Old Post. New Audience. Enjoy.
Andrea Petros woke to the sounds of battle.
The Intrepid-Class ship Diego, so fresh off the docks you could still hear the dock workers cursing at her, was being shaken down by an experienced command crew and over one hundred newly-minted Starfleet personnel, the joke being the ships life support was still venting baby-powder out of the mid-shipmen’s births. They hadn’t even left the Sol system.
Andrea had to pry open her door. The youngest of the command staff, also fresh off the Academy grounds, Andrea was being groomed for the big chair, and a patrol along the Romulan Border. Her training simulations had shown an almost psychic understanding of the battlefield, and a cool head under fire.
The door forced open, Andrea found crew on the floor everywhere. Smoke hung in the air and the primary lights were flickering. A jolt and muffled thunder shook the ship, and the new crew sat on the floor of the hallway, horrified.
“Get to your stations! Get moving, or I’ll shoot you myself!” It was a little thick, but she knew fear of battle could spread throughout the ship, and that would be the end of all things Diego.
The sound of the weapon hitting the shield told her volumes. Too low of a rumble for Romulan disruptors, too concentrated in duration for Klingon beams. Only one race threw a disruptor like that, capable of being felt through the shields: It had to be the Borg.
Allen Skagg was at the turbolift as she ran up. Allen was a wizard at the sensor board, and one of the best analysts at the academy. He could do things with computers that many instructors still debated. It was Allen that stopped her before she ran into the lift doors. “Don’t bother.”
“We can take the ladder in section 3…”
“I mean, don’t bother heading to the Bridge.” Allen activated the wall monitor and brought up a damage display of the ship. The Bridge section only showed a black outline, and everything under it flashed red.
“Oh my God, the Bridge…”
“It was Shift Change.” Allen’s calm statement burned into her stomach. First and Second Watch, all destroyed. “They knew when and where to hit us.”
Andrea was in charge. She quickly verified with the ship’s computer as she ran for the auxiliary control room. “Watch 3 to Aux-Con.” The computer reported there was one officer on-board with higher command rating. “Bridge to Engineering, Lieutenant Grayson, please report.”
“Power still functional, command codes transferred to the Aux-Con.”
“Lieutenant Grayson, Sir…”
“No. I’m needed right here. Take charge, Petros.”
“No shirking for you.” Allen activated his console and the controls moved across the display until they matched his personal configuration.
A young Andorian male was already clearing debris off the navigation console, and an Orion Female was punching data into the weapons console. Officers Aquella and Vernes, although that’s not what Andrea called them during Simulation.
“Blue, 180 mark 0. Green, weapons check. Allen, tactical.”
“On screen, said Allen as Vernes added, “All weapons on-line.”
The front view screen illuminated and Andrea saw her opponent looming. Borg Cubes get a lot of press, but a Borg Sphere can ruin most ships in the Federation.
Allen brought up a display on her personal view-screen. “Looks like the shields were down when the initial attack took the Bridge. They must have come out of Trans-Warp right on top of us.”
“Where’s Sparks?” Sparks was the nickname for Knust, the Comm officer. “Allen, send code 9, Blue… 0 by 345, best speed.”
The Diego angled up fifteen degrees and headed past Mars at near-light speed, the Sphere in close pursuit.
“Aft Torpedoes, Fire!” Two angry red balls of fire arced into the sphere, covering it with fire.
“No noticeable affect.” Allen continued to stare into his monitors as another disruptor bolt smashed hard into the rear shield.
“They are trying to match our shield frequency!” Green Shouted.
“Rotate shield harmonics. Allen, something I can use.”
“They aren’t trying to tractor us, and they should be faster than we are, although they aren’t gaining.”
“Did… could we have somehow pulled them out of a Trans-Warp Conduit?”
“We might have been going to Warp right in their path. It could have disrupted their field and pulled them into normal space.” Andrea heard Allen punching figures into his console. “I’m reading some kind of noise from their reactor at 216.21 gigahertz.”
“Green, configure Phaser frequency to 216.21 gigahertz.”
The beam lanced out from the underside of the Diego and impacted against the sphere. At first, nothing appeared to happen, but a long heartbeat later green plasma began venting from the rear starboard of the dark green Sphere.
“One of their injectors is off-line.”
“Aft Torpedoes, Fire!” Again twin red orbs arced into the Sphere, but this time some of the fire seemed to stick.
“Moderate Hull damage, no forward disruptor fire evident.”
Andrea was about to give the order to turn and fight when an explosion launched her into the air and over the navigation console. She landed under the primary display screen.
“Engineering to Bridge, they’ve hit us with some kind of graviton pulse. Warp drive is off-line, and the dilithium injector is fused!”
Everything was beginning to go black, a dark tunnel was quickly closing around her.
“Into… asteroid.” Then everything went black.
A blurred white light began to focus into ceiling lights. Andrea was aware of someone holding her hand.
“I’m not sure that’s regulation.”
“Nonsense. I’m merely taking your vitals.” The hand holding hers quietly slipped to her wrist.
A new voice chimed in. “I have told Lieutenant Skagg several times my monitoring systems are fully functional.”
“Status, Mister Skagg.”
“We managed to make it into the asteroid field, near observation post L9. Was that your intention?”
“We need a stronger signal to break their jamming.”
“How did you know we were being… never mind.”
Andrea’s vision finally cleared. Allen was there on her right, supposedly taking vitals, and a small, bald man was standing at the foot of her bed, smiling just a little.
