Into the Hive
Episode 5: Escalation
Location: Remains of the Borg Sphere
Timeline: Mission Day 7
2004 words - 4 OF Standard Post Measure
The team beamed into a low-traffic area. It was immediately clear that the ship had been heavily damaged. Many of the alcoves in their area were offline and all were empty. Wilder flipped open their tricorder to get a bearing and look for any red flags in their immediate area.
Hadir materialized within the Borg sphere and his senses immediately heightened. His phaser was at the ready and swept across the area. There did not seem to be any active Borg, however, he knew that did not mean anything. "Right all seems to be good here. I suggest staying on your toes. Care to get us to the computer core." He said with a little Cardassian edge to his voice.
Sibyl materialized with her rifle at the ready, her finger hovering over the trigger. She was using the well of cool from Hadir to keep from lapsing into a panic about returning back into a nest of Borg just a couple of days after her last encounter, when she had ventured too far into the Borg hive mind for answers, and was sure she would have regrets for the rest of her life for opening herself up to that festering experience of mechanized rot, that living death.
Hadir's presence was enough to temper her heart rate, although she'd likely never venture to tell him she was using his level emotional state as an anchor. He'd never have to sense she was tuning to him, or likely ever need to know. To her left she saw the Engineer, Lt Cross, materialize and moved to cover him from behind to be sure he would have the cover to do his job with diagnostics. It was dark everywhere and the light from her rifle became a beacon scanning the dark. She switched on the rifle scope with over laid readings from her tricorder.
Wilder found a working node and tried inputting some commands while looking over their shoulder. They were able to find what seemed to be the pathway.
Wilder looked at Cross and pointed over his shoulder, "The core should be that way Lieutenant. Let's try not to make any waves on our way."
"Aye sir, no waves!" Mark figured he was on the same page as his crewmates. This area seemed quiet, and as long as they kept it that way, all the better. He fell in second behind Hadir, who seemed ready to take the lead.
Hadir nodded when Wilder indicated the direction that they needed to travel. He indicated that he would take point and Sybyl should watch their six. Situations like this is what the Cardassian lived for, what he trained for. As such any trepidation was buried deep within.
Wilder and Cross focused on their path while Prenar and Danzer watched for drones. There were a few Drones cast aside on the deck as they passed. Some appeared to have been harvested for parts. This was confirmed when they came upon an intersection and found two at work dismantling a third.
"Clearly they suffered very heavy damage," Wilder commented, "Let's try around this way."
Hadir nodded, "It would seem and I believe that they are going to be preoccupied repairing themselves and getting their systems back online rather than assimilation. Either way I would like to get moving out of here as soon as possible.
"I second, third, and fourth that sentiment." Sibyl agreed through gritted teeth.
The passage was eerie, full of alien technology in strange configurations, much of it dead and seemingly just an endless texture of exposed wires and circuitry. The Borg had no sense of interest in beauty of form or cover plates for looks. They left everything exposed, all the guts unfaced. So as Sibyl paced backwards covering the team she examined the walls, the ceiling, everything, with the sweep of her rifle light, looking to pick out any motion or sign of life. or what passed as life for the Borg.
The corridor they were following came to a dead-end at a section that was partially collapsed. There seemed to be a partially blocked door trying to open. Wilder pulled out their tricorder to see if they could do anything.
"Ideas?" they solicited.
"There is a solid piece of conduit just there. I can use it for leverage, and we should be able to get these doors open," Hadir pointed to a piece of metal among the wreckage.
Sibyl took up a cover position so they would feel free to put their muscle into forcing the door. "Still clear for now." She reported.
Hadir picked up the conduit and with his slightly stronger frame he was able to pry the doors open and revealed the chamber beyond. In the next chamber there were drones which appeared to be offline, either temporarily or permanently was still unknown. Wilder slid a bit of debris in to hold the gap then slipped through.
Having reappeared from around the corner, having to find something to help leverage the door earlier, Mark noticed that brute force seemed to get the job done. That was normally his go-to, and the one time he tried to be clever, he missed the chance to get involved.
Once they confirmed there was nobody on the other side, Wilder waved the rest of the team through. The Cardassian Lieutenant was last through, and had just enough time between releasing the leverage of the conduit and the doors mostly closing again on the debris propping them open to slip through.
The group turned a corner and Wilder had to quickly step back from crashing headlong into a drone. The drone did not even register the incident and kept moving. They found themselves finally entering the computer core. One node was blown out, one node had a drone working at it, but ignoring them, and there were two other functional nodes.
"Prenar, watch that one," Wilder pointed at their drone companion, "Danzer, watch the corridor and give us a heads up if we're getting any further company. Cross," Wilder looked at the Engineer, "Access their systems and figure out what brings them here."
