Commodore Dimitri Andreyevich left the turbo lift, and made his way to the Starbase's location map. After accessing where he needed to go, he followed the dim yellow arrows along the corridor walls, which guided him to his destination.
It had been only three hours since the U.S.S. Atlantis had returned from its mission, and he was looking forward to some time off, when the call came in for him to report to his superior. Although his regular team wasn't present on the current mission, he was instructed to assemble them for a top priority assignment. Lt. Shelly Casey and Lt. David Gerard, part of his senior staff, would be the last to arrive due to previous assignments.
As he arrived at the conference room, he reached for the hail. Before his hand could touch the button, the door slid open.
"Come in Dimitri." A voice called from inside. As he entered, he noticed the room was dim except for a spotlight, which shown down on a lonely chair in the middle of the room. "Come in and have a seat, Commodore."
Dimitri sat in the spotlighted chair and waited through ten seconds of deafening silence. Through the darkness, he could see the outline of his anonymous superior, silhouetted by the large window full of stars.
He decided to start things rolling. "I'm sorry for the tardiness, Sir. The Atlantis is prepping for a refit and my input was needed."
"Understood and noted." The anonymous man responded. "I read your current mission log. I understand you had a little difficulty this time around."
Dimitri smiled. "Nothing out of the ordinary, at least for us, Sir. Lets just say that Vulcans were as cool and collected in the past, as they are now."
At that point, Dimitri heard a slight chuckle coming from the darkness. He knew, right away it was not his superior.
"Who's there?" Dimitri called out without thinking.
From the darkness, a woman bearing Admiral's pips stepped toward him. She was an older woman with graying streaks in her blonde hair.
"Stand down, Commodore." She spoke walking toward him, then leaning on the front desk. "I'm the one who brought you hear."
The anonymous man interrupted. "Dimitri, this is Admiral Cynthia Porter from Starfleet Security. We've summoned you for a mission, which will be managed outside of the normal procedures."
"I don't understand." Dimitri commented.
Admiral Porter reached for a message pad on the desk. "Like your C.O. here, I'm also from a high security agency, which works surreptitiously. We tend to…" she paused to search for the right words, "…borrow resources from each other when needed. That's why you are here." She handed him the message pad. "Commodore, what we are about to discuss must not leave this room. The information being provided to you is highly sensitive and could destroy the very foundation of the Federation if made public."
Dimitri nodded and started to scan over the message pad.
Admiral Porter made her way to the large wall display at the front of the room.
"Commodore, what do you know about, SECTION 31?"
Dimitri paused for a second. He knew he had to play this situation very carefully. "I've heard rumors, ma'am. That's all,"
"Well, all you need to know is that they handle the dirty work when it comes to protecting the peace. They're very powerful and very secretive. Within the Section, there is a branch known as THE PROGRAM. It is this department which uses outside contractors for specific missions concerning questionable threats."
The anonymous man continued. "Treaties with various races have been preventing us from going after potential enemies, or helping ‘questionable' allies. THE PROGRAM was established to work outside of Starfleet to handle these situations."
Admiral Porter activated one of her personal files. The holographic image of a small spaceship and its crew appeared on screen. She started the mission briefing. "During Wolf 359, I was assigned to rescue and relief efforts. During our second pass through the Starfleet wreckage, we came across this unidentified ship. It had a small crew, all but three were dead, and it was apparent they had just come out of a severe battle of some kind. We assumed it was just another Federation vessel. But we discovered it had remnants of Borg technology interwoven in its structure."
Dimitri turned his attention away from the message pad and listened closely.
The Admiral continued. "The three survivors, two Vulcans and a Human, were brought aboard and treated for severe bruises and radiation burns."
The anonymous man took over. "After an extensive investigation, it was discovered that they were survivors from an alternate universe." He watched Dimitri's eyes widen. "In their universe, the Borg conquered Earth after Wolf 359 and went on to take over the Alpha Quadrant. The three survivors had just spent several of their years fighting for humanoid freedom when a system malfunction somehow opened a wormhole and pulled them back in time, literally into the battle of Wolf 359.".
The Admiral continued. "Under my supervision, the Department of Temporal Investigations did a six month study on this occurrence. Their theory is that the Helix caused some type of change in the timeline when they arrived at Wolf 359. Some subtle deviation on their part tipped the balance in our favor, creating the timeline as we know it."
Dimitri smiled. "Of course, this is all speculation?"
The Admiral smiled. "Perhaps. In any case, I pulled Alex Garret and his team into THE PROGRAM and they became my top operatives." She highlighted the crew bios. "A year ago, Alex and his team were part of an investigation which uncovered the Dominion's initial plot of invading the Alpha Quadrant. Afterwards, due to questions of loyalty, they decided to go AWOL."
The anonymous man interrupted. "In a nutshell, Alex and Team Helix have taken part in crimes against The Federation since then. Under PROGRAM supervision, they would've been given immunity."
The Admiral concluded. "Now, since they've broken ties with us, they are accountable for those crimes. You're assignment is to locate and apprehend them."
Dimitri decided to dig a little deeper. "With all due respect, Ma'am. The Atlantis and my crew are mainly used for temporal maintenance and repairing the timeline. I'm sure there are better qualified teams for this."
