Prologue: "Turn The Page."
U.S.S. Enterprise-D, Stardate 43994.5 , Paulson Nebula
The senior officers of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D
all sat around the table in the observation lounge, staring intently at a viewscreen depicting their recent encounter with the single Borg cube that had invaded Federation space.
“Time index five-one-four... Data started to fluctuate phaser resonance frequencies... the Borg's beam breaks contact...Freeze picture.” Lieutenant Commander Shelby, assigned to the Enterprise
from Starfleet Tactical when the Borg made their appearance in Federation territory, briefly paused her analysis.
She glanced at the ranking officer in the room, First Officer William Riker. Shelby had requested that Captain Jean-Luc Picard attend the meeting, but he had deferred to Riker. This disappointed Shelby, who found Riker to be...less than decisive.
“Take a close look, Commander...Mister La Forge?”
The chief engineer of the Enterprise
straightened in his chair. The viewscreen replayed the same time index, only slower. The Borg vessel‘s energy output appeared to wobble slightly. “There's a two percent power drop, just for an instant. But it's system-wide. The phaser frequency spread was in a high narrow band.”
“Conceivably, the ship's power distribution nodes are vulnerable to those frequencies,” said operations officer Lt. Commander Data.
La Forge nodded. “If we can generate a concentrated burst of energy with that same frequency distribution... I mean a lot more than anything our phasers or photon torpedos could provide.”
“How do we do that?” Riker interjected.
“The main deflector dish,” replied Ensign Wesley Crusher, resident ship’s genius and wunderkind.
“It's the only component of the Enterprise
designed to channel that much power at controlled frequencies,” explained La Forge.
Shelby frowned and said, “Unfortunately, there is one slight detail -- in the process, the blast completely destroys the Enterprise
Riker thought about this for a moment. “But if we could get far enough away... increase the deflector range...”
Shelby nodded. “It could work. In the meantime, we should retune all phasers, including hand units, to the same frequency.”
Riker got up. “Proceed. I’ll inform the captain.”
Shelby then suggested separating the saucer section for its strategic value, namely to provide another moving target for the Borg. Riker demurred, as did Captain Picard when Shelby independently brought up her plan to him. The plan to modify the deflector dish went ahead as discussed.
U.S.S. Enterprise-D, Stardate 43998.5, several light years from the Wolf 359 system
It had been a rough day.
, forced out of the nebula by the Borg vessel's attacks, had been boarded by drones from the invading vessel. Inexplicably, the drones were able to capture Captain Picard and transport him back to the Borg vessel. With Picard on board, the cube warped off towards Sector 001 with the Enterprise
in hot pursuit.
Catching up to the Borg cube, an away team had beamed aboard to retrieve the captain and hopefully slow the cube down so the Enterprise
could deploy its new weapon. While they were able to do enough damage to force the Borg ship out of warp, Captain Picard was a different story. To their horror, they found he had been...changed.
Commander William Riker stood on the bridge of the Enterprise
, anxiously awaiting word from the away team. As the Borg ship dropped out of warp, Shelby urgently requested a beam-out.
“Go to impulse,” Riker ordered. The away team completed their transport back to the Enterprise
Riker continued, “Move us to within forty thousand kilometers, match velocity. Commence arming sequence...Increase deflector modulation to upper frequency band.”
The away team entered the bridge from the turbolift. Riker asked after the captain and Data responded, “Sir, Captain Picard has been altered by the Borg. We were unable to retrieve him.”
At the tactical station, Lieutenant Worf growled, “He IS a Borg, sir.”
As Riker absorbed this news, Shelby said, “We’ll go back. I need more people. We need to retune the phasers.” She looked at Riker almost desperately. “We’ll get him out of there.”
From the aft engineering station, La Forge called out, “Commander, reading subspace fluctuations within the Borg ship. Looks like they’re regenerating, restoring power. They could be capable of warp any minute.”
Riker blinked. “Is the deflector ready?”
Geordi looked up and hesitated briefly before affirming, “Ready, sir.”
Chief Medical Officer Beverly Crusher, a member of the away team, moved closer to Riker. “Will, he’s alive. If we get him back, I might be able to restore--” Crusher looked down at the floor.
Deeply conflicted between his duty to the Federation and his loyalty to Picard, Riker replied, “This is our only chance to destroy them. If they get back into warp, our weapon becomes useless.”
“We’ll go back,” Shelby repeated. “We’ll sabotage them again if we have to.”
Riker shook his head. “We can’t maintain pursuit. We don’t have the power.” Riker wished with all his might that he did not have to do what he knew must be done. “Prepare to fire,” he ordered.
“At least consult with Starfleet Command!” Shelby objected angrily. She looked over at Lt. Worf. “Get Admiral Hanson on subspace.”
“Belay that order, Lieutenant,” Riker barked. “There’s no time.”
At Tactical, Worf saw an incoming signal. “Sir,” he called out to Riker, “we are being hailed by the Borg.”
