Captain’s Log, Stardate 54300, Ottawa is continuing to explore Cardassian territory. In addition, there have been numerous reports of piracy in our sector. So far, we have not encountered any traffic out of the ordinary.
Captain Jenna Carson sat on the bridge of her ship. Although it was built as a warship, Ottawa‘s advanced sensors are able to function more than adequately as explorer. Besides, Jenna thought, who knows what might turn up out here. “Susan, how are we doing?”
“We are moving through the Grecon system at half-impulse,” helmsman Susan Cassoday replied.
“Compiling sensor data now,” stated operations officer Sonya Fierher. “The primary star is G-type, with solar flare activity consistent with other habitable systems. The first two planets are small H-type plants, the next two are class M. I do see something interesting. The fourth planet has a high amount of magnetic interference,”
“Might be worth a closer look,” Jenna responded. “Fancy a overnight stop for R&R and research?” Seeing no one objecting, she turned to her first officer. “Bernie, the ship is yours. Try to keep her in one piece.”
“Understood,” Bernie replied.
Even on a warship like Ottawa, there are things that are as useful in peace as they are in war. One such item is the industrial replicator, which can create spare parts to keep the ship together, but can also fashion the proper materials for an overnight camp out. It was also located adjacent to the shuttlebay, so it’s simply ‘replicate and go.’ With supplies packed aboard her craft, she called for her away team. “Carson to Bridge: I’m ready down here. Susan, Sonya, I expect you down here in 10 minutes.”
“Understood,” came the reply from the bridge.
Captain’s Personal Log, Supplemental: Runabout Verdigris departing for an overnight survey mission. We are to collect soil samples and compile sensor information from the surface. In addition, I’m hoping to get a chance to have some time with old friends.
As Verdigris departed from her home base, Jenna sighed with relief. All this time, she thought, I never thought I’d have an opportunity like this. “So,” she said, turning to her companions for this mission, “are you two ready for some one-on-one time with an old friend?”
“I haven’t been this happy to have a camp-out since before the academy,” Sonya replied. The trio had grown up together in the same town, but despite having served on the same ship for three years, an opportunity for something like this had not come up, as Ottawa was either on a wartime or patrol footing.
“Most of the scans we need to take can be done automatically,” Susan noted. “We should have plenty of time for a pick-up game of hold ’em.”
“That sounds good,” Jenna replied as she prepared to land the runabout.
“Commander,” the reserve operations officer noted, “We’re receiving a general distress call from a Cardassian freighter. They are under attack.”
“Understood,” Bernie answered before contacting the runabout. “Verdigris, Ottawa; Verdigris, Ottawa.”
Down on the surface, the trio in the runabout were surprised to hear a call from the ship. “Ottawa, Verdigris, go ahead,” Jenna replied.
“Looks like the pirates have returned. We just picked up a general distress call from a freighter.”
“Acknowledged, Ottawa. We should be fine down here. We’ll see you when you get back.” As soon as Jenna finished with the call from her ship, she turned to her companions. “Looks like we’ve got the whole planet to ourselves.”
“Sounds good,” Susan replied as she set set up the sensor pods. After installing the sensor pod, she noticed a cloud formation. “Captain, it looks like there’s a storm coming.”
Jenna looked up and noticed the towering cloud that appeared to be coming toward them. “You’re right, that does look like a storm cloud. I’ll have Verdigris‘s sensors scan the atmosphere.”
“I’ll raise 100,” Soyna stated as she placed her chips on the table. The flop had already been dealt, resulting in a flush draw on the table of the Ace, 10, and Jack of spades.
“The dealer has nothing,” Jenna answered, discarding her cards to the center of the table.
“I will call,” responded Susan, placing her chips on the table.
“All right, here we go for the turn,” Jenna answered. She took the top card off and set it aside, then placed the next card next to the flop cards. “Well, what do you know, it’s the Queen of Spades.” Only one card, the King of Spades, is needed for the highest possible poker hand, the royal flush. With no pairs on the table, a four of a kind or full house were not possible. Any spade card beside the king would result in a flush hand, and the other three kings would result in a straight.
Susan made the first move, “I’ll bet 500.”
Sonya was not sure whether Susan was bluffing or not, but was curious none the less on what she had in her hand, so she placed an equivalent amount of chips in the center of the table.
