Reaction To Action, Part 2

“We’ve arrived at the last known location of the Abilene.”

“Thanks, Susan. Take us out of warp.”

Sara and Bridget exited the turbolift. “I take it we have arrived,” Sara stated.

“Yes,” Jenna replied. “Where’s Patrick.”

“He’s napping with the little one,” Bridget answered. “Let’s take a look.”

The viewscreen activated to a view of empty space. “I think it’s pretty obvious that the Abilene did not suffer from a warp core breach,” Sara stated. “Needless to day, I think we should scan for warp trails

“I agree,” Jenna replied. “Sonya, make it so.”

“Jen,” Bridget inquired, “Any chance we could see a map of the area?”

“Sure,” Jenna answered, “what are you thinking?”

“It wouldn’t make sense for Abilene to be taken long distances across Federation space.”

“I agree,” Jenna replied. “Let’s see where the nearest planets are.”

“So, how was your meeting?” Roslyn asked Issac.

“Very short,” Issac replied. “It seems that he had another meeting to attend to.”

“I would think that refitting and selling of a warship would make him a ton of latinum,” Roslyn replied. “What could be more important than that?”

“I’d bet he’s got something up his sleeve. It wouldn’t surprise me.”

“So why do you work for him?”

“I’m a freelancer,” Issac answered, “I look for what pays me the most latinum, as long as it’s not clearly illegal. Last time I checked, programming a ship’s OS is legal. I’ve spent the past five months perfecting the new system for this project. He wanted a system that resembled a Federation starship interface, and that’s exactly what I gave him.”

With the information that Isaac gave him, Roslyn figured that Issac did not write the virus, but that someone designed the virus to overwrite the starship’s computer system with Issac’s OS, thereby rewriting the remote access protocols. Any compromised starship would be controlled by anyone who knew the new remote access code.

“How’s it going, ensign?” Jaimie asked Dorian as she was working on a fiber run to the war room.

“With any luck, Commander,” Dorian replied, “We will have the war room on line in 20 minutes. I heard Admiral Dillon has made getting Baldwin on line top priority.”

“Indeed he has.” Baldwin was designated as a systems testbed for new security measures in response to the recent virus. The war room was also one of the most valuable astrometic field-processing facilities in Starfleet. “I’m sure we can put Sarah to work right away. How soon can we have rest of the ship ready.”

“We’ll have warp power in 35 hours.”

“The most logical place for someone to hide Abilene, given the circumstances, would be in the Timor sector.” Sara stated. “It’s mostly uninhabited, save for a Pergium mine operated by the Ferengi.

“How far is it at maximum warp?” Bridget inquired.

“3 days.”

“I think dropping in there will raise too many questions at this time,” Jenna stated. “We should forward this to intel. Meanwhile, Susan, could you set a course for Aloran, warp 8.5.”

As Ottawa’s bridge crew followed her captain’s orders, Sara turned toward Bridget. “So, what’s your next move.”

“I figure Tiana’s going to be awake right about now, and she’ll be hungry. Besides, Patrick could use his personal bodyguard, if you know what I mean.”

“Knowing your relationship with Patrick, I wouldn’t expect anything less from you.”

Normally, the manager would not send messages to his operatives in Federation territory while Issac was testing the warbugs; however, this was an unusual circumstance. He created a text message to his mole. “Rebecca says Ottawa has not arrived at Aloran,” the message stated. “Find out where she went.” Hopefully, he thought, she would be able to find out what was happening without alerting suspicion.

“Why would there be a transmission into Federation territory,” Issac wondered as he monitored planetary traffic. “It seems that our boss is up to something.”

“What makes you say that?” Roslyn answered as he moved up next to Issac.

“Very few people in the sector care have reason for Starfleet to stick there noses here. Most are simply here to mine Pergium. They pull their 20 hours a week, and they get their latinum.”

“And no one asks questions?” Roslyn inquired.

