DISCLAIMER: The story and characters belong to Paramount, etc. They are so not mine and no money is being made from this and no copyright infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is very much an AU; I wanted to reveal that TPTB are impotent when it comes to understanding of what makes a good interaction and a powerful bond. For some reason (no offense to any men on the list) a lot of male writers think powerful women always must engage in fragile-ego futile pissing contests. (Men who write for CSI have done the same thing there as well.) It is true just because there are strong females doesn't mean they have to have slumber parties and be members of "we're woman in a man's world so we have to bond club" either. However I'm playing B'Elanna as a true Maquis someone who sees atrocities and fought against it. I want to play her as if she had seen first hand Cardassian Concentration camps and 'in the like of' Stockholm syndrome refugees freed from those nests of horror. I want to write her as I think she might have reacted to Seven given her background.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 2: B'Elanna isn't rebelling against her Klingon self in fact she embraces it despite her past is the same as it is in Canon. No declawed Klingons here!
SOILERS: Directly for Scorpion I-II, The Gift, Day of Honor, off-hand First Contact, previous seasons of Voyager and all Borg related episodes of the Trek series. Time line and canon are a little off but you are fanfic readers and can adapt.
WARNING:please take careful note there will be mentions of pain and torture as B'Elanna recalls the things she had seen in the Cardassian concentration camps, bearing in mind Voyager Canon as well as Jean-Luc's torture at the hands of a Gull it isn't too hard to believe the crimes they committed against another soul. I have used much of what I heard from survivors of the camps in Germany, documentaries as well as what is available on the net. Please bear in mind I am not trying to exploit this dark history but use the information in this story as writers of the show have done in the past to shed some light on the troubling context. We must remember.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By Elizabeth Carter
In space no one can hear you scream.
Technological terror. It was a well deserved label. Fear was the first response when one sails through the dark sea of stars and spies a perfect cube soaring towards you. The terror grows when it is seen that that cube is not alone .
Then the voices reach down into the marrow of bone. Deep, ominous resonation of one sound - many collective voices and the fear boils into sheer terror.
"We are the Borg. Existence as you know it is over. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Resistance is futile. You will be "
There was no warning, no defiance from the prey. Tendrils of crackling plasma energy whipped out tearing through the Borg ships obliterating them in a maelstrom of blue fire and debris.
Something, someone had just beaten the Borg. The Voyager probe unfortunately wasn't sentient and sailed on recording the data as it was programmed to. It didn't react to the presence of the menace or to its sudden and inexplicable destruction.
"Species Eight Four Seven Two has penetrated Matrix Zero-One-Zero, Grid Eighteen. Three planets destroyed... three hundred twelve vessels disabled... three million, five hundred twenty-one Borg eliminated."
"Unacceptable. This cannot continue." Came a voice overhead, one that made a single drone looked up sharply at the ceiling of the Central Plexus; it wasn't the thundering, multilayered masculine whisper of the collective but a singular voice, one that betrayed passion, intelligence, a personality capable of emotion and thought. Something unfamiliar to the typical drones.
The low voice of a woman.
The single drone below gazed at the thick, dark tangle of cabling and circuitry that hung from the ceiling swaying like weeds on a gentle sea. Her eyes caught a rustle of movement amid them, shining beads of moisture trembling, falling as something both raven and white slithered through the jumble. A woman's face; mottled chalk white dappled with gray but beautiful with ancient piercing eyes of silver.
The drone still in the colorless dark shadows gave no facial expression as the image vanished as swiftly as it had appeared. She continued peering up into the cybertangle but was unable to find any trace of the Borg Queen.
"A solution to this dilemma is paramount." As she spoke three more drones stepped forward to stand near the Queen's alcove at the heart of the Borg Hive.
"Species Eight Four Seven Two have manufactured a channel of quantum singularities and it has expanded exponentially. It is causing the gravimetric distortions." The voice of the first drone spoke. Her voice was smooth as silk on ice. The Queen of course knew this information but it was one of the duties of her Adjuncts to think on another level than that of the typical tactical drone. After all an Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero One was simply another part of the Queen.
It is true that the Borg acts as a collective consciousness. There are no individuals. The Queen is the Borg. In essence they are all apart of her, a hive. Billions of Billons and the Queen knew each touch of mind of each Drone and felt its loss when it was deactivated. The Collective would remember its data, its memories and the Hive would assimilate it, and billons of billons of other drones would be its epitaph.
