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Old June 8 2010, 10:36 AM   #1
unusualsuspex
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Location: Norfolk UK
Star Trek : Angel - Vignette No 7

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is trademarked and copyrighted by CBS Studios.
NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2010.







STAR TREK: ANGEL – VIGNETTE SEVEN

ELJAYXAN XANTHARIK

IN PLAIN SIGHT



USS ANGEL
ON ORBIT TRALUCE PRIME
VETHRION SYSTEM
22nd November 2373 – 0900 FST


Captain Dan Fishlock was convinced that the junior officers aboard the USS Angel were conspiring to make him feel old. Not that I don’t usually he mused sardonically, but it seemed that every time there was an early briefing they managed to appear as if they’d been awake for hours while he was still craving more raktajino. Today, of course, was worse than ever.

“You’re looking sprightly this morning.”

Dan turned a jaundiced eye on his XO, Commander Kat Gray, and sighed theatrically.

“So you’re in on this as well right?”

“In on what?”

“Making your commanding officer feel like Methuselah by bouncing around like a puppy on one of Doc Winston’s more exotic creations, that’s what.”

For a moment, Kat managed to fake puzzlement at the remark before a look of understanding dawned on her face.

“Oh, I see…”

“What? What is it you see, soon-to-be-demoted first officer?”

She managed to stifle the guffaw that threatened to burst from her lips and laid a hand on his arm, pulling him to the side of the corridor.

“If I promise to bake you a cake, will you go easy on the crew in the briefing?”

“I’ll go one better,” he grinned. “Promise not to bake a cake, and I’ll let you take the briefing yourself.”

Kat clutched at her heart and in a dramatic tone, whispered “I have been wounded but not yet slain”.

Shaking his head in resignation, Dan set off for the briefing room once more with Kat in tow realising that of all people, she wouldn’t have forgotten his birthday.

Dan and Kat had served together for many years and their relationship had become extremely close without being cluttered by involvement. It had been one of the the reasons that Dan had wanted Kat as his first officer when taking command of Angel two years ago.

“Anyway, you’re only 42. I don’t see anybody making a reservation at the Dunroamin Home for Retired Starship Captains yet.”

He stopped just short of activating the briefing room’s doors and fixed her with what he considered to be a stern gaze. “This, Commander Gray, is a conversation that can continue post-briefing in the welcome company of a biting hot raktajino. In the meantime, they’re all yours.”

“You know, you don’t fool anybody with that commanding officer stare. It just makes you look constipated.”

Before he could think of anything approaching a biting retort, Kat had breezed ahead into the briefing room to call “Captain on deck!”

**********

Ensign ElJayxan Xantharik sat bolt upright in his chair as the Captain entered the room. As usual, he was sat at the rear of the briefing room so as not to block the view of anybody unfortunate enough to be sat behind him.

LJ was big, which wasn’t a prerequisite for the role of a security officer of course, but it certainly came in useful. Having been born and raised first on the surface of Remvellia and then in one of the orbiting colonies, his musculature and physique was due to the high-gravity environment of his homeworld. Serving much of his duty now in a one-g environment made this mountain of an officer both fast and deadly, something opponents had underestimated to their cost.

Beneath the awesome expanse of muscle and red skin, however, was a gentle man and one who had been tipped for great things within the security branch following his graduation from the academy just a year previously.

He watched as Captain Fishlock took a seat to the side of the briefing room and Commander Gray stepped up to the lectern to begin the brief for the day’s duties. Most section briefings were covered by the department head of course. It was only when special duties were required that a brief by a senior officer took place and LJ was eager to find out just what was in store for him today.

Unfortunately, he was kept waiting until the very last detail of the brief.

“Finally, Ensign Xantharik and Lieutenant Edwards." Kat looked up to spot the two officers. "You’re detailed to the Shuttlepod McCoy. We’ve discovered a pair of asteroids in orbit around Traluce Prime that bear some investigation. Ensign,” she looked over the heads of those in front of him, “you’ll be pilot and security detail and Lieutenant Edwards will be carrying out the asteroid survey and examination with your assistance. Any questions?”

