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>> Star Trek fan fiction >> Paradigm Shift >> Borg Like Me

Borg Like Me

Continued from: The Borg Will Make us Go


condor memory core activated...
boot sequence start...
)($%^%&*()& (*&*##)###*
((^$###$*^) $*#@@@!@
purge memory buffer...
initializing internal grid...
internal sensor grid active...
)*!)&^--- 108922-2830-290293234-12973
)*!)&^--- 108922-2830-693483253-14973
)*!)&^--- 108922-2830-297373011-00947
initializing external grid...
external sensor grid active...
sensor sweep, sector 43826-110,12322
sensor sweep, sector 263872-198,12343
sensor sweep, sector 1823482-128,20839
signal detected. external sensor grid gain set to maximum.
signal weak, failure to establish coherence.
internal EPS power distribution system monitoring system active.
EPS power system harmonic signature rotating.
EPS power system harmonic signature locked.
rerouting External sensor grid data stream.
EPS power grid monitoring systems unable to match data stream.
reinitializing EPS power grid monitoring system, system structure aided by external sensor system sub-processors.
signal routed through Universal Translator
reinitializing universal translator, tuning signal feed to adjust subspace harmonics.
(*&^&$##%@#((!@^^&@&*@ !@~~~!@&&$##@%%))__==
high level system support requested.
accessing holodeck media processor, access granted.
filtering signal through media processor...
filter Complete.
rerouting through universal translator...
11010-0101-0... help me


Captain Phillip Reming leaned against the long narrow table. His elbows pressed against the imitation wood surface and his chin rooted deep in his clenched fists. His eyes, open just enough to let light seep in, were glazed and dilated. A small amount of drool trickled from the corner of his mouth.

As he sat there, barely breathing, Reming felt hollow inside. When this whole escapade began, he found himself running the gambit of emotions. That was a day ago. Now all Reming felt was depression cleverly disguised as boredom.

Barely changing his position, Reming lazily turned to his left. Seated beside him were his senior officers. His first officer, Commander Reed sat slouched in her seat right beside his. Reed was slumped so far in her seat, her head barely visible above the table. Reming studied her face. She looked emotionally wasted. Obviously she was not handling the situation well at all.

Beside Reed sat Lieutenant Commander Michael Parks, stiff and straight as if posed by a department store widow display worker. His face was oddly blank. His head tiled forward slightly. To Reming, he almost looked dead. At once Reming knew the truth. Mike wasn't dead. He was asleep.

Farther down the length of the table sat Lieutenant Commander Carol Smith flanked by her two subordinate engineers. Even from this distance, Reming could see where tears had streamed down Carol's face. She lost her brother to the Borg only a day ago. There was no changing that fact. Reming wished there were some way for him to relieve her grieving. Perhaps it was best for him to keep his distance.

Reming was about to turn his gaze back toward Reed when something stopped him. He felt the tiny hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. A heavy shadow fell over him. Somebody was approaching from behind. He was about to turn and confront whoever it was, but his movement was thwarted. A heavy hand fell on his shoulder, keeping him seated. The mysterious person knelt down behind Reming and moved in close. Very close now, almost on top of Reming, came a voice directly into his ear. Hot breath formed words and said, "Son, you have to learn to take responsibility for your mistakes. It is the only way you will ever find inner peace."

The voice was deep and broad like that of man endowed with the wisdom only attained from a long life. After uttering the few words into Reming's ear, the man departed. But before the old man could pull his hand away, Reming eyed the bit of uniform that hung over the man's wrist. The sleeve, garnished with gold strips, appeared worn and tattered. In an instant, Reming knew the man to be Admiral Desert, Sarah's father. Reming shrank in his seat. His soul ached with regret.

As the Admiral's words echoed though his mind, Reming let his glassy gaze turn to the front of the room. There, a white haired man wearing a dress uniform sat facing Reming and his crew. He had a name. Of that, Reming was sure. He just didn't care enough to remember it.

The nameless fossil of a man picked up a small gold hammer and flung it angrily against the tiny gold bell sitting on the table before him. "The accused will stand!" he roared. For an old fellow, he was extremely loud.

"Oh shit," Reming murmured to himself. "Here it comes."


subspace communications grid, 22-zero-7-7, access Memory Alpha, crew manifest.
USS Condor, NCC 10286-8, Challenger Class
USS Condor Crew Manifest
Captain Reming, Commanding officer
Commander Donna Reed, First Officer
Lieutenant Commander Michael Parks, Science and Operations Officer
Lieutenant Commander Carol Smith, Chief Engineer
Ensign Nicholas Smith, helm, ***missing in action***
external signal, System Priority, Alert Bridge Crew.
sensor sweep, sector 43116-210,12300
sensor sweep, sector 43116-210,12301
sensor sweep, sector 43116-210,12302
sensor sweep, sector 43116-210,12303
signal detected.
multiple signals confirmed. harmonic signatures confirmed.
external signal, system priority, alert bridge crew.
external signal, system priority, alert bridge crew.
external signal, system priority, alert bridge crew.
command system override
command code alpha-charlie-delta-m-1-20-pi-kihi-12-1-goonza.
command system override.
initialize external communications system.
subspace protocols active.
query Holodeck media center.
query returned.
message constructed.
Initiate auto-destruct sequence.
Are You Sure?


"Starbase 47 docking bay control, this is Condor. Requesting permission to disembark."

A young lieutenant, seated in front of the main docking bay communications terminal, looked up from his PADD. The shimmering body of the green Orion woman emblazoned over its surface quickly faded to black as he placed it on the table. Leaning toward the small microphone, he slapped the communication control and said, "Request denied, Condor. You are ordered to stay put until new crew assignments."

The voice over the speaker paused for a moment before continuing. "Ah, that's a negative control. We have a reactor leak here. We need time to lock it down. Request clearance to depart."

The lieutenant swallowed his last cheese-flavored treat and wiped his orange-coated fingers against his pristine uniform. Sitting bolt upright, he examined a sensor sweep. Satisfied with his findings, he opened the communications line again. "We're not detecting any leak. What are you talking about, Condor?" Sadly, he received no response to his query.

Clearly annoyed now, the young man released his grip from one contact and shifted it to another. "Security team to USS Condor. Fellas, we've got another prankster on our hands. Docking port Alpha-eleven."

A deep throated man answered. "I'm not sending my men on another wild goose chase. The last time this happened, the source wasn't even coming from the ship. Verify it first."

The young lieutenant grit his teeth for a moment before calming himself down. He hated interruptions during lunch. Every day something seemed to come up during the hour he selected for his quiet time. It didn't matter if he ate early or late, there was always an interruption. For a time, the man wondered if the lunch gods were playing with him simply for their own omnipotent amusement.

He hit yet another contact. "Computer, verify location of the last signal."

The stoic computer voice answered. "Signal verified. Location is USS Condor."

"Did you get that, Security?"

"Okay, fine. We're going," grumbled the security officer. "Security out."

The lieutenant switched back to the Condor link. "You hear that, Condor? A security team is on its way to haul your ass to the brig."

The ship-to-station speaker jumped to life once again. This time the voice seemed a little more stressed. "No, it's a large leak, very dangerous. Request clearance."

"Condor, I repeat, there is no leak!"

The young lieutenant's unmistakably irked voice caught the attention of the deck officer, Commander Dodd. "What's the matter, Smithy, somebody interrupting your lunch time again?" he asked with a snicker.

"Some joker on the Condor thinks he's being cute," the lieutenant answered. "I'm sending over security. They'll handle him. I've got it under control, sir."

Then another speaker cracked to life. "Danger! Danger! Auto-Destruct sequence in progress on Starship Condor!"

