“We’ve got plasma leaks to our starboard.”
“We’ve also got a hull breach on the bridge.”
“What’s the status of the com system.”
“Off-line. We’ve got some internal sensors, the main deflector, and that’s about it.”
“Fix the plasma leak first and try to get warp engines back online. I don’t want to be stranded out here. And unless anyone made it off the bridge, it looks like I’m in charge. Report all updates to me until further notice.”
“We’re emerging from the time conduit,” Kim said.
“Thank you, Kim,” Reinette replied.
“Commander,” Kristy interrupted, “I’m detecting a vessel dead ahead. It appears to be dead in space.”
“Let Patrick know about this,” Reinette replied. “Kristy, can you identify the ship”
“It is USS Nimitz. She’s taken a lot of damage. I can’t hail them.”
“Reinette,” Patrick said as he left the ready room, “prep an engineering away team. Bridget and I will lead,”
“Understood,” Reinette replied
A few minutes later, a small away team had arrived in the transporter room. “Okay, this is a Defiant-class ship. She’s small and powerful, and she has a few tricks that I’m sure this one doesn’t. Is everyone ready!”
“Yes, sir!” The engineering team shouted.
When the away team boarded, Nimitz was dark, even for a ship of her class. Sparks flew everywhere. Nimitz‘s senior officer greeted the away team. “Hello, I’m Lieutenant Andrea Riffin”
“I’m Captain Patrick Ingrum, USS Baldwin. What seems to be the problem here?”
“We’re venting plasma heavily. Our warp drive is shot.”
“I think we could figure that out looking out our windows. We brought the necessary equipment to fix the plasma leaks.”
“Thank you, captain,” Lieutenant Riffin replied.
Patrick monitored the Nimitz’s crew as they proceeded to make repairs on the warp drive. “Hey,” Patrick said as he approached one of the engineers.
“Hey Patrick — or should i say ‘sir’.”
“For you Katy, Patrick is fine,” he replied. “How have you been,”
“Our last foray got us in a major ambush. I think most of the other ships in our fleet were either destroyed or managed to retreat,” Katy replied. “I suppose we should be lucky that we’re still intact.”
“We’ve been on a few excursions against the Dominion as well. We just caught them trying to disrupt a 20th-century football game.”
“How did you do?” Katy asked as she motioned for a tool.
“We shut them out,” Patrick replied as he handed her the tool.
“Hey, what’s going on,” another young woman approached Patrick and Katy.
“Not much Lindsay,” Katy replied.
“I need some help with this plasma injector.”
“I’ll go,” Patrick answered.
“Thank you, sir. Just curious, are you Captain Patrick Ingrum of the USS Baldwin.”
“That’s right, miss — “
“Lindsay Curtis. A lot of us have read about you in the news. You seem to like being someone out in the field.”
“You could say that. I used to be an amateur photographer. I never liked studio shots. I preferred the field. It’s probably why I joined Starfleet. As for this injector, this piece right here is fried. We brought some extras over. Bridget, where are the parts for this manifold?”
“Ouch, I can see your point,” Bridget responded, looking at the broken piece and pulling a replacement out of her bag, “This ought to do the trick.”
“How long until the comm systems are operational,” Andrea said.
“We have them working.”
“Open a Channel to Baldwin,” Patrick replied.
“Nimitz, Baldwin,” Reinette replied on the other end. “How is she going, Captain.”
“We should have warp power operational shortly. She took some big hits, but she’s tough.”
“I hate to interrupt,” Jaimie added, “But we may find out just how tough that ship can be. We’re going to have company shortly — and they don’t appear very friendly.”
“Understood. Red Alert. Andrea, how are the defense systems on this ship.”
“We’re down to half our standard complement of quantum torpedoes, and we’re working on the damaged parts of the phaser array as we speak.”
“I see we’ve still got a bit of work,” Patrick noted when he saw the full damage inventory. “Bridget, Katy: we need you up in the forward phaser array.”
“Understood, sir.” the pair responded.
“Miss Curtis, could you please help them?”
“Yes, sir.” Lindsay responded.
Minutes later, the moment of truth arrived. “Three Dominion battle cruisers off the port bow. How are we doing on the phaser array.”
“She’s ready, captain,” Katy replied.
“All right. Andrea, take it from here please.”
“Raise shields,” Andrea said. “Power the phasers and quantum torpedoes. Katy, take the tactical station and ready phasers.”
“Yes, sir,” Katy responded. “Phasers are at 75%.”
“Coming from a ship like this, that should be enough,” Patrick replied. “Katy, how long until they’re in weapons range.”
“The Jem’Hadar will be in range in thirty seconds,” Katy replied.
“Lock a target,” Andrea said.
“Fire!” Andrea exclaimed.
Baldwin and Nimitz together blazed out all the firepower they could muster against the Dominion battlecruisers. “Two ships down,” Katy commented.
“One to go,” Patrick replied.
