To Our Own

Chapter 6

She didn't want to go home. She wouldn't feel safe there. She didn't feel like she belonged anywhere anymore.

She didn't want to walk around the day after Halloween wearing a belly dancer costume, either, but where else could she change? The mall wouldn't be open for another few hours, and she didn't have enough money in her bra to buy anything decent anyway. Not that anyone seemed to care about what she wore. Everyone was too busy gaping at that stupid Borg cube.

She hated she knew what a Borg even was.

Like some big nerd.

She started crying again, and no one she passed on the street noticed or cared.

Being a Borg had been so awful. The most awful thing she ever went through. She hated it. Hated it.

She cried even harder.

She'd come so close to escaping assimilation too. She was only two blocks from home when she saw Cordelia slumming with Buffy and her friends, the school librarian, and a really hot college guy. The motley group was leisurely walking down the street like they weren't scared of the Borg catching them.

She should have ran over and joined them when she had the chance, but she believed she was better off on her own. She'd evaded capture for hours without anyone's help. Besides, they were heading in the opposite direction of where she wanted to go.

She was within twenty feet of her house when the Borg came marching out of the darkness. They were a horde, there was no other way to describe them. Borg filled the street and the sidewalks; they emerged from the surrounding houses, including her own. Many were newly assimilated, but a dozen or so were fully armored drones.

She turned and ran, but it was too late. The Borg swarmed in, surrounding her as she screamed and pleaded until she was cut off from every possible route of escape. Tubules bit into her neck as dozens, hundreds, of drones swept passed her. She couldn't tell which Borg infected her. Then she was left standing alone in the middle of the street as the horde moved on, and the nanoprobes did their work.

She remembered very little of what happened after her brain was fully assimilated, it was mostly hazy.

But every moment before then, she recalled with crystal clarity.

She couldn't move. Her muscles still worked. She had feeling in them, but she could not make them move. The Collective commanded her to remain still, to not resist, and she didn't. Couldn't, no matter how hard she tried.

She could not resist. She must not resist. It was futile to resist. Those were the last thoughts she had as an individual before her identity was absorbed into the Collective.

Within ninety seconds no more commands needed to be given, because she no longer desired escape. Even as nanoprobes consumed her brain, and flowed through her veins, and seeped into her bones, she felt no grief or fear. She/they only wanted to attain the singular goal of all Borg: perfection.

Assimilation was the path that led to perfection.

Everything else was irrelevant.

After the initial assimilation process was completed she/they received/gave the command to rejoin the drone horde. The drone she/they had become commanded/obeyed. She/They were no longer singular, yet she/they weren't just a cog in a vast machine: She/They were the machine.

All her/their thoughts had been so large, too complex to remember or understand as a simple, singular being. The only exception was when other individuals were added to the Collective. She/They embraced each new addition, and knew them in a way only the Collective truly could. The sensation of the new left such a powerful impression that even as a singular being she remembered when Cordelia was assimilated, and then soon after, Buffy Summers. In the span of half a second she/they knew everything there was to know about the two girls. In that same instance, they knew all there was to know about her and the countless others assimilated before them.

Then suddenly, she was back. Trapped in her small mind, alone in her useless, imperfect body, standing among others who had likewise been assimilated, ejected, and then abandoned.


So alone.

That feeling of crushing loneliness is what tormented her most. The insurmountable greatness that was the Collective had been torn away from her. Reducing her to insignificance, making her so terribly small, smaller than Perfect Cordelia or Brilliant Willow Rosenberg, ever made her feel.

She'd been hunted, overtaken, and transformed into a monster against her will, and all she wanted to do was go back to the thing that took her and beg it to embrace her once more. To make her a Titan again.

She cried for hours. She sobbed because she hated what the Borg did to her, she wailed because she desired only to rejoin their elegant majesty. She cried sitting on curbs, she cried as she stumble-walked on sidewalks, she cried standing in place. She cried until she couldn't cry anymore.

When her tears finally stopped she found herself standing in the middle of downtown Sunnydale, not far from the mall. The sky had taken on a beautiful orange and purple hue as dawn neared. Due to the early hour there was hardly anyone else around.

Not knowing what else to do, she decided to stand outside the mall and wait for it to open. As she slowly made her way there the earthquake hit, almost knocking her off her feet. She didn't notice the cube at first, she was far too distraught. Desperate to get out of her costume and forget the past eight hours ever happened. After the quake stopped she resumed her journey to the mall. Staring more at the ground than at what was in front of her until she bumped into a someone standing in the middle of the sidewalk.

"Excuse you—"

The man she bumped into wore military fatigues. He was a tall, good-looking young man with short sandy blond hair. He looked really hot in his army costume.

