“Captain,” the Larned‘s XO stated, “There’s a ship decloaking — bearing 285 mark 5.”
“Red alert,” Captain Olmstead stated.
“Understood,” the tactical officer answered. “Shields up, phasers and torpedoes standing by.”
A Romulan Warbird decloaked beside the Larned. “Ensign,” Olmstead said to the tactical officer, “hail them and determine their status.”
“She’s weakened, Captain. I having problems hail—” Before the officer can reply, the Warbird suddenly exploded.
“Could someone figure out what the hell is going on? Get me Starfleet Command.”
The doorbell rang in Patrick’s ready room. “Enter,” Patrick answered.
“Good morning, captain,” Sara said as she entered the ready room.
“Good morning, Lieutenant,” Patrick answered. “What can I do for you?”
“I just received a message from JAG headquarters. Learned encountered the Romulan Warbird Ronax near the Bryma sector.”
“The Romulans have been routing their supply runs through that area. What’s so strange about that?”
“The Ronax apparently exploded with all hands before Captain Olmstead could respond.”
“I’m sure the Romulans aren’t too happy about that. I suppose that JAG is planning to have you investigate the matter.”
“Yes, and I may need some help with some astrometric data.”
“Sounds like a two Sarah job. Lieutenant Allison will be made available to you for this mission.”
“Thank you, Captain,” Sara answered. “So, how are you and Bridget now that you’ve tied the knot?”
“We’re doing good. Dr. Bratney has been keeping an eye on the baby. Mom and child are healthy so far. Then again, Bridget has been craving carrots and sliced cucumbers ever since she found out she was pregnant.”
“Still hoping to have a girl?” Sara asked?
“Still hoping to have a girl,” Patrick responded. “Let Laura know where you want to go.”
“Laura,” Sara said as she exited the ready room. “Set course for D.S. Nine, warp 5.”
“I take it we’re meeting Larned there.”
“How did you know about Larned?”
“Nothing travels faster than scuttlebutt,” Laura answered. “Aye, Lieutenant, course laid in.”
“Lieutenant,” Sara Jackson said as she entered the Warroom, “have you downloaded the logs of the Larned?”
“Still working on it,” Sarah Allison replied. “The Larned‘s data link is a bit slower than most.”
“While we’re waiting for the data to come in, you think you can help me interview Captain Olmstead?”
“Sure thing,” Sarah answered. “Is this the first time you’ve taken the lead in a JAG investigation?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Enter,” Captain Olmstead said as the doorbell chimed.
The investigation team entered the room, “I’m Lieutenant Sara Jackson, JAG officer assigned to the Baldwin. ” Sara motioned to acknowledge her accomplice, “This is Lieutenant Sarah Allison, astrometrics officer and data compiler for this investigation.”
“Lieutenant,” the captain said as he greeted Lieutenant Allison.
“Why don’t we get started,” Sara continued. “Could you please describe the events that lead to the incident with the Ronax.”
“We were on a patrol run in the Bryma sector. Our sensors indicated an anomaly in our vicinity, so we dropped to impulse to investigate.”
“What kind of anomaly?”
“Tachyon readings were off the map. It could have been a ship with a cloaking device that is improperly installed or malfunctioning. It turned out to be the latter.”
“What happened next?”
“When we discovered the Romulans decloaking, we immediately hailed them to see if they needed any assistance. They blew up before we could get an answer.”
“Thank you for your time. We’ll let you know what we find out.”
“Good morning,” the JAG officer stated as she entered the Astrometic warroom.
“Good morning,” Sarah Allison replied. “I’ve just had a look at the sensor logs. Right now, they seem to confirm Captain Olmstead’s story. Here’s the sensor reading as of Stardate 53649.975 – about 4 minutes before the Romulan ship exploded. The tachyon surge was first detected at this point: 250,000 kilometers almost in line and due to port.”
“Continue,” Sara Jackson stated. Lieutenant Allison advanced the animation. “It’s clear that the tachyon surge is moving at ship speed. Go ahead and pause this here.” The JAG officer took a look at the timeframe, “Stardate 53649.977 – so, in about a minute, the surge has moved towards the Larned with respect to Captain Olmstead’s course, and the Larned has taken an investigative stance.”
