SIM:Prelude: The Collective
((Bridge, USS Yamaguchi, Twenty-Five Years Ago: 2367))
::The ominous black cube slowly filled the viewscreen until the stars behind it were blocked out. The screen flickered as a voice filled the room, and a figure--half man, half machine--walked forward.::
Locutus:: Resistance is futile. You will disarm your weapons and escort us to sector 001. If you attempt to intervene, we will destroy you.
::As his bridge crew watched the assimilated captain of the Federation flagship on the viewscreen, Captain Marcelo Libório finally broke the silence.::
Libório: That'll be the day.
::A seasoned Starfleet officer in his early forties, Marcelo was no stranger to combat, having served throughout the Cardassian border wars that had left him only sorrow. Still, the fleet of forty ships Admiral Hanson had hastily gathered for this stand against the Borg incursion couldn't hide the desperation behind it. They hadn't even had time to evacuate the civilians when the orders came through.::
::Tactical officer Gra called out behind him.::
Gra: The Melbourne and Saratoga are beginning their attack run.
::Marcelo nodded and looked to his helmsman, Ensign Carmen Vasser.::
Libório: Carmen, keep us in tight with the Bellerophon. We'll circle 'round their stern.
::Vasser returned an aye, not bothering to question where exactly the stern was on a cube as the bulky Ambassador class vessel began its turn.::
::The Bellerophon and Yamaguchi made a coordinated attack on the Borg vessel, scoring a few direct hits, but the cube remained unscathed. Within minutes, the battle had turned into a slaughter, as the Melbourne and then the Saratoga were destroyed.::
Gra: Sir, Admiral Hanson is ordering the fleet to fall back to bravo point.
::The captain looked back at the Tellarite, annoyed as another blast of weapons fire shook the bridge.::
Libório: Tell the Admiral we'll get right on that when we can. Until then, keep firing until you empty out our entire torpedo payload.
::Marcelo turned to Lieutenant Commander H'lill, the ship's Caitian science officer and Marcelo's XO.::
Libório: H'lill, tell me we're doing *something* to that damn ship!
::The normally friendly Caitain wore a grim expression as he checked the readouts at his station. He shook his head.::
H'lill: The enemy shieldss arre holding. No sign of any significant damage.
::As always when presented with a problem, he found himself fixating on how to get around it. Some kind of phaser modifications might be able to get through those shields, but they'd already programmed a sequence into the ship's computer. Further modifications would require hours. They had minutes - perhaps seconds - to come up with something else.::
H'lill: I'm tryinng another set of phaser frequenciess.
::It was the best he could do without more time. As he braced himself, H'lil's thoughts drifted to his wife and young son. How glad he was that they were safe. Far away from this ship, and Earth. These Borg were something out of a nightmare.::
::Gra's voice interjected again.::
Gra: Sir, the admiral-
Libório: I told you, lieutenant, that-
Gra: Sir, the admiral and his ship are gone!
::Marcelo cursed under his breath.::
Gra: Captain Amasov is ordering all remaining ships to follow the Endeavour.
Libório: ::to Vasser: Helm, new course heading, 240 mark-
::The horrific whine of a cutting beam drowned out the captain's voice, and on the viewscreen, the green scalpel of light reached out and then tore through the screen itself, cleaving the saucer and the bridge in half.::
::Vasser didn't have a chance as the beam sliced right through her. The rest of the crew had no time to react as consoles, chairs, and bodies began flying out into the vacuum of space.::
::As Marcelo tumbled over and out of the center seat, he felt the air escaping his lungs. The last thing he saw before he blacked out was the burning hulk of his ship falling below him.::
Mariana: Good morning.
::Marcelo groaned for a moment, blocking out the sunlight with his arm.::
Mariana: Come on now. It's already almost ten.
::Marcelo slowly opened his eyes. He could hear the sound of the Atlantic Ocean coming through the open windows. He sat up, trying to get his bearings.::
::The woman standing near the bed simply smiled as she crossed her arms.::
Mariana: Yes, love?
::He just looked back at her, stunned.::
Marcelo: But… how?
::How was he back in Fortaleza?::
Mariana: Always the comedian.
::She leaned in and gave him a kiss before heading out.::
Mariana: Don't keep us waiting too long.
::Before he could ask, though, a child darted into the room, jumping onto the bed.::
::Marcelo turned his gaze from the window to his five-year old daughter, whose wisps of brown hair now matched her mother's. Scooping her up, he sat her down on his lap.::
Marcelo: What are you doing here, you little troublemaker?
::She laughed as her father hugged her tight. But while he was happy to see her and his wife, he couldn't hold back the tears now forming as everything came together.::
Andressa: What's wrong, papai?
::Marcelo wiped his eyes and forced a smile.::
Marcelo: Nothing… just a little salt in my eyes.
::The girl shook her head, giggling.::
Andressa: You're silly! Aren't you glad mamãe's back?
Marcelo: Yes, of course. Run along, now. Go help your mother. You remember how she gets when we're late for breakfast.
::Marcelo's eyes followed his daughter as she left, and they lingered at the open door.::
::Out of sight from Andressa and Mariana, the tears came back.::
::He could still remember those last few seconds on the bridge. It wasn't a dream. He *knew* it wasn't a dream.::
::He remembered the battle. He remembered hearing the screams of his crew in his final moments of life. And he remembered saying good night to Andressa, tucking her in one last time before heading up to the bridge.::
Commanding Officer, USS Yamaguchi