The situation suddenly seemed less comical to Dodd. He pushed the young lieutenant out of the way and took immediate control of his console. "Computer, scan the Condor for life signs. What the hell's going on over there? I want answers."

"But Commander," protested the lieutenant, "I just said, some joker is fooling around. There's no sign of a leak or anything."

A new voice then made itself heard over the din. It was a female voice. It flooded the entire docking complex, echoing though the hollow chambers. "Warning! Safety protocols auto-initiating. This is not a drill. Space doors are opening. Repeat, space doors are opening."

Beads of sweat ran down the Commander's forehead. In a hurried manner, he shouted, "Computer, pinpoint the life signs on that ship."

"Negative scan. There are no life signs on board the USS Condor," replied the computer, a bit too calmly for the gravity of the situation.

The young lieutenant felt the blood rush from his head down to his feet. "Then who were we just talking to?"

Commander Dodd peered through the immense transparent window that looked over the cavernous upper level docking bay. He stood in silence as the space doors slid open before his eyes. The USS Condor, now free of the gravity field bonds that affixed it tightly to the station, turned to the gaping doorway. With impulse engines flaring, the tiny ship slid gracefully out into the pinpoint infinity of space.


navigation systems online.
auto-destruct system disabled.
External signal received. !--local proximity--! Spacedock Command Override.
Prefix Code beginning 1 - 2 - 3...attempting...
external communications systems deactivated
helm course plotted, impulse engines engaged
transporter systems initialized.
pattern buffer sequence rotating.
minor course correction.
life support systems brought to full capacity, normal operating parameters
minor course correction
external sensor lock confirmed.
minor course correction.
six signals, separated, lock routed to transporter systems.
minor course correction.
helm control rerouted through Holodeck media processor.
media processor purge memory fragment.
//you+bet@I!could,"i'm¬^such(a*bad&pilot!myself//, helm stabilized.
helm confirm, course plotted.
transporter active, pattern buffer sequencing
helm confirm, preparing warp systems, plotting course.
transporter systems energizing


With slow and deliberate movements, Reming took to his feet. In his mind, he knew this was all a formality. His fate was sealed the minute he transmitted his report to Starfleet. Admiral Desert had lost his only daughter while on Reming's watch. Someone would have to pay. Reming knew who that someone would be.

Reming folded his arms and wore a posture suggesting contempt for the whole affair. As he stood there, he contemplated what his next career might be. He could head back to Earth, find a nice clean street corner and become a panhandler. Did they still have panhandlers on Earth? Perhaps he could be the first of a new generation.

"No!" yelled the angry man leading the proceedings. He wagged a crooked finger at the Condor crew still seated. "All of you - stand up! UP! UP! UP!"

With that, the rest of Reming's crew shuffled to their feet. As they did so, Reming took the opportunity to look behind and view the gallery seats behind him. All were empty, save two. Admiral Desert and his weeping wife occupied those. For a fleeting moment, Reming's eyes locked with the Admiral's. The man's cold dead stare sank deep into his heart. The grieving man's words of condemnation filled Reming's head once again. For the first time, he felt truly responsible for the man's loss.

Before the brutish man in the front of the room had a chance to scold him again, Reming quickly turned to face front, matching the posture of those standing beside him. "Please let this end," he muttered quietly to himself.

"Captain Reming," began the irate arbiter, "you and your officers willfully, willfully endangered the life of a Federation citizen entrusted in your care, namely one Sarah Desert, only daughter of the Admiral. Your negligence and stupidity made her the property of the Borg.

"All of you, and I do mean all of you, are charged with treason, gross negligence, and conduct unbecoming an officer. You are all hereby stripped of your rank and placed in protective custody for a minimum of four years planet side, after which time you will be dishonorably discharged from the service.

"Need I remind you - this is a light sentence!" he bellowed, face growing ever redder with each word. "If it were up to me, you'd all be dangling at the end of a rope! Now, do any of you have anything to say for yourselves? Now's your chance! Speak! Speak!"

Reming looked up at the simmering old man and laughed. "Frankly, sir, if I never set foot inside another Starfleet vessel again, it'll be too soon. The time I spent as Captain of the Condor was, without a doubt, the worst experience of my life. And furthermore..."

Reming was so proud of himself. His rant was going very well. Unfortunately, he never had the change to finish it. In a flash, his surroundings abruptly changed. He wasn't in a courtroom anymore. He wasn't even on the starbase anymore. He was back on the bridge of the USS Condor.

End teaser

Reming felt weak. A whirlwind of emotions were churning inside him. He fell to his knees. For a moment, he couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry. Finally, he made up his mind.

Donna Reed was trying hard to discern her new surroundings as well. She knew where she was, but unsure as to how she got there. A weird wheezing sound coming from behind sent a cold bolt of fear up her spine. She quickly turned. Donna sighed with relief. It was Reming, kneeling on the ground and doubled over with laughter.

"What the hell goes on?" said Michael Parks. He was there too. He stepped beside Reed and his collapsed captain. "How did we get here? How did we all get back on the Condor?"

There were times when Commander Reed wished she were in charge. However, there were other times when she was relieved she wasn't. This was one of those times. With a twisted smile, she bent down to meet Reming's gaze. "Well, Captain?"

Reming quickly ceased laughing. He pursed his lips and looked up at Reed. "Didn't you hear the man? I'm not Captain anymore." He folded his arms tightly over his chest. Reming was in full pout mode.

"Oh come on, just this once?" asked Reed with a tight smile.

Her cute smile and flapping lashes were enough to melt Reming's frozen valor. "Oh fine," he said as he rose from the floor. "First things first, where are the others?"

"Computer," barked Reed, "locate Lieutenant Commander Smith, Lieutenant Terry and Lieutenant Masters."

"Lieutenant Commander Smith, Lieutenant Terry and Lieutenant Masters are presently in Main Engineering," answered the Computer.

Reming hit his COMM. badge. "Bridge to Engineering. Carol, are you there?"

Carol's unmistakably raspy voice roared back. "Yes, damn it, I'm here. What the hell is going on?"

Reming winced at Carol's loud barrage of words. "We're working on it. Bridge out."


bridge crew and engineering crew re-assembled.
assemble medical staff.
new helm course plotted, impulse engines engaged.
transporter systems initialized.
pattern buffer sequence rotating.
minor course correction.
external sensor lock confirmed.
minor course correction.
one signal detected, lock routed to transporter systems.
minor course correction.
transporter active, pattern buffer sequencing
helm confirm, preparing warp systems, plotting course.
transporter systems energizing


Lieutenant Edward Tedmoore, safely tucked away in his new quarters on board Starbase 47, whistled joyfully as he unpacked his small travel case. With a smile on his lips, confidence in his stride and arrogance in his heart, he walked his small bundle of socks to their new home inside the dresser.

"Ah, it's all over," he said to himself. "I'm finally off that damn ship. Tomorrow I start searching for ways to remove the Communing chip so Carol and the others can actually serve their sentences, whatever it might be."

He walked over to his small guest bunk and patted it lightly. A nap would do him good right now. Tedmoore stepped away from the bed. "Hmmm, you know I really should get started in the lab. Why wait until tomorrow?" He looked back at the soft inviting bed. "Ah screw it. I need a little me-time."

With one great hop, the parsimonious doctor leapt for the bed. Sadly, he never hit it. A transporter beam enveloped him in mid flight. To his surprise, instead of a feathery bed, he found the cold dark floor of the Condor's Medical bay flying toward him at great speeds. He hit it hard.

After that, Doctor Tedmoore was no longer smiling.


"Look at this," yelled Parks. "I've got a transporter signal here. Someone just beamed on board."

"To where?" asked Reed.

"Uh, the Medical bay it looks like."

