Patrick was in the shuttlebay with Dorian. They were cleaning out the bay in anticipation of adding fighters, should Patrick’s plan to have fighter patrols in the Aloran system. “So, Miss Collins, how much do you know about fighters?”
“I helped maintain the Red Squad training craft. I did get some training before the Valiant went out. Being the youngest cadet among the group, I didn’t get much seat time.”
“You had more seat time at the academy than I did. Hell, I never touched a fighter until I served on the Hastings.”
“Really,” Dorian replied.
“Yeah. It’s a bit of a story, but I was a quick study and did fairly well my first time out.” Seeing that Dorian was interested in hearing more, Patrick told his story.
USS Hastings — Stardate 49901.5
“Permission to come aboard.” Patrick stated, entering his new assignment.
“Permission Granted,” replied the captain of the USS Hastings. “Welcome aboard, Commander.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Captain Belding spoke very highly of you. She felt that you would make a fine XO. Since your Starfleet record shows that you never had any flight time, I would suggest that you get particularly acquainted with our flight crew. This ship has a complement of fighters, and we keep a CAP in flight at all times.”
“Understood, Sir,” Patrick answered. “I am available anytime the flight team is ready for me.”
“They are ready now, if you like,” the captain answered as he escorted Patrick to the shuttlebay.
When Patrick entered the shuttlebay of the Hastings, his eyes widened. He had been used to the Kitty Hawk‘s relatively small shuttlebay. Fighter craft routinely entered from the rear of the vessel, while launches occur on the forward section.
“Commander,” said the captain, “meet the head of patrol operations.” Patrick introduced himself by stating his name.
“Nice to meet you, sir. I’m Lieutenant Johnathan Bucyrus. I make sure our CAPs are out there watching out for the Klingons.”
“Our new XO is a little green when it comes to fighters, so you might need to get him up to speed.”
“Will do, sir,” Johnathan replied as the captain excused himself. “As you can see, we carry several fighters aboard. These are Peregrine-class fighters. Those outside the fighter corps have been calling them ‘Maquis raiders’ now, but the truth is, these fighters are one of the most reliable fighters out there. The Maquis have been refitting civilian vessels.”
Before Patrick could comment, a message came in over the intercom “Bulldog, Moondance: I’m coming in.“
“Roger that, Moondance. Is that Bogey still out there,” Johnathan answered.
“Affirmative. It’s like they’re standing still.”
“A bogey in the same place?” Patrick inquired.
“We’re not sure if it’s a sensor ghost or a cloaked ship, but we’ve been picking up some unusual sensor readings.”
“Who’s next out?” Patrick inquired.
“Looks like ‘Gonzo’ is out next. What are you thinking?”
“I’d like to have a closer look at that sensor ghost,” Patrick replied.
“In that case, I think I’d better tag along. ‘Gonzo’ is pretty green, and he’s been known to get into a little trouble.”
“Bridge to Captain,” came the announcement from the intercom.
“Go ahead, number one,” Patrick answered.
“We’re picking up a bogey on sensors,” Jaimie replied.
“Actually, it appears to be a smaller vessel, maybe a fighter.”
“In that case, we’d better follow up. Pursuit course.”
As Patrick left the shuttlebay, Bridget entered. Patrick paused briefly to give his wife a peck on the cheek before exiting. “It’s looking good,” Bridget noted.
“Thank You,” Dorian answered. “Patrick was talking about how he was green in regards to fighter operations. I hear that you never went to the academy.”
“I was commissioned as an engineer and learned everything I know aboard this ship.”
“Do you think you would have problems adopting to a different ship.”
“Probably not. I’m pretty adept ad adapting to my situation. I suppose you heard that I wasn’t born as much as created.”
“Yes, and that you have six sisters. I know about Roslyn, what ever happened to the other five?”
“I have no idea, but I’ve been hoping they contact me.”
Torros II -Stardate 49901.6
Number Seven entered the quarters she shared with her sisters. “Any word on Roslyn,”
“Negative,” came the reply from one of her older siblings. ‘Number Five,’ as she was called, was slightly taller than Seven, and had chocolate-brown hair and matching eyes. Like all of Dr. Murrow’s ‘daughters,’ she had an hourglass figure that was difficult to conceal. “Last I heard, she was on the starship Tien An Men with her new beau.”
“I hear that the Cardassians will try to get her back.”
“I don’t see how they could,” said another girl with honey-blond hair and cobalt blue eyes. “Between the Maquis and the Klingons, the Cardassians are in a hole. Unless some wild card comes into play, the Cardassians are on the verge of collapse.”
“What do you think that means for us, Four?” asked Five.
“It means that we find a planet out of the way and we live our simple lives the best we can. Despite Roslyn finding a place in Starfleet, I don’t think all of us could find a place in the Federation.”
“What makes you think that?” inquired Seven.
“There’s a bit of a stigma against people like us,” Four answered. “The steps that the Cardassians and Dr. Murrow took to create us are illegal in the Federation. There are restrictions on the occupations that us ‘augments’ can do.”
