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Old May 14 2011, 11:27 AM   #16
Triskelion
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Re: Star Trek: Wildfire

(...cont'd from previous page)




Seven in Red:

pt. 6/6





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.”

“Aye Commander.”

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!”

“On screen!”

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.




“Commander.”

“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.”

“Explain.”

“Well. You know those pain suits the Enqari like so much? With the collars?”

“Doctor....”

“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.”

She smiled.




Vorik to Commander Seven of Nine.

Seven woke and righted herself in silk sheets, pulling back her tresses. “What is it, Mister Vorik?”

The whirlwind.




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.

Perseus.”

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.”






***

Last edited by Triskelion; May 14 2011 at 05:38 PM.
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Old September 15 2011, 02:48 PM   #17
Triskelion
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Re: Star Trek: Wildfire









34 This Mortal Warp Coil







Vortex.



Reaching out to it, he watches his hand demolecularize.

Atoms eroding, scattering toward the raging cosmic maelstrom.

He is drawn into the gravitic turbulence of Slipstream: a living thread skeined in time and space, matter and antimatter.

Fire. And ice.



Losing himself in momentum, he falls through the vast, churning spectral rupture with a soundless scream.

He disintegrates into particle and wave. Propelling faster than his atoms, faster than his light. Melding into the fabric of the universe, he rides the living wheel of light.

He is become speed.



Particle and wave.

Fire and ice.

We are Slipstream.



He thought he heard something:

A breath, a voice –

No, a force.

Whispering to him from gravimetric shear.



You can't outrun yourself, she said.



B'Elanna.

He rages across the galaxy.

B'Elanna!



The galaxy swarms with spectroscopic complexity. He sees the entire electromagnetic band – every star, every sacred nuclei – and understands so much more, so much less.

The galaxy gazes into him: a luminous, all-seeing eye.


Gravity impels him, presses hard into phantom flesh and bone, and he is tunneling into a brilliant light. It invades and breaks the seals of his eyes.

Somehow his scorched body is whole again. The light charges through his burnt out husk like an electric current. A blurry figure moves in his field of vision. White...and blue.

Neurons spark, sputter into unfocused recognition: a humanoid. White...and blue. Hovering.


“Ice...planet,” he rasps.

The radiance burns his eyes.

Antenna retracting, the Andorian looks up at someone. "There goes my private room.”

Tom cackles at Ujio Shir, and spirals down...to fire...ice....

...and Vortex.



***
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Old September 15 2011, 03:23 PM   #18
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Re: Star Trek: Wildfire









35 Rustweed


1/6




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.



*

Last edited by Triskelion; September 15 2011 at 04:41 PM.
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Old September 15 2011, 03:27 PM   #19
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Re: Star Trek: Wildfire


Rustweed


2/6


Her thoughts turned to her fellow crew – and her Captain. Taking the Perseus Primary cruiser, Captain Paris and Ujio Shir had been caught by an Enqarian dreadnought tractor beam. Seven of Nine held most of the diminished crew on the Secondary cruiser. Whether either ship could escape the sun death in time, remained persistently unknown.

The shock nova had caught the entirety of the Borg fleet off guard – as well as, in all likelihood, the other Perseus cruisers. Vexa had not given herself time to reflect upon that logical probability; yet she knew, like Vulcan fever in the blood, that some crises were no matter of if, but when they would happen. And her reflection on the other component cruisers of the U.S.S. Perseus – lost with all hands in the uncharted space of the Delta Quadrant – was a shock she could not defer much longer, regardless of the exigencies of command.



Illogical, she brooded.

Using a clearing technique she had learned from Doctor Salvatore, who had described it from the late Commander Tiroj, Vexa drew her attention away from the obsessive Borg problem – and what it distracted her from – to refresh her worn concentration. She would focus momentarily on an unrelated detail in her present surroundings.

She studied Commander Munich, whose hair had remained the same metallic violet color for the past three days now. Vexa noted the subtle shifts of color with a logical fascination; it never seemed to change from day to day, but in the space of every few days, it usually appeared an entirely different hue. It seemed no band of the visible spectrum was above service. She wondered if it had anything to do with Jace's description of Munich as – “vivacious” - and his autonomic circulatory responses to the Commander's presence even beyond the protocols of rank. Even if that were the case, it wasn't as if Vexa could ever affect such a vivid feature herself, and even if so, how would he, this illogical, unnoticing Jace –

“–disabling the chronophasic matrix? Vexa?”

“I – I beg your pardon Commander. The – chronophasic matrix?”

“To split the stream.”

Compound hull metrics and chronophasic calculations whirred effortlessly through Vexa's mind. “It would require testing, perhaps in a holographic simulation; however it is theoretically sound. I might be able to split the stream exactly enough to alter the Heavy Cruiser's trajectory into a new course. They would of course be unable to maintain slipstream velocity for long but it should be enough to send them any number of light years distant.”

“Exactly enough,” Grif repeated.

She leveled at him. “I have begun to realize, in my work particle mapping, and indeed, in numerous other events during this mission, that applying theoretical models in the field is often tasked by irreconcilable factors of unforeseen physics and humanoid failing –”

“Oh, I get it, Lieutenant. Reality sometimes gets in the way of logic.”

“What you call reality is logic poorly understood.”

“And what you call humanoid failing is logic poorly obeyed. To some of us flawed humanoids, logic is a tool, not the master. Life's a pain in the aft, sometimes, isn't it. I just wonder what the Vulcan Science Directorate would say if they heard you admitting to poor logic. Probably say you don't get enough practice, way out here in the real worlds.”

“I cannot argue your point, Lieutenant,” she turned from him. He may have only been trying to lighten his mood, or in some way, her own, but – Vexa was in no mind for illogical repartee with this...she centered her thoughts – again. He probably hadn't even noticed he'd been insulted, and his argument destroyed. Yet Vexa could not deny that Jace had more readily assimilated into the command structure than she. It would be wise, she thought, to study such imprecision for a reference point. When it came to dealing with non-Vulcan crew.

