Captain's log, Stardate 52560.8: I havedropped my former first and second officers off to their new position in the Briar patch. They will both be surely missed on the Baldwin.
By default, Lieutenant Jaimie Petrelli is next on the chain of command. I've heard that she has handled theship well in my absence. I think she will make a fine first officer.
Because of my extensive use of warp drive over the past two days, the Ninnescah is currently laid over at Starbase 291. Meanwhile, I have the chance to talk withsomeone I haven't seen in a while.
Patrick was assigned to guest quarters aboard the starbase. Patrick was unpacking his spare uniform when his doorbell rang, "Come in." A girl with shoulder-length blond hair walked in. Patrick was overjoyed when sheentered. "Hey," Patrick stated, "It's been too long since I last saw you."
"I remember," she replied, "that you were on the Kitty Hawk as a computer analyst, and my mother saw something in you."
"And put me at tactical," Patrick quickly quipped.
"Now, you're one of the most respected young captains in Starfleet."
"Thank you, Donna,"Patrick stated, "but I'm not here to talk to you about the past."
"I know," Donna said. "I've heard about your crew changes on the Baldwin."
"That's right,"Patrick replied, "But first, I'm going to eat. Care to join me?"
"Sure, why not."
"So, How's your family?"
"They're doing fine,"Donna said as Patrick took a bite of his cheeseburger. "Mom is teaching at the Academy now."
"Wanted to stick to Earth for a change, I take it."
"I guess. How's your broccoli?"
"It's all right, but I've tasted better. Anna and I were raised on fresh vegetables."
"How is your sister, by the way."
"She's doing great on theWildfire. I've kept in touch with her often."
"I would bet on it. How's your crew?"
"Jaimie takes good care of the Baldwin when she is in the center seat. Laura's abilities have really started to gain strength, but I think she is handling it well. Stephanie is a really good friend to talk to, and a very good assistant."
"What about the dance team,"
"They've been given great props. Stephanie has taken up leadership of the dance team, and they plan to continue. From what I've heard. Stephanie wants to mix in some dance routines with some of my singing."
"That's neat," Donna replied as she took a bite of her sandwich.
"Anyway," Patrick continued. "I wonder if you would be interested in joining the Baldwin as tactical officer."
"I would be honored," Donna stated.
"Good. Report to me on theNinnescah at 0800 tomorrow."
"Lieutenant Donna Belding reporting as ordered, sir."
"Acknowledged." Patrick changed his expression from serious to light-hearted. "Now let's get going. Spacedock, Ninnescah: we're ready for departure."
"USS Ninnescah is clear for departure at your pleasure. Thanks for passing through, Captain Ingrum."
"You're welcome," Patrick replied. "Donna, set a course for the Baldwin, warp 5."
"Let's go," Patrick finished.
"Sir," the tactical officer noted, "Starbase 291 indicates that Ninnescah has departed.
"He's right on time, I suppose. How long before he gets here."
"Right now, five hours."
"Petrelli to Allison, what's the latest report."
"Surprisingly quiet,"Sarah stated. "I don't see any Jem'Hadar ships that will be in the way."
"I don't like it," Laura replied.
"I have to agree with you. Sarah, keep a close eye on intelligence reports."
"Baldwin is unique in that it is a running testbed. Right now, the focus is obviously on combat readiness, but once the war is over, I intend on making improvements in the systems we have developed for her."
"That's neat," Donna replied. Donna turned to her console. "That's strange. I've heard about enemy patrols in this area. I haven't seen so much as a trace of a warbug within long-range sensors."
"That is strange. Patch me through to Baldwin."
"Sir, incoming message from Ninnescah."
"I bring along an escort and we've got no hazards. What's up with that?"
"I don't know," Laura replied, "but I don't like it."
"I'll be there asquickly as I can. JP, I would like to speak with you when I get there."
"Understood. I have Sarah monitoring intelligence reports."
"Good. Ingrum out."Patrick turned from the blanked viewscreen to his companion. "Donna, bring us to warp nine."
"Ninnescah is within sensor range."
Patrick's face appeared on the screen. "Welcome back, Captain."
