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September 12th 2371 – 1112 FST
Misaki fumbled for her palm beacon in the swirling dust laden air and eventually managed to twist it back into place on her wrist. The bright beams lanced through the clouds of fine powder thrown up in the wake of the collapse and she turned them back and forth desperately seeking the other away team members.
To one side she heard a panicked shout and turning the beam she saw Lieutenant Alyson Marlow desperately scrabbling for purchase as she slid backwards towards an open black chasm. Misaki threw herself forward managing to catch Marlow’s sleeve but the very powder that was making visibility and breathing so difficult also made her own grip on the slab perilous.
Swinging her leg to the side she managed to catch an upright bar with her foot but realised it was a battle she would rapidly lose without help.
“Lieutenant Ress! Doctor! Anybody, quickly please help!!”
She heard movement somewhere behind her at the same moment she heard the tearing of material. Marlow’s already torn sleeve parted where it met the body and despite Misaki’s desperate grab for her hand it was too late. Marlow’s arm slid from the sleeve and she fell back screaming into the stygian gloom.
Had it not been for the large hand that clamped around her ankle, Misaki may well have followed as her foot finally lost its tenuous grip on the pole. She turned gratefully to her rescuer but what she saw made her eyes go wide.
TANGO CONTROL – SERVICE DUCTS
September 12th 2371 – 1120 FST
Petrov lay with her eyes closed and listened to the silence. Perhaps when she opened them, she would find that it had all been a bad dream. The Borg, her escape into the ducts, everything. She would awaken properly in her own room and chide herself for her childish nightmares. She might have lain there much longer if one of the ever present rodents hadn’t chosen that moment to run across her arm. Lacking even the energy to react to its panicked passing, she instead began to quietly sob as the reality of her desperate situation finally returned.
I can lay here and die or I can get to the surface and expect much the same thing. At least here I won’t become an abomination.
Her lurid imaginings ceased abruptly as she suddenly realised she could feel a slight breeze. Turning her head, the breeze ceased and she realised that perhaps the only reason she had felt it in the first place was the wet tears on her face. Scrabbling to all fours she turned her face until the gentle draught of air cooled her skin again.
Her morbid fears of just moments before were swept aside at the sudden chance for freedom. They will not have me!
She promised herself, slowly crawling forwards on her hands and knees. They…will…not!
ZETHANDER SPACEPORT – MILITIA AEROSPACE UNIT BASE OPERATIONS
September 12th 2371 – 1137 FST
“I think it would provide some good flight practice Sir, though obviously the mission takes priority right now.”
“I get the feeling”, said Captain Fishlock, “that you and Lieutenant Richmond just want to show off with your shiny new toys.”
He smiled and held up his hands in surrender. “Just kidding. I’ll get Commander O’Hara down to co-ordinate something and for the record I agree, it could be very useful.”
“Thank you Sir, I’ll let Commander Escher know.”
“In the meantime Lieutenant, there’s no harm in taking part in co-ordinated operations with the Militia. I’ll clear it with General Mendark; if we need you back up here control reverts to
“Understood Sir, thank you.”
“No showboating Lieutenant, Fishlock out.”
Mo turned to smile at Homer. “Looks like we have a mission my man!”
Homer, however, was already on his way out of the office to find the young Militia Commander.
By the time Mo caught up with him, she heard the tail end of the conversation.
“…so no air to air practice sorties yet but we get to fly with you on planned missions!”
Mo shrugged apologetically for Homer’s enthusiasm, though secretly she was just as excited to be involved.
“Actually, General Mendark just called from Angel
. Apparently we’ve just been tasked to fly escort on four separate sorties if you’re interested?”
Homer’s face fell slightly. “Escort?” He’d been hoping for something a little more intense, but a mission was a mission after all. “Ok let’s brief!”
As Escher followed from behind her desk, she whispered to Mo “Is he always like this?”
Mo shook her head. “Just on his good days.”
