Dark Territory: Staring Into The Abyss
My apologies for those who are reading "Shadow Puppets", but I was hit was a major case of writer's block. This new story is my method for trying to get past that writer's block by returning to my favorite ship, the Starship Cuffe. I am intending for this to be a shorter work that will hopefully jump start my return to "Shadow Puppets". I'm sorry about the wait.
"Staring Into The Abyss" takes place shortly after the events in "The Crucible." This story takes place between The Next Generation episodes "Descent" and "Descent Part II".
STARING INTO THE ABYSS
“Terrence this is a pleasant surprise,” Lt. Commander Pell Ojana beamed, her ridged nose crinkling. A mirroring smile lit Captain Terrence Glover’s face. The woman’s glow practically lit up the small desktop screen on his desk.“Those four pips suit you,” the Bajoran added, widening the man’s grin exponentially.
“Thanks Pell,” Glover said.
“I only wish I had been there to see you put them on for the first time,” the auburn-haired woman replied. “How does it feel to finally have the center chair?”
“Well, it’s only been a few weeks,” Glover answered. “I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet,” he admitted.
“Give it time,” Pell sagely nodded, “This was what you were meant for.” Terrence knew that Pell knew him well enough that he wasn’t going to disagree with her out of a sense of false modesty. His sights had always been on the big chair and though he had ascended to it much later than he had hoped, it was a far more comfortable fit than his old executive officer’s seat.
“Things have been very busy since Captain Diaz stepped down and my promotion,” Glover confessed. “I haven’t had much time to talk with you or anyone. I…ah…wanted to catch up.”
“You wanted to see how things were going with Donald and me?” Pell’s expression was droll.
Glover shrugged before tugging nervously at his collar, as the temperature suddenly rose. After Diaz had stepped down, Donald Sandhurst, Cuffe’s acting chief engineer, had followed suit. But while Diaz had left Starfleet, Sandhurst had transferred to the Chevalier to be with Pell.
And that decision was one that Terrence both welcomed but also felt funny about. In part because he still didn’t feel that Sandhurst was worthy of his old friend, but also because he didn’t think the bland engineer could keep his mouth shut about what had happened between Glover and the quantum duplicate of Pell that Cuffe had encountered on its last mission.
Things had gotten awkward between Glover and that Pell, unresolved feelings briefly coming to the fore. Sandhurst had taken it even further, becoming involved with the woman shortly before she met her end.
Terrence was certain the grief and guilt would eventually overwhelm Sandhurst and he would blab about Glover as well. Terrence wanted to beat him to the punch, but now that he had his old friend’s ear, his throat had closed up.
Sensing his reticence, Pell filled the void. “So, do you really think the Borg are back?” The mention of the cybernetic monsters that had killed thousands of Federation citizens jolted him out of his awkward silence. Pell shivered and clutched her own shoulders for warmth. Her fair complexion became alabaster.
Neither he nor Pell had been at Wolf 359 though both had lost too many friends there. And some of the survivors had never been the same since.
“It’s the Borg, but not like any that we’ve encountered before,” Glover answered, leaning back in his chair. He rubbed his clean-shaven chin and ran all of the reports, mainly from the Enterprise; about the seemingly rogue Borg attacks in the Ohniaka system.
The reports had chilled him. The Borg the Enterprise crew had encountered weren’t the lumbering automatons of the past, but were fast moving and feral. That made them unpredictable, which upped their danger quotient.
Terrence wished Cuffe had been close enough to the action to get tapped for the fifteen-ship taskforce Admiral Nechayev had put together to patrol the system. It seemed that his fears had apparently come to pass with the recent disappearance of the Enterprise after encountering the ship again.
Starfleet Command didn’t know if the Enterprise had become the first casualty in a new Borg incursion. And now Cuffe had been called to join the search for the missing flagship.
He hadn’t completely agreed with the decision. Bajor was still recovering from Jaro Essa’s failed coup and Command had ordered Cuffe to Deep Space Nine to bolster the station’s defenses and the Federation’s presence.
While Glover wanted to help find the Enterprise he also felt he was leaving Deep Space Nine, and his old Academy roommate Benjamin Sisko in a lurch.
Ben hadn’t felt that way, but his protestations hadn’t mollified Terrence. The young captain didn’t like shirking his first assignment, but there wasn’t much he could do about it.
“I seem to have poked another sore spot,” the perceptive Bajoran said.
Glover chuckled, “You ever thought about becoming a counselor, or better yet, my first officer?”
Pell rolled her eyes. “You know that wouldn’t work. I can only take you in small doses.” Terrence’s laugh rolled heartily from his deep in his chest.
“And you know Donald would come with me, and that’s a reunion neither of you seem too eager for,” the Chevalier’s first officer added.
“True,” Glover admitted.
“I never got why that is,” Pell said, returning to old territory with them. “Donald is a great guy, if you gave him a chance.”
A little mirth squeezed out of him. “Hey, if I wanted to have a synthehol with the guy that’s one thing, but under my command I just felt Sandhurst didn’t have the fire in the belly he needed.”
“Not everyone wants laurels placed on their heads like you,” Pell said, a little pointedly.
“Ouch, didn’t mean to talk about your man,” Terrence said, “But you asked, and you know I’m not going to lie to you.” He paused, hoping that his old friend didn’t note the slight hitch in his voice as he finished speaking.
Even though he hadn’t lied to her about the other Pell he certainly hadn’t brought it up either. Is an omission deceitful?
“Terrence, you’re drifting again,” the Bajoran said as Glover pondered the question. Before he could answer, the room’s intercom intervened.
“Captain to the bridge,” the gruff voice requested/demanded.
With a mix of annoyance and relief, Glover said, “Pell, something’s come up, I’ve got to go.”
“Okay,” she said, clearly not satisfied that their conversation was getting cut short. “We can talk about this later,” the woman didn’t end the sentence strongly, leaving it open for Terrence to pick up the discussion if he wanted to.
He didn’t want to add a lie on top of his omission so he avoided the offer. “It is good seeing you again Ojana.”
“Be careful out there Terrence,” she warned, worry creasing her face. “Even newly minted captains are mortal.”
He chuckled, “Yeah? Run that by your captain and see what she says about that.”
Re: Dark Territory: Staring Into The Abyss
What?!? Shadow Puppets on hold? How dare you, sir?
Who am I kidding, I can't stay mad at cha. Cuffe is one of my favorite ships too and I'm always a sucker for more Terrence Glover. Already loving how you are filling in some of the blanks here with the Pell/Sandhurst/Glover relationship.
The title implies that we'll be in for a rough ride. Can't wait.
Re: Dark Territory: Staring Into The Abyss
Yeah, sorry about "Shadow Puppets", but hopefully I will be able to get back to it soon. I'm sure you know what it's like to hit a wall.
Thanks for reading and commenting, as always. I appreciate your commentary. Sometimes I feel it is nice to get back to some of the major relationships that made Dark Territory so interesting to me to begin with. Sometimes I have a tendency to go too far afield from that.
With this story I also want to build on the Glover-Sisko relationship, which is something I haven't actually spent much time about. In part because the series is technically post-Dominion War.
Captain Glover swept onto the bridge. “Captain on the bridge!” Commander Konall bellowed as he nimbly exited the center seat. Several bridge officers flinched at the loud announcement. Glover stopped and glared at the tall Klingon exchange officer, impressive in his gleaming Defense Force armor. Unusual from most Klingons, long, thick red tresses flowed down his broad shoulders.
