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Part of Challenger: The Sky’s The Limit


Challenger NX-03
Wednesday, July 2nd, 2155
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“Come in.” Burton answered to the knocking on his office’s door that was stuck open halfway. He was currently rummaging through the mess that littered the floor from the various broken pieces of furniture and other bits and pieces that had been damaged or destroyed from the constant attacks they had endured in the past week. He still hadn’t moved to see who was there, as he reached to pick up something he spoke again. “Sorry about the mess but make yourself comfortable!” He eventually got what he was stretching for and got up from the floor. He turned around to see Stanton squeezing through the doorway.

“Don’t worry sir my quarters are just as bad, if not worse.” He remarked with a wry smile. 

Burton smiled at the small gesture of his engineer to keep the mood light between them. In the past two weeks the two men had grown close, Burton had come to depend on Stanton to fill in as Levesque’s replacement as First Officer. Stanton was doing an excellent job in her place. Pleased with his find of the photo frame he had been looking for, the Captain placed the cracked object down on his desk. He was more pleased that the photograph inside of it was still intact. It was a photo of him, and his siblings taken before Challenger’s launch at the family home in Portsmouth. “What’s on your mind Commander?” He asked as he cleared the debris that covered his chair with the back of his sleeve. He wasn’t too bothered at the dirt that now covered his sleeve. None of the crew had been able to maintain their smartness recently. It was a luxury that Burton wasn’t going to demand of them. As long as they were alive and surviving that was all that mattered.

Stanton placed his hands behind his back as he answered his captain. “Sir I think we should reconsider our strategy.”

Burton slumped into his chair with a heavy thud as he listened. He rose his feet, so they sat on the edge of his desk after reaching for a tablet. He tried to activate it but was disappointed that it wasn’t switching on. “Broken.” He muttered to himself before chucking the useless device on to his desk. He looked up at Stanton now. “What do you mean, reconsider our strategy Michael?”

“We had one week of grace after the Carreon vessel we destroyed before they began their daily attacks.” Stanton started.

Burton frowned at Stanton’s recollection. “We didn’t destroy that ship Michael. We disabled its engines, yes it’s a possibility we contributed to its destruction, but they did start this.”

Stanton conceded the captain’s point as he raised his hands in surrender. “Okay, fair point if that’s how you want to view it. Then we had one week after that where they couldn’t find us, which gave us time to do some repairs. Suffice to say sir, they’ve been on our tail ever since and we have yet to lose them.”

“Not yet, but with every attack we are able to overwhelm them quicker than the previous ones. T’Plau has been able to learn a lot about them, especially their weaknesses.” Burton stated with conviction.

“I know sir, but there isn’t going to be much of a ship left at this rate to defend.” Stanton said down at his superior officer.

“Your idea Commander?” Burton asked, wanting him to get straight to what he wanted to say to him since he entered the room.

Stanton took a breath in. “The communication array is back up and running, we should try and send a message to some friendlies, see if we can get some help.”

Burton shook his head. “No, the moment we transmit the easier of a target we become for them. We keep to a strict radio silence unless a friendly ship passes close enough to us to see them. I’m not going to rest our survival on the slim chance a friendly ship will be able to reach us before another Carreon attack craft is able to find us.”

“But sir, we can’t keep this up.” Stanton said, sounding almost defeated.

“As long as the ship is still together Michael we fight on.” Burton said in a strong tone. “Is that clear?”

Stanton sighed. “Crystal clear sir.”

Burton stood up to face his acting first officer. “I don’t like it this any more than the rest of the crew does but I’m not going to give up hope. The Carreons aren’t as advanced as we are. We can do this.”

The intercom went off and T’Plau’s calm logical voice followed it. “Tactical Alert. We’re under attack. Two Carreon vessels off the port bow.”

Burton pushed himself through the door frame to get to the bridge with Stanton behind him. As the ship began to tremble from the enemy ships’ weapons the photo frame that Burton had put back up on his desk began to vibrate viciously across the desk until it reached the edge. Like a falling tear, the frame landed on the deck plate with a mighty crash as the glass and frame broke into pieces, just leaving the photograph of the Burton siblings laying among the ruins.

