Star Traks: Boldly Gone... was created by Alan Decker and Anthony Butler. It's based on Star Traks, which in turn is based on Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry. Star Trek is owned by CBS, Paramount and Viacom. If you're offended by mildly disturbing language, situations, and the utter disregard of some of Star Trek's greatest premises, not to mention a huge jump 120 years into Star Trek's future, better hit the 'Back' button on your browser right now. If not, welcome aboard!

Author: Alan Decker, Anthony Butler
Copyright: 2007


“Living Off The Land”

By Alan Decker & Anthony Butler

“Captain’s Log. Stardate 178136.2. Well, we’ve crashed. Thoroughly and completely. I suppose I should be more glum about this state of affairs, but to be quite frank, I’m more relieved that those Red Borg blighters didn’t swing around and finish us off. From their perspective, we must have looked done for, and now they’re off searching for some other poor sod to blast out of space.”

“Would you slow down? I can’t write that fast!” Commander Vioxx complained as he scribbled furiously in the log book on Bain’s desk in his Captain’s Lounge. Why Bain had an actual book with honest-to-Praetor paper in it, much less an ink pen, was completely beyond Vioxx, as was how he’d let Bain talk him into being his personal secretary.

“Sorry, old boy,” Bain said, moving about the room in the dim glow provided by the ship’s emergency lighting, picking up various awards and souvenirs of his travels as he went. “Where did I lose you?”

“Off searching for…”

“Ah. For some other poor sod to blast out of space.”

“What’s a poor sod?”

“Wretched soul?”

“I’ll stick to poor sod. Fewer letters.”

Vioxx went back to his scribbling as Lieutenant Shelly Marsden poked her head into the room’s open doors. “Captain Bain?”

“Yes, Marsie!” Bain said. “Come on in.”

“Actually, I just wanted to let you know that we’re ready for you on the bridge.”

“Ah yes. The briefing. Very well. I think Vioxx was just about done writing the log entry.”

“Writing?” Marsden said confused.

“Yes. The log recorder is down.”

“You could have just recorded it into a padd.”

Bain thought for a moment as Vioxx looked up from his work, eyes boring into the captain’s back. “I suppose I could have at that,” Bain said. “No matter.”

“No matter!” Vioxx protested. “No matter! My hand is cramping!”

“After that little bit of dictation?” Bain said. “Tisk tisk, my good man. You really need to exercise those hand muscles more.”

Vioxx briefly thought about exercising his hands against Bain’s face, then thought better of it. Bain would wipe the floor with him before Vioxx so much as landed a blow.

“Enough dawdling. We must be briefed!” Bain announced, charging off to the bridge after Lieutenant Marsden. Vioxx slammed the book shut and trudged out of the Captain’s Lounge, feeling fairly positive that the briefing-to-come would not do anything to improve his mood. And judging by the grim expressions on the faces of the Anomaly’s command crew as he stepped onto the bridge, he was right.

“Looks like we’re all present and accounted for now,” Bain said, striding around the room. “First order of business: how is the crew, Doctor?”

Dr. Fred Nooney, the Anomaly’s chief medical officer, who was currently perched in Vioxx’s traditional seat next to the command chair, tossed his head back in his chair and sighed dramatically. “Bloodied, bruised, and battered. Just about everyone suffered some kind of injury. After that kind of caseload, I’m completely out of lollipops!”

“Based on the Doctor’s reports, all injuries were relatively minor,” Commander Prosak reported. “The crew had sufficient time to brace themselves before the crash.”

“Good good. And how did Cabral come through all this?” Bain asked, turning to Dr. Natalia Kasyov.

“Better than the rest of us,” Kasyov replied. “He phased his sphere just before we hit, so he came through completely unscathed. I can’t say the same for the rest of Science Lab Four, but he’s fine.”

Bain nodded appreciatively. “Quick thinking on his part. I’ve always said that brain’s got a good head on his…er…never mind. What about my ship?”

“Main power is down,” Marsden replied, trying not to bristle at Bain’s “my ship” remark. “But considering the force of that crash, we’re lucky that’s all that happened. The warp core and the quantum singularity are secure. Fortunately, both of them had been sealed as part of the system restart following the computer purge. We never had a chance to restart the matter-antimatter reactions in the warp core, which quite possibly prevented a breach when we hit the surface. Since we’re running off of auxiliary power and we have no idea how long we’re going to be here, I’ve shut down all non-essential systems.”

“What about getting us up again?”

“The Anomaly’s hull was designed to handle the stresses of anti-sing speeds, so the spaceframe actually held up pretty well. If we could get off of the surface, we’d be fine. The problem is that the Anomaly was never designed to land, not that you could really call that a landing. The ventral thrusters are buried in the ground, and even if they weren’t, they don’t have the power to raise the ship. The polaron drive is offline for now, but it can be repaired. Once it are, we could use it to propel the Anomaly into space, again assuming we can get off of the ground in the first place.”

Bain opened his mouth to speak.

“Before you ask,” Marsden interrupted. “The raceabouts don’t have the power to lift the ship with their tractor beams. And only one of them is in anything resembling flying condition at the moment anyway. I’m planning to salvage the other for parts for the polaron drive.”

“We could take the one functioning raceabout and head back to the Green Borg,” Vioxx said. “We just saved them from that virus. The least they could do is get us off of this planet.”

“They’d never venture this far out of their territory,” Bain said. “There’s no profit in it. Besides, I don’t like the odds of a raceabout against the Red Borg. I’d do it in a second if I thought otherwise, but Reginald Bain is not…”

“Not one for suicide,” Vioxx finished. “Yes, we know. But that means we’re stuck here.”

“For now,” Bain said. “And I wouldn’t even categorize our situation as stuck. We’re just momentarily detained. But I don’t suppose there’s a warp-capable civilization on this planet that could lend us a hand, is there?”

“There is someone out there,” Dr. Kasyov said. “The sensors that weren’t damaged in the crash are showing a small concentration of lifeforms about five kilometers from here. Technological level is unknown, but, considering we haven’t seen so much as an aircraft go by, I wouldn’t get my hopes up.”

“We should check them out anyway. How’s the terrain?”

“Fairly level,” Kasyov said. “Zantak put us down in a wide plain.”

“Good show, Zantak,” Bain said, drawing a nod from the silent Romulan conn officer.

“There’s a good bit of forest between us and the settlement, but we’re not dealing with the Urals or anything,” Kasyov continued.

“Right then. Marsden, I want you to stay here, continue with the repairs, and see if you can come up with anything regarding our liftoff problem. Tovar, I want you here as well. The Red Borg seem to have lost interest in us, but, just in case they come back, you may be our only chance of fighting them off.”

“With only the dorsal phaser arrays at my disposal…assuming they are functional,” Tovar said frowning.

“It’s a bit of a job, but nothing you can’t handle. Dr. Kasyov, Vioxx, and I will head to the village…”

“Me?” Vioxx exclaimed. “If you’re going, I need to be here!”

“Commander Prosak can more than take care of things in our absence, and I may need your perspective on what we encounter. We are looking at a first contact situation here, after all.”

“What makes you think I’m an expert on first contacts?” Vioxx demanded.

“You did fairly well with those big potato-looking buggers on the planet where we found you.”

“They tried to eat us!”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself,” Bain said, clapping Vioxx on the shoulder. “You’ll be fine.”

“Captain, I must insist that you take some security with you,” Tovar said.

“Very well. I’ll take Brazzell along. The man needs to get out more anyway.”

“Trees. Bugs. Dirt. He’ll be thrilled,” Marsden muttered.

“You all have your assignments,” Bain said.

“We are flying to this village, aren’t we?” Vioxx asked.

“Certainly not!” Bain replied. “We have no idea if they have any technology at all. We can’t just zoom over in a raceabout, now can we? We’ll beam a team in just outside the settlement and…”

“Transporters are down,” Marsden said.

“Ah. Well, a nice hike will do us some good,” Bain said.

“A hike?” Vioxx cried. “It’s five kilometers!”

“Just what we need to get the blood pumping. Dismissed!”

There was something a tad bit surreal about stepping through the Anomaly’s main docking hatch and ending up outside. Well, it would be very easy to end up outside when walking through the hatch while the ship was in flight, but that outside would be the void of space and the walk would end up being rather short-lived, particularly if the walkee in question wasn’t wearing an EVA suit at the time. Getting back to the point, Engineer Selex felt a little strange exiting the Anomaly into the grassy plain where the vessel had come to rest. “Come to rest” made the whole thing sound rather gentle. Perhaps, “unceremoniously plopped down” would be more accurate. Oh wait. We seem to have lost that point again. Where were we? Oh yes, Selex left the ship, walked into some grass, and felt a little odd about it. Really he just needed to get over it. So it was some grass. Big deal. Who cares…oh. There was a story here somewhere.