Number Seven offered a counterpoint. “They let Roslyn into Starfleet, so clearly they will make an exception from time to time. I mean, we didn’t ask to be ten times stronger than an average human. They made us that way for their own reasons.”
“Fair enough,” Number Five noted. “Although, I think that if you went up to a Starfleet officer and told him that you were an augment, he wouldn’t give you the time of day. I’m with Four, I’d rather live and let live, don’t even mess with Starfleet. Of course, if you can find someone in Starfleet that would take you in, you can give it a try. We’re not going to try to stop you.”
“You’re on,” Seven answered. “Ten slips of latinum says I would be accepted by a Starfleet Officer even if he knew my secret.”
Number Five shook hands with Seven. “Deal. I’ll give you another 10 if Roz reveals her secret to her boyfriend and doesn’t get dumped.”
Patrick watched as a fighter entered the shuttle bay. “Moondance, Bulldog. I hope you don’t mind, but I need to borrow your fighter. Our new XO wants to check out our bogey himself.”
“Acknowledged, Bulldog, keep her in one piece.“
As ‘Moondance’ set down, Patrick noticed the pilot’s name printed on the cockpit. Something tells me, Patrick thought, I’ll be right at home.
The pilot stepped out and approached Patrick and Johnathan. “So, you’re the new XO,” she stated.
“Guilty as charged,” Patrick answered. “Good to see you too, Sonya.”
“You two know each other?” Johnathan asked.
“We grew up in the same town and went to the academy together.”
“So, are you on speaking terms with Jenna yet?”
“She’s still on the Intrepid, right?”
“Yeah. She’s the ops manager and second officer.”
“I hate to butt in, but who’s Jenna?”
“She’s a classmate of ours,” Patrick answered. “We used to argue over who could handle a starrider better, among other things.”
“So, you have a little outside experience flying small craft. I have to wonder, are you related to Anna Ingrum.”
“Yeah, she’s my little sister.”
“I feel better already. Anna was one of the best pilots I ever worked with. Let’s get you out to see that bogey.”
Within a half hour of launch from the Hastings, Patrick got a glimpse of the area where Sonya had reported the bogey. “Gonzo, Bulldog. What are you picking up.”
“Anti-proton scans are showing the same disturbance that has been there over the past ten days.”
“Interesting,” Patrick noted. He was looking over intelligence reports for the area. “Intel is showing no signs of Klingon activity. Lieutanant, prep a dummy warhead. Gonzo, this is the XO. I’d suggest you back away from the target.”
“What are you thinking?” asked Johnathan.
“You’ll see,” Patrick answered as he loaded the target coordinates into the computer.”
“What are you trying to do, piss the Klingons off. That trajectory takes us within 100 meters of the bogey.”
“I don’t think it’s a cloaked Klingon ship,” Patrick continued. As soon as he felt Gonzo was clear, he pressed a button to fire the dummy torpedo. The torpedo flew into open space as Patrick counted the distance between the torpedo and the bogey. “1000 meters… 900… 800… 700… 600… 500… 400… 300… 200… one — ” At 100 meters, the area displayed a vibrant explosion, surprising Johnathan. “Just as I suspected, a cloaked mine — and quite possibly a red herring.”
“What makes you think that we were set up for a diversion?”
“If I wanted to mine a sector of space, I’d use as many mines as I could get my hands on, not just one mine.”
“It certainly identifies the bogey. Hastings, this is Bulldog. Bogey has been identified as a rouge mine.”
“I take it our new XO has a few things to show you, as well.”
“Indeed. We’re heading back to the ship now.”
“Status report,” Patrick inquired as he entered the main bridge.
“We picked up a bogey on sensors. Looks like we lucked out in finding it. It doesn’t seem to be sending any messages, it may be abandoned.”
“Time to intercept.”
“I want a visual, ASAP,” Patrick ordered.
“Are you thinking it’s something bad?” Jaimie asked.
“Just a few ghosts from the past,” Patrick noted.
“Visual confirmed,” Kristy noted. On the viewer, there was an image of a Peregrine-class fighter. “It’s definitely a Starfleet fighter.”
“The vessel must have been lucky. What about the pilot?”
“Life signs are negative,”
“Kristy,” Jaimie stated, “can we get a visual on the sides of the cab. Normally, the name of the pilot is noted there.”
“Maximum magnification on the cab,” Kristy said. It was clear that the ship had been scared by being adrift, as the lettering on the side of the cockpit had been blackened to the point where it was illegible.
“I can only read one word off of the side of the cockpit,” Jaimie noted. It looks like… ‘Moondance,’”
“Shuttlebay 2,” Patrick promptly called, “this is the Bridge. Prepare to receive fighter. I’m on my way.”
“Ackowledged,” Bridget answered.
“Hang on there,” Jamie said, “Would you care to explain to me what’s going on inside your head.”
