Chapter 39: Controls
At that moment, the shaking began.
When it stopped, and everyone had righted themselves, groaning whilst rubbing their heads, it could be determined that another ship was in close proximity and had fired on them.
“The Borg must have found us,” muttered Jumba hoarsely as he made for the exit.
“Hey,” called 426, “where are you going?”
“Well, ‘tis my ship, and I won’t let it sink without a fight. Besides, you know what they say, the captain always goes down with his vessel.”
“I’m coming with you,” said Pleakley, a determined look on his face.
“Okay, 419, you know what you are doing? Good. Either way this goes, we’ll be still watching out for you. Good luck.”
Jumba (sorta) ran out of the room, with Pleakley trailing behind.
“Hey, 419, there’s a microphone in here.”
“We could do final messages, just in case we don’t make it, like on TV!” exclaimed 426, pointing at said microphone.
“This isn’t fiction, 426.”
426 looked like he wanted to respond, but contented himself with folding his arms.
“Besides, why do you want to do final messages? It’s so… depressing.”
“Er… no reason.”
419 raised her eyebrow.
“Something in particular you want to say?”
“Well… er… um… I mean, no!”
She walked up to a panel with lots of lights and buttons at the front of the small craft.
“You take that control.”
“The propulsion systems and auxiliary aft-and-for photonic…”
Blankness filled 426’s face.
“The shooty weapony thingy. The engines as well.”
“What about 626?”
419 looked back. Stitch had been idly sitting in the back of the craft, unnoticed by anyone.
“626! Er… you can take tactical, ops and engineering.”
“Now, I’ll seal the airlock, and on my mark, pull forward on the lever slowly.”
419 pressed a button.
A loud clunking sound signalled the closure of the air-lock, while a “pshhh-nheeah” sound represented the escape of air as the launch bay doors opened.
“Okay, ready?” shouted 419 over the “nheeah” of the opening door.
“Almost got it…”
426 swallowed hard and pulled down on the lever.
The shuttle zoomed out of the doors as if they had been merely a rock in a shotput whom’s wielder had drawn it as far as it would go, then had let it go and watched as it flew through the air aimlessly.
“Expla sepa!” yelled 626.
“Chocolate? At this time?”
“No, you’re going too fast!”
426 pulled the lever back up.
They stopped dead.
“OK, I think 626 should take over the controls. 419, tactical, ops and…”
“The screen thingy which tells you stuff.”
The Queen. Five of Twelve turned to face her.
“The assimilation process is almost complete. She will be as we are.”
“Affirmative,” replied the drone, and resumed its work.
The Queen strode out of the assimilation chamber, intently gazing forward. As she went, drones of every description walked past in the opposite direction, performing various tasks, be it maintenance, configuration or processing. Alcove upon alcove she saw; some were empty, others were being repaired, and still others contained other drones, charging themselves as to be at optimum efficiency when they awaken.
She stopped, as if temporarily indecisive of which direction to take, but no matter, for the next moment she was speeding down another corridor, and then another.
The being stayed in the shadows, in case it was the little girls’ friends.
He breathed a sigh of relief when the Queen entered the room.
“They have arrived,” she told him. “You are prepared, correct?”
“Good. You know what to do.”
Leaving the chamber, the meld of flesh and machine retraced her steps, determined not to stop for anything.
But then she paused, as if she had seen something that reminded her of a distant memory. She walked back slowly, staring at the wall as she did.
A disused transportation circuit. Beside it lay a small stuffed penguin.
She picked it up.
Hmm, that transporter should be repaired, she thought, continuing on her way.