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©01 The Media Desk & the USS RAVEN (IFT)

     Veron Nova

Part 1
        The Captain was getting himself worked up into a frenzy. "The Borg have adapted." Lukas said. "You can't rely on phase shifted neutrinos to indicate the presence of a transwarp conduit any more."
        Several of the other officers took his word as Gospel and looked at the officer conducting the briefing, waiting for him to answer Lukas yet again.
        "I know that captain. But it is still our best indicator. They have not, as yet, been able to totally mask the signature of the conduit. When a ship passes through it, they still create a neutrino wake." Commander Becker said.
        "I found two conduits in Halian space that didn't give off any more than background radiation. By now the entire network of conduits will have been retrofitted. They could terminate one right here in orbit with us and we wouldn't know it until a cube popped out." Lukas waved his arms to make his point.
        There was a murmur from the crowd.
        "We are working right now to measure the short particle emissions from the conduit arrays. We should have that technology on line in a matter of weeks, then it will be deployed to the field ships."
        The captains and admirals looked to Lukas for comment.
        Right after the briefing started it degenerated into a Commander Becker versus Captain Lukas debate on the State of the Borg.
        Becker was well versed on the various technologies used by and against the Borg, he had theories that explained how and why they did things. He had investigated Borg incidents and had even participated in autopsies on several drones. But he had only been in one engagement against them. Lukas, on the other hand, was one of a bare handful of Star Fleet officers that had extensive experience with the Borg and lived to, or at least were willing to, talk about it.
        And Lukas did much more than talk about it.
        Some say he was obsessed.
        He said they were right.
        "That's fine. What do you have behind the nul-tachyon detector?" The Commander looked surprised but Lukas continued. "As soon as they realize we've pulled another rabbit out of our hat, they'll change and adapt and it'll be useless."
        Becker took a breath. "We are constantly working Captain. We take your reports and readings and run them through everybody in our organization. We're trying to unravel their engine signature from background noise, we're mapping their neuro-net signals, we'll find another rabbit. It's just a matter of asking the right questions and the time to find the answers."
        Lukas nodded slowly. "Then. Commander. I'll get back to my ship and find you some more questions, and buy you some more time."

        Ellingsworth was walking quickly and with purpose across the central plaza of the Starbase.
        "John!" Lukas called out to him. The man didn't stop. He smiled and nodded and kept walking quickly. Lukas ran to catch up with him. "What's going on."
        "I'm being followed. Don't look. Security is watching me."
        Lukas had to glance back, but he kept walking with the other man's brisk pace. "Why do I smell Mister Kada in this?"
        Ellingsworth chuckled. "He is. Up to his elbows."
        "I don't want to know."
        "There's Chuck." He glanced off to one side. The other crewman gave them the high sign. "OK. All clear. Where do you want to go now?"
        Lukas blinked. "That's it?"
        "Yeah. Now we wait on security to pick us up and deny everything."
        "Terrific." Lukas sighed. "Let's stop in here." He turned toward an officer's bar. "I need a belt before I deny everything."
        True to form Starbase Security waited outside the bar until the two officers came out. "Captain. We'd like a quick word with you and your crewman." The expressionless Vulcan said.
        "Yes sir."
        "We know you have a certain individual named Doctor Leftover on board your ship."
        "You mean Mister Kada?" Lukas said gravely.
        "Yes, sir. The same. It seems he has many names, and as far as we can tell, none of them are actually his."
        "That's the man." If Lukas didn't know better the Vulcan's eyes seemed to be smiling.
        "He was spotted in a secure area on the base. We'd like to speak to him about what he was doing there, and inspect a robot he had with him."
        "Grunt." Ellingsworth said.
        "Excuse me?"
        "He calls it Grunt."
        "Of course Commander." The Vulcan nodded. "But your bridge officer denies he has beamed back on board the RAVEN and we cannot find him or ... Grunt, on the base."
        "If my bridge officers say he's not on board, he's not on board." Lukas defended his crew.
        "Do you have any idea where he might be?"
        Lukas answered honestly. "He seems to come and go as the mood suits him. It wouldn't surprise me to find out he shipped out on a Ferringi ore trader."
        The security man nodded to his backup. "Very well, Captain. If you hear of his whereabouts before you leave, let us know."
        "Will do."

