Captain’s Log. The Sentinel has finished a three month deep space mission charting anomalies in the Delta Volanis Cluster and we are now en route to Earth, the nearest starbase, for some much needed R and R, restocking ship supplies and carry out routine maintenance.
Stunshock moved across his quarters, carrying a small plant pot, crossing to a small window box he had set up behind a long couch. Placing a clawed hand over the top of the pot, he tipped it upside down to slide the small plant and its soil out, carefully holding it over a hole in the window box and sliding it into the soil in one fluid motion. Setting the pot down, he carefully brushed a small mound of soil into the hole, letting the plant connect to its new home, telling it that it was now safe to start spreading its roots out and explore this new place it was in. Standing back, he clasped his hands behind his back as he judged the new arrangement.
“Definitely a wise choice from the Hydroponics Bay.”
Although his old life as a farmer didn’t have much use in this technological world he found himself in, he still enjoyed tending to this small garden. It helped to make him feel connected to the natural world, and to his roots, if you pardon the pun. The rest of the quarters were likewise decorated with plants and treasures from home. Painted pictures of the landscape overlooking his old family home was hanging on one of the walls, and some pictures of a young in appearance Vulcan female, some photos with Stunshock in, some without, were dotted around the quarters. These quarters had become his home, and he did enjoy retiring here after a hard day’s work. He picked up the pot and made his way to the bathroom, rinsing the soil out. He tapped the base of it to dislodge some clumps when the comm. went off.
It was Xui Li, the ship’s Operations Officer.
“Forgive the intrusion Sir, but there is an incoming message from Admiral Quinn.”
“Patch it through down here.”
Stunshock put the pot to the side and turned the tap off. As he picked up a towel, he walked back out into the main area, scrubbing his hands dry. Spinning the desk monitor around, he tapped the acknowledge button. Admiral Quinn appeared on the screen.
“Captain Stunshock. I hope I’m not disturbing you.”
“Not at all Admiral. I was just doing a spot of gardening.”
“Good. Because I have a small assignment for you. It’s the anniversary of the Battle of Wolf 359. Every year, a group of mourners head out to that system to pay their respects. This year, they were on the U.S.S. Kadomo, under the command of Captain Dirgon. We have lost contact with them.”
“And since we will be passing near that system, you want us to check it out?”
“It makes more sense than getting one of the ships here manned and dispatched. I knew you would understand Captain.”
“Is there anything I should be aware of?”
“Not that we know. It could be something as simple as a broken communication array, but I feel better having someone check it out.”
“We’ll alter course now Sir.”
“Good. Report back when you have something. Quinn out.”
The Admiral disappeared from the screen. Stunshock tapped his communicator.
“Captain Stunshock to the Bridge. Alter course to the Wolf 359 system.”
“Yes Sir. At present speed, we should arrive at 09:12 tomorrow morning.”
“Very good. Have the senior officers report to the Meeting Room at 08:30. Stunshock out.”
Captain’s log. The Sentinel has entered the Wolf 359 system. The ships that were lost so long ago still remain here, a grim monument to one of the worst incidents in Federation history. I can only pray to Freyda that the Kadomo is suffering from nothing more than a broken communication array, and there is not another ship of corpses to be added to the graveyard.
Stunshock sat in his command chair, leaning to one side and stroking his beard as he often did when deep in thought. On the viewscreen were the wrecks from that battle.
“Emony. Any sign of the Kadomo?”
“Sensors are picking up the ship near the wrecks. Her power grid appears to be fluctuating wildly.”
“Any ideas why?”
Emony shook her head.
“No sir. We would need to get closer.”
“Very well. Jenna, take us in to transporter range. Roderick, try to hail them.”
As the young ensign piloted the ship in, Roderick worked his Tactical console.
“Not getting any response.”
“It would seem we have a mystery on our hands. Talaina. I want you to take an Away Team over and find out what you can.”
“I’m picking up multiple Starfleet vessels on an intercept course. I’m also detecting a Borg Cube en route.”
“RED ALERT! All hands, Borg Protocol.”
