Written by: Jasen S. Benwah
THE CONTINUING VOYAGES OF THE U.S.S. VOYAGER IN THE 24TH CENTURY.
Transporter Chief Lt. Berman's fingers ran franticly over the transporter controls. She spoke to the Com-link.
"I have them," she said-jumping the gun. On the bridge, the Captain did'nt have time to feel relieved.
"Sorry," Lt. Berman added,"I've lost them,"she reported. A bolt of shock ran down the Captain's spine.
"What do you mean you've lost them?"she demanded,"Where are they?"The Transporter Chief's
"I don't know,"she admitted."Transport was normal,"she explained,"I had their patterns and then lost them - as if they were'nt there in the first place". Janeway paced the area in front of her command seat.
"Conduct a level three diagnostic on those systems immediately," she ordered.
"Janeway to Engineering!"she blurted without a second thought. The response was immediate.
"Torres here, Captain", the Engineer responded.
"I want you to take charge of the total inspection of Transporter Room systems and
find out what happened to our Away Team," the Captain directed. Torres, horrified at the thought, paused for a brief moment. Tom Paris was on that away mission and it made her panic strickened at the thought that she might lose him forever.
"I'm on it!"she finally said. The Captain understood.
But the Away Team had materialized on the Transporter pad in Transporter Room. Upon materializing, the Away Team was shocked to see Borg drones only. One at the Transporter consolt and three waiting near the pad. Each of the three Borg immediately grasped an Away Team member and led them out of the Transporter Room. As they were walked - against their will - down the corridor, one of the Borg spoke.
"Resistance is futile-you will be assimilated." Only Borg drones passed them - from both directions. Going about their business like worker bees. How could this be? Thanks to Kes, Voyager was thousands of light years from Borg space. This made no sense.
"We're really in for it," Paris observed.
Their Borg captors could not be bargined with. Discussion was futile. Assimilation was assured unless they could escape. They could even discuss their plans openly without fear - the Borg would be uninterested and Chakofcay knew this.
"The next vacant corridor," he plotted,"is where we take them out." Tuvok and Paris nodded in approval. As they turned the next intersection, Chakotay initiated the plan. He grabbed the machanical eyepiece from the Borg gripping him by his arm.This monentarily distracted the drone and allowed Chakotay out of it's grip.Tuvok and Paris knocked their accompanying drones to the floor. All three then bolted down the corridor.
"What now?" Paris posed to his Commanding officer as they intered an empty turbolift. Chakotay didn't have a response. Tuvok, however, had a suggestion.
"We must access a computer terminal to determine the status of Voyager," the Vulcan determined. Chakotay could not argue with logic.
"You're right," he acknowledged, "I want to know how to take back the ship and locate our crew mates." He thought of the Captain.
"Computer, where is Captain Janeway?" he requested, eying the turbolift ceiling. No answer came.
"Doesn't feel right," Paris remarked, stating the ovious. Tuvok nodded- as did Chakotay. "Think of it," Paris added," Voyager suddenly crewed by Borg Drones and linked to the collective," he pondered.
"It's our worst nightmare," the Commander added, gravely. He thought of being assimilated. Even though he had experienced the collective on a small scale- he feared losing his identity. It was as good as being dead.
"I, too, am at a lost to explain our apparent predicament, " Tuvok disclosed- considering their their situation. Chakotay considered their options.
"We have to get to a computer terminal, keep from getting caught, assess the overall threat and our chances of retaking the ship or escaping without being assimilated," he determined. They agreed.
I would suggest we get to the medical bay,"Paris added. The Borg will have no use of such a facility and they knew it.
"Deck ten," Chakotay commanded. He didn't expect a response and didn't get one- the turbolift did not move.
"We can expect no help from the ship" the Vulcan surmised. "I would also expect the Borg collective to use the ship's internal sensors to track our whereabouts," he deduced. Chakotay understood the implications.
"Let's get out of here," Paris insisted. They exited the turbolift returning to the corridor. Lined tightly in single file on both sides of the corridor were Borg drones. Clearly, they were securing a one way path for the escapees to follow, chakotay, Tuvok and Paris were baffled.
"We're trapped," the Commander declared. There was no denying it.
"Indeed," Tuvok ackowledged," we have been given no choice." Chakotay took the lead.
"Let's see what awaits us," he directed, and began down the corridor. "Stay alert - we may get another chance".
Back on the Voyager - from where the Away Team
was sent, time was passing and the worst had been expected. Captain Janeway and remaining senoir officers met in the briefing room. The time had come to make unwanted decisions.
