“Captain,” Ottawa‘s helm officer stated, “There’s a bogey bearing 024 mark 16.”
“Let’s take a look, Susan.” Ottawa captain Jenna Carson replied. “Reduce speed to warp 2.”
“Aye, Captain,” Susan replied. Ottawa had been deployed to patrol the ‘red zone’ held by Khan, as well as Cardassian worlds where lawlessness has broken out since the end of the Dominion War. The area contains numerous asteroids and other debris that hostile fighters could use to hide from Federation ships like Ottawa; therefore, patrol ships routinely examined debris. “Approaching target in 15.”
“Begin scanning the bogey.”
“Scanning now,” Operations officer Sonya Fiehrer replied. “It appears to be a dead sh – wait a minute, we have a confirmed bandit, it’s a warbug.”
“Red alert,” Jenna answered.
“Aye,” the tactical officer replied.
As Ottawa approached its target, the Starfleet ship steered off course, “Susan, is there something wrong with the helm?”
“The navigation system is online,” Susan replied, “but its the ship has a mind of her own.”
“Susan, set bearing 0 mark 0,” Jenna ordered. “Tactical, acquire target and fire phasers.”
Ottawa got a couple of shots off, but did not score a hit. The warbug did not attempt to return fire. “Weapons have stopped responding.”
Soon, the ship came to a dead stop. “I wonder why,” Jenna inquired, “the other ship hasn’t fired on us.” Before she could give the command to hail the warbug, the other ship positioned itself directly in. front of Ottawa. After a brief moment, the small craft began to move forward, with Ottawa following in its wake. As the enemy moved around on no particular course, the Federation starship matched its course perfectly. After a few minutes of demonstrating the captain’s lack of control of her own ship, the warbug engaged her warp engines and shunted off. Realizing what has happened, Jenna gave new orders. “Computer, initiate voice lockout, authorization Carson-8-0-Mike-Delta-Romeo. Restrict all subspace transmissions to essential traffic only.”
“Command recognized,” the computer replied. All of the panels and screens went dark.
Jenna moved over to the navigation station. “Computer, this is Captain Carson. Activate the conn position.” As soon as the conn came back online, Jenna continued. “Susan, I think you will find that you are able to access the conn again. Lay in a course for Starbase 42, maximum warp.”
“Aye, Captain,” Susan replied.
Patrick was astonished at how much work had already been made on his ship after only one month into a major overhaul. “As you can see, sir, we are placing in all-new ODN fibers in the whole ship. We’re also taking the opportunity to try to refit modern bio-neural systems into this old spaceframe. With the shortage of ships available, we need anything out there we can get our hands on.”
“I hear ya’,” Patrick answered before being interrupted by a chirp on his communicator. “This is Captain Ingrum, go ahead.”
“Sir, Ottawa has arrived unexpectedly,” the young woman at the operations desk announced. “Captain Carson would like to speak with you ASAP.“
“Tell her I’ll meet her in 20 minutes,” Patrick answered. “If you’ll excuse me, today’s my wife’s birthday, and I had something special planned for her.”
Patrick entered his quarters with one thing on his mind. “Bridge, are you here?”
“Tiana just needed changing, just getting her all fixed up,” Bridget replied as she carried the baby out to the main room. “I heard that Ottawa just made a surprise arrival. What’s going on?”
“First, there’s something more important to attend to. Happy birthday, honey,” he said as he presented his mate with a present in the form of a small black box.
Bridget opened up the box. “They’re beautiful,” Bridget said as she removed the contents.
“Here, let me help,” Patrick said as he inserted the emerald earrings in Bridget’s earlobes. “I did say I loved your emerald green eyes. I figured these would accent them.”
“You have good taste,” Bridget replied. “Now, what’s up with Ottawa.”
“I’m going over to see Jenna now,” Patrick stated. “I figured that you and Tiana would like to tag along.” Patrick moved over to the crib to remove his 1-month-old daughter as Bridget put on a baby carrier. Patrick secured his baby girl in the carrier.
“Come,” Jenna answered as her doorbell rang. The Ingrum family entered Captain Carson’s ready room.
