Copyright © 2016 by Zach Caldwell
All Rights Reserved
All Rights Reserved
U.S.S. Excalibur NCC-75864
Beta Agnee System
Ryan stepped onto the Bridge just as emergency lighting was extinguished by standard lighting as primary power was restored throughout the ship. "Report." He commanded as his moved to the Command chair.
Caleb looked up from his console. "Primary sensors are still out of alignment so I am not getting a clear reading. But I did detect a ship on an intercept course. If my readings are correct, the ship is about ten minutes out."
"Is it the same ship as before?" He looked to the viewscreen as it started to come to life with static.
"No, this craft is much smaller and the design is that of a civilian transport frigate."
Ryan absorbed the information as he tapped his communicator. "Jace, what is your status down there?"
"About as well as can be expected. We have main power back online. I can give you full power to shields or weapons or half power to both shields and weapons. This is about the best I can give you before that ship arrives."
"Thank you, Jace. Give me both shields and weapons. I'm not sure we need it but better safe than sorry. How long till we are fully operational?"
"Assuming you can keep us out of combat, I think about six hours."
"Sounds good Jace. Bridge out." Ryan was now able to read tactical data on the console attached to the armrest of his seat. "Caleb, is that ship from the Zapsa colony?"
Caleb consulted his computer and a quick scan of the civilian registry confirmed the Lieutenant's conclusion. "Affirmative." A beeping sound caught the attention of everyone on the Bridge. "The Vulcnor is hailing us, sir."
"Well, this is a better start than our last encounter. Open a channel."
"Channel open, sir."
Ryan stood up and took a step toward the main viewer. "This is Lieutenant Knight of the USS Excalibur. To whom am I speaking?"
The viewscreen shifted to show the bridge of the frigate and a Human male with greying temples looking at him. The rest of the bridge was difficult to discern due to continuing distortions. "I am Captain Balsum of the Vulcnor out of Zapsa Colony. I will speak with your Captain."
"I am in command, Captain Balsum. How can I help you?"
The older man leaned to his left and appeared to be listening to someone outside the view of the camera. "Very well then Lieutenant. You will lower your shields and power down your weapons and prepare to be boarded."
Ryan half turned to look at Caleb with a what-the-hell expression to which Caleb merely shrugged his shoulders. Turning back to the viewscreen, "With all due respect to you Captain Balsum, but civilian Captains have no authority to make such a demand to a Starfleet vessel."
Captain Balsum bristled at the response. A reaction that gave Ryan some internal satisfaction. "You will comply Lieutenant. My sensors shows that your ship is badly damaged. I would hate to make matters worse for you and your crew..."
"Captain, I do not know what your issue is with us, but I assure you we are not as bad off as you seem to think we are and I caution you to not test our resolve. If you have a grievance I will be more than happy to hear you out, but not under threat, sir."
It was clear the Captain was considering his options and probably odds before he finally spoke. "Am I to assume your destination is the Zapsa Colony?"
It was not an unreasonable assumption for the Captain to make but there was something about how the Captain asked that gave Ryan pause. For a moment he considered lying to the man. "That is correct, a standard patrol to check in with the outer colony worlds. Zapsa Colony was to be our first stop."
Captain Balsum seemed surprised to have gotten an honest answer. With a smile he spoke. "Very well Lieutenant. I apologize for my previous behavior. We have had some problems of late; to which you seem to have learned all too well, and I was…..well being perhaps too cautious."
Ryan turned and nodded to Caleb who instantly changed their alert status from red to yellow and gave a nod back. With a broad smile he turned his attention back to the Captain. "Thank you Captain. If what we have faced is the source of your problems, then I might well have acted in the same manner." Both men shared a knowing look. The chess board was set and the pieces were now in play.
"Thank you for your understanding Lieutenant. We will be happy to escort you to Zapsa Colony so you can finish your repairs."
"Thank you Captain. That would be much appreciated and we will be ready to get underway shortly. Excalibur out." The view of the Captain was replaced by a view of the frigate taking up an escort position to Excalibur's port side. "Caleb, keep an eye on our guest. I trust him about as far as I can touch him."
