Fiction

Between a Borg and a Hard Place

By R. Kent Schmidt

Authors’ Note: This short story details the first mission of the U.S.S. Venture and leads up to and includes the battle scene at the beginning of Star Trek: First Contact.

I

Captain’s Log, Supplemental: We have just completed the final series of warp speed trials to certify the Venture as spaceworthy. The ship and crew have performed beautifully. Aside from some minor systems faults and glitches, the Venture has had a picture perfect spaceworthiness trial…

“I’d like to do one final test, Captain Ulm.” announced Leah Brahms from her chair at one end of the briefing room table. “I think we need to measure just how much space-time distortion we can expect from the engines at maximum warp.”

“That’s not on the itinerary, Dr. Brahms,” replied the Trill Captain.

“Sir, I must say that I think this is an excellent idea. A Captain must know just how fast his ship can go.” said Commander K’Arnach, the ship’s XO and Chief Engineer.

“Aye, Capn’” said Montgomery Scott from the chair next to Dr. Brahms, ”As much as I hesitate to agree with my large Klingon friend here, its somethin’ that should be part of the test regime.”

“Personally, Commander K’Arnach, Mr. Scott, I think you’re right, I just want the record to show that it is not part of the regular trial series.” answered Captain Ulm. He leaned back in his chair, and rubbed his chin. “Very well, prepare the ship for a maximum warp speed run. Let’s say three hours out and back?”

“Aye, Aye, Captain!” replied all of the officers seated in the room as they stood and filed out onto the Bridge.

Commander K’Arnach strode to his position at the right of the command chair and looked down at the Ops/ Conn. officer. “Helm, come about to 277 mark 5 and prepare to engage at maximum warp!”

“Aye, sir” replied Tonantzin K’Tarrh from her station. “277 mark 5, warp 9.85!”

Captain Ulm walked to his command chair and sat down. He called up the test list on his right side console and added a line at the bottom that read: “Maximum Warp Speed Trial.” He looked around the bridge for a moment and then said,” Engage!”

The ship heeled gracefully about and the threw itself forward eagerly. The warp drive units glowed with blue Cherenkov radiation and the ship shot into the “warp flash” like a shark through water.

“Warp seven… warp eight… warp nine… warp nine point seven… warp nine point eight-five!” stated K’Tarrh.

“The engines are at 95 percent sir, shall we see what she can really do?” asked K’Arnach.

The Captain looked at Doctor Brahms and got a nod in return, “lets see what that last five percent gets us, Helm.”

K’Tarrh turned back to her console and touched the light bar that controlled the ship’s warp drive. She slid her finger further up the bar. The ship trembled slightly and then the engines smoothly pushed the ship even faster. The indicator rose to indicate warp 9.93 and the ship’s computer reported that the engines were now at 100 percent rated power. “Intermix chamber pressure and temperature steady and within tolerances,” came the report from Mr. Scott down in the engine room. “I think she’s got a few more points in her yet!”

“Very well. Lieutenant Commander K’Tarrh, take her up by 2 percent increments until I say stop,” ordered the Captain.

Again K’Tarrh moved the light bar. “102 percent, warp 9.935… 104 percent, warp 9.94… 106 percent, warp 9.945… 108 percent, warp 9.95… 110 percent, warp 9.955…”

“Captain, the intermix chamber is at tolerance levels. We can hold this speed for about 4 hours if we have to, and still not damage anything.”

Thank you Mr. Scott. Helm, hold it there please,” said the Captain. “Well, Doctor Brahms, it looks like your new intermix chamber and warp coil configuration is a success.”

“It does look that way, Captain. Mr. Toral, how do the ‘fabric’ and static flow fields look?”

“Clear so far Dr. Brahms, there was a minor fluctuation when we moved beyond 9.85, but the field stabilizer seems to have compensated,” replied Lieutenant Commander Toral, the Venture’s Science Officer. He looked to his left and checked with S’Lar, the half Vulcan Assistant Science Officer, “S’Lar, are you reading this the same way I am?”

“Aye, mate, that I am. We’re cookin’ right along!” replied S’Lar.

“I don’t think I’ll ever get used to a Vulcan with an Australian accent!” said the Captain to K’Arnach, “I know he was raised by his human father on Earth but its very disconcerting!”

“I agree, sir but he is quite good at his job.” Replied K’Arnach.

