“Sir,” the subordinate stated, “We have not been able to regain contact with the captured Starfleet vessel.”
“Have we been able to capture any more vessels?”
“No, sir. It appears that Starfleet has come up with an effective countermeasure to the pathogen we planted in the Federation network.”
“What was the last known position of our capture?” the supervisor inquired.
“She was at half-impulse near Aloran IV engaged in combat with another vessel.”
“How come I wasn’t told of this previously?”
“I don’t know sir. The bandit has been identified as USS Ottawa, Captain Jenna Carson commanding. We have no idea what Ottawa was doing in the Aloran system.”
“I suggest that you find out quickly?”
“Yes, sir!” the subordinate exclaimed.
“This bed is kind of small,” Bridget commented to her husband.
“It took you a week and a half to complain about the sleeping accommodations?” Patrick fired back.
“I’m not complaining, I like having you close to me like this.”
“That’s how we started a family,” Patrick answered as sounds from the bassinet alerted the couple that their daughter was awake. “Speaking of which,” Patrick continued, “Tiana is right on cue.” Patrick moved over to the bassinet to pick up his 2-month old girl. “Hello there,” Patrick said to his daughter. “You’re a good little girl, though I think you’re looking either to be fed, or have your diaper changed.” Patrick examined the diaper while observing the facial expression of her little girl. “Mom, this one is yours.”
Bridget outstretched her arms to receive the baby. “Come here, Tiana. Something tells me you’re hungry.” As Bridget nursed her little one, she continued to talk to Patrick. “You know, Sonara has been telling me about how Ensign Collins has been doing an exemplary job in the engine room.”
“It seems she’s become more confident in herself. She’ll probably make a good chief engineer someday. I’ll have to ask her if she’s ready to take on a little more responsibility.”
“That’s something you should be familiar with,” Bridget wittingly replied as she handed Tiana back to her father.
“There’s some responsibilities that I gladly accept,” Patrick answered as he began burping his baby girl.
Personal log, Commander Jaimie Petrelli, Stardate 54150: We are returning to Starbase 42 after spending the past week on Earth. Ensign Collins has shown a great deal of maturity in the past few months, and I was happy to accompany her to her graduation ceremony.
“I swear, my parents honestly thought that you would be their age. How long have you been Baldwin‘s XO?”
“Almost two years,” Jaimie replied. “I was Baldwin‘s tactical officer for a nearly two years before that.”
“Still, I have to admit, I’m looking forward to returning to Baldwin. I know there’s quite a bit of rewiring work left to do.”
“I seem to remember a young homesick cadet who had her teacher looking out for her.”
“Don’t remind me,” Dorian answered. Before Jaimie could answer, the console beeped. “Commander, we have a distress call from the Abilene. She’s having trouble with her systems, we’re the closest vessel.”
“Let’s check it out. Open a channel.”
“Abilene, this is the runabout Ninnescah. We have received your distress call and are moving in to render assistance.”
“Ninnescah, our warp core shut down unexpectedly and we are unable to to get it restarted.”
“We’re on our way,” Jaimie replied. “Ninnescah out.”
“Commander,” Dorian noted, “Even with the uprated engine on board, Ninnescah won’t be able to tow a starship much past warp 2. It’s gonna be a long ride home.”
“So noted,” Jaimie replied.
An alarm blared as the Ingrum family was having breakfast. “I thought you had shut that damn proximity alarm off.”
“I tried. Apparently, it doesn’t want to go on to ‘quiet’ mode,” Patrick answered. “Although it doesn’t seem to bother the little one.”
“Is it friend or foe?” Bridget inquired.
“It is a friend,” Patrick answered. “It’s Nimitz.” Patrick proceeded to hail the ship.
“Hey, Patrick,” Andrea answered.
“I understand it’s your turn for having a birthday.”
“Guilty as charged,” Andrea responded.
“I’m surprised they haven’t started court martial proceedings into the initial loss of the ship.”
“According to Sara, Starfleet suspects that the computer virus was an ‘inside job.’ She wants the ‘loss of ship’ proceedings combined with any prosecutions for creating the virus. Besides, we did manage to get her back.”
“So, what brings you out here?”
“We’re here to bring you back to Starbase 42.“
Roslyn was working in her quarters when the doorbell rang, “Come in.”
