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Part of Challenger: The Romulan War: Whatever The Cost May Be

Whatever The Cost May Be – SIX

Challenger NX-03, on patrol, Sol system
Friday, December 19th 2155
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Scratching his beard before he picked up his mug to sip it, Lloyd Burton nodded as he confirmed what he was now sharing with his sister. “Believe it.” He then drank his tea. “I was just as surprised as you.”

“It’s hard to consider, Lloyd,” His sister, Madison, said as she read the tablet he had just handed her. Sipping on her mug of coffee, the elder Burton sibling shook her head in disbelief. “Dad, was really behind this intelligence report?”

Shrugging his shoulders, Lloyd rested back in his chair from where they sat in his office. For the first time in a week, he could somewhat relax instead of being on tenterhooks waiting for the Romulans to arrive. A week had gone by, and still nothing. “Well, I can’t be sure he actually found out about it, but he definitely got it delivered to me.”

“And now, a week on, the entire fleet is deployed, ready for whatever may come our way,” Madison said before exhaling, “but it has been a week and nothing yet.”

Enterprise and its little scouting group will know for certain in a few days if the Romulans are really coming,” Lloyd said in between further sips. 

Settling into the armchair after resting the tablet on the arm of her seat, Madison raised her mug. Before the hot contents hit her lips, she asked the one awkward question she wanted to know, “Have you heard any more from dad?”

Lloyd shook his head. “Nothing more than just that report.”

Since their covert investigation to Mars, which revealed their father was working as an undercover researcher on Earth’s Warp Seven Project, Lloyd and his siblings had decided not to remain in touch with him. The fact he had faked his death and got himself involved with a clandestine group within Starfleet that would do whatever it took to defend Earth and the Commonwealth’s security interests had been enough for all four of them to call it a day and cut all ties with him. Their mother didn’t even know. 

“I heard from Roman the other day,” Madison shared, “he said that a Denobulan doctor from Interspecies Medical Exchange had come through with a possible treatment solution for Nathan.”

“That’s great news!” Lloyd smiled, “I thought they said that Nathan’s condition wasn’t treatable?” 

“Roman mentioned that the Denobulans have dealt with a similar condition. It will take several treatments, but the delusions and hallucinations have stopped.” Madison reported. “You should get in touch with Roman.”

“I will,” Lloyd agreed, pleased to hear that news. Their joint mission with the Discovery had left his brother’s boyfriend ill after going through Challenger’s transporter while escaping from a micro-singularity. He had suffered from a sort of breakdown of neurochemicals which no human doctor had been able to help him with. Roman had stepped away from his duties as Discovery’s chief engineer to help care for Nathan after they believed he would suffer from his condition for a long time. “Is he planning to return to duty?”

Madison nodded, “He said once Nathan was better, his been offered a position at the Starfleet Corps of Engineers to oversee supporting the construction of the next batch of NX-class ships.”

“Wow, I thought he’d return to the Discovery or apply to one of the other NX-class ships?” Lloyd said in surprise.

Madison shook her head and explained how Roman had told her he wanted to remain planetside until Nathan’s treatment was completed. “I think Roman is considering settling down.” She added.

“Seriously? Our little Roman wanting his own family?” Lloyd mocked somewhat before showing his support for his brother, “No, in all seriousness, good for him.”

  “Talking about family, how’s Nicole and the impending arrival of my three new nephews?” Madison said as she finished off her coffee.

“She’s well, and the triplets are doing fine, thanks.” He replied with a smile before his door chime went off. Looking over his shoulder from his chair at his desk, he answered it. “Come in.”

After the door had swooshed open, Lloyd’s first officer entered. “Captain, here’s our latest scan from our patrol.” Rodham handed a tablet before pausing and realising the captain had a guest, “Ah, sorry, sir.”

“Alex, it’s fine; come on in, and thanks,” Lloyd answered as he took the device. “You remember my sister?”

“Captain Burton, it’s good to see you again.” Alex extended his hand out towards her.

Standing up and opting to hug Rodham instead, Madison pulled him in. “It’s good to see you too, Alex.”  

“And that’s Captain Braddox, now,” Lloyd said, correcting his first officer.

