OK, I may have to rename this story Wheel of Recovery
, with all due respect to the recent passing of Robert Jordan.
Seriously, if any reader is loosing interest in this story because it is getting too long without the recovery part, let me know.. Here is the next part.
Lt. Jg. Tara made her way quickly to the cargo area, holding her newly acquired antique phaser aimed at the deck, but at an angle away from her feet. Of the two crewmen that passed her enroute, both had the good sense to recognize her as a Starfleet officer before making the mistake ogling the lithe green Orion female. The fact that the two enlisted personnel were a bit nervous at the prospect of being assimilated by the Borg assisted in their reserved demeanor.
The cargo area was secure and upon hearing the announcement of an intruder in engineering, Tara made a quick judgment call and decided to see if she and her Type II phaser could help with that situation.
Stepping into the engineering compartment a minute later, she realized she was too late. Master Chief Rexar Arthrun, the Andorian engineer stood, helping Chief Marconi to his feet. Ensign Dulak knelt, examining an inert Borg drone lying on the floor, while a rather muscular crewman with some sort of large tool over his shoulder walked away, seemingly with a purpose.
Even as Tara stepped towards Master Chief Arthrun, the Cardassian Ensign stood and made his way to an engineering console to help a crewman already there.
“Master Chief...” Tara started, but was cut off as the Andorian walked to a nearby com panel and pushed a button. “Bridge, Master Chief Arthrun here, engineering is secure for the time being, only one Borg drone appeared and it has been neutralized.”
The surly voice of Chief Prak answered from the other end. “It’s about time, we’ve had ours out of commission for almost ten seconds. What took you so long?”
Master Chief Arthrun ignored the prod. “Is the ship secure?”
As if in answer to his question the voice of Commander Ridgeway resonated over the ship’s all-call speakers. “All hands this is the.... This is Commander Ridgeway. Two Borg drones have been neutralized and the security threat seems to be over for now. I’m keeping the Persepheron
at red alert until we are rid of the Borg vessel. I’ve ordered the armory opened and weapons disbursed to the security team. In addition, if you have any personal arms stored there, you are authorized to retrieve and carry them for the duration. Keep alert and report any more intruders to the Bridge immediately. Good work. That is all.”
The mic clicked off and someone whooped from the other end of the engine room. Master Chief Arthrun started to close the com circuit when Chief Prak spoke again.
“Ridgeway wants his crew to meet on the mess decks. Except you and Chief Macaroni, he says he wants you to get the deflector online. Have Thompson help you; he’s worked on it more than anyone else aboard. Better send anyone directly involved with sixing the drone too, Prak out.”
With that the Tellarite clicked the circuit closed from his end.
A noticeably small contingent sat around two of the small fixed dining tables. Commander Ridgeway had left Chief Prak in charge of the Bridge and the Persepherons
bridge crew manning all stations. Lieutenant Townsend, Captain O’Connell, Lieutenants Junior Grade Arjal Brak and T’Noor, had all accompanied him to the impromptu meeting.
Ridgeway wished privately for a briefing room as he paced, waiting for Ensign Dulak to arrive from engineering.
He didn’t have to wait long. Less than a minute later the Cardassian Ensign entered the mess decks trailed by Lieutenant Jg. Tara and a short, but muscular, crewman. The crewman had a large plasma-inductor spanner balanced over one shoulder. Tara still sported the old type II phaser she had carried from the bridge.
Ridgeway leaned forward with his palms on the surface of a table and was about to speak when the mess decks intercom buzzed and Chief Prak’s voice carried through it.
“Commander Ridgeway, Davis just finished the level four diagnostics on the subspace transmitter and it’s down like you suspected. As soon as we can spare someone from engineering I’ll get him working on it.”
Ridgeway walked to the com panel with a slight limp, punched the button and answered the Chief. “I’m sending Ensign Dulak up Chief. I don’t want to wait any longer than we have to until sending that distress call. It may seem like everything is under control for the time being, but I’d really like some backup in case the tables turn.”
