Star Trek: Trinity
Through the viewport of his ready room aboard the starship Trinity, Reilly Carroll saw the muddy red-brown sphere of the planet Mars slowly rotate, thousands of kilometres away, and he couldn't help but smile at the realisation that he was back in the Sol system.
His ready room, located just off the bridge of the starship he'd commanded now for six years, was his sanctum sanctorum. He stood on the raised section of floor located beneath three wide, sloping viewports. There were couches beneath the viewports, but Carroll stood, his arms crossed. He'd spent those six years of command leading his ship through hell and high water; he'd fought the Klingons and the Tholians, the Dominion and, most horrifically, the Borg, brought the planet Nikiia into the Federation, made first contact with a newly warp-capable species and here he was, back home.
He'd visited Earth in the intervening years, of course, but there was something about this return to the Utopia Planitia yards for a major overhaul that felt… final. Like he'd finished his mission, like it had been a success, and his ship, after years of exploration and battle, was finally getting a chance to rest.
They'd come into drydock barely half an hour before, and he'd yet to get started on the required paperwork. Mentally, he decided that the first thing he'd do would be to grant the leave requests of his crew. Trinity would be in dock for a few months at least, long enough for most of the people under his command to get back to their homeworlds for some R and R.
Sighing, he turned away from the viewport, and headed down the steps from the raised level towards his desk.
The walls of the ready room were decorated with memorabilia from his career in Starfleet; framed portraits of many of the ships he'd served on, a painting presented to him by the new Nikiian Federation council member upon the entrance of his world into the UFP, a copy of his graduation diploma from Starfleet Academy and a few other bits and pieces of human and alien, mostly Nikiian, objet d'art he'd collected.
It was starting to get a bit cluttered, he thought as he lowered himself into the seat behind his desk. He'd put on a bit of weight, he'd realised, and he made a mental note to try and lose it by the time the ship would be ready to get under way again. Activating his desk terminal, he brought up the folder of leave requests, and was about to start when the intercom chirped.
"Red alert! Captain to the bridge!" came a harsh bark from his executive officer.
Reilly was on his feet a second later, hurtling towards the door onto the bridge. It hushed open for him, and he stepped through into a world of chaos. By all rights, his crew should have been relaxed, safely ensconced in drydock as they were.
Instead, the bridge, the nerve centre of his ship, was a hive of activity.
More significantly, the lights were dimmed, and red alert lights blinked crimson. "What the hell is happening, Ariana?" he demanded as he crossed the bridge towards the captain's seat.
The tall, brunette woman that had been his right hand for the last six years got to her feet as she approached. Commander Ariana Kaine, his XO and trusted friend, said "Command has just ordered all spaceworthy ships out of dock. We've got an emergent situation, sir."
"Any clue what it is?"
"No sir," Ariana admitted, "but I've already begun disengaging us from the dock and powering up the warp engines. Starfleet is mobilising every ship in the sector."
Reilly's blood froze. "Whatever it is, this must be big."
"Yes, sir," she agreed. "And I can only think of one thing that would elicit this kind of reaction in Command."
He shared with her a significant look, before he said "The Borg."
Trinity was speeding away from the drydocks of the Utopia Planitia yards at maximum impulse just moments later. Seated in the centre of the bridge, Reilly couldn't help but squeeze the arms of the command chair so tightly he thought his fingers might break.
To his right sat Ariana, and the seat to his left was unoccupied; in front of him sat his senior flight controller and second officer, Joshua Day, and his operatons manager, Aquiel Uhnari, at the helm and ops consoles, respectively. Behind him, he knew, science officer Lieutenant Selana and Alira, his ex-wife and long-time tactical and security chief, would be standing at their posts; the tension on the bridge was palpable, among his senior staff and the rest of the crew. They'd all fought the Borg before, twice now, and they were all terrified.
They had every right to be, Reilly thought.
He didn't need to be a Betazoid to sense that the same tension and teror had permeated the entire ship, and probably the entire Sol system. Already, half a dozen ships had gathered, all at full alert with their weapons charged.
"Do we have any more data from Starfleet Command?" Carroll asked.
"Yes, sir," Uhnari responded, the young Haliian woman's voice catching in her throat. "Massive subspace distortion matching the frequencies for Borg transwarp portals has been detected in the outer reaches of the system."
"This could be the invasion we've been worrying about for years," Alira remarked from tactical.
"Any idea how many cubes, Lieutenant?" he asked Uhnari, ignoring the Nikiian woman's doom and gloom.
