Deciding to take an alternative path towards astrometrics, Commander Duncan soon caught up with his former protégé and assistant department head. “Craigen, a moment.” He called out to the Lumerian diplomatic officer.
Stopping and turning on his heel, Flemen turned around and smiled as his superior approached him. “Sure, sir.” He responded, knowing that this moment was coming and he could sense what Duncan was thinking. His telepathic abilities were not needed to recognise the expression plastered across the commander’s face. Worried and embarrassed that Flemen and Tomaz had discovered something about his private life, Duncan was more than certain going to speak to him about what they had witnessed over almost an hour ago.
Catching up with Flemen, Duncan placed his hands on his hips and smirked slightly. “Listen, Craigen, you know I’m a private type of guy-”
“Sir, say no more. Please I don’t want it to become an awkward situation between us and the chief.” Flemen quickly interjected with. “I am so sorry that we barged in and Tomaz and I have already said, we promise to keep it to ourselves.”
Grinning in appreciation for Flemen’s discretion with the matter, Duncan sighed with a sense of relief. “I appreciate it, Craigen, I really do and I am sure the chief will as well.” He responded. “It’s not that we want to keep our relationship a secret, but it’s just-”
Raising both hands suddenly in a stop-like fashion, Flemen shook his head as well. “Please sir, don’t say anymore. You don’t have to defend your private life at all. I respect you too much and I promise I won’t say a word and I am sure Tomaz won’t either.”
Again another sigh of relief, “Thank you Craigen.” Duncan said, pleased that he may have averted an issue from coming up. He would be ashamed if his relationship with Court became ship gossip, though he knew when they eventually revealed they were together publicly that it would cause some stir among others. On the eve of the twenty-fifth century, people still enjoyed any scandalous information about other people, especially those in senior positions. Nevertheless, Duncan wasn’t too keen on having members of the senior staff sharing stories about him and Court. It was bad enough that Hunsen knew so early on in their relationship.
“Can we get to the briefing in astrometrics or is there anything else you want to discuss, sir?” Flemen questioned.
Shaking his head, Duncan gestured for them to proceed down the corridor.
Astrometrics was a huge room on the Odyssey. The floor to ceiling high viewscreen was supported by various holographic displays to the side of it, along with several stations that would normally be manned by those in the astrometrics department. But as it was the middle of the night, the room had no-one officially on duty which made it the perfect place for the captain to meet with his senior staff over his encounter.
The entire senior staff were finally assembled and appreciating that most of them were half asleep when he had made the call to meet, while others had been enjoying themselves in the Auditorium, the captain knew he had to make this brief so they could get on with the work ahead of them without anyone falling asleep. Most of them had opted to sit on the stalls while the few decided to stand.
“Okay everyone, I’m sorry for disturbing you all but we’ve encountered something that I think is worth our attention.” McCallister shared as he started the briefing. Using the holographic controls near to him, he brought up the images that he and Alife had taken over two hours ago of the huge ancient ship they had found. Tapping the controls one more time he turned the display into a three dimensional holographic model in front of them. “The scans of the ship we’ve taken are limited but for now we’ve determined this craft is almost two-thousand years old.”
“And we’re certain we don’t know who it belongs to?” Lenjir asked, almost repeating a question that Tomaz had asked when the captain had called the ship originally.
Reyas answered on behalf of her husband, “I’ve ran a comparative analysis on what energy signatures the Holmes’ sensors picked up against known signatures in our database and it has not revealed any matches. We’ve determined what limited power signature we can detect that there are several fusion reactors on board, but we can’t detect a warp drive or any other faster-than-light propulsion device.”
“So it’s just floating out there?” Doctor Slyvexs asked as she gazed up at the scans. “Any life signs?”
“Scans are unable to penetrate the hull to detect any lifeforms, but it would appear it’s just its momentum that’s carrying it.” McCallister replied to the Denobulan.
“This craft appears quite large. What are its dimensions?” T’Rani raised with intrigue.
“Almost four times larger than the Odyssey.” McCallister said. “Its hull also has monotanium hull plating.”
Hearing that clue, Tomaz’s attention was raised as he looked at his commanding officer. “Could it be Hirogen then? They’re known to use that type of defence on their ships.”
“Maybe, but we’re not detecting any typical Hirogen markings.” McCallister answered his chief strategic operations officer. “We’ve got too many unanswered questions. I want to limit those down asap.”
“What are your orders, captain?” Duncan asked. The first officer appeared slightly agitated and eager to get on with their new mission.
“We set an intercept course, one that doesn’t attract too much attention in case there is anyone on board. I want continuous scans of it as we get closer, then once we are in range we attempt to make contact.” McCallister answered.
“A new mystery for the crew to resolve would certainly assist with morale.” Counselor Samris commented.
Looking at the Romulan psychologist, McCallister wanted to agree but didn’t go all the way with his response. “I know our current mission has been quite…monotonous but this isn’t meant to be a distraction. We’re explorers and we could be making first contact with a new race here, so I want the crew at its best.”
“Of course sir, I didn’t mean anything else by my previous statement.” Samris said, sounding a bit flustered by his previous remark.
McCallister raised his hand to show he got what his senior counsellor was saying. “I get it, Samris, I just want us to take this seriously. Any other questions?”
“Sir, do we plan to board it if we don’t get any response from our initial hails?” Jen asked from the opposite side of the room from McCallister. The joined Trill had his arms crossed against his chest. “A vessel that large will require several teams to explore.”
