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Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #75
[ Doctor Lucan cin Nicander | Deck 01 | USS Theurgy ]
When he materialised, Doctor Nicander had no more than looked around before he was thrown off his feet - the toss and turns of the battle getting worse. He knew little of battles, but that usually wasn't a good sign. By the winds, will this Cycle end here this time for me?

Putting his artificial hand on the Captain's desk in hir ready room - the office now occupied by Cinn - Lucan got back on his feet. He had already masked himself from internal sensors, as a precaution as much as keeping security focused on the drones instead of trying to find him. Without wasting time, he flipped the computer console open, and with a few quick commands, he'd activated the live feed of the bridge, witnessing the development as a spectator in the adjacent room. The thing inside coiled, excited about the development, but Lucan knew the stakes, and was properly agitated with the situation. Narrowing his pale grey eyes to see the details on the screen, he activated the audio as well.

[The Versant is hailing us!] someone on the bridge called, and a feed was revealed on the viewscreen. On that very same viewscreen, Lucan could see how there was some kind of antimatter cloud entering a thick debris field, moving towards a Borg cube and sparking detonations as it went. He could also see the Theurgy and the Cayuga sending blue beams from their sensor arrays upon something hidden beyond that debris field. The aperture. When a familiar voice was heard over the link to the Savi ship, Lucan's eyes widened, and he shifted his gaze to the speaker.

[This is Captain Jien Ives,] said the male form of their lost Commanding Officer. Next to him stood Thea, and seated next to them was a bald Vulcan. [We've taken command of this ship, and while the presence of Borg is disconcerting enough, we need a report on the situation now. Lieutenant Cross. Fire!]

Quickly, Lucan pinpointed who were on the bridge, and to his dismay, Counselor Ejek wasn't present. Since he was locked up, Cinn, Stark and the others had refused to hear him out. They had shunned him, unwilling to give any credence to his words. They didn't trust him after his parasite had been known. Thus, they didn't know all the variables of the situation, and here they were, on the brink of utter peril, without enough knowledge to make an informed decision. He cursed the winds for forcing his hand, but he had no choice. He had to yield himself. If he tarried, Ives might made the wrong call. Every moment counted. He was out of the chair and running into the bridge the next instant, with no time for second thoughts.

When the sliding doors parted, and he took a couple of long strides into the bridge, there was a sudden, bright light from the viewscreen. He raised the charred sleeve of his uniform to cover his eyes, and even as it abated, he kept his arms raised, emerging in front of the holotable. The one named Ducote was behind him, but his eyes were on the others, and the Captain on the side of he viewscreen. "I am unarmed!" he called, forestalling the remaining two security guards from opening fire at him completely out of turn. When the light from the attack of the Versant faded, he saw that the joint venture of the Cayuga and the Theurgy had been successful. The four kilometre wide aperture had burst open.... but so had the Borg cube - with three wide holes straight through it. No time. Lucan had to speak. "I could not let myself be assimilated, and I had to escape from my cell. Irrelevant. Captain! Hear me! That subspace tunnel, a Borg invasion force will come though it any minute now! It is one of the deciding steps in the enemy's plans. They have enabled the Borg, and mean to exploit the Collective as a means to further their own plans."

The aperture was open, and Lucan could see - behind Ives' shoulder - that there was some kind of commotion. Was that Morali?

Someone in Tactical was arming and firing torpedoes to destroy the aperture, but the outcome was know before Lucan saw it. "No, don't do it! I have tried to tell you, but you just won't listen," he said next, casting his eyes about, while Ives seemed to be making another hail, to the Lone Wolves, without killing the feed to the bridge. The torpedoes, they sped to their destination, impacted against the edges of the aperture. Upon impact, the edges shuddered. The opening collapsed... but the tunnel.

It remained, only wider.

It had to be at least five kilometres wide, and there was no seal for it any more. The aperture had been opened permanently, and Lucan had been too late. "You can't do it that way! I have tried to tell you! In the other Cycles, there was a singular object. A device that could rend subspace asunder. Well that is a subspace tunnel! In one cycle, it almost stopped the invasion. It's supposed to be a secret in Starfleet, but the Borg call it Particle 010! Do any of you know what it is?"

Reserved as Ives might have been, the development and what Nicander was raving about now held his attention. [I know what it is,] he said, and shifted... to her female form. She tilted her head and looked at Nicander through the vid-link between the Versant and the Theurgy. [It's called an Omega device. Are you saying it will seal the tunnel if detonated?]

"Yes... and no," said Lucan and he almost laughed at the absurdity of the situation, where the bridge was in full activity just to keep the ship together. Long range sensors chirped a warning against approaching vessels. It was the vanguard of the invasion force, already having entered the subspace tunnel. Within the minute, they would be seen in the distance of the tunnel. This, Lucan knewt. How might he explain? "It's not like you can get the detonation needed by just blowing it up. It won't be enough. The device needs to be activated. It is supposed to be some kind of box, with a mechanism you have to solve by hand. The one who opens it... will die. Warp speed within several light tears will become impossible, and subspace communication will no longer work within that radius, but the subspace tunnels... they will all wither and be destroyed - all of them - stopping the Borg invasion."

Despite all the commotion of the battle, all the raised voices, Lucan's words seemed to make Ives reach a decision. [We have this device in our possession. Here, on the Versant. We also have a tablet that details the locking mechanism.]

Hearing this, Lucan's eyes widened. By all the winds, could it be true?

What he said next, it was something he'd considered, in the event of the device being present, but he had dismissed any such chance. His words were without doubt, however, since he knew what he had to do. "Captain, I request to be the one that stays behind," he found himself saying, "to activate it, while the Theurgy escapes at maximum warp. I know you will need to leave at a speed higher than warp nine. Then, you'll make it."

Little did he know... that it was too late for that.

Next to Ives, the Lone Wolves and the Allegiant were working with the KDF to tear the cube apart from within, but it might just be too late. The aperture was open, the seal destroyed, and the vanguard mere minutes away.

OOC: First to post, @Brutus , with Morali reacting to the aperture being opened. Then, you all have 7 days to post, meaning that the deadline is the 5th of March. In your upcoming posts, you need to illustrate the following sequence: A) The Theurgy hailing, and Captain Ives, Thea and Lt. Cross appearing on the side of the screen, asking for a sitrep. B) The Versant opens fire against the Borg cube. See No Milk Run and Space Trash Rampage for more description on what happens there. C) When the blinding light fades, it is revealed that Nicander is on the bridge, and he is revealing things that no one present has cared to learn from him because of lack of time/distrust (please don't kill him since he's unarmed and not offering any threat? lol) D) Tactical (NPC Jonas Arisaka, Martin or T'Less) fires the primes torpedoes, and they do destroy the aperture, only the tunnel is left behind - permanently opened without any kind of seal. D) The implications of using this largely unknown Omega device, which is on the Versant, and how it's plain that the Theurgy will never be able to outrun the blast. E) Whatever Morali might say on the Versant, having a seizure in reaction to the aperture. Added to this, how it would take many years to leave if caught in such a phenomenon, without any means of communication. Besides this sequence of events, here are also Battle Objectives to add during and after that minute! Have a look! [Show/Hide]

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #76
[ Lt (jg) Sarresh Morali | Bridge Module  | Precept-ship Versant ]

He was standing on the bridge of the Versant when it happened. He'd been hovering near Thea, as the hologram had little or no ill will toward him, unlike their commanding officer. His all too human eyes were searching the image on the main screen, of the bridge of the Theurgy desperate for a glimpse of his Sel. Where is she? Let her be okay, please, let her be safe, he pleaded, to whom, he did not know.

It was just a tickle at first, as they'd arrived in system. The fear of seeing the Borg, he thought initially. But then his hand gave a good, hard twitch, one that he had no control over. 

Light burst forth on another of the displays, washing over Morali. They'd triggered the appature, he realized distantly as he began to froth at the mouth, falling over. That sensation was washed away from him, just as the light had consumed him. He was flung far from this place, and yet, back to this place. Hovering above the field of stars and gasses that made up the Azure nebula, and then further, further back, like standing in the middle of a holo-tank at Stellar Cartography, only...more real. 

The names came to his mind in a haze, a list of planets, seen first as if displayed before him on a LCARs display, but then, one after another, as worlds in sea of black, raging and on fire. Beta Thoridor, Adelphous IV, and Devnar IV; Yridia, Hyralan, Celes; Khitomer and Rura Penthe;

"Deneva, its entire population slaughtered, not assimilated." Sarresh was speaking aloud now, not realizing it. Not seeing, nor feeling the eyes upon him. "Regulus, Elas, Troyius, Ajilon, Archanis, Castor and Risa, another beautiful gem devastated by an unfeeling menace, which would take years - decades to recover. Xarantine, Vestral, Mempa. Qo'noS, Vulcan, Andor, Coridan, Tellar, and Beta Rigel, the major battle to come... Mars. Jupiter. many other worlds.

"63 Billion lives, snuffed out"
he said loudly, with a tone of horrified finality. And that....that was the way it was supposed to go. "And we don't even have slip stream."

They'd suppressed it, he realized belatedly. His friends on the Relativity had missed that little trick. The incursion had to have happened before Sarresh came back, he rationalized, so as not to set off his little gift. Had that been the nagging little headache he kept waking up with? Another ship, he now knew, was supposed to have found three cubes here..."Aventine" he spoke its name, as he felt a hand take his and haul him up, another on his back, steadying him.

"The invasion of 2381 began here," he said calmer now, on the heels of Dr. Nicander's pleas and Captain Ives words. "The Borg fleet sweeping into the quadrant, throwing every major power into chaos and reshaping the geopolitical structure of the galaxy in its wake. And that Captain, is the way history was supposed to go. But the Aventine was supposed to find them, not the Endeavour nor the Cayuga. Or Theurgy." A pulse of pain radiated out from the base of his skull, down his spine. If someone hadn't had their hand on his back he would have fallen again. "And she was supposed to have slipstream. It was the key to winning....and they fucking suppressed it."

Was this his fate? To find the answer and tell of it, always too late? 

GM Note: The one who helps Sarresh to sit up in the end is V-Nine, the Savi medical android, for sake of reference in upcoming posts, if your character is seeing Morali on the viewscreen.

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #77
[Captain Wenn Cinn | Main Bridge | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy]

When he could untangle himself from the Borg corpse, Cinn shakily regained his footing.  As soon as he was confident the Bridge was no longer spinning and wobbling around him, he reached down to help Selena up. “Thanks for that, I owe you both a spring wine.” he said to her and Nator, the one who'd had the thought of feeding the phaser to the drone.  That had been a lot closer to assimilation than he had ever wanted, and tried to best to keep the adrenaline shakes from kicking in there on the Bridge.

Returning to the captain’s chair once again, Cinn didn’t have to ask for a situation report, everyone was tossing them all at once.  Two nacelles out of commission, that meant maneuverability was compromised.  Phasers were iffy at best, and with the Borg having adapted, it was not like they were going to be of much use anyways.  Tactical wanted to go to MVAM and Stark was already checking to see if that was possible, but Cinn needed to assess further before giving that order. Kaeris and Okafor were confident they could open a second aperture, and as a contingency plan, possibly allow Theurgy to slip through it without turning everyone into radioactive ash.  Drones were still loose on the ship, with Ducote furiously trying to corner and eliminate them.

And then there was the Versant, hanging there in space like a bad dream.

“Hail the Versant.” Cinn ordered, finally noticing how slick his face had gotten from sweat and wiped his face with his sleeve.  Curiously, he didn’t get a response.  “Ravenholm, I said hail…” Freeing his eyes from the cloth, the Bajoran saw that the viewscreen was a hash of digital static.  So were the displays on his armrest.  All of the consoles were hash, and... he was alone on the Bridge, the lighting washed out in a stunningly familiar way.

Theurgy is whole again.” Captain Ives stated.  Jumping out of the chair, Cinn turned to see hir standing by the turbolift. She in her female form he saw, her hands behind her back.  “The Wenn’s journey is approaching its end.”  A somewhat vague statement, but his pagh itched in a way it hadn’t in ages.  Instead of confusion, a sense of finality brought some understanding to him.

“The Wenn's linear existence ends.” Stark was sitting at Ops, the chair turned around to face him.  “Darkness shall not pass. The light of the Wenn will obliterate the shadow before it falls upon Bajor.”

“We have a plan!” said Cinn, and tried not to bellow at the Prophets.  “Everything we have is ready to force that aperture closed. I have come here to do exactly what you want me to do, and you are keeping me from doing what I must.”

“The Wenn has forgotten.” Ducote looked up from the Mission Ops table, his face free of the accusatory tone that one would normally take with a line like that. “The Wenn must leave the Theurgy to save it. That is the pattern that had to be altered. To preserve Bajor, and all else in your linear existence.”

