The Imperial Warbird flew at top speed towards New Romulus. They had only just reached Romulan space after their incursion into the Delta Quadrant when a sector wide alert was detected. A large Elachi fleet was approaching the Republic's homeworld and all ships were to intercept. D'Elon drummed her fingers impatiantly against the armrest. This was a particularly apprehensive time. The Republic had just started setting up their orbital infrastructure and some of her friends were to be stationed up there. But the facilities would be not yet capable of defending themselves. To die in battle was honourable. D'Elon could accept that. But to be turned into one of those Shrooms? That was a fate worse than assimilation. And she had no desire to let her friends suffer that fate. "Time?"
"She'll tear herself apart."
"Then tear her apart!"
D'Elon kept gazing at the viewscreen as her mind wondered back to the days of Romulus. The original Romulus....
The sun shone down on the small colony. Out near the Neutral zone, the cluster of buildings set up a small but adequate settlement. The young girl, barely older than nine years, laughed as she chased her two friends through the streets around the outskirts of town. A couple quickly sidestepped to let the children through. D'Elon saw Tovan slip and she pushed forward, hand outstretched. Her fingers snagged his collar and she forced his head back. "Got you!"
"No fair D'Elon. You got lucky."
"Yeah. But sometimes luck works." She slapped his head and laughed at his frown. "Oh Tovan, you're such a Vulcan."
"I am not!"
"Vulcan Vulcan Vuulcaaan."
"I'll get you for that!"
"Approaching the system."
D'Elon snapped out of her memory. Ta'el reported they were approaching the Mol'Rihan system. "Drop to Impulse, raise shields and power all weapons. Prep the Scorpions for launch and prepare the Drones for boarding actions." As the ship went into full battle mode, Satra turned slightly to glare at D'Elon. "Drones? Commander, we haven't tested them in combat. MS-1 was nothing more than a slaughter. It proved they follow commands, but nothing more. I really think we should consider not using them in this engagement. Not until-"
"ENOUGH! The Elachi have attacked a Romulan colony. As officers in the Empire, we WILL defend our people at all costs." D'Elon shifted her eyes, staring down Satra. The First Officer took the hint and turned back to her console. The ship shook as they entered the fray. The Lleiset was already in the midst of Elachi ships, pounding them with her weapons. A mix of Republic and Imperial ships were darting around, plasma disrupters lancing out in every direction. Most of the Elachi ships were smaller fighters, but there was one large capital ship that looked like it had clamped onto the side of the station. D'Elon knew that had to be the primary target. "Launch Scorpions and target all weapons on that mothership. FIRE!"
The Tomalak raced forwards, firing every weapon in her arsenal. The mothership took the hits directly to its hull and retaliated with a tractor beam. Much more powerful than what they had used before, it grabbed the Tomalak and stopped it dead. Smaller Elachi ships flew up and clamped onto the hull. Ta'el sounded worried as she reported them cutting into the hull. D'Elon ordered the deployment of security teams to each of the areas, only to instinctively duck forwards in her seat as the doors to the Bridge exploded. Weapons fire flooded through the smoke as D'Elon rolled forwards and ducked behind a console. Ta'el let out a shriek as she was hit and went down. D'Elon pulled out her pistol and set the power level to maximum. No one was going to take her crew away from her. They were basically like family now. She wouldn't lose them. Not again. She popped up from the console and started firing at the robots that were invading the Bridge. Typical of those creatures, to send in robots first. The ship started shaking again. Over the comm, reports were coming in of major fighting throughout the ship. Romulans were falling. Brave, loyal Romulans who had no business being turned into Shrooms. They wouldn't hold out, not against these odds. There was but one course of action. D'Elon hit her communicator. "All Drones: Activate. Defend this ship. Destroy all Elachi forces!"
Lolius and Borailis had been forced out of the Engine Room. The Elachi had overpowered them and now they ran for their lives. An explosion tore through the bulkhead in front of them. A howling wind clawed at them, dragging them towards the hull breach before emergency forecefields sprang up to save them. Borailis brushed the hair from her face, panting as her lungs burned from even that small time in a growing vacuum. Lolius grabbed the small Romulan by her shoulders and forced her up to her feet. "Come on! We can't stop!" They ran past the broken wall, Lolius wincing at the starscape visible through the numerous decks below them. The whine of transporters indicated more Elachi transporting in. Instead of robots, these were the Elachi themselves. Obviously the ship had been compromised enough for them to send in the main troops. Crescent cannons chewed up the decking inches behind the Romulan's feet. A lucky shot hit him, tearing his right leg off below the knee. He tumbled to the deck, clutching the stump. Borailis turned as she ran, but Lolius yelled at her to keep moving. He tried to get up, but the Elachi quickly surrounded him. Borailis turned a corner and ran straight into a Borg drone. A middle age looking human male with a gold eyepiece; he looked at her. "Run."