Having issued the commands, Talaina immediately set about getting the ship ready for a Borg fight. Phasers were retrieved from the armoury and set to a random rotating modulation, the ship’s shields and phasers started remodulating themselves automatically. It always pleased Stunshock to see his crew so efficient and able to cope with sudden changes in situations like this without him having to micro manage them. He spun around to Roderick who let out a confused noise that Stunshock really couldn’t begin to describe.
“What is it?”
“It’s the Saratoga. Venture. Tolstoy. Sir, the transponders of those ships are all the same as those lost in the Wolf 359 battle.”
“Have we gone back in time?”
Xui Li checked her instruments.
“Negative sir. Constellation position matches with what we should be. And we are receiving the correct stardate from transmissions from Earth.”
“Then have they come forward?”
Emony spoke up.
“It’s possible. But the wrecks are still out there. It’s almost like they’ve been duplicated.”
“The ships are entering the system. What are your orders Sir?”
Talaina spun around to Stunshock.
“If they have somehow come forward, we could save those ships. Those 11,000 people need not die in vain.”
“Are you serious?”
Emony practically leapt out of her chair, grasping the hand rail near the command chair.
“If that is the real battle, we can’t intervene! The changes to the timeline would be catastrophic!”
“And if we don’t interfere, we’ll be reduced to sitting back and watching thousands of people die. I can’t accept that. Not when we have the superior technology, the advanced tactics and the ability to turn the tide.”
“And if you destroy that Borg cube, you’ll be killing Captain Picard. That act alone would cause untold damage. The initial peace negotiations with the Romulans wouldn’t happen. The Klingon Civil War would end in the favour of Duras. The next Borg attack in 2373 would succeed. And that’s just what I can remember off the top of my head!”
“Other people will fill those voids. Perhaps even someone on one of those ships. There are women and children on those vessels! We have a duty as Starfleet Officers to protect them if we can!”
“We have a duty as Starfleet Officers not to screw up the timeline!”
Stunshock raised his hand to silence any more discussion.
“I’m inclined to agree with Emony. Until we know what’s happening, we can’t risk interfering. Jenna, are we in transporter range of the Kadomo?”
“Emony, what are your scans showing?”
Emony returned to her station and scanned the Galaxy class ship.
“No weapons fire on her hull, but her power is fluctuating wildly. There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with her internal systems, the warp core is stable. There are some hull breaches, and I am detecting life signs from numerous races.”
“ Can you determine what caused the hull breaches?”
“Looks like power conduits overloaded in those sections. We need to get over there for a better analysis.”
Emony and Talaina stood and made their way to the Turbolift, the Andorian tapping her commbadge.
“Bosip and Entra to Transporter Room Two.”
The four member away team materialised on the main bridge. A standard Galaxy Class bridge, there were burn marks sweeping across the walls, fires from control panels and exposed conduits gave the bridge a slight haze. The four members spun around, checking the area. There were a couple of people lying on the floor.
“Emony. Bosip. Check the logs, see if they can shed some light. Doctor. Check the people.”
The Betazoid was already at the first one, checking her out. Talaina moved over to one of the walls, inspecting the burn mark. She took out her tricorder and scanned it.
“That’s what I thought. This blast pattern was made with a standard phaser.”
She turned around, looking at the angles of each blast pattern.
“Their trajectory suggests wild firing while moving. But at what?”
Bosip turned from the Engineering console at the back of the bridge.
“It looks like all power was rerouted down to the Battle Bridge. I’ve also found out what caused all this damage. The entire power grid has been altered. And not in a good way. Feedback loops upon polarity shifted couplings, it’s a wonder the entire ship didn’t just blow up. I’ve secured what I can and the danger is over, but I can’t do any more until the lockouts on the Battle Bridge are removed.”
Talaina nodded and moved over to Emony at the Ops console.
“The ship didn’t pass through any dangerous anomalies. There was nothing on sensors. The only thing even remotely out of the ordinary is mention of picking up an artefact from an asteroid a few days ago. It’s down in Science Lab 4 on Deck 16.”
Talaina nodded, then looked to the Doctor.
“Doctor. How are they?”
Luawra gave a hypospray injection to the fourth and final body on the bridge, then sighed and stood up.
