A/N: Well. Long time no see. First up I want to apologize for not updating. First it was school, then StarCraft, then Skyrim, then Old Republic, then StarCraft again. But here I am again, back from silence. So to make up for your waiting, here's a double length feature.
Ch. 14: Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire
Miles O'Brien was in one of the busiest shifts in his career. There were over three thousand people to beam up to UNSC ships in orbit, and since his transporter pad could only take six at a time, with nineteen other transporter rooms, each room had to go through at least seven beaming processes.
The ship rocked yet again as the battle outside raged on, the Enterprise's new machine guns could still be heard blazing away at the multitude of Borg drones. Miles was careful not to screw up the transporter beam while ship rocked.
Apparently the inertial dampeners have failed, he thought, picking himself off the floor. He oversaw the last of the current beam-up and started the next. Just before he hit the "initiate" panel, the floor part of the transporter pad sparked and its lights dimmed. Miles hit his combadge and began running diagnostics.
"O'Brien to engineering, transporter four just short circuited….or something. Still trying to ascertain the malady. Send a repair team up here on the double."
The officer on the other side acknowledged. Miles ran three diagnostics on the site-to-site transporters. The energy beam converting the target's mass to energy checked out, the transportation stream checked out, and- Aha! The post conversion transportation beam had failed! The engineering team he requested entered the transporter room, and he instructed where to begin their work while he began rewriting the code for the latter mass transportation beam.
Another rock of the ship, and the panel in front of O'Brien erupted in sparks. O'Brien was thrown to the wall. He heard an engineer rush to his side and call for medical aide in a haze of half-consciousness. He blacked out three seconds later.
"Report." Picard ordered.
"Our new installments are performing above simulation standards." Worf replied. "It seems we have underestimated their prowess for destruction."
Riker smiled at Picard. "Yet this is a ship of exploration and peace."
"Desperate times call for desperate measures, Number one." Picard replied. "You can't expect everyone to extend a hand in peace."
"Borg number counter reads just less than three million." Data reported.
"What is the status of the transportations?"
"We have already beamed up seven hundred ninety one of the ground personnel." Data reported again. "Our rate will be slightly dampened due to one of the transporter rooms' post matter conversion transporter malfunctioned and severely injured the technician. Estimated five to six more total transportations. However, the simultaneous transportations have put a serious drain on our power systems. At best, we will be able to perform one ship-wide beam-up once every half to one hour."
"See if you can channel non-critical power and reroute it to supply additional power." Picard ordered. "Continue fire with photon torpedoes until the ground team is beamed up or our complement is depleted."
"Firing." Worf said. The console beeped as the torpedoes were fired. The torpedoes left deep craters, flinging Borg body parts across the battle field.
"Beaming process is resuming, Captain. We've been able to lower the rate to every fifteen minutes to half hour." Riker reported from his side console.
The torpedoes and machine guns filled a silence on the bridge for several minutes. The Borg counter was dwindling so quickly the one, ten, and hundred values were a blur. Worf's console beeped again, this time rapidly.
The computer chimed: "Warning: Intruder Alert. Deck seven, section fifteen." In its monotone voice.
Picard glanced at his first officer, who nodded. "Mr. Worf!" Riker yelled as they left their posts to combat the intruders. Data rose from his seat and took Commander Riker's chair, officers taking both Data's and Worf's positions.
"Commander Riker!" Picard called. Riker turned just in front of the turbolift. "Be careful, Number One." Riker gave a smile and entered the turbolift with Worf.
O'Brien came to in medbay, with Doctor Crusher leaning over him.
"Chief? Are you awake?" She asked and followed with a brisk wake-up slap.
Miles shook his head to drive off the remaining dizziness.
"Come on Miles, get up. We've got to get out of here!" Crusher helped him sit up and guided him out of Medical.
"What's going on?" Miles asked groggily.
"We've got Borg boarders from the battle below. They beamed in awfully close to sickbay, and we've been given orders to relocate to Ten-Forward."
Miles felt some strength gain from an earlier hypospray, and was able to walk on is own, albeit a bit wobbly.
"What's the status on the evacuation beam-ups, ma'am?"