Terrence made a mental note to pull Konall to the side and advise him to dial it back a little. Glover knew he was perfectly in his rights to dress down Konall on the bridge in front of the crew and that Konall might be more offended if the captain didn’t do that, if he didn’t assert his complete mastery of Konall and the rest of the crew, but part of the exchange program was exposing Klingon officers to the way Starfleet operated, and generally consideration of a person’s feelings was taken into far more greater account.
Glover smiled at his own memories of serving on the Klingon warship Dorna. If he was still on that vessel, he would’ve greeted Konall with a hard slap for calling him to the bridge in such a disrespectful, challenging way.
Instead he said, adding some bark, “Commander Konall, report!”
“We have received distress calls from the planet Helophis and the runabout USS Neuse,” the warrior said.
“What’s happened?” Glover asked.
Uncommonly, Konall paused, “Sir, both have reported being attacked by a Borg vessel.” The shiver that ran down Terrence’s spine seemed to grip many of his subordinates as well at the mention of the nearly invincible adversaries. Staring at the view screen and the deceptively peaceful stars, Glover’s face hardened as did his determination.
“Do we have any visual confirmation of that?” He asked. Konall turned toward the operations console and grunted. The Rasiinian manning the ops console deftly executed the first officer’s command. The only giveaway to Lt. Tunepp’s anxiety was the erratic changing color of his eyes.
The starfield shifted to a chaotic scene, narrated by a rich and very familiar baritone. Glover’s heart seized in his chest. “Benjamin,” he muttered. The interior of the small ship jittered as it took on fire, with sparks of electricity and plumes of smoke making it even harder to make out what was happening.
“Responding to a distress call from Helophis we have encountered a Borg vessel,” Sisko said, his voice tinged with both dread and rage. His brown face was contorted into a mask of pain and anticipation. Sisko was still coping with the loss of his wife at Wolf 359 and he had admitted to Terrence that there was a part of him that longed for payback and now that time had apparently come. Beside him sat a terrified younger woman, doing her best to adhere to her superior’s rapid fire commands.
The image shifted to the ship assaulting them. Gasps broke out among the bridge crew and a growl emitted from deep within Konall’s throat. Terrence blinked, not quite believing it. A smaller, faster Borg cube, one of their scout ships, was spitting green fire at the embattled runabout.
Terrence was amazed that it hadn’t atomized the Neuse already, and it was to Benjamin’s credit that the runabout was still in one piece. That being said, Glover dreaded what was to come next in the message.
“We...” the next part of the sentence was broken by static. “Are still in pursuit…” The Borg scout had retreated with Neuse on its warp trail. The narration and images ended abruptly just as the stars stretched out as the runabout went to warp.
Thoughts ran like an army of fire ants through Glover’s mind. Could this be the prelude to another invasion? Even one more widespread and destructive than the attack on Earth?
Could the Borg be after the entire Alpha Quadrant this time? Fear and indecision gripped him for only a nanosecond. He strode to the center seat but didn’t sit down. Konall similarly stood in front of the executive officer’s chair.
“Commander Konall, dispatch three shuttles with full medical and security complements to Helophis.”
“At once sir,” Konall said, dropping into his seat. His thick fingers jabbed at his console pad.
“Lt. Tunepp, find the last known location of the Neuse,” the captain ordered. “And triangulate from there where it might have gone.”
“Aye sir,” the Rasiianian said, his eyes changing color again. Terrence took a moment to glance at the upper deck. At the tactical console, Lt. Nyota Dryer was standing stiffly, her focus on her terminal. Sensing his gaze, she looked up and smiled shyly at him. Glover nodded in return. Their relationship was still relatively new, and while it wasn’t something Terrence liked to broadcast he didn’t want to go into battle without letting her know she was in his thoughts.
“I have the requested information Captain,” Tunepp interrupted his reverie.
“Helm,” Glover said, striding over to the terminal. A young, mahogany-hued El Aurian looked up at him as he awaited orders, nervousness making him look ancient. Terrence knew that the Borg had nearly eradicated the El Aurians a century ago. For just the briefest of moments, Terrence regretted having to give the order he had to.
The idea of sending this young man into the very jaws of the beast that had devoured his homeworld and much of his species was a terrible thing, but it was a necessary one; it was something captains had to do, as well as friends. Glover couldn’t bare the idea of losing Benjamin, so soon after the man had reclaimed his life.
“Mr. Ximenes take us there.”
Re: Dark Territory: Staring Into The Abyss
Captain’s Ready Room
Glover had had to pry himself from the bridge, but he felt it best to take this call in private. Uneasily settling into the leather-chair behind his desk, Terrence activated his desktop computer. The blue and gold laurel symbol of the Federation gave way to the pinched expression of Admiral Salk.
The captain couldn’t fault the Vulcan admiral’s surliness. “Captain Glover,” the admiral began without preamble, “I find it highly unusual that you directed shuttles to Helophis instead of the Cuffe.”
Terrence shifted uncomfortably in his seat. This was the first time he had been on the hot seat as a commanding officer. “Well sir,” he began.
“Helophis is hosting both Cardassian and Federation delegates,” Salk interrupted. “Their wellbeing is paramount.”
Glover shifted his jaw, his pique starting to rise. “Finding out if the Borg are preparing another invasion seems of greater importance.”
“Did you glean that conclusion from your extensive Starfleet and diplomatic experience?” The admiral upbraided.
“One could also say that Commander Sisko, being considered a religious figure to the Bajorans, is equally if not more so important,” Terrence pressed undeterred.
“I am not surprised that one who was the commander’s former Academy roommate would reach that conclusion,” Salk chided.
“The peace talks could officially end the Federation-Cardassian War and make this sector more secure for all its inhabitants, Bajorans included,” the Vulcan added.
“Would you like me to turn around sir?” Glover asked pointedly.
“No,” Salk shook his head. “That would be a waste of resources. You are correct that determining the extent of the Borg threat in this sector is critical.” The man paused, his expression losing some of its rigidity. “And I do understand Commander Sisko’s value not only as a religious figure but as a capable Starfleet officer. It would be unfortunate if he were lost.”
“I concur sir,” Glover nodded.
“Unfortunately Starfleet will not be able to provide any assistance. One starship has been dispatched to Helophis, and the Cardassians have also sent vessels.”
“I understand,” the captain said. Helophis was a Cardassian colony. The diplomats had made a point to have their sessions on both Federation and Cardassian worlds.
“And while I comprehend your emotional attachment to Commander Sisko and your desire to rescue him, learning the extent of the Borg threat is your primary mission. If either of these things come into conflict gauging the threat posed by the Borg comes first. Is that clear Captain?”
“Yes sir,” Terrence said through nearly clenched teeth.
Re: Dark Territory: Staring Into The Abyss
What is it with first time captain's facing the Borg? Looks like Terrence could have given Donners some hints.
Glover makes a ballsy but ultimately correct decision. Now to see if he'll come to regret it or if he can triumph over what appear impossible odds.
Re: Dark Territory: Staring Into The Abyss
Donners is doing just fine on her own, though I'm sure that wouldn't stop Glover from offering advice anyway, like he actually is doing in your awesome story.