“Are you the EMH?”
“Please state the nature of the medical emergency,” the man said with a smile.
“Is Doctor Teinstien…”
“He’s fine,” the EMH said with more than a little comfort in his voice. “There were 38 wounded, and the Doctor needed my assistance.”
“I always heard you EMH’s were… um.”
“EMH matrix 2.4, at your sevice. We were all upgraded significantly when Voyager returned from the Delta Quadrant.”
“Well, thank you, Doctor, but I must be getting back…”
“Right. This is where you try to shut me off and resume your duties before I have stabilized your concussion. Command protocols were also upgraded, too bad for you. I have you for another 10.4 hours, whether you agree or not. I will allow you a PDA if you don’t cause trouble.”
Andrea started to argue, but immediately thought better of it. “Thank you Doctor. As for you, Mister Skagg, I think there are duties that require…”
“My attention. Don’t worry, I have my own little control panel right here.” He touched his communicator. “Command staff report to Sick Bay.”
The refitted Intrepid design housed one of the most complex holographic systems in Starfleet. While Andrea and Allen were in the Sick bay, all the other staff members appeared as projections from wherever they were working at the moment.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, please excuse my appearance. Mr. Grayson, report.”
“We lost the entire dilithum injector. The good news is we were scheduled to do a field repair on the system as part of our training class, so we’ll be back to main power in about an hour. Rear shields are a mess, but I can replicate a replacement once I get main power back online. 2 hours for install and 6 for calibration.”
“They are still searching for us. Without a power signature from the engines they seem to be having issues locating us due to the Cobalt content of the asteroids. We are 700 clicks from listening post L9. The fact that Starfleet hasn’t launched a rescue operation suggests they do not know that the Borg ship is here.”
“Meaning possible long-range stealth technology. Mister Aquella.”
“Manuverablitly is limited, and deflector output is at a minimum to avoid detection. We are using very-low hull-close shielding to protect from impact, and trying to roll with the impacts to maintain our secrecy.”
“Mister Vernes.” Andrea always felt strange calling the Orion woman, “Mister,” but that was how Vernes wanted it.
“Minus 4 class 1 Torpedoes. All emitters still on-line, just missing power. Once power comes back we’ll need to energize the capacitors.”
Andrea thought for a second. “No, we’ll be deep in it when power comes back online. Mister Grayson, cut life support to all cargo bays you are not working in, and begin to feed power to the phaser capacitors. We’ll need full weapons when the Borg find us. Mister Vernes will assist. Once the injector is repaired leave it offline until we are ready to fight.”
“That rear shield assembly won’t take another hit.”
“Use the starboard-rear assembly. We’ll keep our port and rear to them next time.”
“Expect 2 hours for the swap.”
Andrea paused until everyone was looking at her. “You may have noticed I did not ask Mr. Skagg to detail the enemy ship. The truth is she is more than likely fully recovered from any damage we gave her. We do have some knowledge of her power system, and we will work to exploit that. Honestly we are in for the fight of our lives, and we can’t let this thing get away with what we know.”
“Wait, what do we know?” Mister Aquella querried.
“Well, what I have guessed, and Mr. Skaggs has probably formulated. It’s all I can say, except we must make port. Progress reports in five hours, dismissed.”
“What do I know?” Allen took out his PDA and began tapping in the log of the fight.
“Computer, command authorization Beta-seven-one-Alpha. Secure this bay with a type 2 force field and disable all recording devices.”
A field flashed into place around Andrea and Allen. “Bay Secured.”
“Allen, we pulled a Borg ship out of Transwarp.”
“You think we pulled a Borg ship out of Transwarp.”
“I need to know for sure. Go to aux sensor control and pull everything. Make a copy, and delete the records off the main computer. Prep a class 7 probe, and download our logs and the info. Set the probe with a 10 hour delay.”
“You don’t think we are going to make it, do you?”
“What I think is that they are going to remember us, long after we are dust in the stars.”
Above the debris of the asteroid belt, hiding in its shadow so that only the sickly green conduit lights could be seen, the Borg Sphere patiently shadowed its smaller prey. Charging into the field would give the Earth ship an advantage. After 7 hours, the predator began firing gravitic charges into the asteroids to shake the prey loose of them.
The Diego leapt from the debris and angled directly towards the Sphere, launching red and blue tiny suns. The red spheres were Photon Torpedoes with a standard configuration for damage. The Blue spheres were set to a frequency that was out of phase by 180 degrees. The red spheres caused no damage, but the blue sphere, although not as strong due to the modifications, caused the sphere to give pause briefly.
The Phasers from the Diego fired while the Sphere pondered briefly, set to attack the Sphere’s previous weakness, to no affect. A second beam fired anew from the underside of the Diego, its orange-yellow glow turned an almost blood red, and scoring could be seen on the hull of the green monster.
The sphere fired its beam at the Diego, immediately sending it spinning end over end. A green orb shot into the shields of the Diego, and the warp activation sequence on the Diego was interrupted.
A wide beam locked onto the Diego, sapping its shield strength and holding her in place.
The phasers rang out again, and the Sphere shrugged off the flickering beams, then the Diego went dark, her shields began to fail, her weapons power began to fail.
“We are the Borg. Lower your shields…”
A blinding white light out of the Diego erupted and pulsed through the Sphere. The monster suddenly seemed disoriented as it listed, spinning lazily until old damage could be seen again.