"As far as I know they've got about five rounds left to do. The next round is going to happen shortly."
They turned a corner, apparently the wrong one, as a security officer armed with an assault rifle was shouting orders to his men. They were trying to security lock the door as the set of doors exploded, followed by Borg plasma fire. Crusher threw herself to the ground behind a crate, Miles a split second later. The officer in command was gunned down, and his men were quickly overrun without their leader.
As an infantrymen died, his pistol slid no the carpet and stopped just in front of Crusher. Not hesitating a bit, she grabbed the pistol and switched the safety off. She got to her feet into a low crouch, and put her back to the crate. She took a peek around the crate. The Borg were checking their enemies, confirming their deaths. Crusher threw herself out of the cover, firing four times at the Borg. Three went down, one doubled over.
Crusher, having obtained new cover, slid the pistol back to Miles who had regained his full senses.
"Miles, here! Use this!" she said in a loud whisper as she readied a nearby assault rifle. Miles reloaded with a conveniently located magazine. "On my mark." Miles readied the pistol, as Crusher counted down from 3 on her fingers. At the count of one, Crusher pulled her fingers into a fist and stood up, acquiring a target. Miles stood at the same time mirroring her.
The Borg, previously aware of their new enemy, returned fire almost instantly. Their fire rattled the crates Crusher & Miles were using as cover, and they both squatted back down until there was a break in firing.
Miles checked his rounds, and found seven left in the twelve-round magazine. He heard the drones stop firing, and rose again. He saw a Borg no less than two feet from the pistol's barrel. Miles's eyes widened at the proximity of the enemy, but still he shot his foe all the same. He reached and grabbed some of the wires hanging off the dead Borg and pulled it to him. Although the smell was a bit repulsive, Miles needed it for his plan. He kept the Borg corpse in directly in front of him, using the drone as a meat shield, absorbing shots as Crusher and he killed the remaining Borg. They stopped to pick up extra ammunition.
The lights slightly dimmed. "Looks like there's a round of transportations happening." Miles observed.
"Yeah. Maybe about three left total. Let's get out of here before more drones show up." Crusher jogged down the hall.
Hours passed. The ground team was nearly completely beamed up, and the process was speeding up. The Enterprise's shields were down to 40%, and the hull strength of the Pillar of Autumn and In Amber Clad were weakening as well.
"The last of the ground team has been beamed out, Commander." An officer told Miranda Keyes.
She let out a breath of relief. "Patch me through to the other two captains." The officer opened a three-way communiqué.
"Well, the last men have beamed out and are in orbit. We are in your debt, Picard." Miranda said, smiling.
"It was my pleasure, Commander. Are we ready to depart?"
Miranda's father's face fell at the thought of leaving Reach. He knew it must be done, but there was some morale drained at humanity's last stronghold crumbling to an overwhelming enemy.
"Yes. Let's leave this planet before they overrun us in the skies." The Captain said finally.
"Helmsman, Take us back to Earth. Cole Protocol." Miranda said.
Picard looked confused. "Do explain this 'Cole Protocol', Commander."
"It's been our protocol not to slipspace directly to Earth so our enemy does not ascertain Earth's location from our trajectory. It's worked out well, so far."
"That will not succeed." Data interrupted. "The Borg already have knowledge of the location of Earth, or, at the very least, they can make an educated guess. This will not keep Earth safe forever."
"We'll take what we can, Mister Data." Miranda said. "Plot the course and engage slipspace drive." She said to her crewman.
The stars elongated as the ships traveled beyond the speed of light.
Miranda rose from her chair. "Let me know when we arrive at Earth."
"Commander?" a sensor operator asked. "I've picked up readings of a fourth mass behind us in slipspace. It's Borg."
Miranda turned and looked at the display, leaning over the operator's shoulder.
"They are charging weapons." The operator said. Miranda called to a communications officer: "Get the Enterprise back!" The officer nodded and Captain Picard was onscreen a minute later.
"We've detected a Borg ship in pursuit of us. Our weapons cannot fire faster than the speed of light. Can we trust you to defeat them?"
Picard nodded. "You can. We'll meet you at Earth."