“Exactly,” Sarah continued. “By the time we hit 981, the surge has closed to within 20,000 kilometers.”
“And thirty seconds later – at 982 – the surge becomes a decloaking vessel. What was the Ronax‘s apparent course?”
“Based on the direction she was heading at the time, the best guess is along the shipping lane to the Cardassia system.”
“Looks like mostly duranium and dilithium. Sound like standard raw materials for the Cardassian rebuilding.”
“What apparently caused the ship to explode?”
“I’m not sure; however, since the Romulans use an artificial quantum singularity to power their warp core. It doesn’t appear to be due to problems with quantum singularities.”
“That’s something we can eliminate. Looks like it’s time to take the next step – Jackson to bridge: Laura, set course for the incident site, warp 7.”
“Bridge to Lieutenant Jackson: Hey Sara, we’re at the remains of Ronax.”
“On my way.”
“Donna, we need a thorough scan of the wreckage.”
“I’m on it.”
“Captain,” Kristy said, “There’s a vessel decloaking. It’s a Romulan Warbird. We’ve got company.”
“Makes perfect sense. Open a channel.”
“Channel open,” Donna answered.
“This is Captain Patrick Ingrum of USS Baldwin. What gives us the pleasure of your presence?”
“This is the Commander Kirmara. The Ronax was the property of the Romulan Star Empire. We demand the right to investigate why our vessel was destroyed.“
“We do not wish to impede you; however, as one of our ships witnessed the Ronax in our territory, Starfleet has some jurisdiction over the matter and is launching its own investigation. We would be more than happy to pool our efforts with yours and assist you in capturing the responsible party.”
“Any information that you have would be appreciated. We’re transmitting the Ronax‘s cargo manifest.”
“That’s very kind of you. I’ll make sure my JAG officer receives your manifest.”
“What were you saying about me?” Sara asked as she exited the turbolift.
“The Romulans are willing to give us a copy of the Ronax manifest.”
“Thank you. I’m Lieutenant Sara Jackson, Starfleet Judge Advocate General office. Hopefully, the manifest will be able to help us out in our investigations. We’ll be sure to send your government a copy of our investigation.”
“That would be very much appreciated. Kirmara out.”
“That was a surprise,” Sara commented. “Who am I to turn information down from the Romulans?”
“Hey, sweetie,” Patrick said as he entered his quarters.
“Hi,” Bridget answered as she wrapped her arms around her husband. “How was your day?”
“The Romulans decided to pay us a visit. They gave Sara a copy of the Ronax manifest.”
“Maybe they’re just trying to be nice, considering that they are in our territory. I saw Dr. Bratney today.”
“What did he have to say?”
“The baby is doing all right. The doctor is saying it’s a girl — and a fairly active one at that.”
“Sounds like she takes after her mother.”
“Since you were so keen on naming your little girl, are you going to let me in on what her name will be.”
Judge Advocate’s Log, Stardate 53655.2: I have reviewed the manifest from the Romulans. I have found a discrepancy that is very much disturbing.
“Are you sure about those findings?” Sara asked.
“I’m sure,” Lieutenant Allison replied. “There’s absolutely no sign of what you’re looking for.”
“Sara, Sarah,” Patrick said as he walked into the warroom. “You wanted to see me?”
“I think we’ve got a problem,” Sara Jackson answered. “According to this manifest, Ronax was carrying 30 tons of refined Kemocite.”
“Did you check to see if the explosion was caused by the Kemoicite.”
“First thing we checked,” Sarah Allison answered. “There’s no sign of any residue from a kemocite explosion, nor signs that the Kemocite was incinerated.”
“In fact,” Sara continued, “there’s no sign that the kemocite was aboard when Ronax exploded.”
“That is a problem,” Patrick commented. “The Romulans won’t be happy about this.”
“You think?” Sarah added. “Starfleet Intelligence reports that Kemocite smuggling has been on the rise. The Orion Syndicate is rumored to be paying a lot of latinum for good kemocite.”
“If the Syndicate had hijacked the Romulans’ kemocite. I’m sure both the Federation and the Romulans would be interested in throwing the book at them.”
“We’re going to need some inside information to bust this one,” Sarah commented.