The overhead darkness stirred; from its midst, the female creature emerged. Creature because though her face was humanoid and her chalky coloring Borg, her eyes unlike either - dark, with a decided glint of silver, and her body consisted of nothing more than head, neck and shoulders. Spider like she began to descend from the slick, gleaming web of machinery, her legless and armless torso-less body suspended by black cables.
She was nearest to perfection out of the Borg. She was the beginning, the end. She was the Borg. She was the Collective bringing order to chaos.
The truncated form descended smoothly into a synthetic Borg body which snapped together like Lego pieces, arms, legs all formed into the one unit. With a click her head and shoulders moved into place the cables detached and swung away and she moved towards her Adjuncts with an easy grace, as if she had always been so.
Her body, voice, face and movements were those of a lithe young woman, her silver eyes ancient, decadent, insatiable. Pale sensuous lips curled into a thin smile as she touched the face of her favored Adjunct. Seven of Nine was her Tertiary Adjunct in her own Unimatrix, favored above all other drones. Seven, and three both prime numbers, it was why Seven and not the Secondary Adjunct was her Prime, though she was not the Queen's only optional host.
Seven of Nine as with the other Adjuncts of Unimatrix Zero One had been cultivated since the maturation chamber to be the host for the Queen's Consciousness should events direct the need to initiate Royal Protocol. Seven was the Prime, and preferred by the Queen.
The Borg's quest to better themselves, to evolve toward a sate of perfection had brought them to hunt down and assimilate species 8472. It was to bring them closer to perfection it had instead led them to annihilation.
The Queen parted her lips once more revealing teeth even and pearly; yet despite its beauty, the sight triggered the image of a millennia-old spider, opening her glittering maw to devour her mate. "The channel is rife with Chaos. There is something nearing this sector that does not belong." The Queen paused as the Collective processed the Intelligence it had gathered near the sector. "The Federation? Why is the Alpha-Quadrant's Federation in the Delta Quadrant?"
"Locutus?" Seven of Nine asked.
"Negative." The Queen answered within her thoughts that transmitted directly to Seven's cortical node. "Nor is it the android designated as Data. We would know. There is one amongst their number that was once connected to the Collective, however. Even now I can feel the lost essence of his assimilation."
Only the Queen could ever detect a former drone that had left the Collective. It was some essence of the drone had left an imprint on the Queen's eidetic memory. She was after all One who was Many. She is the Collective. She is the Borg.
Raven and Snow
A deep contrast and nothing more could contrast a Borg vessel than that of the pristine white bulkheads of a Starfleet vessel. And yet both a hive of activity.
B'Elanna Torres ran engineering as the well oiled and maintained engines it housed. Currently she was working at one of the consoles near the far wall as her crew buzzed about like drones performing their tasks and ignoring for the most part anything that wasn't relevant to their duties.
The gnomic hiss and subsequent clang of heavy doors opening announced the presence of Captain Kathryn Janeway.
"What have you got?" Janeway could not help but notice the lines of tension etched on each officer's expression, beneath the careful composure.
"Some bad news." Chakotay said in a wooden voice so typical of his demeanor. "One of the long range probes we sent out two months ago has stopped transmitting."
Chief Engineer B'Elanna Torres picked up the explanation. "At first I thought it was a problem with the communications grid... then I cleared up the last few seconds of telemetry." Her ridges moved into a mixture of curiosity and deep concern. "Take a look at this." She tapped a control on the console and they all watched a monitor.
The screen showed a variety of telemetry and the probe's point of view. At first it was a star-field, nothing impressive. A beat later a very impressive image indeed flew by.
A Borg Cube.
Like Torres and the first officer had done before Janeway paled at the sight. Her steel grey eyes could only stare as the image suddenly fritzed. When the image righted itself she was looking at the vast interior of the Borg Collective. The telemetry readings were now scrambled. The image fritzed once more only to show row upon row of Borg alcoves.
When the image shuddered once more Janeway gulped when she saw the face of a Borg drone reaching for the camera within the probe. One last fritz and all was dark and silent.