Ensign Kriger turned in her chair to face Lieutenant Knight. "Do you suppose the problems he spoke of is the same ship we encountered?"
Ryan's brows furrowed as he thought on the question. "My gut says no. If his problems were with that ship, I find it unlikely he would of been as aggressive with us as he was. He would have been happy to have Starfleet here to deal with the issue. Something else is going on."
Caleb jumped in. "It seemed as though it was something personal with Starfleet I thought."
Ryan crossed his arms and tapped his chin. "Maybe. All more the reason to get the ship in shape before we get to Zapsa Colony. We need to buy some time. Bridge to Engineering."
Jace's voice was quick to reply. "Aye, Engineering here."
"Jace, I need to buy some time. Captain Balsum is going to escort us to Zapsa Colony and we could arrive before we are in tip top shape. Can you vent one of our nacelles to simulate engine failure?"
Jace grunted. "It wouldn't be far from the truth. Honestly, if we go slower it would allow me to direct our attention to other systems rather than constantly monitoring the core."
"Good, make it so. Bridge out." Ryan felt a rumble through the deck plates and into his feet. He smiled. "Send a message to our guest that we are ready to get underway but we are only capable of one-third impulse."
Caleb smiled as he transmitted the message. "Sent sir."
Two Hours Later
Excalibur enroute to Zapsa Colony
"Acting Captain's Log, Stardate 87030.65. Lt. Ryan Knight Commanding USS Excalibur. It has been nearly twenty hours since I took command of the ship and to say it was eventful does not do it justice. Captain Knight has survived his emergency surgery but has yet to awaken. Doctor Elders assures me this is normal and that the Captain's body is recovering from the trauma to the brain and he should be awake in the next few hours. Commander Hunter is resting in his quarters per the orders of Doctor Takata. True to my word, I have kept the Commander informed about the state of the ship and our encounter with the Vulcnor. It seems to me that the Commander is slowly warming up to me. He praised me again for my handling of command….." Ryan looked up from the computer, rubbing his face he stood up. "Computer, pause log." The computer chirped as he stepped around the desk and moved to a nearby replicator.
A press of a button on the console brought the station online. "Sakalla Tea, hot." A mug of steaming gray liquid materialized. Picking up the mug, Ryan carefully took a sip of the hot drink. The drink native to Betazed was referred to locally as a tea. To Human's, the drink tasted like a more potent version of coffee but not nearly as strong or harsh as the Klingon drink, Raktajino. With the mug in hand and taking another sip, he looked around his father's ready room. His eyes fell on a side table with a picture frame which must have fallen over due to the recent attack. Moving to the table, he picked up the frame and a sad smile crossed his face as he looked at the smiling face of his mother. "I wish you were here." He placed the picture in an upright position on the table and turning, strode back to the desk resuming his seat.
"Computer resume recording." Again a chirp sounded. "In the hours since the initial attack, we have not detected the enemy vessel who attacked us. I'm not sure that is a good thing or not. Ensign Syvok was able to review the sensor data from the shuttle Arthur. The origin of the ship remains unknown. The presence of Chroniton particles in the debris indicates temporal displacement. Ensign Syvok and Acting Chief Engineer Brackett believe the ship has slipped into time, however, they do not believe, from the small amount of particles recorded, that the ship has gone far, be it forward or backward in time. A recording of our encounter with the ship and the sensor data on the Chroniton particles has been transmitted to Starfleet's Temporal Investigations for further review as required by standing Starfleet protocols. This is a puzzle that will have to wait for the moment. We are currently being escorted by Captain Balsum of the civilian frigate Vulcnor to the Zapsa colony. The Captain had the nerve to demand that we stand down and prepare to be boarded. A request I refused, naturally. He spoke of trouble they have been having recently. Suggesting it was related to the ship that had attacked us, I do not believe the man nor do I trust him. We have been monitoring the vessel on our slow journey to the colony and there has been several coded messages to and from the colony. I suspect we will not be well received upon our arrival. End Log." The computer chirped at the same moment the door to the ready room slid open.