“One is dead, one needs urgent medical attention. They all have different injuries. That lieutenant has small puncture wounds around her ankles, consistent with bites from a small animal. Her body is filled with some kind of venom. The Commander over there has a broken neck. The Ensign here has been shot with a phaser. Not lethal, but still enough to warrant medical attention. And the other Ensign over there looks like he was mauled by a large animal.”
Bosip looked up from the Tactical console.
“There’s a message written here that is waiting to be sent. It makes mention of a Borg invasion of the ship, and a warning for Starfleet Command to gather their forces. The message ends with ‘This ship has been boarded. We may not survive.’”
“If the ship was boarded, that could be why controls were locked down into the Battle Bridge.”
“Indeed. But it still doesn’t explain why anyone would screw around with the power grid like that.”
“Answers may lie in the Battle Bridge. Let’s move.”
As Talaina lead her team into the turbolift, she tapped her comm. badge.
“Talaina to Sentinel.”
“Sir, we’ve got some survivors on the bridge. They need medical attention.”
“Understood. Beaming them onboard.”
Casting a quick look back, she saw the bodies vanish in the transporter lights.
“What’s the status over there?”
“There are signs of fighting, and the ship may have been invaded by Borg. The power grid was sabotaged and all main controls are locked into the Battle Bridge. We’re heading down there now.”
“Understood. Stay alert.”
The Away Team entered the Turbolift and took it down to Deck 8. As the doors hissed open, Talaina stepped out cautiously. There was no sign of life down either direction of the corridor. Emony stepped out and looked around.
“Anyone else hear that?”
“I thought I heard someone whispering.”
“I didn’t hear anything.”
Talaina’s antenna curled in anticipation.
“Doctor. Can you sense anything?”
Luawra paused, reaching out with her mind.
“I’m sensing a group of people nearby. Scared. Frightened. I think they’re some of the mourners.”
“We’ll check on them first and get them out of here.”
As Talaina started down the corridor, she asked Emony what the voice said. The Trill shook her head.
“It was hard to hear. But I think it was asking for help.”
“Perhaps a telepath from the crew.”
They paused outside a door, Luawra indicating with her tricorder.
“One lifesign inside.”
Talaina opened the door and stepped inside, scanning the area with her phaser. It was some kind of science lab. A holographic projection was suspended in the middle of the room, and consoles lined the wall showing whatever they had been analysing at the time. Curled into a ball at the far end, hidden behind the projector was an elderly human male in a black suit and tie. Talaina holstered her phaser and moved closer.
“Hello? Are you ok?”
The man didn’t look up, shuddering in fright. Talaina knelt down beside him, but knew better than to touch him.
“We’re here to help.”
“No no no no no no . It can’t be her. Why is she here? She died. Why is she tormenting us?”
“Who? Who are you talking about?”
“A precious Rose, plucked from life, once thought gone has now returned to bring us all into her dark abyss.”
“Listen to me. What. Happened. Here?”
The man looked up, finally seeing Talaina for the first time.
“Rose. My beloved. We were on our way to Archer IV to open an Emu farm. Rose loved animals. She would never turn away from an injured one. We had it all planned out. We would open the farm, tend to the injured and raise our kids there. I was going to ask her to marry me when we arrived. Overlooking the Roshin’s Gap at sunset. It was going to be spectacular. But then the Borg came and I lost her in the battle.”
Luawra knelt down beside Talaina.
“He’s in shock. We should get him back to the Sentinel.”
“NO! Please don’t hurt her.”
Talaina shook her head.
“If she’s already dead, then how can we hurt her?”
“Because she’s here. She walks with the Breen. She commands the Borg. She is with them as they slaughter us all. People escaped, but many didn’t. It was too painful to see her like that. I....”
His voice became no more than a whisper.
“I hid in here to escape.”
“We’ll help her if we can. But we need to get you to the Sentinel and safety.”
Talaina tapped her commbadge, signalling the transport operator to beam him over. As he vanished in a tinkle of lights, she stood up.
“There’s clearly more going on here than a simple attack. We need to find the other mourners, then get this ship operational again.”
Emony stopped listening as the whispering started again. She looked down a corridor, seeing a woman in a black dress at the end.
