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

The Battle of Krios – SEVEN

Challenger NX-03, in orbit of Krios
Monday, November 23rd, 2155
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He opened his eyes gradually and carefully. Blinking a few times, Burton attempted to move his head; instantly he stopped as he felt the sudden surge of pain running through his body. Like a million electrical shots racing up and down his body all at once, he paused for a moment. Sighing inwardly, he knew he only had himself to blame for the condition he was in. Starting again, Challenger’s captain pushed himself up on his elbows to fully view his surroundings. Sickbay was quiet and straight away he caught the attention of his chief medical officer. She went over to a nearby communication panel, spoke into it before making her way over to him.

“Good morning sir,” Ben-Ami said as she took her medical scanner out of her pocket and started to run it over him, “how are you feeling?”

“Like I’ve been beaten up by a couple of Klingons.” He sarcastically replied. Struggling to get himself completely up, Ben-Ami put her scanner away as she assisted him to sit up on the bio-bed properly. “How bad am I?”

“Besides the numerous cuts and bruises, a few broken ribs, a broken ankle, a punctured lung and some nerve damage, you’re absolutely peachy!” She answered back in a similar sarcastic tone.

Realising he knew she would be in such a mood, Burton just nodded. “Thank you though.”

Ben-Ami looked at him with her dark brown eyes. “Anytime, sir.” She said, now dropping her annoyed manner. “Though promise me never to do such a reckless thing again? Hillary and I spent the entire night treating you. You won’t be back on your feet for at least another forty-eight hours.”

Before he could protest, the doors to sickbay parted away from each other allowing for three people to enter. Leading the pack was his first officer followed by his second officer and unexpectedly his sister. “You called in the cavalry?” Burton rhetorically asked Ben-Ami who in return just raised her eyebrows at him as if to say she had no choice. Looking back at his visitors, he knew where this upcoming conversation was going. “So let me hear it.” He said, knowing they were all assembled to give him another earbashing.

He was surprised to see his sister, who was the next senior most officer in the room, allow Rodham to speak. “We’ve arrived in orbit of Krios and your joint operation with Prince Kalluum has been seen as a triumphant success. Fleet Admiral Hathaway and President Littlejohn have given you the green light to begin formal proceedings in signing an alliance treaty with the Kriosians.”

“Seriously?” Burton queried. He was certain that they were having him on.

“Seriously.” Rodham stated. “Radio silence has been lifted and we’ve already heard from General Merik that the Klingon High Council has agreed for him to present the evidence of the Romulans’ interference in their conflict with the Kriosians.”

“That’s great news.” Burton said in a cheerful tone. “Anything else I should be aware of?”

“Long range sensors detected a flotilla of Klingon warships turning away from Kriosian space a few hours ago. They returned to their own territory but we believe they may have engaged Romulan ships.” Walker shared. “A small task group, composed of marauder type ships along with a few birds-of-prey, were nearby. Our forces didn’t have the chance to engage them, the Klingons seemed to have done a sweep up of the area. We are in a Romulan-free region at the moment.”

Really surprised to hear that as well, Burton continued to show his amazement. “Even better.” He added.

Madison then spoke up, “Alex, Cooper, Kefira, can you give me and my brother the room please?”

All three officers agreed and departed from sickbay, leaving just the two Burton siblings looking at one another for a moment.

Once the doors to sickbay had firmly closed, Lloyd looked at her and instantly took in a breath before talking. “Was Seth not allowed to join us?”

Holding her right index finger up, she took out her communicator, spoke into it and within a second the sickbay doors opened up and walking in was in fact his youngest brother, Seth.

“Really? The two of you need to have this chat with me?” Lloyd questioned.

As he walked across the sickbay, Seth threw his hands halfway in the air in an open way. “What do you expect, Lloydie? Especially when you agree to take on two Klingons?”

Not impressed at this intervention from them both, Lloyd just shook his head. “I cannot believe you both think you have the right to come on to my ship and give me a telling off for doing my job.”

“Your job doesn’t include getting into brawls with the natives, Lloyd.” Madison said with her arms crossed against her chest. “I’m surprised that you didn’t have a mutiny on your hands.” She added.

