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Part of Challenger: The Romulan War: A Shot In The Dark


Challenger NX-03
Thursday, October 30th, 2155
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Being greeted with a mug of hot coffee was definitely a satisfying shock for Commander Stanton. He had just been woken up by a call from Burton saying they had found the Discovery and he wanted the senior staff on the bridge within the hour. So, after a quick shower and a change into a fresh uniform, the first officer and chief engineer had decided to make his way up to the bridge and was pleasantly surprised to find Lieutenant Commander Sandoval standing outside with the drink ready for him.

“Morning Mike,” She said with a grin as she handed him the mug. “I heard you had spent most of the day on the bridge, so I figured you would appreciate a mug of this.”

Stanton was starting to like the fact that he had convinced Burton to bring Sandoval on board. Her presence on the ship was a welcomed one as she brought a new side to the command department – it also meant that the gamma duty shift could be ran by someone else who wasn’t a department head, giving everyone a chance to recover and be fresher for their duties. He and Sandoval had taught together at STC for some time, she was also close with Alex, so it was good to have someone else on the ship that cared for what had happened to him and the rest of the Discovery

“Thank you, Rosa.” He said to his friend as they started to walk down the corridor towards the nearest lift. Along the way he took several sips of the hot beverage. “Have we heard anything from them yet?” He asked, referring to the Discovery.

Shaking her head at first, she led the way down the corridor before taking a left down a much shorter one. That was the only nuisance about some of the senior officer’s quarters. The ones that were on E deck were all housed on the outer circumference, mainly so they had a window to look out of, but it meant they were further away from the lift. Their quick steps made their journey a little bit bearable. “No, the captain wants to wait until we are in visual range.” She went on to explain the captain’s thinking, “He doesn’t want to give away their position, just in case there are more Romulan ships between us and them.”

“Sensible.” Stanton agreed as he finished the contents of his mug and turned again to the left before making a right, walking past the small area designated the ‘barber’s shop’. Passing more quarters, they made another left and were almost at the lift. As they were passing the atmosphere processors it suddenly dawned on Stanton that he may be faced with seeing the destruction of the Discovery, or he’ll find out from someone that his husband is dead. Dread filled him.

Lucky for him, Sandoval had got to know him well enough she could read him like a book. The many nights while at STC they spent together planning their lectures and lessons had meant they knew each other well. So straight away Sandoval took hold of Stanton’s free hand and grabbed it out of a sense of support and reassurance. “We’ll find him, I’ve got a good feeling on this one.”

“I know, I know.” Stanton said as they finally approached the lift. “I never thought the two of us being in Starfleet together would ever make me feel this anxious. I’ve never felt like this before Rosa.”

“You weren’t married before.” Sandoval said as the door to the lift opened swiftly and they entered it. She looked at her friend after tapping in the command to take them to the top deck. “Trust me, when you’re married it makes you do, think and feel crazy things. Just remember, I’ve been there and done that three times now. This is perfectly normal. If not, you know I’m here for you, whatever the situation you face. We’ll do it together.”

Stanton nodded in agreement with his friend’s assessment of his situation. He had met Sandoval shortly after she had married her second wife; her two previous marriages had ended in divorces. Her first marriage, she caught her husband cheating on her with her cousin. During her second marriage, her wife had decided to become a nun. Marriage number three had lasted only a few months, when her wife had become seriously ill and died of cancer. Even though there had been a cure, the cancer had not been picked up on and she died very suddenly. Stanton and Rodham had helped Sandoval deal with the loss of her wife. It was another reason why Sandoval had agreed to his offer to join Challenger. She knew her wife would have wanted her to see the stars again. 

The doors to the bridge opened and the two senior officers stepped out.

Zipping up his jumpsuit’s collar, Fleet Captain Burton made his way from his ready room to the bridge (yawning in between steps). He had finally nodded off and reckoned he got about two hours of sleep before he got the call from the bridge. Their journey to meet up with Discovery had been brief but had given him time to finish off reading the last stack of status reports that had been bugging him for some time now.

Glad to see that some of the senior staff had reported to duty while he was in his office, he made his way over to his chair and sat down. “Report?” He asked aloud.