Rushing out on to the bridge, Burton saw that T’Plau was at the armoury station, studying what was happening and responding to the enemy ships by returning fire. Ensign Conrad was already piloting the ship in a series of evasive manoeuvres, most of them he had designed himself since this had all began. Stanton instantly moved himself over to the science station and took his place, still covering for Levesque when he could. 

“Report?” Burton asked as he sat down in his chair.

“We’re keeping ahead of them.” Conrad reported.

“Their attack is unusual.” T’Plau added as one of her eyebrows rose in curiosity. “Fascinating.” 

Burton waited for her to elaborate further. “Sub Commander what’s going on?”

“Several more shots and I’ll be able to disable both ships in a matter of seconds sir.” She answered. “Their defensives aren’t completely operational and I’m detecting a number of failing systems on both ships.”

“Maybe they’re damaged?” Stanton offered up a reason.

“Then why attack us?” Conrad countered with.

Interested in the puzzle before him, Burton stood up and walked around to see T’Plau’s results. “Fascinating indeed.” He said as he saw the same things she saw. 

“Sir I’m detecting an incoming transmission from one of the Carreon ships.” Hennessey told them as he dropped his normal hand against his earpiece to look at the other senior bridge crew.

“Put it up.” Burton ordered as he returned to his chair.

The distorted image of a Carreon captain appeared. “Please don’t…we cannot…our ship…computer systems are not under our…” The transmission was cut instantly, and the blurred image of a different Carreon male appeared. Burton squinted his eyes as he recognised the man instantly as it cleared up. It was the same Carreon captain they spoke to over two weeks ago. How could it be, unless the man had a twin or a clone? His image seemed paused and then it came to life. “…your presence in this region is provocation enough!” He shouted in mid-sentence at Burton in the same tone he had two weeks ago. Confused as to what was going on, Burton was about to reply when the image went off the main screen.

An alarm went off at the science station. “Sir both Carreon ships’ warp cores are going critical!”

“Damn!” Burton mumbled. Challenger’s own warp drive was offline. “Jack get us out of here full impulse!”

“Full impulse, aye sir.” The pilot said and instantaneously pushed the ship’s sub-light engines to max. 

Challenger moved away from the Carreon vessels and cleared the blast radius as both ships went up in multiple balls of flames.

Once everything calmed down, Burton cleared his throat. “Does anyone want to stab a guess as to what the hell just happened there?”

It was obvious he wasn’t going to get an immediate response from anyone, they were all dumbfounded at the scene that had just evolved before them like he was. 

“Sir,” Conrad spoke up interrupting the silence that had fallen on to the bridge. “I’ve just picked up a ship entering warp on the edge of our long-range sensors.”

Burton sat up at that news. “Can we identify their warp profile?” He asked.

Frowning at what the computer was telling him, Conrad answered. “I’m hoping the computer is suffering from a glitch because if it’s not sir we may be in more trouble than we thought.”

“How worse could it get?” Hennessey asked.

“A lot more Ned.” The pilot said as he twisted his chair round to face the captain. “The warp profile is a Romulan one sir.”

“Romulan?” Burton repeated in amazement. They hadn’t seen a single Romulan craft since the Docana incident. What the hell would they be out here for? Scratching his dirty stubble, he handed out his orders. “Ensign Hennessey, Sub Commander T’Plau, go over every second of that engagement including the transmission. Try to determine what the hell was happening with the Carreons and why the same opening hail we received a couple of weeks ago was repeated. Commander Stanton, carry on with repairs. Ensign Conrad, maintain our heading to that Minshara planet.”

They all acknowledged him in their own way and got on with their work. Burton decided he would remain on the bridge for a bit more to lend a hand with repairs. In the back of his mind he was trying to figure out what was going on, but he knew they were missing a piece to the puzzle, he hoped that T’Plau and Hennessey could find it.

