FEDERATION'S END
by E. L. Zimmerman

Chapter 24

"On screen," Harry announced.

The Voyager's main viewer blinked, and the gray was suddenly filled with the Borg Armada, cruising forward, blotting out nearly any glimpse of trailing outer space.

Captain Janeway had taken the seat to the left of the One. Cole stood at her side, and the Borg named Jorta’Rel manned the Sciences Station. Several other drones were positioned about the deck, watching Harry Kim performing his cursory scans and related duties at the Ops Station. Senators Cytal and Packell stood near the Engineering Station, watching as two Lemm feverishly maintained the proper balance between the delicate propulsion systems. At the helm, Mandakorr tapped in several flight adjustments, clarifying their approach vector.

In that moment, Kathryn Janeway realized how deeply she missed her own crew.

"Mr. Kim," she announced, finding comfort in the fact that she was headed into battle with at least one familiar face, "are we in communications range?"

"In two minutes, captain."

‘Two minutes,’ she thought, ‘and the doors of Hell are about to swing wide.’

"Uh, Seven …?"

B'Elanna stood from her console, equally mesmerized and terrified by what she saw on her monitor. Her hands, once flat across the cold metal, were now firmly gripped into fists at her side.

"This can’t be happening," she muttered.

Casually, Seven of Nine glanced over.

The display screen was filled with Borg Cubes, nine to be exact. Seven noticed that the ships were bearing down quickly on the Voyager.

"Lieutenant, where is this?"

"Right here," B’Elanna answered. "In this system. They’re only minutes away from the planet."

Instinctively, Seven touched several sensor activation queues on her own console and brought up the image before her as well. Quickly, she scanned for weapons locks and signatures. Relieved, she found nothing.

"It appears," she began, efficiently analyzing the situation, "that the One is engaging a Borg Fleet."

Gasping, B’Elanna pounded one of her fists onto the console screen.

"Is he crazy?"

"You needn’t analyze this futile engagement to make that assessment," the former drone replied simply.

Putting her hand on her hip, Voyager’s chief engineer spat, "You’re right. I guess I should have asked if he were crazier than we had thought!"

"However," Seven calmly interrupted, "the Borg will have no suitable defense against the Twelfth Power Energy."

"What are you talking about?"

Again, Seven scanned for active weapons systems, and she was pleased to learn that no ship had activated their armaments. "While Voyager’s defenses would be understandably outmatched, the Besarian Pulse Cannon will provide sufficient protection. You needn't concern -"

"Relax, Seven," the half-Klingon interrupted bitterly.

"Lieutenant?"

"I'm not thinking about safety any longer."

Carefully, B’Elanna glanced around at the other Lemm. They were all now tuned to the confrontation on their respective screens.

Cautious, the engineer tilted her head in Seven's direction and whispered, "If the One is on board the Voyager, this may be the chance we're looking for."

Seven’s expression was blank.

"To what are you referring, lieutenant?"

B'Elanna smiled.

She stood quickly, flinging her chair away from her console. It crunched loudly into the rear wall.

Curious, Seven asked, "Lieutenant? What are you up to?"

"Watch and learn, Seven."

Abandoning her post, striding the length of the monitor control room, B'Elanna sighted her target. The drone was leaned over slightly, studying the nearest display monitor, when he stood upright, sighting the Voyager-Lemm marching toward him.

"Hey, Krynn!"

Even from this distance, B’Elanna thought she saw the drone swallow.

"I don't think we finished our conversation from yesterday!"

"Raise shields," the One ordered.

"Aye, sir," Harry replied. "Shields up."

"Charge weapons," he continued in the exercise.

"Weapons are fully charged, sir," the ensign explained. "Would you like me to engage targeting locks?"

Reclining in the captain’s chair, the One stroked his chin comfortably. "No need to alarm our guests, Mr. Kim. But … standby on that for the time being."

"Aye, sir."

"Your Highness?" Janeway began, edging her body closer to him on the chair.

"Ambassador?"

She stared at him, hoping for a reaction that she could read. "Have you thought about what happens if your Pulse Cannon doesn't effect those Borg ships?"

He smiled, keeping his attention remained fixed on the main viewer.

She read his expression, and it told her that he felt he was facing his destiny, finally meeting a challenge he had been awaiting his entire existence.

"My dear, dear captain," he whispered back at her. "How shortsighted you humans are."