“Hello, commander,” Sara replied as she entered Roslyn’s quarters. “Can I talk to you for a minute.”
“Sure, lieutenant,” Roslyn answered.
“We have a possible lead who’s responsible for planting the virus. Starfleet intelligence reports that a band of mercenaries has been offering warships for sale to the highest bidder.”
“I’ve heard of decommissioned Starfleet vessels winding their way into the secondary market, but it would be a bold move for someone to steal an active vessel.” Roslyn pause for a moment before continuing. “I am assuming that you’d like for me to help you find out just who is responsible for creating the virus.”
“Is it that obvious?” Sara answered. “I talked to Bridget a while back about how she was ‘created,’ as it were, to be a spy for the Cardassians. You, personally, seem to have caught the attention of some of those higher up in intel.”
“What, exactly, do the higher ups have in mind?”
“I don’t quite understand it, Abilene’s warp core seems to be set up properly,” Dorian commented, “It just doesn’t want to run.”
“Consider all that has happened recently, She’s gonna have to be taken to starbase for examination,” Jaimie answered. “I’ll talk to the captain and let him know what’s going on.”
“I take it you feel that Abilene have been compromised.”
“I wouldn’t doubt it,” Jaimie stated as an alarm sounded. “Petrelli to Bridge, what’s going on?”
“Auxiliary power to the antimatter containment field has failed. The system is showing containment failure in 15 minutes.”
“All right, let’s not waste time,” the chief engineer stated. “Prepare to jettison the antimatter pods.” Abilene’s engineering crew worked diligently to eject the antimatter pods. However, it was clear that there was something wrong. “Engineering to bridge. We can’t get the antimatter pods to eject.”
“All right then,” the captain answered as he motioned for the abandon ship klaxons. “Attention all hands: abandon ship. please report to the nearest escape pod. This is not a drill. Antimatter containment failure is anticipated in 10 minutes.”
“Petrelli to Ninnescah, emergency transport.” Escape pods quickly detached from Abilene’s hull, along with various shuttlecraft. Jaimie patched the runabout into the starship’s navigational controls. “This is commander Jaimie Petrelli. I am steering Abilene out of the way to ensure everyone’s safety.” As Abilene pulled away, the escape pods and shuttles gathered around Ninnescah.
“Captain, we’re receiving a message from Starbase 42,” Lindsay stated.
“I’ll take it on screen,” Andrea answered. “I’m sure Patrick here would like to know what’s going on.”
“Captain,” Admiral Dillon stated, “I’m afraid I’m going to have to divert you temporarily. We received a distress call from Commander Petrelli. It seems that the starship Abilene reported problems with her warp drive. It apparently escalated to an antimatter containment scare and the crew abandoned ship. Ninnescah is guarding the escape pods.“
“It’s going to be a little stuffy in here, but I think we can squeeze them in,” Patrick commented.
“We’re on our way,” Andrea continued. “Helm, lay in a course for Ninnescah.”
“Course laid in.”
Captain’s Log, Stardate 54150.9: Nimitz has returned to Starbase 42 with the crew of Abilene. The apparent loss of Abilene is troubling, as it has become clear that someone is secretly trying to hijack a starship.
Patrick was walking down the hall with his trusted legal adviser. “You’re saying that Abilene’s captain personally brought himself before Admiral Dillon for court martial.”
“I tried to talk him out of it, but I couldn’t. He wants the proceedings to occur without delay.”
“Have we figured out who was behind the virus?”
“No, but I’ve got Roslyn on it. Intelligence set her up with a background as a down on her luck freelance computer programmer. Scuttlebutt from intel indicates that they are in demand.”
“I’ve shown her a few things about computers. I’m sure she’ll be able to handle it. So, are you doing anything this evening?”
“I don’t have anything planned, why?”
“I’m planning on reviving an old tradition: poker night.”
“Sounds interesting. Count me in.”
The young woman walked up to the table. “Hello,”
One of the men turned around to notice her. “Well, hello, pretty lady. What can I do for you?”
“You could tell me how much is the buy-in. I see you have an open spot at the table.”
Thinking that this woman was dead money, the man decided to invite her in. “If you have, say, two bars of latinum, you can have the seat.”
“Cash me in,” the woman replied, handing him three bars.