“I can, while we’re walking toward the shuttlebay. Donna, you have the bridge.”
“Aye, sir,” Donna answered.
USS Hastings — Stardate 50565.7
“How’s it going,” Patrick said as he sat down next to Sonya.
“It’s going,” Sonya answered, “Our CAP flights are pretty boring.”
“That’s probably a good thing,” Patrick answered. “I don’t really care to have to engage the Klingons if I can help it. You know, I’ve been meaning to ask, how the hell did you get a call sign like ‘Moondance,’”
“One semester, I took a late afternoon dance class prior to my academy flight training. One night, the dance class let out a little late. I was just leaving the studio in my flight uniform when Bulldog noticed me coming out. For some reason, he said — “
“It’s a marvelous night for a moondance,” Johnathan finished. “Sorry if I’m interrupting.”
“Van Morrison, 1970,” Patrick stated.
“You know you’re music, ‘Starrider’. Ever the versatile XO. I’m sure you’ll be the pride of Starfleet someday.”
Before Patrick could answer, a general announcement came over the com system. “All senior staff, please report to the conference lounge.“
“It’s a little early for the latest intel update,” Patrick noted. “Must be something big. Come on, ‘Bulldog,’ we’ve got a meeting to get to.”
Patrick and Johnathan were the last ones to enter the room. Once they sat down, the captain began the impromptu meeting. “I just received word that Dominion ships have entered the Alpha Quadrant. Gul Dukat has given the Cardassian Union to them. According to intel, the Dominion has promptly chased the Klingons out of Cardassian space.”
“What does that mean for us?” asked the operations officer.
“Hopefully, it means that the Klingons are our allies again,” Patrick commented. “The last thing we need is to have the Klingons up our backs while the Jem’Hadar start to poke at us.”
“Captain Sisko has indeed convinced Chancellor Gowron to re-institute the Khitomer Accords and restore our previous alliance. In exchange, the Klingons will have a permanent presence on D.S. Nine.”
“Commander,” Patrick began his inquiry to the Chief Engineer, “How long would it take to upgrade the shields on all of our fighter craft.”
“The shield upgrades you are referring to are still experimental,” the Vulcan engineer noted. “It would not be wise to upgrade the small craft without testing to verify the durability of the new shield configuration.”
“The Dominion’s poloron weapons have been known to be extremely effective against our shields,” Patrick counter-argued. “Currently, we have zero protection against them. Right now, an experimental system is better than nothing.”
“I agree with the commander,” noted the captain. “We cannot engage the enemy with defenses that we know are ineffective. I suggest you at least upgrade the shields on one craft — start with the Neosho.”
“We’ll keep our CAPs close at hand,” the captain continued. “Until the new shields are ready, the best strategy in confronting the Dominion is to run like hell.”
“Security,” Patrick continued, “run intruder drills heavily. The Jem’Hadar have been known to board ships. Astrometrics, I want our long range sensors dedicated to keeping an eye out for bandits. If there’s nothing else, sir, I believe that will do it for now.”
“Dismissed,” the captain confirmed. As the staff prepared the conference room, the captain approached Patrick. “Your family is from the Aloran system, correct.”
“We may have to pull them off, get them to safety. If it comes to that, you need to make sure that happens. That’s why I asked for Neosho to be the first ship to be equipped with the new shields. I understand that’s your favorite runabout.”
“It’s always been a reliable one,” Patrick noted.
“When the day comes you take a command of your own, I suggest you take her with you. Something tells me that day will come sooner rather than later. Do you think you will be ready?”
Patrick, Jaimie, Bridget, and Dorian watched as the fighter was tractored into the shuttlebay. As soon as the doors were sealed and the craft was on the landing pad, Patrick cautiously approached the fighter. “I see you held up pretty well for over three years adrift,” he commented. “This craft was from Hastings,” he explained to Bridget and Dorian. “‘Moondance,’ was Sonya’s call sign.”
“If that’s Sonya’s fighter,” Bridget asked, “who was flying it?”
“I have no idea,” Patrick stated. “obviously, Sonya was with me when Hastings was lost, but I’d bet five strips of latinum that it was the head of the fighter team.” Patrick swung a panel open and pulled on an emergency lever to open the cockpit window.
The cockpit was empty.
“So, Bridget,” Dorian asked. “What did your sisters think when the Dominion took over Cardassia? It sounds like Number Four’s ‘wild card’ was in play”
“You know, I’ve never heard you tell stories about your sisters,” Patrick added. “This ought to be interesting.”
Patrick continued to examine the cockpit as Bridget continued her story.
Torros II — Stardate 50565.8
“I just heard scuttlebutt that the Dominion has taken over Cardassia,” noted Number Five.
“Something tells me,” Number Seven replied. “The ‘wild card’ will come into play. The Jem’Hadar are certain to go after Roslyn one way or another.”
“Do you think Starfleet would mount a rescue mission.”
“Maybe, but only if Starfleet is certain the Roslyn was captured and not killed,” Number Seven commented. “I’m sure Dr. Murrow would also be a high value target.”
