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ASSAULT SHUTTLE FIVE
September 12th 2371 – 1204 FST
It had been incredibly easy to subdue the five senior officers inside the shuttle. Even now, the nanoprobes were working, and like him they would for the time being remain unchanged externally. Their duty now was to order those under their command to report to the base MedCentre for emergency inoculations, ostensibly to prevent contraction of disease in any of the disaster zones. Each batch however would be assimilated by the drones from the shuttle and the ranks of the Borg would swell.
He knew via the neural transceiver that the shuttles at Harriot and Bethel Ridge had also started their procedure but had lost all contact with the shuttle en route to Bayview. The only reason that would happen is if the team itself had been destroyed which gave his next mission greater urgency than ever.
Placing a comm through to the co-ordination centre aboard Angel
, he explained that he would be taking the shuttle to Zethander Dock to confer with controllers on the station about problems with arriving vessels in the chaos that had been wrought through the asteroid field. When he was told that General Mendark was at lunch and was asked if he wanted the message relaying immediately, he quickly assured the young sergeant that it wouldn’t be necessary and to wait until he returned. Every moment of stealth would be another closer to the completion of their mission.
Assault Shuttle Five lifted seconds later headed for the giant space dock above with a cargo of Borg drones.
September 12th 2371 – 1205 FST
“Lieutenant Ress!” Misaki called. “I’ve found Doctor Dorian!”
“How isss he?” Ress sounded much better for the treatment and rest and Misaki ran the palm beacon over Dorian’s prostrate form. Feeling for a pulse, she found it strong and steady but his leg was firmly pinned against the concrete beneath him by a reinforcing girder. As far as she could tell by feel alone, the leg wasn’t broken but until she could move the girder she couldn’t be sure.
“He’s alive and doesn’t appear to have any serious injuries but his leg is trapped.”
“One moment Ensssign and I’ll be with you.” Misaki thought better of reprimanding the Lieutenant again, and waited as he approached her.
Other than a limp, Ress seemed to be suffering no great after effects from the damage done to his leg. Misaki wasn’t sure whether that was due to her expertise or perhaps the Ch’Tharian healing process but either way she was grateful.
“If I can lever the girder up, I need you to pull the Doctor clear. Will that possse any threat?” As Ress searched for a lever, Misaki ran a manual check of the Doctor detecting no suspicious areas on his body where unseen injuries could be lurking.
“I believe not Lieutenant. The only possible injury I can detect without the tricorder is his leg.”
Ress returned with a length of support iron and placed it under the girder with a rock to act as a fulcrum. “In that cassse, on the count of three.”
Misaki grabbed Dorian’s hands and prepared to pull as Ress counted. “One, two, three!”
Ress bore down on the bar and the girder lifted, Misaki heaving with all her strength to drag Dorian clear before it fell again.
“Clear!” At Misaki’s call, Ress lowered the girder and sat back hissing in discomfort.
“I think perhapsss a little more analgesssic would be appropriate.”
As Misaki applied the hypospray, she warned him, “This will have to be the last shot Lieutenant. Any more and you will be out for the count.”
“Underssstood Ensssign,” he sighed as the pain killer began to reduce the throbbing from his leg. “How isss the Doctor?”
With the application of a stimulant, Dorian groaned as he stirred and tried to sit up.
“Doctor, please lie still for a moment. My tricorder is not working so I would like to perform a manual check?”
Dorian grinned lopsidedly. “I bet you say that to all the handsome doctors.”
“I will let you know if I meet one,” she replied, “for now please lie still!”
EN ROUTE TO BAYVIEW
September 12th 2371 – 1208 FST
“Mayday, mayday, mayday, this is Bayview Flight Lead. Assault Shuttle Three has just crashed at grid 443/27. Request Immediate Response Team.”
“Bayview Lead, this is
Angel co-ordination suite, copy your mayday call. Angel reports dispatch of IRT at this time.”
As Mo circled the wreckage, she realised that the IRT would probably have very little work to do when they arrived. The crash site was little more than a smoking crater and there had been no movement whatsoever visible through the billowing smoke.
Be advised that there appear to be no survivors following uncontrolled descent. Bayview Lead standing by.” Switching to the discrete frequency she called her wing man. “Chrome, I’m taking her down. Maintain an orbit for now.”
“Will do Lead.”
Mo gently set the Valkyrie
down upwind of the crash site, but as she cracked the overhead hatch she was still overwhelmed by the smell of burning wreckage and the sickly sweet smell of burnt flesh. It was one of her worst fears as a pilot, to be trapped in a burning craft and she tried to put the image out of her mind.
Overhead, the Militia Peregrine
wheeled in its wide orbit as they awaited the IRT.
ZETHANDER DOCK – DOCKING BAY 4
September 12th 2371 – 1212 FST
One of Fourteen had boosted the shuttle to Zethander Dock in a max rate climb that would have distressed any of the craft’s usual passengers, but the drones in the rear were unperturbed. As the craft settled to the deck in docking bay four, the dock superintendent strode out to meet it. One quickly exited and shook the short stocky man’s hand, outwardly the Militia Captain he had once been. As their hands clasped though, One placed an arm around his shoulders as if in hushed conversation and guided him towards the shuttle. The assimilation tubules penetrated the skin of the superintendent’s wrist and a rapid influx of Borg nanoprobes made him groan.