Miranda nodded her thanks as the line went dead. "Increase speed and inform the Pillar of Autumn!"
Crusher ran to the door ahead of her, quickly turning to squeeze off a couple shots on her assault rifle. O'Brien had found a DMR from a dead security officer and was becoming skilled at it, Crusher remarked. She stopped at the door and pounded in her security code.
"Get that door open!" Miles yelled. "They're gaining on us!"
"Give me a second!" Crusher yelled back as she finished the last of the code and submitted it to the computer. The door opened after a second of impatience. Crusher turned and emptied her magazine in staggered bursts as O'Brien turned and sprinted for the door.
Crusher was almost knocked over by the rush of Enterprise security contingent. The security officers filled the hall as they assumed firing positions and mowed down the Borg in the hallway. The security reformed and continued down the hall, trotting in unison as their commanding officer followed them in the same pace.
Crusher and O'Brien weaved their way through the groups of security men. They were directed to the engineering deck, where Riker and Worf had set a mini-command center for repelling the Borg in the small enclave before the warp core.
Riker looked up as they walked in. "Doctor. I'm glad to see you are all right. And you as well, Chief."
"Thank you sir." Miles said.
"What's the status on the Borg?" Crusher asked, walking next to Riker and looking at the display.
"So far, the Borg have beamed in on every deck from deck twelve down to forty-two."
Crusher's eyebrow's raised. "That's a lot of ground to cover, Commander."
Riker nodded. "We're well aware of that, but luckily the Borg have beamed in with small groups. We only need about three kill teams per deck. We're still working on the mid decks." He went to another display, this one wall-mounted. "So far we've secured decks seventeen, twenty-two, twenty-seven, thirty-two, and thirty-seven."
"That's still a lot of decks left out." Miles said.
"The Borg have only just beamed in, and we're marshalling our forces on those decks until we have sufficient manpower. Then we'll push out and go down a deck until the Borg are history."
Riker's combadge beeped. "Riker here."
"Commander, we're exiting warp." Captain Picard said. "The Pillar and Amber will be sending us additional troops."
"Aye, sir. Extend my thanks. I don't have very many men down here in the first place."
"I'll be sure to, Number One. Picard out."
"What's our status on the trip back to Earth?" Crusher asked.
"Well you were just apprised of our ETA, but we have a Borg ship in pursuit. It's not very big, but big enough to pose us a theat."
"What are Earth's defenses like?" Miles asked.
"I'm not sure, but I'm told it's almost impenetrable. I think we'll be safe for a while."
Worf appeared from around a corner. "We have reached sufficient numbers Commander. The UNSC troops bolstered our ranks well." He finished with a small smile.
Riker nodded. "Good. Let's begin the operation."
Worf tapped his combadge and began typing on a console. "Lieutenant Worf to squad leaders. Begin your assault." Affirmatives came through all at once, and the sound of gunfire was constant.
"What would you have us do, Commander?" Miles asked after a silence.
"Doctor, I can have you tending to wounded. Chief, you can man one of the emergency beam-out stations for our men. If their life signs get unstable, beam them out to Doctor Crusher's department."
They nodded and went their separate ways.
Kat jumped out of her seat at the call to arms from the Lieutenant.
"Finally." She said under her breath.
"All right team, we're pushing exactly five decks down." Carter began, back into his armor. "We're going down, making a circle, clearing every room, and circling back to go down again and repeat the process. This is a big damn ship people; I don't expect us to be done in two to three hours, and that's hoping for the best."
"Wouldn't have it any other way." Emile said as he inserted more shotgun shells.
Noble Six stood over the access hatch in the hallway. He put his hand on the lever and counted down from five on his fingers. On zero, he fisted his fingers and ripped the hatch open (without tearing it off). Emile primed a grenade and sent it down. It detonated, sending a plume of smoke through the hatch. He jumped down the hatch to Deck 17 and scanned for enemies.
Kat heard shotgun shots going off as soon as Emile left her sight. Jun jumped next, then Carter, then her as Six shut the hatch behind him.