The tension was thick enough to cut with a mek’leth. The lighting on the bridge was dark, with a crimson red alert tint. Captain Glover gripped his armrests, as the pressure built in his chest. He felt trapped in his own body, the energy charging within him about to explode any moment. Each second stretched out interminably as Cuffe hurdled through space. He had long since ordered Tunepp to not play Benjamin’s message but the man’s voice and those final, possibly fatal images of his friend’s Borg encounter, bounced around Terrence’s mind nonstop.
For the umpteenth time he asked how the search was progressing. “Sir we have not yet detected any new signs of the Neuse or the Borg vessel,” Ensign Kalos answered calmly, her countenance impassive.
Glover glared at the stoic green-eyed Vulcan, surprised that he missed Lt. Seb N’Saba who normally occupied the science station. N’Saba had taken leave for eye surgery following the tragic mission in the Tong Beak Nebula. Chief Medical Officer Nemato had accompanied the haughty Alshain to Lya Station Alpha to participate in the operation.
If N’Saba was sitting in the science chair his annoyance at Glover’s peppering would at least give Terrence a locus for his ire. And the man’s superciliousness would be better than the cool detachment the young Vulcan was giving him.
“Any other distress calls?” He asked Tunepp, though he already knew the answer. The blue-skinned Operations Officer answered in the negative. Terrence imagined his fingers digging grooves into both armrests’ metal finish. “What’s our ETA to Neuse’s last known location then?”
Beside him Konall shifted forward in his seat, his armor clinking softly. A low keen emitted from his throat. Terrence’s anxiety was infecting his first officer and likely the entire bridge. For the benefit of everyone, Glover probably knew it would be best if he chilled out in his Ready Room, but he couldn’t tear himself away from the bridge.
How could he look either Jake or Joseph Sisko in the eye if he was skulking in his private office when the Cuffe came across the remains of the Neuse and likely Benjamin’s corpse? He wanted to be there every step of the way. He owed it to them, he owed it to their friendship to give everything he could to seeing that his friend made it home, alive or….
Terrence shook his head, wishing he could tear the bad thoughts out of his mind like brushing away dusty cobwebs. But they clung to him, bedeviling him as they expanded, weaving around other painful memories and old centers of hurt.
His mother had been lost to space, aboard the Tombaugh almost a decade ago. Not knowing what happened to her, not being able to visit her grave even was an open wound for him. Terrence would likely never know how his mother had spent her final moments and there could always be the vain hope that she survived that would torture him all his remaining days, if he allowed it. He certainly didn’t want that fate to befall Jake, even if he had to be the one to inform the young man that his father was dead, which would make him truly an orphan.
“Lt. Dryer, what’s our weapons systems’ status?” He asked. Glover already knew that answer as well, but he wanted to hear Nyota’s voice and couldn’t come up with another professional reason to do so.
The Tactical Officer relayed the information, the inflection in her tone comprehending what he really wanted. Glover glanced back at Nyota and gave her a brief smile. She brusquely nodded, though her expression was soft. Terrence didn’t know where things were going with Nyota but he hoped they would have the time to figure it out.
“Chief Hwang, how are things looking in Engineering?” What the hell, why not check all of the major departments, he thought.
The older engineer replied about a nanosecond after he finished. “Warp engines are running at optimal efficiency,” Hwang reported, “My predecessor is to be commended.” Glover grunted. He certainly wasn’t planning on passing on that compliment to Sandhurst anytime soon.
Hwang was a new addition to the Cuffe. She had come aboard at Deep Space Nine. Though she had a venerable record which included serving aboard both starships and starbases, Hwang hadn’t been his first choice for Chief Engineer. Terrence had wanted his old friend Pedro Rojas for the post, but Pedro had chosen to stay with the Carolina until a suitable replacement could be found for him, and Terrence was certain that that ship’s master wasn’t too eager to see the talented engineer go anyways.
Hwang was in the twilight of her career but still had enough where withal to contribute, or so Glover hoped. “Sir I do caution however that we should not continue running the ship’s engines at full gallop.”
“Why so?” He asked, his tone more pointed than he intended.
Hwang, not fazed at all, replied, “It might be best to hold something back in case we need it if we do encounter the Borg.”
“I see,” Glover said, “Though we won’t know if that is the case until we actually find the Neuse and/or encounter the Borg.”
“Correct sir,” the chief engineer replied, “And if that does happen, with the propulsion capabilities of Borg vessels we will need as much power as we can muster if we need to retreat.”
“Retreat?” Konall snorted in disgust. “What kind of talk is that?” Glover glared at the indignant Klingon until the larger man settled down.
Before Terrence verbally chastised him, Hwang coolly riposted, “Commander Konall, with all due respect, you were not at Wolf 359. I was.”
Konall snarled which prompted a grin from Glover. The old good wrench might be a welcome fit for the Cuffe after all. The Klingons had been the process of sending warships to assist the Federation, and Konall had been aboard one of those ships. The battle was over before the Klingons arrived. Hwang had fought in an epic battle that Konall had missed, so her words no doubt stung his wounded pride.
Hwang’s comeback had lightened the mood a tick on the bridge. Terrence wondered if some among the bridge crew were living vicariously through Hwang right now since she had just checked the fearsome Klingon warrior like many of them had wished to do.
If so, the captain wasn’t sure how to feel about that. He wanted his crew to stand up to their superiors if they felt they were in the right or was being mistreated. He wanted a tough, fearless crew. Though if they stand up they better be supported by facts.
Watching them interact with Konall or avoid him was an interesting experiment. Terrence was using it to gauge which personnel he wanted to keep and which he would punt to some other assignment off the Cuffe.
“Chief, we will not decrease warp until we have arrived at the Neuse’s last reported location,” Glover said, deflating the balloon a little.
“Aye sir,” the chief engineer replied, with no hint of disappointment.
“Carry on,” the captain said in return. Terrence uneasily settled back into his chair. He watched the stars, stretched long like string, on the main viewscreen, a visual trick of the warp effect. The ship thrummed along, vibrating through the soles of his boots.
Terrence closed his eyes and did his best to calm his breathing. His eagerness was beginning to overtake him again.
“Sir!” Tunepp said with uncustomary emotion, “Long range sensors have picked up the Neuse.” Glover’s eyelids flapped open and he shot out of his chair.
Thundering to the Ops console, Glover snapped, “Oh screen!” A small silvery dot appeared. “Magnify!”
“My gods,” Ximenes breathed. Glover’s heart throbbed painfully from his throat.
“No,” he muttered. The drifting runabout had been cleaved into two, its cockpit scooped like ice cream. Shielding flickered around the dissected ship’s rear compartment.
“Is anyone…” The captain couldn’t finish the sentence.
“Sensors are detecting two bodies,” Tunepp said, “One is still alive.”
“Its shields are fading fast,” Lt. Dryer added.
“Beam them both to Sickbay at the next fluctuation in the runabout’s shields,” Terrence said. He turned from the screen, welling up his fears as he did so. “Commander Konall, you have the conn.” Konall was clearly peeved but for once he held his tongue.
“I’m going to Sickbay. I want to be there the second the Neuse crew is beamed aboard,” Terrence said. He didn’t add that he wanted to be alone with his grief for a moment if what he most feared true materialized in the infirmary. To see their captain break down would be very bad for morale, especially with what was likely to come next.
