The Vega Colony Attack, Part One: Prelude

USS Nautilus, Chief Science Officer Carlin Drel’s Log: Stardate 86947.3

We’ve been diverted from our patrol of the Delta Valonis Cluster in order to answer a distress signal from the Vega colony.  A Borg cube has been detected on route to the colony.  Starfleet is gathering all available ships to repel the Borg.  Antori don’t fail me now!  I may need all of your skills to stay alive.  In the meantime, Captain Sokar has ordered me down to sickbay to assist Doctor Harold prepare a triage unit, just in case.

“Please state the nature of the medical emergency,” said the Emergency Medical Hologram (EMH) Mark Two, materializing in front of Drel.

“Well, you are, Doc, if we can’t get your holo-emitters fixed,” she said, pulling out her tricorder and scanning the hologram.  “One of them appears to be on the verge of shorting out.”

“Shorting out!”  The Doctor examined himself in alarm.

“Not yet,” Drel said, letting a small grin tug at her lips.  “Hopefully not at all, but if we see any action, it could happen.”

“Well you’ve got to fix it then!  You’ve got plenty of time I suppose.”  The hologram gave her a worried frown.  “You do have plenty of time, don’t you?”

“I should be just in time actually.  We’re due to arrive at the Vega Colony in under an hour.”

“And what happens at the Vega Colony?”

Carlin didn’t answer and instead tucked a few strands of auburn hair that had broken out of her pony-tail back behind her ear.  She was trying not to think about what might happen at Vega.

“Well?” the hologram insisted, waving his hands at her.

Drel sighed and lowered the tricorder.  “At the Vega Colony, we engage the Borg,” she said matter-of-factly.  “And since you’re the last thing I have to work on in this triage center we’ve set up here, I’d appreciate it if you’d let me finish.”

“The Borg!” the hologram wailed.

“Yes, the Borg,” said Drel, trying to scan the hologram again.  “Now, hold still.”

“And did you say triage center?  This is the sickbay.  Don’t you have an alternate site you can convert, like the mess hall.  How am I supposed to treat all the casualties we’ll be having in here?  How are we even supposed to fight the Borg?  I’m a doctor, not a soldier!”

Drel glared at the anxious hologram, set down her tricorder and started tapping keys on the nearby consol.  “You aren’t supposed to even get turned on, if we’re lucky.  Doctor Harold just needs you as a backup in case he get’s swamped with casualties–and I don’t want his backup shorting out.  So I need you to hold still.”

The hologram tried to peek over her shoulder.  “What are you doing?”

“Disabling your motor subroutines,” she said, and the holographic man froze in place.  “There, that’s better.”  She ran her tricoreder over the paralyzed figure once and it chimed.  “Okay, I see the fluxuation now.  Hold on, this should be simple to fix.”  She walked over to the wall and pulled open an access panel.  She pressed a few buttons on the exposed control panel and the hologram’s leg’s disappeared.

“What are you doing!” he shouted in alarm.

“Don’t worry, it’s just temporary,” she assured.

“Do you even know what you just did?  You’re not a trained engineer, you’re in science officer blues.  You have no idea what you’re messing with!”

“On the contrary, I’ve designed sickbay holo-emitter arrays not too different from this one,” she said, then pointed to the brown spots running down either side of her hairline and down her neck.  “I’m Drel.”

“Oh, I see, a joined Trill.  I suppose one of your hosts was a trained engineer a couple lifetimes ago?  I’m inspired with confidence!”  said the hologram sarcastically.  “Would you mind terribly putting my legs back and unfreezing me?”

“Just a second.”  Drel snapped a new holo-emitter into place, then touched the control panel again.  The EMH’s legs appeared again.  “There, that ought to do it.”

The EMH rolled his eyes.  “I’d like to be a doctor, not a statue.”

“Of course,” she said.  “Computer, restore motor functions on Nautilus EMH…”

“Motor functions restored,” came the reply.

“Thank you,” sighed the EMH, then rounded on her to give a sharp reprimand.

“…And end program,” Drel finished.  The EMH vanished before he could say a word.  Carlin rubbed her stiff neck.  “Those things just won’t shut up, will they?”

“Now you understand why I never use them,” said Doctor Harold.

Just then, a klaxon began to sound and red lights flashed on all the walls.  Carlin’s heart jumped at the sound.  Then she heard the intercom.  “Red Alert, all hands to battle stations.  We have arrived at the Vega colony and will engage the Borg shortly,” said the voice of Captain Sokar in a calm that nothing could shake.  “Lieutenant Drel, please report to the Bridge.”

Drel allowed herself a shiver.  We will engage the Borg shortly.  “How do Vulcan’s manage to make even that sound like a weather bulletin on an airless moon?”

Doctor Harold shook his head.  “You’d better get going,” he said.  “He may be dull, but he’s always serious.”

Drel nodded and left Sickbay, heading down a short corridor for the turbolift.  “Bridge!” she ordered.  The ride was faster than she wanted it to be, and when the door opened and deposited her on the Bridge, it took all her will not to freeze.  The main viewscreen was dominated by a massive Borg cube, glowing in haunting green and black.  It was damaged, trailing green plasma from several breaches in its hull, but it was also unopposed.  Drel could see no other Federation ships on the screen.  “Are we too late,” she asked, coming up behind the Captain.

“We have insufficient data to speculate at this time, Drel,” said Sokar, turning in his chair.  “We were supposed to contact the Khitomer the moment we arrived, but our hails have gone unanswered.  Perhaps you will have more success.”  He motioned to the science consol, which a crewman vacated, looking eager to leave.