“Here’s 6,000 in chips for the lady.”
“Call me Daisy,” the woman replied.
“What kind of a name is that?”
“My parents were botanists, they had a thing for earth flowers,” Daisy replied coolly. “Now, are you going to deal or not.”
“If you insist,” the dealer stated. “The name of the game’s no-limit hold’em. Small blind is 10, big blind is 20 slips.”
“We start the pot by having the player to the dealer’s left put in the small blind of 2 chips, the next player puts in a big blind of 4,” Patrick stated. “Is everyone familiar with ‘hold ’em’ poker?”
All of the participants nodded their heads. “So, Patrick,” Sara inquired as Patrick dealt the hole cards. “I’m curious, has adventure always sought you, or did it wait until you became captain of Baldwin?”
“As a matter of fact,” Patrick replied, “I got into trouble during our little skirmish with the Klingons a little over 4 years ago.”
“I’m interested in hearing this story,” Bridget answered.
“Well, I was put in charge of an EVAC mission to a outpost near the Klingon border. The mission was to move everyone off the planet. Unfortunately, the Klingons decided to run a cavalry raid. They managed to destroy or make unusable all of the shuttles. They also managed to damage the Kitty Hawk‘s transporter. It took about two hours to repair the transporter. Meanwhile, I had to calm down the civilians. One of them had a little five month old girl. Needless to say, she was in a crying fit. She knew that everything wasn’t all right.”
“Let me guess,” Sara stated, “you sang to the little girl to calm her. I’ll check.”
“Guilty has charged,” Patrick replied. “Once Kitty Hawk was able to repair the transporter, we beamed everyone up four at a time. The Klingons made a second pass at us just as the last of us was to beam out. I was transported just as Kitty Hawk raised her shields. It was one of the most harrowing beam-outs I’ve gone through.” Patrick proceeded to discard the top card in the deck before presenting three cards face-up. “On the flop we have a ten, five, and seven off-suit. I see that Bridget, Donna, and Sara J. are still in this round.”
“I’ll check,” Bridget answered.
“I’ll open with 4,” Donna followed. “I remember mom mentioning that she engaged the Klingons once, but I was under the impression that you were already moved on to the Hastings XO spot.”
“No, but you’re close,” Patrick said. “Your mom had recommended me for the spot, but I didn’t know about it. The EVAC was the last major mission before Starfleet gave the orders making me Hastings XO. The last little gift that she gave me before I left was the Christopher Pike Medal. She felt that keeping the civilians calm was a tough job, and that I went above and beyond the call of duty.”
“It certainly makes for an interesting story. I’ll call.”
“Call,” Bridget finished the betting round as Patrick prepare to deal another card.
“We have another ten on the turn.”
Bridget pondered for a moment before making the opening bet. “I’ll open this time around with 8.”
“Call,” Donna replied.
“I’ll raise to 16,” Sara finished.
“Call,” Bridget retorted.
“I’m out,” stated Donna. “I’ll leave this pot between the two of you.”
“On the River,” Patrick said as he prepared to reveal the final community card. “We have a deuce.”
“I’ll open with 24,” Bridget stated.
“I raise to 32,” Sara answered.
“All right, we still have two players in the game. It’s convention for the last person to raise to show their cards first.”
“I figured that this was a good hand for me,” Sara replied as she turned over a pair of aces.
“Bullets are usually a good hand to bet on. That gives you two pair, aces over tens,” Patrick answered, “However, there is one hand better. Does Mrs. Ingrum have it?” Bridget laid down her cards. “Indeed, she has pocket 10s to make a four of a kind.”
“I’ll raise to 260,” stated one of the players. The first round of betting had been completed, and there were three players left who did not fold their hands. The flop was a Ace-King-Nine.
“I’ll call,” Roslyn stated.
“I’m out,” replied the final player.
The dealer turned over the turn card. It was another Ace. Roslyn was the first to make a bet. “I am all in,” she stated as she pushed all of her chips in.
“Miss Daisy, you are either very bold or very stupid. I will call.” On an all-in call, no furthur betting was possible, so the player immediately showed his hole cards, a pair of Kings.
“Kings full of aces, that’s a very good hand.” Daisy observed as she revealing her own hole cards. “However, I do believe that four aces beats kings full.”