Commander Stanton was sat at the armoury station, a rare site to see, while Sandoval was covering the science station. Lieutenants Conrad and Hennessy were at their respective stations while Doctor Ben-Ami stood waiting patiently between Burton’s chair and the situation room. Stanton answered their Captain. “We’re making our final approach now, sir.” 

“Jack, go to full impulse.” Burton commanded his pilot.

Nodding in acknowledgment, the young lieutenant flew his hands over the flight controls and took the ship to sub-light speeds. Challenger gracefully dropped out of warp, but without any stars to whizz pass the whole scene appeared somewhat substandard.

Before them now was the mighty image of the Discovery NX-04. The ship appeared to be locked in a fierce battle with two Romulan ships while a third was attached at the starboard docking port. 

“Marauder drone ships,” Burton said, instantly recognising the type of ships the Romulans were using. “Scan for any telepresence signals.” He ordered. The type of ships were the same ones Enterprise had dealt with last year when a number of ships, including allied ones, had been attacked by a drone ship pretending to be others. Commodore Archer and his crew had stopped the Romulans from starting a war between Andoria and Tellar as well as one between Earth and the Rigel worlds. During the incident, Enterprise’s crew had learnt how the Romulans were using their ships from a long range. They had been able to disrupt their controls and after further analysis by Starfleet Science and Starfleet Tactical, all Starfleet ships now possessed the ability to scramble the frequency through their main deflector. However Starfleet had yet to come up with a countermeasure to the Romulans using a more advanced version of the technology to capture ships.

Sandoval looked down at the science station once and then back up to Fleet Captain Burton and told him there were no signals. The drones appeared to be operating on autopilot, they weren’t as quick or as responsive compared to what Enterprise had endured. 

“Tactical alert then!” Burton ordered. “Take us in hot Jack, Michael, open fire on the attackers at once.”

Helping its sister ship, Challenger open fired on their enemy and scored a direct hit on one of the attackers, but the drone ships were quick to move and hard to hit. Eventually the battle was complete, claiming a Starfleet victory with Challenger barely taking much bruising from her fight. 

“Hail Discovery.” Burton commanded as he felt his heart rate start to slow down. The adrenaline rush from the battle was subsiding, his focus was now to find out what happened to the ship and why a Romulan ship was docked with it. 

Hennessey, who had already anticipated the captain’s orders, had his fingers hovering over his right ear as he tried to communicate with the other NX-class ship. He struggled for some time and then looked to the captain, shaking his head. “No-one is picking up sir.”

Leaning forward in his chair, Burton rubbed his chin as he considered their options. He looked to Stanton, “Life-signs and what’s its status?” He asked his first officer. 

“I am detecting heavy damage, most of the primary systems are offline, some minor hull breaches and there are people over there alive.” Stanton reported as he looked up from the readouts. 

“Jack,” Burton said looking back down at his pilot, “take us in and dock with them. Michael, prepare teams to board the ship. Let’s see what we can do to help.”

“Aye sir.” Stanton said with a hint of hope in his voice.

Discovery NX-04


Boarding the Discovery, Major Yu moved swiftly through the almost identical corridors of their sister ship. Leading her team along E deck, it hadn’t taken long for Yu to distinguish the differences between Challenger and Discovery. The two had been built, almost side by side, yet there were a number of visual differences of the interior décor. Stanton had briefed everyone about the subtle differences that Captain Müller had made to the ship. Discovery’s main colour scheme appeared to be a range of golds and burgundy reds across most things, especially the doors. She slightly liked it, compared to the Challenger’s blues, turquoises, greys and silvers. 

The corridor of E deck was pretty much in darkness, besides the emergency lighting, the gravity plating appeared to be slightly reduced. Yu felt her footing feel a lot lighter. Taking out her communicator, she spoke into it informing the others that would be following her momentarily. Behind her was a number of teams ready to explore the Discovery to secure her and help the crew out. Pushing through the airlock with their own teams were Captain Burton and Commander Stanton. 

“All secure sir.” Yu reported to her superiors.

“Good,” Burton responded, “Okay listen up people. Alpha team you’re with me leading to the bridge first while Commander Stanton leads Beta team to engineering. Gamma and Delta will proceed to sickbay and the starboard docking port respectively. While Epsilon, Zeta and Theta teams will begin a ship-wide search for survivors and begin moving anyone who is critically injured back to Challenger. Any questions?”

