©00- 02 Levite/The Media Desk [see below]
[WARNING: Some situations may disturb sensitive readers. Some mildly adult situations.]
Continued from Part 1
This would be Day 12.
No, something in the back of my mind tells me its Day 13, maybe even 14. I really don't know.
But judging by how long my beard is getting, and I have to keep telling Paig and Polota that I want it to grow, it may be actually several more days than that.
I had another one on one research session with Maeoish in a central work area. Well, it was sort of one on one. Other than for brief calls, we are supposed to perform all collaborations in the 'public' area. Under scrutiny of one of the Leads. A Drone with no visible organic facial features other then some very thin pale green cheeks.
The group area, what I immediately labeled a 'Day Room', had everything you would need for heavy research and discussion except for privacy. Maeoish was a great facilitator and seemed to enjoy being the center of attention so it didn't bother him. He bounced questions off anybody within range of his penetrating voice, Special, Borg, and all.
Together we explored what everybody had ever learned about where and when anybody with a physical body had ever encountered anything that might have been the Q.
There were reports from all over the galaxy.
I figured out in a few minutes that Maeoish was using me as a sounding board. He had a long list of events and occurrences of every stripe. Extra-normal happenings from every world the Borg had ever encountered with events that ranged through an eon of time. He would pull up the account, and we would go through it. Some of them were all but signed by 'Q', outlandish events well documented, sometimes with physical evidence, others were other aspects of the nether world that Maeoish was unfamiliar with.
I explained three times what a haunting was before he caught the idea.
Telekinesis was also completely unfamiliar to him.
Although he was well versed in some things, others that I took as routine were alien to him.
"The spirit world I have studied had definite boundaries, perhaps I was mistaken." He said with his head tilted.
I tilted my head back at him. "I have found that in some cultures the line between this world and the other is sometimes so blurry as to be non-existent. To some people, the spirits are more real to them than I am to you."
"And the Q fall in that group."
"I'm beginning to wonder exactly what the Q are. They don't seem to be true spirits if you follow what I'm saying." He leaned forward a bit. I struggled to put what I was saying into words. "The Organians can assume physical bodies for our convenience, but while physical, they still retain their powers to watch the universe at large. The Q, when physical, seem far more limited. Its as if when they are corporeal, they are cut off from their senses."
Maeoish tilted his head thoughtfully. "But they still retain their power."
"Yes they do. But, if you look at the record, they don't seem to be aware of what's happening in the next room, let alone halfway across the galaxy."
He was silent. I expected my theory to be shot full of holes at any second.
"I've gone through all of the known Q encounters, some that are now thought to be, and those you have here that we think are actually Q. It's holding up to the inquiry."
"I agree. But I'm not sure what use we can make of it."
I frowned. "Neither am I, but it's a start."
We continued through more 'other than normal incidents' as his word for them translated. Our average was about one or two out of a dozen from the record. Telepathy, odd chance, holes in subspace, even a hoax or two paraded across the screens. Then we'd get one that I saw no other reason for than the Q or a local Q-like being.
A 'fingerprint' of the Q began to take shape.
Most often, their focus was on one being, or a small group. Other superior beings took interest in the entire race, or a division such as a city or country. The typical Q incident focused on one personality.
"It seems as if an extraordinary individual gets their attention." I said to Maeoish.
"Yes. It does. I wonder why?"
Later, back in my room. I wondered the same thing. I fell into an exhausted uneasy sleep wondering about it. Then after only a few hours, I was back at my work station, listening to Paig complain about my working too much, reading the Star Fleet files on the individuals Q had paid a call on. Then I looked at the profiles of others whom had had long term relationships with one of them. Including a Malforian that had been married to a female Q for some fifty of their years.
Traits stood out in every case.
Driven, intelligent, dedicated persons. Powerful personalities, values, strong wills and self-confidence were evident in the records. Even those that were what many would consider outlaws. The individual the Q contacted was an exceptional individual, above the crowd, an outstanding figure. Which raised another question, something researching the Q did more often than not, how did the Q come to know about this one person, one out of, in most cases, billions of others?
One of the thoughts that intrigued me was that a person of that caliber may make a dent in the Continuum. Much as a strong gravity well makes a dent in subspace, maybe certain types of personalities makes a dent in wherever the Q call home.