“Any ideas, captain?”
“I know someone at D.S. Nine that may be able to give us a lead; however, we won’t be going that way for a while. Miss Allison, isn’t the Wasp at D.S. Nine for a maintenance check and shore leave.”
“That’s right. The engineering crew over there need some time to look over how the recent refit helped them out.”
“I’ve got an idea. Miss Jackson, if you can contact your friend, I’ll get a hold of Colonel Kira and Admiral Bennett and let them know what we’re up to.”
“By the way,” Sarah inquired, “How’s Bridget doing?”
“She went to see Dr. Bratney yesterday,” Patrick answered. “She’s doing good, and so is Tiana.”
“Just curious,” Sara added, “why did you pick ‘Tiana’ for your daughter’s name?”
“Well, Miss Jackson, it was my grandmother’s name. She was the youngest sibling and the only girl in the family. When her parents found out they were having a girl, they consulted a baby name book. They picked ‘Tiana’ out of the book because it meant ‘princess.’ Incidentally, I understand ‘Sarah’ also has a similar meaning. I suppose they picked ‘Tiana’ instead because ‘Sarah’ – with or without the ‘h’ – is a much more common name.”
“With both myself and Lieutenant Allison already part of the crew, I understand why you might want to pass over that name. No matter what her name is, I’m sure she’ll be the ship’s princess when all is said and done,” Sara quipped. “Although she may not be the youngest forever.”
“Hello,” Quark said as a dark-haired lady entered the bar, “What can I get for you?”
“I’m looking for the proprietor of this establishment,” Katia answered.
“You’ve found him. My name is Quark.”
“Hannah, Hannah Coltrane.”
“Pleased to meet you, Miss Coltrane. What can I do for you?”
“I understand that you have a little side business going. I was wondering if you knew anyone who would be willing to deal ‘under the table'”
“Perhaps we should discuss this in the back.”
“Good Idea,” ‘Hannah’ answered. She followed Quark into a back room. “I’ve got 12 tons of raw kemocite I need to unload. I’ve got a way to transport it, but I’m sure you understand I’ve got to unload it quickly.”
“The last time I dealt with kemocite, I got burnt dealing with primitive 20th Century humans. My assistance will not come cheap.”
“How does 15 percent of my proceeds sound to you?”
“How about 30 percent.”
“Deal,” Katia stated. “One-Quarter of the proceeds it is.”
“That is correct, Commander,” Sara said as she was talking to someone on the other end of her viewscreen. “Yes, I’m aware of the implications of our situation.” The Doorbell chimed to interrupt the JAG officer’s conversation. “Enter,” she stated. Patrick entered the doorway into Sara’s office. “Sir, this is not a good time. The Romulans are on my ass about the missing kemocite. They are going to blame us if their Kemocite is used against them.”
“Don’t fret about the Romulans. We’ll get to the bottom of this.”
“Did you manage to get the bait?”
“Yeah. The Kemocite I got a hold of is low-grade, but it looks like the syndicate has ways of possibly refining it for use as a weapon. If ‘Hannah Coltrane’ convinces Quark to help her unload the stuff, then I’ll have to make sure it gets to D.S. Nine without it looking like it’s coming from us. I’m having Karen send us a fighter from the Ticonderoga.”
“Bridge to the Captain,” Jaimie’s voice interrupted Patrick’s conversation
“Go ahead, number one.”
“We just had a small vessel off to starboard. It’s a small fighter.”
“We’ve been expecting it. Place the fighter in Shuttlebay two.”
“This is it?” Sara asked as she and Patrick entered shuttle bay 2.
“Yep,” Patrick answered as he approached the vessel. “One Ju’Day-class fighter/cargo shuttle slightly dinged from fighting in the Dominion War. Before we can send it to D.S. Nine, we need it to look like it’s a private vessel.”
“In other words, we have to remove the Starfleet markings.”
“There’s also the issue of what shall we call her. For some reason, Canyon Diablo has a nice ring to it.”
“You’ve given it more thought than I would have. Let’s not waste any time, Canyon Diablo has a job to do.”
The doorbell rang in the quarters assigned to Katia under her alias. “Come in,” ‘Hannah’ said. “I hope I’m not bothering you this morning,” Quark answered.
