"We're clear the border,"
"Thanks, hon," Patrick replied as he eased up on the warp drive. "Sending a signal to Baldwin that we are here.
"I've got an incoming message for us," Katy stated, "It's an automated message telling us to report to Starbase 375."
"All right," Patrick said as he dropped out of warp to make a course change
As Patrick stepped out of the runabout, a familiar face was there to greet him. "Hey, Patrick," Anna said as she opened her arms to receive a hug from her sibling.
"How's it going, sis."
"Off and on mostly off. The Jem'Hadar ambushed Baldwin."
"Commander Hernandez is in critical, but the doctors think she'll live. 26 injuries requiring treatment, lots of bumps and bruises, no fatalities."
"I think that last number is the most important. How much damage."
"Karen had to eject the warp core — fortunately, she was able to throw it at a nearby Jem'Hadar war cruiser. Anyway, Admiral Ross wants to speak with you."
"I see you got a promotion."
"Yep. They want me to help work on a way to make course changes while at warp easier. They figured that a good pilot with a history of working with designers would be a good idea."
"Come in," Admiral Ross replied when his doorbell rang.
"You wanted to see me, Admiral."
"Yes. First off, how was your leave"
"I managed to accomplish what I wanted, but it looks like Khan wants another rematch. I'll take a rain check on that — thank you very much"
"Good," Ross replied. "I've received a lot of compliments about your performance from some of the other captains in the fleet. They believe that you are a very strong leader, and someone that the some of the younger officers respect."
"Yes, sir" Patrick replied.
"Which is why," the admiral continued, "I have decided to assign you to the position as squadron leader of the 10th Squadron of the 5th fleet."
"Thank you, sir," Patrick replied, "but I have one little problem."
"We've been taking some older ships out of mothballs because of the toll the war has been taking on our fleet roster. We're adding USS Wildfire to the 10th. Until Baldwin is repaired, this will be your temporary ship."
"How long will repairs take on Baldwin?"
"About two weeks," Admiral Ross replied.
Ship's Log, USS Wildfire Stardate 52086.9: Captain Patrick Ingrum, Squad leader, 10th Squad, 5th Fleet: For a ship that's been pulled from reserves only three weeks ago, the Wildfire has had a very thorough modernization.
"You, again," Patrick commented.
"Yep," Anna replied. "They want to make sure everything tests all right. Bridget is running the engine room. She's very capable."
"I'm glad you agree. She's done a good job for me before," Patrick said as another familiar face entered the bridge, "Well, if it isn't your doppelgänger!"
"I see that he hasn't lost his sense of humor," she replied.
"At this time, Amanda," Patrick replied, "you have to keep your humor."
"I would of thought," Amanda shot back, "that all the promotions you have received would have gone to your head,"
"If it did," Patrick retorted, "The Dominion would have knocked me down so quickly, I wouldn't have known what happened."
"Engineering to bridge: We're ready down here."
"Acknowledged. Anna, are you ready to try out those new systems."
"Anytime," she replied.
"Set a course for the fifth fleet, Warp 7."
"Aye, Captain," Anna stated.
Patrick began his usual attempts at conversation. "What's your name, ensign," he said to the operations officer.
"Kristl, sir," she replied.
"Kristl, for starters, when I'm trying to be candid, calling me 'sir' isn't appropriate."
"Okay, captain," Kristl said, "but I have to ask, and don't take this the wrong way, but how exactly did you get your sister serving under you?"
"Quite an accident. I do, however, have a tendency to treat my whole crew like a family."
"Is this why you're trying to make conversation."
"Part of it."
"Patrick," Anna interrupted, "do you want me to tell her the story about Amanda over there or do you want to leave it to me."
"Are you sure Amanda wouldn't be embarrassed?"
"Oh, go ahead," Amanda replied.
"All right. I was heading back to my quarters after some research at the main library when I saw whom I thought was Anna. When I approached her, I realized my mistake."
"And netted both of us a really good friend," Anna finished.
"It took me about three weeks before I could get the two of them straightened out. That's when I finally introduced them to each other," Patrick finished, ready to burst out in laughter. "Anna, how far are we to the fleet."
"We're an hour away,"
"Amanda, you have the bridge."
Captain's personal log, Supplemental: With a fresh ship and a fresh but familiar crew, I'm about to lead the fleet in a new battle to retake Betazed.
Some people may consider it favoritism, but I have made Amanda my acting first officer on this ship. The reasoning is quite simple: She was the senior officer in charge of refitting the ship and she has successfully taken the bridge officer's exam, making her the only one eligible to be a duty officer.
"Kristl, how far until we reach the fleet,"
"About 2 minutes, sir."
"Understood. Inform the captain."
"The captain copies," Patrick replies as he exited the ready room. "Kristl, signal the fleet,"
"This is Captain Patrick Ingrum. I'm ready to get the job done, what about you? When I call your ship, I want a go/no go. Nimitz."
"Go," Andrea replied.
"Tien An Man."
"Looks like everyone is ready. All right, our mission is to retake Betazed. If anyone is caught or killed, Starfleet will disavow any knowledge of our actions. Anna, set course for Betazed, warp 5."
"Aye, captain," Anna replied.
"We are within 1 lightyear of Betazed," Kristl said. "I'm detecting a fleet of Dominion ships straight ahead. 27 ships."
"I've been through worse: Understood. Tactical alert — all hands to battle stations. Nimitz and Larned, draw them in.
"We're on it."
"Ensign, target any enemy vessel that would be so unfortunate as to head in our direction."
"Right on it," the tactical officer replied. "Enemy fighter dead ahead." The gallant ship took a few shots from the enemy vessels, but kept its composure as it fired back in kind. "Two Dominion ships destroyed. The Ticonderoga is taking some serious hits."