When fatigued finally took over the good Ro-fa, it had beaten her to the point she could no longer keep her eyes open for long. Ben-Ami had taken herself to the mess hall to grab a mug of coffee and a snack of some sort. She was finally off duty and was looking forward to resting in her own bed soon. The thirty-nine-year-old physician had learnt from her time in the Israel Defence Force that during times of crisis one needed to keep their wits about themselves, which included ensuring they rested to remain extra vigilant. For her, she knew she needed her rest and her first few years at Starfleet Training Command had reminded her of that. 

Entering the mess hall, she wasn’t surprised to see it in such a damaged state. It was a low-key area that didn’t require the attention of any of Commander Stanton’s damage control teams. It was evident though that Chef Lawson and her team of stewards were doing their best to keep the room as tidy as they could. Ben-Ami had heard that a fire had broken out in the last attack and Lawson had fought it back along with a few others. The shard remains of several chairs were left crumpled in one of the corners while what was left was arranged in the least damaged areas. 

Ben-Ami noticed that Chef had left several pots of coffee, tea and other cool drinks out for the crew to help themselves too as the beverage dispenser was currently non-operational. Picking up an empty mug, the chief medical officer tested the pots to see which one was the heaviest and hottest before pulling herself a warm looking mug of coffee.  The mess hall had been empty giving her plenty of choice of where to sit. She headed towards the nearest table to her and sat down in the chair that was opposite the view ports. Slowly sipping on her drink, Ben-Ami took in several breaths hoping to gain some composure after having to spend so long in sickbay recently. She had never dealt with so much triage on the go. She counted her blessings and thought that they had not lost a single soul. It was certainly a miracle in her eyes. She was interrupted with her trail of thoughts with the arrival of Chef Lawson.

“Montana, how are things going?” Ben-Ami greeted through asking.

The African American woman looked up at her name being called and swiftly placed the tray of food she was carrying down by the wall that had all of the serving hatches in it. “As well as it can be, thank you Lieutenant.” Lawson replied using Ben-Ami’s rank instead of title. “How are you doing?” She asked back.

 In between sips Ben-Ami answered. “Just taking a break before heading home to get some needed rest.”

“I’m sure you’ve deserved it.” Lawson remarked as she made her way over to the doctor and took a seat next to her. “How’s the crew holding up?”

“Well, surprisingly.” Ben-Ami said before taking another eager sip. “We’ve been patching them up and sending those who can return to duty back out.”

Lawson chuckled. “Yes, I sent Crewmember Romanoff to you earlier today with a cut on her hand. She returned half an hour with a bandage on it and told me to keep the cut clean.”

“Unfortunately, my osmotic eels have been in high demand lately and need to rest.” Ben-Ami stated. “I’m certain Crewmember Romanoff will be able to keep her hand clean to allow the wound to heal.”

“I hope so, I would hate to lose my Sous-Chef.” Lawson mentioned as she relaxed in her chair a bit more. “It made me think about something earlier on how we could help you guys out.”


“Sickbay and the recovery wards need to be filled with those that need the most critical care, yeah?” Lawson enquired. 

“In best practice yes, but we don’t have the room or the manpower to-” Ben-Ami started with before being stopped by Lawson raising her right hand.

“Stop there my good Ro-fa.” She said. “How about we use the mess hall as a triage centre to deal with those that need only first aid or need to recover. I can get some of the MACOs to set up bunks and the stewards and I could care for them.”

Ben-Ami considered the idea for a moment. “What about serving up food? Where will the crew go for that?”

Lawson appeared to deflate. “Sadly, my kitchen is almost destroyed, the hydroponic bay was exposed to the vacuum of space two days ago and most of our crops were destroyed in the attack. By tomorrow morning we will be going to emergency rations.”

“Damn.” Ben-Ami said after swallowing a sip of her coffee. “I didn’t know.”

“You’ve been busy with sickbay, but the Captain told me not to tell anyone until tomorrow.” Lawson explained. “So, I’ve got a room and a staff unable to do much except hand out ration packs, do you want a hand in caring for our injured?”

“Chef that sounds like a great idea to me.” Ben-Ami replied. “I’ll get Corporal Jenkins to run the triage centre, he’s definitely able to and he can share his training with your staff so they can help do some of the basics.”

