Seven in Red:
On the main viewer of the Perseus Secondary's battle bridge, the courtly Adjutant eyed Seven with shock-eyed urgency. Behind him, an older man sat in the central position of the glassy Dreadnought bridge; he did not deign to note his own viewer.
“By what unethical and unworldly means of propulsion was that?”
“Enqarian Dreadnought. I am Commander Seven of Nine of the U.S.S. Perseus, of the –”
who you are. Yesterday we had never heard of your Federation – but today, we shall revile that name for all time.”
“The devastation to your world was initiated not by us but by an alien interloper who has commandeered –”
“Do not attempt to compound your crime against the galaxy with prevarication and evasion,” the Adjutant said.
“Sir. Are you in command of that vessel?”
“You will direct your communication to me, Outlier. Better still, I shall terminate it altogether.”
“Then I shall drop Executrix Doctor San Met and her delegation elsewhere. Good day.”
“San Met? Is on that ship?” The elder man jumped up from his seat and shoved the Adjutant aside.
“Yes, Captain –”
Mul Brugnai Rejental. We demand that you release your prisoner at once!”
“Pallaj Rejental. We are not her captors. We rescued the delegation and have approached your ship in order to deliver them back to their people.”
“You will release them into our custody at once. They are to stand trial and be judged guilty. The delegation and their Adjutants and Attendants will be put to death immediately following trial.”
“You have already passed judgment – before a trial? And you would convict and execute their – slaves
. Of course. Enqarian legal code demands it. It is what the Algorithm of Corporatarchy is programmed
for. In truth I'm relieved to have summoned your ship. We were at something of a loss to determine who would be standing for the punishment of the capital crime. The nature of the crime made the process most difficult to enter into the Algorithm.”
Seven stepped closer to the viewer while the Pallaj lasciviously eyed the full cut of her ridged gunmetal skinsuit. “If we had not facilitated this meeting, you would have purposely tried and convicted an innocent party in order to fulfill the demand of your legal code. To appease the law of a society that no longer exists.”
“You have much to learn about rule of law, Outlier. But as Pallaj, it falls to me to ensure justice – every
crime requires finding guilt and committing sentence under Enqarian code. Algorithmic Authority is absolute and punishes all
its criminals. The destruction of the Enqar homeworld system absolutely demands capital punishment. You will send the delegation to us immediately. You will then lead us to the immediate vicinity of the U.S.S. Voyager and assist in its surrender to the Enqar Corporatarchy. That ship and crew may experience the full brunt of Enqarian justice.” Pallaj Rejental leaned into the viewer. “And then, you will divulge the location of this...Federation
. That we may enter it into the Algorithm and officially declare Enqar to be in a state of war against this United Federation of Planets.”
Seven circled the battle bridge and studied the entreating faces of her crew while she considered their situation.
She was not trained for this.
“Pallaj Rejental.” She faced him. “I am not yet prepared to turn the delegation over to you. They have made an official request for our protection. Your jurisprudence, like your culture, exists – not different from, but in direct opposition to Federation principles. I must have time to ascertain correct action. I request that you grant me the time I need in order to assimilate the situation and minimize any potential undiplomatic
“Time?! You are Borg
! What do you care about the fate of living Persons! Do not apply inferior reasoning to an oversized problem.”
“Borg, perhaps.” She had no reply to waste on his rationale. “But of the two of us, I
am not the galaxy's judge, jury nor executioner.”
“Speaking in the first person is an abomination coming from you. Out-lier
Seven turned away and motioned to mute the com.
She orders the helm to prepare for departure.
The billions...and billions...of Borg. Those who survived assimilation, released from accountability. Their Voice obliterating choices, drowning out memory, extinguishing name....
Why should the Enqari matter to her now?
Why – were they different from any other of the galaxy's countless lost?
It was not the Executrix nor this Pallaj, for whom Seven hesitated. But the remainder of the delegation – and the vast majority of Attendants and Adjutants – those subjugated millions, stripped of humanity and hope – whose deaths would pass unvoiced into an abyss of galactic time. But if she could save...just one.... She stopped. She thought of Janeway, and realized that this
, this – was the Admiral's handiwork. Seven noticed her reflection in the dark interface of a wall terminal; her cybernetic eyepiece, her facial implant – she was Borg. Resistance is....
She tapped her communicator.