Ryan stood up. "Commander, what are you doing here?"
Commander Hunter stepped into the room letting the door close behind him. "I am here to assume command."
"You still have four hours of downtime, sir."
Commander Hunter laughed. "I was getting a bit stir crazy in my room. So I went to sickbay to get checked out. Doctor Elders said it would be fine for me to return to duty."
As if on que, the computer on the desk before Ryan chirped indicating an incoming message from the Chief Medical Officer. A quick scan of the message confirmed what the Commander had just told him. "Aye sir. I return command to you, sir." Ryan moved around the desk.
"Lieutenant Knight, you are a credit to Starfleet and the ship. We still have a few more hours before we arrive at the colony. So, go get some rest. I want you ready for whatever is ahead of us."
Ryan snapped to attention. "Aye sir." With a nod he left the ready room. A quick scan of the bridge told him the late shift was on duty and that his friends were likely eating or in their quarters sleeping. A yawn was his que that he too, needed sleep. He made his way to the turbolift and stepped inside just as Commander Hunter sat in the Command chair. The doors closed before he could hear what the Commander was saying.
Crewman Degastino looked around sickbay, glad to find it was largely empty now with only the most critical still being monitored by the sensors built into the biobeds. He took a deep breath and slowly exhaled as his shoulders sagged. It eased the tension in his shoulders, for which he was grateful but knew the tension would return, it always did. He began to make his way across main sickbay. He made a point to nod to a couple of nurses and a doctor but never kept eye contact. Not that it seemed to matter as no one seemed to pay him any attention. "Stupid" he thought to himself. Arriving at the recovery ward he quickly checked his PADD to confirm the room number he was looking for. The door slid open as he approached and he came to a sudden stop. The Captain, as expected, was lying unconscious on the biobed located in the center of the room. What gave him pause was the young man slumped in a chair with his head resting on the bed. The young man's hand was holding the Captain's hand.
Degastino quickly recovered from his surprise and silently berated himself and moved quickly into the room, stood next to the sleeping young man and raised his hand and paused when the young man shifted but did not awaken. He looked at the readings on the tricorder. "So this is the son." His eyes furrowed as he looked at the scrolling data.
Ryan opened his eyes to see a middle aged man in a starfleet medical uniform with a tricorder in hand. The man was very physically built with a chiseled face and dark brown hair that was meticulously combed. The single pip on his collar indicated this person was a crewman. What really caught his attention was the look on the man's face as if he was puzzled by something. Alarmed he snapped up out of his chair facing the man.
"What's wrong?" The man was so startled that he started to fall backwards but quickly recovered and was in a defensive stance and as quickly moved out of the stance. WIth embarrassment he smiled at the Lieutenant.
"Damn sir, you sure know how to scare the hell out of a guy." He leaned over and picked up the tricorder that had fallen to the floor.
"Sorry. I woke up and saw a puzzled look on your face and assumed something was wrong. Is anything wrong?"
Degastino waved his hand dismissively as he approached the biobed and the Captain. "I was having a problem calibrating the tricorder. I am sorry that I disturbed you sir. I just needed to check on the Captain. He moved the tricorder from head to chest to toes and back up. As he finished his circuit he smiled and looked at Ryan. "He is doing fine, sir. It should not be long before he wakes up, I think."
Ryan's body relaxed and he returned the man's smile. "Thank you…." He offered his hand.
"Degastino, sir. Kevin Degastino." He accepted the offered hand and shook before letting go.
"Thank you Crewman Degastino and sorry for startling you like I did. Guess I have been a bit on edge lately."
"It's understandable sir. I would think that is true for most everyone on board...well, except for our Vulcan friends." Both men shared a laugh.
"I'm sure Syvok would have a logical comment if he were here right now."
Degastino nodded and made his way around the biobed. "I'll leave you be sir. I am sure he will wake up soon." He nodded and made his way out of the room.
