“I sssay we just ssshoot it, Captain,” Boots hissed.
“I am inclined to agree,” Helvetica said to him. As the conversation continued, she poked through the reply options, grinding her teeth. “Does this dialogue ever end? It’s like I’m playing a Foundry mission. Which one of these conversation trees leads to ‘a gunfight ensues.’” A few more clicks through blocks of text (that she’d already read) and she finally found something that she liked.
“I was sent by upper management, they are not happy with your numbers. Stand down and I promise to be gentle with the audit.”
“Good one,” Rocky-Road said.
“Resistance detected,” the Borg creature said. “Hard sell mode engaged.”
Rocky-Road blinked and hissed with a sharp intake of breath. “I…don’t think it believed you.”
The supervisor gestured towards the window and the USS Oxford. Outside the Borg sphere, the tractor beam glow increased in intensity and the starship shuddered as bulkheads began to …
“Resistance detected,” the Borg supervisor said, the volume of its voice swelling in an uncanny crescendo of voices. “Activating Supervisor 341 adjunct 2 of Store 551 of 600. Stand by for direct interaction.”
The trio didn’t kick in the door to the vinculum (aka Manager’s Office) but they also didn’t knock. Apparently, these two possibilities carried equal weight in the world of the Borg Collective. The drone behind the incongruously large desk that dominated the room leapt up from his seat as Helvetica, Boots, and Rocky-Road entered the room with such alacrity that it almost seemed as if he’d left his suit behind in the chair as he advanced.
No, Helvetica realized suddenly, he did leave his suit behind in the chair.
The abomination standing before them looked less like a man and more like a collection of man-parts assembled haphazardly in the silhouette of a man-shape held together by a loose collection …
“Hey there,” the Borg chef said. “Can I perhaps implore you to stop shooting the employees? They’re just trying to do their job.”
“They tried to asssimilate usss,” Boots hissed with a sneer. He pointed his rapier directly at the throat of the drone and growled.
Helvetica put up a silencing hand and Boots stepped back. “The reception we’ve been given has been less than peachy,” she said. “In fact, I’d say that the hard sell is what goes for a greeting around these parts. They stop doing that and I’ll stop shooting them.”
“They are just doing their jobs,” the chef drone said.
He shook his head and went about wiping down the counter in front of them—which, to Helvetica, appeared spotless. As he worked, she inspected him. He looked to have once been human. Slightly taller than she even as he stood with a slightly stopped posture, perhaps from years of tending …
The team arrived in the “Food Court” by following signs set up on the green glowing walls. With every step they took, the cabled texture of the walls began to dissolve into smooth paneling, and the floor began to show signs of tiles instead of a mass of wires and glimmering lights. Boots seemed perturbed by the slow transformation but Rocky-Road seemed to take it in stride.
In fact, her nose started twitching as they approached the end of the hallway. In the distance, Helvetica could barely make out a dimly lit room that appeared that it could be filled with people milling about slowly. At this distance, they looked like indistinct forms, flittering through each other like a herd of zebra crisscrossing.
“I smell…fish,” Rocky-Road said. “I love fish.”
Boots sniffed the air. “I sssmell… Lots of humanoidsss, dry humanoidsss.”
Helvetica glanced sideways at Boots, he shrugged and said, “What? We eat humanoidsss …
“First time assimilation subscribers receive bonus energy for six months and free implant upgrades for signing up for lifetime contracts,” the Collective’s chorus boomed over a hidden PA system. “Certain conditions and restrictions apply.”
Helvetica, Boots, and Rocky-Road beamed into what looked like an area less crowded with drones than any other section of the ship. Slightly below the center there was an area that the sensors showed was filled with aisles of boxes. The space seemed to have been set aside for storage. The vaulted ceiling soared over the small team as the poked through the contents.
The Borg had laid out the room in a very human-standard warehouse configuration, with tall racks of shelves running in one direction with regular openings to move between them. The floor appeared to be a composite of metal plates, thick rubbery wires, and green lights. This texture continued across every surface—from floor to ceiling—although …
“Lower your shields and prepare to be assimilated.”