“Commander. There’s someone down there.”
She looked back to her team, only to discover she was on her own. Where had they gone? They were just here a moment ago, and there was nowhere for them to have gone. She tapped her commbadge, but there was no reply. This left her with a choice. Continue to the Battle Bridge and hope to reunite with them, or go see what that woman was doing. There was obviously one answer that made more sense to do. She set off down the corridor towards the woman. Though still some distance away, she could tell the woman was a human, with fair coloured skin, raven black hair down past her shoulders and in some kind of formal black dress with a fabric red belt and scarf around her upper arms and black sleeves on her forearms. This must be one of the mourners; no member of the crew would dress in such a manner.
There was no reply from the woman. Emony moved a little closer.
“Are you ok?”
The woman made no sound, but she started fading from view. Emony took a step forward, but the woman had gone completely. The deck lights started flickering, causing her to shift her eyes around. This was somewhat unnerving. But strange things happened in space. She turned back, but the way was blocked by a wall.
“That wasn’t there before.”
Curious, she reached out, tentatively applying pressure with her gloved fingers. Solid. Something wanted her to keep moving forward. She flipped open her tricorder and started scanning. The wall didn’t register on any scan, but it was physically there. The light flickering started getting worse.
“Best keep moving.”
Turning, Emony started down the corridor, trying different doors. Most opened onto empty rooms. As she got to one labelled Crew Quarters, she opened the door and gasped at the horrific sight. She quickly pressed the door controls, shutting the door and locking it. She staggered back, bumping into the wall, covering her mouth with a hand to try and contain the shock. What she saw couldn’t be. Not only did it not make sense, but it was her worst fear realised. A fear she hoped never to have to confront. She slowly sank to the ground, fighting back the tears.
Having found the rest of the surviving mourners on this deck huddled in a small observation room/bar, the Away Team had made their way to the Battle Bridge. Talaina entered the Battle Bridge. Emony had disappeared, but Luawra could still sense her presence, so the decision had been taken to unlock the computer first. The room was devoid of damage and crew, save for one. Captain Dirgon sat in the command chair. Talaina approached.
“Captain Dirgon? I’m Commander Kazzur of the U.S.S. Sentinel. We’re here to help.”
Dirgon seemed unable to focus. His head rolled to the side and his eyes were empty of life.
“Doctor, check him.”
Luawra approached him and started scanning.
“I don’t believe this.”
She carefully leant him forward slightly. His back had millions of organic fibres fusing him into the chair.
“I’m reading his DNA extending into the deck plating. It’s as if he and the ship have become one.”
“Is he alive?”
“Yes. But I don’t think we’ll ever be able to separate him from the ship. This change goes down to the molecular level.”
“Bosip. See if you can unlock the computer.”
As the older Andorian moved to one of the consoles and started working, Talaina knelt down and put a hand on Dirgon’s shoulder.
“Captain. We’re here to help. But we need to know what happened to your ship.”
“Deck.... 16. Science lab Four. It all started there. With that artefact.”
As he spoke, he seemed to gradually become better focused. Though he remained limp, his eyes slowly shifted, looking through Talaina.
“My ship..... must protect my ship..... my crew.....”
Luawra put a hand on Talaina’s shoulder.
“He’s in shock. Not surprising considering. I’m going to sedate him.”
As she pressed the hypospray into the human’s neck, he his lolled to the side. Computer consoles started failing before redundant computer systems took over. Talaina moved to where Bosip was.
“We just lost main computer control for a moment but the backups are working. I’ve got access to the ship’s systems and unlocked everything. I’m reading life signs on most decks.”
“What about Deck 16?”
He looked her straight in the eye.
“Numerous Borg lifesigns.”
“Borg? Apparently this all started with an artefact on that deck. We need to get down there.”
“Into the heart of the Borg lifesigns?”
“That’s what Captain Dirgon indicated.”
Bosip sighed and rubbed his palms over his hair.
“All right. But I think this is a bad move.”
The viewscreen suddenly came to life. It showed Locutus standing in the Borg ship. Beside him was the same woman Emony found.
