Part of Challenger: The Romulan War: The Battle of Krios Prime

The Battle of Krios Prime – TWO

Challenger NX-03, entering Krios system
Wednesday, November 18th, 2155
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“Captain’s starlog, November Eighteen, Twenty-One-Fifty-Five. Challenger and our task group have entered the Krios system after assisting with repairs to the Kamala and aiding her crew, to discuss the proposal sent by their leader. Though Fleet Admiral Hathaway has reservations about forming a partnership with the Kriosians, due to their closeness to the Klingon Empire, the possibility of them giving us faster ships and better ways to defend ourselves against the Romulans has piqued her interest as much as it has with mine.”

Pushing his chair back  away from the scope, Commander Walker looked at the main screen within the science station to check the readings he was now seeing. “Sir, you’re not going to believe this but I’m detecting four Klingon ships currently engaged with Kriosian forces.”

As Walker spoke, Burton had been handing a computer tablet over to his yeoman. Turning his attention to his chief science officer, Burton wondered just how soon they would encounter the Klingons. “Have they detected us?”

Shaking his head, Walker looked up from the scans. “We’re too far away for their sensors to see us.”

Spinning his chair to the other side, he looked at Cortez at the armoury station. “Take us to tactical alert.” He then pivoted back to be facing the front of the bridge. “Commander Rodham, slow us down further. I don’t want to tip our presence to the Klingons but on the other side I don’t want First Prince Consort Kalluum thinking we are delaying on purpose.”

Rodham acknowledged with a simple nod as the bridge darkened and the computer graphics changed from their normal operational colours to a range of tones in red. 

“Tanisha, send a short burst message to the task group to follow our lead and remain on our tail. I want to observe what’s happening first.” Burton ordered his new communication chief. 

The ensign replied with a simple ‘aye’ as she carried out her task. 

“I’ve got a visual of the battle.” Walker then announced. 

“On screen.” Burton ordered.

The rectangular shaped screen flicked from a blank starfield moving slowly past them to one showing the Klingon and Kriosian battle taking place. The Klingons were outnumbered and appeared to be doing their best to fight their enemy, but they weren’t doing much of a good job. 

Turning to Cortez, Burton was confused about what he was seeing. He had spent the last couple of days reading everything the Starfleet database had about the Klingons, especially their tactics. Nothing in what Enterprise and Columbia had dealt with since their launches was apparent in this battle. Those multiple reports by his counterparts on their sister ships had stated how aggressive the Klingons were and how they ensured they kept the upper hand. Instead the Klingons were having their rear ends handed to them by the Kriosians. He accepted that the Kriosian Sovereign Guard had vessels that were just as powerful as the Klingons and before them right now he could see just how devastating their weapons were. There was just something not right.  The captain needed to know more. “Rachele, are you thinking what I’m thinking?” He asked as he stood to join her at the armoury console.

“The fact that the Klingons are about to be beaten by the Kriosians and they don’t seem to be giving up much of a fight?” Cortez checked and was pleased she got an affirmative nod from her superior. “We could get closer and run a more intensive scan of the Klingon ships to determine why.”

“Sir, that’s risky.” Rodham said from the helm, looking over his right shoulder towards where Burton now stood behind Cortez. “If the Klingons retreat or transmit scans of us being here, then we could end up bringing Earth into this conflict as well.”

Locking a look with Cortez, his armoury officer appeared to get what he was thinking at that moment. “I think it’s worth the risk, sir.”

“Any transmission, I could scramble.” Avery offered.

Walker soon caught on to what Burton was considering. “You think they’re being controlled by the Romulans?” He checked.

“Two powers at each other’s throats close to Romulan space. It wouldn’t surprise me that the Romulans are manipulating the Klingons and Kriosians the same way they did with the Deltans and Carreons.” Burton replied before taking a breath and issuing the order that could have undesired consequences. “Rachele, run the scan and see if those Klingon ships are being controlled.”

“If they are being run by the Romulans, it means that the Romulans may have recovered from our attack against their facility in the Bassen Rift.” Rodham stated. 

Walker shook his head, “Or they’ve found a way to use the telepresence capturing device at short ranges. Which means they could be nearby.”