Everyone that waited in the airlock to join Burton and the MACO squad didn’t say a thing. They were keen to move forward and get on with their job. Pleased to see everyone was motivated, Burton told them to move out. He looked to Major Yu, “Viktoria, let’s go.”

“Yes sir.” She responded and moved ahead of the captain as they made their way towards the nearest access tunnel to climb four decks up.

Stanton’s team didn’t have to move far to bump into crewmembers that belonged to the Discovery. They found a group who were trapped between an emergency bulkhead and a fire. Stanton’s team quickly put out the fire and were able to assist them. Extending his hand out towards one of the women, who wore a blue science trimmed uniform with the rank of ensign, he greeted her as soon as she was safe. “I’m Commander Stant-”

“Stanton,” She finished his sentence. “It’s me sir, Greta.”

Wincing slightly, Stanton soon realised who it was. The darkness and the smoke had made it impossible at first. “Ensign Russo, it’s good to see you.” He said, speaking to Discovery’s chief communication officer. “Are you okay?”

Pushing back her messy, short brown hair, the linguistic expert nodded. “I’m fine sir, thank you, but the ship is in bad damage. The captain ordered us to abandon ship but I don’t think any of the escape pods launched.”

Confirming her hunch, Stanton told her what happened and that they were there to help now. “Can you tell me where Command Rodham is?”

She nodded, “Yeah he was ahead to get on the Prowler. He was trying to get it to work with Commanders Burton and Wallis.”

“The Prowler?” Stanton quizzed her.

The communication officer explained it was the name they had given to their trophy from the Romulans. “We hated calling it the drone ship, so Commander Burton nicknamed it the Prowler.”

“Okay, let’s get you to somewhere safe and then we’re going to get the ship back to how it should be.” Stanton said, but under his breath he was cursing his husband for meddling in with a Romulan ship. He bloody hoped he was still alive. Nevertheless he still had to get to engineering to ensure Discovery didn’t blow up.

Pushing the door open with all of his strength, Burton was relieved when Major Yu had dropped her rifle to assist. Eventually the door that led from the small corridor aft of the situation room, gave in and clicked into a locked position allowing them to enter the bridge. It was an absolute mess. No main lights on, there was smoke spilling out from damaged conduits and there was a fire coming from the engineering station.

Yu immediately ordered Sergeant Hardberger and Corporal Min-Gyu to deal with the fire. The two MACOs dashed across the room, the tall German sergeant picked up a fire extinguisher on his way over and both began to tackle the blaze. While they did this, they found only two survivors on the bridge. A young man sat at the helm, who Burton knew was not Commander Rodham, and eventually his old classmate. Leaving Yu to assist the pilot who was dazed and barely conscious, Burton made his way over to the centre chair to find Frank Müller, barely breathing and awake. He was holding tightly to the arms of his chair. 

Taking out his medical scanner, Burton relied on the brief first aid knowledge he had to assist the Discovery’s skipper.

“You’re a sight for sore eyes.” Spoke the familiar German voice that Burton knew well.  Müller coughed a few times. “My crew, are they safe? Did they make it off the ship?”

Shaking his head to answer, Burton spoke to him. “Frank, I’m not sure what you’re talking about but we are here helping everyone and securing Discovery.”

“I ordered the crew to abandon ship.” Müller added, trying his best to catch his breath. He placed his right hand on his chest to support himself. 

Peering down at his medical scanner, Burton could see that Müller’s lungs were damaged. Probably from the gasses he had been inhaling from the ruptured conduits. “Frank, all of the escape pods are still here. No-one left, but we fought off the Romulans for you.”

Nodding sluggishly, Müller smirked up at his friend. “Don’t think this puts me back in your debt Lloyd.”

Grinning back at that comment, Burton countered back carefully as he injected Müller with some pain relief. “No, you still owe me for borrowing my chief engineer on your last mission.”

“You stole mine first.” 

Leaning his head slightly to the right, Burton snapped back in a friendly tone. “He’s my brother, I’m allowed to borrow him.”

