USS Nautilus, Acting Captain’s Log, Stardate 86956.2
It’s been three days since the Borg attack on the Vega Colony. Repairs have been proceeding well and search and rescue operations in the system are complete. Of the 56 starships that arrived in the system to repel the Borg, only 14 were destroyed. The Borg damaged nearly every ship, however, and boarded most of them, slaughtering many of their officers and crew before they were repelled. No one was assimilated. The cube responsible for this attack has fled and hasn’t been seen since, so the mystery of the Borg’s bizarre behavior remains one for survivors and scientists to puzzle over. As for our own Borg, Tanya is in recovery. I and the EMH were able to successfully remove most of her implants and her condition has stabilized. I wish I had the same good news to report about the morale on the ship. Damaged systems can be repaired. Broken bones can be fixed and broken implants removed. Grief is harder to deal with and the loss of our captain and 58 members of our crew leaves us with a lot to grieve. We may never be the same.
“Computer, end log,” Drel said. She stroked Snaggles the Sehlat cub, which murmured and licked her fingers in response. It was built like a small bear and had six-inch fangs, but it was as tame as a kitten. Drel and the other bridge officers had bought it a couple of years ago for Sokar as a joke, and he had kept it. She wondered if it knew it’s owner was dead.
The door chimed and Drel stood. “Enter,” she said, and the door to Captain Sokar’s quarters opened.
T’Paie entered. “I was told you would be here,” she said.
“Just taking stock of the Captain’s effects, saying some final words…petting Snaggles.”
T’Paie raised an eyebrow. “Curious to see that it has survived while so many others have not.”
Drel nodded. “I’ve experienced death twice in my lifetimes. Perciv’s was peaceful, in old age surrounded by family and friends. Antori’s was violent and…well, you know the details of that.” Her hand brushed the scar on her cheek and Drel remembered the pain Antori had felt as the Klingon mek’leth had ripped through his chest. “Every time, I wake up in a new host, a new life, a new personality.” She looked down. “Sokar didn’t even have a chance to pass on his katra. He’s gone.”
T’Paie blinked. “Perhaps, and perhaps not. There are many things in this universe which surpass even Vulcan science and knowledge. My mate Vorix died 65 years ago in a shuttle accident and never passed on his katra. Nevertheless, I have never believed that his katra was lost or destroyed, simply that it is no longer with us. The same may be true of Antori Drel, your symbiont may not be the only place where his spirit lives on. I believe the same to be true of Captain Sokar.”
“And where do you believe his katra is?” asked Drel.
T’Paie shrugged her shoulders almost imperceptibly. “Our knowledge is finite, while that which may be known is infinite. Logic dictates that there will always be things beyond our knowledge. This may be one of them, although many races claim to have this knowledge. The Bajoran’s believe in the Celestial Temple. The humans believe in Heaven and Hell. The Klingons believe in Sto-Vo-Kor and Gre’thor. The Ferengi believe in the Divine Treasury and the Vault of Eternal Destitution. It is impossible to speculate without the testimony of one who has actually been to any of these places and returned.”
Drel smirked and fought to suppress a laugh. “Sorry, T’Paie, I was just imagining Sokar in the Ferengi afterlife. It was a funny image. Sokar and anything Ferengi is a funny image.”
T’Paie raised an eyebrow. “Sokar found the Ferengi to be highly illogical. However, I fail to see the humor in that. The Ferengi are illogical.”
“If you say so, Lieutenant,” Drel said. “What did you want to see me about?”
T’Paie stepped forward and handed Drel a PADD. “A full report on the status of repairs, Lieutenant,” she said. “The flight pod will require the facilities of a Starbase to repair fully. I have returned the forward torpedo launchers to full operational status, but the aft launcher will remain offline.”
Drel nodded, scanning the information on the PADD briefly.
“There’s also this, Chief Petty Officer Thomas asked that I get it to you.” T’Paie handed her another PADD. T’Paie never used Mercy’s nickname. Sokar hadn’t either. Apparently nicknames were illogical.
Drel saw the Federation seal and the first few lines. “A message from Starfleet Command,” she said, and began reading. “Admiral Quinn wants us to return to Earth Spacedock for full repairs and to pick up replacement personnel.” She paused. “I wonder who they’ll assign as our new captain.”
