Starfleet Headquarters. Monday morning, 1030HRS.
The sun was shining brightly. Weather reports had indicated only slight showers in the evening. He took a look outside and took in the sight of the well-groomed grounds of the Academy. Well no matter he thought. He’d been indoors most of the time. Admiral Hayes was pacing up and down his office. He walked to the mirror and made sure his uniform was neat and tidy. He straightened his shoulders, hands behind his back and studied his ‘Admiral’ form and was pleased with what he saw. He sat down and read the reports from his engineers. He smiled. Magnus’s new calculations were working, the second prototype of the ablative hull armour was working to specifications. A beep sounded and he turned towards the door. He had been expecting a visitor.
“Sir, Lt. Commander Tuvok is here.” Martha announced over the comm.
“Good, send him in.” He instructed. The door slid open and Tuvok was standing there, his hands behind his back and his face, a stark expression. He couldn’t tell if Tuvok was annoyed at being summoned from Jupiter Station and decided not to press the matter further. In fact Tuvok had been summoned three weeks earlier and during that time, he had been a guest lecturer at the Academy.
“Good morning Commander. Please have a seat.” Admiral Hayes gestured. “A drink?” He asked as he proceeded to the replicator.
“Good morning Admiral..” Tuvok said as he sat down. “..A drink would not be necessary.” Tuvok said matter-of-factly.
Just as well he thought. Admiral Hayes stopped and proceeded to sit down at his desk. He punched up a briefing screen.
“I believe you have heard of the Maquis?” Admiral Hayes asked seriously, twiddling his thumbs. He looked at the Vulcan intently.
The Vulcan nodded and gave his response.
“Suffice to say, the Maquis are a renegade group consisting of various Federation indivuals, ex-Starfleet officers and a number of Alpha Quadrant species. They operate in a region of space known as “The Badlands”. Their hatred towards the Cardassians is… well-documented. Logic dictates that they will fail in their attempts to..” Tuvok droned on in his usual Vulcan way.
I think I’ve had enough of this, let’s just get straight to the point he thought. Admiral Hayes interrupted him and decided to continue with the briefing instead.
“And we want you to infiltrate the organization.” Admiral Hayes said. He expected the Vulcan to display a reaction of being stunned but was disappointed. Tuvok just sat there with the same stark expression, this time with a raised brow.
The Federation science vessel buckled and shook violently. Annika grabbed the nearest console to steady herself. She had been working in the Stellar Cartography lab, recalibrating the deep space imaging system and Astrometrics sensor resolution when the incident occurred. She had taken it upon herself to try out her new Astrometric sensor calculations that would extend the vessel’s scan range an extra five light years.
The Nebula class ship shook again, this time a bit violently. Annika was knocked off her feet. And she fell on her backside. Oww… she rubbed her behind tenderly and bit her lip.
“Cadet Hansen report.” The Captain demanded. Over the comm., she heard the voices of the other bridge crew. They sounded panicky as they delivered situational reports to the Captain.
Annika stood up and quickly walked over to her station. She pressed a few buttons into her console. The display showed the analysis of what was happening. It was not encouraging. She breathed in deeply and let it all out.
“Captain, we have entered a region of space that is saturated with Verteron particles.” She said quickly and was suddenly distracted by another sound emanating from the console. She quickly pressed a few more buttons, “Sensors have detected a wormhole approximately point two light years from our position. I believe it is the source of these particles.” Annika said, she closed her eyes for a second to remember what she had learnt about Verteron particles and the realization came to her. She immediately knew the dangers.
“Captain, I suggest we leave the area immedi.. ” The ship shook and buckled again, more violently then before. She heard a whirring sound downplaying as if the power had been cut and she felt the ship stop moving due to the inertial dampeners malfunctioning. It’s not my fault she thought. Or is it? She hoped that the former was true.
“Cadet Hansen, report to the bridge immediately.” The Captain ordered.
“On my way Captain.” Annika responded and glanced at her Bolian colleague. Crewman Keski had been assisting her in the recalibrations.
“Take over here.” Annika said quickly and patted Keski on his shoulder. Keski acknowledged with a nod.
