EPISODE 8 "The Borg Will Make Us Go"
The room was dark. It was so dark only a narrow beam of light cut though the darkness. It streaked down, barely illuminating the man and woman far below. Both individuals, nearly completely free of the bonds of clothing, were tangled closely together in physical partnership.
Both were breathless from heavy exertion and damp with perspiration. Their muscles tense and pulled tight, their skin warm and red. The woman turned her head to one side. She looked back to see her man coming at her from behind. Through a crooked smile, the young woman said, "It's your turn, Nick."
The young ensign smiled. In a dry low voice he said, "Computer, spin the spinner. Call the shot."
A stoic female came back. "Right hand red."
Nick stuck his tongue out the corner of his mouth and twisted his arm under his female competitor. With one quick thrust he dropped his right hand on the red circle. To complete the tricky maneuver successfully, he had to bend his elbow a bit, causing his shoulder to come in contact with the bare skin of his female opponent. The extra weight pressing against her back caused her to loose her balance. She fell forward, landing flat on her stomach.
"Ah!" she grimaced. "Not again."
Nick laughed. "You lose! Off with your bra! Off with your bra!"
The woman rolled over onto her back and offered him a sly smile. She reached up to push the long strands blonde hair away from her deep blue eyes. "Okay," she said with a silky whisper. She reached her hands up toward her chest and gripped the tiny clasp with both hands. Just as she was about to open her bra, revealing her abundance to him, she winced with pain and dropped her hands to her sides.
Nick, genuinely concerned, asked, "Are you all right, Sarah? We can stop if you're tired."
A small tear grew in the corner of Sarah's eye. "Yeah, I guess we'd better. I'm sorry, Nick."
Nick smiled sympathetically. "It's okay." He rolled off her body, taking a position beside her. "It's strange. I always thought arthritis was something old people got, and even then, it is easily cured."
Sarah wiped the tear from her eye and nursed her aching joints. "I know. It sucks. The doctors just don't know what it is. It's some kind of new form of arthritis. That's all they know."
Nick put on a brave face. "I'm sure the medical team at Starbase 47 can help."
"I hope so," said Sarah. After a struggled to sit up, Sarah curled her lip down and looked around the darkened room. "Hey Nick, have you seen my clothes?"
In another dark room, the captain's cabin, Philip Reming, the Captain of the USS Condor lied in his bed but found no rest. His mind is cluttered with matters that would only occupy a captain of a starship. Lying on his back, with his hands folded behind his head, Reming looked out though the window to watch the stars zooming past.
Distracted by a rustling sound, Philip looked away from the window. He wasn't alone in bed. A woman laid there beside him. With a small smile on her face, she rolled next to him, pressing her body against his. With arms folded on his chest, she peered deep into his eyes and asked, "What seems to be the trouble, my Captain?"
Philip looked at the beautiful woman lying beside him. Her long brown hair poured over her shoulders and onto his bear chest. He smiled at her and said, "I hope I didn't wake you, Commander Reed."
Donna shook her head, wrinkling her nose a bit. "You're avoiding my question, sir. What is on your mind, my Captain?"
Philip wore a mischievous smile. "Well, I always thought a good first officer always knew what her captain was thinking."
Donna laughed, "Humor me."
"Ah you know me. I hate these trips into the less-traveled areas of space. There's still a large part of Beta quadrant that's unexplored. Who knows what we might run into."
"Ah, yes, I do know you," said Donna, slapping him lightly on the chest. "Captain, you worry too darn much."
Philip chuckled, "I know. That worries me too."
"Well, I wouldn't concern yourself," she sighed. "The ship is in good hands."
"Of course it is," he replied. His comment soaked in sarcasm. "Who is on bridge duty now, anyway, Commander?"
"Um, I think Mike Parks, sir."
Upon hearing the name, Philip could feel his blood pressure rise. "Oh no."
Donna smiled wide. "Oh will you stop it. He's doing fine. Relax. Go to sleep."
Her soft soothing voice helped ease some of the tension pounding though Philip's veins. "Okay," he sighed.
Donna gave Philip a quick peck on the lips before resting her head on her pillow and closing her eyes. She was about to drift back to sleep when Philip made a request.
"Now that we're sleeping together, do you think we could be a little less formal in bed. Maybe actually use first names, for example?"
Donna winked at Philip and smiled. "I'll make a note of it in the record, sir. But, I draw the line at pet names."
The bridge of the Condor was dimly lit as well. Lt. Commander Parks liked it that way. With the lights low, he could sleep while in command and no one would notice. Presently the bridge was nearly empty. Most of the bridge systems of the tiny science vessel were on automatic. Only the helm was manned.
Nestled snugly in the Captain's chair, Parks was asleep and dreaming. He was dreaming he was participating in the long jump in the Zero G Olympics. He was in flight, a full fifty meters in the air, when the gravity inexplicably reactivated, sending Parks falling helplessly down to earth. Just before he hit the ground, Parks awoke with a start. He looked around, relieved to find himself on the bridge.
"Having a nightmare, sir?" asked the unnamed female helmsman, never taking her eyes off her console.
"Never mind that," grumbled Parks, fixing his glasses. "What's our status?"
"We are presently traveling at warp factor five, on schedule to reach the Starbase 47 in seventeen hours."
"Sounds good." Satisfied with the information, Parks leaned his head back, about to drift off to sleep when an automatic sensor alarm began to blare. The alarm acted like thirty liters of coffee injected directly into his veins. He jumped up and ran to the Operations station, fully awake.
