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Part of Challenger: All For One & One For All

THREE

Portsmouth, Hampshire, United Kingdom of Great Britain, Earth
Friday, September 27th, 2155
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The cold British autumn rain splattered gently against the Burton residence. It was early in the evening as Lloyd looked out of the bay window of his father’s study. He believed the weather was a perfect reflection of how he felt at that point: miserable. Since returning home to see his family to deal with his father’s death he hadn’t had time to stop to reflect on anything. The past twenty-four hours had gone past him like a blur. The moment he had arrived home yesterday afternoon he had discovered that a memorial service had been arranged for his father the next day. He had spent the evening before spending quality time with his family. It had given him the chance to greet the latest edition to the Burton clan: his nephew Oliver. Lloyd had held Oliver in his arms for a very long time, Madison had offered many times to relieve Lloyd of the burden of carrying her son, but Lloyd had told her he was fine. In actual fact he was also trying to make sense of the fact that he himself would be a father soon. He hadn’t told anyone in his family about the transporter accident that Levesque and he had gone through. It didn’t feel like the right time to do it and he needed time to make sense of it all too. One side of him was excited about becoming a father while on the other hand he didn’t know how they were going to raise the triplets especially as both of them were starship officers. Could he get away by asking his chief engineer to build a crèche on the ship? Would Starfleet ever allow their officers to have their families with them on active assignments? There were just too many things to consider at the moment and none of them seemed appropriate to deal with at this point in time. Lloyd’s attention needed to be with supporting his family and mourning for his father.  

Now as he walked around the study, only hours after his father’s service at Portsmouth Cathedral, he began to take in what was his father’s private sanctuary. Memories began flooding in, like the time when he and his father had an argument in the room after Lloyd had told the family he was following his sister’s footsteps in joining Starfleet. Despite that moment it had served as the place where they had reconciled from that disagreement. Walking around the glass desk, which sat in front of a bay window, Lloyd looked down at the various photo frames that his father had placed on it. There was one of his parents’ wedding day, various pictures of Lloyd and his siblings as children and teenagers. Then in the centre of them all was a recent one of Madison, Stephen and Oliver. Lloyd picked it up and smiled at how happy his sister appeared in it with her recently married husband and new-born child. As he carefully put it back down, the wooden door to the room slowly creaked open. He looked up and was pleased to see his brother Seth walking in.

“Hi Lloyd.” Seth spoke as he closed the door behind him.

“Hey Seth.” Lloyd replied as he watched his brother enter the room, placing his hands into trouser pockets of the black suit he was wearing. All of his siblings had agreed not to wear their Starfleet dress uniforms for their father’s service. Instead they wore black smart civilian clothing instead. The three brothers had all worn black suits with black skinny ties while Madison had worn a black dress. 

“Dad kept a lot of books.” Seth mentioned as he guided his hand over a shelf of books. That was a typical Seth comment to make, he wasn’t a deep reader himself. How he got through Starfleet training without reading was a blind mystery to Lloyd and his other siblings. Along one wall of the study was an entire array of bookcases filled with numerous hardbacks with a majority of them being to do with his field of study in physics. “Do you think he read every single one?” He added.

Lloyd was now sitting on the edge of his father’s desk studying the more photographs that sat on the sideboard in front of the bay window. Again, most of them were family pictures and some of his father’s colleagues. “Knowing dad, I would say he read every single one of them more than once.”

Seth lightly chuckled at his older brother and decided to copy him while sitting on the edge of the desk. “So how bad was it?” He asked Lloyd.

“How bad was what?” Lloyd questioned back, looking confused at his brother’s line of questioning. 

“You know, the constant battles with the Carreons and Romulans.” Seth elaborated. “Admiral Gardner briefed us on what you had to deal with when news got out…”

“We were alive?” Lloyd finished, looking back down at the photographs and crossing his arms. “Well, it wasn’t a walk in the park Seth.”

“I bet.” The younger brother said. He paused before he spoke again. “Did you lose anyone?”