"I won't have you questioning my judgment, Commodore." The anonymous man said sternly. "It's my job to pick the best officers for the assignment, and your job to carry out those orders. Is that understood?"
"Yes, Sir." Dimitri replied with a hint of disapproval. "We should be ready to leave dry dock in about a week."
The anonymous man swiveled his chair to face the window. "You have six hours."
"Sir? My crew won't be fully assembled for another twelve hours and..."
"Then they will meet you en route. That will be all, Commodore."
Dimitri stood and quickly left the conference room, leaving Cynthia to ponder her associate's judgement.
"He's doesn't seem to be on the same page as us, old friend." She said.
"He's the best I got, Cynthia. He'll accomplish the mission. That's what he does."
Admiral Porter found a seat next at the conference table.
He turned to her. "There's nothing to worry about."
"That's easy for you to say." She said with a smile. "THE PROGRAM has run over a thousand simulations of the coming anomaly. Our projections say there's an 87% chance that a major temporal catastrophe will occur and Alex will be the focal point. If the Commodore is as good as you say, he'll be there to fix whatever goes wrong."
"And what of your other problem? How long until you're operation is exposed?"
The Admiral sighed. "Chapel has already obtained my private logs. Fortunately, I used Borg encryption methods obtained from the Helix, so it'll be months before he gains access to them. In any event, THE PROGRAM has less than a year before Chapel and Section 31 pulls the plug on me."
The black man stood and adjusted his uniform. "Unfortunate. I hope you understand that this must be our last meeting. I cannot risk your troubles uncovering my plans."
The Admiral nodded with a grin. "I understand, old friend. And since the Atlantis has been assigned to bring Alex home to me, here is my part of our deal." She handed him a data chip. "It contains all the data we've retrieved from the Helix's Borg-enhanced technology. There's enough information to push Starfleet decades ahead in the weapons race."
The anonymous man smile. "Well then, Starfleet and I thank you." He said as he tapped his comm-badge. "Oh, and Admiral? Do me a favor. Watch your caboose." In an instant, he disappeared as the transporter signal washed over him, leaving Cynthia Porter to ponder her situation.
"Knock on wood." She whispered to herself. "Let's hope this works. With Chapel keeps pushing his investigation of me, I'll be out of a job with a price on my. And when that happens, I've got to have Team Helix back in my pocket."
ACT 1: JUDGMENT
Mia had forgotten how bad life was on the run.
In the year since their departure from THE PROGRAM, life for Team Helix had been difficult. They didn't realize how accustomed they had grown to being given weapons and supplies by Admiral Porter. Now they simply lived from mission to mission, acquiring weapons and supplies from people they would normally consider bitter enemies.
But this was supposed to be the big payoff.
A reliable contact of theirs heard that a piece of Borg technology had been detected on the moon of Nuvellis. The mission would be easy: go in and secure the artifact and then sell it to the highest bidder. They hadn't counted on someone else getting to the artifact sooner. The Kadre, a race of predatory insects had already secured the large structural artifact for their Kadrean Empire. They knew a race as violent as The Kadre couldn't be allowed to possess technology so advanced. It would mean intergalactic war for certain.
So now, their 'salvage' mission had turned into ‘search and destroy'.
Fifteen minutes ago, Alex and Kyle had transported inside the massive structure. Mia, Tash and a team of hired Maquis soldiers journey in on foot to attack from the outside and secure the parameter. At the same time, Ian and Jann, aboard the Helix were aiding a fleet of Maquis Raiders in attacking the Kadre Destroyer barge in orbit to keep them occupied.
"This is gonna be trouble." Mia said trudging through the thick marsh on Nuvellis. With a Batleth firmly in her grip, Mia hacked her way to a small clearing. She reached into her satchel and pulled out an electronic map just as Tash and the Maquis patrol entered the clearing.
"What's the word?" Tash said as he signaled for the others to stop and take a break.
Mia accessed the map. "We're about twenty minutes west of the structure. Knowing Alex, he and Kyle have already started the fireworks." She put the map away and grabbed her phaser. "We'll split into two teams so we can approach from opposite sides."
"You're expecting heavy resistance?"
She smiled. "Don't I always?"
Inside the Borg structure, Alex scanned the area from behind a damaged bulkhead; his phaser rifle slowly crossing the span of the room. The air was filled the gray smoke and the smell of charred flesh. Kadre bodies were littered around the cargo bay's entrance, the only people alive were the two crewmembers of the spacecraft christened: Helix.
Kyle studied the nearby bodies closely. "They were ripped apart. What do you think did this?"
"I'll give you one guess. It starts with a ‘B' and ends with an ‘ORG'. We have to blow this thing before they can manage to get a distress signal out."
Kyle pointed to a particular section. "At least the Kadre aren't all dead. According to the sensors, at least six of them should be concentrated in the lower ends of the structure. I guessing it's their science team in the control room."
"I hate begin a 'third wheel'. How long do you think it'll take for the Borg or the Kadre to pinpoint us?" Alex asked reconfiguring the settings on his phaser-rifle.
"Between three and five minutes. Mia and Tash should have the parameter neutralized by then." Kyle adjusted the long satchel over his shoulder and took off for the entrance. "Come on..."
They quickly made their way through the gray haze, quickly planting small explosive charges along the way.
