The Best of Both Worlds

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The Best of Both Worlds

Postby Tiberius » Thu May 24, 2012 7:22 am

Well, I've done a novelisation of this episode, mostly so I could work on my writing style without needing to worry about plot or anything else. So here it is! I hope you enjoy my take on this episode!

Prologue

It had been the same for the last few nights.

Always dark and hot, a vague sense of something chasing him as he ran down narrow corridors. Cold fingers just behind him, brushing against his uniform tunic, grasping, trying to pull him back into the darkness. And the voices… Whispering, chattering, but always just beyond his hearing. And then he’d stumble and fall and turn to face his pursuer, but always at that point he’d wake up, his sheets drenched in his own sweat, and his enemy remained unseen.

This night was no different. When Picard woke, he lay in his bed for a moment, composing himself, ignoring the discomfort of the sweat-soaked sheets. Over the years, he’d become quite skilled at pushing his emotions away, into the deep recesses of his mind. For the benefit of his crew, of course. Never let them see that you are anything but completely confident. Always act like you know exactly which path to take. If they saw that you were unsure, they’d lose faith, lose confidence, and in space, that could be fatal.

Picard sighed, then pushed the sheets away. He swung his legs off the bed and pushed himself to his feet before heading towards the bathroom. He shrugged his pyjamas off as he entered, leaving them on the floor, then he activated the sonic shower, standing naked under the beam. He leaned heavily against the wall. Perhaps he should speak to Deanna. He checked the chronometer on the wall. Oh four hundred. He sighed again. Perhaps she’d have time for a quick chat about this before he went on duty.

“Bridge to Captain Picard.”

Worf’s deep voice pulled him back to reality. If he was being called from the bridge, he thought wryly, duty wasn’t going to wait for him. The only bad thing about being a starship captain was that he was never off duty.

Picard turned off the shower. “What is it, Mister Worf?”

“We are receiving a transmission,” Worf stated. “It is unintelligible, but seems to originate in the Jouret system.”

“Could it be from our colony?”

“Unknown,” said Worf. “However, the transmission is not coming from any of the planets.”

“Acknowledged,” said Picard. “Have the conn set a course to intercept at warp eight and try to unscramble the transmission. I’m on my way.”

Leaving the bathroom, Picard replicated a fresh uniform, dressed, and walked out. Just as the door hissed open, he pulled his shoulders back and lifted his chin. To project confidence.

***

Picard stepped out onto the bridge before the turbolift doors had opened completely. “Report.”

At Ops, Data turned to face him. “I have been analysing the transmission,” he said. “While I have not yet been able to determine the content, I have determined that it is from a Federation source. The computer is currently running the transmission through a fractal decryption pattern, which should be complete in a few hours.”

“Mister Worf?”

“I have been attempting to contact the colony since we received the transmission. I have had no luck. Ivor Prime reports that a data link with Jouret IV was broken approximately half an hour ago, and they haven’t been able to re-establish it. I’ve kept long range sensors concentrated on the Jouret system, but they have not detected anything unusual.”

Picard turned to the conn. “Ensign Rager, how long before we arrive at Jouret IV?”

“Ninteen hours, seventeen minutes, sir,” she said.

“Increase speed to warp nine.”

“Aye, sir.”

Even with the Enterprise racing towards the Jouret system at warp nine, it would take them almost fifteen hours to reach it. Time seemed to pass slowly. This was the one thing that Picard hated. The waiting. Sitting with nothing to do, but fully aware of some looming emergency, the time seemed to drag out. And the closer the time for action came, the longer it seemed to drag out. It was enough to drive one mad. After two hours, Picard was contemplating going to his ready room, to rest, maybe try to get some sleep. He’d need to be alert when they reached Jouret IV. True, it could be something as simple as a damaged reactor that cut off power to the colony’s communications system, and that last garbled message had been a call for repairs, but in Picard’s experience, things were rarely so easy to deal with. There was an old expression: hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. And while he was hoping that the Enterprise would reach orbit and be greeted by a colony that needed a new part for their reactor, he was preparing for anything, from a medical emergency to taking the Enterprise into battle with a heavily armed fleet of Romulan warbirds.

Data’s console beeped softly, breaking the boredom that had stifled the bridge. “The computer has finished, sir,” said Data. “I believe that the message may be intelligible.”

“Play it, Mister Data.”

A burst of static came over the speakers, then, barely audible through the white noise, a voice. “…is Commander Hawth … eneral distress … acked by alien vess … to defend! Please assist, repeat …”

The transmission ended abruptly.

“Records indicate that a Commander Hawthorn is in command of the outpost,” said Data.

Picard ignored him. “Ensign Rager,” he said, “increase speed to maximum.”

***

Captain’s log, Stardate 43994.1. The Enterprisehas arrived at Jouret IV in response to a distress signal from one of the Federation’s outermost colonies.

The Enterprise had been conducting long range scans of the system for fully five hours before they entered it, and as they grew closer, sensors picked up an emergency log buoy. The distress signal was coming from it. The Enterprise headed straight for the fourth planet, but sensor scans revealed nothing. In this, Picard was not surprised. This close to the Romulan neutral zone, secrecy was of paramount importance, and the fourth planet had been chosen because its atmosphere produced a great deal of interference, rendering all but the most basic sensor scans useless.

And so, with no way to ascertain what had happened from orbit and the colony remaining completely silent, Picard ordered an away team.

William Riker was the last of the team to enter the transporter room. Picard had given him his orders on the bridge before he left. Nothing fancy, just beam down, find out what happened and beam back. No more than ten minutes. And if they couldn’t find out, then Picard would order another away team, heavily armed. There would be no risks taken today. So, when Riker came in, the rest of the team – Geordi, Data and Worf – were already standing at the foot of the transporter platform.

“Anything from the surface?” Riker asked. It was a long shot, yes, but he had been holding out hope that somehow the Enterprise had managed to establish contact, or someone on the planet had been able to repair whatever damage they’d experienced.

Worf’s expression told him otherwise. “No sir. There have been no communications from the colony for over twelve hours.”

“Sensors picking up any signs of life?”

Worf shook his head. “None.”

Riker turned to O’Brien, a questioning look.

“The surface environment is safe for transport, Commander,” O’Brien told him.

Riker nodded, and the away team stepped up onto the transporter pad. “Energize,” he said.

***

The away team materialised on what was supposed to be a grassy field, the town square in the middle of the colony. But the sky was dark, with a thick cloud of dust hanging on it, and the ground itself was covered with dirt, soil and rocks, some larger than the prefabricated houses that the colonists had lived in. Riker coughed and kicked the ground with his foot. The layer of dust was fairly thin, and where he had kicked it away, he could see grass, still green, just starting to lose its colour and turn brown. He guessed that however the ground had gotten this coating of dust, it had happened at the same time that contact with the colony was lost.

Riker looked around. Wherever he was, it wasn’t the colony he had been expecting. Standing in the town square, he should have been seeing the village off to the east, and the science labs, colony operations and the fusion reactor to the west. But there was nothing. He tapped his combadge. “Mister O’Brien, verify these are accurate coordinates for the New Providence colony.”

There was a slight pause as O’Brien double checked. “Coordinates verified, sir,” he said. “You’re at the center of town.”