Lloyd shook his head. He knew Seth was trying to be supportive in his own way. “Thankfully not, but almost all of the crew were injured one way or another.”

“Even you?”

Lloyd just nodded sombrely.

“The Republic hasn’t seen any action yet.” Seth then stated, trying to fill the silence that quickly appeared between them. “After the incident at Archer Four we were assigned to bring all the colonists back under direct orders from Prime Minister Samuels.”

“Seriously?” Lloyd asked, surprised at the news of the evacuation of the colony. Previously Starfleet had wanted to build an outpost there and develop the colony to be self-sustaining. The work that Challenger did after removing the Romulan threat from the area now felt like it was for nothing.

“Yeah, the declaration of war was too much for Starfleet to be able to properly defend the system. It was Madison’s last mission on Voyager to take charge in the evacuation of the colony.” Seth explained. “Hopefully we’ll be able to return to the Archer system once this war is over.”

“Let’s hope.” Lloyd said. “When’s the Republic leaving Earth?”

“It left three days ago.” Seth stated, when he said that Lloyd looked at him worried about his future in Starfleet. “Don’t worry she’s escorting a convoy to Alpha Centauri and will be back in two to three weeks.” He paused. “Hopefully.”

“They’ll be back, don’t worry about that Seth.” Lloyd said, trying his best to keep Seth’s spirits up. “Captain Jennings wouldn’t want to go on another convoy duty without his favourite pilot!”

Seth chuckled at that. “Yeah he would be lost without me, but he was brilliant at letting me have the time off to be here with mum when the news came in about dad.”

“I’m sorry I couldn’t have been here sooner.” Lloyd said.

Seth then wrapped his left arm around his brother’s shoulders. “Hey, don’t worry Lloydie, the main thing is you’re here and safe. We thought we had lost you too.”

Lloyd smiled at his brother, grateful for his words and then pulled him into a hug. “I’m glad to be here too…” He paused as they hugged and decided to call Seth by his nickname just like he had by using Lloydie. “…Sethers!”

Seth pulled back from the hug while groaning at the use of that name. “I hate it when you call me that!”

Lloyd had a smug smile now. “Hey, I’m your big bro, I’m allowed to embarrass and annoy you.”

“Just make sure Captain Jennings doesn’t hear it.” Spoke a stern feminine voice from behind them.

Instantly both men turned around and were surprised to see Fleet Admiral Moira Hathaway standing in the doorway. Lloyd instantly wondered how she had gotten in so quietly. The admiral had attended the service, which was odd for her to do so. As the Commander-in-Chief she had the authority to send someone from the admiralty on her behalf to represent her and Starfleet for someone of their father’s. It was rare for her to leave Headquarters to attend such an event, however she had told Lloyd she knew his father well. Perhaps the two of them went back further than any of them knew? The moment it had sunk in with both Lloyd and Seth that the Starfleet Commander-in-Chief had just entered the room they both instantly stood to attention.

“Gentlemen at ease, please.” Hathaway gestured by raising her right hand. “This is your home and we’re not on duty.” She continued.  

Seth looked nervously at Lloyd; he had never met the admiral before and was worried about what she wanted. The moment he sensed Lloyd being calmer he relaxed slightly. 

“Ma’am, can we help you?” Lloyd asked.

Hathaway smiled slightly and walked further in the room, straightening her. “I hate to impose, but lieutenant, would you mind giving me a moment with your brother in private please?”

Seth automatically nodded, like a drone that had been programmed to respond in a certain manner when the Commander-in-Chief walked into the room and to do whatever she asked of you. “Yes, of course ma’am.” As he walked out, he looked at Lloyd and gave him a worried glance. Lloyd registered the expression and gave his brother a look to say he would catch up with him later.

Once Seth had closed the door behind him Lloyd offered his guest to take a seat in one of the armchairs that was placed in the centre of the room. Hathaway was grateful for the gesture and sat in one of the modern looking armchairs. The chairs matched the dark red décor that his father had adopted for the room. They had a black, red and white chequered pattern in the fabric that covered them. 

“How can I help you ma’am?” Lloyd asked after he took a seat in the opposite chair.