Ryan smiled and watched as the man left the room. Turning back to his father he looked at a face which appeared troubled even in sleep. "I wish you would wake up, Dad. It's okay to come back." He reached down and took his father's hand into his own and with his free hand he wiped away the tears that started to trickle down his cheek.
After leaving his father and making sure he was resting comfortably, Ryan removed his uniform top as he walked into his quarters and tossed it on the back of a nearby chair. Rubbing his face with both hands he sighed as he made his way into the bedroom. He stopped in his tracks when saw Caleb lying in his bed. He watched as Caleb's chest slowly rose and fell rhythmically. He found himself taking in the full form of his best friend. Caleb's uniform did little to obscure his athletic build. Ryan walked around to the side of the bed and with a hand ran his fingers through Caleb's soft sandy blonde hair. Ryan pulled his hand away as Caleb shifted in his sleep. Ryan smiled and walked into the bathroom stripping off the last of his uniform and stepped into the sonic shower. Minutes later he emerged from the bathroom to find Caleb still asleep. Not having the heart to disturb his friend, he touched a pad on the bedside table and the bedroom lights dimmed. He pulled the covers back and slipped into bed. He was a bit startled when Caleb rolled over and snuggled into his side. A sense of peacefulness flushed through Ryan. The last thought in his mind as he drifted off to sleep was how everything was as it should be.
Degastino looked up and down the hallway before he tapped several keys to a nearby door. The pad chirped. "Access code invalid. Please try again." Degastino reached into his pocket and removed an electronic device hidden there and attached it to the door pad and again pressed several keys. This time the door slid open and he slipped into the room. Making his way to a control panel he removed the access hatch and proceeded to rearrange a number of isolinear chips. Signaling his success, the transporter system came online. If his skills were still as honed as he was trained, Bridge and Engineering would be unaware of his tampering. A quick look of his controls confirmed no security breaches. He quickly entered his desired coordinates and set the energizers for a ten second delay. He quickly moved to the transporter pad and had just taken his place when the transporter engaged. Seconds after he dematerialized the transporter systems shut down.
Syvok walked into the transporter room and saw the access hatch lying on the floor. With a raised eyebrow he walked over to observe the exposed control circuits. He quickly restored the isolinear chips to their original configuration and replaced the access hatch, locking the panel into place. He powered up the transporter station and ran it through a test cycle. Once the test was done, he rebooted the station wiping its previous transport logs. Satisfied that his task was completed, he shut the station down and left the transporter room.
Jace was walking by the Master System Display on his way to his quarters for the night when he saw a light blink out. He quickly accessed the display's data system and a review showed that Transporter room one had just completed a test cycle and shut down. "That is damn odd." He let out a large yawn. "I'll check you out later." He logged out of the system and left Engineering.
Dr. Elders was about to leave her office for the night when the monitor behind her desk began to beep rapidly. She did not have to look as it could be for only one patient. She quickly rushed into the recovery ward to find a couple of nurses already attending to a struggling Captain.
Dr. Elders rushed to the bed and placed a hand on the Captain's shoulder. "Easy Captain. You are alright. You are in sickbay." The Captain looked into her nurturing eyes and relaxed.
He tried his best to speak and it was a bit scratchy. "What happened?"
Dr. Elders picked up a glass of water and helped the Captain sit up enough to take a few sips. "You suffered trauma to your brain in the attack with the alien ship. I repaired the damage but you decided to take a mini vacation and sleep for a while." She smiled playfully.
"Any chance I can get, Doctor."
Ryan's Quarters several hours later
Caleb began to stir from his slumber. As the fog cleared from his mind he became aware of an arm across his shoulder. Eyes snapping open he saw Ryan. Confusion followed quickly by panic started to settle in. He went to pull away when Ryan's arm drew him back in. Another look and Caleb knew Ryan was still asleep. Caleb gasped when he looked down to find the blanket had slipped during the night exposing Ryan in all his naked glory. He took in Ryan's tanned broad shoulders down to his muscular chest covered in fine dark hair with a trail that led down to his respectable manhood. As much as he wanted to touch Ryan's body, he respected his friend too much to do so without permission. With a dejected sigh he removed himself from Ryan's arm and pulled the blanket up to cover Ryan and slipped into the bathroom.