“But what can one man do against that?!” Cinn's patience was wearing out, a dark hand gesturing to the viewscreen as if it was still showing what was happening outside.

“What can one do against the many?” A new voice filled the Bajoran’s ears, one Cinn had never heard in person, only in recordings.  Turning towards it, to his astonishment, the Emissary himself was there. Benjamin Sisko, sitting at Engineering.  “One ship against an entire fleet? That’s a hell of a Plan B!” said an unfamiliar woman’s voice. It echoed through the room, the source unseen.  “The right one can do whatever is needed.”  The Sisko picked up a round object from the console, tossed it between his hands while he walked towards Cinn, and then and held it out for him to take.

Wrapping his fingers around it, the curiosity in his pagh was impossible to ignore. He looked down from the Emissary's face, and saw a metallic ball with a red light in the middle. It looked like it had moving parts, like a puzzle. Cinn turned it over, looking into the red center... only to be blinded by an impossibly intense light.

Back in the Captain's chair, Cinn blinked in surprise as reality snapped back to the chaos.  There was a lull, though, as Captain Ives seemed to be explaining something.  [We have this device in our possession. Here, on the Versant. We also have a tablet that details the locking mechanism.]  Doctor Nicander - of all people - spoke up from behind Cinn, but he didn’t turn from the viewscreen, his focus on the round object currently being displayed: the exact same thing that the Emissary gave him in the vision. Nicander was quick to offer himself up as the sacrificial lamb, to stay behind with the Borg to seal the aperture himself.

Cinn didn’t even hesitate.  “No!” he barked, standing out of the center seat.  Softening his tone, the dark-skinned Bajoran looked at his Infested friend with apology and pity.  “That is not your task Doctor, as much as you want to be free of that parasite we can't put the fate of the Federation into your hands."  Hands, which visually illustrated the problem. Cinn gestured towards them. One hand his own, the other - the artificial - was not his. A reminder about how Nicander lost that hand. “You told us the Borg invasion was the goal of the enemy, a lynchpin in their plans.  If the parasite seizes control while you carry the one item that can stop the invasion, then there is nothing to stop them.”

At this point, the voice of Sarresh Morali could be heard, listing the fallout. 63 billion lives. Countless planets. It further emphasized Cinn's point, just as much as the implications sent a cold shiver up his spine. And then, when the Infested had let the Borg assimilate everything, they would be a whisper in the hive mind. Driving the Queen mad, and making the Collective collapse upon itself - tearing itself apart.

Turning back to the viewscreen, the old Security Chief addressed his captain and crewmates one last time.  “Those who have been on Theurgy since we fled Earth knows that I was killed, blown out of a hull breach. To all of our astonishment, the Prophets saw fit to bring me back, for a reason I could never surmise." Cinn sighed. It was the end of he road. "But now... I know what They’ve seen." 

Struggling to keep his emotions in check, tears still started to tease the edges of his sight.  “The Prophets have come to me in a pair of visions the past few days... guiding me to lead the ship to this moment. It is my purpose, the pretext for my extended life. After you've left, I have to seal these apertures. That is the sole reason why I still exist among you. I'm sorry... but it is the only way.”

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #78
[ Cmdr Ranaan Ducote & Lt T'Less | Main Bridge | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy | Lasting Damage ] attn: @Auctor Lucan @chXinya @Brutus @Fife @Masorin @trevorvw @Triage et al

Ducote crouched by the chair as someone beamed the unconscious ensign to sickbay. But with the spectacle of the perforated Cube, he had to stand again. Cross! Finally, some visible proof that he was alive. Hearing it was one thing, but seeing it was another. Despite everything, despite their dire situation, he felt his spirits lift. He tried not to strain to see around corners to see if Blue were there, too.

"I'm unarmed!" shouted a familiar voice. Nicander, on the bridge, because of course he was. This ship needs a thorough command code audit. The hybrid drew his phaser again, dialling it up to a suitably-high setting, and aimed it squarely at the back of the good doctor's neck while he rested a hand on the back of the captain's chair for a bit of support against the ship's still-reeling inertial damper network.

He tapped his badge. "Akoni, Ducote. Never mind about Nicander; we got him. Out."

At Tactical, T'Less was largely ignoring the intrusion. Nicander wasn't assimilated, and there were at least three phasers pointed at him - she trusted Security and their guest support to keep an eye on the infested physician. Besides any of that, her console flashed a dread warning.

"Borg signatures on long-range sensors," she reported. "Many signatures. Positive lock achieved on aperture. Firing for effect."

Thumps rang through the hull as the spread launched. They would collapse the thing and then the Theurgy could focus on how to get out from under TFA. Simple.

"No, don't do it! I have tried to tell you, but you just won't listen."

"Logically, no, we won't. We can't," she asserted, frowning somewhat at her panel. "Lieutenant Martin, are you-"

The after-flash was fading from the quantum detonations, and sensors relayed the demise of the aperture, but the subspace tunnel behind it had proven rather more resilient against the zero-point onslaught from the torpedo spread. "Well this is bullshit," she deadpanned, quietly.

"Captain, I request to be the one that stays behind to activate it, while the Theurgy escapes at maximum warp. I know you will need to leave at a speed higher than warp nine. Then, you'll make it."

"Ha, you have to be joking," Ducote opined, though was drowned out by Wenn's loud denial - but the Bajoran did go on to say exactly what he'd been planning to anyway. Then... some stuff about being resurrected? The Brazilian kept quiet, but he did rather prefer his religious experiences and beliefs to remain in the purely spiritual sphere rather than having eyewitness proof of a miracle. Took all the fun out of it, before any other existential crises.

"... After you've left, I have to seal these apertures. That is the sole reason why I still exist among you. I'm sorry... but it is the only way."

At that, Ducote did take his eye off Nicander for a moment. One person for billions was always going to be a worthwhile trade however you sliced it, provided the one in question was a volunteer without duress, but offering to suicide was still a wrench. "Is there no activation delay? Could we not solve it and slap a timer on the thing?"
Nator 159: "I accept no responsibility for the ensign's manifest stupidity. Sir." [Show/Hide]
Ranaan Ducote: "A ship is a home; its crew a family." [Show/Hide]
T'Less: "Your odds of prevailing against us are... slim." [Show/Hide]
Valkra: "Come! We will shake the gates of Sto'Vo'Kor!" [Show/Hide]

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #79
[ PO1 Morgan Song | Main Bridge | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ]

Morgan hadn’t expected to feel such a strong wave of relief at seeing his captain alive and well, and by the bridge’s reactions, he wasn’t the only one; the whole room seemed to let out a breath it hadn’t known it was holding. Ives was alive, Thea was alive, the ship that hung before them like a guillotine wasn’t their enemy. Something could be done, something would be done.

He redoubled his efforts; his ears would lend nothing to the conversation with the captain. He was more use elsewhere, his console still flashing the message from a Lieutenant Commander Kaeris in Science. Not a name he knew, but as he scanned the information he recognised the directive: the jamming devices to contaminate the queen’s connection to her drones. He couldn’t replicate the schematics remotely, the best he could do was co-ordinate. He tapped his combadge, hailing Master Chief O’Connell.

‘Petty Officer Song reporting from the bridge, sir. I can implement the grid from here, but I need someone on the ground to get these schematics replicated and ready for deployment. Any hands you can spare would be appreciated.’

Any more he might have said was lost as a blinding light scored through the bridge, almost burning Morgan’s retinas with its intensity. He turned away, eyes squeezed shut, and when he looked back it was to see several holes gouged in the Cube; the Versant had fired on it, and the queen had no answer to the unfamiliar tech. For now, at least. No doubt she would adapt quickly.

All the more reason to get these jamming devices out quickly. He returned to his work, repurposing relays for the deployment grid. Someone in Engineering hailed him; the line was poor, he couldn’t make out the voice. The devices were ready for launch. Morgan mapped the grid onto the relays, simulating the devices’ trajectory into the debris field, and initiated deployment. With any luck, that would leave the Borg uncoordinated and undirected.

And then he heard raised voices, one in particular he hadn’t heard in a long while, and turned to see Doctor Nicander, a man Morgan hadn’t seen in the flesh since before his injury. A man who was a traitor, one of the enemy, but a man who was stood here unarmed, hands raised, talking about the apertures, and the Borg, and an Omega device…

Another conversation he wouldn’t be any use to, but as Nicander grew louder and more desperate, Morgan couldn’t help hearing what he said.

A speed higher than warp nine. With cold hands, he brought up the statistics on the ship’s warp capability. The drive had sustained minor damage, not enough to significantly affect their capability on its own. But there was also the power loss, the blown EPS lines, the lingering corruption from the drones’ attempts to hijack the system. In all, the numbers added up to nine, but that was all they had in common with the factor they would need to escape the blast.

He cast around for a solution, gaze catching on the sight of the subspace tunnel, now gaping even wider than before. Nicander wasn’t lying, their torpedos had only made it worse. Both the doctor and their acting captain were so eager to die for this, so eager to martyr themselves to this cause. But instead it would be the whole ship that sacrificed itself, over something as basic as warp.

‘Captain,’ he said. ‘Our warp capability is heavily reduced. The drive can sustain a factor of no higher than 7,2.’
Lt Cmdr Hathev - Counselling - Chief Counsellor
"Logic without ethics is no logic at all." [Show/Hide]
Ensign Inej 'Avi' Avirim - Security - Investigations Officer
"Live fast, die stupid." [Show/Hide]
Xelia - Civillian - Holoprogram Designer
"Envy isn't your colour, babe." [Show/Hide]

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #80
[ Lt Cmdr Vael Kaeris | Bridge | Deck 01 | Vector 1 | USS Theurgy ]

This was why Vael never wanted to look up.  Looking up would invite the input of new elements that he had no time to consider and yet weighed heavily on his senses such as they could do aught else but pry their way into his thoughts.  The new vessel, immense and awe inspiring in its own rights, had managed to single-handedly sear three holes through the cube as readily as the Borg themselves might have done to any standard Starfleet vessel.  Clearly this was a vessel that either vastly out stripped the Borg capabilities or it was one completely unknown to them and both prospects brought about a tirade of questions that permeates his brain to the point that he had little choice but to force them aside.

Versant.  That was the name the others on board seemed to give it.  He would have to make a point to look into the matter at a later and less life-threatening moment.  The screen flashed, displaying a handful of officers aboard the Versant.  Had they commandeered it?  Had they secured the cooperation of another species.  Vael narrowed his eyes.  Two he did not recognize, but the third... Cross?  The corners of his lips tightened.  There was something distinctly incongruous in his features.  Was this an accident?  Vanity?  Or purposeful deception.

He turned his gaze to Ducote even as another all too familiar form burst forth from the ready room.  The so-called host, as disheveled as he had been in what had passed for his prison cell, now stood in the midst of the bridge shouting at those on the viewscreen.  It was almost too much for him to bear.  In the midst of a battle, someone would have the gaul to transport a prisoner into proximity of the bridge-- he had to credit someone else in this moment.  Thinking this Nicander person had managed the feat alone was entirely too much to accept and would require a full examination of the security protocols of this vessel-- something that he had the very distinct impression had crossed Ducote's mind as well.

[ Engineerin' tuh bridge.  We've received yer schematics an' will be setting up yer deployment grid on th' double.  We'll be getting th' first relay up in two shakes of uh lambs tail.  O'Connell out. ]

At last, the call back to the moment that he needed.

"Acknowledged, engineering."

With a nod to Wenn Cinn acknowledging the status of his side project, he moved to CSO's station.  "We have confirmation that they can be shut down if we're focused and an obvious example of what happens when we're not.  Commander, I believe we can attempt an assembly line of sorts if we can dedicate team members to refining the specific soliton signatures and hand off to the next in line to shut it down.  If we can decouple the starboard and port sensor arrays, we may be able to do this two at a time.  Three at a time if we can coordinate properly with the Cayuga.  I don't recommend we sit idle while someone contemplates deployment of an omega device."  Whatever that was.

Yet another question to file away for the possibility of future inquiry.

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #81
[ Lieutenant Vanya | Bridge | Deck X01 | Vector: Combined | USS Theurgy ]

Vanya’s voice returned to Okafor’s query, tight, the Romulan tonals a touch harsh as she martialed her control. “Not all that ok. It hurts like a Narssican Razor-cat cut me.”  Dark green eyes flickered down to the wound on her arm. She’d engaged the Borg with her axe and had parried quite well, considering. Still the tactical drone was built for direct offensive capability even more so than Vanya who’s primary design had been espionage, infiltration and covert removal of targets. The bastard had slashed her once with it’s saw before she removed it as a threat to her friend and the rest of the crew.