Hathaway pulled out a small device from the inside pocket of the charcoal-black speckled suit jacket she wore above a black collarless blouse. She too had not worn her Starfleet uniform in possible respect to Doctor Burton. She activated the device and placed it on the table before them. It looked like a silver pen, however instead of a nib at one end a cobalt blue light flashed from either end of it.  Lloyd recognised the device instantly. His time in security training meant he had come across it before. The device was a sound scrambler and was used out in the field to prevent others using listening devices from being able to record conversations. It had been developed by the British Military Intelligence during the Third World War and later enhanced by Starfleet Security who would use it primarily for covert missions. Challenger had five in storage that Lloyd knew of. With the admiral producing such a device made Lloyd suspicious about what they were about to talk about. 

“Captain Burton before we go any further, I want to make it clear we didn’t have this conversation officially.” Hathaway said once she was satisfied that the scrambler was properly working. 

The fact she had used his rank made Lloyd realise this was now business she was about to share with him, yet the remarks and tone of her voice made him know she didn’t want it being shared with anyone else. “I understand ma’am.” He answered.

“Excellent.” She said and relaxed a bit into the chair. “Captain, I’m not sure how to say this and I don’t have any hard evidence to support my claim. I just have a hunch, however over the years I have learned to trust them and to follow my gut instincts when something doesn’t always sit right with me.” Pausing to take a brief glance, she realised that she had yet to convince Burton of anything yet. “Captain, that may sound like a whimsical approach, one not fitting the leader of Starfleet, nevertheless I need your help and I believe you will be interested in this matter.”

“Okay.” Lloyd slowly said, still puzzled at her words.

There was a brief lull in their conversation before the admiral continued. “Have you read the investigation report into your father’s death?” She asked.

Lloyd shook his head. “No, but my mother told me what they discovered. There was an overload in the shuttle’s deuterium injectors that caused the explosion.”

She paused and looked at the captain with an indescribable expression. “Lloyd before you were a captain you were considered one of the best armoury officers in the fleet. Your strategic way of thinking makes you one of our most valuable assets out in the field. You are good at seeing the links when patterns are being formed. I’m eager to get you back out to be involved in the war efforts, but before you do that, I’m encouraging you to re-examine the circumstances around your father’s death.”

Lloyd squinted his eyes at her. “Ma’am is there something more that I need to be aware of?”

“As I said, I have a hunch that there’s more to it than it seems.” She pulled out a small memory disc and placed it on the table. “Unfortunately, right now I feel I can’t give this issue to anyone at Starfleet Headquarters to investigate. Knowing who to trust is everything in this business, be that as it may, I still think there’s something else happening, things don’t quite appear right.  As such I want to leave it to you to deal with.”

Lloyd sat back in his chair. He was curious to find out if there was more surrounding his father’s death, but he hadn’t had the chance to actually come to terms with his father’s death (alongside the news of becoming a father himself). He still couldn’t quite believe he was having this conversation with the Starfleet commander-in-chief. What she was saying was now messing with his emotions and he couldn’t quite think clearly with them now.  

“I know I’m asking a lot from you at such a difficult time captain, but if my instincts are correct this could have a massive impact on our national security.” Hathaway remarked. She then stood up. “If you need to call in people to help you then do so, however I ask you keep this information limited to yourself and a select few of those you truly trust. If what I just gave you got out then it could have damaging effects to Earth, its Commonwealth and possibly the relations with our allies.”

Lloyd just nodded, still unsure of how to respond completely to Hathaway. “I understand ma’am.” He lied, as he still didn’t quite comprehend what she was implying. He was trying to work out how his father’s death could have serious implications for national security and the current political situation.  

“Get in touch with me when you have something and only me. Do I make myself clear captain?”

“I do.” He answered and looked up at her.

“Good luck.” She whispered as she switched off the scrambler, placing it back in the pocket she had retrieved it from before leaving the room. 

Lloyd stared at the memory disc for a moment before picking it up to place it in his pocket. He examined the octangular shaped disc against the light, wondering what to do next.