When there was nothing more arising from the briefing, it was dismissed and as the officers and crewmen filed out, Kat approached LJ and Edwards.

“Just to let you know, we’ll be departing the system at 1700 to deliver the last of the medical supplies to the Hulbert Colony but you won’t be alone here.” LJ was fairly certain he saw an expression approaching relief cross Edwards face but he wasn’t sure. “The academy training vessel USS McCreary is scheduled in system for exercises at 1930 hours and we should be back in, barring any problems, by midnight.”

“Understood Ma’am,” nodded LJ.

“Oh and just a heads up Ensign, I believe the McCreary might be looking for a little hunt when they arrive. Give them the works.”

He watched the tall blond Commander follow the Captain out of the briefing room before turning to Lieutenant (j.g.) Becky Edwards. If there could have been a physical opposite to the first officer, Becky was it.

At just five feet two inches, LJ loomed over her but like the rest of the crew she’d had chance to get used to his powerful physical presence. The colour of her hair reminded him of Dr Beverly Crusher who he had seen briefly on her recent visit to Angel, but perhaps more poignantly it reminded him of Jo…

Stop right there Xantharik, commanded his sub-conscious mind, and he quickly quashed the thought.

“I can’t believe they’re going to have to dig out the smallest and largest EVA suits in stores just for an asteroid survey,” she chuckled.

“I do believe mine is still being manufactured in the Utopia yards,” he quipped dryly, but added a smile. “However, assuming we can be equipped properly, I await your command.”

As part of Angel’s geological team, Becky had spent much of her time detached to the small SCE contingent since the incident on Zethander two years ago. Her knowledge of planetary makeup was impressive, so much so that two of her papers had been accepted by the Vulcan Science Academy for their courses.

It meant, of course, that this would be her first command small as it may be. It seemed though that she had been preparing for it.

“Let’s check out the McCoy and see just how much room you’ll have to manoeuvre that big old frame of yours around before we start packing for the holiday eh?”

She slapped him on the arm and he sighed theatrically. “Always the jokes about my size. I could get a complex you know…”

But she was already disappearing through the briefing room door with a huge grin plastered across her face.



SHUTTLEPOD McCOY
VETHRION SYSTEM
22nd November 2373 – 1656 FST


“This is Shuttlepod McCoy now departing main hangar and clearing the ship.”

LJ swung the diminutive shuttlepod out and around the starboard under slung warp nacelle as the flight operations controller acknowledged the call and wished them good luck.

“Alright chauffeur,” Becky said, ducking under LJ’s elbow as he operated the controls in the cramped cockpit. “We’ll cover the inner system first just to see if there are any other bodies that exhibit the same qualities as our two asteroids and then get back before the arrival of McCreary. Sound good?”

LJ checked the chronometer noting that they had a good two and a half hours before the McCreary arrived in system, and nodded. “Is there anything in particular I should be looking for?”

“Know what Unobtainium looks like in its raw state?”

LJ stretched his knowledge of geology, limited though it was, to its limits but eventually had to shake his head.

“Nope,” grinned Becky, “me neither. Whatever causes those asteroids to block sensor scans stopped Angel getting a decent compositional reading as well so we’ll have to play it by ear.”

LJ gave her a long stare. “Would I look stupid if I were to ask if Unobtainium is real or something you just made up?”

She returned his stare seriously before a wide smile appeared on her lips. “Sorry, you’re right; it’s kind of an in-joke that the propeller heads use to describe any hypothetical material with properties that are unlikely or impossible for any real material to possess.”

“Ah, so I do not look stupid then,” he smiled smugly.

“Oh I never said that.”



SHUTTLEPOD McCOY
VETHRION SYSTEM
22nd November 2373 – 1824 FST


“Shuttlepod McCoy, this is Captain T’Han of the Federation Academy Training Vessel USS McCreary.”

