Literary Challenge #39 : Lone Drone
Hello and welcome to another edition of our writers' challenges! :cool:
Today we start the two-week run of the thirty-ninth Literary Challenge: Lone Drone
Upon entering a system in the Gamma Orionis Sector Block, sensors pick up readings that reveal debris from a destroyed Borg Probe are in orbit. As you move in closer, sensors read that a single, functioning drone is in the rubble. What happens next? Write a Captains Log entry recounting your actions and the outcome.This is the writer's thread -- only entries should be made here.
The Discussion Thread can be found HERE.
We also have an Index of previous challenges HERE.
The rules may change from one challenge to another, but I'd like to remind everyone what the base rules are. These may grow as we move on, so also feel free to give feedback!
Character: Vice Admiral Rygobeth "Rygo" Ircretian Lerginas, Starfleet Science, in command of retrofit Galaxy-class Dreadnought Cruiser USS Determination. Currently on maneuvers in the Gamma Orionis Sector Block, aiding in defense against the Borg.
Captain's Log, stardate 90743.22. The Determination has set a course for the Noro system, in the Mutara Sector of the Gamma Orionis Sector Block. Rayzda reported sensor contacts that indicated Borg activity in the area. We are moving to investigate.
"Admiral Lerginas to the bridge."
Rygo tapped a control on his desk, deactivating the display on the monitor and pulling it back into the desk. He stood up and walked from the desk in his ready room to the doorway and entered the bridge. "Report," he asked.
Kopaka, Rygo's Breen helmsman, replied (in the normal robotic voice of his people, which fortunately the universal translator understood - Lerginas certainly didn't), "Sir, we have dropped out of warp in orbit of Noro VI. There is a debris field ahead."
"Slow to one-quarter impulse," said the red-skinned alien. "Raydza, scan the debris and give me an analysis. I want to know what it was and what might have caused its fate." The Betazoid woman nodded. A moment later, she turned back around from the science station and replied, "Sir, mass and material composition consistent with those of a Borg sphere. Scans of the area indicate two weapons signatures: one Borg, one Undine. Looks like they got hit by a bioship."
Rygo nodded. "Remata'klan," he said to his Breen Chief Tactical Officer, "go to red alert. Tactical scans, keep an eye out for that bioship."Remata'klan nodded as the alert klaxon sounded. Raydza spoke up again. "Sir, I'm reading... what appears to be a life sign on one of the larger debris chunks. It's not Undine... I think it's a drone. It's the only one left on the ship, from what I can tell."
Seven of Nein (for that is what Rygobeth's chief engineer called herself, to prevent being confused with the liberated Borg that came home with Voyager; their designations had been similar), who was manning the Engineering station on the Bridge, said, "Sir, it might be worth the time to liberate this one. It's the only survivor, which means its connection to the Collective is probably severed, and it's our duty to help those we can."
Rygobeth pondered the suggestion for several moments, then tapped a control on his chair. "Bridge to Sickbay," he said, "Prepare to receive an injured Borg drone. We're liberating it." Tasop, the Aenar CMO, replied, "We'll be ready." The comm channel closed with a quiet beep. Rygo stood. "Seven, Remata'Klan, you're with me, we're going to visit our newest guest. Kopaka, you have the bridge." The three officers stepped into a turbolift, and off they went.
A few minutes later, the trio walked into the ship's large medical bay. In the Intensive Care Unit, behind a force field, was the drone. It wasn't conscious. On the other side, operating a console, was a light-blue-skinned alien wearing a white and blue uniform. This was Tasop, the Chief Medical Officer of the Determination. He was an Aenar, and of course congenially blind, but his race's unique form of vision (Blindsense, using their telepathic abilities) allowed Tasop to "see" far kore than most Medical Officers, even allowing him to view the inside of a patient's body for basic prognosis. Because of this, he was an outstanding medic. You never needed to tell him where it hurt, he could see the active nerves. As they entered (and without turning his head from the display), he said, "Welcome, Admiral, Commander, Lieutenant Commander," addressing first Rygo, then Seven, then Remata'klan. Rygo responded, "What's its status?"
"He, you mean, admiral," said the Aenar. "The drone is male. In response to yourquestion, he's suffered moderate torso damage. He was rendered unconscious likely by a sharp blow to the head, probably a bulkhead, since his cranial transceiver array has been almost totally destroyed. His implants are regenerating the tissue damage, but I've put in place a cortical stimulator I modified to prevent the transceiver from being repaired. He'll never hear the Collective again."
Seven asked, "When can you begin implant removal?"
"Unfortunately," replied Tasop, "it appears that this is not this drone's first serious injury. His body has been regenerated by his implants so many times that most of them are permanently fused to him. They can never be removed. However, without the Collective, a few will be unable to function; case in point, his personal shield. He won't be adapting to anything any time soon."
Rygo asked, "Can you wake him? And, before you say anything Remata'klan, I know the risks. I'll take them." The Jem'Hadar grumbled.
"I can try. He'll probably be delirious, reluctant to speak, and have memory issues because of the damage."
"Wake him," the admiral ordered. The force field lowered, and Tasop walked over with a hypospray. He pressed the hypo to the drone's neck and injected the stimulant. Lights began to turn back on, a quiet whirring started, and finally the drone's sole free eye (his right one) opened. He didn't move, but asked slowly in a robotic voice, "Where... am I?" The question surprised the group, as drones recently liberated did not usually refer to themselves as I, preferring for a time to continue saying we. "You're on the Federation Starship Determination," said Rygo. "I am Admiral Rygobeth Lerginas, commanding. Do you know where you came from?"
The drone replied, again slowly, "I... was on a Sphere... We were attacked by... Species 8472... I was hit by something... I couldn't hear the Collective... lost consciousness..."
Rygobeth pressed on, "You knew you lost contact, you refer to yourself as I, and you seem more clear-headed than most drones fresh from liberation. What's your story?"
The drone said, "I was... a different assimilation... glitched. I could... still... think... I could... still resist... fighting... for twenty years..."
Rygobeth was amazed. Anyone fighting the Collective for that long was truly amazing. "Do you remember your name, where you were from, what race you were?"
The drone replied, "I was... human... my... family was from... Sweden... but... I remember no names..."
Rygo then said, "What was your designation?"
The drone told him, "I was... 5 of 10... secondary processor... Unimatrix... 1031... But in my mind... I called... myself... Motstand... That... is what... I will... be called."
Rygo muttered, "Motstand... sounds Swedish... What does it mean," he asked.
Motstand smirked weakly, then said\, "It means... Resistance..." then, he sighed. He was tired. Tasop said, "Enough, admiral. Our guest needs to rest. You'll have a full report in the hour." Rygo nodded, then looked at Motstand. "Welcome back to the free galaxy, Motstand."
Motstand summoned enough strength and said, "Thank...you..." The bridge crew departed as Tasop got to work speeding up the regeneration.
Captains Log, supplemental. The dro- rather, Motstand, has asked to join my crew. He was an analyst and processing drone in the Collective, and I've assigned him to the scientific department. His implants are still there, as they are required, but I've gotten no complaints from the crew. Starfleet Command has given me the greenlight on this decision, and I am happy to welcome the newest member of the crew. I get the feeling he will serve with distinction.
Author's note: Motstand is one of my character's BOffs, the Borg Science Officer from KA. Motstand IS Swedish for Resistance, and kudos to those who got the First Contact reference!
"Now entering the Gamma Orionis Sector," Ensign T'Natra reported crisply from the helm of the USS Valkyrie.
In her command chair, Captain Amanda Palmer felt a nervous fluttering in her stomach as she surveyed the forward viewscreen, and the half-destroyed hulk of a Borg cube.
"Red Alert," she ordered. "Analysis?"
At ops, Lieutenant Brandon Mayer looked over the sensor reports.
"Sensors are picking up residual traces of particle weapons fire, but whatever did that to the cube is long gone. I'm also detecting considerable subspace turbulence, a transwarp conduit could open within minutes."
"Status of the cube?" Palmer demanded, nervously clenching her fist and grinding her fingertips into her palm.
"Dead in space," Mayer replied. "No energy output, minimal lifesigns. Maybe only a handful of drones left-"
"Captain! Quantum torpedoes are firing!" interrupted the deep voice of Lieutenant Commander Bellic Chanos from tactical 2 behind Palmer.
On the screen, she watched the blue-white glow of the torpedoes streaking towards the ravaged cube, slamming into its only intact side, and triggering an explosion from deep within the bowels of the vessel, before leaping from her chair.
"I did not order weapons fired!" she thundered. "There were survivors on that ship, disconnected drones are considered to be injured friendlies, not active targets!"
"Nor did I fire them, Captain," Chanos replied at once. "I was reporting on the events, not on my actions."
"Captain, I fired the torpedoes," reported Commander Rynar Lambert, standing back from tactical 1, his hands held behind his back. "It was... a kindness."
Palmer's eyes widened and her jaw tightened as she fought to reign in her temper. The idea of an officer behaving without proper authorization was bad enough, but for it to be her first officer of over a decade: She had never felt such utter betrayal. Eventually, she found enough of a voice to speak.
"My apologies, Commander Chanos. Relieve the first officer of his sidearm, and escort him to his quarters."
"Aye, Captain," Chanos replied, holding out a hand for Lambert's phaser. Without hesitation, Lambert relinquished the weapon, then silently strode across the bridge to the access door on the rear port-side, Chanos closely following him. As the doors closed, a silence fell on the bridge which could have been cut with a knife. It hung like a shroud, before Mayer discreetly cleared his throat.
