support and understanding to his captain. “I do sir.”
Smiling in appreciation for his loyalty, McCallister always knew he could trust Court. “Good, because I’m about to ask two things of you.”
“Anything sir, you know that.” Court said calmly.
“You need to know the mission I’m about to undertake is dangerous and classified. I may be successful but if I’m not, then Tobi there’s no-one else I trust more to look out for my boys and help Karyn out more than you.” McCallister said sincerely. “They will never be allowed to know what I did that got me killed, but just assure them I did it for the greater good.”
Court just nodded again, trying to make sense as to what his captain was saying.
“The next thing,” McCallsiter paused as he sighed. “The next thing is I’m going to give you one order that will most likely put you at odds with the rest of the senior staff during my absence, but whatever you do I need you to trust my judgement with what I’m about to order you to do.”
“Okay.” Court said, sounding a bit confused and worried with what McCallister was about to say.
“If Cambil decided to come after me with some rescue plan, then you are to contact Commodore Bennet at once using a code forty-seven channel and inform him of what she is up to. Failing to do that, then activate the Emergency Command Hologram, the computer will reprogram it to take command over the ship and move it away from what is happening. By coming after me she is putting not only the ship in danger but everyone’s lives in danger.” McCallister ordered.
Surprised to hear that he thought she would do such a thing, Court expressed his concerns. “Are you sure she would do such a thing? Also sir, I don’t have clearance to use a code forty-seven channel or activate the ECH.”
“I know Bexa too well and unfortunately our time together means she may be blinded by loyalty. No-one on this ship knows what is going on and that is how it must be.” McCallister remarked. “As for the channel and ECH issue, computer give access to code forty-seven channel and the permission to activate the Emergency Command Hologram to Senior Chief Petty Officer Tobias Court, authorisation McCallister-one-seven-alpha-tango, clearance level ten. He is authorised to use it over the next two weeks only.”
“Temporary access to code forty-seven channel and the Emergency Command Hologram granted to Senior Chief Petty Officer Tobias Court. Restrictions are in place and the Emergency Command Hologram will activate in Omega mode.” The computer announced back.
“Do I want to know what Omega mode is?” Court asked his captian.
McCallister shook his head. “No and you’re not authorised to know either.” He took a breath again. “Tobias, I know I’m asking a lot of you but you need to do this for me.”
Court just nodded again, like the obedient yeoman he was. “Just come home sir.”
“I promise to do my best.” McCallister said as the turbolift came to a halt and the doors opened onto deck seventeen. He stepped out and gave the flask back to Court. “Thanks again Tobi.”
Shortly afterwards, Captain McCallister was standing in Faren Naprem’s office, just off to the side of the classroom where his three boys were currently working. Faren was the Bajoran teacher who taught on the Odyssey to those aged eleven to seventeen years old. He specialised in mathematics and history. Not only was he the husband to McCallister’s first officer, Cambil, but also father to their two boys. Over the years the families of both McCallister and Cambil’s had developed a strong relationship, a true close bond. So what was currently happening was extremely difficult for the captain.
“It’s nice to have you visit down here James.” Faren said with a heartfelt smile. “Unexpected but nice.”
“Thanks Naprem.” McCallister said, reflecting back a similar sincere expression. “Listen, I need to give you a heads up. Bexa is going to be working late and she is going to be extremely mad with me for some time now.”
“You two had a falling out?” The teacher asked with concern.
“It’s classified, but I need to see my sons before I go.” McCallister remarked.
Understanding that he couldn’t ask anymore, Naprem left his office and retrieved the captain’s sons from their studies. Henri, Alfie and Theo all walked in, confused as to why their dad was visiting them in school.
“Everything okay Dad?” Henri asked first.
“Sort of guys.” James replied back and gestured for them all to take a seat on the sofa opposite to him while he leant against the edge of Naprem’s desk.
“Dad, is mom okay?” Theo questioned next.
Nodding and putting his hands out to calm them instantly, James confirmed their mother was fine. “She’s okay, she will be working more shifts in the coming days so she won’t be around as much so I’ve asked Uncle Tobi to be around and I am sure Naprem will help out too.”
Unsure of where he would be, Alfie looked at his two other brothers and back to his father. “Dad, are you leaving the ship?”
“I will be; in about four hours.” He answered back. “I can’t tell you where I am going as it is classified but I couldn’t leave without saying goodbye.”
“Dad, you never come down here and pull us out of class before going on an away mission.” Alfie remarked. Then the penny dropped and he realised why. “Oh my god, dad this mission is dangerous isn’t it? You may not come back!”
Henri and Theo looked at Alfie then at their father. “Is that true dad?” Henri questioned.
“Tell me it’s not true dad.” Theo added, a surge of panic in his tone appeared similar to how Henri and Alfie sounded seconds ago.
Looking at them all, James took a deep breath. “I don’t know.” He answered truthfully. “And I couldn’t go without seeing you and telling you all how much I love you and how proud I am of the men you are becoming.”
At that moment all three of his sons got up and pulled into a tight hug with their father. If this was going to be their last time together, it would be one they would remember for eternity.
An hour had now passed and Lieutenant Tomaz returned to the bridge with Counsellor Duncan. The bridge sounded almost eerie again as barely anyone was talking. Captain McCallister was standing at the aft stations with a PADD in his hands, he appeared to be taking notes when he noticed the arrival of the two men.
“Report gentlemen.” He asked.
Tomaz noticed that the captain’s eyes appeared a bit red and sore. Marks going down on his cheeks were also apparent. He couldn’t work out what had happened but noticed that Duncan had seen it but didn’t inquire what had happened. Letting the counsellor, who was the senior out of the two of them, answer was Tomaz’s first reaction after the captain spoke.
“There’s not much to go on sir, but the Kraylor appear to be a somewhat reasonable civilisation. However they could still be a desperate people if they are still in conflict with another power called the Annari Empire.” Duncan shared.
“That said captain, if it is a genuine Kraylor ship then they are far from home.” Tomaz added before taking in a breath from his breathing apparatus attached to his cheeks. He felt a bit lightheaded sometimes when the gases he needed to breath didn’t always give him enough to counteract the M-class environment being simulated on the ship.
“Well we’re about to find out, lieutenant.” McCallsiter indicated as the ship came out of warp and the image of the damaged Kraylor ship appeared on the main screen.
Before them the Kraylor ship, which looked very similar to a scaled up version of Stafleet’s Peregrine-class fighter, was adrift and powerless. Plasma was leaking out of a nacelle and it could be seen that the ship’s aft section of the hull was missing. Force fields flickered on to support the ship.
“Yellow alert.” McCallister ordered as he made his way over to the centre of the bridge. “Let’s see who sent this distress call, open a channel.”