Vexa to Commander Munich, I am unable to establish a lock. Interference from nebular radiation and particulate turbulence is disrupting scans of the lifepod.
Tying in transporter targeting scanners with PRAM sensor enhancements. Filtering nebular particle flux. Focusing emitter on lifepod quantum signatures now. Reading one lifeform. It is Enqari. Lifesigns negligible.
– Beam them directly to sickbay, Lieutenant. And congratulations. You just brilliantly revolutionized transporter technology.
A mere logical extrapolation, Commander, I just happened to be the first to require it. Engaging transport. Commander. Transporter biofilters have auto-disengaged. Attempting to abort process.
– Report, Vexa.
Cannot disengage transport, Commander. The Enqari – is aboard. Vexa to sickbay.
Vexa to sickbay.
Vexa to security. Report to sickbay immediately.
– Bridge to Vexa. Report.
Intruder alert, Commander. I brilliantly beamed in - a Borg.
The Perseus Tertiary cruiser echoed with an intruder alert.
From the transporter room, Vexa heard the klaxons and footfalls running through the corridor while she attempted to lock onto the intruder with the transporter molecular imaging scanners. On her readout of the sickbay schematic, she saw no lifesigns or activity, save those of the crewmen approaching from outside. A feedback waveform in the holoemitter system indicated to her that the intruder was giving off a highly-complex interference signal, rendering holograms inactive; the Mark V EMH had likely been decompiled immediately in the presence of the Borg.
She tapped into her Ops communications monitor.
– Security to bridge, we're in position.
– This is Munich. Don't let him touch your people, Boltz. Deatomize his Borg ass.
– You've got a real way with words, Commander. We're moving in.
Vexa resumed her scans. The intruder's interference field had nullified all readings, even those with the PRAM enhancements. Something told her the Borg might be prepared for phaser frequencies as well.
An alarm sounded on her station. The Borg signal was overriding the ship's transporter commands, and activating a site-to-site transport. It began to beam the security team out of sickbay. She clutched a panel beneath her station – but it was stuck. She strained again, exhaled and stood. “Egghead solution.” She kicked it hard, and it popped open.
– Bridge to Vexa! How are you at overriding Borg transport protocols?
“We are about to find out, Commander.”
– We've lost the security team! Can you localize them Vexa?
“The annular confinement beam – is no longer directed aboard ship, Commander.”
Her hands blazed through the matrix of isolinear chips that permitted command access of her station from external sources, to limit input only from her direct interface. With smooth well-practiced movement, Vexa slid the last chip home and flurried through a complex command sequence to initialize the new configuration. The interface lit up across the board and traced the security team's molecular patterns – reconstituted in the vacuum of space. She initiated the transport sliders.
A bloom of blue light appeared on her pad. The crewmen materialized, and fell unconscious. Lifesigns – weak, but regular.
“I have them, Commander.”
Good work, Lieutenant. The Borg has altered his direction. He is -
The com channel crackled and cut off.
Vexa reprogrammed her interface – and activated a transporter scan on the Borg.
The molecular imaging scanners cycled up and located its biosignature: transporter room three.
The door opened.
A void of light, the inexorable, biomechanical humanoid loomed in the entrance. Its cranial laser implant scanned the room, lighting upon the unconscious crew, and then upon her. The Borg entered with a low hum of servomotors and the heavy chunking of magnetic boots, activating appendage devices toward her Vexa could only guess at. She avoided the vacant eyes boring into her and noted her panel; she instantly saw that the Borg's overpowering interference signal was preventing the transporter from establishing a molecular lock on his pattern – which did not surprise her considering they had not detected his implants in the first place. She flew through a new configuration sequence in her interface.
Resistance – is - futile,
grated its vocal subprocessor. We the Borg – have – adapted – to – your – Federation.
The Borg lifted his arm appendage at her as he stepped onto the dais.
She looked up at him. “Computer, seal the door.”
The computer signaled the input.
The Borg's assimilation tubules shot at her, and purchased only the dissolute spaces between her energizing molecules, as Vexa and crew beamed out of the room.
The last thing she saw was the Borg looking over at the nebular energy flux simultaneously beaming in, and then looking back at her. He did not compute. Resistance is logical.
– Bridge to Vexa! Security is on their way! Report!
Commander, recommend initiating an anion sweep of the transporter room before security enters.
– What's in there?
Nebular flux – and one deatomized Borg.
Vexa made her way back toward the bridge, amid a gauntlet of admiring smiles and nods from the crew, which left logic nonplussed for a response – but it was not disagreeable.
As she neared the turbolift to the bridge, Commander Munich's voice sounded throughout the decks of the Perseus Tertiary cruiser: Red Alert. Borg vessel approaching. Prepare for quantum speed.