"This could be it, Captain... Borg space." Chakotay said. His voice would have been toneless as wet cardboard save for the vileness he felt at the idea of the Borg undercoating it.
Surrounded by her senior crew, Janeway sat at the conference table in the briefing room of Voyager. The room like many found aboard Federation starships was an elegant even in its compact setting, it was comfortable it its own quaint way. What made the room feel less claustrophobic was its multitude of windows. Janeway could only think: all those suns and orbiting them, how many habitable planets? And of those planets, how many life-forms assimilated by the Borg? How many cultures forever lost over the millennia, and how soon shall we join them?
Janeway looked at her surroundings and dared not allow herself to feel attachment. This might merely be another ship that was lost. But she was going to fight, get her people home. It was her drive, her singular force as powerful as the Borg's drive for Perfection. Home. She stood now before her troops waiting to bring forward as dread a topic as the Borg. Their chaotic voices mingling into one hum, a white noise a collective of sound until Janeway brought them order.
Her hand up slightly, she took the floor. "We don't know exactly how many vessels are out there... but their space appears to be vast, it includes thousands of solar systems... all Borg. We are no doubt entering the heart of their territory... there's no going around it but there may be a way through it."
She looked to Chakotay, who picked up the ball. He moved to the wall monitor and tapped a control and instantly a star map came up revealing a narrow ribbon of space that he commanded to be highlighted. "Before the probe was disabled, it picked up a narrow corridor of space devoid of Borg activity. We've nicknamed it the 'Northwest Passage'."
It was Torres who spoke next taking the ball further, "Unfortunately, the passage is filled with intense gravimetric distortions... probably caused by a string of quantum singularities."
"Better to ride the rapids than face the hive." Tom Paris Helm Jockey aka the Helmrat by those who knew him best commented.
The ball was once again passed to the first officer, "Exactly. We're going to set a course for that corridor... and go into full Tactical Alert." At this the Olmec turned to the Vulcan officer "Where do we stand with weapons?"
"I have reprogrammed the phaser banks to a rotating modulation. But I suspect a Borg vessel will adapt quickly." Tuvok informed his fellow officers.
Chakotay nodded "We could use every edge." He then turned his attention to the Ops officer, "Ensign?"
Harry Kim who had been so very green and fresh from the Academy when he was first posted to Voyager was now no longer the novice, but yet still as wide eyed as ever, "I've already configured the long-range sensors to scan for transwarp signatures. An early warning system."
Janeway smiled her pride but it was Chakotay who spoke. "Good work. Doctor, how are you coming on the medical front?"
The EMH had been able to attend the briefing in holoform as he was wearing his mobile emitter. "I've analyzed every square millimeter of the Borg corpse we recovered three months ago. I'm closer to understanding how their assimilation technology works... and I may be able to create some sort of medical defense.
Again it was the first officer to speak almost as if he not the captain was heading the briefing. "Redouble your efforts. This is your top priority." He paused for a moment before addressing Voyager's self appointed morale officer, "Neelix, I doubt we can resupply the ship any time soon..."
The hardcore optimist and forever sunny personality of the Talaxian showed the only brilliance in the grave meeting, "No problem, sir. I'm working on a plan to extend our food and replicator rations."
To this Chakotay nods and the ball once more was passed back to Voyager's iron willed Captain. She addressed each of them allowing her troops to see and thus feel her strength, "We have to act fast. The Borg have captured one of our probes... they know we're out here." She gave a look of confidence to her people and tried to bolster their spirits and prime them for the challenge ahead." We'll do everything in our power to avoid a direct confrontation... but if and when we do engage the Borg, I'm confident that we'll be ready. I have faith in each and every one of you.
"Considering the need to 'have every edge' I further want to us to utilize a less standard approach if it comes to that when engaging the Borg, Their multiphasic shields allow them to adapt to our phasers after a few shots. So it may come to 'old school' style of fighting. Tuvok I want your department to meet with the Quartermaster arrange for every soul to have a bladed weapon either Starfleet combat-survival knife or Imperial d'k tahg."
Faces turned to B'Elanna at the mention of a Klingon's personal dagger, "I'll get mine out of my cabin and have the material replicator generate several of them," she said.
"I know it's unconventional but should it come to hand to hand, that knife might be the only thing to save you from assimilation. In that respect I also want old earth ballistic firearms." Janeway said.
