“Commander, Hugh’s vessel is entering orbit.”
Texx, sitting in the center seat, looked up after hearing Lieutenant Allenby’s report with a little smile playing on his blue lips. “Right on schedule,” he said. “On screen.”
Even after having been literally sliced apart, the oddly-shaped Borg vessel was still imposing enough to easily dwarf both Starfleet ships as it joined them around New Xenarth.
“Looks like they’ve been busy little Borg,” said DeSoto as he studied the ship on the screen. “Most of the damage appears to have been repaired.”
“Are the Xenarth seeing this?” the first officer said.
Allenby nodded. “Not a chance they’re not. Even with the damage they have sustained recently, we know they have no trouble scanning their own orbit. And right now most of their focus is on this corner.”
DeSoto grinned. “Yeah, they were worried about two Starfleet ships? I’d say they just got a whole lot more scared.”
Texx stood up smoothly. “Belay that talk, Ensign. Otherwise one might get the impression we’re here to intimidate the Xenarth which we most assuredly are not. Hugh simply needs to complete a few repairs while in orbit before they can be on their way.”
The young helmsman couldn’t keep that smirk off his face. “Of course. And that’s all they’re doing.”
The Bolian nodded with satisfaction and then headed for the turbolift. “Good time as any to catch up on paperwork. Bobby, why don’t you take the bridge for a while?”
“Sure … what?” the helmsman swiveled his chair around only to see Texx’s back as he walked towards the exit. Instead he caught the equally surprised look on Allenby’s face who had also whirled around at the unexpected hand-off. Except that her features were quickly turning into an angry frown.
She shot the befuddled pilot a venomous look and then jumped to her feet to follow the first officer before he could get off the bridge. “Sir. Commander,” she called after him.
He turned back around and sighed dramatically as if having expected this.
“Sir, surely you realize that I’m the next most senior officer on the bridge. I should have command in your absence.
“Well, yes, technically—“
“Technically?” she said, clearly fighting the urge to raise her voice too high. “Sir, with all due respect, it’s regulation. I mean … DeSoto isn’t even a senior officer. He’s never even had command duty before. I’m not even sure if he’s certified.”
“You remember what we talked about, Lieutenant. We all have to work together,” he said and intertwined his digits for demonstrative effect. “Consider it a team building exercise.”
“Sir, I must strongly protest. This is not—“
“Protest noted and logged. Now follow my orders,” he said and then practically darted off the bridge to avoid having to explain himself any further to the clearly exasperated woman who was left standing with her mouth hanging wide open in shock.
“Look, it’s not that bad Tess, I promise I’ll follow all the regs in the book,” said DeSoto who had clearly gotten over the shock of being given command much quicker, not to mention better, than Allenby.
She turned around slowly only to find him now standing by his station with a growing grin on his boyish face. It clearly only infuriated her further. Before he could say anything else, she raised a finger in his direction. “Not one more word out of you, Ensign,” she said as she headed back to ops, trying to keep her chin up but unable to keep her shoulders from slouching in defeat.
DeSoto watched her quietly as she took her seat again. “Thing is with being in command and all, I kind of have to give orders.”
She sighed heavily. “We’re in orbit with no apparent threats for light-years around. There are no orders you’ll have to give so just sit back down, keep your mouth shut and wait for the commander to come back,” she said without gracing him with even the shortest glance.
“I’ll sit down,” he said. “But I think I’ll take the captain’s chair,” he added and then found a crewman working on the aft station. “Schmidt, can you take over the helm for me?”
The young, blonde-haired petty officer nodded and quickly stepped up to take the chair DeSoto had just vacated.
That left him free to step up to the captain’s seat and slowly, almost reverently, lowering his backside into it. “This sure is comfortable. And the view is terrific,” he said, clearly hoping that Allenby would take the bait and turn around again with one of her intense glares she liked to reserve for him. She didn’t give him the satisfaction.
So he went to drum his fingers on the armrests and then studied the small imbedded monitors, using the panels to bring up status displays the way he had observed the captain do on occasions. “Everything seems to be fine here,” he said, trying to sound important.
