Captain's Log Stardate 50614.2
Investigation of the inactive Borg cube has yielded little, so far, in the way of explanation. Who ever or whatever destroyed it remains a mystery. The doctor and Lieutenant Torres are conducting an autopsy of a particularly well-preserved Borg, with assistance from Seven of Nine. I have decided to rendezvous early with the Commander's shuttle and instructed Mr. Paris to lay in a course for that location. There is something very unsettling about the Borg leaving their technology a drift in space, for anyone to find.....
"Tuvok to Janeway" He interrupted her log.
"End log--Janeway here, What is it, Mr. Tuvok?"
“Captain, we are receiving an automated message from the Commander. He deployed a message buoy to inform us that he has put down on the planet's surface in answer to a distress call."
"Have Mr. Paris put us in orbit. On my way."
The Captain recycled her coffee cup and exited to the bridge. She approached Tuvok at the tactical station.
"Can you locate the shuttle?" She leaned on the edge of his console.
“There is no sign of it anywhere on the planet's surface." Tuvok responded in his level Vulcan manner.
"What about their comm. badges?" She turned to ask Harry and crossed over to him.
"I'm picking up one signal---in a heavily populated area---signal's very weak."
"Voyager to Commander Chakotay. Commander, do you read me?" She walked to the center of the bridge. "Ensign Kaplan, this is Captain Janeway. Come in."
"Electro dynamic turbulence from the
nebula is interfering with the transmission." Harry looked up and shook
his head. "It's gonna take me a while to clear it up."
The Captain turned and shared a worried look with her chief of security, before taking a seat in her command chair. His message did say he set down to answer a distress call; not that he crashed. It seemed odd they couldn't detect the shuttle. She decided to wait a short while for communications to clear up. If that didn't happen soon, she would send a security team.
"Captain, we are receiving a transmission from the surface. Audio only."
“Let's hear it, Mr. Kim."
"Commander Chakotay to the Starship Voyager." There was still static, but the voice was clearly that of the Commander.
"Voyager here Commander, your signal is broken. Are you alright?"
"Yes Captain, but Kaplan and the shuttle are not."
"Are you ready to beam up?" She had no intention of discussing his last statement over an open comm. link.
"Yes, Captain and..." He looked to Riley for conformation. "I'll be bring someone with me."
"Aye Commander, I'll meet with you in my ready room. Janeway out." She cut the link and turned to Tuvok.
"Take a security team and meet our guest in transporter room two, make him comfortable and send the Commander to my ready room. I'll contact you after I meet with him. Mr. Paris you have the bridge."
The Captain paced in front of the view port. No request for medical beam out, meant Kaplan was dead. The shuttle was a mystery? The guest, now that was an interesting question. She wasn't sure why but she had a bad feeling about this guest. She replicated coffee and returned to the view port. The door chimed.
"Come." She turned to face him, anxious to see his condition, anxious to hold him.
"Captain." He stepped in and allowed the door to close behind him.
"Chakotay, you're hurt." She crossed over and examined the wound on his head. "What happened?"
"Long story." He shifted slightly away from her. "We answered a distress call. It was a federation signal...."
"Federation?" She moved back, sitting on the couch and motioning him to join her.
"Yes, at first Kaplan thought it was Voyager, but it wasn't." He sat beside her. "We deployed the message buoy and landed in answer to the call, but as soon, as we left the shuttle, we were attacked. Kaplan was killed and I was seriously injured. The shuttle has apparently been stripped for parts, at least that's what Riley believes."
"Dr. Frazier. She's the representative I brought with me." He shifted uncomfortably. "She is one of the leaders..."
"Are you alright---should you go to sickbay?" She was worried about his obvious discomfort.
"No, I'm fine..."
"Who attacked you. Why?"
"There are around 80,000 people on that
planet,. They are divided into clear groups, all ex borg. Assimilated
at different times in different areas of space. Riley is human, she
was a science officer on board the Roosevelt, assimilated at Wolf
359. Some of them have formed a cooperative and tried to make the
best of their situation. Others are hostile and war like. When they
were disconnected from the collective and found themselves individuals,
they resorted to old familiar behaviors and habits. Groups began
to form and soon the fighting
started. The planet doesn't have much to offer, so they fought over what little resources were available."
"So these hostile forces attacked you, without provocation and stripped the shuttle for parts and supplies?"
"Yes, basically, but some members of the cooperative saved me and healed me..." He looked away.
"Healed you how?" If resources are limited, how is it they have such extensive medical capabilities?"
"They are still linked? They linked you to them?" She was alarmed by this idea.
"No, but they do have the ability to set up a link, a small, limited, temporary link and focus their regenerative powers toward whom ever needs them. They did this for me. There was no other choice. I couldn't reach you and I would have died, so I gave them the OK."
