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Alenis Meru
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Re: Mission Six: "Unto the Breach, Part II"

Tue Jan 05, 2016 2:02 am

Reporting for Duty
Ready Room
USS Portland
Authors: Ensign Ash Sullivan and Captain Alenis Meru

After packing his bags and making his way through two security checkpoints, Ash finally stood on the bridge of the USS Portland. He looked around at the interesting mashup of old and new as the ship had obviously been updated over its many years of service. He wasn't quite sure how he felt yet about the transfer. His last ship was huge, a Galaxy Class where he worked in a department so large he didn't even know half the people in it. The Portland was much smaller and would likely take some getting used to. He was also still a little nervous about the classified reason behind his transfer. After adjusting his hair and the duffle bag over his shoulder, Ash pressed the chime and awaited the captain's response.

"Enter," replied a voice from inside the office. The captain's voice was firm but strained, as though she had a lot to do and didn't appreciate interruptions.

Ash entered the room cautiously, noticing the captain's strained tone. He took in the scene, first noticing the bird on the desk which was a bit of a surprise to him. He snapped a sharp salute to the captain as was the protocol then stood at attention until he was addressed.

As Ash walked in, Alenis raised a finger without even looking from her terminal, motioning for him to give her a minute while she finishes up what she was doing. Meanwhile, Ko-ko, who was previously strutting her stuff on the captain's desk, froze and stared at the new entrant, trying to read if he was a threat or not using her primitive empathic abilities. Just to be safe, she ruffled her wings and took up a defensive position, ready to leap into the air at a moment's notice.

Finishing up what she was working on, Alenis finally looked up from her computer screen. She didn't recognize the Ensign before her; it could possibly be someone on the lower decks who she rarely saw, or possibly a transfer from one of the other ships in the task group. "May I help you?" she asked, sizing up the young man before her.

"Uhhh..." Ash started unusually nervous. "Ensign Ash Sullivan ma'am. I've been reassigned to your ship though the circumstances surrounding the change were classified." He explained shaking off the nerves. He wasn't sure what it was that was causing his anxiety, maybe it was the suspicious look he was getting from the captain's pet. Setting the PADD containing his transfer orders on the desk he added, "I'm your new Assistant Chief of Security."

"At ease, Ensign," replied Alenis, as she slid the pad towards herself on the desk. Picking it up, she began skimming his personnel file. "Lets see here, Ensign, three years of experience on the USS Fitzsimmons, solid academic record..." She paused and stared at the PADD a little more, as Ko-ko continued sizing up the guest. "I see you've been doing some research on adaptive shielding technology," she added in an inquisitive tone.

"Yes ma'am." He replied a little more relaxed now, "More specifically I was researching ways to combat Borg adaptive shielding. It was untested but we had a good theory about phaser frequency modulation." He explained, not wanting to bore his obviously busy captain with the details unless needed.

"If you don't mind me asking this, what is the Portland's current mission? Like I said everything on my transfer was classified and I'm not really sure why I'm here." He asked inquisitively.

"Capture the Borg queen, destroy their base, and save the quadrant," replied Alenis, only half-jokingly. She pressed a few buttons on her desk to activate the holo-projector, showing a model of the Borg complex and transwarp gate. "The Borg have stationed themselves in the NGC-3814 nebula," she explained. "We need to take out this transwarp gate before they can bring it online and send swarms of cubes into the Alpha Quadrant."

Alenis leaned back in her chair. "So, you might be getting a chance to test out your research firsthand," she added.

Ash's first reaction was to laugh, which he promptly suppressed. After seeing the holo-projection he knew the captain wasn't kidding around. Many people wouldn't take the news that they had been reassigned to what could reasonably be called a suicide mission so well but Ash couldn't help but feel excited. He was a thrill seeker and what greater thrill could there be than facing off against the Borg. Understanding now the strain he had noticed in the captains expression Ash decided it would be best to get out of her hair and let her return to her duties. However not before one last question. "This may be a strange question ma'am and I promise this is my last one before I let you get back to work but... Is that your pet?" He asked referring to the bird which was still eyeing him off suspiciously. "Its a beautiful creature but I feel like it doesn't like me." He said with a slightly nervous laugh unsure as to how the captain would respond to his casual question.

"This," explained Alenis, as she got up and walked over towards a small tin that she kept on the shelf, "is Acting Ensign Ko-ko. She's the ship's Chief Morale Officer." Quickly and discretely so that Ko-ko didn't notice, she pulled out a mint leaf from the tin. "Ko-ko is from Alamis IV, and in addition to being a very intelligent animal, her species has empathic abilities. How she was assigned to me is a long story, but yes, you could say that she's my pet."

Alenis placed the mint leaf in Ash's hand. "Mint leaves are her favourite treat. Just relax, think positive thoughts, and hold out your hand."

Ash smiled, "That's amazing. Hello Ensign Ko-ko." He said happily as he held out his hand containing the mint leaves. He had heard of empathic and telepathic animals but never seen one in person.

Ko-ko glanced up at Alenis. Seeing the encouraging smile on her face and feeling the positive thoughts emanating from the two people in the room, she slowly and hesitantly walked towards Ash's outstretched hand. She took one last look up at Ash before leaning over with her beak and eating the mint leaves out of Ash's hand. Partway through the meal, she looked up at Ash and let out a calming coo.

"I think she likes you," said Alenis with a smile.

"Well I like her too." Ash said with a smile as he reached his other hand up to pet Ko-ko. "The ship's morale is in good hands." He added.
Capt. Alenis Meru
Commanding Officer
USS Portland

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Alenis Meru
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Re: Mission Six: "Unto the Breach, Part II"

Tue Jan 05, 2016 4:16 am

When: Before the attack on the Borg
Who: Marcus and Nikki
Where: USS Portland, Sciences

The Portland's computing lab was a unique combination of modern and antiquated instruments designed to maintain the ship's primary and auxiliary memory cores. While the ship's systems were up-to-spec for older, refitted ships, there were still components that heralded back to when the Miranda class was in active production.

Equipment was strewn about the room and patched with ODN fiber; in some cases the white fibers were bare to the open air and a communications hub spliced in. There was a deliberate pathway into the center of the mess where a small desk laden with PADDs and a small pile of old moleskine notebooks lived. A plate of stale, half-eaten protein cubes from whenever Marcus ate last sat precariously balanced atop an old teradyne duotronic relay connecting two gel-pack ancillary processor units. The entire room spoke of 'Mad Science', but who else to coordinate the Borg problem than the task group's leading cybernetics researcher?

"Solve a problem that the Alpha Quadrant has been dealing with for over thirty years, they said," Marcus muttered from behind his desk, stretching and rolling his shoulders. "No big deal. No pressure."

At that moment, the door whooshed open. "Hey, Marcus, I need your help with..."

Seeing Marcus look up and catch her eyes, Nikki froze. She was used to a messy workspace, but when she saw the dark circles under his eyes, the stubble, and the look of even more frustration than usual on Marcus' face, she immediately became concerned. "Marcus?" she asked, in a gentle voice.

Looking over, Marcus' mouth turned up into a quickly vanishing smile - not because he was disappointed, but likely because of his fatigue. "Hi, Nikki," he said. No sardonic greeting, no acerbic salutation. The two of them hadn't spent much time together since that brief shoreleave and Ellen and Maria's manipulations, and the topic of continuing their relationship had always taken a back seat to ship's business.

"Omigod, Marcus, are you all right!" exclaimed Nikki, in a sudden outburst of concern. "You look terrible! When was the last time you slept? Or ate? Have you been at this workstation all day? Do you even know what time it is? What day it is?" She took a few short, heavy breaths and then looked over at the mess on his desk. "Here, let me clean this up for you," she said, precariously stacking the empty coffee cups, plates, and utensils. "You shouldn't leave food lying around, that's what the recycler on the replicator is for. At least, that's what my roommate always used to tell me at the academy. But T'Espera was one of those Vulcan types, with a stick up her..."

