Several Months Later:

The corridors of the Revenant seemed to stretch on forever. Logically, Nine realized this notion was absurd. However, on an emotional level (one she had forgotten she was capable of achieving) she appreciated just how much the barren desolation of most sections of the ship contributed to their gloomy, labyrinthine atmosphere. Time and war had severely cut down on the number of individuals inhabiting the vessel. At present, a few hundred were all that remained of a crew once numbering nearly two thousand. Necessary modifications had been made to allow the skeleton crew that remained to effectively man the ship, of course, but the aftermath of the clone insurrection (and ten subsequent years of attempting to stay beyond the far reaching arm of the Empire) were felt in the empty halls and abandoned quarters scattered throughout the Revenant.

Recently, Nine had taken to wandering the deserted passages at odd hours, reveling in her newfound freedom. Jadelore had kept her under virtual lock and key for just shy of three months before deeming her too little of a threat on which to waste the resources of a constant guard. The lack of transporter technology seemed to further reassure the Captain that her prisoner wasn't going anywhere any time soon (the former drone planned to remedy this technological oversight as soon as she could get her hands on the proper tools). Of course, she was hardly foolish enough to believe she wasn't being watched. Jadelore didn't need a guard shift to ensure that her crew kept a vigilant eye on the restless Borg. So, perhaps freedom was not quite the right word, but it was an improvement.

As of late, her lonely walks had become something of a refuge from her own increasingly agitated thoughts. The past few weeks had often found her hovering alone in the shadows of the bridge (unobserved by the few officers who ran the night shift), staring thoughtfully out of the viewing deck. The black depths of space staring back at her seemed welcome in comparison to the storm within her mind, fueled by an elevated frequency of incomprehensible and disturbing visions that plagued her when she attempted to regenerate. Nightmares, the ship's doctor (an irritating, intrusive Togruta woman named Akaata Zin) had told her when she made the mistake of mentioning it during one of her weekly checkups (as per the Captain's insistence).

That error in judgment had naturally led to more prying questions from the Captain, which she had rather bluntly refused to answer, setting her mouth in a hard line (an expression that, though she had no way of knowing, would have been easily recognizable on her face in a past life). When this tactic didn't deter the older woman's attempts to wheedle information out of her, however, she adjusted her strategy, answering one of the Captain's earliest questions by sacrificing a piece of information she had discerned about her origins from her memory of the Borg databanks.

. . . . . . . .

"We believe we know what species we are," she had mentioned nonchalantly during her last informal interrogation.

You're changing the subject," Jadelore had replied crisply, taking a sip of her coffee. "And it's "I". You are no longer a member of the Collective."

"We are from Species 5794, otherwise known as Bajoran, a rather inane, technologically unremarkable race," she continued, ignoring both admonitions and deriving no small amount of satisfaction from the momentary stiffening of Jadelore's fingers about the stem of her mug (the only sign of irritation the woman would show in her presence). "We're almost ashamed, actually . . . They are an emotional people bound by an absurd devotion to tradition and a primitive religious ideology," she added as an afterthought.

"Oh?" was the only verbal response the Captain deigned to give.

"They appear to have been relatively isolated for most of their history, until an invasion and subsequent occupation by a superior military force in the last century," Nine continued idly.

"I see," Jadelore replied dryly. Despite her irritation at Nine for avoiding her other questions, she was curious. Deciding to set her interrogation mode aside for the moment (in an attempt to encourage unforced communication), she asked conversationally, "And this occupation . . . did it end at some point?"

"Yes, a few years before our assimilation."

Jadelore tilted her head back, studying the woman in front of her. "How? If they were as . . . technology unremarkable and inane as you claim?"

Nine frowned faintly before answering, "In this particular instance, their illogical reliance on . . . faith," the word seemed to leave a foul taste in her mouth, "served to unite them culturally. That, and their mutual hatred of their oppressors. Before, they were divided into various factions and castes."

"Score one for primitive ideology," Jadelore answered with a wry smile. "I can't help but wonder, were you once one of the faithful? Surely you must have been exposed to the rallying call during your youth."

Nine shook her head, "It is irrelevant."

"Is it?" Jadelore pressed.

Nine looked affronted. "I hardly believe babbling into thin air is going to bring the gods down to save me from my problems."

"Gods? As opposed to god?"

"Yes," Nine answered irritably, "Bajorans believe in the Prophets. They speak to us through the . . . Orbs . . ." she trailed off, eyes narrowing as Jadelore hid a smirk behind her cup.

"I didn't realize the Borg kept records on such . . . anthropological interests," Jadelore quipped. "And it seems you are capable of using first person pronouns. I'm terribly proud of you, my dear. I was dreadfully worried that your time in the Collective had stunted your social development."

"You're making fun of us," Nine stated, her face going blank.

"Ah! Wonderful understanding of social cues. I continue to be impressed, despite that last little slip up with the pronouns again. Leaps and bounds, my dear, you're progressing in leaps and bounds."

