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NOPE, sorry, this is one tale that can't be shortened.
Miles was the first to go down, as evidenced by his blank stare and rapidly paling skin. It was a pity that he didn't quite take to the phaser rifle, but there wasn't anything that could be done about it now. Murphy tries not to look at him as she steps over his body.
Remodulate and shoot. Remodulate and shoot. That's what Janeway had told her, and it was a little like playing Duck Hunt at first. But now their targets were advancing too quickly, and their large numbers didn't help matters, either. Remodulate and shoot, that was great, but nobody'd bothered to impress upon her just how damn frightening the Borg were. And now it was too late to go back and say, "Gee, confront a horde of merciless, unfeeling mechanoids? No thanks, I'll pass."
A piercing scream from the left seals the fate of another, and Murphy hears another phaser rifle clatter to the floor. She looks over just in time to see silver tubules launch into Corky's neck. Through all the flickering lights and the dim atmosphere, Murphy can't see much, but she swears she catches a glimpse of a tear running down Corky's cheek.
Her screaming stops and the Borg who assimilated her lets her drop unceremoniously to the floor. She doesn't move, and the Borg's laser repositions itself to focus on Murphy. This whole affair sure did put a new spin on the phrase "war is hell".
With trembling hands, Murphy prepares to fire again, but then somebody does it for her. Two orange beams fly out from opposite directions and slam into the Borg's chest. It convulses as it sparks. Its cybernetic parts all simultaneously stop and it crashes to the floor.
Frank and Jim, each holding their own rifles, cautiously peek out from behind two dark green pillars.
"Where the hell have you two been?!" Murphy exclaims.
They don't have time to answer, as five more Borg suddenly appear at the end of the dark corridor. The human trio doesn't waste any time sprinting in the opposite direction.
While they know it's only delaying the inevitable, they duck into a small space near a row of empty regeneration alcoves and catch their breath.
"This is a lot harder than I ever thought it would be," Frank says. "They always make it look so easy on TV!"
"Where are Corky and Miles?" Jim asks.
Murphy swallows hard. "They're gone," she answers. "They got them a long time ago."
Once again, there's no time for reflection. Slow, heavy footsteps and mechanical whirring signal the return of their relentless pursuers.
Frank takes one look at them and stands up.
"Frank," Jim cautiously begins. "What are you doing?"
He turns around and smirks.
"I'm going in."
Murphy's up before he can blink. "You're doing WHAT?"
Jim follows suit. "You can't go marching up to them! It's suicide!"
"It's not suicide," Frank tells them. His smile softens a little. "It's giving you two time to get out of here."
"Frank, don't be foolish!" Jim exclaims. "We can just end it; it doesn't have to be like this!"
Frank tightens his grip on his phaser rifle. "End it?" he asks. "Give up? Back down?"
He turns to face the Borg and readies his rifle. "Frank Fontana does not back down."
Without looking back, he darts foward and starts firing. Orange beams slice into one, two, three Borg and they're down. The remaining Borg take their losses in stride and continue their approach. They don't flinch at the beams that whiz past their heads. Shadows fall on the wall behind them, and more Borg come into the room. Frank begins to sweat.
Murphy quickly raises her rifle and moves forward, but stops abruptly when she notices a Borg creeping out of the shadows. It's right behind Frank, and he doesn't see it, and she can't make air go into her lungs.
Not even two seconds later, she learns that there's nothing more horrifying than witnessing the assimilation of your best friend.
Jim doesn't miss a beat and throws down his rifle. Murphy has to blink to make sure she really just saw that happen.
"What the hell could possibly be going through your head right now?!"
"Diplomacy, Murphy. Diplomacy." Jim looks very calm, but his eyes seem awfully dark. "We haven't tried it yet."
"Maybe we haven't tried it because these things are electronic killing machines!"
Jim takes a deep breath and straightens. "If there's anyone who can get out of this, it's you, Slugger. I don't want to see you here when I'm one of them."
