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- After a terrible and extraordinary event which leaves both the commanding and executive officer positions vacant, Ensign Jason Fredricks takes command of the USS Leviathan, joining the USS Renown in the Pollux system to assist another vessel in need.
Acting captain's log, stardate 83165.2, Ensign Jason Fredricks reporting. The crew of the Klingon vessel IKS Chot has captured Captain Taggart, and regrettably, I am forced to report him as MIA. Commander Fuller has died of wounds inflicted by the Klingons, and I, being the highest surviving senior officer, have assumed command. Repairs are still underway after the Klingons' attack, and we are accompanying the USS Renown to the Pollux system to assist the USS Khitomer.
Jason Fredricks is sitting in the captain's chair of the USS Leviathan, pondering his failure to save his captain, Masc Taggart. Charlie Morgan and a new tactical officer, named Tala Jones, enter the bridge, and Charlie introduces the two. Jason informs her that his only requirement is dedication to her duty. Charlie then asks what he should do since he is no longer filling in at the tactical station, and Jason has him move to the ops station. Ernie Hauser reports they have entered the Pollux system, and Charlie reports that the USS Khitomer is twenty kilometers ahead of their location. They receive a hail from the Khitomer; when Captain Jay Yim asks why Taggart is absent from the bridge, Jason tells him the bad news. Yim asks if the Leviathan can assist them, as their engines are inoperative and they are caught in a subspace rift. Captain Vo'Lok of the USS Renown, who accompanied them to assist the Khitomer, tells Jason to run scans on the anomalies while the Renown helps the Khitomer. Lucas Wells runs multiple scans of the anomalies, but can find nothing coherent. Jason tells him to keep trying.
Act I: Invasion
Jason enters the ready room and sees a picture of a Denobulan girl on Captain Taggart's desk, presumably his daughter. Hannah Freeman informs him that the Renown is hailing them, and he returns to the bridge. Vo'Lok inquires as to their findings, but Jason tells him they have found nothing. Just then, the Renown's tactical officer reads a Borg vessel coming through one of the anomalies. Several more come through, and the two crews soon realize that this is a full-blown invasion. Most of the Borg warp to the Vega system, and Vo'Lok orders the Leviathan to pursue. A Borg vessel attacks the Renown, and the Leviathan remains to assist. After the vessel is destroyed, Vo'Lok again orders them to go.
The Renown continues helping the Khitomer as Vo'Lok makes plans to depart for Vega as soon as possible. His tactical officer asks if it's prudent to send the Leviathan by itself, but Vo'Lok states that he has confidence in them. He then silently bids his missing friend – Taggart – farewell.
Hannah and Lucas both wonder why the Borg would attack them so suddenly, but all Jason can think about is how he failed to rescue his captain. Hannah reassures him that it wasn't his fault, and was out of his control. Ernie interrupts, informing them they have entered the Vega system. Rather than take on the whole Borg fleet, the crew settles for the three in their flight path to the planet.
They first take on two probes, which are no match for the Leviathan's weaponry. Then, they fight a sphere, which causes them some minor damage. Lucas scans Vega IX, finding large numbers of Borg already on the planet. Jason decides to take Tala and Ernie on his away team, but Tala protests, citing a Starfleet regulation about captains entering a dangerous environment. Jason tells her that people are dying while they argue about who will be on the away team, and she concedes.
Act II: Assimilation
Upon materializing on the planet's surface, the trio notices a Borg landing ship that is bringing drones directly to the surface. They realize they must hurry if they are to save the planet. They reach a building where a very anxious ensign and a calm, middle-aged woman are standing. The woman, who is the colony administrator, tells the ensign to lower his weapon. She informs the away team that her name is Willa Post, and the ensign is named Kolez. The team prepares to beam up the remaining colonists, but Charlie indicates that their transporters are being jammed. Ernie locates the jammer, which is only a few kilometers from their position. Kolez equips them with phaser rifles and a grenade kit for Jason.
Back on the ship, Lucas and Charlie attempt to discover the cause of the transporter disruptions. They both agree that the Borg have some kind of jammer. Vo'Lok hails them to inform them that they have successfully defeated the Borg in the Pollux system. He asks why Jason is not there, and Lucas reluctantly tells him that Jason took an away team down to the planet against their orders. Vo'Lok tells Lucas that there will be consequences, but puts the topic to the side for the time being. He also tells him that their fleet will arrive in the Vega system in less than thirty minutes.