Müller tried to laugh but stopped as the pain hit him from his attempt. “I’ve got to secure my ship and the Prowler.”

“Leave that to us.” Burton said in a sterner tone as he pushed Müller back into his chair. “I’m assuming this Prowler is what is docked with you?”

“Call it the spoils of war.” Müller said with a sense of pride in his voice and across his face.

“Well we can compare notes later. I need to get you out of here.” Burton said and turned around to grab one of the MACOs’ attention, but before he had a chance, Müller pulled on his shoulder. 

“No, I’m not leaving my bridge.” He said to Burton.

Reacting to the yank, Burton immediately turned back to Müller. “You’re in no condition to put up a fight captain and I’m pulling rank.”

“You’re a captain, just like me Lloyd.” Müller mumbled back. 

Smirking at that response, he finally realised why Fleet Admiral Hathaway had given him his promotion. “It’s Fleet Captain Burton now, but like your trophy, we will catch up about that later. Now let’s get you to Challenger.” Burton insisted as he called over for help as he pulled Müller up gently and placed his right arm over his shoulder. Slowly the team from Challenger left the bridge of the Discovery to get their survivors back to the good doctor to do her magical work. 

Sickbay on Discovery was a lot busier than anywhere else. This didn’t surprise Lieutenant Commander Walker as he led his team towards it, which included Doctor Payne and some of the Challenger’s MACOs that he was getting to know. Staff Sergeant Iyer led his squad with three others. He had worked out that the MACOs from Challenger were a different breed compared to what he had experienced on other postings. He could definitely see how right Nurse Stewart was at how much the two groups had integrated so well into one. It was the way things should be.

Outside of sickbay was a scene he had witnessed as a patient himself when he had been taken to Challenger a couple of days ago. Basic beds were set up outside in the hallway, leading into the medical facilities where triage was being undertaken. A short woman of Caribbean descent was busy at work, treating someone on the main bed. The moment she finished she looked up to see her visitors.

“I don’t think we’ve been introduced, I’m Doctor Melanie Reyburn, the chief medical officer of Discovery.” She said in a thick West Indies accent.

“Lieutenant Commander Cooper Walker, I’m from Ar-” The science officer paused as he corrected himself. “Challenger. Can we be of some assistance?” He offered.

Looking at everyone in his group, Reyburn asked aloud, “Any of you doctors?”

Payne stepped forward, “I am.” She said with pride as she went on to introduce herself, “Doctor Hillary Payne.”

“Before we go any further,” Walker said in a calming manner. “I notice some of your systems aren’t operational. How about I get some of my people to move your less serious patients back to Challenger?”

Reyburn accepted the gesture. “That would be acceptable, Mister Cooper.” She said with gratitude. “Doctor Payne, I would appreciate your help with surgery.” She gestured towards the patient she was working on right now.

“Let me clean up and join you.” Payne responded as she joined the older woman. 

After ordering Iyer to take those who were less serious back to Challenger, Walker took out his communicator. “Walker to Challenger.”

Lieutenant Hennessey, who Burton had left in command answered. “Go ahead, Gamma team leader.”

“We’ve secured sickbay, inform Doctor Ben-Ami for more patients coming her way.” Walker reported.

Understood commander. Once you’re able to sir, Fleet Captain Burton has requested you assist him with further search and rescue efforts.” Hennessey relayed. 

“I’ll leave Doctor Payne in charge here with Staff Sergeant Iyer. Where is the captain now?” Walker enquired, as he spoke he gestured to Payne that he was going. She just nodded as she supported Doctor Reyburn with the surgery they were now getting involved in. 

He’s heading to main engineering.” Hennessey reported.

“Understood, I’ll rendezvous with him on route. Walker out.”

Expecting to find engineering busy, Commander Stanton was surprised to see it far from that. The moment he and his team had entered engineering they were confronted with it being completely empty. He had wondered if he would have come across Lloyd’s younger brother, but it appeared as the engineering crew had just dropped everything and left. After running a number of scans, he could see that the ship’s warp drive was offline. It seemed that someone had completely shut it off to prevent a core breach. The damage to the plasma injectors was extensive and it looked as if the magnetic interlocks had been reinforced to prevent the core breach.

