Star Trek: Defiant

"Absolute Zero" - Part Six

Written by T'Mal


Mackowick had an arm slung across Barak's shoulders. His ankle, while not broken, slowed him down considerably, and they moved faster this way. Lebin carried an Engineering kit in one hand and a phaser in his other, along with a couple experimental gadgets he'd been working on strapped to his belt. Barak had grabbed a phaser for himself as well as a few extras.

Matute and Wolfram were glad to see them arrive. Matute had been very close to forging ahead on her own, without waiting for reinforcements. Barak passed out the phasers while Wolfram described what they had seen.

"They took them to 8-Forward." she finished.

"We must hurry." Matute urged. "They are in danger."

No one disagreed with this simple assessment. After hearing that they were dealing with Borg, Lebin was glad they had brought more than phasers. They set their phasers to rotating frequencies in the hopes that each of them would be able to get one good shot before the Borg adjusted. They had no idea how many might be in that room, or how quickly their phasers might become useless.

Lebin opened the engineering kit and began handing out anything that might be useful. Unfortunately, these tools could only be brought into play up close, and they were all fully aware that close contact with this hybrid "species" was something to be avoided if at all possible. Death was a sweeter fate than assimilation, and they agreed that "helping" their crewmates in this case might mean killing them.

8-FORWARD:

Lt. Judah Friese, Assistant Chief of Security, stood guard outside the entrance. Some silent communication appeared to pass between him and Bishop as they approached, so that Friese moved away from the door and allowed Bishop's group to enter.

8-Forward had been transformed into an assimilation chamber. One of the largest rooms on the ship, it suited their purposes nicely. The missing equipment from Sickbay had been moved there, altered for their needs. Instruments designed to heal were now being used to injur. Currently, Midshipman Elias was overseeing their destructive use, hovering in readiness for the newcomers.

A number of the supposed equipment boxes that Tourles' engineers had brought with them had obviously been nothing more than shipping containers for non-replicatable Borg parts. Those that hadn't been taken to Engineering had been brought here. Midshipman Tagana manned a bank of replicators, churning out tubing and artificial joints. She had been fitted with an arm designed to plug directly into the diagnostic port of the replicators, and seemed to have become one with the machine.

The Captain was determined to die rather than take his place in the assimilation chair. The temporary lethargy brought on by the Borg nanites (designed to prepare the body and calm the victim), had dissipated quickly when he saw with his own eyes the fate they had planned for him. Tables covered in discarded parts were being overturned in the struggle as he and Hardin made their last desperate attempts to save themsleves. The collective had decided that these two were too valuable to simply destroy as they had done to others on the ship who had chosen to fight them. A silent decision was made between the linked minds as to how they would handle the situation.

The Borg Maerret turned loose of Commander Hardin in order to assist Mak and Bishop in strapping Captain Bridges to the assimilation chair. With Friese at the door, there was little risk of Hardin escaping, and even if he did, there was nowhere they could not find him. The nanites in his body would serve as a beacan to them, allowing them to hunt him down later, at their leisure if they so desired.

It was at this point that the Borg felt the loss of a mind in the collective. The unit formerly known to them as Friese caesed to exist. Lebin and Matute burst through the door, Wolfram and Barak close behind. Mackowick brought up the rear and positioned himself beside the door, watching their backs.

Matute fired her phaser at Midshipman Elias and was rewarded with the sight of him falling to the floor, a twitching mound of flesh and machinery.

Lebin, seeing that Commander Hardin had at least one arm free, tossed him one of the gadgets from his belt. Hardin caught the slim cylinder, wondered fleetingly what it's function was, and toggled the switch near the top.

A beam of pure energy extended from the end of the cylinder, right into the heart of what had been K'larn. Surprised, Hardin jerked the instrument to one side and nearly sliced K'larn in two amidst a shower of sparks. Free, Hardin waved his new weapon in the air a few times to get the feel of it, liking the hum as it ionized the air it passed through, and condidered how to use it to cause the most possible damage.

"I wanted that one." Barak complained, referring to the fallen Klingon. "I never did like him." He settled his sights on Ensign Maerret instead, and when his phaser failed to have any effect on Romulan/Borg, he made a dive for Maerret's legs, driving him to the floor as he pulled at the various bits of tubing that ran across his misshapen body. Maerret fought back with a wicked-looking cutting device, and inflicted half a dozen deep wounds on Barak's body before Hardin appeared and neatly severed the connection between Maerret's head and the rest of him.

Reacting slowly, Tagana disengaged herself from the replicator equipment and moved toward the battle. Wolfram caught her approach out of the corner of her eye and reached for a nearby table. Grabbing a corner, she flipped it and the instruments upon it, into Tagana's path, blocking Tagana's direct approach and slowing her down further as she was forced to clear a way through.

Matute, meanwhile, had never slowed in her objective of reaching her Captain. Seeing that the Borg had adjusted to the phasers already, she rammed her body into Mak and then Bishop, knocking them back and away from the Captain. Lebin hurriedly unlatched the straps holding Bridges to the chair while Matute continued to fight to keep Mak and Bishop at bay. Mak managed to land one good kick that sent Matute sprawling , but the implants that were now a part of him cost him his speed, and Matute was back on her feet and sidestepping his next intended blow in the space of a human heartbeat. It was the lack of speed in processing events in the collective mind that gave her the momentary edge she needed. She held them off long enough for Lebin to get Bridges loose and moving toward the exit.

Hardin joined her in the fight, but as his new experimental sword made contact with Bishop's arm, the power cell gave out. Bishop roared in anger and lunged for Hardin, but not before Hardin grabbed a handful of Matute's uniform and pulled her along with him as he ran to catch up with the others, already well on their way toward the door. Tagana attepted to block their flight, but was repelled by Lebin and a device usually used to recalibrate the shields. It shorted out her bioneuronic parts and left her standing helpless to pursue.

Overall, they had accomplished what they had come to do, won this fight, and aside from a few minor physical injuries, they were escaping this round intact. As to their friends...as Barak had said, the time for mourning would come later.


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