Literary Challenge #39 : Lone Drone
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Join Date: Feb 2013
02-21-2013, 05:20 PM
The Drone simply stood there, as it had for nearly the last half hour or so. It didn't move, it didn't even blink. It simply stood, and stared.
Sann could offer no explanation for its lack of behaviour, nor could Adim. Superficially, the Borg Drone was functioning no differently than any other of its kind encountered by Starfleet. The many cybernetic implants grafted or even grown into its palllid flesh continued to operate as normal, sustaining the Drone's biomechanical life and granting it whatever special functions or abilities the Collective might have once required of it. But Arkos knew, from all reports and literature on the matter, that Borg Drones severed from the Collective usually weren't this inert. In most cases, when severed from the dominating aegis of the Borg uni-mind, Drones had a tendency wander about aimlessly and prod and poke at things as the more rudimentary aspects of their minds took over.
This Drone, though, was a statue. Ever since they had reactivated it, it had done nothing but stand there in the shielded brig, staring intently at them, unblinking. And in all honesty, it unnerved the hell out of Arkos.
Sann stood at the edge of the forcefield, scanning their new prisoner with her tricorder. "Its cognitive functions appear to be normal, compared to data taken from other disconnected Borg," she mused. "Its vital signs are similarly unimpaired, and...whatever natural organs it still has are quite healthy. Its implants don't appear to be impacted in any way either." She closed her tricorder and shook her head at Arkos. "I really can't tell what's wrong with it, sir. Not unless we give it a closer inspection."
K'Nera didn't take her eyes off of the Borg as Sann spoke. "I wouldn't recommend that, Captain," she said. "Even if it is severed from the Collective, it should still be considered as a potentially dangerous threat. It already poses a Pi-level security risk just by being on the ship."
And yet we brought it onto the ship anyway, risking potential assimilation,
Arkos thought to himself as he poked his chin,
because we were curious, and we still are curious.
"Is it possible that it's inert state could be related somehow to the damage its ship suffered?" he wondered aloud, hoping it wasn't the answer he was thinking.
Adim was the first to let his hopes down. "It's possible, sir," he replied. "In fact, I would consider it likely, given the highly unusual nature of both circumstances."
The answer left Arkos frowning all the more. The
had been on a routine patrol in the Gamma Oriolis Sector when they had discovered the wreckage of a Borg Probe ship floating, semi-intact, amidst a cloud of its own debris. The damage had apparently been total, and its systems were completely dead, but their scanners had still picked up a single life sign-- a solitary Borg drone, locked away into one of the ship's many interfaces, being kept alive by its own internal support system. It was rare for a Borg drone to be captured alive, so they had beamed it aboard the ship for study, and eventually decided to reactivate it to see if it could be liberated.
The fact that the Borg ship had been wrecked wasn't too surprising to Arkos-- with the right application of firepower, even the dreaded Borg Cubes could be taken down, as he remembered well from the Battle of Vega. What bothered him, though, was that the Borg vessel had shown no evidence of weapons dischage or kinetic impact on its hull. Whatever it was that had destroyed this Borg Probe, it had been internal...
"So, whatever it was that killed its ship could also be affecting it?" K'Nera bit her lip. One of her antennae visibly tensed. "Not very pleasant odds, if you ask me. Captain, I recommend that we beam this Drone back out into space. Better safe than sorry, after all."
Arkos glanced back at the Borg. Like all of its kind, roughly eighty to ninety per cent of its body was a mass of gunmetal silver and black, whatever organic components it had sheathed in a carapace of bulkheads, wires, plates, conduits, servos and alloys. The only visibly organic component was its face-- a white, hairless, humanoid face whose left eye was replaced by a laser-dotted lens, and whose crown was yet more metal plating. It looked like it might have been Human, pre-assimilation, but its expression was still blank, emotionless, and decidedly in-Human.
Just like the horde of Drones that had flooded the
during the Battle of Vega, Arkos thought uncomfortably, and had nearly caught and assimilated him during that bitter boarding action. The Borg had always fascinated and horrified him in equal measure. They fascinated him because, in many ways, they were the technological ideal-- a race that had overcome all known biological weaknesses through synthetic augmentation, and who had adapted and evolved into what was essentially a new type of lifeform through purely artificial means. Although he knew that this opinion was not shared at all by the rest of the Federation, as an Engineer he couldn't help but admire the Borg's technological advances.
But just as they fascinated Arkos, the Borg also horrified him. The Kllingons waged war for their outdated notion of glory, the Orions for riches and slaves, and, historically, the Dominion for territory. But the Borg continuously invaded the Federation for no less a goal than the assimilation and repurposing of all sentient life. The concept was pretty nightmarish, to say the least.
"Your recommendation is noted, Ensign K'Nera," he replied to his Tactical Officer, before turning to the other Andorian present. "Adim, what's your opinion?"
