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Shuttlebay, USS Baldwin

Stardate 54341.13 ? September 16, 2377, 0900 hours

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.

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USS Hastings

Stardate 49901.56 ? January 24, 2373, 1700 hours

?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.

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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.

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Shuttlebay, Baldwin

September 16, 2377, 0910 hours

?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.

?Possible hostile??

?Actually, it appears to be a smaller vessel, maybe a fighter.?

?In that case, we?d better follow up. Pursuit course.?

?Understood,?

As Patrick left the shuttlebay, Bridget entered. Patrick paused briefly to give 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 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.?

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Torros II

January 24, 2373, 1730 hours

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 purposes.?

?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.?

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Shuttlebay, Hastings

January 24, 2373, 1745 hours

Patrick watched as a fighter entered the shuttlebay. ?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.?

?So, you have a little outside experience flying small craft. I have to wonder, are you related to Anna Ingrum.?

?Yeah, she?s my twin 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.?

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January 24, 2373, 1810 hours

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. Lieutenant, prep a dummy warhead. Gonzo, this is the XO. I?d suggest you back away from the target.?

?Understood.?

?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 the Klingons wanted to mine the area, they?d probably want to use more than 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.?

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