Last time, on the Endeavour and the Portland...
Nova Europa Colony:
With a heavy sigh, Marcus took in one last breath. It smelled of the pine tree forest surrounding them and the salty ocean. He turned to his first officer and said, "I'm coming." Giving her a smile, he asked, "Do you ever miss being out there where you had to more to worry about than crop yield and comets?"
"But here we are, defending the Federation from all who seek to eat," responded Flores with a hint of sarcasm.
With a smile, Marcus then added, "Speaking of eating, what about dinner tonight?"
Almost on purpose, the two stepped into the observation lounge, ending the conversation. Marcus nodded at his senior staff and took his place at the end of the table. Lt. Jeffers, the Chief of Operations, had just finished connecting the holo-emmitters. The command staff of the five other colonies became visible and the meeting was off to a start.
Marcus stood, as it was his turn to kick off the meeting. Before any words could come out of his mouth, the uplink suddenly was terminated. "Jeffers, what happened?"
The man checked the communications console and shrugged, "Everything says it should be working, only...."
Before he could finish his sentence, a static pop came from the speakers. "Something's comming through," said Jeffers.
Then, a mechanical voice that sounded like it was being spoken by a dozen or so people started ominously. "We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile."
From his standing position, Marcus tapped his comm badge and said, "This is Commander Byrne. Red alert. All hands to battle stations. Prepare for an invasion. This is not a drill."
With that, the senior officers broke from the meeting, rushing to their respective places. As she left, Lt. Cmdr. Flores said, "Well, you wanted some adventure. If we make it out of this, you're on for dinner."
Bridge, USS Endeavour
"Lieutenant Swiftpaws, prepare to launch the shuttle," she called out, looking down at the helm station. They had the unusual situation of having two helmsmen aboard; Petty Officer Sandyman was there too in order to assist Miracle in flying two ships at once. "Lieutenant McKinnon, prepare to route auxiliary power to the engines and weapons; I want to hit them hard and fast."
In orbit around Nova Europa
The shuttle "Ole Grumpy" rose above the bubble and shot forward towards the Borg Sphere, then it disappeared into warp to reappear close to the Borg Sphere at max sublight speeds and slammed into the Borg Sphere....
The effects where without question beyond spectacular. For the first second it seemed as if nothing was happening outside of the initial impact, but than the entire sphere just ceased to exist the energy of the impact created enough energy to turn most of it in vapor and the little which was left as solid matter was blasted away. The Endeavour's sensor array just went totally blank and shut down due the radiation and sensory overloads and the shields flared up with great intensity blasting away gases, derbies and radiation.
The caves of Nova Europa
In the cave, things were desperate. The Borg had quickly adapted to the phasers and things had degenerated into hand-to-hand combat. The survivors had pushed back as far as they could into the caverns and had, literally, hit the wall.
Marcus rubbed his face with his hand, trying to find some sort of plan. If they had been outside, they would have seen the spectacular display of the Borg ship's demise. Instead they got an increasingly erratic enemy who had just been cut from the Collective. The drones were scared, angry, and alone for the first time since their assimilation.
All of that led to more ferocity in their attack. Marcus took note of the weakened ceiling in the section above their position and the main portion of the attacking drones. If they hit it just right, they might be able to buy some time for rescue. He leaned toward Yvette and Fotu. With an finger pointing at the cave ceiling, he commanded, "Aim there, bring it down."
After a few seconds, a series of loud cracks sounded the collapse of the cavern ceiling. Rocks piled up and dust was tossed around making things virtually invisible.
As the dust settled, Marcus noticed that the new rock wall had cut off the large majority of the attacking Borg. There were a few stragglers still with the survivors, but they were now safely trapped. Taking the moment of calm, Marcus nodded toward the few remaining Borg as he went towards the back of the cavern to check on the wounded.
Zureel was at the far rear of the cave, clutching his shattered and now-misshapen left leg; either a Borg had sent the Saurian flying with a mighty bash, or he was simply unlucky during the scrabble. Remaining conscious, the crewman met eyes with Marcus. "Commander," he hissed in pain, but managed a brave nod. "Let'sss hope we don't die here."
Transporter Room Two, USS Endeavour
Marcus had resigned himself long ago to the necessity of the transporter, and this time he felt very grateful for such technology. However, that never stopped him from hating the disorientation felt after being beamed from such a difficult place. '112 people coming home... out of 3,000,' thought Marcus with more than a hint of sadness. His sadness was eased a bit by the relief that they had gotten so many out, there had been other colonies and outposts which couldn't claim even one.
Bridge, USS Endeavour
"Let's get out of here!" exclaimed Kate. "Maximum wa--"
It was too late. The Endeavour shuddered as it was hit by a plasma torpedo. The cube was bearing down upon them, firing all weapons, making it impossible for them to go to warp.