First he canceled the alarm. Parks hated alarms. They always seemed to interrupt his sleep. With nimble fingers, he checked the sensor sweeps to identify the emergency. "There's a ship in our path," he said. "They're sending out some kind of signal."
"In distress?" asked the helmsman.
"I was, but I'm feeling better now."
"No, I mean the signal. Is it a distress signal?"
"I don't know. It's strange. It's some kind of multi-plexing signal." The more Parks studied the signal, the more nervous he got. He didn't like the looks of the strange transmission. He knew what it was. He knew it had to be shut down. "Stop all engines! Red alert!"
Just ahead of the Condor, only a few thousand kilometers away, hung a strange alien ship. The unknown ship, somewhat smaller than the Condor, seemed to be a mish-mash of components stolen from a variety of space-faring civilizations. Protruding from the front of the ship was a large disk-like structure. It was the source of the signal that the sensors had detected.
Back on the bridge of the Condor, the members of the senior staff were filing off the turbo lift, all still struggling to finish dressing. Ensign Nicholas Smith stepped quickly to his post, relieving the young female helmsman. Captain Reming, still pulling down his shirt, stepped to his seat with Commander Reed following behind. Lt. Commander Parks, still at his Ops station, turned to the Captain to update him on the situation.
"Captain, we have an unknown ship in our flight path. It is ignoring our hails."
Reming looked around the room, a bit bewildered. "What's going on? Why is it so dark in here? Mr. Parks, were you sleeping again?"
Parks tried to answer, but only an odd series of nonsense words found their way out. He cleared his throat and was about to start again when Reed stopped him.
"Computer - lights, normal illumination." Within seconds, the bridge was once again well lit. "Please continue, Mike."
"Ah yes, as I was saying, the sensors detected a strange signal emitting from the alien ship. It's not a distress signal. At least not the kind of distress signal anyone in their right mind would send. It's a multi-plexing signal being broadcast in a wind band width."
Reming's eyes widened. "Oh shit. Not a Borg signal. Please don't tell me that."
"I'm afraid so."
Reed's face twisted. "Why would anyone want to phone the Borg?" She waved her hand in Parks' direction. "Hail them!"
"I've tried, they won't answer."
Reming knew he had to find a way to shut down that beacon. He wished he could use diplomacy to get the job done. "Raise shields and fire a phaser across their bow," ordered Reming. "See if they want to talk after that."
Parks spun around in his seat and pressed the proper buttons. Within seconds of the Captain's order, a short red beam of energy flew from the Condor's weapon array and out over the nearby ship, zipping harmlessly into space.
The usual result after firing a warning shot was a startled hail from the offending ship. That didn't happen this time. Instead, the alien craft turned toward the Condor and began to fire. Three photon torpedoes flashed from the upper hull of the craft.
Nick Smith, ready at the helm, did his best to turn the ship out of the path of the oncoming missiles. Unfortunately, his efforts were unsuccessful. Instead of turning the ship to avoid the torpedoes, he turned the ship directly into their path. All three armed projectiles struck the Condor head on.
The first impacted the shields, causing little damage to the ship's hull. The second collapsed the weakening shields completely. The third came in direct contact with the primary hull, causing serious damage.
On the bridge, The force of the hit knocked everyone from their seats. Somewhere a power conduit must have exploded. The surge caused sparks and flames to spring from every console and lighting system on the bridge.
Reming climbed to his knees first. He looked around the smoke filled room for signs of life. "Is anybody hurt?" he yelled. He was concerned about the welfare of his crew, as any good captain would be. However, his selfish heart concerned itself with one person in particular.
The environment controls were still thankfully on-line. It didn't take long for the smoke to begin to dissipate. He looked around through the haze. Not far from him was Commander Reed. Seeing her conscious and alert tugged at his emotions. She was covered in sweat and her face was smeared with fear. She did not show her fear for very long. She quickly covered it up as she climbed back to her seat. Reming couldn't help but smile. To say that he was happy to see her in good health would have been a gross understatement.
As Reming took to his feet, Parks and Smith were not far, struggling to get to their stations. Parks got to his first. He gave Reming a wave, as if to say he was okay. Nick let out one last cough before reporting his undamaged state to the Captain.
The fires that once raged around them were out within a few minutes. The fire suppressors shot cool jets of CO2, extinguishing the flames. With the flames gone and smoke clearing, a small amount of normalcy returned to the bridge. It would be short lived.
"DAMAGE REPORT!" roared Commander Reed.
Parks, waving the smoke from his eyes, answered first. "I can get us minimal shields. Sensors are hanging by a thread," said Parks. "As for the rest of the ship, we have reports of heavy damage on deck four and five. Several injured, no dead. The doctor is already on route."
"All propulsion systems are off-line," said Nick. "Even our maneuvering thrusters are out."
Reed smacked her comm. badge. "Engineering, Carol, we've lost all helm control up here. What's the status down there?"
The frantic voice of Chief Engineer Carol Smith shot back. "It's a mess down here! The warp drive is off line. All the propulsion systems have shut down. I'm trying to convince the computer to let me manual control."
"Do whatever you think is necessary," said Reed. "Commune if you have to."
"Aye, sir, but, I have to warn you, it's going to be a while until we're underway again. For the next several hours we're dead in the water."
"Then concentrate on our defensive systems, for now," said Reming. "Can we get shields back up to full power?"
"Yes sir. I'll have to dip into our emergency back up power. Give me a few minutes. Engineering out."
As soon as the conversation ended, the view screen flickered back to life. In front of them was the image of the alien ship. Reming expected to see it moving in to finish off the Condor. To his surprise, it wasn't. It was lying still, quiet as a corpse.
Reming rubbed his chin. "What do we do now? Any ideas?"
