Entering The Auditorium, Commander Reyas was flanked either side by her two sons, Theo and Henri. It was unusual for the McCallister-Reyas family to be apart, however Reyas had planned to enjoy her evening with the boys. Neither of them were too keen about the idea, but Reyas had made a deal with them. Have dinner with her and then the rest of the evening was theirs. The compromise had appeared to work and when she had said they were heading to The Auditorium, both seemed more eager about it.
Making their way across the massive lounge, Reyas insisted they sit upstairs and use the area that was exclusively reserved for the captain. Being the captain’s wife and second officer had its perks and with Commander Duncan not in sight she decided to flex her seniority. “Come on boys, I won’t tell your father if you don’t!”
Henri chuckled at his mother’s lame attempt at humour while Theo just rolled his eyes as they walked up the large central staircase to the upper level of the lounge. Reaching the top the three of them were met by Remi Goldman, the lounge manager. A man in his late fifties, Remi had been with the Odyssey since it’s launch over twelve years ago. With a strong wispy black and silver beard that he kept well groomed, the human man had become the ship’s informal morale officer over the years. A family man who was direct with his mannerisms and friendly to all he met, Goldman was known by everyone on the ship. “Commander Reyas, Henri, Theo – a warm welcome to you all this evening.” He greeted them with. “I see you are missing two members of your clan.”
Reyas smiled at him as they walked over to the captain’s VIP area. “James and Alfie are off on a small low key mission and won’t be back until tomorrow.”
Looking at her sons, Goldman smirked at them before speaking. “Which leave you two young gentlemen the honour of escorting this fine woman this evening.”
Again both teenagers gave out either a groan or mumbled something. A typical teenage boy response of which Goldman just chuckled at. “Theo, I believe Duke will be coming later. Can I tempt you both to play a few pieces?” The lounge manager asked, referring to his son who was only a year older than the McCallister-Reyas boys and who Theo had been playing a lot of music with lately. “I hear through the grape-vine you two are becoming the rising stars in music class at the moment?”
“Yeah, don’t we know it!” Grumbled Henri.
Ignoring his brother’s comment, Theo’s attitude appeared to change when the opportunity to play his music live to everyone was placed in front of him. “That would be great, thanks.”
“I look forward to it and once Duke arrives, I’ll send him up to you for you to decide on what you’ll play.” Goldman suggested.
Reyas looked at the lounge manager, “Is that all the entertainment for tonight?” She quiered as they made their way over to their VIP booth-like area.
Shaking his head, Goldman replied with a swift ‘no’ followed by an explanation that a little bit later on a quiz night was taking place. “I hope to see the senior staff, that’s left, enter it?”
“I’ll rally the troops!” Reyas remarked as their host left them to settle down.
Sitting down on one side of the large circular table, Reyas called over one of the stewards so they could order in drinks and their food. Tonight’s themed evening was spices from Bajor. Ordering hasperat for each of them along with a side of Mesto salad, Reyas had also asked for a glass of Bajoran spring wine for herself as well.
“Your dad and I were talking about us five taking a vacation together.” She shared with her sons.
Henri appeared to scoff at the idea, “Where would we go? Unimatrix Zero One with the Borg Queen?”
“A hunting party with the Hirogen?” Theo added.
“Or back to Outré to dig up more mysteries?” Henri included. “I’d prefer to be assimilated.”
Almost slamming her palm on the table, Reyas had enough of her sons and their constant rudeness that evening. “That’s enough, both of you.” She said in a stern motherly tone. “I don’t know what is up with either of you tonight but I’d like the two sons I gave birth to, to return back to me without all of the rudeness and sarcastic remarks. What is wrong with you both?”
Appearing sheepish in their expressions, both Henri and Theo looked at one another and then back to their mother before apologising for their behaviour.
Henri spoke up, “We were invited to a party tonight, mum,” He answered before glaring at his brother. “But if Theo plays here then we’ll be even later than planned.”
Realising that they found hanging out with their mother as social sucide, Reyas shook her head at them both. “Is that it?” She asked and then looked at Theo for clarity.
“It is mom,” Theo confirmed. “But I do want to play with Duke later. He is so cool.”
“Traitor.” Henri commented back.
Glaring at his brother, Theo ignored the insult thrown his way and returned to his mother. “Plus it’s the first evening we don’t have Alfie moping around so we could actually go and hang out with our friends.”