“Better use all hailing frequencies, Vexa,” Commander Munich said to her, resting her head on her hand. “For a distress call.”

Grif scanned his PADD while Vexa and Munich shared an unspoken understanding. The Commander shifted a glance between her two officers, and Vexa knew she knew. There was no logical indication – Commander Munich gave zero signal. Yet somehow, Vexa knew, that exo-behavioral expert knew. Or maybe it was another kind of expertise.

Most illogical, she cogitated. She watched for any inhibitory sign from the Commander. Yet so far, none had been volunteered. Although Vexa's entire neurosensory network was giving alarm, her interior being suddenly exposed like this - logic fortunately agreed: an absence of vested personal interest from the Commander to a certain Tactical officer would not be disagreeable. With a previously unseen sensitivity - among humans - even under these stressed conditions, Commander Munich had spared Vexa of even a microscopic indication of her awareness of incongruency in Vexa's interior logic. And Vexa now knew something previously unspoken of the Commander, as well – that she had spent an extended time on Vulcan.

Vexa weighed her reasoning based on nothing more than hypothesis, absent of logical evidence – and queried whether there wasn't more truth to Jace's argument than she cared to admit. What was happening to her on this ship?

Everything she had been taught, everything she was; the unique and ancient heritage of T'Khasi, Vulcan – was somehow being called into question at every whim of these humanoids. She promised herself she would never allow such irreverence to alter her own meticulously-crafted constructions – no matter how long she was to serve among emotional humanoids.

But whether the universe would support her logic – was an entirely different matter. The shock nova defied logic, existing in defiance of all known physics, all known theory, here, in real space. Vexa couldn't help but wonder what other elements in the cosmos would defy logic as humanoids understood it? She began to perceive a hidden cost to Starship duty. A personal metamorphosis no planet-dweller might understand.

Jace, fortunately, spared them all further difficulty and turned his attention from his PADD to the Heavy Cruiser. “Splitting the slipstream will only put off the inevitable confrontation, Commander,” he insisted. “We can't leave these Borg free to roam the galaxy. We have to eliminate this threat. And we can't do that using all our power in theoretical applications. We have to drop out of slipstream and fight while we are strong, and ready, and at the moment of our choosing. It's an advantage we're not likely to get again.”

“Like the Rucarel.”

“Yes, Vexa. Like the Rucarel. A security solution.” It was his chance to turn from her. “An egghead solution won't cut it this time. This isn't some logical puzzle to be turned over and reset if we fail.”

“One might say the same of the alternative...'meathead' solution you would prefer.”

He slammed the table and stood, genuinely startling Vexa as he leaned over her. “I would prefer preventing the creation of an enemy in the first place; barring that, I would prefer eliminating that enemy during its gestation, rather than after it has carved up your world into neat little pieces!

“By attacking the Rucarel, my father risked his life against highly improbable odds; but he took that chance – because the possibility of that ship delivering its cargo to the waiting Xepolite fleet would have meant a plague harvest on every planet in the sector - the starvation of billions! And an unwinnable situation. Unlike the Rucarel, there's more at stake with that ship out there than control of a sector.

“We're talking about sparing the entire galaxy from the Borg, right here and now. How many thousands, tens of thousands of planets had the Borg destroyed? How many worlds had they razed? This is the moment to carve out their malignancy from the galaxy. That alien – she was more advanced than any of us, and she knew this. That's why she eliminated the whole Enqar system, and now it's up to us to round up the remainder who haven't yet realized they are already dead - who haven't yet learned that in this galaxy, the cult of living death will find no more acre!

“And with nothing at hand but what's at hand, here and now, with this third of a ship and fully animated crew. It is time for the Borg to die, and for the living to claim our space - logically, passionately, fearfully, for all holy hell ever after by the Prophets or the pick-axes, whatever is in reach!”

Vexa saw, for a timeless moment she would not forget, a living something, carried through a people and a generation - that once mobilized a planet to rise up and overthrow a tyranny. His father, alive in him. His freedom, burning across humanoid hearts like a wildfire.

Munich stood and put her hand on his shoulder, quieting him. She drifted to the viewport in thought, while her two officers regarded each other in silence.

After a minute, Commander Munich spoke: “You have convinced me, Lieutenants. Our situation calls for nothing less than our survival and success, if we want to escape the fate of the Enqari. Eliminating the Borg before they start assimilating worlds again is unquestionably the right thing to do, at any cost to this ship and crew.” Commander Munich turned to the table, and looked at the empty chairs for advisement that was unavailable. They were it. “But as my father said, there's more than one way to skin a cat.”

Vexa turned to her. “I beg your pardon, Commander. I fail to see the relevance of Terran culinary preparation to this discussion.”

Masu boshaya isha ipik mev, Ve Xa.”

Illustration of the Commander's deft understanding of Vulcan culture was complete. Not by her demonstration of language – any school child could display that accomplishment. Not even for the selection of this particular proverb, from one of the off-worlder-restricted texts of the Kolinahr. But to allow Vexa to broach the topic of the Commander's experience on Vulcan, without being forced to acknowledge her previous demonstration of Vulcan cultural adroitness.

In the sudden pall that had descended on their fate, the Commander was extending to Vexa an offer of personal association, what her humans called friendship; giving them both a way to broach an area of potential common interest. It produced an illogical, yet strangely quelling effect. Vexa studied the Commander's neural encoder, and found herself mystified by the question of whether it permitted the Commander to realize such sensitivities in any other of the eleven hundred seventy-three languages she spoke fluently. Such a mind would be of unfathomable value to Starfleet, the Federation, and all the worlds they might encounter.

Ki'gla-tor nash-veh, T'Kehr,” Vexa replied. “Water finds hidden channels.” The Commander indicated a distinct, illogical pleasure at Vexa's unexpected Vulcan honorific; normally restricted to formal use, but in this context, a lighter expression of familiarity – and an invitation into her cultural sphere. The offer of friendship – was reciprocated – and a rare opportunity for a Vulcan to extend to an off-worlder. Vexa turned to Grif, who, at a loss for contribution, had called up a magnification of the Borg power drive installations. “The commander meant, we will end this threat with logical certitude and finality – at the precise moment of our choosing.”