Once they had assessed the damage, Stanton gave out tasks to each of the engineers he had with him. Masuko and Malone began work on the warp drive while he and Peterson went on to stabilise environmental controls, life support and the gravity plating. While replacing damaged circuitry, Lieutenant Commander Sandoval walked in with her team. 

“How are the repairs going?” She asked the chief engineer.

Screwing the circuit board into place, Stanton looked back at her. “Slow, but we are getting there. How’s the rescue effort going?”

“Most teams have reported finding survivors, looks like they didn’t lose anyone that I’m aware of. My team is here to lend a hand. What needs doing?” 

Grateful that another pair of experienced hands could help out, Stanton asked Sandoval to start work on the secondary systems, like the fire suppression system as well as other critical back-up systems. The main power grid was down, so ensuring the secondary and emergency grids were okay was important too. 

More footsteps entered from the main entrance of main engineering and a familiar voice followed. “Michael, how’s it going? Have you seen Roman?” asked Fleet Captain Burton.

Stopping what he was doing, Stanton walked over to his commanding officer. “Since Rosa’s team has joined us, I reckon we can get the work done a lot quicker. We should have warp drive and critical systems running soon and no, I’ve not seen Roman yet. There was no-one in main engineering when we arrived. Have you seen Alex at all? Was he on the bridge?”

Shaking his head, Burton told Stanton that he had only found Müller and his second helm officer. He went on to explain about the order to abandon ship. After getting Discovery’s captain to Challenger’s sickbay, Burton had returned hoping to have some good news. “I’m going to carry on helping with search and rescue efforts.”

“Understood. I saw a member of the Discovery’s crew earlier who said that both Alex and Roman were trying to get that Romulan ship to work. Maybe get Cortez to get herself over there sooner rather than later?” Stanton suggested, feeling deflated at the news that his husband hadn’t been found yet. “And Lloyd,” He spoke quietly, “Call me when you find Alex.”

Burton nodded and gripped his first officer’s right arm gently as a sign of assurance. “I will.”

Stanton watched as the captain left and went back to his work. Sandoval moved over to him. “Anything news on Alex?”

He shook his head and carried on with his repairs.

“Carajo.” She mumbled under her breath as she walked away. 

Stanton knew what she meant and said it himself. Where the hell was his husband?

Working her way through E deck from one side to the other, Lieutenant Cortez led her team as they approached the other docking port. After getting the call from the captain that they believed some of the crew were hiding out on the Romulan ship, she had picked up her pace to investigate this claim further. It was her job to find out why a Romulan drone ship was docked with Discovery. With her was Second Lieutenant Trommler and his team of MACOs, along with Ensigns Metaxas and Dalton. The two men had volunteered to join the rescue teams. Walking through the corridors of Discovery was slightly eerie. Yes they had found a few injured souls along their way, who they had helped get back to Challenger, but now this part of their journey was spookily silent. It was peculiar. 

As they crept through their way down the last corridor towards the starboard docking hatch, Cortez was sure she heard something ahead. Looking over to Trommler, she gave him a sign to go quiet as she pulled out her phase pistol. Before them was a fallen bulkhead and damaged gravity plating. Slowly she crouched behind it and then as she was about to take out her scanner there were shots fired above her head. Damn it she cursed to herself. She had wondered if the Romulans had boarded the ship, maybe they had and now they were going to hold their ground against the Starfleet crew. 

Besides her, also now knelt down with his phase rifle out, aiming towards where the shots were being fired, was Corporal Jenkins. 

Wincing slightly, he looked up at the lieutenant and began to whisper, “Ma’am, that sounds like…”

“MACO weapon fire. Yeah I was thinking the same thing.” She whispered back. Peering through a slight crack in the bulkhead she was hiding behind, the chief armoury officer tried to see who was firing at them. Had the Romulans taken hold of the ship’s armoury as well as and were now using it against them? She saw a few shadows and a silhouette or two. Then she recognised the MACO insignia on someone’s bicep. Relaxing a bit she looked down at Jenkins and gave him a nod to confirm their joint suspicions. She took a breath in.  “Cease fire.” She screamed at the top of her voice. Her team instantly did it while their attackers resumed. “I am Lieutenant Rachele Cortez from Challenger. We are here to help you!”