"Your Highness?"

Turning, he faced her. "Captain, you’ve observed yourself that everything I own I have commandeered from other species." Grinning, he added, "From whom do you think I stole the technology for the Pulse Cannon?"

She winced. "Are you saying that …?"

"That’s precisely what I’m saying," he interrupted. "The Pulse Cannon was constructed from design specifications I obtained in these drones’ neural nets."

Interjecting, Cole turned to the One. "That is improbable."

Shifting in the captain’s chair, High Highness studied the main viewer, ignoring the pleading glances of those on the Bridge around him. "Come now, Commander Cole. You were there – on Besaria – before those Borg came for me. You know as well as most." The One gripped his gloved hand to one of his wide knees. "I didn't have the weapon or any defense until after that Sphere came into my possession," he explained. "Those Borg tried assimilating me. As you all know, I assimilated them. I used my abilities to shapeshift to rip what I needed from deep within the Borg mind. From their deepest subroutines, I stole the technology for the Pulse Cannon, the Generatrix, and the planetary shield."

Moving forward, his footsteps uneven, Cole approached the conn. "That information is in error."

Still, the One didn’t take his eyes off the main viewer.

"You think so? It’s a shame, really. The drone’s mind is pitifully small."

"The Pulse Cannon and the planetary shield utilize Twelfth Power Energy," Cole explained, continuing his efforts to make sense of the untenable situation. "The Borg – the Collective – we are incapable of producing power at such levels."

Feigning innocence, the One tore his eyes away from the viewscreen and glared at his Borg commander.

"Are you absolutely certain, Cole? Because, if you’re not, I’ve a battle to win."

Borg Evelter, planetary weapons officer, marched into the Generatrix’s cafeteria, where Commander Grayson had summoned him. There, waiting near the end of the large room where the doors led deeper into the defense complex, he met the Voyager’s EMH, under guard of an unfamiliar-looking Borg drone.

Curious, Evelter announced, "I don’t recognize this sentry."

"My assignment is the Grand Hall," Tom offered, hoping desperately that his ruse would work. It had delivered them thus far, and failure – as Captain Janeway had lain out – was not an option. "I serve as guard to the chambers for the ambassador of the Voyager-Lemm."

His eyepiece twirling, Evelter gave no indication of disbelief or acceptance.

"Ambassador Janeway explained to His Highness that this Voyager-Lemm possesses extensive knowledge on the mechanics of Twelfth Power Energy conversion," Paris explained.

"Curious," Grayson said. "We are not aware that the Federation, in its present incarnation, has mastered the application of Twelfth Power Energy."

"Apparently, the Federation has encountered the energy source before."

Still, the planetary weapons officer maintained his stoic appearance.

"The One requires that this Voyager-Lemm be assigned to the Pulse Cannon Targeting Systems," Tom concluded, nodding sideways at the Doctor.

"Explain," Evelter stated, finally breaking his silence.

He swallowed hard. "His Highness has discovered that this Voyager-Lemm has a vast repository of knowledge with weapon system technologies," the disguised Voyager crewmember concocted on the spot, hoping such an explanation would achieve the goal he sought – granting them access to the Pulse Cannon Command Center. "Specifically," he continued, "this Voyager-Lemm has demonstrated an advanced understanding of sensor-indicative targeting systems. As the One is currently engaging a fleet of Borg Cubes, he found it relevant for this Lemm – one uniquely aware of Voyager’s defensive capabilities – to be assigned to the Pulse Cannon immediately."

Slowly, the weapons officer studied Tom and the doctor.

Ever the gambler, Lieutenant Paris went for broke. "You will comply, or you will suffer extermination."

After several protracted seconds, Evelter finally conceded.

"Understood."

Struggling to contain any open display of emotion, Tom stepped aggressively toward Evelter. He realized that his explanation might’ve been insufficient, and a corrective action was required. "Your delay in processing His Highness’s request expeditiously will be noted upon my return to the Grand Hall."

Suddenly, Evelter’s single human eye twitched.

Momentarily, he glanced at the floor, seemingly embarrassed.

"That will not be necessary," he finally stated, reaching out and taking the Doctor by the arm.

"As assigned to the Quorum, I determine what is relevant," Tom insisted, now interested in seeing how far he could push his luck with these drones.

"Understood," Grayson announced firmly, "and agreed."