Lawson stood up. “Excellent, let me know when you want to get started.” She looked down at the medical officer. “I’ll leave you to your coffee.”

“Thanks.” Ben-Ami said as she watched the ship’s cook walk out of the room.

“Sensor logs are coming up now.” T’Plau said as she worked at the main controls in the Command Centre. 

Captain Burton was sat on the edge of the table in the middle of the room, looking up at the large wall monitor as T’Plau loaded up what she wanted to show him. Behind her at an auxiliary control unit, Ensign Hennessey stood working on what he was doing. Burton had been called down to see them both after they had been working on their Carreon puzzle for the past four hours. Burton could feel the muscles in his body aching and screaming out at him to take a rest, but his mind was silencing them as he needed to know what had happened earlier that day. T’Plau had seemed confident they had the answers he wanted.

“I am displaying the scans of the Carreon ships we took of them during the battle.” T’Plau clarified as various windows popped up on the screen with different readings. “As you can see sir there is a significant difference in power output before they opened fire on us.”

Burton winced his eyes to pay attention to what the Vulcan armoury officer was saying. “You’re saying that once they engaged us things changed on their end?”

“Indeed.” She answered. “Before we returned fire their ships seemed perfectly operational however zero point zero seven seconds before the engagement began both ships suffered computer malfunctions. There is no evidence of any damage on either ship prior too.”

“So, what happened?” Burton quizzed as he looked over his left shoulder at T’Plau.

“Mister Hennessey,” T’Plau said motioning for the communications officer to step forward.

“Sensors detected a low-level communication frequency being connected to both ships.” Hennessey reported. He tapped a button on the console he was using and displayed the frequency pattern on the large wall monitor. 

Burton had turned to see what Hennessey was showing them. He stared at the frequency and then at the sensor logs of both ships for a little while longer before Hennessey spoke up again.

“Our web of mystery became more complex as we untwined another piece.” Hennessey said as he pulled up another log, this time it was of the garbled recording of the Carreon captain talking to Burton. “Sir their transmission was being disrupted by the same frequency that connected both ships’ computers.”

Rubbing his chin as he considered what he was being told, Captain Burton stood up now to look at what his two officers had uncovered. “So basically, what you’re saying is…”

“…the Carreons were not in control of their ships.” T’Plau finished.

Burton, shocked at the news, had looked at them as T’Plau spoke and now raised his eyebrows to show his surprise at their revelations. “So, the question remains. What caused them to lose computer control?”

“The better question would be who was controlling them and stopping them from contacting us?” T’Plau interjected. “Based on the fact we have before us, I believe the Carreons were trying to retake back control of their ship, hence the erratic sensor readings of their computer systems and the corrupted message you received from their captain.” 

“Whoever had control of their ship didn’t want the Carreons to retake it, so they most likely destroyed them.” Hennessey added. “Especially when they realised, they made a faux pas when they showed us the pre-recorded message of the first opening hail, they sent us a couple of weeks ago. It was a pre-recorded message.”

Burton nodded in agreement with their assessment. “It would seem that whomever did this has the ability to manipulate the Carreon fleet quite easily.”

“They could be using them to attack the Deltans, perhaps push both sides to the brink of war with each other.” T’Plau theorised. 

 “Indeed.” Burton said. He started to feel angry at the idea of someone else using other innocent civilisations as their own pawns in their games. He wondered if somehow his own ship was part of this elaborate game or was just stuck in the crossfire of it all.

“The only other available evidence to us is Ensign Conrad’s detection of the fleeing Romulan ship.” T’Plau said. “It is a possibility sir they have developed the means of taking over the Carreon ships.”

“Which is something we don’t need.” Burton said turning to look at both of them. “Well done for finding this all out. Is there any way we can defend ourselves against a computer attack?”

Hennessey shrugged his shoulders. “Without knowing the basic principles behind the underlying technology, I wouldn’t know where to start sir.”

