Captain's log, Stardate 87350.15. The various member species of the Alpha Quadrant warred in relative isolation, but everything changed when the Borg Collective attacked the Vega system. Although the initial Borg assault was stopped, Borg drones still roamed the surface of Vega IX, and the Vega system continued to be a popular waypoint for Borg deep space incursions into the Sirius sector block. As a result, the Lord English had been assisting the Enterprise in a month-long effort to totally purge the Vega system of Borg influence. Despite returning in a much better ship than the ShiKahr-class vessel I first came to Vega in, the fight against the Borg did not get any easier.
In high orbit among Vega Colony, the battered hulk of USS Lord English hung silently and unpowered amidst the wreckage of a Unimatrix command ship. Nearby, the escorts William D. Porter and Mauna Kea continued ferrying supplies between the English and the Enterprise-F. On the bridge of Enterprise, Captain Va'Kel Shon conversed with Admiral Remus Lee over their situation.
"You don't really have to do this, Admiral. The Enterprise is more than willing to wait for a new warp core from Earth."
"It's no problem, Captain Shon. You've already saved me from many a sticky situation and the Enterprise is more urgently needed in space than the English is. Besides, one of the ships under my command will tow the English to a fleet starbase in preparations for getting a new warp core. Whoops, there it is now."
As Lee finished his sentence, a Tuffli freighter warped in. Engineering teams began swarming the English, patching it for the journey to the fleet starbase. Captain Shon marveled at the resources Admiral Lee pulled together.
"Is this what a battle fleet commander can pull together?" Shon asked. "You seem to have much more discretion in expending materiel than many other admirals I know."
"Well, shorting out Klingon advances in the Neutral Zone means that Starfleet is more generous to fleets volunteering for the fronts when doling out inventory. Of course, the pressures of the war means we can't go exploring deep space like more veteran ships like the Enterprise can."
Turning from the viewscreen, Lee made for the turbolift.
"It'll take a short while before the warp core should be ready for the Enterprise, Captain Shon. In the meantime, I'll be on the freighter coordinating everything. If you need me, just hail the Wayword Vagabond. Oh, and thanks for saving my ship again. I thought that plasma bolt would have ended us."
Lee entered the turbolift. As the doors closed, Shon looked out upon Vega IX with a pensive look. He wondered if Lee was this relaxed all the time.
On board the freighter SS Wayward Vagabond, Lee met up with his security shief, Aranea Serket. The sultry Orion had serious news for the admiral.
"The latest casualty reports have come in. We lost forty-two crew members in our recent skirmish with the Borg command vessel. Adding this to losses incurred throughout the Vega campaign, the Lord English has lost 586 crew members during the past month."
Lee's face hardened as he heard the news. Losses were to be expected during any military action, and action involving the Borg meant that, inevitably, those that weren't killed were most likely turned into drones. All the same, a loss of a crew member means that it was his responsibility to have living relatives of the deceased informed of the matter.
"I'll have to start going over this casualty report, but the only place to sit is the bar at the back of the freighter. Is there anything else I need to know?"
"Lieutenant Kyona of the Enterprise wants to go over some after action reports with me. Some of the other officers are still working on the Enterprise."
Lee pondered a moment.
"Well, in that case, I'll accompany you to the Enterprise and help you and Lieutenant Kyona. This can wait," he said finally.
With that, he pocketed the PADD he was handed and strode to the bridge. Aranea noted to herself that he was avoiding an undesirable assignment again.
On board the Enterprise, Lieutenant Kyona was meeting with First Officers Samuel Winters and Kay Taylor about the status of the Vega colony.
"Borg drones are still emerging from the underground complex deep under the planet's surface; it has made expansion outside the central colony highly tenuous," she stated.
Drawing up a hologram of the colony, she continued her report as Aranea and Lee walked in.
"We've been able to remove the Borg presence from roughly 750,000 square kilometers of the planet centered around the remains of Vega colony. Most of that area has been turned into a three-tiered defense zone comprised of antiproton turrets, multiphasic transport inhibitors and collective static generators to prevent the Borg on the planet from pushing forward."
Aranea then relieved the presentation from Kyona.
"Vega's space defense will be centered around three monitoring stations: Mary Station in the Vega Kuiper Belt, Rosie Station around Vega IV, and Sheena Station above Vega Colony. Each station has subspace sensors incorporating Borg technology for detecting Borg transwarp signatures and automated power siphons to delay Borg ships and give the Vega colony and Starfleet time to respond."
Noticing Admiral Lee, Commander Winters finished up the presentation.
"The continuing Borg presence on Vega will hamper Starfleet's readiness in the sector block until it is totally removed, but for now, Vega Colony can start the rebuilding process. With any luck, thinning the Borg here will save the Sirius Sector Block a lot of trouble in the future."
With that, the meeting adjourned. Lee joined Winters and Taylor in conversation.
"Hey, Sammy! I haven't seen you since First Contact Day! How have you been?"