“Most of us would rather just get out of the way and let Starfleet and the Dominion battle it out, but if I were to have to choose between the two, we’d all be rooting for Starfleet.”
“In that case,” Seven stated, “if you ever run into a Starfleet Officer, try to help him out as much as you can.”
“Let’s just say that comment gave my sisters something to think about,” Bridget finished.
“So, you’re saying that your sisters were avowed pacifists,” Patrick commented. “They probably don’t know that the Dominion was driven from the Alpha Quadrant. They certainly don’t know about us.”
“If they did, I’d be twenty slips richer.”
“You just might get that extra twenty slips,” Patrick answered. “Prep Neosho for launch.”
“Aye, sir,” Dorian answered. “Where are you planning to go?”
“That, I haven’t figured out yet,” Patrick noted. “We’ve got one last piece of the puzzle to fill.”
Patrick entered the Astrometrics lab quickly, much to Sarah’s surprise. “Captain,” she noted, “what can I do for you.”
“What have you pulled up from the fighter’s computers.
“Around Stardate 50974, a Jem’Hadar attack ship approached our fighter. Sensor readings record a transporter signal — they probably beamed the pilot off, then left the craft itself adrift.”
“Any idea on where they may have been going.”
“Actually, I noticed a unnamed system in sector 520 with an M-Class planet about 50 light-years from here. According to the intelligence reports during the war, no Dominion or Cardassian warships passed through that system.”
“Sounds perfect for a group of pacifists wanting to get away from the fighting. Bridge, this is the captain, set course 325 mark 12, and engage at warp nine.”
Despite the use of high warp, it still took a whole day to get to the system Sarah identified. Once in orbit, Patrick began his instructions. “Scan for humanoid life signs.”
“There’s some heavy vegetation present,” Kristy said. “I’m working on it.”
“Also, check for signs of a warbug,” Jaimie noted.
“I am seeing signs of a crashed ship,” Kristy stated. “I can confirm six life signs.”
“Sounds like the group we’re looking for. Three of us will go down: Bridget, Sara Jackson, and myself.”
“Why would you need the JAG officer?” Jaimie inquired.
“Because, if that fighter pilot is on the planet, he or she will have a lot of explaining to do.”
USS Hastings — Stardate 50922.1
“Lieutenant,” Patrick called. “Prep Neosho for launch.”
“What seems to be the trouble?” Johnathan asked.
“I just received word from Starfleet Command that my parent’s transport was destroyed by the Jem’Hadar.”
“Why would they destroy an unarmed transport.”
“The Dominion are going after any Starfleet or Klingon ship in Cardassian space. All I know is that the contingency plan for Aloran IV is in place. Anything not bolted down needs to be removed from the planet.”
“Those are your orders?” Johnathan asked to confirm.
“Yes,” Patrick confirmed. “One more thing, the captain wants someone to go along with me. Any chance I could borrow ‘Moondance,’ from you?”
“If you’re going into shark infested waters,” Johnathan noted, “try not to go alone. I’ll have Sonya right up. You keep safe, OK.”
On the surface of the planet, Johnathan Bucyrus looked at the sky and noted the craft coming down. Seeing has how these girls weren’t interested in being found, he noted, I wonder why we have an incoming ship.
A young woman approached Johnathan. “What’s going on?” she asked.
“Looks like someone’s finally found us, Val.”
“I’ll check with the others to see what they want to do. In the meantime, see if you can identify the ship coming in.” Before she headed down into what they called ‘the cave,’ Valerie handed him a pair of binoculars.
Johnathan looked through the binoculars to identify the approaching vessel. “Oh my God!” he exclaimed as he identified the vessel as a runabout, specifically, the USS Neosho. Starfleet must have found a way to beat the Dominion, he thought, and hopefully Patrick Ingrum was a survivor. As the runabout landed on the surface, Johnathan approached the craft. He observed the occupants as they got out. It is Patrick,he noted as the first person exited. He doesn’t look any worse for the wear. He made captain — that’s a given. Now, for his companions. The first one looks a lot like ‘Firecracker.’ Wait, she has green eyes. Firecracker’s were blue, I believe. Whoever she is, she must be his tactical officer. I’m surprised that his XO would let him down here. The short blond, I have no clue, a full lieutenant in a red uniform. Definitely not security. Of course, she must be with JAG. She’ll want me to debrief her on what happened. They must of thought I was dead. Now they probably think of me as a deserter.
“Bulldog,” Patrick stated to Johnathan, “you’ve got some explaining to do.”
“I’ll bet,” he answered.
“First question,” Patrick stated. “Is there anyone else down here with you.”
“As a matter of fact, there is,” Johnathan replied. “However, they would rather be left alone.”
“Why don’t you tell us your side of the Story,” Sara said as she approached.
Fighter NCC-69435 — Stardate 50924.4
“Hastings, this is Bulldog,” noted Johnathan over the radio. “The 0900 fighter patrol has been launched.”