"I see." She watched him, wondering if it was the link that caused his nervousness. "Perhaps we should have the doctor take a look at you."
"Chakotay." She reached up toward the wound on his head and he jerked away. "Please see the doctor..."
"I'm alright." He snapped back, then stopped and smiled. "Really, I'm alright. I'd like you to talk to Riley."
"Yes, I will." She didn't like his reaction. "What is it she wants us to do?"
"I think it best if she explains her plan. It's a bit unconventional and hard for most people to grasp, please try to keep an open mind."
"This is important to you.." *Too important, she thought* "Does this 'plan' make sense to you? Do you understand it?"
"Yes, I think I do, but please hear her out before we discuss this."
"All right, if you're sure your up to it?" He nodded. "Janeway to Tuvok"
"Mr. Tuvok, I will be meeting with Dr. Frazier in the briefing room, please escort her there."
"On our way, Captain. Tuvok out."
He watched her, she was overly cautious. He found it strange that they would meet in the briefing room. Why not just have her meet them here? He didn't think Kathryn was going to be very open to this idea.
"Shall we?" She stood and started for the door, stopping to let him leave first.
They waited silently in the briefing room, the Captain stared out the viewport with her back to him. The door opened and Tuvok showed Riley in.
"Thank you, Mr. Tuvok." She said in way of dismissal. "Dr. Frazier, please have a seat." She turned to face them only after the door closed again.
"Dr. Frazier, welcome to Voyager." She smiled as she studied the woman seated before her.
Riley Frazier was an attractive blonde, about her own age. A former science officer aboard a starship, who seemed to have lost none of her self-confidence in her dealings with the borg. She sat quietly, but comfortably at the table, smiling and looked up when the Captain addressed her.
"Captain Janeway, thank you for seeing me."
"You already know my first officer." Kathryn didn't miss the look that passed between them, as they both nodded in acknowledgment. "So Doctor, the Commander has informed me you wish our assistance, he has, however left it up to you to explain."
"Captain, we are in a difficult situation
here, as I'm sure you are aware. Our request may
seem, unconventional, but please, I would appreciate your hearing me out."
“I’ll do my best to keep an open mind." She glanced from Riley to Chakotay.
"We are a very diverse group of about 80,000. Having been assimilated at different times, in different sectors and in some cases, even different quadrants, we have many, many races some of whom were raised in violence, taught to hate one another almost from birth. When we were disconnected from the collective, we began to regain our memories, our individuality and some of us regained that old hatred and violence. Others joined together and formed a cooperative to try to make the best of our situation. I am here as part of the latter group, but it is difficult, resources are scarce and tensions run high on the planet."
"Am I to understand you want to remain on this planet?" She saw Riley glance at Chakotay, before answering.
"Yes, this is our home now, we don't want to give up. We want to make it work." She made only the slightest hesitation, then looked straight into the Captain's eyes. "Captain, we are requesting you assistance in reconnecting our communal link. When we were borg, we thought as one common unit-no fighting-no death and destruction--one common unit with common goals. We want to regain that unity."
"Are you asking me to reactivate the cube so that you may all be linked again?" Janeway wasn't sure she believed they would really want this.
"Yes, Captain, I am. There are many good qualities to that life, we want to regain the peace and harmony. You would only need to reactivate it for a few moments and we would only be linking those on the planet. We would not relink to the collective."
The Captain, turned back to the view port. This was a dangerous idea in her estimation and one she wasn't sure she could help Doctor Frazier force on the rest of the population. She tried to concentrate on the situation, but became distracted by the reflection of Riley in the view port. She didn't seem to be concerned with the Captain's answer, almost as if she knew she would be refused. Her interest in Commander Chakotay was however, unsettling. There was a connection here and Kathryn didn't believe it was entirely due to the borg link. She turned back to face them.
"Dr. Frazier, we will certainly assist you with any technology and medical supplies we can spare and if anyone would like to come with us, we will take as many as we can accommodate, but I have serious reservations about reactivating the link."
"I see." Riley accepted the news calmly.
"I do wish to be fair, however and so I will consider your plan further. I will let you know what I decide."
With that she clearly ended the meeting, she turned back to the view port and Chakotay stood and escorted Riley to the door.
"Captain?" Chakotay came up behind her, once they were alone.
"What do you think of this idea, Commander?" She kept her back to him.
"It's unusual, possibly dangerous, but I know Riley is sincere, this is not an effort to gain control, just peace."
"How is it Commander, you are so sure Riley is sincere?" The emphasis on Riley's name was evident.
"When we were linked, I knew her thoughts, all of their thoughts, I understood what they wanted and even saw the good that could come of it. The link is an amazing experience."
"Yes, I imagine it is, but do we have the right to subject them to this against their will?"