Part 2
        Several hours later the RAVEN prepared to leave orbit.
        "All personnel accounted for sir." Ryan said from his station. "All stations report ready for departure."
        "All personnel?" Ellingworth questioned.
        "I didn't say they were all on board. I said they were accounted for."
        "Is Mister Kada joining us on this little cruise?" Lukas asked him.
        "He will be." Ryan grinned.
        "Tell me later." Lukas looked at the screen and nodded to the helm. "Let's go. Set course for the Veron Nova. Warp five as soon as we're clear."
        "Course locked in, full impulse."
        The RAVEN broke orbit of the station and headed for deep space.
        Just as they were cleared for warp a nearby ship hailed them.
        "Sir." Ellingworth's grin was a mile wide. "A personal shuttle is asking permission to come aboard."
        "That things a wreck. What's it doing so far out?" Ziggy said looking at his displays. "It's leaking propellant like nobody's business."
        Ellingsworth nodded. "He says he has a present for you."
        "Bring him aboard. I'll be in the shuttle bay. Send a security detail. And a damage control party, just in case."
        "Aye, sir." Somebody said.

        Lukas was trying to look seriously angry as the hanger repressurized. But the sight of the piece of space junk the man had found someplace and had gotten this far from the Starbase in made him laugh in spite of himself. It seemed to be held together with pressure tape and rust.
        One of the RAVEN's security people had to help the man get the hatch open, tugging on it until the hinges groaned.
        "Well. Good to see you captain. I was getting worried. You're late. I'd lost about half my air waiting on you." Kada said with a salute.
        "OK. What's going on?"
        The man seemed depressed the Captain didn't greet him with open arms.
        "What did I have to answer a bunch of questions from Starbase's Finest about?"
        "That." He jerked his head toward a large piece of equipment Grunt was pulling out of the ship.

Part 3
        "How did he get the prototype of the nul-tachyon detector out of the lab?" Ziggy asked Lukas across the briefing table.
        "He didn't say. Although I think he had help." Lukas said nodding to himself. "Inside help."
        "Does it work?"
        "He said it should. Mel's working on it right now."
        The discussed exactly what a nul-tachyon was and how one would go about detecting it, and what it could tell them about Borg highways in space.
        Right in the middle of their discussion the ship came to a dead stop.
        "What happened?" Lukas demanded from the com.
        "Lieutenant Barnhart ordered it sir." Ensign Andreduci answered.
        "OK. Why?"
        "To do a space walk sir."
        Deadpan stares answered Lukas' own blank expression. "I'm on my way." He said when he could speak.
        "He's in engineering sir."
        "Then I'm going there."

