“Voyager has altered course. Current position spatial grid three six two, trajectory one one two mark five.” The Collective’s many voices merged together, their tone bland and unemotional as they recited the events that were playing out before them.
The Queen stood alone in the centre of the hub, protected from the battle that raged between a lone starship and her vast armada. Her eyes closed, she listened to her drones and through their eyes watched as they were fired upon by Voyager’s transphasic torpedoes, growing angrier as the weapons sliced through her shields and destroyed ship after ship. Fury rose within her, as thousands of voices were silenced, never again to add to the harmony of the Collective. With each voice lost, disharmony and discord grew, their dying screeches adding to the Queen’s volatile thirst for revenge against Voyager and its upstart Captain.
Inwardly, she raged at Janeway’s interference, once again, Janeway had meddled in matters that were not of her concern. First in the conflict with Species 8472, stealing one of the most guarded secrets within the Collective and raping her until she was nothing more than a shell of her former self, defiled and subjected to the whims of a single voice. A Queen never would accept the loss and had waited until the right moment to call Seven back into the perfection that she had been torn from. Knowing that individuality was insufficient and stifling to one that had been reared to accept her duties. Removing everything that had made her Borg. Her ocular implant gone and replaced with an inferior substitute, the intricate mechanical appendages removed to expose the pale flesh of her skull to the harsh air. Follicles made to cover the once shaven head, adorning it with blond strands, forcing her into their image.
Her body had been made weak, unprotected…small…insignificant. No longer was she encased in the black and grey armour that declared to all that she was part of a power army. Instead, she stood clad in a fabric cat suit that made a mockery what she should have become, tarnishing her and robbing her of destiny.
Making her an object for lesser beings to gawk at and then allowing the unworthy to touch her,’ the Queen thought, revulsion rolling through her at the thought of what had become to her protégé.
A protégé no longer thanks to Janeway’s actions almost four years ago. No longer did Seven look up her Queen for guidance, instead an usurper had taken her place. Seven had been contaminated to believe that following the orders of an individual had more meaning than listening to the sounds of millions in unison.
A Queen would never allow one of her collective to be free; she was their source of strength and by her word alone, kept the kingdom safe. When one escaped, the Collective sought to bring the drone back into the fold. They knew that that their Queen cared for them by her actions. They knew that they were no longer small individuals but part of a greater empire. Losing and then failing to regain Seven of Nine when the opportunity had come was a bitter blow to acknowledge but she knew that given enough time, the lure of the Collective would always call out to her young charge, seducing her to submit to a greater power. The Queen just had to be near enough to influence her actions, or so she had thought.
It wasn’t until the last confrontation with Janeway that she came to realize the poison that had spread and infected her protégé. Days after regaining the lost child of her realm, she would lose her again to Janeway when she burst into her abode and lured Seven away from her.
Her insight would have greatly added to their understanding of humanity and would have aided them in their search to assimilate human into the Collective. If not for Janeway’s meddling, the Collective would be achieving all of their goals for the Alpha Quadrant and the destiny of the Borg Collective that required Seven of Nine’s presence.
“I don't know how you do it. All those voices talking at once.” Admiral Janeway’s voice penetrated the silence. She stood before the Queen, unfearful and smirking. “You must get terrible headaches.”
Her eyes snapped open and she looked back at her nemesis. ‘Foolish, arrogant Janeway. How dare she boldly walk into her enemy’s domain as if she owned it,’ The Queen thought, relishing the moment when she would have Janeway on her knees, bowing down to her commands. She would have preferred the younger of the two, their last encounter still fresh in the Queen’s mind, but Admiral Janeway brought with her knowledge of the future. Weapons, armour and vessels that would enhance the Borg.
“If you're calling drones to assimilate me, don't bother.” Janeway continued, leaning against the rail that ran around the Queen’s alcove.
”I don't need drones to assimilate you.” The Queen replied, stretching her hand towards the Admirals vulnerable neck and releasing her. Fury rose within her as they passed harmlessly through Janeway’s body, denying her the stratification of having Janeway as one of her pet drones.
“I'm not actually here, your Majesty, I'm in your mind.” Janeway taunted, her lips curling into a mocking smile. “I'm using a synaptic interface. If I were you, I wouldn't waste my time trying to trace the signal. For the moment, it's beyond your abilities.”
‘You have no idea of what our abilities are.’ She sent an order swiftly to her drones and all within complied with her commands. While Janeway alone, she had thousands to draw on, to be her eyes and ears. All of them seeking of the surge of energy that would reveal Janeway’s position and lead to her downfall.
”What do you want?” The Queen asked, head tilting as she looked upon her adversary.
“To make a deal.” Janeway replied bluntly, smothering the rise in anger at the Queen’s knowing glance. “Captain Janeway thinks I'm here to help her destroy your transwarp network.”
”That's beyond your ability.” The Queen arrogantly pronounced.
‘Grids one through fifty clear of humanoid lifesigns. Proceed to next grid.’
“Oh I know that, and I tried to explain it to my naive, younger self, but she wouldn't listen. She's determined to bring down that hub.” Janeway responded.