She hadn't expected Nine to smile, a surprisingly pleasant expression as she exclaimed, with a knowing twist of her mouth, "You're trying to make us angry. It won't work."

"Can't blame me for trying," the Captain had murmured into her coffee as she considered the accusation. It recalled to her mind a memory of a conversation she had had with Dr. Zin a few days earlier.

. . . . (Flashback) . . . .

Akaata Zin looked up from her datapad as the doors to the medical bay whooshed open, admitting an irritable looking Captain Jadelore.

"Captain," Akaata greeted in her usual serene manner, setting the padd down, "I wasn't expecting you, at least not so soon. I thought I'd have to drag you to your annual checkup . . . again."

"Just shut up and get it over with Doctor," Jadelore had snapped, seating herself on the medical bay bed and looking thoroughly annoyed with the world.

In contrast, the expression on Akaata's face didn't change as she glided unhurriedly over and began running through the steps of the Captain's yearly health examination.

As she worked, she asked delicately, "Is something troubling you, Captain?"

"Not at all," Jadelore drawled acerbically.

"How strange then that your blood pressure is spiking. I assume you've been laying off the caffeine like I told you?"

Jadelore didn't answer for a moment, and then,"It's that damn Borg drone." It was a mutter, almost reluctant, as if the Captain were hesitant to admit that the newest inhabitant of the ship was getting under her skin.

"Ah yes," Akaata hummed, "Nine of Nine, our resident Borg. I thought you would be pleased to have her aboard. You've been looking for a drone for so long."

"I would be happy, if she weren't so damn stubborn," Jadelore grumbled, "She refuses to answer most of my questions. She's of no use to me like this . . . I don't suppose we can go back to plan B and manually extract information on the Collective?"

"I'm afraid that would violate my oaths," Akaata replied lightly.

"Doesn't matter," Jadelore muttered, letting out a sigh. "No offense, Doctor, but this is way out of your league anyway. We need a slicer, not a physician. I'd hate to add more damage on top of what the Imperials already did . . . But damned if I'm not tempted to try anyway. I swear she enjoys it, despite all her claims to 'rationality' and 'logic' and 'not acting on emotion'."

"Perhaps you shouldn't antagonize her so," Akaata suggested gently, though there was a hint of a superior tone to her voice that the Captain easily picked up on, if her narrowed eyes were any indication.

"I don't recall asking for your opinion, Doctor," she replied icily.

"Of course, Captain," Akaata answered smoothly. "I only meant to say that, perhaps, if she grew to like you, she might be more inclined to be forthcoming with information."

"I don't need her to like me. Hate would work just as well. People often tell their enemies just as much as they tell their friends, albeit unintentionally. But I have a feeling it would be infinitely easier to work with someone who thought as a person, rather than a drone."

"Nevertheless, a little kindness can go a long way, Mirimon," Zin remarked, giving her a significant look.

Jadelore frowned at her, but she saw her point. "How wonderful that I can rely on you for advice, Akaata," her voice dripped with sarcasm, but a pleased smile spread across the other woman's face in spite of her Captain's tone.

"I'm happy to serve. And you can go. Your blood pressure's a little high, but you're in good health otherwise."

"Finally," the Captain huffed, jumping to her feet and striding out of the medical bay muttering under her breath.

"Physically, that is. Mentally though . . ." the woman trailed off, turning her attention back to her datapad.

. . . . . . (End Flashback) . . . . . .

"Captain Jadelore?" Nine was looking at her curiously, something almost akin to concern lurking in the depths of her dark eyes.

"How old are you, Nine?" Jadelore asked suddenly, looking at the ex drone intently.

Nine hesitated, her mouth opening and closing as she pondered the question.

"We are . . . uncertain. We have existed as Borg for . . . over twenty years."

"And were you an adult when you were assimilated, or a child?" the Captain pressed.

"An adult," Nine answered quietly, an unreadable expression flashing across her eyes.

"Yet you remember none of your life before?"

Nine frowned, seeming to draw an invisible curtain over her emotions as she responded stiffly, "Very little."

"Your species, is their life span and rate of development similar to humans?" Jadelore asked thoughtfully, studying the woman (who appeared no older than her late twenties or early thirties) with a newfound curiosity.

"It is . . . though fetal development is reduced to a period of five months," Nine replied. "Why do you ask?"

"Just curious," the Captain stated. "You appear . . . rather young for your claimed age."

"Some of the tension seemed to leave the other woman as she explained, "Our Borg nanoprobes work constantly to repair cellular damage. A side affect is reduced wear and tear from the aging process, both mentally and physically."

"How fortunate for you," she laughed.

Nine didn't seem to understand the other woman's amusement, but she didn't comment.

Looking at her now empty coffee cup with a sigh, Jadelore had waved her hand abruptly. "You're dismissed. I have work to do. Try not to assimilate anyone."