“However, we may be able to install a number of defence buffers into the ship’s computer systems. I would also recommend completely deactivating and uninstalling the transceiver array from the rest of the ship’s computer systems.” T’Plau suggested. “We need an independent communication array that has no links with other systems to prevent them from being compromised. Our communication array is the most logical source to be attacked first to gain computer access.”

“Okay get a team on it.” Burton ordered as he turned back to take one more last look at their findings. He pondered for a moment, was this some new Romulan tactic or was someone else deceiving them? The question remained why though. “Keep me informed.” He said leaving them both.

Taking time to have a break was a luxury. Well that’s what Corporal Jenkins considered when he finally rested his head down on his bed and closed his eyes. He hadn’t been able to rest his feet in what felt like a long time. He had been doing double, and in some cases triple, shifts in sickbay to help out with the injured crew. Doctor Ben-Ami had told him that he was going to take charge of their new triage centre in the mess hall, so for the past three hours he had been working with others to set it all up. It was now fully operational and now waited for the next lot of patients to enter it. He prayed deeply to whatever God was listening to him, that they would not be attacked again today. A break from the constant assaults would be a welcome to them all.

Laying with his head down he turned slightly to his left and a sudden feeling of guilt and grief engulfed him. For the past three and a half weeks he had yet been able to realise that his fiancé was not with him at the moment. His heart ached not knowing where Niall was or how he was doing. He hoped dearly that he was safe still on Delta with the others and that they would see each other soon. He extended his hand out across the bed and with the main lights out he felt beneath his fingertips something soft. Knowing what it was straight away, he pulled at the piece of clothing and automatically put it on over his head. It was one of Niall’s jumpers, it was a lot baggier than his own, however the idea that his other half was this close to him in some way was reassuring to him.

Two knocks echoed through the room from the doorway. He looked over to it and simply shouted in response. “Come in.”

The door was pushed open as Second Lieutenant Trommler made his appearance. “There you are Liam.” He said pleased at the idea of finding his fellow MACO.

Jenkins pushed himself up on to his elbows and looked down at his squad leader and superior officer. “Is there something you need from me sir?”

The young German shook his head. “Nein, I heard you pulled three shifts in a row earlier, I was coming down here to ensure you were taking a break.”

“Chef Lawson threatened to beat me senseless with one of her pans if I didn’t leave the crew lounge for a few hours of sleep!” He stated.

Trommler chuckled at the idea of their head cook hitting Jenkins with her favourite cooking pan. “Glad to hear you’re taking her advice. I don’t want you back on duty until you’ve had at least six hours of sleep. Is that clear Corporal?”

Jenkins just nodded.

“Good,” Trommler said. “Sleep well Liam.” He added before exiting Jenkins’ quarters.

Jenkins dropped his entire body back on to his bed and quickly found it easy to close his eyes and enjoy his well-deserved rest.

“How are we doing Michael?” Captain Burton asked as he entered Main Engineering. The entire room was filled with repair crews, all busy fixing blown systems and fallen bulkheads. The warp core sat in the middle of the room, dead like a burnt-out candle. The sight of it brought a twisting feeling to Burton’s gut. He hated seeing that their main source of power was lifeless. It made him realise just how vulnerable they were. How without it his crew were lost from home. It would take them years to get back home without it (or getting a tow back). 

“The port nacelle is a lost cause sir.” The Chief Engineer glumly replied as he climbed down from the upper level. As he approached his superior officer he continued to talk. “We’re attempting to repair the starboard nacelle.”

Burton, who had crossed his arms and was now leaning against one of the workstations, sighed heavily at the news. “How long?”

Stanton grimaced before answering. “I’m sorry sir, but if we were docked at the Obama Repair Facility, we would be looking at less than a week’s work. For us out here and with the state we are in then it’s going to be at least three weeks, maybe more.”

Burton rolled his eyes at the bad news. “And the power grid?”

“Up to thirty-three percent, we think we may be able to get it up to fifty but that’ll be another two days as long as we’re not attacked.” Stanton answered.

Rolling his body so his forehead was leaning against the nearest bulkhead, Burton groaned inwards. “This is going to take us ages.” He said as he rolled backwards to look at the engineer.

