Disclaimer: Don't own KH or Star Trek Voyager.
This is why I should not watch any version of Star Trek while also playing KH3. Set s4 of Voyager.
Resistance is Futile
Sora managed a smile for Kairi, turning his head as he heard someone call his name, seeing Riku running towards them, hand outstretched. He reached back to Riku, mouth opening to tell him he was sorry, but everything was fading away. He fell, falling forever and ever…through Darkness so cold it sank into his very bones and Light so bright it blinded him to everything.
Something hard slammed into his back and he would have screamed in agony if he could but then mercifully, everything went black.
Alerted by a strange noise, three of them broke off from the main group and made their way across abandoned streets. They stared at the crater, taking readings, before moving into it to find the source. A broken human body lay within and they went to leave, a dead body was of no interest…until it breathed. One approached and bent down mechanically, two thin tubes emerging from its wrist to sink into a slender throat for a few seconds before withdrawing, it then hefted the barely living body up and they walked away to re-join the others.
There was fire in his blood! He gasped, trying to wake up, to move, something. Flashes of sound and images hit him as his eyes fluttered open and shut. There was sound and movement all around but he was beyond comprehension. He instinctively reached for his magic to heal himself but there was nothing, he'd drained it too low for it to have recovered yet.
He tried to scream as millions of voices seemed to press into his mind. NO!
They stared at the body on the table, once tan skin now mottled, veins standing out black as the nanoprobes flowed through, attaching to the red blood cells, circulating through the body. The neural transceiver was completing formation within the body and they would soon add the new drone to the Collective. The nanoprobes were also forming the necessary vocal subprocessor and homing device as well as other components. An implant erupted from the neck, quickly forming and settling into the skin correctly. Seeing that the process was proceeding as normal, they moved in to begin the surgical alterations.
They paused as the new drone was linked to the Collective, it was resisting far more strongly than any member of Species 5618 previously assimilated. A sample was taken and analysed to ensure the species designation was correct, it was. They stared as finally the individuals mind buckled under the force of the Collective, ready to assimilate all of its knowledge, only to find nothing, the specimen was blank. No memory, nothing remained. It did not matter and they began the process of replacing the left limb with a suitable prosthesis even as the body was covered with Exo-plating and the left eye was replaced with the appropriate ocular processing core. Tubing emerged from the Exo-plating to sink into the skull as the hair fell out, further work of the nanoprobes, the skin now greyish white.
There were too many voices! But they all acted as one, repeating the same words into his head.
"We are the Borg. Resistance is futile. Your life as it has been is over. From this time forward, you will service us."
He could feel them and he was terrified, reaching for help, the Light of his heart surging to his defence, but it wasn't enough. Distantly he was aware of his body, of pain, of being changed…he was going to lose. He wrapped himself in the Light, everything that made him who he was, every memory, thought, emotion, all of it, and then he let go, sinking deeper and deeper into the Light, into his heart.
A motionless body appeared floating just above a stained glass platform but the glass slowly drained of all colour, the image of the sleeping Sora fading away. He slowly sank into the glass, leaving nothing behind for the voices to take. Everything that made Sora who he was, everything he knew, his power, all of it was locked away where the Collective would never gain access to it, waiting for any opportunity given to re-take control.
The drones stepped back from the table even as one dull blue eye opened, the red laser of the ocular implant coming online, scanning the surroundings automatically. The new drone sat up straight and then got up, following another to the appropriate alcove which it stepped up to, turning so that its back was against the alcove, head resting against the glowing green circle, tubes shifting from the walls to connect to its body as it began the regeneration cycle to ensure perfect synchronisation between cybernetic and organic components, eye closing and body powering down.
Riku stared at where Sora had been, not even noticing as he collapsed to his knees in the sand until Kairi knelt in front of him, tears falling from her eyes as she hugged him.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," she choked out, and slowly his arms lifted to wrap around her.
Mickey had warned Sora…and Riku had let him go. He'd thought Sora could do it, he'd done so many impossible things over the years that he'd never doubted Sora would save her and then come home.
