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doublegoodprole May 26 2014 03:13 AM

Star Trek: The Worst of All Worlds
 
Prologue: "Turn The Page."


U.S.S. Enterprise-D, Stardate 43994.5 , Paulson Nebula

The senior officers of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D all sat around the table in the observation lounge, staring intently at a viewscreen depicting their recent encounter with the single Borg cube that had invaded Federation space.

“Time index five-one-four... Data started to fluctuate phaser resonance frequencies... the Borg's beam breaks contact...Freeze picture.” Lieutenant Commander Shelby, assigned to the Enterprise from Starfleet Tactical when the Borg made their appearance in Federation territory, briefly paused her analysis.

She glanced at the ranking officer in the room, First Officer William Riker. Shelby had requested that Captain Jean-Luc Picard attend the meeting, but he had deferred to Riker. This disappointed Shelby, who found Riker to be...less than decisive.

“Take a close look, Commander...Mister La Forge?”

The chief engineer of the Enterprise straightened in his chair. The viewscreen replayed the same time index, only slower. The Borg vessel‘s energy output appeared to wobble slightly. “There's a two percent power drop, just for an instant. But it's system-wide. The phaser frequency spread was in a high narrow band.”

“Conceivably, the ship's power distribution nodes are vulnerable to those frequencies,” said operations officer Lt. Commander Data.

La Forge nodded. “If we can generate a concentrated burst of energy with that same frequency distribution... I mean a lot more than anything our phasers or photon torpedos could provide.”

“How do we do that?” Riker interjected.

“The main deflector dish,” replied Ensign Wesley Crusher, resident ship’s genius and wunderkind.

“It's the only component of the Enterprise designed to channel that much power at controlled frequencies,” explained La Forge.

Shelby frowned and said, “Unfortunately, there is one slight detail -- in the process, the blast completely destroys the Enterprise as well.”

Riker thought about this for a moment. “But if we could get far enough away... increase the deflector range...”

Shelby nodded. “It could work. In the meantime, we should retune all phasers, including hand units, to the same frequency.”

Riker got up. “Proceed. I’ll inform the captain.”

Shelby then suggested separating the saucer section for its strategic value, namely to provide another moving target for the Borg. Riker demurred, as did Captain Picard when Shelby independently brought up her plan to him. The plan to modify the deflector dish went ahead as discussed.



U.S.S. Enterprise-D, Stardate 43998.5, several light years from the Wolf 359 system

It had been a rough day.

The Enterprise, forced out of the nebula by the Borg vessel's attacks, had been boarded by drones from the invading vessel. Inexplicably, the drones were able to capture Captain Picard and transport him back to the Borg vessel. With Picard on board, the cube warped off towards Sector 001 with the Enterprise in hot pursuit.

Catching up to the Borg cube, an away team had beamed aboard to retrieve the captain and hopefully slow the cube down so the Enterprise could deploy its new weapon. While they were able to do enough damage to force the Borg ship out of warp, Captain Picard was a different story. To their horror, they found he had been...changed.



Commander William Riker stood on the bridge of the Enterprise, anxiously awaiting word from the away team. As the Borg ship dropped out of warp, Shelby urgently requested a beam-out.

“Go to impulse,” Riker ordered. The away team completed their transport back to the Enterprise.

Riker continued, “Move us to within forty thousand kilometers, match velocity. Commence arming sequence...Increase deflector modulation to upper frequency band.”

The away team entered the bridge from the turbolift. Riker asked after the captain and Data responded, “Sir, Captain Picard has been altered by the Borg. We were unable to retrieve him.”

“Altered?”

At the tactical station, Lieutenant Worf growled, “He IS a Borg, sir.”

As Riker absorbed this news, Shelby said, “We’ll go back. I need more people. We need to retune the phasers.” She looked at Riker almost desperately. “We’ll get him out of there.”

From the aft engineering station, La Forge called out, “Commander, reading subspace fluctuations within the Borg ship. Looks like they’re regenerating, restoring power. They could be capable of warp any minute.”

Riker blinked. “Is the deflector ready?”

Geordi looked up and hesitated briefly before affirming, “Ready, sir.”

Chief Medical Officer Beverly Crusher, a member of the away team, moved closer to Riker. “Will, he’s alive. If we get him back, I might be able to restore--” Crusher looked down at the floor.