"Jim, for the love of God-"
He puts up his hands and she stops. He's already walking forward and she couldn't have reached for him even if she tried.
"All right now!" he declares. "This is a universal sign of surrender! I'm sure we can-"
The tubules that slither into his neck quickly silence him.
Half a dozen red lasers focus on Murphy. She's trembling again, but for a very different reason this time. Very slowly and deliberately, she pushes a few buttons on her phaser rifle.
"You want to do this?" she asks them, unable to keep a smile off her face. "You really want to do this?"
The Borg directly in front of her raises its arm. There's a spinning sawblade instead of a hand.
Murphy takes an iron hold on her rifle.
"THEN LET'S GO, PAL!"
Sparks fly out of the chests of three Borg. Murphy fires again and again and again, creating a sea of orange in the dark room. For each Borg that falls, another materializes in a swirly green haze. She grins manically. Now she's a threat.
Her trigger-pulling soon amounts to nothing. Her stomach flips when she realizes that her rifle's out of energy. And of course, one Borg would choose this moment to want to encroach upon her personal space.
Without really thinking about it, she swings the rifle, smacking the Borg hard in the head. It does not seem fazed, so she swings again. Still, it continues toward her.
"Not yet," she snarls. "I'm not done yet!" She tosses aside the dead rifle and ducks just in time to miss the Borg's arm swinging in her direction. Jim's rifle's still on the floor and she snatches it up. Since it's inches away from her now, ramming the end of the rifle into the Borg's stomach is easy. She holds down the trigger a little longer this time.
As soon as it falls, she doesn't waste any time firing again. But this time, there's no sparks, just a rippling green shield in the center of the other Borg's chests. Her eyes widen and she fires again. The result is the same. They've finally adapted.
One Borg grabs her arm. Another crushes the end of the rifle while it's still in her hand. And the third curls its hand into a fist beside her neck.
Her eyes lose their light, and they all watch her slump down onto the floor. It's cold, and voices swarm into her head that aren't her own.
It's a damn good thing that it's all just a game.
Everything dissolves in an instant, and five humans are left on the floor of the holodeck.
"Objective failed," the computer declares. "The program has been terminated."
Everything is silent. No one says a word. And then Frank, with his face still smushed up against the floor, asks, "You couldn't beat them again?"
"ME?!" Murphy shoots up and points an accusatory finger. "You decided it was smarter to kamikaze out of the damn thing!" She turns to Jim now. "And as for Mr. Dimplomacy over here-"
"Don't start with me!" Jim yells. "You're the one who insisted that we go down that corridor in the first place!"
Off to the side, Miles stares off into the distance. "I swear," he says to them, "mine wouldn't work! I kept pulling the trigger and nothing was happening!"
"Oh, I see," Corky murmurs. "That would explain why I was suddenly left all alone with NO BACKUP! Do you have any idea how much those little tubes hurt?!"
"HEY!" Miles shouts back. "You're not the only one who got assimilated here!"
Their bickering and yelling carries itself all the way to the opening holodeck doors. Captain Janeway already looks perturbed when she strides inside. She watches them as she approaches Tuvok, who stands calmly behind the holodeck console.
"They seem to be having a good time," Janeway remarks.
"They are not," Tuvok reponds. "They are still determined to 'win' my training program. However, they appear to lack the skills necessary to do so."
Janeway studies the group and watches Murphy smack Frank on the arm. Their shouting has become a mass of incomprehensible noise.
"Increase the difficulty," Janeway says after a few moments.
"This morning, I discovered that someone had reprogrammed the replicator in my ready room to only serve decaf." Her eyes narrow. "I don't know how she did it, but..."
Tuvok's brows furrow. "Given the time period from which she comes, the probability of her having the ability to alter anything on this ship is incredibly slim."
"There was a rubber spider floating in the cup, Tuvok."
There's nothing he can do but raise an eyebrow. The yelling carries on.
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