I tried to put my idea into words, then I relented to Paig's insistence and went to my chair to rest.
Day 16... OK.
I cannot stop thinking about that idea.
That the Q can sense a dynamic personality and are drawn to it as a moth to the flame.
Which could explain why the Borg have never had a direct encounter with the Q. They don't have a personality. Or they do, but it is one personality shared among however many drones. Even Polota, who had far more of an individual personality than most other drones, was far lacking in the category.
Even from what I'd seen of Two of the Fifth, he had more individuality than most drones. However, that was like saying one shuttle craft had more personality than any of five hundred others at a star base. Some pilots say they can tell number thirty-five from number two hundred eleven from number ninety, even if all were identically maintained. Somehow I don't believe them. I believe the matter is simply one of degrees of the same shade of gray. Which is what it is with the Borg. They ARE all the same, it is just degrees of that sameness. Which, if my theory was true, would repel the Q like a foul odor.
I had spent the entire day studying and writing and restudying and rewriting.
Polota came in, reviewed some of my work, and left. Paig got after me to eat. I took the plate she brought me and stared out my window at the deep reddish image of the proto-star that was just beginning to burn in the center of the sphere. Dozens of cubes had been at work on it, and just from my meager observations, they still had yet to get it just right. It would flare up, and the shields around the inside of the habitable area would glow and flicker, then the star would wither, and they would start again. My plate was empty, I felt closer to understanding Borg stellar dynamics than the Q. But I felt I had a handle on the organic life forms they found so fascinating.
More than simple uniqueness, more than drive and intelligence or creativity, it was some combination of all these things that drew them, and in a few cases, obsessed them. Perhaps it was something they did not possess, or could not perfect.
I continued my search for that answer in hopes that it would answer some questions about the Q themselves.
I was stiff and sore. My back ached. I was light headed.
I almost panicked as that same giant medical drone grabbed my shoulders and pulled upwards. But the relief I felt in my back was instantaneous. Polota ordered me to eat, then to regenerate in my chair for a full duty cycle. Paig stared at me and said she told me this would happen.
"But I have made such progress."
"Progress is good. But progress will be there in the next cycle as well."
I nodded to her. It would be.
After my meal and a long shower I collapsed into the chair. The medical drone grasped my legs and almost pulled me out of the chair, but the tension drained from my body. I sighed and fell asleep immediately.
I have no idea anywhere near what day this would be.
I slept for almost two duty cycles. Blatok woke me to check on me, and I almost went back to sleep. Except biological needs drove me to the shower room, then I just stayed up.
Paig brought me a huge breakfast, which I polished off in minutes, then asked her for more of whatever the fruit tasting stuff was.
"It's from my world." Was all she said.
"It was very good. Thank you for sharing that with me."
Paig's face was almost a smile.
It was a smile. Her smile.
Maeoish was delighted with my theory. We shared for hours in the Day Room.
He inquired about human and non-human traits alike. We compared races as different as it was possible for living beings to be different and came up with basically the same conclusions.
There were simply some people, with several traits from a list of very specific characteristics, that the Q found irresistible.
But there was no guarantee that any particular individual with those traits would bring in the Q. There was a variable missing.
"Pa." I said remembering a word.
Maeoish nodded. He understood the obscure reference. "That spark that makes such a person unique in their world. What makes a Jual-tar stand out even in his own most remarkable family."
I tilted my head. I had read about Jual-tar, from species 1029. His family had been nothing but a long line of rulers and soldiers and artists and philosophers. Every other generation or so turning out somebody that from any other family would cause the next ten generations to boast on them. But even from such a line of luminaries, Jual-tar was special. A painter and poet and statesman and, well, even as a youth in the military he had distinguished himself so as to account for anybody else's entire career. And as he ruled his division of the planet into it's Golden Age, the Q came to call.
Jual-tar vanished for over three years. And when he returned, he hadn't aged a day, and in fact, denied he had done anything but oversleep and was unable to grasp the time that had passed. But then, over time, he began to recall details. He drew maps of planetary systems so far from home they were not identified for hundreds of years, in fact, only after the Borg assimilated his planet were two of his sketches identified. He painted planetscapes and scenes of worlds a cosmos away. He drew schematics for vessels and machines unimagined on his world until then. The Q had changed the development of species 1029 through this one man's memory of his encounter with them. He even had a name for them, Jual-tar called them 'Pro-w-vah' or rendered into English by my Borg hearing aid, 'Those who do not laugh'.