"Captain, I'm picking up a single drone in the debris field which is still functional. The subspace turbulence is also increasing. If we don't want to encounter another cube, I suggest we leave immediately.
"Understood," Palmer replied. "Bridge to transporter room two: Lock onto the functional drone and beam them directly to sickbay. Helm, bring us about and get us out of here, maximum warp."
"Aye, Captain," T'Natra replied, as if nothing untoward had even happened.
"Lieutenant Mayer, you have the bridge," Palmer said as she walked briskly towards the rear access door. In the corridor, her thoughts were a dervish of confusion as she rounded the corner towards Lambert's quarters. Chanos stood by the door, the confiscated phaser held at his side in a position of relaxed alertness. Reaching out to touch the door's control pad, Palmer stalled her fingers, and turned to the muscular Bolian.
"Mister Chanos, I would like to sincerely apologize for my accusation on the bridge. I have never had cause to doubt your competence or your integrity."
"There is no need for apology, Captain," Chanos replied. "Your confusion at the situation is understandable."
Nodding silently, Palmer reached out to touch the control pad, sounding the door chime. After a moment, she tried again, but there was no acknowledgement. Reaching up, she tapped her comm badge.
"Palmer to Lambert. Commander, open the door," she said firmly. There was still no answer, so Palmer reached out, tapping in an over-ride code and the doors slid open, revealing the darkened rooms.
"Ryan!" she exclaimed, seeing the form of Lambert slumped on the floor, naked, except for the ivory fabric of the qIvSut, the warrior's loincloth. Kneeling beside him, Palmer could smell the intensely bitter scent of adanji incense, and as she rolled Lambert onto his back, Palmer saw a gaping wound across his lower abdomen, and a mevak dagger buried hilt-deep in his chest. Lavender blood stained the qIvSut, a vile contrast to the purity of the garment. By Lambert's side, was an unlocked PADD. Palmer snatched it up and read:
I was just a boy when the Borg destroyed our colony. The armada of cubes so vast, the sky turned as black as the beard of Kahless. On that day, with my parents and brothers slain, I swore vengeance, and for every one of those monsters I killed, I got a little piece of that life back. I have dishonored myself by disobeying my captain, and can no longer stand proudly as a warrior. Today was a good day to die.
With a sigh, Palmer dropped the PADD to the deck, and shook her head in mute disbelief. Reaching out, she took hold of the mevak dagger, working the blade free from Lambert's chest, and wiped the blade on the sleeve of her uniform jacket.
"Commander Chanos," she said, rising to her feet. "Please have the first officer's body moved to the ships morgue, and then seal the room. I need to contact Starflee-"
"Sickbay to Palmer," interrupted the disembodied voice of the Valkyrie's chief medical officer.
"Go ahead, Doctor," Palmer replied, passing the mevak to Chanos as she stepped into the corridor.
"Captain, you might like to join us in sickbay. We've landed ourselves quite a catch..."
"On my way, Ben," Palmer said. "Oh, and while I have you on the line, please note in your log that Commander Lambert has been found dead in his quarters, having taken his own life."
As she entered sickbay, Palmer was immediately greeted by Doctor Ben Kincaid, who gestured toward the main surgical bay, which was encased in a shimmering force field. By the biobed, stood the rescued drone. Her exo-armored form was slender, willowy, the facial area free of implants, the extended cranial structure and elegantly beautiful features were unmistakable.
"Captain, I don't think there's any need for introductions," he said dryly.
Palmer tilted her head in a parody of a bow,
"Your Highness," she said, moving closer to the surgical bay.
"No, we are not the One who is Many," said the Borg, her hands raising in a placating gesture. "Please, allow us to explain."
Stopping mere inches from the force field, Palmer folded her arms across her chest and raised an eyebrow.
"Enlighten me," she challenged.
"Our designation is Eleven of Twelve. Before we were assimilated, we were a Starfleet officer, assigned to the USS Kumari. We were a processing drone when our cube was attacked by an unclassified vessel. In the confusion, several drones were abducted, and the One who is Many was destroyed, triggering the Royal Protocol.
"Our form was being modified by the Protocol so we could succeed the One who is Many and oversee the regeneration of our cube. We were separated from the Collective so we could bring order to chaos, but we were then attacked again, and we were blown into the debris field before the Protocol was completed. In the explosion, our neural transceiver was damaged by plasma discharge.
"We no longer have any facility to contact the Collective, and our past memories have returned. Please, help us, Captain. Allow us to prove we are telling the truth."
Palmer pursed her lips.
"Do you know who initially attacked your vessel?" she asked.
"The vessel was of an origin unknown to the Collective, and we intended to add its technological distinctiveness to our own," Eleven replied. "It was sleek, like this," she pulled the artificial fingers of her right hand into a spear-shape, positioned her left hand first above her wrist, and then below it. "Its tactical systems were superior to our cube, which was only a survey probe, and we were nearly destroyed."
Palmer realized immediately that Eleven was describing the Renovatio, and nodded thoughtfully.
"Very well, everything you have told me will be investigated. How do you intend to prove your sincerity?"
"We will willingly turn this humanoid form over to you for analysis," Eleven replied. "We will sacrifice movement and place ourselves at your mercy."
As she spoke, the retention hooks around the neckline of her exo-armor retracted, and the artificial shoulders dropped, exposing the deltoid muscles below.
"Lower the force field," Palmer said, not taking her eyes from the now stationary Borg.
"Captain, are you sure?" Kincaid protested, his dark eyes narrowed with concern. "This may be some kind of ruse."
"Ben, there are two armed guards standing behind me. At the first sign of hostility, I can assure you they will open fire."
Kincaid did not reply verbally, but Palmer could hear the muted chirps as he entered the deactivation code into a console, and she saw the force field wink out of existence.
"What do I have to do?" she enquired, stepping forward until she was almost toe to toe with the Borg.
"If you place your hands on our mandible structure, you will be able to lift our exo-skull from the humanoid form."
Palmer reached out, about to place her hands beneath Eleven's jaw, when she suddenly spoke again.
"We may be heavier than you anticipate. Please, do not drop us."
"Why are you letting me do this?" Palmer asked, positioning her hands on the slick, clammy skin, bracing her palms under the jaw, and her fingers cradling the sculptured cheeks.
"We were a Starfleet officer, you are a Starfleet captain. We do not think you will intentionally harm us." Eleven replied. "We wish to prove our good intentions."
Palmer pushed upwards, lifting the considerable weight of the exo-skull clear of the neckline. It was not a solid weight, the motion of the spinal clamps created a pendulous motion, and she swiftly readjusted her grip. Momentarily holding Eleven's head on a level with hers, Palmer recalled a historical record played in her second year ethics class at the Academy. The impassioned words of the debate rose in her memory:
"Your Honor, Starfleet was founded to seek out new life... Well There It Sits! Waiting..."
Eleven held Palmer's gaze with her shimmering silver eyes, and for a moment, something passed between them: Awareness, understanding, like the trust between two lovers, and with a silent nod, Palmer began to maneuver herself closer to the biobed.
"Ben, support her spine," she ordered, gently rotating and lowering the exo-skull into place on the biobed as Kincaid moved into place on the other side of the biobed, preventing the tail of the spine from digging into the padding. Palmer looked down and tried to avert her eyes from the internal structures visible by the spinal clamps, fixing her attention on Eleven's face. "Is there anything you need?" she asked. "How long can you survive like this?"
"We will need to regenerate in twelve standard hours," Eleven replied. "Until then, we will not need our humanoid form, but even then, as I promised, it is in your hands, to do with as you wish. We would very much like to be able to move again, once we have proven ourself to you,"
"What was your position aboard the Kumari?" she enquired
"We were an exobotanist," Eleven replied. "Our name was Holly Masters, Lieutenant junior grade. Maybe we will be able to return to active duty once we are debriefed by Starfleet Command..."
"That shouldn't be an issue," Palmer replied. "Many people liberated from the Collective return to their positions within the fleet. Of course, the Kumari was destroyed over a decade ago, but there will still be positions available for you."
Kincaid returned to the other side of the biobed, and handed Palmer a PADD. She glanced at the screen, and the cheerful, auburn-haired officer upon it, her rounded features considerably different to the statuesque elegance which the Royal Protocol had created.
Reaching up, Palmer tapped her comm badge, and looked up and away.
"Palmer to Bowen," she said. "Do you have a moment, Commander? I have an unusual request for you."
"More unusual than fabricating an articulation frame in the mid twentieth century?" came the amused Welsh accent of chief engineer Lieutenant Commander Meliden Bowen.
"Considerably," Palmer said. "Do we have the schematics for Captain Data in the engineering archives?"
"I beg your pardon, Captain?"
"Captain Data, the formerly commanding officer of the USS Enterprise, NCC 1701 E. An artificial life form," Palmer clarified.
"I know who you mean, Captain," Meliden replied with an exasperated tone. "I doubt there's an engineer in the fleet who wouldn't. I simply wondered why you would need his schematics."
"I need you to replicate a positronic body based on those schematics, but with a minor modification. The gender needs to be switched from male, to female."
"Captain, is this some sort of joke?" Meliden demanded. "There's no way I can create a functioning positronic brain, I'm an engineer, not a miracle worker!"
Palmer smiled, forgetting that the engineer could not see the expression.
"I don't need you to create the brain, Meliden, just the body. Compare the captain's schematics to all known records of the Borg Queen, and medical files for a Lieutenant Holly Masters. I need you to fabricate an android replica of her form, capable of interfacing with a Borg Queen's systems."