Borailis skirted around the drone and pointed down the corridor. "They've got Lolius!" The Borg didn't react, he simply started running. Bounding around the corner, he instantly achieved target aquisition and raised his arm, shooting rapid blasts of energy with pinpoint accuracy. Before the Elachi knew what had happened, their heads exploded. The Borg ran up to Lolius and performed a medical scan. "You are bleeding out. We will stop the injury." He grabbed Lolius's leg, ignoring the pained yell and injected nanites into the stump. They started cautorising the wound, shutting themselves down as soon as the bleeding stopped.
It all happened too fast for Lolius. All he knew was he had been saved. By a Borg. It was.... extremely strange to put it mildly. Lolius started trying to get to his feet, but the Borg suddenly pushed him onto the deck and lay ontop of him. Crescent blasts splashed across the Borg's back, absorbed by his shield. He raised his head quickly, locking onto the new group of Elachi that had entered the corridor. Keeping Lolius covered, he raised his arm and fired at them.
Satra watched with morbid fascination. D'Elon seemed to have become possessed. Her usual calm demeanor had fallen away completely. Grabbing a shattered robot leg, she ran forwards and jammed the spiked foot into the skull of an Elachi before diving back into cover. Satra shook her head and looked down at Ta'el. The tactical officer was awake, but too badly hurt to move. "Ta'el, hvae you ever known the Commander to fight like a Klingon?"
"No." Ta'el replied meekly. "She's always been a calm, calculating, perfect Romulan. I don't-" She stopped as she abruptly started coughing up blood. A new sound rose over the din. Satra peeked over the top of the console. Borg drones were swarming the Bridge, moving quickly and firing their arm mounted weapons at the Elachi. Most of them dropped dead, but a couple of the invaders fell to the floor and started twitching. With the dust settling, D'Elon emerged from cover and moved straight to Tactical. "Elachi forces have been driven from the ship. But they've boarded the station. Drones. We're beaming over. Destroy anything that isn't Romulan."
"Or Reman!" Satra felt the need to add that part. D'Elon seemed to be going insane. But it was a stressful time. She would have to have words with her after this was over. D'Elon and the Borg vanished in a sparkle of shimmering green light. Satra pushed herself to her feet and moved to Tactical. The ship was in pieces. The Singularity Core was offline. Hull breaches littered the framework. How this ship was still holding together was beyond Satra. A scuffling sound caused her to turn and frown. The Elachi that were twitching were now having spasms. But that wasn't what worried Satra. She moved over for a closer look. The Elachi skin was going pale. The first sign of assimilation. But.... how? The Borg on board were not part of the Collective. They never got close enough to use their nanoprobe needles. All they had done was shoot them. Then the scientist mind came into play. Had the Borg been shooting nanoprobes? Assimilating their targets from across the room? If so, that was an extremely dangerous evolution.
The control centre of the Orbital Station flickered in green light. The Elachi troops turned to see a group of ten Borg drones surrounding a Romulan female. The Drones in front dropped down, all of them firing in a 360 degree arc. Most of the Elachi dropped in the first volley, but some were able to take cover. They opened fire, the Borg grabbing D'Elon and protecting her with their bodies. Borg shielding took the hits, and one drone collapsed. The remaining drones opened fire again, finishing off the invaders. As an eerie quiet descended over the room, D'Elon stepped out of the group and looked around. A group of Romulans had been gathered and bound nearby. Including her friend Tovan. She moved over to them. He was the only concious one. His stomach had a green mucus growing across it. The Shrooms had already started the procedures to convert them. She knelt down, placing a hand on Tovan's cheek. She cast a glance over her shoulder. "Secure the station. Leave no Elachi alive." As the drones left, her mind went back to the days of Romulus. The original Romulus....
The game had been going on for a few hours now. Tovan had just caught her with a tackle and they tumbled to the ground laughing. There was a definite spark between them. D'Elon felt her heart starting to beat faster as she lay ontop of Tovan. She'd never kissed a boy before. She closed her eyes, feeling her soft lips press gently against his. It was unlike anything she'd ever felt before. The ground itself seemed to shake. Pulling back, she opened her eyes and smiled. "I liked that." Tovan seemed distracted. D'Elon frowned. "What?"