Becky was handling communications as LJ threaded a route through some promising bodies inside the third planet’s orbit.

McCreary this is Lieutenant Edwards on the McCoy, good evening Captain.”

“Good evening Lieutenant.” The precise and somewhat impersonal tones were exactly as Becky remembered them from her first cadet cruise with the Vulcan Captain, though she knew the woman to be both compassionate towards and defensive of those under her command. Well, unless they made mistakes. “We are due to arrive in system at 1930 hours and I wonder if I might ask a favour?”

Becky shrugged unconsciously. “By all means Captain, if we’re able to oblige.”

The shrug turned into an involuntary duck as LJ swung below one of the larger bodies then quickly to port around a fragment that appeared out of its shadow. She quickly held up her hands, asking him to hold his position as she scrambled between the crew seats and into the rear of the shuttlepod.

“We would like to conduct a search and rescue simulation. If you could find somewhere discrete to suggest a downed shuttle it would be appreciated.”

Becky quickly glanced at LJ who nodded eagerly. “Big kid,” she said sotto voce, completely forgetting the acute Vulcan sense of hearing.

“I’m sorry Lieutenant?”

“Sorry Captain, I was just checking with my pilot.” She was fairly certain that T’Han had heard exactly what she’d said, but chosen to pass on the comment. “Erm, that shouldn’t be a problem at all.”

“Excellent. I would appreciate it if you could confirm your status before we enter the system. Oh and Lieutenant?”

Becky screwed her eyes shut expecting a roasting for her comment over the open comm channel. “Yes Captain?”

There was a pregnant pause before T’Han said, “Don’t make it too easy. McCreary out.”

Making sure that the comm really was terminated, she turned to LJ who was attempting, somewhat unsuccessfully, to appear focussed on his instruments.

“You know after three years that woman still knows how to put the fear of the devil into me.”

“Oh she was an exponent at that.” He indicated the large asteroid hanging off the port quarter. “Is this our infamous Unobtainium?”

She quickly ran scans from her seat in the back of the shuttlepod and nodded excitedly. “It certainly appears to be,” she replied excitedly, “and the concentration appears much higher in these inner bodies. Could you move us to within ten metres please LJ?”

Tapping gently at the board, he fired the RCS thrusters that nudged them gently towards the asteroid before switching them to station keeping ten metres distant.

“It certainly does not appear very exotic for a fabled material.” LJ was remarkably underwhelmed by the asteroid which appeared no different to all the ones he’d seen countless times before. It was a slightly mediocre beige in colour, and had the usual impact marks of a body that had been exposed to the rigours of space for millennia but other than that it was…well, bland.

“Beauty is in the eye of the geologist in this particular case.” Resetting her instruments, she turned to LJ. “Move us within a metre and try attaching an anchor tractor to its surface.”

Tapping once more at the thrusters, the small shuttlepod moved into the shadow of the asteroid and LJ stopped it once more a mere metre from the surface. However, when he tried to apply the anchor tractor, the system buzzed a warning. It seemed that the tractor would gain a purchase only to lose it almost instantly.

“Now that is annoying.”

“Actually, it may be more annoying to McCreary.” He turned to look questioningly at her and caught his breath. In the glow of the monitors, her resemblance to Jo was uncanny.

Mistaking LJ’s silence as a question, she continued, her eyes fixed to the view screens. “If I’m not mistaken, the sensor blocking field emanating from our friend here should extend out approximately 15 metres before dissipating.” She turned a most wolfish grin on LJ. “Let’s see them find us now.”



SHUTTLEPOD McCOY
VETHRION SYSTEM
22nd November 2373 – 1910 FST


Over the past half hour, LJ had helped Becky to set up surface mounted instruments to take samples and measurements from the asteroids crust. It was during the initial phase of the operation that they had discovered that the asteroid’s disruptive effects went beyond sensor blocking and effectively cut communications as well. They were now connected by a nano fibre communications cord which also led back into the shuttlepod.

