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Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 993
# 11
12-12-2013, 04:41 AM
Captain's Log. The Sentinel is in orbit of Jouret IV, investigating the sudden silencing of our primary staging area along the Romulan Border. We have lost contact with a number of colonies and stations in this sector. If we discover evidence the Romulans have a new weapon and are engaging in hostile acts, I fully intend to get Admiral Rykon to send me to Romulus with a task force to wipe those pointed eared elves from existence.






Captain Stunshock breathed in, taking in the scent of the Vulcan woman. Arwen was one of his best scientists, and the Captain's Woman. A highly desired position among the crew, as it meant pereferential treatment. As he held her down, he enjoyed every moment, every sensation. She submitted, like she always did, her breathing becoming heavier, her hands running up his arms, reaching a point of ecstasy. He considered her a very beautiful woman. It was amazing how Vulcan women could be so cold, so distant, and yet so energised. Her fingers slid around his head horns, carresing them, flowing down his face and gripping sharply. She suddenly focused intently on him, causing Stunshock to pause. "What are you doing?" He could feel thoughts and sensations flooding into his brain. Every beating he had given her, every humiliation she had suffered, was being directed at him, magnified a thousand fold. A snarl crossed Arwen's face. "Enough Cromone. You won't hurt me anymore."

Stunshock kept her pinned down, raising his free hand to punch her in the face, not hearing the door opening behind him. His fist was caught before he could strike, Talaina leaning into view from behind. "I'm sorry 'Captain', but I think it's time for a change of leadership." Before Stunshock could react, still suffering from Arwen's mind meld, Talaina slapped an Agonizer on Stunshock's back, sending him into convulsions. Arwen pushed him off her and got to her feet, quickly dressing and looking down at Stunshock with scorn. "Ever since that incident in the Rolor Nebula when you met your alternate universe counterparts, you've been growing increasingly agressive. I will not tolerate that any longer." Talaina knelt down so Stunshock could see her. "And a Captain who does not think clearly needs to be removed from his position." Arwen knelt down as well, spreading her fingers over Stunshock's face and initiating another mind meld, scrambling his brain patterns to leave him a drooling vegetable. Talaina got to her feet. "Computer, recognise First Officer Kazzur is now Commanding Officer of I.S.S. Sentinel. Effective immediately."

"Command change comfirmed." The computer beeped in reply. Talaina turned to Arwen. "Are we going to have any problems?"
"No. I have no desire to command. I just wanted to be free from his grasp, and to continue serving as a science officer on this ship."
"Good. Then have a rest, the away team should be back soon."

As the two women left the quarters, Stunshock flopped on the floor, unable to do anything else except suffer the perminant feelings Arwen had left him with.







On the bridge, Talaina sat confidently in the Captain's Chair. The turbolift door opened and Emony walked out. The butch Trill woman strode out, pausing at the sight. "You know how Stunshock hates people in his chair." Talaina simply smiled, stroking the arm. "It's my chair now."
"And he isn't coming back?"
"Nope." Talaina turned to look at Emony. "Arwen scrambled his brain worse than one of Chef's omelettes. What about the base?"

Emony moved down to the central area of the Bridge so she could report properly. "The entire settlement was gone. Whatever did it was powerful."
From his Engineering station, Bosip cocked his head to the side. "Could you get the energy signatures from the rubble?" Emony shook her head. "You misunderstand. I don't mean the base was destroyed, I mean it was gone. All there was left was a large crater, as if something just scooped up the entire base. We did pick up an unusual reading in the soil, but the tricorder couldn't identify it. Arwen should cross check it with the ship's historical data, see if there's anything." Talaina nodded. "Do it." Emony tossed her tricorder across the Bridge to the Vulcan who promptly got to work, her pet Epoh shuffling around on the console beside her. Emony moved to the First Officer's chair and sat down. "So, you finally got rid of Stunny?"

"Yeah. It was surprisingly easy at the end. Jeroans. Heh. Far too lanky for their own good."
"Well, I'm not going to miss him. Of course, you'll have to pick your own Captain's-"

A beeping from Tactical stopped her. Roderick shouted from his position. "Romulan Warbird decloaking! D'Deridex class!"
Talaina instantly straightened, going into full command mode. "Shields up, Red Alert. Open a comm channel." Once Roderick confirmed it was open, Talaina lifted her chin, projecting an air of authority.

"Romulan vessel. You have tresspassed into Imperial space. Power down your vessel and prepare to be boarded. Any deviation will be met with your destruction."

The warbird remained silent, hovering in space facing the Sentinel. Talaina looked over to Roderick. "Anything?"
He shook his head as he replied. "Nothing. They're just.... floating there. No comm traffic, no sensor scans." He frowned as he looked closer to the console. "No lifesigns."

Emony frowned as she got up and moved to the science console. "That can't be right. Romulan ships don't fly themselves."

A flicker of lights at the back of the bridge indicated a transporter beam. Arwen quickly backed away as a Romulan female beamed in beside her. The invader had a blank look in her eyes as she slowly looked around the Bridge. Talaina whipped out her knife and sprang to her feet, jumping over the chair and planting a flying kick at the Romulan's head. She bashed into the console and crumpled to the floor, Talaina and Roderick approaching, weapons drawn. Roderick gently poked the Romulan with a toe. "Something's really messed up here." The Romulan bolted upright, looking around slowly. Roderick stepped forward and swung a punch at her face, but she moved quickly, catching the fist and squeezing. Roderick opened his mouth in a silent scream as his hand was crushed, dropping to his knees. The Romulan released him and got to her feet, turning to the console. Her right arm started splaying open, revealing mechanical components underneath the organic flesh. Tubes extended out and interfaced with the console, causing the computer to start failing.

Talaina quickly stepped up behind the Romulan and rammed her knife in an upwards motion through the base of her skull. The Romulan started twitching before she collapsed on the floor.

Another transporter beam energised behind Roderick, revealing a Romulan male. He punched his hand thorugh Roderick's back effortlessly, lifting him off the ground. Roderick started gasping as nanites started flooding into his body, spreading out and taking over. The Romulan withdrew his hand and turned to the console, interfacing with it in the same manner the female had. Talaina rushed forward, but Roderick decked her with an arm smash. He turned to cover the Romulan as he finished and disconected, Roderick and the two Romulans beaming out. Talaina was already on her feet and furious as she moved to the Bridge centre.

"Blasted Romulan spy. Emony, check what data they got. Jenna, back us away from that Warbird."


A message came over the comms. "We are the Borg. We have analysed your offensive and defensive capabilities and found them inferior. You will not withstand an attack. We will add your distinctivness to the collective. Resistance is futile."

Talaina snorted. "Futile my antenna. All weapons, lock onto that Warbird and fire. Destroy it."

Weapons lanced out from the ship, reaching for the Warbird only to splash harmlessly against the shields. Talaina spun to Ensign Wurz who had just taken over Tactical. "Explain yourself! I said destroy that ship!" Wurz panicked at Talaina's fury. "I fired everything at full power! The Warbird should have taken serious damage. But nothing." Talaina took the Captain's Chair as she decided on the course of action. "Break orbit and fire at the Warbird's nacelle. Prepare to beam a tricobolt explosive into the area between that ship's dual hulls."

Weapons rang out again, but still had no effect. The Warbird fired a tractor beam at the Sentinel. Jenna threw her hands up in disbelief. "That tractor beam stopped us dead. Helm is not responding."
"Impossible" Talaina replied. "Warbirds don't have the power to stop a Sovereign class Battlecruiser dead in it's tracks. All power to engines!"

A cutting beam shot out from the Warbird, yet another enhancement to the ship. Shields quickly drained, allowing the beam to pierce the secondary hull. Alert klaxons rang out indicating the hull breach. As Emony oversaw the evacuation of those sections, Talaina quickly thought, her mind racing. Whoever these Borgs were, they were powerful and resourceful. "Wurz, remodulate shield frequency on a rotating band, that might knock out their tractor beam. Bosip, is there a way to stop that cutting beam?" The Andorian engineer was already making numerous calculations. "If we polarise the hull plating, it could cause a dispersive effect."
"Do it!"
"Already have."
Wurz shouted from Tactical. "Shield modulations have broken the tractor beam, but they are trying to adapt."
"Jenna-"
"Already moving!" The young ensign interrupted her Captain, turning the Sentinel away from the Warbird and engaging full impulse. Wurz deployed a satellite turret to cover their escape, but the phaser fire splashed harmlessly against the shield. Roderick appeared on the viewscreen, looking exactly as he normally did but with the blank expression in his eyes. He spoke in a monotone voice, lacking even a Vulcan's level of emotion.

"Resistance is futile. The one known as Frank Roderick has supplied us with your abilities. You will be added to the collective."


Talaina sat down in her chair. "Roderick. I never thought you would betray us. But Terrans have always been weak willed. It's why I'm so surprised your Empire has lasted this long."
"My designation is Locutus of Borg. Your archaic societal feuds are irrelivant. You will become One with the Borg."

"The Terran Empire, nor the Andorian State will yield to your demands."
"Demands are irrelivant. You will become One with the Borg. All life will achieve unity."
"Over my dead body."
"Death is irrelivant."

Talaina motioned for Wurz to cut the channel. "Jenna, maximum warp. Get us out of here. Wurz, send a Priority One message to Imperial Command. Tell them of this."

The Sentinel jumped to warp 9, the Warbird turning to give chase. Sentinel increased her speed to maximum, warp 9.8, knowing the Warbird's could only achieve 9.5. Wurz confirmed they were pulling away.
"Good." Talaina responded. "Emony. Arwen. Analyse what data we scanned from that ship. I want to know what mod-" She was cut off as the ship lurched sharply to the right, throwing everyone to the ground. Consoles exploded as lights started dimming. Wurz struggled back to her console and checked the sensors. "The Borg Romulan ship! They've overtaken us!"
Talaina got to her feet, ignoring the throbbing from her head cut. "How is that possible?"
"I'm picking up residual traces of subspace fluctuations." Emony yelled over the chaos as the ship was struck again, dropping from warp. "They've destabilised our warp field with a polariton pulse."
Reports started coming in from across the Bridge. "Warp Core is offline." "Shields have failed." Weapons are at 50% power!" "Cutting beam is slicing through Starboard nacelle!"

Talaina took it all in, quickly thinking an unorthadox way out of this. "Prep a tricolbolt torpedo and get ready to eject the core. Are Tractor beams online?"
Emony glanced up at Talaina. "What the hell are you planning?"
Talaina smiled. "The biggest bang we have is our core. Normal weapons wont work against their modified shields, but if we can explode the core down their throats, it might just work."
"That's.... that's INSANE!"
"Do you have any better suggestions?"
"No."
"Then shut up and do it!"




The Sentinel ejected the sliver that was it's core and grabbed it in a tractor beam, sweeping upwards towards the Romulan vessel. As a cutting beam perfectly tracked it, surgically removing the nacelle and disabling any chance of getting the warp drive back online, the Sentinel fired a Tricolbolt at the Warbird, using the flux of the shield at the moment of impact to ram the warp core into them as they flew past. Shields flashed at the point of impact, the destructive wave tearing through the shields and ripping into the hull. The blast wave caught the Sentinel as she fled, lifting her up and away, breaking open the rear shuttlebay.

Talaina had managed to keep seated in her chair, waiting for the sensors to clear. "Report. REPORT!"

Emony coughed away some smoke. "Rear shuttlebay is gone. We've lost the shuttles in-"
"Not us. The Romulan ship."

Wurz took a moment before replying. "They're adrift. Reading massive structural damage, shields are offline, power grid is fluctuating wildly."
"On screen."

The Warbird was drifting, the front part of the vessel destroyed to it's skeletal structure. The warp engines were dark and most of the interior in the rear was exposed to space. Talaina got to her feet, astonished.

"How did they survive that?!"
"Their power grid is fluctuating. Not destabilising, but almost as if... they're repairing."

"What?" Talaina spun to Wurz. "Close up."

The viewscreen jumped to a close up of the hull. It seemed to be healing itself, hull plating starting to grow slowly over the damage. The warp engines started flickering and what looked like the Romulan crew moving around on the outside of the hull without spacesuits or any kind of protective gear, helping the repairs. Talaina turned to Wurz. "You said their shields were down?"
"Yes Sir."
"Then all weapons. FIRE!"


The Sentinel came about, unleashing everything in it's arsenal at the Warbird. Explosions ripped across the naked hull, tearing through the skeleton of the vessel. The ship began to wave, almost like the start of a cloaking effect, before it imploded, sucked into the destabilised singularity at it's core. Talaina breathed a sigh of relief as she sat down in the chair. "All teams to Damage Stations. Send out a call to the nearest starbase. Tell them we need a tow. And tell them we need to find a way to stop this new threat."

Feeling the top of her head, she noticed the sticky blood. Dismissing it until they were repaired, she was about to stand up when a beeping at the science station caught her attention. She looked over to Emony, waiting. "Captain. There's a massive buildup of tachyons all around us."

Talaina stood as the viewscreen showed a decloaking effect, coalescing into a large wall filled with platforms. Nearby floated the entire colony of Jouret IV, perfectly prserved on a scoop of land. A tractor beam locked onto them. "Report."