“I’m afraid so sir.” Stanton said. 

The two senior officers remained there for a little while longer, not saying anything as they considered their options.

“Keep me posted on how things are going.” Burton finally said as he decided he would leave his acting first officer to carry on with fixing their ship back together.

Stanton nodded in sympathy for his captain. “I will sir.”

Once Burton had left, Stanton’s two most senior engineers, Masuko and Metaxas, approached him. Stanton looked at them, they too looked like everyone else with their filthy appearance, if anyone from Earth had seen them they would have imagined they had been working deep in the Luna mines with the amount of dirt and sweat that covered their faces and uniforms. 

“How was the captain?” Metaxas asked after Burton had closed the large hatch door behind him. 

“Frustrated.” Stanton answered before turning on his heels to return back to work, the two engineers following close behind him. “Which is understandable.”

“Well we’ve got some good news.” Masuko announced. “The entire weapons array will be back online within the hour. All phase cannons, minus the destroyed one, will be fully charged and ready to use while the forward torpedo launchers will be operational too.”

Stanton scratched his beard at the update. “What about the aft launchers?”

Metaxas shook his head. “We’re having a number of issues with burnt out power relays in getting them operational again. Sub Commander T’Plau’s teams are working on it with our people, but they can’t see it being fixed for at least

another two days.”

“Well let’s hope the good Sub Commander doesn’t come to count on using them during a battle.” Stanton said as he stopped by one of the side workstations by the warp core. “Anything else?”

“Environmental controls on B Deck are online again.” Masuko shared.

“Good, keep going.” Stanton said as he began to stare at the console, attempting to load up a warp core diagnostic. 

“We think we may be able to get the hull plating polarisation grid back to eighty percent however we’re having problems with the deflector dish.” Metaxas stated.

“What sort of problems?” Stanton asked as he looked up at the young Greek man.

“Power to the particle emitters is constantly fluctuating, we are unable to stabilise it above seventy percent effectiveness. I’ve got a team attempting to determine what is causing the issue.” Metaxas said. 

“Okay.” Stanton said, feeling just as deflated as the captains looked only moments ago. “Anything else good?”

The two engineers looked at each other and Masuko answered for them both. “Not at the moment sir.”

“Carry on then.” He commanded and soon they left him by himself. Stanton was glad to receive some time by himself. He hadn’t had the luxury for some time. Being alone to think about other things except damaged systems was what he craved for. Now that he was alone and deep in thought about the issue around the warp core, he considered for a moment that he had yet to stop and think about when he last put a message together for Alex, his partner, or the rest of his family back on Earth. With the communication array now completely offline he wondered when he would next be able to talk to any of them. Then a black idea entered his lonely mind, what if he never had a chance to speak to them again? Would he survive the current situation Challenger was in and get back to Earth? He shook his head and soon snapped out his negative mood, he knew such thoughts were dangerous and he needed to concentrate on his work which meant doing his best to fix the ship back together so he would make it back to Earth in one piece. He owed it to those he left behind.

Ambhat City, Delta IV


“Good Evening, tonight I report to the Deltan people about an attack that has taken place against our forces defending Brannik Four by the Carreons. Our armed services were able to repel the assault, but the cost was a high one as both sides fought to a mutual destruction. Some of our service men and women were able to flee in lifeboats from their ships and were rescued by emergency services on Brannik. This terrible attack against Deltan sovereignty will not go unpunished. I have decided to send in elements of the Deltan Star Guard into Carreon territory to take out what our intelligence services have confirmed as military targets that are considered viable threats to our national security. The War Powers Act requires me to notify the Assembly of my decision and I have already met with Assembly Leadership to discuss this. Our Assembly will meet in an emergency meeting tomorrow morning to vote on the official declaration of war against the Imperial Realms of Carrea. These last few weeks of hostilities with our Carreon neighbours can now no longer go on without a firm response. Our diplomats have been trying to find a peaceful resolution, but their attempts of contact have only received silence from the Carreon leadership. We have pleaded with them to join us in a cease-fire however our requests have been ignored. I cannot let the Deltan people suffer anymore and as Commander-in-Chief I will order our military to defend our brave union in these dark times. I ask all Deltans to pray for those brave soldiers who have put their lives on the lines for our freedom and security. Please keep their loved ones in your thoughts as they go to work on putting a stop to these unprovoked attacks against our way of life. Thank you and may the Infinite Oneness bless us and the Union.”

