“Admiral on deck!” Called Madison from Lloyd’s right the moment Fleet Admiral Hathaway stepped on to the large hanger deck. Except for the few Starfleet officers around, no-one else stood to attention.
Smirking at the lack of formality, Hathaway waved off the callout and moved towards Lloyd and his sister. “Captains, it is good to see you both.”
“Likewise, ma’am.” Lloyd replied as he extended his hand to shake the Commander-in-Chief. Madison nodded and shook her hand after her brother. “The others in our team are securing the facility per your orders we received.” He added.
Hathaway nodded towards a young lieutenant in a blue science uniform behind her and a few seconds later a contingent of MACOs began pouring out of the cargo hold, all of them heavily armed. Other Starfleet officers followed them out. They began to scout out the area with scanners, all of them holding phase pistols.
“Ma’am, I’ll oversee them securing the base if with your permission?” Madison offered.
Again, Hathaway agreed with a nod, “Thank you Captain Burton.” She said to Madison, who quickly went to work with the new arrivals.
Hathaway looked around the large bay, staring up at the great big ships that were almost complete. “An impressive facility.” Hathaway noted. She looked back at Lloyd. “Did you find the answers you were searching for?”
“We did ma’am.” Lloyd answered with a sombre tone.
“And?” She probed.
“Unfortunately, we found out too much.” Lloyd admitted.
Hathaway had incline about what he meant by that. “And beside your father, what about the others?”
Lloyd grimaced at that question. He had sent her a secure message before her arrival. In it he had told her about his former commanding officer and the others that were stationed on the base. “Sadly ma’am, when they discovered you were coming, along with a sizable force to take the base, Karim and the others all fled. We don’t know where they’ve gone now.”
“And your father?”
“He stayed, I had Commander Hanson confine him in his quarters.” Lloyd explained. “They locked us all in our quarters before they left, those who are left on the base appear to be scientists, researchers, engineers and construction workers. Timers were set up on our doors so when they ran out our doors opened by themselves. Once we knew it was safe to leave our rooms, we made it to the central operations area and found out what they left.”
Hathaway gave out a big sigh and suggested they start to walk down the long hanger deck. “Did they leave us anything we can use to expose and remove this group of theirs from Starfleet?”
Shaking his head, Lloyd bluntly answered her. “I’m afraid not ma’am. My brother Roman took a look and he said they appeared to delete critical files that were related to any of their operations. They have an impressive computer system here. Section Thirty-One knew what they were doing.”
“Section Thirty-One?” Hathaway repeated with confusion.
Scoffing at the name they had given the group; he clarified his point. “It’s the name Seth gave them, it’s after the part of the Starfleet Charter they claim gives them the authority to do what they’ve done here.”
“Remind me to suggest to the Earth Parliament we make an amendment to the charter.” Hathaway said after groaning inwards. “What else have you found out about them?”
“Roman has been trying to access what files that weren’t deleted, but from what they’ve left behind he believes shows they were just not interested in building up a secret fleet or developing the warp seven engine. The technologies they were researching here all appeared to be geared towards covert operations and security issues.” Lloyd stated. “That said, Roman thinks the ships they have built can be completed and launched.”
Hathaway paused and took one more glance up at the Victory, the ship that Karim had tried to entice Lloyd with only hours ago. “How many do they have here?”
“At least eight ships, all Daedalus-class, are nearing completion and we’ve found components to build another two.” Lloyd reported. “We also discovered shipping requests to various other companies for more parts. Roman estimated that with those they could have built another fifteen ships.”
Crossing her arms against her chest, Hathaway considered her options and then looked up to Burton. “You’ve done an incredible job here Captain Burton, I didn’t think you investigating your father’s death would lead us to this.” She smiled, adding to her compliments. “It would seem you and your siblings are unstoppable when you work together.”
Lloyd smiled with pride at that last comment, “Thank you ma’am, but there is one matter my sister, brothers and I would like to talk to you about privately.”
“What are we going to do with your father?” She guessed.
He nodded, “I would never agree with how Karim and her fellow Section Thirty-One operatives dealt with things here. In their eyes they think that covering everything up in the shadows will help us. That all said, my father is an incredibly resourceful and talented individual. If he can crack the research into the warp seven engine, it would make such a difference to the war, but he couldn’t do that by returning from the grave.”
“So, you want us to maintain his cover-up?” Hathaway asked.
“If what Karim told us and the Romulans have a better intelligence network compared to us then I think we need to maintain the charade.” Lloyd said reluctantly. “He has the best team here on the base, that with the right oversight, I believe they could do it and help with other war-efforts.” Lloyd suggested.
“And all four of you are in agreement about this?” Hathaway enquired, mentioning his siblings.
“We are.” Lloyd said. His expression showed some pain in admitting that they would need to keep their father’s existence a secret. “If we win this war then we are going to need their expertise and we can’t put their lives at risk to do it. Plus, they know how this fleet works,” He said, gesturing towards the ships around them “they would need to train our people if we decide to use them.”
“Well Prime Minister Samuels has a plan on how we can deal with all of this,” She said gesturing towards the base, “in a couple of months, as long as the Romulans don’t invade Earth, I’ll be announcing the opening of a new shipyard here on Mars.”
Lloyd smiled; the irony of the whole situation got to him. “Perhaps call it the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards ma’am?”
Rolling her eyes at the suggestion, Hathaway joined Lloyd by smirking herself. “Maybe.” She took one more look around the bay, “Well Captain, will you show me the rest of this facility, it will be nice to know what we’ve just acquired.”
After several hours the facility was now secure under Starfleet and MACO forces. Lloyd had moved himself into Karim’s office to see if there were any clues to say where she had gone after she fled with Rossi and the others. He had given up when he had realised there was nothing left, except a small gold model of Challenger that he had smashed into half out of temper and rage. Its saucer section laid on the floor next to a broken nacelle. Staring out of the main window he hadn’t noticed one of the doors opening and his siblings entering.
“Lloyd, it’s time.” Madison said, grabbing his attention.
He turned around to look at the three of them. “Where’s dad?” He asked.
“Still being debriefed by Admiral Hathaway’s people.” Roman said.
“You want to see him?” Madison asked.
Seth quickly interjected, “Absolutely not.”
Lloyd shared his youngest brother’s anger towards their father. “I’m with Seth on that one.”
Madison looked at Roman who just shrugged his shoulders and shook his head. “I’ve said all I want to say to him.”
Nodding to show she understood, Madison cleared her throat. “Then why don’t we get out of here.”
“We’re all agreed though that we won’t tell mum any of this?” Lloyd questioned them.
Roman looked up at his older brother, “How can we? Admiral Hathaway has given us classified orders not to say anything. This whole thing is going to be kept a secret.”
“Perhaps once the war is over, maybe they will let us see him with mum.” Madison offered.
“Maybe.” Seth said and led his family out of the room, leaving Lloyd to be last.
Lloyd took one more look around the office, he looked down at the broken model, gave it a kick and quickly left. He was eager to leave all of this behind him.