Remus is being overly familiar with Commander Winters. Kay thought as Lee led Winters out the door. I guess there must be a lot on his mind.
In another room, Aranea and Kyona prepared to send the data of the recent campaign to Starfleet Command. The duo was double-checking the data when an entry drew Kyona's attention.
"USS Aleksander, Majestic-class, lost with all hands Stardate 87339.99. I knew a friend who served on the Aleksander," she mused.
"Stardate 87339.99 was when the Lord English task force attacked the Borg resource processing nodes above Vega VII," Aranea remembered. "If I recall correctly, the Aleksander was rammed by a Borg Collector vessel during the assault, and it left the ship vulnerable to the weapons of the complex's central nexus."
"It seems like a poor way to go, being pummeled by enemy fire and being unable to respond," Kyona stated.
Kyona and Aranea had a moment of silence for absent comrades. Then Kyona asked Aranea another question.
"How did the Lord English fare throughout the Vega campaign?"
"All told, we lost nearly six hundred crew members as a result of enemy action. The assault on the Vega IV database complex alone claimed sixty-nine members of the English's assault squads."
Kyona ruminated on those figures. Such high casualty numbers were uncommon on board the Enterprise, which only lost ninety-eight crew members during the campaign.
"How was your captain during the Vega campaign? I think Captain Shon practically spent the entire month on the bridge. Counselor Mathias says it's because he's still wrestling over the deaths of his wife and family on Vega, so I assume someone who was at Vega when the Borg attacked would have some demons of his own to slay."
Aranea scoffed a little.
"It'd take a powerful telepath to get into Admiral Lee's mind, and even so, it's such a mess in there you'd probably never find out the truth. Those are probably the demons from Vega he'd have to slay, though. You wouldn't see it at first glance, but under that devil-may-care admiral's exterior is a young ensign who thinks himself way over his head. Survivor's guilt from outlasting his crew at Vega, I'd say."
Aranea and Kyona continued gossiping with each other as they sent the files to Starfleet Command.
At long last, the installation of the English's warp core into the Enterprise was complete. Captain Va'Kel Shon turned from the report telling him of the matter to his ready room console.
"It's time to go. I should thank Admiral Lee again for the warp core. Computer, open a channel to the Vagabond"
Commander Kay Taylor showed up on the screen.
"Hello, Captain Shon, what can I do for you?"
"I was about to thank Admiral Lee for his assistance, but I see he isn't on your ship..."
Just then, Lee came into view.
"Oh, Captain Shon, I see you've hailed my ship. How can I help you?"
The sharp-eyed Shon saw that Lee was holding an Enterprise glass full of Slug-o-cola.
"I was calling in to thank you for lending us a warp core, Admiral, and also to thank you for your help during the Vega campaign," Shon stated.
"It's no problem at all, Captain Shon," Lee replied. "I'm always happy to help."
Shon ignored the Admiral's commandeering of Enterprise paraphernalia.
"Captain to captain," Shon said, "how do you think the Vega campaign played out? I wanted to ask someone who was actually there when Vega IX was first attacked."
Admiral Lee's mood took on a more serious aura.
"I think we did well, tactically. Strategically, I think nothing has really changed. Vega won't be Vega again, not unless we fill the planet's interior with anesthizine and smoke out the Borg like cockroaches," he answered.
Shon's brow furrowed. Lee's answer was less optimistic than he expected.
"What did you think about returning to Vega, Admiral?"
Lee leaned backwards in his chair in a reminiscent reverie.
"To be honest, I'm not sure what to think. I only remember that I woke up that morning a crewman and went to sleep that same day a ship captain. Sometimes, I feel like I could have done more to save my crewmates, you know?"
Shon nodded. He looked at the picture of his wife and daughter on his desk and understood what Lee said about feeling responsible for their deaths.
"In any case, the Vega campaign could be considered a minor victory for the Federation; we've re-established the colony and have weakened Borg power in the system," Lee quickly added.
Shon nodded again. He had the feeling that Lee picked up on his melancholy and tried to lighten the situation.
"Well, alright then, Admiral," Shon stated. "I'll be heading off to the Tau Dewa Sector Block again. I'll see you later. Oh, and thanks, Admiral."
Lee closed the connection with the Enterprise.
I hope I didn't say the wrong thing to Shon, he thought. That got pretty serious near the end.
Captain's log, supplemental. The Lord English has been successfully towed to a starbase in the Neutral Zone where it will undergo a refit to receive an elite fleet warp core. From there we will continue to take on missions wherever Starfleet needs us. In the meantime, it is my duty to inform the families of the 586 lost crew members of their deaths. It is never an easy task, but their families can rest easy knowing they gave their lives in order to protect them from the Borg.
"To the family Petty Officer Lyvoh Glaht, USS Lord English. I am sorry to inform you of the passing of Petty Officer Glaht..."
Into the wee hours of the morning, Lee continued writing individual letters of condolences to the families of lost crew members. In his left hand was an Enterprise glass full of Earl Gray Tea.