Moving on.

Selex found Sub-Commander Remax standing several meters away from the fallen ship, scanning the nearby tree-line with a quadcorder. “I am surprised to find you outdoors, Sub-Commander” the engineer said.

“Why would you care?” Remax replied, without looking at Selex.

“I just assumed that your many talents would be needed inside the Anomaly, returning her sensors to fully-functional status.”

“I’d think that an engineer would be inside doing the same thing.”

“I am on a break…as are many others, I see,” Selex said, glancing around at the groups of Anomaly crewmen that were outside enjoying the warm sunlight shining down on the ship.

“So you decided to spend your break pestering me. I’m touched.”

“I am simply curious why you are out here with a quadcorder when you have the Anomaly’s scanners at your disposal.”

“Power is being rationed, and Tovar’s tactical sweeps rightly have priority. Therefore, I’m using a quadcorder.”

“And are you scanning for anything in particular?”

“Monsters. I already have one synthetic arm. I’d rather not make it two.”


“And there’s nothing within scanning range bigger than your head. We’re safe.”

“Ah. That is good news. And I have actually come to speak to you about a matter of some importance. As you are most certainly aware, Captain Bain is away from the ship at present. It would seem to be a perfect opportunity to remove Commander Prosak from the command structure.”

Remax finally put his quadcorder away and glared at the younger Romulan. “Have you completely taken leave of your senses, Selex?”

“I don’t believe so. Is there a problem with my suggestion?”

“Vioxx is with Bain.”

“I am aware of that; however, up to now, the Commander has seemed…unwilling to act against Prosak. I thought perhaps that you would not be so reticent to seize this opportunity and claim the rewards that are surely to follow for yourself.”

“If you think it’s such a great thing, why don’t you do it?” Remax asked.

“You are my superior officer,” Selex said with a slight bow of his head. “I would not presume to supplant you.”

“Thanks, but I’ll pass. This is not the time.”

“But Captain Bain…”

“Look around!” Remax snapped. “We’re stranded. Do you know for sure that we’re ever going to be able to leave this place? If Vioxx, or you, or I were to take out Prosak now, we could end up in the brig forever. There’s more to opportunity than the presence or absence of Reginald Bain. The whole point was to find a way for us to get off of this ship and back to Romulus permanently. Until we can do that, the RommaVulc gets to live. Besides, I really want Vioxx to have to do it.”

“Why is that?”

Remax smiled slightly. “Because I don’t think he can.”

“Are we there yet?” Commander Vioxx muttered as he picked his way through the forest underbrush behind Bain and Dr. Kasyov, who was scanning ahead with her quadcorder as they went.

“Oh I hope so,” Lieutenant Brezan Brezzell moaned behind him. “I’ve been through three cans of bug spray already! And I only brought nine!”

“It’s a forest, Brazzell,” Bain called back. “Bugs live in forests.”

“Which is exactly why we do not belong here.”

“Not a lot of camping on your world, I gather.”

“Gaaaack! No! Why would we want to do something like that?” Brazzell cried.

Bain and Kasyov exchanged an amused glance. “Takes all kinds, eh, Kassie?” Bain said.

“That it does, sir.”

“And thank you for that lovely bit of human condescension,” Vioxx groused.

“Sorry there, old boy,” Bain said. “Didn’t mean to offend.”

“Or step on any toes,” Kasyov said. “We wouldn’t want to push our way into the Romulans’ areas of expertise.”

Vioxx stiffened. “That remark was…”

“Shhh!” Kasyov snapped suddenly.

“Don’t you presume to tell me to ‘shhh’ when I…”

“SHHHH!” Kasyov repeated, pointing at her quadcorder as she peered at the readout scrolling across the device’s eyepiece. “We’re nearing the edge of the forest. I’m detecting one humanoid lifesign in the field beyond.”

“Let’s have a look,” Bain whispered, creeping ahead. The group soon reached the end of the forest and crouched down to observe the lone lifesign Kasyov had detected. The individual in question wore brown denim coveralls and a wide-brimmed straw hat, which shielded his head from the sun. The only portion of his face visible was a long white beard stretching below his chin. He was absorbed in tending to the crops growing in the field beyond the treeline, rows of which stretched off for several hundred yards. In the distance, Bain could just make out a grouping of wooden structures.

“Blast,” Bain said under his breath. “There’s no help to be had here. These folks haven’t hit the industrial age, much less the space age.”

“Umm…,” Kasyov said, frowning at her quadcorder data.

“So we came all this way for nothing!” Vioxx whispered harshly.

“Nothing?” Brazzell whispered. “Do you have any idea how long it’s going to take me to sterilize these boots after this?”

“Err…,” Kasyov said.

“Gentlemen, we had to check things out,” Bain said. “Not every hand you are dealt is a winner. We just need to make absolutely certain that these simple people do not stumble across the Anomaly before we are able to find a way to leave this place.”

“Uhh…,” Kasyov said.

“We’ve crashed and you’re worried about that idiotic Prime Directive of yours!” Vioxx said.

“Idiotic? That precept is one of the foundations of the Federation. I may have my quibbles with it on occasion, but by and large, it’s a good way to do business in this universe. And I won’t have my ship and crew altering the way of life of these people. Look at him. Farming with the most basic of implements. He’s over half a millennium away from us. He’s…”

“A Borg,” Kasyov said.

“Whahuh?” Vioxx said, his head whipping toward the Anomaly’s science officer.

Bain peered out of the trees at the man, then looked to Kasyov, then back at the man, then back to Kasyov. “No offense, Doctor, but don’t be daft. There is no possible way…”

“I didn’t think so either, but the quadcorder insists he’s Borg. We’ve got nanoprobes, the underlying drone comm traffic…”

“This is insane,” Vioxx said. “Your scanning device is broken.”

“It’s not.”

“It has to be.”

“Right,” Bain said, slapping his thighs before rising to his full height. “There’s only one way to settle this.” And with that he marched out of the trees into the field. Vioxx, Brazzell, and Kasyov looked at each other, then rushed after him.

Hearing a bit of commotion behind him, the lone man straightened up from his labors and turned to investigate the source of the noise. He found himself face to face with Reginald Bain.

“Hello there, my good man,” Bain said. “Sorry to intrude, but we’re new to the area and thought we’d drop by and introduce ourselves. Reginald Bain. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Bain stuck out his hand for the man to shake.

The man looked down at Bain’s offered appendage and held up one of his own. A garden rake in this case, extending straight out of what should have been his wrist.

“Good lord!” Bain cried, leaping back straight into Vioxx, who was flattened across a row of crops in the process. The Captain looked closely at the face underneath the man’s straw hat. Pale sickly complexion. One eye staring ahead vacantly. The other…gone. Its socket covered by a black plate that obviously once held some kind of implant or other.

“Greetings to thee, Reginald Bain,” the man said, taking off his hat to wipe a bit of sweat from his brow, revealing in the process that his long white beard was actually being held onto his face by two bits of yarn wrapped around his auditory implants. “Thou and thy companions art welcome here. I am Ezekiel of Brown.”

“You are Borg!” Vioxx said, picking himself up off of the dirt.

“Told you,” Kasyov said.

“Pardon my bit of alarm a moment ago,” Bain said, recovering himself. “We weren’t expecting…well…Borg.”

“I was,” Kasyov said.

“So you’re farmers then, eh?” Bain said.

“The land gives us all that we need. But come. Thou hast traveled far, and I am not so poor a host as to not invite thee and thine to sample our hospitality. Yea verily, thou whilst come with me to the village.”

“Very kind of you to offer,” Bain replied. “We’d love to join you.” Bain and Ezekiel started off for the village, with Brazzell close behind. The security officer was alternating between warily watching the Borg and trying not to get any dirt on his boots. Needless to say, his boots ended up getting most of the attention.

“Did he just say ‘yea verily’?” Kasyov said to Vioxx as they followed the group.

“What does that even mean?” Vioxx asked.

“I have no idea.”

The village was exactly as rustic as Bain expected. Wooden homes gathered around a central square with barns on the outskirts of the settlement and fields of crops beyond that. Several more Brown Borg were in evidence engaged in various trades, from building simple carts, to transporting the harvested crops, to blacksmithing. Upon seeing Bain and company, each Brown would either tip his straw hat, in the case of the males, or, curtsey, in the case of the women.

“They’re so polite,” Kasyov said impressed.

“That will be so comforting when they assimilate us,” Vioxx muttered.

“They don’t really seem to be that kind of Borg.”

“Sure they aren’t.”

“So where are we heading, Zeke?” Bain asked. “May I call you Zeke?”