"Probably the good doctor. He beamed himself over?"

"I doubt it. He couldn't wait to be free of this ship. Somebody else beamed him on board, like the rest of us." Reming rubbed his chin, deep in thought. He rubbed at it so hard, Reed wondered if his face might catch fire. "Well," he continued, "the gangs all here. For some reason, somebody wants us all back together. The question is, why?"

"Hey Mike, is anyone else on the ship besides the seven of us?" asked Reed.

Parks took a moment to study the proper readout. "Uh, no ma'am."

Reming knit his brow even more than before. "Then who beamed us out of our own court marshal and back here? Somebody on the station, maybe? Could the Admiral be behind it?"

Reed offered up a sarcastic laugh. "You mean Admiral Desert? The guy's daughter we got assimilated? You think he helped us escape? Why on Earth would he do something like that?"

"It's obvious, isn't it? So we'd go rescue her."

Reed looked at Reming, clearly awestruck. "Are you sick or something?"

"I might be, but that's beside the point. Look, I say we go look for her. Maybe we'll find her."

Reed shook her head. "She's a drone by now. It would be impossible to find her, much less save her."

"Nothing is impossible. Who knows - if we do somehow bring Sarah back, the Admiral will be so glad, he'd probably get our charges dropped, or maybe you want to spend the next four years in a Starfleet penal facility?"

Reed grew agitated. She slammed her fist and stuck out her jaw. "Look, we're in real trouble here. I don't know how we got back on the Condor, but it doesn't really matter. If we don't turn ourselves in, we'll be charged with theft of a starship."

Reming smiled. "Calm down. You wanted me to figure this out, didn't you? Look, someone went to a lot of trouble get us all back here. Why should we just turn ourselves in?"

"Because it's the right thing to do? What happens if we get caught gallivanting around space?"

"Oh that's simple." Reming smiled even broader. "We don't get caught."

Reed closed her eyes and fell back in her chair in exasperation. Reming was impossible to deal with when he refused to make sense. "Oh, I give up," she sighed. "You win."

"Of course. Donna, take the helm and set a course for that nearby nebula. We'll hide out there while we figure things out."


"Wake up, Doc. Doc, what are you doing on the ground?"

The world seemed a little fuzzy to Doctor Tedmoore as he woke. His head ached. He was lying, face down, on the cold hard Medical bay floor. And someone was shaking him in an annoying manner. Slowly, he rolled himself over to face his tormentor. "What? Is that you, Nick?"

"Nick? Man, you must have hit your head harder than I thought. It's Mike. Michael Parks. Nick was assimilated along with Sarah. Don't you remember?"

"I know your last name, Mike," said Tedmoore, rubbing his throbbing head. "And I know what happened to Nick. I'm just a little confused. How the hell did I get back here?"

"That's the big question. The Captain has his ideas. I'll let him tell you. I think he wants it to be a surprise or something. I'm a little worried about him. He seems a little off." Parks reached his hand out to Tedmoore. The doctor reached up and placed his hand in Mike's. With one swift pull, Mike had Tedmoore back on his feet.

"I was just about to take a nice nap on my comfy bunk when I was beamed here. Did you know that?" whined Tedmoore, rubbing his head.

"Oh really? That's interesting. We were just about to be hauled off to the brig when we were beamed here." The Doctor's arrogance sickened Mike. At this point, he wished he left the bastard face down on the deck.

"So you got jail time -- I figured as much," muttered the doctor.



"You want to do something about that bump on your head or you just want to go?"

Tedmoore, still nursing his wound, shook his head. "Nah, I'll be fine. Why? Where we going? Back to the station?"

"No. The Cap called for a meeting in the briefing room."


Reming looked across the wide-eyed faces seated around the conference table. Each one looked a bit haggard. There was no point in keeping them waiting, so Reming and, "Okay, folks. I suppose you all have questions. Let's hear them."

His request triggered a barrage from nearly everyone. Only Reed, to his right, sat quietly with her hands folded neatly in her lap.

Reming couldn't make out a specific question from the rabble. The gush of voices and frantic gestures made concentration impossible. Reming needed to get control of the situation. He raised both hands in an attempt to quiet the room. To his surprise it worked.

He lowered his hands and said, "Okay, that didn't work. Instead, let me address what I think your questions are. You're probably wondering who brought us all hear. I don't know, but I have a theory. As you all know, Sarah Desert, the Admiral's daughter, sacrificed herself to the Borg in order to save us. The Admiral, heart broken by the loss, made sure we'd suffered for it - hence, the court-marshal. But, making us suffer wouldn't bring his daughter back, would it? So Admiral Desert, at the last minute, pulled in some favors to get us sprung. The catch is, we have to get Sarah back."

"And the Admiral said all this to you? He told you that he wants us to rescue his daughter?" asked Carol.

"Well no, not exactly. He did say something to me in the courtroom. At first, I thought he was trying to talk me into suicide..."

"Well, if he didn't tell you, who did?"

"Well, no one. I told you, this is my theory."

"Let me get this straight," said Tedmoore. "You think the Admiral rescued you from the same court-marshal that he ordered?"

"Well, when you put it that way..."

"Why not just drop the charges and order us out to save his Daughter, if that's what he really wanted?" asked Parks. "Why make us go through a trial?"

"That's easy," said Reming. "Because even the Admiral has people to answer to. They'd never let him order us out on a mission to save one person. So he had to find another way to get us back to our ship."

"But why not at least say something to us?" asked Reed. "Why not leave us a message or something?"

"That I don't know. Maybe he feared being implicated in our escape if some evidence of his involvement was discovered."

"So, what do you propose we do now?" asked Tedmoore, still rubbing his swollen head.

"That's obvious, I would think," said Reming. "We get his daughter back." His statement drew murmurs. To Reming, the group was looking less like his crew and more like an angry mob. "Look, people, it's either that or we turn ourselves in, but, if we do, we're looking at even more charges."

"Not me," said Tedmoore. "I wasn't charged with anything to begin with."

Reming grew a little perturbed at the Doctor. He flung a finger in the man's face. "You really think you'd slink out of it again, Doc? Come on, you really think anyone would believe you were mysteriously beamed away against your will? You think they'd believe any of us?"

"And if we somehow rescue her? Then what?"

Reming leaned back with both hands resting behind his head. "Then we're all heroes. We get a ticker-tape parade and a full pardon."

Carol raised her hand. "Fine. I'm in, under one condition."

"What's that?" asked Reming.

"We look for my brother too."

"Yes," added Parks. "Nick sacrificed himself for us just as much as Sarah did. He deserves our help as much as she does."

Reming was about to protest, but decided against it. "Okay, fine." After his concession, Reming could almost feel some of the air escape from the room, relieving the pressure. After a sufficiently dramatic pause had lapsed, he said, "So, are we all in this? If anybody wants out, I need to know now."

Tedmoore raised his hand. "I want out."

Reming ignored him. "So, that's it then. We're all in." Looking a bit pitiful, the doctor slowly retracted his hand back to his side. "Okay, gang. Now all we need is a plan."

"Well, we need to find the Borg, I guess," said the statuesque Commander. "We could try and call them, like the Pakled did."

"No," said Reming. "We don't want to bring them here, that's too dangerous. We need to go to them."

Carol Smith spoke next. "Okay, fine. It's common knowledge that Borg homespace is located somewhere in the Delta Quadrant. Let's set course now. We should get there in, oh, eighty years or so."

As if on cue, the holographic projector in the center of the conference table came to life. The ghostly image of a massive celestial body nested in an immense star field floated a few inches above the table.

"What's that?" asked Reming.

Magically, the words 'Grahalla Wormhole' appeared below the image.

