Janeway nervously made her way down to sickbay. The Doctor had called her there to explain an idea he had come up with for dealing with the Borg on the surface, and had insisted that she come now. It was against her better judgment, considering the fact that there were still several Borg cubes locked in battle with the Khamish fleet, and her own ship. More than once she was tossed into a wall as Voyager took a hit, and every time she almost turned right around and headed back to the bridge.
“Chakotay can handle this,” she told herself time and time again.
She passed by a security team, phaser rifles shouldered, that was in search of any Borg that the ship’s internal sensors missed. Janeway was not worried about any more intruders, however. It had been a good half an hour since the last of the Borg invaders was killed, the only one left alive was in a quarantine field in sickbay, under sedation. That Borg had managed to emit a field that was disrupting transport, and Janeway guessed that it was to have several of its implants removed so that it could be dealt with later. In his summons, the Doctor could not help adding a complaint about the four security men that were stationed inside of sickbay, in case something were to go wrong.
Janeway was momentarily startled by the three Doctors that were inside of the security field. She had totally forgotten for a time about the problem with the Doctor’s program, something that would be considered quite major under ordinary circumstances.
She scanned the room for the Doctor with the holoemitter, and found him working with one of the duplicated examining something at one of the micro-surgery tables.
“I don’t see how you hope to accomplish that,” the duplicate criticized. “They must have some sort of viral scanner that would reject any such invasive program.”
“Haven’t you been paying attention to a word I’ve been saying?” the Doctor replied. “We have enough information from Tuvok’s download and what we have gathered from our ‘guest,’ as well as input from Seven of Nine to mask the invasive program so that it will see it as a simple function command from the Collective.” The ship shuddered, but neither of the Doctors took any notice.
“Excuse me Doctor,” Janeway interrupted, her voice betraying extreme annoyance. “What is so important that I had to come down here? As you can plainly tell, Voyager is potentially moments away from being torn to shreds.”
“Captain, I believe I have a way to eliminate the Borg that are now inhabiting the surface of the planet,” the Doctor explained.
“Doctor, we have a strike team on the surface now,” Janeway impatiently replied. “With any luck, the Borg there will not be a problem.”
“Quite honestly, I can’t see how a small strike team could do anything to effectively eliminate the Borg on the surface,” the Doctor replied, almost too confidently. “On Bint’Ari, the Borg barely had enough time to establish a primary planet-bound Collective transceiver. I have analyzed the data from Tuvok’s download, and it indicates that there are three thousand, one hundred twelve such units on the surface of this fully assimilated planet, where only one or two is required. The extra redundancy is a defense mechanism, in case an enemy attempts what the strike team is now.”
“Seven mentioned that there could be thousands, but I did not actually believe the number would be so high,” Janeway commented. “Why is it that the engineering teams working on this data did not come across an exact number sooner?”
“I have incorporated the entire download into an analytic recall subroutine. To put it in terms you might understand, I can remember every bit of the data from that download. I am certain that the engineering team has not even run across this bit of information yet. It is buried rather deeply in a minor subroutine, not intended for frequent access.”
Janeway sighed. “Alright, what is your idea?”
“It’s not going to work,” the duplicate whined. “I think this situation has caused you to develop quite an infallibility complex. Just because you have that damned holoemiter, you think you can’t be wrong!”
“You have developed a negative tinge to your personality that is extremely annoying,” the Doctor replied. “You have access to the same data that I do, I can’t see how you don’t agree with a word I say.”
“Doctors,” Janeway interrupted. “Now is not the time for this. Your idea, please?”
“Well,” the Doctor began, “I have analyzed the data from the treatment I used to revive Ensign Kim after his run in with Species 8472. I believe the nanoprobes could be modified in a similar manner to introduce an invasive virus into the planetary collective, similar to the paradox virus Lt. Commander Data developed on Stardate 45855. I believe that the modified nanoprobes can be used to infect a branch of the collective with this invasive program that will corrupt most of its major command routines. When the branch tries to up-link with the rest of the collective, the virus will be discovered, and the collective will deem the entire branch defective, thereby disconnecting itself from it to prevent further spread of the virus. Once disconnected, the branch should initiate a self-destruct sequence.”
“What if they don’t?” Janeway asked.
“They will be useless shells anyway,” the Doctor replied. “Without any commands from the collective, the individual Borg soldiers will do nothing, not even defend themselves. It would then be a simple matter of getting rid of the comatose Borg, something that our presence would not be required for the Khamish to complete.”
“Sounds like an interesting plan,” Janeway decided. “But how do you expect to get these nanoprobes onto the planet, and into a position where they can implant this virus?”
“My first thought was that the nanoprobes could be restored to their original programming, and used to assimilate someone. That person would then be transported to the surface, where they would interface with the Borg, and spread the virus.”
“Entirely unacceptable,” Janeway replied sternly. “I will not condemn anyone to assimilation.”