After they let go and Madison sat back down in her seat, she explained that she had changed her name to take her husband’s instead. “I know it’s old fashion, but I was getting annoyed at always having to explain I’m not Fleet Captain Burton.” She glared mockingly at her brother, “Plus, Captain Madison Braddox sounds more kick-ass when I’m introducing myself in an opening hail.”

Alex chuckled at that last point, “Michael and I once discussed hyphenating our surnames, but then we realised Rodham-Stanton sounded more like a law firm than two senior Starfleet officers.”

Madison laughed at that as Lloyd looked over the scan report. “Well, nothing exciting for us to consider right now.” He passed the device over to Madison as he looked up at his first officer. “Voyager has joined our little patrol group, so make sure the data we exchange with the others is shared with them as well.”

Alex nodded in acknowledgement. “Are they replacing anyone?”

“The Poeisedon needs to head back to Jupiter Station for a quick maintenance issue. They’re still having trouble stabilising the guidance thrusters on their port nacelle.” Lloyd mentioned. 

“We’re no Poeisdon-class, but we’ve got guile in being smaller and quicker!” Madison interjected with a wry smile.

“And I hear a recent refit has given you additional forward pulse phase cannons?” Alex said.

“Yep, the engineers at Copernicus also improved hull polarisation by twelve percent. We’ll be able to hang in a firefight a little longer.” Madison said with some pride about her vessel. “Talking of Voyager, I should really return to her.” She stood up from her chair and handed her empty mug to her brother. “Thanks for the coffee, Fleet Captain Burton.”

“Anytime, Captain Braddox.” He teased in response, using her new name as he got up and gave her a hug. 

After letting go, she mocked him back with a salute and then said goodbye to Alex. 

Burton and Rodham watched her leave before turning to each other. “How’s the crew holding up, Alex?”

“They’re all fine, just itching to do something more than patrolling the home system,” Rodham replied. 

“I understand, but we can’t let our guard down when the Romulans are breathing this close down our necks,” Burton stated as he sat back down. “If morale becomes an issue-”

“Don’t worry, it’s not, but I’ve already spoken to Montanna; she’s planning to do a quiz night tonight, and tomorrow night, the plan is to screen A Christmas Carol with mulled wine and mince pies,” Rodham reported. 

“Wow, I had completely lost track of time and didn’t realise we were so close to the holidays,” Burton sighed. “Speak with Montanna and see if the galley can do something almost every night on the run-up to Christmas.”

“Well, Cooper and I were wondering if it would be acceptable to bring in a tree and put it up in the mess hall? Rosa and Rachele have also offered to decorate the hall too.” Alex said with a slight smirk. 

Chuckling at the idea, Lloyd nodded in agreement. “A bit of Christmas joy wouldn’t be a bad thing around here. Whatever you all thinks would be best, as long as it doesn’t detract from our duties.”

“Thank you, sir; I promise it won’t,” Alex assured him before leaving.


Day 22, Month of Sharveen

Imperial Battle Cruiser ChR R’Keth en route to Terrha

 

“Admiral, I have just received a communique from the Tal Shiar,” Commander Sirrel announced as he stepped into her office with a tablet in his hands.

Starring from her viewport at the starfields whizzed by them at warp, Admiral Kameetha turned with her hands still clutched behind her back at the base of her spine. “Interesting,” She said, not sounding too bothered about the Romulan secret police and their latest exploits, but she was curious to know why they were contacting Sirrel. “What news comes from our shadows?”

“It’s possible, admiral, that our task force has been discovered,” Sirrel reported before handing her the device. “One of our agents deep with the Klivammsu has alerted us that one of their ships reported detecting us, and this data may have been shared with Rheijiha trader.”

“Do the Hevammsu know we are approaching their world?” Kameetha checked, now worried that her plans were about to be ruined. 

“Our agents cannot be sure if the trader has sold this information on, but long-range scans show a small group of Terrha vessels heading in our direction,” Sirrel reported. 

Slightly enraged at that news, the admiral turned back to glaring at the starfield. The view showed the forward section of the R’Keth and their escorts. “Tell our commander to drop to warp two and to implement our alternate attack plans.”

“Admiral, if we break up the fleet and arrive at our rendezvous at different times, we will delay our attack,” Sirrel warned her.

“I know, commander, but if we want to keep our attack a surprise, a few extra days won’t harm our plans,” She kept her focus on the outside of the ship before finishing the reasoning behind her decision. “And I intend to see these plans through. Whatever the cost.”