It had been about four hours since they had been beamed up from New Alexandria in the middle of Borg territory. Spook had been assigned to a different unit once the UNSC reinforcements had arrived. They had enough time to sit down and catch some sleep before they were called to duty again.
In the deck were drones everywhere, with the occasional tac-drone directing his subordinates. Noble Six deployed his drop shield as cover, and the SPARTANS held their ground from there until the drones were dead.
Kat had only used two magazines of her pistol so far, and had racked about fourteen kills. If only we had Jorge. He specializes in this sort of thing. The Master Chief was assigned to a different level. He must be something special to be assigned to clear a whole five decks by his lonesome.
Six's drop shield failed as it ran out of energy. Carter pointed down a hall. "Here's where we start, Noble. Let's go." Carter took off at a jog, DMR leading the way.
Kat was right behind him, and opened a door to a crew quarters. There were three Borg drones and a Starfleet officer with ashen skin and bulging eyes. He was a goner.
She ran in and pistol whipped two of the drones, followed by a shot to each of them in the head. The last drone was overseeing the conversion of the poor sap as he stood up to deal with his new foe. Kat kicked her foot into the drone's neck and into the wall. With a brisk flick of her heel she snapped its neck. She delivered a quick shot to the head to put the human out of his misery.
She re-entered the hallway and found similar encounters with her teammates. They all left unscathed, Emile's shields flaring.
They continued this way until they reached a sort of plaza in the ship, where scans had detected an impromptu command center for the Borg. Carter tossed Kat a grenade launcher. "We've orders to hit them hard. We'll give 'em just that." On the count of three, Carter opened the doors.
Kat ran in and sent a grenade into the air, exploding after. She sent another that set off an EMP, disrupting the consoles in a blaze of static-filled consoles. She swapped for her assault rifle and spent two shots on each drone she saw. She counted fifteen kills by the time the dust settled.
"How much more do we have to do, Carter?" Emile asked, kicking over the body of a drone.
"The saucer section's circumference is just over thirteen hundred meters, and we have five decks to do it on." He said checking a display on his wrist. "We just cleared about three hundred. We've got a long day ahead of us."
Kat put a counter on her HUD to show how long a distance until they were done on that deck. Carter gave the order to move out, and they followed.
They ran through the Enterprise, popping Borg drones and the occasional shielded tac-drone as they went. They went through every room that had heat signatures inside, thanks to their newly-upgraded helmets. Noble cleared them without coincidence.
On her sixth pistol and fourth assault rifle magazine, they came across a large cargo bay on the deck. The room had been completely scan-shielded, which led to the belief that it was another checkpoint.
"Captain Picard to Noble Team."
"Noble Team, Carter here."
"Be advised, the next room is scan shielded in every way possible. No thermal, life, or emissions, nothing."
The Spartans slowed their pace. How could a room be that protected? It has to be a high value target.
"Acknowledged, Captain Picard. We will handle the situation with additional caution." Carter shut the comm. "Noble, suggestions?"
"Come in loud and hard," Emile was the first to suggest. "Blitz tactics are always effective."
"We don't know if there are heavy turrets or a hundred drones in there." Jun said. "We need more information."
"Does anyone have a cloaking system?" Carter asked.
Jun stepped forward. "Who else would?"
"Jun I need you to get in there and get us that intel." Carter said. He turned to the rest of the team. "There are additional hallways for us to check. That'll give Jun the time he needs."
"Yes sir!" All four SPARTANS said simultaneously. Jun folded his sniper rifle onto his back and pulled up Enterprise schematics. He was looking for the thief's best friend: ventilation ducts. Unfortunately, there were no ducts, but there was a Jeffries tube that ran adjacent to the next room. He removed the plating and climbed in, his SPARTAN armor making the tube a tight fit.
He advanced at a slow rate, any faster would alert the Borg of his presence. It took him ten minutes to move ten meters in his armor and the tight space. He reached a vent seeable through and peered through into his objective.