A few more shots before she heard a deep feminine voice tell the MACO troops to hold their fire. The corridor was now filled with more silence as it had before the firefight had begun. 

Another breath, Cortez slowly stood up. “I’m coming out, do not shoot!” She said loudly. Holding her phase pistol to point upwards, she raised her other hand up as well. It had her scanner in it. She was hoping the gesture would calm things down. 

Through the smoke and shadows walked a tall woman, wielding a phase rifle across her chest, she paused a few feet before the lieutenant. “Welcome to Discovery, I’m Major Leona Danvers.” Danvers appeared strong, both physically and in her demeanour. Her brown eyes were piercing and contrasting against her platinum blonde hair that was short. Her American accent was clear to hear that she was from California. 

“Major Danvers?” spoke Jenkins behind Cortez. The young corporal moved around from where he was hiding and stepped to Cortez’s side. “Ma’am it’s good to see you.”

Danvers pushed a stray hair from her face as she smiled at Jenkins. “Liam Jenkins, well this is a nice surprise. I didn’t know you were still on Challenger.”

Cortez looked between the two as everyone else on both sides came out from where they were sheltering. Jenkins realised that he had not explained how he knew the major. “Sorry Lieutenant Cortez, but Major Danvers was my unit’s instructor when I underwent my enlisted training.”

Smiling at them both Cortez finally realised what was going on. “Well, I’m glad we can bring a teacher and student back together.” She commented.

“Apologies lieutenant,” The Major said back to the senior most officer from Challenger. “It’s nice to see one of my protégé doing well,” She smiled briefly back at Jenkins before returning her attention back to Cortez. “And more apologies for us opening fire on you. We thought the Romulans had boarded us.”

“Ditto,” Cortez said, “I’ve been sent by Fleet Captain Burton to find out what that,” She pointed towards the airlock door, “is and why it is docked with Discovery.”

Before Danvers had a chance to answer, a strong British English accent interjected over her. “Did you say Fleet Captain Burton?”

 Both women turned to look from where the voice was coming from. A man wearing a red uniform with commander pips on it stepped over the airlock’s threshold. He looked familiar, for a moment she thought it was Fleet Captain Burton, but he looked a lot younger and his hair was a lot lighter in tone. Plus he didn’t have the same beard that Burton appeared to have grown recently. 

Danvers realised that Cortez did not know who her superior officer was, so she made the introduction. “Lieutenant Cortez, please meet Commander Roman Burton, our chief engineer and second officer. I believe his older brother is your boss.”

Another Burton on a NX-class ship? Cortez thought to herself and she definitely could see the family resemblance as he approached her. Like Danvers, his appearance was dishevelled. His sleeves were rolled up and he had what looked like a hyper-spanner in his hands, with a phase pistol attached to his hip. “Commander Burton, it’s nice to meet you.” She greeted him.

Extending his hand out towards her, the younger Burton sibling smiled back at the lieutenant. “It’s nice to meet some of my big brother’s crew. Talking of which, where is that big oaf?”

Trying to remain impartial, she didn’t want to be drawn into any family issue, she knew that her captain had to deal with his father’s death recently and she hadn’t heard any more about how it impacted his family. For all she knew the Burtons may have found the death stressful on their relationships. That said, she had always expected that Captain Burton was a strong family man by the way he came across and the values he projected. “Fleet Captain Burton was leading alpha team, rescuing those on your bridge.”

“He’ll only find Captain Müller there.” Burton remarked. “We had been ordered to abandon ship while Müller was planning to take out the Romulans by himself. I think Ensign Hurst was finishing off up there too.”

“Well I can tell you now that when we arrived we dealt with the Romulans.” Cortez informed him. 

“By the way, you said Fleet before my brother’s rank,” Burton said, “What did you mean by that?”

“Well from what he told us, he was promoted by the Starfleet Commander-in-Chief and given a new rank that the Command Council has issued.” Cortez explained.

Smirking at the news, the engineer looked to the MACO commander, “I knew he had become Admiral Hathaway’s golden boy.” He rolled his eyes and looked back at Challenger’s chief armoury officer. “Well Lieutenant Cortez, I can safely say you have rescued us and we can tell you more about our little trophy here.”