"Captain," said Eleven, attracting Palmer's attention. "Before we were assimilated, we were only five feet tall. When our exo-armor was modified by the Royal Protocol, we were ten inches taller, may we stay that height?"
"Did you hear that, Commander?" Palmer enquired. "Disregard the comparison to Lieutenant Masters, instead, use-" she paused, searching her memory for an example which matched the slender form of the Borg Queen."Use Tilly Jameson as a physical reference."
"That skinny Risan porn star?"
"Closest example I can think of," Palmer explained."How long do you think it will take?"
"Maybe a couple of hours to create the replicator templates," Meliden replied. "But other than that, pretty straight forward."
Four hours later, Palmer stood in the science lab across the corridor from sickbay. In the center of the lab, the newly created artificial form stood passively in a scaffold, waiting. Strategically placed screens of frosted transparent aluminum maintained its modesty, while Eleven's exo-skull was gradually lowered into place by a supporting gantry.
"The body is designed to interface with your existing neural calipers," Meliden explained. "It's considerably less durable than the Borg exo-armor, so treat it accordingly."
"How will we regenerate?" Eleven enquired, as her spinal clamps disappeared into the torso of the android form.
"There's a universal charging port in the wrist of the right hand," Meliden replied. "It will be able to draw power from almost any outlet, and filter it directly to the systems in your exo-skull, as well as maintaining the charge of its own internal power cells.
"In an emergency, you'll be able to regulate the power distribution between the two systems, and will be able to power the body directly from your exo-skull, and vice versa, although I wouldn't recommend doing that for long. I also added a camouflaging subroutine which your nanoprobes will upload, and then alter your skin tone to match that of the body."
As she spoke, the shoulders articulated upwards, closing over Eleven's organic body, and the bioplast skin of the neckline made contact, immediately forming an invisible pressure seal. Within moments, Eleven's face and neck took on the same light tan as the rest of her body. She stood for a moment, looking down at herself.
"We are breathing," she remarked, noting the steady rise and fall of her breasts.
"Thermal regulation," Meliden replied, holding a tricorder near the now-invisible attachment point and running a scan. "And you'll find you have a pulse as well, thanks to the flow of micro-hydraulics."
"Fascinating," Eleven admitted, hugging her arms around herself, before running her hands down her sides to rest on her hips. "The level of tactile feedback is considerable, and far superior to that of our old exo-armored body."
"I'm glad there's no signal degradation, I was wondering how well the neural relays would interface," Meliden admitted. "You'll even find that you're, uh, fully functional, should the need arise, and you don't need to worry about any kind of separation, the clamps locking your exo-skull in place can withstand more force than it would take to wrench off a Human head. I'm just sorry I can't do anything about..." her voice trailed off, and she twirled a finger above the crown of her own head, as if outlining the tubing that exited and re-entered the back of Eleven's extended cranium.
"This form is more than adequate, Commander, thank you," Eleven said, as Palmer handed her a blue surgical gown to put on.
"I think we made a good exchange," Meliden replied as she keyed a sequence into the side of the scaffold. The modesty screens retracted, allowing Eleven to walk forwards, her steps hesitant yet graceful. "We now have a fully functional Borg exo-skeleton to examine. I can't even guess at how much it could evolve the field of cybernetics."
"How do you feel?" Palmer enquired, as Eleven slowly paced the lab, stretching and rippling her fingers. Her hairless brow furrowed while she pondered, before replying:
An hour later, Palmer stood in the rearward torpedo launch bay, wearing her dress uniform. At either side of the loading gantry, the senior officers stood in solemn silence.
"We are gathered here today to pay respects to our honored dead. None of us can know the demons which played upon the mind of our friend, nor can we judge the way in which he conducted himself in those last moments, for he lived by a code different to ours.
"Klingon tradition says that the body of the departed is an empty vessel, and to treat it as such. Our friend lived and died as the embodiment of Klingon tradition, so by honoring that, we shall honor him. We are here for our own benefit and need for closure, our friend has passage on a different course to the rest of us.
"Let us not forget that by his actions, he has delivered a new friend into our midst: Releasing them from a torment few can comprehend, and that for our new friend, his actions were indeed, a kindness."
A nod from Palmer was all that was required, for the master chief petty officer to engage the loading mechanism and set the torpedo casing, draped in the Klingon flag, in motion. Within moments, it had entered the launcher.
At the order, every officer snapped to attention, before throwing back their heads an unleashing a collective roar: A warning to Gre'thor that a warrior approached.
The USS Valkyrie raced towards Earth, stars streaking passed it, when from below the impulse engines, another solitary point of light sped into the darkness, quickly lost among the unwinking eyes of the stars.
"Last time I saw one was before I took command of the Sixth Wave," Kathryn said sullenly.
First Officer Anthi looked at the Borg Drone lying on the table and nodded, recalling the fateful mission that brought her and Captain Beringer together. The table itself was the only piece of furniture in the room. Between the Drone and the two Starfleet officers was an invisible barrier of energy whose modulating frequencies hummed louder than the engines of Solaris. The medical bay was otherwise silent.
"I'm impressed it's still alive," Anthi said. "The Probe was utterly destroyed."
Kathryn did not look away from the specimen. "Any more findings about that?"
Still holding the PADD with the data, the female Andorian seemed to recall the information from memory and did not look away from the Borg either. "Analysis suggests the destruction occurred two days ago. Particle forensics reveal high amounts of Polaron energy primarily used."
Kathryn nodded. "Not many races use Polaron weapons." Anthi agreed silently.
A new member arrived at the couple. Chief Medical Officer Margaret Retarius spoke in a whisper. "Captain, racial scans revealed the Borg is Orion."
"Really?" Kathryn was genuinely surprised and Anthi looked to the Doctor incredulously. "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. What's the next move?"
Margaret crossed her arms, PADD in one hand. "Well, we have plenty of options: place the Borg in stasis for Starfleet review, attempt liberation protocols, or the airlock."
Kathryn smirked. "In other words, whatever we want." Margaret nodded. "Ok, let me review your notes, Doctor; I'll decide when I'm finished." Kathryn walked away with Doctor Retarius' PADD.
Within seconds of reading the Doctor's report, Kathryn was running back to the medical lab. She tapped her communicator and contacted Anthi and Karl Malango: her two most trusted Tactical officers. Crew members were dodging clear from Kathryn's sprint down the hallways. When she reached the medical bay, Karl and Anthi were waiting. Kathryn stopped and hunched over to catch her breath. She reached for Karl's sidearm phaser in between gulps for air but only put her hand out.
Karl was clearly confused. "Sir?"
"Anthi -" Kathryn paused to take a deep breath. "It's one -" another breath, "- of them."
Anthi's eyes widened and she turned to Karl. "Officer Melango, you are ordered to relieve your firearm to the Captain." Karl maintained his confusion but followed the order. He watched as Kathryn set the phaser to it's most powerful setting. She was regaining composure and her breathing was normalizing.
"Thank you Anthi. Follow me in." Kathryn straightened her jacket and all three entered the room. The Borg was still lying on the table. The doors hushed closed behind them. Karl looked at Anthi who replied with a finger to her lips.
"Captain, are you sure?"
"Certain Orion slavers have a brand that runs down the left arm."
Karl paused as he followed the others toward the shielded room. "What's going on here?"
Kathryn stopped at the control panel to the Borg's room. "If that Borg is who I think it is, then it's not walking out of this room alive." She quickly tapped a command and the shield collapsed. She walked up to the Borg and poked at the exposed flesh on his face. After a few seconds, she stepped away and retrieved a laser scalpel. The tiny beam cut open the sleeve without burning into the skin. All three watched as an old scar was revealed. She parted the Borg cloth and winced as she touched the cold grey/green skin.
Karl persisted, "I don't understand."
Kathryn spoke without looking away. "This Orion was certainly a slaver. He was a part of the group that attacked a colonial ship heading to Hesperus. I was on that ship ... I was a slave before I joined Starfleet."
Kathryn placed the phaser's barrel at the top of the Borg's head and paused.
Anthi and Karl looked at each other and took a step back.
Kathryn was still for several seconds then lifted the pistol and handed it back to Karl. "No, you don't deserve that." She stood and tapped her badge. "Thel, what's our current speed?"
"Warp four," the male Andorian replied casually.
"Increase speed to maximum warp until further notice."
There was a pause before Thel acknowledged. The thrum of the engines increased before sonic dampeners compensated.
Kathryn tapped her badge again. "Transporter Room 2."
The badge had a new voice, "Aye, Captain?"
"Scan for my position. Lock on the Borg life signature nearby and immediately beam it out of the ship, 100 meters in front of the forward shield facing."
Two seconds later, the Borg's form shimmered and disappeared.
Captain's Log. We have finished our patrol of the Igmyia system in the Gamma Orionis sector. There was evidence of a short battle between the Borg and Species 8472. Wreckage from a Borg probe was found orbiting the third planet with a lone drone inside, attempting to regenerate the vessel. A full spread of Quantum torpedos quickly destroyed the drone and stopped any further regeneration before it could signal for reinforcements. The system is secure, we are moving on to the next location in our patrol.
One of All Kinds
Lieutenant Commander Vionne Tarayl pulled off her sweat-soaked undershirt and tried to wipe away some of the perspiration on her forehead. She'd really pushed herself in the Shimmering's gym and found it was getting harder to keep up with the fresh-faced crewmen barely out of the Academy. She chuckled to herself and tossed the sopping garment into the clothing bin in the the corner of her personal quarters. It was too wet to do any good. She wandered to her sink to grab a clean, dry towel and paused at her own reflection. Her age was starting to show, admittedly, but she still had the compact, muscular build and shaved head of the marine she once was.
