(...cont'd from previous page)
Seven in Red:
The Perseus Secondary's engines rose in pitch as the ship jumped to impulse speed, and distant stars began to shift.
“Navigator, full impulse.”
Perseus jumped in speed and raced ahead.
The Dreadnought propelled forward and opened fire with a broad salvo of energy torpedoes.
“Warp speed,” Seven commanded.
An alarm sounded. Vorik noted the readout on a panel. “Commander, reading a warp coil failure in the starboard
nacelle. Coil series – four through nine.” He looked at her. “In symmetry with the port coil damage. A warp field is forming.”
“Warp field balanced and stabilizing,” said Ensign Hardesty. “I'll be damned! We have warp one, Commander! And climbing!”
The Perseus Secondary cruiser outran the Enqarian energy pulses, and escaped its own trailing photonic presence as it launched into superlight speed with a warp flare. The Dreadnought and its volley of torpedoes followed them into warp with flashes that sparkled like a jewel.
A different alarm sounded. “Commander, reading a coolant failure in the port nacelle.”
Seven of nine watched the horizon. “Lock it down. Divert power from adjacent flow regulators. And evacuate those decks Lieutenant!”
The ship began to tremor with a warp field oscillation.
“But Commander! If we do that then we'll lose Bussard containment!”
“Exactly.” She turned to the ops officer. “You must comply now
Vorik monitored the situation on his panel, and the ship started heaving. “Commander, we're leaking hydrogen from the Bussard system. The port nacelle is losing isofield containment. Explosive decompression in the warp intake system is imminent.”
Seven rode the tremors of the warp imbalance. “Full speed ahead, Navigator!”
“Commander!” Hardesty shouted. “Navigational field oscillation increasing! Compensation failure! Vector drift is outpacing his reaction time, Commander! The bloody hologram can't keep up!”
“Neither would you, Mister Hardesty!”
“No sir but at least I'd feel bad about it!”
The approaching Dreadnought torpedoes overheated in the spreading hydrogen trail and discharged with great explosions. The gas trail ignited; combusting plasma traveled back up the stream, and swathed the nacelle in burning hydrogen.
“Engage the quantum drive!” Seven ordered.
“Activating chronophasic emitters...now
!” shouted Hardesty.
Ahead of them in warp space, a single focal point in the center of a streaming starfield, a quantum rift began to form.
The Secondary cruiser's engines wailed as the ship broke for the widening supergravimetric distortion of the vortex event horizon.
“Approaching quantum threshold, Commander!” shouted Hardesty. “Feedback in the coil assemblies! She's shaking herself apart!”
“Commander, port vents melting! Containment leaking! She's going critical!” shouted the ops officer.
“Let it burn!” Seven shouted. “All power to the engines!
The quantum vortex loomed ahead like a violent hole at the end of the galaxy.
The port nacelle erupted in a blinding hydrogen plasma explosion. The Perseus Secondary heaved and threw the crew. The ship flickered into red alert as the crew slammed hard against the deckplating. On screen, the vortex event horizon erupted with chain reacting electroplasma ignition, that overwhelmed the keeling ship in a web of plasma filaments and cast the bridge crew in blinding red light –
– and blasted them down with an explosive flash, while the viewer suddenly dissipated into a spinning starfield.
“We're out of control!” Hardesty shouted, and shoved the hologram aside as he took over the helm. The starstreams rolled, retracted into pinpoints, and came to a level bearing. “We blew our entry Commander! Engines are overloaded! Shields are down! We're dead in space!
“Dreadnought approaching!” the tactical officer checked his screen. “Commander! The Dreadnought can't escape its own gravity! It's caught in the vortex!”
The Enqarian Dreadnought passed through the burning threshold of the vortex and disappeared at length into the slipstream. The vortex collapsed behind it in an aperture of electroplasma filaments and ripping quantum energy.
The Perseus engines powered down in automatic failsafe and the bridge quieted. The crew watched the viewer in disbelief.
The helmsman read his chart. “Navigation is still dead, Commander; but wherever
we are – the quantum slipstream exit point – is seven hundred thirty point four light years from this position, on a distal axis from the galactic center. It'll take them over a year to get back here.” He looked at Seven. “You lured them into the slipstream with –”
“The Seven of Nine Maneuver,” finished Vorik.
“Let's see the Algorithm of Corporatarchy deal with that
,” said Hardesty. “Blowing ourselves out of the event horizon was the only way. Too early, the Dreadnought exits the stream with us. Too late, we enter the stream with them.” He turned to Seven admiringly. “No computer could have pulled it off. No pilot, either.”
“Damage control to all departments.” She tapped her communicator. “Seven to sickbay. Were there any casualties or injuries Doctor?”
Not unless you count Enqari pride, Commander.
“Thank you Doctor. Seven to engineering. Report.”
Salazar here. The gas is dissipating, Commander. Fire suppression systems nominalizing. With the port nacelle powered down we can establish warp with the starboard nacelle at your command. We'll start swapping out manifolds, recouple the primary TPS relays to run power to the port nacelle, have the remaining coils operational after a diagnostic series. By sunup.
“Superlative work, Lieutenant.” Seven stood. “Assemble the Delegation, Mister Vorik.”
“Yes Commander. What is to become of them?”
“They will be – assimilated.”
The entire bridge crew turned to their commander.
She faced the stars. “Resistance – is futile.”
She is Borg.
“Doctor.” Seven of Nine saw Salvatore standing outside the door to the conference room, but making no move to enter. “Is there a problem?”
“Hm? Oh, no Commander. Everything is moving along swimmingly. I was just – savoring the moment.”
“Well. You know those pain suits the Enqari like so much? With the collars?”
“I may have accidentally beamed them into the reclamators.”
She raised her brow and entered. The entire Enqari delegation sat around the table clad in work crew jumpers – and arguing at the tops of their voices across the board.
Seven stepped towards the door – and paused. “Did you –”
Doctor Salvatore held up his medkit and patted it. “Good medicine, Commander.”
“Here's to your obsolescence, Doctor.”
“And to yours, Commander.”
Vorik to Commander Seven of Nine.
Seven woke and righted herself in silk sheets, pulling back her tresses. “What is it, Mister Vorik?”
Seven entered the battle bridge. The crew stared rapt at the main viewer. Vorik sat at Ops enhancing an unfocused long range spectrometric scan.
“Have you established our position, Mister Vorik?”
“Partially, Commander. We are approximately four million kilometers...from that
She looked at the viewer.
In a debris-strewn current of a gravitic concussion wave, a burnt, blasted relic starship hull drifted in the infinite.
And for the first time in her life, Seven felt a catching spark of hope
She swallowed. “Logical work, Mister Vorik.”
He raised his brow and powered the tractor assembly. “It was – a human leap of faith, Sir.” He paused. “Ma'am.” He looked up at her. “Commander.”
“Whatever you called Captain Janeway will suffice, Mister Vorik.”
He returned to his controls. “I called her Captain.”