“That’s right,” Issac answered as he read the text of the message. “Aloran. Why in the hell would someone be interested in Aloran?”

“Why do you say that?” Roslyn inquired, even though she knew exactly why.

“Aloran is on the Cardassian border. It’s unoccupied, and there aren’t much of the usual exploitable resources. I should know, my family lived on that colony.”

“You think your ‘brother’ is being marked somehow?,” Roslyn answered.

“Everything appears to point to it.”

“Issac, can you keep a secret.”

“Hey, hon.” Bridget said as she entered the guest quarters. “How was your little nap.”

“Very peaceful,” Patrick answered as he kissed Bridget on the cheek. “Any news .”

“Jaimie reports that the war room is back online. Sara wishes she had access to it now, although the other Sarah says she’ll help any way she can.”

“You mentioned that you suggested that Jenna divert Ottawa from Aloran.”

“Yeah, we can confirm one thing. Abilene was not destroyed, and is likely in hostile hands.”

“That maneuverer probably confused the hell out of who ever was doing this. Might I make a suggestion.”

“Sure thing, Patrick,” Bridget said as she picked up her daughter. “As soon as I’m done feeding the little one.”

“Hey, Sarah,” Jaimie stated as Sarah beamed aboard Baldwin

“I heard that my office has been upgraded.”

“The war room has got a full upgrade with bio-neural systems. I understand they’re looking at putting this technology on the new Luna-class project.”

Dorian joined Jaimie as Jaimie and Sarah walked toward the war room. “Commander, Lieutenant.”

“Ensign,” Sarah replied. “How have you been?”

“Very busy running cable. Thankfully, we should be ready to roll soon,” Dorian answered as they approached the doors to the war room.

Before opening the door to the war room, Jaimie pulled out her sidearm in anticipation of trouble. as they opened the doors, they noticed an unauthorized person in the room. “would you mind explaining why you are in here?” the XO asked.

“Since you are in here,” Sarah stated. “let’s see what you’ve been up to.” Sarah preceded to examine the commands the intruder had entered into the console. “Commander, it appears that the intruder was looking for the location of Ottawa.”

“I have a feeling,” Jaimie replied, “I know why this person is looking for Ottawa. Ensign Collins, please take this intruder to the brig on the starbase for interrogation.”

“Aye, commander,” Dorian replied. “If you could come with me, please.”

“Sarah, get in touch with Ottawa. Notify them that we have uncovered an intruder.”

Rebecca monitored the sensors of her craft constantly, looking for signs of another ship. In her youth, she was considered the red-headed step-child, both literally and figuratively. She had spent 8 years in debt to a Orion Syndicate operative to get her off of Adigeon Prime. Unlike other women like her, she was not willing to become a “lady of the evening.” Her benefactor understood her objections, and instead shaped her into a femme fatale. Before leaving Adigeon, she had been given DNA resequencing treatments to increase her strength and agility, and began training for her life of assassination. Her latest target was a Starfleet captain with sufficient knowledge about computers.

Her single person craft was a lot like her, it was simple, yet elegant, and strong and agile in combat. Her current orders were to hold her position and be on the lookout for a Starfleet vessel. Rebbecca knew that her target was happily married, and wouldn’t fall for her ‘charms.’ Why, then, would they not go for a direct attack. Her position, however, was not to ask questions, but to follow orders should she want to receive her latinum.

Rebecca lounged in her cockpit when she received a hail from her manager. Immediately, she answered the call. “How can I help you, sir?”

“Apparently, Ottawa is heading in our direction, according to the latest scuttlebutt. I’d like you to head our way and do not let anyone interfere with your mission.”

“Understood, I am on my way,” Rebecca answered.

The Ingrum family was on the bridge as Ottawa‘s communications officer intercepted a transmission headed towards the Aloran system. “We’ve got confirmation, there’s been a transmission to Aloran from hostile territory.”