The dark green copper based blood had splashed poor Okafor’s uniform when Vanya saw to his wound. Now he had the dermal regenerator in his hand and was coming towards her. She almost dismissed it for later, but it did hurt. It really did. Vanya was at heart a sensualist, but she preferred good sensations to bad ones. She was no pain-slut. This hurt and hurt could be distracting. Could slow down her computational speed if she had to dedicate system resources in blocking out the pain receptors that were screaming very loudly just now. So she didn’t dismiss it, and nodded to Okafor. Reaching over she pushed up the uniform sleeve roughly above the apex of the cut and let him go at it. He was an officer. The academy gave very basic first aid training to them all. He could wave the regenrator over her arm and seal the wound.

When he got close through the muscle and blood he might note the duranium indoskeleton underneath. The cut was pretty deep. A gleam of dark metal might wink out at him as he worked.

Then the door to the ready room opened and Nicander came onto the bridge. Vanya damn near whipped out the axe again but other officers seemed to be on it, so she let Okafor continue his efforts as she watched and listened. She didn’t know Nikky personally but she’d been briefed and shown the holos. Stark had confirmed it’s veracity, and Vanya trusted the woman with her life, so it had to be true. Dark green eyes narrowed and those pointed Romulan brows knit together in what could not be mistaken for anything other than a very hostile look indeed, fired towards Nicander with the force of disruptor bolts.

Then Captain Ives was on the screen. Vanya listened but her eyes remained on what she considered a major threat in their mists.

Then the torpedoes were fired, crys of alarm as they had a rather unpredictable and inverse effect to what the ship had been trying to achieve. A rather unlady like and non-android like Romulan curse fell from Vanya’s lips.

A glance was given to her arm and she nodded to Okafor. “Thank you” Then motioned to the Science stations. The ship was sure going to need them.

Proposals about a device were going on and then Nicander offered to stay behind. Only Romulan training and will kept the bark of dark laughter from escaping her, and Vanya shook her head, thinking that would be a really bad idea.

Then Winn offered to do it. Thing was… he was saying it was his god’s will and mentioned visions. Visions. Oh. Joy. One guy’s infested by parasites that pretty much are Demons of legend of a thousand worlds, trying to sow universal chaos and destruction, and the other guy… he’s getting multiple visions over the past few days from his dear and fluffy gods.

These two options were not exactly the ones that Vanya would want to choose from.

When Lieutenant Commander Kaeris came up and spoke of his idea, Vanya listened and shook her head gently. “Begging the Commander’s pardon, sir, but I don’t think we’re going to be around long enough to pull that off. If I’m understanding this plan, we will need to --not be here--, very soon indeed. Decoupeling multiple sensor arrays might leave the ship blind when we very much need those eyes and ears. Doing so in the middle of…” Her hand flicked to the viewscreen. “May get us all killed.”

Her words were given in a respectable tone, the warning offered to the two senior Science officers, Kaeris and Martin. Vanya was the CSO of the other ship, but not this one. It’d be their call. Vanya would do as ordered, but suddenly blinding the ship on both sides in the middle of a pitched battle with the Borg, that they were planning on fleeing from at all possible speed just seemed like a very bad idea to her.
Lieutenant Vanya - Science Officer - Zoology/XenoZoology

Lieutenant Junior Grade Zark – Security Officer – Combat Medic

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #82
[ Lt. Tyreke Okafor | Bridge | Deck 01 | USS Theurgy ]

Vanya’s tone was tight, but this was understandable given the stressors. The damage was substantial to put it lightly. Engaging a tactical drone in melee? What was she thinking? No matter, she was injured, and possibly undergoing assimilation as they stood there now that Tyreke thought about it. But as he stepped closer to Vanya, something caught his eye. There was something… reflective? Some kind of dark metal was barely visible deep within the wound, almost reminding him of… something. He could not quite remember, but it was decidedly not natural, whatever this was.

While Okafor administered the dermal regenerator and watched the wound seal, he reached for a tricorder to see if he could check over Vanya’s internals. At the very least to check for nanoprobes doing their nefarious work. Just as Tyreke reached for a tricorder in the med kit… A sight he thought he would never see that day manifested itself. Lucan cin Nicander, in the flesh (or what was left of it), walking onto the bridge. Tyreke didn’t care about the tricorder in that moment, he even paused with the regenerator as his blood ran cold again. This… traitor? No, not really, he was a puppet. This monster was here, before them all, this demon who had hidden among them for so long... And yet Nicander seemed to want to halt the dark creature’s plot? Was he truly resisting that horrid beast after all?

Ives was also saying something, something… strange. What was an omega device? What could that be- oh. A device which destroyed subspace… was this real? Tyreke’s mind was reeling at the sudden surge of events and this knew knowledge. It seemed to be but it was hard to believe. How could something so dangerous exist? How could it exist all this time and he’d only just now heard of it? Whatever this thing was, it seemed to be the only way to halt the Borg in their tracks.

As Tyreke finished patching up Vanya, Cinn stood and spoke. Hearing this man, who seemed to be chosen by the prophets themselves, was enough to get Tyreke to refocus. There was purpose in Cinn’s voice, and who could blame him? Had Tyreke not spent so much time on Bajor himself, had he not been to Deep Space 9, he might have dismissed the idea of the Prophets as superstition. If Benjamin Sisko’s fate was truly decided by such enigmatic and powerful beings, then it was no stretch to believe that Wenn Cinn had been chosen for a purpose as well.

It was almost poetic, really. A man chosen by luminous beings to foil the machinations of chaotic darkness. Despite that, it didn’t seem like the Prophets were entirely fair in their judgement. Who were they to bring him back only to wrench him away when they decided to? Cinn had been a bastion to the crew, and he was about to leave them again because of a decision which was made for him. Nevertheless, a plan had to be formed. As Tyreke took his seat he pulled up his shield frequencies and the sensor readings of the apertures.

He turned his chair to face the rest of the bridge. ”If needed we can enter an aperture.” he said. ”I have prepared frequencies to shield us from the radiation, and we may enter at any time.” It was untested, but there was never any time to test it. If they did this, they’d have to hope for the best...

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #83
[ Doctor Lucan cin Nicander | Deck 01 | USS Theurgy ]
Standing there, with his arms having fallen to his sides, Doctor Lucan cin Nicander couldn't believe how quickly his request for redemption had been dismissed. It was not just how... in-stride he'd been refuted. Sarresh Morali had just confirmed everything he had tried to tell the crew, validated his word and honesty, and still they wouldn't heed him, much less honour his wish to give his life for the crew. On top of it all, his old friend Wenn Cinn claimed the howling Prophets have finally revealed their purpose in bringing him back, and Cinn was willing to just die - needlessly - even though he was the Second Officer of the ship?

"No," said Lucan and shook his head, his mismatched hands closing into fists. Inside the blackness laughed at him. Scorned him for his inadequacy. He might have known the thing tried to incite his anger, and take control, but the frustration, the sense of numbness, it was more prominent than his ire. "By the winds, Cinn, you don't need to die... Me, I cannot live like this. I have to set things right! Captain, do you know what this is like? This is existential torture. Please, let me do right by the crew, for all the years I failed you. You must let m-"

[You, or what has controlled you, and might yet do so?] asked the female form of the Captain, her stare adamant, even though she must have heard too little about him from the others on that Savi dreadnought. When she turned her oaken eyes to Cinn, she was no less wiling to accept his claim. [As for you, Commander, the crew and I need you, so this is not the time playing the martyr, regardless that the Prophets have told you. Thea, check the sensors, how much time do we got, and as the gentleman in the back said, can the device be remotely activated?]

Behind the Captain, there seemed to be fighting. The Savi seemed keen on retaking the bridge. Ives, however, was focused on the viewscreen, her seemingly having faith in the other abductees. Thea, who still carried her positronic brain and its makeshift power-rig and tablet, answered at his side - eyes distant. [We will have visual confirmation of the first cubes within two minutes, and they are accelerating. As for the Omega Device, the locking mechanism appears complex, and requires opposable thumbs, or some kind of delicate mechanical rig, but we don't have time for such an intricate assembly, much less the software for it.]

As for their means of a getaway, Lucan turned his pale eyes towards the Asian engineer on the bridge, Morgan Song, who just announced that they couldn't clear the shockwave - the ship mustering an inferior warp factor. It seemed the man Lucan had brought out of stasis had just dealt them all a death sentence, until Lieutenant Okafor spoke up, telling them they might have safe passage through a second aperture. That was, if they could get one open. But where might it lead? "The ship could end up anywhere, Captain," he said, compelled to warn them all, and barely able to keep the frustration of being refuted out of his voice, "even in another Galaxy. By the winds, we might never make it back to continue the mission."

[Tactical alert. More vessels approaching,] said Thea, the Versant's sensors evidently picking something new up. [It is Task Force Archeron, ma'am. ETA... three minutes.]

Admiral Sankolov, thought Lucan, knowing the other Host would try to get assimilated. As if the Infested and the starships weren't bad enough, they were all manned by innocent crews. If they set off the device, it would subject them all to a subspace-dead zone for decades, or destroy them outright. If the Theurgy fled through an aperture, would they follow? It seemed the cruelty of the Prophets might affect them as well, the winds of misfortune strong. The Captain was apparently hard pressed for a quick solution, and it was evident how she hated all options. The bald Vulcan was saying the Versant was charging its weapons, and how the Allegiant and the fighters would clear the cube before the next attack. Jien paced the vid-feed, for just a few seconds, before she had to make a decision - likely one of the hardest she had to make for quite some time.

[Commander Martin, use the sensors and isolate the differences in a second aperture, then calibrate that beam to open it. Every second counts,] she told the Chief Science Officer on the Theurgy, and then the stream of orders came in rapid succession. [Thea, stand by to transport all officers on this ship to the Theurgy on my command, and make sure to bring the android. Lieutenant Cross, once the small craft have cleared the cube, fire at will, and use the torpedo launchers as well. Mister Veradin, get the coordinates from Martin and set a course. Theurgy Tactical, give the cube everything you've got left. I will hail the Cayuga, which I assume is still commanded by Anya Ziegler? I will tell her to leave, and carry the torch if we can't return. To warn the Task Force and make them turn around, if she can. I leave Martok to you. Give him my regards. Someone secure the Doctor, and order the Allegiant and the Wolves to follow us, wherever it might be we'll end up. Commander Wenn....]

Suddenly, the Captain didn't seem to find the words. Lucan ground his teeth, knowing how readily he'd take the Bajoran's place, and make it easy for Ives to give that order. The conflict was evident in the Chameloid's face, and Lucan knew how Cinn had served her loyally since the Theurgy was commissioned. As if offering meagre comfort, or rather some kind of counsel, Thea spoke up next to her on the viewscreen.

[Captain, the abductees need the android, and she is sapient. I would offer to sacrifice my mobile emitter, but... no matter how I calculate the odds, I need to stay on the Versant until the last moment, else the Savi will reclaim command of this ship, and Sclergyn will either fire against the Theurgy, or manage to pursue us through the aperture. There are innocent children aboard, and we need to send the Savi out of here. I cannot be in two places at once. ]

Time being too short, what Jien said next might be indirect, but clear. [Cinn... If there is any chance. Any. Survive this. If you don't... we will sound the echo that will go down all of history, carrying your name,] she said quietly, her voice almost brittle, and then turned her head to the Savi bridge. [Lieutenant zh'Wann, collect the device, and bring it over there, along with the instructions. Theurgy Ops, stand ready to receive us all. I don't care if this invasion is supposed to happen in another timeline... Let's end it before it even begins. Ives out.]

The thing inside was screaming, wanting Lucan to use the sub-network and beam out of the bridge. He wouldn't. What was the point? The darkness wanted him to lash out, and strike down the ungrateful, insolent fools. Lucan shook his head, denying himself the impulse, jaws clenched. He locked eyes with Cinn. All he could muster, was one final plea.

"Old friend, you are more useful here alive than I am. Please, let me end this." The officers were already acting on orders, the commotion surrounding them, but Lucan didn't care, beseeching Cinn to grant him respite. "I don't think I can live with the memories. They haunt me, all the time, and the Radiant is dead. There is no hope for me."

A final attempt, not just to find redemption, but to spare his friend from a fate thrust upon him.

OOC: First to post, @The Ostrich , with Martin using Vael Kaeris data to open the second aperture. Then, @Argyros sets a course towards it, leaving it open-ended before they pass through the opening. While this happens, @Masorin and @Top Hat , you guys have Tactical give the cube a parting wallop, and Ops announce the abducted starting to come aboard in the transporter rooms? @Arista , I can send you the hail from Ives, to incorporate in your post with Ziegler. @Brutus , time for Stark to contact the Allegiant and the Lone Wolves, and for Faye to contact Martok with the due warning. @chXinya , I think this may be your second to last post with Wenn Cinn, Thea telling him over his combadge that Lieutenant zh'Wann has been beamed over with the device and the Savi datapad, and that she hand it over to him personally in the (damaged) Upper Shuttle Bay. Then, I suppose Cinn steps off the bridge for the last time? @Hastata-Nerada , @steelphoenix and @Cosmos , you have posted very recently, so you can chill for a short while, or post in a reactionary manner if you feel compelled to? Up to you guys, but there is more to come! Same with you, @fiendfall , but perhaps deploying Kaeris' jamming devices via transporters, to keep the Queen a bit more blind? @Triage , I am assuming Cameron is still out, so I leave it to you if she picks up on anything.