 

The moon gleamed hard as it pushed its rays through the wisps of the remaining grey clouds that filled the night sky. It was quickly approaching midnight and Lloyd had been unable to sleep since their final guests had left his mother’s house. He and his siblings had helped tidy up after they insisted their mother take an early night and get some much-needed rest. For the first time in Lloyd’s life he had seen a different side to his mother. His mother was a compassionate, independent and confident woman, the true matriarch of the Burton family. Her strong moral compass and intelligence attracted people to want to get to know her. While her glamorous and fashionable styles echoed through everything she wore. She was one of a kind of a woman. But today a sense of frailty was draped over her like a cloak of darkness. Her normal sociable approach to all gatherings had evaporated. Tear stained cheeks and red puffy eyes along with a sense of sorrow now filled out her features. Lloyd had never seen his mother seem so weak before. It was a shock not only to him, but to the rest of the family too. He and his siblings had finally discovered her source of strength had been their father in all these years. The work of mingling with other family members and those who had attended the service fell to Lloyd and his siblings to undertake. His mother had kept to herself for most of the day. The odd faded smile here and there when friends and family members offered their sympathy and comfort, yet she was unable to go further than giving them a small grateful beam in an attempt to thank them. The moment the last of the guests had left, Madison had taken their mother to her room so she could rest. Madison had returned almost an hour later, stating that she had left their mother listening to the song that their parents had danced to at their wedding. Prior to them all retiring for the evening, Madison had returned to her mother and found her asleep, still quietly listening to the song that was on repeat. After dimming the lights in her room, Madison had left their mother alone to deal with her grief in her own private sanctuary. 

Lloyd had headed up to his bedroom, just like everyone else had, but he still couldn’t sleep. He was lying on the massive king-size bed in just his t-shirt and jogging bottoms, staring up at the ceiling. His bizarre conversation with Fleet Admiral Hathaway still rang in his ears. When Seth had asked him what she had said Lloyd had brushed it off as nothing and told him he would tell him another time. Lloyd’s thoughts were interrupted by a quiet whine coming from his sister’s room (that was adjacent to his across the corridor). Slowly creeping across the balcony, he gently pushed the door open to find his nephew wide-awake and fidgeting in his cot. Deciding not to wake his sister or brother-in-law from their much-needed rest, Lloyd had scooped the infant up into his arms and carried him out carefully. 

Lloyd had made his way downstairs and returned to his father’s study. Oliver was slowly drifting off in his arms when Lloyd finally decided to discover what was on the disc the Starfleet Commander-in-Chief had given him. Impressively, he kept Oliver in one arm as he retrieved the disc from his right pocket. He placed it on the glass desk before switching on his father’s computer. Once it was operational and he was logged in, under his father’s account (Lloyd knew his father’s passcode as he had never changed it for almost fifteen years now), Lloyd inserted the disc and waited for it to load up its contents. 

Oliver stirred slightly in his uncle’s arm and extended his small hands to take a firmer grip of Lloyd’s top. Lloyd smiled at his nephew’s small gesture, loving every moment of having the child in his arms. The idea that one day he would have his own children sitting in his arms excited him now. He knew he would have to eventually tell everyone, and he wondered if the news would help lift his mother’s spirits. The whole sensation of holding Oliver and thinking about his own children had distracted him enough not to realise he had been joined by his other brother Roman.

“What are you doing Lloyd?” Roman whispered from across the room.

Lloyd looked up, almost startled to see someone else but he kept his posture to avoid disturbing Oliver. “Roman, I thought you were asleep.” He said quietly back.

“Likewise, now answer my question.” Roman replied as he moved further into the room, holding on to the door behind him to ensure it closed slowly without making too much noise, unfortunately a few quiet creaks sneaked in as the door met the frame.   

“I couldn’t sleep.” Lloyd mumbled and then looked at the little bundle in his arms. “Plus, I heard this one stirring in his sleep and thought I would give Madison and Stephen the night off. Why aren’t you asleep?”