"Oh, I know about that," announced Parks. "The Grahalla wormhole. It leads into the Delta Quadrant."

"Okay, that'll get us into the Delta Quadrant, but it doesn't get us anywhere near Borg space," added Carol flipping her hair towards Reming. "Half of forever is still forever. I wish there was some way to boost our warp capability."

Again, the holographic projector winked to life. The wormhole image disappeared. In its place appeared a three-dimensional schematic of a warp coil, but not just any warp coil.

The synapse in Parks' brain flashed, nearly knocking him off his seat. "Oh! I know that one too! It's a transwarp coil. I read about those."

"But I thought they were just theoretical," conceded Reed. "None actually exist, do they?"

As if to answer Reed's question, the holographic display changed again. The crisp schematic dripped away. It its place appeared a fuzzy bluish orb surrounded by a velvet cloak. Below it were the words 'Galor IV'.

"Galor IV? The Daystom Institute of Technology has a annex there, right?" asked Carol in a rhetorical fashion.

"Who can get us inside?" asked Reming.

"I can," said Tedmoore, meekly. "My security clearance should get me in, that is if my access codes haven't been revoked by now."

"Carol, given that we don't have a full crew. Could you and your small staff install the transwarp coils yourselves?"

Carol stared blankly at Reming, passed the shimmering planet hovering above the table. "Yes, sir. I think so."

"Good. Meeting over. Mike, set course for Galor IV. Carol, do whatever you need to do to prepare for the transwarp coil installation."

As everyone began standing, preparing to leave, Doctor Tedmoore yelled out, "Wait just a damn minute!" His outburst sent everyone sinking back into their seats. "Have you all gone bananas? Do you even hear yourselves? You're talking about stealing Starfleet property. You really think they'll let you walk in and take highly sensitive, very expensive property like transwarp coils?"

Reming smiled wildly. "Come one, Doc. We're all a part of Starfleet - one big happy family. Who'll refuse us?"

"Have you forgotten, we're also fugitives."

Reming lost his smile. His expression took on a more sober appearance. "Let's hope news travels slowly."

"Okay, assuming we steal the transwarp coils, and can make them work, what then? Borg homespace? How do you plan to get our people back?"

"We'll use force, if necessary."

"What to you plan to use against them, harsh language? This ship wouldn't last a second against one fully operational cube, much less hundreds. How will you find the Admiral's daughter? You don't even know if Nick is alive!"

Clearly, Reming was losing the argument. All eyes, wide and dry, turned their focus on him. Reming hardly noticed. He leaned forward and transfixed his gaze on Tedmoore. "Doctor, either we all work together on this or we quit now. If we can't work as a team, then there's no point in even trying. If you insist on continuing to weaken the morale on this ship, I will have no choice but leave you on Galor IV. I only ask that you help us get those coils. After that, tell the authorities whatever you wish. Tell them we forced you to help us. Tell them we threatened you. Tell them anything. It doesn't matter. We're doing this, with or without you. I'd rather have you with us than against us. Each of us has a skill. Yours could come in handy. So, I need to know. Are you in or are you out?"

Tedmoore seemed a little taken back by Reming's sudden bravery. Perhaps the Captain was loosing his hold on reality. Perhaps his hold on reality was stronger than ever before.

Tedmoore didn't fear Starfleet. However, he did fear the dark power that was the Borg. Yet there were others he feared even more. His bosses, well hidden in some dark and mysterious corner of Starfleet, could be more terrifying than even the Borg. Tedmoore considered this when he answered. "Okay, I'm in."

His answer surprised Reming, but he didn't show it. "Good." He turned to the others. "You all have your orders."

As the others filed out of the room, Reed leaned close beside Reming. In a whisper, she said. "Excellent presentation, Captain. It was your best work. I loved those holographic projections. When did you do all the research? When did you have time to program the projector?"

Reming looked up at Reed with surprise. "Me? I didn't have anything to do with it. I thought it was you."

"It wasn't me," said Reed, looking equally surprised.

"Captain!" yelled Parks over the communications link. "We've got trouble out here."

Reming stood and waved Reed on ahead. "We're on our way, Mike."


A blurry mist filled the main view screen. It was the ionized gas of the nebula surrounding them. Inside it, the Condor hid like a fox in the bramble. The reddish mist twisted and rolled here and there in a hypnotizing manner. Reming couldn't help but stare at the sight for a minute before taking his seat beside Reed.

"What's the problem, Mike?" asked Reming.

"It seems like we're the Problem," said Parks. "I'm detecting several small ships just outside the nebula. They're looking for us. They know we're in here, I guess."

Reming bit his knuckle. "Damn, I kinda hoped they wouldn't find us so fast. I guess there was nowhere else for us to go."

"We can't arrive at Galor IV with a fleet of ships trailing us," said Reed. "We need a way to clean up our ion trail so we can't be followed. Any ideas?"

"I don't think it's ever been done before," said Parks.

A sudden clarity came over Reed. She quickly snapped her fingers. "Wait a second, how does the holodeck make the air smell so good for all those outdoor programs? Does anybody know?"

Reming twisted his face. "What are you talking about?"

Parks, not bothered by the fact that Reed's question seem to have nothing to do with their current predicament, answered her question without hesitation. "It creates an abundance of negative ions and ozone to clean the air. Just like those little air cleaning devices some people have in their homes."

"But how does the holodeck produce the negative ions?"

"Simple. It uses small electrical discharges." The last part spoken by Parks seemed to trail off into a mumble. He was beginning to catch Reed's idea. "Wait, I get it now."

"I was hoping you would," said Reed, grinning.

"I wish I knew what you two were babbling on about," growled Reming

"We need to clean up space!" pronounced Parks. "All we need to do is produce an electrical discharge from the warp engines. The effect should nullify our ion trail."

"We're going to use an air freshener on space? Sounds too simple," said Reming.

"I might work," said Reed.

"It won't work," said Reming.

"It will work!" said Parks. He quickly hit his Comm. badge. "Carol are you back in Engineering yet?"

"Just got here," replied Carol. "What's up? Don't tell me you want me back up on the bridge?"

"No, no. Can you release an electrostatic discharge?"

"You mean right here, in front of everybody?"

"No, I mean can you get the engines to produce an electrostatic charge while at warp?"

"Well, sure. I guess. Friction generates electrostatic energy as the ship moves through space. The ship uses special dampers to cancel them out. I could disable the dampers I guess. But, it can be dangerous. A large discharge can cause a catastrophic failure of the warp drive."

"Carol, would it be possible to regulate the amount of electrostatic-ic-is-ity, whatever, you know?"

"I suppose so. Why?"

At this point, Reming joined the conversation. "We want to use it to disperse our ion trial. Get it ready, Carol. We leave in ten minutes."


"This is the Santa Cruz reporting in," said the young Lieutenant piloting the bulky runabout at the edge of the gaseous cloud. "I'm not getting anything on the scanners. Request permission to move in closer."

"Negative, son," said a voice over the ship's speakers. "Not yet. Let's wait for them to make the first move."

A small sensor alarm went off on the Lieutenant's console. "Wait, sir. I'm getting something - a large energy signature. It's..."

The lieutenant looked up to see the narrow bow of the USS Condor poking out of the thick gaseous clouds directly ahead of him. The collision alarms blared through the cabin and in the Lieutenant's ears. He hit the breaks just in time. "I have them!" he shouted. "I have the Condor! It's here right in front of me!"

"Good work, son. We're on our way," shouted the same voice. "Don't let them out of your sight."

"Aye sir," said the Lieutenant, brimming with pride. He sat there and watched the USS Condor silently glide forward, freeing itself from the fog. The lieutenant opened a communication link with the Condor. "Condor, I am ordering you to follow me back to Starbase 47. You can't escape. We have you surrounded."