Let's take one step closer to the finish line everyone! :)

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #84
[ LtCmdr Vivian Martin | Main Bridge | Deck 01 | USS Theurgy ]


Vivian watched the torpedoes streak toward the aperture, her heart filling with hope and relief. They had done it, they had prevented the Borg invasion. She was turning back to her console as Nicander burst onto the bridge, claiming their torpedoes would fail to seal the aperture. Unfortunately, moments later, he was proved right. The torpedoes detonated, and the aperture grew wider.

Vivian swore violently and turned to her console, where had they gone wrong? This was very bad, very very very bad. There wasn’t actually a word to describe exactly how bad this was. She was vaguely listening to the conversation between the other bridge officers, both on the Theurgy and the Versant, as she ran her eyes over the countless lines of calculations and streams of data pouring in.

Discussion seemed to revolve around an Omega device, whatever that was. It was possible that was the device that she and Hi’Jak had examined what seemed like a lifetime earlier. Apparently both Wenn and Nicander seemed to think they would be the best choices to detonate this device, and destroy all of the apertures. Frankly, she didn’t want to lose either of them.

The activity going on around the bridge didn’t concern Vivian right now. What she needed to do was focus on her team, and find some solution to the newest set of problems which were cropping up. Around her, Kaeris, Vanya and Okafor were all vying for her attention, all throwing out suggestions and ideas. Then from the Versant came orders from Captain Ives, open another aperture. One task at a time.

Kaeris had already scanned one of the apertures some time ago, so Vivian took that data and began to run through it, flicking through the math and data before her like her life depended on it. When she thought about it, her life actually did depend on it, as did the lives of the whole crew. ”Vanya! Prepare the sensor array to fire a soliton beam on this frequency. Okafor! Liaise with tactical. Activate your shield modifications as we enter the aperture. Kaeris! With me! You scanned this aperture, I could use your eyes on the math.”

For a frenzied minute the science team raced to open a second aperture. When everything finally looked correct, and Vanya signaled the sensor array to be ready, Vivian took a deep breath. ”Soliton beam firing.” The beam lanced out, across the viewscreen, and struck the pocket of space in which the aperture was contained. Space warped and twisted and the aperture was forced open. It didn’t take long. ”Second aperture open!”

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #85
[ Lt. JG Derik Veradin | Main Bridge | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @All
Derik was stunned, unable to move for a good few moments. An all too familiar voice sounded behind him. Nicander, the CMO, the infected. Here. On the bridge. He could feel another panic attack coming on, held back only by the knowledge that if he lost it here, their mission would be put at even further risk. The Trill took several deep breaths, centering himself, that small part of him still wishing he was joined for the mental stability it would provide.

He listened, silently, as Lucan offered to sacrifice himself to use the Omega device. Such nobility and self-sacrifice for the chance at redemption. Yet Wenn had a fair point. They couldn’t trust Lucan to maintain control long enough to use the device. And yet…Cinn was proclaiming it was his duty, per the prophets, to take on the mission himself. This Bajoran, this guiding beacon while Captain Ives fate was unknown, was going to throw his life away for them, for the Federation, for the future.

Then fate played another one of her cruel twists.

Oh Captain, My Captain… The age-old phrase passed through Derik’s head as their long-lost Captain reemerged on the bridge of the Versant. The Chameloid joined the argument, agreeing that Nicander was not the right choice to leave behind.

They are arguing over who will die. Over who will essentially commit suicide. Why must there always be death?

“Commander Martin, use the sensors and isolate the differences in a second aperture, then calibrate that beam to open it. Every second counts. Thea, stand by to transport all officers on this ship to the Theurgy on my command, and make sure to bring the android. Lieutenant Cross, once the small craft have cleared the cube, fire at will, and use the torpedo launchers as well. Mister Veradin, get the coordinates from Martin and set a course. Theurgy Tactical, give the cube everything you've got left. I will hail the Cayuga, which I assume is still commanded by Anya Ziegler? I will tell her to leave, and carry the torch if we can't return. To warn the Task Force and make them turn around, if she can. I leave Martok to you. Give him my regards. Someone secure the Doctor, and order the Allegiant and the Wolves to follow us, wherever it might be we'll end up. Commander Wenn....”

“Aye Captain.” Veradin responded to the order, quietly enough to be heard but not interrupt her and intently listening as the rest of the orders came down. Derik set their course, accelerating in a parabolic arc to swing closer to the Versant to maximize transporter efficiency. At least the Captain hasn’t changed much. Still barking orders with such insanity and confidence. Their course was suspect, moving closer to such a dangerous vessel. The risk was worth the reward though. They’d only get one pass before time ran out, one chance to save their crew from the Versant.

"Cinn... If there is any chance. Any. Survive this. If you don't... we will sound the echo that will go down all of history, carrying your name." And there it was. Decision made. The Trill heart sank, knowing that there was no time to find better solution but also knowing that it meant the death of a great man, even if he was living on borrowed time.

The CONN officer checked his displays again, happy that no more of their maneuverability had been compromised. He brought up the autopilot program, keying in the course he intended, and set the system to take over. It would only be for a few moments, but there was something he wanted to do.

The Theurgy course now locked, Derik turned in chair to look at Captian Wenn Cinn one more time. He had never really prayed before, as Trill didn’t really have gods. Yet despite this, he somehow felt compelled to do so. No. Compelled was the wrong word. He had to do this.

“Prophets….If you can hear me” Derik whispered under his breath, keeping his mouth from moving too much as to not be noticed, “Save Cinn. If you did indeed bring him back to use the Omega device, then save him after his task is done. The Federation needs people like him now more than ever. We need bright stars like him to light the way to peace once more. Save him. Please.”

His prayer sent, a last look stolen, Derik turned back to station, intent on doing his damned best to make Cinn proud. He’d carry on just as Captain Ives said, carrying Wenn’s name upon their journey to save the Federation. He hoped to see him again but resolved to make him proud either way. He’d do whatever it took to make his sacrifice worth it.

Autopilot deactivated, Derik took control back, empowered by his renewed sense of duty.

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #86
[ Lt JG Nator 159 | Main Bridge | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] attn: @Auctor Lucan @chXinya @Brutus et al

The aftermath of the naval-scale graviton cannon tearing the Cube several new ones meant that the terrifying weapons output from the hulking vessel slowed to a near stop as the few power generators within that weren't outright obliterated were turned towards structural integrity and shielding. In turn, it meant that s/he hirself could divert hir attention from firefighting and damage control to some rebalancing and reserve replenishment, at last. No telling when their next chance would be, nor how long this one would last.

Steadily, their shield strength ticked upwards, as did their faltering structural integrity field. Nator allowed hirself to take a breath, glancing at the Trill helmsman to see how they were doing. There were even a few lower-priority items that s/he could now address, the most pressing being taken care of by more immediate teams or being less urgent now they weren't really being shot at. Even their auxiliary reserves were beginning to fill out, speaking to the sheer power generation available to the design. Perhaps there was more merit in the dreadnought idea than s/he'd been giving it credit for lately.

Next on hir list.. the turbolift network had been stymied by what amounted to a system fault - one of the assimilated control hubs on deck 4 had been firewalled by the rest of the network. S/he shut it down, letting the network simply automatically reroute to compensate, and saw the amber lights turn green. "Turbolifts back in action," the Hermat reported, under the Captain's comm. S/he perked up as s/he heard them address hir.

"... Theurgy Ops, stand ready to receive us all. I don't care if this invasion is supposed to happen in another timeline... Let's end it before it even begins. Ives out."

True to word, shortly after the communiqué cut hir transporter operators reported that an outside link had been established. "Shields down; abductees arriving in all five transporter rooms, sirs. Triage teams en route."

[ Lt T'Less | Main Bridge | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy | Lasting Damage ] attn: @Masorin @Auctor Lucan @small craft et al

The Vulcan woman was feeling a certain amount of professional jealousy. The Versant had bested them once before, prompting Ives to trigger the Continuance Protocol in the first place, but seeing the Savi's prodigious battery turned against the Borg simply made her wish that the Theurgy had been outfit with similar graviton cannon herself. They made entertainingly short work of the Cube. The Lone Wolves and the Allegiant made quick use of the opening, taking the opportunity to make a trench run and bombard the Borg ship from within.

There's a fitting human expression about rubbing salt in the wound, I think.

~As ever, my warnings about cockiness fall on deaf ears.~

Don't be sour, hathain. We live another day.

~Look at that sensor return again, would you?~

Speaking of salt, the remains of Martin's AM cloud had finally made it through the gas and debris, and was approaching the gutted Cube. She expected that they knew it was coming - it was hardly subtle, being a white-glowing mass of gamma-emissive antibaryons as it was - and still mostly expected the Borg to put up some field defence against it. The radiation might not bother their drones while it was still outside their ship, but contact with the cloud would be deleterious for the vessel as a whole.

But there was nothing. Had they already begun a regeneration sequence? The cloud drifted closer.

Then it made contact.

The sapphire sky lit brilliant, actinic white for an instant as the better part of a metric ton of antimatter contacted the near facing of the Cube. The afterglow revealed a cross-section of the Borg deck plan as most of the outer plating was annihilated, the remainder glowing a lurid golden yellow as it tried to shuck the colossal energy load it had just absorbed. But most telling was the fact that the Cube was now drifting gently away from them; they either couldn't or wouldn't spare the energy to their engines to counteract the relatively gentle photon pressure.

"Hm," she uttered, like some assayer judging the quality of a piece of stone, and finding it wanting. She made a last check to make sure their fighters and support craft were clear, then limbered up the broadside again while the helm pulled them around. "Lieutenant, weapons free."

Every last surviving power generator, weapon hardpoint, tractor emitter, and distribution node she could detect was targeted with a randomly-assigned nadion frequency, courtesy of every single pulse phaser array with an adequate firing arc. In contrast to her earlier, laser-focused narrow bombardments, this was a broad-impact scorched-earth walking barrage. The Klingons added their own not inconsiderable firepower to the effort. Fuse-delay torpedoes from their fighter crews detonated deep within the Cube to amplify the damage done. Vast chunks of superstructure were amputated from the ship, amid clouds of smaller debris comprised of tritanium plate and evacuated drones. A growing plume of green plasma fire guttered in the nebula.

A flight of tricobalt signatures streaked into the gaping wound in the Cube, and finished its destruction. The Versant. "That was mine," she complained. To the wider bridge, she announced, "Borg Cube one, combat ineffective." She paused, then added, "For the moment." Knowing the Borg, it wouldn't pay to assume the Cube was out of it until it had been even more thoroughly dismantled. 

Only cost hundreds of lives this time, rather than thousands. My kingdom for a Versant in every engagement.

[ Cmdr Ranaan Ducote | Main Bridge | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] attn: @Auctor Lucan @chXinya @Fife @BZ @patches @Numen et al

Ducote was grateful that the crew of this ship were still able to see sense, and choose the least-bad path. Unfortunately, it seemed they were convinced that this Omega thing would detonate once activated, and the only way to do that was by manual process. No chance to switch the thing on and throw it out of an airlock. He hated choices like that. He hated situations were there was no optimal route out. He remembered his shitshow of a Command course - how he'd been utterly convinced that he had failed it after the (simulated) casualties his ship had sustained, and been completely surprised when he was issued a pass-with-merit grade and promoted into his third solid pip.

This time, the casualties could not be simulated. They weren't even his crew and still he wished it didn't have to happen.

He couldn't read the doctor, beyond registering his presence. But he was clearly upset that Wenn was looking to be the sacrificial lamb in question - which merely confirmed his initial kneejerk feeling that he shouldn't have been the one to take the device to seal the way behind them. Nicander seemed permanently upset that no one was taking him at his word, but Ranaan wasn't sure how anyone could. His submitted data would be evaluated, but that could hardly happen instantly... and he himself was thoroughly unreliable, if the parasite could not be detected but also infused the man's every word.

But then came the announcement that the ship would be taking on the survivors from the Versant, and not even the bright spectacle of the Cube's demise could hold his attention. His brain threw up several good justifications, not least of which was that he had to check on his crew after their separation, and that he was essentially a fifth wheel up here anyway. But mostly, even he had to admit that he wanted to find Blue. There was no real way he could pretend otherwise.

