“Commander,”Kristy said, “you have an incoming message from Admiral Belding.”
“I’ll take it in the conference lounge,” Jaimie replied as she stood up to answer the call. As Jaimie entered the conference room, she pressed on button on a console. “Yes, Admiral, what can I do for you?”
“I heard that you have taken Cadet Collins under your wing.“
“News seems to be traveling a little slower than normal,” Jaimie answered. “Patrick was part of an away mission and subsequently took shore leave. He basically felt that I was doing all right and wanted me to keep her under my wing.”
“You’re doing a good job so far, keep up the good work,” the Admiral replied.
“I wouldn’t think that would call on me just to check up on a pet project.”
“I’m also interested in hearing how Patrick has been doing.”
“When Patrick is on the bridge, his very focused. He strives to put balance between his work and social life. I would say he’s doing a good job. If anything, his relationship has been a positive influence. As for Bridget, I meet with her on a regular basis. She is just as focused as her boyfriend.”
“They seem to be a happy couple, that’s good.“
“Hey, sweetie,” Patrick said as he sat down.
“Hi,” Bridget answered. “How are things up on the bridge?”
“Things are going well,”Patrick stated “We’re still trying to figure out what caused that subspace wave.”
“It would probably help if we were able to head over to the source of the wave.”
“We may get a chance. We’re doing all right in regard to our Cardassian cargo runs. Since we have the best astrometric lab of the ships in the area,”
“We’re the one that gets to investigate.”
“Hey,” Jaimie said asshe sat down on Patrick’s table. “How have the two of you been?”
“We’re doing all right,” Patrick answered, “How’s your personal life?”
“There’s someone aboard the Tecumseh that I’ve been seeing for a while.”
“Good,” Patrick replied. “I don’t want to seem like I’m the only one on this ship with a love life.”
“I’m glad you feel that way. What are our new orders?”
“We’re off to the badlands. If you’d like, I think the Baldwin can do without you for a few days. I’m sure the captain of Tecumseh could be grilled to do the same.”
“Thank you, Sir,” Jaimie answered. “I would appreciate that.”
“Have you ever thought about having a family?”
“I’ve been kind of busy lately, but I’d say that the thought had crossed my mind.”
“Have you figured out what you’re going to do on your vacation?”
“Not really, but it will probably be somewhere where I don’t have to worry about command issues.”
“Good idea. I’ll see you in two weeks.”
“Take care of Bridget while I’m away.”
“You know I will.” Patrick watched as Jaimie exited the airlock.
“How’s it going, cadet?” Bridget asked.
“I’m doing allright,” Dorian replied. “How about you? I take it that you and the captain are still together.”
“I can’t deny that. How’s the warp coils?”
“A couple of them on the port nacelle need rebuilt.”
“You’ve got some experience taking those coils on.”
“Good,” Bridget answered, “I think you’ve become a lot more comfortable working here.”
“Thank you, ma’am,”Dorian answered. “I’m still curious as to how you and the captain are doing.”
“We’re doing fine,” Bridget answered. “Patrick and I have become close to each other. I think that somehow, we’ve become better friends. Just curious, why do you ask?”
“One of the problems I had at the academy was the ability to balance personal and classwork time. I want to make sure that I don’t swing too far one way or the other.”
“I see,” Bridget responded as she grabbed her stomach.
“You feeling all right, ma’am?”
“I’m fine,” Bridget said. “I’ve been feeling a little queasy lately.”
“Maybe you should see the doctor.”
“I’ll do it the morning.”
“You wanted to see me, Bridget?”
“Yes, doctor. I haven’t been feeling so well lately. I thought I’d cheek in to make sure I haven’t contracted anything serious.”
“I understand,” the doctor replied. “If you could sit here, please.”
“We’ve arrived at the edge of the badlands, captain.”
“On screen.” The viewer showed a strong plasma storm. “I’ve never seen a storm that intense,” Patrick commented. “I doubt that alone would cause a disruption. Somehow, I figured we might come across some heavy weather. I’ve got the Neosho prepped and ready. Donna, you have the bridge.”