“Tanisha, tell the fleet to start scanning for Romulan ships and Romulan telepresence frequencies.” Burton command. “I’d like to know sooner rather than later.”  

Before the new communications officer could get her message out, Cortez spoke up after her scans were complete. “Sir, the Klingon ships are under Romulan control. I’m detecting low power readings to their life-support systems and a high amount of energy going through their computing processors. More power is also being sent to their shields. All of them plus a unique subspace frequency is being sent to them.”

“Trace it.” Burton ordered as he returned to his chair. “I want that Romulan ship found, now!”

Moving at almost warp speed, the bridge crew responded to their captain’s orders so they could find their enemy and stop them from doing any more damage to the damage already caused. Several seconds later Avery spoke up. “Sir, our fleet is not picking up the frequency any further. It would seem, the Romulans were scrambling their efforts from us finding them. Now that the frequency has gone, I would assume they saw us.”

“And ran away like chickens.” Rodham added at the end. He looked at his own sensor readings. “The Kriosians are still attacking the Klingons but those Klingon ships aren’t going to survive anymore. We need to stop the battle, sir.”

Suppressing his frustration at the obvious Romulan involvement, Burton agreed with his first officer. “Tanisha, get the prince at once. Perhaps he can order-” 

Walker interrupted the captain suddenly and announced that the Klingon ships had lost their defences and seconds later all four ships were obliterated into dust as they exploded. 

The bridge fell silent as they all realised what this meant. Any hope of getting a ceasefire between the Klingons and Kriosians had just ended. 

The silence was broken up by the communication console beeping at them. Shaking her head from what they had just witnessed, Avery looked at her controls. “Sir, we’re being hailed by the prince.”

Still sitting in his chair, Burton was resting his chin in the palm of his left hand as he contemplated his next move and everything they were now involved with. Eyes squinting at the main screen, he stared to frown at the situation now. Should he attempt to mediate some sort of peace? Could it help the war effort if he brought both the Kriosians and Klingons in against the Romulans? 

“Put the prince up.” Burton eventually said as he sat up straight and changed his entire posture. As the main screen flickered from the former battle site to that of the bridge of the Kamala where First Prince Kalluum was, Burton greeted the man who thought he was Commodore Jonathan Archer and that Challenger was Enterprise. That had been a difficult one to explain after they had boarded the Kriosian flagship. If it hadn’t been for Lieutenant Stewart saving the life of the prince, Burton was certain things would be a lot different now. “Your Royal Highness,” Burton said, sounding respectful in his tone. “It would appear your military has once again thwarted another attack.”

“Indeed it would seem so, Fleet Captain Burton. Please will you move us into range of the Sovereign Guard.” Kalluum requested. 

“I’d be happy to oblige, but I think it’s important you understand something we’ve discovered.” Burton stated. “Those Klingon ships were under Romulan control.”

Sighing heavily, the prince did not seem convinced by Burton’s words. “My people are happy to assist you Fleet Captain Burton, do you really need to use such tactics to convince us to declare war against the Romulans as well?”

 “I’m not trying to deceive you, sir. We have evidence and I believe your Sovereign Guard can verify them too.” Burton answered. “Your Royal Highness, as I said to you yesterday, the Romulans would do anything to destabilise this region. Your conflict with the Klingons could be another ploy of theirs to weaken those around them.”

Looking off screen and then back to it, Kalluum nodded at first before speaking. “Then present your evidence to the First Monarch when you join me on my return home.”

“It’d be my honour.” Burton stated before their conversation ended.

Teaching what she knew and sharing her experiences from her vast career, Ro-fa Ben-Ami smiled as she finished marking the latest assessment carried out by her senior nursing officer. Putting the final grade on it, she took the tablet she held in her hand and walked across sickbay to where Lieutenant Stewart was working. The young nurse was busy monitoring the readings of one of the Kriosian patients they were currently treating. 

“Niall, you got a moment?” She called after him which instantly made him stop working and turn to face her. 

Nodding at first in response, Stewart finished his job and approached her. “I’m all done here ma’am. This gentleman can be returned to the Kamala this evening.”

