Her day couldn’t possibly get any worse, thought Amaya Donners as she sat in her chair on the bridge, considering recent events. She had well known that becoming a starship captain would also bring with it a new set of challenges and responsibilities she’d never faced before. It felt naďve now to think that she had thought herself ready for them.
But then again how could she have ever imagined that within a week of assuming her new post she would be given one of Starfleet’s most secret and seemingly controversial orders, hunting down and destroying a molecule whose existence she hadn’t even been aware of until that point? How could she have known that this mission would lead her and her new ship into a direct confrontation with the Romulans who threatened her with interstellar war if she didn’t back down? And how could she have possibly predicted that she would have to face the Federation’s most dangerous and deadly enemy?
Maya’s deliberations only lasted a couple of seconds, it was all the time she really had to spare during this unfolding crisis. Then she spotted Vej’s eyes upon her once more but this time he neither frowned nor showed concern. Instead he gave her a reaffirming look, one that seemed to suggest that he had complete confidence in her ability to get the ship and crew through this in one piece.
She considered herself extremely lucky having the counselor at her side and without uttering a single word, she unlocked the determination she was sure she’d require to survive the next few minutes or so. The doubts and fears still remained but for now they were banned to the farthest reaches of her mind as she focused on what needed to be done.
The captain took in the image of the oddly shaped starship on the screen, bearing down on Agamemnon
. She couldn’t fault her tactical officer’s confusion earlier. She didn’t think she’d ever seen the asymmetrical designed vessel before either. The size was impressive, easily numerous times larger than Agamemnon
and the warbird put together, it had an almost vase shaped central core with two arms protruding outwards, a short horizontal one connecting to a rectangular section, while the second arm angled downwards and ending in a third section which looked like a smaller version of the central core.
“You are certain this is a Borg ship?” she asked.
Allenby nodded firmly. “Absolutely, sir. I encountered a similar vessel while on the Enterprise
two years ago.”
“Confirmed. Starfleet has this vessel designated as a Borg Type 03,” said Mer’iab, clearly flustered by the fact that he hadn’t been able to bring up this information before. “The only previously encountered vessel was destroyed two years ago. At the time there was no indication that a second vessel exists.”
“There is now,” said Texx.
“Where did it come from? How come we didn’t detect it sooner?” Maya wanted to know.
“When we encountered it on the Enterprise
, the ship was able to utilize transwarp conduits just like other Borg vessels,” said the operations officer.
Maya glanced towards Daystrom who quickly nodded in agreement. “I’m detecting residual readings of a massive triquantum waves close to the Borg ship’s position. I should have seen it sooner.”
“We had our hands full, Lieutenant,” said Vej quickly. “Besides with all the subspace disruptions around here it probably didn’t stand out much.”
The science officer didn’t seem entirely convinced that the oversight was as forgivable as the counselor implied.
“Time to intercept?” asked Donners.
“One minute, forty-six seconds,” said Mer’iab.
“Looks like our Romulan friends have already changed course to greet the Borg,” said Texx as he studied his console.
“We must have lost our appeal,” said DeSoto.
“What’s the tactical analysis?” the captain wanted to know. “What are the chances the Khazara
can survive against that ship? What are ours?” she added and looked at the Aurelian at tactical.
Mer’iab shook his head. “Not good,” he said. “Perhaps if we combined our assault but even then our chances are not favorable. The only way the Enterprise
defeated this ship was by tricking it into the corona of a star and causing a solar flare.”
“Not much of an option for us,” said Texx. “It’ll take use hours to reach the Iota Crucis sun.”
“Sir, I don’t think this ship is necessarily hostile,” said Allenby.
Maya shot the younger woman a puzzled expression. “Explain.”
The blond-haired operations officer took a breath. “This isn’t the Collective we’re up against but a rouge faction of liberated Borg. When the Enterprise
encountered them they were led by an android with self-serving intentions but after he was neutralized a Borg by the name of Hugh took over.”
Vej looked perplexed. “The Borg have names now?”
She nodded. “This one had. Thanks to the Enterprise
crew. As I said these are liberated Borg and last I checked they were on friendly terms with us. I cannot imagine that Hugh would want to fight us.”
“Let’s hope you’re right as otherwise this could be an extremely one-sided battle,” said Maya.
“Sir,” Mer’iab said. “The Romulans are engaging the Borg.”
The bridge crew immediately focused on the view screen were the massive Borg vessel and the comparatively diminutive warbird had opened fire on each other. The Khazara
circled the much larger vessel as it unleashed one disruptor salvo after the other, seemingly trying to locate the enemy’s Achilles Heel. The counter-attack appeared much more devastating, judging by the way the warbird’s shields flared brightly with each hit. Some of the Borg weapons managed to penetrate and smashed into the hull with immense force and exposing atmosphere to the vacuum of space.