Riker glanced at the rest of the away team. Geordi was looking around, and even though there was concern on his face, Riker knew that the blind engineer was using his visor to try to find some indication as to what happened. Worf was standing in a ready stance, prepared for action, his hand hovering within reach of the phaser on his hip. And Data had a tricorder in his hand, performing scans.

Riker nodded his head, an unmistakable follow me gesture, and he lead the way through the rubble and boulders to the west. It was awkward going across the littering of small stones. As they stepped around a larger than average boulder, they stopped short. Stretching away from them into the distance was a huge great chasm, a great rip in the surface of the planet. As though the crust itself has been scooped out and carried away.

And, as bizarre as this was, Riker had seen it before. Eight thousand light years away, having been flung far from Federation space, the Enterprise had encountered this exact same phenomenon. Riker’s blood ran cold. If what had happened in system J-25 had happened here as well, then it could mean only one thing.

The Borg had reached Federation space.
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Re: The Best of Both Worlds

Postby Coalition » Thu May 24, 2012 11:39 am

Looks like a good start, though the Enterprise crew should have at least launched a probe, used a telescope, or something before sending down an Away Team. Then again, that is the usual for Star trek, and it doesn't take away from your story.

Well done, I'll be watching for updates.
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Re: The Best of Both Worlds

Postby RK_Striker_JK_5 » Thu May 24, 2012 8:54 pm

Not bad, not bad at all. I like Picard in the beginning, there.
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Re: The Best of Both Worlds

Postby Captain Seafort » Thu May 24, 2012 9:01 pm

Great start, and I'm looking forward to the continuation.

This is, however, more suited to here than TNG.
Only two things are infinite - the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the universe: Albert Einstein.

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Re: The Best of Both Worlds

Postby Tiberius » Fri May 25, 2012 6:06 am

Thanks for the feedback!

Chapter One

Captain's log, Stardate 43997.6. Admiral Hanson and Lieutenant Commander Shelby of Starfleet Tactical have arrived to review the disappearance of New Providence colony. No sign remains of the nine hundred inhabitants.

After the away team had returned to the Enterprise, Picard had sent a priority one message to Starfleet Command, informing them of his fears. Starfleet had agreed, and promised to send an expert, one Lieutenant Commander Elizabeth Shelby, who’d been heading the team charged with developing a weapon that would be effective against the Borg. Joining her was Admiral Hanson, from Fleet Operations.

As soon as they had beamed aboard, Riker had escorted the pair to Picard’s ready room. Riker found Hanson to be a pleasant enough man, solidly built, halfway through his fifties and the kind who’d be willing to give those he commanded some leeway as long as they did their jobs well. This was a man he’d be happy to work with, someone who saw situations not as some specifically defined set of events with appropriate procedures to follow, but as fluid and dynamic events that needed flexibility. Shelby, on the other hand, was as by-the-book as they came, despite her youth. Whereas Hanson had greeted him informally, with a smile and a warm handshake, Shelby’s greeting had been crisp and military, and Riker had gotten the distinct impression that she’d even gone as far to memorize his service record.

Once they were in the ready room, Riker introduced Hanson and Shelby to Picard. He was about to turn to leave, but he saw something in Picard’s eye. Stay for a moment. Riker stood a little back from the desk, near the wall next to the door.

“Your report doesn’t bode well, Jean-Luc,” Hanson said. “Starfleet isn’t yet willing to discount the possibility that the disappearance of the New Providence colony is the work of Romulans, but all the data we have fits with what we know of the Borg perfectly. And if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck…”

Picard sighed, leaned back in his chair. “Is Starfleet prepared for a Borg incursion?” Since the Enterprise had made the report on J-25, Starfleet had been working on developing a defense against the Borg. Of course, Picard had heard only rumours.

“The truth is…” Hanson sighed. “Hell,” he said, resigned. “We are not ready. We’ve known they were coming for over a year, we’ve thrown every resource we’ve got into this, but still…” His voice trailed off, leaving the thought hanging.

Riker stepped forwards. “Then you’re convinced it is the Borg?”

“That’s what I’m here to find out,” said Shelby. Her tone was direct, straight to the point. “The initial descriptions of these surface descriptions are almost identical to your reports from system J-25.”

Picard nodded. “Commander Riker wrote those reports. He agrees with you.”

Perhaps noting how Picard and Riker reacted to Shelby’s quick jump into the conversation, Hanson spoke. “Commander Shelby took over Borg Tactical Analysis six months ago. I’ve learned to give her a wide latitude when I want to get things done. That’s how I intend to operate here.”

Picard shared a brief glance with Riker. Hanson was the type to judge people based on their abilities, not their rank, and if he was willing to give Shelby his support like this, giving her the go ahead to proceed as she saw fit, then it spoke very highly of her. Still, it gave Riker a cause for concern. As young as Shelby was, this spoke of her determination to get the job done. And people like her tended to want to get the job done, no matter the cost.

With this approval from Hanson, Shelby continued. “My priority has been to develop some kind – any kind of defense strategy.”

“Obviously nothing we have now can stop them,” said Riker.

If he’d been expecting this to get a reaction from Shelby, he was mistaken. None was forthcoming. Shelby ignored the criticism and simply stated with a matter-of-fact tone, “We’ve been designing new weapons, but they’re still on the drawing board.”

“We expected much more lead time,” said Hanson. Riker glanced up at Picard, somewhat surprised. Hanson was making excuses for Shelby, explaining why her team hadn’t produced anything, even though Shelby herself didn’t feel such excuses were required. Picard, for his part, ignored Riker. Hanson continued. “Your encounter with the Borg was over seven thousand light years away.”

Picard nodded. “If this is the Borg, it would indicate that they have a source of power far superior to our own.”

“I’d like to see the colony site as soon as possible, captain,” said Shelby. Now that the pleasantries were over with, Shelby was eager to get straight to work.

Inwardly, Riker groaned. Shelby was indeed the sort of officer who thrived on work. It worried him; with Hanson’s approval for her to lead the work on developing a way to beat the Borg, she could very easily drive the crew too hard. With her lack of social skills, she could easily push the crew beyond their limits. He spoke up quickly, putting the brakes on her eagerness before she took off. “It’ll be dark there in thirty minutes. We’ve scheduled an away team for dawn.”

Picard looked up at him. “Why don’t you show the commander to her quarters?” he suggested. The unspoken meaning was clear. I want to talk to Hanson alone.

Shelby stood, not seeing this silent communication but knowing that something had happened. Riker gestured towards the door, which obediently opened. Shelby walked past him out onto the bridge. Riker didn’t follow her, instead turning back into the ready room. “It’s our poker night, Admiral,” he said. “There’s always an open seat for you.”

Hanson smiled regretfully. “Next time, Commander,” he said. “Your captain and I have a lot to cover.” He turned back to Picard, but then half rotated his chair back as a thought occurred to him. “But rumour has it Commander Shelby’s played a hand or two…”

Riker smiled. So that was it, he thought. Hanson wants to see how I fare with Shelby. He turned to see Shelby’s reaction to Hanson’s suggestion. She had a wide grin on her face, eager to give him a sound thrashing. The line has been drawn, and they’re both just daring me to cross it. Riker decided to give her the chance. He’d enjoy wiping the smile off her face.

As the two left, Hanson turned back to Picard. There was definite humour in his expression. “Keep your eye on her, Jean-Luc,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. “She’s one very impressive young lady.”