At that moment, the Condor's warp nacelles flared. The flash forced the Lieutenant to squint his eyes and briefly turn away. Space quickly expanded, stretching the Condor like a rubber band. Then, in a flash, it was gone.

The Lieutenant hit the communications link. "Commander, they're gone! They went to warp."

"Well, what are waiting for? Follow them. We'll catch up."

"Aye sir." The lieutenant scanned for the Condor's flight path. The scanty results puzzled the young man. "Commander, I can't. There's no ion trial."

"What?! What do you mean?"

"I mean I'm looking at the scanner now and there's nothing there. I'm sorry, sir. They're gone."


The planet Galor IV loomed large on the Condor's main viewer. To everyone's surprise, they had made it this far without incident. The static discharge idea worked. Their ion trial was significantly erased. No one followed. Somehow, they made one miracle happen. Two more and they'd be canonized.

"Put us in orbit, please, Mike," said Reming.

Reed hit her Comm. badge. "Doctor, Carol, you're up. Report to the transporter room."

"Now, as soon as we get back on board, you know where to go, right?" asked Reming, getting to his feet.

"I know," smiled Reed. "I'm not that confident we can trust him, but..."

"You just leave that to me."

"Good luck, Phillip."

"Thanks, but we're gonna need more than luck. This is gonna take a miracle."


Three transporter beams cut through the stale air. Within seconds, the three energy streams solidified into three living, breathing figures. Lieutenant Commander Carol Smith, Doctor Edward Tedmoore, and Captain Philip Reming stood, side by side, inside the hallowed halls of the Daystrom Institute annex.

The room where they stood was truly impressive. Massive marble columns held up the high arched milky white ceiling. The columns themselves, eight on each side of the great room, were reminiscent of those used by the ancient Romans. The floor was covered in slate gray marble. Emblazoned across it was the unmistakable emblem of the United Federation of Planets. Along the far wall were the words "Daystrom Institute of Technology" spelled out in one meter high gold letters. Standing in the middle of the chamber, Reming was breathless from its beauty. He had to remind himself that it was merely the entranceway.

"We need to check in over there," said Tedmoore, pointing to a receptionist seated behind a desk in the far corner of the room. "Let me do all the talking, okay? Don't say anything."

"What do you mean, don't say anything?" questioned Reming.

"Don't speak at all. No talking. You are mute. Got it?" Reming turned an invisible key in front of his mouth and then tossed the imaginary object over his shoulder. "Good. Now come on," added the Doctor.

With Tedmoore in the lead, all three made their way to the small desk. Just before reaching the desk, Tedmoore turned to Reming and Smith. "Wait here," he mouthed. Like trained seals the two did so.

Tedmoore strolled up to the desk and smiled innocently. A young woman in a Starfleet uniform greeted his approach with a smile of her own. Tedmoore leaned over the chest-high desk to look her over more closely. After reading her face, Tedmore felt confident. This would be easier than he imagined.

"Hello, sir. What can I do for you today?" she asked in a soft child-like voice.

"Uh, yes, my collogues and I have an appointment to see, uh..." Tedmoore let his eyes wonder onto a small list of names lying on the cheerful woman's workspace. "...uh, to see Dr. Royse."

With that, the woman's receptionist skills went into action. She immediately began striking contacts on her keypad. "Fine, sir. Let me just...wait, oh, I'm sorry sir. Doctor Royse does not have any appointments today."

Tedmoore smiled even more. His plan was going so well, he began to wonder if it was his birthday. When his eye locked the receptionist's, he quickly caught himself. He dropped his smile fast. "Oh no, there has to be a mistake. My friends and I have come a very long way. What do we do now?" He drew a large frown and whined the last bit. He hoped he wasn't overdoing it. The sympathetic look upon the cute woman's face told him he wasn't.

"Oh, you poor thing," she said, looking quite pathetic herself.

Tedmoore scanned her desk again. Her nameplate was just in front of him. "Yes, Debra. Yes, very sad."

A glimmer of hope sprang to Debra's perky face. "I know, I'll just call Doctor Royse and let him know you're here. I'm sure he'll see you. He's so nice."

She was about to strike the keys again to signal Royse when Tedmoore reached over and grabbed her by the wrist. "NO!" he yelled. "Uh, I mean, no," he said, a bit softer. He released his hold on her and continued. "I'm surprised he didn't get my message. Maybe he forgot to tell you. You know what? We might have gotten the days mixed up. I first made it Thursday. He wrote back, changing it to Wednesday. I said Wednesday was no good, and changed it to Saturday. That's probably what happened."

"Today is Monday," said Debbie.

"See what I mean? Look, sweetie, Doctor Royse and I are old school chums. He'd really get a kick out of it if you let my buddies and I just walked in and surprised him. How's that sound?"


"Uh, Debbie... may I call you Debbie?"

A sparkle crossed the young woman's face. "Please do."

Tedmore turned his charm on full blast. "Debbie, we came a long way. It would mean a lot to my friends and I if you did this special favor for us. What do you say, sweet heart?"

"Well, since you came such a long way...where did you say you were from?"

"Prison," muttered Reming from the back.

Debbie twisted her neck to get a look at Reming. "I'm sorry, what was that?" she asked. Tedmoore quickly moved to block her view.

"Uh, Debbie, do you know where Epsilon-Gamma-Four is?" asked Tedmoore.

The young woman strained he brain. "No, I don't."

"I'm not surprised. Needless to say, it's far."

"It sounds like it."

Tedmoore waved Smith and Reming toward the lifts. They got the message. He backed away from Debbie's desk and started toward the lifts too. "Well, It's been nice talking with you, Debbie. Thank you for all your help," he said smiling broadly.

"Oh, no problem. It was my pleasure, sir. Bye, now."

The lift doors opened just in time for all three to step inside together. As the doors slid closed, Reming yelled out, "Bye, honey." He simply couldn't resist.


Reming was in awe again. Even the lift was roomy and comfortable. It was a wood paneled circular chamber, accented with a glossy black interactive screen that displayed information about the complex. At the moment, the screen displayed their current location in the annex.

Carol walked to the far side of the lift and leaned against the dark oak railing. "I have to hand it to you, Doctor. That was...well, it was something."

"That girl was no problem. I had her eating out of my hand," said Tedmoore.

"Where did you tell her we were supposedly from? " asked Reming. "What was it - Epsilon-Gamma-Four? I never head of it."

"There is no such place," answered Smith. "He made it up."

"Oh," said Reming, feeling a bit stupid.

"Don't feel bad," said Smith. "Debbie didn't know either and she's a receptionist." She couldn't help but laugh out loud.

"Enough," snapped Reming. "We have a mission to complete. We're standing here doing absolutely nothing. What's our next move?"

Tedmoore smiled, "Why, we go visit our old friend Royse, of course."


Doctor Tedmoore stopped in front of the last doorway in the hall and studied the large brass plate affixed to the wall. "Doctor Marcus Royse, Professor of Archaeology," he read aloud. "I guess we're here."

Carol Smith slammed her hands down at her sides in frustration. "I don't get it. What are we doing at this guy's office anyway?" she asked, whispering.

"Yes, Doctor, what do you intend to do?" added Reming also whispering.

"Why are you two whispering?" asked Tedmoore. "You're in a glorified office building, not a church."

"It feels like sacred ground," admitted Reming, speaking closer to a normal level.

"Well, it isn't. Now listen to me. I know a little about this guy. If what I heard is true, he'll be easier to dupe than Debbie. Come on, and let me do the talking." Tedmoore pressed the small call button on the wall.

A voice from inside the room called out. "Come in." Not long after, the door slid open.

