USS Khitomer, Chief Science Officer Carlin Drel’s Log, Supplamental
While the Nautilus forms up with the rest of the fleet–or what’s left of it–I’m beaming over to the Khitomer to assess the situation. The only signal we’re getting is from the EMH on the Auxiliary Medical Bay, though sensors show lifesigns and firefights all over the ship. There’s no way to tell who’s who or how many of them there are. I just hope I’m not beaming into one losing battle, while my friends fly into another.
Drel materialized into a chaos. Alarm klaxons were blaring and the deck of the Khitomer trembled, threatening to shake her off her feet. Explosions and the whine of weapons-fire could he heard from down the corridor, above the screams of wounded men. Before she could even move, the EMH set upon her. “Thank goodness you’re here! Are you all they sent?” He peeked behind her as though she might be hiding an officer or two behind her back.
“I’m all they could spare for the moment,” she said, getting her bearings. She was in the Auxiliary Sickbay, and every bed was occupied. One of the patients tried to get up, then collapsed back onto the biobed. Carlin brushed off the EMH and rushed over to him, pulling out her medical triocorder. “Radiation poisoning,” she reported. “He needs some hyronalin and somebody to keep him in bed.”
“That would be nice, but as you can see I have limited medical staff,” said the EMH, tapping his own chest. He did seem to be the only one on his feet in the whole sickbay.
“And where’s everybody else?” asked Drel, pulling a hypospray from her medkit.
“How should I know? I’m a doctor not a directory!”
“Great.” She handed the hypospray to the EMH. “I’ll see if I can find you some help.” She tapped her com badge. “Drel to Nautilus!”
“Nautilus here,” came Sokar’s voice. “What is your situation?”
“I’ve got about a dozen wounded down here and only one EMH tending them. I could use…two, maybe three medics.” Nautilus should be able to spare that many, and they would be enough to at least relieve the situation here. “Be advised, there’s also weapons-fire nearby. I’m going to investigate.”
“Acknowledged, proceed with caution, Lieutenant. Nautilus out.”
“Help is on the way,” Drel said to the EMH, and started for the door.
“You’re leaving?!” the EMH said. “But I need your help! I wasn’t programmed to deal with this many patients–”
Drel rounded on him, hands on her hips. “And were you programmed to deal with fire-fights? From the sound of things, you’ve got one on its way here now.” The EMH fell silent. “Look,” Drel added, “You’ve got medics on the way. They should beam in any minute now. I’m just gonna check out the shooting war out there and make sure you and your patients aren’t in immediate danger and then I’ll come back.”
“Very well,” said the EMH, still sounding peeved to be losing a helper. “Just hurry, and be careful, Lieutenant. The last thing I need is another patient on my hands.”
Drel nodded and left the medical bay. She heard weapon’s fire coming from one of the open doors down the corridor and headed in that direction, drawing her phaser. Peeking around the corner, she saw a female Andorian Ensign frantically firing a phaser rifle. Three Borg drones were almost on top of her. She managed to hit two of them. One the drone’s took a hit in the chest. It’s exoplating shattered and its torso exploded in a shower of sparks and acrid smoke. The second drone took one hit in the arm, nearly severing it. While the drone reeled, a second bolt from the phaser rifle hit it in the torso, but merely splashed harmlessly across the drone’s personal forcefield. They had adapted. Now both drones came closer, backing the Andorian against a consol.
Drel took aim and fired, hitting the damaged drone from behind. Sparks flew and the drone’s left arm fell to the floor, completely severed. Sparks flew from the stump and the drone convulsed. Still it managed to turn slowly and regard her with a mechanical eye. A red laser light swept over her body, scanning it. Drel fired again, this time, hitting the drone in the abdomen. The drone staggered backward and fell. She took aim at the other drone, but this time her phaser beam refracted harmlessly off the drone’s shield. She mashed buttons on her phaser, frantically trying to recalibrate, but it was too late.