Dr. Brahms walked over to the sciences console and examined the graphs on the science stations. As stated, the ship was moving at its highest safe speed and there was almost no damage being done to the fabric of local space. This was a huge step forward for warp drive because now Federation starships could again move at warp speeds greater than warp 6 and not unduly disrupt normal space.

“Captain, I think we have enough data for analysis,” said Dr. Brahms from the left side of the Bridge about two hours later.

Agreed, Doctor, no since straining her too much, besides, we have well exceeded Starfleet’s design specs for this class ship. I would like to be the first to congratulate yourself and Mr. Scott on your stunning contributions to the creation of this starship.”

Thank you sir, on the behalf of Mr. Scott, and myself, I would like to congratulate you on having a fine ship.”

“Helm, come about. Reverse your course and return us to the Neptune Proving Grounds at warp four, please,” ordered the Captain. “Put me on ‘all hands’ please, Kyndra,” he said to the ship’s Communications Officer.

“You’re on, sir,” she replied.

“All hands, this is Captain Ulm. We have had a very tough 3 months getting our ship ‘dialed in’ just right, and our hard work has paid off. Barring any unforeseen delays, the ship should be commissioned on schedule when we reach Utopia Planitia in a few days. Crew, it is with great pleasure that I give you the Federation Starship Venture!”

II

The next day, The Captain, XO, and the Ship’s Counselor were in the Captain’s ready room going over the various departments’ performance figures. All sections of the ship scored highly in their duties and both the Captain and XO were pleased at the outcomes. As they reviewed each section, they made notes on future drills that needed to be accomplished and what goals they were setting for each section.

“Communications?” asked the Captain.

“3.9. No problems at all with procedures, minor equipment problems that should be fixed by the time we reach Utopia Planitia for the Commissioning Ceremony.”

“What sort of problems, K’Arnach?” asked the Captain, “Anything serious?”

“No sir. The most irksome problem involves the replicators. Any request from a personal replicator for coffee or other beverage gets translated into an order for Earl Gray Tea.”

The Trill Captain shuddered and said, ”Ugh, I hate Earl Gray. Let’s get that fixed ASAP, we can’t have a crew operating without coffee, can we?”

“No sir!” chuckled Lieutenant Commander Jessica Williams, the Ship’s Counselor, “We’d have a mutiny on our hands!”

As they came to the last three sections on the report, Commander K’Arnach came to stiff attention.

“Captain, about the engineering and support section—“

“Say no more Commander K’Arnach, there is nothing on this report that is your fault, or even your sections’. These are all Yard goofs and the normal ‘launching pains’ that every ship goes through. You know the saying: ‘No ship ever left Utopia Planitia in perfect shape!”

“Yes, sir,” replied the XO stiffly.

“I mean it Commander, as far as I’m concerned your section rates at least a 3.9 for repairing the things that have gone wrong. Now I am not saying anything more about it, agreed?”

“Very well, sir. The Science section should be in much better shape now that Lieutenant Commander Toral has returned from his family leave and has had a chance to get the section better focused.”

“How is Lieutenant S’Lar working out?” asked the Captain.

“He is performing his duties well, Captain.” Replied K’Arnach. “How are you two getting along, Counselor?”

“Fine, we don’t come into contact much.” said Lieutenant Commander Williams coldly.

“Ooookay, I’ll cover this with you later Counselor,” said the Captain, “Now K’Arnach, why did you save T’Chaq’s section for last?”

Commander K’Arnach brought himself back to full attention and announced, “Captain, I find myself in a dilemma concerning that report.”

“The Tactical & Security sections?” replied the Captain, ”I know that Lieutenant Commander T’Chaq is your brother, but I don’t see—“

“It is not that, sir,” replied the XO, “You and I feel that his section scored very well on their drills, and I have no trouble telling him that he did fine. He seems to feel, however, that a 3.97 proficiency rating is not good enough. He is pushing his people very hard for that last 3 hundredths of a point.”

“In other words, your brother is upset because his section is only almost perfect?” replied the Captain with a quick grin. “He’s pushing his people you said. Counselor, is he pushing too hard?”

“By Klingon standards, Captain, no. However, since there are very few Klingons on board…” replied Lieutenant Commander Williams.