        Three of them were talking at once explaining that the detector would work, it should detect Borg conduits, and the Borg wouldn't be able to tell they were using it.
        Hackett was trying to get him to agree to tie it into weapons control.
        Barnhart was drawing pictures in the air showing him the power routing to it.
        Dickerson waxed poetic about the fine points of following a conduit using the readings until they came to an intersection.
        Lukas listened. And nodded, or muttered agreement as needed.
        "How long before we can get back underway?"
        The engineer looked at the computer specialist. The specialist looked at the weapons officer who then looked at the helmsman. Who looked at the computer man.
        "What?" The captain asked.
        "It's gonna be awhile. We have to actually run a separate conduit to a tachyon scoop mounted on the weapons pod to..." The engineer finally said.
        "How long?"
        "Maybe a day."
        "Half. Pull anybody you need, get anything you have to have. I'm free fall rated and can handle my share of tools. Mr. Kada said his robot was made to work in space, get it too. I want this ship back underway in twelve hours." He paused. "With the detector working."
        "Yes sir." The three answered as one.
        "You know, that's one thing I like about this ship. No matter what your assigned post is, if something needs done, and you're not doing something else, they'll grab you and suddenly you're an engineer or weapons control officer or whatever." Ziggy said watching a layer of multi colored scum form on another half drank cup of coffee. "It's never dull here."
        Mike nodded. "Which is why I'm still here." He got up to leave. "The day somebody says 'Welcome to Star Fleet' is the day I find another job."
        Ziggy looked back at his cup. "But the Cap'n needs to find a better cook."
        Mike glanced at the ugly man working away at something in the galley. Sounds of random violence and cursing in several languages indicated dinner for the work crew was right on time. "Mention that to Ryan, he can put it in the next crew report."

        Grunt demonstrated that while he... errr... it, was slow and ponderous under the influence of gravity, in zero-G, it was something of a ballet star.
        They ran the pipe from engineering to the pod as fast as it could be fabricated. Out a spare exhaust port unused since the refit, along the hull, up the pylon to the weapons pod, then to the scoop mounted high and clear over the ship.
        "This is going to work?" Ensign Price said fighting space sickness to help guide the tubing into its mounts.
        "Yeah. It'll work." Chuck Vega answered. "Give me some more slack."
        Finally it was done and checked for leaks and continuity.
        They fired up the detector and waited.
        "Something's wrong." Specialist Dubin said. "Mel's screwed up again." He adjusted the field sensitivity on the unit.
        "The readings are right." Hackett said.
        "Then there's a conduit right in the neighborhood." Dubin said with wide eyes. "Tachyon control to Captain Lukas."

        It took them some slow maneuvering, and some tinkering with the ship's main sensors and some refining of the nul-tachyon detector's settings, but then they were looking at a slim snake-like path through the system they were sitting in. Just outside of the system it branched into two continuing paths that disappeared into the void.
        "OK. What do we do about it?" Dickerson asked the captain.
        "Nothing. We chart it, and do nothing."
        "We've got to tell Star Fleet command." Ellingsworth said.
        "No way." Ryan answered. "We know there are Borg listening devices all over the place. And a few spies as well. They'll find out we know how to detect them, and then the detector will be useless."
        Lukas nodded. "Yeah. Let's resume course for the Veron Nova. We'll continue our mission. I need to assign somebody to the detector. Gather the information and file it. We'll figure out a way to get it to Star Fleet without the Borg knowing we have it."

Part 4
        "And not even a 'Thank you Mister Kada.' 'Great Job Doctor Leftover.' 'You risked getting locked up for treason or grand theft or whatever, and it really paid off.'" Kada moaned to the Chief of Operations in the RAVEN's Nest.
        "I know the Captain appreciated your part in getting the detector." Lieutenant Commander Rhoades answered. "He'll remember it and mention it sooner or later."
        "Don't you say a word to him. I want to see how long it takes him to come around."
        She zipped her lips and grinned.
        "There's still some turkey soup left. Wanna bowl?"
        "I still want to know where you came up with real whole turkeys."
        "Same place I found a nul-tachyon detector. In fact, I think they were more upset about the turkeys than the detector."
        "Don't tell me any more. But I will take some soup."

        "So this was your idea?" Mister Dubin said to Lt. Barnhart.
        "Oh no, no, no, no." Mel smiled. "The Captain thought it was a good idea. You detected the first Borg conduit with it. You seem the most comfortable with it. You're a natural."
        "A natural." He flopped into the chair in front of the detector console. He noticed that the scan of the system they were passing through was complete. He hit the buttons that brought up the information for inspection. There were no conduits on the screen, he filed it for reference to astrometrics. "Yippie. Pardon me while I dance for joy."
        "It could be worse."
        Dubin looked at him.
        "Or maybe not." He grinned.