Picard smiled. “You seem rather taken with her, J.P,” he observed.

Hanson grinned. “Just an old man’s fantasies,” he said with a laugh. But then the laugh was gone. Back to business. “When Shelby came into Tactical, everyone admiral and his uncle had a take on this Borg business. She cut through it, put us back on track.”

Picard stood, walking over to the replicator. He ordered a pot, then turned to Hanson. “Earl Grey?”

“Please,” said Hanson.

As Picard returned to his seat, Hanson gave him a knowing look. “She’ll make you one hell of a first officer.”

Picard passed the cup to Hanson. “I already have a hell of a first officer.”

Hanson sighed. “Don’t tell me he’s gonna pass up another commission!”

Picard looked up, surprised. “One’s available?”

Hanson nodded. “The Melbourne. It’s his if he wants it. Hasn’t he told you?”

Picard sighed. As much as he’d hate to lose Riker, he knew that his first officer was good enough to have a ship of his own. “Well, I guess I knew this day would come,” he said quietly. He lifted his eyes, met Hanson’s. “He’ll make a fine captain, J.P.”

Hanson leaned back in his chair. “You may want to tell him that.” He saw the confused look on Picard’s face and clarified. “We’re still waiting for his decision. Hell, this is the third time we’ve pulled out the captain’s chair for Riker. He just won’t sit down. And I’ll tell you something: there are a lot of young hotshots like Shelby on their way up. Riker could suddenly look like he’s standing still next to them. He’s hurting his career by staying put. If I were you, I’d kick him in the rear end for his own good.”

He lifted his teacup and sipped. “Hmm, this is good,” he said.

***

Riker had to admit one thing about Shelby. She knew her stuff. In the turbolift, she’d started telling him what she had learned in her short time at Borg Tactical Analysis: how the Borg had different implants depending on their position, the Borg computer storage structure and even how, based on his own tricorder reading of the infant Borg they’d found in that compartment, they’d figured out how the implants tied into the Borg nervous system.

“We know the Borg have no interest in power or political conquest,” Shelby said as the two of them walked down the corridors on deck five, discussing what her team had discovered about the Borg’s motivations.

Riker nodded. “They identify what’s useful for them, then consume it,” he said, then wryly added, “or try to.”

They came to the quarters that had been assigned to her for her stay on the Enterprise. Riker thumbed the control panel to open the door. Shelby stood, so engrossed in her thoughts that she almost didn’t seem to realise that the door was open.

“But here’s the question,” she said. “After they take what they want, what happens to the rest? There has to be some evidence … residue… Something that tells us they’ve been there.” She stepped inside. “I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for, but we’ve tested the sections of the Enterprise’s hull that were damaged by the Borg. There were some unusual magnetic resonance traces.”

“A Borg footprint?”

Shelby nodded. “That’s my theory. I’ll see if it holds up tomorrow.” And without missing a beat, she went from discussing the Borg to discussing the away team. “I’ve reviewed your personnel. I’ll be assigning Mister La Forge and Mister Data to accompany me on the away team.”

Riker felt a flash of emotion, almost anger, but long years of practice kept it hidden. He wasn’t prepared to let her come onto the Enterprise and then start making crew assignments. Her seeming disregard for the chain of command on the ship almost made him want to enforce his authority more. Still, he couldn’t very well deny her. Data and Geordi were the best choices for the away team, and he’d have chosen them himself. “I’ve already assigned them to the away team,” he lied. “And I’ll be with you as well.” It was bad enough that she thought that she could come aboard and start making crew assignments without permission, but there was no way he’d let her lead the away team. Not that she was unqualified, far from it, but leading away teams was the first officer’s responsibility, and he didn’t want her coming onto his ship and acting like she had a position that she didn’t.

Riker was pleased to see that for a split second, she looked a little awkward, but then the moment was past and she smiled. “Good,” she said. “I look forward to any assistance you can offer.”

Riker felt his blood starting to heat even more.

Shelby, if she saw it, paid it no attention. She looked around at her quarters, taking in the comfort of them.

“Tell me, Commander,” she said, and despite the casualness of her tone, Riker could tell she was choosing her words carefully. “Is serving aboard the Enterprise as extraordinary an experience as I’ve heard?”

“Every bit,” Riker said pointedly.

Shelby smiled. “Good,” she said, with the tone of someone sharing a secret. She leaned in towards him, just a bit. “Because I intend to convince Captain Picard that I’m the right choice for the job.”

Riker’s heart began beating faster at her audacity. “Job?” he asked, feigning ignorance. “Which job?”

Shelby gave him a blank look. “Yours, of course,” she said.

Riker felt a flash of anger and disbelief.

Shelby caught this instantly. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I heard you were leaving.”

Riker didn’t fall for it. She was good, he’d grant her that, and someone else might mistake her embarrassment for the genuine thing, but Riker didn’t, and he wouldn’t let her provoke him into biting.

“If I were,” he said, sickly sweetly, “I’m sure you’d be the first to know.” He turned for the door, then turned back. “Poker’s at seventeen hundred hours, my quarters. Deck eight.”

He turned and left.

***

If Riker had thought that knocking Shelby down a rung would be easy, he was quite mistaken. He’d been able to bluff her a few times when they’d first started, but lately it had been getting harder, and her pile of chips was growing rapidly. Soon she’d have more than him.

Deanna had been giving him looks all night; she’d been able to sense his hostility towards Shelby as well as his increasing irritation at her better than expected poker skills.

Riker had done his best to ignore them. He’d been playing better against Geordi and Data. And Wesley was joining them, the first time he had done so. Apparently Data had been teaching him how to play, and he’d jumped at the opportunity to put his newfound skills into practice. Still, while he’d no doubt be very good at the actual skills involved, the odds of each hand and how likely it was that there was a stronger hand somewhere around the table, he’d found himself totally inadequate to the task of judging other people, and it had been almost shamefully easy to bluff him. Still Riker was glad to have him here. The skills young Mister Crusher would develop would help him a great deal in his career as a Starfleet officer.

“Got another king in the hole, eh, Data?” asked Wesley.

Deanna had dealt the android the king of spades. It sat beside the two of hearts and the three of diamonds that he already had. Data had raised Geordi’s call.

Data gave Wesley a deadpan look. “I am afraid I cannot answer that, Wesley,” he said. “And as you are a newcomer to the game, may I say, it is inappropriate for you to ask.”

Wesley blinked and looked away, his cheeks turning decidedly red.

Data turned to Deanna. “I will buy another card Counsellor.” He pushed a small pile of chips across the table.

Deanna dealt a card to him. Jack of clubs. “No help there,” she said, shaking her head.

She slipped a card to Geordi. A four. Geordi tossed his cards in. “Fold,” he said. “Again.” It hadn’t been his night.

Deanna dealt to Wesley, a third jack. “Three jacks looking back for the handsome young ensign.”

Wesley looked up, blushing.

“Beginner’s luck,” muttered Geordi. Data folded.

Deanna passed a card to Shelby. It wasn’t good. “Pair of deuces stands.”

Then, Riker. He got the nine of hearts. It sat very happily next to his seven, eight and ten of hearts. His face was completely blank.

Deanna appraised this. “Possible flush, possible straight flush.” She turned to Wesley. “The bet is yours, Mister Crusher.”