“I see. Well, I will have to make it clear to him that his section is the highest scoring on the ship and that the other sections might look to his as an example of how to be perfect. I’ll let him know that by pushing too hard, he might cost them the edge he has given them to this point.”

“That may work sir. I have told him that 3.97 is enough, but hearing it from you might be better,” replied K’Arnach.

“Very well, lets get back to work.”

III

“Slow to one-quarter impulse!” commanded Captain Ulm as he strode onto the Bridge the next morning.

“One-quarter impulse, aye” answered the Helm.

K’Arnach stood up from the center seat and announced, “Captain has the Conn.”

Captain Ulm then sat down and took the duty roster/ log from the yeoman to his left. After glancing down the list, he asked K’Arnach; ” Any problems on this shift?”

“No sir,” replied the Klingon, “All was clear.”

“What time is our rendezvous with the Champlain?”

“In twenty-one minutes, Captain. With your permission, I would like to remain on duty until we are supplied by the tender. I don’t trust the crews on those ‘ships’ not to make any mistakes.”

“Now K’Arnach, you know that the Captain and crew of the U. S. S. Champlain have as tough a job as any in the fleet. To sit out here and do nothing but transfer, now let’s see what was that phrase they used in the twentieth century… Ah yes, do nothing but transfer ‘bombs, bullets, and beans’ to other ships, must be incredibly fulfilling work. Permission granted, watch them and make sure we get everything we are supposed to have for our first deployment.”

“Aye Captain.”

“Captain,” announced Lieutenant Commander Kyndra, “ We have a message coming in from the U.S.S. Tahawus.

“Let’s see it please, Kyndra,” replied the Captain.

The forward viewscreen, stretched all the way across the front of the Bridge, lit up to reveal the Captain and bridgecrew of the Tahawus. At the center of the picture, seated in his command chair, was Fleet Captain Jim Lowe. “Hello Venture!” he boomed. I know it’s a little premature, but welcome to the Fleet!”

“Thank you, sir,” replied Captain Ulm, “We wouldn’t be ready for commissioning if it weren’t for your help in getting that last bit of red tape pushed through at the Utopia Planitia yards. I don’t know where you were able to ‘requisition’ that replacement sensor array we needed but…”

“Say no more about it, Captain, this is an open channel!” Captain Lowe laughed, “I can’t give up my sources that easily!”

“Where are you headed Captain?” asked Ulm.

“We have orders to explore out past Deep Space 8 and see what is core-ward of the Tholian Holdfast. We’ve been a week at max warp and we haven’t even passed into their territory yet. We’ll probably be gone at least another 2 months,” replied Captain Lowe as his crew stifled a groan behind him. “You’ll be well out on your first deployment by the time we get back into spacedock, that’s why the early congrats!”

“I owe you a drink when we see each other next, maybe at that place in Lake Placid down on Earth?” asked Captain Ulm innocently.

“Oh no!” chuckled Lowe,” They’re still cleaning up from the last time! Tahawus out!”

IV

After the Venture completed stocking equipment and supplies for her first deep space mission, the Captain ordered her crew to resume course for the Utopia Planitia Shipyards in orbit around the planet Mars. As the ship approached the outer edge of the Solar system, the Captain and crew were startled to hear a message from Starfleet Command blare out of the bridge speakers.

“Emergency Message! FLASH traffic for all Federation Starships. Prepare for a message from the President of the Federation Council! Repeat: Emergency Message! FLASH traffic for all Federation Starships. Prepare for a message from the President of the Federation Council!”

“Please put that message on ‘All Hands’ Kyndra,” ordered the Captain. “I want everybody to hear this, and sound Red Alert and Battle Stations, if you would.”

“Aye, Sir. All hands, this is the Bridge, Red Alert! Man your Battle Stations, this is not a drill! Red Alert! Man your Battle Stations!”

“Shields up, weapons armed, C3 Arrays fully operational, Captain,” Reported T’Chaq in just under 20 seconds. “I have called Commander K’Arnach to the bridge to man the CIC, sir,”

“Thank you, T’Chaq, 18 seconds has to be some sort of record!” said the Captain, attempting to lighten the situation by a small amount.

All over the ship, crewman not already on duty were rushing to their stations. The weapons bays, already called to full readiness, were running final checks on their systems, scanning their displays, and wondering what could be so serious that the ship was on a war footing so close to Earth’s Solar system.