“So, what bring you to our table, besides a savvy for poker?”
“I’m here to do what everyone else wants to: make some latinum. I hear programmers are in demand.”
“I may be able to help you out, for a price.”
“How much are you wanting?”
“I believe I have just lost a couple bars of latinum. I’d like to get that latinum back.”
“Sir,” stated the subordinate, “I have found more information about the USS Ottawa. Aloran IV was a Federation colony that was abandoned when Cardassia joined the Dominion. One of the former residents was the family of Captain Patrick Ingrum of the USS Baldwin. According to our contact, they were on Aloran to celebrate his birthday.”
“In other words, Ottawa stumbled upon us.” the supervisor replied.
“That is correct, sir. Our contact in Starfleet was able to find us another ship. This time, she was a bit more subtle in implementing the pathogen. For all they know, the ship was the victim of an antimatter containment failure.”
“Very good. We have clients wanting working Federation designed ships. Anything else?”
“I met a young lady last night. She appears to be very savvy at computers.”
“If you think she’s a good programmer, bring her in, but keep an eye on her. Starfleet is likely to be bringing in agents of their own.”
“And, as for this Captain Ingrum. I have heard quite a bit about him. He is a potential threat to our objectives. See that some harm comes to him.”
Ensign Collins was paired up with Ensign Wellman and tasked with running a new ODN fiber down a corridor. “I still think they syndicate is the most likely group to want to steal a starship.”
“I’ve also heard that the Satarrans are trying to get their hands on a Federation ship again.”
“Or,” Patrick stated as he approached the pair in the hallway, “It could be all of the above.” He noticed that both subordinates were getting ready to stand at attention. “As you were.”
“I wasn’t aware you were on inspection.”
“It is the Captain’s prerogative to see how things are going. Are those the new gel packs for the war room.”
“Yes, Sir,” Wellman replied. “10 new Mark V bio-neural gel packs, per the design plans.”
“Sarah will be happy to hear about that,” Patrick continued as the lights started to flicker. “I thought environmental controls were being handled by the dry dock. Starbase ops, this is Captain Ingrum: we’ve got a power fluctuation on Baldwin deck 5. Is there something wrong with the dry dock?”
“We’re not doing anything that would affect Baldwin‘s dry dock. I’ll go ahead and check.”
As soon as she checked the Dry dock controls, sparks flew across the ops panel. Patrick heard the crackling. “Ingrum to transporter room, emergency beam-out.”
“The dry dock system are failing,” Dorian noted. “We’re losing life support.”
“Captain, this is transporter control. It seems that the whole system has been compromised. We cannot get a lock.”
“Understood,” Patrick answered. “Mr. Wellman, is Neosho still aboard?”
“Yes, sir, however, I doubt that the shuttle bay doors are functional.”
“Never mind that. I take it you’re the only ones aboard.”
“Yes, sir. We were going for a early start.”
“All right, let’s get to Neosho, stat.”
“What the hell is going on out there!” Jaimie exclaimed as she entered the operations area.
“All of a sudden, we’ve got system malfunctions across the board.”
Admiral Dillon exited his office, “I want an investigation into these systems failures ASAP. Also, I want to speak to Captain Ingrum.”
“Admiral,” Jaimie replied as she approached Admiral Dillon. “Is there something I don’t know about about.”
“I just received a flash from intel. Apparently, an open reward is being offered for the Captain’s head.”
“Wasn’t the captain aboard Baldwin?” Jaimie inquired.
“Yes, ma’am,” the officer replied. “Her dry dock just lost power. Transporter control has been compromised, we weren’t able to beam him out.”
“Do we still have sensors.”
“Scan the area around Baldwin‘s dry dock”
“I’m detecting an anomaly. Commander, we have a ship decloaking.”
“On screen.” The screen revealed a runabout dropping her cloak. “Open a channel.” Jaimie paused while the communications officer opened hailing frequencies. “Neosho, this is Commander Petrelli. Is everyone all right?”
“Petrelli, Neosho. I’m glad to hear your voice number one,” Patrick answered. “What in the hell is going on.”
“Scuttlebutt says there’s quite a price for your head.”
“Needless to say, I’m probably going to need a little extra protection. Make any security measures you feel are necessary and make sure Bridget and Tiana are covered.“
Roslyn entered the bar at the arranged time. Her contact arrived soon after. “Well, miss Daisy, I see you are ready to go to work.”
