In 2277, Keller failed to properly secure an away mission site, leading Captain Roger Lake's exposure to Tavola methane, which can cause mental issues. The error was covered up by Keller and his immediate superior, Derek Hahn.
In 2280, he was second officer aboard the USS Peleliu when it was attacked en route to Belle Terre by Kauld forces. Due to the erratic behavior of Captain Lake and the death of first officer Derek Hahn, Keller was forced to surreptitiously give orders on multiple occasions, including an attack on a Blood Many ship sent to escort the Peleliu and the ship's final, disastrous engagement. Afterwards, Keller assumed command of the heavily damaged cruiser and relieved Captain Lake, which was scrapped after its return to Belle Terre.
To defend the colony from the Kauld, he constructed the USS Challenger from the wrecks of the Peleliu and other vessels, with the aid of Zane Bonifay, Shucorion, and the Belle Terre colonists. During construction, Keller recruited Shucorion to be his first officer due to his command experience, knowledge of the Kauld, and his risk-taking personality, along with the rest of Shucorion's crew. After spending sixteen days constructing the Challenger, Keller took command and intercepted a Kauld convoy heading to Belle Terre, learning that the Kauld were facing an ancient alien construct known as a Cold Factor, which neutralized or destroyed Kauld ships and planets. After vowing to protect the Kauld homeworld, Keller used the Challenger to decoy the Cold Factor long enough for the USS Enterprise to arrive and allow the Cold Factor's creators to neutralize it.
Afterwards, Keller helped organize Blue Net, a mutual defense force for the planets in the Sagittarius Cluster. Some time after that, Challenger encountered a derelict that would come to be known as Grave Ship, or "Pompeii". After rescuing Shucorion and Bonifay, who had boarded the ship after it damaged their patrol ship, Keller was informed that Bonifay was to be executed in accordance with Blood law for disobeying orders. When a squadron of Blood ships came to take possession of Bonifay, he refused to hand the bosun over, triggering a fight between Challenger and the Blood squadron.
During the battle, the owners of the Grave Ship, the Living, emerged from an Iconian gateway. As Keller's command of his crew and Blue Net fractured, he determined that outwitting the Living would help him regain control. Boarding the Grave Ship, a converted Kauld battlebarge, Keller used a remote interface with the ship's systems to take control, eventually ordering a sustained phaser bombardment to force the Living to capitulate. When this caused the mummified bodies on the ship to leave their pedestals, telling the Living on the other side of the Gateway that the Living explorers were dead. Vowing to bring all the Living to the Saggitarius Cluster, Keller traveled through the Gateway. (CHA novel: Chainmail)
Keller ultimately spent a year among the Living, eventually convincing them to leave through the Gateway by rigging a challenge designed to show whether fate agreed with a decision. Upon returning, Keller conferred with both Bonifay and Shucorion, explaining why Bonifay had to punished and why Bonifay disobeyed Shucorion's orders aboard the patrol craft. Before allowing Bonifay to be taken into Blood custody, Keller ordered Shucorion to ensure that Bonifay's execution was quick. (CHA short story: "Exodus")
His friend Savannah Ring gave him the nickname "Sheriff," after his southwestern mannerisms and the cowboy boots he habitually wore while on duty.
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- According to an interview, author Diane Carey based Nick Keller in part on Scott Bakula, who would later play Jonathan Archer on Star Trek: Enterprise.
Template:USS Peleliu personnel
|United Earth, Starfleet||Challenger (NX-03)||R. Dunsel • E. Granger • Hendricks • Kaye • Rubin|
|Federation, Starfleet||USS Challenger (NCC-1715)||P. Brandy||UFPF Challenger||Z. Bonifay • N. Keller • S. Ring • Shucorion|
|USS Challenger (NCC-2032)||M. Michaels||USS Challenger (NCC-71099)||R. Barclay • L. Brahms • Carolan • Guinan • T. Hunt • G. La Forge • Nog • A. Ogawa • Qat'qa • B. Rasmussen • M. Scott • Simm • Vol|