When he answered, the Tellarite sounded relieved, or at least as relieved as a Tellarite would let on. “If that’s what you want Commander, anything else?”
Ridgeway sounded a bit puzzled as he answered. “No Chief, that will be all. You called me, remember?”
“Oh right I did. Prak out.” The com panel went dead and Ridgeway went back to his meeting.
“Dulak, before you head to the bridge, did you notice anything strange about the Borg drone? According to Captain O’Connell, the drone that materialized on the bridge didn’t have any nannites and only implanted one of the crewmembers with a tracking device instead of assimilating her.”
Dulak cocked his head slightly and replied, “I didn’t have much time for a formal examination Commander, but I did notice that it looked somehow more ‘primitive’ than the Borg in the Starfleet database.”
O’Connell chimed in, “I concur sir, primitive is as good a term as any to describe those drones. The injection technology used on Petty Officer Shelton was significantly less advanced than the flexible tubules used by the Borg to inject assimilation nannites.”
Looking at the Cardassian Ensign, O’Connell prompted, “Did you notice anything else Dulak?”
Dulak nodded, “Other than a general decrease in engineering complexity of its cybernetic implants, I noticed that the living tissue next to the implants seemed inflamed. The redness and swelling was not reported on any Borg studied previously.”
Dismissively, O’Connell attempted to correct Dulak, “That wouldn’t have been covered in the engineering studies and data, Ensign.”
Dulak smiled but kept his tone neutral. “Doctor, I was referring to the medical reports in that instance. When I went through my unit on the Borg at the academy it seemed limiting to only look at the purely engineering based data, considering how the Borg are cybernetic organisms.”
O’Connell smiled, promising herself to never underestimate the engineer again. “Nice work, Dulak. I’m glad to have you with us.”
“Thank you, Doctor.”
Ridgeway broke the moment, “Dulak, I think that’s enough for now. Why don’t you go see about that subspace transmitter?”
Dulak nodded, “Aye sir, I’m on it,” and walked away towards the bridge.
Crewman Kellis watched him leave and leaned casually against a support column, content to wait to be addressed.
Drawing in a breath to begin speaking, Ridgeway coughed in surprise when another crewman he hadn’t seen before came walking through the mess decks. She was carrying, as near as he could figure, a Thompson sub-machine gun, complete with the requisite round drum-magazine.
For a second Ridgeway reconsidered his statement about releasing personal arms from the weapons locker, then he remembered why he did it in the first place. “Do you know how to shoot that?”
The crewman stopped in place and actually rolled her eyes before replying, “Dis pea shootah? Of coase I doose.” In demonstration, she slung the gun up and grabbed the forward grip in her left hand before sweeping the gun back and forth towards the back bulkhead, making a ‘rat tat tat’ sound in emulation of a projectile machine gun with a slow rate of fire.
Seeing the stunned look on Ridgeway’s face, the crewman laughed and continued on her way. As she walked off Ridgeway noticed how her short blonde hair was bobbed at an angle in an outrageously archaic hairdo. It fit perfectly with the pictures he had seen of the time period on Earth when the Thompson was a popular weapon. At least she hadn’t been in the process of chewing gum.
Kellis noticed Ridgeway’s surprise and, as if it explained everything, said, “That’s Parker. She’s Iotian.”
Struggling to maintain focus, Ridgeway wished for the second time in several minutes for a briefing room. “What we have here seems to be a mostly disabled Borg vessel from a somehow more primitive version. That’s the good news.”
“The bad news is, since the Persepheron
is unarmed, they probably have us outgunned. Hopefully the supply of Borg drones is limited and they have decided to divert their efforts back to escaping our tractor beams.”
T’Noor raised her hand, a gesture straight out of the academy, but one that had its desired effect. Ridgeway acknowledged her question. “What is it Lieutenant?”
“Sir, I was unable to get an accurate reading on the number of Borg still on the damaged vessel. It would be illogical to conjecture concerning the quantity of drones.”