The Diego slowly turned back into the asteroid field, launching several torpedoes from the rear. The first 2 did no serious damage, but the last two exploded angrily across the hemisphere, scouring away hull and showing exposed green conduits underneath.
A last ray lashed out from the Diego into the damaged Sphere as green plasma exploded outward, sending it in a lopsided spin north of the solar plane.
Smoke filled the bridge. Allen pulled what remained of Blue off his console and stopped their forward advance into the now deadly asteroid field.
Static filled the bridge speakers. “Warp Engines… faster than .9 and we’ll… All forward shield emitters… Aft starboard launcher…”
A wobbly cloud appeared in front of her. “Please shtaaaate the nurrrrr….” And faded away.
“Allen, are we stable in the field?”
“From what I can tell.”
“Get on sensors and tell me what just happened.”
“The alternating frequency ideas on the torpedo and phasers did their part, and the subspace static pulse did seem to disorient them in the end. Our shields were no match for their weapons at full power.”
“Bridge to Sick Bay.”
There was no response.
“Looks like we lost internal communication. It looks like our last salvo cost them thruster control. I see them floating up at 180 by 90.”
“What the hell is Starfleet doing? There is no way they can’t see that, stealth or no."
“I just checked the package I set in the field as you requested. It’s gone.”
“Gone as in we lost sensors?”
“Gone, as in the sensors may be the only thing working right now.”
“How… I…” Andrea stabilized herself. “Make for outpost L9 at best safe speed.”
The Intrepid Class Ship Diego, only one day earlier was so new you could still feel the heat from the umbilical cord, showed wear beyond its time. One warp nacelle stuck in the warp position, one stuck in the pre-warp stage, with flashes of blue every now and again as the engines fought to come online. The entire upper saucer of the ship was a blackened scrap yard, and small dots along the hull identified the shield emitters that had burned themselves out protecting the ship. The saucer array was the only deflector working, with the primary array burned out with the subspace pulse.
On one of the larger asteroids in the Earth system was post L9. Built during the height of the Klingon-Federation cold war, it had seen few upgrades since the first peace talks were signed. Minimal defenses and power signature meant it had survived invasions by whale-loving probes, a Dominion strike force, and two separate Borg incursions.
Old-style locking wheels spun open as Andrea made her way into the dank facility. Her thick pressure suit gloves fumbled around for the code to grant life to this old forgotten hut.
“A-Airlock sealed,” the voice stuttered. Andrea wondered often who was the original voice for Starfleet computers. Even this old rust-box used the same voice as her ship.
“Lights.” There was no response, and Andrea realized there must be a manual switch nearby. She was beginning to wonder if she was going to have to use smoke signals to get her message through.
The dated systems were a bit dusty, but she was relieved when the transmitter station came online. She turned the power output of the old reactor to max power and sent her data streams.
She knew there would be no reply, no amount of power from her end would boost reception through whatever static the Borg Sphere was still putting out.
They may have lost the initial data, but she had guaranteed Starfleet would know about the subspace pulse, and alternating weapon phase frequencies to turn the Borg’s obsession with perfectly tuned defenses against them.
She headed back to the airlock as the entire asteroid shuddered under her feet. “Allen, what’s happening?” Silence filled her suit as she saw the airlock wheel spinning open. She pressurized her suit just in time as the door opened, sucking all the air out of the facility.
Half of a pasty face looked at her, one eye yellow and seemingly unused, while the second eye-socket was covered in a black apparatus Andrea couldn’t identify. Its skull had long since lost hair, and the skin around the skull implant had puckered and scarred in a grotesque attempt to push the alien hardware away.
One hand deathly white, the other a sharp claw.
Even though there was no air in the room, she could hear its voice as a targeting laser on its arm drifted across her pressure suit.
“We are the Borg. Resistance is futile.”
Andrea grabber her phaser and fired, making the Borg’s personal shield appear briefly as it blocked the blast.
Her next shot was into the ceiling, which thanks to artificial gravity, fell with several tons of force. Changing the setting on the phaser she melted the debris into one giant lump of obsidian.
The transmitter console was still online. She connected to the external sensors to see the Diego floating away with all the lights flickering. Focusing on the hull she could see Borg crawling across the Diego’s skin, seeking ports they could force open.
She set the transmitter to full power and sent out a general distress on all frequencies. Immediately the asteroid was violently buffeted as weapons from an unseen ship blasted the transmitter array off the surface of the rock.
Andrea looked at her phaser, trying to decide if she should shoot herself now, or try to blow up the Borg when they broke through her makeshift wall. Already dust was starting to fall from where the Borg were blasting through from the other side.
She moved all the furniture in front of the tunnel, then burned away the connections to the comm. Tower, and pushed it out in front of her as well. She set her weapon to overload strength and waited for the first Borg to come through.
A blackened fist punched through the wall, withdrew, then broke through again. Andrea waited until there was enough of the body visible, then fired into the hole. Her new setting blasted into the Borg, and she could feel the phaser melting in her hand.
She fired again and again until the weapon was vibrating in her gloves, then she threw it through the breach. Part of the ceiling caved in near her as a blinding blue flash engulfed the tunnel.
As her eyes strained against the absolute blackness of the remainder of the tunnel, she saw a tiny green light floating toward her. She saw the outline of a sensor mounted into the head of human skull, saw a targeting laser sweep across her.
Andrea Petros broke the seal on her own helmet, allowing the air to flow out. Instantly her lungs screamed and tried to escape her ribcage as her eyes began bulging out of her head. There was a final thump from her eardrums, then she heard nothing. Her heart was pounding like she was being slammed in her chest by a pile driver.
