[A/N] No, this fic isn't dead, more of a vent and something I do between chapters. So I thought I'd take a few days or so out of writing my other fics to keep this little yarn going, especially since quite a few of you have asked it be updated. If anything, think of keeping this going as my contribution to the upcoming 50th.
Chapter 3: Adaptation
The Dalek saucer commander glided onto the bridge, its eye surveying the other Daleks already active and at their stations, "Report?" It demanded.
The Dalek by the sensor console responded, "Sensors confirm we have fully emerged from the rift. The Lifeline safeguard functioned perfectly and the emergency Rift Shell generated around the ship managed to latch onto a mass crossing through the void."
The engineer spoke up, "All systems operational. However, PathWeb connections have been severed. Evidence suggests complete extradimensional shift has occurred. The remainder of the assault squads that were outside of ship at time of the jump have been recovered."
"What is our compliment?"
"Eighteen Daleks remain operational. All other units are either too damaged to remain functional or the Daleks within too severely injured. There is only a small possibility that their shells can be repaired and the Daleks restored. Shall I order them to self-destruct?"
"No. See to the repairs. We do not have the luxury to lose any more of our forces."
"I obey," responded the engineer, gliding off to carry out its function.
The commander moved over to observe the monitor, "We must return to our own reality. When will this be possible?"
Their scientist spoke up, "Time generators indicate insufficient energy remaining to generate a dimensional corridor back through the rift. However, sensors confirm residual Artron energy trail consistent with Time Lord technology. This was most likely what the Lifeline safeguard responded to. Computers indicate high probability that the energy was emanated by an operational TARDIS."
The commander approached the display to examine the readings, "We must capture the capsule and its operator. If the rest of the fleet was destroyed, we may be the last Daleks in existence. The very survival of our race may depend on us. What is the status of the approaching vessel?"
"Unknown spacecraft is closing rapidly on our position. It has entered weapons range and is charging defensive systems. Shall I exterminate?"
"No." ordered the commander, "Battle computer indicates vessel may have technology useful for the Dalek cause. Analyse their offensive capability."
There was a pause as the instruments did a quick sweep, "Sensors indicate primitive phased particle weaponry and low-level shielding technology; threat level negligible. Crew compliment three thousand one hundred and fifty-six. Readings imply craft is operated entirely by crude cybernetic constructs linked by broad-spectrum hive consciousness."
"Excellent. Alter course. Prepare to engage."
A Dalek across the bridge spoke up "Alert: Incoming transmission from enemy vessel, audio only. Shall I ignore?"
"No." replied the commander, "Open communications channel."
An emotionless droning filled the bridge of the craft, the Daleks sparing each other a brief glance as the words were spoken, "We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ship. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile."
The saucer commander looked up towards the communications monitor, "We are the Daleks. You will surrender to us now or face extermination."
"Threats are irrelevant. Extermination is irrelevant. You will be assimilated."
The commander's mechanical voice went up an octave, "This is not a threat, threat indicates the possibility of the outcome not occurring; this is a fact. You will surrender."
"You will be assimilated," responded the Borg, refusing to be baited.
In an act of extreme restraint that was immensely uncommon in Daleks, the commander resisted the urge to simply blast the Borg tactical cube out of existence with a temporal missile and instead turned to its subordinate at the tactical console as the saucer rocked gently, "status?"
"They have opened fire. Transduction shielding undamaged. Battle computer indicates Borg are attempting to transmat on board."
The commander formulated its plan in less than a millisecond, "Lower shielding around bridge area. Keep defences down long enough for them to board and then reenergise."
The subordinate Dalek would've questioned their leader's judgement had such an urge not been genetically removed from its makeup, and so it immediately complied.
The commander turned to face the rest of the bridge, "Daleks to battle positions. Exterminate all hostiles but one."
"We obey." Intoned the rest. All seven Daleks with the exception of the one manning the tactical station turned from their consoles as the shielding was briefly lowered.
There was a green shimmering in the air a moment later as a squad of six Borg drones materialised.
"Fire!" cried the lead Dalek.
Before the Borg could even get their bearings, lances of blue light lit up the bridge as the Daleks mercilessly opened fire.
