Last Voyage of the Avenger

Chapter Nine:

At least we managed to destroy one thought Admiral Norton. She sat on the flag bridge of her disabled ship and watched the wreckage of her fleet on her surviving displays. The bridge was badly damaged and the main bridge was completely gone. Her surviving bridge crew looked as exhausted as she felt. As a final, she sent a message to Starfleet Command and local Federation stations informing them about the results of the battle. Only some structural integrity fields running on battery power kept the flag bridge with an atmosphere and life support was inoperable. The concentration of firepower from her ships and the assistance of the Romulans and Klingons had enabled them to wreck one of the cubes and badly damage another. The other two cubes had lighter damage but she hoped that she had given the Federation time enough to line up a second line of defense. A couple of the smaller Birds of Prey had survived with only light damage and she had ordered them to break off from combat. There was nothing more they could do other than to sacrifice themselves with no purpose. She hoped that they would join the defense forces being cobbled together by Captain Ross but this was out of her control.

Her ship was completely disabled and she did not even see a point of even ordering the crew to the life pods because they would simply be captured by the Borg. At least onboard the ship, they might be able to take a few of the Borg down. The chief engineer had ejected the warp core before the magnetic bottle had collapsed but she wondered if it would not have been better if the core had exploded and taken the ship with it. Unfortunately, the ship’s fusion reactors were offline so she could not self destruct the ship that way either. Within a few minutes, the Borg would begin to board her vessel. She had her hand phaser for as long as it remained useful. Maybe she could get someone down to the photon torpedo storage and detonate the torpedoes. The problem is that the person would have to get into a vacuum suit because there was no atmosphere in that section of the ship.

She raised her hand to activate her com link but she was too late. Four Borg drones transported onto her bridge. She was sure that more had beamed into other sections of the ship including engineering. She pulled her phaser pistol and brought down one of the Borg Drones. The idea of becoming one of them was one of her few remaining fears. Other surviving bridge crew fired their phasers simultaneously and the first wave was stopped before they could make more than a couple of steps. Four more Borg transported onto the bridge. Like the first wave, these drones were quickly cut down. Admiral Norton knew it was only a matter of time before the Borg adapted. Well, at least not yet she thought. A third wave transported onto the bridge and was cut down like the previous two waves.

A fourth wave of Borg Drones transported into the wreckage of her flag bridge. She aimed the phaser and fired. Several other crew members fired as well. The Borg Drone which was her target shuttered but continued moving towards her. The Borg had adapted to their phasers. Just them she realized that there was still one means of escape. She hoped her crew would have the courage to take it. She turned her hand phaser towards the side of her own head and fired.

The Klingon Commanders of the Birds of Prey had decided to go to the shipyard where the human admiral had asked them to join the fleet gathering there to attempt to stop the Borg fleet again. They were a decent distance from the Klingon Empire and their crews were thirsting for revenge after what had happened to the remainder of their ships. Even the Romulans and Humans had fought valiantly but they had been overwhelmed as well. The destruction of one of the Cubes and damage that had been inflicted on the remaining Borg cubes had enable their ships to reach this system a few hours before the Borg cubes arrived here.

Commander K'Leth, the senior of the two captains of the Birds of Prey, ordered a comm channel opened to the Federation flagship. His junior officer open a channel and the computers of the two ships established com protocols so the two captains could communicate with each other. Commander K'Leth could see by the header that the ship was named Avenger. Not a sissy name like the Federation selected for most of their ships such as the name for some silly poet. He had heard that Captain Ross, who the Cardassians called the butcher, was in command. He had heard that she was as large as any female Klingon warrior and able to fight an armed Gem'Hadar bare handed.

The image resolved itself and he saw a short and stocky woman with tangled hair. This could not be the terror of the Cardassians. Ah, it must be the ship’s communication officer. The women spoke and immediately dashed that thought, "I am Captain Gwendolyn Ross. I welcome you to the fleet." She did not know what else to call her ragtag group of ships.

Even her voice did not sound like that of a true warrior the Klingon thought. On closer examination of the view screen, he noted that the bulkhead behind the Captain was cracked and scorched from extreme heat. He also noted that captain's chair also seemed warped. This likely occurred from the same hit that damaged the bulkhead. The human captains eyes grabbed his for a few moment. He found no one who could do that and it was as if something predatory staring from those eyes. On second thought, the short human female was a real warrior after all. The Klingon Commander replied firmly "I am Commander K'Leth of the Targoth. I am here to put the Targoth and the Bargor under your command."