Realising the time, he tapped Becky on the shoulder.

“I’ll need to back the McCoy off to broadcast out to McCreary that we’re ready for them.”

She waved a gloved hand and smiled from behind the visor of her EVA helmet.

“I’ll stay here and tie down the last of the samplers. Just make sure I’ve got enough comms cord that you don’t yank me off the surface.”

LJ placed a hand to where his mouth would have been if he hadn’t been wearing the EVA suit, feigning shock. “Oh my, I had completely forgotten about that.”

“Which is why,” she replied primly, “I’m a Lieutenant and you’re an Ensign!”

There was no rebuke in the comment. LJ had been close friends with Becky at the Academy having been just a year behind her and their disparity in rank was a regular source of amusement to her.

“Now bug out!”

“Yes Lieutenant, sorry Lieutenant, I’m now leaving Lieutenant.”

LJ chuckled all the way back to the cockpit, ensuring that the reel on the comms cord was released before tapping the thrusters to sidle away from the asteroid. He carefully monitored the reel as it spooled out enough cord to remain slack and waved to Becky atop the asteroid though she was obviously too engrossed in her work to notice.

Eventually reaching a spot where he received a response to his hail, LJ smiled.

“That is acknowledged McCoy.” T’Han had logged his position so that she could monitor the cadet crew’s progress in finding them. “It would appear you have found the perfect spot. I cannot detect you from the instructor’s position and I know where you are. This should prove most enlightening.”

LJ was certain that it would be and almost felt a twinge of pity for the cadets. Almost.

“One more thing Captain, we will be out of communications contact for real during the search period due to circumstances at this end, but if we have no ‘rescue’ by 2000 hours then we will hail you at that point.”

“Understood McCoy, the simulation goes live on my mark…Mark. McCreary out.”

LJ nudged the shuttlepod back into the deep shadows below the asteroid, watching the reel once more take in the comms cord. Once at station keeping, he managed to squeeze his bulk into the rear compartment and sit at the science console that had been set up to monitor their experiments.

“Well Lieutenant, we are now officially listed as missing.”

“And I suspect we’ll stay that way until those poor little mites aboard
McCreary call uncle.”

LJ humphed as he cycled through the science station readouts. “I might point out that it is not so long since you were one of those poor little mites.”

“Ah,”
she answered, the smile in her voice evident, “but we have the advantage of knowing that the real world is a lot different to the Academy.”
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Old June 8 2010, 10:37 AM   #2
unusualsuspex
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Location: Norfolk UK
Star Trek : Angel - Vignette No 7 (cont)

SHUTTLEPOD McCOY
VETHRION SYSTEM
22nd November 2373 – 1931 FST


LJ remained aboard McCoy monitoring the asteroid mounted sensors while Becky stayed on the surface of the asteroid securing the experiments. At exactly 1930 the McCreary warped into the outer system with the customary streak and flash of Cherenkov radiation causing Becky to glance up briefly from her work.

“Here they come!”

“And with Captain T’Han’s usual punctuality I see,” replied LJ wryly.

Becky chuckled, remembering the Vulcan’s fastidious addiction to time keeping but the laugh died in her throat.

“Becky, I think you need to check the ODN connection, I have lost sensor readouts on the experiments.”

Because of the damping effect of the asteroid, they were having to hard wire all the sensors by ODN cable back into the McCoy, but Becky knew that it wasn’t a connection error.

Her throat constricted and she dropped prone to the surface of the asteroid for what little good it might do. In the space between the asteroid and McCreary, a ripple in space broadened to become a swirling maelstrom pulsing malevolently against the backdrop of the cosmos.

“Becky?”

She wanted to scream, run, hide, anything to get away from the image that played out in front of her.