Grif inhaled to speak.

When I'm satisfied we have a plan that will succeed,” Munich added. “And not a moment before. Courage – notwithstanding, Grif.” She turned to Vexa. “How long can we maintain current velocity?”

“We could maintain it all the way back to the Alpha quadrant, if that is your determination, Commander. However there is another matter. I have analyzed the Borg ship. While they may not realize it yet, they do have the potential to destabilize the slipstream using their own deflector. It involves a variation on the theta band microinversion they used to keep the quantum threshold open. Once they have found this tactic I surmise it will take them a minimum of ten hours to make the necessary modifications to their energy configuration.”

“And how long to make that determination?”

“Unknown. They may have already made it.”

“Then we have an eight hour window of action before the Borg can decide it for us. For now we'll work on the plan with the greatest chance of success.” She stood. “Splitting the slipstream.”

Grif jabbed his PADD and powered it off.

Munich continued, “Keep working on your tactical attack, Grif. I want to see what you come up with before I give the order to split the stream. Vexa, you have the bridge; set up Operation Split Stream. I'm going to the transporter room to see if I can learn more about that little Borg signal that so easily fooled our computing systems.

“Don't worry, Grif. The Borg – have not seen the last of the USS Perseus. Hourly reports. Let's get to it.” Commander Munich stood, and swayed unsteadily.

“Commander, are you alright?” Vexa asked.

Munich fell.

Vexa went to her; her neural encoder was shrouded in some kind of power surge, and her ear was bleeding. Commander Munich's body fell into a seizure.

“Nikhila!” Grif ripped the earpiece from her and tapped his communicator. “Computer emergency site to site transport. Two to beam directly to Sickbay.”

“Just like the Borg,” he looked up at Vexa. “Ganging up on the one.”



*

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Old September 15 2011, 03:37 PM   #20
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Re: Star Trek: Wildfire

Rustweed

3/6



Vexa entered the battle bridge in a hurry and displaced a holographic crewman at Ops. On the split screen of the viewer, the radiating gravimetric matrix of the slipstream horizon, unfolding over light years in advance of their ship; on the other half, the Borgified Enqarian Heavy Cruiser, some distance behind.

Subspace analysis revealed the Borg signal as a more powerful version of the one used by the drone. It had overridden a shipboard communications assembly and shunted a powerful long range signal burst to the nanotube transceiver filaments of the Commander's neural encoder. Vexa began to analyze the command pathways which allowed the signal to override the shipboard systems. Blocking this carrier wave would make little difference if the Borg could simply access another component.

“Communications is the only way the Borg can reach us, Lieutenant,” the young human female pilot told her. “The Enqarian ship just wasn't built for these forces, even with the Borg enhancements. The most they can do is maintain equilibrium of the slipstream – and hope we fall out of it.”

“An advantage they are about to lose, Ensign Leroux.”

Vexa powered up a running simulation of the chronophasic matrix and began her slipstream calculations.

“Borg Heavy Cruiser holding at nineteen point three seconds behind,” said Ensign Leroux, “at current quantum slipstream velocity.”

“Precisely the slope of the learning curve,” Vexa said, “between theory and execution.”

The pilot turned to Vexa, to wonder about her logic.



Vexa looked over her complex model of chronophasic emission dynamics. The Tertiary cruiser schematic rotated on her workstation display, callouts streaming with equations. She cycled through each stage, and checked emission profiles for unforeseen imbalances adapting the chronometry to only the bottom third of the tactical cruiser Perseus. Normally functioning as the bottom half of the Perseus secondary hull, the Tertiary cruiser had a flat dorsal profile with a deltoid forward hull. Its body supported the main deflector and culminated in two great, downturned sovereign nacelles. The Belly of the Beast, as the Human crew had dubbed it; an illogic she did not care to fathom.

Tapping through each abstracted, animated stage, she watched the three-dimensional quantum slipstream wireframe diverge into a double stream, one with a variable exit point. This would carry the Borg Heavy Cruiser an indeterminate distance, and with equal probability, overwhelm their ship's structural integrity in the endpoint fluctuations. Logic satisfied, she applied the finishing touches on the ship's gravimetric and navigational dynamics, and programmed power distribution allocations. Then she linked the command routing sequence with the ship's emission matrix and the main deflector, and coded the arming sequence.

“Lieutenant....” the pilot said, gazing at the main viewer.

Vexa looked, and tapped her communicator. “Lieutenant Grifahni to the bridge.”

- On my way.



The turbolift door whirred open and Grif stepped through, confronting the viewer. The Borg Heavy Cruiser had narrowed the gap considerably, and was closing in on the Tertiary.

“Looks like they were playing their cards close to the chest,” he said.

“The Borg have evidently exceeded the structural limitations of the Enqari vessel,” Vexa replied. “Modifications to our deflector are complete. We are ready to split the slipstream.”

Grif shook his head. “Munich is under. The EMH says she'll require some neural reconstruction, but that damage was limited by the design specifications of the encoder. She'll be out at least a few more hours for surgery. How long until the Borg get within firing range?”

“A minimum of five minutes, Lieutenant,” said the pilot Leroux.

“Change of plan,” Grif said to Vexa. “I have command.”

“Main deflector armed and ready to split the stream,” said the pilot, voicing her mind indirectly. The bridge holographic crew worked in the background, out of the command loop.

“Take your station, Lieutenant Grifahni,” Vexa asserted. “Commander Munich left the bridge to me. We certainly do not have time to construct a new plan of action.”

“The Borg aren't leaving us any choice, Lieutenant Vexa,” Grif warned.

“Our orders are explicit, Lieutenant. Going outside chain of command nearly landed us in a court martial once before. Did you not learn from that experience?”