"Evasive maneuvers," shouted Kate as the ship shuddered again. "Head for the asteroid belt; maybe we can lose them there!"
Bridge, USS Endeavour
The tactical officer, Ensign Tina Ashingvale, pulled her phaser a fraction of a second too late as a Borg materialized practically on top of her. With a mighty upward swing, the junior officer was sent sailing across the bridge, sent into a bulkhead with crushing force. She crumpled to a heap, unconscious, or worse.
Kate looked around her bridge. From the consoles on the port side where brave officers were fighting bravely to the starboard side where the Borg had completely taken over. Kate raised an eyebrow as she realised that the Borg weren't assimilating anyone, but before she could 'investigate' further another drone appear in front of her and even though people around her tried defending their Captain the drone said "resistance is futile" and disappeared in the Borg's familiar green transporter beam, taking the Endeavour's young Captain with him. Immediately followed by the other borg drones transporting off the bridge as well. It almost seamed as if Kate was the target of the attack.
Airlock, USS Portland
Standing at the airlock, with Tim at her side and Ko-ko perched upon her shoulder, Alenis was dreading the moment they were to open for she knew exactly who would be on the other side. “Are you ready?” she asked.
“How bad could it be?” replied Tim in a gentle tone. “It’s the Portland.”
“Oh, you haven’t heard about our special guest?” asked Alenis, raising an eyebrow. “Trust me, it’s bad.”
The airlock doors whooshed open to reveal a tall, severe looking Andorian in a black uniform. “Captain Alenis,” called out Shras th’Karath, the head of the dark energy project. “I was told you were dead.”
“Oh, how I wish I were,” replied Alenis in a droll voice. She couldn’t stand even being in the same room as the man. “Shras, you remember Commander Rouse, right? And Ko-ko?”
Ko-ko simply glared at Shras, taking up a defensive posture on Alenis’ shoulder.
“How can I forget?” he asked rhetorically, taking on a patronizing tone. “Now, Captain, I don’t need to tell you and your goon here about the importance of this project. The dark energy reactor could revolutionize space travel.
Briefing room, USS Portland
Taking one last look over her crew, Alenis tapped a button in front of her to activate the holographic display. A three dimensional star chart showing the position of Nova Europa, the nebula, and the Portland, among a few other things, appeared in front of everyone. "The Borg are back," she said in a firm tone, pausing for a moment to allow that to sink in.
"Was Nova Europa attacked by the Borg? Were there any survivors?" Jason asked fearing for his sister Yvette's life, she'd recently taking a position as Chief Intelligence Officer. Although the Science Officer had never encountered the Borg, he remembered his mother telling him of her encounter with them during the Battle of Sector 001 almost 20 years ago. He'd always dreaded coming across those cybernetic zombies.
"Yes," replied Alenis in a firm tone. Wearing a dataglove connected to the holo-projector on the briefing table, she pointed towards Nova Europa, highlighting it in red. "72 hours ago, Nova Europa sent out a distress call, reporting that they were being attacked by the Borg. Four hours ago, the USS Endeavour engaged a sphere in orbit of Nova Europa, destroying it and rescuing a few dozen survivors before being engaged by a tactical cube."
Sera pulled at the collar of her new uniform, it was the same style as Shras as she had been transferred to his command while retaining her Chief Engineer position. She had yet to really feel comfortable in it, especially when in the same room as the Portland's senior staff. "Was the Captain captured? If so, could this be another Captain Picard situation where her experience and knowledge could create another Wolf 359?" There was the slightest bit of fear in her voice. That battle had destroyed 39 starships and had been as devastating as any of the battles against the Dominion, and that had been against one tactical cube with the knowledge of one Starfleet Captain.
Alenis paused for a moment. "Yes, she was," she replied. "We don't know what they've done with her. All we know is that the Borg broke off their attack and retreated as soon as they captured her, almost as if Captain Banninga was their sole objective."
Bridge, USS Porltand, NGC-3814 Nebula
He remained silent for a long moment until he let out a soft grunt. The visual on the screen tilted sharply as he swung the ship low from her current course. "There's a lot of polaron scanning beams the further we go, Captain. Whatever it is is just coming into range now and-" The young man choked off whatever he'd been about to say and looked up as the wispy clouds parted.
Sera tried to say something about the Borg transwarp gate that was coming into view on the screen and how that explained the readings that she was getting, however what came out of her mouth was a stammered curse.
"Transwarp conduit aperture," Marcus breathed, looking a mixture of horrified and mesmerized. "Captain, just a ballpark guess here without active scans, but that's a fledgling unimatrix complex. No telling if it's fully operational or not."
