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Part of USS Arcturus: Return to Farpoint and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

8. Arcturus Actual

USS Arcturus
Stardate 2401.3
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The two halves of Arcturus were barely back together when Admiral Liam Dahlgren beamed aboard. Captain Lancaster had just managed to wash his face and pat himself dry with a towel in the ready room head when the door chimed. He went to stand in front of his desk and compose himself for just a second before calling for the guests to enter. Dahlgren was accompanied by Alesser, who had been the one to greet him in the transporter room. Lancaster was moderately surprised to see that the vaunted admiral was merely his own 1.8 meters or so tall; he seemed so much loftier on subspace. 

“Welcome aboard Arcturus, Admiral. I apologize for not meeting you,” Lancaster offered.

“At ease, Captain. You’re where you needed to be,” Dahlgren replied. The admiral placed a hand on Alesser’s upper back in a friendly manner that still managed to make Lancaster momentarily jealous. “Captain Alesser was filling me in on your exploits.”

Lancaster blanched slightly at that word. He had never once in his fifteen-year career been accused by anyone of having ‘exploits.’ Accomplishments and triumphs, certainly, but never ‘exploits.’ 

“Relax. I have never met a more loyal or dutiful first officer. He was singing your praises,” Dahlgren said. He glanced around the ready room. “I see what Hayden saw in this ship. Nice digs. She mentioned you’re a bourbon man. I’ll have two fingers, neat, of whatever you have stashed that doesn’t come from a replicator. You two should join me.”

Left momentarily speechless, Lancaster retrieved a bottle of authentic Kentucky bourbon from the sideboard. He poured three very generous drinks—more than half of the bottle—before the three officers sat down together at the small conference table.

“Give me the blow-by-blow, gentlemen. The more efficiently you tell your story, the less of your whiskey I leave with,” Dahlgren ordered with a wide smile.

Lancaster and Alesser looked at each other; Lancaster was shocked, and Alesser was clearly, among other things, amused. The captain took a deep drink from his glass and then began their story from the beginning. 


“Good,” Dahlgren said once the two officers had given a thorough accounting of their mission after sitting there sipping on his drink—and a second—while nodding politely for almost an hour. “This was a delicate mission, and you accomplished it. We need to track down that Dominion battlegroup and the cnidarian, though. Given your experience and history with the matter, I’ll leave that task to you.”

“To me, Admiral?” Lancaster asked.

“There are a dozen pressing missions in this sector that I need to get to Farpoint to oversee. You’ve proven yourself here today, Lancaster,” Dahlgren replied, draining his glass. He slipped a case out of his sleeve and placed it on the table. The sight of it filled Lancaster with absolute dread. “Captain Michael Lancaster, as of this stardate, I hereby promote you to the rank of fleet captain, effective immediately. Arcturus and her squadron both are now under your command,” the admiral said. “Congratulations.”

“I, um,” Lancaster faltered. He had a flash of advancement causing him to lose his ship and be taken out of the center seat. He had just gotten good at being a captain, and he didn’t want to move beyond that. Not yet. “I don’t know…”

Alesser kicked him under the table, which snapped him out of it.

“Thank you, Admiral,” the new fleet captain grunted.

Dahlgren grinned. “Once this is all said and done, and if you truly want it, I’ll demote you if you ask very nicely,” he said with a laugh. He opened the case to reveal a single silver bar, which he pinned to Lancaster’s collar under his four silver pips. “It looks good on him, wouldn’t you say, Captain Alesser?”

“Very distinguished,” Alesser agreed, an unusually restrained response from a habitual flirt. Lancaster appreciated that restraint greatly, though. “You deserve it, Michael,” he added, getting more personal for a moment.

“Thank you, Ari,” Lancaster said sincerely. He cleared his throat. “What are our orders, Admiral?”

“The same as they were before: find and retrieve the thought-makers. Liberate the cnidarian for good,” Dahlgren replied. He stood up and drained his glass, prompting the two captains to stand with him out of respect. “I’ll be in touch. If I had to guess, Captain Okusanya is probably champing at the bit to help you with your engine problems,” the admiral said. He started to leave the ready room. “By the way, I pushed through your request for the mission orders for the Banting. I’ve granted you access to the entire astrozoan database. Good luck, Fleet Captain.”

With that, Admiral Dahlgren was gone as soon as he arrived, leaving the newly-minted Fleet Captain Lancaster with Alesser to contemplate their next moves. Lancaster reached up to run a finger along his new rank insignia, warming to the idea slightly. They had their work cut out for them. The original mystery handed down to them by the Enterprise-D still had chapters left to tell. It was now their privilege and their burden to ensure that the Farpoint cnidarians didn’t get further caught up in this new war.

Still, even in the gravity of the moment, Lancaster couldn’t help but laugh.

“How mad do you think Okusanya is going to be when she finds out I’m still her boss?” 

Comments

  • Just caught up on all of the Arcturus' adventures to date - and love them all! That Ferengi DaiMon is a pure representation of his capitalist greed and how quickly he can sell his loyalties to the greatest bidder! And finally, Lancaster takes up the mantle of squadron lead and follows in his mentor's steps. A nice full circle there. One great bit about reading all of these stories, one after the other, is realising just how much Lancaster considers his crew his family, how much they mean to him (more some more than others *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge*) and the lengths he will go for them. A true Starfleet captain there. I'm still intrigued by what the Dominion want with the Farpoint cnidarian - will they use it to create a powerful warship, a weapon of mass destruction, or is there something more they're planning with it? Are they hoping to crack its secrets in understanding how it can change its shape and use that technology against the Federation? Or will their use of it attract the attention of other sentient spaceborne creatures? You're leaving us on a cliffhanger with these questions is just too much! Please provide us with more, soon!

    May 31, 2023
  • I like the echoes that I'm sure many captains face when the promotion comes - not wanting to lose out on the center chair and wondering if they're truly ready. The dread element reminds me of Kirk's struggle with being promoted and away from the chair - I wonder if Lancaster would ever ask for the demotion or if he'll find some element of satisfaction in the Fleet Captain role. It'll be interesting to see him wrestle with that as he continues on his journey. It was fun to read the moment when Alessar kicks him out of his reverie, and he gamely accepts. I could see that moment and it gave me a chuckle. Great work as always.

    June 1, 2023