“I did. I learned that out here, you do what needs to be done. Back home, they rake you over the coals.” He moved to the center seat. “The rest is incidental.”

“Stand down, Lieutenant Grifahni,” Vexa interposed herself between him and the chair and stood her ground, and Grif stopped up short. Doctor Salvatore's command training had not been lost on her. “Do not force me to activate the ESH security enhancements.”

“Lieutenants!” Leroux shouted.

The Borg Heavy Cruiser was upon them. And well-transformed across every visible square meter of hull.

Grif reacted first, by launching himself to the tactical station. Vexa scrambled down to the Ops station. “Code orange. Launching stream sequence.”

The bridge lighting burned orange under a warning klaxon, while the ship went to alert. On the forward screen, gravimetric radials began to form and alter the flow of the slipstream's shear forces.

“Arming aft torpedo launchers,” Grif interrupted.

“Stand down, Lieutenant!” Vexa bit, as she concentrated on her matrix.

The slipstream began to diverge. The ship shook as the port side gravimetric shear cut behind them, cutting off the course from the Borg.

“Subspace microinversion in progress!” Grif shouted. “The Borg have adapted! They're punching through!”

Vexa adapted her own output. “Divert power from weapons systems to navigation! Now, Grif!” After a moment of no change, she persisted: “I gave you an order, Lieutenant!

“Power diverting now!” Grif shouted. “From life support decks twelve through fifteen! Deck evacuation in progress! Five seconds!”

No, Grif!” Vexa shouted, hanging on as the ship slammed hard against the shear line. The Perseus Tertiary yawed in the roiling slipstream shears.

Chronophasic matrix destabilizing!” shouted Leroux.



– EMH to bridge. What's going on up there!

“We are skirting a quantum gravimetric shear, Doctor,” Vexa shouted over the din of the engines and shield feedback.

– And I'm trying to conduct a surgery here!

“Would you prefer the Borg to complete your work, Doctor?”

– A few more minutes and there'll be nothing left to complete! Sick bay out!



“Microinversion collapsing the stream!”
shouted Leroux, blazing at her helm to keep navigation under control in the cosmic forces.

The weapons klaxon sounded. “Torpedoes away!” shouted Grif. “Full spread!

Vexa raced to make her corrections. The torpedoes were just about to destroy her work. She fired a fierce glare at the tactical station, and for the first time in her life, considered using a phaser on a living being.

Lieutenant! The Borg!” Leroux shouted. On the viewer, the Borg Heavy Cruiser was impaling the turbulence behind them, holding together through the worst of the storming shearline. A spread of ignited photon torpedoes pulsed at the enemy ship from multiple origin points on the Tertiary cruiser's weapons arrays.

The photon torpedoes struck the turbulence and detonated into great space-tearing streamers. It engulfed the Borg cruiser in a conflagration while the slipstream burned behind them like a lit fuse.

Direct hits!

The ship began to roll.

Structural integrity field down to forty percent! Thirty! Twenty-five! I can't re-establish!” Grif called out. “Shear forces will tear her apart!

Maximum power to engines!” Vexa shouted. “Steady the ship, Ensign!

That's all we've got, Lieutenant!” The console began to spark and overload.

Vexa cut power to Ops and bounded up the stairs to the center seat. “Tactical, signs of the Borg!

Sensors overloaded! Status of Borg vessel unknown! Damn! Structural integrity seven percent and falling!

Leroux!” Vexa shouted. “Rotate forward shield frequency -

I've got the shields!” Grif interjected.

- to an inverse harmonic of the chronophase! Theta one-eighty, emission aperture one! Temporal variance one point vinculum three microseconds! On my mark!

What's that mean!” shouted Grif.

In three! Two!

It means hang on to your boots, things are about to get theoretical!” shouted Leroux, and activated the sequence.

Mark!

The ship's outer shielding began to phase in time. Its envelope blazed as ions seemed to dissolve and extend ahead and astern in space. Suddenly a convoy of ships appeared in the slipstream before – and behind them.

The Tertiary cruiser occupied hundreds of points in time along the slipstream simultaneously for a few seconds, as the pilot reestablished the chronophasic matrix and brought navigation under control. One by one the ships merged back to their original temporal source point, and the USS Perseus Tertiary cruiser, whole again, blasted through its quantum slipstream exit point into normal space.



*
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Old September 15 2011, 03:46 PM   #21
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Re: Star Trek: Wildfire

Rustweed

4/6



Systems came offline and ship's status returned to normal. Grif looked at Vexa. “That was new.”

Leroux looked around. “I was a hundred different people just now.”

Vexa analyzed her chair sensor readings. “Four hundred eighteen, to be precise, Ensign.” She looked at the viewer. “Curious sensation.”

Vexa regained her composure and completed her analysis. “Sensors.”

Grif replied, “All clear, Lieutenant. The Borg ship is nowhere to be found. We did it!”

“The torpedo detonations collapsed the threshold of the quantum bifurcation,” Vexa persisted. “The other stream may not have held.” She turned to the tactical station, calmer now, cooler now, but with a conviction that felt like desert-baked bedrock. “Lieutenant Grifahni. Your refusal to obey orders caused a mission failure.”

“And quite probably spared the galaxy a new enemy. I'll pay that price.”

“Nevertheless, as we are still alive to perform duty, my duty is clear.” She stood and faced him. “Lieutenant Grifahni Jace, you are hereby relieved of duty and confined to quarters pending further evaluation. Computer, security protocol seven one eight.”

Two Emergency Security Holograms compiled on either side of Grif.

“I trust you will not resist, Lieutenant.”

“No, I'll go.” He stopped at the turbolift. “I just hope you don't regret this later, Vexa.”

“Regret,” she replied, “is your logic. Not mine.”



“Vexa to sick bay, report.”