It was at that moment that a glass coffee cup slid off the plate of half-eaten protein cubes, shattering upon impact with the floor. "Omigod, Marcus, I'm so sorry!" exclaimed Nikki, running over to the replicator with the rest of the stale food, plates, and utensils. Quickly, she shoved it all inside the slot and pressed the button to recycle it. "Ummmmmm... do you have a broom somewhere in all this mess?" she asked, looking sheepishly down at the broken glass on the floor.

Marcus walked over and attempted to navigate around Nikki while she was fretting back and forth, trying to get a word in edgewise. "No, I'm..." "No, really, it's okay, I..." "Hey, would you slow down a second?" He folded his arms across his chest. "This is my mess. You don't have to do this," he finished with. "Computer, detect replicated detritus on the floor of this office. Activate cleaning sequence." And with a sweeping gesture of his hands as the floor briefly lit up in a transporter shimmer and a smirk, "Voilà. Better living through technology."

But yes, he did look exhausted. "I don't sleep much when I've got a major deadline. You know, Borg, unimatrix, rescuing an assimilated Starfleet captain... no pressure."

"Well... you should," replied Nikki, crossing her arms as well. "Studies show that your productivity decreases drastically when you don't sleep. And if you don't take care of yourself, then who is going to save the galaxy like a big hero?"

Marcus snorted. "I'm no hero. I'm just a lab rat. Which is just fine by me. The statistical life expectancy of a Starfleet officer in blue far exceeds the other branches." He went to go sit down, and he rubbed his eyes tiredly. "We understand so little about them, and they're our most determined enemy..."

"Yes, they are a mystery..." With no other chair, Nikki pushed a few of Marcus' PADDs aside and sat down on his desk. She picked one up and started flipping through it. "Locutus' tactics at Wolf 359... interesting..." She placed it back on the desk. "Did you know that my uncle Reg served with Captain Picard? He's a total genius. He saved the Enterprise on more than one occasion, and was known as one of the best engineers ever. He fought the Borg, and worked on the Pathfinder Project. And he even shook hands with Zefram Cochrane. Zefram Cochrane! Can you believe it! He's..."

Nikki took a deep breath, realizing she was prattling on. "Sorry. Uncle Reg is kind of my hero, and I get... excited sometimes. Though it's hard living in his shadow."

Marcus dropped his hands and looked up at Nikki. "Must be nice. Having someone to look up to. You know, my father died in service at Wolf 359. And my sister. We got separated in the evacuation corridor." His eyes unfocused briefly, no doubt recalling the stuff of nightmares. "My whole career has been devoted to learning about the Borg. Figuring them out. Learning how to beat them. You've had a hero to look up to. I've just had revenge dressed up in Starfleet's higher purpose." Marcus' eyes alighted on Nikki. "Is that all there is, Nikki? All there is to what I am?"

"Oh, Marcus," said Nikki, taking his hand in hers and gently caressing it. In front of her, Marcus looked like a sad puppy dog. "You're so much more than that. Just think of all you've done for the Portland in the short time you've been here, and what you did for Holo-Meru. And..." she paused for a moment, looking into his eyes, "I know it might be hard to believe, but you have people who care about you."

For a moment, Marcus lost his ability to be self-deprecating. But he froze when Nikki took his hand in his. "So, uh, on that subject," he said slowly. Not sarcastically, but more like he was being extremely careful with his words. "Ever since shoreleave, I've been meaning to, ah, ask you something. Where do we stand? With each other." His speaking increased in speed rapidly, not unlike how Nikki winds up. "I mean, I'm perfectly okay with being professionals about this. We're in different departments and everything, so there wouldn't be a conflict of interest, so that's good, but..."

As Marcus rambled on, Nikki leaned in closer. Then, without warning, she kissed him softly on the cheek.

"Has anyone ever told you that you ramble sometimes?" asked Nikki, blushing slightly.

Letting out an unintelligible, "Guhh..." followed by a nod, Marcus, for a short moment, looked completely disarmed and dumbstruck. When he found his words, he stammered, "I... I was g-going to wait until after the Borg, but..." Then, with a shaky hand, he reached up to caress her cheek, catch her gently by the chin, and kissed her.

Nikki just wrapped her arms around Marcus and savoured the moment. Had someone said a few months ago that she would develop feelings for him, she wouldn't believe it. But underneath his sardonic exterior, Nikki could see that there was another side to Marcus; an intelligent, sensitive man who suffered a tragedy and is afraid of getting hurt again. While they didn't exactly hit it off in a positive manner, Nikki could feel that her and Marcus were about the only people on the Portland who could truly understand each other.

As soon as the kiss broke off, Nikki smiled, barely able to control the torrent of emotions before her. Then, she grabbed his hand. "Come on, I have a holodeck program that can help you with your work," and with that, she was dragging him through the corridors of the ship, holding his hand tightly.
Capt. Alenis Meru
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USS Portland

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Re: Mission Six: "Unto the Breach, Part II"

Tue Jan 05, 2016 4:21 am

Training Time
Holodeck One, USS Endeavour
Between the rendezvous and the attack on the Borg
Authors:
Portland Crew: Ensign Ash Sullivan, Major Judith Rouse (played by Alenis Meru), Lieutenant Commander Tyrlai Zade, Lieutenant Tolaran Kian
Endeavour Crew: Ensign Dima Reda, CPO Marcella Solari (played by Yvette Beauvoir), Lieutenant Zhuang Fotu, Lieutenant Yvette Beauvoir, Lieutenant Miracle
Others: General Mar'dok (played by Sera Williams)


"We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile."

Running through the corridors of the Borg unicomplex, Ensign Dima Reda blasted away with her compression rifle at any Borg drone that was in her path. They had been detected, and were still a hundred metres away from the central plexus where Locasta was located. Now, it was just a mad dash towards their objective before they were swarmed by drones and assimilated.

General Mar'dok had led a group of Klingons that were attached to some Starfleet personnel. They had already ditched their disruptors when the Borg had adapted, now they were using the much more preferred Bat'leths. They had left the Starfleet personnel to their fate, though Mar'dok would have given anything to have a few more soldiers right now. They were currently being overran with Borg. Before he could get his bearings, he felt a strong hand grab him from behind, then pain in his neck as an unnoticed Borg injected his neck with its assimilation tubules.

Ash had never faced the borg before today. He had researched them, their technology and weapons and had read reports about their strength, tactical strategies and precision. None of that research could have prepared him for the real thing. As drones gathered in around him and his phaser modulations stopped working he resorted to hand-to-hand combat. While he was quite strong for a human he was no match for the 10 or so drones that now surrounded him. He managed to fight off a few but the rest soon had him pinned and he felt their assimilation tubules enter his neck near the base of his skull.

Mercy found herself separated from the others. She was a former Marine and had been in combat before, but the Borg were relentless and not easy to kill. Several drones had herded her into a dead end. With her phaser ineffective, she waited for them to close in on her before setting the weapon to overload. Moments later she smiled as it exploded, killing her and taking several drones with her.

Lieutenant Zhuang Fotu was a skilled martial artist, and despite the Borg adapting quickly to their phaser rifles, he was able to toss a few around into bulkheads and each other with graceful yet forceful throws and deflections. But unlike the colony, where they literally brought the cavern down on top of the Borg onslaught, there was no cavern here; a lucky drone managed to snag Fotu's arm with an assimilation tube before going limp, and the Endeavour's tactical officer went down in agony.

The only one left on her team, Dima was close to her objective. She could see the central plexus, with Locasta inside. But as she ran towards her target, she was suddenly stopped by a Borg force field. Turning around, she saw two drones closing in on her. She fired, but to no effect; the Borg had adapted, and her weapons were useless.

She had one weapon left. "Assimilate this," she said, pulling the pin on a photon grenade and waiting for the Borg to take her.