Everyone was astonished at the proposal of using such primitive weapons. Janeway knew they had to think her out of her mind to suggest such things but they hadn't read the reports on the Borg she had from the other captains. Picard had neutralized drones on the holodeck while the safeties were off-line with a mid twentieth century semi-automatic machine gun popularly nicknamed 'Tommy-gun' she had also read how Commander Worf had used a mek'leth, a blade similar to the bat'leth though very much smaller to destroy a drone while he was on the hull of the Enterprise-D.
"Multiphasic shields can stop ionic, isotopic and photonic energy. However ballistic black-powder projectiles could very well give us a few more moments that mean the difference between escape and becoming one of the Collective. I want the older weapons on the Bridge, and the decks above and below engineering. Of course we can't use ballistic projectiles in a sensitive area such as Engineering but as the commander said we need every edge. We need to think outside the 'cube' from time to time and use whatever we can to protect this ship and her crew. If it worked during the foot-hold situation on the Enterprise-D, we can make it work here." She paused for a moment and felt pride as each of her senior staff stiffened in their resolve to ensure Voyager made it home un-assimilated. "Let's do it."
There was no other prompting and the crew moved in to action. Urgent, focused, each division set and determined to make it through this terrifying territory. None of them so disillusioned that they believed themselves immune from a Borg confrontation. It was inevitable, but they would do so with the utmost readiness and will to prevail.
B'Elanna Torres had her full crew laboring diligently to safeguard Engineering from the Borg threat every panel that could be opened had been opened, not since its fine tuning in Utopia Planetia had such an overhaul been done. On the second level security and engineering worked together on the phaser rifles so that after each firing they would have like the phaser banks a rotating modulation. It was here the Captain had stationed herself assisting where she could - she was after all a science officer before she had made captain.
The sense of urgency was the same story on every level of the ship. Crew members could be seen carrying equipment... a few others racing down the hall tense and filled with the dire need to secure the ship for a Borg foothold.
Some of the Voyager crew had engaged the Borg at Wolf 359. They had heard Locutus speak; Lt. Rothery in fact had been aboard the Enterprise-D at the time of the incursion. She as with the other survivors had witnessed the fiery destruction of forty of Starfleet's finest warships. Others of this gallant crew were more war-giddy than apprehensive. Impossible to understand the horror of the Borg unless one had met them in battle - or worse yet, in their own hive. The novice crew's confidence sprang from ignorance - and the captain didn't look forward to seeing her people lose either.
Tuvok and Paris hunched over work benches in the Science lab working on a photon torpedo. The Borg had multi-phasic shielding and the only way around that was to make manual adjustments to the armaments so each had a unique and slightly different variance to their payload signatures.
"Getting one of these things to penetrate the Borg shields isn't going to be easy." Paris said over the hull of the black torpedo.
"Perhaps that is the wrong approach." Tuvok said.
"What do you mean?"
"By altering the detonation parameters, I believe we can target the shields themselves."
Paris snapped his fingers now following the Vulcan's train of thought. "Use the torpedoes to blow through the outer defenses."
"And then follow with concentrated phaser fire."
"It just might work."
Chakotay had returned to the Bridge with Kim, here at the aft station they poured over Voyager's schematic even as more officers hurriedly carried equipment cases across the Bridge as their colleagues had in the halls adjusting the shield matrix and inner buffers against Borg attack. They only hoped all this effort; this work would be worth it, that it would in the end save them.
"I want to cut down on the time it takes to seal off the decks." He ordered the young man. He had scanned the data stream coming in from tactical, in the past three days they had drill after drill and he still wasn't satisfied with the efforts of the crew. He demanded better results and would get them.
"In case we take on some uninvited guests." Harry tried to lighten the sober anger radiating off the First officer.
Harry didn't flinch from the demands of the commander. They were all on edge. "We can do both. If I dedicate the emitters on decks seven and eight, that should give us a few more seconds activation time and an increase in magnitude of at least ten percent."
"Make it happen, Ensign."
"Species Eight Four Seven Two has penetrated Matrix Zero-One-Three, Grid Eighteen. Five planets destroyed... four hundred twelve vessels disabled... five million, six hundred twenty-three Borg eliminated."