"Ooo...lookin' good, girlie! Yeah! Fierce! Grrrr." She growled to herself and flexed her arms at the mirror.
Unfortunately, as was becoming far too often the case, duty interrupted her personal life in the form of a quiet chime. She chuckled again and started wiping her face with her towel.
A gravelly, perennially resentful voice grumbled over the comm. "Lieutenant Commander. I am incapable of feeling pity for interrupting your personal time. However, feel free to pretend I can and that I do. Something you may find interesting has cropped up and I would appreciate your input."
"Sure thing, Captain. I'll be up in, say, twenty? I reek o' effort an' unwashed Trill."
"Gross." was her Captain's terse and uncomfortable reply before he cut the channel. Tarayl chuckled to herself and shook her head. Some things never changed
Tarayl strode onto the bridge with her usual easy confidence. Captain Khas, the arachnoid commander of the USS Shimmering, gave her an abrupt, forceful nod of recognition and gestured to a tall, pale humanoid with pointed ears and a goblin-like face. "Lieutenant R'ath will fill you in."
The Reman officer stared at Taryal for a moment then seemed to remember he was supposed to speak. "There was a Borg probe here. Now there is wreckage. This piece has a single life-sign on it." He pointed a calloused finger at his console's interactive display. He stood there for a moment, breathing heavily and maintaining intensely strong eye contact. Tarayl thought it was rather dear.
Tarayl rubbed her chin thoughtfully and arched a brow at Khas. He shrugged in response and watched her expectantly.
"Looks mighty interestin', Captain. From what I'm seein'...yeah, energy readin's are consistent with the drone enterin' a power-conservin' mode. I think that's automatic in case any survive a catastrophic ship failure. Normally, the little Borg ships send out a transwarp signal back to the hive, but...not seein' any evidence of it. I think the bugger was taken by surprise, honestly. Anyway, it's not safe to remain here while any of that thing's active. We should probably burn it with fire and scarper off, eh?"
Khas inclined his head slightly, a gesture that Tarayl wasn't entirely sure of, and blew out a suppurating breath from those weird nostril things he had under the flaring triangles of bug-armor on his head. That wasn't a good sign. "I intend to recover the drone. Perhaps it can illuminate us further on what transpired here."
Tarayl froze and tensed. "Well...er. Captain, I'm not sure that's somethin' I can comment on. I'm a doctor o' quantum particle interactions, not, you know the other kind. Not sure how much help I can be."
Khas watched her with those silvery, faceted eyes of his for a moment before shrugging. "You are the only member of this crew who has had any sort of personal interaction with the Borg. I am keenly aware of the rather violent and tragic circumstances surrounding it. That is why I wish for you to be present. If anyone appreciates the danger such an undertaking represents, it is you. I am trusting in your fairness and experience to safeguard this ship in case things do not go well. Should I reconsider this, Lieutenant Commander?"
Tarayl held his gaze for a time, wrestling with her feelings about both the Borg and her alien and inscrutable commander. For all his ill grace, he had a point. She had a duty. It wasn't really about her. Besides, it might be fun.
"No, sir. I'll be honored an' happy to help out. You can count on me, sure enough."
Khas folded back into his command chair without another word, already focusing on some other minor issue that demanded his attention. Tarayl turned to R'ath and gently pushed his lower jaw up a little. "And you, R'ath. You really should learn to breath through your nose and stop starin'."
The Reman flushed a sullen blue-green but nodded in understanding.
"Good, now keep on those sensors and see what you can divine, eh? I've gotta go see a fellow about a robot."
The Borg drone was an old man. That was the first thing that surprised her. The second was how little man there was left of him. Some organs in the torso. A few ribs. The skull, of course, but most of the rest of it, of him, was cybernetic. Despite being inert, he still radiated an aura of understated menace. Tarayl was thankful for the containment field he was currently housed in. At least they had little fear that he could contact the rest of the collective.
Doctor Agrippa, a photonic medical specialist that chose to look a bit like a Roman emperor, was working methodically on the Borg's implants, disabling them one by one. Every now and then he'd consult his own memory banks or ask an engineering team member a few questions, but little else. He didn't have much of a personality yet, but he was the only person on the ship who could work with the drone without fear of being assimilated.
Tarayl shifted slightly. The specialized anti-borg assault weapon she carried was heavy. The two security team member she had selected to back her up in case of trouble seemed alert and anxious. Tarayl herself felt deeply uncomfortable. It was all too easy to see the homey corridors of the Shimmering full of fire and smoke, former friends scattered among the implacable, ever-advancing horde of drones. She'd seen it once already and, though she survived with her body intact, there were still old wounds in her mind. The Autumnal was gone. Most of her unit had perished with it.
She just had to remember it was gone and the she wasn't there any more. This is the Shimmering and she was its first officer. Slowly, like her councilor had taught her to, she fought herself away from the brink of panic and despair. The easy, vaguely predatory smile never left her face.
Doctor Agrippa stood and started wiping his hands. He peered at Tarayl over a strongly-hooked nose and nodded. "I'm gonna activate him now." Tarayl gave him a acknowledging nod and the doctor pointed a tricorder at the vulgar assemblage of meat and metal. There was a 'click' and the Borg drone started to stir.
It looked at Doctor Agrippa for a while, then slowly, carefully, looked around the room. Tarayls' skin crawled as his gaze drifted across her. The Doctor made a polite coughing sound and the Borg's attention turned back to him with laser focus. He addressed it in a dry, croaking voice.
"I am...twelve of ninety seven." The borg's voice sounded hoarse despite its obviously artificial voice box. "You are...not a member of a catalogued species."
"Nope. Still alive, as much as you are at least. What is your mission, Twelve of Ninety Seven."
"To observe the Federation in preparation for assimilation into the collective."
Tarayl cut off the Doctor's next question with one of her own. "Still want to do that? Still feel like observin' and assimilatin'?"
The drone seemed to ponder that for a very long time. After a silence that stretched for almost five minutes it frowned. "That seems like an awful lot of work, truth be told."
Tarayl started to chuckle. It didn't sound funny to anyone else.
Khas' ready room was spartan with only a few sops to comfort for the sake of his crew. Tarayl, Agrippa, and the drone sat across from him. His officers were looking a bit nervous, and doing that horrible mouth-twist that they did when they were feeling that...that thing that wasn't displeasure. The drone was largley unmoving, but looked somehow disoriented. Khas turned to the drone and regarded it with his usual cold, insectoid pragmatism.
"I have been assured that you are, at least for the moment lucid and operating as an individual. Is this the case, Twelve of Ninety Seven?"
"Yes." Twelve replied and nodded after a moment, as though suddenly remembering to.
"How long have you been a part of the collective?"
"I was assimilated forty three years, nine moths, and seventeen days ago by Earth standards." Khas gave Doctor Agrippa a stoney look and the holographic crewman nodded in agreement.
"My own scans confirm it. He's human originally, and was assimilated when was about twenty two." Khas turned back to the former drone.
"Do you recall any of this?" The drone seemed to mull over that for a while.
"No. My memories are here, somewhere, but I can no longer remember where mine ended and the rest of the collective began. Every time I try to look for me, I see...everyone else."
"You are surprisingly lucid. Can you explain?"
"I think, Captain, that he was old enough to have a well-formed personality when he was assimilated. It has been repressed, buried under mountains of data and the will of the collective, but it's been there all the time." the Doctor mused.
Twelve shrugged slowly and deliberately. "That is possible. What do you wish of me, Captain? Why didn't you simply kill me? I think I would prefer death to this...confusion...right now."
Khas steepled his forelimbs. "Your probe was attacked by something. Something that hit hard enough, fast enough, and suddenly enough to prevent it from communicating with the collective. We'd like to know what."
Twelve scratched vaguely at the clammy, bluish skin of his head. "It was species...well. I don't know the Federation name for them. I think we were investigating a power signature. We approached as stealthily as we could but a ship appeared and surrounded us in an energy field. The field collapsed and destroyed our vessel."
Khas grunted. "Tholians. Very well. You've done what I asked, though I will want to question you further once you've had some time to recover. For now, you will be confined to medical and put under the care of Doctor Agrippa. We plan to reintroduce you to the Federation if you wish. Even help you recover your old identity if we can determine it. You are not a prisoner, but until we're sure that you present no extraordinary danger to our crew, you will probably feel we are treating you like one. I am sorry, but that is how it must be for now. Do you have any requests of me?"
"I wish to be redesignated. I am not Twelve of Ninety Seven, but I don't know who else to be. What group am I to be a part of?"
Tarayl sighed sadly. "You ain't too different from the rest of us, then."
"Us? How many of 'us' are there?" Twelve asked her curiously.
"Like, a Bajillion." The drone snorted, then looked rather surprised that he did so.
"That pleases me. For now, I would like to be Twelve of, Like, A Bajillion."
Tarayl started laughing brightly and Khas irritably sighed to himself. Why not? His ship was full of castaways, political refugees, and malcontents, all which were sickening to look up on and completely incomprehensible. At least the borg was less hideous than the rest of them.
Ship Records, USS Hans Asperger, UFP Starfleet
Vice Admiral Jonathan R. Sills, commanding
Captain's Log, stardate 91374.2. On standard patrol of Gamma Orionis sector, we have detected a rogue planet. Its star of origin has not yet been determined. Long-range scans indicate metallic debris in orbit; Commander Sham has requested a closer look, and with nothing else on scanners, I see no reason not to indulge him.
"Approaching planet, Admiral."