Wesley regarded Riker for a moment. Damn that poker face! Best one on the ship, apart from Data. He sighed. “I’m in for ten.” He tossed a pair of chips in.

Shelby looked at Wesley for a moment, just a moment, before tossing in a pair of chips as well.

“Time for the long pants,” Riker said, looking directly at Wesley. “I’ll see your ten. And one hundred more.”

“He’s got the straight flush, folks,” muttered Geordi.

“Not necessarily,” remarked Data. He turned to Wesley and leaned forward. “Commander Riker may be bluffing, Wesley.”

Wesley studied that damn poker face of Riker’s, but broke. “I don’t think so,” he said. “I fold.”

Geordi groaned. “With three jacks? Are you kidding?” He shook his head. “Wesley, you may get straight A’s in school, but there’s a lot you need to learn about poker.”

Shelby looked long and hard at Riker. Riker looked long and hard back. After a long moment, Shelby smiled. It was a cunning smile. “I’ve only got two pair, Commander,” she said, “but I’ve got to see your hole card. I’ll call.” She put her chips in.

Riker blinked, looked down at his cards and turned over his hole card. The two of spades busted his flush. Wesley groaned and hung his head.

“You got him!” Geordi said.

Shelby grinned at Riker as she collected her winnings. Her stack was now substantially larger than his.

***

Riker stepped with Geordi into the transporter room, expecting to see Shelby and Data already waiting for them. But apart from O’Brien standing at the controls, the room was empty.

“Mister Data and out guest appear to be tardy,” Riker observed.

“Sir,” said O’Brien, “Commander Shelby and Data beamed down to the planet surface an hour ago.”

“On whose authority?” Riker demanded. He could feel his anger growing. Dammit, didn’t Shelby care for the chain of command at all?

“On hers, sir,” said O’Brien, taking a half step back subconsciously.

Riker shot Geordi a look as they stepped onto the transporter pad. This time she’s gonna get it.

Riker nodded to O’Brien. For a moment they were surrounded by the shimmering blue tingle of the transporter before it died away, leaving them on the planet. They could see Shelby and Data a few meters away, studying the exposed rock strata. At the sound of the transporter, Shelby looked up. When she saw Riker, she folded her tricorder into its pouch and walked over.

“Morning,” she called. “Early bird gets the worm, eh? We found some interesting results.”

“Commander Shelby,” said Riker, fuming through his gritted teeth, but then he noticed that Geordi and Data were watching. He didn’t want an audience for this. “Walk with me, Commander.”

As Riker and Shelby walked away, Data turned to Geordi. “I believe Commander Shelby erred,” he said. “There are no avifauna or crawling vermicular life forms on Jouret IV.”

Geordi smiled and shook his head. “That’s, uh, not what she meant, Data,” he said. He looked around at the desolate landscape surrounding them. “But you’re right. She erred.”

***

As soon as they were out of earshot, Shelby spoke. “I’m sorry,” she said, “but I woke up early and saw that a weather system was moving in. It could have affected the soil readings…”

Riker interrupted her. “So without any regard to the risk of coming down here alone…”

Shelby spoke up, irritated. She’d known Riker was upset, but what she had discovered was more important than that. She’d tried to get to the point, but Riker just didn’t seem interested in what she had to say, only in chewing her out. So she snapped back. “Really, Commander, if we ran into the Borg down here, two extra bodies wouldn’t’ve made a hell of a difference now, would they? We had three hours before the storm front hit. Less than two hours now. Data was available. I took him. We came. I don’t see your problem.”

“My problem, Commander, is I expect to be notified before there’s a change in my orders.”

“Noted for future reference,” Shelby said tightly. It just wasn’t worth continuing to argue with him. They had bigger problems. “Do you wish to hear my report, sir?”

Riker nodded. “Go ahead.”

Shelby looked him square in the eye, and it seemed that Riker saw her expression, the fear behind her eyes. She told him. “The soil contains the same magnetic resonance traces. That’s our footprint. There’s no doubt anymore. It is the Borg.”
Go and read my fan fic "The Hansen Diaries"! And leave comments!
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Re: The Best of Both Worlds

Postby RK_Striker_JK_5 » Fri May 25, 2012 4:39 pm

Great Riker/Shelby interplay, there. I know a lot of it's from the episode, but you did a great job going into Riker's thoughts and emotions.
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Re: The Best of Both Worlds

Postby Tiberius » Sat May 26, 2012 3:15 am

Thanks!

Chapter Two

Captain’s log, Stardate 43993.5. With confirmation of the Borg’s presence in Federation space, Admiral Hanson has returned to Starbase 324 to discuss strategy with Starfleet Command. Lieutenant Commander Shelby remains on board to continue tactical preparations.

“…I’ve ordered a standing yellow alert, all Federation and allied outposts have been warned and Ops will continue to monitor long range sensors. I’ve assigned Data, La Forge and Mister Crusher to work with Commander Shelby.”

Picard turned away from the window of his ready room to face Riker. “Very good, you’ve covered all the bases...” He moved around to the other side of the desk, the same side as Riker. Less formal, more intimate and friendly. “What’s your impression of Shelby?”

“She knows her stuff,” Riker said, but Picard noted the slight hesitation in his voice.

“She has your full confidence…?”

“Well, I think she needs… supervision,” clarified Riker. “She takes the initiative a little too easily. Sometimes with risks.”

Picard nodded and let a small smile creep onto his face. He made a clucking sound. “Sounds like a young lieutenant commander I recruited as a first officer,” he said. He sipped his tea.

Riker smiled back. “Perhaps.”

Picard smiled, wider now. It was a warm smile. “You’re the best first officer I’ve ever served with Will.”

Riker smiled again and nodded appreciatively.

“But what the hell are you still doing here?”

“Sir?”

“You’ve been offered the Melbourne.”

Riker nodded. “I’ve decided not to pursue the commission at this time.”

Picard sighed. “She’s a fine ship, Will.”

“Well, yes, but she’s not the Enterprise,” replied Riker. “With all due respect, you need me, particularly now.”

“Starfleet needs good captains, particularly now,” said Picard. “I can’t keep you to myself forever.” He was quiet for a moment, then raised his eyes, met Riker’s. “I want you to reconsider your decision.” This was firmer.

For a moment, Riker could only blink. “Are you asking me to leave, captain?”

Picard shook his head, and when he spoke, the firmness was gone from his voice, replaced by care and affection. “I’m asking you to look at your career objectively and make the best decision. I know it’s hard to walk away. But you’re ready to work without a net. You’re ready to take command. And, as hard as it is to accept, if you choose to leave…” Picard smiled. “The Enterprise will go on just fine without you.”

And so Riker left, stepping into the turbolift. The truth was that he didn’t want to leave, but Picard did have a point. His career. Was he ready for his own command? He didn’t know. It was like Deanna had once told him: sometimes, when it came to choosing the best for ourselves, we just couldn’t see it because we’re too close. We needed someone else, someone to talk to, bounce ideas off. A sounding board.

Deanna… He smiled. “Riker to Deanna.”

Deanna’s voice came over the turbolift’s com. “Yes, what is it Will?”

“Have you got a moment?”

“Of course, what can I do?”

“I’d just like a chat,” he said.

“No worries,” Deanna said, and he could hear the smile in her voice. “I’m in Ten Forward.”