The entire room had been assimilated, bathing it in a low green light. Assimilators and Borg charge units were set up all along the walls. There were close to a dozen Borg tactical drones directing everything. In the center on a raised pedestal with its own console, was an intimidating Borg drone with a three-barreled weapon on its arm. The barrels were arranged in a triangle; Jun assumed it was a chain gun of sorts. He activated his helmet's camera and snapped shots of everything he could. In total, FOF tags registered fifty drones, the dozen tactical drones, and the single, now tagged, Commando drone.
"Commander, I'm sending you images and video of the plaza room. I think it'll be a bit of a challenge to knock this down."
Carter was silent as the pictures and video went through. "I agree Jun; it'll take a matter of premeditation. Noble team, any suggestions?"
"We could all get into the Jeffries tubes and set up crossfire. It'll give us a few seconds to take out the commando drone and maybe the tac-drones. Then the drones will be easy pickings."
"How strong are the Jeffries tubes in durability?" Noble Six asked.
"This is a starship. One would think they would be as durable as physically possible." Kat said.
"Want me to test it out?" Jun asked, flexing his fingers.
"Get to a different position, Jun. One that won't give away our plan."
Jun acknowledged and began crawling backwards. It took him twice as long to get back to an area early in the tube that had some room to move. He flexed his fingers again, and punched at the wall. A recent counter showed that Jun punched at 50%, and the tube showed a small depression. Jun tested out another spot at 70%, this time his knuckles visible in the mold. Satisfied, he crawled back out and found the rest of Noble Team waiting.
Jun threw a thumb back to the tube. "It'll hold."
Carter nodded. "Six and Jun, head up this one and establish your positions. Kat, you're with me on the opposite one. Emile, place a charge on the door and detonate it when we open fire." Carter handed him the grenade launcher. "Get into position, Noble!"
All four again acknowledged as three crawled into the tubes. Jun went in first, crawling for the far corner. Six handed Jun a DMR, and decided he would use it after he went through his first sniper mag.
"Door charge ready, Commander." Emile said.
"Noble Three in position."
"Noble Six in position."
"Noble Four in position."
"Noble Two in position."
"Roger that Noble. Begin firing on my mark."
Jun's finger tightened around the trigger of his sniper rifle. His alternate model of the sniper rifle had a much shorter barrel, still long enough to just poke out of the vent with Jun's back to the end of the tube. His crosshair was centered on the head of the commando drone. Carter began counting down from five.
The commando drone's head looked up from his console. The drone stared into nothing for a few seconds. His head turned, and looked at Jun straight through his scope. The drone typed a few commands into his console.
Carter's countdown still in progress, Jun took his shot. The bullet took the drone right in the head and toppled him over, his shields flaring.
"Open fire!" Carter said on time.
The air was filled with nothing but gunfire for some seconds. The Borg drones were quick to reply with plasma fire, the SPARTAN's cover holding but quickly growing weaker.
Jun's position was taking the most fire from the Borg since they responded to his shot. Emile, his position under a small amount of stress, stopped firing.
"Cover me!" he barked.
Emile took out his survival knife and began carving a hole in the Jeffries tube. After seconds of sawing, Emile punched the tube out and sprang out, shotgun in hand. Jun smirked in his helmet at Emile's ever-present ferocity as he brought his shotgun muzzle to a drone's head and obliterated it.
"Take out that commando drone!" Kat's voice came over the comm.
Jun instantly began scanning for the drone he had shot before. He found it soon, in the back coordinating his drones' assault against a fightable target: Emile. Jun pumped in a fresh magazine of sniper rounds and lined up his sights.
The commando drone was again knocked off his feet, shields flaring. He got up after a second.
The shields finally broke, flattening the commando again.
A spurt of blood and a hiss of air came from the drone's head. Jun frowned at his former foe's resistance.
"Commando drone had to take three sniper rounds to the head before finally giving up." He reported.
"Might be two if you were on a standard issue." Noble Six said.
"Let's hope there aren't that many of those." Carter said.
With their commander dead, the remaining drones broke into disarray and shot at all five of the SPARTANS, their weakened combined strength making them easy targets. They were cleaned up soon.
Simultaneous to the last drone dying, the comm picked up. Commander Riker's voice came hazy over.
"…ble Team, do you copy? This is Commander Riker in the forward command center on the engineering deck."