Reed looked at him and shrugged.
"They're still sending out that Borg homing signal," remarked Parks.
Then Reming had an idea. "I've got an idea," he said. "Open a channel."
A bleep from Parks' station was enough for Reming to know he had the floor. In his best Captain's voice he said, "Attention alien ship. This is Captain Reming of the USS Condor. Let me get to the point. We know you are trying to contact the Borg. To lure a Borg cube here could spell disaster for the entire quadrant. Therefore, you must be stopped.
"I respectfully request that you shut down your beacon and talk to us. If you refuse, I will have no choice but to activate Corbomite device.
"Let me explain. The Corbomite device is the most powerful explosive weapon in Federation history. When it goes off, it will not only destroy my ship and yours, but everything else within the next hundred parsecs.
"Do not attempt to destroy us before the device detonates. Any threat on this ship will cause the weapon to detonate prematurely. The device is now active. It will detonate in five minutes. Bye, bye now."
Once the open channel was securely closed, Reed couldn't help but roll her eyes and laugh. "Oh come on! No one would be stupid enough to fall for that."
A flashing light on Parks' console told him otherwise. "Ha! I don't believe it," he yelled. "It worked! The beacon just shut off and they're hailing us."
Reming could barely believe his ears. "On screen," he said with surprise.
The view screen changed. The image of the alien ship was replaced by the image of a rotund man. His complexion looked thick and pasty, like the kind of stuff given out in little plastic jars on your first day of kindergarten. Eyebrows, looking like two overfed caterpillars, sat haphazardly over each puffy glazed eye. His forehead sloped down so low, it looked like the long jump ski ramp at the winter Olympics. There was no mistaking it. He was a member of the species known as the Pakled.
With jaw fixed and jutting out, he said, "Leave us alone. Go away now."
Reming shook his head. "Can't go away. I wish we could. You did a number on my ship. We couldn't leave even if we wanted to."
The bewildered man on the viewer flexed his arms over his head in a weak attempt to show off his muscles. "Yes, we wrecked your ship. We are strong! We are stronger than you. We are not smart, but we are strong."
Commander Reed leaned over to Reming, "What's he got on his head? What is that?"
Reming shrugged and turned back to the man on the viewer. "Yes, that's nice. Uh, excuse me for asking, but what is that on your head? It looks like tin-foil or something."
The Pakled reached up to pat the small patch of foil adorning his cranium. "It is my Borg hat. All of my crew is wearing one. We are practicing."
"What are you practicing for?"
"We are practicing for when we are Borg. When the Borg come, we will be assimilated. When we are assimilated, we will be strong and we will also be smart." The Pakled grinned widely. "Very smart."
"Let me get this straight," said Commander Reed. "You want to be assimilated?"
The Pakled nodded his tin coated head sharply. "Yes. After we are assimilated, we will be Borg. We will be strong and smart." He waved an angry finger at them. "Then you Federations will be scared, I can tell you."
"Okay, this guy is clearly a few clowns short of a circus," whispered Ensign Smith.
"Agreed," commented Reming. "Ideas, anyone?"
"Hey," said Reed, "what about our cargo?"
Reming looked at her, puzzled. "What?"
"You know, Sarah. Sarah Desert - the one we're transporting to Starbase 47 for medical treatment. She's worked as an intern for several Federation diplomats."
"Really? I thought she was just the Admiral's daughter. I didn't know she worked in Federation government. She's just an intern. You really think she could help?"
Reed shrugged. "Couldn't hurt."
Reming turned back to the depressed figure on the view screen. "Uh, hello. I have a proposal. Why don't we discuss your plan. We have a mediator on board. Maybe she can help you, uh that is, us, resolve this situation."
The dimwitted fellow on the viewer became decidedly agitated. "NO! We want to be assimilated! We want to be smart and strong!"
Reming raised his hands apologetically. "Of course you do. Believe me, I want to see you assimilated too. But, there must be a way for you to join the Borg without endangering the rest of us. Transport over to here so we can talk about it."
The pitiful man rubbed his finger under his nose. "Okay, but only if you turn off your Corbomite device thing. I don't want to get blow'd up before I get my chance to join the Borg collection."
Reming looked confused for a moment. "What Corbomite device thing?" His sleepy short-term memory quickly awoke. "Oh, that Corbomite device. Yes, oh, it's off," said Reming after pressing an imaginary button on the arm of his chair. "Please plan to beam over here at eleven hundred hours for our meeting. That's when the big hand is on the twelve and the little hand is on the eleven."
Sarah winced from the pain. Doctor Tedmoore looked up at his suffering patient and gently lowered her leg back to the bed. He then rolled up her thin trouser leg to the knee and felt around the red, swollen joint. Sarah cringed with each touch.
The doctor returned her garment to its proper position and stepped back, rubbing his forehead with concern. Sarah read his expression, but she really didn't need to. She knew her body. It was obvious to her that things were getting worse.
Sarah sat up, her legs hanging over the side of the bed. "Well?"
Tedmoore shook his head. "It's progressing very fast. All your joints are inflamed. If you weren't an active person before the disease, you'd probably be in a wheelchair by now."
Sarah tried to wear a brave face. It was difficult under the pain constantly oozing from every joint in her body. Still, she kept her expression placid. Only her eyes cracked the facade. "Give it to me straight, doc, how long before I wind up in a chair?"
The doctor looked her in the eye, but did not answer immediately. He first pasted a fake smile on his face. "Not to worry. We'll be at Starbase 47 soon enough. As soon as the ship is repaired, we'll be on our way."
"How long until we are underway? Any clue?" asked Sarah.
