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Round 8 Major Whale & LtJG Weston - Staying Sharp


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((Assimilated Corridor, Deck 17, USS Nimitz))

:: The team moved quickly through the eerily green lit corridor at a cautious pace. A tight three man V moved slowly behind a fourth team member at the point position. Oliver's head was on a swivel as he advanced on point, his gaze swept left and right but always returned to the motion scanner he held before him. The blue-silver light it cast made the sweat on Oliver's brow stand out clearly as they stopped at a four way junction. ::

WHALE: Weston...?

:: He adjusted his grip on the phaser rifle and kept the stock pressed against his shoulder. The first time he and Weston and several of the Constitution crew had walked these halls, he’d carried the larger Type 28 rifle. Though he’d always felt more comfortable with it, it has made more sense to arms the team with the Type 33 Close Quarters Combat model. The lower profile and more compact design of the CQC was far better suited to combat within the close confines of starship and space station corridors. Which made perfect sense, as it was created based on recommendations arising from Operation Bright Star. ::

WESTON: I know Major. Just give me a minute.

TARALLO: Engineering can't be far, which way Lieutenant?

WESTON: :: Oliver shot him a dark look over his shoulder. :: I don't have the whole floor plan commited to memory yet, I'm sorry.

WHALE: Just concentrate. You know the layout.

WESTON: I know. :: He paused a moment and closed his eyes before answering. :: This way. :: He pointed right. ::

:: With a nod, Whale raised his rifle and took a step down the corridor. ::

WHALE: Weston behind me, Tarallo watch our six.

:: Before he could give a response Alton called out a warning in unison with Oliver's scanner. ::

TARALLO: Contact, nine o'clock.

:: Their heads snapped left and a trio of drones were marching their way down the corridor. The heat was becoming unbearable now and Oliver wished he could tear of his ISARAS vest and get a little bit more air. He turned at the light touch on his shoulder from Whale, and led the way down the right corridor to what he hoped was Main Engineering. As they ran he snapped the portable scanner into a prototype mount on his left wrist to free up his hands if he needed to climb or draw his phaser. At the end of the corridor their jog petered out to a walk and then a full stop when they were faced with a dead end. The outline of a double door could be seen off in the distance, but it was mostly obscured by a massive pile of debris. A major support beam from the deck above punched through the ceiling, dragging with it a snarl of wires, cables and massive sections of jefferies tubes. ::

WESTON: [...].

WHALE: Alternate route?

WESTON: Thinking.

TARALLO: Contacts closing.

WHALE: Defensive positions.

:: Tarallo, his Marine training kicking in perfectly, automatically dropped to one knee to cover from a low angle while Whale took up a standing position against the opposite wall. Feeling a trickle of sweat run down his back, Whale tried to shrug off the oppressive sense of dread that had been settling on his like a thick black cloak. Holodeck simulations were supposed to be realistic, but this one was cutting far too close to reality for his liking. The last time he’d set foot on the USS Nimitz, he’d nearly lost Fiona Shelley, and over four hundred members of Starfleet had been swallowed up by the Borg. ::

WESTON: :: Oliver cursed inwardly and gritted his teeth as he tore his phaser free of his vest. :: Up.

WHALE: Full sentences would be nice, Oliver. Or even sentence fragments.

:: Oliver turned around and waded into the debris and grabbed hold of a mid-sized piece of torn tube flooring. With a hard wrench he tore it out of the pile and moved a little further up the massive beam. ::

WESTON: This beam punched through a jefferies tube. We can still get into it and find a way back down on the other side.

:: He was halfway up the beam when he finished and turned to look at Whale for approval. ::

WHALE: As long as it gets us where we need to be, I’ll crawl through the solid waste reclamation centre. Tarallo, you head-

TARALLO: Contact. Twenty metres Major.

:: Whale quickly turned back around, the muzzle of his rifle rising as if it were part of his body, following his gaze. A T-junction twenty metres down the corridor. Movement. A Borg drone, black and grey and pale and dead-looking rounded the corner, it’s doll eyes barely appearing to focus on its quarry. And then two more rounded the corner, heading toward the trio of Starfleeters. ::

WHALE: Move, I’ll cover!

:: Firing at the advancing Borg in quick bursts of two -- the ubiquitous “double-tap” taught in all assault training, be it marine or security -- Whale knew he’d hit at least one of the Borg, but didn’t wait around to see the effect. As soon as Tarallo was up, Whale followed, dropping a grenade down the hole as soon as he was up. ::

WHALE: Cover!

:: They all ducked their heads as the grenade exploded in the corridor beneath them, hopefully taking out the three Borg. ::

WHALE: All right...

:: Taking a moment to catch his breath, Whale wiped the sweat from his forehead with the sleeve of his SDU. ::

WHALE: So we’re in a jeffries tube, which means direct access to engineering from here, right?

WESTON: Bingo. Forty meters. :: He pointed. :: This way.

WHALE: Then let’s move.

:: No sooner had they started forward than they began to hear a shuffling sound at their backs as from somewhere further back, the Borg had gained access to the jeffries tube. Neither Whale nor Weston nor Tarallo needed to say anything -- all three instinctively picked up their pace and within moments that were at a hatch that would lead them into the main engineering section of the Sovereign Class starship. Weston waited, hand on the latch, while Whale and Tarallo took up position. ::

WHALE: Ready when you are.