Deciding to avoid answering that one, Lloyd looked at them both. “So is that it, is that all you want to say to me?”

Seth groaned at his brother’s stubbornness. “Can you literally hear yourself, Lloyd? For one second can you take your head out of your arse and listen to us.” He said, now he was starting to get angry and normally it took quite a bit for Seth to become that irritated especially with Lloyd.

Shrugging his shoulders, Lloyd had no clue what exactly the two of them wanted from him. “Then tell me what I’m doing wrong that has caused both of you to use whatever influence you have in coming here to talk to me in this manner.”

“Fine,” Madison stated in a firm tone still with her arms crossed against her chest, “let’s start by talking about the fact you’ve just lost three critical members of your senior staff, a battle you planned and prepared for was usurped by an enigmatic species and to top it off prior to all of this you had to deal with our father and everything that surrounded his death. To top it all off you’re about to become a father and you decide to galavant on some wild undertaking to pursue the smallest chance you could change the outcome of the war. I’m pretty certain if we had a ship’s counsellor then they would want to be seeing you regularly. ”

Lloyd could sense she was carefully picking her words when it came to the subject about their father. The fact he had not died and he was part of some sort of undercover black ops group within Starfleet that felt they were justified in doing whatever they wanted to win the war. The cover up over their father’s death had taken a toll on Lloyd and his siblings, especially as they had to keep it a secret from their mother.

“You gotta admit Lloyd that all of that combined is a huge toll for one person to shoulder. Can you blame us both for worrying for you, especially when we hear on your return from negotiating with a warrior culture that you agreed to fight one of them almost to the death.” Seth added. “You’re lucky that the general didn’t kill you.”

“From what Doctor Ben-Ami tells me, if he had not collapsed when he did with that virus that came out of nowhere then he would have probably finished you and the prince off.” Madison stated. “So it wasn’t down to your brawn and muscles that got you through it, it was pure lucky that a virus woke up, caused him to lose his energy and become exhausted.”

Seth walked up to his brother and sat on the edge of his bed by his right side and placed his hand on his brother’s shoulder. “Can you blame us, Lloyd?”

Relenting, Lloyd nodded. “I get it, I do and when you explain it like that then yeah I can see why you may think I’ve gone mad.”

“We never said you were mad, bro.” Seth stated. “You need a splash of verbal cold water from your family to check you’re okay.”

Rubbing his face, Lloyd flinched in pain from doing such an action. “The war has been a lot to deal with, it has, but if we can end this sooner…”

“We get it.” Madison agreed, cutting him off as she walked up to him on the other side. “But we can’t let it change who we are. Remember you took command of Challenger because you wanted to be an explorer first, not a soldier.”

“The circumstances seem to have changed that.” Lloyd interjected with.

“For us all, but we need to remember what we are fighting for.” Madison said with strong conviction. “Just don’t forget it.”

Lloyd smirked at that. “You do know I’ve had similar chats with those three out there.” He said pointing to where he believed Rodham, Walker and Ben-Ami were.

“Oh I bet you have.” Seth replied. “Your doc is a lot scarier than mine on Republic.”

“Then listen to them a bit more. Cowboy tactics are not going to help you.” Madison advised him. “And I’m not going to be the one telling mum why you did something so stupid to get yourself killed.”

“Me neither.” Seth attached with urgency.

“Leave it to Roman then.” Lloyd said with a grin and a chuckle.

“Agreed.” Seth and Madison said in unison as they joined in with the slight laughter.

“Do you think they’re really telling him off in there?” Walker asked from where he, Rodham and Ben-Ami stood in the corridor. He pointed with his thumb towards the sickbay door.

Ben-Ami answered at first from where she stood with her hands behind her straight back. “From what I know of the captain and his family, they are awfully close. I’d assume with the loss of their father recently, Captain Burton and Lieutenant Burton needed some reassurance that Fleet Captain Burton isn’t placing himself in danger on purpose.”