Roman wasn’t completely buying his brother’s explanation. “I think I’ve become too spoiled by Discovery. My bed doesn’t feel the same here as it does back there. Plus, my mind is racing with too many thoughts at the moment.”

Lloyd looked back up at his brother. “You wanna talk about it?”

Roman shook his head, “Nah, just missing Nathan I reckon, but thanks.” He paused for a moment, curious what his brother was doing at their father’s computer. “So, what are you doing here?”

Lloyd sighed, knowing he couldn’t keep a secret from Roman. They were too close and Roman knew when he was keeping something from him. He pressed the eject button and pulled out the disc to show Roman. “Fleet Admiral Hathaway gave this to me earlier.” He waved it in the air before putting it back in.

“What is it?” Roman asked.

“It’s related to dad’s death.” Lloyd started to explain. “She’s told me to re-look at the circumstances behind the shuttle explosion.”

Roman was confused at what his brother was going on about. “How come?”

“She said it was a hunch that there was something more going on and that it could be related to national security and would have a damaging effect on the coalition.” Lloyd answered as he put the disc back in. The computer reloaded the disc contents on to the monitor before him. Lloyd pressed a few buttons on the keyboard before him and mirrored its image to the large flat plasma screen that hung on the wall so Roman could see it too.

“Dad was one of Earth’s leading physicists, especially when it came to warp theory. Maybe he was involved in a secret project with Starfleet?” Roman offered loosely.

“A secret project that the Starfleet Commander-in-Chief was unaware of and has asked me to look into off the record?” Lloyd countered back with, his voice showing no confidence in his brother’s suggestion. He didn’t want to go with Roman’s off the cuff idea, nevertheless he had pondered over the idea of his father being involved in something classified for the war effort. The file directory finished loading and a Starfleet insignia appeared on the screen, requesting for level ten clearance to access the data on the disc.

“You never know Lloyd.” Roman remarked as he looked at the screen. His eyes squinted at the information that was displayed. His eyes widened when he noticed something curious about it all. “Level ten authorisation required?” He commented.  

“Captain’s eyes and above.” Lloyd said as he stood up to stand beside his brother, still holding on to his baby nephew. “Why would the admiral give me documents that are for my eyes only?”

“Madison could see them too.” Roman stated. He looked to his brother almost impatiently. “So, are you going to put your code in or what?”

Lloyd rolled his eyes at his brother’s insistence and moved back to the keyboard to input his security authorisation code. “If I get arrested for sharing sensitive information with you then I’m going to ensure you share a cell with me.”

“I wouldn’t expect anything less.” Roman said with a cheeky smile.

The computer accepted his code and unlocked the files for them. A few of the files automatically opened, including one showing a video recording of their father entering the shuttle and a few moments later it explodes, alongside it was the official Starfleet report of what happened. 

“I don’t get it; this isn’t worth being encrypted for level ten clearance.” Roman said, perplexed. He had seen all of this before. Why was all of this information locked down? Looking towards his older brother who also shared his sentiment across his face, Roman realised his brother was just as confused as he was. “Okay, let’s get a cuppa. If we’re going to solve this then I need to be more awake.” Roman suggested.

 

A few hours later Madison had joined her brothers when she had woken up to feed her son. She had found Oliver being cared for in the arms of both of his uncles. The young infant was fast asleep as they took it in turns to walk around their father’s study with him. Lloyd and Roman had filled her in with what they were up to. Neither of them could keep it a secret from her, over the years they had learnt that Madison could get anything out of her brothers with just a certain look. Now the three Starfleet officers were trying to work out what Admiral Hathaway was going on about over their father’s death.

“This doesn’t make sense.” Madison said as she sipped on her third mug of tea. She was sat behind her father’s desk now, reading again all of the information that the disc had contained. “There’s nothing here that makes dad’s death suspicious. Starfleet Security did a good job on reporting on everything. I can’t see how this can be seen as a threat to national security!”

Roman who was pacing the room with a tablet in his hands, agreed with her. “I’ve read this investigation report too many times. I can’t see any fault in what they found after the explosion. There were no traces of any evidence that the shuttle had been sabotaged. It was an accident. The Starfleet engineers that wrote this report were thorough.” 