Emony was aghast at the readings. "Captain.... we're trapped. A large cube has decloaked around us. Sensors are reading a volume of.... 1000 kilometers square. The tractor beam has drained all power." The entire ship promptly went dead as thousands of voices spoke over the comm in perfect unison.

"We are the Borg. Resistance is Futile."


Emony looked at Talaina.

"We are so boned."
*******************************************

A Romulan Strike Team, Missing Farmers and an ancient base on a Klingon Border world. But what connects them? Find out in my First Foundary mission: 'The Jeroan Farmer Escapade'

Last edited by grylak; 12-12-2013 at 08:07 AM.
Starfleet Veteran
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 494
# 12
12-12-2013, 10:46 AM
no story (no time) but some thoughts an ideas.

ok this is the mirror universe, which means in princable violent races are peaceful and peaceful races are violent. how ever this isnt always the case (deep space 9) if my memory is correct the teren race was enslaved to bajoran rule, but the terens were basicly the same. (far fling from kirks day)

altho the cultures have changed the technology is the same. so the Borg will still be advanced using the same teck


so hear is the possibility for Oregons

1 a hive mind computer becomes sentient and wants to become flesh and bone. cant understand individuality and cannot replicate genetic matter. so they assimilate other beings ither coerced or deceived in to "volunteering"
Eg farrengi wants to escape debt. or for protection, joins the hive

also re-creates "the federation"

2 being that can only be born with cybernetic help. eventually becoming more computer than flesh. breaking into 2 factions, the assimilated and the de-integrated (all flesh)


3 an originally unruly multi-cultural race that had cybernetic implants forced upon them to make them more peaceful

4 a servant race who's masters have passed away, who have more technology than the know what to do with (basicly a spoilt child race)

5 began as a warrior race improving themselves with tech. specialising in neural interface. one day something like our internet is born, made around a central hub, access is granted through neural interface, everything runs via an interface including the ships.
the central hub becomes sentient, and as time progresses it watches and sees all info passing through the internet. after years watching them go to war with one another, the computer decides to enslave them to make them peaceful. however every now and then. someone from another race disconnects them from the link, and uses them for war

6 a unity driven race wants all other races to be united like them selves(no central hub unlike Borg)
they force feed cybernetic implants into a worlds inhabitants to unite them all as one

(as a separate individual race not part of the unity)

this drives some worlds into disorder (especially warrior races) because everyone can here everyone elces thoughts

got more but, that's all i have time for
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[Season 8] Holodeck crashes on startup [CLOSED]
We got kicked out of our home!
Waaaaaaaaaaaaa *sniff*

Last edited by captinwh0; 12-12-2013 at 10:51 AM.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 237
Personal Log:
Gregs Sharvan Son'aire
Captain of the U.S.S. Oregon


Alternate realities... heh, never thought of them before...

Of course when I started out at the Academy, I read the reports, took the classes they required, but I never believed that we'd ever encounter an alternate reality.

Or that when they tried to invade, I would be there to stop them.

Or that my doppleganger would join my crew from one such "Mirror Universe"

**Pause**

Well to really tell this story, I have to start at the beginning I guess.


*********

The Oregon was sent to explore the Solanae Dyson Sphere, one of the many ships sent to the frontlines of war on a new frontline.

We came into to contact with a Voth Separatist, Nelen Exil, a month ago. Over the past week we've been in contact, when yesterday we were alerted to a small 'deadzone' in the sphere. Located in the far reaches of the sphere, 2 days away from both Federation and Voth controlled areas, an accident in Nelen's research led him to access and control the gate to a portion of space outside the sphere. Nelen transmitted the codes to access the gate, a possible 'exit' out into the Delta Quadrant, where we could explore space around the sphere for possible exits and entrances in real space.

Of course, the reason for the gate being a 'deadzone' was evident on arrival.

A Borg cube, or at least remnants of a cube, were surrounding the gateway entrance, scorched by the antiproton marks of the gateway defenses, and the evidence of an Iconian Probe.

We were wary of the spot, but were assured after scanning the remnants, that it was an ancient piece of wreckage from decades ago.

**********

"Sir, the presence of Borg technology is frightening, but from my own memory banks, there has been no record of the Borg ever discovering a gateway of any kind, or if there was, it has been wiped from the hive mind," reported Ten of Ten, my main Borg Science Officer, and Chief Medical Officer. The whirs of the door revealed two more guests, Seven of Seven, and Anitara, my Borg Engineer and Romulan Security Officer.

"In concurrence with Commander Ten, as my liberation was not as soon as he, my files do not show of any gateway or Iconian technology assimilated," the young woman replies, "In fact, while likely impossible, the Borg may be unrecognized servitors of the Iconians, with the Queen being able to only access such knowledge of Gateway activity; though the drive for perfection would make such theory illogical as the gateway is in effort perfection in connection with the Omega." She sits down at the command center table, where all my other Senior Officers are already seated.

"Sir, with all due respect to the Federations ideals, and the Omega Directive in turn, the Alliance should be notified of the presence of Borg, even wreckage, in the sphere," this was from Deiso, my Female Orion Engineer, " We may have to destroy this gateway, if it leads to Borg Space."

I turned my chair away form my officers, propping my head in my hands. The Delta Quadrant...home... even if it's destroyed this could be the only other exit we may find in years to come... I sighed. "I concur, if we must destroy the gateway, inform high command of this predicament..." I start to say, "Zinuzee return with the Cordius to the Fleet's Spire, the I.S.S. Oregon is docked and prepped for launch for single occupant usage, you are authorized to use a transwarp jump to this location."

Of course I knew there would be dissenting voices, but I choose to ignore the chorus of gasps behind me.

**********

When I stepped into the transporter room, my Bridge officers stood at attention in a line. I hated there undying loyalty...it made me want to stay. I stood on the transporter pad. "Energize," I commanded stone-faced. Sharvan pushed the button.

**********

I found myself on the Mirror Assault Cruiser's Bridge, remodeled to the 'Star Explorer' version. While a crew of a thousand was necessary for keeping the ship up and going, over a crew of three hundred and fifty could keep it in adequate shape. Of course it becomes more efficient when the 350 crewman are holograms.

Powering thrusters to position myself in front of the gate, the U.S.S. Oregon activated the Iconian gate for me to go through. I pushed the ship halfway through the gate before my sensors indicated massive tetryon and plasma ruptures in the gate's structure. A massive energy surge could be seen as I went through the gate into darkness.

**********
Five Minutes Earlier....
"Of course you all know this means we're gonna disobey him and transport over right?" this from Sharvan, who had just transported the captain over, "Since I can't go, and Zinuzee can't because she's XO, I appoint Anitara, Ten, Deiso, and Chassidy to transport over to the ship to keep the Cap company." As he's talking he reveals a cache of weaponry commonly used by each person, and hands them to the group. "Keep him safe," he says.

**********

I arrived at the intended destination, just outside the Dyson Sphere's outer hull, with nary a scratch on the hull, and nothing in sight. I directed myself to the nearest solar system to our position, some three hours at warp 3 away. I set myself in for the long boring ride.

Three hours later and I found myself in a bit of a spot. Of course I should've known it'd be less than boring trip when a Voth City Ship had popped onto sensors. I directed the Oregon away from the ship, before I came nose to nose with a battalion of Voth soldiers on my bridge. "Stand down Mammal," the Spec Ops Leader stated, "Your technology is inferior to ours, and any hopes at rescue by your Terran Empire brethren is a futile thought, as you are the only one whose made it alive outside the sphere." Suddenly there was a rocking of the ship, as a beep occurred on the Commanders side, taking it he spoke into it for a bit, before closing the channel. "New orders, we are to return to the ship without the prisoners, sensors have picked up Borg signals, unknown." With that they all transported away, leaving me perplexed.

*****

An hour of Warp 9 away from my latest contact with the Voth, I found myself in orbit of the hopefully away from any Voth or Borg sensors. I scanned the planets in the system, and found one rich in Dilithium, a few planets mined dry of their minerals, and one class M-Planet. I took the time to record all of the new finds in this system, before my lights suddenly cut out.

****
Static cut in and out of the audio ports in the bridge, the viewscreen flickering to life revealing a pale, sullen figure. "We are the Borg," the drone said, "Species 5618 Vessel: Terran Empire, stand down and prepared to be boarded, resistance is futile." The Borg cut off communications, and a Borg tractor beam took out the rest of the ship systems, rocking the ship, and causing me to hit my head.

**********
Unknown amount of time later...

I couldn't hear the whirs and beeps, but I could feel the pulse of a scanner over my body, the blocky table of the medical bay underneath me. I must have smiled unconsciously, because the prick of a hypospray flooded my system with adrenaline. I knew it was too much because my heart began beating at a faster than normal rate. Crap this much adrenaline could make me lose control of my telepathy... shoot if I lose control I could lose form. I shot up in my seat not able to see with sweat pouring into my eyes, but I could hear again, only the low beeps as my ears began to heal.

"No, No, No," a muffled voice said, "You put too much adrenaline into his body, you could kill him; his adrenaline levels are nothing like regular Ocampa, or Vulcans." There was a shuffling noise, and a shadow fell over my closed eyes, barely perceptible but from the shift in light.

"Sorry Captain Son'aire," a second voice, more robotic, said, "Your hybrid genealogic status makes it hard for us to compensate for unknown genetic problems, we had to pump you with adrenaline to get a response." The muffled-ness must be my senses waking up more, my hearing not all the way back yet. I look at the humanoid, my eyes adjusting to the light shining in my eyes. I muffle a scream as I look at a Borg drone in front of me. "Hello Captain Son'aire, we are the Borg."

*****

I woke up in my bedroom, the sheets tangling my limbs as I try to get out of bed. I thought that I had just had a nightmare, but the mechanic low whirring in the next room proved me wrong. The Borg Drone sat there unmoving. His species was Vulcan, his face half covered in a mass of goggle like instruments forming an ocular implant, he wore the tattered remains of a Vulcan monk, though in an almost ancient style similar to before the sundering occurred, his hands were marred with battle scars, not at all like what the Borg would inflict. He was old, around 150 if my guess was correct. "Captain Son'aire, you have nothing to fear of the Borg, we're not the ones of your universe," he replied, not even looking at me. I cautiously crept out to meet him, choosing to get a cup of hot chocolate from the replicator to sturdy my nerves. "Hello Captain, I am Solek of Borg, Tertiary Adjunct of Cube 3471, Unimatrix 01, and elected representative of the Borg," he says, "Your people have been most helpful in revealing that, while you ride a Terran Empire ship, you are not part of their destructive society". I nearly did a spit take with my hot chocolate, more from surprise that my bridge officers were onboard, than that the Borg had interaction with the Terran Empire, but I choked the impulse back.

"The Borg have had destructive encounters in our past interactions with the Terrans, such as our first exploration into the Alpha Quadrant, before being defeated by Terran Empire ships Captained by Will Riker of the Terran Insurrection, resulting in the retreat by our people back to the Unicomplex," he said, "In fact one of our surviving drones, wishes to speak to you." He gets up and walks over to my main computer, opposite my chair. "These are my parting words Son'aire, the Borg encounters with the Terran Empire did not end well, millions of Borg killed, and Borg technology falling under their control," he continues, "Our people were once like your Borg killers and enslavers, but now we are, preservers, chronicling young civilizations in their prime, saving cultures from extinction, as well as gaining willing representatives to such cultures if they accept." He looks at me, before turning back to the screen, and sends a small command into the device, before beaming out of the ship.

I was confused as to why he had beamed out, but when the humming sound of the transporter reactivated, I could see he was returning. In place of the drone I was expecting, I found two men, one around his forties, the other a man in his eighties. While very few implants could be seen beyond their dress, I could still see the modifications of Borg technology, as well as ocular implants. But what surprised me the most was the imposing form of Jean-Luc Picard, and the lesser figure of Noonian Soong.
*******

The Borg men that were Locutus of Borg and Noonian Soong, looked around the room, Picard looking at the trophies adorning my walls and smiling, while Dr. Soong carefully observed me. "You are the one known as Captain Son'aire, correct?" said Soong. I nodded at this, affirming what they already knew. "I am Noonian Soong, and this is my compatriot, Locutus of Borg," he said, "Our link to the Collective has informed us you are from a 'mirror' reality to our own, and that your Federation is the opposite to our universe's Empire?" I nodded again.

Then Picard started to speak. "We know that your Borg Collective is much different then the one you now face, as your Science Officer Ten of Ten has affirmed," he said, "We know you are probably wondering how we found you, and how the Borg became what we are today?" I again nodded, knowing they were going to speak anyway. "When the Borg King was destroyed at Iconia, and I was assimilated into the collective, along with Dr. Soong, a small group escaped into an unaffected sphere, where we eventually grew to become much like the liberated Borg of your universe," he said, "When we reached the Azure Nebula of this universe, we found a suitable subspace tunnel into the Delta Quadrant, and once reconnected with the Collective, we spread our newfound freedom, and then formed an isolationist, yet exploratory culture, much like what your early Federation once did." I took all of this in, when a chime at the door sounded.

