Episode 5: Escalation
Timeline: Mission Day 7
2173 words - 4.3 OF Standard Post Measure
Ajani Carter had returned to her quarters. The refit was going well, Sickbay and the Bridge had both been replaced and were in working order. She had spent a few hours getting to know her new station. A much larger console than she was used to as a CO, or even an XO. She could tailor her station to tell her things like the ships status, sensor readings, and it meant she write her reports while maintaining a presence on the bridge. In front of her station was the situation table, a table that could be used for in-the-moment briefings and to see a 3D view of the ship and things around it, or objects in sensor range.
Hadir walked onto the newly redesigned bridge. He had been told that other than the helm and the COs station there were no assigned stations. This was a feature that Hadir was not too fond of. He rather liked the idea that people had their own place on the bridge. However, it was not his decision to make and so he would live with it. He took a station that was at the rear of the bridge to the left side as you walked in. It was a large station with a wraparound screen to the rear. Hadir thought it would be best to overlook everything. As soon as he logged on the station hummed to life-giving him information on everything that was happening on the bridge. "Morning Captain." Hadir said with a smile.
Glancing up and around to the source of the greeting and smiled "Morning Hadir" she said glad he was finding his way.
Jazon stepped stiffly onto the new bridge and straightened their spine. Counting their measured steps, so in the event of an emergency they could still find their way to and from their station, the Lieutenant Commander walked to their favored position to the right of the Captain.
Wilder took in the situation table and various new stations of the bridge, "Captain," they greeted Carter in a clipped but familiar tone, "it seems we've gotten the overhaul we wanted." They thought about how such a configuration would operate under stress, probably with them bouncing between stations making sure everyone was following the Captain's lead.
"Commander" she returned the greeting. The Xo didn't really have a station on this bridge, but she had been told that this bridge could be reconfigured. So if it was discovered they needed an extra station one could be fitted and the other platforms moved. She did suspect that the station Hadir was at would become the XO's default place, alongside whoever claimed it. It was big enough for two people three at a push.
Wilder stepped around the table and stood under the Security station, looking up at the Cardassian officer, "Lieutenant Prenar, how are you finding your station?"
"Very well sir... Although the concept of not having a regular station is still new to me and something to get used to." Hadir replied with a broad smile typical of Cardassians. The screens around him were lit up and showed all the information that he would need. With a quick flick of his fingers, he requested a report from the Brig.
"I'm sure you'll find a way to make it very efficient for your purposes."
When Sibyl arrived, she took overall stock of the place and selected one of the stations to the side. It took her a moment to sift through some settings but she adjusted the chair to the right working height and created a menu set she could at least start with. She was fairly quiet as she focused on scanning through the published region reports to try to stay abreast of any developing situations that could affect the Eagle's operations.
Jazon walked to where the tactical officer had now joined them, "Lieutenant Danzer, glad to see you are also getting set up. Finding all of the options you need?"
"Yes, Sir. It's fairly intuitive. Well designed. LCars is LCars, no matter how you skin it."
Ethan had a spring to his step as he joined the others on the bridge. "Ah!" He breathed in an exaggerated breath through his nostrils, using his hands to waft something unseen towards his face, "a fresh coat of paint, ey, Captain!?"
Carter grinned at her Second Officer. "New car smell to boot" she added. She was fond of the new layout, she did think it could be improved a little but she was pretty sure that she would come to love it. It was better suited to the needs of the crew.
*[Using this as a way to write more than one part of the post at the same time. Above this line are any other bridge arrivals and office-neatening, below is the more adventurous bits.]*
At the edge of the system, green flickered, as a trans-warp conduit opened incompletely and spat out a Borg sphere. The sphere showed signs of significant damage and was spinning off-center on it's Y- and Z-axes. Something that did not go unnoticed.
On the Eagle's bridge, a proximity alarm sounded. Jazon took a step toward the Captain and situation table, "Report; is that a real alarm, a test alarm, or did someone just lean on the wrong part of their chair?"
Hadir's eyes widened briefly as he looked down at his console. "Sirs, I am not sure if this is a glitch in the new system or legitimate but there is a Borg sphere on sensors at the edge of the system."
Carter glanced back at the security officer. "Then make sure, contact the Illirans see what their sensors are saying" the Commander knew it couldn't have been that easy. "In the meantime take us closer and bring the ship the Red Alert" This was not a good thing, they were outgunned and while the Illirans have some formidable defenses they were all clustered around the planets and the Borg ship was holding position in the Orrt cloud. Illiran couldn't help them. "Sibyl, Cross please divert all available power to the phasers and shields, Load any of those high yield torpedoes we have left."
Hadir kept his eyes on the screen as the information kept rolling in. "The sphere is severely damaged. It looks like it is barely functional." He called out over the din that had erupted all over the bridge. Hadir knew that with the way these Borg were acting anything could be not what it seems.