The human captain responded "Time is at a premium. I will need to brief you and the other captain on the plan as soon as possible."

It had been two hours since the Klingon Birds of Prey had arrive in the system and before two more hours went by, they would find themselves engaging the Borg. She had received a message from Admiral Norton stating that one Borg cube had been destroyed and the other three Borg cubes had been damaged to a greater or lesser degree. This had been confirmed by the Klingon commander. Captain Ross had only a total of four days to get ready since being informed that Borg were headed into the Alpha Quadrant and that time was running out. She devoutly wished she had more time to prepare but she might as well have wished for a fleet of a hundred battle cruisers while she was at it. The Avenger had been reinforced to the best of the ability of the crew in the time they had and the shields were fully operational. The ship was very fragile and would not require much damage before it literally would start coming apart. The rest of her ships were fully operational but the crews were still green and could use more training. A total of twenty two repair shuttles had been refitted to act as decoys. She had been surprised at how many volunteers she had gotten for the decoy ships. She suspected that at least a few wished to die quickly instead of being captured by the Borg and turned into mindless zombies. A large number of crew members of the Kraken had volunteered which had made her wonder against about the relationship between the Captain of the Kraken and his crew. A hostile environment suit manufacturing area had been set up by some shipyard crew that were not otherwise occupied and suits had been made for all crew member except the Klingons. The facility simply did not have enough time to complete suit for the Klingons. Captain Ross thought it was an open question whether the Klingons would use the suits anyway. Copies of her M-1 Carbine had been issued to all marines and one in four crew members. She had her MAC-10 hanging on a strap over her shoulder and she was carrying her .357 revolver tucked into her jacket. In retrospect, she probably would have been better off having the MAC-10 copied because if was a more portable weapon but she thought the rifle would still do the job she needed. She had heard that many crew members considered her choice of weapons barbaric. This opinion seemed most prevalent on the other ships but she had overheard some of her own people that seemed to share that opinion. Well, the Klingons seemed to like the new weapons but they liked cutting opponents heads off with swords as well.

It was about time to set the acceleration of the asteroids. They would need to be set up before the borg vessels entered into the system. If there was a future, she would recommend that some sort of hyper velocity rail gun was developed to fire solid weapons at the borg cube but this is the best she could do in the time she was given. The course of the asteroids was planned that the Federation fleet would be in close range combat for about six minutes before the asteroids collided with the Borg ships. This was to give her fleet enough time to get the Borg ships into the right position. The asteroids did carry guidance to enable course changes and last minute maneuvers but targeting would the easiest close to the planned engagement area.

Lieutenant Junior Grade Susan Novak, Captain Ross's Communication Officer, had insisted on returning to duty and was on the Avenger's makeshift communication station. She broke Gwendolyn out of her thoughts, "Captain, the outer array reports that the Borg cubes are within 105 minutes of entering the system. You asked me to keep you informed."

It was time to get everything started, "Susan, could you please inform the stations to set the asteroids on their proper courses." She got out of her command chair to look at what slim data tactical had on the approaching Borg cubes.

One of the impulse engines on a asteroid failed and Captain Ross only had eleven asteroids for three targets. She decided to make a last minute change because of the loss of one of the asteroids. She ordered the reduction in acceleration of two of the asteroids. That would leave three asteroids for each Borg cubes and an additional two rocks that could be targeted at a Borg cube if none of the first set managed to hit their assigned target. The trailing asteroids would intercept the Borg's positions four minutes after the first set.

Three Borg cubes dropped out of Transwarp near the edge of the system and immediately started towards the shipyard's location. Some of the lesser beings that they had assimilated had information that their was something valuable in the system. What it was, none of them knew but whatever it was would be soon added to the collective. The Borg Cubes detected a group of ships heading on a reciprocal of their course. The force contained almost as many ships as had intercepted them previously but there were ships larger than what the humans identified as an "Excelsior" class cruiser. There was also none of the ship of those ships known as a "Romulan Warbird." The analysis indicated that they could be destroyed easily.

