“Good Morning, sir,” Sarah stated as her captain entered the warroom.
“Morning, Lieutenant,” Patrick answered. He was still recovering from the injuries given to him by Malina. “Are you ready?” he asked as he hobbled with his cane to Sarah’s station.
“Aye, Captain,” Sarah replied. “Our window is opening right now. We have five minutes to download as much as we can.”
“Proceed,” Patrick ordered. Sarah began entering the commands to begin the download. Over the past several days, Patrick has attempted to download as much as he could of Dr. Murrow’s notes and observations without being noticed by Malina or Khan. Patrick had long been able to secretly exchange messages with the doctor; however, they were, by necessity, brief. He could still send and receive messages from the red zone; however, the windows of opportunity were short. In addition, Patrick wanted to make sure that the doctor’s notes were wiped at the far end once they were received by Baldwin. So far, they had managed to collect forty percent of the data.
As the data process continued, Bridget entered the warroom. “There you are. I’ve been looking all over for you.”
“Between your telepathic abilities and the ship’s internal sensors, I doubt you had that much trouble,” Patrick quipped.
“You do realize that Dr. Bratney wants to see you for another check-up.”
“Again?” Patrick complained.
“You were severely beaten within an inch of your life by someone who was determined to put you in that position,” Bridget retorted. “Now step to it!”
“Okay, I’m heading to sickbay,” Patrick answered as he grabbed his cane and slowly limped toward the door.
“By the way,” Sarah commented to Bridget, “I loved those pictures of you in your superhero costume.”
“Thanks,” Bridget replied.
“You had to tell everyone about the costume?” Patrick stated as they entered the hallway.
“Don’t worry, I didn’t tell them how I got the idea,” Bridget answered, “However, I think it reaffirms that we were meant for each other.”
“Did anyone ever tell you that you’re a tease?” Patrick retorted.
“It looks like your bones have pretty much healed. Bridget’s neural transfer probably saved you from being permanently disabled, or worse. Are you still feeling any symptoms?”
“I’ve got a dry burning sensation in my eyes, and I’ve got a very nasty side-splitting headache.”
“Let me take a look,” Dr. Bratney answered as he performed further tests. “Have you ever had any surgery performed on your eyes?”
“I was diagnosed as nearsighted when I was in grade school,” Patrick noted, “By the time I was 18, my eyes had stabilized to the point where they were able to surgically correct the issue.”
“The hits you took may have caused your vision to destabilize, causing eye strain and possibly even your migraines,” the doctor noted as he prepared a hypospray. “Do you know if you’re allergic to Retinax?”
“It’s been a while since I had to take it, but I’m not allergic.”
“I’m going to give you a small dose. It should help. I want to see you in here every morning this week, and take some time to relax your eyes.”
Before Patrick could reply, an announcement came in over the intercom. “Bridge to the captain.“
“Go ahead,” Patrick answered.
“We have a bogey coming in fast.“
“Raise shields and have all weapons standing by. I’m on my way up.”
As Patrick entered the bridge, he began to assess the situation. “Have you been able to ID the ship?”
“It’s a Federation civilian craft, Peregrine class. Also, there’s another craft in pursuit.”
“Open a channel.”
“This is Captain Patrick Ingrum of the USS Baldwin. You appear to be off-course. Is there some way we can help you?”
“I’m getting a response,” Donna noted, “audio only.”
“Let’s hear it.”
“My name is Jacob Whitburn. I am requesting asylum from the pursuing craft.“
“Acknowledged, Mr. Whitburn, please prepare to dock in Shuttlebay 2. I will have a security team ready to escort you to our legal office, where my JAG officer and I will hear your case Baldwin out.” After a brief pause to allow the call to disconnect, Patrick turned to his tactical officer. “Donna, I need you to ID the pursuing ship.”
“It’s also a Peregrine class ship. It appears to be registered to the New Cardiff Security Force. The other vessel is registered to Mr. Whitburn. As far as I can tell, he has a clean record.”
“Ingrum to astrometrics: I need any information you can get on events and incidents at New Cardiff. I’ll also need intel reports on Syndicate activity in the area.”
“I’ll start pulling data right away,” Sarah replied.
“Much appreciated, Lieutenant.”
“Captain,” Donna interjected, “the second vessel has increased speed to try to catch Mr. Whitburn. They’re hailing us.”
“On Screen,” Patrick replied.
“This is Colonel Kline of the New Cardiff Security Force. I am pursuing a suspected agent of the Syndicate. I request that you turn him over to my custody.“
“Your suspect has already requested asylum. As a matter of course, I am obligated to at least hear him out before deciding to grant his request or turn him over to you. Your request is therefore on hold pending the outcome of my decision.”
“Captain, he’s charging phasers!”
“Colonel, stand down immediately! Engaging this ship with a civilian fighter would be an exercise in futility.” Rather than abide by Patrick’s instructions, Colonel Kline engaged his target craft as it was toward Baldwin’s shuttlebay. One of his shots missed Jacob’s ship and struck Baldwin‘s shields instead. “Donna, fire a warning shot, two photons, minimum yield, 10 meters port and starboard of Mr. Kline’s fighter.”