– Sick bay here. We had some problem with power fluctuations but managed to pull through using a portable holographic generator. Nothing like a little field medicine to keep a doctor sharp. You know, these holographic systems are programmed with all the latest techniques and marvels of modern medicine, but for a while there I had a moment of deja vu working as a frontier medic again, stitching up neural connections with crossed fingers. Not that I ever did, mind you, being a poor simulacrum of that outstanding physician and unmatched bottle washer – but I remember it like I did. A little mending of the temporal lobe and our patient is doing fine. She'll be on her feet in a day or two. Until then, you'll have to make do in the big chair, Lieutenant.

“Logical work, Doctor. When would a visit be permissible?”

– A few hours, Lieutenant. For any normal humanoid it would have been a minor procedure. But this one – I've never seen so much neural activity, even during alternating wave cycles. Outside a Borg, that is. Had a lot of repairing to do. A little downtime will be good for her.

“Thank you Doctor.”

Bridge, one other thing.

“Yes Doctor?”

About the officer who brought her in.

“Lieutenant Grifahni.”

He was adamant about being called the moment surgery ended. Yet I can't seem to, uh, contact him.

“Thank you, Doctor.” Vexa paused in acceptance of logical truth. “I'll see he is informed.”



“Can we resume course, Ensign?” Vexa asked Leroux.

“Engine power is experiencing some fluctuation, Lieutenant.”

Vexa straightened in the command seat, redoubling her concentration. “Vexa to Ensign Hret.”

– Hret here. We lost three CP emitters in the temporal event, Lieutenant. Had several relays fuse across every deck. I'd like to run a full diagnostic on warp and quantum systems to be safe. Give us a chance to replace some of these systemwide components and avoid any unforeseen imbalances in TPS distribution. I'm also detecting some minor fluctuation readings with the matter/antimatter reaction I'd like to pin down. An hour?

Vexa looked at Ensign Leroux, whose temple was running with blood. “Ensign, are you -”


Behind the Ensign, a quantum vortex ripped space into an energetic turmoil on the main viewer.

A salvo of lit energy torpedoes emerged and arced toward them. Then the Borg Heavy Cruiser streamed into position and fired its disruptors, delivering a devastating broadsides as it passed.



The Perseus Tertiary quaked, systems exploded, power and holograms began winking out.

“Shields! Evasive maneuvers!” Vexa commanded. “Red alert!”

The ship shuddered against the explosive impacts. Engines surged with power and relays began blowing out.

The Tertiary pitched downward through the torpedo detonations.



Several engineering crew entered the bridge. “Ensigns! Man those stations!” Vexa ordered. “All weapons! Maximum yield! Target their forward stardrive!”

The Tertiary discharged phasers and photon torpedoes against the Heavy Cruiser, and spiraled away to strafe with its aft weapons arrays, while minimizing its target profile. “Direct hits!” said the Ensign. “That thing they call a stardrive is as fragile as it looks! They're pulling off!”

The Borg stardrive fractured and disgorged a trail of charged electroplasma, and the Heavy Cruiser began to keel. Vexa held off ordering pursuit; a wounded enemy was a desperate enemy, and the Tertiary had its own wounds to assess. The ships drifted apart.

“Vexa to Engineering! Status of quantum drive!”

– That last attack overloaded a deflector manifold, Lieutenant! We're bypassing and sending in repair teams now! Lieutenant, the warp fluctuations are a likely result of the chronophasic temporal event; it's doing something to our warp mix. We're showing a multiphasic variance in harmonic band frequencies. I've never seen anything like it. It's like – it's sprung a leak into another phase, Lieutenant.


“Do not be alarmed, Ensign. It is likely an ionic phase misalignment in subspace radiative geometries. Exposing the core to prolonged inverted metaphasic pulses can realign core phase reactions and restore efficiency.”

– And...just how does one go about configuring something like that, Lieutenant?

“I'm on my way, Ensign Hret. Leroux, will you be -”

“Go, Lieutenant,” Leroux replied. “I've had light sparring injuries worse than this. And the Borg seem to be adrift.”

“You have the bridge, Ensign.” Vexa took one last look at the retreating cruiser. “Let me know the second they alter course.”

“Will do, Lieutenant. Lieutenant!”

Vexa paused at the lift.

“Don't you think – we could use his help about now?”

“His help is what landed us here, Ensign.”

“At least - give him a chance to make it right – sir. You may not feel regret. But some of us do.”

Vexa paused; logic was clear. The fact that the pilot would even suggest an alternative to logic – Vexa considered whether this may be one of those times calling for a more humanoid imprecision. Logic could withstand its misapplication; but could the crew withstand unyielding obedience to logic? Which would serve the greater logic of command?

She tapped her communicator. “Vexa to security. Please release Lieutenant Grifahni from quarters and return him to duty.”

– Security here. Grifahni's not in his quarters, ma'am. He's – gone off the grid.

Vexa eyed Ensign Leroux, and felt the hot desert bedrock again.



*

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Old September 15 2011, 03:56 PM   #22
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Re: Star Trek: Wildfire

Rustweed

5/6



Change of plan indeed, Vexa thought, as she made her way to engineering. Whether Grifahni had plotted these events or not, she was uncertain. Regardless, she would not allow his continued interference to jeopardize ship and crew. Security would be on high alert for his signal; but Vexa did not doubt Grif had prepared his own countermeasures for dealing with the holographic grid, among other security measures. It was, after all, his own department which had consulted on their installation.

But Vexa extrapolated the logic of events and knew, that if Grif was to succeed in his own plan, there was one bottleneck he would have to navigate. If she only waited, the Tactical officer would inevitably be forced to confront her command. He would be expecting an easily-intimidated scientist, who would fold in the face of strong conviction and a stack of tactics - or sheer masculine pressure.

She reached into the weapons locker, over the hand phasers, and withdrew a phase rifle. “Security solution,” she said, and powered the weapon.



United Federation of Planets Starfleet Lieutenant Junior Grade Vexa, Chief Operations Officer of the USS Perseus, Provisional commander of the Perseus Tertiary cruiser, former adjunct of the Vulcan Science Systems Engineering and Applied Theoretical Science Directorates to the Theoretical Propulsion Group under the Advanced Starship Design Bureau at Utopia Planitia, Technology Officer late of the Vulcan Diplomatic Courier Defender Zhalanyai, hiked her way to the troubled engineering deck, amid the running damage control responders and wrecked corridors of her command.