In Orbit, a fleet of ten Maquis Raiders ran organized strafing patterns across the Kadre warship. Phaser fire sprang back and forth like an entangled web of light rays and explosions, which weighed heavier on the side of the Maquis. Within the fury of this battle, the starship Helix's powerful guns swept across the Kadre's shields, hoping to find a weak point for the other ships to focus on.
"Tara, I got a fifty-two percent drop in the Kadre's aft shields!" Jann Jaxa called out over the hailing system. She had positioned herself at the Helix's tactical station and pushed the automated weapons system to their capacity like Mia had taught her.
Tara, the Maquis Fleet Commander's image fluttered on the main viewer. "Acknowledged! Any word from Alex?"
"Not yet. Their E.T.A. for the objective is still four minutes off."
"I don't think my ships will last that long! I've already lost two ships with good people!"
Ian, who was at the navigator's position, grew impatient. "Then pull your ships out! We can handle the blunt of the attack!"
Tara grew frustrated. "No! My people have never backed down from a fight. And besides, if the Kadre get their hands of that Borg Technology, it's a pretty good chance we'll all be paying for it down the road. Well keep ‘em busy. Just make sure your people are handling their part of the deal!" the screen went blank.
"Slow down!" Alex called out to Kyle, who was racing through the Borg corridors like he'd lived their all his life. "I can barely see where I'm going with all this smoke."
"Can't do it! We got company!" Kyle replied grabbing the phaser-rifle strapped to his shoulder.
Alex caught up with him in time to see them coming in the frontal distance. Through the steam springing from ruptured pipes all around them, he could see figures hanging, crawling and jumping along the apparatus attached to the walls and ceiling. Their six arms and four legs enabled them to move with lightning speed; almost existing as living blurs.
"Head's up!" Kyle called as he raised the rifle. Instead of a steady stream of energy, which is the usual expenditure, the rifle let loose a set of automatic disrupter shots which attacked the converging Kadre like an uzi. He used all his strength to hold the powerful weapon steady. The barrage ripped through the Kadre with unbridled fury. The creatures screamed as the disrupter fire blew off limbs and gutted flesh and metal.
After the five second assault, Kyle tossed the weapon aside and watched it melt onto the floor plates. "They don't make ‘em like they use to." He said smiling at Alex and then taking off.
They quickly rounded the corner and found themselves in front of the control room area. Alex activated the entrance panel on the wall and the four-piece blast door slid open. As they entered, they expected to find resistance from more soldiers.
What they found were six insect bodies on the floor; four intact, the others ripped apart.
Standing unaffected amidst the carnage, they suddenly spotted red beams of light coming from the shadows. Alex raised his weapon and readied himself for the assault. Quickly, from the shadows, a Borg drone soaked with orange Kadre blood stepped toward them.
Alex fired a series of shots, which struck the Borg head on. But it had already adapted to the rifle's frequency and the blows had no affect. It swung its right arm in a roundhouse motion and caught Kyle in the head. The large Trill was lifted off his feet and thrown hard into the wall.
The thing's other arm swung at Alex, but he ducked successfully and dove for the Borg's midsection. He speared the drone in the stomach and knocked it to the floor.
"Kyle, set the charges!" he yelled as the drone pushed him away and began to stand.
Kyle was already at the command console and setting the charges.
Alex grabbed a nearby metal pipe and went to strike the drone, but it was a fatal mistake. As he lifted the pipe over his head, the creature extended is right arm and from the back of its hand, two long assimilating probes sprang forth. The two needle-like tubes caught Alex firmly in the neck and released a series of nano-probes instantly. He could feel the probes spreading from his neck and across his body like hot liquid. But unlike other people, the assimilation process would be incredibly swift.
Years before, when Alex and the original Team Helix existed in an alternate timeline, Alex sacrifices his self to save the team and was captured by the Borg. He was then assimilated into The Collective-- reborn as the demonic Anti-Borg known as Axis. For two months, he raged war against his former friends in The Resistance, claiming the lives of more than ten thousand men, women and children.
Then, during the historical battle to reclaim Vulcan, Team Helix was able to capture Axis and separate him from The Collective. For the next six months while Alex remained comatose, human scientists probed and experiment on him. They were able to remove about 60% of the implants, but the others were fused within his body. They had become apart of him, and from that point on, Alex had to live with the memory of his actions, along with the extra twenty pounds of artificial Borg implants.
And now, as the new set of nano-probes course through his body, they quickly started to replace what had been removed those many years ago.
Kyle turned in time to see it all happen. "Alex!!" he cried as his friend stumbled backwards and fell to floor lifeless.
In an instant, Kyle was on the Borg with a vicious intent. He sent a hard elbow into the creature's neck causing it to move off balance. Then a quick leg sweep sent it to floor. Finally grasping the metal pipe Alex had before, he planted into the drone's chest. The creature momentarily twitched, but eventually went lifeless.
Kyle scurried over to Alex who was already turning a dark shade of gray. The Internal implants from his previous assimilation sprung to life and began to burst through his skin. The pain was overwhelming.
"Kyle," Alex spoke in a garbled voice.
"Shut up and conserve your strength." Kyle replied. "I'm getting you out of here."