“Thank you, lieutenant,” Patrick stated as he turned to Ottawa‘s captain. “Jen, I think it’s time to find out why are up against.”

“I agree,” Jenna replied. “Shields up, red alert. Set a course bearing 320 Mark 5. Engage at warp 8.”

“Aye, captain,” Susan answered the as she operated the flight control console. Ottawa curved gracefully to her left before engaging her warp engines, then instantly streaked away.

“Computer, estimated time of intercept?” Rebecca asked her ships computer.

“5 minutes,” The computer answered.

“Show me the schematics for USS Ottawa.” Rebecca quickly memorized the plans for the starship, looking for any weakness in the ship that would allow her to complete her mission. Despite Ottawa being better armed than Rebecca’s craft, the highly skilled assassin was more then capable of overcoming those odds.

“Captain,” Susan stated, “small craft approaching, bearing 155 mark 12.”

“On screen,” Jenna replied. The screen showed a sleek, silver craft.

The small ship began to fire phasers on Ottawa. At first, Rebecca targeted the joints between the independent sections of Ottawa‘s hull.

“Shields down to 65 percent,” the tactical officer stated.

“Return fire,” Bernie responded.

“Captain,” Sonya said, “The bandit has targeted our internal docking mechanisms. Multi vector assault mode is off line.”

“The bandit appears to think that we would need to separate to suppress her. Let’s prove her wrong.”

“You know, Roslyn,” Issac stated, “if it wasn’t for the fact that you mentioned that you were Patrick’s sister-in-law, I would be all over you.”

“How so?” Roslyn answered.

“Well, for starters, you’ve got one of the best hourglass figures I have seen on a woman. You clearly know your stuff, especially since you elected to get yourself into this mess. I also think your personality is infectious.”

“Thank you,” Roslyn replied, flattered.

“Now, in other business, we’ve got a small fight on half a light year ahead of us. It appears that one of the ships involved is a federation ship, Prometheus-class. it appears that the smaller ship is holding her own.”

“That’s probably Ottawa,” Roslyn replied. “That’s Jenna Carson’s ship.”

“If you’re right,” Issac stated, “Ottawa is probably in the cross hairs. Moving in to intercept.”

“It’s all right, Tiana,” Patrick said as he cradled his baby daughter. as he continued to sooth his baby, he tapped on his combadge. “Bridget, where are you?”

“I am on deck five,” Bridget answered. “I’ll be there in about two minutes.”

“Understood,” Patrick replied, “but please, make it quick.”

On the bridge of Ottawa, Susan manned the flight controls in an attempt to out maneuver the small bandit, to little avail. “Captain,” she said, “we’ve got a week’s spot in our shields on deck five.”

“Security teams to deck five, guest quarters,” Jenna quickly responded. “If an assassin wishes to confront Captain Ingrum, I’m going to make every effort to insure that he or she fails.”

As Tiana calmed down, Patrick put her back in her cradle. As soon as he let go of his baby girl, he was thrown hard into a bulkhead. Patrick looked up and noticed an unfamiliar woman in his quarters. “I take it,” Patrick answered wittingly, “you have been sent here to eliminate me.”

“You would be correct,” Rebecca replied. “I think you’ll find me more than a match for you.”

“Something tells me that you are an augment. I’ve got news for you,” Patrick said as Bridget entered the room and tackled the intruder, “So is my wife.”

“She’s a tough one,” Bridget commented, “however, I think I’ve got it under control.”

Carson to Ingrum,” Jenna stated over the intercom. “A ship just dropped out of warp ahead of us. I think you ought to take a look at this.

“Understood,” Patrick said. “We’ve got one intruder contained. She’s an augment, so I think Bridget needs to escort her to the brig to ensure she doesn’t cause any more trouble.”

As soon as Patrick arrived on the bridge, he was amazed at what he saw on the viewscreen. “Hello, Patrick,” Isaac stated to a shocked Patrick. “I guess I’ve got some explaining to do.