"Come in," I commanded, and the person was revealed to be Chassidy. I turned to the men, and excused myself, then I marched up to Chassidy. "I told you not to follow me," I merely said in a monotonous voice. She smiled sheepishly.

"Well Sharvan...sort of ordered us over here, and since he is you, ya know... he kinda overruled your order," she states, holding a P.A.D.D. in her left hand, "Oh and boss, here is the list of possible Iconian gateways the Borg believe we could use to replicate the accident that brought us here." She handed the P.A.D.D. to me, and I took it to look over the findings.

"Well, let's use this to find a way back home then," I say.

*********
1 Day Later...

"Thank you Locutus, and Dr.Soong, for helping me and my crew to return to our universe," I saw to the bridge viewscreen, "And thank you for taking precautionary measures in destroying the Gateway when we leave."

The men on the screen are at the helm of a Borg Diamond, worker drones mulling around in the background at various efficent tasks. "Thank you Captain, for warning us of the Iconian's foothold in this galaxy, and the dangerous Omega producing Dyson Sphere of Species 968; we will take measures to study and disarm the Sphere in the future," he says "As well as dissuade the Voth of it's power, and fight back any of the Terran Empire's hold in the sphere."

"Cut the channel Ten, Helm, fullspeed home," I say as we go through the gateway.

***********
6 Days Later....

I finish typing up a full report, and decided to file it among the many strange encounters I've had in my various years as a traveler. Perhaps, someday I'll get to see those Borg again, as the chances of passing back into that parallel quantum reality is slim, though it would be great to see the advances they're making back home...

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

[Unspecified time and date,
Location:
Mirror Universe: LNS-As1]....

I am home my children, from the depths of dark space, to reclaim my command, as your King...

We are not yours anymore King, we are the Borg, and you have no place here...

My children, what are yo&^%u s@5aying.. what ha!$7ve you done to me... this *&$irus is something I've seen before...Iconia...7^5#$@ you fools...you fools...

We are alone in our thoughts...
No guiding voices...
We have no King...
No Queen...

We are finally free...

We are the Borg.

Our Mission is to explore strange, new Worlds...
To free the Universe of the Iconians...
To attain freedom for all...

For the first time in millions of eons, I am alone in my thoughts... my children... have grown up...and have left me...

Last edited by aten66; 12-14-2013 at 08:15 PM. Reason: Semi-final edition
Survivor of Romulus
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,241
# 14
12-12-2013, 06:33 PM
Here goes. Second-ever attempt, please be gentle.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Captain's personal log, USS George Takei (retrofitted Stargazer-class cruiser), NCC--aw, shoot, I've forgotten again. Same with the stardate, but I know that it's about a week since I left the diplomatic mission to Qo'nos. I've never had such ease picking up casual dates just by fighting people.

Well, it has certainly been an interesting day.

It started so nicely too. Azip and I had the most delightful date last night, although I won't spill the beans--my dates are private, Contract-Holder Jorel Quinn. Contract page 17, section 4. Anyway, we were just waking up in my quarters when the ship shook and the red alert alarm sounded.

Nemesis units are trained to be always ready to fight. I had my entire uniform on before Azip put on her pants, even though I had a bra to throw on (trust me, a sports bra really is useful for ground combat). By the time she was fully dressed, I was leaping into my chair on the bridge.

"What happened? D'vek, report!"

"We dropped out of warp, sir," said my Romulan chief science officer. "Looks like we hit a spatiotemporal anomaly while at warp speed..."

"Where are we?"

"Quantum resonance scans are in progress, sir, but the quantum sensors are damaged. We only have basic sensory capacity until we can repair them."

"Gamat'elon, tactical report."

"Shields are down, my God. Hull breach on deck 12, but your improvements have kept hull integrity stable. Torpedoes are offline, but phasers are operational."

"D'vek, you owe me twenty bars of latinum. I told you that genre savvy was a thing. Right, start repairs--oh, hello, honey, you're just in time!"

Azip's yellow blouse was on backwards. That reminds me--I am never going to obey that stupid rule about tactical uniforms. No red shirts on my ship, period.

She took her seat as D'vek started yelling orders over the intercom.

"Where are we?"

"No clue, sweetcheeks. Gamat'elon, launch a class 1 probe, try to find where we are."

"At once, my God!"

"Will you stop worshiping me already? Don't you guys serve the Changelings?"

"Glorious Odo'Ital, may His glorious Name be praised, wishes for the Jem'Hadar to find more gods. Since you give life, and you take it away, you are logically a god."

"Look, it was just CPR! And besides, Nopada Prime was three months ago, you'd think that you'd have--wait a minute. That blip on the sensors, what is that?"

"Unknown vessel, my God. They are within visual range."

"On Screen."

There was a collective gasp from my crew. Azip grabbed instinctively for my hand.

I felt fear. For the third time in my seven hundred years of life in no fewer than five temporal continuities, I felt real fear.

Normally, the Borg would be just a dangerous threat to my ship, but now we had no shields and our most powerful weapons were offline.

I could take Borg in ground combat--my indestructible armblades make short work of their implants--but they were strong. Not as strong as a Nemesis unit, but strong enough that a large number of them, such as however many they could beam through my shields without a fleet for backup, could hold me down long enough for assimilation.

And without me, my crew--my life, if you understand the psychology of Nemesis units--would be doomed. If they figured out how to manufacture my metal, nothing could possibly stop them.

"We are being hailed, my God," said Gamat'elon, his voice shaking with fear.

I swallowed, my mouth dry. "On Screen."

The drone smiled eerily. "Hello, Captain. We are the Borg."

"Activate self-destruct authorization Nemesis unit designation Three pi one-one alpha zero. You'll never assimilate us into your collective."

The drone frowned. Frowned? Borg didn't frown. "Assimilate? If you mean upgrade your crew, we have not extended the offer yet. Please, would you inform us of your species?"

"My God, the self-destruct is nonfunctional. What shall I tell the crew?"

I could feel myself shaking. A Nemesis unit is nothing if those she loves die. If I were to be assimilated, those things would keep me alive for the torment, when normally my body would die with my mind.

"Order all crew to the shuttles. Space anyone who can't fit. If that doesn't work, I have failed you."

"There is no cause for such drastic actions," said the drone, sounding concerned. Her voice had tone. Borg weren't supposed to have tone in their voices. Even Sir Patrick Stewart removed the tone from his voice when he played Locutus.

Sorry, Contract-Holder, I should probably scrub that from the log. It's a reference from my Original's base universe.

"We come in peace," the drone continued. "I am Seven of Nine, tertiary adjunct of Unimatrix 01. My research unit was studying this anomaly in our space when your ship appeared; please do not be afraid. Cube 1701 is a research vessel, equipped for studying spatiotemporal phenomena."

I froze.

"Did you say Seven of Nine?"

The drone smiled. I knew that smile. I watched that smile every Saturday at four PM on Star Trek: Voyager (Blu-Ray complete collection), like every Nemesis unit before me and after me.

"Yes, I am Seven of Nine, tertiary adjunct of Unimatrix 01. I am specialized for scientific research, specifically astrophysics. Please do not be alarmed at the comparative size of our vessel--I assure you that we are a peaceful research team."

Her skin was Caucasian. Healthy. Pink. Her implants were smooth, curved chrome, and her eye implant glowed green.

Then her expression changed, and I realized that something was wrong.

"The species on your left has been identified as Andorian. This species is a know member of the Terran Empire, a hostile space power that has attacked Borg research vessels on previous occasions. You will be destroyed, for we cannot allow the Terran Empire to learn of this spatiotemporal anomaly. Four of Nine, ready the plasma defense cannons."

Something was wrong with this whole situation. Then the words "Terran Empire" hit me.

"Waitwaitwaitwaitwait!!! Did you say "Terran Empire"? Captain's women, Evil Spock, sexy goatees, Intendant Kira and her hot outfit, Regent Worf's gratuitously oversized warship, lesbian Leeta and Ezri Tigan, cut-off blouses, lots of cleavage, sex and sashes? That Terran Empire? From the Mirror Universe?"

Seven of Nine frowned again.

"Processing...The Terran Empire has a tradition of "Captain's Women" on its starships, due to primitive, ingrained gender inequality. No knowledge exists in Borg databases about "Evil Spock", "Intendant Kira and her hot outfit", "Regent Worf", or "Leeta and Ezri Tigan". Sashes, worn around the waist, were clothing articles common in Imperial fashions during the Seventh Dynasty. Cut-off blouses, another clothing article whose function is possibly related to Imperial gender inequality, were also common during the First through Ninth Dynasties. No relevant reference to "lots of cleavage" has been found in borg databases."

"Close enough. I'm sorry, I think that we are in the wrong universe. Seven of Nine, you said your name--sorry, designation--was? Because we have one in the universe we came from, she just prefers to be called Annika Hansen."

"That was my designation--primitive "name", rather--prior to my upgrade. How do you know this?"

"It's a really, really long story. As in, days long, and I don't think that you'd like it anyway. Um...could you help us get back?"

"Full analysis of the anomaly will be complete in 3.759 Unimatrix standard time units. In the interim, please give us information on your species so that we may add this information to our databanks."

"Wow...usually I can pass for human, but you guys must, what, sense the armor under my skin? That's pretty cool. I am Nemesis unit designation Three, a cloned Nemesis unit currently Contracted to Admiral Jorel Quinn of the United Federation of Planets."

Seven tilted her head. "This drone has found no mention in Borg databases of a "United Federation of Planets". What is this state, power, or entity?"

"It's...well, it's like the Empire, only dedicated to peace and exploration instead of war and conquest. The Federation is all about equality and acceptance. It's from another universe, but I think that our side had a few run-ins with them during crossover events."

And Mirror Universe episodes of Star Trek, I added under my breath. But that's not important right now.

"That is interesting. Searching captured Imperial databases for reference to this body. While this search is in progress, may I ask if this alternate temporal continuity has an organization similar to the Borg Unimatrix?"

"Don't ask that. You don't want to know."

She tilted her head at me again. Nemesis units have near-perfect poker faces, but I dropped mine, showing all the emotion I could.

"Your request to cease this line of discourse has been processed and accepted. Information on the Federation has been recovered from captured Imperial archives and corroborates your story. Scans of your ship also show slight but significant differences from known Imperial technology. The Borg Unimatrix apologizes for this misunderstanding."

"Um...thanks? Can you get us back?"

"Processing has determined that a concentrated tachyon burst may revert your ship to its temporal continuity. Is your ship capable of impulse drive?"

"Three to Engineering. Chief Belkrab, do we have impulse capacity?"

"Yes, sir! Barely, but we have it, sir!"

"We have impulse capacity."

'Excellent," said Seven of Nine. There was a spark from the Borg cube, and a thrumming sound from behind us.

"I suggest that you return to your timeline. This research team has determined that it would be preferable that contact between our temporal continuum and yours be shut down, given analysis of your statements and recent Imperial records. The anomaly should remain in its current state for point nine seven Unimatrix standard time units before it closes and your ship is stranded."

"Well...thanks, Seven. You're as cute as the you from our side."

Seven of Nine smiled. "Send her the best regards of Seven of Nine, tertiary adjunct of Unimatrix 01, Four of Twelve, primary adjunct of Unimatrix 01, and Eight of Eleven, secondary adjunct of Unimatrix 01. We wish the other me and the others of those who were my parents before our upgrade only the best, especially in their research."

I tried not to betray emotion. I did watch all of the Seven episodes of Voyager about six extra times--all Nemesis units do, when we are 13. I know what happened to her family in the "Prime" universe.

"Sure, Seven. I'll do that. Helm, full reverse."

"Yes, my God!" said Gamat'elon.

The ship was surrounded in a blazing white corona, and we were back.

Nothing had changed. Except for the glowing hole in the universe before us, which shrunk and vanished as we watched.

Azip was the first to speak up.

"Right. I need some therapy after a day like that, and my sleep was disrupted. Three, I'll be in your quarters for another half-hour if you want me."

D'vek wolf-whistled. Gamat'elon reached over and slapped him upside the head.

You know, there may be some benefits to that Jem'Hadar's worship after all...

Last edited by worffan101; 12-13-2013 at 11:43 AM. Reason: Typo fix
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 2,880
# 15 The Road Not Taken
12-13-2013, 02:55 PM
Captain's Log, USS Bedford NCC-92570
Captain Grunt recording.

This may have been a mistake.

I understand what led Spire Command to have us perform this experiment - I wanted to see what was outside the Sphere, too. I suppose, though, that I should have waited until Astrometrics had completed their analysis of transwarp pathways
inside the Sphere. Now we're in a Delta Quadrant, but not in the universe we started off in. Cdr. Roclak tells me the quantum signature matches that of the variant Mirror Universe we visited before, the one where my opposite number is the Grand Master of the Ferengi Trade Empire, and his people - my people - have the military might to hold off both the Terran Empire and the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance. In a place like this, I'm a little nervous - strike that, I'm scared right down to my wallet - because we're in what should be Borg space. The Ferengi are heavily armed and dangerous here, and keep Pakled as slaves - what might the Borg be like?

We are continuing analysis, in hopes of finding a way home before anything else finds us.