Alex grabbed his wrist as it went for his comm-badge. "Must… set… charges," his vocal cords began to twist and reform. "Destroy this thing,"
Reluctantly, Kyle agreed and quickly ran for the command console. He set the remaining charges around the room was the accuracy of experience. "That ought to do it."
As he went to reach for the detonator, he suddenly felt an iron grip fasten onto the back of his collar and violently pull him away. He felt his feet leave the floor and his body toppled end over end until he met the wall. As he tried to straighten himself up, he saw the thing, which attacked him.
"Alex!" he screamed as he saw his commander standing in front of the console.
"PROGRAM INITIATED." The Alex-Thing spoke. "DRONE DESIGNATE: AXIS COMPATIBLE FOR PHASE 2; INITIATE". Now the walking corpse which use to be Alex Garret took what use to be his right arm and drove it into the command console. Instantly, the technology around them began to flicker to life. The structure's systems, which hadn't been active in years, were now springing to life and Alex instructed the giant structure on what to do.
Kyle tapped his comm-badge. "Mia! We got trouble. Alex has been assimilated and he's taking over the structure!!"
"Axis." he heard her reply. "Kyle, listen to me! You have to get him aboard the Helix! We can still reverse the process."
"I'm on it!" Kyle said rising to his feet. He quickly reached for his hand phaser and fired at Axis. But he had somehow already adjusted to the weapon's frequency and paid no attention to Kyle's assault. Kyle then increased the weapons setting and fired again. This time the energy beam passed by Axis and struck the equipment console. The display Axis was working on erupted in a series of explosions. The equipment around them began to lose power.
This time, Kyle's actions had gotten Axis' attention. The creature turned and glared at Kyle.
"RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!" Axis screamed and he lunged for his former friend. Kyle quickly jumped out of way and ran for the other dead drone on the floor. He quickly pulled out the pipe stuck in its chest, and wielded it like a baseball bat.
Kyle raised the pipe. "O.K. Alex, let me show you what I know about resistance!" Just as he began to swing the pipe, Axis again took his right arm and drove it into a nearby wall console. In that instant, the entire structure started to shake violently. In mid-swing, Kyle lost his balance and fell backwards. The room trembled so intensely that Kyle couldn't seem to get his senses straight. But through all the chaos around him, he could see Alex-thing slowly walking toward him; his claw-like right arm raised and ready to strike.
Kyle knew he was in trouble. "Uh oh..."
Outside the structure, Mia and her troops had just reached the entrance to see the large structure slowly pulling itself out of the ground. The ground around it, which the Kadre had fortified was now being liquefied by this transformation. The insect troops screeched and tried to themselves out of the pool of swirling dirt and gravel, while Mia and the others looked on.
Tash stared at the Borg structure, which had now started to slowly rising from the ground. The large dome building turned out to be a massive sphere. "Mia, we need to get these people out of here!"
Mia tapped her comm-badge. "Mia to Helix! Get us out of here; fifteen to beam out!"
Kyle dodged the Borg's blow and rolled out of harm's way. "Mia, get us out of here!" he said tapping his comm-badge.
Just as the transporter signatures began to commence, Kyle saw Axis quickly tapp a few buttons on a computer pad, attached to his left fore-arm, just as he materialized.
Kyle materialized on the Helix's bridge by himself.
"Where's Alex?" Mia said approaching him.
Kyle sighed in frustration. "He somehow blocked the signal as I came through. He's still aboard the sphere."
Tash called out. "The sphere!"
On the view screen, they watched the large Borg ship slowly rise out of the planet's atmosphere. As soon as it got clear, the ship pushed into warp; the Kadre destroyer following in close pursuit.
"Ian…" Mia started to call out.
But he was already ahead of her. "I'm on it." He replied as the he navigated the Helix into a tight turn and matched the Borg ship's course. "Bad news, we sustained damage during our scuffle with the Kadre. We can only maintain Warp 6. At that speed, the Borg will pull out of range in forty-two minutes."
"It'll have to do." Tash replied.
"This can't be happening?" Mia said flopping down into the command chair. "..not again."
"Somebody please fill me in!" Kyle yelled.
Mia buried her head into her hands and sighed. Kyle had always known Mia to be a cool headed person under pressure. Seeing her in this condition let him know that the situation was grave.
Tash walked to her and put his hand on her shoulder.
He had to give Kyle an explanation. "You know that during The Assimilation Wars in our timeline, Alex was captured and transformed into a Borg.
"Right." Kyle replied. "But then you guys saved him."
"There's more to the story. You see, our mission wasn't to rescue Alex during our retaking of Vulcan. Team Helix was suppose to seek him out and stop the Axis EXPERIMENT... by killing him. When we finally found him, we made a decision to take him back in hopes of reversing the assimilation process."
"But we were wrong! We should have killed him when we had the chance!" Mia blurted out. "During that time, the Borg realized that there was no way they were gonna to wipe out the galaxy of all life. There were too many races still willing to fight, willing to die for freedom. So they decided to go a different route. After decades of research and the assimilation of races advanced in temporal mechanics, they came up with the AXIS EXPERIMENT.
Tash continued. "The experiment derived from the discovery that ‘time', ‘space' and ‘thought' were interwoven. With the right conditions, the three could be used to alter the perception of existence itself."
Kyle stood shocked. "That's a bunch of crap."