"This is Noble One, Commander."
"We've been trying to raise your for the past fifteen minutes, Commander. What's been going on?"
"We were engaged in clearing out a command position that was heavily scan shielded."
"How many drones were there?"
Carter paused to recap. "At least fifty drones, sir. At most seventy."
"Good. We were trying to raise you to give you new orders."
"We're assigning you to a new sector. We're going to site-to-site transport you to the engineering deck. Your remaining ground to cover will be handled by a new team."
Carter looked around; his face behind his helmet surely has a look of confusion.
"Acknowledged, sir. We're ready whenever."
Riker called for the transport. Soon Jun's suit scanners picked up an energy build-up that happened whenever he was transported.
They came out in the engineering deck. The warp core was behind them, in front of them Riker was hunched over a display-table.
He looked up and saw Noble Team and straightened, tugging at the hem of his uniform.
"Noble." Riker said with a nod.
"Commander." Carter returned a nod. He strode to the display table alongside Riker. "What have you got for us?" he said, glancing at the table.
Riker resumed his attention back to the display. "Well, cleanup's looking good so far. No casualties, almost lost a couple, but they've all been beamed out and gotten to our temporary sickbay. Master Chief is in the lead for his section of the Enterprise, he's just started his second deck."
"Whatever you needed us for, what could it be so important that we're pulled from our previous assignment, sir? With all due respect, we could have been finished halfway or even three-quarters finished with that deck."
"I pulled you out because the Borg have proximity beamed in on the Deck Three and are attacking Deck Two. There's only one thing of worth all the way up there."
Carter took off his helmet and placed it on the display and leaned over it. "The bridge."
"Captain Picard, I'm reading an energy build-up on Deck Three." The lieutenant commander temping for the science station said. He turned to Picard with a nervous/horrified look. "They're Borg beam-in signals."
Picard frowned. "Red Alert!" The alarm klaxon rang instantaneously. "Security to the bridge!"
"Captain," Data said evenly after checking a display on his first officer's chair. "Commander Riker reports that all able security crewmen are engaged with the Borg on lower decks."
Picard turned to his second officer. "Are you saying we are defenseless?"
"Not quite, sir. We can erect force fields around all entrance points around the bridge, place firewalls for our core systems, and lock the turbolift doors."
"How long will that give us?"
"Twelve minutes for the Borg to breach the bridge defenses, five to capture Decks Two and Three, sir."
"Bridge to Commander Riker." Picard said.
"Can you pull of a contingent of your men to aid the bridge?"
"Did something happen up there?"
"A squad of Borg just beamed in on Deck Three."
Riker paused. "I'm sending you Noble Team."
"The Borg will be upon the bridge in seventeen minutes, Commander."
"Yes, sir. I'll begin hailing them."
"Captain Picard reported the Borg beam in when you began your assault on the Borg command center." Riker said.
"How much time left do they have?" Carter asked, just apprised of the bridge's current defenses.
Riker checked a clock. "Just over two minutes."
Carter grabbed his helmet and waved Noble Team forward. "Noble, let's go." Noble followed Carter without a word onto the turbolift.
"Wait!" Riker called. "Turbolifts have been taken offline. We'll have to beam you in as close as we can on Deck Three."
"Do it." Carter said.
Riker looked to O'Brien, who nodded. He punched in the coordinates, and ran the slide up to initiate the beaming.
Noble Team beamed in ten feet from a pack of drones. There was no time to bring weapons to bear, only enough to leap across the hallway and fly fists. It took the five SPARTANS four seconds to kill thirteen drones with their bare hands. Emile cracked his knuckles.
"Been a while since a good, old-fashioned brawl."
"Double-time it, Noble!" Carter said, taking off at a sprint.
The rest of Noble followed suit immediately, a step or two behind their leader. It took them thirty seconds to reach the hatch from Deck Three to Two. Emile stepped forward and primed a plasma grenade and casually tossed it to the hatch. Six deployed his drop shield as everyone else armor locked.
The hatch was completely blown off. Carter leaped up and landed on two feet, DMR flashing as soon as it was past the ceiling of Deck three/floor of Deck two. The rest of Noble was on the floor in a matter of seconds. Now they took their weapons from their holsters.