“I am Locutus of Borg. Your existence as you know it is over.”
“Oh hush Locutus. That’s not right.”
The woman smiled warmly at the Away Team.
“Hello. It’s nice to finally be able to talk to you without everyone getting killed and going crazy.”
Talaina stepped forward.
“Who are you?”
“I am the one responsible for this mess. I do apologise, I never meant for anyone to get harmed. Perhaps if you come down to the science lab on Deck 16, we can talk properly.”
“With all of the Borg?”
“Oh don’t worry about them, I’ve got them under control now. I look forward to seeing you.”
The viewscreen flicked off. Talaina turned to Luawra.
“Could you get a read on her?”
“Only that she has a powerful mind. I couldn’t tell if she was lying.”
“Well, we were going to go there anyway. Just be alert in case this is a trap.”
The turbolift opened onto Deck 16. It was instantly clear the Borg were on this deck. Most of the Federation bulkheads had been replaced with Borg equipment and drones walked around the deck, almost aimlessly. Talaina edged out, checking both ways. The drones were ignoring her. She motioned for the others to leave the lift. Bosip scanned some of the drones with his tricorder.
“They’re registering as standard Borg drones. They should ignore us as long as we don’t look threatening.”
Luawra let out a huff.
“Can they stop looking threatening?”
Talaina cut them off.
“The science lab should be this way.”
They slowly made their way through the corridors, standing aside to let the drones past. As they came around a corner, they found Emony. She seemed shaken, but otherwise ok.
“Emony! Are you ok?”
She sniffed a little and nodded to Talaina.
“Yeah. I’m ok. Just...”
She took a deep breath to try and calm her nerves.
“Just a little shaken from what I saw. I’ll be ok.”
“I saw a woman at the end of the corridor. When I looked back to you guys to tell you, you had vanished and the comm. wasn’t working. There are walls that kept moving, guiding me down here.”
“Describe the woman.”
After Emony gave the best description she could, Talaina nodded.
“That’s the same woman we saw on the viewscreen. The one in the science lab. Come on, I think we’re about to get to some answers.”
As Talaina lead them, Luawra moved beside Emony, giving her a friendly elbow nudge and smile.
“You sure you’re ok?”
“Yeah. I’m fine. Just a little rattled. I’ll be ok when we get back to the Sentinel.”
At the entrance of the science lab, a pair of Borg drones stood sentry, their arms raised in a targeting pose. Talaina cautiously approached.
“We were invited here. Let us pass.”
The drones shifted their eyes to look at her, making no other movements. Talaina held her breath, hoping this would work. Each second seemed like hours as the drones seemed to be making their mind up. Her antenna twitched ever so slightly, the only betrayal of just how nervous she was. The drone on the left turned to fully face her.
“You may pass.”
The two drones lowered their arms and stepped aside. Talaina moved into the science lab, the others following. Inside was numerous alien artefacts scattered across tables in various stages of analysis. In the centre of the room was a large stone marker, roughly two metres by two metres. Above this hovered the woman.
“Hello. Welcome. Glad you finally got here.”
“I think it’s time for some answers.”
“Yes. I agree. What would you like to know first?”
“Who are you?”
“This form I am in is called Rose. But I am obviously not her. I am a being from.... I guess you would call it a different dimensional plane. Once we discovered how to open gateways to other dimensions, a volunteer was sent out to each one to try and make contact.”
“And what happened on this ship-“
“Was a most unfortunate accident. It seems when I first tried to make contact, instead of being able to hear me, I was bringing to life the worst fears of the person I tried talking to. It was horrible, seeing such pain and fear when all I wanted to do was say hello.”
“So why are you able to talk to us now?”
“I learnt what I was doing wrong. I’m now able to talk to you without any problems.”
Luawra stepped forward.
“But why Rose?”
“Because when I got here, the pain that man felt for her was the strongest emotional bond I could find on the ship. I tried to talk to him first, and... well.... becoming this form was the result.”
“We need to check in with our ship, but we should be able to look past any misunderstanding. Initiating first contact with a species always carries risks.”
“Oh thank you! Thank you for being so understanding. I hope this is the start of a long and beautiful friendship between our species.”