Deeply conflicted between his duty to the Federation and his loyalty to Picard, Riker replied, “This is our only chance to destroy them. If they get back into warp, our weapon becomes useless.”

“We’ll go back,” Shelby repeated. “We’ll sabotage them again if we have to.”

Riker shook his head. “We can’t maintain pursuit. We don’t have the power.” Riker wished with all his might that he did not have to do what he knew must be done. “Prepare to fire,” he ordered.

“At least consult with Starfleet Command!” Shelby objected angrily. She looked over at Lt. Worf. “Get Admiral Hanson on subspace.”

“Belay that order, Lieutenant,” Riker barked. “There’s no time.”

At Tactical, Worf saw an incoming signal. “Sir,” he called out to Riker, “we are being hailed by the Borg.”

That was unexpected. Riker replied, “On screen.”

The alien, yet somehow familiar long, dark metallic corridor of the Borg vessel’s interior appeared on the viewscreen. Riker waited for the cold, impersonal voice of the Borg vessel to speak, but then...

Picard.

But it wasn’t Picard, it was Picard-as-Borg, Picard as grotesquerie. Riker was deeply horrified at what he saw.

And then it spoke.

“I am Locutus of Borg,” Picard-Borg said, in a voice that was clearly his own but tinged with whatever made the Borg so...Borg. “Resistance is futile. Your life as it has been is over. From this time forward, you will service...us.”

Riker stared at the screen, years of memories flooding into his mind’s eye. There was nothing he could do. His heart beat in his chest like a drum.

“Mr. Worf,” Riker said in a level tone, still staring at the monster on the screen, “...Fire.”



At forty thousand kilometers, the blast from the Enterprise’s deflector dish would have impacted the Borg cube without creating a feedback loop, which would have destroyed the Starfleet vessel. Of course, as Picard had been notified of the plan to weaponize the deflector dish before his capture, it was an unnecessary show of force. Having adapted in advance, The Borg vessel would shrug off the attack and leave the Enterprise damaged and drifting, with the crew struggling to repair the vessel enough to get back in the battle.

But somehow, a mistake was made. Consider the pressure aboard the bridge as the countdown to fire the new weapon began. The captain was gone, the enemy was powerful and implacable, and the terror was raw and palpable.

Somehow, a mistake was made.

When Riker gave his fateful order to fire, the Enterprise was less than thirty-five thousand kilometers away from the Borg cube. Not much of a difference, but enough. As Locutus of Borg watched the blast harmlessly strike the Borg cube, a feedback event was created and the power buildup in the Enterprise’s deflector dish grew recklessly out of control. There was no time to compensate, no time to separate the saucer or quickly abandon ship. As Locutus of Borg watched, the U.S.S. Enterprise-D exploded into a shower of plasma particles, a glory of light and energy.

Locutus stared ahead passively Picard screamed and transmitted an order to the rest of the collective: Proceed to fleet rendezvous at Wolf 359, and then on to Sol System.

The Borg vessel warped away, the remains of the Enterprise-D and its crew still floating harmlessly through space.


***


The Borg cube was eventually destroyed, of course. The United Federation of Planets was not, after all, what one would call a small interstellar civilization. Even the incredible might of a single Borg vessel was insignificant next to the overall strength the Federation could eventually bring to bear.

Eventually.

But even in victory, the losses were staggering: over a billion dead or irretrievably assimilated on Earth and in near-earth space, over two hundred starships and supply vessels from all over the Federation lost...and then of course there were the thirty nine starships destroyed at the Battle of Wolf 359...not to mention the U.S.S. Lalo, the New Providence colony, and of course the Enterprise-D.

It had taken three and a half months to finally destroy the cube. The Federation Fifth and Eighth Fleets had entered Sol system on Stardate 44303.2 and engaged the Borg vessel above the skies of Earth. Below, on the surface, swarms of Borg roamed the planet almost at will. The invaders were tasked with the mission of integrating the human race into the Borg Collective. With their orbital defenses destroyed and most ground forces neutralized, the overall populace of Earth was almost completely cowed. The assimilation process met next to no organized resistance anywhere on the planet besides San Francisco, where Starfleet Academy was located. The city was destroyed.