Carter cocked his DMR. "Loud and heavy, Noble."
Nods from the team.
"Let's move!" Carter shouted, and the whole team sprinted forward, not wasting a step. The timer until the Borg broke in showed less than a minute left. The force fields had been broken, but the firewalls and turbolifts were still defended and on lockdown respectively.
There was a mass of drones at the access point between Deck Two and Deck One. They all appeared to be filtering in. Kat primed a frag grenade and chucked it at the group of drones. The drones were apparently all too focused on something; they didn't notice it until they were in pieces.
Noble Team burst through the open turbolifts of the Bridge. Data was grappling with a tac-drone, two drones were attacking a pair of officers taking cover behind the two front stations, and a commando drone was standing over the Captain's Chair.
Emile flew forward, digging the muzzle of his shotgun into the drone's back and firing. Fluids sprayed all over Data's uniform. Kat and Six quickly dispatched the two other drones. Jun immediately set his standard issue sniper rifle and shot the commando drone after a quick look through the scope. The drone's shields broke. Carter raised his DMR to fire and fired he did, but not before the commando drone grabbed Captain Picard's arm and activated a beam-out signal. The bullet pinged harmlessly against the bulkhead.
The Borg had captured Captain Picard.
Silence filled the bridge.
"Alert: All Borg threats to the bridge have been neutralized." The computer reported again. Carter heard Emile scoff again and something being smashed.
Carter opened a comm channel to Riker.
"What happened on the bridge, Carter? Is the captain safe?"
Riker paused. "What do you mean, 'no'?"
"The Borg kidnapped the captain."
Riker paused. And paused. And paused. "I'm on my way up. Stanley, you're in command here."
Silence hung heavily in the bridge again while Noble Team awaited Commander Riker. He joined the bridge after ten minutes since the comm call.
He surveyed the bridge. "So what happened?"
"We were taking control of the bridge, about to kill the last drone, when it activated an emergency beam out and took Captain Picard with it."
Riker stood there, speechless. "What's the status on the Borg ship?"
Worf reported from his tactical console. "Damaged, but moving. At a speed of warp 9.1."
"Out of ten?" Carter asked. "That's damaged speed?"
"Plot a course to intercept. Call Commander Shelby to the bridge. Have all the UNSC troops, including the six SPARTANS, to await further orders in hangar bay two once their current assignments have been completed." Riker looked around the room. "As first officer and Captain Picard incapacitated, or unable to fulfill his duty as captain of this starship, or whatever you want to call it, I am taking command of the Enterprise. Computer, acknowledge."
"Transfer of rank and command acknowledged. Captain Riker is now the commanding officer of the Enterprise."
Riker strode over to and took a seat in the captain's chair.
"Hail the Autumn and the Clad." Riker said.
"Hailing. Onscreen, Captain." Worf said.
"Commander." Captain Keyes said. "Where is Captain Picard?"
"Captain Picard has been taken hostage by the Borg. I am filling his position for the time being."
Captain Keyes's eyes widened and Commander Keyes brought her hand to her mouth.
"Do we know if he's alive?" Commander Keyes asked.
"He was last seen as alive, yes." Riker said. "We are plotting an intercept course to the Borg ship that attacked us as we speak. Would you like your troops back?"
"Keep the SPARTANS." Captain Keyes said. "We'll take the marines. You'll need the SPARTANS for the rescue operation."
Commander Keyes nodded. "I agree. We'll return to transfer the Marines back on and head to Earth."
Riker nodded. "We could use the extra firepower."
The Keyes-es nodded and the communication ended.
"Mr. Data," Riker said. "How long would it take for the other two ships to reach us?"
"On an intercept course, nine minutes."
Riker turned to Noble Team. "You are relieved of orders, Noble. Head to hangar bay two."
"Yes sir." Carter said. He turned and walked out of the bridge, teeth grinding.
End Ch. 14
Well, now that my inspiration has been renewed, hopefully I'll update more often. I'll make it more of a point when I have nothing to do on my computer. Until next time, hopefully sooner rather than later!