"I have to say, Ambassador, that I admire both your ability to forgive, and your fortitude."

"It is not the way of Vulcans to hold grudges, nor to be squeamish. But I thank you for the compliment."

Taran Dibari and Vulcan ambassador Savar watched in fascination as four standard meters of translucent flesh slid past atop a specially designed hover-sled. The Bluegill Spawnmother had reached her full adult form. The small, squirming embryos visible within her sagging abdomen moved with eerie grace as her born spawn skittered across her massive form. She raised her huge, heavily armored head and massive mandibles clicked in the young Cardassian's general direction, her optic implants gleamed as orange as all artificial lights aboard The Cone.

With the aid of Edon Malar, Dibari had been able to construct a safe platform from which the unwieldy creature could move from her lair near the ship's long obsolete Vinculum to other sections of the craft, or even outside. Though it was highly doubtful the Cardassian people would be pleased to see such a being emerge from The Cone. It had been a long, difficult series of negotiations to try to find a suitable planet for the Bluegills to call home. The Spawnmother's fecundity was becoming a problem for Taran. Her offspring numbered well over ten thousand, and she could produce millions more during the course of her life.

The Cone was being overrun.

As Borg they no longer required physical nourishment or hosts, but no inhabited planet was willing to accept such creatures. The Federation was still shaken by the image of the smoking, headless, hollowed-out corpse of Dexter Remmick surrounded by dead Bluegills. Not to mention the fact that they had managed to 'infest' some of the most powerful beings in Starfleet Command, as well as countless captains, officers and others. At least two starships had been destroyed due to their manipulations, with all hands lost. That had, of course, been a different swarm under another Spawnmother, who was now dead, but that didn't matter to them. Added to all of this was the fact that most sentient races instinctively found parasitic, or even symbiotic, lifeforms repulsive.

It was, as the humans called it, 'A hard sell'.

That was why Taran admired the Vulcan people, they had completely put aside such prejudice and fear eons ago.

Thus, the Micro-Collective would have to adapt an uninhabited world with the technology necessary to keep them alive while assuring the galactic community that they would not escape and conquer other worlds. They had finally settled on a M-Class world, Ingraham B, which had been ravaged by a different form of parasitic organism, known as Blastoneurons, over a century earlier.

A fascinating species, the Blastoneurons, Taran thought, A pity they are extinct.

Though the people of Ingraham B were long dead, much of their infrastructure and technology remained relatively intact. The people of the nearby world of Deneva were less than pleased, as the Blastoneurons had ravaged their world on ships from Ingraham B, but assurances had been made for their protection.

Unfortunately, The Cone no longer possessed the ability to leave Cardassia Prime, much of its vital systems had been scavenged to help in the rebuilding effort. A special shuttle had been constructed to take them to their new world. Edon would pilot the vessel, as Taran was confined to Cardassia Prime. K'erash would be joining him, the first time Taran and his Fek'lhr guardian had been physically separated since the day they had met. But Edon could not control The Borg, and Taran's power was waning. Thus, K'erash had to protect the Cardassian engineer. Utilizing Transwarp technology, the hardy shuttle could reach Ingraham B in seconds, but there would be much to do once there.

Edon Malar himself was looking over the vessel again, familiarizing himself with the craft. He was an engineer, a technician and a mechanic, but he had little experience as a pilot. He was assigned to help convert the abandoned world using Borg technology to ensure that the Bluegills would be able to survive. It was a massive task, but one that Taran believed well within his abilities.

Taran walked over to the Spawnmother and placed his hand upon her bony head. "This is good-bye. I shall miss your presence, though we shall always be part of the same glorious Song."

K'erash stood ready beside the ship as the Spawnmother was loaded aboard. Taran Dibari stood next to him, "Come back safely, my friend." He wrapped his arms around the Fek'lhr in an awkward hug. K'erash returned the embrace.

"I will return as quickly as possible. After all, someone has to protect you." Taran then hugged Edon, who smiled, "Be careful."

"Don't worry, I have a healthy sense of self-preservation. May The Prophets watch over you."

"And you as well."

Ambassador Savar saluted the travelers, "May your journey be pleasant and uneventful."

"Thank you, ambassador." Edon returned the salute.

Taran watched the shuttle exit The Cone and flash away into the bright Cardassian dawn. The work would take months, and he felt somewhat helpless without K'erash.

Now he was, at least physically, almost completely alone.

"You are troubled?" Savar asked.

"Yes. I am . . . Uneasy without K'erash. I am not afraid, but his absence is unpleasant."

"He is your friend. It is only natural that you should feel some loneliness at even a temporary departure such as this."

"I have a great deal to adapt to now that I am no longer with The Collective. I hope that I have the strength to succeed."

"I have no doubt that you possess such strength. You have adapted admirably so far."

"Thank you." He let out a sigh, "I will return to my regenerative alcove now. I am suddenly... Tired..."

"Of course." Ambassador Savar nodded as the young Borg walked away.

As he linked his mind once again with the rest of his small Collective, Taran Dibari felt his worries washed away in the soft song of The Collective.

He was not alone, not truly.

He would never be alone again.

He had a family now.

The End.

Taran Dibari is the young former Exarch of Unimatrix One, chosen as Consort by The Borg Queen. He is very young and grew up on the streets. He willingly joined The Borg to escape his horrible past and dreamed of 'saving' his race by assimilating them. After The Queen's death he lost contact with the majority of The Collective, came to some semblance of sanity and is trying to repair the damage done to the former Borg who remain under his care.

He is a Medical Drone.

Edon Malar is another Cardassian orphan who grew up on the streets. He left Cardassia Prime after unleashing a computer virus that caused the Cardassian government's omnipresent view screens to display rebellious, 'seditious', earth music, mainly Punk and Heavy Metal. He joined The Bajoran Resistance and converted to the worship of The Prophets. he returned after the massacre on his homeworld to use his skills as a mechanic to help his people, and soon joined Taran.

K'erash is a Fek'lhr, a mutant Klingon upon which the myths of Fek'lhr, Guardian of Gre'thor are based. He was mentally and physically augmented, as his mutation left him near feral. He is the most loyal of Taran's remaining drones and his Right Hand.

Savar and the Bluegills are from the Star Trek - The Next Generation episode 'Conspiracy'.

Blastoneurons are from the original Star Trek episode 'Operation Annihilate'.