As ordered, Donna fired two torpedoes toward the pursuing ship, passing closely to the sides of the vessel. “Captain,” Donna noted, “Colonel Kline is hailing us again.”
“Captain, you are harboring a dangerous fugitive. The Governor of New Cardiff –“
“Let me make this clear. Mr. Whitburn is now in my custody, and he will not be leaving my custody until he gets his hearing. If your governor has a problem with that, refer to Federation policy on inter-colony extraditions. Return to New Cardiff, and inform the governor that I will render my decision swiftly.”
“I think he finally got the message,” Jaimie noted.
“Did I ever tell you how much I hate getting mixed up in politics?” Patrick replied.
After spending a few hours in an interview room, Jacob finally had an audience with the captain. “Okay, Mr. Whitburn,” Patrick inquired, “why are you requesting asylum?”
“I’m a member of the Nosotros party,” Jacob explained. “That’s the opposition party on New Cardiff. With the scare about the Syndicate increasing their piracy in the area, the Governor initiated a crackdown. I spoke out to express concerns about her actions. Next thing I know, she’s privately warning my party: oppose me and you will be squelched.”
“So, you were fleeing to avoid becoming a political prisoner?”
“If your allegations are true, I have every reason to offer you my protection. However, Colonel Kline accused you of being an Orion operative. You had better hope he’s lying. You saw me come in here with that walking stick, correct?”
“I have to use that stick. I have vertigo, my eyes are strained, and I have to take medication for my migraines, all of which is courtesy of the Syndicate. Basically, if you’re lying to me, you’ll be lucky if you make it back to New Cardiff.”
“Captain, I assure you,” Jacob coolly stated, “if there are any Syndicate members in my party, I’d hand them over to you without question.”
In an adjacent room, Sara was watching the interview as Bridget walked in. “How’s he doing?” Bridget inquired.
“If you’re wondering if his injuries are hampering him, I’d say no,” Sara noted. “He seems to be holding his own. Jacob does appear to be sincere about not being part of the Syndicate, however. How do you read him?”
“Read him? I’m an engineer, not a counselor.”
“Come on, Bridget, I know you’ve been trying to practice your telepathy. Besides, I’ve heard that you have filled the counselor role with your engineering team. Don’t forget about all the support you’ve given your husband.”
Bridget sighed in agreement before focusing on Baldwin‘s guest. Even though she was a rookie at mind-reading, glancing at surface thoughts had become routine. “His thoughts are very much collected. I don’t detect any indication that he’s nervous about anything. There’s a strong animus towards the New Cardiff government.”
“Why would Colonel Kline say he was an Orion operative? If he was planning a coup, this interview would be in the brig, not the interview room.”
“There are a lot of questions. Maybe the other Sarah has got some answers.”
“Lieutenant Allison to Lieutenant Jackson,” the astrometrics officer stated over the intercom.
“I swear, I did not read her mind,” Bridget commented.
“I believe you,” Sara noted. “Go ahead.”
“I’ve got those reports the captain wanted. I figured that you’d want to see them.“
“On my way,” Sara finished before turning to Bridget. “Stephanie’s arranged quarters for our guest; Donna’s got her security teams on full readiness. For the Captain, I recommend some daddy-daughter time.”
“I’m on it.”
“Hey,” Sara Jackson stated as she entered the Astrometics Lab, “what do you have?”
“A huge pile of ‘what the hell is going on,'” Sarah Allison answered. “For starters, there is very little evidence that suggests the syndicate is operating in New Cardiff’s region. However, there have been several unsolved terrorist attacks on New Cardiff that Governor Quellen has publicly blamed on the Syndicate, mainly based on their increased aggression in our area.”
“I take it she’s used these attacks to tighten security in the colony.”
“Yes, ma’am, the Nosotros party had publicly condemned the security measures. The Governor has been just as heated with her reply.”
Before Sara could ask her next question, a call came in on the intercom. “Bridge to Lieutenant Jackson, there’s a priority one call coming in for you from Admiral Bennett.”
“Put him through,” Sara responded. “Admiral, what seems to be the matter?”
“I just got off the line with the Federation Council representative for New Cardiff. He is being pressured by Governor Quellen to see to it your guest is released to their custody ASAP.“
“Is this a secure line?” Sara inquired.
“Yes, Lieutenant, I don’t like political messages being leaked to the press.“
“In that case, I must warn you that my gut is telling me to recommend that Captain Ingrum deny extradition and grant Mr. Whitburn’s asylum request. Furthermore, I think the Governor needs to be scrutinized. Her allegations that Orion terrorists are targeting New Cardiff cannot be confirmed by our intel.”
“Unfortunately, your legal judgment may not be enough. I suspect that the Governor will apply political pressure and get the President to order Captain Ingrum to turn him over to the New Cardiff government.“
“In other words, if I’m inclined to build a strong case against the Governor, I’d better get too it.”