“Do these guys do customer service work?” Helvetica asked.
She thumbed through the various options on the captain’s console. Photon torpedoes: check. Phasers: check. No mute button.
“Ssshould we ssshoot them?” hissed Ensign Boots. “I would very much like to return fire.”
His reptilian claws clattered on the controls—the sleek panels were nice looking but ill-suited for his cold-blooded physiology. Helvetica couldn’t say she disagreed with him, she opened her mouth to give the order, but the ship’s computer interrupted her.
Enemy facing shield has failed, the on board computer reported.
“Now would be a good time for a torpedo,” the game piped up afterwards. It paused a moment when Helvetica glanced upwards with eyebrow raised and then continued sheepishly, “Would you believe I voice tutorial and tool tips?”
Helvetica’s finger hovered over the “fire volley” button but an emotion passed over her. She deactivated the captain’s reticle and …
“What happens if we get to the bridge and the Captain is…dead?” asked Rocky-Road.
Boots shifted on his feet, all of the leather on him creaking. “If sssooo then I nominate Helvetica as Captain. Ssshe’sss most sssenior and I’d rather ssshoot than command the ssstarssship.”
“We will know in a moment,” Helvetica said. She went through her belt-full of weapons, once by one checking their charge and firing mechanism. She’d offered Boots one of the guns but he shrugged it off. Instead she gave the weapon to Rocky Road–a phaser, she made sure it was set on stun.
She checked the turbolift panel. It would arrive at the bridge in approximately ten seconds, if she were reading the little glowing line correctly. Just in case, she levelled both rifles at the door and fluttered her finger over the triggers.
Boots took this as his own cue, drew his rapier and pistol and nodded.
Rocky Road …
Ensign Rocky-Road proved to be extremely clumsy with the phaser rifle that Helvetica gave her to defend herself—she couldn’t manage to hold the rifle and her tricorder at the same time. This led to a series of misfires, fumbles, and one instance where the ensign blasted open a wall panel. To prevent this in the future, Helvetica traded the rifle for a pistol and this seemed to resolve the problem.
As they paraded through the corridors, Helvetica started to notice that the number of Borg has precipitously dropped.
“Shields restored,” the ship’s computer announced. “Intruders still present on decks two, three, and one.”
“I think that means the Borg have control of the bridge,” Rocky-Road said, licking at an ice cream sundae.
Now that Helvetica had someone to give the damn things to, she’d been feeding every bit of ice cream to the cat-ensign. Rocky-Road seemed perfectly pleased about this and now wore, jingling …
By this point, Helvetica had obtained quite the collection of firearms from the various Borg drone’s in the corridors. Her armament now consisted of a multitude of pistols and rifles–entirely disruptors and phasers. She’d taken to keeping a phaser pistol in one hand and a disruptor rifle in the other.
The Borg apparently had not learned their lesson and continued to deliver weapons and snacks to Helvetica as she stormed through the hallways. Good thing too for those catfish sandwiches; killing Borg was hungry work.
She had just polished off another cluster of drones (and drank the Saurian Brandy she found on them) when she heard the strangest caterwauling vibrating through the nearest door.
For the most part, the Oxford had extremely boring corridors. Grey carpet, white paneling on the slightly curved sides, and black screens lining the walls that would alternately display bright crimson RED ALERT or a cross-section of the ship. …
The strangely limited spaces to move through continued as Helvetica was forced to ride the turbolift repeatedly to walk down eerily similar corridors–however, unlike before, said corridors were filled with target dummies in the form of Borg. And, very similar to World of Warcraft, they were overflowing with goodies!
After each fight, Helvetica would paw through the dead bodies piled up on the floor to see what interesting thing she could pilfer.
Already she was wearing two personal shields, wielding a phaser pistol in one hand and a disruptor pistol in the other, and had put a banana split into her backpack. The last item seemed a little out of place on a Borg drone, but she figured the drone might have gotten it from one of the replicators she had fixed earlier–otherwise it would have been a succulent.
The most recent drone had body armor, which she stripped off with glee.
As she …