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.”