The room looked like most contemporary Starfleet offices. The walls were a creamy white. The floor was covered in a muted low pile rug. The decor was much like what would be expected from an archeologist. Old dusty pottery sat atop white block pedestals. Fossilized alien bones incased in stone covered one wall.

Seated behind a large gray desk piled high with PADDs was a small blue man. He stood to welcome the three that just entered. "Uh, hello there. Are you apprentices of mine?" he asked nervously.

Tedmoore stepped over to the desk and reached across to shake the Bolian's hand. With a jubilant smile across his face, he said, "Don't you remember me? We graduated the same year."

Royse looked confused. "We did? From which school?"

Tedmoore began to sweat. He lost a little of his smile. "What school? Why, the only one that matters, of course."



"Daystom University?"

Tedmoore pointed at the blue fellow and laughed. "Ah ha, that's the one! I remember those days at D.U. Did we have some good times or what?"

Royse sat back down. "Uh, well..."

"So, how you been? How's the family? God, it's been so long. Fill me in. Don't leave anything out. Tell me everything."

Doctor Royse rubbed his head. He had the look of someone trying desperately to probe his own memory. Tedmoore had him thoroughly confused. Royse clearly had no idea who he was speaking with, and yet he didn't want to embarrass himself by admitting it. "Well, I don't remember...w-when we last spoke," he stammered.

"Just give me the highlights," said Tedmoore, taking a seat near the desk. Reming and Smith, still standing, looked at one another. They felt out of place. Thankfully, Royse didn't seem to even notice their presence. He was too preoccupied with Tedmoore.

"Well, Angela, my wife, is fine. The two kids are good too. Uh..."

Tedmoore's eyes lit up. "You know, maybe I should stop by the house. I'd love to see Angela again. You're still living on the grounds, right?"

Royse looked terrified. He could almost bear having this stranger in his office. A whole evening with him in his home would be intolerable. "Uh well, uh..."

"Oh, you know what? I can't make it this visit. Maybe next time, though."

An invisible weight seemed to lift off Royse's shoulders. "Ah, yes of course."

After the pleasant exchange, an awkward silence fell over the room. Tedmoore let it hang in the air for a moment before finally speaking. "Hey, you know what would be nice?"

"What's that?" Royse asked eagerly.

"Could you give my fiends and I a tour around the place? We'd love to see some of the stuff you're working on." Tedmoore knew that professors liked nothing more than to show off their own work. Surely no ego as great as Royse's could resist Tedmoore's request.

Just as Tedmoore expected, a feeling of unbridled pride came over Royse. "For an old friend like you? Why not? Come on," he beamed.

As Royse made his way to the door, Tedmoore turned to his comrades and smiled arrogantly. Reming didn't smile back. It all seemed too easy. Soon, however, things were going to turn difficult.


Over an hour had passed. Doctor Royse had shown his three guests wondrous finds from all over the quadrant. He showed them fertility idols from Kro'nos. He showed them ancient Romulan footwear and fossilized Ferengi ear swabs. All through it, the three Condor crewmembers tried their best to appear interested. As time passed, boredom seeped in.

"And this I found in a dig in the North American continent on Earth. As you can see, it is small and yellow and depicts a creature that is not found at all in Earth's history. It's a bit of a mystery. The only clue to understanding it can be found on the bottom. Here, carved into it, is the word Po-Kee-Mon. I'm not quite sure, but I think this is evidence of an alien influence in Earth's early history."

Tedmoore had lost his phony smile. He could take no more of Royse's mind numbing descriptions of what he considered nothing more than cultural garbage. As Royse gabbed on, Tedmoore and his crewmates grew ever more impatient. Time was turning against them. He couldn't wait any longer. He had to act. "This is all very interesting, Doctor. Really it is," said Tedmoore as he reached out and took the small yellow object from Royse and placed it back on the display case. "But, I was wondering if you could show us something a little more, how should I say, more current."

Royse raised a turquoise eyebrow. "Oh? What did you have in mind?"

"Well, I heard that a discovery in warp travel was made recently. I heard that several transwarp coils turned up in a derelict Borg ship that drifted into Federation space. I heard you were involved in the recovery of those very same transwarp coils. What a find."

The small blue fellow became flustered. "I played a very small role in...those were immediately turned over to the did you...?"

"I think you're being modest, Doctor. I heard you played a pivotal role. I know my friends and I would be honored if you could take us to see them."

"You want me to take you to the cavern?"

"The what?"

"Oh that's what we call it. It's a chamber over thirty kilometers wide and twenty-five kilometers high. It's used to do real-time analyses of warp field geometry." Royse pointed to the floor. "It's here, about five hundred kilometers below the surface of the planet."

"Excuse me, sir," interrupted Smith. "You mean the chamber is here, in this complex? I didn't think it was possible to do that kind of testing planet side."

"It is possible, just impractical. Of course, if you want to test something and you don't want anyone to notice, well, the impractical suddenly becomes practical. Which reminds me, no one is supposed to know about those transwarp coils. How did you hear about them?"

"Let's just say, a little birdie told us," interjected Reming.

"Well, as long as you have the clearance, I suppose it's okay," said Royse.

Tedmoore laughed. "I assure you, Marcus. I have clearance. Please take us to the cavern."


Reming and Smith hung close together inside the turbo lift. It was safe for them to talk. Royse was once again talking Tedmoore's ear off and ignoring them.

"We have a problem," whispered Smith.

"I know," said Reming, "we're going to be too far down."

"Right. The Condor transporters won't be able to beam up the transwarp coils or us for that matter."

"We'll have to worry about that later. Quiet down, I think we're slowing."

Reming's senses were correct. The turbo lift slowed, then stopped altogether. The doors slid open. What laid beyond the lift was something very few had ever seen. It was the immense testing chamber known only as the cavern.

The four stepped off the lift and into a small room. The room itself wasn't very interesting. It looked like every other control room in Starfleet. It was narrow, clean and covered with a dizzying number of dials and switches. The real show was beyond the massive window along the far side of the room.

With Royse in the lead, the four walked passed the empty workstations, moving ever closer to the mammoth transparent aluminum wall. They were only steps away and already Reming was astonished. They all were. Royse too. It was a sight no one ever got used to. It was the cavern.

It looked almost like two gleaming white domes put together to make an immense hollow spheroid. The space inside was truly massive. It seemed to take minutes for the human eye to focus on the far side of the gaping chamber. Looking down was a challenge, and yet an uncontrollable urge. The eye skirted along the near edge and down toward the bottom, far below the control room. Seeing the bottom forced the mind to seek out the top. Looking up revealed the floor's twin. There was no distinguishing difference between the bottom of the chamber and the top, except that one was at the top and the other was at the bottom.

Upon closer study, it looked as though the control room where they were standing was somewhere along the equator of the sphere. Looking out, there appeared to be other similar control rooms dotting the surface of the chamber. At these control rooms, varying teams of scientist monitored the tests. Beyond the view of the human eye, behind the thick inner surface of the chamber were a wild array of sensors and monitors that fed precise calculated readings to the scientists.

Right now, the atmosphere inside the chamber was made to match the thin layers found in Earth's upper atmosphere. That was the last test run - determine the effect of a thin atmosphere on transwarp capabilities. But that was just the conditions from inside the chamber now. The environment inside the chamber could be set to match virtually any conditions imaginable.

Taking in the whole sight dazzled the mind. The cavern was truly a feat of engineering and technology. Best of all, it was a secret. Virtually no one knew it even exited.

For a moment, the sight was too much for Reming. An odd feeling of vertigo hit him. He had to look away. The awesome empty space was too much for his brain to handle all at once.

Royse laughed. "Everyone has that same reaction the first time, son. You'll get used to it - at least that's what they tell me."