“Katy, prepare Quantum torpedoes.”
“Torpedoes ready,” Katy replied.
“Fire!” Andrea responded.
The blinding lights of a pair of Quantum torpedoes light up the dark vacuum of space. They scored a direct hit on the last battlecruiser.
Captain’s Log, Stardate 51727.1: We are proceeding to Starbase 375 for repairs to the Baldwin and the Nimitz. I’ve been keeping an eye on Lieutenant Riffin. She has a very good ability to take charge, and could possibly be an excellent person for command of the Nimitz — with a little help.
“Basically, Reinette, it’s down to this: When it’s absolutely time to step up, not everyone answers the call. Not only does Andrea Riffin have the capability to stand up and take command, but she has a crew that accepts her leadership.”
“Kinda like you and Baldwin, or Jenna and Ottawa.”
“Yeah, but in those cases, we had the semi-luxury of hand-picking our crew. Andrea has a crew that she can work with essentially picked out for her.”
“You’re right, Patrick. If you think she has the capability of taking command, you should recommend her to Starfleet.”
“I will. One more thing, Reinette — I’m going to reserve holodeck for the Nimitz Crew.”
“I’ll make a note of that,” Reinette replied.
Captain’s Log, Stardate 51744.2: We have arrived at Starbase 375. The Nimitz is in for some minor repairs. Meanwhile, Admiral Ross has approved my recommendation regarding the young lady who took charge when things went awry.
“Katy, have you seen Andrea recently?”
“Last time I checked, she was taking up some holodeck time.”
“One more thing — ” Katy said, “I think Andrea is capable of taking charge, and would recommend her for the first officer’s position.”
“I’ll take that into consideration, lieutenant,” Patrick replied. In reality, Patrick felt reaffirmed about his recommendation to Admiral Ross.
“Computer,” Patrick said, “what program is being run.”
“Aquatic program 2-5-7 is currently running in holodeck 3.” Open pool simulation, Patrick thought as he opened the door to the holodeck. A small indoor earth swimming pool was recreated by the computer. The young lady Patrick was looking for was in the water wearing a plain green bathing suit.
“If there’s one thing in my that’s missing,” Patrick began to sing, “It’s the time that I spend alone, sailing on the cool and bright clear water.”
“What song is that?” Andrea responded.
“An old 20th Century earth song — ‘Cool Change’ by the Little River Band, 1979, to be exact.”
“So, what’s so important that you had to interrupt my recreational time.”
“Well, I’ve got some good news,” Patrick replied, “You’re being offered command of the Nimitz.”
“Really?” Andrea queried.
“Yes. In fact, I recommended you myself. You’ll be given the rank of commander and officially will be under my direct command.”
“So, you’ll officially be the captain of the Baldwin and the Nimitz?”
“Absolutely not! In fact, there are a few CO’s around that don’t have the rank of Captain — nevertheless, they are still referred to as ‘Captain’. Besides, I plan to hold a loose leach. Congrats, Andrea.”
“To Commander Andrea Riffin, Stardate 51746.6: You are hereby requested and required to take command of the USS Nimitz as of this date. Signed Admiral William Ross, Starfleet command. Computer, recognize this order and assign command to Commander Riffin, authorization Ingrum-5-6-alpha-papa.”
“Confirmed. USS Nimitz now under command of Commander Andrea Riffin,”
“That takes care of the semantics. Andrea, can you stop by my ready room later tonight, say around 1800 hours.”
“All right,” the new commanding officer replied.
“All right, Patrick, I’m here as you asked. What’s going on?”
“Andrea, I’d like for you to meet someone whom I would consider to be well-known around starfleet — a legend in his own right. Andrea, this is Captain Jean-Luc Picard.
“Commander, I must congratulate you. Very few in Starfleet have been given a command at such a young age.”
“I must add,” Patrick noted, “That all of us in this room are in that group.”
“I was offered the Stargazer,” Picard noted, “under similar circumstances. Part of the reason that I was offered her, I believe, was that my leadership abilities were very prevalent to my superiors. In fact, my CO, I heard, had recommended me for a first officer’s position just before he lost his life.”
“In a very eerie circumstance, I was also recommended for a command in a similar manner,” Patrick continued.
“When I took command of the Stargazer,” Picard added, “I didn’t have peers in command. You, Miss Riffin, are lucky to have peers like these two to help you out.”
“He’s right, Andrea,” Patrick continued, “If you ever need help, don’t hesitate to contact me — or Jenna here — for help.”
“Thanks, Patrick,” Andrea replied.
The four captains discussed current matters in Starfleet for an hour before Reinette interrupted: “I apologize for this interruption, but I have a Priority One Message from Admiral Ross.”
“Put him through,” Patrick replied.
“What’s going on, Admiral?” Patrick asked as Ross’s image appeared on the screen.
