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Survivor of Remus
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 359
# 6
02-20-2013, 02:50 PM
One of All Kinds

Lieutenant Commander Vionne Tarayl pulled off her sweat-soaked undershirt and tried to wipe away some of the perspiration on her forehead. She'd really pushed herself in the Shimmering's gym and found it was getting harder to keep up with the fresh-faced crewmen barely out of the Academy. She chuckled to herself and tossed the sopping garment into the clothing bin in the the corner of her personal quarters. It was too wet to do any good. She wandered to her sink to grab a clean, dry towel and paused at her own reflection. Her age was starting to show, admittedly, but she still had the compact, muscular build and shaved head of the marine she once was.

"Ooo...lookin' good, girlie! Yeah! Fierce! Grrrr." She growled to herself and flexed her arms at the mirror.

Unfortunately, as was becoming far too often the case, duty interrupted her personal life in the form of a quiet chime. She chuckled again and started wiping her face with her towel.

"Tarayl, here."

A gravelly, perennially resentful voice grumbled over the comm. "Lieutenant Commander. I am incapable of feeling pity for interrupting your personal time. However, feel free to pretend I can and that I do. Something you may find interesting has cropped up and I would appreciate your input."

"Sure thing, Captain. I'll be up in, say, twenty? I reek o' effort an' unwashed Trill."

"Gross." was her Captain's terse and uncomfortable reply before he cut the channel. Tarayl chuckled to herself and shook her head. Some things never changed


***********************

Tarayl strode onto the bridge with her usual easy confidence. Captain Khas, the arachnoid commander of the USS Shimmering, gave her an abrupt, forceful nod of recognition and gestured to a tall, pale humanoid with pointed ears and a goblin-like face. "Lieutenant R'ath will fill you in."

The Reman officer stared at Taryal for a moment then seemed to remember he was supposed to speak. "There was a Borg probe here. Now there is wreckage. This piece has a single life-sign on it." He pointed a calloused finger at his console's interactive display. He stood there for a moment, breathing heavily and maintaining intensely strong eye contact. Tarayl thought it was rather dear.

Tarayl rubbed her chin thoughtfully and arched a brow at Khas. He shrugged in response and watched her expectantly.

"Looks mighty interestin', Captain. From what I'm seein'...yeah, energy readin's are consistent with the drone enterin' a power-conservin' mode. I think that's automatic in case any survive a catastrophic ship failure. Normally, the little Borg ships send out a transwarp signal back to the hive, but...not seein' any evidence of it. I think the bugger was taken by surprise, honestly. Anyway, it's not safe to remain here while any of that thing's active. We should probably burn it with fire and scarper off, eh?"

Khas inclined his head slightly, a gesture that Tarayl wasn't entirely sure of, and blew out a suppurating breath from those weird nostril things he had under the flaring triangles of bug-armor on his head. That wasn't a good sign. "I intend to recover the drone. Perhaps it can illuminate us further on what transpired here."

Tarayl froze and tensed. "Well...er. Captain, I'm not sure that's somethin' I can comment on. I'm a doctor o' quantum particle interactions, not, you know the other kind. Not sure how much help I can be."

Khas watched her with those silvery, faceted eyes of his for a moment before shrugging. "You are the only member of this crew who has had any sort of personal interaction with the Borg. I am keenly aware of the rather violent and tragic circumstances surrounding it. That is why I wish for you to be present. If anyone appreciates the danger such an undertaking represents, it is you. I am trusting in your fairness and experience to safeguard this ship in case things do not go well. Should I reconsider this, Lieutenant Commander?"

Tarayl held his gaze for a time, wrestling with her feelings about both the Borg and her alien and inscrutable commander. For all his ill grace, he had a point. She had a duty. It wasn't really about her. Besides, it might be fun.

"No, sir. I'll be honored an' happy to help out. You can count on me, sure enough."

Khas folded back into his command chair without another word, already focusing on some other minor issue that demanded his attention. Tarayl turned to R'ath and gently pushed his lower jaw up a little. "And you, R'ath. You really should learn to breath through your nose and stop starin'."

The Reman flushed a sullen blue-green but nodded in understanding.

"Good, now keep on those sensors and see what you can divine, eh? I've gotta go see a fellow about a robot."

**********************

The Borg drone was an old man. That was the first thing that surprised her. The second was how little man there was left of him. Some organs in the torso. A few ribs. The skull, of course, but most of the rest of it, of him, was cybernetic. Despite being inert, he still radiated an aura of understated menace. Tarayl was thankful for the containment field he was currently housed in. At least they had little fear that he could contact the rest of the collective.

Doctor Agrippa, a photonic medical specialist that chose to look a bit like a Roman emperor, was working methodically on the Borg's implants, disabling them one by one. Every now and then he'd consult his own memory banks or ask an engineering team member a few questions, but little else. He didn't have much of a personality yet, but he was the only person on the ship who could work with the drone without fear of being assimilated.