“I’ll bet,” Patrick answered. “Hey, Roslyn, I see you’ve found a new friend. You missed my attempted assassination. I could have used an extra augment to take her down.”

It seems that you have had quite an adventure,” Issac stated. “I think we need to get together and have a round table discussion, and to be honest, I would love to meet your wife and daughter. By the way, you can call me Issac.

Bridget entered the ready room, and was slightly shocked by what she saw. “Is it just me, or do I need to see Dr. Bratney?”

“Yes, sis,” Roslyn replied, “you are seeing two ‘Patricks.’”

“I guess I would be the best to explain,” Issac answered, explaining how a transporter incident aboard the Kitty Hawk resulted in two transporter beams, one that returned to the ship, and the other returned to the planet.

“OK,” Bridget answered, “but just how do you fit into the to theft of Abilene?”

“Judging by what Patrick and Jenna have told me so far,” Isaac replied, “The operating system I designed for Jem’Hadar warships has been turned into a worm that allows whoever spread this to have remote access to the infected ship’s computer. I see that you have developed a mechanism to identify ships that have been infected.”

“I think,” Patrick stated, “that at some point, your manager will start asking questions. I would suggest that you say you with us for the time being. Issac, this is my lovely wife, Bridget.”

“Hello,” Isaac said as he shook her hand, “Patrick, you are one lucky man.”

“I’d say,” Roslyn commented, “Issac is a chronic flirt.”

“Seriously,” Isaac continued, “you are a very beautiful young woman. But I hear that the two of of you have a little girl. Any chance I could meet her?”

The manager rushed in to his supervisors office, “We have a major problem.”

“What is it?” the supervisor inquired.

“I’ve lost contact with both my contact aboard Starbase 42 and the person I send out to eliminate Captain Ingrum. I have a feeling that, somehow, they have been caught by Starfleet.”

“That’s not good,” the supervisor replied. “What happened to your employees.”

“I wanted them and of the way, so I gave them the day off.”

“I would suggest you find out what happened to your employees. If they were caught, or one of them was indeed a Starfleet operative, they will almost surely be debriefed.”

“It is certainly possible; however, if it’s Starfleet was indeed looking into our operation, they could have found our operative on the starbase independently, especially if she had made a wrong move. As for the woman I send out to eliminate the captain, it’s very likely that she bit off more than she could chew against Ottawa.”

“They do not know enough about our operation to compromise us,” commented the manager.

“Are you sure,” replied the supervisor. “You mentioned that they were computer programmers. Even though they do not know the details of our project, they probably have enough know how to give Starfleet a heads up on what we have been doing.”


“So, this is my niece,” Issac commented as he picked up Tiana. “She is a very cute little baby girl.”

“I am glad you approve,” Patrick replied.

Bridge to Captain Ingrum,” Bernie stated over the ship’s intercom.”

“This is Patrick.”

We’ve received a message from Starbase 42. Jaimie is reporting that they have captured an intruder. She is currently being interrogated by starbase personnel.

“What do we know about her?” Patrick inquired.

She is lieutenant Christine McNeil, she was apparently on the engineering crew of the Abilene.”

“Well, that does sound like there’s probable cause to charge her with conspiracy. I bet our resident lawyer would love to interview her, however, I think we may have an opportunity to find our lost ship first. Let starbase control know we will return as soon as we can.”

“I would try to get there in a hurry. I know enough about the underground to know that they will try to destroy the evidence of their theft.”

“I agree,” Patrick replied. “Do you have in the idea on where they could hide the starship.”

“There’s a scrap yard a few light years from here. As I understand it, the operator does not ask questions.”

“All right then, that’s where we will start looking,” Patrick answered as he took Tiana from his ‘brother.’

Sara entered the Brig, escorted by Roslyn. “Hello,” she said to the prisoner, “I am Lieutenant Sara Jackson, judge advocate for the tenth squadron.”

