Stardate ber 72909.6; November 28, 2395
Edited by Shaun Hayes
Story by Steve Davis
Written by Chris Adamek
Doctor Julian Bashir
Lieutenant Ezri Dax
Commander Vee Gelez
Captain Levine Rivers
Lieutenant Stuart Yaro
Lieutenant Jennifer Yates
“We are the Borg. Existence as you know it is over. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Resistance is futile.”
The transmission ended, and all eyes on the bridge of the USS Avenger slowly migrated to the view screen, just to make sure that their ears weren’t lying to them. The Dominion War had just ended. Cardassia was dead, the Federation was in ruins, and the Klingons weren’t much better off. Nobody was ready for a Borg incursion.
But as those eyes met the Borg armada on the viewscreen, it quickly became clear that this was no incursion. It was an invasion. At least four cubes hung ominously in space alongside a single diamond-shaped module; additional cubes were gradually easing into view from behind.
There had been rumors that the Dominion had lost some 3,000 ships to a Borg armada, but many had dismissed it as just that—a rumor. Surely the Dominion, being vastly superior to the Federation in so many ways, could defeat a Borg armada. And they just might have—if this armada had been of the standard Borg invasion force.
But as eight of the cubes started to pull away from the armada, forming a ring around the stark, diamond-shaped module, it rapidly became clear that another dreaded rumor had come to fruition, a rumor far more disturbing than the loss of 3,000 Dominion ships: the Borg had managed to assimilate Species 8472.
Tendrils of green energy lashed out from each of the eight cubes and manifested themselves inside the diamond-module. The maelstrom of energy pulsated inside the diamond for several moments, until the entire pinwheel of Borg vessels had aligned itself to face the Federation fleet and the planet of Sentalk II directly behind them.
The energy inside the diamond started to spill out into the void of space and the Federation starships made haste to get out of the way. Slowly the beam manifested itself into a jagged stream of verdant energy, shuttling itself toward the helpless planet with a fury that was practically unimaginable. It pummeled the surface of Sentalk II, generating massive waves of energy as it ate away at the planet’s core, until finally, the entire sphere shattered.
In an instant, three billion lives were blown apart as Sentalk II became the first casualty of this new war. The Federation fleet barely had time to respond to the destruction of the planet, when the rest of the Borg armada came to life.
Polaron beams lashed out of the cubes, grabbing any Federation starship within reach. They were summarily scanned and meticulously analyzed by the collective. If they found a species worthy of assimilation, the entire vessel was pulled into a cube. If not, the polaron beam was phased, and the ship in question was destroyed.
“Forty-seven ships have been destroyed or captured,” called out Lieutenant McDermont from the tactical station.
“Damn it!” called out the Captain. “Evasive maneuvers, Ensign! See if you can—”
A polaron beam suddenly filled the view screen. The Avenger had been captured. The fate of every life on the vessel would be decided within the next few moments—assimilation or death. As he looked on from his science station, Cadet Alan Christopher wasn’t sure which he wanted more—to live on in the Borg Collective as a drone, or to die a horrid death when the polaron beam phased and vaporized the ship…
He quickly afforded a glance to the other Cadet that had been assigned to the Avenger for field studies, Erin Keller. The petite young lady looked equally perplexed, but if she was frightened, she didn’t show it. Christopher hoped he looked equally calm.
The ship jolted. First, Christopher was forced foreword into his station, but as soon as he got his hands in position to brace him for impact, the Avenger pulled him in the other direction, sending both him and Keller to the floor amidst a shower of sparks and flame.
From the ground, Christopher could see the Borg cube on the view screen growing larger. They were about to be assimilated. Four large panels slowly receded into the cube’s hull, dramatically revealing the thousands of alcoves and workstations inside the cube. Suddenly, a red beam affixed itself to the Avenger’s hull to guide them in the last few meters…
Christopher closed his eyes, deciding it best to take this life event in the dark. He didn’t want to see himself, or his friends on the Avenger turned into drones.
But suddenly, the ship stopped. The tractor beam disengaged, and the red guiding beams faded away, leaving the Avenger alone. “What happened?” he inquired.
There was no immediate response. In fact, as he waited a few additional seconds, Christopher realized that there would be no response at all. When he forced his eyes back open, the cadet saw that the explosion that sent himself and Cadet Keller to the floor happened to be their greatest stroke of luck—because it kept them alive. Everyone else on the bridge of the Avenger was dead.
Christopher didn’t even have to check—he just knew. The helm had toppled over into a generous puddle of red blood. A gigantic bulkhead had fallen onto the Captain’s chair, and both tactical and ops were smoldering hulks. Christopher could only afford a brief glance at McDermot’s charred remains before his stomach started to convulse, and he was forced to look away.
“Eighteen people are still alive,” said Keller, accessing the only functional science station left. And considering the crew compliment was six hundred… the Avenger was in very bad shape.
Christopher quickly joined Keller at the science station, trying to shut out his emotions and focus on the task ahead of them. “What happened to the cube? Why aren’t we strolling along the Borg corridors as drones?”
Keller tapped the controls, and brought up a schematic of the cube in question. It rotated about for several moments before zooming in on the face opposite the Avenger. “The cube was rammed by the USS Redding. I guess it suffered a power failure.”
“Lucky us,” Christopher grumbled, still staring at the schematic. Something didn’t look right to him, but despite his gaze, Christopher couldn’t put his finger on it… until Keller brought up the cube’s power distribution schematic.
“Their power distribution nodes are already regenerating,” she said, but her words fell on deaf ears.
Instead, Christopher pointed to their shield grid. “When the Borg shields went back up, it polarized our hull and sent a feedback pulse through the tractor beams. In concert with the Redding’s impact, we did a lot of damage…” His voice slowly trailed off as the sensors erupted in a plethora of warnings and alerts.
“The armada is retreating,” said Keller after deactivating the cacophony of warnings.
Christopher produced a nervous smile. “They must think we’re dead…”
“I’m not complaining,” said Keller.
“Nor am I,” he replied, watching the Borg icons vanish from sensors. They were all jumping into quantum singularities, the spatial anomalies used by Species 8472 to travel. And to his chagrin, the exact same number of singularities that brought the Borg to Sentalk II, took them away, indicating that the Borg hadn’t lost a single vessel…
Yet they had single-handedly killed over three billion people and destroyed nearly one hundred starships. Both cadets’ eyes widened as they came to the realization that they stood at the twilight of the Federation, and unless some miracle suddenly fell from the heavens, this darkest night would have no dawn…
And simultaneously, in the comfort of their quarters on the Starlight, both Captain Alan Christopher and Commander Erin Keller bolted up in their beds…