Carlin nodded and took her place at the station.  Sensors and com-arrays answered to her touch, giving her momentary comfort.  “The cube appears to be dead in the water.”

Sokar raised an eyebrow.

“It’s, uh, a figure of speech,” Drel explained.

“I am familiar with your…creative speech patterns, Drel.  We have known each other for some time and I understood your expression,” said Sokar.  “My surprise was at the status of the Borg cube.  I did not expect them to be so swiftly defeated.”

Drel flashed a nervous smile and nodded.  She could see Lieutenant-Commander Toban at Tactical was smiling as well, as were and Ensign Claire Shuster at the Conn and Lieutenant Mordom at Ops.  Sokar, of course, wasn’t smiling–never did, though Drel swore Antori had gotten him close a couple times.

“Lietenant, the status of the Federation fleet?” Sokar prompted.

“Right.”  She glanced back at the sensor readout.  “I’m detecting several Federation ships, a dozen at least.”  She paused.  “They’re all damaged, sir, some pretty badly.”  There was no comfort in that thought.

“Have any responded to our hails?” asked Sokar, unfazed.

“It’s hard to tell.  There’s a lot of chatter out there,” she said.  “I’m definitely picking up several Federation signals, but they’re all pretty weak and scrambled.  I’ll see if I can sort them out.”  She ran an algorithum and studied the readout, sorting hails by registry number.  NCC 46701 rose to the top of the list.  “I’ve got a signal with the Khitomer’s number, but it’s not on a standard channel and it’s pretty garbled.”

“Trace the signal to its origin and send the coordinates to the Conn, and I will see if I can assist in clearing up the message itself,” said Sokar, rising to help her.  Drel made room at the consol while the ship came about.  Soon the viewscreen showed a Federation ship, with the sweeping lines of a powerful Valor-class cruiser.  She was listing and hanging motionless in space.

“Found the Khitomer, sir,” Shuster reported.  “She’s stationary 12 kilometers off our starboard bow.  Her shields are down.”

“And yet, the ship remains intact,” Sokar observed.

Carlin nodded, checking her sensors.  “Looks like they have some breeches in their secondary hull, but they’re otherwise undamaged.  I wouldn’t want to be their Chief Engineer right now, but the Borg haven’t blown them to confetti either.”

“Curious,” said Sokar.

The science consol beeped.  Carlin glanced down again.  “The signals cleaned-up, sir, but it’s not coming from the Bridge.  Looks like…Auxiliary Medical Bay, Deck 16.”

“Onscreen,” said Sokar, eyes fixed on the viewscreen.

The image of the Khitomer vanished and was replaced by the gentlemanly face of an EMH Mark Four–the successor to the artificially immature version Drel had just dealt with in Sickbay, though she’d heard its change in appearance hadn’t improved its bedside manner.  Right now, the EMH looked very perturbed.  “This is the Khitomer EMH to any ship!  I have lost contact with the Bridge and require immediate assistance.”

“What is the situation?” asked Sokar.

“The Borg have boarded the ship and I have a lot of wounded people over here,” said the EMH.  “I need a trained medic to assist me, and…and a security team to repel the Borg!”

Drel’s consol beeped.  She glanced down and frowned.  “Sir, I’m picking up a Borg sphere closing on the Khitomer’s position.  There are three other starships close enough to intercept, but they’re all partially damaged.”

“Why were they not detected earlier?” asked Sokar.

Drel shook her head.  “There’s a lot of interference out there…”

“Excuse me?!  I need help over here!” the EMH shouted from the viewscreen, standing on his toes and waving as if that would make him heard better.  Drel ignored him.

Suddenly, the image on the viewscreen cut out, replaced by an image of the approaching Borg sphere.  A chilling monotone of a million voices all speaking as one came from every speaker and com device on the ship.  “We are the Borg.  Existance, as you know it, is over.  You will be assimilated.  Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own.  Resistance is futile.”

As soon as the transmission ended, Captain Sokar turned to his crew.  “Ensign Shuster, plot an intercept course with the Borg sphere.  We cannot allow it to reach the damaged Federation fleet.  Toban, standby shields and charge weapons.”

“Aye, sir,” said the Bolian at Tactical.

“I’ll see if I can’t clear up some of that interference, and make sure there are no more surprises, sir,” said Drel.

Sokar cut her off with a raised hand.  “The Khitomer’s situation cannot be ignored, Lieutenant, but with an engagement eminent we must be careful not to commit resources unnecessarily.”  He turned to Carlin.  “Drel, you are the ship’s second-best medic and–most importantly–an experienced security officer.  Considering your previous hosts, you are the most experienced officer aboard.  I want you to beam over and assess the gravity of the situation aboard the Khitomer.  If you require additional resources or personnel, we will beam those over as well.  Lieutenant Mordom will take your station until you return.  You should arm yourself with one of the phasers from the weapons locker on Deck 2.  Lieutenant T’Paie has retrofitted them with a frequency modulator which will make recalibrating them in combat easier.”

Logical.  It didn’t make sense to commit a large away team if the Khitomer’s EMH turned out to be over-reacting.  And, with a lifetime’s experience in engineering, security, and now science and medicine, she was the most logical choice.  She swallowed, nodded, and started for the turbolift.  “I’ll be in Transporter Room One in a minute with a phaser and a med-kit.”  Sometimes, she hated being a joined Trill.

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