“Hey, Bridget,” Patrick said as he entered sickbay.
“What did I do now?” Bridget asked.
“Nothing, Lieutenant,” Patrick replied. “I could use your assistance as an engineer. I’m taking Neosho into the Badlands to collect the data on the effect of the badlands on the subspace currents. Do you think you can meet me aboard the Neosho in 20 minutes?”
“Not a problem. Let me finish up with Kay, then I’ll meet you at the runabout.”
“I’ll see you there,” Patrick answered as he left the room.
“How come you didn’t tell him the news?” Kay inquired. “You know he wants and needs to know.”
“Because, doctor,” Bridget said, “Now is not the right time. I don’t want him feeling guilty about asking me to work with him on or hazardous mission.”
“Think you’re ready to go?” Patrick asked
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” Bridget answered.
“Baldwin, Neosho” Patrick stated, “we are ready to disembark.”
“Good luck, captain,” Donna said from the center seat. “I’ll keep the chair warm for you, but I don’t want to lose you, either. Be careful.”
“You know I will. Setting course for the apparent source of the wave.”
“Ahead at one quarter, impulse,” Bridget said, “Any faster and we’d be a little too close to those storms for comfort.”
“Going in at one quarter.”
“Begin relaying data to astrometrics.” Neosho weaved through the plasma fields. Bridget started singing to pass the time. “Jump outta bed and I stumble to the kitchen,” she sang. “Pour myself a cup of ambition…”
“You have developed a pretty voice,” Patrick commented.
“Thank you.” Bridget answered. “I think my genetic background gave me the ability to pick up a tune and sing it. However, I must say that I’m somewhat attracted by your ability to picks up a tune.”
“I’ll have to duet with you or little more,” Patrick answered, “Hang on, I’m picking up a strange object bearing 205 mark 20.”
“Moving in,” Bridget said. “This is not like anything I’ve ever seen before.” Outside the runabout lay a piece of rock with a hole cut in it. “Could this be the source of our subspace disturbances?”
Before Patrick could answer, a plasma flare struck the object. Sparks flew in Neosho‘s cockpit. “Do you think you can come up with your own answer, Lieutenant?”
“No doubt about it. That object is a giant warp coil. Put enough plasma in that thing and you’ll generate a subspace field big enough to rock anything within a couple of hundred light-years.”
“That’s nice, but now we’ve got a problem,” Patrick stated. “Looks like it’s in the control lines between the computer and the impulse engine. I’m going to take a look.” Patrick pulled out acover to a control panel. “Found it. An optical line got melted. Can you hand me a repair kit.”
“Here you go,” Bridget replied as she crawled into the tube.
“Thanks,” Patrick answered. As he began to work, he started singing. “I’m gonna build me a boat with these two hands,” Patrick began as Bridget added a harmony. “It’ll be a fair curve from a noble plan. Let the chips fall where they will, cause I’ve got boats to build.” After finishing the song, Patrick paused for a moment and thought aloud. “I wonder if our kids would ever be as gifted musically.”
“We may find out a little sooner than you expected,” Bridget answered.
“Why do you say that?”
“You know I haven’t felt well, and was in sickbay this morning.”
“Well, the doctor said it was serious, and it would have an impact on our relationship.”
“How serious?” Patrick answered, in part desiring for an answer he was hoping for and afraid that there was something wrong with his mate.
“She told me that I was seriously pregnant.”
Patrick sighed in relief and continued his inquiry, “How far along are you?”
“About six weeks.”
“I’ve got to hand it to her,” Patrick commented to himself.
“Who is that?”
“My sister. When she was in sickbay after the nacelle strut caved in on the two of you, she wanted to wager to me that we would have a bundle of joy to call our own within a year. Looks like she is going to win.”
Dorian was working on the bridge when Donna approached her. “How are you doing, cadet?” Donna asked.
“Just fine, ma’am,” Dorian replied. “I’m just a little concerned about my supervisor in engineering, lieutenant… I don’t even know her last name.”