What was it about this rogue Bajoran soldier that seemed to place him confirmedly at odds with command? Born into a legacy of chaos, his independent spirit a double-edged sword, as she'd heard humans call it. Starfleet will have instilled in him the ability to trust and rely on fellow fleet officers and crew. But with this Grifahni, there was something of the mercenary soul which had survived, despite the years of heavy fleet training.

She peered around every corner, instantly assessing the lay of every upturned panel, every ruptured conduit. Subconsciously cataloging every Jefferies tube, phase rifle at the ready; unable to dismiss the logic of the threat the mercenary Grifahni presented. His gross illogic was almost inconceivable - that he should directly disobey chain of command. Vexa had never encountered this depth of intransigence in her life. How does someone spend his life qualifying for Starfleet, and then so easily discard his career? And now that he'd violated command - just how far was he willing to go? The phase rifle felt unwieldy in her grasp; her finger searched for the phase trigger.

But was it only his action she disavowed? The shock of his insubordination, his defiance of her up to now logical, ordered duty?

Or was it – the deceitful, unrequited illogic of her primeval Vulcan heart? Which was she truly punishing him for? His lack of control – or her own?

Regardless of the source of her logical shortcoming, the result was yet another abuse against logic she would not, could not disregard. The ship – took precedence over their failings. She would have to find a way to do the same. The universe might not obey logic – but without it, she dared not think of what she might become. The mad truth lurking under her crumbling pillars of control, in the mortal devastation of this Perseus Trial.

You can't outrun yourself.



Vexa thought back on their experiences together. Logic had demonstrated Grifahni's insubordinate tendencies during the ship's security lockout, when he went on a one-man crusade against the power grid; as well as the Perseus maiden flight, when he had gone alone on a hunt for the intruder, instead of reporting his concerns. He had defied the Board of Inquiry and its Assembly; the Bajor sector crewmembers in the mess. Culminating with today's direct insubordination that put the entire ship under attack.

Vexa stepped cautiously down a darkened, gutted corridor, toward a turbolift; noting the low-key patter of a shorting circuit, a scent of burning ozone. She queried her logic: what if anything, was the common factor in all these cases?



She stopped. There was a common factor.

Her logic retracted in uncertainty, around this singular persistent element:

Starfleet Lieutenant Junior Grade Vexa, Chief Operations Officer of the USS Perseus.

She loured. Jace had been rescuing her from the day they had met.

The Vexa Paradox, rearing its unworthy head yet again.

“This will not be permitted to continue,” she told the universe, the gods of the turbolift, or whoever was listening.



Vexa entered engineering, where Ensign Hret labored in solitude, cursing at a thermal regulator he was trying to force out of position.

The Denobulan spanged his hand forcing an isolinear spanner from position, and brandished the spanner at the equipment. “Make a fool out of me, will you?” he threatened, hand on mouth.

“Perhaps if you did not use the device outside of its rated specification, Ensign.”

“What? Oh, Lieutenant, I didn't hear you.” He stood and dusted off his uniform. Vexa scanned engineering. It was in a shambles with battle damage and half-finished repairs. “Ensign Hret. Are you alone here?”

“Don't think this is over,” he warned the thermal regulator. “What? Oh yes, Lieutenant, all my crews are scurrying all over the ship holding it together. Are you here to help me set up the, erm -”

“The inverted metaphasic pulse. Yes.”

“Yes. Ah. Anticipating some trouble from the warp core?” he asked, eyeing her phase rifle.

“Merely a precautionary measure, Ensign. Shall we proceed.” She stepped over a dislodged panel and righted a chair on her way to the warp core.

“This, uh, inverted metaphasic pulse. You've done this before, have you?”

Vexa activated the core station. “Once. I assisted my father in a field repair.”

“Need I ask how old you were at the time?”

“You needn't,” she said, and left it at that.



The overhead lights started flickering, and erratic power disruptions of primary and secondary systems indicated a sudden fluctuation in the power grid. Her station diagnostic of the ship schematic overlay revealed the source of interference. It seemed to be emanating from numerous origin points around the entire ship.

“Vexa to bridge. Report.”

– The Borg are holding position, Lieutenant. They have resumed an attack bypassing communications bands using the carrier wave. We are attempting to override but the signal has locked a channel open somehow. They seem to be stimulating the hull itself with a tetryon-based waveform, to somehow resonate dielectric interferences through the isomagnetic shielding of the TPS conduits.

“Ensign Hret, perhaps you should go to the bridge to see about this interference. I will continue with the inverted pulse assembly here.”

“Aye, Lieutenant. You might want to keep an eye on thermal regulation. Feel free to use this unit for target practice if it gets too cantankerous.”

Humanoids. Vexa wondered how they managed to accomplish anything, spending so much energy on the illogical personification of inanimate objects.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a processing error.

“That is not logical,” she said to her panel.



Suddenly the lights fell, and red warning lights flashed across the deck. Intruder alert, announced the computer.

The blast doors to engineering whirred open. Vexa crouched. She heard the unmistakable tread of magnetic boots, and hit the deck.

Borg.

Taking her phase rifle, Vexa scurried across the deck to barricade herself behind a rack of replacement parts. She peered between the shielded canisters at the shadows moving across the threshold. From the corridor, phaser fire hit several drones, before their personal shields adapted to the frequency rotation cycles. So much for her phase rifle.

Five. Ten. Sixteen Borg filed into Engineering. Vexa turned cold, but somehow doubted it was due to environmental control.