The away team makes its way to the far end of the colony, finding a fortified Borg structure there. They determine that it is the jamming station, and commence to attack it. Tala and Ernie provide cover for Jason while he runs ahead to disable the station. Jason reaches a console and uses it to lower a force field housing another console. A large tactical drone awakens, turning its attention to them. Tala tries to take it down, but it is heavily shielded. Jason quickly remembers the grenade satchel given to him by Kolez and throws a grenade at the drone. The grenade explodes but doesn't seem to harm the drone. Ernie shoots it with his phaser just to be sure, and the drone does, in fact, show signs of weakness. The trio opens fire on the drone and destroys it. Jason then causes a feedback pulse through the Borg's network to destroy all of the jammers at once. The structure explodes, and Hannah informs them that transporters are active once more.
Act III: No Further
On the Leviathan, Charlie informs Lucas that most of the remaining colonists have been beamed aboard. Lucas asks where the away team is, but before Charlie can answer, Jason, Tala, and Ernie enter the bridge. Lucas just barely avoids telling Jason that he was worried about him. Jason replies that it's good to see he was missed. Fleet Admiral Jorel Quinn then hails them, and is curious as to why Jason is in command, asking what happened to Captain Taggart. Jason tells him what happened to them, and Quinn offers condolences. He then orders them to join up with the fleet to drive out the remaining Borg ships in the area. Charlie wonders how Quinn knows Jason by his first name, with Jason replying that Quinn was his mentor at the Academy.
The Leviathan meets up with the fleet. Jason tells Ernie to bring the Leviathan in line with the other vessels and gives the order to fire on the nearest Borg cube. After a few moments of constant pummeling from the Starfleet vessels, the cube is destroyed. The Borg mount a retreat, and Quinn once again hails, calling the Leviathan to return to Earth. Upon reaching the Sol system, they are hailed by Captain Yim. He congratulates them on a job well done, and in particular he commends Jason.
Jason transports to Earth Spacedock and heads to Admiral Quinn's office. Quinn tells him to sit down, and then offers Jason a proposal to make him permanent commanding officer of the Leviathan. Jason is flattered but isn't sure he's up to the challenge. Quinn believes he is, and Jason concedes.
The senior officers of the Leviathan attend a memorial service for the fallen officers of the battle. Jason kneels at Taggart's headstone, apologizing for not being able to save him. Tala comforts him, reminding him how many lives he saved at Vega. Quinn and Vo'Lok attend, both of them concluding that Jason would have made his captain very proud.
The senior officers return to the Leviathan and prepare to depart. Jason enters the bridge and Tala announces his presence to everyone. He walks over to his chair and takes a seat, saying that they should get underway. Lucas asks him where they are heading, and Jason replies, "Let's see what's out there."
- Teaser • Jason Fredricks • Charlie Morgan • Tala Jones • Lucas Wells • Ernie Hauser • Hannah Freeman • Jay Yim • Vo'Lok • Act II • Kolez • Willa Post • Act III • Jorel Quinn
- Referenced only
- Teaser • Masc Taggart • Henry Fuller • Act III • Travis Murray • Mercedes McMary • Mars Lionel • Marvin Pierce • Koja Nara • Rhett Dobson • Cristiana Vladi • Gregory Yates
- Unnamed USS Renown personnel • Unnamed Federation civilians
- Referenced only
- Teaser • IKS Chot
- Teaser • Pollux system • Act I • Vega system • Act II • Vega colony, Vega IX • Act III • Sol system • Earth Spacedock • Earth
- Teaser • Starfleet Academy
Governments and organizations
Background and trivia
- This chapter is an adaptation of the Star Trek Online tutorial missions "Communication Breakdown", "Assimilation of the Innocent", and "Welcome to Earth Spacedock". Its title comes from a retired Federation tutorial mission by the same name.
- It is an extensive rewrite of "The Price of Liberty", Star Trek: Federation Legacy's original second chapter.
- It received a comprehensive revision in January 2016.
- Various characters that did not appear in "The Price of Liberty" were added to this chapter.
- A 2020 revision of "The Price of Liberty" left a small plot hole in this chapter. Charlie now temporarily fills in as the ship's tactical officer in the former chapter, and in the latter, he was formerly introduced as the "chief of operations". This has since been fixed with some modified and additional dialogue.
- Line in the Sand at STAR TREK Expanded Universe, the Star Trek fanon wiki
- Line in the Sand at Memory Gamma, the Star Trek fan fiction wiki
|v - e - ?||Star Trek: Federation Legacy|
|Tour of Duty (original)||"Khitomer Crisis" • "The Price of Liberty"|
|Tour of Duty||"The Price of Liberty" • "Line in the Sand"|
|Klingon War||"Stranded in Space" • "Diplomatic Orders" • "Hide and Seek" • "Stop the Signal" • "Researcher Rescue" • "The Kuvah'Magh" • "War Is Good for Business" • "Treasure Trading Station" • "Secret Orders" • "Task Force Hippocrates"|
|Spectres||"Skirmish" • "What Lies Beneath" • "Everything Old Is New" • "Night of the Comet"|
|Klingon War (cont.)||"The Ultimate Klingon" • "The Doomsday Device" • "Past Imperfect"|
|Wasteland||"The Lost City of Paradise" • "The Undying" • "Installation 18"|
|Romulan Mystery||"Under the Cover of Night" • "Saturday's Child" • "Empress Sela"|
|Upcoming content • undeveloped content|
"Acting captain's log, stardate 83165.2, Ensign Jason Fredricks reporting. The crew of the Klingon vessel IKS Chot has captured Captain Taggart, and regrettably, I am forced to report him as MIA. Commander Fuller has died of wounds inflicted by the Klingons, and I, being the highest surviving senior officer, have assumed command. Repairs are still underway after the Klingons' attack, and we are accompanying the USS Renown to the Pollux system to assist the USS Khitomer."