"Sora," he whispered. They stayed like that, ignoring the others around them until Riku suddenly collapsed as agony flowed through his heart, knowing it was Sora's pain and sheer terror. "SORA!" he screamed, back arching, even as hands tried to hold him down. The pain reached a crescendo…and then vanished, along with all sense of Sora. Riku welcomed the blackness of unconsciousness as it came.
"Riku?" Mickey called, but the youngest Keyblade Master lay utterly still on the sand, even as Aqua moved to check his pulse, sending a cure spell at him as well.
"He's alive," she quickly assured them all, "just unconscious, but I don't know why."
"Could it be…cause Riku's Sora's Dream Eater?" Goofy asked, and Mickey felt sick with worry. What happened to a Dream Eater if their Dreamer died? Was this proof Sora truly was gone forever?
"We need to get him to Master Yen Sid," he told them, and Terra moved in to carefully lift Riku, gently carrying him to the ship.
Maintenance Drone 13 of 14 of Trimatrix 197 disengaged from the alcove as the ship shuddered, the Collective activating it in order to aid in repairs of the Cube. If any part of Sora's memory had been assimilated, the Collective would have been aware of the meaning of that number to him, as it was the designation was pure chance. The drone mechanically began its work with other Drones, directed by the will of the Collective. A nearby panel exploded, fatally wounded two others who collapsed, their bodies dragged aside for later scavenging before the work continued.
Riku and Kairi sat together on the old Paopu tree, staring out at the ocean, it had been nearly two years since Sora had…since Sora. They had done their best to try and find any sign of him but nothing worked. Kairi had allowed her Heart to be searched while asleep, Riku had travelled to every World he could think of, had tried to reach Sora's dreams….there was no sign. It was like he'd never existed except for the fact everyone still remembered him.
He hadn't realised how much the link between them had meant, until it had been brutally severed. Everyone else had begun to believe that pain had been Sora's death, Riku refused to believe it, so did Kairi. But they had exhausted every lead, all they could do was wait for Sora to find his own way home or reach out to them somehow.
Thirteen of Fourteen was transported with a group, the weapons of their targets already adapted to. The ship was large and so it had been sent over to help with assimilating the crew and technology. As they were fired on its shield activated as the group moved forward and it raised its arm, returning fire as ordered. It grabbed a crewmember, Assimilation tubules emerging and sinking deep into the neck of the male of species 312. The nanoprobes began their work and the drone moved on to the next.
Within hours the crew were either dead or undergoing the assimilation process and the Cube moved on.
Riku stared at Kairi in shock, even as she went.
"Riku, I…I'm sorry," she whispered, looking away.
"I shouldn't have, I just…"
Riku sighed but then pulled her into a hug, kissing her forehead. "We both miss him Kairi, but you can't just," he stopped at her glare.
"You aren't Sora and I am well aware of that Riku. You were always the one who thought there was a choice to make when it didn't have to be that way. You spent that last day on the beach alone, well with your Replica, when you should have been with us."
Riku stared at her in shock. "You knew?"
"We both did, but you obviously wanted to be alone so we stayed away. Riku, he didn't cry when we reunited in the Organisations castle, it was you he collapsed in front of in tears." She reached up to brush his hair out of his eyes. He'd stopped really caring about the length since the last battle and it was longer again, though not quite as long as it had been when his body was restored. "We wanted to share the fruit with you, all three of us." She took a deep breath and then before he could move her lips brushed his again. "We'll get Sora back and then we can talk."
Thirteen of Fourteen worked diligently to upgrade the maturation chambers in which three children slept, their bodies changing as they were assimilated and forced to mature faster then was natural for their species. He barely even glanced at them, uncaring about anything except the survival of the Collective.
The Cube shook, sections exploding. The energy field had damaged the shields, radiation was pouring in, the ship working to adapt. Every drone was active, working on repairs. If they could not repair the systems then the ship may be drawn into the nearby black hole. The ship shook under stress but they continued to work, ignoring injuries and deaths. The engines strained but they broke free of the pull, only to fall into the gravity well of a nearby planet, the shields down. Every drone had its own shields but they were not made to withstand re-entry. The Cube began to break up but the drones continued to work.
