Star Trek: M5 Defiant
This is a 'quasi' cross over with Bolo. The AIs, the M5s, of this work of fiction are based on the works of Keith Laumer and the Star trek TOS episode 'Ultimate Computer.'
Usual disclaimer, I don't own either properties, nor am I making any money on this.
It is a re-write of the first version I posted as a one-shot story. This is intended to be a series of chapters instead of that single one written. It is different enough that instead of continuing that one-shot I am restarting it under its own heading.
In this AU history took a different turn, perhaps due to the temporal cold war. Where Richard Daystrom decided to not go it alone with his new Multitronics project, instead he included an A7 classification expert with computers, Spock.
Working sometimes via subspace correspondence, Daystrom grew to respect Spock and to trust him, not seeing him as yet another person wishing to become famous based off of his work. Because this he was able to temper the M5 project in another manner.
They both agreed a human's engrams might be too unstable for multitronics after the four failures, which is when Spock suggested using a Vulcan's. Daystrom would trust no other Vulcan than Spock.
So when the M5 was both unveiled on the Enterprise, it wasn't an unstable mirror of its primary creator, but one who came to sentience realizing its role as a helper, a tool, an assistant to mankind instead of its supplanter.
In this timeline the war games went smoothly, the robot cargo ship never was attacked and both the Romulans and Klingons were terrified at the new 'weapon' their intelligence services reported back to them. They couldn't match the M5, they were afraid to. So that year of the M5's creation, 2268, the same year the Enterprise was involved with stealing a Romulan Cloaking device, the Romulans, Klingons and Tholians forced a meeting on Earth where they demanded the M5 be shelved.
In concessions the Romulans allowed for Federation cloaking technology development, but only for one ship, in this case the Enterprise. For deterrence Starfleet added only one ship will field an M5 and that would be the Enterprise, and so the M5 Accords were ratified.
So over the years Enterprise, Enterprise-B (there was no A as the original wasn't destroyed), C and D were the ships to carry an M5 and the latest in cloaking technology. Enterprise-B saw the development of a cloak one could fire and remain cloaked, while Enterprise-D saw the introduction of the interphase cloak.
Elizabeth Paula Shelby saw how effective the M5 had been against the Borg and had, along with Benjamin Sisko, ran simulations before pushing to get the M5 used as an anti-Borg weapon system. Under the Borg Operations Logic Opponent initiative, she established the Defiant class ships would be run by the M5.
Frankenstein complex born fears of sentient AIs were brushed aside as she often did with others in her way, particularly in the wake of the fleet loses at Wolf 359. Indeed those fears had been on the decline since Kirk's time. When the Enterprise-C saved Narendra III, the Klingons found out the M5 fought long past where most of its crew had died given the last directive by its commander.
Its final words summed up the Klingons feelings as it rushed and crippled the Romulan fleet.
"For the Honor of the Federation!"
So while the Klingons wouldn't rescind the M5 Accords, they were less insistent about them.
Since the Romulans had been attacked by the Borg in the Neutral zone, the Klingons having fought them at Wolf 359, when Shelby asked for a ratification of the M5 Accords, both parties were very open to the idea and the Defiant BOLO initiative was approved for production.
With the Defiants a new approach, a different set up was needed. One where the ship only needed a Commander, and Engineering team to fix and maintain this class of ship. Sciences, Medical and Security would be support services, with the latter only for internal or ground/boarding operations nearly reviving the MACOs in structure.
Just as the M5 had in 2268, the Defiant proved very successful in the war games Sisko and Shelby had arranged for it. Twelve Defiant class ships were intended for this first year, with more planned depending on actual confrontation experience with the Borg.
When the production model Defiant launched for its journey to Deep Space Nine, it did not launch alone.
"Commander's log 2371, Commander Benjamin Sisko recording. En route to DS9 with the Gallant and Valiant. Tomed was pulled from deployment at DS9 at the last minute so the first four Defiant class ships will not operate as a task force as planned," Ben spared a moment thinking of Subcommander T'Rul.
