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.”