You are Borg. Our mission is your mission. Resistance is futile.
The statement was not vocal, but instead transmitted via the collective directly to the superintendent’s mind. He stiffened slightly as the remnants of his personality warred with the tide of nanoprobes but ultimately his assimilation, and thus his cooperation, was ensured.
You will inform the senior controllers that they are to attend an immediate conference here on the orders of General Mendark. You will also ask your senior transporter technician to attend.
The superintendent said nothing, for there was nothing he needed to say. Instead he left the docking bay to round up those that were required. One was satisfied and strolled nonchalantly over to the computer terminal in the superintendent’s office. Holding out his hand, the tubules sprang forth piercing the control interface and injecting specifically engineered nanoprobes into the system. By the time the superintendent returned, the station would already be prepared for his next move.
SCORPION – NULL NODE AREA
CLOSE TO ZETHANDER
September 12th 2371 – 1215 FST
Vonny was surprised that there was no hint of tiredness. She’d been aboard Scorpion
for almost twelve hours but the constant physical and intellectual challenge had kept her surprisingly fresh. When T’Sell had returned to Angel
, Vonny had sat for quite some while talking to Chariscarpia; about her homeworld, her journey, her mission and so much more.
Eventually the conversation had turned to the ship’s technology and in particular the drive that had powered Scorpion
across the galaxy for over four hundred years.
Chariscarpia smiled at Vonny’s enthusiasm and indicated that she should follow her.
“The drive was perfected shortly before we left Edrana, my homeworld. For many years the scientists had been working to harness the power of a molecule known as Shomach.” Chariscarpia paused for a moment. “I believe it translates in Federation standard as ultimate or perhaps powerful. It was the power source that would finally enable our race to expand into the galaxy.”
As Chariscarpia spoke, they first descended then travelled laterally in Scorpion’s equivalent of a turbolift, heading ultimately for the drive space.
“But doesn’t this power source need replenishing at all?”
Vonny couldn’t even begin to imagine the benefits something like this could provide to a civilisation.
Chariscarpia nodded. “In the beginning, the molecule was very unstable and it took almost a century of study to solve that one problem alone, but eventually the demon was tamed. It was not without loss however. There were accidents. Whether those losses justify the gains I cannot say.”
As they stepped out of the ‘lift and walked into the drive space, Vonny considered that. “It’s been much the same in the Federation Chariscarpia. Any advance has often demanded a price, but without those advances we wouldn’t be what we are today.”
Vonny stopped in her tracks as she stared around the room in surprise. Scorpion
was half again as large as Angel
, and yet the central drive room was perhaps half as big. “I assume there are separate drive rooms for the other nacelles?”
Chariscarpia seemed confused. “No not at all. This central nexus powers all six drives.”
Vonny looked carefully and saw that the central chamber, which equated to the Angel’
s warp core, indeed had six separate outlets that pulsed rhythmically. “Would you mind if I scanned and recorded this please?”
“By all means Ensign. One moment, I will remove the screen.”
“The screen? What’s that?” Vonny was slightly concerned that she was about to be exposed to ergs of…well of something.
Chariscarpia smiled at her perplexed expression. “Oh, no it is not a protective screen. It was decided to adopt a screen for our journey so that we could remain discrete in our mission. Because of the distinctive signature of the molecule and its particular operating frequencies, we would have been easily identifiable despite our…what do you term them, cloaking devices?” Vonny nodded, her apprehension easing. “It is similar in operation to what you have termed the null-node, allowing operation to continue, but concealing the signature.”
Vonny opened her tricorder as Chariscarpia closed her eyes to commune with the ship. A moment later, the lights in the room dimmed slightly and Vonny’s tricorder lit up like a Christmas tree. In the centre of the screen was one symbol. Ω.
September 12th 2371 – 1216 FST
Dorian was able to walk by himself now and he and Misaki took it in turns to support the recovering Ress. Despite their continued search, there had been no sign of Ensign Abramowitz, the final missing security officer. With regret, they decided it was likely that he had been lost down the same abyss as Marlow as they had been together at the collapse. Progress down the tunnel was slow, but as the section cluttered with detritus from the shattered ceiling receded behind them, they made better time.
Every so often, they would check both the tricorders and communicators but so far they had stubbornly refused to work. As they walked, they discussed possible reasons for the equipment failure ranging from an element in the sub-strata to fractured conduits exuding disruptive fields and much more.
“Whatever it is,” said Dorian as they rested briefly, “it’s obviously not clearing.”
Ress indicated the junction that they’d stopped at. “Then let’sss turn to a sssubject that we do have control over. Left or right?”
“It would appear that the right hand branch becomes narrower than the left.” Misaki panned her palm beacon in both directions. “Plus if my sense of direction is correct, the right hand branch heads towards the coastline.”
“A direction I sssugessst we avoid if posssible,” agreed Ress.
“Decision made then. Left it is.” Dorian stood and brushed pieces of ferrocrete from his hair and winced at the sound of ominous creaks and groans that had been a constant companion to their trek. “The sooner the better I think.”