Chapter 7

 

First Contact with the Borg

 

“What did you notice?” Sasy, Dasy, and Tealeafy chorused, while the other hamsters stood by with big eyes, staring at Flecki and wondering who of the 6 ½ mayors was the original one.

“I’m right thrilled, honey”, Lt. Uhura laughed, “what did you notice? All them wooleys are just cute in my opinion.”

“Don’t give us any crap!” Botchy whispered who had closed up to Flecki. “If you’re really sure we have to act at once before those aliens knock us out. It’s not that there’s much chance with the real mayor but there’s none at all with these freaks.”

“Contrary to certain hamsters I do not wish to name, I know well enough what I’m doing”, Flecki snarled and shot a dagger look at Goldi who was interestedly watching the blinking controls at the science station. “Uhura, this amnesia-beam, where is it?”

“Antimatter-beam it is”, Uhura laughed. “It’s directly beside the Warp-core. Around the core is a glas screen. If you go in there, you’ll take a bad end. Every replicated thing dissolves immediately.”

Before Flecki could put the next question, hell seemed to break lose. The bridge lights darkened and the whole room was bathed in red light while an alarm made such a horrible noise that the delicate hamster ears almost burst. Along with this a friendly computer voice said: “Emergency evacuation has been initiated, please go to the emergency capsules now!” Even Lt. Uhura put her hands to her ears and, horrified, watched how the hamsters crouched to the bridge floor and desperately tried to somehow get rid of the noise.

After years of Starfleet membership Uhura acted auomatically. She jumped up from her seat and looked about her. A second later her eyes were on the science station in front of which a convulsive hamster was lying. Goldi it was and he certainly had played at the switches again, Uhura thought with a grin. She hastened to the station, thought for a moment and handled several keys. All of a sudden the hellish alarm stopped and the light came back to normal. Like a confirmation that she had done the right things, the computer voice said: “Evacuation sequence stopped!” Lt. Uhura took a deep breath and picked up the trembling Goldi.

“Well, little rascal, messing up things again?”

“Weapon officer, what do you think you’re doing?” came a voice from the mayor-commander group where the first ones got up, groaning and giving Goldi angry looks.

“Erm, status report, officer Goldi, what happened?” the next mayor-commanded added with an important face.

“I – er – cannot refrain to ask by way of remark what is to be seen on the screen”, another mayor-commander cried and with a terrified face pointed at the big main screen. Of course everybody now stared at it spellbound and what they saw made no sense to hamstian ideas.

Several bright spots were visible which moved away from the ship.

“What is it?” chief Botchy groaned. “Some torpedos again?”

“This”, Lt. Uhura said, switching off her smile for a moment, “are no torpedos. This were our emergency capsules.”

“We have to take a sample”, one of the mayor-commanders bawled, “er – so to say make an example. I propose to punish weapon officer Goldi at once!”

“I want to continue by adding that his unauthorized behaviour is to be noted down in the log!” another mayor-commander said. “Furthermore it appears to me…”

“Shut up, I say, all of you!”

Shocked, they all glared at chief Botchy who had climbed onto Uhura’s chair and stood there with bright red head. Some grumbling came from he mayor-commanders’ corner, announcing a wave of protest, but Botchy did not give them a chance.

“Out there any number of aliens are flying around, wanting to get at us and we are sitting here, discussing log entries. I’m that fed up, I can’t tell you! Either you agree who’s got the saying here or I’ll blast up this whole damned ship. You got me?!”

“That’s it”, Flecki quickwittedly shouted, “we make a voting now who is to be in command!”

“A voting, a real voting”, one of the mayor-commanders happily cried. “Dear colleagues, what do you think about it?”

“Erm, well, my honoured colleagues, I think…”

“You don’t think anything, you get your bum moving to the voting booth, right? That goes for the other dummies, too. Flecki, you’re election admin, tell these clowns what to do.”

Spellbound, everybody glared at Flecki, who in turn glared at Lt. Uhura in an embarrassed fashion. The mayor-commander group was standing close by as usual; all made important face and tapped the floor with one of their paws. Only Goldi faked being terribly busy looking at the main screen where the emergency capsules of the Enterprise by now were nothing but tiny dots drifting into space. Lt. Uhura cleared her throat.

“Well, honeybees, I’ll show you the way to the voting booth. Stay with me closely so you don’t get lost.”