Sibyl moved all the power to shields and phasers in fairly short order. It felt a lot like taking a wide stance and honing focus when catching sight of an adversary. She watched the movements of the sphere on the sensor displays. "The borg ship seems to be listing sideways." Sibyl added. "The power core shows fluctuations. Obviously, it can still engage transwarp. Shield arrays in the heavily damaged areas are completely offline. It's unclear if they can fire weapons."
Carter nodded, the duty pilot at the helm was already moving them towards the Borg vessel. "Okay, keep a close eye on them, I don't want any surprises. Ethan" she said half turning to her Ops officer "Do what you can to jam any of their communications. I'd really like not to have an invasion on our hands."
"Strawberry or raspberry..." Ethan said low to himself, a devilish smirk striking his features as his blood-red fingers worked their way across the LCARS. "Let's go with blueberry," He launched a custom script from his Operation files, one with an icon shaped like the small round fruit. "Any transwarp-based communication should be scrambled, if not blocked altogether, Captain."
"Good," she said, The Captain did hope that the Borg wasn't using Quantum entanglement communications, the ship had no way to even detect that let alone stop it.
The Eagle swooped through and around the unusually dense Oort cloud towards the listing Borg Sphere. It was on the main view screen alongside the image were a host of other data pouring in from their sensors. As they were getting closer more detail was coming in. Carter frowned and called up the Borg ship onto the holographic situation table.
"Some of that damage is over 10 years old." She frowned "I'll be damned" she muttered.
"That ship is one of those that attacked this system during the invasion. Some of that damage was done by the Hood, I was Second Officer at the time. It ran before we could destroy it." there was more strangeness "Am I right in what I'm seeing her?" She asked, "That ship is also cut off from the collective?"
Hadir double-checked his readings, readings that he was in awe of. He could not believe his eyes. "Confirmed Captain. That sphere is not receiving nor is it sending any information to the hive mind. I am also reading Starfleet weapons signatures at multiple points along the hull. Degradation exposure does line up with a ten-year-old battle." He reported and then turned in awe to the viewscreen.
Ethan walked towards the viewscreen a few steps, as if getting closer would somehow actually help. "I don't get it," He leaned left a little, hand on his hip as his head tilted, "is it a trojan horse or a trash dump? Did the Borg just designate this system as their landfill?"
Ajani considered this, "No, I don't think so" she said from her chair, "I think this might be a wayward ship, returning to it last mission. It might have turned up in response to a call from the Borg here, or it might have just happened to arrive now." she paused "Either way we can't allow it to remain here. Sibyl, can you please fire a trio of those long-range torpedoes, and arm the rest of them just in case" The one thing that her predecessor had done right was to create these long-range, high yield torpedoes, they would beat the Eagle to the Borg ship by a few minutes.
"Yes Ma'am. Arming torpedoes." Sibyl envisioned the fire crews below decks over seeing the automated launching procedures before the confirmation that torpedoes were armed and ready to fire unlocked options on her holographic display seconds later. She got a weapons lock on the borg ship and transferred the telemetry to the torpedoes. Long range torpedoes had the disadvantage of a longer delivery time. They would have to see if the borg ship had the defensive wherewithal to pick up on the incoming payload and, additionally if they had any countermeasure capacity to deploy. As the torpedoes launched, a characteristic confirmation whoop issued from the computer for each one, speeding away in the viewer. "Torpedoes away, Captain."
Sibyl was thankful to be firing from a distance. She was still processing her recent explorative empathic connection to the collective and didn't need a fresh reopening of the psychic wound.
[A few minutes later]
Carter watched with wide eyes as the three torpedoes struck the damaged hull, now that they were closer she could tell it was a Tactical Sphere. Even so, she watched it break up in a cascade of explosions, large chunks slowly spinning their way from their common center.
"Well... okay then" she muttered aloud.
The Chief of Operations let go a breath that he'd been holding for a while. The success of the attack on-screen broke the tension in his stare and the momentary rigidness in his posture. Ethan looked over towards Ajani, wondering to himself if this event was bringing back ghosts from her past. Respectfully, he said nothing.
Carter had expected a fight, maybe not much of one given the state of the Borg ship, but something, some return fire. She stood and walked around the stations and towards the view screen. "Ethan" she said spinning around "Are there are compartment still airtight?" she asked, there must be and if they could find one maybe they could send an away team and discover more about the ship, its mission and why it is seemingly cut off from the collective!
Ethan had returned to his station, immediately referencing the data as he was asked. He waited for a moment before saying, "Sorry to say, but it's quite-well slagged..." and almost immediately, he corrected himself, "wait, I see something, Captain." With a swipe, he sent the visual to the main screen, "it's not much, but it's still intact. The atmosphere is still pressurized, for now. Can't say whether it'll hold."
The thought of going over there was not something that Hadir relished. However, he knew that the answers they needed was in the computer banks of that vessel. "We could send a small strike team aboard with the goal of getting all the data from their memory."
Carter turned to her XO. "Commander Wilder, Please take an away team over and discover what i happening. Take Cross, Prenar and Danzer with you." the use of their surnames instead of their given was an indication of the stress she was experiencing.