Pointing to the Doctor – whose expression only indicated that, somewhere, sometime, there was a nasty hypospray waiting for the lieutenant when he least expected it – Tom quickly added, "I have been ordered by His Highness to accompany this Lemm to ensure that he reaches the Command Center."

"On what grounds?" Evelter asked.

"He is industrious," the Voyager helmsman explained. "He has attempted escape on multiple occasions. In these attempts, he has successfully disabled several of our drones. He is considered highly dangerous."

Together, Evelter and Grayson glared at the Doctor.

Showing his defiance, the Doctor … gritted his teeth.

"His Highness is graciously providing this Lemm with one final chance to serve the Foundation," Tom concluded. "Should he fail to perform adequately on this assignment, I have been instructed to terminate his lifesigns immediately."

With a single, curt nod, Evelter replied, "Understood. I shall provide escort to the Pulse Cannon, as an additional precautionary measure."

"Agreed," Tom droned.

As they started down the hallway that would lead to their final destination, the Doctor leaned into his shipmate, whispering, "You know, I might not have a name, but referring to me as the Doctor instead of as a Lemm would suffice!"

Krynn never knew what hit him

... except for the floor at his back.

Or was it the other way around?

He slammed into the ringed steel plating. Instinctively, his motor cortex whirred, issuing commands to right his form into a defensive posture. However, his neural processors detected the abnormal presence of a liquid draining about his biologic tissue surrounding his mouth.

Blood.

"Lieutenant!" Seven screamed, rushing up behind her half-Klingon crewmate. "You are to cease and desist at once!"

Rapping Krynn harshly across his chestplate, B’Elanna released her fury on the drone like she hadn’t done before.

"Sorry, Seven," she replied, "but that’s just not in the cards today."

"Lieutenant!" her shipmate pressed firmly, taking another step forward. "If I am not mistaken, this behavior is precisely that which Captain Janeway ordered the crew to stand down! Now … I repeat … stand down!"

Her Klingon temper on full display, B'Elanna stood and whirled on Seven. Readying herself for anything, the lieutenant slowly backed several feet away from the bleeding and semi-conscious Krynn.

The former drone didn’t so much as flinch.

"You can't pull rank on me!" the half-Klingon taunted. "Where we come from, you don’t even have a rank!"

"Regardless, you have been ordered to cease and desist these attacks by the senior officer," Seven reminded, cautiously taking a position between the engineering chief and the fallen Krynn. Her expression defiant, she stood firm.

"Not today, Seven."

"Lieutenant, I will not remind you -"

"What are you going to do about it?"

The former drone tilted her head slightly.

"You know," B’Elanna tried, rubbing her fist in the spot where she bled, "come to think of it, in my eyes you've never been any better than any of these Borg … attached to the Collective or not."

Still uncomfortable with the emotions she had begun to display, Seven raised an eyebrow.

"I have served the Voyager with distinction," the former drone replied, her voice giving the hint of an emotional impact B’Elanna’s accusation had on her.

"As have we all."

"I am saddened to hear that your opinion fails to coincide with mine."

Challenging, B'Elanna took a step toward her.

"Come on, Seven! Look at what we're up against here!" B’Elanna gestured at the wall of monitors, where the expanse of Lemm sat, neglecting their assigned duties in favor of waiting and watching for what was to happen next. "These cowards are not going to rise up against their oppressors! That leaves the task up to you and me!"

Realizing that she couldn’t counter the point, Seven sighed heavily. "Lieutenant, it would be wise for you to stand down. I don’t want to have to hurt you."

"Hurt me?" B’Elanna asked, smiling with a trace of disdain. "What makes you think you can?"

With that, Voyager’s engineer took another step forward.

Certain of herself and her abilities, the former drone held her ground.

"Stand down … lieutenant."

"We need a distraction," B'Elanna explained, taking another step closer to her crewmate. "Like it or not, you're going to help provide one."

"Lieutenant Torres!" Seven shouted coolly, hoping that the strong tone might awaken the delicate command sensibilities her shipmate was forgetting. "This course of action is unwise … even for a Klingon."

B’Elanna smiled.

"I’m only half-Klingon."

"Yes," she replied, "which only further supports my contention."

"You know me, Seven," B’Elanna said, her legs visibly tensing, flexing, like a cat ready to pounce. "I've always had a problem following orders."

With that, she lunged at Seven

... and all Hell broke loose.

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