“Captain’s log stardate seven-six-seven-five-five point one. I’ve decided to go forward in understanding more about Captain Jystar’s unusual request. I’ve sent over multiple teams to explore the Quirennal and to get us more information. Doctor Sylvexs and Commander Hunsen have led our efforts in understanding how the stasis chambers work and the status of their occupants further. Before I beam over, I’m dealing with a small personnel matter.”
“Are you sure about this?” McCallister asked, looking at his wife from behind his desk in the ready room.
Reyas, who was sitting in one of the arm chairs on the opposite side, looked over the top of the PADD she had in her hands and almost glared at her husband. “It was your idea in the first place, James.”
“Yeah, I know that.” McCallister replied. “You took the idea further though.”
“As I said before, if he is serious then this would prove it. Plus we’re over thirty-thousand light years from Earth. You have the authority to do this.” Reyas encouraged. “I don’t think he’ll go with it. He may ask to go away and think about it.”
Before McCallister could come back with anything the door chime went off and he sat up straight in his chair almost automatically. “Come in.” He replied.
Turning around, Reyas smiled as the door swooshed open revealing their guest. Stepping in gradually, looking nervous at the two people who were waiting for him, Alfie (their son) looked at both of his parents. “You wanted to see me?”
“Alfie, calm down, you’re not in trouble.” Reyas said, assuring her middle-child. “Come join your father and I over here.” She gestured to the other armchair next to her.
Breathing out, Alfie walked across the room and took his seat. “Am I in trouble?”
Chuckling at how nervous their son was being, McCallister shook his head. “Far from it Alf,” he said. “Your mother and I have been discussing what you shared with me on the Holmes and we’ve got a propositional for you.”
“Well, actually your father officially has. I can’t do it as I’m not a captain.” Reyas corrected him with.
McCallister shot her a look and then glanced back at his son. “Alfie, you said you were interested in joining Starfleet, is this still true?”
“Yeah.” The teenage lad said in a slow tone, sounding a bit unsure of where his parents were going with this line of questioning.
“Well we’ve discussed it and I’ve also spoken to Commander Duncan and Senior Chief Court and we’d like to help you with that aspiration.” McCallister stated. “Obviously your school grades need to remain as good as they are, but there is something else we can help you out with.”
“And I’d like to point out that your schooling is important.” Reyas interjected with.
Nodding to show he understood that point. “I know, that’s one thing you’ve stated to all three of us since day dot.”
“Good,” McCallister said to his son, proud to hear he saw the importance of his education. “Then Alfie, I’d like to offer you the chance to see if Starfleet is something you truly want to be a part of. So with that, I am prepared to make you an acting ensign.”
If Alfie’s eyes could pop out of their sockets, they would have from his reaction to the offer from his father. “Dad, are you serious?”
“Absolutely.” He answered. “As captain of the Odyssey, I have the authority to grant such positions, but there’s one additional add-on. You take the next two months to get to know this ship and you then make a decision if you carry on with your training. Plus you understand that just because your parents and your godfather are senior members, it does not grant you the freedom to abuse this position. Your training will be extensive and you won’t get any special treatment because of who you are. Is that clear?”
“Crystal clear,” Alfie said with the biggest grin on his face, “sir.” He added at the end.
“Computer,” McCallister said, “update the crew manifest to reflect that Alfie Thomas McCallister-Reyas is made an acting Ensign with the duties and privileges of that rank as of this stardate.”
“Manifest updated.” The computer replied with a couple of beeps.
Standing up and turning over to the replicator, McCallister tapped a few commands into the console above it. The replicator then came to life and it created a Starfleet standard duty uniform. Though instead of the usual red, gold or teal coloured top, this one was charcoal grey. Handing it over to Alfie, McCallister smiled further with pride. “Just don’t tell your brothers yet until we get home for dinner tonight.” He said.
“Consider that your first order, Acting Ensign McCallister-Reyas.” Reyas said with a similar smile like her husband’s.
“Understood, ma’am,” Alfie said looking at his mother as he took the uniform and then at his dad, “sir.”
Chuckling to one another as they went through the main staging area that their Hazard teams had secured over three hours ago, Captain McCallister felt his mood change as he and his wife entered the large underground chamber that Kelis had discovered. The sight of seeing so many stasis tubes active and filled with youngsters was chilling for the two parents.