“Good, I’ve got the results of your latest assessment.” She said, waving the tablet in her hands.

Eager to hear them, he encouraged her to share them with him by his facial expression. “And?”

“Passing grade.” She said as she handed it over. “Well done. At this rate you’ll be eligible for your doctorate by this time next year.”

Proud of himself, Stewart smirked at the result as he glanced down at the assessment and its results. “Thank you ma’am.” 

Payne walked over from where she had been working on another Kriosian and approached Stewart with a huge smile. “Congratulations Niall.” She said as she gave him a reassuring hug. 

“No, thank you for those recent late study nights. I appreciate your time.” Stewart replied after letting go.

Shrugging her shoulders and showing her modesty, Payne just smiled. “It was no trouble, anyway this doesn’t compare to saving the life of the First Prince of the Sovereign Dynasty of Krios.” 

“Yes, I heard the prince wants to give you an award.” Ben-Ami added as she walked away back to her stall and bar like desk.    

Rolling his eyes, Stewart ignored the comments. It hadn’t stopped since he was part of one of the parties sent over to assist the Kriosians. His team had been the one sent to the bridge and while there he had treated the first prince who had collapsed. Prince Kalluum had sustained a huge cut along his abdomen, which again Stewart had treated by being able to seal it. After this brief piece of surgery, the prince had gone into cardiac arrest. Using resuscitation techniques, Stewart brought him back. Members of the Kriosian crew called Stewart a miracle healer and was surprised when he shared he was just a field nurse and not an actual doctor. After saving the life of Kalluum, Stewart had gone on to treat other members of the bridge crew until Ben-Ami had arrived to assess the situation further. Impressed at how much he had done, Challenger’s chief medical officer had joked about being obsolete now.

The doors to sickbay parted open allowing for the entrance of Stewart’s husband, Corporal Jenkins. 

“Corporal Jenkins, please state the nature of the medical emergency.” Ben-Ami stated in a nonchalant tone while still remaining focussed on the work she was doing on her desktop console. 

Smirking at her, the MACO soldier shook his head in response. “Sorry ma’am, no emergency besides the fact I need to let my husband know I won’t be around for dinner tonight.”

Ben-Ami looked up from her work, as did Payne along with Stewart who approached their visitor. All three medical officers wondered where he would be. 

A bit annoyed to hear the news, Stewart questioned his husband about his whereabouts. “How come Liam? Where will you be?”

“I’m joining the captain’s landing party when he heads down to Krios. Luis wants me to join him and Harvey as part of the captain’s bodyguard detail. Apparently it’s something to do with the Kriosians liking to show strength in front of friends, or something.” Jenkins explained. “I shouldn’t be away for too long.”

Nodding to show he understood, Stewart didn’t have the chance to say anything as the sickbay entrance opened again. This time it was the captain’s yeoman entering. Pushing his almost curly dark brown hair backwards, Crewman Harris noticed his friends near the door. “Ah, Niall there you are.”

Both Stewart and Jenkins turned to Harris, Stewart answering him. “You okay Jamie?” He asked, wondering what medical problem he was bringing to them. 

“Perfectly fine thanks Niall.” He had a tablet in his hands and then passed towards Stewart’s direction. “The captain wants you to join him as part of his landing party.”

“Why?” Jenkins interjected as he watched the exchange of the device between the yeoman and his husband.

Harris took a look back between Jenkins and then Stewart. “Something to do with the impression you’ve made on the crown prince. You’ve been asked to be there.”

Surprised to hear that, Stewart looked at the tablet, showing almost the same shocked expression he had earlier when Ben-Ami had given him the results of his assessment. He quickly glanced at the notes that Harris had given him. “Full dress uniform?” He questioned. 

“The captain just received a hail and apparently the First Monarch plans to hold a full state dinner for those attending.” Harris informed.

“A full state dinner?” Ben-Ami repeated as she moved from her stall and over to join the small group. “That seems pretty over the top for what we’ve done.”

“Apparently saving a member of the Kriosian royal family is quite a big thing, plus the First Monarch wishes to discuss terms of the partnership that she had sent her husband out to form with us. The captain wants everyone there to be on their best behaviour, he needs to present to them his theory about the Romulans manipulating the conflict between Krios and the Klingon Empire.” Harris said. 