“If you’re here to asks me questions, you came to the wrong place. I know enough about the legal system to know that I can keep quiet.”

“I know that attempted murder does carry a significant penalty, however, I am authorized to, as they say, cut a deal if you so choose.”

“What kind of a deal?”

“Well, for starters, it might help to know what is your name?”

“My name is Rebecca. As you probably have figured out, my former sponsors have genetically enhanced me for strength and agility. Apparently, they didn’t realize that Captain Ingrum had a couple of augments in his pocket, not to mention in other places.”

“Can we keep that one off the record?” Roslyn asked Sara.

“I’m afraid not,” Sara replied. “She is, despite the crudness of the statement, technically correct.” She turned back to Rebecca, “I have known Patrick and Bridget for a while now, in fact I was the one that encouraged Bridget to pursue a relationship with Patrick. I can tell you that they are a very happy couple.”

“That’s nice, but all I could tell you is that my manager had ordered me to exterminate Captain Ingrum while he was on Aloran IV.”

“So, what can you tell me about this manager of yours.”

Patrick and Issac stood side to side on Ottawa‘s bridge. Many of the ship’s crew had to remind themselves that there were two Ingrum brothers now. “How soon before we arrived at the shipyard Issac mentioned?”

“45 seconds,” Susan replied. “Beginning sensor sweep for Abilene now.”

Ottawa jumped out of warp in front of multiple junked ships, including many casualties of incursions with the Cardassians, the Borg, and the Dominion. “Captain, I found a ship that doesn’t appear to be as dead as the others. It’s a federation starship, Sabre-class.” Sonya paused before continuing her report, “I have confirmed the registry, it is Abilene.”

“Proceed to the location of Abilene. Prepare an away team, we could use some engineers to make sure that ship is safe for independent flight. Otherwise, we’ll have to tow her back to starbase.”

“We are being hailed,” Bernie noted.

“That’s probably the yardmaster,” Issac noted. “He’s probably wondering why a federation warship is out here.”

“Open a channel,” Jenna noted. “This is captain Jenna Carson of the USS Ottawa. We have reason to believe you have something that belongs to us. If you don’t mind, we would like to claim of our ship.”

“While you are talking with the yardmaster,” Issac noted, “I am going down to the brig.”

“You know, if I’d have know your wife was an augment, I would have brought a little more firepower.”

“I think you have me confused with someone else,” Issac answered. “I believe we were working for the same person.”

“If that’s the case, how come I’m in the brig and you’re not?”

“I work in computer programming. You, on the other hand, are the muscle.”

“It was either an enforcer or a lady of the night, and personally, I’ve never found prostitution very palatable. However, all I know is that I was ordered to eliminate Captain Ingrum. Nothing more and nothing less.”

“He didn’t explain why?”

“My business in not one where I ask too many questions. You, of all people, should know that. I’ve told that lawyer all that I know.”

“Are you sure that this ship is ready to go?” the supervisor asked.

“My employees indicated that the ships have passed their inspection. Even if they were with Starfleet, I would doubt they would say anything to compromise our safety.”

“Well, we’ll have to see how your ships do in combat. The yardmaster just told me that Ottawa is in the yard.”

“Understood,” the manager replied. “I’ve already gathered enough people to operate the ships. We’re ready to launch.”

“Tell them that their orders are to destroy Ottawa.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Captain,” Sonya stated, “we have incoming warbugs.”

“Red alert,” Bernie stated, “all hands, battle stations.”

“I’ll fathom a guess that they don’t plan on taking prisoners.” Jenna continued. “Patrick, I think we can handle things up here. Go take care of that baby.” Patrick nodded in agreement as he headed for the turbolift. After Patrick left the bridge, Jenna continued her inquires “What’s our tactical status.”