With two players still in the game, Jenna proceeded to deal the fifth card, the ‘river.’ Again, she set aside the first card off of the top of the deck. Everyone was surprised to see the card that came up. It was the King of Spades. “It appears that the nuts are on the table,” Jenna stated since neither player could make a better hand with their own cards. “Looks like you two can shake hands and split this pot.” Before the crew could split the chips and shuffle the cards for the next hand, the lights in the cabin suddenly flickered. Jenna turned around to take a look at the atmospheric monitors. “Looks like we have a very strong cell heading our way, winds over 100 kph. All right, let’s bunker in.”
The driving rain and hail pounded the Verdigris as the runabout’s three passengers huddled up inside.
“Maybe we should have gotten together on the holodeck,” Sonya indicated.
“What, and miss all of the fun,” Jenna replied. They trio looked out the cockpit window to observe the driving rain. “This reminds me of when we were kids.”
“Are you talking about our camp out on Deneva,” Susan stated. “Just as soon as we headed out, the planet’s weather modification system failed.”
“Yeah, that’s how I remember,” Jenna stated. “It poured the whole time, but we had a lot of fun.”
“Judging by the looks of things outside,” Sonya noted, “we’ll have to reset all of the equipment.”
Before Jenna could respond, a gust knocked a piece of debris onto the runabout’s hull. Although Verdigris was built to take care of her occupants, the fierce wind meant the ship would take a pounding. Nature, on the other hand, had its own tricks. A brilliant flash of light shone through the windows accompanied by a the deafening roar of a shock wave. Soon, the lights and control panels inside the runabout had gone black. Protecting the crew inside came at a cost to the runabout. A lightning strike had surged the electrical systems.
“As soon as the storm passes,” Jenna noted with a sigh, “we’ll survey the damage.”
In the meantime, Susan decided to change the subject. “I understand that Nimitz is back on convoy duty.”
“Ugh, that must be a bore,” Sonya noted. Ottawa had drawn her share of convoy missions.
“Actually, the new freighters are fully automated, but they are meant to complement the escorts. The ships have no permanent crew, but they do have two holodecks and a rec room.”
“Hopefully, the remote control software is secure,” Jenna noted. Not too long ago, someone was able to hack into Ottawa and controlled the warship remotely.
“I’m sure our little run-in was taken into account,” Susan added as the thunder continued outside.
“It sounds like a perfect match up, all they need now is the Pullman porter to fix up the blankets on their train through the stars,” Jenna quipped.
Roslyn had just returned from her break to take her station as the duty officer on the bridge of the Hainan when the operations officer notified her of an unusual occurrence. “Commander, I’m picking up a bogey bearing 145 mark 5.”
“It might be a warbug. We’ve got pirates running in this area. Yellow alert, captain to the bridge. Helm, plot an intercept course and engage warp 8.”
“Report,” Captain Decatur indicated as he entered the bridge.
“We picked up a bogey, possibly pirates. I’ve already plotted an intercept course.”
“Tactical, open a channel.” The tactical officer pressed the appropriate part of his console to begin transmitting on hailing frequencies. “This is Captain Roger Decatur, USS Hainan, please identify yourselves.”
Although the unidentified vessel did not respond, the navigator had additional information. “We’re in visual range, captain.” Anticipating the captain’s next instructions, the navigator placed the vessel on the main viewer with sufficient magnification such that the bridge crew could clearly identify the type of vessel as a attack ship of Dominion design. The ships are simple to build, and some had been built or purchased by Alpha Quadrant parties, many of which had unscrupulous plans for their crafts. The rules of engagement had not changed in over a year: if a ‘bogey’, or unidentified craft, is picked up on sensors, and is visually noted as a ‘warbug’ type vessel, it is to be considered a ‘bandit’ – a hostile craft to be engaged immediately.
“Red Alert,” Roslyn cried.
“Target weapons and engines,” Decatur continued. “Open a channel again.”
The captain hoped that the warbug would stand down without having to engage in battle. Unfortunately, the bandit elected to show extreme hostile intent. “Shields are holding,” came the reply from the tactical officer.
