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Thursday, September 2, 2010
Do the Borg Have an Afterlife?
In another chamber, six figures materialized in a combat-ready formation. As the transporter effect faded, one of the figures holstered her weapon and flipped open her tricorder, which murmered and beeped. Speaking though her re-breather, she declared:
"Radiation elevated but within tolerances. Gravity at 75% Earth normal. Oxygen levels below normal; CO2 elevated, unsafe. Keep your masks on."
A chorus of voices responded with "ayes." One of the other figures, even smaller than the captain and positioned directly opposite in the defensive circle, pulled out her own tricorder and began to scan for life signs. Pointing down a corridor, Auzzie said:
"Picking up faint readings, Captain. Down that corridor."
Major Gasira and one of her MACOs took point, followed closely by Rowan and Thierry, with Auzzie and the third MACO bringing up the rear. Debris littered the floor of the corridor, and the away team cautiously through the wrecked ship. They came upon a widening of the hallway where they found several regeneration alcoves occupied by drones. Rowan and Auzzie scanned the bodies, but they were all defunct. Thierry scanned the alcoves themselves.
"Dey appear to have overloaded, mebe a power surge when de cube exploded."
"Yes," responded Rowan. "The tissue surrounding the cybernetic interfaces is burned, some charring. They died in their sleep."
Auzzie continued to track the life signs. Further down this corridor there is a larger chamber. I don't think the explosion happened more than a day or two ago, Captain."
The metallic groan of fatigued struts sounded through the corridor. Thierry adjusted his tricorder and took in the readings.
"Capitaine, de artificial gravity generators are beginning to fail. Gravemetric shifts as dey go offline may cause the structure to collapse."
"Understood. Let's move on. These creatures no longer need our help."
The structural moans continued to reverberate down the hall as the party moved forward. As they approached the large chamber, they came across their first animate drone. Rowan rushed forward with her tricorder. The drone's face was badly burned; the ocular implant looked melted, and the remaining eye was charred. It seemed to be attempting to rise, at least the mechanical portion was. A strangled gasp rattled in its throat. The wall opposite the drone was just twisted metal and polymer. Thierry checked it.
"Dese appear to be de remains of an interface panel, Capitaine. De drone must have been using it when it blew up."
"Only minimal activity in the brain stem. No activity in the cerebral cortex or cerebellum. I think the machine is keeping this one alive. There is nothing we can do here."
"We should put it out of its misery." This from the major. Rowan glared at her through her mask. Gasira just gazed back impassively.
"Do you not think killing this drone will bring whatever defenses they have down on us?"
"I think whatever defenses they might have are not functioning."
"How is it that a Starfleet medical officer knows more than a combat specialist about the tactics of one of the Federation's deadliest enemies? From the first contact with the Borg by the Enterprise-D, they have not reacted to boarders unless specifically attacked."
"Captain, Voyager and even Enterprise-D and -E encountered Borg that were immediately hostile to boarding parties. It is my assessment that if they have not attacked us, they are unable to. Meanwhile this drone is suffering. I simply proposed a humane solution."
Rowan shook her head, "There is no mind to suffer here. And I will not endanger this team needlessly. Let's move on."
"Captain, I also believe that leaving this creature between us and the beam out point endangers the away team."
"Major, I have made the decision. Move out."
Gasira gazed at Rowan, calculating, then gestured to the rear MACO, who replaced her on point while the major took up the rear guard. Rowan fumbled in her medkit for a hypo and, finding it, made some adjustments and injected the drone with a sedative and painkiller combo, just in case the Major was right.
"The life signs are becoming clearer, but they are fading, Captain." This from Auzzie.
"OK, let's go."
As the team moved cautiously down the corridor, the vessel groaned more loudly. The screech of tearing metal rang through the hallway. The away team stumbled, Auzzie falling to her knees as the deck seemed to lurch then list to starboard of the away team's orientation.
"Report!" shouted Rowan, over the cacophony.
Thierry responded, "One of de gravity generators has failed. De others are tryin' to compensate but dey are already strained. Plus, de altered gravimetric fields are strainin' de superstructure."
"How much time do we have?"
"Too hard to say, given our lack of familiarity wit Borg technology. We need to get trough dis mission and get out of here."
"OK, let's move."
The large chamber was a complete shambles. Strangely, it appeared to be some sort of cargo or parts storage bay. But debris was everywhere. Pipes, conduits, and components looked as if they had been tossed off shelves and out of containers. A few more bodies lay amongst the rubble. The team fanned out, stepping through the carnage. One drone had its skull bashed in, apparently by a large pipe that lay half across the corpse Another had been cut nearly in half by a structural support that had broken loose. Suddenly, Rowan's tricorder began beeping urgently, directing her toward a pile of loosely coiled conduit. A foot and calf protruded from the material.
"These signs are fairly strong. Let's get this stuff off of it."
Thierry and one of the MACOs moved to assist. Together, they threw off the larger coils slowly revealing an unconscious but apparently uninjured female drone. However, when Rowan scanned her closely, she discovered shattered ribs, a collapsed lung and other bruised organs; the drone was barely breathing. Her pulse was thready and blood oxygen levels were half normal. Rowan could detect the Borg's nanites working to repair the misaligned bones, but was unable to determine the functionality of the drone's mechanical components.
"Cher, de subspace transponder is not functionin'. She's lost contact with de collective."
"I think we can transport her safely to La Gitana."
Auzzie had discovered two more drones under a collapsed shelving unit. "Captain, this one is pretty bad off, but there is still brain activity. The other seems stronger, but still comatose."
Rowan moved to scan the second drone confirming Auzzie's assessment. The third was indeed better off, but had a brain injury. There were no other life signs in the wreckage.
"Auzzie you will accompany these two back to La Gitana. Thierry, deploy the pattern enhancers." Rowan turned to the MACO standing over the first drone. "Sergeant, you will accompany that one. "
The Sergeant glanced at Major Gasira. "Yes, Ma'am."
Rowan tapped her commbadge. "Starblanket to La Gitana."
"This is Commander Shintarah. Go ahead, Captain."
"Tarah, alert the medical team and security detail in the Borg containment unit. We're almost ready for beam out."
Thierry gave Rowan the thumbs up. Rowan nodded to Auzzie, who tapped her own badge. "Torbin to transporter room. Three to beam directly to Cargo Bay Four from my location." The whine of the transporter sounded over the groans and cries of the Borg wreckage. The transporter effect shimmered around the young Trill and her two charges. Rowan nodded to the MACO.
"Starnes to transporter room. Two to beam to Cargo Bay Four." Once again the transporter whined and the MACO disappeared with the drone. But even as the two figures faded, there sounded a giant crash as the floor lurched again, sending the remaining four flying into a wall on top of the debris.