“Confessions and Confrontations”
Stardate 74209.2; March 18, 2397
Written by Chris Adamek
CAPTAIN’S LOG, STARDATE 74209.2: The war is over. With the arrival of Cardassian forces in the Ciden System, the Elorg were finally overwhelmed, and their remaining vessels forced to retreat back into the heart of their territory. With our task force continually on the offensive, it will only be a matter of time before the Elorg acknowledge defeat.
After finishing his log entry, Ryan Landsberg sat for several moments and contemplated his words. They were certainly sufficient, conveying the epic scope of the situation with Landsberg’s almost poetic flare for words. He was pleased, nonetheless, but as his gaze wandered from his log entry to Commander Matthew Harrison’s curious gaze, the Captain’s poetic mood began to waver. “What?”
For a brief moment, Harrison struggled to maintain his neutral demeanor—it seemed to Landsberg that his first officer often kept his emotions at bay—but ultimately, neutrality won, and Harrison turned his placid gaze upon Landsberg. “Your entry is a bit dramatic, is it not?” he inquired. “For example, in all reality, the war is not over.”
“Dramatic license,” said Landsberg quickly in his own defense. “Besides, I’ve been looking through some of Captain Christopher’s log entries; mine is tame when compared to some of his.”
Harrison was quick to proffer his agreement. “Yes, I have had the opportunity to review many of his log entries. They have a certain flair to them, to say the least. At times, a discursive flare.”
“But a flare nonetheless,” said Landsberg, recounting some of the more longwinded ramblings Christopher had provided in his logs.
And on that note, Harrison nodded his head forgivingly. “I suppose I shall recant my statement about being overdramatic, then.”
Landsberg grinned for perhaps the first time in days. “Good,” he said thoughtfully. “Now all I have to do is find you a woman.” He paused for a moment and then tapped a few commands into the computer terminal on his desk. “Now, I’ve been looking at your options over the past few days, and must admit, the Starlight has an excellent supply of beautiful women.”
Harrison rolled his eyes. “With all due respect, while this is certainly a generous offer on your behalf, it is entirely unnecessary for you to… ‘find me a woman.’”
In an instant, Landsberg found strange thoughts floating through his mind. He paused for a brief moment, and then hesitantly asked, “A… man, perhaps?”
Harrison quickly tensed up, but to Landsberg’s relief, his executive officer shook his head in denial. “No, of course not,” he said firmly. “I am simply not looking for a relationship at the moment.”
“And I’m not getting you a relationship,” said Landsberg, making certain that much was clear. “I’m getting you some action in the bedroom! It’s a defining quality of all good commanding officers!”
A puzzled look swept across Harrison’s face. “I don’t seem to recall hearing of that at Starfleet Academy,” he noted, allowing a small amount of sarcasm to seep into his otherwise stoic voice.
Landsberg chuckled. “Of course not,” he admitted. “It was so blatantly obvious that no instructor dared to bring it up.”
Words began to form upon Harrison’s parting lips, but the dull chirp of Landsberg’s communicator promptly cut them off. The Captain elicited a faint sigh, and then slapped his communicator.
“Captain,” came Lieutenant Bator’s voice a moment later, “sensors indicate we have an Elorg vessel is on a direct intercept course.”
Landsberg’s gaze quickly shifted to Harrison. The war, it would seem, was not over, much as the good Commander had noted earlier—but he was kind enough not to gloat about it. “I’m on my way,” Landsberg stated a moment later, slowly rising from the warmth of his chair.
He stood still for a few seconds, stretching his firm muscles while Harrison vacated his chair. Once the commander was in motion, Landsberg swiftly matched Harrison’s pace and followed his executive officer through the doors and onto the bridge.
“The vessel is a small raider,” reported Bator once the doors slid shut behind Landsberg. “It is traveling at warp 1.6, and is on a direct intercept course.”
Having seen countless Elorg raiders used as battering rams in recent weeks, this instance immediately brought concern to Landsberg. “Yellow alert,” he called out as he seated himself in the center seat.
“Are their shields or weapons active?” Harrison inquired.
Bator checked the sensors. “No,” he said. “But they will enter weapons range in approximately fifty-five seconds.”
“Any support vessels?” asked Landsberg.
“None,” replied Bator. “All other Elorg vessels in range are holding position.”
It certainly didn’t seem like a kamikaze run. And if it was, it was certainly a very foolish one. Landsberg was confident in the Starlight’s abilities to smite the little raider with ease should they pose a threat—but some sixth sense told him that this was not any more threatening than it appeared to be. Even so, if Landsberg was going to err, it would be on the side of caution. “Raise shields,” he said softly.
“Shields up,” said Bator, just as the computer began to elicit a series of faint bleeps. “They are hailing us.”
“On screen,” said Landsberg, his eyes immediately darting to the image of the raider on the viewscreen. It lingered for a moment longer before flitting away, replaced by a grainy, slightly distorted image of Captain Allison Duford. Landsberg was immediately curious. “Allison,” he greeted warmly, “what an unexpected pleasure.”
Duford nodded cordially. “And we have much to talk about, Mr. Landsberg. That is, if you don’t mind having us aboard.”
“Of course not,” said Landsberg—the more beautiful women on his ship, the better. “Permission to come aboard is granted.”
“Then I’ll see you soon,” said Duford. “Lollipop out.”
Landsberg and Harrison stepped into the transporter room a few minutes later, the latter of the two hanging a meter or so behind as they approached the kiosk near the center of the room. It was a large, rounded workstation with a vast interface manned by the young Ensign Flora Sanders. Harrison regarded her as an intelligent, efficient young woman, and as he watched her deft fingers dance over the interface, he was confident her promotion to Lieutenant was on the horizon.
“Ensign,” said Captain Landsberg a moment later, his hands resting on the edge of the sleek workstation, “are they ready to beam over?”
Sanders’ eyes quickly flitted over the data before her. “Yes,” she determined after a moment.
Landsberg nodded, and swiftly came about to face the transporter platform. “Energize,” he said crisply.
Harrison’s eyes lingered on the transporter control interface for a moment longer before he, too, came about to face the platform. The large apse in the wall was dark for only a moment before five pillars of shimmering azure light illuminated the transporter pad. As the light began to diminish, five humanoid figures stood in its wake. Harrison recognized only two of them: Captain Allison Duford and Commander Erin Keller.
A profound look of confusion was plastered to Keller’s face. Harrison could tell that something was bothering her, but could not say for certain what it was—nor was he about to shout across the room to find out. But as Duford and several of her subordinates filtered out of the transporter room with Landsberg, already speaking of their grandiose adventure on the Lollipop, Harrison saw that he suddenly had an opportunity to speak to Keller.
“Where is Alan?” were the very first words to fall from her lips as she stepped off the platform.
Somehow, Harrison should have anticipated the question, considering the relationship Keller had with Alan Christopher prior to the onset of full-blown war. Thankfully, he had an answer for her. “Come with me,” said Harrison evenly.