“You mean Bridget? Donna asked. “I don’t know if she even has one. Anyway, what’s your concern?”
“She’s been feeling a little under the weather lately. She looks like she’s about to get space sick or something.”
“I’m sure she’ll be fine,” Donna answered, “But if I were to speculate, It’s probably a cause for celebration.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s no secret that Bridget and Patrick are an item, and that having a little one is something they are both interested in.”
“I’ve heard Bridget talk about it all the time,” Dorian commented. “But I didn’t think – “
“One thing Patrick told me once about little ones is that they come looking for you. If Bridget is pregnant, I suspect that the two of them would be more than willing to greet the baby with open arms.”
“Allison to bridge,” Sarah interrupted, “You might runt to come down here and check this out.“
“On my way,” Donna replied, “Care to join me?”
Donna and Dorian entered the warroom to find out what was going on. “Good, you’re here. I’m picking up the relay signal from Neosho. They appear to have been delayed slightly.”
“There’s a lot of weather out there,” Sarah commented, “plasma storms areat extreme energy levels. I also am being shown this object. It appears to be some sort of rock, but Patrick has red-flagged it for analysis.”
“I assume that you have some early answers.”
“Well, it appears to correspond to Patrick’s initial guess: it appears to resemble a giant warp coil.”
“What does your analysis show, ma’am?” Dorian asked.
“Something tells me,”Sarah answered, “Your engineering experience could be very helpful in this situation. What does it look like to you?”
“I would say that the material composition of this rock are the same an a standard warpcoil. It’s certainly shaped like or coil. If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck.”
“Could it quack like a duck, too?” Donna asked.
“It most certainly could. If that asteroid were made of a subspace reactant, as you would find in a warp coil, the plasma would excite the material to disturb subspace.” On a starship, it’s a controlled reaction…”
“But with that thing, it’s a little different,” Donna finished.
“Do you think it is feasible for that rock to cause a subspace wave?” Sarah asked.
“Undoubtedly,” Dorian answered.
“I have to wonder,” Sarah opined, “if Patrick and Bridget are getting along out there.”
“Those two couldn’t stay mad at each other for long,” Donna commented. “Besides, I believe our resident cadet suspects something.”
“I was telling Lieutenant Belding about how Bridget wasn’t feeling well.”
“I suppose I should prepare for the baby shower,” Sarah commented.
“Is there anyone that doesn’t suspect that Bridget might be pregnant?”
“There, that should do it,” Patrick commented. “Bridget, could you fire up the impulse engines?”
“I’m on it. I also have to request something from you.”
“What is it?” Patrick asked.
“I intend to keep going as long as I can.”
“I don’t have a problem with that,” Patrick replied. “There are some medical considerations that have to be made, but all in all, it shouldn’t stop you from your duties. Besides, I don’t have any authority to relieve you of duty except under rare circumstances.”
“That’s right, that whole ‘conflict of interest’ thing,” Bridget answered. “Impulse engines are fired up and online.”
“All right. Set course back to Baldwin, best available speed.”
“I’m on it.”
“Now that I know I’m going to be a father, there is one thing that I would like for you to do.”
“What is it?”
“We’ve known each other for what, maybe three years now? These past three months, I think we’ve gotten to know each other a little more intimately. Right now I feel that our paths in life are meant for us to walk together. I guess what I’m saying is quite simple. Bridget, will you many me?”
“I was wondering,” Bridget answered, “when you were going to ask me that question. I’m thinking the same way. I accept.”
“I guess we just have to worry about all those little wedding details. Baldwin, Neosho, We’re ready to come in.”
“Understood,” Laura replied. I’ll assume you want to meet with Donna and Sarah in the warroom.”
“How about 1230. We burned out a line – it will need to be replaced.”
“I’ll let them know. Baldwin out.”
Patrick and Bridget entered the warroom. “Having fun yet?” Patrick asked, somewhat jokingly.
“Let’s just say the weather outside doesn’t look so inviting,” Sarah retorted. “Plasma activity is on a serious upswing.”