Although the Romulans did ratify the Accords, it was with the stipulation one of their number would command one. It had the potential to be a Security nightmare, but as with the original M5, it is a nightmare the Bolos will have to deal with. Ben was glad that was Shelby's problem not his.
Ben didn't think he would have a problem with the Klingons getting their compromise. It was perhaps an early promotion, but the appointment of Commander Worf from the Enterprise did placate them with his taking command of the Valiant.
"So far the Bolos, as we tend to call the mass-produced M5s, have performed admirably," he smiled thinking of his next sentence, "And they are still scaring friend and foe alike. No-one believes it will scare the Borg, but what really counts is if they are effective against them."
"Centuries ago, Professor Isaac Asimov coined the term, Frankenstein complex, at the time it was just the fear of robots, but over time was extended to the fear of artificial intelligences," Ben knew in truth robot or AI were typically interchangeable, but he was addressing history with this log, so an extended explanation would be appreciated by some.
"This made the selection of crews difficult where it has been mainly based on psychological factors. Specifically those who wouldn't be afraid of a Bolo. Being Klingon, I doubt Commander Worf would admit to any fear, and I don't really know Commander Chakotay all that well, but I'm told the Gallant will be in good hands with him. What's important is that these two and T'Rul can command without fear of what they are commanding."
Standing up he paced what would have been the bridge before the M5 modifications to a command deck, or center as it was listed on the blueprints. "It will take time to get the training right for command of a Defiant class. The approach is far different than on the bridge of any other starship, and yet the same. He or she must provide general direction, isolating the objective, or objectives, for their ship, willing to adjust and prioritize that objective as needed. What they shouldn't do is specify how. Bolo command is not for the micromanager."
"Aptly put Commander," the voice of the Bolo spoke up around Ben, "It will be difficult, but the partnership will worth it."
"I know D. I still have to restrain the impulse to micromanage, or what would be micromanaging to you, regarding what commands to give during a battle." D noted that both human commanders and crew tended to address with diminutives. So far Commander Worf has not, nor allowed his crew to do so in his presence.
"Commander, we are receiving a distress call," D's tone had a subtle change, one where he clearly meant business as oppose to one where he sounded conversational.
Ben noted D said 'we,' meaning one of the Bolos picked the distress call up and shared it over the subspace Total Systems Data-Sharing the Bolos networked with each other.
"Inform the other Commanders and tell them to match our course, D. Take us there," Ben might have liked telling them himself, but this was quicker and right now he didn't feel like talking much to the other two.
Ben wasn't use to Klingons yet, and Chakotay seemed a bit too smug with how the Cardassians had to back down during the recent talks about territory. It looked at first the Federation intended to cede colonies over, then a group of officers, that Chakotay had been numbered among, let slip historical records of the M5, hinting what a Federation committed to war would be like.
With his familiarity with the history of M5, Chakotay made a perfect choice to train to command one. Ben just wasn't sure if the smugness was confined to Cardassians or not. If not then there would be problems down the road. However if Ben had to make a judgment, he'd say it was confined only to the Cardassians.
"Preliminary analysis of subspace activity would suggest a transwarp conduit therefore possible Borg presence," D shared upon approach as the Gallant and Valiant did Chakotay and Worf.
"Sound Red alert, and let's go in cloaked. Pass it on D," Ben decided, and all three ships cloaked as one.
It felt lonely here on the command deck. On any other class of starship a bridge would have people around him, now it was mainly monitors to show him status and give him an idea of the battlefield, a plot like a general or admiral would work off of.
Just as on any other class of starship he depended on his crew to follow his orders, yet on this class of starship those orders would not concern the fighting, just the fixing. Here any order regarding the fight would be instantly followed.
If the war games were any representation of reality, sometimes his orders would be anticipated.
He looked around once more. Up on those viewers the TSDS consolidated the sensor readings of all three ships, the computing power of three M5s, all of whom came to the conclusion this was a Borg cube and was headed towards Bajorian space.