He didn't really mind who surmised it, either.

As a bonus, the lifts were now working.

Ducote jutted his chin to one of the goldshirts also covering Nicander. "If he twitches, nuke him." A nod in return; good enough.

The Brazilian tuned his phaser down to a more sensible level before returning the weapon to his belt, then turning for the rear of the deck. "Vael, keep me informed!" he called as he strode away, not really expecting anyone else to keep him in the loop as an outsider.

The turbolift deposited him on deck five; with a pair of transporter rooms, Ducote figured this was the likeliest place he'd find survivors from the Endeavour. Blueshirts were already jogging past him in the direction of the pads - he followed. A few officers were already coming out of the doors... none he recognised yet, and all clad in strange-looking one-pieces. He strained to see through the crowd, feeling out with his empathy for any familiar tones.

"Come on. Come on..." he muttered.
Nator 159: "I accept no responsibility for the ensign's manifest stupidity. Sir." [Show/Hide]
Ranaan Ducote: "A ship is a home; its crew a family." [Show/Hide]
T'Less: "Your odds of prevailing against us are... slim." [Show/Hide]
Valkra: "Come! We will shake the gates of Sto'Vo'Kor!" [Show/Hide]

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #87
[Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark, Executive Officer & Ens. Faye Lintah Eloi-Danvers, Communications | Bridge | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ]Attn: @chXinya @Auctor Lucan @Cosmos 

They didn't have enough speed to escape. The thought echoed in both Natalie's mind, and Faye's, though the latter shared the feelings and words with more than just the current first officer. Many of the crew, she knew, felt their stomachs bottom out. Despite the joy of seeing Captain Ives again, there was more and more mounting horror. Faye let her coal black eyes sweep across the room, pausing briefly at Dr. Nicander (his mind still a blank slate, but no longer a comfort) and...Ah...well, another one she thought, finally putting that bit together, a face to the presence she'd felt.

But then there was the burning determination of Captain Wenn that drew her attention to him, watching as the Bajoran crossed the bridge. Natalie Stark was up on her feet, face pulled into a dark frown as she too watched. The Ops Chief wanted to feel relief but there was none. None at all. Her mind flashed back to a conversation she'd had with Lt. Vanya in 'her' ready room, and the thoughts she'd had at the time. This isn't how I wanted things to happen.

For a moment, emotions caused her features to crumple. Anger, at Nicander. At the Borg. At the parasites. The Savi, though their ship might prove useful. Elation that the Versant had arrived in time, possibly. Worry and despair at the news that the couldn't simply warp away. It was deafening, the feelings that Natalie was broadcasting, and across the bridge, only a life time of Telepathic control, coupled with years of diplomatic training kept Ens. Eloi-Danvers hands from shaking.

No time for that now, Faye. The taskforce is about to hit and you've got work to do. He's making the sacrifice play. You suffered through the Kobiyashi Maru and this is part of the job, she schooled herself, as she bit her lip again. There would be marks on it from stress nibbling, from the sorrow she felt. Selfishly, she took into her a bit of that determination and surety that Wenn Cinn seemed to have infused in the sinew of his very being.

Orders needed to be given, and the Mission Ops station seemed to be abandoned. The Ensign - Henshaw, Natalie remember - had been beamed away to sickbay with an injury. She couldn't be bothered to find someone else to take the station over. Instead she moved around the status table to and punched up the comm links, relaying the orders herself.

"Mission Ops to the Allegiant and all Lone Wolves, there is no time to dock. Prepare to receive new shield harmonics and follow the Theurgy into the second aperture. Tow those who can't make it there on their own." This wasn't how any of them would want things to go down but these were the cards they'd been dealt. Natalie might be a piss poor poker player but she managed to convey calm, firm orders all the same. Never mind the way her heart pounded in her chest, racing just as fast as it could as the ship in turn raced against time, chasing the unknown.

"Before you enter, load the new shields, or you will not make it through to the other side. Please acknowledge." She waited until she got the call offs from the others and nodded, announcing to no one in particular, "They're on the way in. Harmonic adjustment package sent."

Faye heard the words but paid them little heed. Instead, she was pulling open a new communications channel - marveling at how much this ship could handle even without the heart and soul of it's AI. The frame of the ship shuddered from the firing of the soliton beam, as Faye spoke.

"Theurgy to Neg'Var and all remaining KDF ships. Be warned - we are planning to detonate a device in the aperture network. The resulting explosion will sunder subspace in the near by stellar vicinity. If you do not wish to be stranded her for the next few decades we suggest you execute a strategic withdraw. Carry the fight to the rest of the quadrant." A moment of insight, as a huge hole was blown out of the Borg cube on the screen, and then she added, "And establish a defensive perimeter around the resulting subspace dead zone. Q'pla, Chancellor. Theurgy, out."

She hoped she hadn't over stepped her bounds, but she had dealt with the Klingons on a daily basis while stationed at Khitomer. Faye had to trust her gut. It was the right call.

After it was all said and done, Natalie looked back up, eyes sweeping the bridge. They darted over to the center seat, where Cinn had been sitting. Where Ives would be shortly? Over to where Cinn was, with Nicander, the latter pleading his case all the same to the former. Given the choice to trade one or the other, Natalie knew which she'd like to get rid of. An ugly thing to think, to feel, but it was an ugly thing that had been done to her. And if that brought some sense of absolution to the man that had been Lucan Nicander, then that was all well and good.

But as her eyes moved on, settling on the back of Vanya's head, she knew it couldn't be the Doctor. They couldn't trust the snake in his gut.

The braids that were done up so intricately, showing off the pointed ears were what drew her eyes. We won't be getting you back to the Cayuga any time soon, Vanya. I'm sorry. And yet a part of her wasn't. She didn't have the time to dwell on that, or where their journey would spit them out, despite seeing the aperture rip open in space and time.

They had to survive the next few minutes.

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #88
[ Lieutenant Vanya | Bridge | Science Grotto | Deck 01 | Vector: Combined | USS Theurgy ]

Vanya’s attention was on the screen as the aperture was blown wide open and her pointed Romulan brows knit in a look that just read “Fucking Figures.” The moment didn’t last long though. Orders were being passed and Vanya glanced to the screen then to the Command crew, finally they swung over to Vivian. “Vanya!” Oh! Vivian had learned her name. It was no longer “Romulan!” A part of Vanya’s mind was pleased by that “Prepare the sensor array to fire a soliton beam on this frequency.”

Vanya nodded and turned to the console. “Aye, Commander.”Fingers flew over the interface. Calculating and re-configuring the sensor array to carry out the Lieutenant Commander’s orders. As the modifications were being fed, in, dark green eyes flickered over to the dark skinned human beside her as he worked with Tactical on the shield modifications. Returning to her on work, she fed in the last of the modifications, android quick her eyes double checked her work and then she looked to Vivian.

“Array online, ready to fire.” A flick of her fingers and she shifted control to Vivian’s panel.

Vivian fired the beam and Vanya’s eyes flickered up to see the second aperture open. A memory from the Academy filtering through her head as she remembered a briefing on the Starfleet Exploratory Division. The words left her lips as a whisper. “We cannot abandon this rabbit hole for fear of a traumatic encounter with our own culture.”  Well their own culture was headed this way at high warp, with ill intent, so through the rabbit hole it was.

As if she felt eyes on her, Vanya turned, looking over her shoulder to the XO. Finding those eyes Vanya held them for a long beat and gave a nod. The motion soft, but very clear to the other officer. She was in it till the end. Then, the Romulan slipped the XO a wink.

Could be worse. They could be facing this alone.

Vanya returned her attentions to the science grotto, least some minute observation go missed and make this entire endeavor go pear shaped.

Lieutenant Vanya - Science Officer - Zoology/XenoZoology

Lieutenant Junior Grade Zark – Security Officer – Combat Medic

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #89
[Lt. Commander Wenn Cinn | Main Bridge | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy]

With one single command, Captain Ives sealed his fate.  Not that it was theirs to decide, the Prophets had made Their will known as far as Cinn was concerned, and not even his beloved Captain would’ve made him change his mind.  The Bajoran was glad that he wasn’t going to have to fight his own crewmates to get to a shuttle, fratricide, even non-fatal, was not how he wanted to fill his last moments.

It was clear that his time as commander of the Theurgy was at an end.  Without even looking to him for confirmation, as soon as Captain Ives gave the orders the crew, regardless of ship of origin, jumped to fulfill them.  Ops and engineering performed miracles in getting the ship ready for the dive through the aperture, which science was hard at work opening up.  Stark was on the comm with Chancellor Martok so that the Klingons could evacuate.  Tactical moped up the last of the Queen’s cube before she could take them down with her.  Ducote was the only one who didn’t stay to perform his duty, as soon as Nator reported that the turbolifts were online and the Versant started beaming people over the man was out the door.  Cinn said nothing about it, only silently wishing him well that he found whoever it was he was looking for.  [Commander Wenn.]  Thea’s familiar voice beamed out of his combadge.  [Lt. zh’Wann has been beamed to the Upper Shuttle Bay and is awaiting for you there.]

With that in mind, there was one more person on the Bridge that needed help.  Nicander was pleading to go, seeking absolution.  That was not something Cinn could grant, the Prophets had spoken, Ives had agreed, and the device was waiting for him in the shuttlebay.  That didn’t mean he could leave the poor soul standing there though.  Turning to face his old friend one final time, the dark-skinned Bajoran did something that no one in their right mind would ever have done.  Stepping into arms reach, Cinn put his hand on the Câroon’s shoulder and looked him straight in the eye.  “Something I learned in the Resistance: ‘As long as you are alive, there is always hope.’  You’ve beaten that thing so far, you have the strength to beat it still.  I didn’t get a chance to tell you, but Ms. McMillan is alive.  Thea called ahead to tell us the news, but I couldn’t share it with you because of my own failings.  You’re stronger than almost everyone I know, if anyone can claw their way out of this darkness, it’s you.”

Stepping back now, Cinn took one last look around the Bridge, taking in each face that still remained among.  So many new faces replaced those from the beginning, but despite all the pain, all the arguments, all the fights, they were meshing together in a way few crews ever could.  He tried to think of something to say, but nothing came to mind.  Time was running short anyways, someone will find and play the letter he’d made years ago, that would have to suffice.  Nodding to Stark to give his final support, Cinn readied himself for his destiny.

“Nator, beam me directly to the shuttlebay.”

GM Note: Second half of this post is about to appear in Storm Glass, as a JP with ThanIda zh'Wann, and in the presence of Bellerophon susrvivors (including Hathev) and Sera vers Aldnoah in the Upper Shuttle Bay.

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #90
[ Doctor Lucan cin Nicander | Deck 01 | USS Theurgy ]
Cinn put his hand on Lucan's shoulder and looked him in the eye, the dark skin a contrast to the ashen patterns of his charred uniform jacket. The impulse that rose from the abyss was to twist that arm until the socket tore and then do the same with the Bajoran's vertebrae. The last thing Cinn would see would how he beamed out of the bridge, off to kill the Andorian and take the device from her. The stakes for the Infested were high, the Borg key to tearing down the Galaxy back to its primordial state. Yet what Cinn said...

...was impossible. Lucan felt his brow knit in consternation. How was it possible? He'd seen Heather McMillan die. Vapourised after the Host on the Versant found her, right in front of Ives. The vision had been plain, the certainty of her demise clear. Could he not trust what he saw in the blackness inside him? Was his ability just a means to manipulate him? The questions rose like bile in his throat, not able to make sense of it. Then why had he been able to help the ship against the Rotarran? Cinn said he had faith in him, that as long as he was alive there was hope, and that he believed Lucan could free himself from the parasite.

The Bajoran stepped away, and Lucan stood there, benumbed and confused. He looked down at his hands, the baseline prosthesis telling him what he'd done, and what he was still capable of, and his other being his own flesh. The malevolent impulses that churned in him grew louder, the Bajoran's departure imminent. Images flashed before Lucan's eyes, where he rammed his metal hand through the visor of the closest security guard, and then seized the rifle. He'd set it on wide dispersal, and kill everyone - Cinn included. He was too fast for them all. Then, he'd reach a console, and depressurize the Upper Shuttle Bay, making sure that the Andorian and that device was lost in the debris field. He turned to look at the security guard...

...but the Radiant had disconnected his mind from the parasite's. The fickle notions were still there, but he did not have to rely on the thing inside him to keep him alive. Therefore, he quelled the impulse, knowing that while he could have let the darkness prevail, he could oppose it. He did have a will of his own, regardless the nature of his visions.

Wenn Cinn vanished from the bridge, the light dancing over Lucan's face. His words seemed inadequate, but the man was the first to show him sympathy - recognizing him to be a man instead of a monster. Years of loneliness and doubts, always hiding his true nature. "Thank you..."

