Loss

"All my friends are ghosts who go away,

Fade and disappear more with each day..."

'All my Friends are Ghosts' Powerman 5000

Starfleet Headquarters

What was that old human saying, Admiral Sharas thought to himself, When it rains, it pours . . . The tall, slender Andorian had only just been briefed on the destruction of the Dominion by the Borg, when three Borg ships, a Cone and two Class 4 Tactical Cubes, were detected at the edge of Cardassian space. "It cannot be a coincidence," His voice was soft and sibilent, "First the Founders are annihilated by the Borg, and now the Borg are in Cardassian space," He rubbed the bridge of his slender nose, "It is obvious that this 'Exarch' Captain Janeway told us about is seeking vengeance for the massacre of his people." "But Borg don't care about vengeance." Admiral Paris pointed out. Ambassador Savar steepled his fingers, "He has, obviously, adapted. We have all read Taran Dibari's file, according to The Obsidian Order he was a highly unstable, borderline sociopath, and the deaths of eight hundred million of his people may have pushed him past that border." "That folder also said that he hated the Cardassian Union." Paris replied, "And Cardassian culture in general. That was why they recommended his termination." A chill ran through Sharas' veins, "According to the information sent to us by Voyager , Dibari believes that asssimilation is salvation, and it seems likely that he has taken pity upon his people. He wants to save them.." Savar nodded in agreement, "To quote an ancient human proverb, 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions.' We are dealing with a fanatic, and he no doubt intends to bring 'salvation' to his people, whether they want it or not." "And we have no power to stop him. God help him," Paris said softly, "God help them all."

The Cone

The red and orange lights flickered across the room, following the Exarch of Unimatrix One as he paced impatiently. K'erash gave the best approximation of a smile his distended, toothy jaws would allow, "It will be soon, my lord. We will reach Cardassia Prime in four hours." "They will fight, they will send every available vessel, other races will help them. Thousands will die." Taran hissed in frustration, "Why can't they just understand?! Why do they have to fight?!"

Starfleet Headquarters

"Do you think he'll go after the Breen? After all, they took part in the Massacre."

"We have no way to know, Admiral Paris, but we have warned them of possible Borg incursions, that is all that we can do." Sharas replied.

"This could be a diversion, to lure our ships away from Earth," Savar walked to the window and looked up into the night sky, "We had best advise the President to recall all ships which are closer to Earth than to Cardassia."

The Cone

Species 2000 had managed to gather a fleet of 21 vessels, including nine Galor-class warships, and it seemed every IKS and Federation vessel within sensor range was heading toward Cardassia Prime. One of them was the U.S.S. Enterprise. Taran shook his head, "Why? What do they care what happens to Cardassia Prime? They are enemies!" K'erash put a hand on Taran's shoulder, "There is an old human saying, The dogs may fight amongst themselves, but they are as one against the wolf."

If being a Borg is so wonderful, then why does every race you encounter fight so hard to prevent it? The memory came unbidden. The question gnawed at his soul.

He searched for The Queen, for reassurance, but she was preoccupied by the sudden arrival on Voyager of another Katherine Janeway, something about time travel . . . He did catch a disturbing note that the Federation vessel had discovered the location of Unimatrix One and the Primary Transwarp Hub, but it was irrelevant, they couldn't possibly cause too much harm, even with two Janeways. It did remind him, however, that The Federation had been in contact with Voyager for months now, they doubtless had learned a great deal about both himself and fighting the Borg.

Still hours away, Taran opened a channel to all vessels, speaking in his own reassuring voice, "Species 2000 - Cardassians. We mean you no harm. Do not resist, there is no need for further deaths. We seek to improve your lives and aid you in repairing the damage of the war." He would wait a little while, help them understand. Perhaps they would not resist. Surely they would understand.

Cardassia Prime

Elim Garak looked up at the sky, filled with ships of every shape and size, Cardassian, Federation, Klingon, even a Gorn vessel that had been passing by, all to fight a hopeless battle to protect Cardassia from a pitiful, deranged child capable of destroying entire worlds. He looked around at the ruins of Cardassia City, and could understand his drive to save his people. Noble, but deeply misguided. It was strange, how acts of mercy could become atrocities . . .