Rodham was leaning against the bulkhead, with arms crossed against his chest, he had agreed to Captain Burton’s request after they had returned to Krios and rendezvoused with the rest of the task group. She hadn’t been happy to hear it and had insisted she be around when he had been treated and rested for a bit. “I’m sure a bit of sibling support may help the captain with his recovery.” He said trying to remain diplomatic, but he knew if he Madison Burton as an older sister then she would scare him if she ever thought he was doing something wrong.

“Commanders Rodham and Walker, are you free?” asked a voice from down the corridor that caused all three officers to turn around to see who it was.

“Martha,” Walker said as he saw his deputy approaching him with a tablet in her hands, “everything okay?”

Striding towards them, she put the tablet out in front of her to give to her superior. “I’m sorry to interrupt but those scans you asked me to take have brought up some interesting things. I’ve compared them to the ones we took earlier and ones taken by Voyager.”

“You fancy sharing something Cooper?” Rodham asked as he looked over the shoulder of the chief science officer who had taken the tablet out of Habiba’s hands.

Looking up from the scans and then passing them to Rodham, Walker answered him. “I asked Martha to run low level scans of Krios to see if there’s anything else out of the ordinary going on. Call it a gut instinct from previous diplomatic missions I’ve been on. There’s always something else going on behind the scenes we may not be aware of. When I was on the Miranda, it was something that Captain Lockhart insisted on us doing to make sure we had all of the information. I created a technique that avoided detection.”

“So in other words, you had Martha spy on potential new allies?” Ben-Ami checked.

Rodham spoke up, defending Walker, “And with great reasons to. It would seem the Kriosians have moved large numbers of their population while we’ve been away.” He showed the tablet towards Ben-Ami and looked back to Martha. “Do we know where they all are?”

“We can’t be certain without running more intensive scans of the planet which they will detect, but our best guess looking at what we’ve recorded is that they have moved them to underground shelters, including ones under their vast oceans.” Habiba answered.

Ben-Ami blinked a few times before speaking up further. “But why?”

Walker and Cooper looked at one another as they both seemed to have shared the same thought. “It’s almost as if they’re preparing for something bad to happen to their world.” Rodham stated.

“I think they think the Klingon invasion is inevitable and our time away gave them the chance to prepare for the worst.” Walker suggested.

“From the scans taken by Voyager, that would be a fair conclusion to make. Voyager’s sensors have shown a good number of ships entering the system and being in orbit, more than there were when we first arrived.” Habiba stated.

“So you’re saying the Kriosians are certain that this agreement the captain has fought his life for was for nothing? That they had no faith in any of this process and were just using us?” Ben-Ami proposed.

“I think you’re right Ro-fa.” Walker said with a disappointed tone. “Originally they wanted to make an alliance, probably hoping that they could draw us into their fight so they had a better chance of standing up against the Klingons. The temptation of new weapons and engines was a good enticement.”

“And when we presented them with the evidence of the Romulans taking control of their ships, it was a different piece for them to play and use.” Rodham sighed. “If this is true, then they’re using this time of a cease fire to prepare for a final showdown with the Klingons.”

“Can we be certain of their intentions though?” Ben-Ami checked. “I mean, though I’m not happy with what we’ve uncovered, can you blame them for preparing for the worse? It is pretty awful of them for not having faith in us bringing an end to this conflict with the Klingons but they’ve got a lot riding on this as much as we have.”

“Ro-fa Ben-Ami is right, the Kriosians have suffered a lot from the Klingons, how can we be certain the Klingon Chancellor and their High Council agrees to stop their invasion of Krios and focus on the Romulans instead?” Habiba offered. “It’s only because the captain has proven to one general he is honourable in their terms.”

“So what do we do?” Walker asked the group.

Sighing again, Rodham rubbed his forehead and then looked towards sickbay. “I’d need to tell the captain, but Kefira, he’s gonna need to be on his feet a lot sooner than you were predicting. We all need to be sharper with our wits with what’s going on, so we can see this thing through sooner rather than later.”

“I don’t advise it, but I understand why.” Ben-Ami said in a displeasing tone.

“Unfortunately we don’t have a choice in the matter.” Rodham countered back with.

“If we can delay signing the alliance, we may find out more about what the Kriosians are up to.” Walker suggested. “We do have two people who could find out more for us.”

