USS Nautilus, Acting Captain’s Log, Stardate 86948.0
It’s been three hours since we destroyed the Borg subspace transmitter on Vega IX–or should I say, Tanya, formerly Four of Five, our liberated drone, destroyed it for us. Frankly, I’m not sure whether to be shocked at the brashness of her actions or amazed at her heroic success. There can no longer be any question that she is our ally or that she can be trusted–to an extent. The only question is whether she or we have any idea what a fully equipped drone now acting on her own initiative is capable of. Shonos seems to be amused but I am not. One thing I am certain of is that I will need her help. Repairs of the shields and weapons are complete now and we will have to get back into the fight soon–and I have no desire to find out how Crewman Jefferson handles the helm in combat.
“We’re receiving a hail from the Renown,” said Mercy Thomas from Ops.
“Onscreen,” said Drel, stepping toward the center of the Bridge.
“Lieutenant Drel,” said Vo’Lok, appearing on the viewscreen. He glanced at Tanya, the former drone who stood to one side of the Bridge. “So this is the exceptional friend you told me about.”
Carlin nodded and affected to smile.
“Very good,” said Vo’Lok. “Unfortunately, pleasantries must be laid aside for the moment. My science team has finally been able to track down the source of the Borg jamming signals in this system. It seems the Borg have been using a variety of probes scattered throughout the system to confuse our communications and sensors, but now they are gathering the probes in the outer system. They may be up to something. I am contacting every capable Federation ship in communications range to go to the outer Vega System and engage the Borg there. At the least, we should be able to destroy their jamming capabilities. I’m transmitting the coordinates now.”
Drel nodded. Perhaps the Borg were regrouping, preparing to leave–or, knowing their regenerative abilities, perhaps they were simply regrouping in preparation for another attack. Whatever the case, they needed to get those jamming probes offline as quickly as possible. “We’ll warp there immediately, sir. Nautilus out.” She turned to the rest of the Bridge. “Stations everyone. Red Alert.” Mercy turned to the Ops station and Tlohhd to Tactical while Carlin took her place behind the Science station. Shonos stood to the side of the Bridge, cradling her phaser rifle and keeping one eye on the former Borg drone.
Drel turned to face Tanya as well. “Earlier today you said we needed a pilot and you could fly the ship, does that offer still stand?”
A smile tugged at Tanya’s mouth. “I remain a capable pilot.” She moved to the Conn. “You are relieved, Crewman.” Jefferson abandoned the post, and certainly did look relieved. Tanya stood behind the chair, then frowned when she tried to reach for the controls.
“It’s traditional to sit down,” Mercy offered.
“Tradition is irrelevant,” said Tanya. “However, in zis case practicality requires it.” She carefully stepped around the chair and awkwardly sat down. She shifted back and forth several times, as if experimenting with the new sensation of sitting.
“Plot a course for the outer Vega System, Warp 2,” Drel ordered, taking her position behind the science station.
“Course laid in,” Tanya reported. “Initiating now.” The starfield on the viewscreen blurred, but it was the only indication that they had gone to warp.
Drel was pleased. “Raise shields and charge weapons,” she ordered.
“Shields up,” said Mercy.
“Weapons charged, sir,” said Ensign Tlohhd, a grin spread across the Bolian’s face.
Carlin caught herself grinning too. Tactical officers really are crazy, and it’s contangeous, she mused.
A few minutes of travel brought them to the coordinates Vo’Lok had given them. They dropped out of warp and Carlin ran a quick scan. “The jamming is intense here, I can’t break through,” she said. “We’ll have to rely on the viewscreen and manual targeting.”
“Borg probes up ahead, sir,” said Mercy, pointing at the elongated black shapes on the viewscreen.
“Fire at will, Ensign!”
“With pleasure,” said Tlohhd. He pressed the controls and photon torpedoes streaked away, blasting the nearest probes to rubble. Tanya brought the ship about and Tlohhd struck out with phasers against the remaining probes.