V

“Citizens of the Federation and all members of Starfleet, this is your president Galmin Fane. On behalf of the Federation Council, I speak to you now of a situation that should be considered a grave emergency. A Borg cube has been detected on a course for Earth. This attack vessel has already destroyed or assimilated a number of vessels including a Klingon heavy cruiser on the edge of Federation space and is believed to be coming here to attempt an assimilation of the Earth. At this time, I call on all Federation Starships within 50 parsecs of Earth to proceed to a rendezvous point just beyond Pluto to meet and engage the Borg cube. All other Federation Starships, and all civilian space traffic are hereby urged to remain clear of the Borg vessel’s path and to avoid the Sol system until this threat can be eliminated. I also ask everyone who is listening to this message to pray to whatever deity or deities you hold sacred that Starfleet is equal to the task before it.”

VI

Tactical,” snapped the captain, “Lets have everything available on the Borg and their vessels piped into CIC. I want a briefing of all senior officers there in 5 minutes!” “Helm?”

“Aye, sir?” replied K’Tarrh.

“Best course and speed to the rendezvous point. Since we have to traverse the whole system to reach Pluto, see if we can route past Mars and quickly drop of Mr. Scott and Dr. Brahms so we don’t have any non-combatants on board.”

“Aye, sir,” replied K’Tarrh, “Course computed, Sol traffic control has approved…”

“Engage.”

VII

“I’ve never seen so many starships in one place before”, announced Ensign Steven Schmidt from his position at the ops console.

“Yes, Ensign, over 75 and more are arriving”, replied K’Arnach from the center chair on the bridge. “The Borg will have a glorious, but short, fight on their hands.” K’Arnach was listening over his shoulder to the tactical briefing being given in the ship’s combat information center, or CIC, that adjoined the rear of the bridge.

“Minute to minute data flow to the fleet will be handled by the Macloed, and the Lexington, with the Venture in reserve. Overall command, and my flag will be on the Lex,” Admiral Hayes was saying over the viewer to the rest of the Venture’s senior staff. “Captain Ulm, you will hold back with the second reserve here, closer to Earth, while I take the first two groups and meet the cube about 2 light years out. With any luck, you won’t have to do anything but get ready for your official commissioning party after this is through.”

Luck shouldn’t enter into it Admiral, with over eighty starships in the fight, even a Borg cube won’t stand a chance.” said Captain Ulm, “I see from the battle plan that you are going to create an open half sphere, let the cube come into it then surround and destroy it. That looks sound. Our simulations also show the cube being overwhelmed well short of the Solar system boundary.”

“Lets keep in mind that this thing will be stopped short of the Earth, at all costs,” stated the Admiral, “All other considerations are secondary.”

“Admiral¾“ objected the Captain.

“I mean it. No one stops to help crippled ships, no one stops until this thing is dead! No negotiation, no away missions to the cube in the hopes of sabotaging it. Nothing. That thing will not endanger Earth. Is that clear, Captain?”

“Aye, sir. Very clear.”

“Very well, please move to your assigned position. Good luck, and godspeed. Hayes out.”

“You heard the Admiral, I want Tactical Analysis complete in one hour, ETA for the cube is 2 hours, 10 minutes, present speed, so I want a 100 minute countdown clock to a Red Alert at T minus 30. All stations manned and ready at that time.” said the Captain.

“Aye sir!” replied the crew.

“K’Arnach, T’Chaq, I’d like to speak with you privately in my ready room, if I may.” asked the Captain.

VIII

“Admiral Hayes told me privately that the Enterprise is being kept out of the fight.” Announced Captain Ulm when the three men entered his ready room.

“What?” Asked K’Arnach, “Starfleet’s’ most powerful vessel? Why would they not commit her to the fight?”

“There appears to be some question about her Captain.” Answered Captain Ulm.

“Captain Picard? I’ve never worked with him, but he is the epitome of a Starfleet Officer. His logs are required reading in more Academy classes than anyone since Kirk or Lenon- Krita.” Said T’Chaq.

“I think it would be an honor to fight beside the Arbiter of Succession myself.” seconded K’Arnach, “His treatment of our cousin Worf was one of the deciding factors in our joining Starfleet.”

“I agree, but Admiral Hayes was quite clear on the subject.” Said Ulm unhappily, “Oh, by the way, the Defiant will be joining the fleet from the Typhon sector, your cousin Worf is in command.”