"We've lost contact with the bridge,"
"What's our status," The young lieutenant inquired. She was a security officer stationed in the engine room. When the battle began, the chief engineer was ordered to the bridge, which means she was the senior officer in the engine room and in charge by default.
"We are on Auxiliary power only."
"Can we get the main power online."
"Yes, sir, but it will be risky,"
"Ensign, if we don't get main power back up, we will be sitting ducks. It's a risk we must take. Do whatever it takes."
"Aye, sir," the ensign replied. He knew that getting main power online would put someone's life at risk. "I'll do it myself."
"Sir, they're almost out of ships."
"Thank you, Kristl. Ingrum to Ottawa and Wasp: prepare the ground storm."
"You got it," Jenna replied. "Blue Alert. Susan, prepare for atmospheric entry. Sonya, make sure our MACOs are in position."
"Aye, captain," they replied.
Meanwhile, Patrick turned his attention to the other ships. "Kristl, what the hell is going on with Ticonderoga?"
"I'm not getting any responses to my hails. It looks like their main power is just being started back up."
"Sir, we have main power."
"Full power to the shields and sensors. Can we reach the bridge.
"It looks like a major power conduit blew out. Deck 1 is on emergency power only."
"Rogers to Wallace. Alex, come in." No response. "Engine room to Ensign Wallace, come in." Still nothing. "See if you can lock onto Ensign Wallace on the internal sensors."
"Yes, sir. I found his combadge, but I can't read any life signs."
Lieutenant Rogers knew what Ensign Wallace meant by 'risky.' "Lock onto Alex and beam him directly to sickbay.
"Aye, sir." All of a sudden an alarm blared. "Sir, we've got warbugs off our starboard bow."
"Raise shields and prepare the torpedoes."
"Shields are up. Torpedoes locked."
"What's going on out there Maria?"
"The Ticonderoga saw them and fired a full spread"
"At least someone is awake down there. Target the reaming vessels and fire at will. It will be a while before they can get reinforcements, and they'll be fighting the rest of the 5th the entire way."
Captain's log, Stardate 52110.7: It has been over a week since we launched our counter-offensive to liberate Betazed. The Ottawa and Wasp remain stationed in orbit to ensure that we don't get ambushed. Meanwhile, the Wildfire and Ticonderoga have returned to starbase. Now is the time for the debriefing,
"All in all, Captain DeSoto's strategy to try to divert the Jem'Hadar by making them think we were going to reinforce Chin'toka worked to a T. We had enough firepower to drive the enemy off of Betazed."
"That is excellent," Admiral Ross replied. "I do have some good news for you. The Baldwin has been fully repaired and Commander Hernandez is up and about."
"I intend to place the squadron flag back on the Baldwin, sir. I will pick someone to take charge of the Wildfire as soon as I can. For now, I trust Commander Stacey to take care of her."
"Amanda, how is it going?"
"Has Captain Ingrum come back here yet?"
"I got a message 10 minutes ago that said he had moved his flag back to the Baldwin. Why do want to talk to him?"
"It's about an incident that occurred on the Ticonderoga."
"I see. Good luck."
Patrick was glad when he exited the turbolift onto the Baldwin's bridge. "How are you feeling, Reinette?"
"Much better. I heard your mission was successful."
"Yep. Now all I have to do is tons of paperwork."
"That's what you get for being a squadron commander."
Just then, the turbolift opened. "Captain?"
"Yes, Lieutenant," Patrick replied.
"Could I speak to you in private, sir?"
"After you," Patrick stated, pointing to the ready room. As he entered the ready room, he approached the replicator terminal: "Hot Chocolate, with two marshmallows. Something tells me that you have a story for me, but the first thing that I'd like to know is your name."
"Lieutenant Shandy Rogers, from the Ticonderoga, and yes I do have a story, sir." Shandy recalled what happened on the ship and how she ordered an ensign to repair main power, even though it meant losing his life.
"That is quite a sticky situation. Have you ever heard of the Kobayashi Maru?"
Patrick took a sip of Hot Chocolate before continuing, "It's an old simulation that they used to give to cadets at the academy. The caveat of the simulation was that there was no way to win."
"Shandy, you have been put into a situation that many have been tested on, but never actually had to face, and I think that you handled the situation the best you could, considering what you went through. I'll have to write-up an incident report to JAG, but I doubt anything will come of it."
"Hey, Shandy, how did your meeting go."
"Fairly well. I wans't sure how Captain Ingrum would react, but he mentioned something about facing circumstances in which someone could get killed. He also mentioned something about the Kobayashi Maru.
"When I qualified for the Bridge Exam, they tested me to see if I would be willing to make that sacrifice. I remembered the Kobayashi Maru when I went through that test. Do you feel there was no other alternative?"
"I felt that if I hadn't given the order, the Ticonderoga would be toast, and we wouldn't be talking about it."
The turbolift door subsequently opened, "There you two are,"
"Hi, Anna. What's up."
"Right now, the two of you. Patrick wants to see both of you in the Baldwin's ready room pronto."
"Right away," Amanda replied.
Patrick was taking a sip of hot chocolate as his doorbell rang, "Come."
"You wanted to speak to us, sir."
"Yes I did. Shandy, I spoke with Admiral Ross and with the starbase JAG. They agree with me that the actions you took were proper, given the circumstances. As for you, Amanda, I feel that you are up to the task of running a ship. I have assigned you to the center seat of the Wildfire and a promotion to full commander."
"Thank you, sir," Amanda replied.
"And Shandy, I want you to be Amanda's XO. I'd change that gold uniform to red. I understand that the two of you know each other, so I don't think you guys will have any problems working together."
"No, sir," they replied.
"Good. Keep a watch for my sister, and call me up if you ever need help."