Part of Challenger: All For One & One For All

TWELVE

Lake Berryessa, Napa, California, United States of America, Earth
Tuesday, October 1st, 2155
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It was early in the morning when Nicole, after being up for some time and suffering from morning sickness, had decided she needed to go on a walk away from the cabin to get some fresh air. She had walked to the nearby little store that stocked essential items. After grabbing a bottle of water, she walked back, glad she had the time to herself. Making her way back into the lake house, she went straight for the fridge as she began feeling peckish. Opening the large refrigerator, she didn’t hear her mother enter the kitchen. 

“Good Morning sweetie!” Her mother greeted her as she put on her glasses.

Surprised a bit, Nicole slightly jumped and looked around to see her mother starting to sit at the breakfast bar in the middle of the kitchen. “Morning mom.” She replied back with. “Can I get you anything?”

Anneliese just shook her head, “No, but I should be asking you that. I heard you up this morning. I take it morning sickness is still just as fun as it was when I had you five?”

“You better believe it.” Nicole answered as she took out an apple from the fridge and joined her mother at the breakfast bar. 

Rubbing her daughter’s arm as she sat down in support, Anneliese looked like she wanted to say something. She paused for a moment as Nicole bit into her apple. “I just wanted to say,” She started and paused, “I mean, I just didn’t know…” again she hesitated. “Last night what you shared with us about your time on the Polaris, I thought I understood your decision to join Starfleet because of the many letters you sent us. I didn’t realise it was more about the people you encounter then having your head up in the stars. I totally get it now.”

Smiling sweetly at her mother’s attempt at coming to terms with her reasons for not having a job like her siblings, Nicole took the apple out of her mouth and swallowed the bit she had just chewed. “Thanks mom, that means a lot to me.”

“Oh sweetie, you’re going to make such an incredible mother.” Anneliese added as she pulled Nicole into a hug. Once they had let go of each other, Anneliese carried on talking. “It was just when we heard the news about Challenger being presumed missing that it made me sick to my stomach. I hope you can appreciate that even though you and your brothers and sisters are older, I still worry about you. You are still my children and I love you all dearly. That will never change!”

Nicole nodded. “I get it mom and I am sorry for getting you worried about me, but the job I do can also be just as exciting and amazing as it can be dangerous. I don’t want my boys to ever feel scared of the universe, I want them to embrace it!”

“Of course dear, I certainly understand what you’re saying.” Anneliese replied, “In fact your father and I were talking last night and we both want you to know that whatever you decide to do with our new additions to the family we will be there one-hundred percent. If you want to remain in Starfleet, raise them on Mars, you name it we will help you.”

“Again, thanks mom.” Nicole said, hugging her mother for a second time. 

“Aunt Nic, I think you’ve got something beeping in your room!” Adele said as she entered the kitchen. She was wrapped in a mint green dressing-gown and was stifling a yawn as she approached her aunt and grandmother. 

The two women released each other from their hug. “Oh, that may be my communicator!” Nicole realised and moved hastily to her room to retrieve it.

Making her way up the stairs and across the landing, she entered her room, picked up one of her bags and rummaged through it to find her communicator making a beeping noise as well as smoothly vibrating. Flipping it open, she soon answered whoever was calling her. “Levesque here.”

Nicole, it’s Kefira!” Came the friendly voice of Challenger’s doctor. 

“Kefira, it’s great to hear from you.” Nicole said as she sat down on the edge of her bed. 

Likewise,” Ben-Ami returned. “How are you feeling?

“As to be expected, thanks doctor.” Nicole answered. “Is this just a brief check-up or have you got some news for me?”

Not news, but I have been looking into your case further with my friends here in Tel Aviv and we’ve hit a slight brick wall.” Ben-Ami remarked.

“Is it bad?”

Oh no, no,” Ben-Ami assured. “We just want to conduct some more thorough scans, if you don’t mind? With the ship’s sickbay systems so badly damaged with our little trip through hell and back, we want to make sure we’re not missing anything.