“Tread carefully, Miss Jackson. The representative for New Cardiff is a very influential member of the council. Bennett out.“
“I suppose you will want as much information as you can about both the Governor and the Nosotros Party. I’m on it.”
“In the meantime, I’m going to conduct a second interview with Mr. Whitburn.”
“Hello, Mr. Whitburn. My name’s Sara Jackson. I’m the legal affairs officer. I have a few more questions regarding your asylum request.”
“I’m sure you do. I’ll bet that the Governor is using her connections to try to railroad me into her special prison because I’m a perceived ‘threat’ to her government.”
“I’ve already got the heads up that’s she’s starting to put pressure on Starfleet to have us turn you over to her. You mentioned that she has a special prison. What do you mean by that?”
“It’s a new facility that she had constructed just after the Dominion War had ended. Since her ‘New Cardiff’ party has an overwhelming majority in the legislature, she virtually passed this construction project without us even knowing what kind of facility it was. Rumor says that it’s some sort of prison that makes Rura Penthe look like Risa. The inmates have absolutely no contact with the outside world. It’s also rumored that they are holding several prominent members of Nosotros that have recently gone missing there because we were conducting our own investigation into the attacks.”
“What became of your investigation?”
“It’s all in the databanks on my ship.”
Sara’s eyes lit up at the revelation. She immediately started making a call. “Jackson to engineering: Bridget, I need the databanks of Mr. Whitburn’s fighter backed up ASAP, and a copy sent to Lieutenant Allison.”
“Understood,” Bridget answered, “I’ll have my teams on it right away.“
“Thanks,” Sara answered before making her next call. “Jackson to Bridge: I’m claiming Mr. Whitburn’s craft as potential evidence. Under no circumstances is it to be released – to hell with the politicians.”
Patrick sat down next to Sara for lunch in the Mess Hall. “I hear you had quite a morning,” he stated. “I got calls from Admirals Dillon and Donaldson wondering why you’re stirring up the political waters.”
“Everything I’m seeing and hearing is telling me not only is Mr. Whitburn telling the truth, but that the Governor has violated numerous articles of the Federation Constitution.”
“Those are some serious allegations. I’ve also received a transmission from Starfleet Command with the New Cardiff Security Force’s case against Mr. Whitburn. They delivered what they claim to be a series of intercepted transmissions between Nosotors and the Syndicate. However, because Starfleet Intelligence has not seen any Syndicate activity on New Cardiff, there’s no way I’m taking their evidence at face value. I’m having Miss Allison verify the authenticity of the transmissions.”
“What would happen if I find that the governor is committing unconstitutional actions?”
“Starfleet is not a posse comitatus. We can’t just barge in on a local matter.”
“However, if there is an indication that the New Cardiff government was acting against Federation principles, that would be a different matter. I would have to prove to the President that intervention is necessary. If they agree, then we could take action.”
“Welcome to the world of politics,” Patrick finished. “It’s a tough assignment. Do you think you’re up to the challenge?”
Near the end of the Alpha Shift, Sarah Allison called Patrick and Sara Jackson to Astrometrics. “Captain, Lieutenant, to sum it up, these messages are fake. They might have been able to fool a public defender or a jury; however, it couldn’t stand the scrutiny of my analysis.”
“Anything from the data found on Mr. Whitburn’s craft?”
“Unfortunately, there’s no holographic, video, or audio data. It’s mostly legal documents. That alone may not be enough to get the President to authorize action. However, there’s a memo in here that I’m having trouble deciphering.”
“Let me take a look,” Patrick stated. He read the brief text message carefully. Initiate Blaidd Drwg, the memo read. Apprehend JDW, assign to ADX facility. Place shield at subspace facility. “I have to assume that ‘JDW’ stands for ‘Jacob D. Whitburn.’ ‘ADX’ sound like some sort of holding facility. ‘Blaidd Drwg’, I believe, is Welsh for ‘bad wolf,’ it’s probably some sort of code name. Sara, I suggest you comb over the documents again, look for this phrase. Meanwhile, I will prepare my written decision. I’ve got to keep a straight face and not let the governor know we are preparing a case against her.”
Patrick swiftly entered the bridge at 0900 the next morning. “Donna, open a channel to the Governor’s office on New Cardiff.”
“Mister Ingrum, I am Governor Quellen of the New Cardiff colony. I understand you have a dangerous suspect in your custody. When do you plan on releasing him to us?”
“I have heard his asylum request and have received your petition for extradition. Based on the analysis of the evidence, I have decided to grant Mr. Whitburn’s request for asylum and therefore deny your request for extradition.”
“Captain, I do not believe your decision is sound. I would think that the Prime Directive prevents you from interfering in matters related to our planet.“
“I am afraid you are mistaken. The Prime Directive deals with interfering in the cultures of non-Federation members. It does not apply to a Federation colony. There are laws that restrict my involvement in local matters; however, I am required to hear requests for asylum from anyone who comes aboard my ship. It is strictly within my purview to grant or deny such requests.”