Ryan rolled over, pulling Caleb's pillow into a bear hug. He had woken up when Caleb did but decided to pretend to sleep. He felt Caleb tense up and was afraid Caleb would panic if he knew he was awake as well. A voice from the intercom caused Ryan to half sit in the bed, resting on one elbow.
"Lieutenant Knight, report to Sickbay."
Ryan was shocked to full wakefulness and moved to jump out of bed. His feet tangled in the blanket he fell hard to the floor. The loud thump and a cry of 'Shit' brought Caleb out of the bathroom to find Ryan attempting to free himself from the bedding. Caleb could not help himself and burst out laughing. Finally getting himself free, Ryan looked at Caleb and gave him the finger. Caleb only laughed harder.
Ryan walked into the living room and finding his uniform top on the couch, he flipped the uniform and tapped the communicator. "Knight to Sickbay, I am on my way. Is Captain Knight alright?"
"The Doctor will fill you in when you arrive Lieutenant."
Ryan spun around to find Caleb holding out a clean uniform. "I think many would love to see you as is, but you would be in violation of the uniform code."
Ryan snatched the uniform and headed into the bathroom. A shiver ran down Caleb's spine as Ryan passed him. Ryan returned a few moments later to find Caleb still standing in the same place. "You alright?"
Caleb's eyes snapped upward. "Oh yeah, just not fully awake yet, I guess."
"Come on, let's get to sickbay and see what is up."
Caleb and Ryan walked into sickbay to find the staff hustling to and fro. They made their way to the Captain's room. Both stopped in their tracks when they saw the Captain sitting on the edge of the bed in uniform and a smile on his face.
"Dad!" Ryan rushed forward and grabbed his father in a big hug.
Caleb smiled at the reunion and moved closer to the bed standing next to Doctor Elders. "That is good to see." Doctor Elders glanced at Caleb and nodded. "Indeed it is."
Ryan pulled back. "When did you wake up and why are you in a uniform already?" Captain Knight nodded in the direction of the Doctor.
"He actually woke up just over 12 hours ago. And before you ask, I did not inform you because you needed some rest." Ryan tried to act annoyed with the Doctor but the smile said otherwise. "After some continued observation and some testing I found no reason to keep the Captain from returning to duty. I was just about to release him when you showed up."
"I am glad you are okay Dad. I was worried."
Captain Knight placed a hand on Ryan's shoulder. "I know son. I know. Commander Hunter has filled me in on what happened. I am proud of you and will note your actions in my log."
Ryan shrugged his shoulders. "Just Academy training kicking in. None of it would not have been possible without Caleb and the rest of the crew. They deserve more mention than me."
"Since the doctor has released me. Let's get up to the bridge and prepare for our arrival at the colony. Time to find out what is going on."
Everyone started to leave the room when Doctor Elders reached out to stop Caleb. When the other two left the room and the door closed she turned to Caleb. "Are you alright?"
Caleb seemed puzzled by the question. "Yeah, why?"
"Well, you seem more reserved than normal. You are also a bit flushed and your uniform appears to have been slept in."
"I was in Ryan's room waiting for him to get back so we could talk. I fell asleep and I just haven't changed yet."
"You love him?"
Caleb's eyes went wide and as quickly he relaxed. "Is it that obvious?"
"Maybe not to someone who does not know you. To me I see it. Tell him how you feel."
"I can't do that. Besides he is straight. You've seen him with Ensign Kriger in Ten Forward the other day. I don't want to ruin our friendship."
Doctor Elders rolled her eyes and let out a sigh. "Ugh men! Look, you need to tell him. If you don't it could cause resentment down the road and that could ruin a friendship faster than anything. Besides, love comes with risk. He might not be gay, if so do you think you telling him you are and that you love him is going to change how he thinks or feels about you?"
Caleb thought on her words. "I know he would not turn on me. Guess I am more scared of myself more so than him. I'll think on it, Doc." Dr. Elders gave Caleb a hug and together they left the room.
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