Just as she finished asking the question, in walked Captain Reming and Commander Reed. "Believe it or not, Sarah, you might be able to help us get moving again," said Reming.
Sarah looked at Reming and laughed. "I'm no engineer, Captain. And even if I was, I don't think I could do much while in my present condition."
The woman flanking Reming took a step forward. "We have, shall we say, a diplomatic situation taking place. We were hoping you could help us."
Sarah nearly fell off the bed from shock. "What? Excuse me Commander, but I am just a Federation diplomatic assistant - an intern. Under federation law, I could be arrested for impersonating a government official. Not no to mention, I wouldn't know what the hell I was doing."
Reming stepped forward. He placed a calming hand on Sarah's shoulder. "Look, Sarah, I know you're in a lot of pain. I know you're suffering. Nonetheless, I refuse to sugar coat the situation for you. We have an a hostile alien ship, with superior fire power, trying to make contact with the Borg. You know how dangerous the Borg are. Not only would they assimilate everyone here and take the ship for spare parts, they'd probably head for the closest highly populated world to make more drones. Where would it end? It wouldn't be pretty, that's for sure."
"By some miracle, they've stopped signaling the Borg and have agreed to talk with us," continued Reed. "That's where you come in. We hoped you could act as mediator and keep them talking while we call in the big guns. Unfortunately, it may be hours before help arrives. We need you to keep them busy until then."
Sarah sighed. "Okay, fine. I just hope I can fool them."
"Dont worry, these guys are easily fooled," Reed smiled. "Come on, I'll brief you on the way to the bridge."
While Reed and Sarah started out of Sickbay, Tedmoore grabbed Reming by the arm before he could follow the two women out. "I need to speak with you, Captain," he said with urgency in his tone.
Reming had little respect for Tedmoore as a person. As a doctor, he was excellent. As a human being, he was below average. Reming always felt the doctor had a hidden agenda. The look in Tedmoore's eye told him he was right. "What is it, doctor. I've very busy."
"It's about my patient, Captain. You must understand something. Sarah is very special."
Reming smiled playfully. "Doctor, I know she's cute and all, but I think she's spoken for. Our hapless helmsman seems to be interested in her at the moment."
Tedmoore shook his head. "No, not like that. She is very special to Earth. She must not be allowed to slip into alien hands."
"What? What do you mean? How is she special?"
"I can't tell you. It's need-to-know. You don't need to know."
"What?" glared Reming. Ever since he was given his commission, Starfleet insisted on keeping Reming in the dark when it concerned their more sensitive experiments. It wasn't that Reming couldn't be trusted. Trust wasn't a factor. He was insignificant to them. He was nothing but a puppet. Someone to control. Someone to manipulate. Worst of all, there was nothing Reming could do about it. He was the youngest captain of the smallest Federation starship. Even if he spoke out, no one would listen. He had no choice but to allow others to pull his strings.
Tedmoore lowered his voice, trying to calm Reming down. "It's no use, Captain, I can't tell you. Let's just say, she's very special."
Reming let out an annoyed laugh. "Oh that's fine, just fine. Does the secrecy have anything at all to do with her disease?"
The shady physician bobbed his head from side to side and rolled his eyes. "Yes, maybe. Indirectly, I suppose."
"Well, what's wrong with her? My grandmother had arthritis when she turned eighty-six. The doctors gave her something and she's fine now. This girl is barely twenty-five years old. What's going on?"
"I don't know. It looks like some form of Rheumatoid Arthritis. But that was wiped out over a thousand years ago. Every treatment we've tried doesnt seem to work for her. We can help her some with the pain, but that's all.
"What's got me is the rapid progression of the disease. Her own immune system is attacking her joints and muscles at an awesome rate. Before too long even the simplest movement will be agonizing for her. A small conference of Earth specialists is meeting at Starbase 47. The hope is, if they put their heads together, maybe they can come with some way to cure her."
"Why just human doctors?" asked Reming. "Why not call in the best minds of the Federation on it?"
Tedmoore looked nervous, as if he'd said something he should not have. "No alien involvement." As each moment passed, he became more somber. He leaned in close to Reming and added, "Captain, listen to me. She is special. It is imperative that she be kept safe. Understand?"
Reming nodded in the affirmative even though he didn't understand any of it
"Is this it?" asked Ensign Nick Smith, holding up an odd looking thing with a wide disk-like end.
"No, you idiot!" scolded Lieutenant Carol Smith, Chief Engineer and Nick's older sister. "That's a plunger. I asked you for the phase de-coupler. A plunger and a phase de-coupler are vastly different."
"Really? I always get them mixed up," said Nick.
"Remind me never to use your bathroom again."
Nick fished out the proper tool from the large black box and handed to his sister. She reached across the narrow Gefferys Tube and snatched it from him. She held the device close to her eyes, checking the calibration. Satisfied with the setting, she gripped it tightly in her right hand and shoved it into the junction box.
Nick, a bit bored, turned onto his back and stared up at the low ceiling. Whenever he found himself relaxing in a Gefferys tube, Nick always seemed to wax philosophic. "You know, Carol, I've been thinking "
Whenever Carol found herself in a Gefferys tube, she was rarely relaxing and never waxing. All she was interested in was getting her work done and getting the hell out. "What?" she asked her brother, sounding a bit annoyed.
"All this talk of the Borg got me thinking. The Borg always say they're seeking perfection. They assimilate other species in order to bring themselves closer to perfection. I was thinking maybe they have the right idea."
" What are you, the new Borg spokesperson all of a sudden?" asked Carol, dryly.