Two fell instantly, their inners and cybernetic components briefly exposed due to the x-ray effect of the blast. The third adapted to the attack when it struck a split-second later, as did the rest.
One of the drones advanced on a Dalek as its beam struck the Borg shields over and over. The Borg extended a fist towards the creature's dome. Assimilation tubules then shot out and made contact with the Dalekanium surface.
"Alert! Under attack!" called out the Dalek on pure reflex. There was a crackling on the metallic surface as the Dalek's shielding vaporised the nanoprobes as they made contact, the tubules gliding harmlessly over the armoured surface as they failed to penetrate or find anchorage, "Energising casing defences."
The fizzling of light on the Dalek's casing erupted into a bolt of energy up the drone's arm.
The Borg opened its mouth in a silent scream as it burst into flames on the spot before crumpling into a heap on the deck.
"Remodulate weapons!" barked the Dalek leader, not missing a beat, "Set to randomising multiphasic frequencies!"
It was over in a flash. With no recognisable frequency for their shields to possibly adapt to, the remaining drones were effortlessly picked off as the next blasts of energy punched through their barriers. The only one that remained alive was downed by a blast set to disable.
The lead Dalek approached the downed drone, extending its manipulator arm towards its face, "Scanning…Establishing direct link from Borg cybernetic components to main battle computer."
The drone shifted a moment later as its systems finished regenerating the blast injury. It flinched and twitched a few times before finally going still, its eyes vacant and wide.
The Dalek backed away, "Stand…" It ordered.
The drone pushed itself slowly but smoothly to its feet.
The Dalek looked at it carefully up and down before speaking again, "You will obey Daleks without question."
"I obey…without question," responded the drone slowly.
The commander briefly turned to the Dalek that had been attacked, "Have you sustained damage?"
"No. An attempt was made to infiltrate my casing utilising primitive low-grade nanotechnology. Borg threat remains irrelevant."
Satisfied, and with a stratagem quickly formulated using the knowledge gained from the Drone and their scans of the cube, the commander returned its attention to the Drone, "You will return with me to the Borg spacecraft."
"I obey." Intoned the drone.
A second later, the Dalek glowed luminous white before disappearing, the drone beaming back with its traditional green and blue.
The pair reappeared in a dank corridor. The walls were webbed with various dark mechanical components and alcoves, each containing a currently inactive Borg drone.
The Dalek did a brief 360 with its eyestalk, surveying the area for threats, "Advance." It ordered, facing forwards again and moving off.
The drone moved ahead of the Dalek and through an aperture, an invisible force field crackled as it passed through it.
The commander looked around the aperture and, as opposed to merely taking a second to adapt its outer shielding to pass through also, in true Dalek style; it promptly proceeded to blast everything in sight until all its problems went away. And indeed, an instant later, the field shimmered once and then vanished.
The Dalek glided inside, watching its back as drones began stirring in their alcoves having detected a threat. The Dalek glided around so it was reversing as the Borg pulled free and began closing on it, "Proceed." It ordered to the enslaved drone, "I will cover you."
The Dalek raised its gunstick in readiness.
The controlled drone accessed a panel linked to a cube-shaped structure in the centre of the room. There was a loud shunting noise followed by a groaning as the armoured surface began retracting. An eerie green glow became visible from within.
"Exterminate! Exterminate!" cried the Dalek as it opened fire, picking off the seemingly endless stream of drones, the battle cry repeating with rising intensity, "Maximum extermination!" It decreed. Its next blast was much brighter and cut a lance of death through the entire column of drones, dropping fifteen in a single shot.
The drone approached the Central Plexus and brought a hand up, firing it's assimilation tubules into the green surface.
The green points of light began flickering and shimmering. One by one the lights took on a dark blue hue as the infected plexus quickly severed every drone on the ship from the collective and reconnected them to something else instead.
As the plexus changed, one by one the advancing drones began to stagger to a halt. They looked around in a panic, some gripping their heads as their inner harmony was disrupted.
The Dalek stopped firing.
Within the drones' minds, the will of the collective began to be overshadowed by another deeper, harsher voice. It spoke one simple demand, chanting it over and over, louder and louder, until it encompassed all, overwhelmed all:
The Dalek battle computer quickly sequestered the cube's control systems, severing them from the hive as it had the drones, assuming total and absolute control of the ship and its compliment.