"Thank you JP. As soon as I'm back on board, I need to touch base with you."
Patrick had a seat in his ready room chair when the doorbell rang. "Come in."
Jaimie entered the room. "You wanted to see me, sir?"
"Yes I did," Patrick answered, gesturing at the chocolates on his desk. "I've paid attention to how you have handled Baldwin while I was away. I believe that you are ready for the challenges and would make an excellent XO."
"Thank you, sir. I would be honored."
"I knew you would say that.I hereby promote you to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Get your new uniform and please meet me in the war room in an hour."
Jaimie entered the war room ahead of time. "Hey, I hear congratulations are in order."
"As if it isn't noticeable," Jaimie responded, pointing to the red bands on her new uniform.
Patrick entered the room along with Donna. "Sarah, Jaimie. This is Lieutenant Donna Belding. She'll be our new alpha-shift tactical officer."
"Welcome aboard," Jaimie started as she shook Donna's hand.
"Now, what's the latest?"
"Intelligence reports activity has been concentrated near the badlands. We lost the Korraga in the area, and Starfleet has been wary of sticking around there. Our monitoring stations in that area have been detecting encoded messages. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to decode them."
"The Dominion must be improving their encryption protocols. Can we trace the source and/or destination?"
"I'll try." Sarah punched several buttons on the main panel, while Patrick stepped up and monitored. The Display showed a possible source and destination. "This looks like it came from Cardassia itself, and it appears to be pointed at — Breen space?"
"As much as I can point out, this appears to be what's going on."
"Right now, the Breen are not involved in this war; however, I think that can change at a moment's notice. Red flag it, and put these messages through my personal decryption database."
Squadron log, Stardate 52584.7: Afterseveral days of decryption, we have managed to decrypt some of the intercepted messages between the Dominion and the Breen, and it is not good. I have assembled the squadron's ship commanders to discuss the situation.
"The audio track on theseclips are highly encrypted, so we've got no sound. However, I can project an image on the wall. Sarah, lets see it."
The wall display reveled a humanoid face with very little detail. "If I recall the security briefings, she is what Starfleet refers to as the 'Female Shapeshifter,'" Amanda stated.
"That is correct. I can only assume that that means that these are very high level diplomatic discussions. I have to red flag this. I want you to keep a sharp lookout in case the Breen decide to join in the fighting."
"Captain," Traficant noted. "I have to assume that the Breen may plan to join in a counterattack. I would advise that we be ready for anything."
"Your comments are noted,Jim; however, until we confirm that the Breen are aligning themselves with the Dominion, we should not assume any offensive stance against them. I do think further information is necessary, and have advised Intel making that suggestion."
After the meeting, Andrea pulled Patrick aside. "How's everyone doing over here."
"Definitely a bit tense. The good news is the JP is working out as my new XO, and Donna is turning out well as the new tactical officer. How 'bout you."
"Katy, Lindsay, and Betsy are performing as well as they can be in their positions. We could use a little R & R."
"Which reminds me, Stephanie wanted to speak with you."
Patrick sat down on a bench stool in the middle of the fieldhouse program. Many crew members from the ships in Patrick's squadron were seated in the bleachers. "I've always been a sort of lyrical analyst. This song contains the line that sits on the bottom of this ship's dedication plaque, which in my opinion fits this squadron, as we have assembled one of thebest fighting squadrons from a young group of ragtags. You could say that you were all 'lost' with little direction. You looked around, and there I was, ready to polish things up. Of course, I just fell into this job. Anyway, the song's called 'Time After Time.'"
"You ready to go on after Patrick," Stephanie whispered to Andrea as Patrick began his song.
"Good. Don't worry, I think you'll do a good job. Besides, I'm best friends with Betsy. She's good, I'm telling you."
After Patrick concluded his song,he announced the next act. "I guess this is the foursome from the Nimitz. Captain Andrea Riffin, Commander Katy Cassoday, Lieutenant Lindsay Curtis, and Ensign Betsy Royer. They'll be doing a dance number. Trust me, I don't think you'll be disappointed."