With a phaser strapped to their hips along with a tricorder, no-one was taking any chances even though the hologram that was controlling the alien ship had assured them there was no cause for concern and that they were safe. Pleased to see the chamber was busy with his crew, McCallister had noted that a good number of the crew were now on the Quirennal then on the Odyssey. Numerous teams were exploring the large ancient ship while others were working on understanding the systems that looked after the stasis tubes. Thankfully, before leaving the Odyssey, the captain had activated the rest of his holographic crew to supplement those who were not on duty and were now where he was. Though the only hologram he had not re-activated was Penelope, she was undergoing a diagnostic on her matrix but the ECH would be brought back online before they returned to the ship. Nevertheless, he had left command of the ship under the command of Lieutenant Commander T’Rrani.
Being approached by his first officer, chief medical officer and chief operations officer, McCallister stopped as did Reyas. “Report.” He asked the three of them as they all stopped in their tracks.
“Welcome aboard, sir.” Duncan said, greeting his superior. “We’ve got some good news and bad news.”
Not too happy to hear that phrase, McCallister gestured for Duncan to share more. “Explain, Number One. I thought I was meant to be meeting with Captain Jystar.”
“She’s in the next room with Tremt, Samris and Flemen.” Duncan stated. “Before you go in, you should know what we’ve discovered.” He turned to the Trill officer. “Lukiz, you want to start.”
Nodding in confirmation, “Sir, the stasis tubes are barely functional. It’s no surprise with how long they have been operating but by our estimates what tubes are left will fail in around six or seven months.”
“It’s gets worse though,” Slyvexs added. “My scans of those who have survived show they need to leave their stasis tubes sooner rather than later. I have found acute cellular degradation in them all.”
“Can you treat them?” Reyas asked, sounding almost upset at the news.
“Yes, but they won’t be able to return to their stasis tubes and the longer we leave them in there the harder it will be to treat them all.” Slyvexs said. “We’ve found one-thousand, seven hundred and twenty-one young people. Most of them, from what I can tell, are in their teenage years. There are a few younger children and some very young infants.”
Hearing that news tugged on the heart strings of McCallister. “Does Captain Jystar know this?” He enquired. Duncan had reported that the hologram was a representation of the Quirennal’s captain but she had also introduced herself as mother of two of the children they had found. In fact it had been the two that Keli had found first.
“Yes,” Slyvexs answered, “but she is unable to access command functions to override the systems to bring the young people out of their stasis cycle. Certain systems are damaged but Tremt is looking into what the repairs would be.”
“Okay, anything else I should know?” McCallister asked.
“She does seem adamant at wanting to know if we will help her save the children.” Duncan remarked. “I’ve had Samris and Flemen almost double-team up with her to keep her calm and assured we are doing everything to assist but it is taking time for us to understand her systems to make repairs.”
“I take it we can’t just take her program offline to avoid her having an artificial breakdown?” Reyas wondered.
“I’m afraid it’s a little bit more complicated than that, ma’am.” Jen answered. “Though the joke of how many engineers, counsellors and diplomats does it take to change a light-bulb has been shared around a bit.”
McCallister smirked at that and indicated that he wanted to now meet with his photonic counterpart.
Eventually the group entered the original room where Duncan had first met Captain Jystar. It was a lot brighter than before and Hunsen, along with several of his engineers were either scanning or prodding a range of circuits and panels with various tools. When they all noticed the captain entering, they all stopped and stood to attention.
“At ease everyone, return to your work.” McCallister ordered with a wave of his right hand as he approached Jystar, who was standing in the centre of the room with Counsellor Samris and Lieutenant Flemen.
Duncan made the introductions. “Captain Jystar, this is Captain James Preston McCallister. Sir, this is Captain Jystar.”
Her projection flickered a bit and Jystar looked at McCallister up and down. “Welcome aboard, captain.”
“Thank you, captain.” McCallister said with a friendly disposition. He went on to introduce his wife, “this is Commander Karyn Reyas, my second officer and chief science officer.”
“As well as your wife.” Jystar added, looking at Reyas in the same fashion she did with McCallsiter only moments ago. “Welcome, commander.”
“Thank you.” Reyas said. “How did you know I was the captain’s wife?” She probed.
“I heard some of your crew mention it as they explored my ship.” She answered flatly. She turned her attention back to McCallister. “Captain, you have had time now to review my request. What is your response in preparing to look after the young people on the Quirennal?”
“I do want to help.” McCallister answered honestly. “Though what I hear from my crew, it will take some time for us to be able to bring them safely out of their stasis tubes and we also need to treat them.”
