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Part of Challenger: The Romulan War: Calling The Shots

Calling The Shots – Prologue

Lake District, Cumbria, United Kingdom, Earth
Sunday, May 1st, 2157
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Driving up the small country lane, Lloyd Burton started to grin as he saw his destination ahead of him. 

“Nicole, we’re here.” He spoke softly to his companion sat next to him. 

Blinking a few times, Nicole Levesque took in a deep breath as she looked at her

husband and then ahead of them. She copied his smile. 

Driving up in their electric SUV, they were making their way to the one place they were excited to be escaping to. Their new home. Though it was not new to them, it had been several months since they had been able to visit it. Between their work and raising four very energetic children, they rarely had time for themselves. 

Looking over her left shoulder at their four children, she saw them all napping as she had. All of them were peaceful. It was a rare scene, and it was something they both appreciated when it happened. Turning back around, Nicole looked at Lloyd. “Driving up was a great idea,” she whispered. 

“Why?” Lloyd questioned before he pampered into his mirror and saw the same sight his wife had just seen. His grin reappeared. “And you wanted to organise a shuttle to bring us.”

Rolling her eyes, Nicole admitted that he was right. “Let’s just hope peace remains when you pull up.”

“I bet it won’t,” He returned.

Slowly their vehicle approached the gated driveway. The automatic entrance picked up the remote sensor and opened in time for them to enter. Gradually they pulled up the drive and came to a calm halt just by the front door. Their home was a converted six-bedroom farmhouse that had been built in the early twenty-first century and had survived the Third World War intact. It sat by one of the many lakes and had huge grasslands around them. Furthermore, it had a smaller converted barn that allowed them to house guests. It was currently nighttime, so both buildings were lit up by the low-level ground lighting that was dotted around the edges. 

After turning off the engine, Lloyd looked over his left shoulder at his four children and smiled. All of them were small and young. He loved being a father, and a wave of gratitude overwhelmed him. For the next two weeks he, Nicole and their children would spend time in their new home as a family. Though they had their jobs and their war was still going on, taking a break to be with each other was something they desperately needed. 

“Dadda, we here?” spoke a small voice.

Lloyd smiled and looked at one of his sons, “Yes, Jacky Bear, we are but keep quiet, so you don’t wake up your brothers and sister.” He whispered and placed his right index finger to his mouth.

Their eldest son out of the triplets, Jack Burton-Levesque, smirked in his car seat with excitement and repeated the same action his father did. The two-year-old was too smart for his age sometimes and was certainly the cheekiest out of them. Beside him sat his youngest sister, nine-month-old Maddie. Behind them in their car seats and still asleep were Mikey and Tommy.  

After getting out of their car, Nicole proceeded to open the front door with Jack at her side and Mikey in her arms while Lloyd carried Tommy and Maddie. 

Walking into the living room, which was a long room with several sofas and armchairs (all in red tartan patterns) with a beautiful open fire at one end, the happy family were finally home. Against one wall was a grandfather clock, which was gifted to the couple by Lloyd’s mother after their wedding. Next to it was a flight of stairs to the bedroom upstairs. 

“It’s late; shall I get these four to bed while you see if you can crack open a bottle of wine?” Lloyd suggested as he headed for the stairs.

Liking that idea, Nicole agreed with a nod. “Sounds like a plan. I’ll whip some food up.”

“Amazing!” Lloyd said as he carried the two he had up to the bedrooms on the first floor.  

Half an hour later and after getting his sons to sleep in their shared bedroom, as well as, putting his baby daughter into her crib and switching the baby monitor on, Lloyd returned downstairs. Walking across the living room and into the open-planned kitchen, he found his wife playing some country music while she was cooking something. 

“You’ve changed,” Nicole indicated as she passed him a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and resumed stirring what looked like pasta. 

Looking down at his more casual attire, Lloyd nodded before taking the glass. “Yeah, Maddie puked down on me while I was burping her.” 

Nicole chuckled at hearing that recount. “She certainly takes after her namesake in keeping you on your toes.”

“Oh, I’m sure her aunt is watching over her and whispering ideas into her tiny ears,” Lloyd said with a smile as he referred to his sister before placing the baby monitor down on the breakfast bar. “What are you cooking?” 

“Simple pasta with tomato and herb,” She answered. “Did Jack go to bed?”

“After the eighth time of asking me to read him another story,” Lloyd shared as he sipped on his glass of wine. “Again, I’m sure his namesake is encouraging him to push my buttons.”

“Hey, Jack Conrad did not push either of our buttons.” Nicole pointed out. “The only buttons he was good at pushing were those that belonged to Challenger’s helm.”

“Yeah, true,” Lloyd admitted. Noticing his wife had put some crisps into a bowl, he helped himself to it. “So, I just want to check that you’re okay with Alex staying with us at the end of next week?” 

Rolling her eyes, Nicole shook her head at her husband. She couldn’t believe he was checking with her again. “Yes!” She insisted. “I know how much he loves spending time with the children, and he is their godfather.” 

“Thanks, Nic, you’re the best,” Burton said as he leant across the bar and planted a kiss on her cheek. 

“Yeah, yeah, Fleet Captain Burton, don’t think you can get around me that easily!” She remarked with a smirk. “Now, go lay the table.”

“Aye, Captain Levesque!” Burton responded as he jumped off his stall and stopped as he heard his daughter starting to whimper on the baby monitor. “Duty calls!” He said as he headed back upstairs to help settle little Maddie back down to sleep.