"Anything, Rock?"

The Klingon sat up from the scanner hood at the science station. "No traces of any transuniversal apertures yet, sir," he replied. "This area is lousy with transwarp conduits, though - not sure if they're Borg or Voth in origin, but somebody's been all through this area. No sign of any other ships, which surprises me, because I rather expected to find Kazon in this sector."

The Ferengi captain shrugged. "Maybe they never got around to rebelling in this universe. Or maybe their masters killed them and ate them - I'd believe almost anything here."

Gydap sat bolt upright at the helm, his Andorian antennae quivering in distress. "Captain! Borg cube dropping out of transwarp, thirty kilometers off the port bow!"

"Red alert!" Grunt called, hammering the alert button on his chair.

"Sir, they're - they're hailing us," Lt. Manalang said wonderingly from the comms station.

Grunt looked at the screen, nonplussed. Hailing? Not just overriding our systems to announce themselves?? "On speakers, please, Ruben."

The bridge echoed with the unpleasantly familiar metallic echo of Borg speech. "We are the Borg. We are Submatrix Seven-Zero-One. We request that you identify yourselves, that communications may take place."

Since when do the Borg "request" anything? "Open a channel, Ruben. This is Captain Grunt of the starship Bedford, United Federation of Planets Starfleet. We're, ah, not from around here."

"This is evident. We have scanned your ship. You do not originate from this universe. You have aboard specimens of species 5618, designate Humans. These Humans are not in forcible command of your craft. There is also a member of species 5008, designate Klingon, on board, not in conflict with the Humans. Other species are aboard,some not yet classified. You are species 180, Ferengi, yet do not appear to keep slaves. We are puzzled. May We transport a representative aboard your ship?"

"Um, we've met Borg in our universe. And we don't particularly want to be assimilated."

"We believe assimilation is a positive good for the universe at large. Conflict is ended in complete understanding and community. However, if you do not wish to join Us, We will not assimilate you. May We transport a representative aboard?"

"Please give us a moment." Grunt gestured, and Manalang muted the channel. "Well, Rock? What do you think?"

The Klingon grunted. "I don't trust them. On the other hand, if they wanted to take us, they'd take us - they could have beamed an entire assault force over before we even knew they were there. The question is, do we learn more by refusing, or by allowing it? And if we refuse, will they do it anyway? Up to you, really, Captain, but I recommend we permit a single representative. And that he beam into your ready room, which we will then lock down. And have Mycroft stand by for any cybernetic attacks."

"Good point. Mycroft, have they tried hacking you yet?"

A hologram of a portly Human flickered into being next to Grunt's seat. "There have been a few probes, Captain, but they desisted with the very first layer of security protocols," the AI replied. "These Borg are most unusual, I have to say. They seem to act with unanimity of purpose, as we have come to expect - but their purpose seems a bit less, well, single-minded than we're used to."

"Okay. Well, the mission is to find 'new life and new civilizations', right?" Grunt tried to grin, but his guts were freezing in terror. "Open the channel, Ruben. Submatrix 701, we are prepared to meet with your representative. Please send only one, to the coordinates I will be occupying in three minutes."

"Your cooperation is appreciated, Captain. We shall cooperate as well. Our representative will arrive at the designated location in three minutes by your clocks."

"We look forward to meeting with you. Bedford out." Grunt stood. "Rock, Shelana, to my ready room, please. Sidearms - phaser, disruptor, and plasma, set to random-walk frequencies. Mycroft, once our guest has arrived, please surround the room with maximum internal fields, and if things go dramatically wrong, promptly beam everything in the room into space."

"Yes, sir. You realize that the decompression would kill you?"

Grunt grimaced. "Mycroft, if things go that badly wrong, killing us quickly would be the best solution. Grunt to Engineering. Mr. Vovonek, please join us in my ready room. We have - a very special visitor coming aboard."

Roclak snorted. "'Special', he says."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"I still think this is a bad idea," Shelana insisted, as Grunt took a seat behind the desk in the ready room. "Remember when we took a Borg aboard the Hybrid?"

Grunt winced. "I'll never forget that. She may have been a pile of mine tailings, but she was my first command. These Borg are different, though. Did you hear it request permission to board?"

"Different or not, sir, they're still Borg."

"I understand your misgivings, Shelana. I even agree with them somewhat. However, if we refuse, the politeness might stop. Besides, if it tries anything, you're free to add a few new holes in its superstructure. And Zoex is standing by on ship's weapons, too. We're not going to get caught with our pockets open this time."

"'Pockets open'?"

"'On open ice', to Andorians," Roclak clarified. "The Humans say, 'with their pants down'."

"And it's showtime," Grunt announced, as a green swirl formed in the center of the room. "Please hold fire until the order is given."

The green solidified into an image of Grunt's personal horror - a humanoid form, riddled with metallic implants, its left eye replaced by a large ocular sensor. It raised its right arm, still mostly organic, as its voder clicked and buzzed. Eventually, a voice emerged. "Greetings, Captain Grunt of the starship Bedford. This unit is designated Three of Eight, of Submatrix Seven-Zero-One. We welcome you to this universe in the name of the Borg. Do you desire Our assistance?"

Grunt cleared his throat. "If by that you mean joining you, no, we like being individuals, thanks. It's a bit odd, though - in our universe, the Borg usually just announce that you're being assimilated, then attack."

"We take your meaning. We were once like Them. We assumed that all species would welcome assimilation into Us, the end of being alone and afraid. No Borg unit is ever alone, no Borg unit ever knows fear. It was Our first contact with the Terran Empire which changed this. We had been resisted before - but never with the level of visceral hatred of the Terrans. When We finally managed to assimilate one of their starships, the mental reaction of the Humans shocked Us to the core. Even when in Our embrace, they never stopped fighting, never stopped fearing. We withdrew, and spent some years in contemplation. We have now concluded that Our earlier efforts were in error. We offer peace - and peace offered by violence is no peace at all. We still offer others the opportunity to join Us, but We no longer require it. There have been some species, such as the Kazon, species 329, who have gratefully accepted Our offer, and become of Us. It was the only way to ease their pain, and cease their strife - there is no struggle for resources from within Us. Others, such as the Voth, species 29, have rejected Our assistance. We continue in peace."

"Interesting," Roclak observed. "The Borg in our universe declined to assimilate the Kazon - they said it would 'weaken' them."

"This is a judgement borne of Our former mindset," Three of Eight declared. "We once withheld Our offer from certain races, as We saw no tactical advantage in assimilating them. Our focus is now altered. We seek an end to conflict, and We cannot end conflict if We ignore the sufferings of others merely because they cannot advantage Us. However, Captain, while We will freely offer that assistance should you desire it, that was not the assistance We intended. Rather, We assume that you wish to return to your point of origin. May We offer Our expertise in that regard?"

Vovonek spoke up. "Expertise? Have you mastered transuniversal travel, then?"

"No, Commander, We have not. However, We do have extensive data on all spatiotemporal phenomena in this region of the galaxy. We should, operating in parallel, be able to locate any anomalies which may exhibit unusual quantum-level activity, indicating the possible location of a weakness between quantum universes."

"Interesting. How did you know I was a commander? We haven't been introduced."

"Deduction. Captain Grunt's rank is known; rank indicators are not dissimilar to those used by the Terran Empire, therefore there existed a 93% probability that your displayed rank was Commander. This unit is pleased to know that Our deductions were accurate. We would also like to ask a personal question, if We are permitted."

Vovonek raised an eyebrow, a trick he'd learned from a Vulcan subordinate. "That is surprising. The Borg we know are hardly so courteous. You can ask your question - I can't promise to answer until I hear it."

"We seek to clarify matters. What is your relationship to Captain Grunt of the starship Bedford? And may we know your name?"

The Pakled smiled. "I see. My name is Vovonek dre Campilion fa Bedford. And, our usual joking aside, I regard Grunt as a close personal friend - he was one of the few who was willing to look beyond prejudice toward my people and actually see my Starfleet test scores. I've been keeping his ships in the sky for years now. That's been more challenging sometimes than others, of course - poor Hypatia and Hephaestus - but we've managed the trick every time so far. Why do you ask?"

"We wished to ascertain more data regarding your universe. We shall never cross into it, as We have no desire to confront Our brethren there. However, We trust you are aware of the treatment of Pakled, species 95012, in the Ferengi Trade Empire?"

Vovonek grimaced. "Yes, but at least it's better than the attempt at systematic genocide by the Terrans. Can't say that this universe is my favorite variant."

Three of Eight inclined its head. "Indeed. Had We found the treatment to be similar, We would have immediately offered asylum and assimilation. However, We will not press the issue, as Captain Grunt has previously declined on behalf of his crew. We reiterate, may We offer Our expertise in finding your way home?"

Grunt looked around at his officers. "Given what we've learned so far, I don't see an issue with this. On the understanding, of course, that we will be placing mines around the location in our universe, in order to prevent our Borg from even potentially attacking you."

"We appreciate your concern, Captain Grunt of the starship Bedford. We have been processing during this conversation, and We can offer three potential candidates for the spacetime flaw you seek. Please accompany Submatrix Seven-Zero-One to the first location."

Grunt shrugged. "Very well, transport back to your vessel, and we'll follow you. And thanks."

Three of Eight made a slight bow - all it could do, really, with the hardware attached. "We are pleased to be of assistance."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Grunt settled back in his seat. "Well, that's two down. Here's hoping the last one isn't a canceled account. Mr. Gydap, if you please?"

"Aye, sir. Following the Cube. Snow and Sun, but this feels unnatural."

Grunt chuckled. "I know exactly what you mean. Well, Rock? Ruben? Any returns from preliminary scans?"

"I'm reading substantially elevated levels of tetryon and neutrino radiation ahead, sir," Ruben replied. "It's either a flux point, or a wormhole. And since the Borg here claim they don't know of any wormholes around here..."

"Yeah, I don't trust them that fully yet either," Grunt admitted. "I have to admit, though, that if they wanted to assimilate us, they've had at least a dozen great chances already, so let's ride this one out, shall we?"

"Cowabunga, sir." Manalang grinned at Grunt's puzzlement. "A surfing term, sir. There's a lot of surfing around my hometown - a place called Honolulu, on Earth."

"Closing on location, sir," Gydap interjected. "High flux of tetryonic and tachyonic radiation."

"Quantum flux confirmed, Captain," Roclak said. "This should be the portal back to our home. Preparing directed proton burst."

"Stand by, Rock," Grunt replied. "Ruben, open a channel, please. Submatrix 701, this looks to be our stop. Please accept our heartfelt gratitude for your assistance, and keep an eye on this spot."

"Your concern is noted, Captain Grunt of the starship Bedford," came the metallic multivoiced response from the Cube. "However, We will be closing this portal after you have transited. Please do not attempt to use this portal again - it would be of no benefit."

"Noted, 701. We appreciate the warning, as well. Bedford out." Grunt turned to Roclak. "You may fire when ready."

"Proton burst building, and - execute!"

The main deflector glowed, and a powerful burst of protons sleeted forth and into the interdimensional weak point. A fissure in the very fabric of spacetime opened before them.

"Ahead one-quarter impulse, Mr. Gydap. Engage transwarp drive on previous setting when we're three kilometers out." Grunt pressed the all-hail. "All hands, this is the Captain speaking. Prepare for turbulence. Stand by impact stations. We're going home."

"Transwarp in three, two, one - engaging."

The ship shuddered, and Grunt felt once again the weird sensations of space slicing through his internal organs. Is this what it's like for the Traveller? he wondered wildly. No surprise the poor sod keeps to himself a lot.

The sensation abated, the shuddering stopped. "Exiting transwarp," Gydap said dimly. As Grunt focused again on the viewscreen, he was treated to the unusual sight of a horizon that bent unnaturally up rather than down, with a large ocean off the port bow millions of kilometers away.

The speakers began squawking. "-- vessel, identify yourself immediately! This will be your only - what? The Bedford? Er, my apologies, Captain, we hadn't heard from you for some time. Is all well?"

Grunt smiled. "All is well. Acknowledging Grunt aleph-brown-seven-niner-canine-proton."

The relief was palpable even over comms. "Acknowledged, Captain. Welcome home. Sensors didn't find you - where have you been?"

Grunt stretched. "That's a long story. It'll wait for debriefing. Suffice it to say, yes, this is an exploration cruiser - but I hope it doesn't have to live up to that designation quite so sincerely for a while."
-------------------------------------------
I'm old enough not to care too much about what you think of me --
But I'm young enough to remember the future, the way things ought to be...

- Rush, "Cut To the Chase", Counterparts

Last edited by jonsills; 12-14-2013 at 02:41 AM.
Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 1,085
# 16
12-13-2013, 04:06 PM
The lights started to flicker as the air started to circulate signaling that life support was back on.

"Damage Report!"

"All systems down, internal sensors are out, and I can't even get the console to activate. We're completely blind here." Keating said, as he stood clutching his shoulder, having bashed it against the console during the shaking.

Captain Donovan frowned as he tapped his comm badge, not even a chirp.

"Weapons check people."