Lloyd, who was now cradling Oliver, was staring out of one of the windows at the dark night sky. He was starting to lose hope and wondered if Hathaway was playing a game of some sort on him. “It doesn’t make sense.” He muttered.

Leaning back in her father’s chair, Madison rubbed her face with both hands before looking back at her brother. “Go through it again for us, word for word, what Fleet Admiral Hathaway said the moment she turned on the scrambler.”

Turning around to look at his older sister, Lloyd was at a loss as to where she was going with this. “What does that have to do with this?”

Madison rose from the chair and crossed her arms. “It just seems weird that she spoke to you in particular about this.” She gestured to the files currently on display. “These are all encrypted for level ten. She could have come to me with them, so why you?”

Roman nodded in agreement. “Madison makes a good point Lloyd. Perhaps we need to take a step back and look at it from the admiral’s point of view. Why didn’t she go to the two Burtons who have level ten clearance? Why you?”

“I dunno why she spoke to me.” Lloyd slightly protested. “Perhaps you were too busy to speak with? She did take off after speaking to me, maybe she wanted to share it with one of us before leaving. I was by myself and away from anyone else at the time she came in, well except for Seth and she asked him to leave us.”

“I don’t buy it, the admiral is known for making logical and decisive choices, that’s why she’s so liked by so many, particularly the Vulcans.” Madison stated. “She spoke to you for a reason.”   

“Then let’s think about this logically.” Roman suggested. “The only two things that make either of you different are your years of service in Starfleet and the class of ships that you currently command.”

“But you’re on a NX-class ship like Lloyd. Why did she not see you?” Madison pointed out to Roman. Again, no-one had an answer to that. “If we’re going to be logical about it then it can’t be anything to do with the class of ship we serve on. Years of service can’t be it either.”

Lloyd squinted his eyes as he focussed on trying to remember what the admiral said to him. “I don’t think it’s about our current postings or ranks. I think it’s to do with what I did before I became a captain.” He said as he looked at the two of them.

“Come again?” Roman said, confused as to what Lloyd was trying to say.

“The admiral said I was considered one of the best armoury officers in the fleet. That my strategic way of thinking made me one of our most valuable assets out in the field, as I am good at seeing the links when patterns are being formed.” Lloyd shared. 

“Talk about stroking your ego.” Roman remarked as he rolled his eyes.

“From what I know of Hathaway and from the few times I have dealt with her she doesn’t mince her words. As I said she’s decisive, she’s known for the precision in picking her words. There’s always a reason.” Madison stated, trying to ignore Roman’s last comment.

“So, she’s saying that I need to think like an armoury officer instead of a captain and I would see the link before anyone else would?” Lloyd asked out aloud.

“Possibly?” Madison answered, trying to sound as helpful as she could. From the tone of her voice it made it sound like she was unsure of the possible tenuous link that her brother was making. “It would make sense. My background is science, Roman is engineering and Seth is a flyboy. If you weren’t a starship captain, then this type of thing would be something you would deal with as an armoury officer.”

Roman looked confused as he spoke. “Armoury officers are only good at blowing things up or coming up with tactics. I should know, Nathan is constantly reminding me how good he is at them both and that I’m the one who has to clean up after him.”

“But armoury officers also deal with security matters.” Madison fired back. 

Lloyd had gone quiet at this point, closing his eyes for a moment to try and make sense of all of this. He took in a breath through his nose, smelling the fresh odour coming from his baby nephew who was still in his arms. Instantly, he opened his eyes as if a light had been turned on and looked at his sister and brother. “Security, that has to be it.”

“What is?” Roman queried, looking at Madison for answers as to what Lloyd was going on about. 

Lloyd rushed over to his father’s desk, handing Oliver back to Madison on his way, and quickly loaded up the files once more. “That’s it.” He said after a moment of quickly loading up all the reports and replaying a short part of the video clip of his father’s death. “Starfleet Security were involved with the reporting of this.”