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” Roslyn replied to her contact.
“I witnessed for you in my boss’s office, so if you screw up, we both will be terminated, likely with extreme prejudice.”
“Understood,” Roslyn answered.
“We have salvaged several Jem’Hadar attack ships. We have invested our latinum in equipping them with some of the basic ‘creature comforts,’ including putting an actual viewscreen on the bridge.”
“I’m going to pair you with one of our best programmers. Something tells me the two of you would make a good match.”
Patrick entered his quarters and quickly embraced his wife. “Hey, hon. How’s the little one.”
“She’s become a bit fussy. I’ve tried to put her to sleep, but I think she senses something is wrong.”
“I’ll say,” Patrick replied. “Admiral Dillon is ordering us sequestered on Aloran IV until further notice. Nimitz and Ottawa will take turns guarding the planet, and we won’t be without company.”
“It seems you have a few friends in high places,” Bridget replied. “Now, do you think you can handle the simple matter of calming your daughter.”
“Let’s see what I can do,” Patrick answered as he reached for Tiana. He proceeded to sing “Here Comes the Sun,” and gently rocked his baby to sleep.
“What time do we leave?” Bridget whispered to Patrick as he put the baby in the crib.
Roslyn and her contact entered a small office. “Issac, I’d like for you to meet someone.”
“I keep telling you, if I wanted a girl, I’m not going to pay you any latinum.”
“Who said I was one of his street girls,” Roslyn answered. “I’m in the computer programming business. My name’s Daisy.”
“I’m not really interested in having a partner,” Issac answered. “But if you insist, I will pair up with Daisy.” As Issac turned around, Roslyn was shocked to see a familiar face. “Hello,” Issac stated as he faced his new partner.
“I’ll let the two of you take some time to get to know each other, but I expect some progress on that test ship by the end of the day.
“Yes, sir,” Issac and Roslyn replied in unison.
As soon as the contact left, Issac turned to his new partner. “He’s all right, but he’s dabbled a bit in the prostitution racket. How did you meet him?”
“I took his latinum at the poker table.”
“He probably mistook you for dead money. Most of the girls he works with don’t quite have it up here,” Issac continued, pointing at his head. “They’re not exactly my type.”
“So, bring me up to speed on what you’re doing.”
Personal log, Lt. Commander Bridget Ingrum, Stardate 54155.2: Ottawa is returning our family to Aloran IV while Starfleet investigates who is responsible for attempting to murder Patrick. Without knowing who we are up against, the best thing I can do know myself and my friends.
“Hey, Bridget,” Sara stated as she entered Ottawa‘s holodeck. “You wanted to see me.”
“Yeah,” Bridget replied. “I know you’re part of the security arrangements for us. I just wanted you to make sure of one thing.”
“Computer, begin exercise. Safeties on, difficulty to maximum.” A troop of Jem’Hadar solders appeared as Bridget began her exercises. She delivered a swift series of kicks, causing the Jem’Hadar to fly backward.
“Most impressive,” Sara answered as Bridget finished off the last Jem’Hadar. “I knew you had augmented strength, but I’d never seen you demonstrate it like this.”
“To put it mildly, I will do whatever it takes to protect my family.”
“Your loyalty is certainly noted,” Sara replied, “but somehow, I doubt that you will be subject to a direct attack.”
“Still, I’m not the vulnerable damsel in distress.”
“I was there when you took a bullet for Patrick, remember,” Sara continued. “You’re all the bodyguard that he’ll need.”
“In any case,” Bridget said, “I think sending us to Aloran may not be the best solution.”
“If these mercenaries know anything about Patrick, Aloran will be the first place to look, and perhaps the easiest to sabotage.”
“I suppose we ought to make sure that we have no surprises,” Sara answered as a holographic Jem’Hadar sneaked up on Bridget. Bridget delivered a swift kick to the solider, then snapped his back across her knee. “I see hell hath no fury like an augment scorned.”
“I am curious, have you heard anything from Roz?” Bridget asked.
“I did hear that she made contact with a possible operative.”
The manager over Issac and ‘Daisy’ entered the office of his supervisor. “Come in,” the Supervisor stated, “How is your new recruit?”