“Our shields are good, phasers are fully operational. However, our docking clamps are still fused. We cannot use the multi-vector assault mode.” Five warbugs swarmed up to Ottawa, targeting the warp engines and weapons. Ottawa weaved and dodged as much firepower as he could. The numbers, however, were too much for her. “Sonya, any chance you could take out some of those warbugs?”

“I’m on it,” Sonya replied. Ottawa‘s phasers lit up upon the advancing warbugs. Most of the firepower was concentrated on a single bug that had been advancing upon the warship. It took several shots to take the one ship out of action. Meanwhile, the remaining ships were able to take on Ottawa. “It’s not pretty,” Sonya commented, “shields are down to 40%.”

Jenna stood up, out of the captain’s chair. “How close are we to Abilene.”

“We’re within transporter range… that is, if we were able to transport.”

“Carson to Jackson: Sara, can you meet me in the brig. I’d like to cut a deal with our prisoner.”

Jenna entered the Brig with Sara in tow. “Issac, how quickly do you think you can get Abilene up and running.”

“Considering the intent of my former boss… I doubt it would take that long.”

“In that case, we need Abilene in the fight as soon as possible, we cannot run this show alone. And as for you, Rebecca, in exchange for helping us by going with him, we’ll be more than happy to reduce your sentence.”

“I’d much rather face a federation prison than what my boss would have in mind for me. Count me in. My vessel is equipped with a Dominion based transporter. As I understand it, Dominion transporters can still penetrate Federation shields, so you don’t have to drop your shields to beam us over with your transporters.”

“All right, then. Get over there ASAP.”

Issac and Rebecca beamed onto the Abilene‘s bridge. “I don’t understand,” Rebecca noted, “why anyone would be interested in stealing a federation starship. There are ships out there with more firepower.”

“I have a feeling that someone wanted to undergo ‘false flag’ operations.”

“What do you mean ‘false flag?’”

“It basically means someone wants to believe that the Federation is responsible for an attack when in reality it is someone else.”

“I see,” Rebecca answered. “Engaging main power.” As main power was restored on the ship, Rebecca turned to more of a personal matter. “So, Issac, I’m just curious. How come you came down to visit me in the brig?”

“I didn’t have much else to do, and somehow, I felt that under that cover of being a hired gun, there’s a lovely woman that’s never had the chance to shine.”

“Somehow, I find that a little naïve, but a sweet gesture none the less.”

“Shields are down to 16 percent,” Sonya stated. “We’re still swarmed 4 to 1.”

“Even if we were able to separate now, I wouldn’t recommend it,” Bernie commented.

“Evasive maneuvers, pattern Delta-3,” Jenna replied.

Ottawa tilted back and forth while evading the firepower of the warbugs. Ottawa held her own; however, it was clear that the enemy had the upper hand. Abilene came up from behind to join the fight, scoring hits on the rear of the enemy ships. “Ottawa, Abilene. We have limited phaser power; however, I think we can handle a 4-on-2 fast break.”

Ottawa looped to the right, drawing only two warbugs. The remaining two ships slowed down and allowed Abilene to overtake them. The ships proceeded to lay down fire across the Starfleet ships, while Abilene and Ottawa returned fire.

“Captain,” Sonya noted as she plotted tactical maneuvers. “I think we can get those bugs in the sights of our torpedo launchers.”

Jenna did not hesitate to respond. “By all means, fire QTs.” The Quantum Torpedoes emerged from Ottawa‘s hull. A direct hit was scored on both vessels.

Meanwhile, Issac and Rebecca worked on the other two vessels with Abilene‘s phasers. “Issac,” Rebecca noted, “Abilene does have have a few torpedoes of her own.”

“Don’t be afraid to use them,” Issac replied has he entered commands on the flight control panel.

Rebecca quickly moved to the tactical panel as the ship continued to shake. Having significant experience in combat, she knew what needed to be done without guidance. She entered the commands on the panel and watched the targeting monitor for her chance. As soon as she acquired a target, she pressed the fire button. Two photon torpedoes launched from Abilene‘s tubes, scoring a direct hit on their target. “I’d say we’re good. Opening a channel to Ottawa.”