        The RAVEN neared the Veron Nova.
        "Scan for the debris of the science station." Lukas said.
        "I don't have any debris, but I do have the station. Coming up on the screen." Dickerson said.
        "That's odd." Lukas said looking at the small, rather dated but still serviceable station as it rotated slowly to their perspective.
        "I'm showing twenty five life forms. Most of them human, two mixed race, a couple of Doridians... No Borg." Ryan said from another post.
        Hackett added to the mystery. "The only ships in the area are a couple of unmanned scouts assigned to the base. Nothing bigger than us has been in this system for months."
        It was Ellingswoth's turn. "The station is hailing us. One Doctor Fortaan is calling."
        "Put it on."
        A stately looking older human woman was on the screen. "Greetings. Welcome to the Veron Nova. May I help you Captain?"
        "Yes doctor. Please don't take this the wrong way, but you're supposed to be dead."
        She smiled charmingly. "Sorry to disappoint you. But we are here."
        "So I see." He nodded. "I've got a dozen questions. I'd like to bring you over and discuss the reports we got from Star Fleet."
        Her smile wasn't quite as charming now. "I'd like that Captain, but I've got crucial experiments running here that I cannot leave just now."
        "I see. Perhaps I'll beam over when we're in range then."
        The smile was back. "Excellent Captain."
        The viewscreen returned to the exterior of the station.
        "I'm no doctor. But I'd say that woman was alive." Ellingsworth commented.
        "I'm no Betazoid. But I'd say that woman was hiding something." Ryan said.
        Counselor Rowell nodded to the Captain. "That obvious wasn't it?"
        Lukas nodded. "Yeah. But what?" He looked at the station. "Helm, set a spiral course. Take us in by the scenic route. Tachyon station."
        There was a pause.
        "Tachyon station." He repeated.
        "Yeah. ... Yes captain."
        "Anything on the detector for this area?"
        "Can't tell you. The detector is overwhelmed by the nova."
        The bridge crew looked at each other.
        "We're working on filtering out the background noise." Mel said from the speakers. "We should be able to tell the artificial ones from the natural emissions."
        "But it's going to take awhile." Mr. Dubin added.
        "Keep at it. Captain out." He pursed his lips in thought.
        Ryan was staring at the screen, looking for Borg ships. "I smell a trap."
        "Looks like a trap. Feels like a trap. Sounds like a trap."
        Rhoades was running her station through a pre battle check. "All systems answering normal. All stations responding green. The sisters say sickbay is ready and standing by."
        Hackett added to it. "All weapons on stand by, power at one hundred percent. Quantum launchers ready fore and aft."
        Lukas hadn't asked for the information, but his crew were professionals and knew their jobs end to end. He looked at the next officer.
        "Com clear. No jamming, no activity on any Borg frequency in the area. Nothing from Star Fleet." Ellingsworth said from the com station.
        Ziggy was next. "Engines normal. Emergency systems on stand by."
        "Nest to bridge. Coffee's ready. Emergency rations locked and loaded."
        Lukas chuckled. "Well, that's everything. We're ready for a war. Now all we need is an enemy."
        "Course ready. Round about twice and then some."
        "Do it slow. A nice long slow look around. All sensors active. I even want people looking out the windows."

        The views of the nova were spectacular.
        The ship cruised in a wide arc around the station, and the stellar formation itself. Then on the second pass it got a bit closer.
        "Is everything all right Captain?" Doctor Fortaan asked him in a hail when it became obvious they weren't just pulling up next to the station in a parking orbit.
        "We're just admiring your nebula."
        "Awesome isn't it. Even after all these years here I cannot help myself but to admire its beauty at times." She said glancing out her own window.
        "We're on our way in. I'll see you in less than an hour."
        The screen changed back to the stars.
        Rhoades had a puzzled look on her face.
        "Spit it out." Lukas said to her.
        "She said 'after all these years'?"
        "Yeah. So?"
        "The station has been here less than a year. She's only been assigned to it for six months."