Cortez nodded in agreement, “That sounds great sir. If you have any injured crew, we can take them back to Challenger.”

“There is someone that could deal with seeing someone now.” Danvers remarked. “When the captain ordered us to abandon ship, Commander Rodham was knocked from the helm station. We brought him with us, hoping that Doctor Reyburn was going to join us but we never saw her.”

Turning to Jenkins quickly, Cortez brought the young man forward. “Please show Corporal Jenkins, he is our field medic. He may be able to help him further before we move the commander.”

“This way.” Burton said as he took the Challenger team into the airlock and onto the Romulan craft.

Glad to bump into Walker, figuratively, Fleet Captain Burton continued to walk down the corridors from E deck towards the starboard port. Both men kept their torches high and phase pistols drawn. 

“Any news from Cortez yet?” Walker asked as they walked at a fast pace.

Shaking his head, Burton said solemnly, “No, not yet.”

“Did I hear correctly sir, that your brother serves on this ship?” Walker asked as they carried down the long corridor.

“Yeah,” Burton said. “Roman is the chief engineer and second officer. If he isn’t alive, I can promise you now Cooper that my mother will make my life a misery!”

Chuckling slightly, “She sounds like my mother-in-law.” Walker stated. 

Smiling at that remark, Burton inclined his head a bit. “I’ve met Mrs Levesque, she’s not that bad.”

“Really? When did you meet Anneliese Levesque and survive your encounter?” Walker asked with curiosity.  

 Almost about to tell him about what happened to Nicole, Burton stopped himself as they approached the docking port. “It’s a long story, one I am sure that Nicole would prefer to tell you.”

“If you’ve met my mother-in-law then you must have met my wife. Do you really think she will let Nicole tell me herself?” Walker joked back.

Smiling at the banter they were sharing, the two men put away their phase pistols. As they approached a small group of officers from Discovery, until Burton recognised Second Lieutenant Trommler standing outside of the airlock.

“Lieutenant Trommler, report?” Burton asked. His voice caught the others off guard as they turned around to see who the latest arrival was.

The MACO lieutenant quickly stood to attention, “Fleet Captain Burton, sir.” He said in his militaristic tone. 

Almost rolling his eyes at the fact that the MACO soldier had stood to attention, Burton gestured with his hands to stand at ease. “Luis, where is Lieutenant Cortez and the rest of your team?”

Trommler indicated towards the airlock. “In the Romulan ship sir. Corporal Jenkins is treating Commander Rodham.”

Hearing the news that Stanton’s husband was injured rang alarm bells with Burton as he flashed a look of concern at Walker who almost mirrored the same things. “Show me, now.” Burton commanded. 

Dashing through the airlock, following Trommler, Burton and Walker made their way through. Entering the smaller, darker corridors of the Romulan ship, Burton was surprised to see how much the interior style was similar to Vulcan designs. Instead of the pale maroons, the use of green seemed to be everywhere. Trommler led them into what appeared to be a side room and straight away they witnessed Corporal Jenkins taking off a pair of medical gloves and running his medical scanner over someone lying on what appeared to be a makeshift stretcher made from cargo containers with a grey sheet draped over it. Their arrival interrupted everyone and Lloyd was happy to hear a well-known voice.

“Lloydie!” Roman exclaimed as he moved across the room and pulled his brother into a big embrace. 

Surprised and shocked at the affection shown by his brother, Lloyd welcomed the hug and returned the gesture. “R-Man.” He said, using Roman’s nickname from when they were kids. “God, I’m glad to see you.” He said as they let go. Looking down at Commander Rodham, Burton was concerned to see what was going on. “How is he Corporal?”

“Stable for now sir.” Jenkins said, appearing exhaustive. “I’ve stopped most of the internal bleeding but he will require further surgery. We should look at getting back to Challenger sooner rather than later, but for now he is safe.”

“Well done Liam.” Cortez said from across the room as she walked over to stand by her commanding officer. “I’m sorry for not reporting in sooner sir.” She apologised to Burton. 

“No need for that lieutenant.” Burton said, he looked over to Walker. “Cooper, go get Michael and tell him where Alex is. I am sure he’d appreciate knowing his husband has been found and then can you signal for Challenger to get a team over here so we can get Commander Rodham back to see the good Ro-fa.”