Evidently the Q hadn't done a lot of laughing wherever they were encountered. Some of them seemed quite insane actually. Their powers, while always phenomenal, varied considerably.
One aspect of the Q fingerprint began to define itself clearly. Whatever they did, wherever they did it, and to whomsoever they did it to. It was never to the immediate or short-term benefit of the people they encountered. Only in the extreme long term did it come to good, and that was more in spite of the Q than because of them, owing to the resilience of the species they affected.
Not exactly malicious. The Q seemed more bored with their own existence and used these remarkable people to liven up their lot for a time. Then, bored with the diversion, they moved on.
Maeoish tilted his head.
I had been pondering it out loud.
"Correct. I think you have it." He said.
A drone came up to us and touched Maeoish's ear piece. Then he did mine, then the drone went to the central alcove of the Day Room. In a minute I saw and heard myself deliver my entire speech, complete with notes on Jual-tar and others like him, presented to myself, and every other Special and concerned drone on Borginia.
In my room I was still shivering from receiving the congratulations of 'Son of Four Days Walk' and others.
Polota was about as exuberant as a Borg could be.
"How do Humans celebrate such a feat?" She asked me.
I kissed her in spite of myself.
It wasn't quite as bad as kissing a resuscitation android in our University First Aid class.
"My species has a similar custom." She said. Then she grabbed my head firmly and pulled my face to hers, she placed her non-prosthetic eye against mine for a second. Then she released me.
"My species Had a similar custom." She said slowly. Her face shifted from her normally plain self. I knew she was feeling profound sadness.
"Tell me about them."
Her voice wasn't fully Borg. "Species... We were the Atonns. From the Salotic system in what you call the Delta Quadrant. Two worlds of beauty. Salos was rich in jungle, we lived there for ages, then moved to Warens. It was drier, but with great mountains. And valleys that you could loose yourself in for a lifetime." She grew silent.
"When did the Borg come?"
"I was still with my mother. Not born yet. I never saw Warens."
"How many people were there."
The moment was gone, the Borg answered. "Species 1341 was fully assimilated and added to what the Borg are. Salos now produces organics far beyond its capacity under their control. Warens was rich in raw materials."
"Was? What is it now?" I asked her.
"It is now home for Borg."
I gave up.
But Polota took a step back from the collective again. "Let us celebrate again."
... ... ...
I refuse to feel guilty about any of it.
Did I enjoy it?
I can't say. It was more than the biological function, but less than it could have been another place, another time.
But I don't feel guilty about it.
Paig seemed relieved. She whispered to me that now the Borg wouldn't watch as closely to see if I had been 'damaged'. She even told me there was a rumor that I could adjust some of my Borg implants to change various aspects of that function.
I filed that information for future reference, even though I had little intention of using it.
It seemed I started a landslide in the Day Room.
Every few cycles, one Special or another would be broadcasting some sort of new theory or information on the Q or how the Borg could work against them.
Some of the theories built on what had already been done, others contradicted some bit of something else, or broke new ground all together. I offered a refinement to something Maeoish said a cycle or two before, but I had run into a dead end. I needed a fresh approach. Or just time to think.
Paig took me for another walk. But this time, we didn't turn back. We walked for two full cycles. Finally, exhausted, I asked if we were going back.
"No. A little more, then we rest together."
I nodded and followed her.
We went into a passage with a series of tiny rooms, some barely a niche with an entrance. Some had people, or things, in them, others were empty. Paig found the one she was looking for and stuck a small token that was hanging from a bracelet she wore into a groove on the wall. A panel barely wide enough to call a door slid open and she stepped in, then she gestured for me to follow.
To me it looked like a detention cell. But it had a few features that indicated that whoever used it was intended to at least be comfortable. All I had eyes for in the tiny room was the energy shower and what looked more like a bed than a chair.
Paig took my robe to hang up with her wrap and helped me in the shower. Then, as the energy field of the shower lessened and stopped, I found myself holding her tightly.