“Okay,” Nicole said, starting to feel a bit worried. “When do you want to do these scans?”

Could we see you today? I promise you it won’t take long to do.” Ben-Ami stated.

Nicole considered her options, if there was anything wrong with the babies, she would hate herself for not dealing with this sooner. “I think I can be with you by this afternoon.”

That’s great,” Ben-Ami replied. “My friends can organise for a private transport to pick you up, bring someone with you as well if you wish.

“Thank you Kefira. I’ll send you my location shortly and timings.” Nicole said.

Understood, see you soon. Ben-Ami out.

Nicole closed her communicator and didn’t see her mother standing in the doorway. “Everything okay sweetie?” Her mother asked. 

“I hope so, they want to run more scans on the babies.” Nicole said. 

“Sounds perfectly normal to me.” Anneliese said and walked over to sit next to her daughter. She took hold of her hand. “You’ve got pregnant in quite a miraculous way Nicole. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

“I know.” Nicole replied. “I just hope everything is okay.” She added as she touched her belly, trying to comfort her unborn sons.


Tel Aviv University, Israel, Earth

 

The private transport to the Middle East hadn’t been as bad as Nicole had imagined it be. Claudia had insisted on coming with her, even though Nicole wanted to do this by herself, deep down she was happy her eldest sister came as her jovial side kept the mood light. Nicole needed the distraction, the quips and jokes that Claudia came out with helped a lot. Landing in a small bay, just outside of the main campus, the two sisters departed from their luxury transport and was automatically greeted by Doctor Ben-Ami with a colleague of hers. After introducing Claudia to Challenger’s chief medical officer, Nicole was introduced to Kefira’s colleague. 

“Commander Levesque, this is Professor Philippa Lin.” Kefira said as she gestured towards the smaller woman to her right. 

Even though she was only a couple of inches smaller than Kefira, Lin looked quite the formidable woman. Her dark brown hair (with a few wisps of silver and grey mixed in) was loosely tied in a ponytail that sat on her right shoulder. She appeared to be in her late fifties or early sixties. Although she appeared strong in her stance, her genuine smile and warm welcoming eyes made her seem less-intimidating.

Nicole leaned forward and shook the Malaysian woman’s hand. “Professor, it’s a pleasure to meet with you.”

After shaking her hand, Lin bowed her head slightly. “Likewise, Commander Levesque.” She looked at Kefira and continued talking, “Kefira has spoken so highly of you and her shipmates in her letters to me – it’s nice to finally put a face to one of those names.”

Nicole smiled and then introduced her sister to the professor before the four women made their way into the university itself. As they moved through the long corridors, the professor carried on talking. She shared with them some of the interesting facts about the institution they were in and how long she had been teaching there. 

“So how long have you and Kefira known each other?” Nicole asked as they entered a lift. 

Lin smiled, “You could say for too long now.” 

Chuckling in reaction, Kefira answered the question. “Just over twenty-five years now.”

“I had just taken my post here at the university, Kefira was one of my first students.” Lin said with pride. “She went on to become a sort of protégé of mine during her time here and she was the one who asked me to join the Interspecies Medical Exchange.”

“Professor Lin’s work is highly recognised in the medical community.” Kefira added. “It seemed like a waste not to have her involved with the IME.”

“Kefira mentioned you were part of Doctor Emory Erickson’s team when he began developing the transporter?” Nicole remarked.

Nodding a confirmation at Nicole’s words, Lin further explained her work with the inventor of the transporter. “Emory and I go back. I was the bio-engineer for the project, I even dated his son Quinn.”

“Wow, you were there in the early days when the transporter was put together?” Claudia said, sounding highly impressed.

Lin smiled at Claudia’s question. “It was such an impressive moment the first time the transporter was used to move a living object from one place to another. I still can remember that moment as if it was yesterday. To see Emory’s face light up when we stated the project was a success is something that will live with me forever.”

“How come you never remained with Emory and his team?” Nicole wondered.