“Not going well for the Romulans,” said DeSoto.
“Mister Mer’iab, warn them off, tell them that they don’t stand a chance,” said Maya.
But the tactical officer quickly shook his head. “They are not listening, sir.”
“There’s a surprise,” said Texx.
“Sir, we’re being targeted,” Mer’iab shouted urgently.
Not a second later the powerful Borg weapons smashed into Agamemnon
’s shields with such severity, it threw Vej right out of his chair. The other bridge officers barely managed to hold on.
“Direct hit,” said Mer’iab. “Shields down to seventy-eight percent.”
Maya jumped out of her seat and reached out for the counselor, easily pulling him back onto his feet. He aimed a grateful look at her.
But Maya was busy staring at Allenby. “You said they wouldn’t attack us, Lieutenant.”
She shook her head in perplexed fashioned. “I don’t understand,” she said. “Maybe they think we are in league with the Romulans.”
Maya turned towards tactical. “Open a channel to the Borg.”
A quick nod confirmed it was done.
“Attention Borg vessel, this is Captain Donners of the Federation vessel Agamemnon
. We have no hostile intentions against you. I say again, we are not your enemy.”
Her response was another bone-rattling hit.
“Shields at sixty-two percent. Hull breaches on deck seven and eight,” shouted the tactical officer over the red alert klaxons and the sounds of the ship almost tearing itself apart.
“Evasive pattern Tango-Four,” Maya said and took her chair again. “Return fire, try to target the same areas the Romulans are shooting at, maybe that way we can punch through their shields.”
DeSoto had the ship break-off sharply, avoiding another volley of incoming fire that had been meant for Agamemnon
. Mer’iab quickly unleashed the various phaser arrays with near pinpoint accuracy, hitting the same spots the Romulan disruptors had attempted to break through just moments before. The results were discouraging.
“Multiple direct hits,” said Texx but shook his head as he spoke. “Minimal damage.”
“Captain,” Wayne Daystrom said excitedly. “I’m reading another transwarp conduit opening.”
Maya mentally chided herself for her earlier presumptuousness that this day couldn’t possibly get any worse, realizing belatedly that she had jinxed herself in the process.
“Bobby, stand by to disengage,” she said quickly, fully aware that if a second Borg vessel would join the fray, Agamemnon
wouldn’t last seconds.
“Wait a minute,” said Daystrom. “It’s not the Borg,” he said and then turned to look at the captain with a growing smirk. “It’s one of ours, sir. The Cuffe
Maya glanced back towards the screen to watch the Nebula
-class starship emerge out of seemingly nowhere and then immediately bearing down on the massive Borg vessel with a barrage of phaser fire and photon torpedoes. She couldn’t help herself but smile at the sight. Leave it to Terrence Glover to brazenly introduce himself in dramatic fashion.
“They are hailing us,” said Mer’iab.
Captain Glover’s lopsided grin gave proof that he enjoyed the role of shining knight coming to rescue the damsel in distress. The dark-skinned, broad-shouldered starship captain had known Maya for over four years and ever since she had become his father’s adjutant at Deep Space Five. And barely a visit had gone by that the younger Glover had not tried to flirt with her one way or the other. It came as little surprise to her then that he quickly found a way to make levity of the situation. “First day on the job and you’re already taking on the Romulans and the Borg?”
he said. “What are you planning for tomorrow? Going a few rounds with Q?”
“I like a challenge,” she shot back despite herself. She was fully aware that Cuffe’s
timely appearance didn’t mean they were out of the woods just yet.
“Lucky for you we were in the neighborhood. Came across this misshapen Borg monstrosity a few light years from here and followed it when it disappeared into a transwarp conduit,”
he explained even as he had to hang on to the armrests of his seat as his ship was being pummeled. “Keep firing, all weapons. Hit that thing were it hurts,”
he instructed his crew before he glanced back towards Donners. “Follow my lead, Amaya and we’ll make the Borg curse the day they thought they could take on Starfleet’s finest. Glover out.”
And with that he blinked out.
“Follow his lead?” said Texx and glanced at the captain. “I thought we were here first.”
“Glover likes to take charge. It’s in his psychological profile,” said the counselor.
As grateful as she was for Cuffe
’s unexpected appearance, she couldn’t deny that it annoyed her that her fellow captain had simply decided to take the lead and expected her to quietly fall in line. Of course she had expected nothing less from the notoriously audacious starship captain and quite frankly there was neither the time nor the opportunity to come up with an alternative.
is engaging attack pattern kappa-six,” said the tactical officer.