Jason Fredricks rested his chin on his hand, staring at the viewscreen. He sighed, thinking of how the Leviathan's last mission could have gone differently – how perhaps he could have done something to save his captain. "I failed you, sir," he whispered to himself.
The chief of operations, Charlie Morgan, entered the bridge accompanied by a female Andorian officer. "Sir," he said. "This is our new tactical officer from the USS Renown."
"Tala Jones, reporting for duty, sir," the slender but sturdy Andorian said, standing at attention.
Jason quickly shoved his gloominess aside, standing to look her over. "At ease," he chuckled. "I'm not your senior officer."
"Well, technically..." Lucas Wells began.
Jason glanced over at him. "Technically, I am, but I'm still an ensign like the rest of you. All I require is your dedication to your duty, as Captain Taggart would expect of you."
"You've got it, sir," Tala answered.
"Good," Jason smiled. "Take your post, please."
Tala walked over to the tactical station and began running a diagnostic.
Lucas walked up to her. "Weren't you at graduation last year?" he asked.
"Mhm..." she replied, a bit puzzled. "Why do you want to know?"
"I just never really got to know many people at the Academy, but I recognized your name when you said it. It's a very lovely name if I might add."
She blushed. "I don't think I caught your name, sir."
"Here on the Leviathan they call me Lucas Wells the Magnificent, or Lucas for short."
This elicited a grin from her. "Well, I know I've never met you before, Lucas. I would certainly remember you by your charming personality."
"I like her," Lucas whispered to Jason in approval.
Jason shook his head. "Always the go-getter."
Lucas winked. "That's just how I roll." With that, he returned to his station.
"Sir, we are entering the Pollux system," Charlie reported.
"Drop out of warp," Jason ordered.
"Reducing speed to impulse," Ernie Hauser replied.
"The Khitomer is twenty kilometers dead ahead, sir," Charlie added.
"They are hailing us, sir," Hannah Freeman reported from her station.
Jason nodded. "On screen."
Captain Jay Yim appeared on the viewscreen. "Captain... er, ensign? Where's... Taggart?" he asked, puzzled at why this young ensign was sitting in the captain's chair.
"I'm Ensign Jason Fredricks. Captain Taggart was captured by the Klingons, and Commander Fuller is dead."
"I see." Yim raised an eyebrow. "Well, we've been caught in a subspace rift, and our engines are down. Can you assist us?"
"We'll do what we can, sir."
"Hail coming in from the Renown, sir," Hannah said.
"On screen, ensign."
Captain Vo'Lok appeared on the screen. "Ensign, we have run a preliminary scan of the rifts, but I would like you to investigate more thoroughly while we assist the Khitomer."
"Yes, sir," Jason answered.
"Very good. Vo'Lok out."
The channel closed.
"Scan the nearest anomaly," Jason ordered, gesturing at the anomaly with his hand.
"Scan complete. It's definitely a rift in space... but how it got here or what's causing it..." Lucas shook his head. "It would be little more than conjecture at this point."
"I don't want speculations, Lucas. I want answers."Lucas sighed. "Well, I'll certainly try to get you some... sir."
Jason entered the ready room and sat down at Captain Masc Taggart's desk. He noticed a picture of a young Denobulan girl on the desk and assumed it to be his daughter or another close family relation. He picked it up to examine it closer.
"Why'd you have to go so soon, sir?" he mumbled to himself. He then set the picture down. "Wherever you are out there, I will find you. I promise..."
He sighed and put his face in his hands. After a moment, he looked up, eyes jumping about the room. He had been in the ready room many times before, but never while sitting behind the desk. He wasn't sure whether he felt comfortable or awkward sitting in Taggart's chair.
Hannah's voice came over the internal comm. "Sir, we're being hailed by the Renown again," she said.
"Understood," Jason responded. He stood and exited the ready room. "Put it through."
Vo'Lok appeared on the viewscreen again. "Have you found anything yet, ensign?" he asked.