Rodham turned to Walker, “Liam and Niall.”

“Liam and Niall.” Walker agreed. “We could get them to find out as much as they can about the Kriosian plans, especially as they’ve become extremely close to the first family.”

“They’re both my friends and I would hate to sound like I’m not supporting them, but are you sure they’re up for the task?” Habiba asked.

For a second no-one said anything, eventually Ben-Ami did. “As Commander Rodham said, we don’t have a choice in the matter. We can’t end up taking Earth into another war. The Commonwealth would collapse and the coalition wouldn’t survive either.”

“Your diagnosis is correct, Ro-fa.” Rodham said as he went back into sickbay to speak to his captain about what they had just discussed. Ben-Ami, Walker and Habiba followed in his trail.

Twentieth Session of Valtama, Third Season of the Regal Kaitaama Era
SGS-01 Kamala, Haydorian system

Stepping through the airlock together, Corporal Jenkins and Lieutenant Stewart carried their rucksacks over one shoulder each and each carried an extra satchel.

“I am not feeling great.” Jenkins groaned as they stepped through the scanners to be checked for anything dangerous on them. The Kriosian guards checked their belongings and allowed them to proceed.

“Ro-fa Ben-Ami said you might be feeling the same sensations like the First Monarch was.” Stewart assured him after they collected their belongings to carry on with their journey.

Looking around him and over his shoulder as they made their way down the large spacious corridor, Jenkins explained that was not the only reason he was feeling great. “I’m not cut out with what the captain wants us to do.”

“We have our orders to assist the diplomatic effort.” Stewart said keeping his volume just as low as his husband was.

Jenkins just sighed.

Several hours ago, both men had requested to return to Challenger under the disguise that Ben-Ami wanted to carry out a routine check on them. She had cited Starfleet Medical regulations to get them back. While she had actually carried out a check on them both, Fleet Captain Burton and others had given them a new assignment. Both of them were ordered to spy on the Kriosians and to gather evidence and/or determine what their endgame was with the Klingon threat as well as their intentions with becoming allies of Earth.  Recent evidence had made the captain reassess the entire situation. After returning to the Kamala, to continue their efforts in being guests of the first family, they were now equipped and ready to carry out their light mission of espionage. Neither of them were trained in this field, but after a short briefing from their commanding officer as well as Captain Trommler, the two men had returned to avoid any suspicions from the Kriosians over their intentions. Burton’s final words to them was to complete their assignment by any means necessary. Whatever it took.

“Nah, this isn’t good.” Jenkins complained again as he grabbed his stomach. “I am feeling rough as hell.”

“Maybe you need to be closer to the First Monarch.” Stewart suggested. “Let’s head to their infirmary and go from there.”

Moments later they were about to approach the Kamala’s medical ward when they were stopped by two guards standing outside.

“You cannot enter.” One of them said in a thick low voice.

“Please, my husband is not well and this may affect the First Monarch.” Stewart pleaded, trying to comfort his husband while carrying their luggage.

Both guards looked at one another and before they could answer the door to the medical facilities rolled back and Prince Kalluum stood there. “Liam, Niall, I wasn’t expecting to see you back so soon-” The Kriosian consort paused as he saw the distress that Liam was in and immediately reacted. “What’s wrong with him?”

“He’s not well.” Stewart said, almost snapping at the taller man. Though Kalluum had sustained injuries during his brawl with the Klingons, unlike Burton, he had recovered a lot sooner from them. A few cuts and bruises were patched over his face and arms.

“It must be the connection with Kaitaama, she has not been feeling well either.” Kalluum summarised and quickly offered to help Stewart by helping Jenkins enter sickbay. “He needs to be closer to the child.” He insisted.

As soon as they enter the Kamala’s infirmary and was brought to the private and secluded area that had been placed for the first monarch, Jenkins appeared to be in less pain and almost relieved. Kaitaama was lying on a bed, in a similar distressed appearance at first and soon it ended.

“Oh thank goodness.” She gently said. “Liam, I am so sorry. I didn’t expect our bond to be so strong.”