Something bit her cheek, and fire began to spread across her face. She felt arms holding her head, felt her eyes returning to her skull. A dry, cold mouth pressed over hers and blew air into her lungs.
A thousand voices whispered, “We will save you. You are one of us. We are going to save you.” She struggled against the voices in her head and the mouth on her face, but she had no strength left in her. “We will add your distinctiveness to our own, we will give you the strength to endure. We will survive and learn all of your secrets.”
She shook her head as she screamed at the voices. The voices replied to the silent scream, “Resistance is futile. You will adapt to service us.”
“No,” she thought, but she was already slipping into the crowd of a million minds. She was traveling across the galaxy, seeing planets devoid of colors except slime green and rust brown, sickly green light flickering to reveal white flesh trapped in the hoses and armor of the Borg.
Faster she traveled, into a hellish maelstrom of color, then through the hell-clouds and towards a complex so massive it defied all words, and yet it wasn’t finished. She could see the great artificial world sprawling out like a spider web, ever growing.
“We all love you. We are your family now. We will protect you, and you will die for us.” She flew into the terrible place, twisting through corridors and up lift shafts until at last she stood before a detached head, scores of hoses attached to where her shoulders should have been, skin stretched tight over an artificial skull. “Tell me all you know, little drone.”
“Enemy,” she thought to the creature.
“No, I am your mother. I am your father, and brothers, sisters and lovers. I am everything to you, for I am we. We will learn all you know, and teach you all you will ever learn.”
Andrea flew into the eye of the creature, and everything went black.
She threw a punch, and it connected. Immediately she tried to roll to her side, but she had been placed up, on a table or bed. She felt herself hit the ground as she forced herself to stand.
“Miss Petros, stand down.” She felt something grab her arm and she pushed it away. She noted, even in her panic, that whatever she pushed away was very light, or she was insanely strong.
“Where am I?” Andrea screamed as she felt a wall on her back. “Tell me!”
“You are in San Fransico, in the bay. We have separated you from the collective, and are removing the Borg technology.” The voice sounded weak, and from far away. She could hear several other people running toward her.
“Why can’t I see?” Several strong arms grabbed her and something electric shocked the back of her neck. “Why… can’t I see?”
“We are working as fast as possible. Please rest now. I promise you, you will see soon.”
“That voice. Are you an EMH?”
“No, Miss Petros. I am THE EMH.”
The Shock to her neck finally pulled her back into the black void.
“No!” Her hands shot out in front of her. Bandages of all shapes and sizes crossed her arms and hands. She felt her head, and the lack of hair on it. She was cold; she felt she should be able to see her breath. Her eyes hurt, like she had been reading technical manuals for a week. Even in the twilight of the room seemed too bright.
“Computer, increase temperature twenty degrees.” She said.
“Computer,” A voice said from the darkness. She twisted around to see a man of average height. His face was thin, almost gaunt, but even in the darkness she could make out muscles under his uniform. “Increase temperature ten degrees, and make me an ice tea, five degrees centigrade.”
“Where am I? What happened… how long…?”
“Slowly, Lieutenant. San Francisco, you were assimilated by the Borg, for about sixteen hours.”
“I don’t remember anything.”
“That is apparently common with short-term abductions. We have purged your body of all Borg technology, save some nano-probes in your lymphatic system.”
“Why did it take you so long to find us?” Tears ran down her cheek, and they burned a little. Shivering, she pulled the bed’s blanket as tight as she could around her.
“This is going to be hard for you to hear. Just know that you may have saved the Federation from invasion. You will hate me, but I did what I had to do.”
As the man put another blanket on her, he whispered softly into her ear, “We were always there.”
“You left us to die.”
“Lieutenant, you must understand.”
“I understand my helmsman cooked into his console.” She got onto her feet, her legs felt weak, but there was a fire burning through her. “I understand you were willing to sacrifice one hundred and thirty people…”
“To save billions, maybe even trillions of lives.”
She made her way around the bed. “For the greater good.”
“Yes! Yes exactly!” As he spoke she shoved him back against the close wall at the head of the bed. His momentum bounced him off the wall, and she grabbed him by the arm, using his own inertia to force his body into a forward fall, which she leaned into and forced his fall into the adjacent wall.
He hit face first, tried to recover as he bounced off that wall, but not before she grabbed his other arm and threw him into and over the table next to her bed.
“All you Black Ops ever talk about is the greater good. Kill one that a thousand may live, kill a hundred and save the galaxy! The greater good is nothing but the lesser evil, and you killed my ship for it!”
“Please, Lieutenant Petros.”
“Shut up, save your speech. I’m not buying.”
A hologram formed in the center of the room. “Please state the… Oh my God! This is San Francisco, not the Klingon Homeworld! Get out of here, Mr. Smith, and stay out until I deem her ready for debriefing!”
“Doctor,” he smiled, “With all due respect…”
“Computer, enact EMH Protocol Three.”
“Doctor, please!” And then the man dematerialized.
“Miss Petros, please return to your bed.”
“I think I’m done being told what to do today.”
“I can see you're upset,” the Doctor said with concern in his voice and on his face, “But I’ve already established a force field around this room, and will flood it with anestisine…”
“Please,” she said, burning tears swelling out of her eyes, “Don’t make me sleep.”
“Alright, return to your bed, I won’t force sleep, but you must rest.”
He guided her back to her bed, Andrea having expended her rage on the evil little man in the Starfleet uniform began to feel the price she was going to pay.