Walker nodded in acknowledgement and made his way outside of the room to make his call and to go get Stanton at once. While he did that, Lloyd turned back to everyone. Soon he recognised his brother’s own other half, Nathan Wallis, standing on the other side of the room. “Nathan,” He said, smiling at the armoury officer and extended his hand to shake his. “Glad to see you’re still in one piece.”

“Sir, it’s good to see you too.” Wallis said formally.

Roman rolled his eyes at that formality coming from his boyfriend.

Noticing his brother’s reaction, Lloyd pulled Wallis in for a brief hug to break the tension. Once they were done, Lloyd turned to everyone else. “So, can someone tell me more about this ship?”

Cortez smiled, “Of course sir. Shall we leave Corporal Jenkins to see his patient in private?”

“Indeed, come with us to what we think is the bridge Lloyd.” Roman said as he led the way out.

After climbing a flight of stairs upwards, Roman took his brother, Cortez and Wallis to what they had designated the bridge. 

“Based on what we know from scans taken by Enterprise, we started to get used to the controls of the ship and we think we can operate it.” Roman explained.

The room was circular in shape, with a majority of the stations around the edge and a central alcove in the middle that had a chair in it.

“Wait a second, I want to know what happened for you to get your hands on this.” Lloyd insisted.

Roman looked to Wallis who nodded and the two men went on to recount the events that led to them having the Romulan ship.

“So as you know sir,” Wallis said, “Since the war started we’ve not been able to get our hands on much of Romulan technology. They go out of their way to destroy anything valuable, but we got our own back on them when we took this beauty. Entering the Barrens causing havoc with their long-range subspace radios, as a result they are not able to operate these drone ships remotely. We were able to disable this ship from a few well-placed shots from our phase cannons.”

“I’ve spent ages getting to know these systems and how they work. I’ve been able to switch their subspace transceiver completely off and we have been able to by-pass their security lock outs too.” Roman said with a smug look across his face. “Can you see why those other drone ships were trying to stop us?”

A sense of pride went over Lloyd as he looked at his brother. “Well done Roman,” He looked at Wallis, “to you all. This is a great victory for Earth.”

“Sir, you should know that before the attack that Captain Müller was preparing a plan to submit to Starfleet Command for approval.” Wallis added.

“Oh? What type of plan?” Lloyd asked. 

The Discovery armoury officer looked to Roman and then back to Lloyd. “Since we’ve cracked their database we found an entry in their navigational logs that we think may be a base of operations.”

“To be specific Lloyd, we think it’s the new home base for the drones.” Roman added. “If we can take it out then it’d be a bigger victory for us.”

Intrigued at what they were sharing, Lloyd looked to Cortez who had also shown interest. “Well let’s fix Discovery and take care of your crew first before we make another move.” Lloyd took one more glance around the bridge of the Romulan ship. “Roman, once repairs are complete to Discovery, then I want you to show Michael everything over here. Let’s see what else we can find and use to help us win this war.”

Rolling his eyes at his brother’s orders, Roman crossed his arms against his chest. “Do you not think my team and I are able to do it without our hands being held?”

Looking back at his younger brother, Lloyd couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Are you questioning my orders, Commander Burton?” He threw back in a sterner voice. “Sharing the secrets of this ship with my engineers will ensure that someone back home will get the information needed to win this war.”

“Fine.” Roman said with a huge sigh. 

Nathan walked across the room and rubbed the back of his partner. “We appreciate the help, sir.” He said looking back at Lloyd. “Will you consider reviewing the plans that Captain Müller was preparing?”

“Absolutely.” Lloyd remarked. “I’ll be returning to Challenger; I want you both along with everyone else on Discovery to have a medical check-up before resuming your duties. Ms Cortez, secure this vessel until Commanders Burton and Wallis are able to return with their team and Commander Stanton.”

“Aye sir.” Cortez said, feeling quite awkward to be present to witness the exchange between the two Burton brothers. 

Lloyd took one more glare at his younger brother and left the drone ship – reeling that Roman thought it was okay to speak to him like that in front of other officers.