“Roger, Bulldog. Keep safe out there.”
Before Johnathan could lead his formation on the Combat Area Patrol, an alert squawked through all of the fighters’ speakers. “We’ve got company. 10 warbugs, 3 cruisers.”
“All fighters, this is Bulldog. Raise shields. Ready Phasers and torpedoes.”
As Johnathan’s wing readied for the attack, Hastings deployed as many fighter craft as they could. The Jem’Hadar fighters came in firing their poloron beams at their Starfleet counterparts. The Starfleet fighters dove and dodged the incoming fire as much as they could. Johnathan maneuvered his fighter around a warbug, entered its ‘blind spot,’ and fired a barrage of phasers and torpedoes, resulting in a ‘kill.’
The other fighters did not fare as well. Half of the fighters had already been lost to the warbugs, and the larger cruisers were pummeling Hastings with disrupter fire. Although the fighters had kept the attacking warbugs occupied, they were being drawn away. “All pilots, this is Bulldog, we need to move in closer so that we can catch them if the try to — ” Before he could finish his message, his fears were confirmed when a warbug made a direct run at the Hastings. “Fighters, make a run for Starbase 375, best possible speed,” he ordered. When the Jem’Hadar ship rammed Hastings, he knew this battle was lost. Unfortunately, the Debris singed the side of Johnathan’s fighter. His view and the sensors were obscured by the explosion. There was only one thing he could do.
“So, you jumped to warp flying blind,”
“Yeah, but I kind of went the wrong way. I managed to get stuck deep behind the lines.”
Valerie exited the ‘cave.’ to check on Johnathan. When she noticed the Starfleet officers on the surface, her eyes widened. She quickly ran to Bridget an gave her a bear hug.
“I’ll guess there are six residents down here, and that you’re the only guy.”
“How’d you guess?” Valerie inquired.
Patrick walked over to Valerie and Bridget to introduce himself. “I’m Captain Patrick Ingrum. I was the one who beamed down to Torros II to capture Dr. Murrow and rescue Roslyn. I can see you know Bridget here, though not necessarily by that name.”
“I used to just be ‘Number Five.’ I go by ‘Valerie’ now, thanks to Johnathan,” she replied.
“I used to serve with Johnathan,” Patrick continued. “He was telling me how he got stranded deep in Cardassian space. What about you — how did you get out of the Torros system?”
After the Jem’Hadar on the surface had been taken care of, and Starfleet had retreated from Torros II, the remaining five daughters of Dr. Alan Murrow sneaked aboard a Jem’Hadar fighter. Starting with the lower decks, they managed to sneak up on the Jem’Hadar and, one by one, snap their necks with their enhanced strength. They took the Jem’Hadar polaron rifles and promptly vaporized the Jem’Hadar. Within 15 minutes of boarding, the five sisters had taken the ship.
The oldest, known as Number One, was the first to enter the bridge. “Status,” she stated.
“This is the only ship in the system,” replied Number Five. “I’m going over the ship’s data banks for any pertinent information.
“With Starfleet busting up Dr. Murrow’s project,” noted Number Four, “we’re probably free to make our own decision. What do you think we should do.”
“Roslyn notwithstanding, I don’t think there’s a place for us in the Federation,” Number One stated. “However, I do not want to side with a group bent on subjugating humanity — and we are human, despite how we were created. I think we should settle down and let the chips fall where they may.”
The remaining sisters agreed.
“It looks like there’s a hole in the Dominion’s line, bearing 325 mark 5,” Number Five reported, “I think we should head that way and see where it takes us.”
“I agree,” Number One replied. “Set Course at warp 5.”
Number Four fiddled with the helm controls for several minutes, quickly learning how to fly the ship. Once she was able to control the warbug, she set course towards the hole and journeyed deeper into Cardassian space.
Over two days had passed since the five sisters had stolen the warbug. They had found a system on the far end of Cardassian space that appeared to be uninhabited and out of the way. They altered course slightly to direct the warbug to the planet. As they were making their course change, Number Five noted something on sensors. “I’ve got something. It looks like a small craft.”
Number One handed Five a headset. “Take a look for us.” Despite being genetically engineered with a stronger immune system, the Dominion headset system proved to be giving the sisters problems. Use of the system over long periods was causing headaches.
Number Five adjusted her headset so that she could get a view of the craft. “I don’t believe it,” she stated. “It’s a Starfleet fighter.”
“What’s a Starfleet fighter doing this deep in Cardassian space?” Number One inquired.
“I don’t know,” Number Five stated. “However, I don’t think he has a chance to make it back to Starfleet. I say we beam him aboard.” The other sisters agreed. “Transporting.”
Johnathan awoke to find that he had been removed from his fighter and had been brought aboard what appeared to be a Jem’Hadar ship. He was not surprised to be on a Dominion ship, but was surprised to find that there wasn’t any Jem’Hadar in sight. The only other person in the room was a human female. “Where am I,” he asked.