“Not if you’ve found a buyer.”
“It seems that that doesn’t appear to be a problem. I have an offer for 3 bricks of latinum per ton for unrefined kemocite. I haven’t seen prices this high in ages.”
“I’ll assume that you’ve already arranged for a sale.”
“I have, assuming you have a ship.”
“Where and when?”
“1500, in the badlands.”
“Better pack a lunch then. You are coming with me, right?”
“Do I have a choice?”
“For an easy 12 bricks, you had better. Meet me on shuttle pad ‘D’ in 2 hours.”
“Hey there,” Sara said as she peeked into the engine room.
“Hello, Lieutenant,” Bridget replied.
“How are you doing?”
“My feet are killing me and my favorite uniform no longer fits, but other than that, I’m doing fine.”
“How far along are you?”
“About 20 weeks.”
“How’s the baby?”
“She’s doing fine. I still don’t know who’s more excited about having a daughter, me, or Patrick.”
“I was surprised at first when Patrick mentioned having a little girl. Now, it seems that the captain is glowing over the fact, probably more so than mom,” Sara answered jokingly.
“Allison to Lieutenant Jackson,” Sarah Allison stated over the intercom. “There’s an encrypted message coming in from D.S. Nine, it’s Katia.“
“I’m down in Engineering. I’ll look at it here.” A text message appeared on one of the engineering monitors. “It looks like Quark has already found a buyer.”
“Someone must really want that kemocite really bad.”
“Whoever it is, we need to find out before they hijack another shipment.”
“Sounds like a time for covert surveillance. The cloak is online and ready to roll.”
“Something tells me we are going to need it. Jackson to bridge: Laura, set course for the badlands, warp 5, and prepare to engage the cloak.”
Katia and Quark waited in the badlands for their contact to arrive. “Right on time. I’ll take it, for one thing, Quark: they’re punctual,” Katia commented. “This is Hannah Coltrane, operator of the vessel Canyon Diablo.”
Katia and Quark were both surprised when someone beamed into the cockpit. “I assume that the Kemocite is in your cargo hold. Do you mind if I inspect it.”
“Go right ahead,”
The buyer entered the cargo hold to inspect the merchandise. “Everything appears to be in order,” she said as she reached for a communicator. “This is Malina: The kemocite checks out. You may transport when ready.” The Kemocite was promptly beamed out, and payment was beamed in.
Katia promptly inspected the latinum. “This is awfully generous of you.”
“My organization utilizes Kemocite in the energy generator. Unfortunately, certain parties have made acquisition of Kemocite difficult. Speaking of which, Starfleet has been making our movements difficult ever since the incident with the Romulan ship. We have got to run. Ciao.”
“Did you notice anything unusual about her?” Katia asked Quark as Malina beamed out.
“Not particularly,” Quark replied with his mouth agape.
Beeps interrupted Katia’s train of thought. “We’ve got a vessel decloaking off to our starboard.”
“Is it Romulan?”
“No. It’s worse,” Katia answered as she ship rocked slightly. “We’ve been tractored. Hang on.”
“Can’t you break free?”
“Not a chance.” The Canyon Diablo slowly landed in a shuttle bay. “Now what?”
“Now,” Patrick answered as he entered the ship. “You pay the price for your transgressions. Lieutenant Ch’lar, please escort these two to sickbay, and hold them there until further notice.”
“Sickbay!” Quark protested. “Why are you taking me to your sickbay?”
“Because,” Patrick retorted, “exposure to Orion females may be hazardous to your health.”
“I have to wonder, how did Captain Ingrum learn where we are, and how did he know that an Orion woman was on board.”
“I’ll explain in good time,” Patrick replied as he entered sickbay. “First, Doctor, are these two in good health?”
“They’re doing fine.”
“Well then, Quark, I would like to introduce you to Lieutenant Katia Leigh.”
“Nice to meet you. So, I take it you wanted to pinpoint the source of the demand for kemocite and needed me to do your dirty work. What do I get out of the deal?”
“Our eternal gratitude, and 12 bricks of gold-pressed latinum.”
“So,” Katia asked, “Where do we go from here?”
“Fortunately, kemocite can be made so that you can trace it without the other person knowing about it.”