"Just hear me out a second. Ancient tribes on Earth used to think that, by consuming the flesh of their enemies, they would acquire their enemy's knowledge and power. It seems to me that the Borg are following the same practice. They're operating on a whole new level, of course."
Carol's brother was beginning to bug her, as he often did. "I don't want to be some mindless Borg drone. If that's perfection, I want no part of it."
"Ah, but you're already part of it. You, like the Borg, are seeking ways to elevate yourself to a higher level."
"The Communing chip the doctor implanted in your brain - and in my brain too. It allows us to communicate directly with the ship, mind to machine. The Borg does something very similar. I mean, the doctor admitted that he used Borg technology to develop the Communing chip in the first place. Maybe, in the distant future, we will all become Borg in our own way. Then, maybe then, we'll see things from the Borg point of view."
Carol shook her head. "Maybe it's the tight quarters in here, but you're starting to make sense. Can we talk about something else? Tell me about Sarah."
Nick, smiling warmly. "Ah, Sarah. I have to tell you something, Carol. I think I'm in love with her. No, wait. I know I'm in love with her."
Carol nearly dropped phase de-coupler. "What?"
"Since she arrived on board two weeks ago, she and I have gotten very close. We spend almost all of our free time together. We eat together. We sleep together "
"Ugh! Stop right there!"
"Carol, you don't understand," continued Nick, "I care for her. I truly do.
"You know, no one can really understands the pain she's going through. Most people think, since her disease isn't killing her, it can't be that serious. That's just not true. Slowly it's taking away her ability to care for herself. It is a cruel illness. She shouldn't go though it alone. That's why I want to be with her, sharing her struggle.
"And, the more time we spent together, the closer we grew. I love her. And she loves me."
Carol looked at her brother with a tear in her eye. "Nick, I am surprised. I never knew you felt that strongly. I'm happy for you. I am. But, you should know, relationships stemming from the role of caregiver rarely last."
"I know and I don't care. I love her. I only wish there were some way to help her."
"Well, you know, there might be a way for you to help. You already mentioned it."
Nick's eyes grew wide. "What's that?"
"Get the doctor to implant her with the Communing chip. It has the unexplained ability to make sick people well again. Remember the Vorta we had on board? He was near death, so the doc put the chip in him to keep him alive. It worked too, for a little while."
"But she'd be stuck on the Condor for the rest of her life."
"So? How'd that old twentieth century song go? 'I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints'. If she's stuck here, at least she'd be stuck here with you."
Nick thought a minute. "I'm almost sure Sarah would go for it. She'd do anything to end the pain. I wonder if the doctor would agree to it?"
In a far-flung corner of the galaxy, a mysterious object loomed large in space. It was a single Borg cube. Its interest focused on the collapsed star it slowly circled. Its collective mind concentrated on the dense anomaly, draining every scientific fact possible from it.
The Borg were fascinated with all spatial anomalies. They use the anomalies to prove their own laws of physics and test their knowledge of space/time. Other species would be in awe of the Borg's absolute knowledge of the Universe. The other civilizations of the universe will never know what the Borg knew. Borg science was for members only.
On its four million, five hundred and eleventh trip around the collapsing star, the cube came to an abrupt halt. A newly activated sensor picked up a signal. The signal lasted for thirty-one minutes and four-point-six seconds, then stopped. It only took the Borg a short time to trace the source of the signal. It originated in an area of space rarely traveled by Borg cubes. Most of the subspace conduits constructed in that area had collapsed a millennia ago. Still, the collective mind made the decision to investigate.
A small door opened on one side of the cube. From it flew a smaller spherical ship. It hovered in one place for a moment, oriented itself to the direction of the signal, then zoomed off. The Borg cube, satisfied with the selected coarse of action, resumed its steady orbit around the dying star.
"Doctor Tedmore?" yelled Nick as he strolled through the wide entrance to Sickbay.
Nick's cry surprised Tedmore. He nearly dropped his lunch, a replicated ham sandwich. "What, Nick?" he yelled back.
"Can I talk to you, alone?"
Tedmoore looked around the vacant Sickbay. "Nick," he said slowly, "we are alone."
Nick shot a glance around the room. "Ah yes."
"What do you want? Are you sick, Ensign?"
"No, doc. I'm not here for myself. I wanted to talk to you about Sarah."
"Ah, Sarah," smiled Tedmoore, slyly. "I hear you and her have grown pretty close."
Nick blushed a bit. "Yeah, I guess we have. Anyway, doc, you know how she's sick and all, right?"
Tedmoore narrowed his gaze at the young ensign and lost his smile. " Nick, what do you want?"
"Well, I have an idea on how to make her better. We, that is, you could implant her with the Communing chip. That way she "
Upon hearing Nick's suggestion, the Doctor waved his hands wildly in front of himself, as if declaring a sliding base runner safe. "NO! Absolutely not!"
Nick's face grew twisted with worry. "Well, why not? I know she'd be stuck here, but at least she'd be healthy. Why not?"
The doctor took another bite of his sandwich and continued talking. With his mouth full of ham, he said, "Number one, there's no guarantee she's compatible. Only certain people with specific DNA characteristics, like you and your sister, are eligible for the chip."
Nick waited for Tedmoore to continue, but he said nothing more. Nick believed the Doctor had more information, so he decided to push for more. "And "
"And what?" asked the doctor, after taking another bite of sandwich.
"You said, number one, blah, blah, blah. I was waiting for a number two."
Tedmoore squinted at the young Ensign. "You're a nosy fellow. Get out of here and leave me alone, will you?"
Nick was taken aback by the doctor's lashing. Nonetheless he stood his ground. "No, not until you tell me the rest."