She winked at Flecki and slowly walked to the exit. The door hissed open and the mayor-commanders – except one – shrank back. For some distance they went by turbo lift, then walked along a long passage, Uhura turning off right and left until they had reached Engineering. There it was: the warp core, looking like a giant blue pillar in the centre of the room, sheltered by thick special glass surrounding it like a tube. Just when they wanted to enter the room, there was a shout behind them. Anxiously they looked back and saw somebody running along the passage. Chekov! It did not take him long to face them, he was panting. He looked like a good hangover but smiled broadly and cried:

“Hey, folks, you on an outing? May I join? Sorry, had taken a short nap, but now I’m fit again, people!”

“Sure you come along, we make some mayor voting. Guess there won’t be any champagne afterwards”, Lt. Uhura giggled while they all walked towards the bright warp core. Now they faced the impressive unit and nobody knew what to do now. Flecki cleared her throat.

“Now I ask all mayor candidates to line up!”

Immediately the 6 ½ mayor-commanders did so and waited. They all grinned in a self-pleased style while tapping the floor of Engineering with their paws. In the meantime Flecki, accompanied by Goldi, surrounded the warp core and pondered.

“They must not go in there all of them, Goldi”, she whispered, “one of them has to stay outside. But how shall we arrange that?”

“Either I knock one of them down or you tell them that the voting booth isn’t big enough for all!”

Flecki gave Goldi a look. However, she then turned to the mayor-commanders still waiting in a line and for their performance.

“Gentlemen, unfortunately not all of you fit in at the same time. So one of you has to wait a moment.”

There was an outright grumble about this being an impertinence and quite beneath them… Flecki groaned and lifted her paws. “Gentlemen, I now think of a number and one after the other tries to guess which number it is. Candidate No. 1, please give me a number between 1 and 2!”

One after the other now hectically named a One or Two and was nodded towards the voting booth by Flecki. With a regretful shake of the head Flecki indicated to one of the candidates that he had guessed the wrong number and had to wait. To the other candidates chief Botchy shouted: “Get you into the voting cabin!” Immediately 5 ½ mayor-commanders set out to a flanking control opening which the chief engineer had opened under Uhura’s guidance.

“Ey, have you gone stark mad?” Ensign Chekov shouted now, pure horror in his face. “You all will…”

“…be elected!” Lt. Uhura quickly interrupted. “That’s all right, Chekov!” In an undertonde she added: “It’s all right, Pavel, we know what we are doing. Those ones are replicates only, the original mayor-commander’s standing over there – or so I hope.”

“I missed one or two things, didn’t I?” Chekov stammered. “I think I behaved rather silly.”

“As matter of fact you are not the only one who’s not able to think clearly. Why am I joining in such nonsense?”

This was the moment a shocked outcry of the hamsters filled the room. The 5 ½ mayor-commanders had entered the tube and vanished. The remaining mayor-commander suddenly turned very pale and fainted.

“Pavel, something’s wrong here”, Lt. Uhura continued. “Do you have a tricorder?”

Chekov shook his head, then his face lit up. “Over there is one of Scotty’s tricorders, I’ll scan this room with it.” After trying a number of tunings, he once more shook his head and said: “No unusual rays or the like in here. Everything seems to be okay. We should go back to the bridge and report to the Captain.”

“Very well”, Lt. Uhura agreed, “but take care to scan on for any emissions on our way.”

Ensign Pavel Chekov nodded and smiled when Lt. Uhura picked up the unconscious mayor. She looked at him thoughtfully and turned to Flecki.

“Can you explain to me how you knew which was the right one? To me they all sounded equally daft.”

“Well, their sound wasn’t that important, it never had been, as to that. But two things I noticed. Only one of the bubbleheads knew what happened before, I mean before they were copied. Only one of them knew that Captain Kirk stayed on Earth. And only one tapped with his left paw like the original.”

In appreciation Lt. Uhura and Ensign Chekov lifted their brows as normally Spock did if he was fascinated.

“Now let’s return to the bridge”, Uhura proposed. “Time to get back to normal. I’m highest in rank and take over command and first of all we’ll contact our commander. Flecki, we are still in Earth orbit, aren’t we?”

