I don’t like mirrors.
They remind me. Of what – of who – I used to be. And how different I am from that person now.
My name is Sienn t’Lovok. I’m half Romulan, half Human, and 76% machinery. I’m an engineer on an independant freighter that I get the lovely job of holding together, the S. S. Seiklon Axel. The UFP doesn’t trust me, and neither does the Romulan Star Empire. Although sometimes I think it’s not so much my abilities render me untrustworthy, more that – I scare them. People are scared of what they don’t understand. I’ve learned to accept that.
I sit on my bed, leaned against the wall, arms wrapped around my knees. There’s a mirror on the opposite wall; I feel like it’s watching me. Maybe I’m crazy. I can’t count the times I’ve felt crazy since. . .
Well. We’ll get there.
I look up. My hair grows excruciatingly slowly now. It’s been two years, and I have a whopping half inch of hair on my scalp. They could advertise that, you know. “Can’t afford laser hair removal? We’ve got a Borg that’ll do just the thing!” My left hand grazes the jacks lining the nape of neck; jacks that at one time had metal and organic plugs connected to them, interfacing my organic and electronic/positronic components.
I lean my head back against the wall and close my eyes. I don’t want to remember, but I don’t have a choice. I don’t want to remember what I’ve done, how I helped them assimilate ships, colonies, worlds. . . How at one time I loved them. Loved them for their aspiration towards perfection.
They still sing to me sometimes, you know. The digital melody is frighteningly beautiful. But I’m not one of them anymore.
I sat at tactical, pensively gnawing on a chipped, black fingernail. My uncle, Hatham tr’Lovok, was scrambling back and forth across the bridge of his petite research vessel – the Hydra, named after the multicephalic reptilian beast in Human Greek mythology in honor of its handsome sensor array – studying the image of the crater-ridden, ash-colored moon on the viewscreen and reading results from the science and ops stations. Ever since I was five years old and living on Earth – in a dismally small town surrounded by nothing but dust, rocks, barbed wire and more dust in a state where people spoke with bizarre, drawled intonations called Texas – and I’d met Uncle Hatham for the first time, I’d loved watching him. He was like a Terran squirrel – he never stopped moving, no matter how old he got. To be quite honest, it was comical.
Not in need of the engineering station on the bridge and not having anything to do down in Main Engineerig itself, I sat with my best friend N’alae t’Dar, our actual tactical officer. S’Ten tr’Maec was at helm, Thue t’Mendak at ops, and Lhaerrh tr’Kayton at science. It was a typical “day” aboard the Hydra – dodging Uncle Hatham in his scurrying, filling out charts, N’alae and I talking about superficial things when I wasn’t obsessively keeping the ship and its warp core in prime condition. N’alae would joke that I practically lived in Jefferies tubes and that she was jealous of the warp core because it got to see me more than she did.
That’s when we saw it.
“What the hell?” I muttered, slowly rising from my seat, a deep frown wrinkling the skin between my eyes.
I swear, it was not much smaller than the moon itself, an intricacy of metal in the shape of a sphere. It was fascinating.
I glanced fleetingly over at N’alae before my eyes returned to the viewscreen. I’m sure my expression was something akin to hers: shock, fear, morbid interest. “Hatham?” N’alae called shakily, her green eyes wide. My uncle looked up sharply from the dataPADD in his hand, obviously detecting the urgency in N’alae’s voice.
“Elements,” Hatham whispered.
“That’s – that’s – ummm -” S’Ten stuttered, glancing around at the rest of us for a reaction. His face was pale and strained. S’Ten wasn’t the brightest person you ever met; that’s why he was at helm, instead of a job where you did more than punch some buttons on a console.
“Borg sphere, genius,” I snapped, fear making me edgy.
Uncle Hatham looked like a – what’s the Human idiom? Rabbit-in-the-headlights? He was like prey frozen in the gaze of a predator. “If we don’t do anything, maybe they won’t react – if they don’t perceive us as a threat -”
“They’re hailing us,” I interjected, my eyes on the tactical station. “Open hailing frequency?” N’alae was so frozen in terror she didn’t even glare at me like usual for doing her job. At Uncle Hatham’s noise of acknowledgement, I nodded sharply to my friend and she opened a frequency.
“We are the Borg. Existence, as you know it, is over. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.” The commlink was severed, leaving our bridge in utter silence. It was deafening.
“They’ve locked on a tractor beam,” N’alae reported. So the predator had its prey in its claws.
The bridge became a flurry of movement and noise. Uncle Hatham was shouting orders, none of which I tuned into until I heard my name. “Sienn! Get to Engineering; they may target the warp core.”