“If that is thy wish,” Ezekiel replied. “However, my designation is Ezekiel of Brown.”

“Of course.”

“But to answer thy query, I am taking thee to the village elder. He wishes to meet thee.”

“Jolly good idea,” Bain said as the group approached a large building at the end of the village square. Inside, it quickly became obvious that this was a meeting hall for the village residents. Ezekiel led them through the building, past rows of benches, and outside again to where two more Browns, one male and one female, worked putting various plants into a press of some kind. As the plants were crushed in the press, a clear oil ran out through a spicket into a waiting pail held by the woman.

“I have brought the visitors,” Ezekiel announced. The two other Borg stopped their work without a sound and stood up stiffly.

“Reginald Bain,” Bain said, skipping the attempt at a handshake this time. “These are my colleagues Commander Vioxx, Doctor Natalia Kasyov, and Lieutenant Brezan Brazzell.”

“Welcome to Village One,” the male, who also had a long white beard tied to his head, said. “I am Jebediah of Brown, leader of this Collective. This drone with me is my designated dependent, Sarah of Brown.”

“Designated dependent?” Vioxx asked confused. “You mean like your daughter?”

“We do not share the same genetic make-up, but the analogy is accurate.”

“Lovely to meet you both,” Bain said. With the long dress and the white bonnet over her head, Sarah had almost nothing about her appearance to reveal that she was actually Borg. Her skin was almost healthy, presumably from exposure to sun. There was the plate over one eye. That was something of a tip-off, but otherwise she looked…natural.

“Thou art human,” Jebediah said. “While thy uniform is unknown to this Collective, it is similar to that of Starfleet.”

“It is Starfleet,” Bain said.

“Forgive this drone. Our Collective has been on this world for some time, and we have not kept up with advances in Federation fashion. By your presence, I must conclude that the Federation now includes portions of BorgSpace.”

“Not quite,” Bain said. “We’re here under special circumstances.”

“Circumstances that crashed our ship,” Vioxx said.

Jebediah focused on Vioxx. “Romulan. Art thou now joined with the Federation?”

“Not quite,” Bain said. “Our ship is a cooperative effort. But what about you? What are you doing here?”

“We pursue perfection through harmony with the land,” Jebediah said.

“Right…” Bain said, mulling that statement over.

“When the Great Factioning occurred, our cube was thrown into chaos,” Jebediah continued, thankfully providing Bain with some much-needed exposition. “As the Collective fractured and new sub-collectives developed, we found ourselves divided, unable to form consensus about which of the new groups to join. Violence erupted. Many of our drones were killed in the fighting. Others perished as they neglected their own regeneration, paralyzed instead trying to decide which way to go. Soon, fewer than one hundred of us remained. This drone searched the Collective archives for an answer, studying everything the Borg had learned about the species of the galaxy. I then found the guidance we needed and the solution to our problem.”

“Farming,” Bain said.

“It is more than farming. We were enslaved by our technology.”

“I think that’s the definition of Borg,” Vioxx said.

“Not for us. We decided that it was time to find our own path and return to a more pure way of life. The perfection we sought would not come through the assimilation of technology but from our connection with the land. Our species began on worlds such as this. It is where we belong. Technology took us away from the nurturing embrace of our worlds, so we have put it aside and come back to where we belong.”

“But, as my colleague here pointed out, technology is part of who you are. What about your implants?”

“Those we could remove were removed. Those that cannot we maintain with the resources at our disposal, such as this oil we are gathering. Only our link to the other drones in the Brown Collective remains active through the viniculum we brought down from our cube.”

“Ah,” Bain said. “That cube in orbit was yours then?”

Jebediah nodded.

“You weren’t using it anymore then?” Bain asked.

“It is a remnant of an existence that is no longer ours.”

“Capital capital. I don’t feel so bad about blowing it up then.”

Jebediah blinked several times (well, winked really, since he only had one eye visible). “Thou…destroyed our cube.”

“Couldn’t be helped. Although, we wouldn’t be in this fix if we hadn’t destroyed the thing. We got swarmed by the Red Borg immediately afterwards. Damned nuisance, if you ask me.”

“Can I once again mention that WE CRASHED! It’s a bit more than a nuisance!” Vioxx said.

“Art thou in need of food?” Jebediah asked. “We grow plenty and we eat very little.”

“Now that you mention it, that would be helpful,” Bain said thoughtfully. “Best not to waste resources on the replicators if we don’t have to.”

“What we have is thine.” He froze for a moment, staring ahead more blankly than before. “A cart of food is now being loaded for thee. It will be waiting in the town square.”

“That’s very kind of you, Jeb. Mind if I call you, Jeb?”

“My designation is Jebediah of Brown.”

“Right. In any case, thank you. And I know how you feel about the whole technology thing, but our ship is five kilometers away. Would you be offended if I called for a raceabout to come pick up the supplies?”

“As long as thou dost so outside of the village.”

“Of course,” Bain said. “Well, this has been a definite pleasure, Jebediah. I can’t thank you enough for your generosity and your hospitality.”

“Thou mayest thank this drone by returning tomorrow. We will show you more of Village One, and thou whilst tell us of the galaxy.” Jebediah turned to Sarah. “Wouldst thou like that, designated dependent?”

“This drone would be curious to hear,” Sarah said.

“Then it’s settled. We’ll be back tomorrow,” Bain said. Without another word, Jebediah and Sarah returned to their work, and Ezekiel began walking back into the meeting hall.

“Friendly sort,” Bain said as he and the other Anomaly officers took the hint to follow Ezekiel.

“Sure they are,” Vioxx said.

“I don’t believe they have any intention of assimilating us, if that’s what you’re worried about,” Kasyov said.

“I’m more worried about this so-called food,” Brazzell said. “You can’t tell me they washed it, much less purified, sanitized, or disinfected it.”

“It will be fine, Brazzell,” Bain said. “Same goes for you, Vioxx.”

“We’ll see. Maybe you’re right,” Vioxx said. “Maybe they don’t want to assimilate us. Or maybe they want to do something much much worse.”

“Like what?” Kasyov demanded.

“I don’t know. But when we find out, you are so going to hear a big ‘I told you so’ from me.”

“Then we’ll just have to make sure they take you first,” Kasyov said, flashing Vioxx a smile before she stepped into the meeting hall.

Tovar looked up from the readouts on the tac-ops console as he heard knocking below his feet. Curious, he opened the jefferies tube access hatch in the floor below him and found Lieutenant Marsden smiling up at him.

“House call,” she said, handing Tovar her engineering kit before climbing the rest of the way up onto the bridge. “So where does it hurt?”

“My eyes were about to rebel and leap out of my skull from staring at these tactical displays, but they suddenly feel much better. The change of scenery does wonders, particularly when the scenery is you.”

“Maybe when things calm down, we can see a bit more of each other.”

“That is my plan as well.”

“Oh, so you have plans now? And just what were you planning to do with me?” She slid up closer to him, pressing her lips against his ear and whispered, “Or to me?”

Tovar returned the favor, whispering in her ear, “You’ll just have to wait and see, now won’t you?”

They were interrupted by the sound of Prosak clearing her throat in the Anomaly’s command chair. “Superior hearing,” she said simply.

“Sorry,” Marsden said sheepishly.

“I have it too, and I didn’t mind,” Remax said from the science console, where he was…doing a lot of nothing, since he’d finished the scans he was performing outside and Tovar was still hogging what little power was available for the sensors.

“We shall continue this later, Lieutenant,” Tovar said, turning back to his console.

“Sure thing,” Marsden replied, giving his butt a quick pat before she headed over to an access panel next to the engineering console, opened it, and got to work replacing components that were smashed in the Anomaly’s rough landing. Before long, Commander Prosak was standing beside her.

“How does the situation look?” Prosak asked softly.

“Could be worse,” Marsden replied. “I can actually reroute a lot of these systems until we get back to a starbase.”

“That is more of the situation I was referring to. Will we be able to return to a starbase?”

The Chief Engineer was silent for several moments. “I’m still working on that part,” she said finally. When Prosak didn’t respond, she added, “I’m guessing that isn’t the answer you wanted to hear.”

“It is honest. That is preferable.”



“We’ll figure something out, Prosak. Don’t worry. If we managed to make it back from Andromeda, we can handle this. Who knows? Maybe the Captain will be able to get some help from the locals after all.”

“Or the entire away team will be killed horribly.”

“Okay. Now you’re just being ridiculous,” Marsden said. “They aren’t going to get killed.”

“Bain would lay waste to the entire village if anyone even tried,” Remax said. Remax instantly caught himself. Did he actually just feel…pride saying that? Pride in a human? He certainly respected Bain, and, if he was being entirely truthful, he even kind of liked the man. But pride? Bain must have some Romulan hiding somewhere in his ancestry. That was the only explanation for Remax’s reaction.