"Computer, end program," called out Locasta. With the Borg ship around them disappearing, the holographic representation of Locasta disappeared, revealing Major Judith Rouse. "Better, but not good enough," she mused. They had been at this for hours, and had still not managed to succeed in their objective once, and frustration was beginning to bubble over.

"Yooz didn't have mez part of the team." Miracle entered, wearing her usual garb of all black. Only thing added was the jacket and combat load bearing vest with tools of her trade as a Commando. Speaking softly with a coldness that belied her warm nature. "Iz am here just incase I'm not needed on the Endeavour as pilot."

Miracle moved over to Ensign Reda. "Use more Explosives. Even the Borg are not immune to the laws of physics. Use EMP wave generators to shut down their electronics of mechanical parts. Don't be afraid to destroy the Complex. Yooz don't live here." Eyes, once warm, now ice cold. "Use the Laws of Physics to yooz advantage. Use their strengths against them." Looking at the rest of those assembled for the raid as she spoke. She gave Major Rouse a nod of an equal to another. "Shall wez have a beer or two to reflect on what transpired?"

Judith looked over at the new entrant. "No celebrations until after the battle, unfotuntately." She glanced over at Mar'dok for a split-second. "Though if we're alive by then, I imagine there will be some blood wine all around."

Fotu stood, the holo-alterations of his assimilation melting away as the program ended. Despite being quite physically fit, he was sweating through his uniform. "Strength is irrelevant, Miracle," he reminded her. "The Borg can be surprised by projectile weapons and explosives, but only for a short time. We must find another path to the other side of the mountain, and through does not seem to be a valid approach."

"Then take away what theyz need to survive." Miracle shot back at Fotu, eyes getting that mischievous sparkle. "For all species use, or travel in space need one thing paramount before all others. Power. If yooz don't have power. Nothing works after awhile. Mechanical things stop. Even computers. Communications. Section Shields. Security Cameras. Rest is mice in the walls." Glancing at the Klingons, "I'm sure they could handle taking out a few power sources.

"Personal modulating shields that the Borg uses to prevent those probes injecting crap into ourz system." Miracle was on roll and showing that she did her research very diligently, ferreting out details that most over look."

Miracle took a step towards the exit. "Oh... And use personal cloaking devices. And don't say theyz against Federation usage. Or I'll let our Klingon friends here know a dirty secret about the Federation. Or maybe Iz should say the Romulans and the Cardasians and let them jump to their own conclusions."

Yvette shook off the effects of the holodeck's representation of being assimilated and resolved not to experience for real. "Also the Borg have the home court advantage, and to continue the sports metaphor, they know all our play, we need to come up with stratagems that they will not expect." She looked around. "We know what can hurt them; EMPs, projectile weapons, high explosives, and blades. We just have to come up with new ways to utilize them."

"Maybe we are fighting too much." Tyrlai said looking at a wall display that was running simulations based off the holographic data. "We are all converging on one target in groups. This close to the queen none of the drones are in 'safe mode' they all follow us. As we get closer to the center all of the Borg start swarming in and we get penned up. We need to specialize. Say one recovery group of three or four for the queen. The rest of us, once we are engaged we pull back, away from the queen. Keep the drones on you and pull them back to open up room for the recovery team to move. The recovery team does not fight-- they run and evade until they reach Locasta."

Judith considered the plan. It was sound, though it would require a lot of coordination between the multiple boarding parties. "It is worth a shot," she said, before looking over at Mar'dok, the man who was technically her husband according to Klingon law. "Unless you think that these tactics are cowardly and dishonorable, General."

The Klingon General gave a short snort. He felt his neck where the assimilation tubes had just gotten him, then looked at those gathered. In a surprising response, Mar'dok said, "That is a sound plan. We can can create circles of choke points for the recovery team. We hold points along the entry and exit path. As the recovery team runs out, those holding the choke point will follow the team out." Giving those gathered a warning look, in a gruff voice he add, "Nothing is more dishonorable than being one of those... things."

"Excellent," replied Judith, pleasantly surprised. "Let's try this out. Fotu, Reda, Beauvoir, you're on the recovery team. Mar'dok, your Klingons will do what they do best and cause as much damage to their power systems as possible. While the decentralized nature of Borg systems means you probably won't be able to take them out, even creating a diversion and causing momentary hiccups in their internal security systems would help confuse the Borg. Everyone else, use hit and run tactics to pull the drones away. Understood?"

The holodeck doors opened and Tolaran walked through in his combat armor, looking at the assembled crews and narrowing his eyes slightly at Mar'dok, after the meeting he had been left with a bitter taste of the Klingons and their attitudes. "I apologise I'm late, I had to deal with some security protocols for the Portland. Now... what can I do."

"We have another Trill?" Tyrlai slinked her way through the small throng of Klingons. "When did this happen? Hi, my name is Tyrlai." She extended her hand smiling.

"Commander Tyrlai, we do seem to keep missing each other don't we... or I usually hide away in the background. I am Lieutenant Kian, the Portland's Security Chief." he tried to keep a stern look on his face as he took her hand, in truth he'd been trying to avoid Tyrlai, he was never sure of other Trill as his parents were well known on their homeworld as scientists and he'd followed a very... different path.

"Not at all, Im the one who barely knows half the department heads. Mostly cause of my complete lack of oversight. They should have assigned someone to keep an eye on me. I'd say we should get together and reminisce about home, but I haven't been there in twelve years and they kinda tried to kill me that time. So, I'm bitter, I trust your experience was better?"

Tolaran smiled "Hmm, that is a discussion for another time, but lets just say the fact I didn't become a scientist upset family members. I haven't been back since I joined the academy I'm afraid, that was a while ago now. For now my main point of living is to keep the crew of the Portland safe. What would you like me to do?"

"Continue keeping us safe," replied Judith, interrupting the conversation. "Lets set up for one more simulation, this time with a change of tactics." She leaned back and held her back; the pain was starting to come back again and she would have to sit down after this last drill. "Capture me if you can."
Capt. Alenis Meru
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USS Portland

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Re: Mission Six: "Unto the Breach, Part II"

Sat Jan 09, 2016 6:08 pm

Running the Asylum
Captain's Ready Room, USS Endeavour
Shortly after the Rendezvous
Authors: Captain Marcus Byrne & Commander Eahar R'Soll & Lieutenant JG Dawn Solaris


Dawn took one last look in the mirror in her quarters. This was her first official posting onboard a starship and wanted to make a good first impression. She took the time to review the ship’s protocols and had a general idea on what needs to be done before setting in to her duty station.

Wearing the same uniform is something I had to get used to. Dawn thought as she exited her quarters.

Immediately she was greeted by the artificial light within the ship’s corridors as she walked leisurely towards the closest turbolift. Memories of morning sunshine on the planetside was still fresh in her mind. Dawn pushed those thoughts as she walked into the turbolift.

The turbolift parted and deposited her on to the bridge. With Alpha shift in full swing the bridge was bustling with activity. Dawn was greeted by the duty security officer, after she introduced herself followed by a brief discussion the Counselor was directed to a door on the far side of the room. Upon approach she pressed the door chime.

Marcus and Eahar's status report meeting came to an end as the door alerted them that someone was on the other side, awaiting entry. Giving a quiet nod to his XO, Marcus replied, "Enter." In a hushed voice he added to Eahar, that must be our new Counselor."

Dawn took sight of the two individuals as she entered the room. Upon noticing the rank insignia on their uniforms she was able to put the two together. The faces matches the service records she had glance over before coming onboard.

“Captain Byrne, Commander R’Soll.” She greeted them with a smile. “I am Counselor Dawn Solaris, a pleasure to meet you both.”

The Captain stood from his seat and held out his hand. With his best diplomatic tone, he added, "Welcome aboard Counselor. I hear that you have some good recommendations."

Dawn shook his hand in return, unsure if she was interrupting.

Placing his soy latte on the desk in front of him, Eahar stood up and extended his paw towards the newest member of the Endeavour family. He had read her personnel file, of course, but there was only so much that one could glean from what was there. First impressions meant a lot.