She wondered if it was good sign she could still be attracted to boys after everything she'd been through.

The man was looking up into the sky and she followed his gaze. Her breath caught. Her heart felt like it dropped like a stone into her belly.

Home. Oblivion. Hell. Heaven. The cube represented all those things to her. She didn't know if she wanted to run and hide, or raise her arms and beg the Borg to see her.

Instead, she cried.





When people began transforming into their Halloween costumes Riley thought he was hallucinating. He tried to call for back up and report what was happening in town, but there was no reply from home base, or the other agents on patrol. Equipped with a HT and an expandable Baton didn't present Riley with a whole lot of options, so he prioritized getting back to base.

There was so much chaos that maneuvering through town was easy, but slow going. The monsters were largely unfocused, attacking with no discernible goal or pattern. They mostly attacked each other, but when they did attack a civilian Riley quickly engaged. His interference gave the civilians enough time to escape to the safety of a building or a car.

An hour later, Riley encountered fewer and fewer creatures as he made his way to UC Sunnydale. The number of unaltered residents he saw also declined until the streets were quiet and empty.

Recognizing things had gone even more pear-shaped, Riley decided to abandon stealth and openly ran to the campus. He had a feeling whatever silenced the madness in Sunnydale would soon be coming for him. As it turned out, it didn't come for him, he ran into it.

"It" was a red-headed teenage girl wearing a burgundy top, a short, tight black mini-skirt, and wedge-heeled boots. The girl's face was chalk-white. Riley thought she was a skimpily dressed ghost at first. But as he got closer Riley heard her boots impact the side walk.

Not a ghost. Check.

The way she walked was odd: determined, predatory, but stiff. The way she put one foot in front of the other reminded Riley of a wind-up robot toy.

Still she was the first human Riley encountered in almost almost half an hour. Riley had no reason to believe she was dangerous; she could just be wearing a normal Halloween costume. She might even need his help.

Riley jogged toward her and tried to think of a way to convince a young girl walking alone at night that it was a good idea to follow a strange, semi-armed man back to campus.

Riley was ten feet from the girl when he noticed the strange black ornament on the left side of her face, and the black veins webbed throughout her exposed skin.

He was five feet away when he saw the silvery metallic glint in her eyes.

He was two feet away when every instinct in his body screamed at him to STOP!

Riley threw himself back just as the girl's left arm shot out and her hand clutched at where his neck would have been. There was more ornamentation on her hand that looked like part of a glove. The girl tilted her head for a moment before she straightened and lurched forward.

Riley realized instantly he had a decision to make: Fight or run?

The girl blocked his path to campus, but her movements were slow. He could evade her easily, or take a different street. The only rational justification he had to fight was the girl looked a hell of a lot less dangerous than the previous creatures he'd run across. She could be his best and last chance to bring a specimen back to the Initiative. There they might find out what was happening to the rest of Sunnydale, and how to stop it.

Riley telescoped his baton and waited for the robot-girl come to him.

After Riley took his first swing things went FUBAR fast. When the baton struck the girl's shoulder it sounded like he whacked a side of beef. She didn't flinch.

Riley aimed for her kneecaps. First the left one, then the other, and neither blow slowed her stride. Riley leaped back when she grabbed for him again. Riley swung two more quick, powerful blows at her kneecaps, his intent was to break them this time. The girl kept moving forward, seemingly unharmed. She didn't even bruise.

Riley quickly reached the conclusion he needed to put the girl down for the count if he wanted to capture her, so with his next swing he went for her temple. The blow might kill her, but he felt like he had no other choice.

The baton struck home. For a brief moment Riley thought he'd stunned the girl because she stopped moving. Then, faster than Riley could even blink, she snatched the baton out of his hand and tossed it away.

When she reached out to grab him Riley ducked under her arm and tackled her, his shoulder slamming into her midsection. The girl couldn't have weighed more than a hundred pounds, but it felt like he struck a brick wall.

She grabbed the back of his flack vest's collar and pulled. Riley tried to cling to her waist, but she was able to dislodge him and throw him to the ground.

Riley rolled feet several feet away from the girl and into a crouched position.

The girl was still slowly stalking forward, her cold, silvery-black eyes locked onto him.

What the hell is this girl? Riley wondered.

Was it a mistake to think she was something he could handle on his own? Maybe he should retreat?

Riley shook his head. He couldn't give up. Not when the answers he needed might be right in front of him.

Whatever the girl was she was sluggish on her feet. There had to be a way to take advantage of that. Riley stood and, when she was close enough, he launched a roundhouse kick at her head. Her head whipped to the side then forward again. Riley followed his first kick with a kick to her midriff and it didn't hinder her from taking a single mechanical step. Riley leaped backward, spun around, and used the momentum from his rotation to punch the girl in the face as hard as he could.