The lone Dalek commander drifted about the drones as they stood still as statues, eyes vacant yet somehow filled with terror.
The saucer commander stopped at the edge of a gantry to look out over the rows upon rows of drones, "Obey Daleks without question!" it decreed, its mechanical voice echoing throughout the vast space, "You will obey! You will obey!"
A thousand lifeless, tormented voices chorused their response, "We obey without question."
Thousands of light years away, in the heart of the Borg Unicomplex, the Queen emerged from the central alcove having been alerted to something that may require her personal attention.
She took a few steps forward and paused, her eyes flicking left and right as she sensed something amiss.
Yes, something was wrong…
She narrowed her eyes and swung about to face a nearby monitor. The image shifted at will to display a tactical cube hovering still in space.
She couldn't hear their voices. Not a single one.
The image shifted and zoomed in, revealing a smaller golden vessel rotating slowly in space not far from the cube, but first thing was first: She returned her attention to the lost cube.
"Initiate self-destruct." She said, sending the stream of commands out through the collective. There was a brief pause as she waited.
A sensor readout that had been taken before contact was lost appeared on screen, as well as basic scans that the drones had taken of the occupants.
The Queen regarded the Dalek image for a moment. She then checked the locations of nearby vessels and swiftly diverted two cubes and a tactical sphere to intercept.
The infiltrated cube had to be destroyed, but assimilation was top priority. In the meantime…
Deciding that more information was required, the Queen found herself doing something that she very rarely did with species she intended to simply assimilate with little regard: she decided to open dialogue.
The Daleks, for similar reasons, actually chose to pay heed to the extreme-distance hail. An image of the interior of the captured cube appeared on the Queen's screen.
A single solitary Dalek stood on the walkway. It was silent for a second, looking up at her with its single glowing eye, "Identify yourself." It demanded.
The Queen regarded the strange form inquisitively for an instant before replying almost cordially, "I am the Borg, and you…are the Daleks."
The Dalek grasped instantly the meaning behind the Queen's phrasing of her identity based on what it knew of the hive mind, "Correct." It replied, "This spacecraft is now property of the Dalek Empire. You will obey or you will be exterminated."
"You would not be the first empire to attempt to wage war on us, many have tried. And now…they are all Borg. Though I must say, they would normally at least attempt to do so in…slightly larger numbers. I also believe the definition of 'empire' implies more than one vessel."
"Numbers are irrelevant; Daleks are supreme. You will obey or be destroyed."
"Supreme?" she echoed with what could be interpreted as mild interest, "As a matter of fact, we also seek perfection…perhaps we-"
"-Daleks do not seek perfection," spat the Dalek almost indignantly, "We are already the ultimate form of life. All other beings exist to obey the Daleks or be exterminated. Explain: Why have you contacted us?"
The Queen almost seemed irked for an instant before recomposing herself, "I wish to know your intent."
"Our intent is to grow stronger. Already we have begun the process of converting this primitive vessel into a factory ship, and when the time is right, we shall return to our own dimension and take our rightful place as supreme power of the universe!" The Dalek's staccato dropped back to a normal level, "This is your only warning: If you interfere, you will be exterminated. The Borg exist now as nothing more than slave labour to service the Daleks. You have no other function; no other purpose; no other worth. Obey or die…"
The Dalek then killed the link, leaving the Queen to ponder in silence.
Evidence suggested that the Dalek spoke the truth about being from another reality, however she found the validity of its claim that they wouldn't attack unless provoked quite dubious. She also knew they would be invaluable if assimilation succeeded.
Well, just so long as she could iron out that petulant streak anyway…
The Dalek commander stopped inside of the maturation chamber that they had already repurposed into a Dalek production line. The former occupants of the tanks had long-since been exterminated and their former homes modified and upgraded to rapidly clone and mature Dalek Embryos.
The Borg slaves had already finished modifying the cube's replication system to produce Dalekanium. Mechanical arms moved and welded components into place as the first of the casings stopped on the newly constructed production line in front of the birthing chambers.
Two medical drones carefully scooped out the first ready embryo, the one the Daleks considered their highest priority, and placed it into the cradle within the casing, the gleaming black casing.