"They don't want to be like the collective. They just want to form a cooperative, to achieve common goals and peace."
"Noble, but how long will these noble ideals remain in tact in the face of such absolute power?"
"I can't answer that and I understand your point. I just have to emphasize that Riley..."
"Riley what?" She turned from the view port. "Just what kind of connection do you and Riley share?" She caught him off guard with this change in tactic. "Tell me Chakotay, how close is this connection you share?"
"This isn't about me -or Riley..."
"You are absolutely correct, Commander." She cut him off "This is about the lives of 80,000 people and we do not have the right to help impose the will of a few--no matter how well intended --on the entire group. We will not help reactivate the cube." She stared at him, then turned back to the view port.
"I'll tell Riley." He said quietly, after a few minutes.
"Tell her that we will assist with supplies and in any other way we can and my offer to take anyone with us stands."
He didn't answer, just left the briefing room with her watching his reflection as he went.
Supplies were readied and two shuttles dispatched to the surface to deliver them. Neelix and Ensign Wildman brought down food and medical supplies in one shuttle, while Chakotay and B'Elanna brought spare parts and technological supplies in the other. B'Elanna assisted members of the cooperative with repairs, while Chakotay worked with Riley.
"I'm sorry the Captain wasn't agreeable."
“I expected as much. Having never experienced the link, she wouldn't understand the good." She smiled up at him. "I'm the one who should be sorry."
"Nothing to be sorry about, you saved my life remember?"
"Yes, I do and I've caused you a few problems as well." She stopped working and looked at him.
"Remember, I was privy to your mind too. I should have never taken advantage of the residual link"
"You didn't force me to do anything I didn't want to do."
"In a way I did. You couldn't have known the effect it would have on you. You couldn't have know how to control it. I did and I took advantage of that." She turned away. "I'm sorry. It's very lonely here sometimes, but that's no excuse. I knew what she meant to you..."
"Riley." He put his arm around her shoulder and turned her back to face him. "Link or not, we only did what we both wanted to do."
"AHH --Commander." B'Elanna was standing behind him. "I'm done here. We should be getting back."
"OK, sure. I'll be right there." He turned back to Riley. "The offer to go with us is still good."
"I belong here. I couldn't go with you any more than you could stay here." She laughed. "Besides I might end up out an air lock pretty fast."
"She wouldn't do that." He laughed "I don't think."
"Don't be too sure. Your Captain is willing to share many thing with us, but the message was clear to me that you are not one of them. Now you better get back and try to fix this. Blame it on me, the link, whatever--but fix it."
"Good luck, Riley." He kissed her cheek and joined B'Elanna in the shuttle.
They went through the pre launch check silently. B'Elanna watched him out of the corner of her eye. As they set course for Voyager, he broke the silence.
"What is it B'Ella? Something bothering you?"
“None of my business." She stopped and looked at him. "What's with you and the Borg?"
"Riley, her name.."
"OK, Riley. It's obvious--something—happened."
"Being linked is pretty intense." He checked readings; she knew he didn't need to.
"Depends on the link I suppose. None of my business, I know, but the Captain..."
"This has nothing to do with the Captain."
"Boy, you better hope she feels the same way."
"B'Ella, leave it alone."
"OK, whatever you want."
The silence returned, Chakotay could only hear the voices in his own head.
"B'Ella, did you say something?"
"Are we receiving a transmission?"
“No, nothing. Something wrong?"
"No, just thought...." Chakotay started acting strangely and began to change course.
"What are you doing?" B'Elanna checked the course change they were headed for the cube. "Chak?" She tried to correct the course, when he pulled his phaser and stunned her.
The sudden change in course and weapons fire were detected on Voyager and it didn't take long for the Captain to realize where he was going and why.
"Tuvok take a team over to the cube and stop him."
The team materialized in the darkness of the borg cube. The Commander was already there, the voices in his head directing him to the proper location for reactivation. Harry and Tuvok found him, but his was beyond reason and ignored their demands that he stop and return to Voyager. Harry was forced to stun the Commander, but unfortunately it came too late to prevent the reactivation of the cube. As it came to life around them, lights, power, drones, they grabbed the Commander and beamed back to Voyager.
Her crew safely returned, the Captain called red alert and stood on the bridge prepared to do battle with the revived cube.
"Captain, the cube just set the self-destruct."
"Mr. Paris, get us out of range."
Voyager backed off as quickly as possible, but rocked in the explosion that lit the view screen as the cube flew into millions of pieces before their eyes.
"Captain we are receiving a transmission from the surface."
"Let's hear it."
"We thank you for your assistance." The collective voice of the new cooperative sounded strangely borg. "We apologize for imposing our will on Commander Chakotay, his assistance was vital to our continued existence. We have now permanently severed our link with him. Safe journey home, Voyager."
