November Wrting Challenge: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
"Into that good night," by Garm Bel Iblis
“Regeneration cycle complete,” the computer stated flatly.
The former drone stepped out of her alcove and touched her combadge. “Daily log, Seven of Nine, Stardate 51995.4. It has been fifty seven hours since Voyager’s foray back into Borg space to rescue Captain Janeway and myself from the Dauntless. In that time I have finally come to the realization that while Borg, I have no place there. Voyager is my collective now. Today’s activities include my standard shift in Astrometrics, assisting Lieutenant Torres with the slipstream diagnostics and a social lesson with the Doctor. End log.”
As she terminated the connection she heard the voice in her mind.
You are Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.
Seven staggered, grabbing a cargo crate to keep from falling to the deck. “Seven of Nine to the Bridge,” she snapped, slapping her combadge.
“Go ahead, Seven,” Chakotay’s voice reverberated off the cold walls of the bay.
“Commander, the Borg are near. I recommend holding this position until we can find them.”
- - -
Chakotay looked to Tuvok at Tactical. The Vulcan consulted his board then looked back to the first officer, shaking his head.
“We’re not picking up anything on sensors,” Chakotay said. “What makes you think they’re close by?”
“I can hear them,”
Chakotay glanced back to the tactical officer. “Head down to Astrometrics. Run some scans and get back to me. We’ll hold her for the time being. Chakotay out.” When the com line terminated, he turned to Knowels at the conn. “All stop, Ensign. Chakotay to the captain. Please report to Astrometrics.” As he headed for the lift, he gave the bridge to Tuvok.
- - -
Seven operated the master display of the Astrometic imaging array with a grace and skill that Kathryn Janeway envied. The former drone had, with the help of Harry Kim, designed this lab from scratch several months ago. Using the center of the galaxy as a focal point, the deep space imaging system scanned all visible stars in range, creating a more accurate representation of space ahead.
Seven zoomed into quadrant 01465. “Here,” she said. A virtual representation of a Sato-Class Nebula took shape. “The Astrometic array has detected a series of triquantum waves converging on this nebula.”
“Triquantum waves?” asked Chakotay.
“The residual charge of energy expelled by a transwarp conduit,” Seven sad. “Given the number of waves that I am detecting, there could be as many as eleven hundred Borg vessels in the nebula.”
Janeway stood up straight. “How far away is the nebula?”
“Forty seven light-years,” Seven stated. “I recommend proceeding along this course.” A red line extended from Voyager’s current position to a galactic south direction. “It is a significant detour and there are a large number of obstacles in our path. Ion storms, asteroid belts, particle fountains.”
“Sounds a lot better than the hive,” Chakotay muttered.
Janeway looked over the course correction. “Transfer the coordinates to the helm,” she said. “Chakotay, let B’Elanna know to cut our outgoing power emissions as much as possible. I don’t want to show up on that Borg armada’s long-range scanners.”
Chakotay acknowledged and headed for the engine room. The captain turned back to Seven. “Any idea why they’d be massing out here and hiding their presence?”
“No,” Seven said calmly. “The Borg never have reason to hide their activities.”
“Maybe the war with Species 8472 has them spooked.”
“Perhaps.” It’d been barely ten months since the year-long conflict that had ravaged the Collective had ended. “However, the Borg only mass in such numbers when they are encroaching on a civilization that spans thousands of light-years.”
“Have we picked up anything like that?”
Seven consulted the astrometric charts of the region ahead. “The largest concentration is twenty five light years distant. Species 558, the Xentari. They were first encountered by the Borg two hundred thirty seven years ago. They’re reach spans seven thousand light-years encompassing eight five planets. They have resisted all attempts at assimilation.”
“Looks like their time’s about up, we’re going to miss the party this time. Keep an eye on them as long as we’re within range.”
“Aye, Captain,” Seven replied.
The captain left and Seven was once again alone. The voice of the Collective still echoed in her mind. They were so close… She staggered again, overwhelmed. “Seven of Nine to the Doctor. Please report to Astrometrics immediately.”
- - - -
Passing the tricorder over Seven, the Doctor grimaced. “How long have you been experiencing this disorientation?”
Seven was now seated on the short steps leading up the main astrometric viewscreen looked visibly shaken. “Since the Borg armada was first detected.”
“It’s to be expected,” the Doctor said. “You’re still as much Borg as you are human. Your cranial transceiver is still capable of detecting the Collective at short distances. I can give you a neural inhibitor that will block out the strongest of their transmissions.” He extracted a circular device from his medkit and attached it to Seven’s parietal bone behind her left ear. He tapped the device and then touched a few commands on his tricorder
Seven’s face immediately returned to it’s normal stoic self. “Thank you, Doctor.”
Smiling, the Doctor stood. “It’s my job. Which reminds me, our next social lesson, Witty Barbs and Cocktail Repartee is still scheduled for eighteen hundred hours this evening. I hope you’re feeling up to it.”