“He is comming,” Tovar said.

“Put him on,” Prosak said, striding back to the command area. Yes, the ship was stranded and not flying anywhere anytime soon, but this is still where Prosak felt she should be while in command. Tovar nodded that the connection was open. “This is Prosak. Go ahead, Captain.”

“Prosak! Greetings from the great outdoors!” the Captain’s voice boomed over the bridge speakers.

“Is everything going well?”

“Absolutely splendid!” Bain exclaimed.

“So you have found assistance for us?”

“Yes indeed.”

“The denizens of the settlement can help us leave then?”

“No. I don’t think so. Wonderful folks, though. Never met a nicer Borg.”

“They’re Borg?” Tovar asked concerned.

“Quite so. We blew up their cube.”

“Are they…upset?”

“Not in the slightest. They weren’t using it anymore. This lot has decided to dump technology and get back to nature and such.”

“How does that work with their implants?” Marsden asked.

“Looks like they’ve removed most of them. Hardly matters, though. The important thing is that they’ve been kind enough to provide an entire cartload of foodstuffs. Should hold us for a few days if we make proper use of it.”

“That would help with the power situation,” Marsden said. “The replicator systems are a large drain on auxiliary power.”

“Well shut them down. We’ve got jugs of water, fruits, vegetables, and several lovely slabs of meat. A ride would be a great help, though. I don’t relish the idea of lugging this cart back to the ship.”

“We will send the Frinoqua for you, sir,” Prosak said.

“Good show. We’ll be waiting. And Marsden, see what you can do about cobbling together a galley of some sort. Bain out.”

As the channel closed and Prosak contacted Ensign Yonk with orders to take the Raceabout Frinoqua to retrieve the away team, Marsden approached Tovar’s console.

“Sure, Marsden. Go build a kitchen real fast,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Like I’m not busy enough.”

“Do not worry, dear lady,” Tovar said, smiling a smile not his own. “Leave everything to us.”

Good as his word (or whoever’s word he was giving at the time) Tovar had a complete kitchen set up in the field outside the ship by the time Yonk returned with the away team and the food donated by the Brown Borg. Seeing the ship arrive, Tovar’s demeanor changed quickly, and he moved from tinkering with the various equipment and cables running back to the Anomaly to fussing over the culinary items being unloaded from the Frinoqua. Before long, he was entirely surrounded with assorted meats and vegetables and muttering excitedly to himself as a menu began to take shape.

“Should we be worried about this?” Lieutenant Marsden asked Captain Bain as they settled down at one of the many tables that had been step-up outside to await the evening’s meal with the other members of the command crew.

“I don’t see why,” Bain said. “If Tovar’s past life wants to cook us all dinner, so much the better. The man is a hell of a cook…even if he is dead.”

“I’ll second that,” Remax said. “I’m starved.”

“You’re starved?” Vioxx snapped. “Which one of us had to hike five kilometers today?”

“That’s the problem with you younger officers. You’re lazy. Afraid of a little exercise.”

“I fear nothing!” Centurion Nortal cried, smacking her hand down on the table. The Romulan rose from abruptly from her seat. “I desire sustenance! I will be fed!” With that, she stormed over to Tovar’s kitchen.

“Okay,” Marsden said. “Should we be worried about this?”

“Possibly so,” Bain said. “Toflay doesn’t stand for intruders in his kitchen.”

“Unless they’re naked,” Marsden muttered.

“Pardon me?” Bain asked.

“Never mind.”

“I heard her,” Remax said.

“Me too,” Vioxx said.

“That would make three of us,” Commander Prosak said. Down the table, Sub-Lieutenant Zantak raised her hand. “Four.”

“Oh shut up. All of you,” Marsden snapped.

“Looks like a couple more will be joining the party,” Bain said, spotting Dr. Kasyov heading their way with Cabral’s hovercam floating along beside her. Kasyov did not look at all pleased.

“We have a problem,” she said, stepping up to the table.

“We have many of them, I’m sure,” Bain said. “But they can all wait for a little while. It’s a beautiful evening. Dinner’s on the way. When was the last time we were able to dine outdoors like this?”

“This one is serious, Captain,” Kasyov said.

“Is the ship about to explode?”


“Then what could be so serious.”

“It’s Cabral…”

Bain immediately snapped to business. “What is it? Are you hurt, lad?” Bain demanded.

“I am fine,” Cabral said. “However, I have discovered that the interface my sphere uses to connect to the ship has been damaged.”

“You mean the big lasagna,” Bain said. With all of its curved and squiggly red pipes, the interface did look more than a little like a giant block of pasta.

“Yes. And without that interface…”

“No anti-sing,” Marsden said, finishing the thought. “So even if we do get off of the surface, we won’t be getting anywhere fast.”

“And at conventional warp speeds, we’ll be sitting ducks for the Red Borg,” Kasyov said.

“I’ve suddenly lost my appetite,” Vioxx said.

The loud clang of a metal spatula being slammed down on the work table beside his stove yanked Tovar/Toflay out of his intense concentration he was using to focus on the thickness and consistency of the sauce simmering the pot in front of him.

“I will dine at once!” Nortal stated, raising the spatula over her head dramatically.

“Who dares interrupt this most delicate of processes?” Tovar/Toflay shot back, turning angrily on the Romulan. “Have you any idea the damage you could cause?”

“Only damage to your weak flesh if you do not yield to my righteous demands. Yield, I say, or face my wrath!”

“Wrath you shall have!” Tovar/Toflay bellowed, the force of which actually cause Nortal to flinch back slightly. “You have entered the domain of Toflay, and I will smite anyone who attempts to destroy my culinary masterpiece!”

“Smite?” Nortal said in wonder.

“Smite!” Tovar/Toflay growled.

“Very well,” Nortal said, eyeing the Yynsian with a glint in her eyes. “I will withdraw…this time and anxiously await your offering of sustenance to me. Until we meet again…”

“Begone!” Tovar/Toflay shouted.

“Yes!” Nortal cried and rushed off, looking back at the irate chef all the while.

“What kind of damage are we talking about here?” Bain asked. “Surely Marsie can fix it.”

“I don’t know,” Marsden said. “There’s so much we don’t know about the interface. It’s still alien technology. I originally installed it in the Anomaly out of sheer desperation because it looked like it could regulate the anti-singularity field. And it doesn’t even really do that unless Cabral is there to control the subtle manipulations required to maintain the integrity of the field at anti-sing speeds. The field is continuously changing shape due to…” Marsden trailed off, her eyes gazing blankly as she thought. She suddenly slapped her hand down on the table. “Ha!” she exclaimed. “That’s it! That’s how we get off of the surface!”

“Don’t leave us in suspense, Marsie,” Bain said grinning. There was nothing more satisfying than watching his people crack a problem like this. It made him even more proud to be their commanding officer.

“The anti-sing field is a bit like a conventional warp field in terms of being similar to a bubble around the ship, but the properties of the anti-sing field are a bit different. In a way, it almost protects us from normal space by repelling it. If we create the field around the ship without actually attempting to engage the engines, the part of the field extending around the bottom of the ship will literally push us up off of the ground. From there, we can engage the impulse engines and head into space.”

“Maintaining a static anti-singularity field inside a planet’s atmosphere will be quite difficult,” Cabral said.

“You won’t have to maintain it,” Marsden said. “As soon as we’re up, you can shut it down.”

“Brilliant!” Bain said clapping.

“It’s a great idea, Shelly, but Cabral can’t even create a field right now,” Kasyov said.

Bain stopped clapping. “Oh right right. The broken lasagna. How do we fix it?”

“I believe that I will be able to assist Lieutenant Marsden in that area,” Cabral said. “I am quite familiar with the components.”

“That will help, but what are we going to do if we have to replace anything?” Marsden said. “It’s not like we’ve got spare parts for that thing lying around.”

“No offense intended here, Marsie, but considering the importance of this piece of equipment to the anti-sing drive, don’t you think we should be a bit more prepared for these sorts of problems?” Bain asked.

“Alien technology,” Marsden said, enunciating every syllable slowly. “Alien.”

“It is possible that the directed application of Borg nanoprobes may be able effect any necessary repairs. I will guide them,” Cabral said.

“You’ve got to be kidding!” Kasyov exclaimed. “I’m not letting any of those things near your sphere!”

“They have the ability to mimic and create the components we need,” Cabral said.

“And conveniently, we’ve got some Borg on this planet who aren’t using all of their implants. Maybe they’ll give us a couple,” Marsden said.