The battle in space lasted nearly three days. All attempts to defeat the Borg with conventional strategy failed. As the battle entered its final phase, it appeared as if the Borg would win another decisive victory as Federation losses continued to mount. Finally, the Vulcan captain of a severely damaged Galaxy-class starship made the logical choice and rammed the Borg cube just as the warp core was set to explode. Three other smaller ships facing imminent destruction followed suit, and that was the end. The Borg cube lost any significant ability to regenerate and the Federation armada let loose devastating volleys of phaser and photon torpedo fire. Within minutes, the cube was nothing more than a spectacular meteor shower in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The clean-up on Earth proved easier, but much more tragic. Starfleet Marines from other, less utopian worlds led the charge to beat back the Borg ground invasion. Here, numbers and simple physics proved decisive. The Borg were severely outnumbered and, even with their ability to adapt to weaponry, unable to cope with the kinetic energy of the firepower unleashed upon them by the vengeful Starfleet military forces. Sadly, considering the Borg could or would not surrender, many of the recently assimilated humans--now also Borg foot soldiers--ended up as unwilling casualties of the short, vicious war.

The Borg drones Starfleet was able to capture proved impervious to de-assimilation. With enough physical intervention, the drones would subconsciously activate a self-destruct sequence that killed enough personnel to warrant a quick change in policy. Following cessation of hostilities, the remaining Borg that had been neutralized were simply destroyed. The risk of keeping them alive was too great, the sacrifices already made too many.

There was one exception.

doublegoodprole May 26 2014 10:22 PM

Re: Star Trek: The Worst of All Worlds
 
Chapter One: In Purgatory's Shadow



U.S.S. Trieste, Stardate 44608.4, inside Federation space


Jean-Luc Picard did not want to see the stars anymore.

In this cabin on board this small, cramped ship--which was a generous term, for it was in fact a cell--Jean-Luc Picard nonetheless had a beautiful view of the universe at warp speed, stars streaking by against the black canvas of space. And he wanted none of it. The sight of space, of stars, of the very concept of travel through the interstellar medium sickened him.

The cabin door chimed. “Go away,” Picard muttered.

The door opened with a quiet ‘whoosh.' The ship’s chief medical officer, Dr. Henry Armstrong, stepped in past the two burly Starfleet guards posted at the door for ‘safety.’

“Good morning, Jean-Luc,” Dr. Armstrong said softly. “How do you feel?”

Picard, sitting awkwardly on his cot, looked up at the tall, balding human male in front of him. “How do I feel?” He snorted derisively. “Almost human...with just a bit of a headache.”

In an instant Armstrong was hovering over him with a medical tricorder. The doctor moved the device over Picard’s head, where only two small metallic remnants of his time as a Borg remained grafted onto his skull. “Hmm,” the doctor murmured. “The implants have mostly healed. I’m not sure why you would be experiencing pain, but I can give you an analgesic if you like.”

“No,” Picard muttered. “Thank you doctor, but no.” He waved the doctor and his device away. Dr. Armstrong stepped back, pursed his lips, and attached the tricorder to his utility belt.

“I’d say your recovery is coming along nicely,” said Armstrong. “Would you feel up to speaking with a visitor today?”

“Do I have a choice?”

Armstrong shrugged. “I’m the CMO. If I say you’re not up to it, you’re not up to it. But I think you should make that decision.”

Picard nodded. As much as the thought of talking to other people filled him with revulsion, he was in no position to make demands. “Yes, doctor. Very well. I will receive the visitor.” Yes. He would receive the visitor, as if he was someone important, someone worth visiting.

“As you wish.” The doctor made as if to leave. “One thing though, Jean-Luc. If, during the course of your conversation with the...visitor, your vital signs fluctuate in any significant way, that’s it. The conversation ends.”

Picard stared blankly at the doctor. Why did he persist in being so damned sympathetic? “Thank you, doctor. I shall endeavor to remain calm,” he said in a quiet, measured voice. What was the use?

Armstrong smiled perfunctorily, turned, and left the room. Picard got up from his cot and looked out at the stars for a moment. Sickening.




Several hours later, Picard’s door chimed again. Picard sat at a table facing away from the window and said quietly, “enter.”

A man in a crisp Starfleet uniform entered. Picard noted the bar on the man’s collar; he was a fleet captain and so outranked Picard. I should stand, Picard thought. But then again, am I really a Starfleet officer anymore?