Riker redirected the turbolift. When he entered the bar, he found Deanna and headed over to her table.

“You look like you’ve got a lot on your mind,” she said.

“I do.”

“You should try one of these,” Deanna said, indicating her chocolate sundae. “Chocolate always helps me think.”

Riker laughed. “I’m not sure that would work for me,” he said.

“Well, tell me what’s on your mind.”

And Riker did. He told her how he’d decided that he wouldn’t take the Melbourne, and he’d been comfortable with that decision, but now, after what Picard had said, he’d looked at his choice in terms of his career, not the ship he was offered, and now he just wasn’t sure anymore. Deanna listened thoughtfully as he spoke.

“What am I still doing here, Deanna?” he asked. “I’ve pushed myself hard to get this far. I’ve sacrificed a lot.” He looked up from his drink. “I always said I wanted my own command. And yet, something’s holding me back.” He leaned back in his chair and regarded her. “Is it wrong for me to want to stay?”

“What do you think?” she asked.

Riker smiled. She’d always told him that people often knew the answer, they just wanted someone to help them realise that it was okay to accept that their own judgement was good enough. But after a moment, he sighed and shook his head. “Maybe I’m just afraid of the big chair.”

“I don’t think so.”

Riker looked at her, but wasn’t convinced. “The captain says that Shelby reminds him of the way I used to be. And he’s right. She comes in here, full of drive and ambition, impatient, taking risks… I look at her and I wonder what happened to those things in me. I liked those things about me.” He took a drink. “I’ve lost something.”

Deanna tried hard not to smile, and she wasn’t entirely successful. “You mean you’re older, more seasoned. A little more… seasoned.”

Riker looked at her and grinned. “Seasoned? That’s a horrible thing to say to a man.”

Deanna gave him a firm look, enough to tell him that she was being serious. “I don’t think you've lost a thing,” she told him. “And I think you've gained much more than you realise. You’re much more comfortable with yourself than you sued to be.”

“Maybe that’s the problem,” said Riker. “I’m too comfortable.”

“I’m not sure I know what that means,” said Deanna, but Riker knew she was well aware what it meant.

And, truth be told, he knew it too. He just wanted to give himself an excuse to leave the Enterprise, take the Melbourne. Trying to kick himself up the backside. But was he doing it because he genuinely thought it was the right thing to do, or was he just doing it because it was what others wanted for him. Dammit, it was easy enough when Riker had received the offer from Starfleet, but now that Picard was encouraging to think of his career and advance himself, why was it so much more difficult to be sure that he was doing the right thing.

“You’re happy here,” Deanna continued. “Happier than I’ve ever known you to be.” She sighed and leaned back in her chair. “It really comes down to a simple question. What do you want, Will Riker?”

The trouble was, Riker wasn’t sure he knew.

***

That evening, Riker met with Shelby and the others she was working with to see how they were progressing. They’d been working all day, and they’d made some progress. Shelby had the original sensor log the Enterprise had first made of the Cube when it had approached them. She was looking at the subspace field surrounding it when she noticed something.

“Look at this. A manipulation effect in the Borg ship’s subspace field. A definite pattern, at four point eight minute intervals during your first confrontation with them.”

There were scattered nods from the rest of the team, but they were reaching the end of their work day. They were all very tired. Wesley was trying to stifle a yawn and Schobel’s eyelids were drooping alarmingly. Only Data still seemed alert.

“Might indicate high output auxiliary generators kicking in,” La Forge said.

Shelby nodded. “One theory is that their systems are decentralised with redundant power sources located throughout the ship.”

“It is a reasonable conclusion,” said Data. “Borg technology has given each member of their society the ability to interface and function collectively. It is likely that they would have constructed their ship with the same philosophy.

“Knock out one generator and another one takes over without interruption,” said Wesley.

“What kind of damage would we have to do to shut them down?” Riker asked.

Shelby tapped a panel and called up some readouts. “Projections suggest that a Borg ship like this one could continue to operate effectively even if seventy eight percent of it was inoperable.”

“And our best shot barely scratched the surface,” finished Wesley, a grim tone.

Geordi sighed. He moved over to the wall monitor and pulled up several design schemes. He flicked through them. They were all untested, hypothetical. Based on theories, but never tested in a practical sense. “From what I’ve seen, I can’t believe any of your new weapons systems will be ready in less than eighteen months, Commander,” he said.

Shelby nodded. “We’ve been projecting twenty four,” she said.

If that’s the case, thought Riker, we shouldn’t waste our time. None of them can help us in the here-and-now. “Is there anything we can do to adapt our current defense system?”

La Forge looked at him, then back to the panel. “We’ll have to look through the specs again,” he said. He sighed. “I dunno. My mind’s turned to clay.” He rubbed his temples behind his visor.

“Mine too,” said Wesley.

Riker looked at Data. His eyes were bright, alert. He could go all night. Indeed, ever since they’d confirmed that the Borg were in Federation space, he’d spent every moment working to enhance their defenses.

Shelby was the only other person in the group who looked like she could keep going. She moved to the panel where La Forge had been, flicking through the various schematics until she came to the one she wanted. “I think we should look at modifying the plasma phaser designs…”

Riker cut her off. It was clear to anyone who looked at the group that they needed rest. But Shelby’s motivation – dare he say obsession – to keep going, to push herself until she literally collapsed would simply do more harm than good. “I think we should call it a night,” Riker ordered.

Shelby didn’t look at him, but her body posture changed subtly, as though she couldn’t believe that Riker was ordering them to stop work in the middle of a crisis. When she spoke, her voice was restrained, quiet. “Alright, anyone who’s really that tired, if you want to leave…”

There were muttered assurances from the group that they were still okay to work, they weren’t really that tired, but they were none too convincing. Wesley was yawning when he made his half-hearted protest at the idea, and Schobel had to shake her head before she could speak.

“Right,” continued Shelby. “What would happen if we take the frequency klystron from the existing unit and…”

“We’ll break here,” Riker said, firmer this time. “That’s an order. We’ll reconvene at oh-five-hundred.”

Shelby finally turned to him. “Sir, if you’ll allow me to continue with Mister Data, who does not require rest…”

You need rest, Commander,” said Riker.

Shelby stepped forwards. Her tone became harder, more insistent. “If we have a confrontation with the Borg without improving our defenses systems…”

Riker put his foot down, hard. “If we have a confrontation, I don’t want a crew fighting the Borg at the same time they’re fighting their own fatigue.” He fixed his eyes to hers. “Dismissed.”

Shelby turned and left without a word.

***

The team met again early the next morning. It started off with promise; after a good night’s sleep, La Forge had been able to suggest a few ideas that had merit, but before they could develop them more fully, Picard called the senior staff to an emergency briefing. Admiral Hanson was speaking to them, his face on the monitor in the observation lounge. The room behind him as another observation lounge; he’d left the starbase on the Indefatigable and was already en route to rendezvous with the Enterprise. The reason for this was soon explained.

“At nineteen hundred hours yesterday, the USS Lalo departed Zeta Alpha Two on a freight run to Sentinel Minor Four. At twenty two hundred hours and twelve minutes, a distress signal was received at Starbase One Five Seven. The Lalo reported contact with an alien vessel,” he leaned forwards, his expression grim, “described as cube shaped.” He sighed. “The distress signal ended abruptly, and she’s not been heard from since.”

