The corridors were empty, bare in fact. Minimal light was on and the only noise came from the low hum of the warp drive. For the first time since the Omega Directive was activated, James McCallister felt some sort of calmness and was less anxious about his mission. Maybe it was the fact that he didn’t have to constantly remind himself to keep quiet on the directive to everyone else on the Odyssey. The constant glares and responses he got from his crew were tiresome and frankly quite annoying. He had even experienced it from his own wife. Every time he would tell them he couldn’t share what he knew with them or they just had to do what he ordered without any explanation and further information, it was like a constant barrier going up between him and them. It was no way to run a ship and he just wondered how much he would be able to salvage after he returned. If he returned.
Then there were his boys. Having to shock them and prepare them for the possibility he may not return without actually saying those exact words had been tough. Though they were teenagers and could slightly understand the importance of his job, he would never want to know he left them at such a crucial point in their lives.
Deciding to ignore those thoughts any further, James tried to compartmentalise them away to the back of his mind for now. Strolling along deck two, he approached the dark blue doors that had the golden words across it that said: SICKBAY. Automatically the door sensor recognised him and allowed him to enter.
Walking into the medical bay, he was impressed to find the ship’s EMH at work especially as there wasn’t much for him to do as such. “Ah Captain McCallister, please state the nature of the medical emergency.” He said in his cheerful manner as he carried on with his tricorder scan of the person laying on the main surgical bed.
“Nothing for me doctor, I’m just checking in on our patient. How is she?” James asked as he stepped all the way in. Not quite remembering who the hologram’s likeness was meant to be (James could vaguely remember it was meant to be of a famed Betazoid doctor), the captain approached the photonic physician who had close shaven grey hair and thick black hair.
The EMH looked between his patient and the captain. “She’s asleep but fine. I am surprised to see her on the Aquarius and not remaining in the Odyssey’s sickbay.”
“Well let’s just say the Omega Directive overrides your curiosity doctor.” James said as he looked at his guest on the bed. He wasn’t keen on dealing with any remarks from the holographic doctor. Being able to mention the Omega Directive to the hologram almost felt unnatural to James. Thankfully by being able to encrypt the hologram’s memory banks, Starfleet had been able to create a somewhat Omega Directive mode that meant that anything that was said and shared with the holograms working for James would be deleted once the mission ended. “Can you wake her for me please?” The captain commanded.
Complying with his order, the EMH loaded up a nearby hypospray and placed it gently into the neck of his patient.
As she started to wake up, James looked to his acting chief medical officer and thanked him for his service. Taking the hint, the EMH just bowed his head and placed both the hypospray and tricorder down on the nearest surgical tray. “Computer deactivate EMH.” He said, almost sounding sad that he wasn’t needed anymore.
Once he fizzled out it left James and his guest alone in sickbay. “Captain Donlar, we have a lot to finish off.” James said as the woman came around and blinked several times.
The Kraylor captain nodded as she pushed herself up with her elbows. “Indeed. Where do we begin?” She looked around at her surroundings and realised that she had been moved and was now somewhere else. Looking down at her appearance she also discovered that she was no longer in the surgical gown as she had been after being treated in Odyssey’s sickbay. Instead she wore an all in one black jumpsuit with a high collar. It almost resembled her own uniform.
“From the top, I need to know everything you know about this molecule.” James answered flatly as he crossed his arms against his chest.
“And in return you’ll remove my people’s greatest achievement from us and leave us to carry on fighting for our independence without a helping hand?” Donlar said, almost sounding annoyed at the situation she now found herself in.
Frustrated that she may have started to have second thoughts on their collaboration, James sighed heavily before answering her. “That’s right and as I said to you before, by stopping your people from carrying on with this research you are preventing them from destroying themselves. There wouldn’t be a fight for your independence if your people were wiped out from existence.” James finished by pulling over a stool to sit on.