She exited the lab and quickly proceeded towards the nearest turbolift. She saw various crewmembers going about their tasks hurriedly but seemingly unaffected by what was happening. They had no idea of the danger the ship was in. As she hurried to the turbolift, she saw a familiar face amongst them.
“Tina, what are you doing here?” She was surprised to see Tina.
“Well, I guess we’re in this together Anni. Joan and I swapped. No time to explain. I need to get to engineering. We’ve lost propulsion to the engines. And the magnetic constrictors are losing integrity. If I don’t get down there, the warp core will breach.” Tina said hurriedly.
“Good luck Tina, I’ve been summoned to the Bridge.” Annika said quickly. Annika and Tina parted ways and quickly proceeded towards their own destination. Annika entered the turbolift quickly.
“Bridge.” Annika commanded . When she reached the bridge, she saw that Captain Janeway was waiting for her. She looked back at her.
“Cadet, report.” She commanded.
Annika walked quickly to the science station and punched up a screen. She proceeded to present the situation they were in.
“Captain. The Verteron particles have damaged the ship’s warp engines and as well as the impulse engines.” Annika said. The Captain looked on as if she had heard all of it before.
Another Cadet manning the helm concurred with Annika’s analysis. “Captain, we are dead in the water.” And he entered a few commands. “No response from all sublight engines.” He turned to face the Captain. The Captain was looking intently at the viewscreen. Without turning to face Annika, she said,
“A wormhole emitting Verteron particles.. and why didn’t the sensors pick it up sooner? We could have avoided this region of space if we knew earlier. Did you know that Verteron particles can breach a warp core?” The Captain said obviously unhappy that one of her crew had not done her part.
Annika looked on nervously. Damn it. She recalled the things what she had done earlier in the Stellar Cartography lab. That must have been it.
“Captain. I apologize. I was recalibrating the Astrometric sensors and the deep space imaging system earlier. That is probably the reason why the sensors were unable to detect the wormhole.” Annika said. She was angry with herself for making such a silly mistake. She knew she should have done the recalibrations one system at a time but instead had worked on both of them simultaneously. If she had left one of them fully active, they could have avoided this region of space.
“Warning. Verteron particles have been detected in the Warp Core Intermix Chamber. Warp Core breach imminent.” The computer said.
“Now see what has happened Cadet Hansen? Even if engineering managed to shutdown the Warp Core, the Verteron particles would be almost impossible to flush. It would require weeks of work in a dry dock.” Captain Janeway said strictly, her arms folded.
“Captain, we have to abandon ship.” Cadet Tomas said. Captain Janeway looked at her First Officer. Or rather her First Officer in training. She just stood there, her arms still folded.
“No Cadet Tomas, let’s just sit here and wait. I’ve never experienced a warp core breach.. in person.” Captain Janeway said and then turned to look at the view screen with the wormhole displayed on it.
“Engineering to bridge.”
“Report Cadet.” Janeway commanded but this time without conviction, like she had given up. Annika continued working on her station, feverously entering commands. The results displayed were less than encouraging. There must be something she can do, some way to save to save the ship. But what could she do she thought. She was just a junior science officer and she knew very little about engineering. Perhaps Tina could give her a crash course after this.
“Captain. The magnetic constrictors are failing. I need to eject the warp core if we are going to save the ship.” Tina’s voice said over the bridge comm. system.
“No Cadet. Leave the core alone.”
“But Captain!” Tina continued and tried to explain the consequence of her command decision, which was actually pretty obvious.
“Do as you are ordered Cadet.” The Captain immediately cut the channel. She sat down in her Captain’s chair and crossed legs. She laid her head back and closed her eyes, awaiting the inevitable.
“Warp Core breach in 10, 9, 8..” the computer starting counting down. The Captain just sat there. Annika, Tomas and the other bridge crew looked at each other. They shrugged their shoulders. Why is the Captain acting like this she thought. Was she upset about something? What was she trying to prove?
Annika stared in disbelief, “Captain! We have to save the ship! Please!” Her pleas had fallen on deaf ears. Captain Janeway drummed her fingers on the chair’s armrest.