“So, what’s happened that brought you to starbase with little notice – and don’t tell me that you just came by to see the baby.”
“I wish I could,” Jenna answered. “Unfortunately, I have reason to believe that Ottawa has been compromised.” Jenna handed a PADD containing the incident report to Patrick.
“Oh, my!” Patrick exclaimed as he read the report. “Did you get an idea on who was running the warbug?”
“I’m afraid not. They didn’t seem to be in the mood for talking.”
“Mind if I take a look at your systems to see if I can spot anything?”
“I figured you would ask. I’ve got the aft stations on the bridge.” Jenna motioned the group out the door to the bridge. Patrick led the pack, with Jenna conversing with Bridget. “So this is Tiana. She is a beautiful baby girl.”
“Our little pride and joy,” Bridget replied as she noticed the baby’s eyes opening.”I must admit, I have to wonder where she got those baby blues.”
“Can I hold her?”
“Have at it,” Bridget replied as she carefully removed her daughter from the pouch and handed the little one off to Jenna. Meanwhile, Patrick had started examining the system. “Let me help,” Bridget said to her husband.
“From what I can tell,” Patrick answered, “Whoever got control of Ottawa did not do so using a prefix code. Someone has found a way to bypass access security and gained control of this ship.” Patrick turned the console over to his partner. “Have at it.”
As Bridget looked over Ottawa‘s computer system, Jenna began talking to Patrick. “I have to admit that the two of you work off of each other very well.”
“If we didn’t, do you think I would have married her?”
“I take it you’re not intimidated by Bridget’s enhanced abilities.”
“On the contrary,” Bridget interrupted, “I think he’s attracted to the ‘augment’ in me. I think I found the problem.”
Patrick looked at the screen “It looks like someone’s planted a nasty little virus. See if you can quarantine the program so we can send it to the Daystrom Institute for analysis.” Patrick turned back to Jenna to answer Bridget’s comment, “Of course, Bridget’s kindness is her true strength.”
“In any case,” Jenna said looking at the baby girl in her arms, “Tiana, you’re in good hands.”
“I think I got – oh, boy, I think we have a problem.”
“That’s one hell of an infection. It’s corrupted just about every subroutine. I’m afraid we’re going to have to utilize the final option.”
“Final option?” Jenna inquired.
“We’ll have to wipe the computer core and rebuild it from scratch.”
“How long will that take?”
“About two weeks – and I’m betting that we’re going to have to do a systems rebuild on more ships.”
“I’ve just finished isolating the virus program. We can at least detect it.”
“Bridget,” Jenna said, changing the subject, “it looks like this little one’s about ready to be fed.”
“Do you mind if I use your ready room?” Bridget asked.
“Go right ahead,” Jenna answered as she handed the baby girl over to her mother.
Captain’s Log, Stardate 54098: A new threat has to the security of the Federation has emerged in the form of a computer program capable of disabling ships and crippling Starfleet.
“Come,” Patrick answered as doorbell rang to his temporary office.
“You wanted to see me?” Jaimie inquired as she entered the office.
“Yes, I wanted to talk to you about recent developments.”
“I heard about Ottawa,” Jaimie answered.
“In order to remove the virus from Ottawa, her computer will have to be reimaged. I need you to start recalling Baldwin‘s crew, starting with the engineers.”
“Understood. There is one thing that I did want to talk to you about.”
“What is it, number one?”
“Some of us would love to get together this evening to wish Bridget a happy birthday.”
“I’m sure she would appreciate that.”
“Captain,” Nimitz‘s tactical officer Lindsay Curtis stated, “We’re receiving a distress call from the Pinckney.”
Nimitz captain Andrea Riffin nodded in response. Her crew was finishing their last day on a patrol mission and were anxiously awaiting a return to Starbase. “Betsy, lay in an intercept course.”
“Aye, Captain,” the navigation officer replied.
Within minutes, Nimitz had arrived at what they believed was the locations of the distressed ship. However, there was no ship to be found. “Lindsay, are you sure this is where Pinckney made their distress call.”