“What about that object?” Bridget asked
“Do we really need to discuss this to death?” Donna queried. “I think we have all come to the same conclusion.”
“The big question is,” Sarah added, “how the hell do we predict when another wave will come crashing into starships? I doubt that Starfleet could afford to keep a ship out here.”
“Wouldn’t an automated probe be effective enough?” Dorian asked.
“A small automated station would be able to effectively do the job,” Bridget commented. “Pack it with the proper sensors and a way to call home, we can figure the probability for another wave.”
“First off, where do we stand right now?”
“Based on the information that we received from the Neosho, the conditions are right for the plasma to energize our catalyst and create another subspace wave.”
“What’s our odds?”
“25 to 40 percent, depending on the severity.”
“I’d say it’s time to prepare a hazardous weather outlook. Bridget, you and Dorian can work on a probe that can continually monitor the conditions. Sarah, prepare to construct a general message to all starships traveling or planning to be in this area.”
“Aye, sir. There’s one thing that I’m curious about, if I may ask.”
“What is it, Lieutenant.”
“We heard that Bridget hasn’t been feeling too well,” Donna came in. “Sarah and I were thinking that it may be a sign of change.”
“Our relationship appears to have made it into scuttlebutt,” Patrick commented to his girl.
“I suppose it has. You know what they say about scuttlebutt.”
“I do – it’s usually true. I guess we should say, on a personal note, that we are now engaged and hopefully, in about seven and a half months, will become proud parents.”
“Congratulations,” Donna answered.
“Thanks, Donna,”Bridget replied. “Just don’t disappear on me if I go on a hormonal rage.”
“Cadet, are you ready to get this probe ready?” Bridget inquired.
“Yes, ma’am,” Dorian answered.
“Good,” Bridget replied as she opened up a probe casing. “Hand me that gamma torch, please.”
“Here you go,” theyoung cadet replied. “There is one thing I would like to say, about this whole rumor thing.”
“What is it?”
“I have to say I was worried about you after yesterday. I personally thought you might be ill. Lieutenant Belding and Lieutenant Allison thought you were pregnant. It’s probably more fortunate they were right.”
“Don’t lose sleep about it. You had concerns about my health, and I think that’s a good thing – and so does Patrick. You had people that were concerned about your field studies, that’s why we’ve taken you under our wing.”
“Captain,” Sarah stated, “I think I may have enough information to bring you a forecast for the next week or so. If you’re ready to compose a message.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant. Computer, begin recording,” Patrick answered, before starting his message. “This hazardous space weather outlook is for the badlands and the adjacent systems within 60 light-years, including the Aloran… Torros… and Bajoran systems. Through Stardate 53399: Plasma flare activity within the badlands will be well above normal. An asteroid located in the Badlands between the Aloran and Torros systems is composed of a subspace catalyst. If a plasma stream interacts with the asteroid, another subspace surge is anticipated. Through Stardate 53409: Plasma flare activity is expected to diminish slightly, thus reducing potential interaction with the catalyst. USS Baldwin is currently deploying an automated sensor system to continue monitoring. A starship presence may be needed later on.”
“That sounded good, if a little scripted,” Sarah commented.
“I think it needs to be scripted. Send it out as a general message of vital interest.”
“Now, I guess I should get to a message of personal business.”
“This wouldn’t happen to be about the baby, would it?”
“Is it that obvious?”
“Well, sir, scuttlebutt says that you and Bridget were trying to start a family.”
“Somehow, that doesn’t surprise me,” Patrick answered. “My sister thought that we’d have a baby within a year of getting together.”
“Looks like she was right on the money. I guess many of us see you as the consummate couple.”
“Thanks. Now, if I can get a hold of the Wildfire before the scuttlebutt beats me to it.”
Patrick moved over to the control panel and opened a subspace channel. “Hey,” Anna said, “how have you been?“
“I’ve been doing allright,” Patrick stated. “Do you remember what you mentioned to me in Wildfire‘s infirmary a couple months ago?”