“You are making a big mistake. I will be making an appeal to your supervisors.”
“I would have been surprised if you didn’t. Until that appeal is heard, Mr. Whitburn is under my protection. Ingurm out.”
“I wonder how she’s going to feel when she finds out that you’ve accused her of misconduct,” Jaimie stated.
“I’m keeping that under wraps,” Patrick replied. “We don’t want her to know she’s being investigated.”
“You might not have much time,” Donna noted. “Admiral Ross is on the line for you.”
“I’ll take it in the Ready Room.”
“I understand that you have denied Governor Quellen’s extradition request,” Admiral Ross stated as his face appeared on the screen.
“I have serious doubts about the Governor’s honesty in this matter,” Patrick replied. “Our analysis of the Governor’s evidence indicates that it was fabricated. I know I cannot hold off her extradition request forever; however, by granting Mr. Whitburn asylum aboard Baldwin, I may be able to buy enough time to present a case before a District judge.”
“I take it that you believe that this goes further than malicious prosecution?“
“My JAG officer believes that Governor Quellen has turned New Cardiff into an unconstitutional police state. Needless to say, we need sufficient evidence of this before we can butt in.”
“And if you’re correct, you don’t want them knowing that you are investigating them for fear of reprisal. Have you spoken with Admiral Bennett?“
“Lieutenant Jackson spoke with the Admiral last night. The District Court is very interested in Sara’s report.”
“It sounds like you have all of your political ducks in a row. Keep me advised in your investigation.“
“I will, sir. Ingrum out,” Patrick answered.
As soon as Patrick got off the line with Admiral Ross, another message came in for the captain. “Captain, there’s a shuttle coming in from New Cardiff. The passenger is requesting an audience with you.“
“Is it a government envoy?”
“No, sir, she’s a FNS reporter.“
“Clear her for Bay 1. Have Stephanie escort her to the mess hall. Also, run her credentials – I’m not taking anything at face value.”
Patrick was waiting in the mess hall for his guest to arrive. “Erica Thomas, Federation News Service,” the reporter stated to identify herself.
“Captain Patrick Ingrum, commanding officer, USS Baldwin.”
“Captain, is it true that you’re holding a suspected Orion terrorist aboard this ship and refusing to release him?”
“It is true that I have aboard an accused Orion agent; however, Starfleet Intelligence believes that the Orion Syndicate has no interest in New Cardiff, nor do I not believe my guest has anything to do with the Syndicate, despite what Governor Quellen has stated to the press.”
“There have been significant lapses at Starfleet Intelligence that have resulted in significant casualties. For example, no one was aware of the Dominion’s alliance with the Breen until after they attacked Earth.”
“I am more than aware that our intelligence collection is less than perfect. However, Starfleet is continuously looking for ways to improve our intelligence system – to fix our weaknesses and reinforce our strengths. I have made several suggestions to improve Starfleet’s intelligence gathering operations, many of which are now part of intel’s operating procedure. Also, if I felt there was any legitimate sign of syndicate activity anywhere in my patrol zone, I would be all over it. Walk with me, Miss Thomas.”
As Patrick led Erica down the hallway, the reporter observed his slow stance and his reliance upon a cane. “Even for a Starfleet Captain, at your age, you shouldn’t have to use a cane.”
“I’m still in rehab for some serious injuries – suffered, no less, at the hands of an Orion woman.”
“Tell me about this Orion. I assume she’s involved with the syndicate.”
“She’s near the top of the hierarchy ladder. She is also an augment; the injuries I suffered were inflicted single-handedly by her.”
“That sounds very aggressive,” Erica noted. “So basically, you’re gut is telling you that Starfleet Intelligence is correct – that the Syndicate has no interest in New Cardiff.”
“No interest whatsoever,”
“So, do you think it’s a political ploy by Governor Quellen to discredit the Nosotros party?”
“I don’t want to make comments about politics.”
“There is one other thing before I leave you. Since you mentioned that this syndicate boss that injured you is an augment, rumor has it that, despite Starfleet policy to the contrary, there is an augment among your crew. If that is true, does that make you feel uncomfortable?”
“I had a feeling you were going to ask that,” Patrick retorted as he opened the door to his quarters. “Miss Thomas, meet Bridget: wife, mother, engineer, augment.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Ingrum.”
“Please, call me Bridget.”
“So, Bridget, tell me, has your relationship with the captain changed since his injuries?”
“I sometimes have to nag him to see the doctor; however, if you’re wondering if he loves me less, I hate to disappoint you. Our relationship started when I took a shot meant for Patrick. Since then, our love for each other has continued to grow and blossom.”
After concluding her interview, Erica departed Baldwin and returned to New Cardiff. Toward the end of the Alpha shift, Patrick received a call from the JAG office. Patrick called Sara to the ready room before beginning the conference. “Admiral Bennett,” Patrick stated, “how can we help you.”