The drone and the Andorian were already locked in melee. The Andorian clubbed the drone in the head with the butt of her phaser rifle. The drone recovered from the blow almost immediately and raised a mechanical arm toward the Ensign’s head. She tried to block it, but the drone swatted her rifle away with its other arm. Any moment, Carlin expected to see the drone inject the helpless Andorian with nanoprobes. She braced herself to see the gray palor of assimilation spreading under the Ensign’s skin. There would be no help for her after that.
But the Borg didn’t stop to inject nanoprobes. Instead swung with the mechanical arm, a heavy blow aimed right at the Andorian’s head. The Ensign jerked her head backward, but still caught the blow on her nose. Flesh tore and bone splintered. Bright blue blood splattered the drone’s arm and ran down the Andorian’s face. She spat and punched the drone in the stomach. It jerked a little to one side, off-balance, but otherwise did not react. It raised its arm for another bone-crushing blow.
Drel had seen enough. She fired again at the drone, even though her phaser wasn’t recalibrated yet. The shot momentarily distracted the drone. “Over here!” she shouted at the Ensign. The Andorian saw her and rolled over the consol. The drone’s swing missed and shattered the consol instead, sending a jolt of electricity up its arm. The drone spasmed, but managed to pull its arm free. The other drone seemed to be recovering too. It was trying to rise. There was no way Drel was holding off both of them with a hand phaser.
Thinking quickly, Drel moved to a wall consol and pulled up emergency atmospheric containment protocols. She turned to the Ensign. “What Section are we in? Quick!”
The Andorian spat, clearing her mouth of blood. “Twenty-three, Auxiliary Computer Control. Least that’s where we ought to be. Why?”
“I have an idea that might buy us some time.” She entered the coordinates into the system, followed by a sequence that should trigger an explosive decompression drill, simulating half the compartment being ripped away by battle damage and triggering emergency forcefields to respond. At least, that’s what she hoped it did. Hopefully, there’d been no upgrade to the emergency atmospheric containment protocols since Perciv Drel had supervised their design for the Sovereign-class cruisers, the predecessor of the Valor-class Khitomer. If there had been, all she’d get is a brief error message, and those drones were getting awfully close…
Fortunately for her, the protocols had not changed. The simulation worked and the computer responded by erecting an emergency forcefield across the center of the room, dividing the drones from the Starfleet officers. The lead drone walked straight into the forcefield and rebounded. Its head cocked, as if surprised. The other drone stopped just short of the forcefield and swatted at it with its remaining arm, which rebounded as well.
“No telling how long till they adapt,” Drel said, picking up the wounded Andorian. “We’ve got to get you to the Auxiliary Medical Bay. It’s just down this corridor…” Her voice trailed off. The door to the corridor was on the other side of the forcefield, with the Borg drones. So was the room’s other exit, across the room from the first. She hadn’t trapped the drones, she’d trapped herself. “Brilliant!” She groaned, then tapped her combadge. “Drel to Nautilus, I need a site-to-site transport down here. My way is blocked by a forcefield.” No need to tell them who was responsible for that forcefield.
Her combadge answered only static. She was about to tap it again when Sokar’s voice broke through. He was shouting to be heard, but his tone was still emotionless as ever. “I’m afraid that will be impossible, Drel. We have engaged the Borg sphere and are taking fire. Were I to lower our shields and attempt a transport, the results would be…unfortunate.”
Drel laughed nervously at the Vulcan’s choice of words. “Well, that’s an understatement. Best of luck to you, old friend,” she said.
“Luck is illogical, but perhaps not unwelcome at this point,” came the reply. “Live long and prosper, my friend, until this crisis has passed.”
If we live that long, without getting assimilated, Carlin thought, but did not say. “Drel out,” she said instead, closing the channel. “Looks like there’s been a change of plans,” she told the Andorian, laying her on the deck.
The Ensign moaned as her head touched the floor. Her antenna were writhing, a clear indication of her pain and fear. “The Borg?” she asked through clenched teeth.