“Perhaps we might send our respects before the battle commences?” asked T’Chaq.

“Of course gentlemen. Lets get to work, shall we?” said Ulm as he stood and gestured to the bridge doors. “Lets make this ship’s first combat situation successful.”

Qapla’ “ announced both Klingons with feral grins on their faces, ”Success!”

IX

Communications, monitor Fleet Common, please.” Requested Ulm. “I want to hear what’s going on out there. Tactical, I want full connectivity with the Lexington and the Macleod. If something happens to either ship, its up to us to coordinate the Fleet Data Comm. I do not want any mistakes.”

“Aye sir, Fleet Common on speaker,” replied Kyndra from her station.

“We have full link with both ships sir, “ replied the Tactical Communication Officer from his station in the CIC. Deep within the primary hull of the catamaran shaped starship, two dedicated computer cores woke up to full capacity. One core duplicated the efforts of the other. Both cores were connected to the mammoth subspace arrays mounted on the forward hull, and used these arrays to track all of the Federation starships involved in the fleet action. The giant sensors also picked up the approach of the Borg cube. Alerts went out to all the ships and every one responded with their readiness to do battle. On the master display in CIC, each ship had a red star blinking next to it to signify their alert status. The 360 degree panoramic view looked like a wall of red stars facing a large black box. Tactical information ferreted out by the three Aegis Class starships’ sensors was graphed onto the black cube. Weapons, tractors, and shield generators were all assigned a target number. Each target was then assigned to one of the attacking starships. This all took place automatically and at great speed. By the time the human operators had registered the presence of the cube, the tactical computers were already assigning the second volley of fire to probable surviving targets on the Borg juggernaut. All that was needed was a command to fire.

Fleet Common sounded like the gabble of conversation in a crowded room as starships spoke back and forth and gave status reports. Voices rose above the background,” ¾Endeavor, prepare to engage the Borg at Grid A-15¾! ¾We have a visual on a Borg cube on a heading of 0 Mark 145, speed warp nine point¾

Suddenly a cold, harsh voice broke in over the channel, “WE ARE THE BORG. LOWER YOUR SHIELDS AND SURRENDER YOURS SHIPS. WE WILL ADD YOUR BIOLOGICAL AND TECHNOLOGICAL DISTINCTIVENESS TO OUR OWN. YOUR CULTURE WILL ADAPT TO SERVICE US. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.”

“All units open fire!” came the command, “Remodulate shields to a frequency of—“

Sounds of the battle poured from the speakers. Shouts of injured people, noises from crippled ships, and most of all the sound of nearly continuous weapons fire battered the ears of the Bridge crew. “Turn that down a little please, Kyndra!” asked the Captain. “K’Arnach, how is the fleet doing?”

“Minimal damage to the Cube thus far, Captain. We seem to be having a problem with the Tactical Computers…” he replied from the CIC.

“Hold on, I’ll be right there. T’Chaq, you have the Conn, continue to hold position here.” Captain Ulm rose from his chair at the center of the Bridge, turned and stepped up deck to the partition that separated the CIC from the rest of the room. Stepping through the tingling hologram field, he found himself floating in space surrounded by blinking red fireflies and blocks of tactical data. He strode over to Commander K’Arnach who was seated at the center of the holographic sphere. Around him, four technicians were seated at consoles providing a live link to various parts of the Fleet.

The wash of sound from the speakers seemed to be coming from all around the two men in the center of the room. “—sualty reports coming in. We have 96 dead, 22 wounded on the Lexington¾! ¾warp core breach¾! Twelve starships are down¾!”

“What’s going on K’Arnach?” asked the Captain as he studied the displays around him.

“The tactical computers are rejecting some of the input from the Aegis Arrays, Captain. They seem to be disputing the sensor data.” K’Arnach seemed awed by the fury of the battle raging around him in the displays. “We are losing ships faster than the programming allows. The computers are starting to lose command of the situation.” He looked again at the master display that showed the status of the Borg destroyer. Weapons and other locations on the cube were being shattered, but for every solid blow delivered to the cube, a starship seemed to wink out in a blaze of destructive energy.

“Fall back and regroup with the reserve elements!” ordered Admiral Hayes, “Endeavor, Potemkin, Moloch, and Hathor form a blocking force and delay the cube as much as you can. Give us a chance to muster a counter attack to fight this thing!”