“It is illogical to speculate,” said T’Paie. “We can only deal with our current situation in the best possible manner. Speaking of which, a growing sehlat cub requires proper care and nourishment, which it will not receive by remaining in Sokar’s quarters. Someone must take it in.”
Carlin eyed the creature dubiously. “I’ve never been one for pets, especially not something like Snaggles here.”
“I will care for…Snaggles, then,” said T’Paie. “I am the logical choice.”
“Thanks,” said Drel.
Just then, her combadge chimed. “Sickbay to Drel,” said the EMH’s voice. “There’s something down here you should see.”
“On my way,” said Drel, tapping her combadge to close the channel. She gave T’Paie an exasperated look and headed out the door.
T’Paie followed. “What do you suppose it is, Drel?” she asked.
“I don’t know. Last time he wanted to brag about the artificial eye he’d made for Tanya, as if he didn’t just copy its schematics from the files on the old Seven of Nine procedures from the databases of Voyager’s EMH,” said Drel. She had gotten so tired of hearing the boyish Mark II rehash the exploits of Voyager’s EMH as if they were his own, instead of the deeds of a previous version of the Emergency Holographic Program who had exceeded and expanded his original programming to become a unique individual. “Why do they have to program them all to be so egocentrical? No wonder Doctor Howard refused to upgrade the thing twice. I’m surprised he didn’t wipe it all together.”
“And yet, if he had, Tanya would no doubt be dead, along with many others,” T’Paie pointed out. “As it is, he has returned all his other patients to their feet and his operations on her seem thusfar successful.”
“I guess that makes the EMH a necessary evil, then.” She frowned. “Get back down to Main Engineering, Lieutenant. I intend to get us under way for Earth as soon as possible.”
“Aye, sir,” said T’Paie, turning on her heel. Drel continued to Sickbay alone.
On arriving in Sickbay, Drel scanned the room for the EMH and found him smiling smugly at her, standing in the doorway to the Doctor’s office. “What is it?” Drel demanded.
“Lieutenant, may I present my finished masterpiece,” said the EMH.
He waved a hand toward the office and a young woman emerged hesitantly. She had dark brown hair gathered into two pig-tails, fair skin, and brown eyes. She wore a long-sleeved, silver dress with a blue sash, a low-cut neck, and a high-cut skirt, showing off most of her legs and stopping just short of exposing any cleavage. If not for the long sleeves, Drel would say the outfit was designed to show off as much of the girl’s unblemished flesh as regulations and common decency would allow. Drel was about to ask the EMH who’d given him the permission and the testosterone to make himself a holographic skank when she noticed something above the girl’s right eye–almost hidden by her bangs. The words died in her throat. It was a Borg implant, shaped like a half crescent with three branching prongs that reached toward her eye. Blue lights blinked on and off on the implant.
“Tanya?” Drel said.
The girl nodded shyly. “Zee medical program removed my implants, most of zem anyvay,” she said. “It vas unable to remove some of my implants.” She touched the implant by her eye and then rolled up one of her sleeves, revealing a spiderweb of metal implants beginning just above her wrist and extending up her arm. She quickly pulled her sleeve back down. “Do you like it?” she asked.
Drel smiled. “You look beautiful,” she assured. “Did you pick that dress yourself?”
Tanya nodded. “Is it appropriate?”
Drel hesitated. She understood now why the former drone had chosen to dress as she did. She didn’t intend to court indecency, merely to show off her newfound humanity. After all, a Borg drone couldn’t show off any skin at all–at least not any skin that didn’t look death-gray. Tanya now could, and doing so was a physical reminder of her independence from the Collective. Drel didn’t want to take that from her. “For most, perhaps not,” she said at last. “But for you, it’s perfect.”
Tanya beamed and rushed toward Drel, catching her in a brief friendly hug before turning back to the EMH. “Zank you,” she said. “Zank you both.”
“Don’t I get a hug?” asked the EMH, looking disappointed.
“Computer, end program,” was Tanya’s response. The EMH vanished and Tanya laughed. “Zee program is very helpful, but sometimes it can be difficult,” she observed.
Drel nodded. “Difficult, but necessary until we get a replacement for Doctor Howard.” She left Sickbay with Tanya in tow. “Starfleet Command has ordered us to return to Earth Spacedock for repairs and to take on new crew. I’d like you to provide relief for Ensign Datri as he pilots us there.”