“Attack pattern epsilon-three,” came the captain’s reply. Hainan made rapid strikes across the warbug’s aft section, pulling along side and downward slightly so that the phasers could hit the lower section. The attack concluded with a quantum torpedo striking the lower part of the aft hull. The strike did not make much of a dent in the warbug. The enemy vessel took out a quick series of hits against the primary phaser array, using brute force to overwhelm the shields.
“We’ve lost forward phasers,” came the report from tactical. “Apparently, this particular ship has had some work done to her.”
“What kind of work?” inquired Roslyn.
“The weak points on her aft section have been reinforced, plus she is equipped with ablative armor. She’s pulling away.”
“I believe Ottawa is out that way,” Captain Decatur replied. “Let them know they’ve got company.”
“Maintain pursuit course and keep us on red alert,” Decatur continued. “Commander,” he indicated to Roslyn, “I’ll take it from here. I believe your leadership would be appreciated in the engine room.”
“Aye, sir,” Roslyn answered.
During the brief battle with the Dominion designed vessel, the Hainan suffered damage to the phasers. As her lead engineer came down from the bridge, she needed to triage and coordinate the repair work before going into battle again. “Report,” Roslyn stated.
“Forward phaser banks are still down. One hit took down a dozen power cells.”
“Teams Alpha and Bravo, concentrate on replacing the power cells. Team Charlie, I need additional cells on the shield grid – if they have reinforced their hull, it’s a safe bet they’ve done some work to their weapons as well.”
“Understood,” the engineers replied.
As the engineering teams dispersed to take on their assignments, Roslyn tapped on her combadge to check with the captain. “Bridge, Engineering.”
“Go ahead, commander.“
“How long before we intercept that warbug.”
“45 minutes,” came the reply from the helm.
Roslyn’s crew had a reputation for working fast; however, 45 minutes was not a lot of time. “I can get the phasers back online in 30. I might not be able to get some extra shielding up, but we’ll have the shields ready for action by then.”
“Understood, get as much down as you can.“
“I will,” Roslyn finished.
“Ensign,” came Bernie’s call as he stood up in the middle of the bridge. “Let’s see what we’re up against.”
“Aye, sir.” replied the tactical officer.
The forward view showed three warbugs up against a Cardassian freighter. The freighter was not equipped with any torpedoes and had minimal phasers. Where in the hell is their escort, Bernie thought. Surely, this freighter wouldn’t be making a delivery out here without them, not with reports of pirates. “Red Alert,” came the order from the acting captain.
“Torpedoes ready, phasers are standing by.”
“Concentrate you firepower on the ship closest to those freighter.”
“Aye, sir,” the ensign replied.
Ottawa fired several shots with their phasers and followed up with a volley of quantum torpedoes. These shots successfully struck the enemy warbugs; however, they did not cause as much damage as intended. Reinforced armor, Bernie noted, that should make things more interesting.“Increase the yield on the QTs by 30 percent and phaser charge by 10. Let’s take another pass.”
“Aye, sir,” the flight controller responded. Ottawa swung around to cross the bow of the freighter, keeping it out of weapons sight for the enemy ships. With more energy drawn to the phasers, Ottawa scored additional hits on the enemy before following up with two torpedoes for the first ‘kill’ in this engagement.
Before Bernie could give the orders to target the next vessel, the tactical console beeped as the officer at the controls relayed the news: “Enemy fighters coming in fast. Looks like they’re out to swarm us.”
Looks to me, Bernie thought, like we have to be in two places at once. “Bridge to auxiliary control teams: Report to your auxiliary control stations. Prepare to engage the multi-vector assault mode.”
“Looks like most of the sensor equipment was toppled over,” Sonya commented, wiping dirt off of one of the sensor pods. “However, it appears to be operable.”
“I wish I could say the same for the runabout,” Susan chimed in. “The lightning strike took out the computer. We’ve got burnt-out circuits all over. It’s going nowhere – at least not on its own power.”
“Can we get enough power to let Ottawa know what’s going on?” Jenna asked.
“I can get the communications system online, and have enough data storage to finish our mission here.”
“So ordered,” Jenna answered. “How long before we can get in touch with Ottawa?”
“All stations reporting ready for separation,” came the announcement from the operations officer. “Flight controllers report ready at both auxiliary control stations.”
“Computer, initiate separation. Authorization: Tyler-gamma-4-3-5. All sections will be piloted.”