"No, sir," Uhnari said, "but considering the size of the distortion…"
Reilly shut his eyes for a second as she trailed off, blocking the rising panic in his chest. He knew the Borg better than most, having once been their 'guest' for a week and having spent several fear-filled days as a resident of a timeline overrun by them when they'd successfully prevented the launch of Zefram Conchrane's warp ship, but he and his crew had escaped assimilation then, if only be the skin of his teeth, and they would now.
"Alira, I want all power to shields. Load all torpedo bays and charge all phaser banks," he ordered. "Mr. Day, standby for evasive action. Aquiel, patch us in to fleet's transmissions. As soon as they've got a strategy, I want us acting flawlessly in concert with it. Lieutenant Selana, what can you tell me about that distortion?"
"Little more than Lieutenant Uhnari could," the Vulcan woman answered. "It matches our records for a distortion caused by Borg transwarp conduits, though it is significantly larger and more concentrated than we have seen in the past."
"What about the nature of the conduit itself?" he pressed. "Would there be anyway to collapse it or destabilise it once it's been opened?" Or before, he added silently.
"None that I can gather from these readings," Selana said, delivering her grim read out with her standard, uninflected tone.
Reilly envied her emotional control, and not for the first time. "Okay," he said, and took a breath. "Patch me into the intercom."
"Channel open," Ariana assured him. He would be speaking now to the entire ship.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is the captain. As I'm sure you've already surmised, we've been ordered out of dock in the face of an emerging threat to the Sol system. It is my solemn duty to inform you that we believe this threat to be linked to the Borg. You are all well trained. You are all consummate professionals. Many of you have fought the Borg before, and the rest surely know what to expect. Be assured that we are not alone in this fight, that more than two dozen ships stand ready to defend Earth, Mars and the rest of the quadrant. Stay at your posts, and stand by for combat. Carroll out."
With a slashing motion across his throat, he signalled Kaine to cut the channel.
"Sir," Uhnari said suddenly, "the conduit is opening."
"On screen," he said.
The forward viewscreen shimmered into life; there was a starscape displayed, studded with various starships. Reilly spotted the Challenger, a Galaxy-class behemoth, and the Bonchune, a Nebula-class science ship, among a few smaller vessels, but he realised that the gathered fleet, though rapidly swelling in size, would be no match for a full Borg invasion, and would likely not match up to even a single cube.
And then, just beyond the cube, an anomaly burst into life, like a sickly green blossom amongst the stars.
The bridge collectively held its breath, and Reilly imagined the same thing happening throughout the solar system… and a single Borg sphere emerged. A second later, the anomaly collapsed.
Reilly's pulse pounded in his ears, remembering how long and hard Trinity had fought against a Borg sphere not a year earlier; a sphere that had already suffered heavy damage at the hands of a Romulan taskforce. This was a fully armed and operational sphere, he had no doubt, and though it was much smaller than the cubes the Federation had suffered such great losses against in the past, it was nonetheless a very real and present threat.
"Alira, I want firing solutions on that sphere immediately," he said. "Prepare a full spread of quantum torpedoes. Lieutenant Uhnari, do we have anything from Command as far as a fleet strategy goes?"
"Captain," Selana said suddenly, before Aquiel could answer. "The sphere is exploding."
"What?" Reilly spat; the fleet hadn't even fired.
"My God," Ariana said beside him.
They watched, dumbfounded, as the sphere suddenly erupted into azure flame. It flew apart, nothing but a momentary fireball, and was gone. A small ship flew from the conflagration, and Reilly strained to make it out against the flames. There was no mistaking that familiar saucer-shaped primary hull and pair of nacelles…
"It's one of ours," Joshua Day said in disbelief. "Intrepid-class."
"Intrepid-class?" Ariana repeated, before realisation dawned on her. "It couldn't be…"
"Voyager," Day said, finishing her thought. He checked his read outs. "It is. It's them!"
Relief flooded Carroll. He'd known that Voyager had been lost in the Delta Quadrant for more than seven years, trapped in the farthest reaches of space, far from home and facing hostile alien species with no kind of support from Starfleet. He hadn't followed the story as closely as he would have liked, but he'd known the basics, and he'd also known that they should still have been very near the terminus of the border between the Beta Quadrant and the Delta Quadrant, still tens of thousands of light years from Federation space.
And now here they were: home, and delivered there in the middle of a Borg sphere, no less.
"We're getting a transmission from Command," Aquiel announced, barely suppressing a relieved giggle. "All ships are ordered to secure from red alert and stand down defensive posture."
On the screen, Reilly saw the plucky little starship speed towards the waiting arms of its Federation brethren, and couldn't help but join the rest of his bridge crew in a grin. "By all means, Lieutenant, do as they say," he ordered, "and tell Captain Janeway she and her crew are welcome home."