"Good Morning, sir," Sarah stated as her captain entered the warroom.
"Morning, Lieutenant," Patrick answered. He was still recovering from the injuries given to him by Malina. "Are you ready?" he asked as he hobbled with his cane to Sarah's station.
"Aye, Captain," Sarah replied. "Our window is opening right now. We have five minutes to download as much as we can."
"Proceed," Patrick ordered. Sarah began entering the commands to begin the download. Over the past several days, Patrick has attempted to download as much as he could of Dr. Murrow's notes and observations without being noticed by Malina or Khan. Patrick had long been able to secretly exchange messages with the doctor; however, they were, by necessity, brief. He could still send and receive messages from the red zone; however, the windows of opportunity were short. In addition, Patrick wanted to make sure that the doctor's notes were wiped at the far end once they were received by Baldwin. So far, they had managed to collect forty percent of the data.
As the data process continued, Bridget entered the warroom. "There you are. I've been looking all over for you."
"Between your telepathic abilities and the ship's internal sensors, I doubt you had that much trouble," Patrick quipped.
"You do realize that Dr. Bratney wants to see you for another check-up."
"Again?" Patrick complained.
"You were severely beaten within an inch of your life by someone who was determined to put you in that position," Bridget retorted. "Now step to it!"
"Okay, I'm heading to sickbay," Patrick answered as he grabbed his cane and slowly limped toward the door.
"By the way," Sarah commented to Bridget, "I loved those pictures of you in your superhero costume."
"Thanks," Bridget replied.
"You had to tell everyone about the costume?" Patrick stated as they entered the hallway.
"Don't worry, I didn't tell them how I got the idea," Bridget answered, "However, I think it reaffirms that we were meant for each other."
"Did anyone ever tell you that you're a tease?" Patrick retorted.
"It looks like your bones have pretty much healed. Bridget's neural transfer probably saved you from being permanently disabled, or worse. Are you still feeling any symptoms?"
"I've got a dry burning sensation in my eyes, and I've got a very nasty side-splitting headache."
"Let me take a look," Dr. Bratney answered as he performed further tests. "Have you ever had any surgery performed on your eyes?"
"I was diagnosed as nearsighted when I was in grade school," Patrick noted, "By the time I was 18, my eyes had stabilized to the point where they were able to surgically correct the issue."
"The hits you took may have caused your vision to destabilize, causing eye strain and possibly even your migraines," the doctor noted as he prepared a hypospray. "Do you know if you're allergic to Retinax?"
"It's been a while since I had to take it, but I'm not allergic."
"I'm going to give you a small dose. It should help. I want to see you in here every morning this week, and take some time to relax your eyes."
Before Patrick could reply, an announcement came in over the intercom. "Bridge to the captain."
"Go ahead," Patrick answered.
"We have a bogey coming in fast."
"Raise shields and have all weapons standing by. I'm on my way up."
As Patrick entered the bridge, he began to assess the situation. "Have you been able to ID the ship?"
"It's a Federation civilian craft, Peregrine class. Also, there's another craft in pursuit."
"Open a channel."
"This is Captain Patrick Ingrum of the USS Baldwin. You appear to be off-course. Is there some way we can help you?"
"I'm getting a response," Donna noted, "audio only."
"Let's hear it."
"My name is Jacob Whitburn. I am requesting asylum from the pursuing craft."
"Acknowledged, Mr. Whitburn, please prepare to dock in Shuttlebay 2. I will have a security team ready to escort you to our legal office, where my JAG officer and I will hear your case Baldwin out." After a brief pause to allow the call to disconnect, Patrick turned to his tactical officer. "Donna, I need you to ID the pursuing ship."
"It's also a Peregrine class ship. It appears to be registered to the New Cardiff Security Force. The other vessel is registered to Mr. Whitburn. As far as I can tell, he has a clean record."
"Ingrum to astrometrics: I need any information you can get on events and incidents at New Cardiff. I'll also need intel reports on Syndicate activity in the area."
"I'll start pulling data right away," Sarah replied.
"Much appreciated, Lieutenant."