“You’re with friends,” she responded. “There are no Vorta or Jem’Hadar aboard.”
“How’d you find me?” Johnathan asked.
“You lucked out. We were heading as far as we could from the fighting when we found your fighter. We found a system nearby that’s about as far from the Dominion as we can get. We hope you don’t mind.”
“Considering that my ship just got rammed by the Jem’Hadar, I’m lucky just to be alive. My name’s Johnathan.”
The young woman sat down next to him and said. “Well, Johnathan, why don’t you tell me a little about yourself.”
“I basically told her about myself,” Johnathan stated. “After all, it looked like I was stuck with her for a while. Trying to get anything on her was a little more difficult.”
“So,” Patrick inquired, “How did you find out about their, for lack of a better term, ‘heritage.’”
“A few weeks after we landed, I finally forced her to spill the beans. In response, I had three things to say.”
“And they were?” Bridget inquired.
“First, I understood why they were, shall we say, nervous about being being accepted by their fellow humans. Second, I would stand by them. Finally, I told them to ditch the numbers.”
“So,” Bridget said, “you gave them names.”
“Yes, I did. Val, could you get the others out here.”
Valerie headed down to get the other sisters. Once Valerie came back with the her other four sisters, Johnathan introduced them. “Captain, meet Jessica, Amanda, Michelle, Katie, and Valerie.”
The girls were surprised when they noticed that Bridget was part of the search team. “I like those names,” Bridget commented.
“I’m Captain Patrick Ingrum,” Patrick joined in. “I’m sure you know Bridget here. This is my JAG officer. Lieutenant Sara Jackson.”
“Patrick,” Jessica said as she stepped forward. “I’m sure you understand why we choose to stay away.”
“The fact that we didn’t know where you were made it a little hard to invite you to the wedding.”
“Wedding,” Valerie stated, “you mean to tell me — “
“Patrick and I are an item,” Bridget answered, showing her sisters the wedding ring.
“Looks like I owe you some latinum,” Valerie stated.
“What about us?” Johnathan jumped in.
“What!” Bridget and Patrick exclaimed in unison.
“You’d think I wouldn’t make a pass on a hot thing like Val, especially when we’re literally stuck together.”
“He’s quite the charmer,” Valerie answered. “I took Bridget’s advice, I have to live with it. We’ve been here over three years and we got along.”
“So,” Johnathan stated, “I take it that we’ve made some inroads into Cardassian space.”
“That war, thankfully, has been over for over a year now. The Dominion is gone from the Alpha quadrant. That doesn’t mean we don’t have problems.”
“What sort of problems?” Johnathan asked.
“The Badlands have become a haven for pirates, and they are very sophisticated. We need anyone who can fly a fighter — not to mention someone who can turn nuggets into decent pilots, and make good pilots into aces.”
“I’d be willing to help you out, but something tells me I’ve got a little legal trouble.”
“Sara, you’re the lawyer, what do you think?” Patrick asked his JAG officer.
“I reviewed all of the records relating to the loss of Hastings. The fighters that you said you ordered back to Starbase 375 — they never made it. He was deep behind the lines, and it would be hard for him to return, even if he had hijacked this warbug. Still, He didn’t make an effort to return to Starfleet, but it might be a stretch to say he attempted to shirk his duty. I’d be willing to suggest pleading to Unauthorized Absence and simply give him a reprimand via Captain’s Mast.”
“Can I be impartial on this: maybe not. However, if he pleads to UA, I’m simply rubber-stamping my JAG’s legal advice.”
“I’ll accept the reprimand,” Johnathan answered, “but what about the sisters here.”
Patrick turned to the sisters. “I’d like to make a personal request for you to join us. There’s a key planet that is within easy reach of all of the territory the pirates are claiming. It’s a lot like this planet: quiet, full of vegetation.”
“What do you want us to do?” Jessica inquired.
“I want you keep an eye out for pirates. Other than that, just live a life as you wish, only maybe have a little more interaction with your brother-in-law.”
“We can live with that,” Jessica noted.
“Patrick, Is there any chance I could stay with Johnathan,” Valerie said.
“You are committed to him,” Patrick noted. “I think we can arrange that. In the meantime, I think it’s time for a little family reunion.”
Captain’s log, Stardate 54344.2: Baldwinis underway to Aloran IV. Our new passengers have been given a warm welcome. The five sisters have been dubbed ‘The Wild Roses’ by my crew. Fortunately, they have accepted the nickname. They have also had a chance to meet one special person in particular.
“She is adorable,” Valerie commented. “First you find a mate, then you have a beautiful daughter.”
“It looks like she has my eyes,” Katie noted.
“She’s surprisingly not so fussy,” Bridget stated. “Most of the time, she’s a calm, happy baby. She does tend to be a bit of a ‘daddy’s girl.’”
“I’ll bet,” said Michelle.
“I really don’t mind. He really wanted to have a girl.”