“This is where the sen – Captain, I think you better look at the viewer,” Lindsay answered. The Nimitz crew watched as two ‘warbugs’ dropped out of warp and approached the Starfleet battleship. “Raising shields and reading weapons.”
“Hail the warbugs while you’re at it.”
“This is Captain Andrea Riffin, USS Nimitz. State your business operating in this area.” The bridge shuddered as the warbugs gave their response. “Return fire.”
Phaser fire lit the sky as Nimitz took aim at the enemy ships. “Direct hit,” Lindsay replied. The next shot by the warbugs hit Nimitz hard. “Captain,” Lindsay continued. “Shields have dropped.”
“Can you get them back online?”
“I’m trying, but I’m somehow being overridden.”
“Betsy, can you get us out of here?”
“Negative, the helm is locked out, so is communications.”
The Nimitz crew watch helplessly as the enemy ships took out the phasers, torpedoes, engines, and the ablative armor; however, they stood down and left the Starfleet ship adrift. “Computer, initiate reboot, authorization Riffin-Papa-Beta-2-4-1.”
“Unable to comply,” responded a male voice. “Command authorization not recognized.”
“It appears,” Andrea commented, “That someone has taken over the ship’s computer.”
“Should we activate the autodestruct and abandon ship?” Lindsay inquired.
“Someone took a lot of work to make sure they could take the ship intact,” Andrea replied. “The auto destruct has been overridden; however, I doubt we’ll be able to put up much of a fight when they come back to board the ship. All hands to the escape pods.”
“Hey,” Jaimie said as she approached Bridget. “Happy Birthday.”
“Thank you, Commander,” Bridget replied. “How have you been?”
“Good. How about Patrick and Tiana?”
“The three of us are getting along. Breastfeeding the little one hasn’t been a problem, and daddy has got the diaper changing thing down. Baldwin’s refit has given us both time to relax.”
“Hi,” Patrick said as he approached his wife.
“Hey, Patrick,” Bridget replied, “What’s wrong?”
“What makes you think that some thing’s wrong.”
“I know you too well,” Mrs. Ingrum replied. “I can tell by the your body language.”
“I don’t suppose you’ve heard from Nimitz?”
“Last I heard,” Jaimie replied, “They were slated to be at Starbase 375 this evening. You don’t suppose -“
“Nimitz is tempting target for the same reason it’s well suited for patrol runs.” Before he could continue, his communicator chirped to call his attention. “This is Captain Ingrum, go ahead.”
“I have a call for you from the Hainan for you.”
“I’ll take it in Conference Room Zeta.”
Patrick turned to a display monitor and pushed a button to connect the incoming call. “Hey, Roslyn,” Patrick answered as his sister-in-law’s face appeared on the monitor. “I guess I should wish you a happy birthday as well.”
“Actually,” Roslyn replied, “I called to let you know that Hainan has picked up a set of escape pods from Nimitz.”
“We got them all… everyone has been accounted for.“
“Where are you heading to?”
“Starbase 375 was our scheduled stop.“
“Tell Captain Decatur that I would like to divert him here. I’ll inform Admiral Ross of the change in plans. Would you like to speak to Bridget?”
“I would,” She replied as Bridget approached the console. “Hey, sis.“
“Hey, Roz. How have you been?”
“I’ve been good. I’ve been thinking about you ever since I heard Tiana arrived. I wanted to make sure that you’re not stressed out.“
“Not a chance. I have a proud dad that’s had plenty of time to be with us.”
Patrick was reading off a PADD when the doorbell rang. “Come,” he said.
“You wanted to see me,” Andrea replied as she entered Patrick’s office.
“Yes,” Patrick said as he looked out the window, inviting Andrea to join him. “I have every reason to believe that Starfleet has been compromised. We discovered a virus aboard Ottawa that allowed the crew of a warbug to take over her systems. Sound familiar?”
“The good news is, so far, no one has been hurt,” Patrick continued. “The bad news is that I cannot guarantee things will stay that way. This virus is so deeply intertwined within Ottawa‘s systems that we will have to start from scratch. If we don’t catch the infected ships, there’s a chance whoever wrote this thing will. They have captured a ship already. I don’t want them to think that we will take this lightly; we are going to get Nimitz back.”