Jason looked to Lucas, who shook his head and sighed in frustration. "No, not a damn thing."
"My science officer is at a loss, captain," Jason replied.
Vo'Lok stroked his chin thoughtfully. "I do not understand what could be causing the—"
The Renown's tactical officer chimed in. "Sir! I'm detecting several unidentified vessels exiting the anomalies. It looks like..."
"Looks like what, lieutenant?"
Vo'Lok raised an eyebrow. "Are you positive?"
The tactical officer nodded. "Confirmed, sir. Five Borg signatures emerging from the two nearest anomalies. At least ten more from the others..."
"My God, it's an invasion!" Lucas blurted out.
Vo'Lok's face became very serious. "Ensign, we must be very careful in handling this situation. We have had almost no contact with the Borg for close to thirty years; their sudden appearance here will most certainly spell trouble for the quadrant."
"What are your orders, sir?" Jason asked.
"Bloody hell. Captain... several of the Borg ships are warping out of the system!" Charlie interrupted.
"What's their course?" Jason inquired.
"Long range scans indicate they're heading for the Vega system."
Jason nodded. "The Vega colony. A Federation settlement."
"You must take the Leviathan to the Vega system, ensign. I will contact the fleet and have them meet you there," Vo'Lok said. "Do not engage any enemy contacts unless they fire upon you first. Your primary goal should be discovering their intentions there."
"With all due respect, sir, isn't there only one intent the Borg ever have? That is, if I remember my history classes correctly?" Charlie asked.
"Indeed," Vo'Lok agreed. "Assimilation is their primary motive, but they have been known to use other tactics at times. Once again, monitor them closely; do not engage."
"What about you, captain?" Jason asked.
"We are still assisting the Khitomer with repairs. We will join you as soon as possible. It would be unwise for any of us to remain here much longer."
"Understood, sir. Leviathan out."
The channel closed.
Jason turned to Ernie. "Helm, set course for the—"
"Sir! One of the Borg spheres is breaking off from the others. It's attacking the Renown," Tala reported from her station.
"Open fire on the sphere."
The Leviathan's phaser banks lit up as they charged, sending energy pulses out toward the Borg ship. The Renown also opened fire on the sphere. Both ships pummeled the sphere relentlessly until the Renown finished it off with a volley of torpedoes.
"Hail coming in from the Renown again, sir," Hannah said.
Jason nodded. "Put it through."
"Fredricks, what are you doing?" Vo'Lok asked.
"We saw the sphere attack you. We were just—"
Vo'Lok shook his head. "Do not worry about us, ensign. I have not commanded this vessel for twelve years simply to lose it to the Borg. Your main concern must be the colony on Vega IX. The Borg cannot be allowed to accomplish what they've set out to do there. Go, now."
"Aye, sir," Jason replied. "Ernie, lay in a course for the Vega system, Warp 3."
"Plotting course. Engaging warp drive," Ernie complied.
The Leviathan entered warp.
"Sir, we've cleared all Borg drones from the Khitomer. We'll have them ready to fly within the hour," the Renown's first officer said via comm signal.
"Very good," Vo'Lok replied. "Do not linger once repairs are completed. We will need to make haste to the Vega system."
"Aye, captain," the first officer complied.
The comm channel closed.
"Sir, do you think it wise to send the Leviathan to Vega on its own?" the Renown's tactical officer spoke up.
"I do not see that we have another choice at the moment," Vo'Lok responded. "I knew Captain Taggart for many years. I trust his choices in selecting his officers. Ensign Fredricks will not fail his mission."
The tactical officer nodded, returning attention to his station.
Vo'Lok folded his hands. "Farewell, my friend," he said quietly.
The Leviathan continued on its course to the Vega system.
"How long until we reach Vega?" Jason asked.
"Two minutes, sir," Ernie replied.
"This doesn't make sense... why would the Borg attack us out of the blue like this?" Hannah pondered.
"The Borg aren't known for knocking before barging through the door," Tala replied.
"But what drove them to suddenly show their ugly faces?" Lucas asked.
"Who knows," Jason sighed, rubbing his forehead.
"Everything alright, sir?" Tala asked concernedly.
"No, it's not. Captain Taggart's gone – maybe dead – and it's my fault. On top of that, these damned Borg had to show up..."
"There was nothing you could do, sir," Hannah replied. "We did our best, but the Klingons had the upper hand."
Ernie cleared his throat. "Entering the Vega system now, captain."
Jason sighed. "How many Borg ships are in the system?"
"Almost twenty..." Tala's eyes grew wide at the startling revelation.
"How many in a direct line to the planet?"
"Alright, let's get to work. We have to assume that the Borg have already sent forces down to Vega IX. We'll need to go down there and coordinate an evacuation."
"Hold on just a damn minute – that is – wouldn't that be violating our orders, sir?" Charlie blurted out.