“Most likely, I wouldn’t want to leave such a precious discovery to be left untouched.” He looked to Lenjir. “Commander, make sure both hazard teams are prepped and ready to go. We may need to consider putting together some other teams as well.”
“Leave it with me to sort out sir.” Lenjir responded with conviction.
Looking around the room, McCallister could see that everyone still looked a bit tired, so he decided he would take an easier approach to this mission. “T’Rani, inform the delta shift conn officer to set a course at a speed that would have us arrive in time for alpha shift to be on duty.”
“Of course, sir.” The Vulcan pilot acknowledged.
Turning to his wife, McCallister asked her to have others in her department to begin the long range scans. “I want to give us enough time to have a better picture of what we’re about to deal with before we arrive.”
“Sounds like a wise idea.” Reyas said, stifling a yawn. “I’ll have some of our probes come in for a closer look.”
“Dismissed.” McCallister ordered everyone. “Commander Duncan, Chief Court, a moment please.”
Hunsen gave Duncan a glare and at the same time sensed both Flemen and Tomaz being alarmed at the captain’s request. He looked at Flemen and the two of them shared a brief telepathic exchange where both had let their mental blocks down for a moment. Releasing soon that the two lieutenants in command red knew about his friend and his new partner, Hunsen suppressed a smirk as he walked past Duncan and Court. Both men looked like they were being called into the principal’s office for being naughty. Walking out with Flemen and Tomaz, the chief engineer called them to one side to join him.
Noticing the trading of looks between the others, Duncan felt his stomach flip over several times as he looked at Court who also shared the same expression of concern. The two of them stepped forward to the captain, who was saying goodbye to his wife.
“Max, Tobi,” the captain said after watching his wife depart. “There’s something I want to share with you both.”
Both men looked at one another and without any hesitation, Court spoke up. “Sir, before you say anything else we were planning to tell you.”
Joining in, Duncan added his input. “Absolutely and we don’t want you to think that we don’t take our duties seriously enough that we would allow anything to affect our professional lives.”
“We both appreciate and respect the trust you have put in us both.” Court said as well.
“Exactly, you have given us both so many opportunities to develop our careers and expand our leadership abilities.” Duncan said.
Confused as to what they were both saying, McCallister looked at them both as if they had just lost their minds. “What on earth are you both going on about?”
“The reason you wanted to talk to us in private.” Court answered.
“We’re both prepared to face the consequences.” Duncan said.
Still unsure on what they were going on about and their unusual behaviour as if they had been caught with their hands in the cookie jar, McCallister couldn’t work out what they were talking about. Switching off the holographic displays with a swipe of his left hand, the captain looked at them. “Seriously guys, I’m not following what you’re going on about but I wanted to ask a personal favour.”
Both of them once again looked at each other and if McCallister had been a Betazoid he would have sensed the relief coming off from them.
“A personal favour?” Court repeated.
“Of course, whatever it is.” Duncan quickly added.
Looking at them both, McCallsiter concluded that whatever was going on he wasn’t sure if he wanted to know or not. For now he ignored it and pressed on. “Alfie is interested in joining Starfleet and I wondered if you two would be okay in talking to him about it. Karyn and I will do it from being his parents but as he respects you both, I thought a different perspective would help.”
“He wants to join Starfleet? Then yeah, sure. I’d be happy to help guide my godson.” Court answered back.
“Definitely, we can talk to him.” Duncan replied back, almost appearing relieved.
“Thanks.” McCallister said. He then looked at them both, “So what on Earth were you both going on about earlier?”
Again they looked at one another and Court gave Duncan the approval look. Duncan sighed and turned back to his captain. “Sir, there is a personal matter I think you should know.”
Still confused by that remark, McCallister shrugged his shoulder as to indicate he wanted to know more without actually saying it.
“Max and I are together.” Court blurted out.
“You’re together?” McCallister said, bafflement setting in. “What do you mean?”
“As in, together.” Duncan emphasised as he took hold of Court’s hand into his and raised it. “We’re seeing one another, sir.”
Surprised at the news, McCallister who had crossed his arms by this point wasn’t expecting to hear that. “Oh,” He said at first. “Well you know I can’t really criticize senior members of my staff seeing one another. I am married to the second officer.” He smirked at them. “Is that why you both came in to the meeting looking all coy and why Tremt gave you that look earlier, Max?”
Wincing at the fact the captain had seen that, Duncan just nodded in confirmation.
“Flemen and Tomaz also know.” Court added. “We had planned to keep it quiet for as long as we could as we didn’t want our relationship being a source of chatter among the crew.”
McCallister chuckled at the situation. “Gentlemen, in the years I have been captain of this ship and my last command, there is one thing that has remained constant.” He paused as he looked at them with a sincere expression. “The moment the crew knows who their superiors are in a relationship with, you risk becoming the source of chatter whether you want it to happen or not.”
“We have asked for their discretion in keeping this quiet, sir.” Duncan added.
Appreciating their efforts, McCallister nodded to show he understood. “Listen, what you two get up to during your time off is no-one’s business but your own. I don’t usually pry into the personal lives of my crew, unless it has an adverse effect on the running of the ship. I will only advise you to use your better judgement to avoid making a public display. As long as you both can discharge your duties as my first officer and chief of the boat without any personal conflicts, then I have no issue here.”
“Of course sir.” Duncan said. “Thank you.”
“We promise it won’t interfere with anything we do.” Court added.
“Good, now can we get on with dealing with this new mystery that has appeared on our doorstep?” McCallister asked and got a joint acknowledgement from both men. “Let’s get to it then.”