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.