”She will fail.” Borg superiority rang out with her words.
“Yes, but she has weapons that I brought from the future. I believe you're familiar with them.” Janeway replied, her eyes twinkling with glee at getting the upper hand over the bitch before her.
“Transphasic torpedoes. We will adapt.” The Queen responded haughtily, dismissing them as if unimportant, confidence dripping from each word she spoke.
“Eventually, but not before Voyager does a great deal of damage,” the Admiral answered back, watching a cube explode in the monitor, “I'm willing to tell you how to adapt to those weapons now.”
“In exchange for what?”
“Send a cube to tractor Voyager and drag them back to the Alpha quadrant.” Janeway demanded.
“You're asking me to believe that the incorruptible Kathryn Janeway would betray her own crew,” the Queen asked with a sneer.
Janeway leaned forward, her palm raised to halt the Queen, “Not betray them, save them from themselves. I brought technology to help Voyager get home but the Captain is arrogant, self-righteous, and her officers are so blinded by loyalty that they're prepared to sacrifice their lives just to deal a crippling blow to the Borg.”
“But you'd never try to harm us.” Her words dripped with venom and hatred.
“I've become a pragmatist in my old age. All I want is to get that crew back to their families.” Janeway responded with a smug smile. ‘Take the bait.’
“You wish to ensure the well-being of your Collective. I can appreciate that. I'll help you but it'll cost more than you're offering.”
‘Fool, as if I could be tricked into believing your pathetic games.’
“What do you want?”
“Your vessel and its database,” the Queen decreed.
“I told you, I'll show you how to adapt to their torpedoes,” Janeway said firmly, refusing to back down from her original offer.
“Insufficient.” The Queen replied, thinking of all the skirmishes and encounters that they’d had since their first encounter. Janeway had made a fool of the Collective; their failure to assimilate the lone ship had made them a mockery amongst the beings that they had recently welcomed into the hive. The Collective regarded this as insignificant, just simple, imperfect thoughts of lesser beings but to its Queen it was another sign of the damage that Janeway had caused. Now, nothing would satisfy its Queen unless it she personally had defeated and humiliated Janeway for her attempt at destroying her collective.
“If I let you assimilate technology from the future, there's no telling how events would be altered,” she fired back.
The Queen turned towards her, “You're willing to alter the future by getting Voyager home now.”
“Oh yes, but there's a difference,” Janeway replied, walking to stand a few feet behind her nemesis.
“Do what all good pragmatists do, Admiral,” the Queen replied, throwing Janeway’s words from their last tête a tête at the Admiral, “compromise.”
‘When hell freezes over.’ The Admiral thought, her smile turned up in an echo of a smile as she recalled the last time that the Queen had spoken those words to her. Unimatrix Zero. It had been years since that encounter for her but to the Queen mere months had passed and it was a festering wound that refused to heal each time she encountered Janeway. ‘I don’t compromise with Borg. Then or now, your Highness.’
Janeway looked away, as if contemplating the Queen’s words. “All right. I'll give you the shuttle after Voyager arrives safely in the Alpha quadrant.”
“You've already lied to your younger self. How do I know you're not lying to me?” The Queen asked, her lips curled into a parody of a smile that lacked warmth and her silver eyes shone with malice and hate towards the holo-image of Janeway.
“I guess you'll just have to trust me.” Janeway answered, with a provoking smile.
‘Subject located. Spatial grid three six two, trajectory five three two mark one.’
Triumph flared in those icy orbs at how senile Janeway had become. Had she truly thought that she was beyond the Borg’s reach with her technology? ‘She would make an excellent addition to the collective or an amusing plaything to experiment on’ The Queen relished the idea of turning her into nothing more than a mindless, automation that followed her lead.
“That won't be necessary. You underestimate me, Admiral. While we've been talking, my drones have triangulated your signal.” The Queen looked on as panic flared briefly in Janeway’s eyes before her image disappeared. ‘Transport Janeway to my antechamber.’
Hidden beneath one of the large cubes, concealed from the prying eyes of the Collective, sat the still form until Janeway’s eyes flew open and she reached forward, tapping at the lit panel and setting an escape route, “Computer, deactivate the interface. Deploy armour.”
The ship began to move forward, attempting to pull free, when she was transported away, back into the Queens inner chamber.
‘Game,’ Janeway thought, smiling inwardly as she looked into the cold eyes of her nemesis.
“Very clever. Hiding right on my doorstep. Were you planning to attack us from inside the Unicomplex?” The Queen sneered, “Not feeling talkative?”
As quick as a scorpion’s sting, the Queen’s tubules sprung forth and pierced the frail flesh. Watching coldly as the Admiral clutched her stomach as the nanoprobes began to flood her system, interacting with the ones that had remained behind from so long ago. A battle began that would lead to her destruction, the pull of Borg too strong and demanding as it commenced to take over her mind and body. The new nanaprobes started to merge with the deactivated ones, taking them over and bring them to life again. Both had begun to work together to tear away the individuality and leave behind a mindless drone.
‘This was worse than the last time,’ Janeway thought, collapsing to lie on the floor, biting her lip to still a scream that threatened to make its way to the surface.