“Command confirmed. Auto-separation in 15 seconds,” came the response from the computer.
During the final countdown prior to separation, Bernie gave additional orders. “The saucer section will guard the Cardassian ship. Stardrive sections: your job is to keep those ships out there occupied.” The saucer was the first part of Ottawa to break away, picking up speed and moving around to intercept the cargo ship. Meanwhile, the two halves of the stardrive broke apart, with the top section moving toward port and the lower section moving starboard. Hopefully, Bernie thought, we should be able to fend these bandits off.
The tactical officer gave a brief overview of the ongoing battle. “Ottawa has separated. Her two stardrive sections are taking on bandits, while the saucer section is defending a Cardassian freighter. There appears to be at least ten Jem’Hadar fighers.”
Captain Decatur took a moment to digest the information before making a further inquiry. “Bridge to Engineering: Roslyn, how are we on weapons?”
“Phasers and torpedoes are online,” Roslyn answered. “I’ve increased the yield on the torpedoes to compensate for the reinforced hull on those bandits. Also, I’ve increased the output of the phasers by 15 percent.“
“Understood,” Decatur stated, finishing his call. It would probably be more effective, thought the captain, for this ship to relieve Ottawa‘s saucer and guard the ships. Alone or separated, Ottawa is better equipped to fight the enemy ships than we are. “Hail Ottawa, let them know we stand ready to relieve the saucer so that they can drive off the enemy swarm.”
“Commander,” indicated the helmsman, “Hainan is in visual range and is hailing us. They stand ready to guard the freighter.”
“Let them know that we stand relieved,” Bernie replied. “Once they’re in place, we’ll take our turn at the swarm.”
Jenna, Susan, and Sonya worked busily on restoring the communications system. Getting a call through to Ottawa was taking a little more effort than expected. “I found another blow-out,” Sonya noted.
“That’s the twelfth one,” Susan noted.
“Fortunately,” Jenna noted as she gave Susan a hyper-spanner, “it does not appear that we are in any imminent danger here. The storms have moved away, nor is there any signs of predators or any other hostile action.”
“Still,” Susan noted, “it seems like we keep running into obstacles in getting the com fixed.”
“Compared to what we’ve been through,” Sonya added, “this is a piece of cake.”
While repairs continued on the Verdigris, Jenna turned her blue eyes skyward. So far, she thought, this has been quite an adventure. Something tells me that Bernie might have run into a little skirmish out there. I’m sure he’ll manage. He’s been there since day one with me. Meanwhile, I’m out here with two of my lifelong friends, on a data-gathering mission gone awry with a storm-damaged runabout. I couldn’t be more content.
In the midst of Jenna’s contemplation, Susan lightly tapped her on the shoulder. “Jen, I think we’re ready to start gathering data.” Jenna followed Susan into the runabout. With Susan at one console and Jenna at another, both officers began interfacing directly with the sensors and loading that information into what was left of the runabout’s memory banks. “Hey, Jen, take a look at this,” Susan called as she monitored the sensor data.
Jen turned to see what Susan wanted to show her. She was surprised at the initial sensor reports. The preliminary sensor data showed several untapped mineral deposits. “Well, would you look at that!” Jenna exclaimed. “I think we found our source of the interference. I’m just curious why the Cardassians never tapped this duranium deposit.”
“Captain,” Sonya stated as she entered the room, “The communications system is as ready as it will ever be.”
“Understood,” Jenna replied. “Open a channel to Ottawa. If they’re not too busy, I have some interesting news.”
“Sir,” stated the tactical officer, “we have an incoming message – It’s Captain Carson.”
“On Screen,” Bernie answered
“When you get a chance,” Jenna began, “could you please come by and pick us up. Our runabout broke down in a storm.“
“You may have to hold tight a while,” Bernie answered, “These pirates are not backing down.”
“At least 15 ships with beefed-up hulls. I’ve engaged the multi-vector, and Hainan is guarding the two cargo ships.”
“Understood, I’ll let you handle those fighters. Carson out.“
Jenna’s face quickly disappeared from the screen, returning to the saucer section’s current target: a Jem’Hadar fighter-type vessel. “Status on the bandit,” instructed Bernie.