Holding her hands up for them to stop, Reyas was confused by that last statement. “What do you mean without Alfie moping around? And if memory serves me correctly, it wasn’t Alfie who was moping around recently. Theo, you were the one who told your father on Outré how upset you were over Leeyum and Edon leaving with Bexa and Napreem. So where has this all come from?” Reyas looked at both of them for answers.
Rolling his eyes, Theo explained it to her. “I do…I mean we do miss them. It’s not the same but since they have left we’ve all become friends with others as you and dad suggested we do.”
“But Alfie doesn’t either want to hang out with who we are friends with or when he does he is always bringing down the mood of the room.” Henri said. “Plus when we ask him what is wrong, he just says that neither of us would understand. The last time we asked, he and Theo had a massive argument and he started going on about something that he wasn’t like either of us with our interests.”
Realising what was now going on with their sons, Reyas nodded to show her understanding as Theo and Henri spoke. “Do you mean your interest in sport and Theo’s passion for music?”
“Yeah.” Henri replied. “The only thing he is interested in is when we go to the holodeck with Uncle Tobi, but with him being super busy lately we’ve not been.”
“Well I hope your father gets something out of him then.” Reyas remarked.
“Is that why dad took him on that shuttle mission?” Theo inquired as their food and drink arrived.
Thanking the stewards as she picked up her glass of Bajoran spring wine, Reyas turned her attention back to Theo and nodded. “We were trying to work out what was wrong with him, so your dad decided to take him off the ship for some one-to-one attention.”
“Well I hope dad has taken a Romulan mind probe with him to get it out of Alf.” Henri stated as he picked up his hasperat to take a bite.
Ignoring that comment, Reyas finished her sip of her Bajoran spring wine and then looked at Henri. “What do you mean by Tobi being super busy lately?”
In between mouthfuls, Henri covered his mouth as he answered his mother. “Well there’s been a few evenings where he hasn’t been around or has been late over. He just tells us he has been working an extra shift, or had a meeting that had overrun.”
Confused by that as she was aware of Court’s recent duties, Reyas took the decision to make a mental note to find out more about that at another time.
“I hope we’re not disturbing?” asked Doctor Slyvexs as she approached Reyas and her sons. “Could we join you, Karyn?”
Looking up at the Denobulan doctor, Reyas smiled and saw that Slyvexs was arm-in-arm with her third husband, Mettex. He was a tall man that Slyvexs had been married to for over thirty years and had joined the Odyssey as one of its civilian astrology consultants. Quickly gesturing them over, Karyn stood up and greeted the pair of Denobulans. “Absolutely come and join us.” She said with glee at having some adult company at this point. Slyvexs had always had a soft spot for the McCallister-Reyas boys, as she had been the one to help Karyn deliver them. “Are you both staying for the quiz?”
“We heard about it from Remi,” Mettex said as he pulled out the chair for his wife and aided her in sitting down in a very gentleman like fashion. He took his seat as he carried on talking, “we’re not too sure what it entails though.”
“Teams compete in a range of rounds that require you to answer questions about certain subjects.” Reyas answered as she sat down herself. “The team with the most correct answers is declared the winners.”
“Seems like fun to me.” Slyvexs said with a smile. “We bumped into Tremt, Lukiz and Cline on our way here. I told them to join us. I hope that’s okay with you, Karyn?”
“The more the merrier.” Reyas said before realising she saw the looks from her sons. “These two will probably be leaving us shortly to attend their own gatherings with their friends.”
“Does that mean we can go now?” Henri asked, sounding like he was pleading with his mother.
“Finish up what you have and just go.” She answered, indicated to the food on the plate before him. “And be home by twenty-two hundred hours, no later.”
“I’ll go find Duke and see what we can play.” Theo remarked as both he and his brother scoffed the last parts of their food into their mouths before getting up to leave.
As soon as they left, Slyvexs looked at Reyas. “Was it something we said?”
Shaking her head, Reyas explained that her and James were dealing with fun that came with the teenage years in triplets.
“We know it all too well.” Mettex remarked as the food and drink they ordered appeared. Several waiters placed their food and drink down, one of them offered another glass of wine to Reyas who accepted it. “It’s the one thing I do miss from being so far away from Denobula.” He added before taking a bite of his food.
“Hormonal youngsters can be a handful.” Slyvexs agreed. “I suspect with your El-Aurian genetics in them, that they will either get over it quickly or it may go on for some time.”