Lin sighed slightly before she replied. “However, exciting the project was, the research I wanted to be involved with was becoming constrained because of the nature of what the transporter was. When Emory wanted to research the concept of the sub-quantum transporter, I didn’t feel I could remain. As a result of my work with Emory, I was approached by the university to join their bio-engineering department. I’m glad I did because a year or so later I heard that Quinn had been lost when he volunteered to use his father’s newest invention.”

“Didn’t Erickson get sent to jail last year for mis-leading Starfleet and he ended up endangering Enterprise to rescue his son?” Claudia asked the group.

Nicole quickly answered her sister. “Yeah, he was successful in retrieving his son from a subspace bubble, but sadly his son died shortly after his rescue.”

“Quinn was an excellent son to Emory, he always wanted to please his father. On some level I’m pleased they found him, but on another he didn’t deserve to go that way.” Lin stated. She quickly shook her head, “Anyway we are here to discuss quite the miracle.” She gestured towards Nicole’s stomach. 

“Indeed.” Nicole said.

“I promise you that everything we work on here will be kept in complete secrecy. Our main priority is to ensure you and your children are safe Nicole.” Lin said with a reassuring smile. 

“Thank you, professor.” Nicole replied. “I do appreciate it. Where do you want to start?”

“As I think Kefira explained to you, I believe a full body scan is in order then we will move on to perform an extensive neonatal scan. We need to ensure there’s no genetic anomalies for starters, or any tissue decay. Once we have those results then I would like to begin exploring exactly how the fusion of you and Captain Burton in the transporter created the…” Lin paused as she considered her words, “I feel ‘incubation’ is the closest terminology to use here.”

Claudia laughed a bit before remarking, “If anyone was going to be incubated by technology, then I wasn’t surprised it was my sister! Her love for science is so overwhelming that I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner!”

“Then she’s in good company.” Lin countered with. “Will Captain Burton be able to join us?” She asked, quickly changing the subject.

Kefira answered her mentor’s question, “The captain’s father died in a shuttle accident recently.”

“I’m not sure Lloyd will be available soon.” Nicole added.

“I’m sorry to hear that. However, it would be helpful at some stage,” Lin started just as the elevator came to a halt and the doors opened. As she led the group out of the cart she carried on, “for him to be tested too.”

Nicole groaned inwardly to herself. She hated the notion of how involved Lloyd would have to be with this. On one hand she felt so embarrassed by this all, while on the other she accepted that if she actually wanted to be a mother to these three children that their father had a right to be involved too. “Maybe we can delay getting in contact with him until he’s available?” She suggested. 

Kefira noted Nicole’s discomfort. “Don’t worry Nicole, I’ll speak to Lloyd at a later stage.”

Nicole smiled in gratitude to her doctor. “Thanks.” 

Eventually they entered a reasonably sized room that looked like a cross between a lab and Challenger’s sickbay. Lin gestured for Nicole to take a seat on the central bed that appeared to be linked to an imaging chamber. Unlike the one on Challenger, this one appeared to have more stations and features dotted around it.

“When you’re ready Nicole.” Kefira said with a smile.

Nicole just nodded back and before she was taking inside the chamber, she quickly held Claudia’s hand tightly for reassurance. Claudia clinched her sister’s hand back for support and gave her a smile too. After letting go, Nicole entered the scanning device. She instantly closed her eyes and attempted to block out all of the lights and sounds coming from the contraption. Eventually she found herself slowly nodding off as she started to relax.


Sunday, March 17th, 2143

Juno NY-02, docked at Proxima Shipyards, Proxima Colony 

 

Staring in awe, Ensign Nicolette Levesque couldn’t contain her excitement any longer. Her first assignment, since graduating from Starfleet Training Command, sat before her. The Juno was a brand new NY-class ship (or Neptune-class) and had just finished being built by the engineers at Proxima Shipyards. It was the first Neptune-class survey ship they had built outside of the Sol system. As a result of this, Nicole had arrived earlier that morning on board the Sarajevo, along with others who would become her new shipmates. The atmosphere on board the Sarajevo had been an absolute buzz. Everyone was talking about their new ship, how it would be amazing to serve on board. Now as she stood in the main observation deck of the shipyard, she continued to look down at the Juno. 