“Their shields are down to 40%. We haven’t been able to take out weapons or engines,” came the report from the Tactical officer until the console alerting the bridge crew to breaking information. “The ship has veered hard and is making a direct run at Hainan.”
The warbug that had been pursued by Ottawa‘s saucer section made a dive toward the Hainan. Without regard for either their own lives or those aboard the Starfleet ship, the ‘bandit’ struck at full impulse, giving the shields little time to react. The bridge was crushed instantly, and most of the forward structure was sheared off.
The engine room was spared the direct impact, though with the ship physically torn in half, there was very little the local miracle worker could do to save the ship. All she could do now was make sure that as many people aboard got to safety as possible. “Attention,” Roslyn stated over the com in a firm but calm tone, “This is the chief engineer. We have taken a direct impact. Destruction of the ship is imminent. Please proceed as quickly as possible to the nearest escape pod or shuttlebay. Leave everything behind. Abandon ship, this is not a drill. Please proceed as quickly as possible to the nearest escape pod or shuttlebay.”
“Commander,” came a response from one of the engineering hands, “we’re receiving a call from Ottawa.”
Roslyn tapped a button to answer the call. “Hainan, Ottawa. Emergency transport is standing by. Sickbay is on alert and ready to receive casualties.“
As escape pods emerged from the Hainan‘s aft section, Ottawa‘s saucer glided in above the wreckage. Upon seeing the arrival of another ship, the pilots of the pods gravitated toward it. Even Roslyn couldn’t help but smile. “Thanks, Ottawa. Hainan out.”
“Reports from the stardrive sections,” indicated Ottawa‘s tactical officer. “They’ve managed to take out half the ships. The bandit’s are retreating, repeat, bandits are retreating.”
“Drop shields, but otherwise maintain red alert. We’ll still have to take care of casualties from Hainan, not to mention the fact that we still need to get back over to the Grecon system and pick up the captain.”
“Runabout Marmaton disembarking from Hainan‘s shuttlebay.”
“Ottawa, Marmaton,” came the call from the runabout. “I’ve got most of my engineering crew aboard the runabout. There may be a few stragglers.”
“Understood, Roslyn,” Bernie answered. “Transporter room, bridge. Beam the remaining Hainan survivors directly to sickbay.”
Bernie entered the sickbay to check on an old friend. “How’s your crew?” he asked Roslyn.
“We’re a bit shaken. I was surprised that the bandit made a kamikaze run. Based on what I can tell, out of 435 aboard, 256 made it. Most of those we lost were on duty in the forward sections; we got everyone we could off.”
If everyone we can save is aboard, Bernie thought, perhaps it’s time to scuttle Hainan before it becomes a danger to the other ships. He tapped on his combadge to activate the intercom. “Bridge, this is Commander Tyler. Have the cargo ship back out a safe distance from Hainan. Prepare photon torpedos for launch as soon as the ship is clear.”
“Understood,” came the reply from the bridge officer.
“Mind if I join you?” Roslyn inquired.
“Sure,” Bernie replied.
For the past two years, duty and distance had kept Bernie and Roslyn apart. Circumstances had suddenly brought them together again. As she watched her old flame enter sickbay, she noticed that his eyes were older, strained by the Dominon War; yet, there was a spark in his eyes, something that told Roslyn that he still loved her.
Bernie and Roslyn entered the turbolift silently, with only Bernie’s instruction to the turbolift breaking the silence. This is my opportunity, Roslyn thought, time to make use of it. “How have you been?” she asked him innocently.
“Fairly well, I guess,” Bernie replied. He recognized the tone is Roslyn’s questioning, even after they had broken up.
“Are you seeing anyone?”
“Halt turbolift,” he ordered. “You know, in all this time since our paths diverged, I’ve been too busy with work to even think about dating. You?”
“I’m in the same boat,” Roslyn admitted. “Plus, I have to admit, ever since Bridget and Patrick hooked up, I’ve been thinking about whether our separation was a mistake.”
“Maybe we could do something together after this is all over. We could both use a little leave, and I’m sure your brother-in-law would be more than happy to loan the Ingrum Compound to us.”
“It would certainly be better than the last time we were together on Aloran IV,” Roslyn answered. “Resume turbolift. In the meantime, I’d be willing to take Marmaton and go pick Jenna up while Ottawa escorts that freighter. I’d bet those bandits won’t give up so easily.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Bernie replied as the turbolift opened. “Status,” he stated as he turned to the on-deck officer.