"Welcome aboard, Counselor," he said, examining her closely. "I've read your personnel file."

"Thank you." Dawn replied as she shook his hand. She assumed they would have some questions for her.

The Captain had already memorized Dawn's personnel file, but he knew that written words could only tell you so much about a person, he preferred meeting everyone who came aboard face-to-face. "I read that you spent time performing first contact studies. Could you tell me about the Vaccans?" he asked, hoping he correctly named the Vacca VI inhabitants.

“The Federation first set up an observation post on Vacca VI close to twenty years ago. It happened at the end of the planetary civil war which result in the planet united under one leader. Ever since the planet has focused on developing warp technology and other scientific endeavours as a way of bringing everyone together.” Dawn decided on a brief summary, unsure where the conservation is headed.

“I joined the first contact team at the latest stage in the planet’s warp development. Over the course of the past twelve months I was disguised as a local living in the capital city Daccra. My assignment was to understand the inner workings of the latest planetary government, also to found out which group of leaders would be receptive to the Federation contact once the planet achieve interplanetary travel.”

“The closest Federation race I would compare to the Vaccans would be the Caldonians. Since the civil war has ended scientific research is the driving force that brings everyone together. It has achieved the desired result that their founding leader has intended.”

"Impressive," replied Eahar, before taking another sip of his coffee. "I only wish that the Borg were as receptive to diplomacy as these Vaccans were."

"If only the Borg were as receptive to diplomacy as the Klingons, we'd be in a better spot," Marcus only half joked. He picked up a PADD from the table as if it had been something he had been searching for for some time.

He handed it to the new counselor as he said, "This is the ship's manifest. As soon as you're given your security access, everyone's medical history will be unlocked."

The Commander gave his first officer a look, then turned to Dawn. "You may have come to us at the wrong time, or the best time. I'm not sure how much information you were given about our orders, but we will be taking on the Borg. To make matters worse, they are being led by the assimilated former Captain of this ship."

Dawn shivered at the mention of the Borg. As a Starfleet Officer she was trained in the subject matter like everyone else, but to actually dealing with the subject matter up close is entirely different matter.

“Commander, due to sensitive nature of the subject as you indicated I was not given any information.” Dawn stated in matter of fact way. “Nevertheless I will do my best to assist the crew with their recovery.”

With a serious tone, Marcus returned, "There are only three people aboard who have the authority to take me off the Bridge." With a nod toward Eahar, he continued, "Him, the doctor, and you."

His seriousness broke with a lopsided smile as he said, "Welcome aboard Counselor. Feel free to make use of the ship's facilities. Your office is on Deck 12, the Deck is is shared with Medical."
Capt. Alenis Meru
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USS Portland

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Re: Mission Six: "Unto the Breach, Part II"

Sat Jan 09, 2016 6:20 pm

Rendezvous at 29-Alpha
Waypoint 29-Alpha
Deep Space
Authors:
Portland crew: Capt. Alenis Meru, Ens. Kahnr Dai, Lt. Sera Williams
Endeavour crew: Cmdr. Marcus Byrne, Lt. Miracle Swiftpaws, Lt. Zhuang Fotu
Others: Locasta of Borg, General Mar'dok (played by Sera Williams), Captain T'Lisa Anderson (played by Jason Beauvoir)



Out in deep space, a combined task force of Starfleet, Cardassian, and Klingon vessels converged on waypoint 29-Alpha, an empty area of space which was their designated rendezvous point. Already there was a small Miranda class light cruiser, an antique vessel but one which was key to their plan.

The heavy cruisers took up a position front and center. The strategy called for powerful vessels like the Sovereign and Galaxy classes to lead the assault and draw the fire of the Borg defenders. A number of smaller escorts took up the flanks; these would go wide and exploit any opportunities that came up with hit and run attacks on the enemy flanks.

Behind the initial line was the Endeavour, flanked by two Cardassian cruisers. The Endeavour would attempt to break through at the first opportunity and head straight for the unicomplex. Delivering boarding parties into the unicomplex, they would hopefully take advantage of the Borg’s confusion and kidnap Locasta.

Finally, the Klingon vessels formed up on the USS Portland. With the dark energy reactor, they would be the ones to deliver the killing blow to the transwarp system. Activating the cloaking devices and the dark energy stealth systems, the Klingon vessels and the Portland disappeared. The only trace of them was the battle chant over the comms systems.

*******************************

Central Plexus
Borg Unicomplex, NGC-3814 nebula

Inside the central plexus, Locasta watched the scene unfolding before her on her long range sensors, flanked by two drones. She couldn’t help but let out a hint of a smile at the sight before her; the pitiful Federation had teamed up with the Cardassians and Klingons to attack her nebula. Closing her eyes for a moment, she issued orders to her drones to prepare their defenses. Shields, weapons, and polaron detection beams to detect the cloaked vessels.

This rag-tag fleet would simply having the privilege of being the first to be assimilated.

*******************************

USS Canterbury
Bridge

You didn’t have to be a Betazoid to sense the feelings of fear and doubt that pervaded the every part of the Intrepid Class vessel. Captain T’Lisa Anderson could understand this, the Borg brought to mind many shared fears. Fear of death, loss of identity, friends and colleagues being turned against you by an outside force. It was no wonder that the mythologies of many worlds and cultures possessed tales of the dead returning to prey on the living. The Zombies and vampires of Earth, the Klingon Dishonored, Vulcan Walkers of Death and the Bolian Death–Eaters, just to name a few.

Leaving her Ready Room, the Vulcanoid Captain walked onto the Bridge. “Report.” She said as she approached the Captain’s chair.

“We’ve arrived at the Waypoint and all departments report all systems are a go, ma’am.” Commander Drusa replied as she rose from the Captain’s chair.

“ Thank you, Commander, I have the Conn relieve Commander Gar'Rel at tactical and contact the Portland.”

“Aye, ma’am.” The Romulan replied and walked up to the tactical console. “Commander Gar’Rel you are relieved.”

The bear like Ursinoid Security Chief looked questioningly at the Captain.

“It is all right, Kror, my old friend, Commander Drusa can sufficiently handle tactical, I want you to provide Security on the Bridge, should the Borg board the ship.”

“Aye, ma’am.” He replied deep melodious voice as he claimed the XO’s vacated seat and reprogrammed the console to clone the Security console.

“Ma’am, the Portland has acknowledged our hail.”

*******************************

USS Endeavour
Bridge

The Endeavour came out of warp and easily slid into it's position as the spearhead of this operation, a testament to the flying abilities of it's Chief Flight Control Officer. On either of it's sides were Cardassian cruisers. The significance of such a formation was not lost on the Endeavour's CO. Commander Byrne stood from his chair, pulled down his uniform's jacket and said, "Nice flying Lieutenant."

He had called all Senior Officers to the Bridge save Medical, which would be busy in Sickbay preparing for the arrival of the former Captain Banninga as well as the unfortunate who would be injured. The Bridge had been configured so that every officer would have a console on the bridge. Operations, Tactical, the Counselor, the XO, and Flight Control had their usual spot. His Assistant Chief of Tactical and Security had been given a console that would allow Ensign Reda to monitor internal ship security, allowing Lieutenant Zhuang to handle the tactical situation of the space battle. Lieutenant Beauvoir was given a console that had been configured to allow her access to any and all data gathering and collection.

Giving a look to Tactical, Commander Byrne said, "Lieutenant, send word to the Portland that we are here and ready."

Tapping his tactical console, resulting in the usual chime of a channel opening, Fotu spoke. "Portland, this is the Endeavour. We are standing ready."

"Very good, Lieutenant," Marcus stepped back toward his seat. He looked at each of the crew on the Bridge as he said, "All departments, report status."

"Flight Department is ready, Mez Lord Captain." Miracle busy setting up the run at the Borg Complex. She double checked that all RSC Maneuvering Thruster were fully charged and ready for action when called upon. Her Co-pilot nodded affirmation from his spot next to her at helm.