The swishing of the doors indicated to Bridget that someone else had entered the room. “How are my girls doing.”
“Which ones,” Amanda noted, “You’ve got a room full of them.”
At least they’ve got a good sense of humor, Patrick noted to himself. “I’ll start with the young one and her mama.”
“We’re doing fine,” Bridget answered as Patrick pecked her on the cheek. “So, any word from Admrial Ross on your proposal?”
“None yet,” Patrick answered, “It should be coming in pretty quickly. I called Roslyn and let her know we were coming.”
“What did she have to say.”
“She’s can’t wait for us to arrive,” Patrick said. “She also liked the ‘Wild Roses’ nickname that’s been spreading.”
“I have to wonder,” Bridget continued, “how did Johnathan pick out names for you?”
“Something tells me,” Patrick said, “the names came from The Allman Brothers, Waylon Jennings, The Beatles, Steve Wariner, and Steve Winwood. Johnathan was a big fan of 20th Century music.”
“You know,” Valerie suggested, “perhaps we should all add a common name. We are sisters, after all. Does anyone object to ‘Rose?’”
“Bridget Rose Ingrum,” Patrick thought aloud. “It has a nice ring to it. It might not work so well with Roslyn, however.”
“On the other hand,” Amanda commented, “It’s still a common bond.”
“Sounds good to me,” Michelle continued.
“Sounds like I need to ‘make it so,’” Patrick finished. “In the mean time, I’d like to talk with Johnathan one-on-one.”
“I’m just curious,” Johnathan inquired. “you mentioned that there’s one more sister. Her name wouldn’t be Roslyn by any chance.”
“Yes,” Patrick answered. “You know her?”
“Roslyn and I were in basic fighter training together,” Johnathan noted. “Man, I thought she was the most beautiful women I’d ever met.”
“Lemme guess, you tried to flirt with her.”
“Turned me down flat. She said she wasn’t interested in a relationship. She thought I was stubborn.”
“And so,” Patrick finished, “the call sign ‘Bulldog’ was born.”
“I got her back though. She could get a little fiery if she wanted to be. Hence, I gave her the call sign ‘firecracker.’ She also suggested that I would eventually find a mate. Little did I know it would be her sister. I don’t know if it was because she was the one who greeted me when they brought me aboard their ship, but I think Valerie is even more beautiful than Roslyn.”
“Something tells me,” Patrick commented, “you can’t go wrong with any of the ‘Wild Roses.’”
Before Johnathan could retort, the XO’s voice rang over the intercom. “Bridge to the Captain.“
“Go ahead, Jaimie.”
“There’s an incoming call for you. It’s Admiral Ross.”
“I’ll take it in the kitchen,”
“Do you always get interrupted over lunch hour?”
“Sometimes,” Patrick replied as he made a beeline towards the back of the mess hall. As soon as he entered the kitchen, he pressed a button on the display terminal. “Yes, Admiral, what can I do for you.”
“I’ve just gotten the word from Starfleet Command. They have accepted your proposal. The 10th Cruiser wing will be responsible for patrolling the regions adjacent to the Aloran sector. We’re also assigning two new ships to your wing. We’d also like for your wing to try out a new type of fighter for us.“
“Baldwin was always meant to be the testbed for new things.” Patrick noted.
“Also, the Winchester is just being put back into service. She’ll need a command crew.”
“I take it you have somebody in mind?”
“Commander Tyler’s performance as XO of Ottawa has been outstanding. Starfleet is willing to offer him command of any cruiser. If you want to keep him in your circle, you should convince him to take this opportunity. In addition, the chief engineer position is open.”
“Are you suggesting another husband/wife pairing,” Patrick quipped.
“Based on the advice of Lieutenant Jackson, I have no qualms with Bernie and Roslyn serving together.”
“How soon will Winchester be ready.”
“She will be leaving Utopia Planita by the end of the week.”
“I’d better get everyone together, then.”
Captain’s log: Stardate 54344.6: We have arrived at Aloran IV to reunite all seven of the ‘Wild Roses’ and to tender an offer to Commander Tyler.
“So, the Winchester is just coming back out of spacedock. Clean slate, no senior staff assigned.”
“That’s correct,” Patrick answered. “She’s also being assigned to the 10th, and you would be working the Aloran run.”
“Any chance I could get Roslyn.”
“Say the word, she’s yours.”
“That fills the chief engineer spot. Now I need an XO that can keep me in line and knows a little about fighters. Any chance I can have ‘Moondance.’”
“If that’s who you want, I’m sure she’d be happy to accept the promotion. I’d also take ‘Bulldog’ to lead your fighter squadron. Don’t worry, even though he had a crush on Roslyn in the past, I doubt he’d try to ‘steal’ her from you.”
“I heard he paired up with one of Roslyn’s sisters, and that she wants to stay with him. I’m sure Roslyn would appreciate having one of her sisters to talk to on a regular basis.”
“I knew you’d find a good girl,” Roslyn noted to Johnathan. “I just didn’t know it would be one of my older sisters.”