“Captain Picard,” the man said. “My name is Luther Sloan. I am the deputy director, Starfleet Internal Affairs.”

This is more like it, Picard thought. No more ‘debriefings’ or ‘informal talks’ or, worst of all, ‘counseling sessions’. Finally, what he deserved: an interrogation.

Picard finally stood. Even after all he had experienced, his sense of courtesy remained strong. “Deputy Director Sloan,” he acknowledged. “Would you like some tea, sir?”

“No thank you,” the man replied. “And for convenience’s sake, let’s drop the ranks, shall we? You may simply call me ‘Sloan.’

Picard motioned to the other chair at the table and sat back down. “Very well then, Sloan. Please, have a seat.”

“Thank you.” Picard noted that Sloan had no PADD, no way to take notes, no obvious recording device. Interesting.

“How are you finding your accommodations?” Sloan asked.

“Suitable.” Except for the damned window.

As if on cue, Sloan looked out the same window. “You have been in space continuously since leaving Earth. That’s nearly three months now.”

“Yes. The captain of this vessel informs me it is for my safety.”

“Do you agree?”

Picard frowned. “Do I agree that my safety is a concern?”

“Yes.”

Picard sighed. “I don’t know. Considering the circumstances, one cannot help but assume that is the case. Based on the events of this past year, I cannot imagine I would be welcome on any Federation world.”

“Because of what you did as Locutus,” Sloan said.

Picard winced at the mention of the name. “Indeed.”

Sloan was quiet for a moment, and then suddenly launched into a question. “According to your testimony, your ship was boarded by the Borg shortly after leaving the, uh, Paulson Nebula. Tell me, how did such an egregious security breach take place aboard the flagship of the Federation?”

Picard was momentarily taken aback, despite long, long nights of asking himself this and other similar questions. Up to now, all of his ‘visitors’ had been so concerned with preserving his ‘feelings’ and ‘self-esteem’ that all of the hard questions had been left to Picard himself. And now--now, someone was finally asking them.

“The easy answer, I believe, is that we were not prepared for the Borg to present with ability to beam through our shields,” Picard replied. “But the real answer, I believe, is that I was overconfident.”

“Overconfident?”

“Yes, sir. The Borg had demanded I personally beam to their ship during our first engagement with them, prior to the--” Picard had trouble saying the name--”Enterprise entering the nebula. I did not think at any point that the Borg would be able to penetrate our defenses and force my compliance with their directive to personally surrender.”

“So not overconfidence in yourself,” Sloan said, “but overconfidence in your ship? In your crew?”

Picard shook his head vigorously. “No! No. My ship could not match the Borg’s technology. My crew only did as ordered. I should have--I should have ordered extra security to the bridge. I should have taken more precautions. I should have--”

Sloan held up his hand. “Picard. Enough.”

Breathing heavily, Picard bowed his head. Sloan continued, “From what we have been able to gather, you were in a no-win situation. As far as we can tell, the Borg were determined to have a human, um, representative directing their assault on Earth. Considering you were the one who made first contact with the Borg, it made sense for them to want you. Captain of the flagship, etc. etc. No one would have expected you to surrender yourself willingly; that would have been a dereliction of duty, would it not?”

Picard looked up. “Yes. At least, I thought so.”

“Which leads to your supposed lack of preparation for a Borg incursion onto the Enterprise once you knew of their personal interest in you,” Sloan said. “I believe you could have surrounded yourself with a hundred Klingon warriors and the Borg still would have made off with you. No. My question is not how you allowed such an egregious security breach, Picard. My question is how did they do it?”

Picard swallowed hard. “As I said, sir, we were not prepared for the Borg to possess the ability--”

“No!" Sloan slammed the table. “Once you were altered, once you were...assimilated, you could interface with them. You knew how to stop everything. Every defense we had, everything we threw at them, you knew how to stop. There isn’t a single race in the Alpha Quadrant than can penetrate our shields with transporter technology--believe me, they’ve tried. And yet the Borg did it with ease. We need to know how. And that’s not all. We need to know all of their capabilities.”

“And you expect me to just have that information available to you?” Picard cried. “If it were that easy, do you not think I would have simply volunteered it the moment I was myself again? The moment I realized I was no longer...one of them?”