“I’ll ask at breakfast tomorrow,” Bain said. “Don’t forget we’ve got that invite.”

“How could I?” Vioxx muttered.

“If you don’t mind, Captain, I would rather stay here and help Cabral,” Kasyov said.

“I thought you might,” Bain replied. “That’s fine. I’m sure Vioxx, Brazzell and I can handle things on that end. Right, Vioxx?” The Romulan just rolled his eyes.

“I have been denied!” Centurion Nortal exclaimed excitedly as she charged back to the table.

“And yet you seem happy about it,” Prosak observed.

“The joy of the insane,” Remax said.

“This Toflay intrigues me,” Nortal continued, ignoring (and most likely never even hearing) Remax’s jab. “And by Jenechai, he is a force to be reckoned with!”

“I think somebody’s got a crush,” Kasyov said.

Marsden chuckled, then realized just whose body that crush involved. “Hey now!”

“This is lovely,” Captain Bain said appreciatively as a veritable feast of breakfast foods was laid out before him the next morning. “But you really didn’t have to go to all this trouble just for us.”

“It was no trouble,” Jebediah of Brown replied. “We do this for every meal.”

“Every meal?” Bain said in amazement. As it was, the Browns had brought several long tables into the village square and filled them all with food. If they did this kind of spread for every meal, it was a wonder they ever got anything else done.

“Please eat,” Jebediah said gesturing to Bain, Vioxx and Brazzell, who were seated on the bench across the table from him.

“You heard the gent. Dig in,” Bain said, going for a hearty scoopful of something that looked quite similar to scrambled eggs except for the slightly bluish tinge. Vioxx warily took a piece of something ham-like then realized that he was being stared at.

“Dost thou not like it?” Sarah of Brown asked.

“I haven’t tasted it yet.”

“I assure thee it is quite good. I slaughtered the creature, prepared its flesh, and performed the cooking myself.”

Vioxx sliced off a small bite and put it in his mouth. It actually was fairly tasty. “You do good work,” he said. Sarah smiled, which actually caused Vioxx to smile back until he remembered what she was. He quickly looked down at his plate and began to eat in earnest, unwilling to meet her gaze again, but he was certain that she was watching all the while.

On the opposite side of Bain from Vioxx, Brazzell examined a piece of toast…and I do mean examined. He had his quadcorder on, scanning every nook and cranny in the bread, as he kept a microlaser at the ready.

“I dost not understand thy underling’s behavior,” Jebediah said to Bain. “Dost he require assistance?”

Bain gulped down the mouthful of sort-of hash browns he was chewing. “Don’t mind him at all,” Bain said. “It’s just a ritual of his people.”

“Just a ritual!” Brazzell exclaimed. “Do you have any idea what kind of microbes could be running around this planet? I don’t! And I’m not about to…”

“Eat, Brazzell,” Bain said, taking a fork full of the ham- type-substance and shoving it into his mouth. “Uh mughn ibt.”

“Ahhh! No talking while eating! AHHHHHHH!”

Engineer Selex was more than a little disappointed to find neither Commander Vioxx or Captain Bain on the bridge when he emerged from the open turbolift shaft. Instead, Commander Prosak was seating in the command chair occupying herself with a padd as Tovar continued his watch for incoming Red Borg at tac-ops.

Hearing a newcomer, Prosak turned her chair and spotted Selex before the engineer could retreat back into the turbolift shaft. “Did you require something, Selex?” Prosak asked.

“I wished to speak to Commander Vioxx or the captain. As they are not here, I will return to my duties.”

“Captain Bain and Vioxx have gone back to see the Brown Borg. I am the officer in command. If you have need of someone in authority, that someone is me,” Prosak said, trying to keep the hint of irritation she felt creeping up from filtering into her voice. Selex obviously disliked her, but under no circumstances was she going to allow that to interfere with the operation of the Anomaly. “Now what do you wish to say?”

Selex briefly considered lying; however, even Prosak would have to see the brilliance of his idea, and it would be better to start preparations as soon as possible. “I have a way to get us off of the planet,” he began. “Much work will be required, and I must insist that we set every available crewman to work on cutting down trees at once.”

“The trees,” Prosak said. “Why…”

“We will build a wooden scaffold around the Anomaly,” Selex continued, cutting her off. “The amount of wood required to support the weight of a starship will be large, so we may very well need to take the entire forest. But in the end we will have a structure in place that, when the proper pulleys and cables are in place, will be capable of lifting the vessel enough for us to activate the impulse engines and free ourselves from this planet. If we begin now with around-the-chronometer shifts, I believe we can have the structure complete in a month.”

“Lieutenant Marsden and Cabral have already developed a better plan,” Prosak said flatly. “Thank you, though.”

“They…have…a…better…plan?” Selex asked agape. How could a human and that freak of nature have come up something better than his monumental scaffold?

“Yes. Thank you.”

“But how…”

“Lieutenant Marsden and Cabral have the situation in hand. If they require your assistance, I am sure they will contact you. And I will present your plan to the captain should our present course fail for some reason. Is that acceptable?”

Selex glared at Prosak. Then, without another word, he turned and headed back to the turbolift shaft, more certain than ever that Prosak really REALLY needed to die.

Once breakfast had been consumed (although, Bain was still a little fuzzy on how the Brown Borg could eat), the Browns set about clearing the tables and then literally clearing the tables out of the village center leaving Bain, Vioxx, and Brazzell at something of a loss as to what do to while the Borg around them methodically went about their work.

“Commander Vioxx,” Sarah of Brown called from a bin of metal plates she was struggling to lift. “This drone requires assistance…if thou wouldst.”

Vioxx only had a split second to hesitate before Bain clapped him on the back, nearly launching the Romulan at Sarah. “Give our hosts a hand,” Bain said. “Damn proper notion actually. Brazzell, roll up those sleeves and let’s get to it.”

“You want me to touch used food? Or plates that have touched food? Or surfaces that have touched plates that have touched food? Or chairs that were at a table that touched plates that…”

“Brazzell,” Bain warned.

“Oh very well!” Brazzell huffed, pulling two long yellow gloves out of his pack and putting them on until they stretched all the way up his sleeve to his shoulders. He then added a full-body enveloping apron and a hood and sprayed down a nearby chair.

It wasn’t quite the spirit Bain had in mind, the captain thought with a slight shrug, but Brazzell would get the job done. But now Bain needed to track down Jebediah. They had business to discuss.

He located the head Brown Borg closing up a shed where the chairs and tables were stored between meals.

“Jebediah, my good man,” Bain said warmly. “That was a splendid meal! Just splendid. On behalf of my crew, I want to thank you. I wish there was something I could offer you in return. Actually, I’d love to give you some help of one kind or another, but the fact is that I’m going to have to ask you for another favor.”

“What is this favor?” Jebediah asked without a hint of annoyance, pleasure, or anything else.

“We think we can fix our ship and be on our way, but my staff tells me that we need a bit of Borg technology to get us over the final hump. I was hoping, since you lot aren’t using your implants anymore, that you might be willing to provide a few.”


“No?” Bain asked surprised.


“But you aren’t using it anymore.”

“We do not use our technology ourselves, and we will not give our technology away for others’ use. It is against our beliefs.”

“Ah. I see,” Bain said, wondering briefly if it was worth the trouble to attempt to argue belief systems with a Borg. “So that’s your final word then.”

“It is.”

“If you change your mind, you’ll let me know.”

“I will, but I won’t.”

“Will change your mind, but won’t tell me about it?”

“The reverse.”

“Ah. Of course,” Bain said. “Well. I guess that’s that then.”

“It is.”

“Right. Okay. I guess I’ll stop pestering you then. Thanks again for the breakfast. Just splendid.”

“Thou art welcome.”

Bain nodded then headed off. That hadn’t exactly gone as well as he’d hoped. Went damn badly to be honest, but there was nothing for it really. If the Browns said no, they’d just have to find another solution. Time to break the news to the crew.

With his morning meal preparations complete and the outdoor kitchen cleaned to Toflay’s satisfaction, Tovar returned to the Anomaly’s bridge to relieve Centurion Nortal, who was currently monitoring the skies for the decreasingly-likely signs of a Red Borg onslaught.

“Any change, Centurion?” he asked Nortal as he stepped up to tac-ops.

“The air remains clear of menace,” Nortal reported.

“Good to hear. I will take over.”

“Yes, sir,” Nortal said crisply, stepping out from behind the console. She lingered a moment as Tovar reconfigured the display for his preferred views.

“Is there something else?” he asked.

“Breakfast was very good.”

“I will be sure to pass that along to Toflay…not that he would ever believe otherwise.”

“I had three helpings.”


“They were all wonderful.”

“So you have said.”

“Is he listening?”

“Is who listening?”