"Will do sir." Mark snaked his way through the drones, proceeding with caution as he moved to work on interfacing with one of the operative nodes. "This will take me a couple of minutes. I'll try not to make too much of a fuss."
Hadir kept his phaser leveled as his eyes followed where the drone went. He knew that if it came to shooting he would only have three shots or so before they adapted.
Sibyl's nostrils were flaring and she kept her rifle training around between the nearby drone and a couple more drones she picked out at the far end of the room absorbed in some repair task they were prioritizing for the moment.
"Alright I think I have something..." Mark double-checked, just to make sure. "...the ship received a short message from the surface of Illiran. Simple, encrypted, but barely, probably nothing that even would have registered unless you were really looking for it. Maybe a code word, or a trigger?"
"Trigger?" Hadir queried his green eyes widened in surprise.
"Almost like an activation code. I think the drones were in hibernation before the message was sent." Mark wanted to try and double-confirm that theory, but for the time being he kept digging around for more information. He worked slowly, and carefully, and up to this point it seemed to keep them under the radar of being detected.
Wilder had been watching over Cross’ shoulder as he worked, looking back and forth from the screen to the drones. Something caught their eye on the screen. They jabbed their finger over Cross’s shoulder at a line of code, “Look at that, the time-code jumps. Whatever it is definitely re-activated them. Let me see if I can download those lines to my tricorder and we can get out of here before it’s a problem.”
Wilder fiddled with their tricorder and tried a few interfaces with the Borg mainframe. Finally, they got the necessary information to pull into their hand.
“Got it,” they said, at almost the same time a mild alarm started going off, “Okay, that’s not good.”
At the other end of the room, the drones seemed to register them. They didn’t seem hostile, yet, but certainly no longer were ignoring them.
"Okay, I tripped something in their system. Let's get out of here," Wilder hit their comm badge, "Wilder to the Eagle," the badge emitted a low tone and Wilder checked the tricorder, "There's a dampening field on this section, and the shields are too thick to beam out of here directly. Prenar, Danzer, get us somewhere less secure, quickly."
"Xerot!" Hadir exclaimed in a slow even tone. The universal translator translated the Cardassian word to Fuck!. Hadir began to type in commands on his tricorder. "It seems that every area that we can go to is starting to swarm... Wait... Wait..." His hands danced over the tricorder. "Damn... I need more time..."
"How much time?" Sibyl growled out, in a similar tone reflecting Hadir's. She looked at her tricorder readings over laid on her scope and watched for borg life signs on the approach. She picked a direction that looked to have the least incoming life signs. "If we have to make a break for it, we go down that corridor. Least resistance."
Wilder grabbed Cross by the elbow and pushed him out of the section, staying between the drones and the engineer, "And try to avoid provoking anything on the ship, still."
"Lieutenant perhaps we can hijack their own transport system and get out of here. Think you can give me a hand?" Hadir said to Sibyl as he made his way to a console and began to type feverishly.
It was a good idea. But still anxious, Sibyl was hesitant for half a second. Finally she set her rifle down on the top of the console. "Yeah, cover me." She looked at the display for a minute, and then bet underneath and used a pry tool from her belt meant for breaking into doors to rip the console open from beneath. She plugged in a tricorder to the input line and got a more familiar readout of the circuits. Like much of the wreckage of the ship, the Borg transporter systems were offline, but there was one site to site transport node that could be repowered." Almost there."
Wilder paused to look back at where they'd come from. There seemed to be a pursuit of sorts, but it lacked any urgency. Whether that was Borg inevitably and hubris or whether it was a lack of concern was hard to discern.
A drone activated in an alcove behind Wilder and stepped out, grabbing them around the torso. Wilder yelped and tried to shake the drone loose.
Sibyl jumped at the yelp but before she could follow her instinct to resume her rifle, Hadir was in the line of sight, already measuring a shot.
Wilder struggled with the drone, making sure to keep the assimilation tendrils away. Unfortunately, they were blocking any kind of shot that Hadir might have been able to get. After a short struggle, Wilder was able to twist far enough out to strike the drone away, and Hadir finished it off with an efficient blast from his rifle.
“Thanks,” Wilder stated bluntly, as they shook the drone debris out of their hair.
"I got it!" Sibyl called "I got it. The transport node is live. I can use it to boost our signal through the interference to the Eagle."
"Alright, let's get out of here. Wilder to the Eagle," the comm badge beeped successfully, "four to beam up," the Borg drone was replaced by several others coming toward them, "quickly!" The drones reached out for the officers, but the familiar sensation of being pulled apart at the atoms while surrounded by shimmering lights engulfed them as Wilder stared down the drones.