"Captain, we're picking up a signal from the nearby planet," Harry announced.
"Specifics?" she asked as she looked over to the Ensign.
"It's being distorted," he answered, fingers flying over his console. "Captain! The signal is…of Borg origin."
"Red alert," she ordered, the normal lights immediately dimming as red lights began to flash through the ship. The Borg, wonderful. "Seven of Nine to the bridge," she called over the shops com and it didn't take the ex-drone long to arrive.
She immediately moved to a console, beginning to work on the signal. "It is indeed of Borg origin Captain, an automated distress beacon."
"Automated?" Janeway looked over at the younger woman.
"Sent when a Borg ship is too badly damaged for the systems and drones to repair, or all of the drones are dead. The Collective then sends more ships to salvage whatever they can. The signal is weak due to the radiation from the nearby black hole. I do not believe it will have made it very far beyond this system."
"Which means we could have an unmanned Borg cube lying around….we can't just leave it for anyone to find, it's too dangerous," Kathryn Janeway knew it could be a treasure trove but it could also cause untold chaos if a species like the Kazon found it.
"We may also be able to alter the transwarp technology to work with Voyager's systems if it is salvageable," Seven pointed out.
"Set a course Mr Paris."
"Aye aye Captain."
Seven made her way through the broken up Cube, avoiding the scattered remains of Drones. It was hard to be back among the Borg, even if they had ceased to function…to live. She could hear the whispers of the Collective and she was following those whispers now. Hearing the Collective meant something beyond the automated beacon was operable. Torres and Tuvok were working on the transwarp coils to see what could be salvaged and she had left them to their work to investigate, surprised they had not insisted she remain with them. Was it trust or necessity?
She stepped out into a wider corridor and found a single Drone working on part of the propulsion system. It ignored her, perhaps it didn't even know she was there, too involved in its work.
"Seven to Chakotay," she called after activating her combadge.
"Chakotay, go ahead Seven."
"I've found a live Drone," she admitted, watching it work. She carefully lifted her tricorder to scan it, reading off the data. "Original species is reading as human. It looks…young," she admitted as it turned. Young enough that she would have thought it would be in a maturation chamber, or perhaps it had been released due to the condition of the Cube.
"Has it detected you?"
She was about to say no, when a dull blue eye locked onto her, the red light of his optical implant scanning over her. Yes, the drone had been male originally. She found she felt…sad, not something she expected to feel around the Borg. It wasn't sorrow over no longer being one of them…it was for the drone before her.
"Yes," she answered the Commander, "it shows no signs that it will attack, it appears to be a maintenance Drone." Not that it made it any less dangerous than any other drone and she kept a wary eye on where she knew the weapon would be installed in the prosthetic arm.
"You will help repair," the Drone spoke dully but then jerked slightly, perhaps it was damaged?
"This Cube is too damaged to repair," she stated firmly.
"You will…" it jerked again, "help…me," the last word was barely audible but for a second his eye seemed brighter. No Borg used the word 'me'.
If only the automated signal was going out and not reaching the Collective…was it possible the Drone's connection had been damaged, the whispers she was hearing simply lingering echoes from the now dead drones?
She'd forgotten the channel was still open. "He said 'me' Commander. He seems damaged, I believe his connection to the Collection has been weakened if not severed."
"We're coming to you, be careful," he warned.
"Affirmative." She carefully holstered her phaser, Drones did not attack unless threatened. Although if he was cut off he could be unstable. "Help you how?" she asked, taking a cautious step towards the Drone.
"Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct…of Unimatrix 01," he stated, and she nodded, unsurprised he knew her old designation. "No longer part," he jerked even more visibly that time. His more humanoid hand lifted towards her. "H…help…"
Seven hesitated but then moved forward, lifting her own hand to take his. His behaviour was not that of a Drone and the Borg did not deceive in such a way. His connection was damaged enough that something of the originally personality was reasserting itself. She lowered her kit to the ground and reached within for a hypospray, all without letting go of the hand that was clinging to her own.
