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.”