"I hear screaming." D'Elon rolled off Tovan and looked back towards the settlement. People were definately screaming. The whine of disrupter fire carried over the breeze. D'Elon sat up. "Are we under attack?" A green light shone down through the clouds, encompassing the entire settlement. The ground started shaking again as the tractor beam started lifting the town up from the planet's bosom. D'Elon couldn't believe it, she'd never seen anything like it. A cybernetic man with pale skin and implants through his body came lumbering towards them, stating something about resistance. A tingle flowed through D'Elon's body as she and Tovan were transported.
As the effect faded, D'Elon looked around. She was on one of the colony shuttles as it was achieving low orbit. Survivors packed the shuttle tightly. She pushed her way toards the front window, where a large black cube was drawing the colony up towards it. "What happened?" One of the survivors replied, his eyes almost glazed over in shock. D'Elon recognised him as a friend of her father. Someone who had known her family for nearly one hundred years. "They called themselves the Borg. They.... they started injecting people with needles. Our weapons were useless." His gaze shifted suddenly to focus on her. "I'm sorry D'Elon. Your parents were among those injected. They've.... they're dead." D'Elon felt her whole world collapse under her. She staggered back, falling against a chair and hitting the floor. She was only numbly aware of Tovan putting an arm around her. She turned to watch the colony enter the cube before the shuttle jumped to warp. It was another ten minutes before she could process what happened. Fifteen minutes after that before she spoke. "I swear, I will make the Borg pay for this. Whoever they are, whatever they want, I will make them pay."
D'Elon smiled at Tovan. "And I made them pay. They do what I tell them now. Fight when I order them. You stood by me all those years, helped me become who I am today. I have avenged our families." Tovan tried to look at her. "I tried to make you a better person. One not obsessed with revenge. Don't let the Borg take control of your life."
"The Borg control nothing. I control them. I'm a woman of my word Tovan. You know that."
"Yes." he replied sadly. "I know."
"Oh bravo." The male voice caused D'Elon to spin around. A large Romulan stood in the room, an Elachi commander beside him. The Romulan started to slowly clap. "How very touching. But you see, your efforts are in vain. The Republic is a cancer that must be excised from Imperial space if our people are to become great once more. You wear the uniform of the Empire. You must agree with me." D'Elon stood up straight. The contempt. The arrogance. The superiority. This guy was Tal Shiar. "Attacking our own people will never make us strong. I don't care who you are, no one abducts Romulans and turns them into something else."
"You have no choice in the matter. The Tal Shiar still runs the Empire. Do as you are told, or die."
"I will never serve an empire run by the likes of you."
D'Elon raised her pistol and fired at the Romulan, but his personal shield absorbed the blast. This gave the Elachi time to close the ggap and grab the weapon from D'Elon's hand. She reacted with a knee into it's crotch, but the creature didn't react beyond throwing away the weapon. It grabbed her by the throat, it's long thin fingers closing her air supply. She would never allow one of these things to take her. She pressed her hands against it's face, digging her nails into the softer tissue at the side of it's head. Flashing lights started encroaching in her vision, which only caused her to dig her nails in tighter. The Elachi had taken too many Romulans for their own already. Too many aliens thought they could march straight into Romulan space and take what they wanted. But no more. The Republic and the Empire were proving the Romulan people were no pushovers. That they can defend ourselves. Only through the betrayal of the Tal Shiar were anyone able to get any kind of foothold. The Borg had done it over fifty years ago along the Neutral Zone. And now the Elachi were doing it. She could feel her rage building, filling every fibre of her being. Klingons had assaulted Romulans. Federation had lied to Romulans. Chodak tried to destroy the Romulans. Though her vision was nearly blacked out, she managed to cough out a defiant: "Romulans. For. Romulans."
The Elachi commander tightened it's grip, but D'Elon saw what she had to do. She wasn't getting through the skin, but there was something that was a very easy target. Something she should have aimed for from the beginning. She grabbed one of it's eye stalks and twisted it sharply. The thing released a hand to grab D'Elon's wrist, but her determination gave her the strength to fight it. She pulled the stalk out as far as she could, and then some more. A squelching started coming from the appendage, the Elachi now frantic in trying to get away from the Romulan, but she would not relent. Not now. Not ever. She pressed her other hand against it's face for levarage and tore the eye free. As the Elachi grabbed it's face, D'Elon slammed her head forwards with a gratifying crack. A stinging in her forhead told her she had cut herself but the Elachi was worse off, staggering back dazed. She ran towards it, tackling it to the ground. Pinned under her, it was helpless as she balled her fists up and started smashing them into the creature. Blow after blow, unrelenting, unending. Over fifty years of pent up emotion came bursting free, gates open to the flood. She snarled as Elachi blood splashed across her face. Her features twisted in fury as the Elachi's head fell sideways on the floor. She screamed in veangence as her fists crumpled the bulbous tissue at the side of it's head. Only with the flattened skull and it's contents smeared across the floor did D'Elon finally stop. This thing, this alien that was responsible for taking so many Romulan lives, was gone.
