Chapter 19 Encounters and Skirmishes

The lift stopped and the four-man team stepped off. As they did, the control panel behind them burst into sparks. They turned, thinking they were under attack but there was only the sparking console.

"Well we won't be going back this way." said Csatlos.

"Doesn't matter. As soon as we're done, we are beaming out of here." said Munro

The team moved down a corridor with weapons at the ready. They passed a sign that appeared to have alien script written on it. But the translators couldn't make sense of it. Csatlos took point and went around the corner. He stopped and looked at something on the wall. It looked like a red...eye.

"What's this?" he asked

Munro quickly caught up. "Don't touch anything. It might be part of the auto-defense system Cortana mentioned."

Csatlos backed off some and was getting ready to continue down the corridor, when the 'eye' began to quiver. The 'eye' turned out to be an automated drone of some kind. It took one look at Csatlos and the rest of the team then moved down the corridor. The team followed it suspiciously. The smaller drone then attached to the top of a larger robot. It had four legs and what looked like tools of some kind underneath, including something that looked like a weapon...

The robot quivered then stood on its four legs and began to approach the team. It opened fire with a single powerful laser bolt. The Chief stepped in front of Munro and took the bolt, which drained a quarter of his shield power. The team immediately returned fire with no less than ten separate phaser bolts slamming into the armor of the robot. It ceased fire, then sagged and fell to the ground. Then exploded with the approximate force of a grenade.

Before the team could catch their breath however two more robots came around the corner. They were immediately met with phaser fire and destroyed quickly. Then Cmdr Tuvok came over the comm. "What's happening down there? I read a power surge a moment ago." he asked

"This ship isn't quite as dead as we thought sir. Looks like Cortana was right, there is an internal defense system powered by independant AIs." said the Chief

"We'll just have to be careful." said Munro

"Really careful. Look at your armor Chief." said Chang.

On the Chief's armor that had withstood countless projectile and energy weapon attacks was a darkened spot on the chest piece. It was only then that the Chief had noticed that his suit had injected his chest with biofoam to heal the probably second-degree burns on his chest. "I guess I will be careful." he said

"It looks like that laser can't fire very fast but when it does it hits hard. We should be able to avoid most of their shots if we pay attention." said Csatlos.

The Chief nodded to Munro who approached a hatch. It opened to reveal a lift that went down at an angle. The team stepped onto the lift and Munro hit the control panel. The lift went down what appeared to be a single level. The doors in front of them opened to reveal a maintenance area of some-kind. However on the wall was a turret. It turned as soon as the doors opened and opened fire on the team. They quickly sought cover and returned fire. A couple of phaser shots destroyed the turret. The team moved out onto a wide walkway That was more grating than deck plating. There were two of the robots ahead. One was directly ahead past a cross-corridor. Another was closer and to the right. Munro snipped the far robot while his comrades took down the closer one with a few well-placed phaser shots. The team moved up and took down another robot just around the corner of the cross-corridor to the left. They also took out a turret that was mounted to the wall below them. Munro looked down again. There was a second level of grating. The way to the right was blocked by an upraised section of the floor. Munro could see a control panel on the lower level. He lead the team down the corridor and to the left. They destroyed a turret and Munro stepped onto a small one-man lift. He motioned for them to hold their position.

The lift lowered to the next level and Munro moved back the way he came. There were gaps in the grating but nothing he couldn't jump over. He turned to the left and hit the panel. The section of grating above him slammed into place allowing the team to progress. Went back the way he came and rejoined the team. Together they moved to the door and discovered it was another lift. The lift went back up a level but there were three robots waiting for them which opened fire immediately. The team quickly took cover behind the walls and returned fire. Moments later the last robot self-destructed. The team moved across the room and found another lift.

The lift stopped and opened its doors, revealing a single robot that went down quick. The team moved up the corridor and found two more robots and destroyed them as well. Then to the left, a door opened. The team entered and found four of the robots, one in each corner. The team concentrated and hit each robot as hard and as fast as possible. While the team did take some hits, their armor took the brunt of the attack and saved all their lives.

"Where are we?" asked Csatlos.

"I don't know." said Chang.

"That looks like a pump or something." said Munro who took out his tricorder and scanned it.

"I stand corrected. It's the mainframe for the internal defences." he said

"If we destroy this do you think the robots will deactivate?" asked Chang

"If it doesn't, it'll probably impede their ability to coordinate with each other." said the Chief

Munro nodded to Chang who planted a spacial charge on the mainframe. The team retreated outside the room and detonated the charge. "That should do it." said Chang. "If we run into any more of them they should be a little less of a threat."

Munro nodded and the team moved forward through another door directly ahead. Beyond it was a single robot. The robot turned toward them and seemed to analyze them. They observed it for a moment then destroyed it. "It definitely did something to them. Their reaction time must go up when the mainframe is destroyed. They might revert back to normal programming for a maintenance bot." said Chang.

Munro nodded and hit a button at the far end of the corridor. The door opened to reveal a much larger area with a large plasma conduit running vertically through the room. As they moved into the room they heard a loud creak and then the sound of a lift coming up. On the lift was a robot.

But not the small robots they had previously encountered.

This one was easily three times as tall as a human, even the Chief was dwarfed by it. There were two massive claws connected to arms which were in turn connected to a large body. It was obviously a heavy combat model.

It took the team a good two minutes of phaser fire to put the thing down. All the while they were running, jumping and dodging the robots massive claws. Once it went down, it exploded just like the others.

"What was that thing?" asked Csatlos.

"Must have been some kind of heavy combat drone." replied Chang

The Chief walked up to another door but it wouldn't open.

"Looks like the only way to move on is down this lift to where the robot came from." said Chang

Munro sighed another elevator...

The elevator took them to what appeared to be a cargo bay of some kind. They were full of the marked explosive crates Cortana mentioned. Among the cargo containers were two small robots which were destroyed. But there was another type of robot in the area as well. It flew around firing rockets and lasers at the team. But a few accurate shots was all it took to put it down.

Just before the door on the left side of the cargo bay opened, Munro picked something up. He looked it over and held it for the other members of the team to see.

"Looks like some kind of welding tool, I'll bet it makes a decent weapon too." Munro said

On a hunch he pointed the tool at an empty space on the wall. He pulled the trigger and the tool jerked in his arms. A solid beam of antiprotons poured out impacting the wall and slicing into it. The team moved down the large hall and found another door to the right. Munro quickly put down a pair of robots with a pair of four-second bursts from his new weapon. "I like this thing..." he said

The large door opened and another cargo bay was beyond. However this one had two of the large combat robots which took a full fifteen seconds each to put down. The team took out a smaller robot and started in on the three turrets in the room. Munro spotted a panel and punched it. A vehicle with a crane moved forward and crashed into a pillar which collapsed. The turrets were quickly eliminated and the team could move on.

They moved up the ramp Munro had created and to the right. They encountered two more small robots and quickly disposed of them. The team then stepped onto another catwalk with a single robot approaching them as well as a pair of the flying support drones. All three bots were quickly taken out. They followed the catwalk to another door that opened to reveal a pair of robots waiting for them. Munro quickly put them down before the team could be hurt. They moved forward to another lift at the end of the room. Tuvok, who had been monitoring their progress came over the comm.

"Well done Mr. Munro, you are approaching the barrel. The tram should be nearby. Take it down to the plasma focusing chamber, you must hurry." he said

The lift moved up a short distance and directly ahead of the team was a narrow bridge that spanned the barrel. The team quickly moved across and boarded the maintenance tram. The tram separated from the deck and shot down the barrel...