Sitting up on the biobed, Donlar just nodded again. “If my superiors discover that I’ve aided you…”
“No-one will know you were ever here and we will take every precaution. At the moment I’ve made my crew believe you are secure in guest quarters and cannot be disturbed back on Odyssey. I’ve set up a tricorder to emit your lifesigns and the rest of your crew are also under lock and key if they’re not in Odyssey’s sickbay recovering. I’m hoping by sneaking off so quickly we can return before any more suspicions are raised.” James explained. “I also took the care of downloading your entire ship’s database and borrowing some equipment that may assist us in being stealthy with this matter.”
“I didn’t realise your culture was not only capable of being eloquent when enlisting the help of aliens but also so deceitful. Let alone being good at thieving what is not rightly theirs?” Donlar said, sounding more irritated at James’ words and actions.
“We’re not petty thugs captain, but to ensure we complete this mission successfully, I’ve got authority to do what it takes to ensure that conclusion.” He answered. In the back of his mind, he deliberated about just how far he would go to complete this mission successfully. Was he now crossing a line by bringing Donlar in? He couldn’t be second guessing himself. “So let’s get down to business. You said to Commander Duncan and me you discovered the particle, let’s start from there. Whereabouts was this?”
The captain took out a PADD and started to take notes. He needed to know everything.
Almost an hour later, James entered the bridge with Donlar beside him. He gestured for her to take a seat at one of the unoccupied chairs in the small aft compartment. The Aquarius shared the same design lineage as the Defiant-class with its small compact style compared to the Odyssey. Its bridge was laid out in almost the same way as its distant cousin, except the holographic displays were being primarily used alongside the touch screen displays. The same deep blue colour scheme ran through the bridge as well. All of the chairs were navy blue while the carpet was a dark grey that had a blue line patterned etched around its edge.
Donlar deduced that she was no longer on the Odyssey shortly after they had left sickbay. If they hadn’t been wrapped up in this mess involving Omega, if they hadn’t had to save the Kraylor ship, then James was certain that Donlar would have made a good ally. She was a clever woman with a strong ethical stance mixed up with a wonderful scientific curiosity. Feeling she was almost his complete counterpart, James had soon worked out that the Kraylor Armed Service had nothing like the Omega Directive. Not yet though. Without revealing too much of Starfleet’s deepest secret and their knowledge, James found his conversations with Donlar almost refreshing. She seemed to have understood the dangerous outcomes that the ‘cosmic particle’ (what her science officer had initially labelled it) would create for the universe. Using her knowledge of this region they were about to enter as well as what the Kraylor were doing with omega would ensure he could succeed in his mission.
Rising from the captain’s chair was a tall slim human woman with long curly auburn coloured hair wearing the red command uniform. The ship’s Emergency Command Hologram, if she had been alive, would have appeared to be in her late forties to early fifties, turned to face her ranking officer. “Captain on the bridge.”
Ignoring the sentiment, James waved his hand as he approached his acting first officer. “Report.”
Turning to face her superior, the ECH’s voice was calming and smooth as she answered. “We’ve continued to monitor short and long range sensors for the– ” she paused as she noticed their guest and altered her use of vocabulary, “molecule in question but nothing has appeared.”
Smiling at her, James felt like he was back in the presence of his mentor and first skipper: Captain Brooke Fontana-Adelaide. Her peaceful demeanour reminded him of his early days as an ensign on the Audacious. She could always keep herself together in difficult and tense moments. How he wished he could be more like her. “Any sign of any other ships in the region?” He questioned.
“Long range sensors have detected two Kraylor ships evading an Annari vessel.” The ECH reported as she showed a holographic display of the sensor scans. “For now they are not aware of our presence, but in less than an hour they will be.”
Looking over his shoulder, he looked at Captain Donlar. “Hopefully we can prevent that.”
“What do you have in mind?” Donlar was curious as she stood up.