"Sir, he's right," Tala agreed. "Captain Vo'Lok gave us strict orders to—"
Jason shook his head. "People are likely being assimilated down there as we speak. Are we just gonna let them be taken by the Borg like the Klingons took Captain Taggart?"
Tala sighed. "You're right, we can't ignore that fact. However, we were ordered to avoid conflict. Are you willing to accept any consequences that might happen because we disregarded that order, sir?"
"Yeah. This one's all on me. Lay in a course to the nearest vessel, Mr. Hauser."
The ship accelerated to impulse and went into a small debris field. Two probes lay directly ahead of the Leviathan, with a sphere trailing them.
"Lock phasers, standby on photons."
"Aye," Tala responded. She targeted the first probe.
The phaser banks glowed orange, shooting at the probe. The probe returned fire, shaking the Leviathan mildly. Tala continued firing upon the probe as the other two vessels approached.
"Its shields are at 67%," she said.
"Lock weapons on the next probe and fire torpedoes," Jason replied.
The photon torpedo tube lit up as several torpedoes were expelled from it at high-speed, hurling toward both probes. They both exploded in a brilliant display of smoke and light.
"Not much of a challenge, are they?" Lucas mused.
Jason nodded his head in agreement. "Odd. From what I've heard, they normally put up more of a fight than this."
The sphere made its move toward them. It opened fire with its powerful plasma beams and torpedoes. The Leviathan shook from the torpedo impacts on the shields.
"Our shields are down to 73%, sir," Tala reported.
"Initiate attack pattern alpha. Full torpedo spread," Jason said.
The Leviathan sustained a direct hit to the port warp nacelle. One of the wall panels on the bridge exploded.
"Bring us about!" Jason shouted.
Ernie brought the Leviathan around to the other side of the sphere. Another phaser volley hit the sphere, damaging it.
"The Borg's shields are dropping sir," Tala said.
The Leviathan spewed one last volley of photon torpedoes at the sphere. It exploded violently, leaving only dust and debris.
Jason breathed a sigh of relief. "Helm, take us into a polar orbit. The planet's electromagnetic interference should keep us pretty well hidden there. Science, scan the surface of the planet for Borg."
"Yes, sir," Ernie responded.
Lucas mulled over data on his screen. "I'm detecting large numbers of drones on the planet," he replied. "Looks like their invasion is advancing pretty rapidly."
Jason sighed. "Tala, Ernie, you're with me." He stood up and headed for the turbolift. "Lucas, you're in command until we get back."
"Sir, may I remind you of the Starfleet policy regarding away teams sent into dangerous environments? It's highly recommended that the captain remain—" Tala began.
"We don't have time for this, Tala. The Borg are busy assimilating our people while we are bickering about who gets to go on the away team. The people of Vega need us. Come on."
She sighed. "Yes, sir."
The three of them entered the turbolift.Lucas sat in the captain's chair. "Well, this is new," he mused. "I like it."
The away team materialized on the planet.
"What is that?" Ernie asked, pointing to a giant Borg ship that had landed on the planet.
"It looks like one of those probes we destroyed earlier," Jason replied.
"I didn't realize they could land on a planet..." Ernie trailed off.
"The Borg appear to be mounting a full invasion of the colony," Tala said, a hint of fear in her voice.
"Quickly. We have to find the colony administrator," Jason said, walking toward the settlement ahead of them.
They reached the outer limits of the town, where several Borg were waiting to greet them. They quickly shot them down and moved on.
"Away team, come in!" Lucas called from the ship, static partially muffling his voice.
"What is it Lucas?" Jason asked.
"Jason, I've got some bad news. Our scans indicate the Borg have already assimilated more than half of the planet's inhabitants. You'd better hurry."
Jason sighed. "Understood. Away team out."
The trio reached another group of Borg that were surrounding several colonists.
"Help us!" a colonist shouted frantically.
Jason shot one of the Borg, causing the rest to turn their attention to the away team. They managed to kill the Borg fairly easily and free the colonists.
"These Borg are much different than the ones I've heard about," Tala commented.
"Yeah, why aren't they adapting to our weapons?" Ernie asked.
"After the attack in 2381, Starfleet introduced new modulation algorithms that were resistant to Borg adaption and applied them to the next line of phasers," Jason replied. "We also haven't had contact with the Borg for thirty years, so they're not used to the newer phaser models. That means we have the advantage for now, at least."
Ernie nodded. "Makes sense."
"You really studied up," Tala said.
Jason chuckled. "All I did when I was young was study weapons technical manuals."
They came to a building where a Starfleet ensign and a civilian woman were standing. The Saurian ensign was holding a phaser rifle and pointing it in their direction.
"Stay away, Borg! I-I'll shoot!" he shouted, terror in his voice.
