Chapter 3 – Resistance is Not Futile

"UNKNOWN ENERGY SIGNATURE AT COORDINATES 274-62-MARK-60. SENDING VESSELS TO INVESTIGATE."

Seven of Nine. Why did you not heed my warning?

The former drone felt something bubbling inside her, an emotion. Anger. Here was the Queen, appearing to her during a regeneration cycle. Again.

"Voyager has done nothing" she replied. "Captain Janeway would not knowingly endanger her crew by returning to an area with high Borg activity."

Then why have we detected an energy surge within light-years of the nebula? Are you testing a new weapon?

"Your cortical node must be malfunctioning" shot back Seven of Nine. "Or has the Collective forgotten its tactical advantage over Federation vessels?"

Your captain is annoyingly resourceful. Determined. Difficult to predict.

"We are no threat to the Collective. We simply want to return home. The energy readings you have detected are not from Voyager."

Unlike their last chat, Seven did not find herself knocked out.

"Seven of Nine to the Captain."

"What is it?" Janeway sounded groggy, as if woken.

"Captain. At approximately 2230 hours, my regeneration cycle was interrupted by a message. If I have in turn interrupted your…sleep cycle, I apologize, however, due to the nature of the message I found it necessary to inform you personally."

"From who?" Janeway had a bad feeling about this. Nothing good ever came from being woken this late at night.

"The Borg Queen. She believes the anomaly we detected was related to us testing new weapons to use against the Borg."

"And I'm sure you told her we would never dream of starting a fight with someone whose modus operandi is 'Assimilate or be destroyed' using weapons far more powerful than our own."

"That is correct. However, I cannot be sure that she will not follow through on her threat to send tactical vessels to our location."

Janeway's brow creased. Not only was it past her shift, but now a chance to meet what could possibly be a new species was being thwarted due to Borg paranoia.

"Coffee. Black."

"Captain to the bridge."

This can't be good.

Harry Kim began giving his report as he vacated the Captain's chair.

"Captain, two Borg vessels just appeared from a transwarp aperture. Graviton emissions are off the charts—I can't get a reading on how many more might be coming through!"

"Newcomers on the scopes, Admiral."

"What the hell is that?"

Shaken heads all around the Star Dreadnaught's bridge, until a crewman at sensors did the best he could by stating the obvious: "Whatever it is, there are ships pouring out of it."

"Are they hostile?" demanded Admiral Proudmoore.

"Not yet. However, they are significantly larger than the vessel we first encountered, and as such they could be more dangerous."

A second later, green beams lanced out from the spheroid newcomer, lashing the smaller gray ship.

"Well, they're definitely hostile to those people! Should we engage?" asked tactical.

"Hold your fire!" barked Proudmoore. "We have no idea what's going on here. For all we know, these could be criminals on the run from their government."

Communications interrupted.

"Sir, we're receiving a transmission from the new arrivals."

"…SURRENDER YOUR SHIPS. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE."

"Well, that doesn't sound like negotiation to me" said Proudmoore. "Still, only fire if…"

Flares over Redemption's bow answered that question.

"Return fire, all batteries!"

"Shields at sixty-two percent" warned Tuvok. "The Borg seem to have upgraded their weapons since our last encounter."

"Have they adapted yet?" asked Chakotay.

The bridge viewscreen depicted a Borg sphere with a small fire courtesy phaser strikes.

"It appears not, Commander. However, I estimate we only have a few more shots before they do."

"Tom, get us out of here, maximum warp!"

A bump and glow suggested such actions were no longer possible.

"I am remodulating our shields in an attempt to break free" said Tuvok with his characteristic calm.

The cube exploded without warning, pitching Voyager about.

"What happened?" demanded Janeway.

"The cube was destroyed. By the large vessel we encountered several hours ago."

Janeway frowned. The last time Voyager encountered a species who could defeat the Borg that easily, they turned out to be hostile beings from another dimension bent on "purging" her home galaxy. Yet, no evidence existed that suggested this ship was anything like Species 8472.

"This might not be the best time" interrupted Harry Kim, "but the computer's decoded the message we got earlier! It says to rotate our comm frequencies…"

"Well, do it!" ordered Janeway.

"…Republic Starship Redemption to unknown vessel, we are peaceful explorers. We wish to establish communication, trade routes, and diplomatic relations with any sapient species in this galaxy willing to listen. This message will repeat. This is the New Republic Starship Redemption…"

Captain Janeway resisted the urge to jump for joy. Finally someone not bent on assimilation, hunting, harvesting, timeline-tampering, enslavement, or just plain old destruction. Assuming these people were being honest, of course.

On the viewscreen, blue lightning played over a Borg cube.

"This cube has been entirely disabled" reported Tuvok. "Weapons, shields, life support… All non-functional."

A volley of green blasts resulted in a brilliant green-orange explosion.

"The rest of the Borg are retreating" added Kim with some level of relish.

"Can we get a transmission out?" asked Janeway. "Using the same frequency that automated message is playing on?"

"Yes ma'am."

"This is Kathryn Janeway of the Federation starship Voyager, please respond."

"Seven of Nine to the bridge."

"Not now, Seven, we're trying to establish communication with this new ship!" replied Chakotay.

"Commander" she pushed back "how can we be sure this is not another deception? This series of events is highly improbable: an advanced vessel that can easily defeat the Borg appears without any context. Perhaps the pitcher plant spread itself throughout the Delta Quadrant."

Chakotay looked down, before bringing his head back up and turning to Janeway.

"Seven's right. This is too convenient. Unless our friend Q has something to do with it…"

A new voice entered the bridge.

"I assure you, Redemption is not an illusion. I am Admiral Jason Proudmoore of the New Republic Navy, and I have no idea what you are talking about regarding, um, 'pitcher plants.'"