OOC: An intermediate post, since I can't post with Ives until after he's had a chat with Ziegler in an upcoming JP. I also know that Masorin and Hastata-Nerada are working on something, and I think there are a couple more coming up as well. Stay tuned! :)

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #91
[ Lt JG Salem Martin & Tyreke Okafor| Main Bridge | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ]  attn: @Hastata-Nerada @Auctor Lucan @Argyros
Watching the anti matter cloud render the cube ineffective was wonderful, watching the hundreds more that were ready to start coming out of the aperture that they couldn't close was far far less happy. He listened to the chaos around them, watching as a second aperture was opened, his first instinct was to launch a drone, but one couldn't be readied in time to even tell where it was going.

Tactical scanners were having a hard time getting a read on anything that was through the gateway, if they entered that thing he had no clue where it would make them end up, and yet they were. It was plain and simple they had no other choice. Even so the telemetry from the sensors was all over the place.

For now he worked on what he could focus on. He could focus on the firing of weapons, igniting as much of the gas around the borg aperture as possible. It wouldn't be much, but he would make sure that the borg would fly into a wall of fire.

However the readings from the sensors were in turn being directed to another console. Tyreke Okafor was busy syncing up his prepared shield frequencies with the opened apertures, and the right frequencies were now becoming apparent. His fingers flew across the screen of his console as he uploaded the proper shield data to tactical. "The shield frequencies for the proper apertures are being uploaded now." he called to Salem, as he made sure a notification came with it.

The ping from Okafor along with his voice clear across the bridge made him nod. He started to work on the modifications needed to the harmonics. He felt a shift and shudder as they took another stray hit, and winced, he watched as the cube was reduced to dust, but there were hundreds more just approaching the edge of it's aperture. "Whom ever is setting off that subspace bomb better do it quick." He said under his breath.

He didn't want to jinx it. He knew how important this was, and he buffered the shields as much as he could. "I'm firing a probe into the aperture ahead of us." He said prepping a class one probe with the shield harmonics and firing it through one of the forward facing torpedo bays. "It won't give us much, but if we can cut through the static we might get a glimpse of  the other side, sending the data back you lieutenant!"

Okafor watched the feed from the probe with baited breath. It flew into the aperture, its inorganic sensory equipment raced along the interior and observed it with utmost ease. And so it was that Tyreke was able to observe that the aperture was safely clear of Borg. With a brief exhale of relief, Tyreke turned his seat towards Salem.

"Aperture is clear!" Tyreke called out. There was nothing else to say. It was their best way out, and the probe reported the right frequency for his prepared shield harmonics... It was a way out. A way to survive.

That was good enough for Salem. Still he felt like he couldn't breath at the moment. Now was the do or die moment.

Joint Post by Hastata-Nerada & Masorin

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #92
[ Captain Anya Ziegler |  Bridge | Deck 1 | USS Cayuga ] Joint post by Arista & @Auctor Lucan  Attn: @Doc M. , Anyone else.

Without the interference from the Borg cube and with the correct frequencies, the whole process seemed to go much smoother. When the aperture opened, Ziegler breathed a sigh of relief, at least until Ensign Vass, the operations officer on duty, alerted the bridge and changed the image of the viewscreen.

The large newcomer had wrought destruction onto the borg cube, on one it’s flat sides there was a gaping hole. As if raining destruction while you blinked, a second and then a third appeared. The vessel, capable of causing such damage with ease. Who could do this to the borg? The very sensation causing a sick feeling to well up in her stomach.

“Incoming hail from unknown vessel” Vass called, bringing up a sight Anya wasn’t ready for. On the viewscreen, Captain Ives appeared - in her female form - and Thea was next to her. A bald Vulcan was seated at a console as well, but it was Jien who spoke up once the hail was answered.

[Anya,] she said, a quiet smile touching her features, the voice momentarily garbled by the connection, the image flickering.

Standing, Ziegler felt a rush of emotion seeing her old commanding officer again, though it wasn't the rush she expected. The frustration, the anger, that had been boiling behind the surface for months was gone. That had been spent through a slap to a face of an innocent bystander. For all the faults that Ziegler could have pinned on Stark, almost losing command of the Cayuga was not one of them. Now as the human watched her equal on the viewscreen, she felt a twang of regret. All that rage, that emotion, gone on someone undeserving and now, when it was needed, all Ziegler could muster was a turbulent storm of remorse and unexpected nostalgia.

"Jien..." She finally replied, still surprised at the absence of conflict she felt within. "It is unexpected but not unwelcome.

"Stark has taken me through the details." Anya stole a quick look over the others on the viewscreen. They all looked as if they had been through hell, even Thea, and she suspected that Ives was undoubtedly thinking the same. "It's hard to believe, but the truth is sometimes stranger than fiction."

On the screen, the shapeshifter continued.

[You are also familiar with the Omega Directive. We have in our possession a device that will detonate an unknown number of molecules. The invasion is pending, and we mean to detonate it, and thus destroy all the subspace tunnels. It is the only way to stop the Borg at this point.]

"You have an Omega device?" She retorted incredulously, unbelieving at the fantastical nature of the events that have unfolded.

After everything that they had been through. Ives was willing to risk all to protect the Federation, just as Anya remembered of the Captain. However, before anything else could be said, there was a call from the Ops station, interrupting the conversation. Multiple signatures were detected in the aperture and they were systematic of Borg Cubes. Time was running out, and fast.

"What's your escape plan, Captain?" Anya questioned her counterpart. "This can't be the end."

[The Theurgy will go open an aperture and go wherever it leads, and since we don't know where that will be... the Cayuga may be the only ship that can continue the mission here in Federation space... and cast the Infested into light.]

It was like a verbal gut punch. The realisation that not only was Theurgy sending themselves to an uncertain demise, but Ives was also passing the mantle of their mission onwards. In the background, there was confirmation that Theurgy was indeed opening another aperture. Anya tried to remain stoic and resolved, but she felt as if she was a small child who had just had a sword and quest thrust into her hands.

"Let us come with you." She countered, trying not to let the emotion of the situation overwhelm her. "We can travel togeth.."

[No,] said Ives, the interruption made without having to raise her voice. She shook her head, the bitterness plain. [I am sorry, Anya, as much as I would like to have you by my side, the Archeron and its fleet are inbound. This ship's sensors can see them, and they have a bearing of three-one-seven mark nine. They are about to arrive here in about two minutes. The Cayuga need to escape the shockwave at maximum warp... and make the task force turn around. The Theurgy has already alerted Martok, and the Klingons are withdrawing as well. Every second counts, but I hope to see you again... despite how long it might take until then.]

"I understand." She said, accepting her new mission. "We won't let you down."

Ziegler had been strong in her conviction. Despite burnt carpets and missing deck plates, she really would help. She just needed to be smart.

"Jien, there are officers from the Cayuga aboard Theurgy. Take care of them." She had rushed to start the fight with the Borg and now she was leaving more behind. It was almost enough to make her feel sick. Instead, she swallowed down the despair and used it to fire her resolve. "I will want them back."

[That I promise. Protect the truth, Anya. Spread it where you can. Be wary of Sankolov, however. He is one of them.] So much unsaid, with so little time. Next to Jien, Thea gave Anya a smile, before the hail ended. [Ives out.]

Those on the viewscreen disappeared, leaving over the view of the open apertures in their wake. Without the eyes upon her, Anya sank heavily into her captain's chair. She felt the weight of the obligation that Ives have placed on her. Save the ship. Save the Fleet. Spread the word, but don't trust anyone.

“Bring us about. Prepare for maximum warp.” She finally called, watching the movements on Theurgy the various support vessels. Sometime niggled at the back of her brain, and there was no way she wanted to learn the field of battle before satisfying it.

“Open a channel to Wolf 7.” Anya called to operations. Once Ensign Vass confirmed the channel was open to the Valkyrie, the captain continued.

“Wolf 07, this is Captain Ziegler.” She said by way of introduction. “I know this is unusual, but I just wanted to thank you for actions today. In real terms you saved us. 

“You may be Goldeneye, but to us, you’ll always be our guardian.” For once, Ziegler was glad to be limited to audio only communication. No faces, no judgement. With a small, sad smile, Anya finished her thoughts. “Until we meet again, safe travels. Cayuga out.”

With little else to say and no time to say it. Ziegler exhaled heavily through her nose. No one would have believed a mission to this nebula could have ended in such a way. So many gone. So many missing. As Anya watched Theurgy, quite possibly for the last time, she said a silent prayer.

“Helm, get us out of here…”

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #93
[ High Chancellor Martok, son of Urthog | Bridge | IKS Negh'Var >> IKS Vor'nak | Azure Nebula ] Attn: All
On the IKS Negh'Var, Chancellor Martok had ordered the ship to turn around and charge the cube once more, not about to limp away like some injured Targ just because the ship was heavily damaged. It might even have been destroyed, had it not been for the Theurgy warp fighters. Something Martok would remember, should he speak with Ives again. The cube's retaliation may have been fierce... but since he was still alive, Martok would not run from this foe. His word instilled bravery in his bridge crew, and they had complied - the Negh'Var aflame as it rounded on the cube once more.

"jaj vIghaj!" he had roared, for they would own the day. His fleet may have been decimated, but there were more yet alive. More of the Empire's ships to come, all having answered the call to arms against this foe. "All shi-"

The ravished hull of the Negh'Var had then shuddered, and Martok flinched at the eerie, greenish light that came from the viewscreen. Three beams cut into the cube, and his weapons officer told him about an immense, new dreadnought having arrived, and it had turned the tide of the battle once more. Martok had grinned, the identity of the ship a secondary concern, for he knew an opportunity when he saw one. "As I was saying, all ships open fire. Phantom raiders, enter the cube, and gut it from the inside!"

Evidently, the Theurgy's warp fighters had a similar idea. What followed was a glorious display of enemy annihilation - the cube disintegrating blow by blow. The remaining fleet of the Empire, the Theurgy, raiders and warp fighters, and the white axe of a dreadnought, all pooling their efforts to obliterate the enemy. Happenstance allies against a common foe? Martok did not know, and it did not matter. The Borg threat stood above any circumstance.

And when it fell asunder, Martok curled his upper lip in a triumphant sneer - the flare-lights dancing on the bridge. Behind him, his loyal crew raised a loud roar of victory. Once it subsided... the hail came.

[Theurgy to Neg'Var and all remaining KDF ships. Be warned - we are planning to detonate a device in the aperture network. The resulting explosion will sunder subspace in the near by stellar vicinity. If you do not wish to be stranded her for the next few decades we suggest you execute a strategic withdraw. Carry the fight to the rest of the quadrant, and establish a defensive perimeter around the resulting subspace dead zone. Q'pla, Chancellor. Theurgy, out.]

Martok's mien turned grim, eyes darting in thought. It would be foolish to dispute such an absurd claim. Motives for anything but the truth escaped him, but it was the sight of the Borg vanguard that settled the matter. He was no scientist, but Ziegler had told him the nature of the tunnels during that first hour of battle. If those tunnels were all destroyed, along with the Borg, then good riddence. Threats to the Empire's borders, all of it. "This is Chancellor Martok. Acknowledged. meQtaHbogh qachDaq Suv qoH neH." Only a fool fought in a burning house. "The Negh'Var to all ships, heed the female voice from the Theurgy. Stragglers will be old and frail by the time they cross the border!"

"Chancellor, this ship can't go to warp!" called one of his bridge crew, but Martok had already foreseen that problem.

"Martok to the IKS Vor'nak!" he called, and the image of it's current captain appeared on screen. "You just arrived, so you will work with my crew to evacuate the Negh'var. Command other ships to aid as needed. Give them my regards."

[Aye, Chancellor!] said the Commanding Officer of the Vorcha-class ship, General Tanas, and with the given urgency, it did not take a full minute before Martok was right there next to him. He clasped the old Klingon's arm in greeting, the smell of victory still sweet.

"There will be songs about this day," grated General Tanas, the history between them long, pre-dating the Dominion War.

"Of glorious battle... with strange allies," agreed Martok, and then assumed command. "Set a course back to the border! pIvchem Hut!" And the IKS Vor'nak was the last of the Klingon ships to depart the battlefield.

Click For Full Resolution
(Original by Kurumi Morishita)

[ The Borg Queen | Cube M-582 | Azure Nebula ]
Metal platform compromised. One limb missing. The individual once known by the name T´Less was enclosed in absolute silence. The quietude belied the sights before her eyes, however, as her remaining arm latched on to the tumbling debris. Her black, metallic irises sought the white ship, which had come to destroy Cube M-582, with no hull or shields between herself and the end of the battle. It was, however, merely the beginning. This she knew, and therefore the damage done to her current body and the loss of the cube mattered naught.