Re: Dark Territory: Staring Into The Abyss
Terrence Glover’s attention kept getting drawn away from his friend. Below him Benjamin Sisko was unconscious on the biobed. Beside the bed was a small table of gleaming medical instruments. Medical Technician Eaves ran a scanner over the battered man, the red stripe running across his duty uniform’s shoulders nearly as black as the rest of his uniform due to burn marks and smudges. A nasty, purplish bruise ran along one side of his face and it was just beginning to heal due to the Londoner’s ministrations.
Beside his old friend laid a young woman identified as Ensign Katie Gallagher. A rawboned beauty that wasn’t diminished by melted skin and seared blond hair. Her open, sightless olive green eyes spoke not of the terrors of the deep but the boundlessness of space. Her beauty and idealism would be immortalized.
“How is the commander?” Glover forced himself to avert his gaze from the dead woman.
“Commander Sisko endured minor burns and bruising, with significant smoke inhalation,” Eaves said, not looking up as she completed her latest scan. “He should make a full recovery.”
“Wake him,” Terrence ordered.
“Sir?” Eaves looked up, her confusion transmitted in rapid eye blinks. “The commander is still recuperating.”
Glover frowned at the tech, and wondered if he would have gotten less resistance from a more seasoned medical officer. With Nemato on Lya Station, the captain had perhaps gone overboard when he had dispatched the assistant Medical Officer Lage and most of the medical staff to Helophis.
Perhaps that was a rookie mistake, though Terrence had to wonder if it wasn’t just his subconscious making the grim realization that if they did encounter the Borg there was very little that a medical staff, no matter how talented, could do.
Eaves wasn’t a doctor or a nurse even but she was a combat medic, who had brought back men from some of the worst holes during both the Cardassian and Tzenkethi conflicts. The graying brunette was tough even if she wasn’t credentialed. Her not immediately doing as Terrence had requested was proof that she would hold her ground.
However her stoutness was nothing against Terrence’s force of nature. “The wind does not respect a fool,” Glover muttered, recalling one of Kahless’s most famous sayings.
“Excuse me sir?” Eaves asked, her eyes narrowing.
“Nothing,” Glover said, shaking his head as pulled himself out of his reverie. “Do as I ordered,” he said, his voice becoming more authoritarian.
“But sir, if we awaken the commander at this stage,” Eaves began.
“Time is of the essence,” Terrence cut her off. “Commander Sisko has valuable information about the Borg.”
“That’s what computer logs are for,” the woman mumbled as she leaned back over the insensate commander.
“What was that?” Terrence demanded.
“Oh nothing sir,” Eaves glanced at him and gave him a weak smile before finding a hypo among the assorted instruments on the table. She applied it to Sisko’s neck. There was a soft, but audible hiss and then Sisko gasped with wakefulness.
Terrence rushed to his friend, placing a firm hand on Sisko’s shoulder as he gazed down with concern. “Ben, it’s okay, you’re safe now, aboard the Cuffe.”
Sisko grimaced, trying to break loose from Terrence’s iron grip. The best he could manage was to prop himself on his elbows. Glover wasn’t letting him go any further. Eaves hovered on the other side, her hypo at the ready. The station commander’s eyes were bleary. “Wha-where?”
“The Cuffe,” Terrence repeated, softly but firmly. “We received your distress call.”
“Ensign Gallagher?” Benjamin croaked, “Where is she?” Terrence looked away for a moment, gathering himself. Turning back to his friend, Sisko spoke first, “She didn’t make it, did she Terrence?”
“No…I’m sorry,” Glover answered. Sisko eased back onto the bed, deflated. Terrence released his grip. Benjamin shook his head, exhaling heavily.
“She…was…just a kid. A history buff,” he added. “I brought her along with me to Helophis so that she could witness history being made…” His voice trailed off, punctuating painfully with a ragged sob. Sisko turned away from him, his voice sounding as lost as the man must have felt. “Another life snuffed out by the Borg.” Instinctively Sisko looked over at the dead woman, an anguished cry escaping from his lips.
The mention of the cyborgs, the reality of it now hit Terrence like a cold slap. “So it was the Borg you encountered?”
The commander’s head snapped back, his nostrils flaring, his eyes spitting fire. “Yes,” he nearly hissed. “I know those monsters when I see them.”
“Ben,” Terrence said carefully, “Tell me everything that happened.” Sisko sat up slowly on the bed. Eaves remained ready to attend to him. While he talked she ran a scanner over him, prompting him to grimace and swat at it occasionally as if it were a gnat.
So engrossed in the man’s recounting, Glover didn’t order Eaves to go busy herself elsewhere. After Benjamin finished, Terrence rocked back on his heels.
“So they were still in orbit of Helophis when you arrived; what were they doing there?” The captain asked, rubbing his chin. Sisko ran a hand gingerly through his close cropped hair.
“They were attacking the conference,” he paused, “Has there been any word of the casualties there?”
“Not yet,” Glover said. “I sent medical and security personnel there. Command informed me that the Cardassians are also sending ships.”
“Helophis is a Cardassian world after all,” Sisko pointed out.
“Do you think the Borg have designs on the Cardassian Union now?” Glover asked, both intrigued and troubled by the prospect. “They did first make their inroads in our space by attacking Romulan colonies.”
“It is a possibility, I suppose,” Benjamin admitted, his tone skeptical.
“You’ve got doubts,” Terrence didn’t need to be a Betazoid to see that.
“What’s the purpose?” Sisko said, “This is not how the Borg have operated.”
“That’s true, but ever since the Enterprise encountered a rogue band of them, I think our theories on the Borg have to be amended. Perhaps they want an empire the old fashioned way now.”
“Or they want to sow terror across the quadrant,” Sisko’s face hardened, “But for what reason? To what end?”
“I can’t wait to find these guys and ask them,” Terrence declared, with a bravado he didn’t fully feel.
Sisko glanced back at Gallagher’s graying corpse. “I want to do more than just ask Terrence.” His eyes flashed hotter than plasma storms. “They are going to pay for what they’ve done.”
Re: Dark Territory: Staring Into The Abyss
The Borg are back.
But what are they after? Their modus operandi appears to have changed. It appears they have caused little destruction so far and not assimilated anyone and their only victim so far appears to be a young ensign unfortunate enough of being the redshirt.
This is going to be tough of Sisko considering his history with the Borg, not to mention a hell of a challenge for an, as of yet, untested starship captain.
Re: Dark Territory: Staring Into The Abyss
Remember that Lore's Borg didn't assimilate anyone either, not counting Data. Though we later learn their seemingly random attacks were really a lure for the Enterprise and Data. We'll see what the lure could be in this story.
I always had hoped there would have been a Sisko-Borg story, preferably pre-Dominion and pre-First Contact film. He never really got his comeuppance, though of course I guess he didn't need it since he had learned to move on with his life. That being said, the fanboy in me wanted to see a round two so I'm sort of living out that fantasy with this story. (I do think that First Contact could've easily inserted Sisko over Picard in the film and it could've worked nearly as well, but I have no desire to rewrite First Contact with Sisko. I also think the VOY episode "Unity" could've worked with Sisko instead of Chakotay, and just switch the venue from the Delta to the Gamma Quadrant. It also would've gotten fans salivating at the prospect of a Borg-Dominion encounter more than they already were and still are).
Thanks again for reading and commenting.