“I would like for the 5th Fleet captains to report to Starbase 375 ASAP. Starfleet Command would like to hear from the field on how we should respond to the invasion of Betazed.”
“I’m sure we could be of some assistance on that. I’m on my way. Baldwin out.” Patrick turned his attention back to his guest. “Captain Picard, it’s been a pleasure to have you aboard, but you know how duty calls. Jenna, Andrea, the Admiral’s order applies to you as well.. Reinette, as soon as our company has departed, set course for Starbase 371, warp 9.”
As soon as the commanding officers of the Fifth Fleet ships gathered in one of the starbase’s many conference rooms, Admiral Ross began the meeting. “As many of you know, the Dominion has captured Betazed. I’ve called you here because we would like some input for a counterplan.”
“Admiral,” Patrick said, “I’d like to see the lasted intelligence reports.”
“Of course,” Ross replied as a chart appeared on the screen. “This is the report from the Starfleet intelligence monitoring stations as of Stardate 51733.”
“Looks like they intend on holding position at Betazed for now,” Captain DeSoto noted. “We cannot attempt to reclaim her without weakening protection for other systems in the area.”
“I would suspect,” Captain Traficant added, “that’s exactly what the Dominion is waiting for.”
“I have to agree with Jim,” Patrick replied, “an attempt to retake Betazed right now would put a hole big enough to allow a Dominion armada to invade another key Federation world. Perhaps we could pin them inside — put a small patrol along the shipping lanes to and from Betazed.”
“That’s is a good idea, Mr. Ingrum,” Ross replied. “However, I have to ask, how many ships would be enough for a patrol.”
“The way I see it,” Patrick continued, “If we absolutely need reinforcements, we could get them on their way before we need to engage. I’d say we could set a wing with four ships.”
“Would you be willing to perform the patrol.”
“Yes, sir, I would.”
“Then your orders are to set up your wing and start your patrol.”
“Aye, Sir,” Patrick replied.
Captain’s log, USS Nimitz, Stardate 51762.1: The Nimitz, Baldwin, Ottawa, and Hood are patrolling the shipping lanes near Betazed. It’s been roughly five days. No Dominion ships have been sighted. I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse.
Captain Ingrum has been studying the intelligence reports every morning. Our patrol takes us close to where there are possible places for the Dominion to break through — and Intelligence reports that there may be Dominion ships nearby.
“How’s your first week of command?”
“It’s going all right,” Andrea replied. “I’ve heard that sometimes when a new captain takes over a ship with most of her crew intact, the new captain occasionally receives a little resentment. I’m a little surprised that hasn’t happened “
“I know what you’re talking about,” Patrick stated. “I noticed that when you took charge, the crew accepted your leadership. In fact, Katy thought you would be good in command — she had you picked out as a first officer, though.”
“She told me that,” Andrea responded, “I thought, what the heck — she was the next one behind me, I put her in that first officer’s chair.”
“I hate to interrupt,” Lindsay said, “but we’ve got company”
“Lindsay, Put me through to Baldwin“
“Reinette, are you reading hostiles heading our way?”
“Confirmed, we’re reading 20 enemy fighters.”
“Red alert. I’ll be there in a minute. Andrea, looks like you’re doing all right so far, I’d better get back to my ship.”
“Patrick has successfully been beamed back to the Baldwin,” Lindsay Noted.
“Understood,” Andrea replied, “Red Alert, all hands report to battle stations.”
“We’ve got a hostile bearing 301 mark 15.”
“Let’s take it out, Lindsay.”
“Target Acquired. We got it.”
“We could use some help down here,” Patrick stated over the communications channel.
“Betsy, let’s cover the Baldwin.”
“I’m on it,”
The Nimitz moved in on three Jem’Hadar fighters. “Target the lead ship. Fire at will, but try to avoid the Baldwin,” Andrea stated. Phaser fire lit the sky as the small but tough ship eliminated an enemy ship — but not before they laid enough firepower on the Baldwin. “Damage report.”
“Some minor scratches here, but the Baldwin has lost her weapons array and her communications. She’s a sitting duck.”
“Nimitz to Hood: Captain Trafficant, can you cover the Baldwin?”
“I can do that”
“Ottawa: I have an Idea on how to handle that last swarm.”
“Make it quick,” Jenna responded. Andrea quickly described the manuver she wanted to try. “I’m game to try it. Ellen, charge toward the remaing ships, three-quarter impulse.”
“I’m on it.”
“Now, prepare to separate. Pattern: saucer bearing 0 mark 40; top aft: 305 mark 5; bottom: 55 mark 295. Drop to one-half impulse and fire at will on any enemy ships.”
As the Ottawa began to separate, Andrea took the cue: “Betsy, ahead full impulse.”
As the pieces of the Ottawa spread out, the Nimitz shot through the hole. All four pieces fired at any ship left.
“All enemy vessels have been taken care of.”
“Stand down red alert. Let’s get the Baldwin back up and running.”