“I thought that would be your reaction,” The Doctor replied. “My second thought was to use the nanoprobes on our ‘guest,’ and have him beamed down to the surface.”
“But he is already Borg, how would the nanoprobes be of any use there?”
“By removing as many of the internal components as we can from the Borg’s skull, we can trick the nanoprobes into believing that it is, in fact, not a Borg. They will begin the assimilation process as they normally would, only adding our virus to the Borg’s basic program.”
“That would take hours, Doctor,” Janeway said. “I do not see how any of it can be accomplished in time.”
“We began the removal of the circuit pathways over an hour ago, in our attempts to retrieve more data about our ‘guest.’ The other duplicates are working on it as we speak. They will have completed the procedure in less than an hour.”
Janeway stood in a stunned silence for a couple of moments. Could it actually work?
“Are you certain that it will work?” She finally asked.
“Unless the Borg have drastically changed their primary command pathways in the last twenty-four hours, I can’t see how it would fail,” The Doctor replied. His duplicate remained mercifully silent.
“Let me know when you are ready to implant the nanoprobes,” Janeway ordered, as she snapped towards the exit. She found it ironic that The Doctor was the one who came up with a weapon of mass destruction to be used against Species 8472, and again one to be used against the Borg. She always had the notion that doctors were supposed to keep people alive, not find ways to kill them.
With an upward sweep of his Aria, Oro took of the arm of yet another Borg that had come to confront him. Would it never end? They had already destroyed four sites that had the makings of a central transceiver system, the destruction of each had only bought the small band a couple of moments of rest while the Borg regrouped.
Oro dodged a blow from the Borg’s mechanical arm, and lopped off his attacker’s head with a graceful arc of his blade. The head soared through the air, and momentarily eclipsed the distant swarm of Khamish fighters that were attacking the surface. Oro returned his gaze to the area around him, so that a Borg soldier would not take him by surprise. For the moment, there were none to be seen.
Oro could not understand why they were continuing with this foolish errand. It was plain to him that the only way that they would defeat the overwhelming hordes of Borg on this world would be through a full scale invasion, something that this fleet was not equipped for. The Borg were too smart to be defeated by a single all-or-nothing attack.
The truth of it was all around him. Everything on this world exuded a sameness that was disturbing. Nothing had any sort of purely decorative value. Every single building was the same, excepting the size, no doubt each building was precisely the right size for the function that it was intended to perform. Each building had an open doorway at ground level. Clearly there was no need for closed doors, something that only privacy demanded. In a society where every member knew the thoughts of each other, privacy was irrelevant. There were no windows, anywhere. Windows only served to view the surrounding area, and that also served no useful purpose for a society that cared nothing for appearances.
Even the roads had a frightening sameness about them. Where a building ended, a road began. No sidewalks, no grass patches, trees, or flower beds. Each of the roads was identical in width, and they were all remarkable well maintained and free from any sort of litter or debris. There was an elevated platform above the precise center of each of the roads, where a sort of train would pass over on occasion. Oro could not see the contents of the vehicle, for they, also, had no windows.
Grey was the only word that Oro could think of to describe this place. No other word fit. The voice of his beloved Jaskin in his mind did what it could to ease his discomfort, but she was as disturbed be the scene as he was. This planet could have been Bint’Ari, if things had gone differently, and that frightened Oro more than anything.
Oro noticed out of the corner of his eye a Borg soldier steadily making its way towards him. Oro raised his sword to strike. The Borg showed no emotion, no fear or anger, only a blank determination. The Borg always had that look. You could kill them or they could kill you, and there look would never change. Oro found himself smiling, because he could smile, and his enemy could not. He roared in anger and charged towards the Borg, and quickly slew him. Then he roared in victory. The Borg wanted to take this away from his people. This thrill of survival. The emotion of being alive. A nearby explosion only served to amplify his voice. Oro thought that they might not take this world today, but he knew then that the Borg would never take from him what made him alive. And he rejoiced in that feeling.
Oro lowered his gaze towards the explosion, and saw B’Elanna and a Khamish soldier running towards him. When they arrived, he did not ask what had happened to Usu, the young Bint’Ari that was the fourth in this landing party. There was no doubt that he had not survived.
“Torres to Heston, three to beam up.”
Torres did not waste any time once the party was beamed up. She rushed to the front of the shuttle to find out if their last attack had any effect. The result was obvious by her reaction.
“What is it going to take?” she roared, slamming her fist onto the console. “We have used all of our torpedoes, and we only have enough explosives left for one more attack.”
“I believe that one more attack will make no more difference. Our mission is a failure. We must return to Voyager and investigate other options,” Tuvok suggested.
“Here, here,” Oro added from the back of the shuttle. B’Elanna shot him a vicious glare.
“So you two are suggesting that we give up now? What else could we possibly do? If we just tuck our tails and run whimpering back to Voyager, the Borg will recover. And if that happens, I doubt that we will have a home left to go back to.”