“Abilene, Ottawa. How’s she holding up?” Jenna responded to Rebecca’s hail. Ottawa herself was clearly war-wounded but more than capable of making it home.

“Not too bad,” Issac answered, smiling. Issac glanced over the engineering status monitors before continuing. “It looks like we’ve got enough antimatter to limp this girl back to Starbase 42.”

Rebecca elected to take this opportunity to make a short statement. “As for me, I present myself for arrest.”

“Your willingness to assist us is admirable, and will be noted at sentencing. We will be waiting for you in our transporter room.

Jaimie entered the doorway of Admiral Dillon’s office. “You wanted to see me, sir.”

Admiral Dillon went straight to the point. “I’ve received a report from Ottawa, they have recovered Abilene and are coming home. I also understand that you have have captured a attempted saboteur.”

Jaimie did not hesitate with her response. “Yes, sir,” she replied emphatically. “She’s invoked her Directive 101 right to remain silent and has formally requested defense council.”

“What charges do we have her on?”

“She’s currently charged with unauthorized use of Starfleet equipment, and we are holdingher on suspicion of attempted murder.”

The admiral briefly pondered Jaimie’s words. He figured that the prisoner knew what she was doing, and was likely responsible for all of their trouble, at least from the Starfleet point of view. “I would suggest that Sara get a warrant to search her quarters, both here and aboard Abilene, and possibly find out who she’s working for, and possibly why.”

“I’ll let her know when Ottawa gets in,” Jaimie replied.

Captain’s log, Stardate 54163.4: We have returned to Starbase 42, with Baldwin ready to return to service for the first time in over two months.

“We’ve searched Miss McNeal’s quarters on the Starbase and aboard Abilene,” Admiral Dillon stated during the briefing. “She’s been in contact with Issac’s employer. She was given the code for the virus that has hampered our ships.”

As the Admiral took a sip from a glass of water, Patrick took over. “Between Issac and Rebecca, we’ve found out that this person has never disclosed his name to any of them. We suspect that this person is not working alone. At this point, however, with our inside suspect in custody, our focus should be on preventing a future outbreak.”

A three-star admiral grilled Patrick with a question, “What about the girl that attempted to assassinate you aboard Ottawa?”

Patrick had a quick answer, “I feel that she could become a potential asset against organized criminal activity. Sara offered cut her a deal, and I support her one hundred percent. Any more questions?”

Seeing nothing furthur, Admiral Dillon stood up to dismiss the meeting. “You’re all free to go.” As the members of the meeting dispersed, Patrick came up privately to the Admiral. “I understand that Baldwin has been assigned on a three-month exploration mission.”

“That is correct.”

“Considering what I’ve been up against for the past several months, I’d like to see if I can stretch that out a little more.”

“If you think that Baldwin can be out in the field more than three months, you’re welcome to extend the cruise. However, It is likely that we’ll need you again.”

Patrick entered Baldwin‘s bridge to find his crew awaiting him. He moved to his captain’s chair and pressed a button to activate the public address system. “For the past few months, this family has been sidetracked. Our technology had been exploited, stolen, and retaken. What those who opposed us forgot is that we had a determination to maintain a just society. Now that the family is back together, it is time to look forward. Our new mission is the one many of you signed up for. We are to chart and explore beyond the far end of Cardassian space. Helm, plot course, warp 8.”

“Aye, sir,” Laura quipped as she began entering commands on her computer terminal.

“Now, all we need is a little ‘breakaway music.’ Computer, why don’t we go with ‘Hell’s Bells.’”

Patrick smiled as the gonging bell and guitars of the 20th Century rockers filled the ship as Baldwin slowly left its drydock, passed the starbase and the other ships, and, once clear of the facility, streaked away for parts unknown.