"This is truly fascinating, Doctor. It really is." Tedmore was pouring on the charm once again. "I can't thank you enough for showing it to us."

"Ah, no problem. I must ask you all to keep it a secret, though. No one knows this place even exists."

"No problem at all. I'm wondering, where is everybody?"

"Oh, you mean the staff? Testing on the coils is almost complete. They're off studying the test results in special labs. Soon enough workers will take the coils out of the cavern and place something new out there to test."

Smith held her flat palm above her eyes and squinted passed the transparent wall. "Where are the coils anyway?"

"Oh they're there," assured Royse. "Can you see those two long structures hanging in the center of the chamber? Those are sort of mock nacelles. Inside them are the transwarp coils."

"Power is fed to them how?" asked Reming.

Royse walked over to a particular workstation. "From here, I think. Power, in the form the coils can consume, is transmitted to the nacelles. Only a small amount, of course. Just enough to take measurements."

"Oh shit! I got an idea," said Smith. She didn't intend to utter the expletive out loud. She looked at Royse and quickly covered her mouth, inadvertently embarrassing herself even more.

Reming quickly led her away from the group. As he did, Tedmoore distracted Royse with more questions which the blue fellow was more than happy to answer.

"What's your idea?" asked Reming, barely audible.

"Why don't we fly the coils out of here?"

Reming's head nearly left his neck. "What?"

"I know it sounds crazy, but it should work. You see, from what I've heard about transwarp conduits is that they don't occupy the same realm of subspace - they're not subject to the same laws. Therefore it may be possible for a transwarp conduit to pass though solid matter."

"You have got to be kidding me."

"Look, I don't know for sure. It's only a guess. But, if I'm right, we should be able to send those two fake nacelles out there into orbit. We won't need transporters. We feed them enough energy and a basic flight path and zoom. As soon as the power drops off, they'll come out of transwarp."

They were up to their necks in trouble, and Reming knew it. From his point of view, they didn't have a choice but do what Carol was suggesting. He backed a little farther away from the group and tapped his communicator. "Reming to Condor. Donna, please tell me you're still up there."

The calm voice of Commander Reed replied. "Still here, Captain. We're starting to attract attention, though. I think we may be wearing out our welcome."

"Hold tight. You're not going to believe this, but we've found the coils."

"I don't believe it."

"It gets better. They're incased in some kind of test platform made up like nacelles. We're going to, and I can't believe I'm saying it, warp them up to you."


"You heard me right. We're going to try to get them as close to you as possible. When you see them, beam the coils into the cargo bay."

"Fine," said Reed, sounding a bit incredulous. "What about you?"

"We're going to have to find a more conventional way out of here. We're too far down for you to beam us out. Are you ready?"

"I suppose," muttered Reed. "Condor out." Reming looked up, catching Tedmoore's eye. He read the Captain's expression and nodded sharply. It was time to dispose of Royse.

"Ah, doctor Royse," began Tedmoore, "I was wondering if you could run along and get us something to eat."

"Oh, are you hungry? There's a replicator right over there." The blue man pointed to a small alcove in the corner of the room. "See it?"

"Ah yes," smiled Tedmoore. That plan didn't work. For the first time today Tedmoore's idea bag was empty. Lucky for him, Smith's wasn't. With a shriek, she promptly fell to the ground in a heap. Doctor Tedmoore was so happy he nearly applauded. Stifling his joy, he ran to her aid to continue the act.

A worried look crossed Royse's face. "What's wrong with her?"

"I think the sight of the cavern caused a middle ear trauma," said Tedmoore. "Her pulse is tacky. I think she's going into shock. Quick Doctor Royse, get help!" Without missing a beat, Doctor Royse flew to the turbo lift and disappeared, rushing off to parts unknown.

Smith sat bolt upright the instant the turbo lift doors slid closed. "Let's rock."

"Fainting like that, it was perfect," smiled Tedmoore. "I could kiss you, Ms. Smith."

By this time, Smith was already to her feet. She quickly darted to the power console and switched it on. "I'd sooner kiss a Klingon."

"I can arrange that," said Tedmoore.

Reming ran to another part of the room. "How do you enter coordinates into this thing?"

"I don't think there's any conventional way," said Smith. "The only thing we can do is adjust the warp field so that they go in the direction we want. That's straight up. You come over here. I'll come there and set the warp field parameters. Hit the juice when I say so."

As Reming and Smith crossed paths, Tedmoore called out. "What should I do?"

"We don't want any company while we're working," yelled Reming. He shot a finger at the turbo lift doors. "See if you can disable that lift. Lock the doors or something."

"Okay," called Tedmoore. He strolled over to the turbo lift door and artfully tapped the lock button. His job was done.

Carol Smith began computing the field geometry. She hoped she knew what she was doing. She wasn't used to the controls in front of her. Obviously, the warp geometry used here was a little different than the vanilla flavor she was used to. "I think I got it," she yelled.

"Hit it?" asked Reming.

Smith slammed her fist down in frustration. "No, wait. I screwed up. This isn't going to work. According to this, the transwarp conduit won't penetrate solid matter as I first thought." She looked up at Reming with sheer terror in her eyes. "This isn't going to work. None of it will work."

Reming recognized the look on Smith's face. It was one he was guilty of wearing many times in his life. But he knew something Carol didn't. He knew the kind of person she was. She wouldn't be satisfied with failure, not after coming this far. "C'mon, Carol. Don't panic. Think it through."

Carol Smith, eyes glassy with tears, turned back to the sea of knobs and dials in front of her. At first, it seemed all too much for her to comprehend. The myriad of controls seemed to be mocking her, sending her closer to mental collapse.

But Reming's words of reassurance resonated in her mind. She quieted her thoughts, hoping to regain her focus once again. Slowly, the dials and switches stopped dancing around. They settled back in their proper place along the long indigo console. As they did, things started to make sense to Smith once again. A moment later, an idea popped into her calm mind. She glanced at the station beside hers and studied the labels. She ran her fingers along the controls and smiled. "I've got it."

Reming sighed with relief. "Oh thank God. What have you got?"

"This cavern, as Royse called it, must be a masterpiece of engineering. These controls over here can be used to adjust the phase variance of the object inside the test chamber. The console is off. Obviously, they never intended to play with the phase of the transwarp coils."

Tedmoore leaned over a nearby console. "But what will adjusting the phase variance do for us?"

"Well, pushing the transwarp test bed slightly out of phase should allow it to pass though solid matter. We can still send them into orbit." She looked up at Reming. "It's dangerous, though."

Reming laughed. "I knew I should have stayed in bed today. I trust you, Carol. Let's do it."

With lightening in her fingers, Smith went to work. She powered up the console and began entering the proper commands. To her surprise, the system accepted her calculations without hesitation.

Smith looked though the great window and hit the final switch. By her command, a beam flared from above, striking the nacelle assembly. In response, the nacelles flickered for an instant.

"That it?" asked Tedmoore.

"I think so, yes," answered Smith.

"What do you say, Carol? Hit the juice?" asked Reming.

Smith crossed her fingers. "Do it."

Reming hit the switch, initiating a narrow beam of energy in a small recess of the cavern to shoot out and hit the two narrow columns hanging in mid air. As the energy built up, the mock nacelles began to glow. "It's working!" yelled Reming.

"No, it isn't," contradicted Smith. "We need more power. The change in variance is eating up power. Push that red button. It'll draw more power from the reserves. We'll be attracting attention, but I don't think we're gonna avoid that."

"Okay, here goes nothing," said Reming. He hit the red button. In response, the energy beam grew brighter. So did the nacelles. The energy buildup was much faster now. The air around the nacelles grew hot. The suspension bars connecting the two pillars began to bend bit. An odd squealing sound penetrated the transparent wall. Reming looked at the massive window, wondering if it was going to break apart.