Part 5
        They reviewed the files.
        Doctor Fortaan hadn't been there for years. This was her second deep space assignment, the last was observing a pulsar for a month. Most of her career had been as a teacher. Certainly she could be granted some poetic license, but that, added up with her obvious hesitation at contact with them raised hairs on the backs of the necks of the bridge crew.
        "I don't want to go in at red alert. We're not going to tip our hand. We are going to be at battle stations, but I don't want them to know it. I want the weapons on ready standby. Same with the shields. First hint of anything wrong, full shields, full weapons." Lukas ordered.
        The RAVEN slowed to a crawl as it approached the station.
        But no cubes dropped out of transwarp firing at them. No enemy fighters swooped down on them. No terrible beams of energy screamed toward them. It was ... dull.
        "I hate waiting." Ryan tapped his console. "Where are they?"
        "We'll find out. Standard away team. Nothing fancy. We're just curious remember."

        Four of the RAVEN crew beamed over to the station. Lukas, Ryan, Crewman Jorn, and Ensign Andreduci thanks to her post graduate year of stellar dynamics, she was playing the RAVEN's expert in the field.
        Ryan was armed to the teeth and wouldn't hear of anybody else going to protect his captain from enemies both real and imagined.
        "Welcome to our station." Doctor Fortaan smiled at them, then she looked at Ryan's heavy rifle and frowned.
        "Pardon our side arms Doctor. But Star Fleet had received a distress call from the station that you were under attack. Then they got a report that the station had been destroyed."
        "There is some mistake Captain. We are all here, the station is fine. The most excitement we've had in a long time was a replicator that caught fire making breakfast a few weeks ago. That's hardly an attack."
        Lukas nodded.
        One of the station's staff walked by them in soft-soled shoes. The young man nodded courteously then went about his business.
        "Care for tour? Then I will answer any other of your questions that I can."
        Ryan hung back a little as the scientist showed them observation equipment and instruments. She demonstrated the flow of the energy being expelled by the two stellar cores at the center of the area. While they watched she queried a probe that was deep inside the cloud for its latest readings. Then they went to see the living areas of the station.
        "Well?" Lukas whispered to Ryan as they waited on a lift.
        "If I say its too quiet would you agree with me?"
        "Then I won't say it."
        They turned down lunch in the rest area, then walked through the medical suite. "It doesn't get used much other than our physicals and the occasional headache from too much work." The Doctor said to them.
        In a few minutes they were heading back to the main deck where they had beamed in.
        "Well. I guess I'll have to find out from Star Fleet if there is another Veron Nova science station somewhere."
        "We'd love to have you stay for a day or so, except we don't have much to offer in the way of shore leave, the company would be nice." The doctor said with her smile.
        "A tempting offer, but since there is no emergency here, I think we'll get started on our next mission."
        "Captain." Jorn said. "If we're not leaving immediately I'd like to stay for a bit and discuss that solar inflow model with Doctor Fortaan."
        Those hairs on the back of Lukas' neck were standing up again. Ryan was looking at him strangely.
        "Oh. Yeah. Sure. Will an hour be enough?"
        "Thank you sir." Jorn said.
        "RAVEN." Lukas tapped his communicator. "Three to beam up."

        Back on the ship Lukas and Ryan pulled up Jorn's personnel file.
        "That's what I thought. He wouldn't know a solar inflow from a ham sandwich." Lukas said.
        "What's going on?" Ryan asked the air.
        "I don't know. But I don't like it."
        "Could the Borg have assimilated them without it showing or us being able to detect it?"
        Lukas looked at the screen. The image of the station didn't reveal any secrets. "Wanna go back over there and check it out?"
        They studied the video of Doctor Fortaan several times, they reviewed the scans Ryan had taken of the station staff they had met. Then they debriefed each other second by second.
        "He was separated from us." Andreduci said.
        "He went to the toilet." Ryan said.
        Lukas nodded. "That was it. They got to him then."
        "Who got to him? What did they do to him." Rowell said. "They could assimilate him that fast?"
        "It's not a total assimilation. They're just doing some sort of mental control." Lukas said. "I feel an urge to join the good Doctor for dinner after all."