The next morning, Patrick was in his ready room, filling out routine paperwork when his communicator beeped. "Ingrum, go ahead."
"Sir, I think you ought to come down to the war room and see this."
"On my way."
"I Have no idea what happened, but half of our intelligence drones have been lost."
"What information do we have?"
"I'm receiving the intel reports from those drones from the last 48 hours now."The war room display showed the area between Breen space and Cardassia. "It looks as if they are going to face to face negotiations now. Take a look."
"I agree. It looks likethere's a set of ships on the move. Advance to the next report."The ships moved slightly, but not enough to figure out what the Breen ships were doing. "Again. That's better. It looks as if the Breen were headed in the general area of our drones. They could have blown them up with their disrupters. Ingrum to Bridge."
"Yes, Captain," Jaimie answered.
"JP, set course for the following coordinates and engage at warp 9. Have the rest of the squadron follow us."
"Aye, Sir. Laura, you heard him."
Jaimie sat down at a desk in herquarters and pressed a button on the console. "Computer, patch me in to the Edmund Fitzgerald, attention Kelly Petrelli."
Kelly's face appeared on the screen. "Hey, sis. How's your new position working for you."
"Very well, thank you. How about you."
"I've had a little more experience as an XO. In any case, what's on your mind."
"Patrick's ordered the entire wing to investigate the loss of intelligence drones."
"You trust him,"
"Implicitly. That's why I'm worried. We could be throwing ourselves in the path of our destruction."
"Jaimie, if you trust the people on your ship, you have nothing to worry about."
"I hope you're right."
A female Admiral appeared on Patrick's holo-imager in the ready room. "Admiral, It's been too long."
"It has. It seems like only yesterday you were serving under me on the Kitty Hawk."
"I know. Now I have your youngest daughter under my wing. But I didn't call to talk about the past. Have you read my most recent intelligence reports."
"Yes, and they are very through."
"I think the Breen are making their move, and they intend to strike the snake in the heart."
"You aren't implying..."
"I wish I wasn't. I'd tak eprecautions to secure your position, just in case. From the angle they would come in at, Earth would not be a hard target."
"Also, Admiral, I promise to take care of your little girl."
"Petrelli to Ingrum, we've arrived at the coordinates you specified."
"I'll be right out."As soon as Patrick left his ready room, he confidently gave his instructions, "Kristy, scan the area for signs of debris from sensor probes, and check for weapons fire. Donna, instruct the group behind us to do the same. Have all information transferred directly to Lieutenant Allison.
"Aye, sir," both ladies answered.
"Captain, permission to speak candidly," Laura stated.
"Captain, I don't think weare in any immediate danger if we stick around, but I have a feeling our troubles may be sitting directly in front of us."
"I'd be lying if I didn't say I thought the same thing. Donna, tell the rest of the fleet to make it quick."
"Commander," Maria said. "We've been asked to spread out and scan for debris and weapons fire."
"Let's take section 25."
"I'm on it," Anna replied.
"I wonder what's in your brother's mind," Kristl inquired to Anna.
"Probably the idea that the Breen may be involved in this whole thing."
"Why would they?"
"No one knows enough aboutthe Breen to answer that question. We're done with 25, I'm taking us to 26."
Patrick stepped to the tactical console and stood next to Donna. "How's it going, Donna."
"I'm doing all right. Unfortunately, I think you're right."
"Ingrum to Allison. What's the status from the fleet."
"Not good, Captain. We've detected disrupter fire and most of the monitoring stations are gone.I've also traced the warp trails. They're heading for Earth." The Bridge screen displayed Sarah's findings. "There's only one thing we can do. Ingrum to all ships, set course for Earth, maximum warp."
"Sir," Sarah finished. "Even at Maximum warp, there is no way to catch them before they make it to Earth."
"Acknowledged, Lieutenant. The least we can do is make sure they know we aren't going to take something like this lightly. Laura, proceed on course."
"Captain, incoming message from Earth."
"Let's see it, Donna." A familiar face appeared on the main viewer. "Admiral, what can I do for you."
"Long range sensors have detected Breen ships heading towards Earth. How soon can you get here?"