Yvette poured through data coming in from the ship's sensors, picking out any data that may be of use and saving it for further study later...

*******************************
IKC Gre'thor
Bridge

General Mar'dok sat in his elevated chair above the rest of those on the Gre'thor. He had named his ship after the Klingon version of hell. It had been a way to show his enemies that this crew would punish them so severely that Sto-vo-kor would not be waiting for them. Never had that been so more apparent than with this mission. This ragtag bunch of ships would take on the greatest abomination in the Galaxy. He wondered to himself if the very first Borg had been without honor, were they so pathetic that they needed machines to work for them?

It was no matter, they would be crushed this day. Swiveling his chair to his first officer, he commanded, "Signal to Stahrfleet that the Gre'thor awaits battle and that the Klingons await Sto-Vo-Kor!"

*******************************
USS Portland
Bridge

Alenis let out a smile at the Klingon chants. She, for one, was glad to have them on their side rather than up against their bat'leths. "What is the status of the dark energy reactor?" she asked, to confirm that their stealth systems were active.

==/\== "Captain, the Dark Energy Reactor is at full power and is stable. We can begin the overload on your order,"==/\== came the voice of the Portland's Chief Engineer. Sera gave a nervous glance towards Nikki Barclay. The two of them would be in charge of the Dark Energy Reactor while Ronald and Ensign V'arek handled the regular engineering needs of the Portland.

"Very good," said Alenis. "Helm, set course for NGC-3814"

"Course plotted and laid in, Captain," Kahnr said, prompt in the response but lazy in his delivery. He was calm on the outside, nervous on the inside, and that of course made it nearly impossible for him to add a quip. "Our in-flight holo-vid today will be Captain Proton and the Saucer of the Snake People."

*******************************

Flanked by two drones who were tending to her implants, Locasta stared up at a viewscreen in her central plexus. The Federation, one of the most stubborn groups of individuals that the Borg had encountered, was preparing to resist.

But resistance is futile.

A hint of a smile appeared on her face as she looked over the task force which had been assembled to destroy her. Their forces were no match for the Borg. Soon, they would be a part of her collective. And she would show them true perfection.
Capt. Alenis Meru
Commanding Officer
USS Portland

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Alenis Meru
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Re: Mission Six: "Unto the Breach, Part II"

Fri Jan 15, 2016 10:29 pm

Welcome Back, Chief!
Main Engineering, USS Portland
Before the battle
Authors: Lieutenant (JG) Sera Williams, Ensign Ronald Roberts, Ensign Nikki Barclay (played by Alenis Meru), Petty Officer Ferguson (played by Jason Beauvoir)


Inside Main Engineering, Nikki was frantically running around, making sure everything was perfect. But she wasn't adjusting plasma relays or rerouting EPS conduits. No, she was doing something much more critical and much more important.

Balanced precariously on a railing, she was decorating the warp core. Specifically, she was trying to wrap it with streamers that read "Welcome back, Chief!" on them. This was going to be Sera's first day back on duty after the incident with the dark energy reactor, and Nikki wanted to make sure that she was going to feel welcome. So, she had gotten up early and replicated some streamers, balloons, and various party decorations and had spent three hours on the midnight shift doing decorating.

As she reached over to stick the streamer to the warp core, she heard the whoosh of the main entrance open. She gasped, hoping that it wasn't Sera. But as she turned to see who it was, she slipped and lost her balance, falling backwards onto the floor of main engineering. Quickly getting up, she dusted herself off and looked over at the new entrant.

"Ronald?" she asked, holding up one end of the streamer. "Can you help me decorate the warp core?"

“Welcome back, Chief,” the de facto Chief Engineer read aloud quietly. Was this finally it? Would he be the assistant once more? It was almost sad. Like handing a child, the Portland, back over to its mother. But Ron wasn't one for kids so it wasn't that sad at all, really.

“Gladly,” he then replied excitedly to the request. “But you gotta tell me now: Will there be drinks? Will there be any Warp Core Breeches?”

"Warp core breech the disaster, or Warp Core Breech the cocktail?" asked Nikki as she climbed back up onto the warp core to put up the streamers. "Oh, good idea!" she exclaimed. "Lets replicate a tray of warp core breeches before she comes in. The cocktail, of course. And with synthale."

Ron had of course meant the latter choice, but it still wouldn't have hurt for Nikki to answer for the former as well. She seemed like the kind of person that could trigger a warp core breech with just one misplaced swing of the arm. Maybe he did mean the actual disaster?

“Great idea, Nikki!” It kind of wasn't. At least not for Ron. He certainly preferred actual alcohol and all that was implied, but for everyone else the idea was probably a good one. “I'd hate to get our dual engineering teams fired up on real liquor. Then we'd have to worry about an actual breech! So, what can I do to help?”

Ferguson entered Engineering his arms laden with food. "I brought some grub, I hope everyone likes haggis and Stobhach Gaelach." He said.

"Some what?" replied Nikki, jumping down from the railing to examine Ferguson's food. "Put it over on the pool table," she added, referring to the large diagnostic table in the main office area of engineering. She glanced at her chronometer. "And hurry up, the chief could be back any second!"

“Just don't get any of it in the computers,” Ron commanded with a tone of concern in his voice. It had already become clear what he would be charged with doing: coordinating. “Alright, well if we're going to have goods and goodies strewn about I suggest we keep it all confined to one area,” he began as he became deep in thought. A few seconds later and he came to a somewhat inconvenient conclusion. “Right there on the pool table,” he admitted with a sigh. “But again, please don't spill anything. I don't think Sera would want to be cleaning up her department the day she recovers from a crisis in the department!”

As Ferguson placed his food onto the pool table and Nikki hurried around making sure the decorations were just right, she heard a beep coming from her comm badge. She had rigged it up to the proximitiy sensors on the door to give her a few seconds warning for when someone was heading towards engineering. "Everyone, hide, quick!" she called out, before taking one last look around. "Computer, cut the lights in engineering," she called out before quickly jumping behind a console.

Sera had been away for too long. She was nervous, almost as though she was about to report for duty on her first day out of the Academy. She stopped for a moment just outside the range for the door to Main Engineering to pick up her intention to enter and open. She caught her reflection on one of the hall's display screens. Sera smoothed out her uniform and attempted to make sure her hair was pulled back in a better ponytail. Giving a sigh, the Chief Engineer walked toward the door.

Instead of revealing a bright room full of activity, she discovered a dark and empty place. The Warp Core gave it's warm blue glow as the plasma made its way around the chamber. "Well, that's unexpected," muttered Sera to herself and to the empty department. She tapped her comm badge and said, "Ensigns Barclay and Roberts, where is my department?"

"Surprise!" shouted the engineering crew as they came out of hiding and turned the lights back up.

Nikki came running towards Sera. "Sera!" she exclaimed, "I'm so happy your back! I arranged for some snacks, and decorated the warp core... I hope you like it..."

Sera shook off the sudden illumination of Engineering and gave Nikki a surprised smile. Normally, she would have yelled at Nikki for making such a big deal about her returning, but due to the circumstances Sera made an exception. She gave her friend a huge hug and whispered, "Thanks for this, I really needed a pick-me-up."

Stepping back from her friend, the Chief looked around to everyone who was gathered, "I want to thank all of you for the visits, the cards, and for keeping the ship together until I got back." While looking around, Sera spotted Ronald, then said, "I also would like to thank Ensign Roberts for the job he did while I was gone. The alterations to the ship seem to have been installed correctly and look good." Clearing her throat to force a segway into a new topic, Sera continued, "So... um, who else wants cake?"