“You alright Commander?” Glover asked quietly, leaning over in his seat. Sisko, who had taken over a noticeably annoyed Konall’s chair, grimaced as he nodded. The man was veering over the edge of the chair as if was about to topple onto the floor, sweat slicking his brow. His face was pallid. The DS9 commander seemed to be holding on by sheer determination. Benjamin had insisted on coming to bridge, inveighing upon even the formidable Eaves to clear him.
The technician had at least convinced Sisko him change his uniform, opting for the style still used on the Cuffe, with the division colors prominently displayed on the torso and sleeves and not by a strip along the shoulders. The Cuffe hadn’t made the switch over yet to the newer duty uniforms.
Despite his protestations Terrence could see that the man hadn’t fully recovered, his movements stiff and laced with pain. However he wasn’t going to deny his friend the opportunity to face off against the Borg again and Terrence also didn’t want to not have the station commander close by for immediate consultation.
“I’m fine,” Sisko said. “Please continue your conversation.”
“Dr. Lage,” Terrence turned back to the main viewer. “Continue.” The bronze-hued Caldonian assistant medical officer was looking at Sisko with a practiced eye. She pursed her lips, her eyes sending a message her mouth wasn’t ready to convey.
“Captain,” the woman finally said, “There were at least a dozen fatalities before we arrived and several we were unable to prevent,” Lage paused, her face pinching with frustration. Glover felt for the young medic. There was only so much any of them could do, even with all of the miraculous technology at their disposal.
The captain hated to ask, but he knew he had to. “Doctor were any of those fatalities our delegates?”
“Yes sir, unfortunately half of the initial dozen was comprised of members of both delegations,” she replied. “The others were local officials.”
“So the Borg attack was localized?” Sisko spoke up.
“Very much so Commander,” Lage said, her eyes regarding him as if she were seeking to diagnose him. “The Borg only attacked the conference hall were the peace talks were taking place. The remaining victims were those unfortunates who were nearby the building when it was assaulted.”
Both Terrence and Ben briefly looked at each other, with nearly identical curious expressions. Glover turned back to the main screen. “Thank you for the report Dr. Lage.”
The Caldonian nodded curtly in acknowledgement, her elongated cranium made the gesture look unwieldy. “Gul Evek has already contacted us. His starship, the Vetar, will be arriving within the hour. Should we return to Cuffe once the Vetar has arrived?”
“No,” Glover shook his head. There was no need for all of his crew to die today, he thought. But he said, “It’s doubtful but the Cardassians might actually want your help. If so, render the requested aid. Plus your presence will likely comfort our delegates.”
“But sir,” Lage began delicately, “I think our skills could best be used for the likely encounter with the Borg.”
“Medics are the last thing we’ll need if we encounter the robots!” Konall scoffed from an aft console. Lage was unperturbed and Glover ignored his sour first officer.
“You are needed more there, for our own citizens and for the Cardassians as well, a sign that we care and are responsive to their needs,” Terrence said. “That could go a long way to patching up any anger or dejection caused by this attack today. The peace process is of prime importance and your being there is now a key to keeping that process going forward. We’ve got things taken care of here,” The captain promised.
Lage relented. “Understood captain.”
“If there are any new developments inform me at once,” Glover advised.
“Aye captain,” the doctor answered. Once she had signed off, Terrence shifted his gaze to his old friend.
“So the Borg were seeking to disrupt the peace talks. But why?” Glover asked.
“Perhaps they wanted both sides to blame the other,” Sisko offered, “And just weren’t anticipating a runabout being nearby to interrupt their plans.”
“Maybe,” Glover said, something squirming in his gut about the whole affair. “But with random Cardassian and Starfleet patrols in this sector of space, doesn’t that seem like too unlikely a gamble for them to take and expect it to pay off?”
“That would be if they knew there were random patrols,” Sisko replied. The man was sitting up in his chair, his face now dry, and his voice returning to its normal rich deepness. Terrence hoped this was an indication that Benjamin was finally on the mend.
“Good point,” Terrence conceded.
“Captain, commander,” Ensign Kalos gingerly interjected. After Glover gave the Vulcan permission to continue, the junior Science Officer said, “If the Borg did or not consider encountering a patrol, the result of their discovery was a likely possibility, which I conclude meant they weren’t concerned about being identified as the culprit.”
Benjamin looked askance at his old friend. “Where are you going with this Ensign?” Terrence asked.
“It is a logical summation to conclude that the attack on the peace talks could disrupt them, but it is equally logical to conclude that the opposite would occur. The attack on Helophis could unite the Federation and the Cardassian Union together through shared tragedy,” Kalos finished.
“But why would the Borg want to do that?” Konall stole the words right off Glover’s tongue. Kalos’s left eyebrow arched skyward but no answer was forthcoming.
Konall had no problem elaborating on his thoughts. “A Federation-Cardassian alliance would make it even harder for the Borg to conquer this area of space, even lay waste to it.”
“Nor would it make sense for any other power with designs or hostile intentions against either the Federation or the Union to do such a thing,” the Klingon added. Which Glover thought was deft coming from him, because the Klingons and Romulans were on the short list of powers with either beefs against the Cardassian Union or the Federation. His voicing the concern disarmed the suspicion from taking hold, or did it….
“Maybe we are looking at this all wrong,” Lt. Tunepp waded in carefully. “What if the attackers weren’t worried about uniting the Federation and Cardassian Union? What if they didn’t care, because the Borg have displayed power sufficient to topple both nations…or, they already assumed they were united?”
“Come again Mr. Tunepp?” Glover asked.
“What if this wasn’t the Borg,” the Rasiinian suggested. The room went deathly quiet. Terrence glanced at Sisko and saw a storm forming over his countenance. Unfazed, the Operations Officer continued, “What if someone was making this look like a Borg attack.”
“But why?” Glover asked, adding, “And who?”
“The Brigade,” Tunepp offered. The Cuffe had just untangled itself from a plot involving the Brigade, a faction of renegade Starfleet officers helping foment revolt against the peace process. Terrence had actually been assigned to Cuffe to determine if Sabrina Diaz, the previous commanding officer, was a Brigade member. That concern had proven false, but the mention of the recreants brought back unpleasant memories of the cruddy way Glover had ascended to the throne.
“That’s reaching don’t you think?” Glover asked, incredulous. “And it conflicts with eye witness accounts of a Borg vessel.” Unbidden Terrence looked at his old roommate.
“It was the Borg,” Sisko’s frigid pronouncement chilled Terrence. There was no equivocation, no doubt. Just absolute certainty cresting on a wave of cold fury. “That cube has haunted my dreams for years. It was no magician’s trick, no sleight-of-hand, they are back and whatever they are up to we have to do everything within our power to stop them!”
“Commander Sisko is right,” Terrence said, reaching out to clap his friend on the shoulder for support, but Sisko shrank from the gesture. The man pulled within himself, his hard eyes returning to the main viewer.
“From what we do know of these allege…new Borg they are unpredictable,” Tunepp conceded. “There has been no established pattern in their previous activity in the Ohniaka system.”
“If I may sirs,” a voice came from the upper deck. The call kept Sisko from being pulled too deeply into his memories. Both he and Glover turned around in their chairs. Tunepp did likewise.
“Go ahead Lt. Dryer,” Glover encouraged.
“I’ve been pouring over what my security detachment sent me, and when you add in Dr. Lage’s report, this was a very organized attack,” Dryer said. “There was nothing unpredictable about this. It was done with precision.”