Tedmoore slammed his sandwich down onto the bio-bed he was using as a makeshift table. "Look, it's confidential, okay? Let's just say Starfleet has other needs for her. Getting her stuck on the Condor isn't part of their plan."
"What? What does Starfleet have to do with her being sick?"
"Can't tell you."
"Does she know about Starfleet's interests in her?"
"Confidential," said the doctor, nodding his head wildly in the affirmative.
Ensign's face grew soft. "Oh."
The doctor's COMM. badge chirped, breaking the awkward silence growing between he and Nick. Tedmoore tapped it and asked, "Yes?"
"Doctor, this is Reming. We're ready up here. The Pakled representative is here. So is Sarah. I would like you to be here too, to tend to her needs."
"Find, Captain. I'm on my way. Sickbay out."
Tedmoore smashed the last bit of sandwich into his mouth. With his face filled with a mixture of bread and ham, he gave Nick a quick two-fingered solute and said, "Duty calls," as he trotted out the door.
Nick, alone now in Sickbay, proceeded to walk out, head hanging low, back to his quarters. With his sister's suggestion, he thought he'd found a way to keep the woman he loved so much. As he prodded onward, through the empty corridors, his heart slowly sank to new levels of despair. Sarah was the first woman in Nick's life that wasn't made up of photons and force fields. She was real and he loved her.
But now, as soon as the ship was repaired, it would be back on coarse for SB47. Not long after, the Condor would be docking, and, when that happened, Sarah would be forever gone from his life. Nick could not be by her side during her treatment at the Starbase. The Communing chip would not allow him to leave the confines of the Condor without killing him. And Sarah, somehow mixed up in some secret Starfleet plot, could not stay with him on the Condor, even if it meant she'd be well.
At least the engines were not fixed yet. Nick sought comfort in that. The longer the repairs went, the more time he had to spend with his love. Nick found himself wishing the engines would never get fixed.
Just then a familiar voice called out. "Hey Nick!" It was Carol walking toward him from the opposite direction. "I've been looking all over for you. I've got good news."
Nick forced a smile. "Yeah? What's that?"
"I've got the warp drive back on-line. I need you back on the bridge to run some tests."
After hearing that, Nick felt his heart sink a little farther down.
The conference room just off the bridge of the Condor was quickly converted into a small place of deliberation. Many of the chairs surrounding the oblong conference table were removed. The high back chair that normally resides at the head of the table was moved to the long side of the table closest the door. The honored seat was reserved for the mediator.
At one end of the table sat Captain Philip Reming. Far across from him sat Mo'Roon, the Pakled representative and captain of the alien vessel. Both men sat quietly, waiting for the arbitrator to arrive.
Their wait wasn't long. The doorway slid open and in walked the very frail Sarah Desert, flanked closely by the Doctor. She made it to her chair and sat down, talking a moment to gather what little strength she had left. The doctor did not sit. He remained standing beside her.
Before beginning the discussion, Sarah reached for the small glass of water in front of her. With both hands she slowly raised the glass. She winced each time her tortured elbows bent a little more to bring the glass to her lips. Sarah took a generous sip, then slowly returned the glass to the table.
After watching Sarah struggle, Mo'Roon looked her in the eye and said, "You are sick."
"What a fine grasp of the obvious you have there," joked Sarah. "Honestly, it is none of your concern. It will not prevent me from being fair in this meeting." Sarah turned to Reming for reassurance. He gave her a respectful nod, which did much to bolster her confidence.
Wearing her best professional expression, Sarah turned back to Mo'Roon and said, "Before we get started, I noticed you have a weapon, Mo'Roon. Weapons are not permitted at deliberations."
Mo'Roon lovingly tapped the gun tethered to his waist. "This is my Borg gun. I made it myself. When I pull the trigger, it goes boom, boom! I can't ever be without it. If I lose it, I'll disappear. POOF! Just like the Borg."
Sarah rolled her eyes, "Yeah, okay. Whatever." She took a deep breath and got down to business. "Mo'Roon, from what I understand, it is your desire to become assimilated by the Borg. Is that correct?"
"Yes," mumbled Mo'Roon from the corner of his mouth. "We are not smart. The Borg can make us smart. We were calling the Borg. They were coming for us, but Captain Reming made us stop calling. He scared us with his big Corbomite. "
Sarah turned to Reming, "Wa?"
Reming raised his eyebrows and tapped his lips with his index finger. "Secret weapon."
Sarah nodded, "Ah, I see. So, Captain, these nice folks want be Borg. Why did you make them stop?"
The Captain folded his hands on the table. "The Borg are dangerous. They won't stop at assimilating Mo'Roon and his crew, they'll assimilate all of us. I know I don't want to be assimilated."
Once Reming finished his answer, Doctor Tedmoore, standing silently beside Sarah, took the opportunity to lean forward and whisper in her ear. "How are you feeling? You need another injection of cortisone?" he asked. She did not answer him. Sarah merely waved her hand at him, as if chasing away a bothersome insect.
Sarah was focused on the job at hand. She had only observed mediators in the past. She never was one herself. Sarah didn't know what the hell she was doing. but she was having fun nonetheless.
She turned her attention back to Mo'Roon. "The Captain raises some important concerns. Can you offer him some assurance that his ship and crew will be safe?"
The obtuse Mo'Roon seemed agitated. "I did not ask him to come here. If he had left us alone, he would not be in danger. It is his own fault if he gets assimilated."
"We wanted to talk. You fired on us," lobbed Reming.
"You fired first," answered Mo'Roon.