Sills leaned forward in his seat, knowing it was a foolish gesture, but straining to make out the unlit planet against the backdrop of deep space anyway. "Overlay a tactical plot, if you please, R'shee."
The Andorian navigator nodded. "Aye, sir," she replied, her fingers brushing her console. On the screen, a false-color image sprang up, delineating the dark world they closed in on. Green grid-outlined shapes showed the debris orbiting the planet, forming the beginning of a tiny ring.
"What is that, anyway?" Sills asked.
"It would appear," Sham, his science officer, replied, "to be what's left of a Borg cube. No records of any combat here - it's possible the cube was damaged elsewhere, and laid up in this planet's sensor shadow to attempt repairs." He shrugged. "Looks like they didn't work."
"Hmm. Can't say I feel a lot of sympathy." Sills peered at the display, then walked up to it and pointed at a small blinking dot. "What's that?"
"One moment, sir... It seems to be a life sign. Species indeterminate - it's not doing well at all. Not sure if it's even a Borg."
"Interesting." Sills stroked his beard for a moment, considering the dot, and the life it represented. What might it be? Could it be dangerous? A source of intelligence on their enemy? All of the above? He turned to his first officer. "Dominic, have that beamed into Sickbay. Set up a level-three security screen, and station at least two security personnel there at all times as well. This might be something we need."
Commander Traxx, his security chief, turned to him, her Bolian head flushing slightly bluer than usual. "Sir, I cannot recommend this course of action. In my opinion, this will expose the ship to an undue level of risk."
"Thank you, Bohdiso," Sills replied. "I'm glad you take me at my word when I say I want my officers to speak freely." Traxx blushed even more. "I appreciate your concern," the admiral went on, "but if this is a lone Borg, it might be a valuable source of intel. Besides, you know Quinn wants us to liberate as many Borg as we can - you don't get much more efficient officers than Borg, except maybe those exocomps. And heaven knows we need as many officers as we can get, what with the Undine, the Iconians, the Tal Shiar, and the low-level thing that's still brewing with the Klingons. No, I think we want to pick this up."
"Energizing," Commander Dominic Tascher announced. "It's in sickbay's secure bed." He paused. "The doctor would like to see you, sir. He says you'll want to check this out."
"Thanks, Dominic. Let him know I'm on my way."
The sickbay doors slid open, barely getting out of the admiral's way. "Tascher said you wanted to see me?" he asked Dr. Merida.
The photonic doctor nodded. "Yes, sir. That's partly because I don't really know how to classify this patient you've given me."
"What do you mean? Is it a Borg? An unknown species? Somebody we might know?"
"That's - not entirely clear, sir. If you could come this way?" Merida gestured.
Rounding the corner, Sills saw - something. He wasn't entirely sure what he was looking at. Part organic, part machine, mostly looking unfinished, like a do-it-yourself project abandoned by a bored handyman. Sills shuddered.
"Yes, that was my first reaction as well," the doctor said. "I can't be certain, of course, but I'd say that what we have here is someone in the process of assimilation, a process interrupted when his ship was destroyed. There are Borg implants present, but not all are functional - the adaptation systems, for instance, are offline, and the nanoprobes are completely dormant." He shrugged. "I'm not even certain what to do here - standard liberation protocols don't seem to apply; some of the systems I'd have to modify aren't even there. I've stabilized his vital signs - but it's an interesting question as to whether this patient is even alive, in any conventional sense."
"Can you tell what it - used to be?"
"Preliminary DNA analysis of the organic segment is incomplete, but it looks like it's probably Vulcanoid in origin. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say he was probably Romulan. Almost certainly male, as well. If the original personality still remains, that could make him even more dangerous - Elements alone know what his mnhei'sahe might demand then. Speaking of which--" The doctor's image blurred for a moment, then steadied into a Romulan appearance. "If you do elect to let this patient regain consciousness," he said, "it might be best if he saw a - friendly face."
Sills grinned. "I take your point," he replied.
Merida cocked his head, his face puzzled. "Was that a pun on the ears?"
Sills winced. "Not intentionally, no." He looked again at the half-formed Borg on the table. "Well," he said reflectively, "I don't suppose he'd be as dangerous as a real drone if we woke him up. Go ahead, we can sort it out after."
"Very well, sir. If you could please step back? I can almost guarantee he won't react well to a human face."
Sills moved away from the table, taking up a position near the guards. He rested his hand on his sidearm - just in case, he thought. The metal of the grip was reassuring under his hand.
Merida applied a hypospray to the exposed organic portion of the patient's left arm. The patient stirred, then suddenly leaped from the table, screaming, punching repeatedly at Dr. Merida. The doctor, fortunately, was able to reduce his tangibility in time, and took little damage from the attack. After a moment, the patient stopped, looked at the doctor, then down at himself, and moaned.
"Computer," Sills asked aloud, "were you able to pick up the language there?"
"Affirmative," the compute replied cooly. "Subject language is Rihannsu. Translator is online."
"That's nice," the doctor said in fluent Romulan. "Now then, young man, how are you?"
"How am I??" The patient looked as if he wanted to start screaming again. "I'm half one of those - those auroto, those undead monstrosities!" He looked up at the doctor again. "Can this be undone?"
"It is to be hoped," Merida replied. "My name is Dr. Merida. Who are you?"
"I am Seventeen of-- no, Elements curse it! I am not Borg! I am erei'Riov Galan tr'Hheinia!! I am chief weapons officer of the... of the... Curse, why can't I remember?"
"It is understandable," the doctor said. "You have, after all, been through rather a lot..."
tr'Hheinia looked around wildly. "This is no Rihannsu ship!" he said accusingly. "Who are you, that wears the face of a friend?"
"As I said, I am Dr. Merida. You've been picked up from the debris of a Borg cube-ship by a Federation starship."
"Federation?" What could be seen of the Romulan's face seemed taken aback. "Well," he said grudgingly, "it could be worse. I could have been 'rescued' by one of those Fire-accursed Gorn." He half-shrugged - all that could be done, lacking implants in what remained of his right arm. "Well, so long as I am your prisoner, you may as well take on your normal appearance. You are one of those Starfleet hologram officers, are you not?"
"Yes, I am," Merida replied. "However, I'm beginning to think I like this face. I may keep it."
tr'Hheinia raised his remaining eyebrow. "You have such freedom?"
"Of course. Don't your photonic crew members?"
"Romulans do not use photonics. It would seem - heresy, to create the semblance of a man from Fire and Air, as if we controlled the Elements themselves." Another half-shrug. "I've never been very devout, myself."
Sills stepped toward the force wall. "Let me introduce myself. I'm Admiral Sills, commanding the Hans Asperger. I must say, erei'Riov, you seem rather more, well, open than I would have expected. Don't you fear the Tal Shiar, should you be repatriated?"
"The Tal Shiar?" The Romulan tried to spit, but seemed to lack saliva. "Those Iconian lap-dogs, trading away their honor, and the soul of the Empire, for the borrowed power of their masters! We refused to submit to our own kind during the Sundering, and they would surrender to aliens now!"
"Hmm. Interesting. I take it you're not a big fan of the Empress, then?"
"Empress? Hah! None have tried to seize that title for over a thousand years! And she deserves it less, the half-breed kllhwnia! She could not gain support of the Fleet, did you know that? She had to bribe those Hirogen hnoiyika to back her! No, our ship had come seeking a rumor of a new ch'Rihan, a new home for our people, a new beginning for our Empire, free from her corruption. We followed what hints we could, until that damned cube caught us, and it-- and it..." He began to shake.
"Admiral," the doctor interrupted, "his heart rate has become unacceptably high. I must administer a sedative. You'll have to leave my patient alone." His hypospray hissed against the Romulan's flesh again.
Sills turned to leave. "Wait," the Romulan called out, his voice already sounding drugged. "What are you to do with me now?"
"I don't really know," the admiral admitted. "If you'd been assimilated, we'd put you through liberation protocols, and then after your implants had all been deactivated we'd try to persuade you to join Starfleet. If you had just been their prisoner, we'd probably repatriate you - we're not at war with your people, after all. Under the circumstances--" He shrugged. "We have a lot of leeway out here. What would you like to have us do with you?"
"I would pledge you my service, Khre'enriov. You have saved my life, and serving you would provide me vengeance against those auroto. Mnhei'sahe would be served. Please."
Sills stroked his beard. "Provisionally, that might be a good idea. What say we get those implants out of you, then reach a final decision? You might like to see Mol'Rihan first, though - we'll be stopping by there after this patrol."
"Mol'Rihan..." tr'Hheinia said, his voice drifting toward sleep as he did his best to smile with a half-ruined face. "It is real..."
The Drone simply stood there, as it had for nearly the last half hour or so. It didn't move, it didn't even blink. It simply stood, and stared.
Sann could offer no explanation for its lack of behaviour, nor could Adim. Superficially, the Borg Drone was functioning no differently than any other of its kind encountered by Starfleet. The many cybernetic implants grafted or even grown into its palllid flesh continued to operate as normal, sustaining the Drone's biomechanical life and granting it whatever special functions or abilities the Collective might have once required of it. But Arkos knew, from all reports and literature on the matter, that Borg Drones severed from the Collective usually weren't this inert. In most cases, when severed from the dominating aegis of the Borg uni-mind, Drones had a tendency wander about aimlessly and prod and poke at things as the more rudimentary aspects of their minds took over.
This Drone, though, was a statue. Ever since they had reactivated it, it had done nothing but stand there in the shielded brig, staring intently at them, unblinking. And in all honesty, it unnerved the hell out of Arkos.
