Star Trek: Defiant

"Absolute Zero" - Part Nine

Written by T'Mal


The conduit opened practically right in front of them, cutting them off from the Draco. Mackowick made some quick evasive moves to avoid running into them.

"Captain, we have the subspace radio working!" Lebin shouted, trying to keep himself from being tossed about by Mackowick's fancy flying.

"Hardin!" Bridges ordered, not pausing to thank Lebin, "Hail the Draco! And get a message off to..."

The Lovell was rocked by a blast from the Borg ship.

"I'm losing control!" Mackowick, dismayed, fought to keep the Runabout on course. The Borg, it seemed, had finally managed to hit something vital.

"I have the Draco." Hardin said. "They have been trying to hail us."

Bridges leapt from his seat, fought to keep his balance in the wildly tumbling craft, and gripping Hardin's shoulder, prepared to speak to the Captain of the Draco.

"This is Captain Bridges...our ship..."

"...Was assimilated..." The former Captain of the Draco, Captain Kliemann, finished for him. Bridges realized his mistake as he stared into the eyes of the Borg, a man he had once known and respected. Of course the Captain of the Draco had known that he was carrying Borg, had watched events unfold without ever lifting a finger to help them , he was one of them. "...and now you have destroyed it. Resistance is futile."

The ride for the occupants of the Lovell suddenly became much smoother. The Borg had caught them in a tractor beam, and now they were reeling them in.

Hardin knew from the tightening of the grip on his shoulder that it was time to cut the subspace signal.

Bridges turned to face his crew. "Well, it appears we have run out of options."

"We didn't have too many to begin with." Hardin added.

Mackowick, still at the helm, and still trying to force every evasive maneuver he could think of, was thrown back as a shower of sparks erupted from the console in front of him. Hardin backed away judiciously as the fire suppression system took over to put the fire out.

"Damn!" Mackowick exclaimed, "I almost broke their lock!"

"It's all right, Chad." Bridges comforted him. "You did your best. I'm proud of you for that." He turned back to the rest of the passengers. "I'm proud of all of you. I would put each and every one of you in for special commendations, you know that. And you also know what we must do now."

They looked at him, hardly believing it, but knowing it was true. They had fought so hard to survive this ordeal that it was almost impossible not to think of it as giving up. But they wouldn't be giving up, they would be fighting for their rights to remain Human, and they knew that they could probably take out at least one of the Borg ships in the process. Probably both of them, as close together and as connected as they were.

"How long do we have before we are pulled in, Mr. Hardin?" The view of the Cube and the yawning chasm they were being sucked into loomed large on the viewscreen.

"I estimate 3 minutes, and we'll be inside."

"Computer, initiate Auto-Destruct sequence, authorization Bridges Alpha Beta Alpha. 3 minutes, Mark."

The computer began its countdown for the second time that day.

"Warning. Auto-destruct in two minutes." The Borg Cube loomed ever larger, blotting out the surrounding stars.

"Can you shut that thing off?" Bridges asked, referring to the disembodied voice ticking off their remaining seconds.

Quietly now, they waited.

Wolfram thought she ought to say something, but could not think of what it would be. Although she was only half Vulcan, she had the highly-accurate internal clock of that race. As they were pulled into the Cube ship, it signalled to her that their time was up.

"This simulation has ended."

EPILOGUE:

The back of the shuttle dissolved, and the door to the Holodeck opened.

A fully Human Admiral Tourles stood there, a smile upon his previously stern-looking face.

"Congratulations, Captain Bridges!" He said. "You are the only group so far to avoid assimilation! We are very pleased with your results. Quite frankly, we were beginning to wonder if our Command training was lacking."

Bridges stepped out into the corridor of his ship, his Defiant. Somewhere in the last few hours, he had forgotten about the simulation, he had been so caught up in it. Any anger he may have felt for Tourles was temporarily dispelled by his joy at finding his ship again, whole and undamaged. And beyond that, there was Dr. Laine, waiting for him. He took a moment to breathe in the air of his ship, feel the slight hum of her power under his feet, drink in the sight of his Imzadi, and revel in the knowledge that it had only been a test. He rushed to take her in his arms and hold her, something he had despaired of every being able to do again. She allowed it for a moment, enjoying his enthusiasm, and then broke the spell when she saw Mackowick and Barak emerge from the holodeck.

"Let's get you two to sickbay, and get you fixed up."

Bridges let go reluctantly, belatedly realizing he had just behaved in a very un-Captain-like manner. He also realized he didn't really care right now.

While the Doctor rushed off to attend to her job, Bridges attended to his. Turning to Admiral Tourles, he simply asked, "How soon can you be off my ship?"


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