"No. " Mia replied. "It was brilliance. You see, they knew they couldn't stop all of us. So, what better way to get rid of your enemies than by stopping their very creation. If they could master this AXIS EQUATION, they could travel back to the point of the universe's creation and manipulate the course of existence. But they were lacking on crucial element; a life form who's mind was open enough to conceive such a task."
"And that's were Alex came in, I assume." Kyle guessed.
"Yeah." Tash continued. "They viewed Alex as the leader of the most threatening faction of their enemies, so he was the perfect choice, since the human brain has the best capacity for growth."
Mia continued. "When Alex was assimilated, he wasn't programmed to be a drone. He was given his absolute freedom of thought, with a few minor touches to his memory, and made responsible for the EXPERIMENT so his designation became AXIS. He became our deadliest enemy, killing thousands of innocent people with his experiments. And then, he figured out how to do it." She paused to stare at the massive sphere on their view screen. "The operation was divided into three phases. PHASE ONE was to capture and transform the vessel; namely Alex. PHASE TWO was to write the program necessary to create the wormhole. PHASE THREE is to create the time rift, enter it and travel back to a moment just before creation. The theory is that since matter was not yet created, the vessel would exist as pure thought; literally in ‘oneness' with existence. From that point he could shape the time stream to whatever he wanted, namely a universe where only the Borg exist in pure perfection."
Tash took over for a distraught Mia. "We managed to get Alex just as he completed PHASE TWO. We destroyed his lab and everything around it, so we assumed his Axis program was destroyed also. We didn't count on it still existing somewhere within him. We weren't able to fully purge the Borg implants from him. We mainly paused and archived his programming given the REAL Alex a chance to reclaim his body,"
"By the Prophets, he's gonna finish what he started!!!" Kyle finally realized how grave the situation was.
"We can't make the same mistake twice, Kyle." Mia added, not looking up from her slumped position. "Alex is too much of a liability. We have to end this right here and now."
"Are you crazy? There has to be another way. There always is! We just can't kill Alex!!!" Kyle yelled.
Mia looked up at him with a crazed look on her face, tears streaming down her cheeks. "I'm commander of the team now! And we have to destroy AXIS now before he does anymore damage!!!" she stood up and put her hand on Kyle's shoulder. "It's what Alex would've wanted. But he's dead now."
"I'm getting readings from the sphere." Ian called out. "The Kadre destroyer has engaged the Borg." A couple seconds passed. "The Kadre destroyer, has been destroyed."
Mia walked to Tash. "Put out an emergency message on all frequencies! Notify everyone within distance the Borg have started their invasion! Let everyone know the sphere must be destroyed at all cost. And when that's done, initiate the Borg Protocol."
Tash shook his head. "We don't have the power to pull it off. Even if we…."
"I'm not asking for excuses! MAKE IT HAPPEN!"
Without another word, Tash nodded and left the bridge for engineering.
Mia found her way the command chair. "This is bad…"
"Pardon me for saying, Sir. But this isn't exactly what I call fun." Lt. David Gerard whispered to his commander as he struggled with ropes he was tied up in.
"For the last time, David. Don't call me ‘Sir' in here. I am Professor Van Helsing and you are Jonathan Harker." Commodore Dimitri Andreyevich whispered to his partner. "You said you wanted to know what I do to unwind? Well, now you know. Now play along, or I'll kick you out just like Casey."
David smiled. "You know that was totally uncalled for. That ‘thing' tried to bite her."
Dimitri grew frustrated. "That's what was suppose to happen, Damnit. And for the record, in the story, the character of Lucy Westenra does not, and I quote: ‘Kick Devil Ass' like Lt. Casey proposes. Now shut up and play along, or go away!"
"All right, all right." David replied with a smile. He never figured the Commodore for a role player. Especially when it came to ancient early gothic tales. But Dimitri seemed to have an unhealthy fascination with Bram Stoker's tale of forbidden love and passion. And watching Dimitri ‘ham it up' in full gothic dress was almost worth being tied up and dangling upside down in the holodeck.
From the mist before them, an ominous figure materialized and glided into the light. He wore a top hat and small darkened glasses. His light beard was thinly stained with redness.
"Count Dracula, I presume?" Dimitri hammed it up.
But before the holographic monster could answer, "Casey to the Commodore." An incoming message intruded.
Dimitri answered sternly. "What is it now?"
"A priority message coming in from Captain Hennig of the U.S.S. Maximillian. He's requesting all ships in the area for assistance. The message was garbled, but it was something about the Borg."
"How close are we?"
"Seventeen minutes at maximum warp."
"You know the drill, Lieutenant! Go to red alert and plot the course, maximum velocity! We're on our way up." He nodded to David, who had already started untying himself. "Computer, end program!" The gothic locale disappeared just as Dimitri and David exited the room en route to the bridge…
ACT 2: THE END
Five minutes ahead of the Borg sphere, a fleet of seven Starships raced on an intercept course at maximum warp. The U.S.S. Maximillian, a Sovereign-Class starship led the way as the other ships followed in a ‘V' formation.
On board, Captain Joseph Hennig wandered from station to station on the bridge checking with his officers on their readiness. They had been out of dry-dock for only two months, but his crew was one of the best in the fleet.
"Captain?" the helmsman called out. "The Borg ship has changed its course and now heading directly for us."