The video feed of Prime Minister An’die talking from his offices stopped and was followed by the emblem of the Deltan government. Sat around in their penthouse suite, the Challenger crew were speechless at the news they had just viewed.

“Well that’s just great.” Huffed Ensign Habiba sarcastically from the bar stool she sat on.

Commander Levesque couldn’t blame the Challenger’s Second Science Officer’s reaction. They had been stuck on Delta for over a fortnight now and the excitement of getting to know the Deltans better was starting to fade away amongst the nine of them. Levesque herself was finding it difficult to keep the enthusiasm between them going until they were rescued.

“I’m surprised it’s taken them this long to declare war.” Harris remarked from the sofa that he shared with Ensign Stewart. The two men had been deep in a game of the three-dimensional chess they had been taught by their Deltan guests. He had just picked up a piece and placed it on the second board up.

Stewart winced his head slightly as he considered the move that Harris had just taken. “Have you not learnt anything since we got here Jamie?” He asked the yeoman as he kept his focus on the game before him. 

“Yeah I’ve learnt not to visit any bars with you late at night that has a lot of young sexually active Deltans in it!” Harris countered back with as he reached for the glass of water that sat on the same table as the chessboard.

 The group of crewmates all laughed at that comment. Two days prior both men had decided to have a night out, being the only males in the group they had decided to call it a “Boys Night Out”. They had returned, both drunk, in the early hours of the morning the next day but had reported they had been propositioned by a number of Deltans to join in with their evening entertainment. 

“I didn’t hear you complaining when we went in there!” Stewart responded with. “Anyway, the point I was trying to make was that the Deltans are a passionate people about peace.”

“How have you worked that one out?” Harris asked.

Levesque enjoyed watching the exchange between the two men but decided to return her attention to the news broadcast currently being shown on the large flat screen wall monitor that hung on the opposite wall to where they all sat. The newsreader was talking about how the Deltan Star Guard, the Deltan Union’s version of Starfleet and MACOs, were preparing to redeploy their forces to retaliate against the Carreons. Some specialist was sitting with them in the studio debating over the possible targets they would take. 

“What do you think, Commander?” 

Levesque snapped herself out of her focus and looked at Habiba who had asked her the question. “Sorry Martha, what do I think about what?”

“About what Niall and Jamie were saying about the Deltans being like Vulcans in their response to conflict.” She answered.

Levesque, who had been sitting comfortably on one of the sofas in their living area, pulled her legs up closer to her as she considered her answer. “I don’t think they are.” She said.

“How comes ma’am?” Stewart asked as he sat back in his armchair. 

“I think they’re more like us.” Levesque stated. “They’re explorers like us but aren’t afraid to defend themselves if provoked. Now we may not know the entire history of their issues with the Carreons, but from what we’ve observed so far, they aren’t the aggressors in this. Do you really think the Earth would stand still if, say Starfleet lost all of its forces defending Vega?”

The group of officers all went silent as they considered the grim idea. Harris was first to respond. “Ever since the Xindi attack I don’t think Starfleet will ever return to its complete commitment to just engaging in peaceful exploration.”

Stewart rested back in the corner of the sofa he was on. “If there’s anything we’ve learnt since Enterprise launched is the galaxy isn’t a peaceful place that we expected it to be.”

“And this corner of it is another true example of that.” Habiba remarked solemnly. 

At this point Levesque felt a bit cross at the low morale her crew were now displaying. “Well then it’s our duty to share hope and set an example to these people.” She finally got up from where she was and walked out of the room leaving them all to contemplate her words. Levesque made a promise to herself that she would do whatever it took to accomplish their mission, even if she had to do it by herself and it took the rest of her life to achieve it.