“You and I don't need words to understand each other.” Satisfaction dripped from the Queen’s words, as she stood over the partially assimilated woman.
“Voyager has entered aperture eight two three, access transwarp corridor zero nine. Redirect vessels to intercept at subjunction-”
A surge of power raced across the complex, destroying connections until the electric charge reached the inner hub and concentrated its shock on the Queen and her alcove. She stumbled in pain as a charge flowed through her body. In the distance, the voices sounded distorted, confusion starting to set in as the surge cascaded throughout each Borg ship. She turned sharply towards Janeway, her eyes narrowing into thin, angry slits as she looked down at her prey.
“Must be something you assimilated,” Janeway rasped with a grin, fighting against the agony of insect-like nanoprobes rushing through her blood stream, seeking traces of her humanity and clinging tightly until only they remained.
“What have you done?”
“I thought we didn't need words to understand each other.” Janeway rasped as the pain seared its way throughout her body. Refusing to remain on her knees, she forced herself to stand defiantly waiting for the moment that the Queen realized who had won the latest confrontation.
“You've infected us with a neurolytic pathogen,” The Queen stated, her eyes wide with shock as more voices began to overlap in her mind. The voices, frantic and confused, seeking tranquility and unity, finding nothing but disorder. Their cries flailed at the Queen, but she was helpless to aid them.
“Just enough to bring chaos to order.”
“Voyager will be destroyed.” The Queen replied viscously, shuddering as she felt the waves of pain and distress from her drones bearing down on her. Each confused cry slashed through her body, raking her with their anguish at the loss of her presence within their minds until everything within her seemed to be tearing her apart as her Collective fell around her. She could feel the nanoprobes working frantically to repair the cascade damage that was overtaking her mechanical body. She gritted her teeth as the pulses of electricity grew in strength, racking through her and annihilating anything that stood in its path.
“They're ahead of the shock wave. They'll survive. Captain Janeway and I made sure of that.” Janeway replied, eyes gleaming with satisfaction at having beaten the Borg bitch at her own game. “It's you who underestimated us.”
The Queen looked down at her left arm, sparks flew as it broke free of her armour. She had once said that nothing compared to the feeling of being assembled, feeling each limb attaching to form a body. Created from the knowledge of many species, drawing the technology that was kept secret with the Collective. It was a body made to resist defeat and unwavering in its strength and perfection. It had been source of pride but at this moment, she was being raped by the technology that had been an extension of herself thanks to the pathogen with which Janeway used to taint her. The voices flooded her mind, disjointed and seeking, only to find chaos. She closed her eyes, trying to find any cube within her Collective that still could hear the purity of her voice.
‘There… Enter the corridor and destroy Voyager.
“Sphere six three four. They can still hear my thoughts. I may have assimilated your pathogen but I also assimilated your armour technology,” she clutched the bar of her alcove, watching helplessly as her leg fell to the ground, sparks flashing briefly before being extinguished. Rage soared at the desecration that was being done to her body, she snarled, “Captain Janeway is about to die. If she has no future, you will never exist and nothing that you've done here today will happen.”
Admiral Janeway collapsed to the floor, her breathing ragged as she gave into the force of the nanoprobes rushing through her system. Her body was burning from the pain that they’d left behind. She cried out silently as they tore into her flesh, embedding sharp metal into the once flawless skin. However, it was the gradual loss of her soul that she fought against with every fibre of her being until it was too late; the tether that held the connection to her humanity tore apart, ripping away the soul until only the barest flicker of humanity remained. She fought against the grip of the Collective, her gaze locked on the fallen Queen.
“We are Borg. We will prevail. ” The Queen announced arrogantly, her voice fading and her body twitching uncontrollable in her death throes. “Resistance is fut-“
Her words stuttered and stopped. Sensing that the end of her reign was near, she sent out her last command to her drones. Embedding within each one of them, with an uncompromising command that would be followed long after her destruction. Millions of voices called out, seeking her and finding silence and confusion. As she exhaled her last breath, she grinned malevolently as her final command was initiated. Janeway may have destroyed her but a new Queen was soon to rise from the ashes that she left behind.
The Royal Protocol flared to life, seeking the one that would replace the fallen Queen, its message crossing the boundaries of subspace, unconcerned with distance or time as it strived to achieve its directive. Ready to initiate her to her new role and aide her in the creation of her new collective as the remains of the old disintegrated. The dying Queen felt each one of her collective, their many voices joining with hers in the death cries of a kingdom, eager to serve her in death as they had in life.
The room became engulfed in a large ball of fire, incinerating every life form that was in its path, setting off a chain reaction that expanded and became more turbulent as it made its way through the Collective, destroying all it made contact with until it reached the farthest edges of the Collective.
In a matter of minutes, millions of voices forever silenced…
Leaving behind fields of debris, interstellar dust and blood where Borg ships had once dominated, freeing the populations from their restless tyranny and allowing a new era to begin, free of oppression and fear.
On the other side of the galaxy, Voyager burst free from the shattered remains of the Borg sphere and her crew takes its first steps into a new destiny.