“Me!” It was somewhat of a thrill for Ron to hear his superior was ready to take over. He was qualified, but doing it without the help of someone more experienced definitely had made it more difficult for him. He'd have to thank Sera later for the praise, but for now he just wanted to dig in to some celebratory baked goods. “I'll grab the laser cutter!”
Capt. Alenis Meru
Commanding Officer
USS Portland

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Re: Mission Six: "Unto the Breach, Part II"

Sat Jan 16, 2016 3:23 am

Where: Holodeck One, USS Portland
Who: Lt. JG Marcus Kallan, Chief Rocha (via Jason Beauvoir), LT Arthur Couer-Reynolds, ENS Malbi, LT CMDR Tyrlai Zade, LT Rebekkah McKinnon
When: After the briefing, before the attack

"Computer, create a standard computer lab capable of cyptographic analysis, compatible with both the USS Portland and USS Endeavour's main computer. Link the simulation to both systems via subspace high-bandwidth holographic channel." Where Marcus stood, a computer lab shimmered into existence; not quite state-of-the-art, but on par with what both ship's main computers could both provide. "And patch in Chief Rocha aboard the Endeavour."

“Good day, Lieutenant, Lieutenant Beauvoir informed me that you may have need of help." Chief Rocha said.

"Thanks for helping, Chief," Marcus said, turning to face the holographic representation of Rocha. "So, here's our task at hand. The Borg vinculum broadcasts on very specific subspace frequencies, but their communications are often scrambled. What we need to come up with is a set of algorithms that will allow us to engage in electronic attacks against the Borg during the upcoming smash-and-grab." He smirked. "I hear you're a hotshot at cryptography. You up to the challenge?"

"Now that is a challenge, Sir. And although I wouldn't call myself a hotshot, I believe it is within my capabilities." Rocha replied. "How are we planning to get these algorithms into the vinculum?"

"Unless I'm mistaken, we may need a cortical implant from a drone." Arthur had volunteered to help Marcus prepare this particularly crucial element of the mission, seeing as it would play an important part in making Tactical succeed in its own role. Prior to the rendezvous at holodeck one, he took the time to do some research on Borg technology. There was a lot to sift through, but he felt he'd learned enough of the basics to get him started. "Can we replicate one or does it need to be removed from an actual body?"

Marcus said, tying both officers’ ideas together, "The goal is to somehow acquire Locasta and keep her alive and functional long enough to use Borg command pathways to assist with the attack. So while we won't be inserting anything into their vinculum, we will be using these algorithms as attack vectors to bypass Borg security. It's been done before, but unfortunately we don't have a Soong-type android available, so..." He spread his hands, indicating the holographic lab.

"I have cortical implant simulation data downloading from Daystrom right now, and should be processed and categorized by tomorrow," Marcus said, glad he still had lines of contact open with his previous assignment. "But for now, we need to figure out how to get the simultaneously outdated and uprated computer cores of a Miranda and a Nebula to work in tandem over holo-link, while at the same time deciphering the encoding used by this unimatrix."

Malbi had been sitting and listening intently up to this point, where she spoke up, "I could assist with that. Deciphering the code, or coordinating the ships' link. Hacking the Borg unimatrix would be a challenging task, but I - well, we - could handle it." She was nervous to speak up, especially around a group of people she'd only been working with for a short time, not to mention they all outranked her. She almost wished she could take the words back, but she stood her ground and added, "If that's alright with you, of course," with a nod to her chief and the holographic chief from the other ship.

“I’d be glad for your help, Ensign.” Rocha said with a smile. “As for processing power, perhaps we could use the dataprocessors from some of the Endeavour’s shuttles to pick up the slack.”

"Oy!" Bekka McKinnon stalked through the whooshing doors of the Holodeck. "Who is messing with my computers,... oh, you." She came to a stop glaring at Marcus Kallan and brushing back a combination of misbehaving blonde hair and mild rage. "I'm sorry, this is my fault. At some point I must have said please avail yourself of my personnel and resources without letting me know about it. I'm sure what I meant to say was, 'get the hell out of my office', or something along those lines. They should have taught me to communicate better when I was in school for my linguistics and communication degree."

Tyrlai, having followed the stormy blonde girl in, after spotting her in the hallway. "Bekka, how are you?" She interrupted, attempting to help smooth things over in a minimalist kind of way. "Don't mind Marcus here, we let him move into the holodeck a couple months back and Alenis had to give him a job once I brought her back from that death thing."

Rocha watched as the new people entered the conversation, he was unaware of what they were referring to.

Crossing his arms, Marcus smirked defiantly back at Tyrlai. "Someone around here has to do more complicated math than 1 + 1," he quipped. "Sorry, Lieutenant - McKinnon, yes? - the Chief seemed to fit the bill, and since we're all working towards the same goals on this project, I felt the usual paperwork to be unnecessary. Unless you'd rather I fill out a requisition form in triplicate?"

"Computer, locate Marcus Kallan and repeat this message to him in exactly twelve seconds. Paperwork is quite unnecessary, however the courtesy of a message before you divert resources would be appreciated."

The was a soft chime and the ships computer spoke. "Message relay for Lieutenant Kallan: Paperwork is quite unnecessary, however the courtesy of a message before you divert resources would be appreciated."

Holding out his hands, palms forward, Marcus acquiesced. "Okay, okay, I get your point. Let's just deal with it after we blow up the Borg, shall we?" Looking to Tyrlai, he said, "You're the ranking officer. If you want to drive, then be my guest. But I'd wager that I have more Borg knowledge than your half-dozen lifetimes do. Also, it means filing status reports with Washington, and I know how much you love him."

"Closer to two dozen." Tyrlai smirked defiantly back. "But otherwise you are right, I have never met the Borg before in any of them, or this Washington character you speak of. So your show, Marcus, no interference from me."

When everything had been worked out between Lieutenant Kallan and the new arrivals, Rocha said "Sir, ma'ams, perhaps we can get back to the topic at hand?"

"Right." Marcus exhaled. "Let's get to work."
Marcus Kallan
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USS Portland

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Re: Mission Six: "Unto the Breach, Part II"

Sat Jan 16, 2016 3:26 am

Where: Holocommunication between the Portland's and Endeavour's Sickbays
When: After the briefing
Who: Lt. JG Marcus Kallan, Dr. Brad Silverton, Dr. Vanth

Doctor Vanth stayed behind after the meeting, s/he stood. "Computer, link up with the U.S.S. Portland's sickbay simulation, and activate program, projecting my image into their sickbay." Amiri wasn't sure what to expect nor what s/he'd see. Though s/he anticipated s/he'd be projected into the other ship's sickbay, and perhaps they'd even be looking over a simulation of hir former alpha.

The Doctor waited for the computers to make the connections.

Lt. JG Marcus Kallan, the Portland's chief of operations, arrived in Sickbay after the meeting concluded; physically located on the Portland, of course, it took time for the relevant Portland crew to assemble there. A lanky human male, somewhat on the pale side, he peered around SIckbay looking as if he were expecting someone or something. But once he noticed Vanth's holographic projection, he straightened his uniform and approached. "Dr. Vanth, I presume. Lieutenant Kallan."

Brad walked out of his office and came over to the others. "Sorry I'm late. I had to finish integrating the latest research theories that Starfleet Medical has on the Borg."
He nodded at Marcus. "Lieutenant."
Brad then turned to Vanth.

"Doctor Vanth, this is Dr. Brad Silverton, your counterpart aboard the Portland," Marcus said by way of introduction. "And without going into too many unsavory details, he's the reason why I'm stationed here. My bestest pal."

"Yes we are good pals. Ones that understand how the other always performs their duties to take care of their patient's best interest." Brad responded with the same tone as Marcus did. "At any rate lets begin. Computer. Pull up Silverton-Borg Simulation 1."

In the center of the holodeck beside Marcus, Brad, and the projection of Vanth, a female Bog drone materialized. Brad began discussing his preliminary plans.

"We won't know the specifics of any special enhancements that the Borg might have given Locasta over a regular drone so we'll have to proceed with what we do know. Starfleet medical has made some interesting advances in combating the Borg assimilation process. Its not quite finished or field tested but it is at least something to start with."

Marcus regarded the holo-Locasta. "If we're successful at gaining access to her command pathways, we'll have a full list of her implants. But that's the cyber aspect of our mission, so I won't bore you with egghead stuff," he said. Looking to Vanth, Marcus asked, "What's your experience with cybernetics, Doctor, if I may ask?"