She had stayed her fire against the white ship, because like all of her cubes, sensors had detected the presence of perfection. Particle 010 had been there, an unknown quantity of molecules, and she had meant to seize it. The acquisition of the molecule and it's properties was the very reason why Federation space was a priority over many others to begin with, since boronite ore was required to stabilise the molecule. It was an ore believed to be found in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. Unfortunately, since she had stayed her hand, the white ship had attacked - utilising a weapon of graviton shear unlike which any species she'd assimilated had ever built.

So, with one arm and her feet against the smoking debris, she turned her head, her mien indifferent to the plight of her current body - sparks running over her female metal figure. Unshielded as she was, the personal forcefield generator of her body was depleted in protection against the many detonations. The radiation of the Azure Nebula was slowly eating her lifeless flesh as well, but she was unconcerned, since the Royal Protocol would recreate her from another drone in her Collective, randomly chosen in accordance to the criteria of the program. If there was no Queen found, a Queen would be created. Already, with the first cubes in sight farther down the subspace tunnel, her memories of the white ship and the Omega molecules were synced to it.

The Borg Queen's eyes were solely upon the white ship... until the Omega device suddenly vanished, only to reappear on the Federation starship Theurgy, likely via transport. Immediately, as she held on to the debris, she reached out to her drones and the cubes via the hive mind.


Only there was no confirmation made. No recipient acknowledgement. It was as if something interfered with her subspace link. The reason... was lost to her as well, the sensor readings of the newly arrived cubes not reaching her any more. There appeared to be something in the debris field around her that undermined her connection to her Collective. The data on the white ship, the new directive about Particle 010, its whereabouts and the fallout of the battle. It was all trapped, a far as she knew, in her deteriorating body.

Then, came the hailstorm of torpedoes from the white ship, and the current Queen was lost in the bright fallout.

Already, the Collective searched for its queen... and would soon execute the Royal Protocol.

OOC: All right! Any stragglers who have yet to post on the bridge of the Theurgy should do so now, because my next post will be with Jien Ives and Thea, and the end is coming soon to this Chapter, and the free-form Epilogue will begin. I will hopefully be able to post with Ives and Thea tomorrow or Monday.

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #94
[ Captain Ives | Precept-ship Versant >> USS Theurgy ]
Behind Captain Ives and Thea, who were alone upon the raised dais on the bridge of the Versant, the A.I. had raised new layers of forcefields. After having watched the Borg cube's remaining parts get obliterated by tri-cobalt torpedoes, and finished the brief conversation with Anya Ziegler, Jien turned her head to look upon the Savi that had finally managed to breach the bridge. Armoured Antes were there, along with Scions, and a mere glance told Jien that there was in-fighting among the two castes of the species. It would likely be the same on other Savi ships eventually, a revolution having started that day. Personally, however, she could not make the plights of the Savi a priority over the mission. She didn't have any solution to offer them either, and perhaps this uprising of the Antes was expected. Perhaps it was the natural development, given the way the Scions had subjugated their antecedent caste. Jien had many regrets about the development, but she would do as much as she could to - at least - spare them from being trapped in the Azure Nebula for decades.

"Are you sure you can't activate the transwarp drive for them?" she asked Thea, looking away from the chaos that Thea had warded them from, seeing how the A.I. shook her head.

"The transwarp drive requires a cool-down period of three hours between each jump, Captain. I will, however, be able to send the Versant out of the nebula at maximum warp. Despite the damages, the ship can muster Warp 9, and according to my calculations, that will be sufficient. I wonder, however, if that is wise, given the circumstances. Are you sure we can let this ship remain at large?"

Jien watched the Theurgy open a second aperture, launching a probe through the new tunnel, while the Borg were approaching fast through the first tunnel that had been opened. "The Admiral already convened with other leaders among the Scions before our insurgency, so we are already known to the Savi as a whole. Saving this ship may be a deciding factor in them judging our actions fairly, and keep them from hunting us down. It may not be the last time we encounter the Savi... but what we do now will decide how they will greet us next. I hope they might still honour the word of the Voice, despite what we had to do in order to get here."

"Aye Captain," said Thea, inclining her head, "I'm ready to transport you back to my Main Bridge. This interface will be with you before my hull pass through that aperture. I will make sure the Savi don't take back command here, cancel the warp jump, and attack us before we are safe."

"Thank you," said Jien, seeing that the time was nigh, "Energise."

In a shimmer of light, Captain Ives appeared on the bridge, standing in front of the CONN and Ops stations. With a quick glance towards the viewscreen, she rounded on the bridge crew. If anyone announced her presence, she didn't hear it, instead setting her steps towards the command chair. "Is Wenn Cinn's shuttle deployed?" she asked, her voice tight because she still didn't like the situation forced upon them, and allowing the Prophets to have it their way.

"Yes, Captain," said Nicander, standing there with two armed guards close to him, and the Doctor sounded as bitter as Jien felt.

"If there are any fighters that need to be towed, do it. I am not leaving anyone else behind here," she said, and took her seat. Momentarily, she looked around, wondering where Carrigan Trent was. Right then, she did not want to know, whatever his fate being would just serve as a distraction. She made eye-contact with Stark, inclined her head to the young woman in acknowledgement that she was the acting XO at the moment, and then returned her attention to the aperture directly ahead. She did not waste any thought on everything that she'd endured since last she'd been on the bridge, much less what the crew had been through. "Mister Veradin, take us through, and we don't want to be in the tunnel when the Omega device is activated."

Seconds later, just before the aperture would swallow their ravaged ship, there was another shimmer of light, and Thea appeared on the bridge, standing next to the command chair with her positronic brain in her hands. "The Versant's warp drive is powering up. The Savi will be gone in ten seconds."

"Well done, Thea." Jien oaken eyes were on the sensors, showing the shuttle in their wake, everything riding on the next minute.

OOC: While posting is free here, I need one in particular from @Argyros , followed by @Arista. Then, lastly, @chXinya . Stay tuned! :)

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #95
 [ Lt. JG Derik Veradin | Main Bridge | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @All
"Mister Veradin, take us through, and we don't want to be in the tunnel when the Omega device is activated." The returned Captain Ives ordered.

"Aye Captain." Derik finished their parabolic arc, the Theurgy's bow aligned with the second aperture. "All hands," He announced, "Brace for entry." The engines flared, accelerating to maximum sustainable velocity. The hull began to shake as they were pulled into the subspace tunnel, the eerie green the Borg so loved, filling the viewscreen. The tunnel molded to just bigger than the ship. Adaptable technology these tunnels are. Creepier still. He fell back into his training, keeping one eye on the tunnel walls and the other shifting between the viewscreen and his readouts.

Navigating the tunnels was difficult at best, crazy at worst. The Trill tried to use their sensors and the probe sent ahead of them to find a way through. Yet the tunnels arced and changed so fast it was hard to keep track of where they were headed. Without a clear path, Veradin's course was erratic, randomly chosen at the behest of his gut feelings. Derik trusted his instincts as a pilot, hoping they would lead them to a safe harbor.

Another prayer to gods he didn't believe in just for good measure.


Because every tiny advantage helps. And if someone answers? Big Help.

Something was wrong however.... the tunnels were...shifting.... collapsing. The Omega Device couldn't have been detonated, yet right? He glanced at his sensors. No sign of subspace instability. The hell? "Shit." Derik muttered under his breath.

It had to be something else, and his best guess was that, whoever built the tunnels likely had some kind of navigation system. Some kind of technology that would sustain the tunnel around the mass of the ship. At that point, he did not know if the ship would make it through before the integrity of the tunnel was compromised. He did not waste his breath on saying something. The sensors were there for others to look at too. He had to find the exit at the end, and fast. That was his task.

His sensors pinged a path, a route out. Fuck it. Their direction shifted as Derik keyed in a new course. They needed out fast, for better or worse.

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #96
[ Captain Ives | Main Bridge | Deck 01 | USS Theurgy ]
While the Theurgy danced its way through the twisting tunnel at a break-neck speed, Captain Ives remained seated in her chair - hands curling hard around the armrests. The inertial dampeners were no longer at peak efficiency, so they didn't quite compensate for the sharper turns that Veradin was making. There were shouts about the integrity of some systems, the stress of the subspace tunnel flying causing the dorsal-port nacelle to flicker on- and offline.

"Ignore it, Veradin. Maintain focus," she said, loudly enough to override the din on the bridge. Of course she felt fear claw its way up her spine, for no one present knew the nature of the tunnel - at least as far as she was aware - and it was anyone's guess what may happen if they happened to hit the walls. Best case scenario, they would appear somewhere along the path towards the destination, and worst case was that the subspace to real space transition would pulverise the ship. Jien slowly rose to her feet, while the shimmering gullet they descended into didn't seem to have an ending. "Steady as she goes... Just get us through."

There was no way of knowing when Wenn Cinn would activate the Omega device. Any moment could be their last.

On the sensors, there was no sign of the tunnel's end, but Jien saw the Lone Wolves struggling to keep up, and to keep themselves from hitting the shifting and twisting walls. The Allegiant was there as well, towing a fighter through it all. In fact, some of the warp fighters were towing their fellow wolves as well. Somehow, it seemed like the tunnel grew more narrow the farther they went, and suddenly, the size of Thea's hull became a real issue. Jien found herself holding her breath, but said no more as she did not care to disrupt their helmsman's concentration. At that point, the bridge had grown completely silent, aside from the groaning reverberations of their harried ship - each new banking and roll seeming final.

They were past the point of no return, with no means to go back whence they came. They had no option than to continue forward, and to make it through before Cinn activated the device. Knowing how powerful the Omega molecule was, the shockwave would reach them and tear the tunnel apart. If the shields didn't fail them, and the nature of the tunnel didn't kill them, it was certain that the tunnel would collapse upon itself, and they would all suffer a catastrophic transition into real space, or just cease to exist. In all honesty, it didn't matter. There was but one way to survive, and that was to reach the end...

A minute passed, the number of times the Theurgy almost struck one of the walls far too many to count. It seemed that it would continue forever, shrinking to the point where they no longer fit, and the saucer's edges would tear.

And then, suddenly, the sensors were blank.

For a second, Jien thought the worst had befallen them. That there was no guidance for Derik to follow, no marked route ahead, and Jien's eyes widened, fearing that the final moment had come - the tunnel a dead end.

Yet as it were, the Theurgy was enveloped in quiet darkness. It took a few moments for the eyes to adjust, but then... there were stars out there. We're through... After almost a week in the Azure Nebula, normal space seemed so unfamiliar. That was when Jien let out her bated breath, and delayed her order until the Lone Wolves and the Allegiant joined them.

"Well done, Mister Veradin. Now, clear away from the aperture," she ordered - the opening still gaping wide to the aft, and they could not afford being caught in front of it. She threw a quick glance towards the navigation readings, but they were still re-calibrating after entering real space. They had no means of knowing where they were yet, but she knew one thing for certain.

There was only a single shuttle between the Borg and the unknowing Federation - one resurrected man sacrificed to save billions.

OOC: This is it, everyone! This next post is your last one in this thread! Make it count, for the Epilogue will begin with the Lone Wolves and the Allegiant all docking, and allowing for any kind of closure you guys want to write for your characters in this Episode! :)

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #97
[ Captain Anya Ziegler |  Bridge | Deck 1 | USS Cayuga ] Attn: @Auctor Lucan, Anyone else.

Feeling the tell-tale thrum of the engines reverberating through the deck plates, Anya Ziegler looked back over the bridge once more. It was starting to get to the point that the Captain wondered if the ship would ever recover from its traumas. Holes and burns from both Asurian and Starfleet weapons fire marked the walls. A burnt section of carpet outlined the remains of the EPS fire. Shaken crew clung onto consoles as if for dear life. They were tired. Ziegler felt it too. Inside her, there was a small part that wanted to give it all up. To slink off to a repair facility, perhaps in orbit of Risa, and just try to forget.

Anya couldn’t do that. She had a promise to Ives, but more importantly she had made a promise to herself. Hold yourself to a higher standard than which you judge others, she had told herself. That, alongside her oath as Captain, meant she couldn’t just quit when things got tough. Besides, she still had crewmen on Theurgy. Some by choice, like Martin, and others who were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Others that were caught in the wrong place were those in Task Force Archeron. Sankolov could not be trusted. Ives had warned as much, but those working under the Admiral? Most likely they were good Starfleet officers just following orders. For hundreds of years people have argued the suitability of ‘just following orders’ as a defence for taking actions that would otherwise have been deemed inhumane. Anya had taken part in such debates since the academy. All she knew is that, whether they were all infected by parasites or just one, they wore the uniform. That uniform meant they at least deserved a chance to be saved.

