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Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 10 – Ghost Machine and Bravo Fleet: We Are the Borg

GM 019 – The Lion Sleeps Tonight

USS Mackenzie
6.2401
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“Report.”  Captain Wren Walton sat restlessly in the center chair.  It had been six hours since the shuttles had been sent behind enemy lines.  The long-range sensors told them nothing.  The Borg Sphere remained, as well as the two Borg signals that were, in truth, the Mackenzie’s two shuttles.

Walton was the only restless one on the bridge.  Commander Thasaz perched on the edge of her seat at the science station, watching every blip on the sensors.  Six hours was a long time.  “Signals remain the same. No change.”  She turned to face her captain, “How long do we wait?”

Wren wanted to wait no longer.  She wanted to take a running leap at the Borg Sphere and rescue her people from whatever hellscape was around them.  She sipped at her chilled green tea, wondering if they were about to discover the Delta Quadrant’s limits.  “I don’t know.”  She didn’t like that answer, but it was the best she had.  As much as her instinct was to jump face first, there was the harsh truth – they would all die at the hands of the Borg.  It would be a useless gesture.  If her away team were lost to the mechanical mutants, giving the Borg more of what they wanted would be reckless.

Juliet Woodward sat to the captain’s left, her requisite counseling role filled as she waited and watched.  The captain’s answer wasn’t wrong; she could feel the bridge’s tension shift back and forth with the clock ticking onwards.  Commander Park had been given bunk orders four hours ago.  A break for Walton and much of the bridge crew was coming up.

 

“Long night?”  Chief Diplomatic Officer Charlie Hargraves glanced up from his mug of coffee to greet the older face of the Mackenzie’s quartermaster, Henry Wyatt.

“Something like that.  We’re at seven hours since the shuttles started their mission.  Everyone’s a little worried.”  He continued to work on his PADD, “I’ve been asked to draft a report regarding all hands lost…just in case.”  He shook his head, “I know it’s a necessary thing, but I hate it.”

Wyatt slid into the seat opposite, his mug steaming with tea, “I don’t know how this mission ends if that’s what you’re asking.”

Hargreaves chuckled, “I’m aware of your skillset, Quartermaster Wyatt.  Even if you could see into the future of this thing…I don’t think I’d ask.  I don’t want to know – either way.”

Wyatt leaned forward, “There’s a piece of paper in the archives back on Earth by General Eisenhower.  He was the Supreme Commander of the Allied troops in World War II.”  He explained the D-Day invasion as best as he could through the lens of 2401.  “He had two letters drafted – one for the mission’s success and one for the failure.”  He let the moment hold before continuing, “Our fight against the Borg isn’t much different from the fight four hundred and fifty years ago.”

Charlie remembered his world history classes and dimly recalled the events Henry referenced: “The Allies won that war.”

Wyatt replied, “At great cost.”

 

“Coming up on twelve hours, Commander.”  The secondary science officer reported as she sat in Thasaz’s chair; her chief had been ordered off the bridge and to rest.  Park had returned to the center chair and was finding it difficult.  Nothing had changed on the long-range sensors.  No word had come by any frequency of communication.  It was quiet.

The commander replied, “Log it into the ship’s computer.  Next report in half an hour.”  The doldrums of the bridge returned as the officers and crew went through the rhythm that had taken hold twelve hours previous.  Every so often a transport ship would flicker on the sensors.  Anticipation would rise and then fall.

 

“Thirteen hours,” announced Thsaz.  Walton was back in the center chair while Park had returned to the operations console.

“Report.”  Wren didn’t expect much.  She wasn’t surprised when the science chief gave her the same report.  “Log it.”  She sat back in her chair.  There would come a time when she would have to take the Mackenzie to investigate.  She wasn’t sure when that time would be, only that it was coming closer and closer the longer the shuttles stayed attached to the Borg Sphere.

Suddenly, multiple consoles were alarmed, and Thasaz quickly reported, “One shuttle has departed the Sphere at maximum warp; the other is moving away at impulse power.”  She worked the sensors, “No communications…and no change in their transponder signals.  The second shuttle has now gone to warp.  Course for both is intercepting with us.”