        Back on the station they were met by an aid to the Doctor. She smiled just as charmingly and escorted them up to the main observation deck.
        "Let me send for Mister Jorn. He'll be delighted you decided to visit us again after all." Doctor Fortaan said.
        Ensign Allen subtly aimed a medical tricorder at the aid while the others talked. For a second the machine gave some seriously odd readings, then it settled down to the cool body temperature and almost non-existent heart rate of a Doridian.
        "Really, I just wanted to say good-bye in person and collect Jorn. Then we'll leave you to your research."
        The Doctor smiled and tapped the communications console asking for Mister Jorn to join them on the observation deck.
        "RAVEN to Captain Lukas."
        "Lukas here."
        "Ulalume wanted me to call you. Contact her when you get a moment." Mel said from the ship.
        Lukas and Ryan exchanged knowing looks. 'Ulalume' was one of their code words from poems by Edgar Allan Poe that signaled something was wrong, and they needed him as soon as possible without an emergency beam out.
        "I'll find someplace private and call her." He smiled to the Doctor. "Is there someplace private I can borrow?"
        "Certainly, we have some research cubicles right over there." She nodded to her aid.
        As Lukas stepped into the cubicle he pulled the door to, but didn't shut it. He glimpsed Jorn coming off the lift with that same smile on his face that he was wearing while ago.
        "Lukas to RAVEN. Ulalume."
        "You alone sir?"
        "As alone as you can get over here." He looked at the work station. There was no way to shut it down, or know whether or not it was listening to him. He turned around and leaned up against it trying to garble what it could see or hear as much as possible. "Go ahead."
        "We went back and analyzed the readings we had of the station when we first got here, and when you came back." Rhoades said carefully. "There should have been twenty six life forms on the station. The twenty five assigned there and Jorn." She paused. "There were only twenty five."
        A chill spread through Lukas' body. "OK. We're getting out of here. Give me one minute, then beam us all back."
        "All sir?"
        "All. Put Jorn in stasis in medical until we find out what happened to him. As soon as we are on board, raise shields."
        "Understood. One minute from... Mark."
        Lukas left his communicator on and walked back to the group.
        "Is everything all right Captain?" The Doctor asked with her smile.
        "I'm needed back on the ship. Ryan, let's get ready to go."
        "I'd like to stay Captain." Jorn said. "I find this far more fascinating than my duties on the RAVEN."
        Something about the way he said it gave Lukas the creeps, he fought it down. "Well. I've always said it's a voluntary post. Is there anything on board you want to keep?"
        Jorn shook his head slowly. "I don't believe so Captain."
        Lukas felt a tingle. "Your call." He said. Then they were all enveloped by the transporter beam.

Part 6
        "Medical to Captain. Emergancy!" One of the sister's voices was screaming over the com.
        "Lukas..." Was all he got out.
        "Intruder alert. Security to Medical. Intruder alert." Ziggy was shouting over the com now. The claxons were blasting out the alert.
        Lukas ran out of the transporter room two paces behind Ryan.
        The sisters were in the hallway flat against the wall. A kneeling security guard was firing through the door at something that was making a horrible noise inside the unit.
        "Red Alert! Incoming Fire." The com shouted above the din. The warning noise from the sirens changed pitch and tempo. The ship shuddered under fire from something.
        "What's happening?" Lukas asked his communicator as Ryan joined the assault against whatever was in medical.
        "We're under attack from the station. Their scout ships and the station itself are shooting at us."
        "Return fire. All weapons. I'm on my way." He looked at Ryan. "What is it?"
        He adjusted the settings on his rifle and fired again. "A changeling."