They began to operate on the warp core interface as well as several stations around the bay. Had the Borg ship approached, Vexa knew the bridge would have warned her. Logic dictated that the Borg had found a way to enhance transport for a long-range boarding intrusion. Perhaps using the carrier signal as a means of puncturing the shield harmonics to permit an energy beam. They would be able to exceed transporter range maxima if – and she was particularly mathematical about this – they were willing to incur statistical probability of losses in pattern cohesion. Which would imply a one-way journey for a major fraction of their number. This may also explain how the Heavy Cruiser overcame its design limitations to close on the Tertiary. Structural damage was irrelevant.

This boarding was likely, in human terms, a winner-take-all gambit.

She studied the cold, bloodless faces of the cybernetic humanoids, embedded with self-replicating technology, and remembered what Grif had called them. The cult of living death. And now, her failure in command may have damned the entire crew to a Borg fate. Regret, perhaps not, but a more damning logical sentence against her command, and perhaps even her very existence.

She studied their procedures. They had begun assimilating manifolds and generating power transfers, as Borg interfaces emerged over their systems. Gas vented from pulled life support conduits and spilled over the deck, cloaking everything in a reddish fog lit by the sickly green ambient glow of Borg interfaces. It seemed the Borg were attempting to override the Tertiary's chronophasic systems. One drone had positioned himself to study Vexa's inverted metaphasic pulse, and began altering its energy transfer.

This was more than a takeover of ship.

She calculated and speculated and observed. Only one hypothesis she could generate would fit all the available data:

The Borg were going to recreate the slipstream temporal event.

Such an occurrence could lead to...she performed a calculation – and apprehended a numerical result she could only describe in scientific notation. They would create an instant army using temporal replication, with themselves as templates. This process would overcome the replicative fading effect of cloning, a previous limiting factor to their population expansion, no doubt. They were going to duplicate themselves in time, and build an armada. A spacefaring fleet with hundreds, thousands of temporal replica Borg vessels based on – the USS Perseus.

Each with its own capability of exponential temporal reproduction. Using Vexa's chronoalignment technique, the Borg could build an entire civilization in a day. A strategy, in Borg terms, which would more than justify the recent willful losses within the drone ranks.

Things were about to get very bad very quickly for the galaxy.

She extrapolated the process based on their equipment configurations. It would require controlling a running series of multiphasic terminal nodes along the slipstream, in order to dissociate and reintegrate each timeline separately; but theoretically – there was enough evidence to suggest the Borg found it an outcome likely enough to abandon the spent Enqarian Heavy Cruiser and take major transport losses in order to board Perseus.

If that were the case, coupled with the inferred state of the Heavy Cruiser, which would be useless to them now – Vexa extrapolated that there was a ninety-eight point four five probability the entirety of the Borg crew had beamed to the Perseus Tertiary. Save any sleeper drone lifepods they may have seeded along the way, she qualified.

The truth of logic was, there would be no way to know entirely the extent of Borg reemergence in the galaxy. But for this ship, Vexa knew there was a strong likelihood the Borg Heavy Cruiser no longer posed a threat from without. Which meant, if they could somehow eliminate this boarding party, they may be able to make good on Commander Munich's decision to eliminate the Borg – a compensatory proposition, as she now lay in sick bay recovering from a near-fatal Borg attack.

They hadn't been able to direct her neural pathways. All they had managed to do was ruin existing pathways. The neural encoder had presented a new technology to them. The Borg were intrinsically incapable of interfacing with it prior to assimilation. All they would do is interfere. And if possible, destroy. When self was willfully destroyed, all that could possibly remain would be the outward transmission of destruction.

As they would no doubt commit on a galactic scale – again – given the opportunity.

The Vexa Paradox writ large.

Hypothesis and speculation. Yet it all seemed to fall into place with the logical congruency of truth. The question was, why should this hypothesizing satisfy her? Perhaps it was due to the contingencies of ship duty. Perhaps working among imprecise humanoids was taking a toll on her logic. Perhaps, in the field, evidential confirmation was a luxury she simply did not have time for.

Logic poorly obeyed
, was how Jace had described it. Is that the Vulcan she was becoming?



Where was he now, she wondered, and found herself unduly distracted by sudden concern for Jace's well-being.

He was right, she realized. We should have listened to him all along. We should have attacked. Just like the Rucarel.

But Vexa had been all too convincing, all too convinced of her own incomplete logic. And now, the entire ship would face the consequences of her illogic – once again.

Her heart hammered against her lower ribcage, preparing her for a fight or a flight, neither of which, she knew, could possibly succeed against so many drones. She could call for a transport, but if the Borg disrupted it with a carrier wave, she would only hasten her own assimilation. She was trapped. In the belly of the beast.

She peered over the edge once more, into the deathly fog of her illogic. Wondering if she was about to lose her individuality and join them, and seal their success with the temporal stream. Transmit her destructive illogic across the entire galaxy. She looked at her phase rifle. The Borg would easily locate and disarm it before it could overload.

Vexa suddenly found herself stalemated by logic, with no more ideas. They had all led her to their inevitable, logical conclusion: a galaxy stalemated in the Vexa Paradox.

An immutable Kal'toh sphere of logic without meaning.

Her eyes fell.



Her communicator chirped.

The Borg raised and responded as one. Each drone in engineering, stimulated to the command, turned and marched – toward her.

You were right.

I need you, Jace.

She activated her phase rifle with a tremoring finger. Maximum kill setting.

And turned it back upon herself.



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Old September 15 2011, 04:02 PM   #23
Triskelion
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Re: Star Trek: Wildfire

Rustweed

6/6



A metal scrape shrills from the fog.

A shadow falls.

Another metallic shriek; another shadow falls: a Borg drone.

She peers through the murk: A wave of reaction passes through the Borg, like a herd of prey to a predator.

All Vexa can see is a glimmering, and sprays of dark droplets against interface panels. The metal scrapes in her ears, taut and quivering.



The dark figure courses through their number like water through rocks. The shadow whirls. Something emerges from the back of a Borg drone.

A long, thin blade.

The Borg falls, and the wakizashi hisses through the fog with its aria of death.

The mercenary Grifahni.