A confused look had flashed across the other woman's face as she rose, inclining her head briefly before departing.

Jadelore watched her retreat before turning back to reviewing the medical report she had collected concerning the woman from one Dr. Zin.

"I hope you're right, Doctor," she murmured to herself.

. . . . . . .

Deep Space 9

A few days later . . .

*Beep*

Sisko frowned, rolling over in bed and purposely ignoring the noise.

*Beep*

He covered his head with a pillow, hoping the caller would give up.

*Beep*

With a sigh and a weary expression, he sat up in bed, rubbing his tired eyes.

*Beep*

"Damn it! I'm coming, I'm coming," he muttered in annoyance, rising to his feet and stopping in front of the monitor to accept the call.

He punched a few buttons and the stern face of an white haired woman in her late sixties or early seventies appeared on the screen.

"Admiral Petrova," he greeted wearily, pulling a chair up to the monitor and taking a seat.

"Sisko," she replied briefly. "Sorry to wake you."

"I trust this isn't a social call?" he inquired, wondering what he was about to get pulled into, if an admiral in Star Fleet was contacting him at three in the morning.

Petrova inclined her head slightly, a wry grimace flashing across her face. "I'm afraid not."

He sighed, passing his hands across his face as he fought back the urge to yawn. He nodded at her to continue.

"We've received reports from the Elassi concerning the incident in the Gamma Quadrant. It appears there's a chance not all of the Borg were destroyed in the attack."

"Is this report coming from Minister Kleth?" he inquired. "I hope you'll forgive my bluntness, Admiral, but I don't trust the man."

She silently acknowledged his reaction with a pointed look before replying, "No, it seems the Kleth administration has fallen out of favor with the general Elassi public. He's been impeached and exiled. A man named Thrynn is now in control. The reports are from his intelligence people."

"What do we know about him?" Sisko pressed warily.

"He's competent," she replied shortly. "And has thus far cooperated with our inquiries and investigation."

"So . . . he thinks some of the Borg survived . . . How?"

"It appears the destruction of the shield complex managed to rip a hole in subspace. We're . . . not sure where it leads," for the first time, a look of doubt crossed her face, but was quickly replaced by her former stoic expression.

Sisko frowned. "Have you employed a probe?"

"Naturally," she replied crisply, "The readings are erratic. That's why I'm calling you. We need someone to take a ship to the site and poke around a bit, see what that idiot Kleth managed to do now."

Sisko let out a long breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding, leaning forward in his chair and coupling his hands together as he looked down for a moment. After a few seconds, he replied slowly, "Admiral, I . . . appreciate the chance to personally investigate this matter, but I'm afraid I have other obligations."

"It wasn't a request, Captain," she responded brusquely.

"Admiral, with all due respect, I must decline," he insisted, a touch of irritation coloring his voice.

"And Captain, with all due authority, I'm telling you that you don't have that luxury. If the Borg have been let loose on some new, unsuspecting part of the galaxy, we damn well need to know about it. And if a bunch of Cubes are lying derelict on the other side of a wormhole, we can't afford letting a single nanoprobe fall into the hands of an opportunistic scavenger."

"The funeral for my first officer is tomorrow," he stated bluntly, steely resolve in his eyes. "The Bajoran custom requires a burial within 24 hours of death. Now . . . as there was no body to be recovered, they were willing to delay the ceremony, but I cannot ask them to postpone it any longer. And I am not going to be absent from that ceremony. I owe the Major that much."

She regarded him with a hard expression for a moment. Sisko was uncomfortably reminded of an Earth hawk staring down its prey.

"You have a week to get a preliminary report to me," she finally said. "That should provide you an adequate amount of time. I can give you no longer than that."

Sisko bowed his head in acknowledgement. "Thank you, Admiral. If that's all?"

"It is," she answered, but as he rose to shut the monitor off, she added, "Oh, and Sisko? My condolences." That said, she disconnected the link, leaving him staring at a blank screen.

. . . . . . . .

AN:

More fun with the Borg. Reviews are nice. Please don't forget to feed the writer. I made up a bit about Bajoran funeral customs and Borg technology. What else . . . Oh, in case you hadn't noticed, while years and decades are passing in the Star Wars universe, in the Star Trek universe time is passing much more slowly.

And it hasn't been explicitly stated, but Jadelore didn't strip all the Borg hardware from Kira (no Seven of Nine in an awkward, skin tight suit). Obviously, her connection to the Collective has been severed, a few things probably altered, but she still has some of the benefits of the whole Borg armor (mostly because it looks badass).

Comments and helpful critiques welcome. I know it isn't airtight (far from it), but I'm attempting to grow and develop the story. I'm not used to writing these particular characters, so any tips are appreciated at capturing their voices (Kira is kinda tricky because I wiped most of her memory and made her a Borg drone . . . but she'll sort of come back a bit from that, so feel free to comment as well. Please be polite.).