“Open a direct channel to all the ships in Task Force Archeron. Priority one.” Ziegler ordered. At this moment, she needed to be careful. Anya had promised to take up the mantle of spreading the truth, but there was no logical sense in immediately declaring themselves fugitives. With Cayuga in its current state. They would need access to Starfleet repairs and provisions. That meant the Captain had only one real choice. To let the other ships know what was going on, but to omit certain truths.

“This is Captain Anya Ziegler of the USS Cayuga. You must evacuate the area immediately. We encountered a Borg cube and a network of transwarp apertures. The ship has sustained heavy damage, but the cube has been destroyed using the technology of a race called ‘The Savi’. They also have possession of a device which falls in under the Omega Directive. This device will be used to close all the apertures halting an impending Borg invasion, but the resulting explosion will destroy any vessel in the local area. To clear the shockwave, you must be travelling no slower than warp 9 and be on a heading of three-one-seven mark nine.”

Ziegler tried to be as clear and concise as she could with the limitations she imposed on herself. She just hoped it was enough.

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #98
[Lt. Commander Wenn Cinn | Shuttle 3 | Azure Nebula ]

As soon as the shuttle cleared Theurgy's main shuttle bay, Cinn pointed it at the goal: one aperture hanging in the blue-lit gas like an ominous wound.  Instead of gunning for it though, he cleared the debris field and shut down the engines, killing as much of the power output as he could.  Inertia was now in control, his momentum drifting the small craft towards destiny.  Time was of the essence, but the timing had to be right.  If he rushed to the subspace tear, Theurgy and the others would still be in range.  Too late, and some of the Borg will have escaped the blast zone.  On a more practical note, even after reviewing the directions, Cinn needed to focus on the small ball sitting in his lap, he couldn't work both it and the shuttle at the same time.

With the cockpit mostly dark, Cinn looked out of the canopy in silence for a moment, watching as the last of the Klingon ships jumped to warp with the familiar relativistic blur as each vessel punched through the warp barrier.  The Bajoran wondered which one Chancellor Martok had claimed as his own, wishing he could send a message and thanking him for his help with the Queen.  Their first meeting was far from cordial, too many died on both sides, but Cinn wished the man well nonetheless.  The Chancellor was a Klingon, battle was what he lived for, and he held on to his honor when he could've abandoned it in his quest for revenge.  Worf was right to name Martok as a Chancellor.

Hanging in space like the weapon it was, the white hull of the Versant was like a warning, an example of the dangers brought to the cosmos by those who had succumbed to their arrogance.  Cinn had no idea what happened on that ship after they appeared out of nowhere and kidnapped Captain Ives, Thea, and many of his crewmates.  The specter of their presence drove one of the best officers he'd ever met to the brink of despair, threw everything into chaos.  He couldn't help but wonder just why they acted the way they did, but that was a mystery for someone else.  At least he could draw comfort in knowing that those who were taken were back, but what scars did they carry?  Finally, the rear of the massive ship flared white and it disappeared from view, off to only the Prophets knew where.

The time grew short, and the aperture was starting to grow large on the viewscreen. Setting the Savi datapad in front of him so that he could see, Cinn's dark hands started to work the ball.  Small panels slid and clicked into place, allowing different hemispheres and spherical sections to rotate, opening up new paths.  It was a marvelous puzzle he thought, and despite the situation he was actually enjoying himself. The simplicity of it belied the danger within though.  As his hands worked, Cinn couldn't help but appreciate the irony of his current situation.  He came to this part of the Azure Nebula to cancel an apocalypse, but now he was going to cause a different one.

Shortly past the halfway point, the comm system chimed, reporting an incoming message.  Glancing up, his eyebrows rose at the notice of a recorded message sent by Ida.  Cinn looked out to see Theurgy vanishing from sight in the second aperture, shields shimmering under the radiation barrage.  Knowing there wouldn't be another chance to see his deputy's final thoughts, Cinn continued to work on the device, but called up the recorded message.

[Cinn,] said Ida on the screen, her blue skin dark around her eyes. It looked like she was standing in the shuttle bay still, using one of the consoles to make the recording. [I couldn't say what I wanted to you in person. By Lor'Vela, not because time was short... but since I feared I would not bear through it. The officer in me would have demanded that you'd stay, and convinced you - somehow - that you still had an obligation to protect this crew. I wanted to throw a tantrum and strike you down, and keep you from leaving us again.]

Ida looked away on the monitor, a grimace passing over her face before she could continue. Tears were running from her eyes at last. [But as I w-will ever be your Deputy, I know you give your life for us all. Billions will live on, and too few will know it was because of you. Nonetheless, I still h-have to tell you how much your absence will be felt. Wherever your accursed Prophets m-may take you, know that you w-will always remain with us. I will do m-my utmost to protect this crew in your stead, and to do better than I did last w-when you were gone. No one can ever replace you.] The transmission was failing as the Theurgy passed through the tunnel, but the hurt was plain in his Deputy's face. [I will m-miss you.]

Tears filled Cinn's eyes, bluring Ida's blue countenance frozen on the screen.  He didn't know what to say, and there was no way to answer.  A green light bathed the entire cockpit in a sickening pallor.  Looking up, a Borg cube hung in space above him, a sensor beam sweeping the area around it.  Something in that beam was reacting with the nebula gas, fluorescing green as it passed through.  Several more cubes obscured the aperture as they approached the terminus, black shapes heralding the end of everything.  Time was short, and Cinn was ready.  He wiped his eyes clear and steeled himself.

Quickly, the sphere twisted with the final steps, the locks opening one by one.  In just a few seconds one final release was exposed: a hexagonal button flashed red, begging to be pressed.  Instantly, the green beam returned, bracketing the shuttle and nearly blinding Cinn.  [Particle 010 identified. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.]

"Its all yours." Cinn retorted, holding the sphere up as if the Collective was on the comm screen instead of remaining its faceless conglomeration of voices.  "Computer, execute!"  Surging to life, the impulse engines powered to 110% and brought the shuttle onto the preprogrammed course, the dampeners struggling to keep up.  Fighting to get his lungs to fill thanks to the acceleration, Dark flesh held onto the sphere with a death grip.  Tractor beams tried to catch the shuttle but it was too fast. As soon as it crossed the terminus the shuttle was safe from the cube, at least for the moment.  Dozens more were in front of it, already alerted to the perfection heading right for them.

Unshielded, radiation cooked the Bajoran inside the duranium shell.  His flesh sizzled as his dark skin reacted to the onslaught, the DNA breaking apart.  His vision blurred as his corneas clouded over, but he didn't need them anymore.  In his eye Cinn saw his mother in her prime, arms extended for the hug that she'd always craved when he was a child.

With one reflexive motion, Wenn Cinn's thumb pushed just half a centimeter and red turned to yellow.  Dropping the sphere, both halves fell away from each other to expose a dodecahedral light-pattern in the air, a blue-white light shining from within. Then, for a few seconds, it became a perfect sphere of light with impossible geometric shapes inside it - twisting around the axis. It lasted no longer, before the light turned to all-consuming fire, and enveloped everything.

The Wenn did not see this. For him, his world had turned pure white, and he was too busy greeting all those who were waiting for him in the Celestial Temple.

Re: Chapter 05: The Battle of the Apertures [ Day 06 | 1005 hrs. ]

Reply #99
[ Admiral Sankolov | Main Bridge | Deck 01 | USS Archeron ]
Spearheading its task force, the Archeron sped towards the heart of the Azure Nebula.

Admiral Sankolov sat in the commanding officer's chair, his visage grim while he listened to the officers around him on the Odyssey-class bridge. At one point during the last hour, one of his fleet's scouting ships had picked up on a full-scale battle being fought, and had immediately returned to the Archeron with the coordinates. Klingon ships, the sensors had said, and Sankolov had given the order. Thus, the fleet was bound there, and due to arrive within minutes. While he didn't reveal much to his senior staff, the Admiral knew quite well what battle it was... and what the outcome would surely be.

Sankolov had been informed, three days earlier, that Martok's son had been lost in an engagement with the Theurgy, and Starfleet Command's request for aid had been answered at long last. When the Empire replied, the fate of the Hakkarl had subsequently informed Sankolov that the Theurgy was indeed hiding in the Azure Nebula, and had deployed all of the ships at his disposal to enter it - beginning the search that had finally yielded the contact with the renegade ship that morning. The First Minister and Ark Royal - along with half of the Archeron fleet - had already been searching the nebula since the battle at Starbase 84. A single probe with a message had come from them, and while Sankolov had deleted the message in the probe, saying it was compromised, he had known their fate - lost as they were to the Borg Queen's first incursion. He could, of course, not allow any other Commanding Officers in the task force learn about the Borg presence.

The Admiral had held high hopes for that first encounter with the Borg, that a Host on the First Minister might get herself assimilated. Unfortunately, that had not been the case - the abyss festering inside Sankolov revealing how the Host's body had been destroyed before then during the battle. Therefore, all hopes lay in himself or some other Host being assimilated instead... so that the fate of the Galaxy might be sealed. He knew of one Host on the Rotarran - or whatever ship Chancellor Martok might use - yet only a few minutes past, when Sankolov had closed his eyes to gaze into the blackness, to determine a successful assimilation, he had learned how even that Host must have been destroyed before assimilation.

"Admiral, an priority one hail from an approaching Federation starship. It's the USS Cayuga! She's heading from the battle, hailing all the ships!"

Sankolov reserved judgement, accepting the hail with a gesture since he knew other Captains in the task force would.

[This is Captain Anya Ziegler of the USS Cayuga. You must evacuate the area immediately. We encountered a Borg cube and a network of transwarp apertures. The ship has sustained heavy damage, but the cube has been destroyed using the technology of a race called 'The Savi'. They also have possession of a device which falls in under the Omega Directive. This device will be used to close all the apertures halting an impending Borg invasion, but the resulting explosion will destroy any vessel in the local area. To clear the shockwave, you must be travelling no slower than warp 9 and be on a heading of three-one-seven mark nine.]

During the message, Sankolov had closed his eyes anew, searching for a Host on-site of this battle. There were two Scion hosts present, but they were in no location to determine anything about the battle - appearing as if they fought their antecedent caste aboard the Versant. Searching further, he found the troublesome one aboard the Theurgy - the irksome Host that had resisted yet served them for years. But through his eyes... Sankolov could barely see anything. There had been Radiant involvement, and it was exceedingly hard to determine what that Host was seeing. The bridge of the Theurgy? The viewscreen... showing some kind of tunnel with shimmering walls. Were they escaping through the Caeliar subspace tunnels?

"Admiral! What should we do?" asked the Tactical Officer, and Sankolov's eyes snapped open - his scowl apparent. Omega Directive, he thought, remembering one of the Cycles shown to him before, where such a device...

"Turn us around, and do what she says." Indeed, as much as it vexed him, it was not entirely implausible that Ziegler spoke the truth. He did believe, however, that she was omitting things. How could she not, when she'd been at Ives side before the Theurgy was stolen at Earth? If that crew on the Cayuga had listened to Ives, then they were all a liability, and he would have to deal with them somehow. "Now, Lieutenant. Spread the word."

"Aye, Admiral. Archeron to all ships, new course: three-one-seven mark nine. Maximum warp! Engage!"

Oh, how Sankolov wished to relent to the raw emotions that seethed inside, and lash out towards the present skin-puppets. I wished to rend their flesh and savage their insides. Just like the Niga virus, the Borg had been key, and yet if the device was activated, it would delay the utter corruption of the Galaxy, and change the initial turns of the pending galactic war. Sankolov's hands curled into fists upon his armrests, and he ground his teeth shut. How could this Cycle be so different from those that came before? No other time had the Borg invasion been stopped. Not even before their involvement had the Queen been denied.

"Should I reply to the Cayuga as well?" asked his officer.

"Yes... tell her this," he said, and a small smile found its way into his face, creasing the the strata of controlled hatred, "that I look forward to seeing Captain Ziegler personally, and learn from her directly what happened in this battle."

No more had they set the new course and accelerated to their highest warp factors, when all the remaining ships in the task force saw the detonation on their aft sensors. Gasps and visual magnifications were made. It was spreading, the shockwave immense, and it tore up subspace as it went. Any sirillium deposits in their wake were ignited as well, and the scale of the blast was unprecedented in all of recorded Federation history. It had the bridge crew in awe...

...while Sankolov rose from his chair, and left the bridge - the viewscreen lighting up behind him.

He could not let the Host body's public image become compromised in a fit of rage, killing all the present officers.

OOC: I know that people are about to post with their characters on the Theurgy bridge, so I am giving you two days at most to get those posts up, the last day being Wednesday 2019-04-27. Then I will post one last time with Ives (et al.) in this thread and lock it.

In the interest of allowing for further development for all characters, however, my next couple of posts will be open up the Epilogue ahead of time. Stay tuned!

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