"I have officially recorded Ensign Tom Paris, Lt. Tuvok and Commander Chakotay as missing," the Captain declared- clearly distressed at the prospect of having lost three valuable crew members. She eyed her half Klingon Engineer -giving her a slight nod. Torres responded.
"We have done a level three diagnosis on transporter room three," she certified," There were no malfunctions".
"But, what happened to them?" Janeway probed, unsatisfied, torres shrugged.
"I wish I knew," she admitted - clearly grieving over the loss of Tom Paris. The holographic Doctor had a suggestion that could'nt hurt.
"Captain, I believe Borg technology might assisst us in finding answers," he speculated - in his very sure of himself mannerisms. The Captain was in need of answers and they were not forth-coming.
"It's worth a try," she determined, turning to her Engineer. "Have Seven of Nine assist you in any way she can. Meeting adjourned-dismissed,' she concluded and left her seat. She felt more alone than she ever felt in her life. She had grown accustomed to Chakotay's advice and support. Even when he resisted her ideas and decisions. It was hard to accept that she had lost him - as well as Tuvok and Tom Paris.
"I'll be in my ready room," she declared and headed off the bridge. "Lt. Sagan you have the bridge," she added and intered her Ready Room. She had barely time to sit down when her com link chimed.
"What is it?" she inquired.
"Captain Janeway. I believe that the Borg Collective may be behind the Away Team's disappearance," the attractive part-Borg sermized. This was a positive step in the investigation - the first good lead.
"On what evidence do you base this dermination?" the Captain probed, very curious. Seven of Nine responded immediately.
"I have analyzed the energy signature on the planet's surface,"she explained,"My familiarity with the Collective leads me to conclude that it may Borg," she concluded. Janeway considered the next possible course of action. She determined that she was open to any ideas.
"Any suggestions as to what we do next?" the Captain asked.
"I would like permission to transport to the surface and investigate the location - there may be evidence," she proposed. It seemed the next logical move to the Captain as well.
"Agreed," she declared," But, I want two security officers to accompany you." It was not policy to send only one person on an Away Mission and this would be no exception.
Elsewhere, location unknown, the Borg had their own agenda. Chakotay, Tuvok and Paris cautiously intered cargo bay four- a one way path as dictated by the Borg. They recognized Seven of Nine's home - with the Borg drone regeneration alcoves and associated equipment. One alcove was occupied-still regenerating as the three prisoners intered and stopped to face her. She had long blond hair, attractive and wore a very tight and shapely jumpsuit. She was Seven of Nine. The detainees eyeballed the cargo bay. Nothing had changed-with the exception of the presence of the Borg drones. She awoke and stepped down.
"Welcome," she said in a friendly and familiar voice. She stood in front of them.
"Seven?" Chakotay queried, looking into her eyes.
She smiled-looking at each of the three men.
"My previous designation was Seven of Nine but I am now known as Kaaserra and I speak for the Collective,"she announced- in a firm but friendly tone of voice. It was obvious to the three men that she was the Borg Queen.
"And the rest of the crew?" Chakotay posed, "They have all been assimilated?" To this question, the Borg Queen nodded.
"You are correct," she admitted,"They are now members of the collective."
"Care to tell us how this all came to be?"paris demanded, again she smiled. Not really the response expected.
An excellent question," she acknowledged,"and you'll also want to know when we plan to assimilate you," she added. This was true.
"Tell us," Chakotay insisted- acknowledging to himself that this was unusual behaviour for any member of the Collective and a thought shared by the others.
"But first, "she responded-heading to the exit, "Let us go to the bridge." Tuvok and Paris awaited Chakotay's reaction. He nodded in agreement. Did they really have a choice? They followed Kaaserra out of the cargo bay.
As they walked down the corridor, the Borg Drones altered the allowable path direction so that the turbolift was the only choice. They then proceeded to the bridge with their Borg captor.
"We do not plan on assimilating you," Kaaserra disclosed abruptly as they walked on the Bridge. This admission stunned the three men and confused them. It was wecomed news nonetheless.
"I was not looking towards being assimilated," Tuvok admitted.
"Why not?" the First Officer as the Queen -also not disappointed.
"When we re-assimilated Seven of Nine the Collective changed- her strong individuality provided new leadership," she explained and continued, "It is for this reason this new Drone is the new Borg Queen." she paused for a moment.
"Seven of Nine's unique combination of Borg and human technology and ideas have changed the Collective forever," she declared. Chakotay liked what he was hearing so far. A similar fate involved an isolated group of Borg years before in the Alpha Quadrant.