“The Cardassian freighter has cleared out to a safe distance from Hainan.”
“Mind if I give the order?” Roslyn whispered to Bernie.
“Go right ahead.”
“Target two photon torpedoes at Hainan.”
“Aye, sir,” the tactical officer replied as the bridge officers stood in attention in respect for the doomed ship.
The two torpedoes streaked in their red glare has they moved toward the target. Already abandoned and crippled, Hainan was no match for the torpedoes as they struck the damaged hull and exploded.
After the officers on the bridge returned to their duties, Bernie gave his next set of orders. “Inform the Cardassians that we will be escorting them. Shuttlebay, prepare runabout Marmaton for launch.”
“Aye, sir.” came the reply from the bridge crew.
Captain’s Log, Stardate 54302.2: Runabout Verdigris remains stranded on Grecon IV awaiting pickup by Ottawa. Meanwhile, I have been drafting a report on the mineral deposits on this planet.
“It appears,” Jenna noted on her map of preliminary sensor data, “that there are several veins of duranium suitable for use in ship construction.”
“I’m no geologist,” Sonya noted, “but I agree. The question is, who should have mining rights.”
“Personally, I think they should go to the Cardassians,” Jenna answered. “We are technically in their territory. Needless to say, they could use the revenue.”
“I’m still shocked that the Cardassians haven’t mined it already.” Susan stated. “Why would they ignore a perfectly good duranium deposit?”
“Something tells me,” Jenna continued, “that we may also need our crack stellar cartographer out her to answer that question.”
“Ottawa was far from strained getting out here,” Susan commented. “Maybe the warp currents have recently changed to allow traffic through in the Grecon system to quickly access other ports in Cardassian territory.”
The beeps emitting from the runabout’s cockpit interrupted their conversation: sensors had detected a ship coming in. Susan rushed to the console to check the scanners. “Incoming vessel, it’s another runabout,” she reported
“Identify the runabout and open a channel,” Jenna ordered.
“Identity confirmed as the Marmaton. They’re hailing us.”
“Let’s see it,” Jenna answered.
Roslyn’s face appeared on the screen. “Sorry for the delay, We needed to prep the Marmaton for towing. I hear that your runabout is down.”
“You could say that. Where’s Ottawa?”
“She’s protecting the cargo ship. I’ll fill you in as soon as Verdigris is ready for towing.”
“I’m sorry to hear about the loss of Hainan,” Jenna stated after Roslyn debriefed her about recent events. “Captain Decatur was a fine man.”
“I have to wonder,” Susan continued, “Who would be so bold as to make a kamikaze run at one of our ships.”
“I don’t know,” Jenna answered. “Roz, do you know what what that ship is carrying.”
“Mostly duranium and deuterium, according to Bernie,” Roslyn replied. “No high value cargo.”
“Sounds more like a brute force terrorist attack than a raid,” Susan noted. “Clearly, their objective wasn’t to raid cargo, but to force us to expend more capital rebuilding the Cardassian economy.”
“That does sound plausible,” Roslyn said. “Also, the warbugs were equipped with more powerful armor and weapons.”
“It sounds like,” Jenna declared, “what we found on Grecon IV would be worth exploring as soon as possible. An untapped deposit of duranium in Cardassian territory would help strengthen our supply lines and get the Cardassians back on their feet.”
“I have to agree,” Roslyn answered before changing the subject. “Jen, how would you feel if I borrowed your XO for a while?”
Jenna froze for a moment before answering. She knew about Roslyn’s previous relationship with Bernie and understood what Roslyn was inquiring. “I’m sure I could spare him for a while and make sure you get some leave as well. Where are you planning to go?”
“I’m thinking a couple of nights at the Ingrum Compound on Aloran IV could put that spark back into our relationship.”
“Be careful what you wish for,” Jenna remarked. “Remember what happened to your sister.”
Roslyn knew what she was talking about. “I could think of a lot worse,” she quipped as the occupants of Marmaton‘s cabin cracked a smile.
Captain’s Log, Stardate 54304.5: After returning to Ottawa and having a chance to sleep on it, we are reviewing recent events.