Starfleet designers had been using similar styles recently in their construction methods, as a result the Neptune-class survey shared a common look like its Intrepid-class cousin. The primary hull was shaped in an almost semi-circle shape (although from above Nicole felt it looked like a capital ‘D’) and had the main navigational deflector dish attached at the front. The secondary hull extended out like a neck from behind the primary hull. The ship wasn’t as big as some of the ships Starfleet was building, but it’s main aim was exploration and research. She had heard her fellow crewmates call this class of ship, a mobile sensor array or Starfleet’s response to pressure from the civilian sector to give them access to the tools needed to carry out scientific research beyond the confines of the Sol system. Nicole couldn’t see why that would be such a bad thing. She longed for the chance to explore; however, she may not be able to do much of it with the assignment she had. Her posting to the Juno, was as one of its armoury officers. She had been told that there would not be many of them in her department due to the size and nature of the ship, but she was eager to be part of the crew. So many of her former classmates at Starfleet Training Command, had wanted to join ships as science officers, as a result of this large number, there weren’t many postings in this area. On the other hand, Starfleet was calling out for trained officers to fill the ranks of the armoury department. Her experience and training had given her that edge that allowed her to get this assignment, so now she had to put it to good use. She would use this assignment as a stepping stone for her career to eventually return to the science division. For now, she would enjoy what the Juno had to offer a newly commissioned officer. 

“She’s a beaut, isnae she?” spoke a thick Scottish accent behind her. 

Levesque almost jumped out of her skin with a surprising voice. She turned around to come face-to-face with a man she quickly recognised. “Captain McCragg.” Levesque said, still sounding surprised to see her first commanding officer before her. 

“Aye lass, Captain Clifford McCragg at yer service.” He replied in a very charming manner. He extended his hand towards the younger woman. McCragg was in his early forties, had thick black hair on top which was complimented by a very warm friendly smile. 

Avoiding insulting her superior, Nicole quickly shook the man’s hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you sir, I’m Ensign Nicole Leve-”

McCragg interrupted her straight away, “Levesque,” He finished. “Aye, ah know who you are Miss Levesque. Yoo’re one of mah new armoury officers, ah picked ye me-self.” 

Levesque blushed at her apparent inexperience demeanour towards him. “Sorry sir, I didn’t mean to cause any offence.”

Brushing her comment off with a wave of his right hand and shaking his head once, McCragg put her nerves at ease. “Ye didne do a thin’.” He paused for a second before talking a bit more. “Ye didne answer mah question though ensign. Th’ Juno is a beauty, isnae she?”

Nicole turned to look back at the ship and then back to the captain. “She is sir.”

“Glad ye think so.” McCragg quipped with a wink. “Are ye comin’ on board?”

Attempting to avoid looking like a nodding puppy, Nicole bobbed her head once. “Yes sir.”

“Good, I’ve heard a lot of good things about ye an’ Ah cannae wait to get underway to start our work.” McCragg remarked as he escorted her towards the docking hatch. 

Levesque smiled at her captain’s friendly approach. She noticed that he walked with his head up high, but he was not rushing to get to his destination. It was almost like he was enjoying the scenery as they made their way through the dry-dock towards the airlock. She had attempted to find out more about her captain; she knew he was originally an engineer at heart but had served on some of the early ships built by Starfleet and the United Earth Space Probe Agency. Having his own doctorate in applied physics, he was highly knowledgeable. The man had even taught at Starfleet Training Command in the engineering faculty for two years. Levesque was not sure if she should start a conversation, this type of thing was never covered during her training. Social etiquette with her new captain was not a course that was offered to its students. 