Drel pointed her phaser at them, expecting to see them breaking through the forcefield by now. They hadn’t. Instead the armless drone was standing there, staring at the forcefield while intact drone–a medical drone of some sort–had retrieved its fellow’s severed arm and was attempting to reattach it. Carlin turned back to the injured Ensign. “The Borg have called a truce for now. Let’s take a look at your face.” She opened up her medkit and tricorder–not that she needed it to tell that the Andorian’s nose had been torn half off her face. At least the blow had only grazed her complex nasal bone-structure. It was still largely intact, with only a couple pieces broken off that Drel thought she could reattach in the field. “Hold still, this will probably hurt a lot.”
The Ensign winced and bit her lip as Carlin carefully rearranged the pieces of her nose, then held first a skeletal then a dermal regenerator over them. The torn blue skin knit itself back together, healing over with pink scar tissue. Drel frowned and sponged the blood off of the Ensign’s face. “It’s not pretty and it probably still smarts, but it’ll have to do till we can get you to the medical bay.”
“Thank you,” the Andorian said, feeling her nose with one hand and pushing herself to her feet with the other. “I owe you my life.”
Drel wiped her hands and closed the medkit. “I wouldn’t say that much, and besides, take a look at that.” She pointed at the drones. The medical drone had reattached the other drone’s arm, but it was still heavily damaged. The drone was trying to make further repairs while the other drone swatted its good arm at the forcefield, rebounding again and again. Any second now, it would figure out how to pass its hand through the forcefield, and the rest of it would follow. “We’re not out of the woods yet,” she said.
“The woods?” the Andorian repeated.
“Uh, yes, it’s a human expression one of my previous hosts picked up,” Drel explained.
“How amusing!” said the Andorian, managing to smile and even appear genuinely relaxed–as if there weren’t two Borg drones ten feet away trying to break through a forcefield and assimilate them, or beat their heads in: whichever came first. “Ensign Shonos, at your service,” she said, extending a hand in greeting. “I don’t believe we’ve met.”
Security officers, Carlin thought, noting the red of the Andorian’s uniform, under the splatters of blue blood. They’re all crazy. Nevertheless, she took the hand. “Lieutenant Carlin Drel, USS Nautilus. I beamed over to help when my ship received a distress signal from your EMH.”
“Well, at least he’s still online,” said Shonos. “That’s good to hear. I came down here to Auxiliary Computer Control to see if I could get the computer’s higher functions back online. The Borg knocked it out before they boarded the ship and we can’t get anything but emergency protocols.” She started tapping on a consol, which responded sluggishly. “I can’t make much sense out of this.”
Drel looked over her shoulders. “Looks like the main processor is being blocked. Try routing commands through the backup circuits.” She pointed at the appropriate controls.
Shonos nodded and began working on it. “In the meantime, do you think you can do something with them,” she jerked her head at the two drones.
“If I can get the transporter working again, maybe,” she moved back to the wall consol and pulled up transporter control. It was a little scrambled, but still functional. The real trouble would be getting a lock on the drones, since internal sensors seemed to be down. “I’ll try a manual lock,” she said.
“And where are you beaming them?”
“Out into space if I can get enough power for that.” The range the transporter was showing looked pretty restrictive.
“Let me see what I can do,” Shonos pressed a few more sequences. “There, main computer coming back up, and here’s a little boost to the transporters.”
“Good enough,” said Drel. Her consol chimed. “Got it! Energizing!” The two drones vanished in a swirl of blue energy. Carlin rematerialized them a couple meters away from the outer hull. “They won’t be much of a threat floating in vacuum.” She smiled.
Shonos returned her smile. “Nicely done, Lieutenant!”
Suddenly, the Ensign’s combadge chirped. “Commander Davis to Shonos,” a man’s voice said.
The Andorian tapped her combadge. “Shonos here!”