“Is there any evidence to back up his theory?” Ben-Ami probed. 

Nodding, Harris relayed to the doctor what had happened earlier when they arrived in the Krios system. “The captain is certain the Romulans are behind this.”

“That’s interesting.” Ben-Ami remarked as she turned to her nurse. “Well Niall, as they say. Best foot forward for the greater good of the Commonwealth.”

“It just doesn’t make sense though,” Jenkins remarked. “No offence Niall but how would your presence help the captain and his diplomatic efforts with the Kriosians?”

A bit taken back by the tone in his husband’s voice, Stewart ignored it and didn’t say anything. Instead Payne walked forward and defended him. 

“If the Kriosians believe that saving the life of a senior royal is important to recognise, then the captain would be foolish not to have Niall by his side. It’s a way of showing that he respects their traditions. Plus Niall is a good pin-up for Starfleet!” She teased as she then walked away. 

Smirking and shaking his head at her, Stewart thanked her as she moved away from him and looked at his husband. “Plus don’t worry Liam, while we’re there you can watch my back as much as the captain’s.”

“Indeed.” Jenkins said, not sounding too happy about that.

Walking down the corridor with a tablet in one hand, Ensign Avery wasn’t paying attention to her surroundings as she was more focussed on paying attention to the list of protocols that she had to brief the captain on before they went down to Krios. The more she read about their customs and traditions, the more it sounded familiar to what she had learnt about the practises used back before Earth became a unified entity and some countries around the world had monarchs. Though some still had this to this day and age, like the United Kingdom, most of them were figureheads used for ceremonial purposes only. The Sovereign Dynasty of Krios’ royal family was the ruling family for the Kriosian people. From what she had read their influence was well known in this sector of space and they were well liked but with their popularity brought envy from those who didn’t like how rich Krios was.  Juggling this along with everything else they had to do to show utmost respect was vital to this opening dialogue the captain was about to attempt to create. She had to show she was up to the task, so with her head in her work she didn’t see Captain Luis Trommler coming down the junction until they both bumped into one another.

Instantly her tablet dropped to the floor as did the one he was reading. “Ah crap!” She said.

“Indeed.” Trommler said as both knelt down to pick up their devices. As he got up, the MACO leader smiled and apologised to her. “Sorry Tanisha, I should have watched where I was going.”

“Likewise.” She said smiling as she waved her tablet in her left hand. “Looks like we’ve both got our hands full, again.”

“Ja. It would seem so.” Trommler agreed. “I suppose our dinner plans for tonight must be postponed for now.”

Nodding, Avery showed her regret that the trip to the Kriosian capital prevented them from having their next date together. “Shall we try again tomorrow?”

“Sounds like a date to me.” He said with a smirk before leaving her and carrying on with his journey as she did the same. 

“There you two are.” Spoke Ben-Amin as she stepped into the command centre and waited for the door to close shut behind her. 

Turning around, both Commanders Rodham and Walker looked at the doctor. Rodham replied to her, “Hey Ro-fa, what can we do for you?” 

“A moment of your time, if you don’t mind.” She said as she walked further into the room, trying to take in what they were both doing by studying the readings of the various screens around them. “What are all of these sensor scans?” 

“They’re the readings we took of the Klingon ships during their recent battle with the Kriosians, as well as the logs from the Kamala when she fought the Klingons trying to reach us.” Walked answered as he returned to his work. 

Glaring at one of the screens nearest to her, Ben-Ami knew she didn’t quite understand what it was telling her, though she did recognise the marks around life-support being so low on one of the ships. Returning back to the two men, she looked at Rodham. “Is this your attempt to prove the captain’s theory about the Romulans being involved here?”

“Hopefully.” Rodham said. He was still wondering what she wanted. “Did you need one of us or both of us for something?” 

“It’s about the captain and this theory of his.” Ben-Ami said as she crossed her arms and lent against the centre table. “I’ve got some concerns about his behaviour.”

Walker paused in his work and looked back at her. “What type of concerns?”