“My crew is at your disposal,” Andrea replied.
Bridget was about to lay down on the couch when the doorbell rang. “Come in.”
“I hope I’m not bothering you,” Roslyn said as she stood in the doorway.
“Never. Come on in. I just put Tiana down for a nap.”
“You’re getting the hang of being a mother. How about dad.”
“He’s had plenty of time to bond with his daughter. I can tell he wants the best for her.”
“This virus that’s plagued Ottawa and Nimitz has probably redirected his attention a bit.”
“Don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll get Ottawa up and running, take back Nimitz, and still have enough time to change the baby’s diapers.”
“I’m sure he’s up to the challenge,” Roslyn answered while sitting down next to her sister. “I must admit, you’ve changed since you and Patrick paired up.”
“Patrick and I are close. One minute, we could be chatting up a storm, the next we could be snuggled up together on the couch. I think I see more of Patrick in me.”
“Speaking of which, I heard he gave you a pair of earrings for your birthday. Are you wearing . them today?”
“Absolutely,” Bridget answered as she showed her sister the earrings.
Captain’s Log, Stardate 54121.2: Thanks to significant help from the engineering teams from Baldwin and Nimitz, Ottawa‘s computer is back in service. Intelligence reports still show no signs of the captured USS Nimitz.
“Good morning, sweetie,” Patrick said as he wrapped his arms around Bridget.
“Hey, Patrick,” Bridget answered as she turned to kiss Patrick on the cheek. “Happy Birthday.”
“Thanks, sweetie. I guess today’s a big day.”
“Jenna wants to check out the rebuilt systems. How does a trek to Aloran IV and an outdoor cookout sound?”
“Sounds good to me,” Patrick replied as he stroked his wife’s long, dark hair.
“How does the final check of the computer scan come up?” Jenna inquired as she sat in her captain’s chair.
“Everything shows up clean,” Susan answered, “No sign of the virus.”
“Good,” Jenna answered, “Anyone who wants to take over the Federation using the computers had better think again.”
The Ingrum family exited the Turbolift onto Ottawa‘s Bridge. “Captain, are we ready to rock and roll?”
“I would think you would like to have Nimitz‘s crew along for the ride. I’m waiting for them.”
“How about your systems?”
“Fully Functional. No signs of the virus on the new systems.”
“Captain,” Susan stated, “We’re receiving a hail from starbase. Captain Riffin is requesting permission to come aboard.”
“Permission granted. Invite her to join us here on the bridge.”
“Everyone is aboard,” Andrea replied as soon as she entered Ottawa‘s bridge.
“In that case,” Patrick answered, “Thrusters ahead one quarter.”
“Aye,” Susan replied. Ottawa sailed forward out of her drydock and past ships that were being refitted. “So, just how many of these ships were compromised.”
“Too Many,” Patrick answered. “Finding out who created this virus has taken a back seat to purging it from our ships. Ottawa and Baldwin stand as prototypes for our new computer security systems. For now, however, let’s take our minds off of security threats and let’s have ourselves a party. Set course for Aloran IV, warp 9.”
“Captain,” Susan stated, “We’re approaching Aloran IV.”
“Blue Alert,” Jenna replied, “prepare for landing.”
Ottawa slowly descended into the atmosphere on a final approach to the Ingrum house. The gallant ship descended above the house before landing on the top of the hill behind the house.
The afternoon went by quickly, with crew members chatting the afternoon away and enjoying life. As the guest of honor, Patrick found himself talking about his wife and daughter more than he did himself. Most importantly, he took the time to his mind off of current events.
Near the end of the day, a loud buzzer sound surprised the crowd, including Patrick. “What was that?” Bridget asked.
“That was a proximity alarm,” Patrick answered. “I thought the damn thing had been deactivated.”
Bridget burst inside the house to look at the sensors. “Patrick,” Bridget said as Patrick arrived at the sensor display behind her, “you might want to take a look at this.”
Patrick was surprised when he saw the screen. “It’s clearly a Defiant class ship, and this isn’t part of the normal patrol. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“That Nimitz has stumbled into the Aloran system, oh hell yeah. Do you have an idea how to go about retaking her?”