Wren drummed her hands on the arms of the center chair.  There were multiple possibilities, and she would now have to prepare for all of them.  “Red alert.  Activate all security teams.  Secure the shuttle bay with repelling teams.  Commander Park, get to the shuttle bay.”

Park was up and in the turbolift with the doors closing behind her as the lights on the bridge faded to red.  She counted to ten and exercised her breathing.  As she stepped off the lift, a security officer tossed her a phaser rifle as he led her towards the shuttle bay.  “The shuttles aren’t responding to hails or signals.  They’re not stopping for anything.  We’ve tried to get footage from inside the shuttles, but the computers are not responding.  Whatever’s happened, the shuttles are cut off.  Scans show what we wanted the Borg to see – a Borg signature with Borg Drones inside.”  They turned the corner and ran down the remaining corridor to the entrance to the main shuttle bay.

Park stepped through the doors and quickly took control of the scrum, “Be ready for a crash landing.  We don’t know what’s coming through those doors.”  The shuttle bay team secured a forcefield around the team.  A channel from the bridge was opened as Thasaz reported the progress of the shuttles.  They were moving at breakneck speed, redlining the engines of the shuttles.

Park called out, “Here they come!”  They dropped the shields on the bridge, and the shuttles arced towards the open bay.  They slowed to full impulse, but Park knew it wasn’t slow enough.  “Use the tractor beams!”  The shuttle bay team responded, and while it slowed the shuttles, they were still coming in hard and hot.  Park shouted, “Brace!”

The first shuttle hit the deck and bounced.  Sparks exploded from the chassis of the shuttle as it careened across the empty deck, crashing into the nets.  It tore through it and slid into a far wall of the bay, cracking the wall and exploding a release of steam and smoke from its engines.  The second shuttle thundered behind it, careening toward the opposing wall as it screeched across the deck.  It slammed into the net and nearly flipped over as it came to an aggressive stop.  Flames licked at its engines as it sparked from the overload of energy.  The security teams jumped into action at Park’s command. Two teams surrounded the shuttle doors at a distance, phaser rifles at the ready.

The doors remained closed as Park stood at the rear of each team, watching the shuttles with a leary eye.  Sensors were still showing the same story – all Borg.  Suddenly the first shuttle door inched open, spilling out smoke as the coughing of its occupants exploded out.  The shambling figures of Oscar Reede and Gabriella Castillo appeared with hands raised.  The security teams quickly instructed them to follow their directives as medics from sickbay stood at the side.  Park waited for the Chief Engineer to appear.  Castillo was the first to be cleared, and she moved to report to the executive officer.  “Commander…Park.”  There were tears in her eyes as she confirmed, “Commander Katsumi was escaping after we completed our mission…but her disguise failed.  They…they started to assimilate her…but we…we stopped it.”  She turned to the open door of the shuttle, “She’s…dead, commander.  Reede and I had to make a decision…the moment we shot…they stopped assimilating her.  They…thought we were Borg…and so they…left her body.  We took her with us and got the hell out of there.”

Park bowed her head.  The Chief Engineer had been one of the first hired by Captain Harris on the Edinburgh.  She’d had a long and storied career.  She had been meant for so much more.  She asked, “And the mission?”

Reede had been cleared and joined the conversation, “We did everything right.  Took us longer than we thought…but we got it done.  When we left, the Borg Sphere hadn’t moved.”  Park motioned them to go with the medical team and turned her attention to shuttle two.  The door had opened and Kondo had shifted out of the door, carrying a limping Pearce with him.  They gave a similar report, their eyes heavy with the loss of Katsumi. The crews left for sickbay and Park stared down the door for the first shuttle.  She tapped her badge, “Captain to shuttle bay one.” 

Comments

  • A buildup to a perfect ending, the shock is going throughout the ship and MacKenzie will need to feel the harsh reality of their mission. The Borg have claimed their price in a minor retaliation, I look forward to how the crew will process this. Well done!

    December 5, 2023