Eventually it was Captain McCragg who broke the uncomfortable silence. “So, can ye explain to me why ye didne apply for a science position? Yer trainin’ is in tactical operations wi’ stellar science as yer secondary, but yoo’ve got a degree in astrophysics.” 

Smiling at the question, one that had been asked of her many times by her fellow trainees and trainers, Nicole answered the man. “Everyone wants to be an explorer, as a result that’s become the norm with graduates and I know many skippers don’t just want another normal officer who wants to see the stars. I want to live in them sir, so if that means I have to do it another way, then so be it.”

McCragg’s smile got wider after hearing her reasoning. “Ah I like yer thinkin’ ensign.”

They approached the airlock and after getting clearance to board the ship, Captain McCragg led his latest recruit on to his new ship. Nicole was finally back in space, a feeling she missed back when she travelled with her aunt on her old cargo ship. She would now get to resume her life learning among the stars.


Wednesday, October 2nd, 2155

Lake Berryessa, Napa, California, United States of America, Earth

 

After returning to their holiday home late last night, Nicole was finally able to enjoy the time off and this little retreat her family had gathered for, even if it was last minute! They had spent most of the day on the lake, enjoying a number of water sports and games. Slowly the evening approached, they had made their way back into the house and were relaxing around in the living room while Anneliese was cooking dinner for her family. 

From the distance they could hear her telling her husband off and in no-time he was entering the living room, with a cold glass bottle of beer in one hand. 

“What did you try to pinch this time dad?” asked Hadrien from where he sat on one of the large charcoal coloured sofas. 

Anthony ignored his eldest, he didn’t like the fact he had been caught red handed by his wife and sussed out by his children. “Can’t a man try a small sample of what his beautiful wife is making?” He eventually said as he sat in one of the armchairs.

“No!” shouted his wife from the kitchen. 

The response caused a round of chuckles from the adults in the room. Adjacent to the main living room was a long games room that all of the grandchildren, besides the youngest, were all playing in. Engaged with a virtual reality game where they were all attempting to capture and grow different creatures of all sizes; they had not made too much noise – except for the slight scream and laughter out of excitement. As a result, this gave the adults time to relax. On the main wall was a large screen, currently it had the evening news on it. The sound was pretty low and was not interrupting everyone else. 

Nicole was sitting on the main sofa, next to Hadrien reading one of her favourite books: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. The book had always intrigued her; she had first read it when she was on the Juno as part of the ship’s small book club that had naturally formed. Some of the crew would get together, swap their favourite books and share their best parts. This all happened in between their missions, along with a number of other social activities, including a group that would get together and just paint. She preferred the latter to the former, but when she didn’t want to think too hard, she did find some enjoyment in escaping from reality being the best approach. Unlike her nieces and nephews, the use of a games console was not appealing to her. Reading about fictional characters was.

On the other side of Hadrien was his wife Julia, who had arrived only a few hours ago after finishing her work in New York. The only two left to join them were Caitlyn and Scotty, who would both arrive on Saturday, something their son was very excited about. Sat on the opposite sofa with his left arm around his husband was Elijah. He had Thomas leaning against his shoulder who in turn had their four-year old son, Thomas, napping on his chest. Elijah was also reading, while Thomas was fixed on watching the screen before him. 

Claudia, who had a glass of wine in her hand, was positioned on one of the larger armchairs with Cooper also with her. They were playing a small card game when she gave out a large groan after looking up at the screen. 

“Can we please turn it over; I do not want to see that man before I eat my dinner.” She remarked, gesturing towards the images currently being shown.

Nicole looked up at her book, intrigued at who her sister found distasteful to interrupt her game and drinking. “Who is he?” She asked the room. 

“Bud Wilson,” answered Thomas. “Have you not heard of him?”

Nicole shook her head as she put her book down and leant over to the coffee table to grab the glass of water she had placed there earlier. Picking up the glass she spoke, “Should I?”