Captain Ross watched the Borg forces in the Avenger's main tactical display while her ragtag fleet headed to intercept the three Borg Cubes. As they closed, her plan was to concentrate all torpedoes onto a single cube. They would begin firing torpedoes as soon as they got within range. She did not think her ships had enough missile firepower to do appreciable damage to the cube but she wanted it to look like a real attack so that the Borg would not look for an attack coming from another source. From the battle records she had read, it looked like the Borg used single minded tactics anyway. Her ships were accelerating slowly so not to built up too much velocity. If the Avenger and the Decoy shuttles could have kept up, she might have considered a full acceleration attack run and a rapid deceleration once passed and a second run at the Borg ships. The Avenger still could not achieve anything close to full acceleration and none of the shuttles were as fast as even the Avenger was in her damaged state. If she decided to let the faster ships attack by themselves and have the slower ships follow behind, they risked being defeated in detail. Instead her group was approaching slowly and the Avenger and Atago were spinning around their center point so that they could use both front and rear torpedo launchers at the same time.

As the Federation and Klingon ships reached the half way point between where their planned to meet the Borg fleet, the ships began to decelerate. The ships would be close to a complete stop when they got within energy weapon range. The hope was that the Borg Cubes would stop to engage the Federation force instead of continuing on to the shipyard. While engaging Borg Cubes in a stand up fight with the ships she had was fairly ludicrous but if she could only keep them in the planned engagement area for eight minutes then the asteroids should take care of the Borg vessels. The Borg vessels began decelerating as well. She assumed that they wished to destroy her ships before getting to the shipyard's fixed defenses. Some stationary weapon arrays, like those on the stations Deep Space Nine, were very impressive. While the reality was that the defenses around the station were actually negligible, there was not reason for the Borg to assume that even if they had assimilated Federation personnel that had been at the shipyard previously. After all, it was a shipyard and could construct its own defenses. It was one of her few complaints about Commodore Lester Von Gehr. If she had been in command of the yard, she would have used weapon systems from unsalvageable ships to construct fixed defenses around the shipyard. The weapon systems would not need to be as powerful as those mounted on new starships to be effective. Any lack of individual firepower could be made up by an overwhelming number of weapons platforms.

The Avenger's acting tactical officer reported "Captain, we are within torpedo range"

Gwendolyn looked over at the tactical display herself and saw the projected targeting for the torpedo. It was her job to initiative the fire plan. Gwendolyn turned toward her communication officer "Tell the other ships to initiate fire" and she nodded at her own weapon's officer.

Within two seconds, the first volley of torpedoes were fired. This was followed as rapidly as possible by a second volley of torpedoes. All of a single volley were programmed to hit the leading Borg cube at the same instant. The Borg noted that only nine of the ships were firing missiles at their ships. The remaining ships were either some type of decoy or some sort of ships that did not carry any torpedoes. Two of the nine ships were firing torpedoes more rapidly than see in most ships of their size. As the torpedoes hit, the Borg Cube under onslaught took some minor damage as the torpedo hits began to accumulate. These torpedoes had already been encountered and had been adapted against so damage was slight.

The Borg transmitted to all of the Federation and Klingon ships, "Lower your shields, we will add your technological and biological distinctiveness to our own."

The torpedo fire lasted for six minutes before both sides came within beam weapon range. All of the vessels had expended their torpedoes and only had beam weapons they could fire anyway. Both sides opened fire at the same time. The decoy shuttles and the smaller warships began weaving back and forth to confuse the targeting from the Borg vessels. The three capital ships were also maneuvering to avoid fire although Captain Ross had to limit the Avengers maneuvers so not to overstress the ship’s damaged hull and structure. For the beginning of the engagement, the Federation and Klingons were lucky. The Avenger was hit once and the frigates shields withstood the hit. Most of the Borg's fire had been targeted at decoy vessels and most of them managed to dodge the fire. Only five were hit by the Borg beam weaponry and at least one of the pilots managed to eject in time. The Borg ships seemed to receive no damage but they had stopped to fully engage the Federation and Klingon vessels. The Federation and Klingon ships would only have to survive about five more minutes and the asteroids would come into collision with the Borg Cubes.