“Becky, I do not know if you can hear me but I am going to check the ODN connections here and if that fails I will reboot…”

“They’re here.” Becky’s voice was no more than a whisper but it conveyed the horror of a thousand lifetimes.
**********

LJ pulled his hands away from the connection when he heard her whisper.

“Becky?”

“They’re here LJ. It’s the Borg!”

For an instant, he froze, unable to decide if he had heard her correctly. On the screens in front of him, sensors stubbornly refused to offer any information about what was happening outside the shuttlepod.

“Becky, say again, did you…”

“It’s the Borg!” she screamed. “They’ve tractored McCreary!”

**********

“Red alert! Instructors to command positions! Comms, broadband Mayday!”

T’Han didn’t raise her voice, nor was there a trace of panic in it but across the ship cadets moved aside to allow the seasoned instructors to take over their consoles while they fell back to supernumerary positions.

“Rotate shield nutation; helm evasive pattern Theta Two; tactical, target that tractor emitter.”

T’Han knew in her heart that they were doomed as soon as she saw the cube. If the events at Wolf 359 had taught line officers nothing else, they knew that a single starship had little chance of survival against a Borg cube but logic aside, she was damned if they weren’t at least going to try.

“Captain…” There was a shudder and the bridge lurched, throwing unprepared cadets to the deck. “Captain, tractor is holding tight. Helm unresponsive.”

A green lance shot out from the cube striking McCreary on the port edge of her primary hull before drawing a line across the saucer, neatly bisecting it just forward of the bridge module as if the shields hadn’t been raised at all. The scream of stressed tritanium mixed with the howl of escaping atmosphere and on the forward screen, the slice of detached hull fell away in a shower of sparks.

With a detached part of her mind, T’Han watched as clouds of ice crystals formed from the remnants of the atmosphere and bodies cartwheeled from the exposed corridor sections.

“Torpedoes!”

“Offline Captain! Phasers offline, shields inoperative.”

She turned to the Lieutenant Commander at the helm position raising an eyebrow.

“Do we still have warp and impulse Commander?”

He nodded grimly. “That we do Captain.”

To T’Han’s credit, there was no delay for sentiment as she hit the shipwide communication pad on her seat arm.

“All hands, this is the Captain, abandon ship I say again abandon ship.” Toggling the pad off, she turned to the remainder of the bridge crew. “Evacuate, people! Mr Tamberley, oversee bridge evacuation.”

As cadets and staff alike began their rapid exit from the bridge, T’Han saw that the helm officer was still at his position.

“That means you as well XO.”

“If it’s all the same to you Captain,” he smiled, “I’d just be one more body clogging up the escape routes. Besides…” The bridge shook once more, consoles on the port side rupturing in a pyrotechnic storm. “I’d rather be here than out there.”

It was a common misconception that Vulcan’s did not have emotions. They had them and quite often they were more turbulent and powerful than those of humans, but they were kept under tight control. With the final moments of her life looming large, T’Han briefly let her defences slip as she faced the man she had come closest to calling her friend since joining Starfleet and placed a hand on his arm.

“Then let us make sure this counts for something.”

**********

“Becky, listen to me! I want you to slowly make your way back to the shuttlepod.”

When she eventually replied, there was a sob in her voice. “I can’t do that.”

“You must Becky, you…”

“No LJ!” This time her voice carried as much anger as sorrow. “People are dying out there, cadets not much younger than us! If they have to die then the least I can do is bear witness to it!”

He heard the vehemence in her voice and wished that it could be transformed into a weapon against the Borg because they would most surely be destroyed by it.

“I understand,” he replied at last. “Becky, I am shutting down to minimal life support. If we are to be their witnesses, then we must survive to tell their story.”

There was no reply and LJ began systematically shutting down all but the barest of life support systems. He hoped that the shielding nature of the asteroid would cover the weak electronic emissions because if not, they would become the Borg’s next victims.

**********

Ironically, the Academy training vessel USS McCreary had been named in honour of an academy recruit killed in action against the Borg at Wolf 359 and it was an irony that was not lost on T’Han.

