Terrence couldn’t quite remember ever having seen his bridge quite this busy. Most of the aft stations were double or even triple manned with men and women industriously going back and forth, coming and going, passing on padds and information in a seemingly endless stream.
His usually spacious bridge felt packed and the noise level was making it difficult for him to focus on the main screen where he watched with great apprehension a cutaway schematic of the underground Omega facility far below. Blue dots indicated their people while red dots were the enemy. At present there were far too many red dots, swarming all around the scattering blue ones.
“Sir, Meldin reports his team has located and destroyed all traces of boronite in the facility,” said Amanis Bheto from operations, her sharp voice cutting through the background noise on the bridge.
He nodded in acknowledgement even if she couldn’t see that from where she was sitting. “Finally some good news,” he said and focused in on the quadrant of the map where his security chief had led his team to destroy the one substance which was essential in synthesizing the Omega molecule. “Now we just have to worry about the generators. Tell Meldin to have his people assist the other teams to hold off the Xenarth.”
“No need,” she said. “Donners has already given the order.”
He couldn’t help himself but smirk. There had been a reason the rookie captain had practically demanded to be part of Operation Pandora’s Box on the ground. She had wanted to be close to the pulse and lead it from the front. She certainly was doing just that.
The Andorian ops officer turned in her chair to make eye contact with her commanding officer. “Sir, Meldin is reporting three fatalities.”
Terrence Glover nodded. The notion that he wouldn’t lose people on this mission had been an unrealistic fantasy. It certainly hadn’t been the first time he had lost people under his command and he knew it wouldn’t be the last. Right now he had no time to mourn. “Tell him to bring them back onboard, Commander. We’re not leaving anyone behind.”
Kojo walked up on him, studying a padd. “It’s not looking good down there,” she said.
“I’ve got eyes, Nandali, I can see that.”
She went on as if he hadn’t spoken. “Omega-Three has seventy percent of the molecules destroyed but team one and two are behind schedule and judging by the enemy troop movements they may not have enough time to complete the shut down procedures, scuttle the generators and make a clean exit.”
“Leave it to the Marines to get things done right, huh?” he said. “Get hold of Lieutenant Sh’Fane and let her know to speed things up any way she can and then have her people support the other teams holding back the Xenarth. That should buy them some time.”
The beautiful Kriosian warrior woman glanced up from her padd. “Donners is not going to like you armchair quarterbacking this.”
He aimed an amused look at her. “Armchair quarterbacking? Really?”
She looked momentarily confused. “Is that … not the right term?”
“I just didn’t know you knew football.”
“What’s football?” she said with a straight face.
“Relay the message, Commander,” he said. “She can get mad with me when she comes back out of this alive.”
She nodded with a faint smirk on her lips.
“Captain, I have the Agamemnon
hailing,” said one of the three officers currently manning the tactical station.
“Put them through,” Glover barked.
An inset picture at the bottom of the screen showed the blue-skinned Bolian currently in command of the other starship while its captain was battling on the surface. The man’s brow was furled into thick worry lines and Glover couldn’t blame him for it. He could hardly hear him when he spoke over the noise all around him but the few words he did catch were not promising at all.
“Can I have some quite please,” he said.
Absolutely nobody on the bridge seemed to have been listening.
“Everybody shut up for one minute,” he barked, his booming voice momentarily freezing everyone to the spot. “Better,” he continued and looked back at Texx who looked slightly stunned himself. “Commander, you were giving me more bad news?”
He nodded slowly. “We’ve detected a vessel entering orbit around the moon.”
That captured everyone’s attention on Cuffe
’s bridge. Terrence massaged his temples, fighting the urge to shout at somebody for not having been told this already. “More Xenarth reinforcements?”
Texx shook his head. “It’s not Xenarth. The design doesn’t match anything in our database but we’ve tracked its course and it seems to have originated from Hugh’s vessels last known position. It looks like a smaller version of his ship. A shuttle, most likely.”
“Son of a bitch is making a move,” said Glover, instantly regretting the fact that they had not kept closer watch on the liberated Borg who had already made their designs for the Omega particle unmistakably clear. After their ship had been torn apart, he and Donners had foolishly written them off as a potential threat. It was a mistake that was going to cost them now. “Please tell me we can intercept.”
But the apprehensive look on the Bolian’s face made his answer obvious even before he opened his mouth. “We’re out of position to get to them before they can enter orbit.”
Terrence glanced towards Jean Hajar but his helmswoman was already shaking her head. “I’ve got them on sensors. They’re entering orbit on the far side of the moon. We have no chance to intercept in time,” she said and then turned to look at him with an apologetic look on her face.
He uttered a heavy sigh. “Somebody get a hold of Donners and let her know that her life just got a whole lot more complicated. And I want four sets of eyes on the goddamned sensors twenty-four seven. No more surprises people.”