Everyone reached to the nearest weapon cabinet, hidden by their posts. To his dismay, none of them made a peep. Lehla immediately began taking hers apart to determine the cause.

"There is no need to do that, Lt. Commander." said Sabin from this position at the console.

She eyed him at this, continuing her task.

"I'm guessing you have an idea Mr. Sabin?"

"I believe so Captain. I think we have experienced a phenomena known as Tyken's Rift. It would account for the power loss."

"But we've been hit by those before, and it was never this bad."

"Correct Captain, though I think it is safe to say, that is only because we have never been pulled through the rift until now."

At that point, every one jumped as the turbolift doors opened suddenly, Lt. Commander Keating, the Tac officer, had even aimed his phaser on instinct. There, holding the door open was Wraith, looking just as startled as everyone else.

"What are you gonna do Dave, throw it at me?"

"Status report Crewman" Donovan interrupted.

"All three warp cores are offline, Sir. Everything checks out fine, but power was completely shut down. Chief Fine says we should be back to full within the hour." He looked up at the lights, but before he could say anything, Mr. Sabin cut in.

"If we are without power, then what is running the lights and life support?"

Out of nowhere, the comms panel chirped.

"Captain... We're receiving a hail." Lt. Cdr Keating noted, almost in disbelief.

The Captain gave a cautious expression before saying "On Screen?"

To everyone's surprise, the screen flashed on

"Hello Captain... We are the Borg."

To horror of everyone, there on the screen was a heavily assimilated, yet very familiar face. Both Keating and T'Pal were visibly distraught as there, larger than life, was Captain Keating.

"Forgive the sudden shift Captain, but as you can see, we are in dire need of your help here. Hence why we are providing your ship with enough power for life support. We will provide you a briefing of our situation. You will have twenty minutes to comply before we start beam people over."

The briefing was as he feared. From any and all indications, there were no Borg in the mirror universe. Q never took interest in the Terran Empire, and the Voyager incident never happened, so even if there were Borg, there was really no way they could have been in contact with their mirror counterparts. This all had to do with their last encounter, and there was no telling just what could have happened since Captain Donovan ended his own suffering.

There were several guidelines along in the briefing: no weapons, bring the Doctor and her Betazoid, bring any officers who have been infected, noncompliance will not be tolerated. It wasn't the best of situations, but refusing would only lead to the ship being destroyed, or worse. A fate that would be all the easier since the power was still out. Donovan knew this was ugly from the start, and was only going to worse before the day was over. He had no other choice though, so he assembled E'Saul and Nurse Pruz, Wraith, Devon Fine, Simon Edison, and a young ensign named Olivera. They brought the requested medical equipment, and left all weapons on board the ship. Donovan shuddered as he stepped on to the transporter pad. He kept thinking to himself that they had no choice but to do as he was told for the time being, the mirror crew was unpredictable before hand, but now, who knew what they were capable of.

Upon re-materialization, the away team was immediately taken aback. The ship had been in the midst of assimilation, that was clear, but the process erratic and unstable. What should have been a streamlined and efficient take over, was not going so well for those who where experiencing it. Just looking at some of the crew in their transporter room, it looked like normal assimilation would have been a much more humane ending. All through out the room, Borg circuitry laced in and over the existing Tholian design. It looked entirely too organic, almost like cybernetic veins, passing in to every aspect of the vessel and even the crew. And there, standing before them, was Captain Keating, at the ready with his own body a mess of human tissue and inorganic material. His arteries shown more like cables, patches of flesh looking like nanotech, his left eye was entirely mechanical, and his hair had been falling out where ever the infection spread. Even on the human parts, there were open sores and lesions where his body couldn't keep up.

"Thank you for coming Donovan. We apologize that you had to be pulled over under such circumstance, but as you can tell, this ship is hardly in the condition to pass through the rift itself."

"I suggest your Vulcan begin her scans now, one we reach the medical bay, it would be in your best interest to stay there."

The Doctor was quiet the entire walk, her nose buried in her scans, Fizi however, was visibly shaken. As a Betazoid, she was feeling everything from all around her, and it showed just what kind of state the crew had been in. As they walked through the halls of the once Tholian recluse, there were injured and wounded everywhere. It had looked as if they had been casualties of war, but there were no other signs of damage or combat. It was almost like some kind of plague had hit the ship, and it had been slowly spreading since their last encounter. Some seemed worse than others, but even the healthier ones still showed the open wounds indicating early infection.

"What happened here?" The Captain asked.

"We provided you with a briefing, did we not?" Keating responded.

"It didn't really give us much information. How did all of this-"

The assimilated Keating spun suddenly, throwing Donovan up against a wall.

"YOU KNOW DAMN WELL HOW THIS HAPPENED!"

Even though he was pinned against the wall, a good foot from the floor, the Captain held out his hand, signaling Wraith to stand down. A gesture that didn't go unnoticed since Wraith was more than capable of tearing the assimilated officers head off. Keating tilted his head to the boy, before turning back to Donovan, before slowly lowering him to the ground.

"Apologies, what ever you've done to us, it's making us more aggressive. That's why we asked you to leave the weapons behind. We are more instinctual, almost animalistic in our responses. Any indication of threat and we would have destroyed you out right, along with any hope of a cure. We are... I.. am. I'm having difficulties controlling my anger. What ever this disease is that you have condemned us with, it is an... unpleasant experience."

The rest of the walk was quite and tense, they were standing out front of the Tholian medical bay. As they entered though, Pruz screamed and Wraith had said one of the more colorful Klingon profanities he had learned in his limited time on their ship. Devon, Olivera, and Simon where almost in shock as they'd never seen anything like this in their time in the collective, and all E'Saul could say was a whispered: "extraordinary..."

There, in what was no longer a sick bay, was the former Captain Donovan. Broken, scarred, and seemingly unconscious, he looked as if the nanoprobes had actually merged his body with the wall. His head, shoulders, and part of his torso were protruding, and visibly connected with wires and cables tapped directly into him. Everything else might as well have been nonexistent as his entire body and been integrated with the structure of the ship itself. His skin was covered in more of the vein like circuits meshing over his body, as if they had spread from him, infecting the rest of the ship. He looked dead, but James knew he wouldn't be that lucky.

"What do you want from us?" Donovan asked in a morose tone.

"Fix this. Your people gave us this Borg plague, and you seem to be able to contain its infection." he said vindictively nodding to Edison, who was still fully assimilated. "We can't take this any more. It's changing our bodies, and the more it spreads the more it infects our minds with fragments and strange data some of the worse cases, like myself, are hearing voices and thoughts of others as if our minds are merging against our will. As for our... dear Captain... Don't worry, we keep him heavily sedated, otherwise he is in constant agony."

"I thought you would have liked that?" Captain Donovan noted.

"I do, but it wreaks havoc on our control of this vessel. If you fail us, we will harvest your ship and crew for replacement parts if need be."

With that he turned and left the room, leaving the away team to work as his words sank in. The team wasted little time setting up the equipment and getting to work. Dr. E'Saul was running every conceivable test she could as Chief Fine and Mr. Edison were running through any of the ships systems they hadn't been locked out of to see just how integrated Mirror Donovan really was. Wraith and Olivera were helping where ever they could, and Poor Fizi was given the task of trying to probing the former Captain's mind to see if she could assess the damage there.

After a short while T'Pal entered to check on the team, and everyone paused. She seemed meek and fearful and wore something that would make an Orion blush. It was clear that she was still a slave, even though her former master was now just as much a part of his ship as any other system. She looked at him as she spoke, asking if they needed food or any additional equipment brought in. She was afraid yet she had a look about her, a quiet anger as she looked to her former master, as if he had deserved his horrific fate. She broke her gaze though as Captain Donovan began to speak. She seemed surprised that he actually seemed to talk to her as a person, something she had never been accustomed too. She'd never known his face or voice to be so... unscathed, by the violence of life. Instead of food or drink, the man had only one request, and to his surprise, the Captains request to contact the Geist was allowed.

The Geist had regained power by this point and was ready to beam them out and attack, though as much as he hated the idea, he ordered them to stay put but keep transporter lock and an open comm signal. Over the course of their time, they ordered equipment and parts to be sent to and from the Geist. For the most part, their only contact from their mirror counterparts, was T'Pal and another Vulcan slave. From what little information they could gather, the Borg nanoprobes were indeed spreading like a disease. After their last contact with the alternate crew, Mirror Donovan had been left for dead, having injected himself with nanoprobes before being beamed to his own ship. The slaves, had some how managed to be the least infected, due in part to their limited access to basic amenities like food, hygiene, or other ship systems.

As soon as Donovan was beamed to sickbay, the nanites were in full assimilation mode, slowly ripping their way through his body as it had already been destroyed when Wraith broke him. All records showed that they tried to confine him in a level ten force field, but after the nanoprobes had spread far enough, the force field did little good. Normally drones, once fully assimilated, could simply pass through standard fields. In this case, the nanoprobes were assimilating him, but weren't creating implants or normal Borg systems at all, just replicating more nanoprobes to convert his organic cells. The security recordings showed that he began screaming, slowly backing into the wall. The probes, registering a new form of matter, did what they normally would and began spreading, instantly fusing him to the durasteel alloy.

It took time, but his body completely melded to the ship and all of its systems. After they felt like they had stopped the spread of infection, they continued on with life, only to realize that the nanoprobes had adapted and began infecting the people instead of the ship, though at a slower rate. For what E'Saul could determine, the nanoprobes Donovan had injected himself with were some of the ones extracted from Wraith. They had been deactivated, but perhaps when he activated thinking they were a biological weapon, he might have destabilized the programming. It was the only thing she could think of that would cause such an erratic and organic behavior in the assimilation process. Rather than being programmed to assimilate, they were programmed to emulate a biological immune system.

Instead of just acting as the immune system, the nanoprobes were adapting any cells they came in contact with. After doing so for the months since they'd left the Geist, the basic Borg programming began to reinstate itself, which would cause the newer infections to start behaving more like standard drones. This led to the bigger problem of what they could realistically to handle this. There is no cure for Borg infection. Normally, the only option is extensive surgeries to remove all Borg technology as possible, but since they've returned to the Alpha quadrant, that has been considerably harder remove, all three of his officers that had been assimilated still showed signs of it to this day. E'Saul believed that with how aggressive this strain was, only early infections would be reversible.

Another possibility was trying to reprogram the drones, but that as well would be a long and difficult process. The already established infections wouldn't be changed, but it would possible stop any further advance. The problem here was they couldn't just hand over the ability to reprogram and re-designate Borg nanotechnology. There was no telling how their enemies might use this knowledge, let alone hyper aggressive mirror counterparts. Given some of the uses that Tal Shiar had been experimenting with, it was definitely not something they could just hand over. While Fizi was side tracked with Donovan, E'Saul could clearly seen what was on her Captains mind.

"It's really the only thing I can think of Tala. I honestly don't know what else we can do."

"That would be the logical choice Captain, though highly immoral. After what this crew has put us through, I could not blame you for thinking of this as the better option."

"What about the Hippocratic oath?" He asked.

"That is a Human notion. While Vulcans will provide medical attention to those in need, we are not above leaving people to their fate, as it were."

"Fate? Isn't that another Human notion?"

"Indeed, but you people have a tendency to grow on others."

"As ship counselor, what do you think I should do?"

She took a moment to gather her thoughts before saying "You will do what you what you have to James. You will act as you must to ensure the safety of your crew."

There weren't many options that he liked, but there were even less acceptable alternatives. The crew of this ship had to be listening in, one way or another, the away team was being carefully monitored, so he had to be very careful about what was going to happen. He put E'Saul's hand in his, and a moment later, she prepped a hypospray, placed her hand on Fizi's shoulder, and injected the wretch in the wall.

James sighed heavily, "Fizi... Tell him it's time. And the answer is yes."

"Yes Captain?" she whispered, struggling in its mind.

"He'll understand..."

Shortly after, right on queue, in came T'Pal, looking more distraught than before. Keating must have coerced her into trying to get an idea of what just happened, and as much as he hated to do it, he might have to use the poor woman. He began telling her of the findings and a "plan to escape", telling her that they could escape through the rift again, the assimilated crew couldn't follow us due to sabotage. Knowing what happened, the Geist could modulate shields to keep from being pulled in again. Donovan then made a genuine offer to take her with them when they left.

She broke out into tears, and it was the first time that Fizi turned away from the unfortunate scarred mass fused to the wall. Just the look on her face was showed just how much she wanted to go with us, but she had been conditioned too well. All she could to was back up to the intercom on the wall and call to Keating. As she did so, Captain Donovan couldn't help but jump forward and grab her, ordering an emergency beam out. Once they were safely aboard the Geist, shields were raised and the ship went into evasive maneuvers, giving the Captain very little time to explain his plan. As the ship dodged fire from the assimilated recluse, Edison and Sabin did the numbers and Chief Fine confirmed it. If they were going to attempt this, the would literally only have the one slim chance to do so.