The Queen had felt each of their deaths. She had felt their voices go silent and it was disturbing. Yes the Borg had suffered losses but not on this grand scale never this many. Species 8472 had proven to be resilient. Even as more cubes were dispatched ordered to mass assimilate a dozen worlds the Collective could not make up its losses in time.
There had to be a way to neutralize this menace, to push back and regain the beachhead. The call of Omega, the drive for Perfection had been so nefarious, so strong the Borg had considered the dangers of penetrating fluidic space as irrelevant; perhaps that decision should have been give a bit more consideration.
In Sick Bay the work was just as urgent as it had been on the other levels but not as chaotic. Here the scene was a bit more subdued if not grim. The Doctor and Kes were working at a bio-bed where several Borg body parts were laid out - an arm, eyepiece, cortical node and the inner cybernetic workings. It was the image of a morgue come junk-yard. The particular Borg corpse that was their body of study had been one of the few drones that had had a confrontation with Chakotay a few months back.
The EMH had started to dissect it as if a medical student in Gross-Anatomy classes. What makes a Borg drone tick? The hologram had taken a particular interest in the drone's cybernetic prosthetic. The hand had dagger mandible like assimilation tubules sticking out of the finger tips like a wasp's stinger. From the studies of Dr. Beverly Crusher this classified the Borg as a tactical drone, a soldier ant by any other name.
"These injection tubules are the first step in the Borg assimilation process. Once inside the skin, they release a series of nanoprobes into the bloodstream." The Doctor informed his assistant.
Kes looked over the EMH's shoulder feeling no fear or revulsion as a human might have done when seeing the same thing. Her mind circled around the concept of its medical applications. "Maybe we can develop some kind of protective shielding against them."
The Doctor shook his photonic head, "Unlikely. The tubules are capable of penetrating any known alloy or energy field. Which means our battle must be waged inside the body itself." He set the hand down and moved to a monitor near the bio-bed and tapped its casing causing the screen to come up with a microscopic view of humanoid red blood cells. "The first tissue to be attacked by the nanoprobes is the victim's blood."
The image now revealed a cell-sized Borg nanoprobe race into view, it attaches to a blood cell and in a frightening chain reaction all of the blood cells were assimilated turning dark and more elongated. "Assimilation is almost instantaneous."
Kes leaned in studying the images carefully before she spoke. "They take over the blood-cell functions... like a virus."
The Doctor nodded, "Which suggests to me that we should try to enhance the immune system... create an "assimilation antibody," as it were."
They moved from the computer terminal back to the bio-bed and the corpse with its strewn body parts.
"I doubt we can actually destroy the nanoprobes, but we might be able to slow them down..."
He drawled to a stop when he witnessed the pale coloring of his assistant grow a shade lighter. Her eyes fixed on the Borg body parts as if she is trying to listen to something just out of range of truly hearing.
Perhaps she was merely fascinated by the cybernetic enhancements as much as the photonic physician was, he regarded her reaction as irrelevant and began once more to speak, "Let's perform a submicron dissection on the probes we've collected so far... see if we can find the DNA recoding mechanism."
Kes made no move to do aid the EMH. She was utterly transfixed on the arm and its circuits. Her eyes widened at the assault she suddenly found herself drawn into. A sickening pull behind her navel yanked her into some nightmarish vision.
Twenty Borg bodies piled high and fused together, limbs mangled and askew, faces twisted, eyes open - a surreal sculpture of death. Kes gasps and the horror and yet again her mind was bludgeoned with another vision. She moved closer to the cored bodies of Borg drones as if one of them had called out to her. Their expressions were one of shock and pain.
Freed from the vision the Ocampan reeled bracing herself against the table. Nausea, disorientated her as head pounding she managed to just make out the words of the Doctor.
"Kes, what's wrong?" when she didn't answer a more urgent calling, "Kes." The Doctor took hold of her arm only then did the young woman turn to him. She looked startled and breathless.
"I saw Borg..." she managed to find her voice.
"You've had a... telepathic experience?"
Golden locks bounce with the nod of the head, "There were bodies... dozens of them... all dead..."
The Doctor knew there was only one other soul on Voyager that could render aid to Kes and he wasn't it. Of the three Vulcans aboard the Starfleet ship only Tuvok was capable of seeing Kes though this telepathic experience.
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