The holomatrix for Jystar was extremely advanced as she expressed a sense of relief in her facial features. She looked almost human in appearance. “I am grateful, my children will need to be cared for. They will need people to look after them. Parents in fact.”
“We will endeavour to treat them all and help in any way we can, but I must ask where all of their parents are? Your crew must be somewhere?”
Before Jystar could answer, Hunsen, who had his head under a console, popped up and informed everyone that his work looked like it was complete. “Captain Jystar, I think you should be able to access more of your systems.”
With a closure of her eyes, Jystar appeared to do exactly what Hunsen had said. More light was switched on and more humming noise could be heard as more systems were brought back online. “Yes, commander. Thank you.” she said, sounding extremely pleased with what she could access now. “It is taking time for the stasis controls to come online.”
“Jystar, can you answer my question?” Mcallister inquired. “What happened to your crew? The parents of the children left in the tubes?”
“They died.” She answered, sounding glumly at the news. “They gave their lives so their children can survive.”
“That must have been hard for them.” Samris commented. “Why did they sacrifice themselves?”
“The ship had been badly damaged.” Jystar reported, “a decision had to be made about the future of the ship. The crew opted to reconfigure it so that their children would survive in these stasis tubes and when the ship had repaired itself enough they would have somewhere to go.”
“Well that explains the huge arboretum above us.” Flemen said. “They must have constructed it to be a self-contained sustainable environment for them to grow in.”
“That’s exactly what it was.” Jystar confirmed, “My program was created by the original Captain Jystar to oversee the ship’s systems with our maintenance bots. The captain’s neural patterns were downloaded into my program, so I could fulfill the mission to the best of my ability, but something went terribly wrong.”
“What happened?” Samris asked in a caring tone.
“The ship received intensifying damage and we weren’t able to maintain every system, so instead of bringing the children out of stasis, I altered their controls so they remained in the tubes.” Jystar explained.
“It’s understandable.” Slyvexs assured the hologram.
Nodding in agreement, “Yes and now you’re here you can help raise the children. My mission is complete.”
Surprised to hear that sentence come out of her mouth, everyone looked at each other. McCallister noticed everyone’s reaction and turned back to Jystar. “What do you mean help raise them? We’re happy to assist in saving them but we’ve not agreed to raising them?”
“Captain, are you telling me that you are prepared to leave these children alone on a ship they have no-idea how to operate and maintain?” Jystar asked, her tone becoming agitated and her program flickering. “They need you to look after them. You have over two-thousand adults on board your vessel that could easily do that job.”
“We may have, but that doesn’t mean we can drop everything and become parents overnight.” McCallister stated. “I’m a father already.”
“So you know how important a job this is.” Jystar said, hoping that she was getting through to McCallister. “I cannot allow my two sons to die, knowing I couldn’t do anything for them.”
“We won’t abandon them, but what you’re asking is a lot. We need to seriously consider this before we commit, plus my vessel is far away from our home territory.” McCallister said.
“You won’t need your vessel, you can all live here on the Quirennal.” Jystar informed him.
“I won’t give up my ship.” McCallister replied. “Plus, as I said, I’m a father myself. I won’t leave my sons behind.”
“Your vessel is more equipped to look after them, my ship needs your crew, here looking after the children.” Jyster’s tone was becoming more and more irritable. She then closed her eyes for a moment.
“What’s happening? What is she doing?” McCallister asked his crew.
Everyone had their tricorders out, Hunsen was the first to answer. “I’m detecting an increase in power across the entire ship. I think she’s bringing on more systems online.”
“It’s their transporters, sir.” Jen announced. “I’m detecting huge amount of matter transportation taking place above us. It looks like she has directed transporter beams at the ship sir.”
Tapping his combadge instantly, McCallister called the ship. “McCallister to Odyssey. T’Rani raise shields and move away from the Quirennal.”
“I am sorry captain, I cannot comply. I, along with numerous others have been beamed off the ship. I believe we are in the artificially constructed valley on the Quirennal.” reported his helms officer.
Before he could issue another order, the stasis tubes all started to unlock and their doors raised upwards.
Jystar then opened her eyes, “I’m sorry Captain McCallister, but I cannot wait for you to make a decision on my request. I must insist you and your crew join my ship and save the children.”
Looking at everyone else, McCallister’s hand reached for his phaser as the occupants in the tubes all started to wake up. Pleased he wasn’t alone, everyone else in the room did the same while still operating their tricorders to determine what was going to happen next.