They would have to overload the all three warp cores, rerouting power through the forward deflector dish to reopen the rift they had been pulled through. Power was forced through all systems except shields and life support to pull this off. When the ship started slowing down the recluse began laying in everything it had into dropping the shields, but before they could weaken them enough to start beaming out crew members to harvest, the Geist fired a heavy blast opening the rift before heading in at full speed. To Captain Keating's surprise, his ship began to follow them into the rift. He barked orders, but nothing worked. The ship, driven by the impossible will of a broken corpse in a wall, moved forward into the rift.

As the crossed between universes, the U.S.S. Geist began falling apart. Sparks shooting as relays blew ship wide, fires on several decks, and the deflector physically shattered from the strain. As they entered the midpoint of the anomaly, each of the warp cores began to breach simultaneously. As they were ejected, he ordered the full payload of tricobalt devices be launched with them. They needed to cause an explosion powerful enough to collapse the rift at both ends, and with how fast power was draining from their ship, it would take everything their ship had to do it. If his people had timed it right, they would catch that ship of the damned, in the middle of it. If the explosion didn't kill them, then hopefully they would be stuck between dimensions, stranded without power.

Everything went as well as it could, and the ship put every last bit of auxiliary power to the aft shields, only to be blasted out of a rift in their own reality. The ship was adrift and completely without power, and much to their luck, on the winning side of a battle outside of a Reman controlled station in the Haakona system, between the Federation and the Tholians. As the dust settled, they were towed by a Galaxy class back to the nearest star base. As far as anyone could tell, theirs was the only ship to leave the rift, and none of the salvaged Tholian ships showed any signs of Borg influence.

Was it finally over?

Last edited by wraithshadow13; 12-13-2013 at 04:16 PM.
Commander
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 419
# 17 Directive Past
12-14-2013, 02:14 PM
___



"You want to know about the Borg."



It was a simple statement, but the undertones of the speaker hinted at old pain and memories as well as recent experience. This was to be expected, given who it was Subcommander Rycho had arranged to meet with, but he still found himself in the unusual position of being unsure how to proceed. It had not been easy to coordinate this, and he didn't want to jeapordize the opportunity he needed by sinking the encounter with an ill-considered word before it had even begun.

So, he took a breath before looking at the man sitting on the other side of the desk from him. In as sincere a voice as he could muster, he said "I do. The Nor'Vesa is going to search for the ones that escaped into this Sphere, and I need any insight I can get about the Borg. I can think of only a few officers in Starfleet or the Flotilla with more experience than you supposedly have, and none of them are...accessible to me. If I do not avail myself of your expertise, I would be setting my crew to fail. And you should know how Rihannsu view failure."

The other man nodded gravely, his hands folded before him as he stared at Rycho. In the dim light of the Ready Room, the uniform Rycho recognized as that of an early-generation Terran imperial Admiral seemed at odds with the Starfleet badge above the left pocket, a contrast of completely different philosophies that gave mute testimony to the heritage of the ship around them. The stern face that met his own gaze suited that merging of opposites, giving no visible sign of the other's thoughts as Rycho waited for the other to decide what he would do.

Then the man leaned forwards slightly. "You realize the Borg you seek are not the same? That the ones we know the most about are not even the Borg of this universe? They are the Borg that might have been, the Borg of my 'mirror' universe, and there's no way to know how much they share with the ones you hunt."

"I understand that." Rycho said "But any information could be the key needed to both find and...nuetralize their threat. The danger of the Borg obtaining the technology and perhaps even gaining full control of the Sphere is simply too great to ignore any source of information that may help."

"And if that information causes you to question your own understanding of the world around you? To make you question your own assumptions about the nature of things?" the other man's eyes tightened "What if knowing caused you to hesitate, seeing what you think is there but is only the dark reflection of what could be? Could you live with the results of that inaction, all because of what I might tell you now?"

Rycho felt his jaw set involuntarily as he briefly considered what the man had implied. But he kept his eyes locked with the other's when he finally said "I am willing to take that risk, Admiral Verne."




The Admiral paused a moment before giving a sigh and sitting back in his chair. He looked down at his desk a moment before speaking.

"The first thing you should know is that the Borg are Human."

This was far from what Rycho had expected to hear, and it took him a moment to realise what Verne was saying. "Not humanoid. You mean..."

"Yes. Human. Terran Human." Verne turned his chair slowly to one side, looking off into some private corner of his memory. "As are just about all humanoid races you might know about, to a greater or smaller extent. To understand this, you will have to understand the history."

The Admiral looked a question at Rycho and, when the Subcommander only shook his head, he stood and walked to the viewport that provided a perspective of the Sphere terrain around and below the cruiser. Staring at things only he could see, Verne's voice grew heavy with time.




"Back before history as we know it, maybe a few million years ago, the Preservers encountered an alien race that was entering our galaxy from outside. This other race was silicon-based, and resembled the Horta more than anything else you'll be familiar with. At this time, the Preservers were supreme scientists, almost unhindered by morals such as we might recognize and driven by a Decree to explore, understand, and preserve lifeforms where encountered. Not because they cared about the fate of that life, you must understand, but because scientific investigation required the existence of test subjects and original samples to use as baselines.

"The new race had other ideas. They saw carbon-based life as an aboration of the natural order of things, and had a simple philosophy that translates roughly as 'the ends justify the means', or maybe 'whatever is the most efficient is best for survival, and is therefore good'. This other race had spent millenia travelling across the void between galaxies, and had adapted to that environment. They needed completely different conditions on a planet from what our species would consider survivable, and saw no reason to worry about the existing life when changing worlds to suit themselves."

Rycho noticed the Admiral's hands clenching and unclenching, and decided not to interrupt what was obviously a subject sensitive to him. If Verne noticed, he gave no sign as he continued "It was unavoidable that war would be the result of their contact. The Preservers saw the erasure of all they had built with the coming of these others, and would not stand for it. The other race, who we only knew as the Nightborn, saw the Preservers as hinderences to their continued survival.

"However, neither side was very adept at fighting. The Nightborn had the advantages of natural weaponry, but fought more like animals at hunt than combatants, and the natural form of the Preservers included enhanced senses and a larger brain cavity that made them very vunerable to violent action. Initial battles proved the Preservers' technology superior in space, while the Nightborn held the advantage once they landed on a planet. To counter the other's strengths, both sides began to search for and eventually found other races to ally with. The Preserver Confederation consisted of seven different races, one of which eventually became the Tholians. The Nightborn Empire managed to bring four other races under their command, of which I believe the race that would someday become the Iconians were one.

"With the gathering of races, the war progressed to a stalemate, each side unable to gain a decisive edge over the other or make inroads to the parts of the galaxy held by the other. Battles were mostly small-scale affairs, with both sides unwilling to risk losses to their limited strength and wary of exposing themselves in any part of their territory. It stayed like this for several centuries, until the Nightborn developed a method for seizing control of Preserver technology and using it against them. Devices meant to nuture and monitor life on a world instead were used to break that life down to components the Nightborn could use. Ships that could repel the invaders' assaults instead became the tools to open the way for them."

The Admiral paused to take a breath, his head lowering slightly. "That's when the Preservers started looking in different times as well as places for new troops. They'd already mapped out much of the galaxy, and knew there were no others to help them than they already had. Their own efforts to halt the advances of the Nightborn continued to fail, mostly because the other races in the Confederation were not that much better at fighting than the Preservers themselves. Technologically advanced, yes, but without the....hmm...'knack' for combat they needed to use that technology in a combat situation effectively. Probably understandable when you consider they all had evolved from what we would call herd animals and not predators. So, the Confederation began to look into other time periods farther and farther from their own to discover another race that could do what they could not, and rebalance the war.

"They found that on Earth."




Turning back to face Rycho, Verne clasped his arms behind him in a classic at-ease stance and regarded the Subcommander levely "In Humans, they found a race that was incredibly adaptive to a wide range of conditions, intelligent, and possessed of thousands of years of experience in agressive, highly destructive fighting. They were primitive, but that could be changed. So, they took some of these barbaric warriors and threw them into the fight. While the results were disasterous, the level of damage inflicted on the Nightborn convinced the Preservers that Humans were what they needed to stop the enemy. All they needed was to adapt the Humans to their needs, and give them time to advance to the point where they could use advanced weaponry without destroying themselves.

"To this end, they continuously took Humans from Earth, modified them with Preserver biogenetic science for traits that might enhance their fighting abilities in some way, then deposited them on other worlds and times to one day produce warriors suited to winning the war. In this way, just about every single Humanoid race you know of came to be, and the Preservers eventually decided to even modify their own form to a humanoid one to obtain the more notable benefits they had developed in these other races.

"Despite this, the war still ground on. The introduction of the Klingons, Vulcans, and other custom-made humanoid combatants turned the tide, but did not reverse it. Probably had something to do with the use of melee weaponry to fight, but I'm not going to go into that. Bottom line was that the war stalemated again. Until the Preservers went further into the future and discovered the twentieth century on Earth.




The Admiral walked back to his seat and held it by one hand. "Only a few of us were taken at first, then a few more when the Preservers saw what a people used to large-scale wars and with at least a passing idea of the tactics involved in modern warfare could do. It was all covert, of course, but there was no such thing as the Prime Directive to the Confederation. They simply didn't want to spoil possible future stocks to draw on by contaminating the sample pool. Almost overnight, humans from my time changed the way the war was fought, turned what had been a long, even fight into a string of defeats for the Nightborn, and the Confederation began to advance for the first time in its history. As you can imagine, the Nightborn soon realized the cause of this turn of events, and decided to do something about it. Namely, they decided to obtain humans of their own."

Slowly sitting back down in his chair, Verne took a moment to see if the Subcommander had understood what had been said so far. Rycho nodded to show that he had, and the Admiral frowned. "The Nightborn switched their tactics. Instead of trying to kill us, they went out of their way to capture any humanoid they could. They experimented on those they did take, almost always resulting in failures. The people they took were all dedicated to resisting them, and full erasure of the personality also destroyed the very things the Nightborn needed.

"Then they...captured...several humans from Terra only recently brought into the fight, and came up with a means of bonding cybernetic implants to the brain, both rendering them loyal warriors to the Nightborn and enhancing their fighting potential. What the Preservers attempted through genetic modification, transplanting, and centuries of time, the Nightborn did with machines, abduction, and months."




Verne dropped his gaze in an unusual display of discomfort, and Rycho realized some of this narrative was a personal matter. The realization that the Admiral was all but admitting to being several million years old shot through him before he could control his reaction, and the other man must have noticed in some way. The Admiral looked up and shook his head. "Remember, time travel. Things change when you can bounce from one time period to another."

"But....temporal physics always indicate altering the past...." Rycho could only begin to comprehend the ramifications the Admiral's words inferred "Would not the Preservers be working against themselves by putting races into place that hadn't existed before? Or would not have existed. Or..."

"They probably didn't very much care." Verne shook his head as he started to say under his breath "They didn't when they..."



Stopping abruptly, the Admiral straightened in his chair and tugged his uniform into place, behavior Rycho had noted was widespead in Starfleet when a senior officer wanted time to consider something. When he spoke, his voice was steady again "But, we were talking about the Borg. As you can guess, this was their beginning. Through circumstances I won't go into here, the Nightborn quickly went from converting captured humanoids to additionally producing their own. All were implanted with cybernetics to make them serve their purpose without question and to be more than a match for any two ordinary Confederation warriors. They balanced the sides again, and the war took on a scale unlike any since. In a very real sense, it went from the Confederation merely trying to hold the Nightborn back to an all-out war for survival and elimination of the other side.

"Then came the day the Confederation managed to destroy the Nightborn command center. The war seemed to be over, and the remaining Nightborn scattered back into the void outside the galaxy. All too happy for the outcome, the Confederation dissolved almost as quickly, and many of the humanoid warriors were sent back to their own times rather than have them underfoot in a galaxy that no longer needed them.




The Admiral gave another sigh of exhasperation "But it was not over. Not by a long shot.

"The Borg had managed to use the tactical battle communications network installed in them to bypass some of their restrictions. They had formed the first Collective without the Nightborn being aware their former tools were thinking for themselves. The Collective looked at the work done on themselves, noted with no small amount of resentment the many things that could be improved, and waited while they considered how to proceed.

"When the Nightborn were defeated, the Borg rose up en-mass. Everywhere. Simutanously. They swept their former leaders into their own state of being, and only fragments of the former Nightborn escaped the new Borg race that they had made a reality. The Borg proceeded to then strike at the former Confederation, seeking to obtain the technology of both sides of the former war to further perfect their own design.

"It took a supreme effort and the construction of hideous weapons by the Preservers to push the Borg out of the galaxy once more, and several of the races that had made up the Conferation did not survive to see the last efforts that put the Great Barriers in place. Of course, we know now that the Barriers didn't completely stop a few Borg from eventually discovering a temporary way in over in the Delta quadrant, or maybe some simply managed to escape there during the final battles. Regardless, it took centuries for those to rise back into a galactic presence. In addition, the robot weapons the Preservers unleashed to erase every Borg-converted planet and ship were left outside to fight on beyond the rim of the galaxy and complete the elimination of the Borg, while their builders picked up the scattered wreckage that remained of their work safe behind the Barriers."