"Captain," Donna interjected, "the second vessel has increased speed to try to catch Mr. Whitburn. They're hailing us."
"On Screen," Patrick replied.
"This is Colonel Kline of the New Cardiff Security Force. I am pursuing a suspected agent of the Syndicate. I request that you turn him over to my custody."
"Your suspect has already requested asylum. As a matter of course, I am obligated to at least hear him out before deciding to grant his request or turn him over to you. Your request is therefore on hold pending the outcome of my decision."
"Captain, he's charging phasers!"
"Colonel, stand down immediately! Engaging this ship with a civilian fighter would be an exercise in futility." Rather than abide by Patrick's instructions, Colonel Kline engaged his target craft as it was toward Baldwin's shuttlebay. One of his shots missed Jacob's ship and struck Baldwin's shields instead. "Donna, fire a warning shot, two photons, minimum yield, 10 meters port and starboard of Mr. Kline's fighter."
As ordered, Donna fired two torpedoes toward the pursuing ship, passing closely to the sides of the vessel. "Captain," Donna noted, "Colonel Kline is hailing us again."
"Captain, you are harboring a dangerous fugitive. The Governor of New Cardiff -"
"Let me make this clear. Mr. Whitburn is now in my custody, and he will not be leaving my custody until he gets his hearing. If your governor has a problem with that, refer to Federation policy on inter-colony extraditions. Return to New Cardiff, and inform the governor that I will render my decision swiftly."
"I think he finally got the message," Jaimie noted.
"Did I ever tell you how much I hate getting mixed up in politics?" Patrick replied.
After spending a few hours in an interview room, Jacob finally had an audience with the captain. "Okay, Mr. Whitburn," Patrick inquired, "why are you requesting asylum?"
"I'm a member of the Nosotros party," Jacob explained. "That's the opposition party on New Cardiff. With the scare about the Syndicate increasing their piracy in the area, the Governor initiated a crackdown. I spoke out to express concerns about her actions. Next thing I know, she's privately warning my party: oppose me and you will be squelched."
"So, you were fleeing to avoid becoming a political prisoner?"
"If your allegations are true, I have every reason to offer you my protection. However, Colonel Kline accused you of being an Orion operative. You had better hope he's lying. You saw me come in here with that walking stick, correct?"
"I have to use that stick. I have vertigo, my eyes are strained, and I have to take medication for my migraines, all of which is courtesy of the Syndicate. Basically, if you're lying to me, you'll be lucky if you make it back to New Cardiff."
"Captain, I assure you," Jacob coolly stated, "if there are any Syndicate members in my party, I'd hand them over to you without question."
In an adjacent room, Sara was watching the interview as Bridget walked in. "How's he doing?" Bridget inquired.
"If you're wondering if his injuries are hampering him, I'd say no," Sara noted. "He seems to be holding his own. Jacob does appear to be sincere about not being part of the Syndicate, however. How do you read him?"
"Read him? I'm an engineer, not a counselor."
"Come on, Bridget, I know you've been trying to practice your telepathy. Besides, I've heard that you have filled the counselor role with your engineering team. Don't forget about all the support you've given your husband."
Bridget sighed in agreement before focusing on Baldwin's guest. Even though she was a rookie at mind reading, glancing at surface thoughts had become routine. "His thoughts are very much collected. I don't detect any indication that he's nervous about anything. There's a strong animus towards the New Cardiff government."
"Why would Colonel Kline say he was an Orion operative? If he was planning a coup, this interview would be in the brig, not the interview room."
"There are a lot of questions. Maybe the other Sarah has got some answers."
"Lieutenant Allison to Lieutenant Jackson," the astrometrics officer stated over the intercom.
"I swear, I did not read her mind," Bridget commented.
"I believe you," Sara noted. "Go ahead."
"I've got those reports the captain wanted. I figured that you'd want to see them."
"On my way," Sara finished before turning to Bridget. "Stephanie's arranged quarters for our guest; Donna's got her security teams on full readiness. For the Captain, I recommend some daddy-daughter time."
"I'm on it."