"Will you allow me to administer this?" she asked. "You are in pain, the medication should render you unconscious until we can help you." Theoretically, it would, but it had yet to be tested on a Drone. It worked on her but so did other methods that did not on a Drone. "You will not be harmed unless you attempt to harm a member of the crew."
"Voyager…Federation…Starfleet…enemy…" he sounded confused ,and she was worried that his cortical implants may have been damaged, if they had, then all they could do was let him die peacefully. "Help?" it was definitely a question.
"I do not want to be your enemy," she told him. "I was like you but now I am an individual again. We can help you."
"Yes, you can have a name if you wish." She wasn't sure that was what he was asking, but it was a good guess.
He seemed confused but then he turned his head stiffly, revealing a bare patch of skin, and she stepped in, pressing the hypo to it. He tensed as it was injected but didn't react further. He staggered a step away from her and tried to turn, stumbling.
"Here, sit down," she urged, pressing down on his shoulder and he folded to the ground, wavering. Either the drug was acting slowly on his system or it wasn't enough to fully knock him out. However, he also no longer appeared to be in pain, so that was good.
"Here," she called back, and Chakotay soon appeared with Tom Paris. "I gave him the experimental sedative, with his cooperation," she explained before they could ask.
Tom cautiously approached but the Drone did nothing but watch him placidly. "Can you hear me?" Voyager's primary pilot and currently only nurse asked.
The Drone stared blankly at him. "Auditory…functional."
"Okay, good to know. I want to give you more of the drug Seven did, is that alright? You probably feel pretty odd at the moment."
In response he turned his head to the side, revealing bare skin, but Seven remained ready to pull Tom back should he turn violent towards a human.
"Okay, please don't attack me for this," he murmured, placing the hypo against the skin.
Within seconds, the Drone had slumped bonelessly against the startled Tom, and Seven moved to help support him.
"Chakotay to Voyager."
"Go ahead Commander," the Captain answered.
"We found a sole survivor. Permission to beam him to sickbay? We're pretty sure he's injured but he's sedated now."
"Captain…he's a Drone but, he's young. He asked Seven to help him." The Commander explained.
"Very well, transport directly to Sickbay. I'll have Security meet you there. I want everyone back on board as soon as possible."
"Understood." Chakotay nodded to them, and Seven activated her own combadge.
"Seven to Voyager, three to beam directly to Sickbay," she told them, and then felt the effects of the transporter take hold.
Kathryn closed the channel and sighed. Was she doing the right thing in allowing a Drone to be brought on board? The security risks…she quickly called Tuvok's second to send some of their men to Sickbay. The Doctor wasn't at risk, he was a hologram but she could not endanger the crew. Still, a lone Drone, cut off from the Collective. If Seven was correct then he was already regaining some individuality, could they really not try to help him?
She was concerned about helping a second drone when work with Seven could still be very difficult. The younger woman was having a difficult time integrating with the crew, her attitude found to be abrasive. If Chakotay believed this drone to be young, then perhaps he would have an easier time adjusting, she could only hope so.
The Doctor was ready and waiting when the three appeared in Sickbay, even as the doors opened and two members of Security entered, heavily armed. "Get him onto the biobed," he ordered, Seven and Mr Paris moving the Drone to the main surgical bay. "Let's see what we have," he activated the bed, reading off the various displays. "Some cranial damage, cortical implants appear undamaged," he murmured to himself since he had found that others preferred him not to simply access the information internally. It was all part of becoming more 'human' for the crew and expanding beyond his original programming.
He quickly accessed his records from Seven's surgeries as well as those he had referenced for said surgeries. The Drone was human which was good since all records were for human patients. He did whish that Kes was still with them, she had the surer hands when it came to surgery than Mr Paris, but hopefully Seven and her knowledge of the Borg would even things out as they said.
Riku absently rubbed his chest, he'd felt strange for a moment, but it had passed and he shrugged it off. He nodded to Kairi who took her stance again and then attacked. She would be taking the Mark of Mastery exam with Ventus and Lea in a week and he wanted to be as sure as possible that she was ready. Their exam would not end like his and Sora's had.