:: Though in truth, he felt anything but ready. A nerve was twitching in his left eyelid and his entire jaw ached from having been clenched the entire time. ::

:: The hatch was popped and Whale stepped through into engineering, Weston at his back and Tarallo taking up the rear and before Whale’s eyes could adjust to the lack of light, there was- ::

BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP

:: Weston’s scanner. ::

:: Olivers jaw dropped as he saw the screen fill with blips. Twenty plus. ::

:: Though they’d been avoiding their use for stealth reasons, Whale flicked on the rifle-mounted flashlight and immediately swore. There were easily two-dozen drones milling around engineering. They were just as he’d remembered them, just as they appeared in the dreams that kept him up at night. Not your typical Borg, these drones of the SubCollective were a haphazard amalgam of humanoid and found technology, rather than tailor-made Borg enhancements. ::

WESTON: Twenty or more Major.

WHALE: Form up! Don’t waste your shots -- make them count.

:: He fixed his sights on the first drone caught in his flashlight beam, an abomination who in life would have been an Andorian female who looked barely old enough to serve, but who went down in a shower of blood and circuitry when she took two phaser bolts to the forehead. As Whale adjusted to focus on another target, he saw a drone go down, but had no idea if it was Tarallo or Weston who’d notched the kill. And he didn’t give a [...] either, as long as it meant one less Borg in the universe. He’d entirely lost sight of the fact that this was a simulation. ::

:: Oliver fell in next to Whale on his right side and levelled his hand phaser at the closest drone. The SAR version spat phaser fire in bursts, not beams and the single shot dropped the drone at centre mass. Alton was firing as well, his rifle twitching between targets as his mind worked out distances and priority. Oliver twisted as another drone disconnected itself from a darkened alcove and stepped towards him. Had he been using the larger Type 33 he'd never have been able to bring it to bear, but thankfully the smaller phaser pistol spat once and saved his life. The drone staggered back, its right arm terminated in a viscious looking saw blade which it used instinctively to steady itself. The blade bit into a console and burst as it tore through the digital readout. Sparks and then flames flew as the console came apart and black smoke started filling Engineering. ::

:: Engineering was dark enough, with the SubCollective leeching power from the lighting systems to feed itself, but now somewhere, something was on fire, a haze of smoke darkening things even further. They could barely see three feet in front of their rifles. ::

WHALE: This is no good, I can barely see!

WESTON: The elevator! Head right -

WHALE: Son of a-!

:: He yanked his arm away from the Borg that had suddenly appeared next to him through the smoke and immediately rammed the butt of his rifle into its face. He felt, more than heard, the satisfying crunch of bone and as the drone staggered back, Whale shot it twice in the face. And then twice more as it fell. And then twice more as it hit the ground. All the death caused by these THINGS, all the sleepless nights, all the times Shelley had woken in the night, screaming or sobbing... those were not things he could let slide. However he may have changed over the last year, the pain of the failure at Duster’s Range and on the USS Nimitz had not dulled in the least. ::

:: Feeling another hand on his shoulder, Whale jerked back an elbow at what he presumed would be face-height as he turned to bring his rifle to bear. ::

TARALLO: Sir-Gah!

:: Oliver staggered back from the frozen drone that had half stepped out of the blanket of black smoke and let out a long shuddreing sigh. The room was eeriely silent, or would have been if David wasn't cursing a blue streak off to his right somewhere. He turned in time to see Alton approach the Major and reach out a steadying hand. Oliver shouted for him to wait but it was too late. ::

WESTON: Major! Stand down!

:: Breathing heavily, Whale looked around, first at the frozen holographic simulation of the Nimitz around them, then at Tarallo clutching his nose when Whale had hit him, then at Weston. He had been so caught up in his anger that he hadn’t even heard the computer’s announcement that they’d failed to reach the objective and the exercise was over. And then with a roar, he smashed his CQC rifle onto the deck plates. ::

WHALE: FRAK!!

TARALLO: Don't worry Sir. It was an accident. :: His voice was muffled as he pinched the bridge of his broken nose. :: What's so important about this simulation anyway?

WHALE: Because one day, the Nimitz is going to show itself again, and when it does we’re going to have to do this for real! And I am not going to frelling fail!

:: Not again. ::

:: Oliver walked up to Niner and turned him around to see the damage. He moved the marines hand and sucked in his breath in sympathy for him. ::

:: He waved a hand at Tarallo, still scowling, still looking like he wanted to smash something else. ::

WHALE: Go get your nose looked at.

WESTON: See a medic Niner. We don't need sickbay asking questions.

TARALLO: I fell down some stairs Sir.

WESTON: Good choice.

:: The door slid shut behind him and Oliver turned back to David. ::

WESTON: Want to run it again?

WHALE: Yes.

----

Major David Whale

XO & SAR Commander

USS Drake

http://wiki.starbase118.net/wiki/index.php?title=Whale,_David

-----

Lieutenant JG Oliver Weston

Intelligence Officer

USS Drake

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