“We’d have to disable her shields and weapons. Ingrum to Carson: Jen, we’ve got company.”
“I’ll prepare Ottawa for launch.”
“Thanks, Ingrum out. Bridge, someone’s gotta look out for the baby.”
“I have no problem staying on the ground,” Bridget answered as she kissed her husband. “Go get Nimitz back.”
“Red alert,” Jenna called out. “Prepare to launch.”
“Aye, Captain,” Susan replied. “Receiving sensor information from the Ingrum compound.”
“I’ve locked in the bogey,” Sonya followed.
“Move in to intercept,” Patrick said.
“I’m on it,” Susan replied as Andrea arrived on the main bridge. Ottawa launched out of the Atmosphere of Aloran IV toward the unknown ship.
“Nice to see you aboard, Captain.”
“I’m just as hopeful as you are that we’ve found my ship.”
“We’re in visual range.”
“On screen,” Jenna replied. The image of a Defiant-class ship popped into view.
“You said that the patrol doesn’t run through here, right.”
“Correct,” Patrick answered. “Magnify.” The viewscreen zoomed in on the ship to reveal the vessel’s name. “Identity confirmed. We got her.”
“Ready phasers and QTs,” Jenna said.
“Weapons ready,” Andrea replied as she took the tactical station. “If we’re going to fire on Nimitz, I may as well be the one to do it.”
“Try to hail them.”
“No response. It appears that they are running her on full autopilot. Shields are up.”
“I’ll be in the transporter room,” Patrick answered. “Andrea, you think you can take down her shields?”
“Aye, Captain,” Captain Riffin replied.
Ottawa laid down a barrage of phaser fire and quantum torpedoes on the stolen ship. Even though Nimitz was unoccupied, her captors knew what was happening. “Captain,” Sonya stated, “Nimitz is turning about and charging weapons.”
“Concentrate on taking down her shields,” Jenna replied. “and keep us within transporter range.
Ottawa continued to fire upon Nimitz with the intent of taking out her shields. “Nimitz shields at 40%. We’re holding.”
“Carson to transporter room, I hope you’re ready.”
“Anytime, Jen,” Patrick answered as the ship shook. “Don’t worry about weapons, I can take care of that when I beam over.”
After significant effort, Ottawa successfully disabled Nimitz‘s shields. As soon as Patrick beamed aboard, the first thing he did was tap on his combadge to open a communications channel. “Ingrum to Ottawa: I’m in, Jen.”
Patrick bolted for the computer room. Since the virus had completely overwritten Nimitz‘s basic programming, the computer will have to be rebuilt from scratch. First, Patrick would have to shut down the compromised ship’s computer. Because of life support systems, starship mainframes cannot be shut down easily. “I’ve arrived at the main junction leading directly to the data center. I’m pulling the plug.” With a laser scalpel, Patrick slowly and carefully sliced the ODN lines to the environmental controls in the Computer Room. What had happened accidentally on Patrick’s ship a month ago he was now attempting to do intentionally to another ship. Patrick took a tricorder to the door of the computer room as he watched the internal temperature rise. Within a minute, the temperature in the computer room had risen from 20 degrees to 25, which Patrick felt was a good sign. “Ottawa, keep Nimitz engaged. The computer will heat up quicker the more we use it.”
“Understood,” Andrea replied.
Captain’s Log, Supplemental: We are preparing to tow USS Nimitz back to Starbase 42 for refitting. Before we head back, there’s one last thing to take care of.
“Since this whole computer mess got started,” Jenna noted, “You’re the only one who hasn’t got any time off. I talked to the admiralty, and they agreed: you deserve some shore leave. I figure that with a planet such as this… scenic, uninhabited, out of the way… what better place to spend time with your wife.”
“I can’t argue with your logic, Jenna,” Patrick answered. “I’ll see you in two weeks.”
“Deal. Carson to Ottawa, one to beam up.”
As soon as Jenna beamed out, Bridget came out of the house and approached her husband. “Could I have this dance?” she inquired.
“Anything for you, Bridge,” Patrick answered as he turned and placed his arms around his wife and embraced her.