“He’s the epitome of some right-wing-” Claudia started but was stopped by her brother Hadrien’s loud coughing as he indicated to their nephew who was sleeping on Thomas. “Anyway, as I was saying,” She said in a lower tone, now looking at her sister, “he’s the new Member of Parliament for the Upper Midwest of the United States. He’s a complete jack-ass.”

“How come? What’s he done?” Nicole said, intrigued with why her sister had such a displeasure for the man. 

“He’s the leader of the Isolationist Party.” Cooper answered. “They’re a minority party that has only come about since the Xindi attack.”

Julia, who hadn’t said a word for a while, now spoke up. “I’ve heard they supported the Terra Prime movement. Paxton was once a close business partner of Wilson’s.”

Nicole was still confused by all of the facts flying around the room. Thomas quickly explained further about the guy that was taking a press conference outside of the Tour des Unis – the headquarters of the United Earth Parliament in Paris. “This guy won the recent by-election, after the previous MP for the Upper Midwest resigned in protest over the war with the Romulans.”

Nicole exhaled loudly, “I take it they knew it wasn’t us who threw the first punch?”

“And that’s one of Wilson’s main points and what his party stands for.” Thomas continued to share. “The Isolationist Party are highly conservative in their politics to the point they’re almost xenophobic. They want us to pull out of the Coalition of Planets, hammer out a peace deal with the Romulans and focus our efforts inwardly by building the Commonwealth up, one-member state at a time.”

“And they’re not big fans of Starfleet either.” Cooper supplemented with. 

“What did we do to them?” Nicole asked in defence of the organisation her and Cooper worked for.

“Bud and his cronies believe that Starfleet caused the war and the Xindi attack. They believe that the budget for Starfleet needs to be cut and focussed on other matters. Starfleet’s explorative program would be ended if he became Prime Minister. He also supported a notion to have Jonathan Archer tried for crimes against humanity.” Thomas replied, his tone of voice becoming quite serious and angry.

Elijah tapped his husband on the chest as he kept on reading his book. “Calm down Tom before you get too high on your horse.” 

Looking at his husband with a frown, Thomas responded. “You should take more interest in this; I don’t want our son growing up in a galaxy where our world is so backwards in its politics.”

Elijah, who had been wearing his glasses, put his book down on the arm of the sofa and pulled his glasses off. “Babe, I love how much you care for our son, but at the moment he is only one man and the only member of his party in Parliament right now. On top of that his proposal regarding Archer’s trial was shut down not only by the Prime Minister, but by the President herself. The Attorney General and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Courts all came out saying how preposterous the idea was.”

“Yes, I get that Eli, but with all of these protest rallies he keeps organising and some of them are not even orchestrated by his party. People are marching out in the streets and protesting against a lot of what is happening, and Bud Wilson is quick to jump on the bandwagon. Opinions can change and what happens if anyone else from his party gets elected?” Thomas said in a frustrated tone. 

“Then we will immigrate to Vulcan!” Elijah said in a jovial tone. 

Nicole was still intrigued by all of this. Since her return to Earth she had not got herself up to date with the latest news or politics, besides what she knew about the war efforts. “What type of rallies have been held?”

Hadrien answered, leaving their younger brother to continue bickering with his other half. “Rallies against the war, our involvement with the Coalition as well as the use of certain technologies that remove humanity from being rooted from their traditions like the warp drive and transporters.”

“Don’t forget that one from the other week that included them protesting against the xeno-marriage act.” Julia added.

“The xeno-marriage act?” Nicole repeated.

“Oh yeah, there was a high number of people who pushed forward for Parliament to debate the issue of marriage between humans and aliens being legal within the Commonwealth. The Isolationist Party came out against it and there was a massive protest rally in Paris, New York, Cairo, New Delhi and Seoul about it. Wilson spoke in favour of the rallies and spoke harshly against the issue. He sounded like Paxton with a whole line about ‘humans for humans’ garbage!” Julia said. 

“He sounds like a barrel of laughs then.” Nicole sarcastically commented on it. 