With the single warp nacelle and twin impulse engines delivering full aft thrust to combat the pull of the sickly green Borg tractor, she had taken her seat at the ops console next to Tanner. In the past few seconds she had watched through the flickering, static filled viewscreen as the lifepods had ejected like scattering seeds from the stricken vessel. Her hopes flew with them though she knew in her heart that their chances of survival were slim.

“Godspeed,” she whispered and stole a glance at her XO and friend as he finished inputting commands to the helm console. “Ready?”

He nodded, the corners of his mouth turning up slightly. “I would say live long and prosper but the circumstances aren’t really conducive are they?”

“Then I will simply say that serving with you is, and always has been…interesting.”

There was no indication of a smile, but Tanner was certain he saw a twinkle in T’Han’s eyes. Or is it tears?

Unable to bear the moment any longer, he closed his eyes and activated the helm command. With that single, almost reverent action, the McCreary ceased struggling against the Borg tractor and instead routed all available power to full impulse. With a shearing motion, she twisted and leapt towards the cube.

The Borg – inexorable, unheeding, and unified in their cold mission of conquest – saw the ship career towards them with little concern. Its forward rush was almost halted in time by the tractor but not quite and as McCreary slammed into the regenerative surface of the cube, the remaining torpedoes aboard her detonated at the same time as the magnetic containment of the antimatter storage dropped.

In a glorious flash of defiance, McCreary struck a blow whose significance would not become apparent for some time.

SHUTTLEPOD McCOY
VETHRION SYSTEM
22nd November 2373 – 2022 FST


Becky had watched and recorded the events in silence as they unfolded, resolutely refusing to return to the shuttlepod. LJ, aware of his duty, had been unable to leave the small craft and had concentrated instead on minimizing the emissions of the McCoy in an attempt to keep them hidden.

Even had he been able to transmit a warning or distress call that the Borg were unable to intercept, the very life saving proximity of the asteroid would have damped it before it could reach open space.

“Becky?”

For a moment there was no reply, only static free silence. LJ was about to try again, aware that Becky’s actions were now bordering on the obsessive, but he heard her sigh deeply.

“It’s a mess out here LJ, and they’re just sitting there.” There was the slightest hint of a sob in her voice. “They’ve picked off each and every lifepod that I could see. Just dragged them in. All that’s left is that one section of the saucer.”

“Becky, you must come back in.”

It was as if he hadn’t spoken.

“It’s just slowly spinning out there LJ. The lights are getting dimmer and there’s a halo around it, but it’s getting closer.”

“Then you must come back in now Lieutenant.” LJ couldn’t pull rank on Becky but he had to use whatever methods of coercion he could to get her back inside, something to break the spell of the macabre scene that held her in thrall. “If the Borg see you there, no matter haw slim the chance, then we will both be dead and the sacrifice of the McCreary and her crew will have been for nothing.”

“I…”

LJ knew that there was another eventuality to be planned for, but Becky had to be back in the McCoy before he dared broach it.

“I’m coming back in.”

There was absolutely nothing LJ could think of to say.



BORG CUBE 3711
VETHRION SYSTEM
22nd November 2373 – 2242 FST


“Delay is unacceptable.”

The Borg Queen’s thoughts were transmitted instantaneously to the attuned minds of over 50,000 drones that formed the collective hive mind of Borg cube 3711 sitting motionless in the Vethrion system. It was the one voice that did not carry the customary choral effect.

“Is the artefact primed for use?”

“The artefact’s AI is still resisting attempts at assimilation,”
came the multi voiced response.

“Resistance is futile. It will be assimilated.”

The fact that the Queen had decreed it so, however, seemed to be making little difference to the facts.

“We will make one final attempt to operate the artefact. If the attempt fails then we will set course for the homeworld of Species 5618 immediately.” She knew that it was unlikely, but if the Human vessel had managed to transmit even a partial distress call then their element of surprise would be squandered.