Nutrient tubes and electrodes automatically lashed out and hooked into the writhing mass of tentacles, securing it into place as the casing hissed and locked shut around the Dalek creature.
"Status?" demanded the saucer commander.
The Dalek managing the production line turned it's eyestalk to regard it, "The Supreme Dalek embryo was undamaged by the stasis procedure and has reached full maturation. Installation is complete and I will now move onto mass production of Dalek units."
"Excellent." Responded the commander as the Black Dalek stirred. It buzzed incoherently as the creature asserted control of its artificial senses.
"R-Ree..Ree…porrtt…" slurred the Black Dalek, its manipulator arm and gunstick twitching before levelling out. Its eyestalk then orientated round to look at the saucer commander, the light focusing in to regard the other Dalek.
"Are you functional?"
"I am. Casing is working at optimal efficiency. Weapons system…" The Dalek Supreme paused to exterminate a passing Borg Drone, "…operating at acceptable levels. Report? What are these creatures, why have they not been exterminated?"
"We are few in number. It was necessary to acquire additional resources. Our vessel is nearby and undamaged."
"Excellent. I will link up with our main computer to familiarise myself with the current situation. You will take command here and oversee construction. I will return to our ship and manage our operations from there."
Seven of Nine observed the Doctor across the mess hall. He was slouched back in his chair watching the stars fly by outside as he lazily stirred his tea.
Captain Janeway had been kind enough to relocate the TARDIS to somewhere out of the way. Unfortunately for Seven of Nine however, that out of the way place happened to be her cargo bay.
Regardless of the captain wanting her to keep an 'unsuspicious eye' on the newcomer, Seven had nonetheless objected to the idea of being assigned a roommate, especially since the Doctor had a bad habit of dashing in and out of the blue box at random intervals, repeatedly interrupting her regeneration cycle. She had at one point attempted to oil the hinges on the TARDIS door so it at least would stop making that loud squeaking noise every time it was opened or closed. The sound however, remained. When questioned about this anomaly, the Doctor had merely stated that 'the Old Girl likes the squeak' and then added somewhat petulantly, 'and so do I.' before running off.
He did that a lot.
She had also checked and found that Captain Janeway had, at the Doctor's apparent request, put his official position down in the main computer as 'Scientific Advisor/Crewman'. And while the self-described 'Time Lord's' mannerisms created some mild irritation within her, Seven couldn't deny that the newcomer did indeed have a wealth of scientific knowledge that could be invaluable. They had already had several very long discussions in the cargo bay that she couldn't help but describe as enriching, even if he tended to go off onto random tangents in the middle of conversations. He also seemed to have tried to balance his imposition on her by respecting her space in astrometrics and not intruding once after his initial visit while exploring the ship.
Seven's attention was distracted when a small form entered the mess hall and made a beeline for the new crewmember.
The Doctor looked down over the rim of his steel mug to find a young girl with ridges on her forehead smiling up at him.
The Doctor blinked. He then immediately beamed a smile right back and set his cup down. He leaned closer, "Hello there."
The girl smiled and bowed her head, "Hello, sir."
"I'm the Doctor, what's your name?"
"Naomi Wildman, sir, and as Captain's Assistant let me take this opportunity to formally welcome you on board this vessel. If there's anything you need, just let me know."
The Doctor smiled and shook the small hand offered, "I'm honoured. I'm also delighted to be part of the crew," he pointed to the breast of his tweed jacket, "Look: I've got a badge and everything."
He had been entered as 'Doctor Smith' in the ship's computer. This was primarily to stop the comm system getting confused and routing half the medical calls on the ship to the wrong person.
Naomi fetched herself a drink, "May I sit with you?"
The Doctor nodded at the seat opposite and Naomi climbed up, "So…what kind of Doctor are you?"
"Oh, me? I'm a Doctor of everything."
Naomi frowned, "How can you be a Doctor of everything?"
"I read a lot," he replied, sipping at his tea.
"Neelix told me you tried to help out in Engineering."
The Doctor cocked his head, "I've got to earn my keep. Though…I don't think your chief engineer likes me very much."
Naomi nodded, "Seven says it's because you tried to take the warp core apart."