“Mister Data, how long to get there at warp nine?” said Picard quietly. His voice was tense, tight.

“One hour, seventeen minutes, sir.”

“Make it so.”

Data stood and left.

“We’re coming with every available starship to assist, captain,” said Hanson, “but the closest help is six days away.”

Picard smiled, but it was a dry smile, without any feeling. “We’ll try to keep them occupied until you arrive.”

Hanson smiled. “I know you will,” he said. “Hanson out.” The screen blinked out.

Riker address the com. “All hands, stand to battle stations,” he ordered. And at his gesture, Worf stepped out to mobilise his security teams.

Picard turned to Shelby. “Commander Shelby, status of defense preparations?”

She told him about La Forge’s ideas from the interrupted meeting that morning. “Mister La Forge has a plan to modulate shield nutation. Hopefully, that’ll hold them off.”

“At the same time,” continued La Forge, “we’re retuning the phasers to higher EM-base emitting frequencies. We’ll try to disrupt their subspace field.”

Picard nodded. “Your assessment of our potential effectiveness?”

Geordi sighed. “Shot in the dark,” he said. “But right now, it’s the best we can do.”

Picard nodded again, grimmer this time. “Acknowledged, he said.

***

The Enterprise raced at maximum warp towards the last reported position of the Lalo. Once again, it seemed to Picard that time was stretching out, taking longer than it should. It had already been more than an hour, at least according to the computer, but it felt like five. Unable to sit any longer, Picard had been pacing the bridge.

There was a soft tone, and Picard looked to Worf.

“Sir,” he said, “reading an unidentified vessel just entering sensor range. Bearing two one zero, mark one five one.”

“Hail them, Mister Worf.”

“No response, sir.”

Picard turned to the helm. “Move to intercept.”

“Sir,” said Worf, studying his display, his eyebrows knitting together. “The vessel has already changed course to intercept us. Approaching at warp nine point three.” There was a soft beep. “Entering visual range.”

“On screen,” ordered Picard.

Every eye turned towards the viewscreen, but from this far away, the approaching vessel was nothing more than a smudge, a stain amidst the rushing stars.

Picard ordered, “Magnify.”

And then the smudge leapt closer, forming a vessel, an enormous monstrosity of conduits arranged mechanically, harsh cubical lines outlining a dark intelligence.

Picard could feel his heart pounding in his ears, but he pushed it down. His blood was pumping hard and hot. But he pushed it back, forced himself to keep a cool demeanour as he turned back to face Worf. “Mister Worf,” he said, “despatch a subspace message to Admiral Hanson. We have engaged the Borg.
Go and read my fan fic "The Hansen Diaries"! And leave comments!
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Re: The Best of Both Worlds

Postby Captain Seafort » Sat May 26, 2012 6:00 pm

More good stuff. :) I've read this sort of thing before, a fanfic novelisation of the first SW Dark Empire comic, and posted it here. You might be interested in having a read of it, to see if it gives you any ideas for BoBW. While the challenges of novelising an episode are different to those of doing so for a comic, you're doing a great job of it, and I look forward to the next chapter.
Only two things are infinite - the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the universe: Albert Einstein.

Across the Universe - Chapter 2 now up
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Re: The Best of Both Worlds

Postby Tiberius » Sat May 26, 2012 7:04 pm

Thanks for the comment, Capt. Seafort, but I've actually written the whole thing already. I'll have a look at the link though. :)
Go and read my fan fic "The Hansen Diaries"! And leave comments!
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Re: The Best of Both Worlds

Postby Tiberius » Sun May 27, 2012 10:37 am

Chapter Three

The Borg Cube didn’t drop out of warp until the last moment, re-entering normal space less than five kilometres of the Enterprise’s bow. It loomed massive and dangerous on the viewscreen.

Riker stood and approached Ops. “Data, is that the same ship we faced at J-25?”

Data quickly checked his readouts. “Uncertain, Commander,” he said. “But the dimensions are precisely the same.”

“Captain, you are being hailed,” said Worf.

Picard turned. “I am?”

Worf looked up from his console. “Yes, captain. By name.”

Picard stood. “On screen,” he ordered, moving defiantly to the front of the bridge.

The screen flicked away from the ominous Cubeship, replaced with the vessel’s interior, an infinitely deep abyss that seemed to radiate out of a blinding light.

Picard spoke. “I am Captain Jean-Luc…”

The Borg spoke over the top of him, a voice that was twisted and turned over to fold into itself, a million voices speaking as one. “Jean-Luc Picard, captain of the Starship Enterprise, registry NCC-1701-D, you will lower your shields and prepare to transport yourself aboard our vessel. If you do not cooperate, we will destroy your ship.”

Picard ignored the demand. “You have committed acts of aggression against the United Federation of Planets! If you do not withdraw immediately…”

“You will surrender yourself or we will destroy your ship,” the Borg interrupted. “Your defensive capabilities are unable to withstand…”

Picard turned, drawing a hand across his throat, and Worf closed the channel. Discussion was useless.

Riker and Shelby were on their feet, approaching him.

“What the hell do they want with you?” asked Riker.

“I thought they weren’t interested in Human life forms,” said Shelby. “Only our technology.”

Picard regarded them both. “Their priorities seem to have changed.” He looked back to Worf. “Open.” Worf nodded, and Picard turned back to the viewscreen. “We have developed new defense capabilities since our last meeting, and we are prepared to use them if you do not withdraw from Federation space.”

The comline opened, and Geordi’s voice came through. “Shields are being probed. I’m modulating nutation.”

And the Borg’s tractor beam lashed out, washing over the Enterprise’s deflectors. The starship’s shields held, pushing the beam away.

“Sir, the Borg are attempting to lock onto us with their tractor beam.”

That was Worf, and Picard nodded in acknowledgement. “Load torpedo bays, arm phasers, lock coordinates on the source of the tractor beam.”

“Status of shields?” Riker was stepping forwards towards Data.

Data responded. “Holding sir.”

“The nutation modulation has them confused,” said Shelby. She sounded encouraged.

Riker spoke, and his tone was more cautious. “They have the ability to analyse and adapt, Commander.”

And then the ship rocked, the deck dropping out from underneath them so violently that several crew members were left airborne. They crashed to the floor, crying out as their bones broke. Alarms blared loudly and warnings flashed on screens. The lights dimmed briefly as power fluctuated.

La Forge’s voice came over the comline again, tighter and tenser than before. “Shield modulation has failed! They’ve locked on!”

“Shields are being drained,” confirmed Worf. “Ninety percent… Eighty…”

“Trying to recalibrate shield nutation,” La Forge’s voice said over the com. But then the ship rocked again, even more violently. “Damn!”

“Shields have failed!” called Worf


“Fire all weapons!” ordered Picard, and the Enterprise let fly. The massive arsenal of the starship barraged the Borg Cube; phaser beams smashing into the hull and wave after wave of torpedos crashing into the Cube’s sides. But, incredibly, the Cube was able to withstand the assault, deflect it, and the tractor beam held the Enterprise in an unbreakable grip.

“Their subspace field is intact,” reported La Forge. “The new phaser frequencies had no impact!”

Riker called, “Reverse engines!”

“Full reverse!” acknowledged La Forge, but the Enterprise remained held. “We’re not moving.”

