Part of USS Century: 0. The Great Chase and Bravo Fleet: We Are the Borg

A(n un)lucky break…

USS Century
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Several days slipped by as the USS Century continued to pursue the scattered reports of vessels matching descriptions of Borg vessels. The longer they searched, the more confident the crew started to become in their assertion that this was simply an act of over caution on the part of their Captain and not something to be worried about. Several stops along the rather chaotic route yielded explanations for the sightings, not the least of all being sensor malfunctions. By the end of the week, the oppressive mood that has lingered at the start of their investigation was nowhere to be seen. Almost no one aboard the ship was even discussing it in the same way they had been originally. Hushed rumors had given way to joking statements about their grand adventure chasing down glitches.

Captain Gar’rath was happy that his crew had found ways to break through their initial fears, and while he hadn’t determined the mission a complete wash, he was giving serious consideration to the prospect of returning to their original patrol route, even if he hadn’t been ordered to do so by Starfleet. It was that very thing that had prompted him to meet with his Executive Officer, who was sitting in a chair opposite him in the observation lounge following a routine update brief they held at that particular time of the week.

“I’m tempted to say ‘I told you so’,” Commander Peters said with a smirk after the last officer had vacated the room.

“Only tempted?” the Captain asked with skepticism riddling his tone.

Abigail shrugged at the retort, “Call it a bad habit of mine, but I don’t like saying things like that until I know for sure that I did actually tell you so.”

“It would appear that may be on the path to being correct, Abby. Any other circumstance might make it difficult for me to admit that, given the time and care I took to ensure that I wasn’t merely reading into things before altering our course and objectives… but in this instance I am less inclined to resist the admission.” Gar’rath said in a low, rumbling voice.

“Is that a hint of that famous Gorn pride rearing its head?” Peters said with a teasing lilt.

“I see I’m not the only one adept at using another’s words against them,” Gar’rath fired back.

Cmdr. Peters clutched her chest in feigned offense, “I would never!”

The Gorn was about to wave the comment away when the comm system chirped to interrupt. “Captain, please report to the bridge,” the voice of Lt. Cmdr. Sorreth echoed in the observation lounge. Had his face been capable of it, Gar’rath would surely have frowned at the strange interjection from the Vulcan officer, given that he knew exactly where he was. An unsettling feeling bombarded him as he pushed himself out of his chair and moved rather swiftly for his species toward the exit into the bridge.

“What is it, Commander?” the Captain asked as he moved to take his position in the center chair.

“We’ve received a distress call from a civilian freighter, Captain,” Sorreth stated in the disinterested timbre common among Vulcans.

“Set an intercept course,” Gar’rath ordered, which drew a spirited “On it, Captain,” from the helmsman. The Gorn turned back to face the Vulcan, “If that was all there is, you could have handled this without my intervention.”

“Under the circumstances, I felt it better if it came from you, as it appears your theory regarding our erratic visitor was correct,” Sorreth responded to the Captain before bringing up a tactical display on the main view screen. The object taking center stage on the display was highlighted green, with a compositional read out displaying information matching all known Borg construction compositions.

“Good thing I kept my mouth shut…” Cmdr. Peters mumbled just loud enough for Gar’rath to catch it.

The Gorn turned just enough to glance at Abigail before returning his attention to the viewer. “XO, set Red Alert.”

“Aye sir,” Peters nodded before announcing in a loud voice, “Red Alert, all hands to battle stations! This is not a drill!” As the words left her mouth, the compartment dimmed, and the displays shifted from their normal blues and greens to the blues and reds that accompanied the alert status. The alert klaxon sounded several times before silencing itself.

“Is the vessel sending out the distress call under attack?” Gar’rath inquired as he studied the display.

“Negative, it is departing the area without pursuit,” the Vulcan responded curtly.

The Captain turned toward the officer manning the communications console, “Contact the vessel and inform them we are on route. Have them inform us immediately if the vessel begins to pursue them.”

“Right away, Captain,” the man responded, turning his attention to the task.

“Lieutenant Khar, raise shields and power up the weapons, but hold your fire once we make contact. If the vessel isn’t currently engaged in hostilities, it may ignore us as long as we don’t act aggressively,” the Gorn said without turning to address the Klingon.

“Weapons and shields are already online, Captain,” Khar responded from his position.

“Vessel is maintaining course and speed away from the civilian vessel. Pursuit seems unlikely at this point,” Sorreth remarked.

“Time to contact?” Gar’rath asked, his eyes never leaving the display.

“Three minutes at present speed,” came the reply from the helm.

Gar’rath leaned back in his chair, contemplating all of the possible responses they might receive from the vessel. The best case scenario he could envision was that the vessel would completely ignore them, going about whatever directive they had been given without so much as a spared thought to their presence. The worst case scenario saw their vessel being attacked the moment they dropped out of warp. Sadly, both outcomes were equally likely, and everything in between was also no less possible when dealing with an enemy as inscrutable as the Borg. The only consolation they currently had was that the ship that had alerted them to the presence of the Borg vessel wasn’t currently being hunted down or in the midst of being assimilated. Time slipped by swiftly, and as the Century dropped out of warp, the main viewer switched from the tactical display to a visual of the vessel in question.

Dark metallic latticeworks highlighted by an eerie green glow at various points along the oblong craft greeted the crew, simultaneously simplistic and menacing. As the crew continued to gather information regarding their target, it became more and more apparent that the best case scenario had won out.

“I am not reading any reaction from the Borg vessel at all, Captain,” Lt. Cmdr. Sorreth said after reviewing the information displayed by his console, “It would appear that whatever directive this vessel was given does not currently include assimilation of nearby vessels.”

“Can you tell what it is they are doing?” Cmdr. Peters asked from her chair.

“Not currently. Scans indicate that the vessel is active, the drone within are not in stasis, but there are no other overt signs that might indicate what their purpose for being in the area is,” the Operations officer reported.

In the midst of their conversation, the console before Lt. Cmdr. Sorreth emitted a rather troubling warning sound. “Captain, the Borg vessel is about to go to warp,” the Vulcan reported.

“Can we follow them?” Gar’rath asked, leaning forward.

The short pause from the Operations officer seemed far longer than it actually was before he said, “I believe so, yes. Their destination is within this sector.”

“Do it,” the Captain said firmly. The JG manning the helm began inputting coordinates as soon as he heard the Gorn speak. Gar’rath watched as the Borg ship hurled itself into warp, and a moment later the screen showing the Century going to warp in pursuit.

“Contact Starfleet Command and inform them of our discovery and of our intention to keep the vessel under surveillance for as long as is safe to do so,” the Captain said, turning his attention to the communications officer.

“Aye sir,” the man responded without turning back to look at the Gorn.

“What do you suppose they’re doing out here jumping from point to point?” Cmdr. Peters wondered aloud.

“Hopefully we can discover that before the vessel turns hostile…” Capt. Gar’rath said as he leaned back into his chair.