“Jamming’s clearing up,” Carlin announced. “I’ve got more targets for you, Ensign. Six Borg probes, bearing 298 mark 46.”
“I see them.”
Suddenly the deck trembled. “They see us, too,” said Mercy. They’re firing weapons. Shields holding!”
The Nautilus came about and fired photon torpedoes and phasers. The shields of three of the Borg probes flared, the collapsed. The other three probes continued firing. Sparks flew from a consol behind Drel. “Shields at 87%!” Mercy reported.
“There’s another vessel arriving–no, two,” Carlin said. “The USS Mon Elari and the USS Ural.” The former was a smaller Centaur-class ship, the later a ShiKhar-class–a significant tactical overhaul of the Nautilus’ own design. The Borg probes stood no chance against the combined forces of all three ships and were destroyed quickly. Unfortunately, the jamming didn’t go away. It did go down to a single source, though, and that source was approaching rapidly. Drel swore. “It’s the Borg sphere! It’s en-route and its weapons are hot! Evasive maneuvers!”
“Initiating!” said Tanya. The deck pitched, but this time it was not bad piloting that was to blame. Tanya’s flying was quick–a little too quick for the inertial dampners–but not rough, and the Nautilus evaded several torpedoes and beams from the sphere before taking a grazing hit to her stern quarter.
“Shields at 75%!” Mercy reported.
The Borg aren’t pulling any punches, Drel thought. Just then, a tractor beam lanced out from the sphere and caught the USS Ural. The ship was unable to escape from the beam’s grasp. “It’s draining they’re shields!” Carlin said. “Tlohhd, target that tractor emitter!”
Before she could respond, two more beams lanced out at the Nautilus and the Mon Elari. The lights on the Bridge began to flicker as the Borg drained the Nautilus’s shields. Drel swore–one of the foul oaths Antori had picked up in his less-than-ideal childhood. “Mercy, see if you can reverse the shield polarity and break us free. Tanya, full reverse!”
“No effect, Lieutenant!” said Mercy.
Tanya frowned. “We will adapt,” she said and leaned over to inject the Con station with her tubuals. The shield harmonics rotated first one way, then another. Suddenly, the Borg tractor beam broke off. “We are free, Lieutenant,” Tanya reported, withdrawing her tubuals.
“We have got to teach you to use buttons,” Mercy muttered.
“I suggest we withdraw immediately, Lieutenant,” Tanya went on. “My adjustment of zis vessel’s shields was effective because zee sphere did not expect it. Zey will not be so easily dealt with next time.”
“We have to stay and defend the other ships,” Drel said. “Tlohhd!”
Just then, the sphere fired two graviton torpedoes into the Ural. Her shields had already failed, so the torpedoes ripped right through her hull. The vessel exploded. Drel swore again–a different oath this time: Antori had picked up plenty. “Concentrate all fire on the tractor holding the Mon Elari!”
“I’m trying, Drel, but phasers are having little impact!” said Tlohhd.
“Fire photon torpedoes!”
The Bolian tapped his consol. “Torpedoes away!” A pause. “Tractor beam is fluxuating.”
“Keep firing!” Carlin checked her sensors. The Mon Elari’s shields were almost down. She suddenly noticed that the sphere’s torpedo launchers were powering again. “Tanya, take us in between the sphere and the Mon Elari!”
“Zat will endanger zee safety of zis vessel and its crew,” Tanya pointed out. “Zee conditions of my asylum specifically stated–”
“To hell with the conditions of your asylum! If the Mon Elari goes, we’re next! Interpose our ship or so help me I’ll take the Conn myself!” Drel said, forgetting for the moment that she and all her hosts were worse pilots than Jefferson.
“Initiating maneuver,” said Tanya.
The Nautilus angled between the sphere and the captive starship just as the torpedoes were launched. Both slammed into her dorsal shields and one penetrated to hit the back of her flight-pod–blowing its aft sections to smithereens. On the Bridge, Drel was thrown forward against her consol. Behind her, the communications station exploded and caught fire. Sparks rained down all over the Bridge and the deck pitched violently, then went still. Drel pushed herself back into a standing position. “Report!” she shouted.