“I take it you have done this to the batch you gave your Lieutenant.”
“You’re catching on. We’ll take you back to D.S. Nine, but don’t talk about it to anyone. Ensign, show him his guest quarters.”
“How does an Orion woman like Malina get involved in the syndicate.”
“Orion women are the syndicate,” Patrick answered. “Some Orion females are far from shy about using their sexual prowess to get what they want. Most of the time, they tend to play the ‘puppet master’ role. For Malina to be directly involved indicates this is serious.”
“What do we do now.”
“I believe that your friend and JAG officer may hold the key to the solution.”
“Hello, ladies,” Patrick said as he entered the warroom, “what’s the news?”
“Well,” Sara Jackson replied, “I’m not 100 percent certain that we can be able to catch Malina’s ship. Miss Allison, it’s your show.”
“The Orions are taking a course that straddles the border of Federation territory,” Sarah Allison stated.
“They are tending to stay in unclaimed space, but where they cut across Federation space, the patrols are well out of sensor range.”
“In other words, they know where to cut a few corners. Perhaps we should give her a few surprises.”
“How soon can we get Canyon Diablo back out there?”
“Just as soon as I can get a cloak installed,” Patrick answered. “I don’t want Katia to go on an observation mission without a duck blind.”
“Good idea,” Sara answered. “The last thing I want to happen is to lose Katia.”
Patrick and Katia entered the Canyon Diablo‘s cockpit. “Before I send you to follow the Orions, I need to let you know about a few additional features,” Patrick explained the operation of the cloaking device.
“That should be very helpful,” Katia replied.
“I would think so. Good luck, and just in case anything goes wrong, I’ve got the candid camera going.”
“I’ll try to keep the fighter in one piece.”
As soon as Patrick left the cockpit, Katia opened a communication channel. “Baldwin, this is Lieutenant Leigh. I’m ready to depart whenever you’re ready.”
“Canyon Diablo, you’re ready to roll.”
“Thank you, Leigh out.”
The fighter promptly exited Baldwin‘s shuttle bay and turned toward the Orion ship’s flight path before engaging the cloak.
“My lady,” one of the Orion males stated to Malina, “I’m picking up an unusual chronometric disturbance.”
“We cannot take any chances. Fire torpedoes.” The Orion ship promptly fired a round of photon torpedoes, revealing a cloaked ship. “I have no problems taking out a Romulan Warbird. Fire quantum torpedoes on the weapons and warp nacelles.”
“The Orions have disabled our cloaking device.”
“Raise shields,” Commander Kirmara ordered.
“Unfortunately, the Orions have also taken out our shields and weapons.”
“Let’s see what they want.”
“The Romulans are hailing us.”
“Transmit standard signal 1.”
“Commander, I am getting an odd response.”
“This is the Orion vessel M’rossa. Stand down and prepare to be boarded. We will destroy your vessel without mercy should you fail to surrender.“
“There’s another ship decloaking. It’s a Federation fighter.”
“Computer, what’s the status of the Romulans.”
“The Romulan Ship has been disabled. Shields and weapons are offline.”
“In that case, lock on to the Orion vessel. Target shields and weapons.”
The M’rossa rocked as it took phaser fire. “I thought you said you disabled their weapons.”
“Another vessel has shown up. It’s the Canyon Diablo. We may have fallen into a Starfleet trap.”
“Make a run for it, warp 9. We can’t afford to lose this load, no matter who is involved.”
“Commander, we’re being hailed by the Starfleet ship.”
“Something tells me that you need a little help. The Orions can run, but they can’t hide from me that easily.“
The Canyon Diablo entered the Romulan ship’s shuttle bay. “What’s your status?”
“Our shields and weapons are disabled, and our cloaking device is gone.”
“What about warp drive.”
“We can catch them, but without the cloak, they will most likely finish the job they started.”
“Go ahead and take another look at your cloak, we’re going to need it. By the way, my name is Lieutenant Katia Leigh, I’m attached to the Ronax investigation.”
“Good morning, Lieutenant,” Sara Jackson said as she entered the Warroom.
“Hello, ma’am,” Sarah Allison replied. “I’ve got a status report from Lieutenant Leigh. A Romulan warbird had gotten in the path of the Orions, no casualties, except perhaps for Commander Kirmara’s pride.”