“I wouldn’t worry about him, Nicole.” Anthony now chipped in with. “My money is on him being voted out of office by the next general election.”

“Are you planning to run against him dad?” Claudia quipped back. 

Their dad gave out a quick chuckle. “And give your mother a heart attack worrying about where I am? Never in a million years!”

The group laughed and at that moment were called away by their mother with dinner being ready.

As Nicole got up from the settee, she looked at the screen one more time. Bud Wilson looked like any typical politician from the past century. He appeared to be in his sixties, with slick black hair gelled down against head, he appeared a bit overweight and had an aura of self-righteousness about him. Everything he was harshly criticising about, even shouting out, was everything that Nicole stood for. It was completely against everything that Earth had fought so hard to remove from its cultures. This wasn’t how humanity had risen from the ashes from the Third World War. The way he stood at his podium, as if he was the only one who knew best, that he had the answer to everything, he also appeared to be revelling in the people that appeared to be misguided in supporting him. He had a smug smile across his face that reminded her of an Orion slave master who was enjoying torturing his captives. Shaking her head in disbelief, she said a silent prayer: sharing sentiments from her brother-in-law that their children did not grow up in a world that ran away from progress as a productive member on the intergalactic stage. 

 

Exhausted, tired, frustrated, Nicole was not enjoying the inability to sleep. It was now oh-two-hundred hours and her pregnancy had decided to make her feel so uncomfortable that she could not rest. Deciding to get out of bed and head to the cabin’s kitchen area. Quietly like a mouse, she left her room and made her way so she could make herself a soothing cup of tea. While the water was boiling, she had positioned herself on one of the breakfast bar stools. She had brought down with her the novel she had been reading before dinner, as the water started to whistle through the kettle she had left on the hob, she placed her book down on the pages she was reading. 

“Hey.”

Nicole was startled slightly by the voice just before she was about to pick up the kettle. She looked around and saw her baby-brother standing there, wiping the sleep out of his eyes as he put his glasses back on. “Elijah, sorry did I wake you?”

Shaking his head in response, Elijah answered his sister. “Oh god no. Luke had a bad dream during the night and ended up getting into bed with Thomas and me. He was moving so much in his sleep that I decided to give him some space while he settled down. Are you okay?”

Nicole nodded. “Yeah, just unable to get comfortable to sleep. You want a cup?”

“Yeah thanks.” He replied, “So when did my sister become such an avid tea drinker?!”

Smirking at his remarks, Nicole poured the hot water into two mugs after placing the teabags in them. “You’ll need to blame my skipper for that.”

Elijah smirked at how fondly she spoke about Burton. “That’s not the only thing I have to blame him for!” 

Nicole rolled her eyes and sighed at her brother. She took out of the milk from the refrigerator, “He’s a really nice guy Elijah.” She said as she poured the milk before stirring the tea, hot water and milk together. 

“I’m sure he is. He’s gotta put up with you nagging him as his first mate!” Elijah said, still in a jovial tone. 

“First Officer, not first mate.” Nicole said, correcting him as she passed him a mug of tea.

Raising his hands apologetically, Elijah spoke as he took the tea. “I do apologise Miss Starfleet.”

Nicole brushed off the comment and sat back down at the breakfast bar next to her brother. “Anyway, tell me about you guys. I feel like we haven’t had any time to catch up, just us two.”

He smiled at her. “Everything’s going well, thanks. We seem to have got Luke settled in well now. It’s only the odd nightmares, like tonight, that we have to deal with.”

“That’s good to hear and how are things between you and Thomas?”

“Perfect.” Elijah flatly answered. He smirked in between sips, “I know he got a bit excited earlier over all of that politics stuff but he’s just like that when he’s watching soccer or basketball!”

She smirked at him; she had seen how enthusiastic Thomas would get with sports – when they were younger, she had gone with Elijah to watch him in his soccer matches. “Don’t worry about it. It’s nice not to think about what happens out there in space.” Nicole winced her head upwards, gesturing towards the big void that was space.