Both Madison and Roman looked at each other, still not seeing what Lloyd was going on about. 

Quickly loading up the video clip on to the larger screen and pausing it to show the small vessel that his father stepped on to. “Look at the transport that dad got on. It wasn’t registered to Starfleet at all and Saint Pancras/King’s Cross station isn’t owned by Starfleet.”

“Which begs the question why did Starfleet Security get involved?” Madison said as she finally realised what Lloyd was thinking.

Roman, still in the dark as to what they were thinking, raised his hands in protest. “Hold on, make this clearer for me. I’m still not on board with it.”

“Don’t you see Roman, Starfleet Security dealt with the case when they shouldn’t have.” Lloyd stated. “Neither the craft nor the port belonged to them. No one who was hurt from the explosion was Starfleet personnel. So why are they involved? When something like this happens then the civilian authorities should have taken responsibility in dealing with it, but the London Metropolitan Police were forced to refer to Starfleet Security. Unless it involves a Starfleet craft or someone from Starfleet then incidents like this are left with the civilian authorities to investigate.”

“Dad was one of Earth’s leading physicians and held the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge University. He’s almost royalty in the scientific community. Some of his work has been used by Starfleet, especially in the NX-program, he was a consultant for them.” Roman stated. 

“But dad was never a member of Starfleet, especially at the time of his death.” Madison reminded him.

Roman shrugged his shoulders in defeat. “Okay so the question now is why is Starfleet Security involved?” 

“Load up the main report again please.” Lloyd requested his sister as he glared at the larger wall mounted screen.

Tapping on the keyboard Madison did as he asked. “What are you thinking Lloyd?”

“We need to know who’s involved in this and then find out from either them or the people around them why Starfleet Security got involved. So, we start with the person who wrote the report.” Lloyd answered. He snapped his fingers when he saw what he wanted to see. “There.” He pointed at the name of the reporting officer. “Someone called Commander Alexa Hanson.”

“Hanson?” Roman repeated as he swiftly went through the tablet in his hands again. “I thought I saw her name before. She signed off on the engineering report on the system analysis. She’s the lead inspector for this case.”

Madison somehow had guessed Lloyd’s next move and was tapping with one hand on her father’s computer while holding on to Oliver in the other. “I’m trying to find out some more information about Commander Hanson.” She said, “Hmm, that’s strange.” She muttered.

Lloyd walked over to stand behind his sister. “What’s wrong?”

Roman joined them both to see what she was having difficulty with. As he did Madison spoke up, “Her service file is encrypted, and it isn’t accepting my authorisation code.” She looked at Lloyd. “Wanna try yours?” 

Nodding, Lloyd tapped his codes in and again was denied access to the file. “It’s stating it needs Sigma-Nine clearance.”

“What’s Sigma-Nine clearance?” Roman quizzed his older siblings.

“I’ve never heard of it.” Madison stated.

“I have.” Lloyd stated. “Sigma level clearances are reserved only for active Starfleet security officers as well as members of the admiralty. Sensitive cases are locked behind sigma level clearance. The nine stands for the level of authorisation. Those with the rank of commander and above can access it.”

Madison deflated into the chair. “Well that seems unfair that Starfleet captains aren’t trusted to have sigma level clearance.” She protested before continuing, “So do we know anyone who works for Starfleet Security who holds the rank of commander or above that we can trust to get us this information?”

Roman shook his head. “I don’t, but I could see if Nathan does.” He offered.

“Don’t worry, I know someone, and they owe me. We’ll just need to take a trip.” Lloyd said with a confident smile on his face.

“Where are you three going?” The voice of their younger brother filled the room, catching them by surprise. Seth stepped further into the room “If you guys are planning to go somewhere then I wanna know where and why.”

Lloyd, Madison and Roman all looked to each other and gave one another the look that said they needed to share with Seth what was happening so far. 

“Take a seat Seth, we’ve gotta tell you something but you can’t share it with anyone else, especially mum.” Madison said. 

Seth just nodded and took the nearest free armchair and sat in it, waiting to hear what his siblings had to share.