D'Elon leaned back, panting at how much energy she'd spent. But she didn't have time to regain her composure, as the Tal Shiar operative ran over and struck the back of her skull. She landed face first on the ground, her nose breaking at an uncomfortable angle. She kicked out at his knee, but her boot just bounced off his shield. He grabbed her by the leg and started kicking at it. Two hits later, it bent the wrong way. The sheer amount of adrenaline in her system stopped her from feeling it, but she knew she would never get past his energy shield. She tried to crawl backwards, trying to think of a way out of this. One of the Borg drones could probably get through the shield, but there were none here. A boot connected to her jaw, spiralling her backwards. Her arm hit something hard. It was the body of the fallen drone. It's arm weapon was still active. Remembering what she had seen on her own Bridge, she knew there was only one way out of this. She grabbed the arm and aimed it, mentally begging for forgiveness before firing a shot.
The Operative watched as D'Elon's shot skimmed past him, missing by inches. He laughed. "You should have made your shot count. Because you won't get another." He grabbed her arm amd stomped on her hand. Fingers cracked under the assault. D'Elon tried to move away but The Operative kicked her face again. Blood gushed from her, staining the floor green. One arm at a time, she crawled towards the door. The Operative walked over and pushed his foot against the back of her neck. "Weak Romulans have no place in the New World Order."
He raised his foot to stomp on her neck when something struck him from behind. He crashed into the wall, sliding to the ground. D'Elon gradually turned over, blood stinging her left eye and forcing it shut. But she saw exactly what she had hoped with her right eye. She smiled, one of her teeth hanging loose. "I did make it count."
Tovan stood tall before D'Elon, his skin pale, his eyes dead. His chest bore the burn mark where D'Elon's shot had hit him, flooding his body with nanoprobes. Tovan strode over towards The Operative who punched Tovan in the gut, but he didn't even flinch. He grabbed The Operative's head in both hands, the shield glowing intensly at both contact points. But Tovan gave no indication of pain, he kept holding on. The nanoprobes were already enhancing his strength, letting Tovan twist the Romulan's head sharply. His neck broke instantly, leaving his head at an almost one hundred eighty angle. Dropping the body, Tovan turned to stare at D'Elon. Motionless. Calm. There was no trace of recognition from her old friend. D'Elon struggled over to where her pistol had fallen, then crawled over to Tovan. Clutching his leg, she hauled herself up, using him as support.
"I'm sorry Tovan. Forgive me. I never intended for you to die this way. In making the Borg my slaves, for retribution on what they did to us, I have forced on you a fate worse than death. Forgive me, my friend. I will release you from this nightmare. You will die a free and honourable Romulan."
She pressed the pistol against his temple and pressed the trigger, quickly falling back out of the blast area. Tovan made no reaction as a green glow spread through his body. As it faded, it took his body with him, leaving his spirit free to soar on the Raptor's Wings.
Satra was working on getting the ship back online. The Singularity Core was stabilised and providing power, but the ship was still in no position to fight. Fortunately, the rest of the fleet were more than capable. The transporter beam deposited D'Elon back onboard. Satra turned and gasped in horror at the state her Commander was in. "Sir! Are you ok?" D'Elon was being supported by one of their Borg drones as she limped towards one of the Engineering consoles. One that was retrofitted to control their most powerful weapon. "Sir? What are you doing?"
"There's a Tal Shiar ship in close proximity to that Elachi mothership. We can destroy them both in one go." She started working the console, diverting power to the Deflector systems. Satra saw this and moved forwards. "NO! Commander, not only will you destroy that station, but you'll cripple us as well! The ship's framework is too fragile for a Singularity Projection!"
"It'll hold. The Drones are already fortifying the ship. "
"But.... The Romulans over there!"