“I’ve got good news for you. You have the authority to fully investigate Governor Quellen’s actions. I also have an order from the President giving you the authority to place the New Cardiff Security force under your command. I’m sending you a warrant to directly monitor the Governor’s communications.“
“Aye, sir. What about her plans to appeal my decision?”
“The Circuit Court will promptly dismiss her appeal without comment, although, if you release Mr. Whitburn, he could still be subject to arrest if he returns to New Cardiff.“
Patrick and Sara promptly gave a copy of the warrant to the Astrometrics Department, with orders to access the Governor’s official and personal systems pursuant to the warrant. The Beta and Gamma Shift astrometrics officers sifted through the information. They were also given a key phrase to look for: Blaidd Drwg.
The next morning, Sarah Allison met with Patrick for a briefing. “Captain, it appears that our worst fears may be realized. Thanks to your search warrant, Operation Blaidd Drwg was found in Governor Quellen’s personal files. The Operation details several potential targets for false flag attacks; many of the targets have been hit.”
“Once the people become insecure as a result of the attacks, the government, going with the operation title, blames it on a ‘bad wolf,'” Patrick noted. “Thus, she can get aggressive security measures passed with little opposition.”
“And if there is any dissent,” Sara Jackson noted, “they can cast that dissent as a ‘bad wolf,’ as well. I think there’s more than enough evidence here to indicate that New Cardiff’s government is out of control.”
“We also did some research on Colonel Kline,” Sarah continued. “He’s a graduate of Starfleet Academy in tactical operations. However, his performance in Starfleet was less than stellar. His COs marked him up repeatedly as someone who routinely used excessive force.”
“Basically, he’s a little trigger happy,” Patrick replied.
“Not only that, he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter involving an incident 10 years ago. He was dishonorably discharged from Starfleet and spent 5 years in Auckland. After his release, he enlisted in the New Cardiff Security Force. Guess who recruited him?”
Patrick picked up the rhetorical nature of Sarah’s question. “So,” he continued, “Colonel Kline is the Governor’s right-hand man in the local corps. Good work, lieutenant.”
“So,” Sara inquired, “what’s the next step?”
“Bridge to the captain,” Jaimie interrupted over the intercom. “We’ve got a bogey approaching, bearing 300 mark 5.“
“Go to yellow alert. Raise shields and ready phasers. I’ll let you handle this one, JP. I’ve got a doctor’s appointment to make.”
“Acknowledged,” Jaimie replied.
“Shields are up,” Donna noted. “Phasers are fully charged and photon torpedoes are standing by.”
“Have you been able to identify the vessel?” Jaimie inquired.
“It is Colonel Kline’s fighter,” Donna indicated as the ship rocked, signaling a phaser hit.
“I guess the Governor won’t take no for an answer. Lock phasers onto the Colonel Kline’s weapons and shields. Once his shields are disabled, inform him that the next time he engages us we will arrest him and impound his ship.”
“Aye, Commander,” Donna responded as Jaimie engaged the captain’s console to write a brief report for Starfleet Command.
“Come in,” Jacob said after hearing the doorbell to his guest quarters ring.
“Mr. Whitburn,” Patrick stated as he entered.
“Is there a problem, captain?”
“It seems that Governor Quellen has you on her enemies list,” Patrick noted. “All of the evidence she has against you is clearly falsified. As far as I’m concerned, the charges against you are baseless. However -“
“However,” Jacob continued the train of thought, “the Governor still has enough pull over the judicial system on New Cardiff that she can keep the charges up long enough for me to lose my riding.”
“If I lived in your riding, you would still have my vote,” Patrick commented. “We need more politicians who are not afraid to speak their mind, even if they’re considered irrelevant.”
“How are you feeling, you mentioned that you were injured at the hands of the Syndicate?”
“I’m feeling better. I should be free from this cane by the end of the week. I owe a lot of it to my wife, Bridget.”
“I heard that a reporter came by and did an interview with you. I’m surprised I haven’t seen a feature from her. To be honest, I haven’t seen much in the news from New Cardiff.”
A call interrupted the conversation “Captain,” Sarah stated, “I’d thought you’d be interested in a news flash. It seems that the FNS office building was bombed.“
“Any casualty reports.”
“Negative,” Sarah answered, “however, the Governor is getting ready to make a speech.“
“Bring it up on the astrometrics screen. We’re on our way.” After ending the call with Sarah, Patrick turned to Jacob, “I, for one, am interested in what the Governor has to say.”
“Our New Cardiff Security Force quickly began investigating the incident. We found that a Federation News Service reporter had been clandestinely exchanging messages with the Syndicate, despite our efforts to block such messages from getting through. She is being held at our most secure facility pending trial.“
“It seems like your reporter has been apprehended,” Jacob commented as the Governor continued her speech.
“I think you’re right,” Patrick answered. “Sarah, run a full background check on Miss Thomas. I don’t think she’s Orion; however, I don’t think her day job is as a reporter.”