“He who creates such masterpieces!”

“Um…no. I think Toflay’s taking a nap right now.”

“Can you wake him?”

“Why would I want to?”

“I will wait.”

“Wait elsewhere. You are distracting me.”

Nortal’s eyes widened briefly at this command, but then she caught herself. “Very well!” she spat. “I will wait below, but believe me, I WILL be waiting. My wait will rival the greatest waits of history!” She spun on her heel and marched to the turbolift shaft, nearly barreling over Lieutenant Marsden, who was just emerging.

“In a hurry?” Marsden asked jokingly.

“I must WAIT!” Nortal exclaimed, before mounting the ladder and descending to the lower decks.

“If only we all attacked our days with such enthusiasm,” Marsden remarked.

“I would have to consider suicide,” Tovar said.

“You and me both. I just can’t deal with that for long,” Marsden said.

“That’s something I think we can all agree on,” Sub-Commander Remax muttered from the science console.

“Indeed,” Commander Prosak said, spinning around in the command chair to face Marsden. “A calm professionalism would seem to be the preferable way to approach each day.”

“I never said that,” Remax said. “You can keep your Vulc…”

“Commander, I have Captain Bain on the line,” Tovar interrupted as his attention was drawn to his console.

“Please put him on,” Prosak said, resisting the urge to stick her tongue out at Remax in a most un-Vulcan fashion. “Captain, this is Prosak.”

“Morning, all!” Bain’s voice exclaimed over the comm. “How are we doing?”

“Very well,” Prosak said.

“The repairs are progressing, then?”

“Yes, sir,” Marsden said. “The polaron drive is ready to go, and we’re set to bring main power back online. After we ensure that the core is stable, we can start in on the other systems. We’re mainly waiting for the Borg hardware from you.”

“Right…about that…seems there’s been a minor snag and the Browns aren’t going to give us any implants after all.”

“They’re not!” Remax shouted. “Who do they think they are?”

“The owners of the implants,” Bain said. “Not to worry, though. You’re just going to have to take a different approach. I need to get back to our hosts. No point in being rude. You’ll find a way around this little bump in the road. I have complete confidence. Bain out.”

On the Anomaly bridge, Marsden stood staring blankly ahead in silent shock. “No implants?” she said softly.

“That would appear to be the case,” Prosak said.

“What are we going to do?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Remax said. “Bain couldn’t get them diplomatically, so he wants us to get them another way.”

“I fail to see how that is the obvious conclusion,” Prosak said.

“He said to take a different approach, not find an entirely new solution. That says to me that he wants us to use another approach to the same solution. You’re the RommaVulc. Don’t you recognize logic?”

“That’s not logic. It’s semantics.”

“Do you have another solution?”

“No, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one.”

“There isn’t,” Marsden said. “Unless you consider staying here a solution.”

“I sure don’t,” Remax said.

“But you cannot seriously believe that the captain would advocate stealing the implants after we’ve been refused,” Prosak said. “Can you?”

“Sure I can,” Marsden said. “How would it be different than what we did in Andromeda? We had no intention of ever paying the bill for the supplies we got.”

“That was you acting unilaterally.”

“You were with me.”

“I was uninformed. And I am not the captain.”

“Thank the Praetor for that,” Remax said.

“But I am in command,” Prosak said. “Therefore I am responsible for interpreting the Captain’s orders.”

“Even if your interpretation is wrong?” Marsden pressed.

“I’m not certain that it is.”

“But you’re not certain that it isn’t either.”

“Not certainly certain.”

“Then ask someone who would know,” Remax said. He pointed at Tovar. “Him! He’s been with Bain for years. What do those orders mean, Tovar?”

“Captain Bain is confident we will solve the problem,” Tovar said. “How we do it is not generally his concern as long as it gets done.”

“So we could steal the implants,” Marsden said.

Tovar hesitated. “Well…yes. Captain Bain has been known to sidestep diplomatic decorum on occasion in these cases. On most occasions really. There is a reason we were given an emergency diplomatic hologram when we went to Andromeda.”

“And in this case we’d be angering a bunch of farmers,” Remax said. “Who cares? Let’s get the implants and get the hell off of this mudball.”

“I suppose it would be reasonable for us to at least try to locate the implants,” Prosak said thoughtfully. “Once we know where they are, we can discuss next steps.”

“I’ll take the Frinoqua!” Marsden said, dashing toward the turbolift shaft.

“You’ll need help on the sensors,” Remax said, following behind. “And we should take the brain,” he added as the pair disappeared down the ladder.

“They’re going to take the implants,” Prosak said flatly.

“Most likely,” Tovar said.

“I could order them back.”

“Yes…but you won’t.”

“No,” Prosak sighed. “I won’t. I want to leave this planet as much as they do. I just hope…” She trailed off.

“Don’t worry,” Tovar said. “Everything will be fine. I’m certain of it.”

“Certainly certain?”

“I wouldn’t go that far.”

Over in the Brown Borg village, Vioxx was wondering if his back would be fine as he hefted one end of an insanely heavy dish bin while Sarah, who had the other end and didn’t seem to be straining at all, carefully led him up the stairs into the communal dishroom at the side of the meeting hall.

They placed the bin on the table next to the sinks, then Sarah began pumping in water. “It is this drone’s day to wash the dishes. Whilst thou remain to assist me?”

“I don’t think I can,” Vioxx said, looking back at the door separating him from the outside non-dirty dish filled world. “I should stay with…MMMMMMPPPH!”

He never got a chance to finish the sentence as he was grabbed from behind and dragged deeper into the dishroom.

“I’ve got something,” Sub-Commander Remax said from the raceabout co-pilot’s seat as Lieutenant Marsden kept the craft skimming over the trees on the opposite side of the Brown Borg village from the Anomaly’s crash site. “Definitely a power source of some kind.”

“The energy readings are consistent with Borg technology,” Cabral observed, his hovercam floating just over Remax’s shoulder. The Romulan shot a glare back at Cabral’s remote device. “Natalia has been giving me lessons,” Cabral said simply.

“You can’t have my job.”

“I would not want it.”

“Am I landing or what?” Marsden snapped.

“The trees are too thick. Hover here, and you two can beam down to investigate.”

“We two? Why not you?”

“I found the site. That’s my contribution. I’ll leave the dirty work to those more suited to it.”

Marsden charged out of her seat toward the supply cabinet muttering to herself, “If I didn’t want off of this planet so badly…”

“Take a shovel!” Remax called after her. “I think the signal is underground!”

A short time later, Marsden and Cabral’s hovercam materialized on the forest floor next to a large mound of dirt. “Clever hiding place,” she remarked.

“I doubt they were expecting anyone to come looking for the implants,” Cabral replied. “This mound may simply be ceremonial in nature. Burying their links to their past.”

“I never really thought of Borg having ceremonies.”

“Every culture does in some form or another. They form part of the fabric of a society, creating common experiences that…”

“No offense, Cabral, but you sound like my Xeno- anthropology professor at the Academy,” Marsden said, cutting him off.

“I am sorry. I’ve been reading with…”

“Natalia. I know. And don’t worry about it. You need some hobbies beyond running the anti-sing drive. But right now, I just want to get these implants and get out of here.”

“Agreed,” Cabral said. “Please stand back.”

Marsden did as she was requested just before Cabral activated a low level, wide beam phaser sweep, quickly clearing off the top levels of dirt and revealing a pile of ocular implants, cybernetic arms, and the like.

“Will this cover us?” Marsden asked, snatching up two of the arms.

“It should be more than sufficient.”

“Well this pretty much couldn’t have gone better,” Marsden said, shifting both Borg arms to one hand so that she could pinch her commpip. “Marsden to Remax. Beam us up.” And moments after that, they were gone, confident that they’d made a clean getaway.

“So there I was, phaser rifle smashed on the ground at my feet and six burly blokes from the Orion Environ Movement ready to take me to task for littering,” Captain Bain said, his hands gesturing wildly as he relayed his tale. Bain’s “audience,” Jebediah, was paying a bit less than rapt attention, instead choosing to spend his time using a hammer attachment on his left arm to knock a few nails on the meeting hall steps that were working themselves out of their boards back into place.

Jebediah abruptly stopped and stood bolt upright.

“Exciting stuff, isn’t it?” Bain said, noticing Jebediah’s change in demeanor. “Now the first bloke…”

“We have been violated,” Jebediah said, turning on Bain.

“I beg your pardon.”

“Implants have removed from their resting place.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Bain said. “I’ve been with you the whole time. Brazzell’s right over there. And Vioxx…well, I’m sure he doesn’t even know where your implants are.” Vioxx suddenly staggered around the corner from the side of the meeting hall, Sarah following close behind. “Look. There he is now. Not an implant in sight.”