“Ie,” I replied, turning towards the lift. I’d only taken a couple of steps before I felt a cold hand on my arm. Whirling around I saw N’alae.
“Just in case.” She smiled sadly, her eyes sparkling with moisture, and hugged me tightly. N’alae was smart, she knew what was going to happen. She knew the odds were against us.
Die or be assimilated. Lose your life or lose your identity.
I was in Main Engineering, disruptor rifle in hand, when they boarded the Hydra. I’m not sure how they got aboard or where, but two drones ended up in Main Engineering. My Main Engineering.
What happened was my fault, really. I’m sure they wouldn’t have touched me if I’d left them alone. But, being my typical self, anger got ahold of me. They were here to condemn my family, friends and I to a fate worse than death. And only when Arreinye froze over would I just stand back and let them.
I set the phase variance on my disruptor to fluctuate irratically, hoping it would be enough to get some damage in without allowing the drones to adapt. So when they approached the bulkhead and inserted assimilation tubules into the consoles, I attacked them.
The next thing I knew I was sprawled on the floor, my back burning with pain. One of the drones approached me. Shoving myself to my feet I backed away, glancing out of the corner of my eye at my weapon laying on the floor. While one drone continued assimilating Engineering the other advanced, pinning me against the bulkhead. Growling in frustration and fear I lashed out at the drone, but before my fist even came in contact with it I felt a piercing pain in the side of my neck.
Before I could even scream it was over, the drone continuing away as I slumped on the floor. At that time I hadn’t understood what had happened. Hadn’t known millions of nanoprobes were now racing through my bloodstream, altering the molecular structure of my erythrocytes to carry fuel and electrical impulses as opposed to oxygen, which was why I felt as if I were suffocating.
It felt like dying. No, it felt worse. It felt like losing.
I fought. I fought with every fiber of my being, but each second a fiber disappeared, falling into the abyss of a dissolved individuality. I held onto myself as long as I could, even after the nanoprobes in my bloodstream had constructed my interlink node, cranial and neural transceivers, effectively connecting my mind – and its various positronic components – to the hive mind. I could hear them, hear them sing to me. . . It was hypnotic. But more than anything I heard Her.
Now I sat in a dark, spartan room aboard the sphere, leaning back against the wall, arms wrapped around my knees. My skin had begun to be deprived of its pigment as my natural hormones were replaced with a bio-synthetic gland and electronic impulses; gray spider veins snaked down my arms.
“Why?” I choked out. I was still badly shaken from seeing drone-N’alae and drone-Thue – images I would gladly forget if I could. I still had enough threads of humanity – or Romulanity, if you will – to hate them. To hate Her.
“You do not understand. They never do.”
I looked up sharply. Her voice was warm and smooth, finally hearing it with my ears rather than via binary code. “What is there to understand?” I was gritting my teeth. “You assimilate entire worlds, cultures, to add to your sick, twisted idea of -”
“Perfection,” She finished for me. “Our goal is nothing more and nothing less than. . . perfection. You will understand soon. And you will come to aspire for the same goal -”
I did. She was right. She was right all along, I just didn’t see it. No, I hadn’t understood. But I came to. I came to understand how we were superior – a mix of the organic and inorganic, the best of both worlds, if you will.
I was no longer Sienn t’Lovok – no longer knew who that was. I was Five of Seven, Tertiary Processor of Unimatrix 58. I was Borg.
As such, when one day I opened my eyes to see the sterile, blinding whiteness of a hospital room, to smell the sharp scent of disenfectants, hear the whispers, sense the fear in the air, feel the absence of my right arm and left eye that the Borg had so generously removed and replaced with utilitarian implants (which the Federation medics had removed), I felt a twisted sadness.
I was alone. My mind was my own again, my thoughts isolated. I couldn’t hear them anymore, couldn’t hear Her. The hive mind was gone – and I was angry. Angry at the physicians on that starbase for depriving me of the implants that connected me to the Collective. Angry at myself. Angry at the Collective.
Once I was out of the hospital and adorned with more natural-looking cybernetic anatomy, I submitted to the masses – the masses being a very pushy chief medic – and went to therapy. It helped, actually, despite my apprehensions. I learned, after two years, to accept myself, my individuality. But that didn’t change the stares, the whispers, the hands on the weapons. It was obvious I was different – eidetic memory and enhanced strength put aside. My body was still adorned with their jacks, plugs that had once connected the cords that wired the organic to the inorganic.
I was no longer Borg. Existence, as I knew it, was over, but not in their way. My biological and technological distinctiveness had been added to the Collective, then taken away. I had adapted to service them, then been rescued.
I had resisted.