USS Nautilus, Chief Science Officer’s Log: Supplemental
With the Khitomer out of danger for the time being and my new friend, Ensign Shonos at my side, I’m returning to the Nautilus. We haven’t been able to contact Captain Sokar or the Bridge, but Lieutenant T’Paie’s hail indicates that the ship was disabled and boarded just before the Borg sphere withdrew. Internal sensors are down aboard the Nautilus, so I have no idea what I’m beaming into…or how many of my friends and shipmates are still alive.
Carlin Drel and Shonos materialized onto the pad of Transporter Room One aboard the USS Nautilus, their weapons leveled. The Operations chief behind the consol raised her hands in surrender. Drel recognized Chief Mary “Mercy” Thomas and lowered her phaser rifle. “Good to see you again, Mercy,” she said.
“Good to see you, too, Carlin,” said Mercy. The transporter chief was one of the few people aboard the Nautilus who never called her Drel, just Carlin. Perhaps it was because Mercy had transferred to the ship about the same time Carlin had–when she was still the unjoined Carlin Agran and Drel was still Commander Antori’s symbiont. In any case, Carlin was glad of the special bond of familiarity, especially at a time like this.
“Who’s your new friend?” Mercy asked, pointing to the Andorian.
“Allow me to introduce Ensign Shonos of the USS Khitomer,” said Drel. “Ensign Shonos, Chief Petty Officer Mercy Thomas. Shonos volunteered to help us retake the Nautilus from the Borg.”
Mercy smiled. “Nice of you to lend a helping hand.”
Shonos grinned, but Drel ignored the joke. “Mercy, what do you know about the situation?”
“Only that a Borg drone tried to take a swing at me a couple of minutes ago, but Crewman Jefferson made him real sorry.”
Drel turned to the burly security crewman sitting on the deck beside Mercy, bandaging a cut arm. “I snapped his neck, but he made me a little sorry, too,” Jefferson explained. “He had this wicked blade on one arm…” Jefferson shook his head.
“The drone didn’t try to assimilate either of you?” Shonos asked
Mercy and Jefferson shook their heads. “It just tried to cut us up and pound us flat,” said Mercy.
“It was the same on the Khitomer,” said Shonos. “I wonder what’s gotten into the Borg.”
Drel wondered too, but she didn’t have time to speculate right now. She gave her hand phaser to Mercy. “You two,” she said to Mercy and Jefferson. “There’s an armory on Deck 2, Section 9. Arm yourselves properly and get down to Main Engineering. See if you can help Lieutenant T’Paie secure the ship from that end.”
“And where are you going, Carlin?” asked Mercy.
“Shonos and I are going to the Bridge to see if we can re-establish contact with Captain Sokar,” she said.
“Be careful,” Mercy advised. “No one’s been able to raise the Bridge since they made a medical emergency call just before we were boarded.”
Drel swallowed and wished the cold pit in her stomach would go away. “We’ll be careful, Mercy. You and Jefferson watch each other’s backs.”
“Yes, ma’am,” said the Chief, then they all went into the corridor and split up, Drel and Shonos going left and the Chief and Jefferson going right.
They proceeded cautiously down the hall. Flickering red alert lights made for poor illumination. Drel glanced at the Andorian. “You didn’t have to do this, you know,” she said.
“I know I did,” said Shonos, never taking her eye off the corridor in front of them. “You saved my life and saved my ship. No daughter of Telav ever forgets a debt of honor.”
“Telav?” Drel repeated. “As in, Admiral Telav, commander of the Ninth Fleet? The one who defeated the Klingon armada at the Battle of Capella?”
“You know of him?” asked Shonos.
“Doesn’t everybody?” said Carlin. She checked down the last corridor, then made her way to the turbolift door. “I was on the ground on Capella IV during the battle, a field medic with the away teams helping to protect the natives and the mines from Klingon raiding parties.”
“Then you saw my father’s victory from the planet,” said Shonos, smiling.
“I’m afraid I didn’t see it at all. I was injured about six hours before and beamed up to the Nautilus. While your father was defeating the Klingons, I was undergoing two major surgeries. I owe him my life for making certain they weren’t interrupted,” she said.
“Then it is fitting that fate has bound us together,” said Shonos.