"Don't let them make me into Borg." She said. "You almost done. Don't let them make me Borg when you finish."
"I have no intention of letting them make either of us into drones." I said.
Her eyes were burning reddish purple with emotion. "You promise me by your home, you will kill me before you let them assimilate me."
I stared into her eyes, "Before that happens, I'll kill us both."
She took my face in her hand and looked at me a long time. "I believe you. But how?"
"I have a way, but I can't tell you what it is, they are probably listening."
Her grip on my face tightened. I could feel my skin pulling at the Borg implants. "We rest now." She said with what was her smile.
I sat on the edge of the bed. It was far softer than my chair. It was a feeling I had forgotten to have something soft under me.
"How do you, humans..." There was a long pause after she said whatever her word for it was, which my Borg ear could not translate, then it came back with, "...interact?"
I had seen enough of Paig before to know we were at least somewhat compatible. I held out my hand to her and was delighted to find she was trembling.
"Usually we begin slowly and..."
"No talk. They hear." She said.
For some time, until I woke up the next cycle in fact, I completely forgot I was half Borg, we were God only knows where, on an artificial hollow planet, and I was helping to lay the plans for what could be the greatest military action the universe had ever seen.
I woke up first, and for a long time I just laid still and enjoyed the feeling of having her against me. But then she woke up and said it was best if we got moving again.
Paig led me out and we continued our journey for a short time.
It could only be called a mess hall.
All manner of everybody was there. Coming, going, eating, sleeping, just standing. I quit counting the different types and specializations of drones. Not to mention those that weren't quite Specials or unassimilated slaves. Paig got us two trays of something that seemed edible and two large mugs of something room temperature to drink from the central feeding area and we found a place to stand next to one of the great windows looking out at space itself.
One thing I've noticed about the Borg, they don't sit. Chairs and benches are scarce here, once in awhile at a work station you'll see a rail about a meter and a half off the ground, I've seen several Borg leaning against it, but never sitting down. I like to sit, at least once in awhile.
But after we ate we continued our journey.
In about an hour I was standing and staring in open amazement at the space doors of the sphere.
Vessels from one man scouts, in this case, one drone scouts, to the mega-cube things were going in and out at a breakneck pace. Almost oblivious to each other and how close they were to colliding with the sphere or another ship.
We watched this parade for awhile, then continued our journey.
At the crossing point 'under' the space doors I got a shock. The large foot and vehicle passage was rotating. I stood and looked at it all rather amazed. The drones and vehicles approaching us were on the ceiling.
"Gravity plating is reversed on the other hemisphere." Paig told me. Then she walked into the rotating cylinder and just kept walking. It carried her along until she stepped out on the other side and looked at me upside down.
"OK." I said and stepped into the cylinder.
I felt nothing as I watched the passage in front of me turn slowly. I looked back, the other side was moving as well. I kept pace with the stream of drones going my way and stepped out from the slowly moving cylinder next to Paig. Then we kept going.
After another full cycle Paig stopped walking along a corridor on the inside of the sphere with the interior void to our right.
"Use your Borg eye. Look across for a triad beacon." She said.
"What's a triad beacon?" I asked her.
"You will know."
I made a conscious effort to bring my Borg enhanced eye to bear. Then I saw something, it focused automatically. I looked closer, it zoomed in across the vast open area.
"That's our rooms." I said. I could see my workstation and chair room, with my extra robe hanging in the corner.
"We are almost halfway around the sphere." She said.
I couldn't believe it. We had been traveling steadily for what must be several days and making good time too. At times when there was a major thoroughfare with all sorts of vehicles and drones going at high speeds, we got on a moving sidewalk and were whisked along for several kilometers at very high speed. Other times we'd be alone in a tube passageway and could walk undisturbed by anybody or anything for hours. And we weren't even halfway around yet.
After another cycle of making decent time along our route we stopped again.
"Rest place." She told me as she tapped a panel, she wasn't satisfied with the first couple of screens and pushed several more indicators and used her bracelet tab several times. "Three, Eighty nine." She said. "This way."
"That way." I answered her.
We walked to the third tier, then down a long passage that ended actually going uphill.
The room reminded me of a hostel I stayed at in a city near a spaceport one time.