“On it,” Sarah replied. As soon as she submitted her request for a background check, the console beeped to indicate an immediate response. “Captain, Admiral Donaldson would like to speak with you in private.”
“Clear the room,” Patrick ordered. As soon as everyone had exited, Patrick opened the channel. “Admiral, I take it that Erica Thomas is one of yours.”
“Very Astute, Captain,” the Admiral stated. “She was sent in to investigate the accuracy of Governor Quellen’s comments. We were getting ready to pull her out when Mr. Whitburn fled the planet. We haven’t heard from her since she visited Baldwin.“
“It sounds like the governor has imposed a total communications blackout.”
“I’d hate to say it,” Admiral Donaldson stated, “but I think we need to remove the Governor from power.“
“I’m sure that Sara’s report will have a few choice words regarding her,” Patrick replied. “You can expect a write-up by the end of the day. Ingrum Out.”
After disconnecting with Admiral Donaldson, Patrick called Sarah and Jacob back in. “Mr. Whitburn, I have a question for you. If you were called upon to lead the government of New Cardiff, do you think you get the confidence of the other members.”
“Until Governor Quellen dragged my name through the dirt, I was one of the most respected opposition leaders in the legislature.”
“Understood,” Patrick answered. “There’s something about Governor Quellen I don’t like. If I’m right, I’m counting on you to get the support of the rest of the legislature.”
Sara promptly submitted her report with the details that Baldwin had uncovered about Governor Quellen’s actions. Patrick had the chance to review the report before it was sent to the President’s office; as he predicted, it was scathing toward the incumbent head of New Cardiff. Admiral Donaldson also submitted his report regarding the disappearance of his operative, as well as her possible capture by the local authorities.
Meanwhile, Patrick went about his routine. He paid his regular visit to sick bay, where Dr. Bratney checked his healing progress. After lunch with Bridget, Patrick took some time to relax in his quarters while his daughter napped. When Tiana woke up, he brought out a data pad and began reading children’s stories to her.
The next morning, while he was feeding Tiana a jar of applesauce, Donna interrupted him over the intercom. “Captain,” she exclaimed, “you have a priority one message! It’s the Palais de la Concorde.“
“I’ll take it in here,” Patrick replied has he made a beeline towards the computer terminal. Once he accepted the call, he stood at attention when he realized who was on the other end of the line. “What can I do for you, Mr. President?”
“I have been apprised of your investigation of New Cardiff,” the President noted. “It is clear, based on your legal officer’s report, as well as the intelligence reports of Admiral Donaldson’s team, that Governor Quellen has violated the rights of her constituency and essentially declared Martial Law under false pretense. Therefore, you are requested and required to remove her and ensure a fair and orderly transition of power.“
“Acknowledged,” Patrick answered.
“By the way, is that applesauce on your uniform?“
“I apologize, sir. I was just feeding my 15-month old. Even with the fate of a government in your hands, you still have to take care of the little things. Baldwin out.” As soon as he ended the call with the President, he activated the intercom. “Ingrum to Jackson: please escort our guest to my quarters.”
“I’m on it, sir,” Sara replied, “we’ll be there in five minutes.“
Sara promptly entered the Ingrums’ quarters with Jacob in tow. “Mr. Whitburn,” Patrick began, “I’m sorry we’ve had to keep you a little out of the loop on what we were doing; however, I could not afford to have it leaked out to the press – or the Governor’s office. Sara reviewed the records on your ship and concluded there was enough probable cause to get a search warrant. I have just been contacted by the President in person with instructions to remove her from power. I intend to see it that the elections are promptly called. Until then, we’re going to need an interim Governor. Do you think you’re up to the task?”
“As I said yesterday,” Jacob replied, “before the governor started to defame me, I was well respected among the members of the legislature. I should have the support needed to run the government and secure a fair election. If what you say is true, and the incumbent government is badly tarnished, I might even be able to earn a full term.”
“In that case, Sara, please administer the oath of office.”
“Please raise your right hand,” Sara instructed.
“I, Jacob Daniel Whitburn,” Jacob began, “do solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United Federation of Planets against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I shall do the same for the constitution of the Colony of New Cardiff; and that I shall faithfully execute the duties of the office for which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
Even though Jacob had been sworn in as a caretaker governor, his position was not recognized beyond the confines of Baldwin. Patrick’s next job was to install him as acting head of state. He expected stiff resistance to his arrival; he was not disappointed. “Captain!” Donna exclaimed. “Three fighters, bearing 325 mark 20. They’re New Cardiff – and Colonel Kline is among them.”
“Red Alert!” Patrick stated. “Just in case the Colonel is sane enough to open a dialog, let’s give him the opportunity.”
“Channel open,” Donna noted.
“This is Colonel Kline of the New Cardiff Security Force. You are ordered to surrender the suspect to us immediately, or we will open fire.“
“Colonel Kline, this is Captain Ingrum. Under authority granted to me by the President of the United Federation of Planets, the New Cardiff Security Force is now under Starfleet control; I’m giving the orders now. Stand down and prepare to be towed into our shuttlebay.”