“The implants have been taken,” Jebediah said as Vioxx and Sarah approached. The Brown Borg leader looked over his designated dependent. “And the Romulan has had his way with my daughter.”

“What the devil!” Bain exclaimed.

“My way?” Vioxx gasped, collapsing to his knees. “She took me! And you aren’t even related.”

“We are very close,” Jebediah said. “And thou hast violated her as well as our implants.”

“If anyone was violated around here, it was me!” Vioxx said. “She’s an animal!”

“This drone stands ready to continue after thou hast a period of regeneration,” Sarah said flatly.

“What the devil!” Bain repeated.

Brazzell ran over to the group. “Captain…”

“In a minute,” Bain snapped. “What happened here, Vioxx?”

“I told you!” Vioxx shot back.

“Captain!” Brazzell said urgently.

“You bedded the Borg?” Bain demanded.

“She came after me! She was relentless. Good…amazing really, but relentless. I couldn’t get away!”

“Did you even try?”

“CAPTAIN!” Brazzell screamed.

“WHAT?” Bain shouted back, whipping his head toward the security officer.

“That!” Brazzell cried, pointing at the horde of Brown Borg marching silently toward their position.

“What is this, Jebediah?” Bain said, turning back to their host.

“We have been violated. Our implants have been stolen. The only way to prevent their use is to assimilate those responsible. Thou whilst give up thy reliance on technology and service us,” Jebediah said.

“You have to use technology to assimilate us!” Bain said.

“Yes. An unfortunate reality. However, the implants thou whilst receive whilst be completely non-technical,” Jebediah said, brandishing his hammer attachment and a nail in his other hand.

“Right,” Bain said. “Thanks so much for the invite, but we’d best be off.”

Jebediah took a step closer. “Resistance is…”

Bain’s fist slammed into the Borg’s face, knocking Jebediah to the ground, and, more importantly, cutting off that annoying catch phrase. “Run!” Bain ordered, snapping his wrist phaser into position.

“Keep your dirty dirty probes out of my bloodstream!” Brazzell screamed. He raced across the fields into the woods, firing back into the crowd of Brown Borg as he went.

“Legs sapped. Can’t run!” Vioxx said in horror.

“Bloody hell,” Bain muttered, scooping Vioxx up and tossing the Romulan’s limp body over his shoulder before throwing a solid elbow into a Brown heading their way.

“Call me,” Sarah said to Vioxx as Bain bounded toward the forest.

“Retrieve them,” Jebediah ordered, getting awkwardly to his feet. The population of the Brown Borg village, nearly 100 drones in all, moved to comply.

“Commander, Captain Bain is on the comm for you. I believe it’s urgent,” Tovar said, looking up from tac-ops.

“Put him through,” Prosak said. “Hello, Captain!”

“WHAT IN THE BLOODY HELL IS GOING ON?” Bain’s voice bellowed, driving Prosak to cover her ears.

“Is there a problem?” Prosak asked grimacing.

“The Browns are on the warpath! Some tripe about their implants being violated.”

“Ah. That,” Prosak said.

“That?” Bain demanded.

“It appears that we may have interpreted your orders a bit differently than you would have wished.”

“Interpreted? What did I say that would lead you to think that it’s okay to steal the implants?”

“You said that you could not get the implants yourself, so we were to take a different approach.”

“Did I say that?”

“Yes, sir,” Prosak said.


“Those were your words,” Tovar replied.

“Oh. Guess that was a bit confusing, wasn’t it? I most likely would have done the same thing after hearing that. The Browns probably still would have been mad after Vioxx’s little escapade anyway.”

“Escapade?” Prosak asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Seems our First Officer had an encounter with the leader’s daughter.”

“An encounter? He took advantage of her?”

“She took advantage of me!” Vioxx shouted.

“Either way, the Browns are in a bit of snit,” Bain said.

“The Frinoqua has just returned. I will send it out immediately to retrieve you,” Prosak said.

“Belay that, Commander,” Bain said. “Marsie and Cabral are going to need time to get the Anomaly ready to fly. If we vanish, the Borg will head straight to you. Better that we keep the Borg chasing us for a while.”

“Easy for you to say,” Vioxx said.

“It would be if you’d run with your own two feet instead of having me carry you,” Bain snapped.

“Why are you carrying him?” Prosak asked.

“Never mind!” Vioxx said. “Out.” Prosak and Tovar heard Bain begin to protest just before the channel was cut off.

“Lieutenant Marsden and Cabral’s hovercam have beamed directly to Science Lab Four,” Tovar reported. “Request permission to leave the bridge and prepare security to defend the ship.”

“That may be the most logical idea I’ve heard all day,” Prosak said.

“How do you want to do this?” Lieutenant Marsden asked, turning one of the Borg arms around in her hand as she stood in front of Cabral’s sphere and sphere housing in Science Lab Four. She, Cabral, and Dr. Kasyov had just received word from Prosak that the Borg had taken exception to their raid on the Brown’s implant storage site and were on their way, adding a bit of a timetable to their activities.

“I believe the quickest course will be for me to interface directly with the implant and take the nanoprobes from there to the damaged portions of my housing,” Cabral replied as a small probe extended from a hatch in his sphere.

“You most certainly will not!” Dr. Kasyov exclaimed, snatching the implant away from Marsden. “Those nanoprobes will be inside your sphere. They could decide to ignore you altogether and head straight for assimilation!”

“I can control them.”

“You can’t be certain of that.”

“Can we skip another argument about certainty, Nat?” Marsden said. “No one is certain of anything. Okay? If Cabral thinks he can do it and is willing to take the risk, I’m not going to stand in his way.”

“Everything will be fine,” Cabral said.

Kasyov stepped over and ran her hand along his sphere. “I just don’t want you to be harmed. We can do this another way.”

“No matter what way we select, at some point I am going to have to take control of the nanoprobes and accept the risk that entails. And even if a problem were to occur, I know that you’re here to help me.”

“Of course I am.”

“And so am I,” Marsden said. “So let’s get moving on this, okay? Before the nanoprobes’ much larger friends show up.”

Kasyov reluctantly put the Borg arm within reach of Cabral’s probe, which instantly latched onto it. “I am extracting the nanoprobes now,” Cabral said. “Pardon my silence for the next several minutes, but this will require a great deal of concentration.”

“We’ll be here, Cabral,” Kasyov said. She got no response. “Cabral?”

“Shhh,” Marsden said. “He’s working.”

“I just want to know that he’s okay.”

“I’m sure he’ll let us know if something goes wrong. Just relax.”


“Well, neither can I, but we’ll just have to fake it.”

Bain abruptly set Vioxx down in the middle of the woods, drawing an exclamation of “Hey! What are you doing?” from the Romulan.

“We’ve got enough of a lead on the Borg now,” Bain said. “You can transport yourself the rest of the way.”

“Are you crazy? I can’t run yet,” Vioxx replied, wobbling on unsteady legs.

“Wake up, man! These are Borg! Who needs to run? In this terrain, if you walk at a halfway steady gait, you’ll outpace the blighters.”

“Fine. Which way to the ship?”

“That way,” Bain said, pointing off toward his left. “But we’re zigging this way first. Then we’ll zig back that way. That should give the others a bit more time to get things in order on the Anomaly…assuming the Browns follow us instead of Brazzell. The man can run. I’ll give him that. I’d wager he’s back at the ship already.”

“I wish I was with him,” Vioxx grumbled.

“I should have stayed with Captain Bain,” Lieutenant Brazzell grumbled.

“You would still be dealing with the Borg, Lieutenant,” Tovar replied.

“Yes, but the Captain was running away from them, not standing around waiting to face them head-on.”

The ‘facing the Borg head-on’ that Brazzell mentioned was a somewhat fair assessment of the situation. Tovar had gathered his security officers, including the recently-returned Brazzell, and stationed the group on top of the Anomaly’s saucer, compression phaser rifles in hand and waiting for any sign of movement from the trees.

Status reports from Science Lab Four were pretty much non-existent, so Tovar was faced with the very real possibility of having to engage the Brown Borg upon Captain Bain’s arrival at the ship. Bain was buying Cabral, Kasyov, and Marsden as much time as he could to complete repairs, but his and Vioxx’s zigging and zagging would eventually lead them here.

Eventually being right now, Tovar observed as Bain and Vioxx broke out of the treeline and headed toward the ship at a dead run. Bain quickly spied the line of officers on the saucer.

“Taking the high ground, Tovar! Good show!” Bain exclaimed.

“It is the prudent course of action from a tactical perspective,” Tovar called back. “Are the Borg close behind you?”

“Yes!” Vioxx shouted. “Kill them all.”