Jenkins just nodded as he got his breath back. “It’s fine, how is your child?”

“Doing well, thanks to you.” Kalluum said with a proud smile. “You both are amazing as is your captain.”

Stewart faking his response, put on a similar friendly grin. “We are pleased that things are moving in a positive way.”

“As are we.” Kaitaama said, sounding grateful. “Kalluum has just informed me of the brave actions your captain took to help my people. I am in his debt as much as I am with you both.”

“We were happy to help.” Jenkins said, sounding almost relieved that the pain he was in had settled down. “But can I ask, how long will this bond between us last?”

Kaitaama looked to Kalluum then back to Jenkins. “Normally it ends once the child is born.”

“Oh.” Jenkins said in surprise.

“Oh.” Stewart said in annoyance. “And if it doesn’t?”

“We can find a safe way to end it.” Kaitaama assured them. “That’s why, we were wondering if you both would remain with us for a bit longer as our guests. We are preparing to return to our official residency tomorrow to oversee the state dinner and ball we plan to host to celebrate your captain’s achievements ahead of the alliance discussions.”

“I suppose we don’t have much choice.” Jenkins responded.

Stewart shot a glance at his husband, annoyed at that prospect. “Liam, don’t you think we should discuss that with the captain first?”

“I can’t see the captain disagreeing with the fact I need to remain close to the first monarch.” Jenkins countered back with. “This bond can make us both unwell.”

“Please my friends, I promise you we will continue to look after you.” Kalluum assured them with a friendly smile.

Jenkins, without looking at Stewart accepted their offer. “We accept.”

“That’s great.” Kalluum said, his grin getting bigger. “I will make sure preparations are underway.” He looked at Stewart. “Niall, why don’t we leave these two and I get someone to help you with your luggage to your quarters?”

Reluctantly the lieutenant agreed, though they were married, his rank made him the senior officer and he was annoyed that his husband had made such a unilateral decision without consulting with either Fleet Captain Burton or Commander Rodham about it. “That will be helpful, thanks.” He said in almost gritted teeth.

Kalluum called over for some helpers to assist as he showed Stewart out. Placing his arm around Stewart as they departed he started a new conversation with him. “There is one thing I wish to ask of you, and before you say it, yes I know we’ve asked a lot of you and Liam but please hear me out.”

“Sure.” Stewart said, almost giving up on trying to keep a safe distance from the Kriosian prince, something that Burton had advised them to do while they undertook their covert mission. That said the captain had also told them to remain close to keep their work hidden.

“The fact you have saved not only my life, but the life of my wife and my unborn son, I feel it has brought us close. You were there with me when I fought Merik and I want to pay your friendship with a symbol of my gratitude.” Kallum stated, still keeping his arm around Stewart.

Stewart recalled each of those incidents and in particular what had happened in the last part of the fight between Kallum and Merik. He was certain that he had seen Kalluum use whatever powers he possessed to subdue Merik. Sharing that observation with his colleagues on Challenger earlier, Ben-Ami had wondered if this metamorphic empathic link that the Kriosian had was powerful enough to restrain others – she had even gone as to suggest that this ability was what caused Merik to collapse from the nehret, the virus she had detected in him. “What is it you had in mind?”

“Well Liam has his connection with Kaitaama, so I was wondering if we could undergo an old Kriosian ceremony that brought two soldiers together on the eve of battle. Effectively making them brothers-in-arms.” Kalluum asked. “It is a rare ceremony and when someone offers it then it is seen as a great honour, especially if it is from a member of the Kriosian royal family.”

Stewart paused in his step and turned to look up at Kalluum. “Do we become mentally linked like Liam is with your wife and baby?”

“The bond isn’t as strong in us males.” Kalluum said, “for a brief moment we share what we refer to our souls.”

“Soul mates.” Stewart said under his breath.

“Pardon me?” Kalluum said, not understanding what Stewart meant by that remark.

“Nothing, it’s just an old Earth suspicion that when two people are meant to be together, romantically, they’re soul mates.” Stewart stated.

“Are you soul mates with Liam?” Kalluum quizzed.

He considered it for a moment and then Stewart answered with a nod. “Yes,” He said affirmatively, “yes I am.”