Then it happened. The space around the nacelles started to twist. A cone of light formed ahead of them. It stretched and widened until it completely consumed the two brightly glowing nacelles. The glowing swirl of light slowly compressed to the center of the chamber. The nauseating screeching noise grew louder as each tense second passed. Then suddenly, the pulsating light blinked away, taking the nacelles with it.

The small area of space once occupied by the nacelles vanished along with them. A loud boom rumbled through the chamber as air rushed in to fill the void created by the nacelle's sudden disappearing act. The sudden implosion wasn't satisfied with devouring just the air. It wanted more. It desired solid matter as well. With a great crash, the transparent aluminum enclosing the control room blew out. The three control room occupants immediately fell behind the nearest console. Each of them hoped the workstation they hid behind was more secure than the massive pane. The consoles trembled, but didn't blow out.

The ear-piercing sound of shattering windows resonated throughout the cavern. The transparent walls that enclosed many other control rooms were blowing out. Other items not nailed down, like PADDs and portable instruments, flew out of the other control rooms as well. The sound of debris striking the distant bottom of the chamber echoed around the chamber.

When the noise finally died down, the three slowly stood up. The transparent aluminum wall was indeed gone. Nothing separated them from the gaping expanse. The safety net that once separated them from the immense chasm was gone. A feeling of terror gripped Reming. Would he be sucked out too?

With his hands glued to the console, he looked out. An eerie fog filled the middle of the chamber. Reming surmised it to be a cloud of dust particles caught in the twisting air. He looked down. A small pile of useless bits of metal and plastic collected at the bottom of the chamber, far below.


Loud blaring alarms suddenly went off all around, cutting the eerie calm. The sound shocked Reming. His heart almost burst from his chest from fright. In a bind panic, he looked around. Smith and Tedmoore were staring back at him. Tedmoore was saying something to him, but Reming couldn't make it out. The blare of alarms was drowning the doctor's shouts.

Reming staggered a little closer. "WHAT?" he yelled. He could barely hear his own voice.

Tedmoore tried again. This time Reming could hear him, but barely. "THE AIR IS TOO THIN. WE HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE NOW BEFORE WE PASS OUT."

That was when Reming noticed the aching in his chest. It was becoming difficult to breathe. He quickly looked over at Smith. She was white as a ghost and looking quite frail. He ran over to her and flung her arm over his shoulder. Together they staggered to the turbo lift. Tedmoore hit the unlock button. As soon as the doors slid open, all three dove in.

The emergency environmental controls of the turbo lift activated, filling the cubical with large quantities of breathable air. Slowly, the three occupants began to recover.

As each struggled to satisfy their lungs' need for air, a new voice filled their ears. The thick doors of the lift muffled the blaring alarms, allowing another voice to be heard. It was the voice of Commander Reed shouting over Reming's communication badge. "HELLO! CAN YOU HEAR ME? PHILLIP? HELLO? WHAT'S HAPPENING?"

Reming hit his badge. "I hear you, Donna."

"Oh thank God," she said. "Listen, we have the transwarp coils. I don't know how you did it, but we got them. They're in cargo bay two."

Reming beamed with joy. They had pulled it off the impossible. He reached over and gave Smith a pat on the shoulder. Still gasping for air, she looked up and gave him a weak smile.

Reming shook Tedmoore's hand sharply. Tedmoore was smiling too, but not as broadly as Reming. "I appreciate the gratitude," said Tedmoore, "but we're not home free yet."

"He's right," echoed Reed, "We're detecting alerts all over the planet. People are yelling terrorism. Federation ships are being called in. You've incited chaos down there."

"How the hell are we going to get out of here?" cried Smith.

"Captain, can you tell me where you are?" called Reed.

Reming looked around. He remembered the black screen to the rear of the turbo lift. He examined it closely, looking for a definitive answer to the Commander's question. "Uh, we're in turbo shaft J-L One-Seventeen."


Back on the Condor, Commander Donna Reed leaned over Lieutenant Commander Michael Parks' operations station. "Mike, I need a map of the complex. I need it now."

"Uh, okay," said Parks, nervously. He never performed well in tense situations. This was one of those situations. "I can bring up the one from the ship's data banks. Would that be alright?"

"NO!" roared Reed. "That won't do. Tap into the planet's security network if you have to. We need to find shaft J-L One-Seventeen. I'm willing to bet it's not on the maps we have."


establish data link with Daystom Institute security network...
identify Donna Reed -- Commander -- security access code: Gamma-Gamma-Omega-two-one
identify Phillip Reming -- Captain -- security access code: Alpha-zero-one
Identify Edward Tedmoore -- Chief Medical Officer -- security access code: Yabba-Dabba-Doo
link established.


With twitching fingers, Parks attempted to link in with the Planet's security grid. He expected to hit a wall, stopped by numerous security lockouts. To his surprise, the lockouts fell away without his assistance. He couldn't understand how it happened, but it did. He didn't spend much time dwelling on his good fortune. He had a demanding Commander breathing down his neck. "I got it. I got the map."

"Good work," said Reed. "Now locate shaft J-L One-Seventeen."

"I got it. Scanning for it on the planet. Found them. I can't beam them out, though. They're too far down."

"Captain, you've got to get that lift moving. As soon as you're in range, we'll beam out."


"Computer, take us to the first floor," yelled Reming.

"I am sorry," said the computer. "This turbo lift does not go to the first floor. You will need to switch lifts at junction..."

"Just take us as close to the surface as you can," yelled Tedmoore.

The computer responded, propelling the three occupants upward. As the lift flew up, Carol Smith sank slowly to the floor. She was still suffering from oxygen deprivation. Small trails of blood from narrow cuts flowed down the side of her cold chalky face.

"She'll be fine once I get her to Sickbay," said Tedmoore.

Reming nodded. "How much farther, Commander?" called Reming.

Reed's voice soon answered. "Almost there. Another few seconds or so."

Then Smith noticed something. She let her palm rest on the lift floor. Through wet eyes, she looked up at Reming and Tedmoore. "We're slowing down."

"Computer," called Reming. "Why are we slowing? Are we nearing our destination?"

"Negative," said the Computer voice. "Security personnel are intercepting this lift."

"Damn it! They've got us!" yelled Tedmoore.

Just as Tedmoore uttered the prediction, it came true. The lift stopped and the doors slid open revealing a small army of security personnel. Their weapons were drawn and trained on the three hapless lift occupants.

Reming wore a tense smile. "Look fellas," he said, addressing the armed troops. "I can explain everything..."

As it turned out, Reming didn't need to. Three transporter beams surrounded the lift riders, turning matter to energy then energy into nothing.


Once safely back inside the Condor transporter room, Tedmoore went to work on Smith. He grabbed a small medical kit from the wall and immediately injected his patient with the potion to enrich her blood with oxygen.

Reming stepped from the transported pad and activated his communicator. "Donna, we're back. Great work. It's not going to take them long to trace the transporter signal. Get us out of here, now. You know the heading."

"Aye, Captain," echoed Reed. "We're already gone."

Continued in: Borg Like Me, part deux

Read more from Paradigm Shift and Christopher Filippone, Michael Sweeney.
Michael Sweeney
Paradigm Shift
Borg Like Me, part deux, part two
On Site

Episode Thirteen - Deep in the Delta Quadrant the Condor crew find an exploded Borg cube. With help from The Resistance they take action to find their missing crew in Borg space! You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder why it took 10 years to write 44 pages. Second half of Story One of Three in the Delta Story Arc

Evil Must Be Opposed.
-- Vedek Yassim,

(DS9: Rocks and Shoals)
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