“We just got Main Computer functions back online down here,” said Davis. “I assume congratulations are in order for you and Lieutenant Kelly.”
The Andorian’s antennas drooped and she lowered her eyes. “Lieutenant Kelly didn’t make it, sir. We were attacked by five drones the moment we arrived in Auxiliary Control. We took down two of them, but Kelly was killed while we were trying to recalibrate our phaser rifles. I would have been killed as well, if not for the intervention of Lieutenant Carlin Drel who beamed over from the Nautilus.” Shonos looked up and gave Drel a smile.
Drel tried to smile back, but instead found herself sweeping the floor of the room with her eyes. Now that she looked, she noticed the body of a male human science officer lying on the floor among the bodies of three drones. The back of his skull had been caved in by a massive blow. Drel couldn’t help but wonder if she’d been able to prevent Lieutenant Kelly’s death if she’d left the medical bay just a little sooner.
“I wasn’t aware we had personnel from other ships aboard, but I’m grateful to hear it,” Commander Davis was saying. “In any case, we can thank our heroes and mourn our dead when this is over. I’ve set up an auxiliary bridge in Main Engineering. The Borg have installed some sort of jamming technology on the deck above us and its interfering with internal sensors. I need you and this Lieutenant from the Nautilus to take them out. Understood?”
“Yes, sir! Shonos out,” said the Andorian, tapping her combadge once more.
Drel tapped her consol and switched off the emergency forcefield. “I’m sorry about Lieutenant Kelly,” she offered.
Shonos shook her head and retrieved her phaser rifle. “There’s nothing anyone could have done. Kelly fought and died bravely, and that’s what matters. Follow me, Lieutenant.” Together, they headed down the corridor to an open Jeffrey’s Tube. “We’re lucky we’re only two decks above Main Engineering,” she said. They stepped into the tube and climbed down a ladder to the next level. On reaching it, they opened the hatch and stepped through.
They were in a cul-de-sac and the corridor beyond was filled with Borg. There were three drones working on a series of rectangular devices that glowed eerie green. One of the Borg turned toward them and Drel fired without thinking. The beam ricocheted off the drone’s shield and it kept coming. Now the others were turning toward them too. She scrambled to recalibrate her phaser to fire again.
In the meantime, Shonos fired. The volley from her phaser rifle broke harmlessly against the drone’s shield as well and she shrugged. “It was worth a try.” Then, she turned her phaser rifle on the nearest of the rectangular devices and fired a volley. Her shots split the device’s casing, causing it to explode and arc green energy across the corridor. Both drones who’d been working on it fell dead and a piece of shrapnel hit the drone that was approaching them. It collapsed, impaled, but still twitching. Drel finally finished her recalibration and put the drone out of its misery with a shot to the head.
“Nicely done, targeting the device instead of the drones, Ensign,” Drel said.
The Andorian smiled. “It seemed like a good idea. I’m just glad it worked out!”
They hurried to the next intersection and swept the corridor for more Borg. There were none, though several of their devices had been installed along the walls. Drel pulled out her tricorder and scanned the nearest one. “It’s a jamming device alright. It’s feeding off the main EPS manifold on this deck and broadcasting the energy as a field of static. With a deck full of these things, the Borg could black-out sensors throughout the secondary hull. I think it might even have a subspace link to other units elsewhere on the ship, allowing them to effectively blind the whole ship’s sensors and even extend the interference into the surrounding space.”
“So basically they’ve turned this deck and with it the whole ship into a jamming station. Any idea how to turn it off?” Shonos asked, nudging it with her rifle.
“Aside from blowing them all to bits one by one?” Drel asked.
“That could get a bit time consuming, not to mention dangerous,” said Shonos. “We were lucky not to get hit by shrapnel last time. Next time there may not be a friendly drone around to take the blow for us. And if the drone is less than friendly–”
“Point taken,” said Drel, she started working on a wall consol next to the Borg device, calling up the ship’s EPS control systems.