That was unexpected. Riker replied, “On screen.”
The alien, yet somehow familiar long, dark metallic corridor of the Borg vessel’s interior appeared on the viewscreen. Riker waited for the cold, impersonal voice of the Borg vessel to speak, but then...
But it wasn’t Picard, it was Picard-as-Borg, Picard as grotesquerie. Riker was deeply horrified at what he saw.
And then it spoke.
“I am Locutus of Borg,” Picard-Borg said, in a voice that was clearly his own but tinged with whatever made the Borg so...Borg. “Resistance is futile. Your life as it has been is over. From this time forward, you will service...us.”
Riker stared at the screen, years of memories flooding into his mind’s eye. There was nothing he could do. His heart beat in his chest like a drum.
“Mr. Worf,” Riker said in a level tone, still staring at the monster on the screen, “...Fire.”
At forty thousand kilometers, the blast from the Enterprise
’s deflector dish would have impacted the Borg cube without creating a feedback loop, which would have destroyed the Starfleet vessel. Of course, as Picard had been notified of the plan to weaponize the deflector dish before his capture, it was an unnecessary show of force. Having adapted in advance, The Borg vessel would shrug off the attack and leave the Enterprise
damaged and drifting, with the crew struggling to repair the vessel enough to get back in the battle.
But somehow, a mistake was made. Consider the pressure aboard the bridge as the countdown to fire the new weapon began. The captain was gone, the enemy was powerful and implacable, and the terror was raw and palpable.
Somehow, a mistake was made.
When Riker gave his fateful order to fire, the Enterprise
was less than thirty-five thousand kilometers away from the Borg cube. Not much of a difference, but enough. As Locutus of Borg watched the blast harmlessly strike the Borg cube, a feedback event was created and the power buildup in the Enterprise’
s deflector dish grew recklessly out of control. There was no time to compensate, no time to separate the saucer or quickly abandon ship. As Locutus of Borg watched, the U.S.S. Enterprise-D
exploded into a shower of plasma particles, a glory of light and energy.
Locutus stared ahead passively Picard screamed
and transmitted an order to the rest of the collective: Proceed to fleet rendezvous at Wolf 359, and then on to Sol System.
The Borg vessel warped away, the remains of the Enterprise-D
and its crew still floating harmlessly through space.
The Borg cube was eventually destroyed, of course. The United Federation of Planets was not, after all, what one would call a small interstellar civilization. Even the incredible might of a single Borg vessel was insignificant next to the overall strength the Federation could eventually bring to bear.
But even in victory, the losses were staggering: over a billion dead or irretrievably assimilated on Earth and in near-earth space, over two hundred starships and supply vessels from all over the Federation lost...and then of course there were the thirty nine starships destroyed at the Battle of Wolf 359...not to mention the U.S.S. Lalo
, the New Providence colony, and of course the Enterprise-D
It had taken three and a half months to finally destroy the cube. The Federation Fifth and Eighth Fleets had entered Sol system on Stardate 44303.2 and engaged the Borg vessel above the skies of Earth. Below, on the surface, swarms of Borg roamed the planet almost at will. The invaders were tasked with the mission of integrating the human race into the Borg Collective. With their orbital defenses destroyed and most ground forces neutralized, the overall populace of Earth was almost completely cowed. The assimilation process met next to no organized resistance anywhere on the planet besides San Francisco, where Starfleet Academy was located. The city was destroyed.
The battle in space lasted nearly three days. All attempts to defeat the Borg with conventional strategy failed. As the battle entered its final phase, it appeared as if the Borg would win another decisive victory as Federation losses continued to mount. Finally, the Vulcan captain of a severely damaged Galaxy-class starship made the logical choice and rammed the Borg cube just as the warp core was set to explode. Three other smaller ships facing imminent destruction followed suit, and that was the end. The Borg cube lost any significant ability to regenerate and the Federation armada let loose devastating volleys of phaser and photon torpedo fire. Within minutes, the cube was nothing more than a spectacular meteor shower in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The clean-up on Earth proved easier, but much more tragic. Starfleet Marines from other, less utopian worlds led the charge to beat back the Borg ground invasion. Here, numbers and simple physics proved decisive. The Borg were severely outnumbered and, even with their ability to adapt to weaponry, unable to cope with the kinetic energy of the firepower unleashed upon them by the vengeful Starfleet military forces. Sadly, considering the Borg could or would not surrender, many of the recently assimilated humans--now also Borg foot soldiers--ended up as unwilling casualties of the short, vicious war.
The Borg drones Starfleet was able to capture proved impervious to de-assimilation. With enough physical intervention, the drones would subconsciously activate a self-destruct sequence that killed enough personnel to warrant a quick change in policy. Following cessation of hostilities, the remaining Borg that had been neutralized were simply destroyed. The risk of keeping them alive was too great, the sacrifices already made too many.
There was one exception.