The Doctor rolled his eyes, "I did that once. I mean it's not like I forgot to unplug it or anything before I started. Come to think of it, I think that may have been the part that upset her actually…"
"She also said you got into a fight with the main computer."
"The computer started it…" he grumbled before looking pointedly at her, "Okay, I'll admit it: I don't like computers…and I refuse to be bullied by them."
"So what are you going to do next?"
"Oh, just help out. I usually stay out of the way and keep to myself, unless something horribly catastrophic comes up of course, then I'll usually have to run in and save whatever planet or race is facing absolute annihilation."
"Does…that happen to you very often?" asked Naomi carefully.
The Doctor's face seemed to lose its humour, "More than I'd like."
"Is that why you came here?"
He nodded, "Just looking for some reprieve. I've quite literally gotten away from it all. Just me now… and I think that's what I need, at least for a while."
Naomi nodded, "Well I'm sure you'll feel right at home on Voyager. Once again, welcome aboard, sir. I hope you enjoy your stay." Said Naomi politely, standing back up again.
The doctor smiled, "Thank you very much, Captain's Assistant."
And with that, she departed, leaving the Doctor to return to his vigil of the stars.
He could only pray he had gotten away from it all… As in his experience, no matter how hard you try, no matter how far you run –even if you flee to the very end of time itself- something out there will invariably be doing it's very best to try and catch up with you…
"Alert, enemy vessels detected on sensors." Said the Dalek at the tactical station as an alarm wailed aboard the bridge of the Dalek saucer.
The Black Dalek glided up the ramp and onto the command level, "Report."
"Three Borg spacecraft detected on sensors. They exited a subspace corridor five million miles from here and will be in weapons range in five rels."
The Black Dalek regarded the monitor as it flickered to reveal two cube shaped ships accompanied by a slightly smaller spherical one.
Green orbs of light lit up space as the three ships began firing. Translucent beams of light were also fired, striking the hull of the Dalek cube.
"Borg spacecraft are targeting factory vessel. Upgrades to defensive systems have not yet been completed and shielding has been damaged. Risk of destruction exists!"
"We must protect the factory ship at all cost. Launch missiles. Exterminate!"
"Missiles locked onto lead vessels, firing now."
Two missiles were fired from the rim of the Dalek saucer. Trails of plasma flame streaked from behind them as they accelerated toward the two cubes. The hulls of the two vessels seemed to warp inwards as the missiles made contact, phasing through the shielding and outer hulls.
The warheads then detonated, releasing the micro-oblivion continuums contained within. As a result, space was ripped apart at those two points, utterly obliterating the pair of Borg ships in a rapture of blinding white light.
"Targets destroyed," informed the tactical Dalek. The sphere stopped firing and immediately made to break off, having received an urgent order to fall back. It transformed into a streak of green as it jumped back into transwarp, "Remaining vessel is retreating. Shall I power down tactical systems?"
"No." intoned the Black Dalek, its eye locked on the point of green light, "This transgression shall not go unpunished. It is time now, to teach these Borg the Law of the Daleks!" it orientated its eye back onto the other Dalek, "Fire vortex missile! Exterminate!"
A different missile was fired this time. Smaller and sleeker, it seemed to shimmer in and out of existence as it soared through space and then vanished with a blue flash into the transwarp conduit.
The missile, designed by the Daleks during the Time War for destroying TARDISes mid-flight and collapsing their instance of the vortex around them, had what can only be described as a cataclysmic reaction with the transwarp conduit.
From her position in the Unicomplex, the Queen cocked her head almost curiously as her display showed the missile fizzle into existence within the conduit. And she could only watch as that tiny spec suddenly pulsed with a pinprick of light brighter than a trillion suns and the very corridor itself seemed to ignite into a cascading blaze of blue light, vaporising the sphere as it caught up with it and tearing the conduit to shreds.
The Queen's eyes widened in a rare show of shock as the cascade carried on down the length of the conduit for over twenty thousand light years, all the way back to the hub, where the resultant blast wave blossomed out into a plume of blue flame that shattered the nearest three apertures and reduced a further six Borg vessels to ash and debris before finally fizzling out.
After a moment of stunned silence, the Queen turned sharply back to her other monitor and quickly ordered the additional six vessels closing via transwarp on the Dalek ship to break off and retreat.