“Lieutenant, logic suggests that we have no chance of success in our present course of action. The Hesoid has already been destroyed, as well as one of the Khamish transports. The odds of us achieving victory over the Borg on this planet without returning to Voyager are approximately four point six trillion to one. Simply put, if we remain here, we will not survive.”
“If there is a Voyager left,” Torres moaned as she flopped into a chair. “You saw what it was like up there before we came down. There is a good chance that the Borg already destroyed Voyager.”
Tuvok chose not to respond to that comment, but took it as a sign of resignation. Oro, who had fallen asleep in his chair, no doubt exhausted after the last several strikes, made no remark. Tuvok signaled the other ships in the group, and they made their way back up into orbit of the planet.
Paris was off in a place that few pilots ever went. He had been at the helm for hours now, constantly moving, trying to stay away from the Borg tractor beam, as well as dodging the thousands of fighters that were swarming through the entire area. He could remember at least three times an ensign asking if he needed to be relieved, hoping that they didn’t break his concentration. Paris did not even answer. He couldn’t spare the energy to give an obvious answer. There was no way that he was going to turn over the helm to anyone else right now.
Paris was having the time of his life. Voyager had been designed for the demands of travel through the badlands, a ship for hunting Maquis. But out in the Delta Quadrant, Paris never got to indulge in the ships full capabilities. They were always flying straight. But now Paris was pushing Voyager to its limits, and enjoying every minute of it. The fact that a single mistake could lead to the destruction of Voyager only made things more exhilarating.
Paris adjusted the navigational deflectors to their full strength, and barreled the ship through the debris of what was a Borg Destroyer, towards one of the final two Attack cubes. Chakotay had not wasted a second after they had destroyed the smaller Borg ship that had attacked them in ordering Paris towards the bigger threat. They all knew that no matter how a battle was going that if you gave a Borg ship any time to recover that it would repair itself, and become much harder to fight the second time around.
“Come to a stop within weapons range of the cube, Mr. Paris,” Chakotay ordered. He had long given up expecting a response from the helm officer, He recognized that Paris wouldn’t say anything long ago, and it was pointless trying to force one out of him. The orders he gave were being followed, and that was all that was important.
Janeway chose that moment to come onto the bridge. She looked as tired as the rest of the crew did, but she still had that familiar air of command about her. Chakotay relinquished the command chair to her, which she immediately filled.
“Status,” she requested.
“Two Attack cubes and two Scout vessels remaining, Captain,” Kim replied wearily. “No incoming ships on long range scanners.”
“Excellent,” Janeway replied. Noticing the Cube that was rapidly filling up the front view-screen, she though to ask,” How long until we come into weapon’s range?”
“One minute, thirty seconds,” Paris replied from the front, shocking half of the people on the bridge. That was the first thing Paris had said in well over an hour.”
“Captain, we are receiving a message from Tuvok,” Kim reported. “They have just came out of the planet’s sensor-distortion field. They are requesting a rendezvous.”
“Mr. Paris, take us back to the planet, and quickly. We don’t need the Borg to see that they are there unprotected.”
“One of the cubes is breaking away from the battle and heading this way, Captain. They are heading straight for us,” Kim said.
“Damn,” Janeway mumbled. “How long until they come into weapon’s range?”
“Thirty seconds,” Kim replied.
Janeway sighed. “What about the Khamish fighters?”
“There are none in range.”
“Mr. Paris, see if you can go any faster,” Janeway ordered.
“Sickbay to the bridge,” The Doctors voice called over the intercom. “Captain, We are ready to implant the nanoprobes into the Borg soldier.”
“Nanoprobes?” Chakotay asked, with a confused look on his face.
Janeway shook her head. Was nothing simple anymore?
“Standby, Doctor,” she replied. “Mr. Kim, open a channel to the Heston. Inform Tuvok that we are going to be transporting a Borg soldier over to them, and that they are to get him to the surface as quickly as possible. Then they are to return to orbit.”
Kim’s mouth dropped, but he manages to reply with an “Aye Captain,” before she could reprimand him.
“Captain to sickbay, Doctor, implant the nanoprobes and prepare to have the Borg transported out of sickbay in thirty seconds,” Janeway ordered.
“But Captain,” The Doctor complained, “How-”
“That will be all, Doctor,” Janeway interrupted, closing the channel.
“Captain, the shuttles are entering transporter range,” Kim reported.
“Transport the Borg soldier onto the Heston. As soon as it has gotten underway, extend our shields around the other shuttle and the Bint’Ari ships.”
The entire crew was surprised at how quickly things happened from that point. A couple of seconds after Janeway gave the order, the Heston turned around and headed back towards the planet. Barely a second in time, Voyager’s shields went back up around both Voyager and the rest of the landing party. As soon as that happened, the cube came into range and pummeled the shields with a spread of torpedoes. The three ships within Voyager’s shields hurried towards the shuttlebay doors, as Voyager turned to face the Borg menace.
Star Trek, Voyager, and related properties are © Paramount Studio, and the author makes no claim towards them.