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

Shots in the Dark

USS Century
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The USS Century eased to a stop as it neared the border separating Romulan Republic-controlled space with that of the various fractured ‘empires’ of various warlords who have taken control of a host of former Romulan Empire worlds. The crew now had to rely entirely on their long range sensors to keep track of what the Borg Scout was up to.

“Lieutenant James,” Captain Gar’rath asked as he turned toward his Science officer, “Do we have any probes that we could launch that would be able to intercept the vessel at its destination?”

“Our fastest probe wouldn’t arrive for another hour behind the probe, unfortunately,” Lt. James responded, “Our long range sensors are thankfully good enough to get fairly accurate information in real-time. We just won’t have visuals of what is taking place there.”

Gar’rath let out a huff of air, “Very well. Monitor the situation and display relevant information on the main viewer.”

“Aye, sir,” Lt. James said with a nod.

“Captain,” the voice of the Century’s Security officer cut in, “There is an incoming Romulan vessel, one minute to contact.”

“At least they didn’t come in cloaked, that’s a good sign,” Commander Peters said as she turned toward Lt. Khar, “Downgrade to Yellow Alert, we’re far enough away from the Scout ship that we can afford to relax just a bit.”

“Agreed,” the Gorn remarked before turning to the communications officer, “Hail the incoming Romulan vessel. I do not want them thinking us poor guests in their own territory.”

“Yes Captain,” the man said as he inputted the various console commands. In opposition to expectations, the view screen shifted almost immediately to the image of a Romulan sitting in a compartment tinted a pale green. It was odd to see a Romulan not wearing the uniform of the Star Empire in command of a vessel, though it wasn’t an unpleasant surprise.

“Greetings, Captain. I was informed of your purpose for entering the area and was asked to provide assistance. I am Commander Samohk,” the man remarked in greetings.

“Captain Gar’rath, it is a pleasure to meet you Commander. I am glad to see you received our warning and no vessels were caught in the path of the Borg ship,” the Gorn replied in kind.

“Most fortunate indeed. Your warning was most fortuitous, several cargo ships had intended to pass through this area prior to your message. I am certain they are grateful to have avoided assimilation,” the Romulan replied with a smirk.

“Unfortunately, our target has entered contested space, leaving us to keep watch here. Is there a long range sensor array nearby that we might access temporarily to conduct more detailed surveillance?”

The Commander on screen shook his head, “I’m afraid not. Most of our resources are currently being used to keep the Republic secure.”

“Understandable,” the Captain remarked, “Then we simply request permission to remain here while the craft is beyond our ability to pursue to ensure it does not pose a threat to yourselves or the Federation, should it decide to return this direction.”

“But of course, Captain. We are glad to have you keeping a vigil here. Should you need our assistance, we shall remain in the area, so please do contact us,” Cmdr. Samohk said with a gracious smile before the feed cut off.

“That went… eerily well,” Cmdr. Peters said with a puzzled expression on her face.

Gar’rath turned to regard his XO, “How so?”

“While we do maintain friendly relations with the Romulan Republic, their willingness to allow us to linger in their space for an unspecified length of time is highly unusual behavior,” Lieutenant Commander Sorreth observed from his station.

“Yes, that,” Abigail pointed toward the Vulcan to emphasize her agreement, “They were way too eager to let us handle the situation ourselves. Realistically speaking, we stand about as much chance of successfully repelling an attack by that ship as the Romulans do. I almost feel like a sacrificial lamb…”

“A ‘sacrificial lamb’?” the Gorn repeated in confusion.

“We are being used as a decoy,” Lt. Khar clarified with a sharp frown.

The Captain jerked his head up in sudden understanding, “Ah… yes, that makes a good deal of sense then. I hadn’t heard that expression before.”

“It is oddly appropriate,” the Klingon remarked, “Especially given the Romulan proclivity to use anything they can to gain an advantage.”

“That is not solely a Romulan practice,” Lt. Cmdr. Sorreth observed, “A great many other cultures do the same.”

“Perhaps,” Lt. Khar grudgingly conceded.

“Ultimately, their motives are unimportant,” Capt. Gar’rath said, “It does not change our mission in the slightest. Continue to monitor the craft and report any changes immediately. I will prepare a SITREP for Starfleet Command in the meantime. Commander, you have the bridge.”