Tarayl shifted slightly. The specialized anti-borg assault weapon she carried was heavy. The two security team member she had selected to back her up in case of trouble seemed alert and anxious. Tarayl herself felt deeply uncomfortable. It was all too easy to see the homey corridors of the Shimmering full of fire and smoke, former friends scattered among the implacable, ever-advancing horde of drones. She'd seen it once already and, though she survived with her body intact, there were still old wounds in her mind. The Autumnal was gone. Most of her unit had perished with it.

She just had to remember it was gone and the she wasn't there any more. This is the Shimmering and she was its first officer. Slowly, like her councilor had taught her to, she fought herself away from the brink of panic and despair. The easy, vaguely predatory smile never left her face.

Doctor Agrippa stood and started wiping his hands. He peered at Tarayl over a strongly-hooked nose and nodded. "I'm gonna activate him now." Tarayl gave him a acknowledging nod and the doctor pointed a tricorder at the vulgar assemblage of meat and metal. There was a 'click' and the Borg drone started to stir.

It looked at Doctor Agrippa for a while, then slowly, carefully, looked around the room. Tarayls' skin crawled as his gaze drifted across her. The Doctor made a polite coughing sound and the Borg's attention turned back to him with laser focus. He addressed it in a dry, croaking voice.

"Identify yourself."

"I am...twelve of ninety seven." The borg's voice sounded hoarse despite its obviously artificial voice box. "You are...not a member of a catalogued species."

"Nope. Still alive, as much as you are at least. What is your mission, Twelve of Ninety Seven."

"To observe the Federation in preparation for assimilation into the collective."

Tarayl cut off the Doctor's next question with one of her own. "Still want to do that? Still feel like observin' and assimilatin'?"

The drone seemed to ponder that for a very long time. After a silence that stretched for almost five minutes it frowned. "That seems like an awful lot of work, truth be told."

Tarayl started to chuckle. It didn't sound funny to anyone else.

*************************

Khas' ready room was spartan with only a few sops to comfort for the sake of his crew. Tarayl, Agrippa, and the drone sat across from him. His officers were looking a bit nervous, and doing that horrible mouth-twist that they did when they were feeling that...that thing that wasn't displeasure. The drone was largley unmoving, but looked somehow disoriented. Khas turned to the drone and regarded it with his usual cold, insectoid pragmatism.

"I have been assured that you are, at least for the moment lucid and operating as an individual. Is this the case, Twelve of Ninety Seven?"

"Yes." Twelve replied and nodded after a moment, as though suddenly remembering to.

"How long have you been a part of the collective?"

"I was assimilated forty three years, nine moths, and seventeen days ago by Earth standards." Khas gave Doctor Agrippa a stoney look and the holographic crewman nodded in agreement.

"My own scans confirm it. He's human originally, and was assimilated when was about twenty two." Khas turned back to the former drone.

"Do you recall any of this?" The drone seemed to mull over that for a while.

"No. My memories are here, somewhere, but I can no longer remember where mine ended and the rest of the collective began. Every time I try to look for me, I see...everyone else."

"You are surprisingly lucid. Can you explain?"

"I think, Captain, that he was old enough to have a well-formed personality when he was assimilated. It has been repressed, buried under mountains of data and the will of the collective, but it's been there all the time." the Doctor mused.

Twelve shrugged slowly and deliberately. "That is possible. What do you wish of me, Captain? Why didn't you simply kill me? I think I would prefer death to this...confusion...right now."

Khas steepled his forelimbs. "Your probe was attacked by something. Something that hit hard enough, fast enough, and suddenly enough to prevent it from communicating with the collective. We'd like to know what."

Twelve scratched vaguely at the clammy, bluish skin of his head. "It was species...well. I don't know the Federation name for them. I think we were investigating a power signature. We approached as stealthily as we could but a ship appeared and surrounded us in an energy field. The field collapsed and destroyed our vessel."

Khas grunted. "Tholians. Very well. You've done what I asked, though I will want to question you further once you've had some time to recover. For now, you will be confined to medical and put under the care of Doctor Agrippa. We plan to reintroduce you to the Federation if you wish. Even help you recover your old identity if we can determine it. You are not a prisoner, but until we're sure that you present no extraordinary danger to our crew, you will probably feel we are treating you like one. I am sorry, but that is how it must be for now. Do you have any requests of me?"

"I wish to be redesignated. I am not Twelve of Ninety Seven, but I don't know who else to be. What group am I to be a part of?"

Tarayl sighed sadly. "You ain't too different from the rest of us, then."

"Us? How many of 'us' are there?" Twelve asked her curiously.

"Like, a Bajillion." The drone snorted, then looked rather surprised that he did so.

"That pleases me. For now, I would like to be Twelve of, Like, A Bajillion."

Tarayl started laughing brightly and Khas irritably sighed to himself. Why not? His ship was full of castaways, political refugees, and malcontents, all which were sickening to look up on and completely incomprehensible. At least the borg was less hideous than the rest of them.

"Very well."

Last edited by squatsauce; 02-20-2013 at 05:45 PM.