As soon as Patrick concluded his message, Donna prepared the tractor beam. As soon as she locked on to Colonel Kline’s fighter, her console’s response surprised her. “Captain,” she stated, “I’m unable to activate the tractor beam. I’m getting an ‘Access Denied’ message.”
Patrick got up from his chair and walked to the tactical station. He punched in his command code to determine the source of the administrative lockout. “Damn it!” Patrick exclaimed. “The tractor beam was locked out using Baldwin‘s prefix code.” A series of beeps signaled further trouble. “Our shields are being disabled remotely,” Patrick noted. “All hands, brace for a possible -” Before he could finish his sentence, the anticipated impact occurred, shaking the bridge and engineering sections. “Damage report,” Patrick ordered.
“He knew just where to hit us,” Bridget stated over the intercom. “We just lost a critical power conduit. All weapons systems are going to be down for at least five minutes while we reroute power.“
“Laura, get us out of here!”
Patrick and Bridget crawled through the Jeffries Tubes to inspect the damaged power conduit. “I can understand him illicitly obtaining our prefix code,” Patrick noted. “I don’t understand how a single fighter could seriously disable a cruiser with just one shot.”
As they reached the location of the conduit, Bridget surveyed the damage. “It looks like Colonel Kline has a little more firepower that he should. This damage is beyond the capability of a single fighter-launched photon.” As she was commenting about the damage, she scanned the area with a tricorder. “This definitely wasn’t done by a photon. I’m detecting radiation signatures that are consistent with a quantum warhead.”
“Just what we need,” Patrick stated sarcasticly. “He’s got illegal QT’s as well. Ingrum to Jackson: Sara, I think you ought to see this. We definitely have a case against the Colonel.”
Patrick, Sara, and Bridget made sure the engineering team documented the damage to the conduit. Sara used the documentation to prepare a report to the JAG office, while Patrick immediately notified the Palasis de la Concorde of the incident. Starfleet Command immediately authorized changing Baldwin‘s prefix code.
Once the repairs to the conduit were completed and the prefix code changed, Baldwin set a course back to New Cardiff. Once again, they were greeted with opposition. “Captain, Colonel Kline’s fighter is on an intercept course,” Donna stated.
“Open a channel,” Patrick replied. Donna gestured to indicated that hailing frequencies were open. “Colonel Kline, this is Captain Ingrum. You are ordered to stand down and prepare to be towed into our shuttle bay. This time, there will be no more funny business.”
“He’s charging phasers,” Donna noted. “He’s also trying to remote into our systems.”
“Target weapons and engines,” Patrick stated. “Prepare the tractor beam for towing – and prepare a spot in the brig for our new guest. Once that’s taken care of, transmit the President’s order on New Cardiff’s channel, the add the following: by virtue of the authority granted by the president, I am assuming command of the New Cardiff Security force. I hereby relieved Colonel Kine of his duty. USS Baldwin is to be escorted to New Cardiff. Any order to the contrary is hereby countermanded, and this order shall only be canceled by order of the President, myself, or my executive officer, Commander Jaimie Petrelli. Signed, Captain Patrick Ingrum, commanding officer, USS Baldwin, Stardate 55119.”
“Colonel Kline’s fighter has been tractored in. I’ve dispatched a security team to escort him to the brig. Your orders have been successfully transmitted.”
“Good, now let’s see if they are being followed. Number One, you have the bridge. I’ve got some personal business to attend to.”
“Aye, sir,” Jaimie replied.
Colonel Kline spent the better part of the afternoon in Baldwin’s brig before he was paid a visit Patrick and Sara. “Captain, I’ll have your head for this outrage.”
“On the contrary,” Patrick answered. “It’s your head that’s about to go on the platter. Our engineering teams have gone over your craft with a fine-tooth comb. We found 20 quantum warheads, and a list of prefix codes for Starfleet vessels.”
“Who the hell gave you the right to snooping aboard my vessel.”
“I’d consider using a quantum warhead to inflict damage on a starship to be well within probable cause.”
“In any case,” Sara noted, “we have you on willful destruction of Starfleet property, as well as possession of contraband ordnance. More charges, Mr. Kline, will be pending.”
“Do you really think those charges are going to stick? I’m sure you know I’m very well connected.”
“Your political circle,” Patrick noted, “is about to collapse.”
Governor Quellen was in her office when Patrick and Jacob beamed in. “So, you decided to turn Mr. Whitburn over to me.”
“On the contrary,” Patrick replied. “I’m here to install him as Acting Governor. Your recent actions have manage to raise a few flags, enough that they issued a search warrant on your Operation Blaidd Drwg. Your little power play has been exposed, and the president has given you a vote of ‘no confidence.’ Miss Quellen, you are under arrest on the charge of treason. The current government is hereby dissolved. Guards, take her away,” he stated to the security officers as they removed their ex-boss from the room. “Ingrum to Baldwin: Contact the Palasis, tell them that former governor Quellen is in our custody.”