“We’ve all noticed how much he has changed since the Bassen Rift incursion and more importantly after we found the Tholians dealing with the Romulans at Rator, the captain’s mood swings have become more…well erratic.” Ben-Ami shared. 

“Can you blame him?” Rodham asked. “I mean, I get where he is coming from after the Bassen Rift and even though the Tholians did us a favour at Rator, it is quite frustrating that they stepped over and carried out a job we were meant to do.” 

“And I suppose with it coming close to Nicole giving birth, he is probably eager to return home to see the birth of the triplets.” Walker suggested. “All of that, I suppose, isn’t the best of combinations.”

“Exactly my point, now we have this” Ben-Ami stated as she gestured at the readings around them. “The sudden apparent revelation that the Romulans are behind this conflict and the captain is becoming quite gun-ho in bringing the Kriosians into the war effort, I mean he may even consider approaching the Klingons with it.”

“Sorry Kefira, but what’s the point you’re trying to make?” Rodham questioned as he crossed his own arms. “Again, I’ll say it again, can you blame him for being fixated on wanting to bring decisive victories for Earth in this war?” 

Pointing at the first officer, Ben-Ami revealed her concerns about the captain there and then. “That’s it Alex, he has become fixated in dealing the Romulans a huge bloody nose for what they’ve done not just to Earth and its allies, but to this ship.”

“So you have an issue with the captain apparently wanting to seek revenge against the people who killed our former pilot, MACO commander and my husband?” Rodham asked, his tone changing to one of more irritation with where she was going with her argument. 

Shaking her head, Ben-Ami cleared up her concerns. “They weren’t killed by a Romulan shooting them, they died in the line of duty and I am certain the captain is eager to seek revenge to ensure their sacrifice was worth it. He had that in the palm of his hands with Rator, then the Tholians ripped it away from him.”

“So now what you’re saying he may become desperate in this mission to prove the Romulans being the puppet masters over the Klingons and Kriosians? Just so he could ensure that every soul we’ve lost has been what? Honourable? Worthwhile?” Walker checked. 

The good doctor just nodded her head. 

Rodham took a moment to think. “I can see where you’re coming from, but the evidence we have collected points to the Romulan’s involvement here. If it means bringing the Klingons and Kriosians on our side against the Romulans then I’m all for it.” Ben-Ami was about to speak but he raised his right index finger to stop her. “However, let’s agree between us three to keep an eye on the captain, to ensure he doesn’t put himself in a position he may not be able to get out from.”

Ben-Ami nodded. “Agreed.”

“Agreed.” Walker said. 

Ben-Ami took a breath, “Alex, I want those Romulan bastards to pay as much as anyone for us having to lose Jack, Viktoria and Michael. I just don’t want to lose our captain in the process.”

“Agreed.” Rodham said with approval.

The Great Sovereign Palace, City of Lodstead, Krios Prime

After being escorted through a huge entrance, Fleet Captain Burton and his entourage were taken into a grand hall where their first meeting with the First Monarch would take place. The hall was extremely long and decorated in a sophisticated and luxurious manner, fitting for a royal occupier. Portraits of various Kriosians, all of whom Burton expected to have been former First Monarchs and other members of the imperial family. Candles flickered on either side of the room. He had wondered if the Kriosians had anything like a ball and if so he wondered further how many of them had taken place in this room. In some ways he felt like he was back home on Earth and taking a tour of the famous residences owned by the British Royal Family. Windsor Castle, Holyroodhouse or Buckingham Palace. 

Slowly walking from the other end of the hall were the Kriosian delegation. All of them wearing their official regal attire while Burton led his fellow officers wearing their dress uniform. To his right was Ensign Avery, ready to step in just in case the universal translator failed while Harris was beside her to assist further with the protocol of this occasion. Since Hennessey’s departure the two of them had agreed to work on the role together for now. To Burton’s left was Lieutenant Stewart, while the MACOs flanked either side of them. None of them were armed but every single one of them wore their dress uniforms, thankfully the MACO dress uniform gave the MACOs the chance to carry a ceremonial sword. Not that they would need it. He hoped. 