“That’s not comforting, doc.” Reyas said with a smirk as she took her fork and stabbed it into her Mesto salad. “I don’t think I was ever this grumpy with my mother.”
“Mettex would disagree with me on this one, but I certainly believe raising teenage boys is harder than girls.” Slyvexs shared as she picked up her own glass of Bajoran spring wine. “Girls are emotional but you can help them through it. Boys, whatever species are too impulsive.”
“I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, but the Vulcans should share their ideas of suppressing all emotions solely for teenagers in other species. It would save a lot of headaches for parents around the galaxy!” Mettex said with a smirk.
Reyas chuckled at that idea and at that point the three other senior members of staff that the doctor had mentioned earlier arrived in the section. All of them were out of their uniforms and in civilian attire. It certainly made the atmosphere feel more welcomed.
“Are we gatecrashing this party?” Jen asked as they approached.
“Can we still join you?” Lenjir inquired.
Nodding to them all, Reyas gestured for them all to take a seat around the table. “As long as you don’t plan on leaving us before the quiz night, I think we could make it a senior staff quiz.”
“Without the captain.” Hunsen stated as he took a seat. “Do you think he would forgive us if he wasn’t included?”
“Mettex could take his place.” Jen suggested as he got comfortable in his chair. “Anyway, we’re missing Max and Tobi, as well as T’Rani, Samris, Tomaz and Craigen.”
Not wanting any gossip to be shared about T’Rani and Samris, Karyn quickly covered up for them. “I’m sure T’Rani offered Samris some piloting lessons this evening on the holodeck.”
“And I’m certain Tomaz and Craigen are working through that last datastream from Earth about the Tkon, just in case we come across them again.” Lenjir added. “So where’s Max and Tobi tonight? It’s not like them to miss out on one of the themed nights in here.”
Quickly speaking up, Hunsen answered the Tiburon’s question. “I think I overheard Max calling Tobi to meet with him in the Lion Gate to over some crew evaluations. They’re probably still there.”
“That can’t be right, Tremt.” Slyvexs answered. “Mettex and I had planned to have dinner there tonight and when we arrived the computer wouldn’t let us in, the doors were locked and the glass doors had been blacked out.”
“Oh really?” Hunsen said, trying to come up with an excuse for that, the chief engineer shared another lie. He wasn’t going to be the one that Max complained to about sharing the secret he had to keep. “You know what, I think Max did call into me earlier tonight about one of the replicators not working in there and I just told him to lockdown the room and I’d deal with it another time.”
“Surely a maintenance crew could deal with it?” Jen questioned the engineer. “In fact we could send the engineering holograms now to do it as part of their tests.”
“No.” Hunsen snapped. “I mean, no. It’s fine, I can deal with it in the morning, Lukiz.”
“A pretty menial task for our chief engineer.” Lenjir said. “Still, where could Max and Tobi be?”
For the first time in days, Commander Duncan hadn’t thought about a duty roster, or an unread report or the need to organise an urgent senior staff meeting. Instead he was enjoying himself and actually the privilege that came with his position as first officer appeared to be paying off. After secretly meeting with Court in the Lion Gate and telling him that he had put his foot in it with Hunsen by revealing their relationship. At first the senior chief petty officer hadn’t been too happy about it, but after a few seconds he admitted to the first officer that he wanted something more and told him how he truly felt and that he wanted them to become a real couple, one that wasn’t afraid to share their relationship in public. Deciding that Court was right and they couldn’t hide it anymore, Duncan agreed. They had spent the rest of the evening in the Lion Gate having a private dinner. Using his command codes, Duncan had locked the door and told the computer to prevent anyone from seeing in through the glass doors by altering their opaqueness. Thankfully he did as Doctor Slyvexs had tried to enter earlier that evening, thankfully the computer didn’t accept her command codes to override.
Now the two men were cuddling on the longest sofa that sat underneath the slanted bay windows. Court on top of Duncan with his back against his chest, the two just looked up at the starfield that the Odyssey was slowly passing through. After replicating a decent dinner and drinking some champagne, the two of them had rummaged through the captain’s private cabinet to take out what real alcoholic drinks he had in there. Finding a bottle of Saurian brandy, they were now enjoying its contents while just being together.
“This is perfect.” mumbled Court into Duncan’s neck.
“That’s the sixth time you’ve said that.” Duncan counted. “You know we’re going to have to call it a night and leave here at some point. I’ve got a ship to run, you know.”
