Star Trek: Defiant

"The Federation Strikes Back" - Part Three

Written by Daniel Clark

USS Defiant

Ready Room

Jeffrey Bridges felt alone. It had been a long time since he had felt this alone. For the last couple of years Laine Rael had been his everything. Serving together on this ship with the woman he loved only solidified his sense of family and home. Even when he had been forced into his hoverchair by the nanites, the whole experience had been bearable because he had enjoyed the unconditional love of someone very special.

He sat in his chair and stared out into space. He saw less of the stars and more of the fates which had forced him down this road. As the ice in an untouched glass of Kool-aid melted, Bridges came closer to retirement than at any other point in his storied career. But the fates still tempted him, and he had work to do.

By the time his door chime sang out he had resolved himself to doing his duty. Without thinking he ordered the doors open. Like a vision she stood there. For a split second it was like that first moment all over again. In that moment he knew, he absolutely knew, that this woman was his life.

Dr. Laine walked in without being invited. As she approached his desk Bridges could see a redness around her eyes. Seconds turned into a minute. A minute turned into two, and then five. Neither of them spoke a word. Within those minutes they connected, and silently poured out their hearts. It was Laine who broke the silence.

"Jeffrey," she said, "We don't have much time. It's almost ironic; we always thought we would have all the time in the universe, and here we are trying to maximize the few seconds bestowed on us by Starfleet."

She paused. "Jeffrey, there is a finality to this transfer that I don't like. Clearly the three of us have been summoned to work on something special. A part of me has been crying out for my resignation, but Starfleet needs me, Bajor needs me, and if there was something I learned from the Cardassians; it's that you cannot run from fate."

Bridges couldn't help but smile at the similarity in their thoughts. He let her continue, "However, I cannot escape my destiny, and that's you. Let's not waste anymore time. When we next see each other, whenever that may be, let's get married. The Universe is too big a place to be alone. Yours is the face that I see when I look into the stars, and I never want that to change."

The Captain, master of his ship, his emotions, and life itself maneuvered his chair next to his fiancee, hugged her, and said goodbye. After a few minutes they separated, and the Captain and the doctor were back. Bridges took her hand, and together they left his ready room. Outside the door he picked up the bag and medkit she had left there. With a final act of chivalry he carried his love's bags down to a departing flight just like billions of other people had done since time immemorial.

USS Defiant

Intelligence Office

Lieutenant Commander Daniel Clark sat behind his old desk in the intelligence office. He still wore the single open pip which he had received just two months earlier. He was entitled to add two full pips to his collar, but a complete refusal to accept the situation prevented him from replicating them.

Lieutenant Commander Daniel Clark was petrified. He sat behind his desk, with his knees at his chest, and his arms hugging them. All his life Clark had been able to rely on others. His responsibilities as chief security officer on the USS Clinton had been marginal at best, and even when he had piloted a runabout into Romulan space he had felt like his training was sitting right next to him in the cockpit.

That was why he trained so hard. Why he had mastered so many martial arts. Why he always worked so hard. The only thing which allowed Clark to step forward into the light was if he were standing on the shoulders of giants. For once in his life Clark was completely unprepared for what lay ahead. He had no significant intelligence training, and no experience. He was alone, and the responsibilities of the intelligence office of Starfleet's flagship lay in his young hands.

That was how Lieutenant Commander Mak found him when he walked into the intelligence office just a half hour after the briefing. As soon as he entered the room Mak understood how the young man felt. Mak had a millennium of experience to guide him; not only in matters of intelligence, but also in human nature.

Mak was a ruthless killer. A man with little in the way of remorse. But he was also a man of compassion, someone who understood the precariousness of youth and the frailties of the human condition. He could handle his young assistant in two ways - bark at him like a junk yard dog, or...

Mak pulled up a chair next to Clark. "Hello, kid. I just wanted to come by the office and congratulate you before I left. I'm glad the Captain showed so much faith in you; I always knew that you could handle this job, and I'm glad I told him."

Clark turned to his superior officer, listening. "Kid, Dan, you're young, and talented. When you are running this place, remember this: ours is the only department which puts its greatest asset into its title. That's really all you need to do this job. A friend of mine once said - 'keep your head while those around you are losing theirs' - good advice."

Mak stood up. "C'mon, lets see how the desk looks on you." He guided Clark into his inner office and sat him down behind his desk.

Mak smiled his patented evil grin, "Now, I'm gonna want that back. You just keep it warm." His face softened, "You'll do fine, kid... just don't get cocky."

He turned without another word and headed for the door. Before he got there, Clark finally spoke, "Mak? Thanks."

Mak paused, then left.

USS Defiant

Runabout Bay 2

Fifty officers stood in runabout bay 2 to bade farewell to their friends, their family, and their fellow officers. Led by Captain Jeffrey Bridges, the entire senior staff was there; including its newest member sporting two more shiny full and very temporary pips.

Mak, Kadiya and Laine had said all their good-byes. Despite that they weren't hurrying to leave. Each had a few last words to say to someone before Lieutenant Marinus broke up their fugue, "So, are we going or what?"

The Captain smiled ruefully for just a second, and then nodded to Commander Kliemann. Kliemann turned to the assembled officers and called out, "Atten-shun! There are officers on deck."

The officers stood at attention as salute to their departing comrades. The four officers climber into the runabout. The door promptly closed. The engines powered up, and the ship rose three feet off the deck. With a slight pulse of thrusters the runabout surged forward and ran through the atmospheric forcefield.

The fifty stared at the ship as it quickly became a speck and was then swallowed by the wormhole. Commander Kliemann called out 'Dis-missed,' but no one was in a hurry to leave.

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