“If I tell you something, promise not to share it with anyone – especially Julia and our parents?” Elijah said after placing his mug down on the counter. 

“Of course.” Nicole reassured. She was now wondering what he was about to say. 

“We got asked to join the Foreign Office’s counsel, here in California.” Elijah shared in a very low quiet tone. 

Nicole was impressed at the revelation. “Wow, that’s great news Elijah! Are you going to accept the offer?”

Elijah shrugged his shoulders. “I would love to move back to California. New York isn’t a great place to raise Luke, but we both love working with Julia. However, the opportunity to help shape policy and help others is really appealing. Plus, who knows where it would take us?!”

“So, is that why Thomas appeared more interested in politics earlier?” Nicole wondered. 

Elijah just nodded twice. “Yeah, he’s been getting his head around the current political climate.”

“I’m sure Julia won’t be upset with you guys doing work that’s worthwhile. Isn’t that what she’s always saying? Isn’t her famous phrase: ‘if it’s work worth doing then do it’?” She said, trying to assure him he wouldn’t upset their sister-in-law and boss. 

“You’re right. Plus being close to the family would help Luke feel more belonging.” 

Nicole laughed slightly. “You know mom would fuss over him more if you guys were closer to her and dad.”

“Hmm, maybe I could get a restraining order out on her not to approach us during the week?!” He jokingly said. 

Nicole smirked as she took a sip of her tea. She missed being candid with her youngest brother and talking about anything and everything. “You know she would find a way around it!” 

“What about you?” Elijah asked as he kept his mug in between both of his hands. 

 Shrugging her shoulders too, Nicole answered honestly. “At the moment I haven’t quite thought it through. If I had my way I would carry on with my assignment on Challenger, but I know that won’t be possible once I get closer to my due date.”

“Are you going to resign your commission?” Elijah enquired as he took another sip.

Shaking her head quite a bit, Nicole was quick to answer. “Absolutely not. I’m still planning to have that fourth pip and centre chair one day.”

“But you’re not going to the frontlines, are you?” He probed and for the first time he appeared genuinely worried about his sister’s safety and wellbeing. 

“I’ll go wherever Starfleet sends Challenger.” She responded.

Elijah sighed a bit, it sounded more like a quiet groan. “Really? Can’t you put in a request a little bit closer to home and which didn’t have a warp drive?”

Nicole smiled at her brother’s care for her. “I dunno Elijah. With this horrendous war going on, the more I think about my options, well let’s just say I don’t like the idea of sitting behind a desk at Starfleet Command Headquarters doing nothing while others are out there putting their lives on the line.”

“I get that, I totally do,” Elijah said in a thoughtful tone, “but don’t you have three other lives to consider?” He gestured towards her stomach. “I don’t want to be raising my three nephews saying that they lost their mother before they’re able to walk.”

That image got to Nicole a bit. She did have to start thinking about her children first. But how could she give up everything she had worked so hard for? It was like Elijah was almost reading her mind when he spoke up again.

“You always said you wanted a doctorate, why don’t you see if you could help with training new recruits for Starfleet while working on that and raising the boys? Or could you not join one of the research bases? They said in the news the other day that Starfleet and the United Earth Space Agency are building a fifth Yosemite Station in orbit. I’m sure someone with your experience and credentials could get a position.” Elijah suggested. 

“You’re probably right Elijah.” She said with a proud smile. “When did my baby brother grow up so much?” 

Elijah was about to answer when he was interrupted by a little voice calling out for him from the corridor. “When that little man entered my life.” He said as he stood up to see Luke, standing with a teddy bear in his arms as he rubbed his eyes. “Duty calls.” Elijah said as he made his way over to his son. 

Nicole watched him pick up Luke in his arms and take him back to bed. She smiled and inwardly knew she had to make a similar life changing decision, just like he had. She would need to give up her role on Challenger and enjoy a new chapter in her life. She wondered if Lloyd had considered the same thing.