“I did extensive surgery on you today. Hold still while I scan you.”
“Doctor, have you treated anyone else today?”
“A great many, from bumps and bruises to a heart and lung replacement.”
“Oh yes. No! No, not the major surgery,” he added quickly as she became alarmed, “Mister Skagg had some contusions, nothing more. You were my big operation for the day, truth be told.”
“Why you, Doctor?”
“I see you have forgotten our conversation after you threw me across the room. I’m quite well, thank you.” He looked sternly at her before smiling dryly and continuing. “I was the only Doctor on Voyager for seven years, and have had more experience with the Borg than any doctor, Flesh or Light, in the entire Alpha Quadrant.” He finished with his tricorder and sat down beside her bed. “You will be fine, provided you don’t kill anyone before morning.”
“You Cyborgs are all alike.” He said with a dry smile. “Now, what shall we do, hmm? I hear the Vulcan Championship team is playing the Andorians on Risa.”
“Wow, I forgot all about that. You think they’ll let us watch?” She nodded to the ceiling.
“I certainly hope so. I have money on this game. Computer, show us the Sector Soccer Championship on Risa.”
There was a brief pause before the center of the room produced a floating screen. A huge arena housed millions of screaming fans of all races as the announcers, Andorian, Vulcan, and Human, were discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the teams in question.
She looked at him, trying to get the look of a child on Christmas Eve. “Seats?”
“I said you needed to rest. Seats wouldn’t be that restful.”
She continued to look at him.
“I am a computer projection. I am beyond such human emotional prodding.”
Andrea and the Doctor watched the game from box seats, eating popcorn and drinking a Risan beverage called Coolie.
After the game was over the Doctor sat by her bed and talked with her, things which those watching her would have found inconsequential. Then when she was tired of talking, he sang, he seemed to know every song ever written. He sang with a softer and softer voice, until she finally drifted off, and continued singing for the remainder of the evening.
She dreamt of smoke and fire, asteroids and hellish green beams of death, flying across damned worlds and into the mouth of hell itself. She watched it all with detachment, hearing the Doctor’s voice with her in the dreamworld.
When she woke the Doctor was gone. The evil little man had returned, armed with a hand phaser.
She laughed at him even though her eyes showed just how much rage she still had to give.
“You were right.” He said. “Your ship pulled a Borg Sphere out of a Transwarp conduit.”
“Too bad I can’t prove it.”
“But you did. I took the probe you launched into the field near L9. I have all the data your ship collected from that moment until you launched the probe. I have the data you sent to Starfleet regarding your phased attack.”
“What I don’t have, Miss Petros, is the destination of the second stream of data you sent to Earth.”
“It must be hard, for a man like you, not to know something.”
“Honestly, it’s usually harder on the person that knows. You broke protocol.”
“I was being jammed, I sent a second stream to guarantee my report would reach someone on Earth.”
“But who would… Ah. Miss Hansen, of course. No wonder I couldn’t find a data transcript.”
“The Daystrom institute has Top Secret Clearance when dealing with Borg information.”
“I hope, for your sake, you continue to have the right answers Lieutenant. We are a long way from getting out of this mess."
He turned and walked out the door. “Get cleaned up. We have a great deal to talk about.”
10 minutes later Andrea appeared in the Hallway, her newly provided uniform fitting a little snug.
“Shall we take a brief tour, Lieutenant?”
“It’s your latinum. I figure you will just erase my memory when we are done here.”
“When you were fighting the Borg, what was the one ship you wish you had at your side?”
“The Sovereign-Class Enterprise, although just about any ship in the second encounter would have saved lives.” Andrea could feel the heat coming to her cheeks again, but she had made that point last night. There was a not-so-fine line between expression and being undisciplined. Besides, the site of him armed after their encounter last night was enough to bring a smile to her face.
“Did you ever look at the Defiant specs?”
“I spent a good two days on them, but I like a more traditional ship. The Defiant has her place, but I would like a more general-use ship than one useful only for combat.”
“Had you been on the Defiant instead of an Intrepid…?”
“I wouldn’t have had access to the subspace pulse, nor would my sensor officer have found the power variance during the initial encounter. You out-think the Borg, you can’t out-muscle them.”
“True, but what if we could level the field some?” Mr. Smith opened a viewport in the wall, revealing the San Francisco bay, or more accurately underwater in San Francisco bay. In the water outside the window, in a partially concealed hangar, was the most bizarre ship Andrea had ever seen.
The Ship was about the size of the Defiant, maybe a little larger. Three warp nacelles blended into the back of the ship, angled in such a fashion they looked like they might connect in back. The warp engines looked the standard Federation blue and red, but a stripe on the outside of each coil ran down the length and was a glowing yellow.
The nose of the ship was reminiscent of the defiant, and three emitters lined the nose above the navigational deflector that reminded her of the Defiant pulse phasers, but the emitters didn’t look like phasers or disruptors. There was also the twin quantum torpedo launchers recessed into the port and starboard, looking like they side launched, or used a pop-up turret launch system.
The whole ship seemed to be covered in scales.
“That… is one ugly son of a *****.”
“She gets the job done like no other.” Mr. Smith waited for the questions he knew would come.
“Alright, I’ll bite. Why does it have scales?”
“Cascading Shield System. The shields are designed to shunt power to a new grid nano-seconds before the emitters are damaged. It also allows for a multi-modular shield harmonic when in full defense.”
“I’ve never heard of a system like that.”