Anxiously she looked at the hamster girl. Chekov stepped to her side and dark bodings were mirrored in his face. Flecki looked around to her hamster friends but no help was to be expected from that end. Goldi goggled at the warp core while Botchy, Tuffy, and the rest watched the walls of Engineering.

“We had taken course to the Veganian system.”

“To the what?” Chekov breathed.

“Veganian system”, Flecki repeated. “Because that fool of mayor absolutely wanted to deliver his pot plant there.”

“Pot plant?”

“To save the world and the whole universe.”

“Chekov, enough is enough!” Lt. Uhura almost doubled her fists in frustration but remembered in time that she was holding the mayor. “Pavel, find some cage for these little maniacs or lock them into a cabin. We’ve got to return to the bridge at once and change the course. Anything else we should know?”

Flecki looked at the officers with big eyes and whispered: “Out there is some sort of space ship with aliens who maybe want to attack us.”

“Attack us? Why should they?”

“Because Goldi fired a few torpedos in their direction.”

“I shouldn’t have asked”, Uhura groaned. “And I won’t put any further questions for who knows what other sort of mischief you did.”

In the background Goldi’s gasp of relief was audible and he just wondered what the aliens might think when they met the empty emergency capsules. Ensign Chekov had found a tool kit and put in the hamsters. Then he picked up the box with both hands and followed Lt. Uhura. The door of Engineering closed behind them and they were back in the passage. In the sealed off machinery room the two Enterprise officers had been safe but now they were once more exposed to the laughing gas which had infiltrated almost the whole ship. A few minutes later Lt. Uhura und Ensign Chekov re-entered the bridge – cackling merrily and each of them with some hamsters on their shoulder. To the general delight the Ensign played soccer with the empty box and finally kicked it to the commander’s seat. Lt. Uhura laughed.

“That’s a fine place and our darling Commander can get up and down the seat without a crash!”

While the hamsters were sitting beside the navigation control, excitedly discussing the new situation, she carried the mayor who was slowly awaking, to the Commander’s seat and put him down there carefully. By and by he opened his eyes and took some time to understand where he was.

“Umph! Erm, may I take it for granted that I won the voting?” He cautiously looked around. “Where are the things – er – the others? They so to say office-colored, they did. Hey, First Officer, where are those ruffians? Status report!”

“More or less evaporated”, Flecki grinned. “But now we’ve got these aliens on the plate who by Goldi’s daftness…”

“Unfortunately we have to disdingus from any punishment but if weapon officer Goldi continues to act crashly – er – rashly, then…”

“The emergency capsules, he…”

Flecki got no further because some loud crackling and hissing came from the loudspeakers at Uhura’s station. At the same time the main screen clearly showed something approaching the Enterprise and her crew.

“Status report, Navigation-Dodo!”

“Hum, well, there is a big white spot on the screen…”

“Status report, Communication-Yoohoo!”

“Crackling and hissing here, honey!”

“Well, erm, what do we make of it, what would that mean?”

Helplessly the hamsters stood beside the mayor’s chair and anxiously watched the approaching space ship. Only Dodo was sitting in some distance at the navigation desk where also Ensign Chekov had sat down out of habit. Now Dodo softly cleared his throat. Immediately everyone looked at him and the mayor asked:

“Yes, Dodo? Any proposals?”

“May I join you? As it is, the real navigator is here now and so I might…”

A nod of agreement and Dodo saw that he came to his friends. The big white spot by now had clearly taken a form and white had changed to grey-brown. It was a big armoured globe facing the ship.

“Wanna play golf with us or what?” Goldi grumbled but before anyone could give some witty answer there was another crackling and whistling in the loudspeaker.

Uhura turned several buttons and grinned. “I’ll switch in the universal translator. Perhaps we will pick up something.”

“…futile…”, the loudspeakers sounded and they looked at each other.

“Erm, well, my dear hamsters, what might be futile? What does the thing want to tell us?”

“That life is futile?” Taty wondered.

“Situation is futile?” Dasy guessed.

“…is futile…”, once more it sounded and he Enterprise-crew was bewildered.

“What – erm – is futile?” The mayor alternately looked at the screen and at the loudspeakers.

“You’ve got to press the button at the arm-rest, silly”, Lt. Uhura giggled, “and speak up or nobody will hear you.”