The transmission ended. The Captain stood in the middle of the bridge, trying to comprehend the events of the last few days. The Commander was in sickbay, unconscious, but expected to make a full recovery. The former drones had been relinked into the cooperative and the cube had been destroyed. And the personal effects, remained to be seen. She turned the bridge over to beta shift and left the bridge.
"Deck three." She ordered the lift. "Belay that, deck five." She entered sickbay to find Chakotay sitting on the bio bed "Doctor, how is he?"
"He will recover."
"Any lasting effects. Do we know that the link is truly severed?"
"As far as I can tell, yes."
"And when will you release him?"
"He's free to go now."
"Thank you, Doctor." She stood and looked at the Doctor.
"Oh, yes, well, I'll be in my office."
"Thank you." She walked to the bed. "How are you feeling?"
"Alright." He watched her watch him.
"They destroyed the cube, sent a message apologizing for forcing you to assist them."
"Apparently it was not something you could control, they imposed their collective will on you. How long do you think their high ideals will last, now that they have absolute power?" She was walking around the biobed, just glancing at him, not really looking at him.
"I don't know. It seems they already violated them when they forced me to help them."
"Yes, and I'm sure it won't be the last time."
"No, but Kathryn..."
"Not here." She stopped and studied him. "The doctor said you could leave. Let's go home."
He slipped off the bed and followed her out the door. The lift ride was quiet. They entered the Captains quarters --their quarters, although not officially -awkwardly.
"I'm gonna change." She slipped into the bedroom.
He opted for a shower and when he was finished and dressed he joined her in the living area. She was on the couch, coffee in hand when he came in she looked up.
"Only to make this go away."
“It won't. I tried."
"You said that before."
"I don't know what else to say." He sat down. "I don't want to lose you, to lose everything we worked for over this. I have no excuse, no reason--I don't..."
"I don't want that either, but----I don't understand."
"Neither do I." He ran his hand through his hair. "It didn't seem wrong at the time. How could that be?" The sad look on his face was one of true confusion, and she felt badly for him--and her.
"I don't know. Tell me about it-the link--what is it like?" She wanted to understand what would make him believe that this was right. She needed to comprehend what would make him risk their entire future for a few moments of pleasure in Riley's arms.
"It's amazing--I knew things- - about her--about all of them. Their memories were like my memories, their thoughts were one with mine--We ---all of us were a part of each other. Like we were living in each others minds, seeing through each others eyes, experiencing everything each of us had ever experienced---it was overwhelming. I understood their reasoning, I knew what they wanted from us and I believed it was right."
She watched his face, he was totally absorbed in what he was trying to convey. Lost in their world, where the connection was so deep she wondered if it could ever be severed.
"And later, when you were well? The connection continued?"
"There was a residual connection, that's how Riley explained it." He felt her stiffen slightly at the mention of Riley's name.
“Was this with everyone or just ---Riley."
"I don't know. I suppose it would be with any of them, but Riley was the only one there, when I woke up."
"We talked about some of the things I learned--how strange it was, how I knew her thoughts--how I could see her and see through her at the same time. She said then I must have caught her staring---I had and I knew her thoughts---I knew how lonely she was there--I should have backed away then ---but --I couldn't"
“I don't know. I thought I was in control of my own thoughts, my actions, but I don't know." He turned to look at her, her moist eyes broke his heart. "Looking at you, I just don't know how I ever could have done this---but I did."
"Riley is an attractive, intelligent woman..."
"There are plenty of attractive, intelligent women---that doesn't explain it. Hell, we have a ship full of them."
"And Riley, what was her reaction to this?"
"She apologized. She said it was all her fault, even told me to tell you that..."
"And was it--her fault? Why would she say that?"
"She said she knew how I would react to the residual link and having been linked to me, she knew all about you--but ... "
"But, what --it didn't matter?"
"She's been there a long time, she's very lonely. I guess the link had it's effects on her too---she took advantage of the situation."
"I understand about being alone. I don't understand how you exploit some one like that, but I don't understand a lot of her motivation---do you?"
"I did. I really believed I did, now I'm not so sure."
“Maybe it really was the effect of the link..." She rested her head on his shoulder and held tightly to his hand.
"Kathryn, I'm sorry..."
"I won't blame this on Riley, or even the link, though I can't explain it any other way----" He lifted her chin and turned her to face him. "I don't know why I did this and I am more sorry than I could ever say, I never wanted to hurt you. Kathryn, I love you, can you forgive me?."
"I want to. I don't want to lose you." She buried her face in his chest and held on tight. "I'll try-" She looked back up at him. "A wise man once told me --we could do anything together--help me."
He brushed the tears from her eyes and
held her close. Together they faced another obstacle and together
they would survive this one too.