“Aye, sir,” Abigail said from her chair as the Gorn pushed himself out of his and headed for the Ready Room adjacent to the bridge compartment. He took one last look at the tactical readout showing the Borg vessel and its projected target before retreating into his office. Once inside and seated, he began the task of drafting up the formal report to his superiors, something he hadn’t been able to spare the time to do given the urgency of their pursuit.

As his clawed fingers clacked away at his console, Gar’rath’s thoughts drifted over all of the information they had gathered so far. He hadn’t said much about it in the moment, but as he took time to reflect on everything that had happened things just didn’t fit neatly in his mind. The vessel’s erratic flight paths, the lack of interest it was showing to the Century following it so closely, the impromptu raid of a station long abandoned for parts no one would miss even if the thing was still functional. Nothing added up, and the less it did the more concerned the Gorn became.

Midway through generating the report, Capt. Gar’rath leaned back and pushed himself slightly away from the desk, casting an eye over what he had written so far. The word ‘insanity’ was a fitting moniker for what he’d put down, even if it were entirely accurate and verifiable. If he hadn’t lived it, it would look like a bad holonovel plot crafted by a lunatic. The Gorn ran his hand over the back of his head for a moment, letting a low rumble slip from his chest over just how little he liked what he had committed to words.

“Who would believe this?” Gar’rath asked the empty room, knowing full well no answer to his question was forthcoming.

A sigh and a shake of his head was all the response the question really deserved, and the Captain drew himself back toward the desk to complete the missive. Time slipped by around him as he continued to piece together into words all that the Century’s crew had discovered, the document riddled with speculation rather than concrete fact. As someone who’s career had relied heavily on proof rather than suspicion, it was almost viscerally unpleasant to have to commit to a report theories and postulation. The only vent for his frustrations over it was the slightly more forceful clacking of his claws against the console, even if the device wasn’t to blame for his displeasure over the circumstances.

“Captain Gar’rath to the bridge,” the voice of Cmdr. Peters pierced the silence of the Captain’s Ready Room, spurring the Gorn to rise from his desk, abandoning the report still in progress and his own ruminations in favor of whatever was happening. He stalked out of his office, entering the bridge to find it abuzz with activity. His head turned toward the view screen, which displayed several dots around the one that had indicated their Borg contact throughout their lengthy encounter.

“Report,” Gar’rath said as he took his place in the center chair. 

“Several Romulan vessels of various makes have engaged the Borg Scout. It appears they were guarding a station of some sort, though our sensors had difficulty picking it up given the location. We never would have found it if we weren’t tracking the Scout’s movement so closely,” Cmdr. Peters explained.

Lt. James spoke up from his station, “It would appear the station was emitting a sort of… beacon. It resided just outside the normal bandwidths we typically scan for, and even then if you weren’t looking for it specifically it was easy to miss.”

“Was that frequency being transmitted by the relay they scavenged earlier?” The Captain inquired, hoping to solve at least one mystery with the new information.

“Negative,” Lt. James relayed, “Nothing of the sort was picked up by our sensors, I went back over the logs once I found the beacon frequency.”

“Status of the Romulan vessels?” Gar’rath turned his attention toward his Security officer.

“They are putting up an admirable resistance, but they have already lost two vessel and have done negligible damage to the Scout’s outer hull. At our current distance, it is impossible to determine if they have deployed any drones to assimilate the Romulan crews,” Lt. Khar announced.

“Any movement from surrounding vessels?” the Captain asked, turning back toward the tactical display.

“The vessels that were in the area were cloaked, we only saw them after they engaged the Borg. If the local warlord has responded to the threat, they have done so with the typical Romulan subterfuge,” the Klingon said with a sneer.

“Have there been any distress calls sent out?” the Gorn asked.

“None. It would appear that the defenders do not wish to give away their position or the situation,” Lt. Cmdr. Sorreth remarked from his console.

“Not surprising,” Cmdr. Peters shrugged, “It isn’t as if they would want some secret facility to be raided by others after the Borg have cleared them out. Whatever they were hiding there is probably bad enough that they don’t want anyone finding out about it.”

“And unless there is a request for our aid, we will merely mark the location and keep watch,” Gar’rath said in a definitive tone.