Jenna, Bernie, Roslyn, Sonya, and Susan gathered around the center table in the conference lounge, with the captain at the head of the table. “Based on what we know, it appears we have an organized effort to thwart recovery efforts in this sector. They have appropriated warbugs and beefed up their weapons, shields, and armor.”
“Not to mention,” Roslyn noted, “that they are not above resorting to Jem’Hadar tactics. They appear to be coming out of the Timor system.”
“Isn’t that where the organization that stole the Abilene is based?” Bernie inquired.
“I believe you’re right,” Jenna answered. “Most of Starfleet’s resources have been spent purging the contaminated program from the systems; we haven’t had much of a chance to run full intelligence on this group.”
“After that last incident,” Roslyn noted, “I’m sure they’ve gone deep into hiding.”
“I think it’s time we keep an eye on some of those outlining systems,” Jenna commented. “Meanwhile, it appears to me that we hit an opportunity at Grecon IV. Preliminary data from our survey indicates that there are several major deposits of duranium that could be readily mined.”
“It also would make the system a potential hotbed of seedy activity,” Bernie quipped.
“That may be so,” Jenna answered. “Since we found this deposit in Cardassian space, I’d say that they should have control over it, even if it means they need a little help from Starfleet to stake their claim.” The team nodded in agreement. “Anything else?” With no answer to her inquiry, she ended the meeting promptly. “All right then, you’re free to go.”
Before Bernie and Roslyn could leave, the captain took them aside. “Hang on, you two. Could I have a minute?”
“Sure,” Bernie noted.
“I think I can handle things here without you for a little while. If the two of you want to spend some time together, this is your opportunity.”
“I think we’ll take you up on that. We stand relieved.”
For the first time in a couple of days, Jenna stood watch on Ottawa‘s bridge. I wish I had more time to survey Grecon IV, she thought as she received a alarm from the tactical console.
“We’ve got company,” announced the tactical officer. “Ten warbugs, bearing 140 mark 5.
“Here comes the second wave,” Susan remarked.
“Red alert. All hands, battle stations.”
Bernie and Roslyn were taking a leisurely stroll through the lower decks when the klaxons sounded. “Just what we need,” Bernie noted sarcastically. “As long as we’re still on this ship, we better hop to the bridge.”
“I agree,” Roslyn noted as they quickly made their way toward the nearest turbolift.
“Shields are up at maximum,” came the call from the tactical officer. “Phasers are charged, torpedoes ready to launch.”
“Target weapons and engines,” Jenna ordered. “Let’s keep at least one of these warbugs intact.” Ottawa laid down a barrage of phaser fire at the incoming vessels, striking the opposing forces along the round underside part of their hulls. The warbugs retaliated with polaron beams targeted at Ottawa’s front torpedo launchers.
“Shields and armor holding,” announced the tactical officer. “However, they appear to be going after a weak spot they picked off yesterday.”
“Susan,” the captain said to her best friend. “think you can compensate.”
“Not a problem,” Susan replied. Ottawa veered down to place the weak spot out of weapons view of the warbugs but still showed some teeth as she the phasers glowed from the arrays atop the saucer. The warbugs responded by diving around to concentrate on Ottawa‘s weak point.
Bernie and Roslyn were in a turbocar when the lights gave out and the car slowed to a dead stop. “Just like old times,” Roslyn noted. “So, what was it that attracted you to me in the first place.”
“I’d say your infectious personality, great sense of humor, and your lovely figure.”
“You men are all the same,” Roslyn replied. “At least you put personality and humor above looks.”
“Still,” Bernie said as he nudge up against his old flame, “looks certainly can’t hurt, and they certainly drew me in. I still remember this shy young ensign aboard the Tien An Men.”
“You approached me in the mess hall and asked if you could join me for my meal.”
“I got you talking when we traded academy stories.”
“Soon after that, I was spending most of my free time with you.”
“And you hooked me with your personality.”
Ottawa continued to maintain fire on the bandits, making strikes on several vessels in a row. The enemy ships started to back away, with the stronger ships continuing. “Power loss on decks 6 through 10,” reported Sonya.
“Shields are at 75 percent,” followed the tactical officer.
“What about the bandits.”
“They appear to be waving in with their stronger ships.”