"I must admit it's not my specialty," admitted Vanth. "I suspect I'll be mostly trying to keep the captain alive as her body rejects the impants."

"Okay, we're gonna need plenty of that," Marcus agreed. "Really, what it comes down to is that we must push Locasta to the very edge and keep her fully functional up until the destruction of the unimatrix. Before then, if the Borg think she is a liability, they will terminate her and fry her implants. And it's up to us to come up with the means to keep her human self alive, her implants humming, and her neural pathways open."

Marcus sighed. Might as well broach the unpleasantness now. "I'm going to say this now, because I'm sure it's unpopular but it needs to be said anyway -- as per Admiral Washington, restoring Captain Banninga is a secondary objective. Our primary objective is to use her command pathways to give the fleet an edge in dealing with the Borg. I understand that I'm up against two Hippocratic Oaths, but that's the task at hand."

Brad nodded along with what Marcus said. "Agreed. As much as I will want to save the Captain at any cost... we have to keep in mind that the cost could be the entire quadrant."

Vanth's tail wagged in frustration. "We're doctors. You do what you have to do, but we're going to try to save her."

"Hopefully if what I have in mind works, it won't come to her death." Brad tapped away at a console to advance his simulation. The Locasta simulation zoomed in to nearly microscopic proportions of her shoulder. Several Borg nanites were floating through her blood vessels.
"Gentlemen. I think the expression is 'turn about is fair play'? We can inject the Captain with modified Borg nanites that Starfleet Medical has been working on. Essentially they will target the true Borg nanites and reprogram them. They'll be flipped to work for us instead of the Borg as a sort of Borg Vaccine only attacking Borg implants and undoing the damage caused. They'll then leave the human parts of the Captain alone and once no more Borg nanites are detected they will deactivate. Then its a simple surgical process of removing the implants."

"What's the catch?" Marcus asked; he knew about the experimental nanoprobes, but it hadn't been the focus of his studies at Daystrom.

"Well there are two problems. One, this is all theoretical and untested. Its a sound theory, but still untested. The second problem is the bigger one. This Borg Vaccine process is intended for low level drones. The Borg will detect something is amiss and could kill her or block her authority as a Borg queen. Its hard to say."

"A possible solution," Marcus offered, rolling his shoulders as he considered. "Low-level command pathways could grant access to drone identity. We could try to confuse the Borg collective consciousness by spoofing her identity throughout the network so they lose focus."

"Interesting." Brad spoke softly while thinking. "Make the Borg lose track of who and where she is? I like the idea but how would that be possible? Wouldn't that be distracting the entire collective?" Brad wasn't fully convinced just yet.

"Doesn't that work to our advantage?" Marcus asked. "The more resources they spend regrouping and trying to find their 'true queen', the less quick they will adapt to task force tactics and other intervention. This is the Achilles' Heel of the Borg's use of the 'Queen' paradigm: It is a weakness introduced to better-interface with the assimilation of humanity."

"If we brought down the full attention of the entire collective it wouldn't take them long to analyze and figure out who is the real Locasta if it is just spoofying her identity onto drones.... unless its more then just her identity. Marcus, what if we also gave out fake commands contradicting one another from the various drones we spoof her identity on? Buy us some more time to let our our little borg vaccine to do its work. And to give the task force more time?"

Nodding, Marcus folded his hands behind his back. "Yes, I think this is going to work."

"I think it will," replied Vanth, his tail wagging in excitement. "I just hope we can save Kate as well in the process."
Marcus Kallan
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USS Portland

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Re: Mission Six: "Unto the Breach, Part II"

Sat Jan 16, 2016 1:04 pm

Who: LT JG Marcus Kallan and ENS Nikki Barclay
Where: Holodeck, USS Portland
When: Before the attack

(continued)

"...and my uncle Reg, when he worked on the Pathfinder project, he used something like this to help him develop and refine his ideas. It really helped him focus his brilliance. Oh, the pathfinder project. Did I tell you about that? My uncle Reg was the first person to open communication with Voyager, tens of thousands of light-years away. He is just so brilliant! Anyways, I think this program will really help you with your work, and..."

Dragging Marcus by the hand through the corridors, Nikki came to a halt just outside holodeck two, which was fortunately not in use. "Computer," she called out, "Activate program Barclay Tango Four."

Nikki took a deep breath and straightened her uniform. "After you," she said, motioning for Marcus to enter.

Marcus looked briefly dubious. But, having heavily relied on advancements in holo-matrix technology since the start of his career, he knew the sometimes-unpredictable nature of holo-programs often allowed for strokes of insight. "All right." And he entered.

"The mess?" He asked Nikki, somewhat incredulously.

The second Nikki stepped through the holodeck doors, she was a totally different person. Cool, calm, and collected, she knew how to work a room, so long as the room was filled with holograms. "Good evening, everyone," she said, sauntering in.

"Nikki!" exclaimed what seemed like half the mess hall, all excited to see her, seemingly competing for the attention of their favourite friend and coworker.

"Ensign Barclay," called out the holographic Tim at a table with a few other senior officers as Nikki strolled by, with Marcus in tow. "We missed you at the poker game last night."

"Sorry, Tim," replied Nikki with a smirk, "but it just doesn't feel right taking all your money now that you're an expectant father. Too much like taking candy from a baby."

"She's got you there," joked Jason, the only one at the table not keeled over laughing at Nikki's little joke, as he gave Tim a gentle tap on the shoulder. "Listen, Nikki, some of us were planning on going white-water rafting on the holodeck a little later, and we've got room for one more."

Nikki sighed. "Oh, that's too bad. I already promised Dr. Silverton that I would be at the rehearsal for his play later today. We can't have Pinafore without Josephine," she said, trailing off.

"Oh, you accepted the role!" exclaimed Tolaran, clearly excited. "I must say, I'm looking forward to our big kiss..."

"Awwwww, Tolaran," replied Nikki, blushing slightly at the comment but clearly revelling in the attention. It was at that moment, however, that she was interrupted by a loud bird-call. Buzzing dangerously close to Marcus' head, Ko-ko perched herself on Nikki's shoulder and began nuzzling herself against Nikki's head affectionately. "Aww, Ko-ko, how are you?" she asked.

"She's fine," replied the holographic Captain, her stride quickening as she walked towards Nikki. "Ensign, I've been hearing a lot of good things about you from Lieutenant Williams. Keep it up and a promotion might be in the works."

"Really?!"

The holographic captain smiled. "Well, nothing is official until it's official. But you might say a little birdie told me that you're being seriously considered. Keep it on the down-low though."

"What promotion?" asked Nikki, rhetorically, winking at Alenis.

"Exactly." The holographic Captain Alenis looked over at Marcus and tilted her head. "Who's your friend, Nikki?"

"Oh, this is..." Nikki froze for a second, remembering that she was the only one who would recognize Marcus. Her holographic crew members all had their own holographic Marcus that they all knew and, if not loved, barely tolerated. "This is my friend Mark. He's from the Daystrom institute."

"Pleasure to meet you, Mark," said the captain, extending her hand. "Any friend of Ensign Nikki Barclay is good in my books."

"Charmed," Marcus -- or 'Mark' -- replied. "Would you excuse us?" He took Nikki by the elbow back a few steps as to talk with her in hushed tones -- not that he was worried about offending a group of holograms, but it seemed the social thing to do. "What the heck, Nikki? I was expecting some sort of lab simulation or recorded cybernetics conference. This is... I don't know what this is."

"They help me with my work," protested Nikki, as she pulled her arm out of Marcus' grasp. "Look, Marcus," she explained, her voice trembling slightly at Marcus' harsh tone, "sometimes I find that when I'm stuck working on something, having people there to bounce ideas off of can help improve my productivity. And since holograms are easier to get along with sometimes, and are available whenever I need them, I created a little program in the holodeck to help with that." She looked down at her feet, her right foot pivoting around the ball of her foot anxiously. "I just thought it might help you with your work..." she added, trailing off.