“What does any of that matter?” Konall fumed, throwing up his hands. “So the jat’yIn hate diplomats and know how to shoot straight, so what?! It’s not going to help them when we run them down!”
Dryer paused, allowing her superior officer to vent. “Bravado aside sir,” she said coolly, “The actions on Helophis demonstrate that these Borg aren’t as feral as the ones the Enterprise encountered. There might be a method to their madness and it would behoove us to figure out what that might before we rush off into battle against them.” The Klingon snorted loudly, throwing up his hands again, and Glover exchanged a smirk with Sisko.
“You make a good point Lieutenant,” Glover said. “These Borg might not follow the standard script and keeping that in mind just might keep us alive.”
Re: Dark Territory: Staring Into The Abyss
A lot of theories swirling around but no certainties. Something is for sure, these are not your garden-variety Borg. It remains to be see if this is going to make them more or less dangerous
Re: Dark Territory: Staring Into The Abyss
Hopefully all of your questions will be answered satisfactorily by the end of this story.
The lounge wasn’t it usual raucous place. The scant patrons were scattered about, alone or in small groups, eating and drinking quickly and talking little. Many were either going on shift or getting off and all seemed strained.
A somber mood had settled over the entire ship and even penetrated the After Burner. Terrence felt for his crewmen but there was little he could do to lift their moods. He couldn’t dissipate the billowing cloud of doom until they had met the Borg and somehow defeated them.
Starfleet’s track record hadn’t been so good in that regard. Glancing around at his glum compatriots he could only imagine that some feared that if the Enterprise had fallen to these Borg, and the Big D was the flagship, what chance did they possibly have?
He was certainly that’s the question, the doubt, he read in some of their eyes, though all were wise not to express it to him. Glover didn’t do doubt, including his own.
Sisko sat alone at the bar, his hands cradling an untouched drink. The man was staring morosely at the shelves of bottles behind the bar.
Glover took the stool next to him. “How are you holding up Ben?”
It took Sisko a moment to respond. Shaking his head, as if waking from a dream, or likely nightmare, Sisko said, “There have been no reports of Borg activity at Deep Space Nine or in the Bajoran system.”
“That’s good to hear,” Terrence nodded. “How is Jake?”
Sisko’s tension eased slightly, “He is doing well, concerned about me and anxious about these Borg sightings, but who isn’t?”
“I agree,” Glover said before waving the barkeep over to place an order.
“I informed Major Kira about Ensign Gallagher,” the mournful shroud fell back over Sisko’s face. “I have begun putting a letter together for her parents…but the proper words escape me. How can you truly describe such a loss or truly assuage such pain?”
The captain wondered if his old friend was talking about himself as well as Gallagher’s family. Terrence’s heart thudded painfully as hazy memories of a radiant Jennifer Sisko flitted across the surface of his mind. The last time he had seen her was at Gilgo Beach.
The Siskos had first met there and returned to the beach to celebrate their twelfth anniversary. They had invited relatives and several friends to join them, including personnel from the Okinawa and Saratoga. Cal and his wife Gretchen had been there. So had Charlie Reynolds, Quentin Swofford and their better halves.
Terrence barely remembered the random woman he had brought. Even if he was inclined to feel bad about that, old Curzon Dax had done him one better by coming stag and hitting on nearly every female, single or attached, on the beach that wasn’t part of the anniversary party. But knowing the wily Trill there probably were a few members of the party he propositioned as well.
Glover recalled the very last time he had seen Jennifer alive, resplendent in a rainbow sarong and matching bikini top, her smooth brown skin, beguiling ebony eyes, and wide, engaging smile. Benjamin had a protective, loving arm around her shoulders. And how Benjamin had glowed like the sun around her, his love for her strong and assured, their laughter deeper and fuller than an untapped Residic oil well. It was the last time Benjamin had been the optimistic young man Terrence had befriended at the Academy.
“I don’t think you can,” Glover offered. He steeled himself as an image of Jennifer’s stark, black casket was lowered into the ground. Terrence would always feel guilty, perhaps foolishly so, for not being at Wolf 359. Glover had chosen to stay on the Dorna instead of taking a proffered executive officer’s post on the Firebrand.
At that point in his life Terrence wanted nothing less than the captain’s chair. And he had felt, and still did, that taking the slot on Firebrand would’ve been a dead end.
He grimaced at the poor choice of words. The single-nacelled Freedom-class vessel had been one of the thirty-nine pulverized by the Borg. All hands had been lost.
It was doubtful that he could’ve made any change in the outcome for the Firebrand’s crew or prevented Jennifer’s death, to even think so felt wrong, and obscenely self-centered, even to him. However it just illustrated how impotent and powerless he was in the face of such brutal, naked power as possessed by the Borg. And if he felt that way, he could scarcely fathom how Benjamin did. “But you owe it to yourself, and to Ensign Gallagher’s family to try.”
Sisko nodded noncommittally, already being pulled back into the past. “I spoke with Command,” Terrence said, hoping the best way to keep his friend’s attention was not to acknowledge his despair. The DS9 commander didn’t perk up like Glover had expected.
The captain paused to take a sip of the Yridian brandy he had ordered. Normally he chose Arcturian fizz, but these weren’t normal times and he didn’t want to delude himself into thinking differently.
Terrence winced as the bracing amber liquid lit a fire down his throat. Yridian foodstuffs were something of a rage since Captain Ransom had made first contact with them a few years back. Actually it was more like a rediscovery since Federation scientists had thought the Yridians had become extinct.
Glover just hadn’t made the time to indulge in any of their food and drink and since this might be the last time he got to do so ever, he might as well try something new, he morbidly reasoned. It kept with the spirit of exploration that Starfleet was built on.
Downing the rest of the drink he wondered if he would ever get his Ransom moment. It was an incredibly selfish thought, with his grieving friend sitting beside him. Glover mentally chided himself for the momentary bout of self-pity.
Pulling his head out of his own posterior, Terrence plunged onward. “I spoke with Command,” he repeated. “The Kelly is en route to Helophis and should arrive within 36 hours. They have also cobbled together a taskforce to assist us. The Matheson, Banks, and Flynn will be joining us for the hunt, while the Bland is going to DS9 to protect the station, Bajor, and the wormhole.”
“What is their ETA?” Sisko asked, rousing himself from the doldrums.
Terrence sighed, “Being charitable the Banks should reach this sector in twenty hours, with Flynn and Matheson arriving shortly thereafter. Bland won’t be taking up residence at DS9 for at least another 48 hours.” Sisko grimly nodded.
“So it’s just us,” the station commander stated.
“For the foreseeable future, yeah,” Glover said, motioning for a refill. The quick Ktarian barman appeared as if by teleportation to replenish his glass. The man took a quick look at Sisko’s glass and then the man’s morose expression and thought better than to ask if the station commander wanted a replacement.
“You know,” Benjamin chuckled, but there was no mirth in the sound, “The wormhole aliens, the Prophets, had told me that I was rooted in the past, reliving Jennifer’s death on a continuous loop, and it took some convincing but I believed them. And I started trying to make a new life with Jake on Deep Space Nine. The nightmares had faded and the good memories I had of Jennifer had resurfaced, but now, after seeing that cube, it’s ripped the scab off of my delusions.”
“Benjamin, these aren’t the same Borg. The cube that…that destroyed Saratoga self-destructed over Earth,” Terrence said gently.