“Sounds like they are trying to spread the damage,” Jenna noted before giving her next order. “Let’s take the offensive and target the reserves.”
Ottawa drove through the attacking ships, giving fire to them. The advancing ships did not put up much of a blockade, although they continued to fire on the Starfleet ship.
“Target the weakest ship’s engines and weapons,” Jenna instructed. “Needless to say, I want that ship intact.”
“Target bandit’s shields at 34 percent.”
“The other ships are continuing their advance on us.”
Ottawa‘s phasers made several strikes on the target fighter, as well as returning fire from the other ships. As soon as Ottawa reached her target, she peeled right and made a second pass, shooting at the remaining swarm. On completion of the second pass, the fighter’s lights went dark.
Upon seeing their target was disabled, Jenna implemented the next step in her plan. “Tractor her and extend our shields. Prepare a boarding party, and make sure they don’t engage their self-destruct system.”
“Personally,” Roslyn commented, “I think there’s plenty of pirates, terrorists, and general ner-do-wells who would like nothing better to take a piece of the Federation.”
“I think its a little overrated, but we are stretched a bit thin,” Bernie commented. “Rebuilding our fleet will continue to be a challenge.” He was a bit tired of talking politics, so he decided to change the subject.”So, have you talked with your father lately?”
“I have. He’s noticed the flurry of piracy out in these parts, and is convincing Khan to lay low.”
“Phony war tactics,” Bernie noted before making a sarcastic follow-up. “Just what we need.”
“Khan’s not admitting it to Murrow, but he thinks Khan is making a little latinum on the side.”
“You mean, he’s selling his ships?”
“How ’bout your other sisters?”
“Not a word.”
“Have you ever thought of looking for them. Maybe they don’t know that you’d like to see them.”
“Bridget and I thought about it, but both of us have other priorities in mind.”
“I know Bridget has her husband and daughter. What about you?”
“I had my place on the Hainan.”
“For now, I don’t know where I’d much rather be than right here.” Roslyn moved closer to her old flame and placed her head on his shoulder.
“The away team is aboard the vessel, and has captured its crew. They’re ready to transport the prisoners into our brig.”
“We may not get that much information, but any little bit will do. Transport the crew directly to the secured area.” Now that we have a ship and crew to comb over, Jenna noted, the next step is to deliver both to a starbase. I know exactly who to send with this warbug. “Computer, locate Commander Tyler.”
“Commander Tyler is in turbolift two, currently stopped on deck 6.”
“We’re still working on the power loss on that deck,” Sonya noted to the Captain. “It will be about 15 minutes before power is restored.”
“Understood,” Jenna replied as she stepped down between the flight control and operations panels. “I bet 5 slips,” Jenna whispered to Sonya and Susan, “that Roslyn is in that turbocar as well.”
“That’s too easy,” Sonya answered. “Seven slips that they will be snogging each other when that lift opens on the bridge.”
“Deal,” Jenna answered.
Within the quarter-hour, the sound of the turbolift doors opening greeted the bridge. Jenna entered the turbolift and tapped on Bernie’s shoulder. “I hate to interrupt,” she stated, “however, you just cost me seven strips of latinum.”
“Sorry, captain,” Bernie answered. “It won’t happen again.”
“I have an assignment for the two of you,” Jenna continued. “While you two were making out in the turbolift, we managed to capture a warbug. I’d like you and Roslyn to escort it to Starbase 375 . I do believe that Verdigris is still under repair, so I’d suggest taking Marmaton.”
“Aye, captain,” Bernie and Roslyn replied.
“Ottawa will escort the Cardassians to their destination, we’ll catch up with you at the starbase. There will likely be a hearing regarding Hainan, so I’d get a hold of Sara. After the hearing is over, I think you two need some time to yourselves. I’ll see you around.” Jenna promptly backed out of the turbolift and pressed a button to close the doors.
“I take it Commander Tyler is going to be away for a while,” Sonya commented while Jenna returned to the center seat.
“I still have the two of you to keep me on my toes,” Jenna replied with a smile. “As soon as Marmaton launches, set course for Pelosa III, warp 5.”
“Understood,” Susan answered. “Pelosa III, warp 5.”
“Marmaton has launched,” Sonya reported. “They’re taking the captured warbug under tractor.”