Since they had assimilated Species 4227 and acquired the temporal artefact, it had proven impervious to attempts to assimilate the AI that controlled it. Care had to be taken not to damage the AI because without it, the technology was useless. Her first wish had been to open a temporal gate to Earth’s past far away from the Human’s homeworld, allowing the cube to travel unhindered to the planet and prevent the first contact that would eventually spawn the Federation.

That was not to be however and they had proceeded in short jumps towards their target, at each stop making a further attempt to open a gateway. This would be their last such attempt before arriving at Earth and if the artefact failed there then brute force would be their weapon.

“Shield regeneration lattice at co-ordinates 0122-23A is offline subsequent to the collision of the Species 5618 vessel.”

The Queen digested the news with dismay but was resolute. “Prioritize activation of the artefact. Relegate repair of the regeneration lattice to secondary assignments.”

If the artefact could be forced to co-operate then the quadrant and, eventually, the galaxy would be theirs.



SHUTTLEPOD McCOY
VETHRION SYSTEM
22nd November 2373 – 2247 FST


When Becky had re-entered the shuttlepod, her face was paler than LJ had ever seen it. Against the lustrous red of her hair, it had taken on the appearance of a death mask.

Now sat in the cramped confines of the rear of the craft, they huddled together in the increasing chill. Cutting the life support to minimum was necessary under the circumstances, but if it began to threaten their very survival then a rethink would be necessary.

“There is something we need to discuss.”

LJ was slightly surprised to see that his breath was already appearing as clouds of condensation.

Becky said nothing, but turned to look at him, her face drawn.

Angel is due to return to the system at midnight. I believe that McCreary would have had little to no chance of transmitting an emergency call which means that nobody will be aware of the Borg presence here.”

“And Angel would suffer the same fate.” Her voice was hollow as images played out in her mind of crewmates suffering the ultimate dehumanization of assimilation.

“Exactly,” he nodded, though she didn’t see him. “I do not know what the Borg are intending and I have no way of preventing whatever it may be even if I desired to do so. I will not, however, stand by and watch the destruction of Angel when it may be within my power to prevent it.”

“So what do you have in mind?”

He took a deep breath wondering just how Becky would view his plan. “One of us must return to the asteroid’s surface and monitor the Borg. If they have not left by 2345 hours, the shuttlepod has to make a break away from the dampening field and immediately transmit an emergency call across all subspace frequencies. With the element of surprise in our favour, it should be enough to warn off Angel.”

He braced himself for her reaction but was surprised when she nodded once.

“Suicidal perhaps, but I concur. I’ll go back out to the surface if you pilot the shuttlepod.”

Pleased to see a spark of the old Becky return despite the dire circumstances, he smiled. “Yes Ma’am.”



ASTEROID’S SURFACE
VETHRION SYSTEM
22nd November 2373 – 2338 FST


Because of the shielding bulk of the asteroid, Becky had to crawl carefully across almost half of its surface until the Borg cube, now accompanied by a smaller sphere, came into view.

She had disappointedly explained the scene to LJ who had already prepared an encrypted subspace squirt containing a full report that could be broadcast in the shortest possible time.

“I’ve never heard of a sphere before,” he said. “I will add that to the report.”

Becky gave him a full description including estimations of its size and complement before exclaiming, “Something’s happening!”

She watched in fascination as a whirlpool of diffracted light flickered and pulsed some distance ahead of the sphere. It lasted for a matter of seconds before fading once more and Becky was no wiser than before.

“I have no idea what they just did but it didn’t look too successful.”



BORG CUBE 3711
VETHRION SYSTEM
22nd November 2373 – 2339 FST


As the temporal vortex collapsed once more the Queen studied the readouts. They had almost stabilised the chroniton field before the artefact’s AI had regained control. It would now depend on their short flight to Earth whether that period could be extended enough to allow the sphere access to the past.