"Don't worry; we're friends!" Jason replied, approaching cautiously.
"Lower your weapon," the woman told the frightened ensign. "Do it!" she said more sternly upon seeing his hesitation.
The trio walked up to them, Tala visually scanning their rear flank for approaching Borg.
"I'm Ensign Jason Fredricks of the USS Leviathan," Jason introduced himself.
"Thank you for assisting us, ensign. I am Willa Post, administrator of the Vega colony," the woman replied. "This is Ensign Kolez." She pointed at the still nervous officer next to her.
"We have to transport the remaining colonists to the Leviathan."
"I will round up as many as I can here," she said, nodding.
Jason tapped his combadge. "Fredricks to Leviathan, prepare to beam up survivors."
"Sir, we can't get a lock on anybody down there," Charlie responded, his voice even more full of static than Lucas' was. "Something is inhibiting the use of the bloody transporters."
"Damn," Jason cursed. "Alright. Keep me updated, Charlie."
The channel closed.
"It looks like we're gonna have to find what's jamming the transporter signal," he told the others.
Ernie walked toward the back end of the town square and opened his tricorder.
He began scanning. "Sir, I'm detecting a large power signature a few kilometers south of here."
Jason walked up to him. "That sounds like what we're looking for."
"Before you all go trail blazing, take these phaser rifles. They do more damage than standard phasers," Kolez said, handing them all phaser rifles.
He also gave Jason a satchel equipped with photon grenades.
"Be careful with those," he warned him. "They are small but powerful."
"Thanks," Jason replied. He turned to address Tala and Ernie. "Come on, guys. It's time to finish this."
"Right behind you, sir," Ernie replied.
On the Leviathan, the crew was trying to cut through the Borg's transport inhibitor.
"What could be blocking the signal?" Lucas pondered.
"It could be any number of things. Radiation, interstellar phenomena, temporal anomalies..." Charlie suggested.
Lucas shook his head. "No, it's gotta be something the Borg are doing."
"They may have constructed a jamming station on the surface, or one of their ships could be scattering the bloody signal."
"Sir, I'm receiving a hail from Captain Vo'Lok," Hannah said, interrupting their conversation.
"On screen," Lucas replied, turning his attention to the viewscreen.
"Ensign, where is Mr. Fredricks?" Vo'Lok inquired.
"He's... taken an away team down to Vega, sir. I'm in temporary command," Lucas said, his gaze falling to the floor.
Vo'Lok's face turned quite stern. "And why is he down on the planet?"
"The Borg are in the process of invading the planet. He's trying to get the colonists evacuated."
Vo'Lok sighed. "Perhaps I should not have entrusted this task to such a young and inexperienced crew. You understand that there will be consequences for disobeying my orders?"
"Sir, with all due respect, we're trying to save the colony!" Hannah piped up.
"Captain, our duty to Starfleet is to help those in need, especially our own citizens, is it not?" Lucas asked. "If we're gonna be court-martialed for refusing to abandon a helpless colony—"
"I believe you have made your point, ensign," Vo'Lok interrupted. He sighed. "We will discuss this issue later. We have informed Starfleet of the situation, and we are preparing to rendezvous with the fleet in the Vega system. They should arrive there in less than thirty minutes. Are you out of range of hostile ships for the moment?"
"Yes, sir. We're maintaining a polar orbit for the time being," Lucas replied. "We'll be waiting for you. Leviathan out."
Back on Vega IX, the away team jogged toward the other side of the colony.
"There, sir. Look!" Tala pointed at a fortified structure several hundred meters ahead of them.
The trio picked up its pace, ducking behind some rocks when it got near enough to see the structure clearly. Jason switched the rifle to sniper mode and aimed at a tactical drone standing next to a control panel. He shot it down, but not without attracting some unwanted attention.
"Damn. There's a force field protecting the main controls for this thing," he said, examining the structure more closely.
"Don't worry sir. We'll take care of the other Borg while you disable it," Tala replied.
Jason nodded. "Alright, let's go."
Tala and Ernie shot down several Borg with their rifles as Jason made his way to the control panel. Suddenly, a Borg turret fired in his direction.
"Jesus!" he yelled as the blast barely missed him. "I could use some cover fire here!"
Ernie fired upon the turret as two more turrets opened fire.
"Watch out for the turrets!" he called to Tala.
She ducked to miss the fire of the second turret. Jason shot the third one down and then ran to a control panel outside the force field. Ernie managed to shoot the second turret while dodging a round of fire from it. Jason typed speedily at the console as more Borg approached from the south.
"Jason, hurry!" Tala shouted. "I don't know how much longer we can hold them off."
"Okay, give me a second..." Jason continued working on the console as Ernie swung around behind him to take out several more Borg.
The console beeped and the force field lowered.