“You still haven’t.”
“Right. The dorsal yellow-plasma conduits?”
“We’ll get back to that. A breakthrough in warp mechanics uses a tri-warp envelope, allowing for greater stability in the warp field.”
“I wasn’t aware of any issues with warp stability. The Intrepid’s have no issue with warp 9.9.”
The silence of Mr. Smith began to shout volumes. Andrea imagined the ship at warp, as the auxiliary amber coils activated and created a long streak of green…
“It’s probably a freighter engine compared to what the Borg have, but yes. I don’t have a warp equivalent for you, but we have a guess of thirty-five light years… a day.”
“Son of a *****.”
Again Mr. Smith remained quiet until Andrea asked what would most likely be her final design question.
“Those aren’t phaser emitters, are they?”
Mr. Smith walked down the hallway and into a conference room. Andrea followed and found a Vulcan seated at the far end of the table. He looked up and smiled at her, the smile of a predatory animal who had just eaten his fill.
“Jo’Lan Tru.” She said. The smile disappeared from the Romulan’s face.
“There is still no cloaking technology that comes close to a good, Romulan cloaking device.” Mr. Smith said as he sat down.
“And yet another opportunity for them to collect data without risking their own lives.” Andrea remained standing. The Romulan’s smile returned.
“That doesn’t explain those forward weapons.” She thought about the curved design of the ship and her engines, the almost insect-like look. “Show yourself.”
The room remained silent.
“For whatever reason I’m being shown this, I’ll be expected to trust all those involved. Please, show yourself.”
“Very sure of herself, isn’t she?” One of the chairs slowly melted, and a man of medium build, and no distinguishing features rose in its place. “Seems a bit young, considering she isn’t being programmed for the task.”
“Founder.” Andrea nodded. While not exactly an ally, the Dominion was at least not actively engaged in hostilities with the Federation, or any member of the Alpha Quadrant. The Romulan was more dubious a sign.
Romulans supplying cloaking technology, which they have never done for Alpha Quadrant missions. The Founders sharing ship design, and apparently working with Federation engineers to design a version of the phased polaron weapon that worked like a pulse phaser.
“You are obviously Tal’Shiar, and The Founder is his own.” She looked at Mr. Smith as he looked back at her with a very non-descript look on his face. “You’re not Starfleet Intelligence, are you?”
Mr. Smith said nothing.
“Tell me I’m going after the Borg.”
“You are going after the Borg, Captain.”
Andrea looked around the room one last time. “Tell me what you want me to do.”
Andrea stood before the survivors of the Diego that were fit enough to serve, forty men and women that had last week been considered children in the stars, but now had the hard look of death on their faces. The bay they stood in was the size of a stadium, obviously designed to house shuttles and larger ships. Water was held at bay by a force field that ran the long length of the bay, bathing the entire area in a strange, flickering light.
“As you may have surmised by now, we find ourselves in a unique situation. Less than two days ago the USS Diego pulled a Borg ship out of a Transwarp Conduit. Despite being out-gunned, we managed to fight that ship to a standstill.”
“Now there is a possibility that we can ensure the safety of the entire Alpha Quadrant, perhaps even more. We have an experimental ship, we have an unusual alliance with former enemies, and we will be doing something no one else has tried before, save one.”
“This is a volunteer assignment…” At that, the crew of the Diego, as one, stepped forward and resumed standing at attention.
“We may be young, we may be inexperienced, but no crew is… crazier than the Diego crew.” At this the former crew of the Diego burst out in cheer.
“The only thing I can promise you is that I will uphold the standards of the Federation that we all swore to protect. That, and this will be the most interesting time of our lives.”
“Our Allies for this mission will be the Jem’Hadar and Vorta of the Dominion.” As Andrea said this, A Vorta walked into the room, followed by a score of Jem’Hadar. “Together, along with the Romulans, we have a new ship to test against the monsters in the dark.”
“You are all my crew now. No matter what flag we serve under, we serve those we honor on this ship. The Federation crew for the Federation, and the Dominion soldiers for the will of the Founders.”
“The will of the Founders!” the Jem’Hadar shouted as one.
“Sal’Ar Rei will be first officer.” The male Vorta bowed to the Federation crew assembled.
“Until today, this ship had no name. I look upon her emerald scales and see a dragon. Today I christen this ship the Granameir. Look upon her, enemies of civilization, and tremble.”
There was a pause, as there was no ship present to look upon.
“Crew of the Granameir, board your ship.” The entire bay shook as a sound not found in nature pitched high into the ears of those assembled, then lowered in frequency as it increased in volume, until the Granameir appeared, taking up almost all of the bay.
“A bit dramatic, Captain.” Sal’Ar came up beside Andrea as the crew was being beamed aboard.
“We are taking a prototype with a hybrid crew into the most dangerous action I can think of. I would have read Klingon poetry and burned incense if I had any.”
“The Granameir is actually about fifteen Earth-months old. My crew has been, ‘Shaking her down,’ for quite some time.” Both command officers looked on as the last of the crew was beamed aboard.
“We aren’t going to have an issue with who is Captain, are we?”
“The Founders are to us what gods are to you. The Founder told me you were in charge.” And that, for the Vorta, settled that.
The bridge was cramped compared to Federation standards. Chairs at all consoles were bolted into the floor, but were also designed to swivel out of the way when the Jem’Hadar took command.
“Your second wasn’t angry about your command structure?” The Vorta continued talking as they were beamed aboard.