Redheaded the mayor did so, took a deep breath and shouted: ”Erm, well, yes! Hi and welcome. We’re on our way to the Veganian system and…”

“…is futile…”, again it came from the loudspeakers and the mayor shook his head.

“No, erm, I think I may see that differently, dear alien. It is not futile but, as I want to stress, of greatest importance so to say and I welcome you in the name of Hamsterton…”

“Hamsterton is airy…” That was what they understood. “…stance is few…”

“I think they’ve got blanks in their transmission, Commander. That really sounds funny”, Uhura cackled.

“Erm, yes, thanks, Yoohoo. Er, did you hear that? You have blanks!”

“Blanks are irrelvant. Resistance is…”

The mayor shrugged and helplessly looked at Botchy. The chief engineer, glad that he got something to do after all, quickly scrambled onto the tool box and jumped onto the Comander’s chair. Then he breathed in deeply and yelled:

“We’ve got something better to do here! So what do you want of us?”

“Something better is irrelevant!”

“Got a damage in your head, or what?”

“Resistance is futile!”

“Oh, is it? Try us, you dummy!”

“We will assimilate you…”

“What are the odds you won’t. A good sound thrashing you’ll get, you numbheads!”

“Bravo!” Goldi cried, clapping his hands. “That’s what I call diplomacy!”

“Why”, Flecki panted, “do I have the feeling that our first contact will not lead to good relationship? And what do they mean by ‘assimilate’?”

“They’ll make us be like them, pet”, Lt. Uhura replied.

This was the moment the view on the screen changed and chief Botchy abruptly stopped his yelling. Frozen, they all glared at what was happening on the main screen. A giant head with long, pointed ears appeared and cold black eyes stared at them. But neither the long ears nor the whiskers shocked the hamsters, there was something else: Half of the face of this oversized gerbil was covered with some peculiar gadget looking like the face was molten with this artificial metallic equipment. It was a spooky sight and the hamsters panicked when the voice sounded once more: “We are Borg – resistance is futile – we will assimilate you!”

Then the screen went dark and with much interest Lt. Uhura watched the hamsters preparing for the approaching attack. Crying “Pleh!” and “Cinap!” they raced around the Commander’s chair while Ensign Chekov looked at his monitor with a broad grin. After a while the preparations were finished and a panting mayor took the word:

“Erm, my dear hamsters, I am certainly not wrong in assuming that maybe we perhaps should defend ourselves to stop those whatstheirnames – er – to get onto this ship!”

“We should pulverize them with some well aimed torpedos!” Goldi bawled. “We blow them into space!”

“Why always such senseless violence?” Dodo lamented. “Cannot we just give in peacefully?”

“How would they come in?” Flecki asked and sharply looked at Uhura. “If we don’t let them in, nothing can happen to us, can it? And I have no mind to look like them, something like that stuff in my face is completely uncool and won’t become me.”

“And if they beam into the ship, honey? We’ll look worse than uncool then.”

“Can’t we prevent that?”

Lt. Uhura thought and nodded: “Sure, Captain Kirk puts up the shields and it’s closing time. Pavel, if you’ve got a tiny moment, what about putting up the shields?”

“I’d do everything for you”, the Ensign grinned, “but unfortunately I lost my smart book where I can read how the shields are taken up – hahaha!” After a glance into the hamster faces which mirrored pure horror, he grinned and said: “Little joke, my friends. Pavel won’t forget something like that – look here – shields are up!” His voice once more sounded into the hamsters’ sighs of relief. “Odd, don’t grip that.”

“Status report, nav! Explain odd to me – erm – I don’t want to grip it either.”

“Sure, Commander, it’s funny – they’re within our shields…”

“I don’t want to be asylumated…”

“It’s assimilated, Dodo”, Flecki hissed. “We should negotiate, what do you think, Mayor?”

Trembling, the mayor lifted his head and looked down from the Commander’s chair to which he was clinging. “Well – erm – I think we should think about escape. You heard it: Resistance is futile. I bet they don’t negotithingus…”

“To arms!” Goldi bawled. “We saw them down, them crappy guys. Hey, Chekov, where are the weapons?”

This was the moment when at several spots on the bridge pillars of light appeared, accompanied by some buzzing sound. The Borg! They had come! Frozen, the Enterprise crew watched these portentous light-pillars while in the background the howling voice of Dodo was audible: “Sent them away, I don’t want to be anticipated!”