There was even a live plant in the room that smelled oddly familiar but I couldn't place it.
"Don't move." Paig said. She was standing at one of the controls. She did something to it.
I felt myself start to drift off the floor. "You're turning off the gravity?"
She smiled her smile, "I can't turn it all the way off, but I can get it close."
She was right, we weren't in free fall, but it was micro-gravity.
Then she adjusted the lighting and the windows. The room grew black, then the window tint vanished, the light from the stars outside filled the room. It felt like we were floating in space.
"The first few cycles I was here they experimented on us in a room with these controls. I watched what they did." She smiled again. "I learn quickly."
Paig bounced over to me by pushing off on the floor and using her hands to keep herself from hitting the ceiling.
I caught her and looked out at the universe as we drifted toward the far wall. "Thank you, it's beautiful."
"Borg never just look at the stars." She said.
"There's a lot of things Borg never do." I looked at her and held her close. Even though she was still an amateur kisser, she did quite well. Evidently she does learn quickly.
When I was entering this into my log I thought about going into some detail about how certain Borg implants were actually a good thing and Paig's response to my learning to use them. However. That is not what this is about.
Suffice it to say that I may not have fallen in love with my Third, but I was seriously infatuated with her.
The thought chilled me to my spine.
If it came to it, if it actually came down to it and the drones came in wanting to assimilate her, could I do what was required to end both of our lives.
I looked at her as we walked along the companionway that bordered a Borg shuttle bay on the inside of the hollow world.
I would not want her to be a drone. I could kill her.
Which meant that I might in fact love her.
If there was ever a star-crossed relationship, it was ours.
It's three cycles since we returned. And I still don't know how to enter the information on what happened after my realization that I was in love with Paig.
Way back when Two of the Fifth Branch made his speech, he said the Q have probably been eavesdropping on what was going on here. He seemed rather proud of that fact.
Well. They are.
OK. Let me go back to the Borg shuttle bay.
We crossed the entrance to the bay with Borg ships flying back and forth over us.
Except there were three of us walking together.
Paig looked at me and said we needed to take the left corridor.
I looked at her, then at our new companion, then back at her. She evidently didn't see him.
I knew. I just knew.
"Q." I muttered.
"At your service." He said with a slight smile.
"I thought you always wore the local costume when you appeared."
"You'd rather I appear as a Borg or a Special?"
"Very well." He said with a sneer. Then he was wearing a Special robe.
"Who are you talking to?" Paig asked me.
"Just thinking out loud. A human habit. Ignore me for awhile." I smiled to her.
She resumed walking a pace or so ahead of me.
"Why are you here?" I said to Q.
"To offer you an out of course."
"You're using my feelings for Paig as leverage to get me to abandon my research."
"You humans are always so keen minded."
A thought flashed across my keen mind. "You set her up to be selected that first day."
"You're quicker on the uptake than I expected. But I confess, although I had a little help, I did play matchmaker."
"Is my research that much of a threat to you?"
"Posh." He looked out at the star now glowing again. "Persistent aren't they?" Q scowled at it, then snapped his fingers. The star flashed brightly, then began to dim. The shields along the inside of the sphere reacted to the burst of radiation.
"If the Borg were incapable of attacking the Q in any fashion, you wouldn't even have bothered to notice their research, let alone to meddle with it."
"You've said we're capricious and do things simply to entertain ourselves."
"I've never said you were capricious. Although I might just add that to the list."
"Glad to be of service." Q bowed slightly.
We walked on for awhile silently.
"These drones are so... so... Droneish." Q said with great distaste.
"You get used to them."
"You can get used to ugly furniture. But at least furniture doesn't move."
Paig stopped walking. "We need to catch a transport through the construction area." She said.
I nodded. Q simply stood there and looked around.
One of the frictionless vehicles stopped and we got on. There were several drones already standing around. Q found himself standing right next to a large battered obviously well worn and fiercely strong construction drone with a huge backpack. One of his arms ended in a complicated pincher/welder contraption.
"You want to take the chance on ending up like this?" He said to me gesturing to the drone.
I shook my head.
"You want her to end up like that?" Q nodded toward a female drone with a great scar along her side. The Borg had removed her breast and arm for the fitting of a series of long tentacles with several different adaptive ends on them.