Jason sighed. "I did it! It's down."
He hurried over to the main console that was previously behind the force field. He tried to access it, but a heavy tactical drone, standing in an alcove next to him, activated.
"Uh, sir..." Ernie's voice trailed off.
Jason picked up his phaser rifle. Tala spun around and fired on the Borg, but her shot barely even affected it.
"This one's shielded, sir!" she yelled.
Jason remembered the grenade satchel that Ensign Kolez had given him and replicated a grenade. "Watch out!" he called.
Ernie jumped out of the way as Jason threw the grenade at the drone. It exploded in a red glow, but the Borg remained standing.
"Damn!" Jason shouted in frustration, seeing that the Borg was still alive.
Ernie shot the Borg in the arm. Its arm sparked, revealing that the grenade did more damage than they initially thought it did. Tala, realizing that, opened fire on the Borg, with Jason following suit. The drone collapsed in a heap in front of them.
"A true work of art," Jason said with a half-grin. He walked back over to the console and began typing. "If I send a feedback pulse through the system, it should destabilize the whole network," he said.
"That would certainly save us from having to deactivate each array manually," Ernie responded.
Jason continued typing. "That should do it. I suggest we clear out though; this console's likely to explode."
They ran away from the Borg array as the console overloaded, exploding with a bright flash.
"We did it!" Jason cheered.
The three of them formed a brief group hug.
Jason's combadge chirped. "Captain, can you hear me?" Hannah asked over the comm.
"Yes, Hannah, go ahead," Jason replied.
"You did it, sir. Transporters are now operational."
"Beam us up and begin transporting survivors immediately."They began to dematerialize.
"We've got almost all of the colonists aboard now, sir," Charlie reported.
"Good. What about the captain?" Lucas inquired.
"Right here, bud," Jason said, grinning. He, Tala, and Ernie had just exited the bridge's aft turbolift.
"Oh, there you are. I was starting to wor— I mean, I was about to get a strike team ready to go rescue you from the Collective," Lucas replied. "Just as a precaution."
"Good to see you missed me, Lucas," Jason chuckled.
"I just hope you didn't have too much fun without me. What did you guys do, buy a summer cottage?"
Jason put his face in his palm and Hannah let out a soft laugh.
"Is he always this much of a—" Tala began.
"Yes," Jason interrupted her. "...yes, he is."
Lucas narrowed his eyes at Jason, who replied with a glare, telling Lucas to get out of his chair.
"Oh... I guess you want this back, eh?" Lucas stood up and walked over to the science station.
"Sir, we're being hailed by Admiral Quinn of Starfleet Command," Hannah said.
"On screen," Jason responded, sitting down.
Fleet Admiral Jorel Quinn appeared on the viewscreen. "Captain Taggart... oh... Jason. Where is Captain Taggart?" Quinn asked, a bemused look on his face.
"He was... killed by the Klingons, sir," Jason replied.
Quinn sighed. "He was a fine officer, and he'll be missed. Unfortunately we have no time to mourn right now. Our fleet is moving into an offensive position to push the remaining Borg ships out of the area. We need the Leviathan to join the fleet."
"Good luck, Jason. Quinn out."
The channel closed.
"Bloody hell. Admiral Quinn knows your name?" Charlie questioned.
"Yes. He was my mentor at the Academy," Jason replied. "Ernie, set course to meet up with the fleet."
"Aye, captain," Ernie complied.
The Leviathan rendezvoused with the fleet and took formation.
"There are several Borg cubes still in the system," Charlie reported.
Several of the Starfleet ships moved in on the nearest cube and opened fire.
"Helm, take us in. Nice and easy," Jason ordered.
Ernie acknowledged and engaged the impulse engines.
"Fifteen kilometers and closing," Ernie replied.
"Weapons locked on target, sir," Tala said.
"Ten kilometers. In range, sir," Ernie said.
"Fire!" Jason said strongly.
The combined force of the Federation ships fired a massive broadside at the cube.
"Coordinate our attack with the other vessels."
"Adjusting attack trajectory with the other ships, sir," Tala replied.
Several volleys of torpedoes were launched at the cube, causing some visible damage to its hull.
Jason squinted at the viewscreen. "Status of the cube?"
"Its hull is at 69%, sir," Tala reported.
"Continue this attack vector."
The cube began to show large amounts of damage, as multiple explosions could be seen coming from within it.
"The cube's hull is at 34%!"
The cube managed to destroy two of the Starfleet ships before it was finally vanquished. The shockwave of its explosion disabled the nearest vessel and rocked the others a bit. Lucas let out a happy shout and Tala breathed a sigh of relief. The remaining cubes were all either destroyed or heavily damaged at that point.
"The last of the Borg forces are retreating, sir," Charlie said, smiling from ear to ear.