“Should we share what we know with our Republic friends?” Cmdr. Peters inquired.

The Captain mulled over the question for a few brief seconds before responding, “We may as well. Likely they are watching the same thing as we are, but I would rather not be accused of operating in bad faith in their borders.”

“Ensign, if you would,” Cmdr. Peters turned to the communications officer, who nodded in acknowledgement and began to do as had been suggested.

“At least we know what brought that Scout here,” Abigail said after facing forward again.

“We can’t be certain this is the only reason this vessel is here. It may have simply stumbled on the beacon in the same way we just happened to be in the area when the Scout was actually seen,” Gar’rath pointed out.

“Your hypothesis is logical, Captain. Given what we know of the vessel’s behavior prior to our initial contact, it is unlikely that they were taking the most effective route toward this particular location,” Sorreth said in agreement.

“Now the only question remains, what exactly did the Romulans have that the Borg wanted back?” Cmdr. Peters mused.

“That does not seem to be the only question that remains, Commander,” the Vulcan retorted.

“Fair enough, Mister Sorreth, but it is a question that would shed more than a little light on what this Borg ship is doing so far away from the Collective.”

“Two more Romulan vessels have been destroyed, Captain,” Lt. Khar reported just as the display shifted to reflect that fact. Nervous glances from other officers on the bridge toward the viewer told of the crew’s conflicted stance on what was taking place. While no one on the bridge could be said to sympathize with anyone who would choose a path following a bloody warlord, they couldn’t bring themselves to be happy that they were fighting an enemy they had no chance at defeating.

“Any response from the Republic?” Gar’rath asked.

“Nothing beyond an acknowledgement of the situation, Captain,” the communications officer responded.

Cmdr. Peters frowned at that, “Oddly quiet in the face of a Borg ship rampaging near their own backyard…”

“It would be no different if the Borg were doing so in territory controlled by enemies of the Federation,” the Captain pointed out.

“They’re the same people though,” Abby argued, “It would be like me turning a blind eye to a Human colony being attacked simply because they were on the wrong side of a line.”

“While your sentiment is admirable, Commander,” Sorreth remarked, “The issue we are currently discussing is one of fundamental ideological incompatibility. Humanity has been party to such throughout a great portion of its history.”

“Humanity learned from those mistakes…” Peters countered.

Sorreth gave a half-nod-half-shrug at the statement, “Perhaps. However the same cannot be said of the Romulans. They have not had sufficient time to reflect on their past and correct what we would perceive as the errors of their ways. They do not, at the moment, believe their ideology and actions to have taken to be incorrect, no matter which side of the line they stand on, to use your metaphor.”

“Not all ideals are compatible, not all peoples can be united. There are just as many examples we have recorded throughout history of one side eradicating another because that is the easier path to ensure the continuation of the ideal thought to be the most ‘correct’,” Gar’rath interjected.

“Is that something that happened in the Gorn’s history?” Cmdr. Peters asked, “I confess I don’t know a great deal about that subject.”

“Now is not the time for reflection on ideological histories,” Gar’rath said, pointing toward the screen as the remaining Romulan vessel indicators disappeared. It wasn’t hard to imagine the hellscape that had been wrought by the battle, even if they were only observing a bland tactical display. Even the most hardy among the bridge crew found the information unsettling. The Borg had triumphed.

“The vessel is preparing to return to warp. They are heading deeper into disputed territory. Pursuit appears impossible,” Lt. Cmdr. Sorreth announced.

“Keep an eye on them,” Gar’rath remarked, “Scan the area for any survivors or distress beacons. We may be able to use that as an excuse to investigate the aftermath.”

“Do you really think they would allow us to just… show up to help?” Peters asked incredulously.

The Gorn snorted, “No. But if we are ever going to figure out what is going on, we may need to take a few risks. I much prefer our odds against semi-disorganized war hosts than going up against the Borg.”

“I think you might want to ask Starfleet Command if that’s something they’ll even buy off on before we do it…” the XO warned.

“That might be true…” Gar’rath conceded, “I suppose I should finish the report I have yet to send them and include that in it. Commander, you have the bridge.”

“Understood, Captain,” Peters nodded as she watched her commander stalk back into his Ready Room.