Sann stood at the edge of the forcefield, scanning their new prisoner with her tricorder. "Its cognitive functions appear to be normal, compared to data taken from other disconnected Borg," she mused. "Its vital signs are similarly unimpaired, and...whatever natural organs it still has are quite healthy. Its implants don't appear to be impacted in any way either." She closed her tricorder and shook her head at Arkos. "I really can't tell what's wrong with it, sir. Not unless we give it a closer inspection."
K'Nera didn't take her eyes off of the Borg as Sann spoke. "I wouldn't recommend that, Captain," she said. "Even if it is severed from the Collective, it should still be considered as a potentially dangerous threat. It already poses a Pi-level security risk just by being on the ship."
And yet we brought it onto the ship anyway, risking potential assimilation, Arkos thought to himself as he poked his chin, because we were curious, and we still are curious. "Is it possible that it's inert state could be related somehow to the damage its ship suffered?" he wondered aloud, hoping it wasn't the answer he was thinking.
Adim was the first to let his hopes down. "It's possible, sir," he replied. "In fact, I would consider it likely, given the highly unusual nature of both circumstances."
The answer left Arkos frowning all the more. The Da Vinci had been on a routine patrol in the Gamma Oriolis Sector when they had discovered the wreckage of a Borg Probe ship floating, semi-intact, amidst a cloud of its own debris. The damage had apparently been total, and its systems were completely dead, but their scanners had still picked up a single life sign-- a solitary Borg drone, locked away into one of the ship's many interfaces, being kept alive by its own internal support system. It was rare for a Borg drone to be captured alive, so they had beamed it aboard the ship for study, and eventually decided to reactivate it to see if it could be liberated.
The fact that the Borg ship had been wrecked wasn't too surprising to Arkos-- with the right application of firepower, even the dreaded Borg Cubes could be taken down, as he remembered well from the Battle of Vega. What bothered him, though, was that the Borg vessel had shown no evidence of weapons dischage or kinetic impact on its hull. Whatever it was that had destroyed this Borg Probe, it had been internal...
"So, whatever it was that killed its ship could also be affecting it?" K'Nera bit her lip. One of her antennae visibly tensed. "Not very pleasant odds, if you ask me. Captain, I recommend that we beam this Drone back out into space. Better safe than sorry, after all."
Arkos glanced back at the Borg. Like all of its kind, roughly eighty to ninety per cent of its body was a mass of gunmetal silver and black, whatever organic components it had sheathed in a carapace of bulkheads, wires, plates, conduits, servos and alloys. The only visibly organic component was its face-- a white, hairless, humanoid face whose left eye was replaced by a laser-dotted lens, and whose crown was yet more metal plating. It looked like it might have been Human, pre-assimilation, but its expression was still blank, emotionless, and decidedly in-Human.
Just like the horde of Drones that had flooded the Khitomer during the Battle of Vega, Arkos thought uncomfortably, and had nearly caught and assimilated him during that bitter boarding action. The Borg had always fascinated and horrified him in equal measure. They fascinated him because, in many ways, they were the technological ideal-- a race that had overcome all known biological weaknesses through synthetic augmentation, and who had adapted and evolved into what was essentially a new type of lifeform through purely artificial means. Although he knew that this opinion was not shared at all by the rest of the Federation, as an Engineer he couldn't help but admire the Borg's technological advances.
But just as they fascinated Arkos, the Borg also horrified him. The Kllingons waged war for their outdated notion of glory, the Orions for riches and slaves, and, historically, the Dominion for territory. But the Borg continuously invaded the Federation for no less a goal than the assimilation and repurposing of all sentient life. The concept was pretty nightmarish, to say the least.
"Your recommendation is noted, Ensign K'Nera," he replied to his Tactical Officer, before turning to the other Andorian present. "Adim, what's your opinion?"
The Da Vinci's Chief Engineer stroked his white beard thoughtfully, a gesture that was slowly becoming his trademark. "K'Nera does have a point, Captain," he said, "but we'll also want to find out what it was that destroyed that Borg ship. All we found out from an examination of the Probe's hull and main systems is that the damage was catastrophic. If we want to find out what caused that damage, our best bet is to examine this drone."
"There's something else, Captain," Sann added. "There still exists the possibility that we can liberate this Drone now that it's been severed from the Collective."
The Trill's comment made K'Nera's frown tightened. She didn't need to say anything for Arkos to know her opinion on the matter. Her first Starfleet posting had been on the poor Khitomer at Vega Colony, and it was safe to say that her opinions of the Borg-- even liberated ones-- weren't very pleasant.
"Hmm." Arkos turned his gaze back to the Borg, and met its unblinking, yellow-eyed stare. Sann's suggestion had piqued one question in his mind. Is there still something sentient in there?
"We should probably examine the Drone more thoroughly," he said, "but Sann has a point. We need to know if the Drone is self-aware before we starting poking around its metallic insides. You know, respect for sentient life and all that."
"If only the Borg were as considerate..." K'Nera mumbled under her breath. Arkos answered her with a withering glance, as a warning that she was getting dangerously close to a reprimand.
Turning back to the Borg, Arkos stepped up to the shimmering edge of the force field and met its stare once again. "My name is Arkos Nair," he said. "I'm commander of the Federation starship Da Vinci. Do you...understand what I'm saying?"
The Borg said nothing, but merely stared on at him, mutely.
"We found you," Arkos went on, "in the wreckage of a Borg ship. As far as we can tell, you aren't a member of the Collective anymore. Do you...do you remember anything? Your name? Your home? Anything?"
There was no answer. The Borg simply kept staring at him.
Arkos let out a deep breath. No. There was nothing there. Whatever had happened to the Borg, it was practically braindead now. There was no sentience, no self-awareness, nothing. Dissasembling it would probably be a mercy.
He was turning around to order Adim to terminate the Drone and begin proceedings for an autopsy, when a flicker of movement caught the corner of his eye. He turned back to the Borg.
It had blinked.
No, it hadn't just blinked. It had cocked its head to the side, as though curious. And as Arkos watched, baffled, the Borg slowly took a clanking, metallic step towards the edge of the force field, towards Arkos.
Behind him, the two Security personnel readied their phaser rifles. K'Nera tensed, and Adim and Sann both flipped open their tricorders and began scanning eagerly.
Slowly, Arkos stepped back to the edge of the force field, so that he was almost face to face with the Borg. The Drone's face was still blank and impassive, with no sign of intellect or self-awareness at all on its expression. But it was moving. It was responding.
The Drone's mouth opened, and, in a flat, droning voice that sounded like several voices synthesized through a machine, it spoke.
"Ess sala thul zexu xuru ulla kasst tthonna skkla zen nesu usenn athta sequ quru kla nas..." The string of words came rolling off of the Drone's tongue in an unceasing tide of syllables. At first, Arkos wondered if his universal translator was malfunctioning, but he soon realized that whatever this Borg was speaking, it wasn't in any known translatable language. Either that, or it was a string of meaningless babble. For some reason, though, the tide of sounds struck some sort of chords with him. He didn't know why, but he felt a chill run down his spine listening to it.
He took a step back. "Sann," he said, "what's going on?"
Sann looked at her tricorder. "I'm not quite sure, Captain," she replied. "It's not--"
She froze as the Borg suddenly looked at her, continuing to drone its long, incomprehensible string of sounds as it did so. There was a sudden buzz, like a small electronic throat being squeezed, and suddenly Sann's tricorder went silent. Sann looked down, alarmed, at her device, its lights and readings black and dead, before there was a similar sound and Adim's tricorder died in his hand as well.
A second later, there was a short buzz as the force field flickered and deactivated, before the main light went out.
Arkos jumped back, alarmed. Everything was happening too quickly for him to follow. People were shouting. The auxiliary lights were flickering in an unusual colour, and the Borg Drone was stepping forwards, past the boundaries of the force field, continuing its long, droning chant.
Realization sunk in for Arkos, even as K'Nera whipped out her hand phaser and fired. The beam scored a glancing blow against the Drone's chest, burning a gouge in its chestplate. Its body shook, but it remained standing as it turned its impassive gaze to the Andorian. K'Nera pressed the phaser's emitter again...and stared in disbelief as the phaser simply sat lifelessly in her hand. No beam. No discharge. Nothing.
There was the duller whine of a heavier discharge as one of K'Nera's security detail fired his phaser rifle. The condensed blast slammed against the drone's shoulder, staggering it, burning off much of its metal plating and filling the room with the stench of cooking meat. The drone showed no pain as it turned its blank gaze to the guards. They tried to fire again. Nothing.
"...essa yuul shuub sulla..." the Borg droned on as it stomped towards them. "...zara juur miis oon enna suud..."
Even as he fell back towards the doorway, along with K'Nera, Sann and Adim, Arkos knew what was going on. He tapped his comm badge, and felt indescribable relief when he heard it beep. It was working.
"Nair to Transporter Room!" he shouted, his voice betraying more of his panic than he cared to admit. "Lock onto the Borg Drone and beam it into deep space, now!" Behind him, Adim's auxiliary power units flickered, their glow changing colour. Oh no, no no no no no...
"We can't get a lock, sir!" came Chief Rukel's voice on the other end, edged with static. "Something's throwing up some kind of interference!" As Rukel spoke, one of the security officers resorted to some improvisation, rushing the Drone while swinging the butt of his rifle like a club.
There was a dull clang as the rifle smashed against the side of the Borg's head, staggering it yet again. The drone seemed not to care as it almost lazily swung its arm at the ensign. There was a dull crunch of bone as the metallic forearm connected with the ensign's face, and he crumpled to the floor. Free of this nuisance, the Borg's advance resumed.