“It doesn’t matter,” Sisko gripped his full glass so hard Glover was surprised it didn’t shatter. Green liquid splashed over the rim onto Ben’s fingers and then the counter top. “They all share a collective consciousness, they all murdered my wife!”
“Benjamin, you can’t see it that way,” Glover tried. Sisko whipped around in his seat, his nostrils flaring, his eyes blazing like supernovae.
“Then you tell me just how I am supposed to see it Terrence!” Sisko charged. “Your wife wasn’t murdered! Your son’s mother was ripped from him!”
Embarrassed for his friend Glover glanced around the lounge. Most of the Cuffe personnel pretended not to pay attention to Sisko’s outburst.
“And to think Picard had the opportunity to finish the Borg once and for all, when he found that drone in the Argolis Cluster!” Sisko spat. “It was the least he could’ve done.”
Terrence was taken aback by the rage bubbling from his friend. Glover remembered that Sisko had harbored deep resentment against Picard for leading the Borg cube in its assault at Wolf 359. Terrence and others had tried to impress upon him that Picard had been enslaved by the Borg, turned into a monstrosity called Locutus and was not responsible for his actions.
While Sisko had eventually seen the logic of that argument it had taken him a long time for his heart to turn. In fact Benjamin hadn’t started to come around until his first encounter with the mysterious beings inhabiting the Bajoran wormhole shortly after he had assumed command of Deep Space Nine.
From what Ben had told him at the time, it was doubtful that he would ever become chummy with Picard, but that the Prophets had helped him realize the necessity to move on with his life. But now it seemed all that progress had come to naught; that whatever forgiveness Sisko had found for Picard was now in embers.
“For all we know Picard is still tethered to that damned hive!” Sisko pounded his fist against the bar, unable to restrain his frustration.
“The best minds in Starfleet said otherwise,” Terrence offered. Picard had doubtlessly been placed through the wringer to insure that he posed no continuing threat after the destruction of the Borg cube, its demolition he played a key role in. “Picard suffered too Ben.”
“If he truly had agonized, then he would’ve unleashed that invasion program,” Sisko riposted.
“You mean, infect a kid?” Terrence was aghast. In light of the reemergence of the Borg, Starfleet Command had released information about the Enteprise’s encounter with a Borg crash survivor in the Argolis cluster two years ago. Picard had ordered his chief engineer to develop a virus that could spread across the entire collective, via the young Borg’s subspace transceiver link. But then he had changed his mind, his conscience and crew convincing him that such an action amounted to genocide.
Instead they had sought to teach the drone the virtue of individuality. Once they had repaired him, they left him to be collected by another Borg vessel.
“It was right there, in their hands, the key to stopping that scourge from ever returning and Picard let it slip through his fingers!” Sisko shook his head in disgust.
“I can’t speak for him,” Terrence said, “But really Ben, could you have sent that drone back infected with a genocidal virus? We don’t know how many members there are of the collective and we can’t account for the unintended consequences of the Borg’s eradication.”
“So is that why you’ve had your chief engineer create a version of the invasion program?” Sisko shot back.
Glover frowned, feeling a bit defensive. “It’s a last resort,” He admitted. Hwang and Eaves had been working to inoculate the crew with a nano-cocktail containing the program. If any of the crew were assimilated by the Borg the entire collective would be in for a nasty surprise. “And it’s not something I’m proud of or want to do; it’s a necessity.”
“Exactly!” Sisko snapped his fingers. It sounded like a gunshot in the overly quiet lounge. While people were pretending not to pay them heed, Glover knew they were hanging onto every word.
“Hopefully it won’t come to that,” Terrence said, “For all we know the Borg have moved on from this sector.” Sisko looked regretful at the prospect. The man was grieving and he wanted vengeance. Glover couldn’t blame him, but he wasn’t going to let Sisko’s sudden and sad blood lust infect him or his crew. “Maybe they have achieved whatever it was they set out to accomplish,” he pondered, hoping deep down that was the case.
It might rob him his chance for glory against the machines, but Glover didn’t like seeing the ugliness they brought out in his old friend. Sisko’s jaw shifted as if he wanted to rejoin Terrence, but thought better of it. The DS9 commander returned to look at his warm beverage. Glover remembered that his own refill hadn’t been touched, but thirst was no longer what he needed quenched.
He wanted his friend back, he wanted to pull Benjamin away from the precipice, and he didn’t know how. “Ben,” Terrence tried again, “listen…”
“Captain Glover,” Commander Konall interrupted via the lounge’s intercom. Both men glanced up at the voice. Terrence was dreadful, but he noticed that Ben was expectant. “The Zubrin colony has been attacked,” the Klingon said without prompting, “By the Borg.”
Re: Dark Territory: Staring Into The Abyss
“Photon torpedoes and phasers, full spread!” Captain Glover barked, on the edge of his seat. Sisko had jumped out of his, both feet now rooted onto the deck, his eyes locked on the main viewer.
Above Zubrin colony hung a Borg cube, a patchwork of dark corrugated metals, probably pilfered from hundreds of worlds. A sickly green light illuminated the blocky vessel from within. The cube wasn’t like the gigantic one that had attacked Sector 001 several years ago. It was smaller than the Cuffe, but that didn’t comfort Terrence at all. Size was no determinant of Borg lethality.
“Aye,” Konall said behind him, barely containing his glee. The Klingon had bumped Lt. Dempsey off the tactical station as soon as Glover and Benjamin had sprinted to the bridge. The security officer hadn’t appreciated it, but Terrence had chalked it up to superior officer’s prerogative. Plus he thought Konall’s ferocity might be more useful.
The sore Dempsey had taken up position on the bridge with the rest of the security detachment Terrence had ordered. In addition to demanding that each crewmember be armed for the duration of this mission while on duty, the captain had wanted round the clock security on the bridge and in Engineering.
If the Borg infiltrated their shields in an attempt to abscond him or one of his crew Glover was going to make sure they were going to regret it.
The walls trembled slightly as a deadly fan of energy beams and torpedoes erupted from the Nebula-class ship and tore through the void and crashed against the Borg cube. The barrage lit up the darkness and exposed the verdant shielding around the cube.
“All direct hits,” the Klingon first officer crowed.
“Damage report,” Glover asked.
“Their shields are holding,” Konall chortled in awe, thrilled by the challenge.
“Hit them again,” the captain commanded. He didn’t want to give the scout ship a chance to respond. “With rotating phaser frequencies and altered photon harmonics,” he added. Terrence had read up on the Borg’s amazing, yet damnable ability, to adapt to Starfleet’s energy weapons.
However their adaptive abilities weren’t flawless and if they could stay one step ahead of the machines the Cuffe just might survive. Another fusillade struck the Borg vessel, producing a bright flash that nearly shorted out the main viewer’s receptors.
“Their shields are down!” Konall continued vaunting.
“What?” Terrence blinked, in part from the sudden increased illumination, but also from surprise. He glanced back at the Klingon before looking at Ben. However Sisko’s head was too wrapped into the battle, or more likely his nightmares, for Glover to gauge his opinion. This was going way too easy, and he didn’t like it.
“Target their propulsion system,” Glover ordered next. “I don’t want them slipping through one of those transwarp conduits like at Ohniaka.”
“Yes sir,” Konall briskly responded.
“Reading increased subspace fluctuations emanating from the Borg vessel,” Lt. Tunepp tersely said.