“Could you cut power to the jamming devices instead?” Shonos asked.
The consol beeped negatively. “That’s what I just tried,” Drel explained. “The Borg have installed some kind of an override. It’s preventing me from cutting the power to these things, or increasing it.”
“Can’t starve it, can’t overload it. I guess we deal with this the old fashioned way, then,” said Shonos, leveling her rifle. “Stand back.”
“Wait!” said Carlin. “I’ve got an idea.”
“I’m listening,” said Shonos.
“Actually, you’re my inspiration, Ensign,” said Drel. “When we couldn’t kill those drones back there by shooting them directly, you hit their jamming device instead and used it to blow them up. I’m thinking of trying the same principle here.” Carlin punched in an engineering override, and was grateful to find the Khitomer recognized her codes. “We can’t overload the devices or cut their power. I bet we can’t cut power to the EPS manifold on this deck either–the Borg would have thought of that.” A quick command sequence and a negative beep from the consol confirmed it. “Yes, they did…But I bet they didn’t think about preventing us from disengaging the EPS overflow buffers on this deck.”
Shonos frowned. “But if we did that, the whole manifold would overload in a matter of seconds. The damage would be massive! It would blow away the entire deck and–” Suddenly the Andorian’s eyes went wide and she smiled as the realization hit her. “And it would take all of the jamming devices with it!”
“With luck, the subspacial link would ensure that taking out this deck blew not only the devices here but also every jamming device on the ship. It might even overload a few on other ships as well, if there are any nearby.” Carlin brushed a stray strand of hair back. “The only problem is that this will cost the Khitomer Deck 17.”
Shonos nodded. She tapped her combadge. “Shonos to Commander Davis.”
“Davis here!” came the reply. “What’s your progress, Ensign?”
“We’ve located the devices, but they’re tied directly into the EPS manifold on this deck. Lieutenant Drel believes she can neutralize the Borg jamming field by overloading the EPS manifold, but that will destroy this entire deck, sir,” Shonos reported.
“Tell this Lieutenant she’s crazy as hell if she thinks–” There was a noise in the background: weapons-fire. There was the wham of forced plasma beams followed by the shriek of phaser-fire. After a moment, Davis’ voice came back. It was panicked. “Belay, that! The Borg are trying to storm Main Engineering and they’re not pulling their punches. I need those internal sensors and a diversion now! Tell Lieutenant what’s-her-name to blow the deck and then both of you get down here. We need every trigger finger we’ve got for this fight!”
“Aye, sir!” said Shonos. She tapped her combadge again. “This is Ensign Shonos to all personnel on Deck 17! We are about to overload the EPS manifold on this deck. Now would be a good time to leave!” She nodded to Drel.
Drel took a deep breath and punched in the sequence to disengage the vital safeties and disconnect the overflow buffers. The air began to hum as energy built up in the EPS conduits. “We’ve got to get out of here,” said Drel.
Shonos grabbed her arm and together they sprinted for the nearest Jeffrey’s tube hatch. Behind them, the computer blared, “Warning! EPS manifold power is exceeding tolerances. Overload in ten seconds! Ten…Nine…”
They opened the hatch and climbed in. Shonos leapt down the ladder while Drel closed the hatch to the corridor. Then she lept down the ladder to the next deck as well. Shonos shut the hatch above them just as the deck pitched and trembled, rocked by the explosion on the deck above. “Bye, bye Deck 17,” Drel said grimly.
“We’ve got to get to Main Engineering,” Shonos said, recalibrating her phaser rifle.
Drel nodded. She checked her phaser and then they left the Jeffery’s tube together. They came out behind a group of half a dozen drones who were attacking a pair of security officers, penned down at one of the doors to Main Engineering. The half the drones were tactical drones, standing back and firing forced plasma beams while the other half–apparently not equipped with ranged weapons–marched forward, wielding their heavy mechanical arms like clubs.