“I vill vith pleasure, Lieutenant,” said Tanya, smiling. She paused. “Have you been able to locate my family?”
She shook her head. “That was another thing I wanted to talk to you about.” She looked back and forth down the corridor. It was empty. “We ran your genetic profile through the Starfleet medical database, and we couldn’t find any matching records for a 16-year old human female from 2404. The EMH gave up, but I broadened the search and found a perfect match for one Tanya Pierce, age 16, human female, parents Michael Pierce and Arina Mihailova.”
Tanya’s face beamed. “You found my family!”
Drel shook her head again, more forcefully this time. “Tanya Pierce and her parents went missing when the Borg attacked Starbase 236. The Enterprise-E reported the entire Starbase had been destroyed with no sign of its inhabitants or any survivors. They were all presumed assimilated.”
Tanya’s face fell. “Zen my parents are vith zee Collective.”
“I believe so, I’m sorry. There’s one thing more though, that I don’t understand,” she stopped and turned to face the girl. “According to Starfleet records, Tanya Pierce was assimilated around stardate 85813, in 2408–only one year ago. You’re genetically identical to her records and you bear the same name and the same memories, so you seem to be the same person, but you are 4 years older than you should be. Do you have any idea why?”
Tanya’s face became unreadable and she fell silent.
“You knew, then, didn’t you,” Drel said.
Tanya nodded once.
“Why didn’t you tell us?”
“Starfleet regulations require zee upholding of zee Temporal Prime Directive,” said Tanya.
Drel examined the girl. “You’re from the future,” she said. “The Borg who attacked the Vega Colony–”
“Are native to this time,” Tanya insisted.
“But you’re not. The other drones with implants like yours, they weren’t either. That’s why they had to use verbal communication and why your neural transceiver had a temporal phase variation. You weren’t connected to the present Collective at all, you were connected to a Collective four years in the future.”
Tanya shifted uncomfortably.
“And what did they travel back in time for?” Drel demanded.
“Temporal Prime–,” began Tanya.
Drel glared at her. “The Temporal Prime Directive doesn’t apply if the Borg have already altered the timeline by coming here.” She raised her hands. “If the Borg hadn’t come back here, none of this would have happened. Sokar would still be alive, along with the rest of the officers and crew. 14 starships would still be intact and dozens more would be undamaged and without casualties.”
“Alternatively, all of zee colonists in zee Vega System would have been and assimilated and any starship responding to zeir distress call would have been destroyed with all hands aboard,” Tanya said flatly. “Zee Borg of zis timeline were already intent upon attacking zee Vega Colony. Zee Borg of zee future merely convinced zem to alter zeir methods.”
“To what end?” Drel demanded. “They left the colonists alone and the ships intact and just slaughtered officers at random and jammed sensors like mad…” She let her voice trail off. “It was a diversion,” she said suddenly. “The Borg attack on the Vega Colonies was altered to create chaos and confusion while the Borg from the future did something entirely different.”
“Temporal Prime Directive,” Tanya warned. “You have surmised much–perhaps too much–but you must not reveal it to anyone. Zee Borg failed in both zeir attacks, or you and I would not be standing here having zis conversation. I would still be a drone, and likely you would be dead or assimilated as well. Zat is all you need to know. To tell you anything more could result in damaging zee timeline. You might prevent zee Borg from coming back–in which case, zee attack on zee Vega Colonies would be carried out as efficiently as possible and zee would be assimilated–or you might avert the disaster zat met the Borg from zee future–which would result in much more dire consequences.”
Drel nodded soberly. “I’ll keep this between us. As far as I’m concerned, your records couldn’t be found and you’re just an unlucky girl named Tanya assimilated around stardate 81800, in 2404, and freed by a malfunction of your neural transceiver on stardate 86947, three days ago. There may be questions, though, if anyone tries to look up your genetic records again or examines your implants too closely.”
“Then I will continue my asylum here on Nautilus, where such questions are unnecessary,” said Tanya. “This should minimize my impact on the timeline.”
“I’ll make the arrangements with Starfleet,” said Drel. She could only hope that, whoever the new Captain was, he or she would choose to honor the agreement as well. Carlin brushed a strand of her hair back with one hand and turned down the corridor. “Come on, then, Tanya,” she said. “We’re not getting any closer to Earth standing here.”
Tanya smiled and followed. “Affirmitive.”