I looked away.
"That's what I thought. You think about it. I'll be in touch."
And he was gone.
OK, there it is.
Polota already had a transcript of everything I said, they also had recordings of static from Q's words from my Borg hearing aid, but it could not be translated into words. Everything Q had said came out of the Borg implant as noise.
I had gone through the existing images of Q in corporeal form. None of them were my Q.
"Is Human Doctor going to go with Q?" Polota asked me.
"No." I said.
"Why?" She asked me.
I knew from her expression that at least Two of the Fifth was listening in.
"I don't trust the Q. I don't believe him that we are no threat to them, and I don't think he was being truthful about them just shutting off your star to watch you refire it."
"We will re-ignite the star." She said.
"I know." I looked out my window, "And I think Q knows."
She walked up beside me to look out at the still dark ball in the middle of the sphere. "Why would our star be of concern to the Q." Polota said slowly.
"Another question we will have to try to answer."
She took me by the shoulders and looked at me. Her one natural eye stared at me intensely, her Borg eyepiece glared brightly. "You may be our greatest asset against the Q. That is why they fear you."
I almost blushed. "I bet you say that to all the Specials."
She looked at me oddly. "No. I don't." She said. Then she shook her head. "That has never been said to a Special before. By any Borg."
Her grip on me was powerful, almost painful.
I glanced over at Paig. She seemed terrified. She had been cowering as far from me as she could ever since she learned that she had been within a meter of a Q. The fact that they frightened her more than the Borg was enough for me to say no.
"The Q's offer was tempting, but... I really don't trust them."
"You will stay here. And help us defeat and assimilate them?"
I turned to the window. I felt a chill. I knew it. I just knew it.
Without turning around I spoke softly but clearly.
"Q is in the room with us." I swallowed even though my mouth was dry. "And yes. And no. I will do everything I can to help the Borg defeat the Q. But I will not help them assimilate them."
I turned from the window.
Q was there. Actually three of the Q were there. One of them I recognized as the Q that had appeared to Star Fleet on several occasions. My Q's face was tight and angry, his eyes were burning yellow.
"Told you so." The Star Fleet Q said looking down his nose at me.
Polota turned toward the voice.
"They are Q." She said.
"You are Borg." My Q answered her.
"You will be assimilated."
"I don't think so." The Star Fleet Q said and whipped his arm up.
Polota vanished in a burst of light. Paig screamed and dropped to the floor.
"Bring her back." I said to the Q.
There was a furious pounding on my quarter's outer door. Then I heard the hum of energy weapons. The door began to glow.
The Q did not move.
"Bring her back or I will help them assimilate you."
My Q nodded. The Star Fleet Q made a small motion. Polota was back.
"We cannot be assimilated." The Star Fleet Q said.
"Then you will die." Polota said forcefully and with real anger.
The door blew in, but the Q were gone.
"Hold," Blatok told the drones that flooded the room with weapons at the ready. Polota told them that the emergency was over.
They walked slowly out, but my Second stayed in the room. A couple of the warrior drones looked disappointed that they didn't get to use their weapons.
Polota put her hand on my shoulder again. "Thank you." She said.
"I heard you tell them to bring me back. And I..." Her voice trailed off. She looked at Blatok with confusion on her face.
"You are not Borg." Blatok said.
"They're gone." She put a hand over the exoskeleton that covered her cranial implants. "They are gone."
I walked to my replicator. "Standard issue Star Fleet Tricorder, current model." I said to it. In a moment I was examining Polota with the instrument.
"The implants are still there, they've just been rendered inert." I turned her around and ran it down her body. Her abdominal implants were still active. "She's a Special now."
Blatok called for a medical drone.
Polota looked at me. "I don't know what to do." She said.
"I do." I looked at the drone as it came in. "Make sure she is healthy for her species. Do not attempt to re-activate her cranial implants."
The drone stopped moving, it looked at Blatok. "Confirm." It said.
It scanned her much as I had just done. "Functioning normally for Special class." It said.
"Dismissed." I said to it. It left.
"This is not the way it is arranged." Blatok said.
"Was it arranged for me to have three Q in my quarters at once?"
Blatok was silent.