Ridgeway smiled, “Quite right Mister T’Noor, which is why I want to send over a boarding party to investigate.”
Lieutenant Beverly Townsend spoke up, obviously shaken up by Ridgeway’s statement. “That’s insa.. You can’t be ser..” She had to cut herself off several times as she searched for words that wouldn’t sound so insubordinate, but she still wasn’t quite used to the idea of Rdigeway being her CO. He was only a few years her senior and Townsend was used to Captains being ‘seasoned’ Starfleet officers.
“Sir, we still don’t have communications. No one knows we have even encountered the Borg. The deflector is down. One of the Persepheron’s
crew has already been attacked and injured by a Borg raiding party. All of this is happening while we are going warp three and pushing a damaged Borg vessel in front of us as a makeshift deflector shield.”
Townsend held up her hand, palm towards Ridgeway as she took a deep breath in attempt to calm herself. “And now you want to risk members of this crew to satisfy your curiosity?”
As soon as the words left her mouth she regretted them. Townsend knew she had gone too far. “I’m sorry sir, that was out of line. It’s just...”
Ridgeway interrupted, “It’s a valid question Lieutenant.” Ridgeway looked at each of his future crew seated at the table. “I want each of you to know that at any briefing I am holding, you may assume permission to speak freely. That being said, I would appreciate if you would not abuse that privilege and try to keep your comments constructive and avoid purely emotional outbursts.”
He noticed that T’Noor raised an eyebrow when he mentioned emotional outbursts. Smiling briefly, he continued, quickly becomming serious. “So, to answer your question Lieutenant, No, I do not want to risk the lives of anyone onboard Persepheron
to satisfy my curiosity. Unfortunately, we have encountered Borg unlike any ever seen before by the Federation. Believe me, part of me wants to ditch that ship into the nearest star and be done with it.”
“But I cannot, in clear conscience, pass up the opportunity to discover, or at least try to discover, why that ship is here, why the Borg on it are so different, and if there are more like it headed towards the Federation.”
“I’m not going into a history lesson, because I am sure all of you are aware that the Federation has just been through two of the most costly wars in its existance. One of those was with the Borg. If there is the slightest chance that this isn’t just an anomaly, isn’t just a lost and forgotten piece of a centuries-old derelict, and is instead part of a new invasion force, then our inaction could prove a far greater threat to the Federation than any risk to us caused by our actions here.”
A subdued Beverly Townsend asked quietly, “Who are you taking on the away team?”
Ridgeway shook his head. “I’m not leading the team, you are.”
Shocked, Townsend managed to blurt, “But I’ve never even seen a Borg before today, other than holodeck simulations.”
Putting just a little edge to his voice, Lieutenant Commander Ridgeway assumed more of a command presence. “To the best of my knowledge, no one aboard the Persepheron
, myself included, has actually been onboard a Borg vessel. In that respect, everyone is in the same boat. The only thing that makes me any different, Starfleet protocol against commanding officers going on away missions not withstanding, is that I had a starship blown out from under me by the Borg at Wolf 359. As contrary as it may seem, that makes me more valuable on the bridge of the Persepheron
in the event of any more ship level activity.”
Townsend, having regained her composure somewhat, asked “Who’s on my team?”
Ridgeway didn’t ask for volunteers, but all four other officers seated at the briefing raised their hands. Great,
Ridgeway thought to himself, now I have to worry about not letting someone go on this away mission.
“I think we should keep this away team small to avoid problems. Hopefully these Borg will follow the pattern of prior reported encounters and ignore anything that seems to pose no threat. I’m assigning Ensign Dulak to the team. His job will be to interface with the computer systems onboard the vessel and record any pertinant data recoverable in a limited time frame, say five or ten minutes.”
“Other than that, Lieutenant Tara will go as security. I expect you to use force only if the situation turns dire. If you actually engage the Borg, Tara, your only mission will be to get you and the team out in one piece.”
“Any larger group than that, and I think they might perceve it as a threat. Oh, and Lieutenant, your other job will be to scan as much as possible with your tricorder for later analysis.”
