Glover’s breath caught painfully in his chest. “Prakesh is powering weapons.” Sisko intoned, his voice detached.
Terrence forced the trapped air up his wind pipe and through his lips. “We’re dead anyway,” he surmised. “Prepare to throw everything we have left at them.”
“Aye sir,” Benjamin said, “And Terrence…”
“I know Ben,” Glover replied, not looking back at his friend, unable to accept the man’s resignation or his own. “It sucks that this is the only mission we’ve served together on.”
“Agreed,” Sisko added.
“On my mark, let’s give these bastards Hell,” Glover commanded. He stood up as the Galor-class cruiser bore down on them, the crimson eye appearing to wink as energy ribbons coruscated across it. Terrence wanted to be on his feet, standing proudly on the deck of his starship as he met his fate. It was a short ride but at least he had made it and would die a Starfleet captain.
“Hold,” Glover told Benjamin. The man hadn’t asked to activate the ship’s weapons yet, but Terrence knew him well enough to know how Sisko thought.
He wanted the Cardassians to get in closer, so that Sisko could deliver as fatal a blow as possible.
“Prakesh is hailing us,” Sisko said a moment later. Glover glanced back at him. Both men wore perplexed expressions.
“Put them on screen,” Terrence said after a thoughtful pause.
“Why are you targeting us?” Gul Dukat demanded.
“You’re bearing down on us!” Glover shot back.
“Your sensors are off,” Dukat countered. Terrence glanced again at Sisko. His friend scowled. Was this some trick? Glover’s look inferred. Sisko gave a short shrug. The DS9 commander wasn’t sure.
“We came back to help,” Dukat declared. “Our weapons are aimed at the Borg ship.”
“Oh and I thought you were coming back to scavenge over our remains,” Glover charged. Though it was unwise to taunt a man commanding a fully functional battle cruiser, Terrence wasn’t in the mood to mince words. “Why did you turn tail and run?”
Dukat shifted his ridged jaw and his eyes receded into his bony sockets. It gave an ominous cast to his face. “I don’t retreat,” he said, his tone dangerous. “I thought the Borg ship would follow us. We are the more powerful vessel, the bigger threat. I thought our ruse would give you time to escape. Once I realized that the Borg had not chased us, we circled back.”
“Seems like you took the scenic route,” Terrence smoldered.
Dukat’s head reared back, like a serpent’s. “I see that you and Benjamin also took the same etiquette class at the Academy. Both of you could learn a thing or two about gratitude.”
“My hero,” Glover gave a grandiose bow. “Well at least you can provide backup.”
“Backup?” The gul asked. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m leading an away team onto that vessel,” Terrence said. “I think they would think less about bolting with you around.”
“I can’t allow that Captain,” Dukat declared. “We are going to destroy the Borg cube.”
“We need to find out who or what is really onboard or powering that ship,” Glover replied. “This could not be the Borg at all.”
“It certainly looks like the Borg to me,” Dukat scoffed.
“But have they acted like the Borg, at either Helophis or Zubrin?” Glover ventured, “Or even in their battles with my ship?”
“This odd behavior on the part of the Borg was observed by Starfleet in the Ohniaka system,” Dukat replied. “Who knows what affliction has befallen them, or maybe the Borg are evolving. I don’t care which. The victims of Helophis…and Zubrin must be avenged.”
“He’s right,” Sisko said quietly, his voice riven with guilt. “Dukat is right.”
Terrence tore himself away from the main screen. “Benjamin, you can’t believe that. We have a duty to find out what’s really going on here.” Sisko said nothing and his eyes were just as empty.
“Captain Glover, I think Commander Sisko understands our higher duty is to protect lives, respective to each of our nations,” Dukat said, his tone sympathetic. That enraged Glover more than the man’s reasoning.
“No, what you’re talking about is murder!” Glover charged, turning back around to face Dukat.
“I’m talking about justice!” Dukat declared, exasperated. “What is with you Starfleet officers and your high horses?”
“This isn’t a speech I’m making,” Glover said in return. “It’s a promise. If you fire on that scout ship we will fire on you.”
“Commander Sisko?” Dukat looked past Terrence.
“I’m in command!” Glover snapped. Dukat regarded a mute Sisko for a few more moments before shifting back to Glover again.
“Of course Captain Glover,” Dukat said, punctuating his words with a respectful head nod. “It seems we have reached an impasse.”
“I’m going to assemble an away team,” Terrence said. “You’re welcome to join us aboard the Borg ship.”
“That will not be possible I’m afraid,” Dukat said, glancing off the screen before communications were cut.
“What’s going on?” Glover’s head swiveled back to the tactical station. Benjamin loomed over it, even more morose.
“Prakesh is powering its forward weapons array,” Sisko said.
“Target that array Commander,” Glover snapped.
“Terrence,” Benjamin hesitated.
“Prakesh is firing,” Sisko announced. “Multiple volleys.”
“Fire,” Glover ordered. Sisko’s hands palsied over the controls. He looked up at Terrence, his lips working but no sounds coming out, his face contorted by a tidal wave of emotions.
“Damn it,” Terrence half-pleaded, half-roared, “Fire!”
Several beams tore at Prakesh, but the battle cruiser had already moved and they seared harmlessly through empty space.
There was no trace of the Borg ship. It had been completely vaporized by the Galor class cruiser.
Prakesh swung back into view. The image shifted to a solemn Dukat. “Justice has been served,” he said gravely. “I hope that the victims’ families can find some comfort in that.”
Terrence seethed. He wasn’t sure who he was angrier at: Ben or the self-righteous Cardassian. “I think its best you leave Dukat, now.”
“But don’t you need further assistance?” He asked, with mock innocence, “We could utilize our tractor beam to tow you back to Deep Space Nine.”
“You’ve ‘assisted’ us more than enough today,” Terrence spat. “And if you really don’t want to see how ungrateful I can be, I advise you to depart.”
“It is a shame Captain that you would darken this great example of cooperation between our nations,” Dukat chided gently. “I think it portends to a great future for the Federation and Cardassian Union.”
“Not one more word,” Glover threatened.
“Well at least one person on your ship understood what had to happen,” Dukat slid another needle in.
“That’s it,” Glover stomped over to the helm. He dropped down into the seat and redirected tactical controls to his terminal. He charged Cuffe’s weapons and aimed them all at the Prakesh. “You’ve got thirty seconds.”
Dukat held up his hands in a very humanlike gesture. “Okay, I can see there is no talking reason to you at the moment. Perhaps some other time?”
“Ten seconds,” Glover itched to pull the trigger.
“Some other time then,” the Cardassian gave a curt nod. The picture changed back to the Galor. Prakesh angled around quickly and was gone in a wink.
Glover sagged in his seat, the hatred boiling out of him like steam. He restored control back to the tactical station. “Commander I want a condition report as soon as possible.”
“Aye sir,” Sisko responded slowly, his uncertainty about their friendship palpable.
Glancing across his ruined bridge, Glover had more vital concerns than that. “Once we get this ship running again and the injured cared for, we’re going to talk.”