's Chief Engineer stroked his white beard thoughtfully, a gesture that was slowly becoming his trademark. "K'Nera does have a point, Captain," he said, "but we'll also want to find out what it was that destroyed that Borg ship. All we found out from an examination of the Probe's hull and main systems is that the damage was catastrophic. If we want to find out what caused that damage, our best bet is to examine this drone."
"There's something else, Captain," Sann added. "There still exists the possibility that we can liberate this Drone now that it's been severed from the Collective."
The Trill's comment made K'Nera's frown tightened. She didn't need to say anything for Arkos to know her opinion on the matter. Her first Starfleet posting had been on the poor
at Vega Colony, and it was safe to say that her opinions of the Borg-- even liberated ones-- weren't very pleasant.
"Hmm." Arkos turned his gaze back to the Borg, and met its unblinking, yellow-eyed stare. Sann's suggestion had piqued one question in his mind.
Is there still something sentient in there?
"We should probably examine the Drone more thoroughly," he said, "but Sann has a point. We need to know if the Drone is self-aware before we starting poking around its metallic insides. You know, respect for sentient life and all that."
"If only the Borg were as considerate..." K'Nera mumbled under her breath. Arkos answered her with a withering glance, as a warning that she was getting dangerously close to a reprimand.
Turning back to the Borg, Arkos stepped up to the shimmering edge of the force field and met its stare once again. "My name is Arkos Nair," he said. "I'm commander of the Federation starship
Do you...understand what I'm saying?"
The Borg said nothing, but merely stared on at him, mutely.
"We found you," Arkos went on, "in the wreckage of a Borg ship. As far as we can tell, you aren't a member of the Collective anymore. Do you...do you remember anything? Your name? Your home? Anything?"
There was no answer. The Borg simply kept staring at him.
Arkos let out a deep breath. No. There was nothing there. Whatever had happened to the Borg, it was practically braindead now. There was no sentience, no self-awareness, nothing. Dissasembling it would probably be a mercy.
He was turning around to order Adim to terminate the Drone and begin proceedings for an autopsy, when a flicker of movement caught the corner of his eye. He turned back to the Borg.
It had blinked.
No, it hadn't just blinked. It had cocked its head to the side, as though curious. And as Arkos watched, baffled, the Borg slowly took a clanking, metallic step towards the edge of the force field, towards Arkos.
Behind him, the two Security personnel readied their phaser rifles. K'Nera tensed, and Adim and Sann both flipped open their tricorders and began scanning eagerly.
Slowly, Arkos stepped back to the edge of the force field, so that he was almost face to face with the Borg. The Drone's face was still blank and impassive, with no sign of intellect or self-awareness at all on its expression. But it was moving. It was responding.
The Drone's mouth opened, and, in a flat, droning voice that sounded like several voices synthesized through a machine, it spoke.
"Ess sala thul zexu xuru ulla kasst tthonna skkla zen nesu usenn athta sequ quru kla nas..." The string of words came rolling off of the Drone's tongue in an unceasing tide of syllables. At first, Arkos wondered if his universal translator was malfunctioning, but he soon realized that whatever this Borg was speaking, it wasn't in any known translatable language. Either that, or it was a string of meaningless babble. For some reason, though, the tide of sounds struck some sort of chords with him. He didn't know why, but he felt a chill run down his spine listening to it.
He took a step back. "Sann," he said, "what's going on?"
Sann looked at her tricorder. "I'm not quite sure, Captain," she replied. "It's not--"
She froze as the Borg suddenly looked at her, continuing to drone its long, incomprehensible string of sounds as it did so. There was a sudden buzz, like a small electronic throat being squeezed, and suddenly Sann's tricorder went silent. Sann looked down, alarmed, at her device, its lights and readings black and dead, before there was a similar sound and Adim's tricorder died in his hand as well.
A second later, there was a short buzz as the force field flickered and deactivated, before the main light went out.
Arkos jumped back, alarmed. Everything was happening too quickly for him to follow. People were shouting. The auxiliary lights were flickering in an unusual colour, and the Borg Drone was stepping forwards, past the boundaries of the force field, continuing its long, droning chant.
Realization sunk in for Arkos, even as K'Nera whipped out her hand phaser and fired. The beam scored a glancing blow against the Drone's chest, burning a gouge in its chestplate. Its body shook, but it remained standing as it turned its impassive gaze to the Andorian. K'Nera pressed the phaser's emitter again...and stared in disbelief as the phaser simply sat lifelessly in her hand. No beam. No discharge. Nothing.
There was the duller whine of a heavier discharge as one of K'Nera's security detail fired his phaser rifle. The condensed blast slammed against the drone's shoulder, staggering it, burning off much of its metal plating and filling the room with the stench of cooking meat. The drone showed no pain as it turned its blank gaze to the guards. They tried to fire again.