“Yes,” Seven said. “When I finish my astrometric scans, I am scheduled to assist Lieutenant Torres. I will meet you in Sickbay afterwards.”
“I can’t wait,” the Doctor said sincerely and left the lab.
Watching him go, Seven closed her eyes for a moment and centered herself. The voice of the Collective was gone for now. But with such a massive fleet gathering so close, she knew it was only a matter of time before a confrontation occurred.
- - -
Tom Paris kept a firm grip on the helm as he led Voyager through yet another spiral maneuver through the tachyon fields. He’d been at it for more than an hour. According to Seven’s scans, the eddies would hide them from that Borg armada as well as shave a few days off their course out of this sector.
Tom was a good pilot, hell he was a great pilot, but this was getting to be a little much. Course corrections were being sent up to him by Seven every twenty or thirty seconds. Dropping the impulse drive down to one quarter, he entered in a new course and came hard to port, rolling the ship ninety degrees then burning through at maximum impulse.
The inertial dampers, which up until this point had been strained but holding, suddenly kicked into a lapse of about a quarter of second, sending everyone on the bridge lurching backwards in their seats.
“Sorry,” he said over his shoulder with a sheepish grin. “Seven’s course is a little tricky, even for a pilot of my skill.”
Janeway grabbed their arms of her chair. “Another little maneuver like that and you’ll be scrubbing plasma filters,” she said with a teasing grin. “Time to the outer boundary?”
“Another minute or two,” he said. “The eddies are thinning out and I’m picking up clear space ahead.”
“Janeway to Astrometrics. Seven, once we’re clear, do you have a course for Mister Paris?”
“Yes, Captain, the next leg is a five hour journey at high warp. It will take us to the Maurisko Expanse. It will provide us cover for the remainder of our time within range of the Borg sensors.”
“Coming into normal space,” Paris said. His panel beeped. “New course 215 mark 48. Ready for warp.”
“Engage,” Janeway said. She stood up, stretched her legs and was suddenly thrown to the deck by a massive impact.
The bridge darkened to red alert and all hands went to battle stations.
“REPORT,” she shouted.
“A vessel dropped out of warp fifty kilometers off the port bow,” Tuvok reported from tactical. “Sensors did not detect their approach. They opened fire as soon as they emerged from subspace.”
“Identify,” Chakotay snapped.
Kim was the first to report. “It’s Borg.”
“On screen,” Janeway ordered, her stomaching tying itself into a knot.
The forward screen hissed with static and cleared with an image of small oblong-shaped vessel.
“It’s a scout probe,”
Seven said from her post.
“They’re powering weapons again,” Tuvok said.
The ship rumbled again. “Shields are holding at eighty percent,” Harry reported.
“See if we can shake them up a bit,” the captain ordered. “Phasers to random nutation: fire.”
“We’ve collapsed their starboard shields,” Tuvok said. “Their engines are have been damaged.”
“Tom,” Janeway ordered. “Let’s get moving. I don’t want to hang around when this little guys big brothers show up.”
“Warp nine point seven,” Paris confirmed as Voyager raced away from the battle site. “We’ll hit the Maurisko Expanse in four hours fifty six minutes.”
“Any sign the other Borg ships detected us?” Chakotay asked.
“Nothing on sensors,” Kim said. “Seven?”
“Negative,” she replied. “It is possible that the scout’s link to the Collective was hampered by the tachyon field. I recommend launching a class-five probe to act as a relay for the sensors.”
“Do it, Harry,” Janeway said. “Tom, hold this speed as long as we can. You have the Bridge, Chakotay, I’ll be in Astrometrics.”
- - -
B’Elanna Torres didn’t like pushing the engines this hard. The antimatter injectors were running at one hundred forty percent over capacity. Ensign Vorik and Crewman Chell were constantly applying new filed equations and reducing the strain manually by purging the antimatter waste at a faster clip through the secondary filters.
Torres would’ve ordered full stop an hour ago if they hadn’t been running for cover from the Borg.
She pushed away from her station and rubbed her eyes. She’d not slept well the night before. Hell, she hadn’t slept well in about four months. Ever since Chakotay had come down to engineering with that damned letter from Sveta.
“Vorik,” she called out. “You’re in charge. I’m going to check the structural integrity field generator on deck six.”
Without waiting for the Vulcan’s response, Torres was out of the engine room and into the nearest turbolift. “Holodeck Two,” she ordered.
- - -
Seven stood at the master display console in Astrometrics.
“The tachyon field did in fact block communication between the scout ship and the rest of the Borg armada. However, a second vessel was dispatched forty nine minutes ago, they will most likely discover the debris from the scout ship within the hour. We are still eighty-six minutes from the Maurisko Expanse.”
“Odds are they’ll send more than a scout this time,” Janeway said.
Seven said. She input several commands. The image changed to show the cluster of Borg ships within the nebula. A small sphere was on a direct course for Voyager’s previous coordinates where they’d engaged the scout ship. “A Class-II long range tactical vessel. Their weapons are far superior to the scout. They pose a significant threat.”
