Storm Front

Captain’s Log, Stardate 52069: In the last four months, we’ve started taking the offensive. We’ve taken the Chin’toka system, and have knocked the Dominion out of much of our pre-war territory. Still, I’d feel a lot better the sooner this war is over.

“You wanted to see me, Patrick?” Andrea asked as she entered Patrick’s ready room.

Patrick replied with small talk. “How have things been going with Nimitz?”

“I’m doing well,” Andrea replied.

“Good,” Patrick answered. “I’ve been talking to Starfleet Command lately. They agree that you’ve been doing a fine job, but they also feel that your uniform is a tad out of order.” Patrick paused to allow Andrea to interpret his words before presenting a fourth rank pip. “For exceptional service in the line of duty, I hereby promote you to the rank of Captain. Congratulations, Andrea, you have shown yourself as an excellent commanding officer.”

“Thank you, Patrick,” Andrea replied.

“Also, I have a little decoration for your ready room,” Patrick continued as he pulled out a plaque. “For your quick thinking in the middle of the battle and devising a maneuver using Ottawa‘s multi-vector assault mode along with Nimitz, I have the pleasure of presenting you with the Grankite Order of Tactics.”

“Not to mention your eternal gratitude for saving your skin,” Andrea quipped.

“That, too.”

“Might I ask what you want with one of our ships?” Weyoun asked.

Khan was a very good strategic planner for the Dominion. He devised the plan to take Betazed and Benzar. Even though the Federation has made inroads into Khan’s strategy, the Dominion has held its own, keeping the founders out of harm’s way. “There is one man that has beaten me that is still alive. I want revenge. I want him to have an unhappy birthday.”

“All right, but how do you plan on getting to him.”

“I don’t,” Khan replied. “I expect him to come to me.”

“The founders would be willing to spare you two ships, as long as you bring them back in one piece.”

“I understand,” Khan replied.

“0300 — Stephanie, anything going on out there?” Jaimie inquired.

“Nothing on sens — hold on, I see a disturbance in section 165.”

“The Nimitz is a lot closer: Baldwin to Nimitz, are you seeing the same thing. Stephanie, set course for the Nimitz.”

As Stephanie entered the course into the ship computer, Patrick stepped off the turbolift door. “Stephanie, set course for the Nimitz and engage at maximum warp.”

“Something wrong, Sir?”

“I don’t know, but I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

Andrea had been knocked out briefly, awaking dazed and confused. “Report,” she said.

“Most of our major systems have been rebooted,” Betsy replied, “It appears we were out for 5 minutes. The Baldwin is right off our port bow, and they’re hailing us.

“On Screen.”

What the heck happened, Andrea.

“I wish I knew. All I remember is seeing this blinding white light. The next thing I remember was waking up in my chair.”

Patrick was all-too familiar with the technique, “Is Katy there?

“Riffin to Cassoday — Katy, are you there,” there was no response. “Computer, locate Commander Cassoday.”

“Commander Cassoday is not aboard,” the Nimitz‘s computer answered.

Andrea was surprised at the computer’s answer, but Patrick showed a look of gloom.

“Reinette, do you know what’s going on in Shuttlebay 1?” Karen inquired as she stepped onto the main bridge.

“I’m afraid Patrick is leaving me in the dark about it, too. All I know is that he’s been in there most of his waking hours. It’s his prerogative.”

“I know, but what is he planning? It’s been three days since Katy disappeared. I would expect him to be investigating what happened, but so far nothing has been turned up, although I expect he may shed some light on this at the staff meeting,” Karen continued as she and Reinette entered the conference lounge.

After everyone was seated, Patrick started the meeting, “All right, I’m guessing the first thing on you mind is ‘what am I doing to find Katy.’ The answer is, I know where to find Katy, getting her back is the tricky part. As you heard, Andrea reported a blinding light. As I have gone through this, I feel this is the same type of attack that plagued the Baldwin nearly seven months ago.”

“Are you saying that the Dominion is involved?” Karen asked.

“No, I am saying that Khan is involved,” Patrick replied. “I managed to beat him fair and square, and he, to put it mildly, is holding a grudge.”

“What does this have to do with Commander Cassoday?” Gloria inquired.

“A message from Khan saying that it’s personal, Miss Dawson. I guess I have to explain. I’ve known Katy for about 10 years. We met when Anna was up in Minneapolis for a basketball competition. Katy’s older sister Susan was doing a story on the competition for the school newspaper. I was doing the holo-imaging for her, and Katy was at her side. Since she was a sister of my colleague, I wanted to be nice and introduced myself, told her she was cute and asked if the two sisters could pose for a picture for me. Turns out she loved to be photographed. Even more so, Katy and I had what I would definitely call a strong chemistry. I remember how she once said that I could always put a smile on her face.”

“So,” Reinette noted, “Khan thinks that by swiping Katy, he’s going to convince you to confront him.”

“Yes, and he’s damn right about it too. I want to make it clear, I am going alone. I’ve secured two weeks of shore leave. If I’m not back by the end of my leave, I want you to search this area for any remains of Neosho.

“Are you sure we can’t convince you not to do this alone?” Bridget inquired

“I’m afraid not,” Patrick said to his friend. “Tell Reinette to take care of the Baldwin and to take care of herself too.”