They reached the turbolift and stepped inside. “Deck One, the Bridge,” Drel instructed. The turbolift hummed and rose briefly. Then its doors snapped open onto a nightmare scene.
Four Borg drones were wandering aimlessly around the Bridge, unopposed. Around them, the bodies of the Bridge crew lay scattered, including the mutilated corpse of Doctor Howard, which sprawled across the floor just outside the turbolift. As soon as the doors opened, the Borg started toward them, waving their heavy mechanical arms like clubs. Drel fired at them and Shonos joined in, creating a deadly crossfire. Three of the drones went down, but the fourth adapted. It advanced straight toward them, its heavy mechanical arm raised high. Thinking quickly, Drel ducked back into the turbolift, pulling Shonos in after her. The drone swung at the Andorian, but missed. It turned its attention on Drel, swinging at her. She jumped out of the way, slamming herself against the side of the turbolift. “Computer! Seal turbolift!” The doors slid shut on the drone’s oversized arm, trapping it. Shonos began pounding it with the butt of her phaser rifle, but it showed no signs of damage. Meanwhile, the drone wedged one of its legs into the gap between the doors, trying to force them open.
“Computer! Emergency decent, five decks!” she said. The lift jerked into sudden motion, plummeting five decks before coming to a stop again. Carlin’s stomach churned, and not just because of the motion. The drone’s arm and leg had been caught in the door and the sudden decent had sheered them off, leaving them bleeding and sparking on the floor. The smell was terrible. Drel groaned. “Sometimes I wish my plans wouldn’t work out so well.”
“Hold that thought till we finish him,” said Shonos, recalibrating her phaser. When she was finished, she said, “Computer! Bridge!” Drel readied her weapon as well and braced herself. The doors opened and they did a quick scan of the room. Shonos spotted the drone first, leaning against the bulkhead. A single burst from her phaser rifle and the drone was dead. “I think that’s all of them,” Shonos said. She crossed the Bridge to check the doors to the Conference Room and the Captain’s Ready-Room. “Empty,” she reported.
Only then did Drel lower her phaser rifle and allow herself to survey the ruin around her. The Bridge was a slaughterhouse. Aside from the drones she and Shonos had killed, there were two others lying dead on the floor, along with the bodies of the entire bridge crew. Captain Sokar lay in his chair, impaled by a drone’s mechanical arm. The drone who’d done it lay atop him, its neck twisted at an impossible angle. Apparently, it had underestimated the Captain fatally. Lieutenant-Commander Toban’s head was a mess and his body had taken several cutting blows as well, but his blue fist still held a phaser. Judging from the smoldering burn marks on the sixth drone’s body, it was he who had downed it. Lieutenant Mordom slumped across the Science consol. He’d taken a powerful blow to the back of the head that had split open the Zaldan’s skull. Drel saw Ensign Shuster lying on the floor. Her consol had exploded and she had severe burns to her chest, but the killing blow had been the crushing of a metal boot into the front of her skull. Drel tried to comfort herself with the knowledge that poor Claire had probably been unconscious already when they killed her.
Shonos shook her head at the scene. “This is beyond insane.”
Carlin clenched her jaw, till it made the three upper molars on her left side hurt. They’d always been sensitive since a blow from a Klingon bat’leth had injured her upper jaw there. It was the wound that had forced her from Capella IV, though it was not the wound she remembered the most. The one she remembered the most was losing Antori that day. Right now, she didn’t mind the pain of the molars half as much as the pain in her heart.
But grief and self-pity weren’t going to avenge these deaths. “We’ve got to see if we can get internal sensors and coms up again,” said Drel. She went to the Science consol and gingerly moved Mordom’s corpse aside. She called up the internal sensor and communications networks.
“That doesn’t look good,” said Shonos, pointing to the sensor grid.
Drel nodded. “Half the grid’s been burned out by power surges. It’ll take a while to get it back online. The comm network’s another story, though…Main router’s fried, but the auxiliaries should be able to handle the traffic, as long as we compress the bandwidth a little.” She adjusted the controls. “There! Let’s give it a try.”
She opened a channel. “Bridge to Engineering! This is Lieutenant Drel.”