“Are they powering weapons?” Glover asked; a hitch of concern in his voice. Was the other shoe finally about to drop?
“No sir, they are powering their engines,” the Rasiinian asked after a beat.
“Fire now Mr. Konall!” the captain barked. Before the Klingon could comply the Borg ship activated its engines and hurtled toward them. “Evasive maneuvers!” Terrence yelled at the helm. The young Roylan manning the console jumped into action, jerking the ship hard to port.
Terrence could hear the strain in the ship’s struts at the spur of the moment action, the inertial dampers a few seconds behind. Glover had to grip both armrests firmly not to be thrown from his seat. Dempsey and most of his security detachment weren’t so lucky and they were thrown to the floor. Somehow Benjamin remained standing.
There was a horrific shrieking and the ship juddered violently. “The Borg cube has impacted our port side,” Tunepp reported, “There are several micro-punctures in the portside primary hull. Emergency procedures have already been activated.”
“Good,” Terrence said quickly, “Now Ensign Zaloom lay in a pursuit course!”
“Captain,” Tunepp interjected.
“Go ahead Mr. Tunepp,” Glover said tightly, dreading what the man was going to say next. He just hoped that the Borg ship hadn’t damaged their engines.
“We are receiving messages from Zubrin colony,” the Rasiinian continued. “The Borg laid waste to a major metropolitan area before our arrival. There are a significant number of casualties. They are requesting assistance.”
“Captain Glover,” Benjamin now turned to him, a desperate plea in his eyes. He wanted that scout ship; he needed it to exorcise his ghosts. Terrence could also feel the weight of his crews’ eyes on him, and sensed that they were split over whether to assist the Zubrin colonists or pursue the Borg vessel.
So this is what being a captain really is all about, he sardonically thought.
Re: Dark Territory: Staring Into The Abyss
Pushing all of the eyes on him to the back of his mind, Terrence smacked the delta-shaped combadge on his chest. “Glover to Eaves,” he said quickly.
“Eaves here,” the woman responded nearly as fast.
“You and your entire medical staff are beaming down to the surface,” he ordered.
“Aye-,” before the woman could finish, Glover cut her off.
“Commander Konall energize,” the captain ordered. The Klingon fingers pounded against the consoles controls.
“Teleportation complete,” Konall said several breaths later.
Glover stood up and eye-pinioned Lt. Dempsey. “Horace, get down there with your team and assist the medical staff.”
“Yes sir,” the security chief said, pointing at the other security team on the bridge. They all formed around him. Terrence shifted his gaze to his first officer and grunted. The security detachment was enveloped in shafts of sparkling light.
Lt. Dryer rushed onto the bridge, from the turbolift right before the Dempsey’s team had fully dissolved. Behind her galloped Ensign Ximenes.
“I knew you wanted to be in the thick of the action,” Terrence smiled. Though Nyota was off shift, he admired her dedication to her ship and crew, especially to him. He preferred having her on the bridge and at Tactical more than Konall or Dempsey.
“Take your post Lieutenant,” he ordered. Nyota gave him a sidelong look before following his command. Konall growled low, refusing to step aside.
“Commander,” Glover raspsed. His shoulders bunched, as if he were preparing to fight over the issue. “Konall, son of Koldo! You will follow my orders or face my wrath!” Terrence cranked up his angry voice, which had gotten a lot of usage during his time on the Dorna.
Konall’s nostrils flared and challenge flitted through his eyes. But the streak dissipated quickly and the Klingon stiffly stepped backward. He flashed a feral smile. “The station is yours Lt. Dryer, strike well.” He stood awkwardly beside her, not sure what to do or where to go next. Terrence wasn’t quite sure either.
Glover next turned to Ben. The man’s face was contorted with anger and frustration, his lips working but no sound coming out of them. There was a faraway look in his eyes and Terrence could only imagine that Sisko was replaying the firefight with the Borg again in his head. They had been so close to them, so near to finishing this, but the Borg had gotten away again, to spread more devastation, to make more widowers. The man was in turmoil and there was nothing Terrence could really do. Except…
“Helm, stay on that vessel’s impulse trail!” the captain ordered. Ximenes was already seated behind his console, the seat reconfigured for his larger frame.
Ensign Zaloom had scampered toward the turbolift, his head down, his rapid eyelid clicking soft but audible. “Ensign Zaloom,” Glover called. The diminutive reptilian stopped with a start, his shoulders hunching slightly as if he had been caught doing something illegal. He turned slowly, his nictitating eye lids slowing as well. “Good job,” Terrence said, punctuating the compliment with a smile. The young officer’s shoulders dropped, his tension pouring out of him like a sieve.
As the younger man entered the lift, Glover felt the ship turning about in the direction of the retreating Borg cube.
Sighing, Terrence turned back to his last knottiest issue. “Ben, I think Chief Hwang could use a hand in Engineering.”
“Terrence I should be here, on the bridge,” Sisko protested.
“Right now your skills as an engineer are more valuable to this ship than your encounter with the Borg,” Either encounter, Terrence thought, but didn’t elaborate.
“I want to be here, I need to be here when we catch them!” The DS9 commander dug his feet in the sand.
“My ship, my rules,” Terrence said, flexing slightly as his authoritative side took over. “And you go where I say you do.” He hated treating Benjamin that way, but the man was becoming a distraction, not just to him, but the bridge crew as well, and everyone needed to be on their A-games when they found the Borg scout ship again. If wasn’t even a consideration.
And Glover hoped that giving something Sisko something to do would help break up the thundercloud forming within the man.
“You need me here,” Sisko half demanded/half pleaded.
“Commander Sisko,” Glover said, stressing the man’s lower rank, “You will follow my orders or I will have you restricted to quarters!”
Benjamin glowered at him, the air becoming thick between them. Terrence held his stare. After a few tense moments, Sisko relented, “Aye….sir,” he said tightly, smoldering.
He turned on a dime and pounded his way to the turbolift. Terrence wanted to call after him, reach out to him, and apologize for pulling rank. It was something he never thought he would ever have done to Benjamin.
But he didn’t. He was a captain now and he couldn’t have his crew see him second guessing himself or relenting in the face of a subordinate officer’s obstinacy. If he set that precedent here, so early in his command it would plague him for the rest of his career.
So instead of turning toward Sisko, Terrence turned toward the main viewer. His eyes burned holes through the empty space before him. Glover intensely wanted that scout ship; he wanted this over, more than ever. And he just hoped he could still call Ben a friend afterwards.
Re: Dark Territory: Staring Into The Abyss
Glover has to make some hard choices but of course those come with sitting in the big boy chair. But now those decisions may cost him one of his most treasured friendships.
Ben Sisko's judgment of course is seriously impaired at the moment and Terrence is absolutely right in banning him off the bridge before he can make a bad situation worse.
Re: Dark Territory: Staring Into The Abyss
Wow, this is a great read, DK! Lots of edge-of-the-seat action and an intriguing plot to boot. I'm enjoying seeing Terrence in action as he acclimates to this crew. While I'm not always a fan of Glover's command style or personality, he's showing his mettle here. Tough call, pulling rank on Sysko, but it was the right thing to do. Also like how he relates to his Klingon First Officer. :klingon:
Still puzzled as to the Borg's intentions here, but that's part of the intrigue. I guess you'll let us know in due time. :borg: :techman:
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