“Dorsal and aft shields are offline!” Mercy replied. “Hull breeches in the aft section of the flight pod. Emergency forcefields are holding.”
“I’ve lost the aft torpedo launcher, sir,” said Tlohhd. “The foreward launchers are looking iffy, too.”
“Zis ship vill not survive another attack like zat,” said Tanya.
“It won’t have to,” said Carlin, checking her sensors. “The Mon Elari is free! Let’s get out of here! Mercy, see if you can get aft shields back online, otherwise we’re sitting ducks.”
“No can do, Lieutenant,” said Mercy. “The relays are completely fried.”
Drel’s consol bleeped. “They’re firing at us again! Tanya, evasive maneuvers!”
But just then, another ship arrived, taking the torpedo against its shields as the Nautilus had done for the Mon Elari, then turning on the sphere. “It’s the Khitomer!” Carlin said, smiling as the Federation cruiser hit the sphere with a volley of phaser fire and quantum torpedoes. The sphere’s hull split and erupted in gouts of green fire. “Bring us about!” Drel ordered. “Tlohhd, let’s finish this. Everything you’ve got!”
“Yes, sir!” the Bolian shouted. He struck out against the sphere with phasers and a volley of torpedoes before reporting, “Foreward torpedo launchers won’t reload, sir. Continuing with phasers.” Meanwhile, the Mon Elari turned around and fired its own phasers and torpedoes into the sphere. Khitomer hammered at it relentlessly all the while. In a matter of seconds, the sphere began to break apart, then was completely destroyed in a giant fireball. Everyone on the Bridge gave a cheer.
Carlin followed it with a sigh of relief. “The interference is gone. We can see the Borg cube now. It’s heavily damaged, about 3 million kilometers from here, attempting to escape at low warp.”
“If it escapes, it vill regenerate and return,” warned Tanya. “Ve must pursue.”
“Khitomer’s already organizing a pursuit.” As Drel spoke, the Khitomer and the Mon Elari both went to warp, after the cube. According to her sensors, nearly half of the fifty-odd starships scattered across the Vega system did the same. Damaged as it was, the cube didn’t stand much chance against that many ships. It’s best hope would be to hold them off long enough to go to transwarp. “With torpedo launchers offline we won’t be joining them. Phasers are useless at warp velocities. We won’t have anything to offer in a running fight.”
“Neverzeeless, vhen zey…run down zee cube…,” said Tanya, suddenly clutching her side. “Zey vill…zey vill…”
Carlin pulled out her medical tricorder. “Tanya, what’s wrong?” she asked, approaching cautiously.
“I am…malfunctioning,” said the former drone, then collapsed from her chair.
Drel was standing over her in an instant, scanning. “Her human immune system is reasserting itself. Her body is rejecting her implants and she’s gone into shock.” She muttered a curse. “Bridge to Sickbay! Medical Emergency!”
“What is it now?” whined the EMH’s voice.
“We need to remove Tanya’s implants immediately! Computer, one to transport directly to Sickbay!” Tanya’s body dematerialized from the Bridge. Drel turned to Ensign Choxx Tlohhd. “Keep an eye on that cube. If it drops out of warp, we may be needed. I’ll have Jefferson sent up here, if you need a pilot. He’s–”
“Don’t bother, Lieutenant,” Shonos said, grinning. She had moved to the Science station and was tapping the controls to the long-range sensors. “The Borg cube has fled. It took a little pounding from the lead Federation ships, but it managed to go to transwarp before they could destroy it. The Borg are gone. The battle’s over.”
“The final contest will be for the life of our new friend, Tanya,” said Mercy. “And that’s the doctor’s battle to fight.”
Drel rose and frowned. She had trained as a medic in Starfleet Academy, and she had Perciv’s engineering knowledge. The EMH will need my help, she thought. “I’ll be in Sickbay, assisting the doctor,” she said. Never send a hologram to do a Trill’s job.