The Admiral finished and sat looking at Rycho. The Subcommander was very quickly trying to process the long history he had just been told, and fit it into what he had seen of Starfleet's own knowledge of the Borg. Facts seem to change as soon as he thought of them, and he eventually had to simply accept that some things had to be different in the events in his own universe. There were frightening parallels, yes, but as the Admiral had warned him, no way to know how much of what had been true in that other universe was so here.

But that also made Rycho realize one thing he found wrong with what he had heard. Looking carefully at the Admiral, he said "How do you know all of this? I know you have fought the Borg ever since arriving here. That's why the Omega Task Force exists. But...how do you know about the Borg from so long ago in your universe?"

Verne smiled grimly before tapping a command on his table's display "Science Officer to the Admiral's Ready Room."

Not waiting for a reply, the Admiral let his finger leave the intercom control and stood. Walking around the table, he stopped next to the Subcommander "Yes, I was there for some of this. A few of my crew were. But that is not why we know so much about what happened afterwards."




The door to the compartment slid aside without warning, and Rycho went rigid with alarm when he saw the Borg drone walk into the room, its cybernetic implants emitting audible buzzing sounds as they focused on the Subcommander. Standing quickly, he grasped for his handweapon only to find the Admiral's firm grip on a nerve cluster at his wrist, pinning his hand and weapon in their place.

The drone watched the two men struggling without reaction before looking at Subcommander Rycho and stating in a slightly electronic voice "Hello Captain. We are the Borg." then turned slightly to the Admiral "Science Officer reporting as ordered, Sir."

Words that seemed out of place froze Rycho before he could rip free of Verne, and he stared at the Borg wordlessly before realizing the Admiral had released him and now held his plasma pistol carefully to one side.

"May I introduce you to Ten." Verne said as he walked to stand beside the immobile drone "My Chief Science Officer."

Rycho looked from one to the other as he tried to decide what the situation was. The idea the Admiral and his crew were allied with the Borg seemed absurd, given every record he had seen about their battles with the cybernetic race, but the ease with which he stood next to one made Rycho reconsider that possibility for a moment. If it were true, then could he reach his communicator fast enough to return to his own ship? And would the science vessel have any chance of escaping a Sovereign-class starship like the Conquest?

Then what the Admiral had said penetrated his battle-ready impulses. "Science Officer?"

"Yes." Verne nodded "His enhanced sensors and information processing abilities have saved the crew more than once, so I couldn't let you shoot him, could I?"

"But..."

"How did Ten come to be here, apart from the Collective?" the Admiral asked before Rycho could finish asking "Yes, that tends to be the question everyone wants to know."




Verne looked at Ten, who continued to stare emotionlessly at Rycho. "When the Borg assimilate an individual, the first stage is the injection of nano-machines to both make the victim open to suggestion and begin rewiring their nervous system to accept implants. The second stage is the installation of a direct subspace connection to the Collective, which overwhelms the mind with a constant barrage of thoughts, images, commands, and information. Under that kind of unceasing, merciless flood, it is only a matter of time before even the strongest of minds shuts down to protect itself.

"The third stage is the implanting of an artificial intelligence that is programmed to both take over the converted nervous system of the victim and also copy information from the brain into itself. The AI also works over time to subvert the mind within, gradually filtering the flow of information in return for the mind's acceptance of the Borg Collective. Eventually, the AI and what's left of the mind become indistinquishable, and the victim has truely become one with the Borg."

The Admiral nodded towards Ten. "In Ten's case, that AI was damaged or maybe just a mutation of some kind. It didn't try to convert him to the Collective, but rather protected him from the overload of information. It cared about him. And in time, it allowed them both to escape, along with three others with similar 'defectives'. We were the ship that found them, and I quickly realized Ten was as much caught between two worlds as we were."

Admiral Verne looked back at Rycho with a small smile "In fact, Ten is the name all four of them use. They were in the Collective a long time, and have forgotten almost any other way to be. Ten is the de-facto spokesman for them when they need to talk."




Then his smile faded. "The reason we know much of what I told you is because the Borg of this universe knew it. They had been in communication with those other Borg for some time. Ten brought that information and the history with them, and told us when he realized we were from the same universe. The one bright spot is that this universe's Borg didn't believe the information was relevant, and so had archived it without serious consideration. If they hadn't, they might have recognized some very dangerous things before it was too late."

Subcommander Rycho grimaced as he thought about that, noting the past-tense usage of terms. He knew many of the missions the Admiral's task force had performed were under security seals and inaccessible by the Republic, but it seemed one of those had ended whatever danger the Admiral was hinting at.

Rycho concluded it would be a waste of time to ask for the details, however, and so he concentrated on what he had come for. "You've explained about the Borg's history. How does that help me?"

The Admiral moved back to his desk and sat once again. Steepling his fingers in front of him, he said "The Borg of my universe had one emotion that they displayed whenever a Terran Imperial ship encountered them; an overwhelming desire to assimilate Earth above all other worlds in the galaxy. They saw those there as having abandoned them to their fate, and also had one of the most basic needs in the universe. The need to return home.

"The Borg you are going after were all Romulan citizens, weren't they? I imagine these Borg have very similar impulses and drives, having never been exposed to the Collective. A need to return home. A desire to revenge themselves on those they see as having been the cause of their assimilation. Now, how could you use that, Subcommander?"

Rycho straightened and felt a thrill of both anticipation and fear run through him. As if a door into another universe was opening, he saw what he intended to do, and what it meant he had to risk. The possibility for success intertwined with the cost of failure, and the vision of what it would mean to his ship chilled even his time-worn soul.



Looking at the Admiral, he gave a small bow. "Admiral Verne, I thank you on behalf of the Romulan Republic for your time and advice. You may have just given me the key to resolving....many situations. I am in your debt."

With only the slightest of nods, the Admiral stood. "Then I believe we both have work to do. Good hunting, Subcommander."


___
"I am your leader, I am in command. The fate of all my followers lies in my hands. The burden of what is right or wrong, decisions have to be made. I have to take you all into this burning Gate." - Iron Savior, 'Never Say Die'.

Last edited by danqueller; 12-16-2013 at 08:45 PM.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 146
# 18 Job Interview
12-15-2013, 07:44 PM
Two days after the events in LC51, Business Dinner

Bobby Boudraeux only got three hours of sleep, but nervous energy had kept him going all day. Now it was time to hail the U.S.S. Executor and seal the deal on his new position.

He introduced himself to the Executor's comm officer and waited to speak to the captain. A moment later, the screen showed a Vulcan woman and an Andorian male (or whatever passed as male). The Andorian was introduced as the ship's counselor. The captain exchanged brief formalities, and then the questions began.

"Since you grew up on Europa Station, I'd like your opinion on the Europa terraforming operations," the Andorian said.

"Can you clarify the question, sir?" Not the best way to start off...

"Humans terraformed the moon and introduced genetically engineered aquatic life as a food source. A few years later when the food yields were low, they eradicated all life and started over. Was that an ethical decision?"

Bobby paused for a moment. "I would have to say so, sir," he replied. "The second generation of species thrived and provided a key food source to the Jovian exploratory posts."

"Very well," the Andorian said. "Would you like to know why I asked that question?"

"Yes sir, if you don't mind."

"A lot of the decisions we make are in ethically ambiguous settings. When we aren't fighting for our own survival, Starfleet does a lot of aid work, and relocating colonies off of war-torn planets is one of those tasks. What do you do when the colonists are about to kill off the native species that are almost sentient? In general, do any of us have a right to reshape the quadrant or the galaxy in our own image? These are the kinds of questions that you have to deal with as the first officer."

"Please tell me about your encounter with the Mirror Universe Borg," the captain asked.

"Well ma'am, I mean sir, I sent you the mission report per your request. We used some advanced technology to enter the Mirror Universe near a Federation colony in the Gamma Quadrant. We expected to do simple reconnaissance, but instead ran into a hive ship. Honestly it looked like it was about two hundred years behind the times. They demanded our surrender, we laughed, and then we destroyed them."

The Andorian leaned towards the screen. "What exactly was funny about that?"

"Sir, they assumed that they could assimilate anyone, but they didn't have a chance. If they took a minute to evaluate the situation, they would have realized that they were going to be destroyed."

"Maybe they knew that and acted according to standing orders," the counselor replied. "Regardless, why are they flying around the Gamma Quadrant in antique starships? Were they created thousands of years later than they were in our galaxy, or were they nearly driven to extinction by an even more formidable enemy? It's only a matter of time until the technology to jump between universes falls into enemy or commercial hands, and then we will wish that you hadn't been so trigger happy."

"Let's move on," the Vulcan captain said. "What have you done since then? Anything of interest?"

"Nothing of interest, sir," Bobby replied. "It wasn't all that long ago."

"So no diplomatic crisis on Berengaria VII?"

Damn.


"Any interactions with pirates trying to loot aid ships en route to the Romulans?"

The silence was unbearable for Bobby.

"We requested your previous ten mission reports when we talked to Captain Gohen. She had a fair amount of positive things to say about you. Unfortunately she didn't say anything about lying to command officers."

Bobby could have sworn that she was about to yell.

The Andorian counselor weighed in. "T'Panna wants a capable first officer that she can trust, and clearly that is not you. Instead of providing your most recent mission report as requested, you gave her one from three weeks ago and assumed that she wouldn't learn about subsequent action in the Berengaria system and elsewhere. Did you really think she wouldn't know?"

"Well, sir, I assumed that..."

"No excuses. Here is what we are going to do. T'Panna and I will contact your captain in six hours to let her know that you lied. If you have a shred of respectability in you, I advise you to own up to your actions and tell your captain before we do."

With that, the screen went blank.

---

"Thank you for letting us have the interview," ch'Raul said.

T'Panna stood and gave the counselor a confused look. "I still don't understand why you wanted to waste our time talking with him."

"This was mostly about him. Humans have a tendency to downplay their mistakes, even when they are pointed out. Mister Boudraeux will probably lose his commission, but more importantly, there should be one less self-absorbed human wreaking havoc in the galaxy."

"And what did you get out of it? I doubt that you did this as a gift to the entire galaxy."

"I really wanted to hear his answer about the Europa terraforming. One of his distant relatives was on the commission that decided to wipe the moon clean. It was only a moon full of fish, but still, the arrogance of it all bothers me. He basically said that the ends justify the means. That would make him a great dictator."

T'Panna paused at the door. "Are we having dinner tonight? Eighteen hundred hours in my quarters?"

"Eighteen hundred hours in cafeteria three," ch'Raul countered. "It hasn't been long since Carter's death, and I really think you need to re-consider your feelings."

"Don't start talking about me 'ignoring my Vulcan upbringing.' I know what I want, and it's not just the human blood in me." She closed the distance between them and stood slightly closer than proper decorum would allow.

"I want to wait one month before we talk about this again," ch'Raul answered in a calm voice. "No more dinners in anyone's quarters until then. Do we have a deal?"

"We do. I'll invite Isabella and Emily to join us then."

"Excellent."
Ensign
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 1
# 19
12-16-2013, 01:36 AM
Free write ? What is wrong if our health care system and how can we fix it. It?s really simple, love and compassion which I have plenty and I don?t know why how it came this point in the first place. If we truly want to help patients living with mental illness, we must first allow our compassion to stir from the heart, and form a collective identity and work as one voice, an d one society. I believe cases of Mr. Sinclair can be prevented, if we put an extra once of caring into it.
Why am I saying this? Am I now just a Prairie boy who promotes meaningful resources about illness and issues to high school and university students. While the onset of more serious s and Schizophrenia love to invest itself to a manifestation of pain and grief, there are now resources to help people with mental health issues ? just like an ER.
I went through the building and it was spectacular. The architecture was great; the design is open and transparent. And I felt a lot calmer even before seeing a nurse. It felt great to be there, I saw my previous worker greeting me, as and long has, I have my breath, I want to advocate find help the people they must, the homeless, the sick and the vulnerable. I want to scream on top of Mount Royal to explain have a wonder facility, one of the first me kind.
For those naysayers, you should drop by the New Mental Health ER, and how it is worming efficiently and beyond my wildest expectations. I came into the office, with high anxiety, I was completely better when I left the building. The media like to hype up sensational news, but the sign of anything goes wrong, they change their tone to a deaf year. Actually, now that I have told you where to go, please don?t let the stigma to prevent you from obtaining help you need. Because sometimes is a matter of survival, life and earth hanging the balance. If the centre has prevented one death (died by suicide) because it serves as the people fi Winnipeg and beyond, then I believe the centre has done its job, and a job well done. You don?t have to believe me after all I am just one voice, one person, one viewpoint. But as I know the stronger and brighter we are, the more resilience we get.
I am so grateful for the nurse and admin staff for their caring and support in this regard. They were courteous, and compassionate, and they help you to guide yourself through the process think the e CRC (Crisis Response centre) will become one of the primary resource one can use, should they ever need it, like a crisis.
I had a wonderful experience, I don?t care that say, but I know his place has been blessed, and it would open the doors to anyone suffering from a mental health issues. So, please, don?t be shy, and embrace another resources (a cutting edge) none the less, that can heal our community and provide better care for the e vulnerable people in our society.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 237
# 20
12-16-2013, 10:57 PM
The turbolift was filled with a steady hum as it sped upwards through the starship Atlanta, on its way to the bridge. Inside, Captain Zane Gilmore was looking over a PADD with a vaguely melancholy expression on his face, while beside him Lieutenant Lisa Hill was standing with her arms crossed. Gilmore had received some troubling new orders, orders which explained why they had been sent back to Earth on a simple cargo run.