"We want to be more than we are," she contined, "Assimilating civilizations is tiresome and no longer desired".
"Interesting," Tuvok commented, "What exactly do you have have in mind?" he inquired-pun intented. They intered the bridge that was staffed by Borg Drones who were former Starfleet personal.
"Dismantle the Collective and create a confederation of civilizations united in peace and security here in the Delta Quadrant," Kaaserra explained to the amasement of Chakotay & Paris. Tuvok was fasinated and also very emotionless at the same
time. "You can help us accomplish this," she determined,
"We know you support this idea". She had said a mouth full -but what could three individuals do to help?
Meanwhile, Captain Janeway received a message from B'Elanna Torres on the planet's Surface.
"The energy signature is not Borg, Captain," she revealed. "It's very similar - but not Borg as I know it," she reported. This was getting frustrating. The Captain sat down in her Command chair.
"Speculation?" she requested- speaking to the corn-link.
"The energy pulse is probably an alien transporter that snatched our Away Team during transport," she surmised. Janeway considered the consequences.
"If you're right- the Away Team could be held in a cloaked building, underground, on a cloaked ship or on some other planet," the Captain speculated. Seven of Nine interjected.
"I will return to the ship and re-adjust the ships sensors to scan the planet for residual traces of the alien signature," she recommended.
"Agreed," the Captain concurred,"We need to find the source." The Engineer then signalled the ship to beam up the landing party..At last they seemed to be making progress.
Captain Janeway took comfort in knowing that there was now a strong possibility that the Away Team was not dead but captured and taken elsewhere Still, her problems were not over,
"Transporter Room Two to the Bridge!" Transporter operator Bermar roared over the Com-link, the Captain felt a cold chill run down her spine. She expected the worst and hoped for the best.
"Janeway here," she responded," Is the second Away Team aboard?"
"Negative, Captain," she reported."They're patterns were snatched away by the alien energy pulse.
"Damn!" Janeway cursed and rushed over to the sensor control consolt. She would have to make the modifications to the ships sensors herself- to allow them to scan for the source of the alien energy signature. She did her best to prevent her emotions from getting the best of her- she needed to focus. As Captain she had to be strong and in control at all times- regardless of the situation. It was necessary for the crew's morale. She completed the necessary adjustments and began scanning the planet's surface.
"Excuse me. Captain," Neelix interrupted. She turned to look at him.
"Yes,Neelix?" she responded, continuing the scan.
"I just wanted to remind you that if there is anything I can do," he gestured," just let me know." To this, Janeway smiled- feeling comfort in his offer.
"I will," she assured him and eyed the sensor readouts. "Got it!" she said aloud.
"Confirmed," Ensign Kirn verified from his work station." The signal is originating five kilometers below the planet's surface under the shuttle's position.
Deep beneath the planet's surface and in a replica of Voyager, the Borg Queen, Kaaserra, and her detainees sat around the Conference room table. They drank and began to feel at ease.Chakotay still felt that all was not as it seemed and he was right.
"Your Captain will soon locate you," the Borg disclosed without warning. Paris and Tuvok looked at each other and Chakotay in disbelisf.
"I thought you said the crew had been assimilated?" Chakotay posed, curiously. Kaaserrs smiled. She had diceived them and now it was time to come clean-so to speak.
"This is not really Voyager-but merely a holo-similation," she admitted. "You are beneath the planet's surface in my private research facility," she explained.
"What about Voyager?" Tuvok questioned.
"In orbit about the planet and at this moment scanning this facility," she replied casually- finding amusement with the entire ordeal.
"For what purpose?" Chakotay asked. They all wanted to know.
"It's what I do," she explained," I lure aliens to the planet for insights into their very nature."
"And all this Borg presence?" Paris asked,"You are not Borg?" It was in need of explanation.
"No, I am not Borg, "she verified. "My true appearance would be very unsettling to your kind- to say least," she admitted. "I scanned your thoughts for the Borg scenario."
"What gives you the right " Chakotay denounced, "to trap people for your own amusement?" He did not expect an apology.
"You now know all that you need to know," she determined," I bid you farwell." Before any of them could utter another word, the alien energy pulse engulfed them. They reappeared instantly on Voyager's bridge along with Seven of Nine, Torres and two security officers.
"Good to have you back," the Captain said with relief. "Get this ship out of here now-for the Alpha Quadrant at warp seven!"
"Before our alien captor changes it's mind," Chakotay added with a sigh.
"With pleasure," Paris sat down at the helm station and the ship jumped into warp.
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