Glancing at a display, Janeway read the engineering status reports. “We’re holding at nine point six-five. Provided they find the debris, analyze it and detect our warp trail, how long will it take them to intercept us?”
“Les than one hour.”
- - -
She’d assembled the troops.
The senior staff had been called to the briefing room immediately upon Seven’s announcement. All but one…
The doors hissed open and B’Elanna entered and took her seat. She was haggard looking, her hair a tangled mess, her face flushed with sweat. A dark bruise had formed on her right cheek, and deep cut had crusted with dried blood across her cranial ridges. “Sorry,” she said. “I was on Deck 15 fixing a faulty regulator. Took a tumble.”
Janeway smiled faintly and pressed on. “We have a problem. There’s a Borg ship out there, sent to investigate the probe that attacked us. Based on Seven’s assessment we have less than fifty minutes before the sphere figures out what happens and intercepts us. Suggestions?”
“We could polarize the nacelle couplings,” Harry said. “Put out a field of ionizing radiation that’d fool their sensors.”
“The Borg sensors would penetrate the radiation field easily,” Seven said.
“Can we boost engine power?” Chakotay asked. “Punch us up to warp nine point nine, get into the Expanse as fast as possible?”
“We’d never be able to hold that speed long enough,” Torres said. Her voice was rough, her throat dry. “We’d blow out the warp coils and kill ourselves before the Borg had the chance to.”
“The Borg do not kill,” Seven said harshly, “they assimilate.”
“Some would say that’s worth than death,” Torres said, her voice like ice.
“All right,” Janeway said. “We’re not here to debate that. What else? B’Elanna?”
“What about the slipstream drive?” Torres ventured.
“Are you crazy?” Harry said. “The last time we used that, we almost melted the hull.”
“Yeah,” the engineer snapped back, “but we flew all the way to Borg space and back. If we’re going to escape this particular group of Borg, we only need to jump a couple of hundred light-years.”
“How long will it take the bring the drive online?” the captain asked.
“The specs are still in the database. The deflector’s the tricky part, modulating all those phase variances.”
“Get on it,” the captain ordered. “Use whatever resources and crewmen you need. Dismissed.”
- - -
“Deflector output at maximum,” reported Kim from ops. “Field output at ninety seven percent.”
The ship rumbled as the main deflector’s charged particles were continuing to manipulate normal matter at the quantum level in preparation for the creation of a slipstream vortex.
“Red Alert,” Chakotay said, taking his seat. He looked over his shoulder at the auxiliary control board. “How’s it look?”
Seven activated the main sequence. “Quantum field is constant. The threshold is forming directly ahead.”
“What about the Borg ship?” Janeway asked from the starboard side of the bridge. She was watching the readouts on the engineering station over Vorik’s shoulder.
“One minute to weapons range,” Tuvok reported.
“It’s gonna be tight,” Paris said. “I’ve got the first set of phase corrections; waiting for Seven.’
“Triggering the manifold now,” Seven said.
“Confirmed,” came B’Elanna’s voice over the com. “See you in a few hundred light-years.”
“Engage,” the captain ordered returning to her own seat.
The forward screen shifted from the streaks of warp to the swirling blue-green mass of a slipstream vortex.
The ship was pounded port to starboard and back again. “Phase variances are coming up faster than the computer can decipher them!” Paris shouted. “I’m having trouble holding us steady.”
“How far have we traveled?” the first officer demanded.
“Approximately fifty light-years,” Seven responded.
“Hold us together Tom,” Janeway said. “I want to put as much distance as we can.” She tapped her combadge. “B’Elanna cut the deflector on my mark.”
“Hull integrity at fifty percent,” Kim reported. “Forty five. Thirty nine.”
Janeway counted to five then said, “All stop!”
Voyager snapped like a rubber band and tumbled into a relative stop.
“Damage reports are coming in,” Chakotay said, consulting his console. “Micro fractures on deck 15, the port nacelle’s been de-polarized and the shields are down.”
“Any sign of Borg?” Janeway asked.
“Negative,” Tuvok responded. “However, sensors are detecting no spatial bodies within range.”
“None?” Harry asked, checking his own board. “Confirmed. There are no stars out there. In fact…he’s right. Nothing.”
Janeway felt a headache coming on. “On screen.”
Nothing but total blackness filled the forward screen. “Seven?” the captain asked.
“The Borg have not encountered this region as I far I know. Astrometic scans do show stars and normal space behind us at a range of two hundred light-years, but nothing ahead.”
“How far did we travel, Tom?” Janeway said.
“Three hundred two point five light-years ma’am.”
“If there’s space behind us,” Chakotay said, “there’s go to be something ahead.”
“You’re right,” conceded the captain. “You heard him, Tom, resume course towards the Alpha quadrant, all ahead full.”
With the captain’s order, the Starship Voyager plunged into the dark of night…