“That’s pretty aggressive,” the first officer pointed out.
Maya nodded in agreement. Glover had decided to throw everything he had at the Borg, going in close and personal and sacrificing his defensive for a loud and devastating offense. It wasn’t her favorite strategy and it was usually reserved for those rare times when an all-or-nothing approach was required. Glover clearly felt the situation was desperate enough.
“Match her attack pattern but I want all auxiliary power transferred to shields and hull integrity,” she said.
Moments later both starships blasted away at the Borg vessel with everything they had, phasers firing at a near constant rate, interspersed with photon and quantum torpedo volleys.
And it still wasn’t enough.
The science console exploded in a spark of flames, slinging both Daystrom and Ket to the floor.
Vej was up in an instant checking on the young science officer first and thankfully finding him mostly in one piece except for a few bloody scrapes covering his hands and face. Together they quickly tended to the Xenarth who had apparently taken the brunt of the explosion.
The two men helped her onto her feet but it was quickly apparent that she could not stand on her own.
“Crewman, take her to sickbay,” Vej said to a nearby security guard who took over bracing Ket without delay, helping her to the turbolift. When the counselor turned towards Daystrom, the science officer quickly waved him off. “I’m alright,” he said. “Just a few scratches,” he said and then headed for an auxiliary station to repurpose it to replace the damaged science station.
“Shields at twenty-eight percent. We have hull breaches on deck three, six, nine and twelve. Casualty reports are coming in from all over the ship,” said Mer’iab.
Maya glanced at the first officer who seemed to understand what she was after straight away. The usually sanguine Bolian looked discouraged. “The Borg vessel’s shields are still at over fifty percent in strength and hull damage is minimal. Cuffe
’s shields are fluctuating.”
“This is madness,” said Vej who had found his chair again after helping the injured Ket off the bridge. “We’re not going to survive this.”
Mer’iab seemed to disagree. “At this rate I estimate that we will be able to overwhelm the Borg vessels defenses within the next twenty to thirty minutes.”
“Yes but at what cost?” the counselor shot back.
Maya left her seat to make her way next to Allenby at operations. She had to hang on tightly to her chair to avoid being thrown around the bridge like a rag doll. “Tess, tell me about this Hugh. Why would he be trying to destroy us if he was an ally of the Enterprise
Allenby looked up at her captain by her side. “I’m not sure but this strikes me as very odd. Granted, I was not as involved with what was happening at the time but the rumors on the ship were that some of the senior officers had become friends with him and I know that he was instrumental in helping the crew rescue the captain from the rogue Borg who had been manipulated by the android. Afterwards he became their leader.”
Another hit disintegrated part of the adjacent helmstation.
“I’m alright, I’m alright,” said DeSoto quickly as he grabbed a handheld fire extinguisher he kept underneath the console and efficiently put out the flames which had already rendered part of his console unusable.
Maya focused back on Allenby. “You think he’d listen to reason?”
“I … I don’t know,” she said, sounding a lot less sure of herself now.
The captain placed a hand on her shoulder. “Tess, you are one of the senior officers now,” she said. “I need you to be confident.”
The woman responded with a firm nod. “I think we have to try,” she said more resolutely.
Maya nodded and headed back for her chair. “Put me through to the Cuffe
,” she said before sitting back down.
Terrence Glover appeared on the screen. The man had lost some of his earlier swagger and there were noticeable sweat pearls trickling down his forehead. A few blackened and soot covered stations behind him were evidence of a recent fire on his bridge. “Not a good time,”
he said even as he continued to bark orders at his crew.
“This isn’t working, Captain. I suggest we disengage and try something else. I have cause to believe that we may be able to reason with the Borg.”
Glover actually stopped what he was doing for a moment to shoot Donners the kind of look usually reserved for misbehaving children or mad people. “I appreciate you haven’t been in that chair for very long but even you have to realize how insane that sounds.”
Maya frowned. “These are not your garden-variety, one-minded Borg drones we are dealing with. They are individuals and behave as such. Let me try to talk to them.”
“They don’t seem to be in a talking mood, besides we are winning this battle,”
he shot back.
“I don’t know about you but I’d like to have a ship left afterwards,” she countered. It became quickly obvious that Glover had no intention on letting himself be swayed by somebody who had been a starship captain for less than a week. “We both pull back in a sign of good faith and I try to appeal to their individuality. What’s the harm? If it doesn’t work we come back with guns blazing in a final, glorious hurrah.”