"....axi sunna haan yass iri lem shaan saar...."
Arkos swore under his breath. "Can you get a lock on us?"
That was something, at least. "Then lock onto my position, and beam it into deep space in exactly ten seconds!"
There was a single, bewildered second of silence on the other end. "Sir--"
"That's an order, dammit!" he almost screamed, before pulling his communicator free from his uniform. It was time, he decided, to do something monumentally stupid.
Digging his heels into the floor, Arkos sprang forward, charging the advancing Borg head-on before his senior officers could stop him.
In truth, Arkos only had basic close combat skills, and had ended up in the infirmary more times than he cared to admit during CQC classes at the Academy. But all he needed, he knew, was one solid hit. He lunged, whipping his arm forwards...
...and pressing his comm badge against the Borg's chest plate. As the comm badge stuck, the Borg's instrument-laden arm swung at him. He tried to dodge, but moved to slow-- he could almost hear his ribs breaking as the limb slammed against his chest. With a wordless cry, he toppled onto his back, his chest a burning mass of agony. Above him, the Borg inclined its head to stare down at him.
"...la sanna tenu vorrat sen kal yit namu shadd..."
And then, in mid-drone, the Borg was enveloped in a brilliant sheen of blue-white. Its form became insubstantial, billions of white particles seen revolving within its ghostly form, before it finally vanished from sight completely.
Arkos let out a relieved groan, even as K'Nera and Sann came rushing to kneel over him.The lights flickered and came back on, bringing a sense of normalcy back to the room, and Adim rushed to the auxiliary generators to make sure they were functioning properly. Arkos glanced up at K'Nera, who was cradling his head while Sann ran a now-functioning tricorder over him.
"Ensign," he rasped, "you're the one with a communicator."
Thankfully, K'Nera was quick to pick up on Arkos' meaning. She quickly tapped her comm badge. "K'Nera to Bridge, lock phasers onto the Borg drone we've just set adrift and fire!"
"Acknowledged," came the voice of Ensign Farim from the bridge. There was a short pause, before Farim spoke up again. [i]"We've vaporized it, ma'am. There's nothing left of it."
Looking visibly relieved, K'Nera nodded. "We have wounded down here, including Captain Nair. Have Sickbay send down an emergency medical team immediately."
"Acknowledged. Farim out."
Taking a deep breath, K'Nera looked down at Arkos. "Permission to speak freely, sir?"
Arkos nodded. "Granted," he rasped, surprised at how ragged his voice sounded. Each breath felt like a flame igniting in his lungs.
"If you ever do something that idiotic again, sir, I'll kill you myself and spare the Borg the effort."
The comment made Arkos chuckled. A mistake, he quickly discovered, as it made his chest hurt even more. "I'm sure Starfleet command will look favourably on you terminating your commanding officer, K'Nera," he wheezed.
"You have three cracked ribs and one broken one," Sann said as she scanned Arkos. "Nothing immediately life-threatening, though. You'll be alright, sir."
Arkos nodded weakly. "Good to know." He glanced further back at his chief engineer. "Adim, do a thorough scan of the ship's systems. Whatever it was that the Borg did, I want to be absolutely sure that the ship hasn't been affected or infected in some way. I think we now have some idea of what happened to the Borg ship." He turned to K'Nera. "Send a message to Starfleet Command, informing them of what has just happened. Recommend to them that this section of space be quarantined."
K'Nera nodded. "Aye aye, sir." She paused. "What...was that, do you think?'
Taking a deep breath, Arkos leaned his head back. "I don't know, Ensign...but whatever it was...it was capable of assimilating the Borg."
After much deliberation, Isabella Hillel decided that she hated Benjamin Sisko. Her husband Yair had been racked with uncertainty after his "vision" in the Bajoran wormhole and subsequent talk with Sisko. The look in Yair's eyes when he recited Sisko's words to her was horrific. "Miles O'Brien spent the last three years of his life helping poor Bajoran colonies. It only makes sense that the Prophets would smile on his work - and want someone else to carry on."
Right now Yair was playing with their four year old daughter Emily. It was obvious to Isabella (and probably Emily too) that he wasn't paying attention. His mind was lost in the wormhole.
I woke up to the red alert klaxon and Lieutenant Carpenter's high pitch voice begging for the senior staff. Isabella was already stirring next to me. I ran into the closet to find a uniform and a phaser while she went to comfort Emily.
"Hillel to Ensign M'Taztru."
"M'Taztru here. We entered the Gamma Orionis System Seventeen Theta Two Hundred Eleven and detected that appears to be the remains of a Borg vessel, sir."
I stood up and jogged towards the safe where my weapons are kept. "Is it safe to use the emergency transport protocol?"
"Yes sir. There are no ships within sensor range. Someone could be cloaked though."
"Thank you. I'll be right there." I closed the safe and stood up. "Computer, beam me to the bridge, authorization Hillel Tango Epsilon Eight."
I was the first senior officer to reach the bridge. Apparently no one else remembers about the emergency transport protocol at 0347 hours. Lieutenant Carpenter stood up and walked over to me. Her blond hair was a mess and her face was pale.
"Sir, we have detected the wreckage of a Borg ship."
"Understood. Lieutenant, I relieve you of command, but please stay here until Captain Carter arrives."
She nodded and a let out a sigh of relief. "I stand relieved sir."
My first orders were to shut off the annoying klaxon and order non-essential alpha shift personnel back to their quarters. Finding Borg wreckage in the Gamma Orionis Sector was not worth waking up the entire crew for. It might not have been waking anyone up for. I made a mental note to suggest a replacement for the gamma shift leader once this affair was sorted out.
Once Carter and T'Panna arrived, I relieved M'Taztru from the tactical post and told him that I'd complete the rest of his shift. Carter shared my annoyance at Lieutenant Carpenter. She didn't know why we were visiting Gamma Orionis System Seventeen Theta Two Hundred Eleven, but really, finding wreckage gave us all the information we needed. It was time to move on.
The Bajoran operations officer mentioned something about life signs. Bajorans and their Prophets...I hadn't slept well since I met their wormhole aliens. I've been drinking a lot more since then too. Why can't they keep their religion to themselves?
"Hillel, what is your recommendation?" Carter was staring at me.
I quickly replied. "I'm sorry sir, I was focusing on something else. What was the question?"
The Bajoran woman answered. "Do you think it is safe to beam the Borg life sign into the brig?"
These wandering thoughts about her Gods would have to wait. "We can do it, but I'd rather send the shuttle Asher to retrieve it. I think that this is the perfect time to test Jarvis' new remote maneuvering system."
In hindsight, sending the Asher probably wasn't the best idea. The rendezvous with the Borg was flawless, but the landing left much to be desired. We watched Asher's nose drag along Shuttle Bay Two's floor and felt sorry for Jarvis. We did get a good laugh once the crash webbing restrained the shuttle.
Some of my security team moved the unconscious drone to the brig on deck 15. We were met by counselor sh'Raul and Lieutenant Thyssr, the Andorian doctor with the most knowledge of the Borg. At least Andorians don't have crazy Gods that hijack your life.
I stationed Ensigns Solane and Gardener at the door and joined the Andorians inside. I'm not quite sure what sh'Raul was hoping for - I thought the plan was to keep the drone unconscious forever. I guess that his time spent counseling wounded Jem'Hadar in the Gamma Quadrant softened him up. This poor soul had already lost his life when he was assimilated. Why not just end things for him?
My mind started to wander after a few minutes. Emily was having difficulty with her schooling, and Isabella and I had no clue what to do differently. It's not like we could just fire the only teacher onboard and do a better job ourselves. But if we end up moving to Bajor, I bet there are plenty of good teachers there. Emily might finally get comfortable being around other species. But what if she follows the Prophets? I just can't stand how...
I was startled by a loud crashing sound. The emergency bulkhead had slammed down, and then the brig was ejected into space. Thyssr was lying on the ground with right his arm and foot missing. The bulkhead must have severed them. Did I forget to tell him about that security feature?
I help calm Thyssr down until the medics and removed him. I thought my troubles were over, but T'Panna was blocking the exit. Vulcans don't have a lot of facial expressions, but I could tell that there was fire underneath her calm silence.
Commander T'Panna was very disappointed in Hillel. It was almost like his mind was trapped somewhere else. Why was he so slow to answer questions? Why did he fail to warn Thyssr about the bulkhead? A big red line painted on the floor is not a good excuse for failing to tell a junior officer about emergency protocol.
The drone had been programmed to emit an obscure frequency that would bypass the ship's shields and allow for a remote transport. Odyssey's sensors identified the threat and took the necessary precautions. The brig detonated one thousand meters away from the hull, causing a breach on deck 13 and one fatality. The death toll could have been much worse.
Now she was on her way to brief Captain Carter. Why had he failed to respond when she called earlier? She approached the door and pressed the chime. This was an arranged ruse though - he had programmed the door to automatically admit her.
Carter was sitting on his couch, facing the viewports. He did not greet her. She silently walked over and joined him. Then she asked what was on his mind.
"This afternoon Admiral Leavenworth contacted me to let me know that he is preparing a court martial. He called my excursion into the Mirror Universe 'a prime example of how personal feelings have compromised your ability to lead.' The court will convene at Starbase 24 in one month."
T'Panna shifted to face Carter directly. He continued. "The interesting thing is that he gave me a choice. I can take reassignment away from the Odyssey and retain my rank. He implied that my next command would be that of a cargo hauler. Or I can stand trial."
"I'm sorry," she quietly replied. Then she leaned in to kiss Carter, but he withdrew and stood up.