Shonos didn’t waste any time agonizing over the situation. She rolled into the middle of the corridor and came up firing. She swept all three of the rear drones with a volley from her phaser rifle. Two went down and another was sent reeling as the shot blew a hole in his side. He turned slowly toward Shonos as she fired another volley at him. This one did nothing though. His shield had adapted. Drel took aim and fired. Her phaser was set for a higher frequency than Shonos’ and it penetrated the drone’s shield easily–only to glance off its thick exoplating. She fired again, this time aiming for the exposed flesh of the drone’s head. The skin sizzled and caught fire and the drone fell dead. Drel fired again, aiming for one of the other drones–who were nearly at the doorway now. Her shot fizzled against the drone’s shield. She muttered a curse.
By now, though, Shonos had recalibrated her weapon. She unleashed a devastating volley, and the security officers fired their recalibrated weapons at the same time. All of the drones took multiple hits and fell into a smoking sparking pile on the floor.
“Nice shooting, Shonos!” One of the security officers shouted down the corridor. “Now get your blue butt over here! The Borg are overrunning the barricades on the lower level.”
Drel and Shonos rushed into Main Engineering to find it under assault by Borg. The two of them stood on a ramp overlooking the lower level of Engineering, where a barricade manned by three security officers was under attack by more than a dozen drones. The foremost drones hacked at and smashed the cargo containers that made up the barricade while tactical drones in the rear provided covering fire. The security officers pelted them with phaser fire, killing two, but the other drones ignored it and soon they had adapted.
Shonos and the other two security officers took up positions at the top of the ramp and fired down on the drones while Drel recalibrated her phaser. From the sounds of the explosions, the three of them scored a number of devastating hits. Then, the Borg returned fire. One of the security officers went down, hit in the side, while Shonos and the other were forced to duck for cover.
Carlin crawled over to where the wounded man lay. He had internal damage and he was already on the verge of shock. She tapped his combadge. “Medical emergency! Computer, one to beam directly to the Auxiliary Medical Bay!” The wounded man vanished in a shimmer of blue light and Drel could only hope that the EMH and the medics Sokar had sent over would be able to save him. She picked up the fallen man’s phaser rifle and rose to one knee to fire a shot at the Borg below. Her beam struck one of the tactical drones in the side of the head and its cybernetic eye burst into flame. The drone merely turned to look at her. She fired again, this time at the organic side of its face. Its flesh sizzled and it collapsed. The sight made Drel feel sick. She fired again, but this time the Borg had adapted.
Just then, a new drone entered Main Engineering, escorted by four imposing tactical drones. The new drone’s exoplating had a lighter color than that of the drones around him, almost silver. His eyepiece also glowed blue, rather than the reds of the other drones. The most shocking thing about this drone was what it did on entering Main Engineering: it shouted a command. “All drones destroy the warp core! We must not allow this vessel to survive,” it said.
“The boss has just arrived and he wants us all dead,” Shonos observed, recalibrating her phaser rifle.
“And since when do the Borg have bosses and shout orders,” asked Carlin, eyeing the newcomer over the curve of some railing. The drones below were ignoring her for now. They were too busy shoving their way through the barrier and cutting down anyone who stood in their way. Commander Davis and the engineers with him fired a few futile volleys at them and scrambled to get away.
“I hear the queen can talk,” said Shonos put in.
“This one isn’t a queen,” said Drel.
“Maybe it’s like Locutus back at Wolf 359,” said the security officer beside them. “My dad was there. He says he talked and he was running the show around there.”
“Maybe,” Drel said. Then, she noticed one of the tactical drones leaning in and saying something to the commander drone. Drel’s eyes went wide. “Maybe the queen and Locutus can talk and give orders, but no one ever talks back to them. The Borg don’t need to: they’re all one mind. This drone isn’t.”
Shonos looked up. “If this drone isn’t connected to the hive mind, then it’s the only one that isn’t adapted to our fire.”
“Let’s take down the boss,” Drel said.