“Now hang on a tic,” Bain said. “The Browns were quite hospitable and probably would have stayed that way if we hadn’t stolen their implants and you hadn’t molested that girl.”

“For the last time, she molested me!”

“Even so, my point is that this isn’t really their fault. I just can’t see killing the lot of them over it. Tovar, keep your weapons on stun!”

“Stun?” Tovar and Vioxx cried.

“You heard me, lad.”

“You do realize that stun only works on a limited range of frequencies. If the Browns still have their adaptation ability…”

“Yes yes. It will be a challenge,” Bain said with a dismissive wave of his hand. “I’m sure we can hold the buggers off until Cabral and Marsie get things sorted out on their end. Stand by. Vioxx and I will be up presently to join you.”

“We will?” Vioxx asked in alarm.

“As it should be,” Bain said, clapping Vioxx on the back. “Rifles in hand. Defending our ship. Gets the blood pumping, wouldn’t you say?”

“I don’t need my blood pumping!”

Obviously it didn’t matter whether Vioxx agreed or not, since a few minutes later, he was climbing out of the access hatch onto the surface of the Anomaly’s saucer just as he heard Tovar announce the Borg’s arrival.

Sure enough, a line of Browns was marching slowly and silently out of the treeline, the various pitchfork, shovel, and hammer attachments on their arms raised at the ready. A few were carrying torches as well.

“Looks like a bloody lynch mob,” Bain muttered, eyeing the line heading their way.

“Will you be attempting diplomacy, or may I fire now?” Tovar asked.

Bain sighed. “Guess I should say something to them, eh?” He cleared his throat. “Attention Brown Borg, please cease your approach to our vessel and go home! We have no quarrel with you!”

“WE HAVE A QUARREL WITH YOU,” the Browns replied in booming Borg unison.

“They do have a point there,” Bain admitted, looking over to Vioxx.

“Would you stop that!” Vioxx demanded.

“Tovar,” Bain said.

“Yes, sir,” Tovar replied, raising his arm to signal his officers. “Ready! Aim! Fire!”


Continuing, nerve-wracking silence.

“When the hell is he going to say something?” Dr. Kasyov shouted suddenly, stopping in mid-pace and whirling toward Lieutenant Marsden, who was at that time using the science lab console to check on the status of the Anomaly’s other systems while stealing the occasional glance at the outside monitors just to make sure Tovar was okay.

“When he’s ready to,” Marsden replied.

“How can you be so calm? I would think that you would be even more worked up than I am about this!”

“I have about twenty other things to concentrate on. Main power is back online, but I have to make sure the polaron drive is standing by, the structural integrity field has the power to deal with the stress of this maneuver, and that the warp core and the quantum singularity are both aligned properly because I really don’t feel like blowing up today.”

“So I should just stop worrying about him? Is that what you’re saying?”

“No. I think saying that would actually get me hurt.”

“They’ve adapted to my setting!”

“Mine too!”

“Find another!”

“I’m out!”

“Me too!”

“Captain!” Tovar said urgently. “We are quickly running out of options.”

“I can see that, Tovar,” Bain replied. In the field below, a good fifty Browns had fallen. Unfortunately that left about another fifty that were just fine and dandy and continuing to approach the ship.

“What are your orders?”

“Keep firing. We may not be able to stun them, but we might be able to push them back. I will not kill them.”

“You always were a softie for a good meal,” Tovar said.

“It’s a weakness, I know. If the Breen had just had me over for dinner, there might be a lot more of them still alive,” Bain said with a grim smile.

Dr. Kasyov was rapidly nearing another outburst when she heard a slight grunt coming from Cabral. She quickly raced over to his sphere and pressed her hands against it.

“Cabral? Are you okay?”

No response.


Still no response.

“CABRAL!” Kasyov cried. “Shelly, they’re assimilating him! We have to do something to stop this!”

Cabral grunted again. “Repairs…complete,” he said, tiredly. In truth, he was exhausted, but not from the long repairs. Actually, the repairs had taken relatively little time. Yes, controlling the nanoprobes was tiring, but the main part of his efforts had been absorbed by just trying to get the little monsters’ attention in the first place. After so long a period of disuse, the nanoprobes had gotten rather accustomed to their life of leisure, and Cabral ended up trying to interrupt their equivalent of bingo night. It took more than a little cajoling on his part to get them to even listen to him at all, much less go to work. It was only when he threatened to never let them return to the Borg arm they came from that they finally gave in and got the job done.

“Do you have control of the anti-sing system?” Marsden asked quickly.

“Yes, I do.”

“Fantastic. I’ll inform the Captain, and we can get out of here.”

“Hold on,” Kasyov said. “Cabral, you’re tired. We can wait until you rest a bit.”

“No, we can’t,” Marsden said.


“Have you looked outside?” Marsden snapped, activating an external view on the science lab console. The monitor showed several Brown Borg banging against and prying at the side of the Anomaly’s saucer.

“Now would be great, Cabral,” Kasyov said, patting his sphere.

“Marsden to Bain.”

“What’s the good word, Marsie,” Bain replied, firing a steady stream of fire into a Brown Borg who didn’t seem to be noticing, much to Bain’s annoyance. “And I do hope there’s a good word involved.”

“We’re all set.”

“That’s about as good as it gets. Wait for my signal. Bain out.” He lowered his rifle and turned to his officers. “Down the hatch!” he shouted. The gathered group stopped firing and looked at him in confusion.

“Is it our lunch break?” Gworos asked.

“Is Toflay cooking?” Nortal asked eagerly.

“Hatch!” Bain said, pointing at the access hatch in the hull. “Down!”

This was met by a collective “OH!” from the security officers and quickly followed by a mad dash to get inside. Bain was waiting until last, but found himself face-to-face with Tovar.

“Go on, lad,” he said.

“After you,” Tovar replied.

“I’m not going to argue about this. Go on in. That’s an order.”

“I will. After you, Captain.”

“Damned insubordinate of you,” Bain grumbled as he went in.

“Thank you, sir,” Tovar said, climbing in behind Bain and sealing the hatch behind him. Moments later, the two were in a now-functioning turbolift heading for the bridge. Vioxx was already there when they arrived. He seemed poised to take the command chair from Prosak, but then slid into his chair to the side of it as he saw Bain and Tovar exit the turbolift.

“Bain to Marsden,” Bain said, taking his chair. “We’re all inside and sealed up tight.”

“All right. Stand by to engage the polaron drive as soon as Cabral gets us off of the surface,” Marsden’s voice replied over the comm.

“You heard the lady,” Bain said to Ensign Yonk at the helm.

Cabral’s voice boomed across the bridge. “Anti-sing field activating in three…two…one…Now!”

The Brown Borg banging on the outside of the Anomaly stopped as a loud hum suddenly burst from the Anomaly. This was quickly followed by the anti-sing bubble, which expanded from the surface of the ship and lifted it up from the surface. The Brown Borg found this abrupt expansion of the field to be particularly notable, since it smacked the lot of them through the air and clear back to the forest. They could only watch helplessly as the Anomaly’s polaron engines flared to life, rocketing the ship back into space where it belonged.

“Captain’s Log. Stardate 178140.4. Our little sojourn on the Brown Borg planet is at an end, and the Anomaly is returning to Federation space at Warp K. I have confirmed with the Manager of the Green Borg Collective of Bargains that all traces of the Dillon Consortium virus has been purged from their systems, so our efforts on their behalf that led to the crash were not in vain. We also strengthened our relationship with that particular faction, a fact I cannot claim about the Brown Borg. Of course, the Browns are stranded on their planet, since we blew up their cube, so I can’t say I’m all that concerned about it. I do hope that Commander Vioxx has learned something from all of this, though.”

“Never trust a Borg,” Vioxx said firmly, leaning forward in his desk chair as Sub-Commander Remax reclined on the sofa in Vioxx’s ready room.

“I wasn’t planning on it,” Remax replied. “And I certainly wouldn’t allow myself to get into an intimate situation with one.”

“I was attacked,” Vioxx snapped. He suddenly realized he had an opportunity here to finally put a little dent in Remax’s superiority complex. “It was nice, though,” he added. “Not that you could have handled Sarah. She would have sent you into cardiac arrest. The things she could do with her…”

“I don’t need to hear about it,” Remax said.



“I think you are. You missed out, you know.”

Remax just glared at him.

“Still,” Vioxx continued. “I am relieved to be away from there. It’s time to get things back to normal.”

“That I can agree with,” Remax said, rising from the sofa. “I can get back to my work, and you can get back to killing Prosak.” Remax shot Vioxx a smug smirk, then strode out onto the bridge.

“Oh yeah,” Vioxx muttered. “That.”


Tags: boldly