Marcus sighed. He softened the edge that he was previously speaking with. "Look, holograms are designed by the computer to be exactly what you want them to be. Or, in this case, need them to be. I don't like people, and I especially wouldn't like sickly-sweet versions of the same people." He looked back towards the holographic representations of the crew. "But, I guess I can't say this is completely weird. I've talked problems through with holographic versions of specialists before. Just... not real people that I would meet in the real world."

"Okay, well, let's try it," replied Nikki. She turned and looked towards the gathered senior officers of the Portland before her. "Hey folks, me and Mark need your help with something..."

"Oh?" asked Alenis. "Well, I was going to go to the holodeck, but I suppose we could get the gang together... what's your problem."

"Well..." started Nikki, before trailing off

Marcus sighed again. "I'm doing some cryptoanalysis of Borg communication channels, specifically with those that deal with command pathways. I'm researching ways to covertly insert and intercept transmissions in the Borg vinculum, except that I can't quite get the algorithms fast enough. Simulations have been inconclusive." He glanced at Nikki for confirmation at the level of detail he was supplying.

"Hmmmmm, it sounds like this would be right up Protein Cube's alley," replied the holographic Alenis. She pressed her comm badge. "Captain to Protein Cube..."

While the holographic captain tried to contact her chief of ops, Nikki froze. Her neck muscles tightened up and her hands started shaking. A loud, high-pitched squeal emitted from her mouth, as the realization that Marcus would be meeting his holographic self sent her hurtling towards another meltdown.

"Here I am!" Came the jocular response of a character already on the set. A blockish caricature of Marcus came bounding into the mess hall. Looking a cross between a 16-bit animation of Marcus himself crossed with bumps of pastel greens and blues common to textured protein supplements, faux-Marcus bounded over to the holographic Alenis. "How can I help, Captain? You know, I'm **always** eager to help!"

The real Marcus folded his arms across his chest and scowled. He said nothing. Strangely enough, he continued to watch the interaction.

"I... ummmmm... errrrr..." shaking, Nikki stammered out a random jumble of words. "Borg... neural transmitters... protein cubes... creative liberties... holodeck... Queen..." Taking more than a few deep breaths before continuing, she was able to form a semi-coherent sentence. "Mark," she said, motioning towards the real Marcus, "friend needs help. With Borg stuff. To save the galaxy."

"But of *course*!" Protein Cube bounded over, thrusting his hand out in an exaggerated way to be shook by Marcus. "Anything I can do to help a friend of Nikki's!" Stage-whispering to Nikki, Protein Cube said, "And he's kind of cute, too!"

"Computer," Marcus said, already turning to leave, leaving Protein Cube hanging to his dismay. "End program."

As her fantasy world disappeared around her, Nikki returned to her old self. "I'm sorry!" she exclaimed, grabbing Marcus by the hand and preventing him from leaving. "I made this program a long time ago... before I got to know you... I know I probably shouldn't have downloaded so many personnel files... I just needed something to help me focus... and someone to bounce ideas off of... people are so scary... please... I'm so sorry..."

Marcus didn't pull his hand away, although it was stiff in Nikki's hand, the touch sending an uncomfortable sensation up his arm and through his spine. His own anxiety was welling up, but his means of dealing with it wasn't Nikki's way. He dealt with it his way. "You know what's funny?" He said, not facing Nikki, still looking at the exit doors. "The reason why the Borg hate us so much? Because we're so bloody inferior, and yet we've managed to stymie them time and time again. We are fraught with useless emotions and dalliances that distract us from being productive and purposeful. And somehow, they still lose to us." He was starting to shake. "Maybe we won't win. Maybe we shouldn't win."

Nikki moved in closer and placed another hand on Marcus' shoulder. "I don't think we're inferior," she said quietly. She too had been fascinated by the Borg, both because of her difficulties interacting with other people and because of the tales of Uncle Reg. "Those 'useless emotions and dalliances' are our strength. They give us the drive to explore, to invent, to create. If not for those, we wouldn't have journeyed to the stars, not to mention all the glorious cultural achievements we've produced. Not to mention the fact that in every engagement we've had with the Borg, it was our creative abilities -- abilities which the Borg lack -- which turned the tide in our favour. The Borg don't think, they just assimilate knowledge. And if we were so inferior, they wouldn't bother sending cubes halfway across the galaxy to assimilate us."

"Besides, even an uptight protein-cube eating conformist enjoys a dalliance or two from time to time, right?" asked Nikki, leaning in closer.

Exhaling a hmph, Marcus peered down at Nikki. He didn't know whether to continue to be angry or not. But the closeness began to disarm him. "Resistance is futile, huh?" He said, turning to face her, trying not to smirk. It was pretty funny, in retrospect. "You're a jerk, by the way."

"And you're the biggest punctilious doofus I've ever met," replied Nikki, leaning forward and kissing Marcus on the cheek. "...Mr. Protein Cube."
Marcus Kallan
Chief Operations Officer
USS Portland

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Alenis Meru
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Re: Mission Six: "Unto the Breach, Part II"

Sun Jan 17, 2016 9:09 pm

(Backpost) Goodbyes...
Docking Port, Starbase 375
Shortly before the departure of the Endeavour
Authors: Lt. Cmdr. Eahar R'Soll


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Starbase 375, Docking Port 5

“Daddy, please, I don’t want to go,” protested Korra M’Ress. The thirteen year old Caitian had only recently moved onto the Endeavour a few months prior. The main reason Eahar had took the assignment on the Endeavour was because it was a ship with accommodations for officers with families, and he could finally be with his wife and daughter. After a rough start, Korra had finally started to make friends on the Endeavour, when now she was being told that she would be staying on Starbase 375 for a couple weeks, away from her father.

“You can’t stay on the Endeavour, Korra,” replied Eahar, looking down at his daughter. “We’re fighting the Borg; it’s too dangerous.”

Korra stamped her feet. “Urgh, you’re always saying it’s too dangerous!” she shouted.

Eahar was taken aback. He glanced over at his wife and then back towards his daughter. “Korra, what’s gotten into you? Is everything all right?”

It was at that moment that tears began to appear in Korra’s eyes. She darted forward, wrapping her arms around her father. “Daddy,” she cried, “I don’t want you to go.”

So this was what it was all about. Korra was worried about him. Eahar placed his hands on Korra’s shoulders and gently comforted her. “I have to, Korra, it’s my duty.”

“But what about us?” she cried. “It’s always about your duty to Starfleet; that’s why you’re never around. And finally we can be together as a family again, and now you’re running off to fight the Borg.”

Eahar kneeled down to eye level with Korra and placed his hand on her shoulder. “Korra,” he said, quietly, “it is because I care for you that I have to do this. If the Borg gain a foothole in the Alpha Quadrant, you and your mother will never be safe. And the crew of the Endeavour are some of the most talented officers I’ve had the privilege of serving with; I trust them to keep us safe.”

Wiping a tear from her eye, Korra gave Eahar a big hug. “I love you dad,” she said, “please, try to come home.”

“I will,” replied Eahar, hugging Korra back and savouring what could be his last moment with his daughter.

“Sir, we’re leaving in two minutes,” called out a young petty officer on the other side of the docking port. “You better come aboard.”

Eahar sighed. It was never long enough for a proper goodbye. “Okay, Korra, run along now,” he said, standing up and handing her some Starfleet credits. “Go order some lunch for you and your mother, and get a jumja stick for yourself.”

Taking the Starfleet credits, Korra hugged her father one last time before running off.

“Eahar…” started Niwara, a tear beginning to form in the corner of her eye.

“Shhhhhh…” said Eahar, “we’ve said all that needs to be said.” With that, he wrapped his arms around his wife and kissed her goodbye, hoping it wouldn’t be their last.
Capt. Alenis Meru
Commanding Officer
USS Portland

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