“Mister Vorik. Belay the transfer. Bring the Enqari to the lounge. Provide them nourishment.”
Commander, are you certain that is not ill-advised –
“Perhaps not. Would it help if I made it a direct order, Mister Vorik?”
That will not be necessary, Commander.
Seven returned to the viewer and signaled for communication to be restored.
“Pallaj Rejental, I require council,” she told him. “Or I shall be compelled to return to Federation space for orders. I will comply with the determinations – of my
superiors at Starfleet Command. If they reject the delegation's plea for asylum, then you may collect your prisoners at your convenience. On Earth. On the far side of the Alpha Quadrant. Just past the Romulan and Klingon Empires. It is difficult to miss. Perseus Secondary out –”
“There is no need to fabricate your origins with such fantastic claims. Our Algorithm will
find your space, no doubt in outlier territory of this
quadrant. Since you've made clear your intentions to evade legal recourse I have little choice but to either grant you the time you request, or engage your...'ship'.” He peered closer. “But know that the only reason I have not yet authorized your destruction is in the hopes of accommodating the Algorithm's demand for a trial; as well as to enlighten the discordant among this vessel, some of whom have had their faith shaken in Algorithmic Authority – a cultural contamination I hold you directly responsible for. Fortunately for you this has so far proven only a minor inconvenience to our well-trained Disciplinary Squad, and of course, the people who have lost their Attendants. Suicided in shame, most of them – after retracting their dissensions of course.”
He leaned in and shook his head. “They always do. Very well. You have one hour, Outlier.”
The screen cut, and Seven considered the Enqarian Dreadnought hanging there – a living anachronism, this relic of a dead civilization, armed from deflectors to exhaust ports.
“I am not certain how to proceed as a Starfleet officer,” Seven told the Enqari delegation, from her position at the head of the briefing room table. “In truth I was only commissioned to fulfill a temporary posting. Now I am left without the guidance of those specially trained to apply Federation policies in complex interplanetary diplomacies such as this one.
“I find that, without the conventional training or experience, I must rely on my judgment and the counsel of my staff. If it is rationalism you value, you would do no better in this galaxy than to study Mister Vorik's Vulcan culture. Be warned, however – for you would learn exactly to what degree true rationalism would challenge your rigid, faulty assumptions. As Borg assimilation, no doubt, had already shown most of your population just prior to their deaths. An experience you have been fortunately spared.
“When I was first cut off from the Borg, I knew fear. The captain of the vessel which saved me – Voyager
– told me something then I will always remember. The choices we face are limited; yet they permit great potentials. If we
rise to them.” Seven faced a diminutive Attendant and spoke directly to her, and then others. “For the first time I can remember in a long time, I am afraid. Afraid that my judgment may be erroneous, but I'm even more afraid if it is the correct one. Yet I have learned that fear – is the proper response when facing the destruction of life. Fear doesn't know the difference between death – or rebirth. It is my own fear which indicates to me what I must
do about you.”
She turned to the Executrix. “It is his request I consider,” she said, indicating the young Tem Ros. “And hers,” indicating an Attendant. “And his, and hers. I leave your fate in their
word – and their
ability to voice it.”
The room hung in silence.
And then, an Attendant turned to her. “I don't want to die,” she said.
Seven stood. “Pending Starfleet Command orders to the contrary, your request for asylum is – granted.”
The entire delegation stood in gratitude.
Seven of Nine moved to leave. “I understand that there are many jobs for Borg specialists in the Federation.” She turned at the door. “In numerous reconstruction zones.”
Vorik entered the bridge. “Commander, the delegation has returned to quarters.” He noted the Dreadnought looming on the viewer. “May I ask what you intend to do once the Enqari commander learns of your decision to grant asylum?”
Seven looked around the bridge. No one spoke.
“Strategic withdrawal,” Vorik suggested.
Ensign Hardesty cut in. “Leave them alone in space. Adrift. A ship without a port. A people without a home.” He turned to Seven. “Sound familiar?”
“Point taken, Ensign.” Seven knew no more needed to be said – to this
“The Federation is not responsible for –”
“We are directly
responsible, Mister Vorik.” Seven returned to her seat panel, but what she was looking for in the databanks, she was uncertain. “I am unwilling to abandon them so easily. Quantum drive will not outrun the truth of what we have done – and what we have failed
She watched the Dreadnought.
“Incoming transmission,” said the com officer.