Shonos nodded, and braced her phaser rifle against her shoulder. “On three. One, two, three!”
Shonos and Drel popped up and immediately took aim at the unique drone. They fired as one, their blasts pelting the drone’s exoplating. For a moment, it seemed to hold, deflecting each blast in a shower of sparks. Then, the armor failed and split open. The drone spasmed and fell. Its chest exploded and shrapnel imbedded itself in one of the tactical drones beside it, felling it as well.
A moment later, the tactical drones turned on Shonos and Drel, firing their green plasma beams. They ducked, but not before Calrin saw that the drones had finished forcing their way past the barricade and killed the last of the security officers on the lower level. Unfazed by the loss of their leader, six of the drones proceeded toward the warp core.
“Damn! I really thought killing their boss would at least slow them down,” said Drel.
“Apparently not,” said Shonos, recalibrating her weapon. “We’ve got to stop them before they cause a warp core breech and blow us all up!”
Drel shook her head. “We can’t risk firing that close to the warp core. We might cause the breech ourselves.”
“And what do you suggest?” demanded Shonos.
Below them, they heard Commander Davis shout, “Computer! Eject the core! Authorization: Davis, One-Four-Iota-Seven!”
“Unable to comply,” the Computer said. “Ejection systems have been disabled.”
“Honestly, that was gonna be my suggestion,” Carlin said. She started tugging at her pony-tail. “If the Nautilus was here, we could call for an emergency beam out–but even then we couldn’t get half the crew in time.”
Shonos looked up. “Carlin Drel, you’re a genius.”
Carlin raised her eyebrows. “I am?”
“Yes, sir!” Shonos crawled over to a consol that was behind some cover, then stood to operate it. She called up transporter control. “Do you remember how you handled those Borg behind the forcefield? Well, now that the internal sensors are up, we can do that to all the Borg.”
“You won’t be able to get an automatic lock through their personal shields, and there’s no time to try manual,” Drel warned. “You’ll need a way to disrupt them. A photonic burst might do the trick.” She turned to the security officer beside them. “Do you have a photon grenade?”
He pulled one off his belt and handed it to her. “These things stopped working on them half an hour ago, though,” he warned. “They’re not as adaptable as phasers.”
“We don’t need them to blow the drones to bits, just create a nice disruptive flash,” Drel said, adjusting the grenade’s settings. Antori Drel had been able to turn a deadly photon grenade into a non-lethal flash grenade in 5 seconds flat. It took Carlin 10 seconds, but she still managed it. “There! This should generate a low-level photonic burst across a large area. It’ll probably only disrupt their shields for a few microseconds though. You’ll have to react instantly.”
Shonos smirked. “Instant reactions are over-rated. I’ve programmed the computer with the transport sequence. It’ll initiate as soon as it detects the photonic burst.”
Suddenly, the computer blared out: “Warning! Warp core containment disrupted! Warp core breech immanent!”
“Now or never!” Drel said. She primed the grenade, popped up above the railing, and threw it into the crowd of drones below, then ducked down again. A few seconds later, a bright flash and a pop filled the room. Then the sound of the transporter’s hum came. Drel peeked back over the railing and saw the lower level deserted, except for Commander Davis and three engineers, who stood to against the wall, stunned. Drel smiled and clapped Shonos on the back. “We did it!”
“Warning! Warp core breech in sixty seconds!” the computer interrupted. Fortunately, that snapped the engineers below into action. Before the computer could count down to thirty seconds, they had stabilized the core. Drel and Shonos walked down the ramp to join them, picking their way over the wreckage of the barricade and the bodies of dead drones and officers.
As they approached, Commander Davis looked up from his consol and greeted them. “Ah, Ensign Shonos! Excellent timing and incredible initiative. Without a doubt, you have saved this ship.”
“I had more than a little help from Lieutenant Drel from the USS Nautilus, sir. She deserves the credit,” Shonos reported. “Lieutenant Carlin Drel, Commander Davis.”