“Captain O’Connel, Lieutenant T’Noor, Lieutenant Brak, I think you all would be more valuable here. Brak on the helm, T’Noor on the sensors. We’re going to have to drop out of warp to transport, and I want the Borg ship monitored closely for any sign that it is regenerating. Captain, just in case we get casualties..”
Ensign Dulak stepped onto the bridge, looking around curiously. “Commander Ridgeway sent me to help repair the subspace transmitter,” he said to no one in particular.
A hand waved from underneath one of the bridge consoles. Dulak, puzzled, walked over and peered at the prone figure partway inside the open access panel. “Are you trying to fix the transmitter? I would like to look at whatever diagnostics you have run so far, if they are available.”
Another hand, holding a mag-wrench, reached out and grasped the top of the console and the crewman heaved himself out from his position inside. Standing, he started to brush off and straighten his coveralls, but as he saw the Cardassian his hands slowed to a crawl.
“I didn’t know there were any Cardassians in Starfleet?” Dulak had to give the man credit. Most people just went around looking slightly uncomfortable with the question unasked. His candor was actually refreshing.
Dulak smiled, his eyes widening slightly, “I assure you, I come in peace. There are two of us, I believe. A female is currently in her second year at the academy, an orphan from Bajor as am I. But there will be time to chat later, I think we should focus on getting that transmitter up or we might find ourselves having this conversation in Borg machine-code.”
The joke went over Davis’s head, but he attempted a polite chuckle anyway. “OK, here’s those diags.” Davis reached over to the console and punched up the level four and level five diagnostics he had run.
Dulak looked at them for less than a minute before commenting. “I think the problem may be in the signal encoder, or possibly the transceiver buffer. We should close up here and run a level three diagnostic. We can check the results from the equipment room.”
Davis looked at Chief Prak, “Chief, the Ensign seems to know what he’s talking about. I’d like to go down with him and check it out.”
Chief Prak didn’t even look up from his tractor beam controls. He just barked, “Bah, what are you asking me for, get going.”
Davis started closing up the access panel when Chief Prak made it apparent he was paying attention to his bridge. “Still here? I’ll have someone else do that, run your level three and scram.”
“Aye Chief.” Davis answered, already punching in the diagnostic codes from the panel. He motioned for Dulak to follow him out the door, and walked quickly off the bridge.
Master Chief Arthrun looked at Chief Marconi and nodded. “Alright Chief,” he allowed himself a slight grin at Chief Prak’s likening Marconi to an Earth-style pasta, but that was all. “We’ve got a new assignment, I’m sure you heard. Let’s get to it. Petty Officer Thompson, do you have someone who can relieve you at the tractor beam station?”
The crewman nodded and called out, “Richelieu!” From around a corner a crewman answered “What?” in a nasally voice.
“Get over here, I need to you to watch this panel.”
Around the corner walked the skinniest Bolian Master Chief Arthrun had seen in his decades in Starfleet. So far, the diverse nature of the crew went a long way to explain why not much fuss had been made about the four non-human members arriving enroute to the Shepard
. How a blue skinned Bolian had ended up with a name like Richelieu, the Master Chief had no clue, but he dismissed that question as trivial.
“What am I watching Thompson?” The Bolian asked.
“Nothing much, just these three tractor beams we have hooked onto the Borg ship that wants to assimilate us. Chief Prak is up on the bridge making some wild adjustments to the power levels from there. All you have to do is keep them from red-lining. Can you handle it?”
Despite the threat of the Borg, Richelieu seemed cool and collected, almost relaxed. “No problem PO.”
Thompson took a few seconds to point out some of the more common adjustments Chief Prak was making and how he had been compensating for them. The Bolian nodded and Thompson stepped away, relinquishing the controls.
“Alright Master Chief, let’s fix us a deflector.”
While his grammar left something to be desired, the intent was correct. Master Chief Arthrun nodded at both Thompson and Marconi. “Let’s fix us a deflector,” he repeated.