What then developed over the next three hours was a running battle the likes of which no one had ever seen. Starship after starship would throw itself at the cube in a vain effort to slow its advance. Like an armored tank from some old Earth war crashing through rows of brave but unarmed soldiers, the Borg pushed onward toward the Earth. A badly damaged and limping Lexington crawled along with the 30 remaining ships towards the small reserve group at the edge of the Solar system. Strategies flashed back and forth over the comm links as the best Tactical minds in Starfleet added their input from Starfleet Command on Earth. Finally, a line was drawn in space just short of the solar boundary.

A cloud of ships began to surround the Cube firing on long strafing runs and then darting back to avoid the worst of the return fire. The Defiant was ever-present, firing volley after volley from her screaming weapons, her best blows just pocking the surface of the huge destroyer.

“Let us join the fight, Admiral!” pleaded Captain Ulm over the link. “we can coordinate and fight at the same time!”

“Negative, Ulm, if the Lexington goes down, you’re the only comm support the fleet has and the only chance to finish this!” replied the Admiral, “Now I want you to focus both of your arrays on what appears to be the command center of this thing and see if we can ‘zorch’ this bastard!”

The Admiral was speaking of the ability of the Aegis class ships to use their large subspace sensor arrays to interfere with the systems of another ship. This was called a ‘zorch’ and could be very effective against some types of ships.

“Aye sir focusing now!” replied the Captain. “Full power on the arrays, T’Chaq!”

The ship began to rumble as the warp core put out enough energy to send the ship racing at warp 7. This energy was sent out through the two arrays as an invisible wave of subspace distortion and chaos. The beam from the Venture and a weaker pulse from the Lexington impacted on the Borg Cube. The Cube seemed to shudder slightly and began to rotate out of control. Then a return pulse flared back from the cube and hit the Lexington full force. The arrays on the forward hull of the ship exploded and the backlash through her power systems instantly overloaded the vessel’s main engine core. The flare of the exploding Lexington rocked several ships in the area and showed in stark relief, just how few ships there were left. The Borg destroyer then pulled back onto its course for Earth. Shedding the beams from the Venture’s arrays like they weren’t there, the cube began to fire small pulses of energy at the ships around it. These pulses knocked out every system on the ships, and often destroyed them completely.

“Damn, that didn’t work as planned!” said Ulm, “There’s nothing to keep us out of the fight now. Lets get in there and shoot this piece of shit!”

As the Venture, came about, a tractor beam shot out of the Borg cube, and slapped the ship sideways. Sparks burst from consoles all over the ship and systems dropped off line with the impact of the Borg cutting beam that followed the tractor. Damage control parties were dispatched to effect repairs. “Captain, I need to get to engineering!” said K’Arnach.

“Negative, Commander, I need you here.” Answered the Captain. “Your assistant can handle damage control. Give me full power, we need to break that beam lock!” The Venture shuddered and vibrated as she strained to break the Borg tractor beam. The Borg destroyed a Reliant Class ship next to the tractor holding the ship, and the blast interrupted the beam, allowing the Venture to fly free.

“We lost the port Aegis computer core, starboard core has assumed full data load!” announced the Subspace Warfare Officer from the CIC.

“Main power is fluctuating sir, the weapons systems are pulling too much energy!” called the assistant Engineer from his station in the Venture’s Engine Room.

“I recommend that we decrease power on the Arrays, Captain,” stated K’Arnach, “We obviously don’t need full power at this range and the communications systems are the most critical at this point.”

“I concur, divert main power from the arrays to the weapons, we need power to fight with not to see with!” seconded T’Chaq from the tactical position.

“Agreed. Do it, K’Arnach.” Replied the Captain.

“Aye sir, diverting power now.”

“Sir, the Defiant was just hit pretty badly, I don’t think its gonna make it!” announced one of the techs from his console on the Captain’s right. “They are down to just their engines, and they’re losing life support!”

“He’ll ram,” stated K’Arnach flatly, “Kill many Borg with your ship in the Black Fleet* , Worf!”

“Sir! There’s another starship heading into the fight! The ID codes read as the Enterprise!” shouted an ensign over his sensor readouts.