=/\=Portland One, what's going on over there?=/\= crackled Alenis' voice through the audio systems of the shuttle. =/\=I've got some strange energy readings here, and I can't make heads or tails of it.=/\=
=/\= "At the risk of Commander Shras' wrath and a blow to his ego, ma'am, the technology that we've got aboard the Portland matches what's on that transwarp aperture," =/\= Marcus relayed to the other shuttle. =/\= "And it's better. Refined. The Borg could deploy silently to anywhere in the Alpha Quadrant from this transwarp conduit." =/\=
Alenis gasped. The tactical implications of this could be massive. =/\=Relay this information to the Portland.=/\= She looked down at the sensor readings; the readings were definitely centralized in an area with the Borg equivalent of work bees -- nanoprobes ranging in size from small dogs to larger than a shuttle -- buzzing around a large structure. Glancing back at the explosives in the back, she nodded at Tolaran. =/\=We're going in with the charges.=/\=
Inside the Borg Unicomplex, NGC-3814
"No not exactly what I had envisioned my assignment would be Captain. My first tour was aboard the Paul Revere and it was mundane and routine. Nearly bored me to death but that would be a terrible way for a doctor to die. Now on the Portland... well its been quite unusual to say the least from day one."
"The unusual is what we do," replied Alenis, flipping the sight of her compression rifle up and down. "We--"
She was cut off by a Borg probe appearing directly in front of her and Brad. "Stay calm, no sudden movements," she said, clutching her compression phaser rifle tightly. Out of one of the arms of the probe, a scanning beam was projected, the horizontal beam moving up and down, scanning first Brad and then Alenis.
The scanning beam. To Alenis, it looked just like the tractor beam that had captured the Gol only moments before its destruction. Shaking in her magnetic boots, she gritted her teeth and stared up at the probe, clutching her rifle tightly and ready to bring it to bear at a moment's notice.
Suddenly, the probe spun around and pointed another arm at Alenis. Ducking just in time, when she looked up, she could see two assimilation tubules jammed into the neutronium plating behind her. "Fire!" she shouted, bringing her rifle to bear and blasting away at the probe.
Bridge, USS Portland
"Commander Rouse, this is an unacceptable risk," protested Shras. "Leave them behind! They're only a handful of officers, and you're risking the ship and the Dark Energy project for--"
"Shras, shut the hell up!" interrupted Tim, staring up at the screen as the Portland barreled towards the sphere to rescue the shuttles. "Tactical, target that sphere's tractor beams and fire! Helm, bring us between the sphere and the shuttles. Ops, tractor them in, now!"
At the flight control station, Ensign Kat Steel expertly moved the Portland into position. While she didn't know how long a Miranda class would last up against a Borg sphere, she knew a couple shuttles had no chance once the Borg took notice of them, which they quite clearly had. As the sphere's forward tractor beam faltered under the Portland's barrage of phaser fire, Kat used a quick burst of impulse to place the Portland in between the spheres and the shuttles, blocking their shot.
Trading fire with the sphere in an effort to hold them off until the shuttles could be recovered, the Portland's shields were holding -- for now. On the main viewer, Tim could see three cubes closing in, which would make short work of the Portland. And then, without warning, the screen flickered and he was looking at the interior of a Borg cube. A woman was standing in the center of the room, flanked by Borg drones. She was clad in a dark form-fitting suit made of some sort of synthetic material, with fiber optic cables running up and down and across the suit. Her pale face and neck sported a number of cybernetic implants, and, unusually for a Borg, her dark hair remained. Tim immediately recognized her from a personnel file he had reviewed only a couple hours previously.
"Captain Banninga?" he asked.
"I am Locasta of Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile."
Bridge, USS Portland
"Captain," started Tim, vacating the center chair, "we used the dark energy reactor for some sort of subspace jump. I don't fully understand it, but we're safe, 1.6 light years away from the nebula. Damage and casualty reports are coming in, but it doesn't look like anything too serious--"
"Sir, Ma'am," called out Duvall, "we have one casualty. Lieutenant Williams is in sickbay, suffering from severe radiation poisoning."
Alenis looked up at Tim, pain in her eyes. Seeing your crew come to harm in the line of duty was never easy. But Sera... she was too young, and her career was too promising. Less than a year out of the academy, she had been made Chief Engineer and was by all accounts an excellent officer. And, on a personal level, Sera was one of the ones who in the alternate future risked everything trying to save her.
Alenis swallowed the lump in her throat. "Tim, take us out of here. I..." She paused for a moment, thinking of Sera lying in sickbay. Radiation poisoning was one of the worst ways to die, especially for someone so young. "I need to give Admiral Washington a call."