He whips around and penetrates their number again. One falls. Another. A drone clutches for him, and dies. Blade levers appendage, sash cut, impalement. Assimilation tubules cut down in mid flight. They were already falling when Vexa first saw them. Two more drones fall.

His entire body, an unceasing instrument of death. The wakizashi, death's radius in spiral.

He moves in silent, explosive grace, in unceasing counterbalance to the live blade. The wakizashi slices unhindered through energy shields and molecular matter, cleaves mathematically-precise vectors through flesh and blood and bone. It arcs through the hivemind a drone at a time.

His kill efficiency, pure logic. The wakizashi hums like a live wire, finishes a sweep through limb and strikes anew. Grif attacks the Borg as one – like an impenetrable vortex whirling through their number. Everything that violates the wakizashi radius falls. The many, outnumbered by the one.

He cuts a swath through them like a reaper scything through the thin Vulcan grasses in the high valley of her home.

The remaining Borg retract.

And fall like cut rustweed.



The wakizashi sings through the last standing Borg like it wasn't there, as he rotates down into a lunge, sword extending like a stinger, listening as the last body falls behind him. Breathing hard in shadow, deadly appendage runneling from its razor tip.

“No surrender,” he says, rising.



Vexa stands, phase rifle hanging. He was right, and her logic would always be subservient to this moment, her life, held in the wakizashi scabbard. Forever subjugated to this emotional, illogical being. She thought death by the wakizashi might feel like drowning. Peaceful.

He flicks and scabbards his sword in one fluid motion.

He sees her, and locks the wakizashi – and her katra - into place with the finality of a winning argument.




Suddenly more transport patterns helixed into cohesion with a greenish glow. Light transmuting to matter, matter coalescing into cyborganic Borg drones. Laser rangefinders centered on Grif in the fog. The master systems display indicated that the remainder of the invasion party were redoubling in engineering, to entrench and finish the job. The wakizashi came alive, drawn and cut in one lightning-fast motion – into a hammering barrage against the Borg's body shield – but it had adapted to the ancient weapon's atomically-thin edge. All Grif received was impact shock of blade against energy shields reconfiguring into some kind of translucent cohesing shell.

Vexa saw the scene, and decided that if Jace were to die, the Borg would first have to go through her. She fired her phase rifle.

No physical effect. But in capturing their attention, she succeeded.

She jumped a rail into the bay and ran across to the opposite wall. The Borg followed her and moved toward her, while Grif battled his way through their reach.



Vexa slammed open a wall panel to expose a plasma relay, and set to manually disengage it.

It would not respond to her input. The Borg had overridden commands.

“Remember, Grif!” Vexa shouted. “Where the last intruder put you!” She ran to the master systems display and engaged the impulse engines. “You may wish to save yourself some trouble and assume your position now! Or this will be your last broken order!”

The Perseus Tertiary warp core powered up, thrumming through the deck and through her bones, and Vexa engaged engines at half-impulse. As the Borg centered on her, she backed up to a wall and leaned hard.

A drone raised his arm appendage as he neared her.

“Adaptation is futile,” Vexa said.

She lowered her phase rifle and fired a beam at the exposed plasma relay. It exploded.

The ship launched into impulse.



The Borg blurred like inky watercolors - and vanished.

They were caught in a dead zone formed in the engineering inertial dampening field. As one, they hit the back wall at half the speed of light.

Vexa skirted the wall and made her way to the station. She powered down the engines. As the ship stopped, the Borg shield cocoons rolled through the fog, into the center of the bay, each a capsule of crystallized Borg sand. Not even the polyalloys of their mechanical components had retained molecular cohesion.

Grif emerged from the shadows and looked over her handiwork.

“That was new,” he said.



Death. Someone speaking. So much death.

“They were already dead,”
he whispered.

“Walking neuroelectric impulses led by machine. Not alive like you and me.”



“You and me. Illogical.”



“That may be. But we just saved every life on this ship, and millions and billions more.”

“The galaxy, Jace.”



“Lieutenant Grifahni, I am in your debt,”
she heard herself say.

He faces her. “Not debt. An unbreakable chain. Each to the other. Our lives forged in honor.”




Grif engaged the workstation and activated the decon environmental controls. “I'll go turn myself in. I, uh, don't want to cross you. Ever.” He paused at the blast door. “Sochya eh dif, Ve Xa.”

Peace and long life. She noticed him.

“You wanted to know when Commander Munich got out of surgery. She is recovering well, Lieutenant.”

He thought better than to speak, and retreated.

Mene sakkhet ur-seveh, T'hai'la,” she said when he was gone. Live long and prosper, my lifelong friend.




Grif left her there, lost in her fog of illogic. She leaned against the console, thoughts conflicted, body producing a storm of overwhelming neurosensory impulses. She felt like the Borg Heavy Cruiser - an abandoned vessel in coldest, uncharted space, whose core was overloading.

Suddenly, a transporter field penetrated the space and formed its reconstituting array. Vexa, twitching with uncertainty, breathing heavily, defied her body's overwhelming impulse to run. She lifted her phase rifle at it, the emitter nozzle steady as hot desert bedrock. Her finger slid on the trigger. She inhaled deeply, and did not blink.

“Drop those weapons or die,” she warned the five clad in commando black.

The weapons were lowered. The leader dropped the nose of his compression rifle, turned and removed his face shield. “Stand down, crewman,” said Captain Tuvok. He waved off the security commando team behind him.

She lowered her weapon and straightened, attempting to restore her logical composure. “Captain, you have well exceeded...expected probabilities.”

“As have you, distinctly, Sublieuten – Lieutenant.”

He bent down to inspect a halved Borg, forensic logic sorting itself in his mind.

“And where is Chief Grifahni now?” He eyed the bay.

“Lieutenant Grifahni has been confined to quarters, sir.”

Tuvok processed the information with no indication of judgment Vexa could discern.

“The Borg Collective?”

“Dissolved, Captain.”

“Do you require assistance Lieutenant Vexa?”

She slung her phase rifle.

“Everything is under control, sir.”



***
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