“3.. 2.. 1.. Warp core breach is in progress.. Simulation terminated. Your vessel has been destroyed. ” The Computer announced.
Annika looked on as the bridge dematerialized. She saw Tina in the far corner, Tomas and a number of other cadets in random places throughout the holoprojection room. Captain Janeway took one glance at them and exited the room.
The other cadets didn’t seem to know what had happened. They heard the conducting officer over the comm. announcing the end of the exercise.
“All right. Class is dismissed. Each of you will have your performance closely examined and graded. The weightage for this exercise is thirty percent of the course subject matter in which you acted as in the simulation. For instance, Command, Engineering, Sciences, Medical and so on and so forth. Good luck.” And the announcement ended.
Outside, they discussed what had transpired.
“Hey Annika, it wasn’t your fault you know.” Tomas pointed out sarcastically.
“Why? What did she do?” Tina asked dubious then looked to Annika,”..What did you do Anni?” She continued. She couldn’t believe that it was Annika’s fault.
Annika sighed and shrugged her shoulders. She started explaining,
“Er, I was just running a routine recalibration of the sensor pallets. That was all.. but I think I might have compromised the systems and the safety of the ship.” She winced guiltily and scratched her head.
“Compromised? How so?” Tina asked incredulous. Tomas offered to answer the question.
“Apparently our Anni here decided to recalibrate the sensors and the deep space imaging system at the SAME time. Therefore, those systems were operating at less than optimal efficiency and we didn’t detect the Verteron wormhole until it was too late. Anni, you should have known better, Starfleet protocol states that during a sensor recalibration, at least one sensor system should be fully active at all ti..” Tomas droned on, sounding like a record.
“Shut up Tomas. No need to antagonize me any further. And why are you here still talking to me?” Annika frowned. Tomas raised his hands in resignation.
“Tomas, it was my fault, I couldn’t stop the warp core breach.” Tina offered. Annika looked at her friend, thankful for her input.
“Hey, don’t kill the messenger. And I’ll bet that Starfleet would have a thing or two to say about the simulation.” Tomas said matter-of-factly and walked away.
“Geez Anni. You still angry with him?” Tina frowned slightly, arms akimbo. “That was a long time ago Anni.”
Annika couldn’t believe it. She thought perhaps Tina would have done it differently if Tomas were with her at the picnic instead.
“Yes I’m still angry Tina.” Annika said angrily. She was actually angry with herself more than she was with Tomas.
“Oh I’m sorry Anni.” Tina looked at the chronometer. “C’mon, lets go. Joan must be waiting for us. Let’s ask how she fared.” They had totally forgotten about Captain Janeway and proceeded to the mess hall to meet with Joan.
Meanwhile, somewhere in Starfleet Headquarters.
Erin was busily planning her lesson plan when she received an incoming transmission. She ignored it for a while hoping it would go away. But the insistent beeping was becoming irritating. Ahh, maybe Magnus wants me to have lunch with her. She answered it. It was a face she hadn’t seen for a long time.
“Irene! How are you?” She asked. It was totally unexpected, she didn’t know what to say. The both of them had not kept in touch for a long time.
“Erin. Is that all you can say to your sister?” Irene Hansen smiled.
“So sis, why are you calling?” Erin asked, studying her sister. Oh my, she thought. It has been a very long time. I don’t recall her having that many wrinkles. Erin reached up with hand and tentatively touched her own face.
Her sister continued. “Oh, just wanted to see how you were doing. How are Magnus and little Annika?”
Erin quickly thought about what she wanted to say, “Magnus is fine. And so is Anni..” And she thought about it a little more. “..Irene, why don’t you come to San Francisco this weekend. Anni’s having a small gathering. It’s her personal pre-graduation party. I’m sure she’ll be happy to see you.”
Her sister was surprised at the unexpected invitation.
“Why Erin, I’ll be there first thing this Friday. And perhaps I’ll bake Anni’s favourite New York cheesecake.” Irene said happily.
“Why? We have replicators for that. And besides, she’s been watching her diet of late.”