“Fire at will,” ordered Picard, but Worf needed no command. Under his touch, the Enterprise was spewing every weapon it had, assaulting the Cube with her full power.

“Still no damage to the Borg vessel,” reported Data.

And then the Borg let loose with their weapons: a blinding, razor sharp beam of light, as bright and as hard as a diamond, which sliced directly into the Enterprise’s engineering hull! With a deafening crack of thunder, the Enterprise’s hull was split wide, spilling atmosphere and tumbling crewmembers out into the void.

The computer issued warnings of the hull breach, and Worf spoke over the top of them. “They are cutting into the hull, engineering section!”

“Geordi!” called Riker. “Evacuate Engineering!”

***

Far below, Geordi had already sounded the alert at the first impact. “Computer!” he called. “Evacuation sequence!”

The computer toned in acknowledgement. “Redirecting Engineering control to bridge. Sealing doors to core chamber.” The massive isolation door between the warp core and the rest of Engineering began rumbling down. Consoles were exploding, plasma conduits rupturing. Geordi could smell the acrid stench of coolant filling the air. “Warning. Inner hull failing. Decompression danger, deck thirty six, section four. Sealing Main Engineering.”

Geordi called out, urging his crew to evacuate. “Let’s go, come on, move it, people! Let’s move it! Come on! Go! GO! GO!”

There was a flood of people as those who could still walk ran out, and many of those who couldn’t walk were being carried. The last of the crew ran out, ducking under the descending door. Geordi took a split second to glance around, to make sure there was no one left behind. The roar of the Borg ship’s cutting beam was already deafening. In only a few seconds it would slice open this chamber. La Forge could see several figures, limp at their consoles, sprawled on the floor. Some of them still moved weakly. While every fiber of his being was urging him to help them, he knew that if he didn’t leave now, he’d be sealed in. He couldn’t help these people.

Cursing, La Forge turned and ran for the door. It was already less than a meter from the floor, and he ducked, dropping to the floor and rolling underneath. His shoulder thudded into the door as it descended on top of him and he could feel a sudden rush of air blowing back past him – the core chamber had been breached! – but then he was out, and the door was rumbling into position, sealed tightly against the floor. Through the translucent panels in the door, he could see the flashes as the Borg cutting beam split power conduits. It was only by a miracle that it missed the warp core itself.

***

The situation on the bridge was little better. The aft stations had lost power after a plasma conduit blew out, killing one of the crew members stationed there and leaving two others with second degree burns. One of the emergency medical personnel sent from sickbay had sprained his ankle and broken his arm when the turbolift lurched. Phasers were losing power, and the computer processor to the aft torpedo launcher was offline.

Shelby rushed forwards, struck by a sudden idea. “Data,” she said, “fluctuate phaser resonance frequencies. Random settings, keep them changing, don’t give them time to adapt.”

Data’s hands flew over his console, faster than Shelby’s eyes could see. And finally, as the phaser frequencies changed continuously, as the colours of the beams shifted throughout the entire spectrum, the Borg reached a point where they were unable to adapt, and the tractor beam finally flickered off. The Enterprise slid away, rocking with the release.

“Tractor beam has been released!” called Worf.

And then Picard took a chance as an idea occurred to him. “Warp nine! Course one five one, mark three three zero! Engage!”

The Enterprise turned and ran.

Word adjusted the viewscreen to show the Borg Cube that was only seconds behind them. “They are in pursuit, captain.”

“Maintain course.” There was a somewhat confident tone in Picard’s voice.

The turbolift doors hissed open, and La Forge emerged onto the bridge. Picard looked back.

“Damage report, Geordi?” asked Riker.

“Hull rupture in Main Engineering,” La Forge said, breathless. “Damage is pretty heavy. We lost a lot of good people down there.”

Data confirmed. “Eleven dead, eight more unaccounted for.”

La Forge moved to the engineering station. It flickered unsteadily before brightening. “They didn’t get to the core, I can control functions from here.”

“Repair teams to Engineering,” ordered Riker. “Seal hull breach.”

“We’re approaching the Paulson Nebula,” reported Wesley, and attention turned back to the viewscreen. It flicked back to a forward view, and the screen was filled with violent swirls of orange and purple, like a tin of paint that hadn’t been properly mixed. Electrostatic discharges lit up the nebula from the inside.

“Drop to impulse,” ordered Picard. “Take us in, Ensign.”

The Enterprise plunged into the nebula. Loose rock and debris hit the unshielded hull. Wesley ducked the Enterprise around the larger fragments, but the sound of the clumps hitting the hull grew louder. Picard stepped forwards to stand next to Wesley. The young man looked up at him. “The field’s getting too dense, sir,” he said.

“Steady,” Picard ordered. He turned to Ops. “Analysis of the nebula cloud, Mister Data?”

“Eighty two percent dilithium hydroxyls,” Data said. “Magnesium, chromium…” He looked up. “It should provide an effective screen against their sensors, sir.”

“Mister La Forge, prepare to reverse engines,” Picard said. “Full stop.”

The Enterprise moved into the spiral cloud of the nebula, the gases covering the wounded starship like a cloak. The Cube slowed, coming to a halt just outside the boundary of the nebula. They couldn’t enter. If they did, the gas would blind them, leaving the Enterprise free to escape. But the Borg’s sensors couldn’t penetrate the cloud either. All they could do was wait outside to catch the Enterprise when she emerged.

Worf carefully watched the tactical sensors. There was no sign of the compression wave that would indicate the Cube entering the nebula. And as the sensor resolution fell, he detected the tell-tale polarisation of a sensor scan. “The Borg ship is continuing scans,” he said. “Attempting to locate us.”

“Good,” said Picard. “As long as they’re looking for us, they can’t hurt anyone else.”

“Shut down all active sensors,” said Riker. “Passive scanners only. Deflectors to minimum emissions.”

Wesley looked up at Picard, his expression concerned. “We’ll maintain position,” Picard said. He turned back to look at Riker and Shelby. “Until we have a better idea.”

***

For several hours now, the Enterprise had remained in the nebula. The crew were, of course, anxious and scared. They would have to face the Borg again. But remaining hidden gave them a chance to dress their wounds, mourn their dead and plan their next move. But what was that move to be? They couldn’t attack the Cube – their first confrontation had shown that they simply had no way of inflicting any serious damage. It had taken all they had simply to disable a tractor beam emitter! Picard was under no illusions. The Enterprise, as she was, could not withstand another encounter with the Cube. He’d discussed the situation with Riker, and Riker agreed that their first priority was to develop some kind of plan, a tactic that they could use in their next encounter. But the reports from Engineering weren’t promising. Only one of the ideas that they’d developed had been able to do any damage to the Cube, and even that had barely worked. Riker promised that he’d give the team six hours to come up with something, and then report to him. In the meantime, he insisted Picard get some rest. In any confrontation, they’d need Picard more than anyone else. Picard relented and retired to the ready room. Despite his need to act, to do something, he understood Riker’s point. Picard would rest, Riker would be briefed by the engineering team, and then Riker would inform Picard of their position.

And so, six hours after the Enterprise entered the Paulson nebula, Riker sat in the observation lounge as the engineering team briefed Riker on their efforts. They’d concentrated on an analysis of the Cube during the first attack. Shelby had brought up a visual record of the attack, showing the Borg’s power output plotted against the phaser frequencies used by the Enterprise.