"Sir, we're being hailed by Admiral Quinn again," Hannah reported.
"Put him on screen," Jason replied.
Admiral Quinn once again appeared on the viewscreen. "Well done, Leviathan. The remaining Borg vessels are retreating to their own space. Please report to Earth Spacedock so you can be debriefed for your next mission. Quinn out."
The channel closed.
"That went better than expected," Lucas said happily.
"Indeed," Jason agreed. "Helm, set course for the Sol system, Warp 5."
"Aye, captain. Course plotted," Ernie replied.
The Leviathan dropped out of warp in the Sol system. Several ships were being brought into drydock for repairs, the Khitomer being one of them.
"Sir, we are getting a hail from the USS Khitomer," Hannah said.
"On screen," Jason replied.
"We just heard about what happened on Vega IX. Well done, Fredricks," Captain Yim said.
Jason smiled. "Thank you, captain."
"With some time and training, I believe you'll make a good commander. Good luck, ensign."
"Thanks, sir. Same to you."
The channel closed.
Jason's smile faded. "Ernie, take us in."
The Leviathan moved into a docking position with Earth Spacedock.
Jason materialized in the transporter room of Spacedock moments later.
"Welcome to ESD, Ensign Fredricks. Admiral Quinn's office is through that door, to the right, and then a left," the transporter officer said.
"Thank you," Jason replied.
He entered Quinn's office.
"Please, sit down, Jason." Quinn motioned for him to take a seat, and then paused before continuing. "How would you like to be in command of your own ship? Starfleet Command has authorized me to promote you to lieutenant commander immediately, and if you are willing, they have agreed to give you command of the Leviathan."
Jason's gaze met Quinn's. "But... I thought... what about Captain Vo'Lok's report, sir?"
"What about it? He practically lauded your performance on the planet. Coming from a Vulcan, that's a high compliment."
Jason breathed a sigh of relief. "That's good to hear, but I've only been out of the Academy for eight months. Forgive me if I don't feel like I'm qualified for command, not to say that it's not a very tempting offer. I'm just not sure if I can make the long-term commitment."
"Jason, what you showed today is that you are more than capable of handling yourself out there. You obviously have a knack for command, and if you ask me, it would be foolish to turn this down."
Jason nodded. "This is what I always wanted, isn't it?"
"I wouldn't have recommended you for this command had I thought you weren't ready. So, what do you say?"
Jason grinned. "Oh, hell. Why not?"
On Earth, a memorial service was being held in honor of Captain Taggart, Commander Fuller, and all the other officers who died before and during the attack on Vega IX.
"It is now that we lay to rest our fallen comrades. Let us not, however, forget their sacrifices today. Let us all remember that they died so that the rest of us may go on living in peace," the minister said.
Lucas and Ernie hung their heads in sadness.
Jason knelt at the grave of Captain Taggart. "I-I'm sorry, sir. I wasn't fast enough to save you..." he trailed off.
Tala knelt beside him and put her arm around his shoulder. "Jason, you did everything you could to save him, and then you went and saved hundreds of lives on Vega IX. The captain would be proud."
Jason looked into her eyes and nodded slowly. He put his head in his hand.
After a few moments of silence, the minister began speaking again. "I will now read the names of the deceased. Captain Masc Taggart, Commander Henry Fuller, Lt. Commander Travis Murray, Lieutenant Mars Lionel..."
Admiral Quinn was also among the throng of people attending the memorial service. His gaze fell upon Jason, who was still kneeling at the grave of Captain Taggart.
"He had great respect for his captain," Vo'Lok noted.
"...Ensign Marvolo Piers, and Ensign Koja Nara of the USS Leviathan..."
"He did indeed," Quinn replied. "Masc chose Jason to be his tactical officer over a list of more experienced officers. He told me he saw something very special about the boy. I told him that he had not made a mistake by choosing him. He would have made Masc very proud."
Vo'Lok nodded. "I concur. He shows great promise."
"...Captain Rhet Dioni, Commander Crista Vlædos, Lt. Commander Gregory Yates, Ensign..."
Jason stood. "Goodbye, captain," he said, saluting his fallen captain's grave.
After the service, the senior staff returned to the Leviathan. Jason exited the turbolift and stepped onto the bridge.
"Captain on the bridge!" Tala shouted.
All of the bridge officers stood at attention.
Jason looked around the room at all of them and let out a small grin. "At ease," he replied.
He walked over to the captain's chair and sat down. He stared at the viewscreen for a moment before speaking.
"I think it's time we got underway. What do all of you think?" he asked.
"Depends. Where are we headed... captain?" Lucas inquired.
Jason paused for a moment. "I don't know. Let's see what's out there."He rested his chin on his hand as Ernie plotted a destination on the helm. The Leviathan warped out of the system.