“Come now Erin. Nothing beats good old fashion baking. And it doesn’t hurt to indulge once in a while. Well, I have to go. I look forward to meeting the family.” Irene said beaming with pride. And the transmission ended.
‘Beep beep’. She looked up. It was already 3:00PM. Already? How many more lectures do I have to do? She brought up her schedule for the day and heaved a sigh of relief. It was the last one. She quickly stood in front of her mirror and adjusted her tunic. Well, she didn’t need to touchup. Her appearance was presentable. With a last look at her office, she exited.
Magnus was in his office. The meeting with Chief O’Hara had come and gone just like that. It was his 5th meeting with the Chief in the same week. Couldn’t he just figure it out for himself? Magnus thought he should write a full commentary on his work and give it to the man. He tapped his comm. badge.
“Marla, anymore?” He asked tiredly. He just wanted to have some time for himself for once.
“Emm, let me check Professor. Nope. You’re free for the rest of the afternoon.”
“Thanks Marla. Perhaps you’d like to take the rest of the afternoon off. I can manage myself.” Magnus was surprised at his own generosity. It was very rare.
“Why thank you sir. Is there anything else you’d want me to do before I go?” Marla asked. There was a tone of hope in her voice. Hope that he didn’t have any last tasks for her.
“No Marla. You may go. And give my regards to your family.” Magnus said, shocked again.
“Yes Professor. Thank you.”
Magnus thought. What’s happening? Maybe I’m just getting old. He made a note to meet with Henderson. Find out what was wrong with him. He pressed a few commands on his console. He intended to continue working on his infinity modulating weapon. He closed his eyes for a while to clear his thoughts. Then he heard a familiar voice. It was Henderson’s. He was saying something. It sounded familiar. Yes, yes. I remember. I was at Henderson’s office a month ago. His voice was like an echo and it kept repeating.. and repeating.. same words over and over..
“It’s a temporary solution. She won’t have dreams for a month at most. You may use it as often as necessary. For her entire lifetime if need be but you’ll have to tell her eventually Magnus.”
“For her entire lifetime if need be but you’ll have to tell her eventually Magnus.”
“you’ll have to tell her eventually Magnus.”
“tell her eventually..”
Magnus woke up startled. He looked at the chronometer. He had dozed off for half an hour. He suddenly realized what he had to do but he didn’t know how to go about doing it. He had to be discreet. He didn’t know how she would react if he just bluntly told her. She might break down emotionally.. He clenched his fist. Damn it! How am I going to tell her! He had put it off far too long. Even Erin didn’t know. They BOTH might break down. And he had himself to blame.
He pressed a few commands into his console..
“Computer.. begin log entry..” ‘Beep’. He closed his eyes and began to speak. The truth..
The Raven was hit by a subspace particle storm. We took heavy damage and our multi-adaptive shielding went offline for 13.2 seconds. Unfortunately, it was long enough for the Borg to perceive us a threat.
“I found something, a nebula.” Erin Hansen said to a husband, Magnus.
“Class?” He replied back.
“Mutar, distance 3 light-years. I’m setting a course.” Said a panicked Erin as she entered the course corrections into the helm. Magnus looked back towards his wife and the realization came.
“The particle density’s too high. The hull would breach.” He said, exasperated as he came over from his console to look over his wife’s calculations
“We can reinforce structural integrity!” she was cut short with her husband’s immediate reply.
“We’ll find somewhere else to hide.”
“There’s no time!” Erin replied, her mind focused on her console.
“It’s been 3 hours and the Cube hasn’t found us yet, as long as we can keep masking our warp trail.”
“No!” Erin screamed and set a course for the nebula.
“Mummy, Daddy! I’m scared. Are the Borg going to catch us?” Six year old Annika cried out.
“Go back to sleep Anni! Now!” Her father shouted.
“Now Annika. Don’t argue.” Erin said. Annika quickly ran to her quarters.
The Raven entered the nebula. Immediately, the Hansens felt its effects. Shields were down. consoles started to explode.