“Engineering here,” said T’Paie’s steady voice. “Lieutenant, what is the situation up there.”
“The Bridge was boarded, but the Borg have been killed,” said Drel. “Unfortunately, the Bridge crew was already dead by the time I arrived, including Captain Sokar and Lieutenant-Commander Toban. Lieutenant Mordom is dead as well, along with Doctor Howard and Ensign Shuster.”
There was brief silence on the other end. “It appears we have sustained heavy casualties, indeed,” T’Paie said at last.
“And very important casualties,” said Drel. She chose her next words carefully. “Lieutenant T’Paie, with the deaths of Captain Sokar and his acting first officer Lieutenant-Commander Toban, you are the senior-most surviving officer aboard this ship. Command passes to you.”
Now the silence on the other end was much longer. When it passed, T’Paie’s voice seemed hesitant. “Lieutenant Drel, with all respect, I have no command experience, nor have I ever desired any. It is not…logical. Your current body is young, but you retain the experiences of your previous hosts, whose seniority outstrips my own. Antori Drel was Commander and first officer aboard this vessel before his death, as you know. Perciv Drel also attained the rank of Captain, I believe.”
“He never commanded anything but the drawing board, T’Paie,” said Drel.
“Still, between the three of you, you have command experience and 114 years of service in Starfleet to my sixty,” said T’Paie. “You are the logical choice to command this vessel.”
“You’re both lieutenants. Either one of you can take command,” Shonos pointed out. “From what I’ve seen, this ship couldn’t go wrong with you in command.”
Drel took a deep breath and forced a smile for the Andorian. “Thanks for the vote of confidence,” she said. She cued the shipwide intercom. “Bridge to all hands! This is Lieutenant Carlin Drel speaking. Captain Sokar and most of the Bridge crew have been killed in action. I am assuming command of the ship.” I can’t believe I just said that. She went on before the conflicted feelings having a wrestling match in her stomach could stop her. “Internal sensors are still offline, so we may still have a number of Borg drones aboard. All personnel are to remain on alert while security teams from this ship and the Khitomer conduct a deck-by-deck sweep.” She silenced the mike for a moment while she considered her next move. “I’ll need an all new bridge crew.”
“I would be honored to join your new Bridge crew,” said Shonos.
“Won’t the Khitomer be missing you?” asked Drel.
“They hardly need the services of a junior security officer as much as you need a new chief of security,” said Shonos. “I’ll get to work organizing the deck-by-deck searches immediately.”
Drel managed a smile at the Andorian’s enthusiasm. “Very well, consider the position yours, at least until Commander Davis on the Khitomer says otherwise.” Shonos hurried off into the turbolift. She enabled the audio pickup again. “Ensign Shonos from the USS Khitomer will be joining us as acting Chief of Security. All security teams, report to her. Chief Petty Officer Mercy Thomas, please report to the Bridge to assume your post as acting Chief of Operations. Ensign Choxx Tlohhd, you are now acting Chief Tactical Officer. Ensign Tristan Datri, you are acting Chief Flight Controller.”
Drel’s combadge pinged with an interruption. “Lieutenant Drel, Ensign Datri is in sickbay, recovering to third-degree plasma burns over his face and arms,” said the voice of the EMH. “And when is Doctor Howard coming back down here? I’m a doctor, not a nursemaid. I wasn’t designed to coddle patients while the ship’s physician is on holiday.”
Drel clenched her fist, then slowly released it. “Doctor Howard is dead,” she announced. “The Emergency Medical Hologram is now acting Chief Medical Officer.” That was a position she would soon have to replace. She didn’t know how long she could stand having a snarky young hologram trying to fill Doctor Howard’s shoes. Maybe Khitomer would loan her a real doctor. Meanwhile she racked her brain for other qualified pilots on board to replace Datri. Crewman Jefferson was the only one who came to mind, and she didn’t think he’d ever flown anything bigger than a shuttle. “Crewman Jefferson, please report to the Bridge to take the Conn,” she said. “I would also request a medical detail to the Bridge to…to take care of the bodies of our shipmates and fellow officers.”
Then Carlin closed the channel and staggered into an empty chair. Alone on the Bridge, surrounded by the bodies of her friends and the cybernetic madmen who’d killed them, she became violently ill.