A hand reached out to him as soon as he rematerialized. It was holding a glowing green vial. Reflexively, Tom Paris took it.
Seven of Nine took a seat at a sensor console in what Tom recognized as the interior of a Federation shuttlecraft.
“Seven? What? Why? Where?”
“It was necessary to beam you aboard this shuttle in order for you to regain control of your ship. I have been monitoring ship status from here since Perseus went to alert.” As if by afterthought, she turned and looked at him. “Good morning, Commander Paris.” She wore an EVA suit without a helmet. Sweat glistened on her geometrically beautiful face, and her wrapped blonde coif was mussed from what looked to be a full night of exterior nacelle spacewalking. As she returned to her readouts, Tom’s gaze shifted from Seven to the front viewport. They hovered in stationary attitude above the Perseus
primary hull, within the great interlocking port girders of the Utopia Planitia Berthing Station 97A Orbital Dry-Dock, above planet Mars.
He remembered the vial in his hand. “What’s this?”
Tom visualized a single errant nanoprobe, a simple, molecular machine, entering his skin and bloodstream, replicating exponentially, facilitating his immediate assimilation into a half-machine, ghoulish cybernetic drone with the knowledge of thousands of galactic civilizations; and then his conversion of the Perseus
into a mechanical Borg hive, spreading throughout the Mars Fleet Yards, Earth, and the solar system, the United Federation of Planets, and then the other three quadrants of the galaxy itself, converting the galaxy and then the universe into a mindless, insatiable collective soulless machine—and very carefully set the vial on the console.
“Security lockouts are preventing the reestablishment of command authorizations on the Perseus. I believe a shutdown of the computer core will reset the security paradox and permit access.
“That’s fine, but there’s no way to shut down the core without command access—which results in a shortcut to the brig. That is, unless we wanted to somehow simulate an overload of primary systems threatening a warp core breach.”
As if she didn’t hear him, she said, “You will require an EVA suit. I suggest you put one on while I explain.”
Tom, in pure self-interest, thought the easiest route was to simply comply with her “request”. He touched an access panel and found a pressure suit.
Seven registered his compliance and called up a schematic of the ship. She began to compute the optimal interface control for access to the computer core. “Manually restarting the computer core would be futile.”
“Then what about tricking the computer into a warp core shutdown?”
“Time-consuming—and ultimately futile. The only way to trigger a computer core shutdown is to access it indirectly by injection of reprogrammed Borg nanoprobes through adjacent systems. You can infiltrate the bioneural gelpack network via the interface controls of any plasma regulator in Grid 84 Theta of the dorsal hull.” She indicated the blinking radials placed at intervals across the ship schematic. “The nanoprobes will replicate throughout the bioneural network and facilitate a temporary deactivation of the computer core—regardless of its automated security countermeasures. They will adapt. After which, the nanoprobes will cease self-replication and be harmlessly flushed away throughout the network.”
“That’s your solution. Assimilate the ship.”
“Sounds like Monday,” he quipped. He took his helmet.
Seven rose to pack the vial of Borg nanoprobes in his utility pouch. She then took the helmet and placed it over his head, and started on the suit’s seals.
“It’s good to be working with you again, Seven. I’m glad you finally decided to accept Starfleet’s assignment to the Perseus. But I thought you were finished with ship duty. What made you decide to suspend your academy teaching and come out here with the Martians?”
“I’m given to understand a human’s prerogative is to ‘change her mind’, is it not?”
“Are you questioning my biological sex, or gender traits, Commander? I should think it was apparent to the crew by now.” She looked into his eyes. “We are
Tom chuckled at that. “Oh come on, Seven. Skintight uniforms weren’t exhibitionist enough for you? We’re all pretty confident in your…gender traits.”
“Commander, your antagonism leads me to conclude you are attempting to tease me. Do human females normally find this behavior amusing?”
not the word I’d—”
“Good. I was concerned I was having a malfunction in my Borg emotional shield generator.”
“Seven—was that a joke?” Tom smiled.
“I’m beginning to apprehend the complexity of your interpersonal behaviors, Commander. Your unique facility for –‘charm’.” She led him to the transporter pad. “Commander Paris. I’d like to apologize to you.”
“For what, Seven?”
“For my previous dismissals of the—full extent of your interpersonal aptitudes, which I had grossly underestimated. It is evident in the motivation you evoke in your crew, and what makes you fit for command, where I am not. When we served together, I was…bereft of certain aspects of my humanity, which unfortunately, blinded me to my crewmates’ more artful skills of—being human.”
“We didn’t always get you either, Seven. Anyway—we’re glad you’re back.”
Seven returned to her console. “And…you have kind eyes. Engaging emergency site-to-site transport.”