September 12th 2371 – 1140 FST
With the majority of Tango now shut down, One of Fourteen Ran outside to the assault shuttle waiting to take him and the secreted Borg drones to Haven. He watched as the other three shuttles lifted for their own destinations before climbing through into the cockpit.
The drone in the pilot’s chair pointed to the comm which flashed MESSAGE WAITING
and One picked it up, ensuring that the Borg pilot was out of pickup range.
The face of General Mendark appeared in the pre recorded message. “Tom, I realise you’re busy right now but you’ll be glad to know I’ve assigned escorts for the four shuttles. I know you’re not expecting trouble but it gives us more eyes in the air. Update me when you can, Mendark out.”
It was a complication that One could have done without, but it didn’t change the mission. He simply ordered the Borg pilot into the rear compartment and took the controls himself. Through the Collective link he ordered the other three shuttles to take similar precautions leaving just the externally unaltered drones in the cockpit. Once at their individual targets, the escorts could be ordered out of range to perform reconnaissance while the drones disembarked.
No, nothing had changed. Resistance was futile.
September 12th 2371 – 1143 FST
Misaki’s initial horror at Ress’ injury was quickly replaced by professional calm as she used tissue and bone regenerators on his shattered leg. How he’d managed to drag himself across to where she was struggling with Marlow she would never know, but she was grateful for his resilience.
After making sure that Ress was comfortable, she left him to contact the runabout for assistance while she continued searching for the other away team members.
Her tricorder was currently refusing to scan at all, simply reporting that it was experiencing strong local interference. Oh well, eyes were invented before tricorders she thought. “Lieutenant Ress, you had better advise the Galen
that we are having problems with tricorder scans down here.”
“I am assuming it isss the sssame interference that isss blocking communicationsss.” He tapped his commbadge and the desultory ‘no connection’ chirp indicated that for now they were on their own. “I will help you…”
“No Lieutenant. You will sit down and rest your leg.” Misaki realised she had just snapped at a senior officer and was about to apologise when Ress grinned at her.
“My apologiesss Ensssign, you are quite correct.”
She hoped the grime covering her face at least obscured her blush. Drawing her phaser, she stepped carefully into the darkness and hoped against hope that she would discover more of the team.
USS GALEN – CENTRAL PARK
September 12th 2371 – 1145 FST
Lieutenant Emmett Andrews was taking the time afforded by his enforced stay aboard the Galen to catch up on his personal comms. He’d been fully intending to reply to Miranda last night when this whole mess had kicked off and he figured he ought to at least shoot off a short reply to her before she got into one of those moods again. The last one had lasted almost a week.
Hearing movement behind him, he called back as he continued with his short letter. “Don’t tell me Marco, even though it’s only the fourth time you’ve checked it its still all working back there?”
Instead of the exasperated reply he’d come to expect from the young combat medic, a hand grabbed him by the hair pulling his head back and exposing his throat. He barely had time to draw breath let alone scream as the assimilation tubules penetrated his skin.
His PADD clattered to the deck and his girlfriend would never get to read his apology.
ASSAULT SHUTTLE 5
EN ROUTE TO HAVEN
September 12th 2371 – 1152 FST
The Borg plan required two things, stealth and time. The intention was that the use of the first would gain enough of the latter that once their forces were large enough in number, they could escape the confines of the planet.
One was already aware of the group of Borg from the destroyed cube that had washed ashore in Coral City. Currently hidden in the subterranean caves that riddled that part of the coast and hidden behind sensor blocks, he had just received information that they had taken a Federation runabout. It was a move that he considered to be foolhardy but the group in question was under the command of another and therefore not his responsibility. As long as they maintained a low profile long enough for him to complete his mission, then the ship might prove useful.
With Haven in sight, he placed a communication to the garrison commander requesting that he be met on landing by the senior officers for an on site briefing. Their assimilation would just be the start.
EN ROUTE TO HAVEN
September 12th 2371 – 1152 FST
“Assault Shuttle Five, this is Haven Flight checking in.”