“He’ll get his chance someday. I needed your experience with this ship in my ear, and that is the job of a first officer.”
“Seeing me higher up on the command structure should also help you with the Jem’Hadar.”
“I was hoping so.”
“They don’t give loyalty easily, Captain. They fear me because of my ability to control The White they receive. Few Vorta ever earn the respect of the Jem’Hadar, merely their obedience.”
“And you, Sal’Ar Rei?”
“I’ve done my best. Being chosen by a Founder directly helps some, but they are bred for war, Captain. This mission has been long in coming, and they are ready for a fight.”
A Jem’Hadar was standing at the helm, and Vernes was manning the weapons console. Although Allen Skagg would take command of Third watch he stood by at sensors for the initial launch.
“Take us out, Commander.”
“Captain. Helm, maneuvering thrusters, take us out light.” The warrior complied; Andrea noticed they didn’t confirm the order. When the order was given, they performed it, and that was that.
The scaled beast moved through the transparent force field and into the water, the green of the hull blending with the sea water in the bay.
“Centurion, cloak us.” The young Romulan female next to Allen, named Selan, adjusted her console. “We are cloaked, Commander.”
Silently the Granameir swam through the Pacific until San Fancisco was a memory on the horizon, then she quietly slipped out of the water and into space.
“Commander Sal’Ar Rei, your watch has the Con. I’ll be in my quarters, studying.”
Quietly the Granameir flew into the black.
In the only holodeck on the crowded Granameir, Jem’Hadar fought each other in the traditional training ring. Fists, elbows, knees, feet, and head-butts flew freely as the genetically programmed warriors vented some of their natural aggression on each other.
The ring was simple, and had a post at opposite ends. When a warrior fell he touched the top of the post, and combat was not allowed to continue until both posts were lit. A dark post was admission of defeat.
Andrea had read all of these reports from the declassified DS9 logs detailing Jem’Hadar culture, but it couldn’t measure up to seeing it in person. They fought on, one warrior with a cut on his head bringing a final blow down on his opponent, who did not get up, and was dragged out of the ring.
“Who faces me? Who faces their destiny of defeat?” The warrior cried out as the other Jem’Hadar cheered his new victory and prodded each other into the ring.
Andrea casually stepped into the ring.
“Captain, as you are unaware of our customs, I will allow you the opportunity to leave the ring with honor.” The warrior looked a little perturbed at having to explain one of the oldest of his traditions to his commanding officer.
“I am aware that all are equal in the ring. I’ll accept my bruises.”
He nodded, but she could see that he was not attacking her as he had the previous combatant, but was moving slower, and striking softer.
Andrea’s chosen martial form was Shinta, taught to her by Vernes, the Orion weapons officer, and her roommate for most of The Academy. Orion women rarely had to fight, in fact the natural ability they have to affect the mating instincts of most humanoids is so strong they have to take suppressants to be allowed in Starfleet. When they do have to fight, it is often against much larger opponents, and almost always to the death. Shinta uses the momentum of the opponent against him, and its goal is to land the opponent into a wall, or hard into the ground, or other solid object.
The ring was bare, and it was considered poor form to knock over the light posts, as they were outside the ring.
Andrea did have some boxing experience from college, so she chose a traditional boxers stance, and when her opponent gave her too much of an opening, she put a quick left jab into his nose followed by a right uppercut to his chin.
Her right hand smarted, and she realized it was a bad idea to use tiny knucklebones on Jem’Hadar chins.
The warrior at that moment realized what he had been doing, and hooked a punch into her cheek, and knocked her down.
Andrea rolled back up and touched the light post. Going toe-to-toe fisticuffs would not work for her, she would try a mixed approach.
When she stepped back into the circle her opponent came at her immediately. She sidestepped him and let him fly out of the ring.
He rolled to his feet, smiled a hungry smile, and slowly stepped back into the circle. She let him advance, taking jabs at his nose, but no hard punches to that strong chin-bone. The warrior punched straight in, and Andrea slipped to the side, grabbed the arm while stepping on his foot , then used his momentum to bring him to the ground with his elbow locked by her other arm.
When he got back up, he tested his elbow, and then tapped his post.
“Do you always evade?” He said as he came back in.
“I choose my strikes carefully.”
“Well, there is a problem with that.” He struck out straight again, and she grabbed his arm as before, but this time, he did not move. Instead his elbow came out before she could lock it down and smashed into her face. The brief moment she was stunned was long enough for him to grab her shirt, and the last thing she saw was his forehead moving towards her head.
She woke on the floor, the Jem’hadar smiling widely above her. “I think the Vorta is smarter than you are.” He put his arm down to help her stand back up. “But I understand you better.”
Andrea spent the next three hours in sickbay, or what passed for sickbay on this ship. The new Starfleet design called for full holographic access to the entire ship, and the Granameir expanded that concept, so far as to have Emergency Commando Holograms ready to grab weapons and fight no matter where the incursion occurred. There was a full holographic command staff, and of course…
“You won’t be going back into that ring, will you?” asked the Doctor.
“Of course I will. I need to have the respect of my crew, and that respect for the Jem’hadar is only found in combat. Trust me, the ring is the safest place for such contests.”
“True, but they are over six feet tall, and out weigh you by double, at least.”
“If it was easy, Doctor, it wouldn’t be worth respect.”
“What I am saying is there is more than one form of combat. Don’t limit the Jem’Hadar to physical aggression. The Vorta often does this.”
“Well, aren’t you the upgraded matrix.” She said with a smile.