“Here.” Magnus threw Erin two bio-dampeners, devices that block bio signatures. Devices that can hide them from the Borg “Put one on yourself and Annika. And hide.”
“And innoculate yourselves with this.” And threw her a hypospray. “It’s a neural inhibitor and a coma inducer. If you ever get assimilated, you won’t be part of the collective. That way I’d still be able to rescue you.”
“What about you Magnus?” Erin asked worriedly.
“Go now hurry. They’re coming.”
Magnus took a pulse rifle from the weapons storage locker. I never thought I’d be using one of these.. he thought to himself. Then he started shooting up every component he could see. Every console panel, anything that was working, in the hopes that the Borg would finally determine that the Raven was too heavily damaged to assimilate and ignore them. He proceeded to his lab. He wanted to destroy everything. The database. The experiments. But he had to take the warp core offline first. He ran to Engineering and shut it down. The only systems left working were the structural integrity fields and minimal life support.
He exited his lab and ran next door to where his family was hiding. He checked their pulses, their heart rates were very low. They were in a comatose sleep, comparable to being on the verge of death. The comm. channel opened and he heard the thing he dreaded most. He heard the Borg.
“Surrender your ship. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. You will adapt to serve as us. Resistance is Futile.”
Magnus immediately slapped on his Bio-damper and hid in a dark corner. He adjusted his bio-damper to it’s absolute maximum. He was about to inject the coma inducer upon himself when he heard a sound. Just then he saw Annika crawl out.
“Daddy? Mummy?” Annika whimpered and she rubbed her eyes, she felt for the bio-damper and took it off. It was chafing her skin.
“Damn it Annika! Put it back on!” He shouted. The coma inducer dosage wasn’t enough for both Erin and Annika.
“Daddy?” Annika said groggily and crawled towards him slowly.
Just then, in a green wave of light, three Borg drones materialized. Magnus was stunned. His eyes wide open. Magnus held out his hands. Quickly Annika. Crawl with all your might. But she was crawling ever so slowly. He was willing her to crawl with his mind. He was scared. Scared to death of the alternative.
The drones studied the ship, moving sluggishly, peering and touching. Most of the equipment and panels were destroyed and they ignored them. Then one of them grabbed at Annika. She screamed. It was sheer terror. He wanted to leap out from where he was and save her but the drone and Annika dematerialized instantly. He was shocked. He couldn’t believe it! He was at a loss. He calmed down and thought.. He can save her. Yes, he can save her. He hoped the neural inhibitor lasted long. The other two drones finished their scans, concluded that there was nothing worthwhile to assimilate. And they too vanished in a wave of green light.
Magnus got up from his hiding place and ran all the way to the rear of the ship. He had left one partially functioning terminal. He entered a few commands and heaved a heavy sigh of relief. The Borg hadn’t left. He ran to this lab.
He remembered the experiment he had performed months earlier.. He knew it was against his principles.. And as an Exobiolgist, he didn’t care in the world for it but he wanted to broaden his knowledge.. so he dabbled in it. And nobody knew. Not even his family. Months ago when Erin was doing some research on the Borg and Annika was asleep, he had taken a sample of her blood and made a copy of her memory engrams. With his own ingenuity, he spliced them together and created an embryo, an embryo that contained all the memories of the real thing, his daughter. That was the embryo that he now removed from deep freeze storage. He placed it his growth acceleration chamber. He had stolen the designs from the Borg earlier but with a few modifications of his own, one of them being a chronoton discharger, another Borg ingenuity. Erin had been curious about the chamber but let it be when Magnus told her that it was part of their research. He never thought for a need to use it.. until now. Within seconds, the embryo had grown into an infant..
The cloned infant continued growing. Fifteen minutes later. It grew to approximately six years of age. He ran to the cargo room to check on his wife, she was still comatose. He ran back to the lab and deactivated the chamber. He took out the child and wrapped it in a towel. In his mind now, morality was secondary. He bit his lip. He quickly took a look at the unconscious child. He shook the thought away. No time to think twice. No time for emotional attachments. My daughter is in danger. No time. Quickly quickly. Move it Magnus!