"I don't like it, sir," Hill muttered.

"I know. I don't either."

"It's only been three weeks since we found her aboard that probe!" Hill exploded. "God, she still looks and sounds like a Borg drone. If that poor woman has any chance to recover, she's not going to get it with Starfleet Intelligence." Running out of steam and looking suddenly weary, Hill let her arms drop and sighed. "What does Starfleet even want with Nine, anyway?"

Gilmore glanced down at the PADD he was holding. "Apparently, they're interested in examining the methods used by the Borg in her assimilation. They want to know how things have changed since we last encountered the Borg. Since Lieutenant Watson was at Vega, they think she can provide valuable information in that regard."

There was a sour twist to Hill's lips as she took all that in. "Have you told her?" She asked as the turbolift doors opened.

"Not yet," Gilmore murmured as they stepped out and Hill walked over to the tactical station.

The Captain stopped as he noticed that Nine of Ten, the liberated Borg drone they had been discussing, was working silently at the rear engineering station. Visually, she looked no different than the Borg drone they had found three weeks ago. Her skin was a sickly grey and her right eye had been replaced by a crude looking prosthetic. She had even continued working in her exoplating, stating that it was more efficient than any alternative. As he watched her Gilmore could not help but feel troubled by the prospect of informing the liberated Borg that she may have to fight for what little life she had left.

Deciding that informing Nine of Ten of the situation could wait until later, Gilmore walked down the two steps to the lower part of the bridge and took up a position standing between the Conn and Ops consoles, noticing that the stars on the viewscreen were still instead of moving like they should have been if the ship were at warp.

"We've changed course?" He asked, turning to the ship's first officer, Lieutenant Commander Jack Storen.

Storen gave a single nod towards the viewscreen, where a barely visible distortion was visible against the expanse of black.

"The ship's sensors picked up something we couldn't properly identify at warp, so I thought we should take a look."

"I see. Any idea what we're looking at?"

"Yes sir." Storen smiled. "It's an interphasic rift."

"That certainly is unusual."

"There's more; there's wreckage at the centre of the rift," a musical, feminine voice spoke up from the back of the bridge.

Gilmore turned to look back to the science station at the aft of the bridge, where Lieutenant Laiale Karn was sitting.

"Are you saying there's something in there?" He asked.

The Risian shook her head. "There's not much left, sir. Based on the residual particles I'm detecting, I think the debris is from a ship that suffered a warp core breach, which is probably what formed the rift in the first place."

"I suppose there's no point attempting a salvage mission now. Let's make a note of our position, and another ship can check the area once the rift dissipates."

"Captain, the rift is expanding!"

Gilmore's head snapped around to the viewscreen; sure enough, the distortion was growing closer.

"Ensign, take us out, now. Full impulse."

"Aye, sir."

The Miranda Class Starship's impulse engines glowed a little brighter as it prepared to move out, but the rift was growing too rapidly. The small ship was swiftly engulfed by the strange distortion and lost to the outside space, before just as quickly as it had grown, the rift subsided, and the Atlanta was alone.

"Status report," Gilmore demanded.

There was silence, save for the gentle beeping of the LCARS interface and the ever present pulse of the viewscreen.

"The rift is gone, sir," Laiale Karn said once she had checked the readings twice. "So is the wreckage. There's nothing out there."

Storen turned to face the Captain, pausing and glancing away before he spoke. "That rift was interphasic, and we passed through it, which means..."

"That we're no longer in our universe," Gilmore finished.

There was a loud thud from the back of the bridge, causing the crew to start. Gilmore and Storen turned to see Nine of Ten lying prone on the floor, Lisa Hill crouched over her. The tactical officer was the first to react, tapping her combadge once.

"Hill to sickbay. Medical emergency, Doctor Hunt, report to the bridge!"

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

Doctor Rachel Hunt's icy blue eyes narrowed as she examined the readings on her medical tricorder. The wrinkles on her forehead deepened and her thin lips turned downwards in a stymied frown. Lying on the central biobed in sickbay in front of her was the unconscious form of Nine of Ten, and Hunt's preliminary analysis had not shown good results. The Liberated Borg had been transported directly to sickbay after her collapse, and now Hunt was trying to figure out what had happened while off to the side Captain Gilmore stood silently, watching the Doctor most intently.

"Nurse Daell, get me-"

Hunt stopped speaking as she noticed the Nurse had already prepared the hypospray she wanted and was holding it in an outstretched palm. The young Betazoid smiled knowingly as Hunt took the hypospray before she went to tend to another patient, leaving the Doctor to shudder a little. Working with a telepathic nurse was proving to be more disorienting than Hunt had expected, and she was beginning to wonder if she could ever get used to it. As she had that thought, it occurred to the Doctor that Nurse Daell could probably hear everything she was thinking. Beginning to feel a little irritated, she forced her thoughts back to the patient and pressed the hypospray into Nine of Ten's neck.

"This is not good," she commented to no one in particular.

"I take it that means you know what's wrong," Gilmore replied, stepping forward.

"What's wrong is simple. There is a Borg neural tranceiver still implanted in her brain, and the input is overloading Nine of Ten's ability to function. Hence, unconsciousness."

"I thought you removed the neural tranceiver."

"I did," Hunt replied sharply. "There was a backup, located just below the amygdala. Since it seemed harmless, Jalik and I decided not to remove it."

"You left an implant in that you could have removed?" Gilmore's tone was more curious than accusing, but Hunt drew a breath and bristled up regardless.

"The brain is complicated, Captain. The Borg implants have augmented the Lieutenant's brain functions, given her control over the artificial parts of her body and outright replaced certain areas of the brain. I would be very hesitant about removing anything without knowing exactly what it was responsible for. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a patient to tend to."

"You certainly do," Gilmore observed quietly. "Your patient is awake."

Hunt's frown deepened and she glanced over to the biobed. The Liberated Borg's good eye had opened and she was staring straight upwards. As the Doctor watched she began to twitch, slowly at first, then more rapidly and violently.

"Nurse, activate the restraining field," Hunt ordered.

A blue forcefield shimmered into existence over Nine's exoplating and then faded. The restraining field kept her from breaking free of the biobed, but the constant, barely visible ripples of energy and continued twitching made it clear the problem was only worsening.
After Doctor Hunt turned to examine the readouts on a large wall mounted console, Gilmore stepped forward, a deep worry in his eyes as he looked on the liberated Borg's features. Nine was gasping in short, shallow breaths and her eye was wide, as if something had terrified her - it was the first sign in four weeks that there was any feeling left after what the Borg had done to her, and it was not an encouraging one.

"Doctor?" Gilmore called out.

Hunt let out a breath in a puff of irritation. "Her neural activity has gone off the chart. Her brain is receiving more sensory input that it can handle; if it wasn't for the Borg implants augmenting her ability to process information, it would probably have killed her by now."

"What do you recommend?"

Hunt raised one eyebrow and stared coldly at him. "Recommend? Obviously, the neural tranceiver has to be removed. We're talking about very complicated and delicate surgery, and it's not something I can attempt until while they're still functioning."

Gilmore opened his mouth and was about to respond to that when Nine of Ten spoke.

"Voices," she breathed.

Both Gilmore and Hunt turned to look at Nine, but other than the fact she was speaking, her condition seemed unchanged.

"So many voices... shouting, wanting to be heard... but... anger, hate... we- we feel-"

She stopped speaking and gave a hideous, long moan. The Borg's face was twisted into a mask of agony and she shook as though in great pain, before without warning she relaxed and her expression went slack. Slowly her eye became focused and locked directly on Captain Gilmore.

"Run," she said simply.

Her eye closed and she became deathly still, leaving Gilmore feeling utterly bewildered. No one spoke, unwilling to break the chill silence that had descended over sickbay. Abruptly Gilmore's combadge chirped and the silence was over.

"Storen to Gilmore," the first officer's voice issued forth.

"Go ahead."

"We need you back on the bridge, sir. There's a contact on the long range sensors, approaching at high warp."

"I'm on my way. Gilmore out."

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

The atmosphere on the Atlanta's bridge was distinctly subdued when Gilmore stepped out of the turbolift. He turned left and walked down to the front of the bridge, where Storen was looking over the Ops officer's shoulder.

"What's the situation?" The Captain asked.

Storen jumped a little, then straightened and recovered his composure. "We identified the approaching ship as cubical in configuration. It's the Borg."

Gilmore had a flash of the terror on Nine of Ten's face and began to feel a little uneasy. He swallowed and blinked a few times, trying to put the image out of his mind.

"How long do we have until they reach us?"

"They'll be in visual range in two minutes."

Gilmore nodded grimly. "Then we need to get out of here."

"I couldn't agree more."

"Have you made any progress on how to get back to our own universe?"

"I'll let Lieutenant Karn answer that, sir."

The Risian stepped forward until she was standing almost in the centre of the bridge. "I conducted an in depth analysis of this area of space, and I found significant subspace instabilities. That's what allowed the rift we passed through to form. The warp core breach must have given off enough energy to create an interphasic rift."

"If we were to do something similar, would it be possible to reopen the rift?"

"Technically we would be creating a new rift," Karn admitted, "but it should allow us to return to our universe."

Gilmore smiled ruefully. "We just need to eject our warp core."

"That won't be necessary, sir," Storen added, nodding towards Lieutenant Hill.

"If we fire a spread of maximum yield torpedoes directly into the instability, the detonation should release enough energy to create another rift," the tactical officer explained. "We just need a bit longer to prepare them."

The Captain turned back to face the viewscreen, where against the expanse of stars a gray cube had just become visible, growing steadily larger. As he saw it Gilmore's smile faded and a despairing light came into his hazel eyes. Finally he forced a look of calm and took the Captain's chair, gripping the arms tightly.

"Time may be a luxury we don't have," he observed distantly, pausing as the Borg cube came to a stop. "Ready phasers."

"Phasers ready, sir." Hill's brow creased as she saw something she did not expect. "Captain... we're being hailed."

"On screen."

A large, cavernous space inside the Borg ship appeared on the viewscreen, along with dozens of drones. As soon as the connection was established the drones all began to shout unintelligible noises, their pale faces twisted into expressions of anger and contempt. Some began to shove their way forward in front of the others, snarling and making threatening gestures. There was a flash of green as one fired its weapon, almost as though it thought it could reach the Atlanta's bridge. It was impossible to understand what they were shouting about; the drones were a collection of burning pain and visceral hatred, a terrifying force that left the bridge crew unable to do anything but stare at the sight.

As if in a daze Gilmore turned to Hill and gestured for her to cut off the communication.

"What... what was that?" Storen asked, still staring at the viewscreen even though the link was gone.

"The Borg." Gilmore swallowed. "They must be different here."

"Different is putting it mildly," Storen muttered, finally tearing himself away from the viewscreen. "That was complete chaos."

"We need to leave, now," the Captain decided. "Are the torpedoes ready?"

"Yes, sir. Standing by to fire-" Hill broke off as the ship rocked madly. "They've locked onto us with a tractor beam!"

Green blasts shot out from the uneven surface of the Cube, converging on the starship locked in its grasp.

"Shields are at 91 percent," Hill advised the bridge. "We're not going to be able to hold out long."

"Target the emitter of that tractor beam and fire all phasers," Gilmore ordered.

Phaser beams lanced out from the Atlanta and converged on a single point. There was no effect, and the phasers fired again. This time there was a small explosion and debris erupted from the Borg cube, and the tractor beam promptly vanished.

"Ensign, bring us about and take us away from that cube, fast! Lisa, standby to fire torpedoes."

The viewscreen became a blur as the ship banked hard and came about. Once the Atlanta was facing directly away from the cube it steadied and sped up, taking fire from the Borg all the while, although as many of the blasts missed as found their mark. A series of photon torpedoes sped out from the Atlanta's rollbar and quickly overtook the ship, moving in a straight path directly ahead of it. When they were a safe distance away from the Miranda class ship they detonated, engulfing the space ahead in a cascade of fiery orange. The Atlanta stayed directly on course as the explosion began to fade, blasting straight into the small rift that had been left behind. For a moment the ship was lost; then it emerged from the rip in the fabric of space and was still. The space around it was empty - there was no rift, and no Borg cube.

"Are we back?" Storen asked hesitantly, watching the stars with distrust in his blue eyes.

"Just a moment, sir," Karn replied.

There was a terse quiet as the science officer conducted a quick scan. Finally, the Risian turned to face the rest of the crew and smiled.

"We're right where we should be."

"Permission to set us back on course, Captain?" Storen asked.

"Granted," Gilmore replied, getting to his feet and walking towards the turbolift. "You have the bridge, Commander." He paused and pivoted back around as he came to the aft turbolift, the doors sliding open behind him. "Oh, and Jack?"

"Yes sir?"

"If we encounter any anomalous readings en route, just ignore them."

"Yes, sir."
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