As the battle continued, it turned against the defenders. One of the Klingon Bird of Prey received a direct hit from one of the Borg Cubes directly in engineering. The shields simply could not withstand the power of the Borg energy beam and the Bird of Prey simply exploded. Several of the other warships received hits but none were hit directly and were able to withstand the fire with only moderate damage. One of the Perimeter Action Ships lost a warp drive but the ships fighting power was unimpaired. Eight more of the decoy vessels were destroyed leaving only nine decoy shuttles remaining. The defense forces could see no damage to the Borg vessels. No one knew if forces that remained would be able to survive the four more minutes before the asteroid weapons came into play.

The battle continued and the Avenger received her fourth hit. The frigate’s shields had already been badly weakened and the Borg energy weapon cut through the remaining shields as if they were cobwebs. The helmsman was maneuvering the Avenger up and to port when it was hit. Several main support frames were burned completely through and the most of the remaining sheared off from the stress of the frigate making its turn. The engineering section half ripped away from the forward section of the hull. The chief engineer activated the emergency warp core ejection system and so the Avenger was not blown up within a few seconds when the warp core exploded. The Avenger's fusion reactors were all damaged by the ship half ripping itself apart and only emergency battery power remained. Because the crew were in hostile environment suits, only those crew that had been directly in the path of the Borg energy weapon or crushed when the hull shredded were killed. The ships sensors, computer, and weapon systems were all down. The hull had fractured all over and greater than half of the ships compartments had lost atmosphere. Life support systems and gravity generators were completely destroyed, leaving the crew in a ship with no gravity, few lights, and mostly dependant on their suits life support for survival. The tractor units on the bottom of their boots would also prevent the crews from floating around the inside of the ship. The worst was that the ship had no power and no shields. Without shields, there was nothing to stop the Borg from transporting onboard.

Outside the Avenger, the battle still raged. The Kraken received its first hit of the battle. It was a solid hit and managed to drop the cruisers forward shields and inflict some damage. Two compartments were emptied into space but there was no damage to weapons or propulsion. Captain Borek decided that his ship could not take many more hits like that one. He did not want to die like that silly captain from the past and this whole plan was foolhardy and stupid. With the Avenger gone, command of the remaining ships fell to him and there was no one who could contradict his orders. It was time to get his ship out of here. He ordered "Helm, take my ship out of here on the fastest course out of the system." He realized that the whole bridge crew was watching him and added "Now!" He waited a few moments before he ordered "Communication Officer, signal retreat to the other ships and send my regrets to the Commodore,"in a bored sounding voice which sounded to the rest of his bridge crew that he only cared about getting himself to safety.

Four more of the decoy shuttles had been destroyed in the battle and only five remained. The shuttles did not have enough power to keep up with the cruiser accelerating at full impulse and had no warp drives so they were stuck in system. The Perimeter Action Ship with the warp drive damage could not leave system either and so was forced to stay and fight. The captain of that ship had previously been Captain Ross's acting tactical officer and was determined to not go down without a fight. The other three Federation escort vessels turned and followed behind the retreating cruiser. The remaining Klingon Bird of Prey's crew was simply too angry to retreat and so remained fighting.

Commander Jackson's face drained of all its color as he heard his communication officer play the message from the captain of the Kraken. The ships only had to hold the Borg Cubes at bay from three more minutes and the trap would be sprung. It looked like Captain Ross had died to make this all possible and Captain Borek was going to throw it all way to protect his own skin. Commander Jackson cleared his throat and said to his bridge crew "We have to stay. It would be criminal to sacrifice the Federation for our own hides." he looked over at the rest of his bridge crew to see how they were reacting to his mutiny. None of them looked like they disagreed with him and a couple looked anticipatory of getting revenge. Whether that revenge was against the Borg or against Captain Maxwell Borek he did not know.

As time remaining until the asteroids intercepted the Borg ships went below three minutes, one Centaur class cruiser and three Perimeter Action Ships pulled towards the edge of the system accelerating at full impulse, three warships remained behind to try and fight the Borg Cubes. Many of the personnel on the ships that had elected to stay and fight could only hate the ones that had run away. The odds were lousy that the remaining ships could hold the Borg ships long enough.