Deciding not to bring anyone else from his senior staff or even his sister (who remained in command of Voyager), Burton wanted all of them to remain above them in working on their plan to hunt down the Romulans and bring an end to the conflict with the Klingons and Kriosians. He was determined not to let the Romulans have the upper hand here.

Eventually they stopped as they came face to face with their hosts. Smiling at First Prince Consort Kalluum, the man looked a lot better since their first encounter. A very tall and muscular man, Kalluum’s sandy blonde hair almost appeared to shine against the candle light. Wearing an almost white outfit, the husband of the First Monarch had a number of insignias, medals and ribbons attached to what Burton considered to be their ceremonial dress uniform for the Sovereign Guard. A number of gold braids hooped from his shoulders to the buttons that did up his jacket while a dark blue belt sat comfortable around his waist. The way the prince’s jacket stretched taut around his shoulders when he shifted snagged and could hold the attention of anyone, presenting how the fabric clung close to his body showing off every rippling muscle underneath. If a sign of strength was what the good prince wanted to put across to everyone, it was certainly evident. 

However to his left was his wife, the First Monarch of the Sovereign Dynasty of Krios. Queen Kaitaama wore the same colour as her husband, with a simple red sash over her right shoulder that bore the crest of something that Burton didn’t recognise. Sat carefully on her head was her crown. She looked a lot different compared to the picture taken of her over two years ago when Enterprise encountered her. Her beauty was stunning. Hair braided upwards and to the back while her eye lashes seemed to be long as she smiled too at Burton, welcoming him to her home. Her wrist had several lockets around them along with what appeared to be pearls around her neck too. 

“Fleet Captain Lloyd Burton, welcome to Krios.” Kaitaama said as she extended her gloved right hand towards him. 

Realising he had to take it, Burton recalled the protocol briefed to him by Harris and Avery only a few hours ago. As gently took it into his right hand, he bowed before her and kissed it. “Thank you, Your Majesty.”

After that formality was over, she turned to her husband. “I believe you know my husband already.”

“Your Royal Highness.” Burton said with a simple bow of his head.

“Captain.” Kalluum said, still smiling. 

Turning to her left, the queen continued with more introductions. Another member of the royal family, this time her brother and then beside him several military leaders and other aides. Once she was finished, Burton made the introductions. First he started with both Avery and Harris, then he introduced the MACOs and left Stewart to last. 

“Let me make this introduction.” Kalluum said, stepping in. “My beloved, this is the man I told you about that saved my life and many more of our brave soldiers.”

Stewart instantly blushed. “I wasn’t the only medic around, sir.” He tried to say but his voice changed into a higher pitch which required him to cough slightly and let it return to its normal level. 

“Nonsense. I owe him a debt.” Kalluum said and turned his attention to the young nurse. “I hope one day I get to repay it.”

Kaitaama smiled at Stewart. “It takes a lot for my husband to become highly impressed with others, especially anyone in the medical profession.” She said sweetly. “Perhaps we can show you our appreciation by having a private meal with you and perhaps you can be our guest here, would that be suitable for you lieutenant?”

“Oh yes, that would be most excellent.” Kalluum added. He looked over to Jenkins, “Corporal Jenkins is Lieutenant Stewart’s husband. Perhaps he can join us too?”

“Indeed,” Kaitaama insisted as she looked back at the young MACO soldier. “You must be proud of his accomplishments, corporal?”

Biting his lip initially, Jenkins nodded and answered. “I am very proud of my husband and his achievements, Your Majesty.”

“Then that settles it,” She said and looked back at Burton. “As long as we have your permission, captain?”

Burton just looked at Stewart and then back to his host. “I have no qualms.”

Smiling at the good news, Kaitaama then changed the subject. “Now, captain, I believe we have a lot to discuss. Will you join us in the main dining hall? My chefs have prepared a banquet for us to enjoy while we discuss taking relationships between our people further.”

“It would be our honour to join you.” Burton replied. 

“And while we eat, I want to hear more about these Romulans and understand further what you believe they have been up to.” Kaitaama insisted as she extended her arm towards Burton’s arm for him to link with her. 

Following her lead, Burton did just that as they led the group into the next room to make further plans.