“Are you saying that you have a problem with me seeing your sister?”
“Not at all. I’m glad Valerie is ready to find a partner. I can’t believed you picked their names from song titles.”
“You like the names I picked out, don’t you. I’m just glad they didn’t try to fight Patrick when he asked them to relocate to Aloran.”
“The ‘Wild Roses’ don’t always agree, but we’re never going to intentionally hurt a sister — or those a sister cares about.”
“Ever thought of tying the knot.”
“I have, a little. Roslyn Tyler — that does have a nice ring, doesn’t it.”
Johnathan nodded in agreement. “Seeing as how there were only six of us, there was no reason to go for any pomp and circumstance. Now that I know she plans to stay by my side, I may ask Patrick to do something simple in front of my new family.” He proceeded to give Roslyn a hug.
“You know,” Roslyn stated. “Back when we were in the academy, I would have slapped you if you even tried to touch me.”
“I’m glad you’ve matured, and that you found your special someone.”
“In that regard,” Roslyn quipped, “I’m not alone.”
The next morning, Patrick shouted out to all of those on the surface “All aboard for Starbase 375.”
“That’s our signal,” Bernie answered. “Vacation’s over. Time to return to work.”
“I take it we’re meeting Ottawa at 375.”
“We are, but I’m not going back to Ottawa.”
“I’ve been offered the Winchester.”
Roslyn’s eyes widened in shock. “You made Captain?”
“Yes, and the brass even said I could bring you aboard — that is, if you want to join me.”
“Absolutely,” Roslyn answered. “It would be my pleasure.”
Many members of the ships making up the 10th Cruiser Wing gathered in Baldwin‘s shuttlebay. Patrick had called the meeting with very little advance notice. Patrick stood at the front of the bay. “Tomorrow, we begin a new mission. Piracy has been on the upswing, and it is our job to protect and map out the border region. Mr. Tyler, Miss Roslyn, could you please step forward.” Bernie and Roslyn approached Patrick as requested. “Mr. Tyler, your uniform is out of order. You have accepted command of the Winchester, correct?”
“Yes, Sir,” Bernie answered. His uniform continued to display three pips of a commander.
“I have your fourth pip right here,” Patrick said as he held up a small black box. “However, I think we need to have someone special put it on.” He promptly handed the box to Roslyn.
“Congratulations, Captain Tyler,” Roslyn reiterated as she officially placed the fourth pip on his uniform.
“Now that’s taken care of,” Patrick stated out loud before leaning in to Bernie and Roslyn. “This is your last chance to bail out,” he whispered. Bernie and Roslyn both nodded in agreement for Patrick to continue. “Roslyn, do you accept this man as your husband, to love and cherish him above all others until death separates you?”
Many in the crowd, including Bridget, Jenna, and Sonya, were surprised at the somewhat impromptu wedding ceremony, yet were happy that this long-standing couple intended to cement their relationship. “I do,” Roslyn announced proudly.
“Bernard, do you accept this woman as your wife, to love and cherish her above all others until death separates you?”
“By the power invested in me by the United Federation of Planets as captain of the USS Baldwin, before your peers, I now pronounce you husband and wife.” Applause filled the room as the couple began the ceremonial first kiss. “On this day, September twenty-third, twenty-three-seventy-seven, Stardate 54360.4, I present Captain Bernard and Lieutenant Commander Roslyn Tyler.” After the applause subsided, Patrick continued. “Captain Carson, Lieutenant Fiehrer, and Lieutenant Cassoday, please step forward.”
Jenna, Susan, and Sonya approached Patrick and Bernie remained, standing next to Sonya. “Miss Fiehrer, I understand that you have accepted Captain Tyler’s offer to become the XO of the Winchester.”
“Miss Cassoday, I understand that Captain Carson has offered the vacant Ottawa XO spot to you.”
“That is correct, sir.”
“Have you decided to accept or decline her offer.”
“I have accepted her offer.”
“In that case, Jenna, Bernie, you know what to do.” Patrick stepped back as the two captains affixed a black rank pip onto the collar of their respective XO’s uniform. “Now,” Patrick continued as he approached a tarped craft. “The 10th Cruiser wing is officially the first wing to carry these new craft. Mr. Bucyrus, could you please help me to pull the tarp off of this thing.”
“Yes, sir,” Johnathan answered.
“I understand that you breezed through carrier quals on this new craft.”
“Yes, I did. Thanks for getting me fast-tracked to renew my flight quals,” Johnathan continued as they removed the tarp, revealing the new fighter.
The new fighter was shaped like a blunted arrowhead, with the warp nacelles and impulse engines built into the vessel. Once the vessel was revealed, Patrick continued. “This is the new fighter. It’s a bit bigger than the old ones, and looks more like a saucer, but Johnathan has assured me that she’s a good flyer.”
“She better be,” Johnathan commented. “Scuttlebutt says that Starfleet is making a thousand of these new craft.”