"Please, calm down, everyone," said Sarah. "We cannot concern ourselves with what we cannot change. I am forced to remind myself of that fact every day. We must find a solution to our immediate problem. That being: if the Borg come to assimilate you Pakleds, how do we prevent them from assimilating the Condor and its crew as well? Gentlemen, I may have a solution."
"It being?" asked Reming.
"Captain Mo'Roon waits for you to leave the area. He then restarts the Borg beckon once the Condor is a safe distance away. Is that agreeable to you, Captain Reming?"
Reming looked at Sarah as if she were crazy. She had to know that the Borg would track down the Condor by its ion trail. The Borg would then attack SB47 and any other inhabited world in the area. The Federation would be called in to stop them. The suffering Starfleet would lose even more ships and lives in the process. Sarah had to out of her mind, thought Reming.
Then Sarah smiled. She winked at the Captain and said. "You don't have any other ships converging on our location, do you?"
Suddenly, he remembered. Reed dispatched a message to SB47 requesting a ship to seize the Pakled. The commanding officer at the Starbase responded, informing Reed that the USS Intrepid was on the way, ETA: two hours. That was about seventy minutes ago. Reming smiled back at Sarah. "No ma'am. No other ships in the area."
Sarah then turned to Mo'Roon. "Is my solution agreeable to you?"
The greasy looking, overfed alien sneered at Reming and said, "It is."
"Good!" smiled Sarah. "I invite you both to meet me in the mess hall to celebrate our agreement."
Reming was about to agree with the negotiator. After all, it was the perfect stall tactic. They'd all be sharing a drink when the USS Intrepid dropped out of warp above the Mo'Roon's ship, guns blazing. He was about to agree when his COMM. badge chirped.
"Yes?" he asked.
"Captain, this is Reed. Sorry to interrupt, but our sensors have just picked up a ship on an intercept course moving at high warp. It will be here any second."
"Is it the Intrepid?" asked Reming.
"No, sir. It's the Borg."
The makeshift deliberation room quickly emptied its contents onto the bridge. Reming was the first. Mo'Roon was second. Sarah, with the doctor's assistance, was the last to set foot on the bridge.
On the view screen appeared the image of a massive spherical shaped craft quickly approaching. A sinister smile sprung across Mo'Roon's face. "They are coming for us," he said with a chuckle.
Reming grew more worried with each passing moment. "Yeah, they're coming for all of us."
Everyone watched, most in horror and one with joy, as the Borg ship parked itself between the Condor and Mo'Roon's vessel.
"Should I raise shields?" whispered Parks.
"Don't to anything," demanded Reed, in a forceful but soft tone. "No sudden moves."
"Mr. Smith, get ready to get us out of here, fast. You know what to do," said Reming.
Ensign Nick Smith knew what to do, indeed. He wiped some perspiration from his right palm then placed it flat against the tactile panel beside him. Instantly, the link between brain and ship was established. He could now take the ship to warp in the instance of a single thought.
The speakers around the bridge crackled to life. A chorus of a hundred monotone voices bled through, rumbling throughout every corner of the Condor. "We are the Borg. We will add your technical and biological distinctiveness to our own. Prepare for assimilation. Resistance is futile."
The last line sent chills though Reming. His brain, in a panic, couldn't decide if he should wet himself or crap himself. Unable to make a decision, he did neither. Unsure where the courage came from, and not caring, Reming stepped forward, closer to the view screen and said, "We were not the one's who called you. The people on the other ship actually want to be assimilated."
In the blink of an eye, a green beam of light shot from the sphere, striking Mo'Roon's ship. It and its crew were being scanned. Mo'Roon knew that. His eyes flashed with delight. Finally, his people would be smart.
Then, just as suddenly, the beam shut off and the speakers throughout the Condor crackled to life once again. In one voice, the Borg said, "No, thank you."
Mo'Roon's face twisted with distress. "What do you mean? We want to be smart. We want to be like you. We build out ship from parts of other ships, like you. We even dress like you. Why do you say no?"
Again, speaking as one, the voices said, "The Borg assimilate species in order to bring ourselves closer to perfection. By assimilating you and your people, we would be taking a step backward. You and your race should be exterminated." With that, the Borg ship fired five quantum torpedoes at Mo'Roon's ship, obliterating it.
Mo'Roon, with the bright explosion reflected in his eyes, was consumed with shock. His tiny brain could not handle the weight of the situation. He fell backward onto the floor and passed out.
The Borg vessel then shot its emerald beam at the Condor. It wiped though the ship, over each crewman, each system, and over each person on the bridge. After a few seconds, the beam shut off, turning everything from varying shades green back to their proper color.
"Species human," spoke the Borg voices, "your ship contains technological qualities we desire. To gain a full understanding, we will assimilate you and your ship. We highly suggest you do not resist."
Reming looked around the room, peering into the stark white faces around him. His eyes settled on Reed. She looked at him, eyes wide, and whispered though quivering lips, "I love you." For a second, Reming thought he might fall to the ground, beside his Pakled friend.
Surely, it was all over for him. This was the end. Reming found himself lamenting over his past mistakes. He found himself wishing he'd lived his life differently. He wished he'd live a better life. He wished he would have expressed his feelings toward Donna a lot sooner.
The lights on the bridge dimmed. The Borg were using energy dampers to nullify the Condor's power, thus preventing any chance of escape. Soon the drones would be beaming over to perform their gruesome task. There was nothing left but the waiting.
Reming detected the faint smell of ozone. It was the kind of smell that preceded a transporter energy beam. They were coming. There was no stopping them, or so Reming thought.