Ben wanted to curse, the Bolo program was for their ships to be part of a fleet, not take on a cube by themselves, but that same cube was heading towards Bajor and he couldn't just let it go. Especially since in more than a few simulations the Defiants won. He could only hope they could match the reality of those war games.
Now he found himself wishing the Tomed was with them, even with its Romulan commander.
"Get me the Commanders, D. Split screen."
Both Worf and Chakotay looked back at him, the former eager, the latter trying to swallow the look of discomfort he had to be feeling.
"We've seen the data too Ben, and we know the odds," Chakotay said trying a self-deprecating smile and easing Ben's mind about any concerns of smugness. Ben could see that this was just a very confident man as Chakotay continued on to say, "Pretty good ones too if the sims are to be believed."
"If not it is a good day to die," both Commanders had expected Worf to say that.
A chime sounded, all three knew what it meant, but it was Ben's place to address it. "Go ahead D." He knew it was a sitrep update as they approached the cube.
"Source of distress call, one Galor class, the Vetar of the Sixth Order, commanded by Gul Evek. Debris suggests two other Galor class ships had been involved in a battle, presumably with the cube. Amount of debris and scattered subspace readings also suggest they departed. Possibly the Vetar was covering them from their current hit and run stratagem."
"They are good at running," Chakotay uttered and Ben let it go. He had his own demons to fight, right now it was hard enough to look at the Borg cube and not think about Jennifer.
She was lost to him at Wolf 359, because of the Borg, because of Locutus. One day he'll forgive Picard, but not today.
Today it was time to focus on the here and now, instead of what happened when.
"You know the drill then, let the Bolos fight it, we provide strategic direction. D, Gallie, and Val you have a go, begin your attack run. Good luck gentlemen," he added to the Commanders, catching, Chakotay's sally to his fellow commanders, "To us all."
Ben found it surprisingly easy to sate his demons as watched phaser fire rippled form the Defiants into the Borg cube. It was a perfect synchronization that he imagined caught the Borg completely off guard as they fired while cloaked. A salvo that damaged the far larger vessels as the small craft rained volleys of phaser cannon fire into it.
Then the Defiants dropped cloak simultaneously to devote full power to their weapons.
Perhaps Chakotay was alone in paying attention to the single Cardassian ship as it moved out of range. Not that anyone who faced the Borg would begrudge a ship commander such a decision as a new source of aggressors drew the Borg away from a wounded ship and its beleaguered crew. He wondered what was going on over there, who had survived what had to be a losing battle, or had the Borg boarded that ship by this point, leaving them to fight a two sided battle, one within and one without.
Fighting was still going on in some parts of that Cardassian ship. Its commander was thinking that a commendation would be in order for his first officer, Glinn Telak. His suggestion of using the replicators to produce bayonets to attack the Borg physically was actually holding them off while keeping them just out of assimilation distance, -when- the bayonets were handled well.
Now it looked as if Gul Aman Evek would have the Federation to thank for his crew and ship's salvation.
Then he saw what was happening and terror grip his heart.
He had been one of those from High Command to have seen the footage of the M5 war game with the Constitution class. He had read reports from the Obsidian Order confirming Starfleet had been developing modern models. It was said that the Enterprise's M5, along with its android Data, had hacked into the Cube's network, its local Collective itself, and crashed its systems.
Information such as this were one of the main reasons the Union backed off on the talks concerning territory ending a conflict that went back to 2347.
If the reports were to be believed, right now he was a witness of the result of those developments the Obsidian Order reported. It confirmed what he recommended, that these were a people his must not go to war against.
Aman had his motivations, he has but one more son, and did not wish to loose him. He was also a patriot and knew his people would not fare well against such a technology. What he saw now vindicated him against the criticisms others had given about his recommendations.
What the Vetar was recording would show he had not grown soft or fearful, but smart.