“Time index five one four,” Shelby said. “Data started to fluctuate phaser resonance frequencies. The Borg’s beam breaks contact… Freeze picture.” The picture froze just as the tractor beam emitter on the side of the Cube exploded. “Take a closer look, Commander.” Shelby tapped the controls, replaying the same visual log, but at half speed. “Mister La Forge?”

Geordi stepped forwards, indicating the graph on the bottom of the screen. “There’s a two percent drop in power, just for an instant, but it is system wide. The phaser frequency spread was in a high, narrow band.”

“Conceivably,” remarked Data, “the ship’s power distribution nodes are vulnerable to those frequencies.”

La Forge nodded. “If we can generate a concentrated burst of power with that same frequency distribution… I’m talking a lot more than anything our phasers or photon torpedos could provide…”

“How do we do that?” Riker asked.

For a moment there was silence. “The main deflector dish,” said Wesley.

“It’s the only component of the Enterprise designed to channel that much power at controlled frequencies,” Geordi agreed.

“Unfortunately,” sighed Shelby, “there is one slight detail.” Everyone looked at her. “In the process, the blast completely destroys the Enterprise as well.”

Riker looked at Geordi, who nodded grimly. The Enterprise would have to fire the weapon from so close that the exploding Cube would tear the starship apart as well. And if they tried moving back, then the weapon’s energy would dissipate, and it wouldn’t provide the destructive force needed.

Damn.

Riker asked, “If we could get further away, increase the deflector’s range?”

Shelby thought for a moment, then nodded. “It could work,” she said. “In the meantime, we should retune all phasers – including the hand units – to the same frequency.”

Riker nodded. “Proceed,” he said. “I’ll inform the captain.”

Shelby stepped forwards. “There’s one other recommendation I’d like to make, Commander.” Riker looked at her. “Separate the saucer section. Assign a skeleton crew to create a diversion.”

Riker shook his head. “We may need the power from the saucer’s impulse engine.” He saw Geordi nod. If the deflector weapon was going to work, they’d need every scrap of energy they could get.

Shelby pressed her point. “But if we give them more than one target to worry about…”

Riker fixed her with a solid stare. “No,” he said. “It’s too great a risk.”

But Shelby refused to back down. “I’d like the captain to make that determination, sir.” Her eyes were narrowed.

Riker refused to let her anger him. “I bring all the alternatives to the captain’s attention,” he said. He looked around at all of them. “That’ll be all.”

The team filed out of the observation lounge, but Geordi hung back for a moment. Stopping beside Riker, he said, “I’ll need to install higher capacity power transfers to the deflector dish, Commander.”

“How long?”

La Forge thought for a moment. “Better part of a day.”

Riker nodded, then noticed the way Geordi was looking at him. He realised that La Forge, courtesy of his visor, could see how his body changed when Shelby confronted him, how he bristled. Riker smiled. “She does get up a full head of steam, doesn’t she?”

“Yes sir,” said La Forge. “She’s a… formidable presence to say the least, but I’m convinced she can help us here, Commander.”

“I am too, Geordi,” Riker said. He patted La Forge on the shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. I can handle Shelby.”

After La Forge left, Riker went over the damage and repair reports. He couldn’t recall any situation where the Enterprise had suffered so much damage in so short a time. However, the crew was working well. The hull breach in Engineering had been sealed, and the damage was repaired. The aft torpedo launcher was back online, and phasers were back at full capacity. He permitted himself a smile. It was a good crew.

He deactivated the padd, then stood. He was sure Picard would be pleased. Most of the damage repaired, and a plan for a weapon that could inflict a huge amount of damage to the Borg. He walked out, heading across the bridge to the door to the ready room. Picard called him in when he pressed the chime, and Riker entered.

Riker froze.

Shelby was already there.

“Come in, Number One,” Picard said amiably. “Commander Shelby was just telling me of your… concerns about her plan.”

Riker stepped forwards. “I’m sorry she troubled you,” he said tightly. “I already informed her…”

“Yes, I entirely agree with you, Number One,” said Picard, cutting him off. “It’s not the time. But,” his expression became softer, “the time may come when we will be required to take greater risks. I’d like you to consider her plan as a… fall-back position, make the necessary preparations.”

Riker nodded tersely. “Very good, sir.”

Shelby stood, walked past Riker and out onto the bridge. Riker turned and followed her as she walked to the turbolift to the battle bridge and stepped inside.

As soon as it started moving, Riker said, “Halt.” His voice was quiet, but the anger in it was unmistakable. He looked at her, his eyes narrow and cold. “You and I need to talk, Commander.”

Shelby turned to face him, defiant. “You never order ordered me not to discuss this with the captain.”

“You disagree with me, fine,” Riker growled. “You want to take it to the captain, fine. Through me. You do an end run around me again, I’ll snap you back so hard you’ll think you’re a first year cadet again.”

Shelby meet his eyes, still impudent. “May I speak frankly?” Her tone left no doubt that she was going to speak her mind, no matter what Riker said.

Riker smiled with poisonous sweetness. “By all means.”

“You’re in my way.”

“Really?” Riker asked. He loaded his voice with dripping sarcasm. Damn, there was something about her that just seemed to bring out the worst in Riker, provoked such anger in him. “How terrible for you.”

Shelby continued, almost as if she delighted in provoking him. “All you know how to do is play it safe. I guess that’s why someone like you sits in the shadow of a great man for as long as you have, passing up one command after another.” She turned away from him. “Proceed,” she said to the com, and the lift resumed its journey.

Riker didn’t turn away. “When it comes to this ship and this crew,” he said quietly, dangerously, “you’re damned right I’ll play it safe.”

And then Shelby smiled insubordinately. “If you can’t make the big decisions,” she said, “I suggest you make room for someone who can.”

The door opened onto the battle bridge, and Shelby stepped out, leaving Riker in the lift fuming.
Last edited by Tiberius on Sun May 27, 2012 3:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Best of Both Worlds

Postby Griffin » Sun May 27, 2012 11:20 am

You appear to have gone from Chapter 2 to Chapter 5. :confused:
Zagreus sits inside your head,
Zagreus lives among the dead,
Zagreus sees you in your bed,
And eats you when you're sleeping.
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Re: The Best of Both Worlds

Postby Tiberius » Sun May 27, 2012 3:43 pm

Well, don't I feel the fool.

Anyway, fixed now!
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Re: The Best of Both Worlds

Postby RK_Striker_JK_5 » Sun May 27, 2012 8:38 pm

Hmm, I usually italicize transmissions, and I've seen it done before in other works. Just a suggestion for stuff like the Borg communications and such.
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Re: The Best of Both Worlds

Postby Praeothmin » Mon May 28, 2012 2:31 pm

Very nice!

You've captured the feel of the show, and the thinking patterns of the characters...
Great job... :)
The truth always depends on which side of the fence you're standing... ;)
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Re: The Best of Both Worlds

Postby Tiberius » Mon May 28, 2012 3:05 pm

RK_Striker_JK_5 wrote:Hmm, I usually italicize transmissions, and I've seen it done before in other works. Just a suggestion for stuff like the Borg communications and such.


I've seen it done myself, but to me italics suggests more of an emphasis being placed on this words.
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