He quickly cleaned the child up and dressed her in Annika’s clothes. Quickly, he took another fully charged bio-dampener and carried her to the transporter room. He knew the Borg’s shields were down in the nebula. He transferred maximum power to the transporter confinement beam and beamed himself and the child aboard the Borg vessel.
It was dark, dank, and hot. And the green glow was ever so eerie. Magnus worked quickly. He quickly moved pass various drones. He knew where the assimilation chamber was. Sub-juncture fifty-six or something. He suddenly became confused. Then he heard screams. It was his daughter. Panicky, he moved closer towards the sound. More drones ignored him, his bio-dampener and as well as the child’s were working. He hoped it would stay that way. The screams became louder and louder. He moved quicker and quicker, faster and faster. He passed by three drones that were shuffling slowly towards the assimilation chamber. They looked like the ones. The ones that bring order to chaos. Quickly he thought. Must save Annika no matter what the cost. He turned a corner and saw Annika strapped to a platform. No drones were in sight. Lucky. Lucky. Quickly quickly. He placed the child he was carrying in a corner. Annika saw her dad. He was in absolute panic.
“Daddy! The Borg! The Borg have me! They assimilate me.” Annika screamed wildly too frightened to notice her twin sister.
Magnus quickly loosen her straps.
“Hush hush. Annika. Hush now.” He grabbed her and examined her closely. No puncture wounds. Nothing. No signs of assimilation tubules puncturing the skin. Not a trace. He checked one more time. Nothing. He checked a third time, a forth time, paranoia and terror gripping him. He swore that if they ever got out of this, he’d won’t bother with the Borg.
“Daddy, I want to go home!” She screamed and hugged him tight. He can’t have her screaming when those drones came in he thought. Then he took out a hypospray and pressed it against the back of her neck. She lost consciousness as she fell into a deep sleep. He went over to the clone and removed her bio-dampener. Quickly he attached it to his own daughter.
He hurriedly carried the clone and placed her on the platform. He tightened the straps quickly. Just then, the same three drones he saw earlier entered the chamber. They looked like assimilation drones, they had saws, needles and various medical apparatus on their arms. Then they proceeded to operate on the unconscious child on the platform.
Magnus looked on in horror, one of the drones extended his tubules and punctured the child’s neck with brutal precision. He saw the veins on the child erupting and then something emerged from her right cheekbone, an implant in the shape of a starburst. He had seen enough. He carried his unconscious Annika in one hand and beamed them both back aboard the Raven.
He carried Annika to her mother and laid her down beside her. He ran back to his lab, his eyes red. He knew that the clone would be placed in a maturation chamber and then it would be made to serve the Borg collective. He cried and cried. He hit the table and kicked it very hard. He had turned into a monster. And he cried himself to sleep.
“The next day after the cube left, your mother and me spent three months repairing the Raven’s systems. Of course, you were there Annika. Watching us perform repairs. You became very quiet, distant. After the repairs, we looked for another Borg vessel. But our purpose was to follow in it’s wake as it transwarped back towards the Alpha Quadrant. We were lucky this time.” Magnus paused. He took a deep breath, and replicated a glass of water. He took a sip and continued.
“Of course, it wasn’t all joy and celebrations. Nobody knew what had happened. I went to look for my old friend, Dr. Henderson. It was he who suppressed your memories of the events. It worked Annika. For fifteen full years, you experienced life. Life that would have been denied of you if I hadn’t did what I did. And till today, I still wonder.. what happened to my other child. It is a burden I have been shouldering for 15 years. A burden that grows heavier and heavier each day. The nightmares you had Annika, were real. You experienced them. And it was all my fault. Your mother didn’t want anything to do with them. I had a choice but I persuaded her to join the crusade.. It’s it’s.. all my fault.. Please forgive me Annika.. And I’m so very sorry Erin, for making you do what you didn’t want to” Magnus croaked, he felt a sudden weight lift from his shoulders.
“Computer. End log and encrypt.” Magnus commanded. The computed beeped in acknowledgement.
He wondered how he was ever going to pass this confession to his family. He decided that the time will come. It will come.. and he closed his eyes.