Gul Evek, the Vetar and its crew were not the last things on Ben's mind as he watched the battle unfold, but they were hardly a priority. The Borg clearly were and it was with great satisfaction as he saw the culmination of the project he had been apart of since his posting at the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards after Wolf 359.
This is where it seemed Shelby's observation was paying off. She had watched the M5 in action on the Enterprise and noticed that while preset rotations could be anticipated, and that real-time adjustments at what approached picosecond, or even femtosecond speeds, the Borg couldn't hope to match.
An observation that was noted by the watching Cardassians, even as they slowly retreated.
Aman was proud of his crew, staying disciplined in the face of the Borg, still analyzing data as the battle raged on. They let him know that the Federation ships were adjusting their phaser frequencies far faster than the Borg could adapt to them. They couldn't tell them why, but he could guess. It was simply that the organic minds of the Collective were a hindrance to keep up with the inorganic minds of the M5s. They were thinking faster than the Collective.
Back on the Defiant, Ben thought that in a way with TSDS, the Bolos were their own Collective. An appellation that wouldn't have been brought up at any tactical meeting back at Starfleet, but it was both true and working.
As the fight continued, the Bolos were learning where to fire, how much to take down a system, estimations of where the Borg were shifting command and control functions from this sector of the cube to that one. The M5s were operated as science officers analyzing data, engineers estimating the technological capabilities and of course, war machines to make use of all of their conclusions at Faster-than-light speeds with subspace processors.
Its what the Borg also had, just the Bolos were not suffering from limitations of the flesh, as the poet in Evek would have put it.
Ben knew differently as there were limitations of the flesh that directly affected his ship and crew, ones the Bolos were quite aware of.
Inertia compensators were maxed to the limit, and more than one crewmember found the ancient wisdom of seatbelts a wise choice to make.
This wasn't a bloodless battle, despite how the Defiants dodged and weaved, in some cases anticipating where the Borg were going to fire, hits happened and the ships shook with impacts from the cube's greater firepower. Yet not a single tractor beam could lock on, nor could a single drone beam onboard with the shield frequencies shifting as fast as the phasers were.
"We need to throw more confusion into this, give them less to predict us and adapt to," Ben said to D as he thought out loud, "Am I correct in assuming that the three of you have a finer control of the cloaks?"
"Yes, Commander," D promptly replied curious as to where his Commander was going with his reasoning.
"In 2266, the Romulans attacked the outpost along the Neutral zone..." Ben began and D realized where he was going.
Sometimes it was all at once, sometimes they timed it so it was one-by-one. Gul Evek watched as the Defiants began to on the move fire-cloak-fire pattern, approaching from different vectors, sometimes firing while still cloaked.
Aman had drilled the Sixth Order to be ready in case Romulans or even Klingons tried something like this. However only in the extreme simulations was this kind of cloak-attack-recloak stratagem worked so quickly and no-one thought anyone should be able to switch so quickly outside of a simulation.
Ben noticed that the cloak actually slowed down the onslaught of damage inflicted on the cube as it was spaced out, randomized so that the Defiants could keep up the pressure of constant fire and not leave the Borg time to regenerate damage inflicted upon their cube.
He fought an inner battle then, one where he wanted to order the Defiants to cease using the cloak and resume the bombardment they had been inflicting earlier. They were maximize their firepower, so he held his tongue. He knew deep down inside himself that he wanted to resume constant barrage to make them burn faster for Jennifer.
On the Gallant Chakotay could imagine cheers when he saw a corner of the cube blown off from all the hits it was taking. He knew he pumped his fist at the evidence of damage. Another section crumbled under the assault of the three vessel's four phaser cannons, and another caving in with a perfect 'bombing' run of four torpedo launchers each.
Evek heard cheering around him on the bridge of the Vetar and could imagine it coming from any crewmember watching a viewscreen on the decks below. Aman wore a wide smile on his face as he saw the carnage wrought on the Borg. It helped to hear that the drones onboard were being wiped out.
Perhaps his crew will live to see the star of home once more. Indeed if all worked well repairs may be finished in time to join the Federation ships attacking their mutual foe. While the Borg cube was dying, it did not die fast enough for anyone's satisfaction.