"Better they die free at the hands of a Romulan, than be turned into something like those." She cast a glance over her shoulder at the couple of assimilated Elachi, standing motionless at the back of the Bridge. Satra pushed infront of D'Elon and started trying to shut down the Projection systems. "No. Sir, you've lost it. Under medical orders Six One Three, I deem you unfit to command. I am relieving you of your rank and position. Step away from the consoles and-"
Satra was quickly silenced by D'Elon's arm slamming into her face. Satra staggered back and tumbled to the floor. Blood trickled from her nose as she got back up and unholstered her pistol. "Commander. I won't ask again." The drone supporting D'Elon turned and grabbed the pistol, twisting it in such a way Satra had to release it. It grabbed the front of her uniform and lifted her off her feet. "Commander D'Elon is to be protected at all times." The Drone threw Satra clear across the Bridge. D'Elon ignored all of this, determined the Romulans over there would be freed. The Elachi would die and the Tal Shiar would not threaten a Romulan world again. The ship screamed as the Deflector Dish spat forth a black hole, shattering the dish upon launch. The ship creaked and groaned, but the Borg repairs were holding. D'Elon watched with her one open eye as the black hole ripped through space, catching all the ships in it's path. They collided together when the black hole struck the Elachi mothership and exploded outwards. As strong as it was, no ship could withstand such a force of nature. The hull started rippling, mere tin foil shredding against a gale force wind as the ship began to collapse in on itself. Explosions flashed through space as it broke apart, colliding with parts of the station. Unfortunately, the station didn't suffer a better fate. It too started rippling, crumbling and disintigrating. It was beautiful in it's death. The black hole reached it's programmed size and collapsed in on itself, blasting a shockwave out to disperse the remains. The few remaining Elachi ships turned and fled.
Satra struggled to her feet, wiping blood onto the back of her sleeve. She watched in horror at what D'Elon, her friend, had done. A beeping indicated the Lleiset was hailing. D'Elon ignored it, instead ordering the ship to warp. Commander Jarok's voice came over the static filled speakers. "D'ELON! WHAT IN THE NAME OF ROMULUS HAVE YOU DONE?!" D'Elon didn't reply. She simply looked down at the console. No one dared move. No one but one of the assimilated Elachi. It moved to the helm and programmed in a course. The ship turned and jumped to low warp. Satra just stared at her blood soaked, battered and broken Commander. She feared her friend was more battered than she appeared.
Four days later, the IRW Tomalak floated in the remains of the old Romulus system. Repairs were going well, mostly due to the Borg using their assimilation techniques to quickly rebuild the hull. It did leave the warbird with some faint traces of assimilation along it's structure, but Satra had much larger concerns. Lolius was hobbling around with a crutch. He would eventually replace his missing leg, but he wanted to ensure the Borg were not trying to take over his ship first. Ta'el was in the medbay undergoing some extensive surgery. They had lost some good crew in the assault. But D'Elon. She was another matter. As soon as the ship went to warp, she had limped down to her quarters and sealed herself in, where she had remained ever since. They should be at a starbase getting repairs and medical attention, but the Drones had all but blocked anyone from trying to steer the ship. Not until D'Elon commanded it. And she wasn't seeing anyone. It was almost a shame the Vinculum had so many backup systems to keep it operational in the event of even the most catastrophic disaster hitting the ship. Satra walked down the corridor towards D'Elon's quarters. A pair of Drones were on guard outside. They remained motionless until she was close, then they turned their heads. "No one is to see Commander D'Elon until she is ready."
"I'm her First Officer. And her friend. Let me in. I need to talk to her."
"No one enters." The Borg shifted their stance, clearly getting ready for trouble. Satra held her hands up and backed away. "I'll try again later." She turned and walked away.
D'Elon sat on her bed, looking out of the viewport. Her wounds felt stiff where the skin was healing naturally. Her broken bones were setting in the wrong places, but she didn't care. She stared, unblinking, at the remains of Romulus outside. Great pieces of their once great homeworld, reduced to rubble. It was a perfect metaphor for what she had become. An outside force of immense power struck, destroying everything. She had lost her composure. She had lost her honour. She had lost the faith of her crew. And worst, she had lost her friend. A tear gently rolled down her cheek. Forcing Tovan to be assimilated was the worst thing she had ever done. She loathed the Borg. They were one of the worst species in the galaxy. And she had willingly allowed a Romulan, a friend, to become one of them. But by doing so, she had save Mol'Rihan. The life of one, in exchange for thousands, maybe millions. It was... D'Elon sadly smiled as she finished the thought. It was logical. But she didn't feel very logical. There would be heavy repurcussions. No doubt the Empire would revoke her rank. Probably arrest her. Maybe even her crew. The ship would probably be taken in for study due to the Borg repairs. The Drones would be dissected. D'Elon dared not think what they would do to her for getting the Drones in the first place. It wasn't like it was a sanctioned mission by anyone. And then the Republic would no doubt have their own issues. D'Elon gently sighed, staring unblinking at the remains of Romulus outside, and all it represented...