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

Whatever The Cost May Be – EPILOGUE

Portsmouth, Hampshire, United Kingdom of Great Britain, Earth
Wednesday, December 31st, 2155
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With five minutes left until midnight, Lloyd Burton sat quietly, staring at the Solent as a soft breeze caressed against him. 

“There you are,” spoke a familiar voice.

Gazing over his shoulder, Lloyd welcomed his brother, Roman, in joining him from where he sat on the bench by the waterside. “You okay, Roman?” Lloyd asked his brother.

Nodding, he passed a glass of whiskey towards Lloyd before sipping on his own. “I will be, you?”

“Likewise,” Lloyd solemnly said. “Did our mother send you out to find me?”

“She did wonder where you went; I’ve got Seth covering for us,” Roman answered. 

The two Burton siblings were quiet for a moment. Sitting wearing full tuxedos, both men could hear from where they were seated the various other New Years’ Eve parties going on in the busy city of Portsmouth. All sorts of noise and music were being played. Several yachts docked at the nearby harbour were also hosting their celebrations. 

“It was nice for her to invite your crew to the party,” Roman commented.

Lloyd just nodded before sipping on his drink. “Madison would have hated it, though.”

“Yeah,” Roman agreed. “She was someone who kept her personal and professional life as two separate entities.”

“I almost insisted that mum call off the party, but she insisted it went ahead. It just doesn’t feel right to celebrate,” Lloyd said seriously. “Especially with what has happened.”

“I keep seeing those images coming through the sensor feeds in my mind of the battle,” Roman said after drinking his beverage. “And I’m just expecting her to turn up.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean.” Lloyd agreed. “I can’t believe she’s gone.”

“Just like that,” Roman added.

During, what was now named the Battle of Sol, Voyager took heavy damage before the Coalition fleet arrived. After several fighters rammed Challenger, it could not keep up with the rest of the fight. Sensors were compromised, so it missed what had transpired as the last Romulan nuclear warheads had been dealt with. While Poseidon had been able to take out one, heading straight for the Luna colonies, Voyager sacrificed itself to destroy five warheads that had almost reached Earth. Their sister had given her life to save their homeworld. She and her entire crew had been praised as heroes, along with every other soul that had been lost that day. The casualties were in the thousands, and a large proportion of the defence fleet was lost. Also, those ships that had survived, every single one of them, were heavily damaged. Hundreds more were injured. Starfleet’s victory came with a bitter taste. Coalition forces had caught up with the Romulan attack force, and only a few had escaped their eradication. Now the job of rebuilding, repairing and regrouping was at hand. 

Unable to deal with the loss of her daughter and in a very uncharacteristic way, Lloyd’s mother insisted that her New Year’s Eve party go ahead. She ended up inviting the entire crew of the Challenger, along with the family and close friends that had lost someone on Voyager. She felt it was appropriate to show those that they had lost that their deaths had meaning and that they should be celebrated. Not having the strength to argue with her, Lloyd had gone along with it. 

Lloyd turned to his brother, “I heard you’re returning to the Discovery as its new first officer and chief engineer?”

He nodded, “Yeah, Starfleet wanted me to join her again. Her chief engineer has been reassigned to take command of one of the smaller ships that lost its captain. They need someone who knows the systems well enough to sort out repairs.”

“I’ve been told the same for Challenger as well. We’ll get repaired but the refit has been put on hold. Starfleet wants us out and back on the frontlines.” Lloyd said as he swished his drink around in its glass.

“Understandable; with Endeavour losing its entire bridge crew and Discovery taking heavy damage, I’m not surprised that Starfleet wants as many NX-class ships out there defending the border,” Roman said as he took a swig from his glass. “I’m planning to visit Captain Müller at Starfleet Medical before I ship out. The doctors say his prognosis looks positive.”

Lloyd nodded, “Let me know when you go; I’ll come with you to see Frank.” The mention of his old classmate from STC and the skipper of the Discovery made Lloyd feel even more down. During the battle, the Discovery had also been rammed by a Romulan fighter. Müller had been coordinating the ship’s battle repairs when an EPS conduit exploded near him. He was now at Starfleet Medical, in a coma, recovering from head injuries and severe burns. He wouldn’t be returning to the centre chair anytime soon. 

Just then, walking down to them with a cream-coloured silk shoal covering her shoulders while wearing a long black evening dress was Nicole Levesque. “Lloyd, Nathan, I’ve been sent out by Seth to call you back to the party before Big Ben chimes at midnight. He’s also said he is certain your mother will start singing if you’re not there to help prevent it!”

Smiling at his girlfriend as she approached them, Lloyd found himself depending on Nicole more and more in the last couple of days. Her small bump was starting to come through, her pregnancy could no longer be hidden away, and for once, Lloyd felt like there was something worth protecting, something worth defending. 

Whatever the cost, he would protect his family.