“Yes, I do, and I stand by it. The two of you fit together perfectly.“
“I have to remember never to doubt you. Your prediction has come to pass. She’s six weeks along.”
“It also seems that the news is traveling through scuttlebutt. I wanted to tell you before someone else does. There is one other thing.”
“What is that?“
“I proposed to Bridget after she told me – now we’ve got to plan for a wedding.”
“Whatever the two of you want to do is all right with me.”
“Hey, sweetie,” Patrick said as he entered his now shared quarters.
“Hi,” Bridget answered as she accepted or kiss from her mate. “I guess everyone knows now.”
“Yep,” Patrick answered. “Do you think you’re ready?”
“Not really, but I think I can manage. How about you?”
“For or long time, it seemed that I wouldn’t be able to find a mate,” Patrick answered as he moved over to a shelf and retrieved a small box. I know quite a few women as friends, and I can find a little bit of something about each of them in you. I guess what I’m saying is that you’re every woman to me. I was planning to pop the question at what I thought was the right time, but your announcement moved my plans up a little sooner than I expected. I did, however, have this for you.” Patrick opened the box to reveal a gold ring with a pearl in the center surrounded by two smaller diamonds.
“It’s beautiful.” Bridget commented as Patrick placed the ring on her finger
“I suppose that, like this ring, I’m wrapped around you.”
“I’d say that you’re drawing into your music library. I suppose we’re like islands in the stream.”
“That,” Patrick answered, “would make one hell of a duet.”
“I can’t get anything past you, can I?”
“No, but there is one other piece of business to take care of.”
“You wanted to see me, sir?” Dorian asked as she entered the ready room.
“I understand that you’ve been doing a good job in engineering.”
“Yes sir,” she answered. “The Baldwin‘s engineering team has made me feel welcome.”
“I also understand that your academic studies are complete.”
“How would you be interested in staying on?”
“Yes, sir. This is a great environment to work. I would love to continue here.”
“In that case, I shall officially inform you that your field duties for the academy are now fulfilled. I have been granted a request to keep you aboard. I’m sure you would like to participate in graduation activities, and I would encourage you to do so, but I think you’re ready to become a full-fledged member of our crew. I hereby grant you a Starfleet commission, and hereby request and require you to serve the alpha-shift engineering crew of USS Baldwin. Congratulations, Ensign Collins.”
“Thank you, sir,” Dorian replied as she shook his hand.
“We’ll be heading over to D.S. Nine tonight. Personally, I think we got a couple of things to celebrate. You’re more than welcome to join us at Quark’s tonight.”
“Hey, Quark,” Patrick said as he entered the bar with a group of Baldwin crew members. “You got a couple tables we can put together?”
“As long as you tip generously, I can arrange anything,” Quark replied as he motioned to a waiter. What can I get for you?”
“I’ll have a bacon cheeseburger and a root beer,” Patrick started.
“I think I’ll have a tossed salad, heavy on the cucumbers.”
“Cucumbers?” Patrick asked.
“You got a problem with that?” Bridget retorted. “I feel like having lots of vegetables.”
“Sounds to me,” Donna answered, “like your girl is suffering from cravings. She’s pregnant, all right.”
“How much are you charging for rent?” a Ferengi asked as he approached the table.
“Nog!” Dorian exclaimed, “it’s good to see you, sir.”
“You’re free to join us, Lieutenant,” Patrick added.
“I guess congratulations are in order for you.”
“We’re here because we’ve got plenty to celebrate.”
“Captain Ingrum is a good man. I seem to work well with him and his crew.”
“I also think,” Patrick added, “That my record as Captain of Baldwin speaks for itself.”
“I wouldn’t doubt it,” Nog replied. “I think I speak for myself and Jake when I say I’m glad you didn’t give up at the academy. I also am supportive if the captain here wants a family.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant,” Patrick replied. “Quark, could I also get a vegetable platter with lots of cucumbers. I’ve always loved them, and I’m not going to let Bridget’s cravings beat me.”