She realised that the matter would bear some serious thought, and considering they were the Borg, that was quite an achievement on the part of the Daleks.
The Black Dalek turned away from the subspace scans with an air of indifference, "Vortex missile moderately effective. Damage report?"
"Factory vessel has received minor damage to shields and outer hull. Repairs are in progress. No interruption in Dalek production lines has been reported."
"Excellent. We will now begin tracking the enemy's TARDIS. It must be captured without delay."
Meanwhile, several light years away…
"Anything to report?" asked Janeway as she walked onto the bridge to take over from the nightshift.
"No, ma'am, been smooth sailing all night." Replied Harry Kim as he walked round from the captain's chair.
Janeway smiled and cocked her head as she circled round and settled into her seat, "Good to hear. Smooth is just the way-"she was violently cut off however as the entire ship abruptly rocked to one side, almost hurling her from her chair.
"So much for smooth sailing…" she grunted, pushing herself back up and staggering as the alert sirens sounded and the ship was jarred again, "Report?" she shouted, looking back as Harry retook his station.
"We've been knocked out of warp! It looks like we just passed through some kind of massive subspace distortion that totally disabled our warp field."
Harry read off his console, "Structural integrity is down by fifteen per cent and I'm getting minor casualty reports from six decks, but other than that everything looks okay."
Janeway moved to look at the sensor readouts, talking as she went, "Senior staff, report to the bridge." She regarded the display, which currently showed a graphical representation of subspace and the massive gash that appeared to stretch across it. Several branching cracks trailed off from the main distortion.
"Look at it…" said Harry, "It's as if something stabbed a hole through subspace across the length of this sector. I haven't seen anything like this since…since that incident." He said, and Janeway just nodded her understanding. Just because the Greek letter Omega hadn't actually popped up on every single monitor it didn't mean she couldn't see the similarity.
Janeway quickly linked into the astrometric sensors to do an extended range scan, "And I think I've found the source." she murmured, regarding the screen carefully, "Now, that is interesting…"
"What is, Captain?"
"I find it interesting that the rupture emanates from almost the exact same coordinates our new friend says he entered our reality from."
"You think there's a correlation?"
"Would be an amazing coincidence if there wasn't. Bridge to Doctor Smith. Doctor-"
"-Already here," cut in the Doctor, who Janeway found was already standing at the entrance to the bridge by the turbolift, "Had a feeling you might call me."
"Did you now?" asked Janeway guardedly.
"That felt like a subspace tear. Jilted your space warping field a bit, I'm guessing."
"And the source was near the breach I came into your world through, also right?"
"Your guesses are very good today, Doctor."
"And you think therefore I might have something to do with it."
Janeway was quiet for a second, "Do you?"
He was quiet for an equal amount of time before replying evenly, "No…at least not directly anyway. Here, let me see…"
He approached quickly and looked down at the readout. His hands flicked quickly over the console with oddly practiced speed, adjusting the scanning frequencies, "What are you doing?" asked Janeway.
"Just checking for a few exotic energy signatures that you might not be familiar with…" he was quiet for a moment, somehow reading the information being fed back at quite inhuman speed as it scrolled down the screen, "A multidimensional disruption field layered with a temporal dispersion cascade?" he narrowed his eyes, fingertips drumming off the console in thought, "Strange…I haven't seen anything like that since…" The Doctor trailed off and his hands suddenly froze in place, his eyes staring ahead but seeing nothing.
Janeway looked sidelong at him along with Harry Kim. She leaned in as the blood seemed to visibly drain from the Time Lord's face, "Doctor? Doctor, what is it? Do you know what's going on?"
As if to compound her suspicions, the doctor swallowed a large gulp before speaking again, "Captain…" he finally said, his voice small, "I suggest you try and put as big a distance between your ship and those coordinates as quickly as possible…"
"Why?" she demanded.
Finally, he turned to look at her, and for the first time since they'd met, there was no look of whimsical amusement or childish irritation in those old eyes. No, all she saw now was guilt and fear, "Because I think we all may be in very big trouble…"
To be continued…
[A/N] Ahh that was a fun little reprieve. Always good to change things up on occasion. Hope you had fun with this little instalment, I know I did.
Catch you in Chapter 4: Negotiation.