"Go to red alert." Joseph ordered. "Notify the rest of the fleet to take their positions."
On the view screen, the giant sphere appeared and the bridge crew held their breath."
"Don't give in to fear." Joseph reassured his crew. "We've beaten them back twice before. This is no different. All we have to do is keep them occupied until the cavalry arrives."
Captain Hennig then saw the two dozen shimmering, projectiles which sprang from the sphere. "Incoming fire, evasive maneuvers!"
Hennig held his breath…
"Mia?" Tash called out aboard the Helix. "I'm getting readings. Starfleet has just engaged the sphere."
"Time to intercept?" she asked him.
"They've slowed to impulse, so we should arrive in roughly six minutes."
Mia turned to her navigator. "Ian, I want you to have the Shield Pulsar active when we get in range of the sphere. Then transfer the Borg's shield harmonics to one of the quantum torpedoes. We're gonna have to give Starfleet a little help."
The U.S.S. Maximillian veered hard to the right as the Borg torpedoes raced at the fleet. Two of the other ships weren't so lucky. The shimmering projectiles passed through their shields and struck head on into their saucer sections. The Crazyhorse sustained major damage and toppled out of control away from the battle. As the impact sent a blast through the Pittsburgh, shock waves tore the ship apart.
"Two ships are down!" the tactical officer of the Maximillian reported to her captain. "One destroyed, the other badly damaged!"
Captain Hennig held on to his chair and his ship tilted steeply. "Tell the fleet to spread out. Don't give them easy targets! Attack pattern Sierra! Remember, we just need to keep them occupied!"
While the other ships pushed outward drawing the sphere's fire, the Maximillian raced head on, unleashing a series of phaser shots. But the Borg sphere was unaffected and replied with its own burst of phaser fire. Even with full shields, the Maximillian's started to buckle under the blast.
The engineering station exploded, sending an officer's lifeless body to the floor. The tactical officer quickly took his place.
Suddenly the operations console went crazy. "Captain, incoming quantum torpedoes… from behind us!!!"
Hennig knew there was no time for countermeasures. "Brace for impact!!" he yelled and the crew complied.
But from the view screen, the bridge crew watched the torpedoes passed closely over them and streaked directly for the sphere.
The impact seemed to engulf the entire sphere, but it primarily sent a shock wave across its shields.
"Sir!" the helmsman rejoiced. "That blast took the Borg's shields off-line! Their defenseless!"
Hennig suddenly saw a small unidentified ship streak past them take on the sphere. He had never seen such a small ship with so much firepower. The sphere immediately pulled its guns off of the starships and focused on the Helix.
"Incoming message for the unidentified ship, Sir." The communications officer said.
"Put it through." Hennig replied. Instantly, the image of a Vulcan female appeared onscreen. "Who are you?" he commanded.
"No time for introductions, Captain. All you need to know is if we don't stop the Borg here and now, everything as we know it ends! I suggest you take advantage of this opportunity and give me and my crew a hand in blowing this thing to scrap metal!"
"Understood!" he said as the image disappeared. He turned to the commas officer. "Radio the fleet. We can't wait for the cavalry. All ships attack in full force. We stop them now or we die trying!"
The Starship fleet quickly responded and sent a melee of firepower at the sphere. And this time, their efforts were paying off. The Federation battleships crawled over the Borg craft like ants, their hit and run tactics keeping the sphere of balance.
Mia took her place at tactical and tried to find a weapon in the Helix's arsenal to disable the Borg sphere. "Tash, can we get the Meta-Shields online? Last time we use them, the feedback from the power overload took our everything within ten thousand kilometers."
Tash access the computer's directories. "Since the Borg Protocols are online, we can make it happen, but it'll blow every power source we got aboard. We better make it count."
Just as Mia began to access the weapon's program, the view screen image went fuzzy.
"Incoming message." Tash said.
They expected the grand unveiling of the new Axis onscreen. But the message was 'audio only'. "DRONE DESIGNATE: AXIS COMPATIBLE FOR PHASE 3; INITIATE… YOU… ARE… TOO… LATE…"
All power on the bridge suddenly went dead.
"Tash?" Mia called out.
"It's some type of chronoton pulse. The protocols are off-line! Alex knew we would use the contingency."
At first, Kyle felt a faint tingling in his stomach. It felt as if something was growing. But the unusual feeling suddenly turned into a wrenching of his internal organs. He grabbed his chest and slumped against a nearby console. "What's happening to me?" he whispered.
Mia turned around in time to see him drop to his knees and scream in agony. It was hard to tell, but in the dim light, it looked as if Kyle was becoming translucent. The edges around his body were blurry, as if he were in perpetual motion.
"BY THE PROPHETS, MAKE IT STOP!!" he screamed falling over on his side and rolling around in pain.
"Kyle!!" Mia cried and went to grab him, but Tash pulled her away. "What's happening to him!?" she tore herself away from her brother and screamed at the view screen. "What the hell are you doing to him?!"
And for her last few seconds of existence, she understood.
"YOU… ARE… TOO… LATE…"
The Borg sphere collapsed in on itself creating an effect similar to a supernova implosion. From its center, a series of translucent, green shock waves pushed outward, engulfing everything in its path. The Helix was the first to be hit. And when the anomaly washed over the it, the ship disappeared with a whimper.