With less opponents to deal with, the Borg estimated that they could afford to beam drones onboard the crippled ship and capture the crew to add to their drones that had been acquired in the previous battle. They expected few losses because they had already encountered the Federations new hand phasers and had adapted to them. Captain Ross saw her first group of Borg Drones as they transported onboard her bridge. The event seemed to mimic what had happened onboard Admiral Norton's flagship with four beaming onboard her ship. The drones were certainly as ugly as she had seen in pictures. They had diseased looking pasty skin and had wires and tubes stuck all over their heads, arms, and torso. None of the tubes or wires seemed to have any discernable function. Well, she thought, they are in for a surprise. She shouldered her MAC-10 and fired a short burst at the nearest Borg Drone. The other personnel on the bridge who were armed with M-1 Carbines fired as well. Four drones were down within seconds although she now knew that ricocheted could be a problem. Gwendolyn wished that she knew how the fight was going outside of her ship.

The Borg themselves decide that the retreating ships were not worth their attention at this time and they would concentrate on the remaining ships. They concentrated much of their firepower on the Atago as the only remaining capital ship. Commander Jackson was trying to keep to keep his ship alive for just two more minutes. So far he had been able to keep his shields up but not even a Sovereign class battlecruiser was designed to withstand the abuse his Excelsior class cruiser was being subject to. Two more of decoy shuttles disappeared under the Borg fire.

Commander Jackson knew he had only one hope. He opened a comm channel to the retreating vessels and sent a message begging for them to come back, "This is Commander Jackson, I am in trouble. I have all three Borg cubes attacking my ship. We only have to hold them for a few minutes. We may be the last hope of the Federation." He thought his plea had been horrible but it seemed to work because the three Perimeter Action Ships did a 360 degree rotation and started decelerating to negate the velocity built up while they were on course. Even the Escort who's captain had been the Krakens helm officer turned back. Maybe it was a guilty conscience but whatever reason, the ships would be re-engaging the cubes within about a minute. The Kraken had not slowed and continued heading out of the system.

There was over a couple dozen bodies of Borg Drones floating on the bridge of the Avenger. Various fluids had squirted onto the bridge from the drones. Some, like blood, froze instantly while others remained viscous liquid. All of the shooters had to be careful not to hit another crew member with a ricochet. The problem was that it was only a matter of time. She had found that the bullets of the MAC-10 tended to ricochet less than the bullets from the M-1 Carbine. Another reason why the submachinegun would have been a better weapon to copy than the carbine. The Borg had been unable to adapt so they simply sent wave after wave onto the bridge of her crippled ship. If she could hold the Borg from taking over her bridge for a little under two minutes, she might actually survive this. The biggest problem was that all of their ammunition was running low.

The three returning Perimeter Action Ship strafed the cubes as they attempted to return to formation. This caught the attention of the Borg and they turned to concentrate on the attacking wave. The cubes opened fire and because the small ships were attempted to get back as quickly as possible, they were much easier targets than they would be otherwise. Two of the escort vessel were hit dead on and had their shields dropped and suffered heavy damage. The third of the Perimeter Action Ships in the formation was hit only lightly and the shields held.

The attacks of the small escorts did give Commander the break he needed and he was able to strengthen the forward shield of the vessel by pulling power from his rear shields. It was a risk but it should allow his shield to withstand a few more hits. Before getting a chance to adjust his shields, his ship’s forward shield would probably have collapsed on the next hit. He had already taken damage including the loss of four of his phaser banks. Time until the asteroids should obliterate the Borg Cubes was now just over a minute. He was not sure if his ship would survive the battle but he should be able to hold the Borg until the trap was sprung.

Even more Borg drones had transported onto the bridge of the Avenger. Captain Ross would have thought that they would have stopped by now for the simple reason of loss versus potential gain. She had miscalculated on the Borg' single minded nature. She had already heard the triggers click on the carbines carried by other bridge crew and when she squeezed her trigger, she got a click from her MAC-10 indicating that she was out of ammunition as well. The Borg Drone continued towards her. She reached into her belt and pulled out the revolver that she thought she would not need. From a range of two meters, she fired. She had aimed directly at the drones head and blew the entire back skull out of it.