“Did Katia stop to render assistance.”
“Yes, she did. In addition, the Romulans lost their cloaking device. She’s rendering as much aid as she can, they have warp drive and are pursuing.”
“I think we’ve got enough to help the Romulans to prosecute the case, we may as well lend them a hand to catch them. Tell Katia to do whatever it takes to apprehend the Orions.”
“Commander Kirmara,” Katia stated, “Lieutenant Jackson has ordered me to assist you in any way to capture the Orions.”
“We are in no condition to lead an assault on the Orions,” Kirmara replied.
“You’re expecting shields and weapons will be back online by the time we catch up to them, correct?” Katia inquired.
“That is correct; however, we have double-checked the cloaking device. It is beyond repair. We will need to have it replaced.”
“I believe you noticed that my ship is equipped with a cloaking device. I wouldn’t be following my orders if I didn’t offer it.”
“How soon can you have it installed?”
“Captain Ingrum told me that the shuttle’s cloak was compatible with your Romulan counterpart. It should easily be hot-swapped.”
“Please proceed with installing your cloak. Kirmara to bridge: set course to intercept the Orion ship. Keep us out of their sensor range until the cloak is online.”
“The Romulans have apparently decided to follow us again. I’m picking up the chronometric disturbance.”
“Tactical,” Malina ordered, “you may fire at will.”
The Orion ship fired several torpedoes in the general direction of the detected anomaly. The torpedoes passed through the warbird, with only a blue spark indicating the presence of the phase-cloaked ship.
“Looks like the phase unit passes with flying colors,” Katia commented.
“Prepare to decloak just outside their weapons range.”
“It appears that the Romulans have a phasing cloak. The weapons have no effect.”
“That new cloaking device would be a fine prize, don’t you think?” Malina asked the tactical officer.
“Yes, my lady.”
“In that case, as soon as they drop the cloak — and I’m certain that they will — we need to hit them with everything we got.”
“The Orions have phasers and torpedoes locked and ready.”
“They’re probably going to open fire as soon as we decloak,” Katia noted, “I’d suggest that you prepare to activate shields and weapons as soon as we drop the cloak.”
“I concur,” Kirmara replied. “Disengage the cloak. Raise shields and charge disrupters.”
“The Romulans have pulled out of weapons range.”
“Move in and fire all weapons.”
The Orion vessel quickly fired a burst of torpedoes, which was followed with several phaser shots. “Shields are holding at 85%,” the Romulan weapons officer noted.
“Return Fire,” Kirmara ordered. “Target weapons and engines. I’d prefer to take them alive.” The Warbird subsequently fired its disrupters at M’Rossa‘s main weapons. After several direct hits, Kirmara motioned to her communications officer, “Open a channel to the Orion vessel.” The Communications officer nodded to indicate the open line. “This is Commander Kirmara of the Romulan Star Empire. You stand accused of piracy, willful destruction of a Romulan vessel, and smuggling of a controlled substance. Your shields and weapons have been weakened. Surrender your vessel and standby to be boarded.”
Captain’s Log, Stardate 53676.1: The Romulans have taken the Orions prisoner and are proceeding to Romulus for trial. The work of the special team assigned to the investigation performed admirably.
“Lieutenant,” Patrick said as he approached Katia.
“Yes, sir,” Katia answered.
“I’d thought I’d let you know how much I appreciated your assistance in the investigation. I certainly will put in a few good words with Captain Ramsey.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Just one more thing,” Patrick continued. “I’ve got a little present for you.” He presented to her a package.
Katia opened the box to reveal a black flag with a human skull imprinted across a pair of crossed bones. “I don’t get it, sir.”
“Back in the early days of submarine warfare on Earth, a British official thought the use of submarines was akin to piracy. The submariners answered by flying the traditional ‘Jolly Roger’ pirate flag after scoring a hit against the enemy. As s symbol of stealth and skill, the Jolly Roger was flown after successful action by British submarines in the 20th and early 21st centuries.”
“And, since I was involved a successful action involving a cloaking device, I’ve earned a Jolly Roger of my own.”
“Something like that.”
“In that case, I’m glad I’m could help you out.”