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At the bottom of the Rabbit Hole

Posted on Mon Nov 8th, 2010 @ 12:10am by Civilian Haqtaj Matlh & Chief Warrant Officer Akina Jrez

Mission: Remembrance
Location: The Delta Quadrant

From orbit the planet seemed unremarkable: M-Class, but with an average temperature of around 38-40 C. Most of the ground cover was sparse scrub and there was little in the way of exposed water amongst the rocky crags. However, one salient feature stood out like a grey steel splinter in the tan landscape.

On one of the higher equatorial mountains stood a pyramid like structure, stabbing it's metail finger skywards over the cloud tops. Amidst it's jumble of girders and pipes a green glow could just be discerned. For those who had met them, this structure was clearly of Borg design.

There was little or no living material near it, and the ground showed signs of scouring. Haqtaj and Jrez had to climb carefully in and out of many ditches as they walked from the Runabout to the strange building. Every few meters Jrez would insist on stopping to take readings, but they never changed; high levels of energy, no life signs, and trace amounts of decaying Baryon particles.

"The Borg may have found a way to mask their bio signs from our sensors. Or perhaps they are all dormant," Haqtaj mused aloud. "We will know soon enough. This planet sits at the opening of the Conduit. There is no way a ship could come or go without being observed by this facility, whatever it is. I would guess this is where the Borg were trying to come when Species 8472 took over their cube."

Jrez looked up from his tricorder. “You really know how to take a guy to an exotic location,” he quipped dryly. “By my calculation, we’re deep in the Delta Quadrant. I’d say we’re not in Borg space – not going by the calculations Voyager brought back – but we’re not far off it. So your guess is probably pretty accurate.”

Haqtaj tightened her grip on her mek'leth, "Then what were they doing all the way out here, I wonder."

There was no door to the facility, simply an opening from the outside of the structure to the inside. Moving through Hataj suddenly held up her hand for Jrez to stop. She pointed ahead where three regeneration bays stood unoccupied. No, not quite unoccupied. One still had the mechanical sections of a Borg standing in place, but the biological parts had been stripped.

“Interesting,” Jrez said. “Maybe this is what passes for a hospital among the Borg. Not that I’ve ever heard of the Collective particularly caring about patching up fallen comrades.”

As the pair moved on they found other such bays with the cybernetics still in place. Power still seemed to be running to all systems. At a junction they found a pair of mechanical 'bodies' lying as if they had fallen mid step.

"Whatever happened here was fast, too fast for the drones to respond to. I fear we will not find many lost souls for you to rescue here." Haqtaj crouched by the bodies. She smiled and glanced back at the Trill, "Perhaps you should try working as a Vedek?"

“Religion was never my strong suit. You’ll have to ask someone else to pray over them. Or you could scream a bit, or is it too late? From the look of them, Sto-Vo-Kor already knows where they are.”

Haqtaj fixed Jrez with a stare for a moment, but let the slight on her beliefs pass. Sto-Vo-Kor was for warriors with honour. The Borg had no concept.

Using Jrez's tricorder reading for guidance they passed deeper into the structure till they cam to a central complex. Inside was a wide open chamber dominated by a thin spire. It took only a moment of reading attached panel to figure it was a weapon of some sort. Haqtaj examined the controls, trying to make sense of the Borg symbols.

"Very basic targeting. Very wide field of fire. Could take out an entire Nengh'Var if it flew into the fire line. And it has been fired recently. I can't determine the power charge. It is an energy type I am unfamiliar with."

“I know what this is,” Jrez declared. “Starships which spend long periods at warp build up high levels of radiation in their hulls. The Federation routinely runs a baryon sweep to flush unwanted radiation. It’s part of standard procedure when ships go into spacedock after long missions. We’ve never used it as a weapon; the result could be catastrophic. Basically, it’s lethal to all organic matter but it leaves mechanical and inorganic material intact. This basically is a baryon sweep writ large.”

Haqtaj nodded, "We have a similar procedure every five years or so. Ingenious. With a field effecto f oaround one Kliometer across it would barely cover a third of the Borg cube even if it ran right through the beam, but any smaller ships would be wiped clean in an instant as they slowed down to enter or exit the Transwarp Conduit."

“I think I know what happened here and...I think I know what that Cube we encountered was doing. I think it was trying to get back here to flush out the Species 8472. My guess is the drones would have tried to herd the 8472 into one part of the Cube then run that part through the beam. They have none of our scruples about avoiding unnecessary deaths among their own kind so too bad for the drones making sure the 8472 stayed put. If that’s the case, I wouldn’t mind betting that Species 8472 was deliberately allowed onto the Cube with the sole purpose of coming here to kill them en masse.

“Something, however, went very badly wrong. If I’m right – and it will take more extensive tests than my tricorder can perform to confirm this theory but, if I’m right – then something happened here which pitched the Cube through the transwarp conduit before the beam could do its deadly work. Whatever it was, also looks to have turned the beam on the drones running this facility.”

Haqtaj checked a few other displays, "I would have to agree with your assessment. It looks like there was an overload of the system and a baryon particle backwash through the structure. It would explain the lack of living material in and around the structure."

Haqtaj thought for a while, "If the Borg know of this spot they will surely come to reclaim it. That will lead them right to DS7. We can't close the conduit, and we have nothing on the far side to defend us. I will recomend to Captain Romano that he establish a forward base here. A science/engineering team could investigate the possibility of getting this weapon working again, and we could supplement it with conventional defences."

“We’d best get back as quickly as possible,” Jrez replied. He was quite willing to take any excuse to get out of there; to say that the place was giving him the creeps would be putting it mildly. The eeriness of the silent building was bad enough; the sight of all those Borg bits and pieces just waiting to be inserted into living flesh was more than his nerves wished to cope with. “Captain Romano needs to be informed about this installation. I agree that something needs to be done to plug an all too readily accessible access point deep into Federation territory. We are very exposed here. Whether or not we can turn this against the Borg...it’s a question I’d like time to explore. I wouldn’t mind having Serge around right now,” he added quietly. “I could do with his insights.”

Haqtaj moved away from the console. She considered taking action to render the weapon inopperable. The last thing she wanted was to drop out of the conduit on their return straight into a Baryon stream. Finally she decided that any damage she could do the Borg would quickly repair.

"Come," She said simply leading the way back long the path they came. There would be much to tell teh Federation on DS7. She wondered if they would be upset about her comandeering the Shuttle.

 

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