The remaining Federation fleet had just enough time to try and escape at maximum warp. But before they could generate a stable warp field, the green anomaly crashed into them like a tsunami.
The ships seemed to be literally washed clean from existence.
Commodore Andreyevich had just entered the bridge of the Atlantis when his ship's systems started to malfunction. The lighting and consoles around him were going haywire and his crew was scattering to remedy to problem.
"Casey, what the hell's going on?" he asked taking his chair. He could tell by his Lieutenant's expression that she was clueless.
"We were getting a battle analysis from the Maximillian when everything went…" Lt. Shelly Casey
"Good God!!!" Lt. David Gerard yelled from the science station. "There's some type of temporal shock wave heading directly for us!!!!"
"Onscreen and magnify." Dimitri ordered.
In pure horror, the bridge crew watched as the anomaly raced toward them, engulfing a nearby planet with twelve moons in a fraction of a second.
"Helm!" Dimitri yelled, gripping his chair tightly. "Get us out of here!!!"
"Too late! Impact in three seconds!!!"
Dimtri dove from his chair and ran for David at the tactical station. "RAISE THE SHIELDS!!! RAISE THE SH…."
Just as Lt. David Gerard's finger brushed the [ SHIELDS ENABLE ] controls, the temporal anomaly washed over the U.S.S. Atlantis.
The crew braced for the impact.
But at the instant of collision, there was none...
Because, at that moment there never was a U.S.S. Atlantis...
Because there never was a Starfleet to commission it.
There never was a United Federation of Planets, or any other Empire, or Alliance…
Countless races watched heavens and witnessed the stars, they had studied,worshipped and admired for so long, being swallowed by the empty sea of nothingness.
For a fraction of a nano-section everything that had come to pass, or that would be destined to occur was erased. The Universe died. Not with a bang, or a whimper, but with a single thought and a yearning for perfection. And when there was nothing left but the dark, emptiness of pure consciousness, a fallen ‘hero' willed the heavens and the planets to be recreated in his image…
ACT 3: LET THERE BE LIGHT…
The bridge of the warship Helix was covered knee-high in a mesh of wires, circuitry, and large, metal fragments. The system stations displays flickered violently as they tried to draw power from the badly damaged power core. The view screen hummed with static, and bodies were intermingled within the floor's debris.
Captain Mia Gan An'War was the first to pull herself out of scrap piles. As she brushed wires and fragments out of her way, she felt a sharp pain in her right arm. She almost screamed but realized she didn't have the energy to do so. Mia glanced at her arm and saw a large jagged metal fragment lodged in her upper arm.
"Captain" she heard someone call from behind her.
Dr. Holluke, the ship's physician, came to her and scanned the damaged arm with his medical tricorder. "You didn't puncture any vital organs, but I'm gonna have to get a med-kit to extract it without doing more damage.
"Not necessary." Mia replied as she grabbed the metal piece and violently yanked it out her upper arm. A surge of Vulcan blood started to pour.
"By the Prophets!" Holluke yelled as he ripped a piece of his uniform and dressed her wound. "That's how you lost the left arm, Damnit! A captain with two bionic arms is no captain at all, young lady." he tightened the dressing with a knot and Mia flinched. "One of these days, you're gonna learn to listen to me for a change!"
"I'm sure I will, Doc. What about the others?"
Holluke scanned the rest of the thoroughly devastated bridge. "I don't know. You're the first."
"Then let's get to it. The last probe reported more Borg patrols at our last position and we don't know how far away we got. We have to find a way to limp back to HQ."
Mia did her best to reroute as much power as she could to the primary systems. She absorbed the bad news. "I'm reading massive hull breaches ship-wide. Life support has failed on decks 1, 2 and 4. Life signs are scarce but contained. I'm gonna reroute engineering and medical systems to the bridge. We're gonna have to find a way for you to get to the wounded." After a few seconds, the emergency lighting system sprang to life and Mia got a good look at the damage.
In the four years she had been Commanding the Helix into battle against the Borg, this was probably the worst beating they had personally taken. RESISTANCE COMMAND had scheduled the Helix to be decommissioned and scrapped a year ago, but she fought to keep it in the fleet.
It was all she had left to remember Alex by. She promised him that if anything happened, she would keep their scrap heap' space-worthy long enough to see the Borg destroyed.
"Wishful thinking." She whispered to herself, almost laughing. She knew the Helix had outlived its usefulness. After all, no other ship in the fleet was responsible for so many victories. "The Battle at Tarok Nor", "The Victory at Cardassia Prime" and "The Assassination of Locutus" were among the greatest.
But the most recent battle gave her a slap of reality. Only two hours ago, she was ordered to lead a small fleet to destroy the Borg's largest sensor array in the Alpha Quadrant. But the intelligence report was flawed. The defenses were too heavy and the fleet had to retreat.
To save the rest of the ships, Mia kept the Helix behind to provide cover fire while the others. The ploy worked to the best of her knowledge. After taking an incredible pounding, they used the unstable "fold" system to transport the ship out of harms way. And that's the last thing she can remember. Lord knows where they are now, and how long it'll take to get back home.
Mia heard the low groan coming from a pile of mesh to her left. A large, hulking figure stood up.
"Well, that was fun." He said with a slight slur.