If not then it would once more be a battle of attrition but this time right on Earth’s doorstep and the Queen had no intention of losing. The search for such temporal technology had taken long enough.

“Recover the sphere and standby to initiate transwarp transit.”

“There are still deficiencies in the shield regeneration lattice at co-ordinates 0122-23A.”

She tilted her head slightly as she listened to the reports but decided that the artefact remained the higher priority. “Ensure that sector is rotated out of potential attack vectors on arrival but continue to prioritize activation of the artefact.”

In her mind’s eye, the destruction of the Federation was at hand.



SHUTTLEPOD McCOY
VETHRION SYSTEM
22nd November 2373 – 2342 FST


LJ felt a strange calmness settle over him as the seconds ticked away. At T-minus thirty seconds, he would disconnect the tether and umbilical that supported Becky before activating an evasive, high impulse departure while simultaneously transmitting the emergency call.

Death was not something that overly troubled him, especially when it was in support of a higher cause, but he had time to feel regret over the things that he would not now get to do.

“LJ, hold the sequence!”


The shout was so loud and unexpected that LJ involuntarily clasped his hands to his ears.

“They’ve gone!” There was genuine joy and relief in Becky’s voice and LJ made sure to keep his large hands well clear of the helm console. “They recovered that sphere and just lit out!”

“Are you certain they have left the system?”

“Damn it LJ I don’t know but for now they’re gone! Reel out the tether and transmit the data burst!”

His hands were already moving before Becky had finished speaking and as the tiny craft at last left the shadow of the asteroid, he punched the transmission button wondering if it might be his last act.

Moments later, he was thrilled to hear the sound of Lieutenant Commander Han Janowski’s voice responding to the unexpected signal.

“McCoy, this is Angel, confirm your status.”

Forcing himself to remain calm and concise, he relayed the details of the events that had occurred over the past five hours or so.

“We are unsure where they may be now Sir. Because of the sensor blocking nature of the asteroid, we could not track them.”

“Understood McCoy. We’ll be entering the system in fourteen minutes, standby for recovery, Angel out.”

Awaiting the arrival of Angel gave the pair the chance to recover the sampling and surface sensing equipment that had been deployed on the asteroid’s surface before station keeping within a safe distance of its protective haven.

In the distance, the now darkened crescent of the McCreary’s bisected saucer continued to slowly rotate, occasionally reflecting sunlight from exposed bare metal surfaces.

“In those last few minutes before the Borg departed, I had time to think,” he said quietly. “Strangely death does not scare me, but the thought of being assimilated is perhaps the most terrifying thing I can imagine.”

“Let’s just pray then that the Borg never come in force,” she replied bitterly, “because if they do there isn’t a miracle in heaven that could save us.”

It was a statement that, one day in the not too distant future, he would recall with pinpoint clarity.
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Old June 8 2010, 10:44 AM   #3
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Re: Star Trek : Angel - Vignette No 7

I actually wrote this short for several reasons.

1. I needed a vignette for LJ (good starting point!)

2. There's a link to my previous stories in here which will be expanded upon.

3. The film FIRST CONTACT left some gaping plot holes that I've tried to rationalise. Why didn't the Borg simply enter the time vortex before reaching Earth? What caused the weakness in the Borg cube's shields that Picard 'heard' reported through his link?

4. A short gave me a break from the trilogy!!

Enjoy!
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Old June 14 2010, 04:45 PM   #4
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Re: Star Trek : Angel - Vignette No 7

Wow, the loss of McCreary was just gut-wrenching, especially once it was revealed that the captain and XO's sacrifices were in vain and that the cadet crew were all killed or assimilated.

Becky and LJ have been witness to a tragedy, one that will doubtless haunt them for some time. Kudos to them for doing what was necessary to warn Starfleet, even if becoming martyrs to the cause ultimately proved not to be required.

This is a terrific little vignette, giving us some wonderful character background while filling in some glaring plot holes from First Contact.

Nicely done!
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