The two Perimeter Action Ships that had been damaged had received several more hit and both were out of action. One had gotten relatively lucky and just had the drive system demolished. The ship was able to keep up shields but only had maneuvering thrusters remaining and was heading away from the position of the Borg ships. The other had been less lucky and had suffered a Warp core explosion taking all hands with it. All three cubes targeted the Atago. Virtually instantly, they knocked the cruisers shields flat. The Atago also suffered major damage to its forward hull and lost two more phaser banks. Commander Jackson knew that one more hit like that would likely disable or destroy his vessel. The Atago had fought valiantly. Suddenly, the escort vessel which had stayed by his ships side for the entire fight put itself between the Borg cubes and the Atago. It blocked the next volley of fire but literally disintegrated under the weight of fire. It had saved the heavy cruiser and the lives of her crew.

Nine asteroids came streaking in at an incredible velocity. Most of the Borg's attention had been targeted on the attacking vessels and what few sensor sweeps that had been doing in other directions was directed at looking for warp drive and anti-gravity signatures which indicated a starship. As a result, they did not detect the asteroids until they were very close. When they did detect the high velocity asteroids, they immediately changed targets and fired at the rocks. Unfortunately for the Borg, multi billion ton metallic asteroids are incredibly resistant to energy weapon fire, no matter how heavy. The cubes made no attempt to dodge the incoming asteroids. It is unlikely that the Borg vessels could have dodged in time but they would have had a better chance that they did at destroying the asteroids. Even if they had managed to break one up, the Cube would have been pelted by so much debris that they would have been destroyed anyway. Each Borg Cube was hit within a few seconds of each other. These asteroids would have decimated an Earth sized planet if they had hit. Some of the Kinetic energy was converted into other forms during the impact. This included heat, radiation, and light. The light released by the impact lit up the system as if there was second sun in the system. The Avenger was the closest vessel to any of the Borg cubes and had no shields protecting it. The intense energy cooked the hull of the cruiser in the same as if the ship had gotten too close to a star. The hull ended up half melted and blistered from the intense heat but the majority of the crew survived, protected by the damaged ship’s hull. Well, at least the other two asteroids would not be needed.

Gwendolyn Ross sat on her command chair on the bridge. It had been almost thirty minutes since any Borg Drones had beamed onboard what was left of her vessel. The attacks had stopped just in the nick of time. All of the other bridge crew had run out of ammunition and she had only three rounds left in her revolver. The bridge had pushed all of the Borg bodies into one corner of the bridge. They had noted that some of the Borg Drones had the remains of Federation uniforms. Gwendolyn at least considered that this was a better fate than being drones for the rest of their lives.

While her bridge crew had cleaned up the bridge to the best of their abilities, she and her communication officer had used their suit's comm units to get in contact with surviving crew members. They had gotten in contact with sixty percent of the crew and hoped that more had survived. The crew still had hours of life support left in the hostile environment suits but there was no hope of restoring life support to the ship. If there was no rescue coming soon, they could all suffocate if they did not do something.

She had already sent someone to check on the escape pods and all escape pods they had been found had been destroyed. It looked like the entire outside of her vessel had been melted. It was possible that some shuttles had been protected inside of their hanger bay and had survived. There were several dangers involved in checking. First, the hanger bays seemed to be partially separated from the rest of the hull and could involve floating through open space to get to the hangers. Second, while most of the Borg seemed to have been transported to the bridge or engineering, it was possible that Borg drones were still wandering around her ship and most of per crew and troops were low on ammunition. Well, it was better to at least try than just have the crew sit and wait for their suits to run out of air.

Just as she was about to give the order to form a team to head for the hanger bays, the visual effect of eight transporter beams appeared in front of where the main view screen had been. It did not look like what Borg Drones transporting had looked like. Instead, it looked like the pattern from a standard Federation transporter. Eight humanoid figures in hostile environment suits appeared on her bridge. Seven of the figures had the insignia of Federation Marines and carried M-1 Carbines at the ready. The final figure was wearing the rank insignia of a full Commander. All of the figures wore the ship patch of the USS Atago on their shoulder.

Gwendolyn got a private message through the comm unit built into her suit's helmet "I just came onboard to see if our date was still on."

Captain Gwendolyn Ross stood behind the tactical station on the bridge of the Atago. She was looking at the melted and twisted hull of the Avenger using maximum visual magnification. Commander Jackson had sent rescue parties over to rescue the surviving members of her crew. Commander Jackson had been delayed by the need to search his ship for any Borg Drones before starting the rescue mission. Luckily, none had been found but with the dropping of his shields, he felt it need to be done. Slightly over seventy percent of the Avengers crew had been rescued alive although some had been badly hurt. The number of survivors had been incredible but both Captain Ross and Commander Jackson wished that they had been able to save more.