“I’m getting some odd readings from the Borg ship,” said Allenby, fully focused on her station now.
“No, not okay,” she responded angrily. “Something very odd is happening over there.”
“Stop messing with me.”
She turned around to face the man in the center seat, her face a stern mask of professionalism. “I don’t mess around with those things, Ensign.”
He gulped. “Alright, what’s happening then?”
She turned back to her station. “I’m not sure but it almost looks as if—“
“Energy discharge from the Borg vessel,” the large-eyed Kamorian tactical officer shouted from his board, clearly having been caught completely off-guard.
All eyes darted to the view-screen just in time for them to witness a bright lance of emerald-green light being hurled at the Cuffe
DeSoto jumped onto his feet. “What’s going on?”
was just hit by an unknown weapon,” said Allenby. “All her systems are powering down.”
“The Borg vessel is turning,” the tactical officer said, his voice sounding ominous.
On the screen Hugh’s ship was quickly facing Agamemnon
and their gun points were glowing brightly even before it had completed the maneuver.
“They getting ready to fire on us,” Allenby cried.
“Shields. Raise shields. Do it, do it now,” DeSoto shouted, his voice cracking up noticeably.
But the energy discharges had already been released and instantly found the stationary and unprepared Agamemnon
, striking her head on. The ship heaved and buckled under the impact.
The alert siren began howling and the lights on the bridge turned dark red.
“Where are the shields? Do we have shields?” DeSoto asked desperately.
But even before he had finished his question, most of the consoles around him began to flicker and fluctuate. The main lighting cut off.
“We’re experiencing system-wide computer failures. Everything is shutting down. Weapons, shields, life support, everything,” said Allenby as she angrily banged against her console as if trying to pound it back into submission.
“Look,” Schmidt said from the helm. “It’s turning on the planet.”
The Kamorian at tactical confirmed. “It’s targeting the capital city.”
“The captain’s down there,” said DeSoto, clearly unable to believe what was happening. “We have to do something.”
Allenby turned form her station. “You’re in command, you give the orders.”
DeSoto stared at her in disbelieve. “What can we do? I don’t know what we can do with all systems failing. You take command, damn it, I’m just an ensign.”
She nodded. “Alright but first say you’re sorry.”
“Say you’re sorry for turning my breakfast into gagh
“I’m sorry, alright. I’m really, really sorry, now take command already.”
On the screen the Borg vessel was bringing its weapons online again, this time those gunports were pointing straight at the surface of the planet.
Tess Allenby stood from her station. “Say you’re sorry for messing with my sonic shower.”
“Are you insane? They’re about to kill the captain.”
But Allenby just crossed her arms under her chest, tapping her foot. “I’m still waiting.”
DeSoto turned to look at the other crewmembers on the bridge to see if anyone else had realized that Allenby had lost her mind. But nobody seemed to have noticed the obvious. He looked back at the screen where the Borg vessel still hovered and then at Allenby standing in the middle of the bridge with seemingly no care in the world that their captain was about to be annihilated.
Then Texx arrived on the bridge. “Ensign, is there something you want to say?”
Then the other shoe finally dropped. “I’m … sorry?” he offered to Allenby. “I’m sorry for everything I’ve done to you since you’ve been on board. It was childish, out of line and unbecoming of a Starfleet officer.”
She shrugged. “Good enough.”
The lights and all the consoles came back to life instantly. The screen shifted to show what had always been the case. Hugh’s vessel peacefully parked in geosynchronous orbit alongside Cuffe
Schmidt and the tactical officers couldn’t hold back chuckles.
DeSoto had never seen Allenby with a smile that big before. In fact he couldn’t remember ever having seen the icy woman smile at all. “That was cruel.”
“But so worth it.”
He looked at Texx who made no effort to keep his own smile in check. “You were in on it? You were all in on this?”
“Okay then, I’ll admit it, I have been totally and completely out-pranked and I feel absolutely devastated,” he said and let himself fall back into his now emptied chair at the conn. “You got me. You got me real good.”