The fleet prepared itself. Transports were fleeing the system, carrying terrified civilians to sanctuary elsewhere. Garak would not leave, he could not bear living in exile again. He had prepared something quick, painless, probably better than he deserved. But he would wait, hold out his foolish hope to the last.

The Cone

It all happened so suddenly.

Hundreds of thousands of years, trillions of voices united in an ageless, endless song. Transcending space and time, life and death. That beautiful, beautiful song.

The song stretched taut like a bow, then snapped. Trillions of voices vanished in the wink of an eye. Those that remained screamed as one, and Taran screamed with them. He fell to the floor, suffering a seizure as the red and orange lights flashed wildly across the chamber, K'erash rushed to his side, holding his small thin form protectively. The web that was The Collective, and She who had woven it, seemed to crumble into dust.

Where is She? WHERE IS SHE?!

The Fleet

The Borg vessels stopped dead at the outer edge of the Cardassian system. Gul Macet, commander of the Cardassian fleet, was grateful for any delay on their part. He knew that even with all of the alien assistance, they could not defeat one Borg Cube, much less two Tactical Cubes. But if he could buy a few more minutes with his life, allow a few more of his people to escape assimilation, it was well worth it, and he knew everyone aboard his ship was willing to die for their people. Their homes and families, what little the Dominion War had left them, had to be preserved at all costs. But something seemed to be wrong with the Borg. The Boy's reassuring voice had stopped as abruptly as his ships, and long range scanners indicated massive fluctuations in numerous vital systems. The seemingly invincible Borg had become sitting ducks. It was as if all their computers had simultaneously crashed, leaving them paralyzed and helpless.

The Cone

She was dead. No. That was impossible, She was eternal, She was a force of nature. Unimatrix One had been destroyed, he sensed it, and the shock of experiencing the deaths of its trillions of drones had shattered the connection. That was all. It had to be.

She couldn't die. The Royal Protocol. Her consciousness would be uploaded into a new body, and She would come back, She would fill his mind once more . . .

Taran caught the transmissions from Earth even as the fleet did. Voyager's return brought with it the answer to his Mistress' fate.

A dying drone aboard an exploding Sphere that had pursued Voyager carried the answer. A Neurolytic Pathogen had been introduced into the very Heart of The Collective, The Queen Herself. She had been cut off from the entire Collective, Her Voice was silenced. She had been plucked from hive mind and left to die. When Her body had been destroyed, Her consciousness had been unable to escape.

She-Who-Is-All was, truly, dead.

Taran screamed again, holding his head, seeking to find Order. There was only Chaos. He was small and weak again, a child trying to rule a million star systems. His mind could only handle a small portion of the Collective, a few million drones out of two hundred thousand trillion Borg. Entire galaxies were suddenly cut off, thrown into Chaos, confusion. He could not imagine the deaths, the pain, the suffering that would occur.

He was glad he could not sense it.

Even aboard his own ship, there was Chaos. Some had broken away, and he could not bring them back. Tactical Drone 8 of 19, species 117, entered the control chamber with one thought, to kill the Exarch. The Hirogen's bladed servo-armature met K'erash's Bat'leth. Taran watched helplessly as the two warriors fought, blades brutally slashing, until K'erash severed the Hirogen's head from his shoulders. Taran had chosen almost all of the 5812 drones aboard personally, but a few had slipped through the cracks... And now there were over two-hundred drones aboard whose minds he couldn't see. He sealed the entrances to the chamber and ordered his loyal Tactical drones to protect vital areas of the ship.

The Cone rocked as Tactical Cube 5791 turned it's weapons on the Exarch's vessel, Tactical Cube 5792 moved between the two vessels and turned her weapons upon her sister ship. Taran was stunned, unsure of what to do, logically he had to retreat, but he still had loyal drones on both ships. Teleporters were down on the Cone. Both Cubes were taking heavy damage, and his control was slipping. "There is only one thing we can do, we must retreat until you can regain control of the situation." K'erash advised, "More than our lives depend upon your survival."