        Lukas ran out of the lift as soon as the doors started to open, hitting his shoulders against both of them. "Where's the station?" He said expecting it to be there and firing at them.
        "That's it." Mel pointed at a shapeless silvery mass that was shooting at them instead.
        "Manual lock aye." Hackett said. "Quantum torpedoes away."
        "We can't get a weapons lock. The sensors can't see it."
        The torpedoes didn't detonate.
        "It absorbed them. Resetting to proximity and manual detonation." Hackett said before any of the superior officers could order it. "Launching." His hand hovered above the red button. "A little closer.... NOW!" He slapped it.
        The flash was unbelievably intense.
        The mass roiled and splattered in space. Then it re-congealed, and returned fire. Now it was throwing parts of itself at them.
        The ship shuddered.
        "Outer hull breaches, decks three and five. Deck Ten." Rhoades screamed. "They're changelings, going right through the shields and trying to stab through the hull."
        "Shields, full metaphasic. That might slow them down." Ziggy shouted to his console.
        "All hands. Security Alert. Intruders. We have changelings attempting to board the ship. Form security teams of three or more. NOBODY is to be alone until further notice." Lukas shouted.
        "All weapons going to rapid fire, rotating frequency, full spread, maximum effect." Hackett said to everybody as he did it.
        The weapons pod was actually glowing from the energy it was expending. The ship shuddered, not from impacts, but from the stress of launching multiple torpedoes and death rays.
        "Ryan to bridge. The intruder in sickbay is dead. There are injuries and a lot of damage down here."
        Lukas nodded to himself. His XO was still the best security officer he had ever met.
        "There's reports of a changeling trying to get through on deck five." Ellingworth said to the com.
        "On it."
        "Shields now full metaphasic." Ziggy said. He nodded. "It's stopping them."
        "Look!" Rhoades shouted.
        The dark mass was changing under the assault. It was breaking up, parts of it were turning dull gray instead of the quicksilver color it had been. Still it fired energy streams and threw bits of itself at them.
        "Keep firing." Lukas ordered.


        The ship had sustained a great deal of damage.
        And they had lost a crewman.
        Lukas stood in front of the 'NEVERMORE' plaque and bowed his head. Then he went down to the RAVEN's Nest to the memorial service.

        "There are other enemies of Freedom besides the Borg. We need to remember that. There are other threats out here. The Borg is just one of them. And compared to what we faced today, they may be a more direct threat, but we can't ignore the subtle ones. The ones that smile at us and offer us a cup of coffee."
        The assembled crew nodded slowly. Sadly.
        Lukas turned to the windows. The nebula hadn't changed.
        "Even in the face of such beauty. The threat is still there." He turned back to them. "Thank you."
        "This concludes the memorial service." Ryan said.

        In a few minutes the others were socializing.
        "What's next?" Kada asked the Captain.
        "We repair the ship. Work on the tachyon readings. And get back to our mission."
        "The crusade."
        Lukas nodded. He finished his drink and put the glass down on the bar firmly, then he turned to leave. "Oh, Dr. Leftover..."
        Kada looked up surprised by the name. "Sir?"
        "Good job getting the detector... and the turkeys."
        "Thank you sir."


The Crusade Continues.

[This story carries the copyright of The Media Desk, 2000, and the USS RAVEN (IFT). Author retains all rights, including the right of approval for publication. STAR TREK, and all images and situations affiliated with STAR TREK are owned and copyrighted by PARAMOUNT STUDIOS. They are used in this story without intent to harm or otherwise defame PARAMOUNT or the estate of Gene Roddenberry. The Media Desk is not in any way affiliated with PARAMOUNT. For information contact Levite. Email- , or surface mail to: The Media Desk, PO Box 1276, Dover, DE 19903]

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