"You O.K., Cy?" Mia said as she pulled the giant, First Officer out of the pile.
"So far." Cy replied, his one, big red eye rapidly blinking to get focused. "What have you done to my ship, now?"
Mia was beginning to smile just as Dr. Holluke made his way over to her. "What's the diagnosis?" she asked.
He replied. "The rest are dead. From the major damaged we sustained across the board, I'm guessing that the rest of the ship is just as dead. And there's also something you should see."
He quickly led Mia and Cy through the mesh of debris into the far corner of the ship. Holluke continued. "When I accounted for all of us on the bridge at the time of the attack, I found him." He pointed to a man laying face up on a mound of rubble.
"Who the hell is that?" Mia asked. "I know everyone aboard this ship personally and I've never seen him before in my life."
Cy pulled his phaser. "Maybe he's a shape shifter. Can you scan him?"
"No" the Dr. replied. "My tricorder's shot and we have no upper-level sensor systems working."
"Wake him with a hypo-spray." Mia said and Holluke did just that.
The older man stirred. After a minute of squirming, he slowly opened his eyes and stared upward at what use to be the bridge ceiling.
"Are you all right?" Mia called out to him
The stranger turned on his stomach and began to rise to his. "I've been worse." Even though his back was to Mia, he knew who she was. "But then again, you know that." He braced himself on a nearby wall. "Did we get him?"
"What?" Mia asked. "Get who?"
"The damn sphere." He said as he began to turn around and face her. "Did we stop the sphere from creating the. . ." At that moment, Kyle realized that something was not right. He found himself in the company of Mia and two total strangers. "…vortex. Mia, are you all right?" he stepped toward her with a look of concern.
With incredible quickness, Cy stepped in his path and stopped him with a hard shove. Kyle fell backwards into the wall and slid into a sitting position.
Mia knelt down to the man. For a brief instant, she could've sworn he looked familiar. Maybe it was the dim light, which shadowed most of his features. There's was definitely ‘something' about him that was familiar.
"I think you have me at a disadvantage, old man. You seem to know me, but I don't know you."
Kyle stared the strange group of people standing in front of him and his heart skipped a beat. He was sitting on the bridge of the Helix, yet it wasn't the Helix. And his best friend was standing in front of him., yet she was a total stranger. And then with a shock, he remembered. "PHASE THREE."
"What is he talking about?" Cy said turning to Mia.
"I don't have a clue. But I'm pretty sure he doesn't belong here."
"Your right." Kyle said pulling himself to his feet. "None of us belong here. This is all wrong. And we need to talk about making it right again."
"Ouch!!!" Lt. David Gerard exclaimed.
"Serves you right." Dr. Zhivago replied with a slight smile. "If you were sitting in your seat like you were suppose to, and not leaning on the guard rail, you'd still have two good legs. Now, Hold still."
David watched the doctor reset his broken right leg. "Ouch!!!" He glared at the doctor. "You did that on purpose!!!"
The doctor grinned.
Commodore Andreyevich tried his best to reroute power to the science station to no avail. It had been almost fifteen minutes since the Atlantis was struck by the large shock wave and the ship was still dead in space. If they had left dry dock at full strength, they could have rode the wave comfortably. But at 52% efficiency, they were no match.
He tapped his comm-badge. "Andreyevich to Engineering?"
"Poldegin here." Zam, his Chief Engineer responded.
"Any luck restoring power?"
"Just the essentials. Everything is still off-line. I'm trying to reinitialize the matter / antimatter systems, but it's gonna be tricky."
Dimitri became frustrated. "Zam, we need anything you can give us up here."
"Hold on," after a couple of seconds, the lights on the bridge flickered to life. "How's that?"
"It'll do, for now. Warp power and the cloak are your top priorities."
"I'm already on it. Poldegin out."
Dimtri turned to the helmsman. "Antonia, sensor status?"
She ran a quick diagnostic. "Partially online. I think I can work around the problems."
"Good. Put out a distress call to any ship in the area. Hopefully someone got through the shockwave alive." He told her and she obeyed.
Lt. Shelly Casey entered the bridge was conviction. Dimitri quickly pulled her to the side.
"What's the damage?" he whispered.
She wasn't bringing good news. "Five dead, fourteen injured. The internal systems have been fried. Fortunately for us, we had most of the system data backed up for the refit. Zam says we'll be up to speed inside of twenty-six hours."
"Sir?" Ensign Antonia called to Dimitri. "I scanned for the nearest communications buoy," she paused. "There are none."
Dimitri made his way to her with Lt. Casey behind him. "Scan for any type of activity."
"I did Sir. I scanned for Federation ships and stations, nearby settlements, even Romulan and Klingon transmissions. They're all… just gone."
Casey grew agitated. "That's not possible. What's goin' on, Sir?"
Dimitri found his way to the command chair. Now he realized what Admiral Cynthia Porter was talking about. She knew that this temporal anomaly had the potential to occur. And she also knew that the Atlantis had the potential to withstand the occurrence.
"Sir please. What's goin' on?" Casey looked into his eyes and saw that he was clueless. This was definitely not suppose to happen.
"We were suppose to prevent this. I'm not certain, but somehow, the timeline has been changed. There's nothing else out here but us." His eyes met Casey. "We're all that's left of our timeline, and there may be on way to get back…"