"...essa yuul shuub sulla..." the Borg droned on as it stomped towards them. "...zara juur miis oon enna suud..."
Even as he fell back towards the doorway, along with K'Nera, Sann and Adim, Arkos knew what was going on. He tapped his comm badge, and felt indescribable relief when he heard it beep. It was working.
"Nair to Transporter Room!" he shouted, his voice betraying more of his panic than he cared to admit. "Lock onto the Borg Drone and beam it into deep space, now!" Behind him, Adim's auxiliary power units flickered, their glow changing colour.
Oh no, no no no no no...
"We can't get a lock, sir!"
came Chief Rukel's voice on the other end, edged with static. "Something's throwing up some kind of interference!" As Rukel spoke, one of the security officers resorted to some improvisation, rushing the Drone while swinging the butt of his rifle like a club.
There was a dull clang as the rifle smashed against the side of the Borg's head, staggering it yet again. The drone seemed not to care as it almost lazily swung its arm at the ensign. There was a dull crunch of bone as the metallic forearm connected with the ensign's face, and he crumpled to the floor. Free of this nuisance, the Borg's advance resumed.
"....axi sunna haan yass iri lem shaan saar...."
Arkos swore under his breath. "Can you get a lock on us?"
That was something, at least. "Then lock onto my position, and beam it into deep space in exactly ten seconds!"
There was a single, bewildered second of silence on the other end.
"That's an order, dammit!" he almost screamed, before pulling his communicator free from his uniform. It was time, he decided, to do something monumentally stupid.
Digging his heels into the floor, Arkos sprang forward, charging the advancing Borg head-on before his senior officers could stop him.
In truth, Arkos only had basic close combat skills, and had ended up in the infirmary more times than he cared to admit during CQC classes at the Academy. But all he needed, he knew, was one solid hit. He lunged, whipping his arm forwards...
...and pressing his comm badge against the Borg's chest plate. As the comm badge stuck, the Borg's instrument-laden arm swung at him. He tried to dodge, but moved to slow-- he could almost hear his ribs breaking as the limb slammed against his chest. With a wordless cry, he toppled onto his back, his chest a burning mass of agony. Above him, the Borg inclined its head to stare down at him.
"...la sanna tenu vorrat sen kal yit namu shadd..."
And then, in mid-drone, the Borg was enveloped in a brilliant sheen of blue-white. Its form became insubstantial, billions of white particles seen revolving within its ghostly form, before it finally vanished from sight completely.
Arkos let out a relieved groan, even as K'Nera and Sann came rushing to kneel over him.The lights flickered and came back on, bringing a sense of normalcy back to the room, and Adim rushed to the auxiliary generators to make sure they were functioning properly. Arkos glanced up at K'Nera, who was cradling his head while Sann ran a now-functioning tricorder over him.
"Ensign," he rasped, "you're the one with a communicator."
Thankfully, K'Nera was quick to pick up on Arkos' meaning. She quickly tapped her comm badge. "K'Nera to Bridge, lock phasers onto the Borg drone we've just set adrift and fire!"
came the voice of Ensign Farim from the bridge. There was a short pause, before Farim spoke up again. [i]"We've vaporized it, ma'am. There's nothing left of it."
Looking visibly relieved, K'Nera nodded. "We have wounded down here, including Captain Nair. Have Sickbay send down an emergency medical team immediately."
"Acknowledged. Farim out."
Taking a deep breath, K'Nera looked down at Arkos. "Permission to speak freely, sir?"
Arkos nodded. "Granted," he rasped, surprised at how ragged his voice sounded. Each breath felt like a flame igniting in his lungs.
"If you ever do something that idiotic again, sir, I'll kill you myself and spare the Borg the effort."
The comment made Arkos chuckled. A mistake, he quickly discovered, as it made his chest hurt even more. "I'm sure Starfleet command will look favourably on you terminating your commanding officer, K'Nera," he wheezed.
"You have three cracked ribs and one broken one," Sann said as she scanned Arkos. "Nothing immediately life-threatening, though. You'll be alright, sir."
Arkos nodded weakly. "Good to know." He glanced further back at his chief engineer. "Adim, do a thorough scan of the ship's systems. Whatever it was that the Borg did, I want to be absolutely sure that the ship hasn't been affected or infected in some way. I think we now have some idea of what happened to the Borg ship." He turned to K'Nera. "Send a message to Starfleet Command, informing them of what has just happened. Recommend to them that this section of space be quarantined."
K'Nera nodded. "Aye aye, sir." She paused. "What...
that, do you think?'
Taking a deep breath, Arkos leaned his head back. "I don't know, Ensign...but whatever it was...it was capable of assimilating the Borg."
Last edited by ambassadormolari; 02-22-2013 at