Patrick stood by as the Federation president gave a brief announcement to the press. “A few days ago, a citizen of the New Cardiff colony sought and received asylum aboard the USS Baldwin. He provided data alleging that the government was violating the rights of his citizens. Based on the information provided by this citizen, the courts provided Starfleet with the authority to investigate. The results of that investigation confirmed that Governor Quellen has engaged in a power play; therefore, I ordered the New Cardiff security be placed under Starfleet control and ordered that Miss Quellen be removed from her position. I will let Baldwin‘s captain provide further details.”
The viewscreen in the governor’s office turned from the president to the assembled members of the press corps, signaling that is was Patrick’s turn to talk. “I am Captain Patrick Ingrum, and, as the president said, I am the commanding officer of the USS Baldwin. Our investigation revealed that the recent bombings at New Cardiff were carried out by the security forces on the direct orders of Governor Quellen. By doing so, she was able to pass legislation restricting the freedoms of her constituency, as well as insinuating those opposed to her measures were responsible for the bombings. My legal affairs officer presented her findings to the Palais. Once we received the order, we headed toward New Cardiff. One of Miss Quellen’s co-conspirators attempted to engage the Baldwin. We were ultimately able to arrest him and proceed to New Cardiff.”
“As an interim measure, I have recommended, with the president’s concurrence, that Mr. Jacob Whitburn be made acting governor pending a colony wide election. I anticipate that the election will occur about three months from now, on Stardate 55268. Mr. Whitburn also intends on campaigning for a full term as governor in his own right.”
Patrick paused to allow the press to ask a question, “Captain Ingrum, is it true that your ship took severe damage engaging Colonel Kline?”
“I was hoping not to name additional names; however, yes, Colonel Kline was the one who engaged us. He did have a tactical advantage – his fighter was carrying quantum torpedoes, and he had access to Baldwin‘s prefix codes. He was able to force our shields down and fire a quantum torpedo at a critical section of my ship.”
“Since you admit that Colonel Kline had the ability to drop your shields, does that mean that Starfleet is at risk of being disabled should the Syndicate, for instance, decide to attack a colony?“
“Obviously, something like this is a serious security breach. I have recommended, and the President and the Admiralty have quickly concurred, that a fleet-wide prefix code change is in order. Additionally, the office of information security will be looking into how the data got stolen in the first place.”
“Just because,” Patrick continued, “we have suffered a breach in security, that doesn’t mean we are in a reactionary mode. Research has been ongoing for some time into stronger encryption protocols and strengthening defenses in critical areas of Federation space. Some of these new encryption protocols have already been field tested and may be implemented in the next few days.”
“This question is for Governor Whitburn. How likely do you think it will be for you to win a race for governor?“
“I have a slight advantage in that I’m considered the incumbent, even though I sit mainly as a caretaker at the moment. I also suspect that many voters will abandon the New Cardiff party because of former Governor Quellen. Many of those voters will likely turn to the Nosotors party, of which I am a member.”
“I do not, however, intend to rest on the laurels of incumbency and the goodwill that my party may receive. I intend to present my issues to the people of New Cardiff. I want the people of New Cardiff to know that I am doing this with what I genuinely believe to be their best interests at heart, and not to seek power for myself or for my party.”
Captain’s Log, Stardate 55121.3: We are en-route to sector 001 to deliver Colonel Kline and former Governor Quellen to a civilian facility pending trial. Both of them are facing serious charges, and will be facing possible life sentences if convicted.
“Good Morning, sir,” Sarah stated as her captain entered the warroom.
“Morning, Lieutenant, are you ready?” Patrick answered as he quickly strided without any assistance to Sarah’s station.
“Aye, Captain,” Sarah replied. “Our window is ten minutes today, and it’s opening right now.”
“Proceed,” Patrick ordered. Sarah began entering the commands to begin the download. “How far along are we now?”
“The New Cardiff incident forced us to skip a couple of windows; however, we’re still making great progress. We’re up to forty-eight percent.”
As the data process continued, Bridget entered the warroom. “There you are. I’ve been looking all over for you.”
“I know,” Patrick quipped, “It’s time to go to Dr. Bratney for another check-up.”
“You’re doing a lot better,” Bridget observed. “He indicated that this will be your last daily check-up. Also, Jaimie sent me down with a message from Starfleet HQ.”
Patrick quickly reviewed the message. “Well, it looks like we’re going to have a civilian stationed aboard for a while. Starfleet has approved a request by FNS to embed a reporter aboard Baldwin.” Patrick quickly glanced at the name of the reporter. “It looks like you’ll be receiving a requisition soon,” he commented to his wife as he walked with her to Dr. Bratney’s office. “She’s going to need an office, and a secure terminal.” He followed up his verbal comment with a telepathic message. She’s a nice girl, you’ve met her. She also happens to be our new liaison with Starfleet Intelligence.