“Until now, Picard,” Sloan said quietly, “you have been under the care of an organization that believes wholeheartedly that your actions as Locutus were not those of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. But...but you and I know better, don’t we? We know that you were in there the whole time...thinking...feeling...”

“FIGHTING!” Picard cried, his voice breaking. “Trying everything I could to FIGHT THEM! To STOP THEM! Don’t you see....” His voice broke off, and he began to sob.

After a long moment Sloan said, “I believe you, Picard. I believe you are a good man, loyal to the Federation. But I believe you remember more than you want to think you do. I think that despite Starfleet Medical’s efforts to rehabilitate you, part of you still is and will always be Borg.”

“No,” Picard said weakly, trying desperately to recover his composure. “The link was broken. I--”

“HOW DID THEY BREACH YOUR SHIELDS, PICARD?” Sloan slammed the table with both fists. “TELL ME!”

“I DON’T KNOW!”

Sloan reached inside his tunic and took out a device that looked like an old-fashioned isolinear computer chip. He pointed to Picard’s head. “Attach this to the node on your temple, Picard. Do it. Do it now.”

Picard reached over and picked up the device. He attached it to the small piece of metal affixed to his temple, as ordered.

Sloan took out another device from his tunic, what looked like a small tricorder, and pressed something on it. He said: “All right, Picard. How did the Borg breach the Enterprise’s shields?”

Picard stared at Sloan and said tonelessly, “We remotely adjust shield harmonics using technology acquired from Species 2891 and adjust our transporter functions accordingly.”

Sloan sat back and regarded Picard. “Well. That was easy.”

“Stop,” Picard whispered. “I hear them.”

Sloan pressed something on his device again and Picard slumped in his chair. “Thank you."

Sloan regarded Picard thoughtfully. "When I turned on the device, what did you hear?"

"I heard them. The Borg. I heard their...voices.”

“Yes,” Sloan said knowingly.

“No,” Picard whispered.

“You want to be punished, Picard,” Sloan said in a hushed voice. “You hate all these Starfleet doctors and counselors telling you how nothing is your fault, how everything will be all right, how--”

‘Not this,” Picard said. “Please don’t make me do this. I cannot...I cannot live with them inside my head anymore--”

“It’s not permanent, Picard,” Sloan said assuredly. “All we need to do is glean what information we can out of you to prevent the Borg from ever hurting us again. You have seen that we can turn the voices on and off. Now, it won’t be pleasant, but after everything that has happened to us, don’t you think it’s worth it?”

Picard sat still for a moment, and then nodded slowly. “I...I don't...Yes. Yes, I suppose it is.”

Satisfied, Sloan sat back in this chair. “Do you know why you’re really on this ship, Picard? I'll tell you. To protect you from me. From the organization I truly represent.” He laughed. “Even now, even while under the impression a senior Starfleet officer is conducting important business with you, they continue to monitor your vital signs for hints of stress. Stress! As if that is the most important concern right now--Making sure you’re comfortable!”

“Who...who are you?” Picard stuttered. “Who do you represent?”

“Well, it’s not Starfleet,” Sloan replied, “but we’re just as committed to preserving the Federation as they. Even more so, actually. And now that we finally have you, we are going to do what it takes to make sure the Borg pay for what they’ve done. And they must pay, Picard. Wouldn’t you agree?” Sloan leaned forward and looked straight into Picard’s eyes. “They must pay.”

And for the first time in what felt like an eternity, Picard felt something other than despair and self-loathing.

“Yes. Yes. They must pay.”

Sloan stood up. “My crew has taken control of this vessel and we are en route to a more...strategic location. I will be back to talk with you later.”

Picard knew he should be concerned, that this was not right, that Sloan was--but no. He couldn’t. He wasn’t a Starfleet officer. This wasn’t his ship, or his crew. They...they were gone.

“In the meantime,” Sloan said, “can I get you anything, Picard?”

“Yes,” Picard said quietly. “A room without a view.”

Smellincoffee June 4 2014 05:24 PM

Re: Star Trek: The Worst of All Worlds
 
(Was my previous reply deleted ,or did I just forget to hit "post"? :lol:)

This is a superb premise. I can't wait to see where it goes.

(Poor Picard, though..)

Timewalker June 9 2014 10:12 AM

Re: Star Trek: The Worst of All Worlds
 
This is excellent. More, please! :)


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