"Then we'll keep things as they are. The Q did this for a reason. I will find out what it is."
Blatok stood silently for a second. Then she spoke in an even more Borgish voice than normal. "Arrangement approved." Blatok even took a deep breath. "This drone is now your First. A new Second will be assigned. Former Drone Polota is now Fourth."
"We don't have Fourths." Polota said.
"WE do now." Blatok said with great emphasis.
The three of us sat in my quarters and watched a team of drones replace the door that had been blasted open.
Two of them removed the damaged door, another repaired the mechanism and the door frame. The two that had taken the door away returned with a new door, the three then replaced it, while a fourth drone simply stood there and watched.
Polota walked to the door, it opened and she looked out. Then she came back in. "I don't have anywhere to go." She said. "I can't use a regular alcove for regeneration."
"No problem." I said. I went to the panel and spoke to it in English. Through my Borg eye I could see the display changing my words into Borg and sending the message to wherever it was going.
"You ordered another Special alcove for in here?" Polota said. "The Borg will not comply with that request." To my Borg hearing aid as well as my own ear her voice sounded similar to the way she used to, but slightly different in a pleasing way. She still spoke the only language she had ever known, Borg.
"I'm betting they will." I said.
"They need him." Paig said with her smile. "They will keep him happy."
"And I do not intend to push it so far that Two of the Fifth will change his mind."
Polota sighed. Something I had never seen her do before. "I need regeneration."
"You need food." I said. "What did your people eat before they were assimilated."
She looked down. "I do not know."
"The Borg do, think about it."
Her real eye wandered for a minute. "Something called norda ceem. Yes. Norda ceem and surry."
I went to the replicactor and repeated her order. In a minute, it materialized.
I took the large oblong plate to her and told her to sit at my work station to eat.
She did so rather awkwardly. Then she picked up the implement that looked like a cross between a two-pronged fork and a deep bowled spoon and cut into the large solid light brown lump on one end of the plate. Steam poured from it.
"It smells good." I said.
She tasted it. "It tastes good too."
Then I ordered her one of my favorite Earth drinks, root beer. She seemed to like it.
The other side of the plate held something that looked like some sort of noodles covered with a very heavy cream sauce. She tried it and pronounced it good as well.
I gave in to my grumbling stomach, and ordered two more plates of the same thing.
About halfway through her plate, Paig said she didn't like the lump that was the norda ceem, but she cleaned up all the surry.
For somebody that had never eaten solid food, Polota did quite well. She ate about half of what she had. And it stayed down.
Then a large four armed drone opened the chair room door. "Special." It said in a rumbling Borg voice.
"I'm the Special." I said going into the room.
My ear translated whatever it said into, "Regeneration chair for new Special."
"Put it over there." I pointed to the corner between my chair and the window. "Comply." I added Borg-like.
It looked at me with what was almost a snarl. Then it walked in. But it didn't have a chair with it. It went to the indicated spot and did something to the wall. Then it put a small pad on the floor and muttered in Borg.
A chair materialized right where I had wanted it. Then the drone got busy with his four arms and connected various cords and hoses and other accouterments between the chair and the wall. The lights and indicators on the wall and the chair came to life.
"Installed." The drone murmured, and began to walk out.
"Thank you." I said.
The drone stopped and turned back toward me. It muttered something else that my ear didn't even try to translate, and left.
Polota came in and stared at the chair. "But I've never slept before."
"You're in for a treat." I grinned.
I heard what had to be a sob from the office room. As Polota settled in the chair I went to see what was bothering Paig. But I already had a good idea.
She was standing in the corner where she first materialized in the room with a look of helpless resignation on her face.
"I'm not going to let them take you away. We'll need you more now than ever." I said softly, "I'll need you more than ever."
She looked at me. "You have her now."
I shook my head. "No. She is still Borg. Q did this to her for their own reasons. Which is two reasons for me to not trust her."
Paig looked past me into the chair room. "But she is Special now."
"Exactly, and as a Special, she'll need a Third. You have two of us to take care of."
Her smile returned. "So I am still your Third?"
"As far as I'm concerned, you are my First." I took her face in my hand like she had done to me.
I knew Q was watching. But I didn't care. I kissed Paig anyway.
Concluded in Part 3
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