Chapter 41: Barge of the Barely Alive
“This is creepy.”
419 and 426 were wandering along one of many corridors on the cube-shaped ship. Row upon row of niches lined the right-hand wall; in some of these stood silent zombie-faced huminoids, each similar in appearance to the one they had encountered on Jumba’s ship, and each paying absolutely no attention to the two experiments walking in front of them.
419 stopped to examine one.
“I believe they are in some form of hibernation,” she analysed, closely looking at one of its hands. On the top of the wrist were small openings; protruding from them were the beginnings of some kind of tube.
“Well… we should get outta here before one of them wakes up,” said 426 nervously.
419 frowned slightly.
“Oh, I’m just wonder…”
What sounded like a hydraulics system in operation approaching them interrupted 419’s sentence; the two turned around and saw another of the zombie-creatures.
“What do ya think they’ll do to us?” whispered 426.
“If they’re anything like the Daleks, they’ll ex-TER-mi-nate first and ask questions later,” 419 breathed back.
The drone, however, walked passed them as if they were not there.
“Could someone tell me what just happened?” 426 implored.
“While I too feel your perplexity,” said 419, starting to walk again, “I think it would be better if we just continued on before they catch on to us.”
“Good call,” 426 replied, following her lead.
“Y’know,” 419 continued, now examining the steel railings keeping them from falling several feet, “I would have expected them to have swarmed the corridors.”
“I know, that was like the Battle for Sterling Bridge on easy with complete visibility,” agreed 426.
419 gave him a funny look.
“What? I dabble in Age of Monarchs every now and then.”
After a few moments of wearing what 419 supposed was intended to be a thoughtful expression, 426 spoke up again.
“Maybe they don’t see us as a threat.”
“Interesting theory,” said 419, “care to elaborate?”
“OK, so it’s like this,” 426 said enthusiastically, for it was so rare for his sister to ask him to elaborate on anything, “we’re like ants, and these… thingies are those dudes with the magnifying glasses. Most of the time they’re like, ‘ants, eh, whatever.’ But if they feel really bored, or if we bite them, they take out their glass, place it between us and the sun, and wait, all the while muttering ‘burn, buuurn’ under their breath.”
419 thought about this for a bit.
“OK, first, I understood that, and because of that I’m really scared.” She shivered to emphasize the point, prompting an “I know” from 426. “But second, what do we do when they… er… ‘pull out their magnifying glasses’?”
“That’s easy, we do what any ant would do.”
“Run like mad?”
“Status report, Ming.”
“Well, we’ve reached the end of the conduit,” Ming replied, dutifully, to her captain’s request.
“Excellent! Now, max power to forward shields, ahead at full impulse,” Jameston instructed excitedly. Anything could be on the other side of the threshold.
Various beeping noises intermingled with Malo’s “aye!” as she rapidly pressed several buttons atop a black console situated in front of her. Slowly, the ship began to move forward.
Jameston watched the ship’s progress on the main viewscreen, watched the vibrant blue event horizon coming closer and closer, the brilliant lights of the ship shimmering off its smooth surface.
And then they were in it.
For a split second, it was like gliding through a sea of toothpaste, cutting through it like a phaser through titanium. But soon that split second was up, and the familiarity of space, stars and stuff surrounded the Serenity.
Jameston sighed, placing her chin upon one of her palms; slumping down in her chair, she asked Ming where they were.
“Er… you won’t believe it, but… let me double-check… well, I don’t know if I’m seeing things, but the sensors all tell me the same thing – we’re in Sector 001… we’re home.”
Jameston’s jaw dropped several meters.
“Are… are you sure?” she asked, eyes lighting up at the thoughts of finally seeing Earth, of seeing her friends…
And her mother, so uneager to adapt into the new world that had been thrust upon them. She’d probably blame her absence on some new-fangled technology. “If we had just stayed put… but no, you had to experiment…”
Shaking these thoughts from her mind, she reminded herself that somewhere out there was a Borg cube heading straight for the planet, ready to consume it, devour it as a spider would devour a big, juicy fly.
She opened her mouth to say something, but Ming beat her to it.
“I’m picking up a Borg cube on long-range scanners,” she informed her, answering her unasked question.
“OK, Malo, you’ve got the co-ordinates? Good, head towards it, maximum warp. Ming, broadcast a Priority One warning, inform all ships in the area about the threat.”
Her expression was one of determination. She thought of all the people that had been destroyed, or assimilated, for the Borg’s goal of total conquest, and promised herself that she, at least, would not let this ship do the same.
“Engage,” she instructed, staring at the cold white location indicator, and willing it to disappear forever.