Worf noted the Bolos did not use the torpedoes at first when they engaged the Borg and was about to command Valiant, never Val, to do so when he saw the wisdom in holding his tongue. The machines knew when to wait to use the photons when a section was crippled enough so adaptation or shielding was unlikely. Waiting until their attacks caused a lack of shield emitters was particularly telling.
In fact thinking of the photons gave him an idea and he gave a series of orders to his ship.
"He's insane!" Ben found himself saying out loud on the bridge of the Defiant, and D concluded now would not be the time to bring up that Commander Worf's psychological profile indicated he was quite mentally stable. Besides, in TSDS, D knew what the Valiant was doing and all three approved.
Chakotay was speechless as he watched the Valiant dive into a ship-sized hole in the cube.
"Their AI's are reckless!" Evek heard one of his crew judge as he saw what one Defiant was doing mistaking it as a decision the M5 made instead of a stratagem ordered carried out. At best he consoled himself that it would be one less of the things the Federation would have to use against their enemies, he left out even mentally, against his people.
Even among his fears and concerns, he did spare a thought, a hope that the crew beamed to the other ships. He had contemplated a suicide run during his battle with the Borg, but he wouldn't have ordered it unless it was the final option. Clearly the Federation was holding its own, so why do this?
"Registering internal explosions," Gallie informed Chakotay to calm him down. He suspected his Commander already guessed what the Valiant was doing and thought reports of the Valiant's success would alleviate the stress evident in his life signs.
Worf's crew wasn't looking. They paid attention to system readouts, torpedo loads, shield and structural integrity, everything -but- where the Valiant was going and how fast it was approaching the other side of the cube as it sowed seeds of destruction in the unshielded interior of the Borg vessel.
Worf was looking while the Valiant went -through- structures as the M5 timed uses of the interphase cloak during its short trek through the Cube's interior.
"By the Prophets..." Ro Laren whispered as she watched her ship approached what looked like a solid wall of Borg conduits, the phaser cannons redlining with how rapidly they were firing.
To her eyes it didn't look as if the M5 was going to engage the phase cloak in time.
It was quite a different mood and view down in Definat's main engineering that prompted Chief Miles O'Brian to lead the cheer as he watched a fireball erupted out the other side of the cube and the Valiant charged out of it. He could imagine Worf's roar of triumph. He was also very, very relieved.
Because more than a few Enterprise people were tapped, Captain Picard had called poached, for the Defiant crews. Deanna, Sonya, Ro and Lal were on the Valiant and didn't want to think of them going out that way.
Data would probably take Lal's passing dispassionately, but Lore wouldn't. Dr. Soong would likely not take the loss of his 'Granddaughter' lightly.
At that moment, the focus of his thoughts on the Valiant was needlessly going over the engineering systems.
Lal knew the Valiant would tell her what problems would come up, she was doing, as her father would say, 'going through the motion,' for the sake of those around her. In her quest to help keep the crew calm she considered the notion that a humorous platitude should be interjected. Her Uncle Lore often resorted to such with mixed results.
Her delivery, it turned out, was more like her father's than her uncle's, deadpan and dry as she quipped, "If you feel the need to panic, now is a good time to do so."
Sonya Gomez was the first to start laughing, partly from Lal's attempt at humor and partly the need to release the tension that harrowing journey -through- the Borg cube ladled upon her.
"Alright people, lets get back to work," Laren urged with an edge of authority in her voice that didn't match the pips on her collar. Still they got back to work, much to Sonya's relief. After that trip, Val, as she did call the Valient's Bolo out of Worf's hearing, could use some labor of love.
"Typically Klingon," escaped B'Elanna's lips as she monitored systems and fixed what damage the ship took from hits the Borg landed occasionally. The Chief Engineer of the Gallant didn't let any other words escape her lips. Yet it turned out the two words were enough to garner her unwanted attention.