“On a ship this small, the doctor is also often the counselor.”
Later that day Andrea appeared in the Holodeck, the warrior was instructing other Jem’Hadar on their fighting techniques.
“A rematch, so soon?”
“Not in your ring, perhaps you’d like to try mine?” A table appeared with a chessboard setup and ready to play.
“I am unfamiliar with this game.”
“Then allow me to teach you chess. Perhaps later, you can teach me to better defend myself in the ring.”
“I would enjoy learning a new game, but you do not need my instruction to defend yourself.”
“You defend very well. In a real fight you would be hard to catch, like a terran mouse. If I need to teach you anything, it’s how to attack.”
“This sounds like an arrangement.” The rest of her day was spent playing chess with the Jem’Hadar Warlord, Genis 59. They played long into the watch, as the other warriors and Starfleet personnel alike gathered round.
Andrea Stood at the Captain’s Chair with Genis. At the Helm Console was a Frustrated-Looking Jem’Hadar.
“Helm, Evasive Beta.” Andrea commanded as the Helmsman placed the ship hard to port, then hard to starboard, keeping the nose on the asteroid they had marked as a target. That was the theory, anyway.
“Narse, how could you fail such a simple maneuver five times out of five?” Genis looked like he was going to punch the Helmsman in the back of the head, but Andrea had learned that most violence against their own was performed in the ring. Of course the losers at chess of late were being punched in the head, but that was being kept in the holodeck. For now.
“Warlord… Captain… I don’t know!” Failure was death to the Jem’Hadar, and Narse 21 wasn’t taking his multiple deaths well. He looked like he was about to punch the helm controls, but restrained himself from damaging the equipment. To Andrea, this was one of the largest differences between Klingons and Jem’Hadar; less collateral ship damage.
At Narse’s outburst Genis did move to strike him, but Andrea interposed herself and moved down to the station. “Let’s see how you have your controls configured.” Andrea studied the controls. “Who uses this control pattern?”
“This is the pattern given to us by the Vorta, Captain.”
“Ah. Well, he is a fine Vorta, but I think for helm control we can move this… here, and place this… there. See what I am doing?”
“Yes Captain, moving like controls into groups.”
“Correct, with coordinate and manual controls in the center, and larger. Alright, let’s try this again.”
The controls were adjusted several more times until Narse was smoothly working through the maneuvers.
“Well, victory at last.” Genis said. “I do believe you owe the Captain for your life. I do have an idea for that, as well.” He looked over at Andrea with a subdued smile. She had started to see it shortly after their third chess match, when they started using timers.
“Well, those are the standard maneuvers. I’ll leave you and Narse to begin working on our firing patterns. We serve the Founders, Genis.”
“Victory is life, Captain.”
Andrea made her way to her quarters, where Allen waited for her, along with Sal’Ar Rei.
“How goes the war?” Allen was sipping something with mint leaves in it, and Sal’Ar was drinking something remarkably dark.
“I have learned that Genis is excellent at attack strategies, and that Vorta Sal’Ar Rei has never flown a ship in combat.” The two humans chuckled a bit.
“Now why is that funny?” The Vorta asked while drinking innocently.
“Your navigation controls almost blew up a helmsman. Let your watch know that Narse is testing a new configuration from me, and they are to offer input.”
“You realize that Dominion command structure goes from top to bottom?”
“I do. Starfleet command structure rewards those with good ideas, regardless of the rank. They do the flying, they should have a say.”
“As you wish.”
“Warlord Genis is working on optimal attack patterns and weapon spreads. I’ll know more by morning.”
“My Watch has been finding the sensor resolution for our young dragon.” Allen sipped a bit more on his drink. “Federation sensors, but there is a lot of noise we haven’t worked out yet coming from the ship. Now for cloaked operations we are golden, Selan has configured everything to a T once we are cloaked.”
“At which point we can only use passive sensors anyway.” Andrea agreed with the finished thought. “Alright, it’s my rack time, gentlemen. Same time tomorrow.”
Sleep came easily. They were cruising Mars’ solar orbit, preparing the crew for the fight of their lives. After being knocked unconscious by Genis, time in the regenerator, playing chess, training helmsman while memorizing specs on new weapons and reading engineering report on fuel consumption…
A sound brought her back from the edge of sleep. A quiet whining sound, a background noise if there had been any other noise in the room. An insect sound that was mechanical. A small machine working, a servo.
A Borg manipulator.
She was on her feet instantly, standing in a huge room covered with cable and hose. Hot, damp air that smelled like methane made her want to gag. The room was titanic in size, and around the room on hundreds of levels, swarmed the Borg.
She spun around to come face to hideous face with the Borg Queen. The Queen was suspended from the ceiling with scores of cables and hoses, much like the room, and the Borg who served her.
“Welcome back, my little drone.”
“I no longer serve. I’d tell you to go to hell, but we’re here already.”
“This is a heavenly place. The Borg exist as one massive family that holds no secrets, no resentments…”
“No freedom, no creativity, no life.”
“Life is what I make of it.” The Queen’s left arm was too large to have naturally grown, and her right arm ended in long, sharp talons she kept clicking together. “I could take your life if I wanted to.”
“If that were true, you would have.”
“Why have you come here?!” The angered Queen willed herself to be nose to nose with Andrea.
“I thought you summoned me, but now I understand. I understand!”
Andrea woke in the dark, so soaked in sweat that her clothes clung to her like she had slept in the shower. “I understand. I can hear you.”
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