The grimace on the other captain’s face spoke volumes. He didn’t care for the plan in the least. “You’ve got sixty seconds,”
he said sharply. “Then we’ll finish this. One way or the other.”
And then he cut the transmission.
is disengaging,” said Mer’iab.
“Even if we don’t win this,” said Vej,” you just managed to single-handedly change Terrence Glover’s mind. That’s a victory all in itself.”
“I attribute it to my feminine charm and magnetic personality,” she said with a grin before quickly adopting a more serious expression. “Ensign, follow their lead and back us off from the Borg. Lieutenant, cease fire.”
And just like that both Starfleet ships turned tail and ran. At least for now.
“Commander Toreth must have listened in,” said Texx, monitoring his console. “The Khazara
is also breaking off.”
“They know they don’t stand a chance by themselves,” said Mer’iab.
“Open another channel to the Borg vessel,” said Maya.
Maya took a deep breath and stood. “This is Captain Donners on board the Agamemnon
calling the Borg vessel. I am requesting to speak to the individual named Hugh,” she said and then glanced at the Aurelian tactical officer who shook his head in response.
Texx turned his computer console so that the captain could see that the Borg vessel was now on a pursuit course and would be back within weapons range in a matter of moments. Maya quickly understood that she had far less time than the sixty seconds Captain Glover had given her.
“Hugh, we know that you are on that vessel and quite frankly I’m at a loss why you are attacking us. From my understanding you were friends with the Enterprise
crew who spoke very highly of you.”
The only response remained silence. On the screen the imposing vessel continued to bear down on Agamemnon
“All I’m asking,” Maya continued, “is that we open a dialogue. Let us discuss the matters that have made you betray your friendships and open fire on us. As an individual you have that option. You do not have to follow the same path of death and destruction as the Collective does.”
The pale face that appeared on the view-screen was unmistakably Borg. A large ocular implant covered most of the seemingly young man’s face and a number of black tubes protruded from parts of his cranium. His remaining natural eye considered Amaya Donners coolly.
“I have not betrayed my friendships,”
he said in a heavily modulated voice.
Maya had never faced the Borg before but she had heard plenty of stories. She had very shortly served on the Bellerophon
but had transferred off that ship mere weeks before it was completely destroyed by the Borg in the battle at Wolf 359. She was still haunted by occasional nightmares involving the crew she had left behind which Vej had attributed to survivor’s guilt. She felt a cold shudder shooting down her spine as she felt the Borg’s meticulous gaze upon her now.
“I am not sure they would agree once they learn of your actions here today,” she said.
He seemed to genuinely consider this for a moment and finally nodded. “I shall allow you and the other vessels to depart this system peacefully. If you do so I will promise no further harm shall come to you.”
“I cannot do that.”
Hugh’s cold look returned. “And I cannot allow for you to interfere with my mission. It is far too important to allow friendships to keep me from what I must accomplish here. No matter how much I value them.”
“Here’s my suggestion. Come on board my ship and let us sit down together and discuss this mission of yours. Perhaps we can find a solution which will be agreeable to all parties,” she said.
“I cannot see what could be accomplished by such a gesture.”
“For one it may avoid further bloodshed. Our mission is as important to us as yours appears to be to you. And the Romulans have made it clear that they will defend this system no matter the cost,” she said, her voice firm and steady. “The alternative is we all go back to shooting at each other until whoever is left standing will be far too damaged to have any chance at completing their objective here. How about we give my idea a chance first?”
Hugh looked off-screen for a moment and while Maya couldn’t be entirely sure, she thought he was communicating with somebody unseen for a moment. Then he looked back at her. “For a long time I cursed Geordie, Data and the others on the Enterprise for what they did to me,”
he said and Amaya noticeably tensed. “But the truth is that I would not wish to rejoin the Collective and give up my individuality for anything. My people and I remain in their debt which we will never be able to fully repay. I will grant your request and join you onboard your vessel,”
he said just before he closed the channel.
“Did we just invite the Borg over for dinner?” said DeSoto, not quite able to turn that frown into a smile.
Tess Allenby aimed a disapproving look at Bobby. “Not just any Borg,” she said and then swiveled her chair to face the captain. “Hugh can be reasoned with,” she added. “We just might be able to get out of this without having to go back into battle, sir.”
“I appreciate your optimism, Lieutenant,” she said, clearly not completely sharing Allenby’s outlook. “But we’re about to negotiate with the Borg and the Romulans over the most powerful force known in existence and without so much as a single diplomat to back us up. We’ll need more than a miracle to come out of this without providing the lynchpin for an incident of galactic proportions.”