The man extended a hand. “A pleasure to meet you, Lieutenant. I expect we’ll be cleaning up after your little idea on Deck 17 for a month to come, but if Shonos is to be believed you’ve saved us all.”
Carlin blushed. “With all due respect, sir, I’m sure Ensign Shonos exaggerates. Her quick thinking saved my life on more than one occasion, and it was she who came up with the idea of beaming the drones in Engineering into space.”
“And it was Lieutenant Drel who devised a way to make that even a possibility,” said Shonos.
Commander Davis raised a hand. “You two have both performed exemplarily and you can pat each other on the backs until your arms fall off as far as I’m concerned, now that this is over.”
“Over, sir?” Drel asked.
Commander Davis nodded and tapped his consol. “You heard me, Lieutenant. According to internal sensors there are only a couple other drones left active aboard the ship, and both apparently damaged. It seems like the Borg put everything they had into their attack here. It was their last-ditch effort to take us out.”
Drel nodded. “Any idea what’s causing them to behave so…oddly, sir?” she asked.
“What, you mean not assimilating people and pounding them to hamburger instead?” asked Davis. He shook his head. “No idea, Lieutenant. Maybe it has something to do with the pounding we gave that cube. Maybe it has something to do with that talking drone you two took out.” He glanced over to where one of his engineers and a science officer were scanning the body of the drone in question. “Anything?” he asked them.
The science officer shook his head. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It’s definitely not a queen. I can say that much. It’s way more advanced than any of the other drones, though.”
“Any idea why it wasn’t communicating through the hive mind?” Drel asked.
The science officer shrugged and folded his tricorder. “Your guess is as good as mine, Lieutenant. We’ll probably never know. It’s not like you left a lot of it to study.”
Drel blushed. “Sorry about that,” she said.
Just then, Commander Davis’ consol beeped urgently and he looked at it. He frowned and looked up at Carlin. “Lieutenant Drel, you’re from the Nautilus, you say?”
“You’d better take a look at this.” He stepped aside and allowed her to take her place at the consol.
Drel stepped up and saw the display readout for an incoming hail with a registry code NCC-31910: USS Nautilus. It was on a distress frequency. Drel swallowed and opened the channel. Lieutenant T’Paie–the ship’s Chief Engineer–appeared on the screen. Green blood matted the hair on the left side of her head and smoke billowed from damaged equipment somewhere behind her. “This is the USS Nautilus to any Starfleet vessel, we have lost shields and weapons and have been boarded by the Borg. We require immediate assistance.”
Drel cued the transmitter. “This is Lieutenant Carlin Drel aboard the USS Khitomer to the Nautilus. The situation is contained over here. What’s your situation? What’s the status of the Borg sphere?”
“The sphere was badly damaged and withdrew,” T’Paie reported. “Unfortunately, this ship was also badly damaged. I have lost contact with the Bridge and internal communications and sensors are offline. My staff and I have just repelled a Borg attack on Main Engineering.”
“I’ll be there as soon as I can, with whatever reinforcements I can muster. Drel out,” she closed the channel and looked to Commander Davis. “Are we within transporter range?”
“We are, just barely,” said Davis. “As for reinforcements, I don’t know who we can spare. Everything around here’s so scattered and we still have to rid this ship of the remaining Borg and make repairs.”
“I volunteer to go, sir,” said Ensign Shonos, standing tall. “Lieutenant Drel risked her life coming to the Khitomer to help save us, and she personally saved my life. The least I can do is return the favor.”
Drel thought the honor-bound Andorian had already repaid her, but she smiled and said nothing to that effect. “I’d be happy to have you, Ensign.”
Davis hesitated for a moment, then nodded. “Very well, Lieutenant, Ensign. Good luck to both of you. Transporter Room Six is just down that corridor there. I’ll have Chief Sherman beam you over immediately and follow you with a couple security teams as soon as we can put them together.”