“I will,”

“And relay this to the crew: I care for them. And I care about you too, Bridget. I will be back” Patrick continued as he reached to give Bridget a hug.

“You must really care for Katy to do this for her. Would you do if it were one of us?”

“I probably would, but I think Khan knew where to hit me the hardest.”

“Patrick,” Jaimie announced over the intercom, “you have an incoming call from the Ottawa.”

“That’s probably Susan — I’ll take it down here, JP.”

“Patrick,” Susan started as she appeared on a viewer aboard the Neosho, “I heard you were going to go after Katy.”

“That’s right. Katy’s all right for now — It’s me that Khan is after.”

“How do you know Khan is out for you.”

“Because I fought him directly and won. Knowing Khan’s history, to him, it is intolerable.”

“That makes sense,” Susan responded. “Take care of yourself, and be careful”

“Understood,” Patrick said. “I’ll keep myself in one piece, and bring back our lost sheep. I’ll see you 2 weeks. Baldwin, Neosho: I’m ready to go.”

“Acknowledged,” Gloria responded, “And Rich, we love you too. Don’t get yourself killed.”

“Thanks, Gloria. I’ll keep that in mind,”

Patrick engaged the thrusters to full power. As the small runabout departed the shuttlebay and moved away from the ship, Patrick looked back, “Now,” Patrick commented, “the fun begins.” Patrick looked ahead to the stars that lay before him and selected the one where he had faced Khan before. “Computer,” Patrick said, “Engage cloak.”

Captain’s Personal Log, stardate 52081.3: I am now approaching the planet where I have encountered Khan before. He told me this this matter is personal — believe me, it is.

Patrick dressed in his camouflage outfit as the Neosho landed in the mountain field. As Patrick stepped out of the runabout, he thought about the friends he made during his nine years in service to Starfleet as well as the ones he has held onto for longer than that. There is no way, Patrick thought to himself, that he was gonna let some 20th Century nut case mess with him or his friends. You want me, Khan, you’ve got me; Patrick thought to himself; just leave my friends out of this. Patrick was emotionally charged as he approached the compound. There were no Jem’Hadar soldiers in sight, even on Patrick’s infrared scanner, but Patrick was taking no chances. He stealthily approached the front gate and slipped in. “Khan,” Patrick said, “you wanted me, you’ve got me. Now, where are you.”

A familiar voice boomed through the speakers of the compound, “Mr. Ingrum,” Khan replied, “I have been waiting for you.”

“Where’s Katy,” Patrick demanded.

A Jem’Hadar arrived with a tied-down Katy at his side. “As you can see,” Khan replied, “your little friend is all right. The question is — will you be?” Khan appeared from out the door of a nearby building.

“If you’re trying to push my buttons, you’re hitting them squarely at the bullseye,” Patrick replied.

“I see that you have not underestimated me,” Khan replied. “I’ll try not to underestimate you. I haven’t won a good, clean, old fashioned fight in over 300 years. I may be a little I rusty, but I’m certain that I am still superior to you in every way.”

“If that’s all this is about,” Patrick replied, “then I certainly would be willing to take you on,”

“Patrick, don’t —”

“If you value your friend as much as he values you, I would suggest that you stay out of this.”

“All right, then — what are the stipulations.”

“You simply have to be the last one standing to win. If I win” Khan replied, “You’ll have to watch your dear Katy die before you do.”

“And if I win,” Patrick followed “you have to let us go. Also, I don’t want anyone — not even Katy — to interfere with this match.”

“Are you sure that’s wise,” Katy commented.

“You’re enough of an inspiration just being here,” Patrick said. “I may be protecting both our lives, but be assured that this man is not after you — he’s after me.”

“Very well. We shall start…. right now.” Khan immediately went to work on Patrick, making swift kicks to Patrick’s midsection that Patrick was only partially able to block. Khan went for a punch to the head, but Patrick ducked. Another punch — he got him. A Vorta came out to administer the count — if Patrick doesn’t stand up by the time the Vorta reaches the count of five, Patrick’s torture would just be beginning. One, two — Patrick gets up.

Patrick attempted to bring some offensive momentum into his favor. Patrick swiftly delivered several kicks to the midsection. Patrick lured him out of the compound and into an open field as a small thunderstorm began. He dodged Khan’s blows and got kept going for his abdomen.

“I did not expect you to be this difficult to take down,” Khan noted.

“I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I did want to raise your expectations and put a solid effort.” Patrick dropped his guard for a moment, allowing Khan a few free shots. “I haven’t dropped my guard yet,” he said as he grabbed a stick and began using it as a weapon. Khan moved back until he was up against — what appeared to him to be nothing. He felt it, but couldn’t see it. By the Time Khan could find his way around the cloaked obstruction, Patrick has bolted several kicks and stick jabs. Patrick planted one last kick to the head, knocking him down.

“One — Two — three — four — five” the Vorta counted as the rain began to fall. “I am sure that the founders would not like the idea, but I will honor Mr. Khan’s agreement. You have fought well.”

“It’s more of strategic thinking than luck. Computer, uncloak,” a wet but relieved Patrick said as his runabout became visible. “Katy, let’s go home.”