“You can't outrun yourself.” Grif pounded his PADD on the table, his whipcord body framed by the quantum slipstream gravimetric torrent outside the viewport. “That's what my father said to Gul Jarej, right before turning his fighter around and launching a fatal counterstrike against the Galor Rucarel
. My father knew the difference between an enemy that survives and an enemy that will tear at you until one of your warp cores breaches. Tell me, Lieutenant, which type would you describe the Borg?”
Lieutenant Vexa blinked at him in assiduous calm. “I would describe the Borg as less emotional than a Cardassian Gul bent on blood revenge.” She faced Commander Nikhila Munich at the head of the Perseus Tertiary cruiser briefing room table. “And far less likely to commit a fatal tactical error once they have willfully engaged their enemy. Furthermore Grifahni Gage, as I recall, had intimate knowledge of the Galor schematic. We do not share that advantage.”
Vexa kept an eye on the sensor readout on the wall monitor. A Borgified Enqarian Heavy Cruiser continued its pursuit of the Perseus Tertiary within the slipstream. The ship had lain in ambush, launching itself out of the nebula and into firing range the moment Commander Munich had ordered a quantum retreat from the area. Shields had barely held against the disruptor barrage, the weapons clearly enhanced by the Borg. To the crew's intoned dismay – the enemy vessel had managed to keep the quantum threshold from collapsing by emitting a theta band carrier wave to create a subspace field microinversion, which disturbed space long enough for their ship to break through.
The Heavy Cruiser was a massive Enqar Alliance ship, once jagged and shard-like, now jutting with Borg superstructures; they occupied the length of a once sleek hull backswept onto a segmented linear warp axis. The original Enqarian design had been based on an antiquated principle of segmented linear dispersal of progressive warp envelopes – a limitation fast being overcome by the raw plasma arcs between Borg installations along the engine axis. The Heavy Cruiser was accelerating beyond its original structural tolerances. Either the Borg had overcome those deficiencies, or – they were on a one-way mission to overtake the Tertiary, with failure not an option.
The engineering monstrosity had held in pursuit for over an hour. The Borg had traced their retreat from the Enqar homeworld system. Their ship, too, had escaped the solar devastation - what Vexa had not had time to study, but hypothesized was a runaway reaction in the stellar subspace envelope leading to some species of “shock nova.”
The name had stuck with the crew – at least until a more detailed study of the devastating phenomenon could yield clearer understanding.
Vexa chafed against speculating on the shock nova prematurely – at the Commander's urging, no less – amid this eclectic humanoid crew. Their willing embrace of imprecision differed her experience markedly from her first posting as Technology Officer on the Vulcan Diplomatic Defender Zhalanyai
. A small, but lean diplomatic courier escort, crew of the Dutarik Sklada-Klashausu T'Khasi Zhalanyai
did not waste words.
Preliminary readings on the cataclysm confirmed her speculation: the coronal mass ejecta that had fed into the slipstream gravity well had somehow cascaded into a subspace chain reaction. Troublingly, analysis revealed wave propagation indicative of a sudden anomalous spike in core mass. Illogical behavior for what appeared to be a typical main sequence star. Sensors recorded indications of an instantaneous, overwhelming counteraction between quantum degeneracy pressures and thermal fusion, which had violently disturbed the core's hydrostatic equilibrium.
It was as if the star had suddenly accreted a much larger mass density, like a white dwarf exceeding its Chandrasekhar limit.
A theoretical impossibility.
As outer layers of stellar matter siphoned into slipstream and subspace, the core mass rapidly collapsed under an extremely intensive gravity for a sun of its magnitude. Shock waves propagated through the infalling matter, into a runaway nuclear fusion reaction – and nova shock.
Starfleet would undoubtedly wish to study the phenomenon in detail. Fortunately, Vexa's Particle Resonance Acceleration Matrix could permit ongoing analysis from Federation space. The PRAM sensor would allow running examination of neutrino-antineutrino pair flavors. It might even be configured, she hypothesized, for enhanced measurement of neutrino reheating, magnetic and rotational dynamics. If she survived long enough to schedule off duty leisure activity again.
This data would further illuminate ship's sensor records of the sudden, catastrophic collapse of critical mass. She had also programmed sensors to continue monitoring baseline redshift activity to enhance calibration of Federation deep space sensoring. For now, that was all she had had time to do.
A perturbing mystery awaited her, and continued to thwart the Science department's obsession over the cascade reaction and mass readings: how the core collapse reacted as if to gravitational densities of a much more massive star, or even merging main sequence stars – and then lost so much mass to the event. Violating not only thousands of years of theoretical nova physics – but taking the first law of thermodynamics with it.
Energy can be neither created nor destroyed.
The immutable principle on which all physics – and logic - was based.
Violated, before her Vulcan eyes.