The Enterprise shot out of warp and into the midst of the fight, bravely intercepting a deadly blast meant for the Defiant. She fired her main phasers and gouged a hole in the side of the Borg vessel. Other ships began to gather around the Enterprise as she swooped around the Cube firing as she went.

“I want us above and behind the Enterprise to cover her as she passes the cube. Fire phasers!” said the Captain.

The phasers shot out to hit the Borg and a Steamrunner class ship nimbly dodged around the cube and peppered its’ flank with a spread of torpedoes. Just as suddenly, beams shot out from the Borg monster and again pounded the Venture.

“We’re losing main power, I’m going down to engineering!” said K’Arnach as he got up off the deck and vaulted the railing to get to the turbolift.

“Go, K’Arnach, keep us in the fight!” replied Captain Ulm as he climbed back into his chair.

A moment later, over the common channel the recovering bridge crew heard,” This is Captain Picard of the Enterprise. I’m taking command of the Fleet!”

“What?” shouted Ensign Mesner from his station at life support,” he can’t just—“

“Shut up, ensign, and mind your console!” ordered Counselor Williams, “He may be our only hope at this point!”

“Target all of your weapons on the following coordinates!” said Picard, “Fire at my command!”

“Do it, T’Chaq and get that info to all fleet units!” commanded Captain Ulm. “Tell K’Arnach we’re going to need everything he’s got left!”

“Aye Sir!”

The fleet received the targeting data from the Enterprise via the specialized data links from the Venture. All the remaining ships that could, answered; “ready, will comply!”

“Signal the Enterprise that the Fleet is ready to fire!” ordered Ulm.

“Aye Sir, she’s got the message!” said Kyndra.

“Fire!” ordered Picard.

The Venture rapid fired three torpedoes from her upper weapons array. Then, as the Enterprise began to move in front of her, the Venture pitched up and unleashed the last four torpedoes from her lower, or ventral, weapons station.

“We’re empty on the ventral torpedo array, Captain!” announced T’Chaq, “recommend we follow the Enterprise in with phasers.”

“Do it T’Chaq, get us in close and fire at will!” replied the Captain.

Beams of phased energy and photon torpedoes poured from the attacking starships into a growing wound on the flank of the Borg vessel. A hole hundreds of feet deep was chewed into the superstructure of the destroyer as more and more starships began to add their firepower to the assault. The Enterprise closed in on the wound and pumped three of the new, high power, quantum torpedoes into the maelstrom. These staggeringly powerful weapons caused a chain reaction to occur deep within the Borg cube. Huge explosions began to rumble through the damaged cube.

“It’s going to blow!” declared T’Chaq.

“Come about K’Tarrh, get us the hell out of here!” ordered the Captain, “Sound collision alarms, brace for impact!”

The Venture rolled belly-on to the Borg cube, accelerated and began to pull away from the exploding attacker. As the ship raced away from the destruction, other ships were not so lucky. Three starships were too close to the cube, or did not react quickly enough, and were engulfed and destroyed by the titanic blast.

“I need more power to the engines!” called K’Tarrh to K’Arnach, over the intercom.

“Working on it, we’ve lost an intercooler, and I have to switch out a main or we’ll lose the containment on the core!” shouted K’Arnach as he worked on a sparking console. Around him, his engineering staff labored to repair the damaged ship’s systems and to hold things together long enough to escape the destruction behind them. “A brand new ship, and this has to happen.”

Fragments of the destroyed Borg cube were bouncing off of the ship’s shields as the Venture outran the explosion. As the glare from the blast faded, the Venture turned and headed back to the site of the battle.

“Lets start recovering the wounded from the ships that are adrift, I know the Enterprise picked up the people from the Defiant, but we need to start getting people off the other ships.” Ordered the Captain. “Krowgon, how are our wounded?”

“They are being cared for, of course,” rumbled Lieutenant Krowgon K’Zota from the Sick Bay, “We are going to have many more, yes?”

“We’re picking them up now, Krowgon, you’ll see the first several in about 5 minutes.” answered the Captain.

“Sir! The Enterprise—“ said the Lieutenant Commander Toral from his Science console.

“What is it Toral?” answered the Captain.

“There was an energy spike then the Enterprise just… disappeared! Sir, she’s gone!”

* Some Klingons believe that when you die, you Captain a starship in the “Black Fleet” and have eternal victories over your enemies, who each die a thousand times.

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