Homer looked across from his seat and saw the shuttle pilot wave to him and he returned the salute. To the other side, Gabby Escher had taken her place on the shuttle’s starboard wing.
“Haven Flight, this is Assault Shuttle Five. Thanks for the escort. Have you received any further instructions?”
“Negative Five, do you want us to check in with ops?”
Escher wasn’t exactly sure what other orders there could be.
There was a slight pause before the assault shuttle pilot replied.
“Ah negative Haven Flight. This is Callsign Raven requesting authentication Delta Delta Four Echo?”
Raven? That’s Captain Rousseau’s personal callsign she thought. Tapping the day’s authentication code into her computer it responded with a confirmed ID of Captain Thomas Rousseau. “That callsign identified Raven. Do you have further orders?”
She knew that the next step above Rousseau was General Mendark himself, and with the callsign verified, the chain of command meant she would naturally accept orders directly.
“Affirmative Haven Flight. After we’ve landed I need a reconnaissance of the area around Haven for possible impact sites. Work inwards from the suburbs and then route your report on any possible problems directly to Condor on
“That’s copied Raven.” Escher switched to the discrete frequency shared between the two fighters. “Did you copy all that Homer?”
Homer brought up a map of Haven and its surrounding area. “Looks like there’s several small impact sites already marked.”
“Ok, once the shuttle’s down, you take up position north and I’ll take south. We’ll spin in clockwise and call out if we spot a problem.”
“Sounds like a plan Blackjack.”
As the shuttle began its descent for Haven, Homer put the escort mission out of his mind to begin setting up his search pattern.
September 12th 2371 – 1153 FST
As the dust began to settle and her eyes became used to the darkness, Misaki could see they were in a horizontal tunnel that appeared natural in origin. Behind her was the falloff into darkness that effectively blocked any progression in that direction, and ahead, the tunnel appeared to bend to the left before fading into the blackness. The hole through which they had fallen was some twenty metres overhead and thus offered no escape route. With communications seemingly blocked, it would be unlikely that they would be transported out either. For now, they were on their own.
Working outwards from where she had left Ress, she performed a circular search using his palm beacon as a reference point. It had taken her just ten minutes to find Lieutenants Arkaran and Medway, or at least what remains she could identify protruding from beneath the slab of ferrocrete that had ended their lives.
Leaning against a rock she felt a moment of dizziness and concentrated hard to stay upright. Witnessing the death or injury of a stranger was one thing, and something that her training had enabled her to deal with but the loss of a colleague was something else. First Buster, now more. Act first, deal with your emotions later
she commanded herself. There was still Abramowitz, the third security officer, and Lieutenant Dorian to find.
Standing carefully, she took one final draw of dusty air and continued her search.
EN ROUTE TO BAYVIEW
September 12th 2371 – 1201 FST
Mo throttled back slightly as the Militia shuttle bobbed and dipped. While she knew the air over the foothills was choppy with rising thermals, it still looked like there was a rookie pilot in the shuttle. She’d already dropped out to port to give herself some manoeuvring space and opened up the discrete frequency to her wing man to advise the same.
“Chrome, this is Mo, suggest you space out another twenty metres or so. Looks like the shuttle pilots not doing so well.”
The Denobulan whose callsign was Chrome chuckled. “That’s what you get when you give land types an airborne job.”
Mo smiled. It seemed like any military she’d ever known; there was the usual friendly rivalry between air and ground forces that always seemed to disappear when it came to combat. As she’d chatted with the Militia squadron pilots during the briefing, she’d found them to be friendly and receptive despite the circumstances and she was looking forward to an ease in the pressure that would allow them some training time.
Glancing out of her cockpit window, she watched as the Militia Peregrine
side slipped out to starboard and then turned her attention back to the shuttle.
“Assault Shuttle Three this is Bayview Lead, do you want a little more altitude to clear these thermals?”