"Not soon enough. I'd recommend getting in a bunker ASAP."
"Understood. I'll send damage assessments as soon as I find out."
Donna had a few words to add, "Be careful, mom."
"I will, hon. Belding out."
Time seemed to pass like a snail as Patrick winced in the Baldwin's center seat. He could only imagine what the captains of the ships behind him are thinking. "Donna, how far?"
"We're still 25 minutes behind. ETA to Earth is approximately 40 minutes."
Patrick stood up and grabbed the green arched railing that supported the tactical console. "Monitor all channels for damage reports. Relay the information downstairs to Sarah."
Admiral Belding was in the middle of preparations as she managed to get her staff secured in a secure bunker in the San Francisco complex. "I never thought we would have to use these bunkers, but it's a good thing we take care of them."
"I never thought that a direct assault on Earth was possible. Any idea how this happened in the first place."
"I can only think of one reason. Intelligence is not doing its job," Admiral Belding replied.
"Captain," Donna said, "I'm getting reports, the Breen have targeted the major Starfleet installations."
"How far are we?"
"Let's go to tactical alert. Ingrum to all ships — we are about to engage the enemy.I want to show the Breen we aren't afraid of them. I hereby authorize all ships to fire on sight, and to utilize any strategy at the ship CO's discretion. It would be nice to coordinate, so keep that in mind. Let's roll."
"San Francisco is being bombed heavily. Looks like a good part of the San Francisco area is being hit hard. Paris, Lisbon, Kansas City — "
"Thank you Donna," Patrick stated. "Charge phasers, ready torpedoes."
"Quantum torpedoes and phasers are ready," Lindsay said.
"Understood," Andrea replied, "Nimitz to Ottawa — are you ready over there?"
"As ready as we'll ever be," Jenna stated.
"Captain," Susan stated, "We have the Breen in visual range."
Streaks of red-orange phaser fire lit the earthly sky as the Breen turned their attention away from the bombing of Earth and towards theoncoming onslaught. "They have six vessels." Donna noted. "Two of them are taking a severe beating."
"And the other four?" Patrick inquired.
"They're in fair shape."
"In that case... Ingrum to all ships — let's start with the weakest link."
Amanda understood what Patrick meant. "Maria, Concentrate your fire on the the ones that have taken the most damage."
"Aye, sir," Maria responded.
"Baldwin, Hood," Traficant added, "I think it would be wise if you have a little cover fire."
"By all means, Jim," Patrick responded. "Go ahead and lay down cover fire while we take them out."
The Hood, Tecumseh, and Wasp targeted the stronger ships, laying covering firewhile the remainder took charge of weakened Breen ships. "We've got one of them," Patrick stated.
"I could use some help," Karen stated. "Ticonderoga is being chased down."
"Ottawa and Nimitz, can you take care of that. I'll be right behind."
"We're on it," Jenna replied. "You heard him. Target the ship pursuing theTiconderoga."
Streaks of phaser fire blazed from the Ottawa and the Nimitz. However, the Ticonderoga was far from out of the fight. "Mr. Sovok, target torpedoes and fire," Karen ordered. Several torpedoes blazed out of the ship's launcher, hitting the Breen ship dead on.
Captain's log, Stardate 52592.8: The 10th Squadron successfully eliminated the invading Breen forces. The surprise attack confirmed that the Breen have allied themselves with the Dominion. Damage to the major Starfleet installations is extensive. The squadron will remain Earthbound to help with the damage, and to provide defense in case another attack occurs.
"The Breen sure made a mess of this place," Patrick commented as Patrick, Laura, Donna, and Admiral Belding combed through the remains of the Admiral's office.
"The casualty lists aren't that much better," Admiral Belding noted.
"You're right," Laurastated, "but I think that the Breen were holding something back. The next round against them may possibly be worse."
"I have to go along with Laura," Donna noted.
"I'll work with intelligence. We need to try to figure out what happened and analyze our present position. I'm detaching all non-critical engineering crews to duty to rebuild. Meanwhile, Admiral, I would suggest that you try and keep those cadets in line."
"I will," the Admiral replied.