"D-d-did you say something, Lieutenant?" she heard Reg stammer nearby.
"Nothing, Reg, just...carry on," the man named Reginald Endicott Barclay III heard the terrifying B'Elanna Torres not snap, nor snarl, but speak almost kindly towards him. Maybe this wasn't such a bad idea to volunteer after all. Though he didn't end up on the same ship as Deanna had.
"You know you just scared your crew nearly to death," Deanna informed Worf who sat on a bridge that was the one with a slight difference from the other two Defiants by having a station for her at along with its Commander.
It might have been suggested that she be the mediating voice to the aggressive, as if there was any other kind, Klingon.
It might be to placate the fact the Tomed had such an arrangement for the Federation advisor to the Romulan Subcommander.
It might officially be to continue her study and new doctorate of AI psychology and counseling. One justified as she really could sense the emotions of the Bolos, as she had the Enterprise's M5.
Right now Val, as she also thought of the AI, was feeling satisfied, content performing as expected. It was actually better than expected, but Deanna discerned a sense of humility that was honest as Val held didn't use the scale his crew did to measure himself, but one the Bolos held themselves to.
In the future, even Defiant may have a counselor for the Bolo as well, for the present, this one listened to the Klingon sharing the command deck with her.
"What does not kill them make will make them stronger," Worf replied to Deanna with a look that she now knew as intending to be humor for him. It was something he needed to work on, if she hadn't sensed the intent, she certainly could not have discerned it from his face or voice. Many could not have told that Worf was in a very, very good mood right now.
A disposition shared on the deck of Gallant's main engineering by B'Elanna as she too was in a good mood, although for a different reason. Despite the hits, the impossible odds of survival against a Borg cube, and the craziness of one fellow Klingon, she was in a very good mood.
She liked that both Chakotay and Gallie approved and implemented her idea after working it out with Reg. It's why she wasn't inclined to snap at the man just now.
In fact Gallie shared with her that all three Bolos liked her suggestion and he had been listening in of course as the two engineers worked out the theory. It wasn't Starfleet spit and polish approach with use of subspace field geometry, but then they didn't need to use the warp drive for propulsion at the moment anyway.
This was just a better use what would have been on standby normally.
"Just keep up the subspace jamming Gallie," Chakotay urged to throw off his own shock at what he just witnessed. Worf certainly had his own take on the battle, but then so did Chakotay. His approach to this was to support the other two Defiants once he saw they were actually holding their own. The next important step was to keep the rest of the Borg Collective from finding out what they were doing. What they didn't need was a prepared cube during the next encounter.
Next encounter...a thought caused Chakotay pause. They were going to survive -and- they had an effective weapon against the Borg. This cube would take a long time to die with 'only' the three ships 'stinging' it to death, but it would die.
"Repairs complete, we can leave at any time, Gul Evek," his second-in-command Telak reported and then was surprised when his Gul slowly shook his head.
"We have a chance to make a difference here, and payback a bit of debt. We wouldn't be at this decision point if the Starfleeters had not attacked the Borg," Aman Evek paused in his deliberations and then slowly shook his head ever so slightly, "No Telak, we're going to join in their attack, ahead full, but keep us at long range. Target where the Federation ships have been hitting the most." Afraid of his allies more than his enemies, Gul Aman Evek ordered his ship forward into the fray.
Not more than an hour later most of the Sixth Order arrived to hopefully rescue or avenge their beloved Gul Evek. Finding him not only alive but fighting along side the Federation ships. It only took a single order from Evek to have the Sixth Order join the attack. An order given -after- the jamming ceased. By now the Borg didn't have much to transmission capacity.
Hours later the larger ships of Starfleet did arrive as the Defiants and Sixth Order had reduced the cube to sections drifting debris still radiating heat and drawing occasional fire from this or that Defiant.
Back at the Unicomplex, the Borg Queen pondered the sudden silence of one cube dispatched to investigate the wormhole leading to what many called the Gamma quadrant. Another would be sent of course, but it is most puzzling what happened.