The searchers had only found a handful of Borg left onboard the Avenger. The marines had dealt with the Borg Drones they had found but there was no way to know if there were any others hiding in the wreckage of her ship. The wisest choice was simply to destroy her ship but that did not mean that she would enjoy it. The Avenger's weapon officer had replaced the Atago's weapon officer at the weapons station. He had the ships fire control locked onto the Avenger's hull and was prepared to fire all remaining phasers at the frigate’s hull. He was simply waiting on Captain Ross to order him to fire. Commander Jackson had made it clear that he considered that it was her call.

Captain Ross sighed before giving the order. She calmly said "Fire!"

Lieutenant McMilligan stumbled for a moment "Yyessm Mmaam" and pressed the activate button to execute the fire control program. The surviving phasers began raking the hull of the Avenger and the hull disintegrated under the continuous onslaught. Gwendolyn wanted to look away but was determined to see her command's final moments. Many others had turned their eyes. She hoped that no one could see that tears filled her eyes. She thought about all of the people she had lost.

Captain Ross had ordered Captain Borek to return to the shipyard. She got no reply and the Kraken had continued warping from the star system. Commodore Von Gehr had also ordered him back to the system which he had not replied to either. It had required the Commodore to order that the executive officer to take command of the cruiser before the Kraken turned around to head back to the shipyard. He probably could not be convicted of the charge of 'Failure to Follow the Direct Orders of a Senior Officer' for his retreat from battle but she had hopes that the charge of 'Cowardice in the face of battle' could be sustained. If he had not ordered the retreat of the forces, the survival of the crew of the two destroyed Perimeter Action Vessel would have been far more likely.

The battle had been the greatest victory the Federation had ever had against the Borg but it had been bloody.

Captain Ross wore her dress uniform. It was out of place with all the new jumpsuit style uniforms but somehow it made her look like a real officers while the others looked like kids in pajamas. While she did not particulary enjoy the attention she was receiving, she had manipulated her popularity so that she, and her crew, could retain the old style uniforms. After the victory against the Borg, she was one of the most popular officers in the Federation and would likely be recorded in the history books as the second most well known Captains in the history of Starfleet. Because of this, no one wanted to cross her.

She had been further honored by being given command of the improved Akira class battlecruiser that was under construction in the yard. The ship would be commissioned in a few weeks and had been renamed the Avenger. The ship had many improvements including the shield and phaser designs that had first been mounted onboard the Sovereign class battlecruiser. She had made some changes to the design such as complete conventional computer backup to the bio-organic computer system that was the ships main computer system. She was impatient for the ship to be completed so she could take the ship for its trials.

In addition to modifications to her ships, she had several other projects that she was working on. She had also gotten an engineering group working on a more practical suit for shipboard service that would be lighter weight. She had another engineering group working on a new projectile weapon for use against the Borg. The leader of the group who had been a historic weapons buff and was going through historical weapons to look at different features.

She had been given the option to chose any crew she wished. She retained as many crew members from the old Avenger that she could. Some of her old crew had been too badly injured to go back to full duty and had been restricted from shipboard service because of it. She had managed to get a few of the disabled officers to get positions as instructors at Starfleet Academy and her hope was that they could keep the next generation of Starfleet Officers from becoming brainwashed socialists puppets. For the remainder of the crew, she had looked for the most skilled personnel that she could find but she also looked for crew members who had records that seemed to show that they were disaffected with the socialist way that the Federation and Starfleet were being run. She figured that she would give them a break from the way that they were treated in many commands and hopefully her treating them with respect would cement their loyalties.

It was obvious that Captain Borek had an important patron. He had been reassigned before Commodore Von Gehr could convene a court marshal. Officially, the records were suppose to be sent so that he could be tried at his new station but Gwendolyn knew that the trial would never occur.

Still, all in all, the future looked exciting.

[ Star Trek is copyright © Paramount Pictures ]

This story is covered under the free use clause of the Copyright Laws. While the story is designed to entertain, it is also written to educate as well criticize certain aspects of Star Trek.

By Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Copyright © 2003, Kitsune. All rights reserved.