“Remember I said about me borrowing some equipment of yours?” James remarked, “Well, we’re about to go and install it so your colleagues and nemesis don’t see us coming.”
For a second Donlar wasn’t sure what he was implying before it finally clicked. “You stole my cloak?”
Nodding at her and then looking back at the ECH, James gave out further instructions. “Have the emergency holographic engineering team activated and meet me in engineering. We’ve got an alien cloaking device to install. Get them to bring it up from the cargo bay too.”
“Understood sir.” The ECH said and twitched her head slightly to comply with his orders.
Returning his attention back to Donlar, James gestured with his right hand for them to leave the bridge. “Care to assist me captain?”
“I don’t think I have much choice in the matter, do I?” Donlar answered back as she shook her head at how surprised she was becoming with the extremes that James would go to so he could complete his mission.
“Run the last diagnostic, monitor the plasma flow and ensure the tetryon compositor is kept aligned.” James ordered the holographic engineers.
Obeying him without hesitation the holographic representation of a Tellarite, a Vulcan and a Caittian carried out their task. All three of them worked at high speeds, completing the work quicker than a normal flesh and blood group could.
Standing just back from the Starfleet group, Donlar observed them with some form of admiration. They had spent almost a quarter of an hour installing her cloak in their engineering room. “I’m impressed how much you know about cloaking technology, especially when you don’t employ it on your own ships.”
“The Federation signed a treaty that prohibited us from developing the technology, but that agreement has somewhat been modified over the years and that empire we signed it with has split into three.” James answered, trying to brush the details to one side. “Starfleet engineers are aware of cloaking technology and the directive we are currently following–”
“Overrides that treaty and anything else your people consider lawful?” Donlar guessed. “Save me the repeated speech captain, please.” She sighed aloud. “For people who consider themselves to be explorers, you have a funny way of showing it. You absolutely disregard or even hold any form of respect for others and their laws if they are not part of your Federation. It truly astounds me, captain. You’re almost Annari in your approach.”
“Under normal circumstances that would insult me as respecting others and their laws is something we highly believe in, but as I’ve said from the start these are not normal circumstances.” James bluntly answered, he was now starting to become tired of her reiterating points he already knew.
Before she had a chance to make a quip back, the Vulcan engineer turned to the captain. “The cloak is ready sir.”
Nodding in response, James turned to the main engineering controls and sent power through it. The cloak started to make a noise. “Here goes.” He said aloud as he activated it.
The Aquarius appeared to whibble in space and soon disappeared from sight. The sensors confirmed the cloak was now working.
“We’re in business.” James said with satisfaction and he looked over to Donlar. She wasn’t sharing his level of enthusiasm for this achievement.
“Bridge to Captain McCallister,” spoke the ECH over the intercom, “we’re about fifteen minutes away from the Forlax system and sensors have detected an increase in the amount of molecules.”
Somewhat appreciative for the interruption from the ECH as he didn’t think his relationship with Donlar could improve any more, James was not surprised with what he had heard. He had feared that the increase in the amount of molecules would be the case as Donlar had explained they were experimenting with them to use as an infinite power source to defeat the Annari. James sighed before regretting asking the next question. “How many?”
“Close to one million.”
Placing his hands on his hips, he took in a breath as he considered his options. “Make sure the chamber is ready and active by the time we enter orbit, the torpedoes as well.”
James tapped his combadge and closed the channel. “Look Captain Donlar, we both agree that we need to destroy what you call the cosmic particle. If we can do that without any further comments about the ethics of this mission, then I think we can complete our task and get back to ships sooner rather than later. Agreed?”
“Agreed.” Donlar said as he considered McCallister’s suggestion for a second. “However tell me captain, you said you would do whatever it took to achieve your goal, but just how far are you prepared to go?”
“As far as I need to go as I have no choice in the matter.” McCallister answered and then made his way to depart from engineering, leaving Donlar in his wake to consider his response.