There was no response from the shuttle and at first she thought it might have been that with damaged pride, the rookie would try and ride it out. She was sure his passengers wouldn’t be impressed, though that wasn’t her problem. But then she realised that the shuttle’s oscillations in the rough air were becoming worse.
“Chrome, I think our shuttle’s got real problems here. Climb and monitor.”
nosed up and away from the shuttle to take a position some one hundred metres higher. Mo meanwhile edged in closer. Perhaps they’ve lost comms she thought. Waggling her wings she tried to attract the shuttle pilot’s attention but it seemed his concentration was solely in the cockpit.
It was without warning that the shuttle suddenly nosed over and began plummeting to the ground some 500 metres below.
TANGO CONTROL – SERVICE DUCTS
September 12th 2371 – 1203 FST
After more dead ends, bruised limbs and use of profanities than she’d ever experienced in her life, Petrov finally rounded a bend in the duct to see dim light ahead. Quickening her crawl, she eventually reached a twisted panel where shifting earth had tried to crush the duct then fallen away as pressures changed. She placed an eye against the crack and saw that beyond the plate was a dimly lit corridor she recognised as leading to the transport pool.
She ran her hands over the floor of the duct eventually finding the remnants of a metal support bracket. Placing it in the gap she gave a small pull and the panel creaked alarmingly, but gave a small amount. Realising that working slowly would probably make more noise than getting the job done quickly, she braced her feet against either side of the panel and heaved. With a clang that she thought every Borg in the Quadrant would hear, the panel dropped out into the corridor and she was free. Stunned for a moment at the sudden change in her status, she sat and almost began laughing at herself. Dressed in just her underwear and covered in grime, she lowered herself to the corridor floor and immediately headed towards the transport pool.
Each junction she approached, she slowed and listened but heard none of the heavy footfalls or whirring servos that would announce the presence of a Borg drone and by the time she reached the door of the pool, she was becoming convinced that she had imagined the whole thing.
she thought. I know what I saw and heard. I did not imagine this.
When the door to the pool opened, confirmation of the fact lay at her feet in the form of a dismembered mechanic. It was all she could do not to scream out loud at the sight. Quickly stepping over the prostrate form without looking down, she ran over to the line of vehicles and checked each one, only to find that they were all unserviceable in one form or another.
She ran on past the final vehicle, heedless of the rough ground beneath her unprotected feet and stopped to look out of the grime encrusted panel by the main door. There, across the maintenance yard by the HazTeam barracks, sat a Rhino
with its front ramp lowered. There was no sign of movement around the vehicle, but Petrov froze. They could be anywhere!
She realised her final reserves of courage and strength were about to desert her and if she didn’t move now, she might never have the courage to do so. Screwing up her last dregs of nerve, she palmed open the door and ran full tilt across the yard making no attempt at concealment. It was a shock then when her feet hit the ramp of the Rhino
and she plunged inside to end up in a heap by the commander’s seat.
Picking herself up she leapt into the driver’s position and studied the panel. It seemed as if somebody had tried to wreck it and yet the only major damage appeared to be to the comms unit. Other readouts were broken and dark but reaching down she almost laughed out loud when the front ramp closed at her command.
Cranking the seat up so that she could see through the three small screens above her, she ran the start-up sequence and was gratified that not only did the Rhino
start first time, but that there still seemed to be no reaction to her appearance. Engaging the drive, she floored the pedal and the eight wheel behemoth with its multi wheel steering almost spun in its own length as she steered it towards the exit, the force field no longer active.
Hitting the highway outside Tango Control, she turned east knowing that there was a garrison at Widemeadow but she eased off the accelerator as she suddenly considered the ramifications.
She’d been trapped in the ducts since midnight the night before. If the Borg had managed to take Tango Control, what about Widemeadow? Was there anywhere safe? She passed by the sign indicating the Widemeadow exit and once again opened the power to the electric motors as she saw the indicator for Rainbow Mountain. If that wasn’t safe, then she honestly didn’t have any hope left.