The Fleet

As his command ship, the Trager, drew closer to the Borg vessels, the full extent of the chaos became clear to Macet. The two Cubes were on the verge of destruction, and the Cone was badly damaged. And not a shot had been fired by Cardassia or her allies, the Borg were slaughtering each other. Gul Macet felt a twinge of pity as the Borg Cone was rocked by explosions and paralyzed by confusion. The Boy had meant well, he had sought to save Cardassia, (in his own twisted fashion), and he had avenged the deaths of eight hundred million Cardassians. But Macet was a warrior, and knew that sentimentalism could cost him the battle, even the war, to save Cardassia itself. Before he could make his decision, however, the Cone vanished into subspace even as the Cubes blasted each other into particles. Cheers erupted throughout the rag-tag fleet. The enemy had been routed without a shot fired. Only the Klingons were disappointed by this surprising twist of fortune.

Cardassia was safe, for now.

The Cone

The Cone slowly orbited a barren world, bathed in the light of a dying sun. Taran was diligently working to regain control as his drones worked to repair the damage to the Cone. With the shock somewhat abated, he now had total control of his vessel and about twelve others. He knew that it was only a matter of time, now. She had been the First. The Beginning. Now, he would be The Last, everything would end with his death. That was the only value his life had, now. The Borg were doomed, without The Queen's guidance, they were lost. Even now several powerful drones had begun forming their own bands, acting as warlords over mini-collectives. Most Borg had apparently cut themselves off fully from the last vestiges of Order and embraced Chaos. Anarchy reigned supreme across four quadrants. He saw only one hope for the survival of his small band, and it was highly improbable.

Diplomacy.

Surrender. Throwing himself upon the mercy of his enemies. And he knew, from long years of experience, that mercy was a rare quality indeed. His actions against the Dominion ensured that he would face a war crimes trial, but that was unimportant. He had to save both his remaining Borg and Cardassia. He still had to help ensure no more orphans would have to suffer as he had, and he knew Cardassia was almost as desperate as he was. If he could trade Borg technology for aid and protection . . . He could rebuild Cardassia using Borg technology, help the injured with Borg implants . . . On the condition that they make strict laws to protect orphans, of course . . .

He would have to do something, salvage what he could from the ashes of The Collective. There would never be another Queen, and now it was time to adapt to that reality. The Collective would be dismantled, the only question was, would it be orderly or would it be chaotic?

To Be Continued...

Notes:

'All my Friends are Ghosts' is available on the Powerman 5000 CD Destroy What You Enjoy Copyright DRT Entertainment, used without permission. Hopefully I won't get hit with a lawsuit. I personally think it's one of their best songs, and that's saying a lot for such an awesome band.

Tuvok stated that the Borg Unicomplex contained trillions of drones in 'Dark Frontier', and the crew of the Voyager destroyed the Unicomplex in 'Endgame'. What word do use to describe the killing of trillions of people? Omnicide? Is there even a word for it?

Unlike other Borg vessels, the Cone has red and orange lights instead of green.

Obviously, the order to execute Taran never reached his vessel.

Gul Macet appeared in STNG, played by Marc Alaimo, who also played Gul Dukat, (they were supposed to be related), he was one of the few Cardassians to have facial hair. The episode was called "The Wounded." His ship, the Trager, a Galor-class warship, also appeared in that episode.

Rear Admiral Savar was one of the Starfleet officers infected by the 'Bluegill' parasitoids in STNG episode 'Conspiracy'. He has been appointed Vulcan Ambassador, for this story, obviously. Since he will play a very large role in this miniseries, I will credit the actor who portrayed him, Henry Darrow.

Admiral Paris appears on Voyager and is the father of officer Tom Paris. He was in the episode 'Endgame' the events of which are the basis for this story. When seen on screen, he was not in a room with Savar and Sharas, (I guess they were in another room!)

I made up Sharas, based on the Andorian Ambassador Shras from the TOS episode 'Journey to Babel' but the name may have been used elsewhere, I've only seen two episodes of Enterprise, which had many Andorians.

I just needed a few random, high-ranking Starfleet officers discussing the gravity of the situation. It's just a random shot, not meant to imply that they are somehow the officers 'in charge' at Starfleet. I know nothing of Starfleet hierarchy. I know that they have a president, but how much power the president has I can't say...

K'erash, as revealed in 'The Road to Hell' is a Fek'lhr. He is a loyal companion and is given an unusual level of free will by Taran.

IKS- Imperial Klingon Ship

I came up with the Species Designation for the Hirogen.

Species 117 - Hirogen

Species 2000 - Cardassian

Species 5008 - Klingon and Fek'lhr

Species 5618 - Human

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