Were the people in that slice of the Ent-D the borg cut out assimilated? to give the borg a taste for humans? See if they added to perfection?
At the time the episode was written, assimilation hadn't been conceived yet; Q states that the Borg have no interest in people, only technology, and Riker finds that the drones are incubated from infancy. So no doubt Maurice Hurley's assumption was that those 18 people had died. In retrospect, however, it's logical to assume that at least some of them were assimilated, just like the multiple other assimilated Alpha-Quadrant individuals seen in VGR.
In my recent TNG novel Greater Than the Sum
, I confirmed that at least one of those 18 people was assimilated and ultimately liberated in "Unimatrix Zero."