Sighing heavily, Court let out a brief whine. “Technically speaking with the captain off ship and you in command, as acting-captain you can run the ship from wherever you like.”
“True, but I don’t think the captain would appreciate hearing that I did that on the first time he went away and left me in charge.” Duncan said as he tightened his grip around Court’s chest.
“Second time.” Court corrected his boyfriend. “You were left in command while he, Commanders Cambil and Reyas were in sickbay during the Archanis Campaign.”
“That doesn’t count.” Duncan replied. “I wasn’t the first officer.”
“You’re too good sometimes.” Court mocked him. “Anyway, if you want to call it a night and end our official first date, then I know where we can take the post-date celebrations!”
Intrigued, Duncan looked to the man on him. “Do share.” He insisted.
Turning around and now facing on top, Court leaned in slightly and whispered his response. “Your quarters.”
“Sounds good to me.” Duncan said as he pushed Court off of him and ordered the computer to activate a site-to-site transport for them both to his quarters. Seconds later they materialised on the ground floor of Duncan’s quarters. “Shall we take this upstairs?” He asked as he pulled Court close to him.
“You read my mind.” Court replied as he passionately kissed Duncan before he was pulled in the direction of the stairs to go up towards the first officer’s bedroom.
Finishing off the lasagne that he had replicated for him and Alfie, Captain McCallister placed their empty dishes back into the replicator to be recycled. “You want anything else? He asked out towards his son.
Alfie, who was sitting on the small leather grey sofa reading a PADD, just shook his head. “Nah, I’m good thanks, dad. I may call it a night.”
Ordering himself just a mug of his usual tea, James took the hot beverage out of the replicator after it had materialised. “I’m going to head up to-” He was interrupted by the computer’s automated response for the shuttle’s proximity alarm.
“Proximity alert! Vessel approaching.”
Rushing to the cockpit, both James and Alfie took their chairs. James automatically looked up and saw what the computer had picked up. A huge ship which was bigger than the Odyssey was almost on a collision course for them. Quickly adjusting their heading and moving them out of the way, James told Alfie to begin scanning the ship. The colossal vessel was purely grey and appeared to have been hit in multiple areas by the existence of its damaged hull. Scorch marks and impact holes could be seen at various points. The ship’s overall shape almost made it look like a floating donut with a central pyramid section. There appeared to be no outer lighting or any markings to indicate who owned it. What appeared to be the aft section of the ship, six huge impulse engines appeared to be active but the ship was moving at a slow pace.
“That’s massive.” Alfie commented. “I don’t recognise it and neither does the ship’s computer records.”
“I concur, it’s nothing I’ve seen or read about before.” James said as he looked at the same sensor readings. He was impressed at how well Alfie had responded as his co-pilot and took the initiative to scan the ship. “If they had a warp drive, or any other faster-than-light drive then I’m not detecting it.”
“Do we hail them?” Alfie asked.
Considering the choices before him, James wanted to hail the alien ship but the other part of him erred on the side of caution. “If they’ve not detected us yet then I don’t want to draw attention to ourselves. The nebula must be affecting their sensors, so let’s move away and then call in the Odyssey. I’d prefer to make the opening hail from the bridge than from here.”
“Oh come on dad, what’s the harm in saying hello?” Alfie asked.
“A lot and I’m not going to place you in danger. We know nothing about them, so I’d prefer to make first contact with the rest of the Odyssey.” James answered flatly. “And that’s final.”
“Spoil spot.” Alfie stated.
Sniggering at that remark, James was reminded of an old colleague at Starfleet Academy who would use a similar phrase when she taught interspecies ethics. “Captain’s prerogative actually, something you’ll one day appreciate when you take command of your first vessel.” James corrected as he adjusted their flight path one more time and headed back to the Odyssey.
“So our little mission is over?” Alfie asked.
Nodding to his son with a sense of regret, James told him yes. “That’s not to say what we’ve discussed has ended, I mean it when I say we will help you get into the academy, if you want to.”
“Thanks dad, I appreciate it.” Alfie said.
“Once we’re over a hundred thousand kilometers from that alien craft, hail the Odyssey on a low-level subspace band. I don’t want whoever is following us to pick up the signal.” James said.
Alfie acknowledged the order, leaving James the chance to look at the sensors one more time at the alien craft they were fleeing from. A quantum scan of it soon showed its results revealing that the craft was at least two thousand years old.
Where the hell did it come from and what was it doing here in the middle of no-where?