“Then I promise you, our connection won’t break that. You will become an honoured member of the first family. Liam already has that privilege and with you both agreeing to being principal guardians to my son, then this will only make that connection stronger. It will be a great symbol for our upcoming alliance.” Kalluum pleaded.

“Whatever it takes.” Stewart mumbled under his breath, he turned to the prince and nodded once more. “It’ll be my honour.”

“Excellent!” Kalluum said. “We can share it at the state dinner after we announce we have made your captain an honorary member of  the Kriosian Sovereign Guard, but keep that a secret. We want to surprise him!”

“I’m sure Fleet Captain Burton will be pleasantly surprised.” Stewart grimaced as they carried on walking towards Stewart and Jenkins’ shared VIP quarters.

Late in the month of Merruthk, the Year of Kahless 781

IKS Vor’chem, in orbit of Qo’noS

“Korg, my friend,” Merik said as they entered the transporter bay of the Vor’chem,  “I assure you that I have had our specialists go over the evidence the Humans presented to us and the fact we were able to find that Romulan task group between our space, makes me certain that we have found out what happened at the N’Vak colony.”

Growling, Korg shook his head. “I do not understand how a Human and Kriosian were able to defeat two Klingon warriors. It is dishonourable.”

Merik stopped in his tracks and placed his hand firmly on the shoulder of his first officer. “My friend, it was an honourable battle under honourable terms. If there’s anything we’ve learnt about both the Humans and Kriosians is that they are fighters. They may not have the same honour as us, but we should admire their strong spirits.” Holding the data chip in his hand, he waved it in front of Korg. “My friend, more battles await us but against an enemy who tries to slay us from the shadows. The Romulans have made fools of us, puppets in their master game against the Humans. You and many other great warriors will make the Romulans pay for their treachery.”

“General, you will be there with us to bask in the glory of many fine battles.” Korg said as they stomped onto the transporter platform.

“I fear the nehret will take me away from such possibilities. My final act as a general will be to deliver this intelligence to our people. Kahless will be with us as we take on the Romulans.” Merik said.

“Qapla’!” Korg shouted.

The transporter beam was then activated and a few seconds later it deposited them in the great halls of the Klingon High Council.

Sitting in the centre was Chancellor M’Rek with other members of the council standing nearby. Calling for Merik to step forward, the Klingon leader waved his hand for them to approach him. “General Merik, you come before the High Council with the reasons why you have pulled our forces away from the Kriosian front. Explain yourself and present your information.”

Holding the data chip in hand, Merik raised it so all could see it as he started to pass it towards M’Rek. “Chancellor, my best warriors have determined that-” He paused as he felt a surge of pain in his body. “That-that-” He repeated and then clutched at his chest as he started to cough. Without being able to do much he fell to the floor with a mighty thud. Korg called out his name as he stepped forward to help his commanding officer.

“General!” Korg shouted as he took the man he had admired for many years into his arms and shook him.

Merik didn’t answer him, instead he took his final breath and with it dropped the data chip in his hand.

“What is the meaning of this?” M’Rek demanded as he pointed to the dead body at his feet.

Korg screamed a loud noise as he prepared those in the afterlife to receive the spirit of Merik. Other Klingons in the room joined in with the call, as did M’Rek. Once Korg was done he looked up to his leader. “Chancellor, the general fought honourable against our opponents but I now feel that whatever happened during that battle, the Kriosians have somehow poisoned him.”

“How can you be sure?” M’Rek asked.

“Because before the battle the general was as healthy as any young targ and after the battle he succumbed to the nehret.” Korg answered. “The Kriosians must have found a way to infect him and the data the general brought must be falsified.”

“If this is true, then the only honourable thing is to seek revenge for the general to ensure he earns a place Sto-vo-kor.” M’Rek replied, which had a number of cheers from other council members. “Commander Korg, son of Klarat, I hereby promote you to general and order you to resume the invasion of Krios. Make them pay!”

Standing up tall, Korg nodded. “It will be my honour, chancellor.”

“Qapla’!” M’Rek shouted and this was echoed by everyone else in the great hall.