Just then, Sarah stepped forward. She knew the Borg wanted her more than anyone else on the ship. She reached down and took the weapon from the waist of the unconscious Mo'Roon. Without his favorite gun, the sleeping Mo'Roon vanished in a puff of smoke, just as he had promised. No one really noticed his sudden vanishing act. No one cared.
Sarah took the weapon in her white knuckled fist and held the muzzle to her chin. To the viewer she screamed, "STOP IT! I WILL KILL MYSELF IF YOU DON'T! THERE MUST BE AN ARRANGEMENT ACCEPTABLE TO US BOTH!"
Inexplicably, the lights around the bridge grew a little brighter. The Borg voice spoke again. "State your terms."
The Doctor, soaked with fear, grabbed Sarah by the arm. "Sarah, I know what you're thinking. I can't let you do this. We'll save you somehow. "
Reming, fists clenched, stormed over to Tedmoore's side. "What the hell is going on here?" He flung a finger in Tedmoore's face. "What's so special about her? TELL ME!"
Doctor Tedmoore looked around the room in a panic, hoping for some way out. He was trapped. As much as he didn't want to, he had to talk. He had to tell Reming the truth. With shoulders drooping under the pressure, he spoke, rushing his words. "Starfleet has been experimenting with using the human brain as a kind of courier. It's a simple procedure. We fill some artificial brain cells, encoded with top secret information - memories - and implant them into the subject. These artificial memories are made up of top secret information about Federation strengths and weaknesses. There is information about our enemies and our allies. Presently, the process only works on humans. And, so far, only a select few people on Earth know it's even being done. You see now? Do you see why it was so important to keep her out of alien hands? If the Borg assimilate her, they'll learn things about us that we're not ready for them to know."
Reming rubbed his head. He could hardly believe his ears. His mind was spinning, struggling to ingest the incredible information it was just fed. He looked at Sarah, still holding the gun her head, then back to the Doctor. "Of course, who'd expect an Admiral's daughter for a spy. Much less someone with an illness."
Tedmoore smiled nervously. "But that's just it. Before she was implanted, she wasn't sick. Somehow the experiment caused her to get sick. That's why we were taking her to SB47. We wanted to find definitively if the procedure caused her illness."
The bridge speakers crackled to life again. "State your terms."
Sarah looked up at Reming and smiled softly. "This is my decision." She then walked softly over to Nick, seated at the helm. He looked up at her, trying desperately to wipe the tears from his eyes. She leaned down and gave him a gentle kiss on the cheek.
"Why?" Nick asked, voice drenched in sorrow.
"For one thing, it's the only way to save the ship. For another, when I'm part of the collective, I won't be sick. I won't suffer anymore. The Borg will take my sickness away." Sarah then turned back to the viewer. "HEAR ME!" she roared, "THESE ARE MY TERMS. YOU KNOW I CARRY SPECIAL KNOWLEDGE. YOU TAKE ME ALONE AND LET THE SHIP LEAVE."
The many Borg voices spoke. "Unacceptable. We require two. You and another. A few of you are equipped with unique technology we wish to understand."
Reming leaned over to Reed, "What are they talking about?"
"The Communing chip, I suspect," she whispered.
Parks leapt from his seat. He looked around the room. He caught the Captain's eye and said. "Sir, let me go."
"NO!" yelled Nick. "I'll go." He looked at Sarah and smiled. "At least we'll be together."
Of course, the Borg were monitoring the situation very closely. They wasted no time to finalize the deal. In a single green flash, both Sarah and Nick vanished from the bridge.
With jaws hanging open, Reed, Reming, Tedmoore and Parks stared at the now vacant bridge station. A weird emptiness weighed heavy on each of them. Ensign Nicholas Smith, helmsman of the USS Condor was gone.
"Uh, Commander, take the helm," mumbled Reming. "Get us out of here."
Reed nodded nervously and took Nick's seat. She laid in a set of coordinates and was about to engage the warp engines when something seemed to jolt the Condor. It was a tractor beam coming from the Borg sphere. It grabbed the Condor, drawing it in.
"What's going on? WE HAD A DEAL!" yelled Reming.
The bridge speakers crackled to lige again. "We changed out collective mind," spoke the Borg.
"We're doomed," muttered Parks.
As the Borg ship drew the defenseless Condor ever closer, the cutting beams sparked to life. It was about to strike the bare hull of the Condor when it mysteriously exploded into a brilliant cloud of ionized gas.
"What the hell just happened?" asked Reed.
A dark moving shadow crossed in front of the Condor. It was another ship - the Intrepid. In a furious burst of firepower, it attacked the Borg sphere. The sphere fired back, but merely as a token gesture. The sphere was out gunned. It slowly moved away then disappeared to wherever Borg ships go.
On the bridge, the speakers crackled to life once again. This time the voice was unmistakably human. "Hi there. I am Captain Steel of the USS Intrepid. Stay put, Condor. We'll tractor you back to Starbase 47. Just sit back and relax. Intrepid out."
Reming slumped back into his chair, rubbing his damp forehead. His mind was swimming. In the events that had just transpired he lost a crewman - a valued crewman. Ensign Smith tried to sacrifice himself for the good of the ship, to say nothing for true love. And now he was gone forever.
And what of Sarah, wondered Reming. Could it be that her only course for salvation from her disease was to give up her humanity? Reming wondered, if given the same circumstances, would he be bold enough to make the same choice.
Reming, searching for answers, looked to his right. Sitting there, beside him, was his friend Donna. She looked at him and smiled sorrowfully. He patted her hand thoughtfully, then leaned back in his chair and sighed. "Oh what am I going to tell the Admiral."
Continued in: Borg Like Me