"It gets worse. If I don't take his offer, he's going to prosecute you as well. Your main infraction was failing to report our relationship, which isn't going to land you in a prison. But it will almost certainly keep you from being promoted again. I have to admit it - Leavenworth knows how to get a reaction. I almost lost my temper when he told me that he would come after you.
"So what can I do? If I stay, both of us are going to lose our careers. Or I can leave you here and carry freight to refugees for the rest of my career. There's no way anyone would approve of a crew transfer, and I couldn't ask you to sacrifice your career to join me in exile. I have one week to make my decision."
T'Panna walked over to him and buried her head in his chest. This was going to be the first time that she'd cried in his presence.
Note: Hillel's encounter with the Prophets is shown in Literary Challenge 38. Carter's excursion in the Mirror Universe is shown in Literary Challenge 37.
As he awoke there was a throbbing in his head and Krotious to his recollection had never been hit that hard before. He was still groggy and numb over most of his body and his left eye refused to open. He didn't recognize his surroundings, bright lights, flashing monitors, and flowers but he knew it had to be... Star Fleet. There was a young Human female in a tight fitting uniform attending to a tray of tools singing lightly in a language he didn't understand. What were these Federation fools doing to him? The last he remembered he was aboard a Klingon Bird of Prey in the middle of battle against a Borg sphere.
There was an agonizing pain suddenly tearing through his brain as the device making up half of his face activated and began feeding information directly into his brain. As he yelled out in anguish the young human female called out for her superior officer, the ship's healer. As she entered the room he noticed she, Species 3259: Vulcan-female, was grabbing a hypospray. The human... no, Species Designate Betazoid-female... How could he tell just by looking at her? His head continued to blaze as his systems came online and ran multiple diagnostics.
"WHAT HAVE YOU FEDERATION DOGS DONE TO ME?"
Dr. E'Saul rushed over and tried to inject him but he grabbed her arm with what looked like some sort of mechanical claw. She was trying to speak to him but he couldn't understand her when suddenly his internal translation matrix activated.
"-sphere adrift in the Gamma Orionis sector, I ask that you try to remain calm, you have been found in the wreckage of your vessel and are being treated for your wounds. I believe it best if you lie back and-"
"ENOUGH WOMAN! Where am I? Where is my ship and what have you done to me?"
The Betazoid nurse hit a small panel on the wall.
"Security!" Fizi yelled.
"I ask that you release me at once, you're hurting my arm." The Doctor stated coldly.
Getting to his feet he pulled Dr. E'Saul closer, he didn't trust her not to sedate him, but being unarmed he might need leverage as the security team entered. Unexpectedly the tiny Vulcan woman grabbed a hold of what used to be his arm and proceeded to flip him over her shoulder before moving quickly to a central console.
"Computer, engage quarantine field, level 10."
After a few minutes Captain Donovan came into the Medical Bay. The guard he posted outside of sickbay were now standing inside, pulse waves at the read. Dr E'Saul and her nurse Fizi were standing on the outside of the force field running scans of the Borg Drone glaring angrily at him as he entered.
You are the Captain of this vessel I presume?" the Drone spat.
"I'm Captain James Donovan, yes. And you are?"
"I am Krotious from the house of..." His overzealous tone stopped as his memory failed him.
"I'm told memory loss is a common side effect of what happened."
"What happened? You abducted me and denied me an honorable death in battle, your science has failed and left me half machine."
The Captain paused for a moment before turning to the Doctor before asking "He doesn't know, does he?"
"Apparently not Captain, he became irate and would not allow me an explanation."
"Bring it up on the projector please, Doctor."
She tapped the terminal on her desk and an image was projected to the center of the room. It was that of a heavy tactical Borg Drone, but there was no mistake, what little of the Klingon left was Krotious. He heart sank as the Human began to speak.
"This is what we found on patrol, the lone survivor on a Borg probe in Gamma Orionis. We were salvaging wreckage to repair our own integrated Borg Systems, when you were discovered floating in a corridor. Doctor?"
She tapped the console again and the image changed. It was the same figure but much less mechanical.
"This is you now. My nurse and I have been removing parts and implants that were too damaged to repair, treating wounds as we went along. The more we removed the more your natural organs began to reassert themselves. The Brak'lul alone rejected most of the non-essential implants."
"What could you know of how to treat the Brak'lul Doctor?" His tone was overly sarcastic.
E'Saul continued "We have a crew member with... similar physical complexities."
"A Klingon on board?"
"Not quite." She paused.
"What is the last thing you remember Krotious, what was the star date?" Captain Donovan interjected.
He thought for a moment. "2401. Stardate: 78620."
"That was a decade ago, you've been Borg for the last ten years. The Doctor is trying to remove all that she can from your bo-"
"Pointless..." the drone interrupted.
"Excuse me?" the Captain asked.
"I am no longer a Klingon warrior, I'm barely even Klingon anymore. With no Honor, and no house I might as well be dead."
"We'll you're not, and we're willing to help you reclaim your life. We've contacted your people and should reach rendezvous in about an hour and a half. The Doctor could continue working to remove-"
"NO!" Krotious yelled slamming his prosthetic arm against the wall smashing part of it causing the field to flicker for a moment.
Before any one could say a word Krotious hit the wall even harder breaking any shield emitter around the medical bed. He rushed forward striking Captain Donovan knocking him clear across the room. The two guards began opening fire, the first of which caused a numbing sensation in his real arm, any shots after that seemed to be deflected by some form of shielding. He could get used to these abilities, and they would be exactly what he needed to regain his Honor.
As he awoke there was a throbbing in his head and crewman Wraith to his recollection had never been hit that hard before. He was on the floor in engineering, but there was a Borg drone on the upper level playing around with the controls. Looking around he noticed that every one else had been out cold as well and from the look of it they were in the same spot as when they were awake. Gas maybe? Some sort of pulse maybe? But the Borg don't usually operate like that. He suddenly remembered Fizi talking about the progress they were making in medical with a Tac drone they found. He moved over slowly and checked on Chief Fine, she was breathing steadily and there were no wounds.
Keeping an eye on the drone Wraith crawled slowly to the main terminal and sent a text only message to the bridge. A message back from Commander T'Pal informed him that the Captain and Commander Keating, the ships Tactical Officer, were currently locked out of engineering by force fields and from what they could tell the Klingon was adjusting a few of the power levels around the containment unit. The crazy fool was going to overload the power conduits leading into the warp core causing a breach that would destroy the ship. Wraith couldn't allow that to happen.
Frankly subtlety was never the strong point of most Augments, and Wraith was no exception. The drone was suddenly knocked clear of the console as the crewman came flying at him with both knees to the torso. Before they'd finished sliding Wraith was already on his feet and moving in to strike. Despite the fact Wraith was faster and stronger, Krotious could still take a beating. Even with how slow he was, the drone packed one hell of a punch. Wraith had to be quick and precise with each hit and even then the Klingon kept coming.
For as hard as they were hitting the fight was going no where and Wraith needed to change that so the Captain could get people in to stabilize the warp core. As the Borg swung hard with the prosthesis the Augment seized the chance and used the momentum to fling the Drone into the panel that controlled the security fields before escaping into a jefferies tube. Whether it was a matter of pride, a renewed sense of honor, or just the thrill of feeling alive again Krotious gave chase without hesitation. While he couldn't see the Starfleet dog on his sensors, it was running in fear which made it easy to track. Krotious managed to catch to catch up as his prey was exiting the tube. As he caught up he landed a staggering blow to the augment knocking him to the floor in the adjoining corridor.
As he came around the corner he was blindsided suddenly by what happened, that maybe the creature wasn't as scared or careless as he'd thought it to be and in fact lead him into a trap. This devil was fast alright, and damn near impossible to track. What ever it was it was invisible to the Borg sensor array built into what used to be his left eye socket and as he stood there looking down at the young dead white devil with the pointy ears holding a pulse wave rifle smiled up at him.
"My shields have adapted, that would not harm me."
"I don't need it to" Wraith smirked, "I just need you back ten feet so I can blow you out of an air lock."
Krotious' eye opened wide in shock as he was blasted against the outer hatch of the airlock behind him. As soon as his feet touched the ground Wraith was already up and sealing the door.
"LET ME OUT OF HERE YOU WORTHLESS PETAQ!"
"After everything they've done to save you this is how you thank them?"
"THANK THEM?!?!? AFTER WHAT THE DID TO ME? You're lucky that I can not reach you, I would strangle you with the only hand I have left."
"Well I suppose that sealing you in the airlock was lucky indeed. The Captain rescued you and gave you back your individuality, you didn't need to go this far."
"This far and straight to the gates of Gre'thor where Fek'Ihr himself would welcome me with open arms. I was dead, a walking corpse captured in battle, and your devil eared healer brought me back a disfigured beast with no honor. Look at me and know that I will be your death for this. I know you can't do this, you're kind don't kill and your precious Starfleet wouldn't allow you-"
"That's where you're wrong, I have no species, and I'm not an officer of Star Fleet."
The thought occurred to Wraith as he placed his hands on the console that this poor being might be the closest to his kind he would ever see, he didn't even have a mirror counterpart but perhaps if not for fate or luck, this could have easily been Wraith. His expression turned to a sad one, then to pity as he sighed and activated the hatch release. A Slew of angry words spewed forth, none of which he could understand, as the Klingon was sucked out into space. Never once did either man break eye contact, not as the frost began forming on his corpse like face, not even as the Klingon transporter beam locked on and beamed him aboard. He wasn't sure how or when, but Wraith knew that some how this Krotious of Borg would return someday for revenge.
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