Riker orders Worf to fire on the Borg cube where Captain Picard has been transformed into Locutus of Borg. But because Picard was briefed on the plan to use the deflector dish to amplify the Enterprise's weapons, the Borg are ready for the attack. Locutus informs Riker that the Borg now possess all of Picard's knowledge. After Admiral Hanson declares Picard dead, gives Riker a field commission as captain, and explains Starfleet's plan to intercept the Borg before they reach Earth, Riker asks Shelby to serve as his first officer. While the Borg continue the process of assimilating Locutus, the new captain orders the Enterprise to rendezvous with the Starfleet attack force, but it is too late: dozens of ships are floating lifeless near Wolf 359. The cube resumed course for Earth and the Enterprise pursues, but it is clear that they cannot overtake the Borg. Reminded by Guinan that he must throw away the rule book if Picard knew its rules, Riker goes ahead with the plan to separate the Enterprise's saucer section, assuming that the Borg will ignore it and fight the drive section long enough to send Worf and Data to return Picard to the Enterprise. The mission is successful, though Dr. Crusher reports that Picard is too deeply assimilated for her to remove the implants. Data attempts to wire himself into the Borg's neural network through Locutus but is unsuccessful at accessing the weapons or defense commands until Picard breaks through and suggests that Data tell the Borg to sleep. While Riker prepares for a collision course that will destroy the Enterprise as well as the Borg cube, Data successfully puts the Borg into regeneration mode. The shift in power that halts the Borg weapons creates an overload that causes the cube to explode. Crusher is able to remove the Borg alterations to Picard, and Riker remains on the Enterprise as first officer, while Shelby departs to help rebuilt the fleet.
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