"Gah!" Riley cried out in pain, jerking his hand back after almost breaking it on the girl's head.

The blow did knock her head back, but just as before her head straightened. Not a mark on her. Not even her hair was mussed.

Riley fell back.

He didn't want to accept nothing he could do would faze her, but the evidence was mounting.

Should I run?

He wasn't tired and he hadn't suffered any serious injuries fighting the girl—if he hightailed it she'd never catch him.

No. One more try, then I'm out of here, Riley decided. He'd go at her with everything he had.

Riley expected her to take his blows like she'd done before, but when he threw three consecutive jabs at her face she dodged each one by tilting her head from side to side. His fists whipping past her cheeks and missing by millimeters.

When he tried kicking out at her she effortlessly intercepted his kicks with one hand and blocked them.

Every combination he attempted she evaded as though Riley was moving in slow motion. Riley used faster, but less powerful strikes, and she swept those aside with methodical ease as well.

Riley pulled back his arm, preparing put everything he had into one last right hook. But before he finished pulling back his fist the girl's hand shot forward and she was finally able to grab him by the neck.


Her words sounded like an electronic chorus.

And they sounded familiar...

She lifted Riley up by his neck until his feet dangled above the sidewalk. He punched her in the face, smashed his elbows and knees together against her skinny arm, but nothing seemed to affect her. At least not enough to make her drop him.

She raised her right arm and two metallic tendrils slithered out of her fore and middle fingers. Riley ineffectually kicked her in the stomach as the tendrils inched closer and closer.

Then her eyes changed.

They were still the same silvery-black metallic color, but Riley swore he saw them shift from lifeless and calculating, to bright, animated, and filled with unmistakable shock and surprise.

She 'eeked' and suddenly let Riley drop out of her grip.

Riley rubbed his neck and stared up at the girl. It was hard to believe the emotions playing across the girl's pale face were real. How could anyone's face go from dead-eyed to adorably confused that fast? It was like a different person was standing in front of him.

When the girl didn't make a move towards him, Riley, dizzy and lightheaded, unsteadily got to his feet. As he trotted back the way he came, the girl called out:


Riley shook his head.

How did he get his ass kicked by a girl who sounded that cute?


Riley ended up taking the long way round to UC Sunnydale. Along the way he realized the monsters were gone, but a lot of civilians suffering from clear cases of PTSD had taken their place. Most couldn't bring themselves to speak, but the few that could told him they turned into their Halloween costumes. Riley wondered what the girl who made him feel like he was on the wrong end of a blanket party was dressed as?

Some told him they were assimilated into the Borg from Star Trek.

The Riley who began what was supposed to be a light patrol mission that night would have dismissed the stories as mass hallucination. But the Riley that ran around town fighting pirates and tiny red-skinned devils with pitch-forks had a much easier time believing their words.

The robot-girl did say something about resistance being futile, and Riley was familiar enough with Star Trek to know that was the Borg's catchphrase.

It should have been Forrest out here getting beat up by his fandom!

Riley was in midtown when the sun started to rise. He'd spoken to dozens of witnesses before he decided to take what he learned back to base for people way smarter than him to untangle. He was debating rather or not to mention robot-girl in his report when the earthquake hit.

As an Iowan Riley didn't know much about earthquakes, but the quake felt larger than any tremor he'd experienced since he was transferred to California.

Thirty seconds later Riley saw an impossible black cube rise impossibly into the sky.

"Excuse you—"

Riley glanced away from the cube and saw a young woman dressed in a belly dancer costume standing behind him staring up at the cube with tears and longing in her eyes.

Within one second of coming into awareness, it knew it possessed no designation. It received no signal from the Collective. It was alone.

Within two seconds it processed the totality of Alexander Lavelle Harris's memories. It understood Borg were fictional creations. That it only existed through the power of magical energy.

Within three seconds it recognized it was surrounded by Species 5618. From there it surmised it likely was on Species 5618's home world, Earth. It noticed the 'humans' were transmogrifying into many different, unidentifiable species. Without being commanded by the Collective, it decided on its own to assimilate several of the transformed humans to learn about the phenomenon.

Within four seconds it assimilated a small transformed human attempting to stab it with a bladed weapon.

Within six seconds it had formed a connection to the new drone.

Within seven seconds it made the most unexpected and miraculous discovery: The magic that had transformed the human child was powered by Particle 10.

Within eight seconds it and drone 2 of 2 decided the Borg must continue at all cost.

Within ten seconds two drones had become four.

Within twelve seconds four drones became eight, and a Collective was created.