“She’s doing better than expected. They’ve got the warbug’s new viewscreen up and running.”
“Excellent,” the supervisor replied. “What is the latest on Mr. Ingrum.”
“He got away, and apparently Starfleet has bumped up security. Our contact believes that he is heading for Aloran IV aboard Ottawa.”
“Perhaps we should send a little surprise for Mr. Ingrum when he arrives.”
Issac and Roslyn were testing the new viewscreen on the warbug. “Sending test package to you now,” Roslyn stated. The retrofitted viewscreen began to display several test patterns.
“Very good,” Issac responded. “As much work as it took to refit this first ship, fitting others should be a piece of cake.”
“So, Issac, what can you tell me about yourself.”
“There’s not much to say. You could say I shouldn’t exist.”
“I wasn’t exactly born in the traditional way either, so I’m even more curious.”
“I used to be the tactical officer aboard the Kitty Hawk during the Klingon engagement. I was put in charge of an EVAC mission to a outpost near the Klingon border at the same time as one of the Klingon’s famous cavalry raids. We had to beam everybody out with a freshly repaired transporter. I was supposed to be the last officer off, and therefore, I was transported just as Kitty Hawk raised her shields. It turned out that my transport beam appeared to be a little off kilter, and my transport beam bounced back to the surface.”
“Fascinating,” Roslyn replied, realizing that there was a reason his face looked familiar. “What happened next.”
“I kept in hiding for the next few months, making sure there weren’t any Klingons on my tail. Eventually, the civilian population came back to the planet, and I managed to find work for a while before going freelance aboard a civilian freighter.”
“Why didn’t you report back to Starfleet. Even if they had though you had perished in the accident, surely they would be relieved that you were still alive.”
“That’s where it gets interesting,” Issac continued as he put on a headset. “Could I get a front view on the screen and on the headset.”
“Got it,” Roslyn answered. “Please continue.”
Issac took a good look through the headset before flipping the eyepiece up to look at the new screen. “It turns out that Kitty Hawk must have put two confinement beams on me.”
“And so, one made it back to the ship, the other bounced off the shields.”
“You also changed your name so that you wouldn’t be confused with your twin.”
“He did have his own live to deal with, and I had mine.”
Patrick sat down on the couch to read up on the rest of the news. Bridget had gone off to talk with. Sara. If I’ve got some time to myself, Patrick thought. His little girl, however, had another idea. “What’s wrong, Tiana,” he said as he picked up his daughter. He gently held the baby to his chest, securing her fragile head. As he rocked back and forth, he noticed that Tiana was smiling back. “So that’s what you wanted. If only everything could be that simple.”
All the young baby girl could do was smile. Tiana had yet to learn about those who would do anybody harm. All she knew was, she had a mother and father that cared for her, and that she needed them as much as they needed her. As her father began to doze off, Tiana went back to sleep as well
In the midst of the calm moment, Bridget and Sara had opened the door and entered the quarters. Noticing that Patrick and Tiana were asleep, Bridget quietly pulled out the ‘Chessie’ blanket and draped it across Patrick’s chest and under the baby’s head. Bridget gave her husband and daughter a quick peck on the cheek. “Sweet dreams,” she said to them as she exited her quarters.
“What do you mean, they’re not there yet.”
“I am in orbit of Aloran right now, sir,” a young lady stated to her manager. “There is no sign of activity.”
Before the manager could respond, his doorbell rang. “I’ll have to discuss this with you later, right now, I have other matters to attend to.” He quickly disengaged the conversation. “Enter,” he stated.
Issac entered the office “I’m sorry to bother you sir, but you wanted a report on the warbug.”
“Yes, Issac. How are you doing?”
“The first ship was refitted sucessfully. We’ve begun refitting the rest of them now. We should be done by the end of the day.”
“Very good. Anything else.”
“All right then. If you’ll excuse me, I have another meeting to attend to.”
“Of course,” Issac replied.
The manager walked over to his supervisor’s office. “Sir, it seems we have a little issue. Apparently, Ottawa did not go directly to Aloran.”
“Tell Rebecca to hold her position. I’m sure Mr. Ingrum will be heading to Aloran soon. If not, I’m sure our agent at Starbase 42 will be able to come up with a little something. Get in touch with your contact at Starbase 42, just in case.”